Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

Title to be decided pt14

“T! Lets send Little Bird out for a look.  She has the range so that we can get an idea of whats ahead.  We don’t like what we see, we change direction.”says G, sitting in his chair from the passsenger position in the RV, looking at T standing on the side of the road. West Memphis is 40 miles away, but the clouds from something burning are clear.  Whatever is burning is BIG.

“I can pretty much say that I already don’t like what I see. Memphis has had racial trouble for a long time, and this looks like it may have boiled over. ” he swears under his breath then adds,”yeah, lets get LB up cuz I may be wrong.”

G mutters “finally”, reaches down and undogs the latches holding his chair in place, then scoots back into the RV.

There is no traffic on this section of road, a few miles from interstate 40, and T uses the tarmac of it as runway for Little Bird.  As the GPS takes over and LB starts flying by program, T settles a set of VR goggles on his head and starts head swiveling. At his left hand is a control module, reminscent of a playstation controller.  A line from it runs into a box mounted in a rack of radio equipment and amplifiers.  These take up a small amount of space, but are mounted ceiling to floor.  Throughout the RV, ceiling height is 9 feet, this being a sportsman styled RV intended for living space as well as a rolling garage for off-road toys.  The back half of the RV is loaded with plane assemblies, fuel tanks, and stacks of ammo cases, some for rifle ammo, some longer ones from artillery shells. These are strapped securely to the walls in such a way as to balance side to side in the vehicle.  Towards the drivers area, is a kitchenette, a set of bunks and G’s virtual flying rig and a set of wall lockers separate the cab from the living space with a curtained aisle wide enough for G’s chair between them. A bathroom is contained in what looks like a broom closet opposite the bunks.

With Damocles wingless, her fuselage is 18′ in length, and she is strapped to the floor for travel. Hanging from the ceiling is a wingless F18 also 18’in length.  Hanging from racks on the wall are the wings for both planes.

“G, pull of some maps, we need to reroute around this, and from what I can tell, due south or due north. There’s no way I am gonna try to go throught this mess.”

G starts up the PC and asks, “What are you seeing?.”

“West Memphis is burning all the way to the river and I see at least two more large columns of smoke east and south  of the Mississippi.  Whatever is going on, we need to stay well clear of it.  From what I can see, north looks like the better option.  Any routes on the map?”

“A couple but the next bridge is just across the border of Missouri. Too bad nobody does the ferry thing anymore.  ”

“There are a few, but I doubt any big enough to handle our rig.”

“Hey, check this out, there are two towns up here by the name of Jericho and New Bern: here in Arkansas.  I thought that show was based in Kansas or the Dakotas or something.” G says with a little laugh.

A small chuckle from T,”Jericho.  I remember that show.  Started off pretty good and just kept getting crazier and crazier as it went on.  Wonder if thats whats going on here in Memphis, societal limits getting breached now that the dollar went all peso.” 

“Dunno.  Can you see any details?  People or whatnot?”

“Not really.  Altimeter says I am at 2500′ .  Not a whole lot of detail from a 120º lense at that height.  You know that though.”

“Yeah, I’d love a set of cameras like they have in the predator drones.  Wicked smooth images and able to read the newspaper from 10000′.”

“And the gov paid five times the actual cost I bet.  ”

Wouldnt doubt it a bit.  Maybe thats something we could work towards though, using regular lenses from a SLR camera or something. I know my dad had a telescopic on his old Nikon that really reached out there.”

Silence from T.

G catches that silence and adds, “well, maybe when things start to stabilize some. We gotta pretty good setup with what we have.” You can almost hear the blush as it crosses his face.

“Thanks. “T replies. ” We have our hands full just keeping fuel in the rig right now.  And until we get to Ashland, we have little hope of getting any decent kerosene for the planes.  What do we have in the tanks for the planes again?”

“About 80 gallons.  Thats 12 hours for one and 8 for the other, but not both combined; Either, or. They both drink like whales at speed.  And the 18 doesn’t like slow.”

“Guess its a good thing the 18 is mission limited then, eh.  I’m curious to see how you do when your turning radius triples in size?”

“Sez the engineer.  You’ve seen how a good tight bank can cut a turn in half or more, and what a plane can do in a snap turn defies imagination.  I built the airframe specifically to handle higher forces than Damocles can handle. Dont need her flying apart at the seams while dogfighting any helos. I should be able snap roll her in less space than Damocles uses thanks to a shorter wing span, but the downside is I have to fly faster to stay aloft and keep the surfaces biting air.”

“Thats your balliwick, I have enough fun just keeping Little Bird in thermals.  Ya gotta new route yet?”

“Yeah, but it aint nowhere near a straight line.”

Welcome to the south brother, only crows know straight lines and the distance between point A and point B will be twice or more than that straightline.  My pappy told me the people laying the trails way back when did it to confuse the hell out of the Government types.  I think they did it to not have to blast cuts into hills and such, but both answers work.” T pauses a second then adds,”we gotta car or truck headed our way. You wanna talk to em if they stop or do you want to take over flying?”

“Well, if they stop, you’re  more the diplomat.  But I can program LB to loiter over us for retrieval when they are gone, and we can cover each other. I’ll even record it if you want.”

“Do that, it may be nothing, but,,,”

-to be continued-


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