Empire Airport, Part Three – Pilot In-Between Flights
Noor was the captain of one of the AN-224 specialized aircraft that has just returned from a 17-hour cargo flight to the Southern Hemisphere. The entire crew already had left the aircraft and was rushing to get to their families. They were lucky enough to leave just before the incident. Captain Noor liked to be the last person on board. He sat in the cockpit and smoked a cigar at his leisure, knowing that no one would disturb him.
He had a family and he loved them very much but what he loved most was being in the air. He loved the folders with secret locations that he had to burn after reading. Everything outside his AN-224 was vague to him and served as a support mechanism so he could fly.
He thought about his family, friends and colleagues. How he loved his wife and his two girls. How he provided for them, took them on vacations, had dollhouse tea parties, bought them gifts. How he entertained his friends in his house with aged port and cigars and pushed his habits on them; how they invited him to their parties and how he went reluctantly. He didn’t like to be entertained.
He didn’t mind the stiffness of his colleagues at the Empire Airport and his military liaisons. They never talked to him unless it was about a mission. Some of the weaker clerical soldiers tried but he used his superiority to cut them off. He only indulged in conversations with equals or higher-ups. He was ambitious and focused his ambition in growing his security clearance, which usually meant whiskey and cigars with the Controllers. The opportunity for such occasions were not many, so he stayed sharp — and waited.
He considered every aspect of his life off the AN-224 while he waited. He was in full control and had it together better than anyone he knew. He fought against his aging flesh with regimented exercise, balanced meals, vitamins and minerals. And he knew that his mind was as sharp as ever and had a long way to go that way. He despised the weak and the lazy.
Noor smoked a cigar in the cockpit after every mission. He used this time not to rest but reflect on his past decisions and make plans for his future ones. He never rested. His quiet time was interrupted by shots and explosions from the headquarters a couple of miles away. He looked through the cockpit window but could not make out details. Only a few military vehicles and foot drones in a great rush. Then his aircraft moved.
Screeching sounds of metal bending against its will came from the entire length of the hull. The forward lever magically shifted ahead and the wheels started turning. Noor pressed on the emergency break but the big red button was not functioning.
He lifted up the receiver and dialed the control tower. “Captain Noor to the control tower! Captain Noor to the control tower!” He repeated several times. Finally, someone responded.
“Captain Noor, we are under telekinetic attack. What is your status?”
“I am inside Bird 441 and something is pulling us toward you, Control.”
“Captain Noor, all our forces are concentrated here and dying like flies. We are waiting on air support 15 minutes out. Until then, you are on your own. Over.”
Captain Noor put down the receiver and smiled. This was the opportunity he had been waiting for for years. He knew everything about telekinetic hackers and how they acted as if they were gods. But he also knew that if by being in their blind spot, you could take them by surprise. And fate has put him just there in the center of a unique opportunity to leap forward.
He put down his cigar and put on a high-altitude, armored suit with a sealed space helmet with an autonomic air supply. He changed the air tank with the largest one available and hooked a backup to his belt. Then he took all the ice bags from the freezer and put them under his feet. He knew it was gonna get hot and thus took every precaution.
By the time he strapped himself in the pilot chair he could see that the airport security could not hold the hackers. Three more AN-224s had been pulled in and all four stood now in strategic proximity around the arrow. The captain started the engines that were still warm from the long flight.
He saw the other three ANs lifting from the ground like toys and his own 441 was levitating. Not yet, thought the Captain. The aircraft surrounded the arrow and stood still for a moment. Noor could see the two hackers from his current vantage point. They were in the open, standing still, nothing extraordinary about their appearance, except their intense concentration. He knew that if he broke that concentration that they would drop the aircraft. The moment was near. The four ANs swung outward in sync. In that very moment, Captain Noor accelerated all six engines to full torque. The airport stood still for a telekinetic second.
all chapters: Empire Airport
more by MILEN VASILEV
photograph by unsplash