Two states away, the Sword rose into the air and turned north east. It’s uncanny like GPS navigation system settled at 270 kph miles an hour and 500 metres in altitude, avoiding natural or man made obstacles. Manuel had struggled to find the machine’s preferred solid state fuel, but had found a bio diesel alternate, which caused it to smoke from its single exhaust.
An hour later, all these separate incidents started to come together. The police chopper having directed cars to intercept the Evo, was now running low on fuel so turned back to base. Ed, the police officer had just blown up his car engine, in a failed attempt to catch up with the Evo and was limping off the highway to await a tow truck.
As the chopper began gaining height for its run home, the Sword flashed by it in the opposite direction 10 metres off its starboard side creating a wake turbulence, which upset the air around the rotor blades of the helicopter.
The pilot was fighting to right the machine, using it’s pitch and yaw cyclic controls, which seemed not to be having an effect. The chopper went into a downwards spiral, with the pilot now looking for a safe place to land and the decision was taken out of her hands as it toppled over, impacting with Sheriff Ed’s police cruiser on a slip way off the highway. Luckily there were no serious injuries, as all clambered out gingerly. Questions were soon being asked and even in the dusk , Ed had seen the flash of the black drone as it went past, allied to the fact that as a reserve soldier, he had served in Iraq so was able to recognise the Sword.
High level calls were made to the Air Force, Homeland Security and the National Security Agency about the sword, which was now approaching its landing point in Maumelle Park, Little Rock. The park had been closed to visitors, due a virus affecting wild animals but the members of the Conquistadores had snuck in and set up base there. A lengthy concrete footpath next to the river would serve as the runway and the gang had set up a battery powered signal generator at one end of this strip, which the Sword locked onto for its descent.
Bang at the estimated time, the Sword hove into view of the gangsters, even though it had no landing lights on, with its spindly landing gear coming out and made a perfect three point landing. It’s advanced 1200 horse power turbo prop engine reversed itself and slowed to a halt. The Conquistadores jumped out of hiding and unlatched the pod under the Sword, following cell phone instructions from Manuel across in Mexico. The cellophane bagged, very pure cocaine was transferred to the minivan, whilst one of the men licked his finger and stuck it into the air to gauge wind direction. Before the Sword landed, the gang had already measured off 1000 metres marked by placing on the ground, a Tech 9 automatic weapon, in anticipation of turning the drone round for its return journey.
Elsewhere state and federal authorities finally began to coordinate their efforts, although the premise reached, was that the Sword had gone rogue or was in rogue hands that was using it to target America in a terrorist attack. The stage of alert was just below Defcon 4, a prime emergency status. Computers had fixed a trajectory based on the interviews conducted with the hospitalised Sheriff Ed Macy and the police copter pilot, showing the Sword heading in a north easterly direction towards the seat of the US government, Washington DC.
At the White House, President Obama was physical lifted by his secret service bodyguards into Marine One, a helicopter for onward flight to Andrews Air Force Base where Air Force One made a rolling take off, escorted by twenty air force fighters to circle out over the Atlantic, until the situation was resolved.
Vice president Biden, was left to hold fort at the White House. All buildings, agencies and the military began to gear up.
The klaxon went at the Little Rock Air Force base, notifying the pilots to go to Alert Status. This was the home of the 188th Fighter Wing, a Reserve Unit flying the oldie but still goodie A-10 Thunderbolt, which packed a punch with its superb GAU Gatling gun. The A10s also carried the AIM 9 Sidewinder.
Captain Jake Podowlski (call sign McDee) due to his love of the popular junk food, raced along with his wing man, one of three pairs of pilots, out of the Ready room and scrambled up the portable steps into the cockpit of the A10. Twirling a finger, he signified his intention to start up his engines and within three minutes, the pair of planes was taxiing out for a formation take off. Already in the air above them, six F16 Vipers, call signs Reds One to Six, were taking up a combat air patrol or search pattern for the Sword 3000 metres and above, whilst the A10s would cover everything below 3000.
McDee behaved like an old Southern boy, even though he was only of second generation Polish immigrants.
He often expressed Southern attitudes to the fact the President were a black man. ‘I know as a military officer, I have to take orders from my Commander In Chief, who is a coloured boy’ he would say, with affected Southern tones in the pilots’ ready room ‘But by heck, it surely does rile me up something fierce to have to do that’. His wing man, a misnomer surely, was Jumoke Erinle, a female of Nigerian-American descent who chose to ignore his rants, because she feared she would be accused of using the race card but there was no love lost between both.
The A10s got airborne and McDee got on the radio and told Jumoke ‘Stick by my side, girlee and I’ll make sure you are ok, Miss Equal Opportunities’ implying that she only became a pilot as a consequence of affirmative action.
Joanne responded ‘Delta Sierra’ which stood for Dumb Shit as they commenced a 200 kilometre radius orbit.
In the mean time, under cell phone instructions from Manuel, the Sword had been turned into the wind, its propeller started and since it was now much lighter with its cargo gone, positively leapt into the air. It climbed to a thousand metres, before descending back to tree top level. Manuel, listening to a radio monitor,was now aware that the US was on high alert, and the best thing would be to crash the drone destroying it. However being a born gambler, he wanted to get it back into Mexico, where they could use it time and again to move millions, if not billions of dollars of drugs north of the border.
When the Sword climbed first to a thousand metres, McDee’s airborne radar picked it up momentarily. ‘To all aircraft, I’ve picked up the Bogey although it was just a bleep about 50 miles south of Little Rock. Girlee, lets spread out and go to full combat power.’
Three thousand metres above him, the F16s responded as well. ‘Red One copies and will fly cover on you’.
The two A10s went into a finger spread formation and cranked open their engines to its full subsonic speed of 300 knots. They crossed over each other to sweep the space below with their radar. At Air Force Command, there was consternation that the terrorist drone was now heading south, instead of north east away from target rich environments. However, assets including an Airborne Early Warning Command (AWAC) aircraft were deployed to support the A10/ F16 package flying at high speed south of Little Rock.
The AWAC’s radar which sat on the top its fuselage, was rotating looking for the target from eight thousand metres and suddenly, it had a ping on its system. The radar operator noticed a small blip flying relatively slowly, quite low on the ground. It couldn’t be anything else, so the AWAC called up the F16s on a secure radio frequency. ‘Mother to Red One, we have a target for you which I’m uploading by data link now’.
‘This is Red One, That‘s affirmative, Mother, I have the Sword now on my system heading southwards towards the Mexican border but be aware there are also two A10s in the weeds, quite low’
‘Mother here. Red One, you are free to fire’
‘Roger that, Mother. Fox One, Fox Two’ firing two missiles at the target
This radio communication was making McDee and Jumoke nervous. Jumoke called him up ‘McDee, they do know we are in the line of fire..right?. Please verify’
McDee replied ‘Girlee, don’t be afraid. We work for the best air force in the world. We don’t make mistakes’
‘Yeah right’ Jumoke thought. Bohica ..meaning Bend Over, Here It Comes Again. ‘Bullshit’.
The launch of the sidewinders by the F16s activated the radar threat system in the A10s, the tone changing from pips into a long pitch, meaning the missiles had locked onto the wrong targets, the A10s.
‘Defensive measures Girlee, or we are dead’ McDee shouted and at the same time released anti missile flares, whilst weaving to put off the missiles.
Too late, as one of the missiles locked on to the heat given off by his A10’s engine and exploded. At an altitude of only 2400 metres, McDee activated his ejector seat and as he was blown out, the second missile contacted with his plane killing him. His last thought was ‘Damm Nigger president’s killed me’.
Jumoke shouted on the radio ‘Knock it off. Friendly is down. I say again Friendly is down’
Up in the AWACs and F16s, shock and horror dawned at the death. Jumoke pushed her stick forward and went lower as her radar picked up the drone again.
‘I have the bogey on my radar. Everyone one else, back off. I’m taking lead’
The AWACS commander replied ‘Negative. A10. Negative A10. Return to base.’
Now angry, Jumoke switched off her radio and went after the target.
In Washington, the fact that the chase was going out of the US to potentially violate Mexican airspace, was creating edginess. Calls would be made to Mexican President Salazar. Before that was done, the gaggle of aircraft entered Mexican airspace, with the Sword heading back towards Manuel.
Under the darkening skies of Juarez, Manuel stood by the dusty road with the leaders of the Conquistadores drug gang flanked by his out of sight ex SAS led bodyguards. As the Sword landed and rolled to a halt, the gang were grinning from ear to ear, as their reusable drone was back. High fives were a plenty, when out of the sky came Jumoke’s A10 Thunderbolt diving down. She hunched over the controls looking out of the Heads Up Display or HUD and pressed the trigger of her Gatlin cannon. At a rate of 3900 rounds of depleted uranium shells a minute, Omar/ Manuel/ Tayo, his bodyguards, the Mexican drug lords and the Sword disappeared into smoke.
Jumoke took the A10 back to altitude and headed home.