Title: Waltz Tango Foxtrot
Author: Moonbeam's Predilections
Genre: Stargate SG-1/Transformers 2007 movieverse
Word count: 1950
Prompt: Quote #16 - “I know, a little melodramatic, but you know what they say, one scary sound is worth a thousand threats.” -Rhys in Laurell K. Hamilton's Caress of Twilight
Waltz Tango Foxtrot
You wouldn’t think a top secret, does not exist but-everyone-knows-it’s-where-they-test-a
Area 51 was just about the most boring place on Earth, Jack thought, when it was the site of unending budget meetings that degenerated into petty playground squabbles between the Joint Chiefs and the IOA. Four days, already. Four days Jack had wasted sitting in interminable levels of over-airconditioned hell in plush secure boardrooms deep beneath the hot Nevada sun.
Well tonight, he decided, he was breakin’ out!
Contrary to popular belief among the conspiracists, Area 51 did not actually have a fleet of alien aircraft housed in its hangers. In fact, it didn’t have a much of a fleet at all. The facilities here were geared toward designing and building weapons and aircraft – the X-302s had been created here, but once tested, the finished products were shipped into service elsewhere. About all Area 51 got to keep were the rejects, the failures. Broken scraps of once beautiful aircraft left to rust in the sun. Area 51’s only fleet was an graveyard of faulty designs and failed experiments. There wasn’t much around here that could fly at all, let alone was still air worthy.
Except the absolutely sweet looking F-22 Raptor Jack had spotted out on the back tarmac during his lunch hour escape attempt on the first day.
She was shiny and new, no markings at all save for two small purple insignias on her wings. Not even a pilot’s name tattooed beneath her crystal clear cockpit. Which meant no one was partnered with her, no one had claim.
Try as he might, Jack hadn’t been able to find any information about the pretty Raptor in the base. He might have thought her just another hapless toy of the geek squad (a pretty shell, but practically useless) had Jack not noticed she’d changed position a couple of times between his admiring visits. They were incremental shifts to be sure, not seeming to budge from her assigned patch of tarmac, but it almost appeared as if she kept turning into the sun to best highlight her sleek lines and powerful wings.
Jack, at least, was a very appreciative audience.
“Hello, beautiful,” he purred his customary greeting to the Raptor as he stroked a hand lovingly along her nosecone. “Didja miss me? I missed you. Thought about you all day long, couldn’t get you out of my head. Found myself stuck on one constant thought: what’s a sexy thing like you doing out here all alone by yourself? A shining star like you deserves to be streaking high in the sky, making all the others jealous of your might and superiority.”
Jack grinned to himself, patting the nearest thruster as he finished circling the Raptor, successfully completing his final safety inspection of the jet. Laughing naughtily, he glanced furtively back at the base before donning his helmet. His, er, “borrowed” flight suit, commandeered earlier during a particularly long break between hellish meetings, creaked as he climbed up to the shiny cockpit.
“Let’s say you and me spread our wings and fly, gorgeous!” He flicked at the latches to open the glass canopy.
The latches stayed stubbornly locked.
“Oh, fercryinoutloud! C’mon, baby, open up now.” Jack wheedled the jet plaintively, coaxing with his voice all the while his fingers scrabbled trying to find the trick to releasing the unyielding catches. “Don’t you wanna soar in the wind, dancing through the clouds, rising so high ‘til there’s nothing but an endless field of stars above and the ground so far below you can barely see it? Don’t you want to feel the air brushing over your wings, your turbines sucking more speed in with every spin, sending power thrumming through your systems?”
“Just let me in, sweet thing, and I promise I’ll show you such a good a time you’ll never wanna come down,” he murmured persuasively. Through the thick flight suit, it almost felt as if the jet was trembling beneath him at his words. One of the catches even gave a little as he worried at it gently.
Encouraged, he continued sweet-talking the F-22 until at last, success! All of the latches snapped open with a decisive click.
Jack whooped, scrambling into the seat as the cockpit shield raised automatically. “That’s it, pretty star! You won’t regret this, beautiful, that I promise!”
The jet shuddered violently as Jack switch on the battery, hit start and put both throttles into idle. The engines roared on, a ripple of power waxing through the powerful aircraft from the right to left wings. All the subsystems and avionics came on line and the built-in testing checks went off without a hitch. Smiling fit to skin a goose, Jack was ready to take her up in less than 30 seconds.
God, he loved Raptors!
The take-off itself was almost ridiculously easy, the jet gliding along and lifting off smooth as silk, anxious to get off the ground now that she was given the chance. Jack laughed in delight as he arced her gently upwards, aiming for the fading afternoon sun. Then he did as promised and showed his beautiful a delightfully good time.
At cruising speed, a fully fuelled F-22 was good for about three hours flight time. But with the playful manoeuvres Jack was pulling as he danced with his pretty Raptor across the blue, blue sky – even occasionally sweeping her down close to the deck within Area 51’s restricted airspace just for the adrenaline rush before climbing high again – he knew he’d be burning through his fuel far faster than normal. But he couldn’t help it! This gorgeous Raptor was just so damned responsive! Everything he asked of her, she pulled off with a grace and speed he didn’t remember any conventional aircraft being capable of. The engineers at the base must have hit a real winner when they tinkered with her systems to make her this adept. He couldn’t stop praising her, constantly complimenting her performance at every twist and roll and dive.
And every time he did, he swore he could practically feel her satisfaction as she performed the next trick better than the last.
She was a marvel and he told her so. “I haven’t been flying like this in longer than I care to admit, gorgeous, but you are making every minute worth it. Last thing I flew that even came close to how you handle was one of Sheppard’s Puddlejumpers, but the inertial dampeners take away a lot of the fun even if they do read my mind. But you! You fly like you mean it, like you were created for nothing more than mastery of the air and even the sky itself knows it. This is your home up here, starling, and you shine so brightly!”
Flying always did bring out the best in him. Sara used to ask if she should be jealous of how he could wax poetic about planes but only put his foot in it when he tried it on her. The memory made him smile just as much as the textbook tailslide he sent the Raptor into.
An angry crackle of the radio interrupted before he could get too deep into his moment of zen. Jack sighed as the base personnel, having finally caught on that he wasn’t actually supposed to be up here despite his attempt to fudge the clearance, calmly and forcefully told him get his butt back on the ground because with all due respect, what the hell did he think he was doing, General, sir!
“Trying to have a little fun with a gorgeous dance partner,” he muttered to himself, but he knew he was busted. The jet seemed to agree, her performance suddenly faltering like she’d hit a patch of turbulence. When he keyed his own radio to acknowledge the no-holds-barred ‘request’ to return to base, an angry squeal of static shot over the line.
“Easy, sweetheart,” he stroked the control column and the jet settled down a touch. “S’not their fault, they’re just doing their jobs. Anyway, we’ve been up here a while so you’re probably getting a little low on fuel. What’d you say we head back to base and I buy you a drink, starling?”
As he pitched the fighter jet back towards the base, some high-pitched chirrs and beeps like a fax machine going haywire echoed through the cockpit and caused the HUD screens to ripple. It was somewhat concerning as it was the first sign of trouble he’d seen in his flight, but as the F-22 continued to fly smoothly towards home he didn’t worry too much about it. Maybe it was just the Raptor’s way of expressing her displeasure at being ordered out of the air.
The landing, when he made it, jolted him uncomfortably with little of the inherent grace the Raptor had shown in the air. Ah well, with as long as it’d been seen he’d been up (flight simulators not included, a perk he shamelessly abused his rank of as often as possible) he was bound to be a little rusty. He patted the throttle apologetically as the Raptor powered down.
“Sorry, starling, I don’t like it either but we can’t stay up forever.” The jet vibrated petulantly around him, a few of the mechanical modem noises counterpointing the usual sounds of quieting turbines and cooling metal.
As Jack climbed out to meet the swarming personnel coming to meet him, he couldn’t help wincing in sympathy with his pretty little star as she screeched in protest of her rough treatment at the hands of the ground crew. In trouble or not, Jack wasn’t going to stand for that kind of behaviour.
“Hey,” he yelled, “be careful! This here’s far too fine of an aircraft for fumble fingers, you treat her with the care and respect a lady like her deserves! And make sure you top off her tanks, I promised her a drink after our dance.” The ground crew nodded and went about their duties a little more gently.
“Don’t worry, starling, they’ll be good to you from now on.” Then he caught the sight of the base commander, surrounded on all sides by Joint Chiefs of Staff and pissy IOA politicians and cringed. “Them, on the other hand, aren’t going to be so easy to handle. Oh boy...” He straightened his spine to meet them firm in the knowledge that he didn’t regret a moment of his rebellious little foray.
Jack received a lot of tight stares and a cleverly-disguised but thorough dressing down from General Schwartz that he took stoically. But as the crowd of angry brass moved on from remonstrating him to disparaging the presence and lax security of F-22 Raptor, Jack grimaced. The jet’s squeals seemed to increase in pitch.
“It’s not gonna work, starling,” he whispered to himself as an airman escorted him to a vehicle for the short drive back into the main base. “Protests aren’t going to work on that bunch, they only understand a good threat.” He’d learned that all too well during the past week’s budget meetings.
Just as he was being led away though, the Raptor’s engines suddenly growled with the most spine-tingling rumble Jack had ever heard. Everyone took a startled step back from the sleek jet.
Mostly because the F-22 was supposed to be completely powered down and turned off by now. Jack looked back suspiciously at it sitting all alone bathed in the light of the setting sun, and grinned.
Huh, they sure did know how to make ‘em here at Area 51!
Author’s Notes: Yes, I realise this is completely improbable, so what? Just go with it – Starscream did, and he had fun! Even if he did get called a girl. *eg*