The lone White Falcon cruised unhurriedly above the crystal-clear waters of the North Atlantic, its sleek lines slicing the air like the wings of its namesake. There was barely a ripple on the sea below and not a hint of a cloud in the summer sky. It was almost difficult to tell where the sea ended and the sky began.
“Symphony Angel to Skybase – Confirming routine patrol completed, nothing unusual to report. Returning to Skybase.”
“SIG, Symphony,” Lieutenant Green signed off and the communication channel closed.
Symphony checked her course and then took a moment to enjoy the scene. It was beautiful and, even with the roar from the Falcon’s engines, strangely peaceful.
The plane flew on, homing like a great metal pigeon on its return flight to Skybase, now a mere 20 minutes away.
A few minutes more and Symphony’s eye was drawn to something on the port side.
It was a mass of clouds, sweeping in from the west. They were dark and threatening, in juxtaposition to the brilliance of the day.
Symphony was puzzled. The weather reports indicated clear skies and good visibility for at least another 12 hours. The clouds also seemed to be moving rapidly, despite the lack of wind. How odd.
Before long, the first wisps from the leading edge of the clouds were crossing her flight-path, streaking the canopy with droplets of moisture. She could hear ominous rumbling from the main mass off her port wing.
“Symphony to Skybase – Be advised I have encountered an unexpected storm, I may be a few minutes late.”
“SIG, Symphony,” Lieutenant Green replied, “It just appeared on my tracker. That’s weird, I didn’t expect a storm today. See you soon.”
Symphony pulled back on the controls and felt a momentary exhilaration as the nose of the aircraft pitched higher and the engines throttled up from their idle cruising.
She was climbing higher now, trying to get above the worst of the weather. But no matter what she did, it seemed to Symphony that the storm was somehow staying with her. It was as if it had surrounded her aircraft like a dark and malevolent cocoon.
She pushed her engines harder, increasing the fantastic thrust to compensate for the buffeting from the storm.
Then the first tendril of lightning struck the Falcon.
Symphony had experienced lightning strikes in aircraft before and they didn’t usually faze her. But this was something different. When the brilliant, purplish-white bolt of energy struck, it wasn’t in a split-second snap – it lingered for a second or two.
That was enough time for Symphony to know that something was very wrong. The lightning didn’t just strike one spot. It moved across the surface of the Falcon as if it was alive.
A second bolt struck. The plane shuddered. Again the strange pattern of plasma moved over the surface of the craft.
What was it?
Seconds later a third surge struck and the power went out.
The cockpit was plunged into darkness and the engines, full of life just moments before, were dead.
The Falcon’s momentum carried it a little higher, but relieved of its thrust and computer-assisted control it began to fall.
Desperately, Symphony fought to regain control. The instruments were still dead and as she tried to restart the system, she could already tell it was hopeless.
The Falcon was spiralling downward, faster and faster with each passing second.
As the tumbling white shape finally fell out of the storm, Symphony shut her eyes against the glare of the sun on the ocean, now clearly visible again.
She knew that she only had seconds left to act.
The escape pod circuits were dead, so she pulled the emergency lever for the transparent canopy. It blasted away and seconds later Symphony was hurled into the air by the powerful rocket ejection chair.
The howling wind threatened to pull her apart as she did everything she could to stabilise her free-fall.
As the sea seemed to rush up towards her, she pulled her ripcord and the dazzling colours of the Spectrum parachute canopy rippled open above her.
Below and to her right, she watched as her aircraft smashed into the surface of the ocean, shattering the flat-calm with a terrific explosion.
Symphony landed some distance away with a comparatively gentle splash. She cut her canopy loose and activated the compact life-preserver in her flight suit.
She spoke into her helmet microphone, “Symphony to Skybase, do you read me?”
There was no response. She was about to try again, when the words died in her throat.
The sea around the wreckage of her Falcon, previously a brilliant blue, had suddenly become a very vivid shade of green.
It glowed and pulsated and then a green mass of energy seemed to rise out of the water and move into the sky.
In fascinated horror, Symphony watched as the shapeless green mass became a more clearly defined shape – a sleek, white shape, one that Symphony recognised all too well.
When the Mysteronised White Falcon had fully materialised, it was already moving and quickly soared high into the sky, bound on the same course that Symphony had been flying just minutes before.
As Symphony floated on the surface, a tiny speck in a literal ocean, she knew two things for certain; whatever the Mysterons needed her plane for wasn’t good, and that whatever happened, she must warn Spectrum at all costs.
TO BE CONTINUED…