Thor's Hammer Backup
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Alright, I've locked in the autopilot. It should be smooth sailing from here out. Smooth sailing as long as our passenger back there stays unconscious. Where did you say you found him? Really? That many? Well, I'm glad he's doped up then. Ugly bastard. Not the worst I've seen. Hmmm? Oh yeah, I've been around the block. When you're the pilot of the Foundation's only close support gunship, you get a lot of shit thrown your way. Tell you what, it's gonna be a long flight. You make some coffee, and maybe I'll tell you some stories. Yes, I'd like cream.

Thanks man. Where to begin… Ah! I know. My very first call. This one actually happened before I was part of the Foundation proper. I was just a young pilot in the air national guard. Turns out my base commander had a special relationship with the Foundation. Always willing to lend a hand when needed. That's something people would be surprised about, I think. How much of their tax dollars actually go to helping the Foundation. Don't get me wrong, they'd be relieved, but surprised too. To know how much goes to an organization that officially claims no government affiliations. But I'm getting off topic, aren't I? Where was I? Ah, yes.

One day the base commander calls me and my crew into his office. Tells that we're going on a surprise training exercise, that it would, in fact, be live fire. We get to the target zone, middle of nowhere, Arizona. We're not seeing anything that looks like a target and our loiter time is getting low. Me and the crew chief exchange glances. I radio back to base for instructions, and the commander tells me to stay out there. Oh, another odd thing thing was that there was no tower. As far as I could tell, it was just the base commander giving us instructions. So I'm signing off, giving my copilot a look, and as I turn around for one more pass, I see it. What looks like the biggest lizard I've ever seen is tearin' across the Arizona desert like a bat out of hell.

Yeah, I see you know who I'm talkin' about. The big guy. 682. So I radio back to my commander. "Uh sir, we have what appears to be a large lizard in the target area. Requesting permission to engage." I'll spare you his reply. Suffice to say, we opened up on the bastard. I have to say it was a pretty sight, the shell bursts and HE impacts tearin' him to shreds. Pretty right up until the point it grew wings and came up after us. I threw the plane into a banking ninety degree turn to avoid the ten-ton mass of pissed-off lizard flying at us. I could actually feel the airframe around us vibrate and complain. Somehow, we made the turn, and the next two.

Now, I don't know if you know this, but the AC-130 is not made for dogfighting. We're juking all over the sky trying to keep this asshole off our backs, while he does his damn best to shoot us down. Did I mention he's shooting some sort of crystals at us? I can hear them pinging off the hull. Eventually, I decide to end this bullshit. I pull the AC-130 around to give my gunner the shot. That man was the best damn gunner I ever had. He was with me before I was officially attached to the Foundation, and he lasted until he contracted some sort of memetic agent through the sights of his gun. I hadda put him down myself. Damn shame. So anyways, my gunner, he gives 682 two shells right down the throat. That bastard screamed so loud I figured it was some sort of sonic attack, but that did the trick. 682 started falling to the ground. When he hit he musta made a crater deeper than I am tall. That was the last I saw of him, just lying there in that crater. Looked almost peaceful.

We spent the ride back to base in silence, just tryin' to process what we'd seen. When we got back the commander told us in no uncertain terms that we had seen nothing, heard nothing, and most of all, we had certainly shot at nothing. I spent the next two weeks off duty, tryin' my best to forget that shit. Just a tip, but alcohol works just as good as any class-C. Just when I hit bottom a man came to see me. Said he had a job offer for me, and here I am.

What? Why go through all the bother of hiring me? Why didn't they just give me a class A? I actually asked the brass about that a couple years ago. They told me that we actually weren't expected to take down 682 that first day, just delay him. Said it was a suicide mission, that they were impressed I survived. That's right, the asshole actually said to my face my survival was "unexpected." Hell yeah, I was mad. Now, though, after seeing what we're up against, I think I understand. We need suicide missions sometimes, and at least I don't have to order people on them. Besides, they're not so bad. 682 was my first suicide mission, but it sure as hell wasn't the last. Maybe I'll tell you about them sometime.