|Airwolf 25 years on... (fiction)||Airwolf vs Airwolf
Story and non-original characters © Owen Hodgson. This story is Fan Fiction.
All characters, events and corporations depicted in this story are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A I R W O L F
T H E W O L F P A C K
This is the second "episode" of my Airwolf "TNG" story, following on from Legacy, where we were introduced to old and new characters.
Legacy was written to be about an hour-and-a-half long, forming a traditional "pilot" episode. This is shorter, coming in at about 45 minutes - about right for a normal episode length. As with Legacy, it has been written as a kind of "compromised screenplay", with script-like dialogue, but without any "CAMERA pans around to the right" detailed direction.
To summarise the story so far, in Legacy, the original Airwolf, long stored and obsolete, was stolen by Christopher Moffet (son of Charles Moffet, Airwolf's designer). In a bizarre co-incidence, Emily Coldsmith-Briggs (daughter of Archangel) is witness to this and becomes involved in its attempted recovery. The FIRM recruit Moffet's other son, William, to assist, discovering that an old test airframe from the Airwolf project ("Nightwolf") exists at Moffet's family home in England (it does start to sound corny like this, doesn't it?). William and Emily seek out Christopher Moffet, who has allied himself with arms suppliers, but not in time to stop Airwolf supplying weapons for a major terrorist attack. Airwolf and Nightwolf eventually face off, however Airwolf is victorious, destroying Nightwolf, although observers believe that Airwolf was destroyed in the battle.
In the process of the story, both of Emily's parents are killed by Christopher Moffet, and William Moffet is assumed dead in the wreckage of Nightwolf. He has survived, badly injured. The FIRM offers Emily a test-pilot's job flying a new prototype helicopter... Emily is considering it.
This story is aimed at mature readers. It contains a little strong language, some mild violence, and references to other adult themes.
Note for Purists
If you're not interested in Airwolf without the original cast, don't read on. If you want a fantasy of how it all might have turned out, please do!
[The desert. Mid-day.
Distantly a four-by-four speeds along a dirt track, kicking up dust, gradually getting nearer.
As we watch it approach we see the track curving towards us. The vehicle hurtles towards us, and almost at the last minute slams on its brakes, skidding and slewing across the track, coming to a dusty halt a couple of feet from William Moffet's near-unconscious body, lying prone in the road.
The driver leaps out in shock.]
DRIVER: Holy Jesus God Damn!
[William's eyes open and he tries to focus on the bull-bars looming over him. His voice is barely a dry whisper. He is sunburnt, cut, dehydrated and exhausted.]
[Two weeks later.]
[Red Star Control.
Emily Coldsmith-Briggs emerges from a changing area, dressed in a flight suit. Thor joins her and they head down the corridor purposefully.]
THOR: How's the move going?
EMILY: It's just about done. The apartment is empty. The last of my things arrived at the Ranch yesterday.
THOR: Are you sure the Ranch is the right place for you?
EMILY: It's my home.
[Thor accepts this.]
EMILY: [With an undercurrent of hidden enthusiasm] So what's the plan?
THOR: This morning's demonstration is for the Senate's Anti-Terror Committee. They've flown down from Washington especially.
[As they move through the building they have to stop to sign clearance forms and show ID.]
THOR: We've hidden a couple of terrorist hideouts on the range...
EMILY: ... and you get to show them just how wonderful this ship is at finding them.
THOR: That's the idea. You get to try her out this afternoon.
[Emily suppresses her eagerness.
They pass through a set of doors and out onto the rocks outside the main building. Noise levels increase with the sound of a helicopter hovering nearby, voices shouting, instructions being issued and small knots of observers gathered here and there (military, government officials, technicians, etc).
Also around the area are two or three large viewing screens, offering various camera views from around the test range, plus a cock-pit pilot's view from the helicopter.]
THOR: Come over and meet the other pilots.
[He leads her to where three other flight-suited men stand, all aged in their twenties. The helicopter from which the noise and downdraft is emanating is off to one side, hovering and out of focus.]
THOR: Gentlemen - this is Athena. She's joining us as a Test Pilot on the Wolfpack program. Emily, this is James Deacon, Andrew Holden and Vic Gunther.
[They shake hands. There is some wry amusement amongst the men. Emily notices.]
THOR: [Looking around at the helicopter] I think they're just about ready.
[He moves away from the group, attracting the attention of another man nearby. Emily turns to look at Wolfpack One, which is hovering nearby, landing gear extended.
It resembles Airwolf superficially, but has a longer main cabin, a slightly different profile to the turbo intakes, a four-blade rotor system and a modified cowling for the rotor turbines.
It is painted a kind of irridescent off-black that blends subtlely to silver grey underneath, giving a kind of metallic shark effect.
The engine sounds resemble Airwolf, if a little smoother, although the four-blade rotor gives a less choppy sound than its predecessor.
Emily stares at it with some admiration, weighing it up.]
EMILY: [To herself] It's longer... Heavier? The proportions are a little different... Shinier!
[One of the pilots moves over to her, pointing.]
DEACON: [Condescendingly] The spinning bit at the top is called the rotor.
[Emily turns to stare at him in something close to astonishment.]
EMILY: Uh huh? Which is the bit you'd like me to ram up your ass first?
[He laughs and retreats. She turns away again to watch the hovering helicopter.
The voice of an MC is broadcast over the external address system.]
MC: Ladies and gentlemen, if you'd like to gather around, we're ready to begin this morning's demonstration.
[The various gathered observers move off towards seating arranged near the screens. Emily wanders over and stands to the rear of the seating area.]
MC: Wolfpack One is the first of five prototype Surveillance, Seek and Destroy - SSD - helicopters, designed specifically to combat the present-day terrorist threat at home and abroad.
[Wolfpack One slowly moves forward and takes up a hovering position infront of the seating area.]
MC: Developed from the top-secret Airwolf design, this aircraft is a unique combination of aerodynamic lifting body, fighter aeroplane and helicopter gunship, and is equiped with not only the most advanced weapons systems currently available, but surveillance and infiltration technology from the cutting edge of scientific research.
[Wolfpack One slowly rotates to display its lines to the crowd.]
MC: This morning we are going to demonstrate the Wolfpack SSD capabilities to the full. Somewhere out on the test range we have positioned two simulated terrorist hideouts. Our pilot has no prior knowledge of their location, and we've also placed civilian ground and aerial activities in the range to more accurately reflect the kind of challenge the Wolfpack will face in active service.
[Wolfpack One turns sideways on to the crowd.]
MC: You can follow Wolfpack One's progress on the screens - so let's see what she can do.
[Immediately Wolfpack One's landing gear retracts, the nose drops, the engine tone smooths out and it accelerates swiftly away.]
EMILY: [With awe] Ah.
[Wolfpack One skims low over the desert floor, picking up speed.
Here and there vehicles drive to and fro. A light aircraft swoops down in a fake crop-dusting maneouvre.
The crowd watch progress on the screens.]
MC: You'll note our pilot is moving low and fast. This doesn't give him much chance to analyse his surroundings, however the onboard sensors are working far faster than he could, analysing buildings, vehicles, radar, infra-red and other inputs, looking for tell-tale indicators that could lead to the target.
[Inside Wolfpack One sirens sound. The pilot, with visor concealing his features, immediately checks readouts on the Head-Up Displays, and slows.
Wolfpack One's tail drops, and there is a roar of reverse thrust as it slows and turns hard, dropping down low behind rocks and climbing slowly to peer over a ridge.
In the middle distance is a group of dusty buildings with a few vehicles outside, and a water tank on a tall frame. Wolfpack One hovers.
The pilot hits a button marked "Audio Suppression". Engine noise drops. Power indicators show a marked drop off. The external rotor sound slows and diminishes.]
MC: OK - he's onto something. The Wolfpack sensors have highlighted the cluster of buildings ahead as a possible target. Our pilot has engaged Audio Suppression mode - this reduces engine power and rotor speed to the absolute minimum needed for hovering and very slow flight, but it also cuts noise levels by about 75%. He's using this to buy time and do a full sweep of the target.
[Inside Wolfpack One, the pilot's view is enhanced and zoomed in to the buildings. He can see a man sitting outside. Two children run into view from behind the building, chasing each other.
The pilot immediately cancels the Audio Suppression and swings Wolfpack One around, away from the ridge and out across the test range again.]
MC: [With amusement] And as we saw, this time it was a false alarm. Obviously it pays to be cautious when approaching potential terrorist cells, but equally we don't want to be seen to be terrorizing ourselves by hovering over innocent folk's driveways!
[Emily is impressed.]
[Wolfpack One curves gently across the desert floor.
From over a ridge a Hughes 530, kitted out as a gunship, bursts into view, flying straight down towards Wolfpack One.
Instantly, Wolfpack One turns towards it. There are bleeps in the cockpit, and displays flash information on the 530 to the pilot. The pilot's trigger finger nudges a control on the cyclic.
Weapons deploy - rail-guns from the stub wings, and rocket tubes from the belly. In addition, two sidewinders slide out from pockets below and inboard of the turbos, either side of the rocket tubes.
The Hughes 530 opens fire. Wolfpack One's pilot pulls the main trigger on the cyclic and one of the sidewinders tears away, replaced immediately by another from within the fuselage.
The 530 explodes, the whole engagement taking less than seven seconds.
Wolfpack One's weapons retract.]
[The crowd is stunned, and many people stand up in surprise.]
MC: Looks like we need to place a re-order for remotely-piloted gunships.
[People relax a little, some feeling a little foolish.]
MC: We just threw that in to keep our guy on his toes. He's still got two hideouts to find.
[Wolfpack One speeds on.
Sirens sound in the cockpit. The pilot pulls back on the cyclic and drops the collective.
Wolfpack One slows down rapidly again, dropping into the cover of some stunted trees. The pilot hits the Audio Suppression button again.]
MC: Oh ho! He's on to something again, folks.
[There are no buildings in the vicinity, but a few dirt tracks criss-cross the area.
The pilot's view switches from natural light to various other displays. Suddenly, on one setting, a blue area shows up in what would otherwise appear to be warm desert scrub.]
MC: The Wolfpack sensors detected this anomaly, and now it's up to our guy to see if he can work out what it is. What you can see here is an odd heat trace - something in that grass is cooler than the surroundings.
[Wolfpack One inches quietly out from the cover of the trees towards the target.
Set in the ground is a metal cover. Wolfpack One hovers closer. As it does so, the cover rises a little, and a small black canister flys out, dropping to the ground under Wolfpack One.
The pilot throws the controls over violently; the Audio Suppression switches out automatically and Wolfpack One rises suddenly as the canister explodes.]
[The crowd gasp.]
[The pilot swings the helicopter round, a hundred feet or so above the cover.
The pilot clicks controls. His display changes to include a view from the bottom of the helicopter, looking straight down. He centres a target on the metal cover nudges the cyclic control until "Bunker Buster" is selected in his display.
The rocket tube compartment slides open and the tubes deploy, swivelling on gimballed joints to face directly down.
A bunker busting rocket smacks down and through the metal cover. There is a flash from below and the cover is blown off. The ground for several metres around the cover pulses with the shock wave, then gives way, collapsing into the hollow of the bunker below in a rectangular shape.
Wolfpack One accelerates away.]
[Emily watches with interest.
Among the government observers, we see one man, Travers, watching the screens with a certain amount of frustration.]
MC: And in case anyone is concerned, yes, the bunker was unoccupied - the grenade was launched remotely. One down, one to go.
[Wolfpack One thunders round rock formations gaining speed. It passes over occasional buildings and vehicles.
A 206 appears, flying in the opposite direction. Displays flash inside Wolfpack One, but the pilot takes no action. The 206 passes in the middle distance. It is unarmed.
A cluster of ancient trailer-homes passes by underneath, with a handful of cars around. Sirens in the cockpit.]
MC: Uh oh. This one's caught him by surprise.
[The pilot hauls on the controls, pulling Wolfpack One into a sharp climb. It pulls a Hammerhead stall and descends rapidly over the trailers again, turning and slowing to a hover a short distance away.
Infra-red displays indicate people inside several of the trailers. There is movement and three men emerge from one of the trailers, holding a woman and child hostage, with guns to their heads.
The pilot nudges the weapons control and Wolfpack One's weapons slide into view. Just behind the nosewheel doors another panel slides out, and a single-barreled, directional rail-gun drops into view.
The men are waving and shouting, indicating for the helicopter to fly away.]
MC: At this point we would normally attempt negotiation, however since this is a simulation, let's assume they won't be reasoned with.
[The pilot manipulates a thumb control on the cyclic, placing target marks on his view of the men on the ground. As they move in his view, the targets remain on them. He brings Wolfpack One down lower, kicking up dust, which blows at the group.
The display flashes "Auto Targetting Locked". The directional gun wavers, pointing at the men regardless of the orientation of the helicopter. The pilot pulls the trigger once.
The gun fires one, two, three single shots in quick succession, its direction shifting minutely but rapidly between each shot. The three men stagger back with bright blue paint on their clothes. One of them fires his gun as he staggers, and blue paint hits the side of one of the trailers.]
[People in the crowd applaud.]
[The pilot gives the group on the ground a wave. They wave back and Wolfpack One pulls away.]
MC: Note the way that the targetting system could lock on to individuals in the group - and the speed with which they were taken out allowed little or no time for them to react and further endanger the hostages. Incidentally, as you may have spotted, our terrorists were armed. If they'd got any paint on the hostages, we would have counted that against our pilot's score.
[Travers listens gravely. He turns as Wolfpack One screams over the nearby rocks, descending and turning to land nearby.]
MC: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes this morning's demonstration. If you'd like to inspect Wolfpack One, please do so at your leisure, once the aircraft has shut down.
[Travers pulls out his phone and keys a couple of buttons.]
TRAVERS: [After a moment] It's Travers. Yeah. I think they're going to be a problem.
[He nods to an unheard reply and disconnects.]
[Emily stands by Wolfpack One's nose and looks at it.
There is a man in the cock-pit door, preventing her from seeing inside. She slowly walks down the length of the helicopter.]
EMILY: Why am I getting a sense of deja vu? Any minute now, someone is going to walk up to me and say...
HOLDEN: Superb isn't she?
[Emily flinches with disbelief. Holden stands nearby, looking up at the rotors.]
EMILY: [To herself] OK - so this is getting weird. [To Holden] You're not British, are you?
[Holden looks puzzled.]
HOLDEN: Not that I'm aware of.
[She pauses in thought.]
EMILY: So which bit of the "aeroplane" are you going to explain for me?
HOLDEN: Listen, you gotta ignore Deacon. He's all mouth and no brains.
EMILY: [Unconvinced] A test pilot with no brains, huh? Okay.
HOLDEN: Listen, he's a regular guy. He just wants to jump your bones.
EMILY: Uh huh. Well he's certainly pushing all my buttons.
[She turns and heads slowly towards the tail.]
HOLDEN: So why's Thor brought you onto the program? I mean, we've been flying number one here for nearly two weeks - why're you here so late in the test program?
EMILY: You really want to know?
EMILY: Well, the guy who designed Airwolf (you heard of him, Moffet?), his son stole Airwolf from White Sands, killed my mom, tried to kidnap me, shot me, killed my dad, and then got blown up by his brother - who then also blew up. And then Zeus offered me the job. I'm obviously qualified somehow by the number of deaths and explosions I've been witness to.
[Holden looks surprised.]
HOLDEN: You're Emily Coldsmith-Briggs?!
[Emily does a double-take at this.]
EMILY: Is there more than one of me?
HOLDEN: Sorry, I mean, it just didn't click when Thor introduced you. We were all thinking of "Athena", you know, Goddess of Love...
EMILY: An easy oversight.
[Holden is almost at a loss for words.]
HOLDEN: But... You flew that Nightwolf thing?
[She looks at him quizically.]
EMILY: There's obviously not much you don't know already.
HOLDEN: Well, sure, we've all read the incident report.
EMILY: Except me!
[She glances at Wolfpack One. He turns and looks.]
HOLDEN: Yeah, well, when you fly that, you'll know what flying is really all about.
[He seems genuinely impressed by the helicopter. She looks at him curiously as he stares at Wolfpack One.]
[On another part of the complex, a black Bell 406 is starting up.
Travers straps himself in to a passenger seat, next to woman holding a laptop - his Aide.
The helicopter lifts off. The PA types at her laptop as Travers speaks.]
TRAVERS: Convene a meeting of the Homeland Defence Committee - as soon as possible. The usual distribution list. Agenda item: assimilation of project Wolfpack and dissolution of the FIRM. Urgency: high.
[The Aide finishes typing.]
TRAVERS: We need to contact Bill. Get him to cut the FIRM's central intelligence access - they'll get wind of the HDC meeting if we don't - and ask him to ready a Control Unit.
[She types rapidly again.]
TRAVERS: [Thoughtfully] Good.
[The black 406 speeds away.]
[Red Star Control.]
[Emily peers into Wolfpack 1 through the co-pilot's door. The front cockpit is futuristic, but retains standard helicopter controls. To the rear is a control centre similar in concept to that in Airwolf, however there are far fewer screens and gauges - those which are there are multi-functional. The area looks optional, but more suited to surveillance.
Thor puts his head through the pilot's door.]
THOR: First impressions?
EMILY: Glad they've not replaced everything with a joystick. I like to have something to tug on. Rear console is more or less dedicated to surveillance - my guess is that weapons are selected via the rolling control on the stick.
THOR: Spot on. Have a seat.
[She slides into the co-pilot's seat and puts on the helmet Thor hands to her.
It is equipped with a complex display system, superimposed on a clear visor infront of her eyes. She adjusts the helmet, and finds the darker visor screen which she lowers and raises.]
THOR: This helmet is your eyes and ears. The automatic surveillance system continually scans the environment - anomalies are highlighted on your visor, if they're in your visible arena, or via an audio signal in stereo to give you an immediate sense of which direction it's in. You'll get textual and graphical information in 3D.
[From Emily's point of view, this is all visible as green and red data superimposed on the view through the windscreen. There is a flashing red icon to the left, and the graphic of a Bell 406 displays briefly. She looks to the left out of the door and sees the helicopter distantly. Other targetting and range information appears around it.]
EMILY: Gotcha. That's pretty neat.
THOR: To activate your weapons, click the trigger switch down one stop...
[She does this. The guns and rocket tubes slide out.]
THOR: You can nudge the menu up and down to make your choice - rail-guns and rockets are automatic options, and you can delegate selection to the computer if you wish...
[In her display, missile and rocket options scroll quickly up and down as she nudges the trigger control.]
EMILY: Sidewinder will do...
[The additional ports open under each side, with two sidewinders emerging.]
THOR: And you'll notice that as soon as you start activating combat mode, your targetting system kicks in and tries to lock on.
EMILY: Bye bye 406...
[She watches the distant helicopter, touches the main trigger and makes a quiet explosion noise to herself.]
THOR: Once you've had a couple of practice flights the menus will become second nature. It's a lot faster than having someone select it for you.
[She lifts the helmet off.]
EMILY: So it's a one man ship?
THOR: It certainly can be. The demonstration flight earlier was a solo flight.
EMILY: So the surveillance section...
THOR: That'll be occupied by a systems specialist for high-intensity, or high-risk searches. We can record and monitor everything back there, and having an extra pair of eyes in hostile zones means the pilot can concentrate on keeping off the ground.
[Emily glances around at the empty seat, and nods.]
EMILY: Who was the pilot this morning? Another of the test guys?
THOR: No, that was Morningstar. Head of the development program. He did most of the design work, picked the bones of what we had left of the Airwolf program, integrated a lot of new technology, improved the avionics...
EMILY: [Uncertain] Have I met him?
[He looks outside briefly.]
THOR: I think he's already headed back to Sunset Dunes.
EMILY: So who's taking Wolfpack One back?
THOR: That's your job, Athena!
[She is a little surprised.]
THOR: The other four prototypes are still being finished off, but it'll be a good chance for you to meet the rest of the team and see a bit of construction work underway.
EMILY: I'd better not put any scratches on this one...
The Black 406 lands on the roof of a smart, low office building. Travers jumps out, accompanied by his aide, and is met by another man, and directed to a rooftop doorway.]
[Inside, Travers enters a large board room. Several members of the Homeland Defence Committee are already seated around the table; a number of others are present via large flat-screen displays mounted to the sides.]
TRAVERS: [As he sits down.] Ladies, Gentlemen. Thank you for coming at such short notice.
[He settles himself.]
TRAVERS: As you know, the FIRM has completed the first of it's five prototype "Wolfpack" anti-terror search-and-destroy aircraft. You asked me to report back on exactly what it is they've created. Ladies and Gentlemen - they've created a problem that is potentially equal in scale to the one that it is designed to counter. Although the Wolfpack helicopter is based broadly on the Airwolf concept of 1983, the finished product is orders of magnitude more dangerous. We know what happened to Airwolf in 1984 - and even in hindsight, the logic of a civilian intelligence organisation creating an essentially military aircraft was twisted. All I can report is that they've done it again - only this time with our tacit blessing.
It is my opinion that the FIRM cannot be allowed sole jurisdiction over the Wolfpack squadron. Although I genuinely trust those individuals in the FIRM that I have dealt with, the risk of a loose cannon going off - and outside the control of the military - is too high. The recent Airwolf incident at White Sands - which occurred under the FIRM's jurisdiction - is a case in point.
MAN #1: [From a screen display] But is complete dissolution of the FIRM the best way?
TRAVERS: It's my opinion, yes. The Wolfpack project must be placed under military auspices. We know that the FIRM will not stand for having its main project requisitioned. The best way to ensure a smooth transition is for the FIRM to be absorbed in its entirety.
WOMAN #1: [At the table] The staff are civilian. Are you proposing drafting them all?
TRAVERS: I never said it was going to be easy, however, we have powers that can be put into place swiftly, which will require FIRM staff to co-operate for a handover period if they are not prepared to make the switch themselves.
WOMAN #1: I know what that implies.
[There is a silence.]
WOMAN #1: It's practically an all-out invasion of their facilities with occupation and house-arrest of all personnel.
TRAVERS: That's a little melodramatic, but what you say is the essense of it.
MAN #2: I'm getting a feeling here that we're just agreeing politically correct words to cover something that's going to happen anyway.
TRAVERS: I would rather be in a position to justify these actions politely.
MAN #1: The FIRM might not take kindly to us walking in, Travers.
WOMAN #1: They have their Zebra squad, the Wolfpack helicopters...
TRAVERS: They have one Wolfpack helicopter. And can you really imagine the FIRM putting up resistance? I mean, a fire-fight? What exactly would they achieve? We're all Americans here, all on the same side. The real enemy is the one we can't see.
[There is a brief pause.]
MAN #2: So when do you propose advising them?
[Travers looks at his watch.]
[Red Star control.]
[Emily walks around Wolfpack 1, doing start-up checks, and referring occasionally to a palm-top computer. Thor is nearby, speaking on his cellphone.
The crowds have thinned out, and most personnel remaining are FIRM staff.
Holden approaches Emily.]
HOLDEN: You taking her up?
EMILY: Apparently so. Any tips?
HOLDEN: Hold on to your seat.
EMILY: Duly noted.
HOLDEN: Seriously, watch the tail fin - she tends to nose-up a little in the hover.
[She reaches the pilot's door.]
EMILY: I think I'm all set.
HOLDEN: Hold on to your seat!
[They smile and she climbs in as Thor rushes over, jumping into the co-pilot's seat, looking a little puzzled.]
EMILY: Something up?
THOR: Not really. That was Zeus. They've had a complete loss of access to the main Intelligence networks for the last couple of hours.
EMILY: Foul play?
THOR: Doesn't look that way. Technology glitch is the current theory. It's just put everyone on edge, and naturally there's a race on to find the problem and fix it. We don't like being blind and deaf.
EMILY: You'd best put your "eyes and ears" on then.
[She indicates his helmet. He smiles and puts it on as she dons hers.]
EMILY: I notice with some interest that you're trusting me in this thing without any other suitably qualified pilot on board.
THOR: I know. Rash, huh?
[She raises her eyebrows doubtfully, and glances around at the controls.]
EMILY: Yeah, well, it's a helicopter. How hard could it be...
[She closes the door.]
EMILY: Wolfpack One to Red Star Control, ready for startup.
RED STAR CONTROL: [Over radio] Red Start Control to Wolfpack One. Clear for startup.
EMILY: Roger, Red Star, clear for startup, thank-you.
[She glances at the nearest people, shoves her arm through the window and points to the rotors. One man acknowledges her and the group move further away. Thor checks his side.
She pushes the engine start buttons.]
[Wolfpack 1's engines whine. The rotors start to turn and gain speed rapidly.
Emily flicks switches and checks displays around her. She is cautious.]
EMILY: [With some nervousness] It's just a helicopter...
[Displays show power increasing and systems setting themselves up. Nothing shows anything amiss. She takes the collective in her left hand and glances left, right, and above.]
EMILY: Wolfpack One to Red Star Control. Ready for departure.
RED STAR CONTROL: Red Star Control to Wolfpack One. Cleared for visual departure at your discretion. No other traffic in the area.
EMILY: Roger that, Red Star Control. Thank-you.
[She checks around again, then pulls the collective upwards.]
[Wolfpack 1 lifts off the ground and hovers.]
EMILY: So far, so good.
THOR: This is your chance to get used to the aircraft - you don't need to try to impress me!
EMILY: The thought hadn't crossed my mind.
[She inches the cyclic forwards.]
[Wolfpack One moves away from the landing site, rising and accelerating slowly. The landing gear retracts.]
THOR: The whole test range is ours for the next hour, so do what you want.
[Emily banks the helicopter gently to the right. It flys out over the desert range.]
[Travers faces the room. Several additional people are present, some in military uniform.]
TRAVERS: The timing is critical. We know that Wolfpack One - the helicopter out at the Red Star test range - will return to Sunset Dunes this afternoon. It will arrive there no later than sixteen hundred. Allowing for time to perform post-flight checks and hangar the aircraft, arrival of our reception team must be no later than sixteen-fifteen.
There will be some individual resistance to this move - I'd be the same if the circumstances were reversed - and we can anticipate that some individuals will attempt to extracate themselves - possibly with key data or project information - once operations commence. I want to be clear that we are not dealing with traitors or spies here - the vast majority of FIRM personnel are good, decent, law-abiding citizens - they live next door to you - but we will be placing them in an unfamiliar situation, and it is only natural that some will either fear the worst, or fear for their safety.
Everyone - and I mean everyone, including anyone caught trying to scale the fence - is to be treated like an honoured guest. We're their friends - and we want them to be ours. This is not rounding up insurgents, it's a corporate merger. No handcuffs, no walking at the point of a gun, no hands raised. Peaceful. Otherwise each and every one of us will be the lead item on the evening news.
[He pauses and looks around.]
TRAVERS: Any questions?
[No one offers any.]
TRAVERS: Then shall we begin?
[Wolfpack One cruises over a rocky outcrop and out over an expanse of flat desert. The helicopter is in conventional mode and flying easily and relatively slowly.
Emily adjusts the controls delicately.]
EMILY: I'm impressed.
EMILY: Well, it's bigger than Nightwolf and Airwolf, but it handles lighter overall. Same smooth-as-silk controls though.
THOR: Composite technology has moved on since Airwolf was built.
EMILY: A lot of things have moved on.
THOR: Like weapons systems.
EMILY: You're hinting that the live-firing range is awaiting us?
THOR: Something like that.
EMILY: What have you got for me?
THOR: We can have some enemy vehicles if you like...
EMILY: Anything airborne?
THOR: Airborne is expensive...
EMILY: Uh huh. And you want me to learn to fly this ship without some air-to-air practice?
EMILY: [Sighing] OK - show me the trucks.
[Thor stares for a minute, not quite knowing if she's genuinely disappointed.
He clicks on his radio.]
THOR: This is Wolfpack One to Red Star Control - request two crawlers and a moth for test range six.
RED STAR CONTROL: [Over radio] Roger that, Wolfpack One. Activating now.
THOR: Roger Red Star Control. Proceeding to range six. Out.
[Thor looks at Emily.]
EMILY: Any clues?
THOR: Why would I want to do that?
[She gives him a look.]
[Wolfpack One heads out across the desert at low speed and a couple of hundred feet altitude.
Elsewhere several vehicles drive along a road. They have no drivers and are spaced out like regular traffic. There are a number of cars and a couple of trucks and vans interspersed between them.
The road winds through low hills.]
[Emily looks down at the road and sees the vehicles distantly.]
EMILY: I'm guessing you've not opened the test range up to tourists.
THOR: There's only so much realism we can achieve.
EMILY: Is the full surveillance kit online?
THOR: There's an on-off toggle under your thumb on the collective.
[She presses it. Her display adjusts, and various scanning information is seen.]
[The display highlights one car and one truck. The words "Radar Detected" appear alongside the truck.
She throws the controls and puts Wolfpack One into a steep dive. Thor instinctively grabs his seat.]
EMILY: The truck has radar.
[Wolfpack One pulls out of the dive just above the ground, and Emily takes it at speed between the low hills.]
THOR: [Recovering his surprise] And I thought you were taking it easy!
EMILY: Hell no.
[Wolfpack One accelerates toward the road, staying in the shadow of the hills, out of sight.]
THOR: You do know we're radar invisible, don't you?
EMILY: Naturally. If they've got radar, they may have infra-red, and while we're good, we're not that good.
[She nudges the weapons control. The menu scrolls and the rocket tubes deploy.
Target information flashes.
She slams the controls over, lifting Wolfpack One over the rise and over the road. She fires.
A rocket streaks out and the truck explodes. The target car breaks off the road suddenly up a dirt track and through trees.
Emily nudges the trigger and the rail-guns emerge as she turns Wolfpack One rapidly to follow.
The car speeds along the track, turning this way and that and staying under trees wherever possible.
Wolfpack One follows above and behind, matching the car's progress with rapid maneouvres.
Whenever the target flashes she pulls the trigger and the guns rake the ground and the car with fire. It speeds on.
The car emerges from the trees and speeds up the track, swerving left and right to try to keep out of the gunfire. Emily maintains her pursuit.
The car swerves suddenly and comes to a halt in a cloud of dust.
She swings Wolfpack One down low infront of the car.]
EMILY: [Uncertainly] At this point I'm assuming they're giving themselves up...
[Something flashes on her display.]
EMILY: Oh crap.
[She pulls hard on the controls and hits the turbo button. Wolfpack One tilts back and rockets up into the sky as the car explodes violently.
Thor is back in his seat, in some shock.
Emily levels Wolfpack One out, and banks. The helicopter screams around at high speed.]
EMILY: Yeah, I forgot. These days they don't give themselves up, they blow themselves up. Hell, that turbo's got some kick.
[Thor releases his grip on the seat again.]
THOR: Yeah... We haven't got that far in the test program yet.
[She puts Wolfpack One into a shallow dive, releasing the turbo button. The rotors re-engage automatically.
She looks at him, puzzled.]
EMILY: What do you mean, you've not got that far?
THOR: All our test flying has been as a conventional helicopter. Flying with turbos won't be evaluated until next month.
EMILY: [With skepticism] Okay...
THOR: I guess they work...
[Bullets ricochet off the windscreen, startling both of them. Emily banks hard, looking around for the aggressor.]
EMILY: What the hell...
[There are no targets on her display.]
EMILY: I'm not seeing anything...
[More bullets rattle off the fuselage.
She looks round wildly. And sees something behind.]
EMILY: I see you...
[She slams the collective down, pulls the cyclic up and Wolfpack One drops out of the sky, tail first.
A tiny remote-controlled plane spins past, turning sharply.]
EMILY: ... little drone. Too small for radar to detect. Probably stealth materials...
[It is very maneouvrable, and it turns quickly to attack again.
Emily fires the turbos briefly to gain altitude, cuts them, drops the nose and swings the tail around. The drone passes below. She drops onto its tail, triggering the weapons selection with her finger.
The drone starts to weave rapidly, trying to shake her.]
EMILY: Damn little thing.
[She struggles to keep behind it. The nose gun drops into view.
The drone spins lower and levels out a few feet above the ground, swinging left and right.
Emily tries to target the gun, but the display fails to lock.]
THOR: [Hanging on tightly] This one is called...
EMILY: The moth. Yeah, I figured that already.
[The drone zips into a narrow cut, forcing Emily to pull up. She nudges the selection control and launches a volley of rockets into the cut. They explode just under and behind the drone.]
EMILY: [To the drone] And now you're annoying me.
[The drone pulls out, and turns sharply to try to come about.]
EMILY: More like a mosquito... And there's only one way to fix them.
[Emily nudges the weapons and the rocket tubes angle downwards. She hits the turbos - alarms sound and her display warns that weapons systems are deployed - and banks hard towards the drone, over-riding it and slamming it into the angle between the tubes and the helicopter's belly. Thor winces at the impact.]
EMILY: Squash 'em.
[She immediately cuts the turbos; air-brakes deploy and she swings the tail around hard as the wreckage of the drone falls loose and crashes to the ground. The tubes retract.]
EMILY: So much for not scratching it, eh?
THOR: I'll make sure I add that to our list of approved techniques...
[Emily smiles to herself and accelerates Wolfpack One away from the drone.]
EMILY: You got any more surprises for me?
THOR: I could ask you the same.
EMILY: I'm done!
THOR: Then we're set for Sunset Dunes.
EMILY: Point me in the right direction.
[Wolfpack One flys out across the range.]
[Desert town of Remo, huddled in amongst rocky outcrops.]
[This is a small collection of buildings, including a Sheriff's office, a bar, two shops, and a gas station. A couple of houses complete the scene. An occasional car passes through on the highway.
We hear voices from inside the Sheriff's Office.]
[Inside, a Chief of Police, Kirkland, is standing in one of the cells, facing William Moffet. William is still in the same clothes, but looking healthier. The local Sheriff stands by.]
KIRKLAND: ... why I've just driven a hundred and seventy miles out here, so you'd better damn well start telling me just who the hell you are and what the hell you're doing here!
WILLIAM: [Fed up] My name is William Moffet. My aircraft was shot down in the desert. I ejected ...
KIRKLAND: [Interrupting, impatiently] Listen son - I heard all this crap already. If you were flying an airplane, where the hell's the wreckage? There ain't no goddamn crashed plane out there! You got no ID. You sure as hell ain't from round here - what are you Australian? - so I gotta say to myself; here's a guy just turns up out of the blue right after some goddamn terrorists try to blow up Vegas, and I say to myself - "what's the connection here?"
WILLIAM: The connection is that believe it or not, it was me that stopped them.
KIRKLAND: Ha! Oh sure! Not only did you have an airplane that magically vanished but you're the guy who took out the terrorists too! It get's better and better!
WILLIAM: If you'd just call the FIRM and speak to Zeus...
SHERIFF: [To Kirkland] Told you, Chief.
KIRKLAND: I ain't never heard of no "Firm", and what the goddamn hell is "Zoose", some sorta detergent!? I tell ya, I could save myself the trouble and get on the line to the FBI - and so help me I'm sorely tempted! - but that makes me look a complete ass, and I ain't letting some John Doe wannabe make me look like a complete ass. No sir - you're gonna goddamn give me some goddamn answers or so help me I may just have to break some goddamn rules.
WILLIAM: If I'm connected to the terrorists, don't you think someone a little higher up ought to know about it?
[Kirkland starts and leans forward, menacingly.]
KIRKLAND: Listen to me, you goddamn foreign sonovabitch. You tell me my business again, and you're gonna be about as visible as your goddamn vanishing airplane. You ain't nobody - you got no ID - no-one's looking for ya - you ain't gonna be missed. Do you understand me?
[William stares back at him defiantly.]
[Wolfpack One cruises in conventional mode at a few thousand feet altitude, heading over mountains.]
EMILY: Interesting. The head-up is connected to Air Traffic Control.
THOR: Sure. No point you pilots having scans popping up for every Seven-Thirty-Seven that heads your way.
EMILY: Presumably it's linked in to Air Force data too.
THOR: Of course. Whether or not that's working is an open question.
EMILY: Still not got your link back?
THOR: Well, our internal network is fine, if all these messages are anything to go by.
EMILY: It's been a while now.
[Thor looks down at his palmtop with concern.]
THOR: Maybe I'll call Zeus...
[Emily's Head Up Display shows an unidentified target very distantly.]
EMILY: Oh ho?
[The scan is unable to identify and flashes an error.]
EMILY: We've got an unidentified aircraft at about 30 miles out. Faint radar, unable to identify type.
[Thor looks puzzled.]
THOR: Not the sort of zone that the Airforce flies F117s.
EMILY: Want to check it out?
THOR: I'm a little wary of stumbling onto a secret stealth test...
EMILY: Who's going to know?
[He's lost the argument and knows it.]
EMILY: It's hold on to your seat time!
THOR: We've not...
[She hits the turbos and Wolfpack One streaks ahead, diving towards the ground.]
THOR: [Fighting to get his breath back] ... tested them yet...
EMILY: [With some adrenalin] Then it's time we did!
[Wolfpack One thunders down valleys, Emily weaving it through with some skill. Thor is holding on tightly, trying not to appear terrified.]
EMILY: How fast can it go?
THOR: You tell me...
[She adjusts the throttle and speed increases.]
EMILY: You're going to be cross if I start making sonic booms over populated places aren't you.
[Thor just looks at her. She smiles.]
EMILY: Not today, maybe! OK, where's our target?
[She brings Wolfpack One out of the valley and scans the sky ahead.]
EMILY: Fifteen miles. How do I get that optical zoom view on the HUD?
THOR: There's a...
[His phone bleeps and he looks down at it.]
THOR: Hang on - Zeus.
THOR: Hi... [He looks puzzled then concerned.] They did what? Why weren't we informed? ...
[Emily meanwhile is attempting to adjust the zoom herself.]
THOR: What? ... But that would mean ... No, we're heading for Sunset Dunes now. Yes. ... Will do.
[He hangs up. Emily sees his concern.]
EMILY: What is it?
THOR: The Homeland Defence Committee called a meeting this afternoon, while our connection was down. The FIRM is always part of those meetings.
EMILY: So the invite is still in an email somewhere...
THOR: No. Meetings are convened by personal contact. The only reason we'd not be there is if the Committee wanted us not to be there.
EMILY: And you think the Intelligence Network connection failure is part of it?
THOR: I'd guarantee it.
EMILY: But why?
THOR: You're flying it.
EMILY: Wolfpack One?
THOR: It's the only thing that's changed. It's the only reason I can imagine the HDC would want to make a move against us.
EMILY: They want to take over the project?
THOR: We need to get back to Sunset Dunes - and fast. If they're making a move, we need to pull as much data as we can and get it out of there somewhere secure.
[Emily is concerned and anxious. Her HUD still shows the unidentified aircraft.]
EMILY: [To the aircraft] I guess you'll have to wait till next time.
[She cuts the turbos and turns hard left.]
THOR: This is Wolfpack One to Sunset Control, over.
[As she turns, Emily looks out of the door window. The aircraft is a pinprick in the distant blue sky, but the flicker of rotors is just apparent.]
EMILY: [To herself, puzzled] It's a chopper.
SUNSET CONTROL: [Over radio] Sunset Control reading you Wolfpack One; clear for approach to pad three. What's keeping you guys?
THOR: No problems, Sunset Control, just a slight deviation to flight plan. Roger, pad three. Thanks.
[Wolfpack One heads over the hills.]
[Travers, with several other officials, enters a reception area within the FIRM building, holding up an ID to a guard.]
TRAVERS: By order of the Office of the President, I hereby requisition this facility and its personnel under Section Three of the Homeland Defence Act, two-thousand-seven...
[A number of staff around look surprised.]
[This is the FIRM's development site. A number of large buildings and hangars sprawl near the edge of the desert.
We see the site from the point of view of Emily, flying Wolfpack One in low toward the compound.
Her HUD is bright with targets.]
EMILY: This place is more heavily armed than an infantry division...
THOR: What the hell...
[Below, around the perimeter of the site, soldiers and armoured vehicles are lining up. Within the compound, a number of vehicles are moving towards the main building.]
THOR: Oh hell. These aren't FIRM units.
EMILY: What's going on?
THOR: They're requisitioning us.
EMILY: Can they do that?
[As they watch, a number of people are being gently led out of buildings towards waiting buses.]
SUNSET CONTROL: [Over radio, hesitant] This is Sunset Control to Wolfpack One. Over.
THOR: Wolfpack One, we read you Sunset Control; confirm status please.
[There is a long pause. Emily slows Wolfpack One to a near hover.]
SUNSET CONTROL: Status is green. Repeat, status is green. Proceed to pad six.
THOR: Pad Six, confirmed, Sunset Control. Out.
[Emily looks at him.]
THOR: There is no pad six. He wants us to get out of here.
[Suddenly there is an explosion from one of the hangars.]
THOR: That's the Wolfpack hangar!
[A fireball rolls out of one end of the hangar, as Wolfpack Two rolls out of the other end, rotors turning, weapons extended.
Troops on the ground open fire. A commotion ensues as further explosions roll out of the hangar. Wolfpack Two opens fire into the hangar with its guns.]
THOR: That's Wolfpack Two! It's not even finished!
EMILY: Looks finished to me...
[It lifts into a hover, landing gear retracting.
Emily spies a rocket launcher vehicle moving into position, aiming at the side of Wolfpack Two as it hovers.
She nudges the weapons control and dives Wolfpack One forwards, towards the hangar.]
THOR: What are you doing?!
[She swings Wolfpack One down low, dropping between Wolfpack Two and the rocket launcher.
The vehicle operator pauses, stares, sees the weapons, and leaps down, running clear.
Emily squeezes the trigger. A rocket blasts into the launcher, and the whole thing goes up.
Troops are running into the area, along with vehicles. Gunfire opens up. Bullets whine off the fuselage.]
EMILY: This isn't good.
THOR: You can say that again.
[She turns Wolfpack One. Wolfpack Two is still firing into the hangar. Through the smoke, the shells of the remaining three Wolfpack helicopters can be seen, burnt and twisted.
Wolfpack Two stops firing and turns slowly. Its weapons retract. Emily retracts hers. The pilot gives a brief salute to them, turns, then pushes the nose down and accelerates rapidly away in an identical move to that at the demonstration, but this time in a hail of gunfire from the ground.]
EMILY: [To herself] Morningstar.
[Gunfire rakes across the fuselage again.]
EMILY: Get the hell out of here?
THOR: Go! Go!
[She hits the turbos and Wolfpack One screams away from the hangars.
Thor is a little shell-shocked. His palmtop bleeps.]
THOR: Message from Zeus. The FIRM has been dissolved, and all projects handed over to the Homeland Defence Committee. All personnel are ordered to report to their respective centres.
EMILY: That's going to make life difficult for us.
[Emily swings Wolfpack One low across the desert.]
EMILY: Do we go back to Valhalla?
THOR: After what we just did?
EMILY: I don't think blowing up that mobile rocket launcher was entirely unjustified...
THOR: Wolfpack Two took out the rest of the prototypes - and most of the data facilities. They're going to want both of us very badly.
EMILY: We could hide out at the Ranch...
THOR: No use. They have your records, and it'll be the first place they look.
EMILY: Where then? The FIRM must have some bolt holes, surely? What about the Wolf's Lair? Valley of the Gods.
[Thor thinks hard.]
THOR: Too obvious. [Frustrated] There's nowhere that they won't find on the records...
[He stops and stares.]
EMILY: [Impatiently] I don't handle pauses for dramatic effect particularly well.
THOR: There's one place that Archangel kept on his list - unofficially. As a favour to an old friend, he used to say.
[Emily looks at him.]
EMILY: No really, I don't do pauses.
THOR: Head zero-five-zero.
EMILY: Oh god, Mr Cryptic isn't going to tell me. That's into the mountains, right?
THOR: Sure is.
[Wolfpack One turns and speeds towards the distant hills.]
[Travers's 406 lands and he jumps out, with two other men and his aide, looking at the devastation.]
TRAVERS: Who's missing?
AIDE: Agents Thor and Athena, both crewing Wolfpack One, and Agent Morningstar from this facility.
[Travers looks at her.]
AIDE: Literally, sir.
[He stares at the twisted metal in the hangar.]
[Eagle lake. Evening.]
[Wolfpack One slows around a stand of trees, and approaches a wooden dock, sitting out over the shore of the lake.
The landing gear extends, and it lands gently on the dock. The engines shut down.]
[Emily climbs out and looks round.]
EMILY: Where are we? It's beautiful.
[She looks up beyond the dock to where a large wooden cabin stands amongst trees, with mountains in the background. It is silent and dark.]
THOR: Eagle lake. Home of a legend. Come on.
[They head for the cabin.]
[Thor opens the door and they enter. The cabin is partially empty, with only a handful of items of furniture. The walls show scars where pictures once hung. Behind a breakfast bar a few photographs remain.
Stairs lead up to a sleeping area on a landing.
Thor switches on the lights.]
EMILY: You're going to explain this pretty soon, I hope.
THOR: It's a long story.
EMILY: You've got until they find us.
THOR: We're going to need a fire. Can you chop wood?
EMILY: I grew up on a ranch and you're asking if I can chop wood?
[Thor laughs. He opens the door.]
THOR: You want the whole story?
EMILY: Of course.
THOR: [Dramatically] This ... was the home ... of Stringfellow Hawke.
EMILY: You mean that story!
[They leave the room and their voices trail off.]
[Wolfpack One sits silently on the dock by Eagle Lake.
The sun sets.]
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