Stealth Jet Fire Retardant Base: Arrival

Finally, a hero to quash the wildfires plaguing the Western U.S. in an era of climate change…

Bull Loney barreled up the twisting mountain road, heedless of the double-yellow line and the powder blue Peterbilt logging truck smashing into a hillside to avoid his bright red Mini-Cooper with the V8 Oldsmobile engine and its gleaming Adonis hood ornament.

 Perhaps those woodsmen navigators well perceived the kind of man they’d confront if they dared colliding with Bull.  It didn’t take long for word to sift among the cedars and the firs about the time he’d vaulted himself out the sunroof at the moment of impact, grasping the hapless trucker’s side-view mirror and pummeling him as they careened down an embankment.  It seemed like it was just yesterday, he mused, before realizing that in fact it was yesterday, which explained the throbbing from his broken left arm and the intense focus of his eyes masked behind a pair of Porsche Design P 8447 18KT Gold Sunglasses.  As much as he missed that old Subaru Forester he didn’t have time to dwell on crushed metal or mangled truck driver corpses, not with the mission that awaited him at Site 771.62.

Impressed by how high a mountain bike could fly with only the tiniest portion of front bumper to launch it, Loney gulped down his sixth Five Hour Energy Drink and jerked the wheels right, leaving a quarter-mile long skid mark that ended at a right turn onto a single-lane chuck-holed gravel path.  Now he downshifted, not objecting to the boot-sized stones and the washboard surface as much as the dust powdering his stone-washed Gucci jeans and his indigo John Varvatos slim-fit shirt.  At least he’d infiltrated this forest much farther than he’d progressed on his earlier attempt.  The lane soon presented ruts, but Loney countered the obstacle at full-throttle, his left wheels propelling him forward on the surface while his right wheels bounced off the left wall of a particularly deep ditch.  Not unexpectedly, the testacle-pounding pathway suddenly smoothed and widened enough to accommodate a Lockheed-Martin F22 Raptor.  Also not unexpectedly, just as Loney upshifted and watched the electronic speedometer numbers blur with acceleration, one of those very same stealth jets came rocketing overhead, and just for the hell of it, the race began.  Loney would certainly have won had he not calculated the distance the Raptor needed and decided to ease up to give the chump pilot enough space to land.  As he slowed he noticed pink driblets puffing up the dust on his shirt, not so irksome a contaminant, however, for the ammonia-scented rain promised adventure, an opportunity to save the woodland communities where those dead log truck drivers had resided.

Finally the United States government had jolted into action to combat an insidious enemy silently threatening the entire planet–global warming–and the hidden compound where Loney slammed his Mini-Cooper to a halt attested to the arsenal Uncle Sam had unleashed on the little climate gremlins.  Cloaked somewhere among the conifers, a half-dozen stealth jets retrofitted with 10,000-gallon fire retardant tanks sat poised for action, green and brown camouflage to mask their existence from casual hot-air balloonists who might stray into the neighborhood, such as that bright green-and-red one floating up from the other side of the mountain just now.  Loney grabbed the Swarovski binoculars from the glove compartment and focused on what looked like an early dawn sky, so dark it was impossible to discern individual details.  After he remembered to remove his sunglasses, he noticed a small wedding party crammed into the basket, the focal point consisting of two men garbed in bridal gowns holding each other’s hands before a black-suited minister.  They’d made a mistake, and Loney wasn’t thinking of the fact that they’d drifted into a state that still frowned on gay marriage.  No, their navigational error consisted of overlooking all the Top Secret Warning Stay Out signs that surrounded the flat knob of mountain where Slurry Ops had situated their base.  For that reason, Loney felt no pity when the compound’s rope-gun fired a tethering mechanism onto the lip of the basket and began cranking down the occupants one metallic click at a time.  Homeland security agents could ascertain the real purpose of their unauthorized incursion.

Next week: Getting past the guards

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