My cell phone rings. Well, technically it doesn't ring it plays a tune. Regular callers are known by unique ring tones. That makes it easy to identify who's calling even before one picks up and looks at the phone. Restricted numbers and 866 or other toll-free numbers have their tones too. Then there is one tone for my friends from Shamballa. It's a modernistic rendition of God Bless America.
So here I am, knee-deep in quasi-retirement, enjoying the sun, some fine dining and I hear God Bless America coming from my cell in the den. I drop what I am doing and head to the den, I wonder who and why someone is calling.
"Tech2 is that you?"
"Yes. Meet me at Luke Airfield in 20 minutes ready for flying. My ETA is 19 minutes."
Ok. That's strange. No message. No clue as to what it's all about. I grab my flight suit from the closet and put it on. I notice It's gotten a bit tighter since January. I need to take off ten pounds.
Not knowing what to expect, I jump into the armored Mercedes SLR and bring a tote full of exotic devices that would make any corporate Sharper Image buyer green with envy.
I smoke the tires once I get to the highway and look at my Rolex Daytona. I'm making good time. 5 minutes have elapsed. At this rate I will beat Tech2 to Luke Airfield.
As I pull up to the main gate and my ID gets the once over, I get waived through. I see something in the distance that looks like an over sized F-22, but it's not.
I drive on and make my way towards the parking lot. I park, grab my duffel bag and my Ray-Bans, lock up and head on over to the airfield.
The plane is making its final approach and its a monster - a prototype I thought we had long since put to bed in Area 51. It's the Black Vortex. It's got 4 customized prototype SDAI/GE engines designed by GEAE, Phillips, Rolls Royce and modified by SDAI. It has a service ceiling of 72,000 feet and the capability of mach 4+ with the advanced turbine technology. The Black Vortex was a test platform of mach 4 technologies and could not just play the role of fighter and fighter/bomber, but was actually able to carry up to 8 people on special missions. A derivative based on the prototype was produced for the government, about 5 of them if memory serves, but I think all were destroyed or lost on missions.
The plane lands and I see young pilots and officers slack-jawed with astonishment and making their way closer to the runway for a closer look. All this despite the 105 degree heat.
Tech2 emerges and greets me with a Vulcan salute.
"Yes, what is this all about?"
"Look at this."
Tech2 pulls a sheet of paper from one of his pockets and thrusts it into my hands. I look at it.
It is an Executive Order. I read the details silently as Tech2 stands beside me. The gist of it is that all SDAI assets are to be reactivated. All facilities are to be reopened and resume operations and funding as prior to January 2009.
"I was the point person because you were on vacation."
"Why the Black Vortex?"
"We have our 1st mission."
"Reactivate Shamballa - and SDAI's satellite array."
"The satellite array?"
"Cheney. It's Cheney. Somehow his advice is being taken by the new administration. He's the only one who could have revealed the existence of the array."
"I think you're right. I'm surprised he didn't contact me."
"He probably tried to. You've been in Germany on vacation."
"That still doesn't explain the Black Vortex. I thought that was left in Area 51?"
"It was. But since the reactivation I have been locating and retrieving SDAI's various assets to return to Shamballa. Now don't tell me you aren't overjoyed to hear that we're going to be back in action. You're not the sort of person who can simply retire or go on vacation."
"Actually...I am thrilled. Let's go. We've got a lot to do."
"Damn right the world needs us...I suspect more than it ever has."
An officer approaches us.
"I've never seen the like. What in the hell is that thing?"
"That, Lieutenant, is classified. It's not really here. But you can call this mirage the Black Vortex and it will fly higher and faster than anything you are likely to see in this lifetime."
Tech2 hands me a helmet, I strap it on and I turn to climb in.
"Damn. Good luck gentlemen. Godspeed."
The officer salutes us as we settle into the staggered cockpit. We return the salute to the officer.
"Thanks lieutenant..and God bless America."