Top Gun 2

Like they would ever make a sequel to that movie. Not even Hollywood is that foolish.

I’ve tried to explain how loud it is when n J-Lo is taking fire.  Nothing I’ve said is accurately able to convey the clamor.  Maybe if you put a couple ball bearings in an empty paint can, sealed it back up and then out it on one of those paint can shaker things – with a stethoscope attached to it directly into your ears – that might be close.  Turns out all that racket is a good thing – the ear-splitting means the bullets are being stopped by the armor.  On the other hand, the bullets hitting Martialla’s plane went through so easily they barely made any noise.  I heard the whistling of the wind through the bullet holes before anything else.   

The good news is that those holes didn’t seem to matter, I guess there’s nothing important in the middle of a plane.  I mean mechanically, in theory the people in the middle there have some intrinsic value.  Some more than others.  Martialla banked (that’s what it’s called when a plane turns right?) and climbed to get out of the line of fire and the other plane didn’t seem to be able to do anything about it.  Once I got a good look at it I could see why. 

I laughed at these mutant future rubes (internally, I’m not rude enough to laugh in someone’s face, usually) when they called Martialla’s plane a flying car, but this thing “chasing” us was close to looking like that flying Winnebago from Spaceballs more than any kind of plane I’ve ever seen.   I SWEAR that it looked like parts of the wings were garbage bags.  The damn thing had a turret on it, what is with these future people and their turrets?  Why do they put turrets on everything?  And the main body was bright yellow which made it look like a flying school bus.   

It couldn’t turn (bank I mean) for shit and it climbed like a wheezing old man who lives in a ten story walk-up, but on a straight away it was faster than us.  When we tried to get away it would pull into line to shoot at us and Martialla would have to bank and climb again to get out of the line of fire.  I still think we could have gotten away if Martialla had zigged and zagged enough but Lucien suggested another course of action.  Had I known how suicidal it was I would have told Martialla to ignore him.  But aerial combat maneuvers aren’t my forte.  I must have missed that day in college.   

We’ve all heard about kamikaze pilots in world war two, but what I didn’t know is that the Germans did something similar at the end.  You know when they realized they were screwed.  What you did if you were a German pilot was you tried to fly in real careful like behind a bomber and use your propeller to chop off the controls in the tail.  Unlike the kamikaze plan if you did it right you could survive.  According to Lucien this move was successfully pulled off exactly once.  Which sounds bad, but that’s once our of like six times because was hardly ever tried – for some reasons a ton of the pilots in the German chop squad returned to base without engaging the enemy because of “mechanical problems”.   

Well you can add Martialla’s name alongside that Oberfähnrich Hubert Heckmann because under Lucien’s direction she pulled off this move.  It seemed like we were back behind the giant flying yellow cab forever but there was nothing it could do as Martialla got in the right spot for the tail chop.  Which makes the turret even stupider.  Being able to shoot behind you as well is the one thing that a turret is supposed to be useful for isn’t it?

I knew that tails were important to aircraft but I didn’t know they were that critical.  Martialla dipped in for not even a second and then backed the fuck off and the thing on front us fell out of the sky like a concrete balloon.  I don’t know how high up we were when it hit the ground but the noise was audible.  That thing hit HARD.   

You see this is my thing about planes.  Once you’re going down in flames there’s nothing to do but wait for death.  There’s no moves you can make.  On the ground you have options.  You can delay, you can buy time, you can wait for a miracle, you can make your own miracle, you can plead for mercy.  But you can outmaneuver gravity.   Parachutes?  I mean sure, I guess but do you have a pattern for making your own parachute?  Because I don’t.   

Once we were on the ground Lucien was all up Martialla’s butt praising her courage and calm under pressure.  I think he told her that was the best flying he’d ever seen.  First of all what does that even mean, he’s an army engineer what fancy flying has he seen?  And second of all we had to land because the propeller is messed up so what good did she really do? 

Did she do an okay job?  Yeah, but this wasn’t the Apollo moon landing Lucien, get a grip.  Overpraising is ruining the world.  I mean it was ruining the world that I came from a hundred years ago, this world is being ruined by everything all the time.  I looked around at the seemingly endless plain we had landed in and asked how long repairs would take. 

Martialla had a temerity to respond with a sassy tone “I’m not an aviation mechanic Ela, and even if I was what would we repair anything with?” 

I scowled at her “Why did we come out here this far if there was nothing we could do if the plane gets damaged?” 

She held her hands up “Coming out here was your idea.” 

I scowled at her harder “Now is not the time for blame Martialla.” 

Lucien stepped between us, an annoying habit he has when we’re bickering “We may just have to continue on foot.” 

I grunted sourly and looked over at some shaggy hill-like creatures that were slowly grazing our way lilke swaying land-ships “Paul, what the hell are those things?” He looked at them for a long moment and then said that he didn’t know.  I shook my head.  “Jesus dude, you’ve been here all your adult life and you don’t seem to know anything.  You are just spare parts aren’t you?” 

He looked over at Martialla for a moment and then back to me “I don’t understand what you mean.” 

Rawr! Dinosaur!

Dinosaurs are back.  That’s the headline.  Not that stupid sitcom on ABC, actual dinosaurs.  Martialla, being the buzzkill that she is, says that they’re “not really” dinosaurs.  She says that they’re likely birds that have evolved into something like what we think a dinosaur looked like.  Like she’s a friggin’ archeologist.  When I looked to Lucien for support he just shrugged like a cowardly Canadian.  I knew there was no point in asking Paul since he only cares about murder and stacks of girly magazines. 

I don’t care what Martialla says (I mean ever) if it looks like a dinosaur and walks like a dinosaur and, well we didn’t hear what sound they made, but you get it.  Remember a few (and a hundred) years ago when scientist were all like “hey, dinosaurs have feathers” and everyone went “What, that’s dumb, dinosaurs are dumb now” and then they tried to walk it back by having some artists draw T-Rexes with rainbow feathers to try and make them look “cool”?  Being an archeologist must have been a great job because you could be wrong about everything and no one would ever know.

Now that you have the important information let’s backtrack a little.  Since there’s barely any room in Martialla’s little plane we had considered taking all the supplies we could stuff in there and heading out just the two of us, but somehow ended up doing the opposite – jamming both Paul and Lucien in the back and taking very few supplies.   Maybe if (when?) Paul goes nuts Lucien will stop him.  Or at least get killed first.  So that’s something.

I happen to know that in the olden days a flight from Sacramento to Boise was barely more than an hour (don’t ask).  I don’t know how much slower this little plane is from a commercial number but we were three hours in when we saw the dinos and I have no idea how much longer we have to fly. 

I spotted them first because I guess Martialla was busy looking at clouds or whatever you look at when you fly a plane and there are no windows in the back where Lucien and Paul are squashed together.  They don’t have feathers (I think) but I did think at first that they were ostriches based on their shape and the way they were running around.  Aside from humans you don’t see too many two-legged animals running and they have a particular stride about them.  Not that I’m an ostrich expert, but that’s the impression that I got. 

A flock of ostriches in America is interested enough on its own that I took a closer look and saw that instead of dumb tiny bird-heads they had more muzzle-y noggins on them with what looked like big scary dino-teeth but I realized later were just some kind of markings on their faces.  Those would have had to have been huge teeth to see them from a plane.  They were smooth and lizardy but they did have some kind of spiney-things on the backs of their “arms” and around the rump that were kind of feathery.  I give the scientists partial credit there. 

I said something along the lines of “Hey, are those dinosaurs down there?”  I didn’t notice for a while that they were running around because some other beast was chowing down on one of them.  It looked like a giant sloth-bear-wild boar.  Martialla, being a pill again, said that he thought that it looked like some kind of predatory wombat.  Because she has to ruin everything.  A wombat?  Get a life. 

I don’t know if it had killed the one it was eating.  It looked lumbery and too slow to catch one of them so maybe it was scavenging, but whatever had happened it was enjoying a nice meal of dino-ribs Fred Flintstone style while the rest of the flock ran around it in circles.  What were they doing?  Trying to scare it off?  Just freaking out because of what was happening?  I feel like normally when a member of herd goes down in the clutches of a predator the herd just keeps going.  Isn’t that the whole idea of grouping together – maybe the lion will get someone else and you can forget about it? 

Even with all the crazy stuff I’ve seen lately this was pretty crazy.  Martialla circled the plane around several times so we could watch, mostly me since as I said Paul and Lucien couldn’t see much.  Martialla was annoyingly nonplussed by god damn dinosaurs.  Although she must have been at least somewhat interested because she was distracted enough that she didn’t notice the other plane until it started shooting us.