Kim Possible and associated characters are property of Disney and used without permission for non-profit reasons only.
Airwolf and associated characters created by Donald P. Bellisario and also used without permission for non-profit reasons only.
Inspired by a challenge by OstermanA. Thanks to Love Robin for feed back.
Chapter 1: Pre-Flight checklist
Shego stared at the man in the white business suit, saying nothing. He stared back at her for a moment, at least out of one eye. The other eye was covered with a black eye patch. After a moment of silence, he spoke again.
"Yes?" Shego asked almost politely.
"My name is Michael Coldsmith-Briggs the fourth," he said. "I'm the head of a group known as the Firm."
"Never heard of you," Shego said, deliberately projecting boredom into her voice.
"I'm glad to hear it," said Mr. Coldsmith-Briggs. "We specialize in a lot of... unusual jobs. Currently, we're working on developing a new type of aircraft and would like you to help us simulator-flight test different control systems."
"Why me?" Shego asked, point blank.
"The vehicle combines elements of an Electrostatic-field hover craft and a jet fighter," said the man, leaning back. "Currently, you're the only known pilot with experience in both vehicle types."
Shego raised an eyebrow, intrigued despite herself. "I didn't think it was possible to make a high speed hovercraft frame."
"Possible or not, we're trying it," said Mr. Coldsmith-Briggs. "I know that both your record and Dr. Drakken's have been cleared. With his new work with the UN, he no longer needs your skills. We do, and are willing to pay for them."
"How much?" Shego asked. After all, once a mercenary, always a mercenary.
Mr. Coldsmith-Briggs calmly named a figure that matched Shego's annual salary from Dr. Drakken.
"Double," Shego said, figuring to see how high she could get him to go up.
His answer surprised her. "Done," he said.
"I should have said triple," Sheo said, but then stuck out her hand. "You've got yourself a pilot, Mr. Coldsmith-Briggs."
"Glad to know," Mr. Coldsmith-Briggs said as he shook Shego's hand. If he was worried about the plasma or claws built into her gloves, he didn't show it. "And please, call me Archangel."
* * *
Shego sat strapped into the simulator seat, a black helmet over her head. The visor was down, hiding her face from view, and she was busy staring out through the simulated 'window'. One nice feature of the helmet was that it had a built in heads up display, echoing much of the information from the instruments below the simulated window. Her left hand was reading on a control stick that held thrust controls for both the hover engines and the vhicle's jet engine. Her right hand was wrapped tightly arround the control joystick. Two pedals, one for each foot, allowed her to rapidly slew the craft left or right.
Outsde the simulator, two technicians and Archangel were watching a wire-diagram model, showing a simulated vehicle flying through a narrow canyon.
"She's doing extroardinarily well," said one of the technicians. "None of the other candidates got this far in the simulations."
"Add an enemy aircraft," said Archangel, suddenly.
"Sir?" asked the technician, startled. "The only weapon drills we've done so far were against static targets. This is just..."
"Add an enemy aircraft," Archangel spoke firmly.
* * *
"Just like Begger's canyon back home," Shego murmered to herself as she swooped through a spot where the two sides of the canyon swerved inward, creating a narrower spot then average. Suddenly, an alarm she hadn't heard before sounded in the simulator cockpit. One of the monitors built into the console began flickering through images of aircraft, too fast for Shego to consciously identify any of the pictures.
"Warning," A simulated voice spoke through the speakers in Shego's helmet, so that Shego could clearly make out the words over the alarm. "Foreign aircraft detected. MiG-35."
The monitor was now displaying the outlines of an airplane, with the capabilities listed beside the outline. On Shego's visor a ghostly overlay of a radar screen appeared, showing a red blip for the approaching craft.
Shego pressed the control yoke downward as she fed additional fuel, going as low down into the canyon as she dared.
The plane flashed overhead, firing a pair of missiles downward at Shego.
Shego yanked back on the collective, cutting the vehicle's engine thrust to zero, even as she turned the vehicle's hover engines on. "Craft, fire forward flares," she ordered.
Two bright sparks shot out of the nose of the craft. One of the missiles fired from the MiG tracked on one of the flares, the second was not so fooled.
Shego tilted her head up, her helmet hud responding by switching to a camera view of the space behind her vehicle, still with the ghostly radar overlay. Her hands moved on the control as her vehicle flow backwards.
The second missile tried to follow Shego but impacted against the narrow canyon opening Shego had flown through just a few minutes ago.
"Craft, radio scan."
"No incoming transmissions," the synthesized voice reported. "Warning. MiG 35 is circling and coming back."
"I can see that!" Shego said. "Fine, he wants to fight? Craft, activate weapons."
* * *
One of the simulator control monitors showed an above shot of what the craft looked like. The image shifted as weapon pods deployed from the nose and sides of the craft.
* * *
"All weapon systems active," the synthesized voice said.
"Craft, arm missile. Set to air-to-air," Shego ordered.
"Multi-function missile activated and set for air-to-air function."
Shego twisted the controls. The craft popped up out of the canyon, facing toward the returning MiG. As the MiG opened up with machine gun fire, Shego leaned the control stick as far to the side as she could, causing her vehicle to slide toward the right, narrowly dodging the gun fire.
"Target lock," the synthetic voice reported.
Shego hit the 'fire' button on her yoke, then hit the thrust controls. A missile lept from the side of her vehicle, then she shot off at an angle.
Apparently not detecting the weapon's launch, the MiG turned to track on Shego's craft. Before he could fire a third missile, the missile Shego had launched impacted on the side of his plane, producing a brilliant (simulated) fireball.
"Yahoo, Jester's dead!" Shego shouted.
"Impressive knowledge of pop-culture references," Archangel said, his voice coming over the simulator's main speaker system. "But you haven't finished flying through the canyon yet."
Shego growled but brought her craft back down into the canyon. "Craft, deactivate weapons," she ordered, even as she continued flying through the narrow twists and turns.
* * *
"Splash four," Shego said. She scanned the ghostly radar projected on her visor. "No sign of any additional bogies." She idly pressed a set of buttons on the collective, checking her list of remaining armament. As an added challenge, the verbal command interface was disabled for this simulation. "Firebomb selected, preparing to sterilize area."
"Roger, Shego," the tech acting as her 'control'.
"Insert another two bogies."
The tech turned, startled. "Mr. Archangel?"
"Insert another two bogies," said Archangel, repeating himself. "And this time, make them Raptors."
"Sir... she's out of missiles," said the tech.
Shego watched the simulated flames spread over the target area. Whoever had programmed the simulator had done an impressive job; she could feel the difference in responsiveness now that her virtual craft no longer had the equally virtual fire bombs aboard. Suddenly, the alarm shrieked in the cabin. She checked the radar, spotting two red blips moving extremely close to her. Even with the bombs gone, she wouldn't be able to outun them. "Control, I see two planes approaching. Are they hostile?" she asked.
She waited a moment, then repeated her question.
"Er, yes. Hostile," the tech finally said.
Shego hit a couple of buttons, wishing the verbal interface was online. The craft's controls had been clearly designed for two hands; taking a hand off one of the controls was a tricky maneuver. "Electronic counter measures online," she reported, then got ready to push the craft's engines to maximum. "I'm going to make them come after me, then brake so they overshoot. With luck, I can keep repeating that trick till I'm back in safe territory."
Archangel took the headset from the tech and spoke into it. "Mission paramater change," he said. "Do not leave a radius of 100 feet until the hostiles are destroyed. Repeat, 100 feet."
"You have got to be kidding!" Shego snapped. "No verbal interface, no missiles, and you want me to just be a sitting duck for them?"
"You have your orders."
Archangel handed the headst back to the tech. "When she comes out, tell her I went back to my office."
* * *
Shego ignored the receptionist and pushed the door of Archangel's office hard enough for the door to slam into the wall.
Archangel merely looked up, calmly, as Shego barged into the room.
"That will be all, Ms. Jones," Archangel said to the distraught receptionist.
"What's the big idea interfering with the sim, just to screw me over?" Shego demanded.
"I assume you shot down the two raptors?" Archangel asked, calmly.
"Finally," admitted Shego. "Of course, if that craft had been real, it would have been shot full of holes."
"Oh, it's real." said Archangel.
Shego raised an eyebrow. "I thought you hired me to test out controls for a 'theoretical' ship."
"Until we could find a pilot who could handle it in both modes, there wasn't any point to admitting it existed," said Archangel. He waited a moment, then asked, "Would you like to see it?"
* * *
"You're keeping a multi-billion dollar aircraft in a cave?" asked Shego. "With a box of scraps?"
Archangel arched an eyebrow, apparently not getting the reference, as he led her across a stone littered dessert terrain to a stone mesa. It had been an hour long trip in a modified Hummer, one of the few vehicles that had sufficient off-road capability to reach this area. "Scraps, no. Cave, yes. Since it can take off vertically, it doesn't need a runway. We've found the best way to keep something hidden is put it where someone won't look," He placed his hand against what appeared to be solid stone and a hidden passageway opened up. Shego followed him inside.
Shego was no stranger to lairs, but even she had to admit she was impressed. The mesa was hollowed out, probably naturally, but someone had then smoothed the floor until it was as flat as a pancake. About thirty feet above the floor a metal iris had been installed, complete with a ring of lights that illuminated the stone walled chamber. Several diagnostic computers and racks of equipment were scattered arround the room, but it was what was in the center of the room that drew Shego's eyes like a magnet.
It was painted jet black, except for the bright green underbelly. The nose was pointed, with two front 'wings' just in front of the side doors. The main body of the craft was behind the doors, flaring out to hold the engines that powered the craft.
"What's she called?" Shego asked, staring in unbridled desire at the vehicle. Even parked on the ground, it was obvious that the vehicle belonged in the air.
"Traditionally, the high speed VTOL craft we've made had a wolf in their name," said Archangel. "We call this one She-Wolf."
"I like," said Shego, smiling.
"Ready to take her for a spin?" Archangel asked.
* * *
The cabin had seats for three; A pilot in front, and two seats behind the pilot seat. A small room, behind the main cabin, had seats for two more people. Archangel pointed to the small room. "Passenger compartment. The door can be locked, in case your passengers aren't willing to stay there."
Shego ignored it, sitting down in the pilot's seat and buckling herself in. After all the hours on the flight simulator, she knew right where all the controls were. She reached out and hit the sequence of buttons that would startup the She-Wolf's engines.
"Hey! Don't play with my buttons!"
Shego froze, then looked arround the cabin. Archangel had strapped himself into one of the two seats behind Shego, and there was no one else in the cabin or in the cave, as far as Shego could see.
"Who said that?" Shego demanded.
"I did," the voice said, now obviously coming from the She-Wolf's speaker system.
"Shego, meet She-Wolf," said Archangel, smiling. "She-Wolf, this is Shego, the pilot we've found for you."
On the target identificication sceen, a series of photograps flickered by... different photos of Shego, from her days with Team Go to the latest photos from 'Super Villians save the world' publicity.
"She's probably going to steal me," She-Wolf said. The voice was somewhat similiar to the voice used in the simulator, but it was much more realistic. Shego could swear the voice was petulant
"A test pilot stealing a high speed VTOL from the Firm?" Archangel said. "It wouldn't be the first time."
Shego continued the power up sequence, resolving to try to ignore both Archangel and the computerized voice. "Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed..."
"What atomic batteries?" Archangel asked.
"She's quoting from the Fearless Ferret show, starring Oliver North," said She-Wolf. "Turbines powered up, disconnecting from external power. All systems are operational."
Shego picked the helmet up from the console and put it on over her head. "Prepare for lift-off," she said, as she put her hands on the controls. "Craft, ultrasonic imaging, fifty percent transparency."
"I'm just fine flying on my own," the computerized voice said. "And you don't have to say 'Craft', that's just for my idiot sister in the simulator."
"If you can fly on your own, why do you need me?" asked Shego, even as she saw a ghost overlay of the contours of the cave appear on her visor.
"She-Wolf's AI has programmed safeguards against harming humans," said Archangel. "So, she can't operate her own weapons. Also, legal restrictions mean there are strict limits on where and how fast she can fly, in autonomous mode."
"Laws!" said She-Wolf, in a voice as disdainful as Shego's own. "Those are meant for Predator drones. I'm a hundred time smarter than those robotic pigeons."
Shego snickered. "Open the pod bay doors, Hal."
"Opening the iris," said She-Wolf, as the metal panels overhead slid apart, revealing open sky above. "Space tracking shows no spy satellites overhead, FAA shows no flights nearby."
"List system status, seventy five perecent transparancy," said Shego. She frowned at the ghostly read out. "Why do the weapon systems say 'Locked'?"
"Ah," said Archangel, clearing his throat. "Use of lethal force requires authorization from a Weapons Release Officer."
"Officer? Like police officer, or a military officer?" demanded Shego.
"Neither," said Archangel. "What we have in mind was hiring you to work with a small team... very small. Transporting them to mission sites, then assisting their efforts."
"I dunno," said Shego. "I'm used to working solo."
"Did I mention that being on active status means that instead of double, we'd be paying you triple?" asked Archangel.
Shego smiled. "For that kind of money...," Shego said, pulling back on the collective so that She-Wolf lifted gracefully into the air. "I'd even be willing to pilot for Kim Possible."