Tales from Valhalla

The Fall of the Winged Warrior

Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]gmail.com>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me. If their proper owners had the slightest concept of how valuable their characters really were... I wouldn't have to write this stuff.

Summary: Some lives touch others, even though they are barely noticed. Some lives even change the fate of the world in an instant. These are their stories.

Rating : PG-13. For mature themes and all the other fun stuff that rarely makes network TV.

Feedback, It's the coin of the realm.

April 19th, 1996

Commander Gordon Blacks cursed as he slammed the throttle full open and felt the F/A-18 buck under him as the twin turbines roared into action. The tarmac became a blur under him, the lines flashing past as the big plane leapt from the ground and clawed it's way into the air with the single minded purpose of it's breed. Around and behind him, matching aircraft flung themselves into the air alongside him, and began banking as one entity even as Blacks himself pushed the stick over.

"Blacks' Arrows, in flight and on target." Blacks said with paternal pride as his squadron leveled out and settled in to a screaming sprint out to sea.

The Scramble call had come only moments earlier, catching Blacks and his squadron by surprise but far from unprepared. They'd been in their planes and airborne in less then five minutes, and that was nothing to turn ones nose up at. Even so, they only had two squadrons ready to fly and the rest were a long way away by military standards.

Even a few minutes could spell the difference between life and death. Victory and defeat.

It was Blacks and the Arrows duty to buy those few minutes for the good guys, and preferably charge the tab to the bad guys credit card.

"Weapons check." Blacks said, his voice carefully neutral, almost bored as he punched in the computer diagnostics routines himself.

His own systems came up green, of course. The ground crews were good at what they did, ad the check was just a matter of pro forma tradition, combined with a bit of common sense. Mr Murphy was a cold assed son of a bitch, and he had a habit of frequenting battlefields.

"Arrow Two, Green."

"Arrow Three, Green."

"Arrow Four, Green."

And so on down the list. Blacks acknowledged the results on a squadron level and tuned his attention more over to the orders that were quickly flowing in over the command channel.

"Bandits inbound from Niner Five Seven." The tension filled voice stammered over the radio, making Blacks smile as he shook his head. <There's a guy who could use a little detachment.>

"Intercept with Caution." The voice went on.

"No shit." Arrow Three muttered over the tac channel, to the snorts and chuckles of the rest of the squadron.

Blacks let it pass, pretending not to hear the break in radio discipline, but made a note to warn Sanders about comm discipline later.

"Birds only. Repeat, Birds only."

"Roger that, Command. Birds only." Commander Gordon 'Blackie' Blacks acknowledged, thumbing the weapons selector up to the AMRAAM switch.

That was an order he whole heartedly approved of. The last thing he wanted was the kind of war of attrition that would be forced on him if he had to use his guns in an up close and personal knife fight.

The F/A-18 vibrated heavily under him as he broke Mach and continued accelerating on target, the first hints of the looking battle seeping into his instruments as the airborne AWACS unit began to feed him target data.

<Target rich environment.> He thought grimly amused by the array of red lights that lit up his board.

"Talk about your target rich environments..." Arrow Five muttered, unknowlingly echoing his leader's thought. "Enough of em to go around this time, Bossman."

Blacks smiled tightly, but kept his voice nearly bored and detached as he responded. "Yeah Blake, but what do we do AFTER dinner?"

The echoing laughter filled the channel for a moment as Blackie checked the AWACS signal, running it through a scrubber program to beef it up. He looked up, noting the islands looming in the distance, shrouded by the morning mist, and he knew that the bandits were waiting.

"Patch from AWACS unit coming in clear and cool." Blackie muttered as he pitched the nose of his fighter up a bit until the slow beeping told him that the AMRAAM had acquired the target.

After a few moment the beeps evened out to a single long tone and the battle for the Island Chain was on.

"I have Tone." Blackie announced, his thumb coming down on the stud. "Arrow Lead... Fox Three."

Missile after missile poured from the Navy F/A-18's as they all tipped their noses up and unleashed millions of dollars worth of ordinance into the skies.

<Come fly the friendly skies you sons of bitches.> Blacks thought to himself as his second AMRAAM began beeping it's urgent message.

Tick Tock.

"I have tone. Arrow Lead... Fox Three." Blacks snarled as the AMRAAM dropped from it's pylon and fell clear of the plane before it's rocket motor spun into action, propelling it forward and away from the Hornet.

The Furball was almost a minute old when Mr Murphy made his appearance, which was probably a record as far as trouble free battles went.

Three of the bogies had broken off from the air battle, and seemed intent, rather, to inflict damage on the civilian town below.

The gouts of flame that roared up from the town was enough to chill Blacks' blood cold and he felt his stomach twist as he watched someone's home vanish in a blast of plasma and flame.

"Oh my God..." Gordon Blacks whispered in horror as he watched the fires erupt below him.

He and his squadron had hung back as ordered, pelting the enemy with their AMRAMM missiles from a 'safe' distance, until their pylons were empty and the last of the missiles long gone from the sky. But now they watched in shock as the alien craft ripped into a defenseless little town on one of the smaller islands.

Of course, even without those orders, they wouldn't have been able to get turned around in time to intercept the bandits, not if they wanted to thin the opposition as much as possible with their missiles. But as it stood now, Blacks didn't see where they had any choice.

The enemy bogies still had them outnumbered, though not by as much as earlier, but Blacks knew his job.

"Arrows... This is Arrow lead. We're going in."

The Arrows, his Arrows, followed without complaint as Blacks tipped his nose around and kicked in the afterburner. Each of them were slammed back into their seats, some even on the edge of greying out as the acceleration kicked in, as, like their namesake, they flew straight and true into the enemy's teeth.

Blasts of orange fire passed screaming sidewinders in mid air as the two howling forces hurtled towards each other, weapons blazing with a ferocity that couldn't be described, and five of the enemy craft vanished in blazing explosions, even as three of Blackie's own went up in similar balls of flaming jet fuel.

Blackie stamped on the pedals, swinging the jet around as he jerked on the stick and thumped the 'coolie cap' with his thumb. Tone sounded as the Red Element twisted and turned in his HUD, trying to escape the inevitable, but Blackie just smiled thinly and settled his thumb onto the firing stud.

Just as his HUD went dead.

"What the fuck!?" He snarled, frustrated as his instruments lost their lock and the Red slipped away.

A moment's attention to the tac channel told him that he wasn't alone, and he twisted around in his seat in an attempt to see the AWACS that was actually to far away from visual confirmation.

The motion had it's benefit, though, and what he did see was the looming Volcanic mountain that was the center piece of this island and Gordon Blacks innate sense of navigation told him what his instruments wouldn't.

That the AWACS was currently flying on the other side of that mountain of volcanic rock.

He spun around in his seat, looking around and cursed as he saw the looming mountain of the inner island pass to one side of him. "Goddamn it! They're getting below the AWACS coverage!! Don't rely on your instruments, Arrows!! Take 'em hand to hand!!"

He threw himself and his plane into the mix, guns roaring as he potted one of the reds by the old Eyeball Mark One.

The F/A-18 was like a living, breathing, entity as it twisted and turned in mid air, spitting fire and taking all comers in the devastation that existed over the sleepy Hawaiian community. All around it, men and Jaffa were dying as fighter and Glider ceased to exist one after another, but there in the center of it all, Gordon Blacks' fighter was the Grim Reaper incarnate.

Three of the Reds noted that fact, dispassionately selecting him for death, and came around on Blacks from behind.

He saw them just in time, throwing his fighter hard over as the blzing plasma from their weapons cleaved the sky around him, and began an inverted dive with all three hot on his trail.

Two thousand feet.

The terrain below spun maddeningly around him as he twisted the plane again, still evading enemy fire as the three Reds spat their rage in his direction.

Fifteen hundred feet.

Blackie flipped his fighter back over, righting the big plane as he threw on his ground mapping RADAR and chose his path by eye.

One thousand feet.

Behind him the three bandits were still firing their seemingly inexhaustible weapons, the glare of the plasma lighting his cockpit as he screamed toward the ground.

Five hundred feet.

Blackie pulled up hard.

Four Hundred.

The F/A-18 responded, it's nose coming up as the deflectors redirected the big plane's thrust, and the craft shook with the force.

Three hundred.

Blackie jerked the stick hard to post, banking past a steep hill as the wash from his jet picked up leaves, sticks, and debris from the ground and strew it in his wake.

Trees flashed by on either side of him as he entered into the volcanic valley, plane screaming as it's engines roared their defiance right along side their human pilot.

Behind him, two of the gliders entered the valley after him, but the third missed the bank and slammed into the hillside with an tremendous explosion.

Gordon Blacks was no longer human. He was his F/A-18, thirty thousand pounds of steel clad warbird, wounded but still lethal, and burning with rage at the casual damage done both to his squadron and to the civilians below.

The ground tracking RADAR squealed a warning, but Blackie had already reacted. The screaming war bird banked hard again, twisting around as it followed the curving arc of the valley floor while it's pursuers kept clawing at it's heals, their superior technology allowing them to slowly gain on their quarry despite

With less then fifty feet of altitude, actual, Gordon hit his burners.

The explosion of power and speed slammed him back into the seat, and threw the big plane forward again as it once more began to outpace it's pursuers.

The epic game of cat and mouse continued for an interminable time, until the Hornet's instruments squealed their warning once more.

Ahead of him, Blacks could see the end of the line as the valley became a solid wall of Hornet rending rock and forest. He kept his burners on, accelerating into the wall as the whiplash crack of a sonic boom rendered the ground behind him to torn wreckage.

Hornet and Death Gliders screamed through the deadly, twisting, maze as the end came closer and closer, until, suddenly, the Hornet threw it's nose up and clawed for the sky once more.

Head pinned back, body flattened, Blackie fought against the red haze that was filling his vision as he went vertical. Behind him the two Gliders followed suit, pulling up in pursuit, but one of them wasn't quite fast enough and it's wing was shorn off by a stand of trees, leaving it to spin helplessly into the solid rock face of the valley wall.

Blackie didn't notice. Didn't care.

He had one more to handle, and that was all that existed.

As the Hornet roared into the sky he cut the After Burner and dropped the throttle, his feet working the pedals and his hand twisting the stick as the big plane shuddered and seemed to hesitate in mid motion.

For Blackie, it was like being weightless of a sudden. His body floated with the plane as it seemed to pause at the apogee of it's climb, twisting in space as it started to fall.

The peace of the moment was shattered as the instruments screamed at him.


A series of puffs sounded behind him as he felt the engines go out, and then the big plane began fell from the sky.

Blacks right hand worked the stick as his left hit the engine startup sequence in rapid motion, pulling the nose of the plane back around as he completed the Immelman despite the loss of power, and saw the glider shoot past him as it's pilot misjudged his speed, or lack there of.

<Via Con Dios.> He thought nastily as his right index finger tightened up on the trigger, sending five hundred glider shredding rounds of twenty millimeter cannon fire into his enemy.

The Glider vanished into a cloud of metal shrapnel and expanding plasma, and then was gone.

And all that remained was Blacks' plummeting fighter.

<Come on baby... Come on...> He thought desperately, repeating the sequence over and over until he felt, then heard, the engines sputter again.

<YES!> He crowed to himself, a wide smile filling his face as the engines roared back to life, and then he pulled the plane out of it's stall and circled back around toward the main fight once more.

Blacks winced as he identified the surviving IFF transponders, and looked over the raging battle.

<So many dead.> He had to shake himself free of the melancholy attached to that thought,. He had no time for it as he raced back into the fight.

They weren't going to be enough, that was certain, Blacks knew. The Reds had the advantage of numbers and technology here, and were using it well enough to ensure that the Arrows would be dead before long. Their only hope was to inflict enough damage for a long enough time, in order to allow their reinforcements to finish the job they'd started.

Blackie gritted his teeth, lining up his next target as his roared back into the battle, and prepared to face his fate.

And then the skies opened up and fire from above struck down Glider after Glider like something out of the Old Testament.

Four startling craft ripped into the fight, weapons spitting death on high to any Glider that crossed their sights, and it suddenly looked like the good guys might just have another one chalked up in the win column.

"Well gollee..." Arrow Sic drawled humorously. "Will you look at those purty bird fly."

Blacks fought the temptation to close his eyes at the idiot slang Six was drawling over the net, and satisfied himself with a mild reprimand. "Keep Com discipline, Six."

By that time, of course, his order was as pointless as it was late.

"Hot damn!" Arrow three crowed as another bandit went down in flames. "What rank do you have to be to qualify for those babies!?"

"Probably a Captain..." Arrow five muttered, "In NASA."

"Those eggheads? Please. If they'd designed those birds they'd be trying to talk the bandits to death."

"Awright!" Blacks broke in, his voice aggravated. "Can the chit chat and get back to work, Arrows!"

The radio chatter died out quickly and Blacks led his Arrows back into the fray.

The newcomers were fast, and hit harder then anything he'd ever seen. In fact, if he weren't such a hot pilot himself, Gordon Blacks would probably have felt just a little intimidated.

Just a little.

But he kept up his end, just the same, and there were enough targets to go around.

More then enough, in all truth, he thought as he potted another Glider and took a moment to assess the situation.

The situation sucked, he summed up a second later.

Below them, the town was ablaze despite everything they could do, and the skies were a slaughterhouse. Without the newcomers, his team would already be dead, but even with them the Arrows were down by half, and then some, and things were still grim as all hell.

The newcomers in their advanced fighters were doing well enough, he supposed, but the those 'mere mortals' still using twentieth century technology were fighting on a less then equal footing. And that meant that they were still dying.

Commander Blacks shook that thought from his head as he picked out another Red from the sky and looped around after it. It wasn't until he was already on an intercept course that he noticed that the Glider was moving in on one of the newcomers.

"Oh no you don't." Blackie hissed, edging the throttle up as he charged in.

The F/A-18 was almost a slug compared to the sleek advanced fighters that had ruled the fight from the moment they arrived, but pushing Mach 2 was fast enough to close the distance in mere seconds. The Advanced Fighter flashed by, only meters under him as Blackie dropped his Hornet between the two and tightened his finger on the trigger.

The Hornet's 20mm cannon roared as the Glider spat fire back at him, and the two raced towards the inevitable clash.

For a brief moment in Gordon Blacks life, everything seemed to slow down. He saw the future in that moment, and saw two paths.

In the first, he pulled up, he evaded fire and survived this battle. At the cost of the life of a pilot who risked their life for his men.

In the other, he didn't.

Then the moment was past. The decision made.

Orange Plasma tore the wing from Arrow One as the first of Blackie's cannon rounds ripped into their target, perforating alien metal like ice picks through cardboard. Blackie fought as the plane started to spiral, using the engine controls to keep the gun on target for as long as possible.

Three hundred rounds tore the Glider to shreds, and Gordon Black smiled as five more plasma bursts turned his fighter into a falling cloud of shrapnel.

Xander Harris saw the explosion behind him and his breath caught for a moment as he noted the death of another ally in the never to be sufficiently damned war he was caught in. He didn't have time to honor the dead for the moment, but he would.

Oh yes.

He would.

But first, The Living.

The World went white.

And Gordon Blacks blinked, not noticing any difference eyes open or closed.

"Where am I?" He asked, looking around.

A form materialized from the white background, a female form in antiquated armor. She smiled at him and crossed her arms over her chest in greeting as she bowed.

"Gordon Blacks... Welcome to Valhalla."

The End


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