CyberVette - Part 2
by Racer Dan
Several weeks ago, the C5 Squadron was visited by a couple of GM operatives, and agreed to investigate the cause of some classified pictures from cyberspace. These pictures, locked securely in a vault until now, were taken from a camera mounted inside the C5 Corvette that was teleported from Detroit to LA during the unveiling.
General Motors was very concerned about the video, as it exposed some top secret information that they were sure was secured back at Detroit. In an effort to determine if they had a leak at headquarters, or a spy gathering information and filtering it through cyberspace, they enlisted the help of the C5 Squadron, now famous for their clandestine missions...
It had been several weeks in preparation for the trip. Special equipment had to be ordered in, the C5 Squadron's newest mission required the construction of a totally new design. This mission would require an aircraft that had the capabilities of penetrating the outer layers of atmosphere around the Earth, and into outer space. Re-entry was another concern that had to be dealt with. Then there was the computer tracking that determined the exact moment in time and space when the exit and entry were accomplished. One false move, and the Squadron's newest aircraft would be at best "Lost in Space" or at worst melted into a speck of dust as it hit the earth's atmosphere.
Fortunately, the Squadron had a lot of supporters. First to step up to help was a few Corvette owners from the past. Requesting their names not be exposed for obvious reasons, they enlisted the help of several NASA engineers. On a remote corner of the Warner Robins Air Force base in Warner Robins, GA. a huge hanger was built to construct the aircraft. Several engineers from the north side of Atlanta, building the F22 Fighter Jet for the Air Force were drafted for the project as well. They worked through the night and weekends for a common cause.
The remote control robots that patrolled the perimeter of the hanger had kept this mission completely secure. The only breach of security was attempted by a stray raccoon, which unfortunately required a private burial.
Racer Dan pulled out the video, and plugged it into the big screen system. Three rows of TV screens, three high formed a huge cube so all in the room could see. The C5 Headquarters near Tara field was a perfect place for the debriefing. Every member of the Squadron was there, as were two visitors with high security passes dangling on a metal chain like dog tags.
The screens came alive, and there was a short introduction. Then the tape exposed what the mission was all about. As the video of the C5 Corvette's trip through cyberspace unfolded before their eyes, a few in the room made a gasp as the video showed what appeared to be a ... er ... well let's just say a shocking photo of what was obviously a Corvette, in a very futuristic styling. The video finished and one of the two visitors spoke up.
"Gentlemen, we have a serious problem. There are only 4 people in General Motors that know of what you have just seen. This futuristic Corvette was first drawn up during the study for a C5 Corvette. It was selected as "too radical" of a change in design for the public, and we elected to secure the drawings until the C5 Corvette was produced in sufficient numbers to allow for the next generation of Corvette styling. Seeing this video with an actual working model made with this same drawing that we have secured is alarming at best. We have verified the drawings are still secure and have not been copied or removed from our vault. Somehow, this secret has come out, but we do not have any idea where the model we saw here is, only that we didn't build it. We believe that our competition has built it and will steal our design.
Your mission is to locate, and identify which competitor has stole this design. We have no idea what risks this will pose to your squadron, but can only tell you we appreciate your help in exposing this serious crime against us.
Silence remained in the room for several seconds. Then one by one the Squadron pledged their support. The two men left, and the Junkyard Warrior introduced the newest member of the Squadron: "Gentlemen - I want you all to meet Carl. Carl has an extensive background with the military and the Air Force. He has the knowledge necessary to help us pilot this new Aircraft throughout this mission. He will be running a recon mission first, to gather information and data. If necessary, he will be available to fly future missions in this unexplored area, as we see fit.
Then the Squadron team that headed up the engineering of the new Aircraft took turns explaining the modifications done on it. John and the Tall Cool One covered the engines and propulsion systems. Shane covered the radar and guidance systems, and the Blue Streak covered the photo equipment. Glen covered the electronics systems, and Ernie covered weapons. JW commented that if worst comes to worst, the pilot could dismantle the Twinkie launcher for back up food supply, and everyone looked at Carl and laughed. I wondered what several days of eating twinkies would do to a man...
We met the next day in Warner Robins at the hanger, and rolled out the new Squadron Aircraft. It was Memorial Day, and most of the base was on holiday so it was the best day for the mission to happen. The craft was awesome. The sun reflected heavily on its stainless steel outer skin. It was smooth and sleek. A small curved window in the front allowed the one pilot vision of his surroundings, but most of his vision would actually be from his heads up display on his helmet, which included a video display from every direction. Its' wings were swept back for supersonic speeds, and the bottom of the craft was covered with heat absorbing tiles. As an added touch the tiles were placed in a checkerboard fashion alternating colors of black and white. "Nice touch for a Corvette" Blue Streak commented.
The front of the craft had racing flames painted where the cover for the engines were. Shane was smiling as we nodded our approval. The fuselage was filled with tanks for the liquid fuel necessary for powering the engines in outer space. The graphics on the side clearly stated the home base of the shining jet, "The C5 Squadron's "Silver Stealth". A National Corvette Museum logo was displayed on each side of the tail. The newest logo of the Corvette found on the C5 Corvette was inlaid into the jet's nose, an appropriate place.
Equipped with the ability to make a vertical take off and landing makes this a very versatile craft, explained Carl. After a 2 hour review, the aircraft was rolled into the modified booth that had transported the C5 Corvette on January th to LA. It was almost 3:30 PM before the doors were securely shut, and the transporter's power was turned on. The Tall Cool One had the privilege of handing out a cigar to each team member, for the celebration once Carl was safely back in Warner Robins. The rest of the team left to go back to headquarters, so they could follow the trip on the big screen system. Scheduled departure of the SILVER STEALTH was at 1700 hours. Only Carl and the engineering team stayed behind; we all wished him a safe journey as we left.
1700 hours came quickly. The Squadron was restless until Carl finally turned on the camera systems. The video screens at headquarters were wired so each screen showed a different view. The top screen was a view of a small 1/4 inch camera embedded into Carl's helmet, showing us what he was looking at. The next screen displayed the pilot's navigational and weapons systems, while the rest of the screens displayed views from the front, rear, left, right, above and below views from the outside of the craft. The center screen displayed the navigation computer display that tracked where the Silver Stealth was in relationship to the earth.
The transporter took a little over one minute to send Carl on his way, the team at the base reported. For several minutes the videos were all black, except for Carl's helmet cam and the systems camera. The Jet was still being transported, the engines were at idle, but Carl was ready to kick in the throttle to break away from the transporter's guidance as soon as he noticed the opportunity. Then the outside cameras started flashing, you could barely make out anything, just alternate light and then blackness. The computer prompted Carl to break out after only 2 1/2 minutes through this newest zone of alternating light. His voice was obviously elevated due to adrenaline in his system as he reported his emotions and the performance of the Jet. "Sudden acceleration to 5.4 G's... feels like the flight suit is about to squeeze me in half... but it feels GOOD!" He continued. I am free of the transporter. I am in flight, reducing throttle to investigate the lights I am passing. He slowly throttled down, and as he did the lights were much more visible, like those of the video we were shown from the GM tape.
Finally he stopped at one of the lighted areas, and there were cheers in the room. We were all shocked to see what appeared to be a window of a clear sky, on earth. Carl suggested he investigate, slowly rotating the jet 90 degrees and then took off through the window. He set a heading, and slowly descended toward the ground below. All of his cameras were recording his journey. As we got to 1000 feet, we could clearly see that he was not in 1997! He come to a road with nothing but old cars on it... mostly in the fifties. There was a Hudson, and a Studebaker. Several Plymouths and Fords from 52's to 57. We were amazed at their near mint condition, and the surroundings as well. Then Carl speaks up: "Unbelievable- this must be 1957! Here comes a new bright red 57 Chevrolet!!!" We all watched as the cameras displayed a red convertible driving directly below the Stealth.
The computer tracking showed that Carl had never left the base geographically, and that led us to believe he had actually stumbled across a window in time. The computer directed him back to the exact spot he flew through earlier, and he was back into the "tunnel" of alternating light. He traveled the tunnel for almost another minute, and suggested he try another window. As he cut through the clouds, he finally come across a large metropolitan area. He circled it a couple times then drifted low enough for us to see the view below. The city was unrecognizable. It was covered with skyscrapers, and had four bypasses around it. Traffic on the roads was busy, and the view we saw was amazing to say the least. The screens showed a number of unfamiliar vehicles, and it was only a few minutes of filming when he saw his first Corvette! It was a white beauty. It had the styling like the video we had seen earlier in the week, but it was a Corvette. The crossed flags were prominently displayed on its' nose. And the convertible top was down allowing us to recognize the gauges that were so popular with the C5 Corvette. There were several new features that we could not believe. The driver was not holding onto the steering wheel at all! It was barely protruding from the dash. In front of the console in the dash was what appeared to be a TV screen, about 8" big.
Carl perked up and said: " I am going to follow this thing till it stops so I can accurately identify it." It was several minutes before it finally pulled off of the bypass, and into a parking lot at a mall. Carl navigated the Silver Stealth to a remote area of the lot, and landed using the vertical landing. It took him several minutes to walk to the white vehicle we saw, and we were all getting concerned that it might be gone before he got there...
The C6 Corvette
Carl could not believe his luck. As he walked up to the vehicle he could clearly make out the Corvette emblem on the rear facia. The oval tail lights were actually smooth with the facia itself, as was the license plate. It reminded me of the surface top stove in our hanger's kitchen. There were no door handles anywhere, and the wheels were partially covered with fender skirts of a sort. There was no outside rear view mirrors on the vehicle, either! The driver of the car approached Carl without him knowing and said to him "Hey- what are you doing?"
It startled Carl, and he quickly responded "I have an older Corvette, and just wanted to look at the differences between this one and it..." The driver introduced himself to Carl, and they started comparing the differences between the C5 and the C6. "This Corvette is actually a 06 model..." the owner said. Carl looked at him in a puzzling look, and he continued "It was made in 06. It has the remote navigation for hands free driving, the optional radar braking system, and can accelerate 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds using the AAS - auto accelerator system."
Carl told him it sure is different from his C4, and the driver remarked "You got a C4? Damn, I never met someone who actually still has one. The last one I saw was in Bowling Green at the Museum..."
Carl said curiously "The museum??? What is it like now?" The driver responded with a smile "Where you been man? I thought everyone has been there! It is awesome. It has all of the Corvette models from every single year in both Coupe and Convertible, along with the proto type cars. They have 54 years of Corvettes, it is three stories high and covers over 60 acres now. With the race track around it and the old Corvette plant, it is a big draw for kids of all ages. They even have this huge hanger with ALL of the old C5 Squadron Jet Fighters in it- the Red White and Blue Zora's Special, the Blue Streak, there are yellow, blue, red ones, even the Silver Stealth!. And the best of all, the Museum contributes millions of dollars a year to build good will toward needy kids all over the world. Hey, if you aren't doing anything... you want to go up there some time, I'd be glad to take you. It is only about an hour from Atlanta..."
"An hour?" Carl replied in disbelief. The driver smiled and said "Sure! Heck with the new autobahn they put in, I can get this Corvette there in record time. You know it tops out at just over 257 mph...". He gave Carl his cell phone number, and then said he had to go. Carl watched as he took off, amazed at the newest Corvette's design and performance. Then he walked slowly back to the jet. He suited back up, and then took off. As he circled the mall, he again saw the Corvette, and decided a fly by was in order. He flew up behind it as it reached the autobahn, and was cranking up speed. He slowly reduced throttle so the driver could see the Silver Stealth, and as the driver's mouth opened and waved back, Carl pulled up, did a barrel roll and shot into the clouds. He had a satisfied feeling now, and knew it was time to go home.
Carl shared with us his experience. He was real excited. We were too. We found out what GM had thought was someone copying their design as their own car, just years ahead of us in time! The rest of the mission went without a hitch. The computer relinked Carl with the transporter's signal, and he was safely guided back to Warner Robins in a matter of minutes. His landing at the base was picture perfect, and as he climbed out of the Silver Stealth, we were all there to greet him. He popped the top on a bottle of Champagne, and we all lit our cigars. We headed for the kitchen and sat around the tables drinking a few cold beers and telling lies.
We partied through the night, and it was late when Carl finally come over to me to ask a favor. I wasn't really shocked at his request for another mission. After all he got to see something no other person had in the world. But his request was at first a little unusual. He asked "Hey Racer Dan... could I possibly go back to this window again next weekend?" I thought I could cover the expenses, so I asked him why he wanted to return. He responded: "Got an invitation to go to the Corvette Museum! In a brand new "06" Corvette. Sure would like to see all of those Corvettes and the track and all..."
Racer Dan took a deep drag off of his cigarette, and slowly crushed it out in the ashtray on the table. Then he looked at Carl, and said to him "Sure Carl, I should be back by then..."
Carl looked at him curiously and asked him where he was going. Racer Dan got up a big smile and said proudly, "Got to go to the Labor Day Reunion at the Museum. I think I will shoot for the 20th anniversary. It ought to be a blast. I am going to take my camera. Gotta get a few shots before that damn Randall does in Nashville. He beat me on the C5 by a few lousy hours late last year. Let's just see if he can beat me on this!"