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chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014





I think most people who read this thread are already following Cyrano's Let's Read of the rapetastic Ghost series by John Ringo, because that wild ride is what reminded me of Mack Maloney.

I'm going to come right out and say that I thought Wingman was loving awesome when I was in middle school and high school. It's got all the crazy action, cool jets, hot babes, and gory death scenes that make a teenage boy excited. I read almost all of the books, even the ones where Hawk suddenly finds himself launched into an alternate universe because the author wanted to make another few books after killing off Hawk but ran out of plausible ideas.

But as an adult, I can firmly say that "plausible" is not a word that ever entered Mack's mind. Published in March of 1987, the first Wingman novel is an exercise in ridiculous pulp. Mack Maloney is a pulp writer of the type who throws whatever crosses his mind onto the page, seemingly without an editor performing any tasks except making sure that spelling is fine and the worst plot holes are taken care of. Wingman flies in the face of logic at every turn, making for a glorious journey of insanity that sounds like something Calvin would make up as an adult. C-5 Galaxy cargo planes converted into gunships? St. Louis having its entire economy based around giant football games? A column of SAMs stretching from Canada to Mexico? It's all there.

quote:

The Big War started in Western Europe with a Soviet nerve gas attack that laid waste to France, Germany, and Spain. The world’s democracies fought back, and pilots like Hawk Hunter led the charge—tearing across the flaming wreckage of the continent at supersonic speeds. They pushed the Russians back and just when victory was in sight, a traitor at the highest level of government turned off America’s missile defense system, and Soviet nukes rained from the sky.

Two years after the nuclear holocaust, Hunter gets a message to report to his old commander. America is in pieces: Pirates rule the skies, and an airborne armada is plotting to attack Football City (formerly known as St. Louis). The armada is made up of criminals flying state-of-the-art jets, and even though the government can only offer Hunter his old F-16, he will do whatever it takes to reclaim his ravaged homeland.

The first novel isn't quite as wacky as the later ones, as it mainly serves to establish the state of existence and get Hawk Hunter in the pilot's seat.

That brings me to the next point: Hawk Hunter. Yes, named after the Hawker Hunter. Our protagonist is the quintessential Mary Sue: one of the greatest geniuses in the world (especially when it comes to aircraft), handsome, virile, an expert marksman and commando, and the single greatest pilot history has ever seen and will ever see. He's capable of flying any aircraft in the world however he wants, making him virtually immune to danger when he's not facing a literal army. He even has a form of ESP, allowing him to sense incoming aircraft with exacting precision.

For "fans" of John Ringo, I'd say the biggest change is that these books actually aren't written all that bad. They're hardly classic literature, but Mack crosses his T's and dots his I's. Even though it has all the gratuitous sex and violence of any good John Ringo book, it's not written in Ringo's creepy fetishistic way for the most part. Whereas John Ringo's books are masturbatory fanfiction for 14-year-old Republicans, Mack Maloney's books are like a psychotic love letter to the genre of pulp action.

GENERAL TRIGGER WARNINGS

This is a bit late on the draw, but I felt a need to put this in here in case of any new viewers stumbling upon this thread. This series includes gratuitous violence, rape (both forceful and statutory), heavy drug use, and extremely poor research of military equipment. Turn back now if you are sensitive to any of this.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 19:30 on Jan 24, 2017

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JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


I dunno, it's hard to get up in arms when the author isn't 100% sure that his poo poo is actually gold.

Inspector_666
Oct 7, 2003

benny with the good hair


chitoryu12 posted:

C-5 Galaxy cargo planes converted into gunships? St. Louis having its entire economy based around giant football games? A column of SAMs stretching from Canada to Mexico? It's all there.

I want all of this.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Inspector_666 posted:

I want all of this.

And you will get it. This first book just covers things like Football City and the air pirates, but as soon as you get to #2 it just goes hard and doesn't stop.

I think Mack likes to write each novel with some high "concept" behind it. Like "There's a line of SAMs cutting the country in half and you need to find MacGuffins to stop it" or "Neo-Nazis have put nuclear mines in the Panama Canal, funded by Incan gold" or "We have a huge armored train traveling across the country that needs to be protected." He creates this cool idea in his head and then just bases the story around it. Actual overarching plot progression and character deaths occur around this singular concept, which changes from book to book.

ulmont
Sep 15, 2010

IF I EVER MISS VOTING IN AN ELECTION (EVEN AMERICAN IDOL) ,OR HAVE UNPAID PARKING TICKETS, PLEASE TAKE AWAY MY FRANCHISE


chitoryu12 posted:

I'm going to come right out and say that I thought Wingman was loving awesome when I was in middle school and high school. It's got all the crazy action, cool jets, hot babes, and gory death scenes that make a teenage boy excited.

I had forgotten I read some of these until I saw the cover. I remember them fondly if vaguely.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



It's a bit ambiguous as to when this takes place. 10 years meshes with the 1997 date given in one of the later books if Mack used the publishing date of 1987 as his point of divergence, while 2 years would put this novel in 1989. It doesn't matter a whole lot, as the book doesn't like to throw out dates often and technology tends to be a fairly generic "late 80s to late 90s" depending on when Mack wrote.

quote:

He knew the airplane was coming. It was an early spring day. The sun was shining. The whole mountain was melting, coming to life again after the long, cold winter. The airplane was still some distance away, but the sound was unmistakable. He closed his eyes and saw it. Small engine, no more than 200 horse. It was a Piper Cub—10, maybe 15 miles to the southeast. One of the airplane’s pistons was misfiring slightly.

He waited. For two years, one month and six days he had lived on the top of the New Hampshire mountain. The camp—nothing more than a shack with a bed and a wood stove—had belonged to his family years before. He had visited there many times while growing up, so he knew the isolated mountain area well. But two years of trapping rabbits, opening cans and drinking nothing but stream water or melted snow was no life for a fighter pilot. He hadn’t seen or talked to a soul in all that time. And until he had heard this airplane approaching, he wasn’t sure that there was anything flying anywhere. He wasn’t even sure if there were any people left.

Immediately after this paragraph, the book begins throwing backstory at you over the course of two pages. It feels as though Mack couldn't wait to get to the cool poo poo and decided that "show, don't tell" is for pussies.

2 years ago, Hawk Hunter had just arrived at Cape Canaveral for pilot training for the Space Shuttle on Christmas Eve. Suddenly, the Soviet Union launched tens of thousands of nerve gas Scud missiles at Western Europe, killing millions before invading and simultaneously nuking China apparently just because. NATO (or as Mack calls it, the "Free World") struck back, and every country that had a beef with its neighbor decided that now would be the best time to start up their own war for some reason. Hawk was part of the 16th Tactical Fighter Wing (which operates as the Thunderbirds aerobatic team in this universe, when in reality 57th Wing handles that), which was deployed to Spain and immediately put into combat.

World War III lasted for only 2 months, with everything from knives to laser satellite duels described as being a part of the fighting. It finally ended with 48 hours of non-stop air combat, over 4000 aircraft in 200 square miles, to the point where the fighting on the ground stopped to watch a two day air battle. The American-led NATO won the war with that giant battle, with a ceasefire and armistice being signed. Unfortunately, the Vice President happened to be a Soviet mole; he and his henchmen assassinated the President and the entire Cabinet and lowered the Star Wars defense shields long enough for 150 nuclear missiles to obliterate the US military's own silos, turning the midsection of the United States into a blasted radioactive wasteland in the process.

quote:

The Piper was now right in front of him, slow enough so he could read the sign: HUNTER—REPORT TO OTIS—JONES

It sounded crazy. Was the message for someone who was out shooting deer and for some reason had to report back to a guy named Otis at the request of Mr. Jones? Who were they? Game wardens? Then, as the plane flew on past, it hit him.

Could he be the “Hunter” they were looking for? Had he been up on the mountain so long that he didn’t even recognize his own name? Otis had to mean Otis Air Force Base, out on Cape Cod. And that meant there was only one Jones it could be—General Seth Jones, hero of the European Theater. The man the allies had followed into battle against the Russian Air Force. The man who had almost single-handedly won the war. The man on whose wing he had flown for two years in peacetime with the Thunderbirds and two months in wartime with the 16th. Jones was the man who had nominated him for the space program. The man who flew with his father in Viet Nam. The man who had watched over him since the day his parents’ plane crashed. The man who had named him his own wingman the very first day he had climbed into his F-16. And now Jones wanted him to report to Otis.

He was packed and gone by noon.

The prologue ends here, then picks up 3 weeks later when Hawk is approaching Otis AFB in the early morning. Hawk identifies the signs that the base is active, but grows suspicious:

quote:

He approached the base cautiously. He had spent the night in the woods nearby, the last time he’d have to sleep in a battered makeshift lean-to—or so he hoped. Standing at the very edge of the base perimeter, he pressed against the chain link fence and peered in. For all he knew, this could be a Russian base, or that of some kind of Russian client’s occupying army.

Or was this a base camp of the army of The New Order? What was The New Order? Hunter could never really figure it out. Even before the dust had settled from the Russian sneak attack on the American ICBM sites, the Vice President was issuing orders to all military personnel still in the country to start enforcing The New Order. Laws that said there would no longer be 50 states, that America would be broken up into a dozen small countries and a patchwork of free territories. The traitor had said this was the settlement he had reached with the Russian Peace Committee to end the war—the war that everyone conveniently forgot American forces had won. But the swiftness that the new ruling came down smacked of years of pre-planning. (God only knew how long ago the Russian moles had infiltrated the American government!)

There were so many questions: Why had some in-country National Guard units immediately started doing the Vice President’s bidding—destroying military equipment, burning state capitol buildings, universities and libraries, blowing up TV and radio transmitters? How long had these units been compromised? The idea had been to complete the isolation of the American citizen. Not to let the ordinary Joe catch on that the Soviet Armed Forces were lying in cinders scattered all over Europe and Asia, decisively beaten by the Free World. It was the Big Lie. Win the battle, lose the war.

The soldier standing guard at the gate is pointed out as wearing a bright green uniform, a chrome parade helmet, and a revolver in a cowboy holster and sawed-off shotgun. Not exactly military. The flag flying over the guardhouse is described as a mishmash jumble of green, blue, and white covered in stars, stripes, and dollar signs; the sign on the roof claims the base is the Flight Operations Center of the Armed Forces of the Northeast Economic Zone.

As Hunter approaches the guard, we learn exactly how he appears: hair past his shoulders, a chest-length beard, threadbare clothes, an old laundry bag full of his stuff, and an M16 and an "ammo belt" (it's ambiguous whether he's wearing a Vietnam-style bandoleer of pouches or a 5.56mm ammo belt for a machine gun).

quote:

Just as he was about to speak to the guard, he heard a roar and instinctively looked in its direction. There was a trail of smoke and an orange spit of light, burning through the morning mist, but the outline was unmistakable. He felt a surge run through him—it was that feeling again. He watched as the fighter jet quickly disappeared into the low clouds. The sentry raised his gun and cocked it. Hunter smiled and raised his hand in the universal sign of peace. “Major Hawker Hunter to see General Jones,” he said.

As Hawk heads into General Seth Jones' office, he gives a little more exposition: when their wing was at the base in Spain, Finnish Peace Troops were used to destroy the 16th TFW's aircraft and arrest Jones under the armistice agreement signed by the traitorous Vice President. Jones is an old, lean man who's let his hair grow out a little. Jones is likewise in a garish, bright green jumpsuit like the other guard and points out that it's the Northeast Economic Zone military uniform.

quote:

“Where have you been, Major? Hibernating?”

“Worse than that, sir,” Hunter replied, still standing ramrod straight at attention. “I’ve been contemplating my existence.”

“Obviously, you’re suffering from post-World War III syndrome,” the general said.

“It’s been going around.” Hunter continued. “Got a bunch of books, went up to a mountain and tried to find the meaning of life, sir.

“Jesus, not that!”

“’Fraid so, sir.”

“And what conclusions did you reach, Major?”

Hunter paused a moment for effect, then replied, “Well, sir, I discovered that every man has to believe in something.”

“And …?”

“And,” Hunter said, looking around the general’s empty office. “And, I believe I’ll have a drink, sir.”

“Scotch?”

“Neat, sir.”

With the wave of his hand, Jones dismissed the properly impressed, if slightly confused sentry. He walked around the desk and hugged Hunter. “Good to see you, Hawk,” he said. “Same here, sir.” Jones locked the office door and broke out his emergency bottle. “Had breakfast yet?” he asked. Despite the early morning hour, they sat and ate stale doughnuts, while mixing the no-brand whiskey in with cups of steaming coffee. Then they talked. “Well, Hawk,” Jones said, swigging his laced coffee. “What the hell happened to you after Rota?” “You really want to know?” “Sure as hell,” Jones said, smiling. “You tell me your story and I’ll tell you mine.” Hunter took a deep breath. It seemed like so long ago. “Okay,” he said. “Hang onto your hat.”

Hunter explains that after Jones was arrested in Spain, the 16th TFW scattered. He hitchhiked and bribed his way to France and across the Channel to Loch Lomond, Scotland, where he knew an American submarine base was. He found 10,000 other GIs with the same idea, all fighting for space on a few ships. Hunter found a group of calm, orderly Marines (in the Wingman universe, the United States Marine Corps. is the best non-commando outfit in the world and a calm, organized force to be reckoned with) and pulled rank to get taken to their commanding officer, John "Bull" Dozer. Dozer's unit, the 7th Cavalry, had been fighting in Turkey when World War III ended. When he found out about the nuking of the United States, his group hijacked two Turkish airliners to fly 900 soldiers back to Loch Lomond (you can tell this is a pre-9/11 book)

After the half-dozen ships in Loch Lomond left, the USSJohn F. Kennedy arrived and picked up Hunter and the 7th Cavalry. 10 days later the aircraft carrier returned to a stereotype: Manhattan burning, the Statue of Liberty decapitated. While the 7th Cavalry wanted to reach Fort Meade in Maryland, Hunter had his sights set on the family cabin in New Hampshire.

quote:

Dozer formed his troops into one main column and gave them the order to march. Their destination was the George Washington Bridge. The sound of gunfire was everywhere. No one had a clue as to who was fighting whom, but most of the destroyed equipment they came across bore the markings of the National Guards of New York and New Jersey. Were the two states battling it out for possession of the island?

They were nearing Central Park East when they ran into trouble. Scouts stationed ahead of the column got word back to Dozer that a small group of armed men were holding two women at gunpoint three blocks away. Using hand signals, Dozer instructed his men to surround the gunmen. When one of the gang members raised his rifle the armed men were cut down in a volley of murderous gunfire.

And then a strange thing happened. One by one, civilians started to appear. They had been hiding in doorways, alleys and in buildings. Shyly, cautiously at first, they began to emerge from their hiding places. Soon, there were a couple of hundred of them—old men, women, children. Some of them were wounded; all of them were caught in the terrifying madness of the anarchy in New York City.

One man was particularly happy. He was running up and down the street, waving a small American flag and yelling “The Marines are here!” Just as he was running up to Hunter and Dozer, a shot rang out. The man’s chest exploded from the sniper’s bullet. He fell right into Hunter’s arms. He gasped and tried to speak, but all that came out was “…Why…shoot…me?” Then he died.

Hunter laid the man’s body down on the street. He was about 65 years old, Hunter figured, just one of millions of New Yorkers. He located the man’s wallet and looked inside. His driver’s license said he was Saul Wackerman. A photo showed him, his white-haired wife and two daughters. Another photo showed his son—apparently an Israeli soldier—in full uniform. Hunter looked back at the man.

He was still gripping the American flag, so much so that Hunter had some difficulty prying it from his fingers. He folded the flag and put it in his own pocket. The look on Saul Wackerman’s face would haunt the pilot for many years to come.

This is the first sign the book gives you of the series' extreme "rah rah" toward America. Mack Maloney is an avowed patriot whose books almost all involve the inherent awesomeness of the United States. It's consistently depicted as the one true land of the free, with its symbols (most prominently the flag) being revered almost like they're holy artifacts. I'm not sure of Mack's politics in recent years, but he takes to patriotism like John Ringo takes to rape.

Also there's a little bit about how Hunter and Dozer are shocked to discover that one of the gunmen was carrying an AK-47, which is still the standard issue of the Soviet troops in the 1980s. Looks like AKs never got to the West very much in this timeline.

Back in the present, Hunter reveals the flag to Jones and is told that both of them could get shot for Hunter being caught with it. As the author deifies the American flag, so too must the villains turn symbols of America into death sentences.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 20:23 on Jan 7, 2017

Safety Dance
Sep 10, 2007

Five degrees to starboard!


This series sounds like a lot of fun!

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

BORN TO DIE
HAIG IS A FUCK
Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED




chitoryu12 posted:

Also there's a little bit about how Hunter and Dozer are shocked to discover that one of the gunmen was carrying an AK-47, which is still the standard issue of the Soviet troops in the 1980s. Looks like AKs never got to the West very much in this timeline.

I know I've played at least one game where the website FAQ has a specific entry that goes "No, the AK-74 is not a typo."

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Sperglord Actual posted:

I know I've played at least one game where the website FAQ has a specific entry that goes "No, the AK-74 is not a typo."

Mack also has a very limited knowledge of weapons that aren't mounted on vehicles or crew-served. I think the only guns that aren't described in entirely generic terms like "a cowboy revolver" are things like the AK-47, M16, and Colt .45. He throws out some bizarre three-shot Italian rifle grenade launcher on that C-5 gunship (something so obscure I couldn't even find English sources on it), but he doesn't know a thing about AKs beyond "the AK-47 exists".

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 2 picks up off a throwaway line I didn't include in the first one, revealing how Jones got out alive.

quote:

When the New Order came down and the general was led away by the Finns, Hunter had assumed that the old man would be thrown in prison at best, or worse, executed. Actually, the officer had a free ride to the French capital where his handlers inexplicably set him free. Once there, he met many other ex-military officers who were of the same mind as he: We won the war and we still got screwed. With nothing else to do, they proceeded to drink the Paris nightclubs dry.

“It was great,” Jones testified. “More booze than I’ve ever seen.” Paris was one of the major cities Hunter thought he was prudent in avoiding during his odyssey to Scotland. He had visions of deserted streets filled only with rotting corpses, its beautiful buildings in ruins, the curtains drawn on the proud French republic, finally defeated.

“You’d be surprised how good a shape the city was in,” Jones told him. “Of course, considering that the largest battle ever fought in the history of mankind took place about 30 clicks aways, and that half the people had either been gassed or had vamoosed before the first shot was even fired, the ones who stayed were great. Writers, politicians, musicians, artists, old bucks who had fought the Nazis. These people just kept on celebrating. They didn’t give a poo poo who won. They didn’t give a poo poo that the Russians—or what was left of them—were just over the next hill. They just wanted to get back to their food, booze and getting laid. Everything else was secondary to them.

“I was traveling around with a bunch of crazy Brits. RAF guys. We busted up the town pretty good. But after a few weeks, we realized that the city was getting real hot—real fast. We knew Ivan was just over the hill, licking his wounds and getting ready to play the conquering heroes.” He spat in disgust. “The filthy swine! We kicked their asses and they made like they just took over the world.”

“They did,” Hunter reminded him.

The general went on. A bunch of senators and government bozos were stuck in Paris after the armistice was signed. They had the Concorde—the famous SST—waiting at Orly Airport. Jones said a seat on that plane couldn’t have been bought for a million dollars. The politicos were getting itchy to get out of Europe before it went Red. Trouble was, the pilot never showed up. Now they needed someone to fly it. Somehow, they knew Jones was in town. “They got word to me while I was shitfaced, sleeping under a table in a bar on the Left Bank. Or was it the Right Bank? Anyway, they sobered me up and fed me. Then, we loaded the sucker up with French wines and chow, and it was oeuvre!”

He clapped his hands in joy, just thinking about it. “You should have come to Paris, Hawk, my boy. We had a hell of the time there!”

This is the first little hint at Mack's love of big, implausible changes to society that make for a great scene but you start to question in context. Paris, a city of more than 2 million at the 1990 census, was somehow depopulated until the only people who remained were partiers and artists who turned the entire city into a giant block party while caught in the middle of World War III.

quote:

“It was the last congressional boondoggle flight in history,” the general continued.

“We put down in Washington, because New York City looked too hot to handle. These guys didn’t want any part of it. Half of them were on their way to Weather Mountain. You know, that place near DC where they have a fully stocked city right inside the mountain and all the big shots are supposed to go when the bomb was dropped?” Hunter had heard of the place. “Well, I don’t know how many of them made it past the door, but they were telling me about the place. They had enough stuff hidden away to last them for years. The place is so big inside they even have a lake there. These guys claimed you could water ski on it. One senator said there was even a plan to round up all the best call girls in Washington right before the poo poo hit the fan and get them down there too. You know, just to give them all something to do while they waited for the dust to settle? Yeah, we had our share of great leaders, huh? They needed women to continue the human race with. Let their descendants crawl out of the cave and run things. You know, keep it in the family. But can you imagine what kind of a bastard is produced when a politician knocks up a hooker?”

The thought of it sent a shiver down Hunter’s spine. He took a slug of his whiskey-laced coffee.

Another big part of this series is hookers. Like any good pulp author, the sex needs to come from somewhere. When it's not Hawk bedding the most illustrious young women in the region, it's hookers and blow strewn around like dirty laundry in a dorm. "Oldest profession", I know, but it seems like nary a chapter goes by without some kind of sex work being mentioned.

For the record, Mount Weather is a real place in Virginia. To my knowledge, there's no lake big enough for water skiing inside.

Jones continues explaining how he found twitchy National Guardsmen at Andrews AFB following the New Order's commands to the letter, having blown up Air Force One and the F-15s around it. When Jones left the Concorde behind to sleep somewhere else, even that ended up getting destroyed overnight. Jones also mentions how even though dollars had become worthless, coins of all kind (from gold and silver to nickels and quarters) had instead become the currency. Jones even ponders the stupidity of people treating American coins as inherently valuable for their metal content, but he was conveniently handed a bag of francs back in Paris and was able to use it to pay for stuff in DC.

quote:

Jones soon took residence in an abandoned swank Georgetown townhouse. It was his home for three months.

“It was party time there too,” he said. “All over DC. Food, booze and broads. I was out in a bar every night. It’s great when you don’t have to go to work. Met a lot of funny people. But unfortunately, I also met a lot of people carrying guns, and not just .32 caliber water pistols either. It started getting tense. Pretty soon there were shootouts every night. It was Dodge City. I figured it was just a matter of time before a stray bullet would catch my rear end, so I started thinking about getting out."

“Then I heard some of these new little countries were starting navies, armies, militias, things like that and they needed military people to help. I talked to a guy, who knew another guy who had a friend who knew about this job. Commander of the Northwest Economic Zone’s Air Patrol—‘ZAP,’ for short. A little bulky, but it sounded good to me. They had a little money to spend and they were lucky. Most of their National Guard units were never turned on by the disarmament weirdos, so there were still a few guys around who knew how to take an order. I tell you, troops like that are a rare commodity these days.”

Jones had traveled to Boston and met with the leaders of the Northeast Economic Zone. They promised him almost complete freedom. Just as long as he paid lip service to the New Order rules. “You know, no radios, no TV, no old uniforms, no Stars and Stripes.” Jones’s voice cracked slightly when he mentioned the ban on the American flag. “That’s why we have these stupid pansy color uniforms on, and that’s why that candyass, three-dollar-bill flag is flying over this place."

“But I’ve always liked the Cape, and they let me fly, so here I came. Been here about a year and a half.”

But Hunter was confused. Fly? The last time he’d heard, one of the New Order’s rules—the most important one in his eyes—was that all military aircraft had to be dismantled as part of the demilitarization agreement. But he had heard jets at the base.

Then, as if on cue, the sound of a jet taking off filled the office, shaking the coffee pot slightly. Jones read his mind. “We have a few planes here, Hawk,” the general said, his smile looking like the cat that ate the canary. “So I can hear,” Hunter said. “But how’d you get around the demilitarization order?”

Turns out some of the Americans had taken the word "dismantle" in the New Order demand to destroy their combat aircraft literally and simply disassembled them into parts. They left out things like helicopters and cargo aircraft, so those are still there. Also just about everything that was mothballed and shoved into storage got looked over. There's also a comment about the Finns who destroyed their F-16s "living in the armpit country of Europe and sucking up to the Russians."

Jones also pulls out a map, though we don't get to see it. He does explain another of Mack's ideas that seemingly got squirted onto the page: because of all the planes mothballed at Wright-Patterson, Ohio has become a Free State with no government and a giant marketplace for used military aircraft.

A little more world building exposition reveals that the Vice President had appointed a lot of corrupt politicians as leaders of the various North American states, and they've been having private wars up and down the continent. He name drops the Middle Atlantic Conferance States, or Mid-Aks, as an incredibly dangerous confederation that consists of every state (minus New Jersey) from Pennsylvania and Delaware down to Georgia. As they were sitting on a lot of military hardware when the country got divided up and probably cut a deal with the Soviets, they're armed to the teeth and looking to conquer.

quote:

"We fly out to the Berkshires, go up around Mt. Washington, skirt down around Connecticut. That's about the range of our patrols. We could fly right over New York City if we wanted to, but the place is so heavy, you never know what they'll shoot up at you. You think it was bad when you were there? It's incredible down there now. Everyone has a gun, a missile, or a tank. And all they do is fight each other for the right to call this block or that apartment house 'their turf.' They enjoy it. Every man's a king and the fighting never stops. And it's a great cover for what really goes on down there, and I mean all kinds of smuggling. Guns, drugs, women, missiles, explosives, gasoline, booze -- you name it. Enough parts to build your own goddamn B-52, if you have the gold or the silver or whatever to pay for it. And I know for a fact the Mid-Aks run most of the guns into New York City and trade them for protection -- a free rein in smuggling stuff in and out."

Hunter's thoughts suddenly flashed back to Dozer and the heroic 7th Cavalry. Who knows what ever happened to them?

"We've seen a little action, mostly pirate ships and stuff," Jones said, helping himself to his fourth pick-me-up of the morning. "We've had some strange doings lately though."

He drained his mug and stood up.

"Come on," he said, pulling on his jacket. "I'll show you what we're flying these days."

Hunter thought he'd never ask.

Inspector_666
Oct 7, 2003

benny with the good hair


chitoryu12 posted:

Paris, a city of more than 2 million at the 1990 census, was somehow depopulated until the only people who remained were partiers and artists who turned the entire city into a giant block party while caught in the middle of World War III.

I dunno, I buy it.

I dunno how the survived the nerve gassing, but...

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Sperglord Actual posted:

I know I've played at least one game where the website FAQ has a specific entry that goes "No, the AK-74 is not a typo."

Nerd time: there's this guy I know, Neil Nadelman, who does a lot of Japanese-English translation work, mostly for anime distributors over here in the U.S., since he moved into that career from fandom. Anyway, one of the first things he worked on was an anime called Crystal Triangle, a kind of ripoff of Indiana Jones involving the CIA, Russia, the Yakuza, dinosaur cults, the dark star Nemesis, and God. There was a part at the beginning of this movie where the hero and his blonde American CIA babe are attacked by terrorists armed with "the latest AK-74 rifles'. Neil translates this as is, but coworker contradicts him and says that's a typo. Neil does his research, but the guy continues to countermand him. It eventually gets to the point Neil has to get a gun book, show the guy that they do exist and that the guns in the anime are in fact AK-74s, complete with the muzzle compensator, in order to get the translation complete.

chitoryu12 posted:

For the record, Mount Weather is a real place in Virginia. To my knowledge, there's no lake big enough for water skiing inside.

I believe when Mount Weather was first reported, there was mention of a large reservoir inside the mountain to meet the inhabitants' need. I think this got blown out of hand thinking that "reservoir" meant "lake" and not "big water tank".

poisonpill
Nov 8, 2009

The only way to get huge fast is to insult a passing witch and hope she curses you with Beast-strength.





I like this book.

Nipponophile
Apr 8, 2009


Aw man, I remember reading six or seven of these when I was in junior high. Even back then I recognized that Maloney was pulling so much stuff out of his rear end when it came to gear and tech. I also remember it not taking long for things to move away from straight post-apocalyptic world to more supernatural elements, like the ESP, but I had no idea they got into alternate universes.

Pitch
Jun 16, 2005

しらんけど


St. Louis didn't even have a football team in 1987.

Edit: oh, that was the Cardinals' last season so they still did

Failed Nihilist
Apr 10, 2015


"Mack Baloney" or "Mack Malarkey?"

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Nipponophile posted:

Aw man, I remember reading six or seven of these when I was in junior high. Even back then I recognized that Maloney was pulling so much stuff out of his rear end when it came to gear and tech. I also remember it not taking long for things to move away from straight post-apocalyptic world to more supernatural elements, like the ESP, but I had no idea they got into alternate universes.

I'm going to spoil the progression of this series, but it's not like the backs of the books don't have a synopsis anyway.

Mack sent Hawk off into space to kill the big bad in what was supposed to be the final book, and it ends with Hawk apparently killed after saving the world and everyone back on Earth rebuilding society as Hawk Hunter becomes a legend.

And then Mack decided to keep writing, so in the next book Hawk wakes up in an alternate 1997 where World War II never ended and there's all sorts of wacky Crimson Skies-esque technology. He takes to it pretty well and even encounters still living alternate versions of people who died in his reality. I didn't read the final book all the way through, but I think the series ended with Hawk just loving up everything to do with space-time and all sorts of poo poo going bananas.


This isn't getting into how Mack still continued the Wingman series with Starhawk, where an amnesiac Hawk Hunter is found hundreds of thousands of years into the future with his F-16, which is now a super powered space fighter that can circumnavigate Earth in a fraction of a second.

This book seems a little dull now, but that's just because Mack is trying to shove all the exposition he can into the first few chapters. As it goes on it starts getting a little crazier and pulpier, and Starhawk is the pinnacle of word vomit where whatever weird idea came in a drug-induced coma ended up on the page.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



We get a little description of how Otis AFB looks.

quote:

The place was more runway than anything else. There were three of them to be exact, two which ran parallel to the ocean nearby, the third intersecting them at a 70-degree angle. The entire base was probably a square mile in size. There were six lonely buildings scattered about—two of them big, quonset-hut style hangars, two others served as housing for the base’s occupants. The flight ops building had the base’s control tower sitting beside it. The sixth building was next door, a catch-all mess hall, which he would soon find out, served as the well-patronized base saloon.

The base was surrounded by a chain link fence and guard towers every 500 yards or so. Soldiers walked the perimeter in pairs. He could see some rudimentary 20mm anti-aircraft gun positions ringing the perimeter, with a few mobile SAM launchers and even a couple of old Hawk anti-aircraft systems thrown in. But the only aircraft sitting on the flight line was the Piper Cub that Hunter had seen towing the sign a few weeks before.

In real life, Otis is part of Joint Base Cape Cod. Here's some pictures of the real thing:




Jones talks a little about the nuking of the United States: from North Dakota on down to Mexico the country was bombed in half. City-sized craters, forest fires, and even burning rivers that'll take years to burn out. Most of the bombs were relatively clean when it came to radiation, but the missiles included every kind of biological and chemical warfare weapon in the Soviet inventory, from germs to hallucinogens. Clouds of the stuff are still floating around, and about 20 million were killed.

quote:

Hunter nodded, then said: “I know it sounds terrible, but twenty million dead isn’t so bad, considering what could have happened if they had nuked our big cities,” Hunter said.

“You’re right,” Jones said, stopping to light his cigar in the brisk, ocean breeze. “But they wanted something left for them to take over. This ‘No Occupation’ section of the treaty is a bunch of yabanza. You know and I know that as soon as those ugly, crude bastards get their hammers and sickles straight, they’ll be over here, eating our food, fishing our rivers, screwing our women. They’ll be able to take the Queen Mary over here, who the hell’s going to stop them?”

Hawk felt the bulge of the folded American flag in his back pocket. “We’ll stop them,” he said, matter-of-factly.

Pointing out two things here: the editor (whoever that may be) missing a pretty noticeable grammatical error, and a hopefully unintentional bit of innuendo about Hawk's FREEDOM BULGE.

More exposition on the state of the New Order, including Jones ruminating on the Vice President (now the New Order Commissioner) having "faggots and weirdos and Russians" on his side. The country is now simply known as The Continent, and even saying the word "America" is illegal. Jones doesn't feel much like rebelling and getting his rear end canned, so he works as essentially a mercenary for the Northeast Economic Zone. A lot of gold and silver flow through the area from convoys heading from Boston or Montreal to the West Coast.

Apparently over 100 million surviving Americans also fled the country when the invasion came, leaving big cities like Los Angeles and Chicago mostly empty. Most fled to Mexico or Canada, with the Canadians setting up huge resettlement camps around their cities. Texas also finally got their wish and formed their own Republic of Texas, or ROT.

In general, Wingman depicts Canadians as being "Americans by any other name"; they're staunch allies of the United States and freedom and willingly throw themselves in front of bullets if it means helping Americans in need.

quote:

“poo poo, you don’t think a little thing like World War III would stop those people, do you?” Jones said. “Let me tell you something: after the armistice was signed, the Texans took about a day and a half off to change the colors on their flag and adjust their college football schedule. Then they went back to work."

“They knew that no matter what happened, people would always need three things: heating oil, gasoline and jet fuel. So they fired up their refineries and concentrated on just those three products. Since then, the world—such as it is—has beat a path to their door. Of course, the stuff goes at premium prices. Gasoline is worth about twenty-five old dollars a gallon these days. I forget how much that is in real silver. But that’s why everyone just about stays put these days. No more jumping in the car to see Grandma. And there aren’t that many cars working anyway."

“The heating oil is cheaper and a little easier to get. But still, these days you have two, three, maybe four families sharing what used to be one-family houses. That’s how people are surviving. It’s the buddy system. It’s a lucky man who has a job—and he gets paid whatever is available. Food, clothes, heating oil, sometimes money, I guess. There’s no such thing as a regular paycheck out there anymore. It’s catch as catch can. That’s why so many people are joining the army. Pretty soon, I think, everyone will be in the army in some capacity. For many of the little countries, it’s the only secure job there is. Now, like I said, people here in the Northeast have it better than most. That’s what we are protecting. The ’Aks cream their jeans thinking about what we have going here.”

Also, air pirates.

quote:

“Air pirates?”

“They’re everywhere, Hawk,” Jones said, waving his hand at the sky.

The West Coast and East Coast do a lot of trading, but the highway system and Panama Canal got wrecked early in the invasion and the Badlands is cutting the United States in half; most of the ground outside the civilized coasts has gone full post-apocalyptic. Supposedly some big prisons in Kansas got busted open and all the prisoners escaped, and Jones suggests that the chemical warfare from the Reds drove everyone insane. Either way, a lot of traffic has to be done via sky convoys (primarily through airliners converted into cargo jets) and a lot of the criminals have somehow gotten their hands on aircraft and munitions to shoot them down or force them to land. There's tons of Korean War and Vietnam War vintage jets like F-86s and F-101s flying around.

There's also some mention of terrorist attacks, like forcing down planes to kill all the men and rape all the women. Jones suggests the Family, a sort of Chicago mobster army, as potentially being behind it. Jones immediately begins building up a potential backstory by talking about how someone must be supplying everyone and encouraging them.

quote:

“I just don’t know,” Jones said finally. “The pirates, the goonies in Chicago, even the ’Aks are getting support and—I think guidance, if not direct orders—from somewhere. I just don’t know where. I do know it’s getting worse. A big convoy left Boston last week. More than seventy planes in all, including escorts. The pirates knew they were coming. Chopped them up something terrible. Shot down thirty big planes. What a horror show.”

One word sparked in Hunter’s mind. “Escorts?” he asked, looking out on the nearly empty base. Jones immediately read his thoughts. “Patience, my boy,” he said, taking the last swig from the flask. “No, we’re not in the escort business. That’s a job for free-lancers. And they can have it.”

“Free-lancers?”

“That’s right. Free-lance fighter pilots. It’s the latest rage. Get yourself an airplane and get hired out to ride shotgun for the air convoys. Good money. Trouble is, you rarely live long enough to spend it.”

“How come?” Hunter was fascinated. “Because, you’re the first one the pirates go for,” Jones said coolly. “You can be flying an F-14 with Sparrow missiles up the ying-yang, but if twenty F-80s jump you, it’s just a matter of time.”

“Unless …” Hunter said slowly. “Unless you’re good enough.”

Jones looked at him. “That’s right, Major,” he said. “And you’re the best pilot ever to sit behind the controls—better than anything I’ve ever seen or heard about. And there isn’t a person left standing who knows airplanes who would disagree with me if I said you could probably be the richest man in this continent within a year. You’d be in demand. Leading convoys of seventy-five, poo poo—one hundred planes or just some rich cat who needs his diamonds moved via a Piper. You’d be the man they’d want riding shotgun."

“But I don’t think you’re that greedy. I don’t think it’s in your make-up. Free-lancers will shoot for anybody—for the highest bidder. Half of them would sell out to the pirates for the right price. And it’s happened. A convoy flying along all of a sudden loses its escorts? Next thing you know, boom! jumped by the bad guys."

“No. Not you, Hawk. Maybe if you had to earn a quick buck someday, you would do it. But you’re the type of man who has to fight for a flag. Fight for something to believe in. For a cause.”

Like I said in the OP, Hawk Hunter is the ultimate Mary Sue. He fights for nothing but a cause to believe in, and that cause is Freedom and Apple Pie and Santa Claus and Flags. He's virtually infallible, not only in piloting and fighting but also morally. I always pictured him looking a lot like a Fabio-esque romance novel cover art.

And then Jones looks out toward the sea, and Hunter can immediately feel it in his soul that airplanes are here.

quote:

Instantly, the jets were right over them. Head up at a 90-degree angle, Hunter took a mental snapshot of the five fighters as they were right above him. They seemed to hang in the air. He felt a thrill shoot from his head to his heart down to his toes and up again. These muthas were flying!

The leader was flying an F-4 Phantom. A Viet Nam-era fighter-bomber, the F-4 looked like someone had shut the hangar doors on it before it made it all the way out. Its wings were cranked upward on their ends, while the rear stabilizers were bent downward. There were reasons for the bizarre shape: air down-wash, lateral stability, dihedral angles. It was an ugliness that only a pilot could love. The plane, though decades old, had a lot of guts in its day—it could fly at 1450 mph—and was always a favorite of flyboys. It was the only thing the Air Force and the Navy ever agreed on. Both services flew them. Hunter could see a 20-mm cannon on each wing, with two Sidewinders and an old Bullpup missile hanging underneath. The Phantom was loaded for bear.

The leader’s wingman was flying an F-8E Crusader, a plane nearly 40 years old, yet still deadly looking. It was the first aircraft carrier-launched plane to break 1000 mph, and saw a lot of action in Viet Nam. Its entire wing could tilt upward by about seven degrees, giving it a humpbacked look, but making it easier to set the baby down on a bouncing carrier. The jet was armed with two 20-mm and what looked like about 2000 pounds of bombs. It had been ages since Hunter had seen one and he couldn’t imagine where the general’s people had found it.

On the leader’s port wing there was an A-7 Corsair that looked to be carrying a Seapup missile as well as some anti-personnel bombs. Strangely, the smallish plane was just a more recent, down-sized version of the F-8 Crusader. The Navy used them during the early ’80s and some of them saw action in Grenada and over Beirut. An odd little plane—this one was a two-seater and looked like a trainer—Hunter had never flown one, but knew there were a lot of them in Air National Guard units at the outbreak of the war.

The two remaining planes were T-38 trainers. A simplified, stripped-down version of the kick-rear end F-20 Tigershark, it was the type of plane Hunter flew at NASA for training purposes. In fact, he was sure he recognized these two particular jets as NASA property. Each plane carried an Exocet missile, jury-rigged to its fuselage. It was an odd menagerie of aircraft, representing different eras of flight, different services and different missions. Each one was painted in the same green color as the general’s suit, and it looked like someone had done the job with a paintbrush.

One thing you can give Mack credit for is that the dude loving loves planes. Compare the almost pornographic level of detail used to describe the Phantom to the lazy way he talks about the guns people carry or the generic mentions of random equipment and gun emplacements. When it's not an implausible action scene, it's plane porn that Mack puts his heart into. You're going to see a hell of an array of aircraft come and go from this series.

The old planes zoom overhead, kicking up spray in Hunter's face, which Jones reveals is the dawn air patrol returning to base. As the planes land and the pilots jump out, Hunter recognizes the first two pilots: JT "Socket" Toomey and Ben Wa, both former members of his Thunderbirds crew. Toomey is the rugged, handsome "aftershave ad" member of the group, while Ben Wa is the tiny token Oriental from Maui; Mack has a tendency to constantly refer to him as the "hula-hula boy" in every book he appears.

With that, Jones and the two pilots bring Hawk to the hanger to show him what he'll be flying, hidden behind a white drop cloth hanging like a curtain. Continuing into chapter four, Hawk sees an F-16.

quote:

It was his old airplane—the F-16 he had flown when he was a member of the Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, as the Thunderbirds were officially called. He had last seen it just before reporting for his NASA shuttle training.

It was painted in the traditional colors of the Thunderbirds. Its snout was wrapped in red, white and blue stripes, as were the tips of its wings. The tail section had a webbed design of blue bordering four large stars and eleven smaller ones on a field of white. Centered on the tail was the unit’s symbol—an American Indian-style drawing of the mythical Thunderbird, a circle on its breast which contained a white star. Inside the white star were the silhouettes of four jets.

The jet looked to be in excellent condition—he could tell that it had just been recently overhauled, and given a fresh coat of paint. But for all its authenticity, the ’16 still looked different to Hunter. Something was missing.

Then it hit him: All of the plane’s Air Force markings had been removed.

For those who haven't seen a Thunderbird F-16, this is how Hawk's plane is painted:



Minus the USAF insignia and lettering, Hawk Hunter is flying something that looks like it came out of the circus. Jones tells the disappointed Hawk that the New Order will pay anyone $100,000 in silver if they shoot down a plane in old US markings.

The description Mack gives to the F-16 defies any other plane in the series:

quote:

The F-16 was a pilot’s dream come true. It was built light—nearly 80-percent of its frame was aluminum, and only 11-percent was the heavier steel. The designers wanted it that way—the lighter the better. The reason? Because they outfitted the thing with a kick-rear end GE turbofan engine that could boot 27,000 pounds of thrust on demand. The combination made for a highly aerodynamically superior thrust-to-weight ratio. In other words, the engine thrust power was nearly twice the weight of the entire airplane. Throw in the forebody strakes for vortex control; a wing blended to the body for greater overall lift; a variable wing camber for automatic leading edge steering flaps; one hundred and fifty more examples of state-of-the-art aerodynamics and a dash of American ingenuity and what came out was simply the best maneuvering fighter plane ever built.

The cockpit was a video game come to life. It was crammed with science fiction-type avionics: a “heads-up display” which projected up on an invisible TV screen right in front of the pilot all of the critical control data needed to fly the plane. The pilot could keep an eye on the controls, know where he was going, know what his weapons status was and who he was shooting at—all without ever looking down at the control boards.

But the HUD capability was just the beginning. The plane carried its own video recorder and playback for mission analysis—everything done during a sortie could be recorded and brought back ready for broadcast. The video capability also allowed the pilot to pre-record mission elements for playback during his flight. Seeing this in the cockpit, Hunter had to wonder whether anyone had TVs anymore. The F-16 had an autopilot that could do just about everything an average human pilot could—some claimed more. But it took more than an average person to understand the alphabet soup of subsystems inside the plane’s cockpit: INS, TACAN, TF, IFF/SIF, AAI, ILS, JMC, JVC, ADF UHF, BIT, DMT, ENG, PROG, TGT, HSI, and on and on. It was at once brilliant and bewildering. To the casual observer—and way back when to the uninformed Senate appropriations committee member—the cockpit looked impossibly confused, as if a mad scientist had had a hand in its design. Some pilots believed that was accurate.

The plane was completely “fly-by-wire;” its flight control system was fully electronic. Unlike other planes, the control stick was not between the pilot’s legs. Rather it was off to his right side. By using the stick, the pilot had at his fingertips his weapon release, display control, engine trim switch and gun trigger. The side-stick controller always gave Hunter the feeling that he was flying the plane from an armchair—in fact the F-16 had a recliner seat, tilted upward by 27 degrees. Both were essential to flying such an advanced supersonic fighter and that the F-16 was.

Wide open—at “full military”—it could haul rear end at nearly three times the speed of sound. Of course, Hunter knew the reason to fly that fast and accurately was to get where you’re going and shoot at something once you got there. Again, the F-16 came out on top. It was a technological schizo. Whether its mission was to dogfight an enemy—a match it almost always won, thanks to its M-16 20mm rapid fire cannon and four air-to-air missiles—or blast him on the ground, the plane could do both, no problem. It could maneuver like a fighter but carry enough ordnance—conventional free-fall bombs, dispenser weapons, napalm, you name it—to be a bomber. And with the fire control system up on the “heads up display,” with everything else, the pilot never had to take his eyes off the target. And with multiple accuracy, “track-while-scan” high-velocity search, and quick-reaction, fingertip weapons firing additions, the plane was quick on the draw. If the pilot launched an air-to-air missile, the opponent usually had only seconds to live. It was that simple. Challenged to a duel, the F-16 was unquestionably the quickest gun in the West. If the mission was to bomb—tanks, troops or other airfields—then all the pilot would do is switch on the Doppler beam, sharpen the baby to 64:1, add the ground target indication/tracker and push the button. Anything targeted, moving or not, was instantly blown to smithereens.

And it was good on gas …

The F-16 was just under 50 feet long; its wingspan just a hair under 33. The tail rose 17 feet from the ground. It was deceptively small—a direct contradiction to the idea “bigger is better.” In the world of the jet fighter, small is better. It means you’re hard to detect, either on a radar scope or to the eye. Hard to see means hard to hit. Hard to hit extended a pilot’s expectancy by a few minutes, or hours or even years. No wonder they all loved the ’16. The plane could climb, dive and turn on a dime—and pull 9gs while it was doing it. Even better yet, it could do it on a full tank—other planes in its class had a hard time doing 7gs and that was only possible with less than a full fuel load.

But a plane is only as good as its pilot. And Hunter was unquestionably the best. So the F-16 fit him like a glove. A match made in heaven. His favorite thing about the ’16 was that no aircraft was quicker off the ground. Unlike other jets, which required a ground crew to get them cranked up, the F-16 had an automatic starting system. Just like turning the key in a car, the engine would fire up and be capable of lifting off 51 seconds later. Also eliminated was the 20 minutes or more start-up time that pilots of other planes needed to program their on-board computer. The F-16’s computers were churning in less than a minute. All the pilot had to do was pre-record the flight data onto a computer cartridge then load it into the aircraft’s computer system. Jones, knowing his wingman would be anxious to get airborne, had already pre-recorded such a cartridge for Hunter.

So, because of the plane’s quick reaction capability, Hunter was able to strap into the cockpit, have the plane towed out of the hangar and, just a few minutes later, be sitting at the end of the runway, giving his instruments the final check-over.

I'm pretty sure Mack would stick his dick right in the intake of an F-16 if he could.

As Hawk is taxiing and waiting for clearance to take off, he runs through the story he was told off-screen in his head as an excuse to tell us how Jones got it: he stopped at Nellis on the way back from a convoy run the year before and poked around, and he found a Thunderbird F-16 hidden in a locked hanger. He clandestinely hired a C-130 to disassemble the aircraft and ship it back to Otis in pieces to be reassembled, and then sought out Hawk to fly it.

quote:

Then it came to him. “The Feeling.” It was always there every time he took off. He became disembodied. In a higher state of mind. The mechanics of flight became as simple as the wink of an eye. It was this—this instantaneous osmosis—which set him apart from other stick jockeys. It was indescribable. Other pilots strap in, do the checklist, prepare to take off. Fight the nervous energy that always creeps in. Hunter would melt into the machinery. His brain linked with the onboard computer. His hands and feet became extensions of the flaps and stabilizers. His eyes became the radar; his ears the radio. Other pilots flew with their brains; Hunter flew with his heart. For him to fly an F-16—or any plane for that matter—was as easy and as natural as it was to walk.

And that was what set him apart from the others. “The Feeling.” It always came to him. It was there the first time his father let him take the controls of the Cessna when he was barely 11. He had never told a soul about it. He couldn’t. It was beyond description. Yet, he always recognized it and let it wash through him. From that moment on, he was the plane.

Hawk's defining feature as a character is his piloting skill. He literally has a supernatural connection to aircraft (and I'm not misusing "literally"; the books only go further from reality with Hawk's abilities as they go on). This is mostly at the cost of any other defining features. Like any good Mary Sue, Hawk is set apart not by his personality, but by his perfection above all others. There's implications that he exists sort of as a god on Earth, put onto this planet to save the world with his ability to fly planes.

Hawk takes off and zooms around in the F-16 like a bat out of hell: climbing to 70,000 feet at 1200 MPH, then flying straight down and pulling up only 100 feet above the base. He performs loops and controlled stalls and eight-point turns in a one-man Thunderbird show before landing; whereas the F-16 description was overwhelming in its content, the aerobatic demonstration is barely 2 pages. Jones gives Hawk a gentle ribbing.

quote:

“Thank you, sir. How many more of these you got?”

Jones suddenly turned serious. “That’s the bad news, Hawk.” Hunter waited. “We’ve looked all over, asked around, offered good money,” Jones said slowly. “Couldn’t find a single one, next to this one.”

“You mean …?” Hunter said, fearing the worst. “You’re right on top of it, Hawk,” Jones said, looking at the F-16. “The New Order got to all of them. Pranged them. The incredible fools.” Hunter closed his eyes.

“As far as we know,” Jones said, “this is the last F-16 left.”

Eediot Jedi
Dec 25, 2007

This is where I begin to speculate what being a
man of my word costs me



Dude has his priorities. They mourn the near extinction of the F16 more than half the planet dying.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



quote:

Later on that night, after chow and before the bourbon was broken out, Hunter and Jones sat in the pilot’s lounge smoking cigars. The room was small and cramped, but homey, thanks to the half dozen overstuffed chairs that were jammed into it. Its walls were covered with snapshots of the Thunderbirds in action in the old days. In the corner, a VCR—the only TV available these days—cranked away, displaying a porn movie on a jumpy black and white screen. Hunter avoided watching it for fear he’d burst a seam. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d made love to a woman. Was it in France?

It had been one hell of a day for Hunter—his reunion with the general and the Thunderbirds, Jones’ updating him on the radical changes across the continent, the exhilarating flight, the shock of knowing that there was probably but one F-16 left in the world. It was hard for Hunter to believe that less than 48 hours before, he was still cooped up in the cabin on the mountain.

Chapter five opens up with our very first major discrepancy: chapter 1 indicates that it took nearly 3 weeks for Hunter to hike from New Hampshire to Otis, but chapter 5 claims it was less than 48 hours. Maybe an early example of Hunter's inherent incongruity with the space-time continuum?

Jones offers Hunter a job on the ZAP doing routine convoy escorts and patrols, which he accepts without hesitation even as Jones tries to explain his other options to him; Hunter wants to fly his F-16 with his old Thunderbirds friends, even if his skills and plane could earn him a fortune as a mercenary.

quote:

“I’ll kick your butt,” Jones said, reaching for a label-less bottle of bourbon. “You listen to me you hot dog …” The general stopped for a moment, looked around for a glass, settled on an old styrofoam coffee cup and poured himself a stiff double. Hunter realized that whatever Jones had to tell him wasn’t a laughing matter. Jones took a deep belt from the coffee cup. The stuff was rot-gut; but moonshine’s biggest asset was that it was available. In the old days, you wouldn’t give it to your worst enemy.

“There’s going to be war,” the older men said deliberately. Hunter was puzzled. “There’s already been a big one. I thought it was ‘the war to end all wars.’”

Jones sighed and shook his head. “No, I mean right here, on the East Coast. With the Mid-Atlantic Division.”

“The Mid-Aks?” Hunter asked, looking out for a cup for himself.

“You got it. Things started to smell a few months ago. Little things. Here and there. Nothing that could stand on its own. But when you add them up …”

“Things like what?” Hunter asked, after locating a chipped and cloudy tea cup and pouring himself a drink.

“Well, the boys in Boston have never got along with Mid-Atlantic. They feel they’re just a little too cute for them. I mean, seeing them raise an army that could kick-rear end on half the continent, that’s nothing to be taken lightly.”

“Especially when you have them for neighbors,” Hunter added.

“Check. There ain’t nothing between us and them except what’s left in New York City. Boston figured that if they wanted to put people to work, like a People’s Army, building roads, repairing things, then, what the hell?”

“People’s Army sounds a little too familiar,” Hunter said.

“I agree. It’s Russian to the gonads. But still, Boston didn’t mind all that much. I mean, there are eleven other countries out there now, and several free zones and unclaimed territories …”

“And the Badlands. And the pirates.”

“Right. Who can blame them for starting an army? There’s a lot of kookaboos running loose.” Hunter nodded in agreement, refilled Jones’s cup and put a head on his own. The general took a swig. “But it started with this poo poo at Fort Knox. I mean, they killed some people down there. Locals. People who just happened to live near the place, and who had some guns and squatted on it, using a little of the gold at a time."

“But you see, it was the way the Mid-Aks did it. They didn’t attack these folks right away. In fact, they did business with them. Then, they entered into a ‘mutual cooperation pact’ or something with these people, who were actually no more than four or five hundred, and calling themselves Kentucky Free State."

“Next thing you know, just when the Kentuckians thought they could do business with Mid-Atlantic—boom!—the Mid-Aks accuse them of some such nonsense, and they attack them. Wipe ’em out. It took all of an afternoon. Five hundred or more dead. The Mid-Aks sitting on top of a pile of gold. Who’s going to say a thing?”

With newspapers nonexistent in the New Order, Jones isn't sure anybody even heard about the Gold War beyond the government; Jones knows they knew, and didn't do a thing to stop it. He explains how the Mid-Aks took out the Florida-Alabama Union in the same way: proposing a merger, sending a diversionary amphibious attack against Miami, and pouring in the main body of their troops through the north. Without money to pay for air support, the Florida-Alabama Union was taken out within a month. The Mid-Aks killed children and sold off the attractive women as slaves, because of course they did.

Jones thinks the New Order not making a move suggests that they're in bed with the Mid-Aks.

quote:

“You said, you’ve smelled other things?” he asked Jones.

“Oh yes,” the general replied. “You see, most of the people on the continent want nothing to do with Mid-Atlantic. I mean, we won’t trade with them, and neither will the Coasters. The Texans demand real coin, up front from them, but that’s not a problem, since they locked up the gold supply.”

“Then the Mid-Aks are probably the richest of the countries,” Hunter said. “But are they the strongest?”

“Not yet,” Jones replied. “Right now, in the pecking order, with all things considered, we here in the Northwest are probably the strongest this side of the Badlands, and that’s in good part because we’re lucky. We have some airplanes and pilots. The Boston Army is strictly paid soldiers, but they seem loyal. Small, but good. When I get through with the training of the Special Force here, we’ll be better. The ’Aks don’t go in for jets. Probably too stupid to fly them. They have some ships, and I hear they’ve been buying up helicopters. But they’re too big, if anything, and they got a lot of territory to patrol and a lot of pissed off people under their control."

“On the other hand, we’ve got stable and easily patrolled borders to the west, thanks in part that New York State is now a Free Territory. The ocean covers our rear end to the east and a friendly Canada sits over us."

“And the Coasters are the same way. No real enemies close by. They’re the strongest west of the Badlands, with maybe the Texans a close third. The Mid-Aks are definitely fourth on the list, but they’re trying like hell to be number one. God! I think I’d prefer those hoodlums in New Chicago than these bozos down in Mid-Atlantic.”

“So, what ‘smells?’” Hunter asked, draining his cup of hootch.

“Well, just this,” Jones said. “I was up in Boston last week. Just making the rounds, seeing my contacts. They run everything out of a skyscraper now. The old Prudential Insurance building, I think it was called. It’s one of the tallest things around.” Hunter knew the building. “Anyway, suddenly, I start hearing things like: ‘Maybe the Mid-Aks ain’t that bad,’ and ‘They’ve changed their ways. They want to play it straight from now on.’”

“You’re kidding?” Hunter was amazed. “No poo poo. But you see, these guys in Boston didn’t stop being politicians just because someone dropped the bomb. They’re like the Texans. Texas didn’t stop pumping oil, and the Boston politicians didn’t stop making deals. I mean, these guys wrote the book on how to make a deal.”

Hunter was familiar with it, having spent a lot of time in Boston when he attended Aeronautics School at M.I.T. “What these Boston pols have their eyes on is a piece of that real gold,” Jones continued. “I mean, forget the clad. The currency of choice now is silver. But that’s only because there’s so much of it still around. People settle for silver, but they do crazy things for gold."

“So now there’s talk on the Leaders’ Council about let’s give the Mid-Aks a chance. Exchange ambassadors. Get to know them. This kind of happy horseshit. Meanwhile, they’re building the biggest goddamn army since the Civil War!”

There's a fuckton of exposition in these opening chapters, but chapter 5 is probably the worst offender by consisting of virtually nothing but dialogue about one subject. It's almost all politics and conspiracies, but there's not really any buildup or reveal because Jones has an ear to the ground in every state and delivers virtually perfect information every time. My synopses outside the quotes are doing some work to try and shorten the poo poo up. Also I didn't notice this at first, but Jones called Cape Cod "the northwest".

The short version is that Jones is worried that the Mid-Aks are getting hot and heavy with the Boston politicians that run the Northeast Economic Zone and pulling the same backstab that they did on Kentucky and Florida-Alabama. Jones also tells Hawk to go get a shave and a haircut; in case any of you forgot, Hunter is still in his "crazy mountain man" look that was described when he first showed up at the base. Everything except the prologue has so far taken place over the course of less than a day, and Hawk basically looks like this guy as he flies around in his F-16.

Keep that appearance in mind for this next scene.

quote:

Just then, Ben Wa and Toomey burst in. They were obviously drunk, a state that Jones and Hunter were also reaching. “Hawk, old buddy, your compadres have arrived!” Ben announced. “Girls?”

With that, four of the most beautiful girls in the world walked into the lounge. There was a blonde, two brunettes and a redhead, each one wearing a tight sweater and short skirt, each one made up to the hilt. Each one obviously looking for a good time. They had come to the right place. Hunter’s eyes went wide and he felt a pulsating start up in his loins.

“Ladies?” J. T. announced. “Meet the famous Hawk Hunter, cover-boy, fighter pilot, whiz kid and astronaut-in-waiting.” There was a round of greetings and an orgy of eyelash fluttering, but he was oblivious to it all. His eyes were transfixed on the redhead’s breasts.

Jones leaned over to him. “Go ahead boy,” he said. “Get your pipes cleaned. Just leave one for this old man and make sure you’re down on the flight line at eight tomorrow morning.”

Hunter took the redhead by the hand and headed for the quarters Jones had issued him earlier. It had been quite a day …

I hope this woman likes hobos, because I don't think the man she's about to bed has showered or shaved in 2 years. Hawks' charm apparently transcends even the worst filth.

We're currently 16% of the way through the book. I'm going to skim over the next chapter for the most part, as it's almost all descriptions.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 21:43 on Jan 7, 2017

Failed Nihilist
Apr 10, 2015



Balls.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter six is an easy one to get through, as it consists almost entirely of descriptions of a 6 month time skip.

To shorten it up, Hawk spends his days on patrols and occasional air tanker escorts. Some civilians began coming out of hiding and occupying the abandoned GI buildings of Joint Base Cape Cod, creating a little community unofficially called Jonesville (thankfully Mack thought ahead and didn't name it "Jonestown") with a population over 5000. They started a militia to police the base, set up shops inside the fence, and got jobs working the base while Jones became the unofficial governor.

The Zone Air Rangers got eight Chinooks through a deal Jones made, named "the Crazy Eights" and fitted with every machine gun, rocket launcher, and cannon that could be fitted on them. Their size increased to 500, with half being sent to establish frontier outposts on the western borders of the Zone with rudimentary radar sets and clandestine radios to act as an early warning system. The Northeast Economic Zone started to die down with the Mid-Ak alliance talks and generally stabilize, and they even start having the ZAP put on Thunderbird-style aerobatics demonstrations as a show of strength.

About 8 weeks after Hawk joined the ZAP, they got word of a band of pirates around the Zone's frontier bordering the Free Territory of New York (most people packed up and fled to Canada, so New York state is almost depopulated except for small independent villages and towns). There's a little talk about the pirates' method of operation:

quote:

As reports of the air bandits became more frequent, it was soon obvious that they were preying on anything that flew around the Catskills and all the way up to the Adirondack Mountain Range. In two weeks’ time several planes—stragglers, solo artists—had been shot down. Others were forced to land, their cargoes stolen, their crews killed. The area wasn’t too far from the well-traveled convoy routes, but this band of pirates—touchingly known as the Cherry Busters—were avoiding the big stuff and going after the small potatoes. What was worse, this happened before the ZAP radar string was brought on line.

Because every airplane that flies needs people on the ground to keep it that way, roving pirate bands always carried a substantial ground maintenance entourage. These mechanics—prisoners and ex-gas station owners mostly—traveled with the bandits, servicing the planes and occasionally acting as ground troops. They were paid by sharing in the booty. Frequently these ground support crews were as dangerous, if not worse, than the pilots they served. The Cherry Busters were no different. While the pirates’ terrorized the skies above, small villages and towns on the Zone-New York Territory border were attacked by the Buster’s rampaging ground crews.

Only the most evil of men can be on a pirate's ground raiding crew, like gas station owners.

The Cherry Busters were operating over the border and thus out of ZAP's jurisdiction, but after they raided a town right on the border and executed everyone they didn't kidnap, Jones deployed ZAP in pursuit to find their air base. Operating on tips from residents, they found that the Cherry Busters were using an abandoned stretch of interstate as a clandestine airfield. The ZAP flight bombed the base and strafed anyone who tried to shoot back, destroying all of the Cherry Busters' aircraft on the ground and wiping out the gang.

The Northeastern Economic Zone holds Profit Holidays whenever the region's income is high enough, with ZAP performing aerobatics on each one. 60+ cargo plane convoys (with up to 30 escort fighters) were taking off every 2 days from Logan Airport, cargo ships are parking in Boston Harbor because NYC is a wreck, etc. Overall life is good. Hunter is given the task of heading around the eastern half of the United States to buy aircraft, ending up with a bunch of A-7s, a pair of F-106 Delta Darts, and poo poo we've heard of like another Phantom and more T-38s until the ZAP is at 18 planes. The only really important part of this is exposition on one character who's going to reappear:

quote:

A representative of the enterprising owners of The Wright-Patterson Used Aircraft Company—a man known only as Roy From Troy—would turn up on Jonesville’s radar like clockwork on the first day of every month. Always flying in some God-awful airplane that was usually almost too big to come in safely, Roy From Troy nevertheless would circle the base and schmooz with the air traffic controllers, who would usually relent and let him land.

Once granted, he’d bounce in and emerge from his transportation, a case of scotch under one arm and one of his traveling bevy of blondes under the other. Roy would corner Hunter every trip and display a battered photo album filled with pictures of his inventory of old U.S. military aircraft. “The best defense in an unpredictable world,” so his company’s motto went, “is a better offense.” It was written on his business card, on the beat-up photo album cover and sometimes painted on the side of the plane he’d blow in on.

Roy From Troy would always be touting his monthly specials—“the last B-29s flying,” or “Two F-94s for the price of one, July only.” The hand of one of Roy’s blonde sales assistants slowly moving its way up to the buyer’s crotch was part of the standard operating procedure and led to more than a few sales. The story was told of a Texan air commander who woke up from a drunken stupor one morning and found two of Roy’s blondes in his bed and a line of nearly useless B-57s out on his runway. Roy was long gone, but left a note thanking the commander for the real silver and telling him he could keep the blondes.

Despite all of the temptations, Roy couldn’t hide the fact that his catalog consisted of heavy bombers mostly—old beasts like B-47 Stratojets and B-58 Hustlers—the kind of museum piece aircraft that the speedy ZAP wasn’t interested in.

The only thing Hunter gets from Roy is a few Hueys and an F-111 Aardvark swing-wing strike aircraft, which is given to Jones. There's some drooling over the plane by Mack, but nowhere near what the F-16 got. Hunter notices that Jones is taking out the F-111 a lot without even filling out a flight plan most of the time, which he reveals to Hunter at the bar was because he's gathered evidence of secret dealing between the Mid-Aks and the Boston Leaders (long story short, his buddy at Logan did the equivalent of reading a Learjet's odometer and figured out that it's flying to Baltimore).

quote:

“I hate those bastards,” Jones said, finishing his beer in one gulp and calling for another in the same motion. “They’re dirty. They’re rapists. They’re child murderers. I’d love to bomb the faggots back into the Stone Age.”

I'm not even going to copy and paste the exposition Jones gives about this. He figures there's a mole on Council and the Mid-Aks have been offering bribes (there's a little bit about how South America's biggest export item is drugs to the United States after WW3 ended). Jones's twin brother, Dave, is also mentioned as doing the same job as Seth out on the West Coast. Jones is still convinced the Russians are behind it.

So that's the entirety of chapter 6. You could skip over whole pages and still get the gist of it.

Notgothic
May 24, 2003

Thanks for the input, Jeff!

I gotta say, this is a real balm compared to Ringo. 80s as gently caress, but if you read it with that mindset it seems pretty fun.

Did Jones ever explain why he had that banner-plane out looking for Hawk, when Hawk was missing and could have been literally anywhere in the world (or dead)? The hunting lodge was a secret, wasn't it?

edit: oh wait, I'm dumb, you said Jones knew his parents, so I guess the lodge would be a place he knows about.

Well, anyway, this part made me laugh more than anything John Ringo has written:

quote:

“Where have you been, Major? Hibernating?”

“Worse than that, sir,” Hunter replied, still standing ramrod straight at attention. “I’ve been contemplating my existence.”

“Obviously, you’re suffering from post-World War III syndrome,” the general said.

“It’s been going around.” Hunter continued. “Got a bunch of books, went up to a mountain and tried to find the meaning of life, sir.

“Jesus, not that!”

“’Fraid so, sir.”

Notgothic fucked around with this message at 00:55 on Jan 9, 2017

Veritek83
Jul 7, 2008

The Irish can't drink. What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean. Virtually every Irish I've known gets mean when he drinks.


Notgothic posted:

I gotta say, this is a real balm compared to Ringo. 80s as gently caress, but if you read it with that mindset it seems pretty fun.

Yeah, this stuff is harmless next to Ringo. This could easily have become a series of popular action movies in the 80s, whereas adapting Ringo's books to the screen would likely result in legal action on the grounds of indecency.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Notgothic posted:

I gotta say, this is a real balm compared to Ringo. 80s as gently caress, but if you read it with that mindset it seems pretty fun.

Did Jones ever explain why he had that banner-plane out looking for Hawk, when Hawk was missing and could have been literally anywhere in the world (or dead)? The hunting lodge was a secret, wasn't it?

edit: oh wait, I'm dumb, you said Jones knew his parents, so I guess the lodge would be a place he knows about.

Well, anyway, this part made me laugh more than anything John Ringo has written:

The upcoming chapter is the last dull one where nothing important really happens. Chapter 8 is our first action scene, so we just need to get the love interest out of the way.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 7 picks up a week after Jones's ominous warning to Hunter. Jones calls Hunter into his office straight out of the dawn patrol, and finds that Jones has been officially grounded by the Council for insubordination; since he overstepped his jurisdiction on the Cherry Busters mission, he's banned from flying until further notice. Both men suspect that this is the first sign of the Mid-Ak takeover, and Jones hands over a surveillance photo he took flying over Baltimore showing 339 (Hunter is a genius so he can count exactly very quickly) helicopters for a potential airborne assault.

Hunter and Jones have an argument that only lasts a few sentences before Jones storms out. Hunter is the pure-hearted idealist who still thinks that having the best men and equipment is all it takes to win, and Jones got a hell of a lot more cynical after World War III where they still lost after technically winning thanks to a backstab.

The atmosphere in Jonesville (I keep almost accidentally writing Jonestown) is somber with news of the general's grounding. But there's something to perk up Hunter's spirits...

quote:

Hunter was drunk when she walked in. At first, the dim light over the club’s doorway cast a shadow across her face, managing to transform her hair color into dirty blond. But as soon as she stepped into the brighter light near the bar, her hair returned to its natural, brunette color. She was small and sported a pert, nimble, curvy body. Her tiny, yet delicious looking breasts highlighted the blue, thin-strapped dress she wore beneath her raincoat. A slim figure and nicely rounded hips and rear added to the package. Her gorgeous legs completed the masterpiece. She was French. She was beautiful. And Hunter knew her.

When he had first looked up, after waiting several crucial seconds for his drunken eyes to focus, he was convinced that he was out on his feet and dreaming the whole thing. But then, after asking the bartender, who had pointed in Hunter’s general direction, she saw him and waved, he knew it was her.

The strange days after the war came back to him in a flash. The black and red sky. The dark days and darker nights. His long dangerous trek from Spain to Scotland. She was the girl he had met along the way. They had both sought refuge in the same abandoned farmhouse near the French coast. She had held a shotgun on him for more than an hour, until he convinced her he was not a rapist or a Russian sympathizer. Then they had talked. Later, by mutual consent, he had taken her—and let her take him. It had been brief; she was gone the next morning. But this girl had haunted his dreams—asleep and awake—since the last time he’d had seen her. And she had just walked in the door.

Dominique. He couldn’t believe Dominique was standing in front of him, a mist welling in her eyes. He was on his feet, drunkenly trying to act like a sober gentleman, and failing miserably. It was surreal. This girl, the one who disappeared on that strange morning, was now here, in Jonesville smiling, if slightly taken aback at his boozy manner. He tried to talk, but gave up and just listened.

How did she get here? She had always wanted to come to America. Now, she had raised enough silver—he didn’t ask how—to buy herself out of Occupied France and onto a boat to Iceland. From there she caught the once-a-month flight over to Montreal. How did she know he was here? She had heard of the famous ZAP while in Free Canada, and that a young, skillful pilot named Hunter was one of its leaders. So she made her way to Boston, and finally, bought a ride to Otis. She got him to sit down and accepted his frantic offers to buy her a drink.

They talked. She was thinking of staying in Free Canada or the Northeast Economic Zone as things were really getting out of hand in Occupied Europe. Terrorism, public executions, secret police, Russian soldiers on every corner, the every move of anyone the least suspect, monitored. Oddly, she told him just about the same things were happening in Boston. She had also thought about him since they last met and shyly admitted that one of the reasons she came across was to try to find him. She just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

He asked her if she had a place to stay. She said no. He asked if she would stay with him. She said yes. She had to help him back to his quarters, where they collapsed into each other’s arms. He retrieved her baggage the next morning and she moved in with him. It continued to rain for the next three days. He didn’t notice. They didn’t leave his room for all that time.

And here we see our introduction to Hawk Hunter's love interest, Dominique. Thankfully we don't really need to read the description to know what she looks like, because later books repeatedly specify that she just so happens to look exactly like Brigitte Bardot.



Like any good pulp author, it appears that Mack has just decided to base the perfect love interest for his equally perfect protagonist on whichever celebrity he finds hottest. Dominique, much like Hunter, bears very few distinguishing character traits beyond being perfect for her role. Gorgeous, intelligent yet demure, independent enough to spit in the face of the villain to show her defiance but not enough to avoid being captured and abused until she gets rescued. She spends the rest of the books as a stereotypical damsel in distress who does very little beyond acting as a MacGuffin for Hawk to chase after.

You can tell how little Mack actually cares about her beyond a prop by how she gets introduced: despite being a figure from Hunter's past who's mysteriously arrived in Jonesville, the surreal and strange appearance she makes (strange enough to throw the protagonist for a loop, since they only met once before on the other side of the world for a one-night stand) gets glossed over in a few paragraphs devoid of any actual dialogue.

Much like the previous chapter, the next section unfolds over a description of a long time skip that lasts weeks or months. In the winter, Hunter and Dominique take long walks on the beach and are described as having sex pretty much constantly when they're not doing something else (mercifully, Mack doesn't go like Ringo and elects not to describe it in detail here). Meanwhile, the pro-ZAP and pro-Ak factions in Boston are having a little power struggle over whether or not to cut off support to Jones. ZAP starts getting false scrambles against bogies who get caught on radar and disappear, ships without lights or flags appear in the distance, and important supply transfers to ZAP are held up for no apparent reason. Jones unofficially puts the base on war footing and starts blacking it out at night.

Back home, Hunter and Dominique eat a quiet candlelit dinner.

quote:

They returned to the bedroom after the meal. She had opened a bottle of wine she had been saving for a special occasion. He didn’t wait for a glass—he took two healthy swigs from the bottle, then kicked off his boots and lay back on the bed. He looked so weary to her. His handsome looks were turning old, his face becoming lined with worry. She tried soothing him by running her fingers through his long hair. He was quiet for a long time.

She removed her clothes, slowly, a single flickering candle casting erotic shadows all over the small bedroom. He couldn’t help watching her through his barely-open eyes. Once she was naked, she slowly undid his shirt and pants. He didn’t resist. Soon they were both naked.

Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at her. “Dominique, honey,” he began slowly. “I’d love to ask you to stay with me. Forever.”

A pang of surprise shot through her. Was this his way of proposing marriage?

“But,” he continued sadly. “The world is so screwed up. The whole goddamned globe is shaking and it feels like it’s going to collapse right here at Otis.”

“Oh, Hawk …”

He held his hand up. “Bad things are coming, honey. We can get stomped out of here in a second’s time.”

“But you can fight them …”

“Sure, we can,” he said, pulling her close to him. “If we decide to, we will. And it will be a hell of a fight. But we just don’t have the numbers here. We’re small, specialized. We can shoot anything down within a hundred miles. But this is different. This is a power play. It’s politics all over again.”

The rest of the dialogue is more of this cheesy, dime store romance novel crap. Dominique suggests fleeing to Canada, and Hunter reveals he's already arranged a Beechcraft for a sensitive document transport to Montreal and forces her to get on the plane the next morning. She tries to refuse, but Hunter won't let her get involved in the war.

Here we get one of the absolute best lines in the book, which I don't think Mack was writing ironically:

quote:

He felt like an Exocet had flown in and exploded in his heart.

Hawk drinks himself under the table for the next 24 hours, refusing to leave the bar and alcohol for anything. Some people come and go, but he spends most of the day and night drinking alone. And then ACTION ACTION ACTION

quote:

Suddenly, the whole world came crashing down on him. There was a tremendous explosion. He knew right away the base’s ammunition bunker had been hit. The bar lights blinked and a heartbeat later, the room was filled with flames. In another instant, a scattershot of flying shrapnel, red-hot and shrieking, perforated the walls of the bar.

Hunter was thrown 30 feet out of the structure. He remembered lying on his back, looking up at the early morning stars and hearing the air raid siren go off. Next, the mechanical thumping of the base perimeter guns started up. When he looked up, the barroom—and the people that had been inside—were gone.

The scramble Klaxon came on moments later. He slowly extracted himself from the smoking rubble and, without bothering to check for personal damage, he was up and racing across the tarmac toward his F-16.

shame on an IGA
Apr 8, 2005

Get into shit, let it out like diarrhea
Got burnt once, that was only gonorrhea




Oh God I always wondered what was up when I was a kid and my raging chickenhawk dad who proudly displayed the complete works of Clancy, Marchinko and Coyle would never, EVER allow these out of their place of shame in the back of the garage.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



shame on an IGA posted:

Oh God I always wondered what was up when I was a kid and my raging chickenhawk dad who proudly displayed the complete works of Clancy, Marchinko and Coyle would never, EVER allow these out of their place of shame in the back of the garage.

Your dad sent an Exocet straight into Mack's heart.

Smiling Jack
Dec 2, 2001

I sucked a dick for bus fare and then I walked home.



new thread title right there

NerdyMcNerdNerd
Aug 3, 2004

Lol.i halbve already saod i inferno circstances wanttpgback


Jesus, the nostalgia. I read the hell out of these when I was 14. Wingman and Deathlands.

If you took the Cold War thread, and then mixed it with GiP's drunk thread and the sick booms thread, you'd get Wingman.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


This kind of reads like some Hollywood writers looked at the successes of Top Gun and Iron Eagle, wanted to cash in on that sweet airplane movie money, and licensed a US movie tie-in an obscure Japanese franchise called Ace Combat. The eclectic aircraft mixes, the world that's not really ours but sort of is...Hunter's "Feeling" would slot right in with "Did you know? There are three kinds of Aces..." and the story of Razgriz.

It's cheesy and stupid, but it's not actively bad in the way John Ringo's stuff is, and with a whole lot of sanding down of the rough edges (like the entire romance subplot) could even be almost decent? But then, I'm sympathetic to cool aircraft stories.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 8 doesn't even wait to tell you exactly what's going on in Jonesville.

quote:

The base was under attack. Two ships off the coast were pounding the area with their deck guns and missile launchers. There were soldiers firing mortars at them from the dunes on the beach. Apparently one of the ships had landed a contingent of commandos, some of the ghostlike figures were visible in the first streaks of daylight, others were illuminated by the ferocious fire that was blazing away at the bombed ammunition bunker at the edge of the base.

The runway lights were on, and Hunter could hear the familiar sound of the jets on the flight line winding up their engines. When he reached the line, his F-16 was already hot,—a quick-thinking monkey had turned the key and armed the weapons even as mortar shells were raining down around them. Looking around in the confusion and smoke, Hunter saw three other jets were hot, and a few in the process. He also saw several of their fighters had turned into burning wrecks. He felt a pang in his heart as he saw good aircraft go up in smoke.

He was the first one to taxi out onto the runway, never pausing for anything as trivial as take-off clearance or wind direction. His only thoughts were on bombing the poo poo out of those ships off shore, then swinging around and tearing up the ghost troops on the beach. He would figure out who the hell his enemy was later. As the jet moved forward, he felt the drag of a dozen all-purpose bombs hanging on his wings. No problem. They wouldn’t be there long. His avionics were switching on. One-by-one indicator lights telling him his fuel load, weapons load and other sundry information flashed onto the HUD screen in front of him. It would still take his radar another minute or two to heat up. But he couldn’t wait that long. He gunned his engine and started screeching down the runway.

It takes just over 1 page for Hawk to go from picking himself up off the ground to taking off. Hawk flips everything to manual and points himself at the closest ship (a black light cruiser about a mile off shore) before his landing gear is even up, then sends a line of 20mm cannon shells from his Vulcan up the water and raking up the side of the ship. He streaks over toward the second ship, a missile-armed vessel carrying landing craft, and drops two bombs at such high speed that they slam straight into the side of the ship.

quote:

He saw two A-7s—it had to be Wa and Toomey—following his lead by streaking across the wavetops, attacking the ships side-by-side. He detected some spits of fire coming from the stricken craft, indicating that not all of the anti-aircraft fire was suppressed. Not yet, anyway. He smiled. Pulling the F-16 out of its dive, he banked hard to the right and put the jet into a screaming 180-degree turn. He was sure the A-7s—and anything else that got off the ground—could handle the ships. It was time for him to visit the beach.

The unknown attackers are disgorging hundreds of troops from Higgins-style landing craft, which Hawk bombs and splatters red all over the beach. A T-38 and F-106 join in on the strafing.

quote:

Suddenly, an indicator light and buzzer told him a shoulder-launched missile, fired from a position hidden in the dunes, was homing in on him. He calmly dropped four more bombs in sequence, and then, using a maneuver from his Thunderbirds days, rolled the plane six times in quick succession. The trick baffled the anti-aircraft missile and it slammed into the side of a sand dune, exploding harmlessly.

He pointed the F-16 straight up, once again and flipped it over on its back. Only the F-16 could handle all this maneuvering while still carrying a full fuel and bomb load. “What a plane!” he yelled, banging the console with an appreciative fist. “What a loving plane!”

He set his sights on two landing craft that were just reaching the beach. The soldiers on board never had a chance as Hunter placed a 500-pounder in each craft. The bomb, more suitable for taking out hardened gun positions and the like, simply obliterated the two small ships. Looking back, he saw bodies, and parts of bodies, flying wildly through the air. They looked like busted-up, blown-up dolls. Whoever they were, they, like the guys on the ships, just succeeded in getting themselves killed. Sorry guys, he thought. You just got yourselves hooked up with the wrong customer.

Chapter 8 comes to an abrupt halt here after only 6 pages, so we'll continue on with the next.

quote:

Hunter made two more passes over the beach, using up the rest of his cannon ammunition. The A-7s did the same. It didn’t appear to make much difference—the beach and the shoreline were covered with the bodies of the black-uniformed attackers. He could see the Rangers, who had immediately met the invaders on the first line of sand dunes, now start to emerge from their positions and pick over the dead soldiers. The situation on the beach seemed to be in hand.

He rolled right, out to sea. Offshore, the two ships were burning fiercely. The secondary explosions that were continually rocking the vessels told him that there wouldn’t be very many survivors left on board. The cruisers (sic) was going down bow first. The missile launcher/troop ship looked no better. He doubted it would stay afloat long enough for them to inspect it and look for evidence as to who had attacked them and why.

He streaked over the base and saw the destruction the attack had wrought. A half dozen airplanes were destroyed and several buildings—including the ammo bunker and the club—were in flames. All the while, he could still hear the base radio operator repeatedly trying to raise Boston to tell them of the attack. As Hunter made his final turn for landing, he was filled with a strange mix of confusion and elation. ZAP and the Rangers had stopped the invaders before they even reached the high water line. And, in all, the action had lasted only a half hour. Yet, some valuable men and equipment were lost in the surprise attack. And for what? Mercenaries killing other mercenaries? But that seemed to be the accepted norm in these days of the New Order.

He brought the F-16 in right on the tail of the A-7s, rolled it up to its station point and leaped from the cockpit. Monkeys quickly surrounded the plane and started to re-arm it. There was no way to be sure whether this was just a first of several attacks on Otis. Hunter, like the rest of the pilots, wanted to be ready, just in case.

The base was a scene of controlled pandemonium. Several fires were burning out of control, and the ammo bunker was still exploding. Rescue vehicles were speeding about, sirens blaring, lights flashing. Rangers were double-timing it to the beach to set up a defense line. Several jets went hot and took off to provide the base with air cover, should another attack occur. Hunter could see that a couple of civilian houses had also taken hits, and the base fire crews were battling those blazes. Everywhere there was smoke and the smell of spent ammunition.

Jones grabs up an M16 and he and Hunter begin sprinting back toward the beach, hoping to identify their attackers. An F-106 and T-38 were destroyed along with the ammo dump, but all the valuable (read: cool) planes survived. The 350 attackers were completely decimated, all dressed in plain black coveralls with no identification and a variety of weapons like M16s, Stens, and BARs. Hawk and Jones both agree that it's a repeat of the Miami distraction from the Florida-Alabama Union takeover and that there must be a real attack by the Mid-Aks or their hired mercenaries coming soon.

The precision of the ammo dump destruction and the lack of response on the radio from Boston suggests spies, so Hawk sends Toomey in a T-38 to scout out Boston and Ben Wa balls in the F-4 to Logan Airport. As the radio operator repeatedly sends messages to Boston, Jones slips in a little request to strike the Mid-Aks in the hopes of a response. Immediately afterward, the radio comes to life.

quote:

“Otis. Boston calling,” a wavering, broken voice began. “Do not—Repeat—Do not launch any aircraft until you receive specific orders to do so. Otis. Please acknowledge.”

Jones looked out of the single story building’s only window, just as Toomey’s two-ship flight was lifting off from the base’s one remaining active runway. “Acknowledge, my rear end!” Jones said, grabbing the microphone. “This is General Seth Jones, Commander of the Northeast Economic Zone’ Armed Forces and Air Patrol. To whom am I speaking?”

“This is Corporal Buford Smith …”

Neither Hunter or Jones recognized the name.

“Well, Corporal Smith,” Jones said. “I suggest you put someone with some authority on … immediately! We’ve been attacked. We have positively identified who originated the attack. We are obligated to the people we lost and to the free people of the Economic Zone to retaliate. Against the Mid-Atlantic States, immediately and with as much force as we can muster.”

There was the sound of microphone changing hands on the other end then a long silence. “Otis,” a different voice began. “This is a direct order. Do not engage in any reprisal strikes. Do not to launch any aircraft.”

Hunter would have bet that Jones would blow his top. But he was surprised with the coolness the general displayed in taking the microphone in hand and asking: “To whom am I speaking now?”

Another silence, followed by … “Captain Bobby Joe Spencer,” the voice said, with more than a trace of arrogance. “Communications brigade, Special Marine Battalion, Mid-Atlantic Forces.” The declaration stunned but didn’t necessarily surprise Jones and Hunter.

The radio operator finally managed to speak: “Sir! A Mid-Ak at the phone in Boston?” Jones took off his trademark baseball cap and ran his hand through his short cropped hair. “I’m afraid so, son,” Jones said. In the distance Hunter could hear Ben Wa firing up the F-4. “Captain,” Jones said, calmly into the microphone. “Am I to assume that your forces are now in control of the government for the Northeast?”

Again, a short silence. “You assume correctly, General,” Spencer declared over the crackling frequency. “There has been a coup d’etat. Our special forces were … requested … to help restore order and control the situation at the Government House.”

“And who invited you, Captain?”

“Chairman Turkson,” Spencer answered. “First Minister of the Revolutionary Council of the Northeast Economic Zone.” Hunter recognized the name in the middle of the mouthful. Turkson was the Council member whom Jones had tagged as most likely to set up a dictatorship and screw up a good thing. He above others was the one who at first tried to gain control of ZAP, then, failing that, tried to destroy it.

“But, Captain,” Jones said, the anger beginning to betray his voice. “The Northeast Economic Zone is a democracy, a form of government that you are obviously not familiar with. There is no Chairman and there is no Revolutionary Council.”

“Well,” Spencer answered in a voice with a more evident Southern tone, “There is now.”

It's been a while since we got any reason to root for patriotism, so Spencer gets a little nasty when it comes to democracy.

quote:

“Your kind went out with World War III. Democracy? Ha! When will you and your flag-waving fly-boys wake up? This is The New Order. Survival of the fittest. And to the highest bidder. Anyone who’s eating, got clothes on his rear end and a roof over his head had better thank the people in power, the people who are running things. Money is power, Jones. Because without it—or us—nine-tenths of the people wouldn’t know where to take a leak!”

Spencer also reveals that the Mid-Aks rounded up all the innocent men, women, and children they could find in Boston and gathered them in the Government House to deter any attempted airstrikes against the Mid-Ak leadership. The ZAP can't blow up Logan Airport either, as it'll cut off the convoys running west and leave everyone too broke to supply food to the civilians.

So Jones decides to show who's in charge.

quote:

“Captain, maybe we can make a deal. I’m assuming that you are broadcasting from the Government House radio station.”

“Right again, Jones.” Spencer answered. “And it’s a great view!” Jones smiled. Caught. The fish took the bait. Hunter knew it. Jones knew it. Even the radio operator knew it.

“Let’s talk, Captain,” Jones said using all the false politeness he could muster. Quickly taking another microphone from the sparky, the general was soon talking to Toomey’s two-ship of armed T-38s. They were streaking in low over the water, less than a minute flying time from downtown Boston.

“J. T.,” Jones began. “Here it is in a nutshell. The government has been overthrown by the Mid-Aks. We’ll soon have our asses to the wall. Do me a favor will you?”

“Name it, sir,” Toomey answered, after an appropriate pause long enough to let the news sink in.

“You know the Government House, right downtown, the old Prudential Insurance Building?”

“Yes, sir,” came Toomey’s crisp reply.

“On top, there’s a communications shack. You can tell it because of all the antennas sticking out of the roof.”

“Yes sir?”

“Take it out,” Jones ordered. “Just the shack. There are civilian hostages being held in the building itself.”

“Roger …”

“Come in low, J. T.,” Jones counseled. “And stay over the water as long as possible. The radar in that city is kid’s stuff so you’ll be able to get in okay. Ice the shack and then get the hell out of there. Code Red Two.”

“Code Red Two, sir?” Toomey asked.

“That’s a roger. Good luck, J. T.”

Code Red Two. Hunter knew the term, but hoped he’d never hear it. It meant the poo poo had hit the fan. The unit was ordered to disperse. “Thank you, sir …” Toomey’s voice trailed off. “Good luck, sir,” said a transmission from Toomey’s wingman.

Jones was silent for a moment, then said into the microphone: “Are you still there, Captain Spencer?”

“Yes, sir,” came the reply.

“Not for long …” Jones said. The radio speaker crackled as the sound of a jet engine became evident in the background. Thumping and bumping followed, then a few moments of confusion as the sound of the approaching jet got louder. Shouts were heard. Then, came a loud explosion and the speaker went dead.

“Goodbye ’Ak,” Jones said.

Shortly after, Ben Wa comes on the radio back to Otis. He's spotted hundreds of helicopters headed toward Jonesville; Hueys, Chinooks, Cobras, Apaches, every kind of US military helicopter that you can shove people into. Jones sends the radio operator to activate the air raid siren and begin evacuation of the civilians. Jones gives Code Red to Ben and orders him and JT's flight to link up and try to slow down the incoming choppers, then escape to Canada if possible.

The perspective flips over to the action.

quote:

Wa went in first. His back-seat weapons officer fired the first shot, unleashing two Sidewinder air-to-air missiles simultaneously. The heat-seeking rockets found a couple of heavy, troop-laden Chinook helicopters, flying side-by-side at the head of the formation and homed in on each craft’s hot engine exhausts. The missiles hit instantaneously.

Chopper number one got it in the mid-section, splitting it neatly in half. Wa could see troops falling from the Chinook and into the ocean more than a mile below. The other chopper, its main rotor destroyed, flipped over wildly, taking out a Huey gunship flying to its left. Together the two Mid-Ak craft plunged into the sea, as the rest of the chopper formation scattered.

Toomey went in next. Armed with dual M61 cannons, he sought out another Chinook. He pulled his trigger and riddled the aircraft with a 100-shot blast that took less than two seconds. He pulled up and through the choppers who were now wildly scattered across the sky. He found a Huey in his sights and squeezed off another 100 rounds. The enemy chopper exploded instantly. He rolled to avoid the flying debris and found a Cobra gunship at two o’clock. Another squeeze, another dead chopper. With only another squeeze or two left, he climbed out and looped back into the maze of helicopters that were attempting to get back into a loose formation.

The main chopper force was now completely spread out over the ocean. It was then he noticed that one of the helicopters bringing up the rear wasn’t of a familiar design. He’d seen the type of craft before, but in the confusion of the battle, it didn’t register. He sighted the mystery chopper and let go his final rounds, hitting the craft’s tail section and immediately igniting its fuel tanks. The helicopter fell out of the sky trailing a long stream of black smoke down to the water below. It would much later (sic) until Toomey would realize that he had fought a historic engagement—that he was the first pilot since the end of the war to down a Soviet-built Hind gunship.

Toomey’s wingman, a free-lancer named Charlie Waters, was the last of the pilots to take on the wave of choppers. By this time, the helicopter pilots were starting to fire back. Gunners in the waists of the Hueys and the Chinooks were drawing a bead on Waters as he started his first pass. He was met with a wall of machinegun fire as he made his way through the wall of helicopters, hard as it was for a chopper gunner to follow the jet fighter in close quarters. Waters’ first burst of cannon fire neatly took out a Huey, but his plane caught a few lucky slugs from a retaliating Apache gunship. Suddenly, the T-38 was spinning wildly. The bullets had ripped away his flaperon control and Waters realized he was disabled. Unable to steer the plane, he fired off one last long burst, wounding a couple of choppers in the process. That done, he hit the eject button, clearing the T-38 just as it slammed into yet another Chinook.

Waters floated down, but to his terror, saw an Apache double back and move in his direction. Dangling helpless beneath the parachute, Waters could only watch as the swift little chopper approached. About 100 yards out, it opened fire. The rounds from the copter riddled the helpless pilot shaking him like a out-of-control marionette. Waters’ bleeding, battered body immediately went limp and floated down into the sea about two miles off Boston. There it was quickly fed on by bloodlusting sharks.

Notgothic
May 24, 2003

Thanks for the input, Jeff!

Davin Valkri posted:

This kind of reads like some Hollywood writers looked at the successes of Top Gun and Iron Eagle, wanted to cash in on that sweet airplane movie money, and licensed a US movie tie-in an obscure Japanese franchise called Ace Combat. The eclectic aircraft mixes, the world that's not really ours but sort of is...Hunter's "Feeling" would slot right in with "Did you know? There are three kinds of Aces..." and the story of Razgriz.

It's cheesy and stupid, but it's not actively bad in the way John Ringo's stuff is, and with a whole lot of sanding down of the rough edges (like the entire romance subplot) could even be almost decent? But then, I'm sympathetic to cool aircraft stories.


With the air pirates and fragmented ex-American regional alliances and BIG HEROES HAVING ADVENTURES, I think the better version (or something that comes later on, from what the OP says) of the books Mack's writing here would be a lot like some sort of 80s Crimson Skies.

Which, hell yeah, I want that. Give me some crazy late cold war experimental planes, nazi sympathizers, rogue breakaway Native American countries, airborne Texas Rangers and motherfucking President of New York Ed Koch, and I will read every one of those books.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Notgothic posted:

With the air pirates and fragmented ex-American regional alliances and BIG HEROES HAVING ADVENTURES, I think the better version (or something that comes later on, from what the OP says) of the books Mack's writing here would be a lot like some sort of 80s Crimson Skies.

Which, hell yeah, I want that. Give me some crazy late cold war experimental planes, nazi sympathizers, rogue breakaway Native American countries, airborne Texas Rangers and motherfucking President of New York Ed Koch, and I will read every one of those books.

It actually does bear a close resemblance to Crimson Skies if it was set in a pulp 90s instead of pulp 30s. The US is fragmented in whatever ways seem coolest (like the KKK getting their own private air force) and there's lots of extremely elaborate set pieces like defending a gigantic train as it travels the country or escorting a carrier through the Suez Canal.

DeusExMachinima
Sep 2, 2012

This poster loves police brutality, but only when its against minorities!

Put this loser on ignore immediately!


quote:

He calmly dropped four more bombs in sequence, and then, using a maneuver from his Thunderbirds days, rolled the plane six times in quick succession. The trick baffled the anti-aircraft missile and it slammed into the side of a sand dune, exploding harmlessly.

I'm almost positive that's not how that works.

mlmp08
Jul 11, 2004


Nap Ghost

DeusExMachinima posted:

I'm almost positive that's not how that works.

Nah man, he engaged the missile's "drat, YOU SEE THAT poo poo?!" logic and it crashed bing bong so simple.

In the Mackiverse, the Thunderbirds apparently do snap rolls while having heaters shot at them in practice?

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Already 30% of the way through the first book! Chapter 10 opens up with the Code Red evacuation underway at Otis AFB. The ZAP pilots without working planes and the mechanics are taking a C-130 Hercules out, while the Rangers are loading aboard their Crazy Eight Chinooks. The basic plan is for all of the groups to scatter once they hit the air and regroup on the West Coast; the Rangers are acknowledged to likely need to fight their way across the continent due to the limited range of their choppers. Everything that can't be hauled out is being destroyed, with the hopes that the Mid-Aks will arrive to find the base empty of anything useful, and the local militia are helping evacuate the civilians.

quote:

Time for a change. Hunter told his monkeys to beat it, and they gratefully bid him goodbye, climbed on a jeep and headed for the C-130. Hunter loved his ground crew—they were the best on the base and had always felt it a privilege to work on the Thunderbird-adorned plane. Now Hunter, like the other pilots flying the ZAP fighters, would have to either find competent and trustworthy free-lance monkeys across the country—or fix whatever ailed their fighters themselves.

He climbed into the F-16, inserted the program tape and brought the engine up to trim. He was loaded with four Sidewinders, the blockbuster bomb, and a full load of cannon ammunition. Fuel conservation prevented him from taking anything else. The only clothes he had were the ones on his back. He managed to jam his M-16 into the F-16’s cockpit, along with some ammunition. The only other personal item he carried was the threadbare flag he’d taken from the body of Saul Wackerman.

Beside him, the general was strapping into the F-111, his mechanics having already departed. Being a much larger plane, the F-111 could carry about three times the bomb load of Hunter’s plane. The general had carefully hung straps of small bombs along the flexible wing, as well as the blockbuster scheduled for the base runway. The plane also had an internal bombbay, but Hunter was sure the general left it empty—so much better for the F-111 to conserve fuel.

Jones and Hunter take off under radio silence and disabled radars to stay as dark as possible, just as the horde of helicopters appears over the horizon. The pair drop their blockbuster bombs on the runway, cratering it into uselessness, and fly off.

Only 20 minutes into their flight, as the duo go through a massive cloud, Hunter loses sight of the general. He takes a risk and switches on his radar to see what looks like a blip the size of an F-111 flying south when they're supposed to be heading west. Curious, Hunter follows...and another two blips appear.

quote:

Hunter wasn’t taking any chances. He immediately armed his Sidewinders and floored the plane to full military speed to intercept the two planes. They came within visual sighting in seconds. Two F-101 Voodoos, mean-looking supersonic fighters that were the favorite of free-lancers and pirates alike. Both planes were painted in an evil-looking black and red trim color scheme, indicating a fighter-for-hire team.

All the while, the F-111 had been losing altitude, and Hunter strained to keep it in sight while streaking to intercept the Voodoos. Jones had slowed considerably and Hunter could see he had his flex wings spread out as far as possible, almost perpendicular to the plane’s body. It was the configuration for a low-level bombing attack.

By the time Hunter was within a mile of him, he had figured out what the general was up to. Jones was leading a one-man bombing mission against the Mid-Aks. Hunter couldn’t believe it, especially after Jones had convinced them all that he was pure mercenary. But Hunter had no time to wonder about the senior officer’s motives. He’d have the two Voodoos to deal with first.

He knew the two pilots didn’t see him to the last second. Either they were flying without radars or didn’t have them turned on. Either way, it was a fatal mistake for them.

Just as the first one rolled out to pounce on Jones’ plane far below, Hunter fired a Sidewinder. The Voodoo pilot never knew what hit him. The air-to-air missile went right where it should have gone: up the exhaust pipe of the F-101. The plane exploded in mid-air. When the smoke cleared, there was nothing left.

The second Voodoo pilot had already started his attack dive when he realized his partner was gone. He started to take evasive action, but again, Hunter was quicker to the draw. A second Sidewinder flashed from under his wing. It met the Voodoo at about 15,000 feet, just as the pilot had managed to pull up out of his attack dive. The missile clipped the F-101’s wing, shearing it completely off from the jet’s fuselage. Spinning wildly, the Voodoo continued to plunge. It impacted into the side of a mountain, a ball of flame instantly erupting from it.

Hawk catches up to Jones (who's using the F-111's terrain following radar to fly barely 150 feet off the ground) and realizes that he's on his way toward Baltimore, the Mid-Aks' capital. Five miles before the city limits, ground fire starts picking up and Hunter is forced to silently play bodyguard for the F-111, strafing AA positions with his Vulcan. The flak, missiles, and machine guns are overwhelming and eventually the F-111 takes a Stinger right in the center. The plane manages to shake it off (albeit trailing smoke) and continues on toward downtown Baltimore.

Jones wiggles his wings several times before climbing high over the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which the Mid-Aks have turned into a military base. Hunter follows, and at 20,000 feet Jones releases a single bomb from his plane. He immediately realizes what's happening as Jones begins a sharp climb...

quote:

They were at 40,000 when the blast went off. Hunter rolled to get a better look and was astonished to see a mushroom cloud—this one very authentic—rising up from the airport. The blast wave hit his plane a few seconds later, rocking it and causing his instruments to blink. He knew that whatever—and whoever—was on the base was now vaporized.

When or how Jones had managed to get hold of a nuclear bomb, he couldn’t imagine. He was still awestruck by the size of the blast and the growing mushroom cloud rising over the airport base. He should have figured that Jones wouldn’t have let the Mid-Aks off so easily. Nor would he have involved the rest of the squadron in nuking the Middle Atlantic’s main base. It was technically a one-plane mission, and that’s how Jones had planned it all along. The paycheck soldier talk was a cover. His hate for the Mid-Aks—their murderous, barbaric ways—had become personal a long time ago. With the constraints of the ZAP out of the way, Jones decided the time was right to deliver his own personal message of protest to the Middle Atlantic States. It was his way of avenging all the deaths and human misery the ’Aks had caused.

Mesmerized by the ever-growing mushroom cloud, Hunter concluded that the Mid-Aks had made a mistake a long time ago by making General Seth Jones their number one enemy. “You don’t gently caress around with General Jones,” the saying used to go, and once again, the adage was proved correct.

The general’s smoking plane had leveled off at 55,000 and had made a wide turn out over the Bay and headed due north. Hunter, realizing that after the nuking of the airport, something like maintaining radio silence seemed unimportant. He attempted to raise the general. But he got no reply …

He followed the disabled F-111 as it flew out over the Atlantic and steaked (sic) off to the north. Off the coast of the old state of Connecticut, the plane started to drift to a course back over the land. All the time, Hunter was trying to raise Jones on both his VHF and UHF frequencies, but still got no response. He pulled up beside the fighter-bomber several times and used hand and wing signals, again to no response. The F-111’s canopy windows were tinted in such a way as to make it hard to see the pilot inside.

Hunter dropped back to survey the damage to the general’s plane and noted that while the jet was still flying, the hole in its side would soon force it down. He figured the plane’s radio might have been knocked out by groundfire, but it was spooky that Jones would not acknowledge his wing or hand signals. And why the hell was he heading north?

Earlier in the book, when Hunter first bought the Aardvark from Roy from Troy, there's a mention of the F-111 having such an advanced autopilot that it can literally fly itself on an entire mission, from taxiing to landing, and even conduct a bombing run itself. The general told a story about some pilots in Vietnam who were decapitated by flak and still had their plane return them back to base on its own. I can't find any evidence of the real F-111 having such advanced avionics as to essentially be a self-guided drone, merely that the terrain following radar is good enough to let the pilot do crazy dangerous maneuvers at low altitude and around mountains with less risk. But you can all see where this is going now.

The F-111 flies to the Vermont Green Mountains and lands in a small airstrip hastily carved out of the forest.

quote:

He climbed out from the F-16 and looked around. Except for the F-111, the place was deserted. The only building was a small hangar, which looked like it was sealed up and locked tight as a drum. The general’s plane stood at the far end of the runway, slightly off-kilter, its exhaust and wounded side still smoking. Hunter ran to the airplane, hoping to see the canopy popped up and a tired but triumphant Jones sitting on its wing. But it was not to be.

He clambered up onto the wing and crawled along the top of the fuselage to reach the cockpit. It was closed. He reached down with his foot and was able to trip the release handle. The canopy hissed once, then slowly opened. Inside, still strapped down, helmet on and sitting perfectly rigid, was General Jones.

He was dead, of course. Shrapnel from the missile hit had punctured his chest and he had bled to death probably somewhere over the middle of Baltimore. The plane, with its famous sophisticated computer-controlled flight systems, had completed the mission Jones had programmed it to, then flew him to this remote base. The spookiness of it all made Hunter shudder. Suddenly, he was very cold.

He pulled the general out and lowered the body to the ground with the help of the parachute straps. He took one long last look. Here was a truly gallant man; hero in Viet Nam, leader of the Thunderbirds, the soldier, who probably more than any other, turned the tide in the Battle for Western Europe. An officer who respected his men as pilots and as human beings, who felt that to fight for a just cause was the ultimate human experience. Now to have that life end here, on a wind-swept and desolate airstrip in the middle of the mountains seemed not at all appropriate. The man should be written up in history books. If there were any history books.

He should have been accorded a full military funeral—a horse-drawn caisson, a flag on his casket, a 21-gun salute. But it was not to be. Hunter felt like a huge part of his life had just been cut out, destroyed, vanished. Gone. For the first time in a long time, he felt utterly alone. Not at all like the solitude of his mountain retreat of a few years back. This was the emptiness one felt upon losing a member of his family. The frank realization that a person you knew, spent part of your life with and loved, was gone. Forever. He knew he would never be the same again.

At least the general has a twin brother, right?

Notgothic
May 24, 2003

Thanks for the input, Jeff!

chitoryu12 posted:

At least the general has a twin brother, right?

I think it would go something... like... this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w9DUTcAI0o

Now, what's this about a treasure hangar?

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



As a light snow begins to fall, Hunter covers Jones's body with his parachute and hauls it up onto the wing of the F-111 to make sure no wild animals get any bright ideas for his burial. Hunter notes that the airstrip looks like it was an old Air National Guard or forest firefighting runway. While there aren't any humans around for 50 or 100 miles, tire marks and fuel stains on the runway suggest it was being used as recently as a few months ago.

Hunter takes a wrench from the F-111 and goes to work on the hangar, which has been nailed shut and the windows bricked up from the inside. When he finally breaks in, he finds the motherload:

quote:

It was Jones’s last card to play and it came up the ace of spades. The hangar was filled—literally to the rafter—with enough bombs, guns, missiles, fuel and spare parts to outfit a small air force. It was all packed away in stacks of wooden crates marked in stencil with signs like “Dangerous—Explosives” and “Napalm—Handle With Care.”

He saw at least 50 M61 cannons, just like the one he carried in his F-16, plus miles of ammunition belts hanging from the main beam across the ceiling. Hundreds, maybe a couple of thousand bombs—clusters to big blockbusters, frags to anti-personnel—were neatly stacked, in pyramids against one wall. There were probably a couple of hundred air-to-air missiles—Sidewinders mostly—each individually wrapped in a separate protective shroud, and carrying a tag for arming instructions.

At the rear of the building, there were hundreds of barrels of JP-8, the jet fuel that was the lifeblood of a pilot. He checked to make sure it wasn’t contaminated—a touch to his tongue told him it wasn’t. Neither were the barrels of lubricating oil stacked neatly beside the jet fuel.

He was glad he didn’t smoke. One match in the wrong place in this building and the resulting explosion would make Mount St. Helen’s look like a pesky landslide.

In another part of the hangar he found a treasure of spare parts—from extra tires to crucial nuts and bolts—all appropriately marked. Hanging on the wall near the parts was a clipboard holding receipts for all the merchandise. Each form held Jones’s typically scrawled initials at the bottom and each form carried the name of the same company: “The Wright Patterson Used Aircraft Company, Parts and Ordnance Division.” So Roy From Troy’s employers had diversified. Big planes weren’t enough for them; they had to start moving the small stuff. Well, he thought, it was probably easier these days to sell an anti-personnel bomb than a B-58 Hustler.

Somehow, Jones had bought all the stuff, little-by-little, as the receipts told it, and established a healthy reserve. He had beaten their system after all. If it ever came to war—real war—with the ’Aks, or the pirates or anybody, Jones had guaranteed that he would be sitting on top of enough material to make it very difficult to defeat him. Or, very hard to be victorious. Hunter realized that Jones would have made a perfect air guerrilla—a Robin Hood of the skies.

On examining the parts, he found that although they were manufactured for use on many different aircraft, they all had one thing in common: They could be used on an F-16. One of the beauties of the plane was that nearly 75-percent of its parts were used on other jet aircraft. From that point on he knew that while he might have the last remaining F-16 in the world, he would never have to worry about spare parts for it. That was, if he could always get back to this place. He quickly began to appreciate the desolation of the airstrip.

He pored over the stuff for the next two hours, but finally he nearly collapsed of exhaustion. He shut off the lights—which were powered by a silver cadmium battery—and using a Sidewinder shroud as a blanket, lay on a crate of napalm bombs and immediately went to sleep.

If I remember correctly, this is serving to make all of Hawk's wild stunts and insane expenditure of munitions later in the series plausible. Ordinarily you'd expect Hawk to need to carefully conserve his fuel and ammo and avoid straining the last F-16 in the world too much, or need to wheel and deal his way across America to fund his expeditions. Instead, Maloney handwaves away everything by giving Hawk a gigantic stockpile of everything needed to keep the plane running as long as the plot requires it.

Hunter dreams of their battles the day before, seeing Jones in his baseball cap with a cigar clamped in his mouth as he fights. He awakens in the middle of the night to a howling wind, but falls back asleep shortly after....then wakes up again.

quote:

He woke up a second time—an instant, a minute, an hour, maybe two hours—after he had drifted off. The wind was still howling and the old building was rattling. Maybe it was time to climb up on top of another mountain and wait it out again, he thought. Perhaps this mountain. He could hunt for food and make clothes out of the Sidewinder shrouds. He could read all the technical manuals in the place and drink napalm juice for breakfast. He could wait for the world to get hosed up to the max once more, then get shaken out. Live up here and wait and watch the world go by. Maybe that’s what was in the cards dealt when he followed Jones here. Led by a ghost, what more symbolism could a man want?

But this time, he was sure, he’d be waiting a lot longer than two years before he came down from the summit. That is, if he ever came down. At that point, he didn’t care. Screw it. Let the world rot. It wasn’t worth it. Everything was gone. Everyone—the general, ZAP, Dominique—gone. He was gone. And no one cared. So why should he? He decided. He would stay and live on the mountain. Live there forever, if he had to. He was retiring. He couldn’t care less, he told himself, if he never got into an airplane again. This was his home now. He closed his eyes. Again, he thought of the general. Again, he fell off into a fitful sleep.

Then he wakes up again and feels Saul Wackerman's flag in his back pocket. Touching the flag instantly brings a patriotism boner to his heart, and he decides that if he needs to go down fighting as the last man who believes in the American Way, so be it. The text reads like a born-again Christian, only for American patriotism rather than religion. Hunter drifts off to sleep for a final time, dreaming of a giant W written across the sky like a cloud.

In the cold morning air, Hawk buries Jones in an unmarked grave and drains the F-111's fuel tanks into his own. He reloads his Vulcan, attaches another 2 Sidewinders to make up for having shot down those Voodoos yesterday, and attaches a dispenser full of hundreds of small anti-runway penetrating bombs to the belly of his F-16. He uses the F-16 as a tow truck and pushes the F-111 over the edge of a cliff, hoping that it'll seem like Seth Jones died in a crash over Vermont. He finally locks up the hangar and puts a "Danger: Radiation" sign on the door to keep away passers-by. As he takes off, 24 time bombs crater the runway and drop giant trees onto it, making it virtually impossible for even a helicopter to land at the base. His ordnance is safe, and he begins a flight to Jonesville...

This is where the book finally hits the tone Mack wants to stick for the rest of the series.

Using the magic of his F-16's High Resolution Radar, Hawk conjures up a 3D image of the activity in the captured Jonesville on his screens (Mack seems to think the F-16 is a sci-fi spacecraft long before he turns it into one in Starhawk). The Mid-Aks have lined up their hundreds of helicopters along the runways in neat rows and are flying their flag over the base, and a few warships are just off shore. He can also see hundreds of executed civilians in the cranberry bogs, and executions are continuing by the truckload. He also sees that while the Mid-Aks are working on erecting half a dozen AA sites, they haven't gotten any radar installations working.

On the ground, the Mid-Aks are using helicopters with thermal cameras to locate hidden civilians. Everyone except the young girls (as usual, being sent off as rape slaves to the best Mid-Ak officers) is rounded up into trucks and executed in the marsh by firing squad. There's a mention of how the firing squad officers are trying to finish the killing as quickly as possible to make sure they get a "fuckable young girl" as a reward.

Then two of the officers on the ground hear a strange whining noise, and peer into the sun to see what it could be....

quote:

Next thing they knew, the F-16 was right in front of them. It had arrived so quickly, they never had time to move. One officer could see the face of the man flying the jet. Even with a helmet on and an oxygen mask attached, the ’Ak could discern hate in the pilot’s eyes.

In the instant before death that seems to last an eternity, the Mid-Ak officer thought it was strange to see such an oddly painted jet fighter swooping down on him. It was red, white and blue and looked like it had a bird painted on its underbelly. A bird of death. One second later, a M61 cannon round had taken off his head.

His companion was bewildered. He could clearly see his comrade’s severed spinal column, brain stem and neck muscles as the corpse stood upright for a terrifying instant before tumbling back over. The man’s head, still wearing the standard issue Mid-Ak helmet, was bouncing away like a child’s toy. A moment later, the other officer felt something wet on his chest. The mysterious plane had already passed over and was streaking toward the base, barely 20 feet off the ground. The man looked down and discovered that he no longer had a stomach—it had been blown away by an invisible, seemingly painless entry of a cannon shell. He saw red, coughed up bloody vomit and died.

As the F-16 streaks over the prisoners, they begin splashing through the bog to escape their terrified executioners; they all recognize the ZAP plane that just swooped in to save them.

Ah, we were late on our dose of gratuitous rape.

quote:

The base’s control tower was filled with Mid-Ak officers, enjoying a mid-morning meal of liquor, food and young girls. The confident conquerors had turned the tower into their private club. They had no sophisticated jet fighters to handle, so why the need for a working control center? The helicopters just landed themselves, no need to coordinate them. From the tower, the officers could keep an eye on the base below and celebrate their victory at the same time. Not even the fact that their main base down in Baltimore had been incinerated the day before could dim the party atmosphere. The base’s new commanding officer, taking his turn on a nubile 15-year-old blond girl, paused to take a swig of champagne.

He looked out of the tower window just in time to see the red, white and blue jet streak by. He swore the pilot was looking right at him. It was as if the plane was hanging out there, suspended in mid-air. The officer could see hate in the other man’s eyes. Who the hell is that? he wondered.

The noise of the jet passing arrived a second later. It was so loud and intense, it broke half the liquor bottles in the tower. Many of the dozen or so officers present instinctively ducked upon hearing the ear-shattering noise. When they finally managed to lift their heads up, the jet had traversed the field and was turning around.

The F-16 flies over the runway and releases 500 little fist-sized globes, each floating gently down on a parachute. The Mid-Ak officers think it's a joke...until they explode, blowing the helicopters into fireballs and spraying shrapnel everywhere. One soldier is described as being blown in half and his body splattering against the control tower window, leaving the officers vomiting and the teenage girls fleeing.

Hawk circles around, destroying an AA position with his 20mm and dropping a 500 pound bomb on the biggest Mid-Ak warship. The soldiers on the ground are amazed at the incredible acrobatic moves the F-16 is performing, making it completely impossible to hit. The only helicopter to get airborne is shot down with a Sidewinder. He even bombs a dike, letting the sea flood half the main runway.

quote:

He lowered his flaps and his landing gear to slow the jet down to almost a crawl. Lining up the control tower in his video display sight, he could see figures running inside panicking as he approached. At 200 yards out, he performed a perfect four-point turn—first on the right wing, then upside down, then on the left wing and back level again. At the end of the maneuver he was right on the control tower. A push of the weapons release and the napalm cannister (sic) splattered onto the side of the tower.

The building was instantly engulfed in flames. Streaking past, he could see fiery figures, diving or falling out of the building as the burning gelatin spread. For the coup de’ grace, he squeezed off a cannon burst which riddled the Mid-Ak flag flying above one of the buildings splintering its flagpole in the process.

The survivors slowly emerge from the chaos. Almost every helicopter on the base has been destroyed, every building is burning, the control tower is a pillar of fire, and the sea is flooding the far end of the base. On a nearby sand dune, the escape civilians grab bayonets and begin stabbing the corpses of their would-be executioners.

quote:

Something in the sky caught the eye of one of the survivors and he called to his comrades to look. Some of the few remaining Mid-Aks saw it too. Miles up, its tail exhaust leaving a contrail, the outline of the F-16 could be seen. The pilot was skywriting a huge letter 55,000 feet up and miles across. Then the F-16 was gone for good, leaving a sight both friend and foe would not soon forget—even as the huge “W” drifted and eventually faded away.

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Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



That's some shooting, pin-point decapitation while low-level flying. The F-16's M61 Vulcan has 6,600 rounds per minute and an average shot dispersion of 8 mils or 8 meters at 1 kilometer. Even the common loadings for interceptor aircraft is high-explosive, fatality radius of 2 meters, fragmentation hazard up to 20m. You aren't sniper shooting with that, it's a quarter-second burst, a loud BRRAP!!!, and those guys are a smear across New England asphalt.

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