Billy Dunn examined his vehicle from all sides. It was hard to believe that this machine was his legacy. It had suffered numerous upgrades in its years of service since his uncle had invented it. Now it was back where it belonged.
Inspecting the vehicle, he checked items off on a list as he went. Everything was a go as soon as he was granted clearance. Five minutes after that, he would be flying over California to announce the return of the Dunns to the war effort. The Dunns and their weapon of choice, the Blue Tracer. His uncle, “Wild” Bill Dunn, had a rare combination of inventive genius and fighting skills, a combination that had been passed on to Billy.
Dunn glanced inside the vehicle, where Bomber Jones was checking off items on the navigator list. The two had been friends for a long time, even going to flight school together. They were the best team the United States had in the air, even rivaling the high-flying Blackhawks.
He finished his final walkaround on the Tracer, happy that everything seemed in order. It was the baby’s first flight in real combat. Hopefully this mission would be just as smooth as practice.
Sliding easily into the cockpit, he donned his helmet decorated with a blue bullet. Dunn began running his take-off checklist as Jones pulled on his own helmet.
The canopy slid shut as the engines screamed to life, and Dunn smiled as he began to taxi the Blue Tracer to the runway. There, he still had to wait a few moments for clearance. As soon as everything was green, he pushed the throttle forward and the control wheel back. The all-terrain vehicle soon roared into the air.
He grinned happily as he pulled the wheel all the way back. The remodeled craft power-climbed to its ceiling before the pilot leveled out.
Dunn headed along his assigned course, Jones feeding him navigation data as the bomber flew smoothly. The Tracer was a dream to pilot, and Dunn considered himself the luckiest pilot alive.
“We have bogies, Billy,” said Jones over the radio, “coming up on our six. Six fighters.”
“Taking evasive,” said Dunn. “Ready countermeasures.”
“ECM running,” said Jones. “Flares ready to be deployed.”
Dunn began to duck and weave as the Japanese fighters closed with him. He knew the pilots would want to be point blank with the Tracer before firing their missiles. He’d give them a run for their money first.
“Missiles inbound,” Jones said calmly. “Eight missiles inbound.”
Checking his radar as the missiles bore down on his heat signature, Dunn rolled the bomber over before cutting the engine back. The Tracer dropped below the missiles as the engines threatened to stall.
Dunn banked away as he pushed the throttle back to full, rolling the Tracer like a smaller fighter and not the bomber it was. He flipped the guard off the firing trigger on the wheel.
A crosshair appeared on the inside of his helmet’s visor. “Cannons are lit,” Dunn reported.
“Bogies are closing fast,” reported Jones. “Break left, break left.”
Pulling a hard left on the wheel, the Tracer heeled over like a fighter. Jones fired a flare and radar chaff behind them to throw the missiles off.
Dunn wheeled his jet around to face the enemy fighters, despite knowing his air-to-air capability was awful. Still, he let the scope in his visor fall on the lead Zero, then pulled the trigger on the gatling in the belly of the aircraft.
Bullets rained on the lead fighter’s cockpit, cutting the pilot in two, and the Zero went into a dive. Dunn was through the line and circling back for another run as the fighters tried to form up to pursue him.
“We’re going to treetop,” said Dunn, pulling the trigger on the gatling as missiles skidded all around him, trying to lock on the Tracer‘s heat signature. The gatling stitched a plane as the bomber passed, but nothing significant was hit.
“Right,” said Jones.
Dunn pushed the wheel forward to drop altitude. He knew the fighters would line up on him, but he also knew that the rugged terrain gave the slower bomber a chance at escape. The mission had to succeed to free California from the enemy. No one should have a foothold on the continental United States.
“Bogies coming in,” warned Jones. “They’re trying to lock onto our six.”
“We might have to switch to ground travel to throw off the fighters,” said Dunn.
“Affirmative,” said Jones.
All they would have to do then was throw off ground pursuit. Dunn knew he could go underground if he had to do it. The Tracer was all-terrain in every sense of the word. “Get ready, Bomber,” said Dunn as he gripped the throttle.
“They’re right behind us, Billy,” said Jones.
“Dumping speed now,” said Dunn, pulling the throttle back. The bomber dropped out of the sky, causing the jets to overshoot. He pulled the trigger on the gatling as he dropped, and one of the jets caught fire under the pounding he gave it.
Wheels lowered from the undercarriage of the bomber, while the wings folded up against the Tracer’s upper body. The craft took up both lanes of the road as it raced toward its destination.
“They’re circling to line up on us again,” warned Jones.
“There’s a lake ahead,” said Dunn. “We can hide there long enough to tunnel out.”
“Right,” said Jones. “Ready to shift to air mode as soon as we have take-off speed.”
“We’re not going back into the air,” said Dunn.
A guard rail loomed ahead as the road twisted to the right, but a burst from the gatling opened a hole for Dunn to drive through. The bomber went over the edge in a shallow dive.
“Incoming,” said Jones as the Tracer lumbered for the water.
Dunn directed the outtake from the engines downward, causing his vehicle to leap into the air like a rabbit. Explosive waves rocked the Tracer as it flew through the air and landed in the lake. It sank from view, leaving behind an oil slick on the surface of the water.
“Sea mode engaged,” reported Bomber Jones as the Blue Tracer sank to the bottom of the lake. “Slick deployed.”
“We’ll wait for a while before we try to get out of here,” said Dunn, pulling off his radio helmet. “How much oxygen do we have?”
“Six hours,” reported Jones. “Then we’ll have to refill the tanks.”
“Let’s wait for two hours, then try to get back on target.”
“Right,” said Jones, setting an alarm on his wristwatch. He pulled out a book and began reading by the light from his screens.
The Tracer now almost completely silent, Dunn closed his eyes and promptly fell asleep.