Categories > Cartoons > G.I. Joe > G. I. Joe - Protocol Fifteen

G. I. Joe - Protocol Fifteen

by Wolfman769 1 review

The mysterious crash of a prototype G. I. Joe jet fighter reveals to the team the presence of a new threat - a Super Hacker who can wage war across the globe's networks, and one against whom even t...

Category: G.I. Joe - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-fi - Characters: Baroness, Beach Head, Cobra Commander, Destro, Duke, Flint, Hawk, Lady Jaye, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Other - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2005-09-18 - Updated: 2005-09-18 - 2804 words

G. I. Joe: Protocol Fifteen

Author: "Wolfman Six"

Posted: Wherever I say it can go, no place else.


This is a work of fan fiction. Many of the characters are owned under copyrights by Hasbro International, Marvel Comics Group, or Devil's Due Publishing. Although this work is derivative, it is written without permission of the original copyright holders. No profit is being derived from this work, and infringement of existing copyrights for material gain is not intended.

Any names mentioned in this work are not meant to represent a specific person, living or dead, except for historical references. Any other mentions are coincidental.


Chapter One

Wispy white clouds drifted across the warm, summer sky, as the sun hung high in its daily arc of travel over the American state of California. The radiated heat of the glowing yellow ball of fire in the sky gently warmed the sprawling California cities and towns below, especially pleasing the throngs of summer beach goers who frequently laid themselves out under the rays of the sun for hours on end.

Above all the crowds of sun worshippers, roller skaters and bicyclists moving along the Pacific Coast Highway, a twin-engine, sleek and stealthy jet aircraft was being put through its paces. Dubbed the "Switchblade", the secret project aircraft was being designed for the G. I. Joe Team to replace a number of off-the-shelf systems that the force was operating against their terrorist enemies, the Cobra organization.

Cruising over the San Diego - Pacific Test Range, a military-controlled section of airspace, the Switchblade fighter was a variable geometry modification of the workhorse F/A-18 E Super Hornet, capable of heavy bomb loads in normal mode, and high Mach speeds when its new composite wings were swept back. At the controls of the potent fighter, two veteran Joes were busy putting the unique fighter through its paces.

"How does she feel from the cheap seat, Crypto?" Major Brad "Ace" Armbruster asked of the Naval Intelligence specialist riding in the copilot's seat, Lieutenant Kurt "Crypto" Hoppe.

"So far, so good, Ace," Crypto replied, shifting in his seat and adjusting the straps of his ejection seat. "Are we supposed to engage the test targets next?"

"That's affirmative," Ace said. "Our slice of sky is supposed to be clean until the TRACOR test drones from Miramar jump us."

"Well, then maybe we've got our friends," the lieutenant reported. "I have four bogeys to our northeast, coming at us on an intercept course."

"Okay," Ace said. "Shut down our active sensors and make sure the radio is secured. We're supposed to play this like we're deep in Cobra territory."

"Roger that Ace," Crypto replied, pulling a black shroud over the radar scope to help keep the sun's glare off the digital screen. His hands danced along the switches while the radar emitters and radio transponders aboard the plane shut down. "We're going EMCON Black now. I'm recording the bogeys' positions, bearings and speeds, before we lose the returns. Let's see if this new passive tracking system works like the engineers boasted."

"Give me the BRASH," Ace said, his eyes following the HUD datums as the Switchblade rolled into a reciprocal intercept course to meet the unidentified planes.

"Bearing zero-four-five, range fifty miles, flight level is one-two-zero. Bogeys are rolling toward us at about a thousand knots closure, and pointed right for our nose, directly southwest."

"Okay, we'll go head-to-head with 'em and try to identify at a half mile. Hang onto your shorts, Lieutenant."

The Switchblade closed the gap between its position and the unknown planes' approach quickly, while Ace swept the wings back and increased the rate of closure. Within fifteen minutes of Crypto calling out course corrections from the passive sensors, and Ace throttling to the maximum authorized engine power for the tests, four shapes began to materialize at the maximum visibility range for the day.

"Tally-ho," Ace said. "I have four bogeys left and below, at our ten o'clock. That damn passive sensor has been working, despite the engineers' complaints that it wasn't ready."

"Tally-ho, roger that," Crypto replied. "The simulated weapons are armed on the rails, and the missile launch tracker is zeroed in. Let's smoke us a few robot planes."

"I'm turning in to get an eyeball on 'em," Ace said, rolling the Switchblade into a hard left banking turn to pass over the formation of bogeys and get onto their tails. "They look like F-4E Phantom fighters."

"Day-Glo panels on the tail and wings?" Crypto asked.

"Yeah. And I see some sort of tail code."

"Must be the TRACOR drones from Miramar," Crypto said, watching the synthetic aperture scanner draw an image of the approaching aircraft as a series of gray-green shapes against a light background. "I'm setting the track-while-scan. Your Master Arm switch is on, and the safeties are off. You may select weapons at any time."

"Weapons going hot," Ace said, checking the indicator bulbs on his armaments panel as the Switchblade's missile racks and 20mm General Electric chain gun came on line.

"All weapons green," Crypto said. "I'm getting a read on the drone controllers' signal frequencies. Do you wanna play dirty and just kill the control inputs?"

"Hey," Ace said. "We're supposed to put this flying rust bucket through its paces and actually try to fight it out with these Phantoms. If they fall out of the sky like lead ducks, they're hardly a simulation of Cobra combat tactics."

"That depends on who you ask," Crypto said with a chuckle. "All the flying snakes I've come across have turned into lawn darts."

"No time for war stories, Lieutenant," Ace replied. "I'm turning into attack. The bandits are breaking into an evasive pattern."

"Roger that," Crypto said, scrawling notes onto his kneeboard as he watched the displays, gauges and test programs running into a special PDA that was rigged into the avionics computers for the flight tests.

He spoke a bit more slowly for the benefit of the flight recorder, which was taping the cockpit chatter while the fighter was under radio silence. "Black boxes and test programs are tracking the engagement. Tally-ho, Tally-ho. Switchblade Zero is engaging four drone targets over exercise area Cross Rip Five Zulu Alfa. Ace has the controls."

"Let's dance," Ace whispered, his eyes darting back and forth while he followed the four TRACOR QF-4E Phantom drone fighters. Their pilots, despite being safely on the ground in a TACS trailer, were all former Aggressors under Ace's command before the fast jet driver joined the Joes. The drone operators had volunteered to a man, to go up against their old squadron leader for the test engagement.

Breaking into pairs, the Phantoms split off to the left and right, each pair also changing altitude in a classic four-ship tactical maneuver. Ace selected his first target, and angled the Switchblade down toward the diving drones. The Switchblade gained speed, as its wings swept to the rear.

"Passive trackers are locked, Ace," Crypto reported. "You're looking good for the kill."

Ace saw a small pipper dot and a circular reticle following the first Phantom, as the targeting computer drew a vector between Ace's fixed gunsight in the HUD and the target, which stretched and shrunk as Ace lined himself up to fire.

"This is definitely one of my old Aggressor buddies," the veteran fighter jock exclaimed. "The drone flies like Dead Stick, my old wingman. I know that sonufabitch's flying skills anywhere. He's probably laughing his ass off in the TACS trailer, that I haven't smoked his little robot plane yet."

"Engagement time hack, twenty seconds," Crypto said, for the flight recorder.

"Don't remind me," Ace said. "You're making me feel old. I smoked Dead Stick in eight seconds during a one-on-one in F-5's. He owed me a year's worth of beers over it."

With a jerk of the control stick, Ace drew the nose of the Switchblade across the path of the Phantom and triggered the nose gun. He bracketed the Phantom in a hail of practice rounds, hitting it enough times for the smoke pots to ignite and the drone to switch over to self-recovery mode.

"Yahoo! That's a kill!" Ace said gleefully, smiling broadly under his oxygen mask. "Dead Stick is still a slouch compared to me! Even when I'm old enough to fly a wheelchair!"

"Good shooting, Ace," Crypto said. "The high boys are swinging around. Check your six, buddy."

"No problemo," Ace said. His thumb trigger clicked off a brace of flares and chaff, while he rolled the Switchblade violently into a turn and raked the second Phantom with his cannon. More smoke pots shot clouds of black chemical obscurants into the air, and the second Phantom spiraled out of the engagement zone.

"Splash two," Crypto said, checking his tally. "The others are coming into the sweet spot. They have position and speed on you."

As Ace processed Crypto's words, a series of red LED's blinked on his control panel. Almost like Crypto knew they were coming, his voice came back on the intercom.

"Radar warning! The Phantoms are lighting us up for a Sparrow shot!"

"I know," Ace said. "I can smell 'em back there. Even over your cheap Navy Exchange after shave."

"Engaging track jamming system," Crypto said, as he fired up the experimental Pave Shadow ECCM stealth system, which could discern and counter the latest track-while-scan radar systems. "The bandits are starting to jink. Looks like we spoiled their clean missile shot, and the drivers are closing for guns."

"I could kiss the designer of that Pave Shadow," Ace chided, pulling the Switchblade into a ballistic vertical climb and engaging maximum afterburners. "We're playing NASA, Lieutenant. Hang on to your whiz bag!"

The black-coated Switchblade climbed rapidly, at over two thousand feet per minute, clawing its way up out of the reach of the Phantom drones. When the QF-4's fell away beneath the fighter's tail cones, Ace wheeled the jet around in a parabolic turn, putting the Switchblade into a ten-G positive dive.

"Jesus!" Crypto swore in between rushed breaths, feeling the G-forces pressing him back into the cushioned ejection seat. "Don't... forget... this tub... can take... more than we can..."

"Let's just test that theory," Ace said, pointing the nose of the fighter right between the remaining QF-4's, which were orbiting in formation, following a level turn while the operators tried to reacquire the Switchblade.

Ace aimed the new fighter right between the drone ships, leaving only inches to spare. The rush of disturbed air from the Switchblade's supersonic dive blasted the Phantoms, tossing them about like rag dolls before the self-recovery programs kicked in. As the two Vietnam-era test drones limped back to base, they popped their smoke pots in simulated protest at being "killed" without firing a shot.

"That makes all four!" Crypto reported. "Let's go toss back a cold one after debrief!"

"Sounds good," Ace replied, steadying his descent over the crashing Pacific surf and making a victory roll, screaming about five hundred feet over the heads of a few thousand beach bunnies. "We could even go comfort all the girls I just freaked out on the beach!"

Crypto looked behind the airplane and laughed. "I think you blew the bikinis off a few of them, Ace. We'd better not go back to check out your handiwork. The cops or a mob might be waiting for you."


A few minutes later...

Both Joes were all business on the way back to their assigned landing strip at Tustin Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Station. Formerly a full-fledged Marine Corps air base, the Tustin MCAS was slowly being realigned, while major aerospace plants started obtaining land grants to set up shops and test hangars on the older facility.

"I'm downloading the last GPS waypoint before we try the automated landing system," Crypto said, punching a few keys on the MFD keypad in between his legs. "Once you line us up on the Tustin glide slope, we'll fire up the auto-landing system and see how this tub augers in."

"Hey, don't make fun," Ace said, reaching between his thighs to find the emergency ejection handle for his zero-zero ACES III-NG seat. "I'm gonna have one hand on the stick and the other on my chicken handle."

"Just report in to the auxiliary tower, Major," Crypto replied, his eyes watching the ILS glide slope indicators on his HUD and matching them up with his own view of the red and white airfield VFR landing guides.

"Switchblade Zero to Tustin Auxiliary Control. Request flight test termination and immediate clearance to land. Ready to engage ALS computer controls."

"Tustin Auxiliary Control to Switchblade Zero," the young Marine Corps Reserve controller radioed from the field's tower. "We have you on radar and transponder. Please squawk fifty-five-fifty-five on your IFF and get dirty for landing. We'll cue you for the ALS run-in."

"Switchblade Zero, roger that," Ace replied, flipping down the landing gear switch and smiling when all three gear indicators flashed red and then green. "Gear down and locked. Dropping flaps to four notches. We're at one hundred ninety five knots indicated airspeed."

"Roger, Zero," the tower replied, as engineers from the design firm that built the ALS computer looked on. "Engage Auto-Landing System."

"Time to put my ass under the care of a handful of refined sand," Ace grumbled.

"Shut up, Major," Crypto whispered, flipping the "ALS GO" switch on his control panel.

The Switchblade shuddered for a second, as the triply redundant flight computers calibrated to take control of the aircraft from Ace's trim settings. The computers quickly adjusted all of the flight surfaces, causing the fighter to rock as the ALS acquired the ultra low frequency landing guide signals at Tustin, and its own GPS navigation program.

"Is this normal?" Ace shouted over his shoulder, "to be shaken around like a cheap milkshake?"

"I dunno," Crypto replied, activating his helmet microphone with his chin. "Switchblade Zero to Tustin. We're getting a lot of vibration here. What's the story?"

"Computers are taking over," a systems engineer's voice replied in place of the Tustin controller. "It's the first time the auto-calibration system is getting data from the aircraft's other systems. You can dial down the adjustments if you wish."

"Oh no," Ace said sarcastically, "I just love the level of pucker factor right where it is. My guts are already thanking you with a load of lead puke."

"Very funny," the engineer said dryly.

"Oh, shit," Crypto mumbled, interrupting something scientific that the engineer wanted to transmit.

"What?" Ace asked, his eyes darting about as the aircraft's vibrations increased a hundredfold.

"ALS is down," Crypto reported. "Air-to-ground radios have just fried... or something. I'm losing my panels back here!"

"God damn it!" Ace swore, grabbing his control stick with one hand and trying to throttle up to level the fighter and slow its descent. "The fuckin' stick is handling like a lead balloon!"

"Pneudraulics are out," Crypto added. "Flight computers, too. Nav is gone. All the analog backup gauges are dropping to zero. It's like some sonufabitch just flicked the "off" switch for the whole bird!"

"Punch out!" Ace shouted over the wail of air rushing past the Switchblade's bubble canopy. "I can't level her out! We're going in nose down!"

Both men instinctively reached for their chicken handles, the ejection actuators between their legs on Air Force-designed airplanes. Right before Crypto pulled his, he jerked the small PDA that was recording the test's events from its mounting, not caring whether the wire and cardbus interface came with it or not.

At roughly an altitude of a thousand feet, already inside the Tustin base perimeter, Crypto and Ace punched out of the Switchblade, rocketing away from the stricken aircraft as it fell. Their chutes opened far above the resulting white-hot explosion that incinerated the dying fighter as it plowed nose first into the concrete-paved main runway.

Dangling below their parachutes, Ace and Crypto descended slowly to earth, as the Tustin base fire department rolled toward the smoldering shell of the Switchblade, their sirens blaring. Led by an olive green Oshkosh crash rescue vehicle, the fire equipment began to spray volumes of retardant foam while men in protective suits deployed to search the wreckage for the aircraft's avionics and black box.

Crypto landed first, about five hundred meters from the smoking crater that the Switchblade left in the wake of its crash. As he gathered his chute, Ace dropped in next to him.

"What a way to start the morning," the veteran Joe fighter pilot remarked, grinning behind the oxygen mask that hung loosely from his helmet.

"The day has just begun," Crypto groaned, watching the flurry of activity around the crash, while an ambulance turned in their direction. "Nobody's gonna be happy about this one."

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