Its skin was naked leather. Its wings were triangular sails of membrane. The freakishly narrow head had a miter of bone above and a beak like a saber below. The monster was tiger striped with red, yellow, purple and black; its belly was blue; yellow rings of color surrounded its staring, lidless, lizardlike eyes; a scarlet wattle dangled rakishly from its cockscomb. He was beginning to pull out of the spin. Had the plane been under control, he might have avoided the collision. The monster was diving headlong, its beak opened like scissors.
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Tailfinless, the chance thesis of a stealth craft regaining control was slim. But there might be a way. He opened the split ailerons to the full, hoping their drag would pull his wingtip back, and, in combination with the forward wing yaw, would increase the overall drag, and produce a stabilizing yawing moment. A change in the pitch of the scream of the air told him it was beginning to work. Perhaps not soon enough. He saw tumbled crags, rocks, and patches of forest fire spin past his view. But there, glinting like a silver coin, was a mountain lake. He worked the controls, uttered a two-word and probably blasphemous prayer, grinned like a maniac, yanked on the stick. Out of the crimson sky plunged a creature. Its wingspan was equal to that of his plane.
Had he blacked out for a moment? Of the maelstrom, the storm, the clouds, there was no sign. The horizon was turning in a lazy loop in the canopy windows, earth assignment and sky and earth again. The whistling in his ears told him he was in a stall, his wings at no angle to catch the air. Below him was a chain of active volcanoes. The ground was bright with burning patches of forest, and the air was black with smoke. The broken landscape rushed up to meet him. He groggily pushed the stick forward.
A blurred world of cloud and lightning tumbled past the triangular windows of the cockpit. Prestons seat automatically flattened, putting him in a prone position, and his altitude suit inflated. But the acceleration presentation was too great for his body. The edges of his vision turned black. His hand fell from the deadman switch which kept the rocket thrust roaring. In a strange, sullen silence, the pursuit plane seemed to be plunging down a spinning tunnel walled with boiling clouds and blinding stabs of lightning. Preston Lost, groaning, opened his eyes.
But those dangers were known. This was the unknown. He flung his craft toward the vortex. His ignited his rocket. Three gravities of acceleration smothered him as with a giant, invisible hand. Beams of red light from some unknown sun, dimmer than the sun he knew, splashed into the cockpit, momentarily blinding him. At the same time, the column of compressed, rushing air being sucked into the closing eye of the maelstrom picked him up like a vacuum cleaner picking up lint from a rug. The, shooting Star went into a flat spin.
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The flying disk fled into the new red beam, and grew suddenly smaller as if with distance. His detection gear went haywire. Active radar said the thing was gone; passive radar said it was present but dwindling in cross section. The pupil of the apparition began to sports close. The game was escaping.
There was no time for deliberation. He either had to ignite his rocket engine, and try to guide his craft into the narrowing ring of electrical fire and screaming winds, or he had to abandon the chase and pull up, hoping against hope that he could bring his nose up sharply. Preston Lost, in truth, was not a cautious man. He had hunted game in India, africa, and Greenland, on and under the sea. He had climbed mountains and flown experimental planes.
But it really was a maelstrom, a whirlpool. And this whirlpool, like that around a bathtub drain, let into a pipe, a tunnel. A tunnel, yes, without walls, and opening into a direction that seemed to have no place to be in three dimensional space. But still a tunnel. The thing was impossible. It was a hole in midair.
The red pupil was like a porthole, a window. A widow into where? The vapor he was seeing was flooding toward the opening. Earths sea-level airpressure was forcing atmosphere out into some region of lower pressure. The electrostatic discharge was to be expected when two masses of air at different temperatures collided. But where did the hole in midair lead? This storm had risen very suddenly, and the flying disk, levitating serenely over the dark waters off Bermuda under the moonlight, had changed course, unaffected by the rising winds, and darted down toward the gathering stormclouds. Perhaps the storm had been caused by the sudden drop of pressure?
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It was staring at him. Like a hooded lantern opening, a strange, bright, ruby beam, writing wide as a highway, spilled out from the center of the apparition and splashed across the knotted textures of surrounding cloud. Perched between the clouds was an erubescent maelstrom surrounded by streamers of bright vapor, with a tightly-wound spiral of electric discharges circling them in turn. Into the spotlight beam of red now shot the flying disk, as it jerked into yet another impossible, right-angled turn, and was yanked into acceleration even more impossible. It flew toward the vortex, directly toward the middle. The eye shaped apparition now grew wide, as if startled at the approach of the disk. Or as if opening in welcome. For suddenly fuller Preston realized what he was seeing: The resemblance to an eye was accidental. The white vaporclouds formed the sclera; the flares of saint Elmos Fire formed the iris; the red light was issuing from the pupil.
He lost sight of the flying disk amid turbulent cloud and the hellish flares of lightning. But his instruments life continued to mark the location of the fleeing quarry. The altimeter blinked a warning. Somewhere below the curtain of cloud, the wind-lashed ocean waters were waiting. Did the flying disk intend to ditch? Preston, lightheaded from his dive, wondered if he were hallucinating. For it looked like the cloud had opened a huge, red eye.
to reflect radar. She was, in fact, an aerospace plane. No ordinary jet, she was driven by a combination of ramjets and liquid-fuel rockets. She could achieve supersonic speeds and low earth orbit. Equally sophisticated was in her military-grade detection gear.
The solid sheets of rain blocked his sight. The unidentified flying object was disk-shaped, bathed in a nimbus of strange light, and changed course and speed with sudden, strange jerks of motion that defied normal laws of inertia. It moved like no aircraft and no missile known to man. The flying disk dove into black cloud. At pdf furious speed Preston dove in after, engines roaring. The winds roared louder. Preston had little fear of being spotted. The cockpit vibrated and the hull groaned.
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Or, in the days of Pangaea ultima. Wright, table of Contents so far, thus shall you think of this fleeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream. A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom, a dream. The diamond Sutra, episode 01 The hole in the air. Colonel Preston Lost did not think of himself as reckless, because he believed in preparation, proper equipment, patience in stalking the prey. But, if truth be told, he was not a cautious man. When the stormclouds parted, and he glimpsed the glowing, unearthly craft he chased through margaret the wild hurricane above the bermuda Triangle, preston Lost gritted his teeth in an odd smile, gripped the joystick, dropped the nose of the superhighspeed pursuit plane sharply down, opened the. He squinted through the small, sloped, triangular windows of his rocketplane.