In 1943 this particular A-26 rolled off the production line in Dayton Ohio, before being transferred from the Army Air Corps to the OSI. Which is how the Partisan got posession of it in the first place. By 1944 the airframe had already pulled a double ace, and went down for the first round of upgrades. The air frame was dramatically "Cleaned up", rivets polished smooth and gaps filled to create a much more slippery aircraft. By war's end it had aces twice more, sunk twelve ships, pounded tanks, derailed trains and dropped supplies to resistance fighters who were falling behind the iron curtain. Then it went into storage, but it's siblings stayed on the front line. They saw action in Korea, then Vietnam, the bay of pigs and more than twenty other regional conflicts. It's the longest continually serving air frame in history, and in terms of raw tonnage it's dropped more bombs, busted more tanks, sunk more shipping tonnage and flown more sorties than all other aircraft. Rightfully so then, most folks claim the A-26 to be America's most vital airframe until the advent of the B-1.
Fussy Gus has just finished it's second upgrade, and well it's a god damned monster. It's more than six thousand pounds lighter than when it first rolled off the assembly line, it makes more than fourteen hundred horsepower more. It's gained far more armament, bristling with a mixture of cannon, machineguns, hardpoints, antennas and sensors. It's more aerodynamic and has more sensors than most modern day ground attack aircraft, because nobody makes aircraft like this anymore. Too expensive, too scary for a mission profile which requires deniability. Gus has finally been completed, and rolled out infront of the CCU headquarters to rest silently beside the dirt runway running behind the warehouse.
As big as Fussy Gus is, it's easy to miss the attack aircraft in the dim late afternoon light. That Splintery dark jungle camo pattern works wonders, subtle and then some really. Even if it wears a stylized leaping tiger with a dagger in it's mouth, and dark red "THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS" scripted beneath. Part stands ever so casually in a neat drab flight suit, puffing away at her cigarette as she watches the cloudcover overhead. Gus has been run through a full test program already, but it's the first time she's actually let anyone see the completed airplane.
May is still practicing with the pendulum, this time asking Zatanna and Fenris to help with both communicating along the lines and travelling with 'passengers'. In the middle of said practice, Partisan sent her a message that included the name 'Fussy Gus', and May asked the other two if they'd care to accompany her. After getting the affirmatives, she uses the pendulum to locate a leyline terminus within easy walking distance of the CCU headquarters.
The trio just appear out of nowhere about fifty yards from the building, May holding a delicate chain in one hand from which dangles a dragonscale-shaped flake of carnelian on one end and a small cast-gold dragon on the other.
Fenris grins. "Ah, you're getting much, much better at that." Clear sign that she's been practicing. "All well Zee?" Wait a minute… that scent. Aaaaah. "Ah, so this is the lair of the tiger. Hello Ludie." The Old Wolf bows to the Partisan in the old world fashion. He's never been particularly for moving among the movers and shakers. He's always been toward the fringes of society, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know manners.
Smiling brightly, Zee nods to May "That was really good, Agent May." Her emerald pendulum hangs on her lift hip and she touches reflexively as she speaks. "All well, Fenris." With Jes and May being part of Primal Force, Zee is used to be transported along now. It's a nice change from having to use her own magic, and she knows it will come in handy in future.
Looking up as Fenris speaks, Zee transfers that bright smile to Partisan "Hey Ludie, were you the one who invited us?"
Partisan eyes the trio, and theres the lord wolfington "francis" himself. "I am indeed the one whom invited you, I was thinking Chicago Cheesecake and St.Louis pizza sounded pretty good. How you fancy that idea Zee?" Flicking that cigarette aside, before dropping her hands to her side as if to grasp at her skirt as she offers Fenris a particularly formal Curtsy. The sort've thing you'd expect from an aristocrat or royalty, not some random Balkan freedom fighter amirite? " Fussy Gus here needs a little break in, and only way to do that is to put raw hours on the engines so I figured a little dash for some grub might be fun."
Melinda May takes a moment to resecure the pendulum chain around her neck, using that to hide the sudden urge to bust out laughing. It's not funny because she failed to imagine Partisan curtseying. It's hysterical because the gesture came across to May as unfailingly polite and simultaneously dripping sarcasm.
Fenris is, if he's honest, a monster. He's a polite one. A very civilized one who hasn't enacted any small scale apocalypses in the last five or six hundred years. But a monster he is and he understands that this is Partisan's way of showing that she's not scared of him. Which rather than being annoying is rather refreshing. Because most people are. Well most people can't help it. He radiates scary like SHIELD radiates secrets. And most of the ones who can are scared of him for what turn out to be very sensible reasons.
"I'd love some food and a scenic flight would be rather nice." And if he needs to be anywhere honestly, he'll know. He glances to the other two, not that he expects them to refuse.
Zee watches the curtsy with a look of bewilderment, it just seems …. so out of place. "Sure. Sounds good, Ludie." Zee can teleport there anytime really "Fussy Gus? I haven't ridden in a plane like that, ever."
Partisan slips across that wing, brushing fingertips across that massive carbon composite rotor blade before dropping into the cockpit. A moment later, the access door swings down to reveal a neat little ladder. May gets shoved a checklist, before Part steps off to one side to let Zee and Fenris board. Inside it's, not nearly as Spartan as most folks would probably presume. What used to be the bomb bay is now a cabin and, well it's a nice cabin. Theres not exactly mahogany and maple, but there is polished aluminum and titanium. The windows are surprisingly big albeit they're directly under the wings. The seats are, sort've couch like but wrapped in what looks like mexican blankets. Hell theres even hammocks strung up overhead, nevermind the rack of arms situated at the rear of the cabin. "Alright saddle up, and no Zee I doubt you would've. They haven't made an A-26 since like 1945, Gus here is about as close to a new one as there will ever be. Gus here belongs to the CCU now though, so if you'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. Now c'mon you two lets get you seated and buckled up so me and May can kick him in the nuts and get this nasty fuck up and flying."
Melinda May takes the checklist without so much as a hint of complaint and gets started making sure everything is ready for the flight. She's used to the pre-flight checks on far more sophisticated birds, so she's got the checklist for Gus finished surprisingly quickly. Handing the checklist back to Partisan, she pulls her sunglasses out of a protected pocket inside her jacket. "Ready when you are."
Fenris for his part sits down and buckles in, patting the seat next to him for Zee. Flying on an airplane is actually something of a novelty for him. He hasn't done it in near 15 years. Teleporting is faster and… he gets a lot of extra security checks because people 'have a feeling' about him. It's a hassle. "This promises to be interesting. I've not either, Zee."
Watching as May starts the checklist, Zee follows Fenris into the plane and just stares. "Wow." she's impressed "Not what I was expecting to see." Taking the seat next to Fenris, who refuses a Wolf-Gods invite?, Zee buckles in. She's smiling faintly at Partisans choice of words.
Partisan awards Fenris and Zee a set've headphones with a mic, before she slips up into the cockpit and straps in. She does a quick duplicate of that checklist, before lifting a hand overhead and "Contact"Theres a pop, and a sputter and the whole plane shudders as 5400hp rumbles to life. "Alright, lets get rolling."See, how neat everyone can talk to everyone else with those neato-torpedo headsets! Partisan is fucking prepared for high level social interaction everybody!
Anywho Gus eases foreward, before swinging around to face down the airstrip. The engines roar to life as the throttles are slammed home, and well even with the brakes set the whole plane seems more than a little eager to get going. Then off come the brakes with an audible -pop-, and it roars down the dirt runway in a proper fucking hurry. Rotating early, and slipping free of it's earthly bounds in no time at all. She dips a hand to turn on her -gasp- little MP3 player, before the gear pulls in and the big bad A-26 streaks skyward at a rather aggressive angle. "Alright, We're at V3 I'm going to set us up for cruise in a little bit here. Please keep your hands and feet inside the airplane at all times, there is no flight attendant for this trip so everyone behave themselves because I will turn this bitch right around."
Melinda May settles herself into the co-pilot's seat, though there's honestly little enough for her to do. Sunglasses settled over her eyes and headset in place, she turns to look back at the passengers. "You two okay there?" Of course, she knows if either of them isn't okay, they can very easily choose to not be here anymore. Though, she figures they're both made of tough enough stuff (say THAT three times fast) to handle a little ride in a grumpy old bird of an airplane.
Fenris seems rather relaxed. Indeed he's leaned back and watching the goings on in the cockpit with some interests. "Humans always fascinate me when they get up to things like this." He tells Zee. "They conquered the ocean with oak and canvas, and the sky with wood and aluminum. To venture into something so vast as the sea or the sky or the stars with something so insignificant and tame it seems to be in your people's blood."
Settling the headphones over her ears, Zee settles back next to Fenris. Some might notice her hand gripping the seat beside her as they take off. "Perfectly fine, Agent May" and she turns her attention to Fenris "I'd prefer to conquer the stars and sea by magic… " she murmurs. One might wonder how often she's flown.
Theres a gentle roll to the left, as that climb levels out slowly just above ten thousand feet. Once the plane settles in for cruise, well it's impressively smooth but then again it was designed as a bomber originally right? "Magic is technology, the distinction between the two is artificial. I've seen enough of both over the years, but then I've got a unique point of view. I still remember the first time I saw an airplane, the first time I heard a radio, the first time I road in an automobile. The first time I saw a chemical weapon, saw British engineers tunnel beneath the castles germans built and packed them with so much explosives that it looked as if the earth itself was revolting. I remember where I was when they launched Sputnik, when we landed on the moon. I can tell you from experience, it was magic."
Melinda May says, "You think this is fascinating?" May can't help but quip. "Partisan, got any parachutes back home? Or maybe something that'll pass for a hang glider?" She's personally never been fond of jumping out of a perfectly functional plane, but she's done it, and she'll do it again if the need arises."
Fenris chuckles. He might say himself that the world he comes from is simply one where magic and technology are accepted to be one but on Asgard it doesn't fit into neat scientific disciplines. There are tides and forces in the universe that cannot be withstood, nor understood. Only accepted and navigated. "Perhaps one day you will." The god-wolf murmurs.
Zee sighs "Yes, I've heard it said that sufficiently advanced technology can appear as magic to a community. And I get it Ludie, I really do." she doesn't debate that. But her 'technology' is innate, a force of will and intent… "Possibly Fenris" Zee doesn't sound convinced. Mays comments about parachutes has her hand clenching the seat a little more firmly "If they're needed Agent May, I'm teleporting… "
Partisan thumbs over her shoulder casually "Yeah I've got silk on board May, whatever for?"Glancing back towards Zee with a wink. "We're not going to be needing any parachutes, Gus here has taken flak hits and always got me home. He sure as shit isn't going to randomly fly apart now, just relax Zee. I've probably got more flight time than you have life time, if something was going sideways I'd let you know I promise. Alright?" May gets a hint of a look, before reaching up to set the autopilot. "May you have the ship, I'm going to get up for a minute alright?"
Melinda May nods to Partisan and puts her hands on the set of controls in front of her. Though really, with the autopilot engaged, it's not at all necessary. "Partisan is right, Zee. If you don't trust the plane, trust her." Okay, that's pretty damned high praise right there. But it's the straight up truth.
Fenris glances out the window with a thought. He's not going to try it, not now but he does wonder what would happen if he applied the gale rod to this machine. Might get a fairly significant speed boost. Happened to B-29 crews during the Second World War. "Zee, are you alright?" Like May and Part he's a bit concerned.
Come on! She's 19 and a homo magi, how often do you think she's actually been in a plane? She can continent hop with a well worded teleport spell. And right now, Fenris should be very glad she can't read his mind. "I'm fine… just flying is kind of new to me. I trust Ludie and I'll trust the plane." the raven haired magi blows out a deep breath and deliberately releases her hand.
Partisan slips up from her seat, before climbing back into the cabin with a smirk. "C'mere Zee. You trust me right?"Extending a hand towards Zee. "I got more freaked out than you first time I flew, but yaknow what helped me out? Getting a better view of things, put my mind at ease once I understood what was really going on."
Melinda May keeps her eyes on the vista in front of the plane, letting the autopilot maintain control but holding her hands just the tiniest bit shy of grasping the controls. It's partly because she's always been a bit leery of autopilot controls, and partly to reassure Zee that there's a human minding the plane to protect against anything possibly going wrong.
Fenris is, for his part, incredibly fascinated with what Partisan is going to show Zee to calm her down. He glances up toward May quirks an eyebrow and then glances back at the other two. Well. This should be interesting.
Zee's calm(ish), just tense. Unbuckling her seatbelt, the young mage looks to the older mage and see's the quirked eyebrow, then takes Partisans hand. Nodding slowly, "I trust you." and May and Fenris "I didn't expect to respond like this." she nearly whispers.
"It's just new, but that's fine. You're smarter than I am, and tough as nails. You just need a little exposure thats all."and it's to the cockpit Part goes, ushering Zee down into the pilot's seat. "Now, those pedals down there are the rudders. That steers the plane left and right, and that thing in the middle is called a yoke alright? Push the yoke away from you, and the nose dips. Pull it back, and the nose comes up. Turn the yoke right, and the plane rotates to the right and so on. Now sit down, strap up and get ready to take the controls. Me and May are going to help you out here, so don't get wound up. The danger here is all in your mind, you're with the two best pilots around and in an awesome plane. Theres no mistake you -can- make here, alright? Just relax."
Okay, serious props to Partisan. This is the BEST way to calm Zatanna's nerves. And it sure as hell wouldn't work with any other aircraft. May would never even dream of trying to put Zee into the pilot's seat of a quinjet, much less the Bus. But Fussy Gus here? He's about as NOT fussy as a plane can actually get. And who knows? Maybe after this, Zee might be willing do to a little hang gliding.
It's really a good thing Fenris opted against using the gale rod to simulate a jet stream. The speed boost might have amused Partisan and May but it would have farily terrified Zee and no mistake. So instead the God-Wolf unbuckles and comes up to a place far enough behind to be out of the way and still close enough to see.
Zee hesistates as Partisan gets her to sit in the pilots seat, she's really not sure about this at all. But she relents and takes a seat and nods as Partisan explains the functions, completely silent through the process. Placing her hands on the yoke, the young magi glances at Agent May… who's not freaking out about Zee being there. That's a good start.
Sensing Fenris approaching, Zee risks a glance behind her and flashes him a rather large grin.
Theres a change of position, as Part slips into the co-pilot's seat before she too gets strapped in. "Alright, we'll start simple. Small inputs are the key, alright? Gus here started life as a bomber, so he doesn't need much help to fly straight and level."Reaching up to flip off the autopilot and…without any hands on the controls? Yeah Gus just, well flies on. Sure the plane's nose wanders too and fro lazily, but it's far from anything drastic. "Alright now gently, take the yoke into your hands and let Gus do his thing. Get a feel for things, see the sort've lazy figure eights he's weaving in? See how it feels in your hands, see how gentle the motion is? Now I want you to just a apply a tiny bit've pressure, don't try and stop anything just try and slow that weave out. Just Be gentle, Gus'll talk to you if you learn how to listen."
Melinda May steps out of Partisan's way and moves to sit in the cabin with Fenris. Knowing that the two in the pilot's compartment will hear her over the headsets, she simply gestures toward them while raising her eyebrows at Fenris as if to silently say, 'How 'bout them apples?'
Fenris shrugs in return. 'Ludie' is a different creature ever since she came back from having the wolf ripped out of her and he's still feeling her out. Zee is… well, Zee. The notion that she's scared of flying amuses him though. He wonders how she'd like May in a quinjet.
Zee's actually pretty embarrassed but is fairly good at hiding it and she follows Partisan's instructions to a tee. Well, she tries to. Of course she overcorrects the weave and then overcorrects again but eventually gets the hang of it, concentrating so fully, she forgets to speak.
Partisan sets her hands in her lap and just rides it out, Gus is far from particularly touchy at this speed anyway. "There you go, now just relax. Give the yoke a little pull and hold it, just ounces. Like lifting feathers, and hold it. Just let Gus know what you need to do, and he'll oblige. Airplanes are like any serious machine, they have a soul. Gus isn't just a rattle trap collection of bits, he has a spirit all his own and a personality. Machines are sort've like horses in that way too. Handle them nervously, and they behave nervously. Handle them confidently, and they behave confidently. So be calm, and at ease. Let gus get to know you, and he'll be calm and at ease as well. Listen to him talk, alright?"The stick doesn't need much pressure indeed, but big inputs require big muscle so it's easier than it seems in a way. "You're already flying all by yourself Zee, I'm hands off. We're just focusing on flying better."
Melinda May nods to Fenris. She's noticed the differences as well, and can't really see any reason to complain. Not necessarily an improvement, but certainly a change.
Zee relaxes into it and just follows the instructions. Finally she looks to Partisan and smiles "Thank you and I'm sorry. But if we're going to get that cheesecake that you promised us, maybe you should take over…" Too concerned to look behind, Zee remembers the headset that she's wearing "Fenris, have you ever flown a plan or perhaps a magic carpet?"
Partisan rolls her eyes before gently taking the controls and reaching up to roll the throttles foreward. "Gus shot down twenty three nazi aircraft, he blew up trains, he pummeled tanks, laid waste to infantry. He survived three fires, getting the left wing past the engine nacelle broken off, and a ramming attack. No first time flier is going to phase the old ship, you need to relax Zee. No reason you can't be better at this than I am, you're twice as clever as I am and still young."
"I've ridden a Valkyrie horse once. Does that count?" The Old Wolf chuckles. Of course Valkyrie horses are not horses. They're giant (wingless) flying wolves. Modern art always depicts the choosers with real horses for some reason. He's always found that a bit confusing.
"That counts Fenris. Those things are real?" Zee laughs at his answer "Certainly more than I have." Partisan gets an apologetic grin "Thank you Ludie, it was just what I needed." She's so used to getting around under her own steam… "Fussy Gus seems to be very nice, Ludie."
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