A dramatic advance in stealth technology. Second in SugarCube's Random Contest Wk 3 July.
|A Stealthy Tale
With a steely eye, General Motus regarded the scientists hovering around him. "This better be good, guys," he said, "I'm missing an important meeting at the Pentagon to be here."
"You're gonna love this, General," said Professor Floyd. "This is the big breakthrough we've been looking for, the most important advance in stealth technology ever."
The General seemed unimpressed. "Well, we'll see, Professor. Let's get the show started, shall we?"
They were standing on a small hillock surrounded by a desert landscape of sand, rock and scrub. In the distance a small convoy of trucks and jeeps had stopped in a cleared area and soldiers were busying themselves with preparations, setting up contraptions and hauling equipment from the vehicles. The General watched for a while and then muttered, "Taking too long. Won't get a chance to set things up like this in a real battle."
"Oh no, General," said Professor Floyd, "Those are just our measurement and recording devices. The actual technology needs no setting up at all. And I think they're ready now, sir."
He took a whistle from his pocket and blew a long, piercing blast on it. All activity by the vehicles ceased at the same moment. For several minutes there seemed to be nothing happening at all and the General shifted impatiently.
"What's going on, Professor? Are you going to start this demonstration or are we just here to get a sun tan?"
Floyd shook his head. "It's been running for five minutes, sir. The attack force should be about halfway here by now."
The General looked at him. "Halfway here? Halfway from where?"
"From the start point, General. They set out from the vehicles when I blew the whistle."
There was silence for a moment as the General considered this information. Then his expression hardened and his eyes narrowed. "Is this some kinda joke, Floyd? I've seen nothing happening since you blew that damn thing."
The Professor smiled. "Well, that's the point, sir. It's stealth technology; you're not supposed to see anything."
"Listen, Floyd," growled the General, "If you're trying to pull some sorta Emperor's New Clothes trick, I'll see you get no more funding for any project, ever."
The Professor met his gaze with confidence. "Okay, sir, watch this." He turned to the empty space before them. Cupping his hands to his mouth to form a megaphone, he shouted, "Lieutenant Anderson. Show yourself."
Out on the flat ground before them, a man suddenly appeared, dressed entirely in black and crouching in a strange attitude. One arm was extended in front of his body and the other waved at the watchers. The General took a step backwards in surprise. "What the...? Where the hell did he come from?"
"Stealth technology," grinned the Professor. He turned and shouted to the man again. "Okay, Lieutenant, carry on." The dark figure on the plain stopped waving, extended his arm before his body and vanished almost instantaneously.
General Motus shook his head as though he could not believe his eyes. "How the hell did you do that, Floyd? Are you beaming some sort of hologram toward us?"
The professor laughed. "No, General, this is real. There are eight soldiers creeping toward us right now and we can't see any of them. A few more minutes and you'll be able to reach out and touch them."
There was silence for a while as the General and his entourage fixed their attention on the empty desert, their eyes flicking left and right as they tried to see the approaching soldiers. The sun beat down on the group and sweat trickled unnoticed down their faces as they concentrated. Yet they saw nothing, no movement and not even a shadowy hint or vague suggestion of life.
Suddenly eight figures in black coalesced a few feet in front of the group. All were in the act of rising from a crouched position and they came to attention and saluted the General. As one, they barked, "Attack force in position, objective achieved, sah!"
General Motus stood open-mouthed, unable to speak in his shock and surprise. It was Professor Floyd who had to step forward and dismiss the men. "Okay, Lieutenant, good job and thanks a lot. You can get back to your vehicles now."
The soldiers saluted again and turned to walk back to their starting point. They were now quite visible and Floyd watched them go, a smile of triumph on his face.
At last, the General found himself able to speak. "That, Floyd, was the most impressive demonstration I've ever seen."
The Professor swung round to face him. "Thank you, sir. I knew you'd like it."
"But how the hell does it work?" asked the General. "Those guys were completely invisible out there."
"Ah," said Floyd, "That's something we haven't figured out yet. All we know is that it does work. As you saw for yourself."
General Motus looked puzzled. "So you don't know the principles involved? How did you know how to get it working then?"
"Bit of a story behind that," replied Floyd. "I'm a bike rider, you see, got myself a nice big Harley, and about six months ago got a bit smashed up by some idiot in a car. I was lying by the road all bruised and battered and the guy comes up and looks down at me. It was when he spoke that I got the idea. He said, 'Sorry, pal, I didn't see you...'"
Word Count: 908