The sky use to belong to him. Well him, and the jets, passenger planes, various powered armors, but mostly him. So few others had the range to call themselves true masters of the sky. They couldn’t fly very far, or very high, most flyers were Cessna’s to his F-16.
Of course he could fly circles around an F-16, they just weren’t maneuverable enough. None of that matter really, it was just a metaphor. Besides he wasn’t a master of the sky any longer, he hadn’t been for the last eighteen years. Because eighteen years ago he had met her.
He had called her the SR-71 to his F-16. The name hadn’t stuck, and another was chosen for a couple of weeks Nightingale had been the most talked about super in the world. Mostly because no one knew quite what to make of her. Eventually the Mal Meg fairies showed up, claimed her, even followed the name theme.
He had never given much thought to the rest of the fairies. They weren’t important, sure they could all fly, but they didn’t have mastery of the sky, not like he did, not like Nightingale. As far as he knew she had never landed, to her the sky was home, even more so than it was for him.
The GPS on his arm blinked, indicating he was reaching his destination. In the old days he had used a compass, and would occasionally ask for directions from bemused farmers. Out here over the Atlantic farmers were hard to come by, fortunately a good GPS wasn’t. He still had two backups just in case, violating the wrong countries airspace lead to all sorts of annoying phone calls, paper work, and interviews from people in suits.
Out here no one had jurisdiction. Actually Atlantis had jurisdiction of anything under the water, above it not so much. He was getting close, the farthest point from all landmasses as you could get in the atlantic. This was the place most common to find her. So he angled upward to break through the cloud cover.
The water permeated the outer layer of his suit, but didn’t get through the insulated layer. At these speeds he didn’t need to worry about water on his full face acrylic mask, but it had been treated to become super hydrophobic for lower speeds.
He saw her holding maybe two hundred meters above the clouds, so he angled for an intercept course. She looked the same as she had the very first day he had seen her, in that same spot, utterly majestic.
She had four pairs of major wings, and two more pairs of minor ones. Of the major wings only two of them were attached to her body. They came from the center of her back, and were maybe two meters in length. Covered in luxurious black feathers. The next pair of major wings were not attached to her back, they hovered slightly over it. Set slightly farther back then her first pair of major wings, they were also a meter longer. The next two pairs of major wings followed the pattern, making them tiered, each a meter longer than the last. Making her wingspan ten meters in total.
Her minor wings were cosmetic, consisting of a single long feather each. They sprouted off from the center of her back, one pair from the shoulder blades, the other pair from just above her hips. The feathers covered her in such a way that her picture could go on the front of magazines, without being censored. She didn’t wear clothes, but he suspected that might be more of a practical thing than a fashion choice. At her higher recorded speeds he doubted anything she wore would remain on. His flight suit certainly couldn’t survive those speeds.
As he got closer he ramped up his speed, approaching the sound barrier, but not quite hitting it, aiming for the middle of her back. She took notice as at the last possible moment she did a backflip, and taped him on the head as he passed underneath her. She started flying in the opposite direction to him as he bled of speed in a tight circle, to start following in pursuit.
It didn’t take long in turning around for him to reach the sound barrier. It was always odd, just on the cusp of it, everything went silent. After breaking it he started gaining on her, she seemed to like that silent point in speed. She didn’t stay there.
As soon as he was maybe three centimeters from her wingtips she started accelerating. He couldn’t hope to keep up with her of course, she had once broken the sound barrier from motionless is one point four seven seconds. She wasn’t however trying today, as she matched his acceleration perfectly. Those three centimeters stayed constant as he tried to reach out, and touch the black feathers.
A light on his GPS indicated that he had just reached Mach two, when she turned. At lower speeds he was more maneuverable than she was. Theoretically he was still more maneuverable, at these speeds. In practice however she was far more though than him, and could survive a deceleration that would be lethal. Lethal for pretty much anyone else on the planet.
Some scientist theorized that she could screw with inertia, to slow down that quickly. That wasn’t right, he had seen her do it too many times, she could just handle it. A quick look at his GPS indicated that they had arrived over Antarctica. This is were things would truly get started. He could never catch her at speeds, or out in the open, and she knew it.
So instead she would lead him somewhere unpopulated empty, and it would become his battlefield. She descended slightly faster than he could, and took off only meters above the ground. He angled for intercept but came up short forcing him to follow her. This close to the ground she couldn’t hope to hit her top speeds, without hitting anything, especially with her wingspan. He knew she would be pissed at herself if she did.
So the games began, her zigzagging across the tundra, him following, nipping at her heels. He couldn’t quite keep track of time, but the GPS did a good job of it. It took him four hours, as they were spiraling up the side of a mountain. He switched direction, and caught her head on. She dodged just a milliliter too slow, as his fingertip brushed her longest feather.
“Tag you’re it.”
It took her five minutes to catch him, before they headed to Rome for ice-cream.