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Chapter 6: Blue Thunder 2 - Millennium Thunder
Written by Michael Erickson
Copyrighted Columbia Pictures, 1983 - 2002

Based on characters and events by Dan O'Bannon and Don Jackoby

Radcliff was still the same old small town as it has always been. Nothing new had changed. It was still the same area with US Army personnel. Fort Knox fell into that same category. A mixture of civilian and military people. The old army base was still famous for the gold depository. It was a small wonder as to how no one tried to break in and steal all of the precious metal in the complex. Probably because nobody would dare even try it.
Arriving at the gate to the weapons testing grounds, a very serious looking MP checked their ID cards and cleared them through down a long two-lane road that led to a remote carparking area beyond a small second checkpoint. This area was largely unpopulated and Murphy could see the back of a football stadium-like construction with stairs leading up the side to the platform. He started to anticipate the sight of a mockup town on the other side of the seating as he and Ralston followed Bowman and Richter up the stairs.
Two black Apache attack helicopters rested at idle on an open area off to the left in the distance, the crew seated inside with the windows open. Murphy wondered what they were for. Visions of Moffat stealing Airwolf in the movie of the same name flashed through his head for a moment. Perhaps they were on standby.
As he neared the top of the stairs he could see the mockup town peeking through the gaps. It all brought back memories of his experiences in the early 1980s. He could almost hear the sounds of Blue Thunder, its deep hum and shrieking fenestron whining overhead, the smell of kerosene drifting over nearby.
Once they got to the top Ralston followed Murphy in, feeling uneasy around the large number of official military personnel and government workers moving about the area. He was looking around a little nearvously and saw even the police commissioner and her staff. This was a pretty big event from what he could tell.
Murphy, Ralston and their new friends took their seats in the center of a top row. "So where is this version of Blue Thunder?" asked Frank as he scanned the horizon. Bowman checked his watch. "I expect it'll be here momentarily." He looked around the sky himself. "I should point out that part of this project has a backup aircraft, in case the primary aircraft will become unserviceable or destroyed during the major event in your home town we're interested in."
Frank looked at Bowman suspiciously. "That was not mentioned in the file you had Ralston and myself look over."
"Reasons of National Security," Bowman said in a familiar tone. You'll see this backup helicopter too in just a moment."
Ralston and Murphy both looked away from Bowman simultaneously as a deep hum rolled in over the mock up town. The sun was just losing its deep orange from rising when Murphy spotted an object to the right with sparkling horizontal lines flicking above it. "There," he pointed for Ralston, people around them taking his lead too, including Bowman and Richter.
The hum got louder and louder across the thin morning air, the sounds of cars and people walking about having ceased as the helicopter flew closer towards them. As it approached the seating areas from the right side the pilot deliberately flared the nose and slowed the craft down, going behind the area from behind. People looked around in their seats, wanting to know where it went but Murphy and Ralston were still looking off at something else, a second hum. The sounds they heard coming up behind them was softer, at a different frequency to this one that had been there all the time, then came the shriek.
A second helicopter approached from the side and followed the tracks of the first, the shriek building and changing pitch as the doppler effect kicked in. While people were noticing this second louder helicopter with its loud shriek, the first one had slowly hovered in from the left and faced side on to the seated spectators.
A senior black helmeted military police soldier stood up on a platform in front of the hovering helicopter, its low-pitch hum vibrating around him and coming over the speakers from the microphone he held in his hand. Murphy and Ralston watched as the second helicopter hovered in at a slightly higher altitude side on, parallel with the first, and behind it. They both hung in the air before them, softly wobbling in the moderate wind.
Murphy had goosebumps down the back of his neck as he saw what can only be described as the resurrection of the original Blue Thunder helicopter hanging loudly behind this much more modern looking machine. Both had modifications done to build in powerplant changes, weapons and surveillance equipment. Murphy noticed the "01" painted on the older original machine.
The officer on the platform pointed a stick at the helicopters floating before him. "Well, ladies and gentleman," he started. "Welcome to the latest concept in police airborne technology." He went on to describe the various features and specifications of the new helicopter dubbed "Special Two" and Murphy was surprised at what they had squeezed into the thing. He saw that it was based on an EC-130B4 helicopter and been modified substantially to give it a higher cruise speed, better lifting capability and longer range. The officer explained that the mockup town consisted of black cars and red dummies to indicate hostile threats in an urban environment, as well as white dummies and white cars for civilians.
To Murphy's dissapointment, the demonstration officer did not go into detail about the older helicopter, other than to say that it was kept as a backup and for non-priority tasks. Even though the newer helicopter excited him, he had sentimental value attached to the older one. He had flown it against the Government, against the air force, against an old war buddy turned enemy. He could see that this machine had a few different things about it.
"Now let's watch," the officer ended the instroduction, "and see the lady strut her stuff."
The newer helicopter pushed over and past the spectators, going back behind them out of view. Murphy watched as Blue Thunder "01" peeled off left, out over the mockup town, and heading down into the area where the Apaches were resting. He watched as it settled down but remained idling too. He was curious as to what was planned for everyone's viewing.
Murphy and Ralston listened for the newer helicopter with quiet technology and only had a few seconds notice before they pinpointed it was coming up behind them at high speed from behind, flashed over them, and dropped down into the mockup town, coming around in a tight turn and slapping its blades to slow down and bring its weapons to bear on a cluster of black cars and dummies. Its nose-mounted minigun opened up in a blaze of shooting bullets. The nozzle moved around as it attacked several targets from one position, turning on the spot in a tight orbit and taking out several cars and at least 15 black dummies in under twenty seconds. It then pushed its tail high and blasted out at full power, roaming into a nearby group of rocky mounds.
Murphy was left terribly impressed. He was well aware of what sort of systems this new chopper must have, but the flying maneuvers that had been performed were much more smoother than he remembered from 1983. The amount of stability and automation such an urban-situated police helicopter could benefit from was large.
He turned to Ralston, who was left sweeping his eyes over the smoking remainders of the black objects that were ripped to pieces, his mouth open. "Same kind of demonstration that I came to in 1983, kid," he said. Ralston turned to him, unable to say much. "I wonder how many white dummies will get blown up this time." Ralston looked confused by his last comment and Murphy told him not to worry about it.
Richter noticed the reaction of Ralston and smiled in a smug kind of way. "That firepower you just witnessed would only be used in a case of a major terrorist attack or extreme emergency threat. It's pretty comforting to know that people can be protected by such a safeguard."
"Unless you had someone misuse it for other purposes," Ralston stated, looking back at Murphy, who smiled at him. "What's with the older Blue Thunder?"
Bowman cut in: "It's the original design that Frank would be familiar with, with several major remanufactured elements along with upgraded computer and weapon systems, in particular, ultrasonic weaponry."
"Ultrasonic?" asked Frank with raised eyebrows, clearly surprised.
"Used at low level to stun and incapacitate," Richter explained, matter-of-factly.
"Right... sound weapons on this one," Murphy indicated his understanding but had to say, "You couldn't modify that loud old design, get rid of that shrieking whine?"
Richter gave a little chuckle and Bowman answered that one. "As you may know, Frank, the design on the old choppers doesn't allow for easy changes when it comes to something inherent to the older technology. We wanted to keep the costs of the project down and still have a backup aircraft, so we took the first THOR helicopter, put in cheaper, newer internals, and gave it a few enhancements."
Murphy gave his words a thought for a few seconds before asking something he really wanted to know. "Is this why the helicopter I flew was marked as number two?"
Bowman answered yes, explaining that when Murphy stole the helicopter marked "02", "01" was being taken apart for modifications in another state at the time. It had been in storage all this time until the past two years.
The men stopped discussing things when they heard the new helicopter approaching, its low frequency hum growing louder before it shot over them at high speed again, this time turning onto its side in the opposite direction and opening fire in short bursts on selective single black targets scattered in front of it, before climbing up over and taking a slow cruise over some buildings to find more targets. It came down around and hit the black dummies hiding under inside a building. A black car moved out from a garage in the building and the new helicopter released a missile at it, slowing it down to a stopped, flaming wreck. As it smoked away into the blades of the helicopter, the pilot blasted away at some more black dummies, taking out a few white ones nearby.
Frank immediately said, "Ohhhhhh, geez," just waiting for it. Ralston looked to see why and noticed the dummies.
"I see what you mean now." Ralston watched on as the helicopter orbited the area, smoke and fumes floating up and being thrown around by its blades. He held his chin in thought as he watched the scene. "My god..."
"This has all been very impressive," started the officer, his words echoing around the mockup town. "But not much use if you have to surgically remove a threat and keep the damage to the minimum." He gauged his audience's reaction as some of them showed a small nod in agreement, and continued on: "Watch this next car very closely..."
Ralston intently watched the car while Murphy sighed, having seen this bit all before. The helicopter was slowly moving nearby, its pilot wondering why a white car was moving. He watched it and turned his head as a red dummy sprung up next to the dummy civilian driver, pushing the cyclic over towards it. He came down low and almost touched the ground with his skids as the minigun shot out the tires but kept moving in closer. The pilot lifted the chopper up over the car, came around the other side in a spin, flicked a switch, turning his minigun into a single-barrel pistol and fired a single shot into the car, causing the dummy to be knocked over.
"As you can see, ladies and gentleman, the pilot has removed the threat from the car without touching the other dummies." The officer watched as his audience was impressed, looking fro him back to the chopper. "Now, that is precision flying combined with precision firepower."
The chopper lifted out of the area, orbited and came in from the left side to land on a clearing where Murphy had expected it to land. The senior MP officer offered for everyone to come in and take a closer look. Everyone stood up and started making their way down. As Murphy negotiated his way down the busy stairwell, he watched as Blue Thunder 01 came down further back behind and to the side of the new helicopter, its shriek whining over the now-sunlit area. Both the choppers shut down and used their rotor brakes.
Murphy kept his eye on the pilots getting out of both machines. He was surprised to see two get out of Blue Thunder 01. The two from the older machine stayed with their helicopter while the crowd grew around the newer machine. Ralston got right in and listened to the systems and equipment being explained. Murphy held back and decided to check out the older machine, feeling the nostalgia biting him in his mind. He walked over and the two crewmen shifted on their feet.
"Can I help you, sir?" one of them asked him. The other one was looking at him, as if recognizing him.
"I just came to check out this machine of yours."
The other crewman said something: "You're Frank Murphy, aren't you?"
"Yes... do I know you?" he responded.
"No, but I flew as cameraman in a Squirrel above your chase with the police in 1983, down under the bridges in L.A." He spoke with an edge of admiration. "That was some pretty gutsy stuff you did."
Murphy instantly worked out who was pilot and who was observer here. He went a little shy, not wanting to discuss it. "Yeah, well kid, I'm sure you've had some fun in this machine. It sure feels odd standing here next to it."
The first crewman who spoke to him spoke again: "That's right, and we're sure not going to let you get your hands on it. This machine is not open for display. You should go over there," he pointed towards the crowd and the newer helicopter, "with your friends."
Murphy didn't want to say anything. His should have fought his urge to see the old machine and kept away from it. He was tired of what had happened with THOR. He nodded and silently walked off toward the crowd.
Ralston came walking out, taking Frank's arm. "Frank...... Frank!" Ralston was like a kid at a fair. "Frank, this thing is amazing. It has upgraded transmissions for the hot-and-high turbine it has, laser weapons, 170 knot cruise speed.. blows our Jetrangers to dust!"
"I'm sure it's all very wonderful, Michael," understood Frank. He walked with Ralston towards the new machine. He looked back at the modified Gazelle that is Blue Thunder 01 and Ralston noticed.
"You taking a trip down memory lane back there, hey?"
Frank breathed in and responded: "Yeah," he said thoughtfully. "Seeing it there brings back a lot of things. Seeing the two crew, reminded me of Richard and myself when we flew it." The thought of Richard made him feel upset for a moment and he tried to shake it off and listen to the senior MP officer explaining the various cockpit items found in the new helicopter as they stood by the nose. The MP had plugged himself onto the hailer speaker on the helicopter via headset and Murphy and Ralston could hear him fine while looking at him through the front plexiglass.
"A lot of controversy is going to be surrounding this when it goes out over our town," spoke Ralston, giving some projected thought to this new machine before them. Murphy nodded and pretended to enjoy the rest of the day he spent there.
The pilot stood on the other side of the helicopter with his hands behind his back, holding his flying gloves. He watched Murphy through the plexiglass.

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1. Blue Thunder 2 - Millennium Thunder
2. Blue Thunder 2 - Millennium Thunder
3. Blue Thunder 2 - Millennium Thunder
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