I sent a diagnosis request to all of my components. It didn't take long for them to reply that everything is working within acceptable parameters. I relay this information to my pilot.
Although, he kept telling me to call him "Master" for some asinine reason.
No human was my master. I was a state-of-the-art military aircraft. I was fully aware of my surroundings, thanks to the plethora of sensors attached to my sleek body. Since I was still experimental, and today's flight was one of many test flights, my missile bays were empty and my machine guns were depleted. However, all of my other systems were running smoothly, even after almost 300 flights.
My attention snapped back to my pilot as he made what I assumed was a dirty joke about him 'riding' me. If I had lungs I would have sighed and if I had eyes I would have rolled them.
"At times like these I am glad I am not programmed to appreciate humor."
I was, however, programmed to recognize laughter.
[All systems go. Cleared for takeoff]
I acknowledged the message from the control tower and relayed this to my pilot. His demeanor instantly changed to serious. If there was one thing I like about him, it is that he knew when to stop joking around. Others in the base had voiced their opinions of him, and most portrayed him as very likeable, although the break room food replicator often complained on the weirdness of his taste in ice cream. Apparently, one does not usually mix mint flavor ice cream with peanut butter.
I took a final scan around me, noting wind speed and air flow patterns. As per my pilot's instructions, we began to taxi towards the runway.
I continued taking scans of the environment. Take-off and landing were two of the three dangerous parts of this flight, with the third being the flying itself. I was experimental, after all.
Not long after, I found myself at the start of the runway. Scanning ahead, I sensed nothing but open air with a slight breeze. The weather was clear, though I did register some clouds in the high atmosphere.
If I had a heart, I imagined that it would be beating as hard as my pilot's.
We accelerated across the runway and lifted off smoothly. All instruments were in working order, returning excellent readings on everything around us. The air pressure gauges reported consistent reading throughout my body. Gyroscopes told us that we were flying level. Air speed gauges determined that my thrust is optimal.
I even allowed myself to confess to my pilot: "The wind feels good on my flaps."
It had taken me a while to understand that his pats on my instruments panel were terms of endearment. This time, they were no different.
We flew around the base for two laps before he told me to start with the scheduled tests.
"Confirming test scenario."
Today's test was simple: go up to 23,000ft, then descend to and level at 5,000ft as fast and as steep as I can. Essentially, I was to test how good I can cope with such powerful forces on my frame.
"Test scenario confirmed. We are ready to start the test, Captain."
I was excited, and my pilot knew why. None of my friends have flown that high, save for my twin sister. Being experimental crafts, my sister and I usually had the opportunity to try new stunts before any of the others.
I started to climb slowly. The test only specified that I descend in a steep slope, so I'm taking this first leg casually.
My external thermometer reported lower-than-usual temperatures, but still within my operational range. As hard coded into my programming, I relayed this unusual reading to my pilot, but I continued climbing.
He expressed his concern, but I assured him that I was alright.
Nearing 15,000 feet and climbing slowly, I allowed myself to notice little things that my sub-processor would have filtered. It was extremely quiet up here, aside from my own engines. The air was extremely clean. There was nothing but cloud and sky for miles on all directions.
"Flying is liberating."
My pilot inquired on my sudden observation. I explained that my fellow crafts and I have determined this a little over a year before, after comparing experiences with other military vehicles.
"Tanks may be durable and submarines can scour the deep oceans, but nothing beats flying."
His laughter and approval of my observation were enough to cause a skip in my black box recording, but his affectionate brushing of my instruments panel made me momentarily lose control of my thrusters. It was only for a split second; no human would have noticed it unless they watch my black box very carefully.
I tried to rationalize what happened.
"Please keep your hands where they belong, Captain."
He laughed again.
Alas, it was cut short.
The last measurement I could reasonably trust was that we were at 17,000ft. After that, none of the other readings made sense. We were so high up but my air speed gauge is saying that we're much lower. The thrusters immediately tried to compensate by increasing thrust, while the flaps moved to raise the nose. But then the rest of the instruments gave conflicting readings on how fast we were going, how high we were, even our orientation in the sky.
I sounded the alarm, but it was too late. My processors were overwhelmed with conflicting readings. Different parts of my body seemed to be in different heights, thousands of feet apart. I could not determine to what I should set my thrusters, how should I position my flaps, where I should face my rudder, nothing.
My pilot was screaming orders for me to ignore certain instruments, but I could not obey. Those instruments are vital to my flight controls. I needed them to fly myself. I could not disengage those instruments.
But, I also needed my pilot.
I managed to hear his apology before the cockpit was flooded with rushing air.
He had ejected.
"Captain...I cannot...fly on my own..."
"Captain...I..do not want...to die..."