|The Aces of Razgriz
Author: Zorro118 PM
Becoming a pilot was a dream for Antonio "Blaze" Castillo ever since he was young, and then it became an obsession when his father died during a mysterious attack on an air show when he was eight. With his goal of becoming a pilot completed, Antonio must fight a war that no one saw coming while fighting to keep his humanity and other dark secrets intact.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Blaze & K. Nagase - Chapters: 19 - Words: 155,800 - Reviews: 32 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 05-19-13 - Published: 12-19-12 - id: 8811075
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Aces of Razgriz
Prologue: My name is Antonio "Blaze" Castillo
I couldn't believe what was happening. I could do nothing but cry as I watch that plane release his bombs on the spectator stands where my parents were. Everything just seemed to slow down as I collapsed on my knees staring at the flames that engulfed all those people. I looked up to see the pilot circle low overhead. I couldn't see his face because of his helmet and oxygen mask, but I could see his eyes. Those piercing, green, smiling eyes… I'll never forget that day
"Antonio? Antonio, are you okay," asked my mother.
I was sitting across the table from her in the dining room. It was the first time I got to see her in the past year since I left for flight school.
"Yeah, I was just wondering if you were going to make it to my graduation," I said softly." Lt. Colonel Harkin said he'd try to get you in as a V.I.P," I said with a slight grin.
"I might be extremely awkward for an MGySgt to be mixed in with a bunch of young Lieutenants," she said cautiously.
"I don't think you have to be in uniform," I said as I held her hand. She put her other hand on mine and leaned in closer to me and told me that my dad would be proud and that he still loved me no matter where he was. I'd like to think God had taken my dad from me for a reason. Part of me thinks it was because he didn't do a good job as a father. Another part of me thinks it was because he wanted my dad to pay for the people he killed in the war fifteen years ago. Thoughts like this crossed my mind all the time; there was a reason for everything. I looked at the clock on the stove and I noticed that my flight back to Heierlark Air Force Base would leave in a couple of hours.
As I was saying my final good-byes to my mom, Lt. Colonel Harkin came by to take me to the airport.
"You ready to go kid," said Harkin. I hated it when he called me kid.
"Ready when you are, sir" I replied
I liked Harkin, not just because he was like another father to me, but he was a Mustanger, an enlisted military person who later becomes an officer. He knows how much officers, fresh out of college, like to abuse their authority over the enlisted. Harkin was the kind of guy who knew when to crack the whip and knew when to let things slide. He taught me how to look out for myself and without his and my mom's support, there was no way I could've gotten to where I was.
"Well Antonio, You're in the home stretch of reaching your dream," said Harkin.
"Well I'm just glad I'm almost done with this, sir," He hated it when anyone called him sir or saluted him, but I did it just out of respect for him.
The flight back to Heierlark was peaceful for the most part. I prefer first class on civilian airlines, but this was the military after all. We did get our benefits, but they weren't as good as they used to be after president Harling made the cuts in our countries defense budget. Our military wasn't a military anymore, it was reduced to nothing more than a defense force. I really didn't mind it as long as it didn't keep me from flying. It was the main reason I joined the Marines. My mom, dad, and uncle served, but they didn't get to do anything I was able to do. Even after all the injuries she suffered, I was surprised that she still stayed in.
Heierlark Base, September 16, 2010
We landed at Heierlark, unloaded our luggage, and headed back to our rooms. I saw some familiar faces, but it wasn't like I knew any of them. Everyone on the base knew me as the quiet guy who never smiled. I was quiet because I was shy, and I never smiled because nothing ever got done with me walking around grinning like an idiot.
"Hey, Castillo," I turned to see who it was. It was my crew chief, Master Sergeant Russell. "I need you to come to the hanger and help me tune your plane for your hop tomorrow."
"Already?" I asked I've been off leave for less than fifteen minutes and it's already straight to business. I figured they'd at least settle in and get use to everything.
"Yeah already, you're leave time is over which means you've had enough time to relax," he said
Along the way I ran into Kei Nagase. She was another nugget on the base that was just as quiet as I was. The only difference was that she smiled more than me.
"Hey Blaze," she said softly with a slight smile.
"Hey Edge. Nice to see you again," I replied with a return smile.
I've only flew with Kei twice since we arrived a Heierlark. Both times we managed to out fly our instructors. Scuttlebutt, or rumor around the base, says that she and I were the top nuggets on the base. Maybe that's why we didn't fly together as often. I pondered this while I was helping Russell. According to everyone, Edge and I flew like we had over two hundred hours in the air, which is over twice as much as what an average nugget would have by the time he graduates.
My reason was because I found my love for flying at a very young. I would later play a lot of flight simulator video games and watch movies about pilots flying in wars. In 1995, I would follow the mercenary pilot, Cipher and his wing man, Solo Wing Pixy. I remember the stories my dad would tell me about him when my dad was lucky enough to get the Galm team to provide CAS, or close air support. Cipher sounded like he wouldn't be a match for Mobius one, but no one would be able to ever test that because Cipher disappeared after the war.
Heierlark Base, September 17, 2010
I taxied my F-5 onto the runway and waited for takeoff clearance. I had to wait for Major Pesi to get into position. This exercise's objective for me was to adapt to a situation where I would be caught off guard. I would be going up alone and I had to be ready for anything.
"Blaze you are clear for takeoff, good hunting"
"Roger that tower"
I pushed the throttle lever all the way forward and I rocketed forward. I slowly gained altitude and headed for the AO, or area of operations. I was there in a matter of minutes, and waited.
"Alright Major, I'm here," I said over the Radio
"Roger that Blaze. We're commencing the exercise now,"
I knew Major Pesi wouldn't attack right away. That would make it to easy. He would have to plan his attack carefully. He would wait for me to get into a position that would best help his element of surprise.
I circled the area above the cloud deck, which was around seven thousand feet, for several minutes waiting for the major to make his move. I kept my eyes fixed mostly toward the sun and on my six o'clock, but I tried to keep my head more on a swivel.
"Major, if you don't do something soon then, I'll have to come after you"
"Blaze I swear if you think I'm gonna fall for that then you got another thing coming"
"Major, I'm serious. You gave me all this time to think about where you might be and I narrowed it down to where you are,"
"Well then I guess it's time for me to make my move because here I come"
As soon as he said that I could see him at my seven o'clock high. He was diving on me with his F-5 out of the sun. Just as I thought, I can avoid him easily. I snapped the stick to the left while applying full left rudder and I watched his plane streak past me. He gunned his engines and tried to make a run for it. I was in perfect position for a missile lock and pounced. I felt my heart race as I gave my plane full throttle and stuck to the major's plane. I was closing in on the major and I was closing in on downing the toughest instructor at Heierlark.
I had a missile lock, but then it couldn't help but remember what I read in an autobiography of a pilot who flew in the Belkan War 15 years ago. I remembered that he wrote that the one plane that's going to get you is the one you don't see.
I looked over my left shoulder and sure enough I saw another F-5 closing in on me. Who was he flying with? He was close enough for a missile lock but I wasn't being locked onto. He was going to use his guns to get me if I shot down the major. I couldn't help but wonder why he didn't just shoot me down. I thought he'd like the thrill of the chase.
We were still going full throttle and I knew what I had to do, I had to deal with this new threat. I cut the throttle, pulled my air brakes, and rolled over my pursuer. Suddenly, I was on his tail in perfect position for a kill and I took it. His plane was out of action and I only had to deal with the major now. But where did he go? I lost him while his wingman distracted me from him.
I was scanning the sky vigorously trying to find him, but I still couldn't see him. I had to think; how would I use a distraction like that? It only took me less than a minute to get rid of his wingman and we were below the cloud deck. I would've used tried to lose my attacker by climbing into the clouds. I climbed to gain altitude and get a better view of the area. I couldn't see anything.
"Come on Major, where are you hiding?" I said
"You already got me Blaze," he said in an extremely annoyed voice
Wait, I already bagged Major Pesi? If that was the case then I was looking for his wingman. Who was he? Did a new instructor rotate into Heierlark when I was on leave? It didn't matter anymore. All I have to do is adapt to the situation. I had to find the major's wingman. I had to get him or else I would fail the exercise.
I continued circling at eight thousand feet. My eyes were everywhere looking for him. Suddenly I caught sight of a glint to my eleven o'clock.
"I see you, you son of a gun," I thought as I opened the throttle
I saw his plane circle towards me and come at me head on. We were closing the gap between us which didn't give me enough time to get missile lock or for me to get my guns to bear on him. I had to break off, but if I did then I would be an easy chase for him. I had to keep going. I could only imagine that he was thinking the same thing because I didn't see any hesitation in the way he flew towards me. If this pilot was thinking like me then we were both going to be sent home in body bags.
We continued to speed towards each other. That's when I saw it. He rolled to the right just enough to avoid hitting me. I rolled my plane over as we passed each other and did a split-S to gain speed which I would use to attack him from below. As I pulled my plane out of the dive, I saw him circle back and dive towards me. He wasn't going to let me get an angle on him that easily. We passed each other again and we both turned towards each other again. We were trying to gain the advantage over each other by performing the scissors maneuver.
We were bleeding off air speed too fast and one of use was about to stall. I wouldn't let it be me. We kept it up until I felt my plane shudder. He was going to get me. I would fail my adaptation exercise to this guy. I looked over at his plane to see him gaining speed, which was huge mistake. He was going to make a run which put me right on his tail.
"I got you now," I said to myself as I gave chase. He tried twisting and turning to try and shake me but I had already sank my teeth into him and I wasn't about to let go. He then put his plane into a descending spiral. He was turning too hard for a missile to track him and I couldn't pull my plane's nose up anymore to get my guns on him. But he didn't know that.
I wasn't in a good position to use my guns, but I fired them any ways. I was hoping it would scare him into messing up again. My guns roared to life as the flames of the fake rounds obscured my view. I guess he saw that I was shooting and he broke off into a climb.
As he climbed, I was able to get a missile lock on him. There was no way he could get out of this one. I pressed the missile launch button and the simulation ended. The average dogfight lasts about four to five minutes, but this dogfight lasted ten minute. I wanted to know who this guy was.
I didn't notice how much I was sweating until I made it back to Heierlark. I parked my plane outside the hanger and waited for Major Pesi's wingman. He landed and parked his plane next to mine. He shut off the engines and popped the canopy and he took off his helmet. Only it wasn't a he, it was a she. It was Kei Nagase.
Kei seemed just as surprised to see me as I was to see her. I couldn't believe that the best pilot I've flown against so far was her. I had to know what she thought about my flying, but before I could even approach her, Major Pesi came storming over towards her.
"Blaze, get the hell out of here before I kick your ass to the other side of the runway," shouted Major Pesi.
"Yes, Sir," I said. As I headed towards the locker room, I could hear the major shouting at Kei. I turned around to look back and saw Kei just standing there with her head down while Pesi was shouting at her. I could've sworn I saw her body shaking like she was sobbing. I don't know why the major was shouting at her but I don't think it was a good enough reason.
Later that day
I had just gotten done eating in the mess hall and I was headed back to my dorm when I was passing by Kei's room. The door was half way opened and I could hear the faint sound of crying coming from inside. I knew she didn't talk much but I felt like I had to do something. We were all nuggets trying to reach the same goal.
"Kei," I asked as I entered her room. I looked to my right and I could see her sitting on the floor with her arms resting on her knees with her head down.
"Hey, what's wrong," I asked with a softly.
"Nothing, just please, go away"
Normally I would've left but I couldn't just leave her in this emotional wreck of hers. I had to think of something. I looked on the desk in from of her bed and saw a book called, A Blue Dove for the Princess. I walked over and held it in my hands.
"Put that down," she said glaring at me. I might be able to talk to her finally.
"I remember this book. I remember how the bird was hurt and how the princess nursed it back to health and how the dove did the same for her when she got sick,"
The glare seemed to disappear from her face as I told her that. I walked over to her still holding the book and sat down next to her.
"I remember my mom telling me that the moral of the story is that there is always someone you could depend on, no matter how big or small they are," I continued. "But there are times when you have to find that strength in yourself to keep going."
Kei took the book from my hands, wiped the tears from her eyes, and opened it. The pages were missing and I could see her hand writing on the pages. I saw her smile just a little bit and I knew that I was able to get through to her.
"I must've read this book over a million times. Some of the pages are missing because it's that worn. My dad read it to me all the time when I was younger," Kei said. "This is the only thing that I have left of him."
I needed to distract her from the thought of her dad or else she might end up like she was before I started talking to her.
"Sounds like he was your blue dove," I said
"He was, but now that he's gone I have to carry on by myself"
"No you don't. Being alone is a choice. I can see it in your eyes that you want your dove back," I said standing up and holding out my hand to her. "Your blue dove is out there somewhere and you're someone's princess. You just have to give it time."
She took my hand and got up. Just then, we were called to the base commander's office. We walked together, both of us wondering what he was going to lecture us about. I always got nervous around top brass because I could never predict what they wanted to tell me. My hands were shaking as I reached for the base commander's office door. Kei put her hand on mine to try and calm me down, which it did. We stood at attention until he put us at ease, then he began to speak.
"As you no doubt have guessed by now, everyone's morale on this base has reached an all-time low. The other nuggets want to wash out because they feel like they can't keep up with everyone else and when I mean everyone else I mean the instructors and you two. Now I can't have that happening because the OADF needs more pilots, but we can't make them stay. So now I'm left with no other option,"
I couldn't help but think that he was going to discharge us, even though he couldn't legally do that so I braced myself for what he was going to say.
"I'm transferring you two to the 108th tactical fighter group at Sand Island AFB. I'm sure the head instructor can give you two a better challenge than Major Pesi could've given you. Both of you leave tomorrow afternoon alright?"
"Yes, sir" I said as the commander dismissed us. I was pissed because I had just gotten back, yet I was glad because I could finally get away from all the hard ass instructors. I spent the rest of the day repacking my duffle bag and all of my other personal belongings.
I went to check on Kei when I was done. Her bags were already packed and she lying in her bed listening to her music. I wanted to talk to her more but I couldn't really think of anything to say. I was turning to leave her alone when I noticed Master Sergeant Russell standing behind me, which startled me a bit.
"You know she likes you, right" he said
"You're crazy. Besides how would you know," I asked
"Because I've only seen her smile when you're around," he said and he walked off