A/N: This is a repost of a story I did a while ago, about how Blaze and the Wardog squad dealt with Chopper's death in November City. Although I wasn't going to go back on this, this story was pretty well received the first time, so I changed my mind. Basically, I fixed the grammar around and added more to my original writing with additional points and details.

Shed Feathers

It was raining. It had been for some time. The sky was gray and murky, almost entirely blocking out any sunlight, while the rain continued to come down like tears from Heaven. Though this wasn't exactly ideal weather for flying, it was fitting nonetheless. Cap... Er, Lieutenant Colonel Alvin "Chopper" Davenport (as per his presumptuous two rank promotion) was dead, killed no more than a few days ago on what was supposed to be a ceremonial flight.

Captain Daniel "Blaze" Knight, the commander of the 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron, better known as Wardog Squadron, remembered how that day began. It had all started as a day honored to his squadron for their part in the war between Yuktobania and Osea, where Wardog Squadron would do a ceremonial display flight over November City's Jackson Stadium before the Vice President's speech to the people. Though it wasn't really a significant mission, it had been a while since Blaze and the rest of his squadmates had flown free without having to kill anything or dogfight. The flight started out with a series of climbs and descents, then a four point roll over the stadium, a four-man Split-S and then one last pass over the stadium. Then Vice President Appelrouth gave his speech, attempting to rally the people to the war effort, but failing. That's when Blaze's worst fear came true: a fighter wing of Yuktobanian fighters somehow bypassed the air defense line and made their way into the city. Their target though, wasn't the stadium. Sure, there was a squadron of F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters that attacked the stadium, but the primary focus was his squadron.

At first, Wardog managed to handle the fight themselves, but wave after wave came into the city and eventually Blaze and his wingmates were growing tired from constant dogfighting. Thunderhead, the AWACS monitoring the battle, called for reinforcements, and it seemed like Wardog would hold out for the time until they arrived. But it seemed like fate had different ideas.

8492... Blaze thought bitterly. The squadron that didn't exist. That was the designation of the squadron that supposedly attacked a Yuktobanian engineering college sometime ago, and then disappeared without a trace. According to fighter command, there was no such squadron as the 8492nd, but Daniel knew better. This time, the apparent squad commander (he assumed) broadcasted a message that claimed the stadium battle was a drill to mobilize squadrons, and that the drill ended so everyone could return to base. That message alone was enough to convince the reinforcements to return to their bases, leaving only a four man squadron of F-14 Tomcats to battle with a swarm of Yuke fighters.

Exhaustion caught up with his squadron and they all began to lag down. Though they kept the stadium from being attacked, they all took damage. Chopper took the blunt of the attacks, as his plane left a trail of smoke from its damaged second afterburner. That little detail attracted fighters on him like sharks going after blood, and he was all but ripped apart. Even so, he stayed in the air as long as he could, to the point where he couldn't fight anymore. There was no way he could make it back to Sand Island or any other air force base, and there were residential areas under him so he couldn't just ditch the plane. Thus, he made for the stadium.

Despite the pleas of the other three members and Thunderhead, Chopper couldn't eject from his aircraft due to electrical problems, and so he went down with his plane. However, it wasn't last-minute bad luck that he couldn't eject. The way Chopper was acting to the end, it was obvious he knew he was going to die from the start, but he hung in there as long as he could to take pressure off the rest of Wardog and keep the fighters from attacking the stadium. Even when the time came for it, Chopper showed no fear of death, and just went with it, laughing at his own dumb luck. After he went down, something in Blaze and the others died with Chopper. Blaze didn't know what it was, but when it was gone, all he felt was rage. The last thing he remembered was his words to the rest of the squadron, when Thunderhead reported another wave.

"Kei... Hans..."

"Blaze...?"

"Captain...?"

"Wipe them out. All of them."

At that point, everything turned into a vertigo. He could only remember specific points, but he knew he wanted blood, and he didn't care what he did for it. According to Thunderhead, he was doing maneuvers that should have caused him to black out or caused his plane to rip apart. As well, Blaze remembered at that point he had run out of missiles, so he used his M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon to shoot down the enemy planes, and according to Thunderhead, he managed to down twelve planes with the cannon alone before reinforcements showed up. There were similar results with his other wingmen, Captain Kei "Edge" Nagase and 2nd Lieutenant Hans "Archer" Grimm (who had become an officer in order to remain a pilot). Even after the battle ended, it took sometime for the adrenaline to die down and the urge to kill more and more Yukes to vanish. Blaze couldn't remember ever having so much bloodlust.

That was all two days ago, and now here Blaze and the others were, back on Sand Island's Pilot Lounge, waiting to see their friend's last will and testament. His tears had long since been shed, and for the moment, he felt nothing except grief and anger. Nagase was sitting by him, holding his hand in her lap, physically reassuring him that it would be okay. For some reason, she had grown closer to Blaze after Chopper's death, seemingly concentrated on trying to keep him level. Grimm was on the other side of the room, sitting next to 2nd Lieutenant Peter Beagle, or "Pops", the chief technician of Sand Island, as well as Albert Genette, a freelance reporter that had been covering the "Four Wings of Sand Island" since the start of the war.

There were two other people in the room, a twenty-six year old woman with brown hair and hazel eyes and a little girl with similar features. These were two people that Blaze had only recently met and grown somewhat close to. Margaret Davenport, Chopper's wife who was sitting on the other side of the room, and their six year old daughter Elaine, who was sitting in her mother's lap. No one knew Chopper had a wife and daughter, although really he was the oldest member of the squadron at 29 years, so it did make sense. Blaze had personally delivered the news of Chopper's death to the two, and it still pained him to this day for doing it, even if it was for the best. Margaret was the first one to cry, and thankfully she didn't spite Blaze for being the messenger, since her husband wrote good things about "Kid". Elaine on the other hand, didn't cry until the funeral. She was too young to understand the concept of death, so it didn't strike her until she saw her father being buried at the cemetery. That's when she asked her mother why her dad was being buried, to which her mother couldn't explain. She started to tear up when realizing her father wasn't coming back, but she said that this wasn't right, that her dad was supposed to come home after he was done flying. Elaine continued to wail at why they were burying him, to the point Margaret had to hold her. Seeing Elaine cry alone made all of the hatred that Blaze felt toward the warmongering politicians, the 8492nd and the war in general surface like lava in a volcano. The only thing keeping him from making a scene was Nagase's hand around his, gripping tightly.

Still, despite everything that happened, Elaine had taken a liking to Blaze, who like her father, referred to as "Kid" and treated like a friend of the family rather than a Captain in the Osean Air Defense Force. She was fairly upbeat like most children her age, with her father's black hair and blue eyes combined with her mother's face. Blaze found her presence comforting at least, especially in this dismal time. For now though, Elaine was calm and reserved, adding to the silence in the room.

That's when Colonel Orson Perrault and Captain Allen Hamilton entered the room, Hamilton holding a video tape under his left arm. Perrault was still a little hunched over from an earlier meeting with the Wardog members, and he was rather cautious when entering the room, especially around Grimm and Blaze. "Alright, my sentiments to Mrs. Davenport's loss, everybody knows why they're here." Perrault began, not wanting to waste time on something so trivial as a will reading, "We will now watch Lieutenant Colonel Davenport's will."

With that said, Hamilton placed the tape in the TV at the end of the lounge and pressed play. The TV at first displayed Chopper's quarters, with nobody standing in front of the camera. "Oh yeah, now it works! Cheap piece of... I knew I should have gotten Genette to do this." said Chopper as he walked around the camera.

A small smile formed on Blaze's face. Even in a will reading, he gripes over the small things. he thought.

"Testing, testing, one, two, three..." Chopper said, then starting, "To the people watching this, if you are anyone other than my squadronmates, my wife Margaret or my daughter Elaine, then I will haunt you for all eternity if you continue. Press the stop button unless you are one or all of the said people." There was a pause for a moment, along with a collective of shocked expressions. Blaze tried to contain his laughter while Nagase just shook her head smiling. Pops and Grimm both raised eyebrows to the tape, as did Hamilton. Perrault was confused at what Chopper was implying, so he looked around the room as if looking for an explanation. Margaret herself seemed to tear and smile at the sight of her husband's 'off key' threat, and Elaine actually giggled a little bit, like Chopper had just told her a joke.

"Still playing? Alright, I'll have to trust you. If you guys are watching this, then that means I'm dead, most likely shot down in a dogfight. Wierd, isn't it? Anyway, as the video lable reads, this is my final will and testament to my friends and family. I'll start with my family..." Chopper's expression turned serious at that moment, more serious than Blaze had ever seen him, "Margaret, I'm really sorry I have to talk to you two like this, and I would give anything to have come home, but it looks like fate had other plans. When we started dating in High School, I thought I was the luckiest man in the world. When we got married, I knew I was the luckiest man in the world, but when we had Elaine... I didn't think it was possible, but I got luckier. I know I've complained a lot about this war, but you and Elaine were the best reasons I could think of to keep fighting, much more than what the politicians claim. I'm glad you've stuck with me until death did us part, and I will always love you even from Heaven.

"Elaine, I know I said after the war was over I'd come home, but as I told your mother, it looks like things aren't really going as planned..."

"Daddy..." Blaze heard Elaine mutter.

Chopper smiled, as if responding, "But don't worry, as long as you remember me, I won't be dead, and I'll definitely be watching over my number one girl. I do have one request from you: take care of your mother. She's a little temperamental, but she means well." he said, laughing.

"Damn you Alvin." Margaret whispered, tears threatening to overcome her. Despite holding them back, she could not stop her smile from growing.

"I want you to look out for your Mom and protect her, especially from the guys that will try to pick her up. You may still be little, but that doesn't mean you aren't a force to be reckoned with." Chopper picked an object off camera, which was a Pepsi can, and displayed it to the camera. "Here's to you Elaine." he lifted the can and took a drink, bottoms up. He swallowed the soda and put the can back off camera. "Should anything happen to you two, I have left a bank account for you to cover yourselves with. I don't know what the current date is, but as of the filming of this video, the account should have about $500,000 Osean dollars, money I've saved since I first knew how the banking system worked. When it started out, I just used the money to buy rock and roll tracks, but when you came along Elaine, I was going to save the money for your college tuition. Now though, I want you to save it for emergencies, because knowing how the military works, I'm not sure if they'll cover for you entirely..." he said.

"With that all said and done, I get down to my personal effects. Everything I own goes to my family except the following items..." he pulled a piece of paper off screen and read it off, "Pops, I don't know how I got shot down, but it's definitely not due to your maintenance work. You're too wise for it, much wiser than the average mechanic. I guess it comes from your past profession..." Chopper said, as if knowing something about Pops everyone else didn't, "Anyway, when I first got to this island, you were the first one I really got to know. My first impression of you was a 'know-it-all' old fart that hung out with Bartlett, but you're more than that. Your knowledge of flying is impeccable, if I said the word right, as is your treatment to your fellow men. For that Pops, I leave you my dog Kirk." he explained, "I know Kirk's an old family friend, but I think he's come to love Sand Island too much, and he generally hangs out with you nowadays. Take care of him, and make sure to drop by my house on occasion so he can play with Elaine."

Pops nodded to the tape, smiling at Chopper. I'll take good care of him, Captain. Good luck up there.

"Genette, assuming you can put up with my crappy directing skills on this video, I'm going to leave you my photo album. It contains pictures I've collected over the years, mostly of rock bands that I've gotten autographed. They're very valuable, probably around $1000 or more overall, especially with that shot of Queen I got that's been rated for $517.89 in Osean currency. Besides that, there are other pictures I've taken in my free time. I'm not as good of a shot as you are, but I think you'll appreciate them." he winked, giving off a mischievous grin.

Genette didn't know what he was referring to, but he knew he'd find it out later. Like Pops, he two began to smile.

"Grimm, my man..." his eyes narrowed, "You never told me who taught you the other half of what you know. Not that I don't have my assumptions, but that's not the point. I have to tell you Grimm, it feels like you've grown ever since you joined the squadron. You started out as some kid mechanic and have become an ace fighter pilot, and much more, a great human being. I don't care what anyone says about you, you have mad skills in the air and as a tech, dude, you just need to think of yourself better. For you man, I leave you this..."

He reached off camera again and pulled out a large wrench, which looked big enough to tighten bolts on a tank, "If you're wondering where I got this from, allow me to explain. This was my father's lucky wrench. He played lead guitar for a band called 'Juggernaut' that toured around Osea, back when everything was peaceful. That's generally how I got into rock and roll, as you can guess, but besides playing guitar, my dad was also the group mechanic. He used this wrench to fix anything from amplifiers to the tour bus, and it's never failed him once. He gave it to me just before I joined the Air Force, but obviously, I'm not a mechanic. You on the other hand, are. It should be big enough to use on aircraft bolts, so I think you can find a good use for it..."

Grimm's mouth gaped open. He must really think I'm something if he's leaving me that. He thought. Captain Chopper was definately going to be missed.

"Now, for the third person, this may surprise some of you, but I have something to leave for Lieutenant Snow of the Naval Air Force (A/N: This is based on Snow being referred to as Taiiin the Japanese game, which is the equivalent of a Navy Lieutenant or an Air Force Captain). I doubt he's watching this right now, probably out at sea, flying that F-14 of his and doing 'manly' things only sailors can do." Chopper exclaimed, flexing his arms up and deepening his voice at the mention of 'manly', "I've only met him a few times, but as far as I'm concerned, the guy has potential as a rock and roll fan. We spent a good three hours during his last visit to Sand Island talking about bands of various kinds and such, so that makes him cool in my book. I leave him two tickets to the next 'Face of the Coin' tour, which should be next Summer. I got them for being the 100th caller on K-DST's 'Name that tune' contest." he explained, "Assuming mail can be delivered to the Kestrel, please send these to him and tell him they're my blessings."

"Now onto our squadron's Executive Officer: Captain Kei Nagase. One piece of advice babe, relax a little." Chopper said.

Nagase raised a confused eyebrow.

"You take this job way too seriously. I know you still blame yourself for Captain Bartlett getting shot down, and no matter what I tell you, you will probably still blame yourself, but don't let it bog you down. Take me for instance; I lived my life to the fullest when I was alive. I have no regrets, assuming I got to tell Thunderhead to shut up and do something grotesque with his voice receiver." he laughed at that, "I guess my point is, you weren't programmed to be the stereotype military officer Nagase, none of us were. You have your own will, your own life, so live for yourself." he continued, "That aside, I leave you this..." he pulled another object off camera, this one a book with a curious logo on it. It appeared to be a human wearing a black helmet of some kind, over a gray shield emblem that was outlined in red. The cover for the book was hard, and colored void black. However, the book wasn't brand new, as there were some tears around the cover. "This is a storybook on the Tale of Razgriz, over a hundred years old. My mother used to read it to me as a bed time story, and I've read it to Elaine on occasion. I know this is a family heirloom, but I want you to have it. It might not be as special to you as the book you have, but at least keep it for me so you can remember. Maybe someday, you can read it to your own children."

Nagase didn't show any expression, she was fighting inside to keep herself from crying. No Chopper, your book is special to me more than you think. If it's the only thing I can remember you by, then I'll die sooner than give that up...

"And now, ladies and germs, madams and monsuiers, I go down to the last person on my list. It's your turn Kid." Chopper smirked, "That's right, Danny-boy, I'm going to keep calling you Kid from the grave, none of this Captain bullcrap. And if you forget the sound of my voice, then Elaine will stick up for me, so get used to it." his expression turned to semi-serious, "That being said, I want to let you know: I've been really lucky to get a CO like you. I know you don't think of yourself as a worthy commander for Razgriz, even with your high rank and reputation, but that's not the point. Thanks to your battlefield smarts, we turned a four man training squadron into the deadliest force in Osea. Through your guidance, we've survived everything Yuktobania threw at us, and even though I'm dead now, if it weren't for you, Nagase, Hans and many more would be dead too...

"But that's not the main point to why I respect you. You're not like that geezer Perrault or that stiff Hamilton, who are probably watching right now. Tough luck boys, you were never big on my list." Hamilton didn't respond, but Perrault just scoffed. Even from the grave, the insolent Davenport continued to make fun of him. "You Blaze were like a brother to me. We trained together under the same man, started off in the same squadron and generally grew up together in these last few monthes or years. I don't know the date, so bear with me. As well, we both share the same liking for rock and roll." he reached back and pressed play on a stereo behind him, playing "Blurry" by Puddle of Mudd at low volume. "I remember the first time I met you, I was listening to an iPod in the pilot's lounge and you asked me what song I was playing. I told you it was this song, and though you didn't recognize the band, you liked the song. From there, I took you under my wing and introduced you to all the great rock and roll bands of the past and present. Thus, you get perhaps my most valuable possession, just under my wife and kid." Chopper said. "My rock and roll records."

"I don't believe it." Grimm let out in shock.

Nagase's reaction was similar, and even Blaze couldn't contain his amazement. He looked over at Margaret and Elaine, who were both smiling at him, congratulating him.

"You're probably wondering why I'd give my most valuable possession to someone outside my family. Relax Danny-boy, you earned it. Besides, Margaret is more of a jazz fan, and Elaine is starting to get into K-Pop." Chopper said. K-Pop referred to a music genre from the island country of Kyoto, generally a mix between techno and regular pop music. "I don't think they'd keep my stuff in good condition, so you get it." he smiled, relaxing a little on the camera, "Everything else, as said before, either goes to my family or charity... And that should be all guys. By now, I should be in Heaven, asking God random questions like 'why we're here', 'why are we fighting each other' and 'why do hotdog companies put out packs of eight weenies and twelve buns and expect the public to give into capitalist demands'..."

That time, Blaze actually let out a laugh, "I thought he'd figure it out by now..." he explained to the rest.

"I wish all of you the best of luck, and hope God ends the war sooner than later for the rest of you. Take care, everybody." he said, waving off. He then reached toward the camera and pressed a switch on the side, stopping the video feed.