Disclaimer: I don't own A88.

The Eternal Power of a Sidewinder

You pay to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You pay for ammo, fuel, and repairs. If you can't fly you can't get paid, but if you can't pay you can't fly. On Area 88 as long as you can pay for it, you can buy anything from a deck of cards to a fighter jet, and freedom is no exception. But between three meals a day and enough Atoll to knock them out of the sky, who could ever afford the ticket off the train?

Kazama Shin didn't ask to come to Area 88, the hell that was never cloudy but always rained debris, but once he was in he learned just like every gun-for-hire that there was no getting out. Deserters weren't spared to tell the tale. But even after becoming the ace, every pull of the trigger was a reminder that he was $60,000 dollars closer to a helicopter out, and that that MiG had had one last glimpse of the always-blue sky. If the blood was visible from the sky, like blood rising through water, he imagined the sand would be dyed as red at noon as it was at sunset. Shin didn't like to think that even rebels had families too.

In every cockpit of a dying engine, tail smoking thick tarrish black plumes and combustion imminent, in each isolated, individual hell there are screams and shouts, different names on every pair of lips, from men afraid of the swift return to the ground. Thoughts of sisters, mothers, daughters, and lovers are framed like pictured in the minds of the men whose bodies they never find, a last image of peace and a cry for help, change, home, rain, another chance. This was the frontlines of the sky.