Chapter One: Firehawk

The lazy mid-afternoon sunshine beat down on San Pedro. The fighting had been going on for three days straight and without the noise that had resounded through the city for the whole duration of it, the place seemed eerily quiet. Struggling to keep consciousness, Sergeant Dan Mitchell noticed this and laughed to himself. He found it funny that even now while he could barely breath, he noticed such things. Pushing onwards he resisted the temptation to give in to gravity and collapse onto the extremely inviting tarmac of the road. Once more he tried the cross-com.

"This is Ghost leader three can anyone hear me?" As a reply all he got was static and background distortion. Separated from his team, he would have to keep going North east to where he thought the JSF lines would be. What had happened to the cross-com and why had the fighting stopped? Had they won? Had they lost? He was completely blind to what was going on in the greater battle without the cross-com but for some reason it refused to work. His visor picked up movement to his right and he immediately turned to face it bringing his XM8 to bear. Alert and ready to open up at the faintest sign of enemy activity he advanced towards the area that the danger was coming from. From behind a pile of trash cans emerged a nothing more than a mangy stray cat.

He sighed at least there was nothing wrong with his HUD. Lowering his weapon he trudged on hoping that he would soon find some kind of sign of JSF activity.

Mitchell soon found what he was looking for. It wasn't what he had hoped. There in the middle of a square was a downed RAH 66-comanche. Its tail propeller had taken a direct hit had it looked as if the pilot had lost control. He moved cautiously towards the cockpit weapon at the ready. The wreck had been there for at least two days (or so his HUD told him) and the danger was minimal.

He didn't know what he hoped to achieve but it was worth a look. Cautiously he approached the cockpit, the canopy and several impact marks from where bullets had been deflected of it's bullet proof shell. "How the hell am I supposed to get into this thing?" Mitchell muttered to himself. After some searching he found the emergency canopy release, Mitchell, having seen this done before from a distance, braced himself and yanked it as hard as he could.

The canopy released explosively, since the chopper had been almost upside down when Mitchell pulled the release the twenty-thousand dollar piece of bullet proof glass deflected off the ground and flew into the air. Such was the force of the ejection Mitchell was almost flung several meters in the opposite direction. Fortunately he had somewhat expected it and jumped as the same moment the canopy had blown, meaning that he escaped the huge force that it generated.

Despite this he had not thought the maneuver the whole way through and landed awkwardly meaning that he could not stay on his feet. He found himself on his back staring up at the sky wishing he hadn't been so hasty. He then struggled to his feet trying to resist the temptation to pass out. He recovered his weapon and slung it over his shoulder, he then drew his sidearm. It was an M9 not as accurate or as powerful as some of the newer models that preferred, but it was all that he could get his hands on before they had moved out. Not that it mattered, it would do it's job. He moved quickly yet quietly up to the side of the wrecked chopper. In a swift a motion as he could manage, he swung himself into the cockpit of the wreck. The scene on the inside was much, much more depressing than the one on the exterior of the aircraft.

Still strapped in their harnesses were the pilot and gunner. They were still wearing their bulky flight helmets meaning that he couldn't see the pilots upper face. It was a sight that Mitchell was all too familiar with these days. He sighed. A sight he thought, he had gotten far to used to. If his HUD was telling him the truth then these guy were long dead. He was about to continue searching the cockpit for a radio, when, as an after thought he took the dog tags of the gunner. The name of the gunner he did not recognize one Sergeant Matt Oakly. What he did recognize was the name engraved on the back of one of the tags. Firehawk. He knew the name he also knew that comanche crew put the name of their chopper on their tags. Why did he recognize that name?

It stuck out in his mind so clearly. He repeated the name aloud to himself over and over. "Firehawk, Firehawk, Fireha-." He remembered suddenly where he had heard the name before. The epiphany hit him like a brick wall. He reached slowly over to take the dog tags of the pilot. As he did, he prayed that he was wrong. Unfortunately, he wasn't. On the dog tag was a name he knew well. Mitchell felt as if he was going to be sick. He couldn't accept it. He needed to see for himself. His movements even more sluggish he urged he shaking hand to onto the helmet of the pilot. His fingers were almost unable to undo the straps that fastened the helmet on. He removed not wanting to look, it felt like it took an age yet the answer came all to soon. Under the helmet was his best friend and brother, John Mitchell.