Chapter 1:

"Your mission is to perform a scramble take off and climb to 5000 feet."

Josef Stromberg was addressing his latest batch of potential fighter pilots as they prepared for their final test.

He had been supreme commander at Heirelark base for the past 15 years, and had seen countless pilots attempt and fail this test and many more pass and become true ace's. As he surveyed the briefing room he was looking into the eyes of the air force of tomorrow, each pilot in front of him had the potential to become an ace.

"From there you will have a mock dogfight with your instructor. To pass you must avoid been locked on to for 1 minute, anything less and you will be flying tin can passenger planes! " He barked, "Pilots Gombrich and Blaze will go first, the rest of you will observe from the ground. Got it?"

"Yes sir", the trainees shouted in unison.

"Good, dismissed"

He surveyed the trainees as they quickly rose from their seats and headed to the hangars. He had watched them turn from unsure bags of nerves into half competent pilots; however this was the test that separated the pilots from the fighter pilots. The pilots who possessed the right instincts would shine through, the ones who didn't; would fail.

The hangar was near the control tower and the roof gleamed in the November morning sun. In the hangar, the blonde haired Randy Gornell, aka Gombrich, was surrounded by fellow pilots wishing him luck. The airbase jock was the most popular guy at the base, mainly because of his out going personality and huge muscles, although this was rumoured to be as a result of steroids not surprisingly - nobody dared say it to his face.

On the other side of the hangar, James Shotton, or "Blaze" as everyone called him was looking over his F–16 training jet. He was of a slim build at about 6ft tall. His straight dark brown hair was tidy round the sides and was swept across his forehead just above his eyebrows. As he surveyed his plane, he noticed a shimmery reflection on the nose of the plane of a person coming towards him.

It was Nagase. She was wearing her green flight suit as she was due to go up after he landed, her black hair stopped just before her shoulders and was in its usual immaculate appearance.

He didn't really know her but he had found her favourite childhood book entitled, A Blue Dove for the Princess, which she lost a couple of months back and spent the next two weeks in an emotional state of shock desperately scouring the base for it. Blaze had found it hidden in the top of a toilet in the men's toilets and had renovated it with a new red cover before giving it back to her he had tried to fix some of the pages but Nagase said it was fine and she would remember and write them down again. She had been on cloud nine ever since and had even bought Blaze a few drinks at the local bar. Blaze guessed that "captain, up his own ass Gornell", had stolen the book, although he couldn't be sure.

"Hi" called Blaze

"Hey... I just thought I would come and wish you luck an all"

"Thanks, everyone else seems to be busy feeling up captain bicep over there"

"Yeah" laughed Nagase, "I hope you bring him down a peg or two, thanks again for finding that book, it really means a lot to me."

"Thanks, I know what its like to lose something special, if you need help with anything just ask. I'll try and bring him down a few pegs although I'm more concerned about having an instructor stuck up my ass to be honest!". "Do you know who it is by any chance?"

"I think it's Captain Sullivan, but I'm not sure" replied Nagase, "Your not too nervous are you?"

"A bit, but all I have to do is just get up there and do my best"

"Yeah... well good luck Blaze I'll cheer you on over that jerk any day" she said looking towards Gornell, who was now posing for photos.

"Thanks, I'll be ok"

Nagase couldn't help but notice the little glint in Blaze's eye when he said that. Blaze then climbed into the cockpit and pulled on his helmet, covering his dark brown hair that gleamed in the sun.

As the rest of the trainees left, Blaze pulled out his photo of his parents from his pocket and stuck it on the dashboard. His parents had died when he was three in a plane crash and this was his only surviving memory of them. The photo was taken on Blaze's third birthday. Blaze was sat in the middle with his birthday cake, his mum and dad stood to either side of him both.

Both his parents where 30 at the time and he could see they both had his shining brown hair. His dad was also about 6ft and looked huge compared with Blaze in them days. His mum was a bit shorter and had long straight brown hair. They both had the same hazel brown eyes as Blaze and where stood behind him, both with gleaming smiles. They died two days later.

The two F-16's taxied down towards the runway; both pilots gave a salute to the on looking trainees as they left. Gombrich went up first, Blaze moments later, both performed scramble take offs which crushed them into their jump seats.

As the fighters levelled out a 5000 thousand feet, the voice of captain Sullivan crackled over the radio, "Gombrich your first, you had better get ready because I'm coming in hot, Blaze stay out of the way". Straight out the sun came an F – 16, "at least we've got the same aircraft", Blaze muttered to himself. Sullivan's glowing afterburner lit up the rear of his plane and made it look like it had the eyes of a demon as it ripped through the sky on Gombrich's 12 'o' clock, Gombrich quickly banked left and Blaze pulled out the way. The fight was on.

Sullivan soon found himself closing in on Gombrich; the pilot seemed to have frozen under the pressure and was diving towards the ground. However Gombrich had a few tricks up his sleeve, he pulled back on his stick before lighting his afterburners and escaped sullivans aim. The trainees on the ground began to cheer him on as the dogfight ensued.

Sullivan was having little trouble keeping Gombrich in his sights, as he kept pulling away just as he was about to lock on at the right moment, however the endless loops and flips were beginning to wear the cocky pilot down. Gombrich tried one final move to get Sullivan off his back, he dove into a cloud before pulling his throttle to zero and diving straight down, but Sullivan had been there every step of the way.

Sullivan got the penultimate lock on and announced over the radio, "Sullivan locked on, Gombrich destroyed", he looked down to the timer and was stunned to see it read: 0 Hours 1 minute 1 sec. He had done it. Just. Gombrich asked his time, and Sullivan replied in disbelief, "1 second in the green".

"WAHOO" shouted Gombrich over the radio, "Beat that Blaze, I tell you what I was on fire! The best Heirelark has ever seen!"

"They must have had some pretty bad pilots then" Blaze jokingly responded.

"It's a shame your one of them"

"Whatever you say" Blaze murmured before clipping his oxygen mask on.

"Blaze your up, get ready!" Sullivan called over the radio.

"Roger that" Blaze replied.

Sullivan's F-16 swooped down from 10000 ft in a matter of seconds and was quickly on Blaze's tail. "Easy" Sullivan thought to himself as he lined himself up. Blaze, however, had other ideas, he yanked his plane into a vertical dive and kept pushing his nose down until he was flying upside down, Sullivan assumed Blaze would pull back up and flew straight past. The trainees below were speechless as Blaze, flew upside down, over the airbase at 1000 ft with Sullivan now hot on his tail.

Blaze then swiftly flipped is plane back over, before launching himself into an afterburner assisted climb straight up, Sullivan lit his afterburners and followed. Sullivan, having gotten over Blaze's earlier stunt, was now lining himself up for the kill. Blaze had a split second in which to make his move, he killed all of his engine power and pulled his airbrakes, the plane stalled and fell vertically, straight past Talon. Blaze then lit his afterburners and went after Sullivan. The hunter had become the hunted.

Sullivan was now trying desperately to shake Blaze of his tail, trying nearly every trick in the book, from a few miles away Gombrich could not believe what he was seeing, a trainee "nugget" pursuing a retired ace from the Belkan war in an exercise where the trainee was meant to be the one trying to evade the missile lock, not the other way around!

Then, as Sullivan tried as sharp right turn, Blaze anticipated this and made an even sharper turn, before Talon could counter the move, Blaze had missile lock and announced, "Missile lock, instructor destroyed".