Inside a Rusty Home gas station, three soldiers were counting their supplies, remaining ammunition and equipment.
"I've got an ACR with half a mag" the one with brown hair and hazel eyes said "A single frag and my knife". He was dressed in standard Army fatigues and stood at 5'10; he had several dark spots on his face from being caught in an explosion. This man was Arthias Flynn, a First Sergeant of the Vrede Army.
His squad was sent to the suburbs the small rural city Odin's Valley to eliminate Saris forces that had occupied the evacuated city for almost a month. Unfortunately his squad was wiped out by an airstrike while securing the remains of a downed helicopter that was transporting important Intel.
"I've got my P226 a pack of C4 and six maybe seven rounds left in my M4" the second soldier said. He was taller than his comrade, standing at 6'0 even and had a scar running from the back edge of his right eye, back and just over his ear. He had blonde hair and brown eyes, Lieutenant Eric Flynn, a Navy SEAL.
He was on a mission with two other SEALs to rescue a downed bomber pilot. After securing the pilot and calling for extraction the SEAL team came under enemy fire and Lieutenant Flynn and the downed pilot were the only survivors.
"I've got my P90, P99 and my knife" the third soldier told them "Can we hold out with just this?" The bomber pilot Eric Flynn saved three days ago, a Captain in the Vrede Air Force, Elliot Kavai, current flight lead of the famous Baron bomber squadron. A youthful looking woman with shoulder length brown hair and crystal blue eyes.
Eric hung his head, "We don't have a lot of options. We can either make a run for the city line and into the valley, but it would take us at least a week to get back to allied lines".
Arthias continued, "Our radios are scrap, for us to make contact with our side we'd have to take a radio from the enemy and rig it with one of ours. But that'll raise the chance of them knowing we're still alive".
Elliot sighed, "Well whatever we're going to do we have to decide soon, if we leave it'll have to be under the cover of night. They'll still have patrols on the streets, but it's our best shot".
Eric nodded, "I vote for a retreat. If we try and hold out chances are we'll die" he looked to his younger brother Arthias "That Intel your team recovered from the chopper. What is it?"
Arthias turned around and picked up a military knapsack and pulled out a battered and scorched silver briefcase "It's a detailed blueprint of the Saris Royal Family's palace. From what we were told an undercover agent managed to get this and copy it. He was compromised and had to abandon the document. An infiltration team was sent in at night to retrieve it, but their chopper was shot down when it flew over this city".
Eric took the document and ran his eyes over it, "Something like this is invaluable. With this we could send insert a team outside the city and they could access the palace and make their way right to the Royal Family".
Arthias agreed "And if we capture them, we end this war".
Eric nodded, "Aye. We still have to get out of here first".
Captain Kavai shushed them "Quiet. I heard something".
There ground trembled slightly and the roaring of several heavy engines could be heard outside the gas station.
"Get behind the counter now!" Kavai ordered before jumping over the counter top and crouching down.
Both Arthias and Eric followed her lead and hid behind the counter just as a convoy of enemy soldiers and armored vehicles passed by them.
Looking up at the angled corner mirror above the counter Arthias counted the enemy in front of them "Got about 30 plus foot mobiles, 1 APC with mounted chain gun and a tank".
"Well ain't that just peachy" Eric grumbled.
Kavai closed her eyes and took a breath "We'll have to wait until night to move. If we stay here they'll find us".
Hearing an enemy soldier talking outside the gas station's shattered windows, Kavai quietly held her hand up telling the brothers to keep silent.
"Warte auf mich Delvario J'ai besoin d'une boisson rapide"
"Damn" Kavai muttered "One of them is coming inside to look for a drink".
Arthias whispered "This isn't good. If he sees us he'll alert the rest of them".
Eric reached to the left breast pocket of his tactical vest and pulled out a silencer for his handgun. "Arthias, Captain Kavai if it comes to it grab the one over the counter and restrain him. I'll slot the one waiting for him. Hopefully there's only one or two of them out there".
Arthias exhaled slowly "Alright Eric, just don't miss".
Eric gave a half cocked smile "If I miss at a time like this I think I'll start crying".
"Meinst du entendre que?" one of the soldiers inside the gas station said.
"There's jemand en voici" a second voice replied as the two Saris soldiers began walking around the shelves inside the gas station.
The three Vrede soldiers held their breaths as their hearts raced while the two enemy soldiers in the gas station got closer and closer.
Arthias watched the corner mirror above the counter and waited for one of the enemy soldiers to get closer. He looked to his brother and Captain Kavai and nodded before he jumped up and grabbed the enemy soldier by his wrist and neck while Kavai stabbed him in the chest and Eric shot the second soldier in the head.
Once both soldiers were killed, Eric jumped over the counter and dragged the body of the soldier he shot into the back room of the gas station while Arthias dragged the second body.
"I'll see if I can't use their radio to tap into their comms" Kavai told them after she grabbed a radio off of the soldier she stabbed.
Hours later, night came to the city. With the darkened sky and half the street lights destroyed, the three soldiers made their move.
"Do we have an idea on where we're going to go?" Arthias asked "The nearest allied base is 200 miles away".
Eric stopped to think "We don't have the supplies to hike it that far. We have to find a way to contact our forces and let them know where we are".
Kavai pointed up the street "There's a payphone. If it works we can get a message to the McNealy Air Base".
"I hope you have a plan to rig that phone" Arthias told them "I don't have any change on me".
"Maybe if we ask nicely it'll let us use it for free" Kavai joked.
Arthias scoffed "If it'll make you feel better go for it".
Stopping in front of the pay phone Eric told Kavai to hand him the enemy radio she took.
Using the tip of his knife, Eric pried the radio apart and ripped open the base of the phone "Watch for hostiles" he told them as he began using the enemy's radio to hotwire the payphone.
Holding the phone up to his ear Eric waited for someone to pick up.
"Identify yourself" a female voice said from the other end.
"This is Lieutenant Eric Flynn. Military id number 5227-alpha niner 4. I don't have access to a secure line".
There was a brief pause from the other end of the line "Military id confirmed. What's your situation Lieutenant?"
"I'm with First Sergeant Arthias Flynn Captain Elliot Kavai, we're trapped within an enemy controlled city and we're carrying critical Intel. We are low on supplies and need emergency extraction ASAP".
"Situation acknowledged Lieutenant" the female operator said "What's your current location?"
"We're in Odin's Valley and there are a lot of hostiles here with armored vehicles and a few attack helicopters".
"Standby" the operator said "Patching you through to command".
"Please hurry" Eric asked as he took a quick look over both his shoulders. Both Arthias and Kavai nodded to him letting him know the coast was still clear. Unbeknownst to them, an enemy UAV had spotted them.
A strong male voice answered the phone "This is General Chester, callsign Heavy Metal. Lieutenant Flynn I understand you're in need of extraction?"
"Yes sir" Eric answered "We're low on supplies and ammunition and we're carrying critical Intel on the Royal Family's palace in Saris. We need immediate extraction from Odin's Valley".
"Roger that Lieutenant" Heavy Metal replied "We're sending an extraction team and fighter escort, ETA till arrival 40 minutes, just dig in and hold out until extraction arrives".
"Roger, Heavy Metal we'll dig in at the Rusty…"
"Look out!" Arthias yelled grabbing Eric and pulling him away from the payphone as an enemy tank fired at them.
Hearing a screeching sound in their ears from the tank's cannon shell passing right over their head's the three soldiers ran into a nearby alley and away from the incoming enemy.
"We have to find somewhere to hide and hold out until the extraction chopper gets here" Kavai yelled as the three of them sprinted through the alley.
"This way!" Arthias told them as he kicked open the back door to a bookstore.
Once the three soldiers were inside, Arthias and his brother grabbed one of the bookshelves and pushed it over to block the door before they ran across to the other side.
"Enemy chopper get down!" Kavai whispered before she dropped to the ground.
Both Eric and Arthias got down on their stomachs just as an enemy Hind flew by with a spot light.
"Alright boys, nice and slow" Kavai said as she slowly got up to her knees and peeked her head out the window. "Alright let's move" she said before silently pushing the front door open and running across the street.
Once she made it to the other side she braced herself against a corner with her P90 aimed down the street as Eric made a run for it.
Once Eric was safely across the street he waved for Arthias to follow after them.
Arthias immediately broke into a sprint across the darkened street, just as the enemy tank rolled around the corner.
"Damn, we need to hurry!" Eric growled.
Kicking open the closest door to them, the three jumped inside and immediately shut the door behind them before blindly trying to find their way in the pitch black room.
Arthias stumbled over what felt like a shelf of some kind "Man I can't see a thing in front of me".
"We can't afford to give away our position" Eric whispered "So no lights".
Kavai spotted a group of soldiers at the windows. "That's going to be difficult, we've got hostiles with flashlights at the windows, get down".
The door opened and four soldiers entered the dark room with their flashlights in one hand and weapons in the other. "Uberall suchen" one of them ordered to the others.
"They're searching for us" Kavai whispered, but she was no where near Eric or Arthias.
One of the soldiers tripped on something and yelled as he fell to the floor panicking the other soldiers.
The soldier immediately got back to his feet and said he was fine before reaching down to retrieve his flashlight. Eric who was hiding behind a clothes rack lunged out of a corner and wrapped his arm around his neck and his hand around his mouth.
Dragging the muffled soldier back into the corner, Eric took his knife and slit the soldier's throat before gently setting his body against the wall.
"Hossenfeffer!" one of the soldiers called after hearing something kicked over and not seeing that the flashlight was still on the ground.
Before the enemy soldier could react, Arthias, who was lying right behind him, silently rose to his feet and tightly placed his left hand over his mouth while his right hand was pressed against the back of his helmet and in one swift, silent action snapped the soldier's neck.
Guiding the body back, Arthias set it on the floor while the other soldiers began to panic when they saw that two flashlights were now on the ground.
Watching from the corner, Eric used his suppressed P226 took careful aim at one of the remaining two soldiers and shot him in the twice in the back killing him.
The fourth enemy was in a full panic, in less than fifteen seconds his three allies were taken down in complete darkness, leaving him alone.
Seeing something move just at the edge of his peripheral, the soldier panicked and aimed his rifle.
Just as the soldier raised his rifle, Kavai sprung out from her hiding place and grabbed the soldier's wrist with her right hand before pushing it up as she did a half spin the stopped her back right in front of him and slammed her left elbow into his Adam's apple, she turned to face him as she released his wrist and then used her left arm to wrap around his and wrenched it up before she reached up and wrapped her right arm around his head and kneed him in the stomach forcing him to hunch over.
Once the soldier hunched over, Kavai twisted her body to the left and immediately jerked up snapping the soldier's neck in her arm before dropping his body to the ground.
"Eric, Kavai sound off" Arthias said in a loud whisper.
"I'm here" Eric said, keeping a tight grip on his P226.
Kavai panted "I'm alright".
Arthias sighed "We need to move, they're going to notice a missing party pretty soon".
Grabbing one of the flashlights and a radio, Arthias peeked his head out the door "Coast is clear, let's go".
Running down the street, back toward the payphone where they were ambushed they retreated into a half collapsed restaurant and made they're way to the meat locker.
"Arthias hand me that radio" Eric said as he backed away giving his brother and Kavai room to cover the entrance to the meat locker.
Using the enemy radio, Eric made contact with McNealy Air Base. "This is Lieutenant Eric Flynn to McNealy Air Base. Someone respond".
"This is Heavy Metal, what's your status?"
"We're holding out in the meat locker of a collapsed restaurant, there's an enemy Hind patrolling the area and a tank in the streets. We can't hind forever we need that extraction now".
"Roger that Lieutenant. We have a flight of three F-15's inbound loaded for bear they'll sanitize the area for your evac, ETA 2 minutes putting you in contact with the flight lead now".
Eric nodded "Copy all Heavy Metal, thanks" waiting until he heard the roar of fighter engines over his radio Eric said "This is Lieutenant Flynn to the flight lead of the F-15's heading to Odin's Valley".
The flight lead of the squadron replied "This is 2nd Lieutenant Oswell of Demon squadron approaching Odin's Valley".
"Lieutenant, There's an enemy Hind and armor in the AO, your flight is going to have to sanitize the entire area before we can pull out. We're hold out inside a collapsed restaurant at the southwest end of the town. Over".
"Demon flight roger's your last, beginning attack run over the area".
From inside the restaurant's meat locker, the three soldiers heard the roar of the fighter jets as they passed over head and an explosion soon followed by another that made the ground shake.
"Demon flight to ground forces, enemy bird and armor eliminated, evac chopper will be landing nearby in 2 minutes".
Eric held the radio up "Copy all Demon flight thanks for the assist".
Outside the restaurant, the three soldiers waited for the Black Hawk to land so they could finally leave.
Seeing something glint in the sky, Kavai dropped her P90 sub-machine gun and pushed Eric and Arthias back inside just before a predator missile was fired from an enemy UAV.
"Captain Kavai!" Eric and Arthias both yelled after they realized what had just happened.
Another explosion roared in the sky as the three F-15's shot down the UAV before it could fire again.
After the dust cloud settled Eric and Arthias ran outside to see if Kavai had managed to avoid the missile, but they didn't see her.
"Kavai!" Eric called "KAVAI!" he yelled again.
Someone could be heard coughing, from inside the dumpster sitting right next to the doorway.
"Kavai!" Eric yelled again as he and Arthias ran to it.
Kavai was bruised and covered in dirt and trash, but other than that she was unharmed.
"Oh!" Arthias groaned after they helped her out of the dumpster "Think that dumpster left some of its juices on you Captain".
Kavai groaned as she tried in vain to wipe the smelly liquid from her flightsuit "I should've just jumped back inside and let you two die".
Eric nodded toward the helicopter as it landed to extract them "Come on Captain let's go home and get you cleaned up".
"That's the story of the fourth and last time I was ever shot down" Kavai said with a pleased smile "It also happens to be my favorite memory from the war".
Jay asked "Even after the whole dumpster incident?"
Kavai nodded her head to the side with a light 'hmm' sound "Yeah, I was laughing about it by the time we got back to the air base. Eric, Arthias and I have been close as siblings ever since".
"Well those two are brothers to begin with" Jay noted.
Kavai nodded "True, but one day you might find out what I mean".
Jay tilted his head "What's there to find out?" he asked "It's not that hard to understand. The three of you were in a desperate situation and there was little chance you'd survive. Things like that can even pull people who had never met together into a strong bond".
Kavai had a gentle smile while she shook her head "You understand the simplicity of it. But it goes a lot deeper than that".
Jay shrugged "If you say so. By the way checkmate" Jay had moved his rook forward two spaces and checked Kavai's king between it and his knight.
Kavai immediately ran her eyes over the chess board in disbelief before she hung her head "Game over" she muttered in a defeated tone.
Jay smirked and immediately shot up from his chair "Yep that means lunch is on you".
Captain Kavai got up after pushing her king over and went to take a quick shower before her and Jay left the Emerald's Edge.
Waiting on the large ramp that ran from the warship to the docks, Jay had changed his attire. He was wearing light blue jeans that stopped at his knees and a white shirt t-shirt under an un-buttoned silver Hawaiian shirt.
Ten minutes later, Captain Kavai had finally joined him. She was wearing a plain sky blue shirt with black, short track pants. Her silky, light brown hair was brushed back and evenly split so it rested on both of her shoulder.
"You know" Jay began as he saw the way Kavai was dressed "You dress any nicer people will begin to think we're dating".
Kavai blushed almost immediately "Jay!" she gasped "Don't say something like that, you're still underage. Now you've got me nervous".
Jay smirked with an evil chuckle "This is gonna be a fun day".
Leaving the docks and walking into town, Jay locked his hands behind his head "So that squadron that helped you in that story of yours" he said "Demon flight, I've never heard of them".
Kavai lowered her eyes for a second "It was considered confidential at the time, but that was years ago". Kavai looked up at the sky and closed her eyes while she remembered the sound of fighter engines roaring over the restaurant she hid in with the Flynn brothers. "They were a mercenary group our military hired near the end of the war. I spoke to them a few times after that day, but I still don't know that much about them other than there names".
"Well?" Jay asked in a 'keep going' tone.
Kavai continued "Canis was number 3 in the squadron. He was quite a chatter box. Liked to make jokes a lot and extremely protective of his squad mates. Katrina was the squad's number 2. A very beautiful woman, really friendly a truly skilled pilot. Then there was the flight lead. Keith. Well trained, piloting skills unlike any I had ever seen. And his eyes, his eyes held a strange gaze, I felt like I was looking at the sun and the moon at the same time".
"What happened to them?" Jay asked.
Kavai shook her head "I'm not sure, they took part in the siege of the Saris capital, but after that they just disappeared. There's been nothing on them since then. They may be living a quiet life somewhere or they could be dead, there's no telling".
Jay asked "So how good were they?"
Kavai shrugged "The best pilots I've ever seen, maybe even better than your father".
Jay cheered "I could take 'em".
Kavai shook her head "I'd actually like to see that. You're probably the best pilot currently in our military. You against the three demons of the skies, that'd be an interesting battle".
Jay nodded in a comical style "If I were to get shot down I guarantee I'll have taken them with me".
Kavai told him "From what I knew about him, Keith was a lot like you are now".
Jay looked at his former instructor and asked what she meant.
"Well, Keith was relentless in battle, an unrivaled pilot with natural instincts and ability. You're much the same".
"That's it?" Jay asked in a disappointed tone.
Kavai shrugged "Well I didn't know anything about him other than his piloting skills".
Jay rolled his eyes "Alright, well let's eat; I'm feelin' some vibes on something Cajun".
Kavai moaned "Cajun? Really?"
"Yes!" Jay barked hysterically "I want something with a bit of spice".
"Is that why you're dating Caitlyn?" Kavai asked him.
Jay's face went red "We are not dating!" he said in a calm 'lay down the line' tone.
Kavai chuckled "Relax. I'm just teasing. The two of you do seem to be getting along really well though".
Jay nodded his head to the side. A week ago, there was supposed to be the unveiling of four new fighter jets, the Wyvernns. Jay had gotten a first hand look at them since he and the other Holy Knights were going to be piloting them, but since the Terrorist Michel Spring kidnapped Caitlyn Bourne, the princess and heir to the Saris throne, the exhibition was postponed.
Jay along with the leader of Caitlyn's personal guard and acting sub-commander of the Emerald's Edge, Terry O'Brian had rescued Caitlyn and killed Michel in the process. Jay however didn't remember that he was the one who killed Michel, and under orders from his father no one was to tell him.
Taking the last sip from his tea Jay gave out an excessive satisfied sigh as he set the cup down "I love Cajun".
Kavai snickered as she shook her head "I'm not making anymore bets with you that involve the loser paying for something".
Jay leaned back in his seat before looking at her "Kavai".
Kavai looked at him, his tone had changed, it sounded more serious now, almost as if he had realized something "Yes?" she asked hesitantly.
"I just remembered something" Jay continued in the same serious tone.
Kavai became nervous, her body stiffened and her nerves began to dull.
Jay's expression changed to a blank, wide eyed one as his tone returned to its comical roots "They have snow cones here".
Kavai's entire body had gone into shut down mode for a brief few seconds before she began chuckling weakly "Really? Snow cones? You sounded all serious about something and you were talking about snow cones?"
Jay nodded "Yeah" he heard a small bell jingling across the street and his ears twitched "That's the frozen yogurt guy!" he said shooting his head to the opposite side of the street and seeing a middle age man with a freezer-cart of yogurt.
"What is it with you and food today?" Kavai asked him.
Jay shook his head "No idea, I've had the munchies all day".
Kavai gave him a suspicious look, but Jay immediately cut her off "Not THAT kind of munchies!" he defended.
"So these new fighters" Kavai began "Know anything about them?"
Jay nodded his head to the side "A little, all I really know about them is a scouting ship found an abandoned space station and four fighters in the hangar. From what they were able to piece together from the data on the station, it was attacked by the same enemy that attacked us. The fighters are called Dreads and the station was occupied by the forces of a distant planet called Mejere or something like that. Anyway they brought the fighters back with them and from what dad told me we just modified them".
"Well we should get going" Kavai told him as she stood up.
"But what about the frozen yogurt guy?" Jay asked in a fake whining tone as he used his thumb to point at the frozen yogurt cart across the street.
"The deal was I paid for lunch, not desert" Kavai grumbled.
Jay scoffed "Who said you're paying, this one's on me".
"You're actually going to pay for once?" Kavai asked in disbelief.
Jay told her in a blunt tone "Well if you'd stop losing to me then I would've payed before. Besides what kind of date would this be if I didn't treat you to something".
"JAY!" Kavai gasped before frantically looking around "Watch it you're going to get me in trouble".
Jay tilted his head and shook it once "Nah I don't think so. Now suspicious looks yeah, they'll give you some looks, but I don't think you'll get in trouble".
"That's not the point!" Kavai barked before Jay looked to the side and called out "Princess!"
Just a few from them, sitting on a bench in front of a book store was the princess of the Saris Royal Family, Caitlyn Bourne.
Caitlyn froze, but she didn't look up. Her muscles tightened as she waited for whoever it was to call her again.
Jay and Kavai walked over to her "Yo Caitlyn" Jay said after they stopped next to her.
Realizing whose voice it was Caitlyn looked up from the book she was reading "Oh Jay. Captain Kavai".
"Where are your guards?" Kavai asked her.
Caitlyn had a faint guilty smile on her face "I uh…snuck out when no one was looking".
Kavai gasped "You what?"
Jay laughed "Oh there is hope for yet princess. I'm proud of you".
"Don't call me that!" Caitlyn barked quietly "You know I don't like being called that".
Jay rubbed the back of his head "Sorry, I'm in unusually high spirits today".
"Why?" Caitlyn asked him.
Jay pointed his thumb at Kavai "Because I get to go on a date with Elliot".
"JAY!" Kavai panicked as Caitlyn and a few pedestrians started looking at them. One of them even shot Captain Kavai a disgusted look.
Caitlyn stuttered "You…You two are dating?"
Kavai immediately began frantically waving her hands back and forth "No we're not".
Jay snickered at Kavai's embarrassment "We're not dating, but its fun to mess with her like that".
"Jay seriously" Kavai cried silently "Don't even joke like that, if rumors started going around I could be dishonorably discharged for…relationships with a minor".
Jay's expression went completely blank and his tone became blunt "It's not like we're having sex".
Both Kavai's and Caitlyn's face went red "Jay I'm serious!" Kavai pleaded "Stop joking like that".
Jay sighed "Alright I'll find another way to have fun…" Jay's eyes trailed to Caitlyn "Hey Caitlyn" he said slightly tilting his head up to her.
Caitlyn's face became redder "Y…Yes?"
Jay hesitated for a moment before he spoke "You…you wanna go out sometime? We're not leaving for another week and we're not going to be returning home for a few months so…well I mean…"
Caitlyn's face brightened as did Jay's; Kavai seemed surprised at what had just happened.
Caitlyn lowered her eyes to the side "Sure" she muttered.
Jay scoffed under his breath "Alright so, assuming we don't have anything to do after the new fighter exhibition…you wanna watch a movie or go fishing or…I don't know I could do anything really".
Caitlyn felt that if her face got any hotter she'd pass out; her heart felt like it was trying to beat its way out of her chest. "Alright. Why don't we decide that later though".
Caitlyn grabbed her book and ran off leaving Jay and Kavai behind.
Kavai looked down at Jay with a mix of disbelief and impressed "Jay…did you really just".
"Apparently I did" Jay replied, he also seemed somewhat surprised at what he did.
Kavai sighed "Well I'd hate to ruin this…whatever kind of moment this is, but we need to get back to the air base for the exhibition".
Jay nodded and turned around "Alright let's go".
Jay and Kavai returned to Knights Air Base to prepare for the exhibition dog fight, originally Jay couldn't contain his excitement of being allowed to pilot the new fighter, but after he asked Caitlyn out that was all he could think about.
After arriving at the air base, Jay said goodbye to his former instructor and ran for the locker room to change into a flightsuit.
Bolting into the locker room Jay ran to the end of the room and opened his locker to retrieve his flightsuit just as Kira entered the room.
Seeing Jay in nothing, but his briefs Kira's face had a faint red glow to it as she slightly turned her head to the side.
Jay couldn't help, but grin "You can look away all you want, but I know you're daydreamin' about me".
Kira immediately shot her gaze back to him "Shut up!" she gasped "I'm just her to change into my flightsuit".
Kira walked to the other side of the same row of lockers Jay was standing at, her locker was right behind his. The two of them stood facing the lockers staring right at each other through the thin steel boxes.
"So" Jay said "Excited?"
"Yeah" Kira replied "We're going to be the only ones to pilot these things, you, me, Jack and Rainer. Somehow the four of us have become the pillar of strength for our world's military".
Jay bounced his head to the side "Sooo…" he began "I…asked Caitlyn out".
"What!" Kira gasped leaning her head around the corner of the locker while keeping her chest covered with the top half of her flightsuit "And?"
Jay kept a blank, unsure expression on his face "She said yes. If we have the free time after the exhibition we're going out tonight".
Kira still had a confused look on her face, but she managed a small smile "Well I say go for it. Stop looking so worried and smile, she's a princess isn't that a fantasy for most guys?"
Jay shrugged "I wouldn't know. Besides I'm not 'most guys' I don't care if she's one of the Royal Family. I may not understand my feelings for her at the moment, but I still want to find out".
Kira returned to putting on her flightsuit while Jay stared at the ceiling wondering about what he would say or do if he did go out with Caitlyn. For that matter would the Royal Family even permit it? O'Brian and Jay were on good terms now and one could even say there's a growing friendship between them, but would he even approve? O'Brian is Caitlyn's personal guard.
"Jay let's go!" Kira's voice snapped bringing Jay out of his thoughts.
"Sorry" he muttered before closing his locker and following Kira to the hangars.
Entering the hangar Jay and Kira were greeted by Jack and Rainer.
"Afternoon Captains" Kira saluted.
"Hey you two" Rainer replied respectfully returning Kira' salute.
"So how's this exhibition going to work?" Kira asked "No one's really told us anything".
Jack looked over his shoulder at the four shiny new fighter jets "At first command wanted us to have a mach battle against another squadron, but I came up with a better idea" he paused to look at Kira and Jay, giving his son a long 'sizing him up' look. "Instead we're going to be in a 2 on 2 battle using dummy rounds and impact paint missiles".
"A 2 on 2 battle?" Kira asked "So how will that work? Do we just fight each other until one team loses both its pilots?"
Jack nodded "Indeed. Currently the four of us are the best pilots in the military. So what better way to gauge the performance of the Wyvernns than to test them against each other".
Kira shifted her eyes to Jay "So what are the pairings then?"
Jack smiled "You and Jay against me and Rainer". Jay's ears perked when he heard that.
Kira's mouth hung open for a second "But Captain, you can't seriously expect Jay and me to be able to hold our own against the two of you. You have more experience than we do".
"Then consider this just another training exercise" Rainer told her "It'd be a great opportunity for the two of you to gain battle experience against pilots who've been at the game longer than you".
"When do we get started?" Jay asked them with a fierce look in his eyes.
Jack nodded to the new Wyvernns "Right now".
Seeing the look in his son's eyes made Jack smile on the inside, he loved his son, but in this time of war he needed him to understand the seriousness of battle and he was going to go all out to show him.
The four pilots climbed into their respective Wyvernns. Jack in the blood red one, Rainer in the tiger stripped brown and yellow, Kira in the white one and Jay in the silver.
"Captain Masterson to control tower, we're ready to begin the exhibition"
"Roger Captain Masterson, your squad is cleared for take off on runway 2".
Starting with Jack and ending with Kira the Holy Knights took off into the sky. The four Wyvernns gleamed in the sunlight as the squad broke away from each other in two man formations.
"Control tower this is Captain Rainer, we're ready to begin the exhibition".
"Roger that Captain, transmitting new IFF data for the exhibition. You are cleared to engage in 10 seconds".
In the silver Wyvernn, Jay looked down at the ground from the cockpit and a faint feeling of peace washed over him, taking all of his worries, doubts and hesitation with him. Whenever he flew he felt at peace, the sky…something about being able to fly it's as if the sky was his real home.
"Kira" he said quietly "You remember that frequency we used while you and Hideki were in class that one time?"
Kira answered "Yeah why?"
Jay looked at the two faint dots on the horizon "Switch to it, we don't need them listening in on our strategy".
Jay and Kira switched radio frequencies to their own channel "Alright, Kira fly on my wing, we'll target Rainer first and drop him then we'll go for my dad".
Kira felt another smile cross her face "Well aren't you the big time squad leader" she joked.
Jay also smiled "Would you rather take the lead?"
Kira shook her head "No that's alright; I'll just follow you and make sure you don't do anything stupid".
"That's why you're flying behind me" Jay told her "That way I can keep you out of the line of fire and you can watch my 6".
Looking down at his radar, Jay saw his dad and Rainer approaching them at top speed "Alright, its time. Let's see if the old guys still have the touch".
The four pilots flew head on toward each other, ready for anything the other side had. Jack and Rainer were determined to teach Jay and Kira how a real Ace flies while Kira was determined to prove that she was just as good as they were, Jay however wanted to show everyone, not just his squad mates, but everyone in the military that he was the best pilot out there, the one true Ace.
Once they were within range, Jack and Rainer immediately split from each other in a wide Dutch roll before Jack banked his fighter to the left and Rainer banked his to the right, the two Wyvernns crossed right in front of each other with the precision of an air show.
Jack and Rainer were now flying outwards towards Jay and Kira. Jay immediately knew what they were doing; he had seen and read about it many times. It was the signature technique of Pyramid squadron, box the enemy from both sides and behind and shoot them down.
Sadly Pyramid 3 was shot down and killed during the siege of the Saris capital at the end of the war, but Jack and Rainer were still confident they could pull it off.
Rainer flew wide to get behind Jay and Kira while Jack would fly past them in a strafing style attack.
"Kira follow me on three, we break left" Jay ordered.
"Roger" Kira replied as the two veteran Aces closed in from the left and rear.
"3…2…1!" Jay immediately threw his flightstick to the left and pushed down making his plane do a horizontal nose dive to avoid his father's strafing run, Kira had done the same, but a dummy round grazed the back of her fighter scoring a point for the Veteran side.
"Kira stay close and follow my moves exactly, I know you can do this" Jay told her as he flew straight up into the sky with his Wyvernn spinning before he pulled back on the flightstick, performing a half, back loop the loop and diving straight toward Rainer as he flew up to meet him.
Firing two missiles at Rainer, Jay pulled the trigger on his flightstick firing the machine guns forcing Rainer to break away.
Jay's dive was too forward, for him to turn right away which left him open to Rainer's counter attack, but Kira intercepted him before he could turn around.
"They're just as good as I expected" Kira said after Rainer evaded her attack unharmed.
"That's why we're going to win" Jay said to her "We know how good they are, but they have no idea at how good we can get".
Leveling his fighter, Jay followed after Kira who was trailing Rainer trying to get a lock on him, but to no avail so far. Jack was far to their left and had a long range lock on Kira's fighter.
Watching his HUD closely, Jack waited for the missile guidance system to achieve a full lock as his thumb hovered over the missile fire button at the top of his flightstick. Once he was locked on he brought his thumb down on the missile release button firing a single long range XLAA missile that screamed toward Kira's Wyvernn.
Kira heard the warning alarms in her cockpit and fired two missiles at Rainer before breaking away to avoid Jack's missile.
Once Kira broke away from Rainer, he tilted his fighter and flew wide to the left to avoid the missile, but after missile stopped chasing him, Jay replaced it with one of his own.
Throwing his flightstick in the opposite direction, Rainer switched around to avoid Jay's attack. Flying wide to his right now, Rainer evaded Jay's missile, but Jay was still behind him. Jay's own senses had tightened, his reflex timing was increasing. Everytime Rainer would evade or Jack would turn to fire a missile to force Jay to break away, his reaction time just kept getting sharper and sharper and it wasn't just him.
Kira was also showing signs of rapid improvement, with timing even faster than Jay's she could level herself behind her target and gain an instant lock before breaking away the second she heard her warning alarms. Only ten minutes into the exhibition and the veteran aces were forced onto the defensive.
Jay was still tailing Rainer with a demon's persistence and even though Rainer managed to avoid Jay locking onto him, the second Jay broke away Kira replaced him.
"Jack some support would really be nice" he yelled after narrowly evading one of Kira's missiles before rolling to the side to avoid one from Jay.
"Bring 'em this way I'll get them off ya" Jack told him as he switched to his special weapons.
Rainer turned around and flew straight toward his wingman dragging Jay and Kira along with him. "Alright Rainer break left on the count of 3 ready?"
Jay watched his father's jet closely while he trailed Rainer he knew what was about to happen, they were going to use a baited launch and leave tactic.
"Kira I'm going to bank right you fly straight up and follow me lead from there".
Kira nodded "Alright".
Watching the two enemy jets Jay waited for Rainer to break away, he squinted his eyes and everything around ceased to exist. At that moment the only thing that was going on was the exhibition match, nothing else was there.
The second Rainer's jet tilted to the side, Jay jerked his flightstick in the opposite direction and Kira pulled hers back flying straight up while Jay went to the side evading his father's missiles.
"Kira turn and get a lock on my dad, hurry!" Jay yelled as rolled his fighter 180 degrees in mid turn to follow his dad's jet.
Kira leveled her Wyvernn and dived right toward Jack's gaining a quick lock before she fired her missile which Jack immediately evaded just as Jay gained a lock of his own, but lost it.
"Dammit" Jay growled before he turned to follow his dad before Rainer got a lock on him forcing him to break away.
"They're trying to separate us!" Kira cried after Jack got behind her and Rainer started pushing Jay away.
"Then that's going to be our window" Jay said "Kira fly straight at me and wait for my signal, then I want you to break away by flying upward right above me, make sure you target Rainer first".
"Alright" Kira acknowledged before turning around to lead Jack toward Jay "What's the plan?"
"We're going to use they're own technique against them. When I give the word tilt you plane upwards just enough so it'll barely pass over me and fire at Rainer with your guns, I'll handle my dad".
"Alright let's do it" Kira said as she targeted Rainer while he trailed Jay.
The two young pilots were now flying right at each other and Jack and Rainer thought they knew what they were planning.
"They really think they can bait us with this?" Rainer said.
Jack narrowed his eyes "No they've got something else planned".
Jay counted down from three as he and Kira drew closer to each other "Alright break!"
Kira tilted her fighter up and pulled the trigger on her flightstick scoring several hits on Rainer's jet as he broke away and Jay fired two missiles and his guns at his father's jet without hitting him.
Kira continued to follow Rainer, while Jay trailed after his father. Gaining a lock on Rainer Kira fired a single missile before switching to her special weapons and firing 2 XLAA missiles at close range forcing Rainer to break into a sharp turn that led him right into one of Jay's missiles.
Jay had trailed his father as a distraction before quickly breaking away to pursue Rainer with Kira. Watching Kira fire missile after missile, Jay watched Rainer take a steep turn and saw his chance.
Rainer's turn was too steep for him to pull out of and Jay's missile impacted the back of his Wyvernn taking him out of the fight.
"Captain Rainer has been shot down" the control tower.
Rainer turned his fighter away from the battle and returned to the airbase, it was now two on one.
"Alright Kira, we need to box him in, don't let up for a second. Chase him down until we get him".
Now a two on one fight, Jay and Kira grew bolder they had managed to shoot down a veteran ace, but the one that was left wasn't just another ace. He was a war hero; the pilot that made sure the war had ended. Singlehandedly Jack Masterson had maintained air superiority over the Saris capital city during its siege, if it wasn't for him the siege would have failed and the team that was sent into the Royal Family's palace would've been wiped out.
There was no doubt that Jack Masterson was a true ace a man with no equal, but in recent years many had speculated that his son, who time and time again had proven to be a natural pilot. Many believed he may be able to match or even beat his father, soldiers from Vrede and Saris alike and from other nations across the world, many of them wanted to see the two of them go one of one.
The old saying was "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" and Jay's abilities as a pilot coupled with his young age made many believe that he had inherited his father's skills.
Jay loved his father, but he wanted to prove that he could be better. He wanted to prove that he could write his own legacy in history instead of just continuing his father's. When he entered the military academy his father attended he made it his goal to break any and all records his father had during his time at the academy, eventually he managed to do just that. Now the only challenge left was to shoot down the man he looked up to the most, his hero and his own rival, his father.
"Kira" Jay said in a quiet, neutral tone.
"Leave this one to me".
Kira looked outside her canopy to Jay's Wyvernn "Jay, are you sure? I mean he is"
Jay cut her off "I'm sure. Its time for me to start my own path in life and to open the gate I need to shoot down my dad".
Kira closed her eyes and tilted her fighter away from Jay, slowly breaking away from him "Alright Jay, I'll leave it to you. I know you can do it".
After Kira broke away, Jay switched his radio frequency back to the standard channel "Dad".
"So you've finally decided to tune back in to my victory channel huh?" his father joked.
"Cute" Jay said coolly "Kira's sitting this one out; she's returning to base, this is now just between you and me".
"A one on one dogfight between us?" his father asked "Alright, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to fly against you one day".
Jay smiled "I could say the same thing, only my version of it isn't just flying against you…I'm going to win".
Jack scoffed, but he did have a smile on his face, his son's determination made him proud "Alright little boy, if you think you've got what it takes then come shoot me down".
It was finally time, the moment Jay had waited for as long as he could remember, the chance to prove to his dad and everyone that he was the number 1 pilot, in the past Jay never did anything to prove that he was the best, he didn't care, or at least that's what he wanted to believe.
Jay never wanted to see himself as a man who only lived to prove he was the best that was the lie he told himself when he entered the same military academy his father went to. He knew he had a name to live up to so he forced himself to match or break any record his father held at the academy.
Eventually he came to realize that he didn't want to live up to his father's name, he wanted to be better. But even then Jay wasn't a prideful person, he just wanted to live a fun and clean life with Kira and Hideki, but after that day, the day those machines attacked his home that was the day he began to realize that he had more than just one path in life he could follow.
He'll never forget the feeling he had when he hijacked the fighter jet from the Air Base and flew into his first air battle, he'd never forget the sense of duty he had when he protected his town, his people and his world. And he would never forget how he felt when Kira told him how happy it made her that he had done what he did.
Kira…the one person he cared most about, the one person he probably loved more than his parents, the one person that had always been there for him and the one person who's opinion ever mattered to him. Kira may be five years older than Jay, but he made it his job in life to protect her, to show her that he was strong enough to be there for her like she always was there for him.
The two reasons Jay wanted to become the best pilot, the two reasons he wanted to prove he was better than his dad. To carve his own legacy into history and to show Kira how strong he had become.
The dogfight of the century, regardless of how it ended that's how everyone would refer to it, everyone in the Gelinkos World Military was watching the dogfight between the famous Blood Hunter, Jack Masterson and his own son who was the youngest person in the entire military and already considered a war hero.
Eventually News teams began filming the dogfight from the top of buildings and from helicopters, sensing a true story behind this. It wasn't just an exhibition to test new fighter jets anymore; it was a dogfight anyone would want to see.
Evading a missile from his father, Jay flew at top speed trying to put enough distance between him and his father so he could turn for a counter attack. His fighter's engines roared as the afterburners flared with life, but his dad, the famous Blood Hunter wasn't going to let up.
Looking down at his altitude meter and air speed, Jay had an idea that might allow him to get behind his father, a risky move that might cause him to lose, but a gamble he had to take.
Turning his fighter straight up, Jay flew right toward the sky, and watched as his father followed him.
Waiting for his dad to lock in on him, Jay closed his eyes and exhaled as time began slowing down, once again he felt light as air, the greatest sense of peace he had ever felt in his life.
Hearing the missile warning alarm in his cockpit, Jay shot his eyes open and immediately decelerated his fighter and pulled back on his flightstick, using gravity and air friction to force his fighter to fall from the sky.
Jay calmly looked through his canopy as his father's missiles roared right past him; probably no more than 3 feet from his canopy and what's more is he even looked his father in the eyes as he fell past him.
Jack's fighter was going too fast for him to stop immediately and the angle of his ascent was too steep for him to turn as effectively giving Jay, just the opening he needed.
Swinging his flightstick to the side, Jay spun his Wyvernn around and looped back over leveling it right behind his father's fighter just as he began turning away.
"You're mine!" Jay yelled as he fired two missiles and his machine guns narrowly missing his father's plane.
Jack was now the one being tailed, trying his best to shake Jay, but nothing worked.
He had even decelerated and looped behind him, a basic, but perhaps the most effective skill a fighter pilot could perform, but the second he started looping; Jay had decelerated and looped with him, making sure to stay behind him the entire time.
Switching to his special weapons Jay waited to gain a solid lock on his dad's plane. Watching the target reticule circle around the center of his HUD, Jay narrowed his eyes while he continued to pursue his father through every turn he made until the guidance system locked onto their target and Jay fired three impact paint missiles at his father's jet.
Jack evaded the missiles by making a sharp left turn, but Jay stayed right on him. The second his father began turning Jay was on him firing his machine guns scoring several hits on the tail of his dad's Wyvernn.
"Don't think that's going to be enough to take me down Jay" Jack laughed "I've got more than enough fight in me".
"No" Jay told him in a calm, cool tone "You don't".
Locking on to his dad once again, Jay fired four XLAA missiles and immediately switch to his regular missiles before firing his machine guns in the direction his dad was turning making him turn back the other way and right back into a missile lock.
Firing two normal sidewinder missiles, Jay scored a double hit on his father's Wyvernn and immediately strafed his left wing with gunfire to make sure the damage had been done.
"This isn't over yet Jay" Jack panted "You've still got a ways to go before you beat me".
Jay broke away from his father and flew away at top speed, Jack watched him fly away and had the same idea, this dogfight was going to end with one final run.
The two Wyvernns were football fields apart before they turned around. Now flying right at each other the two pilots targeted the other and moved their thumbs over the missile release button at the top of the flight stick.
Ten thousand feet apart and closing fast both Jack and Jay squinted their eyes as they drew closer to lock on range.
Five thousand feet and the two pilots were now locked onto each other, but neither one of them fired or broke away.
Two thousand feet, almost too far within effective missile range and still neither pilot budged an inch.
One thousand feet, any closer and the fighters would pass each other before the rockets on the missiles could even ignite.
Both pilots fired a single missile each before trying to break away.
Both Jay and Jack performed a complete barrel roll to avoid the oncoming missile. The missiles passed right by the edge of the fighter's wings as they spun around, mere inches from grazing them.
In mid roll, Jay jerked his flightstick back and turned his Wyvernn around getting a lock on his father and firing another missile immediately followed by four XLAAs and a strafing of gunfire all of which were dead on target.
The sudden impact from so many paint missiles caused minor damage to the fighter forcing Jack to break away and forfeit the fight.
"Captain Masterson has been shot down" the control tower operator announced "The exhibition match is over. I repeat the exhibition match is over both pilots RTB".
Jay followed his father back to the air base to make sure he landed safely before landing himself.
After his Wyvernn touched down and came to a full stop, Jay leaned back in his seat to catch his breath and run the events of the exhibition through his head.
Opening his eyes, Jay took a deep breath before opening the canopy of his Wyvernn and climbing down to be met by Kira, Hideki and Captain Kavai.
"I can't believe it, you actually did it!" Kavai said happily as she hugged him along with Kira.
"I knew you could do it" Kira whispered to him.
"Way to go Jay" Hideki said holding his fist out.
Jay had an arrogant, but well deserved smirk on his face as he bumped fists with Hideki "Easy day guys".
Looking behind Captain Kavai, Jay saw his father walking over to him.
Stepping away from his friends, Jay walked over to meet his dad who slowly extended his hand out to him.
"Good job son, I'm proud of you" he said after Jay grabbed his hand and shook it.
Jay didn't say anything to his father, there wasn't a need for words. After nodding his head, Jay turned to walk away and return to the locker room to change.
Three hours removed from the exhibition match and Jay was standing alone at a street corner, under a single streetlight.
"You were really great out there today" a female voice said from his right.
Jay looked over to Caitlyn and nodded "Thanks, I'm still shaking from all of it".
Caitlyn stepped out of the shadows and into the streetlight, now standing next to Jay "I'm happy that you asked me out" she said hesitantly "If it's alright with you, I'd like to just sit under the moonlight since it's such a clear night".
Jay nodded his head to the side "Alright, that's cool with me".
Caitlyn slowly reached her hand out to Jay's, but hesitated just as she was about to grab it, her nervousness showed.
Noticing her hand moving, Jay gently opened his and grabbed hers, surprising the princess. "There's a lake nearby with a dock if you'd like to head there".
Caitlyn nodded with a small smile before they crossed the street and began walking down the large hill toward the nearby lake.
"Thank you Jay" Caitlyn said quietly.
"For what?" he asked her.
Caitlyn looked up to him and smiled "For not treating me like a normal person. It's nice to not be treated as a princess all the time".
"You're one of my friends Caitlyn" he told her "Princess, Queen, King, Prime Minister or President. It wouldn't matter what kind of title you held, you're someone important to me".
Caitlyn slowly rested her head against Jay's shoulder "Still, it's nice to be normal for a change, so thank you".
Jay and Caitlyn continued their way to the lake, under the light of the silver moon.