Author's note: I first posted this in 2007-2008, but then took it down because I didn't have the time to finish it. Now I'm inspired to write again and I'm reposting it. I hope you all enjoy it. My story is patterned more towards realism so some things that apply in the game won't apply to my story. For example, no fighter jet can carry 50 all-purpose missiles. I will actually look up the real capabilities and arsenals of every fighter jet before entering it into my story. In case you are wondering, yes, I have all the Ace Combat games except for the second one and I have beaten all of them except for the second one.

Extra Note: I know this is the Ace Combat section and it has nothing to do with the real world, but this is the most active place that has anything to do with fighter pilots so I placed this here for all of you who love to read about combat in the skies. Also, I am not a politically correct person and my story involves religious issues so you have been warned. I am not trying to offend those who believe differently. None of what I write is meant to be offensive. What I believe is written in my story and this is just the way I perceive things. I welcome constructive criticism and if at any time you feel the need to flame me, go ahead.

Extra Extra Note: This is not to be copied or used by anyone, anywhere in anyway without my consent.

Extra Extra Extra Note: Some of you may remember that I posted this up a while ago and took it down two times already. Military technology advances very quickly and I need to keep updating my story to incorporate the new weapons and updates. Also, I am a very busy man and don't have a lot of time to modify these chapters or the story. Please bear with me. I will, however, point out that if you review it will help me to modify my chapters faster.

"Draw me not without reason, Sheath me not without honor." -A Naval Officer's Manual of the Sword

CHAPTER ONE: "Skirmish"

Date: March 4, 2013

Time: 1400 hours, 2:00 P.M. (Beijing time)

Location: 30,000 feet over the Taiwan Strait.

Cruising through the air with the sound of thunder trailing behind them, the two war birds of the United States Air Force continued along their assigned course of patrol. The sharp edges of the Raptor's sleek airframe sliced through the clouds like a hot knife though butter. Their skin was a shade of dark gray and their triangular wings gracefully rode the wind. Rays of sunlight reflected off their radar absorbent cockpits.

The sun shined brightly and the clouds were thick. The calm sea was an exotic shade of blue and appeared endless. First Lieutenant Rowdy Coughlin, callsign "Scorch," could only describe the day as beautiful and he couldn't love his job anymore than he already did.

In his cockpit he had his flight suit dawned and his oxygen mask securely in place. Only his green eyes and well tanned skin were visible behind a darkly tinted visor. They were confident. In his late twenties, he was lean and athletic, the archetype of fighter pilot.

His Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), a helmet with a visor that reflected critical data in the form of green light, displayed his airspeed, altitude, a horizon line, a compass, bank and slip indicators. It read 450 knots, 30,000 feet, zero degrees of climb, east bound, zero degrees of bank and slip.

"This is Killer One-one to K-mart, my scope is clear," he said over the radio to his Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) operator on a far away E-3 Sentry that packed the sensors and the officers necessary to carry out C2BM (command and control, battle management functions).

Usually a response to his calls was immediate, but for some reason the guy on the other end was taking his time. Coughlin was about to repeat his last transmission, when the AWACS operator responded.

"K-mart to Killer One-one, we have an unknown contact south bound. Your vector zero-nine-zero. Range one-five miles. Estimate five-zero-zero knots plus. Negative IFF (Identification Friend or Foe). Check it out," said the young voice on the other end.

"Roger that, K-mart. Moving to intercept," replied Scorch, before steadily altering his course in the designated direction.

Taiwan had allowed the U.S. to keep a small military presence there, but only because of their fear that China might invade. Communist China, which claimed the island of Taiwan as its own, had warned that they would invade if the democratic government of Taiwan ceased talks or declared itself free. Taiwan was moving in that direction gradually and the more they moved in that direction the closer the possibility of war became. Taiwan had already ceased talks, but did not declare freedom from China. Coughlin feared that the bogeys might be Chinese fighters.

"Think they're fighters?" asked his wing man, Second Lieutenant Ben Sandrage.

"There's only one way to find out," replied Scorch.

Ben Sandrage, callsign "Punk," was a good wingman, despite his attitude problem, and Scorch didn't mind flying with him. He had earned the name "Punk" when his attitude had caused higher ranking officers to almost ground him for a sour comment he made. One of the high-rank officers said that he "acted like a punk."

Scorch's radar was set to Track While Scan (TWS) mode. The TWS range versus azimuth display showed the bogey location, velocity vector, mach number, and altitude for the designated priority target on one of his multifunctional displays, screens in his cockpit that display various information. The APG-77 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) housed in the nose of his Raptor made the scanning and tracking capabilities far faster and more powerful than any other radar in the U.S. military arsenal. Soon enough two dots showed up on radar. They were heading in a direction perpendicular to his path, mach .9, 25,000 feet.

"You getting these?" asked Scorch.

"Contact twenty left," replied Punk.

Scorch immediately got back into contact with his AWACS operator again.

"This is Killer One-one to K-mart, we have radar contact. Requesting I.D. confirmation," he said.

"K-mart to Killer One-one, we are unable to confirm. We need you to visually I.D. them. If the target is hostile, your orders are to not fire unless fired upon," responded the voice on the other end.

"Roger that, K-mart," replied Coughlin, before ending communication.

Scorch prepared himself for something dangerous. The term "visually I.D." meant getting in close enough for him to see them with his naked eyes and that was all the range needed for a close in dogfight, assuming that the bogey was hostile and a fighter. All his past training came to mind.

He turned off his radar since having it on would automatically betray his position to the bogeys. With the radar off the Raptor's stealth technology would make them vanish from the bogey's radar.

As they moved in closer he began to see a few tiny dots about ten miles ahead and below him moving from his left to his right. They were flying tightly in a straight line and moving in a direction perpendicular to Punk and Scorch's path. The formation helped hide the number of actual aircraft from radar and it was then that the two Raptor pilots realized that there were actually four aircraft in flight. They were definitely fighters.

"I have a visual on four bogeys, but I can't make out any of the markings on their planes, or their make. We need to close in," said Scorch.

Once the dots crossed their paths the two pilots gently lowered the nose of their F-22s into a steady descent and turned to match their direction with that of the bogies'. Scorch watched as the altitude indicator on his JHMCS dropped by 5,000 feet. Once they had reached their desired altitude they leveled out the nose again. They were a good distance behind the formation now and greater detail on the bogey planes was able to be noticed.

Their long cockpits encased two individuals in each plane. Two large turbofan engines propelled them through the air. Their back-swept wings and wide tail fins guided and balanced them on their way. They were skinned with a pale slate color and a white nose. On each wing was a red star with a stripe on each side outlined in yellow. Their markings proudly bared that of the People's Liberation Army Air Force. They were four Su-30MKK Super Flankers.

Scorch immediately got into contact with his AWACS operator again.

"Killer One-one to K-mart, confirm contact as four Chinese Flankers. They are heading across the Taiwan Straight and into Taiwanese airspace. Requesting orders," said

"K-mart to Killer, we are relaying your situation to a higher command. Stand by for orders," said the voice on the other end.

"Roger that, K-mart."

While the information was being sent to some moron higher up in the food chain, Scorch began to get a little nervous. The Flanker pilots probably didn't even know he was there, courtesy of stealth technology. The thought of them being startled didn't seem like a good thing at the moment.

Scorch took the opportunity to check his weapons. He pressed the desired button on one of his multifunctional displays and the armament was shown. Since he was on patrol he was lightly armed with two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles that had been modified to lock on the enemy before launching, unlike previous versions, and 480 rounds of 20mm Vulcan cannon ammunition. Ben had the same load out.

For all Scorch and Punk knew, the pilots could have spotted them already and be plotting to attack them. Or the pilots probably had an AWACS of their own and their guy on the other end was giving them information on the American pilot's positions. He assumed that they had their radars off. The wait was maddening. Scorch examined the under wings of the Flankers and saw an almost full load of ordinance. They were far more heavily armed than his Raptor was. "All the better if they want to fight," he thought.

Just then his AWACS operator came in. "K-mart to Killer, you are to warn them that they are in dangerous proximity of Taiwanese airspace and they need to return to their native airspace immediately," said the operator.

"Roger that, K-mart," answered an irritated Scorch. "I should have known some politician would have us play the role of a sitting duck," he thought to himself. The world opinion of America was not doing so well at this time, so politicians often stepped into military affairs and changed the tactics of combat. If Americans fired the first shot against an enemy, America would be viewed as an aggressor and thus worsen the view of America. Because of this, politicians wanted Americans to always take the first hit and appear as if fighting in self defense. Military leaders and frontline service men, such as Scorch, hated it. The tactic of "only fire unless fired upon" was getting Americans killed. In Scorch's opinion, Chinese military pilots should stay away from Taiwan in the first place. If they did not, then screw them.

"This is such crap," stated Punk, "Next time they should just tell us to fly into their gun sights and see if one of us gets shot."

"Orders are orders. Just stay calm and prepare yourself for anything," replied Scorch.

Both of the Raptor pilots increased their thrust and moved in closer to pull up beside the Flanker squadron's left. Once on their nine o'clock, they slowed down and tried to match their speed with the Chinese fighters. They were even able to see greater detail: the pilots in the cockpit and their Russian-made cue ball-looking helmets. Green oxygen masks concealed their faces. The lead Chinese pilot's head jerked towards the two Americans once he got sight of them. Narrow eyes behind a darkly tinted visor watched them intently.

"Think they understand English?" asked Punk.

"They'll probably get the idea," replied Scorch before switching to an open channel on his radio and clearing his throat. "Attention, Chinese pilots, you are in dangerous proximity to Taiwanese airspace and you must leave the area immediately! Lower your gear if you understand," he warned.

He asked this because on most planes lowering the landing gear automatically shut off the weapon systems.

In response, the trailing Su-30 suddenly broke formation, cut his throttle, and slid into a position right behind the two Raptors.

Punk heard the warning tone in his cockpit that signaled a missile was locked onto him and immediately rolled left and made a hard bank away from Scorch and the other Su-30s. The bank caused him to lose altitude and speed and put tremendous G(Gravity)-forces on his body. Scorch watched as he swung out into a wide turn.

"This guy's got me spiked!" Punk shouted in his radio.

The Su-30 followed him in the turn and kept its lock on Punk's Raptor. Punk suddenly switched his direction, rolling right, and pulled into another hard bank. The maneuver caused him to lose more altitude and bleed off more speed. The Su-30, again, followed him into the bank, its missile lock unshaken.

Scorch immediately chased after the two fighters and maneuvered behind the Su-30 that was locked onto his wingman. He selected one of his Sidewinders, but did not arm it.

"Killer One-one to K-mart, one of the bogies has acquired a missile lock onto my wingman! Requesting permission to engage!" He shouted over the radio.

Punk swiftly hit his air brake, cutting his speed, and again he reversed his turn. The instant drop in his speed caused the Su-30 to come zooming at him.

The Chinese pilot almost overshot him and quickly performed a cobra maneuver. While maintaining his same heading and direction he decreased his speed, activated his airbrake, and pulled his nose straight up. His plane began to slow down to a point where it almost appeared suspended in mid-air. The wind striking against its wings caused the plane to buffet and forced it upward, gaining little altitude. The decrease in speed allowed Punk to shoot away from him in his turn. Right then the Chinese pilot pushed down on the stick, leveled the nose, and banked into a hard left turn with full afterburner to follow Punk. The whole maneuver took only one and a half seconds.

"This is K-mart, Negative! You are not to fire unless you are fired upon!"

Both of the pilot's sudden decrease in speed from the maneuvers caused Scorch to almost over shoot both of them. To keep a position behind the Flanker he had to pull up and gain altitude, then roll inverted and pull into a downward turn after him.

"Scorch, get down here and get this guy off me!" Punk shouted.

Scorch could hear the missile warning tone wailing for its life in Punk's cockpit. He sensed in Punk's voice the panic that he was holding back.

"Hang in there! I'm on his six!" he replied.

Just then, the Flanker pilot fired. A heat-seeking PL-8 missile shot off from under his wing and tore through the sky towards Punk. The Raptor pilot began launching flares, but the effort was futile.

"Scorch!" Punk cried out to his wingman, before impact.

For Scorch, time seemed to slow down and he was able to see the nose of the missile smash right into Punk's cockpit. An orange fireball engulfed the F-22 and the plane began to spiral down towards the sea leaving a trail of black smoke in its wake. Millions of dollars worth of stealth coated metals went tumbling out of the sky, along with them his invaluable and irreplaceable wingman.

Time resumed its normal course. Sensations of fear and excitement overwhelmed Scorch.

"This is Killer One-one, we have been engaged! Punk is down!" he shouted into his radio, while simultaneously arming his Sidewinder. The side bay doors opened, exposing the Sidewinder's heat seeker to the enemy. It didn't take long for the infra-red (IR) seeker to lock on the Flanker's exhaust. As a result, a targeting box with a diamond appeared over the Flanker on his JHMCS.

"Fox two!"

He immediately fired his own missile. The roar from the launch of his Sidewinder was followed by the groan of the side bay doors closing instantly after launch. He watched as its contrail swiftly made its way towards the Su-30. The Chinese pilot immediately released a shower of flares and banked away to disappear into a nearby cloud. The missile followed him into the cloud and Scorch saw a flash on the inside.

Just then his cockpit was filled with the missile alert tone. His Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) picked up the missile coming from his left and displayed it as a tiny dot coming towards him on his other multifunctional display. He ejected chaff and flare and made a hard left bank. He looked up in his cockpit and his eyes fell onto the incoming projectile five-hundred meters at his nine o'clock.

Looking into the face of the missile made him feel cornered. He felt as if he was staring into the eyes of some vicious beast about to prey on him. He watched as the missile headed straight for him before quickly steering its way into one of the clouds of chaff behind him and detonating a harmless distance away from the Raptor.

Scorch wasn't allowed a split second to revel in his relief. The other three Su-30s were quickly coming at him in tight formation from above on his nine o'clock, their 30mm cannons spewing green tracer rounds at him. Scorch continued to turn into them. Not even half way into his bank, the Flankers overshot him and he reversed his turn. The Chinese pilots split their formation in several directions. Scorch slid right behind the nearest one and selected his other Sidewinder missile. The side bay opened up to allow the Sidewinder to acquire a lock on.

"Fox two!" he called and pulled the trigger.

The missile's engine ignited and sent it tearing through the sky towards the Flanker. The Su-30 began releasing its flares, but it was to no avail. The missile went up the left tail pipe of the Flanker and the entire back end of the aircraft was blown apart. Pale slate colored metals formed a cloud in the sky and the remaining front half of the aircraft began to spiral out of control. Amidst the flames his eyes were able to catch the two rocket exhausts of the occupants' ejection seats.

"Splash one!" he called out; a smirk appearing on his face.

His only weapon left was his Vulcan cannon with 480 rounds of 20mm ammunition. The Vulcan had a firing rate of 6,000 rounds a minute. 480 rounds were almost enough for a mere 5 second trigger squeeze.

Scorch leveled the wings a little and let his eyes graze the sky. In the midst of all the blue he saw a bit of pale slate out of the corner of his eye. An Su-30 was on his five o'clock and quickly closing in on him.

Scorch began to turn inside him and the Flanker's cannon went ablaze. He could see the tracers slice through the sky and fall behind him. The Flanker pilot began pulling hard trying to get his nose pointed in front Scorch's Raptor to lead him with the deadly stream of gun fire.

The American saw thick cloud cover below him and decided to use an old dogfighting tactic.

He lowered his nose down and dived into the cloud cover. White engulfed his canopy and blinded him. The Flanker followed behind and was blinded as well. While Scorch was in the cloud he hit the brakes and cut his speed. The Flanker flew right over him and passed inches away from colliding with his Raptor. Even in the thickness of the cloud Scorch was able to see his adversary's two exhausts as he went by. The roar of the engines was followed by a wave of jet wash hitting his plane, shaking it violently.

When the Chinese pilot exited the cloud he was surprised to find the situation reversed and the F-22 behind him. The Su-30 pulled into a hard left bank. Scorch hit the afterburners to regain his speed. At the same time, he selected his gun, and followed his enemy into the bank.

He flipped on his radar and set it to Gunsight Acquisition (GACQ) mode, which displayed the target nearest to his aircraft after a scan of volume projected off his nose. He received a lock on the Flanker and a bore site appeared on his JHMCS.

The Raptor's bank rate exceeded that of the Flanker, so Scorch merely had to be patient and wait for his bore sight to catch up with the Communist fighter, which was easier said than done.

The turn began to strain G's onto his body. He felt the blood begin to rush from his head and his field of vision slowly began to narrow. He felt his G-suit (Gravity Suit) squeeze his thighs as he desperately flexed his central muscles in an attempt to push the oxygenated blood back up to his head. Once the bore sight slowly crawled onto his enemy he squeezed the trigger.

"Guns! Guns! Guns!" he called out.

So much blood had been drained from Scorch's head that he was nearly blind and barely able to see his stream of tracers fly into the Flanker's path. Several impacted and tore off the right wing. The Su-30 fell out of control and went tumbling toward the water below. The pilot and his Weapons System Officer (WSO) ejected.

Scorch leveled his wings and the G's let up on him. He felt the tremendous weight lift off his body and his vision returned once the blood was restored to his head. For a moment he felt light headed, but he quickly shook it off.

He gave a weak and withered "Splash two."

His JHMCS, now without a target, displayed a funnel indicating where his bullets would go at his current flight path. He checked his ammo again, 380 rounds left. He was about to start looking for the other Flanker when suddenly a spray of tracers whizzed by him from ahead. Immediately, he recieved a radar lock ahead of him and his JHMCS switched to a bore sight.

The Su-30 was coming at him head on with its cannon blazing. Scorch was startled, but his training took over. He aimed his nose toward the enemy and lit his own cannon, diving right into his enemy's attack. They were both coming head on towards each other with their guns ablaze, the distance rapidly decreasing every instant.

The Flanker appeared like a blur as it passed over Scorch. He banked around to see what had become of his enemy. He had come to find a wounded Su-30 tumbling out of control toward the body of water below. The canopy was littered with bullet holes and stained with blood. The pilot and his weapons systems officer did not escape.

After checking his own aircraft for damage and finding none, Scorch again checked his ammo, 268 rounds left. Just then a warning tone went off in his cockpit. He checked his six o'clock and spotted an Su-30. At first he thought there must have been another Flanker that he didn't see, but then he realized that the right vertical tail fin of the Flanker had been damaged and was torn in half. Scorch's first missile must have clipped its target, but did not destroy it. This pilot on his six was the very same guy that had killed Punk.

His heart burned with a desire for revenge.

He pulled into a hard left bank and the Flanker followed. Scorch began jinking, making several turns in various directions trying to shake off the Flanker on his tail, but no matter where he turned the Flanker pilot showed cunning skill in using his energy to remain behind him. A missile warning tone went off in Scorch's cockpit to signify a missile launch. He immediately rolled inverted, pulled into a dive, and ejected chaff and flares. The missile went for the flares and exploded narrowly missing him.

Suddenly Scorch saw several tracers fly by his side. The Su-30 had followed him into the dive. The Raptor pilot pulled out of the dive and banked hard right into a layer of cloud that rested in the sky. The Flanker kept his pursuit and followed him into the blinding white.

The American pulled up out of the cloud and activated his airbrake to slow down. He let his eyes skim the layers of white in search of the Chinese fighter, but he found nothing. Just then he heard several loud noises, as if he was inside a car and someone had thrown a thousand metal BBs at it. His plane shook violently and he was jarred around in his cockpit.

Scorch tried to pull the stick back, but nothing happened. He was no longer in control of his plane. Bitching Betty, the automated female voice that provides audible in-cockpit warnings, began nagging him in his ear to eject. He began to spin down into the cloud and went through it tumbling towards the ocean. G's began shoving him all around in his cockpit. A quick glance behind him revealed that his left wing was gone and both of his engines were on fire. The fuselage of his Raptor was littered with bullet wounds that bled hydraulic fluid. He looked ahead to find the sea approaching fast. His altitude was 5,000 feet and descending quickly. There wasn't time to think. He reached down to his ejection handle and pulled.

The canopy was blown off and small rockets under his seat launched him up into the sky. The wind hit his body like a flood. His right arm was blown around the back of the seat and he heard it break in several places. The sound of the air blowing by filled his hearing. He tumbled towards the water below. The scent of the ocean was about him. The forces of wind and gravity ruled him and played with him as if he were a rag doll. The world seemed like a blur of chaos and disorder constantly spinning out of anyone's control. His good arm found his parachute line and he pulled. His seat left his body. In an instant it all came to a sudden stop when his parachute opened and he began a peaceful decent towards the water.

The Su-30 descended from the clouds, circling around to confirm the kill. At the same time the pilot appeared as if to be taunting the American. Marked on the side of the nose was the number 001 painted in dark blue with a tiger's paw print in crimson red, the claws drawn.

"I'll never forget you," Scorch whispered under his breath.

The Flanker pilot only gave him a nod with his head before he concealed himself back into the clouds, heading north back to China, back to his home.

Red Crown: Be sure to review and tell me what you think. Usually the more reviews I get the more inspired I am to right the next chapter and the sooner I update. Please forgive me for the new download of information. For every acronym I use I will put a key at the end of the chapter:

Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS)

Heads Up Display (HUD)

Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)

C2BM (command and control, battle management functions)

IFF (Identification Friend or Foe)

Track While Scan (TWS)

Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA)

infra-red (IR)

RWR (Radar Warning Receiver)

Gunsight Acquisition (GACQ)

Gs (Gravity Forces)

Weapons System Officer (WSO)