This Chapter covered the Wardog squadron's storyline, especially Dan. No major changes in the plot, though maybe something will be different according to my tastes, namely, characters and the aircraft they use.


Infinite Stratos

-Unsung War of the Shattered Sky-

Disclaimer:

Izuru Yumizuru & Okiura

Namco

And everyone else!


Operation 02: Legacy of the Demon Lord Part 1


It's been nine years since the conflict known as Belkan war. One country, against the whole continent. Triumphant at first, defeated soundly later.

War breaks out one after another in this world, and the same pattern of conflict currently happening on the far side of ocean, United States of Euro-Asia, also known as USEA.

Osea is a large, triumphant democratic, capitalistic country. Surrounded by four ocean and having a rich landscape was one of the reason.

Long history and plenty of wars brought it to its present state. So much that the entire continent is named after it.

In 2001, President Vincent Harling was elected, and is notorious for his anti-war sentiment. He made a swift move, and is supported by the major part of population, military budget was cut off and those surplus funding were spent in various project and development.

It was the scar left by the Belkan war that helped his effort, and it was not fruitless as the result.

24 September 2004, Cape Landers, Osea

"[Red Alert!]"

"[Command room to Wardog Squadron; We have leakers, aircraft type unknown, crossing the border at Cape Landers bearing 280 to 302. Captain Bartlett, your group is the only one close enough to make the intercept.]"

"Aw, gimme a break; I'm babysittin' nuggets up here!"

Indeed, it was supposed to be routine maneuver training for the newly-appointed nuggets -as the captain call the newbie pilots- it couldn't get more wrong than this. Multiple bogeys breached through the Osean airspace at high speed, vector indicating the Sand Island itself.

Captain Jack Bartlett frowned angrily and muttered something incomperhensible, but he followed the orders anyway "Genette, are you alright?"

"[I'm…okay, maybe]" came the reply, in that the person in the backseat is nto even a military person, it's justified for the captain to be concerned.

"Baker, Svenson, go trail and stay close. The three of us will go high and engage the bandits. All other aircraft stay low and out of the fight."

Genette the embedded reporter gasped as Capt. Bartlett jinked the stick hard; three aircraft climbed fast but steady, toward the location as pointed by the command control.

"[Baker here, control, I don't see the leakers]"

"[Captain! They went for offensive! The nuggets-]" came a shrieking female voice, followed by several soundless explosions down below as multiple Tigers shredded into pieces by missile salvo.

"[This is control, we advise correction of course immediately to altitude-]"

"Shut up! You son of a bitch!" Battlet screamed as he performed a hard Split-S maneuver down, preparing his entire arsenal. Genette barely hold his internal organ inside, unable to even scream in panic. Baker followed, but Svenson engaged another hostile group in the higher altitude.

That morning became a tragic slaughter, no less than eight nuggets and two aggressors fall victim to the mysterious assaulters. As Genette put it, because the command had misplaced some zeroes. TO be precise, most of those bandits flew much lower than the HQ informed, right into the group of panicking trainees' plane.

Svenson was killed in the high sky, and Baker failed an emergency landing, crashed right into a parked aircraft.

"I'm sorry about this"

"Your apologize is misplaced, sir" Genette honestly and firmly said "You have done much"

"Not really, else less people will be killed"

Genette can understand Bartlett's guilt though so he switched the topic a little/

"By the way, that one trainee in the number five, she's really amazing"

"I can't bear to watch" Bartlett's expression turned for the worse, and he simply slammed his helmet to the runway, made everyone present frightened to the teeth. Genette fele like to slap his own face, but just silence himself instead.

Except for two people

The only surviving trainee is a young female of Usean heritage, Kei Nagase. Her light complexion does not hide the unnaturalness of her pale expression.

Dan Gotanda crossed his arms as he sat in the xoxkpit of F-5E he supposed to use in the afternoon training, his eyes firmly set on the mountainous wreckage just beside it, so close.

When Baker's plane coming in hot, he and the maintenance crew quickly fled for safety, and boy they did find it. Dan's plane, minus the singed paint, is untouched as well.

"Nagase, you keep flying like that and you'll die real soon"

"I won't die sir" was the sentence came from her thin lips; Bartlett just huffed and bailed out, apparently heading right to the control tower.

Genette raised his eyebrow, but otherwise didn't ask any question and took a close-up picture of her. Smiling.

"Congratulations for your survival" he said, Nagase looked at him with questioning eyes "And I'm truly sorry, I can't even imagine how much you go through up there"

Nagase simply sighed; Dan was one hell of a straightforward, laid back man. Ever since they met, she has been accustomed to his antics, particularly his playboy-wannabe attitude.

But now, that side of him is not present, all she saw is a war-hardened young air force pilot.

Nagase had heard that Dan use to live in Ustio, and present during the horrific tragedy that is Belkan war. Sure, he had yet to taste fighting enemies, but he may actually experienced worse thing, being a helpless child in war-torn country, Nagase won't know if he didn't tell anything, and even after knowing him for no less than four years, she still not dare to ask.

"It's not pretty" she delivered an understatement, which seems to satisfy him.

He shook his medium-length natural red hair to remove the sticky sweat coming from the heat of the smoking wreckage, it was way longer before, but the long hair violated both military regulation and safety protocol, he had it cut down swiftly on his graduation.

Genette return with a disappointment on his face, his camera has been confiscated and the Polaroid has been subsequently analyzed then destroyed.

Worse, he was held captive in the island. Officially, the engagement never happened, those bastards in the high command almost tempted Bartlett to kill them.

25 September 2004, Sand Island Air Force Base, Sand Island, Osea.

The pilots gathered somewhere around 0800 hours in the next morning; the location is the briefing room, comprised of Bartlett and several other trainees.

The old war hero with signature, eternal stubble look at the ceiling, taking a deep breath to calm himself before straightened his gesture.

"Listen up people"

"We're quite short on people and as you know, the mess that is yesterday, HQ still going at it" Bartlett coughed a little "I said: Gimme some experienced pilot or let me do what I should with the nuggets, they choose the second, and so, what's your answer?"

However, the only one qualified so far is none other than three pilots with the title of Second Lieutenant, and so they sat on the front row, with younger trainees sat in the back.

Dan Gotanda, Kei Nagase, and the last one, Alvin H. Davenport.

Dan Gotanda, 24, top dog of his class, with distinctly Asian look and even more distinct red hair, which he claimed (and to some people, proved) all natural. Typical of a man of his heritage, he is moderately tall but rather slim build.

Kei Nagase, 24, likewise is one of the best in her generation. Like Dan, she is distinct for being an Asian, but not only about physical features. Woman of principles, they said.

Alvin J. Davenport, unlike his Asian contemporaries, is bulkier with perpetual comical look and constantly preaching about the might of rock n roll. He also unusually old for a newbie, at the age of 29.

Davenport and Dan reacted, quite inappropriately with the exclamation "Aw sheet"

Nagase look on both of them weirdly as if nothing wrong with the statement.

"What, Nagase! We're put into active duty you know? Plus the training from hell and-"

Jack Bartlett just smirked mischievously, he never been a by-the-book officer as far as his service history can describe.

The trainees all looked at him like a father figure, no matter how inappropriate. Still, he by no means incompetent, and Genette once heard that Bartlett can turn the greenest of them into fearsome pilot, the very reason he came to this secluded place is to watch him play his magic.

Well, at least, until Bartlett lost that chance yesterday.

Nagase is one of those can be called fangirls, but not the kind of annoying, chirping one. She looked at him and is motivated by him, and fully trusted him as her superior. Dan or Davenport, never mind always doing their antics with Bartlett, never disagreed with his actual accomplishment either.

"Forget it, we're dead, but at least, I'll die an ace" Dan shrugged, besides, did he REALLY have any choice?

Davenport clenched his hand exaggeratingly like an angry kid, much to everyone's laughter. And he's supposed to be the oldest among them all!

"Well, play time is over, let's get started with this training from hell Davenport always talking about" Nagase sheepishly noted, as if she enjoyed his suffering "Nagase, you're not helping!" he wailed in response.

"Nagase, you will be my number two, gotta keep an eye on you, or who knows what you'll get yourself into."

At that statement, her sharp eyes widened in shock, play time is over indeed. Even Davenport decided to shut up.

"As for you two, you decide"

Dan pointed a dime "Heads I win tail you lose"

"Okay then-What?"


"Then let's go for the practical lesson, hangar number 1!"

"Aren't we using Tigers?" Davenport confused as they passed the third hangar where their usual plane is stored, continue all the way to first hangar.

"Tigers? I won't repeat the same mistake, you all going in Vipers Block 50 Plus, satisfied?"

"What?! Cool man-oh wait a minute! I sense something bad"

Block 50 Plus leaved the factory two years ago, and is a major improvement over the original Block 50. Originally, it was brought to be used by the aggressors; however, yesterday incident changed everything.

"You mean-" Nagase gulped, managed to keep her emotion from surging as realization came to her "… I understand sir"

"You'll all go fully loaded, fully armed, and wait until something bad happens, then we'll take action" Bartlett affirmed seriously, he wanted his nuggets to have as many advantage as possible, besides, the top brass already gave him full authority.

Davenport put a palm to his face, looking at Dan as if he's asking for support, but what came out is a rejection "What? He's right"

"I hate you!"

"Okay, those people listed, head to the simulator room. First and foremost, Hans Grim"

"Me?" Said person jumped in response, a blond-haired young man in his late teens who is even shorter than Nagase.

"If there's any other Hans Grimm please raises hand" Bartlett said; eyes unmoving from the poor trainee "Are you an idiot? Of course I mean you!"

"No, I mean yes" Grimm had a red tinge painted on his cheek, of course Bartlett meant it sarcastically. He is the only Grimm he trained.

"Here's the list, Grimm, bring everyone to the room"

Bartlett cracked his hand, looking at his dark green camouflaged (if you can call it that) Phantom IIG Wild Weasel type, there's a lot of things needed to be said about having a ground attack plane* in a small island in the middle of nowhere, but Bartlett never actually think on it, he simply like the 9 year old vintage.

"Hah, I wonder if he can perform with this monster as good as you are" Dan mumbled as he studied the massive aircraft inch by inch, trying not to miss the detail.

"He?"

"A childhood friend from Ustio, we're in the same school until Belkan War ended, he is in ISAF Naval Aviation" Dan smirked in response as his instructor approached, both of them sat on an opposing chair "He saw his first combat sortie five days ago, with a spare F-4E, it goes pretty well against Erusian bombers and Mirages until he ran out of fuel mid flight"

"Gas guzzler, figures" as one of the most experienced pilot with the flying brick, Bartlett was not surprised.

Shook his head in response, Dan once again added "No, apparently he hadn't finished the fuel loading process before forced to take off. The details are of course, classified, but from the way he spoke, it's likely manslaughter"

"Fun stuff, I wonder when that war will end. As far as I can remember, Continental War already more than one year long and still ongoing"

Bartlett looked at the young pilot, he's so cheerful and calm, and yet, his eyes… his eyes have that hint of burden hidden inside.

"By the way, do you know his insignia?"

"Mobius One, apparently"

"A flight lead? Now that's new, aren't you supposed to be at similar age?"

"No, he hasn't even got his squad yet, the 'One' part is a pun of his name in our native language, Ichi"

Their attention was drawn to Genette, still depressed due to the actions of the base commander Perrault. He just did his job didn't he? Civilian always been the worst victim in the war. Hell, there's no war so to speak here in Sand Island, at least, not yet… but Genette already suffer.

One can just imagine his suffering if this become all out engagement.

"Dude, cheer up!" Dan greet him with open arms as if he expecting a hug "That bastard Perrault, he will let you go very, very soon"

Genette simply scoffed at his statement, but not in a hostile manner. "Yeah, you're right. How long can he hold me hostage anyway?"

"Well, as soon as they sorted this mess really" Bartlett said "While Gotanda was right about our honorable commander" Bartlett put an emphasis, this time sarcastically "There's good people in the higher echelon, trust me"

"Else Osea won't exist this long, sure"

"That's the spirit, then put yer ass on that plane, Gotanda" the old captain pointed as several towing vehicle pulled the majestic, shiny new planes out of the hangar.

Genette swore that Dan was almost squealing as he ran toward the plane with helmet in his armpit "Yessire!"

When Dan almost reached the plane, he was greeted by a bald, somewhat overweight man in his fifties.

The man in blue mechanic dress is Peter N. Beagle, though most pilots and younger mechanics simply called him 'Old man' or 'Pops', who, just like Bartlett, is seen as father/mentor figure.

"So, Gotanda, ready to ride this little lady?"

"I wouldn't really call this gorgeous lady 'little'" Dan's finger exploring the 016 insignia near the aircraft's nose, it was his pilot number. There's also Wardog emblem on the tail, he was indeed an active pilot starting now. What caught his focus even more, however, is the payload. "Holy crap, we're carrying AMRAAMs?!"

"Off the shelf, my son. The payload is Two Sidewinders L, Two Sparrows P, and two AMRAAMs C, and the usual Vulcan guns" Pops laughed at his excitement "All ordnance for most ATA situation, though you're not carrying bombs"

"What? They sent us state of the art aircraft but not missile?"

"Well, I once ask that question too, the answer is really vague. On the upside, we're getting lots of ammo as the result" Pops pat the young pilot's shoulder "You can't fight war without logistic"

"Assuming they're reliable, sure" Dan deadpanned; the only thing he worried about is the Sparrows, though. Their reliability is not really outstanding.


Four Birds flew over the Cape Landers in a tight formation, once or twice correcting their flight path while training their synchronized maneuver in the process.

An F-4G is taking the lead, followed by three F-16 B50+, forming a standard diamond formation. They flew at modest 500 knots against the moderately strong and steady wind.

"[I told you, right?! Damn you Gotanda]"

"Aw, shut up, you're lucky I choose tail, Alvin"

It was the intervention by Bartlett that stopped them. True, they are anything but hostile to each other, ever since Heirelark in fact. But sometimes, they argue like old married couple.

"[I said it first, Davenport, so shut up. Can't you two be more like Nagase here?]"

They became silent, only the sound of engine is heard, and then the connection was cut off, everyone is for themselves. Yes, Nagase never talk randomly like all of her comrades, she is ultra disciplined hardass nugget, even if her flying style is a bit unconventional.

Just few minutes ago, they heard from the HQ about another leaker, this time, is an unarmed reconnaissance plane. It's the notorious Blackbird, superfast stealth whose technology is yet to be outdated thirty years after its introduction.

One of the coastal SAM in this region managed to deliver a considerable damage over the unit, and now, it's slowly descending with smoking trail left behind.

Wardog is then assigned to intercept it.

"[This is Heartbreak One of Wardog Squadron, we are approaching the target.]"

"[This is AWACS, call sign Thunderhead; roger, bring the target to the ground. Do not fire on the target. Repeat, do not fire on the target.]"

They even had AWACS and tanker, and yet, no replacement pilot. The Top Brass is really annoying, especially to Davenport, though Dan and Bartlett has their share of complains.

Nagase remains neutral at best, she seems to understand the situation and aware of the complication without personal opinion mixed in… unless the word 'war', 'violence', etc is included somewhere.

The voice of the AWACS is stern, the tone you can expect from a bookworm soldier.

"[You got that, nuggets?]"

"[Wardog two, roger,]" Came from Nagase.

"[Wardog three, roger,]" Davenport said.

Dan is fazed up a little, and failed to deliver a proper replies, as the result, Bartlett asked again "[Wardog four, hellllooo! Can you hear me kid? You better be marking our tail son.]"

"Yes"

Fail. Gotanda knew Davenport will not let him at ease when they returned, but first thing first, he straightened his voice a little. "Wardog four, roger"

"[Well you sound confident at least,]" said Bartlett.

"[Look who is afraid now]" Davenport mockingly commented

"[Second Lieutenant Alvin H. Davenport, zip it! You need a nick name too?]" AWACS Thunderhead's voice blaring in the radio, made Davenport snicker

"[I respectfully asked to be called Chopper, sir. I'm afraid I may not be able to respond to any other moniker.]" Just like always, Davenport force everyone to follow his rhythm, which is really inappropriate and often annoying.

Even then, not many people hate him outright. From that day onward, the nickname sticks tighter than his actual name.

They don't know the origin of Captain's callsign, which sound weird but at the same time cool. Heartbreak One? Why not.

Nagase at least, said that she inherit it from her elder sister, an Ace during the course of Usea Rebellion, currently trying to be an airliners.

"[Hmm, that does fit you well. I have a better name for you but I'll keep it to myself. Okay?]" Bartlett affirmed. Dan wondered if the old Captain has something in his sleeve.

"[Aw, cut me some slack man.]"

Nagase can be heard sighing heavily; at least they don't look down at her for being the sole girl in the group. Unlike ISAF or Erusia, most pilots in active service here in Osea still predominantly male, same goes to Yuktobania.

Not because of lagged behind in science, but because of doctrine and lack of interest. Of 8 trainees that got killed, two are female, which mean 2:1 ratio when she is included. The actual ratio in entire ODF is somewhere in 4 to 5:1, a stark reverse to 2:5 for Erusea and 2:7 for ISAF.

(Last night, Nagase cried a little in her sole bunk, but not letting too much to be shown)

Even though it was scientifically proven that average, well-trained women are more resistant to high-g condition and altitude-induced decompression, men also by default has better endurance.

She joins ODF simply because of the residency.

"[Tally ho, we've got a company]"

The distance between the Blackbird and Wardog are less than 100 m away, close proximity is preferable. As such, the four wings of Sand Island switched to open frequency.

"[Alright where is Motormouth Chopper]"

"[That's your nickname for me?]" came the disbelieving response, Nagase already expect wit battle and thus Bartlett came "[You have a knack for comic dialogue, mind you sending the message]"

"[What about Gotanda?]"

"[He knew when he had to be serious, at least]" Nagase opened her mouth in Gotanda's defense, typical Dan's usual attitude however, a soft laugh was heard "Aw, I'm happy you care for me, honey"

If she wasn't wearing helmet and occupied with HOTAS control, she wanted to put a palm on her face. And Chopper and Bartlett still going at it.

"[Please? Age before beauty]"

"[I'm quite shy around strangers you know]"

Lies, damned lies. Dan screamed mentally, even Nagase wouldn't believe that bull.

"[… It's endless]" at that point, it seems that the insanity bled to Nagase herself. Her hand began to waver around, and as the result of her control's sensitivity…

Dan, being the dead last, noticed it first. "Nagase, your plane tilted a little" He pointed.

"[…it's the FBW that's too sensitive]"

Okay, she's mad. It's VERY unusual for her to be like this, and if it comes to this, they have gone too far.

Tired with the constant banter of the dysfunctional squad, AWACS Thunderhead finally spoke again, with intensity surpassing Perrault on his better days. "[WARDOG CUT THE CHATTER NOW! SECOND LIUTENANT DAVENPORT FOLLOW YOUR ORDERS]"

Everyone's mood instantly restored, to which Dan was thankful.

"[Geez, right. Testing, testing, unidentified aircraft please lower your gear and we'll escort you, do you copy?]"

There's no reply.

"[Unidentified aircraft please lower your gear if you understood]"

Still no reply, however, alert signal has been delivered and their radar is bleeping "[Wardog, this is Thunderhead, bogeys inbound from vector 280. Intercept as proper but do not engage until you get a clearance]"

Even though they already expect the worst, orders are orders, and as long as it doesn't clash with his ideal, Bartlett will follow it. "[You heard that? Don't shoot until I gave you orders, understood?]"

"Roger that"

The location is 25 miles from the mainland, exactly the same location as before. Nagase felt her stomach churned, the alien feeling crept into her logic circuitry: it was fear.

"Nagase, it's okay. We're ready and you're not alone, I'm backing you up"

Dan's soothing voice brought the sinking determination within her hear arose, her eyes lit with courage and thus appear, her true personality.

She had inherited the callsign Edge; she will make sure she never tarnishes it.

"[Thank you]"

"[Warning! Heaters!]"

"Break! Flare!" Bartlett screamed on the comm. Link, and all four planes split to different direction while filled the center position with flares, all those missile exploded harmlessly.

"[Wardog, weapon safe and do not engage, repeat, do not engage!]"

And yet, Thunderhead still going at it, Chopper was the first one to complain "Screw you, those aren't blanks they firing"

The cowboy captain did his usual shtick either way, and finally released the restraining command rope "[Stop talking and start firing, Heartbreak One, Engage!]"

"[Edge, Engage]"

"[Chopper Engage!]"

Dan was silent for a moment, just before he's reminded on it, his tone of voice changed. He was on higher altitude than his pals, and was the first one to be targeted after the first salvo.

Nagase's eyes widened "[BLAZE!]"

Behind his oxygen mask, Dan is delivering a confident smile

Afterburner was lit for a few seconds, but then he turned the engine off as loss of momentum brought him to a stall condition, literally flipping near 90 degrees at 9g in oblique, zigzagging angle. Meanwhile, the missile is fooled by various countermeasures he delivered in the process.

Viper is not exactly a supermaneuverable plane, meaning it couldn't recover from stalling condition quickly. His only choice, as proper, is to accelerate downward until he reached sufficient airspeed to fly normally.

"Blaze Engage. I'm not going to die, not now, not here"

The fight happened in the altitude of 5000 feet, the wind is quite strong as well, it's all thanks to the flight correction system of the FBW that's able to keep both parties involved undisturbed. From far away, only fast moving dots can be seen, with white trail following.

It was truly beautiful sight.

But at close, it was brutal.

Dan is chasing the bandits closely, like a predator chasing its prey. He doesn't let it move an inch out of his HUD, though Dan has JHMCS installed on his helmet as normally would be, allowing him to target the enemy locked by his teammates.

In a sense, the Vipers and the Mig-29, alias Fulcrum, is roughly comparable in many aspect. Since the load out is similar, it's up to the pilot skill and tactics.

Painted the empty sky with vapor trail, the two birds try to kill each other while still paying attention to the ongoing combat between the other three.

"Blaze, Fox One"

Sidewinder zipped a bandit out of the sky, striking right on the engine nozzle and made it explode, the rest simply shattered by air turbulence.

"He's nuts"

"Kid, we're going to have a little talk later" Bartlett pursued a bandit in a game of scissor "When we return that is"

Dan was lucky; he caught one off guard. Heater streaking brutally at sharp angle toward the enemy, who failed to execute evasion protocol. And thus, the poor bandit is engulfed in flames.

And Chopper seems to have the short end of the stick, enemy cannon preying on him. His left wing has been grazed, though luckily no leakage or ignition. Still, that means he had to be careful for subsequent maneuver, and boy he was panicking.

"Need assistance!"

"Chopper! Cut out with the brake!" Dan screamed, and indeed, Chopper pulled down the throttle to zero while deploying airbrake in the process, almost like he wanted to rip his plane with the sheer deceleration.

Chopper cursed the fact that he had to choose between probability of being torn apart by g force or shot down by missile.

The enemy passed him with Dan tailing on it, launching yet another sidewinder.

It missed the target, but not entirely meaningless. Nagase dove with guns blazing, delivering a hail of 20mm shell. Digging a hole through the center part, air drag do the rest of job and tore the craft in half.

"Nice kill!"

Nagase returned to cover Bartlett, who has this pesky fact about technical limitation. Dan just realized now that he saw the Phantom in combat, flying brick indeed.

Still, Dan has seen it now, the Belkan War Veteran, Jack Bartlett. His title is not for show, as he swiftly destroyed another with ease in spite of his far inferior unit.

"[One remaining!]"

"YAHOO!" Chopper emptied half of his reserve magazine as he screamed manically, shredding enemy plane like paper, leaving no survivor "Aw yeah, can you say 'busted'?"

"[Second Lieutenant Davenport, be careful, there's another one!]" At the same time Thunderhead announced, Chopper found himself locked by enemy radar.

"[I'm so screwed]"

"[Warning: Missile]" the flight computer said monotonically, and repeatedly.

"[GAWDAMNIT! CHAFF!]"

Pieces of tiny aluminum sheet dispersed from its dispenser, sparkling under the sun, and disappear with a flame as a medium range missile detonated inside the cloud. Chopper's plane barely survive, some damage can be seen on the exhaust port and tail, even if not fatal.

"[I'm swear I'll shut up]"

"OVT! Be careful!" Dan pushed the throttle at maximum to switch location quickly, realized the kind of monster they will have to face.

"[OV what?]"

"[It's equipped with thrust vectoring]" Bartlett clenched his teeth as both of his sparrows missed the target "[Must be an ace]"

Bartlett is preparing his AMRAAM, normally, a Weasel-type unit doesn't carry such thing, but his has been modified to carry and launch anything in Osea inventory. He was thankful Pops patched it on his vintage. Also, his plane doesn't need WSO outside it's intended role, so he flew by himself most of the time.

However, using it as of now seems to be unfeasible, Wardog made a encirclement ball around the enemy, but unable to get a proper lock, gun or missile. It's dancing fiercely trying to get a kill by itself, even though it's vastly outnumbered.

Fatigue began to creep over the inexperienced wardogs, dogfight isn't supposed to happen for a minute, let alone more than five. Even with their state of the art liquid-filled G-suit, there are limits.

"You know, when they talked about Ace, that doesn't seem to indicate ability to solo entire flight" Dan growled. He thinks, he will break his ride on the first sortie if this keeps going.

"[Wardog, there's two more toward you! Same bearing, fifty kilometers]"

Whereas Bartlett is more experienced, he knew his plane now become a liability in dog fight, and he decide to use its full ability as powerful makeshift interceptor, dashing across the ocean in his lonesome "[I got them]"

"[Chopper, stay here and cover them. Fox 3]" Bartlett fired his Missile at last, hitting one MiGs 28 km west form battle location. The other one survived almost unscratched and went for Bartlett's location "[God, damn it]"

Bartlett received a counterattack the moment he launched his AMRAAAM, so, now he had to gruel with missile of similar profile. He jinked hard left and right before executing aileon roll and use the countermeasure system, managed to survive the explosion.

"[Sheesh, gimme a break! Chopper here, will assist Captain Bartlett, Fox 3]"

And another is splashed, since Chopper is using two missile at the range of 19 km, it's a sure kill.

"[Second Lieutenant Davernport, just what the heck are you doing?!]"

"[Ask the lovers there, Blockhead, what the hell are THEY doing?]"

It was unusual for two friendly aircraft to do a scissor pattern, but that's what Blaze and Edge do, not trying to one up each other, but giving no escape room for the one target that is the last enemy. Two aircraft made a fierce maneuver against single target with superior maneuverability.

When the enemy made a sharp feint, Nagase followed shortly since she's having more room, being in the end tail, meanwhile, Dan took a roundabout slash taking the rearguard replacing her.

It was more like watching an airshow spectacle, and yet, one could feel chill running their spine.

It was like the aircraft themselves pulled from all direction, ready to break anytime. The squishy pilot inside, one wonder how much punishment they experience now.

Those pilots though, should already knew the risk and way to circumvent it. Frankly, it's the only reaosn they don't spun out of axis and dead.

Chopper joined as Bartlett have returned, but kept his altitude so as to give them top coverage, watching the radar intently as well.

Vulcan rounds from a pair of Vipers shredded one of the engine and causing rip and tear everywhere else from the ricocheting shell and shrapnel. The MiG spun out of its normal axis and ripped apart by its own mass, exploding as the fuel inside is lit.

"[Whose kill was that?]" Chopper asked.

"[I'd say both of them, anyone see anything? Bartlett here, Thunderhead, what's the status]"

"[Thunderhead here, there's nothing within 150 miles of your location, no stealth, nothing, you may return ASAP]"

"[In the end, every single Ace are human with flaws, that's where friends are needed, in a war there's no chivalry, only tactics, strategy, and logistic, keep that in mind. This is heartbreak One, Wardog, return to base. You still there Kid?]"

"… Yes"

"[Good boy. From now own, I'll call you kid no matter what, got it? Good]"

Chopper chuckled in the radio then began to sing a Rock n Roll tune loudly, while Thunderhead desperately tell him to shut up.

Dan simply laughed at the notion and said "I love this squad"

Dan noted mentally, that he knew and fully understand, even the legendary Demon Lord of the round table said it once, that he by no means flawless, no matter how magnificent he is.

As one of the few people that knew him closer than simply acquaintance, he knew. He and Ichika, is the legacy of the Demon Lord. And Dan is proud of it, though never said anything.

As Wardogs descend toward the airbase, Dan has one thing in his mind.

What are you doing now Ichika? Have you met an enemy like this yet?


If you notice that Chopper is even more mouthy and annoying than the original, yes, I did it on purpose... not for long though. Bartlett incident and harbor attack will be the start to mark that shit hits the fan. And it goes downhill from there.

Who exactly is this Demon Lord -beyond Galm 1 the Player Character-? You'll find out, but not this soon ;)

Glossary:

Ace = Defined by 5 aircraft kills usually, but in context, it applies to any excellent pilot.

Afterburner = dumping more fuel to the exhaust to increase temperature and therefore engine's thrust power.

Aggressor = Experienced pilots that usually act as enemies for newbies in a combat training.

ATA = Air to Air engagement

ATG = Air to Ground engagement

Bandit = Hostile aircraft in vicinity

Bogey = Unidentified aircraft in vicinity

FBW = Fly-By-Wire, long time ago, plane use pure mechanical control (gears, hydraulic etc). Nowadays, aircraft all have motorized, computerized movement that controlled using signal delivered by the control system via electrical wires, hence the term.

Heater = Heat seeking missile

HOTAS = Hands on Throttle and Stick, advanced control scheme where most aircraft function can be used without hand leaving the aforementioned consoles.

Leaker = Aircraft caught breaching the border

Splash = Self explanatory, another buzzword for shot down.

Stall = a condition where the wing lose its lifting force, either by high angle (will be explained later) or simply losing enough speed.

Wild Weasel = In a nutshell, aircraft assigned to take out Anti-Air and radar installation. (Note: considered Ground Attack plane, just specialized)

WSO = Weapon System Officer, their existence is a godsend for a complex to use plane because it reduced the workload of the pilot, allowing him to concentrate to piloting task, while WSO handled the combat instrument.

Vipers = Nickname for F-16 Falcon by most pilot.