Author's Note: This is a World War Two alternate universe for "Top Gun" where I've taken the main characters, Maverick, Iceman, Viper, Goose, and Slider and put them in the South Pacific. Due to the fact that Corsairs were single-seaters, I've turned Goose and Slider into pilots themselves, helping to expand the squadron. For the time, they are island-based rather than carrier, but this doesn't mean that I won't be writing about that in the future. As always, I claim none of these characters as my own nor am I making a profit from this in any way. It's merely a way to explore new ideas and get me writing about aviation again.

Bringing the aircraft through the clouds, Ice felt a slight surge of excitement the moment the nose broke the cloud top, pushing him into the perpetual blue. Shifting the stick to the left while simotaneously pressing his foot against the left pedal, the aciton was rewarded with an immediate roll to the right. Ice kept his movement slight, allowing the Corsair to turn on its axis in a singular, graceful swoop. Without waiting to come to a full three-sixty, Ice reversed his actions, sending the Corsair back to the left. To his delight, the plane only needed a gentle touch to follow his commands.

"How's she handling, Iceman?" came Viper's voice over the radio.

"I'm dancing with a ballerina!" replied Ice enthusiastically as he put the stick all the way against his right thigh and sent the Corsair into a complete roll.

From somewhere behind him, Viper followed Ice and watched with quiet contentment as the Corsair frolicked above the clouds. He could hear Ice's laughter as he sent his plane diving through a cloud only to reappear moments later from a different cloud. Pulling the stick to him, Ice twirled upwards around the vertical axis before sending his plane arching backwards into the clouds. There was a brief moment when only Viper's Corsair flew above the clouds, but soon Ice rejoined him and levelled alongside his commander.

Inside his aircraft, Ice grinned from ear to ear. It was good to be back in the air again! Having his tail feathers nailed to the ground was not fun and every time he heard those engines start, Ice's spirit withered in the knowledge that his squadron was flying without him. Injuries had to heal though, and that took time. It had been nearly two months, (eight weeks and three days by Ice's exact calculations) since his reluctant swim in the ocean. He had managed to eject from the aircraft, but something had to have gone wrong beforehand for the moment Ice was in the water, he was unconscious. Perhaps it was taking that round in his side that had injured him so and perhaps something else, but Ice couldn't readily recall as the moment he ejected, his memory was a complete blank.

Everyone had been worried about him, even Maverick, who had temporarily taken over Ice's duties. The other pilots feared the worst for Ice's mental state, as he had spent the first few nights at the hospital drenched in sweat as he relived that terrifying moment when the Zero dived on him. The other pilots did their best to keep Ice's spirits up, but he prefered keeping his own company, an action which only reaffirmed their fears and deepened their grief. Ice was too good of a pilot to lose.

But they should not have given up on him so easily, for when Ice wanted to be alone, he went over to the Corsairs and paced around them. The moment he found out which plane he was to fly, Ice inspected every inch of it, making sure that nothing was amiss. Only Viper saw Ice mingling with his plane, wooing her with his gentle voice and encouraging his own spirit to let go of his fears. Viper knew that Ice was ready to be put into the air because the longer they waited, the more he risked Ice's courage failing him. The bandage had to be removed. Ice needed to soar again and with each roll, ascent, dive, and loop, Iceman's heart raced with excitement.

The energy coursed through his veins like a mighty river, daring him to take on new challenges, though, every single one of them was isolated to dodging a cloud or two; or in most cases, simply smashing right through them. His mirth was doubled when he put the Corsair into another loop, but just after he crested, he shifted the stick over, causing his plane to rotate on its lateral axis until Ice was upright again where he then pulled the stick back towards him, bringing the Corsair out of the dive and allowing him to fly level.

"All right, Kazansky, time to quit showing off," said Viper with a touch of amusement. "I can hear you smiling through the radio. We need to get you back to base before your show-boating burns up all your fuel."

Ice chuckled and replied, "Copy that, Viper. We'll return to..." His words trailed off as his eyes fixed above him on four dots that were steadily growing bigger. The realization was instantaneous and a knot of sudden fear dropped into Ice's cold stomach. "Viper, we've got a problem! Japs!"

"What? How many?"

"Four! Shit, I don't know if they've seen us!"

"Stay calm, Iceman," said Viper instinctively. "We'll drop below the clouds and head back to base. With any luck, they won't have spotted us yet. I'd like to keep it that way."

"I'm with you on that, Sir," replied Ice nervously as he put the nose forward and dropped with Viper into the shelter of the clouds. It was always like this in the South Pacific; one moment he'd be enjoying the flight and the next, hoping to make it back to the base alive.