I landed on the airfield, feeling like shit. I pulled into my designated hanger and relaxed. A mechanic had to manually open my canopy to wake me up. Drowsy, I nodded and barely managed to crawl out of the cockpit. I glanced at my watch. 10AM... that's...
Too tired to count, I didn't even bother trying to find a couch, slumping beside a steel wall instead.
A wall of fire engulfed my fighter as an invisible missile closed in, screaming. I pulled to the left and watched it engulf Mojaves plane. Duke broke of with a vengeance, firing at my fighter. Guilt crept in and intensified with the realization of a broken promise.
My sore eyes slowly opened, the sun high in the sky. Mojave screamed at an officer, something about getting back at them. Moaning, I tried to stand up. Realizing the futility, I drifted back of to sleep. I woke a few hours later, light rain moving through the hanger, smacking my face. Again, I tried to move, this time succeeding. Sluggish, I walked across the airfield. Annoyed by my muscles un-willingness to instantly co-operate, I jogged. Somehow, I started feeling alive again.
I walked inside the pilots breakroom, ignoring the groggy pilots and grabbed a muffin. Realizing my hunger, I walked into the cafeteria, ordering two meals worth of food. Now, I actually felt somewhat awake. Is Duke alright? Mojave was freaking out... he's dead.
The knowledge dragged me down. My appetite ceased. Memories flood through my head, Duke getting shot down, being wasted, saving me...
I went pale and had to fight to keep the food down my throat. The strength to sit up vanished. Powerless, I threw up beside my table, vomit hitting the ground with a series of splats. Choking and crying, I managed to stand up then fall back down on my knees. More vomit hit the floor, mixed with tears. A hand patted my back, the rest of my meal came up. Fits of coughing came, then dry heaves. I could barely focus on my surroundings, only the memories of Duke, then the men I shot down. What are their families thinking? Duke...maybe he isn't dead... no, it's not possible. I even felt guilty at the thought. Moaning, I pulled myself onto a chair, resting my head on the table. A far-away voice asked questions. Angry and guilty, I barely said "Go away."
Whoever tried to calm me down just stayed there. Uncomfortable, I stood up, accidently knocked my chair down and sprinted from the mess hall. I followed the signs to the safe-est place I could immediately think of- the showers. A cadet jumped out of my way as I entered the showers, took a spot and closed a shower door behind me. I switched it on, sat in a corner with my clothes on and cried. My uniform had more blood on it than I thought. It turned the water red, mixed with the vomit on my jeans.
I blacked out, sleeping underneath the shower for another hour. Nightmares filled my dreams as I became functional again- and, at the same time, useless. My palm rested on my forehead after I awoke. My break-down in the Mess Hall seemed like a dream. I smiled at the thought, then cried without tears at Dukes memory. I was there... I could have helped him! Why did he just go in?! What the fuck was wrong?!
Suddenly, I felt rage at Duke. Face red, I kicked the shower stalls door open, exiting in my wet clothes. Someone left fresh BDUs beside my shower. I threw them on and exited the showers to find Mojave on the other side, arms crossed. My eyes bored into her skull. Before I could stop myself, I screamed "IF YOU HADN'T CRASHED, DUKE WOULD BE HERE RIGHT NOW!"
Mojaves face darkened. She said coldly "Andrew is dead... I didn't want this to happen. He was a damn good pilot and he didn't deserve the death that he got! Fuck, they won't even let us take of to get back at those damn chinks!"
I blinked at the word chinks. Mojave kept going "They put his video on the internet, along with their progress! Hell, half the pilots here are too depressed or scared to do anything about it!"
"Wait, wait, what video?!"
Mojave stopped in mid-sentence. Flustered, she threw her hands up in the air and walked to a room near the end of the hall. I followed, seeing a computer inside, along with a few bunks. Mojave played a video on the computer, showing Duke's death. Cringing with rage, I swore under my breath to get back at them.