At War's EndMature

Katrina "Sidewinder" Mojave

"See you on the other side." I said solemnly, trying to keep some trace of hope in my voice. I immediately focused on getting out of there, hitting my afterburner and tearing out of the airspace as the light flashed behind me. Time seemed to freeze, immortalized for those few utterly silent seconds. I held my breath and chocked back my tears, not only had Andrew died but now Young...all because I couldn't protect them like the damn squadron leader. I shook away my thoughts of guilt...the light washed away and time came crashing back into momentum. My plane jerked violently forward as the nuke's blast wave pulsed past. 

All the electronics in my plane went to hell, it fizzled and flickered as the Electrical overload followed the blast wave. My radar began to wink on and off flashing signals of ghost planes that I new didn't exist. It was hell holding my plane in the air as I piloted away from the massive black and red nuclear blast. I kicked my self on the inside as I looked back at the growing mushroom cloud. Gages and lights fell dead on the instrument panel 

"Si....wha....yo...out..." I radio crackled and hissed. It was someone elses voice but I didn't reach out to them, I was too busy trying to get as far away as possible. While I knew I'd see Young and Andrew, I'd be damned if it was caused by the Chinese. If I died, it was gonna be my way and on my terms...even if it was in my sleep but not at the hands of the monsters who took my only family!

I flew for hours chasing the ever evasive horizon until I realized my plane was almost out of fuel. I had gone as far as my plane and my body could take, somehow I got ahold of an air traffic control tower at a civilian airport. The nearest military base was sixty miles north of where I currently was and I needed a place to re-fuel and recharge. After a very quick conversation they contacted the base for me and clearance for one for a landing. I was one of the very few pilots to even live through the nuking of Project Serenity, let alone to make it to a safe landing.

"Roger, you have clearance to land on Runway six!" The controller said guiding me into to a quick and painless landing. With the landing over, I taxied my plane near one of the boarding gates for civilian transport. I was exhausted, my eyes dropping as the canopy opened and repair crews hustled to my plane. I noticed the stairway that had been rolled next to my plane. Dragging my body out of the cockpit, I collapsed onto the platform at the top of the stairs. 

My body lay limp against the plane, my chin against my chest as I lay there half aware of the commotion around me. People hurried to my side, blurring into dark figures and muffled voices that terrorized me  to stay awake. When I was finally in an air conditioned building they laid me down and a man with glasses leaned over me. I assumed he was a doctor, while he flashed a light in my eyes but all I wanted was to be cut off from the world. I was emotionally and metally detached when my body let me go to drift into the land of dreams or rather reflections. Moments went by me, from when I met Andrew and then Young all the way through the war. I had gone through so much that it made me feel I had lived my life twice over. If only the war had never started...

One year later...

The skies were bright and and blue, clear of the war that had once ravaged them not so long ago. Birds soared with grace only attained by veteran pilots who had lived through the turmoils of the Chinese Invasion. Oh did I forget how to tell you how the war ended, interesting story actually, it ended quietly. Surprising? Not really. When the Chinese noticed that we had the balls to drop a Nuke on our own soil just to keep them from Serenity they feared what we would do if they turned their greedy eyes to other targets or even civilian cities on the east coast. They had already ripped through half the country but the nuke shook them and in that moment when they had their pants down around their ankles...we struck. 

It took me a week to get back in the air but after a much needed addition to the mural on my plane I was back in the fight. I was gonna give it to the bastards just like Andrew and Young had told me to. Keep going and don't stop. The words rang in my head, images of both their faces in my mind as I fought like a bat out of hell. Enemy pilots dropped from the sky as we pushed them back all the way to the coast and with their backs to the sea they pleaded for mercy and forgiveness. I laughed at such a proposition, did they give us a chance for mercy when they chopped off Andrews head? Hell no they didn't, they could careless until it was their lives on the line. 

We didn't even pause to consider such a request, we drove them off the coast and all the way back to China. Turns out the country was highly unstable, all their money spent trying to fund their war as their infrastructure collapsed and it's population grew demoralized and restless. Finally they threw in the towel and surrendered at threat of invasion from our very angry, very trigger happy military.

They ended up signing the surrender terms and end of the war agreement on an aircraft carrier in Hong Kong harbor, surrounded by a fleet of our ships. All of the surviving Aces were invited to take the trip through the pacific to watch the signing. While it didn't ease my wounds nor cool my hostilities, it gave me some sense of peace. When all was said and done over half of the Generals in the Chinese military were put on trial and convicted of war crimes against american soldiers and pilots. 

Now here I am, a year later resting before the most peaceful place in world. A memorial, yes...they built one, I practically demanded they build it. Its a large marble room outside, no ceiling. It's surrounded by beautiful trees and bushes that blossum in the spring and cover the area with snowy white petals.The walls of the memorial were tall and on the black, smooth surface rested the name of every single man and woman that lost their life in fighting.

Upon it's opening I handed my commanders my resignation, they took it hard. Eventually, through a large amount of badgering and persuading I'm an instructor for new pilots that come to the base. My old home base where I met Andrew and Young, I train the rookies and the brats who think they know the skies like their favorite bar.

Smirking at the thought, I continued to look over the walls and the names. After I found the two names I was looking for a lump formed in my throat. I smiled and set a few bottles of tequila down, they would have never accepted flowers and I think my fondest memory of them wasn't in the it was when we all got wasted in that hanger.  A large bouquet of flowers couldn't have been anymore sentimental. Turning away, I walked away and headed to my old car. When I reached the door, I stopped and looked up as a jet roared overhead. 

"They'd better have tequila on the other side," I whispered with a soft smile tugging the corner of my lips. 

The End

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