"Just don't go getting yourself killed out there Tom. We need you Hella-bad. And I mean that, I don't care what happens to your plane, just get back here alive and ready to battle in the next dogfight."
Tom was going out on his next mission to the war front, for the Fyr Rebellion. The country of Auberg is in a civil war. The northern half of Auberg was taken over by the Fyr rebels. Now the Auberg military wants to regain its territory and its totalitarian rule over the people.
Tom was called an ace by his comrades and enemies. He flies missions out of a small air base and down to the front, where there is constant battling between the warring factions. Tom's engineer, Cinstan, fixes his plane after every mission. Usually his plane is untouched, but at times it takes hundreds of hits.
"No way in Hell I'm going down today Cinstan, I hear the empire's air force is getting worn down. It shouldn't be long before we win the war."
"Don't get too cocky up there Tom. In fact, our forces are dwindling faster than theirs are. They have large factories that produce planes, while we can only obtain our air force by buying planes off the black market."
"OK, OK, so what's my mission today doc?" Tom jumped into his plane cockpit and began playing with the joystick. "Boy I love these dogfights, nothing is as dangerous, or as much of a test of skill." He looked like a young boy playing with a new toy.
"Now listen up, Tom. You're heading to Auberg again. As you know it, the capital of Auberg. We have ground forces in the city that are engaged in combat as we speak. They are severely outnumbered, and since the Auberg military is used to engaging in urban warfare because of their harsh dictating enforcements, they have the advantage. Now, our forces are presently retreating from the city into the north where backup troops will assist in their escape."
"There are large fields that they are crossing over until they can reach the trenches in Trench Forest. I believe there are about 30 enemy aircraft headed after our retreating forces. With enough fire, and some 'red bombs', our forces could be wiped out. Your mission is to take 9 aircraft into Auberg, intercept the enemy and destroy them. You will take heavy fire from both the air and the ground enemy forces. Expect no help from our wounded comrades on the ground. Good luck Tom, and please come back alive."
"ONLY 9 AIRCRAFT? What in blazes happened to the other 25 aircraft we just had last week?" Tom started up his engine, looking ahead, Cinstan could see the furious, even desperate expression on his face.
"Well, they went on a mission to Auberg last week, and none have come back... yet."
"Damn it, doc! I'm good, but not this good! Do you really expect those pilots to come back?" Tom sighed and began steering his aircraft to the runway, the doc jogging with him. "Just wait here for me, doc. And prepare another aircraft identical to this one. I'll come back, and then I'll be running double missions. Oh, did I forget to tell you that I'll be taking out Max today?" Tom laughed and turned forward. Moments later he took off with the other 9 aircraft.
The top general from the Auberg government wanted to be on the battlefield, so he chose to be a field general. His son, Max Auberg, loved to fly. Max rose in the ranks and became elite. He now commands an elite group of 30 air units. They fly missions into northern Auberg to destroy rebel battle units. Max is a renowned pilot. He has flown over 60 missions and taken down a total 87 rebel aircraft.
Sworn enemies by profession, Tom and Max have met in battle. Tom continuously flies into battle with his comrades, but rarely will they return with him. Struck down time and time again, Tom has seen hundreds of his allies shot down and destroyed. He is one of the few survivors of the Fyr Rebellion Air Force, or the FRA.
Flying at a high altitude, Tom explains the procedure to the 9 other pilots via earphone radio links. It is old technology, but works surprisingly well. There is little or no static, and the messages are crystal clear. "We have to take out the Auberg air units first. They will be flying in formation because they have 30 planes. We will spread out and weave through their formation."
"Do not worry about the enemy ground units. We will take heavy fire from them, but pretend they are not there. Concentrate on your enemies, or they will destroy us all. Do not be surprised if they break formation, take one and one only, then go after him. If you get him, pick another. Over and out comrades." Tom felt uneasy about the soon coming battle. Is it possible that the Fyr Rebellion could fall through? Why else would our troops be retreating? He wondered.
The Fyr air units were quick little biplanes. These two winged craft had only a top speed of about 100 mph. Tom's craft, however, had been continuously upgraded. The waves of new, young pilots who want to see battle while the rebellion still holds, control new machines. They are slow to respond, and may take a few missions to break in or get used to. Still, the biplane was the backbone of the rebellion. Tom's airplane has a top speed of 120 mph. He has a double machine gun mounted on his cockpit. At the squeeze of the trigger, he lays down a blanket of fire that escapes through the spaces between the propellers.
The city appeared in the distance. Tom and his men were now passing over the large fields. They dropped in altitude and slowed their airspeed to 80 mph. Below, they could see figures of bodies strewn on the ground, hanging from the edge of the bridge which connected the fields with the city. The bridge hung over a ravine, at the bottom of it were more bodies. Most of the fleeing men were limping or crawling.
"Enemy sighted in the distance, prepare to engage, comrades," one of the other pilots said over the link. He sounded like a young pilot. Tom wasn't feeling his best. He seemed ill for some reason.
Much to Tom's surprise there were only 5 Auberg aircraft. "Spread out, RED LINE PILOTS, SPREAD OUT!" The formation broke immediately. Coming from the distance, sharp pelts pierced the air the rebels had just occupied.
One unknown pilot had not veered off in time. His tale was completely shot up. "I'm not gonna make it." His voice seemed desperate. Tom could visualize him, like the rest of his men. The young man grasped the controls, trying everything possible to regain stability. His biplane started dropping, and spinning, diving down to the city below. If the plane had not been falling so rapidly, he might have had time to escape from the plane and make use of his parachute. This would not be the case however. The craft fell into a building, and exploded on contact.
This certain destruction took longer than it should have. Tom lost concentration. He looked around and gained his bearings. He looked back to see the other pilots, engaged in a full blown battle, behind him. He circled around and accelerated. He followed a black enemy craft. He studied it, This was his arch enemy, Max Auberg. Victory of over 60 missions, destroyer of 87 men. Max was in his favorite plane, an upgraded monoplane. It was clearly ahead of its time, Tom had seen it reach 140 mph.
Right now, Max was following a rebel whom was tailing behind an Auberg craft. Tom let out several bursts, Max knew he was there.
"Red 06, you've got bogie on your tail, pull out and make ready for reengagement." The pilot refused, claiming that he had the shot and would take it. "You'll be shot down." The next few moments happened so quickly that it seemed to be a blur. The other men were busy diving, and looping, and spinning and shooting. For Tom, only Max mattered, no, only Max existed.
The pilot refused to pull out. Max let out a burst of fire. It hit the red pilot. His plane was still in good shape, and continued to fly forward. But the pilot himself was struck with a bullet. He leaned over, and slowly climbed out of his cockpit, and fell off his craft. Spinning and falling, Tom looked down and noticed that the city below looked completely deserted. No automobiles, or pedestrians or cyclists. The entire city's population had vanished, but not without cause.
The pilot let out his chute, it opened and he drifted down slowly. He would probably break his legs when he hit the ground, if he wasn't already dead. And should he survive, and the Auberg military found him, it would be the end for him. On the spot. 'No mercy' was the Auberg military's maxim.
Now, Tom saw another one of his pilots being targeted. "Red 07, you've got company!" Not before Tom finished his sentence, the rebel looped with incredible speed and control, now he was on the enemy's tail. He fired his machine gun and the black monoplane enemy fighter went down.
It was now a question of who could destroy who before they themselves were destroyed. There were eight Fyr rebels still in the air and four black crafts as well. Tom was tracking one enemy, then suddenly looped around as if he had snake eyes. He fired just under another rebel, and shot down another black craft. There were three enemies left, they darted off into the distance together and drove back in with guns firing. Three more rebels were shot down, one of them made it out of his plane in time to use his chute, the other two did not.
Two of the enemies left the area to leave south, they probably figured that they missed their chance to destroy the retreating rebels. But Max stayed behind. He began weaving in and out of the formation the five reds were trying to make. They gave up making a formation and began going after the single remaining enemy.
Max flew past an awkwardly looking arch over two buildings. Two cocky pilots followed him close behind, flew over the arch, and were mysteriously shot down-much to the surprise of the other rebels. Tom searched the skies. Max was heading south away from the finished battle. With losing only two pilots, Max was able to destroy 7 rebels.
"Fall back into formation and let's ride in back to the air base comrades, good job fighting today." Tom spoke rapidly over the communicator. For once there was static on it. Tom couldn't hear any response over the communicator, but if he could have, he wouldn't have wanted to hear the message.
The three rebels landed back on the small airfield. Tom hadn't noticed it yet, but while he was coming down for his landing, he realized just how secluded the base was. A hangar and a few small buildings with the landing strip was all that existed of his life on the ground. Surrounding this setting were tall, green, beautiful pines. It was as if Tom had always been on the base, he hadn't lived anywhere else.
He could remember the Rebellion. It wasn't fresh in his mind, but he still had images of it imprinted in his memory. He had lived in a small town near the base when he was a young man, before that time, his adolescence, he could remember nothing. His father was a pilot who liked to fish with his son in his free time. He would walk from the town to the field for training exercises. His father served at a secret rebel air base, in preparation for the planned Fyr Rebellion. Tom started flying when he was 15, and worked at the base with his father.
On the night of the Rebellion, Tom and his father flew from the base and hit every Auberg military base on the northern half of the continent. However, in the confusion of the night mission, Tom's father was shot down by a fellow rebel, and was assumed dead. After the Rebellion had started, Tom was the resident officer of the air base. He lived on the base and flew missions whenever they were needed.
Cinstan, Tom's engineer was surveying his craft after the three landed. Tom walked over to the other two pilots to meet them. "Inconceivable! You're the pilot that hit down that enemy, aren't you!" The two pilots looked strangely familiar.
"That was me," said one of the pilots. He was a medium tall, man with jet black hair. He wore these strange little goggles and had an inquisitive but distant look in his eyes. "I'm a veteran in the minds of most rebels. I aided the Rebellion for years before the night we actually fought back against our oppressors."
"Impressive words. Up in the sky you shot down that enemy pilot with ease. I could use your help with my future missions." Cinstan ran over to Tom to interrupt. The other pilot was a tall, young, woman. She had a light blue biplane, that looked invisible when it was flying.
Cinstan had a worried look, when he whispered in Tom's ear. "I find it hard to believe that you made it back here alive." His voice trailed off and Tom didn't react at all. "Your plane is really beat up, I'm surprised it was able to fly back here. How in the Hell did you manage to keep that thing together.
Tom ran over to his plane. He couldn't remember getting hit, or even being tailed during the battle. His face turned white when he saw the damage. His wings were shot up, his tail had been hit, his engine even took a beating. "I guess I should be more careful from now on."
Cinstan sighed and walked to the hangar. "Your lucky I have that extra plane ready for your next mission tomorrow." Cinstan called over his shoulder. "The Auberg military is ready to crumble, but so are the rebels. Regard tomorrow's mission as your last. It's all or nothing and all bets are off."
"Wow..." Tom was surprised. He had been fighting since day one and war had become a way of life for him. How is peace possible? He walked back to the two pilots who were still waiting for him, probably because they had nothing else do. The woman was talking to the other man.
"My name is Sarah, I was assigned to this base because the forces were getting quite thin here. Originally I fought with the H33 Independent Troops of Adala. This is my plane, the Blue 33 Tiger."
"Impressive," Tom cut in before the other pilot could respond. "That looks more like a radar plane than a fighter. You say you were with the H33 Independents?"
"Yes, that is correct. This is a radar plane, which is why it was painted blue. I still fight though. When we enter battle, I use my mounted machine gun to take out enemies."
"My name is York," said the other pilot. "I was sent here from the air base at Jamestown because the rebels had a huge advantage over there, so they didn't need my superior skills."
"Sounds very good, both of you. Welcome to our small air base, I'm Tom, the resident soldier. Get some rest and prepare for the big battle tomorrow, there should be about 40 new pilots arriving to help us in the air tomorrow."
Out of the pines at the edge of the air field, some large plants shook and tipped over. Little puffs of smoke lifted into the air and dispersed wildly. A little man no taller than 5'2" walked out of the forest. He had a gruff expression, and a coarse beard. He sucked on a large cigar. He noticed Tom standing and staring at him, he rolled back the sleeves of his plaid shirt and started an awkward little stroll towards Tom.
"Boy, I've been walkin' a whole week I suppose. Glad I finally made it here." The large man grabbed Tom's hand and gripped it and shook it harshly. "The name's Tom, Tom the Lumberjack. How do ya do sir?"
Tom was quite surprised at this man's arrival. He certainly looked like a lumberjack. But what the Hell was he doing on a rebel air base. There were distant sounds of engines coming from the north. "Sir, I don't know who you are," Tom said, "but there are about 40 aircraft ready to land so we have to get out of here." The two ran to Cinstan's office and went inside, Cinstan was on the radio. He had just confirmed the landing of the 40 aircraft.
"Now," said Tom, "who are you and what are you doing on this base?"
"I already told you, my name is Tom, I've come here to fight. I was a ground machine gunner. I shoot down enemy fighters. So will, you allow me to fight with you? I could be of great help."
"First let me say, that I'm Tom, resident soldier of this base." They shook hands again. "Tom," Tom said, "We do need your help, but there's no way you can be on the ground, Auberg's soldiers are all over that area, both in the air and on the ground."
"I've already solved that problem, Tom. One time my mate was flying a mission, and needed my help, so I climbed on top of his top wing and used my machine gun from there. It work incredibly well. If I could just demonstrate..." The man pulled out some harnesses and showed how he would be strapped to the plane, and could shoot in almost any direction. "See," he said after he was finished, "it's that easy, we'll take 'em down twice as fast when we're working together."
Tom wasn't sure what to do, but he couldn't think right now. There were too many things to do. "Just wait right here, Tom, I have to go out and meet those new pilots, if you want, go to the barracks and rest, I'll find some way to utilize you. Thanks Tom." They walked out of the office, the short man went to the barracks, Tom went with Cinstan to welcome the new pilots who were just touching down now, all forty of them.
The lead pilot of the unit saluted Tom. "Sir, reporting for duty, sir! You're Tom, resident soldier of this air base, are you not?" Tom nodded. "Good, these are the thirty pilots you requested. The attack will start tomorrow morning, right?"
"Now hold on just one minute!" Cinstan interrupted. "We were told that we would be receiving forty pilots for the battle!" The leader looked down at the ground. "But yes, the attack will begin tomorrow regardless of our forces."
"Well," the young man said looking up, "We lost several crafts in the last battle, it was assumed that we would not lose ten, but they flew in an ace. I hear he will be one of the deciding factors in tomorrow's battle and in the war itself."
"Could that so-called ace be Max Auberg?!" Tom yelled out, grabbing the pilots neck. Tom's eyes were red and his forehead hot. In an instant he had calmed down, had let go of the man, and looked as if he was perfectly fine. "He's not the only ace you know. I'll destroy him and all of his men."
"That's right," Cinstan egged. "Have you never heard of the legendary Tom Ace?! He's the guy who will win this war in our favor." Cinstan started walking to his office. "Go get some rest in the barracks, tomorrow¡s battle will be harsh. We can¡t do anything about our numbers, but I¡m sure Tom will pull through.
That night, Tom couldn¡t sleep at all. Everything was supported by him. Cinstan, these young pilots, the Rebellion, and the future of anyone who lives in Auberg. It seemed like every time he went into battle, he was narrowly missing death. In the last mission, it seemed like only his sheer will power held his battered plane in the sky, or was it because he was too concetrated on Max to save himself?
The next morning, Tom woke up rather late. He didn¡t get any sleep at all but that didn¡t matter because he would have to manage for himself especially. He wouldn¡t miss the last battle for the world. The other pilots were inspecting their planes. Cinstan had been up since midnight checking that everything was alright, but that still was not enough time. The ground gunner, Tom, walked up to Tom and held up his harnesses.
"Let me ride with you boss, as soon as you see ‰em, I¡ll take ‰em out!"