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Ok I might as well get around to kicking this thing off. This'll be the origin story for my PAF character, a Naval Aviator in the Emmerian Navy. It'll depict how he joined (Or helped to form, we'll see how it goes) The Phoenix Air Force. I'll add more to this later. JimmyHatesReavers

Chapter 1

Costello leaned back on the wing of his F-18 with his eyes closed, his back against the fuselage. There was a gentle breeze blowing, as the sun beat down on the decks of the ESS Golden King. It was a nicer day than usual on the  Cascade Ocean. His ears were filled with the sounds of the deck hands going about their business; refueling planes, towing planes off to the sides of the decks, the sounds of engines stopping and starting. He himself had just come back from a patrol, so he had nothing to do for the moment. A H-9 helicopter touched down on the deck at the stern.

"Hey dopey;" a female voice called up to him. Mick looked down to see his WSO, Julia, looking up at him. "Make yourself presentable, El Capitano wants to see you and the rest of the squad at the briefing room in ten. And here," she added, throwing an orange up to him. "There's your lunch." She smirked as Costello caught it.

"Cheers for the heads up, Julie," Mick answered as he hopped down from his plane. He started making his way to the stairs that led to the lower decks.

"Aren't you coming?" He asked as he noticed she wasn't following after him.

"Nope. He asked only for the pilots, oozoes are off the hook." She smiled again. "Maybe they found those photos you all took of Polinski taking a piss off the top of the bridge that one night!"

"Christ, you could say it louder you know!" He called back to her, popping an orange piece into his mouth. "See ya in a bit." He navigated through the corridors of the ship. He bumped into one of his wingmen, Dan.

"Hey Danny boy." Mick greeted.

"'Sup Mickey" He cheerfully replied. Dan was the No 4 of the team. Mick was the No.3. "You heading the same way as me?" Dan asked. "You mean the briefing room?" Mick inquired. "I am indeed. What do you think is so special for the Cap to call us in and leave our WSOs behind?"

"I dunno." Dan replied, before shooting a nervous glance at Mick. "You don't think they found those pics we took of Polinski pissing off the top of the bridge, do you?" He whispered worriedly.

"I hope not!" That poor marine still probably didn't know that wasn't just rain that had landed on his head.  They arrived at the metal door to the briefing room. "After You." said Mick.

"Oh please, age before beauty!"

Mick stared at him. "Dude, you're eight months older than me."

"...Oh."

They stepped through the door to meet the rest of their team, the Captain, and a bunch of young officers in flight suits that none of them recognised. A wolfish smile shot across Dan's face. "I smell fresh meat." 

"Nice of you to join us boys." Lead greeted. Anna Davis was their flight lead. Next to her was No. 2, Karl Marlowe. He was rigid and hawk-eyed as usual. Nothing got by him. However everybody else respected him, there was no complaining about his skill in the cockpit. Davis on the other hand, she was, well...she was kind of a bitch. In the good way mind, as in, she wouldn't take any crap from any of her subordinates. Or any one else for that matter. She scared the discipline into her troops, she was like a really strict mother to the team.

And then there was the Captain. Captain Freddie Durand. Guy was a legend, really. He saw a lot of action during the Anean war fifteen years beforehand. Any ass-beatings he gave out were either formalities or reserved for people who had really, really screwed up badly. Other than that, he was one of the boys.

"If you two would like to take your seats so we can get this briefing out of the way, that would be appreciated." Durand said. Mick and Dan did as they were told. 

"I'm sure you've noticed the new guys over there," Durand started, gesturing towards the rookies. "These guys are still in training, they can fly a plane alright, but they have no experience of operating from a carrier. Today, they're gonna be riding shotgun with you, while you give 'em a feel for what it's like taking off and landing from the boat." He paused. "You're also free to show them some of your more...advanced maneuvers." He said with a smirk. "You'll all be going up within the hour, get your gear ready and do your checks before then. Dismissed!"

_____

The rookie lowered himself into the back seat of the Number 3 F/A-18F.

"Close the canopy over, will ya?" Costello asked. The rookie, Sam was his name, apparently, did as asked and slid the canopy closed. He strapped himself in and flipped his visor down. The sun glared through the cockpit, the kid felt like his head was stuck in a goldfish bowl. Costello looked over his shoulders to check his flaps and stabilisers. He put his oxygen mask to his mouth and started speaking.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Thank you for choosing to fly with MickeyAir, conditions over the Cascade today are sunny with a seventy-eight percent chance of fatal G-LOC. Please note that there is only one emergency exit on this aircraft, and if you feel the call of nature during the flight, you are quite literally shit out of luck. May I remind you that this is a non-smoking Hornet, and that I have control over both ejection seats if you feel the need to make any Danger Zone references."

The Hornet was towed to the flight line, where the tailhook connected with the catapult.

"2-2-3, you are cleared for take off. 2-2-4, line up for the next slot."

"This is 2-2-3, roger tower." Mick replied. He pushed the throttle forward, and the Hornet launched itself off of the flight deck. The nugget was forced back into his seat from the sudden surge of speed. Costello pulled the nose up and gained altitude.

"This is 2-2-3, I'm off the boat, quick climbing to ten angels."

"Roger, this is 2-2-4, taking off." Dan's voice said over the airwaves.

"I hear ya 2-2-4. I'm gonna practice some maneuvers and get the FNG some experience with High-Gs."

"Roger Mickey, try not to get 'im killed!"

High-G? Sam thought to himself. Oh god, what does he plan on- Agh!

Sam clenched the muscles in his legs as the pilot performed a hard turn to the left.

"Don't lose your lunch on me now, kiddo!" Costello called back to him. He pulled the stick back and went into a steep climb. "You gotta learn how to take the G if you want to survive up here." He rolled the plane around a number of times, before taking it into a dive. The rookie could barely hold on for a few more minutes, before he blacked out.

Costello looked back at the nugget. "Friggin' lightweights." He said to nobody in particular. He flipped on his comm to the ship. 

"Tower, this is 2-2-3, I think the kid's had enough, request permission to land."

"Roger that, 2-2-3, the pattern is clear. Be careful."

"Roger, out."

Sam was stirring in the back seat.

"Hey kid, look alive back there, the real hard part is coming up next."

Mick lowered the landing gear and tailhook. He lined himself up with the stern of the carrier. The winds were fairly light. Good. He put his nose up and pulled the throttle back to 40 percent. His wheels touched smoothly off the flight deck, and the tailhook snagged one of the steel arrestor cables. The Hornet jolted to an almost immediate halt, knocking the rookie forward in his seat. He took a deep breath and unharnessed himself.

"How'd ya find that?" Mick asked.

"Uh, breath taking, I guess."

Mick chuckled. I think I'm liking this kid already. They both pulled their helmets off and climbed out of the jet. Sam saw a woman with light red hair walking towards them.

"So, how was it newbie?" She asked him, cheerfully.

"Eh, he held up okay, I guess," Mick replied, before the rookie could answer.

"Oh really? Well, he must be doing something right, if he isn't a complete wreck after your flying!" She laughed. Sam noticed that she had a slight Belkan accent.

"Yeah, well I don't hear you complaining when we earn the top ratings in the entire wing, Julie."

"You're right, it's just like being on the world's worst rollercoaster actually. Ain't that right, new guy?" She teased.

"Yeah yeah, laugh it up. C'mon, we'd better wipe this kid behind the ears and get him back to his unit."

Chapter 2

They debriefed, stowed their gear away, and returned to their normal business. Sam went back to his team. It was dusk when Mick was sitting next to his plane. Julie was sitting beside him. Dan and his WSO, Polinski- yes, the same Polinski who pissed on the marine's head- joined them with a couple of beers.

"Here ya go boys. And Julie," Dan greeted as he passed a bottle to each of them.

"Thanks bud," Mick replied. "Hey, you didn't bring a bottle opener, did you?"

"Meh, that's what Polly's for!" Dan answered, as Polinski popped the cap with his jaw. Guy had teeth like a horse. Mick took a sip of his drink.

"So, what do you all think of the FNGs?"

"Well mine almost shat himself because he hadn't strapped himself in properly on take-off." Dan sighed. "Ugh, certainly brings ya back, don't it?"

"All the wide eyes and stupid schoolboy errors?" Julie chimed in. "Sure does." She smiled. "Hey, do you have any idea what Davis and Marlowe are doing?"

"Probably keeping an eye on the new kids," Polly spoke up. "Those two always seem to be nicer to everybody else than they are to us."

"They're just sick of seeing us all the time." She replied.

Mick glanced at his co-pilot. That was Julia Schumann for ya, always so cheerful. He first met her at the Naval Academy, when they were undergoing their officer training. They became best friends since, though neither of them had any intention of taking it further than that. Both of her parents were Belkan, they moved to Emmeria in 2018, hence her accent. She never talked about them beyond that, though.

Neither did Mick. He was born and raised in the wrong town on Khesed Island. His mum had suffered bouts of depression and was a chronic alcoholic. She had a serious stroke when he was 16, leaving her pretty much vegetated. His dad fucked off 4 years before that, with what little cash that was in the flat they lived in. Mick had no idea where he was now. Hopefully lying face-down in a ditch somewhere. Bastard. After his mother was hospitalised, Mick's life started getting messier than it already was. He got into fights, took up shoplifting and pickpocketing to supplement the meagre wages he earned from his job at the local mechanic to pay for his next meal, and started becoming more reclusive and anti-social. He was sick of the life he was given, he wanted a way out of it.

That way out came in the form of the Emmerian Military. His town was home to an important naval base, so he decided to enlist in the Naval Reserve. After two years, he turned 18, and applied to be a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. He wanted to leave that murky, dirty life behind. What better way to escape a world you can't stand than to fly over it? It was the reason he liked being out on the carrier so much. With the setting sun bathing the decks orange and the seagulls calling out to each other overhead, it felt so disconnected from the hell that he was brought up in.

"Hey Mickey, you still awake over there?" Dan's voice called him back to reality.

"Hm? Yeah, I'm fine," He replied. Dan shrugged his shoulders and continued talking.

"So anyways, we were flying across the equator for the first time, and my Instructor in the back says..."

_________

It was a full moon over November City that night. Most of the city's inhabitants had probably turned in by now, or were out drowning their sorrows at the nearest watering hole. It wasn't much of a sight to behold from on high, as Alexander Herald could testify, from the top floor of Olympus International's headquarters. The elaborately designed building towered over the rest of the city. Herald's office phone rang. Herald strode over to it, picking it up after the fourth ring.

"Why hello, it's been too long since we've spoken," Herald's gravelly voice echoed into the receiver. He pulled his leather chair from under his desk and laid back into it.

"Yes, indeed. Our expansion is going swimmingly, thanks to your help, of course," he replied to the person on the opposite end. "I really have to say, those JSFs you managed to get for us were quite a treat...and your boss knows nothing of this?...Good. We're actually going to start sticking our fingers into Anea soon, give those Noble Kingdom reprobates some competition. We'll be scouting the local talent there as well, of course...Hm, yes, but I don't believe we'll be seeing those annoying pigeons again, after we hammered their little hideaway on Archelon..."

Herald paused as the speaker on the opposite end babbled away at him.

"And you had better not forget that we are the ones who helped you get into office!" he continued, in a firmer tone.

"Good, at least that's cleared up. Well, it's been lovely chatting to you again. I have some business to attend to..." Another pause.

"Same to you... Mr. Vice-President."

A snake-like smile curled on Herald's lips, as he put the receiver down.

Chapter 3

"Wakey-wakey, shithead!"

Costello forced his eyes open to see Julie leaning over him, dressed in her flightsuit.

"Ugh...Julie, you really gotta stop breakin' into my room. It's kinda starting to creep me out." He glanced over at his alarm clock on his night stand. "What the hell? My alarm isn't set to go off for another ten minutes."

"Aw, but you look so cute when you're asleep. And you know what they say about doing things a few minutes early. Now chop-chop, Cap wants us in the briefing room at the usual time."

"Ah, just give me a few more minutes..." he grumbled, closing his eyes again, before Julie grabbed him by both arms and swung him out of his bunk, banging his head off of the floor. He kept forgetting that she was a lot stronger than she looked.

"Ow, god damnit!! What the hell's the rush, anyway!?" he asked, angrily.

"Oh, you awake now bro?" she laughed. "Not sure, to answer your question. The Cap just wants everybody in the Wing to report to the briefing room, sounds important. Now get dressed and do your hair and make-up, I got some shite to fill out first."

With that she walked out. Mick picked himself up, before grabbing his flight-suit off of its hanger and his helmet off of his bedpost. His helmet had a green seven leaved shamrock design on it. He got dressed and left his quarters, closing the door behind him. He made his way to the Briefing room, finding every pilot in the Carrier Fighter Wing there. He took his seat among his squad-mates, before Durand walked into the room.

"Gentlemen," he began. "As of tomorrow at 0800 hours, we on the Golden King will be playing host to a joint military training exercise with a number of pilots from the well-known Private Military Company; Olympus International."

A wave of murmuring rippled through the room.

"As some of you may know," he continued. "This is the very first time that the Emmerian military has ever held an exercise such as this with a PMC. The exercises will include standard dogfighting wargames, and battlegroup assault and defense simulations. The pilots will be staying with us on the ship, so I expect you all to be professional and courteous to them."

"Yes sir," the pilots chanted.

"Finally, and most importantly," he smiled. "If any of you get yourselves beaten by these PMC dipshits I'll have you all swabbing the decks for the rest of your careers! Dismissed!"

_____

The PMC pilots arrived the next morning in their aircraft. Twelve of them, all flying F-35Bs.

"Lightning IIs, eh?" Mick noted, watching the first Olympus planes vertically land on the deck. A V-22 Osprey arrived soon after them, carrying their ground crew and their CO. Within the hour they were all summoned to the Briefing room again. Durand was standing at the top of the room, with the Olympus CO.

"Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Captain Philips, the Commanding Officer of the Olympus squadron that will be staying with us for the next week."

Philips stepped forward, clearing his throat.

"Good morning gentlemen. I'll have you know that it is an honour and a privelege to be working with you." He had an Osean accent. "Our intention of this exercise is to hone the skills of our pilots to better help Olympus International help make the world a safer place, as well as create a bond with the Emmerian Military that will be beneficial for all of us."

"Thank you Mr. Philips," Durand stepped forward again. "Now I'm sure all of you are chomping at the bit to show each other your stuff, so the first exercise will be at 1700 this evening. Maintenance is inspecting the fighters as we speak, so be ready to suit up when the time comes."

"I'll let my men introduce themselves," said Philips.

"Dismissed!"

"Sir!"

The captains left the room, leaving the pilots to their own devices. Some of them just left without a word, while Mick figured that if these guys were going to be staying on the carrier with them for a week, he might as well try to make a friendly first impression. He strode over to where a group of them were standing.

"Hey," he started to the pilot that looked like the leader of the group.

"The name's Costello, from 2nd Squadron, nice to meet ya." He extended his hand. The gaunt looking man stared at him for a second, before turning back to his team mates.

"Ok, so that's the way it is with you PMC jockeys," Mick muttered.

The Osean turned around at this. "Better watch your tongue, small fry. We ain't got the time to be dealing with amateurs the likes of you."  

Oh really now?

"Well, then, I suppose I'll take my leave then. Good day gentlemen." Mick turned heel and walked to the door, where Julie was waiting.

"Sooo, that went well, yeah?" she asked.

"Osean cunt."

Chapter 4

"Calling 2nd Squadron, "Ice" and Olympus "Zeus" Squadron, report to the flight deck and prepare to take off."

Mick hauled his helmet onto his head as he slid himself into the cockpit of his Hornet. He turned on the HUD and started the engines. Julie hopped into the WSO seat behind him, starting her own checks. She strapped her mask on her helmet. Hers had an edelweiss painted onto it.

"This is Ice 3 to tower, I'm pulling up to the cat, requesting take-off clearence," he called into his comm.

"Ice 3, take-off clearence granted. Please move to catapult two."

"Copy."

His aircraft wheeled towards the catapult. He launched into the air and within five minutes he was flying in formation with the rest of the team towards the designated area where the simulated dogfight would be taking place.

"Ice Lead to flight," Davis' stern voice squawked in. "All callsigns check in."

"Ice 2, on standby."

"Ice 3 on standby."

"Ice 4 on standby."

"Good, all planes, we are five miles out from the party zone. Remember the plan, close the distance on these assholes as quick as you can, and don't stray from your wingman. Over and out."

Arriving at the combat zone, they spotted the Olympus planes ahead of them. Up above, an E-2A Hawkeye kept an eye on both flights, acting as a referee for the match. It was standard dogfighting rules; both teams would make a head-on pass at each other before engaging. Only restriction was to keep a fifty metre space bubble around your plane at all times.

"Ready for this Julie?" Mick asked, turning his head around to her.

"I was fuckin' born ready," she winked. She reached over and put her hand on his shoulder. "Let's give 'em hell, buddy."

"Here they come," Davis' stern voice barked as four F-35s accelerated towards them head-on. "Get ready."

The two flights thundered past each other.

"Ice Team, Zeus Team, engage!" The AWACS operator barked out.

Mick pulled the stick right back into his gut and pushed the throttle all the way forward. The Hornet shot straight up.

"Talk to me Julie, can ya see what's going on down there?" Mick asked.

Julie turned around in her seat, looking down at the battleground. "One of those turkeys is tailing right behind us."

Just as planned. "Gotcha." Mick pulled back the throttle, opened the air brake and yanked the stick back again, causing the plane to double back, facing the pursuing Olympus plane. They were closing on each other fast. 

"Light him up, Julie!"

"Roger, guns!"

Julie pressed the trigger, but the simulated bullets missed their mark.

"Shit, we missed our chance," She said. 

"Stay cool, time for plan B," Mick replied. He pointed his nose back to the furball below. He saw Dan's plane had a bogey glued to him.

"Let's give Dan and Polly a hand."

Julie armed a dummy Sidewinder, and locked an Olympus fighter up. Solid tone.

"Ice 3, fox 2, fox 2!"

The Olympus pilot broke off his pursuit and jinked hard right. It was too late however, within three seconds the words "TARGET NEUTRALIZED" flashed in green on Mick's HUD.

"Zeus 2 has been shot down. One kill to Ice 3," The AWACS called out. Mick couldn't celebrate however, the F-35 that had been tailing him at the start was hot on his heels again. It fired a burst of cannon fire at Mick and Dan, who were now spaced closely together. Mick pulled a barrel roll and dodged out of harm's way. Dan wasn't so lucky however. "SEVERE DAMAGE TO WINGS, ENGINE, FUSELAGE, EJECT," flashed across his display in mocking red.

"Ice 4 is out of the game."

"Goddammit!" Dan cursed, as he steered his fighter out of the combat zone. "Yo Mickey, get that bastard for me will ya?"

"Just remember that you're buyin' tonight!" he replied.

"He's gaining on us," Julie warned. "Better pull something fancy."

Mick smirked. "Oh, I've got just the thing in mind for this jackass." He pulled the throttle back again, bringing the Lightning II in closer. He rolled to the left, before applying full forward stick and bottom rudder. The PMC pilot tried to follow him, but Mick suddenly pulled hard back and booted top rudder. Julie found herself being tossed around in the seat as the Super Hornet suddenly back-flipped. Mick pushed the throttle forward and regained control of the plane, the Olympus fighter sailing right into his line of sight.

"Hit 'im Julie!"

"Guns!"

However the PMC fighter wasn't going to give up yet. He immediately dumped his speed, before sending his F-35B into VTOL. The jump jet directed its engine down towards the sea, as the pilot yawed it off to the right, narrowly dodging the cannon shot. Mick and Julie sped right past him.

"Shit he's good," Julie growled.

"Yeah, but he's finished now." The Olympus pilot was a sitting duck as his aircraft attempted to recover its previous flight profile. Mick pulled the Hornet into a loop and pounced back down on him.

"Third time's the charm," Julie muttered as she pushed the trigger again. For the second time in as many minutes the "TARGET NEUTRALIZED" message flashed on their HUD.

"Zeus 1 has been shot down. All Olympus fighters are down. I repeat, all Olympus fighters are down," the AWACS operator's voice squawked in again.

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