• I stood upon the crest of a hill, over looking the now smoldering remains of what was East Ouran, the enemy capital. I glanced over at Storm, our company flight leader, and my friend, as I spoke barely above a whisper, afraid to disturb the still calm that had settled over the warfront “Is it over… is the war finally over?” I asked hesitantly

    “It’s never over.” Storm replied, “There is no end to wars, just pauses no matter how brief or long, between the battles of one great war.”

    “Hmm?” I enquired of my flight lead, showing a little more of my confusion then I intended.

    “There is no end to war… alliances shift, and those fighting them change, but war in itself never changes. Its always two people killing each other for reasons they shouldn’t.” Storm turned to me with these words, removing the flight helmet that hid her face.

    I noticed now, for the first time since I met her, how beautiful she was. Her pale skin, a soft reflection of her amber eyes, and the locks of bronze hair framing her delicate features. It was hard to believe at a glance that she, with the features of a porcelain doll, could be the Valiant Storm, who almost single handedly won us the war.

    “Roger, you have to decide what kind of a person you’re going to be.” Her words caught me by surprise, and made me stumble over myself for a response, before she continued on as if I had said something intelligible, “There are three kinds of pilots in this world; Knights fight for honor and their country. Following orders as blindly as ever, until eventually burning out in a blaze of glory upon the earth. Mercenaries fight for money and have no ideology other then surviving to the next job. And finally, Warriors fight for ideals and personal belief, no matter how misguided or foolish.”

    I swallowed slightly, before speaking “Ma’am… what kind are you?” though I think I already knew the answer before she replied.

    “Me? I’m a different kind of pilot. I’m one of the last of the old Aces.” she smiled at me, tucking her helmet slightly under her arm “I live for the moments between life and death you find in battle. Where those killing at one moment, are in the next dead themselves. There is a brief pause in battle, where life and death hold no meaning. That’s why I fight, and that’s why I live.”

    She shifted her pose slightly to the side, letting her hair fall in front of her delicate features, as she spoke in that smooth heavenly tone of hers “And that’s why I have to return to the skies.”

    “Captain… do you think we’ll ever meet again?” I asked her

    She nodded slightly “There’s always going to be another battle somewhere, someone will have political or economic interest in an area, and that’ll lead us into another war. That’s where you will find me… in the skies above this earth; dancing amongst the clouds and watching the spectacle of life and death played out in just moments, endlessly repeated.”

    She lifted her gaze a moment, watching a small squadron of fighters pass by over head, the flight leader drawing a slightly sharper contrail then the others. I watched as well, wondering just what she saw of such interest, she was never one to gaze idly at the planes that flew over head before… and then, just as she spoke I realized it.

    “There, he’s like me, one of the old Aces.” she placed her flight helmet on and shook my hand “Its time for me to go Roger, the blue skies are calling me home, and somewhere out there is another battle for me to fight. We’ll meet again, maybe not as allies, but as friends.”

    With that she turned, and she left… I knew what she meant by that. Even if I and the Captain ever had to fight, we’d still be friends. We wouldn’t mourn the loss of the other, we wouldn’t have to… for the sky is the Captains home, and in each battle, there is a moment between life and death, where either holds no meaning.

    Its there, that the Captain would live on forever.

    I looked upwards, wondering if I’d catch a glimpse of the Captains plane, or the other Ace who flew over head just moments ago, I even recognized his markings… Halo Six, the Fallen Angel they called him.

    It was said about him, that his country, his family… all of it was taken from him one day when he was flying in the sky. Now, nobody knows what he flies for… he just takes to the sky and like the Captain, seems to not survive, but thrive in those precious few moments between life and death.

    Maybe that’s how he reconnects to his family, I didn‘t know then. All I knew for certain is that the Captain longed to meet him in battle. To test herself against someone such as him, and if need be, fall from the skies but never to return to the earth. Her spirit would always remain up there. It’s where she belonged, and where she needed to be when she died.

    I knew then, I could never be like the Captain. The foolish notion that she could ever love me was pointless. I couldn’t ever abandon my country, my friends or my duty to them. No matter what I think, I will fly for my country, no matter what mistakes they make. That is my duty as a soldier.

    That wasn’t the last time I ever saw the Captain or him either. Maybe I’ll tell you what happened to the two of them someday.

    But before that, I think its best if we take a moment to remember that war, my first war. The one that brought me to know the Captain, to love her for all she was and all I couldn’t have, and him; this Ace of Old lost to the blinding fury of his sorrow.

    Yeah, maybe I’ll tell you that story someday… and then, if you’d like I’ll tell you the story of what happened to the Captain and him afterwards.