• Fields of Blue
    By Scott Zirpolo

    “‘The Sky belongs to everyone,’ my father used to tell me. After seeing what Arkhang is doing over this little country, I’d say that they were abusing that privilege.”

    C h a p t e r Z e r o

    Despite the whine of his plane’s turboprop engine, Erich could hear his heart pounding in his chest. His head was on a swivel. If he lost track of his target, he would be killed.
    He inverted his pitch to keep up with his ‘dance partner’ (as his old friend Alaric used to call them) and followed him into a semi-controlled spin. Within moments they had entered what was known as a ‘death spin’, each plane banking towards the other, circling around as they plummeted until one caught the other in his gun sights.
    Suddenly the enemy plane was passing in front of him, so close he could bounce a stone off its propeller blades. At first Erich feared a collision and froze, but that lasted only an instant. The enemy was perfectly exposed to him, lined up in the centre of his sights. He held his finger against the trigger as he stared into the enemy’s cockpit, and he saw a man not dissimilar to himself, wearing the same expression he himself would wear if he knew he was about to die. Now unable to shoot, Erich rolled out of the way to avoid crashing into the other plane.
    He breathed for a moment, then turned his head to see where the other plane had gone.
    Now his eyes widened in horror as he watched the enemy plane bear down on him exactly as he had done moments before. He squeezed them shut as the bullets began to fly...

    And that, perhaps, is the difference between a pilot and a fighter.