Returning home; the emotions, memories, and past crash over you like a bittersweet waves. You get to see your friends, your family, and the town you grew up in but the faces and places have changed. Some of the faces grow up, while others begin to wrinkle. Some of your favorite places are broken down or gone altogether, replaced with something new. The faces you remember are still there but the crashing reality of time passed can drown you in a tide of ever passing moments.
Some of those moments and faces are harder to watch through time. Your grandfather who you remember being active and walking everywhere, now needs a cane and doesn’t get around very easily now. He played cards with you, took you on driving lessons, took you fishing, took you to the apple orchard and for ice cream. He truly taught you and showed you some amazing things but he has grown too tired for many of those things now. He just doesn’t have the strength to keep doing the things he loved and shared with you. In many ways, he changed once your grandmother had passed. They had been married for so long and had so much love for one another. They both had taken you on so many adventures. They took you to the lake, mushroom hunting, fishing, so many parks and played so many games with you. Time, however, took her before she could meet your wife and kids.
Then you see your once strong and seemingly invincible father, limp. He is still the incredibly strong person you remember but his ability to hide his pain simply is not as strong as it had been some time ago. He took you fishing holes that were beyond anyones dreams. The fish were huge and always bit. He also took you to the river a few times and were able to see him fight some truly large fish. He showed you some of the best places in nature and showed you how to find some of the healthy roots you can eat. He tried to teach you so many different things about nature and the world but you didn't always listen. You didn't always go with him and skipped out on so many more lessons and adventures.
Your mother has not escaped time either, she had darker hair that has gone gray some time ago. Her once smooth face has begun to wrinkle. She tried to teach you so much as well. You didn’t always respect her and treated her poorly. She was truly patient even when you were like that. She showed you love and always cheered you on.
We all have stories like this, we all have people that we love and it’s hard to see how time has changed them. The difficulty with time, is that even in our absence, it doesn’t stop. Those we love, have grown older with every passing moment. Time is truly a cruel and uncaring beast. Time is said to be a great healer but often times, it deals the most pain. Time does not allow the strong or the kindest of men to escape… it catches up to all of us. We fill our minds with thought that we have plent of time but we don’t. It is easy to have regret because of time wasted. Use your time wisely. Spend time with those you love and don’t rush it. You never know when their time or yours will be up.
You, the reader, are traveling to a new world. One not quite different from our own to meet a man named Duke. Duke is a pilot in the Terrestrial Air Armament or TAA for short. He is flying his final pass in the stratosphere with his co-pilot, Razor.
Duke and Razor's jet shook violently, as if something next to them had broken the sound barrier. Up above, Duke saw the clouds above were spreading and evaporating quickly.
"Razor, do you see what's causing that anomaly above us?" Duke asked, trying to identify the source.
"I can't see anything on the scanners," Razor responded, his voice tense.
Duke grited his teeth, his mind racing to find a solution. The safety of their airspace depended on them, and he couldn't let his guard down.
"Prepare for evasive maneuvers," Duke commanded, his hands tightening on the controls.
“Right-o” Razor’s fingers moving swiftly over the console. The jet banked and rolled as they tried to prepare for the ever approaching anomaly.
"This thing is going way too fast! It’s shredding the air above us!” Razor shouted.
Duke's heart pounded in his chest as he thought of the different possibilities. He wondered if they were being attacked by one of the other superpowers. Regardless of what it was, he steeled his resolve and focused all his attention on the sky above.
"Razor, we're going into a dive," he stated firmly. "Hold on tight."
The dark orb flew past them at incredible speed, causing their aircraft to quake violently. An alarm began blarring. “Their jet wash has us, we’ve got to correct it.” Razor said calmly as he pressed different buttons to try and stablize the craft. The Interceptor was picking up speed as they plummeted through the atmosphere. One of the screens began to flash and the warning continued to blare.
“The Gs are surpassing 10, I’m turning on the internal stabilizers.” Razor said casually as he flipped the switch. The newer I-9 had internal stablizers that allowed pilots to sustain higher G-forces than originally imagined. After a few more tense moments, Duke was able to regain control and rocketed back up to 5,000 feet.
“We went up to 13.2 Gs, that’s the highest we’ve hit so far.” Razor said with a nervous laugh.
"We need to alert HQ," Duke said with a fierce tone. "The orb has stopped and is hovering around Cherubs 5 above the LIberty Sea. I have a feeling this isn’t a foreign power.”
Razor turned on the radio, “JNTAC, we have had visual contact with a bogey. It is hovering around Cherubs 5 above the Liberty Sea.” The radio began to beep and then blared an unending beep. Razor smacked radar a few times but it continued to blare. “Radar is bent.” Razor said as he hit it again.
“Be advised, we are receiving similar reports from across all regions. Keep your eyes open boys.” The radio crackled
“Roger that.” Razor responded
The shining sea below them started to darken. The radar continued to blare the solid beep. Looking above, the sky was filled with orbs. Without words, they both hit buttons on their displays and readied their weapons. They had never seen anything like this before, and they knew that they were facing an unprecedented threat.
Razor methodically prepared the weapons and readied all stabilizers. The radio crackled on, “Bug out boys, return to base.”
Duke and Razor sat there quietly, a feeling of dread settling in the pit of their stomachs. They opened up the thrusters and shot through the sky. They ripped through the air, weaving through the falling orbs. Their I-9 rattled with the amount of force that they were putting it through. They were pushing it to its limit. Orbs were falling everywhere and it was tough to see. They finally broke free from the onslaught of falling orbs. The airspace in front of them was free and clean.
*Update: I went back through and decided to clean this up a bit. I am going back through each of the stories to clean them up before continuing the rest of the story.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy the updates!