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Blooming of Nobles is a short story included as part of TSFIA.


#64 Blooming of Nobles

September 21, 2001. Yukon Base, Alaska, United States of America
The border to the Soviet Union and the forefront of the “Cold War”. Where the hidden agendas and conflict of the east and west meet.
To the world at large, though, it was the foremost grounds for international Research and Development of prototype weapon platforms as a multinational effort. The testing grounds where the world’s most advanced TSFs come to be tested and improved.
Currently however, this base, and its very meaning and existence, are under the shadow of a dark web of conspiracy. Within the very heart of this conspiracy, death roams freely.
Calm down!
Japanese Imperial Royal Guard, Lt. Yui Takamura and her allies, have managed to escape the jaws of death from their terrorist pursuers. Hiding within the urban training range A-207, the group finally has some time to catch their breaths, and evaluate their current situation.
Currently they are a group of 5 machines. The two F-15E Strike Eagles both suffered moderate to severe damages to its various components, and save for a combat knife, both machines are otherwise unarmed. Even though the pilots of the two TSFs are Lt. Cui Yifei of the Unified Front of China and 2nd Lt. Cryska Barchenowa, who both are considered Ace pilots, there is only so much one can do when they run out of ammo and weapons in the middle of a close quarter firefight. Though Lt. Cui seems to be handling herself pretty well for only using her TSF’s fists.
The other two TSFs are what she poured her heart, blood, and sweat into developing. The current true prototype of the next generation Shiranui Second. Their pilots are the melee knife specialist 2nd Lt. Tarisa Manandal of the Nepali Army, and 2nd Lt. Yuuya Bridges of the US Army, and chief test pilot of the XFJ project. Manandal is down to only one type 74 Blade, and Bridges having one Ws-16c assault cannon he disarmed from an terrorist F-16C in the previous engagement; no spare magazine clips.
And finally herself, piloting the pride of the Empire, a Type-00F Takemikazuchi. Her weapons are the one remaining Type 74 Blade and 2 hidden wrist blades, and of course the fact that the Takemikazuchi from head to toe is covered in blades and sharp surfaces, all ready to give her opponent an nasty surprise when in melee.
Anywhere in the world, anyone of these pilots would be considered an Ace pilot, but armed with so little, the situation looked bleak to say the least.
Her radar beeped out a warning as enemy contacts started to appear at the edge of her detection range. 24 bogeys, all F-16C, and with her experience fighting them the past couple hours, she knew that a large number of them would be unmanned drones. Whether they are remote controlled or some sort of rudimentary AI program, she does not know, but she does know is that they are without pilots, and fight without self-preservation or hesitation to overwhelm their enemies, while their manned TSF sit back and pick off their targets when the drone TSF distracts them.
Eight of the F-16C are armed with short-medium range multipurpose homing missiles. Right now, with no remaining countermeasures systems on any of the friendly TSFs, if they break cover for the open ground and get locked-on by a missile, its game over. Staying in the urban terrain here is their only hope of surviving and evading the missiles.
“So… what now? We could always split up and hope they don’t get us all.”
Everyone knows Lt. Cui was only joking about spliting up. Against such numbers of pursuers, splitting up would be no better, if not worse, than sticking together.
Think, think, think.
Lt. Sandek, who is currently hitching a ride in 2nd Lt. Barchenowa’s F-15E suggested that a portion of the group stay behind to be the rearguard, while the remainder head for the Russian base, which was still so far unbreached by the terrorist.
But in that situation…… we will not abandon someone while we run away with our tail between our legs.
Unconsciously, her view drifted towards Yuuya’s Shiranui Second, and then down to the hands of her TSF.
A Shiranui of blue and white with her golden yellow Takemikazuchi.
For but a moment, her mind traveled back to that terrible day 3 years ago, her first bitter taste of war.
How she lost her squad leader, her friends, and was forced to take on the weight of leadership on her first sortie. That day in her golden yellow Zuikaku, she was saved by her instructor, piloting a Shiranui Type-1C, who then choose to remain behind as a rearguard so she may escape. It was the last time she ever saw him.
Ever since then, she had fought in more fighting retreats, and earned few true victories. In those three years, she had crawled and treaded over countless more corpses in her path of warriorhood, to become the soldier she is today.
Captain Sanada, is this now finally the time…..
It was an needless thought, the choice for the rearguard is obvious. Her Takemizakuchi is the least damaged and possess the most usable weapons. Still, even she realizes that against two full squadrons of TSFs armed with guns and missiles, charging in head-on with her Takemizakuchi would be suicide.
Father... what should I do...?
Her gaze shifted from her TSF’s hand to her own open palm, and she clenched it.
But just before she is about to volunteer herself, a voice cut her off on the radio.
“Argos 1 to Whitefang 1…”
It was a voice she has grown quite familiar with the past couple month, the voice of Yuuya Bridges.
Seeing his face on her communication window and looking into his eyes she already knows what he is about to say.
“I’m the only one with an assault cannon, I should be able to buy enough time for you guys to get away.”
She knows this, but because she knows, she cannot bear to allow it. Yuuya’s voice was one full of conviction and confidence, he did not sound like someone who sought his own death, or is willingly putting down his life for his friends in a hopeless situation. No, Yuuya is someone who had found his purpose, he knows what he must do.
“Yuuya…..” Already Yui can feel her expression turning towards bitter desperation, she wanted to plead, but she knows…
As one born of noble blood, her Fudai family had the responsibility of generations of service and duty. As the one appointed by the Empire to oversee the success of the XFJ project, she knows what she must do-
“Yui! I will survive! A promise is a promise… So...”
At that moment, Yui closed her eyes, and memories of that day came pouring back. The voice, the expression and the fearless eyes of that man who piloted the Shiranui. His unshakable will, just like the man in front of her now. She would not allow herself to shed a single tear to dishonor either man, or their convictions.
Unlike that day, the man before her now is not someone who she is forced to rely on for protection, but rather a man who shares her goals, and had chosen to walk the same path, and ultimately her equal, and is someone she can trust her back to in any situation.
I believe in him!
Opening her eyes, she reformed her calm exterior and steeled her heart.
Yui Takamura, Eishi of the Imperial Royal Guard, loudly and with her tone full of authority, issued out her order.
“Whitefang 1 to all unit. We will leave Argos 1 here as the rearguard. Fly fast and don’t look back. Believe in Lt. Bridges.”
September 21, 2001. During the ever so infamous Yukon incident, a new turning point has begun with the ushering of those words.

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