Taking place sometime after the events of the former, a renowned ace pilot quietly returns to his normal life while remembering his past with someone special in his heart.
- Captain Shu Ouma - callsign "Talisman", he is the leader of the Republic of Emmeria Air Force's 28th Fighter Squadron, better known as the "Garuda Team". He was considered a bit young by some of his colleagues at Gracemeria Air Force Base.
- Inori Yuzuriha - the love interest of Shu Ouma. She first met him fifteen year prior to the events of the fanfiction on Christmas Eve.
- Lieutenant Marcus Lampert - callsign "Shamrock", he is second-in-command for the Garuda Team. Following his last mission, he was confined to a wheelchair due to his injuries sustained in battle. He was known to be married and had a daughter.
(Gracemeria Air Force Base - April 1, 2016)
As the morning sun slowly rises above the installation and the rest of the Anean continent, ground personnel waited paitiently for the return of the heroes who will bring home the victory and peace they have waited for so long. Some were holding their mugs filled with coffee or any other hot drink to help keep them awake following Estovakia's failed attack on Gracemeria.
In the control tower, they monitored the radar for any friendly aircraft. Then, the first friendly contacts were shown on-screen.
"I see 'em." The one who was overseeing the radar screen uttered which made the others come close. "Guys, they're back!"
Cheers erupted as the squadrons returned home with the confirmed destruction of the Estovakian superweapon, the Chandelier. "Garuda Team did it!" One said.
Outside the tower, they continued waiting until they can see a faint silhouette approaching.
"Is that Garuda Team?" A ground crewman asked. Others tried to take a closer look as well.
Inside the cockpit of his F-15E Strike Eagle decorated with the low-visibility emblem of the Republic of Emmeria Air Force's 28th Fighter Squadron, better known as the Garuda Team, the pilot began his approach to the runway. The aircraft's flaps were set for landing and the gears were deployed as well. He also maintained contact with the control tower as he closed in.
"Gracemeria Base, this is Garuda 1, I'm with you on visual approach to runway 09." He radioed.
"Garuda 1, this is Gracemeria Base, roger. Cleared for landing on runway 09." The control tower paused for a brief moment before speaking again. "Welcome home, sir."
The pilot made a gentle mirth. "Garuda One, roger."
On the ground, ground personnel clapped their hands and cheered as they saw the Strike Eagle gently landing on the runway. Its airbrakes were deployed earlier to slow down and mantain her speed. Knowing that he will be taxiing to park, they dutifully began to guide him to the flight apron. Once the plane made a complete stop, the pilot began to turn off the engines one last time. The cockpit ladders were then attached to the aircraft after the cockpit was opened.
Before that, the pilot took off his helmet to let in fresh air onto his head. This revealed his brown hair and maroon eyes on a look many would say as a bit young. He descended from his aircraft via the attached ladder and he sighed after a long night from defending Gracemeria from cruise missile attacks to his final mission over the scarred Sonne Island. The sight of people cheering and clapping relieved him.
"You okay, Talisman?" One asked upon seeing his tired look.
The sleep-deprived pilot took a small breath before replying. He also smiled for a moment. "I'm fine… The war is over now."
"Good, you should get some rest now that Estovakia won't be bothering us anymore." The crewman continued. "There's some hot breakfast waiting for you as well."
"Oh, thank you."
"What about Shamrock, sir?" He mentioned the callsign of his wingman upon noticing that he did not return with Talisman.
"He...he's down… Search teams are currently looking for him." He answered while hoping that he could have survived the trench run while looking for the back-up cooling unit. He bowed his head.
"I hope so too, sir. You gotta have faith and luck."
"Yeah." He then thought of something after raising his head and his mood changed a bit with a slight smile. "Hey listen, you go on ahead. I'll catch up."
"I'll let them know that you will follow later." The crewman responded. "Take the time you need, Talisman."
"Thank you." The pilot responded before the crewman left to meet up with the others.
Talisman began to take a look at the rising sun that was radiating the warm glow and gentle heat that calmed him. As a precaution, he shielded his eyes with his right hand and a moment after, he began to reach out for his pocket on the right thigh. What he brought out was a red cat's cradle that was being kept as a good luck charm and a memento of someone.
A few seconds after taking a good look at it, he returned to see the sun once more. "Shamrock…" He thought of his companion ever since they started flying together during the invasion of Gracemeria.
Then, he had another person to thank. "Inori… Thank you so much."
(Downtown Gracemeria - December 24, 2016)
Following an invitation given to him, Talisman began to head for The Rivelta Bar and Restaurant as written on the envelope to celebrate, alongside his fellow allies, the first Chirstmas Eve since the end of the war.
Months have passed since that day and everything has changed over time. The Generals, a group of military officers who were in charge of the Federal Republic of Estovakia following the end of the country's civil war, were ousted in a coup d'etat that allowed the country and Emmeria to negotiate for peace almost immediately after. His wingman, Lieutenant Marcus Lampert, returned home with a leg injury that forced him to be confined to a wheelchair for the time being.
Inside a taxi cab, the radio continued playing a popular anti-war song The Journey Home that made Shu and the driver relaxed. Outside, Christmas decorations lit up the city with its lively colors which made many people forget the suffering at the hands of the Estovakian soldiers during the occupation. When the last line was sung, the DJ began to take the microphone to say some words.
"That one here is the ever-lasting Journey Home sung by the guys across the pond six years ago." The DJ, Zed Waters, casually said as he began to offer a friendly message to people coming from outside Emmeria. "Before I might forget, I would like to say 'Merry Christmas' to Osea and Yuktobania for giving us this wonderful song. As well, I would like to say 'Merry Christmas' to Estovakia..."
Inside the restaurant, his fellow teammates began chatting over beer, cola, chips, and pool as they merrily celebrate. Two television sets were running a drama program from Usea as the people who were watching enjoyed the scenes.
On one table, three men were playing cards for enjoyement as the one with the green jacket kept his cards hidden, waiting for the right moment. Then, after a few minutes, he slammed them onto the table to shock them with the winning cards.
"Oh, come on!" A fellow pilot in his 30s, Daniel Pollini, reacted upon seeing them. "You lucky bastard, Stephen."
"Tehe. Guess I was just lucky this time." McCarthy responded with a friendly smirk before grabbing hold of his soda can. "It's not everyday you get to win at cards. It's just like what happened back in the air." He began to take a drink from the soda.
"At this rate, we might be getting some more lucky pilots just like Garuda." Pollini then withdrew the cards from playing.
"Yeah… Thought so."
"Speaking of which, I wonder where's Captain Ouma now?" The third one, Freddie Durand, wondered. "Can you try calling him?"
"Hold on, let me see." As he began to get hold of his cellphone, the entrance opened to reveal Captain Ouma wearing a neatly-prepared white sweater and brown pants as well as holding a brown coat. Everyone who was near him saw the captain and they began to say "quiet" in order to get their attention.
"Everyone, Captain Ouma's here!" Lampert shouted with a good mood and the whole crowd applauded and whistled at his arrival. He then went to his wingman. "Merry Christmas, Talisman."
"You two, Shamrock." Ouma responded with a warm smile.
"Yo guys, we have some spots waiting for you." Fellow pilot Justin Suzuki pointed to Ouma a vacant barstool reserved for him. "How about we get ya a round or two?"
"Only something non-alcoholic. I have something to do tomorrow." Lampert responded.
"Still thinking of your family?"
"Yeah. This will truly be my first Christmas without them." He then began to think of his wingman. "How about you, Shu? Do you have someone special?"
"Aside from my mom, I do have someone." He began to remember as he put himself onto the barstool. "Her name's Inori."
"Ooohhh… That's a pretty neat name." Suzuki responded.
"Definitely neat. She's the reason why me and us are still alive today."
"What makes you think so?" Lampert asked. "Thinking too much of her instead of the mission would have gotten us killed or probably worse..."
"I know, it's just that… Whenever I can remember the things she had done, they calmed me and urged me to fight on."
"Just like what you said back when you blew up the Chandelier's barrel. That just caught us off-guard for a moment then." Suzuki then began to drink his beer for a second. "You said on the radio her name after saying Shamrock's and you said it was for both them and us."
"Tehehe." Lampert chuckled. "Guess you have the willpower of everyone so that you can end the war and come back home alive, eh?"
"Right...thanks for the reminder." Shu then began to signal the bartender as he began to prepare his order. "One San Loma Cooler."
"You got it." The bald bartender happily responded as he began to prepare the drink.
"Speaking of which Suzuki, what are you planning to do for Christmas?"
"Oh, I've got some plans for tomorrow but I won't tell 'em." The pilot refused to reveal them.
"Suit yourself." Lampert decided to join in. "I won't tell mine either."
For a few minutes, a friendly argument ensued and as Shu happily watched, his drink arrived. The lime slice sit at the top edge of the slender glass while a decorative red umbrella laid against on the opposite quadrant. "Here ya go, angel. San Loma Cooler." The bartender uttered. "Enjoy."
"Thank you." He then held the glass firmly in his hand as he began to sip it via a black straw. A moment after, he turned his attention to the red umbrella. For a few moments, he stared at it before taking it out of the cooler. Lampert and Suzuki stopped to see the pilot looking at said umbrella.
"Ouma, you okay there?" The latter asked.
He then snapped back to reality after hearing the words. "Yeah. I just...lost my focus for a moment." Shu responded and he returned the umbrella to the glass.
"Looks like something has gotten a hold of you." Lampert followed. "It must be all about Inori, right?"
Suddenly, a man arrived and gently patted the captain at the left shoulder. "Hey Talisman, Shamrock." The Garuda Team then turned to see him.
"Oh...Stewart, good to see you." Shu responded to the man who was known as 'Snake Pit' when in battle.
"Guess that you people are just having some fun for yourselves while I wasn't here." The pilot then thought of a proposal. "Sorry if I am a bit late for the cheering."
"It's okay. What happend on the way here, Stewart?" Lampert asked.
"Traffic...as we were approaching downtown. Apparently, some guy just acted stupidly by leaving his car without his handbrake on and it ended up in the middle of the road. Took a short while before we can move again."
"Ouch. Must be in a hurry or something."
"Maybe." He turned to see Talisman. "Say Captain, how about we play a game of billiards? Just the two of us."
"No, thank you." Shu politely declined. "I've done much today."
"Okay then. Well, I'll see you two around." Stewart then began to leave for the other veterans within the restaurant.
"We will." Lampert responded before taking a drink from his iced tea. He then turned his head to the left to see Shu again. "Well, guess it's just you and me, Shu." He then remembered something. "By the way…" A small Christmas present decorated with a red decorative wrapper and green ribbon was shown. "...when you get back home."
Shu received the present. "Thank you, Shamrock." A heartfelt response was aired before revealing his present for his wingman, a wider one which featured a slender and more rectangular shape, a decorative blue wrapper, and a white ribbon. "For you as well."
Lampert received the present as well. "Merry Christmas, Talisman."
The moody atmosphere continued as the veterans enjoyed themselves.
After approaching his destination, he departed the taxi with the fare paid. With his coat on, he walked through the almost empty walkways which were lit by the lamp posts shining their light. A few people decided to walk or do some other things in this particular area, partly since the park was scheduled to remain open until 1 AM on Christmas Day.
As he walked, he took a moment to see his watch. It displayed both hands pointing at 12 indicating midnight and, more importantly, Christmas Day have arrived. He then received a message from a friend: Hare Menjou. It read, "Merry Christmas, Shu...and I just arrived at the airport." It was then accompanied by an emote of a smiley face at the end of the sentence.
Wasting no time, he began to call her and upon dialing the numbers, he put his phone on his right ear to talk to her. "Hey Hare…"
"Oh, Shu. You received that message earlier, right?" His friend cheerfully responded.
"Yeah, I did. How's the flight from Bana?"
"A bit tiring, to say the least. I had to take some naps just to keep myself awake for Christmas... or today. But ya know, your best friend will be here celebrating with our old classmates." She then chuckled.
Shu made a gentle mirth in response. "Funnily enough, I just came out from a party with a bunch of my squadmates from the air force."
"Did you have a fun time there?"
"Well...yeah, I did."
"Good." She began to sigh. "Listen, I'll be ending this call. We'll see each other again sometime, alright? Merry Christmas… And toodles."
"You too, Hare." The call ended and he returned his phone to the right pocket.
While walking, a particular feminine voice was heard singing from a distance. Although it was faint, he can understand it being sung in a language that came from a certain Usean country from where his family came from, and her voice was reminiscent of Inori's. He followed the voice as it grew slightly clearer and clearer. The question is, is she really Inori?
After walking, he came across a pond where a wooden platform was built upon the bank and nearby lamp posts kept the area lit enough for him to see. The only girl standing on the platform was wearing a white winter dress. Her light pink hair showed signs of being tied to a particular style as the hair began to separate from the back of her neck towards the front.
Shu slowly walked towards the girl but decided to maintain some distance away from her as began to muster his courage to ask.
The name touched her and she began to turn around. This allowed her to reveal herself to Shu with open arms as he expressed his shock. Her beautiful appearance which consisted of red eyes and the rest of her hair, all tied into pigtails with two red tubes, greeted him. She was also wearing a pendant of some kind.
"Shu…" She called out his name. "You're finally here."
"I'm glad to see you again, Inori." All Shu did was emotionally reply with a warm smile from his face as he began to approach her.
"What brought you here, Shu?"
"I felt that you were guiding me here after hearing the song you sang a while ago."
"And what do you think of it?" She asked for his reply.
It took Shu a little moment to construct his honest opinion. "...beautiful." Inori felt cheerful at his response as a result. "Just like before."
"I'm glad that you liked it." The two began to walk toward the wooden rails at the edge of the pond. "This moment… It reminds me of the day we first met here on the same day fifteen years ago."
"And you think you may have wished for something from Santa?" Shu asked.
"Yes. What I wished for right now…" She took a step back. "...is to be with you."
She moved her body towards him for a memorable moment.
What she did was kiss Shu in the lips. The two closed their eyes as their love for each other remained strong. A moment after, she backed herself away.
"I love you… Shu."
He paused for a moment.
"I love you too… Inori."
The two exchanged a warm smile at each other before Shu blinked his eyes.
When he opened it, Inori was nowhere to be seen. Even if he did blink, she could not have disappeared very quickly.
It turns out that, unbeknownst to most people, she had left the world a long time ago. Nevertheless, Shu remained happy that he had met her in his dreams. His mind deserved a peaceful and tender moment that would allow him to relax from the fighting he participated for some time.
As he turned his head towards the pond, he thought of Inori while watching the fireworks lit up the night sky.
"Merry Christmas, Inori."