1: Humble Beginnings (1/3)

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January 21, 2180 (New Era Calendar) /
Antilla System, Alloyo Military Academy, Alloyo

Pilot Candidate Antes Eslos stared out past the expansive window. Out beyond -- a cloud-strewn blue sky. A pair of starfighters punched through the clouds and Antes couldn't keep the smile off of his face.

The days since arriving to Alloyo's Pilot Candidate school often dragged -- bogged down by lessons of battles long past or ancient tails of political machinations gone wrong. To be honest, none of that really mattered to Antes. Especially not when compared to mounting anticipation he felt at the prospect of strapping into a starfighter and firing off into the wild blue yonder and beyond -- beating the place up and pushing himself as well as his machine past its intended limits.

Antes ran a hand through a head of brown hair as he kept his gaze on the streaking fighters, tracking them as they danced skyward.

"Beating the place up," as he understood it referred to a low level aerobatic display that may or may not garner disciplinary action and there was something about that idea that intrigued him. The son of the Antilla Star System's Prime Minister, Antes Eslos enjoyed a life of privilege that few of his peers could and though most would envy him that, Antes believed that his privilege came at a cost.

That cost? Freedom.

While most people Antes' age had already experienced so much, the young cadet himself had not. The joy of first love. The pain of its heartbreak. The fun of hanging with friends past curfew. Hell, the idea of a group of friends, even. These were things Antes had never experienced but wanted to. Despite that desire, making friends was a low priority.

He was there to fly. To become a pilot. To be the best.

There was yet a long way to go before that could even become a possibility. Getting to Alloyo all its own had been a rough journey, especially since the disapproval of his father could have killed Antes' dream of becoming a pilot before it even started.

The young pilot pulled his attention away from the fighters carving up the sky and placed it on one of his classmates, a brown-haired girl that shared the same color of dark brown eyes with Antes. His twin sister, Indelli applied to Alloyo at the same time, and though they both shared the same experience growing up in the capitol on Antilla Prime, Indelli had adjusted much better to their new reality than Antes had.

Antes firmly believed that it was thanks to Indelli that their father allowed him to remain at Alloyo -- and he was truly grateful for that. With that, however, came a hit of jealousy. I wish you could trust me, dad, Antes thought to himself before stuffing that thought deep within the recesses of his mind. Whatever the case, Antes vowed to make the most of the opportunity.

His eyes darted around the amphitheater he shared with another forty or so pilot candidates. A few of them, he recognized, but the majority of them were simply faces in a crowd -- and if Antes was honest with himself, competition to make it through the program.

An alert bleeted from his wrist chronometer prompting Antes to glance down. 0800 hours.

On cue, from the door in the back of the amphitheater, entered a tall, slender, dark-skinned man garbed in a navy-blue flightsuit. Fluorescent light gleamed off of the man's bald head as he strolled down the center aisle of the theater. A patchwork collage of battle tabs sewn on the flightsuit's breast pocket chronicled a long, storied career. Three gold stripes and an eight-pointed star identified his rank -- Commander.

The pilot candidates shot to their feet and remained at attention until he stood in front of them behind the dais.

He was Commander Myles Warren and in the short time Antes had been at Alloyo, the Commander earned the reputation of a man that should not be trifled with. The cadets held their salute for another half a minute before the Commander flashed a gap-toothed smile at them.

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