9: Shorebirds (1/3)

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March 27, 2180 (New Era Calendar)/
Antilla System, Alloyo Military Academy, Alloyo

On the massive viewer in the mess hall, a pair of ancient fighter planes rolled and swooped about scored with the strumming of electric guitars.

It had been a week since Alpha Squadron returned from its first live engagement and days since their return from Antilla Prime. The academy was abuzz upon Alpha Squadron's return. They were almost like celebrities as they were the first ever trainee squadron to engage in combat against a superior force and return with no casualties.

Some members in the squadron were living it up. And some chose to let others enjoy the spotlight. The rest of them just enjoyed the company of their comrades. And then there was one in particular that had a little too much fun.

Upon their return, Kalvyn, with Dara's help, hacked the main viewer in the mess hall, and for a short period after their return, turned it into a killboard. And only news briefings would bypass the hack.

The kill tally from Arveria was accurate save for one huge, glaring error. It showed that Nikoman Ariades was the lowest pilot on the ladder coming up kill-less when in fact there was another pilot who had come up with no kills and somehow, his name sat atop the killboard, proclaiming him as an instant-Ace with eight kills.

That was all until the Commander got wind of the situation and forced Kalvyn to show the true tallies which were exactly the same, except Kalvyn was in his true spot tied for last with Nikoman. Izzy rested at the top with five kills—he was now an ace. Antes downed four at Arveria putting him one away from being a part of the prestigious ranks of combat aces. Jamin, Michan, Dara and Jenson each had a pair of kills a piece. Karina, Indelli, Camilo, and Savela each managed a single kill.

But after a day of the killboard being the only thing on the main viewer, Kalvyn was ordered to come up with new programming as punishment. And fortunately for him, while on Antilla Prime, he was able to score a cache of films and music, some dating back as far as the twentieth-century of the Old Era. The movie on display was an immediate hit with the cadets as it idolized the lifestyle they were actually living, albeit a handful of millennia previous.

Kalvyn sat at a table with Jenson as the two laughed over trays-full of cafeteria grub when a special news report flashed up on the screen.

"This is Reiko Almeida, reporting live from the GSA Battle Cruiser Deliverance. Gravenda has fallen. I repeat: Gravenda has fallen to the Confederation of Seceded Systems. At the moment, it is currently unknown as to how Alliance ground forces were so swiftly eliminated. Rumors throughout the fleet purport that the Confederation's crack special operations unit, codenamed the Royal Flush, is responsible for the Alliance's ground defeat."

Before the reporter could conclude, the camera angle rocked and the viewer would be able to see the reporter restrained by a group of marines.

In the background voices shouted.

"Kill that transmission now!"

After a scuffle, the feed cut to static, and then the viewer promptly returned to showing the film.

Kalvyn quipped, "Dammit, I just missed my favorite part."

"Can't you be serious for once?"

"I can be. But where's the fun in that? Besides, what the hell should we care about Gravenda? We're not a part of the Alliance."

"Yeah, you're right."

"Anyway, we've got four more days to put that plan into motion."

"Why the first of April, anyway?"

"I dunno, Jenson. Just feels like the right time."

- - -

I come to you with a free spirit, a pure heart and empty hands. My spirit, the vessel of innocence that must be protected. My heart the guiding light by which I direct my spirit. Empty hands, the only weapon needed to defend the defenseless. I come to you with the strength of Bahamut, protector of the realm of the living. I come to you with Somoya, the way of the wind.

I come to you with the will to defend, and the conviction to strike.

I come to you with Bahamut Somoya, the fist of the wind.

What is it that I see beyond my fist?

That which comes to me. My fate.

Indelli Eslos opened her eyes and her pupils dilated from the intense fluorescent light. She rose to her feet and took her stance, legs shoulder-length apart, left foot forward, left arm extended. She spun, struck and scythed her way through an intricate circle, stepping foot over foot.

She hit the air with a chain of fists, her hands kinetic blurs of motion, as she glided forward and backwards, her graceful movements a dance. A flowing torrent of power and strength. A wave crashing down on the beachfront. Each breath a metronome pacing every movement.

The door to the training room hissed open, but Indelli ignored it, too dialed in for external distractions. It was another handful of seconds before the cries for help jolted her from her zoned in state. Immediately, Indelli's neck snapped around to see Nikoman Ariades pinned to the ground just beyond the threshold to the training room. She hurried over and quickly punched in a string of commands on the keypad. Instantly, gravity in the room returned to .98g.

"Oh man, Niko. I'm so sorry!" Indelli said, helping her friend back to her feet.

Fighting to regain her breath, Nikoman stood and brushed loose strands of blonde hair from her face. "What was that?"

"It's how I train. I dial up the gravity to six or seven times normal and then..."

Niko shook her head. "No, not that. What were you doing out there? I've never seen that before."

Realization dawned on Indelli's face. "Ohhh, that? It's called Bahamut Samoya. Translated from some Old Era dialect, it means Fist of the Wind."

She looked over to Niko and saw her friend's curious expression. "So many questions. Where'd you learn it? Who taught you? Can you teach me?"

Indelli chuckled. "Slow it down, Niko. Slow it down. I found the manuscripts in one of the old libraries underneath my dad's house. And I kinda just picked it up over the years. A little here. A little there. And sure. If you're game."

Niko's face lit up. "Yeah, I'm definitely game."

Dabbing at the sweat pouring down her neck with a towel, Indelli smiled at Niko.

"Alright then. I guess we start here tomorrow." 

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