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  • 📅 May and June 2024 are YE 46.4 in the RP.

RP A Family Matter

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Retired Staff
RP Date
YE 44.8
RP Location
Fort Shotou
Landing at Fort Shotou after nearly ten years in the Star Army really brought Coconut back to her time on Pisces station after initial creation back in YE 35. Born just too late to serve in the second Mishhuvurthyar war, the Neko was able to participate in a single action against the 'squids' before a period of peace. The hustle and bustle at this training base made her feel comfortable, as the amount of activity was much more exciting than sitting around waiting. Sure, she had taken part in some interesting missions, and had been able to fight through the Kuvexian war, but the somewhat older Neko was here for a change of pace from her life as an infantrywoman. Learning to be a fighter pilot, she hoped, would lead to more new experiences, more excitement, and ultimately less boredom. Or so Coconut hoped. She hefted her duffel bag over her shoulder of her well loved cornflower-paneled type 35 uniform, and headed to where she had been told to go to process into the base properly.

Soft furred ears perked up on either side of short, messy hair full of subdued browns, oranges and greys as the veteran Nekovalkyrja noticed something odd in the crowd ahead of her. It was another Neko, with the same hair color, the same furred ears, and the same height, except sporting a bob cut instead of her own shorter hair. It had been near a decade since she'd seen anyone with those same distinctive colors- the colors shared by every Neko in her batch of 250 Neko, which she hadn't seen done since. Not to say it wasn't possible, but it was highly unlikely that the Neko in front of her was from a different batch. Going out on a limb, she sent a telepathic message. "51043520, what's your last three?" she asked, and watched the woman in front of her jump slightly in surprise at the communication.

"Ah! It- It's 202!" a voice just a hair different from her own responded. "Yours?" she asked in return, looking around for the sender, before turning to face a chuckle from behind her.

"198, looks like you're my little sister," Coconut said out loud, approaching the other. "I'm Coconut, power armor infantry, here to become a pilot. What are you here for?"

"Hazelnut, Communications specialist, but I'm trying for the same," the bob-cut Neko responded, having recovered from the little bit of shock from earlier. "I've been stuck on a bridge so long, I felt like I needed a change of scenery."

"Well, this will definitely be a new experience for the both of us, then. Hopefully you can keep up with me then, it'd be great to work with you instead of just go through training and never see you again, again." Coconut gave Hazelnut a bit of a heavy pat on the back, grinning at this newest revelation. "You can just call me Coco, by the way, since you're family and all," she added, only partially joking.

"What about Nee-san?" Hazelnut asked, giggling at the short glare the slightly older Neko gave her "Ah, pushing my luck I see. You can just call me Hazel, then, and we'll be even. Sound good?"

"That sounds good. Now let's go get checked in," the Pixie-cut Pilot to be suggested.
After the initial excitement at going back to school wore off, Coconut had to deal with the dread and drudgery that was going back to school. The first month was, of course, all classwork. Despite being able to download all the information and have it on hand, Nekovalkyrja were not exempt, and had to study and test and attend lectures and learn everything by reflex, rather than by research. It was, of course, more than Coconut had bargained for- perhaps years of fighting with rifles and fists had dulled her other abilities, but the Pixie-cut woman wouldn't let it defeat her. Especially because of Hazel. Unlike the former grunt, Hazel had been enveloped in this stuff her whole life, even if she'd never done it herself, she knew most of it by heart. The terms, the etiquette, the formations, tactics and procedures, all came naturally to the bob-cut sister.

It was almost enough to make Coco jealous- almost. Aside from the fact that she was proud of her sister, whom she had now quietly branded as her rival at the school. Through sheer force of will and effort, Coconut had remained second in her class, though by the third week at had worn on her a bit. Hazel, of course, breezed through the classes, and showed no sign of stress, even tutoring her older sister when she wasn't quite getting something. And so, number one and number two in the class, Hazelnut and Coconut- sometimes called the 'Nut sisters' or even 'Nutty sisters' by those who actually were jealous- paved their own way into the second month of training.

Coconut was ready. They would finally be getting in the cockpit. Sure, they would start off in a KE-T8 Kuma shuttle rather than a fighter, which was the same type they'd both flown albeit briefly in basic training. Here, however, the training was going to be more intense, testing a pilot's actual skills and their memory of the tactics and formations they had learned the previous month. This month would give them their initial qualification rankings, and determine what craft they would get put in permanently- the V6 Hayabusa? the V8 Kawarime? Or perhaps one of the new models that were supposedly coming out soon. The bob-cut sister was champing at the bit, almost visibly excited, aside from the near permanent scowl she had grown fond of over the years as infantry. While the elder waited patiently for their last day of classroom learning to end, she copped a glance at her normally happy and confident younger sister. Was that worry in Hazel's eyes?
After the stress of being on a bridge, passing communications to and fro during battle for so many years, Hazelnut felt almost at ease back in a classroom. As expected, a lot of the coursework was review to her, almost second nature already. What she didn't know, of course, was nothing paying attention in class or a quick study session couldn't handle. The Bob-cut Communications specialist found the sort of gentle pressure that came with succeeding in school to be rather relaxing, at least for now. Sure, Coco was having a harder time, but as much as Hazel's 'older sister' struggled, she also succeeded. Not having a natural talent for this sort of subject didn't seem to deter the cold looking yet hotheaded Neko, and it was just something that made Hazel proud to be related, even if it was just a technicality of the timing of their manufacture. Hazel's own demure yet talkative nature seemed to get in the way of the things she wanted, but that wasn't a problem for Coco.

And yet, as easy as the classroom portion came, Hazelnut couldn't help but feel uneasy. Their scores aside, and the way the other students seemed to behold the pair notwithstanding, Hazel knew there was a major difference between herself and Coconut. She wouldn't stop trying, of course, and being top of the class was still part of her goal, but the next portions of the class seemed to weigh on her. Hazel had flown a spacecraft precisely once before, back in basic training, within a short time after she was born. She had flown it just long enough to meet the qualifications required by all Star Army members, but that had been it. Ever since then, her battlestation had been a comm station. she hadn't stepped foot on a real battlefield, had not been outside of a bridge during combat, had never faced down an enemy or had to make a split second decision, only relayed information and order to those who made the decisions and those who stood on the battlefield.

Even just the thought of stepping into a shuttle's cockpit for training somehow seemed daunting. How would she do? Sure, she could fly one under perfect conditions, with no stress, and get from point A to point B safely, Any Neko could do that. She could visualize the controls in her mind as if she were there again that day during basic. but knowing and visualizing were very different from being there and doing. As the days in the classroom grew shorter, and the time to put their knowledge to the test approached, Hazel could feel a steadily increasing pressure. She was almost ready to burst, but she couldn't let it defeat her. She couldn't let the Star Army down, couldn't let her sister down, couldn't let Herself down.

Or would she?

Coconut glanced her way on the last day of class, and she gave the pixie-cut Neko the bravest smile she could.

Did she notice?
Hachigatsu had gone by all too quickly, but in return, Kugatsu seemed to be dragging on, even with Fort Shotou handing out Holiday Kits to help with the Yule Tide spirit. For the students, having spent a month or so together through the same trials and tribulations, a sense of closeness had started coming a bit easier, and yet, the competitions over class position had gotten even more fierce than in the classroom portion. The long days spent in the cockpits, with students taking turns and swapping controls and observing one another as well as taking instructions, tips, and techniques not only from the instructors, but sometimes from one another. Once initial familiarization was done, they began to put into practice the formations and maneuvers that they had learned previously, heavily leaning on the etiquette, protocols, procedures and even vernacular they had been forced to memorize.

It had become clear, rather quickly, who would be good at this and who wouldn't. Most of those with prior experience seemed to breeze through the introductory flying portions, and most of the Neko showed promise, regardless of age or seniority, with a few exceptions. Only one student had washed out entirely by this point, a young Nepleslian born man who just couldn't get the hang of flying, and nearly crashed as soon as the autopilot was turned off. He was sent on a different track, as he was still willing to serve and become a citizen of the Yamatai Star Empire.

Coconut's earlier trials with the coursework had turned around at this point, and her grades finally edged Hazel out of the number one seat. The 'Elder sister' was ecstatic about this, and it only spurned her on to continue working hard and keep the number one slot. Of course, this made those jealous of her even more upset. Minas Natriceras, a Separa'shan Venis whose flying skills put her firmly behind Coconut's practical scores had made up a gap in placement that her less then ideal test scores had put her in, would often glare at the twins as they worked together, though she had yet to do anything directly against them. Coconut figured it was only a matter of time before the Separa's ego overcame her sense of sportsmanship.

Hazel's ease with which she flew through classes, unfortunately, did not translate into an ease of flying the T8 shuttle. She was, of course, acceptable. She could fly smooth and stable even without autopilot to aid her, and could relay directions with a practiced ease, but when it came to aggressive maneuvers, keeping tight formation, or reacting quickly to an unexpected situation, the bob-cut Neko's nerves always got the best of her. The only thing keeping her in second place for the moment was her academics, but that buffer was being eaten up day by day as her average at best flying skills only kept her afloat. Minas, of course, was eating up that gap day by day, flight by flight, and that wasn't helping her nerves any. Coconut tried to help, giving her tips and lessons in the simulator on their free time, but it was nothing near enough to do more than keep Hazelnut from failing. Coco was trying, but the one letting the pair down wasn't the elder- it was all Hazel.

For all the students, however, the year couldn't end soon enough. On the first day of Ichigatsu, they would be receiving their initial Pilot rankings. Everyone wanted to see where they stood, grades aside. Some were excited, some simply curious. Others, were terrified.
Kugatsu seemed to drag on. Sure, Daichi's warmer climate and the fact that this planet's actual seasons weren't quite the same as Yamatai didn't help, especially with how out of place the Yule-tide festivities clashed with the rigorous training schedule. And rigorous it was. Unlike Basic which was just to drill in the basic skills a soldier needed, Pilot school was trying to build flyers that could be thrown into a fierce maelstrom, pretty much by themselves, without a large experience crew to back them up. They would only have themselves, and their squadronmates when it came down to it. There was something about the speed and power of a fighter craft that made it different, especially from a Powered armor that was just one's self, but stronger and with bigger weapons. Instead of a direct translation, a Fighter was a different beast entirely. What it did, how it moved, where you could take it, and how it was viewed by an enemy were all a different animal entirely. And those who could hack it were quickly being weeded out from those who could not, even though none of them had yet to have seat time in an actual fighter. Missions changed, objectives changed, targets changed, parameters changed. At this point, those who could were flying the T8 shuttles to their absolute limits, both in atmosphere and in space.

Practical scores had edged out two standouts in their class- the seemingly Inexhaustible Coconut, who was pouring every bit of her being into showing that not only could she hack it, but that she would be the best. Hot on her heels, however, was the indefatigable Separa; Minas. In head to head competitions, they were currently sitting neck and neck with as many wins as losses to one another. In spite of this heated rivalry, neither one had cracked, and were even able to keep cool enough to work together in joint exercises, though both had been warned by instructors more than once to stop egging one another on over the comms. The hallways, however, were pure tension whenever the two met, and of looks could kill, these two would have done one another in weeks ago. Other students knew to get out of the way whenever this happened, though Hazelnut would stubbornly stick by her sister's side regardless.

Hazel's scores remained acceptable, but the swiftness with which Minas had overtaken her position had only further demoralized her. She went from first, to second, to third, and then down to the middle of the class in just a few short weeks and it seemed that no amount of studying would make up for the fact that she was simply below average as a pilot. The Bob-cut Neko however, kept trudging on, never letting her scores fall enough to get a failing grade, though it was clear by now she was far out of her element. In spite of it all, Hazel remained just as social and friendly as she had been at the start of the course, plus without the sort of untouchable nature she had been given in the first phase, her somewhat dwindling status made her more liked by her fellow classmates. At this point, Hazel was torn. Should she struggle and continue reaching for the lofty goal she had in mind when she signed up for this, or should she go back to her old job and forget about it, and let Coconut thrive in her element as she seemed to be doing now?

Whatever choices would be made, Kugatsu finally came to an end, and as promised, on the first of Ichigatsu, the instructors gave them all their rankings. The initial announcement that everyone had received a 'T' rank was met with groans and not a few thrown caps, which their instructor simply laughed off before calling the room back to attention to reveal their 'Projected' rankings, which was where the instructors felt that each of the remaining students would be if they didn't wash out of the third phase.

To nobody's surprise, both Coconut and Minas received projected rankings of 'A', as that was the highest they were allowed to give at this point. Then the 'B' rankers were announced. Hazel's name was not among them. Likewise, when the 'C' ranked students were announced, the hopeful Neko's expectations were let down once more. The next, and last to be announced, were the 'D' ranked students, and anyone who's name was not announced would be washed out to another career field. Hazelnut found her eyes closed as names began getting listed off, in order of grade, and her ears drooped as she continued to not hear her own name. Bracing for what she felt would be the ultimate letdown, she waited for the inevitable.

"And lastly, Hazelnut just beating the cutoff for a D Rank" the instructor announced, to several even louder groans than before, a few of the washed out student pilots banging their hands on their desks to vent their frustration.

Realizing she had made it, Hazel opened her eyes, and breathed an heavy sigh of relief before sliding down in her chair as her nerves got the better of her and she lost all composure. But, she had made it. If only just.
Ichigatsu struck hard and fast. Once the students were done with the T8 shuttles, they were instead finally given V8 Kawarime fighters, as they shared systems with the T8 shuttles the students had gotten used to. Week one was familiarization and maneuvering drills, getting used to the increased speed and handling. The 'D' ranked students were on thin ice, as they could be washed out at any time, and Hazel wasn't any exception. Those at the top of the class continued to compete, chasing course times and completion rates, comparing themselves not only to one another, but to past graduates, and even other skilled pilots whom had come to prove themselves and raise their own ranks. Of course, that was what the 2XF was after- Not just average or okay pilots, but the best of the best. Those that could hold their own and wouldn't be a liability in battle.

Coconut couldn't help but feel bad for Hazelnut. Just a month prior the two of them had been sharing the joy of being the top of the class, and now she could only watch as the younger Neko struggled to maintain her ranking. She could tell, too, that Hazel was losing a battle with herself. despite her reflexes as a Neko, despite her digital brain, despite being literally designed for war, Hazel was losing a mental battle with her own nerves and her own indecisiveness. As much as she wanted to, Coco knew she couldn't do much aside from encourage her. and beside that, she had her own battles to fight, specifically against a certain Separa'Shan whose abilities behind the controls of a fighter rivalled her own.

The second week of Ichigatsu found them participating in mock missions, as well as practicing emergency launches and landings. The stakes were risen once again, and nerves started getting the better of some of the pilots in training. And not just those at the bottom with a 'D' ranking either; One of the pilots with a 'B' rank slipped up on a landing drill, missing a critical step, and crashing their Kawarime hard into the deck. The fighter itself was badly damaged, as was the landing deck, and the pilot was washed back into the next class that was coming up behind their own. While their career as a pilot wasn't over, it was certainly delayed, and the mark wouldn't look good on their record.

The 'D's had formed a sort of bond between them, and Hazel was at its center. Since she was older, or at least more experienced than the others at her rank, she was seen as a sort of 'senpai' that was looked up to. She kept up a brave face, now not wanting to let down those around her, but also not wanting to disappoint Coconut by washing back or washing out. She couldn't. Not after all she and her sister had been through. Whether it was through luck, force of will, or simple determination, Hazel found herself scraping by, and finishing that second week.

The third week of Ichigatsu was done in the form of a long term exercise. The students would be formed into flights, balanced by the abilities of the pilots put in them. they would take turns with another flight on 12 hour shifts patrolling around Daichi, out past the rim of the system and back, over and over, without really having enough time to properly rest. Waypoints, check in times, schedules, all had to be kept, and any maintenance needs of their ships had to be reported immediately or dealt with. the exercise was actually a joint program with the ground crew school, testing not only the pilots but those who kept their ships in top shape. if either group failed, it would spell disaster for both.

Almost miraculously, nobody washed out, even as exhausted as they were from the constant workload, the constant vigilance, overwhelming boredom, and the fact that they were having to rely on a group of people they'd hardly really met except perhaps at the DFAC or the Gym. As a reward, the instructors gave both classes a weekend pass at the end of it, and gave them the option of taking the train to Ryou for some R&R. They would need it, as the next week would be the most grueling. The pilots would be given their seat assignments, that is, they would be given a list of craft they were most suited or qualified for, and would be given the choice of what they wanted to fly, and then, they would be tasked with learning to fly that craft in just a few days' time, before being thrown into a competition that determined everything for those graduating- the best assignments, their ranks, their grades, all would hinge on that final competition.
When the final week of training arrived, seat assignments were handed out. The majority of students in the class were assigned V6 Hayabusa, meaning that they would primarily be sent to planetary defense or in small units on smaller starships. Those who showed more promise were given the V8 Kawarime, which would give them an advantage in the upcoming competition, as all the remaining pilot trainees had spent at least three weeks flying that type already. However, the top two were given something different.

Minas Natriceras was assigned a special prototype- A new version of a still new model, she had been given a Mozu, and this particular ship was clearly a preproduction version of an elongated model meant for larger pilots such as a Separa'shan like Minas. It did lack a little bit of the refinement of a true production model; clearly it was a Mozu 1B that had been extended by over a meter, though this had been done after the fact, rather than having been produced this way initially. The fuselage had a patched section that wasn't quite smooth, and the new section was left unpainted, with some information from Yugumo Corp printed on its surface, and the words 'PROTOTYPE' stenciled prominently along the sides. The canopy itself was a bit of an oddity, instead of being one long piece like most, it had a joint in the middle and was likely made from two normal sized canopies. It was clearly a test rig, but something about Minas' scores and skills meant that the Corporation had lent it to the school to see what a fresh, but skilled pilot could do with the craft.

Coconut's assignment likewise was rather unusual. From what she had been told, she was assigned a V5, though the only ship she knew of with that designation was the long obsolete Tora torpedo bomber. However, she had been informed that no working prototypes of this craft existed, at least not that could be given to the pilot school. Instead, a decidedly diminutive fighter had been seemingly brought out of mothballs for her- an OI-V9 Scimitar- as it was the only thing on hand with similar controls. Not used much in over ten years since the 2Xf had purchased a number for testing, this particular bird showed signs of long storage, with bits of protective materials still surrounding critical components that had needed to be covered for storage. Assured that everything worked as intended, the Pixie-cut Neko had no choice but to take it.

Hazel, of course, was among those given a seat assignment in a Hayabusa. While it was still a mainline ship, she knew what it really meant- You weren't good enough for carrier ops. You weren't good enough to fly with the best of the best. All you can do is act as a small meat shield and hope to delay attackers long enough that whatever you were protecting could either mount a better defense, or get away. She initially hung her head, but after a few moments she took a deep breath, calmed her nerves, and just went with it. There were others who still looked up to her despite the fact she had remained just above the cutoff throughout the majority of the training, or perhaps it was because of that. She continued to socialize with the other pilots as if nothing was bothering her, and that things were going smoothly. However, she knew that she was likely sunk, resigned to be stuck on some backwater doing nothing while her betters got to taste the adventure she had longed for during her years on a starship bridge.

After initial familiarization, at least for those who got new seat assignments, a veritable buffet of training scenarios were given them, and they could participate in any of them as many times as they could squeeze in. each scenario presented different tasks, challenges, and difficulties, and would test different skills as well as showcase which ships were good in which areas. Some favored the Hayabusa, with environments where the extra turrets came in handy, or FTL was needed to get to a distant point. Others needed the higher speeds and greater forward firepower of the Kawarime. The two outsiders had to work harder, as their decidedly multirole craft took more thought to prepare for a training mission, weapons loads changing greatly to adapt to the different circumstances, however, both the brand new Mozu and the aged Scimitar showed that with just a little foresight, each one could easily take care of the missions required. However, the diminutive scimitar still struggled as its few hardpoints and comparatively limited weapons compatibility forced Coconut to work extra hard. And yet, she endured. Whether it was luck, skill, will, or just that plucky little fighter being excited to see some kind of action, Coconut managed to keep tied with Minas whenever scores were compared.
The Scimitar, it turned out, was almost comforting to the former power armor pilot. Having more hands on controls, and being smaller compared to the other fighters in use, it made her feel closer to her old life, while at the same time it was quite obvious it was a different beast altogether. The way it moved, the speed behind the microfighter, its small size allowing near instantaneous changes in attitude, it behaved less like a flying craft that the other aerospace fighters were designed as and more like the battlepods that they had fought against in the Mishhuvurthyar wars- Not that Coconut had actually been around for those, but she had dealt with some remnants, and participated in numerous simulations against them. She knew she could use this to her advantage, even if the small size, lack of armor, and limited load options made her feel quite undergunned against the Hayabusa, Kawarime, and Mozu.

This, of course, she took as a test, a challenge, to see how well the pilot could deal with disadvantages. Coconut was sure, of course, that the cobbled together test Mozu that Minas was using came with its own disadvantages, but there was no way the Separa'shan would have fit in a Scimitar, so pitting the two best against one another in a matchup of underdogs had been off the table from the start.

When the day came, the actual makeup of the final competition was announced. Instead of a group competition, a tournament, or a free for all, it was a simple one on one contest, with the pairs matched up based on skill and grades. All the weapons had been changed out or adjusted to be non-lethal, and points would be awarded by scoring hits on your opponent, with your points added as bonus to your grades, and the resulting scores would of course be the final class ranking. The next day would then be graduation.

Everyone was given an hour to choose a load for their craft's hardpoints or weapons bays, and then each pair would be given 30 minutes of combat time, then the next would go, starting from the lowest ranked, and finishing with the highest ranked. This meant that Hazelnut would go first, and Coconut and Minas would be the finale, and it promised to be a show for the class, as the tension and animosity between the two at this point could be cut with a knife.

Hazel's loadout was quite simple. all four of her hardpoints contained Origin Mini-missile pods, which gave her plenty to dissuade attackers, and could also be used to 'damage' her opponent. The actual damage output per munition didn't matter in this competition- each 'hit' counted as a point, and 400 sub munitions that could guide themselves were much better than the 8 larger missiles her opponent had chosen. This was of course, part of her strategy. Points were points, and you didn't lose any by getting hit, so she just had to hit her opponent more than they hit her, and she would win the round. So when the time came, the two Hayabusa fighters made their way to their starting points, and waited for the signal to start.

When the light flashed in both their cockpits, the small fighters lurched toward one another, turrets and primary cannon firing with reckless abandon, the craft were equally matched. Shield counters ticked down until they were 'exhausted' and then both fighters broke from one another sharply. Hazelnut's opponent fired off a missile, but it was quickly countered by a volley of four mini-missiles, with a fifth sneaking in behind to score the Bob-cut Neko's first point. It was clear she lacked the refinement and skill of a better pilot, but it looked like she was making up for it with creativity. The slugfest went on similarly, until the opposing fighter had run out of missiles, and Hazel still had plenty left. Their points sat at almost a tie, though the other pilot seemed to be a little better, and had scored a couple more. At this point, Hazel had taken to evasion rather than attack, whiling down time without losing ground, until the clock started ticking down. At the last minute, the former bridge bunny unexpectedly whipped her fighter around, and charged. All guns ablaze, she took hit after hit but gave everything she had gotten, and then the volleys of mini-missiles started. it ended up being handily more than her opponent could quite deal with, and points started racking up as the soda can sized munitions bounced off the opposing Hayabusa's fuselage one after the other. this attack however left her open, and she took more hits than any fighter would have survived against a real enemy, but when the buzzer sounded and their cockpits flashed to signal the end of the fight, Hazel took count of their final scores and blinked several times. It was risky, and stupid, but her last minute blitz had done it. She had won, by about ten points.

That first bout ended up being one of the more exciting, as nobody else had thought of as gutsy a plan as the unassuming Hazelnut. One after the other, rounds were decided. Some ended up being close like Hazel's, some incredibly one-sided, and one match ended up with a dead even draw. But to those who weren't actively flying, this was all just a pre-show. Not only their own class, but another pilot class, as well as some of the other more technical course classes, had been given permission to come and watch the competition. The hangar they had been based out of was chock full of people, and they had been promised a show. And before long, what they all considered the finale was upon them.

Coconut's scimitar had quite an unorthodox loadout. In the inner, medium duty hardpoints, were mounted matching Decoy Launchers, and its outer hardpoints sported Origin Autocannons that had been dug up from who knows where, likely the same place the fighter itself had come from. Minas' Mozu sported a pair of mini-missile pods, as well as four larger missiles, on top of the missiles the ship already carried, and its additional weapons options.

The pair made their way to the designated starting points, and waited for their signal. As soon as it went off, Coconut's fighter took off- straight 'up' relative to its original position. Minas was taken aback for a second as none of the other pilots had done anything remotely similar, and in that moment of hesitation, Coconut scored the first hit. Her fighter spun around on its axis, and then disappeared, leaving a telltale streak behind from the older generation TAP drive the smaller craft sported. Minas took chase, firing after the dimming sparkles that were the contrails of the Scimitar's powerplant. However, something odd would be noted though she should have expected it. Instead of one target showing up on her sensors, it had split into five. Minimissiles streaked, chasing after each signature, the Separa's deadly cool nature turning swiftly into frustration and anger at having been outsmarted so quickly. Giving chase to what looked like the original signature, a pelting of solid objects started knocking down her shield counter and gave away that Minas had been chasing the wrong signature, and rather the one just below and to port of her current heading was her actual target. She changed course, and pursued, bringing her superior firepower to bear on her smaller opponent.

Coconut reacted as quickly as she could, and recalled her decoy drones, changing course to converge on their position and try to lose her foe in the sensor confusion. Minimissiles continued from both sides, and Coconut quickly found her shield counter depleted and one of her four drones marked as eliminated. Juking and jerking her craft, she spun around in place and hit max thrust backward, plunking away with her autocanons against the oncoming opponent. after a couple shield hits, the mozu's shield counter depleted and Coco found her point counter increasing, before she had to break off and accelerate with her primary thrusters in a different direction to avoid a barrage of fire from the Separa. She managed to get away, but not cleanly, as Minas scored a few points of her own. And so it went, a serious game of cat and mouse where the cat was a snake and the mouse was a cat, the Mozu showing itself to be a clearly superior craft to the old Scimitar, but the Scimitar's pilot showing herself to be better than the Separa. The points racked up, but only one or two at a time, and their scores ended up remaining close, Coconut edging ahead one moment, only to be hit several times the next and falling back a point or two again. After the majority of the time had been used, the two pilot had gone through all of their expendable munitions, and Coconut's drones had all been taken out, the fight turned into a real slugging match. The fighters were staying closer to one another, trying to take potshots and attacks of opportunity, neither letting the other get the edge.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, something happened. It took onyl an instant, as the two fighters made close passes toward one another, but the Scimitar Coconut flew suddenly buckled. Probably due to a decade of neglect followed by a pilot suddenly flying the fighter at the limit of its capabilities, one of the latches on its folding wings came undone, throwing the fighter completley off course and out of control, and before Minas could do anything, it had collided with her Mozu, causing the hastily extended fuselage to break apart, the two fighters spinning uncontrollably away from one another, to the collective gasps and not a few screams from those watching. Instructors started shouting, and people called emergency services, all the student pilots were ordered to stay put, but one, one didn't listen.

Without hesitation, with more surety than at any time before in her life, Hazelnut ran. She ran to the nearest shuttle, and started it up, despite repeated shouted orders from the instructors to stand down. She didn't care, she needed to save her sister. And, yeah, probably the Separa, too. Her T8 took off, the exhaust blast buffeting those on the deck and just adding to the sudden chaos, but she wasn't worried about those safe on the deck. Her comms flashed almost immediately, once again with an order to stand down, but she politely declined and continued. she started hailing the frequencies of the two whom had just struck each other, trying to get a response. Minas didn't respond, but Coconut did.

"I- I'm okay, sis, go get the other one" Coconut replied, though from the sounds of it she had taken quite a shock in the impact. But still, Minas didn't respond. Putting the shuttle on autopilot, Hazelnut threw on one of the AMES suits in the shuttle and made her way to the lazily spinning wreckage of the Mozu prototype. Making her way out the back, Hazel stepped out into vacuum and found the form of the pilot-suited Separa'shan floating in the middle of the ball of twisted debris, appearing to be unconscious. She grabbed the Venis, and using the Ames' thrusters, brought her into the safety of the T8 shuttle.
"I got her, how you holding up?" Hazel asked, worried about Coconut. A reply did not come immediately, which gave the younger of the two Neko some unnecessary anxiety, but then the familiar voice crackled over the comms.
"Don't worry about me. I'm managing. Though, I think they'll have to cut me out, the cockpit won't open."
"Just, Just stay safe, okay?" Hazel demanded, and was met with a chuckle of relief from the other end of the comms.
"Aren't you supposed to be the comms expert? it's like you forgot it all of a sudden," Coconut joked.
Hazelnut frowned, a bit mad that Coco could be joking under these circumstances, but she held back and flew her shuttle back to the hangar, watching the emergency crews rushing past her to retrieve the two wrecks and get the remaining pilot secured.

As soon as Hazelnut landed her shuttle, it was swarmed by two groups. First, EMT's to take over care of the unconscious Minas, and MP's, in to detain Hazelnut for disobeying the direct order to stand down. Not regretting a single thing she had done, the Bob-cut Neko went willingly to the brig. Needless to say, the graduation would have to be postponed as this whole mess was sorted out.

In the aftermath, a few things happened. While most of what went on in the final moments of the mock battle between Coconut and Minas was witnessed by many, it was kept under wraps as ultimately it was a training accident, and while there were injuries, there were no casualties. Only two days behind schedule, the graduation finally took place. As expected, the two best in the class remained at the top, somehow tying for first place with the exact same grade. Notably absent from the ceremony, however, was Coconut's younger sister, Hazelnut. She remained detained, but in light of what had all gone on in the heat of that moment, the instructors opted not to Court Marshall her. Instead, she received Nonjudicial punishment in the form of not being allowed to graduate as a pilot, and therefore had to remain in her prior career field. She was, however, allowed to keep her D rank certification, and was not barred from any future postings, though she was marked as ineligible for job changes or potential rank advancement for one year afterward, as unlike her sister, Hazelnut's prior record was quite spotless.

Coconut however, could not keep quiet, and opted to vouch for Hazelnut; after finding out that the New 'V5' she had been assigned the pilot's seat of was in fact a two-seater, she lobbied for the other to follow her as her rear seat operator, arguing that Hazel's communications experience and creative thinking would be essential, that that they needed to stick together. In the end, she won out, getting her wish, much to Hazel's chagrin and joy.

Somehow, All three, Coconut, Hazel, and Minas, would find orders to the same unit in their dorm rooms following the decision.
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