Flight 105: Skull vs. Fairy
For combat training, Sheryl joined all the first-years and some
second-years at the shooting range. Their instructor was a tall
zentran named Bruce Gamelin. He outlined the morning events with
as few words as possible.
"I'll talk to each of you. Tell me what you want to
improve. Practice while you wait your turn. You're not
graded here. Take this time to learn."
Sheryl felt relief at his words. She adjusted her headset and
goggles before picking up the practice gun with her left hand.
Six months ago, she would not have dreamed of being here and holding a
weapon. The target loomed before her. She pointed the gun
at it, imagined Ozma's face and fired.
On her turn, she met Mr. Gamelin in a trailer office. He looked
over her data and asked, "What do you want?"
Based on how he phrased the question, she answered in a determined
voice, "I want to shoot a man down."
Like a sales clerk, he asked for specific details with such a stony
expression that Sheryl wondered if he realized what she asked
for. "In the ground or in the air?"
"In the air."
"With a suit or in a plane?"
"With a suit."
"Experienced or not?"
"By Friday, after camp is over."
He began typing into his terminal. "You'll do dogfight exercises
with your suit. My assistant, Ray Ivanov will instruct you.
Pick up a rail assault rifle with a forearm assist brace and paintball
ammunition. Report to Ames field."
Then he pressed some keys on a control panel and spoke into a
mic. "Poly Noryansky, report to my office."
Sheryl guessed that she was dismissed and walked out. She picked
up her equipment, suited up and met Ray Ivanov at Ames field. He
was a tall, blonde-haired man with a wiry frame and slanted gray
eyes. He checked her data on his digipad.
"Dog fighting left-handed? That's tough," said Mr. Ivanov with a
Russian accent. "Better to use your dominant arm. But there
are still things you can do though. I'll have you start with the
droids at level 3, and we'll go from there."
"Will my aim improve if I use my right?"
"Yes, your data from three weeks ago is much better than the
"The suit's right shoulder is locked. Can you unlock it?"
He looked at her dubiously. "I don't know... I had a dislocated
shoulder before, and it took a long time to heal. I'm not a
doctor, so have them look at it. If it's ok, I'll take it
off. For now, use the left. Here, I'll setup the brace for
She allowed Mr. Ivanov to adjust the brace and rifle. When he was
done, she launched from the catapult and flew to the waiting
droids. As soon as he gave the go signal, she fired at the
droids. The Galaxy Fairy was not going down without a fight.
The droids chased her through the sky. With deft moves, she
dodged their shots and counted patiently. 18, 19, 20. It
took a few seconds for the droids to switch to another cartridge, so
she stalled in the sky and turned in place. Her rifle swung in an
arc and she fired at an angle relative to the droids to compensate for
the opposing wind direction. Three shots hit and the droids fell
However, one was missing. A gush of wind came from her
left. She turned quickly to see it aiming just six feet away from
her. Engines in reverse, she dropped down in a steep backward
pitch. Bullets sailed over her face. To prevent it from
aiming, she kicked the droid with her foot. Lining up the sight
with her left eye, she fired the final shot. The droid fell
"Nome! Don't damage the equipment!" scolded Mr. Ivanov.
"Sorry..." breathed Sheryl heavily. "I... got carried away.
"That's it for today. You did well. I'll set the next level
to 5. If you keep going up a level everyday, you can be at level
7 on Friday."
"That's not good enough... I have to go higher."
"What? Don't be greedy. You're up a level since yesterday,
so you're improving pretty quickly. There's no need to
rush. Anyway, see you tomorrow." He began to turn off the
droid control system.
She made a mental note to ask him for level 6 instead. Her hands
gripped the rifle. "I can do it... I have to."
After two days of debating sessions, Cathy was hoping to spend a quiet
evening with her uncle. To her chagrin, he continued to bring up
"If I were you, I would seriously challenge the Resource Allocation
Act. This planet is the richest source of flow crystals. It
is a gold mine waiting to be plundered. That Act would give the
Earth government power over mining licenses without any consent from
the Frontier government. Do you realize what this means?"
Her forehead creased in concentration. "It means... unregulated
trade with Earth and no benefits to Frontier."
"Exactly. Given clause 63.2, a new world remains an Earth
territory for a year in the name of stabilizing the colony.
During this time, Earth can impose its law on the colonists."
"If that's the case, then there's no way out, is there?"
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "There are some
possibilities. First, consider that..."
Cathy listened attentively to his ideas and realized that she really
was not up to the task. It would be better if her uncle became
president. However, when she brought up the topic several times,
he evasively changed to another topic. When he finished his
explanations, she appealed one more time.
"Don't you see, Uncle? You have a better understanding of the
issues. Frontier needs someone like you."
Without warning, Felix picked up his wine glass and dropped it on the
floor where it shattered into many pieces, splattering red liquid on
the marble floor. Cathy was shocked at his action, since he was
not a violent man. However, when he spoke, there was no violence
in his words.
"Glass can be brittle or it can be strong enough to stop bullets.
It can shatter and cut or it can break into small pieces to prevent
injury, sacrificing itself to save. Tell me... what kind of glass
are you? No... it's too early to ask you that. Rather, what
kind of glass will you be?"
He paused for several seconds before continuing. "You say you
lack experience? Then get some. You say that you're too
young. I say let the people judge you for your deeds rather than
your age. As for age, I'm already 62, just 8 years younger than
Lehr and 3 years before retirement. Based on the proposed
constitution, the president is in office for 4 years. Your Aunt
Cire has been looking forward to moving to our condo in Hawaii.
Even if I became president here, I can never convince her to come with
me. My place is at her side, on Earth. Besides, I'm old,
kitty Cat. Old folks like me will move on and someone has to take
our place. So it's my hope to live long enough to see the next
generation take control of their future."
Cathy thought about his words while the butler swept the shattered
glass into a dustpan. When he was done, she spoke.
"How dare you..."
Now, it was Felix's turn to be surprised. Cathy did not take his
criticism well at all and was retaliating to the perceived
affront. Perhaps, he had overestimated her mental maturity.
With a disappointed tone, he responded, "I see that I had wasted..."
Her words cut him off. "You'll pay for that, Uncle. That
was Mom's favorite crystal from Italy. I'm sending an expense
report to your secretary."
Felix blinked. Then he regained his composure and he smiled
slightly with nostalgia at the sight of that poker face and steady
eyes. It reminded him of Howard. "I apologize for that,
kitty Cat. I must be getting senile, breaking Cordia's wine
glass. I'll ask your Aunt Cire to send you a replacement.
She has a matching set that's been sitting unused in our
cupboard. Our Hawaiian condo is small, so I doubt we'll take it
Cathy smiled sweetly and leaned back, steepling her fingers.
"Thank you, Uncle Flex. Now about the Resource Allocation Act..."
The VF-19 training proved fruitful. It was obvious which pilots
were too used to the wind tunnel and were unable to handle the
turbulent air currents of Frontier. Like separating chaff from
grain, Ozma eliminated pilots on his candidate list. He was
pleased with the remaining candidates so far and was looking forward to
talking to Cathy about them.
Wheels screeching, he parked in front of the Glass mansion and got
out. With long strides he walked up the marble steps and rang the
doorbell. Just then, the door opened and instead of Erenmeyer, an
old man stood at the doorway. With his hat and overcoat, it
seemed that he was about to leave. As Ozma stared at him, his
features looked familiar.
"May I help you?" asked the man.
Assuming that he was probably a servant, he replied, "I've come to see
Cathy's voice came from behind the man. She stepped into
view. "Ozma? Is that you? C'mon in."
"Kitty Cat, who is this gentleman?" demanded the old man.
"Oh, Uncle, please remember not to call me that in public," implored
Cathy. "Anyway, this is Ozma. Ozma, this is my Uncle Flex."
The photograph in the hall flashed in Ozma's mind. Felix looked
much younger then. However, he could see the resemblance to
Howard. He shifted the pie to his left hand so that he can
shake. "Pleased, to meet you, sir."
Felix firmly shook his hand. "And I as well." Then his nose
twitched. "Dare I guess that there is pineapple pie in that box?"
"Then it is best to have it while it's fresh. Kitty Cat, where
can we partake of this dessert?"
Cathy was confused about her uncle's sudden change of plans. "Ah,
let's go to the sitting room. I'll ask Murine to serve us."
They gathered in the sitting and soon, each received a slice of
pie. Murine poured Ozma's zencoffee from his thermos into their
"This is an excellent brew, Ozma," remarked Felix as he sipped the
"Thank you, sir." He did not touch his slice and instead, watched
"I did not catch your last name."
"It's Lee, sir. Ozma Lee."
"Ozma Lee..." repeated Felix. "Now, Ozma, how did you meet my
Cathy did not like how this was going. Ozma seemed very tense,
like an animal cornered by a predator. Her Uncle Flex was firing
questions like a court prosecutor, candid yet imposing. Before
she could think of a way to break the ice, Erenmeyer came in and
whispered in her ear that Lehr was on the phone. Regretfully, she
had to leave them alone.
"I'm sorry, but I have to take a call. I'll be back as soon as I
can." As she exited the room, she prayed that nothing serious
Ozma patiently answered Felix's questions. The first batch was
about his history with Cathy. He responded as discreetly as
possible and tried to avoid revealing how intimate their relationship
was then and now. The next batch of questions was about himself.
"A pilot... and still enlisted in NUNS?" asked Felix.
"This is a problem. Although she is several levels above in the
chain of command, ultimately, it is the consequence of her decision as
Commander-in-Chief that will send you to certain death."
"Only if she's the president, sir."
His deep-set brown eyes looked at him intently. "I see... you're
aware of her efforts to convince me to run for office. I must
tell you that we have reached an understanding."
Ozma's voice rose with hope. Cathy would no longer suffer the
stress of the presidency. "Then you'll do it?"
He banged his fist on the coffee table, causing the cups to clank on
their saucers. "But you gotta! I've watched the hearings on
public TV and they're tearing into her like a pack of wolves! Are
you gonna let 'em do that?"
"It is expected. There will always be opposition and
disagreements. Every politician must learn to deal with it."
"Well, it's breakin' her heart! She's not ready!" If she
remained in politics, it would turn her into one of them. Felix
had to be convinced.
"If not now, then when?"
"When...?" The question drew fear into his heart. "You're
gonna encourage her to remain in politics? To live her life among
Before he could finish, Felix interrupted sternly. "You make us
sound like heartless jackals. I assure you that quite a good
number of senators are men AND women of integrity."
"Sorry, I didn't mean you, of course, which is why I'm asking you to
"It's alright, Ozma," said Cathy as she walked into the room.
"Uncle Flex and I talked about it already. I'll tell you later,
She sat down and picked up her slice. "Now then, let's put
politics aside. What were you two talking about before?"
Felix leaned back and steepled his fingers. "Oh yes... Ozma was
not clear about certain things. He mentioned that he escorted you
after the Miss Macross parade, but if I recall, Howard complained that
you did not come home until 1 AM that evening. A proper escort
would bring his charge home after festivities were over, but such was
not the case. Perhaps, you could enlighten me."
The piece of pie slid off her fork. Ozma shifted uneasily in his
seat. Silently, she cursed at his big mouth. Quickly, she
prepared an excuse and hoped that she would not reveal anything
embarrassing for the rest of the evening.
Sheryl closed her eyes and tried. The link remained cold and
silent. Ever since last Friday, she tried contacting Ranka by
link or by phone. Nanase was not having much luck either in
trying to figure out what happened between her, Ozma and Brera.
She gingerly touched her shoulder. It was still sore, but she was
able to move it more freely. Reaching over her head, she picked
up the digipad and reviewed the shoulder exercises. As she did
some exercises, she hoped that it would feel well enough to use
Meanwhile, Eriko met with Kanagi in the common room. "What's
going on with Pink? She's been really down since Friday and last
I heard she's been training like a maniac."
"W-well... she probably misses her b-boyfriend..." said Kanagi.
"Did she tell you anything when she was out last Friday?"
"S-she didn't say much," replied Kanagi evasively. "She just told
me that she was on her way back."
Deep blue eyes stared at the green-haired meltran. "Why do I get
the feeling that you aren't going to tell me?"
Kanagi swallowed and strengthened her will against those probing
eyes. She promised Sheryl after all. "I-I really don't know
anything about her boyfriend."
"Hmmph. If that's all there is to it, then I won't pry
anymore. But if you ever change your mind, I'd like to hear it."
"I-I'll tell you if I find out m-more."
The captain turned and left the room. At her exit, Kanagi exhaled
in relief. However, as she walked to the bathroom, she could not
help but wonder how Ranka was involved.
Motorized wheels whirring, Sheryl hurried. She was on her way to
Ames field but Mr. Gamelin called and told her to report to shuttle
port 10. There, she found a group of meltrandi boarding a
shuttle. The instructor in charge waved her in.
"Hey, it's Pink! Over here, Pink!"
After enduring hours of yelling, she knew that voice instantly.
She made her way through the shuttle and stood near Tadyana and Aris.
"How's it going?" asked Aris.
Sheryl shrugged. "Alright, I guess."
They exchanged news of their lessons. A quick trip later, the
shuttle landed at large facility. Sheryl stared in awe at all the
gigantic meltrandi walking around.
The redhead slapped her on the back. "Welcome to the MWA. I
don't know why you're here, but you're about to get some special
Based on what she said, Sheryl realized that Tadyana did not know her
goal for doing combat training. Her eyes wandered across the
newly built buildings that were supposedly modeled after the destroyed
original on Island-3. "I've always wondered what it's like."
Aris tugged excitedly on Tadyana's arm. "Here she comes."
Sheryl's eyes widened in recognition at the sight of Clan Clang.
However, instead of her pilot's suit, she wore a traditional zentraedi
officer's uniform. With her long red waistcoat, she brimmed with
authority as she approached at a stately pace.
"Good morning, Mihoshi cadets," boomed Clan. "I welcome you to
the Meltrandi War Academy. I am Clan Clang, commandant.
Your combat instructor has sent you here on recommendation.
Everyone of Meltran descent should proceed to the macronization
chambers. After you macronize, you will be assigned a proctor who
will oversee your training. Everyone else, please follow
Sheryl and two other girls followed a micronized Rora to a waiting
room. Rora gestured at the chairs and stools.
"Please wait here until you are called." Then she exited through
a door at the other end of the room.
Sheryl made a study of her rifle while she waited. Overt glances
at the other girls indicated that they were just as bored.
About five minutes later, Rora opened the door. "Cadet Nome,
please follow me."
Sheryl obeyed and followed her through another room. Then she was
admitted to a large hall, or in the case of a macronized meltran, an
office. In particular, she stood on a platform overlooking Clan's
office. A light-projection monitor floated near Clan and
displayed some data.
Clan leaned forward. "Gamelin said that you wanted to shoot a man
down. What's this all about?"
"Exactly what he said," replied Sheryl.
"Aren't you getting ahead of yourself? You're just a
first-year! You have time to practice your skills."
"I don't have time."
Concern flooded the meltran's face. "Is it the virus?
You're not sick again, are you?"
"It's not the virus. I just need to defeat a man, that's all."
"Gamelin said that your opponent is very experienced. Who is he?"
"Do you have to know?"
"The more I know about your opponent, the better my chances are of
being able to help you."
With a deep breath, Sheryl named him with all the spite in her
being. "Ozma Lee."
For a moment, Clan did not react. When she did, she began to
laugh. "Ozma? That's a good one..."
"I'm serious!" yelled Sheryl. When Clan continued to laugh, she
tried to get her attention. "Hey!"
At Sheryl's expression, Clan composed herself. "Why go through
all this trouble? Just ask Alto to do it for you! He's your
boyfriend, isn't he?"
"Alto has nothing to do with this. I need to defeat him myself."
Her hands tightened on the rifle. "Because I have to..."
Suddenly, Clan's friendly tone changed. "Do I have to repeat
myself, cadet? State your reason or leave!"
Reluctantly, Sheryl gave in. With all the bravado at her
disposal, she declared, "I want to challenge Ozma for the right to date
Clan's eyes went round. "What?!"
Sheryl repeated it more slowly. Clan leaned back and crossed her
"Aren't you dating Alto?"
Clan cradled her head in her hand and began to laugh bitterly.
Sheryl resisted the urge to snap at her and kept quiet.
"I thought both of you were interested in each other." The
meltran sighed with a far away look in her eyes. "Another strike
for me in the romance category..."
Then with a tone of a curious schoolgirl, the commandant asked, "Is he
opposed to it?"
"Very. He thinks Ranka should date guys."
"Is she interested in you?"
Before Friday, Sheryl would confirm it without hesitation. "I...
I think so... I hope she does..."
Clan nodded in understanding. "I get it. You want to get
Ozma's approval. You're hoping that his approval will make things
"Can you help me?"
She snapped her fingers. "Of course. Gamelin was one of my
teachers, back in my cadet days. I'm happy to help his
student." Her hands danced over a light-projected keyboard.
On the monitor, data whizzed by.
"Yakk! Your combat scores are really awful. What's
this? Ozma proctored your test?" She fell silent as her
eyes read the data. When she watched the accompanying video, her
face scrunched up as if in disgust.
"Ok, now that's low. I don't care if he's an officer, but he
shouldn't do that to a first-year," remarked Clan as her eyes continued
to read. "Deculture! Where'd you learn to barrel roll like
"It was luck."
Those green eyes bored into her. "Look, you're incredibly
inexperienced. If there's something, anything you can use to your
advantage, I want to know so I can factor it into your training."
Sheryl told her the training with the Vajra queen. Clan listened
with obvious fascination.
"A link across Vajra minds... this has possibilities... Hmmm...
When do you plan to challenge him?"
"You're really masochistic, aren't you? With your scores and the
progress you've made so far, you don't have a chance to win. No
wonder Gamelin sent you to me."
She began typing on the keyboard. "I need to talk to the other
girls. In the meantime, Rora will show you to a training
room. Get out of your suit and log in to the terminal. I've
sent you access to videos and simulator records of Ozma. Watch
them until I come over."
Sheryl bowed deeply. "Thank you very much."
"You're welcome. I'll be right with you when I'm done."
Rora brought in the next girl. Then Sheryl followed Rora to a
large room with shelves full of various equipment and weapons.
She did as she was told and watched the videos. Ozma was a very
impressive pilot. Clan was right. The gap was wide.
However, she did not want to give up.
About thirty minutes later, the room's long wall split in two and slid
to the sides. It revealed another large room with Clan sitting on
a chair. She fiddled with a zentran version of the recording
"Sit comfortably. Have you ever done mind battles before?" asked
"No," replied Sheryl.
"Assume that we're in battle with our suits. I'll describe my
action. Then you'll describe your action. We alternate back
and forth. Once we try it, you'll get the idea.
"We start facing each other 300 meters away, out of range of our
paintball rifles. I veer left, 20 degrees."
At first, Sheryl was confused. Clan was flying toward her firing
arm. And then she remembered that she was supposed to be firing
with her left. In this case, Clan was flying away from her firing
arm. If she flanked her too far, then it would be harder to turn
and fire at her.
"Yaw right, 10 degrees."
"Pitch up, 30 degrees. Climb 20 meters."
"Pitch up, 50 degrees. Climb 10 meters."
As the battle went on, it was getting harder for Sheryl to picture how
far they were. Several moves later, Clan fired her rifle.
Sheryl fired on her turn as well. They did about ten or so turns
before the meltran declared a stop to the exercise.
"What did you notice about your moves?" asked Clan.
"It was getting really confusing," replied Sheryl. "I lost track
of how far apart we are."
Sheryl could not think of any. "No, nothing else."
"You were just reacting to my moves," explained Clan. "Your
purpose is to win, so your moves must get you to your goal. Let's
try the exercise again, but this time, I'll describe why I'm doing
it. Then you'll describe your action and your reason."
Clan repeated her moves. "Veer left, 20 degrees, flank your
"Yaw right, 10 degrees. Pitch up, 10 degrees. Prevent
"And what else?"
"What else?" She was confused.
"You're trying to win, right? Do something to win."
Unfortunately, Sheryl's mind drew a blank. She stared at the
Clan rubbed her temple in exasperation. "Don't tell me you
haven't planned a strategy."
"I've been doing intense combat training since Monday!" protested
Sheryl. "I haven't gotten a chance to think of one!"
The commandant waved it away as if it meant nothing. "Any kid in
an arcade can shoot droids. You're up against a real person, so
you have to outsmart him as well as outmaneuver him."
Her fingers tapped on the control panel and a screen was projected on
the wall closest to Sheryl. Ozma's simulator recording began to
play. A red pointer appeared next to Ozma's plane and traced the
path of his approach.
"To give you an idea of some strategies, let's analyze how Ozma
fights. Now watch his approach towards his opponent. Notice
the steep knifing maneuver..."
Sheryl listened in rapt attention at Clan's explanations. As they
went through each session, she began to get a better grasp of
They reviewed Ozma's records until lunch and a few hours after.
Then Clan stood up.
"That's it for now. We'll do more mind battles tomorrow.
Remember, don't just react. Anticipate his attack, and even
better; force him to where you want him to be. Do that, and he's
Her eyes rose up with determination and hope. "I will.
Thank you very much."
Clan nodded. "Rora will send you to combat training with the
human girls for the rest of the day. Fly however you like and
shoot them down. In a real battle, you don't fly textbook."
A wolfish grin graced her face. "I intend to. See you
The meltran returned her grin and waved as she walked out.
Sheryl suited up and looked forward to some shooting action.
After all those mind battles, her fingers itched to pull the trigger.
The next day, Sheryl met Clan again at the same training room.
Before they got started, the commandant showed a picture of Hope on a
"Is this your Vajra?"
"Can you bring it in here? Some of my cadets have noticed it, and
it's distracting them. I don't want it to be involved in any
'stray shot' accidents."
Her eyebrows arched in surprise that Hope was noticed at all. She
usually concealed herself very well. If the airbase knew that she
was there, they never complained about it.
"Do you have a window that she can fly to?" asked Sheryl.
Clan went to a window and opened it. Then she took out a
handkerchief and tied it to the window latch. "Tell it to come
"Ok. Just a minute..." Sheryl opened her mind to
Hope. Within minutes, Hope flew in. Clan's eyes never left
Hope until she landed next to her caretaker. Then the meltran
retrieved her handkerchief.
They began their first mind battle. After the third one, Clan
leaned back with a pleased expression.
"You've gotten better. I can tell that you're beginning to see
several moves ahead. However, it's still not enough. You
need to level the playing field. As the challenger, you can state
the terms of the duel so that it works to your advantage. As long
as it sounds fair, Ozma will accept it. Is there anything you can
do to give yourself another edge?"
Sheryl slumped back into her chair and stared at the floor. In
the uncomfortable silence, her mind tried to think. As she
thought, her eyes aimlessly traced the floor's wooden grain until they
encountered a Vajra's green limbs. At that moment, Hope was
preening her wings.
Just then, an idea popped into her mind. "What if... what if I
have Hope be my wingman? Will he accept that?"
"Hope? Who's that?"
"This Vajra. Her name is Hope."
"Oh... I didn't know that Vajra had names. And such an unusual
Sheryl cleared her throat and repeated her question while pointing to
Hope. "So what if she helps me? Will he agree to that?"
The meltran leaned back in thought for a few seconds. "He
might... especially if you argue that he's more experienced than
you. Sort of appeal to his ego. But even if he agrees, how
will Hope help you?"
"She'll be my wingman. With her claws, she can fire a rifle."
"Does she have combat experience?"
Sheryl bowed her head down. "Umm... no, but I can tell her what
"Hmm... Are you sure that you can handle flying and communicating at
the same time? Tsk... There's no time to speculate. It's
probably best to try this out." Clan picked up the phone and
punched some numbers. She spoke to Rora and gave
instructions. When she was done, she told Sheryl hers.
"Suit up and meet Rora on practice field C. Take Hope with
you." A screen projected on the wall and showed her current
location and field C.
A few minutes later, Sheryl found the field. Clan and Rora were
already there. To her surprise, Rora unlocked her right shoulder
joint. Then she handed Hope a sleek rifle and walked to the
opposite side of the field where catapulted herself into the sky.
"Ok, show me what you can do," said the commandant.
Sheryl did the same and faced her opponent. She shifted the rifle
to her right hand. Although she was getting used to shooting with
her left and even passed level 5 yesterday, it felt more comfortable
with her right. Then she opened her mind to Hope and projected
She and Hope circled wide for a pincer attack and tried to trap
Rora. However, Rora climbed and dodged. They chased her
through the sky and tried to shoot her down. When they
finally had her cornered, they fired at the same time and heard the
satisfactory sound of paintballs splattering.
"Not bad," came Clan's voice in her helmet. "Prepare for round
Sheryl looked across the field to see Rora pick up a rifle on top of
Clan's upturned palm. On the commandant's signal, they began a
new battle. This time, she and Hope were dodging half the
time. Rora was very skilled.
At the end of several consecutive scissors maneuvers, Sheryl had Rora
in her sights. She aimed and fired. However, Rora reversed
her engines and pitched backwards. The bullets passed her
harmlessly and splattered right onto Hope.
To her chagrin, the HMD declared Hope as eliminated. Clan's
chuckle broke through the helmet's speakers.
"Looks like you need to work on your strategies, AND concentrate on
where your wingman is. Don't forget to avoid friendly fire.
I've seen enough. Come back to the training room and we'll talk
it through. Then you and Rora can practice some more. Also,
I recommend staying tonight. I'll tell Gamelin."
Gratitude rose in her heart at Clan's efforts to help. She
blinked the tears brimming in her eyes. "Thank you. Thank
you very much."
Cathy rushed to the gate. She made it in time to see Felix
walking to the flight's boarding gate.
Felix turned around. His plan to leave discreetly failed.
For now, he tried to act surprised. "Kitty Cat! Shouldn't
you be at City Hall?"
Cathy took several deep breaths. "Same... to... you... Why
are you... leaving? The voting's tomorrow..."
His misty eyes stared longingly towards the horizon and his voice was
wistful. "By the time I get back, one month would've passed since
I last saw your Aunt Cire. Don't you think she'll be lonely?"
Then his tone changed back to his usual formal, businesslike
style. "Besides, I don't think I should vote, given the
circumstances. I'm your uncle, after all."
"But the constitution... it hasn't passed yet! There are still
some odds and ends..."
"Which you can take care of, I'm sure. You've got good people
"How can you be sure about that?" asked Cathy dubiously.
"Lehr's with you. So learn as much as you can from him.
You've got good people in your cabinet as well. And besides...
the pineapple pie was good. You're not alone in this." He
winked with the last statement.
His words assured her insecure heart. Her eyes rose with courage
as she walked up and hugged him. "Thank you for everything and
give my best to Auntie Cee. Have a nice trip, Uncle Flex."
"I will. You take care, kitty Cat." He let go and walked
through the gate without a second glance. As the door closed
behind him, he hoped that he could come again. "I'm looking
forward to your world on my next visit, kitty Cat."
Pilots milled about, some euphoric, some despondent. For
third-years, boot camp was a big chance to improve their ranking.
From the faces of some students, one could guess who were successful
and who were not.
A lot of students had already packed and were headed for the shuttle
ports to catch a ride back to the main city. Strangely, one lone
pilot waded against the tide. For Sheryl Nome, the last day of
camp was not over yet.
Immediately after returning from the MWA, she made her way to Moffett
field where the VF-19 training was held. As soon as she saw Ozma,
she rolled over to him.
"Major Lee, may I have a word with you privately?"
"What is this about?" asked Ozma brusquely.
He nudged his head to the left. "C'mere."
Sheryl followed him away from the other instructors and pilots.
When they were out of earshot, he turned to her.
"What do you want?" asked Ozma.
"I want permission to date Ranka."
"After what you did to her? You gotta be kidding. Besides,
you're a girl."
"Alright, I admit that I made a mistake. So I'm asking properly
now. Please let me date her!"
"Which part of 'you're a girl' didn't you understand?"
"That doesn't matter nowadays."
"Cut the crap! She worshipped you... trusted you... and you fuck
her first chance you get! I haven't protected and raised her all
these years so you can corrupt her! Face it."
He enunciated the next three words slowly. "You're.
A. Girl. You're not strong enough to protect her! You
need to be saved yourself! Give up and let Alto take care of her!"
Those sky blue eyes hardened. "So if I can prove that I can
protect her, you'll agree?"
"You're saying that you could? I've seen your combat scores!"
"Yes, I am. If I shoot you down, would that be enough?"
"You and what army?"
"Just me and Hope versus you, standard air duel rules. If I shoot
you down, then let me date her."
Ozma crossed his arms. "And if I win?"
Her throat felt dry as she stated the worst outcome. "I'll
withdraw from Mihoshi and never see Ranka again."
"This girl doesn't know what she's getting into. She's
practically asking me to win," thought Ozma. In his mind, he
could already see her weeping in defeat.
He crossed his arms and jeered. "Remember what you said. If
you don't do it, I'll make sure that you do."
"Please meet me at Ames field in thirty minutes." With that said,
she wheeled away to prepare.
After equipping himself, Ozma made his way to Ames field. To his
surprise, Luca was manning the recording station. Meanwhile,
Sheryl had mounted the catapult and waited to launch. Up in the
sky, a Vajra flew with a rifle in its claws.
"What're you doing here?" asked Ozma.
"Sheryl asked me to referee," replied Luca.
Whether a witness was there or not did not matter. He was going
to win anyway. He went to the opposite side of the field and
mounted the catapult.
Luca's instructions were broadcasted to their HMDs. A timer
counted down for the launch: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Catapults fired
and launched the combatants in the air.
As soon as she became airborne, Sheryl began to sing.
Turn the stars at the
center of the
If you sneeze, a
butterfly in a forest somewhere will dance.
The door you guard has a
It's an embarrassing
Though they often lick
one another, lions are strong.
I want to survive.
I want to survive.
I still can't stop
wanting to live.
Guided by the
constellations, our eyes met.
The wind carried her voice to Ozma's ears. "What in space is she
doing?" In the distance, Hope's belly glowed. "Shit!
She's powering it up! I gotta stop her before she goes too far..."
He accelerated towards them and watched the distance on his HMD.
He would take out the Vajra and then finish off Sheryl. When he
closed the distance to 200 meters, he braced his rifle and aimed.
After a few shots, he realized that the Vajra was very fast and the
strong headwind caused a large deflection. He had to be closer to
compensate for the bend in the bullet trajectory.
A barrage of bullets whizzed by from behind. It was probably
Nome. To his surprise, she was using her right arm. She
probably was not as injured as he thought. He noted her location
on the radar and kept his distance at 100 meters or more because of her
improved aim. That was enough room to react and dodge. With
a burst of acceleration, he went after the Vajra once more.
Despite the distance, Hope was still able to evade him. Her belly
glowed again. Ozma changed his plans and circled about to focus
on Sheryl instead. To his surprise, Nome was not attacking.
Instead, she was flying away.
Ozma gave chase. Although the rules of the duel allowed them fly
as high as they dared, they were restricted to the boundaries of Ames
field. She would have to circle back. When he was within
firing distance, he aimed.
Suddenly, his radar flashed red and he immediately broke his
pursuit. Bullets sailed over where he once was. The Vajra
had its rifle pointed at him.
"Damn bug!" roared Ozma in anger at the interruption. He
fired back and gave chase once more. This time, the Vajra did not
fly as fast. As he wondered why, another set of bullets flew by
his left flank. He dodged away to put some distance.
The tables turned as Nome and Hope chased him through the sky. As
they climbed, vapor trails formed from their wingtips. When he
saw the pattern of the trails, he realized it.
"What the fuck?! They're using Planet Dance!" yelled Ozma in
anger. Who could have taught it to them? At that moment,
Luca's face popped into his mind. If he did it, he was going to
assign him to night patrol for two weeks.
He hated to admit it, but the Vajra was an excellent wingman in terms
of speed and reliability. It was there when Sheryl needed a
diversion, and switched to offense when he chased Nome. To his
chagrin, their coordination and timing were as good as an experienced
"Is she controlling it with her crazy singing!?" thought Ozma as he did
a Wing Over. He wished that he could do something to make her
Even more disturbing was their tactical effectiveness. Despite
his aggressive attacks, they answered back with countermeasures that
kept him at a disadvantage. He was forced to break off his attack
and retreat. It was as if they had already anticipated his
response and automatically changed strategies on the fly. If her
aim was better, he might have been shot down by now. He shuddered
at the thought. Whoever coached her did a good job.
Meanwhile, Ranka and Brera arrived at the airbase. They asked an
instructor where Ozma and Sheryl were.
"Last I saw, they were talking out in Moffett field," said Mr.
As they walked there, faint notes reached Ranka's ears. She
stopped and listened more carefully.
And settle down next to
Until I show you my true
I will not sleep.
I want to survive.
Even as a nobody.
I love you.
The lives waiting for
awakening were drawn to one another.
"Sheryl!" cried Ranka.
"Where?" asked Brera.
Ranka concentrated and tried to feel her presence. Sheryl was not
in the direction of Moffett field. She turned around and began to
walk. "She's... she's not over there! She's somewhere else!"
In place of my wildness,
I shall offer a prayer.
I love you.
Alarm whipped through her heart. That usual confident voice
sounded desperate. A sinking feeling churned in her
stomach. Sheryl was doing something reckless. She began to
Her brother forgotten, Ranka only had one thing on her mind. She
had to go to Sheryl.
As they wove through the sky attacking and defending, he recognized
other ones: Seventh Moon, Light the Light, Love Heart and Diamond
Calling. He had taught those techniques to the squadrons assigned
to Macross Quarter. Feelings of betrayal fueled his anger.
"I'll be damned if she gets me with my own techniques!" It was
time to get serious. He climbed and banked steeply. At the
apex, he reversed the engines and plummeted down.
"Spiral Answer!" yelled Ozma as he spun in a corkscrew while firing
away. He still had techniques that he did not teach to anyone.
As he dove, Nome hastily retreated. However, she did not expose
her flank and managed to dodge despite the barrage of bullets.
Using the momentum of the spin and additional thrust from the engine,
he accelerated towards her with swept wings. For a few seconds,
the resulting speed was almost the same as her Vajra. Despite the
time limit, those few seconds were long to get her within 30
meters. At that distance, there was no way she could dodge all
his shots. He braced his rifle and aimed.
Instead of hitting his target, the Vajra swooped down and with its
rifle extended, deflected his bullets. The block gave Nome the
opportunity to dive away. However, the action came with a
price. The Vajra was effectively disarmed. The activation
light on the rifle blinked off.
Ozma took the opportunity to shoot down the blasted creature but
missed. After several attempts, he decided that he was wasting
bullets and focused on his original quarry once more.
Without the Vajra, there were no more interruptions. Ozma thought
that it would be easier, but Nome still managed to dodge him.
Then he noticed how often she changed her wing configurations and the
sharp turns that she made.
"She's flying like them... so that's why!" Then he grinned
wolfishly. "Fly all you want... but in the end, you're still
human. The G-forces will wear you out. You can't keep it
He chased his prey patiently and maintained a higher altitude to keep
his back to the mid-afternoon sun. Sooner or later, Nome was
going to make a mistake.
His chance came when Nome pointed her rifle up towards him. All
the sudden, the rifle slipped and her right wing retracted. She
spun around with the rifle clutched to her chest with her left arm.
He dove and fired. However, instead of hitting Nome, the Vajra
swooped down and blocked his shots with its rifle. Ozma
cursed. Since he did not officially shoot it down, it was still
included in the duel.
When he aimed at it, it flew away. Ozma focused on his prey
again. The sunlight reflected off Nome's visor. She raised
her rifle with her left arm unsteadily. With the sun behind his
back and her pathetic left-handed shooting, it was a futile attempt.
"It ends now!" He aimed and pulled the trigger. The bullets
sped towards Nome and hit.
Just then, purple paint splattered on his suit. He stared at
himself and then at Nome. She was covered in red paint.
Was it luck that she was able to hit him? As he wondered how, a
buzzing sound reached his ears. He looked behind him and saw that
the Vajra hovered nearby.
His eyes widened in disbelief. "Don't tell me... it helped her
With a battle cry, he charged at it with the butt of his rifle.
It dodged away nimbly. He climbed into the sky and chased it.
Meanwhile, Sheryl stared at the red flashing letters on the HMD.
Shot down. Eliminated.
"Sheryl!" Luca's voice crackled on the helmet's speakers.
"What's wrong!? You're falling! Sheryl!"
The wind whipped around her. She did not care anymore. It
Another voice pierced through her consciousness. "Pink!
Retract! Go limp!"
At the sound of that demanding voice, her fingers automatically pressed
the wing sweep buttons. A few seconds later, she felt the impact
on her back. Her eyes focused and looked up to see that obnoxious
"What's wrong with you? Are you giving up just like that?
That's not the Pink I trained with! Even if you lost, accept it
and move forward! As long as you breathe, you gotta keep
Slowly, Sheryl realized that she was right. She may have lost
this battle, but the war was not over. Today was a bitter
setback, but tomorrow, she'll find another way to get Ranka back.
She blinked away her tears.
"Yeah... give me a second to go level..."
Tadyana held her hands and she extended her wings. Her engines
burst to life and she regained level flight.
"How'd you know?" asked Sheryl quietly.
"When you didn't come back yesterday, we got suspicious, so we followed
you after you got off the shuttle. When we saw you with Major
Lee, I had Aris hack into your radio system. Sorry about that...
we heard everything," said Tadyana.
Sheryl sighed. "Didn't I tell you to mind your own
business?" However, there was no malice in her voice.
"I can't do that when my wingman is in trouble," replied Red with a sly
grin. "C'mon. Let's land."
They flew down to Luca. Ozma was already there.
However, her eyes were not on Ozma. They were focused on the
person running behind him.
"Sheryl!" Ranka ran up to her and stopped abruptly. Her
eyes filled with concern and those petite hands touched the red
paint. "Are you wounded?"
"No," replied Sheryl. However, a part of her wished that she
really was. Maybe, she would have been unconscious and would not
have to feel the pain of disappointment tearing in her heart.
"It's from practice bullets," explained Luca. He sprayed the red
areas with a white mist from a can. With a pat of his hand, the
red dust flew into the wind. "See? This stuff transforms it
into tiny particles and it dusts..."
Before he finished, Ranka hugged her fiercely. "You dummy!
I was worried about you!"
"You were?" exclaimed Sheryl in surprise.
"Yes! If your friend didn't catch you, what would've
happened!? You pushed yourself again, didn't you?"
For several seconds, Sheryl was dumbfounded. When she found her
voice again, she asked, "Then... you're not mad at me?"
"I... I was a little bit..." Then Ranka bit her lip before
blurting out, "I'm sorry I didn't answer! But I promise, I'll
never doubt you again!"
Her words calmed her heart a little. Sheryl drew a deep breath to
calm her nerves before she said it. "I'm sorry too... I...
I failed you..."
Ranka drew back. "What do you mean?"
Her voice was close to cracking. "I... made a bet with Ozma...
Those red-orange eyes grew wide and her face paled. "What did you
bet?" asked Ranka slowly.
Sheryl could not look at her. She replied softly, "For permission
to date you."
That verdant head whipped towards Ozma who was staring at the recording
"She didn't win," said Ozma gruffly. However, there was no joy in
"It was a draw," announced Luca. "She fired before Major Lee's
bullets hit, so her hits counted. The rules state that the winner
must survive after all the bullets hit. Since both combatants
received fatal hits, the duel is a draw."
"If Nome didn't win, she said that she'd quit school and never see you
again," declared Ozma.
"No..." Ranka walked over to him, trembling. "No... You
can't make her... you can't!"
When Ozma did not reply, Ranka clenched her hands and stared at him
coldly. Her voice was low and dangerous. "I hate you."
Ozma held her attacking glare. "You're saying that even after
everything you know?"
Red-orange eyes did not waver. "Yes."
For several tense seconds, they stared at each other. Finally,
Ozma looked away. "I didn't win either."
Ranka voice rose with hope. "Then... she doesn't have to quit?"
"Actually..." started Luca.
"One year!" declared Ozma, cutting Luca off. "She can date you
for one year! After that, she fights me again after next boot
He turned to Sheryl and pointed his finger for emphasis. "But no
Vajra! It'll be just you and me, Skull-1 vs. Phoenix-5.
We'll decide once and for all then. So you better level up!"
Simultaneously, their faces flooded with relief. With a half-run,
Ranka threw herself at Sheryl and the Galaxy Fairy hugged her, spinning
full-circle with joy. Then Ranka wove her hand around Sheryl's
Alarmed, Sheryl projected her thoughts. "Not here... we're in
plain sight of a lot of people."
"I don't mind," replied Ranka who was rising on her toes.
"I do." Before Ranka could protest, Phoenix-5 carried the
Super-Dimensional Cinderella in bridal style. With wheels running
at full speed, the engine flared and they took off.
After they had flown about fifty feet up, Ranka asked, "Is this good
With a whoosh, her visor retracted into her helmet. "Yes."
A sweet smile bloomed on that adorable face and a warm hand caressed
her cold cheek. Then silken, rosy lips landed on the Galaxy
It should be a kiss like those before. However, when those rosy
lips touched her own, a shiver ran down her spine and Sheryl felt
herself melt with each tender caress. It was as if she had
forgotten her touch over the last three weeks and was experiencing it
again for the first time. Somehow, she managed to activate cruise
to sustain level flight. Only then did she surrender herself
Despite their meetings in the link, it did little to quench their
longing for each other's touch. Ranka's hand pressed against the
back of her helmet and those petite lips overwhelmed her with each
expressive caress. They had kissed so many times before, but
today, that simple action set her entire being on fire. Sheryl
answered in kind, returning those expressions of love. Then that
velvet softness brushed against her teeth tentatively. Sheryl
recognized the request and granted permission for entry wholeheartedly.
In response, her Cinderella deepened their kiss with even more passion,
probing, feeling, and tasting. The Galaxy Fairy's hands relaxed
on the control sticks. If she were standing on land, her knees
would have given out by now.
When she finally drew back, she found tears running down her beloved's
cheeks. Then a slim finger reached out and brushed away her own
tears. Despite the tears, there was no sadness in those
red-orange eyes that gazed at her adoringly. Those rosy lips
bloomed once more and her Cinderella's voice filled the sky with song.
Sheryl heard this particular song so many times before. But now,
before the small group of witnesses below, it was a true declaration of
love. It filled her heart with indescribable joy.
Meanwhile, Ozma watched them fly away. Beside him, Luca cleared
"Her terms were if she shot you down, not if she won the duel."
His hard eyes probed him. "How'd you know that?"
"She opened her audio channel to me so I can record the deal."
Ozma leaned over and whispered so that only Luca can hear.
"Remind her and I'll kick your ass. I can't give all of Ranka on
her first try! She's gotta work for it! And I'm not doing
this 'cuz it's her. I'd do it to Alto too. 'Sides...
somebody's gotta give her some discipline!"
Luca gulped nervously. "Yes, sir..."
Off to the side, the Phoenix squadron watched quietly.
"Now, that was totally unexpected," remarked Eriko as her eyes tracked
the lovebirds in the sky.
"I-it's like a space opera," said Kanagi with a dreamy look on her face.
Feeling envious, Aris asked, "Shouldn't we go up there, too?"
Tadyana put her arm around her and pulled her close. "Nah.
They've earned their wings today. The sky belongs to them right
A playful zephyr tickled their ears with a faint melody.
My girlfriend is~~~ a
Ranka: This fic was mostly about you. *pout*
Sheryl: *hug* Don't worry! The next one is about your
Ranka: Really!? *hair rising*
Sheryl: That's right! Please join us for the next
Frontier Generations: Serenade!
Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback on:
- scroll to the bottom for the review button
Frontier Generations Index