Fighter Weapons School: Tellar Prime, Federation Space
Phil stepped into the main auditorium and removed his sunglasses. Kickstart waved to him. His Sizzo was holding their usual seats next to Overdrive and Kickstart. The kid was more excited than usual because today was the day that everyone had been waiting for almost two months. The final mission of the cycle had been flown, the points tallied, and graduation was in four days. Today, the instructors would announce which aviator team would be going home with the big one: The "Top Gun" trophy.
Phil pushed his way down the aisle and dropped down into the chair.
"So, you excited, Sab?" Overdrive said tapping him on the elbow.
"We've all met graduation requirements," Phil replied nervously. "That means we did what we came here for. We all should be excited."
"Bullshit!" Kickstart said nearly jumping out of his seat. "I came here to win and that's just what we did!"
"Don't count on it, Bud," a terse voice shouted from the front row. Quiet didn't even look back at them over her shoulder.
"We were neck and neck until the end and your last engagement looked a little sloppy from my canopy," Riot added nervously tapping her boot on the ground and twirling a pen through her fingers. The pair was as always, right front and center. Both of them had been wound tighter than the strings on a Ferengi's latinum purse for the past three weeks. Neither had enjoyed a single second of leisure. Right after classes ended for the day, Quiet Riot would head straight to the simulator until well after dark. They both wanted to destroy Phil and Kickstart since the day they bagged Godfather. It also aggravated Quiet Riot to no end that despite all their extra practice, the competition still managed to keep up.
"Who you calling sloppy?" Kickstart shouted back. "Riot, I've gotten better sensor readings than you with my pants around my ankles taking a shit."
"Now, listen here you little twerp!" Riot shouted jumping to her feet and raising a fist. Phil groaned as he realized he would have to back up Kickstart even though he knew Riot was right. Their last mission was sloppy. Phil was focused on graduation and he missed a maneuver that almost allowed the enemy to get weapons lock. He had recovered just in time, but with the standings so tight, he was sure it had cost them the number one spot. He had already prepped the speech he was going to tell Kickstart to take full responsibility.
"Would all of you just shut up!?" Berserker, the giant Caitian pilot, growled. "Just wait five more minutes and then the winner can talk all the trash they want." His ferocity stymied the argument long enough for Blaster, Hardtack, Selat, and the other instructors to enter the room. Phil noticed Godfather wasn't among them. Blaster stepped behind a podium with a PADD.
"Alright," he said with his usual gruff voice. "Sorry to keep you waiting, but the point totals this cycle were so close, we had to triple check them…"
Phil's heart skipped a beat.
"It can't be possible…" he thought to himself.
"In third place," Blaster began, "with 416 points, is Berserker and High-Speed."
There was a polite amount of applause from the audience. However, no one really cared about third place.
"In second place," Blaster continued, "with 748 points…"
The instructor paused long enough for Phil to glance down at Quiet Riot. They were literally gripping each other's hands so tightly Phil could see their skin turning pale. It was obvious how badly they wanted this trophy. It was almost like they "needed it."
"…is Saber and Kickstart."
Phil's Sizzo instantly dropped down and covered his face with his hands. Quiet Riot both shrieked with glee, jumped to their feet, and threw their arms around each other. However, before the other students could applaud, Blaster shouted at everyone:
Quiet Riot froze and turned to look at him. Kickstart lowered his hands and looked back up with a renewed sense of hope. Phil didn't know what to feel. He thought the only thing he wanted was to get back home. Now, he realized that a part of him still wanted to win.
"ALSO in second place with 748 points," Blaster said, "is Quiet and Riot. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a tie."
A hushed murmur went through the crowd.
"What does that mean?" Kickstart shouted out. "Do we have to share the trophy with them?"
"NO WAY!" Quiet Riot shouted together. "ONLY ONE TEAM CAN BE THE BEST!" With all their practice, they seemed to be telepathically locking together at random now.
"Well, Ladies," a voice shouted out from the rear of the auditorium, "you're certainly right about that."
"CAPTAIN ON DECK!" Blaster shouted as Godfather walked down the steps of the center aisle. The entire room reflexively jumped to their feet.
"As you were…" Godfather said removing his aviators and crisply placing them in one of the breast pockets of his flight suit. He then gingerly jumped up onto the stage and took a position next to Blaster. He may have been the oldest person in the room, but the man in charge still did things with the swagger of an officer half his age.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Godfather began. "A situation like this has never occurred in the entire history of this program. It is a credit to the extreme skill and abilities of both your teams," he said looking back and forth between Phil, Kickstart, Quiet, and Riot. "However, we still have to find a way to pick the top pilot/Sizzo pair in this class and that decision has fallen upon me."
Quiet and Riot's entire demeanors both dropped like lead weights. It was no secret that Godfather had a strange admiration for Phil. It became even more amplified when Saber had become the only student to ever score a kill on Top Gun's senior instructor. The Betazoids were terrified that Godfather would simply award the trophy to Phil and Kickstart for that fact alone. A few rows away, Phil had the same thought, and though it probably would have been acceptable for Kickstart to win that way, it was definitely not how he wanted it to end.
"Tomorrow at 0600," Godfather said crossing his arms, "we're gonna settle this once and for all. Quiet and Riot and Saber and Kickstart will take off in separate directions each escorted by an instructor. I will set my A8 in open space in the middle off the Phinda range. The two flight teams will rendezvous at my position, and dogfight it out for all the marbles. The first T-Bat to get weapons lock gets the trophy. I'm the referee."
"THAT'S FINE BY US," Quiet Riot said still speaking as one.
"And by us!" Kickstart said speaking for him and Phil.
A cheer went through the rest of the auditorium. The students were all excited to get one more chance to see some fireworks before walking away with their diplomas.
Overdrive, Tick-tock, and the other students started slapping Phil and Kickstart on the shoulders. A few other students were even giving some encouragement to Quiet and Riot. Despite their arrogant attitude, their dedication to excellence had actually started to win a few back over into their camp.
Phil, however, didn't care anymore. Win or lose, he just wanted this crazy competition to be over. If the fastest way was taking down Quiet and Riot tomorrow morning, well that's just how it had to be.