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See, the real problem with the new frontier wasn’t really that they might pollute other planets. That’s what all the politicians liked to say it was, of course. That was the reason they gave for not wanting to go out into space. The real problem, though, was the pirates. As soon as space travel had become something that wasn’t completely inaccessible to every day folk they’d appeared and the politicians weren’t sure how to stop them. It had been hard enough to stop them when they were just on the seas of earth, but once they were in space no one really knew what to do. Pirates had always been good at taking advantage of too many politicians trying to control things that were outside of their boarders. The response to the pirates had been for the world leaders to get together all their best and send them out into space to deal with the pirates. Of these ships, two were Sohuko and Hakugaku. Rival ships and as both consistently had better capture rates when competing than when one was benched they were always sent out together. 

Hakugaku was a huge ship with hundreds of crew on deck. They were the favourites of not only those in command but the common folk as well, who praised everything from their strength to their good looks. Their main crew was composed of six members. The Captain, Fukutomi, who kept everyone in line and working hard with as few words as possible. His second in command was Toudou, who often elaborated on his captain’s words when people misunderstood. Shinkai was one of their strongest crew members and a long-time friend of the captain’s, though his position as one of their leaders was never questioned as favouritism due to the name given to him by pirates, daemon of the skies. The one who raised the most eyebrows on their lead team was Arakita. As a pirate turned crew member, he was questioned at every turn by the public though never by his crewmates. Izumida had gotten into their main six through years of relentless training and willpower. Their youngest and flightiest member of the six was Manami. A small, flighty boy who had been a frail child of a politician until he went to space. Though the public and his superiors often questioned his placement as one of the main six, they were brushed off by both the captain and his second-in-command, who would just shrug or say that those who would question their choice had never seen the boy in action.

Their rival Sohuko was a significantly smaller ship with only twelve members, although they still had a main six all of their members worth mentioning. Their captain was Kinjo, a man who would look after his crew like they were his family. His second-in-command was a tall, lanky man with long green and red hair who was called Makishima. Their strongest and largest member was Tadokoro, who often seemed more cheerful than either of the other two. The smallest member was a young lad with red hair who rivaled even the large Tadokoro for noisiest of the team named Naruko. Imaizumi was their fifth main member and although he was more aloof and quiet than the others, he did seem to care about them in his own way. On this team the one who raised the eyebrows of those who thought they knew better than the captain who should be in the main six was a small boy with glasses named Onoda whom his captain referred to as a natural talent. Also on their crew were the Kanzaki siblings whose love of and care for ships was well known; their family’s business was building and maintaining space ships. A young and angry tennis player named Aya who often wielded her weapons as though they were a tennis rackets. Sugimoto was an experienced spacer, though compared to the natural talent or hard work of his teammates his experience seemed to count for little. The odd duo known only as T2 often escaped the public’s notice, as for all intents and purposes they seemed like normal people. Together, however, they were a formidable match for anyone.

When the ships landed to hand off the pirates to the world council they reported to, they were often bombarded by reporters from various countries. During one such time Kinjo and Fukutomi stepped forward to talk to them, allowing the others to slip away with little notice. 

The Sohuko crew had been fully intending to simply go into the base and enjoy the luxuries of being on land, right up until two voices stopped half of them.

“Maki~chan! Wait up! I have to make sure you don’t just eat ice cream the whole time you’re on land!” Toudou ran over to them causing most of the other main five to roll on his crew to roll their eyes. “You’ll never last as my best rival if you eat terribly every time you’re down here!”

“Sakamichi!” Manami grinned and waved to the small kid with glasses in the Sohuko uniform. “We should compare notes--that last thing you did that went like <i>swish</i>! I’ve never seen it before!” 

The rest of Hakugaku dispersed into the base with expressions that ranged from sneers to eye rolls at their leader’s behavior. 

“Okay kids, let’s get cleaned up then!” Tadokoro laughed and T2 simply nodded and followed him. “You too, red bean!”

“I am not a red bean, old man!” Naruko snapped following him for the express purpose of throwing more insults at him. 

“Don’t stay gone to long, we still need to report to the council.” Imaizumi said quietly to Onoda while looking at Manami as if he’d rather shoot the boy than leave Onoda alone with him. 

“Go get cleaned up Imaizumi, we won’t take too long to deal with this annoyance.” Makishima grumbled, giving Imaizumi a small push in the direction that the others had headed off in. 

“Yeah, Imaizumi!” The younger of Kanzaki siblings laughed, catching his hand in her free one. Her other hand was wrapped in Aya’s. “Come on, we’ve got actual food in our bunk’s kitchen.”

“Which I’ll end up having to cook, no doubt, assuming Tadokoro leaves any for the rest of us.” The older Kanzaki sibling laughed, heading off himself while the other three followed at the promise of real food. By the time they left, Makishima had already gone off somewhere with Toudou.

“It’s good to see you again Manami, on land I mean.” Onoda grinned at him. They too headed off somewhere quiet to compare notes and catch up on how the other was doing. 

“It’s been a while.” Manami nodded smiling up at the sky. “Each trip up there lasts longer, one day we won’t come back.”

“That’s the plan!” Onoda grinned, catching Manami’s hand to drag him into one of the training buildings. “One day we’ll clear the sky of pirates and everyone will be able to leave earth freely.”

“Yeah.” Manami smiled softly at the back of Onoda’s head then grinned as Onoda stopped and picked up practice weapons. “Are you going to show me?” 

“I might as well, that way I’ll have someone I can practice against!” Onoda grinned back at him as he passed Manami one of the weapons. 

The weapons were odd things due to the need to be able to use them both with and without gravity and in any conceivable condition. The practice versions looked for all intents and purposes like spears, or glaives, to be more precise. A long stem with a blade on the top. It was the materials that were the interesting part. The metal that both they and the non-practice weapons, were made out of was one that was not found on earth, but rather on one of their neighbouring planets. Once one used the weapon for a decent amount of time, it started to conform to their particular fighting style, changing in shape and abilities based on those that used them. The practice weapons had to be essentially wiped of memory after each use, or each one would develop their own unique ‘personality.’

Onoda waved his weapon about in a figure eight pattern, getting the feel for its weight while Manami spun his around a few times. The two of them took places next to each other rather than across from each other, as they were teaching each other and not sparring. 

“Okay so you just…” Onoda breathed in, pulling the weapon back towards him as he did so before stepping forward with one foot. His weapon snapped out and just before he hit his ‘mark,’ he twisted the weapon so the blade would hit his ‘mark’ with its flat side rather than the pointed side. 

“Huh, it looks more like a swip than a swish up close.” Manami said, watching him closely. 

“Well I’m also going from standing still.” Onoda smiled at him. “It’s more like a swish if I go from another move straight into it--it’s better to practice one move at a time, though. Okay, you try!”

Manami nodded and stepped into it. When he tried to do the twist at the end, the weapon dropped out of his hand. Manami was just about snarling when he picked it up again. 

“You’ve got all your muscles twisted wrong.” Onoda laughed and put his weapon down. He shook his head as he stepped close to Manami. He readjusted Manami’s hold on the weapon and the positioning of his torso before stepping back. “There, now try.” 

This exchange continued for a while, with either Onoda or Manami introducing a technique they’d figured out while in the sky, and then correcting the other as they tried it. Eventually they moved from that to just sparring with each othe, both because they liked the practice, and to get used to the new moves they’d learned. They were both nearly exhausted by the time someone all-but crashed through the door of the practice room— two someones, in fact. 

“There you are, Onoda!” Naruko shouted as he tumbled into the room. 

“We’re going to be late for reporting to the council!” Imaizumi glared at Manami. “Just because you never show up doesn’t mean you need to drag Onoda down with you.”

“Ah, right.” Onoda nodded, passing his weapon to Manami. “Sorry to leave you to clean up…”

“It’s fine, Sakamichi. Your friends already dislike me.” Manami smiled, his head tilting slightly to the side. “I wouldn’t make you late by insisting you help clean.” 

“Thank you!” Onoda grinned at him even as Naruko grabbed his arm dragging him out of the building. 

“Tch. We don’t even have time for you to change into something other than practice clothes.” Imaizumi frowned as he followed Naruko and Onoda out of the gym. 

“Ka ka ka!” Naruko laughed grabbing Imaizumi’s arm as well. “We better run then shouldn’t we?”