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Sep 24, 2019 4:51 AM
Su and Naruto in Voltron
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The year is 2314. 

Earth survived World War Three and came out stronger. Humankind has begun to explore their solar system, sending manned flights out to Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond under the aegis of an international astro-exploration initiative known as the Galaxy Garrison. With bases all over the world, the Garrison trains new generations of astroexplorers and sends them up equipped with the best technology Earth has to offer. 

Sometimes, however, their best isn't quite enough. One year ago, a mission to Kerberos, one of Pluto's moons, ended in disaster. All three crew members of the Kerberos Mission—pilot Shirogane Takashi, and scientists Samuel and Matthew Holt—were lost along with their ship in what has officially been deemed 'pilot error'. 

All three were graduates, Matthew Holt only the previous year, of the Galaxy Garrison Academy, based in Arizona. 

Right now, one class of cadets is running team exercises in the flight simulators. Their 'task' is a rescue mission to Kerberos. It takes nearly five months to fly out there in real-time, so the simulators have skipped all the way to the interesting part at the end: reaching the moon itself, finding the planned landing site for the original mission, and attempting to make contact with the missing crew. 

Kerberos looms before them in the viewscreen as the simulation begins. 

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She's the pilot, which means she's hyper-focusing, brain streamlined in, mind clear of everything except her task - 

She can never explain how she does it.

Nuray Uzun is a very good pilot.

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Ideally, he won't have much to do beyond basic routine tasks as the simulation's engineer. Still, he's calm, centered, on call in case something goes wrong - in his domain or others he's authorized to help with.

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It's a simulation designed to test their functioning as a team; of course something's going to go wrong. 

The comms tech and final member of their 'crew', Pidge Gunderson, is equally quiet, focused on his bank of blinking lights. They haven't worked together before, but Cadet Gunderson probably skipped about three grades in middle school or something, because he looks about 14, several years younger than Akira and Nuray. He looks like he knows what he's doing, though. 

They've got about a minute before their ship enters the moon's gravity well. 

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She went over the plan with them before starting - presumably in real life that would've happened on the journey.

Now, she's recording her formal pilot's logs, focusing on getting them landed safely.

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There's some turbulence as they come into range of Kerberos' gravity, but nothing they haven't trained for. 

Something beeps.

"We've picked up a distress beacon!" 

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She gives orders for the appropriate people to get ready to evaluate the safety of the site, to explore, and to receive any potential casualties, as she maneuvers them closer.

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"Locking on to coordinates...got it!" 

It seems like the distress beacon is located not far from the planned landing site of the Kerberos Mission. The approach to it from here is twisty and difficult due to the moon's rugged geography. 

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Nuray, fortunately, is very good at her job. The piloting part, at least. 

She brings them in gently, more carefully than she actually wants to, so they can be properly alert for any problems.

Does it look safe to land and send out a team?

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Pidge is already attempting to make contact with whoever sent out the beacon.

"—hailing the crew of the Prometheus, if you can hear me, please respond. Over."

For a minute, there's no response and no sign of movement. Then there's a crackle of static over the airwaves, and a distorted voice starts to come through in broken chunks. Frowning, Pidge adjusts a dial, but that only makes it worse. Sparks fly from the console.

"Uh, engineer, whatever your name was—" 

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"Suzuki," he says, coming over and bending over the console to run diagnostics.

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The 'malfunction' proves 'fixable' with a little patience. 

"Thanks, Suzuki!" Pidge goes back to hailing the crashed ship—the wreckage of which can be seen on the ice field in front of them—but gets static again.

"...are you sure you fixed it?" 

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He checks again, saying, "The problem could be on their end..." as he does.

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"I'll keep trying different frequencies. Maybe—"

He's cut off as the ship shakes. 

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She starts snapping out orders - mostly trying to find out what's gone wrong - 

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What's gone wrong, as is apparent as soon as Nuray looks out of the 'viewport', is that the ice beneath them is starting to crack under the combined weight of the two ships. 

Their cockpit starts tilting backwards, shuddering again to give the impression of movement. 

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They can't stabilize easily; there's nothing for it but to lift off, either to land somewhere more remote or to send an exploration team in a much smaller craft.

Does removing their weight remove the problem?

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Well, it removes them from the problem, in the sense that they're no longer sinking through the ice. The extra push from their takeoff, though, must have destabilised the ice sheet even further, because with a massive CRACK the wreckage of the Prometheus starts to sink beneath the surface.

In front of them, jagged spikes of ice larger than their craft rear up in their path, creating a treacherous, constantly-shifting obstacle course. 

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Crap. Well, she screwed that one up.

She's able to navigate the ice field; that's something she's good at, at least. Can she find somewhere stable to - either land their craft or a smaller away vehicle?

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The path through spires of rock and ice gets increasingly tricky, requiring fast reflexes as well as some thinking ahead to avoid getting caught in a dead end. There aren't really any big flat surfaces on this moon other than the—proven to be treacherous—ice sheets. 

"Great job," Pidge snarks from the comms console. "You've sunk the ship we were supposed to be rescuing." 

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Yeah no ignoring the commentary flying - 

Not perfectly - 

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Things are going wrong as new and exciting stresses are put on the ship! And they have one engineer who can't be everywhere at once, and who is slow and methodical so far.

Something fails catastrophically.

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And despite Nuray's best efforts, that's enough to knock them far enough off course that they collide with a spire of rock. The cockpit shakes and rattles in a convincing imitation of impact.

The landscape in the viewscreen is replaced with a black screen blinking "SIMULATION FAILED" in large red letters. The simulator comes back to resting position and shuts off. 

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Pidge slumps in his chair with a frustrated noise. 

"An absolute pleasure flying with you," he says, sarcasm dripping from every syllable in the way only a 14-year-old can manage. 

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"Same! Good work, team!" she says, entirely non-sarcastically.

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Pidge is about to reply to that, but before he gets a chance, the simulator opens up, revealing the rest of the room. 

Their instructor, Commander Iverson, glares down at the trio with his one working eye. "A sub-par performance," he says. "Would anyone else in this class like to tell me what these cadets did wrong?" 

Hands fly up from where the rest of their class are standing around waiting for their turn. "The pilot landed without making sure the ice was stable!" "The engineer wasn't doing anything for half the time!" "The comms officer didn't help fix the equipment!" "They just kept yelling at each other instead of fixing things!" 

Iverson quiets them and turns back to the three in the simulator. "While your individual performance was adequate, your cohesion as a team was poor. Do better. Next!" He gestures impatiently for them to move so the next group can take a turn. 

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