The Larkinson Family enjoyed a high reputation in the Bright Republic.
The mech pilots bearing this distinguished name always lifted their heads in pride as they perpetuated the legacy of their predecessors.

However, these Larkinson pilots only represented a fraction of the family.
Though the Larkinsons possessed good genes, the demand on genetic aptitude was simply too stringent.

Most descendants who grew up in this distinguished military family would inevitably have their dreams crushed when they reached ten.
Upon learning that their genetic aptitude was not up to par, their path to becoming a noble mech pilot turned out to be a distant illusion.

This was a bitter pill to swallow for many young Larkinsons.
Ves himself had wasted his entire teenage years because it took this long to get over his profound disappointment.

Fortunately, most Larkinsons readjusted quickly.
The Larkinsons never stigmatized or looked down on the norms in the family.
Each of them were related by blood, after all.
No matter if they were potentates or norms, the Larkinsons always stuck together without any pretensions of status or superiority.

Moses Larkinson used to be one of those crushed ten-year old kids.
Seeing a handful of cousins emerge out of the testing center with smiles hurt him deeply.

From that day on, the friends he used to wrestle with became the future pride of the family.
The new potentates no longer had time to play silly games or waste their time on idle past-times.

The training of a Larkinson mech pilot started immediately.
In order to insure that each Larkinson started off with a strong foundation and solid specialization, they needed to undergo a training regime that was far more arduous than the courses offered by the mech academies.

If not for the strong will and belief in the Larkinson heritage, most of the potentates in the family would have spat blood and given up early.

Of course, none of that had anything to do with Moses Larkinson.
Though the family did its best to avoid treating norms as rejects or lesser beings, the lack of attention from the greatest of Larkinsons became very clear.

Many Larkinson norms eventually accepted their fate.
They turned their attention to other vocations.
With the help of their name and the modest financial support of their family, they could easily pursue other careers.

Some became respected doctors who worked at major hospitals.

Others studied business in order to land an easy job managing some of the assets of the Larkinson Estate.

Of course, a disproportionate amount of Larkinsons still chose to serve in the armed forces.

Even if the Mech Corps centered around mechs and mech pilots, they still required a lot of support to function optimally on the battlefield.

Many Larkinsons, by virtue of their background, rose up to become a part of the backbone of the Mech Corps.

Each of them served in the Mech Corps because they felt compelled to do so.
It was the Larkinson way.

Moses Larkinson happened to be one of them.
Leveraging his high understanding of mechs due to growing up in a family obsessed with them, he worked his way up the ranks of the Mech Corps as a tactical officer.

He even participated in the Bright-Vesia Wars, earning a respectable amount of merits and honor to satisfy his obligation as a Larkinson.

To Moses, it wasn ’t enough.
Even if he did his duty, he always felt that he had it easy compared to the mech pilots who risked their lives directly at the forefront of the battlefield.

There was still a difference between mech pilots and norms.

With the war between the Bright Republic and the Vesia Kingdom over, Moses still found himself with a void within his heart.

He languished in his duties ever since the Bright Republic returned to peace.

There may not be another war in twenty to thirty years.
That was far too long for an impatient man like Moses.

Was he really destined to spend the bulk of his service in peace?

Then the Sand War erupted.

The horror that had beset the Komodo Star Sector shocked every Brighter.
Border states with hundreds of years of history fell within a matter of weeks or months.
The endless onslaught of sandman fleets overwhelming defenses sparked one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies in the star sector in hundreds of years!

The citizens of the Bright Republic became frightened when they heard about the collapse of so many states and the deaths of trillions of humans.

A war was coming, one that was greater and more terrible than the ones they fought before!

Yet to certain people like Moses Larkinson, he felt as if he found his true calling in this crisis.

Defending humanity against alien aggression was one of the most noble callings imaginable!

Since the Age of Mechs, most conflicts between humans and aliens had subsided.
Many races were self-aware enough to avoid poking the strongest civilization in the galaxy.

As for humanity, the Big Two did not consider the risks of further expansion to be worthwhile.
To fight any further would risk depleting an already-exhausted civilization.
With so many lives at stake, the CFA and MTA could not afford to overextend their forces!

For this reason, clashes between civilizations became rare.
So much so that many Brighters never imagined fighting against an alien race in their lifetimes.

To a Larkinson like Moses, the sandman crisis actually came as an opportunity.

Once the Bright Republic unveiled the Starfighter Corps, Moses saw his opportunity!

”I have to volunteer! ”

Due to his accomplishments in the Mech Corps and the reputation of his family name, Moses immediately became an officer candidate of the Starfighter Corps.

While his piloting skills were just as average as any hastily-trained starfighter pilot, his discipline, wartime experience and dedication soon elevated him above his peers.

It took less than a month for him to become a Starfighter Captain and deploy to the front.

The brass randomly allocated him to lead a starfighter wing of the 243th Greedy Luxers.

Like every other starfighter regiment, the 243th only existed for a very short time.

Compared to his old mech regiment, the Greedy Luxers did not benefit from a long and storied history.
The lack of martial tradition and camaraderie became very evident as Moses tried to forge his starfighter wing from a random collection of volunteers into a band of brothers.

”Captain Larkinson! ” The comm in his starfighter crackled as Moses tried to dance away from the barrage of lasers fired by the distant sandman swarm! ”Cover the mercenaries as best you can as we advance! ” 

Moses gritted his teeth as his starfighter endured a number of hits.
He hit back as best as possible by firing the ballistic weapon mounted on his spacecraft, but he had little hopes of hitting one of the sandman drones at this range. 

”Acknowledged, sir. ” He replied to his superior.
”My men will keep up, though they will pay for it with their lives. ”

The price of closing distance to the sandmen was too costly to bear.
Moses barely made it out alive in previous actions.
Would he be lucky enough to be spared from the sandmen this time?

He shook his head and tried his best to immerse his mood in the distant glow of a Desolate Soldier hovering in the vicinity of his starfighter regiment.

Glancing at the mech designed by the most successful norm of the Larkinson Family in its entire history peppered him up.
Respect and awe suffused his face as he recalled the incredible accomplishments of its designer.

Ves was a true role model of the norms in the family!

Even without piloting a mech, his accomplishments already put him on equal terms with the expert pilots among the Larkinsons!

Something like that had never occurred! Every norm, Moses included, took inspiration from his rise!

Just because they lacked the aptitude to pilot mechs did not mean they were destined to be sidelined!

Each Larkinson possessed the potential to become a hero!

Moses firmed up and commanded his starfighter pilots to advance.

His subordinates responded shakily.
The torrent of laser beams had never relented.
It took a lot of courage to advance into the storm!

As his wing formation grew more and more ragged, Moses continually exhorted his men to push forward!

”Are you pigs or starfighter pilots?! Remember your training! ”

”Endure! The lives of 700 million citizens are at stake! ”

”The swarm is already beginning to shrink! ”

None of his subordinates were anything alike his former comrades in the Mech Corps.

Most of the ’volunteers ’ had been lured into serving in the Starfighter Corps through deceptive means.
Once they realized the dangers, it was too late for them to withdraw!

”The only way to survive is to fight! ”

”Heroes never falter! ”

”Your brothers and sisters are counting on you! ”

His job as a starfighter captain mostly amounted to managing rookies.
The naive and gullible starfighter pilots had to be treated carefully and with constant encouragement in order to keep them in formation.

If not for the Desolate Soldier accompanying their wing, Moses was sure that at least half of his subordinates would have fled by now!

”We ’re getting close! Focus on evasive maneuvers! Let the mechs whittle down the swarm! ”

The starfighters under his command vigorously flew side to side, though its thrusters weren ’t powerful enough to fool sandman targeting systems.

Moses merely wanted to give his starfighter pilots the illusion that their sluggish maneuvers could make a difference in preserving their lives.

Giving his subordinates the illusion that they had control over their own fate was just one of the many lies he had been instructed to tell.

Once his wing arrived in position, their formation remained in place as the mechs using the starfighters as cover began to target the sandman drones with greater accuracy.

The initial results were better than Moses expected of mercenaries.

Hundreds of mechs and starfighters joined the fray.
Moses even spotted a handful of the newfangled Dawnbreakers shooting down the sandman drones with abandon!

Though numerous starfighters exploded all around him, the sandman swarm dearly paid for these small successes.

”The swarm is disintegrating! ”

”We took out one of their sandman admirals early! ”

Roars of victory flooded the communication channels! Everyone expressed their raw relief at this hard-fought victory!

Though a number of sandman admirals still persisted, their advantage in numbers continually grew smaller and smaller until they didn ’t have any drones left to threaten the human defenders.

The battle was won!

Unfortunately, as Moses and his ragged subordinates flew back to their carrier, he had no choice but to tally their losses.

Less than twenty starfighter pilots gathered together at one of the hangar bays.
Each of them looked glum as over half of their wing failed to make it back in time.

Perhaps at least half of them managed to eject in time, but the sandmen never let off the slow-moving escape pods.
It only took one weak laser beam to pierce their flimsy shells and kill the starfighter pilot trying to flee.

Such an outcome became increasingly more prevalent as the sandman admirals started to ditch their heavy laser strikes for rapid-fire laser salvos.

”May our comrades who perished in battle rest in peace. ” Moses stated.

”Their light will forever burn in our hearts. ”

Scenes like this occurred everywhere.
Moses had seen so many of his subordinates fall that he stopped memorizing their names.
They died so frequently that Moses had grown numb to the losses.

”When will it be my turn? ” He quietly whispered under his breath.

His starfighter was no different from the others.
Skill made little difference due to the limitations of their spacecraft.

In the end, Moses Larkinson lasted for three more battles.
After beating off some basic sandman fleets, another swarm configuration descended upon the star system.

The Greedy Luxers reluctantly answered the call.

Moses Larkinson died as one of many starfighter pilots that perished that day.

He died doing his duty under the glow of a Desolate Soldier.

He died with a smile.

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