It was a dark night, cold and rainy with a heavy storm raging overhead. Lightning was flashing like short bursts of sunlight. Thunder cracked liked the sound of shattering glass and broken wood combined. And the rain was beating on the many buildings, the poor people who couldn't find cover from it. As all this happened a figure wearing a long black cloak placed an item no larger than a loaf of bread and covered in a cloth into a dumpster beside a random building. After making sure that the item was down in the dumpster and didn't somehow slip out in any crevice, the cloaked figure walked away.

But, a voice shouted over the thunder and beating rain;

"Who's there!?".

The figure stopped from shock and looked up to see a somewhat portly Caucasian man standing several feet away from him. He had brown eyes, a mop of curly brown hair graying and a likewise graying beard. While he looked average, the less average sight was the baseball bat in his hands. He must be the owner of the building or a worker. Either way, he didn't seem to care for trespassers.

"Who are you? What are you doing here?!" The man demanded as he advanced with his bat raised up to attack.

The dark figure gave a low growl of annoyance. He didn't have time to deal with this. And so he took out a smoke pellet from his cloak and tossed it on the ground. As the heavy smoke filled the entire space, the figure disappeared into thick artificial clouds. The man with the bat rushed to try to at least get in one hit., the figure got away by the time he got over to him. The man just stood there for a minute, processing the situation and why it happened, when he heard a noise that sounded like a baby crying. His attention then turned to the dumpster beside the building.

"What's this?" He asked himself. The man walked over to the dumpster and looked inside to further inspect the contents. And to his great surprise, he found a six-month-old baby boy staring at him. He had kicked off the dark blanket, and he was wailing, his face wet from rain and his body somewhat grimy from the trash.

The man reached inside, grabbed the infant and clutched the squirming boy to his chest. He then ducked inside the building and tried to dry the lad off.

"Who throws away a baby? Who would do something as heartless as this?" He wondered.

The baby cried again, and the man began rocked him. Even though he knew next to nothing about babies, he has seen enough passing by couples to know rocking settles them down. After a while of being rocked the baby boy,, fell asleep. The man then went over to the couch, grabbed a pillow and took out the lone apple from his large fruit basket then set the pillow in it. He then placed the child on top of the pillow and soon he made himself comfortable on his makeshift bad. This made the man also realized that he would have to go shopping for supplies tomorrow because he had nothing to feed the baby with led alone diapers or clothes he would need.

As the infant slept the man sat in his rocking chair, contemplating on what to do with the child. The adoption laws were lax at best so adopting the child would be an easy task. Still, he had to wonder why anyone would throw away a child. Was that man the father, or perhaps a parent of the mother or father who sought to get rid of the child to avoid scandal? Sad as it is he has seen such things happen before. But it doesn't mean he'll ever get used to it or tolerate it.

As he made his way to where the youngster lay, a little shiny glimmer caught his eye.

"Mm… what's this?" The man asked as he grabbed the glittery item. In his fingers was a silver pendant with a black dragon on one side and the name David Blair on the other. "Well, well, so you have a name. Well, little David, my name is Steven Volkoff, and it looks like you have just been adopted."

Fourteen years later

a decade in a half passed since Mr. Volkoff found and adopted that small child left in the trash. And said child, David Blair, grew into a bright and happy young teen. He had jet-black hair and eyes were as blue as the sea. And unlike most laid back teenagers he was inquisitive and eager to learn about everything.

"David, your ride is here," Steven called out from the kitchen as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

"Thanks!" David shouted as he ran from his room upstairs, bid his adopted father goodbye and ran out the door to hop on the school bus. He lived in Terra of the Bantus Republic, a medium power on Earth.

"Hey, David!" Called out a voice.

David looked up to see his fellow student and friend, John Coiners. One year older than the raven head, John was a kid with hair that looked like the top of a palm tree and just as green.

"John, how ya been?" David asked as he plopped down on the seat next to his friend.

"Been keeping busy. You?" John asked back.

"Just finished the evaporator last night," David said.

"You mean the one that dropped three stories?" John asked in surprise.

"The same," Davis said with a boastful grin, making John give him a look of amazement.

"You are a miracle worker!" The green-haired teen exclaimed in admiration.

"I'm no Scotty, but I get the job done," David said with a modest smile.

From there the two rode on in companionable silence along with their classmates. After fifteen minutes the buff arrived at their school. The James Brink Middle School was small with just four classrooms, so there was no gym or music class. Despite this, the teachers were nice enough. And today students could look forward to a special class. A class on mechas, which are giant robots used for combat or industrial purposes. Everyone sat in attentive silence as they listened to their teacher give her lecture.

"In 2017, the threat of all but assured destruction by nuclear weapons in the U.S. led to the creation of Mobile Attack Armor. Or mechas are they are also known as. These mobile weapons were very slow and bulky. However, their armor efficiency proved itself in the Avery Incident in Iran where militants tried to fire a nuclear missile at the U.S. capital, which was stopped by the MAA. This destroyed the Iranian government. With its destruction came the complete downfall of all radical terrorism in the twenty-first century."

"After that point," The teacher said after her pause. "...the MAA evolved into the mechas we know today." She pushed up her round glasses and switched to the new slide showing a suit that looked like a mechanical predator. "2024 saw the first of these modern makes, the X-J Bird. It did not have the best maneuverability, but its speed was unchallenged. Then came the Brokerage, perhaps the best-known mecha in known history, equipped with twelve long-range ion guns. The Brokerage was the dominant mecha of its time."

While everyone else was listening with eagerness, David was less attentive than his classmates were. He already knew most of this and zoned out during the rest of the lesson., the class ended and everyone soon piled out. The last pairs to exit were David and John as they went to the lunchroom. As they made their way there the two friends conversed as usual.

"You know, David that was the shortest class I have ever been to." John pointed out.

"And there is a problem with that?" David asked with a slight smirk."I don't see one, myself. A short class means less time to hear the teacher drag on." Said a voice from behind them. "Leaving me behind?" David and John turned around to see another one of their best friends, Nozomi.

Nozomi Shina, a classmate, and a close friend David have known most of his life. But she isn't like most other girls in town. Nozomi is a Nekomata, which is a person is born with a unique genetic change that gives her the characteristics of a cat. This genetic change includes the most common feline features, which are the pointed ears. Her catty appearance also makes her the cutest girl in school. But her down to Earth personality makes her gracious towards the mass attention. Nozomi caught up with the two boys and they went to the cafeteria.

"Heh, Nozomi. We were just looking for you." Said David, lying.

"Hmm-mm, right." Said the girl who both looked and sounded unconvinced. Never the less she followed the boys to the cafeteria.

"Blast, they're serving spaghetti again," David said with a disgusted look on his face as the familiar smell of marinara sauce and pasta. Nozomi also didn't seem to care for the scent and wrinkled her nose.

"Looks like you will go without lunch again." The cat girl said.

"I'll live," David said with a frown on his face. The friends seated themselves at their usual table by the window in the cafeteria. This time, John broke the ice and spoke.

"Hey, have you heard?" John asked.

"Heard what?" David said, trying to ignore his belly growling.

"The local Mech Academy is coming to town this weekend. They're having a test at the civic center, and those who pass are let into the academy." John explained.

"What are you proposing? That we all sign up?" David asked with a curious, cocked an eyebrow.

"..." John trailed off with his trademark grin.

"I don't know, John., you cannot even make it through gym practice without weeping from doing two laps. I don't think you can handle a complex machine like a mecha." Nozomi said with a grin of her own.

"Humph! Shows what you know, miss kitty! I can hold my own with the best of them!" John exclaimed.

"Then why is it you can't beat our history teacher at arm wrestling?" Nozomi asked with a deadpan expression.

"Well, that's different. She used to be the captain of her girl's baseball league." John defended making the two laugh. "Though, I think that we should consider it! you David."

"Me?" David asked with a blink of confusion.

"Yeah!, you're smart and good with your hands. You'd be the top pilot easy." The green-haired teen stated.

"I guess...It's still a sudden decision to make." David said. Then another growl from his stomach made him groan from the hunger pains.

"Well, we can't decide with no food in our bellies. I'll go ask Charles from our math class if he wouldn't mind sharing some of his home lunch. His mom always makes him enough for two." Nozomi said as she got up.

"Why, cause he doesn't eat enough?" John asked.

"No, so he can charm a girl and find a future wife." The cat girl replied making the two young man chuckle.

Later that day, when school was beginning to each it ends, David went up to the roof of the school where he set up a chair for his daily ritual. Said ritual comprised drinking a can of pink lemonade he got from the vending machine, then watch from the seat of his chair as the sun sank and the sky went to a nice shade of dusty red. As he sat down to watch this phenomenon occur before his eyes David thought something. And that something was John's previous mention about the Mecha Academy and the thought of signing up for it.

"Should I sign up? I mean, I haven't even finished school. But then again, being a pilot is a high-paying job and I could see a lot of places I wouldn't get to see a normal job. There is an equal number of cons to being a mecha pilot..."

He let his thoughts trail off and took a sip of his pink lemonade before letting out a long sigh. "I'll give it a few days to think about it."

the sound of someone clearing their throat caught the raven head's attention. David looked to his side and saw his adoptive father Mr. Volkoff.

"Time to come home, David," Steven said.

"Yes, sir," David replied and stood up, folded his chair, sat it beside the entrance leading back down into the school and exited with the older man. As they went down the stairs, Mr. Volkoff spoke.

"I've heard you're thinking about joining the Mech Academy at Tresser," Steven said.

"...Yes, I am. Are you angry, sir?" David asked somewhat. And to his surprise, Mr. Volkoff smiled.

"No, quite the contrary. Even though you're young, I think you'll do well at the academy, David." Steven replied which made David's eyes lit up.

"You mean—?" He asked and the old man gave a simple nod of yes.

"I think your friend said the registration test is at the civic center this weekend, so rest up," Steven said.

"Thank you so much, sir!" David exclaimed, grabbing onto his adoptive father in a tight hug.

"Certainly, son...But don't hug so tight. I am an old man." Steven said.

"Oh. Heh, sorry." David replied with a meek smile.

And so after that David spent every waking moment studying all about mechas. Whatever free time he had during the weekdays he used it to get ready for the registration test. Then that Friday evening he went to bed early so he would be ready for the big day. When the weekend came with the rising sun David, John and Nozomi made their way to the civic center. Despite his previous confidence, David was very nervous, and John noticed.

"You will do find, David. Don't worry about it. Nozomi and I are taking the test, too." John assured as he patted his friend on the back.

"I studied all week, so I hope I get in." David sighed.

"We'll all get in, David. So don't worry! Now let's get going." Nozomi said, and the trio made their way to the center.

And upon reaching their destination they realized they wouldn't be the only ones taking part. The term "packed" was an understatement. There were at least a thousand people at the center and the chances for passing seemed little to none. Among these many hopefuls, there was only room for the best with potential. This sobering fact just made David even more nervous. But he tried his best to keep a straight face. If his friends could stay confident, then so could he. They stood staring until a new voice asked them a question,

"Are you here for the tests?" The teens spun around to see a man in a black suit. "Well, are you?" He asked.

All they could do was nod their affirmation.

"All right. This way, please. That includes the rest of you." He said and led the three along the back way until they came to a small room. "Please take your seats." They did so. "The test will start soon." The man and then left the room.

Thirty minutes later another black-uniformed person, this one a man who was older looking, came in and passed out the paper tests to the group. And each test was three pages long.

"You have two hours to finish them. Begin." The man stated and once he set the timer on his digital watch, the group went to work.

However as time passed, David and his friends were having a little problem with the test. Most of the questions were tricky and could have anyone answer. Others were questions they didn't even know had anything to do with being a pilot. Even still, they carried on and answered each question as best they could., the timer on the man's watch dinged after the two hours were over.

"Time's up." The man said and went about collecting the test papers then went to the front of the room. "We will give you the results next Friday. Thank you for coming." And just like his colleague before him the man left.

Everything happened so fast it left the trio confused. But they couldn't process it any further when three new people came in, led by another suited person. So the three friends got up from the desks and left the new group to take the test. Afterward, they went to a local burger joint for a bite to eat. During their meal, they talked about how the test went and what their results would be like. They could only hope for the best and brace themselves for the worst. But no matter what happens they'll be there for one another., the sun had set and David, John, and Nozomi made their way to their respective homes after bidding each other farewell. That night David looked out his window and stared up at the night sky as he took in the sounds of dogs barking, bugs making various noises and cars passing by

"Can I do it? If I get accepted, can I get through the thing?"

"Can't sleep, can you?" Asked a familiar voice and David turned around to see Steven standing at his door.

"No, I guess I can't stop worrying…" David stopped as a frown came to his face.

"… about being accepted into the academy?" Steven finished, and David's frown got bigger at the question. Steven gave a sympathetic sigh and walked into his adoptive son's room then put his hand on the teen's shoulder. "Now you listen young man. I did not raise any fool. You have a chance few people like you ever get and besides, you always said you wanted a life of adventure. Now's your chance for both—don't waste it."

The statement made the young man look at his adopted father with a stunned expression. It was a powerful indictment. And it helped to make him feel better.

"Don't worry, sir, I won't," David assured with a smile.

"Good, now get sleep," Steven said and closed the door. David needed none further prompting after that and went into a dreamless slumber.