Categories > Anime/Manga > Dragon Ball Z > Illumination: Second Wind

Dhedar, Ceva: Preparing for War

by SilverArmada 0 Reviews

Settle in children, it's time to go to war.

Category: Dragon Ball Z - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Trunks - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2006/06/26 - Updated: 2006/06/27 - 6677 words

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Dhedar, Ceva: Preparing for War

"Please, this way," the young lieutenant Tourraine loudly addressed the group behind him, trying to speak over the noise of other spacecraft without directly yelling. He turned and led the group onward to the exit of the shipyard and towards the inner city.

Laiserta raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes at Trunks, a look more directed at their predicament than him. He shook his head and laughed in response; the way she acted like a bored child was amusing at times. Trunks then found himself rolling his shoulders again, trying to get adjusted to the new 'armor' he wore. He briefly recalled the mild shock he felt when Armada gave it to him...

"Here," Armada said as she tossed the blue and black object at him.

"Whoa!" was all Trunks could manage to say as he instinctively caught what Armada had thrown at him. He lifted it up to see a heavy long-sleeved shirt unfold in his hands. The material felt very dense and had a unique texture that he was sure he recognized. "Hey wait a minute," he called out once he saw that Armada was starting to leave. She stopped and looked at him, waiting to hear whatever he had to say. "Is this...?" Trunks began but he wasn't sure what word to use.

"Yes," Armada cut him off, "it's made from the same fibrous material as my armor. I thought it's better than what you have now." She paused, and as he continued to inspect his newly gifted 'armor' she elaborated. "I don't have any more of the alloy to add any plates to it, but I figured that you wouldn't need them anyway."

"You made this?" he looked up, surprised at her statement.

"Of course," she replied flatly. "Where else would I have gotten it?" She briefly waited for a response, and after receiving nothing but silence, Armada turned and left.

Trunks moved his arms around more and wondered how Armada got used to the way the material absolutely clung to one's skin. Once he realized that she didn't just wear the material as a shirt, his cheeks flushed very slightly and he quickly averted his thoughts to their task at hand.

Trunks mulled over the past week and a half, the time it took to travel from Nalm to Ceva. About three days ago they sent the Empress a recorded message indicating that they were arriving in Dhedar and planned on helping to fight the war. Since they hadn't received a message of protest, the quartet had merely assumed they were welcome to help and welcome in Ceva. Upon reaching Cevan airspace, they received a message from First Class Lieutenant Tourraine, who had directed where they were to land in Dhedar. Fortunately it wasn't the same shipyard as the last time they'd visited Ceva; the one which led to their capture by the now defunct Federation Alliance.

Presently the Cevan officer led the group through busy downtown Dhedar directly toward the palace. The mercenaries, already tired and ready for late evening to fall upon them, were unsettled to see that Ceva's day had just started. Jet lag in traveling from one world to the next could prove to be a real annoyance sometimes.

Soon enough, Tourraine led the quartet into the public-access first floor lobby of the palace and approached a large elevator. He pulled out a small card and swiped it in front of a black box, and with a beeping sound to accompany his action, the elevator doors opened. The five moved in, and as the young Cevan lieutenant pressed the button for the floor they wished to ascend to, Laiserta spoke. "Wow, this sure doesn't look familiar," she said with sarcasm and a laugh.

Tourraine turned slightly to shoot her an unappreciative glare. Laiserta raised her hands in defense and responded, "Sorry; just trying to lighten the mood." She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, and Trunks couldn't help smile slightly at her antics. He figured that she was just antsy without Marice around to pick on.

They stopped moving upward and the doors to the elevator opened, revealing that they had reached their destination. Tourraine led them into a large hallway that the four of them recognized, and turned right. After only leading them for another twenty yards or so, he opened a door and stood aside. "Please enter," he said firmly.

"As if you're asking," Laiserta quipped. She wasn't too fond of the lieutenant's lack of a sense of humor, and she wasn't afraid to let it be known verbally. Laiserta strolled in to the conference room and Tourraine's eyes narrowed after she passed. Her three comrades then proceeded to enter after her.

"Whoa," Laiserta said immediately upon seeing the empress.

"Welcome to Ceva, once again," Empress Peacecraft addressed the group as the other three filtered in.

"Run out of fancy gowns?" Laiserta smirked.

"Actually, a suit such as this is far more common attire for me around the palace," the empress responded with a sly smile while motioning to her bland khaki-colored jacket and pants. "The last time you were here we were nearing a holiday, and the regal attire is required of all members of the royal family during that time."

With the four present members of VDD assembled before her, the empress began with the real business at hand. "I thank you for coming to Ceva once again, and agreeing to help us in our fight against our aggressors."

"Well Taydr's not just a threat to you anymore," Armada replied flatly. "Don't consider this a favor to Ceva, but more of a way to strike against Taydr."

The empress nodded with understanding. "I see. All the same, you will be aiding us, so you are deserving of my thanks regardless of your own motives."

"Empress, please excuse my tardiness," the equally casually-dressed General Yuy spoke as he entered from a door opposite the one to which the mercenaries had been led. "I see they have arrived," he added, stopping at the empress's right side.

"A pleasure to see you again as well, General Yuy," Naya spoke suddenly, a slight smirk showing on her face.

"And you as well, General Chiro," the Cevan general replied. His face showed little emotion but he felt the same about their meeting as Naixame did, and the intuitive general realized it.

"So what's the plan?" Trunks was the first to speak.

"I was hoping I could meet with General Chiro to assess each of your strengths and weaknesses and assign you to a particular branch of the Cevan military based on our assessments," General Yuy spoke. "Unless of course, any of you object."

Armada said nothing, Trunks nodded in approval, and Laiserta shrugged. "Eh, do whatever you want," she added, folding her arms across her chest nonchalantly.

"Ducard," the empress called out and soon a royal servant was standing before the mercenaries. "Show them where they will be staying."

"Yes mademoiselle," he bowed slightly and turned towards the group.

"We get to stay in the palace? Again?" Laiserta questioned in excitement. "Awesome!" she exclaimed with joy. "This place was pretty sweet when we were last here," she laughed to her three comrades.

"Please, follow me," Ducard spoke politely and yet with a firm tone. He gave Laiserta a narrow gaze before he led the quartet out of the conference room.

After they'd all left, General Yuy turned to face the empress. "Do you really think they'll be able to help us?"

"We don't have many options," she replied lowly to him. "For all our sakes, I certainly do hope they can help."



***



Laiserta whistled while gazing up at the high ceilings. "My room wasn't this nice last time we were here," she said stopping to admire the intricate designs painted onto the ceiling.

"Well this isn't your room, now is it?" Trunks quipped with a smirk as he looked towards her.

"Mine's still way cooler than this," Laiserta replied with her usual teasing attitude before looking at him. She watched as he pulled several articles of clothing out of a bag sitting upon the one bed in the room. "Still unpacking, are we?"

"Yeah," Trunks laughed, "well my idea of unpacking isn't just tossing everything into a pile in the closet." He gave her with a knowing gaze.

"Hey, it's not my fault I don't have much to unpack," she laughed in return. "When you can't really wear normal clothes, you have a tendency to have a small wardrobe," she finished, resting her right hand on her hip.

"So," she spoke softly as Trunks continued moving around the room and putting away his belongings, "you think we're doing the right thing?"

Trunks stopped and looked at her. "Well," he started, "what choice do we really have? We can't let Taydr use those weapons freely. They're going to continue to hunt us, so what's to stop them from using disruptors against /us/?" He paused. "We might as well use what we can with Ceva to stop them."

"Yeah," Laiserta responded reluctantly, "I guess." She laughed darkly. "I suppose I'm not too fond of the idea of killing my fellow Taydrans, but... it was never really a 'home' in the first place."

"Lai..." Trunks started, his face visualizing his concern.

"I'm gonna go bug Naya now," the Taydran quickly replied and turned and headed out the door.

Trunks stood still for a moment after she left before he went back to putting his things away. Laiserta had a habit of keeping her pain to herself and Trunks worried what it might do to her in the long run.



***



Once Trunks had finished in his room, he headed down the hall to see if he could spot any of his other comrades. Laiserta had already wandered off and Armada was nowhere to be seen, as usual. He soon found the open door to Naya's room as she was still busy unpacking her things.

"Hey," he knocked on the door and stood just outside the room, even though the door was open.

Naya turned to see who had knocked. "Oh, Trunks," she said with a smile, "come in."

"Whoa," Trunks exclaimed as he walked in and saw the number of uniforms hanging in Naixame's closet. Each was a different color and shape, and he silently guessed there had to be at least twenty-five of them. "That's a lot of uniforms," he looked to her with wide eyes.

Naya laughed as she turned to him, "Well, some of them are from when I was in a combat branch, and some are from the different ranks I've been over the years, but most of them are just different ceremonial types I had to wear once I reached the rank of Master General."

Trunks laughed, "I wouldn't think there'd be so much ceremony in a military."

"It's how the nation is run," Naya elaborated. "Tyron is a nation founded on a military, to the very core. It was... important that I honored tradition as the general."

"So you were head of the entire military?" Trunks queried, still unsure of exactly what Naya did when she was with Tyron.

"Yes and no," Naya answered, moving to the closet to hang up another uniform. "I was the highest rank any officer could ever achieve; the entire military of Tyron was at my beck and call, except for the High Commander, the only person to outrank the Master General." Anticipating his next question, Naya continued. "The High Commander is the leader of Tyron and the current head of the ruling family of our nation. The position is pretty much comparable to a monarch," she finished, moving back over to the last few uniforms folded on her bed.

"Wow," Trunks wasn't sure what to say. Why would Naya have left Tyron if she was one of two people in charge? What would make a person want to abandon such a lucrative position? "Why retire?" Trunks asked, figuring that he and Naya were close enough now that he could ask.

Naya's eyes fell to the ground. "It... I... The position no longer required..." Naya stopped and Trunks knew that something was wrong. She gave him a sad smile. "It was time for me to leave." She picked up one of the few remaining uniforms set on the bed and began to unfold it to hang in her closet.

"You're what Naya, thirty-five, thirty-six?" Trunks continued. "It wasn't 'time for you to leave,'" he quoted her words. "But if you don't want to talk about it now, then that's okay," Trunks gave her a half-hearted smile.

"Thank you," Naya nodded to him before heading over the closet. Before she hung up yet another uniform, she cringed and dropped what she was carrying. She brought both hands to her temples and started to double over.

"Naya are you okay?" Trunks questioned worriedly as the lights in the room began to fade in and out. After only a few seconds, Naya opened her eyes and appeared to be fine, and the simultaneously occurring brown-outs stopped.

"Just a headache," Naya smiled weakly. "I'll be fine," she waved him off as she reached down to pick up the outfit she dropped.

"I'll leave you alone so you can unpack," Trunks attempted to lighten the mood before he turned and headed for the door. Naya glanced at his back with concern and continued with arranging her room.

Trunks glanced left and right down the hall when he exited Naya's room and happened to see Armada walking away from him a good twenty yards to his right. "Hey!" he called out to her, jogging toward her to close the gap between them.

Armada stopped and looked back at him. "I don't have time for this," she shouted to him, turning and continuing on her way.

Trunks slowed and eventually stopped. "What's the big rush?" he shouted down the hall after her.

"I need to go make sure the ship is completely locked up," Armada said without turning to look at him. "Whatever it is, it can wait until later."

"Sure," Trunks said to no one but himself. He watched her turn right at the end of the hall and wondered briefly, Didn't we already lock up the ship when we went to get our things? Brushing off the event, he went back to his room to grab some money before heading out for lunch in Dhedar, despite the fact that it felt like a midnight snack to him. Trunks and his comrades all realized they'd have to stay up a while longer or they'd end up nocturnal in terms of Ceva's day and night, which wouldn't be acceptable in the middle of fighting a war.



***



He saw Armada standing just at the edge of the water on the beach, her back to him. He noticed that her hair was up in a bun, and she wore strangely normal clothing. Disregarding the oddities of the situation, Trunks still approached her at a jogging pace.

She must have heard him coming because she turned just slightly to look over her shoulder toward him. She tuned her entire body to face him when he stopped just a few feet away from her.

"We're so glad you're safe," Trunks smiled with relief. "We've been looking all over for you, and-"

"Who are you?" Armada questioned flatly, her gaze trying to decipher anything she could from the stranger standing before her.

"What?" Trunks stopped, overcome with shock. "Armada it's me, Trunks," he pleaded, looking at her curiously.

"How do you know my name?" she took a small step away from him as another wave washed ashore.

"Armada, what are you talking about? It's me, Trunks, remember?" He suddenly realized how urgent and desperate his voice sounded as he saw confusion and a hint of fear spread across her features. "You live with Marice, Lai, Einarr, Naya and myself on the Verdandi." Again, he saw no sudden flash of understanding in her. "We've known each other for nearly two years..." he trailed off as a realization hit. He reached forward and took her left hand in his right. "Kami, what's happened to you?"

"Let go of me!" she tried to pull away, but she didn't... as if she had no idea how strong she actually was.

He pulled her in closer and took her other hand in his free hand. "Armada," she dodged his gaze, "what happened to you? Please," she struggled to get away from him, "look at me. Don't you remember? We were looking for Rura when we got separated-"

"My husband wouldn't appreciate this!" she said and managed to pull her right hand free.

"Husband?" Trunks echoed in shock. "You're not married, Armada!" Another thought hit him. "Who's done this to you? Armada! Armada, look at me!"

"What are you doing to my wife?" a third, male voice interjected with force from Trunk's right. He turned to see a red-haired man, his height, with strange orange eyes...

Trunks opened his eyes and let out a deep breath as if he had been holding it. After having a few seconds to realize that what had just happened was a dream, he sat up and blinked a few times. Something was stranger than usual about what he had just dreamt. Sure, he'd had weird dreams before but this was... different somehow. Not only did he have no clue who "Einarr" was, and that at the most he'd only known Armada eight months, but the strangest part about it all was how he wasn't /himself/. He was watching the events unfold before him from a distance, as if he were a fourth party present to the situation... something he'd never experienced before in a dream.

"Come on you," he heard Laiserta's voice from behind his door as she knocked on it. "Get up so I have someone to eat breakfast with," she continued knocking.

"Hey, give me a few minutes," Trunks called out to her as he rose to start getting ready for the day.

"It's about time you answered," Laiserta quipped from the other side of the door. "I've been knocking for a good five minutes!"

"Have fun with that," Trunks shouted to her with a laugh before snatching up a towel and heading for the shower.

"You do know I can see what you're doing in there, right?" Laiserta asked, obviously annoyed. "Make it quick; I'm wasting away here!"



***



Naya finished pulling her hair back into her usual bun and grimaced at the image she saw in the mirror. She wasn't fond of the black uniform she wore for battle; it had too many memories attached to it of a time and place she could never return to. She briefly remembered the first time she wore it, shortly after her promotion to the position that would become the bane of her existence...

"How does it look?" she smiled and modeled her newly acquired black uniform. She was especially excited because it was the first uniform she had with her new rank insignia on her left breast.

"It looks fine, General," Keiya replied flatly. He wasn't too enthused at the prospect of her new promotion, as it included with it an intrinsic proximity to battle which his office forced him to avoid.

She scowled at him. "There's no need for you to use my rank, Keiya," she replied, annoyed at the way he spat out her new title. She closed the small gap between them and took his face in her hands, forcing him to look her in the eyes. "We knew when I came under review by General Eisenhelm that it would come to this."

Keiya sighed and took her hands in his own, pulling them down and away from his face. "Your position purposefully places you in danger in some ridiculous effort to protect me." He paused, his face still sour. "Pardon me for not being polite and pretending to be okay with it."

"I accepted the offer, Keiya," Naixame scolded him, "and I knew what the consequences were of the choice I made."

He shook his head and broke the contact their hands had. "That doesn't mean I have to be okay with you on the front lines like this!"

"Keiya I'll be fine!" Naixame countered. Her expression changed as a thought came to mind. "You were never this possessive when I was in combat on a regular basis, so what seems to be the issue here?"

He took a moment to look away as he gathered his thoughts. "Naixame," he finally looked at her dead-on, "you're not just a target on a battlefield anymore. You've become a target within Tyron," he stopped briefly. "You've already made a lot of enemies just by reaching the position you're in, and while I remain protected, you-"

"I know," General Chiro cut him off. She smiled warmly. "All I have is this job, Keiya. I don't have a family to go home to or worry about."

"I'm more worried about you than anything else," Keiya added. He reached forward and pulled her into a hug, and briefly kissed her forehead. "I just don't want anything to happen to you."

Naixame laughed slightly. "I may be closer to the battle than you but by no means am I within firing range."

Naya sighed heavily. She and General Yuy had made their decisions regarding her comrades yesterday after the quartet had settled in and Naya only had to don her uniform and meet with the Cevan general to announce her comrades' posts to them this morning. Yet, it all seemed much more difficult than that to her. What if she was sending her comrades to their deaths by the positions she'd assigned to them? What if they didn't defeat Taydr? After all, that nation was over ten times the size of Ceva, and they had weapons that would be devastating if used against the small empire.

Naya brushed her emotions aside as she'd learned to do over the years and left her room. She strode down the hall wearing the stony visage she conjured for times when she couldn't show that she cared about their cause. She had to remain almost impartial to the situation to keep a level head and think strategically. At least, that's what she told herself.



***



"It's about time," Laiserta huffed as soon as Trunks opened the door to his room.

"Whoa," was all he managed to say upon seeing his Taydran comrade. She was wearing a bright blue suit and a long white trench coat that apparently had no right sleeve... and it looked as if it was supposed to be that way.

"Oh, this?" Laiserta motioned to her outfit. "It's an older suit of mine," she said with a slight laugh. "I've had it for about... ten years now, actually," she continued, going through the dates in her mind to confirm the number.

"Why the change?" Trunks queried, still studying the suit that had odd polygonal markings all over it, some even 'filled in' with different colors.

"Well," Laiserta started, taking on a tone in her voice as if she were about to try and sell him something, "this thing has some pretty cool tricks. Watch this!" she said with excitement as she used her left hand to tap on a few of the symbols on her right forearm. Instantly the blue of her suit faded into a black, including all of the colored symbols all over it.

"This mode absorbs more light than normal, making it really easy to hide in the dark," she said with a smirk. Tapping the symbols again, Laiserta's suit changed hues once more to a bright, fiery red. "This mode has extensive heat shielding, and is also fire retardant. Now," Laiserta continued, her grin widening, "for the best part." She tapped on the three symbols once more and the red of her suit faded away into a shimmery transparent material.

"No way!" Trunks was in disbelief. Laiserta's suit was mostly invisible; upon close inspection one could see the way objects behind her were distorted, but for every inch of her that the suit covered visible light passed through her.

"Obviously whatever isn't covered by the suit doesn't disappear," Laiserta laughed, her fingers, head, and the jacket she wore the only things still visible. "It's not as useful as it would be if I could become completely invisible, but it's still pretty cool." She touched the patterns on her right forearm again the suit changed back to its normal bright blue hue. "And of course, this has special radiation shielding-thought I might need that since Taydrs's got disruptors."

"So what's with the jacket?" Trunks continued. "I've never seen that before. Hell, I've never see anything /white /in your wardrobe."

"Found it in my closet," Laiserta answered with a shrug. "I'm guessing it's Cevan."

"Hey," Armada addressed her two comrades sternly as she approached them from behind. "Get your asses in gear; we're supposed to meet Naya and the General right now," she barked out as she strode past them on the right.

"Seriously?" Laiserta questioned, she and Trunks both standing still while their eyes followed their commander.

"What do you think?" Armada spat back at them without glancing backwards. The two mercenaries shrugged at one another and followed their 'captain' down the hall to the conference room they were already sick of seeing.

"Whoa, Naya," Laiserta's red eyes widened at the appearance of her comrade once she entered the room.

"Nice uniform," Trunks gave Naya a slight smile, noticing the way the black uniform she currently wore somehow seemed to give her more authority than normal.

"Thank you," Naya shook her head and laughed.

"Wow," Laiserta continued, crossing her arms across her chest, "everyone's got new clothes. Except spider-head of course," she glanced to her left at Armada. "That armor," Laiserta's face wrinkled, "ugh!"

Armada gave Laiserta a death-glare to which the Taydran remained oblivious. Trunks, standing between the two, took a step backward in case anything happened. He wanted to have enough time to get out of the way should any punches be thrown.

"General Chiro," General Yuy addressed as he opened another door to the room approached the gathering of mercenaries, "we have everyone?"

"Yes," Naya quickly responded.

"Good," Yuy continued. "I've got a lot of meetings with other branches today, so we're going to keep this short and sweet," he said finished, taking a deep breath and looking to Naya.

"Armada," Naya turned to the mercenary, "you've been assigned captain of the seventh division of the fifty-ninth air brigade. You'll have anywhere from thirty to fifty ships under your command."

"Trunks," Naya glanced to her male comrade, "you'll be captain of the first division of the first mobile infantry. And Lai," Naya looked to the Taydran, "you're now the commander of a stealth ops outfit, the Cevan Special Forces unit zero-six."

The four stood in silence for a moment before Laiserta spoke. "O-kay, so... what now?"

"You're expected to report to your new posts as soon as possible," Naya added. She paused for a moment, thinking for the words she wanted to use before speaking again. "We won't see one another for a while, so... good luck everyone."

The three mercenaries nodded and exited and the conference room, leaving behind one of their own. "So," Laiserta spoke outside the door to her two comrades, "where do I find this special forces unit I'm in charge of?"

Armada looked at Laiserta briefly before heading on her way down the large hall again. "Hey," Trunks called out after her, "what's the big rush?"

"I need to go talk to my lieutenants and the other captains," Armada spoke loudly as she continued without turning to look at him. "You heard Naya; 'as soon as possible.'"

Trunks scowled at her retreating figure. /Something's up because she's making it way too obvious that she's avoiding me/.

"Well," Laiserta sighed, "I guess I'd better go find my spies." She gave Trunks a half-hearted smile. "See you 'round, wonder boy." She turned and headed the other direction down the hall, towards the elevator closest to them.

Trunks stayed put until Laiserta had entered the elevator and completely vanished from his sight. Was that really it? Had he seen the last of his three comrades for... who knew how long? So now what? Trunks thought as he glanced from one end of the hall to the other. He had no idea where he was supposed to go to find the 'mobile infantry' and started to wonder how his comrades knew exactly what to do.

"Captain?" the voice of a young male addressed Trunks. He turned to his left to see a Cevan lieutenant walking to his side. The young man appeared startled, and after staring at Trunks for a second he hurriedly saluted.

Trunks raised an eyebrow at the officer. "And you are...?"

"Lieutenant Abel," the brown-haired officer replied, reaching out to shake Trunks's hand. The demi-Saiyan complied, and Abel continued, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Captain Briefs."

"Whoa," Trunks laughed nervously at the mention of his last name, "you can just call me Trunks."

"Eh, well," Abel struggled with how to address Trunks. "Captain," he settled on the rank without a name, "I was sent to come find you and show you where our unit is staying... and introduce you to the other captains, of course."

"Okay then Abel, lead the way," Trunks replied, waiting for the lieutenant to start moving.

Abel stared at Trunks for a few seconds before he realized that his captain was waiting on him to move out. "Oh!" Abel jumped nervously, "right this way!" He sighed and led Trunks down the long hall and the pair took a left, headed for the western side of the city as Abel informed him.



***



"Taharka!" a red haired woman called out. She spun around in the air and floated towards her black-haired comrade who also floated in the air, meditating.

"Xana," Rahara spoke to her fellow captain who was lost in thought, "have you seen Taharka?"

Chang Li-Nei sighed. "No Rahara, I have not seen him. Please, I am trying to meditate, so would you go bother someone else?" he spoke, his eyes still closed and hands still interlocked before him.

Rahara sighed heavily, her shoulders slumping as she rolled her yellow-orange eyes. "Oh fine, be that way," she whined like a child, floating away from him. "Hey," she looked toward Li-Nei again once she was about ten meters away, "do you know when Lieutenant Abel is getting back with the new captain?"

Li-Nei sighed and opened his eyes, obviously annoyed with his fellow captain. "I don't pay attention to anything happening in the other divisions. I'm captain of the second division, so if you have questions about that division then I'm the one to ask. Otherwise, find someone else," he finished, closing his eyes with a scowl as he attempted to get back to meditating.

"No need to be so huffy about it," Rahara quipped, her face showing a resigned frustration.

"Here we are," Lieutenant Abel said to Trunks as the pair entered the huge hangar. "The building where the mobile infantry units are stored," he added, looking to the massive vehicles parked in neat lines across the area.

"Abel!" Rahara's face lit up and she quickly flew over to him. After smiling broadly at the lieutenant, she looked to Trunks. "Is this the new captain?"

"Yes Captain Rahara," Abel replied. "This is Captain Briefs," he added, looking to his right at the taller man.

"Ah, well, Trunks is fine," Trunks laughed nervously. Something about being called 'Captain Briefs' just didn't feel right.

Rahara set her feet on the ground and brushed out her lopsided white skirt before reaching out a hand to Trunks. "I'm Rahara, captain of the third division," she said with a kind smile.

"Nice to meet you," Trunks shook hands with her. After a only two seconds of contact he yanked his right hand away from her. "Yikes," he said, shaking his hand, "you've got hot hands!"

"Oh!" Rahara exclaimed with a nervous laugh. "Sorry about that; sometimes I forget."

"Forget what?" Trunks asked curiously.

"Well," Rahara smirked and snapped her fingers which caused a flame to appear in the air above her right palm.

Trunks stared at her with wide blue eyes. "How'd you do that?"

"I'm a Flame Master," Rahara seemed happy to answer. "I was born into a fire clan in LOKI and we all have the natural ability to control fire. However," she continued, "only a select few every work their way up in the ranks to be called a 'master.'" Rahara was beaming; she was quite proud of her accomplishment.

"Wow," Trunks commented in astonishment. "Just remember to keep those hands away from me!" he laughed.

Rahara giggled. "I'll try, but that's gonna be a bit of a challenge." Trunks blushed slightly as Rahara turned away from him. "Taharka!" she shouted and flew over to her comrade.

Trunks looked up to see a lean man, his height, with dark violet hair and eyes approaching him. The stranger stopped two meters away from Trunks while Rahara floated at his side. "I am Taharka, captain of the fourth division. It is a pleasure to meet you." Trunks was amazed at how eloquently he spoke in contrast to the strange black and white outfit he wore.

"Likewise," Trunks replied.

"I suppose I'd better welcome you as well," the black-haired man landed on his feet and approached the gathering. "I'm Change Li-Nei, but you'll soon find out that my nickname among this group is Xana."

Before Trunks could respond Rahara broke in. "He's a desendant of /the /Xana, the guy who helped found the GaReXa Republic. When was it..." she paused in thought. "Sixteen thousand years ago?"

Li-Nei laughed. "Yes Rahara, I'm glad to see that you can still count." He looked to Trunks once more. "I'm captain of the second division, if you hadn't already deduced," he finished with a smirk.

"I take it there are only four divisions?" Trunks queried.

"Each battalion has four divisions, yes," Taharka answered him promptly. "There are fifty Mobile Infantry battalions overall, but our battalion, the First, is the first on the front lines." As if he somehow sensed Trunks's confusion, Taharka continued. "Mobile Infantry is simply Ceva's term for heavily armored tanks and other armored vehicles that serve as the first wave of offense in a ground battle."

"Okay," Trunks nodded. So if this sector is made up of armored tanks then why am /I /here? he wondered.

"Each of us has unique and powerful abilities that make us capable to lead our infantry units into battle," Taharka elaborated. "Xana is an energy warrior like yourself. Rahara's ability to manipulate fire is frighteningly powerful," he paused, "and I have a strength with telekinesis."

"He's a psychic," Rahara giggled. "Don't let him fool you; he's the most powerful psychic in the universe!" she exclaimed with a grin.

"Rahara," Taharka spoke as if scolding a child, "no one is certain of that statement's validity."

"Well," she floated over towards Trunks while still talking to Taharka, "have you ever met anyone more powerful than you?"

Taharka sighed. "You know that is not the point, Rahara."

"Really?" she giggled again, floating around Trunks.

"Basically," Li-Nei spoke up, looking to Trunks, "we're the 'big guns' of each division. We lead the charge in and lay waste to what we can and our battalion backs us up."

"I think I can handle that," Trunks replied.

"Okay, so," Lieutenant Abel cut in, moving around Trunks so the demi-Saiyan would look at him, "you need to meet the soldiers in our outfit, so follow me please. Sir!" Abel hastily tacked on and saluted. Trunks nodded and the pair moved on their way while the other three captains watched them leave.

"He's really cute," Rahara laughed again, playing with a small bit of fire in her right hand.

"Do not get your hopes up," Taharka said flatly as he watched the new captain and his lieutenant walk away.

"Oh you're no fun," Rahara whined, tossing the flames from her right hand to her left.

"Well," Li-Nei spoke up, "it's your turn to babysit Rahara," he said, glancing to the psychic. "I need some time to meditate," he added, walking away from the pair in the opposite direction Trunks had gone.

Taharka gave Rahara a knowing gaze to which she replied "What? I didn't do anything!"



***



Laiserta slammed into the door, causing it to fling open wildly and smack against the wall beside it. The seven occupants of the room snapped around to look at her and dropped whatever conversations they were having prior to her entry. Nice... Laiserta smirked to herself.

"Welcome to Cevan Special Forces Unit Zero-Six," Laiserta said boldly as she strode in, pushing the yellow sunglasses up farther on her face. "I'm your commander, Laiserta," she continued moving in the room until she stopped next to a man who looked Taydran to her. He sat on top of a munitions crate with a six inch knife that he spun in his right hand.

"Wait," a brown-haired female spoke, "you're Xyros Kikulade?"

Laiserta laughed but kept her smirk. "I'm impressed. And yes, I am."

"Whoa," a blonde-haired man in the corner was astonished, "our captain is Death's Shadow?" He laughed, "This fucking rocks!"

"That's not a name I picked for myself," Laiserta shrugged, "it was sort of just given to me. So it's not really one I prefer to be referred to as."

"Death's Shadow," the black-haired man with the knife nodded to himself. "The assassin who kills what Death himself left behind."

"While I'm flattered that you all know so much about me," Laiserta broke in, "we're not here to chit-chat about my exploits.

"We are dark ops. We are as stealthy and as deadly as any unit can possibly get," she moved around the room as she spoke. "Kidnappings and assassinations are the foundations of our outfit. You will never be seen and you will never be heard. You will leave nothing behind, not even a hair, and investigators will never know that anyone was even there. The disappearance or death of our marks will leave even the top investigators grasping at nothing for even the slightest hint as to what happened."

Her red eyes scanned the faces of her seven spies. "Should you be stupid enough to leave any sort of evidence of your presence, or even worse-leave an eyewitness, you will be dropped from this group. And we won't leave you for the authorities; we'll make sure you won't tell them anything."

She stopped moving around the room. "We are stealth, we are shadow, we are invisible, and we are untraceable. We are as far dark ops as anyone could possibly be. We're going deep and dirty behind enemy lines, and I warn you: I know you're the best spies that Ceva has to offer, but if you're not up for any of this-/any/ of this-then leave now." She paused. "Because I don't want to be responsible for letting you get yourself killed."

After a minute of silence with none of the spies moving, Laiserta smirked. "I knew I got good ones."

"So," she continued, "who's the ranking officer here?"

"I am," the black-haired knife-wielder spoke. "The name's Reine."

"Well Lieutenant Reine," Laiserta addressed him, "are you familiar with the other soldiers in our squad?" After receiving a curt nod from him, she continued. "Good. I need you to fill me in on everyone's strengths and weakness so we know who to use where and when."

He laughed. "/Benn'ai, sherjesha/," he said in Taydran with a perfect accent.

"Oh I see we have a native on our hands," Laiserta commented with delight at his simple 'yes, commander.' Laiserta laughed slightly. "Running this group and serving under Ceva might be a little more fun than I initially thought."



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