Categories > Anime/Manga > Dragon Ball Z > Illumination

Mission 08: The Things Girls Will Do

by SilverArmada 0 reviews

The crew is sent to Euphoria, a war-torn and backwards planet in the Shera system to take control of a decrepit bunker supposedly placed on the planet during the Dreyfus War, forty years ago, by Ty...

Category: Dragon Ball Z - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Trunks - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2006-02-11 - Updated: 2006-02-12 - 8652 words

Mission 08: The Things Girls Will Do
The three members composing one crew of VDD sat and stood, huddled together over a small screen in the communications room of the ship.
"I am a representative of the government of Tyron," a young man in his late twenties spoke.
"You mean you're from the military," Laiserta chided cynically.
"I suppose the two are related," the brunette haired man responded.
"Get to the point," Armada said in a calm yet demanding tone.
"On Euphoria, during the Dreyfus War, the forces of Tyron placed a military bunker on the planet in order to watch events in the war, as both sides would not release information to the rest of the system. This bunker is a liability to both Tyron and Euphoria's diplomatic policies, as well as hopes that Euphoria will trust Tyron in the near future. So, we charge you with commandeering the base until our forces are sent in to relieve you," the young man finished robotically.
"Easy enough," Laiserta scoffed. Assuming her remark meant 'yes,' the officer on the other end of the line cut off the transmission. Laiserta blinked at the barren screen for a moment. "Risu, and I thought I had bad manners."
"It's not a necessity to be polite in the military," Trunks commented with a slight laugh. "It's all about discipline."
"So whaddya think captain?" Laiserta looked to the woman standing behind herself and Trunks.
Armada had a slightly puzzled look upon her face. "He...that wasn't right," she said, pausing to think a moment. "He talked too much, and wasn't focused enough to..." she trailed off, contemplating the word she wished to use.
"To what?" Laiserta immediately asked, giving her superior nil time in silence.
"To be a soldier?" Trunks tried to fill in.
"Eh, something to that effect," Armada shrugged. "Just from what I've heard of Tyron, the guy doesn't fit the description-and he wasn't even in uniform."
"What are you trying to say?" Trunks followed with his own suspicions.
"...I don't know. Maybe I'm just too cautious," she paused for a moment. "But don't you guys get a weird feeling about this?"
Now that she pressed the matter, Trunks thought he did notice the officer acted strangely for someone in a highly disciplined army. Well, maybe she's right-
"Oh come ON people!" Laiserta shouted. "Who cares if the guy's a little shady-hell, the whole ordeal's more than a little shady-but to us, it only means one thing: the next paycheck." She stopped long enough for a grin to appear upon her features. She nodded to the other two, trying to rally support.
"Yeah, you're right Lai," Armada spoke up first, "-for once. Let's forget about it and just do our job. I'll go prep the ship for launch," she flung over her shoulder while heading out of the comm. room.
"That was easier than expected," Laiserta said aloud with slightly wide eyes.
"Yeah, but now I'm getting suspicious of the guy," Trunks informed his raven-haired comrade.
"Derkk. What can you do?" Laiserta shrugged back. She then hopped up from her seat, on the console, and headed off elsewhere.
"Well, at least we'll get a change of scenery," Trunks rationalized to no one but himself.
Three days after receiving word of the mission, the crew of the Verdandi found themselves in the orbit of Euphoria, calculating coordinates on where to land.
"No-no-no! We'll have to wait another day to go in at that angle!" Laiserta protested from the pilot's seat.
"Look, we only know a vicinity the size of a hui, so- we don't have much choice here on where to land," Armada scolded back to her employee, standing to the woman's right. "Besides, why the hell would we have to wait another day?"
"'Cause the ship can't take the heat of friction-don't you-"
"Can you read?!" Armada shouted back at Laiserta. "Look here!" she pointed at a monitor with a list of information displayed. "'Atmospheric Type M'; we'll be fine."
"'M'?" Laiserta echoed in puzzlement. "But I thought that was a 'W'?" she inquired, pointing to the character in question.
"It'd be nice if you'd brush up on your Ferian," the captain shot back with disdain. Laiserta's face turned slightly red in embarrassment. "Moving on," Armada continued a bit calmer, "since there are no distinguished cities left on Euphoria, we have no maps or landmarks to go by, so we'll just have to land in this area and ask the locals for any leads," she finished, pointing to a fairly large area of the planet.
"Won't that take a while?" Trunks asked from the other side of Laiserta.
"Yeah, but what choice do we have? I don't have the kind of tracking equipment to find this place from space, and besides, if it's a military bunker that was hidden, I'm sure it wouldn't show up even if we could detect it," Armada explained.
"A valid point," Trunks conceded.
"Okay, here we go!" Laiserta announced as the ship tilted and began its descent towards the lush green planet below.
"Kind of...barren," Trunks said aloud to Laiserta, whom stood beside him. On the ground, the two could see high rising forests in the distance all around them, but the area in which they currently stood had a small tree here and there between the giant patches of grass scrawled across the ground.
"What'd you expect?" Laiserta laughed in her question. "After all, Stapel and Euphoria annihilated one another during the war forty years ago," Laiserta stated factually while looking at the surroundings.
"How do we even know which direction we should start looking in?" he asked his comrade while surveying the area.
"I'll try and look around," Laiserta answered back, lifting up her canary-tinted shades so that they actually covered her eyes. She took off at a slow pace, heading out from the area of the ship.
Trunks turned around to see how Armada was doing with the ship. She knelt on the top of the hull, checking one of the exit hatches that led to the engine room. After pulling at the latch one last time, she jumped down from the ship to the ground, near Trunks. "What's she doing?" Armada asked while approaching the demi-Saiyan.
"Lai said she's going to look around a bit, see if she 'sees' anything," he responded sardonically.
"Hey," Laiserta called out, still facing the direction in which she was walking, only now she stood still. "I'm seeing more heat up ahead."
"And?" Armada questioned annoyed.
"More heat equals more organisms that generate heat, namely people," Laiserta replied with a little attitude.
"Let's go," Trunks commanded and the trio was off.
In no time at all, the group had managed to hike through a small area of forest to find themselves standing at the outskirts of a village. The buildings were primitive-at least, compared to 'modern' Alliance technology-and the entire gathering of people would produce a population of no more than three hundred.
"Not very impressive," Laiserta commented darkly.
"You said it yourself, Lai-they've been war-torn. Besides, I've seen worse," Trunks replied to his comrade's remark.
"Not important," Armada interjected. "Split up. We'll each take a section of town and meet back here after you've found something or if you've exhausted all leads." Her tone was that of experienced leader.
The three exchanged nods before heading off into separate directions. Trunks took the left side of the village, Armada the middle and Laiserta the right. Trunks soon learned, by speaking to the locals that some didn't even understand him. Others had no idea what he was talking about, and some even ignored him. Exasperated, he spoke to another woman walking through the dirt 'streets' of the village.
"Have you seen a bunker? Owned by Tyron?" he asked slowly and with more-than-normal hand gesturing. Trunks looked at the woman disheartened, expecting no reply as usual. She blinked at him a few times, then turned and went about her business. As she walked away, she called out something Trunks didn't-and wouldn't-understand to other villagers nearby and all laughed at the foreigner. Trunks sighed. It was one thing to accomplish nothing, but to be ridiculed in another language while doing so added undue stress to the mission. He turned to face the original direction in which he was headed, not really hoping to find more locals. Unfortunately, one young boy stood staring at him. Trunks raised an eyebrow at the kid, and for the sake of completeness, spoke to him.
"A bunker...? Tyron? Ring any bells?" he tried to communicate to the child, assuming he'd get a blank look and insult as before.
" speak Lilvan?" the young tawny boy asked.
"You understand me?!" Trunks questioned in excitement, glad to find someone who spoke the language-whatever it was called-decently.
"Yes. What did you say you are looking for?" the boy asked slowly.
At this point, Trunks bent down a bit to be at eye level with the youngster. "A large building. Some people from a placed called Tyron own it," he explained. "Have you heard anything about it?"
"Liku-yama!" the boy said excitedly. He jumped up and down slightly.
"Leek-oo what?" Trunks tried to repeat, raising an eyebrow in the process.
"Liku-yama!" he repeated. "The black fortress!"
Part assumption, part intuition told Trunks that this kid knew what he sought after. "Where is it?"
"Far from here," the boy said, his smile still on his face. "Follow the wind to another village and find Marice. Marice knows where it is," the boy said, pointing in the direction Trunks estimated was north.
He stood upright and looked at the horizon. There appeared to be another forest. "Are you sure that leads to another village?" he asked the child while staring ahead. After a moment of no response, Trunks looked down again to notice the boy had run off another direction. He mentally shrugged. At least now he had something worth checking out.
Armada stood with Laiserta seated on the dirt ground at her feet. Trunks walked towards the two from their left-the side of town to which he was assigned. "So what do we know?" he asked his comrades on approach.
Laiserta stood while Armada spoke. "We need to head north. That's all I heard." She kept her arms crossed and spoke with a typical deadpan tone.
"That's not what I heard," Laiserta interjected while dusting off her trench coat. She waited for the other two to ask her what exactly she heard, and when the question didn't come she automatically continued. "Some guy in the next village can take us there. Name's Celta."
"Close, but not quite," Trunks jeered at Laiserta. "There's a village north of this one where someone named Marice lives. This 'Marice' knows the way to the bunker, and is probably the only one who knows how to get there."
"No, a man that spoke Jukun told me," Laiserta reiterated, pointing to the group's right towards the town.
"Well a local boy told me, and he seemed to know what he was talking about," Trunks repeated, fairly sure that his source was more reliable than Laiserta's.
"Look," Armada jumped in the middle of the conversation, unfolding her arms from across her chest. "We all were told to head north, right? So let's go there first and see what we find next."
Laiserta grumbled something in Taydran before following orders. Trunks shrugged and followed suit, and the crew's leader headed up the rear.
The next hike took longer than the first, and the question arose from Laiserta as why not to fly. Trunks quickly countered that flying would giveaway that they aren't from Tyron, and might even scare the locals. Armada nodded in agreement. Laiserta, once again singled out, quieted for the rest of the trek-which lasted close to three hours.
"Hey..." Laiserta said while staring ahead.
"Hm?" Armada looked at her pilot with concern. At that moment, Laiserta sprinted forward into the unknown. The other two members of VDD exchanged glances before sprinting after her.
After pushing through a thick brush, Trunks and Armada found themselves standing behind a completely still Laiserta while looking on to another village they stood at the foot of-a village that looked very similar to the one they had encountered earlier, yet was immensely different. Most of the streets were made of smoothed over rocks with grass growing between the cracks, and some of the dwellings looked more up to date. That, and this village was at least twice the size of the previous.
After gawking for a few minutes, Armada broke the silence between the three with new orders. "Since we're looking for one person, we'll stay together and ask around. With a larger village and a name, I'm sure we'll find this Marice-or Celta-soon enough."
The other two-thirds of VDD agreed, and the trio was on its way. They worked their way long, questioning most passers-by. If Armada or Trunks couldn't communicate, Laiserta would try Taydran and Jukun. Unfortunately, those two languages were even more scoffed at than that which was used most often by the crew. After a while, they tried simply saying "Marice" or "Celta" and looked for responses. And just when the gang thought they were out of luck, an older man pointed north at the sound of "Marice."
"What are they gonna do," Laiserta snapped as the old man hobbled away, "tell us to go north to the next village again?"
"Come on Lai, stop being so negative," Trunks spoke with a rather annoyed tone. "We're bound to find something...eventually."
"You mean in thirty moons," she spat back with biting sarcasm.
Meanwhile, Armada tried another villager. "Marice?" she asked in one word. Surprisingly-well, not really-the old woman had no idea what she was asking. Armada sighed as the woman slowly backed away with an odd expression upon her face.
The group shot around to see a young, brunette haired teenage girl waving in their direction. "You lookin' for Marice?"
The three blinked at the girl in shock as she spoke near-perfect Ferian. It was as if they'd found the proverbial needle in a haystack.
The teenager approached, carrying a bundle across her back. "You said 'Marice' right? I assumed you were looking for someone," she told the trio.
"Well, yeah, we are," Trunks was the first to speak up. "Do you know where we can find him?"
"Sure," the girl responded, turning her head to face north. Her dark brown ponytails on each side of her head flapped out in the slight breeze. "Head north," she told the group while pointing that direction. "She usually trains out in the plains north of town this time of day."
Before any of the crew could say a meager 'thanks,' the brunette was already off. The three exchanged glances and headed for the northern border of town.
Another swipe. Not fast enough/. A lunge this time, with increased speed. /Accuracy went to hell/. A precise jab this trial, swift and on target. /Lacks power/. A turn slash with the left, a lunge with the right and a spin-around-pin-to-the-throat. /...?!
Marice's eyes shot wide as she saw that she'd pointed her sai in the face of three strangers whom stood behind her only moments before. She took a few deep breaths before fully realizing the gravity of her error and retracting her weapons. She stood upright and slid her two sai into their respective places on the back of her belt. She wiped at some of the sweat beading on her forehead and worked to regain her composure.
"Marice?" the blonde-haired woman in the center spoke. She appeared fairly calm for someone who'd nearly lost her life at Marice's hand.
"Uh, yes; i-it is I," she stuttered out.
The black haired woman stepped forward, cutting off her companion with a wave of her hand. She made some sort of nearly inaudible comment to her friend, and turned to face Marice once more. She took a few steps toward the teenager, and smiled in a fairly friendly-yet shady way. "Marice, we need a favor from you."
"What's that?" the young girl asked the woman.
The dark-haired woman-whom wore an outfit to match her dark demeanor, Marice supposed-raised up the odd spectacles she wore as she spoke. "We need you to lead us to the abandoned bunker left behind by Tyron from the war."
Marice's features instantly grew serious. "I can't do that."
The man and blonde woman looked to one another with surprised expressions, and the black-haired woman raised an eyebrow. "And why not?" she persisted.
"Because I have no idea if you need to know where that bunker is or not." Marice kept the stony expression on her face. The dark woman went to ask another question and Marice cut her off. "You don't look like you're from Tyron-besides, do you think you'd be the first to come after it? I'm just surprised you were able to find me."
"Listen, kid," the dark woman continued, now with a condescending tone, "we've come a long way from Tyron, and you messing with us isn't fun-for us or you. So let's skip the formalities get on with business."
Marice's expression changed a little-into something lighter or something darker, no one was quite sure which. "I concede," she replied softer, but spoke again before the woman could reply-"but you must tell me the password."
"Password?" the woman responded with a quizzical look.
"Yes," Marice elaborated, "when the first officials from Tyron came here, they told me to ask those who came seeking information or the whereabouts of the base for the password. They said that they'd give it to any officers they sent over."
At this point, the dark woman froze. She stood upright and faced her comrades. The man and other woman both shrugged, but the dark woman spun around with a sly smile. "All right kid, I'll tell you what the password is."
Marice's face began to light up with an almost sinister light as the woman told her this. "So?" she questioned in anticipation.
"It's really quite simple," the dark woman gloated. "You see, there never was a password agreement. The test is to weed out those that pretend to be of Tyron, when they aren't. So in reality, there is no password." The raven-haired woman smiled victoriously.
Marice's expression now changed to shock. "So...y-you knew?"
The man and woman standing behind the woman with sunglasses each nearly fell over, as did the woman whom guessed the secret behind the 'password.'
Marice had started on her way, walking away from the three stunned Tyrians. She stopped to face them and regain the attention. "Well?"
The other three turned to face her, and in no time the group was on its way.
"I discovered the base one day while I was hunting in the forest north of the village," Marice spoke while ducking under a stray branch. "No sooner had I run up to the place, I noticed there were people there. They told me not to tell anyone about the bunker who asked-especially foreigners. They said that if they ever found out I did tell anyone," she continued, stepping over a fallen tree this time as she went, "they'd burn down the village."
"So you were threatened into secrecy," Trunks summarized from what the teenager had just told them.
"Well, I've never heard this story from our superiors," Laiserta added, making sure to keep in line with the group's cover story. "Although it's probably because they're embarrassed of making such a mistake."
"Could be," Marice responded, keeping her eyes glued to the trail.
"The base has been here since the Dreyfus War?" Armada asked in confirmation.
"Yes," Marice answered, "however, we were always taught that everything had been destroyed during the war."
"Was it?" Trunks asked, stepping over several roots protruding from of the ground.
"For the most part," the guide replied. "There are few things that still exist, and most that do are useless to us-people who didn't experience the war."
"Is that true for all of your people?" Trunks inquired curiously at her last comment.
"The oldest ones were only children back then," Marice elaborated. "Our lives are shorter in these days of hardship." The group took several more steps before the red-haired guide stopped. "It's up ahead-do you see it?"
The trio behind Marice moved forward to get a better look-and there it was. A huge, black and rusted complex in the middle of a dense forest. Moss, ivy, and other plants grew over many parts, yet it was obvious that such a monstrosity wasn't normal of the times of present-day Euphoria.
"Most of the doors have been sealed shut," Marice awoke the three from staring at the complex. "Come, I'll show you the way in," and with that, Marice took off towards the building.
The group was no more than fifty feet from the building when one of the large hatches on the side began to slowly shake. The four of them stopped. "What...?" Marice questioned in awe. "...but no one's supposed to be here!"
As the rusted hatches shook, so did the ground. "An...earthquake?" Trunks questioned aloud.
"This has never happened before!" Marice shouted over the noise. "I don't understand what's going on!"
"Look!" Laiserta pointed towards the other side of the forest, behind the building. Soldiers came charging into the scene, in violet/charcoal uniforms.
"Them again?" Trunks wondered what these people had to do with both Bmyhad and Euphoria...or were they, VDD, luring them here?
"Come on!" Armada shouted. "We have to get in there and take that base before they do!"
The three mercenaries and one tour guide ran for the building, still confused as to why the ground shook. Once the four had reached the building, the large hatch that was shaking fell open. Marice and Trunks both jumped out of the way, to keep from being squashed by the metal entrance. Out came the soldiers whom were approaching from the other side as well! They charged at the four who stood only meters away. More soldiers came spilling around the two sides of the complex, and all took the offensive. Marice whipped out her sai, Laiserta her staff and one pistol, and both ki-fighters slid into fighting stances. At the charge, the four split up into different directions.
Marice and Laiserta headed to the right, Marice skewering many of the men who came close enough. Laiserta covered her by firing at those who took a distance to shoot the two and batted away others who came closer with her pole-hand. "Hey kid," Laiserta yelled out to the red-head behind herself.
Marice lunged at one man, scathing him across the abdomen and giving him a kick away with her left foot. She turned her head slightly to Laiserta. "What?"
"When I say go, you charge straight at 'em," Laiserta jutted another in the gut with her metal weapon and then shot him in the chest as he fell.
"W-what?" Marice stuttered in puzzlement while she continued battling the soldiers.
"Just do it...GO!" Laiserta yelled. Surprisingly, Marice followed orders and charged straight at a battalion preparing to fire a rather large weapon their direction. Startled and without hand-to-hand weapons, the soldiers scattered in all directions. Marice took out the few she could reach, while Laiserta picked them off from a distance. After removing most they could from the cannon-like structure, Laiserta ran over and joined Marice.
"What now?" the sai-wielder asked.
"We're gonna use it against them," Laiserta said with a wicked grin.
Meanwhile, Armada and Trunks had their hands full taking the left, as both the building and the surrounding forest birthed soldiers left and right. Armada gave one man two punches to the face before batting him away with a hard right kick. She then proceeded to elbow the man behind her in the abdomen before continuing with the hordes facing her.
Trunks easily kicked away two soldiers with one swift left foot, and knocked away another with a right forearm across the chest. With a moment to breathe, he noticed a rather large weapon pointed his direction from near the corner of the complex. Trunks's eyes widened and he turned to see Armada dishing out another roundhouse to yet another victim. He turned to see the men fire the 'cannon,' and whirled back around to see his comrade. "Get down!" he yelled out, taking a run for his commander. Armada spun around to see what he was talking about, only to be tackled to the ground by Trunks. The two covered their heads as an explosion resulted in front of them, decimating a large number of troops.
"The bastards!" Laiserta exclaimed after seeing the other men fire a cannon at her comrades. "Come on Marice, help me aim this thing!"
"Right," Marice nodded, helping the angry Taydran move the cannon to their right.
Trunks finally looked up to see the carnage before himself-much of the forces coming from in the building had been wiped out-by friendly fire, shamefully. He stood and turned to see the cannon preparing to fire. He was just about to tell Armada to run for it when the men around the cannon were shot by another cannon, and all were sent flying as their weapon was destroyed in an explosion. Trunks turned to his right to see where the shot had come from, and saw Laiserta and Marice standing behind a cannon. Laiserta waved at the demi-Saiyan in an almost 'Aren't you glad we saved you?' kind of way.
Victory didn't last long however, as when Trunks turned to see if Armada was alright after the blast, six soldiers had come from Kami-knows-where and had her at gunpoint. These soldiers, however, wore the same colors as the others but their uniforms were different. And the weapons they carried looked far more menacing-and powerful. Before Trunks could respond he felt cold metal pointed against the back of his neck as well. The man commanded something in another language, but Trunks assumed it was don't move, so he froze.
Out of the corner of his eye, he looked to the left to see where Laiserta and Marice were. Both had ducked behind the cannon, but seemed to have it ready to fire. Of course, if they fired, both himself and Armada would be caught in the crossfire. Suddenly, bullets were fired from Lai and Marice's direction-from the dark-haired gunman, obviously. With that, three of the six men holding Armada captive fell to the ground, as did the man behind himself. The three who didn't fall turned to face the fire, and both Armada and Trunks lunged forward, attacking the three left standing.
After taking care of the immediate threat, the four slowly noticed that the rest of the troops had retreated...and they were alone. "We...won?" Laiserta questioned aloud in curiosity. A moment of silence passed, before a slight whizzing sound was heard in the air. As the noise became louder, the ground shook violently and an explosion occurred on the other side of the building from where the four stood. Fire and debris were shot six stories into the air, and the mercenaries closest the building ducked and ran-well, more like flew-in a frenzy to escape the area. Marice and Laiserta looked to one another, and as their comrades passed, the two followed suit and ran for it.
The four had found their way to the plain north of Marice's village, and currently sat around a small campfire as the sun had disappeared from sight and twilight slowly turned to night.
Laiserta lie on the ground on her back, hands behind her head, legs crossed, as she looked to the stars. She practiced her different vision modes while looking to the burning gaseous spheres. Trunks sat Indian-style, talking to Armada, as both looked between the fire and the stars. They mostly discussed battle tactics, and different attacks one could teach the other.
Marice sat back across from the two, leaned on her hands with her legs crossed before her. She was about six inches shorter than Laiserta, and had reddish-orange hair. Her hair was long in the front, where she pushed it to either side of her eyes, and short in the back so she wouldn't have to deal with it as much. She wore a white dress sort of thing, with a black, sleeveless coat over it and a large belt around her waist-mostly for holding her sai, which were there now. Around her neck dangled a necklace with a cross-shaped silver charm, given to her at a young age. On her upper left brachium was the tattoo of her tribe, all in black. However, she was the only one in her village who actually had her tribe's symbol tattooed on her arm. Most people had quit doing it some time during the war.
After some time, well into the night now, the fire began to die and Marice prodded it to keep it going. Laiserta still lie staring into the sky, but Trunks and Armada had stopped talking and watched as Marice tried to keep the fire lit.
"We'll launch another assault tomorrow," the crew's leader spoke up. All turned to face her, even Laiserta-who, consequently, had to rise to a seated position to do so.
"You guys aren't from Tyron," Marice stated quietly, affirming her own suspicions from the beginning while tossing more fodder to the fire.
"Nah. Sorry kid," Laiserta apologized without much sympathy. "But this is our mission, so we sorta had to lie to you."
"...mission?" Marice blinked at Laiserta, and then looked towards the other two. "Where are you from?"
"We're mercenaries," Trunks answered, looking to the teenager. "We're supposed to destroy the bunker."
"Oh..." Marice nodded in understanding.
"But I wonder," Laiserta started, looking to her two comrades, "what about Celta? We found Marice-"
"Actually," Marice spoke up, "my name's not Marice-it's Celta."
Two mercenaries blinked in shock while a third yelled out a 'Hoo-hah! I was right!'
"Well," Marice continued, "Celta isn't exactly my name-my full name is Marie Celta. I sort of combined both names into a nickname after my mother died."
"So you typically go by 'Marice?'" Trunks asked. Marice nodded in agreement. He smirked at Laiserta. "Who's right now, Lai?"
Laiserta shrugged. "Derkk. I can't help it if the old man lied."
"Marice," Armada spoke, looking to the red-head. "Why are you the only one who knows where the bunker is? You said you found it, but why wasn't an adult put in charge of maintaining its secrecy? And why hadn't somebody found it before you?"
Marice's expression darkened a little. "This village...and the others around it...are all allied together. They work under one leader-me."
The other three gazed at the teenager with concerned visages. "But," Trunks began, "you're just a kid."
"No," Marice replied, still with a long face. "I stopped being a child the day my mother died, nine years ago. The people of this village, just like in the others, are cowards. Because of the war, they think the only way to survive is just to depend on others to do for you-which is not the way at all!" Marice raised her voice in anger. "None of them-child and adult alike-want to take any responsibility! They think that somebody's just going to come along and do it all for them! They complain that since that war wasn't their fault, they shouldn't have to fix anything!
"I've lived on my own since I was seven years old, and I got used to doing whatever needed done. The people started to depend on me to do everything for them, and now...I'm their leader." Marice's head sank, and she closed her eyes. "I'm tired of doing for everyone but myself-I'm sick of being a child that has to be the adult in a world full of children."
Marice leaned back and sighed, looking up into the night sky. "I love Euphoria; just as anyone would love their home. But I'm tired of staying here and being a slave to helpless adults who choose not to help themselves."
After Marice had voiced her opinion of Euphorians, the conversation died down, as did the fire. Laiserta and Marice both went to sleep, with Trunks following soon after. Armada prodded at the fire and kept it going all night. After all, she couldn't find anything better to do with her time.
Trunks slowly rose in the morning, back and neck sore from sleeping on the ground. He sat up before opening his eyes to see that the sun had yet to rise. The horizon was lit up, and generally he could see, but the sun was still beyond the forests of Euphoria. Euphoria...the bunker... he thought slowly, coming back to where exactly he was.
Marice was awake. She sat before the smoldering remains of the campfire, stirring the ashes so as to make certain that the fire was completely out. Trunks looked around to see Laiserta still lying on the ground, fast asleep, and Armada out of sight, wherever she was.
Trunks absentmindedly placed a hand on the back of his neck. It hurt like hell from lying on the ground, but Marice had forbade they stay the night in the village-outsiders were never allowed to, under any circumstances. So it was here they camped, in what felt like the middle-of-nowhere. Well, all of Euphoria felt like the middle-of-nowhere compared to a place like Bmyhad.
Out of nowhere, Marice stood and headed off without a word. Trunks raised an eyebrow at the girl's actions but let it go, assuming that she'd just rejoin the group shortly. "She's going to get water."
"Huh?" Trunks inquired, looking over to the only other person present to speak.
Laiserta opened her eyes and looked over to her comrade without turning her head. "Marice. Water. You follow?" she questioned, a bit surprised as to Trunks's confusion.
"Right," he nodded, now understanding why the teenager hadn't bothered to say anything. The next question had just started to formulate in his mind when Laiserta spoke.
"A left sometime in the middle of the night. I have no idea where she went; I didn't bother to follow," Laiserta automatically explained, sensing the next question from the young man to her left.
"You certainly do see a lot for somebody who's supposed to be asleep," Trunks commented sarcastically.
"Eh. I do what I can," Laiserta replied with a shrug. "Besides, don't you find it a little odd that she doesn't sleep?"
"Come on Lai, everybody has to sleep sometime," Trunks countered with a slight humor in his voice, nearly rolling his eyes at the girl's comment.
"Pay closer attention next time. Since I joined up with you guys, I haven't caught her napping once," Laiserta brought up the index finger on her right hand to indicate the number and stress her words.
/Come to think of it.../Trunks thought before being interrupted by his dark comrade once more.
Laiserta sat up then slowly stood, stretching out her sore muscles. She pushed up her sunglasses as the first rays of morning light shone over the horizon. She looked at Trunks one last time before turning on her heels and heading off in the same direction that Marice had gone only minutes earlier.
"Lai," Trunks questioned, curious of his friend's motives.
She turned to face him slightly. "I'm going to find Marice-I'm thirsty too. You coming?" The demi-Saiyan nodded and rose, following behind Laiserta. Laiserta turned her focus forward. "I can follow her trail," and with that, she switched the position of her eyes.
Within minutes the two found themselves standing before a spring in a fairly dense thicket of forestry while Marice took a drink. After pulling her head out from the cold water, the teenager turned around to see the two mercenaries behind her.
"It's fine," she said while moving from blocking the spring, inviting the other two to have a drink. Laiserta went in for the first drink.
Trunks looked to Marice. "So you're familiar with this area?"
"A bit," she replied, looking to the taller man. "I train a lot around here. It's one of the few ways I can get away from the village for a while." She laughed. "It's also a great stress reliever."
"Yeah," Trunks laughed as well. "I did the same thing back home, except that training was more a part of my mission."
Laiserta stood upright and turned around to face her comrades. "It's okay; just a bit bland," she commented, wiping her mouth with her forearm.
"So do you always have to come to this spring for water?" Trunks asked Marice out of curiosity.
"Well, there is another closer to the village...but yes, we must use the springs," she replied. "Some say that back before the war, water would come into your home, but I don't know about it." She shook her head.
Trunks moved to get a drink this time while Marice looked around with an odd countenance on her face. "What is it?" Laiserta asked the young leader.
"Don't you feel it?" she inquired of the dark woman.
"Feel what?" Laiserta raised an eyebrow.
"...nothing," Marice responded, looking elsewhere.
Laiserta mentally scratched her head in confusion as Trunks finished getting a drink and turned to face the two. "Think we should head back?" he asked the others. Marice continued scanning elsewhere with a still strange look upon her face while Laiserta nodded.
Where the hell are they? Armada thought while standing before the remains of the previous night's campfire. She frowned in annoyance. I'm out actually doing something useful and when I get back-
"Hey!" Armada turned to see that Laiserta, Marice, and Trunks were returning from somewhere within the forested area to the northeast. Marice looked around oddly, and Laiserta carried her usual smirk, leaving Trunks as the one to have called out.
"I have a plan," Armada said bluntly after the group had reconvened.
"For what?" Laiserta questioned.
"Taking back the facility," their leader responded. "Most of the forces have cleared out. Considering that they were willing to destroy the base while attacking us and that the complex couldn't house nearly half as many soldiers that'd attacked us, it leads to one conclusion-they weren't planning on taking the facility at all; they were planning on killing us."
Marice gasped and both Laiserta and Trunks's eyes widened. "Are you serious?!" Laiserta exclaimed.
Armada nodded. "My guess is that they think we've abandoned the mission and are heading home by now. So now that the place is practically undefended for a group such as ourselves, now is the time to strike."
"Are you sure about this?" Trunks asked. "I mean, wouldn't it be better if we did just that? Left, that is," he emphasized.
"Why do that?" Laiserta countered, crossing her arms across her chest. "If they think we aren't coming back, then it's the perfect opportunity-to teach them a lesson too," she smirked.
"Marice?" Armada asked, looking to the girl.
"Huh?" she looked to the official leader of VDD. "I don't know. They attacked me too, but I'm not really with you guys..."
"If you want to go back home now, we won't stop you," Armada responded. "We know all we really need to, and you aren't necessary to keep going. It's your choice." The leader crossed her arms, waiting for the girl's reply. Trunks and Laiserta looked to her as well. Marice glanced around for a moment, letting the thought seep in. She felt that if she stayed involved with these people, her destiny might be intertwined with theirs forever. And yet, she had this strange feeling about the trio that wouldn't go away. A foreboding feeling. She finally came to the conclusion to tell the group what a friend had once told her: "Haman ei nuna lolde."

"Lead me and I will follow."

Marice lunged at Armada, sai swinging with might. The mercenary easily dodged and countered with a fierce blow from her left elbow upon the girl's right shoulder, knocking her down to the ground and causing her to drop the sai in her right hand.
"Come on Marice! We've gone over this!" Armada near-shouted rather annoyed at the guide. "Get up; we'll do it again."
Marice sat shaking on the ground. How long was this torture going to continue? At first it had seemed like a decent idea to train with Armada, but now the girl was regretting it. She wanted her to practically forget everything she'd ever learned!
After reasserting her purposes mentally, Marice finally rose, albeit slowly. She picked up her sai and held one in each hand, but stood in a fairly relaxed pose-not ready at all for another strike.
"Your style makes you predictable. If you can't win with your strength alone, you need to throw your opponent off-guard-and you do it by being spontaneous," Armada elaborated, giving the girl another lecture. "You should just pick moves that flow well together and deal a good amount of damage in a short time. Be careful though, because you don't want to be using these same maneuvers over and over again. When that happens, you have another style of fighting on your hands." She slid back again, into one of her many fighting stances. "Let's try this again."
Marice leaned down a bit, tensing her muscles and preparing to fly at her mock-enemy. She twitched a little from fatigue and nervousness, and tightened her hands around her sai. After several seconds that seemed to last hours, Marice charged forward. She swung three times, each time with an alternating hand and at a different angle. Unfortunately, Armada was fast enough to dodge all three. She then threw a high-kick at her, missing before swinging another two times with her sai. Then Marice acted as if she were going to perform a sweep-kick by bending down and jutting out her left leg. Armada crouched slightly to jump the kick, and as Marice came around she pulled her left leg in and jumped straight at Armada, tackling her to the ground. Startled by the maneuver, it took Armada a second to pull herself together and prepare to counter. Before she moved, however, Marice had a sai to her throat. The teenager grinned.
Armada laughed as the girl rose to her feet. "Much better. See? You even caught me off-guard," the commander commented as she rose as well.
"Finally, the elusive 'progress' is mine!" Marice laughed.
"Nice to see you in better spirits. Now let's do it again," Armada ordered, falling back into her fighting stance once again.
Trunks sat with Laiserta several yards away, relaxing in the midday sun. Laiserta seemed to be burning a hole in the ground with her eyes-something Trunks almost thought she could do. "Lai?" he inquired softly, treading lightly wherever he went.
"What?" she asked, looking up to him.
"You're okay, right?" he asked, trying to decipher something in the girl.
"Well, yeah; I was just thinking about those soldiers. They looked so familiar," she responded, her gaze starting to drift again.
"Yeah, don't you remember?" he asked the woman in his midst. Laiserta shook her head. "Those were the same guys we saw at Kabaal."
Laiserta gasped and jumped to her feet. "I forgot! I can't believe it! Damnit!" she cursed angrily, giving the earth beneath her feet a kick for good measure.
"What is it?" Trunks asked, standing so as to speak to the girl at near-eye level.
"I meant to tell you guys that I knew who those soldiers were that showed up at the fort!" Laiserta exclaimed excitedly and with a slight guilt. "But I passed out when we were leaving, and well-you know the rest."
Armada was in the middle of a spar with Marice, and upon hearing what Laiserta had said, she turned her head to face the Taydran-only to be knocked upon the ground by a certain sai-wielding Euphorian.
"You know them?" Trunks asked startled.
"Yes," Laiserta replied in a much more subdued tone. "They wore the colors of Taydr-violet and black, and they wore the uniforms of the high-end personal soldiers of the Emperor himself; meaning that they are the 'nonexistent' branch of the military."
Armada scrambled up after pushing Marice off of herself and ran over to Laiserta. "Are you saying that Taydr was trying to kill us?"
"That's the assumption," Laiserta answered with a concerned look.
"But why?" Trunks asked aloud once the information seemed confirmed.
Laiserta shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine."
"Wait," Trunks started, "at Kabaal we helped them take one of Juu's border forts-for Tere, maybe? I mean, who else would want it?"
"That would make sense," Armada replied, looking to her male comrade. "Tere would want an easy access way between the two countries."
"Why would Taydr help Tere though? The two are practically unrelated," Laiserta interjected.
"I'm guessing Tyron has nothing to do with all this then," Trunks added, remembering who relayed the mission to the group in the first place.
"I doubt we'll figure this all out," Armada told the other two. "In the meantime, as a sign of our appreciation, what do you say we don't just take the bunker-we level it," she smirked.
"Yeah," Laiserta joined in, "we'll give Taydr a message-not to screw with us!" the Taydran laughed.
"Destroying the place will be much easier than taking it back in one piece," Trunks added in.
At this point, the three had agreed upon their new plan, and all finally looked over to Marice. She stood with a worried look on her face, gazing at the trio. "Marice?" Laiserta inquired, taking a step towards the Euphorian.
"You must do what you must do," Marice replied, saddened a bit. "I won't stop you."
"Well," Laiserta changed the subject slightly, "since we have a new plan, I'm sure we still don't have to wait until sunset."
"Bring me those reports, pronto!" an officer barked out to a younger private.
"Yeah, whatever," the young recruit muttered under his breath upon leaving the officer's quarters of the bunker. The place was dirty and worn, and being stationed there indefinitely was not pleasing.
The recruit decided to head outside for a breath of fresh air between all the dirt and noise of his comrades. After winding through several areas, he'd finally made it to a door. It took a bit of muscle to wrestle the old rusted iron door open, but he did it. He walked outside and took a quick glance around the woods. That was when something caught his eye.
Four people. One man, two women, and a...teenage girl possibly. But, what were they doing out here? Were they civilians? How did they know about this place? Just as the recruit was about to address the strangers, he noticed something. The teenager and black-haired woman stood between the other two...whom each had one hand raised and pointed towards the building. An eerie glow began to form in front of the outward pointed hands of the man and woman on the ends. The recruit had a bad feeling about this-especially after the black-haired woman smirked and waved.
The troop hadn't had the time to scream before the base was lit up by the power of energy blasts, rendering the building to nothing within seconds. Satisfied with their work, the four strangers watched the complex burn for only a short while before turning and leaving. They left nothing but their footprints in the dirt, not planning on a return to Euphoria. Little did they know what the simple destruction of a decrepit military facility would lead them into.
The day after destroying the object of their mission and failing yet again, the trio stood before the /Verdandi/, collecting their thoughts as well as possessions before leaving Euphoria indefinitely.
"Are we heading out soon?" Trunks glanced over to Armada.
"Shortly, hopefully," she answered while adjusting the left-forearm guard of her armor. "As soon as Lai gets here."
As if on cue, Laiserta began her approach towards the ship after appearing from the woods north of the Verdandi's landing site. The other two mercenaries looked up to their comrade-who was walking with Marice. In only a few minutes, Laiserta had arrived, ready to leave, with Marice to see the trio off.
"Had to get some souvenirs," Laiserta smiled mischievously.
"Normally I'd ask what souvenirs, but in your case Lai, I'll just let it go," Armada said waving it off with a flick of her hand. Laiserta grinned victoriously, and moved past Armada to board the ship.
Trunks looked over to Marice, who up to this point, had said nothing nor looked at anyone. "Hey Marice," he started, taking a few steps towards the teenager. Laiserta and Armada both stopped and turned their attention to the two.
Marice looked up to Trunks, as he was a good bit taller than her, with a sad yet anxious face. She opened her mouth to speak, but her voice was lost once she looked at him.
"You okay kid?" Laiserta questioned, leaning over a bit to see her around Trunks.
Marice glanced to Laiserta, then Trunks, then Armada. She opened her mouth to speak once again, but lost the words. She looked at the silvery hull of the Verdandi for a moment, and somehow found the strength to speak. She took a deep breath and gazed straight into the eyes of the young man before her. "I'm coming with you."
Once the gravity of her words sunk in to the crew, each nearly face-vaulted. "Are you serious?!" Trunks asked in surprise. He figured that Marice had only wanted to say goodbye when she showed up with Laiserta, but this? What should he say? What should any of them say?
"You have to let me come with you!" Marice pleaded. "Please understand; there's nothing left here for me! I-I just need to come with you!" The red-head held her hands together in hope as her face revealed just how worried she was of what they would say.
"Marice," Armada's sharp voice commanded as she approached, standing beside Trunks and commandeering the majority of the girl's attention. "You need to understand; we're all adults here, and you're just sixteen-years-old." Marice's hope slowly faded. "But," Armada continued, "you've shown me that you're not just a kid. If you come with us, you've got to leave your childhood behind-right here and now. The rest of us are adults, and you'll have to be one too. If you can't do that, then don't bother wasting our time or yours. Understood?"
Marice nodded nervously. "Y-yes."
"So what'll it be then?" Armada crossed her arms across her chest while speaking to the girl.
It had taken Marice less than a second to undoubtedly decide. "I'm going with you. I can do it. As I've said before, I've been more of an adult than anyone else I know-I won't let you down."
"So it's settled then," Armada replied with what seemed like the tiniest of smiles, though no one was quite sure. "If there's anything you need to go get, do it now. We'll be waiting for you." With that, the leader of the crew turned and headed for her ship.
"O-okay! I'll hurry!" Marice called out. She immediately turned and fled as if she were running for her life-and in a strange sense, she was.
Trunks smiled to himself as the young girl ran off. /Yet another addition to the crew/. He turned to see Laiserta smiling as well while she boarded the ship. She laughed and pushed her sunglasses up to the correct position and disappeared within the ship.
For Trunks, life seemed to get a little bit more interesting with each passing day.
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