Categories > Anime/Manga > Dragon Ball Z > Illumination

Interlude: Refugees or Mercenaries? (Part II)

by SilverArmada 0 reviews

Over eight weeks later, life on Stapel for VDD comes to a close as the group prepares to leave. Daily life in Stapel continues normally... ...or does it?

Category: Dragon Ball Z - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Trunks - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2006-02-11 - Updated: 2006-02-12 - 5743 words

Interlude: Refugees or Mercenaries? (Part II)
I can't find the words to say to the angels
That took you from me
But three words, three words
My oxygen's gone.
--Die Trying, "Oxygen's Gone"
A full, bright sun was in the sky, shining down on the city below and through tall windows into the huge, spacious room in which Ryan Rieve sat, twiddling a writing utensil in his right hand. He sat at a very ornate desk, with many official looking papers set across the top in a fairly organized fashion. Ryan leaned back in the very comfortable chair in which he resided, his legs crossed and propped up on the desk before him. He stared out the luxurious windows in the luxurious office, watching the clouds drift by over the highest buildings in the city which could be seen towards the bottom of the windows--after all, the palace was the highest structure in the city. It wasn't very often that he was able to actually visit Hamad like this, in Taydr, /in person/. Hamad's work kept him far too busy, since he was really the one who ran Taydr, not the Emperor; and his own work, kept him relatively busy as well. He'd only been able to make it to Hrimth (reemk) because he'd had the trip scheduled for a while--and he'd recently been chasing his prey through space not too far from Taydr, which made it easier to 'drop by.' Now if Hamad would just bother to show up sometime soon...
Ryan's attention was brought to the door on the far side of Hamad Gen's office as it opened, and the crown prince himself walked through it. "You are here already? I was not expecting you for another day or so," Hamad spoke after closing the door behind himself. He walked over towards his desk, currently occupied by the most dangerous and ruthless man this side of the Republic, Ryan Rieve.
"I was in the area," Ryan responded coolly, removing his feet from the top of Hamad's desk and sitting up fully in the prince's chair.
"In the area?" Hamad blinked. "Doing what?"
"Chasing a thorn in our side," Ryan's eyes narrowed as he spoke.
"The mercenary?" Hamad half-questioned, already knowing of whom Ryan spoke but only asking for confirmation.
"Mercenar/ies/," Ryan corrected him.
"More of them?" Hamad inquired in surprise. "I thought it was only the one who had destroyed the factory?"
"It was. Apparently, she's recruited several more of them since then," Ryan responded with annoyance written across his face.
"Well, it has been several months since then," Hamad surmised in his normal, logical manner.
"They got away," Ryan continued, obviously not pleased.
"That's a shame," Hamad responded sympathetically. "Do you know where they were headed?"
"They blasted out of there pretty fast," Ryan continued, "but our scanners read that they landed somewhere on Stapel."
"Stapel?! What in the world were they doing near that backwater planet in the first place?!" Hamad questioned in disbelief.
"I have no idea, but my guess is that they won't be leaving anytime soon. Even if they can fix that ship of theirs, it's going to take a while without any technology to do it with," Ryan responded with a smirk. "I was planning on taking the fleet back out there to look for them and finish them off, but other matters seem to be taking my attention right now."
"The disruptors," Hamad supplied, and Ryan nodded. "I know. Do not worry, I have found a way to make them last longer. It will mean that we must be more precise in our attacks on Ceva, Bmyhad and Tyron, but it will work." Hamad sighed. "If only we had more..."
"Don't worry about that," Ryan stood, keeping his serious visage. "I'll make sure the mercenary dies so we'll have our retribution."
"That still does not make up for the fact that we are several thousand units short of our desired number," Hamad replied. "Everything has been put into motion a bit early because of all of this, so hopefully things will still turn out as we have planned."
Rieve moved around the desk and to Hamad's left side, placing his left hand on Hamad's shoulder as he spoke. "We'll deal with it. We have the resources." Ryan paused and turned so as to look Hamad in the eyes. He smiled...or was it a smirk? "Too bad we don't have much time together. I really hate to see you in those ceremonial clothes."
Hamad looked at Ryan, then diverted his gaze away. "I know."
"Hmph." Ryan still kept his cocky smirk as he walked away from Hamad towards the door. "They really don't suit you."
Hamad turned and watched as Ryan started to open the door to leave. "This coming from a crime lord who wears a suit?"
Ryan looked at Hamad once more. "I must keep up appearances, especially in your company," Ryan smirked once more before leaving.
Long after Ryan was gone, Hamad sighed, turning towards the official documents and messages scattered atop his desk. "I hope this all ends soon, Ryan," Hamad spoke aloud to himself, "for I am getting a very eerie feeling about all of this."
Trunks bolted upright in his bed. He'd had another nightmare...if one could call it that. It really wasn't a nightmare, just bad memories. Gohan//... Trunks took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to calm his newly-shot nerves. He hadn't had 'the dream' for a while now, and for it to just come up out of nowhere on him...well, that was what it always did.
Trunks opened his eyes and glanced around his room. To think that they'd been on Stapel for over eight weeks now--it was crazy. And yet...the time seemed to fly by. Especially since Armada had finally told them last week that the ship was almost ready to go. Laiserta had jumped for joy, latching onto a very confused Armada; Naya breathed a sigh of relief; Marice half-heartedly smiled; and he had said a thanks to Kami that they'd actually be leaving. For some time, Trunks started to think that they'd never leave Stapel. Thank Kami he was wrong.
Trunks turned to the window, from which he could tell that the sun had been up for a little under an hour. He decided to get up, it not being a bad time and he not exactly jumping at the thought of going back to sleep.
Trunks yawned in the doorway of his room after opening the door. Nope, he wasn't quite awake yet. Once he opened his eyes, he saw Janus exiting his room just down the hall. Figuring that the two could both head downstairs for breakfast, Trunks walked over to where Janus was standing to say 'hey' or something along those lines.
Once within speaking distance, Trunks opened his mouth to talk but was cut off as Marice walked out of Janus's room. Trunks stopped approaching the two, standing about five feet away, when the two teenagers noticed him. Both turned away and blushed furiously, and Trunks blinked in wonderment. What was Marice... Trunks's eyes shot open wide as the realization hit, and he started to feel his cheeks getting a bit warmer. "Ahh...yeah," he stammered out before turning and walking away in an attempt to not let his mind get the best of him.
Laiserta smirked as she saw Trunks sit down at the small table in the kitchen of Janus's home. "Why so red in the face Trunks?" she chided as she dropped from her seated position on the counter and stood. Trunks, in response, only stared harder at the wood grain of the table, nearly boring a hole in it with his eyes as he tried to ignore his comrade's hazing. Laiserta walked over to where he sat and bent down so her face was level with his. "C'mon, you can tell me," she continued with her teasing tone.
Naya, who stood leaning against the counter facing across from where Trunks sat, only watched wide-eyed as the situation unfolded. She swallowed whatever it was she was chewing before replying. "Lai, leave him alone."
"But Naya...!" Laiserta whined while standing upright and giving her comrade a pleading look.
Naya shook her head condescendingly at Laiserta. "If it mattered, he'd tell us. So drop it."
/ Thank Kami for Naya/, Trunks thought with a sigh of relief. He didn't want to think about what it was that was making him turn red so. If he thought about it...well, he didn't even want to think about /that/.
"Nice to see you're all finally up," Armada announced her arrival in the kitchen as she stopped in the doorway.
"Hey, I don't do the get-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn thing," Laiserta responded cynically, still in her tease-everyone-I-can-for-whatever-reason-I-can mode.
"Sorry, I forgot; you're a vampire," Armada rolled her eyes at Laiserta in tune with her sarcastic comment. "Besides, I'm not here to bother /you/."
Naya turned her attention to Armada. "What is it you need then?"
"I need someone to go with me to the marketplace and grab the last few things I need for the /Verdandi/," Armada answered in a casual tone to match the casual clothing she was wearing.
"I'll go," Trunks volunteered, wanting any excuse to get away from Laiserta's prying eyes, and hoping that he'd be out of the sight of Marice and Janus for a while--at least until he could 'forget' about the morning's event.
"All right, I'll be waiting outside," Armada turned to leave, but stopped halfway and looked back towards Trunks once again, a curious visage on her face. "Are you feeling okay? Your face is kind of red."
Marice stood hunched over the sink in the bathroom of her own room, washing her face. She stopped and let the water drip off of her face, still as redder than her hair. Dear Hamanashde/, she thought, /the look on his face! I can't believe Trunks saw us like that! Marice filled her hands with water once again and scrubbed at her face more, this time in more of an attempt to remove the blood from her currently crimson cheeks. To try and take her mind off of the matter at hand, she thought of the conversation she had with Janus just before leaving his room.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Marice lie on her back, staring at the ceiling. She still couldn't shake the words from her mind...'We should be ready to leave in a week or so/.' They were words she definitely didn't want to hear. Marice rolled over to her right side. Janus was still asleep. Well, she was just going to have to wake him up then. She reached her left hand out and shook his left shoulder slightly./
"Hmm...huh?" Janus blinked, turning towards the source of the motion impacting his slumber. "...Marice?" he questioned, wanting to know why in the hell she was waking him up before the sun had even risen.
"I want you to come with us," she said bluntly, not bothering to soften up the blow any.
"Wh-what?! Go where?" Janus blinked half-asleep, confused as to what she was alluding to.
"When we leave...I want you to come with/ us, on the Verdandi, away," she finished, not wanting to say 'Stapel' and make it seem like that much bigger of a leap. /
"...become a mercenary?" Janus questioned with half-open eyes and the most serious look he could muster for the time being.
"Please..." Marice pleaded, not wanting to tell him that there was no way she was abandoning her new 'family' of sorts just to stay on a mirror image of the place she'd left behind.
Janus sighed. He knew she wasn't going to say. He knew that even before they became...close. He'd just hoped deep down that she would. But this definitely proved it. She wasn't going to stay, so that left the decision of their future together in his hands. Something the seventeen-year-old wasn't exactly tickled about. "I'll think about it," he finally told her, rolling over onto his stomach away from her, so as not to see her face. She should know that he couldn't make a split decision about that, but...he understood what she was thinking. And he knew that he was being the selfish one. Well, at least he'd been honest--he would think about it, because he had been thinking about it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Marice!" Marice snapped out of her daydream once she heard Laiserta call her name out from, it sounded, the bottom of the staircase. She turned off the faucet in her bathroom and made a dash for the door to her room, snatching her overcoat on the way out.
"Coming!" she called back while putting her overcoat on while heading down the hallway at a jogging pace. As she rounded the first corner in the path to the staircase leading downstairs, she tripped over her own feet and fell. Ouch... she thought for a moment before rising again and continuing on her way to meet up with Laiserta and Naya. She wasn't going to miss out on some of the last shopping they'd get to do before the village's festival began. It was a big deal, too--it only happened once every eight years, to coincide with the patterns of Stapel's two moons.
"Hurry it up already!" she heard Laiserta shout out once more.
"Wait up!"
"So what's next on the list?" Trunks asked Armada as the two weaved in and out of one busy marketplace for such a small village.
"Well," Armada thought for a moment, "I need some metal ware to melt down and patch up the last few weak spots in the hull," she replied while looking over and around people in the crowd. "Now we just need to find wherever the hell the guy went," she continued, still not bothering to look at Trunks as she spoke.
"What do you mean, you can't find him?" Trunks questioned. He'd figured that she knew where they were going.
"He was there yesterday," Armada responded by pointing out to their right a ways, "but he's not there today." After pushing as nice as she could--which still wasn't very polite--through a group of people, Armada started heading in another direction. "This way."
Trunks nodded to himself and followed, the two finally making it out of the 'street' and to the sides where the vendors were. Armada walked along fairly slowly, scanning left and right to make sure she didn't miss whomever the vendor was that she was looking for, and Trunks merely glanced around. It was interesting to him to see how life could be so similar and yet so different all over the universe--it wasn't something he didn't /know/, it was just something he hadn't really observed first-hand.
"...yakkatta-ne!" an older woman shouted from one of the vendors to Trunks's right. Slightly startled, he turned to see what the woman was yelling at, and she reached forward, latching an arm onto his jacket.
"H-huh?! Hey!" he started, obviously very startled that some stranger he didn't understand was grabbing at him so.
"Hm?" Armada stopped and turned around to see what the fuss was about. She cleared the several-step distance between the two in moments and stopped to stare in curiosity at what exactly was happening.
The elderly woman was about to shout something again, but paused before doing so. Then, in broken Ferian, she spoke. "I...something to you," she said, pulling on Trunks's arm to emphasize who 'you' was.
"Hey! What are you doing?!" Trunks tried to pry his arm away, but feared hurting the woman once he realized the vice-grip she had on his jacket.
"I think she wants to sell you something," Armada added with still fairly wide eyes.
"Is this how they sell things in Stapel? They hold onto you until you pay for something?!" Trunks asked in exasperation.
"How should I know?" Armada replied, still appearing a bit startled at the whole situation.
"Well, tell her to let go!" Trunks demanded, frustrated by the apparent language barrier.
"I don't speak...whatever it is she's speaking," Armada added.
"It was worth a shot," Trunks sighed.
At that moment, another, younger woman came into the small hut-like complex, carrying some sort of white and gold cloth. She said something to the older woman--who still held steadfast onto Trunks--and reached out, showing the pair in front of their vendor just what the older woman had wanted to sell Trunks. Apparently, while the two had conversed, the older woman had called for the younger woman to bring the item out.
Trunks blinked at the item, and Armada reached forward, taking the first piece in her hands and holding it up. The cloth unfolded, revealing a while and gold silk-like shirt that fastened with strange loops. "What's...that?" Trunks questioned while looking at the item his comrade held up.
"Looks like something formal," Armada responded while refolding the shirt to see that the second piece of cloth was a matching set of pants. "Seems it's about your size," Armada joked at Trunks. "Probably why she was so adamant about getting your attention," she laughed while motioning towards his captive right arm.
"Formal? Why would I need something formal?" Trunks asked with a raised eyebrow.
Armada shrugged. "I don't know. But you never know when it might come in handy. If I were you, I'd buy it," she finished, handing both pieces of clothing back to the young woman who'd originally brandished them. "Besides, look around. How many people on Stapel are your size?"
Trunks then glanced around, and sure enough, everyone was shorter than he and all with smaller frames. He turned back to Armada who gave him a 'See what I mean?' look in return.
"Ah, okay," Trunks started turning towards the elderly woman who now had a really creepy grin on her face. Trunks laughed nervously. "Uh, how much?"
"Explain to me why I'm doing this again?" Laiserta asked aloud drearily to her two comrades as they walked back towards Janus's place.
"Because the Stapelians want us to wear some of their clothing at the ceremony," Marice replied, "and it's not going to kill you."
"Well I'll wear the tunic over my regular gear, okay?" Laiserta replied with an annoyed look on her face.
"Oh come on Lai!" Marice stopped walking. "Why do you have to be so difficult?!"
"Marice," Naya started but was cut off by Laiserta.
"Look kid, I just...I just can't, okay!" Laiserta replied, now with anger seeping its way into her voice.
Naya glanced between the two worriedly. She knew why Laiserta wasn't saying anything that made sense, and she knew why Marice was so determined to get the entire group to participate. Thinking quickly, she called out to a young man in the vicinity. "Janus!"
"Huh?" Marice and Laiserta exclaimed in unison while turning to see that indeed the seventeen-year-old was headed their direction.
"What's up everyone?" Janus asked with a casual smile.
"We just got back from shopping!" Marice exclaimed happily. Surprised at her sudden change in attitude, Laiserta turned to Naya to comment upon what she'd noticed but Naya shook her head, motioning for her to keep quiet.
"All geared up for the festival I suppose?" Janus asked jokingly, knowing full well how excited Marice was about the event.
"Of course! We wouldn't want to miss out on having fun," she replied, still beaming.
At that moment, two villagers rushed by the group, followed by a third that stopped upon seeing Janus. "There's been a murder at the marketplace!" the young man exclaimed. Worriedly, the four exchanged concerned visages before sprinting off with the youth who'd informed them of the incident.
It didn't take long to make it to the marketplace, and figure out where the murder had occurred considering the large crowd gathering at the southern end of the street. Janus ran up to the crowd and started pushing his way through to the center, though several people moved out of the way upon seeing who was forcing his way to the center.
"No..." Janus froze in terror as he recognized the two people crouched over the body, which he also recognized.
Trunks saw Janus pale at the sight of Nexus's lifeless body on the ground and cringed, closing his eyes. He couldn't look at a face like that resembled a face from his own memories.
"You said you needed to talk to me?"
Janus nodded. "I...wanted to ask you something." Armada stood calmly awaiting whatever it was that Janus needed to talk to her about so pertinently. He hadn't said a word to her in two days, considering the last time he really saw her was when she was crouched over Nexus's body alongside Trunks, the two that had discovered his friend's death.
Janus wasted no time in bringing the subject at hand to the surface. He'd become increasingly direct over the past two months, and he knew exactly why. He'd realized how precious time was, and how little of it everyone has. Well, Marice had really made him realize that.
Armada nodded once Janus finished saying what he'd come to say, and thought for a moment. It was obvious that there was something going on between him and Marice--whatever it was, she didn't know. Oh no, she wasn't so naive as to think that they were just really good friends. But she was naive enough to not give it enough thought to think it could really be something serious.
"It's your decision Janus," Armada replied, "but whatever you okay."
Janus opened his mouth to respond but was cut off with a familiar voice approaching.
"Hey! You don't want to be late, do you?"
"Marice," Janus turned around and smiled as the orange-haired youth approached. She was wearing a pleasant Stapelian dress, lavender in color, that seemed to accent her personality nicely--considering she usually wore her battle gear of white, black, and navy.
"Armada?" Marice blinked in noticing that her commander had been the one that Janus was talking to.
"Like you said, we don't want to be late," Armada replied with a small smirk before heading off away from the two.
Marice watched curiously as her leader walked away, wondering what she would need to speak to Janus about. She then noticed that Armada, like the others, wore Stapelian clothing, and she smiled. Sometimes, she could be a decent person. Sometimes.
"Hey!" Marice shouted at Janus playfully, noticing that while she had lost herself in her thoughts, he'd started to head towards the bonfire. She jogged to catch up with him and the two headed onward to the ceremony together.
When Marice and Janus arrived at the site of the opening festival ceremonies, they were late--it had already started. They stopped behind most of the people around the fire to be out of sight while they entwined their arms into one another's.
The other four-fifths of VDD stood together, about on the opposite side of where Marice and Janus stood, in the 'front row' of sorts that had developed within the crowd. Naya wore a black Stapelian dress with a violet tunic over it; Laiserta stood in her normal attire minus her trench coat, which had been replaced with a fairly long black tunic; Trunks donned a blue tunic with a geometric design around the bottom and a darker pair of pants; and Armada wore a green tunic with a similar pair of blue pants--no one had really expected her to wear a dress, after all. The ceremony VDD along with the residents of the village watched a young woman dressed in many layers of clothing and a grass wig did a fanciful dance around the fire, occasionally tossing some type of sand into the fire to make it leap up in tune with the music that a few Stapelians played on strange yet familiar sounding instruments. The dance, Trunks had discovered after asking a local, was to represent how the land of Stapel was blessed by the goddess of one of the moons, and at the same time cursed by the goddess of the other moon. To him, it didn't exactly seem like something to celebrate, but he'd long since stopped questioning the odd customs of places far from home. After all, they only had to make sense to the people who celebrated such things, right?
At the end of the dance, the woman threw two large handfuls of sand into the fire, making it leap up into the night sky towards the stars at about twenty feet high. The people started to clap and cheer, both for the fact that now it was okay to revel for a week and in awe of the performance the young woman gave, but the celebration was short lived. Just then, on a windless night, a huge gust of wind blew in from the east and put out the bonfire. The people gasped and cried out as darkness descended upon the group.
"What's wrong?" Trunks asked the three woman around him.
"Not good," Laiserta replied while staring at the circle on the ground in which a huge fire blazed only seconds ago.
Marice and Janus came running up to the group from behind. "Did you see that?!" Marice exclaimed worriedly.
"This is bad," Janus began, shaking his head. "The ceremony is supposed to represent good fortune and happiness for the next eight years--the only other time this has happened was supposedly during the festival two years before the Great War." All six glanced with worried visages between one another as the crowd started moving around. Janus shook his head. "I need to calm everyone down." With that, he headed off north to where most of the crowd was headed.
"I'll help!" Marice called out, following after him.
Armada gave one last saddened look towards the direction Marice and Janus had disappearing and turned away from the group, heading out into the dense forest at a jogging pace.
"Where...?" Trunks questioned. He gave one last glance towards Naya and Laiserta before following after the leader of VDD.
Naya and Laiserta looked to one another and nodded. They headed off after the crowd as well.
After making it a safe distance from prying eyes, Armada had taken off at a breakneck pace, flying through the forest towards...something. Trunks had no idea where she was headed, hence why he followed in puzzlement. "Hey!" he called out several times, but to no avail. He saw stop up ahead and land on the ground, and once Trunks made it to where Armada had stopped, he realized where she'd been leading him. The Verdandi's hull gleamed brightly under the light of the two full Stapelian moons. Trunks stopped, hovering in mid air while staring at the ship before realizing that Armada had disappeared inside.
Armada sat down at the main console of the Verdandi/, flipping switches and pressing buttons until lights and monitors in the bridge started to come to life, and the hum of the ship's engines started up once more. She worked quickly, trying to breathe life into the ship as fast as possible. /I'm getting that sick feeling again...oh god...
"What are you doing?" Trunks questioned, landing on the ground behind the seat in which Armada currently sat after entering the bridge.
"Prepping the ship for launch," Armada replied rather hastily.
"Prepping for launch? Why?" Trunks was confused as to why she was getting the Verdandi ready to go--she'd told them all yesterday that they'd leave after the festival was over.
"You saw what happened," she replied, still scanning over the ship's controls frantically.
"Don't tell me you believe in omens," Trunks replied rather annoyed. He paused. " you?"
Armada stopped what she was doing and paused before speaking. "Ever since I ignored the last bad omen I laughed at."
"So the wind blew a fire out," Trunks started, "and yeah, it was a little weird, I'll admit. But I don't think that's cause to worry."
She turned around to face him. "I'll be damned if I repeat another mistake like the last one I made."
Laiserta and Naya walked along with a crowd of villagers who were headed back home, their festival ruined by the bad omen observed only minutes ago. Both women were visibly shaken, whether either believed in omens or not was unknown, but the way everyone had reacted...especially with their fearless leader disappearing like would make anyone uneasy.
Suddenly, a large explosion was heard and the ground shook, causing several screams to be emitted from the crowd. Naya and Laiserta both nearly lost their balance, and once they turned around, both of their faces filled with shock. Another explosion ensued, and both could clearly see the red and orange fire, as well as the smoke from both explosions. However, the most shocking part of it all was that the explosions were being caused by spaceships that were running very close to the ground. Laiserta quickly converted her vision into a night-vision, in which she could see an entire fleet.
"Holy shit...Rieve?!" Laiserta exclaimed to her comrade.
"No," Naya narrowed her eyes as another explosion lit up and showed clearly who was responsible for the attack. "Taydr!"
The Verdandi shook violently as a large explosion went off not far from the ship. "What the hell...?!" Trunks exclaimed while holding tightly to the chair in front of him.
The monitor before Armada flashed to a radar screen, with at least seventy small dots scattered across it. "No way!" she exclaimed, leaning forward as if to make sure what she was reading was real. She turned towards Trunks. "We've got to get back to the village!"
Upon reaching the village, Trunks and Armada soon found Janus running west with a large group of people. "Hey!" Trunks called out to garner the youth's attention, and Janus stopped, urging the group to continue on. "What's going on?!"
"Taydr's attacking, so we're evacuating the village," he near shouted over the noise of the ongoing explosions and the shrieks of villagers.
"We'll help!" Armada answered hurriedly.
"Just start leading people west! They'll know where to go!" Janus told the two before running off in another direction. Both mercenaries nodded to one another before splitting up to get people out of town.
With the Taydran ships slowly inching closer to the village, tensions and chaos rose as people ran every direction they could. The five members of VDD and Janus, however, had managed to calm many of them and lead them west--some even forcibly. With most of the people evacuated by the time Taydran ships had finally reached the small village, the mercenaries found themselves each heading back towards the /Verdandi/.
On his way back towards the ship and out of town, Trunks saw Janus running towards his now burning home. He decided to run over and help Janus who was apparently going for the people still trapped inside--Trunks could hear their pleas for help.
"Janus!" Trunks called out while sprinting towards the youth who stood about to enter the door to his home.
"Trunks? What are you doing? Get out of here!" he shouted back over the noise and heat of the flames and impending doom.
"I'll help you get them out!" Trunks supplied, hoping that Janus would now understand the reason for his presence.
"Don't worry about it, I've got it covered!" Janus shouted back, ducking as a piece of wood fell from the awning above his head. "Just get out of here, now!"
Trunks, not wanting to anger Janus or stall him farther from helping those inside, obliged and took off for the ship, this time flying the entire way. Almost hit by another explosion from the ships hovering above the village, Trunks veered right and narrowly missed hitting a few still-standing buildings. Deciding that was way too close, Trunks flew as fast as he could towards the /Verdandi/.
"Where's Janus?" Armada demanded from Trunks as soon as she opened the door to the ship to let him in.
"He's still in the village helping the last few people out," Trunks replied hastily.
"Damn," Armada cursed, stepping aside so Trunks could move into the ship. Another explosion rocked the ship, and Armada flew over behind the pilot's seat occupied by Laiserta.
"They're getting really close!" Laiserta shouted while cringing, reading the radar that indicated that the fleet was all around them.
"What are we going to do?!" Marice cried out.
Armada clenched her fists, torn up over as what to do. Damnit//, I'm not going to lose the Verdandi a second time! "Get us the hell out of here Lai!"
"You got it," Laiserta replied, launching the ship from it's position on the ground of Stapel, where it had resided for more than two months. The ship shook violently as another nearby explosion rocked it. "We can't make it like this!" Laiserta yelled out worriedly.
"Move up higher than the fleet!" Armada barked out the order. "If we stay above them, they'll never notice us."
The Verdandi pulled up higher in the atmosphere of Stapel, but still low enough to see what was happening below themselves. Laiserta brought up a visual of what was happening below the crew, and the village could be seen, most of it in ashes. The ship continued to pull up and was shaken violently once more as another explosion hit. This one, however, was far larger than the last few had been, and helped accelerate the ship upward and away from Stapel. Once the monitors came back in, everyone gasped. An area five times that of the village was nothing but a crater...including the village.
Marice's eyes began to burn with tears and her breath quickened. "No..." she whispered in near silence. "No!" she screamed out in pain, dropping from her seat to her hands and knees on the floor of the bridge of the /Verdandi/.
Naya and Laiserta abandoned their posts and ran over to Marice, wrapping their arms around the girl as her sobs echoed through the bridge. Trunks and Armada both turned away, knowing full well--as the others did--what had happened. The village was gone. Janus...was dead.

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