This was it. Today was the day. Everything that had happened for the last three years had been leading up to this.

The sun was setting over the horizon, sweeping hues of orange and violet across the expansive skies of mid ocean and making the silver moon blush to the tune of a fading rainbow. One girl leaned over the railing as she stared out at it, savoring the last sunset she was likely to see for a long while. Her auburn hair blew in a gentle breeze, tickling the back of her neck. She might miss the wind, too.

She'd been waiting for this moment ever since she'd first enrolled with the Skyward Protectorate. Ever since they'd placed a sword in her hand and a linkpiece in her ear, but most importantly, a dream in her heart.

She wanted to see the stars. As the sun dipped lower and lower, the cascade of warmth that had filled the sky slowly faded to the blue-black of night. The first few stars twinkled to life, dancing merrily around the ever-looming presence of the silver moon, gradually returning to its pale and inscrutable visage in the absence of Arcadia's mother star.

She closed her eyes and pictured what tomorrow would be like. What it would be like to watch the skies yield to the heavens, her first glimpse of the world from outside, the feeling of riding the starway all the way to wherever her duties might take her…

"You really do get too into your head sometimes, Celia." a contralto voice remarked from behind her. Cecelia opened her eyes again and put on a grumpy-looking pout before pushing away from the railing and turning to unleash the full brunt of her displeased expression upon her friend.

"There's nothing wrong with being passionate about our mission!" She protested, crossing her arms over her chest as she met the other girl's stare.

"So you were spacing out. I know that look all too well." Her friend smirked. "Three years and you're still just as bright-eyed as when we got here."

Cecelia deflated a little, her shoulders sagging. "I think if I'm allowed to be excited any day, Loni, it's today."

A hand settled on her shoulder, and when her eyes tracked back up they were met with a smile. "Of course. But that doesn't mean I'll ever stop teasing you about it."

Cecelia smiled back at her friend, taking in the face of one so familiar to her. Her blonde hair was cut rebelliously short, complementing mischievous and intelligent green eyes that seemed to look through people when she was upset.

Leonie had been her best friend for more than half her life now, since a few years after she'd started schooling. They'd entered the Protectorate's training program together and done everything they could to keep pace with one another, through thick and thin.

And tomorrow, they'd be departing Arcadia aboard the Therion, off to explore the great beyond together. Cecelia, personally, could not be more excited, but she doubted Loni would appreciate her unbridled enthusiasm. Despite her decidedly renegade choices in appearance, Loni had always been the more sensible one between the two of them.

But she couldn't keep at least a little of it from slipping out. "We're really going to go into space…!" Cecelia bubbled, clasping her hands together as she resisted the urge to bounce on her heels.

Loni rolled her eyes good-naturedly at her friend before brushing a stray bang out of her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. I'm sure it'll be the experience of a lifetime, but maybe we should be getting inside. We've got an early start tomorrow, remember?"

Cecelia's grumpy look returned in a flash. "You never let me have fun!"

Loni set her hands on her hips and leaned forward with a shark-like, taunting grin. "Don't try that with me, Celia. I'm the most fun you'll ever have and you know it."

She wasn't that easy to win over. Celia averted her eyes. Loni, unperturbed, leaned further forward to flick the girl's chin with a fingertip before guiding her to look her way again. "C'mon, now."

Celia stared at her, uncertain for the briefest of moments, before a smile slowly spread over her lips. "Okay." She giggled. "I'll forgive you this once."

"Atta girl." Her friend said, straightening up and turning around to head back towards the door leading inside. "Let's go! We don't want to piss the proctors off on our last day."

"I'm coming!" Cecelia shouted after her. She took a few steps towards the door and stopped. Her gaze slowly tracked sideways as she looked back over her shoulder at the silver moon, hanging above her. Tonight, it was an old friend saying goodbye.

"I'll miss you, too." She said with a slightly wistful smile before hurrying inside.

Cecelia didn't remember sleeping a wink that night, but she still felt full of energy when her eyes snapped open the next morning. She was up even before the proctors would be coming around to wake her, and she threw on her clothes in a hurry before leaving the girls' barracks and heading out into the canteen. She was about halfway through her breakfast of koketta eggs on toast when Loni joined her, sitting beside her with a tray of her own. "Morning!" Celia chirped.

Loni lifted one hand to rub sleep from her eyes as she dug groggily into a bowl of porridge. "How in all the moons are you this energetic? You went to bed after me."

The brunette beamed at her. "I guess it's one of the perks of being the excitable one, for once."

Her friend seemed unamused. "I guess so."

Breakfast passed in a flash, and once most of the new graduates had woken themselves up (or been hauled out of bed by irritable proctors), they were assembled on the staging ground at the west end of the station.

Celia and Loni found themselves in a group of what looked like some forty-odd other graduates facing a podium where some prominent speaker from the Protectorate would likely bid them farewell. What caught Celia's eye was not the stage, however, but the lines of veteran sailors that stood off to their right, looking alternately stoic or impatient. They wore the white uniforms of the Protectorate, but theirs carried deep red details that marked them as tried and true veterans of the stars.

She burned with questions for them, but she knew she wouldn't be able to get away with breaking file to go engage them. Her attention returned to the stage as someone older and wiser-looking stepped up to the podium to address them.

"Today I would like to congratulate all of you graduates on what will be your first time sailing through the heavens. All of you have demonstrated great aptitude, unswerving devotion to your cause, and the boundless courage required to navigate the sea of stars as peacekeepers in this tumultuous new era of exploration. With that in mind…"

Cecelia got about halfway through his next sentence before her attention began to drift off. Instead of letting herself space out, however, she turned to the boy standing next to her, elbowing him in the side. "Hey! Do you know who this guy is?" She asked.

The boy glared at her under a mop of dark hair as he turned to look at her. "What? That's the chairman of the Protectorate, Valencio. How do you not know who he is?"

She gave him a lopsided grin. "I guess I preferred the training room over the library."

He gave her a flat look. "I'm surprised they let you graduate if you don't even know who your superior officers are."

Her brow furrowed as she stared back at him. "Are you making fun of me?"

"What? No. I'm just saying you-"

"Hush!" A proctor snapped at them as he passed them by, patrolling the ranks from one side. They both fell silent, and the boy gave her a hapless look as he turned his attention back to the stage. Celia sighed and did the same.

"...On this eve of your ascension, I urge you all to keep the motto of the Protectorate close to your hearts. 'Wherever peace has faltered, I shall stand tall. Wherever evil lurked, I shall lend my sword. And wherever life has blossomed, my heart shall follow.' As long as you remember your purpose, you will never truly be lost in the vast ocean of the beyond. Good luck to you all!"

A round of applause followed, and the chairman bowed once before stepping back. Celia gave him a few claps of her hands before letting them fall to her sides. Now had to be the part she was waiting for, right?

"Alright, guys. Get ready to board!" The proctor nearest her shouted.

Board? Board what? The skies around the staging ground were clear of any ships. She'd thought they would be heading to a different deck of the station to board the Therion.

A distant sound alerted her to something coming from around the left side of the station, around the smooth metal curve that hid anything beyond it from view. Within moments, a massive airship came into view, all sleek in shades of white and silver. It glided gracefully towards the staging ground before docking smoothly at the far side, beyond the stage.

Celia canted her head to one side as the proctors began waving them along. "Is that…?"

"That's the Therion. It's one of the fastest ships in the Protectorate." The boy's voice explained from her side as they shuffled after the people in front of them in the direction of where the ship was docking.

"It looks like an airship." She said.

She heard a sigh. "More studying you didn't do? All Protectorate ships look like that. They had to be adapted from something all those years ago, didn't they?"

Her confusion was slowly giving way to excitement as they drew nearer and nearer to the gangway. This was the chariot that would deliver her to the stars. "We're going to see the starway!" She gushed as she quickened her pace, almost bumping into the person ahead of her.

"Yeah. It's pretty exciting, isn't it?" She thought she heard a chuckle in the boy's breath afterwards. Maybe he understood it, too.

Celia nodded vaguely in his direction before looking around for Loni. She couldn't quite pick her out in the crush of people moving towards the ship, but she knew she'd find her soon. She was going to have so much more excited babbling to do once they met on board.

Darkness suited the captain of the Iridzu just fine. He liked to think it matched his best qualities - vice, viciousness, and venom - perfectly. He lounged in his seat at the helm of the ship, away from the lights of the consoles at the forward part of the bridge, a specter looming over his officers.

Of course, there were only two of them. They occasionally glanced back at him over their shoulders as they navigated and steered the ship through the starway that connected the myriad planets of the Protectorate's dominion. Today, they were heading for Arcadia, and the captain's lips split in a dangerous sneer as that familiar ball of drifting clouds loomed ahead of them, its moons encircling it in an almost protective embrace.

"We're about as close as we can get without being detected, cap'n." One of the officers called to him, casting a surreptitious glance his way.

"Perfect." the captain said, rubbing at his chin with one hand in a manner most nefarious. "This will do just fine."

"Shall I signal for the gunners to take their positions, then?" The other officer asked.

"Of course." The captain's voice carried the confidence of years of planning. "Have them be ready for a bombardment on my signal."

The officer nodded. "Aye aye, cap'n."

The captain turned his gaze back to the looming sphere of Arcadia, setting his hands on the arms of his chair once more. His fingers curled like claws as he anticipated his plan coming to fruition. He would have his revenge, and the fortune of a lifetime with it…

Cecelia stared out one of the port side windows of the Therion as it ascended. The clouds that had been her home flew by like they were nothing, growing thinner and less numerous by the second. She could feel the ship rumbling beneath her as the moon stone engines worked hard to bring them out of Arcadia's atmosphere.

The light of the sun and the moons faded. The blue of the sky grew dimmer and more distant, darker and darker until the first glimmers of stars began to peek out from the blackness. Her eyes went wide as she realized they'd finally left Arcadia.

The distant roar of the engines was just as powerful as ever, though, as the ship seemed to veer off its initial upward course. Slowly, a view of the planet below entered the window's field of view, and Celia was lost in amazed reverie as she took it all in. This was her first time ever seeing Arcadia from the outside.

She felt the ship jerk beneath her as it turned once more. Arcadia disappeared from view, and suddenly the stars in front of her lurched away as the Therion began to pick up speed. Simultaneously, the roar of the engines grew quieter and the rumbling of the ship gradually faded.

"Looks like we've entered the starway." Loni was suddenly beside her, leaning over her lap where she sat. Apparently, she'd gotten out of her seat as soon as the turbulence had subsided.

"The starway…" Cecelia said, overawed, as the inky blackness of the void was gradually drowned out by a cascade of blue-green particles that sparkled all around them. She could almost feel the residual energy they carried, bleeding out into everything they touched and empowering the ship to veritably fly through the heavens.

"We're on our way." Loni nodded beside her. "This is where the journey starts."

The brunette grinned excitedly as she turned towards her friend. "Am I allowed to get excited now?"

Her friend gave her a long-suffering smile. "I suppose it couldn't hurt, now that we-"

She was interrupted as the ship rocked violently beneath them. The sound of something like a thunderous crack reached them less than a second later. "W-what was that?" Celia said, dismayed.

Loni looked around, eyes narrowed, for the source of the sound. "I don't know…" She admitted.

A voice crackled from the speakers interspersed throughout the ship. "Veteran Protectors, please make your way to the main port side battery. I repeat - report to the port side battery at once."

Cecelia's eyes went wide as she stared at her friend. "The battery? Are we under attack?"

"I don't know." Loni repeated, before giving her a look, one golden brow arched. "Want to find out?"

Celia nodded immediately, and Loni took her hand, dragging her out of her seat and past several confused and harried-looking juniors like themselves. They wouldn't know anything.

Two hallways later, however, they found themselves in the operations room, surrounded by a dozen officers hastily relaying information. The ship rattled and shook again as the door closed behind the two girls. Loni braced herself against the wall as Celia clung to her arm. "Tch…" the blonde girl hissed as she waited for the shaking to subside.

Almost immediately, once the reactions of all present had subsided, someone approached them. "What are you two doing here?" An older man questioned them. He looked vaguely Yafutoman, with dark hair and hawk-like eyes that regarded them with distrust. "Juniors should remain in their ward until the situation is resolved."

"And what situation is that?" Loni snapped back. "It feels-" She interrupted herself as another crack sounded from somewhere else in the ship, followed by another rumbling. She grit her teeth as she stabilized herself quickly. "Because it sure feels like we're under attack."

"Kaeda!" A voice called from the other side of the room.

The man looked back over his shoulder. "I'll be there in a moment!" He called back, before turning to the girls again. "Yes, we're under attack. But that doesn't change what you should be doing. Go back to the others."

"Why?" Loni asked, narrowing her eyes.

"Y-yeah, why?" Cecelia asked, following suit. "This is exactly the kind of thing we trained for!"

"It doesn't matter what you trained for!" The man growled. "You've been off-planet for less than thirty minutes! Let us handle it!"

"Kaeda, they're boarding us!" The voice called again. "The foredeck!"

"What?!" Kaeda spun, clenching his fists at his side. "Damnit! Start assembling a team to fight them off before they start interfering with the ship's systems!" He whirled on the girls, pointing an accusing finger in their direction. "And you two! Get back to your assigned area at once! That's an order!" With that, he turned and hurried over to help his comrade at one of the consoles ringing the room.

"Come on." Loni said, pulling Celia back the way they'd came.

"What?" Cecelia said, confused. "We're going back? But we're under attack! They could need us!"

Loni turned her head to grin back at her over her shoulder. "That's why we're not going back. We're going to go join the foredeck defense party."

Cecelia's eyes went wide with shock for the briefest of moments before a big grin settled on her face. "I knew we were friends for a reason!"

"Let's go, boys." The captain's voice was modulated slightly by the linkpieces built into his men's helmets, but it still carried that subtle tone of command they'd come to associate with him. He and several of his best had suited up and mustered on the Iridzu's main deck in anticipation of the second stage of their assault.

On the starboard side, the massive spectre of a Protectorate flagship loomed, currently being wrangled by several long black cables that trailed from one side of the Iridzu. Every so often, cannonfire rattled from either ship, creating a thunderous cacophony that drowned out everything else in the normally lonely confines of the starway.

The captain waited until the the flagship fired its next salvo to give the signal. As soon as he did, his men began hopping onto the cables, using them to slide across the gap to the surface of the flagship with the help of the boosters attached to their gear.

"Take out the cannons and their navigation systems!" Was his command as he followed them a moment later, feeling the sudden wave of pressure flowing across his body as he surged over the distance between the two ships with the aid of moon stone-fueled propulsion.

A chorus of "Aye aye"s met his command as he dropped down to the surface of the flagship, landing on a knee and one hand and feeling pre-eminently badass. A nasty grin split across his lips as he drew a silvery pistol from his hip and began blasting every sensor device in sight.

"Looks like most of the sensors are on the foredeck, cap'n!" One of his officers crackled in his ear.

"Aye?" The captain said. "Alright then! Juno, Velasco, with me! We're taking the foredeck! The rest of you, focus on the cannons!"

Two of his men hurried across the hull to flank him as they moved towards the foredeck. True to his officer's word, the front of the ship was positively buzzing with machinery, and he and his companions went to work dismantling it in the only way they knew how, quickly beginning to leave a searing scar across the frontside of the ship.

And then, a noise from behind him distracted him. He turned his head to see a gate opening on one of the large protrusions in the center of the ship, revealing several imposing-looking silhouettes behind a flickering blue barrier. "Looks like we've got company." The captain called to his mates.

He reached to his hip again with his free hand, this time drawing a delicate-looking saber. It light up in a coruscation of blue sparks as he held it aloft before him, pointing it towards the newcomers. "Let's go!"

"I can't believe we're letting a couple of kids muscle their way into this." One of the veterans muttered as he and the rest of the defending party gathered near the airlock at the end of the room.

"I'm twenty-one!" Cecelia growled from behind the glassy front of her helmet.

"You can't afford the time to argue with us." Loni said from beside her as she hefted a glassy-looking broadsword. "Let's do this." She said insistently.

The quartet of veterans accompanying them each gave each other looks before sighing over the linkpiece. "Yeah, yeah." the leader said, before slapping a button by the door. "But you better be ready. This ain't a training exercise."

"Airlock pressurized. Opening door." A robotic voice said before the door opened. The six of them stepped into the subsequent chamber before the door slid shut behind them. "Depressurizing chamber. Opening exterior door." Cecelia heard a faint hissing sound and some of the weight lift off her shoulders, before the door in front of them slid open and a blueish-looking field flickered to life in front of her.

"Get 'em!" The leader called before he burst out the doors with a single blast of his propulsors. His trio of cohorts followed suit, leaving just Cecelia and Loni in the airlock.

Both of them stood frozen for a long moment as they took in the gravity of what they were about to do. Then Cecelia gathered her nerves and hurried forwards, engaging her own propulsors with a euphoric cry over the linkpiece. "Come on! Woohoo!"

She felt her stomach do a few turns as she surged forward over the foredeck on the exterior of the ship, drifting a few feet afterwards before automatically starting to descend towards the metal surface below. She wasn't entirely sure what was giving her gravity still, but she'd been in enough exercises to know she at least wouldn't have to flounder in total weightlessness.

Off to either of her sides, two each of the defenders were double-teaming one attacker each, trying to pin them down. That left her with just the one in front of her, who seemed to notice her only a moment later when his gaze turned from the fighting of the others to her. She couldn't see his face clearly through his helmet, but he looked smaller than his peers. That didn't change the cocky, self-assured posture he assumed as he leveled his sword at her.

Cecelia drew her own sword. It flickered to life in her hand, buzzing reassuringly with the yellow light of Valua's moon. She could feel her heart pounding with both fear and excitement. This was what she had trained for.

She rushed forward to deliver the first strike, arm held back and poised to swing in a sweeping arc that would be difficult for him to deflect.

And then he lifted off above her with the help of his propulsors, flipping once in the air before descending behind her, completely avoiding her clumsily wide swing. He landed gracefully, then surged forward to punish her recklessness.

She spun just in time to deflect his swing, letting out a gasp of surprise and exertion at the force with which he struck. She thought she saw the faintest glimpse of a grin behind his visor as he stuttered backwards a step only to come at her again a moment later, faster this time with the help of his propulsors once more.

"Not… fair!" She spat into her helmet, not entirely realizing he wouldn't be able to hear her. She raised her sword and braced it against the (thankfully) plated glove of her free hand as she was forced to go on the defensive, blocking strike after strike. He wasn't even giving her the chance of retaliating.

Something hit from behind, sending him tumbling upwards and over her. Celia saw Loni tackling him off her as she brandished her sword in an effort to cut him down.

She saw him brandish a pistol from his hip. He pressed it into her descending sword arm and pulled the trigger. She heard a cry of pain over the linkpiece before Loni's grip on him broke and they flew off in separate directions.

"Loni!" Cecelia cried, rushing towards where her friend had fallen.

"Watch… out!" Loni's voice snapped at her. Celia turned just in time to see the boy leveling his pistol at her. She dove to one side as a blast of energy flew through the space she'd been occupying moments before. She grit her teeth in a growl of pure fury as she considered what he'd just done.

She kicked her propulsors into full gear as she rushed him again. He was in the process of turning his gun on her again when he realized what she was doing, and moved to swing his sword at her, but too late. She crashed bodily into him, grabbing both his wrists in her hands as she tried to wrestle both his weapons from him at once.

"Die, you stupid… dirty… pirate!" She hissed as he thrashed against her. His sword tumbled from his fingers to the hull of the ship, and she turned her full attention to trying to grab his pistol.

His hand clasped over hers as she tried to pry his fingers open with a two-handed grip. The gun swerved towards him, then her, then back towards him. She'd bent his arm almost backwards when the gun discharged abruptly. A flash of red filled both their visions moments before the boy's propulsor's let out a dangerous-sounding fizzle.

And then, they were flying, as he seemed to lose control of them completely, sending them both upwards and off the ship. His attention on her snapped as he began trying to control his trajectory, steering them back towards the battle.

She slugged him in the visor of his helmet. Once, then twice, then three times, again and again. She could feel him shaking as she clung to him, and she blocked everything out as she tried in vain to break open his visor and punish him for what he'd done to her friend.

Something hit her in the back, and a shudder of pain ran through her all the way to her arms and legs. No, something hadn't hit her, she'd hit something. She gasped once, only to realize that the air in her helmet was growing dangerously thin. She could hear a hissing, not unlock she'd hear in the airlock, in her ear.

She let go of the boy as she tried to reorient herself, tried to fumble with the straps connecting her helmet to her oxygen supply. Something had broken, but she couldn't tell what. The boy didn't seem to be concerning himself with her, either, instead, thrashing about as he tore off his malfunctioning boosters one by one.

Only when he'd finished did he seem to realize what she was doing. She herself was starting to panic as the air in her helmet got increasingly difficult to breathe. It was approaching nonexistent. She thought she saw wide eyes behind his visor, and a moment later he'd grabbed her by wrist and started dragging her along the metal surface beneath them.

She looked down and realized it was painted all in black and red. Unfamiliar. She looked to the left and saw the majestic shape of the Therion drifting alongside them, close and yet so inaccessibly far away. Her vision was getting fish-eyed and hazy as her air supply dwindled down to nothing.

She could feel the scraping of the metal underneath her through her suit. She heard a clattering, a familiar hissing and a robotic voice.

Then blackness.

"We've routed their boarding party!" One of the voices called in Loni's linkpiece.

"Good. Get everyone back inside." That one sounded like Kaeda's voice. "We're about to lose them, as soon as we get the chance. Bring any prisoners with you."

"You got it, sir." Another voice replied. Suddenly, one of the veterans from before was looming over her. She clutched at her hand as he hauled her up with two powerful arms.

"You okay, kid?" He asked as he started marching the both of them towards the airlock.

"I can't feel my hand." She muttered, more muted than she expected even of herself.

She heard him make a concerned sound through their connection. "Yeah, well… We'll get the doctors to take a look at it. I'm sure it's nothing."

"Yeah…" She said, not entirely convinced. It had hurt so much a moment ago, but now it was like she'd never had a hand. A minute later, the airlock shut behind them, and they were in the room they'd occupied just before the fight had started. Loni lifted her head to peer out one of the small windows that flanked the room, at the black-and-red ship that had been attacking them ever since they'd entered the starway.

"We're all in." The man who'd been supporting her reported. "We can pull out now." She felt an odd sense of relief that she could actually hear him without the linkpiece now.

"You heard him!" Kaeda's voice boomed over the linkpiece. "We're getting out of here!" Loni felt the distant rumble of the engines start up again, and suddenly the black-and-red ship started to disappear behind them. Within moments it was gone, and Loni let herself sag into her seat with relief.

"Thank the moons…" She breathed.

The man looked at her with concern as he removed his helmet. All around her, the rest of the veterans seemed to be dealing with the prisoners they'd hauled aboard. "Yeah, well. Let me call one of the medics to get you downstairs."

Loni nodded absently as she scanned the room, not finding what she was looking for. "Where's Cecelia?"

The man turned to look at her halfway through muttering into his linkpiece. "Who?"

She stared at him. "The girl who came up here with me."

He grimaced. "I didn't see her come in with us. She must've…" He trailed off and shook his head, giving her a big, fake smile. "Don't worry about it. We gotta get you a doctor."

Loni stared at the back of his head as he turned away from her, avoiding her eyes. A shudder passed through her as a faint throbbing started to come from her previously numb hand.

Where was Cecelia?

Cecelia opened her eyes with a gasp for air, only to find that she had plenty. She was lying on a bed. An unfamiliar bed, beneath a reddish-brown metal ceiling. She sat up as soon as she realized she wasn't hurt, looking around.

She was in what looked like a cross between a private chambers and a cell. It was done all in metal, with furnishings seemingly tacked on afterwards with no attention to the room's seeming lack of aesthetics.

And sitting on a chair facing her bed was a young man, whom she immediately picked out as the one she'd been fighting earlier. He stared at her with a knowing smirk as he leaned back with his arms folded. His shoulder-length hair was wild, a shade of loud and fiery red that would surely have drawn attention almost anywhere in Arcadia. He didn't look much taller than her, or much older than her, but his eclectic choices in fashion, especially the earring dangling from one of his ears, told her he was very much the pirate she'd accused him of being.

"How long have I been out?" She asked, trying not to let her confusion, panic and anger bleed into her voice. She mostly succeeded.

"Maybe an hour." He replied. His voice was higher than she'd expected. Was he younger than her, even?

"Where am I? Why did you bring me here instead of killing me?"

He feigned looking thoughtful for a few seconds before shrugging. "I suppose it can't hurt to tell you. You're on my ship, the Iridzu. It's one of the finest pirate ships in all the cosmos." He let his arms fall from his chest as he set his hands on the edge of his chair to lean forward towards her. "As for why I saved you? Well, every pirate needs a good hostage every now and again."

She scowled and looked away from him. "I'm not telling you anything you want to know."

He made a dismissive sound. "I have ways of getting information out of you, you little… little…" She slowly turned to look at him as he vexed over his word choice. He finally seemed to make up his mind as her eyes settled on him, snapping his fingers. "Little... pup!".

"Pup?" she said, arching an eyebrow. She'd expected worse.

"Yeah, pup! You're one of the Protectorate's dogs. But a baby one. I can tell. You can't fight for shit." He scoffed.

She growled and slung her legs over the edge of the bed, setting her feet on the floor. "I can kick your ass all the way up and down this ship, kid."

"Yeah?" He grinned. "I'd like to see you try."

She glanced at her hands, finding them unbound, save for a pair of odd metal bracelets that had been slid on around her wrists. She gave him a skeptical look before standing up and swinging a fist at him.

She realized too late that something was in his hand. A gentle click sounded from the device in his fingers, before a force she couldn't see suddenly sent her flying back from him. As she crashed back onto the bed she'd woken up in, she thought she could feel the rush of air around her arms and fingers. "W-what the…?" She murmured, dazed.

"Blue moonstone cuffs. I can blow you away anytime I want." He giggled like a kid with a new toy. "You're not kicking anyone's ass, pup."

She slowly recovered her senses and sat up again, fixing him with a glare hotter than the red moon itself. She couldn't think of a good comeback.

He eyed her evenly, smirking at her. "My name is Wylan. What's yours?"

Her eyes left his as she looked away. "Cecelia."

"That's a pretty name." He commented, confusing her further as he stood up and headed for the door. "Anyways, Cecelia, you better get settled in. We've got a ride ahead of us."

She stood up from the bedside, trying to follow him before realizing his cuffs could keep her from going anywhere he didn't want her. "Where are we going? Where's the Therion?" She demanded.

That smirk stayed on his lips as he looked back at her over his shoulder. "Your friends turned tail and ran off further down the starway. I intend to catch up to them and finish exacting my revenge." He winked at her, his voice coming to her once more as he shut the door behind him.

"Buckle up, little pup."