A.N C94 made me want to write something so much, that I put my current sidestory project on hold. For anyone wondering It's twenty pages and counting. It's about halfway done?

Anyway, I decided to Split this into two parts, seeing as I seem to be getting more and more work. Not to worry the other though, half of this already has several scenes finished. With luck I'll have it in June? Motivation can be a bit of a pickle sometimes, but I'll get it out as soon as I can - seeing as Dauntless only has so many chapters left.

Thanks again to my Beta and her cats.

Janelle had done it. She had passed the first leg of her journey. It had been full of turbulence but when the drill instructor had announced her next station would be infantry school, she was happy. It might have just been in Area Eleven, far from the prestigious elite Fort Agincourt, the home of the infantry that she dreamt of as a child, but it was still an accomplishment. Sure, to some it may have been the slums but that was what the infantry was all about and it was just the beginning. To her it was a gateway to the special forces or maybe even command.

She was happy. There was nothing that could destroy this achievement or ruin her day. Even her family had driven all the way to the base to celebrate her accomplishment. As her mother and father chatted on and on about how proud they were, she couldn't help but glance around. There was an entire company of recruits turned soldiers yet she could easily spot Wallbridge, she irritatingly stood out with that bright red hair of hers. It seemed the she was talking to another teenager, probably her boyfriend or something, no doubt a loser - it didn't matter to her. She was free of the sympathizer's idealistic outbursts. Others milled around with family or friends, it wouldn't take too long for the crowd to disperse.

Kasumi, or rather Private Watabi, was at the far end of the field with a scruffy looking teenager, an older brother or a lover maybe. It would make carrying out her plans harder; the Eleven had been alone the last time she'd checked. Janelle needed to make a point to congratulate her and maybe swallow her pride and apologize. It would be empty but if the woman's star rose it didn't hurt to be a little bit nicer to the Eleven. In time she'd figure out if the Number was worth of her friendship, if nothing else she had her respect.

"Jane, do you have time to go home?" Her father asked.

"Sorry Papa, I don't think I can. I need to report back to the barracks in two days." She responded. "Besides there's no need for you to drive me back. Can we just have a family dinner? This might be the last time we see each other for some time."

Her father nodded, smiling that bitter smile of his; giving in to the inevitable. She wasn't his little girl anymore.

"My word, what's happening over there." Her mother pointed.

The commotion started like a drop of water in the bottomless ocean but it quickly turned into a massive wave as it rippled outward. The noise increased in pitch and at the center of it all was Wallbridge. Janelle wasn't surprised. That childish bitch was always acting like she was something special - like she was better than the rest of them.

Wait. Was she kneeling? That was rich. Was she paying homage to her sponsor? A noble perhaps? But she couldn't see any of the fancily dressed highborn that were a common sight in Tokyo.

That's when she heard it. The Viceroy was here.

She glanced back at Kasumi, but she and her companion were still alone, like a lone islet in the endless ocean. Janelle looked everywhere, right and left until she glanced back at the red haired devil and she wasn't the only one..

Everyone was staring at Kallen, or rather the teenager that she was with. The one she had written off as inconsequential. The scarf and cap did much to hide his features, but all the stares and whispers weren't coincidental. The realization hit her like a wall of bricks, the Wolf of Britannia was before her for the second time in her life.

Why was he here? For Wallbridge? But that didn't make any sense! It was Kasumi he had used as an example, not the bratty girl pretending to be a soldier. Why was she kneeling? Janelle felt her mind running a mile a minutein a hundred different directions. It just couldn't process what she was seeing and time wasn't on her side.

"By my right as an heir to the throne, I, Lelouch vi Britannia, Eleventh Prince of the Empire, accept your pledge and recruit you into my Royal Guard, where you will see your oaths fulfilled." Prince Lelouch said loudly, enough for everyone on the field to hear.

No, that was impossible.

"Wow, Janelle. She was in your training platoon right? Must be something to be recruited right out of basic." Her mother whispered to from her side.

As her mind tumbled, her instincts took over and she responded to her mother's voice, angling her head to face her mother. Janelle almost didn't hear the gasp of surprise.

"Jane, are you alright? You look like you've seen a ghost!"

She wasn't alright. Her world was crumbling around her. She couldn't help but look at the target of her ire, to stare and hope the girl melted before her very eyes. It didn't happen. Instead, the newly minted guardsmen looked back at her and for a brief moment their eyes met. Wallbridge smirked - it was like the she-demon was laughing back at her.

Kasumi loved the barracks. It was better than her family's house. There were no leaks for one and food was in an abundance a short walk away. She had been given a few days liberty to rest and recuperate before the next leg of her journey as a soldier for the empire started. She was using her time wisely. Some spent it out on the town, but there was nothing for her there but more scorn and hate.

She preferred to rest while she could. There was no knowing what the next week would bring. It was a time to reflect as well. Kallen, the guardian angel that she hadn't wanted or needed was a direct vassal of the Viceroy. It was shocking but in a way it made perfect sense. The prince valued the spitfire of a woman for some reason. It was the only reason their platoon had gotten off so light and why their drill instructor didn't do more. Because, for all intents and purposes, she couldn't and it had just made the sergeant angrier as time dragged on.

Before signing up, she had heard about the horror stories of Honorary Britannians joining the military, about how one misstep would see her recycled over and over until they were fed up with her. That's why she hd done what every honorary member of the empire had; she'd kept her head down. She could endure almost anything for a steady paycheck, like so many members of the military before her, her family depended on it. She had never imagined herself breezing through basic, or advanced training for that matter, but her most pessimistic estimates were off.

All because of Kallen. The girl was too idealistic and stubborn. More hindrance than help, she didn't understand the status quo at all and that scared her.

Kasumi knew they were bound to get heavily disciplined as the number of incidents had risen, heck she practically wanted to get recycled. Getting sent to a week one or two training platoon was way better than having to face the day to day drama of her platoon. Yet, it hadn't happened, even as things had escalated. It had taken an act of the Viceroy to get everybody on the same path, like a real military outfit.

Still, she was finally free of Kallen, but the question was for how long? Lord Kururugi had told her to keep doing what she was doing and that she had potential, but for what? Had she caught the prince's eye like Kallen? No, she couldn't afford to think like that. That was pure fantasy. There was no use in speculating about what ifs, she'd known that from a young age. Now, wasn't the time to believe in fairy tales.

The door to the barracks opened, a glance in that direction revealed someone marching her way and that someone had a lot of chevrons, a first sergeant maybe. The thought had only just passed through her brain before instinct and habit took over; there may not have been a command but better safe than sorry. She stood at attention in front of her bunk, just like she had been told on the very first day of basic.

The echoes of the boots hitting the polished floor, screamed out in the silence. Tap, tap, tap... over and over until the man was in front of her. He had an eagle eyed look and gave her the once over, before asking. "Are you Watabi?"

"Sir, yes, sir." She responded out of reflex.

"Do, I look like an officer to you, Private?" The Sergeant asked menacingly.

"No, First Sergeant." She corrected after a brief glance at his chevrons.

"Good. Major Santiago wants to see you in his office yesterday, Private. I suggest you get moving." He said ominously.

It looked like her luck was beginning to turn for the worse. Not that she was surprised.

"I'm faced with a conundrum, you see. I'm supposed to hand you maggots over for advance training, but I can hardly do that with a clean conscience. You see, privates, I could never look Lt Col. Jameson in the eye knowing that your training was lax." Said Major Santiago amusingly.

"All of you are a stain on my honor. It reflects horribly on my command and the tradition of this Company. Luckily for me, and perhaps unluckily for you, there's no 800 pound gorilla dressed like the Viceroy to stare me down any longer. I'm finally able to remedy the situation. Heck, I could probably have the whole lot of you discharged to save me the trouble of rehabilitation."

There was no anger in his voice, no threatening gestures. In fact, it looked like the Major was talking about nothing more important than the Sunday crossword puzzle. But the veteran officer noticed that the gathered rookies had reacted. It was subtle, but the signs were there. The atmosphere became tangibly tense as they stood at attention, hanging on to his every word as if their very lives were at stake. It was in their posture, tense and defensive.

"Luckily for me, there's still time to turn the lot of you into proper soldiers. Since New Years just finished, Infantry school and Artillery school don't start for another week or so. Consider your orders to report down there amended for a few days. The paperwork has all been filled and confirmed. Your asses are mine for a few more days." He said casually. "In that time, I hope to ensure that the Empire gets the quality of soldiers it's paying for. I might not be the mighty Wolf but you'll see my fangs are quite sharp as well. Learn, little maggots, and learn quickly. The battlefield isn't as nice and comfy as you think. Lieutenant Clarkson, please continue the briefing."

The assembled soldiers were standing at attention, eyes front but the Major knew that a thousand thoughts were racing through their minds. He needed to nip their bad behavior in the bud. He couldn't risk sub-par training when the people next to them could very well be the ones to pay for it. Discipline was everything.

"All of you are under my command for the next few days, is that clear." The lieutenant said firmly.

Eight voices answered in chorus, "Yes, Ma'am."

"Good. Private Alexander, step Forward." Despite the cramped space that the soldiers had huddled into, the young woman stepped forward unflinchingly. "Alexander, you are now the designated squad leader." The teenager didn't even move at the honor. "Gather your things, and meet me at the Northwestern entrance in twenty. One way or another, you won't be returning here. Dismissed."

One by one, the women left the room in single file. Their sloppiness was apparent as the third element stumbled out instead of the finesse that was expected of a soldier of the Empire. It was almost painful to watch.

"You think it'll make a difference?" The major asked as soon as he was confident they were out of earshot.

"I'll make it work, sir."

Olivia tried not to panic. She had never been the leading type. Even worse, she had Kasumi and Janelle to deal with. Who knew when the bullying would break out? She tried her best to make sure her new squad moved quickly, but she had always been a follower. She didn't know how to give commands and the atmosphere wasn't helping either. Everyone was in shambles, they had received a grade A tongue lashing after all. She didn't even remember them being this high strung after the Viceroy paid them a visit.

Still, she hustled and nudged them as best she could, which wasn't saying a lot. It was miraculous enough that they reached the rally point in time. They didn't have long before their new commander appeared before them, a tough looking man in tow. Olivia ordered her group to stand at attention in her best parade ground voice. It wasn't as loud as the drill instructors, but it was loud enough that their 'nonexistent' training kicked in.

"Good you made it. Form a circle around me, this isn't the kind of place for a lot of shouting." Clarkson silently waited as they rushed around like a bunch of uncoordinated ants looking for dinner. "This is Staff Sergeant Drake, he's my second in command. He'll be making sure everyone does what they're told. Now, I'm in charge of your little remedial training and you're not the first bunch of youngsters that I've had to browbeat so listen up, don't make things difficult for me and maybe, I'll let you people off lightly." The Lieutenant said. It had to be a trick, there was no way they were going to be treated with kid gloves after all the trouble they'd caused. She was just giving them a small glimpse of hope in an otherwise stormy day.

"Frankly, grunts, you may know how to shoot, you may know everything there is to learn about being in the military but that doesn't mean you're fit to be in it. Discipline and teamwork are key to the survival of our nation and by the Emperor, I will make sure you know it down to the smallest cell in your puny little bodies." She followed with hardened steel. "Normally, I'd throw the lot of you into some part of the wilderness and hope you survive. Unfortunately, I was specifically ordered not to after the last incident. Apparently bodies make for a lot of paperwork, who knew."

"Luckily, my second pick was okayed by the powers that be." She continued on, after a few tense moments. "We're going to embed ourselves within a convoy headed to the outskirts of Tokyo, and from there... well, I'll give further orders then. I only have two rules, follow my commands and don't talk to anyone except myself and the Sgt. here, until I tell you otherwise, understand?"

After their usual response, the lieutenant continued. "Good, good. What obedient peons you are. It almost makes me think everything is okay with the lot of you, but I'll be the judge of that, eh?"

Anything that followed was drowned out by the loud roar of diesel engines. Olivia didn't dare move to look at the approaching vehicles; she remembered all too well the numerous dressing downs she'd received for wandering eyes, something that she was loathe to repeat with an officer in front of her.

"Ah, looks like our ride... here." The lieutenant shouted, yet it came out barely audible to her ears. "Stand-by, I'll ... a truck..." It was only when the officer's back was turned did she dare glance at the oncoming rush of transports. There seemed to be no end to them. Truck after truck lined up perfectly, they were monstrous behemoths, known more for their transport capacity than their comfort. Brimming with materials as they were and open to the elements, she knew that this was going to be a long and bumpy journey.

It was amazing how quiet it was. It was like the constant ambient noise blended in their minds to create a static feed. To the outside observer, the surrounding environment was loud and boisterous, chirping birds, branches swaying in the wind, the hustle and bustle of the country side and the constant growl of engines. Unfortunately for Janelle, she didn't hear any of that. It might as well have been in an inaudible audio frequency as far as her mind was concerned. The atmosphere was thick with dread and deathly silent.

She was far from alone in the cramped and crowded hauler, yet no one dared move a muscle. It was like they were prey in the presence of an apex predator, frozen in a shroud of fear. There was little they could do with the threat of an immediate discharge hanging over their heads. In a way it was funny; eight women cowed into silence by one sleeping officer.

They had gotten on the truck without any difficulty, carefully storing their belongs in the center space between the benches that lined the cab's border. Their baggage didn't add much to the truck, in fact there was plenty of leg room, but it still felt like they were confined; that there was no way out and that they could only move so very little without catching the ire of the sleeping dragon. So, there they sat as the loaded truck rolled down the highway.

All she could do was stare at the passing environment, trying her best to ignore her peers. She was at the edge of the proverbial cliff and seeing the dismay on their faces would undoubtedly have pushed her over head first. She needed time to reflect and consolidate everything that had happened in the last hour.

Their superior officer had seemingly fallen asleep as soon as the convoy had hit the main highway. Janelle didn't know how long she would stay that way but she intended to take advantage of it. Whatever the lieutenant had planned might be worse than basic, but even worse was the threat of all her dreams crashing down. She wanted to serve, she wanted to do well now all of that was threatened and she was powerless to do anything about it.

Where was her resolve? It wasn't her first time being verbally bombarded nor did she think that it would be the last. Her uncle had always said that she needed willpower to succeed in a military career and she had done her best to prepare herself, but the layers she had carefully built to encourage herself had been stripped clean right off her. The Viceroy and his knights, her drill instructor and her training commander, they all had one thing in common. They thought that she lacked something. She couldn't help but feel that despite her impressive display in training, that those above her felt that she was still unsuited for this life.

That would have to change.

She began to analyze her past few months in the military. She was but a larvae in the grand scheme of things but surely there was something, even just a hint, of what she was lacking. Some clue that would point her to the right direction.

In the end, an idea was taking form in her head. It was unusual for her, someone who had always been in the spotlight, but it was something she could do. It was a liberating realization, that something so simple could still potentially turn around a happy, giddy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It lasted for all of three minutes, until Lieutenant Clarkson cleared her throat loudly, grabbing everyone's attention. The all too familiar feeling of dread returned in full force.

"Did someone die and forget to tell me? Or do we actually have a miracle on our hands? A group of woman not gossiping!" She teased "It's almost like I'm in another world. Don't be shy now, why don't you get to know your fellows. We'll be spending plenty of time together, best to know what each other is all about before anything 'tragic' happens."

They filled the empty void with noise. Discussions about anything and everything she could think of and more. It sprang out between pairs and trios like weeds. At first, people talked in hushed whispers afraid to draw too much attention to themselves, but the conversations quickly grew more boisterous, loud and unruly.

Kasumi, of course, kept her head down. Even when Squad Leader Alexander tried to get her to jump into their conversation. She bided her time and observed, like the proper piece of backwater society that she was. Everything would have been alright, no one paid much attention to her, except Janelle. As the hours went by, she could subconsciously feel the woman's gaze upon her, glaring and staring in a hungry, calculating way. Kasumi wasn't afraid, she could take whatever the soldier could dish out, but all the same she wanted to avoid any more trouble. It was a fools hope, but it kept her going all the same. With luck she'd only have to endure for a few more days before they parted ways permanently.

Her stomach rumbled, sending her thoughts screeching to a halt. They had yet to stop for chow, and their officer seemed to be comfortably asleep. She could endure, she had before but Kasumi hoped that they would get field rations soon. Whatever it was that Janelle wanted, she knew she would need her strength for it.

As it turned out, whatever she had planned would have to wait as there were more pressing matters to attend to.

It happened as Private Alexander was trying to get her involved in another meaningless discussion. The loud groan and sudden smell of ozone sent her instincts on alert. Thick white smoke started to come out of the trucks engine exhaust as their truck groaned loudly, interrupting everyone as she could feel the driver slowly pulling them over. The air was full of smoke, filling her with anxiety.

Her squad mates settled into a quiet pause at the situation but it was short lived. No one knew what to do. It wasn't long before they were mumbling again, whispered suggestions in the background filtered through her ears. Their voices rose up like a wave ready to crash into them, distracting them from everything going on around them. The wave rose in tempo and strength but it never crashed, instead it was slashed in two by the calm and clear voice of their officer. "Dismount ladies, and keep your eyes on the surroundings...a stopped vehicle is a vulnerable one."

One by one, the green squad hurriedly exited the cab, carefully clearing the smoke cloud that hung in the air behind the truck. When Kasumi had finally found her feet on the ground, she couldn't help but notice that the entire convoy had stopped. Soldiers were dismounting and fanning out, scrutinizing their surroundings for the smallest of discrepancies. Weapons were out, as if the men and women around them were expecting trouble, and that worried her even more.

She was unarmed and her seven fellow soldiers were in the exact same situation. Even worse, they were only wearing military regulation fatigues and those could hardly stop a bullet. For a brief moment, she allowed herself to get jealous at the supply personnel. It didn't last long. The sergeant who had been riding with the driver had just assigned her an area to observe, "Eyes peeled and yell if you see anything suspicious." He told her with a yell.

For almost a half an hour, she crouched down on the hard ground and roved her eyes around. She wiped the sweat off her brow as she tried to ignore the people scurrying about. Her eyes were continuously scanning the Japanese countryside. She was concentrating, yet the people around her weren't exactly subtle. She did her best to remain invisible as well, especially around the rather irate Lieutenant Clarkson. The woman was sounding more and more like a bull dog with each passing minute; whatever was happening, Kasumi's commanding officer didn't seem to like it one bit.


"Can't or won't?" She heard her Lieutenant's voice cut in. "...That's...No...Ridiculous."

She could hear bits and pieces of the conversation which she could only assume was two officers having a polite disagreement on things, and she wasn't the only one. She could feel Private Goldstein shuffle about as if she were agitated by something. It had started with the odd twitch but was now full blown fidgeting , as if the woman had the strong urge to pee but couldn't. It almost made her want to glance in the arguing officers direction, almost. Goldstein was closer to the pair of officers and could probably hear their conversation word for word. If her reaction was anything to go by, the next half hour would be painful.

Kasumi took in a deep breath and exhaled. There was no use worrying. Whatever it was she could take it. There wasn't much that could phase her anymore.

"Fine." She heard Clarkson's voice ring out heatedly.

Moments later she heard her temporary squad leader. "Huddle on me people, now." Alexander's soft voice announced.

"Okay, people, we're in a pickle. The convoy is about to go oscar mike, apparently they need to get a move on to keep up with their schedule. They've delayed long enough as it is trying to get this sorry excuse for a truck up and running." Clarkson paused long enough for the information to sink in. "Sadly, we won't be joining them. There's simply no room for us. Their commander tells me his transports are packed tighter then a sardine can. I looked and he isn't bullshitting. That leaves with a couple of options to get to Fort Armstrong before nightfall."

Out of the corner of her eye, Kasumi noticed Claire, one of her tormentors, openly frown. She didn't know what was happening, but if it had that kind of effect on the girl maybe it wasn't so bad.

"And no, that doesn't include waiting around here for pickup. The local base can't spare anything to take care of our ride for the next day or so. Does anyone in the class have any good ideas?"

"Marching?" Someone asked hesitantly.

"Ah, but wouldn't that be too easy for fit and energetic women like yourselves? I have something better in mind." The officer smiled, the white of her teeth sending shivers down Kasumi's spine

"On three!" Clakson yelled. "One, two, three. Push!"

Janelle pushed with all her might and the massive beast moved a whole inch. The lady was insane. There was no way they were going to get the truck home with nothing but muscle power. They had presumably moved the blasted thing over half a mile, but that had taken hours. There were ten of them pushing and they were getting nowhere. Even worse, she could feel her muscles strain with protest every time.

"Move it, ladies!" The voice cut through the silence like a whip crack.

Everyone was breathing hard and heavy, even the Eleven. She hated to admit it but that girl was the fittest of them all, and if her labored breathing was anything to go by, then there was just no way they were going to get this done within the next week, let alone by nightfall. It was plain insane.

"One more time!"

Yet they continued on, minute after minute, hour after hour with the hot scorching sun over their backs. Janelle could endure a lot, but this was ridiculous. What had she done to deserve this? Heck, what had anyone done to deserve this unfair treatment?

She was so tired that she didn't even notice that they weren't pushing on the paved road anymore. She didn't know when it had happened but there was nothing but dirt under her feet. When had they gotten here? Sure, Janelle had been behind the truck this whole time, but there was no way she could have missed something so huge as a change in scenery, was there?

"Last one, grunts. Push like your lives depended on it."

Befuddled and so exhausted that she couldn't think straight. Her body ached all over, but at least she was still standing. It could have been worse. Claire had stumbled on the latest charge and was kneeling on the ground breathing deeply. It almost looked like her red, sweaty face wanted to kiss the dirt.

"Private Landry, are you all right?" Clarkson asked from somewhere ahead. Claire only responded with a slight but pained nod, a smudge in military etiquette but the lieutenant let it pass . "Take ten, people. Hydrate and break out some rations."

Everyone had found their own little spot of shade to sit or kneel or stand, whatever position would produce the least amount of pain. No one moved; she doubted anyone could under the circumstance. Her body ached, not in the soothing way but in the jolt stopping painful way. She began to doubt she would ever see Infantry school.

"Private Grier," someone squeaked. She only had just glanced at the direction before a bottle of water was tossed in her direction. Kasumi; the girl was tireless. The Eleven had taken it upon herself to start handing out water from the supply truck. Janelle should have been disgusted or angry, but for once she was glad that the Eleven was in her platoon.

Time seemed to slow as she twisted the cap off and greedily drank the water. It was only after the water was gone that she finally took stock of their surroundings. They were in a small clearing surrounded on three sides mostly by trees and brush; an out of the way area off the side of the road. The few men from the supply company that had joined them were already hard at work stripping down the truck for what she could only assume was field maintenance.

As she realized what they were doing with added clarity, a deep rage started to roil in the bottom of her stomach. Why had they needed to push the blasted thing all the way here if they were going to attempt to repair it anyway? It didn't make sense. Not to her at least, but before she could continue in her mental rant, the vicious voice of her drill instructor lashed out, 'The military isn't supposed to make sense.'

The memory did little to calm her, but she did her best to take a deep breath and clear her thoughts. As angry as she was, she couldn't forget the immediate discharge that still hung over her head. So, she did the only thing she could do in the situation; she bit her tongue.

Janelle sat in silence while her anger billowed and flowed, simmering inches from the surface like an active volcano just waiting to erupt. It would take little to nothing to set her off, in fact she was itching to release it. Yet before the inevitable implosion happened, someone had entered her field of vision. The sergeant.

"Everything alright, Private? Make sure to get some food in ya, I doubt we'll be staying here, long." He said casually. It wasn't the tone that caught Janelle off guard, but the man's posture. He was relaxed, unfatigued as insane as it sounded. As if they hadn't just gone cross country pushing a multi-ton truck. The man even looked like he could have gone for hours more. Impossible.

Still, despite her shock she managed to respond. "Yes, sir. I will, Sir. "

"I know it's still reflex, kid, but I'm a Staff Sergeant." He replied with a piercing look that made her freeze in place, weary of any more trouble. "Be sure to address me as such, or you're going to have more problems than you can count. That clear, Grier?" He continued softly.

"Yes, Staff Sergeant."

"Good. Now, make sure you hold yourself together, but more importantly, pace yourself. It's easy to lie to ourselves and think we can give it our all every single time, but that isn't true. It's something you learn in basic, and it's something that gets drilled into you later on, but you ladies don't have that chance. We're only human, keep that in mind later on. We still have some ways to go. But look on the bright side, survive this and you might just have a story to tell the twerps at advanced training. It isn't everyday you get a workout with Charging Clarkson." He said in a little reverence.

As the man walked away, she realized that all her rage had melted away. It had happened gradually, but the relatively polite non-commissioned officer had managed to peel it away. He talked to her like he was teaching her something; what, she didn't quite know but it was enough for her to cool down. She was inexperienced and that seemed to be costing her a lot.

It was eerie that at one glance he could tell that she wasn't holding herself back. It wasn't who she was, but it seemed like so many other things, that it was something to learn. Still, the way that he had talked about their officer was irritating. What was so good about that woman? Clarkson seemed like a deviant intent on working their bodies into the ground over something that she couldn't control; namely one Kallen Wallbridge.

"Okay, we're ten miles away from where we're supposed to be." Clarkson said. "Now, we're going to leave these wrench turners to do their unscheduled training exercise. They're going to camp out here and get in touch with nature as they try to fix their little toy while we hike to our destination. The good news is that we'll have a shower and some hot chow waiting for us, and maybe even a fluffy bed to get some sleep in, when we get there. So grab your gear, we move out at exactly seventeen hundred hours."

Kasumi, checked her duffel to make sure it hadn't been tampered with. A brick or two wasn't something that scared her, but losing what few mementos she had would have hurt. Luckily, everything looked to be in order. She was partly surprised at that revelation. Everyone around her may have been tired but that wouldn't have stopped them if they'd wanted to harass her. This was the first time in a long while that no one had singled her out. Perhaps it was a sign of better things to come? She didn't get a chance to dwell on the question as she couldn't help but overhear her commanding officer.

"Let me get this straight, your captain, who is not in my chain of command, wants us to drag two, two hundred pound boxes on our cross country walk-a-bout?" She asked loudly and with steel in her tone.

"Yes, Ma'am. They're vital supplies, " The corporal responded carefully, as if he was tiptoeing around a lion.

"Oh... In that case, boy." She paused as if she was mulling it over in her head, "Can do." The smile on the officer's face was telling, at first glance it seemed innocent enough but if one looked hard enough they could see a slave driver in disguise. The Corporal on the other looked about just ready to faint. Did the enlisted man know something that she didn't? Possible, probable even, but what made their lieutenant so scary? There couldn't be any truth to her losing people in training, right?

"Staff sergeant, see if you can scurry up some harnesses for our little troop here. Wouldn't want them to have too much of a hard time." Kasumi was tired like everyone else, but that didn't seem to encourage anyone to actually balk at the task. It was almost if they were in a real battlefield, going from place to place with little to no rest. It was a challenge and she would meet it, like everything before it. If nothing else, it was going to be an interesting ten miles.

A.N What did you think? The heavier stuff is in the continuation, the stuff I really wanted to write too. I really wanted to post it together but well I have more work than I thought i would. If anyone spots errors, mind pointing them out? Review if you can,