Disclaimer, I own nothing, don't sue me.

Chapter 2: A new world

"Change yourself, you're old enough to do so."

"Wha! Stupid familiar, I am your master! You will do as you're told."

"Hmm yes, you kidnapped me and pretty much enslaved me with your spell. This… bond will not break unless one of us dies. Any particular reason why I shouldn't just off you?"

A stab of fear ran through Louise as her new familiar casually threw out the idea of ending her existence as though she were nothing more than a nuisance, before she could think on it too long, Saito continued speaking.

"And I did check with the whatshisname, professor Coleslaw? Eh, anyhow, slavery is illegal around these parts and punishable by death. I don't even have to off you myself, just report you to the authorities and they'll do it for me."

Louise's stomach dropped even further. She had not considered that little fact. "B…bu…bu…"

"Oh relax, I won't do either of that. It was just a little joke"

"Y-You won't!?" A small nugget of hope blossomed in her chest before the relief changed to anger. "A-and what kind of a joke was that!? It wasn't funny!"

"Eh, I've been told my sense of humour needs work. In any case I won't kill you, I've… done more than enough in the past. You are the one with a mistaken idea about what a familiar is. Like I said, I checked with professor coldman, a familiar is there to protect and support the mage they're contracted to, and I intend to do just that."

"B-but you just refused my order?"

"Indeed, providence has decreed that I am to be your partner. I will keep you safe and help you grow to the best of my ability, but I am not your servant. I will not stunt your growth by coddling you. And don't start with the nobility card. All are made equal before death pinkie, as your familiar I will see you grow independent and please do get rid of your I'm better than you shtick, it will get you killed one day."

"I-I don't understand."

"You will eventually, I am here to teach you after all. For now, you need to sleep, it is late and I do believe you have lessons tomorrow morning. I will be familiarising myself with the school in the meantime, have a good night."

Leaving the stunned noble behind, Saito quietly walked out the door and shut it behind him.

'Magic… there's god damned magic here. The spooks back home would have a field day with this. Shame this world is so… backwards. Nobility ruling over peasantry? How archaic, so much faith in a system doomed to failure.'

A dark look crossed the general's face as he walked along the silent corridor. 'Then again, its not like the democracy and power to the people thing worked out so well back home either. Otherwise, NOD would never have come to power. Guess I don't have the high ground to criticise anyone huh.'

Idly fingering the shrunken MCV still in his pocket, Saito pondered his future course of actions. Trapped in an unknown world filled with unknown hostiles with unknown factions. For the moment his immediate future was pretty certain, stick with pinkie and ensure she grows out of her little 'I am the centre of the universe' mentality, and keep her from being assassinated by her enemies.

After that, after that he'd play it by ear. Saito didn't have the full picture just yet but he didn't like what he had at the moment. Nobility with magic, ostensibly the protectors of the common folk but as with all things, massive corruption rampant in the system.

If this world was anything like his old one, bringing justice to the land was an exercise in futility. The guilty remained in power for any combination of three reasons. One, they were good at hiding the evidence from both their enemies and the more upright nobles. Two, they either had the connections or the money to ward off any investigations into them long enough for evidence and witnesses to disappear. Three, those with the power to do anything about the abuses are either too busy with more pressing concerns or simply see the abuse as an inevitable part of life and nothing to worry about. Often enough, all three reasons were present.

Saito heaved a sigh as he passed a blonde boy flirting with a girl, both nobles if their uniform was anything to go by. He stared into the sky as the two moons hung overhead, more evidence he was either on another planet or another dimension entirely.

His thoughts centred around the fact that one of his greatest failures was the result of his own guilt of reason three. Unbidden, the memories surfaced and he found himself reliving the past again.

-line break

"I'm major Hiraga Saito, commander of this garrison. I heard you were looking for me, so here I am."

Before the young commander was a middle-aged man arrested by the military police after he'd tried breaking into the base when his request to meet Saito had been turned down.

"Ah! Thank you for seeing me sir. Please you have to help us!" The man began pleading straight away and Saito tried placating him. "Calm down sir, please take a deep breath and then explain to me what you need my help with."

"Ah… yes yes… haaah… my name is Xiao, please sir, you have to help us. The governor is completely corrupt. He… he kidnaps women to use as his toys. We… the people can't stop him, his guards are too powerful. GDI are the only ones who can stop him." Xiao shuddered as he took a deep breath, the conflict in him written all over his face. "He's taken my daughter, please get her back… please, please, she's all I have left in this world."

"Those are serious allegations. I assume you have some proof? I cannot just arrest the governor on your word alone. Not when the brotherhood is just camped outside the city. From your words, I assume this has been going on for a while? Why hasn't this been reported before."

"Yes sir, oh thank you sir, I have a recording of the governor grabbing my…my d-daughter. We tried sir, we tried reporting him b-but the police are completely corrupt. Anyone trying to report him just disappears and we never see them again."

Saito collected the ancient thumb drive from Xiao who was on the verge of tears. Plugging it into a spare laptop, his lips curled as he viewed the footage.

"I see… this man has a lot to answer for. Thank you for bringing this to my attention."

"Oh thank you kind sir, w-will you arrest him now?"


Saito could barely bring himself to look at the devastated expression on Xiao's face but his decision stood.


"I'm sorry Mr Xiao, but right now the brotherhood is massing for an attack on Beijing. GDI needs the cooperation of the governor's forces if we are to repel the attack. I cannot arrest him now or we'll lose the support of his guards and NOD will win. Please try to look at the big picture, once NOD has been defeated the governor will be brought to justice and your daughter will be rescued, I promise it on my honour as an officer of GDI."

"SAVE IT YOU BASTARD!" Xiao slammed his fists down on the table with a loud thud and rose to his feet, immediately six assault rifles were trained on him, not that he noticed it in his rage and despair.

"I… I don't even know why I thought you were any different. You're just as corrupt as the accursed governor. Bah! I spit on your ancestor's graves. You're just another oppressor in the end."

"I am sorry Mr Xiao, but my hands are tied. Please try to understand, my actions are for the greater good. Private Jessup, please show him out." Waving his hands in the direction of the door, Saito was unable to meet the furious gaze of a desperate father after crushing his last hope.

Closing his ears to the angry curses directed his way, Saito waited till Xiao was far away enough that his ranting couldn't be heard anymore before moving.

With a violent surge of strength, the major flipped the table and slammed his fist against the interrogation room window hard enough to put cracks in it.

"Lieutenant. Do you think I made the right choice?"

His XO 1st lieutenant Alister shrugged before replying. "As a military officer, yes. His situation while pitiable means very little if we lose the city. NOD will sweep through and everyone dies anyway. But… as a father of two young daughters myself… sir, I really, really want to knock your teeth out right now."

"Duly noted, you may join the queue. Get a message to the governor, would you? Standing around twiddling our thumbs will get us nowhere except give NOD the time to build up even more troops. Have him send his guard to support our armour divisions. We will be moving on the scum camped outside as soon as everyone is in place. And do send him an invitation to take refuge here. This base is a lot more secure than his little palace after all."

"Yes sir."

-line break

Saito watched with grim satisfaction as NOD's MCV collapsed under the combined firepower of six predator battle tanks and a veritable mammoth.

It had taken three days of pitched battle but NOD's forces had been routed in the end. The death toll was far too high for comfort but a victory was a victory and the corrupt governor had finally checked in to his new 5-star accommodations in the garrison's detention barracks last night.

Idiot finally took up the offer of refuge after a stray cannon shell had demolished the west wing of his palace. Three blank walls and a metal bed would suffice for now until he could be transferred to a proper prison to await trial.

His reverie was interrupted by a messenger. "Sir, we have reports of rioting down by the governor's palace. A mob has broken in through the destroyed west wing and the guards are being overrun."

"Haaah… no rest for the weary is there. Send our troops in for riot suppression, non-lethal methods only. Ready an APC, I'll be going down in person.

-line break

The major stepped over the bloody corpses of a few civilians and the butchered remains of the guards. Didn't take a forensics expert to see what happened here. Guards used live ammo to disperse the rioters, didn't work, pissed em off and died screaming for it.

"What a waste of life."

Shaking his head, Saito headed down into the basement. Two riflemen stood at the ready and saluted as he approached.

"Sir, the old man is inside, says he'll shoot himself if anyone other than you tries to enter."

Saito nodded before approaching the door.

"Xiao! It's me, I came as you asked."

Soft sobbing could be heard and nothing else, taking that as an invitation, the major entered. Even if the man decided to start shooting, his armour would protect him long enough to disarm the civilian.

He thought he was ready for anything on the other side.

He was wrong.

Xiao was kneeling on the floor cradling the bloody body of a naked woman in his arms. A small pistol was clutched tightly in his right hand.


"Ah… c-commander, n-nice of you to join me *sob* t-tell me, did you win?"

"…Yes. NOD has been driven off and the city remains in our control. The governor is in our custody. Please… please put down the gun. We'll get you help."

"H-help? HELP!? WHERE WERE YOU WHEN WE NEEDED YOU!? *sob* My… my beautiful daughter… gone… murdered! If you had just helped us when I came to you… she would… she would… SHE WOULD STILL BE ALIVE TODAY!"

"I… I'm sorry for your loss. I didn't mean for things to turn out this way. Please, you must understand."

"Oh… I understand perfectly. Think about the big picture right? N-now you don't have to think about it anymore. It's right in front of you. Tell me is it beautiful? IS. IT. BEAUTIFUL?"

Saito fumbled as his mouth opened and closed but no words came out.

"Heh I know, it's hard to see the big picture behind all these corpses isn't it. M-my daughter was the one good thing I had left in my life after tiberium poisoning took my wife. And now she's gone too… don't worry my child… daddy's here. Daddy won't leave you behind again."

Saito's eyes widened as he realised what Xiao was about to do. Lunging forwards, he tried to stop it to no avail. "No! Wait, don't!"

Xiao was faster on the draw and his pistol met his temple before a single gunshot rang out.

-line break

As the memories faded, Saito found himself in an unfamiliar area. A maid was carrying a large pile of laundry and to take his mind off his past, Saito approached with an offer to help.

"I know you. You're that commoner familiar one of the mages summoned. I'm Siesta, thanks for the help."

"Good to know word of my existence has spread so quickly although I'm nothing special really, I'm Saito by the way."

Siesta giggled as the general shuffled the load to get a better grip. "You're too modest, I heard you were a general sir Saito."

"Just Saito will do, I'm not a noble and you're not military so no need to be so formal."

"If you insist Saito… why are you helping me anyway? Shouldn't you be with your master?"

"Partner. The relationship between me and miss Valliere is one of partners not master and servant. As to why I'm helping. Does anyone need a reason to help someone else? Besides, I like doing things with my hands that doesn't involve… well I just like doing things."

The night wore on as Saito assisted with the laundry and conversed with the maid, learning more about the new world he was in.

Eventually, he bid Siesta goodbye and followed the map the maid had given him back to Louise's room. Instead of entering the room, he elected to climb onto the roof and lay there under the stars.

With the twin moons hanging overhead, Saito stared into the heavens and let his mind wander further than he'd ever done so in his career in GDI up till his 'death'.

"So… god does give second chances. Where the hell do I go from here? I could build up a new GDI army with the MCV. Take over the world maybe? Bring down the oppressors and free the common people from the yoke of tyranny. Sounds poetic."

Letting loose a bout of self-deprecating laughter, the familiar turned on his side and closed his eyes, waiting for slumber to claim him.

'Who am I kidding, it sounds just like NOD.'

-line break

"Stupid familiar, you're supposed to listen to the orders of your master!"

"I am listening, I just choose to ignore them."

Saito and Louise were walking down the hall towards their classroom with the little spitfire bitching the general out for not following orders again.

"That's not, you can't do that! Just who do yo- Zerbst, grrr." Louise's angry tirade was cut off by the arrival of a third party. A very well endowed third party.

"My, my, if it isn't the resident zero, already losing control of your familiar? Oh I'm sorry, I meant the commoner you hired to act as a familiar."

"Grrr, shut up you stupid cow, don't you have some hearts to break somewhere? And I really did summon him as my familiar."

"Who's ever heard of summoning a commoner as a familiar? Guess you live up to the name." Kirche mocked before presenting her own pride and joy, a giant red lizard with a small flame on its tail.

"Behold my familiar Flame, a salamander straight from the Fire Dragon Mountains, isn't he cute?" She let out a small squee as she spoke.

Saito ignored the bickering between the two and knelt down to observe his fellow familiar. It gave off waves of heat just by being there but wasn't too unpleasant. "Well hello there. You remind me of a Charmander, are you gonna evolve into a Charizard in the future?"

Flame's response was to lick the general's face, eliciting a small chuckle. "Yes, yes, nice to meet you too."

"Pretty amazing isn't it, Flame matches my element perfectly, I am Kirche the ardent after all. But do tell, what exactly is the commoner supposed to say about yours hmm Louise? Oh I know, you're just a zero in the end Ohohohoho."

"What is zero supposed to mean exactly? I keep hearing that and I don't have a context. That said, I was known as the zero where I came from too."

Kirche started laughing loudly at Saito's admission. Louise on the other hand looked at her familiar with an unreadable expression. "Really? You were a zero too?"

Saito gave another mirthless chuckle before continuing. "Not a zero, the zero. I gained that title after people started noticing my combat record. Zero defeats, zero enemies remaining, zero buildings left standing. Hence, the zero of ZOCOM."

Louise was now staring at him with wide eyes, on the one hand, it sounded too impossible to believe, more of that from another world nonsense. But on the other, his demeanour resembled her mother's too much at the moment and something told her questioning his status as zero was a bad idea.

"I still don't quite understand the basics of your magic and all so I can't say for sure what summoning me means but I'll take it that you have a lot of potential inside. Potential that I will bring out."

"You think so?"

"I know so." Saito took the chance to ruffle Louise's hair with one hand.

"Hmm? I don't know what this zocom of yours is but I'll pay you double whatever short stuff here is paying you to act as her familiar. Trust me, I'll make it worth your cooperation."

"You'll get nothing from me. I am Louise's partner, if you think I'll betray her for even a second, you're dead wrong. Tell your masters that she is under my protection, try anything and I'll eviscerate you myself."

The hostility in Saito's tone was palpable and left both nobles stunned. One never had any man speak to her like this before and the other never had anyone stand up for her like that.

"Come on partner, we need to get you to class. Enough time wasted on this amateur, tch, spies back home at least knew how to be subtle about things."

-line break

"Well… that was… interesting." Saito said dryly as he rubbed off the soot on his face. Class had been cancelled after the classroom suffered catastrophic existence failure.

"Shut up you stupid familiar, it-it's not my fault every spell I cast blows up! Now you know why they call me zero, zero magic, zero success, zero talent… zero hope."

"Really?" Saito answered in a sceptical tone. "Looks to me like you have a talent for explosions."

"But they're not supposed to blow up!" Louise was on the verge of tears now. 'Rule of steel, Rule of steel, you can cry when no one else is around.'

"I was looking through your textbook, it does say that mages will have issues with spells not of their element. Maybe you're just using the wrong one?"

"But I've tried all of them. Fire, water, wind, earth, it all blows up in my face, maybe I really am just a failure after all. I can't even do the summon servant spell right."

"Wasn't there one more? The void I believe it was."

"There hasn't been a void mage in 6000 years since the founder himself. A-anyway, claiming to be a void mage is heresy, there's no way I could be one."

"I don't know. You did summon me, and you are blowing up your spells for some reason. I was of the opinion that if you had no magic you'd be unable to get a reaction at all, not explode stuff. The whole no void mage for 6000 years thing might also be a little farfetched, who knows how many void mages were written off as failures because they either didn't get any training or simply didn't fall into one of the other elements."

"Tha-that's… even so, there's no way I could be a void mage. It's just not possible, I would have seen a sign by now."

"A sign like your explosions? All the signs in the world mean nothing if you close your eyes and refuse to see them. Eh, no need to get so worked up, I was just stating a possibility. I have two others if you wish to hear them."


"Um hmm, first off, maybe you're just overloading every spell you cast. This is the most likely reason I think, discounting the void theory. If too little magic results in nothing, then wouldn't too much cause explosive failure? Sort of like a balloon. The other theory I have is that you are somehow messing up the casting process, which is less likely since you've been learning for a long time, though not entirely impossible."

"Not impossible how so?"

"Not everyone is born the same, some people are righthanded, others favour their left even if they're in the minority, there's nothing wrong with them. Maybe you're just like that, perfectly normal and capable of magic but the traditional methods just aren't suited to you."

"I-is that even possible?"

"Why not, there's no evidence against it. I don't know enough to conclude anything yet, so there's only one thing to do." A sadistic grin slid across Saito's face at this, instilling fear in Louise's heart. "Partner, on top of your physical training, we are going experimenting!"

-line break

"Y-you're a sadist."

"Nonsense, that was just a basic warmup routine, gotta keep fit in the military after all. Don't worry, you'll get used to it eventually."

"I'm a noble! Why do I have to train like a soldier idiot familiar!"

"Why wouldn't you need to train? War might come at anytime and didn't you say you wanted to be her majesty's knight? How do you expect to be of use to her if you're too weak to even look after yourself? A weak body is a weak mind and weakness is of no use to anyone."

"You said you were going to help me with my magic! How was all that running around and push-ups supposed to help me!?"

"Ah but we did learn something today. Your magic is affected by your emotions. Didn't you see the size of that blast? You wiped out a good chunk of the forest because you were frustrated and now we know at least one of the factors in play."

"That's… true."

"Lighten up, progress is a series of small steps not a giant leap. Today, you've taken your first step and that's enough."

The sun was setting and the sky was dyed in orange as the duo returned to the school after decimating the forest beyond. All Louise wanted was a bath at this point to wash off all the filth and soot accumulated from the day's events, sadly, her familiar had other ideas.

"The hell? Excuse me for a bit partner, blondie over there is picking on a maid, I'm going to rectify that."

"Wha! You can't do that! He's a noble, just leave the maid b-" Louise was cut off by the stare of disappointment coming from Saito.

"I'm disappointed in you. I understand that you've led a sheltered life up till now and you grew up with the mistaken belief that the nobility are necessary to guide the common folk to prevent them from destroying themselves. But didn't you also tell me that the nobility are supposed to protect the people not oppress them? And now instead of doing your duty, you and everyone else just stands around and does nothing. The hypocrisy is rich."

"Tha… that is… it's complicated okay? You can't just… wait where are you going!?"

"Relax, I'm a professional."

"You made two girls cry servant, I Guiche de Gramont will discipline you for that." Raising his hand, he prepared to slap Siesta.

The poor maid closed her eyes and awaited the inevitable. Only, the blow never landed. Nervously opening her eyes again, they snapped wide open in shock as she beheld Saito grasping onto the noble's hands.

"That's enough, you shame yourself with you actions."

"I- how dare you commoner! Release me at once! My father is general Gramont! He'll have you hung for this!"

Saito released his grip and watched as the noble stumble backwards from the sudden loss of resistance.

"I do believe I already said this, I don't give a damn who your old man is. So he's a general, big deal, I'm one myself and I don't think he'll appreciate you smearing dirt on his name."

"You dare insult me? I challenge you to a duel." His pompous proclamation was met with a flurry of whispers and cheers from the surrounding students, all eager to see some action.

"Oh real mature boy. I know what's going on, you were two timing and got caught. To save face you tried to take it out on a poor maid instead of owning up to your mistake since there's no way she could stand up to you right?"

The whispering increased in volume as the students found that the commoner's words rang true and a flush of shame spread across Guiche's face. Saito however, wasn't done.

"And now that I've called you out on your bullshit, you challenge me to a duel. You. A mage. Against little old me, a commoner with no chance of beating you. Just so you can assuage your own ego. For shame. For shame!"

Guiche's ears were burning now and opened his mouth to retract the challenge, Saito beat him to it.

"Fine, I accept."

"I will… what? You… you accept?" The whispering was now at a fever pitch, no one could believe what they were hearing. "F-fine, meet me in the vestri courtyard in half an hour."

His piece said, Guiche walked off to prepare.

Saito himself was distracted by Louise's hammering on him with her tiny fists, her rapid-fire words were hard to decipher but he got the gist. Idiot. Going to die. Apologise now. Unwinnable.

"Relax, you'll give yourself white hair from worrying so much. I know what I'm doing, I've faced far worse in my life."

"He's a noble! He'll kill you with his magic!"

"No he won't. he's a hundred years too early to even come close. If you'll excuse me partner, I need to collect some of my equipment from the room."

-line break

"Hmmph, so you actually showed up. I must commend you for not running away commoner."

"Run away from you? You grossly overestimate yourself. Come on, give me your best shot, I'll crush everything you can send at me and prove just how badly outmatched you are."

Saito slipped on his favoured melee weapons, twin titanium alloy knuckle dusters. Stained brown with the dried blood of many a NOD combatant, they were old friends. Power suffused his being and his focus sharpened as soon as he did so.

Staring at his left hand, he noticed the runes were glowing. 'Interesting, do I get a boost when I use a weapon? Needs more testing.'

Sliding into a combat stance, he readied himself for whatever Guiche would throw at him.

"Be honoured commoner, you face Guiche the bronze, few have ever had the glory of facing my bronze Valkyries in combat." Two rose petals fell off the wand and formed into metal golems, one carried a spear and the other a sword and shield.

"Huh… I don't see how being inexperienced in a fight is something to be proud off, but sure, if it helps you sleep at night. Now, come at me with the intention to kill."

"Tch, stop mocking me! Get him my loyal servants."

The twin golems rushed Saito with a speed that would be hard to follow for most people. But Saito wasn't just anyone, his senses honed from years of combat and now boosted by whatever strange magic was at work with the runes, the Valkyries might as well have been standing still.

Schooling his face into a blank mask, he waited till they closed the distance before striking.

Gunning for the sword and shield golem first, he sidestepped a spear thrust and executed a series of straight jabs to the golems chest, denting the armour inwards.

Normally a crippling blow, there was no flesh inside the suit of armour and the Valkyrie continued moving. Tilting his head to the left, Saito evaded the retaliatory sword strike and gave the spear wielder a small pull to send it toppling into its companion.

With it off balance, Saito ripped the spear away from it and sidestepped again to avoid the mess of limbs.

Twirling his new weapon around once, the general raised it overhead and jammed it down into the two fallen golems with enough force to punch through both and bury a third of the spear in the ground beneath them.

Bending the spear so the golems couldn't extricate themselves, Saito rose and dusted himself off before turning to Guiche with a single raised eyebrow.

"That it? That's the best you can do?"

"Th-this is impossible! No commoner can do that! Who… just who the hell are you!?" Guiche backed away, his face pale and sweating bullets.

"Brigadier general Hiraga Saito of GDI ZOCOM at your service. Now, is this all you have to offer? If so, I am very disappointed."

"Grrr… don't you, don't you look down on me!" Guiche roared before six more petals fell off his wand and six more golems rose out of the ground.

Unlike the precise movements of the first two, these were nothing more than a glorified mob, their movements slow and shabby, easy pickings for the soldier.

Saito didn't wait for them to approach, this time he took the fight to them. dashing forwards in a burst of speed, a solid right hook to the nearest golem punched the head clean off, the dented helmet smashing into a wall and becoming embedded there.

Sidestepping the retaliatory blows, he grabbed the headless golem and used it as a human shield, allowing a halberd and a spear to get stuck in it before chucking the remains at its compatriots, sending them to the ground.

The sound of air being cut alerted Saito to a sword descending on him from behind, doing a 180, he clapped his hands together and caught the blade.

A quick tug and the golem was relieved of its weapon. Spinning around, Saito buried the sword in the gut of another golem and roundhouse kicked the one he just disarmed hard enough to shatter it, taking both down for the count.

'One left and two are getting back up. Okay, let's do this.'

Ducking under a swing, he tackled the last golem standing to the ground and began beating on it with his fists until it was nothing more than a pile of twisted scrap metal.

Picking up a discarded sword, he strode over to where the last two golems had nearly finished extricating themselves from their fallen headless comrade, their actions even slower and more erratic now, hampered by Guiche's disturbed mental state.

Raising it over head, Saito brought it down again and again and again until all the remained was a pile of broken parts, barely resembling the Valkyries they were supposed to be.

Then, he turned to regard Guiche, face still blank and not showing any tiredness from his exertion.

The noble paled greatly as the familiar approached, a badly dented sword in hand and to him, with eyes promising bloody vengeance.

"I… I yield! I yield! Please don't hurt me!" Guiche dropped his wand and fell to his knees begging.

"I'll let you off this time on one condition, you apologise to the maid you wronged and never pull this shit again. Next time, well next time you might run into someone a lot less merciful." Saito tossed the misshapen sword at Guiche's feet before turning and walking away.

"Best change your attitude boy, if you do follow in your old man's footsteps and join the military as you are, you'll end up dead or worse."

"Wha, what do you mean."

"I'm only 19 boy, yet I'm a brigadier general. Do you have any idea just how much of high command has to be wiped out before something like this is even possible?"

"I-I don't understand."

Saito's face filled with distaste as the recalled the 'commanders' he served under in the past. "Most of the generals back home were much like you. Proud arrogant fools who believed themselves untouchable because of their station and power. NOD proved just how touchable they really were… whenever their own men didn't just take the chance to off them. See that you don't share their fate. Consider this a lesson, for you own sake, I hope it sticks."

-line break

Tiffa and the orphans watched with barely contained curiosity as the massive insect like metal behemoth transformed into a building larger than their home.

"MCV conversion complete, the cities of NOD on the rise."

Saito keyed a few commands on his data pad as he issued orders to the MCV to begin production of a refinery. There was no tiberium to be found on this world but that was fine, the MCV came with a reserve of 10,000 units ready for base construction.

The lack of a tiberium field was a resource issue but nothing crippling, after two years of analysing captured scrin technology along with whatever could be decoded from the tacitus had provided several large breakthroughs in technology. One of which was the revolutionary shrinking tech and another was the ability for safe production and processing of tiberium.

Too little too late to save Earth but it was exactly what he needed now. Limiting tiberium gathering to what could be produced with the tech alone instead of seeding an actual tiberium field would limit the speed at which he could gain resources but for the sake of not causing an ecological disaster the likes of which the world had never seen, he would make do with what he had.

"Lady Tiffa, the construction yard has living quarters inside, I recommend moving everyone into it. It is far more heavily armoured than the current installation you're in. Furthermore, should the Reconquista come before defences are operational, the construction yard is capable of packing up into the MCV and moving."

Watching as his new protectorate nodded and began to shift the belongings he'd told them to pack earlier, he returned his attention to the data pad.

Magic was an unknown variable and Tiffa didn't know enough to give him a good estimate on the strength of enemy forces. Supposedly, this village was out of the way of any major trade routes and safe from the brewing civil war for the time being.

Just thinking about the civil war caused him to narrow his eyes. Initially, he was in full support of the Reconquista movement when he heard about it from the half-elf.

Men and women tired of being oppressed by the royal family finally took up arms against their oppressors to carve out their own future free from tyranny. NOD too was born amidst such a movement, historically, NOD's forces had come from the oppressed, the down trodden, the forgotten.

Saito wanted to commit his forces to their cause but Tiffa had objected to that. She just wanted to be left in peace and not bring pain to anyone. A noble sentiment if a naïve one in Saito's opinion. War was coming one way or another, the fuse on this powder keg had already been lit and no one would be able to stop the fires of liberation from sweeping through the land.

Only, things weren't that cut and dry… as usual.

His support for the cause waned as soon as he heard that Reconquista was run by nobles and led by a priest with delusions of grandeur and desired nothing short of global domination. Supporting them just meant supporting another tyrant.

Really, the more he heard about them from the children and Tiffa, the more he came to the opinion that the only differences between Reconquista and the royal family were their names and scope of their ambition.

As a loyal follower of the prophet, Saito would die before he allowed himself to be part of the rise of a new tyrant. A small amount of worry ate at him as he considered the possible future. A lifetime of experience fighting GDI did nothing to prepare him for the scrin and likewise did nothing to prepare him for magic.

The Marked of Kane were tough and would not go down without a fight but against people capable of bending the very world to their will, he wasn't sure how they would match up, and until he had a sizeable force built up, did not want to risk drawing the wrong kind of attention.

"New primary objective, attain stealth technology to hide the base. Secondary objectives, build up an army to repel hostiles, develop information network. Tertiary objective, end oppression of the commoners at the hands of the nobility."

Staring at the points he just wrote, Saito nodded to himself, satisfied that he had a plan going forward for the short term at least.

Putting the data pad away, he looked around at the peaceful landscape. In all nineteen years of his existence he'd never even seen anything like this. The closest he'd ever come was very old pictures of a forest long destroyed by the tiberium scourge. Even when he'd been fighting in the blue zones, steel and concrete was the dominant feature… whenever it hadn't been ground to dust by his troops anyway.

Nature like this was a wonder to behold and if he wasn't here in person he'd never have believed such a thing was possible.

Saito found himself liking the place more and more the longer he remained here. "Alright, new objective, preserve environment and kill anyone who tries to defile it. Don't think I'm done fighting yet with the civil war on the rise, but that's okay, for lady Tiffa I will bear arms again. One vision, one purpose, peace through power."