Disclaimer: I do not own Suikoden 2.

I looked up from my book and smiled at the familiar figure in the door.

"Hi, Jowy."

"Hi, Julian." Jowy Atreides walked into the tent and sat on his bunk. "Looking forward to going home?"

"Yeah, I haven't seen Nanami in far too long."

Jowy grinned. "You two are one lethal combination. Too bad she couldn't join too."

I snorted. "Come on, Jowy. I don't want her in the middle of a war. Besides, we make a great team."

"True enough. See you in the morning."

"Goodnight, Jowy."

* * *

"We're under attack!"

I sat bolt upright and jerked my head to the side. "Jowy, did you hear that!?"

He nodded. "We're in trouble now, Julian. Let's go!!"

We grabbed our weapons and sprinted out of the tent, coming face to face with our CO.

"Captain Rowd ,sir, what's going on!?" Jowy and I asked simultaneously.

"A State surprise attack," he said grimly. "We're outnumbered. You two run to the east. Maybe you can escape."

"Yes, sir!" With that, we tore off into the woods.

Suddenly, Jowy stopped in his tracks. "Julian."

"What is it, Jowy?"

"We were told to go east. Don't you think that the State army could find us easily enough?"

I frowned. "You're right. We should go back." We retraced our steps to the camp.

The scene that greeted us was beyond belief.

"Jowy."

"What is it?"

"That guy next to Rowd. That's no State general, it's Luca Blight!"

"The heir to the throne!?" Jowy asked, and cursed when I nodded. "Can things get any worse?"

Rowd abruptly looked our way. "Get them!"

"You had to ask. Let's take them. Buddy Attack!"

We circled the Highland soldiers for a moment, then hit them from two directions at once.

"This isn't getting us anywhere!" Jowy yelled. "Run to the north!"

We raced north, only to find…

"Uh-oh. Cliff!!"

We skidded to a stop, gasping. "Now what?"

"Now you die."

Jowy and I turned to see Rowd approaching with some soldiers.

"Captain, why? Why are you doing this!?" Jowy asked.

"I'm sick of leading a bunch of kids! Now I'll get a real company!"

"Through outright treason?" I asked contemptuously. "I think not."

"Enough talk. Kill them!!"

The soldiers moved to obey, only to meet the same fate as our previous opponents.

Rowd was livid. "Wait here!" He left.

Jowy rolled his eyes. "Does he really think we're going to just let him kill us?" He drew his knife and made a diagonal slash on a nearby rock. "If we get separated, let's meet up here. Promise?"

I crossed the slash with my own knife. "I promise. Let's go, Jowy."

We nodded in unison, then jumped into the waterfall.

"Is he alive?"

"Yeah. He's a bit waterlogged, though."

I forced myself to focus on the voices, using them to drag myself awake. I was surrounded by a small group of soldiers, led by a man in rough leather. His hand went to a sword at his side as I rose. "Who are you, kid?"

"Julian Genkaku, Unicorn Brigade, Highland Army," I replied stiffly.

The swordsman raised an eyebrow. "I'm Viktor, leader of the Mercenary Army and friend to the City-State of Jowston. Now, how did you get here?"

I thought for a moment. If he really was with the City-State, then the official story could mean trouble. On the other hand, if he wasn't with the State, then not using the official story could mean trouble. I had no desire to be executed as an "inconvenient witness". "There was a State surprise attack. Most of the brigade was killed. I just barely escaped."

Viktor stared at me in disbelief. "What are you talking about!? The State army hasn't moved. The war is over."

I said nothing.

Another swordsman, this one dressed in blue, approached Viktor. "Viktor, why are you bullying a kid?"

"He's with the Highland Army, Flik. He says the State launched a surprise attack."

"Oh, really?" Flik gave me a once-over. "Did Viktor tell you that we haven't moved?"

I nodded.

"Well, then, consider yourself our prisoner. We need to find out what's going on."

The mercenaries' base was a wooden fort far to the south. The soldiers seemed calm enough, and all respected Viktor and Flik. Not wanting to antagonize them, I kept quiet.

I had little time to examine the surroundings, as I was marched straight to a cell. It consisted of a dirty floor and a straw mat. Why am I not surprised.

"You just stay there for a while," Viktor said. "You'll have work in the morning."

I snorted. "It beats death by lunatic. Trust me."

I was awakened by Flik and a young soldier named Pohl. "Glad you're awake," said Flik. "We need you to run some errands."

I stretched. "Like what?"

They sent me to clean some oil stains, grab some boots, fetch some flint for the blacksmith, and get some flour from stores. It went well until the flour.

The supply man shook his head. "Sorry, we're out. You'll have to go to Ryube Village."

Pohl thought for a moment. "Talk to Leona about an escort. I'll unlock the front door."

I made my way to the bar on the ground floor. I spotted Leona at once; she stood out clearly among the soldiers sitting around. Most were human, though I saw at least one Kobold near a window. The place seemed much friendlier than the Highland camp.

I walked up to the bar. "My name's Julian. I was told to get an escort to Ryube village."

Leona smiled. "Running errands?"

"Yeah."

"No problem." She beckoned. "Gengen, come here."

The fox-like Kobold swordsman strode over. "What Leona want? Is food ready?"

Leona waved at me. "Julian needs an escort to Ryube. Would you go?"

After much hemming and hawing, Gengen agreed. "Off we go, boy! Follow Gengen!"

Near the gate, we were intercepted by a young boy. "Gengen, where are you going?"

The Kobold introduced us. "This is Tuta. He's a student of Dr. Huan in Muse. Let's go."

Tuta smiled. "Okay, Captain Gengen."

The trip to Ryube was oddly relaxing. The few monsters we encountered fell to Gengen's sword and my tonfa. Tuta healed the one wound I suffered: a slash from a Cut Rabbit. Gengen provided a sort of camaraderie that I hadn't felt since joining the Unicorn Brigade almost a year earlier. It was at that moment that I missed Jowy the most. I hoped he was all right.

Ryube wasn't much to look at. It was smaller than my hometown of Kyaro, yet bustling enough. It looked like it had escaped the horrors of the recent war. At the same time, I couldn't help being just a little nervous.

We dropped by a supply store in the south part of town. It was small, but we didn't need much.

"Flour?" the manager asked. Gengen nodded. "As usual. Just a minute."

While he retrieved the flour, I turned to Gengen. "You come here often?"

The Kobold grinned. "Gengen gets food for army. Gengen fights hard."

We paid for the flour and made our way back to the fort. Along the way, Tuta spoke to me curiously. "How did you get here?"

"I jumped in a waterfall with my best friend after our unit was massacred," I answered. "As far as I know, we were the only survivors." I hesitated. "Could you keep an eye out for him on your way home?"

"Sure. What does he look like?"

"He has long, blond hair tied in a ponytail. He usually wears a sleeveless blue outfit, and carries a staff. His name is Jowy Atreides."

Tuta smiled. "Okay. I'll watch for him."

"Thanks." We parted ways and I went to my cell for the night.

Author's note: This is actually the first story I started writing, so the early parts are a little strange. This is A.U. for two reasons: I hate that Jowy is the enemy for most of the game, and the farthest I've gotten is just after the Highland Army captures Ridley, so I don't know much beyond that. Some portions are somewhat vague because I don't have a copy of the game and the last time I rented it was nine months ago, so I don't remember everything. Please read and review; my other story, Twin Dragoons, has had only one review at this point. Thanks. D.S.