Author's Note: Okay, I'm finally through with the chapters posted before. Thanks to those who reviewed the slightly altered part 1 and to those of the Gaean Illusion family. After this, there'll be new chapters. Lol. Finally. Thanks again to everyone.

Dedication: To everyone who had reviewed and stuck by me. I am entirely grateful.

Note:

"Against All Odds" – dialogue

'Against All Odds' – thoughts

Against All Odds - flashback

Summary: She's determined to settle scores and he's unconsciously seeking a way out of the life he had known since childhood. When fate brings them both together the result is something quiet far from what everyone expected.

Standard Disclaimer Apply

Against All Odds

By Frostmourne

-o-

Part II: A GANESHAN-ZAIBACHIAN STAND

-o-

-o-o-o-

Lives are like leaves…

They are carried by the wind of circumstances…

Even when they do not like where they would go next… they have no choice for they are only blown to whatever direction there could be…

All that is left then is to make best of whatever you are in…

For we are…

-"Like a Leaf in the Wind"-

-o-o-o-

She sat in the darkness, awaiting her death when the guards dragged her out together with some of the other prisoners. They were forced to walk through the dark passageway until they were out of the fortress in which they were kept.

The sun was barely up and yet, the air reeked of death and screams of pain filled the early morning atmosphere.

One by one, they were pushed to a high platform on which, they were tortured in different ways till they died. But she was not fazed by it and waited for her death bravely. Her mind however was forming with a plan of taking her executioners with her to the valley of the shadows.

-AAO-

He paced the cold floor of his massive room. Restlessness had taken over him once more.

He had awoken earlier beside the naked body of a random lady from Egzardia's court. For a while he had stared at the ceiling. Images of the last battle he had been in flashed in his mind and his thirst for violence was awakened at such an early time. He had settled for pacing his room, waiting for the time before he could once more destroy.

But pacing did not satisfy him. And so he decided to watch something entertaining…

-AAO-

She was roughly pushed towards the platform, the laughter of the three soldiers on the platform fueling her determination as each moment passed.

"These weaklings," sneered one of the soldiers. "They should be slaughtered like pigs."

Her anger escalated and though bound by chains were her wrists, she drew the sword of one soldier when she passed by them.

There was one thing that every fiber of her being was screaming for her to do, and that was to take as many lives as she could.

-AAO-

He kept his eyes on the soldier that was slaying the Zaibach soldiers, who were supposed to carry out the execution. That morning was certainly not what he had expected it to be. Flying down from the floating fortress he had been in had turned out much more interesting than ever could be.

Before him was a soldier of the enemy dancing gracefully the dance of death, his chained wrists gracefully flicking as metal clashed against metal, as metal slashed against flesh.

When the enemy soldier was subdued, it didn't matter. He had decided.

"Stop," he ordered, his voice striking fear and confusion as the soldiers recognized him.

"Lord Dilandau," they had acknowledged.

He walked towards them and looked down at the now forced-to-kneel enemy soldier that had swords pointed at his neck. The enemy was glaring at him fiercely, cold fire gleaming within the depths of turbulent green eyes.

Dilandau smiled almost insanely. The fire in those green eyes was of the same intensity that was his own, only his sputtered hot fire, all-consuming in its blaze.

"A soldier from Daedalus," he said, as he glanced briefly at the uniform. "A high ranking one. Interesting."

The enemy soldier glared even more, causing his smile to widen. "I will not work for you," spat the Daedalusian soldier venomously.

"You're mind picks up fast. Unfortunately, that doesn't allow you to oppose me."

In a flash, the back of his hand had struck across the face of the enemy.

"Take him to my fortress," he ordered.

The soldiers immediately proceeded to follow his command out of fear. When they had gone, he turned to the two soldiers who stood by him the entire time. "I will break him eventually," he said, his voice promising of torture and pain. "In the meantime, the two of you will have to watch him."

"Yes, Lord Dilandau."

-AAO-

She paced like an agitated lion inside the quarters to which she had been carried into. The floating fortress she was in reminded her of the ones looming above them when they had been captured and it was disturbing to know that she was in one of those fortresses.

It had been hours since she had been brought to the big living quarter where three beds were in. Apparently, she would be sharing a room with two enemy soldiers. She was sure it was because she was under probation.

"I'd get that bastard!"

Suddenly, the metal door slid open. Two soldiers she had seen earlier that day with the enemy commander walked inside, eyes looking at her cautiously. She met their gazes with a look that could freeze most people on their tracks. She wanted nothing more than just to slice them part per part until they were nothing more than just little pieces for carrion birds to feast from. But upon their entrance something in her clicked.

She was a strategist as well as a commander of an army. Taking on everyone in the flying fortress wasn't a good choice. But one way or another, she'd die anyway. However, she'd die bringing with her the best she could; and the best target was the red-eyed officer who had enlisted her against her choice. She'd make him regret everything.

If she killed these two soldiers, her chances at getting her target dead would be lessened. It wasn't the right choice and so, she decided to play along until she had the chance to fulfill her last mission in life.

"You're uniform," one of the soldiers said, throwing her the said uniform.

Catching the thrown uniform without even taking her eyes off the soldiers, she could sense their suspicion. And even as they left, she knew that they can feel something. Too bad, it would be too late before they can do anything about it.

-AAO-

"He's up to something."

"I know, Miguel. Let's just keep a close watch at him like what Lord Dilandau ordered us to do."

"It's strange," commented the soldier called Miguel as they continued to walk towards a specific place in the floating fortress. "Something's off. I could feel it especially when you threw him his uniform."

"He's a high-ranking officer from Daedalus as Lord Dilandau had said. He's trained to be as lethal as he could possibly be. It's just normal to feel that something is off because it's true. I doubt a soldier like him would change loyalties in a snap. Even if he knows what's best for him, the cold glare he gave us certainly warrants danger."

Miguel frowned. "Gatti, I swear, if Lord Dilandau doesn't kill him, we'd be in for a torturous watch for our lives."

The said Gatti narrowed his eyes slightly. "If Lord Dilandau chooses an enemy to be one of his soldiers, that enemy is something. You're right. We'd be in for a torture."

-AAO-

Before him, his selected soldiers' bowed figures were lined up. His eyes gleamed with interest as he stopped in front of his newest soldier who was foolish enough to remain standing.

A loud slap echoed in the enormous room they were in.

Dilandau had slapped the soldier from Daedalus harder than he had ever slapped any of his Slayers and yet, the soldier had remained standing by sheer will power. The fact both angered and heightened his interest.

The next moment, the slayers looked up at the sound of clanging metal.

The gleam in the garnet eyes of Zaibach's best soldier was unmistakable as his sword pushed against the Daedalusian soldier's newly given sword. There was a challenge of whom the victor shall remain alive and the defeated, dead.

Sword clashing against sword was the only sound filling the room for many minutes. Blow against blow, the two danced on in a spectacular sword play, each determined to emerge the conqueror.

A slice towards the neck was blocked by the green-eyed soldier, but the wicked smile gracing the lips of the platinum-haired one was full of warning. Unexpectedly, the Zaibach commander released one hand from its duty in holding the sword, using the free hand to punch the Daedalusian soldier.

Before any recovery could be made, a kick to the chest sent the honey brown-haired one skidding on the metal flooring of the fortress, his sword sliding away from his grasp. The attack was followed by many more blows he could hardly block with his arms in his fatigued state.

When the fallen soldier could hardly stand up, he was forced to look up at his enemy as the latter pulled his short honey brown hair to tilt his head roughly. Resounding slaps echoed and when he - the high-ranking Daedalusian soldier - was nearly unconscious from the beating, the red-eyed Zaibach commander suddenly stopped.

"I'll kill you," hissed the general. "Bow and you'll live."

The Daedalusian soldier struggled to voice his thoughts and somehow succeeded through his strong will. "What makes you think I would choose to live and serve you?" He hissed back in an all too male voice.

"I'll torture and kill you."

He smiled sarcastically even when it hurt his facial muscles. "I'm a soldier by my choice. I fear no torture or death."

Red eyes gleamed with an unreadable expression. Then he released his painful hold and stood up from his bent position. "You'd be perfect. Gatti! Miguel! Take him back to your quarters!"

The two immediately proceeded to do as they were told, both thinking of the nights they wouldn't be able to really sleep in the future.

-AAO-

Seconds ticked into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, and days into weeks. Still, the soldier from Daedalus was not dead. They could hardly sleep. Each movement made them rouse from light slumber and each night was spent cradling their swords near them.

For four times, the soldier from Daedalus had attempted to kill Lord Dilandau. Each attempt was closer to success and yet their lord had not ordered for the enemy's death. Their lord had remained unrelenting in his choice of keeping the enemy with them in their quarters.

It was disturbing how the soldier could almost match their lord in a sword fight. His only undoing was always in lesser stamina and his lack of capability in a fist fight. Always, he could hardly stand whenever their Lord Dilandau kicked him especially in the chest. But other than that, he was someone to be feared. Perhaps a little more practice would make him the equal of their lord, if that was ever possible.

His healing was fast. He had never been brought to the infirmary even when under heavy beating from their lord after each assassination attempt. The soldier could still stand straight the following day, his green eyes never reflecting anything else but cold fury.

Their lord never allowed anyone else to interfere during their fights. When they had attempted to help at one time, they were slapped hard enough to leave a bruise for days. It was as if their red-eyed commander was to be the only one allowed to break the strong-willed captive.

A slight stirring and both Gatti and Miguel were once again gripping the hilt of their swords tightly. But as like every night, no attack was launched against them. It was as if the enemy soldier's target was their lord alone.

Dawn came and they had to prepare for another new day.

The three of them entered the training room silently. Practice went on smoothly until once again, the green-eyed soldier from Daedalus attacked.

It was as if their red-eyed general had expected and had waited for the attack. For when their swords met, the general's eyes lit as it always had whenever he was fighting with the former commander of a Daedalusian army.

The dance once again started, both warriors moving with a deadly gracefulness of a hunter after its victim. Each clash escalated the tempo of the death dance. Before the slayers' eyes, the skills of two of the best fighters that ever lived in Gaea unfolded.

It was unsettling when the former commander of an army had managed to spill the blood of the red-eyed general as his sword slashed through the general's side. But garnet orbs gleamed with heightened interest and morbid fascination , challenging the freezing fury that emanated from the emerald eyes of the enemy.

With a renewed energy, continuous attacks came from the general. And when the former commander's sword was once again made to fly away from his grasp by a very strong strike, it was fist against fist.

Each punch and kick was evaded with grace as if the enemy had fully learned from past failures. But one mistake was made, and it was when the enemy made a run for his sword to finish the fight. A sweep on the leg was the touch that made the former commander fall under the general's form who delivered punch after punch with macabre interest.

"Lord Dilandau," interrupted a voice.

The said lord looked up, crimson eyes burning with allure for violence.

"The Duke requests for your presence in his palace," announced the messenger of the Duke.

He stood up, his eyes glinting with anger at the interruption. "Gatti! Miguel! Take him to your room!"

Gatti and Miguel both knew that the former commander was the one being referred to by their lord. And without further delay, they fell out from their line and went to do as their lord ordered.

-AAO-

"This better be damn well important," he hissed as he jumped out of his guymelef's cockpit.

Along so many massive hallways he passed through, followed by two of his slayers. He had been more than angry when he was interrupted only to find out that he had to fly away from the Vione, his flying fortress, to meet with the Duke of Zaibach.

"Welcome back, Dilandau," said the Duke as the platinum-haired general and his two slayers entered the specified room of the appointment.

He stood just by the doors, looking at the Duke with impatient red eyes.

-AAO-

Before Gatti and Miguel could reach their quarters with the enemy soldier, a group of soldiers from the Duke of Zaibach intercepted them.

"That soldier is to be executed," one had announced.

"Lord Dilandau ordered us to bring him back to our room," Miguel said with a deep frown marring his features.

"The Duke ordered the execution."

"Until we receive orders from Lord Dilandau, we will not comply," stated Gatti evenly.

"Very well."

Soon enough, they were surrounded by the soldiers of the Duke and were later on forced to a fight so as not to give the green-eyed soldier for the execution. But through sheer number, they were not successful and before they could call for any help, their ward had been taken.

Merely minutes later, the Slayers were planning on a much unexpected rescue attempt. If the soldier their lord had wanted to keep was executed, hell would break loose.

-AAO-

Drifting between consciousness and unconsciousness, Hitomi reflected on what had just happened. She was going to be executed soon and she had not yet killed Dilandau Albatou.

She would curse Zaibach for their viciousness again and again even after her death. She had been alright for the past weeks, true, but it did nothing to keep her hatred at bay thus she repeatedly attempted to assassinate Albatou.

If Zaibach hadn't decided to spread its territory, Daedalus would still be intact. And if that was so, the Lord Ganesha and the Lady Yukari wouldn't have been both dead. But then, even with the war, there wouldn't have been so many dead people if Egzardia sent reinforcements as was agreed upon.

Her eyes narrowed, realization dawning on her. There had been many a moment in the times that passed as a forced Zaibach soldier that she had seen Egzardian countesses in the Vione. She was sure they were so, for their features and gowns showed much of the Egzardian culture. It was near impossible for them to have been kept as prisoners, after all, would prisoners of high status be slyly, and not to mention seductively, touching the red-eyed general?

No. Of course not. Not unless they slept with the said general… and it was blatant that they did. Her sharp eyes had seen some of them sporting some kiss marks on the exposed skin of their throats.

The hairs at the back of her neck stood on end and she had the telltale feeling that she was concluding rightly. Egzardia had betrayed Daedalus, leaving them off to fend the Zaibachian intruders alone. And then, Egzardia had openly expressed their chosen side, some of their royals even willingly bedding a Zaibachian general with not even a little amount of disgust.

Once again, Egzardia had taken a family from her. The Ganeshas and before them… the Kanzakis and so many more people she had grown up with.

She had made the wrong choice then. Her real enemy wasn't Zaibach. It was Egzardia. If it hadn't been so power-hungry long ago, she wouldn't have gotten to be with the Ganeshas and they would've still been alive. And so would've been her original and beloved family.

Egzardia was now enjoying their victory at always being able to go with the winning side. And she was about to be executed with the realization of a good chance wasted.

'Damn it! If I had only reflected more instead of obsessing over an assassination, then I would've gotten the chance to cause trouble between Egzardia and some officials from Zaibach! I had been given the chance to serve one high official from Zaibach and it was a good chance for everything!'

If only she had been given one more chance, she'd choose to serve Zaibach and rise into power to make Egzardia pay for everything. If only...

And she cursed again.

-AAO-

Crimson eyes burned with rage as the general quickened his pace towards the execution site. He had been wary of the appointment and had a suspicion of something not being right. He had not let the Duke keep him for a few more minutes before something came to him.

Trickery. He had fallen for the manipulative ways of the Duke.

Of course the Duke had heard about his latest venture in keeping an enemy in the Vione; and not just a simple enemy, but one who was meant to be a great soldier with the capabilities of assassinating him.

When he arrived, his slayers were already there, fighting the Duke's soldiers. His eyes narrowed and without any second thoughts, his sword once again claimed lives. Upon realizing his presence, the fighting finally stopped, the soldiers cowering in fear at his apparent anger.

Gatti and Miguel had been tasked to bring their ward back to the Vione as with the usual. The rest of the Slayers were ordered to go back to the Vione to train. And Dilandau, in his anger, had stalked back to the Duke's abode to demand for answers.

-AAO-

"He's been tortured," commented Gatti as they dropped their responsibility on the bed. "We better have him patched up before Lord Dilandau gets back. If he dies, we die."

Miguel nodded and began to help Gatti remove the unconscious soldier's armor, not expecting what they were yet to know. When they finally removed the upper covering, they found bandages wound tightly on the chest of the former commander.

"Maybe injuries from before?" inquired Miguel.

Gatti nodded and reached to cut the bandage loose, only to discover when the bandage loosened that the green-eyed soldier from Daedalus had something a man shouldn't be having.

The bandage didn't need to drop completely off. Just the cleavage that showed when it was loosened was enough for suspicion to feed upon. And the two slayers looked at each other with shock and confusion in their eyes.

"He's a girl?" They both asked at the same time.

-o-o-o-

Even when the night of life seems long, there is always the dawn and then the sunrise…

Patience and strong will is the key to move through life and get to that sunrise…

Thus in life, when one stumbles during his day light, he must not waste his time…

Night is merely a transition to another day…

And so it is said to those nearing the darkness…

-"Arise in the Depths of the Night"-

-o-o-o-

The massive doors opened and in entered the fuming red-eyed general, Dilandau Albatou. "Why did you order the execution!" He had asked immediately, irritation pouring off him in massive waves for everyone to see.

The Duke merely tilted his head in delight at the young man's fast pace of mind. "I don't want to hear one day that my son has been assassinated by the person he keeps so close to him."

Scarlet eyes narrowed. "He has the makings I have been looking for!"

"So I've heard. You do know that keeping enemies so close is not very advisable," the Duke said calmly as he shifted in his comfortable chair. "Do you know who you are keeping, Dilandau? That soldier is one of Daedalus' high ranking military officials. And as I have learned, he happens to be a student of Balgus Ganesha, one of the three renowned sword masters in all of Gaea."

Dilandau's temper was temporarily left forgotten. "It figures... a student of Balgus Ganesha."

The Duke frowned. "You didn't bother to know that soldier well enough. If I hadn't stepped a foot in, you would be dead soon enough!"

"I have no care for his past!" The young general immediately snarled. "He is mine to break! When I make him my best creation, the past wouldn't matter at all!"

"And what after you mold him to be the most powerful soldier you have? What then? He'd kill you. That is certain."

"We'll see about that."

Similar blood-red eyes narrowed in displeasure. "You cannot keep him, Dilandau."

"You can't order me around!" He spat angrily.

"You are my son!"

Dilandau clenched his fists. "You never treated me like one!"

He spun around and walked out of the enormous room, leaving the Duke to glare at where he once stood.

"Stubborn like your mother," the Duke said with irritation.

-AAO-

They both didn't know what to do, how to react with what they had just discovered. It was no wonder that the green-eyed one's weakest spot was always the chest.

A slight groan from one of the beds alerted them to a waking male. The woman sure did practice well enough to sound like a male.

They both stood by the bed, waiting for the occupant to rouse.

Green eyes stared blankly for a split second before the owner sat up, hands immediately holding onto the sheet of the bed. The cold glare Miguel and Gatti received spoke of death. "You know," she said, fully aware from the start of her very loose bandage.

The two gave a small nod all the while eyeing her warily.

"You're a girl," stated Gatti flatly.

Her dangerous aura seemed to lessen slightly and she sent them a smirk mixed both with contempt and humor. "Never seen one?"

Gatti's eyes narrowed at the sarcastic remark. "Stop being the smartass."

"Girls don't fight," interrupted Miguel, frowning at the dangerous female on the bed. "At least that's how I know them the last time I checked."

"Well check again," she replied coolly. "Straight to business–"

"We don't negotiate with assassins like you," spoke an angry Gatti, gripping the hilt of his sword tightly.

She raised a brow condescendingly and in a voice full of disdain, she replied. "Your lord forced me to serve the country that destroyed mine. What do you expect me to do? Kiss the ground he walks on?" As if to spite them more, she snorted in disgust.

Both had to restrain themselves from slaying the insolent woman. Lord Dilandau wouldn't be too pleased to know that they just murdered the ex-commander from Daedalus, she be a woman or not.

"Don't worry though. His death is of no use to me now," muttered the female, not even grimacing at the obvious pain her body must have been going through the moment she moved to sit up.

Miguel eyed her closely. "What do you mean?"

"Egzardia," was her flat reply. "Egzardia will pay."

Against his will, Gatti smirked. "So, you've finally realized that Egzardia betrayed Daedalus. It took you long enough." He eyed her with triumphant mockery.

Her eyes narrowed dangerously. "Imply insult on my intelligence once more and I shall slit your throat before you know it." Glaring with authority, she looked down at her loosely bandaged chest and smiled wryly before looking back at them, noticing that they had just averted their eyes from her chest. "Like what you see?"

Both boys glared at her but her sharp eyes perceived the almost unnoticeable new coloring their cheeks sported and she smiled knowingly, her eyes glinting with revulsion. 'Men like these are pigs!'

"What are you planning to do?" the light brown-haired one asked with caution.

One corner of her lips twitched up very slightly at the increased caution the one she just threatened seemed to have developed in the last few seconds. "Nothing to anyone in Zaibach." Their suspicious looks she ignored pointedly. "I understand the lack of trust," she said, nearly spitting the words. "But know this: whether or not Egzardia is Zaibach's ally, with every last drop of my blood, I shall make sure that Egzardia is razed to the ground. Do not even think of standing in my way when I do so, for I shall not blink an eye when I kill either of you."

The other two remained silent, letting her words sink in, weighing them at the same time.

The one with the darker shade of brown hair looked at her with slight interest. "And then?"

She scoffed as if she thought him stupid for asking such a question. "I shall willingly die if my execution is the payment. Worry not, for I keep my word. I will not attack your lord and perhaps he will be my lord for the span of time that I will join Zaibach's conquest. That is if he manages to earn my respect."

The two watched her with a mix of confusion and annoyance.

She struggled to stand up and reached for the bandage near her that the two would've probably used on her had they not been shocked by their discovery. Her loosened bandage dropped gradually.

Gatti for some reason had pushed Miguel to turn around with him. "Shouldn't you be more… tentative in uh… stripping and dressing up?" He asked in a somewhat uncertain voice.

She gave a sarcastic laugh. "I've been a commander of an army and I have trained as a man. I think I should just go out of this room and look for a dress, don't you think?"

Instead of being offended, Gatti felt slightly amused. He never had expected that their roommate was actually a girl who, he thought with minor uncertainty, he might actually learn to like. He looked at the smirking Miguel and knew instantly that his friend's inquisitive mind was turning restlessly.

"So, Tomi," Miguel, the one with a darker shade of brown hair started. "You're name is what? Therese?"

She snorted, half-amused and half-irritated. "It's Hitomi. But I've been using Tomi for so long to complete the impression that I'm a boy."

"Oh? I thought women liked being as they are to keep their hold on men."

"Women you must know, I can assume, are nothing but ill-bred ones. Seduction, I'm certain, is the one they use on people like you." Smiling wryly as she bandaged herself, she continued. "I assure you I'm not one of them. Woman as I am, I know how to use my brain and physical strength. Honestly, women are treated differently; either they are used as nothing more than a body to sleep with and perhaps something to impregnate, or they are treated like inferior creatures that need to be conniving in order to survive."

"You certainly are a woman," commented Gatti off-handedly. "You nag like one."

Swiftly cutting through the air, a knife so deadly sailed very nearly on Gatti's neck and hit the metal walling of the quarters, imbedding it self slightly but firmly. Both boys turned back and drew their swords, only to find the infernal woman finishing up with her armor.

She gave them a patronizing smirk before continuing with the task of getting herself properly suited as a soldier. "I purposely missed, mind you. But returning to the topic at hand, I am certain either of you will ask why I pretended to be a man." She stopped and ran a hand through her armor's right shoulder, dusting it. "The answer is simple; I wouldn't have led an army if I was known girl by many men except those I lead, who I might add, are respectable men that do not treat women unfairly."

"Why would you want to lead an army for?" interrupted Gatti, still slightly apprehensive at the knife that could've injured him fatally.

"I live to serve." She had finished dressing up and now made to sit on the bed, exhaustion catching up with her badly beaten body. She touched a bruised cheek slightly and then raised a brow at the staring males. "Would you rather I take back what I said about not doing anything to any Zaibachian? Or would you stop gawking at me this instant?"

Miguel slowly relaxed against his better judgment, sheathing his sword back and sitting on the same bed that the hazardous female occupied. "So you'd kill the Egzardian rulers for betraying Daedalus?"

Her harsh laughter was enough to cause the hair on both Gatti and Miguel's arms to stand. "I implied that one before, hadn't I? They would get what is coming to them. After that, I can die peacefully no matter how brutal the way to death would be for me." Her usually fury-filled green eyes turned amused for a moment. "Shall I bribe you with my body for us to keep this little gender issue a secret?"

At this, Gatti smirked. "No, thank you. I would rather have my manhood attached to myself for my plans of procreation after the war."

Miguel followed suit, his smirk even wider. "I will be blunt. We don't trust you completely, but, I'm sure we can work around it."

Hitomi became even more amused, even against her wishes. "Oh so you have no wishes of procreating in the future then?" She asked Miguel, her amusement clear in her green eyes.

"I have. But perhaps your wit would be enough for us to warm up to you."

She snorted. "I know you mean my wit that manages to always get me in your commander's painful side. Honestly, we might as well tell him that I'm a female. I'm sure he'd be very gleeful at the news; gleeful enough to tear me apart with his bare hands."

Gatti and Miguel exchanged a look before once again, raking the insolent female with undressing eyes. She noticed the scrutiny but merely raised a nonchalant brow.

"I don't really know," began Gatti. "But perhaps your sarcasm is unfounded. You may be worth something to the commander as a female that he would spare you–"

"I am not jumping into a bed with Albatou," she drawled haughtily.

Miguel smiled with true amusement, much to his and Gatti's surprise. "You'd never know. Then again, I'm sure there'd be instances where he'd not even need a bed for you. He's strong enough to hold both yours and his weight while standing."

Her eyes glinted with dangerously double-edged meaning. A part of her wanted to rip the soldier for his underlying perversion, yet another part of her was plainly amused. Smirking, she watched the confusion crowd the two boys' face at her contradictory reaction; the amused smirk and the warning glint she knew her eyes were showing off blatantly.

But maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. The confrontation had been alright and she couldn't feel anything bad about the two, except their disgustingly perverted male trait. Nevertheless, she would take this chance. If she could pull this off, Egzardia would soon be paying for selling them out to Zaibach during so many attacks.

-AAO-

The following day, his tortured new soldier was already in the formation, still standing and strong-willed. Yes, he found the one who could be his greatest soldier ever.

Dilandau approached him, the only standing slayer in the line. "You still wouldn't bend?"

"I don't bow down easily," the soldier said, voice full of truth.

"We'll see… we'll see."

"Respect," continued the soldier with defiance. "That's what a truly pleasing bow is founded on. It's not of fear."

Red eyes gleamed. The soldier was interesting him more and more. But of course, he never tolerated insubordination and before another second had passed, a loud slap resounded throughout the large assembly room.

-AAO-

Months had passed too quickly for Hitomi even as the war raged on in the background.

Luck had been with her for in the time that passed, even as her fellow soldiers trusted her not during the first few months. But soon enough, her usual exchange of witty remarks and insults with her two roommates began to bridge their differences. Trust soon began to fill in the gap, and before long, even the other slayers were beginning to trust her, seeing as how Gatti and Miguel seemed to get along with her.

And lately, she seemed to easily fit in the group as if she never was an enemy before. It could be her determination at wanting to pull this off well enough, or it could be that she really was just lucky. But it all ended just the same. She fitted like a lost piece of a puzzle. Amusement often caught up with her when she was alone to muse over the fact that the slayers most likely needed someone new to help them cope up with the obvious wreck the war subconsciously brought on to each of them.

She never feared her commander but as time wore on, she began to respect him, strange as it may seem. Despite the look in his scarlet eyes that told her he was standing at the edge of the cliff of sanity, his ways of protecting his slayers was still evident. He can slap them and punish them severely, true, but he allowed no one to treat them with disrespect; no one at all.

For someone like him who was raised in an environment of cruelty and power-play, it was a wonder he still hasn't jumped completely from the cliff he was trudging along on; and that was what had her learning to respect her commander. He was strong even if he had a morbid streak. He had held on to the little humane part on himself even when all his life he was trained to be a manipulative and cold bastard.

"Concentrate!" a commanding voice resounded before metal hit metal.

He was always being extra hard on her in training just like Lord Ganesha had been. He was always giving her extra and personal lessons. It was as if he was making her his strongest and most invincible soldier.

A diagonal slash from Dilandau made her stumble back in an attempt to evade it. Before any recovery on her part could be made, his foot had swept towards her feet. But she jumped, landed and held out her sword over her head to deflect a blow.

Their usual dance of death continued, as usual, its pace increasing instead of slowing down from stamina consumption. It was the same in the end, with her losing in the little dance.

She was breathing hard as she lay sprawled on the cold metal flooring. Dilandau's eyes gleamed with mocking glee as he withdrew his sword away from her neck.

"Am I interrupting?" inquired a cold voice suddenly, making them both look towards the door.

Dilandau sheathed his sword and reached a hand out to his fallen soldier. "Tomi, leave us."

She nodded after she stood up and bowed slightly before leaving the training room. When she had left, Dilandau immediately turned to glare at Helio Eides, one of the four generals who had taught him since he was five.

"What do you want?"

The older general smiled coldly. "Your father asked me to watch you."

Dilandau looked mockingly. "What? He finally decided that his son needed a nanny?"

"Perhaps," replied General Helio calmly as he walked towards a sword rack to inspect the weapons. "The Duke is displeased that you're getting too preoccupied with your new toy." Upon Dilandau's glare, the older general laughed. "Defensive, aren't we Dilandau? It's good that your new toy isn't a woman. That's a bigger trouble than you can fix. As we have taught you, emotions are the downfall of powerful men."

"If you are implying that I would begin to feel, I might as well kill you right now."

"Aggression. Good. I see you haven't let your toys get to you. But your new toy… you're paying too much attention to him."

"A relationship with a guy? Are you insulting me?" Dilandau growled aggressively.

"Of course not, Dilandau. I am merely pointing out that you might be wasting too much time shaping him. Remember, you might end up caring for your slayers more than necessary." Dilandau's mentor looked at him and again smiled coldly. "You cannot let yourself slip. Remember that."

The red-eyed general's hand found its way to the hilt of his sword. He hated his mentors more than he could ever hate anyone. They had taken away his chance at a normal life, thrusting him into this turbulent life full of wars and power-play. Someday, he'd make them pay.

His grip on the sword's hilt tightened.

But till that day, he'd just have to go on being what he was, a pawn for Zaibach to become the conqueror of Gaea.

-AAO-

"Early dismissal from extra classes?" asked Gatti with laughter in his voice as their female roommate entered the room and slumped on her bed.

"Lord Dilandau had someone."

Miguel smirked. "He should know you're a woman and maybe he wouldn't have someone else."

She threw a pillow hard at him. "Lord Dilandau isn't one for dallying. Besides, it's some old man."

Gatti frowned. "It's true then."

"What's true?" asked a puzzled Hitomi.

"General Eides is here. That was that old man," explained Miguel coldly. "Just so you'd know, you have to be extra careful around him."

"Yeah," agreed the other boy. "He'll always be out to have us executed. Apparently, he and other Zaibach officials find us a threat for some reason."

Green eyes glinted with its signature coldness. "The only officials I am planning to be a threat to are Egzardian officials. Once they make a wrong move, I'd get my chance to make them pay for selling me and Daedalus out. When that chance comes, I wouldn't tolerate anyone standing in my way."

"What if it was us?"

She fixed her gaze on Gatti. "Would you really stop me from killing them?"

"Not on my own will. But what if we have orders from Lord Dilandau?"

Her eyes hardened and became even more chilling. "Then that's when we'd meet as real enemies. I wouldn't let anyone stop me from claiming revenge." The tension in the room was thick and she stood up, walking to the door. "I'd be at the hangar."

When she had left, Gatti shook his head. "Let's hope we don't get to that point. She may be a woman, but she can dice anyone."

Miguel nodded, wondering what would really happen if they were really to fight Hitomi in a death match.

-AAO-

A few days later

Dilandau watched as his special soldiers moved out of the training room to wash up after an extra long, hard practice. The latest country that Zaibach was after had just surrendered and that left him much time in his hands.

He had been contemplating about his slayers for a long time and he was questioning their change of character when they thought he wasn't around.

He couldn't manipulate them to be like him and it was beginning to get on his nerves. Why can those bastard-mentors of his make him the way he was inside and outside battle when he couldn't shape his own soldiers that way?

Deciding to find some answers, he stood up and walked with his usual cat-like grace towards where his slayers would be.

"Shower up, Tomi," Guimel was heard saying. "Don't wait up for all of us to finish. I mean you don't have extra sessions with Lord Dilandau today."

"Actually, Tomi needs to clean up the room," interrupted Gatti spontaneously. "We've been having schedules and it's his turn, isn't that right Tomi?"

"Yes. And I have to finish the room up. Lord Dilandau–"

"Yeah, yeah, he still might give you extra practice. Before more time can pass, you're already the best there is," Viole cut in. "You're already damn good when you came here and with every extra sessions, you're bound to be Lord Dilandau's best warrior. Hey Gatti, aren't you threatened?"

Gatti snorted. "It doesn't matter. At least I don't get to be slapped as hard as Tomi. It's a wonder why he still has a face."

The others laughed.

"Hey, do you think Lord Dilandau would mind if I take a melef and go somewhere?"

There were some mumbles but then the curious voice of Chesta voiced out what most were mumbling about. "Tomi, where would you go?"

The room fell silent for a few seconds before Tomi voiced his answer. "To Daedalus."

The silence that followed was filled with tension so heavy that it was almost a literal heavy weight on each slayer.

"It's been long since Daedalus' downfall. I want to see what happened to the place I called home."

Someone coughed in an obvious attempt to break the tension.

"Zaibach didn't finish the attack, Egzardia did," one slayer had said.

"I've gathered as much and I intend to see what they did."

"You're not planning on attacking Egzardia, are you?" Another slayer asked. "Lord Dilandau would kill you if you do something reckless."

"I'd give Lord Dilandau no reason for an execution. I just want to see Daedalus."

"What about your family there?" Still another one asked.

"My father is dead. I've seen him die," Tomi said, voice as cold as a glacier. "And my sister, I'm not sure whether to accept if she really did die."

"I think Miguel and I need to ask some few tips from Tomi regarding room-cleaning."

There was not one protest and all was quiet. Footsteps headed to where Dilandau was standing, and he coolly stepped away into the shadows, red eyes looking at the three slayers a few feet away from him.

Gatti was frowning. "Sharing is good. But don't get us wrong. We're not forcing you to say anything. It's just that you're playing with fire if you keep everything pent up."

Miguel rolled his eyes at Gatti's dancing around the topic. "We usually talk about our past lives here. Unless you plan on shouldering everything alone, I suggest you spit some facts out."

The former Daedalusian soldier kept quiet for a while, as if gauging his choices but then, he gave a wry smile. "Very eager to dig up my past, aren't you Miguel? Well you're lucky that my mentor always told me it's good to talk once in a while, that it helps keep the pain become more tolerable. I am really tempted to just cut your chances at procreation for being demanding."

Both Miguel and Gatti smirked.

"I'm going to Daedalus," announced Tomi . "To survey what Egzardia did and I will find my sister."

"What would you do if you find her? You can't bring her here," pointed out Miguel.

"I'm going to give her a new life, away from the pains the war had caused. It may not be grand but at least she gets to live away from the fighting."

"Grand? Hey," murmured Gatti. "Did you forget to tell us that you are some royal or something?"

"Hardly. I'm just some slave given a chance to become someone great. My mentor and my lady had treated me like their own."

"So your sister is your lady?" Both slayer asked with disbelief.

"Yes. And I would find her and make those who hurt her pay dearly."

Miguel crossed his arms across his chest, frowning. "Zaibach attacked your country. You're not planning on assassinating Lord Dilandau, are you?"

Amused laughter from both Gatti and Tomi followed forth.

"What's so funny?" asked the impatient slayer.

"Lord Dilandau has given me a chance in seeking my revenge," Tomi pointed out. "I'm not about to waste it. I'll get Egzardia."

Miguel's brows furrowed. "As much as I hate Egzardia, that blasted country is an ally."

"You think so?" interrupted an amused Gatti. "They're back-stabbing fools. They were the ones who conquered so many countries with Daedalus and then they turned their back on that country to side with Zaibach. They're just our ally as long as we can be of use and they could save their stupid asses. The reason why I'm in this war is because they attacked my home and sold me as a slave!"

"When Egzardia starts revealing their true colors," began a suddenly cold Tomi. "They're good as dead."

"You can't take them all."

Tomi snorted. "Of course not, Miguel. But I'm taking most of the royals I can get my sword to slash. In the meantime, I'll have to find my sword."

"You have a sword."

"I'm referring to the sword given by my mentor. I will use that to slay his traitors and offer their downfall to him."

"You can't expect it to be still where you lost it."

"No, of course not," the green-eyed one answered with slight impatience at Miguel, who seemed to contradict her every sentence in that discussion. "Besides, I was caught outside Daedalus. But I will find it one way or another. And with it, royal Egzardian blood will flow."

"What if you don't find it?"

The cruelty that laced the voice cracked with full, brutal candor. "How does torture sound to any of you?"

Dilandau's scarlet eyes gleamed with approval as he turned stealthily away from the three slayers. He walked away without anyone noticing, a vindictive leer gracing his beautiful face. 'Yes. You will be my best slayer. As for Egzardia, you will get your chance… that pathetic two-faced country will get what it deserves. I've got a feeling it wouldn't be long before they attempt to betray Zaibach.'

-o-o-o-

Like a wood to a fire, anger and hatred was used…

But the fire produced was of searing cold…

Of freezing fury that slowly creeps up and sends delicious chills of fear down ones spine…

Be wary… master your emotions…

Or they will master you…

You might find yourself…

-"Motivated by Anger and Hatred"-

-o-o-o-

Fire burned everywhere.

People screamed in fear and in pain as they ran for their dear lives. Houses and any other infrastructure were destroyed. And blood… the precious burgundy wine of each living inhabitant soaked the land.

The country of Basram was under attack by Zaibach forces. Its capital was handed over for Dilandau's special troops to deal with.

From her position way above in the cockpit of her melef, Tomi Kanzaki destroyed all those who stood in her way. Their mission was clear…

Destroy everything.

But hers was a little more than that. She was to retrieve the King of Basram and bring him back to the Vione.

So many guards were in her way and soon, her melef was a little more damaged than she would've been able to manage. The damages were hindering her. She could hardly move in the speed she liked, the speed she needed.

Basram had been clever enough to know of Zaibach melefs' stealth and had devised a way to make them visible. They had used paint. An almost invisible string was all over the place and once triggered, made paint pour forth from all direction.

"Miguel! Gatti! Back me up!" She yelled through her radio.

"Coming," said the two, maneuvering their melef towards their roommate.

Her movements were slow due to her damaged melef. If she stayed where she was, she would be dead in the next moment. Not even her crima claws would help.

When her two friends reached her, she decided a best way to accomplish her mission.

"I'm going down," she muttered. "Give me thirty minutes or so and meet me at the castle's main tower."

Before her friends could argue over her plan, her melef had forced its way through the many melefs guarding the palace. In an unexpected moment, the cockpit opened and she jumped out, running for the entrance.

"Damn!" muttered Gatti as he blocked a melef from completely slicing him.

-AAO-

Reaching the entrance alive was harder than she thought. Basram melefs were all over the place and so were guards.

"Get him!"

"He's getting away!"

"Stop him!"

Hitomi spun around with her sword slashing through armors and skins in an instant. She looked further at where she had ran mere moments before, seeing many fallen bodies scattered in the place and more soldiers running her way. Without wasting time, she ran faster, her heavy sword getting heavier and heavier as her strength and stamina were pushed to the limits from the fighting she had engaged in.

With every twist and turn in the palace, she had lost the soldiers running after her. She smirked. The point where many who infiltrated were supposed to be clueless about was on where they were headed for. However, she was a different case.

Closing her eyes and focusing her attention in her mind's eye, she saw a very familiar swinging pendant in the dark. Unbidden for, a dull pain started to close around her, making her remember…

Screaming voices full of fear… the running and pushing… and faces she recognized as her family… as her friends…

She opened her eyes quickly and ran to a certain direction, as if to run away from an uninvited stream of stabbing memories.

-AAO-

"Where are they?" Dilandau's voice boomed through the hangar of the flying fortress.

The lined out slayers feared what Dilandau was going to do. They have been forced to retreat by the unexpected reinforcements sent by Chezario, a loyal ally of Basram. By Basram alone, they were outnumbered and the only advantages they had was their stealth and crima claws. But with Basram's paint idea, the crima claws were the only ones left.

"They are just some casualties," said someone in a hauntingly emotionless voice.

Dilandau's red eyes focused on the shadows. A mere second later, a very familiar man to Dilandau appeared.

"General Getin," acknowledged Dilandau in a tone that made the name seemed like a foul thing, an insult even.

The general ignored the tone and leered. "You're not planning on rescuing them, are you? In wars, there are always casualties. If you are really a strong fighter, you will not let their deaths affect you."

"Do not tell me what to do!" yelled Dilandau heatedly.

"I suppose retreating wasn't an order to you?" asked the old general arrogantly.

Scarlet eyes flared in fury and before anyone could anticipate what would happen, Dilandau already had his sword on General Getin Gus' neck.

"Do not taunt me!"

The general's leer widened. "My death wouldn't change a thing and you know that."

The cold metal of the sword pressed more on the older general's neck, drawing blood. But then the sword withdrew and it fell to the metal flooring of the Vione heavily, causing a loud clang to reverberate in the big hangar.

Dilandau did not bother to pick up the sword he dropped and merely walked away, fuming at how everything was going at that moment.

-AAO-

"She'd come," Gatti said in a firm voice as he leaned on to the cold stone wall of the cell he and Miguel were in.

"Why didn't they kill us?"

Gatti's lips tugged at the corner in a wistful smile. "That's my brother, blessing us from above."

Miguel snorted. "Blessing us? Maybe he's just blessing you and I happen to have tagged along so his blessing ran out and we got captured."

"It's better than dying, right? Maybe–"

"Do you still believe in that? There are no maybes in life especially in wars. What happens is what is there. You can't do anything about it."

"What about Tomi? Didn't she change her life?"

"Was she able to save her family when Daedalus was betrayed?"

Gatti sighed. "So maybe you're slightly right. But that doesn't stop me from having something like hope. She'd come for us. Whether you like it or not, the three of us are more of a family than we would have liked to admit. These months she's in our room, it wasn't so bad. And you know that."

Miguel nodded and looked up at the faint light of the moon seeping through the metal bars of their cell. "It's been so long since I've seen someone who's willing to keep her family… even in memories."

"It's not anymore. Tomi is here. Maybe she can bring back our hope that wars aren't forever."

"Don't you hear her when she talks? She could die after she gives her mentor and sister their honor back through revenge."

Gatti shook his head. "But we wouldn't let her die. We're her family now… even the other slayers… and even Lord Dilandau. We're all she has left. Do you even bother to remember what she says when she talks to us in our room?"

"Yeah… it's always about family. It makes me wonder how she can turn into a monster in battles when she seems so different whenever family is concerned."

"Anger. Hatred. That's how she does things. She turns her anger and hatred into a fuel. It's all about revenge for her. Her eyes turn so cold in battles that it scares me. Lord Dilandau was almost like that before."

Miguel glanced at Gatti. "You were among the first to be dragged into the war… was Lord Dilandau really like that?"

"Yes, in a way. But his eyes always burned with hatred and anger for his family and for his mentors. With Tomi, it's different in a way that hers froze for her family's enemies… for Egzardia."

"What difference does it make?"

With a smirk, Gatti explained. "Hitomi does not hesitate. Lord Dilandau does, well, mainly because he's thinking of torturous ways to kill his enemies. But her? Just as long as it's death for her enemies, she couldn't care less for the details."

Miguel nodded. "She said she saw her mentor die…"

"Egzardia betrayed Daedalus and her mentor wouldn't have died if–"

"It's still the same."

"No. He'd die but not because of betrayal. For really noble sword masters like Balgus Ganesha, it's one of the bad ways to die. It's almost like knowing that they have once called filthy, low-life bastards one of them."

-AAO-

She ducked into the nearest room. Just as her other dreams that came to her in her wakefulness, her latest dream came true. Basram had had reinforcements from Chezario.

She cursed inwardly as she spun around and surveyed the room she was in. It was a big room, dark and eerie in atmosphere. From the racks of different weapons on every side of the room, she surmised it was a training room, most likely for the male royals of Basram.

As she took a step forward, the familiar pink pendant suddenly invaded her thoughts. The only times she could see the pendant was when she had her eyes closed and she was picturing it. But now, she was sure her eyes were open.

The pendant swung forward before it disappeared.

She shook her head, trying to clear it from any uncalled-for thoughts. But something in her made her walk forward into the darkest portion of the room.

She kept walking and walking until the pendant suddenly appeared again. It was spinning, faster and faster. She clutched her head and sunk on her knees.

'Stop! Stop!' screamed her mind uselessly.

Her eyes shut tightly in their own accord. And after an unknown time, the spinning stopped and she opened her eyes. They widened almost suddenly as she noticed for the first time that she wasn't in the dark room in Basram's palace anymore.

Before her was a peaceful village where happy laughter could be heard. She remained rooted to where she was kneeling, still watching the village with wide green eyes.

"Hitomi? What are you doing? Come let's play," a small voice said somewhere at her back.

She gasped and turned her head slightly, green eyes meeting with resplendently blue eyes. Her mouth opened but her voice was gone and tears stung her marvelous green eyes until the salty liquid blurred her eyesight.

When she blinked, the tears fell and she found herself once again in the dark training room of the palace.

'A dream…'

She stood up quickly and looked back at the wall in front of her. Her hands reached out to feel its surface for something, a button perhaps. She pushed when she couldn't find anything and the wall slid backwards.

The pendant appeared amidst the darkness before her eyes and it swung forward.

Following it, she walked through the dark hall surely, not at all afraid or worried to stumble over something.

-AAO-

The bottle of liquor hit the wall and shattered into many pieces.

It had been merely hours since their retreat from Basram's capital, hours since he lost three of his best slayers.

"That is enough, Dilandau," sounded the commanding voice of General Helio Eides from the door of his room.

Scarlet eyes overflowing with ferocity fixed on the approaching general. "What do you want?"

"The Duke–"

"I don't give a damn! He can go kill himself! The hell I care!"

"So you'd drink yourself to death simply because you've lost three toys?" Cold laughter followed. "How weak. In wars like this, there will always be dead people and you know that. Get yourself a dozen new slayers if that would appease you."

A sharp-bladed dagger sailed through the air swiftly and passed through the general's jaw before imbedding itself on the wall.

"You cannot even throw a dagger right," commented the general as he reached out a hand to touch his wound. "Is this what all the years of training yields? If you weren't the Duke's son, I'd kill you personally."

Dilandau's crazy laughter echoed jarringly in the enormous room. "Watch your back, Helio. I'm not a little boy anymore."

General Eides merely stared at Dilandau with unworried eyes before walking out of the room. The fear-provoking laughter of the Duke's son followed him through the halls. But it was what he had expected.

"Yes… become unfeeling and be the best for Zaibach," muttered the old general with a malevolent smile upon his lips.

-AAO-

Her green eyes glinted from the faint light of the moon, showing through the windows high above her. Narrowing her eyes slightly, she walked stealthily towards the shadows and waited patiently.

'They would pay,' her mind kept saying. 'They would pay.'

The small hairs at the back of her neck stood up. Her eyes grew colder and in the next instant, she moved from her hidden position and lunged forward. The victim wasn't able to even cry out. She looked coldly upon the dead body before her for a moment, the distinctive snapping of the dead soldier's neck still ringing in her ears, diverting her attention from going over her plan for a split second.

From down the hallway, she could hear approaching steps and she hurriedly dragged the body inside the room she had been from. Quickly, she switched her clothing with the dead man's and stepped out of the room as if nothing had happened. Soon enough, two soldiers came her way.

"Hey," one soldier said. "The king needs more guards. There's no telling when Zaibach would attack again."

She bent her head low as if she was looking for something on the floor.

"What's wrong, soldier?" asked the other one.

"I… I… I just lost my brother," she muttered in a male voice she had perfected a long time ago.

"Boy, this is a war! Come," the first one said and pulled her away.

She continued her farce, looking as if she was in her own world and not hearing any of the soldiers' ranting about the war and its casualties. At length, they arrived in front of two massive doors.

"Go inside, boy."

"Why aren't there any guards outside?" She asked, head still bowed slightly as if still mourning. "My brother always told me that–"

"We lack people now."

"Didn't Chezario send–"

"They immediately drew away after helping us. Chezario is under attack now. Their king seemed to need more protection."

She nodded and pushed open the doors.

"We found this one in one of the hallways," the one who always talked explained to the soldiers. "We'll go find some new ones lost in the palace."

The rest nodded and let her in.

From the corner of her eyes, she observed the guards in the room and noted anything she might need in the future.

'Eleven guards,' she thought after a quick survey. She looked at their hands, rested on the hilt of their swords. 'Ready, aren't we?'

The corner of the room had another set of massive doors, where most of the guards were concentrated on and she guessed that was where the King and the other royalties were currently cowering in. She almost smirked at the thought.

The room was big. Big enough for her to fight in and live if she used her cards well enough. Looking above slightly, she saw a big metal chandelier hanging through a metal chord that passed through a metal support before flowing down. She traced the chord with her eyes and found that it was bolted to one of the walls, near a torch.

A plan began forming through her mind. The long drop and weight of the chandelier would kill the two guards under it. That would leave nine more guards, who would then be alerted of an intruder. Nine was still a bad thing though.

She could fight two to three people at a time with her hard training under Dilandau, even four people when she was well warmed-up. But nine was plainly suicide. And even if she could run to where the King was, there was no telling her if there were guards inside.

'The strongest chain is always the weakest one,' thought Hitomi. 'In this case, the strongest point aside from number would be them knowing of my presence. So what could make them not notice me when I attack?'

"The candles are almost burning out," commented one guard, looking up at the candles in the chandelier.

She smiled inwardly. 'Thanks for the idea. Now how do I get the lights to go out before they decide to get some candles?'

Her eyes scanned the area. The torches in the room only lit the sides of the big room. Before they could even realize where her exact location was, they'd be dead one by one.

The pendant swung forward, to the direction of where the chord was bolted. She closed her eyes briefly as if to ask for some strength. Casually then, she walked towards her destination as if she was just going to stand there.

-AAO-

"You'll both be dead and it would be a shout to Zaibach that they would never win against us!" The prince, heir to Basram's throne, stood on the other side of the cell.

"Why don't you just execute us now then?" taunted an irate Miguel. "Afraid?"

The prince glared. "I want you two to die publicly. You two will be tortured in the morning."

Gatti rolled his eyes. The prince talked much and his topic of painful execution wasn't very endearing.

"You didn't succeed now, and you never will." With that, the prince walked away with an air of sureness.

-AAO-

She pulled her sword away from the soldier. 'Nine,' she counted.

The darkness was her partner. Her opponents could not last longer than a few seconds against her. In a blink, the pendant in her mind appeared again and swung to her back.

She spun around and was in sync with the crashing sword. The clang was loud. She kicked her enemy and slashed through the air, sure that she would slice skin.

'Ten.'

The pendant swung to her right and she ducked, narrowly avoiding the wildly slashing sword, its wielder probably hoping to hit her. Sweeping her foot on the ground, it hit two feet and without thinking, she plunged her sword to that ground, hearing the cry of pain of a person dying painfully.

'Eleven.'

Sheathing her sword, she walked towards where the pendant was leading her to. She stopped when it stopped and she was sure that she was in front of the massive doors which led to the King.

'If I rush in, there's no turning back. Either I come out with the King, or I die,' thought Hitomi, weighing her chances.

But then, she could hear the shouting voices of the past and her anger soared. She could still picture the discussions of the leaders of Basram with the leaders of Egzardia, Chezario, and Daedalus regarding their first venture of domination, of their discussions with Egzardia and Chezario regarding their plan of leaving Daedalus to save themselves.

Her dream had visited her at the end of the tunnel, showing her what happened. And she had seen so many plans, laid out on the big circular table. She had seen treaties and signed blackmails and so many things that fueled her hatred.

'Two families,' she thought coldly. 'They took away two families from me.'

She closed her eyes tightly, forcing away her tears. She breathed again and again as if to dispel her fatigue away before she pushed open the doors, ready to face whatever was on the other side.

-tbc-