Omg, thanks to all who reviewed. Yay! I feel as though I, too, have a purpose. Seriously, thanks for being so positive (but its ok to be negative, too). And yes, I write really polite lemon. I'm so sick of reading all the graphic rubbish.
By the by, I don't own Tank Girl or AD or anything therein.
Rebel soldiers noisily filled the mess hall, trying to maintain some normality in their lives by socialising. Chiyo-chan, Sakaki-san, Yomi-san and Tomo-chan sat at one end of a long table, a small piece of quiet surrounding them. Chiyo-chan wrinkled her nose at the partitioned plate.
"I thought food at Main Base was supposed to be better," she sighed, following the convention that if you can't identify fifty per cent of your meal, mash it with what you do recognise and pray. The others did the same.
"It usually is," Sakaki-san murmured. "I'm not sure why it is worse than even our rations. Maybe only officers eat well now." Sakaki-san frowned.
"Well that's not fair!" Tomo-chan exclaimed. "Do you see that many officers on the field getting their uniforms dirty with anyone's blood?" Angrily she ground the peas with something best described as 'orange'.
"Maybe the commander has decided that too much rich food isn't best for an army," Yomi-san said quietly, her glasses fogged.
"You two outrank him - tell him to give us decent food!" Tomo-chan whispered, her face scrunched up.
Chiyo-chan gaped at her plate. "I outrank him. I outrank Kenshin. Oh my god, I can call him Kenshin and get away with it!"
"I wouldn't advise it. It doesn't do to show up senior officers, especially the man everyone thinks is the commander of this army." Sakaki-san said gently.
"If everyone thinks that, why isn't he?" Chiyo-chan asked, her face crinkled in an expression of perplexity.
"The Order of the Phoenix comes first," Yomi-san shrugged. "That's all there is to it. Only, not many people know that the other phoenix are commanders too."
"So why doesn't he kick us out? No one else would know," Chiyo-chan pointed out.
"But he would. He's in the minority among the phoenix, and he needs us." Yomi-san sighed. She took a deep breath, loaded her fork, closed her eyes and shoved the food into her mouth. "Oh god," she muttered. Swallowing hurriedly she looked at the others. "It's best not to chew, I think."
After their brief altercation with the alleged food, the four made their way to the commander's office. It turned out to be a building located oddly strategically in the middle of Main Base.
"If I were a Merchant wondering where the head office would be for, say, an assassination attempt, I'd have to say this would be my first target," Tomo-chan frowned, putting her hands on her hips.
"And if she can see that, we're in real trouble," Yomi-san muttered to Sakaki-san and Chiyo-chan. The three covered smiles as Tomo-chan rounded angrily.
"I'll have you know-!"
"Ah, good morning ladies," a cool voice said, interrupting Tomo-chan. Kenshin strode out of the building looking for all the world like a businessman in black suit and white shirt. Chiyo-chan coughed delicately.
"Commander, we are soldiers of war. If we wished to be addressed as 'ladies', we would be wearing more unsuitable garb consisting of, perhaps, long skirts and impractical bodices." Chiyo-chan pointed out, indicating their desert boots, black or red pants tucked into them (depending on rank) and all wearing plain black tee shirts. Dog tags dangled and jingled around their necks.
Kenshin ducked his head slightly. "Of course; do forgive me," he said smoothly, meeting their eyes once again. "Please, come inside."
"His actual office, it's on the top floor, isn't it?" Tomo-chan whispered to Yomi-san as they entered the cool building.
"Yes, Tomo-chan," Yomi-san sighed.
"So he can overlook the entire operation and feel superbly smug about it, I imagine," Chiyo-chan muttered under her breath. Sakaki-san gave her young lover a wry smile.
After climbing the three flights of stairs and passing dozens of guards, the four women were led into a room that held a huge round table, each seat supplying a good view of every other seat. Kenshin had 'chosen' to forego a guest - at Chiyo-chan's orders. None of the women moved until Kenshin had firmly closed and locked the door behind him. Swiftly Sakaki-san moved to the chair behind the blank, black desk label. Chiyo-chan sat beside her, behind the blank red desk label. Kenshin sat behind the orange label, Yomi-san behind the blue. Tomo-chan stood behind Yomi-san, feet squared, hands clasped loosely behind her back. Chiyo-chan would have bet good money that Tomo-chan intended to guard Yomi-san for a very long time - and had at least one weapon hidden somewhere on her person.
"First and foremost," Sakaki-san said, leaning forward. "Why is the food getting so damn bad?"
Kenshin blushed. "Our resources are stretched, commander," he said after a moment. "The Merchants find our water sources faster and faster - our farms are drying up. We are not serving them rotten food, but only the food that we have. Which, I'm afraid to say, is progressively worse and worse quality. Soon enough we'll all be on air locked rations." Kenshin sighed. "Which brings me to our main problem, Sakaki-san. We cannot keep enough consistent water for the entire army, all the farms, and general civilians."
"How are they finding out we're stealing their water?" Chiyo-chan asked, frowning slightly.
"We suspect, Red Phoenix, that electronic bugs are being placed in the water, and our waterways are being tracked."
"You came up with that pretty fast," Chiyo-chan said.
"Because that is how we used to find their water, when we had someone on the inside. They have no doubt found our past bugs and are using them against us." Kenshin shrugged.
"And whose brilliant idea was it to go against the design for bugs that would have dissolved after a
time?" Yomi-san asked quickly.
"Well why don't we sieve out the bugs? I want our ten best IT designers to start working on a program we can net across the beginnings of all our waterways, ok? Every single one, whether its stolen or not. Do it now, Kenshin." Sakaki-san ordered. She stepped out of the Black Phoenix seat and stood behind Chiyo-chan as Kenshin opened the door and gave the order. Chiyo-chan glowed with pride.
Kenshin returned and closed the door once more. Sakaki-san resumed her seat.
"What is the next matter you wish to discuss, Black Phoenix?" Kenshin asked politely. Sakaki-san leaned forward in her chair slightly.
"They know who I am, Kenshin. There have been two separate attempts on my life, and Red Phoenix and I were held in a Merchant prison. How was this information leaked?"
Kenshin lowered his eyes.
"And don't tell me someone penetrated the Rebel forces. You would have been able to sense them." Sakaki-san frowned as Kenshin searched for a way out.
"You haven't been regularly inspecting our troops, have you?" Yomi-san said, her quiet voice twisted with outrage.
"Or perhaps you wanted the post of Black Phoenix to be available," Chiyo-chan growled. Kenshin squirmed.
"You allowed assassins to put my entire squad in danger!" Sakaki-san lunged at Kenshin across the table; before he even had a chance to move, Sakaki-san was kneeling on the table with her hands around his throat. "Give me one reason, one fucking reason, why I shouldn't kill you now."
Kenshin gurgled, his eyes bulging and hands pulling uselessly at Sakaki-san's killer grip.
"Chiyo-chan, get his arms. Yomi-san, Tomo-chan, guard the door." Sakaki-san ordered. Immediately the women did as they were instructed. Sakaki-san loosened her grip around the traitor's neck as Chiyo-chan had his arms twisted behind his chair.
"Why have you betrayed the Order, Kenshin?" Sakaki-san asked bitterly.
"I never wanted to spend the rest of my life with lower classes," he replied hoarsely.
Suddenly someone started thumping the door from outside. Tomo-chan swore.
"They're ramming the door, Sakaki-san!" Tomo-chan shouted, pulling a gun from the small of her back. Another was speedily removed from inside her trouser leg and thrown to Yomi-san. The door shook on its hinges.
"You fucking idiot," Sakaki-san punched Kenshin hard across the face.
"What do we do, Sakaki-san?" Chiyo-chan asked softly. Her eyes were wide.
"It won't take them long, major!" Yomi-san shouted above the thudding.
Sakaki-san growled as she tore Kenshin's shirt open with her bare hands, revealing a huge orange phoenix tattooed on his chest. The eyes were empty. A knife was pulled from Kenshin's own belt, and Sakaki-san cut a giant 'x' through the tattoo. Kenshin howled; the major had cut right down to the bone. With a quick thrust she slid the knife through his rib cage and sunk the blade deep into his heart. Blood rushed from the wound and blood trickled out of Kenshin's mouth.
The door burst open, revealing two Rebel soldiers with blue shirts underneath their green garb. Tomo-chan shot them both without a thought.
"The phoenix heart had already left him," Sakaki-san said, breathing heavily. "The eyes were empty. Even when Yukari-chan died, the eyes were still bright until we cremated her. I could feel them." Sakaki-san sighed, and sat back on the table. Her hands were covered in blood.
More Rebel soldiers, genuine ones, thundered down the hall and burst through the door. Yomi-san and Tomo-chan still had their guns raised. Instantly the soldiers raised their own weapons, and the atmosphere became painfully thick.
"Weapons down, all of you," Sakaki-san ordered. "I am Major Sakaki-san! Put your weapons down!" Sakaki-san roared. After a moment's hesitation, all guns were lowered. The soldiers stared at Kenshin's body.
"As of now, Red Phoenix, Chiyo-chan, runs this army." Yomi-san announced.
"Lock the base off. I want no soldiers to leave, do you hear? None at all. No one is to get out of here today." Chiyo-chan ordered. Three soldiers ran to do her bidding. The Red Phoenix turned to her friends. "Now we inspect the troops, all of them, here at base. We're looking for the Orange Phoenix, and Merchant spies."