Disclaimer: I don't own Full Metal Panic! I occasionally play in its world, though, purely for entertainment purposes.

Believe it or not, this story is actually (very very extremely) loosely based off of a supposedly true event that happened to an acquaintance of mine…wow, that was a lot of qualifiers…

Other than that, it's completely random. Enjoy.

Painting by Number

By Sciathan File

"Remind me why we're here again?"

There was a look of utter disdain on Kaname Chidori's face as she pointed at the sign over their destination.

Kyouko snapped a picture of her friend's expression. Photography was about capturing life…even life's less than grateful (or extremely annoyed) side. The objects of her annoyance, Shinji and Sousuke were farther up the path, Sousuke in khaki combat fatigues and heavy military issue boots that he claimed he bought at a military supply store.

His pack was bulging with who knew what…it must have weighed about a billion pounds. He looked in high spirits….well, he looked slightly less serious, which Kyouko supposed was high spirits for Sousuke.

She snapped a picture of him and Shinji debating over the specifications of the M-9 in the latest issue of Arm Slave Monthly.

Kaname, however, continued to be as far from a good mood as she got without outbursts of violence.

Suddenly she burst out, "Why not the beach? What was wrong with that? There was a festival in a shrine near us, what about that? Why here? WHY?"

She gestured up to the sign dramatically.

The words, "Happy Shooting Paintball" were stenciled on it.

"Kana-chan, you knew we were coming here from the beginning," Kyouko pointed out reasonably.

"Yes, but vacations are important for a girl in her senior year of high school! She should be ANYWHERE but HERE with someone like THAT!" She pointed at Sousuke's back with a gesture more reminiscent of a stabbing motion than anything else.

Sousuke tensed up out of habit, gripping the magazine a little tighter than he intended and additionally, causing Shinji to wonder if he should move away from the potential line of fire.

Kyouko sighed, turned back to her best friend, and stealthily dropped her voice, "You didn't have to come just because Sagara-kun wanted to come as well."

The effect of the statement on Kaname was no less than if Kyouko had physically slapped her.

Kaname instantly turned a beet red color and sputtered, "Hah hah hah ha! Someone had to keep that big military otaku in line, especially at an event like this! Wouldn't want him blowing someone up, or shooting innocent bystanders, or getting a bit too involved in military tactics, or releasing a clothing eating virus or…"

Her enumeration of Sousuke's less than graceful moments continued as her walking pace suddenly doubled as she sped ahead of even Sousuke and Shinji without paying the least attention to any obstacle she might encounter along the way.

Sousuke attempted to intervene, reaching for her arm, but he was the last person she wanted to see at that moment.

Bam!

She collided with something slightly round and squishy.

Tilting her head upwards she saw giant of a man with a baldhead that glinted brightly in the sun. He was wearing leather jacket and a safety pin pierced through his eyebrow.

He had a face like a pig. The pig…err…man, spoke, "Hello there, pretty young miss. Shouldn't you be polite and excuse herself?"

The man even smelled like pig. Adding insult to injury, he then reached out for some parts of Kaname's that he really shouldn't have…

It was at that moment that Kaname was dead certain he was a pig.

Kaname's eyes widened in shock and instinctively she put a hand up in front of her face and exercised her athletic prowess in talking several large, incredibly fast steps backwards. Seeing the situation, Sousuke immediately rolled on the ground, ending in a crouching position directly in front of her.

"Chidori!"

"Oh ho!" exclaimed the large pig-like man in a voice far too creepily cheerful, "I see, the little rude miss has a little rude boyfriend!"

Kaname began to protest at the use of the term "boyfriend" but she was distracted by Sousuke rummaging through his knapsack and eventually bringing out a large firearm.

It most definitely wasn't a paintball gun.

Seeing the gun in his opponent's hand, the pig man chuckled to himself. To Kaname's ears it sounded like oinking. She shook the image off. That was not what she needed to be thinking about at this time. The man snapped his pudgy fingers…

Thirty other similarly unfortunate looking men crowded around him.

The one directly behind him, with hair like a black greasy mop, lumbered up and turned to the first.

"Yo, Akuma, having trouble?"

"It seems that delicious little morsel lacks proper manners, and her little boy toy seems to be looking for a challenge…"

"Oh ho!" laughed the new hooligan, and he was joined by 29 other dubious looking individuals giving the same "Oh ho!"

Perhaps it was a bizarre kind of cult of ugly Oh-Hoing people…

Meanwhile, Kyouko had grabbed Shinji and wisely dragged him off to one side (but not without taking a few pictures) and the two were observing the confrontation from a distance.

Shinji was trembling, placing his arms protectively over his copy of Arm Slave Monthly.

"Do you suppose Sagara-san and Kaname-san will be alright?"

Kyouko pondered this for a moment and said after some consideration, "Sagara-kun and Kana-chan make a formidable team…."

As if to underscore Kyouko's appraisal of the situation, Sousuke fired his TMP, knocking out three of the men cold with a round of rubber bullets.

Kyouko snapped another picture of Kaname apparently egging her serious otaku protector on…or she might have been shaking a fist at him for being a tad overzealous in his efforts to protect her…it was difficult to tell.

Sadly, Kyouko did not get to find out, either.

Suddenly, a great bear of a man had grabbed both her and Shinji and tucked them each under arms as big as tree trunks. Shinji let out a whimper as he saw where they were carrying them…straight into the fray.

Sousuke was the first one to spot them. He lowered his weapon ever so slightly and regarded the change in the situation.

"These cuties belong to you, Mister Shoot -'Em-Up?"

Shinji was crying by now and looked as if he might wet himself, Kyouko looked somewhere between disgusted (the man was extremely hairy and by his smell, probably hadn't showered in the duration in which he hadn't shaved) and frightened.

In response, Sousuke raised the gun again and loaded a fresh clip of ammunition.

"I will now notify you that it is against military protocol to negotiate with terrorists. You must release the prisoners or I will dispose of you with extreme prejudice regardless of the presence of hosta-"

Kaname's halisen then did what it was best at.

"WRONG! You big military otaku jerk! What happened to your brain? That's Kyouko and Shinji and this isn't some stupid war…"

Sousuke, however, did not lower the gun.

By this time, Shinji was crying all the harder and Kyouko no longer cared about the man's deficiencies in hygiene.

But it wasn't their captor they were frightened of now.

"Chidori," he said, the note of seriousness still in his voice, "You must understand there is no negotiations in these kinds of situations."

Shinji whimpered.

Kaname knew that she would have to try a different tactic to get inside that muddled military head of Sousuke's…not to mention get them out of this situation, preferably unharmed.

And surely, no one was more resourceful than Kaname Chidori.

With as much dignity as she could muster in the tension filled situation, she exhaled and drew herself up straight.

"Sergeant Sagara!" She stated solemnly, "You are in peril of a court martial for mixing civilian and military matters as you are currently doing!"

The assembled ruffians murmured amongst themselves.

Sousuke was suddenly sweating bullets…Kaname wouldn't go so far as to reveal his association to Mithril in order to save her friends, would she?

Continuing on with her plan she commanded, "Do you intend to show further insolence to your commanding officer by disobeying her orders, and by doing so, bring further dishonor the JSDF Special Ops, Sergeant? You have already caused me to reveal our identities through your rash actions, soldier!"

Kaname hope that would explain why high school students were carrying fire arms in a country where they were illegal…but then again, these people probably had the I.Q. of mayonnaise…

She fervently hoped Sousuke had gotten the hint though.

"Commanding officer, Chidori?"

She sighed, of course he hadn't understood.

She jabbed her elbow into his stomach ferociously, also bringing her halisen down on his head.

"That's what we do to those who show insubordination, Sergeant! You should refer to me as Commander Chidori!"

He stood up rather stiffly and mechanically saluted, the majority of his usual military preciseness wavering in uncertainty.

"Yes!" he paused, mulling over the next words, "Commander!"

Now he had gotten the act…it was not bad for Sousuke….that wasn't to say he was good though…

The idiot military otaku hadn't figured out he only needed to play himself…Kaname sighed inwardly.

Kaname only hoped that she had not overestimated Sousuke or underestimated the intelligence of her…er…."adversary" seemed like far too high level of a vocabulary word for them.

Thus far the gambit hadn't paid off…the pig-like leader hadn't put down Shinji and Kyouko yet…leaving her no choice but to go to Plan B…

Truth be told, the entire concept of the convenient "Plan B" in American cinema had always bothered her. No normal person made so many ridiculous conveniently lettered security plans.

And when she said "normal" she simply meant, "Anyone-Who-Is-Not-Sousuke."

But Kaname Chidori, despite the fact that she was facing a throng of punks with faces only their mother's could love, despite that she was at a paintball arena instead of a beach trip like a normal teenage girl, despite the fact that an idiot military otaku was aiming a gun at her best friends as well as the punks, and…well to hell with everything else, no one was allowed to mess up the remainder of the pitiful vacation she had!

Unsheathing her halisen yet again, she executed Operation: Plan B!

The collective group of punks gasped as she pointed the fan directly at the group's pig-like leader.

Again, there was a general sound of murmuring among the crowd…For once the Boss had gone too far and taken on the military. No one knew whom they should fear more now, the fierce looking man in front with his bag of artillery or his commander with the fan.

Their ugly faces held a collective thought…

"Aw, crap."

And now that she had that fan, that girl certainly looked about as frightening as facing down a man with an automatic rifle…

"You!" She exclaimed suddenly in a steely voice, holding her fan at the ready.

The Boss flinched noticeably.

Kyouko, despite her less than optimal angle, managed to take a photograph of her fearsome friend.

Suddenly Sousuke stood up. His rifle still stretched in front of him.

"We shall solve this honorably, as fitting of the military organization I represent," he said solemnly.

Kaname was dumbstruck.

Sousuke took no notice, he continued on.

"I shall make a bet with you. I will challenge you to three games at this establishment. You may use any tactics you deem necessary with the equipment provided. It will be the best out of three. If we win, you will release the hostages without any unnecessary collateral damage. Thus, we will all emerge from this situation with a feeling of dignity and cooperativeness that is befitting of the JSDF"

Kaname now began stuttering in inexpressible anger.

This was not Plan B, not Plan B at all…nor B, C, D, E…This idiotic plan did not even have a convenient letter designation.

"Oh ho!" The group laughed jointly again, the strange cult-like mentality returning to them with the promise of a rumble of sorts.

"And what if we's don't wanta give 'em up if you win?" Said a simpering weasel-like man standing behind one of the leader's rather meaty shoulders.

Sousuke silently extracted an anti-tank missile gun from his knapsack.

"I shall be forced to blow you all away with extreme prejudice."

Kyouko made a noise reminiscent of a small dog being choked….

A dark spot formed on Shinji's pants where he had followed the natural inclination of a human being faced with incredible fear.

That fear's name was not one of the dubious looking people who had taken him hostage, though.

No, today fear's name was Sousuke Sagara, their classmate.

Kaname stamped her foot...Anti-tank missile launchers were definitely not part of the plan!

Any plan in the entire alphanumeric system.

No, they belonged to a class all on their own.

A class dubiously labeled "Sousuke."

The plan was merely to convince them that the might of the entire military would fall on the ugly idiots if they did not release Kyouko and Shinji should they not cooperate.

The plan would then culminate in them running away as fast as possible.

This definitely lacked any of the above elements of her plan.

Having decided upon the basic contest the leader lumbered forward. Sousuke followed suit with a few cautious steps toward the pig-man.

"So, you and your commander against my gang."

There was a chorus of "Oh hos!" in response.

"C-c-c-c-commander against y-y-y-y-you!" Sputtered Kaname, but Sousuke did not at that moment take heed of the far more dangerous presence on the battlefield. Instead, he merely concentrated on the commander of the enemy forces.

"Affirmative."

The Boss and his gang then proceeded to do a complicated ritual in which they spat on the ground, wiggled about with their arms in the air, and ended by pounding a fist into his other hand with a cry of "Oh ho!"

Sousuke merely nodded curtly in response.

Nothing more.

He had seen such war dances performed by primitive tribes across the world. He found it rather educational to be seeing one in real life.

At any rate, the deal had been done.

Kaname, however, was less than pleased by the whole arrangement. Now, in addition to not being at the beach, she was in an all out otaku war with a group of ugly school dropouts.

To say the very least, she extremely unhappy.

Grabbing a hold of Sousuke's arm, she muttered the words, "strategy meeting, Sergeant!" through clenched teeth and dragged him behind the equipment rental building.

What followed was a series of loud thwaping noises with occasional interjections of "Idiot!" "Jerk!" "Moron!" "Military Otaku!" and finally a silence followed by the distinctive sound of someone groaning when a German suplex is performed upon them.

An anxious whisper rippled through the ranks of the Cult of Oh Ho! There were now few doubts that she was indeed the fierce military commander she claimed to be.

After another brief silence a faint mutter of "That hurt, Chidori."

A resounding "thwap!" echoed through the air followed by the indignant statement, "That's Commander!"

The hooligans trembled.

She then dragged him back out and distributed her glares evenly between both the group of hooligans and Sousuke.

One of the punks, a man with a long horse-like face, made the mistake of making a rather distasteful comment about how the Boss only wanted a small sampling of the Commander-babe.

In a moment, all complaints vanished from Kaname's mind. For all intents and purposes, her attitude had done a complete 360. She would not stand for her honor to be insulted in such a manner. She had a weapon that would ensure that it didn't occur.

Kaname Chidori, for the umpteenth time in her life, put her life in the hands of a moody military otaku.

Putting a hand on Sousuke's shoulder, she dramatically whispered to him, "Take all measure's necessary to win, soldier. I authorize the use of extreme force if necessary."

The horsey man's face balled up as if he had been kicked in a rather unfortunate place.

--------------------

Kyouko watched as the hooligans armed themselves with their paint ball guns, vests, and ski masks. A sturdy rope now bound her and Shinji to a tree, as the foul smelling bear man had gone off to join his comrades.

However, despite her compromising position, she had managed to wriggle her arms free enough so that she could snap a few pictures.

On the bright side of things, it was turning out to be quite a memorable vacation.

And the first game was only about to begin…

The group of punks all faced each other for a moment and with one final battle cry of, "oh hooooo," the merry band of less than attractive leather clad men launched forward into the jungle.

--------------------

Kaname, meanwhile, was in a most tactically advantageous position.

Out of concern for her safety (helped by a very long lecture regarding the effects of his otaku actions on her), Sousuke had insisted she remain securely seated on a tree branch, as far as possible from the battle…

…On the condition she use camouflage gear and face paint…

In retaliation for having to play his otaku game, she had shot Sousuke multiple times "accidentally" while testing out her gun.

But that didn't help the fact that she looked like an idiotic military otaku…

…And that her vacation was going to hell in a hand basket…

It was rather pitiful that covering Sousuke in neon green paint was as much catharsis as she was capable of getting from the current situation.

But she would take what she could get, at the moment.

Abruptly, Sousuke put a hand up to warn her that the first invasion was coming.

Turning to her briefly, he said quietly, "Wait for me, Chidori!" and silently disappeared into the jungle.

--------------------

His adversaries were overconfident at best, no better than new recruits during their first day of boot camp.

Sousuke picked them off one by one with ease. He doubted any of them even saw him as he passed. He was a Specialist after all. It had been foolish to accept his challenge, when the enemy had to have known that their sole superiority lay in their superior numbers.

Sousuke shook his head, they reminded him of one of Mao's insults to her troops during basic training…

"Such #$ing poorly trained maggots of your quality are only fit to find &#$ing mines for better soldiers! And I don't mean with #&ing equipment!"

Finding a tactically advantageous and highly defensible position, he created a diversion to draw the enemy troops away from Chidori. Another straggler came in, he aimed the paintball gun at the man's forehead and shot.

Another group wandered within his sight.

He affixed his gas mask to his face.

Lobbing a white phosphorus grenade at them, he jumped out, executed a perfect roll, and shot all of them.

He did not know if grenades were technically permissible in this sort of exercise, but Chidori had authorized any means necessary.

She was acting commander during this mission.

He quickly and skillfully decimated the last pocket of scattered resistance.

Round one had ended. The entire cult of "oh ho!" had been brought low buy the mysterious JSDF special-ops agent.

Sousuke frowned; he had succeeded in his mission almost effortlessly.

If given the chance, Mao would certainly have employed these men to locate mines.

--------------------

Kyouko snapped a picture of the returning hooligans.

The flash was off, of course, as they probably would take exception to the fact that they had been soundly defeated by two teenagers…well, as far as they knew, two teenagers.

However, any student at Jindai High School would have known better.

Exploding lockers, clothes eating viruses, and high jackings of various kinds were already legendary.

No student in his or her right mind would dare challenge Sousuke Sagara on his own turf.

Or for that matter, Kaname Chidori.

It was just sort of an unwritten school rule implemented to prevent collateral damage.

However, for some reason the principal was always somewhat happy when Sousuke blew something up…that had always confused Kyouko. She shook her head, brushing the strange thought off.

The punks were ready to begin the second game. Seeing that normal tactics weren't enough to defeat the military personnel, the Horsey punk and the Bear ruffian had devised a crude strategy in order to overcome their enemy.

They had divided into groups of five.

Their entire plan was for one group to run and then be summarily mowed down. The next group would then find out where the shots were coming from and attempt to shoot in that direction.

The groups would continue to move out until one of them had (hopefully) taken down the Sergeant and his Commander.

This was their Plan B.

Kyouko smiled to herself. Even though she was tied to a tree with only a trembling Shinji for company, watching the punks strategize was just about worth it.

She could almost smell their brains burning with their efforts.

--------------------

When Sousuke saw that the enemies changed tactics, he immediately remembered yet another incident from Mithril's boot camp.

Mao, attempting to find a worthy addition to the SRT teams, had set up a similar scenario to the one Sousuke's enemies now found themselves in.

She had vulgarly referred to it as "weeding out the dumbasses."

A group of less tactically knowledgeable recruits had used the same technique as his enemy was now trying…attacking in groups and trying to find the source of the sniper just after sacrificing the reconnaissance party.

It was entirely a waste of manpower against any opponent with any amount of tactical expertise.

He clicked a button. The five paint gatling guns he had improvised went off at various intervals, leaving him free to pick off any stragglers.

Mao had used the same tactic. Sousuke, rather than joining in the misguided tactics of the majority of his fellow comrades, had concealed himself under the body of a "dead" recruit and crawled his way to the area meant to be the final goal. Only six other of his fellow recruits had duplicated his feat.

It was another textbook victory.

Suddenly, he heard a familiar shout.

"Get off me you pervert!"

Forgetting everything, he ran towards the direction of Kaname's scream.

He cursed. Somehow he had missed one.

They must have had exemplary evasion training.

The Horse faced man, who was now covered in at least five shades of neon paint, was ignoring the fact that Kaname had shot him with every round she had and was currently engaged in stomping one foot on his face.

Sousuke noted that she had not hit any of the more vital parts that would have induced paralysis in a normal combat situation.

He made a note to take the issue up with her later. Now was not the time.

Chidori was in danger.

Indeed, Kaname was now screaming, variations (with varying degrees of vulgarity) on the phrase, "Get off, you pervert!" and stomping all the more vigorously.

Throwing away his gun entirely, Sousuke kicked at the small of his back, causing him to fold and make a sickening crunching sound.

However, just as he did so, the punk had managed to get a hand on Kaname's ankle.

She began tumbling off the branch.

Finding no other possible recourse, he launched himself under her. She landed, directly on top of him.

…It was certainly unexpected. Although he had to admit, he did not find the situation wholly unpleasant.

He had to shake himself…these were certainly not appropriate thoughts for the battlefield.

Kaname, however, was far too shocked to say much of anything. After an eternity (at least it seemed so to Sousuke, who was certainly not accustomed to such situations), she finally managed a surprised, "S-s-s-sousuke!"

"Chidori…" he began.

"Yes?" She was still a tad dazed and hadn't yet realized that they still remained in quite a compromising position atop her very masculine friend.

"Uh…."

The word jarred her out of her shock induced stupor…she suddenly saw a tactical advantage,

She merely blinked at him in pretended confusion.

"Uh…."

"Sousuke?" She liked to see his consternation. In a way it was kind of sweet.

"Chidori," he was sweating profusely now, "you are a bit heavy."

That did it.

That was not what he should have said!

Kaname was up in a split second, halisen in hand.

Completely forgotten in the aftermath of the fall, the Horse faced man groaned.

That noise triggered something within Kaname. How had such a man dared to groan in front of her, Kaname Chidori!

The timely groan had saved Sousuke a great deal of pain; the full force of the blow was redirected against the ugly ruffian.

She continued her barrage screaming at the ugly punk that it was his fault that this had all happened and that Kyouko and Shinji were being held captive and that she had been forced to wear camouflage paint and fall from a tree onto an insensitive otaku.

The Horse Man, fortunately for him, had lost consciousness several beatings before her impassioned speech, however.

Sousuke was a bit relieved that the halisen was being directed at someone else for once. However, his objective position allowed him to note that in his professional opinion as a Specialist, she used it with an incredible degree of effectiveness.

Worn out, she finally stopped. She was tired of this otaku lunacy. At that moment a thought occurred to her.

"Sousuke."

"Yes, Chidori?"

"In your opinion as an annoying, insensitive military otaku, do you think we have enough resources to rescue Kyouko and Shinji on our own?"

Sitting up, he considered the problem seriously, going through his inventory and mulling over the long chain of insults. At a length he answered.

"Affirmative."

She turned around to face him, fire blazing from her eyes. She picked up her paintball gun, refilled the ammunition, tied her handkerchief around her head, and finally said, "Let's get them, Sousuke."

"It is not a problem."

Kaname merely smiled. She took some of Sousuke's ammunition and refilled her gun.

Sousuke nodded and the two set off into the jungle.

They swept through groups of the thugs, Sousuke tossing out white phosphorus grenades, Kaname shooting every remotely thug looking person without discrimination.

Other patrons that happened to be at the paintball arena that day would swear that the devil himself was playing against thirty completely worthless opponents.

Finally, the two reached the enemy base camp. Sousuke guarded Kaname as she untied her two friends.

The sound of gunfire went off, uninterrupted, behind her. Suddenly there was a strange sound.

Click click click click.

The noise was directly followed by an "uhh…"

"Sousuke?"

Shinji was now standing on wobbly legs, clutching his Arm Slave Monthly as if it were the most sacred thing he owned, however, Kaname had barely managed to begin untying the rope that bound Kyouko to the tree. She turned back to Sousuke. He was standing still, while in front of him, 30 neon paint covered thugs looking downright pissed off, threatened to overtake the little group of Jindai students.

Sousuke had picked a fine time to stop playing otaku!

"Sousuke!" Kaname shouted.

"Uhh…"

"Sousuke shoot them!"

The Sergeant did not resume his usual otaku duties…

"Chidori. You must remain calm."

That phrase never meant what it was supposed to.

NEVER.

"It seems I have run out of acceptable ammunition."

No ammo, check, thirty angry thugs, check, Kaname looked back at the ugly looking men surrounding her, they had made makeshift clubs out of the branches that littered the arena…

Ugly thugs with clubs…double check.

Shinji and Kyouko were standing behind her, Shinji trembling more than slightly.

Suddenly, a brilliant plan occurred to her.

She was after all, the most resourceful one in such near death situations. A dubious distinction though that was…

"Sousuke," she said in a measured, confident tone, "there is not a problem."

Kyouko looked shocked at her use of that phrase.

For once, (probably because, in Kaname's estimation it wasn't him blowing things up) the normally calm Sergeant did not seem so assured by that statement.

"Chidori, it seems you may lack an awareness of the tactical situati-"

She held a finger to his lips.

"Sergeant," she whispered with a hint of steel in her voice, "There is always Plan B."

"Plan B?"

She grabbed Shinji and Kyouko by the wrist and proceeded to run as fast as she could, half dragging her friends in her wake.

She shouted back to Sousuke, "Run like heck, you jerk!"

With a nod, Sousuke threw his last grenade as a distraction and quickly followed after her.

No one could beat Kaname Chidori in her tactical element.

The four ran, Sousuke and Kaname side by side, and Shinji and Kyouko following in their wake.

Now that they were out of harm's way, the world seemed a much better place to be in. Kaname silently thought about the day's events.

Certainly, the day hadn't been the boring otaku fest she had thought it would be…

Kaname smiled…so it wasn't a normal high school girl's typical beach vacation. She glanced at Sousuke out of the corner of her eyes.

Only that idiotic moody military otaku could be responsible for a day like this.

She almost had an urge to laugh.

On impulse, she grabbed Sousuke's hand. He looked at her in surprise but did not pull away.

In the end, Kaname might grudgingly admit that she had had fun.

Might.

But all in all, there was no denying that the outing had certainly been memorable.

End