A/N: Thanks everyone for the fantastic reviews! I'm glad there are still Jeice fans out there. Apologies for the craptacular-ness of this chapter. It'll get better when Jeice enters the Planet Trade's garrison.
"Welcome to the Wetlands-Trawler; sea crawling transport for the aspiring soldier travelling to Sol Bridge Garrison. Duration of our journey will take approximately two and a half hours –" The conductor was cut off abruptly as more heavy winds buffeted the ship. "- weather permissing," he added, rubbing his shoulder where it had slammed into the ship's arching wall.
Jeice looked around the ship's interior. It was large and damp and leaking in several places. Puddles of sea water gleamed in the dim electric light. Jeice ran a finger along the table he was sitting at and quirked his mouth at the grains of salt which he had gathered in a pile. He wasn't entirely hopeful that the old rust-bucket he was travelling in could traverse the high waves that lay between the mainland and the island, Sol Bridge, but it was better than an orphanage.
Anything was better than an orphanage.
"You wait and see, mate – I'll make General within the year!" A boy – Jeice recognised him as belonging to the twin horned Minotauros race – was sitting a few seats along from him, boasting to a crowd of friends.
"General? Hah!" exclaimed an older human boy sporting a shock of electric blue hair. "You want to focus on staying alive, small fry. I wouldn't recommend that you get all high and mighty or full of delusions of grandeur. Otherwise, you know, they'll snap your neck in the first week."
Jeice pretended to fix his full attention on the strong winds howling outside, the stormy sea visible through a series of small portholes along the starboard side, and listened closely to the conversation beside him. He peered at the group of boys out the corner of his eye.
The smaller boy had turned a little pale and there was a shaky sort of smile on his face. "They wouldn't dare. My dad's Head of his county," he stammered in reply. "Anyway, you can't just go killin' folk willy nilly."
"For the love of Sol, don't go about using words like willy nilly, neither!" The human boy cried, throwing his drink about. "Look here, this isn't any old garrison we're off to and it ain't no jolly holiday moreover. Maybe you just thought you were joining ranks like the rest of the daft idiots aboard this hell cruise, but let me ask you this: just who do you think this garrison belongs to, eh?"
"S-soltana, of course…"
The human boy cackled gleefully. "Wrong!" He bent over the table and said in a conspiratorial whisper, "It belongs to the Planet Tra–"
The ship suddenly pitched violently to one side, throwing everyone in the main compartment hall to the floor. Jeice swore as he cracked his jaw off the hard deck. The howling wind was whistling through cracks and under the doors even as the ship steadied and swung back into its old rhythmic rise and fall over the undulating waves. Jeice rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth; he could taste the steely metallic tang of blood on his tongue.
"Bloody 'ell – what kind of bleeding ship is this?" he grumbled irritably.
"The free kind," answered a voice from under him. "So mind your manners or I'll toss you overboard. Now ger'off me!"
Pulling himself up, Jeice stared at the girl struggling to push his legs off her stomach, and recognised her as the conductor from earlier. He frowned; he'd been sure the conductor had been a boy, but here before him was a small, stocky girl, maybe eleven years old – certainly no older than he was – with a pair of sharp dark eyes and a heart-shaped face. Her cropped hair was pearly white like his, only Jeice knew instantly from her skin colour that she wasn't a Solian. Perhaps a human, but he couldn't be sure. There were so many human half-breeds kicking about these days, it was getting harder to tell the pure-bloods from the mongrels.
"What'choo lookin' at then?" the girl asked, scowling. She had dropped her professional manner now that she only had Jeice to talk to.
"You're a ruddy girl," Jeice pointed out plainly.
The small girl cracked her knuckles menacingly. "What's your point, then?"
"Don't get your knickers in a twist," said Jeice casually, waving his hands in front of her. "Ah thought you were a boy earlier, that's all."
The girl bristled in her greasy stained overalls. "You slimey Solian! I hate this stupid planet," she shoved him off her completely and struggled to her feet.
"Oi, girly, wait up a minute!" Jeice called, following her at a half jog across the jumble of dazed bodies across the deck. "Ah want to ask you somethin'," he said, catching her by the elbow.
"Alright, but make it quick. And you'll have to follow me up to the top," she told him hurriedly. "I don't need the crew giving me more stick."
Jeice didn't waste any time. "You know anything about this garrison?"
The girl raised her eyebrows. "That depends what you want to know…"
They were on the top deck now and the wind was howling ferociously. Jeice had never seen waves so huge before. Come to think of it, he had never seen the sea. He stood for a moment and gaped at the rolling hills of water, some easily ten times the size of the Wetlands-Crawler. The conductor yelled at him over the roar of the wind and yanked him on by his sleeve cuff.
"Don't dawdle," she said, clinging to the railing. "If you think the Captain'll halt this ship and turn it around when you get blown overboard, you've got another thing coming!" Jeice nodded readily and followed her at a close pace. "So what is it you want to know about the garrison?" she asked him.
"Ah want to know what the real deal is. Who does the garrison belong to if it ain't Soltana's?" he shouted . "It can't belong to the bloody Planet Trade. They haven't even invaded us-" He was cut off by a hand wrapping over his mouth. The girl put her finger to her mouth sternly and her dark eyes darted around the slippery deck. When she was sure there was no one nearby, she said, "Don't mention You-Know-Who, specially not on this ship. There's loads of Frieza's spies on here and they won't bother to brainwash you if you show any sign of treason." She leaned in closer to him. "You didn't hear about Planet Vegeta, did you?"
Jeice quirked a bushy eyebrow and shook his head. "No. Why, what 'appened to it, then?" he asked eagerly. "Get invaded, eh? Serves those monkeys right. Nothin' but a race of cold-blooded murderers, them."
The girl smirked at him darkly. "Cold-blooded?" she repeated, her eyes twinkling. "Didn't you murder your old man? Been through the files. Took a spade to his head, didn't you?"
Jeice grit his teeth and clenched his fist close to her face. "You better watch your mouth or you'll be swimming with the fishes, girly!"
Before the girl could retort, there was a deafening crack as the sky split open; lightning had struck the crawler. A blaze of fire was scorching its' way across the bridge; bits of metal and other debris were raining onto the deck. The conductor cried out as one of the windows above them shattered. Jeice dived nimbly to the side, avoiding the raining glass by mere inches, but the girl was not so lucky. He saw her rear back in fright, too close to the railing. Wind howled, another tremendous wave surged against the port side of the Wetlands-Crawler, and the girl toppled over into the waves.
Jeice cowered beneath the flaming bridge, green eyes wide with shock. The ship was still pitching dangerously – the sea was coming closer. There were screams from the main hall of the ship and he realised with a sickening horror that the Captain must have been killed in that last lightning strike. Jeice slid towards the railings, slamming against the metal bars painfully.
The ship was going down. There were no two ways about it: he'd have to jump.
He grit his teeth and swore loudly, "Bugger, bugger bugger!" then grasped the wet bars, swung himself over and plunged into the mercy of the waves.
A/N: Next chapter coming soon. Please review folks if you want me to continue. I doubt I would've continued this if it weren't for people's interest (got sooo much on my plate XD)