A/N: The first in a great series about the Marching Knights and their antics. A character list will be included at the end.

The Great Band War

By Shadow Dragon

The day was Monday, and that should have warned a few of them off.

For some strange reason, school had been canceled for an entire week. And for yet another strange reason, nobody in the band had been told, even though the band director did not show. So the entire band stood at the back door by the band room, waiting to be let inside. Laiva, who was always late, sprinted up to see an entire band and colorguard regiment wandering around, talking, chattering, and gossiping. Some people (the trumpets, mostly) clutched instrument cases as they talked.

"What's going on?" Laiva asked her friend Gabi. Gabi only shrugged.

"Apparently, the school's deserted!" Alex, a really annoying trumpet player, called to the entire group. "We should go home!"

His best friend Travis stood up. "No!" he declared to the band. "We shall have a full game of manhunt. With all of us." His beady eyes swept over the crowd of confused band students, gleaming sadistically.

"Okay, let's go home," Sebras, another trumpet player, called. He picked up his brown trumpet case and started to tromp out to his '87 Jaguar. His twin brother Verran stood up to go as well, offering Autumn a ride. Travis's next words stopped them both in their tracks.

"What's the matter? Chickens?" Travis shouted after them.

"It's only a simple game of manhunt, after all," Alex added, always the "supportive-of-Travis" type. Gabi, who had dated him for two weeks before deciding he was a horrible stalker, glared royally at him, but he was too thick to notice.

"And hell is just a sauna," Laiva quoted to Gabi, who promptly stopped glaring and laughed.

"Is the mighty Sebras too chicken to play a widdle game of manhunt?" Travis's other best friend Mike mocked, flapping his arms in the manner of a chicken.

Sebras was not especially tall or strongly built, but Travis, being short and skinny, paled in stature next to him. So when Sebras strode up to him and stood right in front of him, staring down at him, the picture looked certainly amusing to those watching. Finally, Alex (who was bigger than Sebras, but not by much) jerked Travis back and assumed his position, making the contest seem much fairer.

"I'm not chicken," Sebras said in a voice like ice. "I'm tired, I've got a computer at home…"

"Sebras is scared of a little game!" Mike shouted gleefully, dancing around.

The band, who had been silently watching the exchange, gasped in unison. Perhaps this had something to do with the sign proclaiming "Gasp!" in Alex's hands.

"We'll play your game," Solan said, standing up and striding over to where the group was. "We'll play your game and then we'll go home. Winning team makes losing team stack chairs for a week."

"Those stakes are much too low," Mike snorted.

"A month, then," And Rand joined his two friends. He played trumpet, a chair ahead of Solan, and Travis's only competition.

"Boooorrring," Mike complained. "What are you, a bunch of wusses?" He danced around again, having thrown the "Gasp!" sign against the wall of the school building.

"Say, why don't we fight for . . .first chair?" Travis asked, beady eyes glittering again. From somewhere or other, he had pulled on a leather jacket and a pair of shades so that he looked like an extremely wimpy version of a kid trying to look like Arnold Schwartzenegger. Laiva, seeing this, snickered.

"First chair? Sounds fair," Rand agreed too quickly.

Alex caught this and said, "No, wait. That's not all. Travis is risking his position, his own neck. We need compensation." He rubbed his thumb across his middle finger and index finger in an obvious sign of "cold, hard cash."

The band was now watching this exchange with great intensity. Half of them liked Travis as the main section leader and didn't want him to get overthrown. The rest of the band disliked Travis with a passion and couldn't wait for the day he was usurped. Amethyst, a color guard member who played flute for the remainder of the year, had even made T-shirts that said, "Down with Travisism!"

Brorby, who naturally wanted Brorbism to rise in place of Travisism, had bought a gross of them.

"Time out," Solan called to Travis, Mike, and Alex. "Guys, what do we have? I'm completely broke—at least, I don't have enough to buy the position off of him."

"Broke," Sebras agreed glumly.

Rand's eyes fell on Sebras's trumpet case. "What about this? You've got the nicest trumpet in the band. Wouldn't Travis just love to get his greasy little paws on this?" He picked up the case, but Sebras snatched it away.

"He's not touching my baby, do you hear me?" Sebras hissed.

"Look, if he wins, you can just say that he stole your trumpet and get it back," Solan pointed out logically. "And if that doesn't work, you should just punch him in the face and steal it."

"Are you done yet? I want to play before first period, you know," Travis called in an authoritative tone. The three young men met glances, nodded slightly, and turned back. "Well, how much are you offering me?" He said 'me' like he was the King of the Band.

"Sebras's trumpet." Rand brought it out of the case and let the soft morning sunlight fall on the silver splendor of the Bach trumpet. "One dent, no scratches. Some fingerprints, but those can be polished, can't they?"

"What are the rules?" Travis asked, eyes greedily drinking in the sight of the magnificent trumpet.

"Play 'til you defeat the other team. No firearms, no smoking, you get the picture," Rand explained. "We keep the trumpet. You keep first chair. As soon as the end of the game as commenced, the prizes will be delegated to the worthy winner. The trumpet will be kept in Band Locker Number 99 and a written statement signed by yourself, Alex, Sebras, and myself, witnessed by Solan and Mike. First, however, we must select teams. We'll be "

"By string or just let them cipher over to the captain they like better?" Travis asked.

"Let them choose sides," Solan told him. "It'll be amusing."

Perhaps he was expecting, like both Rand and Sebras, that most of the band would come over to their side. However, the band evened itself out between two teams, standing behind either of the two groups of trumpets. Laiva whipped out a clipboard and wrote down the names of her team and their instruments. She was pleased to note that they had plenty of seniors and juniors—a strong team that would outwit Travis's team.

"Okay, the teams are selected," Mike announced with obvious ado. "We'll be Team…Puce and you all can be Team Green." He meant 'puce' to be a joke to his own team, but Team Green found it funnier.

Meg, one of the drum majors on Team Green, let the two teams indoors using a skeleton key. "I didn't steal it," she told Laiva indignantly. "I'm just borrowing it indefinitely."

Everybody that could squeeze into the band locker room watched as Travis, Alex, Mike, Sebras, Solan, and Rand signed the contract and placed it in locker 99. Sebras's trumpet joined it and the lock was placed upon the locker (the lock belonged to the head drum major, who decided not to participate in this petty game and went into the band director's office to sleep).

"Since you made the rules, we'll make up this one," Travis said with a solemn expression. "At nine o'clock, the game will begin. Any hostages taken previously to nine o'clock will be considered moot hostages and returned to Knight's Square. If you take a hostage, they are not to be harmed."

"We'll even feed ours," Sebras said with a grin. Team Puce's freshmen looked slightly relieved at this statement.

"Good luck, then. May the best team win," Rand snapped. Sebras and Travis shook hands, Rand and Alex shook hands, and Mike and Solan shook hands. The rest of the team members glanced disdainfully at one another. Team Green marched out of the band room, completely on-step.

Laiva grabbed the shoulder of a sophomore named Brorby. "Brorby, you've got to help out. Get on O'Malley's computer. Wait for the signal, okay?" she whispered to him. "Hide in with Team Puce—they didn't write down their team members."

Brorby nodded and set off to his task.

"Where are we headed?" Sebras asked Rand as the team left the band hallway.

"Somewhere with a computer. A teacher's lounge, perhaps?" Solan suggested, looking left and right. "The office is too dangerous—especially the glass walls. Downstairs blue and green hallways aren't very good either. How about the upstairs red hallway?"

"Why the science hallway?" Gabi asked.

Verran and Autumn stood nearby, listening to the conversations. Amethyst was talking to Eve, a bassoon player, about strategies the two could invoke. Several of the other band students, the ones who didn't care about being cool, stood around, chattering aimlessly.

"Because all the rooms have doors that go between them," Solan pointed out. "We don't even have to use the hallway. Except to go from a couple of the classrooms, but that won't matter too much. We'll be careful."

"Good idea. Loads of computers, hydrochloric acid, and Ms. Adobe's Jolly Green Giant figurine that's taller than Michael Jordan," Rand remarked. He waved to his troops and they struck out to set up a base in the science wing.

Last notes: Stick around for chapter two in this crazy fic! The quote is from "Ten Things I Hate About You" and kudos to you if you recognized it.