A story that grew from an idea. What more can I say? A tale of Raguna and Zavier fighting the war against the Sechs Empire. The pairing will be Raguna/Zavier... eventually.

He fell to his knees beside her, scooping up her limp, bloodied body in his arms. She was still alive. He hugged her close to him; unable to stop the tears brimming in his eyes as he shook his head furiously, refusing to believe what he was seeing was real. It didn't feel real. His mind seemed far away from his body, like in a dream. A nightmare.

"Raguna." She spoke, blood pouring from her mouth like a scarlet fountain.

He let her go quickly, laying her down gently on the ground as not to hurt her any more than she already was. He stroked her cheek, his tears falling onto her weakening body. "Yes?" He choked out.

"Wh-Where's Poppy?" She asked. "Where's Poppy?"

His heart leapt up to his throat, and he felt he was going to be sick as he remembered. He couldn't bring himself to tell her. "She's fine. I... I told her to run back to Kardia. She's fine." He whispered, brushing back her hair that was sticking to her forehead with blood.

She looked up at him with clouding eyes. "Don't lie to me. Tell me. Where's Poppy?" Her voice grew frantic. "Where's Poppy?! Where's-" Her screams were silenced by a clot of blood that rose in her throat and spattered across her face, causing her break into a fit of coughs. He shushed her, wiping the blood from her face with his hand, though he himself was already drenched with the red stuff.

She gazed up at him, knowing. "...She's dead, isn't she?"

Fresh tears came to his eyes once more, and he clung to her dying body, unable to stand the fact that she would die so sad, in such pain and anguish. Her warm blood stained his clothes, hands and face.

He heard her let out a long, pitiful moan, which was surely the sound of her heart breaking. She whimpered Poppy's name until she was too weak to even talk. He held her until he felt the last breath leave her lips. Her body was still warm in his arms. Then, slowly but surely, it began to fade. Until finally, she was cold.

--

Raguna leant back against the side of the boat, enjoying the cool spray of the water on his brow. It was too hot, and he had better things to be dwelling on- namely the oncoming drama. They were due to land in a rural area of the Sechs Empire in a hour, where they would take on the Sechs Army- who were better trained and better equipped than them.

They were The Resistance, rebels with a cause, fighting for freedom against the powers of the Sechs Empire. To the Empire they were no threat- just a minor annoyance, a bug that needed to be squashed. But to Raguna- and everyone else in The Resistance- they were making a difference, no matter how small. In Raguna's mind, if he could save at least one person from imprisonment, slavery, or death each day, it added up to seven people a week, one-hundred-and-twenty people a year. And that gave him a small piece of satisfaction amongst his sorrow.

Zavier flopped down beside him, fanning himself with his hand. He leant completely over the side of the boat and scooped up some water with his helmet. Leaning back, he quickly placed the helmet on his head, letting the brown water soak his head and shoulders.

"It's way too hot today." He said. Raguna nodded in response.

"You ready to take on the S.E, eh?" Zavier asked. Raguna simply groaned in reply. Annoyed, Zavier scooped up some more water in his helmet and poured it defiantly over Raguna's head. "Hey, I'm talking to you!"

Raguna spluttered, spitting out the dirty water, and swatting playfully at Zavier. "I could have you demoted for that, Private!"

"Demote me to what?" Zavier smirked, sticking his tongue out at Raguna like a little kid. "Lieu-ten-ant!" He spoke Raguna's title slowly and sharply, as if it was an insult- Raguna had been promoted after his superior swordsmanship skills had been realised.

Raguna sighed. When he had joined The Resistance, he hadn't been betting on Zavier joining up too. He was still just a kid- he wasn't even sure if he knew what the war against the Sechs Empire was about. When they'd first entered their platoon, both unsuspecting and inexperienced, Zavier had been teased a lot. Though he was only a year younger than Raguna, he was short for a male, and his feathery dark blond hair and freckles made him look a lot younger than twenty-one. Raguna hoped he might leave- this was his mission, and he didn't want Zavier there to remind him of the past- but Zavier stood firm and refused to budge. He might've been smaller than the other officers, but he could talk the talk. He knew swear words that Raguna had never even heard of.

He smiled at Zavier. At times like these, it was nice to have a friend there for you- even if he was a brat. It wasn't that he wanted Zavier to be there- he could get by fine on his own- but still, it was nice.

"We'd better get out kit ready." Raguna said, prompting a groan of protest from Zavier.

"But it's too hot..." He wailed.

"Tough." Raguna said firmly, getting up from where he sat and picking up his camouflage jacket. He threw Zavier's shirt in his face, forcing him to stop his whining. He leant over the side of the boat and soaked his shirt in the river before shrugging it on. Raguna sighed. "You shouldn't do that. It'll make you sore and you'll catch a cold."

"In this heat? Ha!" Zavier snorted ignorantly, hopping around on one leg as he pulled on his boots.

"Put socks on first, or you'll get blisters."

"Oh, shut up, sir."

Raguna simply shook his head as his fastened his jacket. Their uniform consisted of a plain white tank top, on top of which they wore a dark green jacket with sleeves that could be worn full length, or just to the elbows should the soldier choose. They wore baggy camouflage trousers- Zavier's were too big for him, but money in The Resistance was too tight to afford new ones- and black-green boots that they tucked their trousers into just to stop them tripping over the cuffs. Plus they had their backpacks in which they kept their tent, cooking equipment and first aid kits; their guns which they word slung over their shoulders; and a knife at their belts for close-combat. Together, it was all quite heavy, and the summer heat made it even worse.

"Raguna, I hate you." Zavier grumbled as he pulled on his jacket. "I'm gonna stink tonight..."

"Don't you always?" Raguna said jokingly. He sat down on a crate and began to load his gun, as did many of the other soldiers. He sighed exasperatedly as he realised that he'd accidentally put the bullets in the wrong way around. He emptied his gun and began to load it again. He might've been good with a sword, but with firearms it was different.

He picked up the gun, looking through the viewfinder; setting it on anything he could see- a bird in the sky, a tree on the distant shore- to improve his aim.

"Stop waving that around, will you? You're making me dizzy." Zavier complained, leaning against the side of the boat. Raguna pointed the gun at him and shouted "Bang!" causing Zavier to jump and lose his balance, and he toppled backwards right over the side of the boat and into the water.

A wave of laughter rippled over the boat. Raguna rushed to the side of the boat to find a very disgruntled Zavier swimming furiously to try to keep up with the boat.

"Oh God! I thought I'd really shot you!" Raguna shouted to him, laughing.

"Raguna, you bastard! Stop the boat!" Zavier shouted back angrily.

Raguna disappeared into the driver's cabin, and shortly the boat stopped, allowing Zavier to heave himself onto the deck- with the help of a few others. Coughing and spluttering, he shook himself out like a dog, spraying the other soldiers.

"Raguna, you sod." He gasped.

Raguna began to smile. "I scared you, didn't I?"

Zavier eyes immediately flamed and he was instantly on the defensive. "No." He spat.

Raguna shrugged. "Okay, then. I believe you." He said, but his smile said otherwise. Zavier clenched his fists and seethed with anger and humiliation.

"You better be careful, or when we get to shore, I might be the one to kill you!" He said. "The S.E. wouldn't even get a look in!"

Raguna smiled. He knew Zavier didn't mean it- he was one to make empty threats, and say things he had no intention of carrying out. Catching his smile, Zavier pouted childishly, causing the older female soldiers to 'aw' and comment on how cute he was. Zavier blushed to the roots of his hair, and the male soldiers started sniggering.

And just when it seemed Zavier was about to pick a fight he couldn't possibly win, Raguna announced "Land." He turned back to his comrades. "We're here. Ready?"

And suddenly the whole light-hearted atmosphere in the boat was gone, and The Resistance fell silent. Picking up their weapons and fastening up their helmets, they each nodded to each other as a sort of mutual acceptance that some of them would not make it out alive.

Giving what could've been their final respects to each other, one of the youngest soldiers- a girl barely eighteen years old- turned to Raguna, standing bolt upright and saluting, announced "We're ready."

--

I've been dying to write this for ages! But I couldn't because I've been having to revise for a physics exam- but now that's all over, I can devote my time to my writing once again! I'll be working on this, along with my other Harvest Moon story, 'Differences'. If any of you have read it, I just want to say that I won't abandon it to write this!