"Because they're young; we can give Faux silk for their sashes."

"Ace!"

"No!"

"Ace! Get back here," If laws permittied; bright red hair could've just bristled "Right Now!" the captain marched on; swearing under his breath as the heel of his boot came into contact with something crisp, foreign and truth be told; bloody sharp on his skin.

It was always the kids. That's right; kids.

Not the trainees, not the young ones, not even the work experience brats--it was always the kids. The Storm Hawk captain, or Rook as a fair few knew him, had found that, in his rather elongated experience; kids were worse than monkeys; they spat, shouted, snarled and for reasons just completely unfathonable to man: always picked the worst, in terms of sheer brilliance, places to hide in when they found worlds crashing down upon their soft little heads.

Well...this kid did anyway.

He could hear him; past the tangled haze of trees and dank wood-rot, he could hear his dark haired charge scurrying out past the borders of vine and twig--out into a plane of who knows what. The elder man had to skulk carefully into the intricate mess of forestation just to avoid whacking his head against that tediously placed trunk up there. Rook stood strong, almost dignified admidst the natural wreckage, just scanning...

Rustle. Rustle. Snap. Rustle. Rustle. Snap.

Forest green orbs blinked. Slowly. Calmly. He trecked forwards; boots thudding a gentle rhythm into the dwarfed jungle.

Rustle.

"Ace," a sigh as he gently eased a couple of branches away from his person "C'mon now; how's about you quit playing around and come back here?" it wasn't a suggestion.

Snap.

"I'm not mad kiddo, you know me," as optimistic a man as he was; Rook found it insanely difficult to keep an open stature while pushing back two stubborn switches just itching to snap back and take him out. Grunting as one caught him in the arm on release; both him and those irrately victorious trees could identify that all sense of dignity, along with a fair portion of patience, was lost to the dirt that claimed his left cheek.

Rustle.

"Ace..." a snarl after spluttering out what he could only guess would be a trampled blend of bark, leaves and earth "I mean it now." The sharp eyes of a hawk narrowed dangerously in correspondence to the constant disturbances just hovering all around him, "Stop it."

Rustle.

"Just digging yourself further into a pit here, kid." As he composed himself, the leader just saw it ever so convenient to violently swipe at a loose branch--sending it and its' offending ecosystem spiralling down to the ground, "I'm not in the mood for it." Another careful, though notably hardened foot-falls forwards "Just come out and we can talk, alright?"

Rustle, Rustle, Rustle.

Rook's pace against the ground began to contemplate it's own direction as the SkyKnight struggled to supress the yelp that punctuated the ever forboding fwack of the switch.

The rustle was emphasized by a fatal snap.

"Right." a defiant lock of fiery red waved rapidly across a gaze of pure steel as the muscular man sprung back up onto his feet. As the rubber soles slammed themselves against the ground; dust began to unsettle, gathering at his heels as if to block all distinction between his boots and the terra beneath him. "Get out here!" he stood; tall and stoic amongst his own echoing roar "That's an order Ace!"

All movement seemed to cease at this presence of a new, foreign point of domination; the snapping of twigs seemed an all too distant memory as the only rustling now heard of was that of the wind just naturally scraping away the corpses of leaves and their memory.

All too quiet...all too still.

The man hated it. The boy wasn't coming; and at this point, the twenty-three year old could care less about if the boy was frightened.

To any observer; the sight of a broadened jaw clinching was enough to rouse any scrap of warning from the recesses of even the most subordinate of minds! Note the term observer.

"Alright, no, no," his arm slapped his thigh; his arm was almost longingly aggressive "No, I agree with you: Let's forget rank, I mean it's trivial right?" The red-head cleared his throat as his eyes closed; blinking a few times to refresh themselves. "Ace: This is your Legal Guardian talking!" he put an authoritive foot forwards "Now I'm gonna count to ten: before I reach it I suggest that you quit sulking, dust yourself off and get over here!"

Not a sound, not a movement.

"One,"

Rook's head turned in compliance with the sudden cry, accompanied by that racket of rustle-bustle that echoed about 5 feet away from him, "Ace?"

He was quick, but careful this time; he remembered to duck under the branches before attempting to skim past the bristles of bark.

A quick scan of the area spied the wayward boy in question sprawled out beneath the bank of a slight ditch in the land; amongst the dirt and rubble that was currently making an effort to completely smother the teenager, the only indication that it was him, other than the pretty much patented snarling; was the old hand-me-down sky-fu sash that'd unknotted from his waist and left a memorable trail tumbling down from the edge of the bank down to just beneath the boy's heel.

The Sky-Knight sighed; partially out of tiredness, but definately out of relief "There's my baby brother," as he snagged the sash up from the ground; alerting Ace to his presence, the elder one couldn't help but trace his sight up, across and around the child--damn sheer habit for sparking empathy "In trouble again I see,"

Sitting up with a wince; the boy felt himself squirming awkwardly atop the nagging rocks of the landscape "Wasn't my fault," stubbornly; he pawed and scratched in an attempt to wipe dried blood away from his snub little nose "He started it,"

"Mmmhm," the eldest sibling murmured; sliding down casually to sit by him as he began non-chalantly wind up the faux silk sash

"I was just defending myself," a wince as he pulled his legs un a little closer; obviously pressure on his ankle was not what he needed at the moment. "Not like I did it on purpose," he dusted the flakes of blood off his knuckles in adgitation; didn't matter-wasn't his.

"I can tell; man the way you left him," a condescending roll of the eyes accentuated by a sigh "Yeah he'll be up and out on the streets pickin' another fight pretty damn soon."

"Shut up Rook!"

"Ace, he's the bloody pilot!" he'd snapped; but only in the context sheer flabbergastion "What could he have possibly said to get you that riled?"

Crimson eyes narrowed; practically glaring a murderous pit into base of Rook's mind--a patient silence as forest green orbs observed him--pupils circling softly in response to the gaining noon light; calm, silent. "Well?"

As muscles tightened, the youngest of two contrasting siblings seemed to attempt to lurch forward; only to settle for slamming his face into his arms; supporting it all with his thighs.

Not a whimper, not a sob, not a tear; just a snarl which, if one where to split ends: could be considered a pout. Reluctant against the present, nagging stare; the boy sided against his little moodswing and emmitted the shadow of a disgruntled mumble.

"Come again?"

"Calls me Kidder." he had to bark in annoyance as his head slipped out of the nestled confines of his forearms.

"Kidder...?"

"Kidder. Everytime I talk; just laughs and calls me Kidder." another unsightly snarl forced its' way out of the back of the teenager's throat "Like I'm lying or something!" raven hair batted its way out of his eyes as he continued to glare down at his tensing fits; sputtering amongst growls and spits of raw, animalistic fury "Kidder!"

"Kidda." fingers clicked rhythmically; echoing like nails on a chalk-board into Ace's ears,

Abruptly; his dark haired head whipped around furiously before uttering a low, cautious; "What?"

"Kidda, Ace; he's calling you Kidda."

Uncomprehendingly; the youngest's eyes could only stare deftly in response to his brother's supposed elaboration, glare taking stiff domination over his person "You know; like 'Kiddo'? Kidda.

Ace's eyebrow could only twitch contemplatively for several seconds as the lines of his still childish mouth pursed stubbornly against his lips "What's the difference?" Rook couldn't supress a quirk in the corner of his own mouth at this familiar sulky tone,

"Interpretation, apparantly," in almost ritualistic habit; the slender neck of the cycnical child snapped his head heavilly back into his knees--leaving him in a loose stature--an almost stripped state of appearance "He's just being friendly to you,"

"Well it made him sound stupid."

"Ah C'mere Ace," Rook chuckled; snaking an affectionate arm around his nimble frame,

"g'way."

"And leave you to get into any more trouble?" slight snort as a vigerously rubbing, oddly supportive hand attempted to jostle a little more reaction out of him--a grin, a laugh, anything "Like I'm that stupid,"

"Debatable."

"Clever," the elder mock-twitched; raising the fourteen year old's dusty, grimy face out of his lap to get an honest, good look at him. He was a slender boy, this trainee was: with a narrowed out, placid face that sometimes reminded Rook of their grandfather. A good boy at heart really, that much the SkyKnight could vouch; just...rough...needed a little sanding around his edges. Awkwardly; the teen shifted his sights back out towards the haze of trees and vinyard as his legal guardian made an attempt to scrub atleast a fraction of the dirt that smothered his purple-hued swelling cheek "What's the matter?"

He swallowed; refusing to remove his eyeline from one inparticularly crooked willow tree "I...attacked a crewman," Rook could sense the concentration in his voice; the almost mechanical regurgitation of that damned handbook he'd had to, by occupational requirement, slam Ace down with when he first stumbled onto the Condor. Suffice to say it'd taken a massive amount of energy, prompting and, most notable, time to get him to break his gaze away from any form of minescule (Or "Disobediant" as his engineer had put it,) distraction to get him read it--the entire event ended up like a twisted scene from a movie; where a parent ends up barking a lecture-like story at his defiant teenaged son.

"Yeah, you did,"

"So..." another squirm as the boy attempted to brush away the still lingering pebbles out from under his backside "So're you sending me away?"

Slowly; the Knight's facial features began to soften and loosen against the restrictions of that lopsided grin he held so dear. An expression of grim seriousness slowly engulfed his broadened features "Depends." he paused; slowly studying his charge "Can you walk?" the seriousness of his tone prompted an experimental shift followed by a consequental yelp of confirmation; the man had to quickly spring up in order to catch the boy before he slammed himself back against the ground "No?"

"No,"

"Then tough luck for you Ace," he couldn't supress the warm affection of a chuckle that'd mounted within his muscular chest "Looks like you're stuck with us." For emphasis, he supposed, Rook almost instantly slugged Ace's right arm across the back of his neck; holding it there for means of firm support as he lifted his skinny frame up slightly by his chest. He could feel Ace deflating slightly in a sigh, rolling an annoyed frown his guardian's way,

"You suck sometimes big brother," another wince as he felt his own ankle collide quite accidentally with the Sky-Knight's,

"So you say," he hoisted him up further in response; allowing him to limp easier alongside him "But you know it's for your own good."

"Yeah," another childish mumble; lightened however in spite of the prior situation "Whatever,"

"Just mind your head," slowly, but firmly; he pressed the boy under the branches by his oh-so soft little head; sneaking in a quick ruffle to his hair before following him under into the large, and by now semi-forgotten haze of forest "It was three rights then left, right?"

tbc.