In my cycle of getting around to things, back on with this before I forget. TO THE THING WITH THE GUY!

Chapter 34:

Swift Justice

I knew I was never going to get used to getting up at the early army hours.

I had only imagined how hard the Military had it before...now I know it.

Makes me glad that I've never had to do this before

and it's helping me and my skill set.

"...So then, you take this over like this and...voila" of all people, This was Alex, teaching me how to make an origami bird. It was a beautiful thing. Hell, even working out where to put the colors and such to make the whole thing look right.

Then we compare it to mine...it looks as much like a bird as my body looks like a horse. This is one thing I'm not likely to get isn't it? We were outside on a...decidedly warm April day. I was half expecting it to be freezing cold after the past few days, relaxing in our informal clothing in town, sitting outside a cafe, The Freneasy (Which I found quite entertaining when I thought about it), on a corner somewhere. We'd been dragged up town with Aika, Fina, Nadine and Ramona, losing Vyse somewhere. The ladies were clothes shopping on a budget, something which myself and Alex had been roped into acting as the good old pack mules. It was nice to know that even during war we can have normal everyday business going on. I know it's not going to be like this on the Frontier, and even worse under Imperial control, but here...peace. I almost feel bad for having my Valkyrur under my shirt.

"This is bad" I said to him, sighing as I grabbed my glass of...what was it again, something like Larengus...whatever the case it looked like Coke-Cola, tasted like Coke-Cola...looks like a duck, quacks like a duck. "Not my best..."

"Hey, relax bro. Everyone struggles at new skills first try" He consoled me. Yeah, about that...firing a gun was easy. "Besides, for a first attempt, your doing better then Largo"

"That's not very helpful considering that Largo's a LANCER!" yeah, had to shout the last bit for added effect...

"He didn't just pick up farming off hand you know...runs in his family and his farm is still somewhat strong" Yeah, we kinda already know that bit. I had a good swig of my drink, relaxing again.

"Yeah Yeah, I know...sorry, just...as calming as this is meant to be...it's kinda stressful" Alex laughed, taking a drink of the same thing from his glass.

"It's not easy at the start, like I said...besides, I've done this for years" He grabbed a table cloth, quickly starting to fold it. "Think of anything, anything at all. From a lance to a gun to a flower to a person" oh, a challenge eh? Alright...let's see.

"Alright...make the Edelweiss" I looked at him, seeing him give me a confident smirk.

"That's easy...we fold this like this, then move this here" he said everything as he expertly folded the cloth. He had to grab a second one, combining the two before finishing everything up, placing it on the table. "And there you go...oh, hand on" he grabbed a small piece of card, folding it up in a neat little turret and placing it on the top. "The last piece of the puzzle. What do you think?" I had to give him a nod, half smiling in surprise, the other half smiling in impression.

"Nice...didn't think you could do it to be honest" He smiled, rubbing under his nose with his finger.

"I'll be sure to remember that when I think of a challenge for you"

"Challenge for a challenge eh?"

"Well look on the bright side, it'll keep things interesting..." He leaned back in his chair, taking a swig as he did so.

I looked around the street, finding it almost amazing. You know I said earlier about how it was peaceful and such, right? Well...it was almost every day business. Kids played in the street, normal shopping, you know, that sort of thing...it was almost like there was no war on at all.

Was Britain like this during WW2? I had read, been taught...everything about the home front but to see it, minus the air raids, is something else. This country is on the edge...and yet, looking at how things are...you couldn't be blamed for thinking that we're at peace. Heck, the birds seem to be enjoying the view from that tree. It was almost tranquil, with a pair of them choosing to fly off the tree, lowering as they- uh oh.

"Incoming birds!" I shouted. Alex and I quickly grabbed our drinks, drinking what was left in case of...unexpected contamination. We no sooner put the glasses back down then the trio landed on the table, hopping around it. They were orange...already something strange compared to home. Very small feet/claws/whatever with...I want to say wings but they kinda look like flaps. Heck, I can't tell if they have feathers. If this is a bird, it's a weird one. Least the beak looks like a normal one, for fruits I think...I'm not an...Birdologist. I know that's not the word but it's the best I have. One of them flew off, leaving somewhere.

As for the other...it hung around, hopping over to me and looking at my arm. It tilted it's head before hopping on. OK, I know that I'm not a lover of nature, but I'm not going to swat a bird off my arm.

"Alex...please...little help" I said to him. He simply laid back, watching me with the bird, almost enjoying me 'suffering'. "Alex" it moved further up, even flying slightly to land on my shoulder. "Little help" The bird moved to my cheek, seeming to...brush against it with his head.

"Looks like he likes you" Alex commented. Oh so NOW he's a comedian.

"At the very least" it moved further along my shoulder, standing on the edge and looking around quickly. Ok, now's enough time, let's sweep the blighter off. "Shoo, Shoo. Fly after your friend" He started flying away to begin with, leading me to relax slightly.

Only problem was he came back, making a beeline for my head. We both watched it, not realising what it was doing until it flapped above my head, pecking away at my head. I tried to cover my head, crying out in pain all the while, with the bird moving to gaps and spaces to keep pecking. Alex meanwhile was laughing like hell. Thank you for enjoying my pain mate. Thank you so bloody much.

"OK, OK! Please, stop!" I cried out. The bird landed on my head, hopping forward and lowering it's head to look in my eyes. "What the heck do you want? I've got nothing you want"

"Is that a Gallian Swift?" oh boy, now who's talking? The bird raised it's head, giving me room to look over at the new speaker, seeing Knute with Money in his eyes. He wore a fancy black turtleneck (fancy as in well made, not fancy as in good looking in my opinion) with black trousers and shoes. "I hear those sell for quite a lot."

"Gallian Swift?" I raised an eyebrow, Alex trying his best to stifle his laughter.

"It's a good thing that I know about them then. They are quite rare...it's rare to find one at all, never mind here. They are intelligent, loyal, and used as messengers in the olden days. The numbers are so small due to being used by generals in the old wars" well, I can understand why. You see one with a message you are going to want to A: know what that is and B: interrupt the lines of communication. "I had heard that they were last known to avoid cities like this"

"What, are you going to pull a 'this must be a sign' line on me now?"

"Yes, for my wallet" I looked up at the bird as he returned, seeing Knute slowly but surely trying to sneak up, his heads out stretched ready to grab it.

He lunged, the bird flying as soon as his feet left the ground. Knute crashed into me, knocking both of us over onto the stone ground. The Bird gave one small tweet before flying off, leaving us sprawled on the ground. Alex was now laughing his head off, occasional snorts in his laughs as he did so. Knute barely moved, I was trapped.

"You idiot!" Knute finally spoke after...5 minutes or so, pushing himself up. "Do you realise how much you just lost me!?"

"What the hell are you on about?" He got off me, brushing himself off as we both got off the ground. "You were the one who lunged at me"

"That one bird was worth 25000 ducats" oh for god sake.

"Yeah, well next time take a net" he crossed his arms, giving me a last huff before walking off. I brushed off my jacket, picking the chair back up before sitting back down.

"Well, that was eventful" I spoke a last time, sitting back down.

"Sooo..." I turned again, this time seeing the ladies back from shopping. "Anyone mind filling us in on what just happened?" Ramona, if I knew, I would tell you...

it was nice to know that people could relax and be themselves in times like this.

Made me realise what we were fighting for.

And what we risked losing...

that's when I made up my mind...