WARNING: this chapter is very speech heavy.

Let's see how this one goes...


Chapter 36:

Expeditionaries.

For what it's worth...I never expected a lot of what happened.

The Tavern was one thing, I was expecting a quiet conversation

not a fight in an underground area.

Whoever these guys are...they are big business.

"...looks like he's coming to" I heard someone speak, my vision slowly returning as I registered light.

"About bloody time" A second voice spoke. I put a hand to my forehead as I slowly got up, hearing a beeping in the background. Was I in a hospital or something? The Ceiling was the standard tiling, nothing fancy at all. I saw the walls, seeing them in a black wood of some sort. Most likely painted that way. To my right was the wall with a window open, showing a forest scene, the sun shining down upon the trees. I saw a heart monitor as well.

"Took you long enough to wake back up" I heard a male voice speak. I turned to my left, seeing a young man, early 20's with a trimmed beard, sporting numerous scars all over his face and his short brown hair having been burnt to it's current level. He was wearing a dark shirt with a holster on his side for a pistol, along with leather trousers and boots. His eyes were dark, with scars narrowly around the pair.

"You are?"

"I'll tell you later" his voice was calm, relaxed, but betrayed his age. He was older then he looked, and it was rough as hell. "Thought I might as well start this out properly for once"

"What the hell do you mean by that?" he grabbed a chair, pulling it alongside the bed and leaning on the back.

"Not everyday we look for recruits, but a lot of the guys were taken down" He cracked his neck at this point, and I swung my legs out of bed. "That and you're the son of two legends of the battlefield"

"Don't go that far" I put a hand on the back of my neck, rubbing it to relieve some tension. "How long have I been out?"

"12 hours...don't worry, I've told Varrot, she understands and will tell your squad something to cover your ass" I smirked, breathing a few times.

"Guess they won't mind me missing training for a bit then...whats the excuse? Can't handle my drink?"

"More then likely"

"If I'm like this now, imagine what I'd be like after sleeping with a girl" He laughed at this point, slapping his leg as he did so. "What's with her anyway? Didn't expect a fight on my hands"

"Well, you see we needed to deal with the new guys and see what your like in battle in different then normal circumstances. Gotta say, not using the light is different then normal...everyone straps it to their pistols and fights like that" I nodded.

"Natural skills" He nodded a few times, looking around.

"So...might as well get to work. Corporal Craig Appleby of Squad 7 Regiment 3" I raised an eyebrow, slowly nodding. "One of the few who've undertaken a stealth mission behind enemy lines. Was interesting to read about that one"

"I'm that important..."

"Any soldier who can get a job done is important. Especially in this outfit" He held his hands out. "Be they Militia or Central" I should feel half honored at that. "Seeing how you did both last night and how you yourself did during Operation Cloudburst, my group has decided to offer you a job"

"A job...that's all you wanted to ask me about...a job" he nodded as I spoke. "You're telling me that you want to give me a job...when I'm fighting on the frontline in the Militia"

"Oh, this won't break you off of that" He stood up, pushing the chair to one side and offering me a hand. "Come on...take a walk with me"

He turned around, walking to a doorway and leaning against it, crossing his arms as he waited for me. I let myself up, getting out of the bed and standing, losing my balance slightly but recovering it quickly, rubbing my forehead. I looked myself over, seeing my old clothes still on me, but with a cast around my leg and on my hands, and I could feel a plaster on my mouth. My leg wasn't in much pain...but the cast was making me limp.

I walked slowly but carefully over to where the guy was, the man turning his head and walking out of the room, ushering me to follow him. He led me through corridors that wouldn't look out of place in one of those old castles that have been modernized...well, I say modernized but you know what I mean. At the top were the old castle blocks but the sides were tiles and things like that. The windows were even arrow slits and proper windows. The lights were electrical which was good considering how it could have been, and the doors were the proper modern wood. He led me down a few corridors, pointing at some doors along the way.

"Welcome to base" he told me, walking slowly ahead. "You've been in our Medical wing, up to date with state of the art equipment from over the globe" That's nice to know I guess. "Over there is our Armory, filled with a mix of modern, experimental and effective weapons and ammo" He pointed to a second. "There's the Training room, with enough to train anyone in any martial skill, from fire arms, to Combat arts, to simple things like starting fires to arming TNT" SIMPLE THINGS? How is arming TNT simple when I'm never taught this kind of thing in the Militia? Heck, I don't think the Engineers are taught how to arm. They get taught to defuse, but that's about it.

"Moving on we have a spare barracks, in case we have to stay here overnight for a multiple day Op" OK, this is getting bloody ridiculous.

"Look mate, I have no idea why you're giving me the old Sales crap, but I'm not going to do anything if I don't know what the hell you're advertising to me or indeed who the hell you are" I stopped where I was, matey boy stopping where he was as well. "Look, you gotta work with me here. I can somewhat guess what you're trying to do, but unless you give me something to actually work with, I am no way interested. All you're succeeding in doing is pushing me away due to not knowing a fecking thing" He sighed, nodding a few times, turning to me after a few seconds.

"So you're saying...that you'd be more willing to listen and join if I told you what I was trying to drag you into?" I nodded.

"No one walks into the Lion's den blind" I told him. He crossed his arms, brushing his almost-a-beard with his hand, his brow furrowed in thought.

"I see...I see..." He smiled, giving me a toothy grin. "Nice to know you keep that instinct about you, even here" He uncrossed his arms, blinking twice. "Well then, let's get this over with" He took on the old army stance, giving me a salute in...well, I liken the Militia and such using the American Style. He Used the British style. "Commander Siegfried Tialest, Call sign Altiesen, of the Gallian Expeditionary forces" What? The Gallians have a force that operates in foreign countries? Fat chance. "We fight the war Gallia Can't, doing the jobs too hard for the army in the shadows" I raised an eyebrow, shaking my head.

"We do the jobs the army can't...by?" I asked, putting a hand on my forehead.

"Some jobs the army are too big for. Know what I mean?" I shook my head. "An army kinda stands out...but a small group can get in and out without making much of a nuisance" oh god...I think I know what he means.

"It's a stealth unit" I surmised. He nodded, smiling. "We're a bloody stealth unit"

"The best funded one on the continent" He seemed too proud when saying that...well considering so far it seems like the ONLY stealth unit on the continent. And then I don't think Stealth Units broadcast their existence to the world and their mothers so for all we know the rest of the world has a unit each. "Infiltration, assassination, demolition, recon, abduction, rescue, the list goes of what we can do" Joy. So they want me to join a group that fight behind enemy lines doing jobs quietly...because?

"OK, so where do I fit in?" He sighed at this part.

"I presume you've heard about Fouzen...and indeed Vasel and Bruhl" I raised an eyebrow at this point.

"Yeah. Who hasn't? Fouzen fell to the Imperials as did Vasel and Bruhl...well Vasel until my Squad came along" He nodded. "Why do you point them out?"

"We lost your mother in a job in Fouzen...and we needed two other recruits to fill up positions left open by members of our team being killed by the Imperials..." he put his hand in front of his face. "Eagle and Hawk...you heard them from the recording...and Stahl was taken captive...we presume now working the Darcsen mines..." I sighed nodding a few times.

"Well... I guess as part of this I need to ask this..." I looked at him, dead center in his eye. He looked straight back at me. "You had the choice between me and my brother, along with countless others in Gallia...Why me? Why not bring James in? He's done the lone wolf act more"

"I was expecting that..." He admitted, turning around and leaning against a windowsill. "Doesn't make it any easier to answer knowing it was coming" I crossed my arms, leaning against a wall.

"Well..." He sighed, turning slowly around.

"We need the best of the best. James is indeed a good sniper, but he is held back by his inability to follow orders. He may get back in line, but we need recruits now, not May" Point taken there. "As for you over half of Gallia...You've got your mother's blood. Not to mention you've done what we do before, when infiltrating Vasel's East Bank" again, point taken. "To be honest, we're desperate" Charming... "We normally work with around six or seven members, and this war had dragged us down to three right now, including myself"

"So this was literally a desperation thing" he shook his head at this point.

"No. No it wasn't...best way to put it is that it's more an opportunity" an Opportunity for what? "Hawk, Stahl and Eagle...while we'll never be able to replace them, we have a chance to find new talent, new skills, new expertise" Wait, wait. I'm going to guess his next line, as I think I've heard this sales pitch before. 'Now is the time for the Expeditionary forces to foster the Next Generation of Gallia's soldiers' "Now is the time for the Expeditionary forces to foster the Next Generation of Gallia's Soldiers" Beer please. I'm feeling frosty. He pulled a cigarette from his pocket, putting it in his mouth and flicking open a lighter hidden in his sleeve, lighting the stick. He took a small drag, lowering it and looking away from me as he exhaled. "So far...we've had only five people we're interested in...and you're the last of my potential recruits today. Already taken on two others"

"Oh, so it's a straight three then..."

"Well...kinda" He pulled his fag out of his mouth with two fingers, tapping the end and letting the ash hit the ground. "Gonna be honest with you. Over the years we've found that around six is the sweet spot with our numbers. Never go above seven and you get a good effective team, especially if they are in different fields. You were shocktrooper number two by the way" he put the fag back in, moving it to one end of his mouth. "Anything else you want to ask or can we carry on the tour?" I shook my head.

"I don't really care about this tour..." See if you can guess where this is going. "I just...want to know where I sign" he raised an eyebrow, nodding a few times. I kinda knew I wanted to do this. Hell, they thought I could, and if it helped...I'd gladly join.

"Follow me"

I'll spare you some of the details, as it pretty much was him leading me down corridor after corridor after corridor, passing some rooms filled with either weapons, training objects or general files. Only thing that was out of place was the bed room, and then that was because there was actually nine of them instead of one for twenty or so people. At one point a young man walked along side him, passing him a clipboard with a piece of paper on it. I couldn't catch the conversation, but I heard bits and pieces. Operation Desert Shield or something like that. Sounded like the Imperials were up to something.

We came to a large oaken door, complete with iron bands to keep the wood in line and bolted in place. A large black iron hoop for a handle, big enough for me to get my hand through. And I wouldn't be surprised it had been used as a hula hoop as some point. Siegfried grabbed the handle, twisting it and pushing the door slowly open, the creak of steel and wood issued forth from it as it slowly moved. I heard the clash of steel on steel as it opened.

"Are you two fighting again?" He asked as he held the door open to let me in. I walked in first, looking around and seeing a pair fighting each other with what I can only describe as poles. I looked around, Siegfried moving to break them up as I did so. On the walls were a multitude of maps of various sections of Gallia, each labeled with troop movements within the sector, a large red section representing the Imperials I can safely presume. Just about every single map had a crosshatched pattern over Gallian land showing where the Imperials had marched and taken, with only our side of the river being white. It's kinda...ominous, looking at it like this. We've somehow still got hold of the south near Lanseal and Melvere, most likely due to the Barious Desert not being the best place to send an army across. Kinda reminds me of the Quttara depression in Egypt...will never be crossed. HAH! Take that Empire.

One of the big things I noticed was on a different wall, behind a large table set with a map and some models, was a wall set with pictures and hanging Dog Tags. I walked over to them, looking over the numerous sets, some rusted beyond all recognition. I looked up and down the wall, finding at least twenty five sets. I placed one in my hand, lifting it up and giving it a closer look.

Stephan 'Hawk' Estaban. Sniper. Service: 12th, March, 1935. KIA 19th March 1935 Operation Door Stop. May the Valkyrur Guide his soul to the Aether.

Age: 25

He died too young. I looked at another, looking over the details once more, running my thumb over it to get some of the rust off.

Lazarus 'Eagle' Estaban. Shocktrooper. Service: 12th March 1935. KIA March 1935 Operation Trench Foot. May the Valkyrur Guide his soul to the Aether

Age: 22

Brothers... I saw another one, this one even rustier then the others, obviously having been used a lot longer then the others. It was dented, along with having marks where bullets must have gone through it. I raised an eyebrow as I read it.

Karen 'Stahl' Appleby. Service: 3rd September 1903. Golden lance of Gallia awarded 6th November 1909. Departed active service: December. Returned: 12th March, 1935. MIA presumed captured April 1st, 1935. Operation Under Mine. Scout.

"Kinda harrowing ain't it kid?" the female voice from last night spoke. I turned, now seeing her in a good light...so to speak. Short brown hair with a clean face, tall with a tank top and jeans...however the hell they exist in this world at this time, torn all the way up to her thighs. Two gun holsters on her side, both holding Valkyrur models. Her eyes were closed at this point. She was leaning against the wall, one foot on it, arms crossed. "Knowing that people this young are dying..." I looked away before nodding, sighing.

"It's war...and this kind of thing will happen" I admitted, almost coldly. "Least I can do is try my best to stay alive and save everyone I can" She looked to one side, moving her left hand in a dismissive manner.

"You starting to sound like a crappy hero type" She told me, looking coldly at me. "Listen kid, heroes only exist in stories and in games. They don't exist in real life. You got it?" I nodded.

"I know...can't stop me wanting to act like that eh?" I turned to her, smiling. "So what do I call you then? Don't think 'bitch' suits right now" she turned away.

"Call me what you will. I can't give a damn considering...but everyone calls me Revy" Revy huh? Entertaining. "What about you meatbag?"

"Hah hah. Nice to know you haven't lost your humor..." I turned to her. "Name's Craig...take it you have a weird sex life based on last night" She blushed, looking away and scratching at her cheek with one finger.

"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah" She looked back at me, giving me a kinda half arsed look. "Let's...erm...forget I said that...right?"

"Craig, Revy, you two done chatting back there?" Siegfried asked. We turned to him, seeing him giving us a salute, now three other people in the room. One had a pole in one hand resting on her shoulder, one was sat in a chair, arms crossed, and the third was leaning against a wall. "If you guys are done chatting, we might as well get to know one another" I nodded, so did Revy, walking over to him. "Right...so, seeing as we had issues with you Miss, you start us off"

"Oh man...fine" the pole-d one started, sighing as she span the pole in her hand. "What d'ya wanna know boss man?"

"Name, rank, serving in, age" She nodded, giving us a salute across her chest.

"The name's Silven Eradora. I'm a Master Sergeant in Regiment 2, squad 5, as a Scout. 18 years old with a brother in Regiment 1" OK, bit late for explanations, but she's actually not a bad looker in my eyes. Long green hair down her back, and blue eyes. Small scar on her right cheek and a moderate chest. Her clothing consists of pretty much normal clothes. A blue shirt unbuttoned to show a small amount of cleavage, the emblem of the Gallian army on the right sleeve, Fingerless gloves, combat trousers akin to those from the Militia and just...shoes. Nothing fancy, just shoes. Just gonna say it now, she is FIT! Tall, not too thin but not too big, nice pair if you know what I mean. Her voice was fair, calm and I could sense an accent of sorts. Must be a Gallian subaccent or something, I don't know.

"Aren't you bozos meant to be deployed in the south?" Revy asked. Silven turned to her, nodding.

"Yes, but we get deployed around the North due to the Empire headed straight for Randgriz as opposed to Lanseal" She sighed at this point, crossing her arms but putting her elbow on her hand, holding her chin. "Only problem is Yuell was hit. We barely held the front line. Thankfully we blew the bridges once friendlies were clear, so anything south of that is safe. Vasel became the front line after that" Oh, so her regiment is why we were outmatched at Vasel for a time. "I hear Damon got real mad after I set up the charge"

"Oddly he recommended you to us..." Siegfried spoke, smiling. "His exact words were 'this bitch doesn't know how to deal with authority. She'll be perfect for you and your misfits'" Silven rolled her eyes at this.

"Yeah, like I give a fuck what he thinks. He abandoned us as soon as the battle started. Gave command to my boss and fled faster then a Camelopard on heat" Camelopard? Wha? Siegfried laughed at this point.

"That's the Damon I know...thanks anyway Miss Era-"

"It's Silven Damn it!"

"Yes...erm. Thank you Silven" He looked away quickly, obviously unnerved by Silven's line. Siegfried, if this is your elite, you're in trouble yourself. "So, moving to you"

"Elias Martinique, Regiment 2 squad 9" now I remember something about squad 9. they are Volunteers from Lanseal, students. Volunteers is one way to put it considering that the students volunteer for the front line when they could stay back and learn. "Aptitude tests have designated me as a Lancer, age 20"

"I'd heard you were set as a Scout" Silven spoke. Elias scratch the back of his head in reply.

"I got into both, but majority of the time I'm a scout to keep the heat off of my Sis in the combat zone. For what it's worth, I'm good at both." Again, late explanation. He has black hair which is cut unneatly, almost as if he did it himself with a knife. He's currently wearing a black jacket to go with his white shirt and trousers, with just plain boots. On his right arm is a bracelet thing, with both a watch and a picture on it. Family I presume. "Besides, I can do more on the front then I can sniping. Too impatient for all that aiming malarky" Brash, confident, tall and he appears to be strong and fit...almost a perfect trooper...so why is he a scout? "'sides, you'll get to meet my sis"

"I don't need you to talk for me Elias" the girl next to him spoke, sighing afterward. We all turned to her, seeing her wearing a trench coat, hiding a young girl wearing a pair of jeans with an almost dress looking top, cut at just below the shoulders all the way across the top. She had long red hair, a clean face, but didn't look too strong. OK, I'm male when I say this, nice pair on her. Seems we've gotten three nice ladies.

"Take it your Ruby eh?" Ruby? What? Siegfried put his hand on her shoulder as he spoke. "About time you left that singers job"

"Boss, only reason I started there was because you wouldn't let me start here until my 18th. And now I find out you've admitted a 16 year old" she looked at me, giving me half a scowl. What the hell did I do wrong?

"Times are more desperate then before" the old man admitted, taking his hand off and walking away. "But come on, may as well follow the same idea" Ruby sighed. "Besides, the Application you made was before the war actually began"

"Right, right, I get'cha" She did a small salute. "Ruby Matinique, Regiment 2 squad 10" More Volunteers from Lanseal, but a second wave of them. "I'm a scout sniper, but I have experience with every weapon aside from LANCAARs, 18 years old and still going" her voice was beautiful, I'll give her that. Matched her looks as well. "I'm a graduate from Lanseal academy" phew, fancy.

"Ah, so a Lanseal fancy ass eh?" Revy spoke, rubbing under her nose. "Hear that place gives you a real nice training. How'd you do for class and Laevatein?" Ruby looked away, breathing, blushing.

"Class D...we won Laevatein hands down" Lanseal runs it's own internal tournament. Where every class from A to G fight it out in training battles to win the cup, and the military use both the class and the results when deciding on ranks upon recruitment. Apparently it's almost a guarantee of an officer job if your a class A student and win the cup. Revy was raising an eyebrow at this, whistling.

"That's a fancy skill set you have there" She nodded a few times.

"Well what about you, baby? What makes you so special?" Elias asked. I turned to Revy, seeing her giving an almost evil smirk.

"Revy Moonbeam" She pulled a pistol out, spinning it on the finger. "24 and a freelancer...I think you'd call me a specialist"

"Specialist in what?" Revy stopped the gun spinning, barely moving her gaze as she emptied the clip around the young man, the casings hitting the ground before we all realized what had happened. Revy smiled, an imprint in the wall behind Elias where the bullets flew by his head. I blinked twice, turning slowly to her as we all looked at her after seeing the marks.

"What are you?" I asked. She pulled a cigarette from her pocket, placing it in her mouth before pulling the lighter from her pocket and lighting it up, not a care in the world evident on her face.

"I stand in the darkness..." she spoke, taking a drag before pulling the fag out, exhaling a small cloud of smoke before putting her gun away. "And before this is over...so will you" She looked at me, giving me a very cold look, freezing me to my core. I stood there, mouth hanging open as she replaced the smoke. "You gonna watch me all day..." I blinked twice, shaking my head before turning to the others.

"Craig Alex Appleby. 16 and a shock trooper in Regiment 3 Squad 7" they all looked at me more intently as I said this. "I've been out the country since my father passed on, along with my brother as we wanted to see the world. But we came back in time to help with the fight" Ruby raised an eyebrow at me, nodding a few times.

"The Son of Karen and Ted of EW1?" she asked. I nodded, getting her to instantly run over and grab my hand. Her face was an almost clear indication that she had entered 'fan mode'...who was I? All of Linkin Park in one man? "Oh my gosh! I can't believe I'm meeting one of the children of two legends! What's Ted like? Is it true Karen was a scout? What happened to your dad? Are you hoping to follow in their footsteps?"

The questions came almost as fast as a machine gun could fire. I swallowed, my eyes open wide as I suddenly felt like a movie star. She didn't even stop, the questions still came thick and fast. After like a minute of this, Elias eventually stood up, walking over to his sister and dragging her off of me.

"Sorry bro. EW1 is kinda a major topic at Lanseal, with your parents being quite famous for what they did" He told me, lifting up a kicking, punch and screaming Ruby and carrying her away. "Honor to meet you by the way" I just raised a hand, shocked at this sudden outburst. My parents were that famous?

"You're gonna make us proud kid" Revy spoke, patting my back. "Show us who your the son of"

No pressure apparently.

"Knock it off" Siegfried told the guys. I looked around, sighing. "Right, combat training, 5 minutes at the firing range. Get to work"

All that to come to this.

It sounds like a bloody waste of time

but then...it was doing something for Gallia

who was I to turn it down.