[With all due respect to the writers and creators of Gundam Wing, I've pulled their characters out of their time and place, and transplanted them.  It's kind of like being a kid and taking your Star Wars figures into the castle of blocks… or the other random toys into the Ewok village.  So delving into my alternate universe, Gundam Wing retains much of its plot, and its characters their souls.]

Lord Treize surveyed his newly trained recruits.  Their loyalty shone in their faces. The Empire would fall, and a new order would be achieved.  Injustice would perish, and the oppressed would live in freedom.  These soldiers, these innocents, were willing to die for his ideal, and although it pained him, their blood would pave the road to peace.

How beautiful.

He strode through their ranks, looking, in his burnished armor, like a god descending to mingle with his worshippers.  And so he was, in a way, the young swordsman named Zechs Merquise thought cynically of his leader.  It seemed as though the mud should not dare to splash up on his polished greaves, and yet, it did.  Not as though anyone noticed.  Except Zechs.

There was, without a doubt, something different about him.  He knew it all too well, and his comrades seemed to feel it as well.  It went beyond the physical differences that would be apparent to any casual observer.  To the other young men's short, close-cropped hair, Zechs' fell down his back in an even, platinum sheet.  Standard, military issue swords dwelt in new leather scabbards at their sides, but he wore an older blade in a worn sheath.  It was of a graceful design – almost too good for a common soldier.  He kept his cloak over it in such close quarters, to avoid questions he didn't want to answer.

The commander paused in front of him.  Royal blue eyes met Zechs' azure ones.  An unspoken question lay there.  Did he truly want this obscurity?


That was the idea, Zechs thought in mild irritation as the commander continued to walk.


Zechs had to wonder if the man used a little magic to amplify his voice.  They all heard him, and yet he never shouted.

"Today, you will become the Empire's soldiers.  I can see the disgust in your faces.  You came to me to avoid this very thing.  Do you feel that I've betrayed you?"

The silence hung in the air, as thick as the mud they tried not to squelch beneath their boots as they stood, waiting…

"I will not betray you.  And you do not betray yourselves in this.  I promise you, the justice you yearn for will be granted.  You all know your instructions.  When the time comes, you will know it has come.  All that is left is for you to be given your partner.  For each swordsman, there is an archer.  You have accepted your sworn duty to protect each other.  You are all to insure that your companion makes it to the day we reveal ourselves.  Even at the cost of your life.  Protect him as you would your own brother."  Lord Treize turned to the woman in a simple maroon dress at his side, who handed him the scroll.  He started down the ranks, paused at each young man, spoke a name, and one of the archers came from behind to stand beside his new "brother."  The companions had been carefully chosen, based on their strengths and weaknesses.  Many friends stood at each other's side… and many rivals as well.

"And for you, Zechs, my friend," Treize said quietly, causing the woman to raise an eyebrow, her expression making her otherwise pretty face severe.

"Please," Zechs interrupted, "with all due respect, Your Excellency, I feel I would work better alone."

The woman's expression of disapproval turned to scorn.

"You must not think much of the respect due to me, if you treat my wishes so," Treize said sadly.  His eyes, however, were sharp.  I gave you the chance to stand apart, and you denied it.  It's too late now, he seemed to say.

"Forgive me," Zechs murmured, dropping his eyes.  Spare me… he wanted very much to reply.  Oh well.


Zechs should've been expecting that, of course.  For the best swordsman, the best archer - it was only logical.  Just as he had stunned his instructors and superiors with his prowess with the blade, this boy had astounded everyone with his unsurpassed skill and consistent accuracy.

Still, Zechs felt sure the kid had lied about his age.  His deft hands that bore bowstring calluses were small, delicate, and his pale face was smooth, half of it concealed beneath glossy black hair.  Still, he was average height, although rather skinny.  He couldn't be that young.

Zechs turned to his new companion.  The boy was notoriously silent, but seemed friendly enough in the tight grin he shot at his new brother.  He shouldered his full quiver, and followed the commander down the row with his eyes.  It didn't take much longer.  Soon the soldiers had been neatly divided, and they stood in little clumps on the churned mud.

"Go then," Treize told them.  "I will not keep you waiting long."