Here's part 2! Well, I'll say, it took me quite a while.

Outside the Pentagon

As Fio and Leon were the first individuals to actually wake up early and head out at exactly 9:30 AM, they were among the first to reach the Pentagon. Monday mornings were no surprise when it came to traffic-the highways were always jam-packed with cars, but a bit of patience and some music made the trip not so-boring…but man, did Fio get annoyed by the snoring of her friend!

Both individuals sat outside on a nearby bench with their load of necessary luggage, waiting for her family to arrive and meet them. Minutes passed, and it wasn't long before both of Fio's parents emerged from the Pentagon's front doors after a meeting-as soon as they saw their beloved daughter, they couldn't help but call to her.


In response, the SPARROWS agent sprinted towards both of them and the happy family trio was all group hugging and was reunited after not seeing each other for almost five years, leaving Leon standing there, staring in quite a shock. He shook his head a bit and tried to keep his cool.

"Mom! Dad! I missed you so much!" She cheered happily, all the while clutching her parents with her arms.

"How's my little angel doing? Sorry we're late, but were talking to Cynthia about, well…getting substitutes to fill in for your assignments. No need to worry about it-those assignments will be finished by those ones who were actually responsible for them!" Her father chuckled. Mr. Germi (real name classified for security and military protocols) was a middle-aged man with dark brown hair and quite an impressive build, a flashy mustache with quite the comical appearance and a heavily battle-scarred face, presumably from the Gulf Wars.

Fio's mother rubbed her daughter's hair playfully. "Have you been eating well, sweetie? You seem thinner now!" Mrs. Germi, on the other hand, was nearly identical to her daughter, with the exception her hair was slightly reddish and was slightly less messy.

"Aw, mom! You know I can cook and feed myself just as well as you!"

As the Germi family socialized among themselves, Leon approached over slowly, eyes widened. Never in his life had he met such a happy family even in a world suffering devastating wars and conflicts! He tried to open his mouth but he couldn't speak upon seeing Mr. Germi's impressive build. "Uh…hi?"

"So…Fio, is this…your friend you've been telling me?" Her father questioned, judging Leon's physical appearance. His glare had literally turned the Marine to stone!

The SPARROWS agent wandered over to the soldier, placed her left hand around his shoulder and pulled him tightly towards her, as if she was about to pose for a best buddies picture with Leon. "Oh, this is Leon Chan! He used to be a former US Marine, but because he disobeyed an order in an unauthorized operation, he got himself transferred over to our commando team! I have to say, he's a really, really impressive soldier with the exception he loves to crack jokes and the fact I had to teach him manners on how to eat! So, what do you think of him? Isn't he a great friend?" As she blabbered on, Leon didn't say a word because he knew she'd shut him up with something like "Aup bup bup! No interruptions!" or "Wait your turn!" even though he wasn't happy with her blurting out information not supposedly to be given out. If his crimes went public, he would be definitely be forced to go into hiding for a while.

It wasn't long till Fio's father had stuck out his hand for a handshake. "The name's Mr. Germi-can't tell you my first name though, they've got spies everywhere. Damn rebels. Anyways, I'm a former NATO soldier that served during the Gulf Wars, but now I'm the head of Europe's R&D for the Global Defense Alliance and I've worked with your father for over 10 years-he was a great man until he passed away. With the exception that you were an extremely rebellious child, everything he said was true about you. I also have to thank you for looking out for Fio out in the warzone. Sorry if I sounded a little scary there, but then, if you read my files, I'm not the friendliest soldier out there. Put her there!"

Leon shook his hand hesitantly. "Yes, it's an honor to meet a veteran billionaire. Like Fio said, I'm Leon Chan, Corporal of the US Marines Space Division. I'm sure my father would be proud if he saw me here today shaking your hand! And I'm just doing my job-providing cover fire and support for my teammates!" He grinned nervously, shaken, shocked and amazed from shaking the hand of one of the most powerful individuals in the world.

"Aw, so this is your friend, Fio? He's so cute, just like you said!" Fio's mother smiled, approached him and pinched his cheeks silly. "You remind me of your father, although you're far cuter! Trust me, my husband is very disobedient! I think you two would get along really well!"

Crossing his arms and tapping his feet, Mr. Germi rolled his eyes. "Well thanks for that! They can't simply throw my cute little Fiolina in the battlefield-somebody needs to stand up to her!" He was referring to the times where he threatened superior officers to recall her daughter's deployment whenever she was tossed to the frontlines. Caused by paperwork fiascos and corrupt government actions, as always.

Leon felt a bit annoyed as Fio's mother messed with his hair. "Hey! Cut it out! That's not funny!" In response, her father and the SPARROWS agent laughed heartily. Like Mother like Daughter…I guess it was true. Mr. Chan thought helplessly.

The group of four continued to socialize, mostly about Leon and his silliness. However, it was Fio's father that enjoyed the stories about the soldier the most, since he was looking for someone that could lighten up his dull, boring life with jokes. "I'll tell you one thing," He spoke gruffly. "Corporal Leon is by far better than any comedian I've paid attention to, and that's saying a lot even though we met for 2 minutes! I never heard of anyone whom lost their pants during a paratrooper assault or had a grenade explode in their pants and survive, I wish I was there to have seen it!"

"Why…thank you…" Leon laughed nervously. "My team calls me the funniest member on the team-serves me right to fight when I don't have any pants on! Haha!"

"Oh look, here comes my other friends!" Fio announced as a Humvee came to a halt in the parking lot.

A couple of minutes later, Marco, Tarma, and Flynn emerged from monster truck Humvee, and after unloading their shipments consisting of their luggage, not to mention Flynn's monstrous firearms collection, the trio headed over to the group and greeted each other with smiles.

"Oh, if it isn't Mr. Rossi and Mr. Roving, and another stranger I don't seem to recognize!" The billionaire chuckled. "Why don't you introduce yourself, young man?"

As Marco and Tarma greeted Mrs. Germi, the UAAF Marine saluted to Fio's old man with a sick smile. "I'm Flynn Taggart, First Lieutenant for the US Space Marines and for the Commando Team. Been serving with these youngsters since the European Crisis and I am the one responsible for delivering the overwhelming firepower I'm always known for! And I'm no young man-I'm a 39 year old dog with quite a history!"

"I have to say, you've got an impressive build…" Mr. Germi was amazed at the soldier's bulging muscle and body, all adorned by his bulky combat armor suit (codenamed the XM8000 Composite Armor Vest) which were capable of repelling most armor-piercing bullets with no difficulties. "Want to challenge me to an arm wrestling match sometime? I'd love to test my prowess even at my old age of 53!"

"Be glad to!" Flynn laughed. "I've been looking forward to it ever since I heard about your participation in the Gulf War!"

"Uh just one thing, though. That's not something my wife likes to talk about all the time, so here's a little secret-don't talk about it when she's around!" He nervously whispered into the Marine's ear. "Trust me, she gets tired of me whenever I talk about it…I wonder why I ended up with her anyways since she dislikes "warmongering freaks"!"

"I'll agree with that…most of my teammates are like that in general." The soldier shrugged a bit and hollered over to Marco. "Dude! Are the cases containing my weapons firmly locked and secured?"

"Yes!" A voice called back.

The word "weapons" caught the veteran's attention. "What'd you bring, my good man?" Fio's father asked, observing the massive metallic crates. His eyes were mostly kept on the massive one about half the size of an office table. "That one…what's in it? I know you have a shotgun and M60 but that one…it looks quite a large weapon for a handheld firearm!"

Crossing his arms, Mr. Taggart decided to keep it a secret-the security guards weren't particular fond of a trigger-happy soldier running around with a mass-destruction device on government property. "I'll tell you when we get out of the US, let's just say it's a Big Freaking Gun. That's what I called the gun ever since I first received it!"

"So, are you two getting along?" Fio bounced over and asked.

"Indeed! Your old pops promised to arm wrestle me once we get the chance!" He flexed his muscles a bit and dusted his signature combat armor.

"I have to see that!" Leon spoke excitedly upon overhearing the conversation.

Meanwhile, both Marco and Tarma were socializing with Mrs. Germi, both men nervously scratching their heads as they socialized. "So, has my daughter been treating you well? How has she been performing on the battlefield?" Her mother asked with a big smile-exactly like Fio did 95% of the time.

Tarma chuckled slightly. "Oh yes! Out of all of us, she has got to be the most upbeat and helpful ones! I mean, as soon as she hears our stomach grumble, she'll throw some awesome food at us! I'm just glad I don't have to pack extra military rations because those are awful!" He shivered a bit from the time where he had to gulp down a ration pack that was over 4 weeks expired, and the fact it was some weird-smelling crap he couldn't seem to recognize. "Beggars can't be choosers." He groaned as he reminded himself at that time.

"I'm just glad my daughter is making such great friends in the military! When she was forced to join at the age of 18 by my husband, she was crying and whining all the time! Oh my, it took ages to settle the poor girl down, not to mention a lot of tissues! But hey, he was so stubborn, there were no negotiations-the most adorable being I know was going to be sent off to the war! I'm beginning to wonder why my crazy husband thought that pint-sized baby of mines was going to be soldier material anyways!" She laughed heartily.

"Mom! Stop embarrassing me!" Fio called, having overheard the conversation. "I'm no longer 10 years old!"

Both Peregrine Falcon Commandos could only laugh while (literally) rolling around on the ground, as it was actually true. They soon managed to stop cackling like maniacs but they held their stomachs from laughing too hard-this was the case for Tarma, whom had trouble settling down as he was known to be the carefree joker. He continued to snicker, albeit slightly and quietly.

"Alright, that's enough soldier." Marco didn't find the joke amusing, however. It was probably because he was the head man of the team and if he made himself look like a clown, he'd be a disgrace to the entire squad and not to mention give a bad impression of both himself and all his members in general. "But yeah, that's how we met the girl. The day she saw us, it was friendship at first sight. Anyways, glad to see you again, Mrs. Germi! It's been a while-I'd say almost 5 years!"

"You boys have both grown up so much! The last time I saw you both, you still looked like high-school graduates! But now both of you look like impressive young men!" Her mother complemented in a cheery, upbeat voice.

As they usually did, both commandos blushed a bit and scratched their heads nervously. The sound of a motorcycle approaching soon interrupted their conversation, and Eri soon pulled up to the trio on her sleek, motorcycle (customized by Tarma, of course, after some intense begging and cute face imitations). "Sorry I'm late, but I ran into some traffic on the way." She hopped off her bike, grabbed both backpacks and sighed with relief. "So, what's with the commotion?"

"Oh, you must be Eri, Fio's partner!" Mrs. Germi greeted the explosives commando.

"That's me, and you are? Sorry, my memory is not that great." She scratched her head nervously while smiling.

"I'm Fio's mother, silly! Just call me Mrs. Germi, nothing too complicated needed!"

"I knew that childish look and voice sounded familiar…no offense intended." Eri mumbled a bit. "So, are we ready to head off? I thought you guys would ditch me even though I arrived like 15 minutes late, but it wasn't my fault. There was some detour on Highway 52, some blind bats blocked half the lane in a crash."

Tarma smiled and slapped her back while shrugging. "Nah, we were just busy chatting! But now that you said it, we should head off now!"

US Air Force Military Base, Mr. Germi's Personal Jet, 13 hours (Standard Military Time)

After all that was said and done during their stay at the Pentagon, the entire team headed to the local air base, where Fio's father had landed his private aircraft for refueling during his arrival. Considered to be one of the richest individuals alive on the planet, the billionaire, being a veteran and the head of a research company, the man was capable of affording pretty much anything he wished-even space weapons, if it became necessary. But then, because of his wife's anti-war attitudes, he scrapped plans to build up an arsenal of top secret super weapons in order to sell to the Global Defense Alliance.

What really amazed the individuals was that Mr. Germi's personal aircraft was actually a heavily modified supersonic bomber-while it could be designed to engage enemies, it was not armed at the moment but it could also serve as a luxury vehicle, and this, of course, sent both US Marines dropping their jaws.

"…wow. I've heard of rich dudes flying around their planes like they're riding bikes…but THIS TAKES THE CAKE! A B-1 Lancer re-modified for supersonic flight!" Flynn gasped as he headed into the vehicle, amazed at the supersonic bomber/transport hybrid. "At least, this door is actually tall enough for me to fit through for once!"

The wealthy veteran chuckled. "Oh, this is nothing. Wait till you see my personal Battlecruiser and a custom Wolverine Battle Mech I customized myself! Sometimes I really think I have way too much money, but then, I already donated a lot of it to the veteran's fund and the GDA. That's why you commandos get free stuff all the time! That's why whenever I get a bill it's always related to something such as Mr. Taggart's beer expenses and Fio's dining costs! But don't break a sweat-I don't know how much to thank you guys for backing up my girl out there."

Leon shuffled his flak jacket a bit, trying to cool himself down from the intense summer heat. "Well, maybe you should tell them to give me a personal AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter then." He laughed as he headed into the aircraft, carrying his case containing the shotgun. "I want one of those babies to complement my arsenal."

"I want a customized military bike with jet engines if he gets an Apache!" Tarma shot up. Even though he could build one himself if he really wanted to, he lacked the funds to gather the necessary material to construct such a marvel.

"My, you boys are obsessed with military hardware, just like my husband!" Mrs. Germi chuckled nervously.

"…this is just the beginning." Eri groaned as she headed into the aircraft. "But then, I'm also a big fan of collecting weapons, so don't blame them." She was referring to her impressive revolver and handgun collection she had in her house.

"Enough chitchat, let's get moving!" Tarma cheered as he signaled the team to get into the vehicle.

Approximately 30 minutes later, they were airborne and were headed for their destination-Genova, Italy-namely, Fio's hometown.

Most of the individuals were separated as they tended to their own business-while Flynn was getting the adrenaline-pumping arm wrestling match he always wanted with the billionaire veteran (of course, he had his own pilot despite the fact he was a veteran pilot and soldier from the Gulf War, and flying wasn't really his thing), Marco was busy socializing with Fio's mother about his battle experiences, while Eri and Fio sat near the back conversing themselves, with the demolitions expert busily flipping through a weapons magazine while the support gunner was of course, checking out the latest fashion magazine. Tarma talked to Leon was he was busily cleaning his Benelli M4 Super Shotgun, something both individuals loved to do to waste their spare time on long trips-let it be going to a tropical country or being paradropped into the warzone somewhere in the desert or jungle.

As the US Marine and Italian veteran attempted to best each other, their heads were pouring with sweat with their faces turning redder than a ripe cherry. There was no clear cut winner-both individuals were just far too evenly matched, but then, that's what both soldiers exactly liked. A grueling match with a worthy opponent deemed impossible to defeat, as winning to them didn't matter anymore. Like they said personally: "I don't know how many times we were forced to retreat even though we tried our best!" Their moral of this was the fact winning wasn't everything if you came home in a body bag.

"Whew!" Flynn puffed a bit as he wiped his brownish-blonde hair which was soaked with sweat. "I guess I've finally found someone capable of matching me!" He took a gulp from a glass of beer from the table at his side.

In response, his opponent laughed slightly. "Well, at least I know who to go to when I need some exercise. Whenever I challenge the other Marines I meet, they always end up having their hands malfunctioning for at least 3 days! 1st Lieutenant Flynn Taggart, I would be happy if you would tell me more of your stories in the Marines!" As a veteran himself, he lived to hear the adventures of fellow war heroes that have strived to their limits to make their names in history books and hall of fames.

"Whoa, don't get that formal on me, soldier." Flynn scratched his head nervously while shaking his hands in a "no" fashion. "But then, if you say so, I'll tell them! I have hundreds! Maybe I should mention the weapons I have in that case while I'm at it, since we're out of sight from the damn government."

"Oh?" Mr. Germi perked up. "What do you have in those cases?"

"The BFG9000, a M60 and a SPAS 12 Shotgun." Flynn replied hastily. "A mass destruction device, a classic American machine gun, and the famous Italian-made combat shotgun. But I'll tell more about that after I'm done my storytelling."

"I'm all ears, Marine."

And so, his storytelling began as Mr. Germi paid close attention to the chattering veteran US Marine nodding and saying "mhm" occasionally as he spoke.

Across from the aircraft's cabin, Marco and Mrs. Germi observed them as they chattered about their teammates, experiences, and adventures from the very first war all the way up to the times when the Venusians decided to turn Humans and Martians alike into a quick midnight snack. "Mr. Taggart must be sharing his war hero stories again." He muttered a bit, overhearing his friend's endless chatter from across where he sat.

"Do you boys always do that?" Fio's mother asked. "I know my husband does it all the time at the dinner table, even though Fio and I never really bother paying attention-it is his brothers in arms that always listen! I respect him for being a veteran, but he never stops ranting!" She tried not to laugh childishly.

"Just like our good old Marine friend. I think your husband now has a new friend…and that's saying a lot! Few can make friends with Flynn-he's a hardcore war nut that's really difficult to prove yourself to-when I tried to arm wrestle him, he slammed my arm into the ground like it wasn't even there! But he didn't injure me, so I guess I should be thankful for that." He cracked his fists a bit. "Don't mind that, I do it all the time."

While they were both out of the hearing range of others (not to mention everyone else was preoccupied at the moment), Mrs. Germi decided to ask the PF Commando about how well he had been getting along with her daughter. "Mr. Rossi, if you don't mind…"

"Marco will do. No need to get too formal on me!" He smiled a bit.

Smiling, she continued her question. "How has Fio been treating you? Aside from Eri, you're her closest friend. Then ever since the other two boys joined from the Marines, Leon's more of a punching bag for that little angel. What about you?"

"Well…let's just say she's treating me like everyone else on the team-caring and loving like we're all a family member." He drummed his fingers a bit. "And uh…well, she never fails to cheer us up when we need it the most-we feel like we never owe enough to her despite the fact we try our best. While she thanks us with the best homemade meals and family comfort only the most hard-bitten soldier could ever dream of on the cold battlefields, the best we can give her is our absolute promise to keep her from harm and a bit of love in return."

"Aw, well I suppose as long as you do your best, she'll be happy." She patted him on the shoulder. "When I had to raise her, she wasn't the wanting type-as long as she got her teddy bear and comfort from me and my husband, she was happy. I don't know why, but I think what makes her really happy is seeing those ones around her that are happy." Her mother smiled a bit, thinking about the times where she had to deal with both her and Mr. Germi. "A blink of an eye and it's already 20 years…"

As soon as she mentioned how time had passed, the memories of Marco's previous tours and wars instantly flashed back into his mind like a bad memory. "It sure has…" He replied with a somber face.

"What's wrong? Would you mind if you told me? Fio always said you had this problem of always recalling to your past and going into a deep depression."

"Uh…yeah. I'll tell it to ya, if you don't mind. It's quite a story involving the loss of almost all my childhood compatriots."

Fio's mother smiled slightly. "Of course I don't."

Taking a quick drink from his beer, he began his story of his first missions and the deaths of all his squad mates save for Tarma and himself. Interestingly, both storytellers that told their adventures to the Germi family were high-ranking military leaders (Flynn was a US Marine Lieutenant while Marco was the platoon leader of his squad as a whole, not to mention being an important representative for the Regular Army as a whole).


"That should do it." Leon disassembled his shotgun and began placing the pieces of the disassembled weapon on the table. "These weapons are definitely easier to maintain than the SPAS-12 series of shotguns, that's for sure." He brought out a cloth and began cleaning the components of his weapon, all the while dumping pieces of dried up debris in the weapon into a nearby trash bin, chewing some gum as he did so.

Tarma carefully managed his own .50 Murder sidearm, the mainstream pistol among most Regular Army combatants. However, ever since the European Crisis, they were now allowed to select their own sidearms of choice. As Leon and Flynn were not satisfied with the lack of deadly firepower with the stock handguns the Regular Army provided them, they decided to stick with customized Desert Eagles and Beretta 92FS pistols, respectively. "Hey Leon, ever consider transferring over to our corps in the event we get disbanded as commandos? You know, the day they might pull us out." He asked as he stuck a cotton ball into his handgun and removed some sticky dust in the barrel interior of his handgun.

"Not sure." The US Marine carefully oiled the interior of the shotgun barrel with a cotton swab, removing all unnecessary obstructions that might cause the shotgun to jam. "They probably wouldn't take me or Flynn back anyways, even though they still consider us a part of their units. But then, we've hung out with you guys for almost 5 years…" He trailed off a bit and continued his cleaning procedure. "Although with the tag "US Marine" slapped on my official profile, I still don't feel I belong with you guys." He looked out the window and observed the clouds, resembling massive carpets of cotton candy, pass by the endless sky.

"Hey, cheer up, Corporal. You know you're a part of us ever since you went against Greyfield." Tarma placed his handgun down and grinned a bit. "Besides, we would hate it if you left us. I'm sure Marco would, as he can't even get over mourning the losses of all of his 8 other friends that died in the first war-especially the girls on the team. But then…I feel his pain." He took off his sunglasses and placed them into the pocket of his vest.

Leon began to re-assemble his shotgun back together, having cleaned out all the necessary components. "Yeah, I suppose so. I'd say I would also have a tough time trying to leave you guys." His mind turned to the thoughts of his dead compatriots-all 9 other friends dead in a couple of days. "Let's change the subject."

Behind them, Eri grumbled a bit from Fio's occasional giggling as she forced herself to ignore her childish actions.

"Oh, Eri, this looks so cute! Do you think dress will look fat on me?" She tapped her shoulder and made her look at a light-blue ballroom dress displayed in the magazine. "I so want it if it looks good on me!"

Slapping her forehead in frustration, she looked like she was about to slam her head on the table. "I'm your partner, not your fashion advisor. And don't ask me, I absolutely hate getting stuck in those pajamas." She shot back a bit and continued to browse through her magazine. "Hmm, a Milkor MGL Grenade Launcher…I might get this. It'll be a great complement to my explosives arsenal." She turned the page, and noticed the new models of grenade launchers being introduced possibly in the future. "XM25 prototypes…well, can't afford them, so I'll stick with my current weapons." She closed the leaflet and took a sip from her drink. "And like I was saying, get whatever you want-but don't drag me into your interests."

"Aw, come on! Dancing can be fun! I'll teach you!" Fio placed the brightest smile on her face, which literally shocked her compatriot. "All we need to do is find you the proper dress for the occasion! I think this green one will suit you very well!"

"DON'T YOU DARE-" But as she raised her voice, everyone in the aircraft gave her an awkward stare. Noticing the situation, Eri instantly chuckled nervously as her face reddened a bit. "Oh…never mind that." She sat back down, and everyone else did so while muttering amongst themselves. "Like I said, no, I don't want to dance like a fool, alright!" She whispered tensely. If there was one person on the Commando team that hated social dancing (or ballroom dancing in Fio's perspective) it was her. She absolutely despised it and could not stand it for more than 5 seconds, let alone wear a dress in the first place!

"But you'll never get any friends if you keep being so closed to yourself! I'll find something neat for you to wear…" Fio flipped through the magazine, hoping to find a dress that would actually fit her friend.

Crossing her arms across her chest, Eri continued to gaze out the window as the sun began to set amongst the endless ocean of clouds. "I don't need friends, remember what I said? We all die alone-when I was younger, friends were a non-existent object that hindered me. We're all solitary creatures and that'll continue until we drop dead somehow." She released a trouble-sounding sigh.

"Feeling sad?"

"No." Eri sternly replied.

"But aren't you said that you aren't getting along as well as everyone else is? I mean, look at Tarma and Leon!" Fio poked her head over to them and observed the two soldiers chatter amongst themselves while teaching each other how to use weapons, as Tarma never had experience with USMC weaponry while Leon had never held a standard FN FAL Rifle before (the standard assault rifle for frontline Regular Army soldiers). Smiling a bit, she sat back down and looked at her compatriot, whom was trying to sleep.

Perhaps there is really nothing much that can be done to change her…

Everyone on the plane soon fell asleep as dusk approached and as they were nearing in on their destination.

Germi Estate, Genova (about 13 hours later)

"Hey, wake up!" A voice spoke.

All the teammates crammed in the limousine stirred a bit, shook their heads, and yawned. Apparently, they had fallen asleep on the aircraft and had snoozed until the next early morning.

Fio's father once again called for the Commandos to wake up. "Wake up, everyone. We're here. I didn't want to wake you guys up because you were all snoozing so happily. The guys threw you into the limousine, but at least you're not all stacked on top of each other. But anyways, welcome to my beautiful home."

Marco grunted a bit and climbed out of the vehicle. "Oh…how long have we been sleeping?" As he yawned and stretched, his other teammates all began to get to their senses and climb out of their vehicle. What stood before him was the Germi Estate.

It was perhaps one of the grandest objects the team had ever seen in their lives. The mansion was so large it was probably capable of probably accommodating at least 500 people, comparable to a miniature hotel. A swimming pool, sports field, shooting range, armory, garden, and even a go-kart racetrack all surrounded the massive structure. If one didn't know that the wealthy family lived here, they could have thought this place was some fancy grand hotel for people with fat wallets. From the outside, the building looked like the typical rich man's home, as dozens of glass windows were seen visible on the house and the architecture design of the estate was primarily snow-white bricks-but this one was much larger compared to a typical mansion a millionaire would show you with pride and was by far probably more expensive than any regular mansion, probably not even affordable by a millionaire. Outside the mansion were dozens of armed guards in tactical uniforms, many of them equipped with HK G36 Assault Rifles and standing idly still in their positions as if they were statues (European countries tended not to adopt the popular American M16 series as they found them prone to failure). One of the guards saluted as Mr. and Mrs. Germi approached them, and they soon began to mumble about something the team couldn't hear about. They were discussing that they would authorize their visitors to enter the mansion, for security reasons.

As Flynn hopped out of the car, he was just astonished at the mansion's appearance. "Fio…this is your home? It's…it's…just impressive. I can't imagine buying such a place even with all my combined life savings."

"Yep! I've been living here until my departure into the military!" She cheerfully replied with a proud attitude. "Come on, everyone! I have to show you around this place!"

"God damn it…your old man is rich." Flynn rubbed his eyes as he tried to realize what he was really seeing. After a bit more reality checks, he confirmed the mansion was in fact existent and not some whacked out dream thanks to tons of beers. "Ok, I'm not dreaming."

"Let's check it out, I suppose. Haven't been here for quite some time so it might be worth seeing the attractions again." Eri holstered her magnum revolver, ensuring it was secure. Meanwhile, Tarma wandered up next to her with a big fat grin.

"You know, if we get married, we can buy such a-"

Eri quickly cut him off abruptly. "Forget it, that isn't happening in years!"

"I was kidding, girl!" Tarma laughed a bit. Meanwhile, a couple of guards assisted in moving their luggage into the mansion-but once they started moving the crate containing Flynn's weapons, the soldier immediately rushed over as if someone was trying to move a grand statue of his. The surprised guards instantly moved away from the crates as if they were thieves abandoning heavy loot while fleeing from the law.

"Hey hey hey! I can take that myself!" He grasped the crates containing the shotgun and M60, puzzling the guards. He didn't want anyone to break or steal his personal weapons, even though they were locked away safely in specialized containers only accessible by the weapon owner him/herself.

"But soldier, Mr. Germi gave me direct orders to move them-"

Flynn quickly grabbed the crate's handle and yanked it away from the personnel. "Well, tell him these are my personal belongings and are properties of the United States Space Marines Corps. You got it, recruit? Because I'm putting the blame on you if these containers break and the contents are either damaged or missing!" To add to the threatening gesture, he pushed his finger against their chests, forcing them to back off a bit.

"Uh…yes." The guards immediately hurried off. On their response, Mr. Taggart chuckled a bit and proceeded to push all three weapons towards the house. Meanwhile, Mr. Germi approached him and shook his head.

"Something wrong?" Flynn asked. "Didn't mean to intimidate your men, but this stuff in the box is something damn precious that ain't leaving my sight."

"Nah. I was just impressed how you could scare the guards! Don't worry-they'll understand. They just never meet soldiers as intimidating as yourself." He slapped the Marine on the shoulder while laughing a bit. "Come on, you should all get changed and go party for the afternoon-my guys will handle the luggage for you. Don't worry-I'll ensure none of the contents will be stolen, missing or damaged."

Stacking all three crates together, he turned to the rich man. "I'll take care of this load myself. In this very case holds some important technology I'm going to present to you later-I cannot bear to afford it being stolen or damaged. So it never leaves my sight!" He patted the crate containing the BFG9000 and Fio's father nodded a bit in response.

"Hey guys! We're going to go swimming, you guys coming!" Tarma called. In response, everyone cheered-they were all looking forward to cool off in the massive swimming pool especially on a hot summer afternoon.

"I'll be there later!" Leon called over. Hefting his case containing the Benelli M4 Shotgun, he surveyed the surroundings and smiled. He finally felt a bit relieved to escape the stress of office work and get a chance to experience a bit of slacking off and such. His mind was placed on the swimming pool, go-kart track and shooting range-after all he wanted to relax and challenge his friends a bit. It was when his thoughts were interrupted when Fio wandered up beside him.

"Hey, uh, I forgot to tell you something…" She spoke with her hands held behind her back.

"Oh?" The soldier replied. "What is it?"

"Well…I just wanted to say your father used to live here during his stay in Europe when he was working alongside my dad. I didn't really want to spoil the surprise, though…but I thought you'd like to visit his office at my house. If you don't mind a few minutes lost from swimming, I can show you around!"

Leon raised an eyebrow in response. "He has an office at your house?" Man, things just get crazier by the moment, but then, my dad never told me about his experiences at work so I don't blame anyone, I guess…

"I'll show it to you, if you don't mind!"

"Be my guest." With that, he hastily followed his guide. Meanwhile, the rest of the squad proceeded to their own rooms to get changed, where everyone had to share a room with someone else. The pairings were obvious, though. Marco would always be paired with Tarma, Eri would be with Fio, and Flynn would definitely be crashing in the same room with Leon.

Old Office, Germi Estate

The interior of the Fio's family estate was much more impressive as if it wasn't grand enough on the outside already-while the exterior sure would amaze any commoner that hadn't been to a mansion, the interior could be described comparable to a five-star hotel. The hallways were furnished and decorated with the most beautiful woodwork ever, while chandeliers adorned with crystals would illuminate the hallways with their glaring, yet tranquil light. Famous paintings, mostly depicting soldiers in battle and weapons of war, were often seen alongside hung on the walls of the massive, endless hallways of the house. Occasionally, the pictures displayed antique weapons such as M4 Sherman Tanks and soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy from a long-forgotten war. Another picture displayed Mr. Germi getting a handshake from an important figure, presumably the American or a European President, for his contributions and feats in the Gulf War. Along the way, Leon was just impressed-how could someone possibly afford all of this and be satisfied? It seemed like a huge punch to the wallet in his view anyways.

"Wow, you have a family of three, but yet you own a house that can accommodate an entire platoon of soldiers. How can you possibly live in this huge place?" Leon asked.

"We're not the only ones that live here, silly!" Fio replied. "My father's entire R&D team also lives here. The guards here are actually off-time soldiers that need something to do when they're off-duty, because when war does break out, this place is deserted and my pop lives at the Global Defense Alliance HQ instead!" She skipped down the hallway as her guest followed. A few officials, presumably GDA R&D members, smiled at the two youngsters as they passed by.

My father used to work for one of the richest and wise men ever lived…and instead he used his funding to support me when I was back in Hong Kong. He could've treated himself with all that cash. Sigh…perhaps if he was alive today, I'd express how grateful I was to him, despite the fact he was strict and harsh on my lifestyles.

The two soon reached a door which had a plaque saying "Mr. Chan's office". The guard standing outside the door looked at the two soldiers and greeted them.

"What can I do for you two kids? You know this office is off limits to outsiders." He started off, hefting his assault rifle while adorned in black-colored tactical gear. "Unless you have proper clearance or you are somehow clearly related to the deceased scientist in terms of family relations, I cannot let you in. Beyond these doors holds some confidential military secrets the world is not supposed to know." As Leon's father was a scientist that assisted in the design of weapons, it was kept secure from enemy spies, infiltrators and thieves in any method possible.

As Fio was about to open her mouth to explain, her friend held up a hand. "I'm the son of Mr. Chan." Leon spoke gruffly. "The infamous US Marine convict accused of launching a one-man assault that resulted in the downfall of the Fourth Reich and ended the war effectively. I'm sure you're familiar with that incident, I suppose?" Turning to the SPARROWS agent, he shrugged a bit. "They wouldn't believe you if they said I was his son."

The guard instantly nodded and unlocked the door. "Well, you sure remind me of him with that voice and look…" He trailed off a bit. "Go ahead and head on inside. You are allowed to access all files and documents within, for you are his successor. Just be careful-most information present within this room is classified military secrets, so be careful with what you see."

Stepping inside the old office, Leon looked around and sighed upon seeing the very place where his father had worked and lived in when he was on duty. "So this is where my old man worked…and I didn't know all this time. Thought he slept in some old rickety barracks like the rest of the Marines do..." Strolling over to the desk where a few folders and papers were set, he flipped through the documents. "I suppose this is his work throughout his lifetime?" He asked Fio as he placed the case on the floor.

"That's what my dad told me. No one is allowed to view that, but then, I suppose you have the authority to do so." She joined the soldier over at the desk. "Wow, I didn't know he was responsible for developing the Laser Rifle!"

Leon proceeded to flip through a file that had the words "Prototype Laser Weapon X-2" stamped on the front of the folder. Inside the file were papers and blueprints that detailed the infamous laser weapon that only commandos were authorized to use, but was met with limited deployment because of its insane ammunition consumption rate and vulnerabilities to failure. It was later replaced by the newer models of Pulse Rifles that were currently being field-tested at the moment. "Yeah…but it looks like his work didn't seem to last long. No one wanted to adopt that crazy weapon as it was easy to electrocute ourselves with that beast."

Fio tried not to laugh from a previous experience. "Tarma nearly fried his hair once when he used it!"

The other folder had "X-66 Prototype Combat Armored Vehicle" displayed on the front. This designation was used for the testing model of vehicles that would eventually lead to the deployment of the Mammoth Tanks. "Now this…this is my father's greatest work." Leon smiled a bit. Opening the folder revealed contents such as notes, blueprints and schematics for the vehicle's weapons, armor, engine and other vital parts of the behemoth. He was just amazed-the Mammoth Tank, was by far, one of the most successful vehicles ever fielded-it ushered mankind into a new age of vehicle warfare with its introduction and the SV-001 Tank's debut.

"Hey…" Fio pointed to a framed picture on the desk. "Isn't that your father and mother in that picture? What a lovely couple!" She complemented.

Both of his parents were displayed as young individuals in the neatly framed snapshot-Leon's father was displayed as a handsome man with a relatively muscular build, but why he didn't put that to good use by joining the military really puzzled his son-but then, if he had the genius ability to develop a laser weapon and an unstoppable juggernaut, why waste the knowledge? His mother, on the other hand, was seen as a graceful and happy individual-seeing her smile in the photograph brought a tear to the US Marine's eyes.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm just thinking too much."

Fio turned around and grinned at him. "Well, you should stop thinking so much and go enjoy yourself, they're going to party and have lunch by the swimming pool!"

"Can't wait to cool myself off, then!" He picked up the weapon case as Fio headed out, and with one final glance at the photograph. "Love ya, mom and pop." He saluted and left the room as the guard locked the door.

The Super-Massive Swimming Pool outside the Germi Estate

"Whew, finally, I get to cool myself off on this hot summer day!" Flynn mumbled to himself as he walked out of the changing room into the swimming pool area, where Marco and Tarma were already waiting for him, grinning. All three men had military-style swimming trunks on, but Flynn's version was tactical black instead and had the words "UAAF" stamped on the front of his left leg. It was a sign of authority he had worked for the Space Marines, but who came up with the idea of stamping such an insignia on a pair of swimming trunks was a mystery. "Sorry I was late, I just had to ensure my weapons were safely and securely locked up in the cases! But let's party, boys!"

Tarma looked up from his sunglasses. "Ready to go, soldier? We're going to take our chances to see who can jump into the pool with the biggest splash. Loser has to let us dump ketchup all over the guy!"

"Oh please!" Flynn snorted. "I'll win again like I do every time!" He crossed his arms across his muscular chest and chortled in a low, deep voice. "Say, where's Fio's parents? I have to show her pop how big of a splash I can come up with!"

Marco took off his bandanna. "I think both of them are in the house helping with the preparation of dinner for tonight. But hey, if Fio can cook like a master chef, then I must try out her parents' dishes! Who knows how great they'll be!"

All three soldiers laughed outrageously, amused at the thought of being able to pig out again, but this time, with gourmet dishes. All three of them continued to chat about food, what is good to eat (and what isn't), their experiences with cooking, along with their biggest mistakes-especially the time when Marco had nearly exploded a microwave when he over-popped a bag of popcorn or when Flynn had accidently used rocket fuel instead of corn oil to cook his steak-which ended up in a massive bonfire that nearly burned down the entire barracks. Their noisy chatter was soon cut short when Eri approached them, and all three guys looked at her impressive image.

"What?" The demolitions unit spoke in a neutral tone. For her gear to relax in the sun and to go swimming, she was adorned in her two-piece bikini with a navy-blue color scheme. For obvious reasons, this was one of the few times where she did not have her doo-rag over her head.

Flynn tried not to chuckle as he noticed Tarma turn bright red. "Ahem…well…I'm sorry to inform you on the behalf of the US Marines that you're too fat for that, Miss! But I'm sure Tarma here loves all that flab and fat on your ass! Hahaha!" Marco could only start laughing while the vehicles specialist blushed even more-this happened all the time, not surprisingly.

Eri suddenly went up into a blaze of anger, even though she knew the soldier was just joking. "COME BACK HERE!" She screamed as she was about to chase him across the pool, but Marco got in her way.

"That's enough out of you two; we don't need a gun fight here!" The platoon commander ordered. "And as for you, Flynn, no more fat jokes! You're going to embarrass us all if you continue." In response, Flynn moaned like a sad dog and sat down on one of the sun chairs as Marco hopped into the water and began swimming in laps around the pool.

"But Mr. Germi said he loved my jokes!"

"Then you can tell them during comedy night tomorrow." Eri scoffed a bit as she brushed her messy blonde hair.

Meanwhile, Fio and Leon were the final two members to join the party at the pool. Leon, like Flynn, had his tactical black color-schemed swimming trunks but without the "UAAF" letters instead on, while Fio wore a full-body bikini with a tropical color scheme as opposed to Eri's two piece version.

"Finally!" Flynn cheered. "What took you two so long! We were about to start the party without you!" He decided to skip out on yelling fat jokes at Fio, because she'd cry and of course he didn't want to ruin her image-especially if it was at her mansion. He shivered a bit from the fact if her father had caught him in the act of calling his daughter fat.

Leon walked over to his friend. "Sorry, I was taking a tour inside Fio's mansion. But then, I managed to find out that my old man used to work and live here!"

"Lucky kid. You've got something to be proud of!" Flynn laughed as he poked the scar on his body. "Wow, even after 15 years this scar is still there after that incident! Hey guys, you have to check this out!"

"Not funny!" The scar on Leon's body was, in fact, due to an accident caused by a faulty C4 Charge which accidently went off during a training session, but miraculously, did not kill him and instead scarred his body with one painful burn. Over half decade later, the scar is one that is a reprimand that the warzone, whether it is for training or real-time combat, is no playground and there are no rooms for mistakes.

"Oh! I have to see it!" Fio wandered over.

"Hey, me too!" Eri interrupted.

"The kid's got a scar and I never knew! This is a must-see!" Tarma got out of his chair.

All three individuals began to chase the US Marine around the pool, with the target fleeing while repeatedly yelling back at them. Both Marco and Flynn could only laugh from the absurdity of the scene, as Eri, Fio and Tarma were extremely curious individuals whenever a secret was busted about one of the team members. Unfortunately though, they managed to get up to him and were already beginning to poke the scar on Leon, while both girls took the opportunity to tickle him just to see his reaction. Being ticklish was another one of his weaknesses…

"HEY! Cut-it out! AGHHH! I'm going to kill you for this, Flynn!" The young soldier yelled in desperation as his three friends were taking the opportunity to mess with him.

"You lose, kid!" Flynn laughed as he gulped down some ice-cold beer. "Oh man, now this truly beats being stuck in the office and doing paperwork like a dumbass! Now if you excuse me…" He placed his beer down, climbed up towards the diving tower and hollered to everyone in his signature tone. "HEY! Who's ready for 1st Lieutenant Flynn Taggart's amazing splash dive! Featuring the most hardcore soldier you'll ever meet in your lives, and he's going to put an amazing show for all you lovely audiences!"

"Ok, I think that's enough kidding around." Tarma helped Leon back to his feet. "Oh, and Flynn, DO IT! DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!" He cheered wildly.

Marco surfaced from the pool and looked up. "Don't land on me!"

"Oh, my…" Eri knew this was going to end up bad.

"Just be careful and don't hurt yourself like last time!" Fio called, as a reminder to the last incident where Flynn had nearly snapped his leg when he dove full force into the water at the local pool-unfortunately, he did not realize it was the shallow water area!

Leon shook his head a bit and tried to rearrange his messed-up hair neatly. "Let's see this!"

As the US Marine positioned himself at the top of the tower, complete silence, save for the occasional mutter of some guards whom took an interest to see this dive and chirping of birds, drifted over the pool area. In the distance, sounds of go-karts revving and gunshots were heard-presumably from either Mr. Germi's associates or his guards either having some fun and target practice. A few seconds passed, and Flynn slowly stepped to the edge of the diving platform with silence drifting over the group. "CANNONBALL!" The soldier screamed as he leaped into the air and dived straight into the massive swimming pool, sending up a massive splash comparable to a geyser caused by a powerful 16 inch gun attack from a battleship. Two guards close by cheered while raising their firearms from the impressive show.

"WHOO! YEAH!" Tarma laughed as he was splashed-just about everyone got wet from the wave. "My turn!"

Flynn soon surfaced from the pool, and gave a thumb up. "Now was that impressive or not!"

"Definitely!" Marco cheered from the sidelines. Meanwhile, both Tarma and Leon fought to claim the position for the next diving board, with the US Marine winning since he managed to sprint up to the top faster than the vehicle specialist. Leon laughed all the way and prepared for his dive-however, he was in for a nasty surprise-just as he was about to take the huge leap into the water, Tarma rushed up right behind him and pushed him right off while laughing uncontrollably.

"Think fast Marine!" Tarma taunted as his victim fell.

"WAAAAGGGGHHH!" Leon screamed as he fell into the water and made a massive splash. Surfacing, he shook a fist at his attacker from above. "Not funny, dude!" He made his way back to shallower water, but a sudden "boo" from Flynn made him scream and throw a sudden punch at his face, thinking he was going to be attacked. His target flew straight backwards from the force of the punch, and Leon felt a bit embarrassed from the act. "Oh crap, are you alright!"

The soldier surfaced and shook his head. "Yes I am…but I'm going to get you for that!" Flynn proceeded to chase his bud all around the pool, with Leon easily out-swimming the middle-aged soldier with ease. "Get back here!"

"Too slow, oldster!" Leon called back.

"What an awkward bunch!" Fio giggled nervously. "Hey, Eri, want to-" She turned her head and realized she had already climbed up the diving tower, most likely to execute a prank of her own. "My…"

"Don't mess with Tarma Roving the 3rd or else you'll eat that!" He laughed as he observed Leon being a victim of pranks. Tarma turned back to climb back down, only to see Eri right in his face with him at the top of the diving board-this sent him sprawling back in fright.

"Aw, what's the matter? Scared of heights?" Eri teased.

"Uh, no!" His feet began to quake as he looked down into the water below. "Now if you excuse me, I must head back down!"

"Won't you dive with me?" She crossed her arms and made her puppy face, forcing Tarma to blush once again all the while walking closer and closer. "It would be such a romantic sight! Didn't you say something about us two getting married in the future?"

"That-that was just a joke! AGGHHHH! Get away from me!"

Down below, Leon laughed in a maniacal manner. "Watch out, Tarma! I think Eri's going to assault you!"

"Boo." Eri whispered. This sudden act, of course, sent Tarma to his fall. He accidently jumped in fright, which led him to belly flop directly into the pool with a huge splash. In response, all the boys laughed at the silliness of the act, not to mention the two guards that stood nearby also began to roll around in laughter. Funnily enough, one of them had filmed the whole act with a special camera built into the scope of his G36 Assault Rifle.

"So Tarma's scared of heights and Eri, eh?" Flynn chuckled as he basked in the sun, soaking up the warm summer sunlight. "I never knew that!"

Tarma surfaced, with his hair all wet and his sunglasses out of place. "I thought you knew, and that's why I rarely take airborne missions unless I'm forced to! But don't rub it in!" Shaking his head rapidly to get the water out of his hair, he adjusted his sunglasses a bit.

"I'd break the secret, but I did it for the sake of his reputation as a "cool, laid back soldier"." Marco shot up. "But then I guess he revealed the secret now!"

As all the male soldiers were conversing in the water, Eri took her chance to jump into the water, and she did-unlike the other guys, her dive was executed gracefully, comparable to a professional diver. Her entry into the water was barely noticeable, as her splash barely made any sound. Surfacing, she turned to her teammates. "So, how'd I do?" She asked.

"I'm not surprised, for someone who is skilled in infiltration!" Leon complemented. "That was barely noticeable!"

"Well pulled off." Marco saluted.

Fio hopped into the water and quickly swam her way over to the Commando team. "I'll have to say, those were some impressive and funny acts you pulled off there!"

"I'll agree. Getting pushed off the tower was one heck of an amazing experience, even though it was quite frightening a bit!" Leon chuckled. "I'm going for a few laps, catch you later!"

"Hey, wait up for me! I'll challenge you!" Eri interrupted him.

"Be my guest." With that, both individuals began to race around the pool as Marco, Tarma, Fio and Flynn observed them.

"Who do you think is going to win?" Marco asked.

"Eri. No one beats her at swimming." The tank specialist replied. "Even though she's absolutely abysmal with vehicles she isn't familiar with, water warfare's nothing for her." It was true-Eri was perhaps one of the best swimmers on the team, and she practiced this specialty in her spare time as a hobby and a way to maintain her prowess in stamina and endurance.

The two challengers rapidly circled around the outer rim of the swimming pool at an amazing speed compared to the average human swimmer.

"Don't underestimate Leon, though." Flynn interrupted. "He's also one of the speediest characters on our team, not to mention he enjoys swimming whenever he has the free time! If he wasn't speedy, then I doubt he'd be able to keep up with that agent. He sure out-swam me back there after he nailed me in the nose!"

The team of four observed on, and in the end, it was a draw-it was impossible to determine who actually won. Soon, they reached their intended destination at the end and both Eri and Leon made their back over to their friends. "So, who won?" Eri asked, shaking her wet blonde hair out of her face.

"I'll say it's a draw." The platoon commander spoke. "Both of you guys were swimming so fast I couldn't keep track! But hey, let's enjoy the rest of the afternoon!"

All of them laughed in response, and continued to spend their afternoon in the water. For lunch, the group didn't have anything too complicated-a few sandwiches and a cool drink was what they had to satisfy their hunger. The food, was of course, made by Fio's loving mother, which kept its tradition for being extremely tasty yet still nutritious, if not 100% healthy.

"Is it just me, or does your family have some cooking skills that make your foods so savory and delicious!" Flynn chuckled in delight as he munched through the meatball sandwich while gulping some ice cold beer.

Fio stretched a bit and smiled a bit from his comment. "I guess it runs in the family. But then, my mom always used to spend countless hours with me when I was younger teaching me how to make such delicious foods!"

"If only you were an expert in making Asian dishes…" Tarma sighed dreamily. "That'd be perfect! I could use some fried rice right about now! The last time Eri tried to make me some we nearly burned down the barracks kitchen!"

Rolling her eyes, Eri pretended she didn't hear that comment. "Well excuse me, Fio was sick that day so somebody had to substitute for her! You should be thankful you had something to eat that day despite the fact it wasn't so delicious!"

"I'll agree with that." Leon responded.

While Marco eventually got tired of swimming, he spent his day cooking himself in the sun with Flynn in the sun chairs, all the while discussing their matters during wartime and their performance on the battlefield. Even though they were on leave, they were quickly running out of things to say in terms of trying to preoccupy themselves, so they switched their subjects instead-notably, things about computers and weaponry. Eri was helping Tarma learn to become a better swimmer, for obvious reasons-as much Tarma enjoyed to swim, he was never a big fan of it and therefore had little chances to practice this skill, and instead decided to waste his spare time playing with his customized vehicles instead. But Miss Kasamoto wasn't exactly the most lenient teammate there was, so poor Tarma was forced to bear through her lessons. Finally, Fio was socializing with Leon as the two periodically swam back and forth across the pool. Most of the questions were asked by the SPARROWS agent and the US Marine would answer her, even though he felt like he was being interrogated. But since the questions were mainly about his personal interests, it didn't really bother him at all. Not only this, but Leon was nearly impossible to have a conversation with if you always pulled a prank on him-this wasn't the case for Fio, however.

It wasn't long until the sun began to set over the hills, at around 6:30 PM. By this time, most of the crew, save for Eri who kept on badgering Tarma to stay and swim with her, the rest of the team had stopped swimming and were basking themselves in the setting sun on a couple of lawn chairs.

"Isn't that beautiful, kids." Flynn murmured with a smile on his face. "Experiences like these, where we get to spend time with each other in such a peaceful haven, come very little, maybe once in a lifetime. Once I retire from the US Marines, I want my life to be like this every day-I just want to relax and relish my happy hours in paradise."

"I think we all do, 1st Lieutenant Flynn." Marco replied while sighing happily. "This is all our dreams come true-a vacation for our hard work. If only we were truly resigned from the military…"

Fio smiled as she brushed her shining brown hair. "Aw, guys! My father would be very happy if you lived with us, I'm sure he'd love some company! So would I, you guys are so sweet! You don't have to wait and retire-you're welcome to come here and relax whenever you want!"

"Come on, Roving!" Eri commanded in a demanding voice. "Swim faster!"

Tarma tried to paddle around the pool, as if he was a floundering sack of cement. "Excuse me Miss, but I'm not a very good learner! Swimming isn't my thing either!"

"Well, keep going until you get it!"

"Keep trying, motorcycle man!" Mr. Chan laughed, and refocused on the conversation he was having with his friends. "Yeah, but it feels like we're leeching off your old man. I was never a fan of living off other people's wealth, regardless if I served under them or befriended them." Leon kicked his feet a bit, all the while observing a ladybug crawling on his right arm. "As much as I would love to live here, I'd pay Mr. Germi back somehow…maybe with money, a contribution…just something as a way of saying thanks for the free vacation." The insect continued to scurry across the soldier's arm, with Leon observing the harmless creature. "It's amazing how life can be so cruel but sometimes it can be so sweet."

The older US Marine took a sip from his beer. "Aw, playing the honorable soldier again, Corporal?"

"Hey, I just have a tendency to do that-I respect people that treat us like their own family. For a second I thought Fio's father would treat me like an enemy because of my crimes…but then, I guess assumptions are not always correct." The ladybug on his arm soon leaped off his arm and flew off into some bushes. "There goes the little guy."

Taking off her hat, Fio looked into the sunset through her sunglasses. "If there's one thing my father really appreciates, its good, brave and honorable friends in the military. He's extremely overprotective of me, and I'm sure he would love you guys just as much if he saw your performances on the battlefield. But then…I don't know how much to thank you guys for accompanying me for everything-from the battlefield to cheering me up during the darkest times."

"It was all about duty, Sergeant." Marco saluted.

"My pleasure and honor, soldier." Flynn shook a fist in pride.

"No need to thank me. I'm just doing my job." Leon grinned.

Germi Estate, Change Room

Approximately 30 minutes later, all six team members had changed out of their swimming gear and were either busy getting dressed up formally, in preparation for the dinner party that Mr. Germi was going to throw for the reunion and in addition, for honoring the two US Marines that had joined the force recently. Marco, Leon and Fio were among the individuals that managed to get changed the fastest, while Tarma was helping Flynn get dressed up (being someone who rarely went to formal parties, he had little knowledge about suits and such) and Eri was, of course, shy about coming out wearing a dress. In response, Fio was helping her in the women's change room.

In the men's change room, Flynn grunted as he tried to force his jacket onto his massive, muscular body. "Damn, this jacket's too small! Don't they have a larger size!"

"Try this." Tarma suggested as he handed him a massive jacket that dwarfed the size of their suits they were wearing. In response, the soldier tried the item of clothing and this time, it managed to fit him perfectly. "Ah, there we go. But damn, I think you need to bring your own clothes next time."

"I'll keep that in mind, the next time I come here." Mr. Taggart fixed his leather shoes a bit and looked at the mirror. "How do I look?"

Tarma grinned as he flashed his glasses. "One old yet slick-looking United States Marine with an attitude and skills to match. That's all I have to say!" Slapping his shoulder, he handed him some hair gel. "Try some-you're going to need it. Your hair's a mess!"

"How do you use this?" The soldier looked at the can of hairspray in confusion. As he tended to shave his head bald before he headed out on his adventures, hair care products weren't exactly his best knowledge. Then, not being deployed for over 2 years meant his hair had grown back, and he preferred to actually leave some on this time. But then, most Marines didn't have knowledge of such products at all!

"Alright, hang on." Tarma grabbed the can and shook it a bit. "You alright if I play with your doo? I'm going to try a new hairstyle, if you don't mind."

Flynn chuckled. "Just don't scratch the tattoo on the back of my neck."

Outside the change room, both Marco and Leon, adorned in a black tuxedo, continued to chat about the occasional events of life and whatever seemed to be of interest. For the dinner party, it was one of the few times where Marco didn't have his trademark bandanna wrapped across his head and Leon didn't have the standard issue US Marines goggles strapped around his forehead.

"Do I look weird without my bandanna?" The Peregrine Falcon Commando asked as he fixed his hair.

"Not at all." Leon spun his Desert Eagle in his fingers, something he loved to do whenever he was bored or just wanted to kill some time. "But as much as I hate getting forced to lose my goggles and being stuck in a tuxedo, it sure beats being stuck in an office having to do paperwork. And all of this because Fio's old man is a billionaire! Man, I wish I knew her when I was younger! That way, I could've skipped out on school multiple times!" He smiled a bit and laughed. "It was so boring being stuck at the Marine academy learning about how to properly shave, because I know that crap anyways!"

Marco couldn't help himself but join in the laugh. "I'll have to agree, they do teach some useless concepts that don't really have to be learned, so yeah…" His eyes narrowed down towards the hallway, where he could hear unidentified chattering. Perhaps it was the guards talking and socializing just before the party began. "By the way, good luck dancing with Fio tonight."

"Hey, uh, I didn't-"

"Now now, you promised!" The PF squad leader scolded. "You can't break a promise to a girl, not to one that's especially sweet, cute and kind! And please don't take it personally-she's asking you as a friend, so don't get too nervous."

Leon released a sigh of relief. "I'll keep that in mind."

"Come on, Eri!" A voice came from the girls' change room. "Don't be shy! You just have to get used to wearing this!"

"I'm not going out there in this!" A voice abruptly spoke. This both sent Leon and Marco looking at each other in confusion, muttering about what could be possibly going on inside.

The door soon opened, and both Eri and Fio stepped out, both adorning dance dresses-Eri had a dark green-schemed dress which matched her usual military outfit she always wore, while Fio had a navy-blue colored dress, all accompanied with her usual cute smile and glasses that gave her the signature look she was always well known for. Eri, on the other hand, was not very impressed-she crossed her arms in frustration along with a sour look on her face, slightly angered by the fact she was forced to wear the dress and the fact she was probably going to be called fat again by the 39-year old US Marine. However, it was the absence of her doo-rag that allowed her blonde hair to flow radiantly from her head down to her shoulders, giving her an extremely impressive appearance. Both girls smiled upon seeing the two male soldiers that waited outside them and blushed slightly.

"So, how do we look?" Fio asked, hoping for some feedback.

Both females' graceful and elegant appearances sent the two soldiers blushing in response. "Just damn impressive-oh, excuse my language." Leon apologized. "I guess I should cut the Marine talk and language! But you girls look just gorgeous." He smiled and nodded slightly.

"Just gorgeous! I don't need to go further than that." Marco gave a thumb up.

"Well, at least he didn't call me fat." Eri snorted. "Man, I'm not used to wearing these…not to mention these high heels are making my feet ache!" She sat down uncomfortably on the bench and took off her heels, all the while massaging her feet.

"Come on, Eri. Cheer up. No one's going to call you fat in a place as formal as this." Marco suggested as an attempt to get her to become more secure in these new surroundings.

Fio fixed the collar of Leon's dress shirt slightly upon noticing it was slightly out of place. "Let me fix that for you, aside from that and your wrinkled tie, you look very impressive!" She adjusted his tie a bit. "I don't blame you for not being able to dress properly, but is this really your first time to a formal party, Monsieur Chan?"

"Well, Mademoiselle Germi," Leon spoke, all the while trying not to laugh from speaking funnily for the first time. "Indeed, yes. I rarely go to formal events back when I was in the Marines, because me and Flynn are often not welcome because, well, let's just say we love to ruin parties the wrong way. But then, you can't blame me for starting fights just because the occasional drunk idiot starts throwing punches at me!" He chuckled. "But that won't happen here tonight, hopefully!"

Tarma and Flynn soon marched out of the men's change room, with Tarma grinning and Flynn's hair looking "interesting". Marco, Leon, Eri and Fio couldn't help but start laughing at the Mohawk hair scheme on the US Marine's head.

"Whoa, soldier. You let Tarma play with your hair!" Eri asked, while hiding her giggles.

Crossing his arms in defiance and pride, the Doomguy, a nickname given to him by Marco for his obsession with the Doom PC game, chortled in confidence. "Laugh all you want, but this is my new look for the night! This is a side of looking good for you boys and girls! Watch out everyone, Flynn Taggart is going to give you one amazing night with his new hairstyle!" He slammed his rock-hard chest a bit with his fist of iron.

Laughing, Tarma held up the can of hairspray. "I knew I was an a la artiste perfecto in terms of hairstyling!"

"I'll agree with that, Monsieur Roving!" Fio complemented. "Come on everyone, my father expects us to be at the dining hall by now!"

Eri slipped back into her high heels and got to her feet. "I suppose. This is going to be one interesting night."

"Will you dance with me?" Tarma asked as she slid over to her side, grinning and flashing his signature sunglasses.

"Maybe." The explosives specialist rolled her eyes.

"What about me?" Mr. Taggart asked.


"You can dance with me, 1st Lieutenant Taggart!" Fio interrupted.

"Uh…" The US Marine wasn't sure if he was up for the task. Being a 39 year old soldier dancing with a 21 year old youngster would probably be a bit creepy. "Well…I'm a bit old, though!"

"Then I don't know why you want to dance with Eri, then!" Marco teased a bit as he elbowed him repeatedly.

"Whatever, let's go!"

Germi Estate, Dining Hall

"I can't believe this…your dining hall is just…" Marco gasped.

"Impressive?" Fio finished his sentence. "Oh please, it's not that impressive once you get used to it! I ate dinner here every day when I was a child!"

"That chandelier must've cost a fortune…" Eri observed the massive fixture hanging over the room. Adorned with countless crystals and other rare types of expensive accessories, the piece of lighting brought a feeling of grandness to the rest of the room with its bright, amplified lights.

Like the rest of the Germi Estate, the Dining Hall was just downright impossible to believe-arguably comparable to a 5 star hotel restaurant. Immense in size and almost rivaling a typical school gymnasium, the massive construction brought a gasp of awe and impressive feeling to the group. Aside from the usual dining tables seated with multiple personnel, presumably the guards of the estate and Mr. Germi's associates and fellow co-workers that worked under his command, the billionaire sat at the center of the room with his wife alongside 6 other empty chairs. Fio's father waved at the team as they entered. At the far end of the room, a stage was constructed there with a small band performing a song with various electronic instruments-the younger Marine could instantly recognize the tune the band was playing. The lead female singer on stage spoke the words "We're going to have to act, if we want to live in a different world" in a soothing and feminine voice, yet strong and militaristic manner.

"They're playing a remix of Act on Instinct, the famous Command and Conquer soundtrack!" Leon pointed out in excitement as he bopped to the tune. "I could recognize my favorite song anywhere! I mean, they even managed to perfect the chant "We're going to have to act, if we want to live in a different world." In a female voice perfectly!"

Eri, despite the fact she wasn't a fan of C&C, had to agree with the excellent singing. "I don't normally agree with you, but that is some sweet singing. Wish I could sing like that!"

Marco squinted at the stage, hoping to get a better look. "Let's hope they can play the Peregrine Falcons Hymn!" The hymn, of course, was no other than the main theme of Metal Slug-the anthem was always played during a party or gathering that involved any Regular Army personnel (now often referred to as the Global Defense Alliance).

"Wow, you kids look impressive!" Mr. Germi greeted upon seeing the team of six soldiers entering the dining hall and approaching the table. "And Mr. Taggart, what's with the new hairstyle? I could barely recognize you there at first sight!"

"It's my new look!" Flynn hollered back. "Wow Fio, do we actually get to personally dine with your old man and his cute wife?"

"Yep!" The Italian SPARROWS agent smiled. "He personally requested it-sorry I couldn't get the news to you!"

The team of six headed over to their personal table, with the guards (off duty soldiers) and scientists not to mention their families they had brought with them, all dressed nicely, observing them in awe. After all, few could have actually met the band of legendary soldiers in their lifetime-not to mention most of them were barely out of their college years! Having heard of their feats was one thing but getting to meet them face to face physically was another. A few soldiers hastily asked Marco and Flynn for their autographs, with the two soldiers signing their helmets, posters and other types of novelties with gratitude.

"Ok, ok, calm down!" Mr. Taggart announced as he busily signed a Doom poster belonging to a child. "Don't worry, you'll all get your chances!"

"I have fans. Wow, what next?" Marco shrugged as he scribbled his signature on another helmet.

"Maybe an arm wrestling match, I guess." Tarma chuckled and turned to the other guards attempting to get an autograph. "Ok, there will be plenty of time after dinner, so the signings will take place then!" He quickly grabbed both Marco and Flynn, who were both still busy in the process of autographing for their "fans", and hurried over to their table.

"So, what's on the plate tonight?" Flynn asked as he observed the utensils on the table. Like any fancy, 5-star fine dining experience, a fork, spoon, and knife was placed alongside a dish with engravings he couldn't seem to recognize. In the dish was a cloth designed to be placed on the diner's lap to ensure no mess would be made, but the soldier, having experienced the fine dining style for the first time, was clueless to what to do. Turning over to Marco, he muttered quietly to the soldier.

"It's a buffet-you kids are free to eat at your pleasure." Fio's father smiled. "This party is made especially for you all-I even got a band to play all your favorite songs!"

"I can't thank you enough for this amazing party-I'm impressed with whoever can perform Act on Instinct perfectly." Leon spoke as he observed the band continue to play.

Mrs. Germi laughed heartily in response. "Aw, don't thank us! Thank Fio! She's the one that planned out all of this for you-our precious little daughter had been planning it all out these last few years to ensure your stay would be an unforgettable one!" In response, Fiolina Germi blushed in bright red.

"Did you really plan all this out for us?" Eri asked as she fixed her messy blonde hair a bit.

"Of course!" Her face was like a mixture of crying and happiness, probably because from a dosage of emotional overload. "I don't know how to thank you guys enough for your contributions, but I think this would be the perfect gift to you all!"

"Aw, quit your mood swings, you're going to drive us crazy!" Tarma laughed.

"Oh, sorry guys." Fio wiped her eyes with the dining cloth, soaking it with tears. "I'm just so happy that you all agreed to come here! But come on, let's enjoy the party!" She got out of her seat and dragged both Leon and Tarma over to the food stands. "Come on boys, let's get something to eat!"

"Uh, well, I-" Leon spoke uncertainly.

"Wait, I forgot my sunglasses!" The vehicle specialist interrupted.

Grasping both boys tightly, Fio hugged them close to her. "There's no need to be shy here-come on! Both of your guys are stars for tonight, now show some pride and spirit!" With no other choice, the Peregrine Falcon soldier and US Marine were forced to stroll alongside her in her strangling grip, all the while trying smile nervously.

"Have fun boys! Go easy on them, Fiolina! Don't give them heart attacks!" Mr. Germi spoke loudly while cackling like the typical middle-aged man.

Back at the table, Marco was busy teaching Flynn how to dine properly. "Alright." He instructed. "You must eat properly-that means chew your food, don't burp, fart, or do anything that makes you look like a pig. And of course, don't pick your nose and scratch your rear end like you're at a fast food establishment. Remember, you're eating with one of the most important figures on the surface of this world, not to mention he's also your teammate's old man. Don't embarrass yourself, you got it? You've got your friends, a very important figure, and your fans here tonight." He concluded by placing the dining cloth on the lap of his "student".

"Yeah…" Flynn spoke uncertainly. "But does this mean I shouldn't talk with my mouth full?"

"Of course you should not; you're going to look like a fool if you do that!"

"I got it, I got it. Come on, let's go get some food! You coming, Eri?"

Eri rolled her eyes as usual, but decided to play it nice in the end. "If you wish, Marine. Marco, you're coming with me." She grabbed Marco by the arm and forcefully dragged him out of his chair. "I thought you guys wanted to party? There's no time to sit and waltz around!"

"Sure do, Princess Kasamoto!" Mr. Taggart laughed.

"Don't call me that, I'm not rich and grand like Fio."

"Could you ease the tension! My arms are going to rip off soon!" Marco struggled against her grip.

Looking back, Eri winked and smiled a bit. "Just because I'm in a good mood, soldier. Now come on, the food isn't going to eat itself, like you guys always say 90% of the time whenever we go to a buffet." She trailed off with the two soldiers, smiling all the way-perhaps one of the rarest things to happen ever, as she was rarely so happy.

"Hey, uh, you look very sweet in that dress." Flynn complimented. "It sure shows the charm even for a tough, brave yet fearsome girl like you. And I'm honest here!"

"If you're saying that for real, Mr. Taggart, then I greatly appreciate it. I was expecting you to make a joke about me being fat and such, but if you were really saying that for the honest truth, props to you! To be honest, you look quite handsome in that suit, even if you're over a decade older than us-maybe that Mohawk of yours makes you look silly, but if you like it, be my guest." The Japanese SPARROWS agent replied.

Marco, having been pleased to see that the two weren't actually fighting it out violently, smiled at the friendly atmosphere that was happening. "You guys are finally getting along!"

Slapping the PF squad leader's back, Flynn laughed. "Hey, an old dog like me can still make friends. Now come on, let's get some food."

Back at the table, both of Fio's parents socialized as they observed her teammates go help themselves to the food. Of course, the couple couldn't help but smile at the frolicking individuals-despite the fact the individuals all had traumatizing experiences throughout their history in the warzone. Each and every one of them had a story to tell, that was what Fio's father always thought in his heart- he was also a soldier with horrifying stories and tales of the devastation of warfare, so he could feel their pain deep down.

"Everything okay, sweetheart?" His wife asked with a concerned look.

"Huh?" He shook his head a bit. "Oh yes, everything's okay. I'm just surprised at how the kids manage to stay so upbeat despite the hell they have to go through…I know Taggart has lost everything in the struggles and tribulations he had to go through." Sipping his glass of wine a bit, he sighed. "And Mr. Chan…the man's lost both parents and has nothing except for his skills and his teammates. In fact, our daughter is the only one that still has a pair of loving parents, I'm afraid."

Fio's mother shrugged a bit. "Well, we've done our best for them. It's best to not constantly remind them the fact that their loved ones are no longer existent…in fact, this is the case for most soldiers. Mr. Rossi lost everything dear to him, but look…he's still fighting strong."

"Maybe I should be a bit more grateful…but then, I'm just happy for them keeping Fiolina safe and unharmed, because I can't always watch over her and stick out for her. Just like the times I was trialed for punching an official because he accidently shipped her to the front lines!" The veteran chuckled a bit. Being an overprotective father, Mr. Germi would literally and will tear anyone to pieces if they were the ones that harmed her precious daughter, in the event that actually happened. Of course, during wartime, it was Fio's teammates that delivered those blows.

Fio soon came back to the table with Tarma and Leon, while holding two plates of food and the guys holding two more themselves. "Hey mom and dad! Come on, what's with the long faces?"

"Oh, your father and I were just discussing something, nothing too important anyways." Her mother smiled.

"I told you, I'm not that hungry, Fio! Those sandwiches were enough anyways!" Leon complained as he sat down and straightened out his hair, all thanks to the SPARROWS agent messing it up. "Now if you excuse me…I need to-" Just as he was about to finish his sentence, Fio silenced him by placing a hand over his mouth and interrupting him in the process.

"No no no! You know you can't walk out on your friends, my parents and myself when we're about to go dancing! Now eat up, our best chefs made this personally and we need your feedback!" She placed a dish consisting of a slice of grilled salmon with a side of vegetables that couldn't be recognized by the US Marine. "Come on, you'll love it!"

"Well, I'll try it." Leon placed on a strong face, picked up his fork and took a small bite from the food. "Gourmet food isn't my thing, but this is quite awesome!" He continued to eat away at the dish while Tarma was doing the same.

The Japanese PF Commando smiled with delight as he ate. "They don't serve this kind of stuff back in the Americas, not even at most 5-star restaurants. All they have is this fast food junk and the usual bullshit that isn't appetizing at all!" Placing down his fork, he edged over to Fio. "Hey, can you take a picture of both me and Leon? We both look slick in our suits, and we never really took a picture together before!"

"I'd be pleased to! But I'd also love to join in the shot!"

Her father pulled out a camera. "Then get in with them, sweetie! Moments like these rarely ever come, and I'd be honored to preserve it!"

Fio hurried over to the two boys and huddled both of them close to her, all the while putting a big smile on her face. Leon gave his signature chest-beating posture with his left fist (something he loved to do whenever he pulled off a victory during battles) while Tarma showed off his thumbs up pose (also his well-known victory pose 90% of the time).

"Say cheese, soldiers!" Mr. Germi announced.

All three individuals in the shot smiled, and the billionaire snapped the picture.

"How did we look?" Tarma asked.

"Not bad. Although the Marine's hair was somewhat messed up slightly, but then it doesn't matter at all!"

The other half of the team soon came back, with Flynn holding a massive plate of roasted turkey while Eri and Marco both held some appetizers. Everyone dropped their jaws upon seeing the oldest member of the team hogging the food, as the turkey on the plate could probably feed everyone easily! Mr. Taggart was also well known for taking massive amounts of food and consuming them within moments.

"What?" Flynn replied. "I'm going to share this with you, don't worry. I couldn't resist the delicious smell and taste after getting a sample of this!" He grabbed a knife and began to slice the meat into smaller pieces. "So, who wants some?"

All the guys at the table, save for the girls, immediately raised their hands.

"Don't worry, there's plenty to go around! Are you sure you girls don't want some of this? It smells and looks really good!" The US Marine chuckled as he began to hand out the food to his teammates.

"I'll stick with something not so fatty and the like." Eri replied as she took a sip from her wine.

"Fine by me!"

"Don't forget to eat properly this time, Marine!" Marco reprimanded him.

The rest of the night was all about chitchat and socialization among the group, all the while they happily ate as the band in the background played famous songs on stage such as Act on Instinct, At Doom's Gate (Flynn's personal favorite theme), Final Attack, and the Peregrine Falcons Hymn. As they ate, the boys would sometimes crack a few jokes or two, mostly about their experiences on the battlefield that (somehow) was an amusing and hilarious one, despite the fact the warzone was a terrifying place only few could handle and still maintain a good level of sanity. It was during the discussion that Flynn decided to showcase his BFG9000 to Mr. Germi and everyone else at the table firsthand, as he felt it was the perfect time to show the might of the most powerful handheld weapon of the US Military as of up to this date. Clearing his throat, he clapped a bit to get the table's attention. "Alright boys and girls are you ready to see the ultimate weapon I brought today to show you all? I'm sure Leon knows already, but then, I doubt most people here would have even heard about it-after all, only the most elite Marines are allowed access to this death device in a can!"

"Oh, yes." Leon spoke with some excitement in his voice. "This weapon is a true beauty!"

"Let's see what you got." Mr. Germi requested. "Bring it over, boys!"

On his command, two guards rolled in the giant metallic case containing the mighty mass destruction device. Flynn placed his hand on the fingerprint scanner, typed in a few codes, and the case's lock deactivated with a click noise. "Access granted." The case's personal computer spoke.

"Wow. A weapon container that has a mind of its own?" Fio asked.

"Nope. It's just the most basic AI-it just helps to recognize my fingerprint-nothing else." Flynn opened the case and inside was the massive gun, resting in a type of soft foam designed to prevent it from being damaged during transportation within the case. Hefting it, he pulled the weapon out of its secure container and chuckled. "Now is this bad boy awesome or not!" He displayed his strength by holding it with only his right arm.

"I thought it was only a legend…even for a man like me responsible for weapons research, this weapon is truly the pride and joy of the US Marines Infantry! Who made this?" The billionaire rubbed his eyes as he observed the metallic gun.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Germi gasped a bit. "The Space Marines do really get all the awesome equipment, don't they? That's what my husband told me during his Gulf War experiences! Didn't you fight during that war, Mr. Taggart?"

"Nah, I didn't, my father did. He was the commander of the Marines during that war, and since the Space Marines didn't exist back then, we didn't really get all the awesome toys at our disposal. We did get some experimental weapons, though, such as prototype Mammoth Tanks. Besides, I had just started out my training when world relationships eventually got sour and the like." The Doomguy placed his prized weapon on the table, with many curious guards and scientists wandering over to see the beauty. "She's a beauty, and this weapon is among the rarest firearms ever made in history-only a thousand of these have been produced! Oh, and I think it was the UAAF-the United Aerospace Armed Federation, a top-secret government run organization working on interstellar science and crap. They decided to sell a thousand of their guns to the US Military, so yeah." He shrugged from his deep explanation.

"I rarely see you use it, though." Eri piqued.

Rolling his eyes, Flynn sighed. "Blame the government. They don't want me flash-frying friendly soldiers with this gun. Sure, the weapon has been programmed to not directly harm my allies, but getting hit by the plasma sphere regardless of your alignment always ends up messy. I mean, this thing can murder an M1 Abrams with one hit! I don't use this unless crap really hits the fan. That's the time when this gun sees the light of warfare, and the enemy wish they never met her!"

The DJ on stage soon stopped playing the music, and tapped into the microphone. "Alright, ladies and gentlemen!" He blared into the mike. "Now that we're all finished dinner, it's time for the dance party! But before we do that, our honorable Mr. Germi has brought in a few guests today! Why don't you guys and girls come up on stage and introduce yourselves?"

"Uh, us?" Leon asked nervously as he gulped slightly. He was never really fond of being the center of attention, especially with a massive audience.

"Yes, silly!" Fio replied. "We're the main attraction tonight-after all, you guys are very special guests!"

"Well, fine by me!" Tarma chuckled and wandered towards the stage, eager to be respected as a movie star, like he always dreamt to be. "I've got the looks, the style, the posse, and I'm going to prove it tonight!"

"Hey, wait up bud!" Marco called after him as he sprinted after him.

Flynn placed his weapon back into the container, locked it, made sure it was secure, and nodded. "Being treated like a movie star was always cool, but being looked upon like one because of being a veteran is a whole different story! Come on, Leon!"

"Right behind you."

Of course, Miss Kasamoto was not very happy about going on stage. "Aw, Fio, do I really have to!" Eri complained.

"All your friends are up there! You'll be the only one left out! Now come on!" Fio smiled, grabbed her arm and dragged her out of her seat. Groaning, the explosives specialist shook her head in dismay.

"Well, alright…"

The team of six was soon assembled on stage, with the spotlight on them. Tarma and Flynn, were of course the ones showing off the most-Mr. Roving flashed his sunglasses in the light while the US Marine flexed his muscles, displaying his impressive build as the audience screamed wildly like a bunch of crazed fans meeting their beloved movie stars. Their other teammates, however, could do little but either chuckle or roll their eyes.

"I knew this would be Tarma and Flynn's favorite hour…" Eri shook her head.

"I've seen worse!" Leon replied.

"Here are your special guests tonight!" The DJ announced. "Tonight, the legendary Peregrine Falcons Commandos, Marco Rossi and Tarma Roving, the adorable yet formidable SPARROWS agents, Eri Kasamoto and Fiolina Germi, and finally, the newest members to the team, the best of the best soldiers out there, the fabled US Marines duo, Leon Chan and Flynn Taggart, are all here on stage tonight as special guests for this very party! Let's give them all a hand for being here on this very special occasion!" In response, the audience clapped, cheered, and howled in excitement for the team of six.

"…adorable?" Eri muttered. "Did he just call me that?"

"I don't know, but if I'm called legendary, then I'll take it!" Marco cheered a bit as he raised his right fist into the air amongst the cheering crowd.

The DJ handed the microphone to Marco and gave him a request. "Why don't you show the crowd your men and women, as you're the one that leads them? I'm sure they'd appreciate it!"

Taking the microphone, Mr. Rossi cleared his throat. "How are we all tonight?" A massive cheer erupted from the crowd, with some random kids screaming and waving their arms in excitement. The noises soon died down, and Marco continued his introduction over the microphone. "I'm Marco Rossi, the leader of this little party. Over there is Eri Kasamoto and her partner, Fiolina Germi." Both girls bowed slightly, with Eri waving and Fio blowing kisses into the crowd. "This is Tarma Roving, my right hand man." Marco's closest friend shone his teeth and sunglasses as he basked in the spotlight with pride. "And finally, that's Leon Chan and Flynn Taggart, the newest members to the team, both hailing from the United States Space Marine Corps!" The two Marines saluted and waved into the crowd, grinning devilishly as their audience cheered. "And together, we are the legendary "Metal Slug" SV-001 Commando Team!" Concluding his speech, he bowed, and the audience cheered wildly once more.

Turning to the DJ, he wiped his forehead and handed him the microphone. "Whew! That was quite a nervous moment!"

"So this is how it feels to bask in the spotlight…" Eri trailed off a bit. "So, what are we going to do now?"

Her question was soon answered by the DJ. "Alright, everyone! To conclude off this night, it's time for a wild party of dancing! Our band tonight will play a variety of songs that you'll all sure love, so don't miss out on this and have fun!" This meant a wild night of dancing and partying that was sure to last several hours into the night, although the crew called it quits early in order to enjoy a good conversation in the family-rich atmosphere.

The rest of the night was all about some crazy dancing, drinking contests and jokes told between the commandos and Fio's parents. It was also perhaps one of the first times where all team members opened up to one another-Eri herself expressed how she truly felt on the inside for being a teammate on the SV-001 Commando Squad (proud and somewhat dumbfounded because of the boys' silliness) while Fio revealed they were the best friends she ever had in her lives. The males, however, all had the same replies-all the men on the team were rock-solid soldiers with hearts of iron, while the girls were cute yet devastating weapons of mass destruction. No kidding-Fio's skills with machine guns made her a force to be reckoned with while Eri was literally a one-woman grenadier squad. Mr. and Mrs. Germi, in particular, felt that these young soldiers were brave yet lucky-for they had emerged from countless battles alive, even though many of them had wounds and each had its own story to tell.

"This wound." Mr. Germi explained as he rolled up his sleeve and revealed a 5 inch long scar on his right arm. "Was a result of close-quarters combat. Got slashed by a machete from a terrorist. I caved in his skull with a combat knife, though. Haha!"

"Wow. Just wow…" Tarma replied. "I've got a few, but I'll show them another time!"

"Heh, I've got tons. This…" Flynn revealed a massive scar on his left shoulder. "Was the result of being smashed in the back by a Hell Knight! No kidding-it's no video game! Those ugly things did exist and I had to fight them!"

It was not long until the party soon came to an end, late into the night. While Tarma, Eri, Flynn and Mrs. Germi went to bed as soon as the party was over, Marco, Fio and Leon were still wide awake after the event. Bidding good night to each other, the commandos departed, each finding a late-night activity to preoccupy their minds…

Balcony, Germi Estate

Leon slowly walked over to the edge of the balcony overlooking the beautiful mountainside of Genova, Italy and sighed. Never in his life did he feel more relaxed, for he was able to escape all his stresses for the first time. No paperwork, assignments, pointless requests, missions and other types of crazy warfare to deal with-today was truly a time where he could truly be free from all troubles in general. We'll have to return to our normal lives soon enough, but at least there's still plenty of vacation time to enjoy. He took a sip from his champagne and looked into the beautiful night sky. Countless stars adorned the voids above him, twinkling with a soft light.

"I knew I'd find you here." A voice spoke from behind him.

Turning around, Leon realized it was Marco, Fio and her loving father all standing there by the entrance of the balcony. "Oh, hey everyone." He greeted. "That was one wild party we had there!"

"One crazy party. And I'm glad you didn't break your promise, soldier." Marco congratulated with a grin.

"Hey, I did my best." He laughed in response.

Fio wandered up next to Leon and joined in his observation of the night sky. "Isn't it just beautiful? The sky's so clear tonight-I think I can see pretty much all the constellations I know about up there!" She pointed to various locations in the sky and began explaining to her friend where each and every major constellation was located up there.

"It's a beautiful sight. Those who live in populated cities may never see such sights in their lifetime, sadly." Leon added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Germi and Marco observed the two converse among each other. "They're both young, but I know they won't disappoint us in terms of making a brighter future for a world like this." Fio's father spoke tiredly. "Ever since the Gulf War, the world's been so unstable."

"We've done our best whenever the world needs our help-and we've always emerged victorious, shining a light of hope and justice across this world." Marco sighed, remembering the conflicts he fought against General Donald Morden-from the very first war all the way to his brother, Greyfield Morden's declaration of war against the free world. And they were there to stop it. Despite the costs were enormous, they had preserved the world so that it may experience peace for another day…

"I have to thank you for letting us stay at your beautiful mansion, Mr. Germi." Marco complemented. "I don't know how to thank you, but…"

"No need, Mr. Rossi!" Fio's old man chuckled. "You've done enough to make my daughter feel secure in terms of being in the military. For materials and presents do not matter for me-I can afford anything I wished. All I wish for is Fiolina to remain unharmed despite the fact I kicked her into the military."

Marco looked over to Fio, where she continued to socialize with Leon. "Yes. I can't imagine someone as serene and sweet as her getting harmed."

Suddenly, a streak of light shot across the night sky, standing out among all the other various stars of the post-midnight sky. The brilliant shooting star descended across the night sky displaying its impressive radiance as it plunged towards the Earth.

"Wow, it's a shooting star!" Fio cheered as she observed the shining object in the void soar by. "Make a wish, everyone!" She instantly closed her eyes and began making her wish, whilst everyone else with her did so also. Deep in their hearts, all four individuals prayed to the bottom of their minds a wish that would hopefully come true for them.

I wish for eternal peace and justice in this world. Leon prayed, having felt the pain of various invasions.

For one, I wish Morden and all those affiliated with him would be brought to justice for the lives and destruction they have taken and caused. Marco wished, mourning the losses of his friends.

All my friends and family being eternally happy and upbeat, regardless of what they have to go through, that is all I hope for. Fio thought, smiling. All she wanted were friends that would be happy no matter what the situation.

These kids, I wish for the best of them. In whatever they pursue in their lives, for they hold the key to whatever the future holds. Mr. Germi wondered deep within his battle-scarred body. He had done his part. Now he wished the next generation would do the same in the pursuit for a better world.

All four looked up at the night sky, realizing that the shooting star was now no more. The trail of the shooting star was still visible in the sky, drawing a line in the cosmos as a way of showing that more of its own kind may return someday to the Earth and answer the wishes of those who relied on them for a dream to come true.

"You think whatever we wish will come true?" Leon asked.

"I'm positive, with you kids on the front, the future is brighter than ever." Mr. Germi answered his question with a smile on his battle-scarred war face.

Amongst the night sky, the objects in the void continued to twinkle, spreading their light across the Earth and its viewers, shining a light of hope across the endless space and time and representing as a symbol for a brighter future, no matter how lonely ends of space were like, from where they stood in the final frontier.

Well, that's it! Looks like everyone had a fun time on their vacation, why, even someone as lonesome as Eri managed to have a blast on this opportunity to escape from their boring work. That's it for now. And now it's back the Guerrilla Wars and a potential new story that's coming very soon!