This is my first Study series story so I'm really excited and nervous about it. Hope you guys enjoy it too. It features our favorite soldiers, Janco and Ari.

Disclaimer: This will be the only stated disclaimer in this story. I own absolutely nothing to do with the wonderful territories of Ixia and Sitia, its residents and magic. That honor goes to the wonderful Maria V. Snyder.
I do own all the original characters.

I wish had Valek though ;)

And special thanx to Harlequin99 for being my Beta for this story.


Fire Team

Summary- A fireteam is a small military unit of infantry. It is the smallest unit and generally consists of four or less soldiers, usually two, and is usually grouped by two or three teams into a squad or section.

Ever wonder how Janco and Ari met, and the circumstances that led to a great friendship? This is their story. How they met and how they stumbled upon an operation that was to change their way of living.

A/N: this story takes place around 8 years before Poison Study. Janco and Ari are 18, Valek and Commander Ambrose are 26 and 32 respectively. Give or take a couple years.


Chapter 1

I'm in deep shit, Janco thought. And he was in deep trouble indeed. He was trying to devise a plan of escape, but failing.

Janco was standing in Captain Fox's office, the captain of General Sykes' soldiers of MD-8.

In shackles, he stood flanked by two of the captain's soldiers. The one on his right was just an inch taller than Janco's six foot one frame and had a deep dark scar on his left cheek, contrasting with his pale skin. Janco has dubbed him Cheeky. The other was just as tall as him, but much wider with short crimson hair. Freckles is what Janco referred to him as because of the red dots that exploded across his face.

Now, is all this really necessary? He thought bitterly. Having me chained up like I killed or attempted to kill the Commander. It's not like he would try to escape or anything.

Actually he would…and did, twice. The problem was he kept getting caught. It was like they knew or something…

His musings were interrupted by Fox clearing his throat. "Janco, Janco, Janco." He chanted, shaking his head. "What are we going to do with you?"

"You could let me go with a clean record and forget this ever happened." Janco grinned.

Hey, you couldn't blame a kid for trying.

Unfortunately his charm didn't work, because the captain gave him a hard look. "For someone so young, your record is full of petty crimes." Looking over the file, he started listing the offenses.

"You have charges for truancy, curfew violations, underage alcohol consumption…" He skimmed the list some more. "Vandalism to a commercial property, weapon possessions, a bunch of petty theft charges, resisting arrest…and totop it all off, two failed attempts of escape." Putting down the file, he looked up to see Janco staring at the ground.

Janco had a bad feeling in his gut, clearing his throat, he said. "When you list it out like that. You make it sound bad." He kept his gaze at his feet, like a mischievous dog caught by his master. He could feel the intensity of Captain Fox's glare on him.

There was silence, and all Janco could hear was the pounding of his heart in his ears growing louder. Finally the captain broke the silence. "And now, you have these new charges against you."

Janco's head shot up, his eyes wide. "I didn't start that fire-"

"You were caught on the premises," Fox interrupted. "You did a breaking and entering, and stolen goods were found on your possession, so that's burglary too. The evidence is against you." He tossed the file on his desk. "And worst of it, you are almost of legal age now, so you will be charged as an adult." He recited in a stern yet flat voice. "You are lucky no one was in that mill or it would have been attempted murder too."

Janco's stomach plummeted to the floor; he was beginning to feel sick. Tried as an adult? He knew what that meant, Imprisonment without seeing the light of day for a very long time. Oh, God, he prayed desperately. If there is any way for me to get out of this jam, I promise I'll never get in trouble again.

"You are going to be imprisoned…unless," the captain trailed off.

Unless?

Fox sighed. "There is this decree that's been in effect for some time now. It states that depending on the nature of the crime, the person in question will be given the chance to serve their sentence usefully to their territory." He explained. "You are being given a choice. You can either serve five years in the dungeons or that same time in the military."

Wow, you certainly do work fast!

Janco sent up a silent prayer of thanks to his lucky stars. He suppressed the urge to do a little dance and stood there looking like he was considering the options. Jail or military? That's not even a question. What idiot would actually choose to rot in the grimy dungeons with rats and rotting food? "Which Military District would I be serving for?" He asked.

The captain smirked at the boy in front of him, impressed but not at all surprised at the decision he was leaning towards. Taking a piece of paper, he read off the orders. "You will be sent to Captain Ross' regime in MD-6."

"MD-6?" Janco asked confused. "Isn't that where the Commander's castle is?" Commander Ambrose was a vicious son of a bitch from what Janco heard. Apparently the Commander assassinated the entire royal family about five years ago. Since he came in power, the entire territory of Ixia has been reconstructed, split into nine military districts, each with a commanding general and their own group of soldiers.

Also, one of his first orders was to get rid of all the magicians in Ixia. If anyone in the territory was caught having magical abilities- whether the person can only heal injuries or talk to animals- they were to be terminated on spot. And even if you were an all powerful magician, the commander's second in command, Valek, would find and exterminate you. He was the only one who was more feared than the commander himself.

Also, rumor has it that Commander Ambrose was the only person to ever kill a snow cat. Snow cats live in the Northern Ice Sheets. They are impossible to get near because they blend in with the surroundings so well. The fact that this guy killed one and took out the entire royal family means this was one cat you do not mess with.

"Yes it is." Fox smirked. "So whatever schemes you have in that head of yours you can just squash them now. It would be a piece of sweet cake for the great Valek to find you."

Maybe I should have picked imprisonment, Janco internally groaned.

Fox stood up. "It will take two days for your transfer papers to get there and two days for them to send up soldiers to escort you back. You will remain in the dungeons until they arrive."

He waved his hand as a sign of dismissal. The two guards surrounding Janco took him back to his cell. Once they reached his cell, they shoved Janco inside. Cheeky removed his cuffs and locked the door behind him. The soldiers left the dungeons with an echoing clink of the main door leaving Janco in darkness, the only source of light from the tiny window two cells down from his own.

Janco rubbed the raw, red marks on his wrists tenderly, hissing at the pain. When the circulation returned to his hands he stretched and started pacing the small area he was confined to, going over everything Captain Fox had said to him.

Five years in MD-6. How hard could it be? He thought. It's not as bad as serving that time confined in a small space. At least he would be allowed some freedom serving for the commander. He would interact with other people. Maybe, I could do something heroic and they will let me go on good behavior. He grinned at that thought. He would play the part of good respectable soldier for the time being and when his five years are up get out of Ixia. Maybe go to Sitia. Or return home.

If he was going to be welcomed back home.

Janco sat down on the cold hard floor. There were only a few other prisoners around. Two were talking amongst themselves and another was snoring heavily close by. Janco leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes. He stayed in that position, thinking, long after the sun had set and into the night.

xxxxx

Janco woke to something jabbing at his backside, causing pain to shoot up his back with each blow. He turned over, still half asleep, to see Cheeky and Freckles with bored expressions on their faces. He realized that it was Freckles' foot that was kicking him, and he resisted the urge to kick him back, knowing that it wouldn't do him any favors.

"Wake up, maggot," Freckles grunted. "Captain Ross' men are here for you."

Janco rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and got up groggily, he was not a morning person. With Cheeky leading the way and Freckles bringing up the rear, he was quickly led out of the castle.

Janco's eyes blinked in the dim light. The sun was just beginning to rise and he hadn't seen the sun, nor had he been outside in nearly a week. There were two armed men waiting for them. One had shaggy light brown hair with a long sword fastened to his waist; the other was a curly head blond that had a type of machete and brass knuckles on his fingers. Janco thought that he looked like a guy who took things way too seriously and noted to stay out of his way.

The soldiers greeted each other and talked briefly. After the papers have been signed and handed over, the triad was on their way. Janco walked in the middle, with Shaggy in the lead and Curly bringing up the rear.

After two days of walking in the blistering sun and taking very brief rests for food and sleep, they finally reached the castle. Janco has never been in Military District 6. Growing up in MD-4, there was never a need for him to come to this district. The castle itself was huge, made entirely out of stone. Its appearance was also surprisingly bland. There were no flags swaying from the towers or any type or recognition to show that this was where the commander resided.

Their little troupe entered the castle walls. Jeez, even General Sykes had colorful tapestries on the walls and military flags hanging everywhere. He looked around at the impressions where paintings were hung and empty spaces in the corners where statues used to stand.

Walking through the castle in silence, Janco mentally recorded all of the closed doors and empty hallways along the way. The castle was surprisingly active for so early in the morning. The sun just rose in the sky and the last traces of night disappeared over the horizon. Laundry maids walked by with woven baskets filled with sheets. Servants were cleaning and people were coming in and out of the rooms.

Janco glanced to his right out of the huge windows. Soldiers could be seen doing their early morning routines. In groups of four or five, men- and very few women- were running along the outer banks of the barracks, not far from the castle itself.

It's too early for this, Janco thought bitterly. Not being an early morning person at all and he could not see himself submitting to strict schedules of the regime.

They continued walking. They went up a spiral stairwell and went down a long hallway. The only sound was coming from Shaggy and Curly's boots as they clomped against the hard stone floor. There was a door at the end of the hallway and Janco heart was beating louder and louder with each step he took.

When they reached the door, Shaggy knocked three times. After a heartbeat a voice called out, allowing them to enter. Shaggy opened the door and Janco walked through to two men waiting inside.


There's chapter 1. Let me know what you think.