Forward – Before We Panic!

After rereading a translated version of Always, Stand by Me, I decided to rewrite Sword and Shield so that it dovetails directly with the novel. The result has significant changes to the story, which those of you who read the version prior to this will certainly notice. As I began rewriting what I had written I've decided to plan much further ahead.

I should mention that it is not my intention to insult, harm, or otherwise tear down any of the real people that make an appearance in my work they are simply there because they would be the people directly involved, not because I have any desire to bash Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or any number of the other people that make appearances in the story. Tragedies that happened at slightly different times are included, such as referencing a possible suicide and making it an actual suicide in the story due to the actions of the West against Mithril, my condolences go out to the family of Thomas L. Tinsley and the 3rd Wing stationed at Elmendorf Alaska. The appearance of his name and its circumstances during my research on your unit inspired my inclusion to give dramatic effect to the events in the story, no offense is intended.

This is the order of events leading up to Sword and Shield, it may not be totally accurate to the official timeline, but we're doing mild AU for safety's sake anyway.

1981 – The Yamsk 11 Omni-sphere malfunctions, leading to the creation of the Whispered. Kaname Chidori, Teletha and Leonard Testarossa are born within three minutes of the accident.

1983 – Andrei Kalinin recovers a child from a JAL wreck while on a mission as a Spetz Naz operative identified only by the name on the shirt, Sousuke Sagara. Sousuke is placed in an orphanage in the Soviet Union.

Mid 1980s – Chinese Civil War, China is partitioned into a communist north and a democratic south along the Yangtze River. Kowloon and Hong Kong are divided much like Berlin.

1989 – Soviet Union begins its first withdraw from Afghanistan, Premier Mikhail Gorbachev is assassinated and perestroika is halted. The Rk-89 "Shamrock" enters service with the Soviet Union becoming the world's first operational combat Arm Slave. Sousuke Sagara is inducted into a KGB program to produce child assassins.

1991 – Operation Desert Storm ends with the use of a nuclear weapon against Iraqi forces in retaliation for a chemical weapon strikes. This triggers the Fifth Middle-East War with Iran, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon launching a retaliatory attack on Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other regional United States allies. The RK-91 "Savage-A" enters service in the Soviet Army and soon is exported to other nations. Al Qaeda ("The Base") forms in response to Saudi Arabia siding with the United States and allowing its soil to be used as bases for the United States. Al Qaeda functions as a "Fifth Column" for the enemies of the United States within Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE.

1992 – The Soviet Union reinvades Afghanistan to prop up the failing regime of Mohammad Najibullah. The Lion of Panjshir a.k.a. Badkistan's Tiger a.k.a. General Majhid a.k.a. Ahmad Shah Massoud is targeted by multiple assassination attempts. Sousuke Sagara is deployed to Afghanistan on one such mission. The RK-92 "Savage-B" enters service in the Soviet Army and soon is exported to other nations, in response the United States deploys the M6 Bushnell and begins exporting the weapon to its allies. Arm Slaves engage each other for the first time in Fifth Middle-East War. Mithril is formed. Pakistan backs the militia of Mullah Omar in the ongoing war in Afghanistan to little effect.

1993 – Sousuke Sagara joins the Mujahedeen as the adopted son of General Majhid and takes the name Kashim. Gauron arrives in Afghanistan as a mercenary advisor. Kalinin defects to the Afghan side of the war after his wife dies.

1994 – The War in Afghanistan grinds to a stalemate with Soviet Forces unable to dislodge the remains of the Mujahedeen from Badkistan and Panjshir. The Afghan resistance unifies under the "Northern Alliance" led by General Majhid. The Fifth Middle East War ends. Eastern European uprisings against Communist rule begin.

1995 – Sousuke travels to Cambodia with Kalinin working as mercenary. They lose contact soon after. Grey begins her mercenary career in an uprising in Eastern Europe against communism.

1996 – Sousuke and Kurz Weber engage each other in Lebanon, neither is aware it was the other. The Soviet Union deploys its army to suppress ongoing revolts in Poland, Germany, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. Yugoslavia fragments into civil war between Slavic and non-Slavic ethnicities. The Soviet Union backs the Slavic ethnicities with military forces, and the United States provides covert aid to their enemies when possible.

1997 – Tuatha de Danaan is launched. Sousuke and Kurz Weber join Mithril and are assigned to work under Melissa Mao as part of the Western Pacific Fleet's Special Response Team. Mithril procures the RAH-66 Comanche attack helicopter and M9 Gernsback along with experimental M9E and M9D variants. The ARX-7 Arbalest is constructed by Bani Morauta for Mithril based upon an M9 chassis. Bani Morauta commits suicide. The M9 Gernsback begins field tests in the United States.

1998 – Events of Animes: Full Metal Panic, Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu?, and Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid take place. Events of the Light Novels: Fighting Boy Meets Girl, One Night Stand, Into the Blue, Ending Day by Day, and Dancing Very Merry Christmas take place. The Zy-98 "Shadow" begins operational field tests in the Soviet Union.

1999 – Events of the Light Novels: Continuing On My Own, Burning One Man Force, Come Make My Day, Approaching Nick of Time take place.

2000 – Events of the Light Novel: Always, Stand by Me take place. Sword and Shield begins.

The stories in Sword and Shield will be written into volumes… each one being somewhat self-contained. Thus far I've planned a number of volumes, how many of them I'll get through before burning out is up in the air…

Sword and Shield - Volume 1: Picking up the Pieces

The remains of Mithril attempt to rally before the United States moves to eliminate them organization and secure the whispered they protect. With further rebuilding clearly impossible Jerome Borda launches Sword and Shield to continue protecting the whispered as the United States sends a team to secure Kaname Chidori.

Sousuke: "It seems while we were gone I lost the lease on my apartment…"

Kaname: "Okay…" *snickers* "You can stay with me for a while then?"

Sousuke: "I have a sleeping bag. I will not inconvenience you…"

Kaname: "You are not sleeping out here…" *drags Sousuke to her bedroom*

Sword and Shield – Volume 2: A Family Visit

Sousuke Sagara and Kaname Chidori travel to Afghanistan on the invitation of Ahmad Shah Massoud. Sousuke comes face to face with his past and the lone survivor of Amalgam while the Soviet Union launches an attack with the sole aim of destroying the Northern Alliance and killing its leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Kaname: "Ehh? We're going to Afghanistan?"

Sousuke: "I've already procured the necessary clothing for you…"

Kaname: "I am not wearing a burqa!"

Sousuke: "I did not procure a burqa, just a hijab and suitable body armor…"

Kaname: "Body armor!"

Sword and Shield – Volume 3: The Hawk and the Sparrow

School begins for the pair and they confront the challenges of their final year of High School while a graduate from the KGB Sparrow School and a Hawk are slipped into the school to separate the two and isolate them for capture or assassination. How many lockers will suffer from Sagara's wraith this year?

Kaname: "Sousuke? What's this 'Sparrow School'?"

Sousuke: "Uhhh…"

Kaname: "Sousuke? What is it?"

Sousuke: "I am not comfortable discussing this with you, perhaps you should ask Shinji."

Sword and Shield - Volume 4: Toys for a Tin-pot Dictator

A South Korean whispered candidate is kidnapped in the middle of the night and whisked away over the border. Sword and Shield send Kurz, Wraith, and Mao to investigate while testing begins on their newest tool, the RXI-1 (Robotic eXperimental Infantry – model one). All the while the North Koreans begin looking to capture the next whispered within easy reach… Kaname Chidori.

Kaname: "So why are we going to the research facility?"

Sousuke: "Sarah asked me to assist with Al."

Kaname: "How can you help an AS designer with an AI… you're just a soldier."

Sousuke: "Perhaps that's why she wants my help."

Sword and Shield – Volume 5: Summer Break?

With exams looming, Sagara and Chidori find their free time dwindling, but Sousuke makes an effort to find a way to make one more lasting summer memory for the two of them.

Kaname: "Wait… no guns, no bombs, and no missions?"

Sousuke: "Affirmative, I have asked for Kurz's aid in planning this to ensure you have a good time."

Kaname: "So… where are we going?"

Sousuke: "I'm afraid that is classified."

Kaname: "Sousuke!"

Sword and Shield – Volume 6: Red Mercury Rises

After months of waiting and watching, the KGB makes its move, unleashing the Typhoon-class Submarine Aircraft Carrier Red Mercury on a mission to secure Whispered candidates world-wide. It's first target… Sword and Shield.

Kaname: "A submarine aircraft carrier? Why does this sound familiar?"

Sousuke: "Tessa will not be pleased at this cheap imitation of the TDD-1."

Kaname: "But its Typhoon class, maybe it'll have a white haired old captain like from Hunt for Red October!"

Sousuke: "I doubt we will be fortunate enough to get him to defect."

Sword and Shield – Volume 7: The Sword and Shield Society

With growing connections between the former members of Class 3-4 and Sword and Shield, Sarah proposes the creation of a blanket organization for friends of those in Sword and Shield allowing members to share their experiences… if they can get their friends to sign a NDA. All the while an investigative journalist comes closer and closer to unearthing the secrets of Black Technology and displaying them to the world.

Kaname: "Kyoko? Shinji? What are you doing here?"

Shinji: "Signing up, what else?"

Kyoko: "Me too!"

Sousuke: "Do you really want to know this?"

Sword and Shield – Volume 8: A Party of Whispers

Christmas is fast approaching and Sword and Shield prepares for the mother of all birthday bashes as Tessa arranges for the whispered to spend Christmas at a ski resort in Hokkaido. What can possibly go wrong?

Sousuke: *gasps*

Kaname: "Sousuke, is something wrong?"

Sousuke: *gasps* "No Kaname, just the stress of preparing for this trip…" *gasps* "It's killing me."

Kaname: "You're supposed to relax, stupid!"

Sousuke: "But Kaname, do you realize how valuable a target we'll be…" *gasps* "So many whispered in one spot!"

Sword and Shield – Volume 9: Finals from Hell

Final exams are upon the pair as their High School carrier winds down. Unfortunately their presence will result in one final 'incident' for the High School year book.

Sousuke: "I don't understand… why anyone would choose to tell stories with similes and metaphors like this! Why can't they just say it plainly?"

Kaname: "Calm down Sousuke, let me try and explain it one more time…"

Sousuke: "Thank you… I'd be totally lost at this without you."

Kaname: *blushes* "It's not a problem."

Sword and Shield – Volume 10: Graduation… then what?

After the hell of final exams, graduation is upon them… now they just need to figure out what to do with their lives and what they need to score on their College entrance exams!

Sousuke: "Kaname… have you figured out anything?"

Kaname: "Nope… not really, I want to go to college."

Sousuke: "I best begin studying again then… I will need it to score high enough for any school you'd want to go to."

Kaname: "I'll help you…"

Sword and Shield – Volume 11: Tokyo U

Tokyo University's research department's partnership with Sword and Shield nets them the pair from Jindai High School. Unfortunately the school had no idea what they were in for when they signed the contract.

Sousuke: "Let's see, a new school… I'll need to make the area secure for Kaname."

Kaname: "Sousuke?"

Sousuke: "Shaped charge explosives… check, P90 personal defense weapon… check."

Kaname: "I'll try to keep him in check, but no promises."

Sword and Shield – Volume 12: Wait, a Marriage?

Sousuke is given a dangerous assignment by an old friend while Kaname is given one of her own by Kyoko. Their task, serve as best man and bridesmaid at the marriage of their two best friends. Can they succeed without causing a disaster?

Sousuke: "I was unaware that they were even dating…"

Kaname: "You didn't know?"

Sousuke: "Affirmative, I am equally unfamiliar with the tradition of best man… my research indicates that the position is akin to that of a bodyguard for the groom, in case of any challenger."

Kaname: "Uh… that's not what it means anymore."

Sousuke: "So a concealed weapon would be more proper than a full arsenal?"

Sword and Shield – Volume 13: Human Trafficking

Sword and Shield investigates a human trafficking ring in china… and find a secret business specializing in the abduction and transport of whispered individuals into government hands.

Sousuke: "I am not surprised."

Kaname: "About what part… thugs abducting whispered or the price tag for one of us?"

Sousuke: "No, I am not surprised it was China. Nations often fall into criminality after a civil war."

Kaname: "So I'm worth several million dollars and you don't even arch an eyebrow?"

Sword and Shield – Volume 14: A Death in the Family

September 8th 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud is assassinated. Three days later Al Qaeda terrorists crash two jet liners into the World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon. Sousuke launches a personal campaign to hunt down those responsible.

Sousuke: "I'm sorry Kaname, but I have to do this… you know how important he was to me."

Kaname: "I know, just come back alive understand!"

Sousuke: "I cannot promise…"

Kaname: "You will come back or I'm dragging you out of hell myself, got that soldier!"

Sword and Shield – Volume 15: Enemy of the Faithful

Sousuke Sagara is captured by the enemy, as Mao and Weber deploy to bring him back an assassin is sent to end the life of Kaname Chidori.

Melissa: "Wait, we get a central part in a story! Awesome, hey Weber!"

Kurz: "I heard, God this calls for drinks!"

Kaname: "Stop screwing around and go get him!"

Sword and Shield – Volume 16: Everyone is now Sagara Sousuke

Sousuke and Kaname head to New York for their second Christmas as a couple. There he pays his respects to the fallen at the World Trade Center while Kaname is stunned by how things have changed in the city she had once called home. All the while she tries to get her father to see the good side of her boyfriend.

Kaname: "I can't believe this… what next? Remove our shoes for airline screening?"

Sousuke: "I do not see the problem."

Kaname: "And the bomb squad just blew up my spare suitcase since it was sitting unattended."

Sousuke: "I told you that security has been greatly improved."

Kaname: "Damn it, everyone is acting like you!"

Sword and Shield – Volume 17: A Nevada New Year

Before returning to Japan, Sousuke is given orders to assist the escape of a whispered from the infamous facility in Nevada: Area Fifty-One. Unfortunately it requires sneaking onto one of the most heavily guarded pieces of land on the globe.

Sousuke: "Kaname… I'm afraid we'll have to make a stop in Las Vegas before our return to Tokyo."

Kaname: "Why?"

Sousuke: "I've been ordered to break into Area Fifty-One and evacuate a young man."

Kaname: "Can we leave a country without being chased just once?"

Sword and Shield – Volume 18: From Russia with Love

Word reaches Sword and Shield that two of the leading whispered in the Soviet Union wish to defect to Sword and Shield. Kurz, Sousuke, and Melissa are sent to pick them up and find themselves involved in a monstrous sting operation.

Kaname: "Eh? What about me?"

Tessa: "Oh, we can hang out while they're busy… have some girl time."

Kaname: "Well, that doesn't sound too bad."

Tessa: "So, how was Vegas?"

Sword and Shield – Volume 19: Brain Trust Inc.

It seems governments aren't alone in scooping up whispered individuals. When Kaname is approached by representatives of a number of military technology companies Sword and Shield finds a new enemy… the military industrial complex itself.

Sousuke: "I am now dumping my stock in those companies, such behavior is inexcusable."

Kaname: "What! You had stock in Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies?"

Sousuke: "Affirmative."

Kaname: "Just how much money do you have Sousuke?"

Sousuke: "The exact value of my investments fluctuates daily."

Sword and Shield – Volume 20: Will you?

Sousuke embarks on his single most difficult mission as the second year anniversary of their reunion at Jindai High School approaches.

Sousuke: "Kaname… I've wanted to ask you something."

Kaname: "What is it Sousuke?"

Sousuke: "Uhh… Will you… will you…"

Kaname: "Will I what?"