After enduring Admiral Zhao's long-winded dressing down with stone faces, the four subordinate Yu Yan of Team Three retreated to their dorms as the captain remained for further…discussion. The four settled on the mats on the metal floor and set to the business of tuning their bows. Polishing the wood, restringing the bow, and checking their supply of arrows and face-paint all needed to be done before any of them could even think of sleeping. Unlike being on patrol, the Yu Yan did not practice their strict code of silence when they had down time.
"Can you believe the nerve of that guy?" Kova was, as usual, the first to open his mouth.
"If the engineers could somehow turn his ego into a weapon, winning this war would be a done deal," Zarin, his twin by blood and look, said almost wistfully.
"He's as hairy as pig-monkey, loud as one too with all his howlin'," Torai, the archer who'd brought down the Blue Spirit, muttered bitterly. "Arrogant fool."
"Seriously, what was he smoking? Aim for the head and not to kill?"
What an idiot."
"And did he forget about the Avatar, and the fact that he has legs?"
"Should we be doing this?" Yu Li, newest to their forces, asked timidly. Her face reddened as all eyes turned to her. "I just mean…well, he's an officer. An Admiral."
"He's a tool!" Kova said.
"Aren't we all?" Zarin quipped. "Tools of the Nation and our lord and the –"
"Don't start with that, man. I'll hurt you."
"Yeah, that'll happen."
"Back on topic, boys," Torai interrupted. "Zhao. Tool. Idiot."
"Right," Kova said, gesturing in a way that implied he'd not know what had come over him. "Did you see his sideburns?"
"I have the sudden thought to remove one," Torai mused, grinning. "Remember how the old warriors used to take their enemy's scalp's clean off?"
"He'd roast you."
"The look on his face'd be worth it."
"Do you think he'd be able to tell us apart?"
"Please. I doubt he even knows we have girls on our team. I mean, with Yu Li, you can hardly tell. Flat as a door."
Yu Li squawked, and the boys shared a good laugh at her expense.
The room quieted as the door slammed closed, and the archers froze, turning deliberately. They'd not even heard it open. Mzia, their unofficial captain, eyed them all coolly. She placed her fists on her hips as she addressed her team.
"We are weapons as surely as our bows and arrows. We shoot at what we are told to shoot, kill when we are told to kill. We do not question those who command."
The Yu Yan looked appropriately chastised as the captain crossed to her own mat, but Kova couldn't let it rest.
"So you think the Admiral is right then, captain?"
Mzai, in the process of removing the band across her forehead, paused and cocked an eyebrow.
"What by all the spirits gave you that idea?"