I do not own Valkyria Chronicles. If I did, Selvaria would not have died. At least, not in such a miserable way.

I took in a breath of the warm afternoon air as I hefted the handgun that had come with my uniform lightly, passing it from hand to hand as I stared at the helmet that I'd set up on a fencepost.

"Stupid Imperials," I muttered as I raised the handgun, pointing it at the helmet.

"You probably shouldn't do that."

I turned to see Leon leaning against one of the supply tents that had been set up. We were pretty much just outside of Ghirlandio, no more than a couple hours away on foot. Leon shook his head, "that's part of the uniform, you know. It isn't a good idea to go trashing it, no matter how much you hate the Empire."

I turned my attention back to the helmet, "there's no way I'm wearing that thing. A, it looks stupid. B, it'll only get in my way."

I heard Leon's footsteps as he approached, "and what if you take a bullet to the head? That helmet just might save your li-"

I cut him off with a single gunshot. The bullet pierced the metal that made up the helmet, going straight in the front, straight out the back, and kicking up the dust in a pile of dirt somewhere behind it. I turned to glare at Leon, "the Empire's economy must really be trashy if they're army is relying on those helmets for protection. Those things are about as tough as tin cans. You really think it's going to save my life if I take a headshot?" I pointed the handgun to my own head for effect, waiting for his answer. But apparently Leon had nothing to say to counter that one. I returned my attention to my helmet/target practice, "if only it were Maximilian's head I were using," I muttered, firing another shot.

"Here, here," he sighed.

I merely fired a third shot in response. The flaps of my headband whipped about wildly in the wind as it strengthened, blowing my fourth shot off course. I grated my teeth as I fired again, then twice more. All the shots missed. The helmet rattled about on the fencepost, as if taunting me. At that, I unloaded the rest of the clip at the piece of metal, each bullet ripping through the helmet and reducing it to little more than scrap.

"Well that was a waste of a good helmet."

We both turned to see yet another Imperial soldier, dressed from head to toe in dark red. Though I still wasn't good with ranks, I could still tell what this guy served as - a shock-trooper, judging from his uniform. I felt my eyes narrow as I popped out the clip, and slammed a new one into the gun, never taking my attention from the soldier, "and you are?"

"Oh, he's a friend of mine," Leon said quickly, "Drake, this is Otto. Otto-"

"Yeah. The new kid that His Grace wanted to see, right?" Leon flinched at the title, and my eyes narrowed even further. Otto stepped forwards, a note of happiness in his voice, "wow. It must have been a real honor for you. Actually meeting the Imperial Prince himself-"

"Otto-" Leon tried to warn him.

Keyword tried. Too little, too late.

In the next instant I had my gun to the shock-trooper's forehead, my finger itching to take off the safety and pull the trigger, "no. I can't say it was much of an honor," my voice came out as a cold snarl.

Otto's hands came up defensively, "hey, hey, hey, I'm not looking for trouble here. All I wanted was to try and make a friend or two."

"Well you're certainly doing a stellar job," I stated, pulling the gun from the man's head. I took off the safety, and took aim at the mess of a helmet again.

"Okay, maybe that was kind of stupid of me. I should have guessed that you wouldn't have the best opinion of Prince Maximilian, so I'm sorry about that," I took a shot as he paused for a moment, "but can we please not start off on the wrong foot, here? I want to have as many friends as I can by the time this is over."

"You tell me," I took another shot, biting my lip and making it bleed in my concentration, "I give people the respect that the deserve from what I've seen. You give me my space, I'll give you yours."

"Sounds fair," Otto requited, and I took one last shot at the helm. Satisfied that it was in pieces, I walked up to the remains of the helmet, and put one final bullet in the symbol of the Empire, obliterating the eagle with a smirk before reactivating the safety and holstering the gun. As I turned on my heel, Otto spoke up, "okay, two things."

"Yeah?" I asked, wary of what he wanted.

"First off, why do you wear that headband?" he asked, pointing at the Darcsen cloth wrapped around my forehead, "you have to wear it for some reason. I don't hate Darcsens or anything, but it's something that's going to get you into trouble with the others."

"It belonged to my best friend. That's all you need to know. As for what the others think, to hell with them. I couldn't care less," I rubbed at my headband for an instant before turning back to Otto.

He shrugged, "fair enough. I don't think it'll cause problems with General Bles. She actually seems to sympathize with the Darcsens for some reason. Kind of ironic, considering she's the Valkyrur Witch," at that last bit, something in my head clicked. The silver hair, the red eyes, her insane strength... it all added up. But it shouldn't be possible. The Valkyria died out centuries ago. But if their line were to have survived somehow, someway...

Otto continued, "word is you've barely met the General and you already hate each others' guts."

"Not too far off the mark," I commented, folding my arms.

Otto shrugged again, "I don't know her very well, only a couple of minor orders to collect weaponry and such, but just stay out of her way and you should be fine-" he froze, then smacked himself in the forehead so hard we could hear the echo in his helmet, "aw, man. Looks like staying out of her way isn't going to be much of an option for you."

I blinked, "don't tell me she already wants me dead. I didn't do anything wrong yet! Well, besides spit at Maximillian, but that's beside the point!"

Otto stared at me through the slit in his helmet, then sighed, "nah, nothing like that. I just remembered that the General asked to see you, Leon, my friend Johann, and a guy from Fhirald by name. Doesn't look like you guys are getting out of this one."

I sighed, staring up at the sky, "just tell me where I have to go, and I'll make it out fine."

"General Bles' tent is the big one near the end of the compound. Just get through the barracks and it'll be right at the end," Otto pointed, and I swore under my breath.

"Thanks" I uttered the word as I turned to leave, Leon close behind me.

"Any time!" Otto called out, and I smirked. Maybe Imps weren't so bad after all.

Sorry if this chapter seems kind of short, but there's an OC I'm going to use from another author, who wants me to wait until his fanfiction, Embers of Life is up and running so that people don't suspect him of character theft. If I were to continue this chapter, I'd wind up using the character, and thus would be breaking my commitment to my deal. So sorry, but I didn't want to keep you waiting too long either. Please review. I need to know what you think, or my stories won't turn out well.