by R. Frink
An epic tale of 5 soldiers involved in a war between humanity and a powerful alien race.
Chapter V: Rendezvous in Kozar
Hero’s Legend – Cafeteria
0601 – May 15, 2107
A tinge of nervousness gripped Phoenix’s mind as he walked into the cafeteria clad in his new blue and black uniform. Pinned over his heart was a gold badge in the shape of wings signifying his new position as a Dragoon pilot. Several people walked around the cafeteria holding trays of food or putting away empty ones. He walked to edge of the room and grabbed a fresh tray and plate. After choosing all of his favorite breakfast foods he looked for a place to sit. As his eyes scanned the room, he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. He turned to the right to see a young woman with curly auburn hair and grey blue eyes, wearing the same uniform as him.
“You’re that Phoenix guy, right?” she asked.
“Yes,” Phoenix replied, his body tensing.
“I’m the pilot of Dragoon Unit One, Fiammetta Sommer,” she began, her tone professional. After a second, a small smirk came to her face and she held out her hand. “Call me Fifi.”
“Nice to meet you, Fifi,” Phoenix said, shaking her hand.
“Come sit with the rest of us Dragoon pilots,” she offered as she motioned towards a table in the back.
Phoenix followed Fiammetta to the table and sat down next to her. He took a moment to look at the other pilots sitting at the table. Sitting on the other side of Fiammetta was a young woman, a few years older than he, with long ebony hair and short bangs evenly cut over her light brown eyes. In front of him, were two men completely identical in features, only differing in hair styles. Each had long dark brown curls and striking blue eyes that contrasted to their tanned skin. Next to the twins, was a man in his thirties who possessed short almond brown hair and stern dark brown eyes.
“Hey everyone, this is Phoenix,” Fiammetta proclaimed to the group. Between chewing their food, the group of pilots drowsily mumbled some kind of greeting to the young blonde. Phoenix smiled sheepishly and turned his focus towards his meal. The table fell silent with only the clacks of the utensils against the plates filling the air until one of the twins rose from their plates.
“So, what do guys think of General Alverdine and General Kyros?” The man asked, trying to break the awkward silence.
“What do you mean, Lucius?” Fiammetta asked after gulping down orange juice.
“I’m Lucius, actually,” said the other twin. Fiammetta gave him an annoyed looked. “What Uri’s getting at is…aren’t they supposed to be some kind of war heroes?”
“I heard their code names used to be Aphrodite and Adonis during the First War,” the black haired woman commented before resuming taking small bites out of her eggs.
The older man sitting across from her gave her a skeptical look. “That’s impossible. They can’t be much older than this new kid!” he exclaimed as he motioned towards Phoenix. “I don’t understand how they can give such high ranks to people as young as those two.”
“I think you’re wrong on that one, Karna. I think they’re just older than they look,” Fiammetta replied. “I have my suspicions that those two are indeed the famous Aphrodite and Adonis.”
“Didn’t those two have, like, superpowers or something?” Uri questioned.
“Unless you count being highly trained by a government program as a superpower, then no,” the dark haired woman answered.
“No, seriously,” Uri continued. “I heard the stuff they could do was unnatural.”
“I’m sure before this war is over we’ll see a glimpse of what they can do in battle,” Fiammetta commented.
Hero’s Legend – Briefing Room
“We’ve received a new mission from Lunar Orbit,” General Alverdine began as she slowly walked across the small room. Her eyes fell on each of the pilot’s faces making sure she had their full attention. She turned around to face a large screen behind her and in her hand, was a small remote which she clicked to show a large map of their current location. “We are to assist the Imperial Victoria in Sector 3.”
Alverdine pressed a button on the remote and the map panned over to show the location of their destination, an area outside of the moon’s orbit. A small blue dot with “Imperial Victoria” written underneath blinked periodically and across from it was a red dot labeled “Slaerin II”. “They are currently being overwhelmed by the Slaerin II. Our main objective is to protect the ship. Once Imperial Vicoria’s safety is assured, our secondary objective is to defeat the Slaerin II. Are there any questions?”
With all eyes on their general, the room remained silent. “Alright. It will take about 32 hours to get to Imperial Victoria’s position which gives us plenty of time for training.”
“What exactly will we be doing in training?” Lucius asked curiously.
“Why don’t I show you?” Alverdine replied with a small smile on her face.
Hero’s Legend – Training Zone
“I am fully aware that all of you have already gone through some kind of training and that all of you are quite exceptional with what you do. You wouldn’t be here otherwise. But you’re never too good to learn a new trick. In addition, I want you to get comfortable around you’re new teammates. Learn from each other, understand each other, teamwork is the key to our success.”
Alverdine paused in her lecture and motioned Kyros to come to her side.
“In this day and age, I find hand to hand combat training to be lacking. Granted, most of the time we will be fighting with the Dragoons, however, there will be missions in the future that will require us to be on foot. Lesson 1: how to read an opponent.”
Alverdine turned her body around so that she and Kyros stood face to face. “Unfortunately, body language is one of things that is lost in transition from hand to mech, but you still have to rely on intuition and be able to recognize a pattern no matter what weapon you use.”
The two generals eased their way into fighting stances. “One demonstration should be all you need. Then it will be your turn.” Alverdine’s eye’s met her partner’s before declaring in a small voice, “Begin.”
The green haired man narrowed his eyes, intently watching Alverdine’s body for any change. In the bat of an eye she was already inches away, fist thrusting towards his face. In an even shorter amount of time, he shifted his body to the right, his eyes remaining on her form to see her follow up with a right kick. Kyros brought an arm down to block her lengthy leg. He redirected the force of her kick in an attempt to throw her off balance, but with a cat like maneuver she twisted herself around and landed back into her original stance.
Phoenix was in awe as he watched the sparring match. The two generals moved with expertise far beyond his own, and yet not a single blow landed. Only near misses as the two moved around each in an almost dance like fashion. Finally, the two separated, neither of them breathing deeply.
“Good work, Kyros,” Alverdine commended. He smiled and she brought her gaze back to the pilots. “Observe your opponent. Look for a change in balance, a twitch of a muscle, the pattern of their punches and kicks. Pair up, I want you all to practice.”
Kozar – Docking Station
“Ice! Elteo! It’s good to see you both are well,” Chosa greeted in the Taetren language. Both Ice and Elteo bowed their heads in respect.
“The same to you, Chosa,” Ice replied in the alien language. Chosa smiled at her student.
“Your pronunciation has improved.”
“Thank you, Chosa.”
“Come, the Elders are waiting.” Ice and Elteo rose to follow their teacher. After being stuck on Purgatory for so long, the great military colony of Kozar was refreshing. In his years spent training with Chosa, Ice found the Taetren culture similar to humanity’s; the diversity in Kozar was evident of that as there were shops, entertainment, and even gardens. Ice fondly remembered the times Chosa would take him and the other students to the gardens for a break from their strenuous training. The swishing of a door opening snapped Ice out of his thoughts and he focused his senses on following Chosa.
Kozar – Council Room
The Elders, comprised of Kings and Queens elected to represent the five royal families, were the most powerful people of the Taetren race. To stand before them in person was a high honor and Ice and Elteo came prepared with a worthy presentation. Ice stepped towards the podium while Elteo remained behind him with a small electronic device in hand.
“I come to you with new information of the United Earth Forces’s new machine,” Ice began, getting right to the point. Elteo manipulated the device in his hand and footage of the fight between himself and Fiammetta displayed on a large screen behind them. “As you can see, this new mech has advanced capabilities exceeding many of our own. From what I gathered they’re faster, more agile, and stronger than anything we’ve seen from the UEF before.”
Elteo changed the footage to a 360 degree design of the Dragoon Unit One. “If there are more of these machines, there is a possibility the tide of this war will shift to their favor.”
One of the Elders, a middle aged Taetren male with pale skin and flame colored hair, rose from his seat. “What do you suggest we do, Commander Ice?”
Ice turned his head towards the sound of King Beilond’s voice. “To prevent the UEF from overtaking us, we should begin upgrading our current mechs immediately. In addition, currents ships fighting in Sectors 2 and 3 should be reinforced until the necessary upgrades have been prepared.”
A female Taetren Elder with long black hair, light blue skin, and piercing green eyes rose. “The Elders will discuss your requests, in light of this new development; Purgatory’s status is to remain on standby. You are dismissed, Commander Ice and Lieutenant Elteo.”
“Thank you, Queen Kridah,” Ice and Elteo replied in unison, both bowing before taking their leave.
Kozar – Plaza
Ice and Elteo walked to their rooms in silence. As his thoughts claimed him, Elteo’s eyes shifted to Ice. He had yet to make a decision, and the time left to transfer to a different ship grew alarmingly short. A familiar face caught his eye, standing in a group of high ranking elites, was a Taetren male with long midnight blue hair and large sapphire eyes. For the first time in a while, a bright smile came to Elteo’s lips as he waved his hand and called out to his friend.
“Prince Kiri!” Upon hearing his name, Kiri turned from his company to find the source. His eyes found the pair of Ice and Elteo standing several feet away and his lips matched Elteo’s enthusiastic grin. He excused himself from his company and approached the pair.
“Dehall Elteo, Ice, it’s wonderful to see you both again,” he spoke, nodding to each of them.
“The same to you, your Highness,” Ice replied.
“It has been too long. You have a new uniform, been promoted I presume?” Elteo commented, noticing Kiri’s black and gold outfit.
“More like a transfer. I am now a part of Prince Farui’s personal forces,” Kiri answered, averting his eyes with slight embarrassment.
“Congratulations,” Ice told him.
Elteo placed a friendly pat on his shoulder. “We are having dinner with Chosa this evening, you should join us. It’ll be like our training days.”
The Taetren prince opened his mouth to accept the offer but a deep voice behind him intervened.
“Kiri, we’re leaving,” said a tall Taetren male with dark red hair that was cut above his broad shoulders. Kiri spun around to gaze at the cold, light brown eyes of his commander before turning back around to face Ice and Elteo.
“I’m sorry, but I must decline. It was nice seeing you both again,” Kiri replied before leaving them with a meek smile. Elteo couldn’t help but feel disheartened as he watched Kiri leave with Prince Farui.
Kozar – Ice’s quarters
“I’m glad you have some time off,” Chosa began as she sat down on the edge of Ice’s bed. “You seem troubled, young one.”
“Am I right for this?” Ice asked as he finished unpacking some clothes from his suitcase.
“You were handpicked by the Elders, they are not known for making foolish decisions,” Chosa assured.
“I know, it’s just-”
“Do not question your abilities, despite your loss of sight and human blood, I agree with the Elder’s choice.” Ice replied with silence and sat down next to his mentor. “There is something else?”
“I met a young pilot in space. He was inexperienced but had the potential of being one of the greatest. My fight with him was thrilling, but I suppose I’m a little homesick now,” Ice admitted.
“I see…” Chose murmured, remembering Elteo’s words.
“I captured him, spoke with him, and set him free,” Ice continued.
“I’ve told you this many times, you must let go of the past. It will only drag you down. Your life with the two you loved is no longer a reality,” Chosa lectured with a sigh.
“My heart won’t let me forget,” Ice whispered.
“Try. Or your path will be filled with pain.” Chosa stood from the bed and made her way to the exit. “This pilot you speak of…”
“Kill him without hesitation the next time you encounter him. That is my advice to you.” Without another word, she walked through the door.
Kozar – Elteo’s Quarters
The annoying ring of the room’s video phone disturbed Elteo of his late night reading. Sighing, he placed the book down and reached over to the nightstand, pressing a small button on the device causing an image of Kiri to appear on the small screen.
“Kiri?” Elteo muttered, thoroughly surprised.
“Can you meet me at the bar in the plaza?” Kiri asked hastily.
“Sure, I can be there in about 10 minutes,” Elteo replied at the sudden request.
“Thank you, Dehall.” With that, the call was disconnected on Kiri’s end.
Kozar – Plaza Bar
“I’m sorry this is so late and unexpected,” Kiri apologized as they sat down at a small two person table.
“It’s fine,” Elteo reassured. The drinks were quickly ordered.
“I wanted to see you before I lost my chance,” Kiri explained, his intense blue eyes lowered. “I know you and Ice will be leaving soon.”
Elteo chuckled. “Ice might be leaving without me.”
“Oh? Why’s that?” Kiri asked, his voice slipping into a curious tone.
“I’m thinking of transferring to a different ship.”
“What’s wrong with Purgatory? It’s one of the finest ships.”
“It’s not Purgatory that I’m trying to get away from.”
“Oh, I see,” Kiri responded with a giggle. “You and Ice aren’t getting along again.”
“How did you-?”
“You haven’t changed at all. You two are always fighting, even back when we were all training under Chosa,” Kiri recollected with a nostalgic fondness. The conversation paused as they received their drinks and thanked the waiter.
“It’s different now. He’s ranked higher than me and I don’t understand his ways.”
“Have you tried?” Kiri questioned before taking a sip of his purple colored drink.
“YES!” Elteo cried defensively. “I don’t think he’s qualified to be commander. He doesn’t even know how to properly handle prisoners.”
“I am right to conclude that the prisoner was human?” Elteo nodded. Kiri smiled in understanding. “Ice has fought alongside us for many years; it’s easy to forget that he is human as well. Ask yourself, when was the last time he was with his own kind?”
Elteo’s green eyes glanced upwards in thought before his eyes returned to Kiri’s. “Eleven years, almost half his life…”
“Things become different when you see them from his side.”
“I suppose.” The two fell into a brief moment of silence. “How is it going with Prince Farui?”
“He’s very talented, I’ve always admired him, so it’s an honor to fight for him,” the young prince began.
“I sense there’s a drawback.”
Kiri sighed and finished off his drink. “He is…cold to me. Sometimes cruel…”
Elteo’s fingers tightened around his drink, an awful feeling growing in his stomach. “Does he hurt you?”
“No,” Kiri replied quickly. “It’s nothing like that. I just…get the feeling the only reason he accepts me is because of my brother.”
“I’m sorry,” Elteo replied in a quiet voice, not knowing what else to say. The prince smiled in return.
“Thank you for spending time with me, you’re a good friend.”
“I’m afraid I have to go. It’s getting late,” Kiri stated as he stood from the table.
“I understand,” Elteo responded, standing as well. “Goodbye, Prince Kiri.”
Kiri shook his head. “No, not ‘goodbye’. See you soon.”
Elteo couldn’t help but chuckle at his prince. “Okay. See you soon.”