casual conversation and the need to maybe just relax a
little bit, Rean wandered outside shortly after the pie was gone. It
was a nice day, and being locked up in the Tower for so long still
gave him an appreciation of the outdoors... when it wasn't raining. It
wasn't that he was necessarily worried about where Rakashi may
have gone off to, but he still felt relieved when he found her in the
looked up at him curiously before continuing to inspect one of the
horse's hooves. "Pie all gone then?"
snorted at her entirely too accurate guess. "Fresh air and
sunshine are still kind of new and exotic."
her to make an amused sound in turn, placing the horse's hoof back on
the ground and moving to the next. "It's... a change. Almost
hard to get used to."
didn't think his opportunity was going to get any more clear than
that. "So, it's... 'later'..."
not that much later." She teased, knowing exactly where
he was going with that. "I'm guessing it's a discussion that
has to take place with everything around..." Which is was clear
that Rakashi dreaded, just a little. She was either parting ways
with these people or giving in to the whims of an army of five,
herself included. Either way...
the pie is gone." The grin was softer, oddly reassuring.
idiot." She responded, getting a look that got her to grin as
she walked around the horse. "You said so yourself."
Rean had to admit, "I guess I did. I'm already pretty good at
"Astonishing." Rakashi answered,
leaning against the stall door. "I suppose
you are learning from the best."
"So..." He pushed, regardless of
his better judgment (which had probably
taken a hike quite a long time before then).
better suited to living here, you know." She partly diverted.
"Beautiful land, quiet, out of the way, tending to animals and
crops. It's peaceful here."
why don't you stay?" He knew the answer even before he asked
the question, but that couldn't have stopped him.
Rakashi knew all of that as well as he did, snorting quietly. "This
will never be home."
home where the heart is?" The desperation with which he was
grasping was enough to make him cringe a bit.
"Poetic." She responded, but not
with the sharp sarcasm expected. "But
right now my 'heart' is in ending whatever the hell they were trying
to do by bringing me here. And protecting those who are innocent."
that was pretty impossible to argue with. Rean sighed. "Yeah,
that's... the right thing to do."
she pointed out, "You don't sound too happy about that."
not." He admitted openly. "But... I still think we
should all talk about this."
his sigh with one of her own, she nodded. "Alright. I'll be
right in, if you want to take it upon yourself to 'round up the
didn't. But he nodded anyway.
at the table was stock still, all eyes on her as she entered. Not
that Rakashi had expected anything less, she supposed, but this still
made matters slightly... difficult. Not that anything would have
made them any easier. Clearing her throat and sitting in the open
chair, she held nothing back with the first blow. "So I'm off
to kill some people."
smile was a little bitter, but honest. "Never did mince words."
I don't intend to start now." Rakashi admitted. "It was
suggested that I'd better talk about this, so... well, I'm talking."
listening." Demi assured, then stated in a tone that could not
be argued with, "As far as we're concerned, you're still
the general. Your orders will still be followed."
an eyebrow, she took a long look around the table. There was a
slightly sinking feeling that came with finding the same conviction
in everyone's eyes; even Andrew's. Eager to make up for his
mistakes, it seemed. They were all eager to do things she didn't
want to order them to do. "Isn't this more of a personal
vendetta?" She finally asked, dark humor in her voice.
more widely-spread than that." Andrew responded. "Seeing
as how the entire Tower fell..."
died, was what he was saying. Many of them, most likely--and more
would continue to die afterward because of her, and the people who
brought her there. It was a good point, one worth considering. "That
isn't justification to put your own lives in danger." She pointed out,
prodding for a decent response.
when has war needed justification, General?" Demi didn't
exactly offer what she was looking for, but the grin was solidly
snorted. "If this is to be my war then it is to be run in a
different direction." Exactly what that direction was
might take a bit more planning than she'd really intended...
is... the right thing to do, though." Rean finally spoke up,
He got a
long, quiet look before a response came. "While I'm not here to
discuss the dramatic implications of 'right' versus 'wrong', what
makes you so sure?"
own surprise, the brunet shrugged and managed to maintain a sort of
straight-backed certainty even knowing all eyes were suddenly on him.
"I just do."
sound that signaled hopeless resignation and a decent amount of
humor, Rakashi seemed to surrender somewhat. "Then I have to be
sure that you can all manage to defend yourselves. That's my next
are no problem." Demi assured.
able to use those weapons might be." Rakashi countered.
"Self-defense and fighting without the aid of weapons would also
swallowed. He was probably the only one there who hadn't received
any training in that regard, and it sounded... difficult. More than
simply challenging. Still, when the general's eyes fell on him again
as if awaiting his approval, he nodded. "Sounds fair."
when do we start the trials, master?" Sarah teased, easing what
may have been a very tense moment if allowed to build.
plenty of daylight left." Rakashi answered, standing. "I'll
wait outside to take you all down one by one." With a little
grin, she merely walked out the back door.
moment's silence, Demi commented, "I'm pretty sure she's
she is." Sarah agreed, chancing a glance over her shoulder and
out the kitchen window. "I've seen this plenty of times
long as no one winds up with broken bones this time." Andrew
sighed, standing himself. "That's what got her kicked out of
the training grounds."
just swallowed. Hard.
volunteer to go first." Demi announced, stretching his arms
behind his head as he approached.
earned him a mildly amused look and a raised eyebrow from Rakashi. "You
"Yes." He answered simply,
bending down and stretching one leg, then the
go first." She stated as if to make sure.
an echo out here..." He grinned, bouncing on the balls of his
feet as he shook everything out.
would be educational, if nothing else. "How fair do you want
this fight, Captain?"
didn't really sound like much of a question to him. "Whatever
seems appropriate at the time." Demi decided, leaning down a
bit and looking ready to rush her directly.
"Mm-hm." The general just looked ready,
more than aware of the eyes on
them from the kitchen window. The man's plan became fairly obvious
with the way he shifted his weight, allowing her ample time to use
his momentum against him and effortlessly flip him flat onto his
"Ow." He commented quietly, still
winded from the impact.
"Again?" Rakashi's tone hid very
little of her amusement.
better than this, you know." Demi assured her--even though he
remained on the ground. "I'm just... tired."
course." She went along with it, offering him a hand.
consider trying to return the favor by pulling her down, but that was
before he realized what a grip she had on his wrist. Playing dirty
would probably just get him hurt. "I'm actually more for
weapons. Firearms, specifically."
you should stick with those." She openly teased.
caught Rean's snicker even at their distance from the house. "They're
usually more effective than hand-to-hand."
won't always have a gun to use." Rakashi pointed out more
gravely than she meant to.
diverted the subject. "And you? What's your specialty?"
"Survival." She answered without
thinking. "Anything and everything within
reach becomes a weapon."
captain swallowed just a little at the slight but noticeable glow to
her eyes as she spoke. He couldn't help but think there might be
something very wrong with his suggestion even as he made it. "Ah,
well. Maybe you ought to be teaching us how to think like that,
responded with a raised eyebrow. "Is that wise?"
resisted the urge to glance at the window and see the look onanyone
else's face. "Well, you've lasted this long, right? It seems
man's logic was legendary in being nonsensical, she'd known that. "It
seems smart." She found herself repeating him again.
responded first with a grin. "Got any better or faster
options?" When she didn't respond for quite a long time, he was
tempted to take a few steps back.
know..." she finally spoke up, "I avoided any sort of
teaching situation like the plague for any number of reasons..."
we're better students than most." The captain made some attempt
to assure--which got him a quiet look. "Not that food
rewards should ever be out of the question."
sighed, but there was a distinct upturn in the corners of her lips.
the lesson moved indoors. And had a lot less to do with physical
impact than it did with thinking and reasoning--or, maybe more simply
and realistically, instinct.
aware of the basic weak points of the human body, right?" Rakashi
started out easily, once again sitting at the kitchen table
but with a very different purpose.
were nods and murmurs of agreement all around, but no one was really
ready for such a lesson. It was the combined nervousness
knowing they were probably about to find out too much, and realizing
that they had the same things to worry about and defend themselves
really all you have to know." She shrugged. "If you can
get an object in hand, use it. The buckle of a belt can crack a
skull or help you pull something out of its socket. More obviously, you
can use it to choke someone, but that runs the risk of giving
them enough time to get an adrenaline high before they've passed out
and then you could wind up injured. Anything sharp you can stab
with, go for the neck. Blunt, the eyes. With nothing at all, you
can still punch, kick bite--if you can't go for the solar plexus or
the gut, then go straight for the face. It's surprisingly easy to
rip someone's bottom lip off with your teeth, just make sure you spit
out the blood before you continue."
"Um." Rean interrupted quietly,
looking and feeling ever so slightly ill
after all of that.
grinned slightly. "Or, leave it to me." She offered. "But I can't be
everywhere at once. The mistake too many people
make in defending themselves is not carrying it through to the end.
Maybe that's fine if you're assured your attacker doesn't want you
dead... but that's not true in this case. People aren't ready for
sheer, determined attacks." She went on. "It's natural to
assume the other person is of afraid of you as you are of them,
unwilling to really hurt or kill. So don't be afraid. And be very
willing to hurt, and more willing to kill."
lesson was ridiculously short, but amazingly effective. And,
frankly, scary as hell.
you certain their orders will be to kill?" Andrew asked.
one here is exactly useful alive, are they?" Demi answered
general tapped the tabletop with a fingertip, twice. Nearly
silently. "They may want those of you who were involved with
the project alive... for a little while. Then you will be
think they'd just kill you on the spot?" Sarah asked, voice
gave a little shrug. "I'm no longer useful to them. Worse,
every reason I was brought here is now turned in direct opposition to
them. The military is ridiculously inadequate in the intelligence
department, but they know better than to try to 'make use of me'."
It was a
question that he really didn't want to ask, but it slipped from
Rean's lips before he caught himself. Luckily, it was at least a
little decently altered from his thoughts. "Would they try to
catch one of us to lure you?"
were no sarcastic quips, no grins or joking smirks from anyone around
the table. The general herself considered the question carefully
before answering. "Maybe. But that's why I need to know you
will be looking out for yourselves. And each other. We may be
working as a group, but I'll be doing the bulk of the duty."
don't have to, you know..." Demi insisted. Not that he
wanted to go around killing people, but these guys were kind of
asking for it. He wasn't entirely prepared for the gold glow in her
eyes when they turned to him.
mine." She responded, quiet but firm. "All of this is,
but especially their lives. And the rest of you should be focusing
on keeping blood off of your hands, besides."
captain wanted to be able to call her on bullshit, he really did. But
he couldn't. "Well, we're... here to do what you need us to
increased for a fraction of a second before it faded
leaving her eyes merely gold-flecked and mostly human. Rakashi
nodded and wasted no time. "We need a decent vehicle."
think I can get one." Demi answered, surprised that he was even
able to respond right away.
you have it here by tomorrow morning?"
blinked. "Tomorrow morning..? Well, sure, I mean... no
shifting." Was all Rakashi offered.
enough to get the captain's expression to go a bit grim, nodding. "I'll
get going to town now."
stood with him. "I'll help you get the horse ready."
waited for them to walk out the back door, counting a few seconds
before she stood herself. "Just going to take a walk around the
perimeter. Make sure all is silent."
like that, the room was quiet and mostly abandoned. Rean swallowed,
once again uncertain of nearly everything--except the fact that he
was still following, no matter what.
wolf." Andrew commented suddenly.
almost enough to get the younger man to start, not having expected
the words. "Hm?"
wolf." He repeated, letting the term linger for a moment. "There's a reason
the word 'bitch' exists as it does. There's nothing that can save you
from pissing off a mother wolf...
except maybe a bullet. Somehow I doubt any number of bullets are
going to save anyone from Rakashi's teeth."
didn't really want to find out how true that was.