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Re: Face to Face

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Thwap, thwap, thwap.  Hitomi exhaled each time she struck the black bag which hung from the ceiling.  For the past several months she had been studying Taekwondo and she was quickly picking it up; already her sensei had told her that she would soon be ready to take on real opponents.  Of course such compliments were flattery to be taken only at face value, as Supreme Chairwoman few things which were said to her could be trusted.  Landing a succession of round house kicks to the bag's midsection Hitomi released the last of her frustration on the bag with a loud yell.

 

Though this was an odd place to hold any sort of meeting Hitomi had wanted the soldiers she had invited over to feel comfortable and have the chance to relax, even though they were expected to arrive in uniform.  As her aide passed her a towel and whispered the time to her Hitomi took both casually while she calculated just how long she would have to shower and prepare herself.

 

Since she had the time Hitomi treated herself to a long hot bath, after which a different aide came in and helped her prepare her hair and did some last minute fussing over Hitomi's clothing. Today her aides had selected a maroon red skirt/coat match along with a white blouse, while this attire was still formal it was also very low key and unoffensive.  As her hair naturally fell into place Hitomi waved her aide away and took one last look in the mirror before she left the room.

 

Though an ordinary visitor may have gotten lost at the Chairwoman's large manor home Hitomi knew the hallways quite well, this aided her in achieving a speedy arrival at formal events and served a dual purpose should she ever need to escape the large home.  Pausing outside one of the houses three tea rooms Hitomi waited with an aide who handed her a plain brown folder.  Though she had memorized the names and faces of the soldiers she would meet days ago Hitomi had reviewed the list one more time before entering the room.

 

Her timing was perfect and just as she sat down one of the house's staff members announced the arrival of a visitor.

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Januarius....The city of basic and applied microengineering. What a place to live in.

 

Of course, he did not say that out loud to any of the passengers as the transport shuttle came to a stop. Who knows the people he might offend if he simply just voiced out his thoughts without explaining what he meant was by no means a negative opinion about the city.

 

There was little doubt that Januarius was not as impressive as Aprilius, but Landis Exel Zenastan could only know so much from pamphlets, travel brochures and books. Photos were after all only a minute representation of the glory of what one could experience.

 

Or so Evran would say... He smiled. His late stepbrother continued to have a major influence on what he thought at times. As he passed through the customs with relative ease, attributed to the fact that he had little to bring with him, he stopped to take in the grandeur of the city.

 

There were (obviously) tall, glass-paned buildings lining the streets close to the terminal from which he exited. Cars were aplenty, but there was a seemingly omission of the hustle and bustle of the busier cities like Aprilius or even Martius. Of course, his impression could be biased from the fact that Martius had industries responsible for churning out machines of war (now considered to be tools of peacekeeping), but he would leave it at that.

 

"Let's see now..." The new Chairwoman had given him specific instructions as to where they will be meeting and Landis was lying if he voiced nonchalance at the venue. If it were simply for privacy, then there was nothing to question, though perhaps this Hitomi Matsuko was a little more relaxed than the previous leader of PLANT.

 

Renting a car was easy, as there were some shops nearby blaring out with large signs of advertising. He quickly chose a sleek, black convertible and was soon on his way, preferring to worry about the mess of his hair later and let the wind tickle his locks.

 

Wow. Was the word he decided to use as he looked at the building and the tall, elegant gates. It took a little shorter than expected-Probably because he had ignored the speed limit on the highway, but he had apparently reached his destination. At least, from what he was seeing. It certainly exceeded the expectations Landis had for a home of the leader of a nation, but did not border on exaggeration as compared to the homes of some over-indulgent politicians. The path leading towards the main building detoured past a elegant-looking fountain, while there seemed to be flowers of different kinds in the hedges that acted as borders to the marble paths.

 

For the first time in his military life, Landis felt slightly intimidated. It was true that the Chairwoman was relatively young for someone of that position, but who knows how she would react if he did not act a little more proper? He struggled with combing his hair a little by using his hands, patting it down as much as he could, adjusted his red ZAFT uniform and collar before pressing what could only be the doorbell.

 

"Yes? A female voice spoke up. So much for initial impressions of a male butler. He thought amusedly.

 

"I was told that Chairwoman Hitomi Matsuko has expected me here. Officer Landis Exel Zenastan. He was not really sure what to say, despite his convictions that nothing would go wrong for him.

 

Maybe he was more than just a little intimidated.

 

Silence followed, before the voice came again. "Identity confirmed. You may proceed."[/b] The gates opened probably by an automated device and Landis walked through. There were probably security cameras hidden somewhere, just like the guards which were suddenly in view. As expected, all the grand homes of politicians would be incomplete without an armed guard in the premises.

 

A maid in a simple, dark dress with but a few frills on the hem of her skirt came out, greeting him as he went up the well-sculpted steps leading to the entrance of the home. Nodding and smiling at her, Landis followed as they twisted and turned past several corridors at a pleasant pace. It almost seemed as though an hour had passed before they finally stopped at a polished door of good wood.

 

"Miss Hitomi is expecting you."

 

He nodded, smiled again as she went off about her duties, took a deep breath and knocked. Officer Landis Exel Zenastan, requesting to enter the room, Ma'am."

 

Let's hope that doesn't sound too stupid...[/b]

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Hitomi nodded to her aide who moved from behind the chair Hitomi was sitting in and went to open the doors which led into the tea room.  The large oak door served several purposes.  One was to impress guests with a fine display of simple, yet well crafted artwork which the doors displayed.  Another, and perhaps the most obvious purpose, was that the door provided an immense amount of privacy; when she had ordered the interior of the house to be redecorated Hitomi had specifically chosen this doors since they would absorb large amounts of sound.  Finally the doors acted as a final security measure which separated Hitomi from the rest of the world.  Each of the two doors had been carefully broken down and reconstructed so that no one would guess that they would stop anything short of a beam rifle, but that was all far too specific for the guests she would be receiving today.

 

Making eye contact with Hitomi the aide nodded and slowly opened the right door, allowing the first officer to enter.  As he did Hitomi rose to greet him, bowing slightly in a polite fashion.

 

"Hello Captain Zenastan, I'm glad that you're able to join me today.  Hopefully your peers will be along momentarily and we can begin this meeting."  Hitomi was still impressed by this young man's achievements, especially considering his age.  As a male aide stepped away from the wall and asked if the young Captain would care for anything to drink Hitomi sat down and gestured for Zenastan to do the same.  "I trust that you had no problems during your trip here Captain Zenastan?"

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Brian spent more time getting ready for his meeting today than he was accustomed to. As such, he had scheduled so much time for himself to get ready that he was actually ready a full half-hour before it was time to leave. It was really throwing off his internal timer. He ended up simply watching TV for 20 minutes, not really paying attention and occasionally panicking because he was afraid he'd forgotten something on his uniform, only to rush to the mirror and realize that he hadn't forgotten it and all was well. He simply left 10 minutes early, just to keep his head from exploding. Unlike his previous meeting with Exel... "Commander Zenastan!!!", he chided himself. That was the problem with meeting a CO on an informal basis. You quickly got used to referring to him informally, and had to break that habit when more formal occasions arose, like this one. Unlike his previous meeting with Commander Zenastan, this would be more formal, and as such, he was in full uniform. As one of the top graduates in his Academy class, he was able to wear the red uniform. Though it conferred no extra rank, it was more an award than a status symbol. Medals were awarded for excellence in service, the red uniform for excellence in training. Of course, the two did not always equate, that is to say, those with red uniforms didn't always get medals, but it still made him feel a bit more confidant. Even when thick-headed CO's were screaming in his face and giving him every punishment they could justify, it was the one thing they could never take from him, no matter how much they wanted, no matter how much they tried.

 

Aside from his uniform, the only other difference in his appearance was his hair, but it was a heck of a difference. He'd spent about 15 minutes trying to get it presentable, which was 15 times longer than usual. His efforts had been largely rewarded, however. He'd gotten it too sit down in a nice pushover toward the right side of his head, and it didn't even look hyper-gelled, too. Nothing fancy, but at least it wasn't as wild as usual. That wouldn't do when he was going to meet the Supreme Council Chairwoman. The whole thing still boggled his mind. An actual sit-down, face-to-face meeting. Yes, it wasn't one-on-one, there were others coming, including his new commander, Zenastan, and he'd probably be low man on the totem pole, but he was still on the list. Normally, he couldn't give a care as to a person's authority, but he supposed it would be a good idea, to put it lightly, to show a bit of respect for his new home's  head of state. As he was currently living in Martius City, pending his permanent housing transfer to his new squadron's home base, he had to catch a shuttle to get to Januarius, but inter-PLANT shuttles were so common it was like waiting for a taxi back in Orb.

 

When he arrived at his destination, he was still a bit early, so he quickly consulted a map, trying to get a feel for the layout of this particular PLANT. It was something he always did when he arrived at a particular PLANT for the first time. He even had a little notebook where he would jot down notes on anything that looked interesting or unusual so that, if he ended up with free time, he could go check it out. He also looked up directions to the house he was heading for, double-checking the ones he had received, just to be on the safe side of things. After confirming that he was heading for the right place, he set out. Upon arriving, however, he could see he had made a slight, and likely unimportant mistake in his thinking. You see, "house" had not been the correct term for this place so much as "mansion". Heck, even "palace" was in play on this one. True, he hadn't expected an dinky little apartment, but he was surprised nonetheless. He quickly resolved not to let it get the better of him. It was rare for Brian to put on a poker face, but he sure had one now.

 

Using the intercom to verify who he was and that he was indeed due to be here, he was buzzed inside and shown in by an aide, whom Brian made sure to thank for her assistance. He'd probably have gotten lost without the help, and he certainly didn't want to go ticking off his guide. Arriving at the room where the meeting was to be held, he knocked sharply twice. When the door was opened, he would introduce himself, leading with a salute.

 

"Flight Lieutenant Brian Tsukamoto, reporting, ma'am."

 

He saw his new CO, Landis Zenastan, already inside, though he kept his salute aimed at Chairwoman Matsuko.

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Christoph had been ready for several hours as he walked down the street, looking at his own reflection in the big windows that decorated the tall building where the car-rental had their business. His brown silky hair was looking great, he had spent about thirty minutes on getting it the way he wanted, usual this took about ten minutes. The extra twenty minutes was actually a waste of time as it looked as it always did, well kept and a fresh scent of vanilla.

 

Suddenly he stopped and faced the buildings big window, he brushed himself of and stretched out his crimson red uniform making sure there wasn’t even the tiniest fiber of dirt on it, he studied himself as he pulled away a stripe of his brown hair from the face, the reflection was a bit fuzzy in the tinted window, but his ice blue eyes still stood out against the brown hair.

 

Christoph didn’t see himself as better then anyone that had a green uniform, he had studied hard and paid attention on the classes at the academy, that was all. He respected persons not by their color of their uniform but their performance and personality.

 

The day before he had called in advance to a local car-rental shop, he had reserved a motorcycle that was almost identical to his own at home, white fairings with a gold frame and a smoke tinted windshield. The only thing that wasn’t identical to his own was the black wheels instead of the gold ones that he had on his own motorcycle.

 

When he had made sure that he looked presentable Christoph continued to walk towards the front door of the car-rental store, a big blue neon sign with the text “Great rental deals!” flashing above the front door made sure that costumers could locate the entrance from a distance.

 

The entrance door slid to the side as Christoph walked up to it a motion detector had registered his movements and saved him the effort of opening the door. He stopped inside to a small reception area with a white small counter matching the interior of the room, it looked sterile like a hospital environment and the floor was so clean that it was probably no health risk to eat directly from the floor, the only thing that separated this room from a hospital reception was the posters of sports cars and motorcycles decoration the walls.

 

Behind the counter there was young girl in her teenage-years with, her platinum blond hair matched the white and black company uniform, her green eyes stood out from the otherwise so sterile and colorless room. She gave Christoph a soft smile, raveling her white shiny teeth.

 

“Good day sir, It’s always pleasure having a ZAFT soldier around. How may I help you?” Her smile bursted out into a feminine giggle, she leaned forward over the counter reviling her feminine forms.

 

The door slid to a close behind Christoph with a soft electric sound, he smiled back at the young girl, he walked up to the counter and leaned over the counter as he was about to kiss her, but he stopped some distance from her head. He could see his own reflection in her emerald green eyes; she sure was a pretty girl with her beautiful eyes and her feminine curved body. I don’t doubt that she gets many customers to come back and rent a car a second time just to see her.

 

“Good day, I reserved a white motorcycle for today, under Von Crailsheim. And a white helmet with a smoke tinted visor, you can never be too safe.” He put his hands on the counter and leaned against the counter.

The girl behind the counter smiled once again and started to type on the computer in front of her, her eyes constantly scanned the monitor except for the times she took a sneak peak at Christoph. She stopped typing and finally hit the enter button after a brief pause.

 

“Yosef, will be right up with the motorcycle and helmet.”

 

Christoph nodded and crossed his arms. “I can’t wait until I have to return the motorcycle.” He gave the girl a smile reveling that he looked forward to meeting her once again. A revving sound could be heard outside the door just before the sound died out completely. The door slid open with a hissing sound, trough the door a rather small man in his mid thirties with the same company uniform as the girl had walked in. In his right hand he had a white helmet with a smoke tinted visor; he nodded at Christoph and reached out the helmet to him.

 

“Here you go, she purrs like a cat, so please bring her back in the same condition as you got her.”

 

Christoph couldn’t help but to laugh to himself, he nodded and gave Yosef a smile, knowing that he would probably drive the motorcycle harder then anyone else that had rented it, but he would make sure to take care of it, he always took care of things he borrowed from others, Christoph taught it was un-respectful to return an item in worse condition than it was when you borrowed it.

 

“Ill take care of it as it was my own.”

 

“Well, have a nice ride sir.”

 

Christoph grabbed the helmet and put it under his right arm, he turned and nodded too the girl behind the counter.

 

“Ill see you tomorrow, have a nice day.”

 

The girl smiled and blushed slightly as she nervously played with the keyboard in front of her.

 

“I sure hope so. Drive safe.” She played with her hair as she watched Christoph walk out the door as he followed Yosef out. He gave Christoph a nod and continued down the street before he made a quick right turn trough a gate that lead down to the company’s garage.

 

Christoph put the helmet on the motorcycles fuel tank, he mounted the cycle and squeezed the throttle bar, it was soft against his hands almost like squeezing yello. It was made out of a forming gel that was smooth against his skin and that adapted to the riders hands.

 

He put on the helmet and secured it with the straps underneath the chin, closed the visor making the whole world look a bit darker then it was, he liked it this way when he rode motorcycles, it enhanced feeling of the bike. A quick push on the start button made the starter engine rattle split of a second before the engine fired up in a rumbling sound. He revved the engine some times. Christoph cracked a smile; the few times he lived on the wild side of life was when he rode a bike.

 

He released the clutch and like shoot from a slingshot the motorcycle sprinted away, leaving a dust cloud of exhaust and dirt from the street behind it. Christoph squeezed himself close to the bike making it as aerodynamic as possible without motorcycle clothes. He continued to soar down the streets leaning low with the bike in each and every turn, keeping up the speed trough tight corners.

 

The guards at Hitomi´s mansion could hear a loud revving sound getting closer by the second, out of the blue a white motorcycle with a redcoat ZAFT pilot riding it flew past outside the gate.

 

The crimson red uniform flapped in the wind as Christoph slowed down just past Hitomi Matsuko´s mansion gate, the bike came to a stop some distance away from the gate. Christoph got of the bike with a swift motion, he un-strapped the helmet and strapped it to one of the bikes handles. Christoph walked towards the gate as he put the motorcycle key in his inner pocket. Two guards was peeking out trough the gate, probably looking at the bike further down the street.

 

As he came up to the gate he stopped and talked into the intercom.

“Flight Lieutenant, Christoph Von Crailsheim, I am expected by Hitomi Matsuko.”

 

A female voiced answered trough the gates intercom.

“Your expected, please enter.”

 

The gate buzzed and Christoph was met by a female aide that offered to show the way.

“Follow me Mr Von Crailsheim.”

 

He gave her a nod and smiled towards her, he moved his hand in a “ladies first” way.

“Lead the way.”

 

They walked for a brief moment trough the hall of this enormous mansion, the halls seemed to never end as he looked down the endless corridors on his both sides. Finally they arrived at a door that was massive and impressive in everyway. The female aide smiled at him and bowed slightly.

 

“Here we are sir.”

 

“Thank you, have a good day.”

 

The aide smiled and walked away down the corridor, soon she was out of sight; it almost seemed like the corridor bent, following the structure of the PLANT.

 

He knocked on the door hard and strong, within seconds the door flung open. Christoph could see the chairwoman Matsuko and two other redcoats the he couldn’t recognize, one of the redcoats seemed to have enterd seconds before himself as he was still saluting.

 

He adjusted his posture and gave the chairwoman and the other in the room a strict by the book salute.

 

“Flight Lieutenant Von Crailsheim, it’s an honor to meet you chairwoman Matsuko.”

 

He kept his salute, he made sure he was answerd before he stopped saluting.

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Hitomi rose once again to greet two more of her guests.  As with her first guest both of these men were also rather young to be soldiers, and even though she only held a relative handful of years on them they still seemed to be boys to Hitomi.

 

"Welcome Lieutenant Tsukamoto."  As she greeted him with a polite bow Hitomi smiled slightly, knowing that a smile was always the best way to disarm any opposition.  "I would like to welcome you too Lieutenant Von Crailsheim.  Please be seated and relax, this is hardly a formal event and I would like to be able to speak openly with all of you."

 

Returning to her own seat Hitomi quietly composed herself as she waited for the young men to seat themselves.  Once they had she addressed the three young officers as a group.  "I hope that I might be able to provide a refreshment for each of you and considering the occasion there was only one that truly came to mind."  As if on cue a set of side doors opened and two servants wheeled in a small cart covered by a simple ornate cloth.  What rested on the top of the cart, however, was the item which Hitomi had spoke of.

 

Rather than taking advantage of the large wine cellar in the basement Hitomi had chosen to select something more unique.  In a silver cooler lay a bottle of wine that had been given to her upon her accession to the position of Supreme Chairwoman by her father.  It was a bottle of red wine and it was quite well aged, the label on the bottle had long ago worn away and family records showed no indication as to when the wine entered into the family.  Even so it was well over three hundred years old and its value had yet to be determined, but the only way to truly find the value of a wine was to drink it.  As the two servants placed and poured out one glass for her and each of her guests Hitomi inwardly mused at the thought that these two servants' expertise went far beyond wine pouring.  Each one was a highly trained member of an unknown faction of ZAFT dedicated solely to protecting the chairwoman, but her own amusement would do little to advance this meeting and Hitomi put the thoughts far from her mind.  Instead she took a glass and, avoiding the more proper techniques of wine tasting, slowly sipped a bit of the wine from the glass.

 

"I hope that your commanders, or each of you, might be able to inform me as to the state and readiness of your troops.  Their numbers, morale, and equipment are of great concern to me so if each of you would be willing to speak your mind in turn I'd be more than happy to listen."

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After being seated a servant approach Christoph, the servant showed him the aging bottle that seemed to be several hundred years old, Christoph gave the servant a nod, the man started to pour wine into his wineglass, it splashed up and down inside the glass as the servant poured the wine. It had a reddish color; it could almost be mistaken for blood.

 

It seemed to be quite an effort to impress some minor officers with such an old wine, but who knew maybe they would play a big part in the future and it’s always good to be the good side with the fighting men, after all they are as important as the ones higher up in the hierarchy.

 

Christoph twirled the glass of wine and put it under his nose; he inhaled the scent from the wine. It was a fruity scent and you could almost smell the history trough the trapped air inside the bottle, lost days that now made its way into Christoph´s nose. It made him wonder who they wore and where the men that made this wine lived, did they have a long prospering life or did they suffer just to make this excellent wine that had never even been opened in several hundred years.

 

Christoph stood up and raised the glass in a slow and steady motion towards the ceiling, the light slowly pierced trough the thick wine, it almost looked at it glowed.

 

“Before we go into statistics and equipment I would like to make a toast to our lovely hostess, Hitomi Matsuko, I am sure ZAFT will reach true glory and prosper under your command.”

 

He looked Hitomi in the eyes, he had a serious look on his face, it was an honor to be at the same table as the chairwoman of ZAFT.

Edited by Guest

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Hitomi casually smiled as Christoph complimented her.

 

"I can assure all of you that the success of this nation will not be made or broken by my hands but by the sacrifices made by citizens such as yourselves.  Without all of you we couldn't possibly hope to live in peace without the threat of extermination by those who deem our people to be impure beings."  Hitomi lifted her glass once more and drained it of its contents.  "If anything I should be toasting you for your hard work and effort in maintaining the peace within the Earth sphere."

 

As she spoke memories of the past two wars came up in Hitomi's mind and she barely suppressed a shudder.  To think of all those who died and those whose bodies still floated in space was enough to unsettle even the most seasoned warrior.

 

"Now, if we could please move onto the business at hand."

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He was not entirely sure what to make of this, even as he was allowed to be at ease and the tip of his fingers left his right temple.

 

It was not as though he could not understand the importance of the presence of his new second-in-command being here. All things considered, Landis began to ponder what this was all about. Were the three of them only involved with squads which were newly formed? Why not simply organise a formal meeting in an auditorium of some sort and dish out the information and questions to every new Commander in charge of the freshly moulded squadrons?

 

Of course, he was in no position to question the rationale of the Chairwoman's choice of location. 'Honoured' and 'flattered' were the two choiciest words he would have in mind for Hitomi Matsuko, though he unfortunately had neither a glib tongue nor an inclination to socialise so often. He was here on official business despite the suspiciously informal setting, so he will play the passive role in the conversation unless absolutely required.

 

Having been given the cue to be seated (and with a smile to top it off, no less), Landis relaxed and took to the chair. the cushions looked posh, as though they had just came right out of the best furniture shop one could find in the city. It was not as though basic furnishings like these were made out of crystal or some precious metal, though. That would be better saved for fantasy novels.

 

Having been seated next to Brian, Landis gave him a nod of acknowledgement. Not doing so might prove to be damaging to their new 'partnership' in the squad, as Landis could put it. They were the commanders, and were in charge of a perceived group of trouble-makers which unfortunately included the two of them, whether they liked it or not. Truth to be told, it was a good challenge, but a tough one as well.

 

He heard the Officer von Crailsheim giving a toast to the Chairwoman already, and raised his own wine glass by holding the bottom part of the wine glass with his hand half-heartedly. Despite his reluctance, Landis still remembered the etiquette lessons he had received from Derran (unwillingly) and Evran (most willingly). He was even surprised that he recalled how to taste wine as he sipped a small amount of the rich liquid. Swirling it in his mouth a little, the pleasantly sourish flavour dominated his taste buds, mixed with just a slight twinge of sweetness teasing his tongue. By the time the liquid had went down, Landis felt as though he had tasted nostalgia.

 

What is this...Sauvignon? Cabernet? Or some sort of wine I've never even heard of? He amused himself with those questions for a while, before finally returning to reality with the fact that the Chairwoman had referred to her earlier question.

 

He was slightly impressed with the way how she handled everything informally, but had a 'let's-get-down-to-business' attitude when it came to important matters. She seemed like a likeable friend and perhaps will be a exemplary colleague or manager, though the position she held now was probably far beyond the capabilities of one of the latter group.

 

But what was with that shudder? Had she suddenly been reminded of something chilly enough to intimidate her, even in the slightest? Perhaps it was the two wars... After all, she had made the slightest mention of Coordinating-hating Naturals, which was perhaps even a sensitive issue by present standards. His thoughts darkened as they turned towards his departed stepbrother and apparently unfeeling stepfather. However, there was no time to dwell on them, and as he did everytime they surfaced, Landis pushed them back into the shadowed dredges of his mind.

 

What other way to begin than with military protocol? "Ma'am, both Brian and I are from the same squad and I apologize for not being entirely clear about the status of our squad."

 

The truth was a start, though Landis did not know how far it would carry him. "As I've said, Ma'am, we are a new squad, and the numbers are filled up. The squadron looks promising, though I've to admit that thei-our records from our previous units seem less than satisfactory regarding our conduct."

 

It was time to tell a little white lie, though Landis did not even know how much of it was the truth. "Morale amongst our ranks could not be higher, some ever so eager to test out the link between their skills and teamwork. As for equipment..." He paused, turning to look at Brian. It would not look too good if he simply said everything just like that, after all. He would seem overeager if he did so.

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OOC: I apologize for taking so long to post. I've been kinda sick, though I'm quickly on the mend now.

 

IC: Brian nodded to Commander Zenastan as he moved to take a seat. He was curious, though, about this von Crailshiem person. He seemed to be the same rank as Brian himself, though he suspected the man had gotten his rank through less tumultuous circumstances. His curiosity abandoned the man completely, however, as the Chairwoman had her refreshment brought out.

 

"What in the... Well now. Is that what I think that is?"

 

Brian found himself staring at the wine bottle, which could almost be called ancient. The thing to understand about Brian is that, as a boy growing up in Orb, he had always adhered by the law, even if he'd felt like flirting with it. Rules laid down by parents and schools were made to be broken, to somewhat modify the saying, but the law was the law. As such, he'd never had any alcohol while he lived there. And after moving to PLANT, he had immediately immersed himself in ZAFT, which frowned on its soldiers getting drunk. So the net effect was that Brian had never had alcohol of any kind, and had only a layman's understanding of the world of wine. He did, however, remember hearing that wine got better with aging, though he wasn't sure if that applied to taste or... potency. He'd have to be cautious with this stuff.

 

He followed Lieutenant von Crailsheim's lead as he toasted Chairwoman Matsuko, and took his first sip of the stuff. It was... an interesting taste, and Brian wasn't sure what to make of it. On one hand, he found it quite pleasant, but it was unlike anything else he'd ever had. There was simply little to compare with. All things considered, though, he supposed that, if questioned, he would say he liked it. Still, he would keep his consumption to a minimum. He wanted to keep his mind clear for this meeting. He couldn't help but notice the Chairwoman slip into what some called a "Thousand-Mile Stare" ((I think that's the right term)), for a second. He'd seen it quite a bit as people thought of fallen friends and loved ones. He wondered if she had lost someone in the past wars. Or if she was just considering the number of deaths as a whole, rather than just one or two people. "Well, at least it proves that something's beyond this rather polite face she's shown thus far."

 

Brian struggled to keep a straight face as Exel reported on the status of their squad, though he did succeed in this endeavor. True, Ryou and Clare got along well enough (when they weren't in a small scale brawl, though forgiveness for that seemed to have come quickly enough), and Brian thought he'd work well with Makoto and Exel himself, but there seemed to be a bit of a rift between the dynamic duo ((Clare and Ryou)) and the others. It was something that could probably be bridged with time, but they would have to see. He felt his spirits sink a little bit as Exel passed the buck to him, though at least it was only dealing with their equipment. Brian didn't think he could hold the poker face if he had to say more about the squad itself at the moment.

 

"Well, ma'am, I'm afraid to say we simply haven't seen our mobile suits yet. Most of the units we'll be assigned were due for maintenance, and since they were all being reassigned to our squad, the technicians thought they might get ahead of the game and simply overhaul the units right now. This does mean that when we do get the mobile suits, I'll think we'll find them to be good as new."

 

As he spoke, Brian felt himself relaxing a bit, and forced himself to remain in "military mode" rather than reverting to the casual persona he usually had.

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OOC - The sentence of the first paragraph of this post contains a MAJOR HINT for you guys and your squads.  No it's not a plot spoiler but it is something that each of you needs to take care of.

 

IC - "That you Commander, and that you Lieutenant.  So long as each member of your squad is qualified and prepared for the distribution of your mobile suits I don't see any problems arising.  What concerns me more is that the models that you'll be equipped with will be up to par with those of the rest of the world.  Piloting an antiquated GINN is something that only the best pilots can hope to do while facing today's more advanced mobile suits.  I would be greatly interested to hear exactly what each of you will be piloting."  Hitomi finished off the last of her wine glass as she took a moment to consider what she would say next.

 

"The safety of both you and your squad members is my utmost priority and until I've been assured that you have the very best that this nation can offer you I will not be satisfied."  With her right forefinger Hitomi stroked the neck of the glass, waiting for an answer which would please her.  After numerous years in counter intelligence she knew that her patience exceeded that of the three men in the room; she also knew that there was more than one way to get an answer out of a person, whether they wanted to give it or not.

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Christoph listened carefully to Landis and Brian’s reports about the Zenestan squad, if only the Okina squad had been as lucky as the Zenestan squad. The Okina squad had several problems with their assignment to their specific mobilesuit´s. Even right now Asahi Okina was trying to solve the problems with the mobilesuits, hence his absence.

 

“Flight lieutenant, Tsukamoto, Commander Zenestan. Its good to hear about your squad’s high morale, there is nothing that boosts a squad performance more then high morale.” Christoph nods at Brian and Landis, he adjusts the neck of his crimson red uniform, he felt the pressure of being a squad-leader as Asahi was not present.

 

Christop twirled the wine and took zip from the glass, it caressed his throat, it almost felt like liquid red silk as it passed downwards to his stomach. He gently placed the glass back on the table in front of him. He ice blue eyes focused on Hitomi, she was a very young chairwoman, but it didn’t bother Christoph after all he was quite a young himself to be sitting at the same table as the chairwoman of ZAFT. There had been quite many young soldiers in ZAFT´s military, if his memory served him right there had been a pilot as young as sixteen years of age some time ago.

 

“As for the Okina squad, our morale is at a peak and I feel like we can tackle any problem or problems that might arise. As you have noticed that the Okina squad leader, Asahi Okina, isn’t present here today because of some logistic problems with our mobilesuits. But I will do my best to answer any questions you might have chairwoman Matsuko.”

 

Christoph looked around the table and made eye contact with both Brian and Landis, he made a smooth movement with his hand along the table.

 

“And of course if you gentlemen have any questions I will do my best to answer them as well.”

 

Christoph did his best to look as an authority figure as he spoke; making sure that he was taken serious. “As for our safety chairwoman Matsuko, I entrust my life to any ZAFT mobilesuit. I believe that I can make a difference in any battle with any ZAFT mobilesuit. I would gladly pilot a GINN. If you have faith and your mind set on something, I believe that you can accomplish it.”

 

A sparkle could be seen in his eyes as he spoke warmly about ZAFT´s mobilesuits, quality and reliability.

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"If that is what you believe Lieutenant then I will believe in it, though I hope you'll ask for whatever assistance you need."  At the moment Hitomi was satisfied with the answers that each man had given, enough that the conversation could turn in a different direction.

 

"Thankfully my agenda was a simple one today and I have nothing more to ask of any of you."  Even though it had been a relatively "short" conversation Hitomi's glance at the oak grandfather clock in the room revealed that nearly an hour had passed since the first officer had arrived.  "I would like you all to feel free to ask any questions of me that you might have, whether it concerns your squad or not.  Though I may not fully answer any of the questions which you have I would still like to be as open as I can with the soldiers who protect our nation."

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Christoph noticed that Hitomi glanced over at an old clock that filled two purposes, telling the time and decoration, it was beautiful clock, at least Christoph taught so. His family owned several of these old clocks when they lived back in Eurasia. The ticking sound reminded him of old times with his family and friends, they used to sit in the living room with a fire burning in the fireplace, Christoph and his brother Fredrich.

 

Christoph smiled to himself as he remembered his brothers face in the flickering light from the fireplace, happy days that wore now gone. Fredrich always told him stories about ancient times, dragons, knights and wizards were common in those stories. As they got older the stories changed into real-life experiences like girls and other teenage problems. The last few years the teenage problems changed into rather serious discussions between his father and Fredrich about his EA MS squad with Christoph trying to keep up with the discussions.

 

Unknowingly Christoph had cracked a rather big smile when he taught about his brother and family. He soon realized that he was smiling widely, showing his white teeth to everyone around the table, Christoph continued to smile and looked Hitomi in the eyes.

 

“It’s an honor to hear that you have such faith in me.” Christoph closed his eyes and bowed his head slightly as a sign of gratitude and respect.

 

“I am sure that everyone around this table will do their best to honor you and ZAFT.” Christoph raised his head and looked Landis and Brian in the eyes. He made a fist with both his hand and but them on the table in front of him and returned his focus on Hitomi.

 

“Chairwoman Hitomi, is there a specific reason that the Zenestan and Okina squads are present at this table. I must admit I am a bit curious that why we have the honor to be invited to your estate.”

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OOC: hehe, sorry for taking so long. I've been procrastinating

 

IC: It's an honor. No wait, It "is" an honor. Yeah, thats kinda better.

 

Asahi couldn't explain it himself. He was nothing short of jittery. But it was only a head meeting, with the other squad leader of his division, and the chairwoman of PLANT. Why he was jittery? Maybe because he was late, and that this was one high risk meeting. Asahi admitted, even to others, that he wasn't the kind to meddle with the brass. Top that with the fact he was late (presently, he was seated in the back seat of a taxi), would not mix to make a good presentation of himself. Placing orders of mobile suits for his team members did not seem such a daunting task, but Asahi found out, that the process was long winded and troublesome for the one applying. Such was that, that it was because of the MS orders that he was late for the meeting.

He had no time to observe the simplicity and grace of the PLANT city. Actually, that was a lie. Several years ago, Asahi's relationship with a girl ended abruptly and unsympathetically. She lived in Januarius City, and was also where she had expressed her distaste for him. It brought back painful, as well as sentimental memories. He tried not to recall where she lived, the mess of villas, mansions and palaces helped him forget, let alone identify. Rather, he returned to his hectic thoughts, as the taxi continued onwards to the residence of Chairwoman Matsuko.

 

Okay, lets just ditch all that "honor" crap. Just say what comes to mind. But that still has to be formal. And you should say you're sorry. Don't forget that.

 

As the white and yellow taxi pulled up to the intimidating gates of the residence, Asahi pulled on his red ZAFT uniform, fastening the buttons and tightening the collar. The taxi driver turned around in his seat and stated clearly the price of the ride. Asahi frowned slightly, he had not expected the trip to cost too much, but obliged and paid the driver appropriately. Stepping out of the car, Asahi couldn't help estimating how late he was, how much he had missed, and how much of a bad impression he had made. Regardless who he was meeting, Asahi assumed that any person of state was strict, vindictive and extremely ignorant. Hopefully, the Chairwoman wasn't this, but he dwelt no longer on the thoughts, pressing the intercom on the behemoth gates. As he expected, a female voice answered, and after he had identified himself, was admitted. He walked, rather than ran to the front door, as that would have been quite suspicious to the guards, who were both posted, flanking the doorway. Asahi took the opportunity to flatten out the creases in his uniform, and re-arrange his hair. Stepping onto the raised doorway, the door slowly opened before him, and (Asahi assumed) the maid who had answered him at the intercom, appeared behind the door.

 

"Welcome. Please come in." the maid said expectedly. Asahi walked in non-chalantly, and turned around to thank the maid.

"Why thank-" he was cut off abruptly.

"Are you always late for things like this?" she snapped at Asahi; he was taken aback. He looked in her eyes, and was promptly shot with the barbs of her anger.

From the entrance to where he was being taken, the maid expressed herself; how each of the other guests had came one by one rather than together, and how many times she had to escort them to the Chairwoman's room, not to mention how long it took to go from the front door to that specific tea room. Asahi would've laughed and sympathized with her, if it weren't for the formality of the situation, and his own nervousness. He could only nod and agree mindlessly to her words, as she spoke through gritted teeth.

 

"Ms Matsuko is in there." were her parting words to Asahi, as they came to an impressive oak door. As the maid left disgruntled, Asahi prepared himself. Atmospheric re-entry seemed like child's play compared to a formal meeting with the Chairwoman of PLANT. He knocked on the door. One, two, three. And grasped the handle, opening the door. In the instant before he apologized to the company present, he noticed that the four (Two officers, Christoph, and the Chairwoman herself) were seated at a table, most of them swirling glasses of wine, whilst an assistant of some sort stood staunchly behind the Chairwoman. Regardless of the wine in their hands, Asahi reported (more than apologized),

"Squadron Leader, Asahi Okina." Asahi stiffened and saluted like a professional

"I am terribly sorry for my tardiness. I was completing some tasks assigned to me, resulting in my lateness. I hope you will excuse me."

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Hitomi gestured to one of the remaining open chairs as she beckoned Captain Okina to sit.  "Please be seated and make yourself comfortable Captain, I believe that your service to this nation more than justifies your lateness."  Hitomi shifted in her chair and something deep inside of her screamed to get up and to walk around but that emotion was ignored before it became anything more than a passing whim.

 

"If you don't mind Captain," Hitomi said as a servant poured Asahi a glass of wine "would you mind telling me a little bit about your squad?  I'm interested in knowing how their morale is and if they're qualified to pilot the machines they're being provided, and as long as you're talking about your pilots I hope you'll be able to tell me what type of mobile suits you'll be using."

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"Thank you ma'am." Asahi said abruptly, and took the seat as indicated by the chairwoman.

He would've exhaled in relief, but it just wasn't the time. Drawing the chair out, and taking the seat, Asahi eye's went wide for an instant, as he had realized that he had forgotten his squad roster folder. He then scanned the faces at the table if they had noticed his faux pax. Even so, he wouldn't have caught them if they looked away. Not that he was in any position to catch anyone and do something about it anyway.

On one part, he was internally relieved that she had excused him, but on the other, he was doubtful anyone missed the fact he had forgotten his folder. Sweat slowly began to accumulate on his temple. Asahi noticed the servant of sorts, who was standing behind the Chairwoman, had moved to Asahi, placed a wineglass on the table, and began to pour the rich red wine. Whilst the aide did so, the Chairwoman asked a question, directed at Asahi. She asked specifically, about the morale, if they had  the qualifications and what he would arm them with. This however, was not too hard a question. Asahi had already entirely familiarized himself with his squad, their quirks, personalities and his intended role for them in the entirety of the team. It was their "morale" that was questionable.

"Ma'am, I hate to say it. They're morale is fine, but it is nowhere near zeal. I'm sorry, but I can't add anymore to that ma'am; that's as far as I know concerning their morale and whatnot."

He jogged his memory in regards to the mobile suit assignment however, it didn't come naturally. Asahi was still unsure on some team members and their suits.

"On the case of the mobile suits, to tell you the truth, I am not entirely complete on mobile suit assignment. As long as they receive their licensing, I will have no problem in finishing the armament of my team. However, I will have to contact you on a later date of the specifics, once i've finalized everything" At that, Asahi scratched the back of his neck and placed his hands atop one another on the table surface, the polish underneath glass smooth.

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IC - Hitomi repressed her desire to berate Captain Asahi, it was plainly obvious that he had not prepared himself for this meeting.  Hitomi restrained herself only out of a common regard that stated that no one should ever be berated in the presence of others, but Hitomi did make a note of the Captain's lack of preparation.

 

"Thank you Captain."  Hitomi gave a brief nod to a servant who promptly collected the glasses that she and her guests had been using and whisked them off to a kitchen hidden somewhere in the house.  "I'd like to now move onto a slightly more pressing topic, though not one that you yourselves need to fret over."  As she finished the cue sentence the lights in the room dimmed slightly and a lit screen appeared behind Hitomi.  The screen brought up combat images from the first of the Bloody Valentine Wars.  Most of it was file footage that had not been released to the public and Hitomi watched as GINNs and Gu AIZ mobile suits engaged AF Daggers in mortal combat.  Some of the clips showed GINNs tearing through the armor of the Earth's Daggers and others showed that the GINNs, though piloted by naturals, were just as deadly as their ZAFT counterparts as they rained down many ugly deaths throughout the battlefield.

 

"Gentlemen, what I would like is for you to finish equipping your squads and report to Armory One for space maneuvers which will simulate a terrorist attack on Armory One.  This operation will pit Zenastan Tai against Okina Tai and will begin in two standard weeks, I suggest that you use the time between now and then to make whatever preparations you need.  One of your squads will be acting as a terrorist unit and the other will be Armory One's defenders but until your arrival at Armory One neither squad shall be informed as to what role they will be playing so I suggest that you prepare for either eventuality.  This will not be a live fire exercise but short of actually shooting rounds at the opposing you may engage each other in anyway you see fit, your MS standard melee weapons will be replaced with training weapons so that you can engage each other using your full arsenal."  Hitomi signaled again and the lights came up as the screen went blank.

 

"After having two wars that both began with terrorist attacks on our home nation I believe that it is time that the soldiers of ZAFT began to prepare for incidents of this nature.  If you have any questions I am willing to entertain them so long as they are asked one at a time, if not then you are dismissed."  Hitomi smiled before putting the icing on the cake.  "After all, you have a lot of work to do."

 

OOC - Though I haven't discussed this maneuver with anyone it IS non-militaristic and non-confrontational, the basic point of it is to give you and your squads some immediate MS action, so that you're all used to functioning together in a "combat" situation; yes, we're actually doing some real training like a real military would... minus the risk of anything bad happening in real life.  This is to also encourage MS Pilot License registration among you and your squads since Pilot Licenses will be required to participate in this since we'll actually be using MS, though it isn't a real battle.

 

I believe that I've budgeted enough time between this post and the beginning of the training exercise so that everyone who needs to can apply for a license and have a Coliseum battle if they need to but please correct me if any problems occur.  I'd also like feedback on my idea but only through the form of PMs, this way the thread won't be riddled with multiple OOC comments.

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There it was. the nightmarish images from the video shown on the screen embodied the very same wicked dreams that plagued his mind whenever he went to bed while he had barely earned the right to be called a teenager. Each and every time, images from the boldest journalists who had opted to bring live coverage on the war to the public in PLANT would taunt him and remind him of the loss, and his imagination would run wild: Which machine was it that was responsible for Evran's death? Was it the huge, dark monster that looked as though it was summoned from the abyssal pits of hell, or was it the barely noticeable bluish white mobile suit which had snuck in a shot from behind?

 

Landis had grown, of course, to know that these were but figments of his own imagination-A video that would only replay itself in his head if he did not shake free of its vice-like grip on his mental state. It had mellowed, of course, but they were still there, and threatened to resurface and show all over his face as his eyes remained glued to to screen.

 

Still, despite feeling a little moisture seeping into his palms, Landis' face was the perfect example of impassiveness, being so stoic that he would not have blamed anyone who thought him cold-blooded at showing practically zero reaction to some of the horrific pictures shown, though his heart wept slightly at the thought of innocents being slaughtered then.

 

There was most certainly a purpose in showing them the grim pictures, though, and Landis knew it. One could never be too cautious after two great wars, for even if the video was meant primarily for propaganda, Landis knew all too well that not even the tiniest and most innocent toddler would be spared fully from the effects of the war, be it inflation in the economy, the loss of a parent or relative or the destruction of a home.

 

With the words coming out of Chairwoman Hitomi's mouth, Landis suspicions were confirmed. This was probably the true purpose in which she had gathered the respective commanders for the new squadrons here. It was going to be a test that will push his patience, unidentified commanding abilities and his confidence to the limit. The other commanders were probably no better off than he was, and Landis could only find comfort in the fact that at least his skills with mobile suits and his composure would be the last thing to fail him in the face of combat.

 

The last comment from the new Chairwoman struck a chord with him. How quaint....This would seem as though she was training us all for a new war under the guise of training to be an anti-terrorist unit.... Political trappings were not his thing, though, and the thought lasted but for mere seconds before dissipating and turned to other practical thoughts.

 

Equipping our squads, huh... He thought back on the uncertainties of his squad and was truly for the first time concerned about making preparations. How was he going to handle a squad that hardly cheered at the thought of teamwork at the drop of a needle?

 

Landis shifted and straightened slightly in his position as an indication that he would like to pose a query first. As he spoke, he articulated his words clearly so that his minute audience would understand and hear him well. "Ma'am, this might be a stupid question, but will there be any restrictions on our selection of mobile suits and their respectively exclusive weaponry, or will everything regarding this be only made known to us on the day itself?"

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Hitomi decided to carefully choose her words now, especially considering that after the video and everything else she had said the memory of the last two terrorist attacks that had started two of the most horrid wars in the memory of mankind would be fresh in the minds of these commanders.

 

"Yes, there are restrictions on they types of mobile suits you may choose from, but those are the standard restrictions that are already in place due to the treaty which currently exists between all of the world's nations.  Aside from that all I will disclose to you right now is that we will not be running any simulated nuclear attacks, especially since there are few mobile suits and pilots in the history of the world who were ever able to stop one."  Her vague reference to Freedom and Justice had the possibility of being lost on those who were so young at the time of the attacks on the PLANTS but even still Hitomi was always thankful for the sacrifices that those pilots had made for the sake of peace.

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Brian watched the video played by the Chairwoman with a very morbid interest. On one hand, he had never seen such combat on film before, and he realized that if he were to watch it with an eye on the mobile suits, he might pick up some good piloting ideas. Such analysis was next to impossible at the moment, however, because of the gruesome nature of the combat. This was no training video; it was live combat between two armies where the majority of the forces fielded had only one objective: the complete destruction of all enemy military personnel and civilian populations. The pilots were out for blood, having been manipulated by national leaders and political movements behind the scenes during the years and months leading up to these fateful battles. Even simply watching video footage of the battles, he could almost feel the hatred coming from those men. It creeped him out, and not just a little bit. He had always assumed there would be another war, and had not hoped one way or another, simply accepting that as inevitable. Now, he found himself actively wishing against it.

 

The words of the Chairwoman, however, set him more at ease. She had realized the same thing he had: that both wars had started as a result of EA aggression and supported attacks by small EA-supported nuclear equipped forces. He imagined that most people knew this in the back of their minds, but it was good to hear the Chairwoman not only acknowledge the fact, but hear that she was moving to act on this knowledge. She really was on top of keeping ZAFT an effective defense force, and that was all Brian could ask for.

 

However, there was really little else that Brian could add to the discussion. Commander Zenastan had asked about MS and weapon selection, and that pretty much covered the only thing Brian felt he needed to know. He was curious about a few things, such as which team would play which side, but she had already stated that they wouldn't be told this until the time of the battle, which meant that Brian and his Commander would have to consider an odd viewpoint: how to successfully conduct a terrorist operation against the Armory One PLANTs. Of course, they also had to consider the opposite viewpoint, so it would mean some interesting tactical discussions. The squadron was also a concern, given its rather... unique membership, but Brian hoped that things would work out in training and on the battlefield. Even Brian was more cooperative in those environments, so he imagined the others would be, too. At least, he hoped so.

 

As he began thinking about assault tactics, he realized that he did, in fact, have one question to ask.

 

"Excuse me, but I'd like to ask what the ultimate objective for the mock terrorist force is going to be. We can't really plan an assault for this wargame unless we have a definitive target in mind."

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Hitomi nodded as she listened to the young man's question, which managed to reveal a seemingly large hole in her briefing, however she had avoided that topic for a reason.

 

"I can only disclose so much to you but I will say this.  The "terrorist's" objective will be to completely destroy Armory One at whatever cost to themselves.  As we have encountered such groups in the past whoever will play the role of the terrorists will be a group of etremists willing to give up their lives, if need be, in order to accomplish their goals.  As a simulated group of terrorists they will have no resrictions whatsoever placed upon them so that they may function as a terrorist  group does, without remorse and with only its goal in mind."  Hitomi was doing her best to drive home the reality of the groups that ZAFT had faced in the past and those that they would likely face in the future.  These were men and women who were so warpped in their thinking that no cost was too high and they would sooner die than see their mission fail.

 

"As you can probably guess the objective of the defending force will be to counter the small terrorist threat.  Unlike the terrorists this group will have to play by the rules of war and act as free thinking ZAFT pilots should.  This operation should be of great benefit to both teams even though you are newly formed units.  The eyes of our entire nation will be upon you during this operation and I myself will be the one to debreif you."  Hitomi was silent after that, deciding that it would be best to allow the reality of this operation sink in rather than trying to drive it into their heads any more.

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Janus sat in the back of the limo as it came to a sudden halt. Two men wearing suits now sat across him looking him up and down. Sunglasses and masks were basically the same in a situation like this. What is going on, I figured I would be that Major General’s adjuant for some time. Now I am whisked on a new assignment to Januarius and these guys are waiting for me. Janus was woken from his thoughts by one of the gentlemen, “Pilot Trine, understand that anything you learned while on assignment in the Special Forces is strictly confidential and that should you speak about privileged information…” Janus felt the need to interrupt, “I will be punished according to Sections 5, 8, 13, 16, and 17 of the general military code. I have read the brief. Now, since I know you fine gentlemen did not have me sent all the way down here for you to just tell me that why don’t you tell me what Lieutenant Wulf sent you here to do?”

 

“Our orders are coming from the PLANT chairwoman, Hitomi Matsuko, although Commander Wulf’s report on your time with him was used in making this decision.” The man pulled out a small box from his jacket and handed it to Janus.

 

Janus was perplexed until he actually opened the box. Janus was shocked at the pin that was now in front of him. “Isn’t this a pin given to members of the Chairwoman’s guard, formally known as the Primerial Guard?”

 

“That is correct, Mr. Trine. It was decided, with your talents and your distain for certain aspects of covert operations, that this would be the best use of your skills.” Janus was already pinning the pin to his uniform. “I’m game. When do I begin?” Janus knew he should stop asking questions that he already knew the answers to, it most likely would be today.

 

“This is your assignment,” the car came to a sudden stop. The two men stepped out of the car, leaving a dossier on the seat, obviously for Janus. Reaching to pick it up Janus was jolted by the start of the car. Everything a bodyguard needs to know. The guard is made up of elements ranging from mobile suit pilots to police. And it appears they gave me a little present under my seat.

 

Janus was half afraid that he would grabbing a bomb, but, fortunately, it was Walther P99. Oh, they shouldn’t have, I didn’t think that many of these still existed…Janus was somewhat happy that his weapons license had finally been reinstated, now he was just hoping that problem with his MSPL would be cleared up.

 

Holstering the weapon as he left the limo Janus took a second to look around at the mansion. It was quite impressive. A couple of aides met him at the door and immediately started walking him through what appeared a maze of hallways. Janus made a note to himself mentally to get a set of plans and study them thoroughly.

 

Finally, Janus was brought to a set of large oak doors and pointed inside. One of the aides spoke up, “Sir, even though you are part of the Chairwoman’s guard, could you please leave your sidearm here for the meeting.” Janus was shocked no one to this point had asked for his sidearm and gladly relinquished it.  Walking through the doors Janus saluted the officers. “Excuse me for interrupting, but Primerial Guard Janus Trine reporting for duty Miss Chairwoman.”

Edited by Guest

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Hitomi gave Janus a warm smile as he walked through the door and for the salute she gave him a nod of the head.

 

"Welcome Janus, please take a seat."  Of course Hitomi had arranged Janus' induction into the Primerial Guard, she'd dictated the way he was to be brought into the guard, and she had also planned the timing of his arrival... almost down to the minute.  She'd planned this so that she would no longer have to worry even in the company of her own soldiers and politicians and so that she could move about the country more freely with a small unit dedicated wholly to protecting her and keeping her alive.  Of course Janus wasn't the only member of this guard, for the moment he was just the face of it.

 

"I hope you don't mind Janus but I was just wrapping up a meeting with the commanders of two of our newest mobile suit squads.  I'd like to speak to you as well, but I'm afraid that it will be a few minutes before I can"  Turning back to her commanders Hitomi examined them once more.  "Unless you have any further questions for me gentlemen you may leave according to your own timing."

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“Thank you,” Janus walked and sat down at a chair. He quickly surveyed the people  at the meeting, but only recognized Commander Zenastan, and that was more because his squad had a few former classmates of his. Not that he knew them well but their “rivalry” at the academy was fairly famous.  Janus adjusted his mask slightly and was fairly content to wait and let the meeting play out. He was interested at the serious faces everyone had. Must be a new mission getting set up. Janus had a faint impression that his late arrival to this meeting was no coincidence. What little he knew about the chairwoman made him believe that nothing she did was not some part of a chess game, and that for now, he was just a pawn for this.

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      IC: Michael was on his knees hunched over at the foot of the Januarius City Memento Stone. The memento stones were statues made by Michael’s father at the end of the Bloody Valentine War to honor the sacrifices of those who lost their lives and for virtues that Coordinators and mankind must learn to live by.  One was in each PLANT.
       
      The Januarius City memento stone held special meaning to Michael, and within a few moments his tears were falling onto the dozen roses left at its base. The Januarius City Memento Stone was “The Guardian”, and it was a statue of Michael’s mother, who died in the first war. Michael nearly broke the mask that he was now holding in his lap as more and more tears fell. Finally Michael was able to look at the twilight sky.
       
      Michael was filled with memories of the last time he was here a few years ago. When he finally stood up to his father and made the decision to join ZAFT. He was a stubborn man, who had tried to control Janus’s life. “Why mom, why did you leave me with him, and why did you die to protect other people.” Janus couldn’t even muster the energy at the time to scream. More and more tears fell till Michael just hit the ground with his right fist.
       
      After a few moments Michael stood up facing the statue. Putting his mask back on Janus turned and began to slowly walk away from the memento stone. His covered eyes were still showing the signs of his anger and his doubt. This is the right thing to do, I am walking the only path available to me right now. I'll defeat every enemy until I find the answers I want.
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