Order was definately not happy, and it showed. He had one look on his face and it was a glare, He sighed deeply.
"Lena, get them both to the infirmiry, if all they want is me then they will get me. Of course I will put up a fight but I can't say that I will win. So Mere if Im just out for a few days with broken ligaments then you are the temporary commander, If im iced, we'll let the IF decide."
(argh! Well, I guess I'm back just in time to see the end) Aryl quietly observed. She knew that Mere was right, but she didn't say anything. Arteman, on the other hand, wasn't so quiet. "Order, this is stupid,don't risk everything over this!"
Eric arrived in the mess with the bulk of Phoenix army ahead of him. As he walked, he mulled over how much this army had confounded him, how it had such a mix of discipline and causality. It seemed that every soldier knew his place and his job, getting up and organized together, yet when it came time for mess there was no formality of unity here. He expected the army to form into columns and march to the mess as a single unit, as a show of strength and solidarity. Why, the way these soldiers carried on back there, you would have thought it needn't even had to be asked of them; that they would do it by themselves. It was not the kind of discipline he was used to. He felt as though he were going to meal like a launchie, but he wasn't a launchie, he was supposedly a part of an army. That he didn't see other armies go to meals in formation didn't enter his mind, he just expected things to be different when he was made a part of the army.
The whole situation was confusing. Some mysterious clandestine program or disk or something, Our commander's personal vendetta against an entire army, the willingness that the others had to follow his lead into a blood bath and his lust for blood disturbed him. He did not like this whole mess he had gotten himself into. For he had not just acquired a new army that would impose it's own demands on him, he had entered into a conflict that he has no interest or concern in, save for his life!
Sitting by himself at the end of a table, at the end of the mess hall as usual, Ronwe evaluated his tactical options. I am newly attached to a tight band of people at war with another equal sized force. It seems that only one army is our enemy at this time, the others are simply neutrals or passing aggressors. If we act as a united force, with more discipline than our enemy, we should win the battle. But we are not a united force, and I fear that our power is inferior to our opponent. The fact that they have captured a key interest proves that they have the upper hand, and that we should not attack if we can help it. But then there are other problems. There is just myself and one other kid who do not endorse this strategy, and dissuading the others from such an attack is very unlikely.
So if the attack will not be stopped, we need to change the circumstances. With two people dissenting here, we do not have a unified, determined army, and so are vulnerable to being overwhelmed. I will do my best to defend the army, but I know no soldier will perform well if his heart isn't into the task at hand.
What we need are reinforcements. The old saying "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is still as true as ever. But I just got here, I don't know who hates who outside of our own army. We need to find out who dislikes this Griffin army as much as we do, and try to form an alliance. If nobody dislikes Griffin as much as us, we will have to influence them otherwise. But most important, I need to find a way to keep the command staff on top of things so that this doesn't get out of hand and somebody gets hurt. That notion brought forth the image from a short while ago, with Emory's arm covered in blood. The thought only sharpened his resolve to find a less dangerous way to end this situation.
Ronwe decided he didn't have enough information to make a decision yet, and so he knew the first order of business was to find out all he could about his new enemy.
Eric had taken quite a while to eat breakfast this morning, caught up in his thoughts about his commander the way he was. And he was surprised when he looked up at the clock and saw that mess hour was nearly up. In spite of his weariness, he couldn't permit himself to slack off and miss his next course. He prided his punctuality, and hurried to bring the plates back and dash off towards his barracks.
Toby looked around as he and Cole entered the mess. As usual, it was filling up fast, but he couldn’t see any other members of the launch anywhere yet. He supposed he shouldn’t be all that surprised since they had been the first up apart from Ryan, and he had had to go get dressed first, but looking out for other members of the launch was just one of his natural reactions now. It wasn’t that the older kids went out of their way to cause launchies hassle, and their launch hadn’t been involved in any too-major trouble for a while, but still, he always liked to know where his friends were, just in case either he or they did need a hand.
Passing by a table of Tide soldiers on their way to the short queue reminded him of the news he had discussed briefly with Sara the before lights out.
“Did you see those two Ravens turn up on the disciplinary lists last night?” he asked Cole in a low voice. “Want to bet it was something to do with them?”
"Yeah, probably." Cole said as he moved over to the other side of Toby so that he was blocked from the Raven soldiers view. "That big one was the one who chased me around the school the other day. Just because I told him he looked more like a bulldog on a leash rather than one of the elite soldiers of Battle School." He shrugged his shoulders. "But you see my point though neh? How can someone that thick have actually made it up here? I know you cheated your way through, but he's not even smart enough to do that!"
Cole grabbed a handful of dried banana chips from the counter and got his hand smacked by the gruff looking woman behind.
David got in line for whatever they had planned for them to eat today. He could see a few other people from his launch right infront of him. The line slowly progressed and adventually he made it to the counter, where they put some fruits and a bowl of oat meal on his tray. He got out of line and looked around for the table where the others had sat down.
Toby shook his head as Cole helped himself to a handful of dried fruit.
“Bulldog on a leash? Are you trying to get yourself killed before you make it to an army? And even if you’re lucky and you do make it, you do realise you’re going to have to end up working with some of these guys?” He nodded in the general direction of the tables. Then he grinned. “Even if they do have the brains of a fart.”
David suddenly appeared walking past him with a tray. Where did he come from? He hadn’t seen him come in. Now where were they going to sit? He noticed a pair of Serpents rise from their places and head towards the door.
“Hey, David! Over there. Table on the right. Grab it, quick!”
Cole looked around at David, noticing him for the first time after Toby called out to him. He saw a few other Launchies from their group enter the mess in ones and twos, some still looking half asleep and continued to pile his tray up with an enormous amount of food as was usual.
Stuffing his mouth full, he asked Toby, "Hey, wanna have some fun?" Cole pointed towards a new bunch of Launchies that had just arrived at Battle School.
Flip sat down at the table and started work on his breakfast. He could see Pierre trying to make it look like he wasn’t looking at him, plainly wondering if he had had a chance to speak to Andy yet about training. Flip finished swallowed his mouthful of food, looked up at him and nodded. He had managed to grab a word with Andy en route to the mess and his toon leader had been quite happy for them to work on the problem. Anything to make the toon stronger, and he had been well aware of the incident himself. Pierre didn’t acknowledge his nod, but looked relieved, although he immediately adopted what he evidently thought was a neutral expression again in an effort to hide it. Trey then jabbed him in the ribs and started laughing about something, and Flip returned to his breakfast.
All in all, they weren’t too bad, he supposed. At least, definitely not the worst aspect of being in Raven Army. Their constant questions about tactics in the battle room could be annoying, but they did at least put the effort in. The whole toon had really, and that was down to Andy. Whatever he thought about the whole idea of naming him as ‘chief coach,’ Andy had turned out to be a good toon leader. Possibly the best Flip had served under so far. Easy-going but firm, and scrupulously fair, he had quickly gained his toon’s respect. And when he had made it clear that while he would be fairly relaxed about what they did outside the battle room, within reason, of course, once inside he expected nothing but hard work and commitment, that was what he had got.
In some ways, it was almost enough to make him want to remain in Raven. However, when balanced against the irritant of certain people not leaving him alone, and the training role, it wasn’t quite enough. But that wasn’t important. Whatever Shell had said, his six months were up; it couldn’t be long now. What was more important this minute was devising some exercises to take into account Trey and Pierre’s request in their next practice session. Of course, he had most of the day in which to come up with something, but he didn’t know how much time the battleship visit was going to take up, or how interesting it would turn out to be.
David grabbed a seat next to toby and said, "Ho Toby." He then set his tray down and started to eat the food on his tray. He ate at a moderate pace so as to not hurt himself, but at a pace fast enough that he looked like he might be in a rush. The truth was the food just wasn't that great to him so he liked to just get it over with.
David spotted the table and they all slipped into position, Cole, as usual, shovelling the food down his throat almost before he had finished sitting down.
“Ho, David,” he said, starting on his own breakfast.
"Hey, wanna have some fun?"
Toby looked at Cole and saw him pointing towards a group of younger launchies, evidently part of the new intake. Knowing Cole, this ‘fun’ was only going to be so for one group of people.
“Cole, I don’t know,” he said. “Think of all that stuff that happened to us when we first came up. Wouldn’t you rather none of it had happened, and people been nicer. Well, most of the stuff anyway.”
If none of it had happened he would still be in launch 3790 instead. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t have enjoyed himself there; just that he did generally enjoy being a member of 1551 and even if he had enjoyed 3790, it couldn’t have been in the same way.
“Well there’s a surprise,” said Shaun suddenly, sliding in next to Cole. “Six months in and still a whining baby.”
Toby stiffened in his seat, hand halfway to his mouth. He was not a whining baby. Or was he? No. Just because he believed in being nice to people and treating them with respect didn’t make him a whining baby. Although, when he thought about it, he did spend a lot of time objecting to silly little plans like whatever Cole was thinking up this time. But that wasn’t his fault either. Well not entirely anyway.
“Use your head and think about it for a minute,” continued Shaun. “Why do you think all that stuff happened to us when we first came up? It’s because the teachers let it go on. It’s about putting us in our place, letting us know where we stand - right at the bottom. The only way to work your way up through the pecking order is to put other people below you. Unless you want to be sat on the rest of your life.”
“They don’t let everything go, though, do they? At least Jackson doesn’t, does he?”
Shaun scowled. “Once. And that was part of the training too. He was showing that there’s no good always meeting everything head on; we’ve got to be smart too. Although in some cases there’s really no need to make the effort.”
No it was Toby’s turn to scowl. “Yeah, well your face at the time didn’t look like you were in a lesson. It didn’t sound like it either.”
“It wouldn’t have been as good a lesson if he’d been polite, would it? Anyway, let’s hear about how we’re gonna have some fun,” he said to Cole. “I’m sure the rest of us are interested in enjoying ourselves, even if that wet blanket over there isn’t.”
“I am not a wet blanket,” said Toby. “I can have fun.”
“What about the itching powder? I helped with that. And the…and the…and the other ones as well.” He must have helped out in other pranks too; there had been enough of them. He could certainly remember being on the receiving end of more than a few. Launchy-baiting was like a recognised sport up here sometimes, almost as popular as the battles. He noticed Shaun smiling at him smugly, and the words pecking order repeated themselves in his mind, closely followed by launchy-baiting again. He slammed his fork down on his plate.
“What’s your idea then,” he said to Cole. “I suppose I can listen at least.”
Shaun continued to smile at him. Yes, he must have been involved in other pranks before. Or else he was getting the strongest feelings of déjà vu he had ever had in his life.
Laughing at Toby at the ease in which Shaun bated him, Cole shovelled more food into his mouth. Content with ignoring Shaun, he watched as Ryan entered the mess and helped himself to a small amount of breakfast then made his way over to the table they were sat at. Shaun turned the conversation back to Cole asking him about his plans to have some fun at the new arrivals expense.
“No plans Shaun.” He said with a smile. “I don’t believe we were talking to you anyway, but you’re welcome to start some on your own if you want though. Don’t let us stop you.”
Turning to David, Cole winked at him ensuring he got the message to play along. “What were you saying before about Nava and a carrot David? Something about her walking funny?” Cole knew that Nava and Shaun were sort of buddies and spent some time together, mainly sneering at the others as though they thought themselves too good for them.
Shaun looked at Cole in confusion for a moment before deciding that he probably wasn’t implying anything nice and switching back to a scowl.
“No plans?” said Toby. “No, you must have. I saw you looking at those launchies when you asked about having some fun. You were definitely thinking about something.”
“See,” said Shaun. “Now you’ve gone and got him all excited just for him to find out you were winding him up.”
He glanced around and noticed a pair of Raven soldiers just receiving their food. An idea forming in his mind, he turned back to the table and smiled.
“Tell you what, Toby. Just cos I know how much you were looking forward to proving how much of a whining baby you aren’t, and because I don’t want you to feel disappointed, if Cole doesn’t want to share his plan with us, we can go with one of mine instead.”
Cole turned back away from David and shot Toby a scathing look as if to say are you completely stupid? "How thick are you Shaun? Do we need to spell it out for you? WE. DON'T. LIKE. YOU."
"I get the feeling he doesn't like you much either Cole,” Ryan said as he sat down opposite him. "Not that I really blame him."
"What crawled up your butt this morning?" Cole retorted. "You're always in such a bad mood all the time and taking it out on the rest of us! You need to get over yourself and forget that Nava won the Launch Leader thing! Who gives a toss anyway? I don't see her lording it over you or any of us."
Cole shut his mouth at Ryan's expression. For once his commonsense prevailed and he looked down at his food, suddenly not hungry anymore.
Toby sat stunned as everything blew up before him. What made it worse was that he didn’t really know who to side with. Sure, he kind of agreed with Cole to an extent about Shaun, especially when he kept calling him a ‘whining baby,’ but he had also just been about to ask him what he had in mind. Would that have been so wrong?
And what was that look all about that Cole had given him, as if he was to blame for the whole argument? It wasn’t…well, actually, maybe it was, since it had been his reluctance to go ahead with whatever Cole had in mind that had started the whole thing, but it’s not as if he had planned it all. Shaun had just happened to be sitting down and was interested. Was it his fault that Cole was so touchy about him getting involved? No, of course not. So technically, he should be shouting at Cole now, or maybe Shaun. Or perhaps both. He should definitely be shouting anyway. Only the exchange between Ryan and Cole had taken away the opportunity. The next one to say something antagonistic would definitely be the one to blame, and looking round at everybody concentrating on not looking at each other, he got the feeling they were sharing similar thoughts.
He ate another mouthful of food, looked at everybody again, and sighed to himself. Gone. The atmosphere was killed completely. Some practice this was going to turn out to be with everybody probably acting all awkward towards each other. It needed someone to lighten the mood; probably him. Only he couldn’t think of any way of doing it. No jokes; no light-hearted comments he couldn’t be sure wouldn’t be taken the wrong way; nothing. And still nobody else was speaking. Even Shaun was taking great pains not to even do anything that might spark things off again.
Two raven soldiers appeared a short distance away, walking between the rows of tables with their breakfasts, heading towards the rest of their army. An idea popped into Toby’s head. It wasn’t a very good one and, for him, it would be quite radical, but that might not be such a bad thing, given what he was trying to achieve. He wouldn’t exactly lighten the mood, but he would definitely change the atmosphere one way or another. Best case scenario would end up with everyone together shouting at the same person. Worst case scenario…worst case scenario was probably the infirmary…hopefully.
He took a couple of steps forward then stopped in front of the Raven soldiers.
“Shift it, launchie,” said one, glaring at him.
Toby ignored the threat, and the feeling of his stomach turning over, and smiled at them.
“Sorry,” he said. “Can I just ask you both a question?”
“You not hear what I said?”
The first Raven glared even harder and opened his mouth to speak, but the second one stopped him.
“Easy, Argi. Kid only wants to ask something. Not like he’s bein’ rude about it.”
Toby took a deep breath.
“Thanks. Er, we were just all arguing.” He motioned round to the rest of the launch at the table behind him. “Fighting more like, I suppose, and we wanted to know if you could settle it for us.”
The second Raven grinned. “Ain’t that what you’ve got a Launch Mom for?”
Toby grinned back. “He’s not here, but you are. See, he….” He pointed at Shaun. “He thought that you were the ugliest kid he ever saw. Uglier than a mutant pig that's been hit with an ugly stick. But he….” He pointed at Cole then to the first Raven soldier. “Thought that you were uglier, and that's what started the fight. They both agree you’re both only slightly more intelligent than mutant pigs though.”
Toby paused for a minute as the second Raven’s expression changed from a humouring grin to a look of anger then started again. Strangely, he found he was actually enjoying the thrill of talking to two older, army members like this while everybody sat at the nearby tables looked on in astonishment.
“I disagree though. Like them….” He pointed to Ryan and David. Might as well level the playing field. Put them all in it together. “I think pigs are probably more intelligent. And since pigs eat all their food off the floor….”
He took a step forward and tilted up both Ravens’ trays so that their breakfasts tipped down their fronts to the floor. He then stepped away quickly and turned back towards the others as a pair of enraged cries erupted behind him. From the other direction, he saw a number of Raven soldiers rising to their feet.
Ryan opened his mouth in reply to Cole, but his attention was drawn to Toby as he stepped up to two Raven soldiers making their way through to the table close to theirs. His mouth hung open as Toby launched into what started as an innocent enough question, but then turned into backhanded insults aimed directly at the Raven soldiers. Ryan quickly looked at the other launchies gathered around the table to see equally shocked expressions plastered on their faces. What had gotten into Toby? What was he thinking? He knew this could only end badly for all of them, and with their track record between them and Raven army Toby would need his launch to back him up. But what he thought they could do with... what, at least five Raven soldiers riled up ready for a fight? Not much.
"'Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.'" Cole muttered under his breath just audible enough for Ryan to hear. "He's got a couple a big ones me thinks." Cole stood, looking up at the towering soldiers as Toby finished his tirade and tipped food platters over them.
"Do you think we should run now?" Toby asked.
"Yeah." Ryan replied. "I think that would be a good idea."
"Breakfasts over David. Time to leave in one hell of a hurry." Cole moved out of reach of the closest Raven soldier and grabbed David by the collar and yanked him up. Pushing his chair back it skidded along the metal floor with a high pitched squeal causing a few of the nearer soldiers and new launchies to look over and point. The closest of them started sniggering at the impending slaughter of the now infamous group. In his hurry to move away from the Raven soldiers, Cole caught his foot in one of the legs of the table and tripped, sending him and David sprawling to the floor and knocking the table just enough to set food sliding off along with them. Recovering quickly, he sprang back up, but not quickly enough to get away from Argi who grappled with him and spun him around to hold him with one arm pinned behind his back and his head held painfully backwards into Argi's chest.
Ryan made a move to help, but was stopped short by the other Raven who moved in front of him, blocking his way and only means of escape. Looking at the boys face, Ryan recognized him as Rico, one of the few Ravens’ that had survived the mass transfers and breakup of the original army that they had stolen the trophy from. He wouldn’t have forgotten that insult even after six months of relative peace between them. His eyes betrayed the animosity he felt towards them. Searching for something to say, he heard the scuffling of chairs and footsteps as the other Raven’s gathered around them. They were now trapped and surrounded without any hope of escape or help.
“Um, Toby? You wanna tell this oaf he left food in his trough?” Hell, if they were going to get smashed, may as well make it worth it. He smiled at Toby and Cole as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Cole smiled back although he was in obvious pain at being held tightly by the head and arm, but he was in for a fight if it came to that.
Cole began to laugh although he struggled with his captor. "Toby!" Cole managed through gritted teeth. "I never thought you had it in you!"
Somebody made a remark about launchies and there was laughter around the table. Flip ignored them and carried on with his breakfast, although everybody on the row opposite him was twisted round in their seats watching Rico and Argi apparently talking to a launchy. Don called out something to them and everybody laughed again before the mood suddenly turned hostile and the rest of the army jumped to their feet.
Flip could no longer see the scene, but the last he had seen was the launchy apparently knocking the trays out of Rico and Argi’s hands. It was such an unexpected action that if it wasn’t for the rest of Raven army now hurrying towards them, shouting threats, he would have suspected he was mistaken. What was even more odd about the whole affair was that it wasn’t even a new launchy; he had definitely seen him around the station for a while. That particular launch had been an object of much attention in the period shortly after he had transferred in. Not so much now there was the whole business with Tide going on, but memories of previous insults still remained. Particularly in some of the army’s older members.
The kid must have had some reason to do it; he had to know what would come next. Or perhaps either Rico or Argi had started the whole thing, although he couldn’t see how or why. And even if they had, the sensible thing for a launchy to do was keep his mouth shut and let it slide. It wasn’t as if anybody was going to step in and help him, especially if he had been the one to start it.
He finished his breakfast and placed his cutlery on his plate. He supposed he should probably wait here. Andy was big on the toon sticking together at times like going to and from the mess, and he assumed they were planning on coming back to the table when they were finished.
"Yeah." Ryan replied. "I think that would be a good idea."
Toby nodded. He thought so too. As did everybody else, judging from their reactions. A clatter of chairs accompanied their swift action, as everybody moved as one for the door.
And then Cole tripped over.
That was all the time the Raven called Argi needed to catch up with him, and as the rest of the launch paused to assist, the rest of Raven army arrived. Despite Ryan’s words and Cole’s laughter, things weren’t looking too good now. Even though he had known everything could go horribly wrong, he had still kind of expected that they would be able to get out of the mess before the Raven soldiers could catch up with them and then perhaps lose them in the corridors. He should have known something would go wrong. This was all going to be his fault. On the plus side, though, at least nobody seemed mad at each other anymore. At least, they looked as if they were trying to help each other get out away as quickly as possible.
Shaun jumped to his feet before the words ‘do you think we should run’ were out of Toby’s mouth. Of course they should run now! What was the alternative? To stand around and be beaten to a bloody pulp by enraged older kids? Didn’t sound like an alternative to him. What on Earth did Toby think he was playing at? Was he trying to get them all killed? Admittedly, he had been planning on doing something similar…but he had only been going to implicate Toby and Cole. He hadn’t been going to try and get everybody into trouble, and he definitely wouldn’t have included himself.
He started out from between the chairs to get into the gangway between the tables, only for Cole to trip over in front of him, taking David with him. Great. He cursed them both and looked up to see Raven soldiers advancing rapidly. Great! The one nearest Cole hauled him up off of the floor, placing him in some kind of arm lock, and then Ryan came out with some smart comment. Really. He was as bad as Toby. No, worse. At least Toby hadn’t been messing around talking when he should have been fighting or running away.
Then Cole began laughing. "Toby! I never thought you had it in you!"
Shaun growled. Not that it should have surprised him coming from Cole. It was still a waste of effort though. Toby was standing around, looking as if he didn’t really know what to do next after he had started off a massive brawl, so Shaun leapt across David to grab him by the arm, noting the fact that they were now pretty much hemmed in by Raven soldiers. Pulling Toby closer, he took hold of his shoulders and shoved him down to the floor with David.
“Under the tables!” he ordered. “Move quick enough towards their feet ad you’ll knock them off balance.”
Giving Toby a nudge with the side of his foot to get him started, Shaun then grabbed a tray from the table and headed for Cole.
“Cole, if you have to open your mouth, put it to good use and bite his arm off!”
The Raven soldier looked startled, shifting his grip slightly to make sure it was away from Cole’s mouth, and Shaun hit him round the head with his tray before trying to pull Cole away. He didn’t quite come free the first time, so he hit the Raven soldier again, and when he did let go, yanked Cole past him back down amidst their tipped up chairs. Throwing the tray at another Raven soldier, he joined him.
“Over the top?” he asked Cole, as the soldier he had hit over the head started down towards them. He nodded sideways towards where Toby was crawling away rapidly. “If they unbalance ’em, we’ll stop ’em from getting it back again.”
Cole saw Shaun coming at him with a tray and thought he was going to hit him with it until it went flying over his head and landed with a twang on Argi's instead. His grip loosened slightly and Cole shifted away while Shaun swung again landing another blow to Argi's head. He managed to struggle free while the Raven soldier stood there too stunned to act. Shaun held him by the arm and yanked him down under the very table they had been calmly sat arguing just moments before.
"Over the top?" Shaun asked. "If they unbalance ’em, we’ll stop ’em from getting it back again.”
"Nah man, watch this." Cole said still laughing a little. He kicked out from under the table catching Argi in the knee sending him to the floor in a pile. Cole shot out and scrambled over him getting back onto his feet.
"Now they be really mad!" Cole saw the Raven's closing in on them but there was a gap left by Argi, leaving them with an escape route in which to flee into the corridors. "Run!" Cole shouted.
Ryan quickly followed Cole and Shaun through the gap, making sure that David and the other launchies were either in front of him or very close behind. They rounded the corner into the corridor at a fast run, some sliding on the metal floor and bouncing off the bulkhead. They had to lose them in the corridors or get far enough ahead of them that they would give up the chase, but the Raven's had been at Battle School far longer then they had and no doubt knew their way around more intimately than the launchies did.
A memory popped into his mind of one of their many punishments dished out by Miffland, sending them to the recycling plant to sort through garbage. It was close by and it was possible they could make it if they were extremely lucky, and if they were even luckier still, the Raven's wouldn't think to look for them there.
"The recycling plant." Ryan said in a slightly raised voice not wanting their pursuers to overhear. "That way." Ryan pointed down a side corridor as he turned to head in that direction.
Now at a full run, he sped down the corridor only to see another Raven soldier uniform appear in front of him. He skidded to a halt mere meters from him, lost as to what to do next. He knew Cole, Shaun, Toby, David and the others had also stopped behind him due to the rapid breathing and squeaking of rubber soled shoes as they came to a sudden stop.
"There!" He heard Rico and Argi shout as they charged after them down the corridor, pushing the last of the launchies to the floor and making their way to the font. Argi grabbed Cole once again, obviously in no pain from being kicked, and held him tight. Rico pushed Shaun to the wall, intent on showing his dominance over the smaller boy. “What makes you think you can get away with hitting a Raven soldier kid?” He asked. Without waiting for an answer he pushed Shaun to the ground.
“Just what is going on?” The new Raven soldier in front of Ryan asked. Turning to look at him, Ryan realized for the first time that this soldier wore the patch of a commander on his arm. Looking closely, he realized that this was Michelle, the Raven army Commander and she didn’t look in too good a mood. Her thick Irish accent couldn’t hide her anger at seeing her army chasing down a group of launchies through the corridors.
“I said, ‘What is going on' Rico?” she repeated.
Rico turned to face her and Argi let go of Cole. “Nothing Sir. Just a misunderstanding with these launchies.”
“Really. Just what kind of misunderstanding requires you to be chasing them though the corridors like a pack of untrained dogs? Whatever they, or you did, I expect you to act in a way befitting your rank and to respect the honor of our army. Not to go chasing down helpless launchies who don’t know any better.”
Ryan shifted uncomfortably at the dressing down of the Raven soldiers as the silence descended upon them. Finally, after many seconds of silence she spoke again in that same cool manner. “Where’s Andrew or the other toon leaders?” She asked, knowing that she’d have to talk with them about keeping discipline within their toons.
“I don’t know Sir. They weren’t in the mess with us. I think they were having a Jack…” Rico paused for a second and then continued. “… A Toon Leader meeting before coming to breakfast.” Most of the soldiers had started referring to the Toon Leaders as ‘Jack’, short for ‘Jackass’ between themselves and he’d gone and blurted it out in front of Shell.
She ignored the comment. She didn’t know whether they knew that she knew, but she did. Any good Commander knows what their soldiers thought, what they ate, when they peed and even what they dreamed. She ignored the comment because despite her hard exterior towards them, she knew they needed a little relief and if calling their Toon Leaders names behind their back was the worst, then she had a pretty darn good army.
“Well then. I suggest you better get back in there and wait for them then huh?” she asked not expecting anything other than immediate compliance. “And pick that poor boy up." She continued pointing at Shaun. "I’m going to have a word with Ramsay about what I just witnessed Rico, and I’m sure you can expect to be put on report for for your actions. Assaulting a launchie Rico? That's a new low even for you.”
“Yes Sir.” Rico replied and pulled Shaun back to his feet.
“When you’re done Argi, tell Andrew I want to see him in my barracks.”
“Yes Sir.” Argi replied.
Cole had to stifle another chuckle as they moved past them heading back towards the mess. Was ‘Yes Sir’ all they knew how to say? He didn’t realize that once you were put into a decent army, you didn’t question your commander and ‘Yes Sir’ became a natural instinct.
“And I suggest you lot go on your way and try to avoid anymore misunderstandings with my army. I won’t always be around to save your sorry little butts.” Shell said as she winked at the boys and moved off back the way she had come.
Ryan looked around at the group of launchies surrounding him and burst out laughing himself. Tears swelled up in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks and soon almost all of them were laughing in equal parts relief and amusement at witnessing the great Raven soldiers being told off like little school children.
The tension was completely broken between them and they shared a moment in which they were truly a unified team after having survived yet another encounter with Raven.
For just one small moment, Toby had thought they might get away with it after all. When Shaun had set him moving, then managed to get Cole free so he could help clear a path through the crowd, that had been when he had thought perhaps he wouldn’t end up responsible for actually getting any of them hurt and would just end up responsible for putting them in that situation; which is what he had been hoping for. He hadn’t thought about the fact that kids twice their age would obviously be a lot quicker than them.
The sound of people hitting the wall was what brought him up short, and he had turned to see Shaun on the floor and Cole captured again. This time, without tables and chairs to get in everybody’s way, escape wasn’t going to be so easy, until the commander showed up. Toby leaned back against the wall and breathed a sigh of relief as she reprimanded the soldiers and sent them on their way. His relief soon turned to annoyance when he noticed Cole looking amused by the whole business, and Ryan bursting into laughter after the Raven’s had disappeared.
How could they be laughing after that? Just because the Raven soldiers got caught and told off? It wasn’t the Ravens who had started the fight, it was them…well, him really. They deserved to get chased and thrown about if caught, not let off. And that was the whole point. It had been a stupid thing to do that could, perhaps should, have got them all hurt. They weren’t supposed to be laughing, they was supposed to be shouting, at him.
Looking around, he could see that Shaun, at least, seemed to have the right idea - he didn’t look too impressed - but he was in a definite minority. The only problem now was that if Shaun did start shouting at him it would probably mess the whole mood up again and the whole thing would have been a waste of time. And that meant he couldn’t really shout at anybody himself either, which was what he felt like doing.
He banged a fist against the wall by his side, pushed away from it, and stalked off down the corridor. Best bet was probably to just keep away from them all till they got to practice. That way nobody would have a chance to mess the atmosphere up, and if Shaun wanted to shout at him, he could just accidentally knock him about a bit in the battle room instead, or freeze him as soon as he could.
Cole looked up at the sound of Toby punching the bulkhead and watched him stalked off down the corridor. Now what had gotten into him? Cole looked over at Shaun. "Now look what you did Shaun. You just can't help it can you?" Shaun had done absolutely nothing and the exasperated look that Cole was giving him betrayed that he wasn't actually berating him, in fact he was joking with him which considering that they didn't like each other much was a vast improvement to five minutes ago.
“C’om, lets get to practice.” Ryan said as he followed Toby down the corridor. Still giddy from the excitement of their near escape, he caught up pretty quickly. “Lighten up Toby. We got out in one piece.” Ryan suggested as he walked beside him. “By the way, what was going through your head in the mess? That wasn’t like you at all.”
//OOC – I guess we should carry this on in the battleroom? Just post your characters having picked up their flashsuits along the way to speed things up. – OOC\\
Shaun watched Toby’s retreating back then turned to Cole.
“I dunno. I had planned to do something. Shouting, mostly. What was he trying to do, getting us attacked like that? If that commander hadn’t turned up, we’d be toast. But now….” He shook his head. “Crazy. He looked angry at the lot of us, like we’d just ruined something by not getting mashed. And if he’s that upset already, I don’t know if it’s worth the bother.”
He set off after the rest of the launch. It was very odd indeed. Why would Toby be annoyed with them? He hadn’t been running for safety; he had stopped to turn back when the commander had turned up. If the rest of them had ended up in the infirmary, he would have joined them. And what had been going on with him in the mess? First he started a fight with older kids for no apparent reason, and then he stood around right in the middle of the battle zone looking lost. Maybe he was cracking up. Perhaps the pressure was getting to him. He always seemed to be working on some assignment or other in the barracks, and his battle room performance was pretty awful at best.
That had to be it, Shaun decided. Now he had thought about it a little further it made sense. The whole business with the Raven soldiers wasn’t completely for no reason. Part of it had to be his winding of Toby up with the ‘whining baby’ insult and Cole’s insistence that he didn’t have any plan to have some fun. Then he his mind had just got a bit confused and the insulting of the Raven soldiers had followed.
He would have to be a little more wary in what he said to Toby from now on. Not because it might send him completely over the top - he was sure the IF would prefer to find out if somebody wasn’t up to the task mentally sooner rather than later - but in case there was a chance anything he said might produce a reaction like that again and end up threatening his own safety too.
David didn't pay attention to Cole, not wanting to get involved. He shoved the food into his mouth and raced out of the mess to get his flash suit on and head to practice at the battle room.
(OOC) I can't belive that I actually had to revive the mess hall! Any way Flame members, this is where I would like you to post while being in the Mess. If the new people have a problem doing it, I suppose we can still go back to the Barracks only situation...
Jostijn entered the mess hall, and didn't see anyone from Flame. He grabbed a tray of food and sat down at one of the tables silently. All alone. He noticed some launchies from his launch eating and laughing like he used to do. Now he sat there, alone. He was a soldier. Suddenly, that didn't sound so good after all.
Mere smiled at Saint and walked to the mess with her. "I think your right." she said grabbing her food and sitting at a table. The new transfers were sitting at one end, obviously trying to to attract too much attention. Mere smiled and munched quietly on her food.
Mac stopped humming. Immediately. Not another note came from his throat. He slowly raised his head from his food to face Saint. He blushed. He opened his mouth and whispered, "That was me..."
His mind whirring. A connection. He'd made a connection with another member of the army. Something in common. Friends? His mind screamed out at him. Talk! Do something! Don't just sit there. You have something in common. You're not going to get anywhere without making friends. Ambitious! You're supposed to be ambitious and competitive. Talk!
He smiled. He blushed again. He opened his mouth and began talking in a decidedly more confident tone. His voice was deep and booming when he wanted it to be. For a moment, he shed his shy nature. He looked out the world and yelled, "This is me! For just this second, I'm not going to be quiet anymore!"
Mac said, "I listen to a lot of old Nine Inch Nails music. I think the way that Trent Reznor could layer the computer samples, the guitar, the bass, the drums, and the vocals was absolutely amazing. His music was some of the hookiest industrial metal. I think the school actually banned the album Year Zero because of it's lyrical content and theme."
He stopped. He looked at his food. He pushed the tray away. He stood up and forced some younger kids apart so he could sit by Saint.
Greg moved toward the Flame table with the day's usual slop and took a seat.
"You know, I think I've finally figured out why they call this place the Mess." he said to no one in particular. "It matches the food they give us." he continued on pushing some of whatever was on his plate into his mouth.
"So who are these new recruits? My names Greg, C Toon Leader."
"Yeah, I thought I recognised that song!"Jostijn said loudly, desperately trying to be part of the conversation as well.
Then Greg sat down and introduced himself. "Hi Greg,"Jostijn greeted. "I'm one of the new recruits, as you've probably noticed. Transfered from launch. Order directly sent me towards the Mess, so I don't know which toon I'm in yet. Might be yours!" Jostijn smiled. "Or yours, of course."Jostijn directed at Saint. He said it with that typical boyish smile that anyone could recognise as truly his.
"Well Jostijn I'm sure you've haerd it a hundred time but welcome to Flame. As for toon assignment, we'll probably get that sorted out after practice. Really any toon is a good place to be at present moment. We've got some real quality leaders. Especially since we've known each other since we all transferred in at the same time. Kinda like you guys. Maybe one of you can help fill a vacancy." He smiled at Saint referencing the open A Toon slot. Greg wasn't sure he wanted to leave his toon and try to move up, but if the oppurtunity presented itself...well Greg never was one to pass up a challenge.
Toe walked into the mess hall and allowed the sweet aroma of the food whisp across is nose, ( normally he wouldn't have the arouma of the food was "sweet" but he had skipped his last meal in order to get a workout in at th gym) as he walked over to the nutrionist to get his food.
OOC- I know it needs an edit, will add more soon. -OOC
As other people came to the table, Mac's new found courage disappated. He looked back down at the table and began humming.
So much for a friendship. Undoubtedly, Saint would be more interested in talking to these other soldiers than him.
Mac sighed. Lonely. Why don't you make friends? Is there something wrong with you? Do you smell bad? Look funny? They just hate you. Hate...hate...rejection. Cry little boy.
Mac's eyes began to well up. He hated being emotional. He did it rarely. But things were not turning out the way he'd hoped.
He'd been hoping to start a firm and lasting conversation with Saint. But these other kids had interrupted. He looked at Saint and mustered a weak smile. He'd never be her friend. She obviously liked the other kids better.
Mac sighed. He began to get up from the table.
So, an open toon? Have they transfered a toonleader and got a Launchie instead. If that was the case, it Jostijn really respected Order for being so friendly. That's a good commander. Then Jostijn noticed a slight movement next to him. He watched that Mac guy getting up from the table without any good reason. Jostijn noticed a tiny light reflection in the corner of his eye and realised that that might be a tear. The one that had been humming that song. Strange guy. Seemed a bit like the typical loner. Saint asked if he was okay, and Jostijn decided to make the guy feel a bit more comfortable. "If there's something wrong, you can tell us. We're your friends..."
Toe looked down at his measly portion and wonderd why some kids got more food than him. I guess its just because I'm so mocho I don't need anymore food. . Although he new he was lieing through his teeth.
He walked over to where Saint was sitting, Saint and him weren't really friends but hey it was better than sitting alone. Toe looked over to the new kid " I don't know what toon your in, but I'm so good I should be A and B toonleader. " forcing a laugh, even though he new it wasn't even a joke, really, he still laughed at his own humour.
Why do I always have to say such stupid things? Toe thought to himself. He hadn't had much friends back on earth. The other kids thought he was " all talk and no show ". And they expressed these feelings loudly and always in earshot of Toe. Toe didn't want to agree with them, but in the back of his mind he had to agree. Even if it was subconciously.
" Oh, Toe thinks he's so cooooooooool " he muttered one of the many things he had heard the other children on Earth say about him. Toe then raised his head and blushed, realizing he had said that outloud.
"Not sure what toon you're in" Saint said "But Order'll probably wait until we have a Toon A leader" She finished the rest of her food "It sounds like we already have some candidates"
Genna walked into the mess and quickly got her food. On the way there, she had been thinking of some ideas on how to get rid of stratches on wood surfaces. She could probably do it if she had some tools, but there was really nothing to work with. I'll just have to live with them. She sat down at a table near some other Flame members and began to eat her over-sized portions along with some growth hormones she had to take twice a week now. She didn't really trust them to work, but at least she could say she was trying to get taller. She took a bite and smiled. Genna was possibly the only person in battle school who liked the food here.
Jostijn heard a guy next to him mutter something about a cool toe. An intelligent toe, which thinks. Jostijn figured that it didn't make sense and that Toe was probably someone's name. Then an undersized girl sat down and took a bite. Jostijn observed what everyone did and especially Mac. He took another bite and really wanted to get to practise. He wondered as well which toon he was in and he asked Saint "Who is likely become toon A leader?" He hoped it would be him, and knew he was good enough. But Jostijn knew that wasn't likely. Jostijn was better than everybody else and could lead, but Order didn't know that. If he'd only give him some time...