Chapter 0:


The Legacy of Xaero: The Faz Brigade Returns

20 years ago…

     “I’m telling ya Fred, nobody cares. She can find her parents on her own.”

     Frederick took the girl’s hand in his. Her shaking stopped as she enclosed herself into orbit. “I care. And that’s reason enough for me.”

     “You’re gonna be the death of me, aren’t ya?”

     “Ha, like I’m gonna be the one pointing an HK at you. If anyone is gonna kill ya Crev, it’ll be Harlan.”

     “Affirmative. I called dibs!”

     Crevan sighed good naturedly and returned to the booth. “Alright, fine. But I’m kicking her out from behind the booth if she so much as distracts from the presentation.” He smiled, to show he was kidding.

     “Where are your parents?” Frederick returned his attention to the green haired girl beside him. Her name was Ann, and just ten minutes ago, he had found her surrounded in the sea of students, tears rimming her eyes as she looked this way and that for someone who was no longer there. She had immediately introduced herself to him after noticing his military uniform, claiming her brother said she could always trust anyone with an outfit like his.

     “I don’t know. I don’t have any.” She said, her little hands wrapping around one of his adult sized fingers. “Roger said they’re gone now.”

     “And Roger is someone you’re close to?”

     Ann nodded her head vigorously. “He’s looked after me ever since I can remember.” She answered. Every movement and noise around them seemed to catch her off guard and fill her with wonder. She might have recently stabilized her rampancy, Frederick concluded.

     “And how old are you? How old is Roger?” He asked, pulling Ann’s attention back towards him.

     “I’m two years and seventy four days old.” Ann answered brightly. He gave her a reassuring smile, which prompted the girl to blush and giggle at the chipped tooth in his mouth. “And big brother Roger is eight years and two hundred and sixty nine days old.”

     “Nice.” Frederick heard Crevan mutter behind him. Almost immediately afterward, he heard someone, Harlan most likely, elbow Crevan hard enough to grunt audibly in pain.

     “So your brother brought you to school with him?”

     “Yeah! He takes me everywhere so he doesn’t have to hire a babysitter. He says they’re too expensive.”

     “Babysitting is surprisingly expensive,” Frederick played along, frowning slightly. “Do you know what your brother wants to do with what he’ll learn at school?”

     “Roger wants to be an archie tech!” Ann simulated an explosion with her hands by emphasis. Her excitement started to feel infectious as she explained “He said he’s gonna build us a big house by a lake with lots of animals we can look after. I want cows and chickens like in the books he reads me at nights before he makes me go to sleep.”

     “Aww, that’s cute. That’s a very sweet dream.”


     “Do you have a dream, mister?”

     The question caught him off guard, and the face he made in response made her giggle. “Oh, you don’t want to hear mine,” he replied playfully.

     “Why not? Do you not have one?”

     “No, he has one, it's just boring!” Crevan crowed, causing a group of students to glance at him in confusion as they passed by.

     “It’s not boring, it's complicated.” He admitted.

     “Can I hear it?” Ann asked, her eyes growing large with curiosity.

     It wouldn’t hurt, would it? She may look like a little girl, but just as every Unimus, she’s processing information at a rate nearly incomprehensible to human, elf or sith minds. Having reached rampancy, her mind is already grown up, but her body is still adapting to everything around her and within her. One dream wouldn’t hurt, he convinced himself.

     “My dream,” Frederick began, almost whispering to Ann. The girl leaned closer to hear him. Such earnest trust must be preserved. “is the reason I enlisted: to protect others, and make sure they can keep their dreams alive.”


     “Before I joined, the officer who convinced me to sign up said, ‘Dreams are what the future is made of, and in a perfect world, with a perfect government, we help each other achieve those dreams.’” He continued, pausing slightly, trying to find the right words to say next. “And most days, I think that’s what I’m still doing to this day.

     “Do you have a dream?”

     Now it was Ann’s turn to make a face. “I don’t know,” she said, suddenly wistful. “There’s so much I want.”

     “You don’t have to have a dream right away.” Frederick comforted her. “When you’re ready, it will come to you.”

     Taking Ann by the arm, the soldier led the girl back over to the booth with the rest of his squad. Kaia’s eyes lit up at seeing her and quickly pulled over another chair for her to join them at the table.

     “So what are you all doing?” Ann asked, watching as his teammates exchanged pleasantries and stories with nearby students.

     “We’re recruiting,” Kaia replied as Frederick was speaking to a group of students. “Checking to see if anyone would like to join the military.” A bell rang, and a new influx of students began to enter and exit the hallway.

     “Really?~ Could I join?”

     Kaia laughed nervously. “Maybe when you’re older.” She said cautiously. “We aren’t in the habit of letting kids join. You need to grow into your body a bit, first.”

     “But when I’m older I can?”

     “If that’s what you want, sure.”

     “Then I can fight bad guys with you and help protect the dreams of others?” Ann asked.

     The woman regarded the little girl. “I don’t know if we’ll still be around by that time, so maybe?”


     “Ann?” A voice called out.

     Out of the crowds, another green haired student came rushing into view, head whipping in each direction in search of someone. Ann’s eyes brightened, and she called out, “Roger!”

     Roger’s eyes found his sister’s, and he rushed towards her. Picking her up in his arms, the Unimus embraced. Frederick and the rest of his squad – as well as some of the students present– applauded the reunion.

     “I was so worried!” Ann’s brother exclaimed. “I thought I told you to stay by the classroom door?”

     Ann’s eyes turned watery. “I got confused by all the people around me.” She bawled into his shoulder. “It was so scary until the nice soldier found me.”

     Frederick dissembled. “If I hadn’t done it, anyone else would.”

     “Regardless, I have you to thank.” Roger cut in. “Thank you.”

     For perhaps the first time, Roger seemed to notice the booth and uniforms Frederick and company wore. “You’re soldiers?” He asked in confusion.


     “Mom and Dad were soldiers,” he mumbled sheepishly. “Uh, what is your unit called?”

     There was a hint of hesitation in the question. And from the way he now struggled to maintain eye contact and the clumsy attempt to continue conversation, wasn’t the fondest of the military. Did their parents die in the line of duty? That would certainly explain his sudden uneasiness.

     “Our callsign is the Faz Brigade.”