"...I think that's them." A lone voice spoke within the crowd of faces staring at the Sixth Division. In front of North Point HQ was a large mob of Dire members, eating outside in the biting cold at large wooden tables around campfires. Their welcome party had begun early and was expecting the Division to arrive much later than they had; the Sixth Division pod crashed directly in front of the party.

"Their pod's still closed..."

"Should we help?"

"That's *FOUND'S* squad-are you crazy?!"

"Think they're dead?"

"I wouldn't doubt it. There weren't any reverse thrusters or chute to slow them down..."

"I can't see past the smoke-did they get out?"

"They got here way too early..."

"Crap-we didn't get the banners up or anything!"

Everyone had dropped what they were doing to stare in the direction of the smoking pod before them. It was as though an elevator had descended from the sky and reached its floor with reckless abandon; the steel frame impacted the snow with enough force to dig itself in several feet. Smoke and steam veiled the pod in a thin fog. A slight breeze pushed it around but failed to dispel the haze.

"Everyone to arms! If it's not them then we'll give 'em a proper welcoming party!" A man stood up from his seat and called out to the rest of the crowd. The guild responded enthusiastically as they pulled rifles, handguns, swords, knives, bows, wands, staffs, and everything in between in a readied stance. "Identify yourself!" The same man ordered towards the fallen pod. It shook slightly, and began to rise upwards from the ground, moving up out of the small crater and towards them.

"I didn't hear the thrusters come on-"

"It's hovering?"

"How's it moving then?"

"I see someone!"

A lone silhouette emerged in the fog, lifting the pod up from beneath like a sack of flour with one arm. Its body was encased in black guild armor, splattered head to toe in demon blood but devoid of any actual markings. It steadily walked forward in the snow and stopped to look at the crowd. Its head surveyed around, taking in their expressions. Faces ranged from confused, to nervous, to vicious, to suspiciousness.

It looked over its shoulder before continuing forward a few more steps, gently lowering the pod down with its doors facing the crowd. An armored fist rapped on the doors, signaling the inhabitants it was okay to come out.

Smoke poured out from the insides as the doors slid open slowly, concealing whoever was inside with sparks flickering from electrical paneling. Out stepped four more people. They wore the same outfit as the person that carried the pod; one of them was a giant.

"...Do you know who was put in the new Sixth?"

"No one's told me."

"The roster hasn't been changed either."

"I said identify yourselves!" The same voice from before yelled out. Rifles trained on them clacked and clattered as the safeties were switched off. The one in front held up an open hand and an index finger on the other. The number six.

"-Prove it!"

"He's a lieutenant!" A second voice yelled out. Someone had scanned them with their helmet's HUD. The one in front was listed as Lieutenant class. "That's the Sixth Division Lieutenant!"

"Officer on the grounds! Everyone let them through!"

The Sixth Division walked directly through the crowd, staring straight ahead without paying any attention to their fellow guildmates.

x

"I don't get it-we never get their cooperation, why would *that* division of all squads actually update their database record?" Bael asked Sebastian as soon as they were out of the briefing room.

"A few years ago we got hold of the first generation radio they were using for communication. Complete trash. It rarely had any signal and was functioning on duct tape and miracles. Recently we got ahold of their newest second generation."

"What's the difference?"

"There is none. Supposedly it can communicate through time, but what's the point if the connection is a complete shot in the dark? Our database runs on a completely isolated network, you can access it from almost anywhere in the galaxy, but you can only update your own section. And that's all you can do."

"Okay, but..."

"If they were still using those antique paperweights for communication, perhaps the only way they could declare to the world that they were still alive was by updating frequently."

"...I feel like we're talking about a different guild now."

"Yes, the idea just doesn't mix with your mental image of the Dires, does it?"