Disclaimer: Oh look, I don`t own it. Wow.

My Boy

Rudolph Gerhard Zeppelin the Third. Prince Rudolph. Heir to the throne of the Guylos Empire before he`s even twelve years old.

Weight of the world on his shoulders and the kid still manages to shrug and pass his responsibilities off as nothing more than a fact of life.

He does have to do something about that martyr complex though, but that`s beside the point.

This kid would`ve been my meal ticket. Damned runt grew on me. And Viola knows it, too.

My name is Rosso. Former Captain in the Imperial Army, jack-of-all-Zoids and currently little more than a notorious bandit, escaped convict, confirmed terrorist and hostage taker. I`m the guy your mom warned you about when she told you to stay away from anyone with a tattoo.

Rudolph here has good common sense, at least when it comes to that. Think it`s... Escape attempt number six? Hell, I lost count.

I do know one thing though.

The little bastard`s already practically like a son to me.

My boy.

That`s what he seems like to me. I can`t tell why, I`m just attached to the little runt. Maybe it`s because he reminds me so much of myself at that age, or maybe it`s because Viola and I probably won`t ever have any kids of our own. I don`t know.

I don`t care either, mind you. Just need to figure it out.

In case you don`t know, the kid`s using Viola`s sleeping bag right now, and she`s using mine. May end up sharing with her, don`t know yet. I`m just sitting in front of the fire on the late watch, sipping coffee.

I probably won`t sleep much tonight. Or at all tomorrow.

That`s okay, you get used to odd hours after a few weeks in the military, or a few days as a desert bandit. Both tend to be jobs where you`re either awake at least 18 hours straight every day or you miss the chance of a lifetime.

In this case, we missed three chances of a lifetime.

First was for the Organoid that kid - Van Fleiheit, I think? - calls his 'buddy.' That`s fine by me, now that I think about it. Given how many people seem to be out for Rudolph`s blood, and how many people are trying to capture that thing, it`s probably better that Van kept it. If only because that would be more trouble than it`s worth. Bad enough to deal with the Imperial army without Organoid technology, I`d hate to see what a maniac like Prozen would be capable of with it.

Unless rumors are true about that girl they took a few years ago. Or the black Organoid that 'Raven' is rumored to have.

If that`s the case, we`re all screwed and this is for nothing. Oh well.

Second was the chance to avoid being manipulated, the chance to keep the world at peace. We blew that too, because we wanted to be back in favor with the army, if not actually members of it again. We are... Were soldiers after all. Fighting and dying is what we do. And did.

Can`t help but wonder how the others are fairing right about now, or if they`re even alive. Jarro, Bianco, Welda and Nero. Did any of them make it out of that firetrap alive? If they were captured, god knows what kinda shit the interrogators would do to `em. They don`t exactly follow any codes of contact other than getting information out at any cost.

Any cost includes torture in ways that would make you vomit if you knew. Hard to believe we can still pride ourselves on being an honorable nation with a regime like that. Rudolph`s grand dad wasn`t much of a saint.

But anyway...

The third chance we blew was this one. The chance to steal the kid and make a killing with the ransom payment.

We had it all set up perfectly. Was a piece of cake to finish everything, but noooo. They had to go and plan his fucking assassination at the false hands of the Republic instead of just doing him in the old fashioned, dignified way. Really, I remember when the senate assassinated the kid`s mother and father two weeks after he was born. They did their dirty work themselves, with knives instead of mercenaries like Metlenick.

We could still give him back. For money.

We keep telling ourselves we will.

But we won`t. Viola`s as much of a sap for the kid as me. She won`t admit it, I won`t either, but she`ll find a bit more enjoyment in teasing me about it if we survive.

Not saying we will, of course. It`s a long way from here to Mount Iselina. Lots of Imperials and Republicans alike in the way. Bandits too. And mercenaries.

If we get there though, it`ll be a start. Heck, maybe we can raise Rudolph ourselves...

Nah.

The way he is, he`s already too mature to be a kid around actual adults. Would probably be great friends with Van if they met, I can tell he has about the same level of talent buried up under all that future regality. Kind of ironic, if you ask me.

Why? Simply because one of the potentially most talented Zoid pilots that may ever live is going to either be killed by assassins, raised in absolute peace by outlaw desert bandits in utter isolation or completely cut off from battle and stuck on the throne of the Empire by some fluke of destiny.

None of those outcomes would surprise me. At all.

Definately reminds me of myself at that age. Headstrong, overly responsible, willing to die for no other reason than to keep others from being hurt. And by being hurt, I mean small things like getting pricked in the finger.

With a rubber needle.

Yeah.

I was like that once, Rudolph`s like that now.

Probably why I`ve become so attached to the little runt.

He`s my boy.

I kinda like the sound of that. Makes it seem like I actually have potential as a father.

Viola must be laughing her head off at all of this. Well...

No, she`s probably not.

Viola doesn`t have it in her to be that mean. At the core, she`s still that sweet, naive girl I was trying to con and somewhere along the way, got overly attached to. I talked her into joining the army once. Back when I stumbled into the village at Iselina, half dead from five gunshot wounds and about two pounds of shrapnel lodged into various points on my back and legs.

I`d been walking for four days straight at the time. Hermann`s boys definately did a number on the squad I was in.

So, half dead, I walk into a field and pass out, thinking I was about to die. I felt it was a good way to go, surrounded by flowers and all that good stuff. Instead, I woke up two days later, covered in bandages and being attended to by two pretty girls. One of them was younger, probably about a year younger than Van is by now. Rosa, that was her name.

The other was named Viola. She was one year younger than me, beautiful and naive to the extreme.

Naive enough to think I was actually something worth while.

I basically con jobbed the lot of them after that, got Viola to thinking that the army would be a great experience for her since she wanted to defend her village so badly and from there, well...

The rest is history.

Now I`m so attached to the woman that I think any closer and we`d probably be married.

That`d be nice, come to think of it. Shame it probably won`t ever happen, but hell... Always nice to keep some sort of goal in mind.

My goal right now...

Make it to Mount Iselina. With Viola. And with my boy.

And we`ll make it too, damn it.

Even if it kills me.

I`m Rosso.

I`m a desert bandit.

I`m also the only chance that Rudolph Gerhard Zeppelin the Third will ever have if he hopes to survive with Prozen out for his head and his throne.

I guess that makes me a hero, huh?




Author`s Note: Big ol` softy, ain`t he? :P

Hopefully that all fit his character pretty well. Rosso isn`t someone I`m terribly used to, but since he reminds me so much of an original character of mine, I was able to do it after a while. Shame I can`t hear his voice too well in thought though, would`ve made it a lot easier :/

This one had quite the delay but I did get it out eventually. With any luck I`ll be able to do one for Viola, maybe Rudolph, or even one of the Organoids. Dunno yet.

And as a side note: Anyone expecting the 32nd chapter of NA is gonna have to wait a little while longer than usual. Recently resumed work on the HT series, so I might be delayed a bit.

Anywho, enjoy, leave a review, see ya next time and Sh33p out.