Schala85: Finally, an update. Things had happened in real life, and writer's block didn't help. I wanted to get to a certain point, so the chapter is longer than the others. X3 And for some reason the divider line isn't working in the edit document so I'm sorry it's crammed. I don't own Zoids.
Once Rokai returned to the bunk beds of the academy, he saw that his bunkmate was gone. Which, the brunette felt quite relieved about that as he didn't really need to be bothered by Thomas' optimism. Taking time to get up onto his bed and lay down, his brown eyes soon looked far beyond the ceiling. In his mind, he was reliving the past events in New Helic City, and a look of pain and horror spread across his features. Even now, it didn't seem possible that he, the son of a simple farming family, caused so much pain to people that he didn't know, and probably never would know. It seemed almost fitting that after his mistakes that he wasn't allowed to even tell his mother goodbye before she died. Why did he of all people deserve such a luxury?
The brunette knew that he shouldn't keep looking back in the past so closely, and had at first scolded himself about it. However, over time, he had lost that inner battle and the thought of not beating himself up over it rarely came to mind. When he had gotten back to the Empire, he was regarded with a type of respect, and had become a guide to an officer in the area in which he had called home. Though, how could one respect the cowardice he had so effectively displayed in New Helic? He knew it wasn't courage that allowed him to first pilot that modified Command Wolf, and go through the heart of New Helic in an attempt to escape. Instead, he knew it was desperation. Perhaps Terra was right. Perhaps he was a coward? If so, he didn't understand why Rudolph had been so bent on rewarding him, though indirectly punishing him. His new Command Wolf was something he never wanted, and he struggled more so with the thought of piloting it. He would never be able to pilot the zoid at the rate in which he was going, and Rokai knew it.
"Hey, are you all right, Rokai?" asked a familar voice, sounding genuinely concerned. The said young man immediately identified the speaker to be his crazy bunkmate and sighed. He supposed that being alone for reflection was too much to ask for, but decided to push it all back and sat up.
"I'm fine," Rokai answered, although that was a total lie. He wasn't fine at all. Though, he hoped that Thomas would be gullible enough to believe him, and to Rokai's relief, he wasn't disappointed.
"Oh, okay," was the answer. Thomas' green eyes shone with excitement, something definitely had happened to the younger man today, and Rokai also had a feeling that he would be hearing all about it now. Again, Thomas' easy-to-read features didn't let him down. "Guess what happened today?" The brunette shook his head, to show he didn't know. "Well, it seems that the Empire and the Republic have created an exchange programs for zoids and I got a Dibison! There was also a Command Wolf but I don't know who or if anyone got that."
That figured, or so Rokai mused. If it hadn't been Thomas that got that Dibison he saw, it would've been one of the other cadets he knew so it really didn't matter. "I did," he answered simply, struggling with keeping his attention on the external matter at hand, or going back into the recesses of his mind.
"Oh wow, that's great, Rokai!" Thomas exclaimed. The blonde cadet was not only happy that he knew the other pilot, but that the pilot in question was his bunkmate. He really thought Rokai of all people deserved it, as the slightly older man was really such a great soldier. He was a great person in general, actually. Though, he was slowly starting to realize that Rokai wasn't anywhere near enthusiastic about the news. After a few moments, he was positive that his bunkmate was indeed not in the best of moods and it wore down Thomas' own mood. "...Something's wrong, isn't it?" he again asked, though in another way.
Rokai sighed, and lay back down on his top bunk. "Listen, Thomas, you can't tell anyone about what I'm about to say to you," the brunette began. He turned his head to see the blonde nod in agreement to Rokai's request. It was with a few moments of hesitation that Rokai continued. "I'm sure you heard of the POW that had wrecked havoc in New Helic shortly before the Imperial invasion. He had somehow managed to get a hold of a modified Command Wolf and attacked during the parade in the capital."
His tone then turned sarcastic, something Thomas didn't recognize from Rokai. "He caused a good bit of damage and insulted his own dignity and humanity, but he managed to get out without being injured himself. Once that soldier was back within the military, he was given a token role as a guide to one of the officers in charge of an area he knew well. After a while of that, certain events concerning Emperor Rudolph caused him to finally desert the military completely." The brunette stopped and looked at Thomas, wondering if his bunkmate (could he even consider Thomas as a friend?) understood what he was meaning.
It took a few moments, but a lightbulb seemed to go off in Thomas' head. "If that's true, you mean..." he began, gaining a nod from Rokai. "Then, that POW you mentioned, that was you?"
With another nod, Rokai again laid back down. "It still haunts me. ...When you're going into the military, you don't even think of the possibility of hurting civilians, or other people in general sometimes. I was panicked, and I was desperate to get out of there any way I could. I...I did things that I don't want to be reminded of, and all that I can think of when I see or even think about that Command Wolf is what happened back then." With that said, there was a long period of silence between the two.
"So what are you going to do now that you have that Command Wolf?" asked Thomas, finally breaking the silence. The blonde didn't say anything else at first, he was collecting thoughts on what he could say to Rokai to help him out. When his bunkmate didn't answer, he felt he had to say something else. "You can't keep running away from your problems. You're a great person, Rokai, and I'm sure that if you gave it a shot, you could become a great pilot for that zoid. Rudolph wouldn't have given it to you if he didn't think you were capable."
Inside, Rokai sighed. Rudolph may think he was capable, but being and thinking were two very different things. Thomas just didn't understand the situation for Rokai, no one could get it in his opinion. At least, no one could understand his situation unless they had experienced it themselves. "I appreciate what you're saying, but...it won't change anything."
"If you don't try at all, you don't have any chance at changing anything. You're not the only person that has some struggle with themselves you know," was the blonde young man's retort. Thomas' thoughts were on his family, namely Karl, and that he knew he would never match his older brother's greatness. However, he was working hard to become respected in his own right, and to climb out of his brother's shadow. It wasn't easy, not one bit. Though, he knew that if he slacked, more than likely the blonde cadet would fall back to square one.
One word from Thomas' pep talk seemed to speak the loudest to Rokai, and that word was 'try.' Could he 'try' to pilot the Command Wolf? Could he 'try' to get out of this academy? Could he 'try' to make it in the military again? Or could he 'try' to desert the military a final time? A small voice in the back of his mind asked him what was wrong with trying? After all, Rokai didn't have anything else to lose. He had no home, no family, and if he did lose the one thing he did have, which was his life, he could probably count on one hand the number of people that would even care. After a few more moments of mental debate, he sat up again.
"All right. I'll try to pilot that Command Wolf. Though, I honestly don't think that I can," he answered, his tone of voice was akin to a child being forced by his parents to clean his room. Though, it was more than what Thomas expected, and the blonde cadet nodded in response before getting his books out to work on the night's expectations.
The next day, Rokai obtained permission to work with his new zoid, having explained that he was having problems with piloting the zoid. Of course, the way he worded it made him feel a tinge guilty, as he later realized that he made it sound like the zoid was at fault. Though, he knew that it was his own damn fault. Yes, he knew it quite well. It was something that he couldn't easily forget, if he ever would. The feeling of dread that he felt earlier that morning as he had gone over to the zoid in question nearly made him turn around and walk away. However, Rokai by now was determined to do what he could to pilot this zoid, he refused to become a coward. It had taken him a long time of staring at the wolf before he could even go inside the cockpit, but once he had, he felt a bit more calm. Though, it would take more than that to successfully pilot it in combat situations.
Even so, this was much further than he had thought that he would get, and decided to go as far as he could. This led to him going out to the target field. It wasn't being used currently, he knew that because he asked just in case he managed to get this far. So, he'd be free to test himself as much as he dared. At least for the next five hours anyways, there were a couple of classes he still had to take before leaving the academy.
Okay, let's see...
Rokai looked at the controls and hesitated a moment before putting in the controls to zero in on one of the targets. He was sure he heard the Command Wolf growl. Needless to say, he hoped it was meant to be encouraging. Then, his fingers went to the control to fire the cannon. Almost instantly, he thought back to New Helic, and the small battle he had gone through in the city. However, he shook those thoughts out of his head and finally fired.