I Wish I Could Be Like Them
//first person POV//
I wish I could be like them. No, I really do.
Just look at them, all five of those boys. So dedicated, so confident, so damned young!
Now look at me. I'm not young, not as old as Howard over there in his wild Hawaiian print shirt, but I sure don't have their youthful energy!
Come to think of it, I wonder where Howard even gets the money for those silly shirts? None of us are getting paid here, so how do any of us afford what we wear or eat or own? Those kids don't get paid, either, wonder how they get by? As for me, well, there was some money left in the bank when I decided to come here, but it ran out a few months back. Here on Peacemillion we get fed and clothed and everything else we need, but I wonder who pays for all of it? Not that it really matters or anything. Hell, I'll keep doing what I do best as long as I'm needed or until I die, whichever comes first.
What? You want to know what I do here? Ha! That's a first! Ain't been asked that since the day I signed up! Well, since you asked so nicely, I'll take a little longer break and tell you about it. I'm a computer technician and I specialized in master operating system control boards for commercial space shuttles before the war. But now that I'm with these guys, I'm one of the few who works on that insane "Zero System" for the Gundams.
Now hold it! Do NOT give me a tongue lashing for what that thing does to the kids who fly these things! I didn't invent it or anything, I just keep it going for 'em, and what I've heard it is a damned good thing that I do!
That Japanese kid, you know, the cold one? Well, rumor has it he can practically talk to his machine thanks to the system and it makes him a kick-ass pilot because of it! But without someone like me to keep it going, that whole operating system would shut down and he'd be up a creek without a paddle!
No, I will not explain that! It is just a phrase, ya' idiot!
Hmph. Yeah, I'm sorry, too, I guess we are all on edge up here right now. Things ain't going too smoothly with that lunatic Merquise and White Fang trying to run Outer Space! So just forget it and move on.
Hmm? What did you say? Oh, that. Well, you know that is kind of a tough thing to think about, but, yeah, I've lost my family, too. Had a wife but the war took her away, damned air raids! But everybody here has lost at least someone they care about, and some lost more than that.
This war has cost those kids each a lot, but I'd guess I don't know all of it. There's rumors and gossip, but I'm sure not going to be the one to ask them directly, no, they have enough hassles in their lives as it is.
The one who always seems so happy, the American? Word is he lost something like 250 people when the orphanage he grew up in was blasted. Poor kid! He found 'em all, shattered and broken and he was just a little squirt. But he took his anger and transformed it into something powerful to try to stop all of this here and now and that's pretty damned good, ain't it?
Hey, see the blond over there? Yeah, the little one who looks like he doesn't even belong here? Hell, this shit cost him his dad's life! No, I am *not* kidding! His old man was the head of the Winner family and he got himself blown to hell in the colonies while the kid watched. Yes, it *is* tragic, that's my point.
Then there's the Chinese boy. Man. Am I glad not to be him! Watched his entire colony self-destruct, for crying out loud! How much worse does it get, huh? Hey, need a tissue there? No, don't be embarrassed, it gets to me, too, I've just been here longer than you.
Those boys are so young and yet they are ready to die for the cause. But then again, so am I. We'll all probably die doing this and I know that I don't care and I figure those boys don't care either. No one could fly those things around without realizing their ticket could get punched any time, any place, but it does seem like a shame.
One of 'em already came damned close to that, too. Yup, the tall silent kid over there. He was trying to save the little blond from himself when the Zero System screwed up his head, but he just didn't get out of the way fast enough, I guess. One of the guys in maintenance told me that he was found floating in space, memory gone and half-dead. Shame, huh? Good looking kid like that, with a bright future almost murdered by one of his friends. Just don't seem right somehow.
Hmm? Any of the others go through that? Well, they all have to one extent or another, but the worst was the Japanese one. He had the nerve to actually stand in the cockpit of the original Wing Gundam when it was self-detonated. What? Saw it on the news? So, me too. It was before the wife died and I was still working private sector, but yeah, I saw it. You think he was gutsy? Well, it was pretty gutsy or just damned stupid, who are we to say? I just don't understand these kids at times, ya' know?
But who is to say, they've been through hell. But I still wish I could be like them. Shit! Somebody's yelling. Must be time for those kids to head out again.
"Hey, Techy! Get over here!" rings out and I realize the guy in charge of Wing Zero is staring at me.
"Techy?" I ask myself. I don't have a name anymore? Well, that's no surprise, we *are* trying to save civilization here, we don't have time to be civil to each other, now do we? So now I gave up my name as well. That seems to fit. Those boys gave up their names in a way. Two have borrowed names to begin with, one has an invented one to honor the place he grew up, one has a name that means nothing now that his colony is gone, and the last, well he has a great family still, but it cost him just the same.
So I don't have a name, I don't get paid, I lost my family, and I'll probably die before all of this is over. Hmm, maybe I'm not so different from them after all. But I doubt any of those five kids would ever look at me and say,
" I wish I could be like him."
1. Hmm, that was strange, wasn't it? The combination of pain and melancholy does it to me every time. But as I wrote this is occurred to me how very much a fic writer's life is like our faceless technicians. Well, at least mine if no one else's.
2. This fic is dedicated to the [78 as of January 12, 2001] members of my Updates list (address at ending) who have patiently waited for me to get my butt in gear and send them a message! So, to go with the first message of the year, here is a fic dedicated to them since I would not be surprised to discover some of them too had said "I wish I could be like them."
3. Muse Credit Union: Melpomene actually wanted to avoid credit here, but she gave me pain so she can damned well take the blame.
4. I've been asked by several folks to set up an alert system when something of mine is available, so please feel free to sign up at EnigmaFanficUpdatesfirstname.lastname@example.org!