How is it that love can be both a question and an answer?
I never sought it out. It was forced upon me like a burden.
And yet…I embraced it. Even knowing what would come from it.
So what is it about love that causes even the most sane of men to turn mad?
Then again…when have I ever been regarded as a sane man…
Kato wakes up sharply to a group of laughter surrounding his bedside, as the commanding officer of the Beta Division was doing roll call. As drool drips from his mouth, and with his eyes half closed, he barely notices the expression of frustration that the commander is wearing.
“It is half past 6! Why aren’t you dressed!!! This is the fifth time this month, Izana!”
“...apologies…I won’t let it happen aga-”
“THAT’S ALSO THE FIFTH DAMN TIME YOU HAVE SAID THAT THIS MONTH!”
The other soldiers of the Beta Division in his fleet begin to snicker and laugh, as Kato slowly rises up to stand at attention…in his boxers. They then laugh even more once Kato realizes his inappropriate apparel.
“I’m truly sorry, sir. Allow me just a moment.”
As Kato fumbles around trying to find his pants, the commander grabs the roots of his silver hair, and pulls Kato upwards to face him. The commander’s head is swollen with rage like usual.
“If you were not the son of the general…you would have been kicked out to the boonies a long time ag-!”
Suddenly, the commander feels a sharp pain in the hand he is using to grab Kato’s hair, and immediately pulls his hand back. As he looks at his hand…he sees the lines in his palm and fingers have disappeared entirely.
The commander looks at Kato, confused and fearful of what just transpired, leaving Kato confused by the change of demeanor by the commander.
“...are you alright, sir?”
“You are all dismissed!”
The commander walks away sharply with his direct subordinates, refusing to look at Kato or the other soldiers any longer. The rest of the soldiers then murmur quietly amongst themselves as they relax from their previous attention stance, unsure of why the commander did not make his usual report. They begin to gossip even more as they scatter around the dorm.
“It must have been that weird ability again,”
“I guess it’s true when they all say Kato’s insane…”
“I heard that he was cursed by the gods at a young age,”
“As IF the gods even know his name! Haha! He’s just a mad man.”
“I still don’t get what his deal is? He’s not part of any major or minor clan, only the son of a man who rose to fame from fighting against other humans in the civil war,”
“I guess that’s why he’s with us in Beta instead of Alpha. They didn’t want someone so weak,”
“Trust me, he’s far from weak. Just unpredictable.”
“How would you know?”
“You guys are new. I’ve worked alongside him for the last 3 years.”
“Even we that are new know he’s weak. He couldn’t even best Rollo in a one-on-one the other day, and Rollo is one of the weakest in our fleet,”
“Kato is far too kind to show his strength against his own comrades…but he’s still one of the best warriors in our great army…the sooner you two figure that out…the better off you’ll be…”
“If that’s the case, then I should challenge him to duel like Rollo did!”
“Yea, I as well!”
The two begin to chuckle in the distance. Kato rolls his eyes.
Half an hour later, Kato finds himself in the great mess hall that houses all the Militia divisions in Floritian, as breakfast is always served before they head off to their daily duties. After arriving late to the hall, as usual, he was forced to sit alone outside, as all the seats and tables were occupied.
“I hear you overslept again, Kato!”
Kato looks up and sees his friend Quinn Ventura looking over him, with eyes gleaming with pity. Her short blonde hair bobs as she tilts her head to the right, uncovering her large hoop earrings even more.
Kato: “It was an accident,”
Quinn sits down beside Kato and gently pokes him in the nose.
“Accidents don’t happen this often, my friend. I’m afraid…you are just a slacker.”
“Perhaps I am, after all.”
Quinn sharply turns her neck back towards Kato, surprised.
“You actually ADMIT that for once??? The world must be ending rather soon,”
Kato takes another bite of his fruit.
“I never wanted to be a soldier. But my father is a man of great ambition. As his only son, he desperately wants me to become the seed that will sprout a clan for the Izana name. He always used to tell me - ‘The people will learn to respect us. And our defining trait will be this silver hair we sport. Let it be a symbol of aid and prosperity for those who look upon it…but also a symbol of fear’…”
Quinn chuckles, before grabbing the fruit from Kato’s hand and biting it.
“Yea, that silver hair of yours is certainly different all right. So different I can’t tell whether its a blessing or a curse,”
Kato looks up to the sky. Quinn initially believed he must be deep in thought, but in reality, he was deeply saddened that Quinn had stolen his food, and was trying to hold back tears.
Kato then sighs. “...I fear the same…”
“Kato! It’s been a while!”
“We saw him four days ago, moron.”
Kato and Quinn look to their right and see Jason Beratio and Imeni Suocca standing by the doorway.
Kato: “What’s the occasion?”
Jason: “No occasion! Is it wrong to check on a fellow soldier? And dare I say…my best fr-”
“I am not your best friend. And I don’t intend to ever possess such a title.”
Jason sulks: “...ouch…”
Imeni: “So Kato…did he find out?”
Kato looks over at Imeni, who wears her usual serious expression.
Imeni: “I knew it! I told you, Quinn, there’s a rat in our division!”
Quinn: “Relaaaxxx. Rat or no rat, we can always count on people finding out the truth eventually. Isn’t that right, Kato?”
Quinn slaps Kato across his back.
Kato: “You have really got to stop treating me like one of your subordinates,”
Quinn uses her fingers to widen her smile as she brings her face close to Kato’s.
“Of course, your majesty,”
Imeni: “This isn’t the time for jokes. If we lose Kato, our squad will fall apart. It’s only because of him that we can maintain our standing in the first place.”
Jason: “Obviously she knows that, mood killer. But Kato isn’t IN our squad, and not even in our division. He’s breaking protocol for us every time, we can’t continue to ask more from him than that,”
Imeni: “Listen, I don’t know about YOUR stupid way of thinking, but I don’t want to DIE!”
Jason: “Who says you’re going to die?!”
Quinn: “It was written in the dreams, Jason…”
Jason looks sharply at Kato, who refuses to move his gaze from the ground. His eyes remain dark, as he recalls the dream in silence.
Imeni: “I have never been a superstitious person…until those visions began to play out right in front of us…if that dream really is what he says it is…then he has to stay with us!”
Quinn: “So you would rather use your own friend as a safety net?”
Imeni: “Yes! If that’s what it takes to survive! He brought this upon us in the first place!”
Jason: “Don’t say that!”
Jason and Imeni now notice Randall Okoda, another lieutenant of the Foxtrot division, standing beside them.
Jason: “Jeez! Don’t always scare us like that!”
Randall: “Sorry…force of habit…”
Imeni looks around, clearly searching for someone.
“Almost all of us are here, but where are Faeko and Emilia?”
Randall slowly turns to look down towards Imeni’s shorter stature.
“I’m sure…they are at it again…”
Jason: “Damn…they must have some serious stamina,”
Quinn: “No, they are just desperate is all. Do not fault them,”
Jason pauses, before realizing Quinn is very correct.
Kato: “I’m guessing you all planned to meet me this morning?”
Quinn, Jason, Imeni and Randall all look towards Kato, who still had his usual calm expression.
Quinn sighs: “Of course you would figure us out so easily,”
Jason: “I told you we should have been more relaxed about it-”
Imeni: “Oh shut up, already,”
Kato: “So, what is it that you all want from me?”
Randall walks in front of both Quinn and Kato, before kneeling before them in a respective and upright manner.
Randall: “The matter is mine…I would like to ask if you could accompany us tonight beyond the mountain once more…as I have been specifically tasked with this mission from the King himself…”
Kato: “If King Corinthian is willing to ask you instead of Quinn, I’m sure it must be a serious task…so why me?”
Randall moves closer to Kato.
“If your dreams are true…this mission might certainly be the fruition of it…and as Imeni says…I am not willing to die…I still have a lot to live for…”
Kato grasps Randall’s shoulder softly.
“I understand. It is far too early for you to leave your sons behind. I truly do not wish for such a fate to befall you,”
Kato stands up.
“However, my father, the general, insists that I remain faithful to my division, and cause him no more trouble. If I were to go with you, I am sure I would lose my place in his army and be forced to spend the rest of my days outside of Floritian…”
Kato glances at Quinn, who grins intently. He then looks back at the rest of the Foxtrot Division lieutenants.
Kato: “So…what time are we leaving?”