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To Become a Defender

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          “I fear,” auntie told his uncle while he eavesdropped from outside the shack. “I fear.”

          “Yes, but he is just a kid. Nothing to worry.” Still just a kid…

          “His emotions are…” What? Too retarded to conjure up an adequate adjective? “Random.”

          “Yes, he does not control them. But he won’t hurt us, right? We are still family. Nothing to worry.” Unbelievable. He knew exactly what had riled them up. Not only had he gone on a month-long temper tantrum after his mother had died, but he had recently gone haywire during one of the raids. He had vented out his emotions and massacred everyone with his bare hands. But what of it? Were they not enemies? Were they not the bad guys? He was capable of empathy, but of course, such retards could not possibly hope to comprehend such a concept. He sighed, staring at his hands. He had killed so, so many, their blood staining his entire body, but everything had been in self-defense!

          He knew that he did not have much control over his emotions. His exceptional genetics blessed him with high intellect, but they also cursed him with a volatile emotional state. If he ever felt sad, he would easily plummet into a bottomless ravine of utter depression; if he ever felt angry, he would lose his sanity to the vehement roars of wrath incarnate; if he ever felt happy, he would enter an untamable state of mania. He did not blame anyone for fearing him and his sporadic nature. After all, as Humans, it was expected of them to fear that which they did not fully comprehend nor control. He feared himself in that regard. Not because he did not understand, but because he could not control. He knew that eventually he had to learn how to tame the curse, how to utilize it to his advantage, and there was nothing he could not learn.

          The fear his fellow community members felt toward him grew. He was already more than half way through his teenage years, had absorbed nearly all the knowledge in his father’s library, and had proven time and time again to not have found a way to repress his emotions. He knew he did not have much time before being cast away. His uncle and auntie would never abandon him or agree with such treatment, but he knew everyone else had no problem with it. After all, they were the ones who had urged his mother to remain tainted by blood and urine after conceiving him just so they could drink more than necessary for their survival. He began to feel anger boil up inside of him the more he thought about his own incompetence. How could he, a genius, a master of all knowledge, not be able to learn something as rudimentary as controlling one’s emotions? He was planning on leaving the community once he had finished reading everything in the library. He was to wander off into the vast desert devoid of anyone and force himself to his extremes. He was to bring himself mere moments away from completely losing his sanity and then rein himself back in. Of course, he could not do so while still residing in the community. Doing so would be to jeopardize everyone’s lives! He could imagine himself tearing everyone limb by limb as he had done to the raiders.

          “This is goodbye,” he told his prized possessions. Not only the books, but also the straw objects his uncle had handcrafted. There was a doll whose left arm had been lost a long time back, back when he was a mere toddler biting everything he could get inside his mouth, and a tall, lanky demon, the antagonist whenever he used to recreate action scenes from the few fiction books in his father’s arsenal. He stared at the two of them and felt a tinge of déjà vu, as if the two of them side-by-side reminded him of something, something from a distant life; it was the same feeling he used to feel whenever he smelled his mother or remembered the time she tucked an iris flower behind his ear, the feeling that something was not exactly correct, that nothing was real and that his true existence was lurking somewhere; the weirdest emotion known to man.

          He was to leave everything behind -- water, food, books, clothes, and toys. Nothing was to accompany him in his arduous journey, in his suicide mission, except one thing: a straw hat gifted to him by his uncle. Unlike all of his other straw objects, the straw hat held insurmountable intrinsic value for its history. The straw hat had been handed down through generations for so long that its original owner was said to be a man who lived during the days before the intelligence-altering drug was force-fed to everyone. The straw hat had survived countless of trials and was smudged, bent, and tattered; its black band was ripped in several places, but he cared not. He had earned the respect of his uncle enough to be entrusted with such a relic, and he was not about to give it up any time soon. It was his, all his, and nothing, absolutely nothing, not even God himself, could separate him from the hat. He wondered if his strong attachment to the hat, an attachment unrivaled by any emotions he felt toward even his auntie or uncle, was a byproduct of his extreme emotions and should be dealt with, and he had contemplated the idea of leaving behind the hat as a first step in overcoming and taming his emotions, but he could not. Something told him the attachment would be the last emotion he would be able to overcome. First, he was to work on his anger management.

          And work on his anger management he did. After having left the community without a goodbye other than a heartfelt and straight-to-the-point note in the simplest vocabulary he could muster -- speaking Tier C language almost felt like a completely other language when compared to all the books he had been accustomed to reading whose authors were Tier A –- he sat on the vast, deserted landscape and began to meditate. Closing his eyes, he breathed in slowly and let his mind wander far and wide. Every so often, an iris flower would surface from the shadows, but he was yet to decrypt the symbol that had been following him ever since his birth. There were not even any flowers being grown. They were in a desert after all. No, not they or them anymore, just him. Just him. He meditated and meditated, allowing his mind to eventually float upon pet peeves or arousing points of his. He reflected on all of them, asking himself why he was so angered and what he should do to quench the boiling inferno about to wreak havoc. He did so for days until he could not stand being without water nor food any longer. It was raiding time, the second phase of his training.

          He made his way to a village he knew the location of because one of its members had been dumb enough to forfeit the information after mere seconds of his interrogation, his team of raiders having been dealt with mere moments prior. He honed his anger, controlling it so his anger could be used as a weapon. No longer did his tantrums consist of throwing objects around the house, punching the sand maniacally, and shouting obscenities at the sky; his wrath had purpose now. His agility, stamina, and strength multiplied, allowing him to maneuver around the spears and clubs and axes and plows and scythes… His bruises and cuts would not faze him, allowing him to relentlessly knock anyone out regardless of how badly they damaged him. Part of his training, of his anger management, was also preventing the slaughter he had caused, the massacre that had unsettled everyone in his village, the bloodshed that resulted from his unreined indignation, by vowing to himself not to kill a single soul, if possible. All he had to do was knock them out, to incapacitate them momentarily, long enough for him to freely raid a small portion of their food and water supply, just enough for a decent meal, a meal no larger than what he was used to but one that he would have to find a way to keep him alive until he found another village and meditated further.

          Thus was his routine for a long, long time: a single man pillaging unsuspecting peoples, peoples that would not sustain any more than two casualties or five major injuries. His irascibility had been refined, and he was satisfied. In a similar fashion, through meditation and forcing himself into dire situations, he was able to harness his melancholia, perturbation, egomania, and much more. Despite all his days that dragged on to weeks that dragged on to months, despite all his suffering and conditioning, he could not for the life of him cast aside his straw hat. It remained glued to his head, and whenever a gust of wind would send it flying, he would scamper for it without thinking twice, as if by instinct, as if the straw hat were his lifeline, his soul, his raison d’être. Unfortunately, he was reaching the end of his rope.

          He had not been able to find another village in more than just a few days. He could have easily retraced his steps to the village he had last raided, his Spatial Contextual Awareness was rather competent, but he had been satisfied with the way he had been able to improve himself, to rectify the retched seed his father had spawned, and wished no longer to continue. He had accomplished all his goals. As he gripped his hat tightly against his chest and fell to his knees, his stomach and entire body ached tremendously. He lay on the scorching sand and sighed. Alas, he could never, with his vast knowledge, understand what his father had hoped his offspring would deliver, but he cared not anymore. He closed his eyes, fully prepared to never open them again, but suddenly he heard a soft sizzling. Somehow, he knew from that sound what to expect if he were to raise his head and snap open his eyes. As he had somehow expected, the eerie figure of a cloaked robot had materialized before him. It levitated, its blaring, red eyes glowing straight into his. It growled, floating half a meter above the ground, the cloak dangling loosely. It raised its hands slightly, its right hand missing a finger.

          Its eyes turned blue. It began to whimper like a dog being reprimanded by its owner as iris flowers began to bloom all round it. The irises were somehow just as menacing as the cloaked robot and its long, long fingers, but they did not remain for long. As quickly as the robot’s eyes had turned blue, its blue eyes snapped back to red, its whimpers morphed into growls once more, and the irises withered into dust. The robot rushed straight at him and was mere seconds from penetrating his skull with its index finger when everything around him turned black.

          Utterly dazed by what had just transpired, he could not stabilize his breathing as quickly as he had expected from his training. He quickly darted his eyes everywhere, but everything was dark. All he could feel was a low rumbling. He redundantly closed his eyes as to focus on the rumbling, and sadness began to unravel. The rumbling was emitting sadness, as if communicating with him via emotions and emotions alone. No words were communicated between him and the rumbling, but he understood everything. The rumbling was apologizing, apologizing for its incompetence, apologizing for the torment that he had gone through. At first, he thought the rumbling was his father -– after all, who else had caused him to suffer? But then a faint glow oozed through his closed eyelids, and a beautiful, mesmerizing iris flower, the same one his mother had tucked behind his ear, glowed in front of him. It had dew on it, and a water droplet slid down the flower’s violet pedals. His romantic side could not help but conclude that the flower was weeping, weeping for its incompetence. He truly felt as though he had to apologize, to console, but he could not bring himself to do so. He was still too shocked and baffled by the recent bizarre events to do much of anything. Suddenly, the iris began to wither, and with the withering came a deluge of sorrow so extreme it shadowed the sorrow he had once deemed insuperable -– the sorrow of losing his mother. The iris was crying out without making a single sound apologies he could not convey he was accepting with open arms. The iris was moments away from completely withering, its violet pedals having turned dark and dilapidated, its stem having hunched over in agony, and the last emotion he felt right before waking up in a cold laboratory room with no recollection of anything that had transpired inside the broken capsule from which he had been saved by a complete stranger nor any of his adventures in Texel from the moment he woke up in a beautiful field to the moment he was attacked by a cloaked Exo was abandonment. He had been abandoned. He had lost something deep inside of him that he had not realized he had had but then was nothing but a gaping void inside his heart and mind.

          He snapped his eyes open and a tremendous agony sieged his soul, his very core. He sprung to his feet instinctively, bellowing “IT HURTS, MAMA, IT HURTS!” as loud as his parched throat allowed him to. He did not even have time to register his surroundings. He flailed his arms and stepped back, distancing himself from the shadow in front of him, the shadow that had been mere moments away from touching him. A searing pain had overtaken his left arm, and there was nothing in his mind but the yearning for deliverance from the anguish. Exasperatedly, he reached for the closest object by his feet and began to flail it around to keep the countless shadows before him at bay. Still screaming, he realized that he was holding the perfect weapon for extinguishing his pain -– a gun. He gripped the gun tightly and moved his finger to where he suspected the trigger was and ignored any and all supplications being dribbled by the closest shadow. He shouted “IT HURTS, MAMA, IT HURTS!” once more, grit his teeth, and pulled the trigger, blasting his left arm into nothing but bloody bits and a cauterized stump. The pain and bewilderment were too much for his mind to handle any longer and he dropped the weapon, fell down to his knees, faceplanted onto the cold, wet floor, and passed out.