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To Become a Defender

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          He was not let out of the tent, but he was not treated like a punching bag either. His master had actually apologized to him for having used him as such the first week after he woke up, but he did not understand why his master had apologized. As far as he knew, he had no greater purpose. Alas, he now had a ton of free time and freedom to investigate the entirety of the tent without being worried about guards keeping him trapped in his little corner. He waved casually at all the Texeli that were loitering inside and made his way to a shelf full of books. Deep in his hazy memories, he could almost remember a library, one much, much bigger than the one before him, but the memory was too hazy to fully establish. The memory was more of a distant, faint nagging than an actual memory.

          He grabbed a random book and flipped to a random page. Unfortunately, the book was written in a foreign language he could not even begin to decipher. If he had to compare the language to any earthly ones, he would best describe the language as a Frankenstein’s monster birthed from Sanskrit and Kanji. He rummaged through all the books on the shelf until he found one with images. The images, of course, had labels, headings, and footnotes all in the awkward language, but the illustrations almost spoke for themselves. They were anatomical drawings. Every time he found a diagram, he would look about him to see if the creature on the page just so happened to be inside the tent. Most were not, unfortunately, but some, such as the white knight with the dragon or the bird made of blue flames, were near-perfect replicas of the illustrations. He was transfixed by the artist’s competence. The illustrations could almost pass for photos!

          After having done so for every illustration on the book, he attempted to scavenge for another book with illustrations; to his utter dismay, there were none. He sat, bored, for a long time. A full day, in fact. Eventually, he remembered that his master always carried with him a device with a screen on it -- a tablet of sorts. Although his master occasionally took the device with him outside the tent, his master would always leave the device resting on one of the shelves during the night. Curiosity ate away at his soul; in order to alleviate the anguish, he decided to remain awake way past his curfew and slowly creep his way toward the tablet. Unlike all the other books, the tablet was not made of paper. With a child’s mischievous smile, he began to look for anything he could understand.

          There was not much he could understand, sadly. The only languages he was fluent in were English and Spanish. Aside from that, he could only catch a few French, Russian, German, and Japanese words. Even so, he distinguished many more languages in the tablet. Cyrillic, Latin, Sanskrit, Chinese, Runic, and so many other alphabets, each one with their own entries. He could not grasp why there were so many languages, but he understood less how his master could comprehend all of them. His master would need to know about twenty to comprehend every entry!

          He spent nearly the entire night searching for a Spanish or English entry until finally he stumbled upon an English one. Gleefully, he began to whisper the entry out loud:

          “Agents Taurus and Feyk have placed a one million (1.000.000) Texi bounty on a Human by the name of Qavl. He escaped custody after having his title as a Defender unofficially revoked following an incident in which he incited a violent confrontation between himself and another Defender, thereby violating the law. If anyone encounters Qavl, described as a short, weak Tier C with curly, light-brown hair and heavily-damaged eyes, attempt to capture at your own peril and report to authorities immediately. Do not underestimate him for being Tier C.”

          Someone in the tent groaned, and he decided to turn off the tablet, place it where he found it, and sleep for good before his out-loud reading woke anybody up. Many thoughts running inside his head kept him awake, however. He did not know how much one could buy with a million Texi, but he understood that Qavl, whoever he was, would prove challenging to capture. The message said “at your own peril,” after all. He reminded himself that he had to scroll a long time until he found the message, meaning that if the messages were sorted chronologically, the message must have been sent a long time prior. For all he knew, whoever that Qavl guy was had already been captured and the bounty rewarded.

          For the entirety of the following day, he could not shake off the feeling he had experienced when he found the English message, the feeling of having become whole, the feeling of having discovered a long-lost fragment of his being. He had gone so long without being able to understand what anybody had been stating and only understanding his own inner thoughts that he had been moments away from growing insane. He craved to read more English entries, so he stayed awake every night since then scrolling through the seemingly endless sea in hopes of unearthing another English one. He found two more messages before the week ended.

          One of the additional messages was short and sweet. The entry had only been a reminder for all Defenders to collect the gifts from “The Almighty Lemon,” which made him chuckle to himself as he let his imagination run wild over what the message could have possibly been referring to. He was aware that the most likely answer was the yellow structure he had seen his master summon and the one that fabricated Texeli from within itself, but where was the fun in admitting such a boring reality?

          The second message was significantly longer and one of the very first to ever be sent. In fact, so old was the message that he would not be surprised if the message had been used to test whether or not the device functioned as planned. The test message read as such:

          Hello, Defenders. Welcome to Texel. Welcome to Paradise. Unfortunately, we were not brought here to enjoy such luxury, we were brought here to preserve, protect, defend. As much as it pains us to admit it, welcome to war. Fight with everything you have to the sweet, sweet end, for Humanity has just received a do-over, a reset button, a second chance, but we must fight for that rebirth. Once we are done here, once we exterminate all these metal pests, we can indulge ourselves in this new world. Imagine the possibilities! Forget Earth, Texel is the future. Ironic, how we aimlessly sought out the stars, but the stars found us. Do not let this opportunity go to waste, do not grow idle, stagnant, passive. Remain steadfast in the ultimate goal: the continuation of the Human race.

          He sighed. Even with such a long passage, he was not any closer to understanding his situation than before. He had woken up a long, long time prior, yet he had remained stagnant in his knowledge of the world. Why could he alone not understand anyone? All that talk about Earth and Humanity and starting anew… he could not understand. To him, it sounded as though everyone had been fighting the massive, golden women in order to take over the world. Were they really the defenders? Had he just read completely corrupt propaganda to make Humanity look like the heroes when they were all actually the antagonists? He was beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, those golden women had been the residents of the planet all along and were being eradicated to make room for Humanity.  That thought sent a shiver down his back, and he decided to stop thinking for the time being. He needed to find more information, more evidence, more perspectives, but he could not do so while only knowing English.

          Having exhausted all the English material he could find took a toll on him. He remained sitting all day and night bored out of his mind. Nothing to do, nothing at all. He missed the first week after having woken up. He missed being used as a punching bag, as a slave, because back then he had a purpose, back then he had something to look forward to at the end of every day. He had become… attached… to that lifestyle, the lifestyle that had been stripped away abruptly after his master suddenly decided to change his attitude completely from an arrogant, frustrated jerk to a sympathetic, jolly man whose only wish was to make friends with him. He had believed that maybe, just maybe, a day would come when that man would become his master again, but that day never came. His “master” had changed.

          He shook his head and decided to stop pondering his situation any longer. There was no point. He needed to find some way to break away from the cycle. Everything was so boring, so boring, so unbearably boring. There was war going on but he would have had no idea if he had not read about it. Painfully boring. Where was the action? Where was the bloodbath? Where were the heroes? Unbelievably boring. The same thing day in and day out. So, so boring.

          He became more and more impatient, more and more whiny, more and more intolerable. He began to groan out loud in hopes of his master growing frustrated and resuming his beatings but to no avail. His master would try the hardest possible to ignore him. What had he done to deserve respect? He wanted to be punished, not treated as a peer!

          Alas, time dragged on and on and on. He remembered the message on the tablet, the one that warned not to grow “idle, stagnant, passive.” He wanted something extraordinary to happen, yet had taken no steps toward making that extraordinary something happen. Had he enough courage to escape the tent? Had he enough courage to abandon his master, his shelter, his home and explore the unknown? What would happen if he encountered the golden women? What would happen when he grew hungry or thirsty? What would happen if…

          He decided to take a break from puzzling over absolutely everything. He was beginning to bore himself with all his thoughts, thoughts that were mostly wishful thinking, thoughts that only dragged on and on, achieving nothing but keeping him idle, stagnant, passive. He needed to act, not think. He needed to make something happen, not imagine it happening. He needed to forsake everything about the couple weeks following his awakening and start anew, like the message had said Humans were trying to do, except he was not going to wait until the stars found him; he was going to find the stars.