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To Become a Defender

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           He began to pick at his nails with his teeth absent-mindedly as he stared at a group of knights conversing about who-knows-what in yet another boring, boring day inside the tent with nothing to do, nothing to see, and nothing to experience. Just boredom. By that point, he had begun to question how he had survived so long without any excitement, without any dopamine, without anything. He had even purposefully acted up and bothered his master so he could receive a beating, but his master resisted time and time again. His finger began to bleed, but even that was boring. He stared as the drop of blood left a trail down his finger ever so slowly, traversing through the barren landscape and coloring a red line much like a slug would. Once the drop waned to the point of not moving any farther, he sighed loudly and leaned against the side of the tent. He wanted anything, ANYTHING, to happen. He would even be satisfied with one of the golden women, whom he still had not decisively ruled out as the good guys all along, raiding the tent and killing every single soul, ripping everyone to shreds and decorating the interior with the beautiful, crimson red that had colored the side of his hand not so long prior to his wishful thinking.

          His wish for excitement was soon granted, to his utter surprise. His master barged into the tent shouting orders at everyone in a low voice, as if yelling in a whisper. He did not understand why anyone would shout softly when one could simply just speak normally, but he noticed that everyone inside the tent began scattering wildly regardless. He saw one of the knights point at him and beckon him over, but he ignored the knight. Why should he move? Not like anything his master had screamed had been directed specifically at him. He deemed the knight an annoying pest and was about to turn his head when one of the blue angels extended her arms out and smiled at him seductively. He was confused. Was she trying to flirt with him despite never having done so before and when everyone was running amok in fear of whatever his master had said? She smiled even more sweetly, and he questioned the peculiar scenario no longer. He stood up and ran with his own arms extended. He cared not for what was happening about him; his mind was solely focused on making a beeline for the heavenly hug.

          Right before he made contact with the damsel, however, one of her copies ambushed him from behind and trapped him in a full nelson. He chuckled nervously and asked “so… what do you ladies have in store for me?” before a third copy swung her staff against his solar plexus at full force. The copy holding him from behind let him go, and he dropped to his knees ready to puke. As he was attempting to regain his breath, the first copy grabbed him by the neck and slammed him inside a dark, dark box. She shut the box and left him wheezing in the dark. He pounded on the lid but one of the copies made the universally understood “shh” sound to get him to shut up, and he did. Lost as to what could possibly be going on, he remained sitting in a very awkward position inside the tiny box waiting for any auditory cues.

          “Nice place you got here, H,” a stranger stated. His heart skipped a beat. Someone just showed up who could speak English! An English speaker! At last, at long last, someone whom he could understand, someone who could help him finally understand everything, the key to his salvation! And his master was hiding the key from him! How despicable, how utterly despicable. He banged on the lid of the box, but it would not budge. “Did I just here something?” the stranger asked. His master angrily answered the stranger, and the stranger responded to his master’s spiel with a calm “well excuse me for not wanting to say your full name, Handsome, but it’s your fault for making your name so narcissistic and awkward for me to say. Also, do not pretend like you did not hear my question.”

          He wanted to see the stranger so badly that he resumed punching the lid of the box despite the detrimental unintended consequences that were about to unravel. He heard the stranger laugh. “Alright, H, that is quite enough. Move over and order your minions to do the same. You do not want to be on my bad side.” After his master’s babbling on for a short while, he heard a loud thud as if a body had been slammed against the ground and the collective gasps of everyone in the tent. The stranger began to approach him as he heard a bunch of shuffling -- everyone must have been paving way for the stranger.

          “So, H, time to see what you have been hiding inside this utterly innocuous and unsuspicious armory.” The stranger swung the lid of the box wide open and could not help but gasp. The stranger’s bewildered expression soon turned into a wide smile. “H, H, H!” the stranger shouted. “You have outdone yourself! I expected a beautiful Hemi locked away as your sex slave, but what am I greeted with instead? A damn Human. A Human!” The stranger slapped his own knee and bent down to take a closer look at the Human. “Wait a second. You are not registered in the database. Just who are you?”

          He could not help it; he could not resist it. Deep within him, the urge to strangle the stranger with the strongest of hugs exploded out of him. Before he knew it, he had jumped forth and embraced the stranger as snuggly as he could. As if possessed by a child, he also shouted “Mama!” as tears began to form and trickle down his cheeks. The stranger quickly broke away from the hold and kicked him inside the armory. The stranger’s face contorted in utter disgust and abhorrence.

          “Lord almighty!” the stranger shouted, slowly regaining his composure. After having done so, the stranger let out a deep breath and grabbed him by the neck, yanking him from the box. “Listen here, you insufferable vermin, I do not care if this utter buffoon protected you all this time, I am not going to tolerate a god-forsaken Tier C polluting this planet and freeloading off a defender!” The stranger tightened his grip, and he realized that the stranger was not choking him to punish him but rather to permanently kill. He began to struggle, flailing his legs and arm, but the stranger stared at him entirely repulsed by the idea that such a creature had managed to survive on the planet for so long. Thankfully, his master grabbed the stranger’s wrist and shouted at the stranger. The stranger loosened his grip but did not let go. Instead, the stranger used him as a weapon with which to slap his master across the face. How could the stranger swing him about so effortlessly? As much as he was in pain, he could not help but admire the strength the stranger seemed to possess.

          “Goodbye, little pipsqueak,” the stranger told him, tightening his grip once again. He slapped the stranger’s arm several times, but the stranger only tightened his hold even more. At least he got what he wanted, at least something interesting happened, for he would much rather die like he was about to, with excitement and adrenaline, than die bored with nothing going on. His master had not given up, however, and punched the stranger in the stomach. The stranger bent over and let go of his throat, allowing him to catch his breath and scurry away. He had almost died!

          “Thank you, master!” he shouted.

          “Master?” the stranger repeated before breaking out in a fit of laughter. “So, he really is a slave. Color me surprised, H. I did not think you identified that way.” His master had had enough of the constant teasing and charged at the stranger. His master went for a kick to the head, but the stranger blocked and grabbed his master’s leg. “Tsk, tsk. Any other B1 may have been stopped by physical altercation, but I have been trained in man-on-man combat for occasions exactly such as this. I never expected you, H, to have harbored such a sin. You think you know someone. Granted, I have only known you for a couple weeks.”

          The stranger stared at his master’s knee and smiled. The stranger raised an arm, and he knew what the stranger was planning on doing. The stranger was about to hyperextend his master’s leg. Before the stranger was able to do so, the blue hand scuttled into position and intercepted the swing of the stranger’s fist. The hand began to diplomatically negotiate terms with the stranger, or so he thought, and the stranger let go of his master’s leg.

          “Alright, Zar. I will take your word for it. At least you know how to speak, unlike this cretin who only knows how to fight. Not like I expected any more from a lousy B4. All B4 are basically Tier C. When cornered all they know how to do is resort to punches. I could have your title as defender revoked, you know. Having attacked me, another defender in the process of eliminating a non-defender Tier C for whom you had been providing shelter without permission, breaks quite a few rules. Obstruction of justice is a serious offense, but I will let it slide if you explain yourself cordially. No punches, just you and me, sitting comfortably, perhaps drinking some Bitter. That would be nice, would it not?” His master stared daggers at the stranger but fetched a couple bottles of the green liquid anyway. He had no idea what he should be doing, so as the two of them spoke, he sat cross-legged on the ground beside them. Occasionally, the stranger would stare down at him as if he were a shit stain on a brand-new, multi-million-dollar rug.

          “I noticed your pet has quite a few bruises and lacerations decorating his basically nude body. Care to explain what you have been doing? … I see … Well, at least you are honest. I mean, B4 have to let out their frustrations one way or another, and since the law states you cannot attack another defender, the only logical solution would be to either abuse Texeli or somehow be lucky enough to find a random, non-defender Human. There have been many cases that I have come across in my policing of defenders abusing Texeli, but this is the first time I find a defender abusing a Human … I do not care one bit if you have not abused him in weeks, the fact of the matter is that you decided to keep an obviously-dysfunctional Tier C as your pet rather than kill him off as you should have done … I must kill your stress ball. You understand, do you not? … Oh please, enough with your whining. Why do you even want to keep that thing? As you said, you have not even used your stress ball in weeks … I think we are done here. You refuse to listen to reason, and I feel as though I am arguing with a wall. I will kill him, and there is nothing you can do about it. Keep in mind that I have the power to revoke your protection under the law by stripping you of your defender status. Do you seriously want to die alongside him? … Yeah, that is what I thought. That is the problem with all you B4 and Tier C. Why do you think the higher-ups decided to hold the first ever War Game? They knew that Tier C were not capable of controlling themselves, they knew that the only use for Tier C in combat is back on Earth where you could send them all on suicide missions without remorse. In my opinion, the higher-ups should have also given us permission to kill B4, since you all are so close to the same level of uncontrollable aggression and frustration. They had mercy on you, H. Lots of it. Do not take their mercy for granted.”

          The stranger turned to stare at him. “Ready to sleep, little guy?” A shiver ran down his back. The stranger, the only other being capable of speaking English, wanted nothing more than to kill him.

          “Please, I beg of you! Do not kill me! I have finally found someone else who can speak English! You do not comprehend how utterly devastated I have been for the past several weeks since I woke up without anyone to talk to or anything to read!” The stranger’s fake smile slowly became a frown.

          “What did you just say?”

          “A few weeks ago, I woke up with no memories and my master was kind enough to take me in, but I could not understand anyone, not even him. I tried reading some of the books I could find, but even the books were written in a weird language I had never seen before. Hell, the only things I was able to read were three entries in my master’s tablet thing, none of them which revealed to me much of anything other than a war of sorts.” The stranger sprawled across the ground and rubbed his eyes in disbelief. The stranger lay there, unmoving, staring upward for a long time as both his master and himself sat patiently awaiting the stranger’s belated response.

          “What the hell is going on today!” the stranger shouted at the top of his lungs. He slammed a fist against the ground and rose to a sitting position. “You expect me to believe that you have amnesia and cannot understand anything anyone says despite their speaking English too?” His master interjected with his own comment, to which the stranger replied “what do you mean you hear Filipino? I clearly hear and read English.”

          He could not help but burst out laughing. He laughed and laughed for what seemed like weeks. He laughed until his chest felt as though it would explode. “Are you telling me you have been on this planet for months and have been taking your ability to not only understand every Human you have come across but also this entirely undocumented alien species for granted the entirety of that time? You never asked yourselves once why that was the case? You just assumed the entire universe spoke your specific language?” His master and the stranger both stared at each other for some time before the stranger cleared his throat obnoxiously.

          “O-Of course not, you imbecile!” his shock seemed to be rapidly morphing into anger. “How dare you insinuate that I, a B1, could possibly lack critical thinking! I will let you know that unlike your useless master over here, I, basically a Tier A, am much, much brighter, much, much more sophisticated, much, much more civilized, and much, much more perceptive. Of course I thought about such an obvious peculiarity!”

          “If that is the case, then care to explain why you can hear and see English everywhere and I can’t? You’ve had months to ponder this ‘peculiarity,’ after all.”

          “The answer is obviously because you are a Tier C!” the stranger retorted, as if insulting him. “Just look at you! Frail, beaten, and amputated. Scars everywhere! You are the most hideous Tier C I have ever had the displeasure of seeing!” Everything the stranger had said about him was probably true, except for the answer to his question. He may not know anything about his past nor the present, but he could tell, from the stranger’s tone of voice, that the stranger doubted he was Tier C. If he was right, and Tier C meant the bottom of the barrel, the intellectually inferior, then no wonder the stranger doubted his own claim. He did not perceive himself as intellectually inferior. In the contrary, to have had such an oversight for months begged him to wonder whether he may be even more critically-thinking than the two of them. A smile involuntarily formed on his smug visage. “How dare you smile smugly, imbecile!” The stranger rose to his feet and was about to stomp on him when his master interrupted the stranger. The stranger calmed down and agreed with whatever his master had stated. “You are right, you are right. I am basically a Tier A, after all. I cannot be worked up over something as miniscule and insignificant as a Tier C pretending to be smart. A bitch in Human clothing is still nothing more than a groveling canine, after all.”

          There was silence for a while inside the tent. Even the aliens were silent. He looked behind him and noticed the blue triplets staring at him in awe, and he couldn’t stop himself from blushing. Had he impressed them? His master stated something, and the stranger continued the conversation, leaving him as a spectator once again. “H, you have made an interesting find … Ha, right … Oh no, no hard feelings. Except, I have a condition … Yes, a condition, a condition that will be very convenient to you, although it may not seem as such at first … Hey, at least let me tell you it before you start your lengthy monologue bashing it into smithereens … Ok, listen, we both know you are not entirely a saint, right? Let us revisit your sins, shall we? Obstruction of Justice, Harboring a Criminal, Antisocial Behavior … The hell do you mean? Are you trying to argue that keeping a Human as a pet to relentlessly abuse for days on end is not antisocial behavior? I was being nice by calling you antisocial, but clearly you do not want anything sugar-coated, psychopath … Well who are they going to believe, some random, narcissistic B4 who suspiciously changed his name in the records –- granted the previous name was utterly redundant and unoriginal and worthy of being changed as soon as possible –- or a trusted member of the police? … Will you let me continue? Thanks. As I was saying, the list of sins just expands evermore, so here is my deal. I shall pardon you of all the aforesaid sins and more if and only if you give me your pet.” The room remained silent once more as his master pondered the options.

          To him, the logical option was to hand him over to the stranger. The stranger seemed to hold a lot of power in whatever society had formed on the alien planet, and the stranger could easily overpower his master in a fight. If his master denied the stranger’s offer, not only would his master most certainly be prosecuted and deemed guilty, but the stranger would still take custody of him. His master looked down at him and he looked back at his master with a determined look, as if to tell his master that he was ready to be forfeited to the stranger’s whims.

          The blue hand told his master something, and the two of them had a short discussion before his master looked at the stranger and reluctantly nodded. “Amazing,” the stranger stated, “B4 are capable of deducing the correct answer! Good choice, H. Good choice.” Then the stranger turned to look at him with an uncharacteristically warm and welcoming gaze. He returned the smile, but unlike the stranger’s, his smile was genuine. Finally, the boredom was over.