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To Become a Defender

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          His master did not say an elaborate departure; in fact, the only signs of his master having told him goodbye before he left for good were a nod and a half-smile. He understood, however, that his master’s sorrow was not due to his departure but rather what the stranger had told him. His master had abused him the first week, sure, but his master did not deserve to have been scolded so harshly, especially after his master had tried so hard not to do so again. But what did he know about morals? He barely knew anything about the world, let alone what the leaders deemed justice.

          “Alright, I will set up my Pavilion here. Time to meet my band, little one,” the stranger said. “Oh, before I do so, my name is Eveline.” Eveline extended a hand for a handshake, which he gladly shook. “I almost forgot you did not have contacts with which to read my bio. Now it is your turn, Mr. Not-A-Defender-Therefore-Not-In-The-Goddamn-Database-Like-Everyone-Else.” His eyes widened and smiled. The irony had finally sunk in. “What is so funny, kid?”

          “Remember how I laughed at you for never asking yourself why everyone spoke your language? Well, seems I am just as absent-minded. In the weeks since I woke up, I have never tried to remember my own name, and now such a thing has become nearly impossible. I never thought about needing it.”

          “Are you seriously telling me you do not have a name?”

          “Sure am.”

          “Well… how about Master?”

          “Why so?”

          “Well, you kept calling H your master, but it is about time you gain some autonomy, do you not think so? After I am done with you, I will let you wander around this planet as a defender like any Human should. You shall one day become a master over your own life.” Master looked at Eveline with a puzzled expression and sighed. Not only had H changed in personality drastically by going from a dominant, strong individual to a passive, scared boy, but Eveline changed from an aggressive jerk to an understanding and, dare Master say, helpful friend. Master wondered if every Human changed personalities that often and if he was an outlier for remaining static.

          Master watched intently as Eveline pulled out a small pouch from his back pocket and dug his entire hand inside. After some rummaging, Eveline pulled out a somewhat flattened piece of cloth. He set the cloth on the ground and pressed a button on his tablet, expanding the cloth into a tent.

          “See, that’s something I never fully understood. You’re telling me H has been shrinking down his Pavilion to the point of allowing him to stuff the entire thing inside his pouch, a pouch of that size, yet I have stayed inside that Pavilion and never felt claustrophobic. Care to explain how the hell I don’t get crushed every time he does so?” Master inquired.

          Eveline looked at him and chuckled. “Sometimes, I ask myself whether or not you are a Tier C because you sure look and act like it at times, but moments like this, moments when you ask complicated questions no Tier C would ever even fathom, let alone articulate, reassure me that I was correct in taking you under my wing. I always knew you had potential.” Always, he says. “Anyway, the technology involved in creating something such as a seemingly bottomless pouch and a pavilion that can be crushed from the outside without crushing the inside is a very… cumbersome… topic. How can I word it…” Before Eveline continued, Master had already deduced that Eveline would try his best to answer honestly but also not seem ignorant to the technicalities he obviously did not comprehend. Master did not blame him. Eveline was still a Tier B no matter how much he stated he was basically a Tier A, and such science was probably left to the Elites, the Tier A, the ones who probably sent all those messages in the tablet and the ones in positions of power.

          “Explaining this to someone whose current knowledge you do not know is difficult to say the least, so do you mind if I ask you some questions as to gauge your current understanding?”

          “Why not?”

          Eveline shook his head in disbelief, as if he were having a hard time grasping the situation. Master tried being on Eveline’s shoes. Eveline thought of Master as a Tier C, so of course Eveline would shake his head in disbelief. Master could not even begin to guess how it would feel to teach someone whom he had always grown up to believe was no smarter than a sea sponge complicated science even he had trouble grasping. “Great. Are you familiar with one of the greatest scientists of this generation: Doctor Oolongty? I would be surprised, since his discoveries were rather recent.”

          “In what world is that a Human name?”

          “You would be surprised as to what Tier A call themselves. Anyway, I will take that as a no and ask this in turn: are you familiar with non-Euclidean geometry?”

          “Now that I do know, though not a whole lot, just the little I remember. If I can’t even remember my name, hopefully you can forgive me for not remembering anything about such a thing other than how it’s basically geometry in a non-flat plane.”

          “Correct. That’s how you get a triangle with all three angles being right angles and whatnot, but I will not go into the details. What you need to know is that many centuries ago, a guy named Einstein decided it would be a bright idea to start meddling with his theory of Space-Time and the bending of the universe. It was amazing, for his time.”

          “I am also aware of the Einstein fellow. Mass bends the universe, which just lends itself into using non-Euclidean geometry.”

          “Correct. The point I am trying to get at is that no one really understood how to harness non-Euclidean space to its fullest potential except in computer simulations that would cut corners and make it visually feasible but not physically until Einstein’s theories of relativity began to crumble under the pressure of other, better theories. It has been a long journey of constant debunking and refining until we finally got to the likes of Dr. Oolongty. Him and many other scientists proposed crazy ideas, some which were discarded but some which were accepted. Amongst these ideas were breakthroughs in non-Euclidean constructs that paved way to technology such as the Pavilion.”

          “Constructing an object that is small on the outside but huge on the inside sounds like a dream. You could have an entire country the size of a town!”

          “Yes, that was probably also played around with, although I doubt the research went far considering Oolongty had made advancements in the field not even a lustrum ago. Thing is, even if we could have theoretically crammed the entire planet’s population into less than half of it, no good would have come out of such an action because space was never as much of a problem with overpopulation as was the lack of resources to sustain life. And no, I am not only talking about food, because if that were the case, perhaps creating massive plantations and then shrinking them inside one of these ‘Pavilions’ for lack of a better metaphor or hell, converting the unoccupied half of the planet that would have been cleared up thanks to these non-Euclidean countries into country-sized farms, would have probably alleviated the overpopulation crisis. No, the major problem with overpopulation was the ever-mushrooming ideologies that would relentlessly rip Humanity at the seams! Wars left and right killing tens of millions of people like it were nothing. Hard to believe overpopulation was still a crisis with so many deaths. If anything, non-Euclidean technology was better-suited for shrinking down the heaps of corpses salvaged from the battlegrounds.”

          “I don’t know… Non-Euclidean technology seems kind of broken. Wouldn’t you theoretically be able to stuff a Pavilion inside a Pavilion inside a Pavilion and create infinite space?”

          “Quite the perceptive one, are you not? Thing is, you cannot do that. Non-Euclidean technology breaks apart if you try doing so, kind of like if you tried to make a projectile launch faster than the speed of light by launching it from a rocket that was already going at near the speed of light, if that makes any sense to you.”

          “Hm, I guess that’s good enough. We both are out of our league and half of what you said is probably speculation and not fact.” Eveline was about to argue but stopped himself. Instead, Eveline nodded his head slowly in shame.

          “Correct. I tried feigning knowledge on the matter but more than half of what I said is more opinion than fact. Let us end this pointless discussion on that note and enter the Pavilion, shall we?”  Master nodded with an understanding smile and walked inside to greet the many patient aliens that had been quietly eavesdropping on their conversation. Master was pleasantly surprised by how different Eveline’s roster was than H’s. He did not see a single one of the blue-skinned ladies anywhere, but he did see the fire-bird he had nearly killed a long time back.

          “Alright, gang, I introduce to you my new pal, Master. He will be living with you all while I try to teach him how to be a strong and independent defender. He cannot understand any of you, however, so do not expect to have any meaningful conversations outside of mere gestures,” Eveline announced. A very old-looking, yellow-haired woman wearing a violet dress walked forth carrying a tall, yellow staff with a skull on top. She stared at Master for a long time and spoke to Eveline. “I do not really know why, but Master here does not have everything automatically-translated to a language he can understand. He hears your native language.” Eveline continued by explaining to them all how each one of them apparently had a distinct language that he was somehow able to hear as English, a Human language. The old lady that had walked forth responded with a single word. “Wait, you think the iris has something to do with this?” Eveline remained silent for a while in deep thought before reaching a eureka moment.

          “That must be it!” he shouted. “The iris is some sort of deity, Master. I am not sure if you are familiar with the concept. To these Texeli, the iris is a goddess of some sort that brought us Humans here to Texel in order to fight back an invasion from robotic beasts known as Exos. The iris, as a god, could theoretically allow us to understand each other through divine magic. Reminds me of that old religion with the one guy that forced people to speak different languages so they could not understand each other. If our ancient ancestors came up with the idea of a god that could create a bunch of languages, what is there to stop this god from unifying everyone, right?” Master was not quite sure if he followed, but at that moment he had no better theory to even entertain so he nodded his head hesitantly. The old lady stared at Master for a while longer, and he noticed that others were staring at him in the same manner, mostly wizard-looking folk. Their stares were not the same stares of curiosity as everyone else’s but rather a stare of déjà-vu. Could they have known him from way back, back before he lost his memory? He prayed to the iris to grant him the ability to understand the Texeli language, but his prayers went unheeded for a long time.

          Aside from the awkward introduction, the evening was full to the brim with commotion and laughter as Eveline decided to throw a seemingly never-ending welcome party. Bitter after Bitter, Nux after Nux, and even a few Human dishes like salad and sandwiches, albeit made from Texeli ingredients, were stuffed down his throat by his uncontrollable arm. As the party finally began to die down, Master was left wondering what the future held for him, hoping that maybe, just maybe, a day would come when the iris granted him the ability to understand all languages. Maybe that was just a defender’s privilege and he would need to first learn how to be one before having any hope of earning it.