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To Become a Defender

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          “Alright, Master, here’s the deal,” Eveline began very early in the morning following the night of over-indulgence that most likely destroyed him economically. He had also told Master to wait outside while he said goodbye to fellow Texeli before strengthening his band. “This war is composed of waves of Exos. For basically an entire week, these Exos bombard us relentlessly with everything they currently have. After we defenders annihilate all their warriors, the Exos usually give up and no major waves show up for another two weeks as they try to innovate their weaponry. During those two weeks, we also attempt to improve ourselves by either raiding dungeons to loot as much gear as we possibly can or we hold a somewhat friendly competition against each other to establish who is more worthy of recruiting the Texeli that have crawled out of the woodworks and have decided to join the war. Rather systematic, if you ask me, which is quite ironic. There is so much order in the chaos of this war that sometimes I lay awake, unsettled, wondering when the routine we have so strongly held dear will shatter. I always dread a surprise attack during one of the weeks we are trying to recuperate.”

          “So, what will this week hold for us?” Master asked.

          “If everything goes as planned, sometime today, everyone’s tablets will ring the moment the next War Game begins. War Games are the friendly competitions I mentioned earlier. The moment the tablet rings, we shall travel together so I can guide you through the process, hence why I woke you up early to discuss all of this.” Before their discussion could continue, a Texeli approached them. He was one of the Humanoid ones, but Master was still not able to tell if the Texeli happened to be Hemi or Xana. The Texeli wore red armor and carried around a pair of chains Master assumed were used as whips of some sort. He circled around Master, analyzing him intensely.

          “What’s your problem, Thesanthei?” Eveline asked. The Texeli stopped circling Master and answered. “Are you sure?” Thesanthei nodded. “So, what about it? …  This better be good, or else you would be wasting both my and Master’s time, understood? … You better not be lying either.” After the discussion, Eveline turned to Master and explained that “Thesanthei would like to talk to you, so I shall serve as his translator. Supposedly, he has something he has been dying to figure out, and only you are able to answer him, somehow.” Master was just as puzzled as Eveline but agreed. “Alright, what do you want me to tell him?”

          “Master, do you remember anything that happened inside the laboratory?” Eveline translated.

          “Which laboratory? I do not remember any,” Master replied.

          “None? None at all? Does a capsule with yellow liquid ring a bell? What about an Exo gun?”

          “No, sorry.”

          “Whenever he is built by the divine totem, his newest Self retains all the memories from all his previous Selves. He remembers H. H was the one who built him when he was overcome by an irrational rage, as if the iris herself had urged the demon within him to erupt and beckoned him to travel all the way to his birthplace. What he is trying to say is that the iris wanted H to find you and take you under his wing, at least long enough for me to find you.” Eveline stopped translating and turned to Thesanthei. “Wait, but why would the iris pick H of all people if he does not even speak English. Would it not have been better for me to go? … Cut that crap about ‘the iris works in mysterious ways’; that is probably the weak argument that propelled Earth into secularism. What could be so advantageous about having H find Master? Or perhaps the iris did not know that Master would wake up so braindead … So, you are telling me you had to travel far to get to the base, huh… that clears up some things. If you had to travel far, then clearly not any defender closer to the base would have sufficed. It must have been H and H alone. But what about H… what about him caught the iris’ attention…”

          “I may not remember the lab, but my memories start with my waking up inside his Pavilion. He had been mad at me for not living up to his expectations, as if my inability to understand his language somehow disappointed him. After that, he became enraged and used me as a punching bag for a week before he stopped and never laid a single hand on me again. Maybe the iris wanted me to be abused for that initial week.”

          “I do not know, Master. Why would a god want to make you suffer for an entire week? Was stripping you of your memories not enough? Hell, was stripping away your ability to communicate with Texeli not enough? Thesanthei, do you remember anything that happened in the laboratory?” Eveline once again began to translate for him.

          “All he remembers before having been built is reuniting with H after having gone inspecting the laboratory by himself. When they reunited, H had salvaged you from deep underground. That is when H told him that he had found your body inside a capsule with yellow liquid, the capsules used to extract dots from Texeli. The capsule was not working, however, so you had been floating in the unrecycled liquid for who knows how long. You also shot your arm with a weapon you found on the floor because you said, quote on quote, ‘it hurts, Mama,’ or something to that effect. Do you really not remember anything?”

          “I wish I could say I do, but nothing rings a bell. If what Thesanthei is saying is true, however, then now I know what happened to my arm. I blew it up. I am to blame. Everything is on me. I am the monster.”

          “Calm down, drama queen,” Eveline interrupted. “Listen, I have no idea what truly happened, but how did you even get inside the capsule in the first place? I am beginning to think that you may not even be Human. Found in an Exo laboratory with no memories of a past life but somehow enough knowledge to have known about Einstein and Non-Euclidean Geometry? Not to mention your lexicon and critical thinking? As far as I know, you were created by Exos purposefully to look like a Human but in reality, you are nothing more than one of their pawns. You are a spy!”

          “Don’t be ridiculous! How would Exos know about Einstein? That is solely engrained in Human history. Why would they know something exclusively Human?”

          “Oh, you are right. It seems that I jumped the gun there.”

          “Surely. You said the capsule drained the dots from Texeli, right? Well I am still here, so clearly, I am not made of dots. However, the liquid was still corrosive, toxic, or otherwise detrimental in nature, correct? We cannot rule out the possibility that whatever is able to extract dots from Texeli can somehow deteriorate a Human’s brain in such a way that it can lose all its memory.”

          “However, you did not lose all your-” Suddenly, a Texeli walked out of the Pavilion carrying Eveline’s tablet. Eveline thanked the Texeli and began to read the new message. “Thank you, Thesanthei, for enlightening us, even if just slightly, on Master’s condition. As a thank you, how would you like joining the band and using those whips of yours for some nice destruction?”

          After a while of walking, Eveline was confronted by another defender. She approached them without prying her eyes off Master. Even as she spoke, her eyes seemed anchored to Master’s face. “Who may this fellow be, Eveline,” she asked, showing her anger not through body language -– not even facial expressions -– but her tone. Her posture was the straightest amongst them all. Her face was stoic and frozen, only ever moving slightly to speak before assuming position once more. She sported an astonishing black business suit. Her dress shirt was pearly white with a dark-green tie tight around her neck. Her suit was obsidian black; same for her dress pants. Her shoes were so polished that despite their being even darker than the suit, the glare almost blinded Master. Her short, blonde hair was perfectly straight and extended just low enough to completely cover her nape. Because of her intense glare, Master was able to admire her beautiful, dark-green eyes. In fact, Master noticed that her tie was the same color.

          “Calm down, Taurus. He is with me.”

          “Missing identification. Explain yourself immediately.”

          “I know how suspicious it is for me to be accompanied by a Human who is not officially a defender and therefore not logged in the database; however, there is a good reason for such a jarring discrepancy in the otherwise perfect world.” Eveline chuckled for an almost negligible instant before continuing. “He is of an unknown Tier. I say this because he shows signs of having at least B2 knowledge despite his Tier C appearance and mannerisms. He has no recollection of his past, however intel from Thesanthei has revealed that another defender, current name Handsome, salvaged him from inside an abandoned Exo laboratory.”

          “How come he has no recollection of his past but retains B2 knowledge?” Once again, Master noticed that her expression and body had remained the exact same during the entire conversation, yet her tone had grown more contemptuous.

          “I wish I had an answer for that, Taurus. I am currently trying to teach him some of the basics of what we defenders do to better prepare him for what lies ahead.”

          “What lies ahead? As far as I am concerned, this fool deserves no future.” She calmly pulled her sleeve back and stretched her wrist. What was she planning?

          “What lies ahead is a new soldier to support the war effort, Taurus. Do you not trust me? Have I not earned your trust? Have I not killed enough to warrant the benefit of the doubt?”

          “I acknowledge your fealty and efficiency thus far; however, I do not comprehend why you have chosen him as a pupil. Not once have any officers reported such an incident. Why shall I grant you permission to be the first defender to instruct an unregistered Human?”

          “Because…” Eveline fell silent as he brainstormed possible logical reasons. As Eveline brainstormed, Taurus remained staring at Master with disdain.

          In order to break the silence, Master stated “you speak English too” with a tone of awe. For the first time since they met, her lips seemed to have flashed the slightest and quickest of smiles. She then spoke in another language, which Master assumed was directed at him. Unfortunately, he did not understand what she said, but he could formulate his best guess for what language she spoke. Before he could say “German,” however, Eveline quickly interjected by spouting “because with enough training, Master here will not only be able to command Texeli to victory no problem, but perhaps even succeed me.”

          “Your reason is extremely inadequate and unrealistic. I shall make an exception, however, and grant you permission to train him under the condition that he be officially registered as a defender and added into the database. I shall add him myself, but first I shall test his abilities as I would have done in the original War Game. Conveniently, we are currently participating in one. Prepare yourself, unregistered Human.” She stepped back to join her band of nine Texeli. Very intimidating Texeli at that.

          “Oh boy,” Eveline sighed. “Your training is not going as planned at all. What were the chances of stumbling upon Taurus of all people? Regardless, Master, listen to me. You will have to fight her one on one using my band. You will command them to victory. Beat her band to the ground, understood?”

          “But I have no idea how to command!”

          “No buts. If you do not prove yourself right here, right now, she will eliminate you.” Master gulped. “Here, have my contacts.” Eveline looked at the sky, opened his left eye wide with his fingers, and was about to scoop out his eye before Master shouted at him “what the hell are you doing!” Master shut his eyes and looked the other way. “Calm down, Master. They are just my contacts. Here, put them on.” Master slowly opened his eyes and noticed that Eveline was holding out two small cups in his hand.

          “These go on your eye?” Master asked.

          “You do not know what contacts are?”

          “No…”

          “Just… allow me to put them on you, then.” Eveline tilted back Master’s head and placed the contacts on Master’s erratically shaking eyes. After a lot of struggling and squirming, Master finally had the contacts on.

          “Woah!” Master gasped as he began to see words flash in front of him. He looked at Eveline, and beside his head read:

Nombre: Eveline

Edad: 18

Nivel: B1

Pts: 0

Rango: Pre

          Out of curiosity, he turned his head to read the woman’s “bio”:

Nombre: Taurus

Edad: 28

Nivel: A4

Pts: 1843

Rango: IX

          As interesting as finding out what their information was, he was more interested in how everything was in Spanish. Of course, to Eveline, everything was most likely in English. He was not sure whether Taurus read everything in German or English, but he was too scared to ask. Not that Taurus intimidated him or anything, but Master remembered how Eveline purposefully interrupted him before he was able to admit that he knew she was speaking German. Perhaps Eveline did not want Taurus to know his ability.

          “Please, begin posthaste. I must advance to the Brackets,” Taurus insisted sternly. Master began to sweat profusely and looked at Eveline. Eveline looked back and nodded.

          “Believe in yourself, Master.”