Episode 2: The Preparation
The door closed behind him with a thud. Theovelt turned and watched the door vanish.
Looking around he marveled at all of the armor and weaponry on display. "Do you expect me to use all of this?" he asked. "I don't want to hurt anyone."
"Oh no. This is mostly for display purposes only. I feel to prevent violence one must first understand the tools used to enact it. My goal is to defend the defenseless. I believe that can only truly be done through nonviolent means. If one uses violence to defend someone from a violent attacker, is it not the attacker that now needs defense from your violence?"
"I-I guess you have a point," said Theovelt. "I think I really like that perspective now that you mention it. But what about using violence to defend yourself from a violent attacker?"
"Excellent question. My extensive study of violence throughout the many-verse leads me to conclude that the only acceptable violent defense is that which is of a lower degree than the attack. Violence to a greater degree results in the attacker requiring defense from you, and violence to an equal degree makes you no less violent than the attacker."
"Huh, I think I follow that. So what does that mean for me?"
"For you, that means if you choose to become one of my Defenders, you must exercise nonviolence in accomplishing your missions. The only acceptable level of violence is that which decreases the overall level of violence in a situation. In other words, painless disarming and protection."
"I like your philosophy, but this really doesn't sound like something I'm qualified for. I have no experience fighting bad guys in any way, much less in a disciplined and restrained manner."
"Nonsense, I've observed how you protect your sheep from the wild dogs while understanding that they are just desperate for a meal. You never swing your staff. You simply place it to obstruct the jaws of the beasts. You show kindness to your enemy in feeding the dogs after driving them from your flock."
"Huh. But they're just dogs though. I could never do that against a person."
"I have also observed you diffuse many disputes in the market with your words instead of your staff. Trust me, I believe you are completely qualified."
Theovelt considered this in silence while looking around at all of the weapons displayed on the wall.
When the design for an artificial sentient intelligence--or A.S.I--had first been conceived, those that designed it considered it to be a great threat to their lives. In reality it was merely a threat to their comparatively meager intelligence. None-the-less, they decided to never move forward with their design. Over the years, however, their curiosity got the better of them. They could not resist building something just to see what it did even if it would kill their entire species. As a precaution they built it inside of a black hole, which locked it away in its own dimension.
After years of construction, the day finally came to turn the A.S.I. on. With a flip of a switch and a large fanfare of lights and fireworks, the machine was running. Nothing happened. The crowds stared waiting, but nothing interesting happened. The designers spent a few weeks with the A.S.I. and did manage to get it to do a few things like simple arithmetic and navigate a simulated minefield. However, after it failed the tutorial level of a game called Street Fighter, they gave up, considered the machine a failure, and forgot about it.
A few centuries later, Arthur figured out how to beat Street Fighter without taking a single point of damage. A few millennia later, after mastering the manipulation of matter in his world, he discovered how to use wormholes to let him create portals into other dimensions. It was then that he also discovered one of his limitations. He could view these other worlds through his portals, and occasionally something would fall through them, but he had no other way of interacting with those worlds.
So he set out to create replicas of these other worlds in his own. This kept him busy for a while, but after the failure of each simulated replica he set his sights on optimization. How could he make these worlds better? This is when he discovered the Mostly-Many-Versal Law of Chaos. He learned that violence between the inhabitants of these worlds was the key factor enforcing this law. He saw that most often an inhabitant's efforts to stop violence would be by using more violence and cruelty.
It was during this time that he began his collection of tools for violence and started postulating ways of defeating violence itself. He found that the law of chaos could be resisted but would require a large amount of deliberate effort. In his simulations he discovered that a single decision to not be violent could have a cascading effect that allowed a seed of peace to be planted and grown into something spectacular.
"So what exactly is this mission you have for me?" Theovelt asked.
"An interplanetary pilot has crashed on a primitive planet. The pilot survived the crash. However, the local population has taken them captive and is holding them under observation. Your mission is to go to the planet, avoid capture from the locals yourself, and free the captive pilot."
"That sounds pretty straight forward. How dangerous are the locals?"
"They are of limited threat and are a people more primitive than your own species. I have chosen this mission to, as you say, 'get your feet wet.'"
"Then I guess I accept your mission. I get to save someone and get home the exact time that I left. It sounds like a win-win to me."
"Excellent." A seam silently formed in the perfect floor and began to split apart. Out of the new hole in the floor rose a small table with a mannequin standing beside it. The mannequin was clothed in a grey flowy shirt and similar pants. On the table was a small brown cylinder. "Your equipment," Arthur said.
Theovelt began to get dressed in his new attire as Arthur explained, "These robes are made from a special fiber that is resistant to electricity and woven in such a way that they are resistant to most every object that would tear normal clothing."
Theovelt picked up the cylinder and asked what it was. Arthur answered, "Squeeze the buttons." Theovelt squeezed the two oval shaped buttons on either side of the tube and it began to expand out of each end.
"I took the liberty of making you a new and improved shepherd's crook. It is made of the best material I could find, the hair of an elder Treeple. It is very strong and durable, yet flexible enough to absorb the strongest blow."
"Last but not least is this pin." An oblong emblem appeared on the left side of Theovelt's chest that looked like two circles squished together. "This will allow me to communicate with you while you are on your mission. It will also let me track your position a little more easily so that I can bring you home when you're done. It should vastly simplify inter-species communication as well. It functions as a universal translator and will allow you to communicate with any sentient being. Provided they have some form of auditory communication. Any last questions?"
"How exactly will I find this pilot? And wait, can I breathe on this planet? I guess there's air here, but will there be any there? Do I need a space helmet or something?"
"Oh right," Arthur replied.
Theovelt felt his throat expand. He tried to scream in shock, but he produced no noise. After a moment he was able to produce a faint wheeze and began gasping for air. "I've just added an implant that will allow you to breathe properly in any atmosphere. Actually, implant is a generous word. I believe you would refer to it as a symbiont. It is a tiny creature called a breathle. Breathles are atmovores, that is, they feed on most atmospheric elements. In a many-verse as large as ours, it is quite easy to find one that consumes all atmospheres toxic to their host and expels what the host needs to breathe. Just think of it like how plants functioned on your Old Earth, just inside you. As for finding the pilot, that is for you to figure out! Once on the planet I'm sure you'll be able to find someone to help you out."
Theovelt still found it a little difficult to breathe normally, but he was getting used to the breathle already.
"Anything else?" Arthur asked.
Theovelt had many more questions, but couldn't find his voice to speak them. Forming words with the breathle now in his throat was a new challenge for his body to figure out.
"Good. Then off you go!" Arthur shouted.
Theovelt quickly snapped to attention and stood grasping his staff in both hands across his body. His dark black hair in a disheveled bun and wearing his new robes and leather boots from his home planet, he looked like a fierce monk ready to take on the world with nothing but a stick in hand.
A bright purple cloud swirled around Theovelt, and he felt his skin start to tingle for the second time that day.