This story is by Chakore Goodie and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
TaZonic made his way to the podium, ignoring the disapproving whispers vibrating in his ears.
I can tell many of you disapprove of me. TaZonic looked at a long silky black hair woman with piercings in her gills attached to a priceless silver necklace. You’re right; I shouldn’t be here. She leaned back in her seat. I’m here because I made a promise to one of the most incredible creatures that ever lived. He sucked in the artificial air and glared at the SC-3019 Awards sign in the back of the gravity sealed dome. I can remember making that promise like it was yesterday. It was 2977, and the sulfuric acid was at the highest level. The stench at the playgrounds was so bad, I could taste it, but it didn’t bother Boares…
Boares readied himself at the starting line. As always, he looks over at TaZonic and yells, “I fight for us!” He takes off, kicking up brownish-red dust with his dark maroon feet covered with moles. “And together, we fight for all!” TaZ yelled before gliding through the night sky, high-fiving Boares as he passed over his head for the fourth time before Boares could push his frumpy body through the first obstacle on the floating course that took him an eternity to tie down.
Hovering in front of the finish line, stood a twelve-year-old Zonic with his hands on his hips and shoulders upright. Boares planted his elephant-shaped feet in the dry surface, causing a dust storm. The boy blows the dust into Boares’ face laughing and pointing, “You will never be a Troop. You are a Normal and Normal’s can’t be Troops.”
Boares fanned the dust and stood there broadcasting a smile full of decaying molars. The boy’s jaw tightened, and his gills flared. He flicked Boares with his index finger sending him flying across the grounds, barely missing the gravity swing.
TaZ floating above Orbideed’s stratosphere watching the skyline of stars and four moons. Boares crashing against the marry-go-dome sent vibrations through the atmosphere. TaZ looked down. A boy with gills on both sides of his neck stood over Boares. A Zonic on this side of the cituron? Mal? TaZ dives, fist extended over his head.
TaZonic and MalZonic stood face to face. Boares rushed over and squeezed between the two, “TaZ, LordZonic wouldn’t approve.”
Mal laughed, looking down at Boares, “You’re a joke.”
The gills on TaZ’s neck flared, “You’re a joke!”
Boares placed a calming hand on TaZ and looked at the boy, “You think being a Troop is blazto?”
He nods, “Yea.”
“Being a Troop is special,” Boares said.
“Yea, I know.”
“I wanna be part of something special like you.”
“Trash like you is not allowed in,” Mal raised his fist.
TaZonic leaned over the podium. Within a nanosecond, I released a flurry of punches. I thought Boares was going to praise me for protecting him, but that wasn’t the case. He was so disappointed sitting in the back of the Troop’s orbiter. I was mad at him being upset with me. At the time, I didn’t get it, but after I found out his punishment was more extensive than mine, I felt terrible and apologized to him. He told me…
“You were just being a friend. Just promise never to stop, and we are even.”
After our encounter with MalZonic, we worked our dermis off getting ready for the Jr. Troop competition. Well, my dermis, Boares’ epidermis.
I was so nervous on the morning of the competition, not for me but Boares. We arrived early to meet with the committee to get the results from the petition we filed. I remember it like it was yesterday.
That morning the moons were lowering, and the master star was rising from behind the smoky Mon mountains. TaZ wanted to make sure they made it on time, so he got up early to stop by the Algae market across from their school. Boares was up, as usual, feeding the two-legged furry lizards down the abandoned corridor next to his dome. TaZ spotted Boares from above and dropped in behind him, “We have to go!”
“I have a couple more to feed,” Boares said.
“No, you don’t!”
Boares stood up, “What?”
TaZ smiled, “I fed them already.” Boares wrapped his mole invested arms around TaZ’s lean scaly waist. “Together we fight for all, remember,” TaZ said.
TaZonic grabbed a scarf from his coat pocket. That was the first time he looked at me with such pride. It filled me with joy and so happiness. Clearing his throat. But the red clay building with Future Protectors of the Universe scripted above the arched doorway would change that.
TaZ pulled the lever to decompress the titanium door. The silky-smooth short-hair female attending the oversized titanium desk directed us to the office next to the communication room. Seated behind a too-small desk, a hefty Zonic dressed in the standard Zonic thick gray jumpsuit offered two chairs.
“Please sit. Let’s get right to it. Due to Normals limited capacity to learn and inability to perform, we, in good conscience, can allow no one besides Zonics to participate. You should stick with cultivating food.”
“What?” TaZ rose from his seat and slammed his hands on the desk. The desk crumpled.
“Look what you’ve done? Get out. You’re done!”
“Please don’t. TaZ, wait outside. Go!” Boares said.
I don’t know what Boares said, but that pompous asshole agreed to let me participate if I replaced his desk. That’s when I knew Boares was special. And, in case you were wondering, I won the competition – by a lot.
Several audience members laughed.
After I broke the desk, Boares was furious. He gave me such a lashing, but in his way. He was calm and kind about it…
“TaZ, we can’t create change by creating an atmosphere of hate. They won’t listen. They will defend themselves, and it will become a debate. Conversations change the universe; debates change your emotions. Not violence.”
Can you believe he said that at 16 years old?
I want to tell you I changed after that, but I didn’t. In fact, my temper got worse, the more I realized how different they treated him as we got older. You all know this. I would get so mad, but if Boares were there, he would talk to me down.
I might not have changed my ways after breaking that desk, but I did eventually change. I can tell you the exact time when it happened. It was right after we received the news. After fighting for so long. It was one of those moments in life you will never forget. We were around 22 at the time.
I rushed over to Boares. I hadn’t seen him in a while; he was visiting his family in Nobstack about ten light-years away from Orbideed. I had to calm myself because last time I knocked on the door; I sent it flying to the back of the house. Their doors weren’t as sturdy as the ones where I lived. His mother answered, her bulging eyes that are usually full of life were like the black hole. It wasn’t the standard, joyful greeting I often got. I remember the moles on her face struggled to line up like they do when she smiles.
“Is Boares here?” She nodded slowly and pointed to his room. Boares was lying in bed, his weight a fraction of what it used to be. TaZ sat next to the bed, asking Boares over and over was everything okay. He ensured everything was fine and demanded that they talk about TaZ’s first recon mission as a Troop.
“We can talk about that later, I came by to tell you the news,” TaZ face lit up, “They’re talking about letting others in. You are going to be a Troop.”
Boares struggled to sit up, “There’s a chance I won’t. If I don’t, you can’t go destroying things. Violence is not the answer, focus on cr-“
“Creating a place for conversations because conversations change the universe, debates change your emotions. Yea, yea. I get it,” TaZ said. Boares laughed, then started choking.
“Get some rest.”
Boares nodded, “TaZ, wait. I fight for us,” Boares mumbled.
“And together, we fight for all!”
That was the last time I saw my friend. Two days later, he died from the airpol disease, common where he lived. His lips quivered. I had everything, and he had nothing. But when I saw, at his passing, how he affected people, how he changed people through empathy and conversation, I knew he was the one with the actual powers.
Boares, this is me keeping my promise. I am here to accept the prestigious SpaceCrusader 3019 award on behalf of the Honorary Troop Boares Routes.
“Boares, I still fight for us.”
“And together we fight for all!” The audience cheered.