Justin R. Mousseau has not received any gifts yet
The Neoclassicists of renaissance Italy used to hold firm a certain set of beliefs, known as the Three Unities: Unity of Time, Unity of Place, and Unity of Action. Essentially, the dramatic works of the period shouldn't occur outside of a 24 hour window, should only occur in one location, and should only focus on one main plot, with no subplots.
I, however, have never claimed to be a Neoclassicist
Across the Horsehead Nebula, the Asteroid carved a fiery path. Although is was nothing more than a mass of rock, it seemed to move with a purpose. Black as pitch, and utterly massive, it lurched across the starry expanse. Had there been an astrophysicist present to observe it's progress, and had they the proper tools to calculate it, they might have been able to determine that the asteroid appeared to be making it's way towards our own Milky Way galaxy...
The sunlight streaming through the blinds wasn't what had actually woken me up. And it wasn't the alarm on my phone, which wasn't set to wake me up with the dulcet tones of R. Kelly for another 25 minutes. No, the honor of shaking me from my slumber went to the industrial strength wood chipper situated directly outside my window. The sound that emanated from this ungodly mechanism was, I imagine, much like the sound of a bull moose in heat being gradually beaten to death by a quintet of midget hunters armed only with dial-up routers from 1996.
I begrudgingly decided that then was as good a time as any to actually get up. Throwing my blanket off of me, I stumbled into the bathroom, nearly tripping over a pile of dirty laundry and books I'd been meaning to read in the process. Flipping on the light, I caught my reflection in the mirror; not a particularly encouraging sight. Baggy, deep set eyes; mussed brown hair; sloping forehead; as for the rest of my body, pale skin, more stretch marks than a healthy 22 year old warranted, and silky dark hair covering the majority of it like so much moss.
I set the small handheld radio on top of the toilet to a funk station, in an attempt to elevate my mood via bass lines and high vocals. It was a start. The soulful sounds of The Commodores describing the figure of their ideal woman was almost enough to snap me out of my bleary morning sulk; coincidentally, it was also almost enough to distract me from the large figure looming in my shower.
"I need your help", Shower-Man stated, in a raspy voice.
"WHY ARE YOU IN MY SHOWER?!", I screamed rationally.
"The sink was too cramped", he replied, chortling at his own joke while I grasped to wrap my mind around the situation at hand.
The man standing before me wouldn't have been remarkable in most situations; however, being a strange person standing fully clothed in my shower, he had my full attention. He was wearing an all black trench-coat the kind with the sort of mini-cape that stretches between the shoulders, dark dress pants and a faded white button up shirt. Long, stringy white hair hung down to his shoulders, and he looked like he hadn't shaved for a couple of days. He stood a little taller than me, but leaner, his cheeks slightly sunken.
He reached out a hand to steady himself as he stepped out of the shower, and I took hold of it, being the the polite thing to do. As he sat down on my toilet, he gestured for me to sit on the edge of the tub. Clearing his throat, he explained himself. "First and foremost, I'd like to apologize for popping into your bathroom like this. It was supremely rude of me, but you see, my contemporaries and I could not conceive of a more effective means of getting hold of you. Had I knocked at the front door, we had calculated an 87% chance you simply would have hid in your room and pretended not to be in. Breaking in, of course, would have brought with it it's own set of problems: questionable morality and legality, broken shards of glass,etc. Finally, we devised what seemed to us the perfect way to find you: waiting in your shower."
"But, how did you get in here? What did you mean by 'I need your help'?"
"All in good time, m'boy. In the meanwhile, do you happen to have any milk? I find traveling in such a way as I have seems to take a toll on my stomach."
As I poured him a glass, I mentally patted myself on the back for how well I was handling this situation. Here I was, getting a glass of milk for a strange man who I'd met not ten minutes ago in my shower, and I was keeping my composure. It reminded me of what my grandfather used to say to me: " never let 'em see you sweat, especially in the shower."
When I got back to my bathroom, having put on a pair of jeans left lying on my floor en route, Shower-Man was looking at the various odds and ends left on my sink. General toiletries, nothing fancy: toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel and hair spray for when I was feeling fancy. Handing him the milk, I decided to go back on the offensive. "So, how exactly can I be of assistance?"
"Right. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Jacopo Vermillion, and I've been sent at the behest of my contemporaries to ask you, Buddy Forrester, if you would consider taking on the mantle of Humanity's Champion?"
"Er, um, yes. You. Humanity's Champion. Please?"
"Is this something you've asked a lot of people? Exactly how far down the list am I?"
"Well, we don't, uh, really give that sort of information out..."
"What. Number. Am. I?"
I nodded furiously. "Uh huh. And I'm to take you at your word that nearly eight million other potential candidates have turned you down thus far, forcing you to come to me? And why exactly does humanity need a champion for, anyhow?"
"To answer your first question...Yes, we've been shut down left, right and center. Our search for a Champion has been something of a bust. As to your second question, Humanity needs a Champion for the same reason it always has: the continuation of the species. Since time immemorial, the Powers that Be, Those who Control the Ebb and Flow of Fate and Destiny, have observed sentient life in the universe. They've stood as judges, determining which species are allowed to continue their advancement, and which are snuffed out, like so many candles in a gale. Every couple of centuries, They send out a Magistrate to evaluate the human race. My contemporaries, like our predecessors before us, are tasked when They visit to present a Champion on our behalf, to complete the various trials set forth by the Magistrate. Passing them ensures another couple of centuries of relative peace; failure ensure mass extinction. Luckily, there hasn't been a failed Champion for many a millennia, thanks in no small part to our little organization."
"So, if all you need is a glorified test taker, why have a significant portion of the population turned you down?"
"Yes, well...It seems this adjudication is being conducted in a slightly different manner. In the space of time that has passed since the last time we needed a Champion, nearly a dozen new races have achieved sentience across our corner of the universe. The Powers that Be, being busy entities of infinite light and wisdom, have decided to kill several birds with one stone, and judge the various races against one another, allowing the surviving Champion's race to continue their existence, and annihilating the others. So, I'll reiterate my request: will you stand at Humanity's side, in defense of our very existence, against a mysterious collection of omnipotent beings?"
I stared at Vermillion for a hard minute, mouth slightly agape. I would have been lying if I said I hadn't, on occasion, imagined an occurrence much like this one happening to me: the chance to play at being a hero, saving the planet, getting the attention of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, rubbing it in the faces of those "gifted" asshats from my high school who looked down on me, etc. The chance to leave my sedentary life behind, beginning a new one: a life filled with adventure, intrigue, romance, colorful characters. I considered all of that, as Vermillion looked at me expectantly, appearing to be at a loss in the admittedly awkward silence. Finally, I gave him my answer, three words that would change the course of my life, and the lives of every person on Earth.
"Get bent, jerkwad."
The Magistrate yawned as he stood within the vast expanse of light. He was unsure of precisely how long he had been there, when he had arrived, or if he had simply spontaneously come into being in the expanse; the Powers were enigmatic like that. He was a man of singular purpose, chosen or created to stand trial over sentients, and determine wether they're worthy of a continued existence. This Adjudication was very significant, of course. The Powers had decided, in their infinite wisdom, to expedite the process of decided who gets to live and die by simply judging all the species in his particular quadrant at once. It all seemed a bit reckless to the Magistrate, but who was he to voice his opinion in the face of omniscience.
Finally, after an indeterminate amount of time, the Powers spoke. It was a cacophonous sound, like great waves breaking on a rocky shore and glass in a blender, fed through an auto-tuner. They explained to him his duties as a Magistrate, the sort of power he would wield in their honor, and how exactly this mega-judging would occur. Most importantly, he was instructed on how to hand the situation if a tie should occur; heedless to say the phrase "sudden death" was tossed about quite a bit.
The Magistrate nodded where he felt appropriate, although he knew going into it precisely what would be demanded of him. He knew he would be addressing the various Champions, on the eve of their adjudication, and instructing them on what their specific trial would entail. Typically, depending on his master's whims, once the trial has ended, the Magistrate would give a short prepared speech congratulating the Champion on a job well done, giving them a handshake and reminding them their planet needed another Champion in another couple of centuries. Occasionally the Magistrate, in the event of a failure, admonishes the Champion on their lack of training, or their hesitation, or whatever may have caused them to fail, then forces them to watch as their planet is annihilated, leaving them as the only surviving member of their species.
As the meeting drew to a close, the Magistrate knelt down both in a show of contrition to the Powers, and to receive their blessing, a fraction of their own powers, to aid him over the course of the trials. He knew as he felt the flow of adrenaline and his head begin to swim with this redoubling of energy that he would probably need every ounce of this power to deal with the strain of dealing with nearly a dozen Champions at the same time. When the transfusion was finished, he stood and offered his thanks to the Powers, reassuring them that this adjudication would go smoothly. Though he could've sworn as he turned to go that the mood of the room changed from one of confidence to hesitation.