Who is the Monster and Who is the Man?
Blasters scorched the wall by Shiro’s head as he ran. Another shot nearly grazing his ear. Shiro tucked the boy closer to his side as he turned to fire back, darting around the corner towards the escape pods. Alarms blared, echoing in the cramped halls while red lights flashed. Human and Galra alike sprawled along the halls, most bleeding and unresponsive.
“Go!” Shiro shouted, shoving the boy towards the door while he activated the pod. “Stay down and don’t–!”
More shots drowned out the rest of his orders. Shiro backed into the pod, firing each time a stray Galra head dared to show itself. He tried to close the pod doors but the control panel sparked and fizzled without response.
“Come on come on,” he muttered, ripping and connecting wires under the panel. The doors groaned but didn’t move.
The firing stopped. The pod rang with the sudden stillness. “Shirogane Takashi,” a voice echoed from the hallway.
Shiro froze, shifting his gaze out of the pod. A tall Galra with a scar framing a robotic eye stepped forward. The other soldiers stayed put but kept their weapons trained on the human.
“I must say I am impressed you made it this far. Step out of the pod with your hands over your head. And no sudden movements or stupid ideas.”
Shiro looked away, daring a glanced down at Keith. He was curled up in the corner, a scratchy blanket wrapped around his shoulders and pulled over his head. His large eyes stared at Shiro, fearful and pleading. Shiro gave him a comforting smile, slowly raising his hands so they were tucked behind his head.
Keith scrambled to stand but Shiro shook his head slowly. “Stay here,” he whispered before stepping into full view of the pod door.
“Good. Now walk forward and kneel.”
The human grimaced but did as he was told, staring at the floor as Sendak’s boots came into view. Two more Galra appeared at his side, one yanking his hands into cuffs behind his back.
“You two, check the pod,” Sendak ordered, Shiro’s blood running cold.
“NO!” Shiro jumped to his feet. The butt of a blaster smacked against his temple and he was on the floor the next second.
“My my what did I tell you about stupid ideas. There must be something very important in there,” Sendak sneered by Shiro’s face. The human struggled to stand but a boot against his shoulder blades kept him pinned.
Sendak turned to his men. “Whatever it is, bring it to me.”
One of the soldiers entered the pod and was immediately knocked over by a bundle of blankets lunging for his face. His comrade quickly grabbed the attacker and tugged him away, easily holding the boy in the air where his flailing arms and legs were useless.
Sendak laughed. “What a feisty little one.” He strolled over and yanked the blanket down to look at Keith’s face. His mirth quickly morphed into a frown, his mix-matched eyes taking in the boy’s features. “And what sort of creature are you meant to be?”
“Please!” Shiro gasped out, face half pushed into the floor as he stared at Sendak. “Please don’t hurt him. He’s just a boy.”
“Yes, just a kitten by Galra standards.” He took a step back to take in the smaller being. “What would he be by your Earthen standards? Three? Four cycles?”
“Eight,” Shiro answered as the boot ground against his spine.
“No abomination would have been allowed to live more than one cycle with the Galra. And yet you plead for his life. You’re not even a man yourself; surely this whelp is too old to be yours. Some sort of unfortunate kin, perhaps?”
“I’m responsible for his wellbeing. Please, let him go. I’ll do anything you ask.”
Sendak’s large, fluffy ears perked up as he turned away from Keith.
The sharp smile aimed at Shiro made him shudder, but Keith’s fearful expression strengthened his resolve. “Yes.”
“Then it’s settled.” With a snapped, Keith was dropped and the boot restraining Shiro disappeared. “You will be taken to the capitol where you will fight in the tournament for Emperor Zarkon’s favor. Your creature will be cared for in your absence. Disobey or try to run again, and our hospitality will be short lived.”
Keith immediately stumbled to Shiro, throwing his arms around his neck with a sob. With his hands still restrained, he couldn’t hug the boy back.
“It’s okay, Keith. It’s okay,” Shiro repeated, ignoring the stares of the Galra while Keith cried against his shoulder.
The chapter names are quotes and lyrics from the movie and play.
“Who is the Monster and Who is the Man?”
-Bells of Notre Dame, Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame