"We're best friends, and friends help each other out."
|Happy New Year, 3013|
|II: The Power Of The Fist|
Five… Four… Three… Two… One…
Happy New Year!!!
The year 3013.
Ah, I never get tired of these celebrations. They seem to come quicker and quicker as I get older. It sucks getting old. Well, that's dumb to say. I'm only sixteen. I still have plenty of my happy years left to live. Many of my friends and family are here. Surprising. Most of them think I am too rambunctious for my age, but I can't help it. Most girls my age are content with letting the boys do all the dirty work. If we try hard enough, we can do whatever we want, too.
"Xena! Over here! Happy new year!"
I turn to my left to a pleasant sight. It's my best friend Qasim Desmo. He is easily the quietest boy I've ever met, but he's super smart. His IQ has to be like 200 or something.
"Hi Des! Happy new year, buddy," I say warmly. I reach out to give him a hug.
I knew that was a fake sneeze. He always does stuff like this when he does not feel comfortable. It was funny at first, but now it just gets on my nerves. Before I get the chance to say anything else, he quickly changes the subject.
He eagerly asks, "Have you heard? My dad recently got promoted. I heard that he may get a chance to work inside the Database itself."
The Database is basically the capital of the 13th Dimension. It's also known as the Digital World.
"That sounds cool," I reply nonchalantly. I had heard of the Database before but never paid any real attention to it. What good would knowing about it do me anyway?
"Xena, you could at least pretend to be excited. This is a huge deal for us. He has been working to get this position for years," he pleads.
"Des, you know I don't care about all the new technology that keeps popping up everywhere. I'm happy for your dad and all, but please."
"Have you even looked into the Database? I heard that it's like a giant digital metropolis, filled with all of our favorite real world attractions! I have always wanted to go there, but only authorized personnel have access to it."
I wasn't in the mood to spoil a good New Year's party by telling him how much I didn't care. I pretended to listen to him and gave him a pat on the back when his rant was done.
"Tell you what, Des. Someday, you and I will go to the database and explore for a while," I joked.
I quickly realized my mistake in saying that. His eyes lit up.
"Really?! Promise?!" He lifts up his pinky. Damn. Pinky promises. It is taboo to break a pinky promise. I have to keep my word this time. We lock pinkies.
"Yeah, promise," I say reluctantly.
The rest of the celebration was going exactly how I expected it to. My parents got super friendly with all of our guests. Especially my mom. I'm surprised dad wasn't jealous. Des sat at the bar (even though he is only sixteen too) with some ginger ale in a wine glass and watched everything happen from there. The dance floor was full of clumsy, drunken adults who were surprisingly good dancers. My eye caught a couple near the edge of the mass of people. I couldn't help but envy them. She looked so happy. Why couldn't that be me? Maybe if I just knew how to dance I could get an attractive guy to like me.
"May I have this dance, Xenalicious?" an annoying voice asks from behind.
They say be careful what you wish for. Aaron Blake, eighteen years old, had just asked me to dance. He's a huge jerk and I knew he was just trying to embarrass me.
"Go away, Aaron," I say coldly. I was in no mood for his antics.
"C'mon. One dance won't hurt," he retorts.
"I don't like you," I answer.
"Then that's my New Year's resolution. To get you to like me."
He grabs my arm and begins to drag me to the dance floor. He was definitely a bit too rough. If it were anyone else I would have punched them hard and pulled myself away. Unfortunately, Aaron was a bit too strong for me. Seeing no other way out of this mess, I feigned enjoying myself and began to dance with him. It's sad that he has to be so cruel. He has an attractive smile, good definition, and shiny brown eyes. I almost started to enjoy myself until he tripped me. I fell flat on my face. Ugh.
"Sorry. I haven't done this in a while," he sneers.
I can hear a few of the others laughing at me. The group had formed a circle around us and I hadn't noticed until now. I hate being embarrassed. Especially around my parents.
"Don't just stay down there. Get up will you? C'mon." He offers a hand to help me up.
"Thanks Aaron," I say with a smile.
I pull him down to the ground while using the momentum to pick myself up. I can see Des laughing to himself at the bar. He hates Aaron too. It warms my heart to see him enjoy himself. He's usually super serious. Surely enough, Aaron immediately breaks out of his overly polite demeanor.
"You're dead, you bitch!" he yells at the top of his lungs.
He tries to take out my feet with a swiping kick. I jumped over the first kick, but his recovery was too quick and he got me the second time. He follows that up by punching me in the stomach. I could feel the wind knocked right out of me. I tried to get away, but he pinned me and started repeatedly hitting me in the face. The only thing I could do was try to shield myself. He kept wailing on my face, and I felt blood dripping from my forehead. The adults were too drunk to do anything about it. They just watched and laughed. I wanted to knock them out so bad. Just as I was about to pass out, I heard this huge crash and some glass shards sprinkled around me. Aaron's eyes proceeded go up into his head and he slumped over. Disgusted, I pushed him off. As soon as I saw him passed out on the floor I knew what had happened. Des threw his wine glass at his back. I was still bleeding and in a daze. Des ran over picked me up, and that was all I could remember.
When I woke up the next morning, I found myself safe in my room. My face was still in pain. I got up to look in the mirror. Bruises. Great. Why did that asshole have to go for my face? I went to go fix my hair, but I tripped over something. I turned around to see Des. I wish I had known he was there. I accidentally kicked him in the ribs. I helped him up.
"Thanks for looking out for me Des. What happened last night?" I ask.
"After I knocked out Aaron, some people called the police. I took you to your room and hid there. Most of the adults just ran away. Aaron got arrested and so did a few others. Overall, nothing too serious happened. Your parents aren't getting charged with anything."
The adults had to be super drunk if they called the police. No one does that anymore. They could have instantly messaged the enforcement robots. Still, I was relieved no one was hurt except Aaron. I reached for the remote so I could watch the news, but even that simple motion hurt. When Des noticed me wince, he turned on the TV for me. I didn't thank him, but it was a nice thing for him to do.
"Xena, why do you like to watch the news so much?" he asks in a bored tone. "There is not anything good other than the weather. The world has been at peace for so long. There is nothing to report."
"I watch the news because I am waiting for an anchor to tell everyone something important that hasn't been said."
"What exactly would that be?"
He asks too many questions.
"Take a guess, Des. You're a smart kid."
"Is it energy? There is plenty to go around. We use nothing but renewable resources. I don't get it; what's the problem?"
Clearly missing the point, I tell him. "Think more technological."
"Infrastructure is stable around the glo—"
"Damn it, Des, you think too literally! It's the artificial life! The robots and computer programs! They run everything now, and no one seems to care!"
My yelling did not change his expression at all. He never seems to care about anything.
"Well Xena, we were the ones who designed them. We do not need them, but they merely make life more convenient for everyone. Imagine how bothersome it would be if we had to refuel our own cars or mow our own lawns. Why do such tedious tasks when we have robots to do them for us?"
"That's the exact problem. We used to do all the dirty work ourselves. It was tedious, sure, but that is what made us who we are today. Now we are giving it up just because we’re too lazy. I'm sick of it."
"Like it or not, Xena, the world is like that now. Just get used to it and—"
"I don't want to get used to it! Can't you see that?!" I scream.
I rarely yell at him this much. This conversation is already more serious than I intended.
He takes a deep breath.
"If you really feel this adamant, then maybe I can help you."
"Really?" I ask. I did not expect that. Not so suddenly. "Why the sudden change of heart?"
"We're best friends, and friends help each other out," he says warmly.
I already regret yelling at him. He goes on.
"Remember how I told you my father has access to the Database? I dug through some of his files, and I figured out a way to enter the entire Digital World, the 13th Dimension. That is where all the robots get their programming from. No promises, but maybe you could change a thing or two. I must also add—"
"Wait, wait, wait," I interrupt. "Did you just say that the Digital World is where the robots get all their programming from?!"
"Yeah. You didn't know that?"
I had no idea. I never paid much attention in school. This was huge news. There really was a way to stop this artificial life from taking over our planet.
"Uhhh… of course I knew that. I was just pulling your leg."
"You're an awful liar."
"Ok, I had no clue. This is great, Des! We can change the programming of the artificial life."
"It's not that simple. Robots are part of almost every human's life at this point. People have gotten way too used to them. They're not just going to let two teenagers take that away for good. That would take global consensus."
I hate it when he's right.
I reply, "Ok, so we can't just go in there without a strategy. Maybe your dad can help us?"
Sometimes I really need to think before I talk.
"Sorry I was just—"
"That's a great idea!"
He rarely interrupts me. He has to be as excited about this as I am. Always encouraging. I had no clue if anyone else felt the same way as I did until now. For so long, humanity has allowed robots to take away the grit and grind part of us. Sure, the technology is great, but what good is it if we can't do anything on our own? Des is right, though. To make a change this huge, I am going to need help. A lot of help. I hope his dad is a good place to start.
He continues. "Between you and me, my dad has always hated robots being everywhere. He can't get away from them. He can be huge for us. However, he will not help us if we do not have a plan."
This doesn't faze me.
I reply, "That's fine with me. I was already putting a plan together. I was going to start with getting a large group of people on our side."
"Consider that goal halfway done. I have a few friends that hate robots. We call ourselves the K.R.E.W. That stands for Killing Robots Every Weekend. Most of them are from school."
I get so excited with all the support we have already that I just jump up and hug Des. He was already trying to muster up another nervous sneeze, but I was not going to let it happen this time. I pushed him away just in the nick of time.
"This is going to be great," I say with a smile.
The scene shifts to two robots near a giant computer screen. They appear to be in the Digital World. There is a large pixelated head on the screen.
The first robot speaks. "Master program, it appears we may have run into a few issues with the organic life forms. Some have started to plot rebellion."
"We have little information on the suspects as of now," the second robot adds.
The head's expression does not change. It does not seem overly concerned.
"Let them dream all they want. Soon enough this world will be rid of all its impurities."