"Do you have any last words, Xena Modom?"
|XII: Shattered Dreams|
|X: Calm Before The Storm|
Attention all citizens. This is an emergency broadcast. Robots, every type across the planet, have waged total war on us. This is not a fabrication. People are being killed as we speak. The death toll is almost at one billion already. Take immediate cover, and do not go outside under any circumstances. Our military is doing everything they can to neutralize this threat. Updates will be posted very often. Stay safe.
Just hang on Ivy. I’ll find a way to get you back up before you fall. Just hang on please. I can’t lose anyone else.
Update on previous broadcast. So far, Asia and North America have had the heaviest casualties. Not surprisingly, these two continents also have the highest population of robots. Those casualties include the leaders of Russia, China, India, Japan, and the United States. For the entire Earth, a code red has been issued. Do anything, and everything possible to fight off the robots.
One robot has infiltrated my broadcasting room. It has a large blade. I believe it is going to—
I still have my head stuck under the X.E.P.H.Y.R.’s foot. Why he hasn’t crushed my head yet is beyond me. By keeping me alive (presumably to watch me in despair over the death of my parents) he is giving me an opportunity to keep fighting. He’s so arrogant that I can use that to my advantage.
“Do you have any last words, Xena Modom?” he asks in a condescending tone.
“No I don’t,” I reply.
As he lifts his foot to crush my head, I swipe kick his other leg. He completely loses his balance and falls backward. I stand up quickly. “You’ll never hear my last words X.E.P.H.Y.R. You can count on that.”
I rush over to Ivy, and I grab her hand just as she is about to fall to her death. She’s deceptively heavy for her slim frame, but I still manage to pull her back to safety.
“Thanks a million Xena, I owe you one,” she says, out of breath. “I wish the mission was back in the early stages. Everything was so carefree then.”
I nod. “Yeah. That phase was fun while it lasted. Let’s go help out Yun.”
Before I can move, X.E.P.H.Y.R. jumps in front of Ivy and I, preventing us from advancing. He means business now. So much for his arrogance.
“That is the last time a human will get the better of me,” he says. “Prepare to die.”
He runs at me and throws a roundhouse punch. I duck, and I run around him. Normally, I’m a pretty quick runner, but the pain I’m feeling from my previous injuries is really slowing me down. I look over at Yun, but I immediately wish that I hadn’t. He just got impaled in the stomach by the general.
He’s . . . losing a lot of blood.
It doesn’t look like he’s going to make it . . .
Ivy notices too, and she screams louder than she ever has before. With teary eyes, she runs toward the general; completely out of control. Her attacks aren’t precise anymore. She’s just throwing random punches and kicks, and the general isn’t even trying that hard to block them. He raises his hand, and slaps her to the ground. She doesn’t get up. She lays down on the ground, crying. I can’t tell if it’s because she’s in pain, or because of the loss of Yun. Whatever the reason, I have never seen her spirit broken before. It really hurts my soul to see her this way.
My pace must have slowed down while I was looking at Ivy, because the X.E.P.H.Y.R. caught up with me. He grabs my hair and throws me down to the ground.
Why does he always have to grab my hair?
I try to get up, but he punches me in the back; basically stunning me.
While I’m being roughed up by the X.E.P.H.Y.R., Ivy struggles against the general. I don’t see much of the fight, but judging from the sound of her being beaten up, she has to be losing. She’s isn’t dead, which is great, but I don’t think she’ll be able to fight much longer.
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. flips me over. He gives me this long, cold stare that makes me feel like I’m being pierced by two knives. “Xena Modom. It’s over,” he says with passion. He turns his hand into a laser gun, and he begins to charge up the finishing blow. They say that your life flashes before your eyes when you’re about to die. Maybe I’m not like most people, because that doesn’t happen to me. All I can think about is, strangely, Des.
Not my parents, not my relatives, not the girls from my softball team.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I love him, and now I’ll never get the chance to be with him. I hear a blast, and I see nothing but light. Am I dead? This doesn’t feel different at all. I touch my face. It still feels normal. Actually, my entire body feels normal. But, that blast definitely happened. I look around. The X.E.P.H.Y.R. is nowhere near me. He’s at least fifteen feet away from me. Well, what’s left of him anyway. He has been completely dismembered. I see the life pass away from his eyes, and he shuts down. Frantically, I turn everywhere to see who shot the blast. It doesn’t take me long to find out who fired it. He’s a little on the tall side, and he still has that same bored expression as always.
He walks slowly toward the general. Before he can get close to the X.E.P.H.Y.R.’s second in command, I grab his ankle to stop him. “Aaron, you . . . saved me. I, uh, well—”
“Don’t get sentimental with me Xena. I’m not finished here just yet,” he replies.
Over time, I have learned that rushing head-on into battle isn’t always the best ideas. Sometimes, you have to wait until the opportune moment presents itself. Then, strike with full force. I couldn’t have used that strategy any better than I did today. The X.E.P.H.Y.R. and his general have already beat the pulp out of Xena and her friends, so I won’t have to worry about wasting my energy on them.
And now, the program that is responsible for the genocide of the humans is destroyed. What a feat I have pulled off. This final commanding robot is the last obstacle that’s standing in my way. Once I’m finished with him, I can get my much-awaited revenge on Xena.
“Hey you. We have some unfinished business.”
“Don’t get so cocky Aaron Blake. You may have destroyed the X.E.P.H.Y.R., but you only managed to do so because he was completely off guard.”
“That’s not my fault. I saw an opportunity and I took advantage of it. That was pretty stupid of the ultimate program to leave his back completely exposed.”
“You have no right to mock the X.E.P.H.Y.R. He has done more in his lifetime than you could in ten lifetimes. You inefficient, filthy, greedy organic trash.”
“Save your pathetic insults for after our fight; if you still have the ability to speak by then.” I raise my fists and assume my stance. I still have my powers, but this guy won’t be a pushover. I have to be on my guard, or everything I’ve done up to this point would have been for nothing.
“Wretched filth. I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since the X.E.P.H.Y.R. foolishly decided to give you powers,” he replies with disgust.
“Bring it on.”
He quickly fires a deadly barrage of electric blasts at me. Even with my enhanced speed and reflexes, I have to try my hardest to avoid them. Dodging them gets too difficult, so I literally run circles around him to disorient him. It works.
The maneuver annoys him so much that he stops shooting, and he runs at me in full speed. I’m ready for his charge though, and although his first punch is very strong, I’m ready to block it. I counter with a kick to his pelvis. I connect, but he barely flinches.
Damn. That kick wasn’t nearly strong enough.
He smiles, and then he brings his elbow to my knee. I feel my leg bend the wrong way, and a sharp pain runs up my spine. I fall to the ground, and I clutch my knee.
He walks up to me slowly. “Pathetic human. Did you think you really stood a chance against me? Did you?!”
I don’t get a chance to answer. He uppercuts me in the jaw. While I hold my face, he kicks me in the stomach. I double over in pain.
“That foolish confidence you displayed earlier, where has it gone off to? You were so sure that I wouldn’t be a very hard match for you. Well then. Show me why your race is superior,” he taunts.
I smile at his change in attitude. “It’s funny. You’re making the same mistake I used to make.”
“What do you mean? Wait—”
I fire a large electric blast at him before he has time to react. I had been charging this attack for the entire fight, but he was too focused on my injury to notice. He’s stupid for that because I can accelerate the healing of my knee anyway.
I get up and brush the dust off my shoulders. The general is definitely on the edge of death. I have won, and now nothing is in my way. I approach him; eager to finish off what I started.
I spit on him. “Look at you. Your own arrogance was your downfall. Just like it will be for the rest of your kind.”
“You fool. You don’t realize what you did by destroying me and the X.E.P.H.Y.R.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Look at the screens . . .”
I don’t have anything to lose, so I honor his request. I look around and see scenes of total destruction on the screens.
“I already knew that robots were killing humans and destroying civilization. This isn’t anything new.”
“No you don’t understand. Without any programming to control them, the robots will act without any control. Right now, they are not only killing humans. They are destroying everything!”
“You didn’t think this through at all, did you? Congratulations. All you’ve done is ensured humanity’s destruction. In a way I should thank you. Without you—”
“Shut up! Once I’ve finished you off, I’ll take care of my other enemies. Then, I’m going to destroy every robot on Earth one by one.”
“What gives you the right?!”
“The right? What the hell are you talking about?”
“What makes your race so much more important than mine? We robots deserve to exist in this world just as much as you humans do. We made life easier for you organics, and what do we get in return? Absolutely nothing!”
“If you wanted compensation, then you shouldn’t have started a genocide of the race you want repayment from. It’s way too late for you now.”
I fire a powerful beam at his body; completely obliterating him.
Then, I turn my attention to the screens again. I hate to admit it, but the general has a point. The robots are just running wild now. Some are still killing humans, but most of them are just destroying anything that’s near them. I’d hate to see what the total death toll is now. Whatever it is, though, I can’t concern myself with it too much. Now, the world has changed so that only the strong can survive. Maybe that isn’t so bad.
Or is it?
Aaron just stands there. He saved me, but I feel like he did it for the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy that he destroyed the X.E.P.H.Y.R. (even though I wanted to do it), but without him, the robots have all gone berserk. I’m not sure if any of us saw this coming.
I really wish Des would wake up though. Yun is probably dead, and Ivy is still recovering from her fight with the general. I don’t want to be alone with him. He’s completely changed, and I know he wants to destroy me.
As if he reads my mind, he turns to look at me. “Xena, I believe we have some unfinished business. And this time, your little friends won’t get between us.”
“Aaron, don’t talk to me like that. You’re scaring me.”
“Don’t use that little girl act on me.” His slow approach has turned into a brisk walk. I keep backing up, but soon I will have no where left to back up to.
I’m getting desperate. I need to think of something fast, or he will kill me. “Aaron, wait. Can’t you see what’s happening back in the Physical World? We need to do something to save everyone. We can settle our differences later!”
“I honestly don’t care about them. Unlike you, I have no family or friends that I want to avenge. I tried to save humanity, but now that there are no solutions left, why bother? You’ve managed to avoid me for two years Xena, and that is impressive. But your luck has finally run out.”
My foot touches the edge of the building. I look over my shoulder. The drop from here is at least fifteen meters. There is no way I can survive a fall from this height. “If you’re doing all of this because of what happened that night, then, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break your heart. I just—”
“Don’t even try to pretend that you care. You’re only saying this to me now because I’m a threat to your life! You had plenty of chances before to say you were sorry, but you didn’t. You don’t care. You never cared!”
“Aaron, please! Listen to me!”
“Enough! I’m going to shut you up once and for all!”
He begins charging the most intimidating ball of energy I’ve ever seen. I know he’s going to kill me, but now that it’s only seconds away from happening, I can’t help but cry. Life is full of cruel jokes, but this one is the most messed up. Being killed by the person who you used to date. This just isn’t right.
Just as the blast is about to be fired, I close my eyes and tense up. I can’t watch this. Seconds later, I hear him fire it off—
I wake up to the smell of burnt metal, and the sounds of chaos around the planet. That elbow to the face had me out cold, and I’m surprised that the X.E.P.H.Y.R. didn’t kill me while I was down.
Wait, where is the X.E.P.H.Y.R.?
It doesn’t take me long to find him. He’s . . . on the ground in pieces. He’s dead. But, there is no way that we could have done what. Our group was getting man-handled by the X.E.P.H.Y.R. and his general. That means, the only person that could have defeated the X.E.P.H.Y.R. was . . .
“Aaron! What the hell are you doing here?” I demand.
“Me? I just came here for some much-deserved revenge. And I finally got it,” he replies with a cold smile.
This is unsettling.
“What do you mean by revenge? Surely you didn’t . . .”
It immediately hits me. How could I have missed this?
“Aaron. Where’s Xena?”
He laughs and looks up at the sky.
“Aaron, damn you. Answer me!”
He turns to look at me. “Your girlfriend is long gone buddy. I just turned her into a pile of ashes.”
I have never felt such emotions rage inside me before.
She’s gone. She’s really gone.
The girl I fell in love with two years ago is dead. All because of this . . . this heartless maniac! We could have spent our whole lives together. We had so much to look forward to, and now we’ll never get to do anything together anymore because of him! The worst part is that it’s my fault too. If I just had the courage to fight him myself, then she would still be here. No! Enough! This guy has caused enough pain in my life! I’m not letting him get away with this!
He begins to taunt me. “Hey, you ok nerd? Don’t get so worked up about this. People die all the time. It’s part of life. Get over it.”
I stand up straight, and I stare him straight in the eye. He doesn’t flinch. I walk closer to him until we are only a foot from each other. I’m still looking him right in the eyes. He still doesn’t believe that I have the courage to take someone’s life.
That’s about to change.