"I’ll survive for them, and with luck, I can make the Earth a planet worth coming back to."
|XII: Shattered Dreams|
Electrode spends hours explaining to me what the Avatar is. Amazing stuff.
Apparently, the Avatar was a super program that formed at the exact same time as its counter super program, the X.E.P.H.Y.R. While the X.E.P.H.Y.R. sought to destroy humans, the Avatar sought to improve the quality of life for everyone; regardless of whether they were organic or not. For a long time, the two programs fought over control of the digital world, and because they were equal in power, their overall effect on the world was neutral. Through unknown means, the X.E.P.H.Y.R. eventually began to gain an upper hand on the Avatar, and more robots began to follow him because the Avatar sided with humans. To tip the scale back in its favor, and to prevent any future disasters, the Avatar became dormant to increase his power. However, he cannot reactivate himself. A human must do that for him.
Shift back to present day, and it’s obvious what Electrode wants me to do. She wants me to be the new Avatar. She wants me to be the savior of humanity. I don’t know why I feel so nervous. This is what I want. It’s a goal for me to be the one who personally rids this planet of the artificial intelligence that plagues it. But, what if it isn’t supposed to be me?
“Electrode . . .”
“Please, call me Amber.”
“Ok, Amber. Why does it have to be me? You seem way more knowledgeable about this Avatar stuff than me.”
“I can’t be the one Xena, because I simply do not possess the will to fight against the robots.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not afraid of them. Not even a little. I do want them to be punished for what they have done to us. But, they haven’t done anything to me personally, so I wouldn’t fight at my full potential.”
“I see,” I answer. “Ok, I’m ready for this. Where is this Avatar power at?”
“It’s located just to your right actually.”
I turn to my right, but I see nothing.
“Uh, are you sure that’s it?”
“Just wait. It’ll show up in a second.”
A small light manifests itself in mid-air. It slowly gets brighter from a dull blue glow, to a bright white ball of energy. I don’t think Amber realizes this, but I can hear a voice from inside the light speaking to me. It must be the Avatar. “Welcome, Xena Modom. It is good to see you.”
“It’s nice to see you too, wherever you are in there.”
“There is little time to waste my human friend. The question I’m about to ask you will determine what you will be for the rest of your life.”
I may not be ready, but I can’t back down now. Too many lives are counting on me.
“I offer you the power to change the world, but this comes with a consequence. Once combined, we can never separate. You will be a part of me, and I will be a part of you. However, you will remain with full control of your body. Are you willing to live the rest of your life as a hybrid of a human and program?”
If I wasn’t willing, then I wouldn’t be here.
“I’m willing, and I’m ready. Let’s do this.”
“Excellent to hear. Step into the sphere of light you see before you,” he replies with a noticeable cheery tone.
I step into the light slowly, unsure of what to expect. And, for a long time, nothing happens. Then, my body begins to change. My green hair turns a light blue, and my eyes turn a blue-green color. My skin begins to glow, and it turns paler. Light shoots out from my eyes and mouth, and I feel overwhelmed with power. It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but there is absolutely no pain. I’ve received minor abilities from programs before, and it always felt like small additions to my body. However, this feels like my entire body is being restructured.
When the fusion is over, I stumble, and fall to my knees. The fusion must have taken a lot of my energy, because I feel like I just ran a marathon. Amber walks over to me, and she gently pulls me back up to my feel.
She smiles warmly at me. “So, how are you feeling, Avatar Xena?”
“I feel, different.”
“As expected. This has never been done before, so I can’t really tell you how you’re supposed to feel.”
Suddenly, I levitate in the air. Even when I focus with my entire mind, I cannot get back to the ground.
“Hey, what the hell is this? Why can’t I control my own freaking powers?” I ask, frustrated.
“Sorry, Avatar Xena. It will take some time for you to get acclimated to your new body. I never said that the change was going to be quick or easy. This will take commitment. You need to have patience and discipline, or all is lost.”
“Oh, all right. I wish I knew what to master first.”
“Don’t worry. I will train you, and fast.”
I smile at her. Once I learn how to use all of my abilities, then I will be unstoppable.
I’m not the type of person to wallow in self-pity, even if the situation is dire. So, Des is really pissing me off right now. And what do I do when people piss me off? I hit them. Hard.
I slap Des hard, and yell at him. “Hey! Have you thought of a real plan yet?”
“Fuck you Ivy,” he says while giving me the finger.
“In case you haven’t noticed Des, the entire world is under attack right now. We have to find some way to help or everything will be destroyed!”
“Who cares? None of that matters now.”
“Would you get a grip? What’s gotten into you?”
He looks at me with a neutral expression. “I don’t know.”
This is getting completely ridiculous. I don’t know what’s changed him, but he’s not about to give up on me now. I won’t let him. I can’t go on alone.
I grab him by the arm, and I pick him up to his feet.
“We are going to find a way to keep moving forward. You hear me?”
“Where do you think you two are going?” a chilling voice says from behind us.
Just when I thought our ordeal couldn’t get any worse, it does. We turn around, and there he is; the X.E.P.H.Y.R. He’s badly damaged from Aaron’s blast, but he’s still capable of fighting. We’re screwed this time. I don’t think anyone is coming to save us.
“I have to admit, I feared that I was damaged beyond repair when my former minion hit me with that blast,” he says while walking toward us. “Luckily, I have a backup life source. It is basically like having an extra life. You humans do not have this feature, since you are all such primitive, organic beings. Once I kill you, you will all be gone for good.”
I prepare for what could be my last fight, but Des just stands next to me, probably in a daze.
“Des! Look alive. We’re kind of in a situation here.”
“Oh, right. I’ll be ready as soon—”
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. quickly runs over, and he punches Des in the face. The blow knocks out two of his molars, and he spits out blood. Des doesn’t recover in time, and the X.E.P.H.Y.R. punches him over, and over again.
“What are you doing?! Fight back!” I scream.
He either ignores me, or he doesn’t hear me. He refuses to put up any defense against the X.E.P.H.Y.R.’s attacks, and when he connects a haymaker, Des falls backwards. He’s still conscious, but it looks like he’s in critical condition. He broke his nose earlier. That blow to the face may have been the nail in the coffin.
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. turns his attention to me. I know I don’t stand a chance against him, so I run towards the door. Unfortunately, he cuts me off just before I reach the door. Now there is literally no way for me to escape. I consider jumping off the roof, but I immediately push that thought aside. If I die, I’ll die like a hero. Not a coward.
“I can’t wait to rip out your heart, and burn it on a stake,” the X.E.P.H.Y.R. threatens. “It has been a while since I used organs as a fuel source.”
I almost throw up. “That’s gross.”
“Now you know how I feel looking at your species every day. You filthy worms. Once I finish you off, I’ll exterminate every other human. But since you two have been a thorn in my side, I’ll finish you two off slowly, and painfully.”
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. decides to go for Des first. I decide not to leave Des to die alone. Des notices the X.E.P.H.Y.R. moving towards him, but by the time he decides to start running, it is already too late. The X.E.P.H.Y.R. quickly catches up to him, and he grabs Des by the neck. Des tries to punch him, but his arms are way too small to reach him. Then, the X.E.P.H.Y.R. slams him into the floor hard. I can hear his neck breaking as he does so. As Des lays on the ground, desperately gasping for air, the X.E.P.H.Y.R. maniacally laughs at his suffering.
“You see this?! This is the fate of humankind!” he yells emphatically. He lifts his foot, and he crushes the bottom half of Des’s left leg. I almost faint when the blood hits my face.
“Ahhh!! What the fuck?! Just kill me already!” Des screams.
“I will human, but I want to see you grovel first,” the X.E.P.H.Y.R. says coldly. He morphs his hand into a blade, and he stabs Des in the stomach. Des wails around in pain, and the X.E.P.H.Y.R. laughs even louder. I can’t bear to watch any more of this slaughter.
“X.E.P.H.Y.R. stop! This is inhumane! We wouldn’t make your robots suffer like this!” I yell.
“Oh quit it with your nonsense. Given the opportunity, I’m sure you dirty little animals would do the exact same thing.”
“No we wouldn’t! You’re just generalizing our species. That isn’t fair at all.”
“Enough out of you! You have no right to judge what is fair and unfair. Once I am finished with this worm, I’m coming for you next.”
I stagger back a little when I hear him say that. I can get angry all I want, but looking at what is probably Des’s final moments, I realize the terrible truth. It’s over for us two.
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. twists the blade, and he moves it closer to Des’s heart. Des isn’t yelling anymore though. I think he’s close to passing out from the pain.
“Don’t even think about it human.”
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. slaps Des to keep him from passing out.
“I want you to feel this cold blade.” Then, he brings the blade through Des’s torso, and up through his head; basically cutting him in half.
I fall to my knees, and I cry harder than I did when I saw Yun get stabbed. Today, I watched or heard all of my friends die terrible, gruesome deaths. And now, I’m going to die alone.
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. turns to look at me. “So, are you going to struggle for the last few seconds of your life, or are you going to submit to my power?”
I start running away from him before he finishes asking the question.
“If I can just reach the door,” I say under my breath. It’s about ten feet away from me now. I can hear the X.E.P.H.Y.R. chasing me though. I don’t have much time.
I manage to get my hand on the door, but the X.E.P.H.Y.R. grabs my hair, and he picks me up. Unlike last time, he just holds me up. This is torture because I can feel my body’s weight pulling on my scalp, and I can barely breathe.
“X.E.P.H.Y.R., please, no more,” I beg.
“You pathetic trash. I suppose I can honor your last request.”
He throws me into the ground hard. I feel my skull crack, and then everything goes black . . .
This training session was easily the toughest thing I had to go through, but it was completely worth it. Now, I can do everything the X.E.P.H.Y.R. can do, and possibly more. I just hope I’m not too late to save my friends.
“You’ve done great Xena,” Amber says happily. “Your training is complete. Now you have all the abilities necessary to save the world.”
“Oh fuck yeah. I’m pumped. Let’s go take out the X.E.P.H.Y.R. right now.”
“Hold on one moment, Avatar Xena. Remember that the fate of the entire world rests on your shoulders. Stay focused, and keep a clear goal in mind,” she says.
“Right. I’ll make sure that every life lost is accounted for when I destroy the X.E.P.H.Y.R.”
“That’s good to hear. Let’s teleport back.”
Amber places her hand on my forehead, and she closes her eyes. Then, we get absorbed by a large flash of light. When the light disappears, we find ourselves on the same roof where everyone was fighting before. Something isn’t right though. It is too quiet, and no one is here.
“Amber, something isn’t right,” I say. “I don’t see any of my friends.”
She doesn’t reply, but I can hear her gasp. Slowly, I turn around to see what caught her attention. I soon wish that I hadn’t. Ivy is on the ground, and she isn’t moving. Her back is clearly broken, and her skull is cracked open. She’s lying in a pool of her own blood.
“Xena, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know this would happen,” Amber says. I don’t pay any attention to her. There is another corpse that catches my eye.
His body is horribly mutilated. He is almost cut in half, and he is nothing but a bloody mess now. If it wasn’t for the glasses nearby, then I wouldn’t be able to recognize him at all. I can’t believe it. All of my friends . . .
“So how does it feel, Avatar, to see how you’ve failed once again?” I hear a familiar voice say. The X.E.P.H.Y.R.
“You. What the hell did you do to them?”
“Isn’t it obvious what I did? I killed them. I gave them slow, and painful deaths. It was a wonderful experience. I wish I could do it again.”
There are no words that can describe the deep hatred I feel for the X.E.P.H.Y.R. This program is responsible for the deaths of billions of people. This program is responsible for the deaths of my parents. And now, this program is also responsible for the untimely end for all three of my friends.
But there is no time for me to feel sad. Not a single death that he has caused will go unaccounted for. Not a single one. When I destroy him for good, I will do it with the willpower of all mankind!
Amber gives me a concerned look. “Avatar Xena, good luck.”
I keep a straight face. “Thanks, but I won’t need it.”
“A little arrogant, Avatar,” the X.E.P.H.Y.R. says in a mocking tone. “Have you forgotten what happened last time you challenged me? Sure you have the powers of the Avatar, but I am still superior to you in every way. This won’t even be a fight.”
“Trust me X.E.P.H.Y.R., I’m finishing you off once and for all.”
I don’t know what starts it, but we immediately go at it. My increased speed and quickness surprises me, but I manage to retain my focus. All my training with Amber pays off, because the X.E.P.H.Y.R. is clearly having trouble keeping up with my speed. I punch and kick so fast, that all my movements look like a blur. It’s incredible. I’ve never felt so powerful before, and I haven’t even used any of my beam attacks yet. He really can’t keep up with me at all.
“You’ve gotten a little better, but—”
I kick him in the face before he can finish his trash talk. If this was a few months ago, I would be insulting the X.E.P.H.Y.R. right back. I’m too mature to do that now. There is a mission that I must complete, and I’m the only person left in my group. I can’t fail. If I die, then everyone does.
The closer I get to destroying him, the more desperate he gets.
“Wait a minute Xena, think about what you are doing here. Without me, who will control the robots? Surely you won’t be able to handle that task on your own.”
“I’m serious. You won’t know what to do without me here.”
I give the X.E.P.H.Y.R. a cold, long stare. “You listen, and you listen good. You need me, but I certainly don’t need you. Do you want to know why? I’ll tell you. I’m the fucking Avatar, and once you’re gone, I’m going to fix this planet you tore apart.”
“Well then, you are certainly confident. I was hoping it wouldn’t have to come to this, but you give me no choice. You have a tough decision to make.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Amber notions for me to ignore him, but the X.E.P.H.Y.R. has my full attention now.
“Avatar Xena, you and I, we cannot exist without each other. This is why I didn’t destroy the original incarnation of the Avatar. Should one of us die, the other one will parish as well.”
I freeze. Is he being serious right now? He must be messing with me. He only wants to save himself. And, even if he isn’t lying, I will destroy him. Even if that means sacrificing myself. Ultimately, I decide to call his bluff.
“Bullshit! You’re making this up to keep me from destroying you!” I fume. I wail on him again. By this point, he is way too weak, and damaged to fight back or defend himself. I have him exactly where I want him.
I hold him up by his collar. “The hardest decision for me to make right now isn’t whether I should kill you or not. It’s how I should kill you. I would love for your death to be slow and painful. You made your victims suffer, so you should feel the same pain.”
“Wait, did you not hear me? If I die, you’ll die too. You fool!”
“You’re a lot of things, but you are a terrible liar. If this was true, then you wouldn’t be so nervous right now. You’re just trying to save face.”
The X.E.P.H.Y.R. pauses for a long time; unable to think of a lie that will save his life.
“But, but, you can’t do this! Think about all that I’ve done for humanity!” he yells desperately.
I put my hand on his face, and I stare at him with narrow eyes. “Farewell.”
With fierce concentration, I delete the X.E.P.H.Y.R. It isn’t easy at all, since he is such a complicated program, but in about twenty minutes, it’s over. The malevolent program that is responsible for the human genocide is gone forever.
I breathe a sigh of relief. Seconds later, Amber runs over and hugs me. “Xena, you did it! You deleted him! Not even the original Avatar could do that.”
“Thanks Amber. I couldn’t have done it without you, or my friends. . .” I say sadly.
“Oh yeah. I’m really sorry about them. I wish we were there to keep this from happening,” she says quietly.
I look at all of their corpses. I breathe out slowly. “Yeah, me too.”
“As I’m sure you are aware, they are not fully dead. Since they died in the Digital World, their physical bodies will be stuck in a comatose state. For how long, I don’t know.”
“Isn’t there some way for me to revive them? Can I do anything to speed up their recovery? Anything?!” I ask frantically. Amber shakes her head. “I’m afraid not. Again, I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t be. Without you, we would have lost a lot more lives.” I say while looking at the screens. “Damn, it’s still really bad out there. Those militias are fighting hard, but some of them are getting overwhelmed.”
“I’m aware of this. We must go help them.”
“We? Can’t I just control all the robots now? I can tell them to back off.”
“No, no, no, only the X.E.P.H.Y.R. is truly capable of controlling all of the robots. That’s the one advantage he held over you.”
“Well, shit. Now what do we do?”
“We do what I trained you to do, Avatar Xena. We take the fight to the robots. With you on our side, we will win this war. I know it,” Amber says passionately.
“Ok, if you say so,” I say quietly. I’m confident that we can defeat the robots, but I don’t know how much fight I have left in me. This war won’t end soon.
Amber puts her hand on my forehead, and we teleport again. Judging from the ruins, we are in what used to be New York City. This is where one of the human militias is holding up. There is a major battle going on.
Amber shoots me a confident look, and she winks at me. “Are you ready for battle, Avatar Xena?”
I charge up balls of electricity in each hand, and I smile maniacally. “I’ve never been more ready. Let’s take back our planet!”
And with a fierce battle cry, we rush into the battlefield. With my abilities, we quickly turn the battle in favor of the humans. Now, all we need to do is keep this up for the rest of the war.
This is my third visit to the digitizing center since our original mission. Des, Ivy, and Yun are all in comas still, even though it has been ten years. Seeing them like this hurts, because they aren’t dead. But, deep down, something tells me that they really are dead. I guess I’ll never know for sure. Wherever they are right now, I hope they’re happy. They were all very brave, and selfless, for doing what they did.
I haven’t fallen in love with anyone else since Des. Funny huh? The first boyfriend I have that I truly care about, dies. Life is so mean with its irony sometimes. At least he looks at peace now. He won’t have to struggle with getting picked on, or beaten up, every day.
I will never allow the legacies of my friends to go to waste. I’ll survive for them, and with luck, I can make the Earth a planet worth coming back to. Until then, rest in peace guys. I promise I’ll visit you all again someday.