They say that adrenaline can make the body go into slo-mo mode, that it can help you think clearly, quickly, and decisively. At this moment, for me, that’s a load of bullshit.
Everything’s happening so fast I can’t process it. My mind is frozen, glitched up like a bluescreen’d computer. Gunshots, screams, the Earth Group punk grabbing me by the collar and drawing a switchblade with his free hand–it all makes me feel a bit useless because I’m completely overwhelmed.
How did it all come to this?
Why am I even here?
Why are any people here in this world? Do we even really exist, or are we the blip of a dream from some other being?
I don’t know, and I don’t know why these kinds of thoughts are going through my head right now as everything around me erupts into chaos. I don’t know why this Earth Group gang member is trying to kill me, and I don’t know why my ears are ringing from the sound of bullets whizzing by my head, coming from warbots flying over me. There’s a lot my mind doesn’t know right now.
But what my mind does know is that my body isn’t going to let this happen without acting. It can’t let that happen.
Before my mind can begin to understand what is going on, my body has already successfully wrangled itself away from the Earth Group guy, landing on its feet, and then kicking the man in the groin.
My body sees Karina and Amy tussling with the other two. My mind doesn’t remember how they got there, and it can’t recognize the immense danger both girls are in right now. My body, however, decides to rocket forward, decides to slam one guy into the other.
It hurts like hell, but it’s worth it, my mind thinks.
The Earth Group guys are down, just like that.
Impressive work, body. I’d like to regain control of myself, though. Can I please?
Okay, thank you, brain, for letting me realize what I’m doing again.
I zone back into full consciousness and hear Karina as she shouts shouts, “Morgan!”
“Karina! Amy! Are you okay?”
Amy, for her part, is too distracted by the stampeding civilians and flying, shooting robots to answer. Karina only nods.
For everything going on, Karina’s kept herself strong and composed. There’s gunfire and people falling over dead, with robots flying overhead and attacking everything in sight. And she isn’t the least bit worried. That helps me out a lot, because I’m completely losing it.
The people in the convention center are running in frenzied crowds in any direction, pushing us around, nearly trampling us over. The cliche term is usually a “sea of people,” but this is more like a waterfall.
The war robots are almost like herding us, shooting in front of people, flying in groups of two to different sides of the main hall to match the crowds. These are the Sakaguchi Knights. These are the same robots shown off just hours ago as keepers of the peace. And now…
“We’ve got to stop these things,” I say.
Karina looks at me like she’s about to slap me. “Morgan, you fought a team of weaponless household robots and only won because a Cybermancer helped you. These are warbots. They’re designed to kill soldiers.”
“I’ve got a lot of power in me,” I say.
“Not that much,” she says. “We have to evacuate people. Not fight the robots. Do you understand?”
I don’t know if she’s right. I’m supposed to be the strong one. I’m supposed to be the hero. But still, I say, “Yeah…”
“Well I’m getting the hell outta here!” shouts Amy as she looks through the crowd for an opening to run away.
“Don’t be a jerk!” I shout back. “Help us!”
One of the Earth Group guys wakes back up and starts to stand, but I punch him in the head and he goes back down. Why the hell are they even here?
Why the hell is anything here? What is going on?!
“Okay, uh, I don’t know what to do here,” I say. “I am completely lost. Karina–”
Karina is already rushing headlong into the fray and tackling a skinny guy who was about to be pummeled by one of the robots. I follow along and jump in front of the robot, trying to distract it into focusing on me, who can at least kinda survive against this stuff.
It pushes me out of the way and marches forward. I jump on its back, but it shakes me off too quickly. Hey! Fight me!
It’s not even attacking anyone… it’s searching with both its eyes for a certain target, and doesn’t seem to be finding them. That is, until it turns around, pushing me away again and jumping at one random man in a suit. It grabs the man–
Then, the robot activates its rocket pack and flies away with him. The man lets out a high pitched scream, and the woman previously next to him is sobbing.
“Harold!” she cries.
I grab both of her arms and look her in the eye, saying, “You need to get out of here, right now. Hurry, please.”
In shock, she runs towards the main entrance and away from the bulk of the chaos. I look up in the air and track the robot holding the man. It circles around near the ceiling a couple times before dipping back down and moving in the direction of the conference hall.
Karina, still trying to usher people to safety, looks up in the air, and her eyes widen. “Whatis it doing?”
“I don’t know.”
It isn’t just that single robot. More people are getting picked up and taken into the air, more people are being snatched by the Sakaguchi Knights. But why? What–
Then, Karina and I see it at once. One of the people in the robot’s gasp– a bald Japanese man—
“Father!” Karina shouts. Without hesitation, she sprints forward. I lose track of her, and I’ve already lost track of Amy. The waterfall of people is hardly dissipating, the gunshots are hardly ceasing.
My eyes keep track of Karina’s father and the robot holding him. But it’s flying too far, too fast, to the conference center. I’ll never be able to catch up.
A young boy has fallen over, and I have to help him up before he’s injured by the people around him. By the time I get him up and refocus on the scene around me, the robots have stopped shooting. The screams continue, but their numbers are growing fewer. Many have finally evacuated.
The boy gives a thankful nod before running off. I look up and see another robot fly towards the conference center.
In fact, almost all of the robots are headed to the same place, and many of them are also carrying people in their arms. I don’t know why any of this is happening, but I’m following. I’m sprinting.
I also don’t know where Amy or Karina are anymore. I don’t have time to think about that, because I have to save these people being taken away. Karina’s father included.
The gunfire is growing more sparse in the main hall, but the closer I get to the conference hall, the more I can hear screaming. This is absolute terror.
To the best of my ability, I am trying to ignore the bodies on the ground. That isn’t something I’m ready to face yet. I have to focus on the present. I have to.
Nearby Amy is helping an elderly man to his feet when she sees me and dashes over. I’m so glad she’s safe.
“What’s going on?” she asks when she reaches me.
“The robots are taking people into the main conference hall.”
“They’re kidnapping people for… something. I don’t know, and I don’t know why, but we have to save them.”
“Um, there’s a problem with that,” Amy says.
“Look in front of you.”
In front of the entrance to the conference hall stands a towering, seven-foot-tall man with a mohawk and bloodlust in his slit eyes.
He shakes his head as we approach. “No tickets, no entry,” he says.
Then the man punches his fist to an open palm. A spark of electricity bursts out from his hands.
I don’t have time to think about the implications of what’s going on. I don’t particularly care at the moment, either. He’s a barrier, and I have to get past him.
“Hey Amy, you should probably actually run away,” I say.
“Not this time,” she says. “Let’s kick his ass.”