Flashback A novel by Faith, Sterling, Tayva, Casey, and Lyra

It is 2052 (S)AD. Humanity is on the brink of destruction, and the world is experiencing the Epoticopalival War of 2049. The United Provinces of Slanina are fighting against the Caj Union. Scientists at Hambriford University have developed a serum that is capable of wiping memories. The government of Slanina has utilized technology that will allow them to produce Ryborgs, or powerful robot soldiers. They have been conducting experiments at a government facility in Nashingcago, DC, and attempting to make more lifelike Ryborgs by using actual humans. These Ryborgs are being used to control citizens in Slanina and keep the government in power during war time. They are greatly feared among the people because of their strength and ability to wreak havoc.

I felt a sharp pain in the side of my neck. A needle. An abnormally large one, at that. I tried to grasp my last remaining thoughts, never willing to let them go. This is what I got for seeking information I was not to know. There I sat, paralyzed and helpless, my family torn from me and my memories lost. All I could feel was a desperate need to escape this prison of darkness. Darkness engulfed me as my last thoughts slipped away. I chanted my name in my head desperately, trying not to forget who I was. Alek Talib. Alek Talib. Alek...

Three Weeks Later…

“Finally, an escape!” I scrambled over the fence and snuck around the building. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the massive gateway with a sign in bold letters that stated, “The Institute.” Where was I? Regardless, I decided I had to escape. I noticed a keypad, and approached it cautiously. I raised my hand to enter a passcode, and my index finger instinctively entered a code. 2-1-8-7. I stared at my hand in shock as the gate slowly rolled open.

I ran faster than I ever had before. I felt a rush of adrenaline shoot through my veins, empowering me, pushing me forward. The wind tore at my skin. I didn’t know where I was headed, only that I must escape that tall, ominous building. Hearing voices behind me, I ran faster, not daring to look back.

“Stop! We want to help you!” Idiots. Did they really think I would fall for that? It was in that moment that I felt a sharp pain in my back. Tranquilizers. I kept running, fighting back my exhaustion and pushing against the darkness that threatened to overcome me. They would never take me back. My eyes became heavy, and my steps slowed. The world fell silent, and I became unconscious.

I opened my eyes slowly. Hunger gnawed at my stomach. I was on an incredibly soft couch. Oddly enough, I couldn’t recall ever being so comfortable. However, the comfort didn’t last. The door in front of me opened with a creak, and a ragged man stepped through it.

“Welcome back, my friend.” he said. I stared at him for a moment. Questions filled my mind.

“What is this place?” I asked.

“You are in the hands of the Rebels. We are fighting against the Institute, and judging by the way you were running, it is quite obvious you are not with them. Plenty of us have lost our families and loved ones to the Institute, and we have many reasons to torch the government. You escaped the Institute, which means you are a fighter, among other things. Do you remember how to get in?” The man sat there and stared at me with undaunting, hopeful eyes. I remembered the gate. I remembered the combination. 2-1-8-7.

“Yeah, I can get you in,” I replied confidently.

The man smiled. “Then come with me, my friend. Welcome to the Rebel Headquarters.”

Two Months Later...

“Alek.” A voice commanded, suddenly pulling me from whatever thoughts I had.

“Yes sir?” I asked respectfully as I stood up, arms folding behind my back automatically as a soldier would.

“It’s time, my friend, for you to infiltrate your former home and put an end to our technological overlords.” The ragged man said with his always dreamy stare into the distance.

“Sir?” “You know we’ve been preparing for months, my friend. You also know that the Institute's always been a prime target and they have taken precautions to prevent a revolt.”

“Yes sir.” I replied, always remembering to be respectful to that knowledgeable man. “But who will go in and put an end to the Institute’s tyranny?”

His dreamy stare suddenly broke for the first time and a distinct frown took over his usual smile. With a heavy sigh, he gazed directly into my eyes as he whispered, “You will, my friend.” He placed a small object in my hand. “This will terminate all Ryborgs. Plug it into the control screen, and your mission will be completed. Good luck.”

I headed up to the forsaken gate that I had escaped from so long ago. I never thought I would ever have to return to the Institute. Looking to my left, I noticed a guard tower, which was used to open the gate, no doubt. I opened the door and sat down at the terminal.

“Password” a mechanical voice asked. I reached for the keyboard and entered the only numbers I knew. 2-1-8-7. The gate opened with a creak. With a rush of relief, I ran through the gate and into government territory. We would enter the building through a side door, as entering through the main entrance would be suicide. I headed for it, unlocking the door with the same digits from the gate. They should really consider different passwords, I thought with a chuckle.

Darkness lingered in the room, even as the lights automatically turned on when I walked in. I saw a large filing cabinet, and I decided to look for any information I could use to break into the control room. As my fingers shuffled through the stack of folders, my breath hitched as I saw my name, “Alek Talib,” staring back at me. My heart started to pound as I opened the file. I read the words, “Access Granted,” and I realized I could potentially access the control room. I turned to a large metal door beside the cabinet, the entrance to the control room, and the moment I touched the handle, I heard the voice say, “fingerprint matched,” and the door opened.

A massive circular table greeted me, and I noticed a hand scanner on the surface. Hesitantly, I placed my hand on the scanner. A green light flashed beneath my palm, and I was startled to see a screen display a hologram filled with data of my profile emerge from the center of the table. One sentence caught my eye.

“Alec Talib, soldier number 37228, ryborg A113.” Ryborg? Soldier? My world spun as I realized that my very identity was a lie. I was not a prisoner of the Institute, as I had assumed. I was a Ryborg, created by the Institute to wreak destruction upon anyone in my path. I paused as I realized that since I was on a mission to destroy Ryborgs, I risked self destruction. However, I decided that if my death was all it took to rid the world of this robotic plague, it was a small price to pay.

I pulled the micro flash drive out of my pocket, and looked at it for a moment. This tiny bit of metal would inevitably cause my death, along with the death of all other Ryborgs throughout Slanina. My hand trembled as I plugged it into the side of the screen. The display became dark red, flashing frantically as if to try and fight off the virus already breaching the firewall and entering the transmitter that would shut off all Ryborgs.

“System overload,” said the same mechanical voice. “Attempting to regain control.” I watched the screen flicker back and forth between a multitude of colors, and I was filled with an odd sense of peace. “System overl...mission...today is December...cheese…” The voice warped, becoming deeper and slower until all I could hear was my own harsh breaths against the utter silence that seemed to permeate the room.

An electrical shock ran through my spine suddenly, and my legs crumpled beneath me. My ears began ringing suddenly, and a jolt of pain assaulted my temples, leaving me writhing on the floor in agony. This was the end. As my eyes shut and I took my final breath, an explosion rocked the building. Debris rained down, and I felt a sense of peace as everything faded away.

The whole society was turned upside down after the destruction of the Ryborgs. The reign of the robots had finally ended. Life under the control of the Ryborgs had suddenly come to a permanent, screeching halt. The threat of war and violence that had loomed over all the citizens of the United Provinces of Slanina had disappeared, and people were finally becoming accustomed to their peaceful, quiet lives. As grass began to sprout from the earth again, and birds chirped at dawn, laughter was heard for the first time in months in the streets of Nashingcago.

The old, crumbling ruins of the former Institute remained untouched after the explosion. None had dared to approach the area, not knowing what kinds of chemicals they could be exposed to. Weeds had already begun to inch up the fallen concrete. Suddenly, a chunk of stone shifted slightly. After months beneath the debris, a pair of familiar blue eyes opened.

The End

Credits:

Created with images by sagesolar - "Dominating a brooding landscape" • Vince Alongi - "Guilty index" • ejaugsburg - "environmental protection nature conservation ecology"

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