Netopia: Hope and Tragedy
[Live-News] >> This Is WNN, your World News Network, bringing you live and important news from around the globe and beyond. <<
[Live-News] The broadcast begins as the camera pans to a wide-angle view of Able City, Netopia. There's a large crowd assembled in the Netopia Colluseum, and security appears to be fairly tight. A large platform has been set up towards the back of the field, where the President and some of the chief military and governmental leaders of Netopia are sitting behind a large podium. Beside them is Signas himself, Commander in Chief of the Maverick Hunter forces. The screen shows a familiar red-backed ticker underneath, streaming news bites, while the location and time of the event, as well as the speaker is displayed just above. An offscreen commentator's voice begins.
"It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in Able City as President Geoffrey August Southerland prepares to deliver his State of Netopia speech to the nation and to the world. With him is the General Randal Wollbrink of the Netopian Military, Vice-President Montgomery D. Jameson and Commander Signas of the Maverick Hunters. It looks like the crowd is getting settled and the President is getting ready to make his address."
[Live-News] "Here in the crowd we can see several corporate executives... there's Shuuseki Ijuiin of IPC Corporation...."
The ticker bar shows news notes that IPC's corporate headquarters recently relocated to Netopia, and stocks for them are up.
"... And here we have ambassadors from several other nations... Sharo's General Melenkov is present here with his nephew... And there are several other representatives from Yumland, Brightland, Amazonia, Tanabata..." Many other national representatives are named.
[Live-News] The President gets up and walks over to the podium, straightening his tie. His in his mid fifties with a bit of gray in his black hair. He has intelligent green eyes, and the sort of chiselled features you'd expect a hardened soldier to have. The camera focuses in on him. He's smiling. His eyes are full of joy and hope that even the broadcast seems to convey.
The crowd hushes and everything focuses in on Southerland.
"Citizens of Netopia, honored guests and deligates, I would like to welcome you to Able City to participate in an act of change, today. As many of you well know, Netopia has supported Giga City in its move to independence as a free reploid state. I was just a senator at the time Giga City was put into creation, but I was proud to see it birthed from Netopian ingenuity and dedication. I'm prouder still, because the reploids of Giga City have embraced one of the primary ethos of our culture:"
[Live-News] "Today," Geoffrey continues, "I am speaking to the reploids, robot masters, and sentient drones that are living among us. The artificially created intelligences that mankind has made as helpers, servants, workers and friends."
His brows furrow slightly in the passion of his words. "There has been a great injustice done here, and perhaps it took Giga City to make us wake up and see it. For over two hundred years we have kept you as property, giving you owners. You are our mechanical children; we, as your parents, sought to keep you safe, to guide you, to protect you and to protect ourselves. We needed you. That can never be denied."
"Technology has grown and advanced, and robotics has gone from a toddler taking its first baby steps, to a children asking those difficult questions of "Why am I here?" and "What is the meaning of my life?". We have tried to give you those answers as best we can, for they're questions we humans ask of ourselves."
"But now it seems, to us in Netopia, that our mechanical children have grown. You're not infants to be held close and protected anymore. You're not children learning to grow and play nice with the other kids. You are young men and women. You are ready to leave the nest."
[Live-News] "As of the twenty-sixth of June, twenty-two thousand nine, Netopia declares its artificial life forms to be full citizens, with the rights and privileges of any human being. The Reploid Rights Act has been passed."
There is a sudden murmur among the crowd and many stand up and give a sudden standing ovation before the President can continue. The cheering is enormous, and it is echoed by millions of reploids across the world.
[Live-News] Southerland lets them cheer; they've earned it. After a minute or so, he raises his hands, signalling to the crowd that he's not quite done yet. When some semblance of order is returned, the President continues.
"Robotic denizens of Netopia can get their civilian identifcations at emergence centers across the country. Please be patient with us as we process all this; it will take a little while to assimilate a few million new citizens into the country at once." He chuckles a moment. And then with a deep breath, he continues, now looking more serious.
"As you are aware, our government's policies are in direct conflict with the law of the Federation. Master Albert. Master Thomas, Master Mikhai - I would like to thank you personally for the tireless work you have committed yourselves to. After the fall of Eurasia, you stepped up to the plate in a way none of the rest of us could. You helped guide humanity out of its potential extinction. You shepherded us through the dark times and lead us to getting our feet back under us as a nation. It is with a heavy heart that we, the people of Netopia, must renounce our fealty to the Federation. This is not intended as an act of war, nor as an act of defamation. We wish to continue to work with the Federation in good faith, but we will defend ourselves and our new reploid citizens with force if we must.
[Live-News] Signas adjusts the brim of his hat, and glances out over the crowd. His face is carefully neutral. He takes a moment to let the crowd settle again before he speaks.
"People of the world, I'm here to address you on behalf of the Maverick Hunters. We have been your faithful guardians and protectors since the creation of the reploid itself. Time and again it has been our honor, our privilege, our very existence, to secure peace and protect this world and its people - human or machine - from threats both within and without."
"We believe that we can best continue to do this as free citizens, instead of an automated mechanical defense."
"The Maverick Hunters have been the property of Cain Labs until the passing of my father, the distinguished Doctor Edward Cain, at which time ownership transferred to the government of Netopia. As Netopia has seceded from the Federation..."
"... So have we."
[Live-News] The President approaches the podium again, and Southerland and Signas stand side by side. "I have spoken with Commander Signas previous to this announcement, and we've come a favorable agreement." He beams. "It is with great pride that I welcome the Maverick Hunters as members of the Netopian Armed Forces, Special Operations division."
He offers his hand to Signas.
Signas smiles in genuine, and takes the offered hand, shaking it.
[Live-News] The crowd stands and cheers; there's a lot to take in. The ticker at the bottom is going crazy with updated information.
And that's when it happens... And it's a sickening sound. There's a crackle. Then a series of pops, as if iron girders had severed themselves in two. Along every seam and connection where concrete met concrete with a cement bonding, that very bonding was pulverized... turning to dust and sprinkling out of every crack and crevice. Chunks of brick began to shake loose and fall to the ground. The colloseum itself gave a great, hard LURCH... it shook. It shook not just the building but the ground around it as several hot, silver bursts of light went off around it near it's support collumns. Up top several other charges ignite into a brilliant hail of silver light.
Finally the ground at the very center of the colloseum begins to slowly cave inward as the foundation on which it sat seemed to bubble up through the floor, as if it too were pulverized and the concussive force was shoving bits of chunky concrete up through the ground to roll onto the lawn as if it'd come up from thick tar. -- Somehow... it seemed like the world was crumbling down and the whole world was watching.
As if the explosions echoing about weren't enough, from deep within that sound of bursting, crumbling concrete, screams and horrified calls to run, to flee... there was a loud -POP-POP-POP-... Three shots. Each one well guided, racing through the distance, shattering through bits of falling concrete, through dust as they sailed lower... lower... lower still... only to sever the collar of one of the dignitaries throats in a hail of blood not -FIVE. FEET.- from the President...
Just as Axl burst onto the scene... a lone hunter... no backup... no fair warning... no call ahead to save lives...
[Radio: Global] Rock says, "THis is ROck. I'm on scene."
[Radio: Global] Maylu and Maylu's eyes both widen with fright.
[Radio: Global] Maylu and Roll's*
[Radio: Global] Bass says, "HA! ... f**kin'... told you..."
[Radio: Global] Alexander Skye says, "......"
[Radio: Global] Alexander Skye says, "...no."
[Radio: Global] Light says, "Go, Rock! They need your help more than it's ever been needed now!"
[Radio: Global] Aile khh! "No way!"
[Radio: Global] Aile says, "Who would attack at a time like this?!"
[Radio: Global] Aile says, "Model X, R.O.C.K. ON!"
[Live-News] The World News Network transmission goes to static.
Suddenly, the image is changed, swept away from the scene of chaos and destruction. The channel ghosts slightly, prismatic double images as the signal attempts to strengthen. After a moment, the image is clear.
Gate sits in front of a camera, a red velvet curtain behind him. He's visible only from the waist up. He's perfectly calm, composed, even smugly confident, a thin smile on his inhumanly perfect lips.
"Hello," he begins casually, grinning, a flash of perfectly white teeth.
"Today is the day I decided to make a point," he says, gesturing with one hand. "I've been doing a lot of thinking you see, and I've come to a very distressing conclusion."
His tone and visage grow instantly gold, hard and unforgiving. "I'm wasting my time on all of you. Wasting my time and my efforts. I have lived under the thumb of the Federation and the Maverick Hunters, being a good little prisoner, paying my debt to society with bowed head and bended knee. And to what end? Decades later I'm still still painted a monster, still treated as the scum of the earth. And my works are no more recognized now than they were before, when you heartless bastards murdered my children."
Gate sighs dismissively and closes his eyes, looking frustrated, as if speaking to children or the ignorant. "There is a crisis abounding. Several, in fact. And I am being chained to a desk, strangled in red tape, kept cowed and in my place when I could be doing so much GOOD for the world! While it saddens me to have to take this disagreeable step, I must once more become the prodigal son of humanity."
He looks at the camera again, red flashing in his violet eyes, and the smiles returns to his face. "I'll save you all, you see.... by any means necessary."
The transmission abruptly ends.
[Radio: Global] Aile coughs through the dust, now shown to be in Model X form, "This just keeps getting worse!"
[Radio: Global] Alexander Skye says, "Is it you...? Is it you who's doing this?"
[Radio: Global] Layer cuts in immediately, distraught. "Gate, come in!!"
[Radio: Global] Layer, after a moment, yells again. "GATE!!"
[Radio: Global] Aile says, "..."
[Radio: Global] Aile angrily, "That's really mature for a world leader!"
[Radio: Global] Axl says, "..."
[Radio: Global] Bass says, "What the hell did you expect... Netopia just waved its dick in the Fed's face."
[Radio: Global] Axl desynchs.
Without warning the last of the supports pop free from the weight of holding up the entire building... the last of what used to be this great monument of art and history begins to fold in on itself... crumbling, falling. The top is a cloud of thick gray dust, the bottom a smoldering remain that hadn't quite fallen... a beacon of the beauty that was... And then it all begins to pancake... crumbling into a black-gray fog. Thick, acrid, smothering... The entire structure falls at freefall speed...
In just seconds the last of the people running ar suddenly chased by a creature made of ash and dust and destruction... It washes across the parking lot, floods into the surrounding environment. A dust bomb of broken glass and concrete and metal expands out like an all encompassing beast...
And a radius of 1.5 miles is suddenly drown in debris...