The System: Part One
A spinning-roundhouse to the jaw and then quickly teleporting to a squatting position on the opposite side of his opponent, as he’s spun around from the impact of the kick, gave Dade the perfect window for a series of punches to the ribs. This was enough to stun Wick momentarily, drag him into the next room at super-speed and tether him to the ground. Now, Dade finally had Zephyr all to himself, but he had to act quickly if he wanted to take his enemy out of commission long enough to finish his plan.
Avi, helplessly tethered to the wall due to the Reality Physics Engine being engaged in the room where she has been trapped, yells to Dade with fierce encouragement. Hearing this, he gets that determined look on his face that the hero of every story always gets right before they defeat the bad guy; you know the one. But what Dade didn’t realize is that Zephyr had an “Ace” up his sleeve…
It is twenty years from now, and the world of the future is far beyond what anyone had ever imagined possible. Robots, flying cars and spaceships all exist, yet are merely novelties compared to everything else that has come to be. Telekinesis, super-strength, super-speed, time-travel and teleportation are just a few of the incredible abilities that people now have. The catch is that this all exists only in a virtual reality world known as The System, where people spend most of their time living and working now. Imagine the most futuristic looking world that you can think of, and you won’t even be close.
The days of dragging yourself out of bed and driving your car or taking a cab in rush hour traffic to get to your job in the big city are a thing of the past. Gone are the times when you had to worry about being late to work so that you could get your children on the school bus safely and still have time to stop for a coffee. No longer are people getting shoulder-checked on the overcrowded sidewalks of New York City or creating lane-closures on I-95 just because they weren’t able to drive and talk on their cell phones at the same time. Now you simply wake up, eat breakfast, lie back down and “Login” to a completely realistic world in cyberspace.
This virtual world is linked to the real world in realtime, and 90 percent of the population works and plays within this computer-generated reality. Though, computers don’t really exist anymore; they are for the most part, virtual, and are now simply called, “Coms”.
And since currency only exists in cyberspace now, the people who do the obviously necessary jobs back in the real world, such as doctors and maintenance technicians, spend the rest of their free time living in The System. These people make up about 8 percent of the population; leaving 2 percent who never venture into the virtual world and simply live off of the land.
Although this virtual life is utterly amazing and the possibilities are endless due to the freedom from the physical restraints of the real world, everyone must have a job, whether in cyberspace or not, or they cannot get past the “Lobby” once they’ve logged in. But with manufacturing, distribution and warehouses being irrelevant in a world where ideas go from design to being made out of nothing other than bytes, there are enough jobs to go around. And while manufacturing, distribution and warehouses are still necessities in the real world for the few things that we need in real life, such as food and clothing, all aspects are automated and controlled remotely from workers inside of the virtual world.
It used to be that truck drivers often spent weeks at a time away from home while they drove from state to state. Now, with the realization of linking remote controlled vehicles to The System, these drivers can simply park their tractor trailers in the real world after their shifts end and teleport home to their families while still inside of The System. In fact, people are no longer separated from their family as a result of where they work or live because teleportation is how everyone travels in The System and is instantaneous.
There is no such thing as Daylight Savings Time these days because farmers can control their equipment remotely at anytime of the day with the aid of illuminating grounds, walls and skies. Every square inch of Earth is programmed into and linked to the virtual world, so when someone operates any machine or vehicle remotely from The System, it is in the exact same place in reality. The benefit is that the ground, the walls and even the sky can be illuminated at night in the virtual world. No lamps or light bulbs are needed in The System, ever. And GPS along with heat signature sensors identify animals and humans in the real world and insert an image of them into the virtual world for their safety.
Unemployment is all but a distant memory due to the endless supply of jobs spanning from remote manual labor to the infinite creations of the imagination. Dade Collie, for instance, enjoys his career as a Virtual Architect. He gets paid to express his creativity in The System by designing homes; the floating kind. See; there are no laws of physics here, so buildings can float in the sky and many communities reside miles above the ground or on other planets. People even have the individual choice to acknowledge gravity or not. However, in certain situations such as sporting events, the Reality Physics Engine is activated to keep players honest.
Dade is currently working on a home design for a young professional named Avi Via. Fresh out of college, she was recruited by a subdivision of the technological conglomerate, VTS, which is responsible for the creation of The System. Her thesis on Advanced Reality Physics Engines caught the attention of some big shot there so they offered her a job on the day that she graduated.
It was obvious that Avi, an attractive 21 year old with shoulder-length, electrified blue hair, knew that Dade would check her out when he thought she wasn’t looking. Avi didn’t mind; Dade was fit and tall, with medium length brown hair and is very well spoken. They both knew that they’d make a nice looking couple. They had been spending a lot of evenings together planning her home after she’d get off of work.
“Have you ever thought that there were too many people who are in good shape?” asked Avi with her head cocked to the side and her eyes squinting a little.
Dade, caught off guard, thought for a moment and replied’ “Well, it is mandatory to exercise at least an hour a day- with most people doing another hour of Martial Arts training. And since people don’t go out to eat for recreation in The System, everyone eats healthier… Wait a second; you’re not one of those people who believe in ‘the rumor’?”
Avi turned away and stared at the ground. It was clear that Dade had struck a nerve, and he didn’t want to blow his chances of taking her out. “I mean… I guess it’s possible, but wouldn’t we feel it? Wouldn’t we at least sense it?” he reasoned.
“Forget I said anything!” she spouted quickly. Then, peering down at his virtual clipboard that contained her floor plans, she pointed at some notes and asks, “What did you decide about this wall?” They both just pretended nothing happened and moved on to discussing the design. He told her that just like any other wall in The System, it could be moved with a “point and click”, which now means that you literally point at something with your finger and click your tongue to activate it. Then, you can move it anywhere, no matter the size, as long as it doesn’t invade someone else’s space. Moving into a new house is as simple as teleporting your things, which takes less than a second, then organizing them by clicking and pointing, which takes mere seconds.
The next day, they met to talk about the house, but Avi had other plans. “I want to show you something” she said, “This is a vid of me going back to a month after the inception of The System.” Holding out a virtual playback device, Dade leaned over to take a look. As he watched, his eyes opened widely and his jaw dropped in disbelief.
“Okay, so, we both know that you can go back in time to observe any event, but you can’t make any changes, right?” Avi asked rhetorically. “So then, tell me how Zephyr was able to do that?” referring to the fact that everyone knew that Zephyr, the CEO of VTS, was conducting a momentous interview about the progress of The System at the exact same time but in a different place than where Avi was observing.
“I recognize the date… hell; I was there when he did that interview!!!” exclaimed Dade. “Even if he was linked and doing a hologram message in the other place where you were, he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did!”
At that very moment, the Keyword Detection Center (KDC) alerted Wick about the potential situation. Wick is the equivalent of the loyal right-hand-man of any corrupt leader that you can think of. He believes so blindly in the cause, that he would do anything to protect it. That includes silencing conspirators who are trying to prove that the rumor is true.
There is a group of people who believe that Earth was all but destroyed and the survivors are living on a space station, plugged-in to a make believe world until the day when Earth is re-inhabitable, with the exception of a few people who keep an eye on everything and maintain the station. In this make-believe world, humans think that they are living on Earth in reality, but spend most of their time in a virtual world where just about anything is possible. Supposedly, the reason for the deceit is because there were mass suicides on the station as a result of space dementia.
Within this group of believers, there are two sides; those who want to expose the truth so people can be truly free, and those who feel that the ends justify the means. Wick falls into the latter, and with good reason. Because of The System, there’s almost no smog, oil dependency, unemployment, crime, pollution, corruption, spreading of disease, depression, suicides, piracy, accidents, power over-usage, deforestation, outsourcing, unwanted babies and teenage pregnancies.
Those who are physically handicapped in the real world can move around as if nothing were wrong while plugged into The System. There is virtually no drug abuse due to the chemical testing required to login every time and there is so much to do while in The System, the effects of recreational drugs don’t compare to the unlimited outlets for entertainment offered while logged-in. It truly is a perfect world where any dream can be realized.
In Wicks mind, even if that world is not real, it would help transition the human race into a better way of life once Earth is inhabitable again. Of course, the real problem is that nobody knows for sure if the rumor is true or not.
Dade was an architect because he enjoyed creating never before seen or imagined ideas for homes and buildings, which paid very well, but he was also very intuitive and knew that once this vid was screened by another person, things were going to get ugly. “The KDC is going to send someone after us! We’d better get out of here!” exclaimed Dade while his stealth-inspired space-jet manifested out of his wrist Com. It was sleek and looked as though it were made of light. Dade also dabbled in space-jet design.
“What good would that do when they can just teleport right to us?” Avi asked, hoping for a good answer.
As they jumped in, Dade responded, “This is a design that I came up with to travel at the speed of light- without passengers. We will slow it down a bit, but it will still go so fast that when they teleport to us, they will keep missing us by seconds!”
Just then, he grabbed the 3-D controls and initiated their take-off. The super-aerodynamic ship disappeared as if a light had just turned-off, leaving a small, shrinking glow.
“They will eventually calibrate their settings so that they can teleport to us ahead of time.” screamed Avi, while she was secretly enjoying the ride. “What, then?”
Trying to think and pilot the smooth flying ship at the same time, which looked like a laser beam and was heading toward Saturn, Dade states boldly, “We have to confront them. They know who we are, and there is no place to hide in The System. And there is no way that they haven’t been watching you for a while now; the only question is: Why haven’t they silenced you, yet?”
Just then, Wick and his men appeared in front of the ships path. Dade cut to the right and continued on. Wick was impressed at first, but then with a look of disappointment in his eyes, ordered his men to catch them.
Trying to think of another way out of their situation, Avi tries her Com. “It’s not working! They blocked my Com- I should have sent this vid to everyone when I had the chance!” she cried in despair.
“Think, Avi; why would they have let you go for so long? What did you say you were working on for them?” asked Dade, desperately hoping for something that will help them find an answer.
“Nothing!” she yelled. “I’ve only been there for 6 months and I basically just monitor research on the Reality Physics Engine. I mean; they recruited me because of my thesis for advancements on the Reality Physics Engine, but there has been no movement on that idea.” she offered.
Dades eyes opened all the way, “That’s got to be it! It makes sense, now. If the rumor is true, maybe they’re close to making a real-life version of The System and your advanced Reality Physics Engine was the only thing missing. They left you alone all this time in hopes that you would continue your work.”
“Yeah, but it could only work in theory. Our whole civilization would collapse if they produced a real-life version of The System and it failed. Not to mention the fallout of all the angry people who had been deceived all their lives.” stated Avi with both confidence and concern in her voice.
“They’re getting closer; we have to do something right now!” Dade yelled as he swerved to avoid Wicks men for the third time. Dade decided it was time to stop running, but they needed a plan.
“Go to my place!” spouted Avi. “I have an idea…”
Knowing that The System was hack-proof and that everyone can have special abilities, Dade had to think of a way to fight Wick and his men and stop their plan before they accidentally cause the whole world to crash. Little did he know, but Avi had a working version of her original advanced Reality Physics Engine at her current home.
The Reality Physics Engine, or RPE, is a setting that can be applied to certain areas, such as rooms, fields or whole buildings. Once the program is engaged, the physical restraints of the real world are applied to the designated areas of The System and cannot be individually bypassed.
Avi is hoping that Dade is a good fighter under real-world restrains. Although only one room of her home is under the confines of her advanced RPE, her plan will involve fighting outside of the room, subduing their opponents and dragging them into the room where they can be tethered and, therefore, rendered powerless to move. No plan is perfect, and they may have to do some fighting in the RPE room, she thought.
Avi briefly explains her plan to Dade as they race toward her home. The ship burns up on reentry- an effect that is in place just for fun, just like the sonic boom when breaking the sound barrier, which doesn’t truly exist in The System. Since virtually everything is possible in this world, people have applied sound effects and visual effects to many features; Star Trek fans make their teleportation settings look and sound the same as the famous sci-fi shows “beaming up” effects. Some even use hand-held com-links like they did in the series, even though talking to someone in another place now is simply done by using 3-D holograms in The System.
All of the science fiction shows and movies had it wrong; they were always trying to make impossible inventions exist in the future in reality. When actually, all it took was one simple piece of technology that allows us to have our minds linked to a realistic but false world where anything imagined could be made real. You’re not asleep while linked to the System; you don’t die in The System, and therefore never die in real life as a result of any event that happens in The System; and you spend plenty of time outside of The System in order to get enough exercise, eat properly, procreate and not lose sight of reality. While the safest and most amazing sex is enjoyed while in The System, couples still live together and mate in real life when they’ve unanimously decided to have children.
While everyone initially looks exactly as they do in real life when they login into The System, many people choose to make body mods and change their settings. People alter everything from size, amount of appendages and cybernetic features to crazy skin and eye colors like bright red or multiple shades of blue. Younger people are usually the ones doing the extreme mods like making themselves into popular science fiction characters- special abilities included. Avi and Dade prefer to keep it real, though she does look really good with her electrified blue hair and eyes to match.
As the ship slows down and begins to land next to Avi’s place, they jump out from what would be 50 ft in reality. They immediately teleport into the room that adjoins the RPE room before they hit the ground. Wick and his men appear a split second later and the battle ensues.
Dade and Avi stay close to the RPE room and lure the fighters as close as possible without giving them any clue as to what is about to happen. Wicks men, all Martial Arts experts, begin teleporting in front of and behind Dade, kicking him and punching him as if a hundred fists and feet were spiraling around him like a tornado. Avi strategically stays right by the door to the other room, waiting…
Suddenly, after blocking hit after hit after hit, Dade begins to fight back. He starts throwing the men to Avi who swings them into the room with the RPE and slaps a tether on them. They don’t have time to react or teleport between Dades punches and kicks as he is using super-speed and throwing them just a few feet to Avi. There must be thirty of Wicks men by now, but they just keep throwing them in and tethering them.
Finally, one of the men realizes it’s a trap and reverse-swings Avi into the room and tethers her to the wall. Dade, left to fend-off Wick and his men by himself, keeps swinging and kicking. Eventually, every weapon you can think of comes out, aside from guns and projectile weapons, which do not exist in The System. Swords made of light, similar to the Light Sabers in Star Wars, are a very common weapon in The System.
Nothing can kill you or break the skin in this world, but you can be stunned for a few moments if you’re struck by certain weapons or hit enough times in succession. Dade, as it turns out, is very practiced in hand to hand combat and was able to stun all of the men long enough to super-speed them into the room and tether them himself.
As Dade incapacitated the last man and began to go after Wick in the other room, he saw something through the window. He used the zoom-in feature of his eyes, just like in a video game, and saw that Zephyr was waiting to make his move in the event that Wick fails. Regardless, Dade and Wick begin to battle.
Avi, who can just barely see the fight through the doorway, cheers Dade on. Wick is a very difficult opponent, as any bad guys number two man should be. Teleporting, super-speed and super-strength create a dizzying effect as the two square-off. The action is quick and relentless, but they change to slow-motion to clear-up some of the confusion. Wick is a cunning adversary and seems to be getting more hits in than Dade.
A spinning-roundhouse to the jaw and then quickly teleporting to a squatting position on the opposite side of his opponent as he’s spun around from the impact of the kick, gave Dade the perfect window for a series of punches to the ribs. Avi yells to Dade with fierce encouragement. But then, something happens; something that Avi knows is impossible, even in The System. In the room beyond where Dade and Wick are fighting, she sees herself; another Avi who is looking back at her and putting her finger up to her lips as if to “shush” her.
To Be Continued…