Justice Across The DimensionsChapters List
Chapter 17: A Game of Prestige 
Nation N – A little West Asian country in the Middle East blessed with beautiful and breathtaking sceneries, although the country’s locale setting made the place one that made many a great traveler only too apprehensive to stop by.
The War came unanticipated. Of the tourists that came holidaying at Nation N, no one received any word about any recall advisory from their home countries. It was only by the time the first barrage of shells hit the city square which reduced it into a sprawl of ruins, did the tourists realize that war and chaos were upon them.
The brutality and grotesqueries of war and battle were but distant concepts to Huapatrians who have been accustomed to lives of peace. But with war and chaos upon them, they finally got their first true taste of death and carnage.
The capital of Nation N suffered a round of shelling, and much of the skyscraper-filled cityscape was transformed into a dreary and ghastly scene of rubbles and corpses. Those who had managed to survive the first battery of artillery scrambled for their lives, only too eager to extricate themselves from the place now turned into Hell on Earth.
Wang Qimeng, a young lass of sixteen who was traveling Nation N with her elder sister, was dragged by the latter into a wardrobe when the first explosion hit the city. The sisters hugged each other tightly for comfort as the bombardment persisted. It was only after the bombing ended did they both clamber out together.
The room was a mess as if someone had turned it upside down. The wall facing the street had toppled and the sister watched with horror at survivors streaking down the streets, howling at the top of their voices. The national army was resisting the advance of the rebel army into the city. Stray tracer rounds caught innocent survivors every now and then, spattering blood everywhere as the wounded civilians collapsed.
It was not a scene that Wang Xinyue and her younger sister could ever hope to imagine. Petrified with fear, they crawled backward and leaned on the wall for support, unable to move.
“I’m scared, Big Sister…”
Afraid that people might hear them, Wang Qimeng held back her tears. She gripped firmly on her big sister’s arm, whimpering timidly.
Wang Xinyue was at a loss of what to do herself. But as the eldest of both siblings, she knew that she could not afford to panic. She pulled Wang Qimeng into a corner and kept her hidden there while she rummaged for her cellphone.
Wang Qimeng stared at her big sister’s frantic movements and squeaked, “What are you doing, Big Sister?”
Finally, Wang Xinyue found her phone.
“I’m calling the embassy. We need to get help from our government to get us out of here.”
Out of all wits, Wang Qimeng could only rely on her sister.
“Lovely,” she called to her cellphone’s AI, “Call the embassy.”
The smartphone responded with two raspy beeps and the device called the embassy’s number. But with too many people trying at the same time, the line was engaged.
For many times, Wang Xinyue tried again and again but to no avail. Her ashen face looked dismally at the phone now trembling in her shaking hands.
Terrified, Wang Qimeng nestled herself closed to Wang Xinyue.
“We need to go to the embassy for help. It’s in the city and the rebels will have no business to attack the place.”
The capital of Nation N was utterly gripped by pandemonium. They needed to get to the embassy fast and any delay would only lessen the odds of their survival. The organized and better-disciplined national army of Nation N would never fire their weapons on Huapatrians, but the same could not be said for the rebels.
“We’re getting out of here.”
Wang Xinyue decided that they needed to travel light and they would only carry their papers and some cash. She pulled her younger sister up to her feet.
But the panic-stricken Wang Qimeng could hardly stand much less moving.
“I’m scared, Big Sister. Why can’t we just stay here? We can wait for the embassy to come to get us! I’m scared, Big Sister…”
No longer able to rein in herself, Wang Qimeng crumbled into tears. The gunfire from outside never stopped and she feared that going out would mean that she could be shot like the people she saw earlier. She did not want to die; she just wanted to survive.
“I”m scared, Big Sister…”
But Wang Xinyue was equally afraid herself. After all, she was only a blooming lass barely twenty of age, a gentle and soft-spoken girl like a rose in a greenhouse having grown up in a safe and protected environment. She was scared too, but at the same time, she comprehended how unhelpful fear and terror were to her.
They must leave this place if they were to survive. They must go to the embassy. Perils abound everywhere in this pandemonium and even this building might give way and collapse any time.
But Wang Qimeng sat on the floor and sobbed profusely, refusing to leave with Wang Xinyue.
Beads of perspiration rolled down the side of Wang Xinyue’s face as anxiety and helplessness gripped her. She did not know what to do with her sister and dragging her forcibly out to the streets could only do more harm than good.
Just when both sisters were stumped, Wang Xinyue’s phone suddenly blared with a beeping alarm. She looked to her phone and saw the holographic image of Lovely emerging from her screen spontaneously on its own.
“Assessing user status… Confirm hazardous environment… Engage Hidden Mode… Engage Intelligent Security System…”
As soon as Lovely finished speaking, her smartphone projected a wide 4D-holographic map before Wang Xinyue.
“The embassy is three blocks away. Suggesting safest escape route… Estimated travel time of forty minutes. Destination: the Huapatrian Embassy. Please follow the instructions.”
Wang Xinyue stared dazedly at the holographic map projected over the screen of her cellphone.
The map showed every detail of their surroundings, with a bright-green line that traced their route, leading them to the embassy.
Another two dots on the map denoted her and her sister and several red dots were moving around nearby, which could only be rebel troops canvassing the area for prey. The route that Lovely had suggested seemed to evade the red dots cleanly.
The route is safe!
The thought of a safe route away from their position filled Wang Xinyue with rekindled hope. She pulled her sister up to her feet and pointed at the 4D-map hovering before them, “Let’s go. The Patriot Lite has shown us a safe way!”
The escape route too roused enough confidence for Wang Qimeng to recover from her fear and panic. Taking Wang Xinyue’s hand, they left the battered hotel building together.
They were not the only ones. At the same time, scores of Patriot Lites belonging to Huapatrians all around the Nation N engaged their automatic Intelligent Security Systems, each pointing out safe routes for Huapatrians to make it safely to the embassy for help.
Meanwhile, the information of these displaced Huapatrians was all forwarded to the staff of the embassy for them to make necessary arrangements.
The machinery of the embassy apparatuses all around Nation N quickly whirled into motion. Each embassy divided itself into two main tasks: one group to man the embassy to receive any arriving Huapatrians, while another group will organize search parties to retrieve any stranded Huapatrians.
Word finally reached the Huapatria about the turmoil in Nation N and the one thousand grounded Huapatrians there, and peacekeeping troops were immediately mobilized to Nation N at once.
Wang Xinyue and Wang Qimeng had been walking for more than a half-hour.
During which, the horrors of battle and war were fully stripped bare to them. The gunfire that rang deeply into their ears, and the red dots clustering at mere breadths from them on the holograph still depicted their progress. These were all enough testimony that the sisters would have been found and caught, if not for Wang Xinyue’s Patriot Lite’s timely adjustments to their routes to redirect them away from peril.
At long last, they managed to make it safely through the warfield unscathed. They finally breathed easily as the edifice of the Huapatrian embassy loomed up ahead.
We’ve made it! That’s the embassy! We’re getting saved! Our government will keep us safe!
Whether it was because they were getting near their destination, or because they had gotten lax after being tensed and fidgety for so long, the sisters did not realize woe was upon them.
Two men, both clad in the army fatigues of the rebel force, rounded the corner just in time to see them. Filled with a lust for blood and carnage, they raised their weapons immediately and opened fire before they properly identified their targets, national army or civilian people be damned.
Right when the moment they appeared, Lovely’s klaxon-siren began blaring loudly to warn Wang Xinyue and Wang Qimeng. But no human reflexes could ever best bullets in speed. All Wang Xinyue could do was quickly wrap herself around her sister to shield her from the bullets.
In reckless abandon, all she wanted to do was to keep her sister safe.
Cascades of rifle rounds echoed off the walls of the building that flanked the street, but Wang Xinyue registered neither the shock nor pain from being hit, as she reeled with disbelief in light of her resignation to die.
Are rebel troops so poorly trained that they could so easily miss a target barely a hundred meters away?!
When the gunfire finally came to an end, she heard two crisp bangs followed by a couple of heavy thuds as if something – or was it things?! – bulky and hefty had fallen to the ground.
"Miss Wang Xinyue, Miss Wang Qimeng; Patriot One at your service.”
The computerized voice surprised Wang Xinyue. She let go of Wang Qimeng and turned around.
There, looming over them was a droid. A hulking droid that she had seen before somewhere.
She gasped dubiously, muttering the only name that the sleek red and gold droid could remind her of.
She was there at the National Droid-building Competition last year at the Institute of Technology and she still had the photo that she had taken with Patriot One together in her old cell phone.
The Patriot One now standing before her looked stronger and better than the one she saw last year, although the rest of it looked identical.
It really is Patriot One!
Was it really Patriot One that had saved us just now?
Wang Xinyue peered over its shoulder as she wondered and the two rebel soldiers unconscious on the ground confirmed her thoughts.
It really was Patriot One which had saved us! Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks as she threw herself at the steel midriff of the droid and hugged it tightly, crying at last.
She really was scared too.
With Patriot One escorting them, Wang Xinyue and Wang Qimeng arrived safely at the Huapatrian embassy.
Patriot One left them to the care of the staff there before it took off.
What Wang Xinyue thought was only one Patriot One turned out to be wrong. Many more Huapatrian tourists arrived at the embassy without harm, every one of them protected by many Patriot Ones.
Their Patriot Lites had mapped the safest routes for them before the Intelligent Security System assigned different Patriot Ones to meet them en route.
The embassy’s retrieval operation would have taken a long time, to say nothing of the problems and dangers they might get themselves into. But with the intervention of the Patriot Ones, the operation was completed in good time. Less than twelve hours since the first shell struck the capital of Nation N, every single Huapatrian in infamy had been secured.
Then came the next problem: the citizens of Huapatria might have made it safely to the embassy, but they would still need to traverse the war zone to reach the capital’s airport to return home.
With all of Nation N now in disarray and its own citizens had either fled or gone into hiding, there was no one left to help the more-than-one-thousand Huapatrians to leave this place.
With great difficulty, the embassy staff managed to procure twelve cars, but that was hardly enough; they needed more than that for another four hundred Huapatrians.
At the embassy, the head of mission was pacing back and forth frantically, being at his wit’s end of what to do. Then more than twenty Patriot Ones appeared. Joining into one, they transformed into a huge gigantic bus.
Everyone boarded the bus quickly and they evacuated for the airport.
January the twenty-fifth of the year 2009, the eve before Chinese New Year, and the third day since the uprising at Nation N began, every Huapatrian stranded there had been evacuated safely back home.
Immediately the next day, January the twenty-sixth, the sales of Patriot Lites hit a new record as the Internet simmered with news of what happened at Nation N and the role of Patriot Lites in it.
Naturally, that included the many Patriot One droids which had been instrumental in the evacuation, marking a successful maiden mission of the country’s latest line of security droids.
On a popular forum online, a new topic appeared, titled: The True Hero of the Huapatrian Evacuation at Nation N.
In just two short hours, the post quickly grew into the hottest topic in the forum with countless comments following just behind, each of them singing praises for the heroic droids which had saved the day.
“Me too! I was also rescued from Nation N. I would never have survived if Patriot One did not dig me out from under the rubble!”
“Yeah! I thought I was dead meat the moment those rebel troops clapped eyes on me! I would have been dead if not for Patriot One!”
“Since when have our country’s science and tech reached such levels?! Droids that actually possess true high AI?! I would believe it if it’s Nation M, but come on, seriously! Us?!”
“Hey, you up there. What makes you think our country is not capable of producing something like that? Anyhow, deny all you want. It’s ludicrous how the truth is staring right into your face while you try to ignore it.”
“I was at my most dangerous and helpless moment when our government dispatched those droids to save me. I’ve been a Huapatrian all my life and I’m proud of it!”
“There were still people stuck there at the airport when we were leaving Nation N. I could still remember those envious stares they gave us as we took off.”
“The Patriot Ones are incredible! Even without any actual weapon systems, their armor is enough to protect us from enemy gunfire! They are the only reason we were able to get back here safely.”
“They’re all nothing but exaggerations. A droid with such unbelievable capabilities?! It can even transform!? Heavens, are we talking about a scene from Transformers?!”
“Without any pictures and footage, I have reason to believe this is all nothing but pure fantasy. There’s no way we’re anywhere that advanced yet.”
Discussions about the veracity of eyewitness accounts brewed all over the Internet. Meanwhile, Qi Wang remained in his lab at the research center of the MSS, completing the final touch-ups to his latest discovery.
At the same time, with news of the Patriot Ones’ gallant deeds bubbling over news reports and tabloids, Qi Qiuyu and her family realized what they had missed out on.
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