It took me an hour to reach Phoenix, and when I stepped out, I was overcome with a heat I didn't think possible for Earth. I nearly collapsed. I put up a disguise on, and changed into only a pair of shorts and left again. I wandered around, not sure where I was going. I stopped someone.
"Hey, what's ManicSite!," I asked them, exhausted by the heat, praying Typhus couldn't find me.
"What?" the person asked.
Another bystander moved forward, resting a hand on my shoulder. "This," he said, handing me a flyer. "We've been advertising all day, thanks! How'd you hear-"
"My son," I said, taking the flyer. A meeting today. "Anyone can come?"
"Dude, we have Irken exiles coming. Of course," the boy said, grinning. He had spiked purple hair.
"I'll be there," I said, nodding.
"Cool! Love the raver getup, man," he added, nodding.
I looked down at myself, remembering the rave and feeling a stab of pain shoot through me. "Thanks," I said and left before he could quiz me further.
At five, the meeting began. I walked, no use drawing attention to myself. I wore the rave outfit.
I approached a small, squat abandoned warehouse. It made me think of older raves, when they were more secretive. It occurred to me that maybe the rave I went to before might not have been a real rave to some people, the people who grew up with the basement or abandoned warehouse secret raves. I didn't see the attraction, I thought they;'d get more crowded, but everyone had opinions. And with humans...I wasn't sure. Most ravers I scanned earlier were in it for the rave scene, and the drugs. I had been drugged with things to make me hallucinate at times, and it was NOT fun. I didn't see the attraction of inducing it on purpose.
As I walked in, I was greeted by the same boy. "Hey! It's you! Hey, how often do you rave? Or, like...are you part of the scene?" he asked me.
"I went to my first rave...uh..." I struggled to remember how long ago it was. "A-a few days ago."
He laughed. "Wow. After every meeting, we have a REAL rave here. If you can't remember it, then...well, we don't consider it a rave." When I questioned him, he replied, "Super-Chan will explain."
"Who's Super-Chan?" I asked. "And WHAT'S with the Japanese honorifics?" Typhus used them. It made me suspicious.
"Super-Chan is, like, the magical force of good that keeps us alive and awesome. She's a total hardcore raver, an artist, singer, dancer...man, she's a Goddess. And she's totally hot, too! Never turns down a date, but she's like Haruhi, they rarely last very long," he said. He wanted her, I could tell. "She even has a shirt that says she ain't interested in ordinary people. None of us are ordinary, of course, but still, she dumps us easily...relationships last longer with girls, but no one knosw if it's because she's a lesbian, or if it's an act of rebellion...her parents are homophobes," he added. "Sorry, I tend to babble."
I smiled. "It's okay," I said. "So...I just go in and sit?"
He nodded. "Yeah. And experience the magic of ManicSite!" he said, grinning. I nodded, walking past him, down a short hallway.
My guard was up, I must have looked hostile, tense, and I knew I looked saddened. I pushed open a door, the only door in the place, not quite ready for what I saw.
Some tall, slender, and dare I say it, nearly painfully gorgeous, girl was dancing on a hand-made strage, singing along to Lady Gaga. I watched, transfixed. She looked so familiar. Then I realized who she was.
"You're the jumpstyle girl!" I said, almost against my will.
She stopped, looking at me with clear, lime green eyes. They were almost unnaturally bright. She jumped down, walking to me, smiling. "Hi," she said. "And yeah, I'm a jumper," she added, doing a complicated routine. "You?"
"Huh? Oh, uh, no. I can't dance for the life of me," I said, embarrassed. She looked me up and down, and the song ended, moving on to another Lady Gaga song.
She smiled. "Then stay after," she said. "NOW, the party begins!"
She jumped back onto the stage, executing a strange, three-fingered pose. "OKAY! New peeps, so I explain; we are ManicSite!. One word with an exclamation point at the end, don't get it wrong. Do you ever look around you and noticed how similar everyone looks?" she asked.
"Yes," I said softly, remembering my last time on Furon, only a few years ago. She launched into a speech.
"This world today is filled with clones. Few are truly unique, no matter how much people say others are. We are the few fighting for our own style, fighting to let others accept us. We fight racism, homophobia, and the fear of self-expression, teaching people to let go of the rope connecting you to average life..."
So it went for an hour. It was a beautiful speech, and as she recited it, I felt a strange warmth filling me, a smile on my lips as I leaned forward, listening raptly. She concluded, and everyone applauded. Even me.
"Alright, everyone, before we start, I'd like to say meeting next week, keep checking the site, 'kay? Great. Also, thanks for the new people coming back, and to all of you for sticking with us. We're having another thing at First Friday, and we're going to try and get a booth Well, I am, but I need the liscense! It costs a lot, and I'd greatly appreciate a donation, anything from a penny to whatever,. You don't have to, but it's for the good of the Site!," she said, smiling. "And as always, don't give up on the eternal quest for our Mission. It seems hard and impossible, but we will get over it. Our individuality, our Mission, will shine. Our peace will overcome war. Our love overcomes the hate. The unity overpowering the distance separating the human race, and the respect for another overcoming the disrespect seen in most," she said.
Lady Gaga started again, and people started filing out, staying in the corridor, all except for her. She pulled a sheet off some high-tech looking professional DJ equipment, running her hands lovingly over it. She then went to the wall behind her, pulling down a curtain, revealing several laser lights. She looked them over with the love a mother would look at a child with. I walked up to her as she started moving chairs into another room, stacking them first. I picked on up, setting it on another. She looked up, startled.
"Oh, it's you...hey," she said, smiling.
"Hey, Super-Chan, right?" I asked. At her nod, I continued. "My...my son told me about you. I...I'm glad I came, not just for his sake," I said, not sure what else to say, but strangely not regretting it.
"Your son? That's sweet of you," she said, beaming. "Is he here?"
I felt a lump rise in my throat, and for the first time since leaving, I realized how much trouble Blasto could be in. With his sister. She saw my despair and lead me to the stage, sitting me down.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked softly, lifting my chin up, forcing me to look at her.
I shook my head. "No," I said. She gave me a knowing look. "Sorry, I...it's just...never mind. It's..." I stopped myself from saying "It's nothing." He was my son, Pox my best friend. How was it nothing?
"It means everything to you, but I';m a random stranger and wouldn't get it because it's too painful, and only you can feel the pain you do?"
I was shocked by how much she understood. "Yeah," I said.
"Want to learn about real raves, Exoskeleton boy?" she asked. I laughed, despite my sadness.
Which was when I Cortex Scanned her.
I gasped, ignoring her strange stare. Her mind was a whirlwind of light, joy, and a passion for the arts. Rave was her life, and electronic music was an art to her. She felt no need for food or drink when held in its arms. Music was her only reason for living. Her family was dead, she lived alone, supporting herself from a crummy job at a fast food place. But she loved her life, because no matter how horrible things got, she walked with joy in her hear, a song on her lips, and love in her body. I find it impossible to describe her mind, but it was...art. It seemed never-ending, lie a Furon's, but not arrogant and self centered. She cared nothing for herself, except for the smallest will to stay alive to help others. Everything she did, she did it for someone else. This, ManicSite!, was for her mother, who wanted to spread her vision of love for all to the world. I think I understood then why Blasto told me to come. Because maybe if I could teach Typhus Super-Chan's ideas, she would understand that her form of government wouldn't have to be so...corrupt.
"Hey, dude...you okay?" she asked. I looked up, surprised.
"What? Oh, yeah...I'm sorry. You're...you' not like anyone I know, but so much like someone I do know," I said.
"Really? Who, if I may ask?" she replied.
"My daughter...except friendlier," I said.
"Oh...familial problems?" she asked.
I nodded. "To say the least."
"Ouch. Really sorry, man," she said. "Makes you feel better, I have to raise a kid with no support from the stupid father, who said he loved me," she said.
It only made me feel worse, but I put on a fake smile of encouragement.
"I'm sure you deserve better," I said. For the first time, she looked sad. Then she looked up.
"Oh, can you help me finish setting up, please?" she asked. "It's almost time!"
I nodded, and we finished preparing. "So, Lady Gaga," I said. "Kind of a conflict ion."
She laughed. "You're the first to bring it up, but yes, a huge one. But I mean...how can we not love someone so individual?" she asked.
I smiled as we started talking about music. How I knew so much about it is an easy question to answer. A week on earth with just entertainment channels, you know everything.
After we don, she looked at me.
"This is a real rave, not like Club Exo. You'll feel it, I promise." She shut off the lights, and immediately, everyone outside ran out, cheering. They were cheering her name, waving glow sticks. She went to her turntables.
"YO YO YO, KIDDIES!" she yelled. "Time to party, Manic style!"
A hyperactive, peppy tune started up, people dancing. At first, I felt far too shy, too self conscious. But then my eyes met Super-Chan's. She winked at me in a way that told me to abandon my self consciousness. This was a place where no one would judge you. So I danced. I was bad, but I still did. And for the first time in a long time, this strange feeling came over me. I let down my mind's barriers, scanning those around me. I read Super-Chan's thoughts again.
Peace. Love. Unity. Respect.
Over and over again. I understood what a rave was that day. It wasn't a place to blast music and get high, or even to dance. It was a place where people went to be with people like them, who wanted an escape from the sadness and anger or the world, where people went to love everyone, be with everyone, feel like they were a part of a family. Feel accepted. And I felt that now. It was wonderful. I felt real.
I understood why I was here more than ever.