Growing up, my grandmother, mi abuela, had always had a certain brazen disregard of rules and society, a trait that I'd always idolized her for. Her refusal to change her opinion for others, along with her strong contentment in ignoring orders from authority, was the driving force that convinced my mother not to cancel my Quineanera, despite newspapers deeming it unsafe to travel in the city by nighttime. But still, we had the event, and everyone who was invited attended. No robot attacks were going to ruin my night.
I'd talked with my abuela earlier that day. I was nervous about having my Quinceanera while it was so unsafe in the streets. But she shook her head, and said to me, "Taz," (She insisted on calling me Taz, when I preferred my full name, Tasia. But I didn't correct her.) "I grew up in a time when society was changing, and anybody would have been thrilled to get the chance to push me down. But I knew that if I ever wanted to get back up, I'd have to remain tough. That's one thing you always need to be. You can be pretty, and popular, and wealthy, but if you don't remain tough, you'll always get pushed down."
I didn't see what that had to do with robots, but it shut me up just the same. And, when my friends and family arrived for the celebrations, I thought, They made it here for me, even though it's not safe. That's tough. And I looked at my abuela and she smiled at me, so I knew she was thinking the same.
The party was kicked off to a great success, the food was delicious and the atmosphere was cheerful and optimistic. But, my papa, being the protective one, had called for a couple of Rangers to be there, just in case. Still, the rangers, Up and Garrot, were welcomed into the party, and celebrated with us. Whenever there was a noise, like a beating in the air conditioning or a gust of wind from outside, the rangers would look at each other and excuse themselves to assess the problem, and return seamlessly once they'd seen to it. But they were good additions to the crowd just the same.
Eventually, at that one point in the evening when it seemed appropriate for someone to make a speech, my papa stood and raised a glass towards the guests. "Thank you," he said, " For coming here, despite the warning, to celebrate my daughter's fifteenth. It means so much—" His voice was cut off by a rumbling sound ripped through the ceiling. He cleared his throat, and waited for the murmuring of the crowd to die down, and continued, "It means so much to my—" Again the rumbling erupted from the ceiling. Only this time, when he cleared his throat, the murmurs didn't die down. They got louder and louder. My papa looked to the ceiling, and, to his horror, and the horror of the rest of us, there it was: a circular saw, protruding from the ceiling tiles.
We didn't scream at first. We stared in shock as the ceiling broke apart in several places, raining debris onto us. We were silent as the first robot began to descend unto us. Then, as the robot clicked it's saw into action and began to tear through the innocent skin of my brave father—That was when we melted into chaos. Suddenly, the sophisticated celebration became a free-for-all. Everyone was scurrying back and forth, trying to make something of an escape. I don't know why I never ran for the front door. I learned later that they were all blocked by other robots, and anyone who tried to exit was sliced in half on the spot. But somehow, I made it to a wall. I crouched down behind a pile of chairs, waiting for the robots to find me. I knew I only had a matter of time. But I sat there for a few moments, and all I could do was listen to the screams of my friends and family, trying to distinguish who was getting killed at what time.
I didn't cry, even when I managed to pick out one voice in the crowd. My abuela. She called out my name, (Taz, not Tasia) followed by something else inaudible. But then, even that was cut off by a whirring saw. My eyes were shut tight. I just had to wait for it to be over. And, suddenly, I thought it was. I felt someone pick me up and take me away from my hiding spot. I knew it wasn't a robot, though. It was warm, not cold like metal. I opened my eyes, and saw Agent Up, carrying me along the wall.
"Hang in there, Miss Tasia," he said. I looked around to see where he was headed, and I saw it: A hole in the bottom of a wall, not twenty feet from where I was hiding. It was just big enough for someone to crawl through.
In no time, he had me through that passage and into the dark corridor that was on the other side. I don't know why the lights were off. Perhaps the robots had taken out the lighting. He set me down, and pointed down the hallway.
"Run! I'll catch up to you." I didn't question it, I just followed his instructions. I rounded a corner, expecting to find another stretch of emptiness, but my stomach dropped to my knees as I found myself staring down the laser fun of another attacking robot.
I backed up, as it progressed towards me. Somehow, in the adrenaline of the moment, I could think of only one thing to do. I raised a fist, and pounded the gun with all my might. It flew clean off the robot's arm. I didn't even notice the stinging in my hand, for, at that moment, Up dashed next to me, and took out the rest of the robot with a blow of his own. The metal thing crashed to the ground, out of service for good.
"Come on, Miss Tasia!" He said, leading me further down the hallway.
I almost followed him, but something felt wrong.
"We need to go back and help the others, Up!" I said, starting back the way we came. But he grabbed my arm, and pulled me along after him. He was very strong.
"Miss Tasia, your father hired me with the mission to protect you. It's my job, and, as a starship ranger, I need to get my job done."
"But Up—" I tried to wrench my arm free, but it was no use. His grip was firm.
"Come on," He scooped me into his arms again, no doubt that I'd have kept struggling to get away from him, and continued to run down the corridor. "We'll need to find a safe spot."
"Why? Aren't we safe now? The robots are back there."
He shook his head and kept running. "The thing about robots is that they also get their job done. And, if their job was to kill everyone in that party, then they'll be hunting us down next." He ran through a doorway and up a flight of stairs. "I'm almost sure of it. We need a safe spot for me to fight from. "At last, he stopped. We'd reached the rooftop. He set me down by some boxes, and turned to face the door. "You'll be safe as long as I have good visibility, and—"
"I'm going to help you," I said, standing and looking around for something to use as a weapon. I found a long plank of wood, and picked it up. I bounced it around in my hand, testing the weight. Not to heavy. Good enough.
"Miss Tasia, I can't allow you to—" But his words were cut off again. The door to the rooftop burst open. The robots had arrived.