"A young boy, only seventeen, was shot down by officer Charles Garrett at 7:00 pm yesterday in downtown Seattle. ''Dat's 'da price for disruptin' 'da peace in 'dis world. He knew it, I knows it, ev'ryone knows 'dat.' Garrett stated when asked about the incident. No charges will be pressed seeing as Garrett broke no laws, and it was confirmed that the boy had."
"Shut that useless crap off," Joey growled moodily. "I said shut it off, I don't want to hear it anymore!"
Risen looked as though he were about to protest momentarily, then stood without a word and powered off the television. "Joey," he said quietly, "I knew that boy."
Joey's shoulders stiffened. "I don't want to hear anymore about it." Risen's older brother's voice left no room for argument.
Risen sighed. He remembered a day Joey would've sat down and counseled him. What had changed? Joey had joined The Breakers. They were an alliance of those against the killing of just anyone who'd broken a law.
In this 'perfect world' the leaders of countries all over created, it didn't matter what the crime was, the ultimate punishment would be execution. The goal? To discourage criminal acts and to bring the world together in unity and peace. There were no wars, no terrorists, and no exceptions.
The Breakers' purpose was to uproot this program. It's not that they wanted war, but rather the stop of the slaughter of humans for mistakes not worth that penalty. Joey had joined three years ago, and changed the way of life and order in their home. Risen's parents pretended not to notice, not to know about Joey's alliance. But Risen knew better. They were just afraid to approach the topic. If anyone else found out Joey was a part of this group, he would be executed just like the other discovered members.
"Hey Joey?" Risen laughed suddenly, poking him in the side.
Joey yelped and batted at Risen, "Hey!" He couldn't help but chuckle himself, and a sudden sense of release washed over his mind. It'd been forever since he'd felt this kind of simplicity.
Joey bolted up from the couch and tackled down his brother, putting him in a chokehold and ruffling his hair. The younger of the two completely forgot about his question as he attempted to scramble out of his brother's death grip, and the two siblings lay sprawled across the floor, snickering to themselves.
"Risen," Joey gasped in between fits of laughter, "I haven't had this much fun in ages!" Risen grinned at his older brother. He looked happier then he'd been lately. Maybe it's just 'cause I haven't given him the chance.
"Me neither." That was a partial lie, but he could hardly tell Joey he had.
"Risen!" his mom shouted from downstairs. "Get ready for school, you're going to be late!"
Risen rolled his eyes; everyday was the same routine. He'd turn on the news for about five minutes, Joey would hiss at him to turn it off, then his mom would chase him around the house, lecturing him about the importance of being punctual. The only part atypical of today was the fact that Joey had shown some other emotion than stress or anger.
"Yes mom!" he roared.
"And no yelling in the house!" Abylin Montclair shouted, contradicting herself.
Risen didn't notice as he raced down the hall to his room. As soon as he got there, he threw on the first pair of clean clothes he could find and stood looking at himself critically in the mirror. Risen never really cared for his appearance, but in all truth, he wasn't that bad-looking. His sandy blonde hair dusted over cloudy blue eyes while his lean frame supported an even muscled, fair-skinned body.
The Levis and plain black T-shirt would have to do, he decided as he bolted downstairs.
"Don't forget breakfast!" Mrs. Montclair fussed.
"Mom," Risen protested, "I'm not hungry." But in spite of himself, he grabbed a bowl of cereal before racing out the door. Risen hit the sidewalk, backpack slung over one shoulder as he munched on a spoonful of Fruitie Flakes. By the time he reached the bus stop, he had returned to his usual sour mood. Joey's change in personality this morning was probably a fluke. He used to be like that… note the past tense.
"No food on the bus," a monotone voice demanded when he boarded. The driver gave Risen a hard stare until Risen sighed and dumped the remainder of his breakfast in the trash can by the android's seat before taking one himself.
He sat in silence until it was broken by the girl next to him.
"I liked the 2200 version better…" Callie murmured. She'd overheard their new bus driver's request when Risen had first come on. "He never noticed when we brought food or broke any rules."
"Maybe that's why they replaced him."
Callie nodded, "yeah…. maybe."
"What do you mean 'maybe'?" Risen stared at Callie with a bit of curiosity. What was she trying to get at?
"I heard he broke the law when he bypassed a stop sign so they had him executed," she told him with wide eyes. Her voice was hushed as though this was some big secret she wasn't supposed share.
"Callie," Risen hissed, mentally slapping his forehead, "how would they- why would they execute a robot?"
Why did he expect the ditzy redhead to say something intelligent was a better question.
"But that's what Angel told me!" Callie objected.
"You should know by now not to believe anything he says." If Angel told Callie she would fly if she jumped off a cliff, Risen suspected she would try it. That's partly why he stuck by her… if only to keep Callie protected from those out to use her innocence to harm the girl.
"Risen?" Callie's head tilted to the side and her green eyes stared into his.
"What?" he said tiredly.
"We're at school." Risen snarled. why'd she have to ask that?
"The Breakers were an organization in 2042 that greatly advertised its idea that 'The Perfect World' was something to be greatly abhorred. Luckily, by 2064, the subversives were eliminated. Since then, nothing has stopped the progress towards the perfect world which we strive for." Ms. Sarendy read out of the textbook as though it was directly quoted from the bible. Her tone rose and fell with her words as Risen stared into space, not soaking up a sound.
"Ms. Sarendy?" a hesitant voice queried. "I heard that they started back up again. Is that true?"
"Of course not Callie. They disbanded years ago, and if they did start back up, the government would deal with that immediately," Ms. Sarendy reassured her.
Risen always hated this unit and Callie was not helping. Every year this exact same topic was covered, and it was always the same. The Breakers were gone… there was no more threat to 'The Perfect World' from them. That's what the government wanted them to believe. They didn't want to plant that seed of rebellious human nature into the minds of the countries' students.
A crumpled note flew in Risen's direction and he deftly snatched it out of the air. Ms. Sarendy didn't appear to notice, so he waited a moment just to be cautious before he carefully unfolded the note.
Ms. Sarendy lied, didn't she? The note read in Callie's large, loopy script. Risen looked about ready to slam his head on the desk. He didn't need to deal with this. Instead, he re-crumpled the note and shoved it in his pocket.
As he moodily scanned the room, he noted this tired group of seniors could care less about this topic… but he couldn't bring himself to do the same. How many of his classmates were part of this organization that he didn't know about? How many of them had siblings fighting for The Breaker's cause? Obviously not a lot, judging by the bored look drilled into most of their expressions… note the most.
Callie leaned forward in her seat, her eyes trained on the teacher. Every so often, she would flick her gaze over to him before quickly snapping it back to Ms. Sarendy. She seemed completely absorbed in her teacher's words, but at the same time distant as she awaited Risen's response. A look of deep concentration set in her expression and Risen couldn't help but wonder if she somehow knew about Joey. She always seemed so concerned about him… then again, they used to date when he was still in high school.
Maybe it was nothing. Maybe Risen was just exaggerating the situation. But maybe, just maybe, there was something more to it. Risen still couldn't shake the peculiar feeling when a wide-eyed school secretary burst into the room.
"I need to pull Risen Montclair out of the classroom for a moment." His voice was rough, a touch of panic to it. Risen stood up immediately. The distressed interrupter disappeared out the door, motioning for Risen to follow.
"Risen," he began, shifting uncomfortably, "there's no easy way to say this, but…" he hesitated and Risen's imagination went wild. All the possibilities ran through his head and Risen nearly collapsed from the potential news. "Joey, your brother… he's dead."