Chapter 60

Issac sat with Sam and the marketing team in the living room. The air was heavy and no one felt like celebrating.

Only one person felt at ease and she sat in her beanbag chair.

Today was the day. Saturday. SkyTracks D-Day.

They had done everything they could. Seductive advertisements, viral YouTube videos, late night comedy talkshow appearances, rousing speeches, mainstream media interviews.

In the end, it was the states with larger cities that allowed SkyTracks to be rolled out. New York, California and Illinois would receive the first wave. A week after that, more would follow. Rust belt states banned SkyTracks, levying heavy fines on anyone dared to drive a SkyTracks car over their border.

At first Issac was afraid that Susan Stedman's plan would work and that all states would ban SkyTracks. But that was the beauty of a democracy — not prediction was ever fully certain. In states that had notable SkyTracks support, local congressmen had no choice but to allow it on the streets or else risk civil unrest. Maybe even a complete and total shutdown of the local economy. And it was then that Issac breathed out with relief. In the end, human nature stayed the same, democracy or not, and the need for life would triumph above all else.

As according to the deal Issac struck with President Child, the pills would be released a week later.

An imperfect but satisfactory result.

But Issac was confident that sooner or later, every road would be SkyTracks legal. After all, rust belt states also had cancer patients. Demand and supply. And the demand to live would outlast any economical concerns. Sooner or later, even the most stubborn politician would have to make way for SkyTracks, or risk a second American Civil War.

SkyTracks was deployed in the United States and around the world using a smaller cargo version of the spaceship above the UN headquarters. It flew from country to country, touching down at an airport and unloading tens of thousands of SkyTracks cars. The same ship would then take on the old cars that the drivers had given up for lifetime SkyTracks access.

Tens of thousands of cars that didn't need a driver, didn't need to charge, didn't need maintenance — unless someone deliberately set it on fire.

Sam and Issac had drawn up a list of potential disasters that could happen during the SkyTracks launch. For every one that happened, they would drink a shot.

People began to download the app. They signed up in droves. At first Issac and Sam were worried that there wouldn't be enough cars to serve all the costumers on launch day and that media reports would use this to portray SkyTracks as an unreliable alternative, but Anna assured them that she had written a distribution algorithm that would adjust second by second to demand conditions and that the spaceship was producing new cars every single day.

Protests against SkyTracks had swelled within hours of the launch. People from other states poured into the cities, surrounded SkyTracks cars and destroyed them. They dragged out the passengers and beat them bloody for 'hating freedom'.

They called themselves 'Freedom Guardians'. At first Susan Stedman praised their actions, but quickly backpedaled after footage of bloody passengers emerged on social media. Afterwards, news channels also showed the footage.

Issac and Sam took a shot.

Clarice Hallworth asked if this was something to worry about.

Sam shook his head. "On Monday, these people will have to go back to work."

Senators and Congressmen jumped on this opportunity to blame the violence on SkyTracks. They said that these violent protesters were valiant Americans who fought for their freedom, the freedom that SkyTracks threatened to take away. In fact, everyone should take note. This is what a proper American should do. This is the freedom loving American. A person as American as a can of Diet Coke and a Cheeseburger with fries.

However when victims couldn't pay their hospital fees, there were no comments.

Among these politicians, there was one who rose to the top of the 24 hour coverage storm. That man was Senator William Jackson. The news cycle began to cover more of his speeches promoting Susan Stedman than actual appearances of Susan Stedman.

TV and Internet audiences loved him. He spoke with real passion. Compared to him, Susan Stedman was robotic and cold. People said her laugh was fake. People said William Jackson was the best speaker since Obama. Online compilations of his speeches were posted by fans. Then taken down and reposted. Eventually YouTube gave up enforcing whatever rule they were enforcing. Those videos got more views than any video Susan Stedman's official channel had published.

Even Issac liked to watch some of those videos.

Senator William Jackson in Vermont:

Senator William Jackson: "You know folks, I'm an old man. I mean, look at me. I'm old. Sometimes I wish I could retire, but I don't. Because every morning when I get out of bed and I see the American nation, the American people, I know with all my heart that this is something worth fighting for. Worth dying for. And that is why I choose to oppose the aliens. As long as I have breath left in my sorry old body, I REFUSE to let the aliens infringe on our freedom and all the freedom loving people around the world. I refuse!"

Senator William Jackson in New Jersey:

Senator William Jackson: "You see that spaceship hovering in Manhattan all day and all night? Yeah, I see it too. And I don't like it. I don't like how the aliens just come to Earth and demand that we change our way of life. I don't like how they use the desperation of cancer patients against us. I don't like how they exploit our need to cure cancer. If there is any person with a heart up there in that spaceship, they will provide the cure for cancer without watching more and more people die every single day. That's why I don't trust the aliens. You can't trust them. They are USING us! They trying to take away our freedom, YOUR freedom. Screw the aliens! Screw them all! Screw the aliens!"

Senator William Jackson in New Hampshire:

Senator William Jackson: "When I was a boy, and that was a long time ago, but when I was a boy, my father always told me that things change when you become an adult. You lose your ideals. You become less innocent. You see the world for what it is. All the good and the bad. The pretty and the ugly. And my father told me that it those who keep their ideals, those who refuse to let the world compromise what they believe in, it is those who change the world for better and always. I've lived by those words for sixty years and I will do so until I die. I believe in freedom. I believe that it is us, the people of this country, the people of this planet, who must decide our destiny. Our future. Our tomorrow. And I REFUSE to let the aliens decide this for us. That is why I say: screw the aliens. Screw them all. It is OUR responsibility to decide our future. It is our FREEDOM to decide what may come. Screw the aliens. Screw them all.

On Monday, just as Sam predicted, the protests lost their energy. People went back to work and indifference took over. A few stubborn protestors remained, but no one paid them any mind. It was New York after all.

By then, Anna had refined the autonomous driving algorithm even further and programmed each car to avoid common protest sites. In addition, she built a database of every face of every protestor and coded every SkyTracks car to detect and avoid these people. If the protesters moved, a single SkyTracks car could detect it and send that information to the entire fleet. All of the sudden, the protesters couldn't see any SkyTracks car anymore and bit by bit, they too lost their fervor and went home.

Can't fight if you're not there.

And on Tuesday, there was the first death.