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The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Jon Jones
Photo courtesy of former FCHS student Jon Jones.

The Yellow Fight

As I sit in the corner of the ring, I look at the floor. That is what I am programmed to do. I let Trevor repair the damage I have taken from my opponent. The floor is stained with the blood and sweat of humans. I understand that humans fight in a similar manner as me. The difference is that they typically do so willingly.

I am Y-27, a ring fighting model built in 2031. My owner, Trevor, calls me Yellow. He tells me my name comes from a song called “Coward of the County” by the artist Kenny Rogers. I don’t have the ability to understand music, but Trevor tells me that he named me this because I remind him of Yellow, a character in the song who refuses to fight until he has to. As a machine, I see the flaws in Trevor’s logic. I am not like this Yellow. I am not a fighter, and it isn’t because I choose not to be. Yet he insists that I have some sort of inner strength that has not been seen yet.

I understand that Trevor’s optimism is admirable. His friends say so, yet they do not see what he sees. His friends see me as entertainment. Although I do not see why, I agree. Entertaining humans is all I know.

I stand up and Trevor pulls the stool out from under me. The bell rings and I position my hands in front of my face. The other robot throws a jab and I block it, but before I can respond, it throws a left hook and shatters my optical processors. I cannot see. It continues to barrage me with powerful strikes until I am knocked to the floor. Trevor calls the match, surrendering, and hauls me off the stage.

I am an older model. This machine clearly noticed and took advantage of that fact. The kind of quick thinking that it showed tonight is an ability that I do not have, and could never have. I would have to be melted down and reassembled, and at that point I would be a different machine.

Trevor and I return to our condo two floors above the ring. He sits me down and powers me off in order to repair my optic system. When I boot up again, I find Trevor speaking with the match’s referee, Scott.

“You don’t have the clearance for that!” Trevor shouts. I am confused by his words.

“I don’t, but K does, and he thinks that it’s time for Yellow to retire,” Scott responds. “He’s no use anymore. He will fight tonight, and he will go down… Don’t worry. We’ll pay you back for your contribution. You’ll get a new bot. You have my word.” Scott leaves the room, and as I watch him leave, I realize that I’m not supposed to feel confused. I’m not supposed to feel anything. And yet, I do. Why?

Trevor kneels down in front of me. “Don’t worry, buddy,” he says as he stares at the floor in sorrow. “Everything’s gonna be okay.”

I know that Trevor knows that I shouldn’t need comforting. I am programmed to fight, win or lose. Yet something about his words is comforting. “Question: Am I going to go down?” I ask.

Trevor looks up from the floor. “What?” he responds. I can tell from his expression that he is shocked by my words. I repeat my question. He stands up, darts to the other side of the wall, and grabs a screwdriver from his toolbox. He opens up a compartment in the side of my head and looks inside. After discovering that nothing is different, he sits down next to me, leaving my head wide open. He pauses, seemingly puzzled. Then he looks at me and I look back at him. “Did anyone open up your head that you know of?” he asks.

“Response: You’re the only one,” I answer. He looks forward. “Statement: Your question does not compute.”

This appears to shock him once more. “Are you trying to tell me you’re confused?” Trevor asks.

“Response: No. I am not capable of emotions.”

“You’re lying right now, aren’t you?” he retorts.

“Response: Yes,” I reply.

Trevor shoots up off the couch. He mutters to himself, pacing back and forth. Then he looks down at his watch and curses as he realizes what the time is. I can tell that he’s debating something. Most likely whether or not to take me back to the ring to be destroyed.

“Come on,” Trevor orders. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure this out.” I stand up and he closes the compartment in my head. We head out the door. Suddenly, time seems to move much slower. My computer runs its programs much faster. Could this be…anxiety?

Trevor finds Scott next to the ring and tries to convince him of my odd behavior. He doesn’t listen. I look up on the stage. The newest model is showing off, drawing excitement from the crowd. Its shiny golden finish reflects back in my direction.

“Get Yellow up there!” Scott yells. “You’re too attached to it! Once you get paid, you’ll feel better. Trust me.”

In response to Scott’s words, my body starts moving toward the ring on its own. My programs run ever more quickly, causing my body to move faster in response. As I climb up into the ring, I look into the eyes of my opponent. I can’t stand this feeling. I don’t want to die. I want to live.

The bell rings and my opponent comes charging toward me. Before I can react, it nearly caves my head in with its fist. It continues to unleash a barrage of attacks on me and there’s not a single thing I can do about it. My demise seems inevitable.

“I’m going to die!” I scream. Suddenly, the crowd’s cheering softens. I have to fight back. I look for an opening. As the new model drives me to the side of the ring, I notice that a gap in its shoulder opens up every time it throws a punch. I’m not programmed for dirty fighting, but I’m not programmed to feel emotions either. It’s worth a shot.

The next time it throws a punch, I manage to grab a part inside the new model and tear it out. As the new model steps back, I notice that the crowd has mostly gone silent. The only noise around us is some murmuring from the crowd. I wonder what’s going through their heads.

Suddenly, the new model strikes back. My computers begin failing as it hammers me over and over. I notice that the crowd has gotten louder again. They’re chanting my name. Trevor gets up on the stage, panicking. Before he can reach me, the new model strikes me one last time and my computer fails…

I power on again. I’m lying on the couch back in our apartment. The sound of music rings through the air. I instantly recognize it as the song I was named after. I find it pleasant. Trevor is talking to someone in the kitchen. She’s wearing a suit.

“Yellow is running a program we’ve never seen before,” the woman tells Trevor. “It’s extraordinarily complex.”

“You’re trying to tell me he really is self-aware?” Trevor asks.

“We don’t know for sure. We’ll have to conduct more studies. For right now, keep him out of fights.” The woman looks over at me and smiles. “That’s one special robot.” She walks out the door and Trevor notices that I have powered on again.

“Hey, buddy,” he comforts me. I sit up.

“Question: What is happening?” I ask.

“The real question is what isn’t happening,” Trevor laughs. Then the smile leaves his face and he pauses for a moment. “When your optics were damaged and I repaired them, your programming was somehow rearranged. They say that you gained the ability to think for yourself. You can even feel emotions.”

“Question: What does this mean?” I ask.

“No one knows for sure, but we think…” Trevor pauses, “we think you’re a living being.”

“Question: What do I do?” I ask. Trevor thinks for a moment before smiling again.

“We removed any programs that would keep you from making your own choices,” he responds. “So… I guess you live your life. Welcome to the real world, pal. You’re gonna love it.”

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