Genre: MG Sci-Fi
Title: YOYO and PHANTOM M
It’s 2112, the Year of the Monkey. Fun fact: I was created on a monkey year. If I was a normal kid, that would make me twelve. Problem is, I’ve been twelve years old my whole life, which is a lot suckier than it sounds.
I asked Grandpa if he could make me a friend and he said no (ouch). He said it’s illegal and in the history of Xia and the rest of China, no child robot has ever been made. Except me.
But that’s cool. I’m good. I mean, who needs friends?
Truth is: I’m a superhero.
It was .
I was in position, of course. Equipped in full armor, gold and handsome under Xia’s cheerfully frying sun. I stood on the roof where I could scan everyone with my optics system, in case of bad guys, the usual. The sky was cloud-free blue, but it’s like that all year in Xia, China’s southmost island. Mo-B, a flying train shaped like a giant sperm whale, soared over the museum, crooning hello. I waved at the people in its belly, who waved back.
Today was going to be amazing.
“I’m dying,” Jun said, voice crackling inside my helmet. That’s my older brother down there, that big, buff guy with the undercut and crow tattoo on his neck. “How hot is it, Yoyo? Be straight with me.” Jun began unbuttoning his police uniform. “I’m about to fry on the spot.”
“Dude, it’s not that—oh wow, it’s 36°C. Okay.”
“Get your monkey butt down here.”
“I can’t. I’m in full armor.”
“Then de-armor yourself.”
I groaned. When I was first made, Jun was only ten, which automatically made me boss. But like all humans, Jun grew up. He’s twenty-three, so now he’s boss. And ever since he joined the Robot Control Squad (RCS, though Jun calls them the Ricks), he’s gone from Cool Bro to Crabby Bro to Perpetual Pebble in My Cogs.
I checked my energy level first. 100%. Awesome. Soon to be 99%, but whatever. I jumped off the roof like a majestic eagle, swooped into a palm tree, and dropped a coconut on a reporter.
The reporter squinted around, rubbing his head. I waited a bit before I slid down the bumpy trunk, straight into the bushes. Ta-da. I may be big and gold, but I can be stealthy too. Like a big, gold ninja.
Once I was safely hidden, I removed my armor. Don’t worry, nothing PG-13. The helmet went first: visor lifted, antennas retracted, and the helmet folded itself into the back of my skull. My golden plates flipped inside-out. Shoulder guards. Chest plate (Jun likes to say ‘breast’). Gauntlets. Gloves. Two meters of me, compressed into 1.56 meters of me. The real me. I’m compact.
I whistled as I skipped up the museum steps past the coconut reporter. To him, I was just another kid with a dumb bowl-haircut. A barricade of policeBots blocked the way to the top, but I flashed them my RCS badge, hidden under my yellow shirt.
I found Grandpa pacing behind the stage, probably calling someone about the Mayor. He was punching his palm a lot. As one of China’s most famous roboticists, Grandpa was top choice for Museum Director. People call him the Father of Zoobotics because he likes to build giraffes, emperor penguins, and anything else that went extinct in the last hundred years. He’s not so great with humans, though.
To be honest, I was also pretty worried. I know Mayor Yu and he is never, ever late.
I saluted Jun, who’d stripped down to a sleeveless black shirt and rolled-up trousers, showing off the wicked surgery scars on his neck and shoulders. “What seems to be the problem?”
Jun tossed me his Scopes. “Could you lend me your tail?”
“You called me all the way here to charge your battery?”
“I’m on Level 68 in Evil Cupcakes. Don’t leave me stranded in Marshmallow Mountains, soldier.”
I sighed, “Yessir.” I checked to see if the coast was clear, then pulled out my brass tail. Extractable, stored in my spine, with a socket at the tip. Most robots have standard black cords tucked in their sides, so they can connect and charge and stuff, but mine is a prehensile tail, which is a fancy way of saying “my tail can open the fridge and zap bad guys.”
I plugged myself into Jun’s Scopes, with a giggle. Charging a pair of Scopes shouldn’t dent my energy level too much. Scopes are wearable computers and they usually look like glasses or goggles. Jun’s are aviator sunglasses, very classy, while mine are embedded in my helmet. It’s got a nice AR (Augmented Reality) screen, so I can watch a movie while I’m flying! Isn’t that cool?
Technology is the best.
Jun’s Scopes lit up. “Di says she’s coming,” I read aloud her message, “‘right after my boss drops dead.’”
Di’s our sister. She works for a company called Imaginary Friends Inc., known for making “devastatingly beautiful” robots, whatever that means. Her dream is to make the perfect boyfriend. She calls it Operation Mr. Darcy.
“Tell her to get bubble tea,” Jun said. “I want taro.”
I texted about the bubble tea and asked Di to get Jun peppermint. My tail gave a twitch. I unplugged myself from Jun’s Scopes. “100% charged, free of charge.”
Jun switched his Scopes on with a dreamy sigh. “My hero.”
I whistled for a bit and checked the time. . Still no sign of the Mayor. I watched Jun kill a couple more cupcakes on his Scopes’ AR screen until I couldn’t stand it any longer. “So.” I cleared the static from my throat. “Do you know where the Mayor is?”
“Is he coming?”
“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Jun said, tongue between his teeth, as he blasted a Red Velvet to crumbs. “He’s our most anti-robot mayor in years. Chief Wang said the guy wants to scrap the whole Superhero Initiative by June.”
“Booyah! Level 69. Eat that, no, I’m eating you!”
I poked Jun repeatedly with my tail because I'm kind of going Code Red here. “What do you mean he’s scrapping the Superhero Initiative?”
“Right, I forgot to tell you.” Jun put his hand on my shoulder. “Bad news, Yoyo. The Mayor’s getting rid of you.”
“Kind of,” Jun said. “The Mayor wants you canned. Literally. He wants you recycled into a tin can.”
“I’m made of prolixium!”
“You’ll be an indestructible tin can,” Jun said, trying really hard not to laugh.
I couldn’t believe it. I’d served Xia for three years. That’s 1,096 days, including the leap year. That’s 26,304 hours. That’s 1,578,240 minutes. Okay, I exaggerate. Obviously, I didn’t protect Xia every minute, but I protected it for 80% of it! I don’t sleep because of night patrol. And because crime happens a lot when the sun goes down and I don’t need to sleep if I’m charging via moonlight.
But still! How could people be so ungrateful?
“This is the worst-case scenario,” I said. “Out of 389 existing worst-case scenarios.”