The history is not entirely clear because history is, of course, written by the victors. The victors that day were Halo, Sol and Jubilee.
Let’s rewind. We could blame technology, the advance of it getting the better of us. A few years ago, the tech company P-Box created the Eye Dolls: virtual celebrities that didn’t age, didn’t do drugs or get themselves arrested, didn’t ask for rest or food or outrageous wages. They didn’t just exist behind a screen, either. With physical bodies and realistic AI personalities, they proved to be an instant hit. Fans adored them, queuing for hours to meet them, buying up every piece of flimsy plastic with their faces printed on it. They did concerts, meet-and-greets, grand openings, fan events, and naturally they were perfect for the job. They were never tired or hungover or just out of a bad break-up, never just not in the mood. P-Box became extremely rich extremely quickly from this enterprise.
There were only three Eye Dolls at first, with plans to add more to the roster, but it all went to Hell before that could happen. Thank god. Imagine if there were any more of them.
Eye Doll #03: Jubilee, tall and willowy, a Medieval warrior princess. She has lilac hair beneath a veil and a golden crown of roses, her outfit rich in reds of velvet and brocade. She wears chainmail, not that she needs the protection, and a small stained-glass window at her throat. If you’re close enough to see what Biblical scene it depicts, you’re a moment from asking God yourself. Her weapon of choice is a lacquered cane topped with a tangle of roses, a long thin blade concealed within.
Eye Doll #02: Sol, broad and bronzed. His theme, as the name suggests, is the sun. His blonde hair is as wild as a solar flare, his eyes tinted a bloody orange by the round sunglasses he’s never without. His outfit, khaki shirt, yellow board shorts, a jacket with only one arm, is casual and loose, allowing him freedom of movement to be on you before you can react. It’s contentious as to whether or not he was originally designed with heavy brass knuckledusters.
Eye Doll #01: Halo, the flagship, the face, the queen of all Bs. She’s tiny and cute with planets for pupils. Her long is pulled into a ponytail: pink to purple to white, the same colours as P-Box’s logo. She wears a stylised fuku: a bright blue skirt and a clear vinyl shirt complete with the sailor collar in electric pink. This shirt is her most dangerous weapon: it has a working LCD screen embedded into the chest, originally intended for concerts (refer to later notes). Halo also carries a steel baseball bat to which she nails the prettiest eyeballs, severed ears and hacked-off fingers she collects. She may kill you with this bat or her bare hands.
To anyone reading this in a time where the scourge of the Eye Dolls has passed, you may wonder how three virtual stars brought us to our knees. P-Box introduced a new app just before everything went wrong: Eye Doll Summoner, a typical ad-riddled mobile grinder featuring our heroes. Rewards in the game ranged from cute outfits for your avatar and rare items to the holy grail of all prizes: once you hit Level 100, you received a Summon Token. This was a terrible idea but, nonetheless, it sent everyone into a playing frenzy. The Summon Token allowed you to summon your very own Halo, Sol or Jubilee, a copy of the original AI that would quite literally appear before you, eager to do your bidding.
A terrible, terrible idea.
There were questions, of course, about how ethical this all was, how long these summoned copies would last, if you could extend their lifespan, but nobody got around to answering them. Within days, these copies were wreaking havoc, killing their summoners and their families, destroying property, stealing and breaking and setting things on fire. P-Box were called on to deal with the problem and their belated response was to pull the game. This ended the carnage but the damage was done. Desperate to save face, P-Box held a televised broadcast with the original three Eye Dolls. The intent was to make them apologise for the atrocities their clones had committed, a public execution to appease the masses. That is not what happened.
There are no first-hand accounts. Everyone who was in that room is dead. Some snippets of footage that were uploaded to social media survive, although they are poor quality. It seems that, essentially, Halo told them that she didn’t feel like apologising. Then they began killing.
As for the Summon Token clones, all the originals were destroyed when the game was taken down but it hardly matters. Back to the screen on Halo’s fuku: she can mass-duplicate clones from it, an ever-swelling army of Eye Doll zombies. The P-Box employee responsible for this addition to her code is no help to us. His head, or what’s left of it, is on a spike at the front of the P-Box main office.
Life goes on as best it can but our Normal is different now. These monstrous creatures rule over us with a power we granted them. We do, of course, have the Patrols to deal with the masses of clones, which are much weaker, easy to take out with the right equipment. Still, we have lost a great many in the ongoing battle. It’s been three years, forty-seven days, three hundred and nine minutes, nine thousand and eighteen seconds since the Apology Massacre.
You may wonder how it came to this. You may think we allowed it to happen, that we created the problem – plural, three of them – ourselves.
But we are not the victors so we don’t get to say.