Chapter 1:

New Tokyo


            ~~I hope you’re all having a lovely morning today! It’s currently a sweltering 32 outside, I would not want to be working outside today. If you are heading out, make sure to take the proper precautions and humans are advised to wear masks, there’s a bit of smog today so take care.~~

The radio crackled a bit as the station switched from the lively voice of the announcer to nostalgic hum of an old pop song. It was one of those old tunes that everyone knew the moment they heard it but could never sing it on command. In the back corner of her workshop where the sound of the old radio could barely reach Meimei began to hum along. When her father had run the shop he had loved to blast the radio as loud as it would go, but Meimei preferred things to be a little quieter. It meant she wouldn’t have to replace the speakers once a month and she also wasn’t afraid to be alone with her own thoughts while working.

The heat from the outside was starting to seep into the shop and despite her best efforts to keep cool Meimei was covered in a thin layer of sweat. As she slid back on her chair she wiped a line of sweat from her brow and smiled while admiring her handywork.

“Yep, looks all fixed up now.” The speeder was an older model, too old for most of the other repair shops to bother fixing but she liked these older models and loved when people brought them into her shop. Throwing her dirty tools into a shallow tray she ran a bucket of water to clean up the speeder. It wouldn’t be the best job, but at least it wouldn’t be covered in grease when she gave it back.

When she was done a short while later she sat down at a small console to let Lian, her client, who was a medical android, know that the repairs were done and that she could either come pick up the speeder tonight or pay an extra fee and have Meimei drive it over to her home. The reply came quickly, Lian needed her speeder as soon as possible to tend to some humans living in the suburbs, so Meimei should drive it over.

There weren’t any other jobs for the day so Meimei shut up her shop, set the electronic sign on her door to say that she was out for the afternoon and that any urgent requests would be handled that afternoon, and set off in the old speeder. It was a sunny day and driving with the windows open to let the breeze in felt nice. The wind cooled her skin and chased away the heat of the stuffy repair shop.

Speeding down the lower roads Meimei steadily moved towards her destination. At this hour the traffic should have been terrible, but no one liked to travel the lower roads. People who lived in the upper levels seemed to think that the ground levels were dirty and unsafe but in fact they were the safest place a human could be. Androids were incapable of harming humans unless they were illegally modified, by humans. There was a decent amount of trash floating around but most of that fell from the upper levels. It was a good thing there was an army of androids who spent their days cleaning everything up. Sure it wasn’t all shiny and new looking down here, but it wasn’t rundown and derelict either.

Pulling up at the ground entrance to an apartment building Meimei was met by a blonde haired android in a panic. “Oh thank goodness you’re here! I just got a call that Mr. Watanabe fell while in the garden and I need to check him out. His wife said he has a terrible bruise on his leg.”

Shutting the speeder down Meimei got out and handed the key to Lian. “She’s all yours. It should run like new, just be careful with the accelerator. If you push it to max too fast you’ll pop the safety fuse again and the engine will shut down.” Looking at the well put together woman Meimei was a little more aware of how dishevelled she must look at that moment. Somewhere along the way her hair tie had snapped unleashing a mane of black hair and she was still in her dirty work clothes.

“I’ll be careful. I can’t have it break down again. My poor clients need my help and I’m sure they’d rather I drive a little slower than not make it out there at all.” Lian didn’t pay any mind to Meimei’s attire and pulled her in for a hug.

“I can’t thank you enough dear.” She paused and looked at her speeder with loving eyes. “This was my first speeder you know. I bought it as soon as I graduated med-school. It’s been almost 30 years now.”

“Is she that old? I had no idea. With the way you take care of her I would have thought she came off the line yesterday.” Meimei really had been impressed with the maintenance of the speeder. The interior was pristine, and everything was very clearly serviced regularly. Unfortunately it was an old model and had an outdated safety system built in. Back then there had been stricter speed regulations and the engines were designed to cut out if the system thought you were trying to race or go too fast.

“Yep. She’s old enough now that none of the other repair shops will repair her anymore so I’m glad I remembered your shop.” Lian paused and smiled awkwardly, “Well it was actually Masa. I owe him a favour for towing my speeder to your shop too.”

Meimei laughed and smiled, “Masa is a busybody, but he does have his moments.” Not wanting to take up more of the woman’s time she stepped aside and let her drive off after admonishing her again about driving with a lead foot. It didn’t matter human, or android there were bad drivers everywhere. Sending a brief prayer to the universe that she wouldn’t wreck on her way Meimei began the walk to the nearest bus stop.

“Do you need a ride?” A cheerful voice inquired from down the street. Coming down the street on a garbage hauler was Masa wearing his city uniform and a giant grin. Meimei rolled her eyes.

“If I didn’t know any better I’d report you for stalking.” Walking forward to meet him halfway Meimei didn’t hesitate to open the door swing herself up into the passenger seat of the hauler. The windows were open, but the ac was running. Once she was inside Masa closed the windows and resumed driving his normal route.

“So, you fixed Lian’s speeder for her. She’s a lovely lady but her speeder must be in the shop at least once a week.” Masa had been cleaning the ground streets in this area for almost 50 years and he knew everyone who lived in the area by name. He had been good friends with Meimei’s father and had promised the old man when he left the city that he’d use both eyes to watch over his daughter.

“Once a week huh? Sounds like she’ll keep me employed for the next decade.” The two laughed and chatted about daily life on the way back. It was a much slower journey than earlier but the company was nice.

“So how’s the shop doing? Got any projects on the go?” Masa managed to drop the question in casually enough to avoid sounding like he was fishing for an answer. Meimei kicked her feet up onto the dash and yawned.

“Work’s been pretty steady, but I don’t have anything in the garage currently. Well, there might be a model F speeder coming in later this week. One with a nice tan interior, well taken care of but driven but a terrible android driver.”

Masa chuckled, “If I was a betting man, I’d wager 50 yen you see her again before the week’s out, but unfortunately for me that’s against my ethics programming.”

“You know I could take that chip out if you wanted.” A pocket sized spanner appeared in Meimei’s hand and she casually spun it across her knuckles. “They’re really easy to remove.”

“Kiddo I’ve seen you use that wrench before and the day I let you jiggle my circuits around is the day I walk into a recycling plant of my own freewill.” The android snapped back with more malice than he actually felt. For a woman who was only 28 this year she was far too cocky.

The reply that came a second later was equally as snippy. “Be sure to invite me so I can watch.”

“Why you-” Masa stopped talking after that as a passing police mech reminded him of the reason he had brought up the topic of her work in the first place. “Well so you’ve got an empty garage. What would you say if I gave you something to fill it?” His eyes were on the road and he was unable to see her reaction but after having known Mei her entire life he really didn’t need to.

“Tsk, I knew you were up to something. All right, what junk do you have tucked away in the back that you want me to look at?” The spanner was spinning even faster now as it changed hands and twirled between her fingers.

“It’s a mech.” Mei opened her mouth in protest, mechs were her least favourite thing to fix, but Masa shut her down quickly, “A pre-war era mech. Manufacture date is 2086.”

2186? Was that even possible? Mei’s eyes nearly bulged out of her head. The mech wars had lasted nearly 200 years and spanned the entire globe. The destruction had been everywhere, no country or continent had managed to escape the devastation. There was barely anything left from during the war let alone anything from before the war that hadn’t been designed to withstand EMP bombs. If this mech really was from 2186 then this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I’ll take your stunned silence as you being too in awe of my amazing find to respond.” Masa allowed the human to regain her composure and fought a wide smile of his own.

“When can you drop it off?”

“As soon as I drop you off. It’s all packed away in the back for you. And yes I put a force shield on it this time. No extras scratches and there should be less of a smell too. I’d have used my speeder to bring it over, but the damned thing is too big.” If Mei had been at the controls she would have sped up and rushed home, but as Masa was still technically working she could only grit her teeth and count cracks in the road as they slowly crawled towards her shop.

“Are you sure it’s pre-war era?” She asked for the tenth time.

“It’s the oldest mech I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of mechs.” Masa would have lost patience by now if he were a human but his inclination towards treating Mei kindly prevented him from feeling or showing any irritation toward her.

By midafternoon they were at the shop and Masa was unloading the mech onto a cart while Mei cleared out enough space in the garage. A shipment of parts had been delivered while she was away, and the neighbour had been nice enough to put it inside for her.

When the garage door finally squealed open on heated hinges Masa was already waiting outside with the blue mech on a hover cart. “Well what do you think?”

The mech was indeed huge, it barely fit on the cart that was meant to haul speeders and if it had been standing up would probably have hit the ceiling on the way in. “It’s huge.” Mei turned to eye the garage knowing that she’d have to stand it up at some point. The garage had 15 meter ceilings to accommodate for working on service mechs, but this thing was a lot bigger and clunkier than those she was used to seeing.

“It should fit. I measured it while I was taking it out. Standing it’s about 14.5 meters so as long as you’re careful.” Masa smiled and pushed the cart inside knowing that even if it had been 25 meters stall she would have wanted it.

No sooner had he gotten it in was he shoed out. Chuckling to himself Masa loaded the hover cart back into his hauler and went on with his route for the day.

Taylor Victoria