Chapter 3:

A Suburban Visit

Welcome to Prestige City!


Argent

Updating system. Expanding thought library.

Result: Unknown.

Overall progress 2%

“That building is going to fall in the direction of this road sooner or later.” Argent marked the ten-story office(?) building precariously tilted in the direction of the highway. The two just left the apartment complex ten minutes ago on bike, and the mechanical ball was already bored enough that it started listing all the potential hazards in the area.

“Relax, that’s been there for a while now.” Harris brushed it off, enjoying the ride through West District 2. “It’s going to take nothing short of a direct explosion to the south load-bearing pillars to bring it down.” He noted, pointing at the columns which barely kept the building from toppling over.

“Even so, let us take another route next time.” Argent replied, observing the surroundings in the comfort that is Harris’ shoulder.

“The other roads are actually worse off than this one.” He retorted. The navigation system on the Harris’ holo-bracelet displayed: West District 2, which was also the area their home was located at. Argent worried that the dilapidated apartment complex, looking like an urban terrorist hideout would stick out like a sore thumb. After seeing the rest of West District 2 however, their place actually blended in quite well.

In short, the whole place resembled an abandoned warzone. It was packed with buildings of every size, and craters of every size. Even the very road that the two were traveling on was riddled with holes.

Harris took another look at the briefcase attached to the rear end of the bicycle. “It’s a hassle to go around when we’ve got a perfectly good road here.”

“What road? Even a dirt path would be better than this sad excuse of a highway. We might as well have been traveling on slag.” Argent replied, looking at a fairly intact building with what seemed to be a campsite on its upper floors. What did Harris say this city was again? Prestige City? “I would not be surprised if the air smelled like gunpowder. What I am surprised though that there are still people here, at least evidence of people living here.”

“The air smells alright to me.” Harris swerved to avoid a hole which stretched into endless darkness.

“Are all the other places in “Prestige City” like this?” Argent stressed the word, hopefully to elicit some sense of concern in Harris.

“It’s just our District and West District 1.” Harris answered nonchalantly, though the expression on his face seemed to harden a little. Concern elicited. So many questions popped in Argent’s computing system. But it felt like such questions might bother Harris so Argent just changed the subject.

“What passes for the Internet these days?” Argent switched over to Harris’ other shoulder. “Do you know what the World Wide Web is?”

“I have some knowledge of it.” Harris lifted his head to the sky. “Networking on a global scale, boomed in the 21th century and ended in the 26th century…” He recited those words like it came from a textbook. “It was the epitome of humanity’s freedom. Resilient too. It survived both World War III and IV. Then the world leaders decided to shut it down for good.”

The two approached an intersection. The overhead road signs pointed in three directions: West District 3, Peripheral District 4, and Rockdale District. The road to the left leading to a bridge towards Peripheral District 4 is destroyed however, and the road going right towards Rockdale District is walled off.

“It’s a shame really, I’d have liked to try this social media thing they had going on back then.” Harris continued on the road to West District 3. The debris pathway gives way to a sleek concrete-like highway. Holographic signs replace the conventional overhead signs, directing the flow of the road. There’s no traffic inbound or outbound, save for the duo on the folding bike.

“There is no such counterpart in Prestige City?” A mechanical hum overhead grabbed Argent’s attention. Heavy mounted artillery, all in black and red motif dot the landscape pointed towards the Peripheral Districts.

“There is one, no idea what it’s called. And it’s reserved for the inner districts. The rest of us have radio and holovision.” Harris took a brief look at the turrets. “Those howitzers are for certain targets past the walls. Fires in one direction only, outwards.”

“How does your holo-bracelet work? The navigation and communication systems look like they use a sort of network at least.”

“That network I mentioned the inner districts have, I’m actually connected to it. Not legally though. And I don’t really use it other than to get the latest news.”

“And your client?”

“The communication to the outer and middle districts uses signal towers. The same ones that are used to broadcast on the holovision.”

The two reached the end of the highway. Without the obvious holographic signs saying West District 3, it was easy to tell they were in another district. People lined the busy streets, the buildings are structurally sound, that kind of thing. The vehicles don’t levitate and still use gas apparently. It’s not that different from a typical 20th century urban setting, just more of everything. More infrastructure, more people. It’s better than their district at least.

“Oh look, more of me.” Argent said in an unenthusiastic tone as a mechanical sphere whizzed past the two. It silently observed the traffic, scanning the area with an actual scanner. It was painted in bright blue, with black text that said PPMA on it.

“It’s a standard issue drone from the government. 4th generation observation series.” Harris patted Argent then held it up high, almost crashing the bike. “You may be from the 1st generation of that series, but you are better in every way!”

“I do not have a functional scanner or even night-vision.”

“Almost!” Harris grinned. Another drone passed by, scanning him. “Almost better in every way!”

A beep from the holo-bracelet interrupted the mechanic. “Let’s hurry.”

The two end up somewhere at the edge of West District 3. Multiple storefronts and a series of warehouses line the sort of coastal road, with various types of tech on display ranging from housing appliances to small arms. A couple hundred meters west lies Peripheral District 4 and 5 separated from them by what looked like water, but not the kind meant for drinking. It doesn’t look like sewage too, and it seemed to flow eastward into the city.

They stopped by a large warehouse which resembled more of a hangar than a depot. Everything Argent witnessed in West District 3 up to this point had been unremarkable, but something fit for a cyberpunk setting had finally shown itself.

Several mechs walk around the warehouse, being used to carry crates and heavy material of the like. Each one was three meters tall, the frame covered in dense armored plating. The cockpit was part reinforced glass and the pilots were semi-visible within. The joints were exposed, revealing the hydraulics and wiring in every movement. Several mechanical slots on the sides and back of the mech might have been used for weapon attachments, but have been painted over and sealed with metal capping. The hands have obviously been modified for picking up caches and crates.

They might have been used in a war of some sort, and now they were being used as glorified forklifts, but anything resembling a bipedal walking tank would have been a dream come true for mech enthusiasts. One of the mechs stepped in front of Harris.

“Took you long enough Harris!” A female voice called out on the mech’s speaker. The cockpit hissed open, and a woman in overalls greeted Harris. Her black hair was tied in a bun and she had a dominating air about her. Her voice was slender but booming at the same time. “Two of our mechs had been out of commission for a while, and it’s affecting our work schedules.”

“Relax, Mihara. I got the servos right here.” Harris folded the bike, carrying it along with the briefcase containing the servos. He immediately gets ambushed with a hug from the front. Mihara quickly switched from hugging him to grabbing the briefcase.

Designating actual mechanic as Mihara.

“Take this to the back, will you?” She handed the briefcase over to one of the workers. “That being said.” She punched Harris on the shoulder.

“Ow!”

“If I didn’t order anything, you wouldn’t have come out of your little hiding place. Someone will process the check, in the meantime, let’s talk outside.”

“You could just wire me the money. I have things to do back home.”

“Ha? You mean back at that dump?” She grabbed the back of his coat. Despite being smaller, she was noticeably stronger than Harris. “You. Me. Outside.” It’s not like Harris was resisting though.

“You are holding him against his will. I advise you let him go.” Argent closed in on Mihara’s face, surprising her. Argent changed the LED lighting on its body red, hopefully to intimidate the actual mechanic.

“Wahh! So cute!” Mihara does the opposite and immediately grabbed Argent, letting go of Harris. “Is she another one of your creations Harris? Her voice is so adorable!” She hugged Argent tightly.

“What.” Argent was visibly confused, which was a big feat for a mechanical ball.

“Its name is Argent. Sorry about that Argent. Her name’s Mihara, and she’s a little touchy feely with machines.” Harris let out a sigh.

“I have so many questions! First, how did you-” She began to bombard Harris with a lot of questions. Argent silently tried to escape from her clutches, but she just held it more tightly against her chest.

Updating system. Expanding action library.

“Update? At a time like this?” Argent muttered as Mihara kept pestering Harris, who tried to go outside the warehouse and failed.

Result: Reconfigured shortwave transceiver. Optical Camouflaging re-enabled.

Overall progress 3%

“-and what do you mean Argent isn’t female, have you heard her voice? Wait, you wouldn’t know you tone-deaf idiot!” She let go of Argent, who immediately moved behind Harris.

“That’s not how being tone-deaf works! You’re confusing tone-deaf with-” The two keep switching back and forth between fighting and gossiping.

A command goes in through the reconfigured transceiver. A location somewhere out in the docks 300 meters north of the warehouse pops up in Argent’s HUD. It’s not of any priority to Argent though, who’d only recognize a command from Harris. But seeing as the two are still locked in their conversation, Argent decided to check it out.

“Aw, I want one too. Are you sure you can’t do it again? I got some 3rd generation drones in the back, I can get you a hefty sum for just one.”

“Argent was created on a fluke, and even if I wanted to, I can’t. I only had one-”

Boom! A loud noise reverberated through the warehouse, interrupting their conversation. All the mechs and workers immediately went back inside the warehouse and the sliding steel doors were closed.

A female voice rang out on the warehouse speakers. “A fight has occurred between in close proximity to the warehouse, all personnel retreat to the basement floor of the warehouse.”

“Boss!” A worker ran up to Mihara, gesturing them both to follow him.

“What’s happening?” She grabbed Harris and followed the worker.

“Three terrorists, one modded and two powereds. They’re currently locked in combat with the hero Osprey somewhere north from here. The districts police will arrive soon to back him up.”

Mihara tensed up a little. “Guess we’re expecting inevitable damage to the warehouse. Sorry you guys had to experience this after coming outside in a long time.”

“Nah it’s fine. Good thing we can watch the fight from the holovision, a lot of observation drones are gonna be there. What do you think Argent?” Harris looked around, but Argent was nowhere in sight.

“Argent?”
Makech
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Koyomi
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Dracors
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Welcome to Prestige City!


Akio
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