Neo-Tokeyo 199X: M1
As Mel drove them into the small town Arron looked out the window of the old hovercar. There was little to see as they passed the few shops and warehouses on their way to the parking building near the MagLev station.
Mel drove the car onto an empty parking pad and the two of them got out. Arron waited for a few more seconds as Mel waved her hand over the scanner on the wall and registered her car.
When she stepped off the parking pad flew up into the air and entered one of the many empty spaces in the large towering building.
“Let's head to Arks Parts first, then we can go anywhere else you need,” said Mel.
“Right,” said Arron, a bit absent-minded. He used his NerViz to pull up a list of items and parts he needed, each having a different production code.
Arks Parts was just a giant warehouse that was several floors high. It had hundreds of rows of towering shelves that started at the floor and went all the way to the roof.
Arron could see several old drones flying around as well as outdated worker robots moving up and down the long aisles. Both drones and robots were busy moving parts and other items from the back of the warehouse to the proper shelves.
“Mel, Arron! Nice to see you guys. Is there anything I can help you with?” asked a man the same age as Arron.
“Hey Cam, I'm just here for some parts. Just point me to one of the hover carts,” said Arron.
Cam Ark was another childhood friend and the son of Ram Ark the owner of Arks Parts. He pointed to a corner of the warehouse where several rectangle hover carts were.
Arron looked over to Mel to see what she wanted to do.
“You go get your parts. I have to talk to Cam about ordering some special parts,” said Mel.
Arron walked over to and stepped onto the large flat hover cart.
A handlebar popped out from the cart and rose to waist height. A 2-d holographic interface opened asking for the manufacturing id of the items he wanted.
Upon uploading the list of individual part id's that cart made a sudden jerk and began to rise high into the air. It stopped when it reached a predetermined height and then started to fly towards one of the many rows of shelves.
It entered one of the narrow pathways and began flying down the pathway. Drones flew under or over the platform altering their course so as to not crash with the cart and Arron who stood on top.
The hover cart jerked to a stop when it reached the shelf with the first part that Arron needed.
The cart continued to move from part to part. The higher-level shelves that Arron was getting parts from were all filled with old parts for long-outdated machines. The parts for all the latest machines and appliances were all on the bottom shelves for easy access.
After gathering everything on the list Arron pressed the green holographic button to return to the front of the warehouse to pay for the parts.
When the hover cart arrived it connected to the front desk and a holo-menu popped up with each of the parts information.
Cam checked to see if everything was correct before quickly tapping a few of the holographic buttons to ring up the total price.
“That will be 212 credits. Looks like these parts have all been discontinued several years ago. Soon you won't be able to find any working replacements,” said Cam as he looked at the different parts.
“It wouldn't be a problem if that law banning second party manufacturing of discontinued parts hadn't been passed,” said Arron.
He waved his right hand over the counter scanner which let out a loud beep as it deducted the credits from his bank account.
“Ain't that the truth. We had to hand over all those parts to the [Office of Reason] when the law passed. We lost well over 50K credits in all the parts they took. They didn't even pay us 1 credit.”
“50k! It would take me five years to make that,” said Arron.
“I know man. We only just recently recovered from that loss. My father was thinking of buying one or two of those older delivery bots, or even a used Mechanized worker bot from a factory in the megacity. But now with the news of the bubble burst, we can't spend our credits on stuff like that.”
“I heard either of those things cost even more than a new hover-tractor,” said Arron.
“The initial cost is not the real problem, it is the costs to keep them running that is the problem. I'm not even sure if the manufacturer of delivery bots even thought about long-distance traveling in the countryside. More than likely they were only focused on their use in the megacity.”
“Where did Mel go?” asked Arron. He looked around but could not see her anywhere.
“Oh, she already left.”
Arron signed. With a wave of his hand, he bid Cam farewell and then pushed the hover cart out of the warehouse towards the hover-car parking building.
A large crowd of maybe 90 to 100 people was gathered outside of one of the warehouses. Unhappy voices could be heard coming from the crowd. Seeing this Arron was intrigued as something like this was extremely unusual.
He walked over to the crowd and found Mel standing near the rear of the crowd.
“Mel, what's going on?”
“Three new Agents from the [Office of Reason] have arrived. I'm not sure what is going on but someone needs to stop Tubbs before he gets in trouble.”
Arron now recognized the angry voice as that of Tubbs, another of his childhood friends. He left the hover cart with Mel and made his way to the front of the crowd.
“What do you mean that is the price!?” asked the Chubby man Arron recognized as Tubbs.
“The party of Mother and Father has issued the new prices due to the current minor economic problems we are experiencing,” said a black suit female agent with a hard expression.
A large portion of her face and eyes were covered by the dark visor that went from one ear to the other.
Standing next to the female agent were two other agents in black suits not paying Tubbs any attention as they scanned the crowd. Their arms were far too bulky for normal muscle which hinted at the fact they were cybernetic implants.
Behind the three agents were two round floating security bots, whose arms were clicking and clacking as they lazily moved back and forth.
“That price is not even enough to cover the entire cost of producing everything!” said Tubbs.
“You're lucky that Mother and Father are even giving you any money at all. If you wish, we can go inside and discuss this privately until we have normalized your concerns,” said the female agent.
Arron placed his hand on Tubbs' shoulder, causing him to tense up and whip his head around to see who was touching him.
When he saw it was Arron he relaxed.
“Come on Tubbs, it's not worth getting into trouble,” said Arron.
Arron shook his head and pulled the chubby arm of Tubbs, leading him away from the agents.
Tubbs left the area dejected and the crowd soon dispersed seeing there was nothing they could do.
Another month passed and the effects of the economic bubble burst were still present and in full effect.
Arron was growing worried now that the news was reporting that it would be only a few more months until the minor economic problem was Normalized.
After thinking about the problem for some time, he decided that he needed to pick up another part-time job to help pay for all the costs of running the farm.
Once he came to the decision he started a holo-call.
“Hello?” the person who answered the holo-call was Tubbs.
His chubby face filled the entire holo-screen making it appear super large.
“Damn it Tubbs! Can't you pick a setting that doesn't give the person calling you a heart attack?” asked Arron.
“I picked the setting that shows my good side! All the other settings made me look fat! Why did you call me? Do you need something or are you just calling to comment on my choice of settings?”
“Is your dad home? I need to ask him something.”
“I think he is getting ready to leave. Let me transfer the call to him.”
The holo-call flickered for a second before a new person appeared before Arron. Tubbs' father was using one of the normal default settings that showed his upper body and the surroundings.
“It's been a while since I've seen you Arron. What can I do for you?” asked the man who looked almost exactly like Tubbs, only less chubby and several years older.
He was buttoning up his red uniform with its yellow buttons and badge. On each of his shoulders were the pinned insignia clearly showing he was the chief of Novhere's police.
“Do you have any open slots to hire someone part-time?” asked Arron.
“Unfortunately I do not at this time. I hired two new greenhorn officers before the bubble burst. With the current economic problems and our small budget, we only have enough to pay for those already working. If the crisis lasts longer or our budget gets cut again, I'll have to cut the new guys loose,” said Chief Tubbs.
“Oh... well, do you know anyone in town that is hiring?” asked a disheartened Arron, hopeful for some type of part-time job.
“As far as I know no one in town is hiring at the moment. However, I do know that the police force in the megacity Neo-Tokeyo is always hiring. They are always in need of people because of all the new tech and new crimes that keep popping up all the time. If that is something you are interested in, you might want to contact them. You will probably have an easier time if you know someone that can arrange an appointment for you.”
“Thanks for the information,” said Arron before waving and ending the call.
Arron was not sure if going to the Megacity was something he wanted to do, but he decided to contact another person on his list that he had not called in several months. Unfortunately, he only got a recorded answering holovid, stating he was either busy or could not accept the call.
Arron recorded a short message asking him to call him back.
Hello reader, this is me, the alien mech pilot from mars.
Look deep into my eyes. Tell me how do you like the story so far?