<<< From Science Labs: Inside The Shop[*] <<<

The train stopped at ACDC Station, and Steve watched as those around him got off. He himself waited until the train doors were about to close, and quickly darted out onto the platform. Nobody was watching him except for a station conductor, who waved his arm at Steve, directing him away from the disembarking train. He wasted no time finding his way back to the surface, back to the streets of his old hometown. As the sunlight once again hit his body, he re-activated the PET, all upgrades completed.

Steve took a cab the rest of the way, stopping the driver two blocks away from his house. Paying his fare, Steve got out and began the approach. Hopefully nobody was there to see him picking through the remains. And some remains they were. He walked past the last house to see a pile of burnt wood and iron occupy the place he used to call his abode.

He stopped moving. His mouth dropped open as he gazed upon the debris. The force of the explosion must have been enormous. The amount of splintering, the level of ferrous on the iron, the spread of the rubble. This building didn't stand a chance. Had he been walking into the house as it went off, he would have surely been eradicated. What was an expression of sadness quickly became an expression of anger. What did he do after all these years that deserved this? Why now? What grudge could possibly have been resolved after so much time? He crossed the road and entered the property.

He turned over fragments of beams, pieces of wall, and the occassional metal strip, but the pile did not reveal any hint or clue as to who was responsible. Squatting down on a charred red plank, he sat in the woodchips and stared into the sky. So this is my life now; hiding in shadows and the odd contact with complete strangers...

A flicker of light distracted him from his thoughts. Leaning forward, he noticed that the letterbox was still in one piece. This didn't surprise him; it was far enough away from the house that it wouldn't have been demolished by the explosion. Maybe by a loose item thrown by the explosion, but that apparently wasn't the case. What had his attention was that the lid was ever-so-slightly ajar. It only did that when there was something just a little large for the box itself. Raising himself from the ashes of his past, he ran over to the metal box and opened it up. He reached inside, and his fingers clasped onto a small parcel. His thoughts instantly ran back to that day when he picked up the box that contained the PET in which Recon was in. Sure enough, as he pulled his hand out, another parcel that looked very similar was sitting in it. This one was slightly smaller, though.

Putting it in his pocket with the PET, Recon looked around. Nobody in sight. Great. He ran off his property and down the street. Let's see anybody keep up with me now, he cockily muttered as he used his hometown knowledge to weave in and out of the streets. There was no way anybody could follow him now.

As he ran towards the commercial area, he passed a homeless shelter. With paint peeling off the rotting boards, it looked relatively uninhabited for the moment, so Steve grabbed the doorknob, twisted it, and entered the dwelling. It didn't look much better inside; torn carpets, holed planks, and the smell that met him was slightly repulsive, but he could deal with that. This is the alternative... he told himself as he sat in a corner with a batteredd heating unit close by. As he stared at the ceiling at the lone fan that didn't look like it had been used in years, he noticed a security camera. A security camera with a warning label that read "PREMISES MONITORED 24 HOURS A DAY" in big bold red letters on a yellow background. The back of the terminal was hardwired to an internet line, where he assumed the video was streamed to an external source.

He left the package from his mailbox in his pocket. Nick would know what to do with it, but for now, Steve just wanted to relax. He'd managed to avoid his feelings, but after seeing his old residence is pieces, the emotions from the past few years had finally caught up with him, and there wasn't any alcohol to avoid it this time. He simply sat there, not moving at all. Recon went to say something, but he'd never seen Steve like this before. He felt it best to stay silent for the time being. However, that feeling slowly subsided as the hours passed by, but Steve didn't feel like leaving for the moment.

Recon, no longer able to handle the situation, was bored. Hey Steve, you think that security camera has a jack-in port? he asked, entertaining the idea of some virus busting.

Don't know. I'd imagine not; they don't want people tampering with their systems, he reasoned without even looking up.

They're homeless, not poor, Recon pointed out.

Steve hadn't thought of the situation like that. Breaking out of his dark funk, he scanned the room with a purpose. He realised that Recon was right; there was a jack-in port next to the light switch, although it wasn't marked as such.

Well I'll be, he mumbled. Let's test those upgrades now then, he confirmed as he jettisoned his navi across the room and onto the local network. Any excuse to get his mind's attention elsewhere.

*Jack In: Recon.EXE*

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