UnderSub Apartments

<<< From Science Labs: Inside The Shop <<<

UnderSub Apartments. That was where he was probably going to spend a good few months. It wasn't as nice as his old home, but it was hopefully a lot safer. And cheaper. With a name like that, you know you're good get cheap rent.

Steve remembered Nick's instructions: Enter the subway, and make a couple of turns. That wasn't very descriptive, since the tunnel system underneath the Science Labs city was a maze, but once you'd been shown the path, little landmarks paved the way. Disgusting little landmarks.

The sign in itself was shoddy, a small label almost falling off the wall itself. But once you entered, the corridor was maintained enough. There was no elevator, but rather, winding sets of stairs that levelled out at the different floors. The current subway system doesn't pass close by, so few noises can be heard during the day/night.

Three floors down. That's where we were. Third floor, last door on the right. It was the only room on the floor to have its own bathroom. It's a rather small bathroom, but at least you don't have to share it with twelve other flatmates.

Back to the room. It's small, but there's still enough space for two beds, a television, a small kitchenette, and a study for all the investigating you'll be doing. Interestingly enough, the laptop is probably the only expensive item in the whole building. It hacks into the subway's network, so you've got firewall internet access too. Add a proxy/IP scrambler, and nobody knows where you are.

Perfect for people who are supposed to be dead.
As soon as he was home, Steve instantly headed for the laptop. Nick wasn't here, so sharing wasn't a problem. Opening a code-editor, Steve loaded the Process Upgrade through the PET and connected said PET to the computer. Using the new data, Steve began to build another of Recon's previous weapons.

I can't build it properly, but this will have to do for now, he reassured himself as he added the final touches.

He pulled the PET out of his pocket. Up until now, Recon had been in hiberation. Steve was wondering what to tell him. If I tell him the story now, he won't understand. He pondered this some more. No. I'll tell him what he needs to know as he remembers it, Steve decided as he uploaded the final product onto the PET. Activating the navi, he pushed it out of the slumber statis he'd been resting in and ejected him onto the net. Recon always did recover faster battling.

*Jack In: Recon.EXE*

>>> To SciLab Net: SciLab: First Run >>>
<<< From SciLab Net: Scilab: First Run <<<

Recon's data finished transferring back into the PET, and the navi's image appeared on the screen again. Beginning healing procedure, he reported.

Suspend yourself in recovery mode, you'll revive quicker that way, Steve replied. Oh, and this time, run the Training System. You need to learn basic battling information.

Shutting down, he confirmed before going silent.

Left to his own devices, Steve looked around the apartment. There wasn't much to do: Nick didn't use this place for living, so his choices were either watch some television, run some diagnostics, or go see how Nick was doing at his new job. Steve hadn't done anything fun since the incident, and was dying to get out. Going out in his usual getup would attract the wrong kind of attention in a bar, though. A different change of clothes was going to be needed.

Having shuffled through Nick's wardrobe, Steve was able to find a pair of light brown short cargo pants and a red polo shirt that fit. These weren't his style in the slightest, but faced with no other viable options, they would have to do. Donning the new outfit, he grabbed his PET and walked outside.

As he closed the door, he noticed the still body bleeding heavy amounts of blood. Once again his pulse started racing. So THAT'S what that thump was earlier. He went to kneel down and see if the stranger was alive, but then quickly pulled back. Getting involved could force him to reveal his identity. What to do, what to do...

Hoping that somebody else was in one of the adjoining rooms, Steve ran past them as fast as he could while banging the walls with his fist. Hopefully the commotion would make others come out and do what he wanted to: help. As he started climbing the stairs, he heard some doors open and a piercing scream shortly followed. By that time, he was a few metres from the front door. Slamming it open, almost breaking it off its hinges, Steve made his way towards the surface.

>>> To Science Labs: Club Cybernetics >>>
<<< From Science Labs: Pride and Glory[*] <<<

Steve was very cautious upon approaching the building. After the terms he left on, he wasn't sure what to expect. Police? More thugs?

Or worse, everybody dead?

He crept down to the third floor, hoping he wouldn't be spotted. But to his surprise, nothing was in the hallway. Nothing. No observers, no body, not even the faint outline of blood on the floor. In fact, there wasn't even any blood on the walls; the hand marks were eradicated completely. Pulling a key out of his right pocket and using it to unlock the door, Steve entered the apartment to find Nick tapping away on the laptop.

There you are, he said with relief in his voice.

Yeah, I stopped off to get a coffee, Steve replied. I ran into some girl, but she seemed too busy and tired to remember anything. I don't think I'll see her again.

I guess. Stranger things have happened, Nick remarked as he continued to tap away at the keyboard.

Steve moved behind him and looked over his shoulder. The diagnostic tests from Recon's first Scilab run were being processed. What interested him was that Nick kept halting the analysis to check on another process, as if he was searching for something.

Anyway, I'm gonna grab some sleep, he told his friend before falling onto his bed. He was asleep within minutes.


Nick woke up first, which was no surprise after Steve's antics last night. As he moved into the bathroom, he grabbed a bag that was sitting on top of the vanity and placed it next to Steve's bed, just under where his feet would reach the floor. He wouldn't miss it there; it would probably surprise him though.

Nick was just about to hit the shower before he noticed the PET dimly flashing from Steve's bedside table. He quickly grabbed it before it could awaken Steve and took it into the bathroom with him.

I didn't think you'd see me, Recon chuckled.

It was kind of hard not to, Nick said as he stifled a laugh. Did you want to speak to me?

Yeah. Last night you said something in a tone that Steve missed, but I didn't, he responded. I get the feeling you weren't too impressed by Steve's attitude to meeting someone.

Nick looked puzzled as he stared at the navi. Your memory might not be back, but you're still as cluey as ever, he finally answered. Yes, I don't like how he keeps to himself. I broke through his barrier years ago, but it wasn't easy. He keeps most things to himself.

I've noticed that, Recon agreed. Is there anything I can do?

Nick thought to himself. Getting Steve to agree to befriending outsiders wouldn't be easy. Wait. That was it. You know, maybe there is. Nick turned on the showerhead, releasing a gush of semi-hot water. The hiss that followed as it made contact with the ceramics was enough to hide Nick's voice. There's a place called Internet City where navis go to do business and mingle. You can go to a certain sector and post on what is called a BBS. In particular there's a section where you can request to meet other navis.

So? Steve would never agree to that, Recon argued.

Exactly. If he knew about it, Nick smugly replied.

Recon was beginning to have the same idea. But wait, aren't we supposed to be lying low? he questioned Nick.

Me and Steve are, but the people who returned you know you're still out there, so what difference does it make? he reasoned. In fact, by drawing them out we may start getting answers.

The black navi was very excited by this plan. Okay then, jack me in, he exclaimed with glee.

Nick poked his hand out of the bathroom and aimed the PET at the laptop. Steve was already starting to stir. If you're gonna do this, you'd better do it fast, he whispered as the laptop approved the connection and sent the weapons wielder to Internet City.
Coming back from the board, Recon landed back in the PET just in time for Steve to snap out of his slumber and rise out of bed. His first reaction was to get a drink of water, and that plan quickly turned sour as his feet hit the bag and flung his head towards the other bed's edge. His hands thrust out and planted themselves against the bed, stopping his fall from turning fatal. Steve's didn't know whether to take this as a joke or as an act of agression, but when he saw what was inside he changed his mind. He'd have to wait for the shower first though.

Hey Recon, rise and... he stopped as he felt around for his handheld device and touched nothing but air. ...shine? he finished, rather confused. He definitely brought it home with him. Didn't he? He couldn't remember talking to Recon since...

...the rest stop.

Hurrying to the door, Steve was only stopped by the door of the shower being open a crack. In this small space he could see part of something black and portable. Throwing the door open and ignoring Nick's cries of embarrassment and anger, Steve placed the PET next to the laptop and connected it once again. Recon's face lit up as he transferred to the computer. More training? he asked rather hopefully.

Why not, he replied. Begin jack in procedure, he directed as he turned his head back to the bathroom door. Nick had some explaining to do, but that could wait until later.

*Jack in: Recon.EXE*

>>> To Scilab Net: More Explorin' >>>
<<< From Scilab: More Explorin' <<<

Nick came out of the bathroom, dressed in some clean-cut clothes. Steve look a look at what he was beginning to expect as his friend's regular appearance. More work today? he asked, removing the highspeed dataline from the PET and getting up from the computer chair.

Somebody's gotta earn some dough to pay for this place, he pointed out as he finished drying his hair with a towel from the tiny linen cupboard and looked down at the bag of clothes that had been strewn all over the floor. I guess you found my package.

Yeah, thanks for that, he snarled as he walked over and stuffed said clothes back into the bag. How Nick got all this attire in stumped him; there was no way this all came from such a small bag. Packing as much as he could back in, and grabbing the rest with his spare hand, he picked up the clothes and spread them out on his bed.

Nick had provided some interesting options. For shirts, his choices were black, blue, red, and light green, in both button-ups and tees. The tees had wild designs sprayed across them in yellow and white, while the button-ups remained plain, except for a small logo on the top right pocket. Immediately identifying it as Recon's emblem insignia, Steve moved it all aside to see what else was provided.

The pants selection was jeans, board shorts, and cargos, all in dark blue, dark brown, or dark gray. There were some belts to go along with them, but they were all black and brown; nothing too noteworthy about that. The final selection was two pairs of shoes. One looked like a set of runners, and the other an expensive set of leather pads that belonged to a tuxedo. As he held them up to study them, a puzzled look crossed his face. Exactly what was this supposed to go with?

Nick threw the towel back into the bathroom and turned to Steve. Noticing his look, he paused for a second, before realising what his partner was thinking. He took the shoes from Steve's hands and moved to Steve's small cupboard. Opening it and exposing the only outfit, Steve suddenly clicked what the shoes were for.

You going for a shower or not? he asked. I need you to do something for me today, and if you're not showering, I'll tell you now and then I can leave for work.

Yeah yeah, he dismissed before going into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Nick instantly dropped his body into the computer chair, reconnecting the PET to the laptop. Were you successful?

You bet, Recon happily replied. So how will I know whether anybody replies? Do I have to check it myself?

No. Nick began tapping some commands into his laptop. If you created the topic, then you'll get an alert through your navi-assigned email, he explained. Recon turned to the operator display with horror written all over his face; surely he was joking. Steve would discover the email and investigate!

Nick laughed again. Don't worry, I've created an informant diversion system onto your email account. Any BBS updates will now rewire straight to your memory banks, bypassing the email altogether, he explained. Is there anything you needed to do online before Steve's done in the bathroom? You probably won't be back here until the day is over.

Recon remembered something he'd said the night before. Can you open a bookmarked link for me?

Sure. A portal opened up in front of Recon, revealing waves of sand that blew against the terminal he was about to teleport to.

You won't fool me twice, the visor warned the network, switching into active mode and moving into place over his eyes. A terminal appeared on the ground, upon which Recon stepped onto. The disk began to glow, and Recon's body was shattered into data form as it streamed to the other end.

*Jack In: Recon.EXE*

>>> To ACDC Net: Saluki.exe's Homepage[*] >>>
<<< From ACDC Net: Saluki.exe's Homepage[*] <<<

Recon re-entered the PET and waited for Steve to return. While he'd been gone, Nick had taken all of the clothes off Steve's bed and arranged it in his cupboard. The only items he'd left out were a blue tee, dark gray jeans, and the black runners.

Steve came out of the bathroom with the towel wrapped loosely around his legs. Both Nick and Recon turned away; the sight of his torso was nauseating. After waiting a minute or two, the pair turned around to a fully-clothed man, with his arms crossed in front of his chest. So speak, he demanded, feeling conscious about his appearance.

I want you to go back to your home and check for any clues at the site, Nick explained. Our assailants aren't stupid; they must know that we're alive by now. And if they know, there's a good chance that our friend does as well. They may even want to reach us.

Steve didn't understand. Wait, what friend? Why would any good guys be seeking us out? That makes no sense whatsoever.

Nick turned the laptop towards Steve, with a final report of the tests he'd been running last night. At first I thought it was a mistake, but a set of follow-up tests confirmed it: somebody was tracking you on your first virus-bust.

How? Recon questioned from the PET.

There was a mysterious codec emitting from your leg when I first received you back at Yomitagi. When I ran the evaluation of your first recorded run on Scilab, I realised that the codec reading was not present. I ran a check on that particular codec type, and it was a device lockdown key. Nick walked up to Steve with the black device in his hand. The moment you jacked in, there would have been somebody watching him. And you, by extension of him. Getting Recon back was a good thing, regardless of what you think.

Nick paused for a minute to catch his breath, and continued. I doubt our antagonists would have left the execution to chance. My guess would be that somebody came past after I took you away. Once they realised there was no PET in the house after the explosion, they would have put two and two together and deducted that you got away.

This was a lot for Steve to take in at the current moment. Sitting down on his bed, he gathered his thoughts on what this meant. So... you want me to check out my house for... what? Another package?

Don't be ridiculous, he stated, pulling his friend up from the bed. I know you still have your exploration skills. If there's something there that shouldn't be, you'll see it. Nick turned and went to the door. He opened it to find a blood mark against the lower half. Geez, I just cleaned that yesterday, he groaned.

THAT'S what happens down here?! Steve exclaimed, rather freaked out. People die and we just hide the evidence?!

What do you expect? This is a hideout: we can't have the police here, he responded before closing the door from the other side.

I... guess... he quietly agreed. Something about that statement made him feel disgusted at his current living arrangements. Of course, being alive was better than the alternative.

You ready to go? Recon asked. He still had some questions for Steve, but they could wait.

Steve bent over and tied his shoes. If Nick wants me to check out the explosion site, then that's what I'll do, he confirmed while bending back up. Besides, it beats sitting around here all day. But first, we need to get you fixed up for better endurance. Opening the door and entered the hallway, Steve pulled out his set of keys and locked the three bolts that secured his door. He looked down the hall to where the dead body had been yesterday. So if he was to die in this complex, nobody would care? As soon as they discovered who was responsible for his current situation, he was renting a new place back on the surface, even if he had to get a job.

>>> To Science Labs: Inside The Shop[*] >>>