Interplanetary Sunsets (Chapter 2)
I even got a book cover now!
Quite ironic Voltrex thought to himself as his car neared the enlarging lunar rock. One of the newest customers... and I'm sent to their furthest outlet away. Windows glittering in the sunlight silenced any further inward conversation as the nearing city exposed its details. "Welcome to Strong Rock, Home of our first steps" a sign read as his ship sped by to its destination within the moon's capital city.
3 kilometers until arrival lit up on the central screen as intrusively as it could. Voltex once again shook his head as the car slowed down and began its descent. More memories crept into the forefront of his mental domain. You got how far in a matter of seconds? His grandfather was back. It took us a minute to drive 3 kilometers! How are you still alive?!?
Gently kissing the landing surface, his car door opened as its systems shut down and screens turned off. Voltrex took in the revealed landing plateau on the upper section of the skyscraper as he casually stepped out of the car. "Level 103: Lower Section Installs" read the embedded sign over the building's main entrance. If there was to turn back, the time would be now. Sadly, there was no turning back. This was it.
As he slowly paced forward, a friendly chime came from his car. One simple reminder to him that the doors were locked and the impenetrable shield bubble around the vehicle was activated. Mild annoyances of pain in his soon-to-be-bio hacked leg, along with his holo-notification on his watch, reminded him of his sedatives. It's been hours since his last injection taken on the ride here between the mother planet and her peasant moon.
Stopping to redirect himself towards his secure transportation, Voltrex only begun to turn around when he felt a presence place a hand on his shoulder. "Mr. Jameson" stated the synthetic voice. Voltrex quickly turned around, rather startled by the spacial violation but then realized this disturbance was protocol. The greeting android was startled by the sudden jerky movements by Voltrex, but quickly resumed its steady posture. "Welcome to Man+Machine" the human-looking machine said with hints of algorithmic concern. "I hope you're not started by my inherent intrusion". Voltrex raised a hand to express no harm was received and pointed towards his car "I forget my prescription".
"No need for that anymore" the Android responded as it turned to motion at another human-like machine. Within seconds, Voltrex was brought a hovrchar (or a "floating wheelchair" for those from previous generations) and escorted inside. Once inside, any Puries within these walls would feel like complete outcasts. All around them, cyborg and androids workers functioned as one. Literally any "humans" working here displayed embedded hardware of many sorts: eye sensors, BCI (brain-computer interface) modules, hearing enhancers... the list goes on.
After filling out any extra information on tablets (with judgmental stares for using such primitive tech, mind you), Voltrex was then brought to his appointment and the consultant's office where he was expected. Walking into the minimalistic-focused office, he felt a bit squeamish. The cleanliness of the pearl white walls enclosing him was a bit much, knowing the context of his appointment. At least I'll still house my uniqueness as a mostly-mortal being he thought as time, like everything else in the building, passed by with a cold, systematic numbness. Everything... just worked. Everything was logged.
Several millenniums later, or so it seemed, the consultant finally appeared. Voltrex wasn't sure at first. The amount of synthetic material and embedded devices on the being almost could place the human as a service bot. Unsure of the consultant's specific gender from behind, he initiated the forthcoming conversation. "Hi, my name is Voltrex Jameson".
"Hello, Mr. Jameson". The voice projected from the consultant was so identical to an AI's natural learning processor speech that he forced himself not to gawk around for a speaker. "My name is Elna Dawson. The pleasure is mine". Elna reached out a hand to him to confirm the greeting. He accepted and returned the favor. The natural feel of the handshake almost threw Voltrex off guard until the near-silent whirs of electric motors reminded him that Elna wasn't as organic as he was... for now.
"Thank you for having me, Miss...?" Voltrex trailed off.
Elna smiled and nodded in agreement. "I still cannot believe you're 100% organic" The speech module continued to project. "You're a part of such a minority of human beings that are, well, still completely human beings. Hopefully, you're not too overwhelmed while seated in my office".
"N-No, not in the slightest!" Voltrex was, again, almost caught off guard. "Why should I be? My genetic makeup, organic or man-made, shouldn't determine how I feel in a man-made building." He was hoping that the last remark didn't come off as too defensive.
"That makes sense" Elna continued, as she glanced towards her monitor. "I see you're in for your first appointment today. Getting a synthetic leg?".
"Any reason why you're not getting more done today? We have a great-"
Voltrex raised his left hand to stop the sales pitch Elna was offering. "I'd simply like to take this slow. My leg is the main problem righ...ow!" He exclaimed as a shot of pain flew up from his problematic leg.
"Here" She said while offering a pill. He questioned the pill but willing took the pill in one smooth gulp. Immediately the pain left him.
"Wow... that's amazing!"
"See? We're more than just an android factory" She said with another generic grin. "We're on the constantly shifting brink of major scientific breakthroughs. That pill is surprisingly a 'small step' in this direction." She looked back again at her monitor "Are you sure you don't want to fully embrace this?"
"Yes, please." He said with a confirming yet firm tone. "Just the leg".
"Okay, one synthetic leg change" She noted while staring at her monitor. He noticed there were no typical input devices at her fingertips. No screens to tap on. As he leaned over to in cognitively glance at her monitor, he noticed information was being read and written at breakneck speeds. She must have some sort of Brain-Computer interface module implanted somewhere. Quickly glancing at her head, he was able to confirm this with a small blinking blue light that caught his eye. It was almost completely hidden behind her earlobe.
"Okay, that should do it!" She concluded as she faced him yet again. "The surgeon, unfortunately, won't be able to perform the needed procedure today as he's currently asleep. They have very irregular sleeping patterns living on the moon. We'll put you up for the night in one of our rooms".
"Okay" he said, a bit uneasy at the thought. He almost felt as uneasy as whenever he had to stay the night at a hospital. Dwelling on the thought seemed to make the eerie feeling much more obvious, so he continued the conversation. "What are the rooms like here?"
"Comparable to the best five-star hotels and resorts that you would find on our home planet". She said as she led him out of the office and towards one of the elevators. They were taken several floors up and as the doors revealed the different floor, Voltrex could see that this consultant doesn't kid around. Elegant halls with red walls and gold trim was a comforting site. Walking towards the room, Elna remarked "You should find your stay quite welcoming. If not, we'll do everything we can do see any... circumstances are taken care of".
"Thank you" he said as he took the RFID tag she gave to him. "I'll see you in the morning... or whatever a finished sleep cycle is called on the moon".