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SINGULARITY

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"I'd rather live in a world with people in it, no matter how stained it is with sin."  -Evangelion

Two old men stood on the packed platform of a high speed monorail, bathed in the unnatural orange, golden glow of the multitiered city. A chilling wind billowed around them as they gazed at the thousands of skyscrapers, criss-crossing monorail lines between the buildings, and the people... The throngs of people, everywhere. City 24, the Golden city; the City of Man... The worst place in the AR. Pedestrians passing by looked at them with disgust; everybody else looked young and beautiful... A women flanked by a number of men on either side of her shouted out, "What the hell's your problem?!"

A man walking past knocked his shoulder into one of them and snarled, "You're asking for trouble looking like that around 'ere mate."

One of the old men turned and whispered to the other, "Zaccaheus, we should've changed our avatars. This is ridiculous."

"We'll be fine... And its important we meet Daniel like this."

The two old men made their way to the nearest flight of stairs, deciding to avoid the elevators and all the people taking them, and passed a man who was urinating while facing a wall, oblivious to the people all around him. Together they descended the stairs, edging past the few other people who took them as well. A well dressed man lay at the foot of the first flight of stairs, pants down and seemingly asleep. They stepped over his body, and Zaccaheus took a glance over the railing of the staircase to further take in the view of City 24.

The night sky was pitch black, with not a star to be seen due to the light pollution of the virtual city. He could make out what looked like a brawl between some people on the ground tier about two hundred metres directly below him. Zaccaheus counted the number of tiers below them; four. This place was home to a large number of the AR's permanent inhabitants, those who'd abandoned the real world, and wanted to live a normal human life, without the ever watchful rule and care of the AI's; stopping them from fighting, from stealing... And from killing. A life, of imperfections.

The two of them continued down the flight of stairs, ignoring the glares people passing by shot their way until they reached the fourth tier. The staircase opened up onto the side walk of a busy street flooded by the unnatural orange light. The two of them walked quickly along the side walk, their brisk pace looking unusual and out of place due to the frail and old appearances of their avatars. They slipped down the nearest alleyway; away from the busy crowds and the spiteful stares.

Cavil whipped a cigar out of his breast pocket and lit it as he leaned back against the alleyway wall.

"Don't get too comfortable Cavil. We've only got a limited amount of time to find him remember. And why do you have to keep smoking in here?"

Cavil puffed out a large breath of smoke into the air, "Because here its not unhealthy is it. Plus, I like the taste. And listen Zac, I'm telling you, not changing our avatars before coming here was a bad idea. We're walking targets like this. People will think we're just making ourselves look like this as a joke, to take the piss. We're just asking for a fight."

"I told you already. When we find Daniel, he'll be less likely to make a run for it and be more willing to talk to us if we approach him looking like this. I don't want to have to send him back by force."

Zaccaheus glanced over his shoulder and further into down the dark alleyway. He could make out what appeared to be a couple screwing each other in the shadows behind a dumpster, "Is every place thats not controlled by the AI's really this bad?"

Cavil yawned before speaking again, "No. But its the worst ones that seem to attract the most people. Plus, depends how you define bad. Remember this is the kind of world people miss. This is the world we miss," he stretched his bony arms as he said this, then clapped his hands together, "And frankly, we shouldn't be trying to force him to go back anyway. I understand why you feel for Julia but..."
Cavil stopped there, as he noticed Zaccaheus's irritated facial expression. He changed the subject promptly, "Ok then. Well, the police force around here isn't going to be helping us track him down. He's not done anything illegal."

He took another puff of his cigar before continuing, "There is an organisation here though, illegal of course, but everyone knows about it. Its a group of mercenaries and bounty hunters, hired guns essentially. They have eyes and ears all over the city. They essentially run the place. All we gotta do is pay them, and they'll track him down for us, they can even put out a bounty for him if we want, and anyone who wants to can find him for us. "

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