Union City was always busy; whether it be day or night, crowds of people moved from sector to sector with purpose. They were like sardines in a can, people being shuttled from one place to another, barely aware of the others crammed into mass transit so packed, the seats were filled before half of the passengers had even loaded in! It was a noisy, industrious place full of opportunity.
The city itself was in a state of flux, converting to a new energy source. A new breakthrough merging the wonders of both magic and technology that offered a perfectly clean energy source at so low a cost that there had been no reason not to pursue it! But progress came at a cost, large sections of the city were now dotted with the ghosts of heavy industry. Giant stacks that once belched out smoke and soot into the air now stood dormant, giant skeletons of the age past marking the skyline. Yet each day, fewer and fewer remained as the people became accustomed to the loud thunderous boom and rumble as they fell, one by one.
So much happened so quickly. Industry had taken over, paving the way for giant corporations to vie for supremacy. Each sector was controlled by a different corporation, and each had their own laws. And yet the city still managed to move forward despite how fierce the competition was. Like a well oiled machine, built on the foundation of dirty industry!
Yet as wondrous as these changes were, even with the soft glow of turquoise illuminating the streets in the shadow of the magitek generators, not all was as it seemed. For every bright glimmering ray of hope, there was someone destitute, yet still trapped in the city. It was here our story begins, in the busy, crowded terminal of a subway station, people of all shapes and colors, and every species imaginable crossed paths. Cats, dogs, humans, they all walked on, moving back and forth between their jobs, their homes or maybe to go shopping. And yet someone in the crowd was out of place.
A young feline, with purple tufts of fur atop of her ears and tail, and stark white fur watched the people passing by. She was short, maybe just shy of four feet, and looked to be in her mid teens at the latest. She wore a tattered turtleneck and a pair of blue jean shorts, dirty and torn from age, and her blue eyes darted from person to person that walked by her as she leaned against one of the pillars at the station. She was attentive, almost...too attentive!
She starts to move, wading through the crowd with practiced movements. Her short height made her so easy to overlook, even as they saw her purple tufts. She moved like a dance through the crowd, spinning, twisting, contorting to avoid running into someone, and all the while, her hands moved with practiced grace, reaching into pockets, letting distractions happen as if she had accidentally run into someone, and finally, when she got to the other side, she leans against the post on the other side, looking at what she had managed to lift. Four chit cards, worth maybe 50 creds overall. Her ears drooped as she looks over her gains, thinking for a moment. At least it was enough she could get something to eat today. It was all she could ask for when she struggled each day, making sure she never took too much and rouse suspicion, just enough to get by. She was lucky she never went hungry, but it was always a concern in the back of her mind.
The cat only knew one name, it was the only name she knew growing up. She never knew her parents, and the streets were a harsh way to learn, so she simply went by “scratch”. Sure it was meant as an insult, some thug decided to try and get fresh and found out that the young kitty had claws and would protect herself, but still, the name had stuck, and wasn’t going anywhere. It was as good as any other name, so she took it for herself!
Scratch knew the streets, but she also knew the way things were going...she may not be able to keep at just picking pockets. She’d snuck into a few houses from time to time, to get more important things, or take things she knew others would pay a lot for, but the pickings these days were getting slimmer and slimmer. She would need to think of something and soon, or else the next day, she may not be able to get bread, much less have it be safe. She needed to move on from the station anyway.
Her eyes scanned the crowd, surely there was someone...someone who looked well enough off they wouldn’t mind a few things missing, but not so rich that if she got caught she wouldn’t be able to bluff her way out of it without all the police in the city putting her poster up. She saw that from other kids she grew up with on the streets every once and a while. A poster would be placed up, and within a few days, suddenly, they just never came back to the alley they called home, often they were never seen again.
She watched each person in the terminal, quietly in the corner she had chosen for herself. That one was too rich, this one was too well dressed, that was was too poor easily. Time and time again, her mind quickly rejected targets for a heist, watching, waiting patiently, hoping to find someone today to sate her curiosity and maybe she could even have another big meal if their pantry was well stocked!
Finally she saw him, a brown furred rabbit. Rabbits weren’t too common, so his long ears certainly stood out, along with those kind looking green eyes. People like that seemed to care about others, an oddity in this city, but it worked for her advantage. Even if she got caught, she could easily whine her way out of it with no trouble, and so, keeping back a bit, she left the station, following the kind eyed rabbit as he moved into the city.
The streets were clean and quiet, illuminated by a soft turqouise glow as magitek hummed in a soft melodic tone powering the lights that cast a shadow on the gleaming white streets paved with grey corner stones. Tall buildings, with glowing lights spelling out big corporations etched the skyline. The name on the side of the tallest building though was Illustratio, the name proudly etched in shifting glowing blues matching the magitek that they helped create to power the city. The whole sector was clean, though a touch empty, it wasn’t a traffic heavy place, just large enough to draw in workers from all over, each at their own manufacturing plants that helped develop the countless technologies that helped modernize the city.
Lights that were free to operate, vehicles that floated off the ground, keeping the streets safe and clean. Cookware that never needed to be cleaned, sanitizing itself as soon as what was cooked had been removed! Magitek was a marvel, a new wave to revolutionize how people would live their lives!
Amidst the lights though, was a young rabbit with tawny brown fur and brilliant, kind green eyes, looking up at the Illustratio building he had just come from. He was of average height, and in his early 20’s. And yet, he was in the best industry someone could hope for. He looked up at the 12th floor window, the one that looked out from the R&D department and let out a satisfied sigh, “Soon, I’ll have a breakthrough that will change everything! I can’t wait!” he says taking a deep breath as he turns and walks towards the terminal station.
It was a quiet day, but like every day he left work, the train quickly filled up, each stop more and more people filled the seats and hung to the handles in the middle. He just stood quietly, politely offering up a seat to an older woman. He knew firmly he was going to make a difference, even if it was in just one life on the train, or to many with the magitek he helped program! One day, the name Maniko would be up in lights...or maybe not, all that mattered to him was that he would make that difference, whether he was acknowledged for it or not!
Maniko’s green eyes watched the sector numbers count down. Sector 5, then 4, 3 and finally 2. When he felt the train come to a halt for the fourth time, he knew he was ready to make his way home. Sure he had to walk through the old city, but it was nice for him to look back and see what was, and know the future was so much brighter. His own green eyes missed the blue ones of the young cat watching him as he made his way through the old city, padding through dust and grime, passing into the residential sector of sector 3. It wasn’t quite so easy to get to the residential area straight in the same sector, and yet the detour through sector 2 wasn’t without its perks. The food stalls near the old factories often sold sweet meats and some of the few farm fresh produce salads one could find in the city. But he knew he wouldn’t need to take this detour for too much longer, in a month, a new rail stop would be placed in, letting the riders exit directly to their homes.
He never even bothered looking over his shoulder, or he may have noticed the teenage cat following him, walking through the streets in tattered clothing grimy from weeks without a chance for a proper bath. She looked so out of place here, but it didn’t matter, she watched as Maniko turned the key in the lock of his home and went inside. She had her target, and now, she just needed to find the best way in!