Carpathia III: Episode 24 - Strange City


Unknown City, River

After thirty minutes passed, Phobos and Deimos arrived back under the bridge where Adell and Artemis were drying their clothes. Fortunately, Phobos and Deimos never sensed anyone coming and Adell and Artemis were able to enjoy their time together entirely free of distractions and interruptions.

After they washed their clothes, however, they had a new problem. They had no way to dry them quickly and it was too risky to make a fire. Adell was very happy when Artemis revealed that Deimos was equipped with a heat gun and she was able to speed up the drying process considerably. Once their clothes were dry and they re-dressed, they started walking up the road to the top of the hill.

Adell: You okay to walk? We can rest a little more if you need it.

Artemis: What? No! Don't even think I can't handle you!

Artemis tuned away and, with all the confidence he could muster, limped up the hill. Adell watched for a few moments in amusement and quietly snickered to himself before following. At the top of the hill they had a choice to turn either left or right. It was an easy decision as they appeared to be on the edge of town. One direction had nothing and they could see buildings in the other. They began walking in the direction of the buildings.

Lights were on in some of the houses and buildings they passed, but there were no people on the street nor any vehicles, contributing to an ominous atmosphere.

Adell: You don't suppose there's a curfew?

Artemis: Or these people just tend to go to bed early.

Artemis looked down at the road and the sidewalk. The road was gleaming black as before and the sidewalk was immaculate. There wasn't a speck of trash anywhere and it even appeared that even the dirt was regularly swept away.

Artemis: There's such a thing as too clean though. Either the culture here is ridiculously fastidious...

Artemis's voice trailed off for a moment.

Adell: Or?

Artemis: It's not unusual for a despotic ruler to demand perfection. We may be seeing evidence of that now.

Adell: We should be careful then.

They continued walking down the street, passing several neighborhoods. After a short time, they rounded a corner and the mountain sloped away to level ground, revealing more of the city.

Adell: It would be nice if we could find a hotel or something. I'm getting sleepy.

Artemis: Not that we could pay for it. Unless there are materials in these coins that the old man gave us that are rare here, I think they're probably worthless.

Adell: You asked Phobos to study them, right?

Artemis: I did. Nothing special, from our point of view. Copper, zinc, nickel, that sort of thing. A few of them have a lot of silver in them, which could be worth something.

Adell: I hope so. I can't imagine what else we could do. We don't have anything really valuable. Even if we did sell your computer, it's not like they'd have any idea what to do with it.

Artemis: I couldn't sell that anyway. I need it to keep Phobos and Deimos running properly.

The lights of the city grew closer and closer as they walked and soon they arrived at a crossroads.

Adell noticed what appeared to be a bus stop that backed into a small building. Behind it appeared to be a secluded place since there was a tree there and a mountain blocking the view from prying eyes.

Adell: We could take a nap there. It looks isolated enough.

Artemis: I don't see anything better. Phobos, Deimos, could you to keep watch while we take a nap?

Phobos: No problem, Dad.

Deimos: We're on it.

Both Artemis and Adell took a quick look around. The streets were still as desolate as they were before and they quickly ducked behind the bus stop and small building. Adell sat on the ground with is back against the wall of the building. Artemis took off his backpack and sat next to him. To Adell's surprise, Artemis said nothing and simply lay his head down on Adell's lap. Adell draped his arm across Artemis's chest and leaned back. Soon, both were asleep.


A few hours later

Adell was the first to wake. At first, he was aware of noises, but hovering between dream and consciousness, he wasn't aware of what they were. Gradually he understood them to be sounds that he hadn't heard in a long time. They were the sounds of people and traffic. Slowly, he opened his eyes. The sun was up and the air was already starting to become uncomfortably warm. Artemis was still sleeping in his lap. He shook him gently.

Adell: Artemis.

Artemis: Mmm... dammit, I told you, they're not dolls. They're androids!

Artemis nuzzled deeper into Adell's lap and drooled.

Adell: Artemis, wake up!

Slowly, Artemis began to open his eyes sleepily.

Artemis: Wuh? Oh, we're still here, aren't we?

Artemis sat up and looked around.

Artemis: I feel like I just fell asleep two minutes ago.

Adell: We should go quickly before someone finds us.

Artemis and Adell quickly stood up as Phobos and Deimos rejoined them. They picked up their bags and peered hesitantly from behind the building. The city was now bustling, with archaic cars and buses trundling down the street and several people walking along the sidewalks. They waited for a small lull in the traffic so that they could emerge from behind the building without being noticed. Quickly, they sprinted towards the sidewalk and did their best to blend in.

Blending in wasn't difficult, considering that the population was shockingly varied. They were surprised to see many different species out and about. There were several they recognized, such nekomi and humans, and several they did not. All of them were immaculately dressed as though they were all returning from a religious service. Most surprisingly, from what they could tell, it seemed that everyone was speaking English. A few people stared, but most took little heed of them as they continued down the street.

After a short time, they came across a large market that seemed to take up a whole block.

Artemis: This might be a good place to get supplies. At least we can eavesdrop on the people and see if we can get some information.

They crossed the street and headed into the marketplace, which was bustling with activity. Most of the stalls seemed to be selling fruits and vegetables of some kind, while a few others sold various trinkets. They wandered around for a little while, but the conversations they were able to pick up on were mostly banal. Most chattered on about trivial gossip and said nothing of either interest or import.

Adell: Maybe we should try one of the indoor shops first. If something happens, it might be best if it's not in front of a lot of people.

Artemis: I'll go along with that.

They began to head for a large shop in the corner of the block. As they headed towards it, they passed a large signboard. It was covered with layers and layers of flyers, all haphazardly pinned on top of one another. Adell stopped to look.

Artemis: What are you looking for?

Adell: Odd jobs, I guess? Might be the only way we're going to get by here.

Artemis joined him in perusing the notice board. There were many flyers for missing pets, notices announcing this or that event, and dates of future special marketplace sales, but no jobs. Dejected, they turned away from the signboard and headed once again for the large shop on the corner.

As they walked away, a stiff breeze blew and, unbeknownst to Adell and Artemis, dislodged several flyers, fully revealing another underneath.


Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover
Thatwildmary

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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