~Chapter 2~

He sighed, running his hands through his long, dark auburn hair. He stood in the center of his sparse living area (so called because both his bed and what could be considered a living room were situated there) and thought about what he could do until he had to go to work at 7: 45. He sighed again and rubbed the back of his neck while looking up then down. He glanced at his dark blue jeans.

His mother thought he should wear more blue, especially near his face. Brings out his 'beautiful blue eyes', she had once said. He didn't think his eyes were anything special. In fact they were dull. A dull light blue color with specks of brown throughout, making it looking even duller. Like muddy water.

His hands came up to his hair again and he realized it was un-brushed and becoming tangled from drying. He walked to the bathroom which, again, was really only a closet with a shower pod and sink in it, and grabbed the brush lying on the sink. He yanked it through his hair until the tangles were somewhat managed, which was hardly at all. He had inherited his thick, unruly locks from his mother. But where hers were dark, dark brown, he had dark auburn. He still inherited the darkness of her hair but the auburn was from his father.

Once done he went back to the main room and looked around. He usually tried not to think of his living situation, but that talk with his mother made him look now. He had gotten the cheapest living space he could get, which inevitably also meant the smallest and in the worst part of town.

He was in apartment N112, apartment building BN-300, and apartment complex Project B, which was mainly filled with criminals. Mostly petty crimes, like stealing for food or mugging people for money, but still criminals. And his mother would have a fit if she knew where he lived. Everybody knew of Project B through the news. There was always a story about someone being beat up, or someone having their things stolen. Or cars blowing up because a certain neighbor had a fire/ explosive obsession.

So. No telling his mother where he lived.

He glanced at the clock. 5: 43. He'd wasted about fifteen minutes brushing his hair and thinking. He could always go in early; he was one of the few employees at his work as not many people would do this kind of job, which included selling certain… paraphernalia. There were no uniforms, though. Thank God.

So he'd go in early, get some more money. But not much. His job paid well below what minimum wage would be in other places.

He grabbed his watch (the only thing of real value that he owned), ID, and keys and walked out of his apartment, locking the door before he headed down the hall. The apartments were more like pods that were attached to a central hub with little tubes connecting the other pods to each other. These tubes ran around the outside of the pod apartments, making a ring around them. There were fifteen of these rings, with twenty pods on each floor. His apartment was on the seventh floor. Along one side of the apartment building were two long vertical shafts. These were the elevators.

He made his way around the circling hallway towards the elevators. He passed the room three doors down from him, smelling and seeing smoke. He didn't think much of it, as this was a normal occurrence. He just kept going and made it to the elevators. He pushed the down arrow and waited. Keiyla and Rob came to stand beside him.

Rob was a husky/ greyhound mix, from what he could guess by looking. He didn't really talk to his neighbor, Keiyla, much, so he didn't know. And there was a reason he didn't talk to her. She was weird. Just weird. For one thing, Keiyla? Why couldn't she just spell it like normal people? And another, she did not wear any kind of matching clothing, her hair was always matted but clean-smelling (why couldn't she spend some extra time brushing it?), and one time he'd seen her groceries after she had come home from shopping. It still made him shudder to this day. She was just weird and always looked right into people's eyes when talking to them. It made him uncomfortable.

Oh, and the small fact that he could hear her and her husband's nightly activities. Every night. Even though their pods were separated by air. He glanced surreptitiously at her while waiting for the elevator every now and then. He squinted at his watch, then peeked at her again, only to find her staring straight at him. She smiled at him; somewhat knowingly it seemed, to him.

"Well, I'm finally pregnant."

He just about choked on his own spit, but managed to hide it in time and put on a calm face, "Congratulations," he managed to get out. Maybe that would stop the...noise at night.

"Thank you. We're hoping for twins. We want a big family," she said, while stroking Rob's furry head.

"Uh...well, the more the merrier," he mumbled.

"Yes, both my husband and my families are large. We want lots of kids running around at the holidays and such," she sighed out happily, while looking down at her stomach, "I just can't wait until they come out."

At that time, (thankfully) the elevator had finally come up.

"Well, I'll see ya later, neighbor," she said waving. Then she walked down the hall to the snack machine. 'She just wanted to tell me about her being pregnant. And make sure I knew that she knew that I could hear her at night,' he thought darkly, staring daggers into her turned back, 'That bitch!'

He walked into the elevator with a scowl on his face. He mashed his finger down on the ground floor button and waited. The elevator whooshed down, making his stomach flop, and he was on the first floor. He quickly walked across the lobby and outside. He deeply breathed in the outside air.

And immediately started coughing. This area of the city was not well-known for its air quality. Or lack thereof. Project A, B and F (nobody knows why the letters suddenly skipped to that) were very close to the industrial part of the city, where the factories processed coal, natural gases, and other such things. There were no other smog-emitting factories, as that type of factory had long been banned since the 2000s, which was well over a thousand years ago. Civilization had advanced much since that time, mostly because scientists had finally figured out how to make it past their own galaxy, and now they had contact with alien races.

Their technology was integrated within their own and now cities could run with almost no risk to the environment, accept for those few that tried to bring the old ways back. Like the factories near his apartment complex, which were on their way to being shut down, after numerous warnings by the city to adjust their factories to modern regulations.
Now everything was run on more natural ways of energy, with less risk to the environment. Someone (probably one of the aliens) had figured out how to harness the power of lightning.

One bolt could supply enough power for 150,000,000, or more, of the old time light bulbs. The ancient peoples had tried to harness lightning energy but had been unsuccessful. They could not figure a power infrastructure that would withstand massive amounts of energy in quick bouts, as when lightning strikes, and they had had trouble with coming up with a way to store the large amounts of energy.

They had tried all this and failed, interrupting the environment in the meantime. They had taken too much lightning from one area when they had gotten it to work, they had repeatedly used it, lest it should stop working and they lose power. This had happened too often in several places and then there had been the Burn Out. Scientists had figured out how to induce lightning storms (in order to harvest the lightning bolts) much better than they had in the early 2100s.

A massive lightning storm had come after scientists had played nature one time too often. It had fried the power grid and all power plants had gone out, with irreparable damages. This incident was dubbed the 'Burn Out' and it had brought attention to the degrading environment. The power plants had taken too much of the lightning, against the environmentalists' warnings, and had ruined the nitrogen cycle in the environment.

It had ruined the soil.

Plants hardly grew, they could not use the nitrogen in the soil in order to combine with sunlight energy and power photosynthesis; the lightning had been the thing to make it usable. And the power plants had depleted that for too long in their want for cheap energy.

Trees began to die, cutting down the oxygen in the area. Flowers withered, bringing no fruit to the plants. Pollinating animals, like bees began to die or leave the area, leaving no honey. The dying of the corn and wheat crop had been the thing to tip Congress into setting into motion a new law, which prohibited the use of lightning-harnessing power plants until better technology could be used to store and control it. The better technology didn't come until much later. An alien immigrant by the name of Alisop Muchter invented a new system in which to harness energy and store it safely.

He had invented it in 2787 using materials from his home world, and had built a small reactor-type power plant that would store the power gathered from lightning in a battery-like compartment. This system, dubbed the 'Muchter System', was still being used today. It had been added to and made more efficient, but the concept and basic structure were the same. The guy who invented it had done it, as he figured ways to make it better. And he was still alive today, almost three hundred years later.

Stupid aliens and their stupid longevity.

Wait a minute. He paused in horror as a thought crossed his mind. His mom had said something about dating an alien when she was 'experimenting' after he had left the house. Or however many she dated. She had done a lot of experimenting. But what if she had married one of those 'experiments' and now she wanted to meet him and that's why she keeps calling?

He was /no/t going to go meet this ass, and he was /no/t going to obey him, like his mother probably wanted him to. He was not his father, and even if he was he wouldn't listen to him. His real father was a bastard.

He blinked as he realized his thinking had led him astray from the direction towards his work. He looked around for the street name. ABF Street. He needed to be a couple streets over, on Jeece Street. He kept walking in the direction he was going. He would just turn right and go until he came to that street.

He was just coming up on his street when he heard scuffling. He sighed. Trust him to find trouble. He was going to just go past it, but then he heard a female voice screaming.

Well it's a good thing he had been woken up earlier than normal.