‘I can’t believe you took the job, Michael.’ He heard his friend say as they navigated the commercialized sprawl of the Liberty Rise Mall. ‘Bank clerk to night watchman? That’s gotta be some pay drop.’
‘It’s not that bad, Pierre.’ Michael waved dismissively with his floor plan of the mall. ‘Benefits are good, and you know I hated that job, the change will do me good.’
‘If you say so, Mike… just hope you know what you’re doing.’ Pierre sighed. ‘What place are we looking for, anyway?’ He added, glancing around the row of body shops. There was a Muscletek, a Neuro+, a rather large and busy Face Value store, and even a Shaped By Science. A tall waif of a woman tottered out of that one, her shape rather glamourzine in proportions.
‘Optimex. That was another advantage, free augment upgrades if you don’t match specs.’ Michael explained, rotating the map around in his hands. ‘Of course, they tie you into a work contract for that, but I’ve been meaning to get some better ones, and it works out cheaper this way.’
‘I guess. I wouldn’t do that, but that’s just me.’ His friend replied, subconsciously flexing his servomotor-powered wrists. They had been a medical prosthesis, with after-market upgrades to the hands for faster and more accurate typing, plus a HMI port for user verification and data transfer.
‘You should think on it… aah, here it is.’ He started over towards an offshoot of the area. ‘Get that old thing of yours upgraded to a DeskStar Pro 7, or hell, see if Tennermon, Rushell and Hobb will spring for a ProSec h459.’ Pierre whistled at the mention of that last one. ProSec were the top non-military company when it came to cybernetic hands, used in industry and sport alike.
‘I’ll admit, a pair of h495’s would tempt me…’ He said as they stepped into Optimex. The store was done out in a range of soft, summery pastel colours, with comfortable chairs and display stands showing off various optical implants and demonstration screens. Past the wide-band filter running over the doorway, RFID tags and storecast WiFi started to bombard their HUDs with information. Offers of adverts, rudimentary compatability checks and pricing schemes were but a concentration-click away.
‘Hi, I’m Casey, and welcome to Optimex, home of the most popular optical enhancements on the planet!’ A cheery-faced store girl said as she approached, hair tied back and blouse/trouser uniform pristine. Michael thought the glasses she wore, considering the place she worked in, were likely an affectation. Only those with contraindications to augmentations, the very poor, or the anti-aug rejecters tended to wear them for medical reasons nowadays.
‘Hi, I’m Michael, I’ve got a form?’ He offered the folded sheet of paper his new boss had printed for him out to her. The fact she just gazed at the infostamp on the bottom of the form verified those half-frame glasses were just for show.
‘Alright Michael, we can get this done in store today in under thirty minutes, if you’d like to head on through to see our Optineticist?’ She gestured towards the doorway at the back of the store, a ‘Operating Rooms’ sign hanging above it.
‘Only thirty minutes?’ Michael blinked.
‘Oh yes, you’re listed as having Salford Optinomics Crystal5 optical augmentations, these come with upgrade pathways pre-installed around the eye, so we can easily fit the new hardware. Then we just have to upgrade the firmware and calibrate and you can go.’
‘Never knew that, well, that makes things easier.’ Michael smiled.
‘And what about you, Sir? How can we improve your vision today?’ She asked of Pierre.
‘Oh, nothing for me, I was just accompanying Michael here… speaking of, got to collect the wife soon from work… chat to you on Sunday? Karl’s birthday barbecue in Centenary Park?’
‘Got it on my calender app, see you!’ He waved, before smiling to Casey. ‘So…’
Casey smiled brightly. ‘Lets get you upgraded!’
Sitting in his bedroom back at Bloom Heights Apartment Complex, Michael gazed out of the window testing the upgrades he’d received. Normal vision mode, low-light, ultraviolet, thermal imaging, he’d even gotten sound vision overlay added on the company’s suggestion. Dropping a coin behind him resulted in a little blip in the area designated ‘Rear Sensors’ on the HUD. The front of his apartment looked over the communal gardens and walkways that ran around the centre of the apartment complex. The rear view from the bedroom thankfully had a bit more open land between it and the next complex.
Eyes zooming in and panning across the carefully tended garden area and car park, they started scanning up the side of the building before fixing on a window. A little concentration-driven click enabled thermal imaging mode again. A smile crossed his face as he saw the form of a woman stepping out of her en-suite, heat radiating from the shower cubical. With something to watch found, he began to test the vision modes in earnest.
Michael thought of all those late night shifts that he’d have to do, watching over a factory building, before dismissing it from his mind as he drank in the view.
‘So worth it.’