Allen was eager to get back to his apartment and try out a mecha configuration set he recently got, so he promptly gathered the snacks and drinks he wanted from the store. He then paid the cashier with a ten dollar bill. This store was a decent distance from where he stayed and it was late at night but he had no ready-to-eat food at home and he did not know how to cook. There was no way he was staying up all night working on a new mecha figure on an empty stomach, so he had braved the trip outside.
As he walked out of the convenience store, Allen blinked his tired eyes twice as he noticed something out of his peripheral vision and looked up.
'Huh.', Allen uttered to himself in his mind.
In the skies above, it seemed like numerous shooting stars were streaking across, but that was not what stood out most to Allen as he observed them through obscuring trees.
'Those stars...it's like they're coming from the Earth."
He started out in a brisk jog that turned into an all-out sprint as he raced to get a better view. Allen was only mildly curious at first, but it gradually began to feel more and more like something amazing was happening in his mundane life. He was not going to miss out on having front-row seats to it. He paid no mind to the cell phone in his pocket that began to buzz violently while doing so. When he eventually reached an open field at the edge between the town and the countryside. He could finally get a full view of the strange astronomical event that was occurring right in front of his eyes.
By this point, the entire night sky was illuminated with lights and shone as bright as day. In every single direction around Allen on the horizon, new lights were springing forth from the ground and intersecting with each other. The most spectacular sight came in the form of a colossal eight-pointed diamond that dwarfed his entire town in size by a massive margin. The instant it appeared all the streaking lights began to converge into its form before it dispersed into nothing but dazzling stardust just as soon as it had appeared.
Allen was not sure how long he had been standing there, whether it had been a few minutes or a few hours. It had only felt like a few moments but he knew it had to have been much longer since his body was freezing cold and was shivering in the chill spring night air.
Allen gasped as he finally noticed the phone buzzing in his pocket before he took it out and answered it with, "Hello, what in the world is going on?"
Around a month later, in the light of the early summer morning sun, Allen was running at a rapid pace through the streets of Atelier City. Following close behind him were a group of seven burly guys wearing similar sportswear, but Allen was not going to let them catch up to him.
He continued maneuvering around alleyways and dodging around corners. Traditional architecture reminiscent of famous cities such as Paris and Venice as well as more modern buildings could be found here making it a somewhat difficult place to navigate. It was only thanks to him having explored this part of this city on numerous runs that he was able to find his way through this network of intricate twists and turns despite being a newcomer to Atelier City.
"Hey! Don't think you can outrun us!" "We're going to catch up to you for sure!"
Allen ignored their calls from behind and continued running forward, hoping they would eventually tire out and give up their pursuit. Hopefully, sooner rather than later. He was starting to lose wind and was not going to be able to keep this pace up.
'Geez, why do these guys have to be so persistent? This is outrageous!'
After several more minutes and running across a bridge over one of the many canals that were spread out across the city, Allen finally gave up. His legs began to feel like they were being bound by iron strings with each step he took forward. His sweatshirt was drenched so much it looked like he had just gotten out of a downpour of rain
He had come to a stop and caught his breath while he looked behind him to see that his pursuers were doing the same quite a distance behind him with some of them faring even worse. They were lying flat on the ground totally exhausted. After gathering some of his composure again, Allen opened his mouth up to speak.
"Well, I guess this is as far as I..."
He was interrupted mid-sentence by a voice from up above and looked up along with the others to see what was its source.
The shout had come from a young woman who looked to be Allen's age which was eighteen years old. The young woman vibrantly stood out to Allen. She had a mixture of black and white hair and was wearing a tracksuit with vivid purple lines on it. Similarly, her eyes were a deep shade of violet that seemed to glow with a shine of its own in the early morning light. As she glowered down on them with those eyes, hanging from her ears were a pair of earbuds attached by wire to an MP3 player at her hip. She also had a black satchel hanging from her shoulders.
She promptly descended from the rooftops between Allen and his pursuers.
"What do you guys think you're doing chasing after someone trying to beat them up? You should stop right now or you’re going to get thrashed by me instead." She raised a fist up at them to emphasize her point as they all looked on bewildered.
One of the sportswear uniform wearing guys who appeared to be the leader of the group stood up straight and responded, "Uhh...we aren't running after him. We made a bet to see if he could outrun us."
"What? You can't be serious..."
An expression of suppressed disbelief showed on her face as she turned to Allen in question who sheepishly nodded his head in reply.
"Yeah, we bumped into each other in our morning runs and he dropped his phone in the process, then we made a bet that if I could outrun all of them I wouldn't have to pay for the phone damage.", Allen continued.
This was the truth for the most part but Allen left out how the leader of the delinquents had actually ran into him since he was not paying attention and how the bet was simply made so they could have fun seeing him struggle to try to outrun them.
'I'd rather not look like a total wimp in front of this girl.'
"Oh, I see. Well, sorry for the misunderstanding then.", she chuckled anxiously after turning back to face the others. She then began ruffling in the satchel she had until she pulled out a sheet of coupons and pushed it into Allen’s chest
Before any one of them had any time to say anything, she ran at a breakneck pace out of the alley and out of sight.
Their mouths were all left gaping wide at the bizarre encounter for a few moments wondering if what had just happened had actually happened. However, after a few moments had passed, the leader of the delinquents regained his composure and walked up to Allen.
"Alright, you won our bet but you better be careful next time or we won't be as civil."
"He was actually serious about that?"
He walked up beside Allen and firmly put a hand on his shoulder. Allen gritted his teeth and clenched his fist struggling to control his anger. He did not want to start another pointless fight here only to get beat up by the whole group of them.
A self-pleased grin emerged on the delinquent boss's face as he saw no sign of retaliation at his open threat towards Allen.
"That's what I thought. Be a lot more careful next time. Not everyone in this town is as nice as me."
He took his hand off of his shoulder and walked past Allen and out of the alley. The rest of his posse followed behind until only Allen was left there. He breathed a sigh of relief.
As he was about to walk away himself, a ray of light flashed into his eyes from the ground causing him to blink. He looked down searching for where it came from and spotted an odd trinket lying down on the ground. He picked it up and observed it. It was metallic and looked like some sort of strange symbol that he did not recognize. He realized that it had it been lying at the spot exactly where the weird girl had descended to.
"She must have dropped this while she was rustling through her bag. I guess I could return this since she did try to help me out and gave me these coupons." He looked down on the sheet of mediocre deals.
"Pizzeria Palace huh, I guess I'll go there after I get done with my job then.", he pocketed the odd trinket and headed back to the place he currently called home in an attempt to get some extra rest.
An alarm blared in Allen Lee's ears as his brown eyes burst open and he shot up from his bed. He quickly tapped a button on the holographic projection of his Zero Screen phone beside him to turn his alarm off and picked up the small metallic rectangular prism to check the time.
"I barely feel like I got any rest at all."
He did not get out much and ate mediocre quality food, so he tried to compensate for this by regularly going on runs in the morning. However, he had not been expecting to go on an all-out sprint today.
Allen had about 30 minutes to get out the door if he was going to make it to his job on time. Allen got up from the floor and brushed his fingers through his black hair while scratching his head then stretched his arms, torso, and legs feeling all his old sores resonate through his entire body. Some of them stood out even on his brown skin.
He proceeded to fully get out of bed and get prepared for the rest of the day. Once he was done, he checked his Status, something that all Atelier City residents could observe through their devices. Allen liked how similar it was to a video game even through looking at it usually frustrated him. This was a ranking of their physical abilities, technique in different artistic endeavors, and notable accomplishments they made. The Merit of zero on the status showed Allen once again he had made no progress and accomplishing anything significant.
Name: Allen Lee
Title: Art Novice
Physical Ability: 7
It did not take him long to glance it over and he was soon out the door of his apartment. As Allen walked the 15 minutes it took to get to his job, he took in all the things that were all around him. Even though he had been in Atelier City for almost a month now, he was still amazed by the sights and sounds that were so different from his small hometown.
Overhead, flying drones whizzed about delivering food and other goods around the city and holographic signs hovered in front of stores. Passing by him, horseless carriages zoomed down the street along with people on Auto Bikes who were barely paying attention to the road as they poured over their Zero Screen slates with both hands.
"Man, Atelier City really is filled with super-advanced technology everywhere." Allen mused, "Even though it has its fair share of punks too, it's still a hell of a lot better than my hometown."
As he walked past a construction site, he stopped when he noticed that despite all the materials present such as large blocks of metal, wood, and concrete there was no machinery as well as no crew aside from one lone figure who didn't have the typical appearance of what you would expect a construction worker to have. He was wearing a black and yellow suit on a large metallic platform connected to a larger platform where all of the materials were on. In front of him, on the platform, was a miniature holographic model for a building.
The man in the suit then outstretched his hand and a holographic interface appeared. He pressed a few buttons on it and the platform the materials were on began to glow brightly. The blocks of metal, wood, and concrete became covered in light then started to mold and reshape into the form of a building. As the structure extended into the air, the more similar the structure became to the design of the holographic model. When the construction was done and the light had faded from the newly made three-story building, it was a mirror image of the projected blueprint in front of the man in the yellow and black suit.
Overall, the entire construction had taken only ten minutes and Allen had watched the whole process play out. Allen brought out a small notebook from his pocket and drew up a quick sketch of the four-story building. When he was finished with it, he looked over the piece in dissatisfaction.
‘As expected, I’m still terrible at sketches. I hate drawing.’
Suddenly, he looked at his phone and realized he was a few minutes away from being late for his job.
'Crap, I better hurry if I'm going to make it on time.'
He broke out in a brisk jog down the sidewalk.
He stopped in front of a small store and looked at its antique neon sign, Coffee & Chronicles. In the display window, there were popular books of all different kinds and a strong and fragrant coffee smell wafted from the edges of the door.
Allen breathed a sigh of relief. "On time, with a whole minute and sixteen seconds to spare."
After this brief moment, he walked into the shop and began his day at work. Coffee & Chronicles was both a cafe and a bookstore and the building was evenly split between two sides with each one having its own counter. On one side, was the coffee and tables while the other had the bookshelves.
"Morning Allen, you're a little later than usual, anything happen on the way here?"
Allen was greeted cheerfully by a young woman with dirty blonde hair and light gray eyes who was wearing the same uniform that he was. She was standing behind the coffee counter in the back of the room.
'Well, not anything that unusual happened just now.'
Allen decided to keep the events of earlier this morning to himself for the moment.
Hearing the sound of the store's doorbell, Allen looked up from his counter to see who had entered the store.
"Hey Charlotte, how's your morning going?"
"It's going well, thank you."
Charlotte was a regular of Coffee & Chronicles, buying a new book every other week or so. She and Allen had gotten along pretty well since he started working there. She had dark black long hair and deep blue eyes and was wearing a bais shirt, jacket, and skirt.
"Already finished the Quest of Loriel Silenda? How was it?", Allen questioned.
"It was great! Thanks for the recommendation. The final battle between the House of Hypogriffs and the House of Sphinxes was super riveting to read. It kind of made me wish the series had another book to it, but the end was closed so neatly that I can't imagine what another addition could be about."
As Allen listened to her, he couldn't help but think to himself, "Wow, I still can't believe a girl as nice as her is as much of a book nerd as I am. Can't judge a book by their cover I guess. Man, that was a lame pun."
"So anything you're looking for in particular today?"
"Yes, could you get me Jack and the Bean Stalker?"
"Huh?" Allen was surprised by her request.