Chapter 108: Completing Errands 

Arron stood inside a small dark safe room that was full of the latest sound-blocking technology from the Office of Reasons research lab. This small room was picked as the covert base of operations for the three during the duration of this mission and would be in operation as long as it was not discovered. 

Arron was currently typing up a final report and adding all the photos and film he had gathered from the first two days of the test after this report it would be near impossible to make such a detailed report or even contact Kix or A.S. from the inside the Ryu family’s own building with all the monitoring gadgets they had. Although they may not be able to intercept and decrypt the data they would still be able to detect the flow of data being transferred.

Even if he was followed to this place he had no fear of being discovered due to the room as well as the building’s disguise. There was also the fact that he was the only one here at the moment. It would not do him any good to have an Office of Reason agent show up right now if there was indeed someone following him.

When he finished sending the report through the secure connection he let out a discontent sigh. A.S. had not shown up to any of their meetings at the operations base since their first meeting he always claimed he was doing something more important and so he could not monitor them all the time or provide support.

Ping! His NerViz notified him that an incoming call was waiting for him to pick up. Arron knew who it was without looking and accepted the call.

“What am I supposed to do with the credits I receive from the Ryu family or the credits I need to pay for things while on the job?” asked Arron looking at A.S.’s holographic head that popped up in front of him.

“Any credits gained as payment from the yakuza will be confiscated by Mother and Father after the mission is completed. You are not allowed to use 1 credit from these payments which will all be monitored and counted daily. These funds will be used for more important stuff later. As for the credits you need while on the job… for now, you will have to figure out how to pay for it yourself. If you spend your own credits, you will be reimbursed with the amount you spent while on the job, but this does not include the taxes which Mother and Father will keep.”

“This all happened so quickly so I never got to ask you directly but is the Office of Reason going to pay me for this undercover mission? If not then won’t I be losing money due to a large chunk of it being lost to taxes?”

“Watch your tone. You sound like a separatist complaining about Mother and Fathers’ reasonable regulations and taxes. As I said already, your payment for this mission will be the reimbursement of the money you spend. If you are thinking of receiving anything else, stop dreaming. You’re lucky that the Office of Reason is generous enough to repay you.”

The call ended there causing Arron to furrow his brows unhappy with the conversation. Things seemed to be getting worse and worse for him the deeper he got into this mess.

Arron crouched down and crawled through the small door in the wall and ended up in a rundown studio apartment.

He stood back up and dusted the dirt and grime off of his clothes before tapping a few options on a holographic menu on the wall that had been hidden underneath a metal plaque.

The solid para-steel bed slid back into place hiding and blocking the hidden door.

“Time to get on with the other tasks,” said Arron as he stepped out of the rundown apartment and locked it up. 

Despite the apartment’s shabby look, it was jam-packed with several of the newest defense systems courtesy of the Office of Reason’s research department. Of course, they were all prototypes so there was no telling if they would actually work. He was again acting as a guinea pig for them.

Arron tapped on a few menus of his wrist-datapad and brought up the first address he had been given and began following the nav-guide’s instructions. 

After a half hour of walking through the many backstreets, he finally arrived at his destination, a well-lit backstreet shop that had a large holographic sign above the door [Harrie’s Cuts].

Arron did not hesitate and pushed the door open entering a shiny clean room that seemed extra bright due to the white tiles on both the floor and walls which gave him uncomfortable flashbacks to the Office of Reason interrogation room.

“Huh,” said Arron. He really had been expecting the standard Robotic haircutters to be crammed into the barbershop but found nothing of the sort. There were only muscular humans standing near each of the half-dozen empty chairs. Two of the shop’s chairs were currently occupied by equally muscular men who were getting shaves and haircuts.

Each of the muscular men had the same haircut and were all sharply dressed in black dress pants, a stylish white t-shirt, and a black vest with a leather apron tied around their waist. Attached to each of their leather aprons were many loops and pockets for different-sized scissors, razors, combs, and tweezers.

Arron walked up to a counter where a sharply dressed man with a pair of small square glasses was working on some paperwork. He looked up when Arron presented his temporary identification.

“You’re Sorry?” asked the man as he looked between the temporary identification and Arron’s face.

“Yes.”

“Well I’m not,” said the man with a large smile at his own joke.

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This was the third time Arron had heard such a joke and he had a feeling it was not going to be the last time.

“Harry #2 you take care of Sorry,” said Mr. Glasses as he waved for one of the sharply dressed barber’s attention.

Arron’s shoulder was grabbed by Harry #2 and was dragged over to an empty hover reclining chair and shoved down onto it. In the chair next to him was one of the other probationary members that he had seen earlier in the day. They had both picked the same time to get this task done.

Harry #2 looked at Arron’s face and head for several seconds deciding on how to tackle the mission put in front of him.

“Your hair is out of regulations and is unable to be cut to the proper standard. I’ll have to cut it all off and you can grow It back while we keep it in check with weekly checkups,” said Harry #2 as he grabbed a small electric clipper from the nearby counter.

Arron was cursing inside, he did not want to be bald! 

He did not have a choice as the clippers quickly buzzed off all of the remaining newly regenerated hair on his head.

Harry #2 was quick and efficient with the clippers and put them back onto the counter and picked up a small handheld vacuum to suck up all the loose hair before turning back to look at Arron’s face to inspect it in more detail.

Arron started to sweat as this was getting too close for comfort! He nearly lost it when Harry #2 used his hands to feel the synthetic hair that had grown out of the mask’s synthetic skin. It was another prototype that the Office of Reasons research lab had high hopes for. If all went well with the current test they could use it in a future main project that was still only in the planning stages.

“Your skin and facial hair are quite stiff… have you had any medical procedures done lately?” asked Harry #2 calmly.

Arron’s mind was whirring trying to think up an excuse to cover the fact that he was wearing a mask. He knew this conversation could and probably was being recorded but his brain was shorting out and he could only blurt out the first thing that came to mind.

“I was caught in an attack by a rival gang where my face was severely burned. My father spent a large sum of credits to repair the damage done to my face. Otherwise, you would be looking at a very ugly burnt and scarred face,” said Arron in a calm voice.

Harry #2 grimaced as he listened, “That explains it all. I’ve seen many people with such burns. It is surprisingly not at all uncommon in our line of work. Must have been painful.”

“I still have nightmares about it…” said Arron truthfully, his face turning dark as he remembered the fire engulfing his entire body as it ate away at his skin.

Harry #2 didn’t say anything more and began lathering up Arron’s face before grabbing an extra sharp razor and slicing through all of the synthetic hair giving him a clean cut. The synthetic skin held up surprisingly well against the sharp blade and did not tear or reveal the mask he was wearing.

“You’re all finished for now,” said Harry #2 patting Arron on the shoulder.

Arron stood up and walked over to the counter ready to pay for the cut and shave.

“No need for that, the cost has already been taken out of your future paycheck. The Ryu family expects you to keep yourself presentable so you are to come here every week for a checkup. You do not have to worry about paying as it will automatically be taken out of your salary so don’t be shy and come back often,” said Mr. Glasses, waving Arron’s hand away.

With his task done here, Arron left the shop and headed for the next destination, a men’s suit shop.

The interior of the suit shop was made out of similar white tiles and had only a few old sharply dressed men inside. The walls of the shop were full of finished suits that all looked amazing.

Upon seeing Arron’s temporary identification the old men nodded and one of them left the counter to inspect Arron, while the other old man focused on his current task of manually sewing a delicate part of an expensive suit.

“Hmm… your clothes will just not do at all. We can not have you looking shabby and unpresentable if you are to be joining the family,” said the old man, as he whipped out a cloth measuring tape from a hidden pocket and began to manually measure Arron’s body, not using any robots or scanners for the task.

When he was finished with the measurements he wrote them down on his datapad and walked to the counter that had several stacks of cloth samples that all looked the same to Arron.

“Come over here,” ordered the old man.

Arron stepped in front of the counter and stood still while the old man spent over ten minutes trying to decide between the different cloth samples as he placed different ones on Arron’s body before stepping back and looking at it for a moment from different angles.

The old man nodded his head when he finally decided on the set of cloth to use in his suit.

“You will receive the first full suit set in a few days and the second full set in no more than two weeks. Each set includes a jacket, pants, and a matching white undershirt,” said the old man as he wrote down a few more notes on his clunky datapad.

Hearing all of this Arron was dreading the cost since he had seen the price tag on the expensive cloth samples. 

Just for one suit, the cost was more than all of the clothes he had ever owned. He was afraid this mission was going to cause him to go into major debt!

“You don’t need to worry about the payment right now as it will all be paid for by your future salary!” said the old man seeing Arron’s expression.

“Of course…” said Arron. He now knew he would not be getting any paycheck from the Ryu family for a long time as the costs of everything he had to pay for in the future were ramping up and he still had two more places to go!

“Take this to old Shu at the shoe shop so he knows what material to use to match your suit,” said the old man, flicking a business card that had all the details of his new suit set.

The old man waved goodbye to Arron as he left the shop and walked to the custom shoe shop that was right next to the suit shop.

When old Shu saw Arron’s shoes he let out a loud huff as if he was offended at the old and worn-out shoes he was wearing.

“Yes you definitely need a good pair of shoes to replace those trash mass-produced shoes,” said old Shu. “Come over here and take off those shoes so I can get your measurements.”

Upon seeing Arron’s socks which had holes in the soles and a few toes poking out he was even more offended. It was as if Arron had killed his dog, even though Arron had never killed a dog before, that was the Office of Reasons hobby.

Old Shu used a touch stylus to trace Arron’s foot measurements, one while he was sitting and one standing. The platform sent the traced image to a holo-datapad next to old Shu. It also gathered the pressure areas of his feet while he was standing to give Old Shu a better understanding of the type of posture Arron had.

“In the next few days, I will send you your first set of new shoes with a pair of custom matching socks. Your second set will be 2 two three weeks depending on how much work I have,” said old Shu as he scribbled down a few notes.

“It is truly a crime to be wearing mismatching socks,” Muttered Old Shu.

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Arron felt that comment was directly aimed at him. He did not even bother offering to pay as he knew it was already going to be taken out of his nonexistent future salary.

The last stop that he needed to go to so he could complete the tasks that the Old man had given them was a custom wrist-datapad shop. 

He was in and out quickly as there wasn’t much to it, he just needed to get an approved custom version from a shop run by the Ryu family. 

It was the most basic version you could find. There was not much you could do with it and it was definitely programmed to allow the Ryu family to monitor his activities while he used the wrist-datapad which included tracking which files if any he accesses.

Arron was not unfamiliar with this type of wrist-datapad since it was similar to what he had used in the military, the only difference was with this version he was still able to be connected to the news portal and holo-net.

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