“Next stop, Shadow Street Station.
Doors will open on the left, please mind the gap.
As the soft announcement echoed in the carriage, Tianyang stood at the yellow line near the door.
Stepping off the train as the door slid open.
A cold wind rushed to his cheek, giving him the feels of a deep cave.
On the ground, an aluminum can rolled uncontrollably in the wind before finally coming to a stop next to a garbage bin.
Several homeless wrapped in tattered blankets rummaged through bins, searching for food non-existent food.
Tianyang quickly walked out of the station and onto a wide but disorderly street, namely Shadow Street, it would take him a 40-minute walk to home.
The central and upper districts of the city had trams for transportation, but unfortunately, there were none in the Lowertown district.
Located at the bottom of the city, the streets of the Lowertown district remained dimly lit even on sunny days, giving the illusion of Inverse Universe and was synonymous with chaos and filth, as the fortress housed almost all kinds of factories.
Various industries, computer rooms, unprotected units, and large numbers of transmission pipelines were stacked together with the corrugated iron houses and shacks built by the lower class.
Residents here were treated like parasites of the city, humble and helpless.
The streets were filled with busy pedestrians, most of whom were workers in the myriad of factories.
They worked tirelessly every day, earning contribution points barely enough to cover their daily needs.
Their eyes had lost luster, as they mechanically repeated their dull and monotonous work every day, driven only by instinct.
As Tianyang walked past an alley, he observed it was crowded with homeless.
They were laying or sitting there, and would beg for a job opportunity as people passes.
Most times, such begging went unanswered.
Some children would sometimes chase after people passing by, probably being the most energetic group in the Lowertown district.
Petty thieving was more than common for such kids.
At the entrances of bars, women stood in revealing clothing, trying to survive because they couldn't do heavy physical labor, and lack of education made it impossible for them to work in an office, even as an ordinary clerical worker.
Hence, they chose to sell themselves, but only prospectors with money could afford such extravagant services.
The Volcano Bar was famous for a type of strong liquor called, well, “Volcano.” Tianyang marched there instead, not to drink, though.
His mother Nanfei worked here as a cleaner.
It was one of the few legitimate jobs for women in the Lowertown district, so she cherished it dearly.
Actually, Tianyang knew that she was able to work here because the bar owner, Kaidi, liked her.
That rough, thick-chested man with dense chest hair was once a member of collection team.
But after losing a leg in the Inverse Universe, he retired and used his pension to open a bar in the lower city.
Business was not booming, but better than many others.
What surprised Tianyang was that although Kaidi liked his mother, he never said it out loud.
But whenever his mother was in trouble, he was always willing to help.
Tianyang was able to join the collection team with Kaidi's help, so Tianyang kind of liked that rough guy.
Pushing open the door of the bar, he noticed there weren't many customers in the afternoon, the few that were, scattered in the dim corners.
Cheap alcohol permeated the air.
Tianyang looked around but didn't see her mother.
Instead, he spotted Kaidi biting on a pipe and wiping glasses behind the bar.
“Kaidi, where's my mom?”
Tianyang walked up to the bar and asked directly.
Kaidi raised his thick eyebrows,
“You little brat, I've told you eight hundred times, call me Uncle Kaidi.
Don't be rude, or your mom will beat you.
Hey, why did your hair turn white? What's with the eye patch? Don't tell me you lost an eye after going to the Inverse Universe?”
“It doesn't matter.
The higher-ups have already arranged for me to have an electronic eye surgery.
I'll have it installed in a few days.”
“That's what you say, but seeing you like this, Nanfei would be sad.”
I've prepared a surprise for her this time.
She'll be happy.”
“I hope so.” Kaidi looked towards the direction of the kitchen, and sure enough, the kitchen door opened, and a figure emerged.
“Nanfei is here.
Make some effort yourself.”
Tianyang looked over and saw his mother.
She had tied up her long hair and had a sweaty face.
She was dressed plainly, carrying a garbage bag, indicating she had just finished cleaning the kitchen.
Tianyang was about to go over when suddenly a black-haired hand reached out and grabbed Nanfei.
The muscular man with only a tactical vest on his body grinned,
“Miss, want to have a drink with me?”
Nanfei's face changed, and she replied coldly,
“Please show some respect.
I'm not here to accompany you drinking.
Let go of me.”
The man laughed,
“Then will you accompany me to bed?”
As laughter died down, a glint of silver flashed in the corner of his eye.
Then a dagger plunged into the big man's other hand, pinning his broad palm to the table!
A faint light fell from his silver-gray hair, as star energy glowed through his skin, shining dimly in the dark bar.
Anger spewed from the boy's eye; his voice cold as ice,
“She said LET GO!”
Behind the bar, a glass shattered on the ground, exploding into tiny fragments.
It happened too fast, and Kaidi didn't even know when the young man had moved over, especially since the gate and the table were at least ten meters apart.
Kaidi couldn't see his movements.
“Damn it, my hand!” the big man screamed, releasing Nanfei and reaching for his gun holster at his waist.
“Stop it, Tieshan!” His companion, a thin man, stood up and looked cautiously at Tianyang, speaking with utmost respect,
“Respected Ascender, please forgive my companion's rudeness.
I'm willing to apologize for his recklessness and offer compensation to this lady.”
The man named Tieshan finally saw the scattered glow on Tianyang's body and couldn't help but shudder.
No matter how weak the Ascender was, they were not something an ordinary like him could handle, especially without heavy weapons at hand.
If his companion hadn't stopped him just now, maybe that dagger may have been in his heart.
Tianyang snorted, withdrawing his dagger, and pointed to the door,
“Forget apologies and such.
Get out, and you're not welcome here anymore!”
After all, it was Kaidi's bar, and Tianyang didn't want to make things too difficult and affect his business.
The thin man nodded a number of times, helping his companion leave dejectedly.
“Tianyang, are you an Ascender now? Wait, why is your hair white? And wha—EYE PATCH!” Nanfei exclaimed, repeating the questions Kaidi had asked earlier.
But this time, for some reason, the young man felt a uneasy.
Looking at his worried mother, Tianyang muttered, “Mom, let me explain…”
At the gate, Kaidi chuckled: “Even as an Ascender, still afraid of your mom, you little brat.”
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