In every era of every society, money talks. It may be called different things, it may take the form of a tangible object or a virtual credit on one’s profile. Or labor. No matter; it all works the same way.
The baker’s demeanor changed with a flash of coin and was soon back working his dough. With minimum discussion of reliable boarders, the child went back into the shadows with the bread and a small jar of jam.
It was very dark on the boulevard now. Shops were closed for the night. Slivers of gaslight flickered from the seams of shutters on upper floors. Having produced his device from a deep coat pocket, he turned into a deserted alley toward the piers.
Sounds of welding cut the air sharply. The essence of burnt metal was carried on the breeze. Other sounds could be heard in the background: the hiss of steam in rhythm, mixed with something else. He slipped into the entrance of a poorly marked workhouse to see several robots methodically building marine vehicles. He smiled. The scene was something out of ancient literature, only fully realized. Then again, these were ancient times.
The other sounds drew his attention. There was something not quite right about this. If this device was any indication, what he sought was the source of those sounds.
He left the robots to their work and stepped out, following the signal and as the sounds grew louder. He stopped suddenly at the edge of the pier; the source was below by at least a dozen meters.
He detected no lifesigns, which was a good thing, but peering into the depths, there was only blackness. He had to reconsider: With no portable light source on hand (much less one which was water resistent), there was little he could do anymore tonight.
With a sigh he rose from his haunches and headed back into town.