Just a very short excerpt from Insignia. I just wrote this and love how it turned out.
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They made their way to the through the crowded street markets on the lower levels of the city. These were the low-lying, frequently flooded sectors of the Metropolix where immigrants, run-down mechs, undercover savants, true humans, and other persona non grata did their business. Outwardly, they all looked to be law-abiding citizens but many of the fronts covered illegal or semi-illegal activity that lurked in basements and back rooms. Because of bootlegging, drug dens, human trafficking, and counterfeiting (just to name a few), one could find any service, pleasure or goods in these districts, all under the watchful eye of the XCGen security forces. The corporations weren’t opposed to these illegal activities, especially when they could draw benefit as well. As such, it wasn’t unusual to see a contingent of security guards prowling between the ale houses and taverns of the lower levels or a smartly-dressed businessmech slipping through the moist and grubby streets to meet his lover of choice in an ancient Chinese bathhouse.
photo from: http://i.imgur.com/4XZ5SbZ.jpg
The markets hawked all kinds of wares, a lot of them reminiscent of old Asia or ancient Southern America. There were stands serving up delicious-smelling street food of dubious origin, stationery that was curling and water-stained on the edges, useless trinkets, odd clothing, bootlegged electronics and after-market mods. Mara tried not to think too hard on where these “after-market” mods originated, but had difficulty ridding the image from her mind of a squirrely True Human ripping a mech’s arm off as he lay drunk in a gutter. The mod shops were also unsettling, with faded pictures of smiling mechs in the windows and a bone-vibrating hum emanating from the doorways. She shivered looking for a salon: a similar faded picture of a smiling mech with far too much hair piled elegantly on her head.