City in the Sky

Ch. 1

Dale and Artemis walked through the entrance. They were here in Steam City for Dale and Art’s work as journalists. A quote from one of his co-workers rang in his head: “Once they go to Steam City… well, they either don’t come back, or they come back almost, brainwashed. It’s almost like they encode their brains or something. Good luck, mate.” 

“When we get some information on The City, we can leave. Hopefully, what Steve said was a lie,” Dale said cheerfully.

A hand tapped on his back. Instinctively, Artemis ducked down and swung her leg to swipe the attacker off their feet. 

“Whoa!” The guard fell down to the ground. “Jeez!” The helmet rolled off his head to show a young man, about 30 years old. On his armor was a small tag that said #56.

“You’re new here. Don’t stay here too long! They’ll get to you. Don’t let them get to your brain. I’ve grown up seeing everyone like this. It’s not what you think. They don’t let us out of The City. I haven’t even seen the sky in my life! My name is Clyde.”

“Whoa, buddy! Maybe try saying that a little slower.” 

“They encode the citizens’ brains. I’m resistant to mind control. You need to run. They can’t find me talking to you.”

“How do you know we can trust him?” Artemis said accusingly. 

“You might want to hide the baby, too,” Clyde said. 

“It is our job to report things, even if we don’t have any concrete evidence. We have to do this,” Dale reminded. 

“Welcome to Steam City. Here in The City, we strive to make each and every one of our citizen’s happy. We have specifically designed every detail for our citizens’ benefit, and they are helping us, too. We hope you have a great time in our industrial utopia!” the speaker boomed in an automated voice all across the steel-plexiglass streets. Some children all of the same size were air biking, the exact same speed, in the exact same line. The baker walked through the street. A platinum-laced aerotrain showed up beside him. 

“You have been walking so, so long, sir. Are you sure you don’t want to ride on our aerotrain?” a person who you couldn’t tell was a man or woman with a blue and silver mask, symbolising that they were a train conductor, asked. 

“Yes, Conductor. I am thankful you came.” 

“It is fine, kind sir. This job pays very well.” The conductor held up a small graphite-gold coin. “I get paid 1 graphite piece every day! I love this job.” 

“I see we have some tourists. Welcome!” 

“Dale, I’m starting to think that guard guy was right,” Artemis muttered under her breath. 

“I don’t trust this, either,” Dale replied back.  

“I wouldn’t recommend being unhappy here. Things will start to go wrong.” The train veered off track and into a donut shop on the left side of the street. 

“Take Nathan and run!” The man ran across the street and almost to the wall. A single tear dropped down his cheek. 

“I’m sorry, Nate. I can’t take you with me. Try to survive.” He left the baby on the doorstep of a silver pod-house near the wall, saying a final goodbye. He quietly slipped under the silver wall. 

[Camera #21, broadcasting to Guard #56]

Now that Dale had left the child in his hands, he promised he would not let it down. Clyde decided he should have started what Dale and Art hadn’t finished, and began investigating what went on in the chamber hall where the counsellor decided what to do with the city.

[Camera #21, broadcasting to Guard #56]

“What is this corruption?!” a sharp and icy voice called from the chamber hall. 

“I’m sorry, sir, the prisoners escaped! The child and mother died in the crash. The man escaped.” 

“Impossible,” the white haired counselor sneered. “No one can escape this place.” 

“It’s assumed that he had help. From a guard named Clyde.” 

The counselor opened a digi-book, and skimmed through the pages. 

“Clyde… hmm… found it! Men, find Guard 56 and bring him to me! Remember, if it isn’t in order, it doesn’t belong. Unite through submission!”

Upon hearing this, the guard who had been spying on the meeting hastily ripped his number tag radar off and hid it in a spot far away. Now they would never be able to find him.

He would begin a new life, assume a new identity, and play by new rules.

Ch. 2

“Get back here!” The wind rushed in Nathan’s spiky hair as he raced through the plexiglass streets of Steam City, which used to be known as Vancouver. His beaten navy blue jacket and black and white edge corp games t-shirt billowed like a sail in the wind. The Chrometanium plated guards had their eyes locked on a shiny plastic object in Nathan’s hand. Nate hooked his hands on the hard exoskeleton guard mech suits, and hooked his jacket like a zipline along the power cords above the city. The guards clenched their fists and cables shot out of their wrists. The cables caught his jacket, and he lurched forward onto the ground. Nate was cornered. 

“Hand over the treats, kid! You got nowhere to run now.” 

“Who said anything about running?” He stomped on the left side of the storm drain, shifting its weight, and ultimately causing it to open. He landed with a splash in the drains of Steam City. 

“Ten steps forward… eight steps right… three steps forward. Five steps left. Ten steps forward… here!” He scrambled up a ladder right above a pod house, of which he was sure to be his. He carefully untwisted the hatch that would lead to the food storage area in his tiny apartment.

When he opened the hatch, he was blinded by bright yellow walls and an electroplate. An old lady snored on a massage chair in the corner of the room. He carefully backed down the ladder and retraced his steps. 

“Stupid! Hmm, what was it. Oh! It was ten steps left and five steps forward!” He slowly made his way to the correct hatch, and into his home. 

“I brought snacks!” he called from the food cellar. Nate’s house consisted of five main parts. The food cellar was underground, or, technically speaking, under-pod-floating-over-ground. The kitchen was the fanciest room, consisting of a marble floor and an oven. On the countertop on the side, there was a microwave with a heat and cool setting. Clyde, Nate’s adoptive guardian, was sitting at the countertop on an old computer he had salvaged from a construction site. He greeted Nate with the usual refrain when he came back from getting food.

“Jeez, Nate! Please at least try to fit in! If we get found out then — ” 

“The chancellor will find us and brainwash us to be zombies that he can control to his pleasure and ultimately our old selves will be erased from history, yada, yada, yada. I know!” Nate said quickly. Clyde’s mood lightened. 

“But… I guess it’s worth it. You really know how to run! What’d you get this time?” He looked at the box.  

“Jones box with rice and extra tamarind sauce? You know me, kid! What did you get yourself?” 

Nate replied, “Chicken Curry,” he said. They walked to the counter and began to indulge in a feast.


Midnight… a knock sounded at the door… Nate got up from his makeshift bed and creeped down the stairs. They found me. He quietly opened the door, making sure they didn’t see him. He hid on the underside of the door. 

“Tell us where the child is and we’ll leave you in peace. The chancellor will make you happy. He will make you both happy.” 

“Never! You’ll never get Nate. I believe that he can liberate this city. He can liberate all the cities.” Liberate the cities?! I can’t do that. I’m just a kid! There isn’t anyone like me… is there? 

“Wait, I sense something. There! Behind the door!” Clyde blinked a message in their secret language that they would use in case of an emergency. He said, 

“Run. Don’t worry about me. I’ll handle this. Go.” Nate jumped up on top of the guards and soared onto the bed which suspended from the ceiling. He quickly hefted the plexi-glass frame off the window next to the bed and leaped out. He felt like he was flying — until he landed on top of an electrical pole next to a tall building. All those years of training has prepared me for this moment.  He clenched his fists and a shock came through his gloves. Luckily, almost everything in the city was made of metal, so it wasn’t a problem leaping from building to building and climbing walls. What was a problem, though, was the huge jump in front of him. 

“You’re cornered.”

Nate panicked, not knowing what to do. 


“The chancellor will see you soon.” Oh no… this is all my fault. I shouldn’t have been so reckless. Stupid Nathan! Focus on getting out of here! He scanned the area for an opening. I still have my magnet gloves in my pocket, but they’re out of battery. Well, it’s worth a shot. A warden came to deliver food. The gruel on the plate looked disgusting, and Nathan did not want to eat it. He pulled his gloves out of his pocket and slipped them on. When the warden put his metal mech-suit glove into the food slip, Nate quickly reached for his hand and pulled hard. The warden’s suit helmet clanged across the bars, making him fall to the ground. They say the suits can custom change the interior to fit whatever size… it’s worth a shot. He struggled to get the suit on, with so many complex parts, but when he managed to fit it on, nobody knew it was him. He clenched his fist, trying the suit’s mechanics out. A cable shot out and wrapped around the warden. He picked the person up and locked him in the cell where he’d recently been.

“Oh no! That boy just escaped! Get him!” 

Nathan tried his best to impersonate the steel-faced warden. Almost immediately, the guards flocked out of the door. He strode down the streets of Steam City, knowing he couldn’t get caught. Once he reached the wall, he tried to get through, but the guards stopped him.

“ID card, please?” they asked in unison. 

“I can arrest you if I wanted to — ” Nate was cut off by the guards. 

“Rule number 85 page 56 paragraph two clearly states that guards can not be arrested. Impostor.” Oh no. RUN! He clenched his fist, and a sign that said, “No More Cable,” appeared on the screen attached to his left arm. I don’t still have that glove, do I? What if I did the magnetic boom with the metal hand… 

“Huh!” He slammed his glove upon the interior of the suit. The suit started to give out a small magnetic signal. It may have not been strong enough, but it was enough to scale the high wall. 

“Get him!” they called in unison. They shot cables out of their fists and grappled up to his height. Nate tried everything, but nothing came as a solution. He even activated a peanut dispenser in the helmet! He clenched his fingers, hoping for something to happen. This suit has CLAWS?! A pair of retractable claws shot out of the fingertips of the arm. I wonder… 

He sliced at the cables aimed straight towards him. It sliced through them like butter. 

“Yah!” He pulled himself over the wall. “I’m free-aaah!” Free. Free but tumbling. Is this the end? His life flashed before his eyes. “Oof!” He landed in a junk pile next to a run down old store, which what was left of the sign said “Mac / onalds”.  

A creature that he couldn’t tell was Fox, Squirrel, or Seal trotted up to him. 

“Hey there, buddy… you must’ve become like this from the radiation, huh? These suits can block the poisonous air, so…” He picked up a helmet that had fallen down from the wall, and it fit right on the “furreal,” which sounded a lot like Surreal. “Hey, Surreal… do you want to come with me?” The Furreal wagged its bushy flipper tail and nuzzled his suit. “Come on… we have some cities to liberate.” They walked hours and hours through the wasteland, and they were both getting tired. The water and food supply stored in both of their helmets had run out and you could hear their stomachs growling from a mile away. “So… tired…” Nate moaned. “Wish there were people… ah!” He let out a weak groan as he and Surreal were hoisted into the air by some kind of trap. It was made of a metal cage that seemed to shock them every few second. By the second shock, they passed out.


Nate opened his eyes. Where am I? Surreal?! He scanned around for his pet and found him on the other side of the room. There was a cool breeze, and a flickering light hung above a sort of scrap lab. In a makeshift door next to him, he heard voices saying, 

“The suit looks as if it was from the Steam City Unit.” A girl’s voice that sounded like it was Australian came from the other room. 

“What would a Steam City Guard be doing out here in Parallel City scraps?” a male voice said.  Parallel city?! Surely they couldn’t have walked that far! It seemed as if they were children, but he couldn’t be sure.

“What should we do with him?” a high-pitched voice asked.

“Leave him be, once he wakes up, we can interrogate him.”

“Help! Anyone!” Nate screamed at the top of his lungs, dehydrated. Four people shot out of the other room. The girl had long, raven hair with highlights of magenta that shot out only in the back, and piercing, steel eyes that could cut through diamonds. A boy with dark skin, and hair that looked like fields of chocolate shaved on one side stood behind his chair. He had two big round glasses on his head and wore a knitted, wooly sweater. Two children, a boy and girl, who looked as if they were of East Asian descent, stood on his right side. They looked like they were twins, but he couldn’t be sure. 

“Stop screaming like a baby. What even is a Steam City unit guard doing out in the scraps? Why are you also harboring a mutant?” Diamond Eyes said fiercely. 

“I swear, I’m not a guard! I’m just a kid!”

“Oh no, no, no, no no. We might catch his mind control virus!” Field Hair headed for the door.

“The control isn’t contagious.” The girl twin squeaked. 

“He could mind control us through the suit.” The boy piped. 

“Wait! No! This is complicated… I’m not affected, can’t you see?!” Diamond eyes shot a disbelieving glance at him. “Let’s do a test… the mind controlled always does what they’re told.” She picked up a matchbox, and struck a match. She handed it to Nate. “Go light that trash pile on fire.” Nate knew the obvious decision, but he decided to have fun with it. He slowly walked to the trash pile, and said, 

“Yes, master,” in a robotic voice. Right as he was about to drop it, he turned around, and said 

“Nope. I got you, didn’t I?”

Diamond rolled her eyes. “Fine… you’re like us, and now you’re one of us,” she quickly muttered, 

“Oh, this is going to be a pain.”