Jonas had never been so far up in all his life. The sidewalks he was used to had no railings because it was only twenty centimetres to the street, not hectametres. He walked more carefully, one hand against the reassuring wall. The air was clearer up here, and the early morning light was almost blue after thousands of yellow and grey-green mornings below. He looked again at the address as a tungsten-yellow Phœnix Valkyrie roared past, freely sharing bullets with the DPD at close range. Jonas pulled his coat around himself, thanked the OneTrueGod for a day out of the factory, and prayed for Clara's safety.
Kriever didn’t like public trans, and insisted on driving his old Sting Ray everywhere. He glanced over to the passenger seat, where she sat with his coat still over her shoulders. “Which way, doll?” he asked. The rain had eased up, for now...
“I didn't like the way you treated Sam just now,” she said when he reached her table. “Sam was begging for it.” She was wearing something much too short, but Kriever was too busy to be impressed. “Put on a coat and take me uptown, doll,” he said.
The asthmatic death rattle of the air-scrubber was a comfortable sound, a beacon home in the crushing waves of the street. It had guided him home every night now for eight years to the same drafty building and the same putrid stairs, and the same motherless little girl at the top who made it all worthwhile. Clara was eleven and all that came with it. Her father would give his life to save hers.
“What's the word, Feng,” he asked the alien as it hovered back and forth, stirring this pot...mixing that... “I just told the blue boy I ain't seen nothing,” he mumbled. “You eating tonight?”