Stein craned forward in his seat, leaning over the front panel to try to get a
better view of the approaching city through the forward viewscreens, though the
flyer’s nose partially blocked the view.
He’d heard about the city, but the tales were nothing compared to
the sight now becoming clearer in front of the small craft. The small ship was on auto now, banking as it
descended, avoiding other air traffic on its way into Balance
City’s port. Balance City. He could see now how it had gotten its
name. A thick rock spire pushed up from
the canyon floor, spreading toward the top into a broad flat surface. Deep cracks and scorings climbed irregularly
over the spire’s surface, disappearing into the darkened shadow of the
overhang. Atop the plateau sat the city
proper, a construction of metal and shining glass. Since the city’s beginnings, natural
urban growth had spread buildings in an ordered grid across the plateau’s
surface and further. The area had not
been enough, so the residents had simply continued, building out from the
city’s lip to the opposite sides of the canyon. It looked exactly like the urban spread was
simply balancing atop the single spire that sat beneath it.
been slightly nervous when boarding the flyer on the orbital platform that
served as the changeover point on his journey, but not as nervous as he was
now. These damned things were supposed
to have pilots, weren’t they? Not
that Jack had ever been a particularly good air passenger of any form.
flyer banked again, and headed lower.
Jack swallowed and frowned, wondering what was happening. It looked as though they were flying too low,
moving down beneath the city elevation and he swallowed again, stretching
forward again for a better view. Perhaps
it was just the approach path. Any
moment, he expected the flyer to swoop up again, but then he saw why and he
released his breath. Beneath the
outgrown platforms at either edge of the plateau, construction had continued
down as well as sideways. Buildings
clung precariously to the spire’s sides, struts and braces holding them
in place, all uniformly colored in green or yellow, varying shades, but giving
a subtle patchwork feel.
he said to himself. Balance
City’s port was there, not above, but below. A wide flat area sat suspended beneath the
platform, and his flyer was close enough now that he could start to pick out
individual crafts arrayed in ordered rows along its length. The order echoed the order of the city
above. What the hell
did Billie want to come here for anyway?
It just didn’t look like the sort of place in which she’d
really be comfortable. Billie
wasn’t particularly one for the ordered life, especially not with her
origins amongst the dirt and squalor of the Old end of the Locality. She’d lived most of her life without
rules, without constraints. For that
matter, Balance City didn’t look like the sort of place Jack Stein would
be at home in either. His comfort level was shaped by dirt and squalor too.