Tell It To Them Straight

“A cold wind off the Puget Sound stirs your hair and clothing from behind, causing the nylon-wings of the ultralight to rustle with an almost silent whisper of plastic fabric. Below you and before you glitters the firmament of Seattle’s night-time skyline, blazing to shame the stars that mirror it in the blackened sky above. The lights of corporate skyrakers and VTOL landing pads glisten with every color of the artificial light rainbow, like conflict gemstones scattered across black sand. Patches of dark clouds rolling across the night sky release flurries of snow and icy crystals of freezing rain. The precipitation makes the world look grainy and lo-res, like the feed from a CCTV camera.

Above your head, the red glow of the Space Needle’s spire radiates downwards, a hell-red beacon beckoning power to corruption, and guiding corruption to power. The 184 meter landmark is dwarfed by the corporate monoliths that rise above it in all directions, creating a sheer, vertical divide, in plascrete and mirrorglass, between Seattle’s haves and have-nots. But from the top of the structure looking down, it doesn’t seem all that short.

A final check of the Nightwing’s status reveals green across the board; the ultralight is more of a glider than a plane, but what it lacks in reassuring bulk and safety features it makes up for with its whisper quiet engine and radar absorbent wing span. The wind is picking up, and the dark clouds seem to be coalescing into something bigger and more sinister. In other words, there is no time like the present. With a silent prayer to whatever Power you think most likely to answer, you shuffle forward, carrying the glider with you off the edge.

You have a moment to contemplate how Icarus must have felt when he reached his unexpected zenith and began to fall–oh drek, he must have thought–and then a thermal current slows your descent into a controllable glide, and you watch the parallax shadowscape of Seattle scroll past below you. You can’t see your house from here, but landmarks like the Aztechnology pyramid and the massive, illuminated bulk of the Renraku arcology are visible. The few downtown blocks between you and the Brackhaven Investments skyscraper slide away quickly as you fly south, and then veer to the east.

In the streets below, the protests and picketers writhe back and forth, clashing with the line of metroplex guards and Knight Errant cops; from up here it looks like two armies of different colored ants fighting a war over picnic crumbs. Lifting your gaze, you see the helipads on the roof of the BI building, flashing with blinking red landing lights, the corners of the building blazing with arc-sodium searchlights that illuminate the mercury-dark slivers of falling rain and snow. Behind you is the cold wind, off the Puget Sound. Below you is a 160 meter drop to the uncaring streets below. Ahead of you is the anti-aircraft radar that needs to be hacked, the shield-wall of maglocks that need to be sleazed, a symphony of alarms that need to be silenced, and a small army of corpsec guards to deal with.

  You can’t help but smile.” 


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