Swinging By

A blue miasma drifted across the damaged floor plates as Elgea was standing beside the ledge of the highest deck of Arkology. The young man was so far up, he could look down the massive Radio Retrofuture logo that dominated the whole city like an evil eye.
The coils on the tower’s roof crackled as it sent lighting up the conjoined bundles of wire leading up to the great machine above. Its massive gears turning steadfast in a blue storm of pure power. Regardless of Elgea’s existence, the gears would always be turning. Watching the individual cogs pass by could be a mesmerizing experience as their emergence seemingly came from nowhere, only to disappear again in the unfathomable system of colossal clockwork.
Elgea was told that machines allowed people to stay alive. But why? Since he arrived, he had known nothing but suffering. The only times he felt alive was when thinking of the time before; Good memories of the old world that always ended up reminding him that he would have gladly died on the world he left behind.
Because that would have meant he was a better person than the being that was standing on the ledge.
He wasn’t worthy. He wasn’t strong. And all assumptions he ever had about himself had been just that: fantasies. That fact that the White Zeppelin had allowed him on board was a mistake.
That fault would be undone.
Gripping a pole with his sweaty palm, Elgea closed his eyes and leaned sideways over the edge. As he hung over the city, he considered a final thought. But nothing came up and so Elgea relaxed his grip.
The passing air pulled at his clothes as he dropped at increasing speed toward the buildings below. This was it. It wouldn’t be long before-
Out of nowhere, something grabbed hold of him, and he was flung sideways. Elgea opened his eyes as he was held upside down by his midsection. He screamed as the rooftops below sheared by whilst he was dragged upside down through the air.
A King-Ray! An otherwise indifferent Stingray-esque flying predator that ambushed flocks of dodo’s, with no interest in humans. Except for falling Scav’s, apparently.
The creature made a sharp turn with Elgea in tow.
Oh, no… They were heading toward the Dodo’s Ridge: That deck, high above the city which was inaccessible to most humans, that was the home of countless flying creatures. Elgea would be fed to its young or get encapsulated to be eaten at some later date. He would rather fall to his doom which… Well.
They circled the tower.
There was a flash, and suddenly the creature was struck by a burst of lightning. The creature had flown too close to the web of power cords and now sparks were falling all around him as Elgea covered his ears to protect himself against the high-pitched cries of the beast.
Contorting in agony, the King Ray swung its tail, hurling Elgea screaming through the air straight at the tower’s roof, making him crash-land among the web of power cables and rolling him down the incline until he toppled over the edge. Flailing his limbs, he tried to grab hold of a power cable as he fell. His leg got entwined in the power cords and again he was suspended upside down, mid-air, screaming till he became close to fainting.
It took him a moment to compose himself as he swung in circles beside the tower’s balcony and against the tower walls. Every time he swung by the railing, he desperately reached out his hands but barely managed to touch it. He tried time and time again, but each attempt he made was out of reach.
Then, the gilded balcony door opened. A man wearing an asymmetrically buttoned coat with large lapels and an upstanding collar emerged. Over his left eye was a mechanical monocle that covered about a fourth of his face. He was in no rush to provide assistance and he walked to the railing while lighting up a pipe filled with tobacco.


‘Help me!’ Elgea cried swaying to the man’s left.
The stranger’s gaze followed him while he inhaled.
‘Please!’ Elgea insisted, swinging to the man’s right. ‘I need help!’
Blowing out a plume of blueish smoke, the stranger’s gaze followed him again as Elgea dangled back to the left ‘What was that?’ he asked condescendingly with a hoarse voice. ‘The Scav who just jumped so willingly to his demise now wants to be saved? Is the creature that wanted to sustain itself on you not good enough?’
‘I-I changed my mind?’ pleaded Elgea, swinging to the opposite direction.
‘Did you now?’
‘I’ll never do it again. I promise!’
The man rolled his eye. ‘You’re sorry? Sorry, now faith has given you a third chance at life? How many chances does it take, young man?’
‘Please… You can berate me all you want, but help me first at least!’
He sighed in reluctance, holding the pipe in his left hand while reaching out his right.
Desperately, Elgea got hold of the man’s arm and managed to climb up the balcony. After the cable was detached, the strange man mumbled, ‘I’m too good for this place.’
‘Yes. Yes, thank you, sir,’ the Scav groveled. ‘I won’t bother you any longer. How do lea-’
‘Bother me!’ the small man sneered, raising his hoarse voice. ‘I finally had a moment of rest until you dropped by.’
‘I’m sorry!’
‘Stop apologizing!’ He snapped. ‘You words hold no value.’
‘I‘m-’ He stopped himself. ‘’Listen, I do anything…’
‘Yes, you will! Do you even know who I am?’
He considered it. The only person that came to mind was… ‘The Founder, s-?’
‘That’s right, Scav!’ answered the Founder. ‘I created this place. I maintain it. And this is how you repay me for all my hard work?’
‘B-but I meant you no offense!’
‘I take offense!’ he retorted. ‘Useless creature… How dare you end what I have given you, without giving anything in return.’
‘I-I didn’t realize.’
‘Yes… Because you are that selfish.’
‘I- Yes. You're right,’ he confessed. Elgea did consider himself a selfish creature. But to hear it from somebody else…That broke something inside of him. ‘But I will change what I can change.’
‘I don’t care,’ the Founder said. ‘But know this. Your life belongs to me now. I’ve given it to you once freely. Now it’s mine to end when I want.’
Elgea raised his hands. ‘Please no… I’ll do anything.’
‘That’s what I am counting on,’ said the Founder. ‘And don’t you dare die before then.’
‘Y-yes, sir.’
‘Good, because if you do… There are fates worse than death. It’s not just your life that is at stake now, you understand?’
Elgea nodded even though he didn’t have a clue.
The lens of his mechanical eye lit up. ‘Now, get out!’

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