a’ight so I’m gonna post this 3 page snippet I’ve got written. I haven’t really gone over it meticulously so I hope there aren’t any glaring errors
the basics of the story are as follows:
it begins on the floating, steampunk city of Saterra. a bunch of Elves live here, although they’ve been there so long they no longer remember their heritage, and they just call themselves Saterrans. they worship a god called Arc. the city is like a huge mechanical airship. the technology level isn’t super advanced - they only have basic radio and cameras, no televisions or games, no computers - but they of course have some technology stronger than ours, enough to allow their city to stay afloat
however, the flight comes at a price. the government claims that they get all of their power from solar panels, wind harvesters, and the like. but, beneath the city itself is another undercity of sorts, a slum that is home to life-sentence criminals, political dissidents, disabled people, and pretty much anyone else the government deems undesirable. these people live in poverty and work gruelling shifts doing the physical labour required to power Saterra and keep it afloat. nobody knows about this, and anybody who finds out is promptly added to the ranks of people trapped beneath the city, effectively becoming another nobody.
one day, our hero, an impoverished, petty thief and parkour enthusiast named Mella Steamrunner (Saterrans have funky names), finds out about this, and makes it her goal to rescue the slaves by inciting a rebellion. she gets the evidence she needs, but she is discovered by the city’s military and they give chase. she ends up fleeing through the maze of catwalks and rusty platforms near the bottom edge of the city, which is where this little snippet begins.
you don’t have to read it, of course, but if you do, please tell me what you think!! as I mentioned in the tag of my last post I doubt I’ll ever finish a whole story about this but I think it’s a cool idea and it’s nice to write something that isn’t Homestuck every now and then.
the story segment itself is after the cut:
The chase brought her to the very edge of the lower city, a perilous web of crisscrossing catwalks, many unused and unmaintained by the mechanics who kept the city afloat. It was an unfavourable position to be sure – to her right lay only sky and her enemies were closing in fast on the left. She swung her head wildly around, looking for an escape, and saw a small shack just ahead of her. If she could only make it, she might…
“Stop right there!”
A man spoke to her left and a soldier emerged from the shack, and she knew the jig was up. The man’s voice was commanding and strong and she was surprised by the force of the words, for she recognized the voice as Elson Kelmora Lightspeaker. As his name implied, he was the normally soft-spoken head of the Saterran government. Well known for his moderate policies, his drinker’s belly, and his wispy, salt-and-pepper hair, he was the last man one would expect to find prowling the bowels of the city looking for a thief. In his campaigns he presented himself as the kind of figure who would rather curl up by the fireplace sipping on cocoa and reading the Mythscape of Arc with his children, and in his political dealings he was the unofficial champion of ‘tough, but fair’. He must have been a great actor, though, for there he was, wearing a seemingly characteristic scowl, flanked by two soldiers, and dressed in light armor and wielding a crossbow. His weapon was aimed straight at the center of Mella’s chest, and primed to fire.
She froze up and held her hands up to indicate surrender. Her eyes scanned the area for an escape route and she found nothing. Dashing forward or to the sides would be suicide with three crossbows aimed at her, there were no nearby objects that could serve as a distraction, and behind her there was only a fragile fence and the open air beyond it. She was trapped.
“Holster your crossbow,” Kelmora said, his every word steeped with more anger than she thought him capable of. “Move slowly and make no sudden moves or we shall fire.”
She did as instructed, undoing the clasp that bound it to her arm, and attaching her crossbow to her belt. Kelmora and his guards eased up slightly, and he began to pace back and forth.
“It’s not often that I feel I must congratulate a criminal, but I feel some credit is owed to you here. No average person could break into a heavily guarded government safehouse and steal confidential records, and then infiltrate the prison system and escape with photographs in hand. You’ve done well.”
Kelmora spoke like a true politician and Mella wanted none of it.
“I don’t need your praise!” she spat. “If you’re the one behind this all, you’re a torturer and a slave driver!”
His eyes narrowed. “You do not understand your position here, nor do you understand mine. I imprison criminals and dissidents. I keep our citizens safe and more importantly, I keep this city afloat. If not for their hard work we would surely crash into the sea.”
“People are dying down there, and you’re not doing anything to help! You won’t do anything to find a better solution! You’re just a murderer, may Arc refuse you!”
The slur cut the air and Kelmora’s grip tightened on his crossbow.
“I’ve come here personally to offer you a choice, and you do yourself no favours with such childish insults. Will you hear me out, or shall I shoot you now?”
Mella nodded tersely. Death would do her no good – she had to remain calm and find a way out of this mess.
“Good, good…now, you have three options, and I suggest you consider them wisely. First, you may join my team of elite soldiers. You’ve certainly got the skills, as you have demonstrated to me today. You will be paid well, and live a lavish lifestyle afforded to a select few. Together we will end insurgency and stamp out the flames of rebellion wherever they are sparked. This is, undoubtedly, the most profitable choice you can make.”
Mella fought the urge to shout, ‘I would rather die than work under you!’, and instead swallowed hard and waited for the next option.
“Second, you may spend the rest of your life imprisoned beneath the city like those you are so determined to rescue. As the Prime Minister, of course, I can pull strings, and afford you the fairest lodgings, the best meals available – but you would have to endure the gruelling slavery that is expected of criminals of your ilk. Thirdly, as I cannot allow you to return to the surface, having learned so much about the secret operations of our government…you may choose to die.”
Lose her conscience, lose her freedom, or lose her life. All in all, Mella had to conclude, it wasn’t a very appealing set of choices. Again, she searched for a way to escape, and found nothing.
“If you kill me, you’ll never find out where I hid the information,” she said, reaching at some sort of distraction. “It’ll make its way to my allies, they’ll spread it around, you—“
“Nothing of the sort shall happen. I know that you are working alone. If you had help you would have brought it today.”
“I…” she cringed and trailed off. He was right, of course.
“If you die, the knowledge dies with you. This far beneath the city, the likelihood of anyone chancing across your documents is minimal, and my searchers will surely find it first. You cannot help anyone. You can only die, or surrender. Which will it be? Make your choice or I shall choose for you.”
Mella’s body shook against her will, betraying her fear. She did not want death, especially when so many were counting on her to survive, and to save them. But what other choice did she have? She saw nowhere to turn. Nowhere…unless…
Mella glanced over her shoulder, at the rusted chain-link fence that rested behind her. Barely clinging to the posts that anchored it to the platform, it was a shoddy excuse for a barrier. Her weight would be enough to topple it over and send her over the edge. Below, she could only see the sky, and the smog produced by the Saterran engines. Perhaps beneath her lay a stray pipe or two, or one of the many moving parts that made up the city, and past those there would be only ocean. It was the worst escape route imaginable, a path that lead to near-certain death. Compared to certain death, however, anything was a better option.
She swallowed hard, her heart beating against her chest in anticipation and her breaths heavy. Her entire body shook as if to protest her decision, but she willed it to shift towards the fence regardless. The two soldiers tensed and shook their crossbows as if to reaffirm their intent. Kelmora’s eyes widened the slightest bit.
“No one would be stupid enough…you wouldn’t…no, you couldn’t…”
She saw no other option. She would not live her life as a slave, or turn her back on the prisoners. Death at her enemy’s hands was unacceptable as well. But in jumping, there was a chance – the slimmest chance, but a chance nonetheless – that she would survive. She could catch an iron shaft as it swung around the great mechanical underbelly of Saterra, or snatch at the bottom of the platform as she fell. If all else failed, she could pray to Arc and hope that her fall was not so great as to kill her when she struck the water. It was her only hope.
“I can, and will!”
Her voice ringing with defiance, her instincts screaming at her to stop, she pivoted on her heel and launched herself at the fence. It easily gave way against her weight and she toppled over the edge.
“Shoot her!” came a panicked cry behind her and she heard the crossbows fire. She grasped tightly onto the rusted chains and winced as a bolt imbedded itself into her shoulder armor. The shock forced her to recoil and her grip on the fence was lost, and next she knew both herself and the fence were plummeting, the city shrinking above her as she dropped. Pain stinging at her shoulder and eyes watering, she was helpless but to watch as her body slowly spun in midair, and the surface of the great ocean rushed towards her. Her crossbow was ripped from her belt by the friction, and her vision blurred and darkened around the edges.
Mella’s consciousness slipped and she was gone before she even reached the water.