She is born sixty-seven feet underground, twelve inches of steel-reinforced concrete separating her from a world on fire and simmering in radiation. There is no higher than the hatch that will lead them out onto the ground, and though she is little, her mother and father take her to the meeting of above and below, and press her hand to the cool metal. Sister is out there, they tell her, because they must believe in these things to carry on day after day in the below when they have no plan on how to open a door crushed by rubble and ruin.
She is five when she feels the sun’s warmth on her face for the first time, feels the wind and the breeze, tastes the sweetness of spring air. Now below is the grass between her feet, and above the endless sky, the Go-Sci ring twinkling down at them in the night and the Eligius ship hovering in atmosphere.
She is seven, when the Sky People return to Arkadia and the rest of the Ark comes crashing to Earth. The warped ruins of Alpha are a husk to be rewired, refitted. The Earth, scorched and toxic, saves them but one valley, life preserved by her namesake.
She is twelve when she climbs the ring. There are eight other students in her year, a paltry number in comparison to those born once they returned to the ground. There are nine of them, some born down sixty-seven feet underground and some born miles above. Climb higher. They have the edge, have peered down at them from space. But she will climb higher. She does not look down until she has mounted the summit, and sees her grey-haired father swaying on his feet. There is a trick to coming down, the trick of not falling, and her fingers are sore when her feet land on loamy soil. Her mother drags her into the medical bay to count bandages for the rest of the week. But still, she is a child of sky, and her fingers combed through the cloud-like mists.
She fifteen, when she hears of the hundred. There are not many left. Sister. Octavia. Monty. Harper, Murphy. Bellamy, and Raven. Her parents’ mouths gape from a lack of explanation. You sent them down to die? Their faces turn into strangers and she runs, considers letting her feet carry her out and away into the woods, but instead she finds familiar footholds and climbs. Too fast, arms trembling and the soles of her feet slipping over wet metal. She almost falls, catching herself against the hulking shell, and squeezes her eyes shut.
How old were they? Sister was seventeen. Some younger, some older. Children of the sky, plummeting to the Earth. She stands atop of her world, and looks up. Further to fall, in a world where she does not know what it means, to fall from any great height. The air is cold, hurts her throat.
How old will she be, when the fall first beckons her?
They live in the Garden of Eden, some five square miles to be shared by thousands.
They live in the Garden of Eden, and she is Eden Kane, set to inherit all of humanity’s inborn grace and inherent sin.