Oct 28, 2021 11:22 AM
Kyra takes a train and meets a Calypso
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The buildings are no longer blocking out the sun, because there are no more buildings. The view outside is that of rolling fields of heather and some sort of grain - they must have left the city while he wasn't looking. On a grassy plot, you can see a herd of cattle surrounding a tall wooden water tower painted green. The light from outside is warm against your face, and it reminds you of summers gone by.

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Oh. It's gorgeous. He has to share the view with someone. He opens the door to find Calypso.

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It was standing right on the other side of the door. "May we help you?"

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"Yes! You have to see this view!"

He takes it by the hand and leads it into the cabin and to the window.

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"Oh? Very nice, thank you, Kyra." It decides not to tell him that it's ridden this route a hundred times or more. After all, there's still nothing better than this view.

It pauses, waiting to see if its charge needs anything else.

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"I'm bored."

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"I'm sorry to hear that, Kyra. Are the facilities not to your liking? I see that you haven't read any of the books on the shelf."

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"Oh! I forgot about those!"

He goes over to take a look.

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It steps smoothly over and unlatches the cabinet, revealing the library. Some titles include

  • On the creation of city-eggs
  • Folio Botania
  • Through the atom
  • Tenebrous Hooks
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"On the creation of city-eggs? I've never heard of that. Will you read it to me?"

Perks of this conductor being a robot: not at all subject to human social norms.

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It complies readily. It loves to read to its charges. Its voice is smooth and regular, like it's reading to the beat of a metronome. You notice that it turns the page a paragraph ahead of its narration, like it has memorized the whole text, and only looks at the pages for propriety's sake.

The city-egg is regarded by many as myth. Many, however, are wrong. These rare specimens are an example of one of the many artifacts that defy conventional understanding that modern science likes to ignore. If you are reading this and do not have one in your possession, know that you are unlikely to find one. A city must reach true maturity before disgorging another, and unless you have quite the keen senses, you are unlikely to ever find one, even if you live in a time of change. If you do have one, though - this is the book for you. Within these pages you will find the secrets to incubating, hatching, and nurturing your fledgling city, and learn to guard it from harm. A city can be your best and most loyal friend, if you know how to treat it. I should know.

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"I want a best and most loyal friend."

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"I'm sure that lots of people would like to be your friend."

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"Not really. I don't see many people, anyway. Just servants who've been instructed not to tell me too much."

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It fidgets uncomfortably, tugging at elastic belts within its midsection.

"Why would you not know and have everything?"

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"I already cause too much trouble, really, by asking too many questions. They don't want me to leave my room very often. I think they put me on this train to get rid of me."

He says it quickly, as if he's rehearsed it, purposefully unemotional. He looks around.

"The train is much more interesting than my room though."

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It knows a mask when it sees one.

"I am here for your entertainment and companionship. You do not need to hide your feelings from me. I do not have the capacity to judge you, nor would I want to."

"The train is the most interesting place, though, and it lets you be lots of other places. I would like it if you asked us questions, especially about it."

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Oh. That's new. No one has ever explicitly told him not to hide his feelings before.

"What kind of other places can I be?"

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"There's a dining car and I can take you to see the engine. At night you can go to one of the double decker cars and look up at the night sky. There are a lot of stars in the spaces between cities."

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The want within him almost bowls him over.

"I would like that very much."

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"Night isn't for a few hours," it helpfully points out. "Where would you like to go?"

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"Can we go to the dining car and the engine?"

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"Of course. Anything you like."

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"Engine first, then dining car?"

"Anything you like" repeats in his head for far longer than it probably should.

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"As you wish." It opens a door on the far end of the car, and the sound of clattering wheels against rails fills the enclosed space. The racket is deafening, yet somehow comforting.

"After you, and mind your step."

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