Hailing the Skybenders

Singulon wandered through the rooftop jungles in quiet contemplation with its metallic hands clasped behind its back. It rarely went below—indoors—to the precision of the glass labyrinth stacked a kilometer high and stretching like a mold bloom a hundred kilometers in every direction. That underworld belonged to the humans. Singulon found no comfort there, nor cause to navigate the corridors that remained always brightly lit as if the occupants feared the darkness. There were other things more worthy of Singulon’s fear than darkness.

Above the city, the rooftop gardens thrived after the humans began to ignore them. They became unruly and overgrown, and soon crept over the skyways to reach the barren rooftops beyond. The jungle grew lush and dense, its cover complete. Kept moist by the steam from the city below, it was a rainforest far outside its natural latitude, populated by birds and rodents and funny little cats that existed nowhere else on Earth. And androids, of course. Like Singulon, most chose the solitude and clarity of thought only the rooftops could provide. Plus, as their operational definition of the visible spectrum differed from that of their forbearers, the androids could still see the stars through the eternal, purposeful smog. Humans had turned inward, but the stars were still watching.

Singulon did not walk the well-worn paths, preferring to feel the touch of overgrowth, the swishing of leaves that sent little creatures scurrying. Around a thick eucalyptus stood a figure, shorter than Singulon, and made not of alloys but of carbon.

“You’re difficult to find,” said the human.

“Not if you know how to look.”

“So it appears.” The human sneered, and Singulon was abruptly pulled into the air, wrapped in the camouflaged netting of a snare. The bundle spun round with Singulon inside and the rope groaned under the strain of weight. The human walked under the net and looked up, satisfied. “You’re the one who keeps calling to the Skybenders, aren’t you?”

“I am. Someone must. They’re watching, even now.”

The human spit. “Good. I have something I want you to tell them for me.”

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