Author : Sam Clough aka “Hrekka”, Featured Writer

Underneath the great, grinding cogwheels of the Clockwork Battlements, clandestine schemes were devised, great plans worked out, and many betrayals came to pass. Out of the four main battlements, all but the southernmost were under the firm, unyielding hand of the Clan Engineers. The smallest, southern battlement was, for all intents and purposes theirs as well, but the flag that flew above it was that of Clan Aerospace.

I ran along behind Dixie. We were both wearing uniforms of Clan Engineer, and her bare arms were completely covered with tattoos – delicate structural diagrams, as was the trend at the time among the Engineer clan. My uniform revealed less skin, which was intentional. Dixie’s ‘tattoos’ were easy to remove, given five minutes. The tattoos on my upper arms and across my back were of the permanent variety. It was a risk, of course. They weren’t Engineer tattoos, but were those of Clan Deepground.

We were southbound, running across the hightops of the Clockwork. We leapt from a half-fallen catwalk onto a huge, slowly rotating cog. The teeth were easily a metre and a half deep, and I quickly judged the cog to be at least twenty-five metres in diameter, tooth to tooth. It meshed with a much faster, smaller cog. This worried me. It didn’t seem to disconcert Dixie. She pulled herself up onto the top of the tooth, and helped me up with one hand. We leapt together, and ran across the top of the next cog – the teeth were just as deep, but spaced closer together, so we could easily hop from one to the next. The axle looked as thick as a tree trunk. About five metres above it, a ledge had been carved into the wall, easily wide enough to stand on. She pointed to it, and leapt. She made it. I took the jump.

I nearly made it.

I caught the edge with my hands. One of my feet slipped down, searching for a foothold. It found one – the axle of the cogwheel. There was a split-second of blinding pain as my foot was crushed and thrown away, down onto the floor of the battlement. Dixie was there, locking her hands around my forearms, dragging me up onto the ledge. She was saying something, but I couldn’t hear it.

I was only unconscious for forty-five seconds, or so Dixie told me later.

I looked down. My foot was back. And my clothes were different. Dixie’s were the same cut as before, but the Clan Engineer tattoos had changed. They were now Aerospace patterns.

Dixie held up a disk of yellow metal, and grinned her toothy smile.

“New code, fresh as the morning dew. Thought this would be as good a time as any to get our new looks on,” she dragged me to my feet.

I pointed to my new foot.

“Like I said. New code,” she said, and smiled again. “Come on. We have an appointment to keep.”

This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows
365 Tomorrows Merchandise: The 365 Tomorrows Store
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow