Years ago, Dr. Tacyon created Rad City as an infinite power source, but when his apocalyptic predictions proved false, The Arc, the city's power source, became useless. However, not everyone has forgotten the old invention.
If the steam from the train did not choke her to death, it would be the dust in the air. There was a layer of it thick enough to obscure the looming city above. Alacritous had to crane her neck to see it. Barely visible in the constricting dust, the shield-shaped visage of Rad City could be discerned, holding itself in the sky. It was a marvel of aviation technology.
69 years after its creation, it was a relic.
The train with the skull on the front and the lamentable wail pulled out behind her, kicking up more dust. Alacritous raised an arm to shield her face. Following suit of a few other stragglers, she stepped into the desert.
“Hey!” she said to a nearby commuter. “Are the shuttles even still running up there?”
“Of course they are,” answered an older man. “We didn't just take a three-hour train ride into the desert for nothing.”
Alacritous spoke with the old man on the way. He said he was a tradesman, and that not many people, but old traders came to the city in the sky anymore. It was nice to see a young face, he had said. Very nice.
“I heard this place has been falling apart since the Ark Crisis," said Alacritous.
“Oh, certainly," said the tradesman. "I didn't say the ride up was safe.”
A line of shuttle stood at an ancient docking station. Alacritous climbed creaking wooden steps. She approached one of the one-man capsules. In its heyday, it had been a luxurious way to ascend to the city. Now, the egg-shaped dome looked ready to collapse with its own weight. Bolts threatened to come undone from panels, the door squealed in protest to being opened, and the upholstery inside was shredded. Inside, it reeked of old leather.
“If you crash and burn, I want that necklace you have there.” The trader pointed to the metal fork on her chest. Alacritous grasped it in her hand.
“You better hope I'm good and dead, then,” she said. The shuttle door closed abruptly, and an intercom spoke. “PLEASE PREPARE FOR DEPARTURE. FASTEN ARMS AND LEGS INTO THE BRACES TO INSURE SAFE ARRIVAL.”
She could just see the man laughing through a scratched porthole on the door as the pod began to vibrate violently.
“It's just gonna go?!” she said, eyes darting around the capsule.
She began searching furiously for the braces the intercom mentioned. There were four in all for her wrists and ankles. In a desperate frenzy, she'd managed three of them, but one arm was still free.
“How am I supposed to-”
That was her last thought before her stomach met her brain and gravity seemed like a cruel joke. Over the sound of her screams, the rocket engine roared, and the capsule hurtled higher and higher. The dust outside the porthole disappeared in a mad vacuum as the blue sky shined through the glass, and a warning signal blared.
“NOW ENTERING THE ARK. ALL PERSONNEL REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO THEIR RESPECTIVE STATIONS AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”