"So yer a liar then, is it Lily?!"
"I'm sorry miss, I mean Lady, it's just, I just..."
"...it's just that you wanted to see the sky, I know. I've heard it all before sweet'art." said Thricetin, but she released the girl from her grasp and ran the hand through her own graying hair. "You wouldn't be the first orphan to want to see it, my girl..."
Lily knew she had escaped a cuff round the head. The old Lady's tempers never lasted long.
"No miss?" said Lily, though she was still cautious.
"No. Why, half the kids that come here've never even seen the sky, not the lower sky anyway, for they've been locked up, trapped in that, that pit they call London..."
At this point the woman gestured violently, towards the crushing bulk of London, the city that floated in the sky about half a mile away. The whole city was ball-shaped, like a man-made planet, the top half a glittering district of silver and ivory buildings, a place of marble-columned universities, gilded banks, hotels and of course Big Ben, the elegant clock-tower that was by far the tallest, built on the very, very top of the sphere-shaped London.
The underside of this sphere was dark and murky however, the people there kept from falling off the bottom of the city thanks to the influence of regravity fields, fields that also kept the black, coiling fumes of industry close to the curved streets. Here, amongst the murk, was where the labourers lived, where the prisons and workhouses stood next to brothels brimming with cackling whores and corrupt old men. It was here, amongst the smog, where the street lamps burned like sickly ghosts, here that Lily had been found, stripped of her clothes and her memories, her blood spattered everywhere...
"….in London," Lady Thricetin continued, "right in the dank depths of that sphere-city, right where the hell is, where the kids stoke them boilers in the blistering workhouses, starving, bony little things who'll never get out, never get to see the clouds below, not with that bloody smog that chokes their eyes."
"That's horrible miss..."
"Indeed it is young Lily, and make no mistake. Which is why we're doing something about this nasty little government of ours. Have you got your stuff ready?"
"No miss, sorry miss I was..."
"How old are you now Lily?"
"Four'een? By the Lord Mayor, when I was four'een I could break a man's neck with my bare 'ands, could drink and smoke and deal cards in a heartbeat, and you can't even get ready? It's good job that I packed for you then isn't it?"
"Yes miss, yes miss..." Lady Thricetin grumbled, swinging a snakeskin bag from her shoulder and rummaging away inside.
"Pistol." the woman said, pulling out a gun from the bag's shadows and plonking it in Lily's hands.