the prequel chronicles: sky

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Before the revolution started, and before she met Alec Corbett, Sky Turner was a girl in a city of thousands. Until the day she took control of her own destiny....

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    Sky

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    The panic in the street was tangible. Swarms of people clung around the makeshift market stalls like pigeons to a scattering of crumbs. The rabble of voices and booming cries of the sellers drowned out anything else. Old empty oil drums threw flickers of heat out into the stiff, stale air. The Sphere overhead might well keep heat inside the city for most of the year, but the winters were still bitter. She held the bundle close to her chest, wrapping it in the feeble layers of a grey, woolen coat that was two sizes too small. People wriggled and writhed along the crowded street on either side, but she was so small that she cut through them like the prow of a ship through water. Then suddenly she was ejected out of the masses. Sky Turner stumbled free and took a moment to catch her breath. Away from all the bodies, it was even colder. At least in the busy market street everyone had shared their warmth, albeit unwillingly. It was about the only thing anyone in the City of London would share. Things were so tight that people would

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    fight over the smallest scrap of anything. Sky held the bundle even tighter and pressed on. She passed by the old Houses of Parliament; the crumble wreck of an era long since gone. The clock tower stood tall but with no pride; the clock that had once chimed throughout the day had fallen silent many decades ago. The clock face was all-but-gone; ravaged by an old fire. Even so, it surprised Sky that it had been allowed to stand; if only the Board of Officials knew what it meant for the people below it. With the old river behind her, Sky continued into the older parts of the city. All the buildings: the solid, imposing white structures had faded to grey. Their windows were boarded over and they looked derelict. But Sky knew, inside those walls, were families and crowds of strangers banded together, protected from the cold and surviving together, side-by-side. She took a turn and weaved into the back streets. The tall, twisted Liberty Tower snuck in and out of view between the buildings on the other side of the old river. The Governments main facility was the tallest thing around. Even in the cold, winter air it still managed to gleam and shimmer: a beacon of torment. Her street was ghostly quiet, like in the apocalypse stories her mother had read to her when she was younger. Although of course now there was no need for fiction. They were living the apocalypse, or at least on the very fringe of one. Sky burst through the sheltered front door of her familys home, stamping her feet on the other side of the threshold as if

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    to dispense the cold. As she looked up she sensed the tightening grip of a silence in the room shed just entered. Her eyes met with those of about twenty other people that were crowded into the living room. They stood around the old metal dustbin in the centre; its blackened interior aglow with the heat of a small fire. There was a lid on top of it with a ragged, pipework chimney they ran across the ceiling and out through a rough hole in the wall. Her father stood at the centre of the congregation. His face was a mixture of emotion: a slight smile at the sight of his daughter returned safely, but a furrow on his brow at being interrupted. Sky flashed a small smile in his direction before dipping her head and scurrying into the kitchen, where she joined her mother and two siblings. As she shut the kitchen door she heard the voices begin to rise again. Its the third meeting this week her mother tutted softly, shook her head and returned her attention to her two younger children. Your father is going to get noticed if hes not careful. Its market day Sky exhaled as she unwrapped herself from the confines of her coat. The bundle which shed protected so closely tumbled into her hers. Her mother whirled back to face her. What did you get? she asked with heated anticipation. Sky stretched out her open arms and delivered the parcel. Inside was some fresh bread, a few unlabeled silver tins and two

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    thinly knitted jumpers. To say the jumpers were second hand was an understatement. The wear on them was evident in the small holes and the faded colouring. But they would do perfect for Ashley and Meg. The place was crawling with Government Guards; father doesnt have to worry today. I worry everyday her mother replied. She ran a weary hand gently down Skys face and smiled a smile warmer than any fire. Her eyes were aglow with adoration. Thank you, sweetheart. You know I dont mind. Id work, if youd let me Sky said in earnest, helping herself to a little of the bread shed just provided. Her mother stayed silent for a moment whilst she settled Skys younger siblings into their new jumpers. When she next turned back to Sky, her expression had shifted and she could see that her mother was unhappy. Well, about that. As she started speaking Sky could see that her mother was struggling. She had always been a very proud woman and it pained her that Sky had to go rummaging around the market: dipping, diving and swiping what she could. It would almost be better if she could do it herself and spare Sky the danger. But her days of crawling under tables and weaving between peoples legs were long behind her. Sky, you know how weve always managed to get by. Sky nodded. The bread in her mouth became slightly dry and she chewed more slowly.

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    Your father and I, were struggling. Quite a lot. We appreciate so much all that you do for us but Its not enough Skys face fell sullen. No! her mother stood up from her chair and swooped to embrace Sky in her arms. Sky, you go above and beyond for us. Its just that were not going to survive the winter on petty theft. I cant work and your fathers all caught up in his silly meetings. Theyre not silly Sky said defensively. She held her mother back a little so as to look her in the eye. Something will come of them, youll see. Skys mother shook her head gently. Everyone is too tired and weak to stand up to the Board and their Governments on Earth. Yesterday I saw someone hand over their groceries because they lacked the energy to fight for them. Where are people supposed to find the fuel for a revolution? Sky shrugged heavily. It just needssomething. It only takes a footstep to cause an avalanche. Skys mother stepped back and smiled proudly. You are wise beyond your years, young ladywhich is why you father and I were thinking that you could go to work. You know I want to Sky replied merrily. Its not a problem. We hate to make you. Youre not making me. Youre only sixteen Almost seventeen. Its just so tough

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    Mum Sky stood up sternly. Its okay. I want to work. Work or be a part of what dad is organizing. I know which youd prefer. Sky pursed her lips challenging but they soon crept up into a grin. Dont tease me, Sky her mother replied tenderly. My heart can barely cope with the world were in, let alone making it even more dangerous! Now help me with dinner, well eat once youre fathers finished in there.

    Two That night had been bitterly cold. Sky and her family huddled together around the fire pit in their living room. A circle of warmth embraced them but beyond it the air was icy cold. Frost gripped the net curtains that covered the window and froze them stiff. They were woken earlier than usual by frantic knocking on the door. Before her father had a chance to get up and open it, it was flung inward and a man stumbled into the room. Through tired eyes, Sky recognised him as one of her fathers closest friends. Im so sorry, Fred he gushed, swiping his flat cap off his head and clutching it in his hands, as if this gesture might make his abrupt entrance more respectful. Its, its okay her fathered stammered as he flicked off the thick blanket and got to his feet. The cold rushed into the void

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    hed left behind and Sky was immediately awake, like a bucket of cold water to the face. Theyre marching over Westminster Bridge. Theyre going to bulldoze the Elizabeth Tower Big Ben is going to fall. Sky had never seen her father move so fast. He splashed water onto his face and swept around their small living quarters like a madman; dashing up and down the stairs, in and out of the kitchen, all the while barking instructions at his friend. Gather everyone on the north side of the bridge he said frantically as he hopped into his shoes. Make sure their families stay indoors, we dont want other casualties. Casualties? Skys mother interjected. Fred, what are you doing? Theyre not taking the clock tower. Fred, its just a clock. He shook his head adamantly and passion ignited behind his eyes. Dont say that. You know its more than that. Its our symbol, our flagship. If it falls then Fred looked solemnly at his friend, who replaced his flat cap and was standing in the open doorway. I dont wish to think what that will do to morale. I want to come Sky stepped forward. Discreetly shed been slipping into her shoes and buttoning up her coat tightly over her chest. I want to help. Fred Turner smiled. He reached down and held his daughters face in his hands. Help me by staying here. I need

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    you to look after your siblings. Your mother needs you here. Please, Sky, stay. Sky bit her lip and gave a small, reluctant nod. She would have argued, and could have she had a whole speech prepared. But she could see the desperation in her fathers eyes and how keen he was to leave as soon as possible. She would only hold him back and delay him, which would only dama