The cool breeze whipped through her fiery hair as the sun reflected off her brass goggles she wore atop her head. The sunlight warmed her freckled cheeks, making her lips form a smile. Today was the perfect day; the perfect day to test her new invention.
"Hoy! Comrade! Are you in position?" The girl with long, flowing orange hair tied into a ponytail stood at the edge of a cliff and hollered, looking out to the sky and the ocean of clouds beyond with her bright, luminescent green eyes. This young woman of 18 years is known as Victoria Finley, an aspiring inventor who dreams of following in her father's footsteps of taking over the family mechanic business. She glanced around the sky surrounding her, which was scattered with floating masses of land, some chained together and connected by rickety wooden bridges. The larger islands were equipped with massive propellers on the underside to support the weight of the houses built on top.
Victoria looked down and saw Comrade on a lower island on some sort of contraption that appeared to be a bicycle with a propeller attached to the front, and mechanical wings on either side of the handle bars. A third wing was secured on the back of the flying machine, presumably for balance. Comrade was the same age as Victoria, and was her closest friend. The young male was tall and slightly built, with messy brown hair and glowing amber eyes. He often carried some sort of weapon with him, usually his father's rifle. His arms and legs were decorated with small scars, and he was often sporting multiple bandages, as he was rather clumsy.
Comrade gave Victoria a sharp salute, followed by a crooked smile. He was ready. Victoria marched away from the edge of the small floating mass of earth. Once she was a reasonable distance away, she turned around to face the sky once more. She pulled her goggles over her eyes, tightened her elbow-length gloves, and adjusted the straps that were wrapped around her upper torso. Attached to these straps on her back, was her new invention - a mechanical set of wings. Two hollow cylinders were tightly fastened to the contraption as well, for extra lift support. The sleek metal wings were closed for the moment - she had to open them at just the right time, or else she could end up falling through the mysterious cloud floor beneath them.
'Well, here goes nothing.' she thought. The young inventor took a deep breath, and broke out into a sprint. The cliff approached faster and faster, daring her to jump. Just as she reached the edge, she squeezed her eyes shut and pushed off the side with her last stride, giving her an extra boost. Forcing her eyes open, she reached behind her and pulled two cords at once, spreading the great metal wings wide open. Their copper finish gleamed bright under the Sun's rays, like a new coin. The sudden opening of the wings caught Victoria in mid air, making her head lurch forwards painfully. She winced, but proceeded to pull a third cord, intending to start the steam-powered engines within the flying machine. She grabbed hold of the cord and yanked, but nothing happened. Victoria froze. How was she supposed to fly with no power? Panicking, she jerked the cord again. A sputter protruded from the engines, but they didn't start.
Victoria didn't know what to do. She had forgotten everything she was supposed to do in case of an emergency. All she could think about was the engines. 'The engines won't start. The engines won't start. I'm going to die!' These thoughts were clouding her brain, continually becoming louder and louder. 'What do I do? What do I DO?!'
Though she was gliding through the air, courtesy of her wings, she was still dropping at an alarming rate. Convinced that her life was nearly over, she closed her eyes tight once more. All she could hear was the cold air rushing past her, and the distant sound of grinding gears and heavy flapping. Though it was strange, she thought, that the familiar sound happened to be approaching her at an alarming rate. She couldn't quite remember what made that sound - many things she knew of made grinding sounds, but what about the flapping? The noise was now coming from below her, slowing down to her speed. Curious as to what it may be, she opened her eyes, and through her goggles, she could see her best friend, pedaling like a maniac on the flying bicycle to keep it airborne. Everything was flooding back to her now, she remembered what she was supposed to do. Victoria snapped the wings shut, and positioned herself in mid-air to land on the bike. With a rather painful thud, she managed to make it onto the edge of the seat and wrap her arms tightly around Comrade's waist. Her eyes were closed once again as she rested her head on his shoulder blade. She was okay, not counting a few cuts and bruises, but she didn't care. She was still breathing, and she'd never felt so alive.
* * *
"Victoria, don't be so reckless! You could have died! What would your mother say if she knew you were running around jumping off the edge of the world?"
"That's why I had Comrade with me, father, in case something went wrong! You and I both know that we can trust him to pull through."
"But what if he didn't pull through, Victoria? What if he didn't catch you, and you fell through the clouds? You'd be leaving your old man alone, with nothing but his work to keep him company." Victoria's father's voice started to weaken. "Victoria, I'm... I'm not angry with you. I'm just worried about your safety. After all, you're all I have left..." Victoria noticed tears welling up in her father's sparkling blue eyes, behind his tiny spectacles.
"I'm sorry, father... I'll try to be more careful next time..." She squeaked as her father embraced her, tears now welling in her own emerald-green eyes.
Victoria's father was a tall, slightly heavy man, with a bushy grey mustache upon his lip. All of the hair that was left on his head had turned a silver-grey colour. His large hands had been stained by grease from working in the shop for so many years, and he had many wrinkles on his face from smiling. Though, Victoria noticed he hasn't smiled very often since her mother had passed away just over eight years ago. Instead, she found him staying up late, sitting in his chair, with that familiar expression of deep thought on his aged face: sitting hunched forwards, his hands together over his mouth, and his brow rather furrowed.
"You have your mother's eyes", he'd always say. In fact, nearly everyone in Henesis told Victoria that. All of the villagers knew her mother, though it wasn't surprising. She had a kind heart, and was always willing to lend a hand to someone in need.
"There's something I'd like to show you, in my workshop." her father managed to choke out. "Shall we go?"
Together, they headed outside, the moonlight illuminating their trail from the house to the workshop. The night was clear and crisp, and the stars beamed their twinkling faces down from the sky above. Victoria's mother used to sit outside with her and watch the stars on nights like this. They would search for constellations, and occasionally a shooting star would rocket by, leaving a trail of space dust in it's wake.
They entered the small workshop through a wide metal door. Victoria wandered inside and unbuckled the straps of her flying machine, and slipped it off of her shoulders. Her father made his way around the oddly-shaped room, carefully stepping over things that had been left strewn about, and lit the kerosene lamps that hung from the high ceiling. The moon's silver rays shone through the skylight, making the metal dust on the floor glimmer like stars.
Victoria let her eyes adjust to the darkness of the musty workshop, when she noticed her father beckoning her over and motioning for her to sit down around the small work desk. She took a seat on a tall stool, and her father pulled out a small box encrusted with tiny amber gems. Slowly, he unlocked the latch that held the box closed and raised the lid. Inside, surrounded by deep red velvet cloth, lay a gorgeous, shining, pocket watch. The designs carved on the cover were beautiful and intricate, forming a majestic phoenix.
"This pocket watch belonged to your mother, Victoria. It is my most valuable possession..." Her father spoke slowly.
Victoria reached out slowly and scooped up the watch, holding it in her palms. Attached to it, was a long, glistening chain. The room was dead silent, with the exception of a hollow ticking emanating from the device held in her hands. She clicked the button on top and it flipped open, revealing twelve roman numerals all the way around the edge covered in a glass face that reflected her own. On the inside cover, a message was engraved in the metal.
" 'Every storm has an end'..." She muttered as she read the words inside the pocket watch, not taking her eyes off of it.
"In this world, Victoria, every storm has an end, and every night brings a new day." Her father started, "In your darkest hours, you must remember what is important: to trust the ones you love, and never give up hope."
Victoria looked up at him, and saw his face. It was very serious.
"Victoria, my dear, you should get some rest... you've had a rather, er... eventful day. Please, sleep."
"Right... I will see you tomorrow then." Victoria placed the watch back into the box encrusted with amber jewels, and stood up out of her chair. "Goodnight father." She turned and left the shop through the large door, closing it behind her. She stood there for a moment, reflecting on everything that happened earlier in the day. Shaking her head, she started back towards the house. The silvery moonlight illuminated the cloud floor beneath the floating isles of Henesis.
'Tomorrow is a new day,' she thought, 'and this time, I won't fail.'