As her mind settled back into the present, Dido touched the metal cylinder tied to her arm. Luckily there was a protective cover for the button, or else she probably would’ve set off the grappling hook twice already. Weighing the options in her mind, she decided she’d better save it for later. Reaching back and opening the clasp on a pouch off her belt, Dido pulled out a handful of white powder. Rubbing her hands together, the powder sucked the moisture off them. Taking a half dozen steps back, she ran forward and threw herself through the air at the cliff face.
A jutting piece of the cliff knocked the air out of her, but Dido managed to latch on with both hands. As her feet scratched the rock below her, looking for purchase, she was worried that someone in the building she’d just jumped off might hear and investigate. As soon as she found firm footholds, she started climbing. The rough rock was a few degrees short of perfectly vertical, but it might as well have been.
Her arms burned as Dido pulled herself higher into the night. As she neared the top, the second advantage of this approach came into view. Not only was the steep climb up to the Hill completely unguarded, but it was only topped by a low stone wall. Apparently the powers that be didn’t think anyone would climb up this way.
Dido pulled herself on top of the wall, keeping her body pressed flat so she wouldn’t be silhouetted against the sky. A forest of gears and pistons was the first she saw of the Arboreal District. The smell of grease and the feel of steam were familiar, and for a moment she felt like she was back in the factory. Dido carefully wrapped her scarf over her face and pulled her hood up before she went any farther. It’d been good to let her head feel the open air and it’d helped her keep an eye all around as she climbed, but up here there were potential witnesses everywhere.
Grabbing hold of a gear spinning overhead, she pulled herself up before the large teeth crashed into another nearby machine. With the world spinning before her eyes, Dido let her vision slip out of focus so she wouldn’t get dizzy. As she swung back around again, she jumped onto a piston that was leaking steam from every crevice. Skipping off the metal cylinder before it could shudder back into motion, she landed on a small brick building. The maze of gears and machines all around her was obviously part of the behind the scenes guts that kept the wheels of the Hill turning. While she was sorry her first glimpse of paradise hadn’t been a pretty one, at least she was safe from prying eyes.
Dido paused for a moment on the brick maintenance shed, looking for a path that hopefully wouldn’t end up with her being crushed. After a full minute of staring, she found it. She stood up and stepped onto a nearby moving gear. Riding it down, she ducked under some kind of mechanical arm she didn’t know how to describe. After that, she crab walked around another couple gears and reached a brick wall. Shining out over the top of the wall was light. It seemed brighter than high noon.
Getting a running head start, Dido’s boots rasped on the coarse bricks as she scampered up the wall. Throwing a hand up, she managed to get her fingers on top. She had to reach up three times with her other hand before she could get a grip. From there, she only had to slip her toes between some of the cracks before she could start pulling herself the rest of the way up. As her head passed over the wall, she almost fell over backwards in shock.