Skyward (Skyward #1) - Brandon Sanderson
Only fools climbed to the surface. It was stupid to put yourself in danger like that, my mother always said. Not only were there near-constant debris showers from the rubble belt, but you never knew when the Krell would attack.
Of course, my father traveled to the surface basically every day—he had to, as a pilot. I supposed by my mother’s definition that made him extra foolish, but I always considered him extra brave.
I was still surprised when one day, after years of listening to me beg, he finally agreed to take me up with him.
I was seven years old, though in my mind I was completely grown-up and utterly capable. I hurried after my father, carrying a lantern to light the rubble-strewn cavern. A lot of the rocks in the tunnel were broken and cracked, most likely from Krell bombings—things I’d experienced down below as a rattling of dishes or trembling of light fixtures.
I imagined those broken rocks as the broken bodies of my enemies, their bones shattered, their trembling arms reaching upward in a useless gesture of total and complete defeat.
I was a very odd little girl.
I caught up to my father, and he looked back, then smiled. He had the best smile, so confident, like he never worried about what people said about him. Never worried that he was weird or didn’t fit in.
Then again, why should he have worried? Everyone liked him. Even people who hated ice cream and playing swords—even whiny little Rodge McCaffrey—liked my father.
Father took me by the arm and pointed upward. “Next part is a little tricky. Let me lift you.”
“I can do it,” I said, and shook off his hand. I was grown-up. I’d packed my own backpack and had left Bloodletter, my stuffed bear, at home. Stuffed bears were for babies, even if you’d fashioned your own mock power armor for yours out of string and broken ceramics.
Granted, I had put my toy starfighter in my backpack. I wasn’t crazy. What if we ended up getting caught in a Krell attack and they bombed our retreat, so we had to live out the rest of our lives as wasteland survivors, devoid of society or civilization?
A girl needed her toy starfighter with her just in case.
I handed my backpack to my father and looked up at the crack in the stones. There was . . . something about that hole up there. An unnatural light seeped through it, wholly unlike the soft glow of our lanterns.
The surface . . . the sky! I grinned and started climbing up a steep slope that was part rubble, part rock formation. My hands slipped and I scraped myself on a sharp edge, but I didn’t cry. The daughters of pilots did not cry.
The crack in the cavern roof looked a hundred meters away. I hated being so small. Any day now, I was going to grow tall like my father. Then for once I wouldn’t be the smallest kid around. I’d laugh at everyone from up so high, they’d be forced to admit how great I was.
I growled softly as I got to the top of a rock. The next hand-hold was out of reach. I eyed it. Then I jumped, determined. Like a good Defiant girl, I had the heart of a stardragon.
But I also had the body of a seven-year-old. So I missed by a good half meter.
A strong hand seized me before I could fall too far. My father chuckled, holding me by the back of my jumpsuit, which I’d painted with markers to look like his flight suit. I had even drawn a pin on the left over my heart, like the one he wore—the pin that marked him as a pilot. It was in the shape of a small starfighter with lines underneath.
Father pulled me onto the rock beside him, then reached out with his free hand and activated his light-line. The device looked like a metal bracelet, but once he engaged it by tapping two fingers against his palm, the band glowed with a bright molten light. He touched a stone above, and when he drew his hand back, it left a thick line of light like a shining rope fixed to the rock. He wrapped the other end around me so it fit snugly under my arms, then detached it from his bracelet. The glow there faded, but the luminescent rope remained in place, attaching me to the rocks.
I’d always thought light-lines should burn to the touch, but it