Firewalkers by Adrian Tchaikovsky
English | 2020 | Sci – Fi | ePUB | 2.8 MB
Firewalkers Are Brave
Firewalkers Are Resourceful
Firewalkers Are Expendable
The Earth is burning. Nothing can survive at the Anchor; not without water and power. But the ultra-rich, waiting for their ride off the dying Earth? They can buy water. And thanks to their investment, the sun can provide power.
But someone has to repair the solar panels when they fail, down in the deserts below.
Kids like Mao, and Lupé, and Hotep; kids with brains and guts but no hope.
Children, because it looked better to the guests of the Roach Hotel if it was happy kids rushing around to grab their bundles of old notes. Because nobody wanted real desperate adults slugging it out for handfuls of cash. That might suggest that they weren’t happy with what they’d got.
Mao’d thought the flunkies were it, but there was a special treat in store for all the lucky people of Ankara Achouka. Mao saw some kind of argument going on within that great big space within the car, bigger than the room he shared with two sisters and a brother. The flunkies were protesting: no, go back, really ma’am, not appropriate. And then she appeared, a woman white-going-on-pink, with a broad-brimmed hat already wilting on her head. Her hair was like gold, like hair you only saw in adverts. Her sunglasses looked like poured mercury. She was waving back, basking not in the killing sun but in the adulation, listening to the crowd go barmy because some daughter of the Masserey-Van Bults had graced them with a personal appearance.
She threw something into the crowd—artless, awkward, but it reached the front ranks, almost brained some old boy, in fact. Not a wad of cash, this: something heavy. A plastic bottle, rich man’s water, the pure stuff. The inside of the car was probably lined with them.
There was a fight, after that. The half-brained old boy had the bottle, his neighbours wanted it, the people next to them… Then the gendarmes had just turned up out of nowhere in their riot suits and were whaling into the crowd and cracking heads, because this sort of unruly disorder before the eyes of the guests just would not do. And Mao was bitterly sure that the chief of police was going to nurse a long cool drink of rich man’s water this evening on his nice veranda, and that old boy was going to nurse nothing but a headache.
Then he looked at the Masserey-Van Bult girl, and she looked so stricken. She’d done a nice thing, hadn’t she? She’d shown the proper noblesse oblige. Except it had all gone wrong and now her day was ruined. He thought she’d actually stamp her little foot. But then she was back inside the car with her flunkies so the cool air could get flowing again, and the rest of the motorcade was passing the gates, and everyone went back to work or back to not having work, and then Balewa turned up and punched Mao in the shoulder. Balewa and Mao had grown up together, meaning they’d hated each other from ages five to fifteen. Then Mao had gone Firewalker and Balewa’s dad had pulled strings somehow to get his boy the coveted position of errand runner for Contrôleur Attah. In which role, inexplicably, Balewa had turned out to be a good friend, and to fondly remember all those times he and Mao had tried to beat the living shit out of each other. Which meant when Attah wanted a Firewalker crew, Balewa tried to get the word to Nguyễn Sun Mao.