Night Bird Soaring
By T. L. Morganfield
On his sixth birthday, Totyoalli’s parents took him to the holy city to see the Emperor Cuauhtemoc, but the plane ride proved the most exciting part. He kept his nose to the window, taking in the vast lands of the One World, from the snow-capped mountains of his home in the northern provinces to the open plains of Teotihuacan. He marveled at the miniature cities and cars passing below. All his life he’d dreamt of flying, ever since the first time he’d seen a bird gliding through the air.
From the airport, they took a cab to the royal palace on Lake Texcoco. Tenochtitlan, the single largest city in the world, sprawled around it for miles. The cab buzzed across one of the royal causeways, the water blue and shimmering in the hot sun. Inside the walled royal complex stood the Great Temple, meticulously maintained by a crew of thousands, its sacred Sun Stone keeping watch over the visiting crowds.
At the palace, two genetically-engineered royal jaguar knights escorted Totyoalli’s family to the Emperor’s gardens. Totyoalli watched their tails swish behind them, fascinated. Their heads looked so soft he wished to pat them between the ears, but when he tried to talk to them, they bared their fangs and gripped their spears a little tighter.