| ||The movement started slowly at first, but soon expanded exponentially into every part of life. The old commuter train that bore Light to his exile was bought and the track scrapped and recycled to make way for a shining electromagnetic bullet train. Sleek and silver, it tore through the city like a volt across a wire, and as quickly as it moved, the city was transformed around it.
Beneath the hammers of Wily's new army of metal workmen, buildings were razed to the ground, leveled in a single morning. New foundations were laid in the same afternoon. Structures, metal frames piercing the clouds, were erected before nightfall. Glass and steel wrapped the frames before the sun rose the next day. Then the armies of machines would move onto the next task. Never stopping. Never slowing. Never resting.
Morning after morning, the men and women of the city awoke to find a bright new world. Everything was remade. Made better. Made brighter. The streets were swept. The undesirables, the homeless, the criminal element of the city, systematically vanished.
The single screen on top of the tower sent out signals to the now hundreds of satellite screens. The factories were fully automated. The mines run entirely by machine. The men that found themselves suddenly living lives of leisure crowded the bars, slowly imbibing the generous severances they'd received, not so much as a single ill word grumbled towards their replacements. The city was a bright and shining beacon of light... a steel-plated heaven.
A generation grew up within the metal arms that embraced the city. The older generations never told them what the city looked like before the machines. Why would they? What good could come from telling the children of the type of dark, filthy, and dangerous world that men create when left to their own devices? That once men slaved away deep inside the earth, risking death for the sake of survival. That once women left their children, still asleep in their beds, to grind away mindless hours in the factories, sacrificing family to secure necessities.
This new world was so perfect that it seemed dangerous to speak of the old world. As if this new city, sprung from a sea of darkness, was balanced on a single point, teetering on a crucial ignorance. It seemed that any misstep, any wrong word, could topple the city, sinking it back in the sea, that dark abyss of human suffering, leaving them with nothing. After all, they were not the creators of this world. They were merely the recipients of a gift. A gift given to them by a single man and his countless steel hands. And just as easily as it was given, couldn't it be taken away?
An unspoken fear dangled above the heads of every man and woman. Keeping them silent. Keeping them safe.
Even so, rumors started. Ghost stories of a demon. A beast with a single red eye. He that would pluck you from your bed at night if you were found with a dissenting word on your tongue. Mothers told children to stay close as they traveled through the streets, keep a smile on their faces, and never speak ill of the machines.
A generation grew up inside the metal hands that gently circled the neck of the city. Some of them grew up hating the city, fearing the machines. There was one boy in particular. His name was Joe.