Kalam teetered over the edge of the world, ignoring the vertigo-inducing distance between him and the green smudge of a nation below. He inched his way over the sky-line, on bare feet, lips curled into a grimace. The sun-warmed bronze was slowly roasting his soles. He stopped, perfectly balanced, and checked his pocket-watch. Ten minutes to the rally, when the Vox Populi would storm the First Lady's Aerodrome. A Columbia Freight carriage trundled by on another sky-line. Kalam used it to triangulate his position and realized he still had a long way to go. He carefully placed one foot in front of the other and moved on, step by step, alone under the glare of the sun.
With eight minutes to go, he heard the Vox Populi on the wind. The voices of the people were indistinguishable from each other; all he could hear was a shrill yelling cacophony. He didn't have to imagine what was going on, having had been a part of it so many times. Flyers had been passed around before, and the people were probably already filing into a warehouse that would serve as the rendezvous. There would be mothers, fathers, children, the sort of people who had no idea what was about to ensue, and who would be dogged by unease throughout the early stages of the proceedings. When the rabble-rousers came - all men with big words - the crowd would find signs to brandish and crates of liquor to pass around. Of course, there would also be weapons, vigors and nostrums. Those would remain hidden until the riot broke out into the streets of Columbia.
Word was that Comstock had gotten wind of the plan, which was why Kalam was perched on a sky-line, only God knew how high. Comstock may have known about the riot, he might have the zeppelin ready to bring into the fray, but he couldn't possibly prepare for an acrobat insane enough to attack a zeppelin from above. With five minutes to go, Kalam was right over the spot through which the zeppelin would pass would have to pass, if his information was dependable. The voices were getting louder, coming from different places now. He knew they were in the streets from the way the shouting spread to multiple locations and found new voices to add to itself. He could see columns of black smoke rising from vandal fires above the city. The sounds of shattering windowpanes conflated with all the noise.
A tremulous whine began on the other side of Columbia, increasing in pitch and fury until the only thing Kalam could hear was the wailing of the siren.
Kalams body tightened like a spring. His eyes were fixed on the space beneath him, but his ears strained desperately to listen through the ear-piercing wail. He heard a stereo-magnified voice booming through the city. He couldn't make out the words, the siren jumbled them all into each other, but it sounded like Comstock. Kalam felt slightly sick. Then, distant popping gunfire. Three minutes too early. An angry crowd. Or Comstock with a pre-emptive attack. The smoke columns had thickened; something big was burning. Where was the zeppelin?
More sirens added their screams to the clamor, but then, all noise was drowned by a great buzzing sound, like that of a monstrous bee. A dark shape appeared, slowly rising as it dumped its ballast tanks. Kalam felt some of the tension unwind. He was used to seeing the zeppelins high above the city, out of reach of the tallest of spires. Until now, he hadn't believed he could get to it from a sky-line ,and carried with him the premonition that its guns would send the ragged bits of his body down to the abyss. But it would not be high enough to do that. Although he was relieved, he did not relax - the zeppelin was advancing with greater speed than its bulbous form suggested possible. The buzzing turned to thundering. Kalam, ears ringing, downed a bottle of Devils Kiss and held his hands aloft as they burst into flames.
The zeppelin started turning, its massive form sliding between the last two buildings. Kalam's blood drained from his body. He gaped at the zeppelin, at the bloody red words on its side. Our voice will be heard, they said. The shock almost made him fumble his footwork and fall off the sky-line. Had the Vox Populi commandeered it, and somewhere along the way, Kalam's giver of orders waylaid? Was it a feint engineered by Comstock, hoping to fool the rioters? It certainly wasn't meant to bamboozle Kalam; a sniper could have picked him off. Tormented by uncertainty, Kalam watched the zeppelin approach for a few precious seconds. It was almost at the spot. To let it pass, possibly to mow down the riot with mortar-fire? Or to take it down and risk killing friends?
The zeppelin's nose passed underneath the skyline. Kalam could no longer hear his own thoughts in his head. Behind him, fireworks blew up in the sky, flinging red and blue stars. The colors of Columbia. Thats what it was all for, wasnt it?
There was no room for deliberation.
(This story is my submission to Gamespot's Bioshock Infinite Creative Writing Contest.)