They were everywhere, either on the news or in the papers, their images flickering across image boards and forums across the globe. Men and women in windbreakers on metal bodies like humans, rolling across streets and racetracks with speed and relative ease. To Rin, they were as inconsequential as background noise, a wall of static. Ridebacks: even the name sparked no interest in her mind. Then again, not much did.

(---and all she could see was her body, falling, dropping onto a polished floor, the lights becoming brighter overhead as the music played on---)

She eventually stopped thinking about it, and the images fell from her mind. And that was all right with her, the machines drawing back into the periphery. Rin had more important things to worry about, like friends and school and recovery. And finding her way somewhere, as long as it was some place where the people looked at her and only saw her mother, tall and imposing, a brighter star against her fading light.

Until one day, it pushed its way through the wall of static (weapon, threat, champion, beast). It pushed through and swallowed little lost Rin whole. Ridebacks. The feel of smooth metal and glossy chrome ignited a flame in her breast that would burn quick and bright.

One day, she lived in the present and worried only about what was on the ground; the next day, she was flying and dreaming of a whole other world. Rin, flying, on the back of a machine with arms to guide her. Something that had once seemed marginal had managed to catch her as she fell and give her wings.

And all she could see was the clear blue sky as the wind whistled round the countours of both her body and the Rideback, and for a moment Rin felt as if she could touch the clouds itself. For the first time in so long, she dared to reached out and touched new heights.

Under her weight, the red bird sang.