The black and white snow from three dozen monitors lit the room comfortably, the constant flicker of light giving the illusion of movement in the still space. There was a single door into the room and a lone high-backed, leaned-back chair near the only active monitor in the room.

A light-hearted, hopeful song drifted from the lips of a dozen men and women on the screen. The image was clearly from a time before the world was seen in high-definition, a grainy quality on the flat screen making the film even more laughable than the costumes the actors were wearing. The chair’s back was to the door, and its occupant had his feet up on the table next to the monitor, one foot absently tapping to the rhythm of the song.

Christopher’s footsteps were all but silent as he came down the tiled hall to the control room’s open door. The textured half-light washed all the color out of his chestnut brown hair and turned his pin-striped blue suit to seamless grey. He entered quietly, his mechanical movements silent on the unswept floor of the control room as he stood behind his master’s chair. He cleared his throat to announce himself. “All quiet and running smoothly for the night, Mister Overton. As always.”

“Thank you, Christopher,” came the low, calm voice from the other side of the chair, the voice’s foot still tapping to the rhythm.

We can build . . . a beautiful city,

Yes, we can.

Yes, we can!

We can build . . . a beautiful city,

Call it ours . . .

And call it the City of Man . . .

The voice’s foot stopped tapping abruptly as the chorus repeated itself. The feet came down from the table and the man in the chair leaned forward, staring into the low resolution of the film as if there was some kind of message hidden between the blurred pixels. His eyes were wide, darting around the screen as if trying to follow a single color, a single idea, through the jumps and skips of the choreography providing the only dots of color in the dreary isolation. Christopher could see the master’s eyes reflected in the screen, could almost see the gears of thoughts churning into life behind them.

Christopher stepped forward into the room, his face coiling into a look of concern. “Sir?”

The man in the chair cracked his knuckles and smiled slightly, the idea slowly solidifying itself into a plan, the plan into a purpose.

“We have a lot of work to do, Christopher.”

Next Chapter: 1 - I Have to Try