In the city of Canter, situated on a plateau which tapered to a fine point balanced on a gargantuan rock, the only and most vital currency was weight, and it was regulated to the gram. If a citizen wanted something, he had to surrender possessions of an exactly equivalent weight. If that same citizen wished instead to give up nothing in exchange, he would need to employ the services of a group that was highly specialized, skilled, and illegal: the Runners.
The average Canterite would whisper that his neighbor must be a Runner, because she was always so quiet and lithe, or that he had seen a shadow climbing up the sheer side of his apartment block, and it must have been one of Them.
The truth was that you would never see a Runner unless she wanted to be seen. It was impossible to survive as a secret organization if its smugglers were unskilled enough to be spotted by some common citizen. A Runner had to be the most agile, flexible, quick-witted, and quick-handed thing in the city. And Waif was the greatest Runner of them all.
One-point-five meters tall, thirty-five kilograms, and only twelve years-old, Waif was destined for acrobatic greatness. There was never a moment where Waif thought she might not make some jump or grab, because as soon as she allowed herself to think it, it would happen. She had seen it in other Runners in training. They doubted before taking a leap that they would make it, and there was wideness to their eyes as they realized midair that they were right to doubt.
Waif could never doubt. To her, swinging along a cable and dropping a height ten times her own was more natural than walking. Canter was a sprawling playground to her, one she could climb and jump across and tumble through to her heart’s delight. No one and nothing could match her.
Little wonder then that even her elders turned to her during the Crackdown, when rain washing Runner blood into storm drains forced Waif’s transformation from a thief to a queen. But that is another story for another time.