Militza had heard it said that Trinity was the largest of the True Cities, save perhaps for Titan, and as she looked up at the wall of old, scarred metal that led eventually to the upper deck and Top Side and the Spinaccles that soared still higher, she found it hard to imagine there could be a city that was bigger. There had been a time ten cycles distant, before the War of the Rolling Plains, when Trinity had been called Iron Reach and had been no larger than its sister city, Iron Cloud; but then the city had devoured and amalgamated two of its rivals in the Great War; had shattered the city of Tard in two and bound its remains and engines to the north of the city, had wrought huge destruction upon the city of Cyan and harnessed its corpse as an extension to the city’s eastern boundary. Trinity; three cities as one, grinding their way slowly but relentlessly citywise.
Further along the city’s length, she could see a cluster of yellow coated workers busying themselves; an orange, industrial sized, traction engine matching its speed with the city in a cloud of grey steam; a network of wooden gangplanks and platforms strung across the gap between it and the city walls so that the workers could scurry to and fro, like spiders, to carry out essential maintenance on the city’s wheels. The south side of the city featured two hundred wheels, each of which stood more than four times taller than the tallest man; they were divided into groups of five that were spaced equally and encased inside huge metal belts that ensured the city could maintain traction on even the most unforgiving of surfaces. The noise of Trinity’s passage was immense, the sound almost a physical thing; metal screaming against metal as the huge and heavy plates of the wheel belts clanked and clamoured against each other.
Militza stepped tentatively off the metal ramp and onto solid ground, experiencing a slight jolt as she strived to adjust to the fact that she had stepped from a slow moving object to a static surface, and then walked away from the city with the posture of somebody who was at least thirty years older, walked away from Trinity, and into its Caravan, without even a glance back.
The Caravan that surrounded Trinity on both sides for half a league and trailed in its wake for almost two, like a pack of gulls following a fishing boat; was a ramshackle conglomeration of trading vessels and cargo transporters, mobile factories and farm units, and a thousand different craft upon which people were crammed together in tightly confined sleeping quarters. It was organic, its shape and consistency ebbing and flowing within each cycle. The Caravan would shrink when they drew near to the Dreaming Plains; the mining vessels and smelters and foundries surging ahead to make best use of the limited time that was available to them, accompanied by a retinue of City Guards to protect against raiders and enough craft to accommodate their workforce. Then, as Trinity pushed north and crossed into the Ice Wastes to bridge the frozen Boreal Ocean, the Caravan would swell in both size and population as nomadic tribes attached themselves to its flanks, craving the security the city offered in the desolate north where strange things haunted the ice.