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Once, Ariston was a Guardian of the Kalliopolis, the perfect city designed by the Philosophers—Philosophers who, in their wisdom, replaced the imperfect human Guardians of Ariston’s generation with warrior machines. Phaleas Peneste, a poor farmer’s orphan the new Guardians rescued from the devastating winter that killed his family, now serves as their mechanic. Unhappy with their positions in the Kalliopolis’s new order, each man decides to escape, a coincidence that leads to their first meeting.
Afraid to risk his life in the wilderness beyond the Kalliopolis, Phaleas hesitates and is recaptured by the Guardians while Ariston discovers he doesn’t have anywhere to run. Back inside, they begin a secret affair, and Phaleas hopes that together, they might give each other the strength to escape the Kalliopolis forever… but first he has to convince Ariston to try again.