Viewed from the heavens, the ruins of Kairut City appeared like nothing more than a crater dug into the planet, with a twisting dust cloud at the core. Centered deep within this tempest, the lone warrior awoke.
She was neither above, below, nor equal to those who could only exist beneath her perseverance. She neither hated her enemies nor loved her allies, and she asked for no allegiance.
The first thing she saw was the dust cloud twisting around her. She wasn't quite fully conscious, not yet. Her memories were still recollecting, new thought-patterns still connecting.
Shielding her eyes against the dust, she ventured beyond the dust cloud toward the only buildings that remained. A blast of jaundiced sunlight seared her eyes, causing her to shy away, but the buildings resolved from the scorching brilliance. They sat like broken tombstones against the wasteland, their supports forced to lean away from the center of a terrible blast.
The first vision came to her then, sudden and furious: entombed within a burning cryopod, the deafening roar of atmosphere. She remembered the pod disintegrating around her, a period of blindness, followed by escape from the smoldering debris. The images flashed in her waking consciousness, then disappeared as quickly as they came.
The last scraps of her armor fell as she stepped through the blown down door. Debris from the collapsed ceiling littered the floor, along with broken mannequins and dirty, torn rags of cloth.
Sunlight angled through crags and nooks on the roof. Among the rubble she noticed a shimmer, the glint of worn silver, as dull as burnished copper. She kneeled by the metal crate and smoothed a hand on its surface. She then remembered the sense of touch.The metal crate was cool and gritty with dust. She felt the texture with the curiosity of a small child.
While she moved her hand, her finger grazed the sharp edge. A twinge of pain, followed by a wave of bittersweet nostalgia. Her oldest memory came then, a memory of pain.
She remembered a lifetime ago, in the dark blue sky of a forest, and her childhood sweetheart. They held a thorned rose together, under the cover of night. The season was December, she knew, snow and rain, so long ago.
Another memory, sudden, flashed in her mind.
Bloodlust. A soldier seized by her own hands, screaming with livid terror as she drew him apart by the shoulders. He came apart in a crimson tide, and in the spilt mound of his remains, a single eye ball stared back at her.
And like the great warriors who came before her, she experienced the trials and tribulations of her two lifetimes then. Although her body was no older than twenty-four years, her existence was closer to sixty.
She smoothed her hand over the metal crate, halting at the simple padlock. While Unit 01 could bend the will of people and Unit 02 was aligned with the element of water, her ability was in energy manipulation.
Fearful men and women, upon creating her, bound her potential with their restraints. While confined to her restraints, she could only access the suit's hydrogen fuel cells, and at that only when permitted. She could now freely detect and access any available energy source within a thousand-kilometer radius.
And somewhere in the savannah, she sensed, there was a potent energy source.
She tested this new energy source. Much like the bridge at Agra, she manipulated the padlock at the molecular level. The mechanism in her hand dissolved and took to the air in a dusty brown haze of rust. What she once accomplished with great effort now came to her by mere thought, for she was reborn into her true form. Lord Tyr, a wise man once christened her, after the Norse god of combat and heroism.
Among the radio waves, she heard the voice of a woman garbled with static, so she focused on this transmission. She refined its clarity until the person sounded as though she stood a mere arm's length away.
"Unit 03," the voice said tensely. "Please respond. I don't know how much longer I can stay up here. You're going to have your hands full. Please respond. Your signal is extremely weak..."
"It never ends," she muttered to herself. She could've walked away right there... but to where? She had her memories, and she knew the plague still infested every colony-world. Her only choices were to run forever or stand and fight. She sighed and opened the communication link to the woman.
"What do you mean I'll have my hands full?"
The woman's voice came to a sudden halt—both at the fact there was a response, as well as the impatient, unapologetic tone in the responder's voice. "What's going on? I have no visuals. The armor is silent. Are you—"
"What’s the fucking problem?"
"The evolved Locri are finished here and they're heading for the surface. You're going to have your hands full if you don't clear a landing zone for me to set the Vidar down."
"Fine. Wait for my signal."