Author: Oisin Hurley

Nailah stopped to catch her breath in the shadow at the base of the pyramid. One time her ancestors would have been buried here, surrounded by items they could bring to the afterlife. They had food from the chill lands to the north arrayed around their death masks, gifts of silken clothing from the rulers of the teeming societies to the east laid at their anointed feet. How far had they fallen from that gilded age? The sorrow for the descent of her people from rulers to rabble haunted her, weighed down the days of wearying work forced upon them by the invaders of their lands. That was why she had rebelled, damaged the collection of machine suits, and stolen this one. It rested quietly around her, mute but for low fans that followed her own breathing. A small green bar at the edge of her vision meant many days of reserve in the batteries. She would fly south like an arrow to the peopled lands. She would escape this dry hell where the invader folk lived, avoiding the moisture of the forests.

A small cascade of sand and pebbles from the ancient stone at her back hissed in her enhanced hearing. Distracted from her thoughts, she felt a low, rolling rumble — an armoured remote approaching. She could outrun its pursuit. She fed power to the leg motors of the suit and ran toward a horizon of dunes, silver-lit by the crescent moon.