Minerva loses her wings when her home is attacked. She takes control of a mech and walks the bot into battle. When she is removed from the wreckage, it is determined that the bot ceased to work two days earlier and her latent talent has risen.
She is taken to Morganti Base to heal from her injuries and train her new talent. From there, it is on to Ohkhan Citadel and a day-to-day existence until she meets a man who wants nothing, asks for nothing and offers a lot.
Astien is an Enjel crossbreed who is fascinated by the woman who has all the mannerisms of one of his kind but no wings. His fascination turns to affection, and from there, a friendship deepens until he needs to know everything about the woman who will not talk about herself.
“Cut them off.”
The doctor froze as he tried to set the shattered bones in her wings. They had been smashed to dust.
“Minny, that is a little drastic.”
“Cut them off, seal the wounds and I can get back into the fight.”
As if pinpointing her statement, an explosion rocked the field hospital.
“Minny, you are young. We can put you in a tank and regenerate your wings.”
“Wonderful. I can have it done later. Now, Doctor, cut them off.”
“What will your mother say?”
Minerva took a deep breath. “I will ask her in the afterlife. Now, get the wings off so I can get back in this fight.”
He nodded to the nurse and Minerva inhaled the gas, hoping that she would wake up and the pain in her body would eclipse the hole in her soul.
She could still hear Dr. Mizoko screaming that she wasn’t well enough to return to the fight. With her uniform on and her back bandaged, she headed for the mech deployment area. Most of the mechs were designed to function with wings, but three were not. They had not gotten their retrofit before the attacks.
The Enjel colony of Decla was sitting on a mineral deposit worth billions of credits. They enjoyed a relatively simple life and had left the deposit where it was. Now, a mining consortium had decided that taking the entire area by force was a legitimate business move and the colonists were on the defensive.
All of the ten mechs had been mobilised, but three of them had never been fitted with the wing relays that allowed for greater precision of movement.
She sprinted for the pits where the mechs were stored and saw her favourite gleaming in the dimness. One of the mechanics came running toward her, his wings fluttering.
“Cadet Nhu, what are you doing here?”
“I need the Arcit 2 warmed up, loaded and rations for three days, Sergeant Klasko.”
He paused. “Where is the Commander?”
“Next to the mark my wings made when the wall crushed us.”
Klasko looked her in the eye and nodded. “I will get it ready. When do you want to take it?”
“Five days ago.”
He turned and his team started to swarm the Arcit 2 from above and below. Minerva extended her arm and leaned against the wall while she waited for the systems to warm up.
A nervous private came up to her with a pouch, and she checked it, nodding at the rations inside. “Thank you.”
With her essentials taken care of, she headed for the walkway that led into the centre of the mech’s chest. The skin that the doc had grafted on her back was holding, but it made her feel light and heavy at the same time.
The interior was lit, and she could see the systems come on line as the mechanics finished their work. Klasko hovered in the open door of the chest plate as she settled into the grip of the machine.
“It is a lot stronger than the Lovixes you are used to driving, Cadet.”
“Thank you for the warning, Sergeant. I plan on taking it out of the city as fast as I can.”
He swallowed. “Good luck.”
She nodded and he sealed her in. She waited for ten minutes, gaining familiarity with the positions of all the displays, waiting for the magic words.
“Arcit 2, you are good for departure.”