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Kyane spent her first minutes in the kitchen looking for something to cook with. She had rudimentary skills to say the least. She found a frying pan to place on the stovetop. She turned the burner on and placed some bacon in the pan. They began to sizzle shortly after. She turned around and cracked eggs into a bowl, whisked them up, then poured herself a glass of orange juice. “Be careful not to burn the bacon,” D13 said.
“I got it, I got it,” Kyane said. She turned around and flipped the bacon over. She looked over to her phone plugged into the wall. “Can you pinpoint where we are exactly?”
D13 accessed her maps and began to trace, but her lack of service cut him off. “A very secure location.”
“Obviously.” Kyane flipped the bacon again. She went over to the cupboard and took out a plate. “I’m just seeing if we can find another way outta here without doing all this trial nonsense. I need to make sure none of those raptor things show up again while I’m gone.”
“That’s why the military is having you participate in these trials,” D13 said.
Kyane cracked the plate down next to the pan and flipped the pieces onto her plate, turned around and got her eggs mix and started making scrambled eggs. “Why? Just cause I’m the only person to fight someone in the suit. I can’t be that special.”
“Most of my other pilots could hardly go any distance and fatigued too quickly to get much data on my physical systems.”
“So, you’re saying I’m the best you’ve ever had.” She added salt and pepper to her scrambled eggs.
“Best pilot I have ever had, yes.”
“No. Like that was a joke. Like an innuendo thing.”
“Yes,” D13 confirmed.
“I just don’t understand what makes me so special. I’m not like a chosen one or something. I don’t have a tragic backstory. I don’t even really have friends to power me and keep me going or anything.” She scratched her stomach. “It’s just so weird.”
“I am unsure as to why either.”
Kyane rolled her eyes. “Thanks, really big help.” She finished cooking her eggs and scooped them onto the plate with the bacon. She scoured the drawers for a fork and went to the dining room table to eat. She ate in silence. Total silence. There were no birds, or squirrels, or any forest animals around. Just totally silent. Her heart rate increased. She began looking over her shoulder with every bite of eggs and bacon. She started tapping out a beat to a song she could only vaguely remember to distract from the feeling of being watched. There were eyes somewhere staring at her. A lens where they should not be. She scarfed her food down quickly, ran to put her plate in the sink because…. She didn’t know. She felt like she had to do it. She splashed water from the faucet on her face and took some deep breaths. “We gotta get out of here, Die,” she said. She rubbed her eyebrow with the palm of her hand
“That means participating in the trials.”
“I know what it means!” She pounded the counter with her hands. “But I feel off. We’re in the mountains and there are no animal noises, and I feel like I’m being watched. Okay!?” She leaned next to her phone.
“Hold on,” D13 said. He turned on her Bluetooth setting for a minute, then switched it off. “We should leave. You are being watched. This whole area has cameras because it is a testing zone.”
“Right…” Kyane’s voice trailed off. “Doesn’t mean I feel okay.”
“Do you still wish to leave, Kyane?”
“Yes, Die,” She said. “I can’t just stay here.” She unplugged her phone, turned off the D13 app, and stuffed it into her back pocket. She took several relaxing breaths, turned the faucet on, rinsed her hands, and rubbed her hands on her face. She nodded a few times. She drummed out the beat of a Rise Against song. Her heart raced. The butterflies in her stomach vanished. She marched out the door onto the porch, then lined the faces of her accessories up.
The faces of the watches and belt began emitting a blue grid onto Kyane’s body. She felt the vibration spread with it. The clumps of black metal b-lined to the spaces on the grid. The pieces expanded to fix the grid space. Each piece smacked against her body, then snapped together like a puzzle. It was overall painless except for two pieces smacking her butt, and the breastplate mashing onto her chest. A tickle carried up her neck as metal extended from the back, and chest plate, covering her neck. The final pieces of metal snapped together with blue glass in the middle forming a helmet with a visor. The helmet snapped onto her skin. The outfit was complete. The text appeared on the heads-up display. The text read: D13OUS. A vaguely British voice rang in her head “Hello. I am the Digital 13 Operational Unit System, also known as Dieous.” The D13OUS moved vertically and typed out the full words the voice said. “How may I assist you, Kyane?”
“What are we facing first, Die?” Kyane asked.
D13 scanned the line of trees around the cottage. Red dots blipped onto the ground, with sonar waves coming from them. D13 then displayed a zoomed picture of the dot that revealed an image of a landmine. “Landmines, Kyane.”
Kyane nodded her head.
“This is a fairly standard test.”
“Of course,” Kyane said. She was unsure if she was sarcastic or not. “Is this supposed to test if we can find them and avoid them? Or is this supposed to test the durability of the suit by landing on a mine?”
D13 was silent.
“One way to find out!”
Kyane leaped into an open patch of the field. She landed with a loud thud. Dirt blew away from her in a perfect circle. She rose and investigated the woods. Alerts began to blare, and red lights flashed on the HUD. She raised her arms into a defensive motion and locked her legs. “Can you see which mines are going to explode?”
“You know what to do then.”
The HUD showed three red dots raised up. One in the back, and one along reach side. Kyane looked over and saw a mine jump into the air, ring and vibrate, then explode. She felt the force the explosions knock her side-to-side and forward. She couldn’t stop the momentum. Her footing slipped and she fell onto the mine in front of her. The mine below her vibrated against the chest piece. D13 shifted the metal, and the vibration softened before the explosion. It felt like a 2X4 swung by a pro baseball player smacked her. She hooped a foot in the air before smacking down. She coughed up a lung, then stood and dusted the armor off. In front of her was a single path going into the dense foliage. She stretched her armor and cracked her back. The machinery in the suit spun, clicked, and whirred with the movements.
She walked into the copses.