Dust and debris crunch underfoot as I turn stiffly in the cumbersome hazard suit, checking the ruins for survivors. Just two days ago this had been a buzzing shopping district with tens of thousands of shoppers swarming around the massive mall districts. Now all is silent, the towering mall buildings pulverised and lying in giant pieces, the shoppers gone, dead.

The flashlight picks up nothing but endless ruins. I heave on a metal spar, the motors in the suit whirring and straining to lift the beam. Underneath, a brightly-coloured shopping bag coated with diamond dust but still weakly playing its fabric-LED message. Beyond that, a frail body lies against a thick internal support.

I rush towards it, seeing the red of an infrared signature. Kneeling down beside – her – body, I take her hand, find a pulse, feeling it thin and weak. My heart surges with hope – I’m no soldier; my revenge only from saving those thought lost. I can save this one.

I can redeem my conscience of the ones I could not save.

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