It wore thick banded metal armor across a broad back that could have been either male or female, tapering into a swishing skirt of thick raven’s feathers. A wide-brimmed hat cast a dark shadow over what looked to be a bird’s skull, glowing eyes peering out from black hollows above a bone white beak. It held the grenade for her to see.
“Self-sacrifice is a fool’s weapon, Helvia,” its hand clamped down hard and the explosive turned to sand, spilling on to the ground below.
“I see no use for a champion that does not value her own life,” it said.
“Wait,” she said, “Tell me who you are.”
The monster peered back at her with a look between mischief and pity, “If you find the will to be more than a slave to the past, ask your leaders about the scientist they once called Doctor C. I will attempt to leave at least one of them alive when I am done with my work tonight.”