Sky Rider Drone Theory
This theory argues that the mysterious Sky Rider was actually a drone, prepared for the Heresy Dragon in the Ancient Age and altered by rebels.
“The identity of this rider remains a mystery, but his amazing reactions and advanced combat skills indicate he’s not human. Thus the Academy has theorized that he is a human-shaped creation, similar to the monsters.” - Imperial Research from the Dragon Report.
While there may be considerable reasons to believe that the mysterious Sky Rider seen in the introduction of Panzer Dragoon was human, his identity has not been confirmed by any official sources. Information in the Pandora’s Box in Panzer Dragoon Orta speaks of the possibility of this fourth rider being a drone, created to operate the Ancient biological weapons. My theory is that the Sky Rider was indeed a drone, prepared for the Heresy Dragon in the Ancient Age. Since it seems the Heresy Program was hijacked by Ancient rebels, this drone could have also been altered by these rebels and given a new objective… to aid the dragon in his mission to destroy the Towers and free the world from the will of the Ancients.
The Sky Rider reacts quickly, but not quickly enough.
You are probably asking yourself, why didn’t the dragon choose this drone as a rider in Panzer Dragoon Zwei since it took place before the events of the original Panzer Dragoon? We must remember that the Heresy Program was cast out of Sestren as soon as the ‘impurity’ was detected. It was a moment of desperation and the dragon had to quickly find a place to be born in the surface world. Lagi was unintentionally raised in Lundi’s care, but because of this bond it possibly made the Heresy Dragon choose another human for a rider after the Sky Rider’s death. The Heresy Dragon went into hibernation at the end of Panzer Dragoon Zwei. However when the Dark Dragon appeared and the Tower became active, the Heresy Dragon reappeared and it could have been then when he was reunited with the drone prepared for him in the Ancient Age. As we know, the Sky Rider’s mission failed, so the Heresy Dragon had to rely on human riders in order to complete his purpose to destroy the Towers.
The Sky Rider's alter ego prepares to fire a holy sphere.
Out of all the different dragons that we encounter in the Panzer Dragoon series, there is only one that does not have a rider: the huge armoured Guardian Dragon. This could be explained since if you look at his physical appearance it would be difficult for a human or drone to mount him. However, the Heresy Dragon’s shape (in all his various forms) shows that he was designed to carry a rider on his back. Imperial records in Pandora’s Box suggest that the drones may have been created to do dangerous tasks that the Ancients themselves did not want to undertake. The Heresy Dragon was supposed to be one of the most powerful dragons, but for a dragon to reach it’s full potential as a combat organism it needed a rider, possibly as a safeguard so that it could not rebel against Sestren as easily. If this drone was not created to ride the dragon, then who was meant to aid the Heresy Dragon in combat?
The Dark Dragon's rider is a shadow of the Sky Rider.
If you look at the rider mounting the Dark Dragon and compare him to the Sky Rider, you’ll notice both are wearing similar types of armour. It is true that the Sky Rider appears to be more ‘human’ in shape than this dark rider, but he looks more like this red-eyed drone than any of the other characters in the Panzer Dragoon series. The Dark Dragon was quite similar in form to the Blue Dragon, and Sestren speaks of them as if they are separate units of the same kind. If this is true then couldn’t the Heresy Dragon have had a drone prepared for him in the same way? Atolm was created as a guardian of Azel so maybe this rider was prepared as the dragoon for the Heresy Dragon.
The Sky Rider certainly displayed some inhuman characteristics though. When he was shot, the Sky Rider projected a thought-speech message to Kyle. It could have been the dragon sending the message through the Sky Rider, but I believe it is more likely that it was actually the drone pleading to Kyle to aid the Heresy Dragon in the quest he would never be able to finish himself. I say this because the message was solely from the Sky Rider’s perspective: “my dragon knows the way”. We have seen in Panzer Dragoon Saga that drones are able to send out thought messages such as these. Azel could connect to the Tower and sense what it was doing and planning. None of the Heresy Dragon’s other riders had this ability and a normal human does not have the power to send out such a clear and vivid message as the Sky Rider did.
A green ‘life-force’ is emitted from the Sky Rider just before he collapses to the ground. Once again this suggests that he is not human, but rather a biomonster in a humanoid form. Before you say “drones do not lose this green energy when they die either” there are several things that should be considered. When have we actually ever seen a drone die? The rider of the Dark Dragon falls into the sea and Abadd disappears into the clouds. Throughout the series, we have never actually seen a drone die. It is possible that a drone’s life force spirals away, much like the Sky Rider’s did. Azel states that drones are closer internally to the biomonsters, and when Lagi heals himself in Panzer Dragoon Saga he uses similar green energy. It is possible that this energy is something that gives bioengineered creatures life and when the Sky Rider died he lost it because of this.
Flesh is exposed from behind the Sky Rider's masked face.
Azel's skin looks almost human in the final scene of Panzer Dragoon Saga.
The Sky Rider’s face was pale brown and within the range of ordinary human skin colors. However, Pandora’s Box states that some drones are nearly indistinguishable from actual humans. If we look at Azel on the outside, her body is very similar to the outward appearance of a human being. Her skin colour is paler than most humans, but her creators could have found that tone of skin more beautiful and so created Azel like so. Abadd’s appearance is proof that the Ancients created a wide range of drones, as well as individual classes with varying degrees of will and emotions. The Sky Rider shows a great deal of emotion before he dies. However, few drones were able to break free of the constraints placed on their emotions, and if he was a drone, he was certainly a higher end one.
The drone Azel prepares to open the gate to Sestren.
The Sky Rider could have had a similar purpose to Azel; he could have been a drone with the power to open the gate to Sestren. While there were probably only a few drones designed with this ability (possibly just Azel), the idea is intriguing. We know that the Heresy Dragon intended to destroy Sestren and that could have been the reason why the Sky Rider was chosen as the Heresy Dragon’s rider. All the enemies in the Panzer Dragoon games have always tried to destroy the dragon rather than the rider. The Dark Dragon, who was commanded by Sestren, hunted and shot down the Sky Rider rather than attacking the actual dragon. If the Sky Rider could open the gate then this would leave Sestren vulnerable which could explain why the two servants of Sestren tried (and succeeded) to destroy the drone at all costs.
Could the Sky Rider have opened the gate too?
The quest to stop the Dark Dragon from reaching the Tower was one of desperation. No matter whom the Heresy Dragon chose as his rider, that individual needed to be chosen quickly. The Heresy Dragon would have known that the Sky Rider was more than willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of saving humanity. Azel and Abadd were both extremely determined to fulfill the duties assigned to them and it seems likely that the Sky Rider felt the same way.
There is a strong possibility that the Sky Rider was a drone prepared for the Heresy Dragon; this theory has discussed the evidence which leads me to believe that this is the case. Whether he was a human, a drone, a descendant of the Ancients, Lundi, or even the Divine Visitor still remains unknown but because of this there is still a reason not to discard this theory. Whoever he was, the Sky Rider will go down as one of the most unforgettable characters in the Panzer Dragoon series, simply because he was so mysterious.