Chapter 1

Devrim Kay leaned out the broken window of the Trostland church and fixed his eyes on the sky.

The Traveler and the Witness were up there somewhere, with most of the Vanguard and all the fighter pilots the Last City could muster. The comms were filled with static. All Devrim knew for sure was that they were fighting for their lives.

The orbital combat was barely visible in the daylight—an errant streak of weapons fire, the twinkle of an explosion. From the ground, the conflict was silent and beautiful, the deaths of his friends sparkling as gently as the light of long-dead stars.

Devrim tried, and failed, to shake the thought from his mind.

There was a faint corona of fire, and the exosphere shimmered with a cloud of sparkling debris. It was impossible for Devrim to tell if he was looking at the remains of the Pyramids or the Traveler.

Wire rifle fire crackled against the stone wall of the old church, and he cleared the field of threats with eight precise shots.

Devrim steadied himself against the window frame and pulled a pair of binoculars from his vest. He focused on a single distant speck that flashed in the sunlight as it tumbled to Earth.

He held his breath as the debris drew closer, and he was able to make out a strangely clean-cut slice of fuselage bearing Vanguard livery.

Devrim felt his hands go numb.

"Mayday," he said into the EDZ comms channel, his voice somehow calm and clear. "Our birds are coming down."

Far below, his binoculars shattered against the Trostland cobblestones.