Smoke rose from the city of Torobatl. The sky was dark with Tombships and Threshers. Strange, spindly towers had sprouted from the ground, infecting the streets and alleyways Caiatl had known so well, rendering the landscape alien.
Many of the creatures that poured from the tear in the sky had fallen to her missiles—like any other enemy—but their numbers never seemed to dwindle. Their will never seemed to falter.
Pinned in the wreckage of a crashed single-pilot fighter, Caiatl caught her breath as gel leaked from her suit. She remembered Umun's words: They don't fear pain. They don't fear death.
She wondered how she could have let this happen. How could she have been the one to open that door?
Because even as she cursed Umun for starting this, Caiatl was the one who had finished it. It didn't matter that she'd done it unwillingly and unknowingly. That responsibility was still on her shoulders.
She cursed Umun and the vermin Hive, but more than that, she cursed herself.
She was responsible for the destruction of their home.
A voice as loud as thunder spoke to her, deafening:
MY HOME IS WAR.
MY VOICE IS A BATTLE SONG.
FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE WORSHIPPED WAR, YOU HAVE WORSHIPPED ME.
I AM HERE TO CLAIM MY TRIBUTE.
IT IS OVERDUE.