On Earth, a young woman looks out over what had once been a town square, her eyes pulled upwards above the trees and grass. An explosion of light is melting down through the blue summer sky like rain turned to fire. Despite the spectacular display, there are no other curious faces in the windows on the square, all the shutters closed tight. Even still they must see it, this light show in the sky, must know what it means. But they are too browbeat, too frightened to step outside, to risk betraying an emotion. To hope.
But Cassie knows what this is, has been waiting for it for two years.
This town had once been called Attica, a tiny village among the fields of Kansas. Now it is a holding pen for survivors, small-town America reborn as a ghetto of a dying race. There are people here from all corners of the continent, drawn in out of desperation and the illusion of protection offered by the very being that conquered their planet.
Worship and you will live.
They flocked here like chickens to a coop, the inhabitants too stupid to realize it's really only a slaughterhouse. Or maybe even the slaughterhouse was preferred to the impossible, horrific lives they could scrape together out in the world Anubis left them with: empty, shattered cities and roving bands of humans reverting to the lowest common denominator just to survive. Such a small amount of time to have forgotten so much evolution.
This is what is left of the planet her mother fell protecting, a planet Cassie refused to walk away from even when she had the chance. Not this time. Not again. Someone had to stay and fight. Stay and remember.
Plus, she's never been alone. Not completely. She is their eyes, a quiet whisper from the planet they've been exiled from. They always said they'd be back. In the meantime she would be what they need.
Tok'anu. The resistance.
She knows what the lights in the sky mean.
Abandoning her perch at the window, Cassie moves to the rear of her room. Behind a creaking wooden door is a staircase. She picks her way down the rickety steps into the cool darkness of the basement. The previous owner had outfitted his home well, his 1960s nuclear paranoia coming back to serve her well. The entrance to the bunker is barely visible unless you know where to look. Cassie pulls back the heavy lead doors, the hinges well oiled and maintained, sliding open with barely a whisper of sound.
Grabbing a lantern, Cassie lowers herself into the space below.
Where there had been bare floor only this morning, now there's a pile of crates, a note tacked to the top. She reaches for the thin slip of paper, her fingers running across the words.
Thought you might be able to put these to good use. Red button = death to drones. One hit should do it. Be seeing you soon. -Mitchell
Pushing off the top of the nearest crate, she reaches in and pulls out a P-90 that's been modified, a shiny red button on the side that screams to be pushed.
Looking up the stairs to the square of light above, she knows exactly what to do with it, this gift from the skies.
Outside, the square is quiet. The tall fences that mark the boundary of their coop glint brightly in the sunlight. There should be work happening all around, men offering passes to get out into the fields, women completing chores on the square, and small children getting their lessons in the shade of Anubis' statue. But no one is in sight.
Attica's jail keepers, two tall figures cloaked in black, impenetrable armor, stand as they always do at the gate, unaware of the shift around them. Nuance is not something they ever understood. Rules are rules. Crimes are crimes. And penalties are swift and final.
They don't move as Cassie approaches, docile like kittens despite the weapon in her hands—a visible violation of the cardinal rule of human rights. She thinks despite their outer calm they must be floundering in the wake of what she suspects—prays—is their master's fiery destruction. Their eerie motionlessness is just more proof. They're empty shells this way, animated flesh with no one to serve. Not that it changes anything. Her memory is long, even if theirs isn't.
She lifts her weapon, the red button smooth under the pad of her finger. The first one falls under the pulse like a sack of potatoes, the second merely looking down at its fallen companion in curiosity. Cassie doesn't give him time to figure it out.
When they are lying side by side on the ground like sick marionette dolls with their strings cut, Cassie turns to the imposing statue marring the center of the square, its empty face watching over the town, always watching. Candles and flowers and food and other forced offerings are nestled into place next to small notes begging for boons, for word of long-missing loved ones. If you really are a god, have mercy.
Switching her P-90 back to bullets, she fires on the statue, pounding round after round into the heavy stone. Anubis's head severs at the neck, bouncing sickly down the path to come to rest in the gutter lining the street. There's a moment of heavy silence as if the entire town is waiting for the wrath of this supposed god to rain down in retaliation for her desecration.
It doesn't come. There's nothing but the warm prairie wind rising up over the town, untamed by boundaries or rules or oppressive domination.
No more false gods for Attica.
Around her, screen doors creak open, footsteps cautiously inching out into the sunlight.