In the final hours, an exodus began, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Red Age. Fear was indiscriminate; men and women and children gibbered and wept, while the winged seraphim who had descended into the fray howled, and the serpent-tailed diimea who had crawled to the surface raised a silent chorus that blackened thought, and cast both rage and despair throughout. Broadcasts began to fail, and vidscreens trembled, pixels fading.

Hardly anyone one knew how to reach the sky, to let Those Above know what had happened on the frail world below. No one knew how to fly, as even the seraphim who had come down found themselves bound to the earth by a gravity that could not be shaken.

In the thickest clutches of life, the barefoot cities where ports were as abundant as jungles, the savages who foretold of these days built huge pyres to signal the fall of the known world, and the rise of new darkness that would come when all had turne to ash. Everyone on the surface began to hijack the skytrains, to make an Ascent, but even they — overworked and undermaintained — began to falter, and plunge, and station after station closed, until only one terminal remained.

As the screens fell dark, a hush spread over the last terminal itself. The distant whine and shriek of the trains grew quieter and quieter, until it was impossible to tell if the sound remained, or if it was merely the ghost of an echo, remembered by those left behind.

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