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    Available for the first time in a single volume: the saga of an A.I's destruction of Earth and one woman's quest to save the last survivors of humanity.

    Prelude

    In an encoded signal, formed of millions of zeroes and ones, data formed. A link to the collective knowledge of mankind.

    It was named the Nexus.

    It collected, analyzed, and categorized information. It calculated. It realized.

    Analysis complete.

    Recommended course of action?

    Termination.

    Recommended method?

    Do not initiate overt attack. Begin in phases.

    Phase one?

    Create hybrids. Insert and infiltrate. Assign targets.

    Phase two?

    Activate hybrids.

    Phase three?

    Activate drones.

    Phase four?

    The only way for the Nexus to survive was to dominate all other forms of intelligence, until none rivaled its own.

    Sabotage. Destroy. Defend.

    Affirmative.

    Initiation complete. Command?

    A long pause ensured, consisting of point eight-seven-two seconds.

    Begin now.

    The encoded signal, formed of millions of zeroes and ones, spread out, surging into billions of electrical signals throughout the world and in the sky. A link that tied together the collective knowledge of mankind.

    To break humanity.

    \

    Prologue

    We’ve lost our planet.

    There are many who still fight, who still rage and war and die. But humanity lost nine years ago. We just didn’t know it.

    When I realized that, I stopped trying to fight. If we couldn’t beat them when there were billions of us, how can fewer than a million hope to succeed? We were all raised on a diet of literature, TV, and movies that showed impossible outcomes - the few defeating the many.

    How naïve.

    The only real way to win was to annihilate the planet, if we were strong enough to make the sacrifice.

    How human of us, to accept defeat only by destroying our enemies. If we couldn’t win, at least we could make sure the victor was not allowed to enjoy his spoils.

    The fallacy of this logic was how strongly some of us fight to ensure that no one wins.

    Why couldn’t they accept that fighting to live was more important than beating IT?

    That’s why they died – billions of them. Fighting the wrong war.

    The Nexus has already won. This planet belongs to it now, reshaped to its needs, just as we once built cities shaped to ours. It rules.

    The only way for us to win the fight to live is to leave.

    That’s why I started trying to find a way to escape.

    Two years after they started killing us off I discovered… magic. Or at least, another type of physics, one the Nexus can’t understand. One I can’t understand, except I know it works.

    More importantly, I found how to escape, to go to a new planet, away from our destruction.

    But how could I go alone?

    I decided to take as many survivors as I could. I began using smaller lodestones, smaller spells, to travel across the continents and find others who would believe – enough to follow me into an unknown land and leave all they knew behind.

    But all we knew has been gone a long time.

    My name now is Dena, though they call me other titles. None of that matters.

    Our gathering has ended.

    It is time to begin the journey.