THE AIR seethed, like a living thing disturbed.
Dust settled from the sky as the roar of the explosion rolled away into the desert. Gradually, the sky cleared, revealing stars. In the sandy haze of dust, a building had blistered open, like an empty shell too weak to hold a great and terrible seed. Chunks of concrete littered the ground, illuminated by weak sparks and fizzles from the severed legs of ruined machinery.
Swimming through the wreckage, dozens of tiny lights milled like fireflies, winking in and out. Unlike fireflies, they burned dark violet, wandering in wayward paths. Undisturbed by the...