TITLE PAGE DEDICATION ACKNOWLEDGMENTS PROLOGUE
CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 2 CHAPTER 3 CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 5 CHAPTER 6 CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER 8 CHAPTER 9 CHAPTER 10 CHAPTER 11 CHAPTER 12 CHAPTER 13 CHAPTER 14 CHAPTER 15 CHAPTER 16 CHAPTER 17 CHAPTER 18 CHAPTER 19 CHAPTER 20
EPILOGUE ABOUT THE AUTHOR ALSO BY KAREN TRAVISS COPYRIGHT
For the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, and all Britishservice personnel in Afghanistan. Because real heroes in the real world are the ones we should be reading about.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My grateful thanks go to my editor at Del Rey, Keith Clayton, for indulging my love of outlandish armor and unfeasibly large weapons; to Gears producer Rod Fergusson, Epic president Mike Capps, and—of course—Gears designer Cliff Bleszinski for making Gears such anintelligent, emotional gut-punch of a universe; Jim Gilmer, for sharing his invaluable ER experience with chainsaw injuries; real-life sniper Ray Ramirez, for friendship and technical advice; to Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade, who promised me Gears was “Traviss Town,” and made up my mind; and to all the men and women in uniform who’ve generously given me their time and wisdom overthe years, and who continue to leave me humbled by their courage and quiet professionalism.
TIME: FOURTEEN YEARS AFTER EMERGENCE DAY. PLACE: SOMEWHERE BENEATH THE SURFACE OF SERA.
For a time, the humans of Sera knew the illusion of peace…until Emergence Day. At that moment, our people broke free from our subterranean world, erupting into the domain of these groundwalkers, andwiping out whole cities. We fought and killed the humans on their fine boulevards, in their homes, on their battlefields. And they fought back. In time, their valiant defense was crushed. With billions dead, humans denied their enemy control by destroying their own civilization. They launched devastating attacks on their own territory—sacrificing their own citizens—so that we could not possess it. Suchis their loathing and fear of us. Understand what a world must do to survive—what humans must do, and what we must do. But survive we must. Now the humans’ long struggle against overwhelming odds approaches the final, desperate stand…
(QUEEN MYRRAH OF THE LOCUST HORDE, ADDRESSING NEW LOCUST TROOPS WAITING TO GO INTO BATTLE FOR THE FIRST TIME.)
URBAN PATROL IN EPHYRA; 14 YEARS AFTER EMERGENCEDAY, ONE WEEK AFTER THE LIGHTMASS ASSAULT ON THE LOCUST.
I swear I can smell barbecue. I don’t mean scorched flesh—that’s a stench I know pretty well. I mean meat, proper meat, the bitter tang of charcoal at the back of your throat, smoky fat, spices, juices. I’m point man today; I raise my fist to halt the squad. See, smell matters when you’re on patrol. It’s part of the picture you build up,as much a clue as anything you see, hear, feel. It tells you plenty: dead bodies, how long they’ve been dead, discharged weapons, leaking fuel, fresh air from a distant vent when you’re looking for a way out. And, of course, it tells the enemy plenty about you. So how many Locust are left? Marcus looks around slowly, not blinking, like he’s a machine scanning the buildings. “What is it, Dom?”“Smell it?” Someone’s probably trying to carry on a normal life in this city, pretending it’s an ordinary summer day like we had years ago, wars ago. Even with billions dead, humans get on with life. Even me. Even without my wife and kids. Humans always find something to hang on to. Marcus pauses, inhales slowly, then lets his rifle rest on its sling. “Dog,” he says at last. “Yeah, dog. Overdone.” Colechuckles. “Save me a leg. Two, if it’s one of those little yappy guys.” “Shit, those Stranded eat anything,” Baird says. He’s got no time for the bands of refugees living outside government protection. Has anyone? Me, I try to remember they’re our own. “Maybe they’ll end up eating each other and save us a few rounds.” It’s their choice to stay outside. The Stranded could sign up, do their...