The Gates

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Sasha loved the Gates. They were older than memory or record, if the old ones could be believed, though they showed no sign of age. Unlike the longhouse built around them, the burnished wood of which had grayed and rotted several times even in her short lifespan.

She ran a hand over the stone, soaking the warmth of it into her cold skin. That warmth was the reason her people had built the longhouse around the Gates; in a frigid landscape, warmth meant survival. The whole village lived in the shelter of the Gates, worshipping the impossible life they maintained.

The stone hummed beneath her fingers and she jerked away, eyes widening. The thrumm became visible vibration and Sasha stumbled backward, breath coming in ragged gasps as the arch of the Gate began to glow. Farther down the longhouse a second Gate followed suit, then a third.

Then the portion of the longhouse in front of her vanished, replaced by a view of shifting sand and barren red mountains. The sky above them terrified her most with hints of purple and orange streaking a dark blue horizon.

A strange figure stepped into view within the arch. Inhuman, insectile, it clicked with what seemed angry urgency and beckoned to something behind him. Sasha fled screaming as an unimaginable army streamed into the longhouse. She never saw the hosts streaming from the other Gates as one by one they activated.

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