It was a cool Autumn night when the Totalitariants came to town.
No-one knew how long they'd been breeding down in the mines by the foothills, or how many of them there were. All they knew was that by the time they knew anything, it was already too late.
When the town of Austern woke the next morning, they had been conquered.
The Ants had been studying the town for quite some time, no doubt, for they made right for the four things that kept the town running - the armory, the larder and the well were taken straight away. They knew exactly where the village elder lived, and he was dragged from his bed at dawn and tossed out into the street, where three six foot long ants tore him to pieces with their mandibles.
Only then, after the initial show of force, did they communicate. It turned out that the ants were tired of hearing the chaotic thoughts trickling down the mine shafts from the town, and had determined to bring order to the world, starting with Austern.
Children were rounded up and taken back to the hive, to insure good behavior. The men were taken to the mine and pressed into slavery, mining for salt sixteen hours a day. The women were taken to the heart of the hive, where they tended the Queen's eggs.
The elderly were left in the village, a lure for the unwary. Every now and again, travelers would make their way to Austern. A few would wonder at the lack of young in the town, but none would think anything of it, not until they too were dragged from their beds to join the slaves in the mines.
One of the antagonists in From the Ashes will be Ants. Giant Ants. I don't know if other people find them as creepy as I do, but I can't think of a better foe. They're like the Evil Empire of the animal kingdom. They're territorial, expansionist, and they go to war in armies. Give them some size, and there's no reason they shouldn't be a major player in the post apocalyptic world. Give them a touch of telepathy, and they can rule it!
I may even draw up some sort of flag for them, all red and black.