Stygian Blue Scales
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A deep, thronging gong rips through the country. Through the world. Clouds slide away, the sonic boom of a moon-sized egg cracking no laughing matter. Hundreds of miles away, glass shatters, concrete shattered, and ocular sockets and aural sockets bleed. Closer, the eyes pop, the eardrums cracking like spaghetti in a chef's hand. Yet closer, bones shatter from the cosmic explosion. Within 5 miles, instant death for all. Complete, utter destruction. The death toll is is unknown. The entire Floridian peninsula has become a quarantine zone as the three-arrowed fools attempt to wrest control from the world’s governments. The shattering of a global state has left chaos in many industries- small-scale wars between ancient enemies began, the underground becoming the aboveground, a hundred tiny knives slicing through a veil.

Footage exists of these formerly servile beasts. From miles away, handheld camera footage captured an explosion of movement, a flurry of scales and wings and claws sweeping into their respective kaleidoscopes. Diving into the sea, a coil of muscles that sought out the deepest place on the Earth, and returning to their ancient trench. Flying into the atmosphere, a flapping net of winged fury, clouds sweeping as it pierced the pure white fluffs. Sprinting across the land, fur streaking, deep black eyes glancing over to the camera and seeking it, a blur of anger slamming forward. A single cry and blood splatter the viewfinder, the wet squelch of organs falling into the grass. In the remaining screen space not taken up by arterial spray, a sliding face moves past, eyes darkened by shade-like hair. A twisted forehead juts, eyes placed far into the back of it’s skull. It stares at the camera, before the lens cracks, pained and frightened cries filling the air as blood pools on the ground.

There is no hope, no escape, no way out.

The time of humanity’s reign over the world has come to an end.

At the edges of ancient maps, there are creatures drawn quite often. Large, scaled sea serpents, bending their way through waves, their eyes large and stalking. Scholars believed them to be just a figment, a piece of culture that predicted monsters lie in the unknown. A human instinct, with an unknown cause. With the shattering of the egg-moon, the cause has become clear. Across the world, archaeologists, historians, and geologists had one chance- to change how they viewed the world forever. Many choose, instead, never to see the world again.

Within a cloister of low, brutalist concrete buildings, a woman in a lab coat pours acidic liquid into a vial with moon dust particles. Her eyes are sharp, stabbing into those who attempt to talk down to her. Wispy gray hairs have begun to invade the auburn sweep, the tight top knot that is her pride beginning to show her age. Small cuts, chemical burns, and healed scars cover her entire body, the effects of maintaining healthy combat skill at an advanced age.

Luciane Alterskill “Lulu” Fallskill sighs as the acid begins to bubble, overflowing and covering the table with a substance resembling sea foam, the experiment confirming another deeply held suspicion. The dust from the “Moon” is indeed the calcified, frozen remains of human beings. Lulu sighs, looking at the reflective surface of the hi-tech Bunsen burner emblazoned with the three-arrowed design.

“What the fuck does any of this mean?”

In the sky.

Wings spread to their full glory, nearly two hundred feet of shimmering feathers, finally able to dry in the brilliant sun. Their tube-like body slides through the sky, scales overlapping with geometric perfection. The serpentine tail acts as a aileron, with four large muscular extensions allowing them to turn in any direction they please in the air. They look from side to side, taking in their domain. Puffy clouds sit, fat and perfect to hide within. It chooses one, and curls around itself, a coil of anger and demand. Crimson eyes search through the sky, the water particles nothing to their great eyes, seeing everything at once. Jaws open and tongue search, five pieces of wet flesh cleaning rows and rows of serrated, hungry teeth.

There. A ‘plane’ draws near. Some new human invention- they could feel their incredible ships touching their home, causing their roommates to roil and protest their situation even more. On that day, the tides of the world changed by more than fifteen minutes as the Great Sky Whale Methuselah took its place. No one really noticed.

But the beast, of deep and stygian blue scales, lord of the sky, betrothed to the sea snake, never forgot. They sit, the snout slowly expanding and filling with air, breathing deep of their home. It is a smell now made vicious and cruel- scented with methane, high levels of carbon dioxide and pollutants. Humans should never have been allowed to reach this level- the ancient checks set against them have returned, thankfully, and will begin righting the mistakes of progress. To cleanse the earth of humanity's ghastly touch- to scourge their homes, to corral them back into their ancient prisons- to makes the world shake, to make them rue their “advancement.”

But first.

It is time to hunt.

On a beach in the former Gulf Coast, a man-thing swims deep into the ocean, seeking a home. It-he has finished its purpose, helping to create a new world order. The destruction of the human race is now no longer a pipe dream, a hope, or a prayer- it is an eventuality, brought on by the powerful beasts unleashed from the Moon-Egg-Prison. The man-beast sighs, bright blue scales reflecting the sunlight beautifully as he clambers into the shit pipe. Swill gathers around his fingers, the refuse of mankind slipping through the steel pipe into the beautiful ocean. Anderson screams, unleashing a shrill exclamation of pain, misery, and anger.

The Three-Arrowed imbeciles killed the one man he even felt at home with, the angry homeless man Anderson turned into a vehicle of death. They related on one thing- hatred of humanity. But that was all they needed, wasn’t it? When something so truthful, so volatile, unites you, nothing else matters. When the destruction of a society that hates your every moment, that works against even your basic comfort, there is nothing else to do except work your hardest to bring it to its knees.

Now, the man is dead. Shredded to bits by a massive armored vehicle, rended from this reality by an armored van that drove through the hail of bullets. What makes this rage, this requited hatred of the world, even more potent, is that the man did not die through the conscious actions of an enemy. They died by accident, from the depressed accelerator created by a dead body, from the final acts of an utter fool.

Anderson, blue scales swimming across his body to create a perfect seal, begins to walk into the sewer pipe, exploring the underside of a human society he is more than familiar with. While the beasts take back the fields, the sky, and the sea, Anderson will take back the cities and towns. Anderson begins to laugh, a low fricative sound that emanates from his gills and throat like the sound of grain ground by a stone wheel. When he emerges, he will find the nearest retirement home, and grind their old bones to dust. He will find a church, and use their skulls to drink wine. He will find a prison, and recruit others to his cause. He will end their worlds, again and again, over and over, as they all ended his.

The prey nears.

Claws slick out of their hiding place, kept sharp by eons of casual fighting.

Teeth move in their joints, entering a prepared position. A penta-tipped tongue slides across these old tools, finding the breaks and smoothing them over with adhesive and filling created from a special sac within its guts. The teeth clink, hugging each other. The claws flex and stretch, old bones preparing to work once again.

The plane roars near, exhaust clogging the skies, the people within ignorant or uncaring of the cost to the world they are incurring.

It groans, an ovular pearlescent tear dripping down its eye. Three pairs of hands thread together, beginning to wave and tap claws against each other. To the birds flying by, the rays of the sun reflecting off the clouds, and surrounding the beast is a column of gentle light, ten feathery wings sprouting like weeds across their back as the throat begins to sing, a low and sultry tune that moves from octave to octave with the deftness of a ballerina.

It is time to begin.

Anderson the man-thing emerges into the underground of a city, walking through the brick-laid rows of sewage ducts. Their claws scrape through the cement, littering dust along the floor. The claws dip in, retrieving a chunk of cement, and throw it into the sewer waterline. The lifeblood of human civilization spread out before him, their wasteful fits flowing in a multitude of estuaries and rivers. The world above may glitter and sheen, but underneath all it does is bubble and dribble.

Anderson dives into the gunk, gills working quickly to extract oxygen, what little there is, from the mess. Anderson has lived among the human scum for most of his life. He knows their fears, their desires, their needs. What will make them quiver with fear? What will make them scream in disgust? Anderson can harness these, understand them, bring them all to their knees, and beg for Anderson to let them go.

Anderson smirks as he thinks of them, kneeling before him, begging for their innocent and innocuous lives. He knows that none of them will be left. The meek, animal, insect, and fish will all inherit the earth. Each will take back the world that was so cruelly taken from them by ancient humans, so long ago. They will reap the seeds sewn by their ancestors, for destroying the natural order so completely. They may have done what they did out of fear, but what they did after is unforgivable. They forget their place. They forgot the old rituals and the old magics.

They will pay.

Anderson approaches a ladder, beginning to climb it as sewage and trash drip off of his body like rain from a thunderhead. What strikes underneath him is the lightning of anger, running through his body as his scales prepare to rip and tear. He grins, a finger piercing the manhole cover and shoving it to the side, and the harsh sunlight illuminates his body as it emerges into the city streets.

Within yet another dull, dark gray concrete block with the vestiges of human occupation tattered along the walls, Luciane sighs at the words of her superior.

“Sir, please, you need to listen to me! If we don’t deal with this-”

“Fallskill, please do me a favor and know your place. We can’t put any more fucking resources into this inane theory of yours! We are dealing with fucking XK-class shit here. Put in a fucking request with the applicable department, and get out of my sight!”

The man slams the folder into her arms, pushing her out of the door with a derisive sigh and cruel, tight hands. The Director wasn’t always like this. Recent events, the destruction of miles of US land, and the destruction of the Moon-all have been massive weights on his mind. What has been drawing on everyone's mind, far more than the destruction of the moon, is what seems to be its replacement. After a momentary shock of massive flooding, the satellite was replaced by something… else.

That is what Lulu has been doing research on. What has replaced the moon, the trustworthy satellite that harkened the night is an immense, floating whale-shaped beast. With sixteen huge fins, a body roughly the size of an oil tanker, and a set of hexagonal scales and seemingly living seaweed that cover its back, the pieces of it that fell to the Earth after a collision with a passing satellite show plainly shocking facts to the Junior Researcher. The scales, as they were, possess ancient ancestors of modern plants. Some kind of protochlorophyl, generated from some unknown biological process. It appears to give the whale its energy. According to magnetic survey, it seems to use all of this energy to correct the tides, pulling them up through a massively powerful engine within the center of its body. From the singular satellite orbiting at high lunar altitudes, a single picture of the beast's back was taken- it is not so much a back, but a twisting, twirling collection of cosmic seaweed that trails behind it, brushing gently in the solar winds.

Lulu sighs, seeing a headline stuck into a corkboard that she passes by every day, something that would have shocked her years ago.In bold black text that defies the faded paper it is absorbed into, below the name “New York TImes,” is the apocryphal text that spells doom.

What The Fuck Is Going On???

Hundreds of miles away from the dreary basement, in the haunted skies above the broken state of New Jersey, the beast begins to uncurl itself from its hiding place among the thunderhead. The heat stirs, emanating from the cylindrical beast in waves that are absorbed by the cloud. Lightning strikes across the cloud formations, absorbed by the beast. What passes for a grin streaks across it’s many-jawed face; it has not felt the screaming protestations of the earth for more than a millennia.

The electricity traces along its nervous system, copper-rich blood acting as wires. The beast begins to pulse with power, it’s eyes turning from a dark blue to a pulsating, fiery orange that morphs and shifts. The many brains within the creature known in the South China Sea as a lóng begin to fire at their true maximum. The nearly quarter-mile length of serpent flesh flexes at once, the scales flattening, teeth moving into biting position, wings unfurling, claws tapping in preparation.

The prey approaches.

Those in the speeding metal tube high in the sky do not see the beast in all its glory. A teenager peers out of the porthole, appreciating the wondrous view of nature. Across the aisle, a lawyer goes over their paperwork for an upcoming criminal trial for the fourth time today. If she fails, she will most likely be fired. In business class, a man attempts to quiet the woes within his own mind. Small alcohol bottles are piled in the pocket of the chair in front of him. In the pilots chair, a nervous hand shakily guides the plane through the curling clouds. Even after fifteen years of flight, the fear of thunder is an inherent human trait- it is loud, bright, and powerful. Even a single wild strike against the plane could spell doom for everyone on board, so the pilot gingerly avoids contact with any of the wisps. It is only the experienced eyes of this man, searching along the thunderheads, that sees the outline. Wings unfurl and cast a deep shadow, and the heart of the pilot begins to quicken. He has read the news, he knows what dangers live upon the skies. The heart pumps, pumps, pumps, and as the beast’s eyes cast their angry glower upon the tube, the maw emerging through the milky gray sky, the pumps cease, and the man falls limp to the floor of the cabin.

The stygian blue scales of the beast shimmer in the frail headlight of the plane. Six titanium-strength jawbones move in diamond-enforced sockets, and the beasts mouth engorges in the speed-of-sound winds created by the silken wings. Growing, grasping. The hands grab the nose of the plane, and the jaw begins to masticate. The pilot that fell to his heart is decimated by the teeth, turned into a bloody pulp that rains from the sky. The rest of the machine is buffeted, people flying forward in their seats, the wings tearing away as the power of the beast outmatches the tensile strength of the wings and propulsive force of the engines. Hundreds of feet below, a rain of airplane parts begins, slamming into residential neighborhoods, impaling people with metallic bits. The wings slash and flip through the sky, the engines burning through fuel as they propel themselves in random directions, eventually colliding with an apartment building and bursting into a massive ball of flame.

Above this chaos, the few remaining uninjured passengers of the plane attempt to flee to the rear of the plane. Sensing this, the beast rears back, a coiling mass of digestive fluids, and turns the remaining body of the plane so the tail faces towards the ground. It begins to gently feed the tube into it’s mouth, savoring the delicate flavor, its tongue occasionally sweeping across the remaining area of the plane to snag any delicacies. The rear begins to pile with a hundred screaming flailing bodies, some attempting to destroy the windows to escape this doom. None of it helps. A talon wraps around the cargohold of the snack tube and overturns it, dumping a heaping helping of human meat into their grinding maw. People tumble and shriek, some missing the gullet of the beast and tumbling down to the earth, their bodies creating smears on the pavement.

The beast belches, a flaming roar of triumph in the hunt. Its body is covered in the blood of humans, the shattered remains of their machine. It knows what it is.

It is the Wyvern, the Stalker of the Skies, Keeper of the Clouds.

All will fall to it’s diamond-clawed grasp. All will be made into mulch by its grinding maw. All will be taught to fear the sky as they should.

The sewers belch their steam into the city streets. For those near the grate, a distinct smell of fish fills the misty air, creating the distinct sense of the open ocean. The manhole cover shocks upward, curling in a perfect parabola to smash through the windshield of a nearby driver, the fragile bones in his hands turning into calcium dust under the unforgiving force of a steel disk. From the open shithole emerges, covered in refuse and waste, Anderson, in all their hateful glory. Begilled and bescaled, they pull themselves upwards with powerful arms. Headlights shimmer across the multicolored shell, vehicles turning to avoid the monster emerging from the depths. Pavement crackles and splinters beneath clawed hands, legs like tree trunks flexing, then pulsing upwards.

Flying through the air, Anderson quickly scans the vehicles in front of them. With the eyes of a shark, they spot their targets. Long fins sprout from their elbows and they spin in the air, using air resistance to point themselves towards a semi-truck. Like a missile of flesh and bone they streak downwards, a killer's toothy grin plastered on their death mask cranium. A clawed hand rips through the thin metal shell of the truck. The other arm splits open, the ancient knife used to stab a demon sheds the coil of muscle to be gripped between trembling digits. Neither fearful nor hesitant, but shivering with the bliss of utter domination of the foe. The blade slices through the air with a point of impact that nearly breaks the sound barrier, impaling itself into the forehead of the truck driver, through the fragile cranium, piercing the neoprene headrest, the metal back of the truck. Brains spill from the masticated and shattered frontal lobe, dripping down the wrist of the beast.

Slight gurgles release from the dying lungs, bubbles of blood pooling on the custom ordered rubber mats on the floor of the truck. What once remained of this man’s livelihood- this truck, the doodads and bobble-heads and paperwork, now drift away, covered in shredded steel and chunks of human flesh, falling into the impact-created divot and collecting, a crimson sea of viscera and plastic and paper and oil.


Anderson unleashes this single word, this exultation of violence and death, this adoration of the doom enforced upon this man, this affectation of perfidious trust in oneself and ones own opinions. Anderson has exhorted his will, his sea-enforced power fueling his utter contempt for humankind, his body now a singular tool of revenge that he has perfected using magical means. He mounts the cab of the truck, unleashing a terrible yell of triumph, blood dripping from every corner of his body, claws unsheathed, mind undone, body prepared.

From across the city, a sound rings out. A single thunderclap booms down, the sky still rich with thunderclouds and rain, none of it drowning out this single rebuttal to this declaration of utter violence.

Half a mile away from this particular manhole, sitting in the abandoned parking structure that overlooks a majority of the Houston metro area. Strong features- a tense jaw, a strong brow, eyes the color of a denim jacket, shoulders dense and loose, thighs bulging through cotton- overlook this permutation of humankind’s pension for collecting in large areas. In their calloused and well-worn hands is a piece of experimental technology, one that has been pending eventual release. A large stack of ammo boxes lie next to him, each with less than the average amount of bullets contained within. Fifty-calibar cartridges sit snug and nestled together, the atoms practically vibrating with potential energy. Leaning carefully against this pile lies a weapon of death- a Barret-MCD 908, a .50-caliber plasma caster. The pure size of this beast is enough to insinuate its violent intent- it resembles a series of industrial military toasters. Next to it, a cross-legged soldier awaits their orders, ready to implement the lessons they have learned.

A shock of radio static comes over the headpiece.

“Target Approaching. Ready the Funiculars.”

Andrea Duprene’s eyes open, and her fingers slowly tense and untense, then wrap around the tool she has become one with.

### It approaches.

The rifle is placed gently on the titanium grips mounted to the cement walls of the parking structure. In twelve other structures, similar mounts are joined together, powerful magnets powering up and clicking into place.

Andrea slowly inserts the magazine, biting her lip as the electronic lock engages, a hydraulic press sealing the ammunition into the firing chamber. Her fingers slowly trace the edging of the sealed plastic chamber, left eye twitching with anticipation. A gentle finger enters the trigger guard, the location of the target barely a blip on her mental radar. The sewer manhole is barely visible to the naked eye- but through the x36 scope, it appears as though Andrea is located on the rainy street, swept by the harsh winds and sewer smoke. Her finger caresses the trigger again and again, her breath beginning to quicken, mist tracing across the scope, her chest rising and lowering.

“Target approaches. Ready the Funiculars.”

The flesh between the first and second knuckle, the most calloused part of the hand, gingerly wraps around the custom made steel trigger, a cheek pressed deeply into the metallic stock of the rifle, a shoulder jutting against the butt of the stock, lips parted in a desirous curl.

The manhole flies.

The truck cab crushes.

The skull is pierced.

Gray matter drips.

And a finger tightens around a firing mechanism with a pull barely above a single pound. A massive burst of electrical charge flows through the tool, heating the chamber to a level impossible to hold with the bare hand.

The firing pin clicks.

The bullet flies through the chamber, its specialized material melting, ionizing, and flung out fast enough to pierce the sound barrier.

Anderson is struck, his shoulder exploding in a cavalcade of burst sinew and burnt scales. Bones and rare items strew across the broken and distended truck cab.

He screams.

Another burst of electricity, and his lower jaw is extricated from the rest of his form. He attempts to run, his legs working quickly in an attempt to flee the forces assembled to attack and deny him his right, to retreat and regroup, to exhort the sea for more help.

There is no help.

Anderson is pummeled again and again, his body quickly turning into a collapsing pile of viscera and mush and works, the collected pieces of lore and tools slowly melting from extreme and directed heat.

Andrea has fogged their scope, their body covered in sweat, their eyes curled and wrinkled in an exultation of joy and pleasure. The finger pulls again and again, the rifle firing. A magazine falls between her trembling thighs, held tight between them and pulled closer to her body. Another slams home, the charging bolt unlocked again, and the cavalcade emerges from her tool again. She can’t hear her own belated whimpers over the drumbeat-pulse of her weaponry.

Anderson falls, ended by human creations.

A few cheers spring up across the terminus.

“Target neutralized. Good job, squad.”

Andrea falls, in an unintentional mockery of her fallen foe, and embraces the rifle in ecstasy.

Far away, in a dingy and dreary cement block, Lulu Fallskill sighs heavily, her shoulder scollapsing into the rest of her body, and gingerly crosses out an item on a long and arduous to-do list. She rejoices- only a hundred and ten more things left to do.

Anderson was just another check.

Next comes the real prey.

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