Homeward

Posted on January 8, 2017 in GT Fiction by

A group of bandits decides to attack the wrong town. Warning: for mature readers only.

The last thing that he remembered before they plunged the syringe into his arm was Jake’s concerned face, his dark eyes clouded with anxiety. After that, there were only years of savage cruelty and destruction.

***

The sky had become the color of pewter by the time that Ben and Tyler stumbled across the remains of a small town. Like so many other places that they had visited, most of the buildings had been reduced to rubble, and they avoided the huge pieces of wood and concrete and other debris as they headed down the main street. They moved as stealthily as possible, just in case there were gangs around, or worse, Engineered. Not that Ben had ever seen one of the giants up close; the closest that he had gotten was when he was eleven, and only then, it had been a brief glimpse as everyone ran for their lives. All that he could remember was the creature’s immense size and its merciless eyes. Those eyes still showed up in his nightmares from time to time, and he usually woke up in a cold sweat afterward.

He had certainly heard enough stories about them, though. Stories about how their ancestors had created the Engineered as bioweapons, how the gigantic beings had turned on their creators, how cities had been leveled and civilization destroyed. Billions had died, and now the last vestiges of humanity lived like cockroaches, fleeing and hiding whenever the Engineered passed by. And just like cockroaches, they had to scavenge for what they needed, which is why Ben was following Tyler through the ruined town.

They were sifting through the rubble, searching for supplies, when the first cold raindrops pattered against the ground. A few seconds later, a clap of thunder rumbled and Tyler jumped, startled. Ben looked up, noticing how pale his friend had become.

“Christ, Tyler. It’s just some thunder,” he said, and Tyler shook his head quickly.

“No…there’s something else. Can’t you hear it?”

Ben concentrated, but all that he heard was another burst of thunder. No, wait. There was a low, booming noise, and he realized that it wasn’t a thunderclap. This was more rhythmic, ominous. His heart hammered in his chest as he glanced in the direction of the sound. In the far distance, outlined against the lead-colored clouds, he saw it. It was taller than any of the surrounding buildings, completely dwarfing them, and it was clearly man-shaped. As lightning flashed brilliantly white in the sky, he saw the Engineered studying them from several blocks away.

The blond giant was massive, as tall as a skyscraper and deceptively human looking, his nude body muscular and athletic. But this wasn’t a person, and as the Engineered focused on them with his predatory, yellow eyes, Ben knew that they were both dead. For a moment, he was eleven again, chaos breaking out around him as everyone panicked and shrieked and tried to escape from the approaching monster.

“Run!” Tyler screamed as the giant strode toward them, shaking the ground with his footsteps. It sounded like meteorites or bombs crashing to the ground, the tremendous impacts nearly knocking Ben over as he sprinted as fast as he could. I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, he thought, painfully aware that the Engineered was rapidly closing the gap between them.

At the last moment, Ben darted to the left, heaving himself into the empty shell of a building. A few seconds later, the colossus’ foot landed where he would have been, obliterating several ancient, rusted cars beneath its bulk. The enormous foot sank deep into the street, cracking and buckling the pavement. Ben winced as the giant’s footfall blew out the remaining windows in the dilapidated building around him. Then he peered out fearfully, watching as the huge foot lifted, chunks of asphalt and the cardboard-thin remains of cars plummeting to the ground. Slowly he exhaled as the Engineered thundered away. He was safe.

Tyler. Tyler was still out there…

Ben stared through the broken window, helpless to do anything but watch as Tyler stopped running and peeked over his shoulder. A vast shadow fell over him, and he raised both hands, as if he could ward off the inevitable. His cry rose, higher and higher, and then ended abruptly when the giant stepped on him, stomping hard enough that the remaining buildings rocked on their foundations and dust rose up into the air.

If he survived, Ben would mourn for his friend. But right now, all that he could think about was getting away. The Engineered was distracted at the moment, but he was too afraid to move. If he crept outside, the giant would probably see him and crush him as well. Ben swallowed hard, hoping that the colossus would go away.

Then the titanic head turned, and the burning yellow eyes swept the street, finally settling upon Ben’s hiding place. To his horror, the giant’s lips spread wide in a bloodthirsty smile, and the ground trembled as the Engineered headed back toward him. He thought about fleeing outside, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate. Besides, there was no way that he could outrun something so huge. Ben held his breath as the giant’s gargantuan feet crashed down closer and closer.

He was prepared at that point to be smashed flat, or ripped into shreds, or to die in some other agonizing way. What he wasn’t prepared to see was another giant barrel into Tyler’s killer, knocking him to the ground with such force that the building almost collapsed around Ben. A few chunks of drywall fell down around him, but he hardly noticed. The two Engineered held his attention now.

This new giant was slighter shorter and leaner, his thick auburn hair surrounding a surprisingly youthful face. He was scowling, his body posed in an aggressive stance. With his raised fists, he looked like a boxer, and when the other colossus tried to stand back up, he jabbed him hard in the lower belly.

Ben had heard lots of things about the Engineered: that they were highly intelligent but that they refused to communicate with people; that they were cruel and gloried in causing widespread death and destruction, wiping out any settlement that they found. But he had never heard about how the giants interacted with one another. As he stared out at the battling titans, it was obvious that they disliked one another. No, “dislike” wasn’t a strong enough word to describe it; from the way that their golden eyes were smoldering, he could tell that they loathed each other.

The bigger giant growled in pain and fury, moving with a quickness that belied his incredible size. He knocked his opponent down, and the two titans grappled and clawed at one another, pulverizing entire neighborhoods beneath their mammoth bodies. As the ground shook violently beneath him, Ben decided that this was a good time to run. He dashed out into the road, taking a moment to gawk up at the battling giants.

The tables had turned, and the smaller Engineered was taking a beating, the larger colossus straddling his torso and pounding him over and over again in the face. Each blow was horrifying, like a million wrecking balls pummeling down, and Ben heard the dull crunch of bones, the sharp slap of flesh hitting flesh. He actually felt sorry for the giant, whose powerful legs twitched and jerked spasmodically.

But those feelings were ridiculous. So what if the smaller giant was hurt? He was sure that the creature had probably murdered countless people, and would probably slaughter him as well, if he had the chance.

As the rain turned from a light shower into a heavy downpour, Ben blinked and wiped the water from his face. One last punch, and then the larger colossus withdrew his fist, which was now stained vermillion with blood. Was the other one dead? Ben couldn’t tell, although the giant was motionless, his face turned to the side. When the winner stood back up to his full awe-inspiring height, Ben ducked behind the remnants of a brick wall and squeezed his eyes shut, praying that the behemoth hadn’t seen him.

Freezing rain splashed down his face and neck, dripping into his shirt, as he crouched there for what seemed like a million years. There was a series of booms as the Engineered walked away, and it was only after Ben was convinced that he was gone that he opened his eyes. Through the torrential rain, he saw the dark-haired giant’s mountainous form. It was rather convenient that this Engineered had just showed up at the right time. The questions raced through his head: what had the giant been doing out here? Searching for victims? It was impossible to tell what exactly motivated the creatures.

Pulling the hood of his threadbare jacket up over his head, Ben started to trudge toward the settlement. He was contemplating what he would tell Tyler’s family when he heard a deafening rumble. To his amazement, the dark-haired giant, the one whom he thought was dead, had turned his face in Ben’s direction. One eye was swollen shut, the surrounding skin a deep, eggplant purple, but the other eye was wide open, staring intently at him. A rattling whistle accompanied each of the titan’s breaths.

Ben stopped, meeting the colossus’ yellow gaze. He stood there, captivated, listening to the Engineered’s labored breathing. And then, as if driven by an invisible force, he slowly crept closer.

***

He was certain that at one point, his name had been something else, Jon or Craig or a thousand other possible names. But now he was known only as E57, one of the Engineered. He was also sure that he had been a normal person once, but those memories were vague and fleeting (not that he was even supposed to have memories; when the military had wiped his mind, they hadn’t done a good job).

Most of the time, E57 wandered through the deserted cities and towns, hunting for new victims. Animals, tiny people, other Engineered…it didn’t matter. He constantly felt an overwhelming urge to destroy, and he never questioned it. Well, not until that night, when he spotted the two humans being chased by one of the other Engineered. E57 dove after the larger giant, but in the end, he had been pounded into submission.

The pain was incredible, and as he lay there, it was a struggle just to expand his lungs. But he would heal. He always did, at a rate that would have astonished the humans. All that he needed to do was wait, and allow his broken bones to mend. So he relaxed his powerful body, listening to his own raspy breathing.

And that was when he noticed the tiny man watching him with a mixture of terror and curiosity. Any other time, E57 would have snatched him up and crushed into into pulpy goo between his fingers. But he was too tired and too beaten to sit up and seize him. The little creature stared at him for awhile, shivering in the drizzling rain; then, to E57’s surprise, he approached him, close enough that the giant could have swatted him.

They stared at each other, and for some reason, a name slipped into E57’s mind: Noah. At first, he had no idea what it meant, and then he realized that it was his name, that he had finally remembered it after all of these years. He drew in a deep breath, which hurt horribly. The fragmented memories coalesced, and he knew that he had been a soldier, that he had volunteered to become this, that everyone that he knew was gone, destroyed at his hands or at the hands of the other Engineered. He wheezed in pain, tasting his own salty blood in his mouth.

The tiny man remained where he was, seemingly unaware that he was in grave danger. E57’s hand twitched, and he moved it forward, intending to squash the human. But he didn’t bring his fist down; for the first time in years, he felt no desire to do so. And so he and the man silently watched one another as the rain came down.

Three Years Later

Eric took a deep swig of the warm water from the plastic bottle, ignoring the slightly-metallic taste. His eyes were focused on the road that stretched out before them, a seemingly-endless strip of fragmented pavement, weeds growing up from the deep cracks. In the far distance, he could barely make out a cluster of buildings. A settlement, no doubt. One with food and fresh water and ammo. The thought made him slowly lick his lips as he screwed the cap back on the bottle.

“So what do you think?” Marco asked. He was driving the ancient Hummer, and although the vehicle was by no means small, he still seemed to be crammed into his seat. The other man had to have a hundred pounds on Eric, his meaty fists engulfing the steering wheel.

“I think it looks like an easy target,” Eric replied, still peering through the dust-streaked windshield. All around the Hummer, the rest of his raiding party idled on their motorcycles and in their rusting cars, waiting for his signal. He gestured, and they drove forward into the settlement, past shacks made of corrugated tin and scraps of wood. If there were people, they were no doubt hiding from the raiders. But that was fine. Eric and the others had become good at finding people and forcing them to give up their valuables. If they cooperated, he sometimes even let them live.

Marco stopped the Hummer and Eric stepped out, flinging aside the water bottle. He surveyed the surrounding buildings, wondering how many of them there were. A hundred, probably. From the look of the shacks, it appeared that they had been for awhile, which was odd. Most people were nomads, constantly trying to avoid the Engineered and bandits.

Something was beginning to seem…wrong.

His hand slid down and found the gun at his belt. The weight of the weapon was reassuring, as was the sound of the other raiders following close behind him. Adrenaline poured through his veins, and he realized that he enjoyed this part: the hunt, and then the inevitable kill when he found his prey. The loot wasn’t particularly important to him.

Someone moved in front of Eric, and he saw that it was a tall man with curly brown hair. The guy didn’t seem to be armed, which was odd.

“Hey, you!” Eric shouted, and the stranger froze, turning his head in their direction. Usually, people were scared shitless when they saw him, but the man didn’t seem particularly concerned. If anything, he looked slightly irritated, which was confusing. Who in their right mind wouldn’t be afraid of a gun pointed in their direction?

“Where are the others?” Eric demanded, and the man slowly put up his hands.

“Look, you don’t want to do this. If you leave now, you won’t die.”

Eric barked out a laugh, aiming the gun at the stranger’s face. “Seriously? You’re the one who should be worrying about dying. Now, who’s in charge here?”

“I am. Well, sort of,” the man replied.

“Uh-huh.” Eric was about to say more, but one of the nearby doors creaked open and an older woman peeked out.

“Ben, what’s going on?” She asked, and Eric swung the gun around. One shot, and she collapsed to the ground, a crimson stain blossoming across her dress. The man (Ben, Eric guessed) blanched, his mouth stretching out into a tight, thin line.

“Now, are you going to tell us where everyone else is?” Eric asked, and Ben’s shoulders drooped in defeat.

“Yeah,” he mumbled, and a smirk spread across Eric’s face. This was more like it. They’d find the rest of the inhabitants, take anything of worth. And then Eric would shoot Ben in the balls, just because it would please him to do so.

The earth moved beneath their feet without warning. Eric had felt tremors like it before, and cold terror coiled around his heart. There was one of the damned giants nearby, and he knew that it was foolish to stay around, unless he wanted to be ripped apart (or worse). Behind him, Marco and the others were already retreating. He was about to join them when the ground shook, harder this time, and then he saw the Engineered, rising high above the scraggly trees. Even worse, the giant was headed in the direction of the settlement, the ground trembling beneath his footfalls.

Eric did the wisest thing that he could…he ran.

He could hear the colossus’ approach, and when he glanced over his shoulder, he saw titanic legs behind him. Jesus, that thing could move quickly. Oddly enough, the giant wasn’t plowing through the shacks. If anything, he seemed to be avoiding them.

Even stranger was the fact that Ben wasn’t fleeing. He stood there, seemingly unconcerned that a bloodthirsty monster was bearing down upon him. That was fine with Eric…let him be a distraction. He ran faster, making it to the Hummer just as the giant reached Ben. This was turning out to be a perfect clusterfuck, Eric decided as he hopped into the passenger side. But on the bright side, at least they were going to get away.

With a loud squeal of tires against pavement, the Hummer pulled away. Eric looked through the windshield at the giant, who was now looming high above Ben like a mountain made flesh. As much as he would have liked to shoot the other man, he had to admit that this was much more satisfying. The Engineered was probably going to chew him up into mashed little pieces.

Ben didn’t seem particularly frightened as the giant bent down, his gargantuan shadow pooling over several buildings. If it had been Eric, he would have already pissed himself, especially as the mammoth hand descended down from the sky. But Ben stood there, accepting his fate as the tree-like fingers bent around him.

Eric had seen the Engineered interact with people before, and it always ended in blood and pain and shrieks. But to his surprise, the colossus picked Ben up with astounding delicacy, pinching his torso between an enormous thumb and forefinger. He held the man up before his face, and then lifted him toward his right ear. It was almost like he was listening to Ben, which Eric could hardly believe. The giant smiled, the expression so vicious that Eric felt his blood turn to ice. He had seen a lot of horrible grins before, but that one was definitely the worst.

“Drive faster!” He snapped at Marco.

“I’m driving as fast I can,” the other raider growled. Eric didn’t doubt that Marco was telling him the truth, and as he glanced out the passenger window, he saw the giant striding after them. He wasn’t running, but he was still catching up with them, quickly closing the distance. Swearing beneath his breath, Eric watched as the Engineered cut off two of the raiders’ vehicles. The first car he flattened underfoot like a large cockroach, the metal crumpling and compacting with almost no resistance. Eric could imagine that those inside had been mashed into nothing more meat and broken bones. But at least they died quickly. The men in the other car suffered an even worse fate.

Eric could hear the screams and gunshots as the giant scooped up the car in one hand. He studied it with his inhumanly golden eyes, and then pried off the top of the vehicle with a fingernail. The shrieks intensified as the titan’s full lips parted and his tongue slipped out, burrowing into the hole in the car. One man managed to open the door and tumble out; the other was pressed between the windshield and tons of hot, slimy flesh. He wiggled for a few seconds before his body ruptured, spilling bright blood all over the windshield.

The other man cried out as the giant withdrew his tongue and flicked the car to the ground. He raised his hands in some sort of futile gesture, and then the huge tongue swept over him as well. The last image that Eric had of the other raider was his writhing body stuck to the surface of the tongue, glued to the reddish-pink flesh by saliva. The Engineered pulled his tongue back into the dark cavern of his mouth and swallowed his victim with a single gulp.

“Christ,” Eric gasped, his heart galloping out of control. In the side mirror, he saw the giant snatch up an old truck and tear open that vehicle as well. As much as he hated losing men, Eric was also grateful for the distraction. The giant became smaller and smaller in the mirror until he eventually disappeared from sight. With a long, shuddering sigh of relief, Eric leaned back in his seat.

***

By all accounts, Ben should have died three years earlier. The Engineered should killed him, his flattened body left to rot in the ruins of the town. But the giant had just watched him, and Ben had eventually sat down to rest when the rain stopped. He must have fallen asleep, because he had been jolted awake by shuddering tremors. When he glanced up, he saw the huge hand reaching for him, and he had received a terrifyingly close glimpse of the colossus’ palm, every line and wrinkle magnified in amazing detail.

He could have tried to run, but he had known that it would have been futile. If the giant had wanted to crush him, there was nothing that he could have done to prevent it. So Ben had remained motionless as the fingers and palm closed around his entire body. The Engineered had brought him closer to his face for inspection, and Ben could see that he was almost healed. The purplish bruises and scrapes had miraculously vanished, replaced by healthy flesh.

Then the giant had done something completely unexpected…he spoke. Ben had never heard an Engineered speak before; he didn’t even know that they were capable of it. But the colossus addressed him in a thunderous voice:

“Who are you?”

Ben had been transfixed by the mammoth eyes. “B-Ben.”

The giant had seemed to be staring at something other than the tiny man pinched between his fingers. Ben had hung there, trying not to think about the fact that he was dangerously high above the ground, held in the fist of a creature who would probably eat him.

“I think that I’m remembering more,” the Engineered told him. “Some of the memories seem real, and some don’t. It’s…confusing.”

Ben had nodded, and out of the corner of his eye, he had peeked at the ground far, far below.

“I signed up for a project, I remember that. They changed me into this. Everything after that is a blur,” the giant had said. “There was so much death and destruction. I felt cities crumble beneath me, and I enjoyed it.”

Ben had suppressed a shudder and glanced up into the sprawling face. “P-please don’t hurt me.”

“I won’t.” The Engineered had furrowed his brows. “You remind me of someone, but I can’t remember who.”

Again Ben had nodded, relieved when the giant had put him down. He could have run, especially since he had some reassurance that he wasn’t going to be killed. But he hadn’t. The giant had fascinated him too much. For the longest time, everyone had believed that the Engineered were sadistic beasts, incapable of anything resembling compassion or reason. But this one had been different, and so Ben wanted to learn everything about him.

Listening to the giant’s history had been like listening to a half-finished story, with entire sections missing. Still, he had gotten a better picture of what the Engineered were, and more importantly, what they had been: ordinary people. They weren’t just monsters created in some lab, as he had previously thought.

He had eventually headed back toward the settlement, and to his surprise, the giant had followed him, albeit at a distance. Ben had wondered if the giant was also curious about him. What had he said? “You remind me of someone.” Perhaps a brother, or a friend, or a lover? Regardless of who it had been, the Engineered was clearly interested in him. Most of the giants didn’t stay in one place for very long, choosing instead to wander. But E57 had lingered, showing up unexpectedly and watching the settlement.

Of course, the others had been worried. They had wanted to pack up and leave, go somewhere before the colossus decided to destroy them all. Ben had convinced them to stay, and they had had an uneasy truce with the Engineered. It was entirely possible that the giant could turn on them; Ben hoped that wouldn’t be the case.

At the moment, E57’s bloodlust was focused on the raiders, and Ben looked on as the titan finished ripping apart the vehicle and its passengers, twisted bits of metal crashing down around his feet. If he squinted, Ben could make out the other raiders as they fled.

“They’re getting away,” he commented, and the giant narrowed his gold eyes.

“No, they’re not.”

***

As they pulled into the camp, Eric decided that he needed a stiff drink. He was silently counting his losses, and the more that he thought about it, the more that his head hurt. Fucking giant, he thought. Well, at least he survived. He would try to console himself with that thought as he sipped his moonshine.

The sun was setting behind the clouds as Eric got out of the Hummer, slamming the door in frustration. He immediately marched toward his tent, and the other raiders gave him a wide berth. They knew his anger, and they didn’t want to bear the brunt of it. Eric’s mind was on the settlement, though. Already, he was plotting revenge, and he figured that the giant wouldn’t be around forever. Once the Engineer wandered off, Eric would finish the job.

He was unzipping his tent when he heard the frightened shouts. Looking up, Eric saw something straight out a nightmare: it was the Engineered from before, and he was approaching the raiders’ tents with a slow and malevolent deliberateness. Usually, the creatures wouldn’t bother to hunt people this far, and once again, it occurred to Eric that this giant was different.

His first reaction was to grab for his gun, although he quickly remembered that most weapons were useless against the creatures. Eric watched, petrified, as the giant strode into the camp, his right foot landing on a cluster of tents with astonishing force. The tents disappeared in an instant, and the titanic foot sank deep into the ground, the surrounding earth buckling upwards in visible waves.

Eric trembled as the Engineered raised his foot, the shreds of tent fabric fluttering down from his sole, and then took another deafening, deadly step. Already the raider’s mind was racing, trying to figure out the best escape route. It was difficult to think clearly with the chaos erupting all around him, though. People were panicking and fleeing in all directions, terrified of the giant high above them.

With a sickening crunch, the Engineered stepped on a large group of raiders, crushing them with the same disdain as a man stomping out vermin. He lifted his foot, inspected the tiny, flattened corpses littering the depression in the ground. The cruel pleasure was evident on the giant’s face, and Eric shook harder. His gaze moved to the towering being’s hand, and to his surprise, he spotted a small figure standing on the outstretched palm. It was that guy from earlier…Ben. Was the giant actually working with him? The idea was unbelievable, although he couldn’t dispute the evidence. And he certainly didn’t have time to think about it much because the colossus was moving toward him, obliterating tents, cars and people underfoot.

Eric ran, pushing others aside. As long as he got away, that was all that mattered. He could always put together a new group of raiders; people were desperate and willing to do anything nowadays for some food and a sense of security.

Then the darkness fell over him, a vast shadow that stretched several hundred feet. Eric gazed upwards, tilting his head back so far that it almost hurt. The giant was reaching down, his pillar-like fingers curling around several people and lifting them up. One person managed to wiggle free of the titan’s grasp, although he didn’t seem to realize that he was dangerously high above the ground. Eric observed the man’s descent, his limbs thrashing through the air frantically; then he landed with a splat next to him, his body reduced to jelly upon impact.

The giant devoured those in his fist, his powerful jaws and teeth pulverizing them into a bloody mass of flesh and bone. Eric cringed at the gruesome sounds and tried to flee. But the Engineered lowered himself down into a squatting position and cut off his escape route with one hand. With his other hand, he put Ben down. Flabbergasted, Eric watched as the other man walked right up to him.

“H-how are you working with th-that thing?” Eric managed to stammer. Ben put his hands into the pockets of his jeans and cocked his head slightly, studying him with a chilling expression.

“He’s my friend, I think,” he replied.

“Th-that’s impossible!”

Ben shrugged. “Believe what you want.”

“S-so can you tell him to let me go?” Eric hated how terrified and meek he sounded.

“I could, but I’m not going to. You had your chance to leave the settlement, and you blew it.” Ben’s eyes were as cold as those of the colossus towering over them. There would be no negotiating with him, and so in one last desperate move, Eric reached for his sidearm. But before he could shoot Ben, the giant struck him with his forefinger.

It was nothing more than a nudge, but the Engineered was so incredibly enormous and so inhumanly strong that Eric went flying. He was barely aware that he bounced off the ground; his vision had tunneled, and his entire body screamed with agony. For several seconds he just laid there, afraid that the giant had broken all of the bones in his body. Then slowly, he started to pull himself out, only to feel the gargantuan fingertip press down into his back and legs.

Squealing, Eric tried to worm his way free, but the sheer weight of the digit pinned him in place. It hurt to breathe, and he couldn’t draw enough oxygen into his lungs. Just before he passed out, the giant removed his finger, and he greedily sucked in air. Eric looked up at the colossus, who was still crouching over him. Apparently, crushing and devouring most of his gang had stirred up sadistic lust in the colossus; the Engineered’s face was now half-hidden behind his growing erection.

Something wet and viscous splashed down beside him, several buckets’ worth of fluid. It was pre-cum, and it dribbled down from the crimson cockhead in a steady stream. Eric shuddered in fascinated disgust, and then tried to crawl away. Again, the giant pressed him beneath his finger, and he tasted dirt in his mouth as his face was pushed deep into the ground.

“I’m s-s-sorry!” He screamed, his voice muffled. The Engineered didn’t reply with words; instead, he let out a deep, almost sub-bass, groan of pleasure. The thunderous noise vibrated Eric’s bones and teeth along with the ground itself. This time, when the giant lifted his finger, he knew better than to try to escape. Rolling himself over, he saw that the colossus had scooped up a handful of raiders with his free hand, and he could hear their desperate pleas, their panicked shrieks.

Baring his immense teeth, the giant wrapped his fingers around his shaft. The huge fist pumped up and down with a horrible slowness, and by the fifth or sixth time, there was a loud crunch. Blood bubbled up over the titan’s fingers and coated the underside of his mammoth cock, and red droplets rained down around Eric as he moaned in terror. This wasn’t right; they were supposed to be the ones that people feared, the ones who could do whatever they pleased. In an instant, he understood what it was to be the prey, helpless before a cruel and powerful predator.

The giant’s massive body shivered in pleasure as he reduced Eric’s men to nothing more than gooey lube. Eric tried to avoid looking too much at the horror show above him, although he caught brief, nightmarish glimpses of severed limbs and mashed bodies plastered on the Engineered’s flesh. The golden eyes observed him, like the eyes of a bloodthirsty god regarding his future sacrifice. Eric tried to sit up, unable to bear the malicious stare any longer. He had just enough time to see the giant tense, a growl erupting from his throat.

A millisecond later, his world exploded in milky white, and hot, thick liquid filled his mouth, his ears, his nose. His lungs burned with a fiery agony, and he thrashed and fought in the thick slime until his body went limp.

***

E57 watched the tiny man stop moving, his bloated body mired in the puddle of semen like a bug in syrup. As always, he felt a vicious satisfaction in knowing that he had destroyed those who stood in his way. And now that the raider was dead, he didn’t pay anymore attention to him.

The others tried to hide from him, but with his preternatural vision, he could spot them right away. E57 crushed every last one of them, their corpses reduced to little splotches in his footprints. His breaths exploded out in ragged pants, the excitement sending jolts of adrenaline throughout his system. Then the bloodlust was gone, and there was only person left standing. Ben was staring up at him, and once again, E57 was struck with that sense of familiarity.

He blinked, then closed his eyes. For a moment, he was no longer E57; he was simply Noah. Seated across from him was his best friend Jake. They were outside, the summer air warm against his face.

“I don’t think that it’s a good idea, Noah,” Jake said for the tenth time, running his hand through his curly hair. He looked so anxious that Noah couldn’t argue with him. Instead, he just shrugged and drained the last of his beer, the light catching on the bottle. Jake had always been such a worrywart. What was the worst that could happen? Everyone said that the experiment was perfectly safe, that it could be reversed if need be.

That was the last image that he had of Jake, sitting outside drinking beers and worrying about his future. After that, there had only been blood and death and destruction, decades of ruining everything that humanity had built. Jake had been right. The whole experiment had doomed everyone, including himself.

Noah opened his eyes, back in the present. The little man was still observing him, hands in his pockets. Jake…that was who Ben resembled. Maybe that was what made Noah save him in the first place: that small glimpse of his friend.

Bending down, the giant extended his hand, palm facing the sky. Ben’s movements tickled his skin as he crawled up between his fingers. How minuscule the man was; even his pinkie was several times his size. Noah stood back up, holding Ben gently but firmly, and headed home.