So, quite a while ago, I wrote a short little piece called “Reaver.” Well, I decided that it needed a second part, so here it is: the continuing story!
You can read the first part here.
Crouching in the tall corn, Daniel gripped his hammer until his knuckles turned white. He could feel the earth shaking with each step. Waiting, willing himself to be motionless, he tried to banish the undercurrent of fear that curdled in his stomach.
Six years had passed. Six years, but the Reaver had always returned, lurching unsteadily through the chest-high corn. Daniel had watched, had talked with the other young men of the village, had plotted and laid plans.
Across the field, from the stand of old and grizzled oaks, Daniel heard the first pop of fireworks. Just as they had hoped, the Reaper responded, ancient subroutines forcing the legs to change direction. Steam hissed from escape valves and cracks as the mountain of metal and clockwork began advancing on the trees.
As the Reaper grew closer, a dark shape looming through the corn, Daniel swallowed heavily. Their enemy was so huge. From across the fields, the war machine had always seemed smaller. Less imposing. Glancing along the line, he saw the same emotions, the same thoughts, painted on the faces of his friends. Daniel held up a calming hand. Wait.
The Reaper was almost on top of them. A leg stabbed down, only feet away from Daniel’s position. Just a little further.
Daniel had chosen the most forward position for himself. He was the leader. Bringing down the Reaper had been his idea. For that reason, Daniel would strike at the back, waiting until the Reaper had passed his position before beginning the attack. Even now, as he stared up at the underside of the machine, a mass of gears, pistons, and armored plates high above the young men, he was still committed to his plan.
Finally, the Reaper was nearly past their position. It was time to strike. Daniel tensed his legs, waiting for the next pop from the forest.
The next firework exploded. With a yell, Daniel and his friends leapt up from their hiding spots.
The Reaper’s response was alarmingly rapid. Jonah had shared much of his wisdom with Daniel, before he passed, and Daniel knew that the minigun, flamethrowers, and other weapons systems were broken. But the Reaper was still massive and dangerous. The eight legs danced back and forth, stabbing down into the earth. One of the boys approaching from the other side, Jack, was caught by one of the metal pillars, impaled, torn apart.
Daniel dragged his eyes away, focused on his target. His blacksmith’s hammer was in his hand, and he swung it with all the force he could muster at the nearest leg. The vibration from the blow threatened to tear the weapon from his grasp, but the metal plates of armor on the leg, weakened and rusted from time and neglect, shattered into brittle fragments.
One of the supports gone. A dozen meters away, he heard the crash of two more legs giving way. Hissing steam gave the illusion of a scream as the Reaver sagged, forced to use its remaining legs for support.
Above the screams from his friends, battle cries and shouts of pain, Daniel heard the pop of the next set of fireworks. Their time was running out. Jonah had warned him that, after two minutes, the Reaper’s secondary defense systems would engage. Half of their time was gone.
Another two legs, shattered. The Reaper sagged, coming to land among the corn with a massive crunch. Daniel leapt forward, scrambling up the rocky sides. The Reaper was like a hill, steep but spotted with protruding machinery. The others, those that had kept both limbs and wits about them, also hurried to climb.
Gazing up, Daniel could see the red blinking light of the control center. “The brain, if you can call it such, is beneath that,” Elder Jonah had told him. “You’ll have to smash your way in, cut off the connections. It’s the only way to make the thing stop, to truly kill it.” Daniel put his head down and forced his arms to climb faster.