I stared up at the monstrosity looming in front of me. My diamond sword slipped from my loose hand, landing on the crumbling digital floor and reverting back to a small, floating icon of itself.
This was it. The end of the line. All of the lines of the horizon, the vectors that sketched out the skyline and the clouds mapped across its surface, seemed to fuzz out and desaturate as they were sucked into the maw of the beast before me. Straining my eyes, I could swear that, just before entering, the graphics were reverting back into streams of faintly glowing ones and zeros.
Shepard skidded to a stop beside me, his mouth falling open. “That’s a hell of a bug,” he commented, his words a whisper in the roaring sound of our worlds being destroyed, consumed.
I nodded, still trying to find the words to describe the monster. The creature was illogical, a mishmash of body parts from a dozen different nightmares, all crammed together onto a single body that wasn’t big enough. Some of the limbs seemed intricately detailed, robotic with firing pistons and winking lights or insectoid with shining, spiked black chitin. But other limbs seemed to be nothing more than a series of blocks and tubes, somehow connected and floating together as they flailed back and forth.
At least six gigantic, skeletal wings stemmed back behind the creature, blending into the gridwork lattice revealed behind the vanishing sky. The thicker lines of the wing supports seemed to pulse, growing and absorbing the very universe we stood in. Indeed, perhaps the creature was now the only thing still giving structure to our reality.
Worst of all, however, was the head, if you could even call it such a thing. A central mouth, surrounded by irregularly sized glowing red eyes, gawped open mindlessly. It sucked in the world, innumerable teeth gnashing together inside as it chewed through our digital world. And yet, despite pulling in violent winds towards it, a faint scream, a scream of pure agony, rose up above everything. I didn’t know if it was outside my ears or inside my mind.
I glanced at Shepard, next to me. He was standing strong, sure, but his white-knuckled grip on his particle rifle betrayed his fear. “This is going to be a nasty battle,” he commented, his voice tight with controlled tension. “I would love some air support for this.”
I glanced up at the disappearing sky, tilting back the diamond-studded helm perched atop my blocky head. “I don’t think we’ll have much atmosphere left, pretty soon,” I said.
There was the scrape of boots next to me, accompanied by a metallic ringing. I turned to my left, looking at my other companion. Dressed in green, he didn’t speak, but his gaze narrowed as he stared up at the monster before us. Try as I might, I could see no fear in his young face – his blonde hair framed only rigid determination. He had drawn his sword, an unlit bomb ready in his off hand.
I took one last deep breath and then reached forward, picking up my sword once again. “Well, gentlemen, it’s been good to know you,” I said. “Shepard, you’re on ranged support. Link, I’ll be right behind you.”
The man next to me opened his mouth in a wordless roar and charged forward, his blade held high. I was only a step beside, switching to my bow to get a few hits in before closing with the bug. Behind me, I heard the ratchet as Shepard racked the slide on his assault rifle.
For just a moment, I closed my eyes, and all was silent. And then they snapped open, and I became a slashing whirlwind of death.