DISCOVERY PART 2E
Day 53; 1020 (Morning)
513's eyes shot towards the grub as he heard the disturbing cadence of high-pitched squeaks coming from its direction.
He couldn't believe what was happening.
[Why now? God damn it. Of all the times it could have woken-up, why now?..Come on! Get yourself together. There's no time to think.] His thoughts raced as he worked to compose himself.
There was no time to agonize over ideal scenarios or optimum actions to take. What needed to happen was action, not meditation.
Propping himself up onto his remaining, workable leg, 513 leapt towards his left side, grabbed a whistler from his supply pack, and threw it at one of the grub's many unsettling eyes.
As the whistler sailed through the air, the eyes of the grub removed their target-lock on 513 and placed it onto the projectile coming towards it.
This act by the grub, proved that it was cautious of suspicious objects flung at its direction.
Seeing this, 513 took initiative and moved towards the closest corpse mound. He did this to hide himself from the grub's vision.
The overbearing sound of the whistler screamed towards the grub like a meteor.
Just before it made contact, the grub lifted one of its scythe-like legs and performed a downward slash, cutting whistler in-half.
This was good news for 513, as the whistler had captured the grub's attention just long enough for him to make it to the nearest corpse mound undetected.
Grub: (high-pitch noise) "WHERE DID IT GO!? WHERE DID MY DELICIOUS MEAL GO!? UWAAAH!!!"
The grub roared, livid over the loss of a rare delicacy.
In its anger, it uncoiled itself, revealing its massive size. It lifted its one-hundred-meter long frame off of the ground using its many bladed legs.
Each segment of its five-meter tall body wriggled and bulged as-if trying to contain violent beasts from escaping containment.
As it moved, it appeared to disgustingly float two-meters above ground. Its many legs took turns distributing weight as they clacked and clattered over the frozen landscape.
Its many eyes randomly darted around in a frenzy. They frantically searched for 513's position like zealots in-search of the holy grail.
As more time passed, the rippling features on the grub's body intensified, revealing the sight of large beasts unsuccessfully attempting to free themselves from inside its bowels.
Then, as-if purposefully elevating its image beyond nightmares, a narrow slit appeared midway across the entire length of its body. The slit continued to expand until the marbled flesh covering it ripped open, revealing a disgustingly wide, crooked mouth spanning the full, horizontal length of its body.
Imagine a python. Now, imagine a python with a mouth stretching from its head to its tail. Then, imagine the mouth of the python stuffed with half-dead creatures, all trying to escape...
The tormented cries and screams of dying beasts inside the grub's mouth drowned the local atmosphere in a melody of suffering.
This went on for quite awhile as 513 silently waited to make his move.
During this time, he had pressed himself up against the corpse mound, allowing himself to assimilate into the pile of death.
As he waited, he covered himself in the entrails of corpses, letting the bloody juices gradually drench his whole figure until he was a filthy mess.
He did this all for camouflage.
Eventually, the grub gave-up on its senseless posturing and began engorging itself on bodies provided by the corpse mounds.
As it fed, the mounds closest to the grub gradually decreased in size.
It continued to stuff its mouth with corpses by using its legs as skewers; it readily shoveled bodies into its over-sized mouth as-if it was a bottomless pit.
513 stealthily watched all of this, carefully noting that every time the grub chewed, none of its eyes remained open. It was a good weakness to abuse.
*CRUNCH* *CRUNCH* *CRUNCH*
The grub grew more voracious as it continued to consume countless corpses. The screams of those unfortunate enough to still be alive were soon replaced by the grinding and snapping of bones.
The wall of mist surrounding the clearing quickly flashed from its normal, dull-white hue to red so often that it created a strobing effect that could cause seizures.
As this happened, 513 snuck around the corpse mound he was hiding behind, and positioned himself to strike. His aim was to enter the two-meter high gap between grub's body and the ground.
*CRUNCH* *CRUNCH* *CRUNCH*
Timing his strike, 513 dashed towards the grub with moderate force -- he couldn't risk blowing-out his remaining leg, but he couldn't slack-off in speed either. Before he knew it, he was situated directly beneath the grub without being noticed.
His plan to capitalize on the grub's weakness was working thus far, but he had yet to inflict damage.
Without a second thought, 513 stabbed the grub's underbelly with his short spear and dash to the side, dragging the short spear above his head to inflict maximum damage. The massive laceration that came as a result of his action, caused viscera and pieces of unidentifiable organs to burst-out from the large cut; 513's attack was akin to making an incision into a severely swollen body; the cut basically self-propagated to relieve pressure.
513 swiftly weaved through the rippling segments of the grub like a maniac. He could have inflicted more damage by further expanding the cut, but he knew the timing of this attack was limited.
Without hesitation, he switched gears.
He retracted his short spear from the grub's underbelly and swung it diagonally to clear a path through the grub's scythe-like legs.
As the legs were painlessly severed away from the grub's body, 513 dashed through the cleared path and retreated back towards the corpse mounds.
This entire attack sequence started and ended all before the grub's brain could register the pain coming from its wounds. As a result, the grub was outplayed. It could neither defend nor retaliate.
Grub: (high-pitch noise) "EEEOOOAAAWWW."
The grub screamed in agony.
In retaliation, it cried-out a familiar sound that brought misery to 513.
The very moment the sound of the concussive blast hit 513's ears, he collapsed to the ground, suffering from excruciating pain.
His eyes turned blood-shot as he foamed at the mouth. He wasn't sure if it was due to his close proximity to the origin of the blast, but the pain he endured was much worse than before.
Luckily, the cry lasted only a fraction of a second, but the damage to his insides were severe.
After coughing-up a substantial amount of blood, 513 went back on the move. He was convinced he would lose in a direct confrontation with the grub, so he relied on guerrilla warfare to inflict meaningful damage.
Thankfully, the grub had greedily surrounded itself with plenty of obstacles -- the corpse mounds -- from which 513 could hide behind.
Once he secured a relatively safe location away from the grub, 513 rested-up and switched from an attack mentality to observation.
The grub was still screaming in pain while 513 cleverly hid himself in plain sight.
Its mouth arched open like a hippo's, revealing its bloated stomach and rows of worn-down teeth that failed to completely kill-off the beasts that it ate; the majority of bodies located at the top of the corpse mounds weren't actually corpses, but stunned creatures.
A clear slump in its body could be seen where 513 had inflicted damage, which accounted for a fourth of its total length.
Its eyes jittered like over-caffeinated bugs. They fixated on a single corpse mound, as-if ready to unleash pent-up anger at any moment. Thankfully, the mound was not the one 513 hid behind.
Without warning, the grub attacked the corpse mound with its legs. The bodies that made-up the mound were all diced into small cubes in a matter of seconds. Once the grub was satisfied by the results of its own brutality, it moved onto the next mound.
By now, 513 had finished constructing and attaching a makeshift splint for his right leg. It was created by lashing together several large bones extracted from nearby corpses.
With the splint in place, his mobility should increase.
After observing the grub's movements for some time, 513 stealthily dashed between corpse mounds until reaching a position ideal for carrying-out his next attack.
Based on the temperament of the grub, his activity seemed to have gone unnoticed.
With preparations complete, he dashed towards the grub.
He knew his initial attack wouldn't work a second time so he aimed at harassing grub's sides, where it had the least amount of legs to defend itself.
As he closed the distance, he grabbed the last whistler from his supply pack and threw it in the opposite direction of where he was heading.
Unfortunately, the prepared distraction was seen-through by the grub, and his attack sequence fell into chaos.
The grub had purposefully lured 513 out from the hiding by pretending to be blinded by rage.
Its countless eyes ceased the facade of uncontrolled jittering and refocused their attention onto 513's location.
He fell into the grub's clever trap the very moment he stepped-out into the open.
In a flash, 513 found himself surrounded by the grub's scythe-like legs.
*SHINK* *SHINK* *SHINK*
He was caught off-guard and was barely able to block a sequence of strong attacks delivered by the grub's bladed legs.
They swung and stabbed at him with no clear pattern. Sometimes the grub would double or triple stack its legs for a single attack. When this happened, 513 could not help but absorb some of the impact from the blow in order to preserve his short spear -- he was fighting a battle of attrition, so his weapon needed to last until the end.
To complicate things, the grub's attacks were all independent of each other. For 513, it felt like he was fighting multiple assailants, rather than just one.
*SHINK* *SHINK* *SHINK*
As 513 batted-away more attacks from the bladed legs, his worries increased.
He had noticed the mocking gazes of the grub's eyes, which made him hesitate and doubt his movements. His gut instinct was telling him that something dangerous was about to happen.
Stopping his advance, he began to backtrack. A failed attack didn't mean a guaranteed death. If he could retreat and regroup, he can turn the fight around.
*SHINK* *SHINK* *SHINK*
513 ignored the leers of countless blood-shot eyes and swiftly dodged and parried every cut and jab the grub could throw at him. The longer he fought, the more the sense of dread enveloped his mind.
513: "Clever bastard."
He muttered dejectedly.
He needed to find a way-out of the mess he had gotten himself into before the grub could fully encircled him with its massive body.
*SHINK* *SHINK* *SHINK*
After parrying a few more blows, 513 put strength into his left leg and dashed towards a gap in the grub's encirclement. A trap was likely prepared inside this gap, but his choices were limited.
A wall of dirt rose-up from the ground, blocking 513's only exit from the grub's barricade.
513 cut the air with his spear, splitting the dirt wall diagonally in-half before crashing into it with his body.
He emerged on the other side, covered in large clumps of dirt and dust.
Before the impact, 513 had mitigated damage to his body by covering the primary contact point with his miniature kite shield. In other words, he covered his left shoulder with his shield to reduce injury just before hitting the wall.
After a quick recovery, 513 lifted himself off of the ground and hobbled towards the edge of the mist.
He propelled himself forward with his left leg and corrected his travel path using the crutches attached to his right. The pain and fatigue that had accumulated in both legs caused him to wince in pain with every step taken; his muscles cried-out in agony, begging for more rest.
Behind him, the grub that had been confident in its trap, had slowed its pace to almost a crawl.
A large trail of blood and guts were splayed-out and unceremoniously dragged across the ground as the grub pursued 513. In its rage, it trampled on its own exposed organs, leaving puddles of juices and blotches of shredded entrails littered all over its travel path.
It was clear it suffered from the damage caused by 513's first attack, but the adrenaline and craving for revenge by-passed any sense of self-preservation it may have once had.
Grub: (high-pitch noise) "You won't get away!"
The grub screamed in it's whistle-like voice.
With its body severely damaged, the grub's attempt to unleash a third concussive sound blast failed in the worst way. Its blast organ, which had already been wrecked from the second concussive blast, burst and imploded within the grub's body; 513 nicked the organ on his initial attack, which led to further damage when it was used.
In its haste to kill 513, the grub managed to inflict more damage onto itself. Thus, becoming weaker and reducing its chances to win the prolonged fight that 513 aimed for.
In the meantime, 513 had reached the edge of the mist and was now jogging in parallel with it. Only a single stride separated him from the mist.
He carefully watched the grub's movements with his peripheral vision as he aimed to calm his heart from jack-hammering out-of-control.
After a few deep breaths, his heart rate settled and he went back on the offensive.
First, he needed to lure the grub closer to the mist wall. He knew that he could out-maneuver its movements, so once it was in position, he intended to sprint towards the opposite end of the clearing. This plan was meant to put distance between him and the grub. Anything that came after that relied on how well the first step worked.
The grub, who had already taken the bait, headed towards 513, just as predicted. Its goal was to quickly end the battle.
From the grub's perspective, it saw 513 as a prey animal on the verge of collapse. His present appearance -- covered in blood, riddled with injuries, dragging innards -- and movements would cause most predators to agree with this perspective.
However, that is only true if the predator underestimated its opponent.
For the grub, its sheer size, speed, power, and ability to dispatch opponents before they ever came near its body, had all tainted its world view. It had never met an opponent it could not kill.
In truth, the grub still saw 513 as an insignificant gnat, even after the damage it had suffered under his attacks.
Once the grub was positioned accordingly, 513 smiled in his heart. Facing the grub for another showdown, he hobbled towards it with his spear at the ready.
As he advanced, pieces of guts that he had confiscated from the corpse mounds, dangled off of his body, making his fake injuries look convincing to the eye. To no surprise, the grub assumed the dangling parts were 513's organs spilling out of his body.
As he drew closer, 513's feigning charge gained speed and guts that he used as props were quickly discarded.
Seeing this, the grub lifted every leg not used to lift its heavy body off of the ground, and attacked indiscriminately.
*SHINK* *SHINK* *SHINK*
Countless bladed legs pierced through 513's fur cloak, shredding it to pieces, but none hit their target.
Grub: (high-pitch noise) "WHERE!?"
The grub screamed in anger.