Part 1 | [Part 2](https://www.reddit.com/r/jraywang/comments/7i53fr/reaper_part_2/
) | [Part 3](https://www.reddit.com/r/jraywang/comments/7iavci/reaper_part_3/
) | [Part 4](https://www.reddit.com/r/jraywang/comments/7iokx3/reaper_part_4/
I wouldn’t call it a war. Extermination maybe. Though I’d more aptly describe it as a harvest. By the time they reached our world and penetrated the stratosphere, people sought them out in droves to be harvested. Of course, they knew what that actually meant. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been so eager.
Ten years before the *Angels* descended from the sky, they had already sent what some referred to as divine retribution: a virus. Though this virus in particular only targeted women. It spread faster than a wildfire and had a 100% mortality rate. Worse yet, it was completely undetectable. In our desperation, we became animals. We locked our wives, daughters, and mothers deep underground under the constant shine of UV radiation and still they got infected. Within five years, the last woman had died leaving the rest of humanity to slowly die with her.
By the time they arrived, we welcomed them with open arms into every one of our major cities. Most bowed their heads and practically begged to be killed. Some fought against them. These were the ones that still remembered the pain of watching their daughters, wives, and mothers die. They couldn’t hope to survive, but at least they could enact their own version of divine retribution.
Looking back at it now, I know that the *Angels* planned for them. They wanted us to retaliate. Otherwise, where would be the fun? Men charged at them by the millions. Some to die. Some to kill. To the *Angels*, it was all the same.
Until we killed the first one.
Back when I used to write, I always made sure to name my hero something memorable. If not a strange name, then certainly a strange title. Evan the Incorruptible. Matthew the Harbinger. But in real life, heroes rarely have titles, some don’t even have names. That was the case for humanity’s last hero because nobody knew who he was.
We had only stories. The stories ranged from fantastical to downright fiction, but they always ended the same. We had killed one. The *Angels* must’ve been as skeptical as we were because they refused to change their tactics. They kept all our major cities and welcomed anyone to try and take it back.
By the fifth dead *Angel*, they learned of their miscalculation. Soon, we learned of it as well. Human beings shared mana and with it, we could do wondrous or terrible things. Magic no longer belonged to the realm of fiction. The elements bent to our will. Lightning struck where we pointed, tornados formed where we stood, the ground swallowed up entire cities as we willed it.
Suddenly, men stopped volunteering to be harvested. With their newfound power, they decided to fight back, even if victory had already been stolen from us. They had turned us into animals and then backed us into a corner. Foolish.
And that was good enough for us. Looking back, I wonder if we were as foolish as the *Angels*. We, who were content with dying in our little blazes of glory, having accomplished nothing but thinning their ranks by just a bit. It was selfish, but what is there to expect from men who had nothing else to live for?
None of us had the vision you had. The vision you have.
Tyler put the pen down, staring at the word *you*. He wondered if his letter would ever find its way to this certain *you*. While humanity had become animals, one man had gone even further. He had been called a monster by both *Angel* and man. Nobody knew which side he fought for, only that he killed both indiscriminately.
If Tyler were to write his story, he wouldn’t know whether to make this man the villain or the hero. Oh how he wished he could’ve written this story, but the only way this story continued was if he died. Beside his letter and pen, sitting at the edge of his wooden table was a silver revolver. The single lightbulb above him glinted off its barrel.
A small grin spread across Tyler’s face. He grabbed the gun, its metal like ice, and pressed it to his temple. Enough humans had died where he could stop the bullet with only his thoughts. The bullet couldn’t even hurt him unless he wanted it to. But he did. For the sake of humanity, he needed the bullet to kill him.
With his free hand, he picked the pen back up.
As the last storyteller on Earth, I bestow you the title of Reaper. A monster. A villain. Our last hero.
Go forth, Reaper, my death as an offering. With my passing, there will be only four humans left. I have already contacted two of them and they will die with me. The last I’m sure you will easily find as your powers will have increased two-fold. By then, your mind will stretch the globe, perhaps even the stars. And when you become the last human alive, I cannot even fathom how powerful you will be.
Show our *Angels* how fragile they are in the face of a god.
Tyler pulled the trigger.
Part 1 | [Part 2](https://www.reddit.com/r/jraywang/comments/7i53fr/reaper_part_2/
) | [Part 3](https://www.reddit.com/r/jraywang/comments/7iavci/reaper_part_3/
) | [Part 4](https://www.reddit.com/r/jraywang/comments/7iokx3/reaper_part_4/
All us helpless billions watch on our little glowing rectangles as our fellow humans die in droves. They fall screaming, choking, burning. The internet’s bad in the house, so we hunker on the steps of the chicken coop to see it.
Together we watch the end of the world. Our breath clouds and storms around us. But we do not notice the cold. Our hearts and bones are lead.
My siblings don’t make a sound. I look between the three of them and the black, faultless sky. I wonder if the afterlife looks like night, or if just looks like nothing. I wonder if I’ll find out soon.
Somewhere far away, death shrieks scarlet overhead. Ships with roving eyes swarm the sky like an army of locusts. Bodies, whole and unwhole, strewn out one atop the other, left where they fell. Entire skyscrapers collapse like dominoes. News anchors weep, openly, if they’re on the air at all. My sister flicks restlessly through live streams, unable to pick which tragedy to behold.
We crowd my oldest sister’s phone, barely able to watch yet unable to look away.
She stops at the live press conference from the president. His voice is grave and hollow; he speaks to us from a dark room in some bunker somewhere. He says, “—at this point we have little hope. We will defend ourselves to the end, but tonight, please, stay inside, stay with your loved ones—”
My brother Aaron has his head between his knees. When we were kids he ran screaming after the cougar that took his puppy. (Aaron didn't catch it.) I never believed fear was an emotion he had. “Turn that shit off,” he gasps.
“Ignoring the aliens invading our fucking planet won’t make them go away,” Maya snaps but she switches to Facebook. Not that any of her friends would have time to post *oh shit I’m dying*, anyway.
Out here, under the unblinking stars, surrounded by a chorus of crickets and coyote, I can’t fathom what waits out there.
“Someone has to tell Papa,” Jackie murmurs. She is my twin, but you can’t tell. People always seem disappointed that there’s such a thing as non-identical twin sisters.
“You’ll just scare him.” Maya, the oldest, has always been the unofficial boss of all of us. She made it official when Dad started mistaking her for our mother and trying to scramble uncracked eggs.
“He deserves to know,” she insists.
“If they come here,” Maya says through her teeth, “we’re not getting a panicked old man into the truck without hurting someone, alright?” Her words hang frozen for a moment.
“Do you think they’ll come out here?” I whisper. I am the youngest by eight minutes, and I am good at the part.
“No,” says Jackie, quickly. “We’re in the middle of nowhere.”
Aaron pulls his beanie over his eyes. “I wouldn’t rule it out, Jack.”
Maya gasps into her fingers. “Oh, god, they’re in Spokane.”
Bile shoots up my throat. That’s barely a hundred miles from here. Not even a particularly large city. I wonder if they’re hunting us one by one. Like rabbits.
“Shit, is that Maddie’s—?” Aaron snatches the phone from her hands.
I lean over his shoulder to see.
My sister’s friend has pressed her phone lens to the window of her dorm room. In the background, she speaks in rapid, panicked whispers with her roommate.
Outside her window mortars plummet in blue and yellow streaks, big as bowling balls. I hear her cry, “Are they bombing us?” as the first one connects. It blooms soundlessly, a pale yellow locus, and then the power of it explodes outward.
It takes Maddie maybe six seconds to die. She has enough time to say, “I need to call my mom,” as the wall of smoke and debris rushes toward her like a sulfurous tsunami. The window shatters. The video goes black.
I don’t even realize what I’ve seen until Maya starts bawling into her hands.
A strange fire tingles in my palms, my belly. I feel the urge to move. To rise and fight.
“We have to do *something*,” I say.
Aaron looks at me like I’m an idiot. “Like what?”
My fingers dance against the leg of my jeans. I know I should be scared as hell, but something in me is restless. Hungry for something very old, and long-forgotten.
I stand up and face my siblings. I look them over carefully, in case this is the last time I see them. “We will not just watch.” I point at the house. “We won’t just let them kill everything and everyone and just stand here and *watch*.”
Just south of us, down beyond the hide of the mountain, the sky turns red with fire.
Tears stream down my brother’s cheek. “I can’t believe this is fucking it.”
I shake my head, insistently. Insanely. I don’t know why, but I can’t accept that this *is* it. That this is truly how we fall.
I ball my fists up at my sides. A furious heat snaps at the bars of my ribs, yearning to set on those who dared attack our home, of all places. Our dad, of all people.
I let the hate and heat fill me.
Flame chases down my forearm, over my knuckles. The white hot of anger. My fist is a coal and my flesh is carved from the mountain, and I will destroy anything that threatens the ones I love.
“Elektra,” my brother says, oddly calm, "why is your hand glowing?"
I look at my palm and grin. The fire finds my belly now. The chaos delights some new-awoken part of me that I had never known I possessed. It is like catching my reflection in an angle I have never seen before. I am myself, but different.
“I think...” I laugh, despite the clouds of smoke rising from town. It rises out of me like a bird. I have never felt smaller or stronger. “I think I did it on purpose.”
~~Doing part 2 right now~~
update: I accidentally deleted what I was working on. I'm going to go angrily eat cupcakes and try again.
ETA: I fell asleep :( I will post part two in a couple of hours when I'm on my break. You can check here or my sub. Thank you so much for reading.
I awoke in the night, the distant sounds of screams altogether too familiar. It didn't sound isolated - they must have found a safe-haven. Hundreds would be massacred. It was just like I said; don't bunch together. Don't rely on each other for support. Survival is all about laying low, keeping quiet and hoping that luck was on your side.
I'd been having a strange dream. It wasn't a nightmare, which was rare already; it was more of a premonition. I'd felt a burning sensation in my hand, as if there were energy coursing through it. The feeling still stuck with me, and I focused on it to try drown out the screams.
There were more of them now; towering beasts, eldritch monstrosities. We'd imagined aliens as these advanced beings, visiting us with technology that we could not even comprehend, bestowing knowledge and gifts. But no.
They were unimaginable nightmares, drifting in through space, landing on our forsaken planet and hunting us mercilessly. Our combined efforts only took down a few, and the ensuing nuclear winter only made things worse. And now they hunt us down without rest. It doesn't seem to be for sustenance - they ignore other animals, though they will harm them if it is in their way. No; it feels like eradication. And more come every day.
But the the dreams won't go away. What little sleep I have is filled with feelings of flame and fury; of ominous premonition, of terrifying power. I feel that energy more and more. I suspect that I am going mad, but I'd rather be mad than dead. And judging by my travels, it seems that I am one of the few left with the privilege of choice.
Sleep comes to me eventually, the incessant chittering of the aliens filtering through my dreams of intrigue, of primal power.
I awoke to a sound of crashing, of beastly lumbering.
*I've been found.*
I sprinted from my lair, a crumbling ruin, just as a jagged tentacle pierced through the foundations. Rubble collapsed around me as I leapt through a window, landing on the floor below in a clumsy roll. There was no time to think about the pain - only escape.
I ran as fast as I could, praying that it was only one, praying that it could not keep up. There were many different forms of alien, and most of the massive ones were slow in the city. They could run at least as fast as a man, but the buildings and ruins proved ample obstacles. With a bit of luck, I could survive this. I had done so before.
A sudden crash to my right sent glass flying just ahead of me. An arthropod the size of a large dog landed in front of me, its razor-sharp legs digging into the floor. There was no chance of running from it. But if I climbed the building to avoid it, my pursuer would destroy it as if it was a cardboard box. I had two choices, but either led to death.
My right hand burned, a sharp red glow emitting from my palm. It felt like trapped electricity. Like every bit of primal power focused into a single thought.
Shall I **fight**, or **flee**?
) | [Part III](https://www.reddit.com/r/CroatianSpy/comments/7i4p1p/wp_resurgence_iii/
) | [Part IV (new)](https://www.reddit.com/r/CroatianSpy/comments/7i65tc/wp_resurgence_iv/
It's a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' story! Vote on whichever choice you like best, and I hope I won't disappoint :)
First contact was made almost ten years ago. They seemed well versed in warfare, in less than a day there wasn't a satellite left in the sky or a cable under the sea. Communication between nations fell to old ground bounce long range radios pulled out of mothballs. Conventional weapons proved to be ineffective and the nuclear option didn't fare much better. Eventually even the old analog radios where jammed. Steadily they started to wipe us out. Great mechanized beasts roamed the land, directed energy weapons reduced any caught in there sight to ash.
Slowly word began to spread of old legends come to light. Wizards, witches even warlocks making pacts with demons to gain power. Men and women alike where seen calling fourth searing bolts of lighting from the sky. Ripping the ground open to devour and crush any of the aliens creations that wandered to close to the last bastions of humanity. Liquefying the great metal monsters with conjured fire. Even death was no relief to our fallen comrades as the necromancers raised forth gargantuan armies of the dead. Crushing the invaders with the sheer mass of rotting meat and gleaming bone. As our species continued to fight for our existence more of the things that go bump in the night started coming to light.
At first they appeared to be fellow humans but it soon became clear that was not the case. The first were the Werewolves, nigh unkillable but by blessed silver. Transforming into great beasts they used claws and teeth to rend through armor only magic could penetrate. These furry juggernauts relied on humans not for food as in the old tales but as breeding stock. As we continued to dwindle in number they could no longer stalk the shadows. Though small in numbers they made up for it in shear brutality. Soon all of the others concealed in the shadows made themselves known. The vampires where less well received than the wolves but in the end they needed us. Becoming a donor for one elevated ones physically abilities for a time. Though to somes disappointment, crosses, sunlight and garlic did not faze them.
The Fae became another ally though much less trustful, one had to be cautious when speaking with them. Never make an open ended bargain with one, it never ends in your favor. Whatever the invaders mechanized army consisted of it was not iron and they seemed to take much glee in the wanton destruction they could wield. Many hopped the elves and dwarves of some fairy tales would come to be but to this day none have materialized. Though the dragons made there presence known they more are focused on what little territory they still held and if you happen to occupy it you have one hell of a home security system. Rumblings of the old gods walking among man once more have been heard but not verified.
As of now hope has yet to completely die for humanity and its newly rediscovered allies. While the dragons and invaders still rule the skies we have done much to retake the land. The current status of humanity as a whole is still not truly known, while magic is useful as a weapons it does not give it self over willingly to be used to pass missives. Communication over the oceans and across continents is still a slow process and we are just starting to retake the seas.
-Field Commander, 3rd Magus Division, Capt Jasper D. Wulf
Turns out the universe isn't cold and uncaring. Turns out the universe actually wants to give us what we want. Turns out 8 billion people all projecting their wishes out into the fuzzy warm-hearted void of existence confuses the heck out of the old machinery. What I mean to say is of the bunch of us humans shouting at mama universe, those who got what they were wishing for were few and far between; the odd miracle here and there, a “lucky toss” once in awhile. You get it.
It's different now. When the culling began, I...no, let me skip this part. Slowly, during the months after the event, people thought they were going crazy. Some of the surviving doctors called it PTSD or something. The more susceptible started hearing this background chatter emerge from the white noise narrated stream of consciousness. Took us another 4 billion lost for the first to get it. They were hearing the fearful calls of their brethrens’ minds. Some of the resistance’ stands got 'lucky’. Nothing sustainable, remotely helpful in the big picture; not that any even put it even together until way later anyways.
On the way down to the last wretched few all of this got stronger, more noticeable until even most doubting could no longer deny having joined their fellow men (as few of us as remained) in a shared mind. Some called it God, some Gaia, some just called it magic. It really don’t matter. Once you figure out that you dreamed up this world together, it's not a huge stretch of imagination to imagine the intruders gone. Wasn't even a fight anymore.
Billions lost, just a few ragged men and women with the power to raise cities from the oceans. We prospered fast, as they say we did before. But we also grew fast. Now, only very few can still hear the voices of mind and even fewer can get their small wishes heard by the void.
The old man harrumphed, happy with his audience's captivated gazes. He sharpened his mind’s words into a needle tip of will and let it fly, making the fire in the cave in their midst flare, just for a second. His tribe exclaimed with exaltation at the power their shaman wielded.
There is a crucial aspect to conflict one must remember above all else; when victory is the desired outcome, all costs must be put on the line. If you truly seek your goal, you must be willing to sacrifice everything. Because if it comes down to it, that moment when you must choose between victory and survival… the choice must be obvious.
I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. Not that the task was impossible with only one person, but the sheer magnitude of the decision, the guilt of suffering the consequences – it was too much for my morality to endure. I still harbor some resentment, and I wish there was another way. But I have no regrets. If it was necessary, I’d do it all again. The gnawing at the back of my head, telling me I was selfish and incompetent, never stopped. I accept it as punishment for my sin. No amount of atonement could justify the deaths of so many.
I find it hard to believe, myself. The display had counted 7.9 billion – the outcome was so harsh that it was easier to count the survivors than try to comprehend the casualties.
I suppose I must start at the beginning.
My name is Daijiro Kojima. I grew up in Moni, a country town at the foot of a mountain. Our people disliked the modern world, and chose to abstain from the technologies of the so-called Western Man. My brother Kentaro disproved of this very much. He scolded our chief often for being “ancient” and “dictatorial.” I couldn’t disagree with his accusations, as they were, to an extent, true. We held to old customs, and we clung to the advice and teachings of our chief. It was unsafe to wander outside the fence, thanks to the wolves roaming the forest, so we were largely restricted to wandering the farms and the streets. It was a peaceful life, though, and we ate well in the company of our families.
Every week we gathered to pay tribute to the Effigy of the Mount, feeding it the fruits of our farms and cattle so it could sustain us with bountiful harvests. I didn’t know how, but the soil here was… different. To this day I was unsure of it, perhaps being a trick of the light or just my imagination, but the ground seemed to give off an ever so faint glow under the moon, just barely noticeable. I attributed the glow to be the spirit of the mount moving in the ground. Every year we reaped rewards that far exceeded the effort we put in.
We thanked the chief for his leadership, and we thanked the mount for its generosity. We were merry and happy.
Kentaro and I always trained with the village guardsmen, learning how to use the sword and be fleet of foot. The latter skills were always emphasized, as the chief said that our swordsmanship would be no match for the weapons of the outside world. The elders, those who travelled across the land and meditated in the fields, told us stories of the Western Man – I always wondered about the term, as they were apparently to the East and North too, even the South where the ocean is. Why call them Western if they are everywhere? But, I digress. The elders told us of the extensive range of their armaments, and the frightening speed of their attacks. It was something out of a magic story, I was sure. Kentaro told me he would protect me if the Western Man came to our village, but I always shrugged him off. We were both past childhood anyway. I was more than capable of protecting myself.
But I never expected us to be the ones killing them.
It happened while I was picking a primrose for mother. I’d been growing one behind one of the storehouses, so it would be kept a surprise. She loved flowers, especially pink ones. It would make the perfect birthday present. It became dark so suddenly that I thought a vine had torn off the storehouse and fallen over me, but I looked up to see the clouds break apart and disappear, absorbed into a blackened sky. It was dark as night, and I stumbled through the leaves towards light. After feeling along the sides of building walls along the street for a while, amidst panicking women and screaming children, I found myself in the village square. Guards ran to and for with torches, yelling to each other and ushering civilians to safety. I saw my father carrying boxes with some other men. I was confused – why was the sky black? Had the sun run away before the moon was ready to wake? Was the Mount angry at us?
And then Kentaro was by my side.
“Hey, Dai… everything’s going to be okay, hear me? We’ll figure this out.”
I nodded. The chief stumbled past with a heavy box, but my brother caught him by the shoulder.
“Hey, old man, what’s going on? Where’s the light gone?”
Eyes wide, the chief turned to us. “Get everyone you can find and gather them at the effigy. I had no idea they would return, not at a time like this.”
“What are you talking about? Are we under attack?”
“I’ll explain everything later. The most important thing now is to get everyone to safety. Here,” he fumbled in his pocked for a second and retrieved a small object, shoving it into Kentaro’s hand. “Take this. Offer it to the effigy as you would a tribute. We need to protect everyone we can.”
“You got it, old man. Come on, Dai.”
So we took a torch and scampered about, sending everyone we could at the effigy. Mother showed up too, and I suddenly remembered the primrose I’d left behind the storehouse. She asked about our father, and we didn’t see him there. More of the guardsmen were arriving, and he wasn’t among them. Kentaro and I left to look for him, starting first at the barracks then progressing through the streets. We figured he’d gone to the effigy while we were searching, so we started heading back. However, as we passed a farm we saw a dozen or so men staring at the sky. We followed their gaze and there, in the air above us, we saw the blackness move. It seemed to bend and shift, as if it was a giant piece of cartilage. Parts of it seemed to brighten slightly, and I saw a multitude of small specks appearing from the lighter parts. I watched as the specks grew larger, then realized they were distant objects heading towards us. Kentaro put his hand on my shoulder.
“Dai… we should go.”
“But… what are those? Birds?”
“Whatever they are, it can’t be good.”
For a second there was a bright flash amidst the objects, and a split second later the farmers screamed. The dirt around them erupted, spewing mounds of soil into the air. They scrambled back, running for the effigy. Kentaro and I didn’t hesitate any longer. When we returned, the chief was waiting for us, more stressed than I’d ever seen him.
“You left and took the key with you?! Do you have any idea of the risk you just put us in?!” His loud voice drew several eyes from those around us.
“Oh, sorry… this thing, right?” Kentaro drew out the object he’d been given before. It was about half the size of his palm, colored black and shaped like a disc, engraved with the face of a cat, just like the one on the effigy. They say that black cats are a sign of good fortune. And by the looks of things, we’re going to need all the fortune we can get.
“Yes yes yes – give it here!” The chief snatched the disc from Kentaro’s hand and hurried over to the effigy, dropping it in the tribute slot. The disc would travel down a pipe and end up… somewhere. I was unsure of where the tributes ended up but I was certain it wasn’t underneath the chief’s house like some kids had joked.
“What now, old man?” Kentaro asked, arms on his hips.
“Ken, show some respect.” Father said, appearing from the group to slap Kentaro across the back.
The chief was silent, instead speaking with a sly grin. The earth shook, forcing me to steady myself on Kentaro’s arm. The effigy broke open, splitting the cat’s face in two. There were several loud gasps and outcries from those gathered, but the chief urged them to calm down. The cracked effigy left a big hole in the ground, laden with steps that seemed to descend to the center of the earth.
“Everyone, follow me! Carry everything you can!” The chief yelled, rushing down the hole and disappearing into the darkness, followed by the residents from the village. I looked back to the objects in the sky, which were approaching all the while. They must’ve been a hundred miles when we first saw them, but I was sure they were a mere couple miles away now.
I felt a pair of hands gripping my shoulders, moving me forward. “Come on, Dai, let’s go!” Kentaro had a huge smile on his face, eyes wide.
“This is exciting, right? Something different is happening!” Did he fail to notice the power of those things? Exploding the ground from so far away in an instant? He always was a strange one, I suppose.
So we descended the steps, each of us carrying a box of supplies. Food, I think. We travelled for maybe 10 minutes, and I felt the temperature slowly dropping. I looked up and could no longer see the entrance nor feel the rumbling from the explosions. Eventually we reached a flat area of dirt, about the size of a house interior. The whole village crowded there, staring at the large wall opposite the end of the steps. It was made of metal, and shined so clearly that in the light of the torches, we could see our reflections. The wall was adorned with strange markings and indentations. The chief walked up to it, putting a hand against it. He sighed, as if in disappointment. I saw his lips move, but he made no sound.
**PART TWO IN CHILD COMMENT**