The crescent moon shone meekly as it waned, casting its diminishing beams, themselves gifts and remnants from the reign of the Sun, across its fastly fleeting dominion of shadow and frost.
Cast across the frozen fields, the grass rigid and greying from the cold.
Cast through the trees, leafless for now, sleeping for the warm, silently grasping at the sky with bony fingers.
Cast along the rooftops, the slowly-setting ice creating outlines of light set across the pitch of dark eternity above.
Cast amongst the sliding and fibrous materials of the beast below, tubes and plates alike, woven from steel and silver, taking place of sinew and muscle, flexing, tensing, waiting for the release, the culmination of their pense. The prey will appear soon and all will be for naught if the beast finds itself wanting.
The environs, that which has become its hunting ground, are truly the remnants of desolate times, an age of despair, pitted with the acts of the damned and the desperate. The beast knows nothing of those that came before, or those who may come after, these things better left to those who cared to dream. To this one, all that matters was the hunt, the kill, the consuming.
And the wait was part of the hunt. It could afford no mistakes; its last was almost its final. The beast had no measure of time but it had been a very long time since that mistake, and in its resting moments the beast has began to idly scratch the scars that adorned its face, and to which it nearly lost an eye. Potent and constant reminders, if it should ever have needed any.
Time grew shorter, prey grew closer, but the beast, atop its vantage point, cocked its head to the sky. Rarely did sound play out across this ruined landscape, life and the elements long since departed. It lent an eerie solitude to the vista, certainly it permitted one to hear their innermost thoughts, although such things were wasted on the beast. Instead it was with something akin to surprise that it heard its prey. By no means an unusual turn of events, it was definitely unexpected and would give the beast cause to stop and rethink its plan. But thinking was beyond it now, instinct being its sole driving force, and besides, it had already committed fully to its course of action regardless.
Presently, its prey came into focus, bringing with it, to the beast, the light of salvation and sustenance. Illuminating its past course as a tail of electrified air, and leading the way into the everstretching future, the light cast from the prey would direct it straight into the ambush of the beast. The beast that now, upon seeing its prey, made to ignore the fresh sense of wariness that its senses fed upon.
This prey was not usual fare. This had gorged itself, grown large and powerful. Its movements along the landscape crushing the debris with the sheer magnitude of force it exuded. A loner, distanced from its kind, becoming tough and unyielding. In times gone by the beast would have returned with more of its kin to take down such prey, but not this time. There were no kin, there was no time, it would have to perform this monumental feat itself. Failure meant death. Sloth meant destruction.
The prey arrived beneath the outcrop of ruin, from which the beast would pounce. Its prey had weak eyesight but the beast had covered itself nonetheless. This cover of rubble, rags and dust, a coating of filth, discarded to the wind as the beast pounced. Contact was made, the beast puncturing the flank of its prey with talons sharpened and practiced through usage of the ages. Immediately its prey rasped in pain, its cry edged with lightning as it sent terrible shockwaves pulsing through itself. The beast knew what to expect from a normal specimen, but the pain this time was immense. Barely holding onto consciousness from the bolts still arcing across its own body, it snapped forwards, tearing a large chunk from its prey with its powerful jaws, its extended underbite helping to gouge deeply, and paying dividends. With that lunge it had succeeded in rending the prey's defence mechanism fron its body, and as the energy surges faded and the beast's power returned, an emotion thought long lost had resurfaced; satisfaction.
It was to be short-lived. Its prey had not lived so long and grown so copiously that it had not learnt how to defend itself - its serpentine body, a mass of scars, proof of this. The beast had weakened it, but the fight was far from over. As the beast took a moment to revel, the illumination of its prey dimmed, usually a portent of its death.
Not this time. This time, a sign of a most powerful counter.
Craning its head, forking its tongue in the direction of its assailant, it lunged, grasping the beast in its own jaws, and released.
Immense pain slammed into the beast with a force it had never known possible, as it was violently repelled away, crushing limbs and demolishing ambience alike as it tumbled across the dead earth. A rear limb bursts open as it lands, and precious blue fluid leaks from the gaping wound. Its task was hard before, and now? Perhaps death would be the better option. It would mean peace, and the hunt had for a long time grown more difficult, its prey more sparse…
The large serpent creature, no longer merely prey, coursed through the air following the blue spatters to its assailant. It had become badly damaged in the attack, but consuming this sharp-claw would give it what it needed to heal, and make itself stronger still. It glided ever closer to its fallen foe, wrapping its tail section around the beast's crippled legs, even daring as to move so close its weak eyes could see the face of its enemy.
A bad decision.
As the serpent reared for the killing strike, the beast, in a last-ditch attack, contorted its metalling musculature, sending all its power into one forelimb, bolstering its mass to an obscene limit, its claws hastily recoating themselves, enlarging, the blades turning from dull grey to vibrant silver, and with all mustered might, the beast thrust its warped weapon, its twisting shredding claws, and its very will to survive, into its prey, all thought of submission quelled beneath the risen tide of hunger.
Death came quickly to the serpent creature, several weak bursts of lightning escaping and charring the earth, and as it fell, the beast shifted its anatomy once again. As the light left the prey and darkness returned, so too did consciousness depart from the beast. its reshaping would continue as it slept and it would be mercifully unaware of the pain of recreation. Its leg would be healed, but weak, and when it awoke it would feast upon its well-earned meal.
And as it lay inactive, the beast dreamt of another life where its kin, long since extinct, would lavish praise for its kill and sate its emotion, and its mate would reward it and sate its body.