As he watched the neon exhaust of the ruined jetbike recede into the darkness, dragging its mutilated, half-deceased occupant, Grendel knew the halcyon days were over. He turned and walked into his cave. He entered the river that burbled near its mouth, evaded the defense system of electronic moray eels and fire barracudas—he was never sure if it was to defend against intruders or to keep him contained—before emerging onto the pebbled shore of a looming cavern kilometres away. Dripping, he approached Mother’s monstrous bulk. Her resinous hide crawled with cables and boulder sized transistors. She was all he knew, her organic contours a constant in his half-remembered memories. The cooling system hummed in the chill darkness, efficiently venting the waste heat into the desert bordering the foothills. It wasn’t always desert there. He shivered, stroking her gently throbbing surface. He had suckled at her breast for so long, wires running from his mouth, his twitching eyes vacant with tears of luminous quantum foam. She was warm to the touch. Grendel took his hand away. It was time to go out into the world once more.
They came, a single police unit at first. He disposed of them easily, and enjoyed the sight of their burning cruiser trace the dawn before its miniature nuclear reactor disintegrated in a flash of white heat.
They sent more, this time a special weapons and tactics unit. Nobody survived and their armored hovercraft, being more resilient than the average vehicle, simply smoldered at the end of long furrows of raped earth.
The military deployed next, in tanks and Human Enhancement suits. The tanks lumbered up to the mouth of Grendel’s cave and sent salvo after salvo of armor piercing rounds. The HE-men leaped ahead and tunneled into the rock with their magnificent transmorgifying suits. Some affected drills, others made great spades of their hands and dug through the granite. Grendel grinned at the challenge, but was sorely disappointed. He appreciated the exercise, anyways; his long dormant muscles needed stretching, limbering. He danced amid the bullets, an acrobat, ballerina, and contortist. Saliva ran in gobs from his adrenaline laced laugh. A tank erupted, punctured by one of the suits. He crashed two HE-men together and watched their ruptured nanotechnology consume each other. He tossed a suit easily into a neighboring mountain, watching in pleasure the ensuing landslide. Grendel surveyed the ruins and wondered how far it would go.
Jets. Scores of them erupting from the sky like a mad horde of hornets. The space around them crackled with pinpricks of light that elongated into long trailers of blistered atmosphere. Slipstream missiles. Grendel felt wounded. They were using outdated technology on him. He shrugged, waiting for imminent impact before launching into the air. He skipped and hopped on the slender bodies of the missiles, flinging himself to the next just before they burst into scorched sky. He zig-zagged his way onto the jet of the nearest convenience, hurtling for hundreds of meters in freefall before sinking his hands into its titanium armor. The canopy, torn from its place, shot past, the pilot’s insect-like helmet reflecting his outstretched hands and Grendel’s laughing visage.
As the skies rained with ruin, Grendel’s jet hit mach 5 and entered the European Commonwealth. The jet was outfitted with the latest nuclear fuel cell and ammo teleportation technology, giving him virtually unlimited mobility and firepower. He was still laughing when he left Europe burning and set his sights on China. He was having too much fun. Grendel’s self-imposed exile was over and the world would weep for it.