The giant metal maw gaped wide as it dropped from the dark sky.
The concussion of the Leviathan’s proboscis made when it hit the ground rang through Victor’s suit. The harvester jerked under him. Slewed sideways as it was lifted from the mud.
The vehicle that Victor piloted was 16 meters long and 5 tall – 20 tonnes of caterpillar treads, loaders, delimbers, grapplers, and a train of cradles to hold the denuded trunks of the Tanker trees. It should have been too damn big to move anywhere that Victor didn’t want it to go.
The Leviathan was bigger.
The belly of the beast broke the clouds overhead, a whale breaching in reverse. A butterfly that dreamed it was an aircraft carrier. Clouds streaming from articulated air-paddles, the Leviathan plummeted towards them. The jaws on the end of his hose-like trunk clenched tighter around the harvester.
Victor’s visor flashed with warning colors. Temperature readouts spiked. Radiation fluxed. The reactive glass dimmed against the light of the monster’s smelter throat.
Something swooped through the air toward him. Another predator, or maybe some symbiont of the Leviathan homing in on Victor’s radio signals, ready to peel and devour his suit or just swallow him whole and shit out the indigestible water and bone meal…
Talons cinched around his torso, tugged him up and away. Victor stared between his swinging legs at the Leviathan’s maw clamped down on the multi-million-dollar vehicle he had been given to drive.
The braided metal skin of the proboscis flexed, the teeth at its mouth glowed cherry-red as the furnace inside softening metal for the claws and saws of disassembler mechanoids. Other, larger symbionts scurried down the proboscis. Things like man-sized metal mantis-shrimp unfolded Swiss-army-knife limbs to snatch whatever their brethren left behind.
Victor was swung in a circle and dropped to the ground. The creature that had saved him released its grip and Victor almost fell at the feet of the woman who was its mistress.