STORMGRINDER
by John Carswell
17 November 1999



The once thunderous crowd now silent as they looked down upon her. Llyra Stormgrinder loved moments like these. She could feel every set of eyes in the Colosseum burn into her soul; anxiously awaiting what was next. The anticipation was nigh uncontrollable it flooded out of every pore on her body in an electric vibrato. It was all she could do to hold back the flood of her own climax. The sensual massage of the emotion impulse nodes in her sparse armour's interior soothed her taught muscles with a whisper not drowned by the rush of the moment at hand.

The Wych Succubus looked down, her eyes trailing down her blood-splattered arms toward her hands. Her enemy's blood sank into her skin, leaving only a trace stain. Blood and sweat beaded upon her gauntlets and armour. Llyra's hands closed tighter around the Eldar's throat her knees upon the beaten Exarch's shoulders and arms formed the legs of her killing tripod. The Exarch struggled underneath her. His heavy Fire Dragon armour gone, he looked small and weak - a rodent to be toyed with under the Catamount's claws.

His Waystone rested upon his chest on small twine made of coarse hair. Despite the grime, sweat, and the blood of combat, it had not lost its polished lustre as it lay between her knees. The drops of sweat that fell from Llyra's muscled stomach boiled upon contact with the gem.

Their Eldar eyes locked - Succubus to Exarch in a riot of anger, fear, desperation and excitement. The potent hallucinogenic amphetamines that ran rampant through Llyra's bloodstream absorbed every emotion of the two combatants and the clamouring audience seated above them. The combat drugs blocked her brain's attempt at sorting each emotion They stormed through her mind, and her heart boiled at the mercy of the drugs' onslaught. Llyra's teeth clinched so tight they almost felt as if they would crack. Her nosed flared as she exhaled in short breaths. The Exarch's gasps and gurgled choking were the sweetest sound! His face had gone from red rage and white desperation, to the sickly blue of asphyxiation. His bulging eyes darted in all directions in vain, searching for an escape. No matter how far his gaze wandered, it always snapped back to meet Llyra's.

Blood, sweat, and war paint ran from her cheek, down to her mouth, mixing with lipstick and saliva. The liquid fell lazily in a long strand from her gnashing teeth and mouth. The gore and drool splashed upon the Exarch's face, washing away some of his own war paint, pooling in his eye socket and draining down his cheek or into his gasping mouth.

Llyra could hold back no longer. Her thumbs clamped about the doomed Exarch's neck began to shift. They slid down his neck and found his larynx. Forcing all of her body weight and with every fibre of her soul she pushed down. Her prey's struggles became more and more furious he was in a state of full panic as she knew his time had come down to this. She knew that he was going to die on this blood stained floor. To die on the battlefield in noble combat was a fitting death for an Eldar Warrior, a Fire Dragon not to be snuffed out, half-naked, and unarmed like an animal under a trapper's snare. Then the thoughts that she had so deftly hidden in the back of her mind resurfaced. Even though his soul would not be sucked into the Warp and into Slaanesh's waiting craw, it would be housed in the Waystone around his neck. What would happen to the Waystone once his body was unable to defend it? On some distant battlefield, his brothers would find it and lodge it in its rightful place onboard the Infinity Circuit. Here, in the Dark Kin's playground, the fate of his soul was unimaginable. The rodent renewed its panicked struggle to escape the Catamount's claws.

His gasping and choking shrunk in direct proportion to Llyra's grunting and snarling. Despite the crowd's howls and cheers, Llyra could just make out the sound of the Fire Dragon's larynx caving under her thumbs. The Exarch's struggling ceased as his body wilted under the strangulation. As the light flickered and then died within his bulging eyes, his Waystone began to pulse and glow. The transference was complete. The Exarch's soul was immediately transferred into the gem. It felt warm and vibrant against his earthly body's cooling. It hummed softly.

Llyra reared up and rose to her feet. Her chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath and regain what was left of her sanity. The crowd roared and cheered a deafening hurricane called her name over and over. Money, weapons, jewels, and slaves exchanged hands as wagers were won or lost. Holomirrors positioned around the Colosseum provided Llyra with her first glimpse of victory. Reflected in their surface, she was a 30-foot giantess - bloody, wild-eyed and panting. The effects of the hallu-phets were wearing off as she looked up at the crowd. A second serum crept into her bloodstream; to take the edge off of the massive hangover the combat drugs would leave in their wake.

She looked down at the deflated, crumpled corpse at her feet. A month ago he was a proud, noble Aspect Warrior, steeped in the tradition, regalia and awe of a shattered Eldar God. Twenty minutes ago he was a shadow of his former greatness reduced by torture, starvation, violence, and desperation to a clawing, base savage. Now, he is a corpse and a polished bauble. She wept with elation and blackened joy as she was the cause of such de-evolution of her Craftworld Cousin. Llyra bent down and pulled the Waystone from the dead Exarch's neck.

She stood and turned to an ornate spectator's box. She casually swung the pendant around her trigger finger as she sauntered toward the box. She stopped in front of it, and looking up at the guarded, armoured woman seated inside, she put the Waystone into her mouth, gripping it with her teeth and caressing it with her tongue. She waited for the signal from her Patron.

At her command, Llyra began to bite down on the gem. Her eyes never left her Patron, but she could see the Incubi bodyguards lean closer to their mistress. The gem was hot in her mouth, but she didn't drop it. Her jaws would not give, and the gem soon cracked, then shattering under the strain.

Instead of crumbling into shards or pulverising to dust, the Waystone cracked like an egg, it gushed warm, thick syrup that threatened to spill out of her mouth or roll down her throat. She did swallow some of it, and was caught unaware by the taste. The Waystone was the finest thing she had ever tasted. How sweet the Eldar's soul tasted! For a moment, Llyra was lost in a whirlwind of images, thoughts, smells, and sounds that moved in rapid succession through her exhausted body. All of the heady stimulus replayed the life of the Exarch: from birth, childhood, a mother's love, camaraderie, schooling, training, his marriage and abandonment as the Warrior Path became too difficult for him to leave, countless wars, and now his death. It was just a taste, but the Waystone yielded such a bounty! Llyra's own soul cried for more! She must have all of his soul, and part of her silently debated on what she should do next. Should she do what was right what was expected of her? Should she do what she wanted? She opened her eyes and blinked a few times in an attempt to focus upon her waiting Mistress.

She knew what she must do. She leaned over the railing and into the box, toward her waiting Patron. The Dracon Sif Razorshard brushed her Incubi bodyguards aside and leaned toward her Wych Succubus, pulling her close. They locked in a lover's embrace as Llyra's open mouth sought the Dracon's. Llyra climbed into the box as their mouths met in a kiss. The Dracon's tongue parted Llyra's lips and dove into her waiting mouth. Their tongues danced and played, but the precious contents held in Llyra's were hungrily sucked into the Dracon's mouth. The Dracon stiffened in Llyra's embrace followed by violent seizures as the swallowed the Exarch's soul. Llyra tried to hold on to a little of the liquefied Waystone, but her Dracon's tongue fended off any attempts to siphon another taste.

At last the kiss ended. The Dracon pulled away from Llyra, but held her embrace. "Th-that was... Exquisite," the Dracon whispered into Llyra's ear. The Dracon had the look of an addict that has just satisfied her craving hunger, or a lover who has just recovered from orgasm.

"I'm glad you so approved. I live to entertain and kill for you and your soul." Llyra tried in vain to hide the disappointment in not keeping the Exarch's soul for herself.

"Child, there will always be more. Do not feel so sad. Your loyalty is proven. Are your own Wyches just as loyal? Can you say the same for your swift Reavers and agile Hellions? Will they too answer our beacon?" The Dracon smiled tenderly as she brought her gloved hand to Llyra's face, wiping off some smeared war paint and sweat.

"As I am to you, my Mistress, they are to us. Do you have another atrocity for us to perform for your pleasure and your soul? Please say you do!" Llyra was oblivious to the departing crowds. All of her attention was focused on what the Dracon hinted.

The Dracon looked about, meeting the insectoid gaze of each Incubus, "In ten nights, we move against our prey. The risk is considerable, but the spoils far outweigh the risk," the Dracon looked into her gladiator's eyes, "With your teams with me, we will bring my brother great wealth and standing. In turn, he will lavish gifts upon all of us that will keep us fat, drunk, and spoiled for nights upon nights. Beware, lover, this is no mere day of sport." Her words were encrypted in delicate hand signals, coded phrases, analogies, and facial expression to foil eavesdropping. The surrounding Incubi kept careful watch over their mistress.

The mention of the Dracon's brother, the Archon Aesiris Razorshard, made this possible foray important indeed, and Llyra jumped at the opportunity, "Yes, my Mistress! We will be waiting for your call!"

"Good. I knew you would. You make me proud, Llyra Stormgrinder." The Dracon leaned forward and kissed Llyra gently on her waiting mouth. Llyra got a fleeting taste of the Exarch, but it paled in view of the slaughter less than a fortnight away.



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