Warning in advance; this contains dragon vore, and lots of it.
A chill like the kind that came with the slow transition from life to death seemed omnipresent here; a cold, dark world known as Bavanoth.
However, actually experiencing the slow transition from life to death proved that the real thing was much, much colder than Bavanoth could ever be.
A humanoid wolf in a beige uniform lay motionless on the hard, slick, black ground, staring up at the pale, luminescent clouds that provided a blanket to the world.
He had been told that sometimes, the sun could be seen on this world, when the clouds would sometimes part and let their dim, ambient light be replaced by something overwhelming and beautiful.
But he would never see it, now. All he could do now was remain here, broken, internally bleeding, and waiting for the caress of death to finally reach out and touch him.
Hundreds of others met the same fate as well, but everyone around him was already dead and covered in beads of water.
The massive hive of subterranean horrors that sat in the middle of the field was a threat to all nearby settlements; the wolf and others all fell in a counterattack to force back the enemy.
Occasionally, they would emerge and race towards the extraction facilities and when they did, the death toll was high; but it would be even higher if they were the reach the facilities.
Defenses were being prepared that could forever seal out the threat, but until then, payment in blood was necessary.
The wolf let his head turn to the side, staring at the mounds of fresh corpses that surrounded him. After being drafted for extraction protection, he had always tried to avoid getting to know anyone, so that if they died, it would not affect him emotionally.
But he was dying too, so it didn't matter anymore. It was happening all so slowly, though; subjecting him to throbbing pain as his body powered down forever.
He just wished something would come along and end it already. That was really all his mind had been focused on for nearly the past hour.
Even being ripped apart by scavengers from the hive sounded better to him than bleeding out into the hollow spaces of his own body and expiring so slowly.
He had already said farewell to everyone and everything he loved in his head, and embraced his death. Now he waited for death to return the embrace.
And eventually, as if drawn to his pain, that embrace came, but not in a form he had expected.
A pair of hands lifted him gingerly, standing him on the palm of one, while the other provided support for him to lean against as he was too weak to stand as he looked upon the towering owner of the hands; a dragoness.
Tinted red goggles concealed her eyes as she examined the wolf. Her head was adorned with curving horns, like a ram's horns, and long pointed ears like on a dog. Each of her arms branched off at the forearms into two forearms instead, each one ending in a fairly-standard hand, for a dragon, anyway. It was with a single arm that she supplied both hands to support the wolf.
Like wings, two long appendages extended from her back, two extra sets of joints causing the arms to double back on themselves once before pointing the way normal arms would. The hands on these were equipped with only two fingers and a thumb, but they were dextrous to a point that they were all that was needed.
Her scales were shiny and black, but had a red sheen in the soft lighting. Most of her scales were not visible, however, covered by her clothing which consisted of olive drab pants that were almost too long for her, and a dark gray jacket which covered her chest adequately but left her stomach exposed, displaying her slender-but-strong physique, and soft light-gray scales.
She let out a sigh after they were both done inspecting one another, and lifted the wolf up, her jaws parting. The wolf couldn't move to resist, but he wasn't sure he even wanted to resist. This was what would end the pain.
The wolf found himself being slid into maw of the dragoness slowly and delicately, though even at her size she wasn't large enough to fit him in all at once. Her jugular muscles relaxed enough to let her prey slide deeper in, and she then closed her mouth over him, tilting far back and swallowing, a visible bulge traveling down her throat, and transferring itself to her stomach, stretching it slightly as the wolf was moved into a curled-up position by the movement of the walls around him.
The dragoness sat down, crosslegged, gently massaging her slightly-bulged belly, more with a feel of sympathy than with satisfaction. She said nothing for the duration of this, lulling her prey to sleep inside of her, and then letting her stomach gear up and digest the wolf; painlessly, now that he was unconscious. He would be nothing more than nutrition in only a few minutes; her acids were powerful and worked quickly.
The scaled giantess shut her eyes, listening to the sound of her stomach carrying on, as well as the sound of battle in the distance.
She had already euthanized three others. By the sounds of the fight on the other side of the mountainous hive, it seemed as though she was not quite done yet.
Alex's eyelids fluttered open gradually, letting in blurred images of his surroundings as he sat up slowly.
A hand landed on his shoulder firmly, and he turned his head, but his reflexes were slowed.
A humanoid vixen in a beige uniform and rusted shoulderpads shook Alex urgently; her lips were moving, but the sound seemed muffled as Alex's senses took their time catching up to him, but before long, words could be made out.
"--out of it; we don't have a lot of time. ...Can you understand me? Nod if you can."
Slowly, Alex nodded, piecing himself and his senses together. He probably would have shown more fascination with the creature if he had been all-there at the moment.
The vixen gave a nod in response. "Great. Take these; they're standard issue but they'll help you survive." She set down a belt with a strange-looking gun holstered in it, as well as a knife. "This isn't the place for you. Whoever brought you here is probably dead now, but you still have a chance. Fight your way out of this, run, and don't stop until you're far, far away."
With that, she stood up, brandishing a much-larger gun with a ring bearing several rods loaded into it paralell to the barrel; the equivalent of a clip for her weapon.
Alex buckled the belt around his waist, and crawled out from under the propped-up sheet of metal, looking out at the surrounding world.
This was most-definitely not Earth; just a cursory view of the place gave Alex enough of a shock to get him to a satisfactory state of all-thereness, and he could fully-register what all this meant.
He had been whisked off to another world somehow, there were anthropomorphic talking animals all around him, and the majority of them were in the process of being killed.
A deer in a uniform like the vixen's stood in front of Alex-- "stood", past-tense, being the operative word here, as a black, blurred shape tackled it at a high speed, taking it down and skidding for several feet, the ground sparking where its multiple, pointed legs touched.
Transparent wings like stained glass fluttered frantically as the deer kicked at it, trying to resist the metallic proboscis that repeatedly dove at his throat. A sufficient kick knocked the large, insect-like creature up enough that the deer could bring his weapon around, closing his eyes, clenching his teeth, and pulling the trigger.
An explosive rod shot out, striking the creature and turning its forequarters to fragments. The deer seemed relatively unharmed, thanks to his durable uniform, but he clutched at his face, getting up.
Without stopping to think, Alex ran to the deer's aid, but he was waved away.
"Don't bother," the deer said, stabilizing himself. "You just need to get out of here."
"What's happening, though?" Alex asked quickly, looking around to see if any of the other metallic things were coming for them.
"You've been taken. The idiot who decided to pull you from whatever world it is you're from didn't think the resonating energy would disturb the hive, but... well, you see."
"...You're saying I've been captured?"
"Pretty much. And I can't help you get your life sorted out or help you get back. But I can give you some firepower while we get you away from here though and you can figure this all out somewhere else, does that work?"
Alex nodded, making a brief noise of affirmation.
"Let's get moving, then." The deer waved his hand forward as he started to run.
Alex followed, focused on finding traction on the slick ground so as not to fall. Several people ran past him, humans among them aiming up at a buzzing black cascade coming down. Rods fired into the sky like gunpowder-propelled arrows, many striking head-on the abominations.
Shards rained down, along with several of the creatures that had not been hit, which immediately got to work in spreading carnage in their wake. The sight made Alex cringe; hardly any blood was drawn in the whole thing, but sickening cracking and agonized screaming rang in the air, accompanied by quick firing, including a few rods from the deer, terminating a few of the creatures and extending the lifespans of his comrades, however brief they may be.
He didn't stop though; he and Alex kept running, leaving the massive complex like a pile of webs further behind with each step.
"What are these things?" Alex asked, still doing his best to keep up.
"Sijioth. Sentient mineral creatures, and they're all out to get us."
"Who knows? Even before we started drilling for fuel, they went crazy on us. I guess that's just the way they wo--"
Without warning, part of the ground broke and one of the Sijioth shot out, tackling the deer and knocking his gun out of his hand.
"Shoot it!" he cried as he landed on his back, fighting the keep the pointed mouthparts away from him.
Alex reached for the gun in his holster; it was loaded with eight rods and ready to go. Hastily, he cocked the gun and held it out with both hands at arms length, taking a sharp breath in and firing.
Spiraling fletching extended from the rod as soon as it left the barrel, and it sped towards the Sijioth, striking it and blowing up the right side of its hindquarters. It staggered off of the deer, who stood, advancing on it as he drew a high-tech blunt weapon of some sort from a sheath on his belt.
Clicking a button, pinkish gel started to collect on the surface of the cylinder meant to make physical contact; there wasn't a lot of surface area, but the weapon wasn't made to bludgeon repeatedly.
The Sijioth made another leap, weaker this time due to missing two legs, and was met with a strike from the deer's weapon, leaving the pink gel splattered on its fractured head as the monstrosity was knocked off course.
The deer leaped back and clicked another button, causing the gel on the Sijioth's head to explode, taking out the head with it and letting the body fall lifeless to the ground.
No sooner than it hit the surface, however, did another break the ground, emerging from another concealed tunnel from behind Alex and leaping at him.
He turned, gripping his gun tightly and firing, but he narrowly missed in his haste.
A shot of gel struck the side of the Sijioth, and detonated on impact, taking out a chunk of it, but the Sijioth still carried enough momentum that even though it spun out of control, it hit Alex with enough force to knock him down and knock the gun from his hands.
It wasn't the initial impact that was detrimental to the situation; it was the impact of the back his head against the ground. His vision blurred, and his other senses went dull, but he could feel the ground vibrate as other Sijioth broke the surface as well.
Rods flew overhead, trying to keep them at bay, and Alex struggled to get up, but his strength had expired.
He collapsed, and darkness washed over him, dragging him down to some indeterminate level of unconsciousness.
Clawed feet stepped carefully through a field of death; silently and softly.
The dragoness picked her way along, crouching at certain points to examine the bodies around her. Dead, but she felt like she was getting close to someone a bit less-dead.
She turned, taking a few more crouched steps, parting a clutter of broken Sijioth. She sighed, finding that everyone here was dead and broken as well.
But she could still sense life somewhere around here. She leaned forward, stepping around dead bodies carefully, and moved a dead bipedal deer and several Sijioth fragments off of her target.
Her find surprised her, but she remained silent.
A human; a young man whose clothes did not match the others around him; he had nothing to do with the military forces here, but here he was. And his heart still kept on beating, despite what he must have been through. His breathing was quiet, but it could be confirmed that he was indeed breathing.
He looked to have avoided suffering any serious injuries. The dragoness smiled to herself; that was good. She could afford to indulge herself a little with this one.
She moved in to pick the human up, but he began to stir at her touch.
The dragoness remained calm; it really made no difference to her wether or not he was awake or out of it.
Alex's eyes opened slowly; his eyelids felt heavy and his head was sore.
The chill of mist settling on him was enough to wake him up quickly, however.
He looked up, and he gasped at what he saw.
A fascination with dragons had always been something that had been with him. And now, there was one crouched in front of him, looking him over silently.
She lifted him with her two left hands, taking him to eye-level and continuing to examine him through her red goggles.
Alex was at a loss for words here; the pain and terror from what he had witnessed only a short time ago was wiped away and replaced with total awe.
The absence of terror was short-lived, however. He had not noticed one of the strange longer arms reaching around to him; he had been so focused on the face of the dragoness.
Nimble fingers wrapped around his ankles, lifting him into the air upside-down overhead, and the dragoness opened her maw wide.
This, too, was something Alex had a fascination with; the idea of being swallowed alive. It was an inexplicable curiosity, but the notion was something that held quite a bit of intrigue and appeal to him.
But nothing about this moment made it seem that he would get to live his fantasy the way he wanted. This left him cold with his pulse racing; a feeling of suspended horror gripping him tight as the fingers holding him up by his legs.
"Don't do this," he begged, trying to talk quickly while he still had a chance. "Please, let m--"
He was cut short as the arm lowered him suddenly, letting him go as the dragoness began to take him in, wrapping her long, slick, supple tongue around him and pulling him down. She didn't seem half as excited to taste her prey as she was to just swallow him already.
A few swallows was all it took, and Alex found himself being taken down a tight, smooth passage headfirst. The walls of his predator's throat squeezed him gently, taking him deeper in. In just a few moments, he found himself coming to a stop, slipping out into a larger chamber, but there wasn't so much room to move here, either.
The walls expanded and contracted rythmically, forcing him to curl up and endure it all.
He felt a shift as the dragoness stood, and then started walking.
Alex placed a hand against the stomach wall, wondering if he could be felt. He tried to form words, but none came. There was nothing he could say to reason with a dragon; bigger, stronger, and satisfied with her shivering meal.
Alex lifted his hand, and beat against the stomach wall. The response was purring. The dragoness was purring; she liked how it felt, and he wasn't doing a thing to help himself get out.
In a moment of desperation, he fumbled for the knife on his belt, and jabbed the point into the wall. It didn't penetrate; it didn't even scratch.
He slipped the knife back into its sheath, and hugged his knees to his chest, bowing his head and accepting his fate, it was all he could do, now.
The humid air in the stomach acted like a tranquilizer, after time. It was almost as if there was something in it that was trying to get Alex to go to sleep. For a while, he resisted, but there really was no point. He didn't want to be awake for this next part; he rested against the stomach lining and let himself drift off to sleep once more.
Alex woke again sometime later; he had been doing a lot of that today.
He was in a bed in a nice, well-lit area, but it wasn't his own.
That meant this really wasn't all just some crazy dream; everything had actually happened. But the last thing he knew was that he had been swallowed alive, and yet here he was.
He sat up; his head wasn't hurting anymore, and he was totally dry, though he was still tired. He looked out of the sleeping compartment; a walkway was placed just outside, giving a view into a nice, cozy-looking home with stone walls, electric lighting, and fairly normal-looking furniture, but it was sized for someone much bigger than himself.
More specifically, sized for the dragoness, who walked into view from the left without her goggles, looking at Alex with a slight smile.
"Glad to see you're awake," she said simply. Her voice was soft, but there was an underlying presence of strength that accompanied it.
Alex said nothing, but blinked once, not sure what to make of the situation. So much had happened in such a short time.
"You can say something, if you like."
"How am I still alive?" Alex asked, at length. "You ate me, didn't you?"
"That I did," the dragoness affirmed.
"But I'm still alive. What happened after that?"
"My intentions were not to kill you. I wanted to save you, and so I did, though I will admit I gave myself room to enjoy the moment... It's a lot easier to switch the digestive process off than most people would think it is; for me, anyway. All it takes is a bit of focus from me, and you could take a nap in my belly for however long and still be fine, as your survival of the experience has proven. You are forgiven for your move with the knife, by the way."
Alex looked down, and went silent for a few moments. "...I'm sorry."
"It's fine; I said you are forgiven. I suppose I should apologize, as I probably made it seem like something far from an act of mercy."
"Well... thank you for saving me." Alex looked up into his savior's eyes again; his choice of words was simple and measured; he didn't want to risk saying the wrong thing here. "But... was I the only survivor?"
The dragoness nodded.
Alex looked down. "There was a deer, out there on the field."
"I know. He was lying over you when I found you, as if trying to shield you."
Alex didn't respond. The deer gave his life for him, and he'd never even know if Alex had survived or not.
"Don't grieve; he wouldn't want you to. He knew what he was doing."
"Even so, people die. And he probably knew that he would die in the end, going to battle against the Sijioth."
"Why stay here, then? Why not go somewhere far away from here if they're able to?"
"This world, Bavanoth, contains a powerful element that could be used as a permanent, clean fuel source. If we could extract what we need, we could provide clean energy to all worlds we came in contact with."
"But is the death rate worth it?"
"These people seem to think it is. I am in possession of a fragment of said element myself; it powers my home, the last occupied building in this ruined town. Having it built into a cave does provide some defense, too."
"They said the Sijioth came out because I was stolen from my world and the disruption provoked them," Alex said, changing the subject. "Is there a way to get back?"
"Probably. It will be difficult, but there is probably a way, if there was a way to bring you here."
Alex let out a sigh of mixed emotions; but primarily relief. He still had questions he wanted answered, so he continued asking. "Do you go onto the field often?"
The dragoness nodded. "I do, but never during battle. I'm ill-suited for fighting these things; it would be like trying to stomp on a swarm of rats that prioritize the largest target. I would be ripped apart in seconds."
"And you just find people like me out there?"
"Yes. To atone for my sins."
Alex cocked his head. "What do you mean?"
The dragoness sighed. "In the past, I've done horrible things to good people. I'm beyond that now, but I think this is a way to redeem myself. To save those who can be saved, and end the misery of those who cannot be saved."
"When you say end the misery..."
"I take their lives; that's what the term tends to mean. Painlessly, of course; I help them get to sleep, and I make them part of me."
"...You digest them?" Alex moved back towards the wall a little.
"I've had plenty of time to become addicted. I can feed this addiction even now, but I'm no longer doing evil. I regret the decisions I've made, but this is how I will redeem myself. I euthanize them. I put them to sleep inside me, and then it only takes a few minutes."
Alex remained silent, trying to let that idea sink in.
"I realize you may see me differently now. And I understand. When you're ready, you can leave me, forget about me, and I won't try to stop you. Everyone always leaves as soon as they can, and I never stop them."
"I wouldn't forget you," Alex said, relaxing a bit. He moved the covers off of himself, and walked to the edge of the walkway, gripping the rail. "You may have done wrong in the past, but like you said, you're beyond that now. And I trust you on that."
He extended his hand to her, and she returned the gesture by extending a fingertip to him.
"It's amazing to finally meet one of your kind," he said.
"It means a lot to me that you don't hate me for who I've been."
"I wouldn't hate you," Alex assured the dragoness, gripping her clawtip a little more tightly. "You're a good person now, and I'm grateful to you."
The dragoness looked down and off to the side a little; it seemd like she could be blushing right now, even if her scales didn't show it.
Eventually, she took her claw back, and eventually started to walk away.
"There's a ramp over to the right," she said. "Whenever you decide to leave, you may."
Alex was silent for a few moments, but he eventually did speak again. "Actually... I don't know where I would go after this, until I can actually find a way back home... If it's alright, could I stay with you a bit longer?"
The dragoness stopped. "...You want to stay?"
"If you would allow it."
She turned, and went back to Alex, picking him up gently and holding him close. He remained quiet as it happened, not quite sure what was going on.
"I would love it if you did..." she said, sounding a bit tearful.
"You mean it?" Alex asked.
"Do you mean it?" the dragoness asked in return.
The ebony giantess carried Alex over to another area in the room, and sat down on her own bed, moving into a lying-down position, and setting the human down on her belly; even with its scales, it was extremely soft.
"Thank you," she said. "So much."
"No," Alex returned, caressing the dragoness's belly. "Thank you."
Eventually, he moved so as to lie down as well, stroking her stomach. Even after the ordeal earlier in the day, he survived, and not only that, made a friend.
"By the way," Alex started after a while, sitting up a bit, "I don't think I've asked your name yet."
"Stygia," the dragoness replied. "And yours?"
"It's wonderful to meet you."
"Likewise, Stygia." He rested down on her again, and resumed rubbing her belly gently, coaxing more purring from her.
It was strange, hearing a dragon purr, but at the same time, that sound seemed more fitting than anything for her, somehow.
Eventually, she emitted another noise as her stomach growled audibly. The sound made Alex go tense, but Stygia calmed him with her gaze, which could have been accurately described as serene.
"It's fine," she said. "Most dragons only need to eat once a day, but we do get empty again quickly..."
"I see," Alex trailed, lying back down and listening to the sounds of the dragoness's stomach growl quietly. They both stayed there in relative silence for a short duration, but Alex did speak again. "But... you're not opposed to snacking then, right?"
"What do you mean?..."
"Well, this might sound a bit weird but..." Alex stopped briefly and inhaled deeply. "If you want to eat me again, I'm fine with that. I'm more than fine with that."
"You're being serious?"
"Completely. And if you're in the mood for it right now," he moved into a kneeling position, "then so am I. Because I trust you."
One of Stygia's extra arms came around, its long fingers wrapping around Alex's torso gently.
"And I'll honor that trust."
With that, she lifted him gently, her long jaws parting again to accept her prey. She turned Alex, setting him down lying forwards on her tongue with his feet pointing into her throat.
The human's pulse picked up again, but it was due to sort of a variant of anticipation this time, not fear. The feeling of Stygia's tongue under him was calming, as was her warm breath flowing over him.
After taking time to get Alex's taste, the dragoness tilted her head all the way back, swallowing Alex down in a single powerful-but-gentle gulp. She placed the fingers of her upper-right hand against her throat as her new friend traveled down inside of it, passing deeper into her body.
She rested her right hands on her belly, purring again as it distended as Alex slid down into her stomach and was sealed inside once more, surrounded by warmth and soft walls as he curled up.
Stygia's stomach continued to undulate, playing with Alex a little as he got situated, the snug surroundings giving him an affectionate squeeze as soon as he got comfortable.
Alex reached out to stroke the walls, again wondering if that simple, small movement could be felt. A happy, shuddering sigh from the ebony predator indicated that she could definitely feel it, and enjoyed it greatly.
The moist, dark space that Alex now occupied felt wonderful to be in; it was more comfortable than anything he had ever known before, and Stygia was more than happy to hold him inside like this.
"How are you doing in there?" Stygia asked, giving her belly a playful poke.
"Fantastic," Alex replied, shifting his rubbing over to where he felt the poke from.
"Thank you so much for letting me do this, Alex," she said, starting to rub from the outside.
"I'm happy to," was his honest response. "Thank you for letting me stay."
Stygia gave no verbal response, but smiled, and gave Alex another gentle squeeze.
"It's a bit hard to stay awake in here," Alex said with a yawn. The air was starting to affect him again. "Do you mind if I go to sleep again?"
"Go right ahead. I'll keep you safe."
Alex smiled, givng the walls one final stroke before going still and letting Stygia's belly rock him to sleep.
Stygia reached tiredly for a switch on the wall, turning out the lights and figuring it would be best if she got some rest as well.
And she meant what she said.
For as long as she could, she would keep Alex safe.