Saida had thought she’d be the only giant anywhere near here.
While she wasn’t the type to go out of her way to do damage, this city wasn’t set up to accommodate a seven-story tall cat woman strolling through the downtown. Even so, when it became clear she was more sightseer than city destroyer, she’d attracted quite the crowd of gawkers. As she made her way along a wide avenue toward the central park, though, she drew unwanted but expected attention from police, yelling about her drawing unwanted attention. Truthfully, they weren’t making themselves clear. They were just blustering at her.
Then the crowd started gawking up. Not up at her, but up at the sky.
Saida shaded her eyes, tracking the… was that a dragon?
She grimaced. She was bigger than, well, some dragons she’d seen, but pound for pound even a small one outmatched an unarmed Rha handily. Hopefully, this one was—
—circling lower. Uh-oh.
All right, it wasn’t a dragon, exactly. It—she—was a mix of dragon and coyote: wide digitigrade paws, coyote coloration and fur, draconic scutes along her front and neck, long wild red hair, very… mammalian build. Honestly, she was strikingly attractive, even with those unsettlingly swirling golden eyes. But as those huge paws smashed into the street just outside the park, flattening some cars and sending others flying, Saida’s ears went back. She not only wasn’t bigger than the dragon-coyote, she wasn’t much past knee height.
At least she didn’t have to shoo the crowd away from her paws; they were already starting to run. So were the police. Apparently, the height limit of “giant safe to harass” was somewhere higher than eighty feet but under three hundred.
The dragon-coyote remained crouching, eyes swirling faster. “There’s something about you,” she murmured.
Saida’s ears skewed. “Th-that I’m another giant?” She smiled nervously.
“What do they call you?”
The Rha took a step back. “Saida.”
“They call me Red Savina.” Her huge wings snapped open, the brief gale blowing away branches and several too-daring onlookers. “And you are another giant… yet I can tell you’re prey.”
Saida took another step back, ears flattening. “No.”
The dragon-coyote grinned, showing off huge, gleaming teeth—then leapt forward. Saida shrieked and rolled to the side just in time, then bolted, on all fours herself for a moment before she scrambled into a bipedal run.
In her panic, her previous care for step placement vanished, cars vanishing under sandals or being accidentally kicked out of the way. Behind her, she heard Savina roar, felt the shift in the wind as she pivoted.
Saida vaulted over a two-story building, steading herself with a hand on a larger office tower, maybe twelve stories high, as she landed on the parking lot behind it, cratering a half-dozen luxury sedans and setting off countless car alarms. She crouched, dared a look—wait, where was she? How could a dragon-coyote hide?
A shadow passed overhead, and Saida’s ears went flat again. How could she hide from something that could fly, no matter how tall the buildings were?
The dragon-coyote landed hard, paws first, right behind her, the downward thrust so powerful she sank yards into the pavement. Cars and trucks and even small buildings blew back from the shockwave. The office tower behind the monster collapsed. So did Saida, sent sprawling backward against the office tower she’d been crouching behind. As she slid off it, it started to collapse. Putting her hands up to ward off rubble, she scrambled back—
Red Savina’s right paw came down on her torso. Not the bone-crushing stomp she could surely have given, but still hard enough to press the Rha down, pin her in place. Saida whimpered, pushing up with all her strength, both arms and legs. The tough pebbled pads remained immobile.
Savina crouched, the motion squeezing some of the Rha’s breath out of her, and looked at the relatively small cat trapped under that single wide paw. “Prey.” Then the paw lifted, moving to the side as a big hand wrapped around Saida’s hips and legs instead, hauling her into the air.
“Please don’t,” Saida gasped. “You’re very pretty.”
“Thank you.” Savina parted her jaws. Wide. Her tongue looked mostly like a coyote’s, but it snaked out far longer than expected, wrapping around the Rha’s waist, pinning her arms with prehensile precision and lifting her up toward—and past—those frightening teeth.
She kicked and screamed, knowing it would do no good. The jaws closed, her hips and legs still outside, the tongue wrapped right between her thighs and causing some very embarrassing reactions given she might be about to be bitten in half. Those teeth against her waist could surely shear through steel. And she smelled—she smelled a campfire. Dragons breathed fire, didn’t they? Was she about to be barbecued?
For long seconds nothing happened but her kicking frantically, uselessly, twisting against the tongue, getting ever more slick with the dragon-coyote’s disquietingly tingly saliva. Saida couldn’t help but get a vision of Savina’s huge, beautiful muzzle tilted back, watching shapely Rha legs and fluffy tail kicking and flick past her lips. Was she enjoying the sight? The thought just made Saida squirm more. That probably made her taste better.
Then the muscles surrounding her contracted, and the thick gulp felt like it might vibrate the Rha’s bones out of her body. The tight constriction of the dragon’s throat took in her head and shoulders all at once, then just pulled down hard, fast. No bite, no flame, just one powerful swallow, all eighty-plus feet of Rha pulled inside in mere seconds.
The blackness became hotter, and tighter, and hotter, and tighter. Saida wanted to scream but couldn’t. Then, the unbearable tightness squeezed her out into what could only be Red Savina’s stomach. The pressure lessened, but the heat didn’t. The campfire smell became intense, and an alarming, low splashing roar built around her as the fearsome digestive system began to churn.
She could barely hear—let alone concentrate on—on the last voice from outside she heard: Savina’s distinctly pleased rumble, far overhead. “And you, Saida, were both pretty and delicious.”
© 2020 Arilin Thorferra