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“How much longer?”

I sighed, this was the twentieth time my sponsor asked that insipid question. I began to question the amount he paid me to help him cross the unforgiving ballaballa desert. 

“At the pace we are going, three days.” I sighed, not looking back. 

“No, I mean until we stop. Until we reach the next settlement, or camp.”

I grunted, “As I said, we travel by night, and rest in the day. When the sun rises is when there is time for rest. We will reach the Kanko oasis in the morning, and leave as the sun sets.”

“Why do we have to travel by night? It’s freezing.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes, “If you’re complaining this much now, just imagine what it would be like if you were traversing under the full power of the sun.” I turned around, still seated upon my camel. “And you are welcome to try, I already have been paid. Law of the desert.”

“Law of the desert?”

I nodded. “The law of the desert; ‘only you are responsible for your own survival’ of course there are exceptions. People will help you, but it comes at a price. The question one must ask, is one willing to pay?” I turned around on my camel. “So, the Law states, you are responsible for getting yourself to your destination. However, you enlisted my help. A pound of gold for guidance. That was the price you paid for survival.” I gestured to the dark dunes. “But if you want, feel free to travel on in the day.”

My fat, pudgy sponsor only gave a dumb look and meekly said how it wouldn’t be necessary and mumbled an apology. 

The rest of the night passes in silence, and I sighed in relief as I saw the Kanko oasis. Our two man caravan pulled in, getting a collective scowl from those already there. I moved on, not bothering to look at them. 

We arrived at a decent spot and I dismounted. 

“There is water in that tent, it is for everyone.” I pointed. “Fill your canteens and containers and come back here. The less you talk to others, the better. And above all, do not apologize or say something stupid like ‘excuse me’ it will make them realize you are weak.”

My sponsor fidgeted, “Wha- I have to get my own water?”

I shrugged, “So? I have to get my own water, and I can’t carry mine and yours at the same time. And travelers here are expressively forbidden to make more than one trip to get water each time they visit. If you do, they will cut off your hand.”

My sponsor fidgeted some more. “Well, can’t we go together?”

“Only if you want all your possessions stolen.”

There, the tent was finished and my sponsor already returned from getting water, his face rather white and crestfallen. I took my turn and hurried back, the Kanko Oasis seemed to have gotten better the last time I visited, the guardians of the well were even halfway pleasant. 

I stretched and yawned and collapsed on my bedroll and drifted to sleep. 

I awoke, something was wrong, it was still just barely midday. I stood and rushed out of the tent, something was seriously wrong… what was it? I looked at my camel, it was freaking out, trying to free itself from its reins and rush off into the scorching sand. Other more experienced travels seemed to be on edge, but no one could tell what was going on, and rushing off into the sand was virtually suicide. 

I kneeled down and scooped out a hole in the sand and listened.

Khepri!” I screamed. “They’re coming! They’re coming from below!”

The entire camp whirled into action and I gathered my water and jumped on my camel. The sand around us seemed to vibrate and dance. I noticed several tents falling down and knew the ground was opening up. I could smell the frenzied beetle women, and their arousal, the air filled with their sickly clicking noise as they rushed about, and grabbed any man they could get their hands on.

I ran, already knowing it was too late to save my camel, my sponsor, or anything else. The entire Kanko oasis was doomed. 

I had one container of water and my life, and ran without looking back. 

I trudged through, seriously wondering why I decided to run into the desert. It’s not like the Khepri would have killed me. No, they would have taken me back to their lair and raped me senseless. 

I shook my head, wait a second… why were Khepri after multiple men? Didn’t they only take one, and make that unfortunate soul their king? 

“Must be an awakened pharaoh.” I rasped out, nearing a mountain I was headed for. 

Suddenly my foot seemed to be sinking. 

“wha?” I gasped and immediately dove to the ground and rolled, just as the sand started to pour into the maw of a sandworm.

“Shit!” I screamed and took of running again, filled with a sudden burst of energy. 

I tore for the mountain that was coming closer with every stride, every pound my feet beat upon the sand. 

The sandworm gave a loud roar as it surfaced and tunneled under the sand, almost like a frenzied piranha. 

“Comon! Comon!” I screamed, nearing my goal. At last I reached rock, but that was hardly any relief as the worm surfaced again and slithered its way over the ground. 

My eyes darted over the mountain face, looking for something! Anything! 

“Yes!” I shouted in joy and victory. 

It was a cave! I dove in, head first and coughed as the sandworm crashed against the opening, spewing all sorts of dust and sand inside the hole.

I lay there, gasping for several moments, and finished off the last of my water. I looked about-

“Dammit! Can I get a single break? Just one fucking break!” I screamed.

The cave was more or less a shallow opening in the rock surface, there was no where to go. 

“Grrrawwrrrr” The sandworm roared out. I gasped, it was huge it must have been three hundred feet, if not longer, and it looked as though it could swallow a large house with no problem. It looked at me with its three circular eyes that were bigger than my head. First one side, and then the other. If I weren’t in such a bad way, its inquisitive investigation would have almost been comical.

It leaned its mouth closer to the whole and opened it. Ha! Fat chance I would just up and walk in your mouth.

“Forget it! Get away from me!” I shouted, throwing my canteen into its open maw.

“Ouch! Hey!” A feminine voice cried out.

“Huh?” I looked, what appeared to be a beautiful woman with red hair and skin was rubbing her head where my canteen hit her. 

“That’s the second time I hurt my head today. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?”

“Uh, I… what the hell?” I gaped at the beautiful woman before me 

“Well? What do you have to say for yourself?” The woman said, her fists on her hips, looking at me with a cross expression.

“What are you?” I said, dumbfounded.

“Me? What do you think I am? I am a sandworm. There I was in the middle of the desert thinking how lonely I was, and there you are, coming straight for me. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world, thinking; oh how nice that a man sought me out!  But no- you had to play hard to get first, running to the mountain and jumping in here, causing me to hurt my head. And now you throw a canteen at me? Seriously, it’s not funny anymore. I think you owe me an apology.”

“I ran because I thought you were going to eat me! AndI don’t owe you anything! I was trying to survive! I know all about you mamono! I am not going to be your sex slave.”

The Sandworm looked surprised. “Huh? Eat you, why would I do anything so silly?” She tapped her finger to her chin. “So you were just lost then, eh? tssch. That makes sense now.” She leaned forward and reached out to me, but her hands stopped just two feet away. 

“Aww, comon!” She grunted, I heard the enormous sandworm shift and move about, but it was no use, she couldn’t get any closer. 

“Go away!” I shouted.

“Aww, comon! Why? Don’t you like me?” She pouted. 

“No.” I said, feeling my face heat up; it wasn't true. She was the most beautiful woman I ever seen. Her voluptuous figure seemed to glisten and beg for my touch. Her hair was long, almost reaching her curvy hips. Every aspect of her seemed to ooze sexual energy and she wasn’t fooled in the slightest.

“Don’t lie. I can see right though you.” She pointed to my crotch and licked her lips. “You’re stiff, and your body wants it.”

“So what if it is!” I barked. “I’m not going to just up and surrender!”

“Say, what’s your name?” 

“What?”

“Ugh, seriously. If you’re that brain-dead. I just might leave you to the sun and sand and shrivel up and die.”

“Jordan.” I blurted.

“Aah, better. Well Jordan, my name is Sheeya. It’s best we know each other’s names. After all; you are going to be my husband.”

“I would rather die first!” I grumbled. 

Sheeya shook her head and sighed. “Look, Jordan. This has been fun, but seriously, are you so prideful that you’d rather die a virgin than being my husband?”

“I- I’m not a virgin!” I shouted, feeling my face burn. 

“Fine, so you’re not a virgin. Could you just be reasonable and come out of there?”

“No! Leave me alone.” 

“Tsscch! Fine.” Sheeya scoffed and backed up.

“I’m not falling for that! You’re just going to snatch me up when I come out.”

“Actually, I won’t. I don’t know about other mamono, but Sandworms have a bit of decency.”

I swallowed and exited, marveling at the enormous size of the creature, and how her voluptuous pink body seemed so delicate and tender. She stared as I exited and placed her hand above her eyes. 

“Well,” She said, pointing to the horizon. “The nearest village is that way, about two days travel.” 

I tried to swallow, but was unable. My mouth and throat was completely parched. 

“Ooh,” She moved closer to me. “Are you thirsty? Don’t you have enough water for the journey?”

“I- I’ll be fine.” I stammered, just barely able to resist from touching her body.

“Oh, okay.” She looked over my clothes. “Humans are more resourceful than I thought. I had no idea you had more water hidden in your clothes.” She pouted. “I recently got so much water from the deep stone aquifers. Nice and cold too. I thought you’d might want some.”

“You do?” I said, feeling the slightest sensation of salivation from the thought of drinking cold water.

“Well sure!” Her face grew a little mischievous. “Would you like some?”

“Yes.” I rasped out.

“Well, come with me.” She purred, backing into the maw of the sandworm. 

“Well, can’t you bring it out here?” I said looking at the enormous creature’s shell. 

“Goodness! And how would you recommend I could do such a thing?” Sheeya said as she ran her hands over her curvy body. “As you can see, I have no pockets or containers.”

“Wait! I have my canteen!” I said glancing about, wondering where it might have- 

“Oopsie.” Sheeya squeaked as both of our eyes looked upon the smashed canteen. “It must have happened as I backed up.”

“Can I have just one break! Seriously! Just once!” I cried out as I collapsed, my mouth almost felt like it was foaming, and my body started to hurt from dehydration. 

“Jordan.” Sheeya purred, placing her hand upon my shoulder.

I looked up. 

“Jordan, come with me. Let me feed you, and give you drink. Let me shower you with my affection. And if you want to go afterwards, I swear I will let you go at the edge of the nearest town.”

I stood, but immediately fell into Sheeya’s arms. 

“Easy, easy now.” Sheeya purred and helped me into the mouth of the giant sandworm.

We entered into the moist, pink flesh. The walls seemed to quiver in excitement. I looked back, the mouth was still open. 

“Do not fear, I shall leave the way open until you decide.” Sheeya purred. She led me to a soft corner and rubbed her hands together. “Now, let’s take off your clothes. We wouldn’t want them to dissolve.” 

“Water.” I croaked, barely able to resist as Sheeya tugged off all my clothes and placed them upon a fold of pink flesh that served as a shelf.

Sheeya gave a soft moan and leaned in, brushing her lips to mine.

I closed my eyes and kissed her, immediately a freezing cold trickle of water flowed from her mouth into mine. I suckled on her lips and tongue, feeling the water revive my senses and strength. She wrapped her arms around me, burying her fingers in my hair, and her tongue down my throat. 

I gasped, breaking the kiss and panted, overwhelmed by a strange heat that countered the freezing cold water sloshing in my belly.

“Aaah, better. Yes?” Sheeya caressed my face and rubbed my shoulders. “Would you like something to eat now?” She said with a dreamy look in her eyes.

“Yes, please.” I said, feeling my stomach roar in anticipation. 

Sheeya concentrated and plucked a morsel that was brought to her by a pink tentacle. “Desert hare I caught just this morning.”

“How did you cook it?” I asked, seeing the savory steam coming from its flesh. 

Sheeya handed it to me and rubbed her hands together in a vigorous manner. “I have pockets near my outer shell. The friction from the sand produces extreme heat. I always keep some cooked food, just in case I was to ever meet my husband.” She said and kissed my forehead. “Do you not see? That I did all this for you? Do you not see that I love you?” She said, her entire being was filled with an overwhelming energy, an almost desperate desire to please me.

I savored the flavorful meat. It was perhaps the best desert hare I ever ate. I noticed how the bits that fell from my lips were absorbed by the pink flesh, as were the bones. 

“Here, come with me.” Sheeya said, leading me by my hand. We turned a corner and I noticed a strange coil of flesh above me. 

“What’s that?” I said, pointing. 

“This is a part of me that cleans the dirt and sand away.” She said. She reached to the wall, plucking what looked like a large white sponge. “Bone fiber from prey I have captured.” She placed her hand on the small of my back and brought me under the flesh coil and started to scrub me down with the bone sponge. 

The coils began to leak a watery liquid. It felt strange, but, judging by how the vivid white sponge quickly turned a stained desert brown, it broke apart the desert grime everywhere on my body.

The moment was strange as it was special, I looked about my surroundings in the low light that came from the Sandworm’s open mouth. Sheeya smiled every time she met my gaze. She would whisper sweet words of love, and kiss me often, giving me just a small swallow of cold water… teasing my neck and face with her tongue that was ice-cold from the water.

I sighed, feeling my body relax under her tender ministrations. 

“There.” Sheeya grunted, and tossed away the sponge. “How do you feel?”

“I feel great.” I admitted, almost ashamed at my earlier behavior. I noticed how close she was to me. Her eyes carried a shy, vulnerable look. Her breathing grew deeper and heavy. 

Without thinking I placed my hands on her hips and backed her into the wall. 

She leaned back, the wall gave way and allowed her to lay on an incline. She pulled me on top of her and wrapped her legs around me.

Sheeya waited, until Jordan was just about to enter her throbbing opening when she whispered. 

“Jordan.”

He looked up, his eyes were half lidded and dreamy. 

“I love you.” Sheeya whispered, her eyes now brimming with tears. 

Jordan hesitated, and Sheeya could see a rush of conflicting emotions and desires. He wanted to be free! But he also wanted her love… It seemed as though the weight and entirety of his future identity was brought to this one moment.

“Do you… do you love me? Do you want me?” Sheeya whispered, her begging eyes now pouring tears. She held her breath, hoping… waiting…

“Yes.”

“Then, I am yours, my husband.” She cried out, pulling him into her. 

Sheeya cried out! Oh! In all her wildest imaginings, she could have never anticipated the absolute pleasure she received from her husband! 

He continued to thrust into her with a savage, almost bestial need. And she surrendered to his wild passion, crying out, moaning into his mouth as he ravaged her lips and tongue, demanding more of the life-giving water she carried.

At last she felt the burning heat of his seed erupt within her, coating her insides! They held onto each other, panting in the afterglow of their passion. 

“Sheeya.” Jordan murmured.

“Hmm?”

“I love you.” 

Sheeya gasped, and watched Jordan drift to sleep. She sighed, holding onto him, more precious than gold, more precious than water in the desert. She closed the Sandworm’s mouth and burrowed beneath the dunes. Oh! the entire world was brand new! For she now carried her husband within her self, as well as her heart.