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The weakling of a man stumbled clumsily over a rock, cursing darkly. A small, nervous chuckle rose from his comrades as he scrambled to catch up with them, lasgun clattering against his chest armour. Bloodmaw eyed the weapon passively before craning its head to view the group of men. There were very few of them, thankfully. Patrols had gotten tougher since Bloodmaw had slain the commander last week. It crouched low, concealing itself within the dense undergrowth of the jungle as the patrol wandered past, oblivious to its presence. Bloodmaw waited until the stumbler ambled by before it made its move.

It speared out a talon, razor-sharp material shearing through armour, bone and flesh alike. Bloodmaw withdrew the blade from the man’s chest, a small burst of gore flinging into the air with it. Bloodmaw had impaled him through the heart, rendering the man dead instantly. He slumped to the floor limply, lasgun hitting his helmet on the way down. The noise alerted the men, who turned around to see their comrade gutted before them. Bloodmaw faded into the jungle again, vanishing as quickly as it’d struck.

The men rushed to their friends aid, checking vainly for a pulse. Of course there was none, the neuro toxins coating the talon alone would kill a man ten times over. The larger, ones in the bulky suits needed more work though. This prey was like paper, that prey was like butter. More effort, similar result. Bloodmaw flitted speedily through the underbrush, finally arriving behind the group of men. Three left now. Easy pickings. One stepped backwards, reeking of fear. Bloodmaw waited patiently, determined not to relay its presence to the soldiers yet. The one stepping back wandered within range and Bloodmaw speared him through the leg before dragging him into the darkness. The screams were loud, but terror was Bloodmaw’s final goal; leave the soldiers of this world too horrified to fight back when the final, true infestation took place.

A flurry of las shots tore through the flora in its direction, shredding the leave and snapping the branches. Bloodmaw merged with the environment again and relocated swiftly. The two panicking survivors looked around frantically, jumping at every noise they heard. Bloodmaw peeked out from behind a nearby tree before speeding across one side of the pathway to the other, talons outstretched. As it reached the shadows on the other side it felt an impact and turned around to view it’s kill, severed head tumbling from the body with a spray of blood. The body soon followed, hitting the ground with a sickly thwump.

One human left. Bloodmaw tilted its head to the right like a dog trying to understand, analysing the final man. Its animalistic nature gave way to its true, cold intellect as it recognised the uniform the man was wearing. He was one of those ones in power… Bloodmaw subconsciously shifted positions again, slowly creeping closer to the man. The raw hatred, horror and fear emanating from the shaken being was almost intoxicating to it, almost too much to resist. Bloodmaw stepped out of the shadows and gripped the man by the head, pulling him up into the air. The screaming was horrendous, but Bloodmaw didn’t care. It needed to do its job. Efficiently, Bloodmaw severed the man’s arm with a talon, weapon tumbling to the floor as well. Bloodmaw turned him around to face it, cold and soulless eyes gazing back into fearful ones.

Abruptly, Bloodmaw pushed firmly on the man’s cranium, bursting the head like a watermelon. The screaming, flailing and fear stopped instantly. Bloodmaw let go of the man before staring emotionlessly at the corpse sprawled before it. It opened its beaked mouth and tore into the brain matter, some bizarre dark miracle allowing it to harness the memories of the fallen. Bloodmaw knew everything now. It knew positions, troop locations, weak points… It turned to gaze at the base in the distance, blood dripping from its mouth. It also knew why they feared it and tried to give it a name. The Lictor known as Bloodmaw faded into the trees again, searching for new prey to feed upon.

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