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Pandora vs Susannah Burlingame

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The FAWN Arena, production suit 14, last week…

“Hey Ned,” Lily Burlingame sounded a little flustered and more than a little irritated as she pushed through the doors into the production suite, “who am I interviewing? My call sheet just said ‘special guest’ and that’s all well and good for building suspense among the fans, but if I can’t research my questions it’s going to be a terrible interview!” The fledgling broadcaster rounded a corner to the nook where the in tycppaqu. ожерелья пандорыterviews were shot to find it empty save for her producer and cameraman. “And she’s not even here yet? Damn, and I thought I was running late. Oh god, did I miss her? Did she stamp out because I was late? Holy crap Ned I didn’t mean to--” 

Ned Beal raised a hand. “Breathe, Lily. She’s not here yet and you’re not late. That said, I won’t tell you the name of who you’re interviewing, but I will tell you that she was named the number one contender for the World Title as of very early this morning. I got word from brass a few hours ago, they want you to be the one to break the news. But they think it’ll be that much more surprising if you don’t know either.” 

Lily shrugged confusedly, she wasn’t even sort of used to the vagaries of television production yet. “All right, you win. But if it’s a terrible interview I’m going to blame you.” 

Ned stepped aside and handed her the microphone. “You wouldn’t be the first. But don’t worry about that kid. I have a feeling you’re going to knock this one out of the park.” 

She didn’t share his enthusiasm but that didn’t stop the youngest Burlingame from taking the mic and getting into position in front of the camera. Letting out a deep breath to settle her nerves, Lily turned her attention to the camera and focused on the countdown. Somewhere on the far end of the room, she heard a door open and close. When the light flashed green, she said, “Hey FAWNatics, it’s your girl on the street Lily Burlingame and have I got a surprise for you. The very first interview with the woman who will challenge Pandora for her world title at March to War. It’s such a big surprise in fact that no one would tell me who it was before I…” 

The number one contender stepped into view and Lily’s jaw dropped. Quickly remembering she was on camera, the little brunette said, “And here she is, ladies and gentlemen, a former World Champion in her own right and my oldest sister who I have absolutely NOT been avoiding since I started to work here, Susannah Burlingame!” 

Sue Burlingame stepped into the shot and slung an arm around her sister’s shoulders. “Hiya sis, how’s it going? Got your phone fixed?” 

Lily rolled her eyes. “Yeah yeah, I owe you an explanation. But first and foremost, I see you finally stopped using that terrible dye. Welcome back to the happy land of brunettes, Sue.” 

Susan ran a hand through her hair, which was indeed a very dark brown. “Yeah, did it a week ago. Decided there were too many blondes and not enough fun around here, so I washed out the dye and here I am for the first time in, hell I can’t remember. Feels good though. Feels like change. And I think everyone would agree that FAWN could use some change.” 

Lily wasn’t quite ready to let the hair thing go yet, but she saw Ned giving her the eye from behind the camera so she focused on what was important. “You’re speaking of the World Title of course. Now for those who might not know, you challenged Pandora last month at a House Show and gave her quite a battle before falling to the Greek Tragedy. Not that I’m not pleased to see you get another shot, but, well, why did you get another shot?” 

The Bankable Bombshell shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. I know I went longer with Panny than most. And that Lark Russell provided a timely assist, but I’m not going to say it was instrumental in her winning the match. Pandora beat me last time, straight up. But she knew she was in a fight when she left the ring and apparently that was enough to get me a second shot. Tell ya what else I know, Panny’s tough, but she’s not as tough as she thinks. Hell, no one’s as tough as she thinks. I can beat her. At March to War I WILL beat her. And I won’t need a whole bunch of goons or a table to do it. I’ll just kick her face off and paste it onto her fat gut so she’s got a suitable replacement for the World--” 

“What was that, bytch?” The Burlingames turned together but Lily was the only one who stepped back when Pandora stormed into the small studio. While her business wasn’t with Sue’s kid sister, the Beach Brawler zeroed in on Lily first. “You see that reaction, Suzie? That’s the sort of reaction I should get from you. Your sister may be a sawed off motor-mouth, but apparently she’s got more brains than you.” 

Lily frowned and stepped forward, going so far as to take point in front of her older sister. “Ladies and gentlemen we’ve been joined by the World Champion, who I must say is looking worlds better than the last time we saw her. Pandora, inquiring minds want to know, how are you feeling after West’s flunkies checkmated your overrated ass in the center of the WHOA!” 

Pandora closed in, wrapped her hands around the smaller woman’s throat and lifted her several feet into the air. “Midget tramp,” Panny spat, “guess you weren’t as smart as I thou--” 

There was a tart PWAAAK as Susan buried a right hand in the champ’s vaunted tummy. Pandora grunted, dropped Lily and found herself nose to nose with Sue. “She asked you a question,” the elder Burlingame said softly, “and I’d like to know the answer. How did it feel to learn you’re as mortal as the rest of us?” 

The big blonde pressed in and tilted her head down, a not so subtle reminder of her three inch height advantage. “I’ll answer that when you answer this. Just how many executives did you have to persuade with your mouth before they gave you this totally undeserved rematch, ya little ass kisser?” 

Burlingame bristled at that, but managed to hold her tongue. “That’s what’s funny, Panny. I didn’t ask them. I didn’t ask anyone. FAWN brass practically beat a path to my door a few days ago and I sure as hell wasn’t going to turn them down. Especially not when you’re without your safety net for the first time.” 

Now it was Pandora who snarled. “I didn’t need them to beat you. Or anyone else for that matter. There’s no one on this roster that can beat me one on one.” 

“Is that so?” Susan refused to give ground even though Pandora was chesting into her with every bit of her hundred and fifty pounds. “The mouse I left under your eye last month says otherwise. So do the welts all over your tummy. Had to cancel a photo shoot after that one, didn’t you sweetie? From what I hear you were pretty heavily made up when it came time for Heartbroken, guess I should apologize to Lisa for giving you a reason to duck--” 

The blonde’s hands flew up and she shoved Burlingame so hard the brunette stumbled off camera for a second or two. Then she was streaking back the way she’d came to rock Panny with a shove of her own. “Ladies please!” Lily tried her best to sound authoritative, mainly because she knew her ass was toast if champ and challenger decided to throw down here and now. “Save it for March to War! At least there we’ll have more than one camera. 

Much too slowly for Lily’s liking, Pandora took a step back. “I should destroy you right now,” she said softly, “but could this sorry ass promotion come up with a suitable replacement before March to War? I doubt it. So you get a stay of execution, Suzie. And you can spend it thinking about how you’re going to worship this.” Pandora pinched the bottom edge of her Dangerous Curves tee-shirt between thumb and forefinger and pulled it up, baring a few tantalizing inches of the most dangerous smothering weapon on the roster. 

Burlingame snorted derisively. “Do me a favor Panny, do plenty of Crunches before March to War. I don’t want to punch through you too fast.” 

The Tower of Terror ignored her, choosing instead to focus on Lily. “As for you, you better make sure to be backstage when the match is over. You’re going to ask me about how much fun I had putting your no talent sister in the hospital. And if I don’t like your questions you might be joining her.” 

Lily, who’s mouth was sometimes quicker than her good sense, would’ve fired off a reply if Susan hadn’t laid a hand on her shoulder. It would’ve been pointless in any case, Pandora had already wheeled around and stormed out of the production suite. “Kiss my tiny ass you bloated sack of bully.” Burlingame muttered not quite under her breath. 

“What was that, sis?” Sue asked with a smile. 

“I said tune in to FAWN’s annual March to War where my sister Sue challenges Pandora for the World Title! Until next time, this has been Lily Burlingame, signing off.” 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is our Main Event! It is scheduled for one fall with a one hour time limit and it is for the FAWN World Championship! Introducing first, she is the challenger, hailing from Stovington Vermont, she stands at five feet seven inches tall and weighs in at one hundred and thirty pounds, she is the Bankable Bombshell, the Game Changer, THIS IS SUSANNAH BURLINGAME!” 

The lights went down and the FAWNatics stood up and gave voice to a rumbling roar when a single bright spotlight lit the entryway. Their eyes were still adjusting to the glare when Nonpoint’s ‘The Truth’ came through the speakers with a crash of guitars and drums. Her music was shortly thereafter joined by the woman herself, Susannah storming through into view like she hadn‘t seen the arena in months. Fist raised high even before she appeared from the back, Burlingame strode to one end of the stage and pumped her sigil before heading to the other end for a second round. “NO MORE MARCHING, FAWN“ Sue told the sold out crowd once she was back at center stage, “THE WAR STARTS NOW!” With her call to arms made loud and clear, the Game Changer started down the aisle. 

For her first televised go round with the Tower of Terror, Burlingame sported her trademark cerulean one-piece featuring gold piping and a large strategically cut diamond patch that bared the best part of her flawless abdominals. These iconic togs were completed with matching pads and short blue wrestling boots. Just as interesting to those of a sartorial bent was the former champ’s hair, which transformed from its previously glossy blonde to a dark chocolate brown that was actually her natural shade. A bit surprising to be sure, but Sue rocked brunette just as hard as she did blonde and even the staunchest flaxen fanatics had been converted by the time she reached the foot of the ramp. 

Heading to the steps after she’d made a quick circuit around the ring, Burlingame bounded up the steel and vaulted over the ropes so nimbly they didn’t even tremble. In motion the moment she touched the canvas, Susan sped around the squared circle and mounted each corner to better salute the Burlingame Backers. “YOU HEAR THAT?” Susan called at the top of her lungs. “THAT’S THE SOUND OF THE LID GETTING’ SLAMMED ON PANDORA’S BOX!” Sue paused to catch a breath and that’s when her music faded. “Ok Panny,” she hopped down from the buckles, twisted in mid-air to face the entryway, “let’s see how invincible you are without a whole pack of bytches backing you up.” 

As Susannah’s fleeting remaining moments with a head on her shoulders dwindled to nothing, the crowd and Burlingame’s gaze drifted to the upper stage. A moment of silence (fitting) before the Announcer said, “And introducing the FAWN WORLD CHAMPION… hailing from parts unknown… she stands five feet ten inches tall, and weighs in tonight at one hundred and fifty-one pounds… representing Dangerous Curves, she is the one… the only… the incomparable… the INDOMINATABLE... PAAANNNDDDOOORRRAAA!” 

When the speakers crackled to life, Trina’s ‘Da Baddest Bytch’ was unleashed. And that served as more than enough for the furious FAWNatics to pour their hatred toward the entrance. Seconds later, the curtain parted and out stepped the organization’s ultimate physical specimen. One that had been taken down by the collective force of the Black Court, but one that no single woman had come close to handling. 

There weren’t many women on the roster that could make the likes of Becky Clayton, Roxie McCrimmon and Janneke freakin’ Kaiser look like lightweights nor tear them each new assholes, Pandora would and certainly did qualify. She stood just south of six feet tall and impressively filled out her hot pink, ’OXYGEN IS FOR WINNERS’ t-shirt. The lights seemed to dance off Pandora’s impossibly bronzed, impossibly smooth stomach. And her taut undercarriage was sheathed in a matching set of bikini bottoms, with three aqua buttons befitting her Miami roots leading toward tied off stretches of fabric that extended halfway down her thighs. And when your legs never end, that’s a LOOOONG way. 

Pandora approached the ring, her hindquarters perhaps not possessing quite the same degree bootyliciousness as her stablemate LaKeisha Bates—few did—but her hips make up for it with extra sass. The blonde goddess’ expression remained aloof, lips ever so slightly curled upward in a confident smirk. Reaching the ring, Pandora made a majestic ascent of the ring steps. Climbing onto the apron, she slid through the ropes. And as she peeled off the tee to reveal her overflowing white bikini top, she showed no sign of intimidation or awe at the stage or her surroundings. Instead, she treated Susan as the ready and willing next-in-line. And the FAWNatics, for all their usual hope and prayers, gave off an aura that they understood the inevitability of this curvy force of nature no one could stop. Strapped around the smooth, tawny waist of the beach blonde was tonight’s prize: the FAWN World Championship belt. 

Panny unfastened her property, and never in FAWN’s existence did it ever seem more someone’s God given possession, and handed it to the official. The buzz inside the FAWN Arena grew expectant, many looking at their virtual watches wondering how long Susannah could survive. Though Burlingame was a former champion in her own right, when the blonde closed in on Sue and hovers in her space, a heavy question hovered with her: was Pandora a woman that could be stopped? 

The bell CLANGED and Pandora was out of her corner like a shot, the infuriated Champion focusing an entire month’s worth of ire at the only target in view. Remarkably calm for someone staring down a bipedal apocalypse, Susan strode forward to meet her foe, but otherwise didn’t move a muscle until the blonde colossus lunged for her with both hands hooked into claws. Burlingame dipped, twisted right and in so doing pwak-pwak-PWAAAKED a trio of hard punches into Pandora’s liver. That trio would’ve had any other woman on the roster shuddering with body shock, but Panny only snarled and lashed out with a wild right hand. 

Sue dodged that one too, answered with a stiff little left-right-left combo to the blonde’s indomitable midsection, then sprang out of reach an instant before Pandora would’ve grabbed her by the neck. Growing more and more irritated with the challenger’s refusal to lock up, Pandora bared her teeth and lunged again only to have Susan dive between her legs in a short-range baseball slide. Up a split second before the last member of Dangerous Curves could turn around, Burlingame hopped and THWHACKED her heels squarely into the Beach Goddess’ left knee. 

Pandora staggered, didn’t go down so the heiress lashed her again, this time with a Side Kick to the same knee. That finally got the blonde on one knee, a victory Sue celebrated by vaulting into a leap and THWHAPPING both feet into the pit of her opponent’s tummy. Pushing off with every bit of her hundred and thirty pounds, Burlingame used the champ like a springboard to peel off a beautiful back flip that brought her down in a crouch a short distance away. Susan had thought the Drop-Sault would’ve put Panny on all fours for at least a second, but the blonde was still on one knee. Strike that, she was pushing back to vertica-THWHACK! Sue planted on her left heel and swung for the fences with a Roundhouse Kick that caught the other woman squarely behind the left ear. 

“Bytch,” Pandora groaned as her knees gave out, “stand still and fight meNNNNGGGHHH!” 

The Bankable Bombshell caught Pandora behind the ear for a second time and fans who’d booed the Champion since her arrival groaned in response to the echoing THWHACK! “Stay down baby,” Burlingame muttered when Pandora sprawled onto her tummy, “or I’ll kick your damned face off.” 

BUZZSAW KICK

In a stroke of good fortune for the challenger, Panny slopped over onto her back, ensuring Sue didn’t have to waste any time shooting a Half Nelson. Instead she ‘smecked’ down on the blonde’s taut tummy with a miniature Splash, hooked the far leg and waited for… 

ONE… 

Pandora put one hand on Sue’s stomach, the other against her chest and pushed hard enough to send the former champ soaring over to the ropes. Trying and failing to keep the wide-eyed astonishment off her face, Burlingame bounded to her feet and backed off a ways while her opponent stood up. As effortless as her escape had looked, Pandora was in fact feeling the sting of Susan’s educated feet, which was the only reason she didn’t flat out rush the bytch again. Instead she made a few adjustments to her togs, then ran a hand through her hair. Once she felt a bit more in control of herself, Pandora focused on Sue and said, “You again? Weren’t you licking my navel last month?” 

“Yeah, it’s me again,” Burlingame answered without moving, “and no, I didn’t lick your stomach. You didn’t even tummy up on me after the bell. Don’t feel bad for not remembering though, you’ve had a busy month what with all that posturing and looking over your shoulder.” 

Her hands clenched into fists, but Pandora didn’t move, she wasn’t going to give this insect any more free shots. “Uh huh,” she said with feigned disinterest, “so did you wear out two pairs of kneepads? Or three?” 

“They chose me because your big buttery mentor could never beat me,” Susan sneered, her voice going cold, “and you couldn’t do it without an assist from Lark and a handful of tights.” She raised her fists to chin level and smiled over them. “But now all your little hench bytches are ####ing gone and if you manage to get a handful of my tights it’s probably because I’m sitting on your--” 

Pandora charged and Susan went low, the former champ flicking out her right leg like a tawny scythe that ‘thwapped’ against the current champ’s ankles. With her brakes sabotaged, Panny went tumbling toward the strands where she ultimately lost her balance and ended up on one knee with her arms and neck draped over the middle rope. “You’ve walked all over this place for a year, big stuff,” Burlingame taunted, “now it’s time someone used you as a stepping stone.” Happy to attempt such a feat, Sue sprinted at her downed rival, hopped onto her back and ‘ran’ up that big blonde ramp so she could drop onto the apron. Situated a little to Pandora’s left, the heiress backed up several steps, then charged again and THWHONKED her knee into the Amazon’s temple. 

Groaning in real hurt for the first time since the bell rang, the Beach Brawler stood up and tottered away, holding one hand pressed to the side of her rattled noggin. Out on the apron, Burlingame considered a Springboard ‘Rana or Crossbody but dismissed them both as equally suicidal. If she was going to fly at this monster, there was only one weapon in her arsenal that would do. Grabbing the top rope in both hands, she leaned into a deep crouch and waggled her hips a few times just to get the crowd on her side. T’was a success in that regard and the noise got that much louder when Sue leapt to the top rope. Pandora turned and Susan dove, the former raising her hands even as the latter pulled her knees against her chest. There was a resounding THWHACK followed by an even louder ‘THUD’ when the Missile Dropkick connected with Pandora’s chin and the big blonde went down on her back. Though they were closer to the ropes than she would have liked, that didn’t stop Sue from hooking the far leg and holding on through… 

SPRINGBOARD MISSILE DROPKICK

ONE… 

Another emphatic kick out from the Champion, one that sent Susan rolling under the bottom rope, but thankfully not all the way to the floor. “Your head might be up a little higher than most,” the newly-minted brunette climbed onto the middle rope, giving herself at least a temporary height advantage while Panny recovered, “but it’ll still get funny if I hit it enough.” Pandora heard this but must not have realized how Sue was because she made no effort to evade the Front Facelock the challenger slapped around her skull. Bracing her free hand against the giant’s shoulder for a little extra leverage, Burlingame bent her knees, then sprang over the ropes and twisted around for what would’ve been a gorgeous TrustfunDDT if Pandora hadn’t wrapped both arms around her waist in mid-air. 

Panny squeezed the instant her hands locked and Susannah’s Facelock disintegrated before the might of her opponent’s Bear Hug. Bearing down like she’d caught the whole of the Black Court in her impressive grip, Pandora marched this unworthy substitution to the center of the ring where she shook her like a rag-doll until Sue began to wail. “You want to quit, don’t you?” the Champion pulled Sue close after fifteen seconds of paint shaker-esque thrashing so she could nuzzle against the challenger’s ear. “Yeah, you want to quit, I can see it in your eyes and feel it in your heartbeat. But guess what, rich girl? If I don’t get West, you don’t get to quitEERRRGGGHH!” Susan twisted her head and bit down hard on the soft flesh below Panny’s ear. “####IN’ SLAG!” Pandora endured the gnawing for a moment then solved the problem by popping her hips to hurl Susan halfway across the squared circle with a THWHAMMING Belly to Belly Suplex. 

OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX

Rolling to one knee, the towering Champ put a hand against her midsection and traced a nonsense pattern. “Hope you brought your checkbook, rich girl,” she purred, “I’m gonna charge your face the obnoxious bytch rate.” 

Burlingame cradled her head with both hands, her boots tapping out an early distress signal. The World Champ took her sweet time pressing the advantage and Susan was able to roll her way up before the DCer could grab hold. Sue stumbled to the ropes behind her, apparently now remembering what the big blonde brought to the table, the same one she usually buried people beneath. 

The tawny brunette bounded out from her backpedal into the ropes and raced at Pandora. Leaping, she landed a Clothesline across the juggy blonde’s chest. Panny barely moved, a slight grin emerging. Susan turned and headed full bore for the strands this time. She hits the 180 out of the ropes and tried her luck again. The collision sounded like a good one for Burlingame and Pandora was knocked back a step or two but no more. 

A frustrated Sue repeated her sprint and returned. But this time Panny surged forward, leaping toward the brunette just as Burlingame’s about to take to the skies with another Clothesline. Panny sent her curvy frame into the sleek, sinewy brunette, tummy bumping into Sue’s chest, the blonde’s arms swinging together from out wide and crushing Burlingame’s head between her biceps. 

Susan was sent into a serious retreat from the showdown, stumbling and bumbling her way to the ropes on her six. Shot out of the cables, she staggered back toward a ready champion. A dipping Pandora wrapped her arms around Susan’s hips and lifted her foe off the deck, while using the brunette’s momentum to pivot and drop Burlingame like a ton of bricks with a ring-rattling Spinebuster. 

SPINEBUSTER

The crowd groaned in sympathy for the Bankable Bombshell as she hit home. They quickly grew quiet as Pandora seemed ready to garner a nearfall at the very least. But instead, the towering blonde shoved the limp tawny legs of the splayed Susan away. Rising to her feet, Pandora surveyed and it’s her turn to go for a little added impetus from the ropes. She returned like a chugging juggy, blonde locomotive and leapt above Burlingame, coming down in a reverberating SPLASH. Midriff slapped heavy and hard against midriff, the blonde burying her challenger and sending a bug-eyed Susan into a jackknife around the title holder. 

This time Pandora decided to go for the pin, but it’s a lazy effort and when Sue shook the big blonde off at TWO, there’s a certain aroma of cat playing with mouse already. Panny climbed off her groaning challenger and got to her feet then took off for the cables one more time. She leapt again, the FAWNatics pleading for the heiress to roll free, but Panny SPLASHED again, somehow this one even bigger than the last, the champ’s tummy coming down across Susan’s flawless features. Pandora’s Tummy Tuck delivered with a cold precision. Susan’s legs and lower body spasmed, her dark locks fanning out from under the t-bone of her and Panny’s bodies. 


Weakly, Sue snuck out from under the World’s Most Dangerous Curve, face already glistening with Panny’s tummy sheen on her nose and cheeks. Susan wavered, but she’s able to roll up to a seat, looking more than a little dazed. Pandora pushed up beside her foe, face stern, looking as dominant as ever, the blonde battleship apparently ready to make Susan another victim in a growing list of FAWN superstars made to look very ordinary in a vain attempt to end the ever-growing reign of blonde terror. 

Panny sent her right set of fingers into Susan’s dark tresses and ripped the sleek stunner to her feet, the one-time former World champion yelping like a whipped puppy as Pandora spun and drew her into a tight face-to-face embrace. Lifting the lithe heiress off her boot leather, Pandora’s powerful biceps cinched around the moaning brunette. It didn’t take long for the towering blonde to grow bored of sapping the Bankable Bombshell of her strength so. Panny added a little shake, a rattle and a roll to her Bear Hug, Susan used like a ragdoll for the champ’s amusement. Finally, the brunette’s arms extended out on either side of the DCer. Sue SMACKED her hands together behind Pandora’s noggin and rang the big girl’s ears. 

A grimacing Panny dropped her cargo and backed off a few steps while Susan crumpled to the canvas, huffing in some deep breaths. She bent slightly at the waist, hand on a thigh. Burlingame lifted a drooping chin to find her foe and unfortunately she found a lot more than she wanted. Pandora, showing a flash of anger, buried a shoulder in Susan’s bosom and decked her with the block. The blonde mounted a straddle of the horizontal brunette beauty and shouted at the crowd. 

“Black Court,” she bellowed, “you pathetic little tramps. I’m going to use this former World Champion. A woman who could likely beat all of you. I’m going to treat her like yesterday’s garbage. Like freakin’ Kylie Sanders!” 

Pandora landed a vicious stomp when Burlingame made all fours. 

“She’ll be an example for you. FOR ALL OF FAWN. Don’t mess with the most dangerous force of nature this organization has or ever will see.” 

When a game Susan reached all fours again, Panny ‘helped her’ up the rest of the way. She yanked the jelly-legged brunette into a tight Front Facelock, slipping her head under a limp arm of the challenger. Moving a hand to Susan’s waist, Pandora launched Sue into the sky and held her at vertical, and held her, and held her. The FAWNatics watched in growing amazement as the clock ticked on and the blood rushed to Burlingame’s head. Finally, Pandora ended the game, depositing the brunette to the deck in harsh fashion, the challenger’s body bouncing an inch off the thinly-sheathed plywood before settling into a dazed starfish from the Jackhammer. 

JACKHAMMER

The Dangerous Curve draped her redonkuolous body across the sapped sinew of the demolished heiress and cruised to the… 

ONE… 
TWO… 
THRNOOOO! 

Somehow, the stubbornness of Susan saved her as she shoved a shoulder off the mat and rolled to one side. Panny propped herself up on an elbow and watched with apparent fascination at Susan’s plight, the brunette crawling away in desperation. Deciding it’s time to stop Sue’s escape, Panny grabbed an ankle and yanked the tawny grappler toward her. But suddenly, Susan rolled with the tug and leapt on Pandora in a body-to-body pin, Susan’s chest on Pandora’s tummy, her chin dissecting the blonde’s jugs, her palms pressing down on the champ’s shoulders for ONE…and that’s all. 

Before the crowd could even get excited for the nearfall, the DCer barrel rolled to her right, her powerful, coiling legs circling Susan’s slender midriff as they turned in unison and, just like that, Pandora gave Sue a faceful of tummy smother. Having shown she’s more than a body, Panny had seemingly suckered Sue into a Bodyscissors a la mode, Panny leaning every ounce of her curves into Susan’s faltering frame while forcefeeding her in classic Pandora fashion. 

“Learn from this stupid well-to-do wench, West!” Pandora shouted between leg-flexing grimaces. “I’m doing this and so much more to you and EVERY ONE OF YOUR COURT! You b###hes are going to keep me in business for the rest of the year.” 

Doing everything she could to steady her breathing, Burlingame balled both hands into fists and started pwak-pwak-PWAAAKING stubby little punches into the taller woman’s ribs. She could feel the impacts ripple through the blonde’s tummy, unfortunately they only spurred Pandora to squeeze harder and Sue let out a pained yelp as her nose was mashed against those insatiable abdominals. “That all you got?” Panny had one arm coiled around the back of her foe’s head and the other hand palming the top of Burlingame’s skull, ensuring she couldn’t twist away from the smother, “why don’t you start worshiping now, I’ll tell you when it’s ok to stopPEEERRRGGHHH BYTCH!” 

Faced (both figuratively and literally) with no other option, Sue opened wide, tipped her head at a slight angle and chomped down on Panny’s gulping midriff. Tightening her grip on the back of the heiress’ noggin Pandora raised her free arm and POUNDED a few heavy smashes against the back of Sue’s shoulders. “Money can’t buy class I see,” the blonde huffed once those intruding teeth had left her tummy, “but it should buy you an excellent bed in the nearest intensive care unit.” 

With the brunette offering no real resistance Pandora hauled them both to verticality and promptly hurled Burlingame into the far corner with an Irish Whip. The echo of her impact was still reaching the upper deck when the Tower of Terror charged in with her right arm outstretched for a Lariat that-- Sue ducked under the clubbing limb at the last possible instant and hooked her right arm across Panny’s chest at a sharp angle. Snatching a savage handful of hair with no regard for the ref’s warning, Burlingame snapped down and back. This abrupt shift wrenched Pandora into a quick, brutal fall that ended with her face BWUUUNGING against the second turnbuckle. 

REVERSE STO TO SECOND TURNBUCKLE

Scrambling to her feet even as the champion pushed off her knees, Burlingame positioned herself behind Pandora’s right shoulder and spun in a tight corkscrew. Airborne in an heartbeat, she lashed out her right leg and THWHACKED the ball of her heel squarely into the base of her foe’s skull. The Death Roll put Pandora back on her knees and this time she didn’t immediately regain her feet. 

DEATH ROLL

“What’s wrong, muffin top?” Susan hopped over her downed adversary and into a seat on the top turnbuckle. “Starting to realize you’re not ####ing invincible? Here, lemme shake your confidence a little more.” Cupping the blonde’s ears in both hands, Burlingame tugged Panny upright and stuffed her noggin under one arm. Then she slipped her arms under Pandora’s biceps and clasped her hands to complete the Double Underhook. Pandora’s hands started to flail, an awkward ‘lemme go’ sort of gesture that was totally ignored by Sue, who pushed out of the corner as hard as she could. Head pointed down, toes pointed up, Sue clamped a loose Scissors against Pandora’s temples, swung around in a smooth circle and dropped to her knees to THAWHUNK the champ down flat on her face and chest. 

BURLINGAMEBREAKER

The Burlingamebreaker shook the ring and the fans shook the rafters, several of the brunette’s supporters starting to go hoarse when their heroine rolled Panny over and hooked a leg for the… 

ONE… 
TWO… 

Pandora kicked out just after ‘TWO’ which would’ve annoyed the Bankable Bombshell to no end if she’d been hurled aside again. Instead the big blonde shot a shoulder off the mat, “Just like everyone else,” Sue said with a hard smile, “yeah baby, you’re not unbeatable, you’ve just got thicker armor than everyone else.” Pandora just groaned and rolled onto her stomach before pushing to one knee. Susan knew she’d be upright sooner than later, so she rounded on her heel and for the ropes directly ahead of the champ. Returning far faster than she departed, Burlingame somersaulted over her doubled over foe and hooked her chin as she passed. The Chinlock was more than enough to wrench the Beach Brawler off her feet, the THWHAM of her landing shaking the ring for the second time in as many minutes. 

SOMERSUALT NECKBREAKER

Pandora hit hard but Burlingame didn’t go for a pin, there was still too much work to be done. On her feet well before the blonde could make hers, the heiress maintained a safe distance, then THWHACKED a spiteful Toe Kick into the bridge of Panny’s nose. That rocked the DC’er back on her heels, so Sue pivoted on one heel and THWHUMPED the other directly into that exposed navel. It wasn’t fancy but it did the job, Pandora doubling over in gut-shot agony for the first time in her FAWN tenure. “Keep giving me your head big girl and one of these times I won‘t give it back.” Sue was off to the other woman’s left and already backing toward the ropes. Breaking into a nimble sprint the instant she turned around, the heiress ‘twanged’ off the ropes, raced back and caught the Titan’s head in her hands. Then she sprang up and flipped over, the former champ coming down on her butt in relative comfort while the current champ’s noggin was nearly twisted off her shoulders. 

CORKSCREW NECKBREAKER

“Tell me Panny,” Sue was on her knees, both fists raised high overhead, “is this on the canvas or in your head?!” She bwunk-bwunk-bwunk-BWUNKED her fists against the mat and was delighted to see Pandora groan in discomfort. “KEEP IT UP,” she roared to the fans, “I WANT THIS CHICK’S BRAINS LEAKING OUT HER EARS!” 

The FAWNatics obliged her with a thunderous chorus of claps and stomps that did nothing for Panny’s already aching skull. “Time to get big,” Sue buried a hand in the blonde’s hair and dragged her to her knees, “time you felt small.” Reeling Pandora into a Front Facelock, Burlingame slung the champ’s near arm across her shoulders and grabbed a handful of bright blue bottoms. Took a bit longer for Sue to get Panny back to her feet but once she did it went easily enough. Knees bent slightly, she gathered her reserves and popped her hips to hoist the heavier woman to high noon. She’d *just* got upright when the Bankable Bombshell dropped out, THWHONKING Pandora down on the crown of her skull. 

SNAP BRAINBUSTER

There wasn’t a lot of height or snap on the Brainbuster, but it still did a fine job of planting the blonde in the center of the squared circle. Sue twisted onto one knee and would’ve gone for the cover if Pandora hadn’t sat up a heartbeat before she would’ve stretched out. “All right Panny, you wanna get up, get up. Come on, get up. GET UP!” Burlingame stamped her feet and waved her arms, calling on the crowd for maximum noise. 

They did and so the brain-addled blonde remained ignorant of the challenger’s presence as she struggled to her feet. Lurking close on Pandora’s six, Sue waited until she was almost upright, then closed in and trapped her arms in a sweaty Full Nelson. The Tower of Terror groaned in real displeasure and actually managed a few steps toward the ropes before Susannah dug in her heels and took Pandora up, over and DOWN onto the back of her head with a Dragon Suplex. So stunned was he to see Pandora folded over in a Matchbook that it took the ref a moment to drop down and count off… 

DRAGON SUPLEX HOLD

ONE… 
TWO… 
THRNOOOO! 

Pandora kicked loose and flopped onto her side, sending the FAWNatics into frustrated howls of displeasure. Sue had been so CLOSE! 

Surprisingly, Sue herself felt no such frustration. She had the big bytch reeling and soon she was gonna knock her the #### down. But first… “Get up Panny, I wanna talk to you.” The heiress plunged her hands into Pandora’s hair and draaaaaaaaagged her to her knees. “I didn’t get to kiss my title goodbye before Kennedy and her first goon squad stole it, “she murmured, “so here’s to a kiss that’s two years in the making.” Sue tugged Pandora’s head back, brushed the hair off her face and leaned down to plant a long, possessive kiss on the blonde’s mouth. After almost ten seconds of near deafening noise from the crowd, Burlingame broke the kiss and stepped away. 

“Hmmh,” she wiped a little something off her bottom lip, “I’d hoped to taste blood. Next time I will” Sue exploded forward, raised her right knee and THWHUNKED it into the side of her opponent’s skull. Pandora sprawled onto her back and the Bankable Bombshell dropped across her chest where she cradled a leg and nodded along for the.. 

BILLION DOLLAR KNEELIFT

ONE… 
TWO… 
THRNOOOO! 

Susan slapped the mat angrily, turning a stern eye toward the referee while the jaw-jacked blonde rolled to her side, baby blues glazed. Panny gave her noggin a rattle to shake her senses back into place and it seemed to do the trick as she emerged from her daze with a noticeable and rare look of concern. Instead of facing the rampaging Burlingame head on, the champion butt scooted her way toward a corner. One hand helped in her locomotion, the other was pushed out in front, plaintively waving toward Susan, as the brunette walked her down. 

The FAWNatics’ roars were tempered by the sight of Pandora begging off, the crowd clearly taken aback by the remarkable sight. Burlingame, on the other hand, was energized. Not wanting Pandora to escape to the outside for some R&R, the challenger reached out for a handhold in Panny’s long flaxen locks. However, when she got close, Pandora’s right leg stabbed out and nailed Burlingame in the sweet spot. 

Susan’s face twisted in pain, a hint of anger visible for being asinine enough to not keep her guard up, or down as the case might have been. She slowly sank to her knees. A look of palpable relief washed over Panny and, with the corner close behind, she used the ropes to pull her way up. 

It only took an instant to get back in gear and she scurried toward the lithe brunette, leaping as she closed in. Going Crossbody, her midriff ROCKED the penitent Susan in the face, knocking the Bankable Bombshell on her ass with the Shining Tummy. The blonde barrel rolled through the attack and up to one knee. Surveying the damage, the bewildered brunette still stretched out beside her, Panny eschewed any playing to the crowd. She was in a fight today and that meant taking Burlingame out as quickly as possible. 

Pandora delivered several boots to Sue’s midsection then peeled the heeled brunette off the canvas. She whipped Burlingame to a distant corner, Susan sprinting into a chest-first collision with the buckles and dropping to horizontal in a wide spreadeagle. Pandora hurried in behind her flattened foe, hopped over the splayed Burlingame and landed with her boot soles on each of the bottom ropes. She quickly climbed to the middle ones, her palms clenched around the top set. There she bounced furiously, becoming a coiled spring that finally released. She flew back and spread out in a full body SPLASH of Susan, the crowd groaning as the SLAP of body against body echoed through the arena. 

PANNY BOMB

Pandora remained atop her squished challenger for... 

ONE… 
TWO… 
THRNOOOO! 

Panny scrambled off the sinewy battler and made a ninety degree turn with her curvy frame. She proceeded to hop to her feet and mini-splash tummy against tummy, one, two, three, four, five times, leaving Burlingame a gasping wreck with each Crossbody connection. Susan spasmed in a tawny ‘V’ following each “mini” impact. After the final one, Pandora hooked a leg and draws Burlingame into a tight cradle for ONE… TWO… THREE. Panny was sure it’s ‘THREE’. Susan’s shoulders remain glued to the canvas, her body rolled up in a tight ball and stacked upon them. The champ turned her baby blues to the official who’s already pointing at the ropes, Sue with a palm wrapped loosely around the bottom strand. 

“Only two, Pandora,” the man assured. “And give us a clean break.” 

The ref motioned to Susan’s hand with a shrug and Pandora let the brat roll out of her cradle, but from there Panny did a little grasping of her own. Fashioning one set of digits into a claw, the blonde powerhouse SANK them into the flat tanned midsection of the challenger drawing an immediate yelp of pain. Her abs roiling as Pandora delved deep with her talons, Susan shrieked insistently that she’s still got a clasp on the cable and the official told Panny the same. But the curvy beach bytch simply released the claw with every count of ’FOUR!’ and dug it right back in a second later to turn Susan’s guts inside out. 

Finally tiring of her game, Pandora released for good and popped to her feet. She gave a farewell stomp to her challenger and moved a couple strides away. Panny played to the upset FAWNatics, clapping at them when they try to get support rolling for the brunette with some rhythmic applause. After having sport with the idiots, the big blonde decided to do the same with Burlingame. With Sue on her feet, Panny grabbed a wrist and ripped her away from the cables. Swinging the sinewy Susan in a wide arc, the DCer let loose and the former World champ was sent rocketing into a corner with barely enough time to turn her back into the collision. 

Burlingame threw her arms over the top rope on either side, the brunette slumping into the buckles, the wear and tear of facing down the most fearsome force in FAWN starting to show. The Bankable Bombshell tried to keep Panny at a distance with a weak swipe but the champ walked right through the blow. Hopping up to the bottom rope, she gave Susan a crash course in Navel Gazing as Pandora maaaaasssshhhed Sue’s flawless features, rubbing her belly in violent swipes across Burlingame’s features in her own personalized tummy-centric version of a Stink Face. 

When Susan’s face was rosy and greasy, Pandora pulled away with a wide grin. She grabbed the brunette by the shoulder and threw her forward, Burlingame stumbling to hands and knees. Quickly behind was the most Dangerous Curve, leaping, her midriff landing on the back of Susan’s head and DRIVING it hard into the canvas. Panny rolled the splattered Burlingame to her back after the Tummy Tuck and climbed on in a lateral press, hooking a leg for... 

ONE… 
TWO… 
THRENOOOOOOOO! 

Susan apparently needed more than one Tummy Tuck as she again kicked out with a split-second to spare, but Pandora hardly seemed concerned. She scraped the flaccid Burlingame off the deck and slid in behind her, slipping her arms around those of Susan’s, ready to end this farce with a Greek Tragedy. 

But before Panny could get Susan into the air and end things for yet another Pay-Per-View, Sue straightened her arms to vertical and sat out, sliding down Panny’s frame. Susan’s tailbone got bruised, but she’s free and when Panny reached down to re-acquire, Burlingame showed her flexibility by sending one of her extended legs up in a kick that caught Pandora on the bridge of her nose. The curvy blonde staggered away cursing and checking on her proboscis, while Susan shook out an attic’s worth of cobwebs and struggled to her feet. 

“Bytch,” Pandora growled when her palm came away blood free, “you are ####ing done!” Rounding on the shiny-faced challenger, the Tower of Terror raised her arms out at her sides and roared, “COME ON, RICH GIRL! YOU WANT WHAT’S MINE? COME AND TAKE IT!” 

A short distance away, Susannah Burlingame flipped hair off her face and curled her hands into fists. “All right Sloppin’ Fresh. You want it? You got it.” 

Flanked by a thunderous wall of sound, the heiress stalked in, planted on her left heel and brought her right foot ‘whicking’ up and around to THWHUMP! Panny brought her arms together hard, letting them take the brunt of the Roundhouse before it could connect with her temple. Striking in the heartbeat Sue was off balance, Pandora drove a knee into her foe’s exposed midsection and yanked her into a Front Facelock. 

“DID YOU REALLY THINK THIS PIECE OF TRASH WAS GOING TO WIN?” she roared at the crowd. “SHE’S GOT NOTHING! JUST LIKE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU! THAT INCLUDES YOU, WEST! WATCH CLOSELY!” 

Dipping slightly, Pandora tossed Burlingame’s near arm across her shoulders, then reached down to grab a hold of-- Sue twisted out of the champ’s grasp so quickly and so violently that it spun both women around in tight little circles. They’d just turned to face one another again when the Bankable Bombshell leapt and caught Pandora’s noggin in a vise-like Three Quarters Facelock The Ace Crusher ripped Panny from her moorings and THWHAMMED her down flat on her face in the center of the ring. 

The crowd, still drawing in its collective breath for a resounding cheer, got that much louder when Burlingame immediately somersaulted onto her opponent’s back coiled her right arm around Pandora’s head. In the same instant she snatched the blonde’s left arm and threaded it over her left thigh, effectively getting it out of the way. Then she squatted down and CRAAAAAAAANKED backward to secure the Root of all Evil in the middle of the ring. 

ACE CRUSHER TO ROOT OF ALL EVIL

Caught in a trap the likes of which she’d never known, Pandora pressed her right hand against the canvas and pushed up, trying either to alleviate the pressure or unseat the tenacious whore on her back. Such was the noise and her own hurt that it took her several seconds to realize the ref was shouting at her. “Do you give, Panny? Just say the word and I’ll ring the bell!” 

“NO,” she couldn’t shake her head but she could still shriek with the best of them, “NO I DON’T ####ING GIVE! GET AWAY AND STOP ASKEEERRRGGGHHH YOU DIRTY BYTCH! STOP THAT!” 

Burlingame had reached down with her left hand and clamped a claw on the champ’s right breast. When she heard Pandora’s demand she simply squeezed harder, her knuckles showing white as she mauled the defenseless jugg. “You want me to stop, Panny? Give up.” Susan tried to convince the suffering blonde by narrowing her focus to Pandora’s nub 

“NO GODDAMN IT! THE TITLE’S MINE, YOU CAN’T BEAT ME!” The crippled colossus pulled her right hand from the mat and grabbed hold of Burlingame’s elbow, trying to make her release the Inverted Facelock. Alas this only allowed Sue to put that much more weight on Pandora’s back, which in turn bent her neck farther and all but glued her gulping tummy to that particular patch of canvas. 

“You can hold out all you want,” Sue panted, her voice little more than a ragged whisper, “but so will I. And I can hold out a lot longer than WHOA!” 

Howling in anguish and rage, Pandora slammed her right hand to the mat, pushed up and somehow managed to get a knee under her. “Yuuuu…. you’re not as safe,” Panny curled her left arm around the challenger’s right thigh, preparing for the piggyback ride that’d free her from this damned trap, “as you think you are rich girl. Hope you’re ready for one more taste of tummMMEEERRRRGGGGHHHH FAAAAAAAHHHK!” 

Susan shifted slightly, planted her right knee against the small of Pandora’s back and pressed down with everything she had left. The champion collapsed again, her curvy form bent into a tipped over ‘J’ by Burlingame’s insatiable grip. Abandoning the breast claw to double up on the Inverted Facelock, Sue looked up into the lights and screamed, “SUBMIT, BYTCH! DON’T MAKE ME BREAK YOUR NE--” 

Pandora slapped the mat, not just three times but over and over again, the Beach Brawler finally taken beyond her limits for the first time in almost twenty months. 

Gaze glued to the rafters, Burlingame didn’t realize what happened until the fans deafened the CLANG of the bell with their cheers. Even the Announcer had to struggle to be heard over their clamor. But heard he was and Sue burst into tears when he confirmed, “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR WINNER VIA SUBMISSION… AND THE NEEEEEEEEEEWWW FAWN WORLD CHAMPION, SUSANNAH BURLINGAME!” 

Susan released the hold, got to her feet and allowed the official to lay the belt across one shoulder. Her hand had not yet been raised when the cheers curled into the most vitriolic boos imaginable. The new Champion looked around and was somehow not surprised to see Emily West and her followers emerging from the crowd around all four sides of the ring. 

“Aww crap,” the ref muttered, “do you want me to hold that, Susan? You might need both hands free.” 

She shook her head ‘no’. “I just did the impossible to win this thing. No way am I giving it up so fast.” 

Outside the Black Court approached the squared circle and slowly mounted the apron. Candice and Lenore were on her right, Adrianna was behind, Ashley on the left and Emily herself dead center. The ref had been willing to hold his tongue as long as they stayed out, but when the quintet slipped through the ropes he stormed over to Emily and said, “Listen here West, I don’t know what your game is, but you better get out of here before WUUUUNNNGH!” Ashley Locke caught the black & white from behind and gave him the bum’s rush through the ropes without Emily saying so much as a word. 

“Thank you, Ashley, that was most welcome.” Then to the rest of the Court. “Come friends, stand beside me so we may better judge FAWN’s newest Champion.” Akeley, Lemarchand and Papadopoulos took up positions beside Locke and West, the five women arranged before Burlingame like a tribunal. Candice produced a microphone from the waistband of her jeans and handed it to Emily. 

After a moment’s consideration, the Malefic Mastermind began, “It would seem the great game has been kind to you, Susannah Burlingame. The last time you battled before a crowd of this size it ended with your face buried in the overrated haunches of a jabbering, leather-loving megalomaniac. Now, a scant five months later you stand in the center of this ring as conqueror of the heretofore unconquerable and only the fourth (fifth?) two time World Champion in the promotion’s history.” This got a loud cheer from the crowd, forcing Emily to pause. When it died down, she went on. “Given how poorly the last woman treated the office, we of the Black Court, we who act as the conscience of FAWN,” MASSIVE boos from the FAWNatics, which Emily patently ignored, “wish to know your intentions.” 

West tossed Sue the mic, who caught it one handed. “What do I intend? That’s easy, brainiac. I intend to be the fighting champion that FAWN deserves. I intend to turn back each and every challenger set before me. I intend to prove once and for all that I am THEE VERY BEST wrestler of my generation or any other!” She raised the belt high overhead and the crowd broke into a thunderous ‘SU-SAN!’ chant. “But first and foremost, I intend to do all these things…” The Bankable Bombshell dropped to one knee and it was like someone flipped the fans’ off switch, “…as a member of the Black Court.” 

Emily stepped forward and laid a hand on Susan’s shoulder. “Rise my friend. And add your strength to ours.” 

Sue did and even after she and the Black Queen shared a hug, the FAWNatics stayed curiously silent, they simply couldn’t process this level of betrayal, at least not yet. With West’s blessing, Susan introduced herself to the rest of the Court with hugs and handshakes (including a side by side title hoist with Adrianna that would grace FAWN’s front page the next morning) Emily strode over to Pandora and gently placed a boot against the back of her neck. Raising the mic she’d reclaimed from Susan, the Insidious Intellectual looked out at the stunned pawns and exclaimed, “I am become Life, the saver of worlds. Before you ask why, allow me to explain.” She raised an index finger and tapped it three times. 

I’m… so… smart. 

It was an image that remained with the viewers long after the March to War broadcast had faded to black. 

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But a truce to such vapourings! Did the man exist that had it in him to fret and go unhappy, feel pinioned, and a prisoner while, round the cliffs of England, now grey, now white, now red, danced and beckoned the English sea? For who, native to these coasts, would renounce, once having drawn on it, that heritage of vagrancy which has come down to him through the ages? Amphibian among the peoples, has he not learnt to adjust his balance to the sea's tumblings, his sight to its vast spaces?—so that into the English eye has, with time, come a look of remoteness: the sailor-look, which, from much scouring of horizons, seems to focus on near objects only with an effort.—And musing thus, Mahony believed he knew why, for all its smallness, on this little speck of an island rising green and crumbly from the waves, there should have bred a mighty race. It was not in spite of its size, but because of it. Just because the span of the land was so narrow, those whose blood ran high could shove off on the unruly element from their very doorsteps, and whether these looked north or south, faced sunrise or sunset: the deep-sea fishers, the great traffickers, the navigators and explorers, the fighting men of the deep. And with them, so it pleased him to think, no matter for what point they headed, they bore tidings of the mother-country, and of her struggles towards a finer liberty, a nicer justice, that should make of her sons true freemen; for her a difficult task because she lay isolate, shut off by barriers of foam, a prey to hoary traditions, and with no land-frontier across which seditious influences might slip; and yet for her most needful, seeing that the hearts of her people were restless, indomitable—had in them something of the unruliness of her seas. And just as these rovers carried out news of England, so, homing again, either for a breathing-space in the great tourney, or, old and feeble, to lay their bones in English earth, they brought back their quota of things seen, heard, felt on their Odyssey; a fruity crop of experience; so that even the chimney-dwellers in England came by a certain bigness of vision: through the eyes of son or brother they explored outlandish parts, were present at exotic happenings. And now, his thoughts turning inward, he asked himself whether even he, Richard Mahony, in his small way, was not carrying on the great tradition. Having fared forth in his youth, endured in exile, then heard and obeyed the home-call, did not he, too, return the richer for a goodly store of spiritual experience—his treasure-trove of life-wisdom—which might serve to guide others on their road, or go before them as a warning? And the idea grew, under his pondering. He saw his race as the guardian of a vast reserve fund of spiritual force, to which all alike contributed—; as each was free at will or at need to draw on it—a hoard, not of the things themselves, but of their ghostly sublimates: the quintessence of all achievement, all endeavour; of failure, suffering, joy and pain. And, if this image held, it would throw light on the obscure purpose of such a seemingly aimless life as his had been; a life ragged with broken ends. Only in this way, he must believe, had it been possible to distil the precious drop of oil that was his ultimate essence. Not ours to judge of the means, or in what our puny service should consist: why to one should fall the bugles and the glory—the dying in splendour for a great cause, or the living illustriously to noble issues—to another, a life that was one long blind stumble, with, for finish, an inglorious end. Faith bid us believe that, in the sight of the great Foreordainer, all service was equal. But this we could not know. The veil—a web of steel despite its tenuity—was lowered, and would not rise on the mystery until that day dawned towards which all our days had headed, for which no man had ever waited in vain. And then, pinched of nostril and marble-cold, earth's last little posy in our gripless hands, we should lie supine and—such was the irony of things—no longer greatly care to know.




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