Violent Content Warning: This story contains scenes of a violent nature.
Alternative Content Warning: This story also depicts a loving relationship between two women. This story is not for those under the age of eighteen.
Uber Warning: This story is an uber. The two characters are based off of the leading ladies of XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS.
Authors Notes: This is the fourth and final installment to my Panther series. All POSITIVE comments are welcome. Negatives I will simply ignore. Send your thoughts to email@example.com.
"Orie, get down!" I yelled. She was staring at the window that just shattered. Another rang out. I watched Orie fall. "ORIE!" I crawled over to her. My mom made her way over. Uncle Ryan grabbed his rifle and headed out of the kitchen.
"Let me see, Sweetie." Mom coaxed. She was holding her left forearm. I saw blood seeping through her fingers.
"Mom?" I asked worriedly as she removed Ories hand from her arm. We heard the boom of my uncles gun firing, then all fire ceased. "Its just a graze, Honey." Mom assured me. "See." I looked over and saw that it was a deep scratch. I handed my Mom another cloth to press against it.
"Orie." Uncle Ryan came in and knelt at her side. "Is she okay?"
"Yeah. Just a graze. Eric, go get the first aid kit out of the living room. I nodded and did it as quickly as I could. I ran back in and returned to her side, handing Uncle Ryan the kit.
"Who was it?" I asked.
"They looked like poachers to me. Maybe the ones you saw today. There were two of them. I scared them off. After placing a cleaner on Ories wound, Mom began to wrap it in gauze. Orie was angry, very angry. Her eyes tell all. They held barely contained rage.
As soon as the hands holding her in place released her, she leaped from the floor. Despite the tears flowing from her eyes, she moved out of the room. I knew she had to be in pain.
"Eric, get her to take these." Mom said.
"Neither of you leave the house." Mom called out. Great. Were stuck here. I walked into the living room. Orie was sitting in the middle of the floor. She rocked back and forth very slowly as she held her injured arm to her chest. I hated to use the analogy, but she was acting like a wounded animal. I guess in a way she is. I went to her and sat. "Bosa, so ke meecha?(Love, are you alright?)" I dont know why, but I automatically start talking to her in Pawaw. She seems to respond better to it when she is upset. Her head nodded very slowly as reached reached up and wiped a tear away.
"Kima (Hurt)." She cradled her hurt arm. My eyes teared up at the soft spoken word. My heart went out to my wife.
"Ne noma.(I know)." I caressed her shoulder. "Swallow these. They will take the hurt away." I placed the two pills in her hand. She looked at me and then swallowed them.
I felt something furry rub against my back. Balla walked around us and placed herself next to Orie. Ories face still held the anger. "Hasama, meecha?"
"Im okay, Love. Whats wrong?"
"Yoda justo(Ghost hunters)." I waited patiently for her to elaborate. "Ne ma, Mosa. Ne
ma ha wacha(I am the protector). Must protect my blood."
"Orie, I dont understand." Balla stood from the floor.
"Must stop the animal killers."
"Orie, listen to me. You cant stop those men. They have guns. Theyll hurt you again." My pleas werent being heard. She had already stood and went straight for the door.
"Orie. NO!" I yanked on her forearm to stop her. Then immediately regretted it. It was her hurt arm.
"Ohhh." she winced, grabbing her injury.
"Im sorry. Im so sorry."
"Hasama kima, Orie.(Treasured One hurt Orie)."
"Im sorry. I didnt mean to." She continued to stare at me with unbelieving eyes. "Ne bosa ke." She turned and left with Balla.
I knew she would be okay. If anyone can hide in plain sight, its Orie. Yet I couldnt let her go. I ran after her. Of course, shes already blended into the forest. I headed for the house, a path I know by heart now. The animals and noises do nothing to me now. Orie has given me a new understanding of the jungle. Even alone, I know I am safe. I feel horrible. I hurt Orie, by accident. From the look in her eyes, I dont think she knows that. "Orie." I yelled up before climbing the tree. I reached the top, but found it empty. Running to my backpack in the corner, I grab my lantern flashlight.
Changing course, I headed towards the warehouse. I had to stop Orie before she gets herself killed. Before I got very close, I hid. Men, more than before, are walking the perimeter. Switching off my light, I waited. I saw a huge army-like truck backing up to the side entrance. Several moments passed and I saw more men carrying caged animals and loading them into the truck.
I moved as quietly as I could, trying to get closer. The boss was writing something on a clipboard. "Make sure those monkeys get to the East Coast before tomorrow."
"Yes sir. What about the cats?"
"Theres a couple of zoos needing new animals. Well decide that later. Those damn Pawaw are everywhere. Just get those monkeys to New Jersey."
"Right." I cursed myself for not bringing my camera. Hopefully Uncle Ryan can get the investigators here soon.
I saw the opening and I went for it. One door was unguarded. I slipped quietly inside. As soon as I was in, I realized I was standing on some kind of catwalk. I knelt and crawled towards the edge. Looking down, I saw that the entire warehouse was filled with cages and crates, some empty, some full. I placed myself behind a large box. The boss came back inside, removing his hat and lighting another cigar. I instinctively stopped breathing for a moment. "Where in the hell is Danial?"
"He said he spotted a few snakes. Said he was going to catch them."
"Well he better get his ass back here. He knows I cant go this time."
"Whooooooo!" I man yelled excitedly as he ran in, scaring me half to death in the process. "I got that basterd! Yeah!"
"You got what idiot?" The boss asked annoyingly.
"That black cat I saw." Oh no.
"Yeah, damn thing just leaped out, tried to kill me." He smiled and laughed. "But I got the drop on him." He raised his hands, mimicking raising a rifle. "Pow."
"Let me see it, Stupid." He whistled and I watched as two men carried a small cage into view. It was Balla. My stomach fell into my feet.
"Balla." I whispered. She was lying down unconscious in the cage. I knew it was her. The boss motioned for them to drop the cage. They did, with a thud. He opened up the cage, stuck his hand in, pulling something out.
"A panthers worth a hundred for me. Right, Sir?" the gunman asked. Even
though I was far away, I could see the glare he gave his employee. He held up a cartridge.
"And just how the hell do you figure that?"
"Well....when you sell em."
"Mr...." Before he could say the name, the man interrupted.
"And just who the hell is going to buy a dead cat?!" I couldnt stop the gasp that followed.
"Dead?" he asked. "I used the red darts just like you said."
"Red darts are the poisoned ones. The blue are the tranks, Dumbass!"
"Im sorry, Sir."
"Get outta my sight." We both watched as the man walked away. I clenched my jaw in an effort to keep the tears from coming. My wife would be lost without Balla. I have to find her. "Put the cat in the truck. Get it outta here." I carefully made my way back to the door and quietly slipped out. So, these goons actually worked for someone else, but I dont care right now. Now, I have to find Orie.
"Hey!" My heart stopped. "Not you again." he said.
"Kill that bitch! Now!" I made a run for it. The shots rang out behind me, but it didnt take long to lose them this time.
I made my way back towards the tree house, the only place I knew to go. This time I watched for signs. I saw a trail that could only be Ories. She was heading towards the house also. I broke into a run to catch up with her. I heard a burst of thunder boom overhead. Then I felt the first few drops of rain. I was almost there, when it began to pour. By the time I made it to the bottom of the tree, I was soaked through. I climbed up the slick branches, almost slipping twice. As soon as I reached the top, I collapsed. My lungs were burning as I tried to catch my breath. I was startled when I felt a pair to hands touch me. "Hasama."
"Orie?" I turned over to face her from my position on the floor. I reached for her and she pulled me into her arms. "I was..." I just couldnt catch my breath.
"Shhhh." she soothed. "Dasca(Rest)." It seemed like a lifetime before I restored the air in my lungs.
"Balla?" I asked. Her face answered me. It was filled with sorrow. She moved away slightly.
"Killers." she said sadly. I noticed she was still gingerly holding her arm.
"Kima?" I asked. Orie nodded her answer.
" Ner kima. Fema kima. Chica kima.(Arm hurt. Inside hurt.)"
"Oh Orie. Im so sorry." I wiped my eyes. "This is all my fault."
"No." she said immediately. "Their fault. Not yours. Many Pawaw are angry with the animal killers. Some want war."
"What about you, Orie?"
"Want you." she said quietly.
"Are you going to fight them?"
"I must do this."
"Why, Love?" She made a fist and rubbed it over heart, the Pawaw sign of mourning.
"Took part of me...Must take it back." She must mean she wants revenge.
"Orie, Ballas dead. She cant come back....Let Uncle Ryan handle it."
"No, Pawaw blood is Pawaw matter. Not Figama." My mouth opened widely. That last word. I cant believe she said that to me! When her eyes met mine, she knew I understood. The realization hit her quickly.
"Figama?" I spat. "Ne bosa ke, Orie! Ke jama ni nono(You call me that)!" Her hands reached for me, but I moved back.
"Eric...." She again moved closer.
"No!" Figama is a harsh, cursing term....for Americans, whites....me. The hostiles still use it. I would liken it to being called a bitch or a whore on a personal level. On a grander scale, it was an insult to our entire culture.
"Dont you ever call me that." I said through my teeth. "Ke so American, Orie(You are American, Orie)."
"I am Mosa."
"Not to me....You are gamana." She tentatively gestured for me to take her hand. I could see the apology in her eyes before she said it.
"I am....ssss.." I waited patiently as she tried to form the word I was waiting on. "sorry?" I nodded.
Strange. Her speech was getting slow again. Her gestures more sharp. Maybe losing Balla shocked her more than I realized. She didnt sleep that night or eat the next morning. I awoke alone this morning. I heard faint drum chants, so I followed them. I saw the bushes come alive as several warriors stepped out and followed me, but made no attempt to stop me. I glanced back periodically to three men behind me. Suddenly we came upon a highly adorned man. "Coma ua ni(Bow to me)." he said sternly. Remembering my Pawaw position, I took a deep breath.
"Ne coma ua som chata(I bow to no chief). He cracked an arrogant smile. His warriors took a step further. "Ne ma ha hasama( I am the treasured one)." His smile faded into a surprised look. "Ana ua Mosa(Mate to Animal God)." I had a thought. His eyes widened.
"Ke(You)...." I pointed to him, then to the ground. "coma ua ni." He did and so did his warriors, but not for long. He spat on the ground. Uh oh. He took a knife out of his belt.
"Figama." This is not good. I started to back up, until I realized that the warriors were still behind me. They all had weapons too.
"Orie..help." I whispered. Praying to whatever gods she believes in, that she could hear me.
The strike came from behind and it was hard. It knocked me forward onto my stomach. "Ow." I whispered, reaching to the back of my head and feeling blood. Laughter from the chief rang in my ears. A foot took all the wind out of me with one kick. "Ohhh." I groaned. A hand at the back of my head, rubbed my face into the dirt. I couldnt breath like this and I couldnt move. Someones body weight held me in place. I coughed and sputtered from the loose dirt that made it into my mouth.
A deafening scream seemed to come from everywhere. "Ahhhhh!" I heard from above me. The weight was shifted off of me, letting me up for air. I forced my eyes open, spitting and coughing the dirt out of my mouth. I saw.....Balla! She was circling all of us, with a low constant growl coming from her. This couldnt be. I saw Balla lying in that cage. True, I didnt feel for a pulse, but the boss said she was dead. Maybe he was wrong. I knew it was her by the shade of yellow-green that her eyes are. You dont stare into the eyes of a female panther without remembering what those eyes looked like.
The natives were frozen with disbelief that this Mo(Animal), was protecting a non-Pawaw. Her eyes are ominous. It made my heart race, even though I know she is protecting me. Even this great chief was shaking. I stood while there attention was on the cat. "Ne ma Erica. Ana ua Mosa." I repeated. They looked back and forth between and the panther. One man was so shaken, he dropped to his knees apologizing. I had to smile. Balla screamed at the other warriors that started towards me menacingly.
I watched as Balla dropped her head and moved towards the man that had held my face in the dirt. Looking all the part of a cat as she stalked towards him as if she was going to charge. Then something so incredible happened, that I questioned my sanity. I watched Balla walk towards the man. Her body began to change! She morphed into...ORIE! My wife now stood in front of the man, who now was on his knees, bowing. My mouth hung open so far, I thought Id catch a bug or two. The cat was Orie! The words of the Gonman now made since. "Orie was made one with the panther. They are same."
Her eyes shot daggers at the bowing man. Ories breathing was so harsh as she tried to contain her anger, that I could hear it from where I was standing. "Re lam some yera fer(You will not touch her)." Orie said sternly. I heard the pathetic pleas for mercy, that was the mans reply. I chose that time to go and stand with my wife, looking down at the man. She started to draw her knife. My hand stopped her.
"Ranay(Please)." Her face softened slightly, not much but I could tell.
"MENA(Go)!" She screamed at the three, shoving the man at our feet to the ground. He scrambled to his feet and ran after his friends, who were already hauling ass.
Orie turned to me. Before I could ask her anything about what just happened she said, "I am sorry, Hasama." She got down on her knees and ducked her head, the Pawaw way of asking for forgiveness. I smiled at the fact that she did it. I reached my hand down and ran my fingers through her hair. Orie rubbed her cheek against my thigh with extreme care.
"I forgive you, Gamana." I saw the smile when I used our titles. I felt a kiss to the leg of my jeans, then to my hand as I brought it out of her hair. "Orie, how did you do that?" I asked, as I coaxed her to stand. The head gesture. "You...uh turned into a cat." I said lamely. She didnt answer. She just looked at me.
"I am Mosa." Well I guess I knew that already, but I just got slapped in the face with the fact that she was telling the truth. All this time I thought it was because she was so reclusive and had a pet panther. Before I could ask anything else, she took my hand and pulled me towards the direction she came from.
"Where are we going?"
"Taking home." I planted my feet and she stopped.
"The tree house is that way.....Right?" A beautiful smile spread across her face.
"Taking to river." she corrected, which meant Uncle Ryans.
"Why?" I asked. "Im not going to stay there, Orie."
"Ohhhh. Then lets go."
After relaying our story, minus the transformation part, Uncle Ryan said the authorities were on the way from Brasilia and to stay away from them. I actually had no problem with that. Orie removed her arm from around my waist, I seized it. "The wound. Where is it?" Uncle Ryan and Mom walked over and looked down at where she had been grazed by a bullet, yet there was no wound. When the three of us looked at her, she searched for the right word.
"Magic."Ooookkkaayy. Now my uncle probably thinks shes nuts.
"Well her father was a shaman." he shrugged.
"What?" I asked.
"Ories father was a Pawaw shaman. According to their beliefs, Orie is...protected from harm and if any shall come to her, her blood will heal all." I raised my eyebrows.
"You buy that?" I asked. He smiled.
"Eric, you know there are many things on this Earth that cant be explained. I have learned that whatever a tribe believes in, it has some basis of truth." The evidence was right in front of me. Ories arm didnt have a mark on it.
We decided to spend the night in camp. I found Orie in that same tree by the river, that she loved to climb. This time I decided to climb up with her. She looked down at me from her perch, reaching out a hand to pull me up safely next to her. She was looking out at the water, rustling over the rocks. "You alright?"
"Yes." she said without turning her head.
"I know how much Balla meant to you. Im sorry." She only nodded a response. I looked down and noticed the black lines now painted on her arms. She was in mourning, so to speak. "Ne bosa ke, Orie."
"Ne bosa ke." she returned, almost whispering.
"Is Balla...inside you?"
"Always has been inside."
"Can you change into her anytime you want?"
"Do not change into her. We are one." So whichever one is strongest at the time, is the
one you see, now that they share a body, not just a soul.....very strange.
"I understand." She turned her head and smiled at me, taking my hand.
"Eric." I heard my uncle call down from the ground. He startled me and Orie grabbed me to keep me from falling off the branch we were on. "I have something to talk to you about." We both made our way to the trunk and climbed down. Uncle Ryan was holding several sheets of paper. "They raided the warehouse."
"And?" I asked.
"They found several animals and a few empty cages."
"Whats going to happen?"
"The government will seize control over the building and all the men that were there at the time were arrested. Theyll be tried in Brasilia."
"So, its over."
"Its over...I told them that we didnt want to press charges. The animals alone will get them all plenty of jail time."
"Great." I smiled. "Is that what you wanted to tell us, Uncle Ryan."
"Actually....Orie?" She looked at him. "The animal killers they arrested, one of them was your father." Her head went to the side. I looked from her to Uncle Ryan.
"Which one?" I asked.
"Said he was about six one, smoked cigars."
"There was one that always looked like the one in charge. Thats Ories father?"
"Apparently so....He knows who you are." he said to Orie. "Do you want to see him?"
"No." she said immediately. "Shucan was father to me." My uncle nodded his understanding. He turned and left us.
"Are you sure, Love?"
"Yes." She took my hand and we followed my uncle back to the house. "Hasama, you are my family." I smiled at her happily. I have made up my mind that Im not going back to the states. All my family is here. I may one day go back for the stuff I left behind, but my place is here, with Orie. Now how many people can say theyre married to a god....and really mean it? It will take time for my wife to get over losing Balla. But as long as they are merged, she really hasnt lost her. This may have been the worst, hottest, and most action packed, but it has also been the best, summer of my life. I just hope I can live without television.
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