The next day dawned with foreboding. The archaeologists gathered in the meal tent and ate their breakfast of bread and yoghurt. Nobody said much. They were all expecting the SS to barge into the tent, but when they came it was without much pomp and ceremony. As they gathered their materials for work a black car flying SS flags pulled up along side the site. Janice and Mel stood by their trench staring. Strangely they appeared both uncomfortable yet relaxed in each other's company.
The door to the passenger's side opened and a pair of booted calves emerged followed by black clad thighs and a jacketed torso. Sturmbannführer Gross relieved herself of the car and stood. She scanned the area with sharp brown eyes and focussed on John Mellard in the distance. She was just a little taller than Janice, but slighter, with finely chiselled features and a mane of blonde hair disguised in a bun. The only non Aryan feature about her was her brown eyes, which she used to advantage.
She strode confidently over to Mellard and introduced herself.
"Good morning Dr. Mellard." She said holding out a leather gloved hand
"Sturmbannführer Gross?" asked Mellard ignoring the proffered hand.
"I'm happy to finally meet you. I've read much of your work." Her English was perfect, with only a slight accent that Mellard could not place.
"I'm flattered." He said sarcastically.
"As you are aware, I have come to take over the excavation of this site." She began, peeling her gloves. "You and your team have worked well and are no longer essential to our greater purpose. However, I have managed to persuade Berlin that you will be of use to me. I understand you have a translator here, a Melinda Pappas?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"We do, but we have uncovered very few texts. She's currently excavating with Dr. Janice Covington." He said, using the archaeologist's title.
"Covington? Ah yes, I know the name. I believe her father sold us some material last year. Do you know what became of him?" she asked.
Mellard looked at her. He knew Janice's father was a dealer but had no idea he had dealt with the SS. "Ah, he's dead."
Gross shrugged, "Pity, he could have been useful." She dismissed the thought, "Please, will you introduce me to Melinda Pappas?"
Mellard frowned but lifted an arm to indicate the direction they should take towards the women's trench. "This way Sturmbannführer." he said.
Janice and Mel saw the two approaching from a distance. "Don't ya just love a woman in uniform?" asked Janice dripping sarcasm.
"Stop it, behave!" Mel jabbed her in the side. She turned to smile as the two figures approached.
"Janice, Mel, this is SS-Sturmbannführer Ursula Gross. Sturmbannführer, Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas." He indicated the women respectively.
Gross removed her hat and tucked it under one arm. She bowed slightly and clicked her heels to the women. "I'm pleased to meet you both, you in particular Melinda. I'll have need of a translator."
"I didn't realise they allowed women into the ranks of the SS." Janice said coldly eyeing the woman.
Gross smiled but it did not touch her eyes. "They made an exception for me Dr. Covington." She said, looking the archaeologist up and down, smiling. "I have many skills that are appreciated by the SS."
Janice felt her blood run cold at the look from the blonde haired woman, she threw a glance at Mel and notice she was rather pale.
"I'm sure you do. If you don't mind me asking, I believe you have a doctorate. What is it in?" Something was bothering Janice about the woman, but she couldn't figure it out, something familiar
"Of course, I have two, one in Classical Greek history and another in Classical archaeology. Both my dissertations dealt with aspects of Greek mythology but from different perspectives."
Janice frowned, the woman hardly looked old enough to have two PhD's under her belt. Why would you want two anyway? "Fascinating." She mumbled.
Gross turned her attention to Melinda, "The rest of the team arrives tomorrow, but in the mean time, I require you to go through the store and gather any manuscripts or pieces of parchment that have been preserved. You will translate them here."
"There arent many, and I usually study them af-" Mel began.
"You will study them when I tell you to study them!" shouted Gross, slapping her gloves in one hand for emphasis, there was an evil glare in her eye.
Mel gasped and took a half step back, "Oh my!"
"Dont you shout at her!" yelled Janice positioning her small form in front of the translator. She could see Gross trying to control herself. The muscles in her jaw worked spasmodically.
"Dr. Covington," she took a deep breath, "I am not talking to you, please do not interfere."
"It's alright Janice, I'll gather the material today. It shouldnt take long. I'll begin now if Sturmbannführer Gross will allow me to depart?" a cold menacing tone had come over Mel's words. It seemed as if her voice had dropped an octave.
Janice frowned at her, but Mel had risen to her full height and squared her shoulders, the perfect image of fury. Gross nodded stiffly at her. She strode menacingly past Gross, glancing down from her full height at the smaller woman. Gross ignored her, turning to Mellard.
"Do you have any weapons?" she asked. Mellard almost tripped over his tongue.
"Weapons?" he asked with dread.
"Yes, fire arms, are your people armed?"
Janice was shaking her head behind Gross. Mellard flicked his eyes to her briefly but knew it would be pointless to lie. "We have some weapons Sturmbannführer." He said.
"They will be confiscated for security purposes. You understand?"
"If you will excuse me, I shall leave you for a while. There are some things I must attend to. I shall return shortly to confiscate weapons. If you have any questions, please pose them to me then." With that, she returned her hat to her head and stalked towards her car.
Mellard let out a long breath as she left.
"Goddamn it, what a bitch! Je-sus anyone would think she's Goddamn Hitler for Christ's sake." Janice vented.
"Janice, calm down, there's nothing you can do, just leave it."
"Goddamn it, there is something I can do, she's not going to get my .44." she swore moving towards her tent.
"Janice!" Mellard pulled her back, grabbing her arm.
"Let go of me!"
"No Janice, look, dont do anything stupid, she's just looking for an excuse to cause trouble, dont give her one." Mellard said sternly.
Janice tore herself free and headed to the 'office' after Mel.
When she arrived Mel was pouring through the catalogue of finds. "Box three, small fragment of parchment." She mumbled as she wrote the location down. "Box five, several half pieces of parchment with inscription."
"Mel are you okay?" she asked, coming up along side the woman.
"Box six, complete parchment." She said.
"Obviously not hey?"
Mel sat back and took of her glasses and turned to face Janice. "No, I am not alright," she growled. "No-one has spoken to me like that since I was a little girl. I'll translate the damn texts for her, but I'll hate every second of it!" Mel swore. She rarely cursed, but when she did, she meant it.
"I know, I won't like excavating much for her either." She placed a hand on Mel's shoulder and Mel reached up to hold it. Janice sighed. "We can get through this you know."
Mel nodded. "I know Janice, but it doesnt mean I have to like it."
Janice smiled at her, "That's it Mel, hold that thought. I've gotta go and hide my gun and ammunition before she gets back." She took her hand back sadly and turned to leave the tent.
"Janice, dont do anything to get yourself killed on me y'hear?" said Mel with feeling.
"Hell Mel, I'm Janice Covington for Christ's sake!" she smiled, trying to hide her own fear before she left the tent. Mel took a deep breath, shaking her head and turned back to the catalogue. After about half an hour she had made a list of some twenty texts for translation. She began to remove them from storage.
Meanwhile, Janice was desperately trying to think of a place to hide her gun. She had it wrapped in it's holster with spare ammunition on the belt. It made quite a bulky package. Living in a tent did not necessarily facilitate easy hiding places. She eventually settled for tying a piece of twine to the gun belt and burying it shallowly under her bed with the twine protruding from the surface so she could grab it and pull the weapon free quickly if need be. She rubbed dirt from the floor into the string so it looked like an old discarded bit of garbage. The gun may not survive a thorough searching, but with any luck, the searching would not be thorough. This done, she returned to her trench. She received a long look from Mellard, but she shrugged it off in annoyance.
Her workmen had been sitting inactive for almost an hour and they were getting a little restless. Some of them sat playing a game of stones in the dirt, others were sleeping or talking.
"Okay," she said, trying to motivate them, "let's work!" She organised the majority of men to continue clearing the black deposit that had yielded the sword. The remainder worked on the north side, clearing exterior wall collapse. She sat and wrote notes while they dug. She realised she had to invent half of yesterday's entries so the Gross woman would not suspect anything odd. This was not difficult.
An hour before lunch, Sturmbannführer Gross reappeared with an armoured vehicle containing several SS soldiers from the enlisted ranks. They looked like boys.
"Great," muttered Janice, "anyone would have thought we were a damn threat, not a few archaeologists."
Gross spoke to Mellard briefly. He nodded, casting a worried glance at Janice across the site. She shrugged and continued working. With an order from Gross the soldiers dispersed through the tents, searching. After a while, the soldiers gathered in the open area in front of the tents, holding a variety of weapons, even a machete. Nobody approached Janice so she assumed her weapon was still safe. "SS my arse." She mumbled.
At the appearance of the soldiers her workmen almost panicked, but she managed to calm them, telling them that there was no danger. They trusted her and accepted the explanation. Doggedly they continued to remove deposit. Just before lunch, her attention was drawn to one workman sitting with his back to her. He had reached for a brush. She frowned, there was no need to use a brush on this deposit so she jumped into the trench to question him. Her eyes almost popped out of her head when she noticed the man had uncovered a complete amphora, and it was sealed!
"Why didn't you call me over?" she asked, angry at the man, but not letting it show. He looked at her guiltily.
"Surprise?" he asked.
"Yeah, surprise alright! Mel?" she began to call the woman over with the camera but realised she was in the 'office'. She instructed the man to clean the area while she went to get the camera herself. She returned and snapped off a few shots of the vessel before allowing the man to remove it. She carried it over to the 'office', but before she got halfway she was stopped by Gross.
"Where are you taking that?" she asked.
Janice gave her a withering look. "To the 'office' for cataloguing and storage." She said.
"I want it opened." Gross demanded.
"It needs to be opened in a controlled environment." Janice shot. She could not believe this woman held two PhD's.
"You will open it today, now! Come with me."
Janice bit back her retort and followed the Sturmbannführer to the 'office'. When they entered, Mel looked up from the fragment of parchment she had begun to work on shortly before. All around her lay other fragments on trays.
"Put it down over there." ordered Gross.
Janice complied but turned to the woman, "I am not one of your soldiers to order about and do your bidding. The only difference between you and me is that you wear that uniform!" she snarled.
Gross snorted, "I doubt that very much Dr. Covington. Melinda, I see you are working already, you work fast and are therefore a credit to this excavation." she said. Mel looked at her, schooling her face to blankness.
"Now, Dr. Covington, if you would open the vessel please?" she asked.
"I need some tools." Janice muttered. This was sacrilegious.
"Get what you need."
Janice rummaged around on the benches for a few moments, glancing at Mel occasionally. She finally settled for a probe and scalpel. She returned to the vessel.
"I wouldnt normally do it like this," she began, "but I dont have the lab, or the time, apparently "
"Just open it!"
"Okay, okay!" She took a deep breath and carefully began cracking the dried clay around the rim of the vessel. The sealing had long since fallen off. After a few minutes, she lay the vessel on its side to allow the loose material to fall to the bench. She righted it and continued working her way around. Eventually the rim was clear and a plug of dried clay fell from the opening. She laid it aside and moved to peer into the interior or the vessel but was pushed roughly aside by Gross. Mel was watching the incident out of the corner of her eye.
"Je-sus, calm down, it's only a pot!" Janice said annoyed.
"Give me the probe!" demanded Gross. Janice handed it over. The SS officer carefully prodded at something in the vessel before nodding in satisfaction. "Perfect." She said before reaching her hand in and removing a complete scroll. Janice's jaw dropped, Mel gasped.
Gross placed the scroll on a clean part of the table and proceeded to roll it out carefully. She smiled wickedly, "Melinda Pappas, you will translate this for me now."
"Ah, it will take a while." said Mel, licking her lips. She couldnt believe that the first real scroll they had recovered was in Nazi hands.
"I want the translation by this evening. I will check on you periodically." With that she exited the tent.
"Je-sus!" swore Janice. "Can you do it?" she asked.
"I can only try Janice." she replied. "Why don't you put it on a tray and bring it over here?" she asked.
Janice located a free tray and transferred the document. She carried it over to Mel's table and placed it where the translator had cleared a space. Mel smiled at Janice as she took a fresh piece of paper. She breathed deeply and glanced at the scroll.
"What do you think?" asked Janice.
"Give me a minute." She scanned the scroll quickly and sat back. "I think we have a problem." She said finally.
"This scroll talks about a sword, the Sword of Hephaestus." She frowned.
"But the Gross woman doesnt know we," she lowered her voice so Mel had to lean close to hear, "have it. It could be anywhere on the site, or anywhere else for that matter."
"True. What about the notes?"
"Taken care of."
"And the workmen?"
Janice smiled, "They hate the Nazis, they'll say nothing."
Mel sighed, "Okay, I suppose I can translate it." She said.
Janice nodded, "Lunch?" she invited but Mel shook her head.
"No time, I'll need every second to get this done by tonight."
"I'll bring you something." Janice said as she moved to leave. Mel turned back to the scroll.
"Janice, have I ever told you how much I love you?" she said quietly.
Janice Covington grinned, "No." she said as she strode out of the tent.
Mel shook her head, smiling, the woman was incorrigible. She set to work on the scroll.
Sturmbannführer Gross reappeared after lunch to check on Mel.
"Have you made much progress?" she asked.
Mel sat back in her chair, stretching, she had not moved for the last hour.
"It's in a complex dialect, but I can read it." she said, looking at her notes. "The syntax is a little convoluted, but the meaning is clear. This is what I have so far.
Evil that dwells in the sky, continually searching. Removed from earth for sins greater than any other. Immortality the burden, forever lost, always watching but never a part. For her, torture greater than Prometheus, to be saved only by one.
That's as far as I've got." She looked up. Gross had turned a sickly shade of pale, sweat glistened on her forehead.
"Are you alright?" asked Mel, not really concerned.
"Yes, keep working." Was all Gross managed to say before she stumbled from the tent. She stood outside, supporting herself on a pole. "It's here, so close, so close." she mumbled.
Janice was making her way to the 'office' with Mel's lunch when she saw the Gross woman stumble out and lean up against the side of the tent. The woman removed her hat to fan herself, then she reached up to undo her hair. She let it fall about her shoulders in a blonde wave. She looked up and stared at Janice, cold eyes boring into her. Janice almost dropped Me'ls lunch.
"Oh God!" she whispered, shaking her head trying to dislodge the image of the woman from her head. Suddenly she realised what was so familiar about the woman, those eyes, fine features and hair. She hadn't noticed it with her hair back, but now, it was all too clear. Callisto. Janice took a deep breath and walked to the tent entrance.
"What are you doing?" demanded Gross.
"I'm bringing Mel's lunch over here, as she does not have time to eat at the tent Sturmbannführer." she said, hoping the woman could not hear the waver in her voice. This was the woman who had sliced Gabrielle's throat open on numerous occasions in her dreams, now she was here, right in front of her.
"Be quick, there are some things I need to discuss with you." she said.
Janice nodded and bolted into the tent, merely happy to be out of the woman's gaze. Mel was bent over the scroll like her life depended on it, it probably did.
"Mel!" Janice whispered, getting the translator's attention. "Here, eat this." She placed the food on the table and dragged a seat over for herself. Mel began eating.
"Mel, she's Callisto!"
The translator almost choked.
"What?! That's impossible." She said wiping a hand over her mouth.
"No its not." Janice sat forward in her chair, leaning half on the bench. "Think about it, Ursula Gross, Big Bear, and if that fails, she's a damned Major in the SS! Et voila: Callisto." She said with a flourish.
Mel was shaking her head, "How can that be?"
"I don't know, all I know is what I see and what I feel. I see blonde hair, brown eyes, and an evil streak. I feel like my throat is about to be cut. My gut is telling me this is what we were waiting for Mel." She frowned, pulling a cigar from her breast pocket and lighting it.
"Well, if you're right, she's after the sword, to end it. Maybe that's not such a bad thing?"
"Somehow I don't think so Mel, there's more to it than that."
"Have you finished?" said a voice at the tent flap.
Janice and Mel jumped and glanced at each other. How much had she heard?
"Yeah, I was just having a smoke." Janice managed to cover up.
Gross grunted, "I must speak with you Dr. Covington. Melinda, keep working, you are doing well."
Janice rose and followed the Sturmbannführer out of the tent. She was heading for Janice's trench. One of the SS soldiers was walking along the side, holding Janice's holster and .44. Janice shivered but managed to keep walking along side the woman. She glanced at the weapon and licked her lips nervously.
Gross reached the trench just ahead of her and took the dirty holster from the soldier. She removed the revolver and examined it.
"Is this your weapon?" she asked turning to Janice.
"No." lied Janice blankly.
Gross backhanded her across the face so hard she almost spun around. Janice slowly straightened herself and spat blood from her mouth.
"That was not wise. I ask again, is this your weapon?"
"I say again, no!"
Another powerful backhand cracked against her jaw. The woman was strong for her size.
"You are very stupid Dr. Covington. If this is not your weapon, what was it doing buried under you bed?"
"Someone must of put it there." She worked her jaw, feeling it cautiously with her fingers.
Gross nodded thoughtfully. She turned the gun in her hands, "And if this is not your weapon Dr. Covington, who is J.C? Jesus Christ?" she asked sarcastically.
"Shit!" she'd forgotten about the initials carved by her father on the base of the butt.
"Let this be a warning to you. I will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. If anything like this happens again, I will not be so lenient. Am I understood?"
"Completely." Janice spat more blood at her feet.
Gross and the SS soldier left the side of the trench heading towards Mellard. Janice shook her head and jumped down in to trench. She could feel a bruise developing along the left side of her face. Several of the workmen came up to her. One of them offered her some water which she took, swilled some around her mouth and spat.
"Thanks." She said.
"She bad Miss Jan."
"Tell me about it." Janice said, patting the man on the shoulder. "C'mon, let's work." She managed a smile although it hurt. She moved to gather the camera in order to take some working shots of the excavation.
"Jesus!" she yelped, "Where's the film?" She turned to the workmen, "Film?" she asked, pointing at the camera.
"German." Came the reply.
"Oh God!" she couldn't believe she had been so idiotic. The goddamn film! It was the only thing she didnt think of, it had pictures of the sword, and now Gross had it. She had to tell Mellard. She motioned for the workmen to continue what they were doing as stalked over to Mellard's trench.
"Covington!" he said when he saw her. "I told you not to do anything stupid. I've spoken to Gross, she said she found your gun, and by the looks of it she's already found you."
Janice grimaced, "By the feel of it too Mellard, but we've got a bigger problem right now." She said. He looked at her questioningly.
"Gross has the film from my camera."
"So, she has everyone's."
Janice shook her head, "The film I was using to take photographs yesterday, in situ photographs." She hinted.
Horror dawned on Mellard's face, "I see."
Mellard still thought this was still about keeping a great object from the Nazis and Janice was not about to enlighten him further, the less people who knew about Callisto the better.
"I can't see that we can do anything about it "
"She's not going to get it Covington."
"How are you going to explain it Mellard?" Janice shot back
"We'll say one of the workmen stole it and local investigation is currently under way." He nodded.
"No way, you're not going to do that to the workmen, she'll kill whoever you accuse."
"And what do you think she'll do to us?"
"I don't know. You're safe, plead ignorance. It came from Mel's and my trench, we can deal with it. Don't worry Mellard, you can save your skin." She said with scorn.
"I cant allow you to do that!" he spluttered.
"Yes you can and you will. I'm telling you, don't concern yourself with it, Mel and I can handle it. I gotta go speak to Mel." She left Mellard staring after her.
"That's what it says Sturmbannführer, you can deny it all you like. You wanted a translation, I'm giving you one." Stated Mel matter of factly.
"Read it again." Gross sounded nervous, her eyes flicking about.
Mel sighed, she had been arguing with Gross about the translation of the next passage in the scroll for the last five minutes. It seemed Gross did not want to be believe her, but she had no reason to lie. 'If she is Callisto, there's reason for her to be nervous.' She thought.
"Alright, it says:
Sword of Hephaestus, of iron forged, blessed by Zeus, to kill the Bear. When the sky has fallen and one arises, make this choice, eternity or ceaseless death, they cannot be easily dealt. No self wielded wound shall strike the mark.
That's what it says, it hasn't changed since the last time I read it."
"What does the 'no self wielded wound' phrase mean exactly? "Gross asked.
Mel looked at her as if she was dense. "It means you can't kill yourself with the sword."
Both women turned to face the opening to the tent as Janice let her self in. She pulled up short, staring at Gross.
"I didn't know you were here," she said, "I'll come back later."
"Its alright Dr. Covington, there's nothing you can't say in my presence."
Janice smiled crookedly and stepped the rest of the way in to the tent.
"Oh my!" shouted Mel as soon as she saw Janice's face. The entire left side was purple. "What happened?" she asked bolting towards the archaeologist. She tried to examine the bruise but Janice pushed her aside with some difficulty.
"They found my gun Mel, that's all."
"And did this to you? Who was it? Was it one of those boy scouts? Why I'll-" Janice was looking at her with pleading eyes, begging her to stop.
"It was me Miss Pappas. I do not tolerate disobedience. Dr. Covington was treated accordingly." She moved to stand beside Melinda who rose to her full height, hoping to intimidate the woman. It wasn't working.
"Miss Pappas, do you know who I am? Do not try any silly games with me, they will not work I can assure you." She said coldly.
Mel nodded, "I know who you are alright, or at least I know what you are." She growled.
Gross laughed, "You idle insults are useless Miss Pappas, I find them quite amusing. If you will excuse me, I must return to Thessaloniki. I have some film to have developed." With a final laugh she swept out of the tent.
When Gross had gone Janice closed the tent flap. Mel was fussing about her again and this time she let the woman have her way.
"Okay, okay, you can have a look at it, but I dont think anything can be done, it's just a bruise."
"Just a bruise Janice Covington! Nothing that ever happens to you is 'just' anything. Why do you let these things happen?" she asked, trying to control the emotion in her voice.
"What? You think I asked her to hit me in the face, twice? Maybe once I can understand, but twice Mel, no, I'd never ask that." Janice was hurting and this was the only way she could cover it up.
"Twice? Oh Janice " Mel shook her head. She had to sit down other wise she'd fall down. She couldnt believe what that the woman she loved was capable of doing these things to herself. She sat in her chair with her head in her hands, letting the tears come and run silently down her face.
"Hey," said Janice softly, moving over to squat by Mel, she placed a hand on her knee. "Dont cry, its okay, really " she said lamely.
"Its not okay Janice." She was highly aware of the other woman's hand on her knee. It felt like it was burning right through her trousers. "Do you have any idea what you do to me when you go off and act crazy, getting yourself hurt?" she asked as she felt the hand move higher. She took a deep, calming breath. "Do you have any idea how much you mean to me Janice Covington?"
Janice turned so she was on her knees in front of Mel, "Show me." she said, looking at the translator with hooded eyes.
"I can't, not here!" said Mel desperately.
"Then let me." Janice whispered, moving her hand up over Janice's hip to her midriff where she undid two buttons on Mel's shirt. Slipping her hand inside she caressed the woman's warm skin.
"Oh my!" muttered Mel as she jerked at the touch. Instinctively she pushed herself forward on the chair. She was loosing herself so much in Janice's soft caress that she didn't notice Janice's other hand move up to undo the buttons of her fly until it was too late.
"Janice " she said, her breath catching in her throat. She grasped at the table edge for support. She felt like she was about to melt away all together in this woman's embrace. She was finding it increasingly hard to breath
Janice had her hand half inside Mel's trousers when the tent flap was flung open and a stunned Naomi stood gaping at the scene. Janice flew backwards and attempted to stand when she realised what was happening, although it ended in an awkward stumble. Mel shrieked and hastily began buttoning her shirt before standing on shaky legs.
"Naomi!" She gasped, "What are you doing here?"
"I I just came to get some things, this is the 'office' after all." She said, glancing back and forth between the two women. Janice had pulled out a cigar and began to smoke it casually as if nothing untoward had happened. Mel on the other hand was bright crimson and obviously flustered. "But dont worry, I can get them later. I didnt mean to interrupt anything."
"We were just working." Said Mel in a shaky voice.
"Uh-huh, and I'm Joan of Arc." She turned to leave but said over her shoulder, "By the way Mel, your fly's undone." Mel automatically glanced down and let out a loud groan when she realised the woman spoke true. Hastily she did the offending buttons up.
"Thanks." She muttered under her breath as Naomi exited the tent with a laugh.
"Oh God." Mel groaned as she sank back down in to her chair, mortified. "What are we going to do?"
Janice sighed and took a drag on her cigar. She ignored Mel's question. "Gross has the film from yesterday."
Mel tried to concentrate her thoughts. She was feeling very much out of sorts. "And she's just taken it to get developed." She said finally, smoothing her hands down her thighs.
Mel looked at her, "I dont think we should do anything, we just have to take what comes."
"That's what I thought. I told Mellard not to worry, that we'd deal." She winked, discarding her cigar.
"Probably for the best Janice." Mel said, unsure of what else to say. She had to look away or else she's get tangled in Janice's eyes forever.
"Yeah." She nodded. "How's the translation coming along?"
Mel shook her head, "I don't think Gross is very happy."
"What have you got so far?" asked Janice, leaning over Mel's shoulder to look at her notes.
"Well, the fact that Callisto dwelt in the sky and could be saved only by one, which I assume is the sword. She cant kill herself, someone has to do it for her-" she broke off. "Janice," she said breathlessly, "I can't think straight when you stand so close to me. Its like I can almost feel you, how can you stand it?"
"Weeks of practice sweetheart."
"Weeks?" she asked.
"Weeks." Said Janice softly into Mel's ear, grasping the lobe in her lips. Mel groaned as Janice sucked lightly on the soft flesh. The tilted her head back as Janice began moving her lips down the side of her neck. She could smell the faint odour of cigar smoke on Janice's breath.
"You're crazy." Mel whispered, unable to move.
"Uh-huh." Janice mumbled into Mel's throat. She wrapped her arms around the woman below her breasts and began to work her mouth over Mel's shoulder. Mel closed her eyes and reached up and undid the top buttons of her shirt so Janice could work her way along. She was surprised when Janice broke the contact and was shocked a second later to find that contact returned against her lips, softly at first, but then more demanding. It was intoxicating. Janice's hair brushed lightly on the bare skin of her shoulder. Mel opened her lips slightly and was rewarded with Janice's tongue. It played around her teeth and sought out Mel's own tongue deftly. Eventually Mel broke the kiss, in desperate need of oxygen.
"My God!" she said, gasping for breath, "What was that?"
"You didnt like it?"
"No! I mean yes, I liked it." She grinned stupidly, "But we've got to stop this Janice," she tried to be rational all the while her body was telling her throw logic to the wind. "Naomi is one thing, but what if it was Gross? How would we deal with that?"
Janice nodded, "Your right of course." She said straightening up with a sigh. "How do I manage to get myself into things like this?" she asked.
"Because you're Janice Covington and you wouldn't have it any other way."
Janice managed a smile, "So tell me about the rest of the text. I'll just stand over here." She took a few steps away from Mel. Mel returned the smile and turned to her notes, pushing distracting thoughts to the back of her mind.
"She can't kill herself with the sword. It also talks about the sky falling, which I suppose is the disappearance of Ursa Major, then 'one will rise', a choice must be made between eternity or ceaseless death. I'm not sure what that means, or who has to make the choice. Perhaps it will become more clear when I've translated the complete text." She said, removing her glasses and glancing across at Janice. "Whatever it is, she's being punished for something dreadful. Her punishment is immortality. Someone has to make a decision whether or not she has won the right of death after two and a half thousand years." she finished.
"We know from the Xena Scrolls that Callisto was considered evil incarnate." Janice managed a soft laugh, "And she's now running around in the SS bashing people in the face. Guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks." She said, fingering her jaw.
Mel nodded. "Let me finish translating the scroll, there may be something in here to help us." She said, lightly tapping the document with her pen.
"Right, I'll let you get on with it. Oh and Mel?" Janice asked as she made her way to the entrance. "Your fly's undone." Mel instinctively glanced down, but all the buttons were done up. She glared at the archaeologist.
"Gotcha!" Janice said as she strode from the tent.
Mel shook her head, smiling. She put her glasses back on, blew out a breath and turned back to the scroll.
The rest of the afternoon passed without much concern. The workmen finished for the day, packed up and left. Janice sat around in her tent, smoking cigars and trying to think of a way to deal with Gross. The SS had left guards at the site and no-one much cared to wander about under their gaze. Mel sat studiously in the 'office' translating away. Sturmbannführer Gross did not return until later that evening. When she did, she headed straight for the 'office' and Mel.
"Have you finished the translation?" she asked as she stormed through the flap.
Mel did not look up. "I'm on the last passage. If you wait a few minutes, I'll have it for you." Was all she said.
"Good." Gross occupied herself by wandering around the 'office' looking at various objects, picking things up occasionally to examine them. It was then she came across the strange piece of twisted, corroded metal. "Where was this found?" she asked, picking up the object, almost caressing it.
Mel looked around and frowned. "I believe it came out this morning, Janice found it."
"Why was I not informed?" she demanded.
Mel shrugged. "It did not seem important."
"Do you know what this is? It's from my it's from some armour."
"Interesting." said Mel, noticing Gross' slip. She wondered where this was going.
"You have not recovered any skeletal remains from your trench?" she asked.
That was odd, "No, none at all. Why do you ask?"
"I was wondering if you found the body this belonged to?"
"Should we have? It could have been an armoury."
Gross appeared flustered. "Of course." she said, "Now, the translation?"
"I'll begin from the top?" asked Mel, Gross nodded in agreement. With a deep breath Mel began.
"Evil that dwells in the sky, continually searching. Removed from earth for sins greater than any other. Immortality the burden, forever lost, always watching but never a part. For her, torture greater than Prometheus, to be saved only by one.
Sword of Hephaestus, of iron forged, blessed by Zeus, to kill the Bear. When the sky has fallen and one arises, make this choice, eternity or ceaseless death, they cannot be easily dealt. No self wielded wound shall strike the mark.
Do not struggle, for there is one among you to whom this choice is destined. Guided by the hand of Lachesis, the apportioner of lots, Clotho will bind the thread tightly and Atropus deal what will be, to punish the transgression.
So being judged the path will lie open. Fear not the return of the Bear, when all is justly aligned, freedom will out-govern despair. Sword of Hephaestus, of iron forged, blessed by Zeus, to kill the Bear."
Mel looked up at Gross, "I take it the Bear is Callisto?" she asked wearily, looking for a response.
Gross was nodding, a far away look in her eye. If Mel did not know better, she would say it was wistful. "Freedom." she muttered.
"Freedom from what?"
"Life, immortality. We must find the sword!" Gross said, straightening.
"What makes you think it is here?" asked Mel, a little unsure how she should proceed.
"I know. I will return in the morning with my team and we will redouble our efforts in Covington's trench. That is where the sword lies Miss Pappas, and I intend to have it!" she swept out of the tent, leaving Mel alone. After a while she rose, gathered her translation and headed to Janice's tent.
Janice sat on her cot, reading Mel's translation. After a few minutes, she threw the thing down beside her. "So basically she gets what she goddamn wants."
Mel frowned at the language but shook her head. "I don't think so, see," she said pointing to a phrase, "It says that the Fates will 'punish the transgression'. Then it goes on to say that 'freedom will out-govern despair', but not in reference to Callisto -"
Janice cut her off, "But it still says 'to kill the Bear'. she said.
"Kill can mean a number of things, maybe it simply means not present. I don't know." she said, rubbing her eyes.
"Well, I guess we find out tomorrow hey?"
"Yes, we shall. I need to sleep. I'll see you tomorrow." Mel rose to leave but Janice put a hand on her arm.
"You could stay." she said simply.
Mel shook her head. "Both you and I know that would not be an incredibly sane thing to do Janice." She tried to pull her arm out of the woman's grasp.
"Why cant you just feel for Christ's sake?" Janice almost shouted.
Mel looked at her. "I am feeling, God knows I am, more than I've ever felt before, but we can't do this, not here, not now." She ended.
"Why the hell not?"
"You were the one warning me earlier and I wont allow you to hurt yourself Janice Covington." She bowed her head, "That's why not."
Janice stared at her, tears stinging her eyes. She told herself she would not cry, not in front of this woman, not about this. "Don't you think that's a decision I can make for myself?" she asked with feeling. "Go, I'll be fine."
"Thankyou." murmured Mel.
"For caring about yourself for a change." Mel smiled at Janice and kissed the palm of her hand lightly before leaving the tent.
"Goddammit!" swore Janice, kicking at the ground, before dissolving into tears on her cot.
Xena heard the insane cackle from behind before she had time to react. She spun, sword in hand, only to be confronted by Callisto dragging Gabrielle backward, knife to her throat.
"I'm back! Did you miss me?" asked Callisto with a wicked laugh. Gabrielle struggled against the warrior's vice-like grip, but it was useless.
"Xena " Gabrielle choked. She could not believe the woman was standing motionless.
"Don't worry Gabrielle. It doesnt matter." She said coldly, sheathing her sword.
"What do you mean it doesn't matter?" asked Callisto. Things were not going to plan.
"Why should it? She's just a bard. I can get another of those in most towns." Xena shrugged dismissively, "Besides, she's annoying, and she eats too much."
"Xena .what are you saying?" Gabrielle could not believe her ears. This was Xena? Talking about her?
"Go on Callisto, finish it, I know you can." She nodded towards the stricken bard.
Callisto looked confused, she shook her head violently. "You can't mean that! She means more to you than your own life! You're nothing without her!" she screamed.
"If you truly think that, then you're less than me." Xena smiled and turned her back. She heard Gabrielle screaming behind her and then all was silent. After several minutes she heard a scrabbling on the ground, and then a tentative voice, "Xena?" it asked.
Janice was awakened by rough hands on her shoulders hauling her out of bed.
"Hey!" she began to protest but a fist slammed in to her already bruised jaw. She was dragged out in to the cold light of dawn. She looked up and noticed Mel was already standing, slumped against one of the SS soldiers, blood running from her nose. She caught her gaze and a thin line of panic flashed between them. Janice mouthed the word 'sorry', but she was unsure whether Mel understood.
Two chairs had been brought out and set down by the side of the site. Janice was roughly pushed in to one and tied securely. He arms were twisted painfully behind the broad back of the chair and her ankles were secured to the legs. Mel followed soon after. She attempted to kick the soldier dragging her across the ground but received a swift back handed blow to the side of her face. 'I'm the one who puts myself in danger?' wondered Janice. Gross had obviously got the film back. The Sturmbannführer was currently a short distance away watching the scene. Various other members of Mellard's team were poking their heads out of tents. Gross was holding a black and white print in her hand, slapping it against her palm. Taking a deep breath she stalked over to Janice.
"Do you know what this is?" she asked coldly, shoving the print in Janice's face.
"Of course I do. It's a photograph." She said with sarcasm.
Gross nodded at a soldier who quickly backhanded Mel. Janice jumped. Mel spat blood, staring defiantly across at Janice.
"You will not be insolent, and you will answer my questions, or I will continue to beat your friend." She said.
Janice nodded, "It's a sword recovered from my trench the day before yesterday."
"Where is it now and why was it not shown to me directly?"
Janice glanced again at Mel.
"Do not look at her, look at me!"
Janice heard another blow slam into Mel followed by a groan. Janice's anger was boiling inside her.
"There was no need for that! I'm answering your damn questions!" she shouted.
Another blow. Janice shut up. She couldn't believe this was happening.
"Now, where is the sword and why was I not shown it directly?" she asked
Janice took a deep breath. "The sword is in the store." She did not elaborate, "It was not shown to you directly because we did not want such an important find sent to Berlin and never seen again." She finished.
"Where in the store, it has already been searched." Gross demanded.
"We buried it, behind the containers at the back. That's where you'll find it." Janice admitted.
Gross nodded for several soldiers to go back to the tent and recover the weapon. She walked over to Mel and raised her head with the tips of her fingers, staring in fascination at the blood stained features.
"Janice Covington has been very stupid to have allowed this occur to you Melinda Pappas. I trust this idiocy is not duplicated in you."
Mel looked at her out of one swelling eye. "She's not the stupid one Callisto."
Gross jumped back as if she had been struck with a burning brand. "What did you call me?" she asked, astonished.
Mel licked her lips and tasted blood. "I called you by name. That is who you are isnt it Callisto?" She tried to shrug but her bonds prevented much movement. "It wasn't difficult to figure out. Janice had it almost straight away. You could have thought of a less revealing name than Ursula Gross." She let her head fall back down to her chest.
"How dare you!" screamed Callisto as she snapped Mel's head back with a wicked blow. Janice yelled. Mel recovered slightly and stretched her neck.
"How old are you now? Two and a half thousand? Must say you're looking mighty fine for such a crone. Then again, you've spent most of that just hanging around."
Callisto brought her hand back to deliver another blow, but Mel continued talking in a low voice.
"Wouldnt do that if I were you. If you kill me, who'll kill you? Dont you want your 'freedom'?"
Janice glanced across at the two women, Callisto appeared to be shaking. Some of the SS soldiers were either backing off or moving to protect Callisto. Mel was sitting with as much calm dignity as her injuries would allow.
"How can you be of assistance to me? You're nothing!" Callisto growled, lowering her fist.
"Ah, but you forget. I'm the descendant of Xena. All you used her for was a weapon, but it never worked, did it? And Gabrielle, you once said Xena was nothing without her. Guess again, I'm here, and there's more of her in me than nothing ever was."
Callisto was speechless, her mouth worked but no sound issued. Suddenly the noise of running steps was heard behind and two of the SS soldiers sent to recover the sword were standing at attention at Callisto's side.
"We regret to inform you Sturmbannührer, but the sword is gone." One of then said, snapping a salute.
"WHAT?!" roared Callisto, striking the man across the face.
"The sword is not there." Ventured the other man, almost cowering.
Callisto spun back to Mel, rage shining in her eyes. "Where is it?" she demanded.
Mel gave her a confused look. "It was buried in the tent by myself, Janice and Mellard." She finished. He must have taken the sword, but where?
"Find Mellard," Callisto said, "and bring him to me."
John Mellard was hiding in his tent, listening to the goings on outside. He was an idiot, he should have run last night when he recovered the sword. He sat on his cot, cradling the sword in his arms, desperately trying to think what to do. His tent would be the first place the soldiers looked. Quickly the lifted the back flap of his tent and tried to slink away.
"Quick, there he goes!"
Mellard heard the shout no more than fifty feet behind him as he negotiated the steep slope of the gully running at the back of the tent line. He hazarded a glance toward the noise and saw three SS soldiers running after him. That glance saved his life for the first time. He tripped on the uneven ground and went down, a bullet whistling past his head. He had let go of the sword and it lay a short distance from him. Quickly he scrabbled to retrieve it and regain his footing. Jumping upright, he again dashed off in the direction of the tree line some hundred yards away. Unfortunately there was little cover on this mad dash and Mellard was forced to duck and weave continually in an attempt at evasive manoeuvres from the bullets that went flying passed. Eventually one caught him in the shoulder, he staggered, almost knocked off balance by the force of the shot. He lifted his free hand to the wound, it came back bloody. The arm that was hit was rapidly becoming numb as a fiery pain surged in his shoulder. Another bullet struck him in the lower back, sending him to his knees. He screamed but continued to crawl towards the trees. There was no way he was going to make it, he knew that. He could hear the soldiers rushing towards him as his life blood pounded in his ears and over the rough terrain. He lay there on his back, staring up at the sky as a face swam into his line of vision. With every ounce of strength he had left, he brought the Sword of Hephaestus to bare slicing into the side of the man standing over him. The man collapsed, the full weight of his body bearing down on the sword. The SS soldier slumped over Mellard, dead. He pushed the dead man off him and attempted to rise, using the sword as a support.
"Stay where you are!" came the shout from one of the other soldiers. Mellard laughed, coughing blood, ignoring him.
"I said stay where you are." The soldier repeated.
Mellard was halfway to standing when a bullet shattered his ribcage. Another entered his neck sending gouts of blood spraying into the surrounding earth. Still another bullet hit him in the guts, tearing his insides to pieces. He was dead before he hit the ground.
The sounds of gunfire sent the SS soldiers guarding Mel and Janice to reach for their weapons. Callisto spun and headed towards the sound at a trot. Mel glanced up behind her and saw her guard move to the side. This was the moment she had been waiting for. She had surreptitiously been working away at her bonds on a rusty nail protruding from the back of the chair. With a surge of strength she did not know she possessed, she broke the final threads of the rope and sat there, holding them behind her. Her legs were still a problem, but if the soldier would just come close enough
She waited for what seemed like an eternity before the man shifted slightly. She dropped her bonds and lunged sideways in her chair, toppling it over and tackling the man about the legs. He tried to twist and fire, but Mel was too quick. She pinned the man's gun hand down, bashing it on the ground until he released the weapon. Quickly she snatched up the Luger and sent a round into the soldier's temple. She twisted as best she could and shot the SS soldier who had been guarding Janice at almost point blank range as he was looming over her. She managed to extricate herself from the chair legs and run to untie Janice.
"Hey," she said, glancing around, the SS soldiers were making their way back from the tents, and Callisto was with them. "Let's get you out of this." She bent down behind Janice and swiftly untied her hands before moving to her legs. Janice just stared at her dumbfounded.
"C'mon Janice, we gotta move!" she said, hauling the archaeologist to her feet. Janice staggered upright and dashed to the fallen SS man who had been guarding her. She retrieved his pistol and headed straight for the trenches. Mel was right behind her, scanning the scene. Janice and Mel jumped in a trench and hunkered down by the section.
"Je-sus Mel, how'd you do that?" Janice asked, finally finding her voice.
"I dont know, I just did. Seemed like the right thing to do at the time." She shrugged.
Janice hazarded a glance over the side of the trench and ducked suddenly as a bullet thumped into the ground nearby, sending up a cloud of dirt.
"Jesus, we're trapped!" she shouted.
"Not if I can help it." Muttered Mel, "Cover me."
Janice sighed and lifted her hand above the edge of the trench and fired several unaimed bullets in the direction she thought Callisto and the others were coming from. Mel scooted around to the other side of the trench and eased herself out onto her stomach behind a spoil heap. Using this as cover, she fired several times into the on coming trio. One of the soldiers went down, he was holding the sword. The other soldier was firing wildly at the spoil heap.
"You idiot!" screamed Callisto at the soldier as she bent to pick up the sword. "Dont kill her, I need her you fool!" she said as she brought the sword about and decapitated the man. His head fell from his shoulders with a dull thud, his body followed him to the earth. All was silent apart from the occasional round coming from Janice.
"You can stop now!" yelled Mel over her shoulder. The firing ceased and a tentative Janice poked her head above the trench line to view the scene of massacre about her. She saw Mel climbing to her feet and an enraged Callisto seething over a decapitated man. Mel dropped the Luger to the ground and rose to her full height. Janice slowly pulled herself out of the trench and stumbled over to Mel.
Callisto was headed their way with the sword, with defiance she stood in front of the translator.
"So, you're the 'one' the scroll speaks of." She said.
"Apparently." Mel said coldly.
Callisto threw the sword down at her feet. Janice was simply staring back and forth between the women. She felt like she should be doing something, but could not think what.
"Pick it up." ordered Callisto.
"Since when has any of my line done anything you demand?" Mel sneered in a gravelly voice.
"Since now! Now pick it up!" Callisto had moved so swiftly that Mel did not have time to react. She had grabbed Janice by the throat and was pointing a gun under her jaw. Ironically it was Janice's own .44.
"Shit!" choked Janice, this time it was real. "Mel!" she pleaded, "Do something!" she tried to grab at the woman's arms but realised it was useless.
Slowly Mel bent to pick up the sword. Callisto relaxed slightly.
"You don't want to do this Callisto." Mel said evenly, fighting for calm amid the rage of emotions flooding through her. She had just killed three men, and now Janice was threatened.
"Yes I do, its the only thing I have ever wanted from one of 'your line', but Xena was too weak to comply. Maybe you'll do better." To emphasise her point she shoved the gun hard into the soft flesh under Janice's jaw-line. Janice let out a whimper of pain, wild eyes rolling in her head.
"Give me one good reason to kill you." Mel snarled.
Janice couldn't believe it 'Hello Goddamn it, I'm right here!' she thought desperately but unable to say a word.
"If you don't, your little friend's brains will be splattered all the way to Timbuktu, and I know how much she means to you, just like Gabrielle."
"You know nothing." Mel spat, leaning on the sword. "You've never cared for anything in your life, not even your family. You dont even care for yourself, only death, but it seems death does not care for you. What makes you think this sword will kill you?"
Mel could see the rage building behind immortal eyes. "You killed my family!" Callisto screamed.
"Xena killed your family, a long time ago, so long ago history barely remembers, and yet you carry this around with you. Why dont you just let it go?" she asked, glancing at Janice.
"I can't!" she screamed, "It's who I am. I dont have a stupid bard to drag around and make me real. I dont have anything, just pain, and I'm sick of it! Do it Melinda!" Callisto threw Janice aside. The archaeologist lay gasping for breath on the ground, hands to her throat.
Mel laughed, "Ah Callisto, take your 'freedom' then!" with that, she launched the Sword of Hephaestus like a spear towards the crazed woman. It struck her in the chest, running her through. For a moment nothing happened. Callisto staggered back, grasping the hilt of the sword protruding from her chest with both hands. She looked at Mel with stricken eyes before staggering slightly. She tried to pull the blade free, but it would not budge.
"What have you done?" she asked, blood bubbling to her mouth from shattered lungs.
"Your freedom Callisto." Said Mel, staring at the woman, she made a broad offering gesture with her arm.
Callisto screamed as the area surrounding the wound began to smoke. Black plumes rose from the swaying woman, billowing into the sky. Sparks erupted from her torso, small flames shot up, searing her clothing and burning her hair. Callisto dropped to her knees, still grasping the sword.
"Noooo " she cried as she was engulfed in flames. She could feel her being wax and wain within her burning shell. With every wisp of smoke that drifted skyward she was loosing herself. The last thing she heard before dissolving completely was Mel's words.
"Our freedom Callisto, ours."
Silently she screamed.
The charred corpse lurched sideways to the ground, breaking into several pieces. The Sword of Hephaestus fell free and shattered like glass on the ground. A thousand metal splinters lay glistening.
Mel sank to her knees, holding her head in her hands, the pain of her injuries finally reaching her.
"Oh God." She murmured, placing a hand over a throbbing eye. Janice had crawled up beside her and wrapped her arms about her protectively.
"Mel?' she whispered in a hoarse voice. She cleared her throat and tried again, this time it was a little better. "Mel? Are you alright?"
She nodded, she wasn't, but she would be. "I'm fine Janice Covington." She said, managing a crooked smile. She looked woefully at the fragmented sword. "Guess we've just got the notes now." she muttered under her breath.
Janice brushed Mel's fringe out of her eyes, but stopped when the woman flinched.
"I'm sorry." All the emotion of the morning was threatening to explode within her, but she schooled her face to sternness. "Do you have any idea what you do to me when you go off and act crazy, getting yourself hurt?" she asked, "Do you have any idea how much you mean to me Melinda Pappas?"
Mel chuckled softly as she heard her own words come back at her. "Janice Covington, why do I have a feeling that I'm going to find out?"
The rest of the team who had been hiding in their tents throughout the commotion had slowly filtered out. Some returned quickly to their perceived sanctuary. Naomi strode over to Janice and Mel as they were helping each other off the ground. She tried to smile, but she was obviously shaken by the surrounding scene. Coming up next to Mel she tried to help Janice support her.
"I'm okay!" protested Mel, shoving both the women away and standing on her own, albeit a little unsteadily.
"Melinda, you are not alright." Insisted Naomi. Mel had to lift her head back to see her through swollen eyes.
"I can't see, but I'm fine enough to walk."
Janice shrugged. "Let her have her way." she said. "Hang on, I'll be back in a minute." She walked over and retrieved her gun from beside the 'corpse' of Callisto. Shoving it into the back of her trousers she headed back to Mel.
"C'mon Naomi, we've gotta get her to lie down."
Naomi nodded. "Mellard is dead." she said blankly.
"We heard the gun fire and thought as much." was all Janice could manage.
"What happened?" asked Naomi as they struggled towards Janice's tent.
"Just an old score." murmured Mel.
Naomi let it go, not understanding. "You realise you cant stay here, the SS'll be after you. Five SS rankers and a Major have been killed.
"We know, dont worry, we'll meet up with the NDGU or something. We'll get out." Said Janice, "She just needs a little rest." She indicated Mel.
"I'm fine!" protested Mel again, but Janice and Naomi would have none of it.
Later that night Janice and Mel crouched in the woods awaiting their pickup, Archondia, one of the curator's from the museum. She was also a resistance fighter and specialised in protection of patriots.
Mel's wounds had been tended to and she looked a hell of a lot better than she did earlier in the day.
"Janice?" she asked, "Where are we going?"
Janice shook her head. She shifted the pack on her back slightly. "I dont know, I guess we'll have to hide out somewhere and we'll get out eventually." She paused, "How did you know about my last dream?"
"Where Callisto said Xena was nothing without Gabrielle." She explained.
"You dreamed that? I dont know. I thought it was real, almost like I remembered it." She paused, looking at her hands. "I killed three people you know."
"I know." Janice put her arm around her, "But you had to, they would have killed us. You had no choice Mel."
"Doesn't make it any easier Janice Covington." She paused, "How do you deal with it?"
Janice looked at her guiltily and shifted uncomfortably, "I I don't have to." She admitted softly.
Mel looked at her, frowning. "That's good, I'm glad." She fell silent.
"Mel," began Janice, unsure of how to continue. She reached out a hand and caressed the side of the translator's face briefly. "If you ever fear what you have done, just look up." She pointed to the darkened sky. Mel followed the line of her arm and smiled. Flickering in a black blanket, almost defiantly, was the Great Bear, Ursa Major.
Another Author's Note: Thank the Gods! I almost died, no, seriously, it was fun. I'm supposed to be writing a PhD for God's sake! Maybe this can count as a third. Yet it is amazing how much work you can accomplish on only a few hours of sleep zzzzzzzzz
Return to The Bard's Corner