Alternative Content Warning: This story 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 first installment to my Panther series. All POSITIVE comments are welcome. Negatives I will simply ignore. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I cant believe my uncle is dragging me with him this summer to Brazil. All I wanted to do was....nothing this summer. Now Ill be stuck in some god forsaken jungle for three and a half months. My mom has been at the base camp for a year now. I was cursed into a family of biologists and naturalists. Im being haled off to the great Brazilian rain forest. I roll my eyes at the thought. "Erica, get your feet off the chair." my uncle scolds. "I swear."
"Of lets not have that." I mumble under my breath. I sigh and put my headphones on my ears. Great, Im gonna turn twenty-two in the jungle. Whoopi. My uncle watches me with glee as my head bobs slightly to the rock beat blaring out of my Walkman.
Just as I closed my eyes, a jolt threw me completely out of my seat. "Ahhh." I yelled as another jolt threw me back against my now empty seat. "Whats going on?"
"Turbulence I guess." he said louder than necessary. He moved toward the front of our small plane. I braced myself as the plane angled sharply down, sending me careening down the aisle into the wall. My heart beat wildly as I realized we were going straight down. I heard a huge roar before everything went black.
I awoke blinking against the rays of the sun. "Uncle Ryan." I moan as I try to move, but cant. I use my elbows to prop myself up. My legs are caught underneath a piece of.....tree. I look around to find that I was outside, surrounded by forest. I look around, but see no wreckage of the plane. I do see pieces of metal randomly scattered on the ground. I try to move my right leg and free it. I free my left leg without much trouble, neither are broken. I stand shakily and dust myself off. "Uncle Ryan." I call, louder this time. The only sounds I hear are insects. "Wheres the plane?" I ask myself. I look towards the sun. I notice that its late afternoon. It was ten last night when we crashed. I had been unconscious for most of the day.
I began to walk south to see if I could see exactly where I was. We had another hundred miles to go before we would have reached my mother. So I know I was way off from where I should be. I tried not to think about all of the dangerous wildlife that lurk here. I knew I had to find a safe place to bed down. Im gonna be here for awhile. I found a small rock formation that I could sit under. It was just big enough for me to sit underneath without being rained on if the weather changed.
I shook and shivered through the night even though it wasnt very chilly. As soon as the sun came up again, I headed in the same direction I started in. I had to come across something eventually. "Yeah headhunters, giant anaconda maybe." I joked. Whether or not I liked it, my moms and uncles knowledge of nature has rubbed off on me. I detected a change in the air. I turned my nose to the scent. My eyes rested on an animal. My eyes grew wide as the jaguar stared at me with deadly eyes. I stood still, trying to look harmless. It jumped down from its perch and charged. "Oh shit." I took off in a full run for the hill ahead. Something told me to run for that hill. I heard the cat on my heels, literally. I was a mere four inches ahead. Suddenly I heard a terrifying cry. Then I realized the cat was no longer chasing me. I stopped and turned around. If I didnt see it with my own eyes, I wouldnt believe it. A panther was tearing the smaller cat to shreds as they fought. Poor thing didnt have a chance. Neither did I. I knew a stroke of luck when I saw it. I once again ran for the hill. I ran up and down the other side.
I smiled as I saw a small waterfall emptying into a small lagoon. "Water." I cautiously approached the edge. The canopy above casted a dark shade over the water. Seeing no danger I squatted, filled my hand with water and sipped. I looked at my reflection. Two days in a rain forest and I already look like shit. My blond hair now has a muddy tint to it. I dunked my head in just long enough to wet my hair. "Oh that feels good." I whispered. The heat was terrible here. Almost immediately after waking up, I had removed my blue flannel shirt and tied it around my waist. My NIKEs were now covered in dirt too.
I surveyed the lagoon. I had to find a place near it to think and have water within reach, but I couldnt stay here. Every animal within miles probably drinks here. I looked over and saw an enormous snake slide into the water. I stepped away from the edge. It was a boa constrictor. I headed to the other side of the water and began walking again. I saw a family of chimpanzees swinging in some nearby trees. "How did Jane Goodall do this?" A shriek came from one of the chimps. I knew it was a danger call. The panther was behind me! I took a deep calming breath. I continued to walk, refusing to stop. The panther increased its pace, but did not charge me. It was doing much worse. It was stalking its prey, me. After seeing the fight with the jaguar, I really didnt want to stick around. I muscled up all my energy and ran for it. I turned to see if it was still behind me. It was running, but it wasnt trying to catch me. It just...followed me. It didnt take long for me to tire out and stop. I collapsed from exhaustion, trying to catch my breath. I lifted my head. It was gone.
Now I was lost. Not that I wasnt before, but I had no idea where the water hole was. I decided to once again start a trek in one direction. My stomach rumbled. I was going to get sick soon if I didnt eat something. I came across nothing I knew I could eat. I saw numerous plants and berries, but they were poisonous. I had to stop twice because I came across snakes. There was no way I could survive if I was bitten by one. I guess its normal to feel like your being watched in the jungle, but I did feel it. It was probably that giant black cat.
My feet as well as my head began to ache. To the touch, I felt hot. "I cant get sick. I wont get sick." I said to myself. Soon I had to stop. I just couldnt go on. Now the tears were starting to come. I was here....alone...My uncle is dead....My mom is a thousand miles away. Im gonna die here. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. The crying is not helping my fever any. I heard the sound of branches cracking. I looked up. "Ahhhhh!" I scrambled to my feet. A woman had stepped out from behind a tree and was heading towards me. A spear was in her hand. She had stopped her advance when I screamed. Her face contorted in compassion as she saw I was crying. I suddenly realized she was white, not a native of the region. I took her in from head to toe. Her clothing was some kind of skin. It was almost Native American in appearance with the pants and the oversized shirt. The red breech cloth was consistent of the tribes in this area, and to think I hated when my folks drove facts like that into my brain. Im glad they did. No shoes, but well groomed. She didnt give off a wild woman look at all. She looked at her weapon and then placed it on the ground, then standing to her full height. Long black hair that went past her shoulders.
I backed myself up against a tree. I was scared and she knew it. She took small steps towards me. There was a crude knife at her side. She now stood in front of me. Her hand reached up and touched my face. She looked at me with amazement. She wiped the tears that fell on her fingers. Her facial expressions seemed animal like in nature. "Ummmm." She jumped back as she heard my voice. She cocked her head to the side. I racked my brain for possible dialects she might speak. "Kia?" No response. "Likima." No response. She just looked at me. The panther suddenly appeared next to her. "Ahhhh!". She grasped me gently as I started to move.
"Mmmm." She shook her head no. She reached down and stroked the animals head. I sighed in relief.
Communication seemed to be in order. I needed to find out what she language she spoke. I placed my hand on my chest. "Mika....Erica." I pointed to her. "Mika?" She didnt understand it would seem. I repeated it.
"I do...not...understand." I mentally slapped my forehead. Her speech was slow and pronounced strangely, but she spoke English.
"My name is Erica."
"Erica." she repeated, placing a hand on my chest.
"Yes." I smiled. She smiled. She placed a hand on her chest.
"Orie." She placed her hand on top of the panthers head. "Balla." We both heard the noise as something was coming towards us. She took my hand, picked up her weapon, and pulled me with her.
We ended up at a crude tree house, rather more of a platform in the trees with a roof. She helped me climb up and we sat. There were leaves that were very soft to the touch, lining the nest. "Orie." She turned and looked at me. I smiled confirming my analysis of her name. Orie means Eyes of Water in Pawaw. Her eyes were blue. I needed to find out how she got here. "Are you Pawaw?" She shook her head no. "What are you?"
"Orie." she answered.
"No, I mean. Who are...your people?"
"Not people. Mosa."
"Mosa. Animal god?" She nodded. "I dont understand."
"Worshipped? Your worshipped by the Pawaw?"
"I am difff...different." She was not sure that she was pronouncing her words correctly.
"Gall says I must be Mosa." She cocks her head again. "You are different too." Balla distracts me for a moment as she bounds up the tree and sits down near us.
"Have you lived here long?" I gestured to our surroundings.
The sun was beginning to set. Orie handed me something similar to a banana. I ate it quickly, inhaling it. She smiled and handed me two more. As I ate those, Orie pulled a woven blanket over to the leaves. It was definitely a Powaw design. She moved the leaves around to make a better mattress. She motioned for me to join her and I did. The leaves were surprising supporting. My bed back home wasnt as comfortable as this. The warm body next to me didnt hurt either. I was lulled to sleep by the close presence of this woman and the sounds of night in the jungle.
I woke up alone. Orie was gone, but Balla was lying several feet away. "So." I stretched. "Your Ories pet huh?" The animal simply yawned. I sat and contemplated the turn of events. The Pawaw are a well known tribe. They trade with hunters and trappers. They also welcome outsiders. If Orie can take me to the nearest village, Im sure they can help me get home. It was a stroke of pure luck that Orie is connected to that particular tribe. The only tribe I cared to hear about. My uncle is the only one to know the truth of why that is. My Uncle Ryan and Aunt Tameron always said the Pawaw were a very friendly tribe. Its ideals on beauty and sexuality were unique to other rain forest tribes. It was the only tribe known that practices a free love way of thinking. Homosexuality is common factor among their beliefs. Even though very few actually are, they do not shun the act. I have accepted my sexuality. In fact the girl Im dating now wont like the fact Im stuck in the middle of the jungle with a beautiful woman.
Orie climbed into view. I half expected her to swing in on a vine. Boy, I watch too much T.V. "Mango." She says as she swings a bag off her shoulder filled with the fruit. As we began to eat our breakfast, I broached the subject of the Pawaw. "Orie, can you take me to the Pawaw?" She wipes her face with her hand.
"I want to go home."
"Home?" she asks.
"Home is uhhh...where you stay, live."
"Home." she points to the floor we are sitting on.
"No, home for you." I point. "Not for me."
"Erica can stay." I smile.
"Thank you, Orie. I cant. I must go to my family."
"You like me. Mosa. No family."
"Orie, I am not a god. I must go."
"Why?" I took a calming breath.
"Orie, will you take me to the Pawaw?"
"Yes." she says quietly, almost sadly.
Orie didnt say much to me as her and Balla escorted me through the forest. Orie certainly knew the jungle well. We stopped at a water hole and rested. I could tell by the markings on the trees we werent far from the village. This was probably their source of water. As I reached out for another drink, Orie playfully splashed water into my face from beside me. I splashed her back with a smile. Her face was stunning when she smiled. I saw the glint in her eye. It was loving. A grin remained on her face as she reached out and carassed my jaw, near my chin. When her fingers brushed my lips, I kissed them. As her hand continued to move, I kissed her palm, her knuckles, then the back of her hand. Why was this woman hidden away in this forest?
My smile faded as I caught sight of two men wearing nothing but a red wrap. They were Pawaw warriors. When Orie saw the change in my expression, she turned and stood. The men immediately dropped to their knees and bowed their heads. She wasnt kidding, they do worship her. I knew most of the Pawaw language. The men repeated, Great one over and over. Until Orie spoke. "Coka(Rise.) De Gall ne ma towa. (Tell Gall I am coming.)" she gestured with her spear. They nodded and headed away. She took my hand and followed behind the men.
The forest opened up to huts. Looks like I just stepped into a nature special on the Discovery Channel. There were women and children doing tasks and chores. All stopped and bowed as Orie moved through them. We stopped in front of a man wearing a lot of adornments. He too bowed. "Gall, hod ke token ua fam ah yoda justo?(Gall, have you spoken to any of the ghost hunters?)"
"Re, ne hod.(Yes, I have.)"
"Noe so sas?(Where are they?)" He pointed.
"Ha geffa doma, Mosa.(The red cliffs, Animal God)" Orie slapped her thigh. Balla fell in step next to her as she guided me away from the chief and out to the borders of the village. She stopped long enough to take a blanket from an older woman who held it out for her. It was probably a gift. She stopped and draped the blanket around my shoulders.
"Coma ua na bosa!(Bow to my friend!)" She yelled at a man that was eyeing me. Everyone went down instantly, including the man.
We sat on the edge of the huts and listened to the drums and chants as the Pawaw danced. Women would periodically approach us with fruit, bread, meat, or water. Orie would not say a word. She offered it to me before she took her share. Soon all the women were giving me the food. Some mumbled, "Hasama." Treasured One. They must think Im a god too. Well might as well play along. It will help me get home.
When the sun came up, we were still lying on the edge of the village. A call went out through the village. "We must go." Orie helped me to my feet and we walked back into the village. They were several men in safari type garb. They took one look at me and asked, "Are you Erica?"
"Yeah, howd you know that?"
"Your uncle sent out search parties looking for you." The man smiled down at me.
"My uncle? Hes alive?"
"Yes. He has a broken wrist, but hes okay. He said he couldnt find you near the wreckage, so he knew you must be alive. How in the world did you get to this village?"
"Orie." I turned to her. She continued to stare at them.
"Thank you, Orie." he bowed. "If we hurry we can meet your uncle in the port by dark."
"Okay. Give me a minute." We watched as the man moved away. I noticed his jacket bore the symbol of the university my mother and uncle work for.
I didnt know how to start to thank Orie for saving me. "Orie, if it werent for you Id be hopelessly lost or dead." My eyes started to pool. She clamped a hand on my mouth.
"No tears." she whispered. "Go...home." she smiled. The tears came anyway. I reached out an enveloped her. She hugged me back with equal force.
"Goodbye, Orie. Thank you." To my surprise when I let her go, there was a wetness in her eyes too. I released her hand. "Bye Balla." I turned and walked towards the men. They placed a jacket around my shoulders. I turned back to wave goodbye and both of them were gone.
We walked about two miles until we got to three jeeps. I was happy to arrive in the town of Pa Towan. It was our destination by plane. "ERICA!" I saw my uncle running to me with a smile.
"Uncle Ryan." He picked me up in a fierce hug.
"Oh sweetie. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, youll never believe what happened."
I was glad to be in a warm bed and in a building. I dont think Uncle Ryan believed everything I told him. "Uncle Ryan," I had to know more. "Tell me about the Pawaw."
"What do ya wanna know?"
"Whats their word for love?"
"Oh you know that." he chuckled. I did, but I liked how I asked him one thing and he would break out into an entire lecture. "The word is Ramas, but sometimes its Bosa."
"Bosa means friend." I said.
"Yeah, but friend and love are one in the same sometimes." "Bow to my friend!"
"Yep. Some of the ways they show love are a lot like our customs. Kissing, hugging, making love." I smile at him as he continues. "You know sometimes its all in a gesture. Bringing food for your mate, doing their chores, or letting them eat first or...."
"Wait. What you did you say?"
"Doing their chores?"
"No, about letting them eat first."
"Oh yeah. Kind of cool actually. To offer someone your food first is a huge thing to them because food is not all that easy to obtain in the jungle. By doing that they say, I want you to be happy and healthy regardless of how little I would get."
"But what if the person had a limitless amount at their beck and call?"
"Doesnt matter. Its all in the gesture. Why do you ask anyway?"
"No reason." I turned over. "Goodnight."
I did not sleep last night. When the sun came up, a torrent of rain was beating down on the roof. "Well wait till this afternoon to leave. See if it slacks up." My uncle turned around and handed me my backpack.
"You found it?" I smiled.
"Got your other stuff, too."
"Cool." I reached into my bag and pulled out my Butterfinger. I ripped the wrapper off and devoured it with a smile. "Uncle Ryan?"
"What happened with the plane anyway?" I asked between bites.
"There was something wrong with the engines. Both conked out. When we scraped a rock face, it tore a hole in the fuselage. You kinda fell out of that hole I guess. Because when I went back to check on you, you were gone. You dont remember falling out?"
"Nope. All I remember is being tossed around like a rag doll."
"The plane almost made it back to Pa Towan. Some of the villagers saw us going down and came to help us. I had no idea where you landed or whether you were alive." He caressed my cheek.
"Orie found me. If it werent for her...." I trailed off. I looked up at him. "I have to go back." I grabbed one of the raincoats near the door.
"Hold it!" He grabbed my arm. "What do ya mean you have to go back? Go back where?"
"To the village." I tossed the raincoat on.
"Oh no your not." I shoved him away.
"I have to tell her." I swung the door open and ran out into the deluge.
I ran to the garage and saw Darrens dirt bike propped against the wall. I jumped on it and started it. Just then my uncle burst through the door. "Stop, Erica!" I revved the engine.
"Follow behind me. Im just gonna say goodbye." I raised my feet to the pegs and off I went, screaming past my uncle.
I followed the now muddy trail back to the village. With the bike, I was able to drive almost all the way into the village instead of having to walk the last couple of miles. I stopped it out of sight and ran headlong into the village and to the place where I spent the night with her. I was praying she was still here. "ORIE!" I yelled into the woods. I wiped the moisture that poured onto my face. "Orie!" I squinted, trying to see through the rain. "Damn." I muttered. Just as I was about to turn around and head back, she jogged up to me. "Orie!" I jumped into her arms.
"Why you come back? You go home." she gestured.
"Ne bosa ke." I said. She looked at me with a smile. "Ne bosa ke, Orie." I repeated. "Ill be back. I promise." She watched me as I removed my necklace. I placed it around her neck. It was my astrological sign. She fingered it. I kissed her on the lips before leaving. I had to intercept my uncle before he got here. He is gonna be pissed. I heard Ories commanding voice over the rain.
"NE BOSA KE, HASAMA!" I smiled as I got to the bike. After two attempts, it started.
My uncle met me halfway down the trail. "What the hell do you think your doing?" he boomed as he got out of the jeep. "Get your ass back to the house! Go!" I angrily whirled around the jeep and headed for Pa Towan. My uncle followed close behind me all the way back. As soon as we arrived back in the house, he let loose. "Why did you pull a stunt like? You could have gotten killed!"
"I had to tell Orie something."
"And what was so important to risk your life?"
"Ne bosa ke." I said quietly and moved into the bedroom.
"I love you." he sighed. "Great, just great." I saw him rub his hands over his face.
To Be Continued.......
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