No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters in this story and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story can not be used or sold for profit in any way. This story has been written solely for the reading enjoyment of Xena: Warrior Princess fans of the internet.
Setting: This story takes place after the second season Xena episode "The Xena Scrolls".
Note to Reader: Perhaps this is how the Amazon rain forests got its name.
In the evening hours of a warm, early summer afternoon, cars passed back and forth occasionally down the well lit roadway of Southern California. There were several buildings aligned along the busy streets in this part of the city. Most were for office space and large corporate banks and hotels. Scattered in and around the area were restaurants, stores and public recreational areas.
The Turning View Memorial Museum was one such public tourist attraction. Built in the late 1920s just before the effects of the depression had really started to show, Turning View had originally focused on the brave efforts of American World War One veterans and families. It had seen its fair share of success from the wartime exhibits and displays which passed through it regularly. Just weeks ago, the Simms Museum in Georgia displayed a set of pre-Native American pottery found in an unlikely excavation site.
The current displays drawing in nightly crowds was a collection of naturalist artwork from the East coast. Several of the best artists and a few promising hopefuls from local universities were placed in the museum so that VIP's and general guests could gain a greater appreciation for the arts.
In the main room, standing to the far right near a wall-sized painting of a meadow and farm beyond stood a woman dressed unlike the others. A strong example of contrast to the other women in the building. She wore no dress or evening gown. Jewels and evening glasses were of no use to her either. A light brown jacket and denim pants were good enough by her standards. The bottom of the pants covered her faded black boots.
Had Doctor Janice Covington been anywhere but a metropolitan museum, her chosen clothing could have easily lead to an impression of her being a laborer. But being here, standing with the social elite, she felt that she at least gave the impression of being a contributor. She had afterall left more than one artifact with the museum for display. Most items were usually sent to Washington.
A rather small man with thick glasses looked over in her direction and sighed. Janice smiled to herself. She knew he felt uncomfortable with her appearance, but he knew her importance as well. He had been politely suggesting a few choice stores within walking distance where he could arrange a borrowing of a gown fitting her respected position. She had refused though and thankfully he was quick witted enough to notice her growing impatience with him.
Janice shrugged to herself slightly as she took a small drink of some nameless wine that had been handed to her a few minutes ago. Her customary hat was left in the car. In her own view, letting her long blonde hair pass over her shirt and jacket was more than meeting him halfway on the expected dress code for such an event. She had even been generous enough to leave the whip and knife in the car.
This was more a setting for Mel, Melinda Pappas as she preferred to be called in public. Mel had reminded her of that a couple of times in the front entrance before they had made their entrance an hour ago. Janice was secretly wondering if she were somehow related to the man with glasses as she watched her friend speak to a couple of visitors.
Melinda and the couple that was with her were looking to a large painting of the outdoors. There were trees and animals with the work of art. Janice assumed it was a nature piece as were most of tonight's works. She made her way over to her friend to catch the last part of the story.
"So you see, the way the brush marks pass through the trees and animals and yet stay smooth with the air and ground suggests the activity of life in the calm environment." Melinda explained. The couple nodded their heads and asked something about the chosen colors that Janice didn't quite hear. She was busy looking to the other patrons in the main room near them.
To her surprise, she saw a rather handsome looking blonde headed young man looking back at her with a polite smile. She smiled in return when he raised his wine glass to her and took a small drink. She was beginning to think these art exhibits weren't such a bad thing after all.
By the time her attention returned to Melinda, she could see the couple continuing on their tour. Melinda was looking over at her with a slight frown. Janice was going to ask what she had done wrong when she noticed Melinda was facing her direction but looking at someone else entirely. Melinda must have sensed her question by the response she gave her.
"You would think she could have chosen another night." Melinda whispered as she pushed her glasses back up
"Who?" Janice asked. She tried to look behind her position casually so as not to appear rude.
"My cousin." Melinda explained. "Who else. Its bad enough she's in the art curator business but to be traveling show coordinator as well. I declare."
Janice glanced over to the woman and immediately noticed the resemblance between the two women. Both were tall and of fair complexion. Each had a their hair in similar design. And Janice even seemed to recognize the woman's taste in clothing as similar to Melinda when they had been on a previous adventure together. She could also see to her own amusement the other woman's slight frown at seeing Melinda showed a similar lack of interest. For two people who didn't like one another, the seemed to have alot in common with each other.
"Mel." The other woman said in an open greeting and warm smile. "How are you this evening? Weather hasn't got you down again does it?"
For her part, Melinda kept a civil tone to her voice as she reached out and shook her cousins hand. "Not at all Andrea. But you do know what the doctor said about being around those with cheap perfume. It gives me spells."
Janice took a quick drink of wine to hide her smile. Andrea had been caught off guard by that comment and stood there smiling politely to her younger cousin. "I see you've put in a few entries dear. How thoughtful of the museum to let new and upcoming artists have a go at it."
Melinda was in fact well studied in the arts and had had a couple of her paintings held for display in this very museum, as she was sure her cousin was well aware. "And what about you dear Andrea, a steady job seems to be in your future for the time being I see. That's always welcomed news."
Andrea politely laughed off the not so well intended remark. She seemed skilled in the art of social conversation more than Janice cared to know.
"Well dear, you know how the universities keep us successful women busy. Why I have a trip planned just around the corner to visit a most exciting and adventuresome place as can be." Andrea explained with a little more pride than was needed. She pointed to the painting Melinda had been looking at with the couple. "I'll be heading toward that Amazon forests within the week to look for some of the most interesting finds. But then I'm sure looking at a painting is just as fun." Andrea laughed lightly and started to walk away. "You have a nice evening now Mel."
Melinda was tempted to make an open face at her cousin as she walked away had it not been for a slight cough from Janice reminding her where she was. She settle for a quiet sigh and adjusted her dress slightly before whispering to Janice. "Of all the nerve. She knows good and well I'm an established artist in this city."
"I know. I know" Janice nodded her head and humored her friend as best she could. In truth, she found that kind of mild arguing amusing compared to her line of work. Still, for Melinda's sake she had to put up a strong front of watching her friend make it through misfortune.
"Its a shame though really." Melinda looked down slightly as she spoke. "Here she barely has any time in real investigation and travel aside from museum to museum. Yet she gets to go the Amazon and look at all the wonders it has to offer."
"Alot of mosquitoes and sun is what it has to offer Mel." Janice corrected herself. "Melinda."
Melinda smiled at her friend's effort. "I suppose that is true, but its just the thought you know."
Janice looked back over the painting from before and noticed a small lake in the background. There were several large trees crowded around the edge of the water with low lying grass that went right out to the shore. It was impressive how the artist had managed so much detail.
"What if I told you that thought might just become a reality?" Janice mentioned as she took another sip of her wine.
Melinda took a few seconds to notice the sound in her friend's voice. "What do you mean Janice? Are you saying....."
Janice reached into her jacked pocket and took out a small brown envelope. "What I'm saying is this is one first class ticket to Peru. Easily exchangeable for two."
A smile spread across Melinda's face as she looked to her friend. "That's wonderful."
"No problem." Janice explained. "Only make sure you're ready to leave first thing in the morning. If your cousin is going in the same direction as I think she is going, we can't spare any more time than needed."
"Sounds like you know what all the travel is about?" Melinda asked.
"Oh I do." Janice assured her. "And by the sound of it, it could be just as important as our first trip together."
A constant humming could be heard from the cargo area of the large plane flying high above the Atlantic ocean. Soft white clouds raced over the wings and around the four propeller engines that somehow kept the plane in the air. Occasionally they would hit an air pocket and the plane would jump unexpectedly. Judging by the unhappy look on Mel's face, she was having more troubles with their trip than she cared to admit.
Janice held up a small paper bag. "Need it?"
Mel shook her head. She looked out the window with an aire of dignity and respect. As the plane swooped down suddenly she reached for the bag before Janice could even offer it to her.
Janice smiled. "We'll be on land soon enough."
"Not too soon for me." Mel replied as she took off her hat and waved it in front of her face. "Who did you say booked us on this flight?"
"A woman by the name of Eddington. Elizabeth Eddington." Janice explained. "She's the same university sponsor for most of my work. Shares an interest in archeology."
Mel didn't seem to notice what was just said. She was leaning down in front of her with the bag. Janice patted her on the back for support and looked around.
There were three other men on the plane besides the two of them and the pilot. It was a large plane clearly designed to transport cargo from one place to another. The seats had been welded in place quickly before the trip. Janice could tell it hadn't been the best job. She could feel the seats slide forward and back each time the plane went through turbulence.
The three men in the passenger area with them all sat further toward the front. One was dressed in coveralls and had a tool box with him. She had heard some talk of him being a mechanic for the plane. The other two men wore travel clothing, leather and satchels much like the supplies she had brought for Mel and herself. One of the men looked back toward her and nodded his head politely. Janice nodded a silent greeting in return. They would have a chance to speak when the plane landed.
For some time, the plane remained calm in flight. Mel leaned toward the window and chanced a look out at the land below. The plane had apparently climbed above the clouds altogether as Mel could now see them below. A large clearing below was surrounded by the trees of the tropical forest. There seemed to be a large river in the middle of the clearing. Small villages and towns could be seen every ten to twenty miles along its path.
"That's the Lifeblood of the jungle Mel." Janice said as she looked out of an adjacent window. "The Amazon River."
"Yes, well I certainly know that." Mel smiled slightly. She seemed to have recovered from her earlier upset stomach. "Its amazing what you can see from this height. Mist-covered hills, dense jungle, a pine forest to the right."
"And one of the few sources of remaining fresh water in the world. You know, this forest is rumored to be the home of an ancient human civilization that lived here for maybe thousands of years." Janice noticed the look of interest in Mel's eyes as she continued with her explanation. "People are thought to have cut down trees in the forest and developed an impressive system of travel and trade."
Their mutual admiration for the scenery below was interrupted slightly as the plane began to pitch forward in its descent. Janice and Mel sat back down and made sure their seat belts were secured as the plane lowered for its landing.
Thankfully, there had been no problems. The plane touched down on a small dirt road barely cleared enough of trees. A slight jolt of the wheels touching the ground was all that was felt. Minutes later the plane came to a stop and the passengers got up to exit the plane.
Janice handed a few bags over to Mel and they made their way over to the entrance. All three of the men stood to the side waiting for them to leave first. The two travelers each had their hats off out of respect for the ladies as Janice and Mel walked down the simple wooden stairs that served as a walkway.
An old fuel truck slowly drove up to the side of the plane and a couple of men got out to start fueling up the plane for its return trip. The mechanic and pilot stayed with the plane as the other to men that were also passengers headed toward a nearby store. One of the men offered to carry the ladies' baggage but Janice politely refused. them. Mel didn't see the harm in it but Janice would only say that she had delicate instruments and didn't want them dropped.
Inside the store, a local native Indian and his wife were selling supplies to a well-dressed man in a green jacket and khaki pants. Janice turned to a side aisle and noticed some candles and oil they would need. She instructed Mel on what they should buy. Before too long, the both of them had handfuls of supplies and they made their way to the front counter. The elderly man who ran the store was only too happy to see that Janice was trading in gold coins.
"Do you think that's wise?" Mel asked as she noticed the two male passengers approaching the counter with their own supplies.
"Not a problem Mel. I can handle it." Janice assured her.
"You two ladies seem to be on a long trip." The taller man who had been on the plane said. "Perhaps Arnold und I should help you? No?"
Janice assumed he was referring to the other man who had nodded a greeting to her on the plane. "That's alright. I think we can get by well enough on our own."
"Ah but you are women. It is only proper for a man to help." With that said, the man reached forward to take Janice's baggage which was sitting near the entrance.
Janice kicked her bag out to the side with her closest boot. It slid easily across the smooth floor. The man who had offered to help however was leaning over to pick it up and the bag's sudden movement caused him to loose balance and fall onto the floor. His friend laughed mildly as another man approached the counter.
To Janice's surprise, she saw that the man in the green jacket and khaki pants was the same blonde haired man who had smiled to her at the museum party. He looked to both of the other men at the counter and then to Janice and Mel before speaking in a British accent. "Is there a problem here ladies?"
"Nothing I can't handle." Mel looked to the fallen man as he angrily got up, still listening to her friend Janice explain. "Like I said. We can handle our own."
The two men who had been passengers on the plane quickly paid for their supplies and left the store. The man in the green jacket standing beside the two women shook his head at the door. "I'd say you made a couple of good friends there."
"They'll get by." Janice replied. "So... you just happen to be in this area for sight-seeing too I take it?"
The man smiled and extended his hand. Janice took it and they shook hands. "The names is Devon Thames."
"Like the river?" Mel asked.
"Quite." Devon responded. "In answer to your question Doctor Covington, I'm hear on official business actually. I believe your charming companion's relative is with me on this outing."
"Charming?" Mel asked with a slight smile as she reached up and adjusted her hair.
"If your talking about Melinda's cousin Andrea, I suppose so." Janice noticed a slight frown cross over Mel's face as she realized whom he was traveling with. Janice looked over to her bag which was near the door and walked over to it to pick it up. "Well Devon, thanks for the timely introduction, but its time Mel and I were off."
"Farewell then ladies." Devon spoke in a light British accent, waving to them as they walked out of the store and toward the nearby boat docks.
"He seemed like a nice man." Mel continued to smile at the thought of being called charming.
"Yeah, and I'm sure his sudden appearance here with your cousin is just coincidence." Janice frowned as she looked to the small river up ahead. Not far from the water's edge, a native man was stringing up house boats. Janice made her way over to him and started to talk with him.
Mel set her baggage down and looked to the tall jungle trees that surrounded them. She turned to look behind her and saw the two men from the store looking back. Neither one of them seemed to have a very pleasant look on their faces as they made eye contact with Mel. It gave some cause for concern.
"Alright. All aboard that's going aboard." Janice's sounded pleased with herself as she called Mel over to the water's edge.
Mel picked up their supplies and walked over to the dock. "Please. Tell me this is not our chosen method of travel." She was looking down at a rusty, half rotten canoe."
Janice laughed at her friend's concern and pointed to the side. "Don't worry. I have something better than that."
Mel looked at the what appeared to be a floating house with boat on the side and made a face like when she had the bag by her side on the plane. "That?"
Janice patted her on the shoulder strongly. "That only cost a few coins. Come'on. Lets start the adventure of a lifetime."
Both of the women boarded the boat-house and got ready to start out on the small river that would later join up with the Amazon. On the shore some distance away, the two men from the store watched the women carefully with a less than forgiving attitude.
Janice whistled a little known tune to herself as she dug her oar deep into the muddy river water. She smiled to herself and closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath of her surroundings. "Do you smell that Mel?" She asked.
"One can hardly help but smell it." Mel's nose wrinkled up disapprovingly. "Catfish or floating algae maybe?" She looked around as though to spot the small bit of nature responsible for her discomfort.
Janice spoke out loud in a strong way, though it was meant more for herself and the river to hear. "That is nature my book smart friend. Take a deep breath and take it in."
Mel sneezed and mumbled of allergies. Janice sighed and continued to steer the house-boat forward.
"We'll be joining up to the Amazon River soon." Janice informed her, placing the long pole over to the other side of the boat. "The river might pick up speed then but I can get us through easily enough."
"As long as its not like the plane I will be alright." Mel assured her.
Janice looked over to see her friend reading through a small pocket book. "What's that?"
Mel looked up and pushed her glasses down slightly to get a better look at Janice. "Just a small journal I'm keeping. No reason why ancient people should be the only one's to keep scrolls."
Janice nodded with a slight smile. Who knew, maybe in a few thousand years, their travels would be the stories of legend. She had been thinking of their past travels for some time now while on this river. Of the revelations that ancient history did in fact exist. About that cave and the dark powerful man who had been trapped within it. And of her friend Mel who for a short time had appeared to have a strength to her that she had never seen in the woman before.
Janice felt she had come to terms with being related to the blonde that had been mentioned, though she wished she had been a descendant of the warrior woman named Xena. Still, if this Gabrielle had been her close and trusted companion, Janice reasoned the woman couldn't be all bad. Maybe some of Xena's fighting instincts had been taken in by her.
Mist rose from the water up ahead, announcing the fast, warmer current of the Amazon River. Janice took up her pole and walked over to the other side of the house-boat. She dug into the muddy rocks and base below and pushed the small vessel forward. With a slight turn into the joining river, the house-boat pushed into the flowing wave of the Amazon with no problems at all. Mel complimented her on that.
"Just wait until we get to the rapids." Janice said noting her friend's concerned look once again.
"Tell me Janice." Mel asked. "What are we looking for exactly."
Janice finished pulling forward on the poll before she answered. She took it up out of the water and dug it down forward into the almost clear river. "Well, you see. In the scrolls we found from before, which I read through several times, there was only one mention of the gods by name."
"I see." Mel nodded her head thoughtfully. "And that is why we are out here then?"
"We are out here because a specific artifact rests along the river down a narrow channel. That's what the scrolls hinted at. That's where we will find "the Golden Bow taken to a legendary land, held there secretly during the time of man." That's the way the quote goes anyway."
"I do hope this will help your father's cause." Mel frowned at herself for saying the words as soon as they had been spoken. She didn't mean to bring up Harry Covington's credibility with the Xena scrolls. While the scrolls had proven interesting, many fellow archeologists had dismissed Janice's find as a well written story from long ago. Something for literary scholars perhaps, but not binding in the field of ancient culture.
"So do I." Janice responded simply. She dug the pole into the waters with renewed effort.
The trip remained uneventful and quiet for several hours after than. Mel had decided to leave her friend alone to her own thoughts as she started to catalogue all of the varieties of plant-life along the river sides which had never been seen before by man. She had to admit this was turning out to be a rather exciting trip.
In just the past hour alone, Mel had written down at least ten different types of low-bladed grass along the banks of the river. There were the occasional crocodiles and water snakes, but thankfully they were too far distance to be of any concern to them.
Janice kept a close eye on the wildlife as well. She knew all too well that they couldn't afford to ignore the many deadly animals that kept their homes along the water. It was no great surprise then that a slight shake of the house-boat announced the arrival of a medium sized alligator that had decided to make it his new home.
Mel jumped up quickly and called out to Janice. She pulled the poll up out of the water in one swift, clean move and twirled it around in the air to land down across the alligator's backside. The alligator let out a loud growl and hissed at the woman. She stood her own ground and jabbed the pole into his side twice more before the alligator decided to abandon his new prize. He turned around quickly and jumped back into the water with a large splash before swimming away.
Mel took a deep breath and waved her had in front of her face. "That was close."
"I'll say." Janice smiled as she continued to row the house-boat forward. "He's lucky I let him get away."
Mel nodded her head slightly worried but not the worse for the experience.
"Hmm.... I wonder what they're up to.?" Janice was studying the distant treeline up ahead near a turn in the river. There was an apparent clearing just a half-mile in front of them and she could see a large number of birds set at the top limbs.
"Resting from a long trip perhaps?" Mel offered as a possible suggestion.
"One way to find out." Janice dug the pole into the water and approached the clearing. She could immediately see what was a large boat along the dirt that ran up to the water's edge. It was as large as their boat house, but made of metal. Janice chose to ignore a passing comment from Mel that that was the type of transportation they should have been using all along.
"They aren't birds Mel." Janice said with a small look of disgust. "They're vultures."
Janice looked around the clearing and saw what appeared to be an abandoned shack. She steered the house-boat as close to the bank as she dared and jumped out into waste deep waters. Mel hesitated for a few seconds, not wanting get her clothing wet, but eventually she jumped into the waters as well. The two of them made their way to the dry clearing and toward the shack.
To their mutual surprise, they could see the body of a man lying face down in the dirt. Janice was the first to make her way over to him. She checked his pulse but could find none. Then she looked back out to the water and to an old Model T car that the man must have driven in to reach the shack. Two tires were broken which was not a surprise considering the land which had been driven on.
"Heart attack maybe?" Mel asked hopefully.
Janice frowned and looked once more out to the river and then to the thick treeline which surrounded them. "No. I think its safe to say he had a little help in meeting his maker. And I wouldn't be too surprised if the person responsible was still around here somewhere."
Mel looked around the dirt clearing and then to the trees. She thought she saw the slightest movement and a brief flash of red before the sound of footsteps approached her from behind.
Janice spun around quickly and drew her revolver on the two people. "Can't say I'm too surprised to see the two of you here?"
"Andrea!" Mel gasped. "Whatever are you doing here?"
Andrea shook her head and looked to Janice instead. "We have to get out of here quick."
Devon nodded his head once in agreement. "She's quite right actually. Those chaps over there shot down our crew and our expedition leader here. Only when we appeared to run into the woods did they stop."
Janice was going to ask them who they were talking about when she saw the boat. It was large but well hid around the inside corner of the turn in the river. She could see only too well the red flag and black and white swastika marking on its face. She frowned and stood up. "Nazis. I really hate those guys."
There was a large boom sound followed by a spray of dirt along the clearing where a shell landed. The main gun turret on the ship had turned from upstream across to where they were. Janice knew they wouldn't stand much of a chance out here in the open.
"Get Down!" She instructed the others. She lead them around to the back of the shack where they could rest for a few seconds. Their rest was short-lived as another loud boom of the cannon sounded followed by the what was heard to be the rattling and crashing of metal in water.
"Hey! I say now! That boat cost a small fortune." Janice grabbed Devon by the shirt-tale and pulled him back around the corner. "They just destroyed our boat Andrea dear."
"Andrea dear?" Mel looked to her cousin with a questioning smirk.
Andrea gave her cousin a dirty look. "Not now Devon. Get down already."
Janice kept them down and safe for now. She didn't dare try to move out to the boats while they were being fired upon. She knew only two well that shelling didn't have to directly hit a target to injure them. Fallout, shrapnel and concussion from the blast would be damaging enough. If only there was a way to get to the house-boat, which was slightly further along the river bank.
Another blast from the Nazi cannon ripped into the Englishman's boat. Devon cursed the filthy Nazi swine but was smart enough to keep his place. "Sorry for the language ladies."
"I've heard worse." Janice replied. She waited for another blast and looked out around the corner to see an unwelcome sight. The last blast into Devon and Andrea's boat had pulled it free from the bank and sent it forward in to the house-boat. As their boat began to sink in the deep waters, the house-boat was being pushed away from the shore. It was beginning to float down the river once again, but this time without anyone aboard.
"We've got problems." Janice whispered to herself.
"I'll say. Most of my belongings were on that ship. What am I going to do?" Andrea whined.
"Oh just shut up Andrea." Mel spoke with a force that made Andrea blink. "Always trying to outdo me in everything for your prestigious country club friends. I'm surprised you didn't lead them straight to us."
"Me?" Andrea became red-faced defending her pride. "Of all the nerve. If it wasn't for me, you wouldn't even have known about this little expedition."
"Don't you be so sure." Mel answered, equally red-faced now, which was easily recognizable considering her rather pale complexion. "Janice over there ha--"
"Shut up!" Janice interrupted their arguing with a pointed finger. She had no time to listen to their complaints. She was too busy noticing the uneasy fact that the Nazi gun boat was pulling out of its hiding place and turning to its side, so that more guns could shoot at the clearing.
A small boat filled with men was coming around the far side of the gun ship. In a matter of minutes they would reach land and the shack would no longer be of use to Janice and the others. "All right. Time to make or break. Come'on!"
Janice stood up and ran to the side of the house just staying within the clearing. Mel, Andrea and Devon looked to each other slightly confused before they joined her. Each kept their head down as a couple of the men on the small boat started to fire their weapons at them. Andrea and Mel were both screaming out in fear as the four of them finally made their way into the forested area.
One of the men on the boat yelled out in the distance and Janice looked to the large Nazi boat. She blinked. For a brief second, up above and behind the boat on the facing cliff, she could swear she saw someone dressed in red with a bow and arrow. Another man on the Nazi gun boat yelled and fell out into the water. Janice stared curiously at the opposite cliff before remembering the house-boat that was already floating down the river.
The four of them ran along the bank of the river. It was steadily becoming steeper and at a higher elevation than the water. Mel voiced some concern about that but Janice told her not to be concerned. In just a short while of running, they could see the house-boat continuing along the water's edge.
"I say Doctor Covington." Devon asked. "What now?"
"We jump." Janice answered simply enough.
"Jump?!" Mel asked with disbelief.
"Jump." Mel replied calmly enough. She took out a large hunting knife and threw it at a tree with some nearby vines. The knife cut through the vine and one end of it dropped to the ground. Without anything further said, Janice reached out for the broken end of the vine and took a running leap off the edge and swung out over the water to land not far away from the house-boat."
Both of the other ladies appeared to hesitate to follow in her step. Devon refused to go without them. He tried to argue that the men that came up on shore would not be far behind but that did nothing to motivate either of them.
"I knew you'd be too prissy to do it. Too scared." Andrea laughed nervously at Mel.
Mel growled at her cousin and pushed her back into the arms of Devon. She took off her glasses, but them in a deep pocket and then took a running leap at the vine. "Aaaahahahaahhiyeye!"
"That's the way Mel." Janice laughed in surprise at her friend's bravery. "Here!" She reached a hand out to Mel who swam over to her and got in the boat. Two splashes into the water could be heard not long after that and Devon and a complaining Andrea could be heard.
Mel's eyes widened as she saw something long and quick swim out over the top of the water toward Andrea, who was the last into the water. "Faster Andrea! Faster!"
Her cousin was swimming as fast as she could but the water moccasin was gaining distance on her. Devon helped himself up onto the house-boat and turned to see the danger Andrea was in. "Swim faster Andrea! It's right behind you!"
Andrea was swimming as fast as she could but Janice could see that it wasn't good enough. She reached her hand out toward her knife and only then realized that it was still stuck in the tree up on the bank. She frowned and looked around quickly. There was really only one thing that she could throw out that far with little notice.
With a ragged breath Andrea was starting to feel a cramp in her legs. She was pushing herself too fast and she was starting to slow down. Then something flew over her head almost striking her. It had a wooden sound to it as it struck the water and a hissing sound was heard.
Andrea turned around in the water and screamed out as she saw the body of a water moccasin float near her. It was dead. Janice had used the pole to steer the house-boat as a javelin and it had worked. Devon and Mel quickly reached out to grab Andrea by the shoulders and pull her up onto the house-boat. She lie there gasping for breath whispering a thank you to Janice.
"Great work. And a bit of risk too Doctor Covington." Devon looked to Janice and Mel as they helped Andrea with her leg cramps. "It's almost as if you knew we would be safe to come out in the open like we did."
Janice shrugged. "Nazi gun boats weren't built for retreat. They don't have a reverse on the engine so they have to face into the current. I imagine they will have to travel upriver for some time before it gets wide enough for them to turn around and follow."
"I say." Devon continued. He brushed some water off of Andrea's face. "Excellent show."
"Not totally." Janice frowned. She looked out to the water and saw the steering pole already in front of them and quickly disappearing down the Amazon river."We have a small problem that's about to get a lot bigger real soon."
Janice went inside the small thatch room on the house-boat to look for anything long and thick enough to use as an oar. As she had dreadingly expected, there was nothing of value here. Then she came up with an idea and walked out to where the others were. Andrea was doing better now and she and Mel were talking. "Devon come over here and help me untie a few of these lashings."
"You have another plan out of our problem?" He asked with expectation.
"I need to untie one or two of the long poles running down the length of this boat, but I need you to make sure only two get pulled away." She explained.
"Right. I'll hold it together then." He reached out and took a firm grip of the long poles as she began to use a small knife found in the room. When the subject of his reasons for being here came up, Janice noted a protective sound to his British accent.
"As you might have guessed, I was the financial backer for Andrea's trip at the request of the Royal British Museum. What with your success with the Xena scrolls a few months ago, they were understandably eager to follow in your planned expedition to the Amazon."
Devon looked over to Andrea and Mel talking. "I must say though, I never thought of growing fond of her." He smiled awkwardly, not meaning to mention his interests.
"Looks like its mutual." Janice responded. She thanked him for helping with the poles and finished securing the bottom of the boat again. One pole was given to Devon and she kept the other. She told him to stay on the other side as her so they could steer better.
Devon looked down to Andrea and asked if she was doing alright. She told him that she was and rewarded him with an open smile. As they began to talk and share a few private jokes, Mel walked over to where Janice was steering the house-boat.
Mel looked back to Andrea and Devon and raised a curious eyebrow. "They seem to be getting along well."
"I suppose so." Janice gave the oar over to Mel. "Here take this for a minute."
Mel reached out quickly and took it. "But I. Oh alright."
Janice leaned down and dropped a sack into the water. It sped off down the river gaining speed. She walked back over to Mel and took the oar. "I was afraid of that. We're picking up speed. Rapids ahead."
The sides of the river were becoming misty, almost hidden by an unexpected fog. Janice was still fortunate enough to spot a small fork in the river that passed off to the right. It was just the right size for them to go without being followed by the gun boat. She and Devon steered the boat down the side river and soon found themselves coming to a dead end where the river ended in a small enclosed lagoon.
"Where does the water go to keep drawing more in?" Mel asked as she looked around.
"Doesn't matter." Janice said with a sound of victory in her voice. "This is exactly as its mentioned in the scrolls. 'An ever flowing river shall we send, where it goes no one knows but it ends.' "
Janice let the boat touch up against the grass and she walked off of the house-boat. She was quickly followed by Mel, Andrea and Devon. The trees here were all well hidden in a mist. Janice was hoping that this would be the place where the bow would be found.
"Tell us some more of this bow would you?" Devon asked as he reached out to take Andrea's hand.
Janice stopped just outside the entrance of a nearby cavern and slowly started to walk in. "Its supposed to be a weapon of the gods. If I remember the scrolls correctly, this entire region got its name from followers of a Greek god, a forest goddess or something like that."
"If you believe in that sort of thing." Andrea said.
"Why are you here if you don't?" Janice asked.
"She's here just for the money and popularity it will bring." Mel said with mild disapproval. Andrea didn't respond. She just looked down slightly and was comforted by a light hug from Devon.
To Janice's surprise the inner chamber of the cavern was well lit, too well lit in fact. There were torches along the walls and they were all in use. A woman's voice could be heard from outside the cavern. "That's far enough. Come back out slowly and carefully."
They turned in surprise and the four of them slowly did as they were told. Janice stood in front of the others and looked to the woman who was dressed in red. "I knew I wasn't just seeing things. Who are you?"
The woman regarded her with a calm silence. "As you are the one trespassing on sacred Amazon soil, should it not be you who answer the question?"
"Trespassing on sacred Amazon soil?" Janice asked with a bit of amusement. "I hate to break the news to you, but men have been trespassing on this soil in numbers for the past thirty years or so. You're a little late on the uptake."
"I have dealt with far more of them than you could know. But even their numbers begins to exceed my abilities." She said.
"The name's Covington. Janice Covington." Janice stood there for a few seconds waiting for a response.
The woman reached out to touch her shoulder briefly and nodded more to herself. "I sense you have the Amazon in your blood. That is good. My name is Cora. I've lived and protected these forests far longer than you could possibly imagine."
"Well Cora, that's nice and all, but we're on a little expedition here and we have company if you know what I mean." Janice began to turn around but the Amazon quickly raised her bow in an attack posture. A Golden Bow.
"Yes, you want the Bow of Artemis. I have seen many who have come for it. I killed them all." Her expression remained serious and silent. Her fingers held the string back with an arrow drawn and ready to strike.
"Now hold on there lady. No need for that." Janice raised her hands up slowly to keep the woman from doing something they would all regret, specifically her since she was apparently the first intended target. The woman's hand pulled back slightly but the sound of machine gun fire in the distance caused her to hold on her action.
She turned her back to the people and Janice was surprised that that much faith was placed in her not taking advantage. As it was, they had a common enemy for now so the issue of the Bow could wait. Sounds of men's voices could be heard. The Nazi's were getting closer.
"Get away from the cave." The Amazon commanded. Everyone stepped away from it and with a blinding flash of light, the front of it collapsed in a pile of stone. Janice was about to compliment her on her skill when machine gun fire hit the dirt not far from them.
Devon took hold of Andrea and pulled her to the side. The two of them hid behind a large set of trees as Janice fired her revolver off at the men. The Amazon named struck target after target with her perfect-aiming bow.
"Mel get down!" Andrea yelled out to her cousin. Mel was too busy picking up a few torn pages from her journal. She was almost finished when the first in a series of explosions sounded off near the clearing.
"Grenades!" Janice warned as she took cover behind the tree. She glanced over at the Amazon and could have sworn that the woman was shooting the grenades out of the air as soon as they were thrown. More than one of them exploded just above the Nazi's who had thrown them, injuring the men and causing panic with the others.
"Mel would you get down!" Andrea yelled out and finally broke free of Devon's hold on her. She ran over to Mel who was on the ground. One of the grenade explosions had knocked Mel down and she was reaching around to find her glasses. Andrea found them and gave them to her.
The Amazon saw that the two women were unprotected and ran over to give them cover. Mel was the first to get up and run back to a tree. The Amazon gave Andrea a nod to run as well. That was when a grenade landed near the two of them and exploded.
Andrea and the Amazon were thrown high into the air and fell against some rocks off to the side. Devon and Mel yelled out to them and kept their heads down as they both ran over to them. Janice was focused on what few Nazi's there were that were probably still advancing. She saw that her revolver was empty and decided to run over to get the Bow.
As soon as she Bow in her hands, Janice could feel an almost electric power flow through her hands. She was about to draw the weapon on the enemy when the sound of Mel crying caused her to turn her head in that direction. Mel was holding her dead cousin in her lap while Devon looked to the Amazon woman.
Janice turned back forward just in time to see five Nazi soldiers with automatic weapons enter the clearing. "Put down your weapons and surrender or I will order you killed immediately."
Two of the soldiers in the clearing were the men Janice had seen on the plane trip here. The one she had knocked to the ground in the store appeared to be the officer. "Just my luck." She mumbled.
"Everyone to the side, bitte! Move! Move!" Soldiers surrounded Janice, Mel and Devon, forcing them out into the clearing where the Nazi officer could see them. His face took on a darker expression when he saw Janice. A quick kick to the back of her legs brought her to her knees.
"Not so clever now are we my little adventurer." He sneered at her.
"Oh I'm always one for surprises." Janice warned with a cold stare.
"Not this time." The Nazi officer smacked the cap off of Janice's head and with a short wave of his hand, soldiers knocked Mel and Devon down to their knees as well. "This time I think Der Fuhrer will win victorious and the secret weapon and all its powers will be his."
"None may touch the Golden Bow of Artemis except for Amazon blood." To everyone's surprise, Andrea sat up and looked as though she had never been wounded by the grenade explosion. Before the Nazi soldiers could respond she held her hand out and a blinding light struck out at all of them. Each of them grabbed their chests and fell to the ground. The Nazi officer fell face first into the dirt in front of Janice. She reached forward calmly and picked up her hat, brushing the dust off on his uniform and then she stood up.
"Andrea?" Mel asked uncertainly as her cousin stood and approached them with new strength.
Her voice seemed to echo slightly with a deep powerful brilliance as she responded. "I am now the protector of Amazon ways... Amazon lands." Within the blink of an eye the Golden Bow of Artemis appeared in her hand.
"You must go now. The small river which led you here has been reversed for your travel. Those who attacked this place now dwell at the bottom of the river. A long held promise of Poseidon. I shall however grant you a reward for your ancestry." With that said, Andrea held out a scroll for Janice to take.
Devon thought to congratulate Andrea on her good health. He smiled to her openly but the cold professional look in her eyes showed she was no longer the woman who held an interest in him. Regretfully, he seemed aware of that fact all too soon. He looked down slightly as Janice took hold of his jacket and softly responded. "Come on. Time for us to go."
Janice continued to read the scroll given to her by Andrea as she, Mel and Devon road back on the plane to the states. She had already promised Devon that after the Amazon scroll made its way through a few chosen museums, the Royal British museum would get first chance at it. Devon thanked her gratefully but the disappointment of leaving Andrea behind was easily heard in his words.
Mel was quiet for some time too. She had lost a cousin afterall. Even though she and Andrea never really got along well, Janice suspected the two of them had made some kind of peace with each other while on the house-boat.
"What does it say?" Mel asked thoughtfully.
Janice looked over to her and set the scroll down slightly. "It says in the days when the gods were challenged, the goddess Artemis and a sea god named Poseidon I think agreed to move her people to distant lands protected and fed by a mighty river created for her people. In return, their followers called Amazons were to worship Poseidon and protect the forests given to them by Artemis."
"Sounds nice." Mel smiled as she began to relax in the plane's chair. "Anything else."
Janice thought about that for a few seconds before responding. "It said only those of royal Amazon blood can feel the power of the Bow." Janice sat back in her chair as well and thought about that. A curious smile drew over her face as she wondered just what kind of life her ancestor Gabrielle had led.