Object of Her Desire
Sequel to The Jungle Queen
A story by Sea Starr
He was standing by the shore, the jutted rocks making it difficult as he traversed the path. He didn't know where he was going, only that he needed to be there. He'd seen the place before in his dreams; a large cave, the moon lighting his way and the beautiful woman who beckoned him. She called in a mysterious way, as if he could hear her song of longing but only getting glimpses of her as she walked the rocks with ease. Her long flowing ball gown blew in the ocean breeze as if she were sashaying across a dance floor. Her hair, blonde or brunette he couldn't really tell, was poised elegantly on her head, baring her neck and revealing a plunging back line to her white silk dress. He called to her, but she kept walking as if not hearing, yet constantly searching for something.
“Come to me, Lee... I'm waiting.”
He heard her voice, as if carried on the winds of the ocean breeze. It was mysterious and insistent and always the last thing he heard before waking up in a cold sweat.
Lee heaved a heavy sigh and sat up in bed, throwing the covers off his legs and leaning his elbows on his knees. Why was he having this dream? Over and over, it played like a movie before his eyes, every night for the last two weeks. After he woke he found sleep elusive as her insistent call wouldn't let go. She wasn’t a lost love, indeed as far as he knew they had never met, and yet she seemed so familiar.
The dream played like a memory every night, without one detail missed or added. And then there was the unsettling presence of someone else; someone watching, someone holding him back. That voice seemed all too familiar as well, though he couldn't place it. That voice was more than insistent, indeed it was demanding... ordering him not to follow. It played loud and heavy like the ocean waves crashing and banging against the rocks. It had to mean something, but what?
Lee walked to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. It was 3:30 am, he'd been waking up at this exact time for the last two weeks and already knew the routine. Sleep wouldn't find him again tonight, so he might as well enjoy a cup of coffee, he reasoned. His lounge pants hung low on his hips as he made the brew, dark roasted and strong, just the way he liked it.
He sunk into the kitchen chair waiting for the coffee to finish and contemplated the dream. It was so vivid, so real... but not real. The moon lit up a crimson sky, as if a nebula had exploded and left its color in the wake. And then there was the cave, familiar and yet distant; like he should know where it was... where to find it.
The pot finished brewing as Lee dropped his head into his hands, his elbows resting on the table before him. That red sky, it was almost other worldly, like it belonged somewhere else. He rubbed his face tiredly, abandoning the thought and walking to the coffee pot pouring a mug and leaning against the counter. He took longing sips, knowing the high-octane, caffeine loaded java would ensure his sleepless night, but not relenting his authority over the matter. The dreams may be coming without his permission and invading his life, but it was his choice to drink coffee at 3:30 in the morning. A bit petulant he knew, but if he wasn't in control of his bedroom at least he was in control of his kitchen. The thought made him smile as he thought how domestic that sounded, but the light moment was fleeting because he had inadvertently returned to another aspect of the dream. The most disconcerting part as far as he was concerned.
The dream always started in a stark white room with white sheer curtains on white walls, no break of color anywhere. A bed in the center was covered in a white silk covering, the blankets pulled back, the sheets ruffled as he inherently knew the room had been used for more than sleep. It had been a rendezvous for desire; not for love making, not for lovers, maybe not even consensual. He felt no wrong doing on his part, and he didn't know how to take the 'non-consensual' part. But there was a definite calling to the room, to the bed, to the woman he had shared it with. That thought always transported him back to the cave, the next scene in the dream, and then to the mysterious woman. Something beckoned him to follow her, and yet something stronger urged him to keep his distance.
If only he knew what it meant... if only the dream would stop coming. He didn't want it, but could he continue to believe that it was just his over-active imagination? He wasn't exactly celibate and had enjoyed the company of women on an intimate level often enough, though he was currently unattached. Still, it wasn't like he was some sex starved teenager making up a fantasy lover for lack of a real sex life, and yet that's almost what it felt like.
Lee tossed back the remains in his mug and nearly slammed the cup on the counter.
Get a grip Crane, he admonished himself and headed to his desk. If he couldn't sleep he'd find some work to do.
Lee was hunched over his computer knee deep in a spreadsheet, when a short rap was followed by a blond head peering around the door.
“Hey Lee. Working all day or are you taking a break for lunch?” Chip Morton asked as Lee sat back stretching out his kinks.
“I hate to leave right now, I'm on a roll here,” he responded with an easy smile.
“Do you want me to bring something back for you?”
“Sure, that would be great,” he responded standing up and pulling his wallet out of his back pocket.
Chip waved him off. “We'll take care of that later. Sandwich? Salad?” he probed.
“Anything,” Lee replied to Chip's roll of the eyes.
“Alright then, both,” he answered snidely and left to Lee threatening to throw his stapler at the door.
Lee lowered the stapler, smiling at their jestful play as it was common knowledge that he and Chip's appetites were on opposite sides of the pendulum. Where Chip's was hearty and large, his was light and moderate. Both were fit and Lee's constant, “Where do you put it all?” jokes were often countered by Chip's razzing about Lee's “bird diet.” It was all in good fun and both enjoyed the occasional needling.
His smile faded as he contemplated the real reason he wasn't interested in lunch... it wasn't the company, he just needed to stay immersed in work to stay busy. He was exhausted from too little sleep as of late, and he really didn't need his best-friend-practically-brother staring at him from across the table and noticing the signs. It would be bad enough once Harry returned from DC. He never could pull one over on the Old Man, not that he wanted to, he just wasn't ready to talk about something he didn't understand.
The whole line of thought reminded him of Harry's travel plans as he reached for the phone and dialed the direct extension for Angie.
“Admiral Nelson's office, Angie speaking.”
“Angie this is Lee, do you have an ETA on the Admiral's flight?”
“Yes, right here,” she said reaching for a note on her calendar pad. “His flight is on time and scheduled to arrive at 6:05 this evening. I have a car waiting for him unless you'd like to pick him up?”
“I'll need to pass on that tonight,” he said uncharacteristically, but he was just too tired to take the drive to LAX. “But put me on his calendar for tomorrow morning.”
“It's clear until 11:00am,” she replied efficiently as she never scheduled meetings the morning after the Admiral returned from a trip, giving her boss a chance to wade through the mounds of paperwork he'd find on his desk when he returned.
“Great, I'll take 8:30,” Lee said as she penciled him in.
“Thanks Angie,” he replied and disconnected, feeling the tiredness return. He stretched one more time then hunched back over his computer and immersed himself deep into the exciting world of efficiency and maintenance reports of a nuclear submarine.
Lee watched the woman glide over the rocks, every hair in place even though the wind blew her gown elegantly as she strolled. He had followed her from that white bedroom, the one that suggested something intimate had preceded. Not just intimate... but a feeling of primal eroticism filled the room, more so tonight than any other night. He called to her, she stopped but didn't turn then faded away as the moon lit the crimson sky behind her and the wind carried her voice once again.
“Come to me Lee... I'm waiting.”
Lee took a deep breath and opened his eyes. Without looking he already knew the time, 3:30 am. He folded an arm under his head and laid there for a moment hoping this time he could defy the pattern and fall back to sleep. He gave up after a few minutes as every fiber in his being had been awakened by the dream and the mysterious woman. He sat up and grabbed a t-shirt, sliding it over his head as he walked downstairs.
He was glad Harry was returning this morning, it had been a long two weeks. Harry had been away at a conference on the east coast and went directly to DC for meetings. He stopped in mid-step as he realized that the dreams had started at very nearly the same time the Admiral had been away. He continued on with a shrug of the shoulder not seeing how there could possibly be a connection.
As was his habit, he made a pot of coffee. He had tried a variety of means of returning to sleep over the last two weeks; watching television, reading the paper, sorting bills, finally deciding that his body had no intention of releasing him to the sleep he needed. He filled his mug, took a sip and headed for his office to work. He wasn't sure how long he could keep up with the sleep interruptions as he wasn't even able to take naps after work to make up for it. He heaved a heavy sigh and thought that the dream was eliciting some of the same tactics of sleep deprivation he had been exposed to, both in the field and during training. Whatever the dreams were, they'd have to come to a head soon, he reasoned and sat down resigned to keep busy until it was time to get ready for work.
Keeping busy had proven to be the best medicine as he turned on his computer and downloaded emails. He logged onto the Institute server first, downloading his work but leaving a copy on the server for his office computer. Nothing new or pressing there, he decided, mentally sorting which to tackle first. He sorted a few to the top of the list, printing them off and setting them on his desk to prioritize, then he logged onto his personal email. This one his friends and family used, along with the necessary accounts he held to run his household. The computer age had certainly made it easier to be away from home for extended periods of time and still stay in touch, he thought in a moment of peace as he kept his mind busy and off the dream. He scrolled down the list, sorting out and moving two-thirds of the emails to the Junk Folder until he came across one that made him shudder; the subject line jolting him forward in his chair.
“Come to me Lee... I'm waiting.”
Lee hovered his finger over his mouse, his forefinger tapping lightly but not engaging the left-click to open up the email. This was too wild, too unreal, but he needed to know so he clicked. The email opened up and just like a computer virus taking over the machine, Lee found himself instantly separating from his physical body; still seated in the chair and yet now someplace new. Somehow he held onto both realities simultaneously; one had him anchored physically in his home in Santa Barbara, the other back in the stark white room... only this time it was different.
He wasn't observing an empty room as before, seeing the after effects of two people's sexual desire, this time he was on the bed engaging in a mad, heated encounter. His physical body shut down, as he slumped into his office chair while all his consciousness downloaded into the sexual event.
His hands ran hungrily across her body, parting the thin silky gown to bare her breast before him. The woman in his dreams smiled her delight. He didn't recognize her, he only knew he wanted her.
“Take me,” she urged as he leaned down and sucked on her nipple, bringing it to a sharp point before running his tongue across the valley of her bosoms to suck on the other breast. Her hands meshed into his curly hair, urging his mouth to taste her mounds as he slid his hand down to her private place and fingered her.
“Yes! Touch me,” she all but commanded, her urging turning more insistent as Lee rose up from the intense sexual moment to study her face.
This wasn't right. Somehow he knew... it wasn't what he wanted.
“Pleasure me!” she demanded as reality broke the spell of the encounter and Lee tossed his head defiantly.
Instantly he felt himself return to his physical body as he blinked in confusion, his manhood still hardened from the all too real out-of-body experience. It was those two words… “Pleasure me.” Instantly he knew who the woman was... instantly he knew what she wanted.
“Rainha,” he said disgustedly and pounded a fist on his desk, standing and sweeping everything short of his computer off the desk in frustration and anger, then sunk back down into his chair cradling his head in his hands.
How did he combat a woman from another world, another dimension even, with an insatiable sexual drive and absolutely no concern for her male partners? Moreover, taken against their wills and treated as sex slaves, their only function to “pleasure” her. He could still remember the cell she kept him in, the pain she inflicted when she was angry, the drugs she used to control him turning him into a sex-crazed maniac participating with his own insatiable desires... the loss of control and the over-whelming feeling of being used.
Okay, so he had for a time, experienced some rather erotic dreams after his encounter with the alien but they were just that... dreams. His body responded to the sexual erotica but there was no desire to return, no feelings for Rainha the Jungle Queen except utter contempt.
She viewed herself as a superior being and therefore arrogantly believed it was her right to take a man of her choosing, purely for her own sexual satisfaction. If he enjoyed the process meant little to her as long as he performed. She demanded complete satisfaction, her desire for orgasmic pleasure more important than anything; to this end, she used a man as a pure sexual object to the point that each sexual encounter drained him of life. Over time, when she used up her chosen slave, he would expire and she would choose another. There was no remorse, only desire... her desire.
He had beaten the initial drug, the one that left his body at near death as she “tried out” her new “lover,” first taking him in the jungle as he lay paralyzed under her drug. She transformed herself from a black panther to a voluptuous woman and took without his consent, stroking his manhood to elicit the response she needed then sucking hungrily to satisfy herself. Yes his body responded, and yes it was pleasurable, but he couldn't stop her. She ignored the few words he managed to utter in protest and mounted him anyway, riding him until producing her own climax then continuing until he erupted within her. As she dismounted she told him her ground rules, “I have had you, now you are mine.”
But her hold over him was only good as he hung near death, to keep him she would have to destroy his physical body... and she would have, had Harry not been there to guard over him. His physical body was wracked in pain and fever, working through an unnatural poison injected in the swipe of her panther claw, but it was the Admiral's vigilance as his “Watcher” that kept her from taking him permanently.
Harry later explained that there were rules she had to live by, and for some reason she couldn't take a man from his loved ones, not when they watched over him. He had been extremely grateful for Harry's intervention, saving him from a half-existence he couldn't possibly hope to escape from. It was then that he realized just how much he and the Admiral had bonded as father and son, not in blood but in every other way that mattered. The experience had drawn them even closer, not that either talked about the event, he'd just as soon forget it and move on.
He had managed to do just that, returning to his beloved Seaview and commanding the powerful submarine. He had stayed busy... very busy, until the memories faded. He was no more traumatized by her than he was by other events in his life, other unfortunate times when his ONI missions had landed him in painful situations. And he was determined not to let her win. He was used, but never considered himself a rape victim, just... manipulated. He had the whole mess put cleanly away, until the dreams started.
Lee leaned back in his office chair at the Institute, unconsciously rubbing the back of his neck, the exhaustion from sleepless nights heaping upon him. He hated the fact that the dreams had crept into his work, he hadn't meant to sit back and contemplate the matter. It irritated him that he hadn't been able to keep his mind on his work.
It had been only five hours since his experience at home when he found himself in her bed again. He knew he needed to talk, but the only person he could possibly talk to was the Admiral. No one else even had a clue what happened to him, not even Chip. They had veiled the event as an attack from a jungle beast along with an unfortunate bout of jungle fever. Furthermore, Harry had convinced the government that the site was unsuitable for the triangulation equipment and had placed it in another location while Lee recovered. But only Harry knew about Rainha, the Jungle Queen. He was the only person he could possibly talk to.
Lee glanced at the clock, he'd come into work early hoping to keep busy and failing miserably. It was time for his appointment with Harry. He stood and walked to the window, watching the activity of the maintenance crews working around the surface sub pen. Even watching his Grey Lady in the pen did little to bring him peace as Rainha had managed to break through to him there as well, leaving a white orchid on his pillow as if to reiterate what she told him after their last sexual encounter. He had vowed within himself to participate in her demands without her manipulative drugs. With defiance in his heart, he gave her everything she wanted and more, seducing her and producing her strongest climax of all. After his own fulfillment he collected his clothes and turned to leave, her sexual demands satisfied for the moment. It was then that she informed him that he had freely given himself to her and would always be hers.
He flushed the white orchid down the bilge tanks where it belonged and left her definitively behind, but now he wondered, by participating had he given her something to hold onto? His head hung low for a short moment then straightened himself and headed to Harry's office. He really needed to talk.
“Come in Lee,” Harry greeted with a smile. Lee returned the smile weakly as they shook hands, then started to release his grip as the Admiral held on, studying his eyes. Lee expelled a breath, letting his command face fade as his tired eyes told Harry something was deeply wrong. Harry released the handshake and turned to the intercom, pressing a button and speaking.
“Angie, hold all my calls. The Captain and I are not to be disturbed.”
With her efficient response guaranteeing their privacy Harry motioned Lee over to the couch.
“What's going on Lee?”
Lee sunk into the executive sofa and closed his eyes briefly, knowing he couldn't handle this alone.
“She's back,” he said, leaning his elbows onto his knees and staring off to nowhere.
Lee swallowed as the exhaustion of the last two weeks took its toll.
“Rainha,” he said turning toward Harry and meeting him eye to eye. “Rainha is back,” he repeated standing and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
Harry acknowledged with a nod then sat back further into the sofa.
“Tell me everything,” he said, motioning Lee back to sit beside him.
“I've been having dreams for the last two weeks, make that a dream. It's always the same, always waking me at exactly 3:30.”
“I take it you aren't able to sleep after the dream?”
Lee nodded his answer.
“That explains the dark circles under your eyes.”
Lee nodded and continued. “It starts in a pure white room... a bedroom. The bed is ruffled and somehow I know I've participated in... an intimate encounter there. Then I'm transported to a cave by the sea. It's rocky and jutted, hard to get around. I turn and there she is.”
“No, at least I didn't know it was her. She looked different, much more elegant in a long beautiful ball gown, walking along the rocks as if she were part of them. Everything around her is in harmony with her, the wind blows her dress seductively but her hair stays perfectly in place. She calls for me, but her voice is... it's like it's carried on the sea breeze. She wants me to follow her. I call to her but she never turns. There's another voice, deep and insistent, it beats upon me like the waves crashing on the rocks, telling me to keep my distance.”
Harry raised an eyebrow.
“It was you,” Lee said, looking Harry in the eyes. “I know that now, it's what's been keeping me from running up and taking her in my arms. The dream always ends there but the last thing I hear is her voice calling to me.”
Harry's forehead crinkled in question. “But something changed. How did you know it was Rainha after all this time?”
Lee scoffed. “Because she sent me an email.”
Harry's expression demanded an answer as Lee continued.
“I haven't been able to sleep, so I've been working in my office at home. This morning I downloaded emails and found one with her calling card in the subject line. The last thing I hear before waking up, is 'Come to me Lee, I'm waiting for you'.”
“I... opened the email and instantly found myself back in the dream... in the bedroom...”
Lee got up to pace, working off excess energy as Harry waited. He took a few laps then returned to the sofa, knowing Harry knew most of the sordid details, perhaps not a vivid account but he knew the gist of what happened.
“We're in the middle of some passionate foreplay,” he said raising an eyebrow at discussing the subject with his “father.” “As she got excited she turned insistent... then demanding.” Lee sighed. “That's when I recognized her, I was defiant and was instantly returned home.”
He hung his head and stared at the wall across the room. “She's been seducing me and if it hadn't been for your voice, I might have pursued her.”
Lee felt a strong hand on his back and closed his eyes, soaking in the concern and finding much needed strength transfer to his sleep weary body.
“It seems my role as Watcher is keeping her from taking you again. Perhaps that's why the dreams seem to be coordinated with my trip away.”
“I wondered about that,” Lee said still staring at the wall until he rose suddenly, walking across the room in a rage.
“Damn it Harry! She finds me half-way across the world and for what? A good screw?” he schooled back the vulgar word he had in mind, not wanting to drop the F bomb even though it matched his current frustration.
“It's more than that Lee, at least I think so,” Harry said standing to pace himself. “I made some rather large assertions, which she all but verified that night before you came back. Someone keeps check over her, someone who keeps her from breaking the rules.”
“But why is she back now? What's changed? She was forced to let me return, why does she think she can have me now? Unless...”
“Oh God no,” he breathed out sinking into the sofa with his head cradled in his hands.
“Talk to me, Lee.”
“The last encounter in her lair...” he started with a swallow. “I swore to myself I wouldn't be out of control again. I wanted to avoid her drugs, so I played the game... I seduced and satisfied her to avoid the consequences.”
He sniffed, as if the admission was almost too much, but regained his composure to speak strong and in control.
“She told me that I had given myself to her of my own free will, and that I would always belong to her,” Lee said leaning back and resting his head on the back of the sofa in exhaustion.
“What?” Lee asked, turning toward Harry.
“She lied, Lee. You didn't give yourself to her. You did what you had to do to survive. That's not free will.”
Lee nodded, allowing a breath of relief to pass through his lips and hope to return to his eyes.
“But she may have given us a clue as to what she's trying to do.”
Lee sat up, leaning forward with the hope Harry was bringing.
“The key may be coming to her of your own free will. Perhaps that's the reason she’s tried to veil herself as someone else... someone who could seduce you. A mystery woman who calls to you just as the sea calls to you,” Harry continued.
Lee nodded, accepting Harry's postulation. He didn't know why he hadn't thought of it himself, but it made perfect sense.
“But if it's a lie... if she tricks me, will it still be binding?”
“That's what I don't know,” Harry admitted. “She has to live by some rules from others in her dimension, but obviously those rules still allow her to do what she's been doing for over a hundred years. I'm unsure if their idea of justice can see the evil in what she's trying to do.”
Lee chuckled lightly. “I was starting to feel better you know?” he replied with a tired grin.
“We beat her before, Lee,” Harry said, placing a supportive hand on his shoulder. “We'll do it again,” he promised as the two exchanged glances in new confidence.
“Okay,” he relented to Harry's nod of approval.
“First order of business,” Harry said standing, and transitioning from father-figure to Admiral. “Is for you to take the rest of the day off and get some rest.”
“Harry...” Lee started standing to offer his resistance as the Admiral raised a hand foregoing his protests.
“I know you haven't been able to sleep or take naps, but you're dead on your feet right now. Forcing yourself to work through the day isn't going to help, it may even be playing into her hands.”
Lee relented with a nod. “I was starting to feel like I'd been through some sort of sleep deprivation training,” he agreed with a small half-smile.
“Exactly. You need your strength.”
Lee sighed and nodded. “What are you going to do?”
“A little investigating. First off, the email?”
“It's not there anymore. By the time I returned it was gone,” Lee explained.
“No matter, it was just a point of contact. It's not like she's got a profile on Facebook,” Harry quipped waving a dismissive hand concerning Rainha. “I'm going to get a hold of Tiago.”
Lee's face brightened. “Our guide in the Amazon.”
“He was well versed in the Jungle Queen lore, perhaps she's done this before.”
Lee felt the hope that had started as a seed begin to grow. Maybe he wasn't going to have to spend his life as a sex slave after all, he thought in sarcastic humor.
“I'll drop by your place with dinner tonight,” Harry went on.
“Harry I don't need a babysitter. You don't have to be there watching over me to be my Watcher,” he reminded him.
Harry smiled, knowing Lee was a proud man used to handling sea monsters, spies, and evil scientists on his own accord. He raised a halt signal with his hand to ward off Lee's further objections.
“Just to go through what I find out,” he explained. “I'm not going to hold your hand while you sleep,” he promised as Lee flushed slightly at the intended joke.
“Fair enough,” he conceded. “But no need to bring something, I'll barbeque.”
“Lee the whole point of sending you home is to rest...”
“What am I going to do all day?” Lee asked with an elegant shrug of his shoulders.
“Fine. Fine,” Harry relented. “What do I bring, red or white wine?”
“Red it is.”
Lee smiled, the first real smile since the dreams began. “Thanks Harry,” he said with Harry relaying a thin smile, then tilting his head to the door to “get going.”
“Aye, aye Sir,” Lee said with a grin, returning to the roles they usually carried at both the Institute and on the Boat, then turned to leave with his shoulders squared and his posture straight and tall.
It was three in the afternoon and Lee had actually enjoyed the day. He had stopped at the market for steak since his at home was in the freezer, as well as garlic bread and fresh vegetables. The drive home had been refreshing as he traversed the windy road in the foothills. He had bought into a gated community with a fantastic ocean view. It was a big house, too much for just him, but the view was gorgeous and the neighborhood sported larger than normal lots for the area. To get a house on the beach, he would have had to settle for his neighbors' eaves touching his own. The drive was a bit longer, but worth it. Especially because he could open up the Cobra a little and enjoy all the horsepower at his command. He knew someday he'd have to garage her, as parts were getting pretty expensive for the 1968 classic, but he'd cross that bridge when he got there.
He had the steak marinating in the fridge, a Mediterranean Salad cut and ready to serve and a couple of Texas sized baking potatoes in the oven wrapped in foil. He would bake them first then finish them on the grill. He was satisfied with his dinner preparations and felt a little tired. For once he thought he might even be able to take a nap, maybe make up for some lost sleep. He wasn't expecting Harry till at least six, so he could afford to rest a little. He opted for the sofa, propping a pillow on the arm and leaning back. He let out a satisfying breath and closed his eyes, falling to sleep immediately.
Rainha appeared out of thin air, standing at the foot of Lee's sofa, her long dark hair and green eyes reminiscent of her beast likeness, the great black panther. She wore a black leather skirt which showed an abundance of thigh, while the leather vest was worn without a modesty panel, plunging well below her deep cleavage. She ran her tongue over her lips and smiled at her handsome man. She had been forced to choose another but found her desires weren't being satisfied. Her recent choices had been adequate enough, but had lacked the... experience and finesse this one had shown. But it was his defiance that fueled her current lust for him; she didn't like to be defied, especially by a human.
He had seduced her on their last copulation, promising to be “good” and delivering in every way. It had stirred a feeling of romanticism that was foreign. She was intrigued at the time but came to abhor it after he left. She hated it because it took away her power as she had followed him by the hand up the stairs of the raised bed at his beckon, not her demand. So her need to take the one called Crane wasn’t just about sexual satisfaction, for sooner or later she would find another who offered the same delights. They came and went over the years, she reasoned. Only she didn't have years... not any longer.
Her Conquest Contract was nearly up, she had been given this territory for her pleasure, to rule as she saw fit. But she was being recalled, for some reason her Contract hadn't been renewed. She was allowed to bring whatever artifacts she desired and of course, her paramour. She wanted Crane to satisfy not only her on-going sexual desires, but she also didn't intend to leave without reestablishing her superiority over the arrogant human. She remembered with distaste how he had urged her to practically beg for her last climax, and for some reason lost in the erotic moment, she had.
“Is this what you wanted from me?” He asked darkly in her ear. “Do you want to come again, Rainha?”
“Yes! Yes!” she begged as he pumped her until she cried out in ecstasy, her position on her belly producing an even deeper reach of his manhood inside her pleasure spot. When he was through with his own climax he dismounted and walked away as if it had been his choice!
She abhorred the man sleeping on the sofa, and that would make his conquering all the sweeter. He would service her as she demanded, fulfilling her desires as ferociously as he had in the past, and upon returning to her own dimension she would fortify his body to live in her world. Crane would not expire as the men in her jungle lair did, he would be hers for eternity to satisfy her until she decided she didn't want him any longer. She smiled at that thought, he would come when she called and never again would she allow him the choice on how to fulfill her. She would use him and when he woke from whichever drug she gave him, he would know that his choice had been taken from him... that would be her sweet revenge.
First however, she would have to draw him to her. The Rules of Conquest among her race were non-negotiable; he would have to come of his own free will. All he had to do was choose her, it didn't matter how she accomplished it or if he regretted the decision; it was irrevocable once the decision was made.
What was that the Amazon natives said of her? “She doesn't desire love or to be loved, just to be satisfied.”
She knew not love, she cared nothing for the human emotion as love demands certain vulnerability, both a giving and a taking of oneself. He had revealed that vulnerability when he seduced her with his romantic prowess and she never wanted to feel that weakness again. Indeed, she would use that same romance to seduce Crane. And so she had, for the last two earth weeks, but Crane's Watcher had influenced him even in his dreams. If not for the strong influence of Nelson, Crane would have followed her. He would have begged to be with her.
Rainha would have plotted to eliminate the Watcher, but it was against the same Rules of Conquest. So instead, she had invaded Crane's mind as he slept and found his weakness. The woman of his dreams was nothing more than a figment of his love for the sea. She was fleeting, calling to him, seducing him as a siren. He couldn't help but be drawn to his beloved sea!
Even as she plotted to conqueror Crane, her desire for his flesh was still strong both for sexual pleasure and for prey. She could transform into the black panther right now and satisfy that desire by consuming him but that would have to wait until he chose her. Once he copulated... climaxed within her, his choice would be made.
For that purpose, she transformed into the petite young woman, sashaying around the rocky seas in a long white flowing gown and entered his peaceful sleep. Soon he would come to her, beg for her pleasures... beg to pleasure her... then he would be hers.
Lee found himself back inside the white bedroom, his earlier conversation with Harry not within his grasp. He was simply here. This time however, the bed wasn't empty. The beautiful woman he had been pursuing was lying on the bed, her silky ball gown puddled on the floor. He himself was without clothes as they had already discarded one another's vestments in a heated passion, desperately removing the articles to get to each other's bodies. He hovered over her as her eyes beckoned him to fulfill her.
“My love...” she whispered in his ear as he kissed her neck and nibbled on her lobe, his hand wandering over her breasts producing utter rapture. He responded to her words, as Rainha carefully kept herself veiled behind this woman she had created, she would not make the same mistake twice.
“I want to touch you my love,” she whispered in a hot breath, gently rolling him over on his back and offering ravishing kisses down his neck to his chest as his arms lay limp on the bed, receiving her touch in heated surrender. She ran her tongue over his pecks then down his tight abs using her hands to add excitement. He groaned beneath her touch as she slid lower, hovering over his hardened manhood and running a longing tongue over the tip. He shuddered at her touch as Rainha slid his hardness deep inside her mouth, eliciting sounds of utter ecstasy from her man. She was enjoying this part, watching him writhe under her touch and knowing he was powerless to stop; what man could after receiving this?
She continued massaging his manhood with her mouth, riding it as her soft lips tantalized him to the point of no return. He reached down and pulled her up, turning her on her back and probing her mouth deeply with his tongue. Slowly he slid his hand downward, feeling her moist womanhood beneath his fingers and feeling desire in her wet felicity. He rubbed insistently as she squirmed in delight, his hand igniting her passion as he stimulated her delightfully.
“Mount me, my love,” she whispered in hot airy breaths. “Please take me,” she added, deceiving him with a false vulnerable plea.
“You're so beautiful,” he whispered in her ear hovering his body over hers, allowing his hard elongated rod to push gently in, teasing her with a slow entrance as he ravished her breasts with his mouth.
He pushed further until she accepted his entire shaft, quivering beneath him as the muscles in his shoulders and arms flexed at his final thrust, reaching her wall with a burst of mutual pleasure.
“Yes,” she pleaded, hating the sound but still finding herself deeply aroused. She buried herself further down, if Rainha emerged he would recognize her.
He began to thrust slowly, then gaining speed as her hands wrapped around his back, his taut muscles flexing beneath her touch, when all of the sudden he stopped and blinked.
“I... I don't even know your name?” he suddenly realized. This wasn't like him, jumping into bed with a woman when he didn't even know her name.
“What does it matter my love?” she said, trying to recapture the moment when reality broke through and once again Lee realized who she was.
Rainha had refused to call him by his name, referring to him as “her handsome man.” It wasn't a compliment or a pet name, it was a devaluation of his worth. He was her sexual object, nothing more. When he reminded her that his name was Lee, she simply replied, “What does it matter?”
He raised himself from her bosom and pulled out, his manhood throbbing, demanding to continue to fulfill his fleshly desire.
“Finish what you've started,” Rainha demanded, still veiled as his beautiful woman of the sea but with the Jungle Queen's demands bleeding through.
“Rainha,” he said in recognition, flinging himself off the bed and denying himself the final pleasure.
“Look at yourself,” she taunted, as Lee pulled his pants on, his manhood still hard and pressing against his slacks as he zipped up. “Why deny yourself?” she asked, spreading her legs for him to see the delights of her womanhood calling him.
“No!” he yelled grabbing his shirt and leaving her bed. He ran straight from the stark white room and instantly into the darkness of the night, a strange crimson moonlit night. Just as instantly he was in the cave, breathing hard and falling to his knees in exhaustion as he finally felt free of her.
Then he woke, remembering everything.
“Damn you!” he yelled and then sat up throwing his pillow across the room in frustration. He stood in angry frustration when he realized he was not only covered in sweat, but his manhood was still rock hard. Disgusted, he climbed the stairs, shed his clothes and took a long shower. He stood under the cascading water for the longest time, until he felt the remains of the unwanted passion pass from his body. Only then did he use the soap to wash away her touch.
“The call you've been waiting for is ready, Admiral.”
“Very well Angie, see that I'm not disturbed.”
“Yes Sir,” she assured him.
Harry reached for the phone anxious to speak to Tiago. He made his call as soon as Lee had left the office this morning, but as he suspected Tiago was on an expedition. He had in fact, just left that same morning. It had taken a hefty amount of promised cash for the contact to promise to drop everything and follow Tiago's trail. He promised an equal amount of pay for Tiago's services to return to make a phone call. He knew Tiago was an honorable man and wouldn't leave his charges for money alone, he hoped their time spent in the jungle guarding Lee had evoked a lasting friendship and would realize that this unorthodox call needed his attention.
“This is Admiral Nelson.”
“Nelson, is that you?”
Harry smiled, pleased to recognize the Guide's voice, slightly accented and well-versed in English. The connection was obviously bad on his end as Tiago seemed to be speaking rather loudly.
“Yes Tiago, thank you for calling. I'm sorry I had to take such extreme measures to find you.”
“Ah it is because we are friends then?”
“Yes. Captain Crane and I have a... situation which we think you may be able to help us with.”
The phone line was silent for a moment as Tiago considered what he could help them with short of another guided trail.
“I will do my best,” he replied.
“It concerns the Yaguarete.”
Another round of silence was heard as Harry waited for Tiago's response. When the Guide spoke again it was in lower tones.
“She has been active lately,” he replied. “She has taken many men recently,” he continued as Harry could tell he had taken the phone to a quiet place to speak privately. “She seems to be searching for something. She has taken men for sport, using them in the jungle for her desire, wounding and leaving without taking them to her lair. Many are avoiding her territory but she seems to be expanding her hunting grounds. Why do you ask, my friend?”
“She has... made contact with Crane again.”
Harry heard a mumbled curse, spoken in Tiago's native language.
“We need to know if this is unprecedented. Has she done this before?” Harry asked, getting to the crux of the matter.
“Not in my lifetime, but there are stories of old... stories about other Yaguarete,” the guide explained as Harry leaned forward in his chair.
“Go on,” the Admiral urged.
“The legend states that there have been other black panthers, but only one rules at a time. The panther before the Jungle Queen was said to look different, presenting her human-self much differently, though they both had the same fleshly desires for men. The previous panther was also said to be kinder and gentler, according to the legend.”
“What happened to the previous Yaguarete?”
“It is said her allotted time was up. Legend states that the Panther governs by some authority, not of this world. When she leaves she is allowed to take her possessions with her...”
“Supposing she is leaving the jungle...”
“Then another Yaguarete will be assigned.”
“Then she is seeking Crane to take with her,” Harry postulated, “But he has already rejected her.”
“Though it is just legend, our people believe that her paramour must go of his own free will.”
“How would they know this if a man's physical body is killed upon entering into her service?” Harry methodically inquired without emotion.
“It is said that legend is based in some measure of truth, however small that may be. The last Panther explained this fact to one of her men, he survived the poison and was returned. Though she wanted him, he chose not to go with her and brought back that part of the story to add to the lore.”
“We suspect she is trying to deceive Crane into accepting her,” Harry explained, hoping Tiago had some information to share to counter her ploy.
“The Legend does not speak of such things, so I do not know what to tell you,” the Guide replied.
“You've been of great help,” Harry encouraged, hearing the regret in Tiago's voice.
“I wish I knew more... but perhaps if not me one of the elders. I will travel to a village on the outskirts of the Jungle Queen's territory. There is an ancient woman, she is said to be the daughter of the man who was returned by the previous Panther. Perhaps she can tell us something.”
Harry's countenance brightened, it was just a chance but at present, the only chance they had.
“Anything you could find out would be appreciated... and be careful my friend,” Harry said sincerely for the man who had stayed by his side during Lee's ordeal in the jungle.
“I will leave in the morning. You can send funds to purchase a satellite phone?”
“Done. I'll send it to your account the minute I hang up.”
“Good. I will arrange for one tonight, it will be ready for me by morning. I will call you when I have something, it will be faster that way.”
“Thank you Tiago. I'm sending an overage of cash in case you must make other arrangements,” Harry indicated, knowing Tiago might need to offer extra incentives to get the help he needed.
“Very well, my friend. Good bye.”
Harry hung up, folding his hands together as he leaned over his desk. So it was true, Rainha was trying to deceive Lee into choosing her, but how did they fight an alien with no regard for anything but her own desires? Harry knew she had no sense of fair play, his only hope laid in the fact that the previous Panther had been different. He hoped that Rainha's character wasn't indicative of her race... perhaps whoever kept her in check would intervene. He didn't know for the life of him how he could possibly make contact with her superiors in another dimension, and threw out that option with a toss of his pen across his desk.
Harry checked his watch, picked up his phone and called his banker to transfer funds to Tiago.
Lee opened the door with a small smile, measured out with enough relief at seeing his good friend to hide his troubled state... or so he thought.
Harry stepped in as Lee closed the door and turned toward him, his eyes burning in question.
“Okay, spill it. What happened?”
Lee chuckled, shaking his head in mock disbelief as he relieved Harry of the bottle of wine he brought, looking over the label.
“Nice wine,” he noted, taking the bottle to the ice bucket he had prepared just for that purpose. He inserted the bottle and sighed, his shoulders heaving.
“Rainha was here again,” he said with his back still toward Harry.
“Alright,” Harry answered resolutely. “Let's talk.”
“I don't know if I can Harry...”
“I can't help you unless I know everything, Lee.”
Lee dipped his head and nodded, relenting to Harry's need to know. He reached to the wine, turning it in the ice and chuckling lightly.
“Don't know if this is going to be strong enough,” he jested suddenly wishing he had shot of whiskey, but then turned and sighed. “I took a nap and ended back up in the dream.”
He followed Harry to the living room as Lee took the sofa, while Harry took an adjacent chair. Lee leaned over with his forearms on his knees as he spoke.
“I didn't recognize her, Harry. It was like you and I never talked, I had no idea who she was and what she wanted.” He paused for a moment, not accustomed to kissing and telling. “It progressed much further this time,” he went on. “We were in the middle of... a mutually satisfying session when she said something. It was like a light bulb went on for me. Up until then, I was lost in my desire to have her.”
Lee shook his head. “No, it was desire, until...”
“Until you realized it was her?”
“I stopped, right before...” he abandoned the rest of the thought and continued. “...Threw on my clothes and left her bedroom. Instantly I was back in the cave, it seemed safe there and I collapsed. That's when I woke up here.”
“I know this isn't easy to talk about Lee, but I need all the pieces of the puzzle to deal with this.”
Lee nodded, raising his head and smiling slightly.
“Didn't know you had such a sex crazed kid running your Boat, did you?” He joked.
Harry waved him off and stood. “Smells like your charcoal is ready. Let's load the grill and I'll fill you in with what I found out.”
Lee nodded and headed to the kitchen, amazed at Harry's ability to put him at ease and give him hope.
They bypassed the deck, choosing the dining room for privacy. The view was breathtaking, though neither really noticed as Harry filled him in. Lee raised an eyebrow and shrugged his shoulders in understanding.
“So apparently Rainha's rule is coming to an end and she wants to take her toys with her?” Lee said in an all but too true statement.
“But it has to be by consent,” Harry qualified.
“Apparently how she obtains the consent is open,” Lee replied.
“We're assuming that part, Tiago will call tomorrow once he knows something. The village is on the outskirts of Rainha's territory, so he should be there by mid-morning. He's taking a satellite phone to save time on reporting.”
Lee smiled inwardly, pretty sure that Harry had shelled out the cash for that to happen.
“And this old woman is supposedly the daughter of the man that chose to stay and was returned?”
“Yes,” Harry said, picking up the wine glass and finishing off the contents. “Tiago feels she might have some knowledge passed onto her that will help.”
“Okay, so what now?”
“Let's talk about the cave,” Harry said, sitting back, the remains of their meal still on the table between them.
“It's where I feel the safest... where I hear your voice the strongest.”
“Kind of like a safe zone,” Harry reasoned.
“I guess, it's right in the middle of the two scenes.”
“The bedroom and the beautiful woman on the rocks,” Harry clarified.
“But I have no control where the dream begins. I just got inserted into the bedroom with the woman I've been chasing for the last two weeks. It's like I have what I've been pursuing and we're just taking the next step.”
Harry nodded slowly, his bottom lip curled slightly in thought.
“I think we're at a standstill until we hear from Tiago. Are you sure you don't need me here tonight?”
“No, it doesn't matter if I'm asleep or awake she can still make contact and I'm not going to let her disrupt both our lives like this.”
“Alright, I figured as much,” Harry said standing and picking up his plate. “Let me help you clear this away.”
Lee started to protest his guest helping with the dishes and quickly amended the thought. Harry wasn't just a guest... he was family.
Rainha stalked the Amazon jungle looking for a conquest. Crane had managed to leave her unfulfilled twice, this last time had been even more difficult for her over-ripe libido to accept. Even veiled behind her deceptive disguise she had been completely affected by the erotic moments as he ran his hands across her body. He probed deeply with his tongue as he kissed her and just as deeply as he fingered her delights. His manhood had been strong and hard, long and pleasing as he teased his way in slowly, eliciting satisfying moans from her lips. He was well on his way to a climax when he suddenly recognized her and stopped the process, refusing to unload his seed within her, thereby sealing the contract with his come as proof of his consent.
No drugs. She wasn't allowed to use her usual means of gaining what she wanted, he had to come of his own desire. There were some other legalities but she intended on bypassing them, as she knew this was a loophole which would pass for consent.
She had brought him along closer to his climax this time, he was almost ready. The next time perhaps... but until then she had sufficiently worked up an appetite for a man so she had returned to the jungle to stalk her prey.
She was prowling as the Black Panther, her eyes just as green in this form. Her tail danced behind her, revealing her pleasure of the hunt as she spotted a young man at the river. The native's muscles were taut from living a life of subsistence and his skin deliciously bronzed by the sun. By his broad shoulders she could tell he was one of the hunters, used to carrying a spear and most certainly deadly with his aim. His hair was long, reaching his shoulders and since he was currently fishing in the stream, was wearing only a loin cloth. A pleasing view from behind as his buttock cheeks peeked out from under the modesty panel the natives wore. He was holding his spear watching the water ready to strike at a fish, the pose causing his muscles to flex pleasingly. She licked her panther lips and crouched low but then sat back on her haunches trilling her displeasure. He was only nineteen, old enough by her standards but short one birthday for the Rules of Conquest.
She growled her disappointment; she would have to stalk another. She was after satisfaction. She would take her prey in a heated sexual exchange in the jungle, but had no intention of taking him to her lair. She only had the power to hold one man at a time and she was saving that spot for Crane. Likewise, she couldn't kill him after her satisfaction was complete, not if she wasn't taking him to her lair. This was troublesome because it meant she couldn't devour his flesh as the Panther after she copulated. She therefore, had to accept a partial hunt, injuring her quarry but not to the point of death.
She prowled further and found another fisherman. He would do, not as inviting as the younger man but he was legal. She pranced on her front paws, settling in with hunched shoulders, her haunches raised high in the air ready to pounce. When the time was right she was upon her chosen prey, the fear in his eyes fading with the swipe of her claw as she injected the paralyzing drug. She dragged him out of the river and transformed over him, descending to satisfy the passion Crane had ignited in her but left unsatisfied with his rejection. She took her frustration out on the native, taking him crudely and selfishly. When she was finished taking to fulfill her own needs she transformed back into the Panther, swiping him on the shoulder. Her attack invoked a loud cry as she made her mark then pounced through the dense forest, her desires satisfied for the moment. Her satisfied feral growl filled the dense jungle air, silencing all other sounds and leaving the natives in fear. She laughed at the power she had over them and relished her climax still tingling inside her body.
Satisfied in every way, she would return to her lair to rejuvenate... before visiting Crane again.
Rainha watched Crane sleep, his sheet was pulled low producing a pleasing outline at his pelvis. She needed something to take Crane over the edge, to cause him to finish in a heat of passion before he recognized her. This would be tricky because she couldn't invoke the use of her paralysis drug or her aphrodisiac. But she still had an option that would be legal; a way to keep him from waking while she manipulated his physical body, taking him close to ejaculation and readying him for her real purpose. It would be legal as he would still make his decision to copulate without the drugs forcing him. Another loop hole, she thought slyly and eased her way over, veiled in her alter dimensional form whose movements wouldn't be detected by the occasional secret agent. She transformed into the Black Panther and extended a single claw, then raked her razor sharp nail across his shoulder producing a flinch of pain, accompanied with a gasp, immediately followed by the strong sleep drug. She watched him move deeper into a drug induced sleep and transformed back into Rainha, The Jungle Queen.
She lowered herself to sit on the bed beside him, staying in this reality and refusing to veil herself as the petite woman of Crane's dreams. This satisfaction she would take in her true form as she reached for his sheets and slowly pulled them back. She took in his lean but fit form on his shirtless body and placed her palm on his flat stomach with just the right amount of body hair tickling under her touch at his naval. She caressed his body in small waves, relishing the muscles under her touch then ran her hand down to his pelvic bones peeking out just above the waistline of his pajama pants.
Ahhh, she remembered so well why he excited her, his physique was so tantalizing.
She slid both hands under the elastic waistline and pulled his pants and underwear down at the same time, exposing his relaxed manhood. She practically purred her approval and looked to his face, curious to his reaction as she handled him, fondling for her own pleasure as much as his. His face remained expressionless, even as he tossed his head slightly, too drugged to swim out from his slumber.
His shaft became a strong rod as she wrapped her hand around him and pulled up and down. His lips parted as an airy breath eased out, his body pleasured even if he was too drugged to appreciate it. She enlisted both hands, spiraling up and down as her own body responded with her nipples hardening. Her womanhood tickled its call, begging her to mount him and ride his manhood to completion. But that would violate the Rules, it wouldn’t count toward his consent to be her inamorato. She could however, bring him so close to his ejaculation that when she came to him in his dream he would be too excited to stop. He would release his seed before he even recognized her. Then she would become the Panther, devour his flesh and take his essence to her own dimension to be her slave forever.
The thought of her power over Crane excited her, as more moans passed through his mouth, groans which excited her more and more as she continued to work his manhood. She couldn’t take it any longer, she had to taste him. She leaned over licking his long shaft down to his scrotum and then back up to the tip before sliding it in her mouth. The seeping semen ignited her passion so she stopped, resuming with her hands as his head tossed and his stomach muscles tightened. She watched as the passion reached his face even in his drugged state and smiled at his reaction. He would enjoy her touch, she demanded it! She kept pulling forgetting her plan to stop just in time as she went too far. His neck stretched back in ecstasy as a throaty groan made its way out in conjunction with the explosion of his manhood. Rainha’s passion turned to anger as she continued stroking him, milking his seed out past a pleasant completion till his forehead crinkled distressfully and he grunted in painful overstimulation. She continued till his grunt turned to a painful cry… only then did she release him.
She stood over him licking her fingers clean as he tossed his head to the other side, still too drugged to wake and respond to the unsolicited and most certainly, unwanted handling of his body from his tormentor. Her plans for him were ruined, he wouldn’t be fooled by her tonight, so she leaned down grabbing his chin in her hand and landed a hard probing kiss into his unresponsive mouth.
“I will take you tomorrow, My Handsome Man,” she promised. “And you will beg for my pleasures.”
Then she spotted the deep cut she made with her claw and the line of blood dripping from his shoulder down his rib cage. Rainha leaned over, transforming into the Black Panther and slowly licked the dripping crimson fluid up to the wound, savoring the taste of his life's blood then purred in his ear. Her whiskers brushed against his face before she turned and leapt, disappearing into another dimension in the middle of her stride.
Lee woke the next morning feeling groggy and reached for his shoulder. The pain brought him to his senses as he tried to move and then realized that his pajama pants were pulled down and his privates exposed. As he reached to cover himself he felt the remains of dried semen and sat up wondering what the hell was going on. It wasn’t like he was some inexperienced teenage boy having wet dreams on his bed after looking at a girly magazine. He started to stand and reached for his shoulder, the pain suddenly bringing all the pieces together. He headed to the bathroom to see if he was right and looked in the mirror. The long scratch was deep, and he had enough trips to Sickbay to recognize the after effects of a strong sedative, then there was the obvious ejaculation.
Damn. Would he ever be free of Rainha?
He sighed heavily and shed his pajamas, tossing them in the garbage can by the sink, not because they were soiled but because she had soiled them. He ran a hot steamy shower and washed away the remains of her power-play over him. He was sure that’s what it was; she had pleasured him without his consent to show her perceived superiority... to show she could. He determined within himself not to let her win. Somehow he’d find a way to be free of the Jungle Queen forever.
Lee headed to work. He needed to stay busy and the Institute would be where Tiago called Harry. He was anxious to find out what the Amazon Guide discovered. The time difference was negligible at only three hours, so he expected an answer before noon.
In another hemisphere, Tiago made his way into the village to meet Ohtli, the most senior of the elders in this small village. He brought gifts befitting her title of elder and hoped she would grant him the visit. Of course, he offered gifts to her family as well and they were only too happy to introduce her to the generous outsider, though native to the land he was still not of the people of this village. He sat outside her hut and waited patiently as a small woman of only 4'7” joined him. Tiago stood to greet her, bowing his head until she asked him to sit. Proper manners were very important when visiting the elders, as the ancient ones were a rarity and seen as “blessed” to grow in years past the age of sixty. An elder the age of ninety-eight was seen as a gift to the village both for the wisdom she had to offer and the expectation that her presence would also bring blessings to the village.
Her short stature was most probably the result of years of bones loss, as Tiago guessed she was much taller as a young lady, perhaps even five feet tall. Her face was wrinkled like leather, and much of her teeth gone, but her eyes still twinkled and he soon found her mind was still sharp.
“You wish to speak of the Yaguarete?” She asked after the proper gifts had been offered and accepted.
“If it pleases you,” Tiago qualified. “I wish to speak of another black panther, the panther that took your father.”
Her eyes tightened, causing her deep crow feet wrinkles to crease even more.
“That is little spoken of here.”
“If it pleases you, I ask on behalf of a friend. He was taken by the present Yaguarete...”
“Rainha.” Ohtli snarled, spitting on the ground afterwards. “She is an evil one, that one.”
Tiago nodded. “My friend was saved by his Watcher, but she has returned and has traveled many miles to take him again. We believe her time is coming to an end and she seeks to take him with her.”
Ohtli sat back, rocking back and forth and staring out into the jungle. Tiago wasn't sure if she had just shut down, refusing to answer any more questions. He was wise, however, holding his peace until she turned her eyes back to him and spoke once more.
“I will tell you what my father told me, in his elder days,” she said in a near whisper as Tiago leaned forward to listen.
Lee sat forward in the guest chair in Harry's office as Tiago spoke over the intercom. The call had come hours later than expected as Tiago couldn't stop and make the phone call until he was well away from the village and had found suitable clearance for a good satellite signal.
Ohtli had advised him that a man had been taken in their village just the day before and then another in the middle of the night, entering a hut in an unprecedented attack as she rarely crossed the fires that guarded their village at night. The copulation had been vicious as she attacked the man before taking him in a wild unbridled sexual frenzy. Upon finishing, she transformed into the cat and licked his deep wounds savoring not only the blood but his fear before leaving him with far more damage than her previous victims.
The villagers were fearful of Rainha but were reluctant to hunt her trail for fear she would target one of the hunters. Indeed, if Tiago had stated his intended conversation he may not have gotten past her relatives, despite the gifts he presented. But Ohtli had compassion, having heard stories from her father, certainly not of the private details of his capture but of his conversation with the Yaguarete.
“The villagers believe that she is supernatural, but Ohtli knows she is of another world. It is a physical world but not in our realm. Though the villagers believe differently, she insists that Rainha is not a deity. Her father explained that her people are inherently aggressive, ambitious, even ruthlessly competitive. All of their emotions work through their paradigm of Conquest, as such they are particularly affected in the area of sensuality. There is a movement among her people to seek to contain their aggressive tendencies, but it defies their natural state and is viewed as subversive. They rule throughout the stars as Rainha rules here, in small governorships as their competitive nature makes them better suited to live apart from their own race,” Tiago relayed in his well-articulated account of his conversation.
Harry nodded, likening their behavior to the Siamese Fighting Fish commonly known as Bettas, aggressive and better apart from their own species unless mating. Two males in the same tank will likely fight and kill the other as will two females trying to establish pecking order, though they don't prefer complete isolation from other species and thrive in the right colony, even in a fish tank.
“As a people they are proud and feel their superiority over their subjects. They in fact, crave dominancy,” Tiago continued. “Those who have learned to control their aggressive traits rule with a better temperament than others, but many are cruel like Rainha. To guide their actions they are governed by a set of rules of conduct, without them they would likely self-destruct, killing each other off in their quest to rule. While the rules may not seem just to us, they do prevent complete tyranny.”
Lee exchanged a glance with Harry at that last remark, as it would appear that even the definition of tyranny was in debatable.
“Ohtli agrees that Rainha's recent activities may indicate that her time of rule is over. She regrets that she can offer no way to fight as their powers exceed our attempts to even hunt her panther form. Once danger is perceived she has but to move to her own realm to rejuvenate.”
Harry noticed Lee's shoulders round upon that last statement as Tiago finished his briefing, with the sounds of the jungle birds heard in the background as he spoke.
“However Ohtli offers this one hope...”
Lee raised his eyes to meet Harry's as they listened intently.
“Her father told her that the change of power always occurs on a full moon. If Crane is successful in denying her past the full moon she will be forced to leave without him, if.... she is in fact leaving,” he qualified.
“I'm amazed at the information you were able to gain, Tiago,” Harry complimented.
“Ohtli tells me that her father gained the respect of the previous Jungle Queen. It started with her desire for him as a young man, but he was not of age. So she watched him from afar, until he reached the legal age of Conquest...”
“Which was?” Harry asked out of curiosity.
“Twenty rainy seasons,” he answered, reverting back to the counting of years in the jungle. “By the time she took him she had developed a great respect for him. To say that she loved him would not be correct, their emotions are not like ours, but she had a greater sense of fair play than most of her people. She knew that Rainha was coming to govern in her stead and that she would rule harshly. So she shared her knowledge with Ohtli's father including some of the rules. One such rule is that a lower being with self-knowledge cannot be taken from their home world against their will. Her father chose to stay and brought back with him a good deal of the legend lore of the Jungle Queen,” he finished.
“Amazing,” Harry observed. “We're in your debt, Tiago. Feel free to contact me if you have anything else to add, and thank you,” Harry replied.
“I thank you as well, Tiago,” Lee added.
“Friendship is a good thing,” Tiago observed. “It is too bad that Rainha's people cannot see beyond their own aggressive ambitions. Be well my friend,” he offered and signed off.
Lee sat back wearily.
“So that's it. The full moon rises tonight.”
Harry nodded. “I wish we had something more to fight with,
“It's alright Harry. Like you said… we’ve beaten her before.”
Harry leaned over with his hands folded over the desk in a clasp.
“Lee, I know you've already declined my offer to stay at your house, but I'm afraid I must insist. There's too much riding on tonight's encounter.”
Lee raised an eyebrow. “Maybe she's lost interest...”
Harry raised his own eyebrow with an accompanying scowl.
“Alright Harry, you win,” he said standing.
“What are you going to do?” Harry asked, noting a bit of reticence on his part.
Lee turned and offered a weak smile. “I think I'm going to take a little walk around the Boat.”
Harry watched him leave, sitting back and thinking, looking for any angle they hadn't considered and some way to beat a sexually aggressive alien from another dimension. The thought of Lee being forced to be her sex slave for the rest of his life disgusted him as his resolve strengthened.
“Not on my Watch,” he said out loud and leaned forward to brainstorm some way to beat Rainha, the Jungle Queen.
Rainha watched her handsome man walking the submarine wistfully, as if it was his last time and smiled. He excited her, even her tendencies for revenge hadn't lessened her lust and desire for his pleasures. She wondered how long he would keep the fire in his eyes, as that defiance added to his appeal. The more he fought the greater the conquest, the greater the satisfaction. She allowed her essence to breathe through the corridor he was walking and watched his response.
Good. He could feel her. He knew she was watching him.
She smiled a predatory smile and walked toward him, passing through him in her other dimensional form and relishing the shudder in his body.
“Soon my handsome man, I will come to you soon,” she whispered in a cool breath as she passed through his body then disappeared to her jungle lair to prepare for the final conquest.
Lee had found a measure of peace walking through his beloved boat. Seaview was like a soothing ointment on an open wound as he walked her corridors. There were few crewmen working with only a couple of maintenance projects in progress and only an occasional security guard patrolling from the deck watch. He was heading to Engineering when he felt a cold breeze move through the corridor, as he stopped in mid-step to consider the draft which carried an ominous foreboding feel. It was only a second later when he felt her pass through his body, causing a reflexive shudder as the two dimensions came into contact with one another and then sighed in relief when she went on her way.
He knew it was Rainha, he recognized her essence. He was tired of the mind-games and power-plays, so he squared his shoulders and ignored her intrusion, continuing on his way without giving her the satisfaction of another thought.
Harry and Lee had a relaxing dinner. They didn't speak of Rainha, conquest hungry aliens, or other dimensions. They spent the evening enjoying their friendship; one that had been forged through many difficulties, most countered by equally hard fought victories. They had saved the world, saved the ocean, saved the Boat, and even a few marine species along the way. He had found a surprising paternal relationship in their friendship and valued being Harriman Nelson's son. This is what he wanted to dwell on this evening, whatever happened Rainha couldn’t take this away from him.
They were sitting with their feet propped on the coffee table, Lee from the sofa and Harry from the chair, like two bachelors unfettered by a woman of the house’s complaints about where they rested their feet, when Harry decided coffee would be nice.
“You sit down,” Harry half-ordered. “I know my way around your kitchen,” he finished with an easy grin when Lee tried to get up to make the coffee. Lee sat back and fired off a three fingered Boy Scout salute, resting his head back on the sofa momentarily content, but that moment was over too soon as he felt a sudden coldness. He recognized its source and started to call out when everything went instantly black.
The Watcher left the room as Rainha appeared behind the sofa where her chosen man sat. Now was the time, while he was relaxed and at peace. She leaned over and whispered in his ear, the two dimensions colliding with a cool breath that made him shudder. He started to call the Watcher when she snatched him back to the dream.
She had created a place shielded from his other reality, all he knew was this moment; the days of pursuing the beautiful woman, her longing call to him, his desire to have her in his arms. She created a place of yearning, a moment where their overwhelming mutual desires could be played out as two “lovers” indulging in an exciting rendezvous of passion.
He wanted her, yearned for her as he had never yearned for a woman before. He called to her on the rocks and she turned to him. She finally heard him and turned! He loved her instantly and ran to her, taking her face gently into his hands, gazing deeply into her eyes and seeing her longing, he lowered his mouth to deliver the kiss he’d wanted to give for so long. The wind wrapped around the two as they embraced, picking them up as in a whirlwind of love and desire. The wind whispered her name into his hear… Marissa... and it was like he’d known her forever, loved her forever. The whirlwind deposited the two lovers in the pure white room, bypassing the cave where the waves crashed loudly on the rocks, to a place where only their love and desire existed. He reached up and loosened her hair letting it cascade down her shoulders as he cupped her delicate neck, running his thumb over her cheek.
Lee was entranced by her, his longing for her pressing against his pants as he reached and felt the softness of her bare back. His hand slid down the small of her back, then back up to her shoulders as he slowly pulled the straps of her gown down. Her shoulders rounded, allowing the dress to fall unfettered while he helped the process by gently tugging the bodice downward. He reached for her neck, nuzzling in tantalizing erotic kisses while he cupped her soft breast and gently kneaded. She leaned in closer, to feel his excited manhood pressing against her leg until he lowered his hands sliding the dress over her hips till it puddled on the floor about her feet. His passion was great as he scooped up her near naked body and carried her to the bed, laying her gently down as he cascaded more kisses down her neck and to her breasts. Only a small triangle of her panties was left as he slid his hand downward. Her body arched in delight, unbuttoning his shirt and running appreciative hands down his chest. He reached for a probing kiss as she slid the shirt off his shoulders, delighting in the tautness of his muscles flexing under her fingers.
She discarded his shirt on the floor and reached for his belt buckle, working between his heated ravishing of her breasts, licking and sucking until her nipples were sharp and hard. He rose up, watching her eyes as she unbuttoned his pants and freed his zipper, then slid her hand inside to feel his strong manhood pulsating between her hand and his pants. She rubbed up and down as he breathed heavily in her ear, his excitement building. He mounted her, his pants still in place, as she slid her hands to the back and guided them down his buttocks, feeling the firmness of his tight butt beneath her fingers.
Her touch urged him on. It was like they had been looking for each other forever, and now that they finally connected their passions were overwhelming. It was the most heated expression of his sensuality he had ever felt before, like he had been saving this special part of himself for the woman of his dreams. That knowledge made him yearn for her even more, igniting the already hot intense moment as he kissed and licked his way down to her pelvis, stopping to remove her panties and gazing with appreciation at her treasure spot.
“I want you, Lee,” she breathed out. “I need you to touch me,” she urged in whispery breaths fueled by her own pleasure. Her longing spurred more energy into his lovemaking as he lowered himself to give her ultimate pleasure, using his tongue to probe and lick the softness of her womanhood, tantalizing until she writhed in delight. Her moans increased his excitement, her taste intriguing and calling him to bring her to completion. Her fingers found his head and ran across his hair, sending quivers down his back as she wiggled beneath him until she erupted in pleasure. She let out a scream that was as erotic and beautiful as the wind that had beckoned him, while he relished the delight he was able to give her as she rode out waves of orgasmic pleasure. He kissed his way up as she breathed heavily, still affected by the intense climax and urgently needing him inside, to thrust while she was still sensitive. She reached hungrily for his pants and slid them completely down his hips, kicking them out of her way with her feet as he helped the process along.
Her longing for him only fueled his desire more, his Marissa... his beloved. He positioned himself against her private place as the lips of her womanhood parted, welcoming him inside. Her insistent hands pushed him deeper as she held him by his hips. He was long and his reach was deep, he filled her so completely that she could feel another orgasm peaking with his deep thrusts. Her hands ran up and down his back until she bucked under him, culminating again and digging her nails into his shoulders in heated passion. Her nails only intensified his own pleasure as Lee stretched his neck up, ready to thrust to his own completion...
Harry walked back into the living room carrying a tray with coffee and two mugs, setting them on the coffee table. At first he thought Lee had fallen asleep on the sofa, probably worn out from lack of sleep until he noted his unresponsiveness. Lee was an ONI Agent, not one to sleep so hard that he didn't notice when his guest returned to the room. Harry was concerned so he sat beside him, a move that should have woken Lee immediately.
“Lee,” he called with a small shake of the shoulders. Lee's arm slid off his lap in complete lack of consciousness and hung limply beside him.
“Damn it all!” Harry yelled, realizing that Rainha had taken Lee and that he was lost in the dream at this very moment, a place where he didn't know what reality was... a place where she could deceive him into wanting her.
Harry shook Lee almost violently.
“Lee listen to me, it's Rainha. Do you hear me? It's Rainha!”
Lee was still anchored to his physical body, though his essence was in a different dimension, as such he was only slightly affected by Harry's insistent shaking. His lips parted and a whispery voice breathed out “Marissa.” Harry's eyes widened, understanding Rainha's ploy.
“No Lee, she isn't real. The woman of your dreams isn't real. Marissa means “of the sea.” Remember Lee?” Harry urged slapping his cheeks not so gently to reach him. “Remember I told you that she's trying to call you as the sea calls to you. She's not Marissa, she's Rainha,” Harry yelled in a near panic.
“Fight it Lee, she's not real! It's Rainha!”
Lee looked down at his beautiful Marissa as he thrusted in satisfying strokes, taking in a pleasure he had never known before as if the moment was ordained to be. His need to fill her became powerfully strong until a rush of wind burst open the door to their love chamber. The sounds of the ocean waves beat loudly as if a hurricane had blown in. The waves were troublesome, pounding as if it would tear down the walls of the bedroom itself, as Lee reacted with a blink. Impending danger kept him from finishing his all too close climax as he stopped his thrusts to assess the danger.
“Nothing can harm us in here my love,” Marissa urged. “Please do not be concerned my dearest.”
But the waves were insistent, they beat upon his ears and his heart as violently as they beat upon the walls of their chamber. The pounding was beginning to hurt as Lee withdrew from her pleasure spot.
“Don't stop Lee,” she begged as he blinked again until the waves found their voice.
“Fight it Lee, she's not real! It's Rainha!”
The voice of the wave was strong and insistent, as Lee realized that the impending danger wasn't in the waves crashing against the room, but in the woman lying beneath him.
“Rainha,” he breathed out between heavy breaths, the result of the passionate indulgence of only a moment ago.
Instantly he knew the danger as he flung himself off the bed, reached for his pants and ran for the door.
“You will pay for this!” He heard as Rainha's voice was clearly heard and no longer hidden under Marissa's guise, her threat clearly perceived.
Lee found himself back in the cave, his safe spot, collapsing even before he could put his clothes on.
Harry shook Lee one more time, feeling he had lost his son to Rainha's seductive deception when he suddenly blinked his eyes open and breathed heavily.
“Lee? Are you back Lad?”
Relief flooded Harry's senses as he realized that he had reached his son in time. Lee was almost too weak to speak but managed to breathe out a few words.
“Almost fell for it... barely heard you... in time,” he explained as Harry smiled widely, feeling they had beaten the Jungle Queen at her own game... until a dark foreboding coldness fell upon him, instantly followed by a growl and a heap of a black cat leaping for Harry.
The Black Panther materialized out of thin air in the middle of her leaping stride, tackling Harry and sending him across the room in one powerful blow. His painful scream filled the air as she raised her claw and swiped deeply across Harry's chest, eliciting a cry of pain as she injected her paralysis drug, leaving him unable to move and yet completely aware of his pain.
The attack happened quickly as Lee barely had time to cry out Harry's name when Rainha turned and in one leap descended over the top of him. He raised his arm attempting to keep her powerful jaws from descending on his throat when she bit harshly, puncturing his forearm and breaking bones in her powerful jaws as he screamed in pain. She raised up and growled loudly, swiping his other arm, leaving a deep gash and making his limbs nearly unusable in his defense. He reacted in pain which fueled her attack bringing her sharp fangs inches from his throat as he lost his grip. She hovered over him, her hot panther breath blowing on his neck and hundreds of pounds of muscled mass weighing him down. He thought she was going to rip his throat out when she opted for another target, digging her teeth deeply into his shoulder blade as he screamed in pain.
“Lee!” Harry yelled from his place, paralyzed but able to see the devastating attack.
The attack left Lee bleeding heavily as she struck again, swiping his rib cage as he struggled violently to get out from under her. She swiped one last time, injecting the paralysis drug on his other shoulder as Harry yelled, unable to help.
The Panther leaned close to his face, morphing partially into Rainha's human face but still holding onto her panther characteristics.
“Now Crane, I'm going to kill your Watcher and there's nothing you can do to stop me,” she said with her human voice followed by a cat's purr. “And when I'm through I'm going to take you one last time then devour your flesh for dessert,” she said morphing back to a complete panther and licking her snout in anticipation.
“No Rainha!” Lee pleaded as she walked slowly toward Harry, every muscle in her Panther body flexing in a deliberate stalk. She settled over Harry placing a heavy paw on his already damaged chest with her claws extended just enough to puncture his skin beneath her weight. She pressed heavily, causing him to gasp, then growled ferociously over her prey. She bore her teeth ready to sink lower as Lee yelled again.
“Please Rainha NO!” he begged, his humility the only weapon he had left, bleeding and unable to move as she threatened Harry. She turned toward Lee and roared her victory then bore her teeth again, lowering herself to rip Harry's throat out.
“I'll go with you!” Lee relented capitulating in utter surrender. “Please just leave him alone,” he pleaded as the Panther turned toward him. “I'll do whatever you want,” he promised as the Panther licked her lips as if considering her options and pleased with his forced submission. She purred, raising herself from her attack position and changing back into Rainha, the Jungle Queen.
“We must seal the contract,” she said walking toward him.
“I know,” he said, still unable to move.
“No Lee!” Harry called weakly, his wound across his chest causing him considerable pain. But Lee had no regrets. If this is what it took to save Harry, then so be it.
Her chosen man was still under the paralysis drug, so Rainha knew she would have to take him in the dream for his consent to be legal.
“If you fail me, I will kill your Watcher.”
Rainha smiled in victory and moved toward him as Harry called one last time, begging him not to give her what she wanted. Their eyes connected only briefly before Rainha took him back to the dream.
She deposited him back in the middle of the heated exchange, as Rainha appeared once again as Lee's woman of the sea. All the powerfully charged eroticism of their earlier sexual experience was still in place, though she left his memories intact. She decided that he would come within her with the full knowledge of his agreement, enjoying the victory of his enslavement. He was near his completion when the waves beat upon the room as before but he ignored it, knowing it was the only way to save Harry.
“Finish it, fill me up!” She demanded crudely as Lee concentrated to perform knowing he was sealing his own fate to spend the rest of his life with a cruel alien woman he abhorred. His feelings for the man he considered a father were greater than his hatred for Rainha, so he allowed his climax to reach its apex, closing his eyes while he sealed the contract ejaculating deep within her.
“Ahhhh.” Rainha groaned out her hard fought victory at the pleasure his hot come produced. The conquest had been a good one, now she would take his physical body as the Panther's prey, she would savor his flesh as her final reward.
Lee rolled off her, laying an arm over his eyes with the knowledge of the doomed existence he had agreed upon as Rainha rose up from the bed.
“I will collect you later,” she informed him, leaving Lee's essence in the dream so she could claim his body.
It had only been a few minutes ago that Rainha disappeared taking Lee's consciousness with her. His physical body was slumped on the sofa and bleeding out of multiple wounds. Harry tested his limbs, finding some limited movement, perhaps the result of her inability to take more than one man at a time. Harry knew once Lee agreed “officially” she would be back to consume his body, so he put every bit of strength into his weakened body and dragged himself across the floor. The movement took everything he had and he found himself too weak to pull himself up to the sofa, so he draped his arm over Lee's legs. He was the Watcher and Rainha would have to go through him to get to his son. Only a few minutes passed before her cold presence caused him to shudder.
“Move aside Watcher,” she ordered, standing in her human form.
“No. His consent was forced. I stand by my right to watch over him,” Harry demanded.
“Then I will devour both of you,” she snarled transforming into the Black Panther with a hiss.
She moved in for the kill as Harry stood his ground with a weak hold on Lee's legs. The Panther moved only an inch from Harry's face and roared, baring all her teeth in a heated breath and ready to consume him first. The fear of imminent death was ignored as Harry tightened his lips in an angry snarl of determination, when all of the sudden the Panther was interrupted by a freezing presence that stopped her immediately.
She transformed back to a woman and turned around as Harry saw yet another woman, obviously of the same dimension.
“Killing a Watcher is strictly forbidden,” the dark headed woman warned as Harry watched the confrontation.
“He is no longer the Watcher, my paramour agreed to come, his seed is as binding as blood,” Rainha challenged, seemingly not intimidated by the newcomer.
“I am still his Watcher,” Harry intervened boldly. “He only agreed to her demands to save my life, that isn't consensual, it's not free will.”
“You are one who speaks with authority,” the newcomer observed. “I am Amoretta. Tell me Watcher, your ties to her chosen man are not by blood, yet you call him son. What does this mean?”
“It means he is the son of my heart,” Harry answered as Rainha crossed her arms defiantly.
“It changes nothing,” Rainha interrupted. “He is guilty of interfering with my right to claim the physical body of my chosen man.”
“Rainha,” Amoretta said, addressing her counterpart. “Your activities have long been under observation. While your seduction and conquest of your chosen man was... exciting to observe, it did not meet the requirements of the Rules.”
“He agreed!” Rainha challenged.
“Your deceptive seduction was legal, it matters not what form you seal the contract in, but your attack on the Watcher cannot be overlooked. Moreover, you would have killed him had I not intervened. This is troublesome as your territory has now been defiled. You will not be allowed to take the one the Watcher claims and you have lost your territory. But you have lost even more,” Amoretta declared, her approach becoming more forceful and threatening as she continued.
“The ground of your territory cries out for vengeance. When the ground no longer welcomes us we must abandon the territory. This planet has long since been a desired post and there were many who were anxious to pass your judgement for losing ground to the lower species.”
“I will contest your ruling in the Chambers of our Laws.”
“You gave up that right when you attacked the Watcher. I have been given the privilege of passing judgement,” she declared.
“I beat you before Amoretta, winning my right to rule here.”
“You will find me a much greater challenge now, Rainha,” she countered transforming into an even larger Black Panther.
“Ready yourself to die Amoretta,” Rainha declared transforming to her black beast as the two issued hisses at one another with the hair on their backs raised in combative intimidation. Harry was merely an observer of the two warriors and again likened their aggression to the Betta fish, warring over territory and mating rights.
In a flash Amoretta was upon Rainha as the two panthers rolled in an intertwined battle of claws and jaws, with the sounds of two great cats in a fierce battle filling the room as they crashed into furniture. They growled, screamed, howled and trilled in displeasure as they entangled themselves, swiping their giant paws with claws fully extended. Sharp teeth produced blood and more hair-raising cat screams as Harry struggled to stay out of the fray, still on the floor by Lee's legs. The attack was fierce but Amoretta was stronger, being the larger cat and with an obvious advantage of prowess and skill. She injured Rainha multiple times before going for the kill with a lunge for her throat, grabbing and shaking her neck in a fury, ripping flesh until Rainha's panther form lay in a lifeless heap. Amoretta released her hold and licked her lips, the battle obviously filling an inherent aggressive tendency in her warrior being. She roared victoriously over Rainha's lifeless panther body, then sat back on her haunches before transforming into a woman. Harry watched, not sure about the final outcome concerning himself or Lee, and waited for her to speak.
“You have guarded well Watcher. Your son will be returned to you.”
With that Lee groaned, his essence returning to his physical body and to the pain inflicted upon it.
“We will leave your planet,” Amoretta declared clearly not pleased with the loss of territory. “The Rules of Conquest demand it,” she explained. “I have one request of you Watcher.” Harry nodded slightly, willing to hear her request while still holding a protective arm across Lee's legs.
“The one called Ohtli, the Keeper of the Lore...”
“I know of her.”
“Tell her the Legend is over. The Jungle Queen is dead and the Yaguarete are no more. It is because she is the offspring of my chosen man that I tell her this,” she explained in what Harry perceived to be a moment of vulnerability, one that Amoretta's people did not engage in naturally and pondered if she had discovered the unfamiliar and powerful emotion of love, though he perceived she didn't understand it.
“I will tell her.”
Amoretta cocked her head slightly, admiring the features of Lee's face as she traced his jaw bone with her hand.
“I can see Rainha's interest in this one,” she admitted with a raised eyebrow then disappeared, taking Rainha's body and the coldness of her dimension with her.
Lee moaned again, his multiple injuries invoking considerable pain and blood loss as his head tossed in agony.
“It's over Lee... It's over son,” Harry said, but Lee never woke. He was bleeding profusely from multiple wounds as Harry knew they were left on their own to survive the attack.
“What has she done to you, Lee?” He asked rhetorically, regretfully taking in his battered body. He gathered his strength, having recuperated slightly and rose shakily making his way to the telephone. He managed to dial 911 before collapsing on the floor from his own injuries.
News reporters clamored behind police lines as the first aid responders rolled out two gurneys, placing them into waiting ambulances.
“911 responded to a call at this exclusive hillside residence, finding two injured men in what appears to be a mountain lion attack. While large cat sightings aren't unusual to our area, attacks are more rare. What is unusual is the fact that the attack apparently occurred inside the house as the cougar, possibly two cats, entered through a likely open door. The two victims are being treated for multiple wounds and are being taken to Mercy Hospital for treatment. Residents are urged to keep a watchful eye on their children and to bring their pets inside until the authorities can track down the animals responsible. This is Rebecca Hartley reporting. Now back to the newsroom...”
Lee felt warmth but he kept his eyes closed, not ready to open them just yet. He had no idea what to expect in Rainha's true dimension and fought to regain full awareness before “greeting” his new life. As he lay there he became aware of a soft bed, bright light filtering across his face and the smell of something sterile and familiar. It was too much to hope for, but he opened his eyes and swallowed hard realizing he was in a hospital bed.
He expelled a deep breath finding Harry beside him, his arm in a sling and wearing a robe, obviously under medical care himself. His eyes watered though he managed to keep the tear inside, at the utter relief of seeing Harry alive and the surprising revelation that he wasn't Rainha's prisoner.
Harry swallowed hard, caught up in the same emotionally charged moment as he reached for Lee's hand in a clasp, his touch proof of his next words.
“You're home Lad,” he managed to croak out as he looked over Lee's damaged body. He was wrapped in gauze across his side, left arm and right shoulder. His left shoulder was wrapped and immobilized having been damaged by a deep tearing bite. His right arm was in a cast and lay across his body in a sling, leaving him unable to move even if he had wanted to.
“She's gone Lee, and she's never coming back, Son. I guarantee it.”
Lee swallowed hard, his eyes closing as the tear he managed to hold back earlier finally made its way out, his weakened condition due to blood loss and the resulting pain medication making his emotions all too raw.
“Just rest Lad, I'll tell you all about it later,” Harry promised as Lee squeezed, returning the grasp on Harry's hand, before allowing the drugs to take him to a safe, restful sleep.
Lee sat in Harry's office, his broken arm still in a cast, though he had shed the sling. He was moving very slowly with healing claw wounds across his upper body. The other shoulder was still immobilized in a sling as the panther's bite had damaged muscles and tendons, though thankfully she hadn't torn his flesh away leaving him deformed.
It had been two weeks since the attack and Harry had fully explained the events leading up to Rainha's battle with Amoretta. Only Harry's persistence to guard him had kept him from living the rest of his life as a sex crazed alien's plaything. To say he was grateful was an understatement, the event sealing a bond between the two that could never be broken.
Today, they were waiting for a phone call from over four thousand miles away, as Tiago promised to revisit Ohtli. Though Harry would have preferred to deliver Amoretta's message in person, the CMO had expressly forbade it, stating that the jungle was no place for Harry's healing wounds, citing every exotic germ he could name. Harry relented, not wanting to leave Lee behind anyway as he found his role of Watcher had only intensified with their experience, even though the danger of Rainha had passed.
It was therefore satisfying to pass on the message with the use of technology and the satellite phone, made possible by the fact that Ohtli's village was close enough to civilization to be exposed to such things and helped along by the abundant gifts Harry sent along with Tiago.
“It would appear that your father made a remarkable impression on Amoretta,” Harry explained as the call was now well underway. “He must have been an extraordinary man to have touched her so deeply.”
“Yes he was,” Ohtli agreed in fond remembrance, but then turned the conversation to answer the questions of her own observations. “But something has happened... the jungle sings a new song,” she explained. “The night air is no longer cursed by a panther we cannot hunt, and her territorial land has begun to heal as the jungle once again reclaims what has always belonged to it.”
Harry and Lee exchanged glances, as more proof that the nightmare was indeed over. The barren land that refused to grow in Rainha's other dimensional lair was once again flourishing with her absence. It seemed that it was not only Lee that had been set free, but the natives and the jungle itself.
“Amoretta called you by name as the offspring of your father and asked me to deliver this message,” Harry explained.
“I'm charged to tell you...” Harry paused looking across the desk at Lee and sharing a moment of extreme satisfaction, hard fought and won through great adversity. Lee urged him on with a peaceful smile that lit up his amber eyes, as Harry's next words were spoken with the strength and confidence of firsthand knowledge.
“...The Legend is over. The Jungle Queen is dead and the Yaguarete are no more.”
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