|Written by:||Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)|
|Story type:||Serial Fiction|
|Location:||Cleveland Ohio USA|
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|Written by:||Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)|
|Story type:||Serial Fiction|
|Location:||Cleveland Ohio USA|
Walking Appaloosa along cropped prairie, medium sized boar carcass slung in front of her, the husky, bow and quiver armed, raven-haired Ohnaà, mahogany skin gleaming with sweat, wiped slick brow against massive forearm. It wasn't long before her discomfort was distracted by the harsh screeching of eight long-winged black gorak birds revolving overhead a distant human body.
Cantering to the prone short-haired blond bluecoat in dusty uniform, Ohnaà scowled on dismount. Kneeling she roughly rolled him onto his back. The Fort Pico Incident fresh in mind, she was annoyed over another soldier invader.
Drawing her glittering broad-bladed knife, Ohnaà nudged aside the Yellow Hair's loose bloody uniform neckline with its tip revealing a right sided infected bullet wound nestled above his collarbone. Investigating further she noted his empty gun holster. Scanning the area no cavalry horse was seen.
The eight goraks' piercing screeches roused the blue-eyed interloper who squinted up at the scowling knife-wielding Shesh-Amazoni.
"How are you called?" Ohnaà harshly demanded.
"Joh-neh Coo-nahn knows he is on Amazoni land?"
Grimacing in pain, Coonan shook his head.
"Why do you come?"
"When I ran away, sick of Army life, my commander tracked and shot me. Next thing I know I wake up and see you. Don't know how long I've been here." Johnny Coonan stared wide-eyed at the circling eight black goraks. "The birds! Don't let them get me!" he begged.
"How many Amazoni lives has Joh-neh Coo-nahn claimed?"
"What does that have to do with anything! The birds! The birds!"
Wincing in pain, Johnny Coonan seized the warrior's knife hand's thick wrist.
"Don't let the birds get me!"
Ohnaà yanked free her hand.
The panicked cavalryman snatched Ohnaà's knife hand with both hands and yanked with his last ounce of strength her blade's tip to his throat.
Scowl gradually dissolving Ohnaà nodded.
Heaving a deep sigh of relief Johnny Coonan released his hold.
Ohnaà sheathed her wicked knife.
"You promised to kill me!"
"I promised nothing. I spare Joh-neh Coo-nahn's life because he leaves my soldier enemies and claims no Amazoni life.
"Soon the goraks will go."
With a soft groan Johnny Coonan lapsed into unconsciousness.
Ohnaà ripped wider her patient's bloody uniform collar exposing his infected gunshot wound. Drawing her gleaming wide-bladed knife she leaned closer.
The goraks above screeched.
Johnny Coonan awoke to the excruciating pain of the seated burly warrior's red powder stuffed deeply into his wound. He eyed with relief a clear blue sky.
"The goraks were not pleased I save your life. Soon, plant-that-heals will take your pain."
"Joh-neh Coo-nahn is very brave. Even asleep he made no sound when I dig the bullet out."
"Where is it?"
Reaching to her right, Ohnaà surrendered it, watching its deposit within a pants pocket.
"Why keep what almost kills you?"
"I'm going to return it to my bastard ex-commander."
"Ah yah! Before you claim his life."
"Never killed anyone in my life and won't start even with him. I want to see the look on his face realizing I'm not dead after all."
"I will go with you."
"You don't have to."
"No weapons or horse, Joh-neh Coo-nahn would not get far. He has earned protection until he faces the man who wrongs him.
"Where do we go?"
"It is far?"
Johnny Coonan struggled to sit up.
"Eating my hunted boar will give you strength,
By the time it was butchered, the fire built and roasting was complete, twilight settled. Excising a chunk for her companion and tossing it to him, Ohnaà sliced off a bigger piece of boar and began to eat.
"What's your name?"
"I am called Ohnaà."
Johnny Coonan's eyes widened.
"You're the one who destroyed Fort Pico!"
"It is so."
"You killed everyone!"
"They kill themselves."
"You tortured their General rumor says!"
Staring into the fire as she tore off another bite of meat, Ohnaà silently chewed.
The warrior glared at the soldier. "I save Joh-neh Coo-nahn's life. It is not good to have bad blood with me with insults," she warned, "as I could forget you leave my bluecoat enemies and claim no Amazoni life." She pointed to Johnny Coonan's boar meat. "Ee-yah-deh! Eat!"
Coonan unsteadily rose. "I'm not hungry!" he roared tossing his meal into the fire.
Setting aside her meat, Ohnaà approached the angry soldier who backed away. Snatching his collar she yanked him close to rest a huge calloused palm against his warm forehead.
"You burn with fever."
Dipping into one of her many waist pouches the big Shesh-Amazoni offered a small yellow-spotted black leaf.
A nibble of its tip, the bluecoat winced at its intense tartness.
"All!" Ohnaà commanded.
Grimacingly Johnny Coonan forced himself to finish the leaf.
Under rising double moons Ohnaà reclaimed her seat at the fire to finish her boar chunk and indulge in several more big helpings.
Awakening next morning bluecoat Johnny Coonan was startled by Ohnaà staring at him. He sat up.
"Bitter Leaf gives you good sleep and takes your fever."
"You have hunger?"
Slicing off the last piece of cold boar Ohnaà tossed it to him.
"Sorry I got mad at you last night. I'm not like that at all."
"Fever always steals sense."
Johnny Coonan chuckled.
"I definitely didn't have enough to stay away from the Army."
"Why did you go?"
"Raised to think joining the Military was the right thing to do. Army didn't care what I thought of their endless drills, awful food, low pay. They despised my lack of blood lust. That insulted my commander more than running."
"Where will you go after you face your bluecoat leader?"
Johnny Coonan popped a piece of cold boar meat in his mouth.
"Raised on a horse ranch I'll hire onto one until I've saved enough gold pieces to buy a ranch and stock."
"You need things my Trader friend, Jo-teff, has much he gives in trade. He is a good man."
"Known him a while?"
"Since I was a child."
Johnny Coonan chuckled.
"Can't imagine you were ever small."
"Even mountains begin as a pebble."
"You're certainly a mountain that's for sure."
Ohnaà untied her tobacco pouch with its side pocket of rolling papers.
"We will smoke."
As she puffed her cigarette Ohnaà stared at Johnny Coonan as he smoked.
"Why are you staring at me?" he demanded.
"To remember the face of the first bluecoat who takes no Amazoni life."
"Stories tell that you enjoy killing soldiers."
Ohnaà exhaled gray jets of smoke from her nostrils. "Ah yah! If that were so, nowhere would bluecoats be," she corrected. Tossing aside her cigarette butt she stood. "We go now."
Mounted double on Appaloosa, Johnny Coonan clinging tightly against the warrior's muscular waist, the pair began their journey to Fort Wickert to face the man who attempted murder against one Ohnaà considered a friend.
The duo encountered rapids whose thunderous white water surged mightily between pebbled banks.
"We cannot cross, Joh-neh Coo-nahn," Ohnaà shouted to be heard above the roaring rapids.
"Directing you this far, there's no other way to Fort Wickert. What are you, afraid?"
"I fear nothing!" Ohnaà exclaimed. "You would not survive the high water. We must wait until it quiets."
"Rapids don't quiet. We have to cross here, damn it!" Johnny Coonan shouted and kicked Appaloosa who rushed startled into the raging rapids. Struggling madly to keep his head above the frothy torrent, whinnying in panic, Appaloosa paddled as fast as he could against the fierce current, Ohnaà clinging with one muscular arm about his neck, Coonan tightly clutching his long tail's end.
Lathered water overwhelming eyes, nose, and mouth, stallion, warrior, and soldier finally arrived at the opposite side's pebbled bank to shakily settle five feet further onto dry grass.
Appaloosa shook water from his dotted hide. Johnny Coonan soaked to the bone, sat. Skimpy bikini skins dripping, clearing ebon mane off her face with angry swipes, Ohnaà glared at the laughing bluecoat. Scowling she hauled him to his feet by a huge fistful of collar.
"I knew we'd make it! Crossing rapids was one Army drill that didn't go to waste on me. We crossed rivers far meaner than this one."
Ohnaà's light shove landed her companion hard onto his back.
"What the hell was that for!"
"You almost kill us both!"
The waterlogged Johnny Coonan got to his feet. "I knew what I was doing, we survived, you didn't lose your bow or arrows in your quiver. You can cross any river now!" he snapped.
Ohnaà disarmed herself of bow and soggy arrow quiver. "Next time, Joh-neh Coo-nahn will have his own horse to try to drown," she retorted.
"In the end, crossing the rapids did make us better friends."
"Ah yah! New friends who almost drown me find fire wood and use my spark stones to light it."
Johnny Coonan grinned.
It wasn't long before the fire was high and roaring its fuel snapping and popping.
Shaking with cold, teeth beginning to chatter, Johnny Coonan settled closer to the flames.
"You give me much surprise, Joh-neh Coo-nahn."
"You face death without fear from your soldier leader and angry water, you make good fire, but weakly shiver with cold."
"Since being soaked to the bone doesn't bother you, how about warming me up a with some food in my belly. Fish perhaps?"
Smiling slyly Ohnaà stood. Leaving bow and quiver she ran toward the rapids. Tracking its polished pebbled bank she waded into an isolated ankle-deep murky pool and waited for her sensitive moccasined feet to detect a familiar vibration rumbling through the pool's muddy bottom. Plunging her hands into the water she withdrew by its lumpy orange carapace a nubby-headed, dinner plate-sized, tri-blue-eyed turtle with thick snapping beak. Flapping its four clawed feet, the frightened reptile extended its three blue eyes on stalks in hopes of alarming the fearless warrior.
Johnny Coonan was startled by Ohnaà's hissing orange turtle captive whose stalked tri-eyes squirmed like angry snakes.
"What the hell!"
"My people call him skahgoach gee-shà;snake turtle. In fear they throw their eyes."
Settling the struggling reptile upon the grass Ohnaà pressed her knees against its lumpy orange shell. Hefting a huge right fist she slammed it upon the turtle's soft spot at its shell's center killing it.
"I won't eat that monster's eyes!"
"They help a warrior see better, Coo-nahn."
"My sight is fine thank you very much."
Ohnaà laughed heartily.
Johnny Coonan observed with unsettled stomach the warrior tossing the turtle into the now low fire's center to roast. Reflexively the turtle's stalked three eyes retracted back into its nobby head.
"The meat taste like fish that you ask me to find."
"It smells awful."
"Have trust in me, Joh-neh Coo-nahn. It is good food."
Johnny Coonan heaved an unsure sigh eating something new.
When the turtle's shell turned from orange to brown, Ohnaà carefully removed it from the fire and ripped off the shell, sliced up the meat and piled it within the shell. With gusto she began to gnaw on a big hunk of soft gray meat.
Hesitantly the bluecoat selected a small piece of turtle and bit into it. It tasted like honey glazed fish meat and he gobbled it up and ate several more pieces much to Ohnaà's amusement.
It wasn't long before the turtle shell bowl was empty of meat.
Johnny Coonan patted his full belly.
"That good meal deserves a nap."
"This is a good place to camp."
Yawning, Johnny Coonan stretched out and instantly fell asleep.
Rolling and lighting her cigarette Ohnaà contentedly puffed as she watched over the bluecoat. Eyes heavy she stretched out lulled to sleep by Coonan's heavy breathing.
The twin moons were high when Johnny Coonan awoke to the metallic tapping of stones. Propping his head upon a fist he watched Ohnaà restart the fire with her spark stones.
"Good thing you're doing that. It's getting chilly."
Ohnaà silently fed the fire twigs and sticks she'd gathered nearby.
"Hello!" Coonan called.
Ohnaà blew into the bottom of her wood pile.
Johnny Coonan sat up.
"I hear you, Coo-nahn," Ohnaà snapped.
"Well excuse me, grumpy!"
Satisfied with her fire the warrior warmed her hands over it.
"How long have you been awake?"
"A long time."
"Are you going to stay awake all night?"
Ohnaà stiffened as she peered through double moonlight into the glowing eyes of the tan, tufted tail twitching, long-toothed cat striding closer, behind her companion.
"Do not move, Coo-nahn. A long-toothed cat comes."
"Shoot it with your bow!" he harshly whispered.
The long-toothed cat sauntered past Coonan to the fire, growl rumbling in his throat.
Johnny Coonan froze seeing the wild cat lie down at the fire. "Do something!" he tensely whispered.
In Amazoni Ohnaà spoke to the long-toothed cat who watched her intently, got up, and trotted away.
Johnny Coonan released a shaky sigh of relief.
"I tell him we do not come for battle and to leave us in peace."
"I thought it was going to eat us!"
"The spirits make sure my way with the long-toothed cat is kept."
The hooting of an owl coaxed the bluecoat and warrior into peaceful slumber.
Wild birdsong awoke the travelers.
"We're not far from Fort Wickert."
Ohnaà donned bow and quiver.
"It will not be good for your soldier leader who tried to kill you, to attack the friend of an Amazoni, when you return his bullet."
Scowling, Ohnaà jerked a thumb across her throat.
"I can handle him."
Ohnaà whistled to Appaloosa who trotted up to her. Gracefully she vaulted onto his broad bare speckled back. She extended a muscled arm to her companion.
"We will see."
The sun was high overhead when Fort Wickert came into view. Ohnaà halted Appaloosa before its high gates.
Johnny Coonan dismounted. "Open up!" he commanded.
"You're supposed to be dead, Coonan!" a sentry exclaimed.
"A real disappointment I'm still breathing, isn't it, Carno."
"What are you doing here, deserter?" Carno demanded.
"I'm here to return Captain Yankee's bullet. Open up!"
"If we don't?"
"My friend here will become mighty agitated. She's already taken out one fort. Doubt another would matter."
"Open the gates!" bluecoat Carno yelled.
Johnny Coonan and Ohnaà entered the fort. The big warrior dismounted.
Sentinel Carno joined the visitors.
"Captain Yankee isn't going to like you still being alive, Coonan."
"Yahn-keh tries to harm Coo-nahn again, I will make sure he dies," Ohnaà warned.
The travelers were surrounded by bluecoats who defensively aimed their carbines.
"Best keep your barbarian on a short leash," sentinel Carno challenged "or my men'll fill her with holes."
Low growl rumbling in her throat Ohnaà seized Carno by the throat.
"You've made your point, warrior. Now, let him go so he can get the Captain," Johnny Coonan suggested.
The warrior reluctantly complied.
Sentry Carno rubbed his throat as he caught his breath.
Ohnaà advanced a menacing step. "Go!" she commanded.
Carno hurriedly obeyed.
Captain Jahqine Yankee, a bear of a man with protruding belly, mop of curly black hair with waxed handlebar black mustache looped at their wide ends and shaggy sideburns, lumbered behind sentinel Carno to Ohnaà and Johnny Coonan. So shocked was he seeing Coonan that he paled in seconds.
"Surprised aren't you, Captain."
"Well...I...uh...I'm glad you're..."
"Yeah I bet you are! Had my friend, Ohnaà, not found me, your murderous plan would've succeeded." Fishing the bullet out of his pocket Coonan threw it at Captain Yankee striking him hard in the left cheek under his eye. Balling up a fist he struck him in the jaw knocking him to his knees. "Now I feel a whole lot better!" he brightly announced. Without a backward glance he ambled to the open gates.
Scowling, Ohnaà shoved Captain Yankee onto his back ignoring the surrounding soldiers aiming their carbines. Drawing her knife she rested its honed edge hard against the bluecoat's flabby neck.
"At ease!" Captain Yankee commanded his men who gradually lowered their rifles.
"Joh-neh Coo-nahn, one I call friend, will not kill you as he should because you try to take his life. Know this. What bluecoats do travels far. Attack Coo-nahn again, I will see how well you die."
"Let's go!" Coonan shouted from the fort gates.
To reinforce her promise, Ohnaà sliced off the upturned ends of Captain Yankee's handlebar mustache. Standing she sheathed her knife glowering down at him. His attempt to rise was thwarted by a heavy moccasined foot atop his chest. Glaring at the bluecoats surrounding her, Ohnaà removed her foot from their commander's chest. Vaulting gracefully upon Appaloosa she trotted to her friend waiting at the gates and led him out.
Special credit goes to member Fred Wickert for letting me use his last name for a fort and becoming part of Amazoni lore.