PANTHERA and LEO
On Trial For Treason (part 6)
by Bevie James
“The night was foggy,” said Panthera. “I had gone to the Port City, which is at the westernmost point of Gitchigoomie. Leo sensed Onca’s presence and led me to the hill overlooking the port. I went down to the water alone.”
“You left Leo on the hill?” asked Panteskus.
“Why would you do that? Would that not put you at risk with Pelage? She would have Onca, and you would be alone.”
“It’s hard to explain.”
“Try,” said Ursa Drake.
Panthera took a breath. “Well, while Pelage and I have often played huntress and prey, never has she used any advantage to hurt me.”
“So you were trusting on your knowledge of Pelage?” Panteskus prompted.
Ursa Drake made a notation on the tablet before her. “Please continue, Panthera.”
Panthera related her walk along the waterfront, and her confrontation with the four young men of Lower Earth. When she told of how she allowed Leo’s roar to escape her lungs, dispersing the young men into the shadows, Panteskus interrupted again.
“So you deliberately chose to deal with your assailants in a manner which would alert Pelage to your presence, as opposed to using more conventional means?”
“What was she supposed to do?” snapped Simthara. “There were four of them.”
Panteskus remained undaunted. “Four, yes. But did you not say they were young, Panthera? How young?”
Panthera shrugged. “It’s difficult to tell with Lower Earth beings. Not very, I’m sure.”
“Did you think they had reached the Age of Reason?”
Panthera chuckled and shook her head. “No. Not at all. They were very much controlled by their bodies.”
Panteskus looked to Simthara with triumph. “Do you honestly believe Panthera could not handle four young simpletons using conventional means, Simthara?”
Panthera made Simthara feel her stare. Against her will, Simthara returned the look. The two women held each other in a contest of will. Then Simthara shook her head.
“No. Panthera would be well able to take on four such from Lower Earth.”
Panthera couldn’t hide her smile, but she only let it show a moment. Panteskus was pursuing his line of questioning.
“So you knew you could deal with them without alerting Pelage? Yet you chose to reveal yourself to her anyway? Is that not so?”
“Yes. I guess it is.”
“What are you leading to, Panteskus?” asked Ursa Drake.
Panteskus raised his hand in a calming gesture. “Let Panthera continue.”
Panthera then related her walk down the pier to the lighthouse, and how Pelage had indeed trapped her with a wall of water – Panthera’s bane.
Simthara was angry. “All this proves is that Pelage is a traitor.”
“How?” asked Panteskus.
Simthara pointed at Panthera. “She captured Panthera! Why would she do that unless she were trying to avoid capture herself?”
“Why indeed?” asked Panteskus.
“We will let Panthera answer that,” said Ursa Drake.