PANTHERA and LEO
The Taming of Pelage (part 1)
by Bevie James
Panthera found herself once again standing along the shores of the big lake. The last time she had been here she had held Pelage in her arms. But she had released the accused traitor; her friend and one time lover. That act had resulted in being labeled an accomplice, and she had gone to trial. It had been Panteskus’ quick thinking and misdirection which spared her. Only now, to remain free, she had to return to Lower Earth and find Pelage again; and bring her back.
But would Pelage return to Khat? Panthera had her doubts. Panteskus had bought this reprieve by saying Pelage’s departure to Lower Earth had been a misunderstanding. Panthera had to confess she no more believed it than did Simthara, the judge from the People of the Apes who had brought the accusations against both Pelage and herself. Even Ursa Drake, the Adjudicator, doubted. But Panteskus had been efficient in raising doubt. Now, to prove her innocence, all Pelage had to do was return with Panthera to Khat. Only – what if Pelage wasn’t innocent? If she refused to return then she would as much be admitting her guilt. And if Panthera didn’t bring her back she would certainly be found guilty as Pelage’s accomplice. What had Panteskus really bought with his antics?
Time, she thought. And another chance.
Only where was she to begin searching? She had found Pelage before because Pelage had not known she had been the one sent. Having shared love with Pelage in the past, Panthera had developed an attunement with her, making it possible to make spectral connections over even long distances. But their previous encounter had tipped Pelage off to Panthera’s presence. She would be blocking Panthera’s attempts to reach her now.
She looked out over the waters of Gitchigoomie. The logical place to begin was here, where she had last seen Pelage. But the trail was as cold as the frigid waters which lapped the shore. She knelt beside Leo, her massive lion companion.
“Oh, Leo. Where are we to find her?”
“Perhaps I can be of assistance,” said a man’s voice.
Panthera and Leo both got to their feet, Leo’s growl rumbling in his throat. Panthera instinctively connected with his thoughts and bade him wait.
Before them stood an exceptionally tall man in tight grey clothing. Behind him stood a young woman dressed in some sort of military uniform. Between them a fox sat and licked its chest. How had they managed to arrive without Leo knowing?