tagSci-Fi & FantasyPanther Tales Ch. 05

Panther Tales Ch. 05

bySnowkemper©

Author's note: As always, in any of my stories any character that engages in any kind of sexual activity is over 18 years of age. I'm enjoying writing this sort of anti-Gorean story, and thank everyone for their comments and votes!

*****

The first week in the forest were the best days Sally had spent on Gor. She found some safe hiding spots, it was pretty easy to find food and water, and there were even a couple small caves she could safely light a small fire and cook the small animals she killed.

Fruits and berries were plentiful and easy to pick, and one kind of tree had slim, strong vines that were ideal for making snares. She had gained back some of the weight she had lost during her escape, and no longer looked hollow-cheeked and emaciated.

She was still far from happy. She was often bored, desperately lonely, and spent most of her time thinking about all the things from Earth she missed. There were so many little things she had taken for granted that she wished she had now.

She missed Chinese takeout. She missed ice cream. God, she missed soft toilet paper. Wiping herself with leaves, and then having to dig a hole and bury her waste every time she took a dump, had gotten old in a hurry.

She missed having a razor. Out of habit, she used her dagger to scrape away some of the hair under her arms, but didn't dare use it on her legs.

'Thank heavens I'm blond,' she thought, 'or I'd look like a Persian cat!'

She was surprised how much she missed watching TV. Back on Earth, she really hadn't watched that much. She made a point never to just have the TV on as background, the way so many people did. Even so, not having the option made her want to cry.

'Right now I'd blow all the guards back at that damn kennel for an hour of C-SPAN.'

She missed shopping, beer, silly supermarket check-out magazines filled with the latest celebrity gossip, and listening to Max tell her about his day at work-even when she didn't understand half of what he was talking about.

'For you, my love,' she whispered. 'You told me to be strong after you were gone.'

She looked around at the trees in every direction and smiled bitterly. 'I didn't expect to have to put up with THIS shit though!'

She tried to stay busy, to keep herself from thinking too much. She spent a lot of time practicing with her sling and pole. She was confident that if any imaginary enemies attacked, they'd get their pretend butts kicked.

She also spent a lot of time climbing trees, and learning how to move from place to place without ever touching the ground. It was fun, as long as she didn't think about what would happen if she fell and got hurt.

Small animals were plentiful, but she saw very few birds and nothing large and dangerous-although she sometimes hear noises that could have been something big plowing through the forest nearby. Whenever those sounds reached her, she tried to hide and be very quiet.

She experimented with making simple spears by sharpening branches, but they didn't fly very true. Her sling and stones remained her best option for a long distance weapon, as she had no idea how to make a bow.

There were very few paths, and most of them were old and overgrown. She still avoided them on principle. Even though she was lonely, solitude seemed preferable to meeting any more Goreans. In a week, she hand't seen a single building, old campfire, or any other sign that any people had ever been there.

Which is why it came as such an enormous shock when four armed women suddenly appeared in her small clearing.

Sally had been scraping the edge of her dagger along a flat stone, seeing if she was sharpening it or just making noise, when from all four sides the women materialized. She leaped to her feet, only two feel razor sharp spear points press against her stomach and the small of her back.

The other two stayed back a bit, holding bows already drawn and notched, pointed straight at her. One of them spoke.

"Drop the knife girl," she commanded.

Sally stiffened and snarled, but girl behind her pressed a little harder. She realized how useless her little dagger would be, and with an angry sigh she cast it down.

The woman in front of her lifted her spear until the tip was touching Sally's throat. She was dressed in dark animal skins, a necklace of claws softly clattering around her neck. Much taller than Sally, she looked down at the helpless Earth girl, her expression pitiless.

"Hands behind your back," she rumbled, and emphasized the words by pressing until a tiny trickle of blood rolled down Sally's throat. Sally glared at her, her lips trembling with rage, but reluctantly put her hands behind her, where they were quickly lashed together.

Once her wrists were secured, the woman lowered her spear. "Runaway slaves are not welcome here. Who is your Master, girl?"

Sally's eyes blazed with fury. "I am no one's slave." she snarled.

The women all laughed. The woman behind her used her spear to lift Sally's shirt. Sally yelped and started to jerk away, but the girl in front drove her spear into the ground and grabbed her, one hand tangling in her short hair, the other gripping her throat.

"She's branded, all right," one of them said as the small letter 'K' burned into her left thigh came into view. The woman jerked her closer, staring into her blue eyes.

"You are collared and branded. You are kajira," she said simply, but Sally shook her head as well as she could in the woman's powerful grip.

"Just because some assholes wrapped a piece of steel around my neck and burned me doesn't make me a slave!" she almost screamed.

There was more laughter, and the woman shifted her grip, clutching the back of Sally's slim neck.

"We'll let Shan decide what to do with you," she declared, pushing the smaller girl ahead of her firmly.

"March!"

As soon as they started moving, the two archers slipped deeper into the trees and vanished. Sally couldn't see or hear them, but twice one appeared ahead of them and gave a hand signal, apparently meaning the way was clear and safe. She realized how feeble her stealth skills were compared to these women.

Three times, her captors warned her to be wary of traps and carefully steered her way. Twice they had to lift and pull her over large rock formations. Sally could see how anyone coming this way who didn't know exactly where they were going would get either injured or lost.

At last, they came to an enormous, imposing wall of thorny bushes. The growth was twice as high as the girls heads, and stretched for hundreds of yards in either direction. It seemed like a dead end, but the woman in front of her wrapped her hands around a small tree directly in front of the hedge, and lifted.

It was a fake, concealing a tunnel through the obstacle.

"That's clever," Sally mumbled, and the girl behind her laughed.

"Ally came up with that idea. She's of the Builder caste and very intelligent."

The tunnel stretched some thirty or forty feet. It was only wide enough to proceed single file, and the taller Gorean woman had to crouch slightly to avoid tangling their hair in the thorns.

Actually, to call the protuberances 'thorns' was to belittle them. They were massive, sharp curved hooks, some nearly a foot long, the points sharp as razors. Any animal or person attempting to push their way through this barrier would be torn to pieces.

They emerged from the tunnel in the camp of the Panther girls.

There were smiles and calls of greeting from the others, and they cast curious looks Sally's way. The two archers that had helped capture her were already there, and the four women slapped each other on the back in celebration.

"Rendill has gone to fetch Shan," one of them said.

Sally stood still and quiet, looking straight ahead, keeping a firm leash on her anger as a few of the Panthers came up to her, looking at her short, ragged hair and cut-up gown with expressions of puzzlement.

A voice rang out, thick with merriment. "Denera, what have you dragged home this time?"

The woman with the necklace of claws laughed. She dug her fingers into Sally's short hair and yanked her head up.

"We found this little Urt crawling around in our forest," she answered. She put her other hand on Sally's shoulder and pushed down, trying to force her to her knees, but Sally stiffened her back and fought.

"That is Shan, our Leader," she hissed. "On your knees!"

The woman who approached wore only a fur loin cloth, and a beautiful, ankle length black robe. Her bare breasts were large and firm, and bobbed prettily with every step. Her dark eyes glittered with amusement and cruelty as she regarded the Earth girl.

"A barbarian girl, trying to survive in our forests? How delightful!" she mocked. Sally glared at her, quivering as she struggled to control her rage.

Suddenly the woman's expression grew stern. She drew a dagger from beneath her robe and pressed the point under Sally's chin.

"I am Shan. I am the leader of this Panther clan. Kneel before me, slave girl," she commanded.

Sally's eyes flashed with anger. "I will kneel for no one!"

Shan chuckled, pressing harder with her dagger, drawing blood. "A brave little kajira," she laughed, and that hated word tore away the last of Sally's self-control.

"Cowardly BITCH!" she shouted, surprising the Clan leader enough that she took a short step back. Sally gave free reign to her fury, heedless of the consequences.

"Yeah, you're really tough and scary when someone's hands are tied. I'm really fucking impressed!" she spat.

The woman looked down at Sally and smirked. "Brave little Urt," she muttered.

Goreans are, as a rule, significantly larger than Earthlings. Where an average man on Earth is around 5' 9", most Gorean males stand 6' 6" or more. A typical Gorean woman tops six feet. Sally, at 5'2" was a mere pixie compared to the Panthers surrounding her.

She knew she couldn't match the women's strength, but she also knew from experience that brute strength could be overcome with courage and cunning. There were two dead Masters that would vouch for her ability in a fight.

Shan lifted Sally's chin with a finger and gave her a couple patronizing taps on the cheek. She looked the bound girl up and down, nodding.

"She's not entirely displeasing to look at. She would fetch a decent price."

Sally scoffed at the tall Panther. "The last person that tried to buy me didn't live the night. I am a human being, and human beings are NOT for sale."

"It's a shame you're too dumb to know that," she finished.

The Panther leader started to swing her arm, then broke out laughing.

"Silly Earth girl. Do you even know where you are?"

Sally glared into her eyes, unflinching.

"Hell."

One of the Panthers stepped forward-a slim girl with short brown hair and an odd, trident shaped scar or tattoo below her right eye. She put a hand on Shan's shoulder.

"Leave the girl alone. She may be barbarian, but you can see she's no kajira."

Shan snarled, whirling to face her Panther sister, her body tense. The two women stared at each other for a long moment. Then the Clan leader grinned, giving the other woman a friendly cuff on the shoulder.

"Do you like her then, Ally? Do you think she's cute?" she teased.

The scarred woman frowned.

"I think she deserves better than this. And if she truly killed a Master, maybe she's tough enough to be one of us."

At that, many of the gathering of Panthers stared in astonishment. Shan studied Ally's face for a long moment, then waved a hand in dismissal.

"Fine," she grumbled, "but if you want her so bad, she's your responsibility. If she screws up and gets someone captured or killed, I'll take it out of your hide."

The Clan Leader started to order Denera to untie Sally's hands, but just then there was a little commotion as another Panther pushed forward, snarling 'No No NO!"

"What's your problem, Blainey?" Shan asked.

Blainey put her hands on her hips, scowling with anger. She was a huge Amazon of a woman, with biceps any Earth bodybuilder would have envied.

"You know our rules, Shan. You all know our rules," she said, her voice rising as she addressed the entire Clan. "There's only one way for a girl to join our group."

She looked down at Sally and smirked. "And no soft little barbarian girl could ever survive the test."

Sally looked up fearlessly at the big Panther girl. "Who says I want to join you? You strike me as nothing but a gang of bullies!"

Shan laid a hand on one of Blainey's thick arms, to prevent her from attacking the Earth girl. Meanwhile, other voices chimed in, most agreeing with Blainey.

"You're right," the Leader said finally. "We will do this the correct way."

She turned to Sally. "To join our Clan, you have to replace one of the existing members-by defeating her in combat."

"What sort of combat?"

"You will each be armed with a dagger. You fight to the death. We will let you choose your opponent."

Sally's head drooped, and her eyes closed in a slow, sad blink. She let out a long sigh.

"Is everyone on this fucking planet nothing but an animal?" she demanded, raising her eyes and looking around at the gathered women. When none replied, she pursed her lips and took another deep breath.

"Fine. If killing and death are so important to you, so be it."

There were smiles and cheers at her pronouncement, and the cords were sliced from her wrists. She rubbed them absently, her eyes turning to look at the Panther's camp fire. An idea popped into her head.

"I will ask one favor first. There is something I must do."

Shan grinned at her. "A last request? That seems like the least we can do."

She turned to Ally. "Keep an eye on her. One hour. If she tries to run, kill her."

The women scattered through the camp, chattering with excitement. Sally walked to the fire and started looking around, Ally close behind. After a bit, the Earth girl picked up a loose branch, about two feet long and thick as a baseball bat. She knelt next to a flat rock and began grinding and slamming one end against the hard stone.

Sally looked up as she flattened one end of the wood. "Thanks for having my back."

"You seem like a fighter," the Panther girl replied.

Sally sighed again. "Only when I have to be."

Finished with her branch, she stuck the flat end into the fire, and found another piece of wood, this one about the thickness of her thumb. Ally watched silently.

A few of the other Panthers stood nearby, close enough to observe Sally's preparations. When she sat down next to the fire, one could contain her curiousity no longer.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

Sally lifted her hips and tugged her shirt up to her waist. She noticed how Ally's eyes kept dropping to sneak furtive peeks at her exposed lap.

Sally pointed to the kajira brand on her left thigh.

"If I must die today-well, we all have to die sometime. But I will not die with this ugly thing marring my body."

With that, she stuck the smaller branch in her mouth, holding it between her teeth. She pulled the bigger log from the fire, its end nearly white hot, and rolled towards her right hip.

Holding the wood with both hands, she slowly and deliberately pressed the hot end against her brand.

She let out a howl of agony, drowning out the gasps of the women watching her. Her teeth dug into the branch in her mouth, and her slim body quivered, but she forced herself to hold the heat against her skin as she silently counted to five, obliterating the hated slave mark.

The aroma of burning flesh filled the air by the time she yanked the log away from her leg and cast it into the fire. She forced herself to get to her feet, and struggled to pull the slim branch from her mouth. She had bitten down so hard her teeth were stuck in the wood.

Finally, it fell to the ground, and she turned and staggered a few steps, tears of pain rolling down her cheeks.

She could hear the Panthers muttering, shocked by what they had seen. One of them scurried away, almost running to tell Shan what had just happened.

Sally held her shirt tightly in her fists and limped slowly, not wanting her leg to stiffen up. Every few steps she let out an inhuman growl of pain. Her leg throbbed and kept trying to buckle. Only her will kept her upright.

Ally was suddenly at her side, a strip of cloth in her hands. "Here, let me wrap that."

Sally stopped, her legs trembling, and Ally went to one knee, winding the bandage around her thigh.

"By the Priest-Kings girl, that was dumb. How are you gonna fight now? You can barely walk!"

She tied the cloth tight, all the while trying and failing not to stare at the small girl's blond pussy, inches from her eyes.

"Better?" she asked, and Sally nodded.

"Thank you again. I need to keep moving or I won't be able to move at all."

"You think it matters? How can you fight in this condition?"

Sally's mouth twisted into a pained smile, and her electric-blue eyes blazed.

"I have a plan."

Shan listened to the girl tell her how Sally had deliberately burned herself to destory her brand. The Panther leader raised an eyebrow.

"It doesn't matter. Crazy dies as easy as sane."

Sally kept walking, stopping occasionally to bend her knee or crouch and flex her leg. Every step was painful, but neccesary. Ally stayed beside her, sometimes reaching out an arm when it looked like she was about to fall.

The Panther named Rendill approached them. "It's time," she said quietly, and Sally nodded. Her face was grim as she walked slowly to where the Clan had gathered in a circle, all twelve girls watching her closely. Sally fought not to limp or grimace, not wanting to show them any weakness.

The girls moved to give her a spot, and Ally gently squeezed her shoulder.

"Are you ready to fight?" Shan asked her, and Sally laughed bitterly.

"Where's my dagger?"

Shan nodded to the girl to her left, and the girl tossed Sally's pack across the circle. Sally crouched and brought out her knife. It was a good weapon, she knew, well crafted and balanced. She hoped that would be enough.

"Who will you challenge?" Shan demanded, and immediately, about half the women in the circle drew their own daggers.

"Pick me!" one would call, then another would shout, "No, pick me!" They were laughing and amused, eager to have their sport, certain that the tiny girl would present no challenge.

Sally took a step forward, her head slowly turning, looking at each Panther in turn. Most of them smirked and shook their dagger at her when their eyes met. At last, she lifted her own dagger and pointed it at the hulking Blainey.

"You," she said, and the camp shook with incredulous laughter. Blainey's eyes grew wide with surprise.

"You have more courage than brains, little barbarian," she said as a lazy, arrogant smile floated across her face.

Sally looked back at Shan. "How do we start?" she asked, and was proud that her voice didn't shake. In reality, she was terrified.

Shan looked as if she could barely contain her laughter.

"Blainey, are you ready?" she asked, and the huge Panther answered "Yes."

"Earth girl, are you ready?"

"I was born ready!"

Shan chuckled and shook her head in amusement.

"Then it begins-NOW!"

Sally kept her eyes on her opponent as she tucked her left arm behind her back. She crossed her right arm, with the dagger, over her stomach until it touched her right hip. Blainey held her own dagger low and approached slowly, her weight up on the balls of her feet. The Panther expected the Earth girl to try to flee.

Sally clenched her teeth and braced her injured left leg firmly against the ground. 'Please let this work," she prayed silently, focusing her gaze on the Panther's navel.

She bit back a groan of pain as she took a big step forward. Her right arm flashed into motion. In an instant, she was posed on her left knee, her hand pointed straight at Blainey's torso.

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