Bad Weather
A Round Robin Collaboration/Battle between DNash and Zakiyah

Round 7 – DNash (w/assistance from Zakiyah)
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Amazons

Veronica and Marguerite had been searching for nearly an hour with no luck.

"This is ridiculous. We’re never going to find anything here," said Marguerite in frustration. "The rain caused the river to swell so high any trail along its banks is long gone."

"Along with anyone who made the trail," responded Veronica angrily. "Is that what you mean?"

The dark-haired woman looked at her, genuinely surprised. Certainly the thought had occurred to her, but she’d never have expected it to occur to the more optimistic blonde. "You said it, not me," she said at last.

"You’re right we won’t find anything here. I don’t know what I was thinking. Malone’s not foolish enough to travel next to a flooding river in the middle of a rain storm in the dark."

"Are you trying to convince me or you? Because frankly, I’m not convinced."

Veronica looked at her angrily. "I’m going to work inland from here and back toward the rendezvous point. Maybe he found shelter." She turned her back on the heiress and stalked into the jungle.

"Damn," muttered Marguerite and followed.


"Anything?" asked Roxton.

"Nothing," Challenger replied. They’d had no luck at the clearing, so they’d headed southeast to search the gullies as Veronica recommended. They’d been at it for over an hour and still no sign of Malone. "We should begin working our way back to the women."

"You’re right." The hunter didn’t like it, and it showed on his face. "We’ll go over to that next ridge…" He pointed to the one he meant. "…then begin heading back to the clearing. That way we won’t be covering the same ground twice. Besides, there might be caves over that way where Malone could have taken shelter for the night." Traditionally, caves hadn’t been the places of refuge they might have hoped for, but any port in a storm was better than none.

The men headed toward the ridge.


"Here!" exclaimed Veronica. She was crouched near a cave opening, examining something.

"What is it?" Marguerite moved quickly to join her.


"Don’t you mean footprints, plural?"

"No. Look." She pointed just inside the mouth of the cave. The ground there was only damp, not the muddy mess to be found out in the open. A single footprint was clearly visible.

"That doesn’t look like it was made by Malone. Look at it. The tread’s not right, and the size is far too large."

"It’s a Zanga sandal."

Marguerite failed to see the significance. "So? So what if the Zanga used this cave? We’re looking for Malone, remember?"

Veronica bit back an angry remark. Honestly, she chided herself, you’ll sound just like Marguerite if you say that. Instead, she said, "If the Zanga were here last night, they might have found Ned. He could be safe with them. I’m going in to see what else I can find." She rose. "Are you coming?"

"Hang on. I think we should let the men know what we’re doing, don’t you?"

"It’ll be another hour before they meet us. We’re wasting time. We’ll just see what we can find, then we’ll head back." She was anxious to be moving. Worry over Malone was making her impatient and ever so slightly irrational—although the blonde would never have admitted it.

It took only a few seconds for her strained patience to snap. She was tired of waiting for the heiress to make up her mind. "You can do what you want. I’m going in." Veronica started into the cave.

"All right, but wait," Marguerite called to her retreating form. Veronica stopped. As she watched, Marguerite pulled a handkerchief from the pocket of her coat and tied it around a low branch of a nearby tree. It was a beacon for the men. "Just in case we find something we’re not looking for," the heiress said, and followed the blonde into the cave.


Malone awoke to throbbing. It was nothing new; it was how he’d woken the last four or five times he’d actually managed to fight his way to consciousness. This time, though, it was different. The throbbing wasn’t all in his head and it most definitely wasn’t all unpleasant.

I’m dreaming, the reporter thought. But it sure is a pleasant dream. A smile quirked his lips and he let his imagination wander. He moaned in pleasure but, believing it was a dream, made no effort to open his eyes.

"Like that, do you?" a female voice said close to his ear—so close he imagined he could feel the woman’s breath on his neck.

"Mm-hmm," he mumbled in response.


The tension in his belly grew with the movement the dream-woman made. Hands pressed his shoulders into the soft bed. He moaned again as the pressure on his upper body was released and those same hands ran luxuriously down his chest and belly.

Good god! he thought. This is some dream! He had little against which to compare the sensations; but it was definitely like nothing he’d experienced before, waking or sleeping. It was intense, primal, and oh so good. I never imagined…

Rational thought vanished as sensation overwhelmed him. Even if his eyes had been open, he wouldn’t have seen anything past the fireworks exploding across his vision. He couldn’t hear a thing beyond the roaring in his ears, his sense of smell was gone; all he could do was feel. It was oddly similar to losing consciousness again – but very, very different.

Malone cried out at the same time his eyes flew open to a sight he’d never expected to see. The dream-woman was very, very real…and he recognized her. Coherent speech had followed rational thought and neither seemed ready to return. Instead, the reporter simply lay there hoping what he thought had just happened was only another delusion caused by the blow to his head.

"Oh! You’re awake!" the lovely, naked young woman said. "I knew it would work." She smiled. "Feeling better?"

He wanted to nod, but he was too confused to do even that much. That was no dream.

The woman frowned a little in concern. She tilted her head to one side, flipping long golden waves of hair over one bare shoulder and exposing… Malone felt his cheeks heating with a sudden rush of blood.

"Uhh…" It was all he could manage. He tried to look away, to maintain some sort of decorum despite the impossible absurdity of the attempt. It was only then he realized his arms were up over his head, tied to the bedposts. "Uhh…" he tried again.

Misunderstanding, the woman asked, "They’re not too tight are they?" She seemed genuinely concerned for his comfort. "They have to be secure," she continued, "but I tried to make them comfortable." She leaned forward over him to check his bindings. Instinctively, Malone closed his eyes. He’d been taught to be a gentleman, and this was the only gentlemanly thing he could think of to do.

Finally, the woman sat back, this time to one side of the supine reporter. He kept his eyes firmly shut while he felt her moving, her weight shifting as she climbed off of him.

"You’re not unconscious again?" It was a pout that was one step short of a whine.

"No." Malone cracked open one eye then quickly shut it again.

"Then keep your eyes open! Hestia said once you woke up you were to stay awake for the next twelve hours."

"Why?" He was improving. At least his monosyllabic answers were real words now.

"I don’t know. Some medical thingy." She shrugged. Malone could feel the bed bounce with the move. "So, open your eyes."

"Could you…put something on?"

Again, he could hear the pout in her voice. "Don’t you like what you see?"

"No. Yes!" This was not a good day. "Please?"

"Hmpf." She rose from the bed, and he could hear her moving around. "There. Happy?"

Malone opened his eyes again and gave a sigh of relief to see she’d pulled on a robe. "Thank you." Then he glanced down at his own nearly naked form. "Maybe you could…help me out here?"

This time he could see her frown clearly. "But I like what I see."

The blond man flushed from the roots of his hair to the tops of his socks. She left my socks on? This is ridiculous. "Please?" he tried again. "I’m getting cold."

"Oo! Hestia said to keep you warm!" She looked at him coyly. "I could keep you warm the same way I just did?" she suggested.

If it were possible to die from embarrassment, Malone would have expired on the spot. "Thanks for the offer, but…not just yet. You understand?" I am never, ever, telling anyone about this as long as I live.

Once more, she turned on the pout, but even she couldn’t argue with nature. She pulled the blankets up, and Malone finally relaxed a little at this small amount of propriety.

"All right." Then she smiled—a smile that made Malone nervous. "But we have twelve hours."


Continued in Round 8
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