The African Queen
Text ©2003 Roger E. Moore (email@example.com)
Daria and associated characters are ©2003 MTV Networks
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Synopsis: Fourteen heavily armed men went hunting for her in the jungle. It was not a fair fight.
Author’s Notes: This story was written as an entry for Erin M.’s Iron Chef competition on PPMB, to create an “impossible” crossover for “Daria.” It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the major characters of the “Daria” TV show, so explanations of who is who are not needed.
Acknowledgements: Thanks go out to Erin M., for starting the contest!
When they came after her, it was fourteen to one.
Something struck a tree to Klinger’s left, and he whipped his shotgun around—but now he had his back to her. She leaped from the undergrowth and drove her right foot like a sledgehammer into the small of his back. He cried out and fell, his trigger finger tightening. The shotgun blast hit bearded McCaffrey in the head and killed the fellow poacher instantly.
She was gone before either body had hit the ground.
“What in the living hell are you doing?” shouted Vasquez, pushing his way forward through the line of poachers. “Kill the girl! She was right among you!”
“She’s a ghost,” whispered Bellows. Sweat ran down his face as he turned about, gray with shock. “She’s a bleeding ghost.”
Enraged, Vasquez slapped Bellows across the face. “Enough of that! She’s a girl! She can be killed! She’s screwed up this expedition enough and made fools of us all! We haven’t gotten a single leopard pelt, and there’s going to be hell to pay when we get back, do you understand? Kill her or don’t come back at all!” He stomped over to his lieutenant, crouching over the groaning Klinger.
“We’re in trouble,” said Culbertson, rising to his feet. “He may have internal injuries. We’re going to have to carry him back. We’re down to twelve men now, and we’re on her home ground.”
“Then we’ll just have to make it our ground, won’t we?” snarled Vasquez. “Leave him here for now. Get moving, and shoot the little monkey.”
Bellows met her next. The end of her five-foot fighting stick slammed into the back of his skull. He went down like a sack of grain. O’Hara turned and saw her, but she was running at him by then. Her fighting stick went under his right arm as she went past, and she levered his head around and downward and into a tree trunk, knocking him out cold. She snatched up her stick and disappeared a moment later.
Vasquez found both his men a few moments after that.
“Enough of this!” he screamed. “Enough of this! Look everywhere! Shoot the little bitch! Fill her stinking body with—”
Something crashed against the ground a short distance away. Men shouted out as they raked the undergrowth with automatic gunfire. A poacher screamed in agony.
“Cease fire!” roared Vasquez, his face purple. “Cease fire, you fools!”
A quick investigation revealed two more men down, one of them dead—both shot by friendly fire. No trace of the half-naked jungle woman could be seen.
“Now eight,” murmured Culbertson, his face white.
Vasquez was fit to be tied. “Only shoot if you see her, you idiots! You’re killing each other! You’ll hit me, too, and I swear on the graves of my ancestors, I’ll—”
A loud thump and a grunt came from his left. He spun, his rifle up, and saw Culbertson sprawled out on the ground. A five-foot pole lay near his head.
The Ghost Woman’s fighting stick.
“She’s in the trees!” Vasquez shouted, looking upward as he spun around. “She’s in the—”
He saw her, then, but she wasn’t in the trees. She was behind Richards, her arm around his neck, jamming a hypodermic needle into his side. Where in flaming hell did she get that? Vasquez fired from the hip, hitting Richards in the abdomen by mistake. As Richards gasped and sagged, she snatched something attached to the top of her loincloth and threw it at—
Vasquez dropped his rifle and screamed, grabbing for his eyes. Unearthly pain ravaged his face from the peppery sphere that struck his face. “She’s here!” he shrieked. “She’s right here! Shoot! Shoo—”
* * * * *
She returned to the scene of the battle a few minutes later, walking in silence among the casualties. Five dead, far more than she had expected. The poachers obviously had no concept of fire control. Richards had perished from his gunshot wound, not from the syringe of narcotics with which she had intended to knock him out. She toed Vasquez’s boot, but he too was dead—shot by his own men, just like the others. The survivors had gathered their wounded and fled, so terrified of the Ghost Woman that they refused stay in the jungle a minute longer.
She picked up her fighting stick and looked around her at the lush rainforest. It saddened her that in the midst of all this noisy tangle and vibrant color and perfumed air, there had to be death. It wasn’t like this back in Lawndale, she knew. Life and death were the ways of the jungle. Both walked beside you every second that you lived. She knew that now better than anyone.
“You’ve been keeping busy,” said a deep, pleasant voice behind her. The speaker had an English accent.
“A woman’s work is never done,” she responded, and she sighed. “At least they won’t be shooting leopards any longer.”
“I suppose not.” A huge, bronze arm snaked around her bare waist. “Had enough of this kind of life?”
She already knew the answer, but she still thought back on her short time here. She was very young, a novice at defending the wild, gorgeous tropical world she had come to love. She had once been an artist, a thin, lanky high-school girl from Lawndale with a bad attitude, a bit of raw creative talent, good running legs, and big dreams. It seemed like a million years ago, like someone else’s life and not her own.
She thought about her old home and wondered who lived there now. Trent, maybe. Everyone else would be gone now.
Had she had enough of this new world, this new life?
“No,” she said softly. “Not at all.”
He was quiet, and she looked up at him—his tangled black hair, piercing blue eyes, and incredible musculature. He was both more and less than human, his only possessions a loincloth, hunting knife, and coil of rope.
He looked down at her and grinned playfully.
“Me Tarzan,” he said. “You . . .?”
She pulled away from him and slapped him lightly on one massive bicep.
“Jane’s my younger sister, you ass,” she said with a smile. She ran a hand through her short red hair. “She’s probably in college now, doing what she thinks is real art.” She stretched out her hand and turned in place, indicating the bright green world around them. “This is real art,” she said, awe in her voice. “This is all that matters now.”
The ape-man laughed. “One Lane woman is more than enough for me,” he said, and he pulled her close. His face bent down to hers.
The world disappeared when they kissed.
In time, hand in hand, they left the sad scene around them and walked away through the rainforest, on a path leading them to the Honduran airfield where their plane awaited. Tomorrow, she would be on a new continent—in Lord Greystoke’s home—
Action/adventure, shipper (Penny Lane/Tarzan), crossover (Tarzan)