Disclaimer: The characters of Dr. Janice Covington, Melinda Pappas, Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Hercules is alluded to, so I suppose he belongs to those guys as well, although I'm using the term Herakles, we are in Greece after all, and when in Rome... you know the saying. The character of Indiana Jones belongs to Paramount Pictures. All gods and goddesses belong to mythology, as do Achilles, Penthesilea and Antandre. Any other characters belong to me. The Archaeology Museum of Amphipolis, of course, belongs to itself, I'm only playing with it, and transporting it several decades through time. Hope the powers that be do not mind too much. No copyright infringement was intended through the writing of this fan fiction. It was not done for profit, whatever that is.
Subtext Warning: This story involves a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If this offends you, you are under 18 or it is illegal in the state/country in which you live, please read something else.
Violence Warning: This story contains violence and the aftermath of violent events. If this type of thing bothers you, read no further.
Language Warning: Yes, there is swearing, oh my! If this puts you off, please, feel free to read something else.
Mythological Accuracy Warning: While the story of Achilles killing Penthesilea is accurate, even down to the eye gouging, what follows after her death regarding her spear is pure and unadulterated imagination. In addition, Achilles at Troy originally killed Antandre.
Historical Accuracy Warning: The date of the sacking of Troy is a little contentious, especially when compared to various events represented in the series Xena: Warrior Princess. Must be that time travel thing, so bear with me will you? Thanks must go to one of the best classical archaeologists I know, for making me realise I was never going to find a secure date for the sacking. I should know better by now. In addition, the dates of various documents used pertaining to the Einsatz Rosenberg have been altered to accommodate the storyline. Dont you just love playing with history?
Acknowledgments: I would like to acknowledge the work of A. Orlandos and the Société Archéologique de Athènes for their excavation and survey work in Amphipolis during the 1970's. I accidentally discovered a couple of publications hidden away in a storeroom, which helped add another facet to this story. Some material has been quoted from the Nizkor Project: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume 1. The Plunder of Art Treasures, Einsatz Rosenberg. Thanks must also go to Crick and Mop for editing and suggestions. Thanks to Frog for coming up with a suitable cliched secretarys name. The choice was Ida, Ada, Pearl, Marge or heaven forbid Sheila! Needless to say Ida won hands down, although I abstained from giving her a mullet.
Author's Notes: This story takes place with the premise that Janice and Mel have not yet met, nor have they discovered the Xena Scrolls as they stand in the episode The Xena Scrolls. I got the idea for this story after wandering around the British Museum for a day on a stop over in London. So, if anyone is to blame, its Exekias (Attic black figure amphora of Achilles killing Penthesilea, dated to c.540-530 B.C.E.) and my Classical archaeology lecturer from too many years ago for drumming black and red figure vase painting mercilessly into my brain. Goddamn I hated those slide tests!
Feedback: I'm at email@example.com
The Spear of Penthesilea
Phrygia - Sack of Troy, c.800 B.C.E.
Ares raged his red stained fury against the walls of Troy as the two figures circled each other on the battlefield. The fair-haired Achilles crouched low as the predatory woman searched for weaknesses in his defence. She was Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons who, having answered the call of Priam, now fought the Greek hero. She stood, ready for the onslaught of the warrior's attack. She parried several blows with her spear with lightening ferocity and agility. Her mighty shield took several hits as she vainly tried to defend herself. Achilles was strong, and favoured of the gods. The Amazon backed away, further from the walls she sought to protect. Pushed to one knee, she struggled vainly to ward off his strikes. Yet with an ease that seemed unnatural, the killing thrust issued forth from the spear of Achilles. Penthesilea felt the cold bronze enter through her right breast and cleave her lung. The Greek wrenched the spearhead from the stricken Amazon, letting her fall to the sanguine ground. Penthesilea coughed blood as Achilles reached to remove her helm. Scarlet rivulets ran from her chin, yet she stared defiantly upward at the warrior standing over her.
Athens to Amphipolis - late July 1941
Janice Covington deftly ducked the blow aimed for her jaw. She slammed a fist into her opponent's stomach and finished it with a right upper cut that sent the man sprawling to the stained ground. She backed away, breathing heavily.
"C'mon Stavros, ya pile o' shit, ya want some more?" she asked motioning the man to rise. She ran the back of her hand over her own bloody lip and jumped aside as the man came hurtling towards her. He flew by so fast that he almost knocked himself out on the wall behind Janice.
"Now Stavros, that's just not fair now, is it?" she asked throwing a punch that broke the man's nose. He grunted and fell against the wall, sliding down to land in a heap at Janice's feet.
"Goddamn!" she swore, shaking out her fist. "Anybody else wanna pull that kind of crap with me?" she asked, surveying the bar area. Most of the heads turned her way watching the fight, abruptly turned towards their drinks. "Good. Someone get 'im outta here."
She sauntered over to the bar, taking her previously interrupted position on a stool and slammed a glass down on the counter. "Hit me!" she shouted. A couple of people sniggered. Those words had started the fight with Stavros in the first place. Janice grinned as whisky poured into her glass. "Now that's more like it." she said, downing the drink in one. "Again."
Janice had to make it back to the Museum at Amphipolis by the next morning. She had absolutely no idea how she was going to manage it, but that was a problem to be dealt with after she was drunk. She was in Athens, and she was feeling fine.
She wasn't feeling so great as she reeled out of the bar several hours later. "Oh Jesus." she groaned, stumbling over to the gutter to relieve herself of the better part of a week's wages in whisky. "Damn I hate that." she said, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. Sitting down in the gutter a little along the street shetried to make sense of the hands of her pocket watch. "Only nine, still early. God I feel like shit." she sighed, wishing she had a drink to wash the taste of vomit from her mouth. She had to get to the bus station and get a ride to Amphipolis. Rising shakily to her feet she hailed a cab. Several cars passed her by until one stopped.
"Well it's about bloody time." she snapped, piling herself into the back seat. She managed to make it to the bus station without being sick again.
"Hey!" the driver shouted, holding his hand out for the fare. Janice shoved some money at him and staggered over to the first bus she saw.
"Amphipolis." she groaned at the man sitting on the first step smoking a cigarette. He reeled slightly at Janice's booze soaked, vomit smelling breath and sent the woman down the line of buses. Weaving her way to the right bus she tried to buy her way on.
The driver took one look at her dishevelled, drunken appearance and shook his head.
"Whaddaya mean no?" asked Janice, holding onto the side of the bus for support. "I gotta get back. Do ya know who I am?" she asked, trying to stand straight and failing miserably.
"Don't care. You can't get on this bus like that."
"Lemme on the bus!" Janice tried to push her way through the man, only ending up on the ground as she tripped on the curb.
"Fuck!" she swore, rubbing a knee and trying to look up at the man with what she hoped were pleading eyes.
"It's alright driver, I'll take care of her." said a voice from behind.
"You know this woman?" asked the driver to the voice.
"I have no idea who she is, but it sure looks like she could use a little help, don't yall agree?" the voice said sweetly.
The driver frowned, "It's not policy to take drunks on board miss."
"Now you just let me worry about that." The voice held out a wad of American dollars. The driver's eyes lit up and he licked his lips, eyeing the green backs.
"Well, I suppose " the man said greedily, snatching the money.
"That's settled then." The voice bent down towards Janice and suddenly became a pair of the most glorious blue eyes she had ever seen, even if they were obscured by glasses. "C'mon honey, let's get you up shall we?" She dragged Janice to her feet and slung an arm around her waist while draping one of Janice's arms over her shoulder. "There we go." she glared at the driver until he allowed them on the bus.
The voice that had become the eyes managed to get Janice up the stairs and into a seat by a window. Janice sat back, breathing shallowly as the eyes sat next to her. They turned to look her up and down. "You've sure done yourself in missy."
Janice turned her drunken gaze to the woman who had rescued her, noting the high cheekbones, aquiline nose and full lips. She smiled crookedly before passing out.
"The runner has returned little one " The eerily spoken words dragged Janice from her drink induced slumber. She grunted, surfacing to reality. "Oh God " she moaned, hauling herself up on the seat. What had awoken her? The bus lurched to a stop and Janice swore as she was thrown forward in the seat. Managing to peel her tongue off the roof of her mouth with difficulty, she turned her bleary eyes on to the figure next to her and blinked several times to clear her vision.
"Who the hell are you?" she asked finally.
"Well, I - "
"Oh God, lemme out, lemme out!" Janice was struggling to get over the woman's long legs. Busting through a few people in the aisle she exploded on to the pavement outside. She looked about desperately until she spied what she was looking for. She bolted towards the toilet block and dashed inside.
After experiencing an episode of something that felt like it came from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Janice Covington sat, shaking hands on her knees. "That was close." she mumbled, "Goddamn cheap whisky!"
"Hello? Hello miss? Are you in here?"
"Go away." Janice grated, mortified that the woman had come after her in the can.
"Are you alright?"
"Go away." Who did this woman think she was?
"I just wanted to see if you needed a ride anywhere."
"Go away!" Didn't this woman know when to stop?
"Well, alright, as long as ya'll going to be okay now."
"Jesus fuckin' Christ! Will you go away!" Janice screamed at the top of her lungs.
Janice heard a faint 'oh my!' and then silence. Janice hoped the woman was gone. She sat there for a few more minutes gathering the strength needed to stand and pull up her trousers. After a few attempts she managed to get her belt buckled. She flushed the toilet, sending the vile substance she had created somewhere else, and opened the door to the cubicle a crack. No crazy woman. She sighed in relief and went to wash her hands. Some dirty brown water dribbled out of the tap, but it was better than nothing. Running her damp hands through her hair to dry them she scrutinised her shocking appearance in the mirror before dragging herself back outside.
"I have a car." was the first thing she heard as she left the building. Janice whirled towards the voice, sending a wave of dizziness over her. She stumbled slightly before righting herself.
"Look lady, I dont know who you are, and I dont care. I've got my own car, its right over there." she said, indicating a beaten up truck. "I've got a lotta things to do today, so if you just leave me alone, I might be able to do some of them." With that, she sauntered over as best she could to her truck.
"My! What a rude woman!" Janice heard as she walked away.
"You bet yer ass sweetheart." she replied over her shoulder.
Janice sat behind the wheel of her truck. The woman hadnt come after her thank God. She fumbled for the keys and gunned the engine. Her head felt swimmy, but she guessed she could drive. Pulling out of the parking lot at the bus station she turned for home. She figured she had a couple of hours to get herself cleaned up before heading into the museum.
"My God, what corpse died and left you its body?" Janice heard as she walked into the secretary's office outside hers.
"Save it Ida, I'm not in the mood." she said, not impolitely. Ida was forty-something, but could have been twenty if judged by her attitude, with a shock of black hair, not yet greying, although Janice had her doubts about it. Few lines marked her face, and her eyes continually danced with mischief. She was fifth generation Australian, tough as a lump of gristle and probably the only person alive who could deal with Janice Covington. God only knew how she ended up in Amphipolis.
"Well, I just happen to have a bacon and egg roll here that says I can say anything I want." she grinned wickedly.
"You do huh?" asked Janice, mouth watering.
"I do." Ida said, waving something in a brown paper bag teasingly.
"Okay, it was a bar in Athens." Janice said, reaching for the bag.
Ida shook her head, handing her the prize. "Ya gotta learn to look after yourself darl."
Janice ripped open the bag and started shoving the contents into her mouth. "Jesus this is good." she said between mouthfuls.
Ida sighed, leaning back in her chair. "So Dr. Covington, was it Jack or Johnnie this time?"
"Dont know, but it was something." Janice had finished the roll in record time and was busy licking the grease from her fingers. She screwed up the bag and tossed it towards a waiting bin. "We got any coffee?"
"We always have coffee, you know you dont let the monthly requests go to the bloody purchase department until you've seen it has coffee, and loads of it, written down." Ida smirked.
"Just checking." Janice walked over to the kitchenette off the side of Ida's office and made herself a cup. "You want one?" she called out behind her.
"Nah, I'm right."
"Sure." Janice returned shortly and sat down opposite Ida's desk, sipping the steaming brew. "So, what's on the agenda for today?"
"I think you've killed too many brain cells Janice. Melinda Pappas is coming for her interview about the translating job remember?"
"Oh yeah. Her father knew my father right?"
"That'd be the one."
"Well, she cant be too bad then can she?" she took another sip of her coffee.
"I suppose that depends on your definition of 'too bad'."
"I mean she's not a freak or anything is she? She still has all her teeth and doesnt look like Frankenstein's monster. That type of 'too bad'. " Janice finished with a grin, but a puzzled frown crossed her face when she noted Ida's jaw drop at something over her shoulder.
"No, she certainly doesn't look like Frankenstein's monster, but can't judge for her teeth. I won't be able to tell until she smiles."
Janice spun in her chair and dropped her coffee in her lap.
"Shit!" she screamed, jumping up and desperately trying to get the burning liquid off her. "Ow, ow, ow!" she danced around until suddenly struck with the bright idea of dropping her pants. She ripped them down but they were stopped just below her knees by her boot tops. "God that hurt!" she blurted.
Ida couldn't help but laugh. Janice took one glance at her, a glance at the tall woman leaning against the door frame as if she wanted to collapse and a glance at her pants before she hurriedly bent to pick them up from around her knees. Holding them together at her waist, she wanted to melt into the floor.
"Dr. Janice Covington, meet Melinda Pappas." Ida said between breaks in her laughter.
"We've already met." Growled Janice between clenched teeth.
"Uh, but we havent been properly introduced." said the woman, managing to push herself across the room. She held out a hand to Janice politely.
Janice grimaced and went to take the proffered hand. Just as she grasped it she felt her trousers slip and struggled to keep the wet fabric up with one hand.
"Melinda is it?" she asked, pumping the hand, "Will you excuse me for a moment?" Janice tried to smile, but it came out like a ferrel snarl. Dropping the hand she dashed for her office, closing the door behind her, she could still hear Ida's laughter.
"Jesu H. Christ!" she whispered as she lent up against the door. "The crazy woman who came after me in the can! Waddam I gonna do with this one?" she asked. Steeling herself, she located a box of tissues and tried vainly to dry herself off. Half a box later, she gave up. Thinking 'what the hell', she took off her boots and removed the soaked trousers, hanging them on the back of a chair by her open window. They'd dry soon enough. She glanced about for anything to cover her lower half. Unable to find a thing that would do, she finally settled for sitting behind her big desk.
After a few moments she reached for a cigarillo out of the box on her desk and lit it. She puffed contentedly for a minute before reaching for her internal phone. "You can send her in now Ida." she said.
The door cracked open slightly, and a hesitant head popped around.
"Come on in Melinda." Janice said, trying to be civil. "You'll forgive me for not standing, but " she gestured at the trousers hanging over the chair.
"Oh my!" Melinda gasped as she came into the room, clutching a folder to her chest.
"I'm sorry about the circumstances of our previous meeting. Please, take a seat."
"Uh, so am I." she said as she sat gratefully opposite Janice.
"Look, um, I'm not normally like that. It was my day off." Janice tried to apologise lamely.
She saw the woman blush and wondered what the hell she had done.
"It's alright Dr. Covington, I dont usually rescue drunken louts off the street either." Mel said, a note of sarcasm in her voice.
"Drunken lout huh?" a smile played at the corner of her mouth.
"Oh dear!" she raised a hand to her mouth.
"Melinda, it's okay, I've been called worse. If anyone should apologise its me, I said some pretty terrible things this morning. To tell you the truth, I'm a little embarrassed. Can we just forget it?" Janice asked. She wasn't quite sure how to deal with this woman.
"Embarrassed? You mean to tell me, that youre sitting there in your underwear, about to interview me for a job, and youre embarrassed for swearing at me?"
"Well, yeah." That was it, Janice laughed, she had to, otherwise she'd cry.
Mel cocked an eyebrow at the eccentricity of the woman before her. "I dont think this was such a good idea." She made as if to rise.
"Whoa, hang on a minute Melinda, where do you think you're going? This interview has not been concluded." Janice held up a hand to try and stop the woman. She sure as hell wasn't going to stand.
"Dr. Covington, I do not know whether your approach is appropriate." Mel stuttered.
"Je-sus, relax would you, it's not like I bite or anything. I had an unfortunate accident, no-one regrets it more than me, so can we just drop the subject please?"
Since the woman had asked nicely, Mel had no option but to comply. She sighed, resigning herself to whatever was going to happen. "Very well Doctor." she agreed, casting another nervous glance at the trousers blowing in the breeze, before settling herself once again in the chair.
"Good. Perhaps I could look at your CV?" Janice asked pointedly.
"What? Oh my! Of course." Mel pulled the requested item from her folder and held it out to Janice, who just sat there, staring at it before glancing below her desk. "Oh dear!" Mel placed the document on the table so Janice could reach it. What was wrong with her? This situation was rather unsettling.
"Thankyou Melinda." Janice picked up the document and leafed through it. It was quite impressive. The woman spoke about six different languages and read several extinct ones. Janice smirked and looked up the woman sitting opposite her.
"Well Melinda, you have some CV here. Tell me, why would you want to work for Amphipolis Museum? It seems you could get a job just about anywhere."
"I I dont know Dr. Covington-"
"Please, call me Janice."
"Alright, I dont know, Janice. It's just that I know you are looking for the entirety of the Xena Scrolls, and well my Daddy always was interested in them, just like yours. I guess I wanted to continue the research in my small way."
Janice nodded. She could understand the burning need to fulfil her own father's dreams, there was no reason why Melinda Pappas should feel any different.
"I see, but you know you are over qualified for the position."
"That doesnt bother me."
"I wont be able to pay you the wage you deserve."
Mel smiled, "Daddy didnt exactly leave me in the poor house when he died Janice. I'd probably have taken this job as a volunteer if you were not offering a wage."
That surprised the small archaeologist. Nobody wanted to work for nothing in archaeology unless they were very, very rich, and most of them demanded a wage.
"You must be very dedicated to your father's research." she said slowly.
"I am very dedicated to my father's memory Janice, and I have enough of an education to realise that what he and your father began was very important. I dont want to see that lost."
"I agree Melinda." Janice sat back in her chair, puffing on her cigarillo. "Welcome to The Team." She said off handedly.
"Uh-huh, you and me sweetheart, The Team." Janice grinned.
Despite herself, Mel found that she was returning the smile. She'd never been part of a team before, somehow it felt comforting, even if it was with this, this creature before her.
The Team. Janice and her father had been The Team, but since the untimely death of Harry Covington, The Team consisted solely of Janice. It was kind of lonely. She missed having someone to talk to about the constantly appearing clues concerning the scrolls. While Melinda Pappas seemed the exact opposite of any employee she had envisaged, there was something familiar and decidedly disarming about the tall, dark Southerner.
"C'mon, I'll make you a cup of coffee." Janice said, rising before she could stop herself.
"Oh dear Lord!" was the first warning that something was wrong.
Mentally kicking herself, Janice let out an embarrassed grin." Aw shit Melinda, I'm sorry."
"No, no it's alright, here, take this." Mel said, averting her gaze and stripping off her suit jacket. She passed it to the archaeologist. "Just wrap it around your waist, you might look stupid, but at least you'll be vaguely decent."
"You're too kind." Janice said sarcastically as she took the offered item and wrapped it haphazardly around her hips.
"Much better." Mel replied, "You said something about coffee?"
"Ah, sure." Janice muttered. She could feel Melinda's warmth still on the jacket as the silky smooth lining rubbed against her legs. If she thought about it, she could smell the Southerner's scent drifting up from the fabric. 'Jesus Covington, you dont want to go there.' she thought to herself as she shook her head slightly to dispel wandering thoughts.
"Is something wrong Janice?" Mel asked, a look of concern on her face.
"I'm fine, coffee it is." she said, taking a deep breath and walking to the door ahead of the Southerner. She heard a gasp, followed by stifled laughter. "What now?" she demanded, spinning around.
"I'm sorry Janice, it's just that well, the jacket doesnt go all the way around." Mel made circling motions with a hand.
Janice felt her backside and groaned. This was not her day. She smiled crookedly and backed out of the door into Ida's office.
"Mm, mm, now that's a sight for sore eyes Dr. Covington."
"Je-sus! Will you guys leave me alone?" Janice said angrily as she flopped down into a chair. "I was going to make Melinda a cup of coffee, but I'm not moving an inch if both of you don't stop hassling me." Janice actually pouted and crossed her arms beneath her breasts.
Ida looked over to the door and winked at Mel who was leaning casually on the frame. She smiled back.
"I take it you got the job then Miss Pappas?"
"That's right, and a little more than I bargained for I suppose."
Ida snorted, "Don't worry, she's harmless really, you just gotta know how to handle her." Ida winked again.
"Hey! Hello? I'm right here, stop talking over the goddamn top of me!"
"Oh, sorry Janice." Ida grinned and reached into the bottom draw of her desk. She pulled out a brown paper packet and set it in front of her. "Now Janice, are you going to behave, or am I going to have to withhold what is in this package?"
Janice looked suspiciously at the woman, "What is it?" she asked.
"Oh no, that would be cheating, wouldn't it Miss Pappas?" Ida quirked an eyebrow in the Southerner's direction.
"Uh, yes, I suppose it would."
"Oh for Christ's sake!" Janice made to grab at the package but her hand was slapped lightly by her secretary.
"Behave Janice." It was kind of like talking to a three-year-old.
"Okay, okay, I'll behave."
"Good, here you go." Ida tossed the package to the woman who promptly ripped it open. It was a pair of pants.
"Ida! You're a star! Where'd you get these?" Janice said, jumping up and pulling the trousers on under Mel's jacket before discarding it.
"Oh, they've been sitting in my desk since the last time you spilled coffee on yourself and had to have them dry cleaned."
Janice stared at the woman, so did Mel. "You mean you've had these sitting in your Goddamn desk the whole time? You made me conduct an interview in my boxers and you had a clean pair of pants out here? Oh God Ida, I don't know why I don't fire your ass."
Ida laughed and Mel was astounded. "You dont fire me because I'm the best bloody secretary you'll find in this shit hole of a town, and probably the only one who'd work for such a stubborn, inconsiderate, rude and self destructive archaeologist. Besides, without me, your life would run completely off the rails and you'd be left up shit creek without a paddle."
"Of course! Why didnt I think of that?" Janice shouted to the ceiling, throwing her hands in the air. "Did I say something about coffee?" Janice moved off to the kitchenette, flashing a grin at the two women.
"See," muttered Ida to Mel, "You just gotta know how to handle her."
"I heard that."
The three women sat quietly, drinking coffee. Janice glanced at her pocket watch and noted the time.
"How about if I show you the site after this Melinda?" she asked after taking a sip of the rich brew.
"Yeah, the museum is excavating a site about half an hour's drive from here. It's yielded some interesting things so far. I have a feeling that we might get some scrolls out of it if we're lucky."
"You're not directing?"
Janice shook her head. "Only in name, the field director is Dr. Karl de Cardi. Known him for years. I trust him, he does a good job, and I cant be everywhere."
"I see, I've heard of him. I think my father worked with him once."
"Excellent, then you two should get along."
Mel smiled. "Just give me a minute to change will you?" she asked.
Janice blinked until she realised what the Southerner was saying. Of course she had to change, she couldn't go wandering around an archaeological site in a dress suit and heels, it'd probably get her killed.
"Sure, um, you can use my office."
Mel placed her cup on Ida's desk and headed out to her car, she grabbed a bag and in a couple of minutes was changing in Janice's office. She normally carried the bag of work clothes with her. Although she was not an archaeologist per se, she'd done enough work on her father's sites to know her way around an excavation. Heels were definitely not the deal. She hurriedly pulled on a pair of worn trousers, one of her father's old shirts and a pair of boots that looked like they had seen better days. She pulled out a hat, not dissimilar to Janice's fedora, and shoved it on her head, no sense getting sunstroke. The last item she pulled from her bag was a trowel. It had been her father's, and it was showing it's age. Having once been six inches in length, it was now down to four, all from use. It had a slightly lopsided shape, indicating that the user had been right handed. As a work tool Melinda loved it, as her father's, she cherished it. Shoving the item in her back pocket, she headed back to Ida's office.
She was greeted by two shocked expressions as she strode into the room.
"What?" she asked, turning to look over her shoulder. No, nothing there.
The transformation was incredible, it was all Janice could do not to rack her gaze up and down the woman before her. She looked as if she had been born in work clothes. Even the trowel in her back pocket seemed a natural accessory for the tall woman.
"Um, good work clothes Mel, ah Melinda." Janice stumbled over the translator's name.
"Why thankyou Janice, and Mel is fine. You didnt think I'd change into a safari suit or something did you? Im sorry, I forgot my pith helmet." she said with a sly smile. That was exactly what the woman would have thought. Mel had no delusions of what people assumed when they first met her. It must have been her accent, or alternatively, she had Southern Belle tattooed across her forehead.
"No!" Janice lied guiltily. "It's just that you look so different."
"Thankyou, I think."
Ida was flicking her gaze back and forth between the two women. Despite their obvious physical differences, they could have been clones as far as their clothes were concerned. She shook her head. Janice had got herself into something, and the secretary hoped she knew what she was doing.
"Why dont you two go check out the site. I'll be here this arvo when you get back." she said, trying to jolt Janice out of her stunned expression.
"Yeah, the site, uh, let's go." Janice managed before striding purposefully out the door.
Mel endured half an hour of the worst drive she had ever undertaken.
"We could have taken my car, it is a four by four." she said as they neared the site.
"So's this, suspension's gone, clutch plate's just about had it, engine needs an over haul, but she's a pretty good truck all up Mel." Janice said as she felt the gears slip.
"You're kidding me? Must be a miracle it still moves. Hope the brakes are okay."
Her comment was answered as Janice slammed on the brakes beside the work tents of the site. Mel flew forward but managed to catch herself before she cracked open her head on the dash.
"Yeah, but the hand brake's gone." Janice said, jumping out and placing a brick behind a front tyre.
"Should have taken my car." she muttered, not relishing the trip back to town.
Dr. Karl de Cardi heard the approach of Janice's truck several minutes before she arrived on site. He shook his head, thinking that it was really about time that the good doctor invested in another vehicle. He pulled himself out of his trench and made his way over to the beaten up wreck Janice called her truck.
"Hello Jan." he said, grabbing the woman in a fierce bear hug.
"Hey Karl, how's the site?" she said, squashed into his chest. The man was a little overbearing at times, built like a brick shit house with the face of Adonis.
Karl grinned, that was Jan, not 'how are you?', but 'how's the site?'. He pushed the small woman away from him and looked her sharply in the eye. "She's fine, got something for you Jan." He said slyly, baiting the woman.
"Yeah? Have to show me. By the way, this is Melinda Pappas. She's translating for the museum." Janice indicated Mel as she stepped from the truck.
Karl gave her an appreciative stare before holding out his hand. "Pleased to meet you Melinda, I'm Karl de Cardi. I've worked with your father, great man, sorry for your loss. How are you?"
Mel tried to compute this rapid onslaught of information from the tall, fair-haired, hulk of a man in front of her. "Could be better." she grimaced, casting an irritated glare at the pile of rusting machinery behind her.
Karl laughed, instantly liking the woman. "Well, I said I had something for Jan, but if your translating, it's really for you."
"A scroll? You have a scroll?" Janice shouted, pushing her way between Mel and Karl.
"Hang on Jan," Karl said, holding his hands up defensively, "no, it's not a scroll, just a piece of parchment, but it does need translating."
"Oh." Janice seemed disappointed.
"But before that, why dont I show you the site?"
Karl spent the next half-hour escorting the two women from trench to trench, describing what they had uncovered so far.
"I see," said Melinda after a lengthy explanation of one of the trenches, "so what you are actually saying, is that this later defensive wall is cutting into the earlier one. Interesting, I wonder what happened?" She mused.
Janice stared at her. It was becoming clear that even though Mel was a translator, she sure knew her practical archaeology.
"What do you mean?" asked Karl.
"Well, it seems that the earlier wall was quite sufficient, what is it, about ten feet across?"
"Solid mud brick, thought that would hold up to almost anything. I once saw a four wheel drive plough head long into a third millennium mud brick wall and get written off without causing as much as a dent in the wall. There is no evidence of destruction in this case, so why then did it all change? I mean, why alter the entire fortification? Why get rid of a perfectly good wall, only to build another and add a revetment wall against that. That is a revetment in section isn't it?" Mel asked, eyeing the section curiously.
"I'm sorry?" Karl asked staring at the tall woman in front of him as if he wanted to dive of the side of the section.
"A defensive revetment, built up against the wall. Here, let me show you." Mel said, jumping into the trench and removing her trowel from her back pocket. "May I?" she asked, trowel hovering inches from the section.
Karl nodded his consent and Mel set to work, scraping down a portion of the section. After several minutes she had cleaned the areas she wanted and pointed with her trowel.
"Here, you can clearly see the how this mud brick is abutting the wall, look at the slope, it's uniform, you can even see the mud brick layers if you look closely."
Karl followed her gaze and swore. "Shit, it is a revetment, we thought it was collapse."
Janice was staring at the two figures. "Jesus Karl, look at the thing! Of course it's a revetment." Although Janice had to admit that she probably would have missed it too, it did look remarkably like collapse... unless you looked closely.
"I'm sorry Janice, I'll change the notes and get a sample from the section. I can't believe I missed that." He hung his head, shaking it slowly. He'd probably just made the biggest mistake of his archaeological career. How could he have supervised the removal of an entire wall?
"Hey, look, it happens to the best of us, you can get the base in plan. Besides, its only a small portion, the thing probably goes 'round the entire site, right?" Janice said, trying to make the man feel better.
"Sure Jan, whatever you say."
Mel couldnt help but feel bad. She had been trying to prove to Janice that she knew what she was talking about, not humiliate Karl in front of her. She had no idea that the archaeologist had not picked up on the revetment wall. But then, her father always said that she had a talent for excavating
"Ah, Dr. de Cardi? It was hard to spot. I uh, wouldn't have noticed it if I wasn't so intrigued by the other wall." she tried to back pedal as she climbed out of the trench and dusted down her clothes, shoving her trowel in her back pocket.
"It's alright Melinda, as Janice says, it happens to the best of us." he took a deep breath. "Now, I suppose I should show you this parchment." he said as he stalked off to one of the tents.
Janice looked at Mel as she stared after the downhearted archaeologist. "Jesus Mel, how'd you see that?"
"What? Oh," she adjusted her glasses, "I just did, I dont know." she shrugged disarmingly.
"Well, remind me to keep you around okay?"
Mel smiled warmly at Janice, and the small archaeologist would have been floored had she let herself. The smile was pure and genuine with no hint of malice or suspicion as she was used to receiving.
"Despite it all Janice Covington, I think I'm beginning to like you." Mel turned on her heel and followed Karl to a tent.
"Beginning to Hey! Wait up!" Janice called and ran after the woman.
"We found this yesterday." Karl was saying to Mel as Janice entered the tent.
"Where exactly?" Mel asked, looking at the parchment laid out flat on a tray.
"In one of the alcoves running off the main wall. It was preserved between the stone slabs of the floor. Damn strange place for it to be." He shook his head.
Mel shrugged, "Maybe somebody wanted to hide it." she said matter of factly.
"Maybe." muttered Janice, craning around Mel to get a look at the thing. Sometimes she hated being short, it did not go with her personality. "Can you read it?"
Mel gave Janice a withering look, "You did actually look at my CV when I gave it to you didn't you?"
"Of course I did! But I dont know what the hell script that is written in, do I?"
"It's Classical Greek, and yes, I can read it." she said, a little put out.
"Good, what does it say?"
Mel rolled her eyes. "Janice, this is hardly the newspaper. There is the small matter of dialect and syntax."
Janice frowned, "I thought you said you can read it."
"I can, but I need a little time to work out the meaning of the whole thing, I cant just read it to you word for word, it wouldnt make any sense."
"Look," she turned to de Cardi, "We'll take this back to the museum and I'll work on it this afternoon. I should have the translation fairly soon, the thing isnt that long. Is that okay?" she cast a glance in Janice's direction.
"Sure Melinda, just let me make a note of the catalogue number and its all your's." Karl said, reaching into his breast pocket for a notebook and pen. He scrawled down the object's catalogue number and a brief description before nodding.
"Okay, lets do it." Mel said authoritatively.
"Right then," Janice echoed, "we should be going." Janice said, eager to get the parchment back to the museum so Mel could begin translation.
She nodded to de Cardi and picked up the tray with the parchment off the table. "Thanks for the tour Karl, we'll see you soon."
Karl walked Janice and Mel back to the truck and waved the two of them off frowning. Nobody interacted with Janice like that after knowing her for such a short period of time. Something was going on. Karl shook his head and felt a prick of jealousy in the pit of his stomach. "No de Cardi." he mumbled angrily to himself walking back to his trench.
The trip back to the museum was no less jarring than the trip to the site. Mel was worried about their precious cargo, so she kept the tray on her lap. She was more concerned about damage to the object than damage to herself, so she often took the brunt of various knocks after Janice had slammed the car into another rut or pothole. Janice insisted that she was driving carefully and Mel wondered what her reckless driving was like. No wonder the suspension was shot. They finally made it back to the museum.
Taking a seat in Ida's office, Mel dragged her hat from her head and wiped a sweaty brow with the back of her sleeve.
"Next time," she said pointedly, "we take my car."
"There's nothing wrong with Bessie." Janice said defensively.
"Bessie? You have a name for that heap of junk?" the Southerner asked, dumbfounded. She sent pleading eyes in Ida's direction but received only a smirk.
"She's a good truck Mel, she just needs a little work."
Mel snorted and Janice frowned.
"C'mon, shall we go to your office and have a look at this text?" Mel asked after a moment of tense silence.
Janice nodded and motioned for Mel to enter before her as she carried the tray. The archaeologist carefully set the tray down on her desk and sat down. Mel moved over to her bag and rummaged around for a moment until she pulled out a pair of white cotton gloves.
"So I dont get the natural oils from my hands on the artefact." she explained to Janice's questioning expression. Janice looked down at the parchment. She wished she had known that before. She hated to think how many bits of parchment and scroll there were in the museum with her 'natural oils' on them.
"Oh, I didn't think you were going to burst into a rendition of Mammy". she said trying to cover up.
Mel laughed and raised her hands, shaking them from side to side. She moved over and took the chair opposite Janice's desk. "Paper and pencil?" she asked.
Janice swore and pulled the requested items from a drawer. She handed them over to the translator who was absently staring at the parchment in front of her.
"Ah Janice, this is probably going to take a while. You're not going to sit there gaping at me for the next four hours are you?" Mel asked, feeling Janice's eyes on her.
"What? No, I'll ah, be out in Ida's office if you need me for anything." Janice said, pushing back her chair and rising. She hadnt been staring at the woman had she?
As soon as the door closed behind the small archaeologist, Mel let out a long breath. Of all the bits of parchment to uncover, it was one of Gabrielle's. She was keeping her mouth shut for the time being, otherwise she'd never get a chance to translate the thing with Janice hovering over her continually if she found out. The last thing she needed at the moment was the feisty archaeologist peering over her shoulder. Mel knew she had always been attracted to women and was comfortable with that fact. However, the images playing through her mind after knowing Janice Covington for half a day were utterly ridiculous.
Mel worked steadily throughout the afternoon, with only a couple of breaks for coffee. She refused point blank to tell the archaeologist what the scroll said until it was fully translated. Janice grumbled about never being told anything and spent the rest of the afternoon sulking with Ida.
Late in the afternoon Mel emerged, holding a series of papers.
Janice jumped up from the chair she was lounging in and almost knocked the translator over in a effort to claim the information.
"You've got it?" Janice asked, sounding like an eager child.
"Yes, I've got it." Mel said, taking advantage of their height difference, holding the papers above her head and well out of Janice's reach. Janice jumped up and down a couple of times until she realised she probably looked stupid.
"So, are you going to let me read it?"
"On one condition." Mel said slowly.
"What's that?" Janice would have done anything.
"That we get out of here and find something to eat, I'm starved."
"You're on, c'mon, I know a great place." She grabbed Mel's arm and dragged her to the door. "See you tomorrow Ida."
Ida waved them out the door thinking that she wouldnt be too far behind them.
"No! Stop right there Janice Covington." Mel shrieked when Janice tried to pull her in the direction of her truck. "We go in my car."
"No, I'll have none of it. My car or no translation." she said sternly, trying to adopt Idas technique with the troublesome woman.
"Je-sus! Why do I do these things?" Janice muttered as she gestured for Mel to lead the way to her vehicle.
Janice stopped dead when Mel halted by something that could only be described as a small tank with wheels instead of track.
"Goddamn, you said car Mel."
"Well that's what it is, you need something like this for off road survey dont you?"
"Yeah, but, what the hell is it?" Janice asked, walking around the vehicle, translation momentarily forgotten.
"I dont know, a bit of this, a bit of that. My father designed it just before he died. I took the plans to a manufacturer and this is what they produced." She smiled, patting the vehicle.
"You're right, next time we go to site, we take your car."
Mel laughed as she opened the passenger side for Janice. The archaeologist gasped. Outside the thing looked like a Chieftain, inside it was well, like a Rolls.
"You like it?"
"Most people do, I call her Argo."
"Janice are you alright?" Mel asked, placing a hand against the woman's brow.
"Uh-huh." Melinda Pappas was turning out to be something completely different to what she had first expected, and she was just about to have dinner with her. Shit.
The room was smoky and crowded, but somehow Janice had managed to wrangle a table near the back, away from the bar area. Mel had not bothered to change out of her work gear since she subconsciously realised the Janice's idea of a 'great place' probably constituted something like that in which they now were. That and the fact that the woman had dragged her out the door.
"What do you think?" Janice asked as she sat came over to the table, depositing a glass of wine in front of Mel and a scotch for herself.
"Well Janice, it certainly has character." she grimaced as she heard someone hoick and spit in the background.
"Yeah, I've always loved this place, its so earthy."
"Just what an archaeologist needs right?"
"Yeah, now, how about that translation?" she asked, taking a swallow of scotch.
Mel shook her head, "After we eat, you dont want me to faint half way through do you?"
Janice mentally kicked herself. Of course the woman wanted to eat first, she'd even said as much earlier.
"Geez, sorry Mel. I guess I was just excited by the find. What do you want to have?"
Mel smiled, at least the archaeologist knew when to slow down, even if it had to be spelled out to her.
"What have they got?" Mel leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table.
"They do a great Irish stew." Janice said after another swallow of scotch. She also neglected to add that it was probably the cheapest thing on the menu.
"Irish stew it is then."
"Excellent." she said, finishing her scotch.
Janice ordered for them both and got them another drink, even if Mel was only half way through her wine.
"Are you trying to get me drunk Dr. Covington?" Mel asked as the fresh glass was placed beside her. "Because I'll have you know, that if we are both drunk, I won't be able to rescue you this time." Mel looked slyly over the top of her wineglass with laughing eyes.
"Drunk? No I ah, I guess there is more in a wine glass right?" Janice met the laughing blue eyes and stopped breathing. This was not good, not good at all. She tore her eyes away and stared down at the table. "I'll be right back." she stammered, pushing herself to her feet and heading for the bathroom.
Janice leaned against the bathroom bench, and held her head in one hand, digging her fingers into her scalp. 'Okay Covington, she looked at you for Christ's sake thats all. People look at you every day, big deal. Sure, not all of them are really attractive, intelligent women, but people do look at you. Like that? Like what? So you stop breathing? Did she really look at me like that? Did I really stop breathing?' Janice berated herself over and over, chasing the thoughts around in her head. She felt just a little helpless and cursed herself for it. It was like someone had smashed her in the face and she didnt know how to react. After what seemed like a respectable amount of time she mentally shoved the thoughts down and made her way back to the table.
The stew was waiting when she arrived and Mel was waiting for her. She swore silently to herself. Great, the woman was starving and Janice had made her wait.
"You could have started Mel." she said as she sat down and pulled a napkin onto her knee.
"It's alright Janice, I dont really like to eat alone. It was only a couple of minutes." Mel picked up a fork and stabbed a bite-sized piece of meat. She raised it to her lips and tasted of the flesh. It was delicious, melt in the mouth and very, very tasty.
"My goodness Janice," she said after she had swallowed, "You said it was great, but this is the best stew I've ever tasted. Who's the cook?"
Janice laughed, "Would you believe a very small and very old Chinese man?"
"Really? I'll have to get the recipe from him. Arent you going to eat Janice?"
Janice suddenly realised that she had been too preoccupied watching Mel eat to worry about it herself.
"God yeah!" she said, taking a healthy forkful and shoving it in her mouth. A second and then a third quickly followed.
Mel stopped her second forkful halfway to her open mouth and watched as Janice proceeded to shovel forkful after forkful of the savoury dish into her face.
"Do you always eat like that?" she finally asked.
"Esh." Janice said around a mouthful.
"You'll get indigestion." Mel warned.
Janice shrugged and pushed another forkful in. By the time Mel had taken her third bite, Janice was sopping the juice from the bowl with some bread. The bread gone, the petite archaeologist leaned back in her chair and stretched.
"Arghh that was good." she said, looking around at nothing in particular.
"Yes it is."
Janice grinned sheepishly but then realised the only thing of interest to look at was Mel placing forkfuls of stew between her lips. Janice cleared her throat, downed the rest of her second drink and headed for the bar.
"You've got to slow down Janice, if you keep going like this, you'll be on the floor in no time." The barman said as Janice ordered another round.
"Save it Nik, and make it a double."
Nik blew out a breath as he filled Janice's request. "You sure do got it bad Janice. How long have you known her?" he asked innocently.
"Dont you get a hint? I havent got anything, and she's my employee." Janice said coldly, handing over some money.
"Sure, whatever you say. Just dont come crying in here to drown your sorrows when the whole thing blows up in your face."
"I was going to tip you." Janice said, turning her back on the bar.
By the time she got back to the table, Mel had thankfully finished her meal.
"What took you so long Janice? I was just about to come look for you." the translator said, dabbing at the corners of her mouth with the napkin.
"Just having a word with Nik behind the bar. Are we ready for that translation yet?"
"Oh my! Of course, I'd nearly forgotten. I'll read it to you since it would have originally been orated."
Janice nodded and Mel took a sip of her wine before smoothing her translation on the table. She cleared her throat and began.
My name is Gabrielle, Bard from Poteidaea. Some call me bard to the Warrior Princess, but I stand in my own right. I am Queen of the Amazons. I write this script, not as a tale I would normally scribe, but as historical fact, for I hold the item in question. As surely as I now bear the right of caste to the Amazon Nation this account is true, having passed from line to line. It is my duty, as Queen, to see that the veracity of this matter is not forgotten.
The story of the death of Penthesilea, Amazon Queen, is well known to history. History, however, has omitted the most important information. We understand that the Queen died at the hands of Achilles on the walls of Troy, long before my time. Yet in death, Achilles loved her. Achilles was laughed at and seen a fool by Thersites. Who could love a corpse? The ugly Thersites even gouged Penthesilea's eyes, bloodily from her head with his own spear to prove the worthlessness of the hero's affection. This angered Achilles mightily and he slew Thersites with one blow of his fist. Diomedes, outraged at Achilles' action, ordered the body of the Queen thrown into the Scamander, and thence, the Queen was lost.
Unbeknownst to Achilles, Artemis, protective deity the Amazons, had watched the death of her beloved Queen. So distraught was she by her loss at the hands of the brutish Achilles, Artemis took the strength and heart of Penthesilea and imbibed them into her spearhead. It is believed that whosoever carries the spear of Penthesilea, carries also the strength and heart of the Amazon.
After the death of Penthesilea and the slaying of Thersites, Achilles was overcome with emotion for his dead love. He retrieved her spear and kept it with him until his own death as he drove the Trojans back over the walls of Troy, an arrow from Paris guided to his heel by Apollo.
The spear of Penthesilea would have been lost in the ruins of the Phrygian city had it not been for the brave Antandre, one of the Amazons Penthesilea had taken to Troy. Antandre scaled the walls and retrieved the spear of the Queen from Achilles' death grip before Ajax and Odysseus removed his body. She returned soon after to Amazon lands with her tale and the spear. The spear was given a place of honour by the Amazons and has since passed to each Queen in a long line of successors.
As Queen, I now possess the spear. It has a common bronze blade, two spans long and ribbed. The tang is socketed and fits securely around the shaft. It is nondescript, but it is a symbol of our bravery and power in the face of defeat. To conquer death with love, that is strength not easily recognised.
The collective memory is written, whosoever wields the spear will be as one with the Amazon.
"My God!" Muttered Janice after Mel had finished reading, "She was a Goddamn Amazon Queen." she said, almost in disbelief.
Mel said nothing, Janice probably needed a moment to get her head around what she had just heard.
"A real Amazon Queen with a real spear! Mel! Do you know what you have just translated?" she asked leaning over the table in anticipation.
"I know what you think I have just translated Janice. This may not be proof of the actual existence of Amazons. There are many forms of writing Janice." She didnt want to disappoint the woman, but she had to be made aware of the reality of the situation.
"But Gabrielle says it's fact, and we know she existed. She said she was the damn Queen for Christ's sake, what more do you want?"
"Do you believe everything you read Janice? Have we ever found Atlantis or the remains of a hydra or a minataur? What about centaurs, griffins, nymphs, giants, and any number of other things? It's just mythology and poetic licence Janice." Mel folded her translation and looked across at the archaeologist who was now looking a little deflated.
"We could find the spear?"
"Yes, and we could also find a needle in every haystack on earth. If we are to believe Gabrielle on this, the spear is nothing more than regular military issue. How many of those do you have already in the museum, and how many of them are still out there in the ground?"
"But " Janice trailed off, Mel was right, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
"Let me buy you another drink Janice, you look like you could use it." Mel said as she rose, leaving the stunned archaeologist alone at the table.
There was a spear, she could feel it in her bones, and it was somewhere out there waiting for her.
"So you're with Janice are you?" Nik asked as Mel fished in her pocket for some money.
"Yes, that's right, I'm working at the museum."
"Started today." She handed the cash over.
Nik whistled and raised his eyebrows, "That was quick, she usually gives them a week."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Before she brings them here, you know."
"No, I dont know, and who is 'them'?"
"Um, Janice's lady friends." Nik said, blushing slightly at Mels lack of understanding.
"I see. As if it is any concern of yours anyway. Besides, dinner was my idea." Mel had no idea why she was trying to explain herself to this man.
"Your idea?" Nik shook his head, "I hope you know what you are in for lady." he said as he handed her the change.
"I guess I'll find out." Mel said, gathering the two drinks.
She sat down heavily at the table and pushed Janice's drink over to her. "My, does that man have to know everything about you Janice?" she sighed.
"What do you mean?"
"I have apparently just been mistaken for one of your 'lady friends'." Mel said haughtily.
Janice choked on her drink, spraying the table and herself. "One of my what?!" she coughed, grabbing a napkin and wiping herself down.
"Well, first of all he said 'them', but that was later clarified to 'lady friends'."
"Oh. Just forget it Mel." Janice said, still mopping at her shirt front.
"No I wont forget it. If I'm going to be mistaken for your lover, I want to know why?"
Oh boy, Janice did not want to be having this conversation. She took a deep breath.
"Nik's a fool Mel, he doesnt know what he sees."
"He seems pretty assertive to me."
"Yeah? Well he's not, he's just a bar tender who wouldnt know what a lover was if one came up and bit him on the ass. Can we drop this?" she was feeling decidedly uncomfortable.
"So, do you come here often with your lovers? You must lead a very exciting life Dr. Covington, enticing young women to a seedy bar for dinner." Mel asked over her wineglass, a wicked glint in her eye.
"Mel! I do not 'entice' young women here." Janice whispered harshly.
The translator smiled, "Oh, so they come of their own volition?" she said in a scandalised tone.
"Stop, stop right now!" Janice ordered.
Mel laughed, an amused laugh of delight. "I'm sorry Janice, you should see the look on your face." Mel laughed again, "Come on, I'll drive you to Bessie." she said rising and reaching for the archaeologist's hand.
"Are you sure you're alright to drive Janice?" Mel asked as she dropped the archaeologist off at the museum.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Janice picked up the brick from behind the front tyre and slung it on to the back seat of her truck. She fumbled a moment in her pocket for the keys and inserted the right one in the ignition.
"Okay Mel, thanks for dinner and the translation. See you tomorrow." She turned the key and was greeted by a whining, coughing sound.
"Is everything okay?" Mel asked, winding down her window.
"I think she's just cold." Janice answered. "C'mon Bes, don't you do this to me." The engine turned over again but would not fire. Janice pumped the gas for a moment, still no joy.
"Shit!" she swore again, popping the hood and jumping out. No, battery cables were fine. What the bloody hell was wrong with the vehicle? Janice kicked a front tyre and yelped as pain spiralled its' way up her leg and had to jump back as the bonnet crashed down into place.
"Goddamn sonofabitch!" she yelled, hopping around on one foot.
"You sure everything is okay?" Mel asked again. "I can give you a ride if you like."
Janice took one look at her car and retrieved her keys before slamming the driver's side door closed.
"Yeah," she stood with her hands on hips, giving Bessie the most disgusted look she could manage. "If you dont mind."
"Not at all, c'mon, get in." Mel leaned across the vast expanse of her vehicle and opened the passenger's side for Janice. The archaeologist sank gratefully into the seat and leaned her head against the back. "Goddamn stupid car." She mumbled.
"Better be careful, she might hear you." Mel smiled as she pulled her car out the museum car park. "Which way?"
"Left, then left again." Janice said absently, trying not to look at Mel's hands on the wheel. She'd worked herself up into a sorry state over the entire evening, and the car problem was not making it any better.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Mel's soft voice. "You know Janice, it's still quite early. What do you usually do in this town for entertainment?" The Southerner glanced over.
"What? Oh I usually go to a bar."
Janice shook her head. "Generally by myself." Now that she thought about it, she didnt know if she really had any friends. She supposed her dominant personality tended to scare people away. She couldn't help it, she had to fight to get where she was and she guessed that fight had worn off on her approach to people. She knew she was seen as an eccentric with a terrifying temper and unnatural sleeping habits. That was why she was working at Amphipolis and not the Getty or Metropolitan Museum of Art, she was a liability, but she hadn't really cared until now.
"Well, we've already been to a bar, how about coffee?"
Janice turned her head to gaze quizzically at the woman driving the car. "You mean you haven't had enough of me for one day?" she asked with a snort.
"I have to admit that you are a little addictive Dr. Covington."
Despite herself Janice teared up. "How can you say that? Since I've met you, I've been drunk, rude, self centred, have exposed myself to you, desperately thought about going off on a wild goose chase for a stupid spear and have people thinking you're sharing my bed! I've been nothing but a complete arse Mel."
"As I said, you are a little addictive." Mel smiled over at the distraught woman.
Janice shook her head. How could Mel be this calm? Janice was mortified as a tear slid slowly down one cheek.
"I ah don't really feel like coffee Mel, if you could just take me home? You need to take the next right." she said, wiping at the errant tear.
"Sure." Mel reached over and patted Janice reassuringly on the knee. Janice almost jumped out of her skin. "But you know, it's not worth the tears Janice, I dont think any less of you for it."
Janice tried to smile. What did the woman think of her? She finally nodded and turned to look out the window as they pulled in to her street. "Here is fine Mel."
Mel pulled the car to a stop and waited for Janice to get out. "I'll come get you in the morning." she leaned across the front seat and spoke out the window. "Sleep well."
She received no answer as Janice walked up the front steps to her apartment building. Mel shook her head at the retreating figure. How was she going to sort this one out?
"Are you afraid Dr. Covington?" Janice awoke to a vaguely familiar voice grating through her mind. She opened her eyes to blackness.
"I asked if you were afraid."
The small archaeologist tried to focus on the sound, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere. She blinked into the gloom and tried to move, only to realise that she was held securely by something. She struggled against her bonds to no avail.
"Who the hell are you?" she finally screamed, hoping the note of panic could not be heard in her voice.
"Ahhhh, I see you are afraid."
Janice twitched as she felt cold, raspy breath against her neck. Long nails trailed softly down the side of her face.
"There is no need for fear Dr. Covington. I am a friend."
Thin lips replaced the chill breath on her neck and Janice shuddered.
"Who are you?" she whispered breathlessly, wishing she could see, "And where am I?"
She heard a soft chuckle against her ear. "You are here Dr. Covington, and I am Hecate."
Janice stopped breathing. Hecate? She frowned in the blackness.
"If you are a friend, why am I held like this and why can't I see?" she was instantly freed and stumbled forward as the veil of blackness lifted. Janice stared around her wildly but could find no sign of the goddess.
"Where am I?" she repeated. She appeared to be standing in the middle of a crossroads in the middle of nowhere. All around were green fields, cut only by the three roads forming the crossroads where she stood. As she turned, she noticed a statue of a woman with three heads. 'Hecate,' she thought. Thinking of nothing better to do, she addressed the statue.
"Why have you brought me here?" The small archaeologist spun when she heard laughter behind her. Sitting no more than three feet away from her was a she-wolf.
"Idolater." the she-wolf cackled. "Why these people insist on erecting such vile pieces of stone work never ceases to amaze me."
''Hecate?" Janice breathed.
"Indeed little one, and as to why you are here, I need your help." Hecate said, indicating the roads with her muzzle. "But first, why don't you come down here to my level?"
Janice instantly dropped into a crouch, a little shocked that she had been looking down at the goddess.
"You are troubled Dr. Covington. Your life has not been easy. It seems that every where you turn people wait to cast you aside. You are not taken seriously, and that angers you very much. Am I right little one?" the goddess asked.
"You're the goddess, you tell me." Janice said gruffly. Little one?
"Those walls will not work with me little one. Do you know who you are?"
Janice snorted. What type of question was that? "I'm the daughter of Harry Covington." she sneered. If she hadnt of known better, she would have sworn that the she-wolf smiled.
"No little one, do you know who you are?"
"I I " Janice faltered, her mind was blank. Did she know who she was? A tear slid down her cheek as she realised that she had absolutely no idea. Ever since she could remember she had been existing to fulfil another's dream. She had made it her own but was it really, or was she just plagiarising her father's aspirations now he was gone? She felt helpless, lost and totally alone.
"Little one, you are worth so much more than that." Hecate moved over to nuzzle at Janice's hand. After a moment, the she-wolf stepped back and space seemed to slip. Standing before Janice was the figure of a tall female warrior dressed in leathers and armour. She was the spiting image of Melinda Pappas.
"Who are you?" Janice whispered as the figure reached out a hand to stroke the side of her face.
The warrior smiled sadly. "I am still Hecate, but this guise is of the one you have sought for so long."
"Xena " Janice frowned as long fingers trailed down her jaw line.
"Indeed little one," The warrior shuddered and a look of anguish passed over her features. "Oh me, I can feel her, she has loved you for so very long but I am distracted, there is more."
The figure changed again and Janice could have been looking in a mirror.
"Who is that?" she forced out through a constricting throat. Suddenly she didnt feel so great.
"It is Gabrielle little one. Do not be afraid."
A moment later a spear appeared in the womans hands and she held it out to the archaeologist. Janice tilted her head to one side and reached out a hesitant hand, lightly touching the weapon. She drew in a sharp breath and pulled her hand clear of the spear as if it had burned her. The goddess stepped away from Janice, and the archaeologist almost collapsed, breathing heavily.
"Do you understand?"
Janice shook her head to clear it. "The spear " she breathed.
"And you, little one, are the descendant of the Amazon Queen." the goddess said, returning to her she-wolf form. She showed her teeth in a grin.
"Je-sus " she trailed off.
"Which is why," the she-wolf padded 'round in a circle, "I need your help."
Janice frowned, "I'm listening." She was still having a little trouble coming to terms with what she had just been shown. Gabrielle, her ancestor, and what was that about love?
"Well, why Artemis needs your help really. She hasn't spoken to your line for over two thousand years, not since Gabrielle. There was some sort of disagreement but I am not permitted to speak of it " the goddess trailed off.
Janice's eyes almost popped out of her head. "This is too weird." she muttered.
"So, she's sent me, to enlist you."
"Enlist me for what?" Janice asked warily.
Hecate sat on her haunches directly in front of the archaeologist and pierced her with her yellow eyes.
"The runner has returned. The Spear of Penthesilea is in danger little one."
Janice sat bolt upright in bed and reached for the bedside lamp. Her mouth felt dry and she could feel sweat stinging her eyes. She wiped a hand over her face and took a deep breath.
"The runner has returned." she mumbled to herself. She felt certain she had heard it before, but who the hell was the runner? The spear was in danger? Then it did exist, or she was hallucinating. Perhaps she was going insane. She giggled, she wouldnt put it passed her.
Mel arose the next morning, showered, dressed in a fine dark navy suite, preened herself in the bathroom for well over half an hour and headed out to her car. She stopped by a bakery on the way to Janice's to pick up some fresh pastries for breakfast, and was soon walking into the foyer of the building asking for Janice's apartment number.
"Five-zero-four miss. Take the elevator to the fifth and it's directly on your left. She moving up in the world is she?" the doorman said, looking Mel up and down.
Mel snorted down her nose at the little man and headed to the elevator. The machine looked like it was something out of a 1920's horror flick. It creaked and groaned, shuddered and lurched its' way up to the fifth floor. Mel had a moment of panic when she couldn't get the doors open, but they finally relented, spewing her out into the fifth floor foyer. She took a calming breath before she rang the doorbell to 504. She waited for what seemed like an eternity before she heard several bangs and crashes followed by muffled swearing from within. She grinned and cocked an eyebrow, waiting for the door to open. When it finally did, Janice was standing bare foot in a pair of boxers and white cotton T-shirt.
"Oh shit! Not again!" the small woman swore before bolting back the way she had come.
Mel laughed and let herself in, wandering through the dishevelled flat until she found the kitchen. She could hear Janice fumbling around some place. Mel took one glance at the items littering the kitchen benches and blanched. Half-finished plates of food, beer bottles and god knew what else made for a right mess. She found the espresso maker, cleaned it, spooned in a healthy serve of coffee and set it on the stove. Next she washed a couple of cups, located the sugar amid a pile of empty glasses and set about looking for milk. She had only opened the door to the icebox a couple of inches before deciding it was not a very good idea. With a strangled noise she shut the thing quickly and retreated to the kitchen table.
"I think you need a house maid." was the first thing she said to the archaeologist as she walked through the door, buckling her belt.
"Yeah, sorry, I haven't had time to clean recently." Janice mumbled.
"And when was the last time you went shopping for food?"
"I dont know, couple of weeks ago."
Mel shook her head. "You've got to look after yourself Janice, you'll get sick."
"You sound like Ida, and I get by okay."
Mel gave the smaller woman an exasperated look. "Well, I brought us breakfast, and coffee's on. No milk, but their might be some penicillin in the ice-box by now."
"Ha, ha, you kill me." Janice said as she sat down, grabbing a pastry out of the bag. "Thanks for breakfast." The archaeologist saluted with the pastry before shoving half of it in her mouth.
The coffee announced its' readiness and Mel rose to pour two cups of the strong liquid. She set the cups down on the table and stared across at her employer.
"Are you alright this morning Janice?"
Janice frowned as she sipped her coffee. "Yeah Mel, I'm fine. Dont know what got into me last night. I guess I was just tired or something. I did have a pretty bad hangover."
Mel took a delicate bite of pastry. "Because you know Janice, if you ever need to talk about anything, you should consider me a friend."
Janice stopped chewing, a friend. It all came rushing back, Hecate, Artemis, and the spear.
"Are you sure youre alright Janice?"
"Yeah, fine." she licked her lips, tasting sugar. "Mel, theres something I have to tell you."
"Go ahead." Mel said around a bite.
"Youre probably not going to believe me, but I received a visit from Hecate last night, the Spear of Penthesilea is in danger." she whispered conspiratorially.
Mel scoffed, waving the comment away with her hand, "I think you had too many drinks last night Janice and your imagination ran away with you."
"No! It's true it exists. She showed me Xena and she showed me myself, Gabrielle." There was a tense pause as Mel opened her mouth to say something but snapped it shut again. "She needed my help Mel."
"Hecate, as in the creator of sorcery, and youre Gabrielle?" Mel said incredulously, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes, Hecate as in the creator of sorcery, and Im not Gabrielle, Im related to her, just like youre related to Xena. You dont believe me." Janice said flatly.
Mel chewed thoughtfully. "I believe that you believe it Janice, but it's a little hard to fathom." she said diplomatically.
Janice shook her head, "Someone's after the spear, Hecate said the runner has returned, whatever that means."
"C'mon Janice, we dont even know if the thing is real. But if were going to play this game, the runner is probably Achilles." Mel gestured with her pastry with one hand and a brought her coffee cup up to her mouth with the other.
"Thats right, the Achilles who killed Penthesilea the guy in the scroll last night, the one I translated, remember?" Mel pierced the archaeologist with stern eyes.
Janice frowned and shook her head a little, "How could he return?"
"I dont know, its your machination." the translator shrugged.
"Dont patronise me Melinda Pappas. The spear exists, I touched it." Janice looked down at her hands and shivered.
"Im not trying to patronise you Janice, Im just pointing out that reality seems to be escaping you for the moment. And another thing Janice "
"What's that?" she said absently, her mind wandering to other matters.
"You have a little something on your face." Mel said, a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth as she leaned over and wiped a big dollop of cream from Janice's cheek with her handkerchief.
"Aw Jesus! Why didn't you tell me?" the archaeologist groaned, as she wiped at her face with the back of her hand, momentarily embarrassed out of her reverie
"I just did, and it's gone now Janice."
"How long's it been there?"
Mel smirked, "Ever since you took your first bite."
"Goddamn! And you let it stay there?"
"Well it did look kind of cute." Mel grinned.
"Jesus! I'm sitting here with half a goddamn pastry hanging off my face and you think it's cute? What are you doing here?" Janice shook her head.
The grinned dropped from the Southerners face. "Cmon, we'd better get to the museum."
"Where is Dr. Covington?" the man in SS uniform asked, leaning over Ida's desk.
The secretary shrugged and glared defiantly at the man's clear blue eyes.
"She doesnt usually come in before ten Captain." she eyed the man's epilates.
The man snorted and pushed himself away from the desk, disgusted at American laxity.
"I will wait."
The man sat in one of the waiting chairs, legs crossed, casually picking at his nails. Ida noticed with distaste that he flicked the little pieces of dirt onto the floor. The man looked up, taking in her sneer.
"You colonials are all the same," he said dismissively, "you never recognise true power when you see it." He tilted his head thoughtfully for a moment, "Or perhaps you are of convict stock?"
That was it, no one called Ida a colonial, and no one insulted her convict ancestry. She half rose from behind her desk.
"You listen here you mongrel, my father died fighting bastards like you in the Great War, and I'll be damned if we let you win this one." she glared fury.
The Captain laughed, "You amuse me Fraulein. Now sit down!"
"I will not-" but she was cut off short when she heard voices in the corridor.
The SS Captain raised an eyebrow as the door opened and in walked Janice and Mel. Janice stopped dead when she saw the thunderous look on Ida's face and spun, only to be greeted by the black chest of the Captain.
"Ah, Dr. Covington, so good of you to arrive." he said smoothly.
Mel gasped and grabbed on to the wall for support. Ida sank back into her chair casting an apologetic look at Janice.
Janice looked the man up and down for a moment noting his impeccable uniform, auburn hair and Aryan features before stepping back.
"Who are you, and what the hell are you doing in my museum?" she wished her .44 revolver wasn't in her desk in the other room.
The man smiled evilly, "I am SS-Hauptsturmführer Eric Vogt, and no Fraulein, this is not your museum." He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper. Vogt handed it to Janice with a small flourish of victory.
The archaeologist unfolded the item with a sense of trepidation. She noted the emblem of the Reichs Chancellery at the top of the page and the sense of doom became worse
"On whose authority " she began, but trailed off when she saw the signature of SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, at the foot of the page. She scanned the text.
19th July 1941
Memorandum to: SS-Haupsturmführer Eric Vogt
From: The Chief of Security Police and Security Service SS-Gruppenführer R. Heydrich.
Re: Order by direct command of Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, dated 17th July 1941.
Relating to the original Hitler Order, the further support of the SS has been requested for the undertakings of the Einsatz Rosenberg. It is to be understood that the SS, not the regional authorities, will assume the confiscation of books, scientific materials, art treasures, household furnishings of value and antiquities in the area of Amphipolis. On the order of Reichsleiter Rosenberg, this confiscation of materials will additionally include excavation of previously identified structures on the acropolis of the old town. All artefacts recovered from excavations are the property of the German Reich. The Führer has reserved for himself the decision as to their use. It is your obligation to undertake this order regarding the Archaeological Museum of Amphipolis.
Chief of Security Police and Security Service
"I am part of the Rosenberg Organisation doctor." he said snidely. "You will take your orders from me, is that clear?"
"Crystal." Janice mumbled.
"What do you mean 'crystal'? asked Mel, who had recovered enough to become angry.
Janice turned to her, "What do you want me to do Mel?" she threw her hands in the air and clenched her teeth.
"Dr. Covington is very wise Fraulein. But I apologise, my briefing did not include mention of you."
Mel bristled, unsure whether to introduce herself or not. Deciding it would probably be stupid not to, she smiled. "Melinda Pappas."
"And your position in this affair?"
Strange choice of words. "Translator of texts."
"Excellent. Now perhaps Dr. Covington, you would be so kind as to give me a tour of the museum?"
Janice snorted, "What, so you can pick and choose the objects to ship back to Berlin?"
Vogt shrugged, "That is an interesting sideline of my work. Doctor?" he asked holding a hand to the open door.
Janice spent the first two hours of the morning silently fuming as she showed Vogt around the museum. He wrote several things in a little black notebook and asked her a few questions.
"What is the provenance of this mosaic doctor?" he asked, stopping by the reconstruction of the small tesserae.
Janice glanced briefly at the artefact in question. "It is from the Acropolis, Captain, from the settlement area of the ancient town dated to approximately the Fourth century B.C. I believe this particular piece was removed from the atrium of a house. As you can see, it has a double border with representations of fish, octopi, birds and trees around the outside. The interior decoration is of two youths spearing fish."
"I am not blind doctor, there was no need to elaborate. What else do you have from the Acropolis?"
Janice bit back a scathing remark with difficulty. "Recent excavation has revealed a basilika, however this was totally destroyed in antiquity. There are Byzantine fortifications to the east-"
"No, I mean artefacts doctor."
It appeared that Janice could not stall. "Apart from more mosaics, we have recovered several black figure amphorae, one depicting Dionysus "
"Have they been attributed to a specific painter or group?"
"Not as far as I am aware."
Vogt grunted but wrote it down anyway. He glanced briefly at Janice and fingered one auburn sideburn, "Tell me about the mound on the acropolis."
Janice blanched, "Ah, it was surveyed in a few years ago and was interpreted as a tumulus. We haven't been able to determine its' exact nature without excavation, but that has been held off due to the large amount of earth covering it. You would need a large team and a bulldozer to get down to the chamber. We don't have those type of resources." she said, hoping to put off Vogts attempt at excavation.
Vogt smiled. "You need not worry about your resources doctor, the SS is very resourceful."
"You cant be serious." Janice was astounded.
"Very serious Fraulein. I intend to make the most of my position here and follow my orders. Do not underestimate me."
Janice had had just about enough of this man. "It takes weeks to set something up like this, paper work, permission, workers. You you can't just start!"
"As I said, do not worry, and Doctor, I am all the permission that is needed."
Janice's jaw dropped open but she shut is quickly with an audible click.
"Ah, I need to go to my office, feel free to look around some more." she managed to get out before stalking off.
Ida and Mel were sitting quietly when the tornado that was Janice Covington stormed through on the way to her office. Janice slammed her door with such intensity that the windows rattled.
"Goddamn fucking Nazi swine!" she bellowed pacing back and forth in front of her desk, gesticulating wildly. "Thinks he can come in here and start an excavation. Doesn't know the first thing about it. Thinks we'll dig a hole and find the goddamn Ark of the Covenant or something. Stupid, goddamn condescending arse hole sonofabitch!" she kicked over one of the chairs and stood breathing heavily.
"Ah Janice? Are you alright?" Mel asked from the door.
Janice whirled and stared at the translator. "No I am not fucking alright! Does it look like I am?" she yelled.
Mel took a deep breath and wondered what she had just let herself in for.
"It kinda looks like you're upset." she moved into the room but avoided the volatile archaeologist.
"Upset? Yeah, you could say that." Janice said, placing her hands on her hips and nodding vigorously. "But that doesnt cover the half of it." she kicked at the fallen chair causing Mel to jump back.
"Wrecking you're office isnt going to fix anything Janice."
"No? Couldve fooled me."
"Oh sweet Jesus, why dont you calm down and tell me what's happening?"
Janice ran a hand through her hair and pierced Mel with her eyes.
"That Nazi bastard wants to rip up half the Acropolis, that's what's happening!"
"Everything's out of control and I hate that."
Mel smiled, moving over to the distraught woman. "You mean it's out of your hand's and you hate that."
"Exactly! What am I gonna do?" the small archaeologist appeared to deflate before Mel's eyes. "What am I gonna do?" she asked again, shaking her head.
Mel was suddenly struck by an overwhelming desire to comfort the woman before her. Her expression softened and she reached out a hand to brush hair away from Janice's face.
"Hey, it's alright." she murmured as she pulled the archaeologist to her, holding her tightly against her chest.
"Oh shit." she croaked as tears formed in her eyes and spilled onto Mel's chest.
Mel clung to the weeping woman, stroking her hair as she cried.
"That's it, let it go." she muttered as she felt Janice's arms snake around her waist.
Janice allowed herself to be held, comforted by strong arms and soft words. She couldn't believe this woman. She'd been nothing but insensitive and uncaring since they met and now she was being held like a child. Janice loosened her grip on the Southerner to look up into her face. Their eyes locked and Mel smiled. Janice was lost. She suddenly became aware of the position of her hands and the warmth radiating from the Southerner's body. She felt Mel's own hands stroking her hair and back. Janice blushed, pulled free of the embrace and scrubbed at her face with her sleeve, looking everywhere but at the Southerner.
"Jesus, I'm sorry Mel. I'm a mess. Look what I've done to your jacket. I I dont know why I did that. I'm sorry." Janice turned away, shoulders heaving. What was she doing?
"It's alright Janice, I understand, sometimes you've just gotta let it out." She moved to stand behind the smaller woman and placed her hands on the quaking shoulders, turning Janice slowly around. They stood at arms length for a while, Mel searching the archaeologist's eyes.
"Oh dear Lord, so help me, I want to ." Mel breathed in a frustrated voice.
"You want to what?"
"Ever since I met you," the Southerner laughed, "even on that darn bus, I Ive wanted to kiss you Janice Covington." The Southerner admitted, unable to ignore the emotion building within her.
Janice gulped but said nothing, her gaze flicking to the Southerner's lips and back up to her eyes. She let out a long breath through a smile as Mel wiped away some of her freshly fallen tears.
"Why would you want to do that?"
"If you knew," the Southerner continued, smoothing Janices hair from the side of her face, "you'd run screaming for the hills."
Janice dragged in a harsh breath. Why was it so hard to breathe? "Jesus." she shuddered.
"Will you let me Janice?" the Southerner asked, moving in slightly.
Janice made no attempt to stop the woman in her advance. She didnt think she could even if she wanted to. She was transfixed and reeling from the suddenness of the encounter. How had things got so reckless so quickly? Mel reached up a hand and removed her glasses, she was mere inches away from the archaeologist. When Janice did not protest the closeness, she moved in the final distance, embracing the smaller woman's lips with her own. Mel revelled in the soft, warm, inviting flesh of the archaeologist's lips as she smoothed her tongue under Janice's top lip. Janice yielded to the questioning muscle and found her mouth invaded by the voracious Southerner. Their tongues slid smoothly together, each exploring the glories each had to offer. Janice finally broke the kiss when she felt Mel's hand cup a breast.
"Holy shit!" she rasped, swallowing hard. She brought a hand up to her temple and breathed heavily, frowning at her body's clear response. She held up a hand as Mel tried to speak and walked over behind her desk where she collapsed in the chair. "Holy shit."
"Oh my, Janice if you didnt want me to, you only had to say " Mel trailed off, feeling like the scum of the earth.
Janice shook her head. "It's not that Mel." she paused for breath, "It's just I wasn't expecting to feel like I feel."
"How do you feel?" Mel had to know if she'd just made a big, big mistake.
Janice grinned at the stricken look that appeared on the Southerner's face.
"Like I'm going to I dont know what. Mel " she said, letting out another breath.
She scrubbed an unsteady hand through her hair. "I need to think, too much is happening on too many fronts. Okay?" she looked up, seeking reassurance.
"Of course you need to think." The translator frowned at her own stupidity. "Im sorry Janice." she said, backing away from the archaeologist's desk. She didnt know whether to feel elated or disappointed.
"I'll be outside, with Ida." the Southerner nodded, but got no further than half way to the door when it burst open and Vogt walked through. He took one look at the flushed archaeologist and frowned. What was going on? He glanced at Mel, she seemed calm enough. Had they been discussing him behind his back?
"Covington," he said, "I want to look at maps and plans of the Acropolis as it now stands. You will get them for me."
Suddenly Janice's office began to feel very small as Vogt walked over to her desk. She rose slowly and moved to a large, flat filing cabinet against one of the walls. After checking the labels on the drawers, she pulled one open and extracted a couple of large sheets.
"You, Miss Pappas, what is this?" Vogt asked, picking up the parchment from Janice's desk and waving it around.
Mel shrieked in alarm and ran over to the man. She managed to extricate the document and placed it carefully back on its tray.
"That," she began a little breathlessly, "is a rather fragile two thousand year old piece of documentation."
Vogt cleared his throat, suddenly aware of his error. "I see. What does it concern?"
Mel caught the warning glance from Janice. "It is an historical account regarding the death of Penthesilea, Amazon Queen, at the hands of Achilles at Troy." she said tersely.
"Historical? Forgive me, but wasn't Achilles a mythical figure?" he asked, slightly amused.
"That's correct, but the text is written in an historical manner Captain, not necessarily a factual one."
"Ah, the thin line between fact and fantasy." he said coldly.
The pause before his final word was not lost on Mel. Nor was it lost on Janice.
"The plans, Captain?" she said harshly, throwing the requested material onto the top of the file with much more gusto than was needed.
"Indeed." He glanced once more at Mel before focussing his attention on the large sheets of paper Janice had rolled out before her. He gazed at the plan for a few moments, his military mind working.
"So, the supposed tumulus lies directly behind the housing complex. Does the close proximity bother you? Why is it alone?"
Janice shrugged. "No, the closeness to the houses does not bother me, and it was not uncommon for well to do families to have large tombs located near their residence."
"So you think the tomb is associated with one of the houses?"
"I dont know, it is possible, but it is also possible that the tomb had nothing to do with them. It may be of a later period, but we wont know for sure unless it is excavated." she finished, realising she had just given Vogt a legitimate reason to begin the excavation.
"Excellent! Now, doctor, I must use your phone. If you will excuse me?" he asked, gesturing to the door.
More than a little put out at being excused from her office, Janice glared at Vogt before grabbing Mel by the sleeve and hauling them both out of the door.
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