Across the Junn-Junn Wastes ...by
by Van ©2011


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Bonnie settled into fighting stance, her shield raised and war-club at the ready.  There was movement down the tunnel behind the blue door, silhouetted against the torches beyond.  Then—a raptor and rider exploded into the arena!

It was Trussa.  Like Bonnie, she was naked with her skin oiled and hair pulled back in a tight ponytail bound with ribbons, only Trussa's ribbons were blue.  The free ends fluttered in the wind of her passage like pennants and lifted her braid.  A blue-painted and padded shield slightly smaller than Bonnie's was slung across her back, as was a sheathed weapon, possibly a sickle-sword or scimitar.  She held a coiled lasso aloft in her right hand, saluting the crowd.

This hardly seems sporting, Bonnie thought, then took several slow, careful paces to the center of the arena, turning as she went to face the thundering raptor and its grinning rider as they loped around the periphery.  She took the occasion to test her footing.  The sandy floor was packed and was quite adequate; excellent, in fact.  She noted that the raptor's tack was minimal, with no headstall or reins.  The saddle was only a thin pad held in place by a simple harness, and was without stirrups.  Nonetheless, Trussa rode with the ease of a life spent on raptor-back.  She even began to show off, reversing herself in the saddle, leaning low to either side to brush the sand with her coiled lasso, and even doing a brief handstand.  The crowd loved it.

The shield and sword are strapped tight, Bonnie noted.  If I can dismount her, it will take her a few seconds to get ready to fight.

Bonnie ignored the crowd.  There was no crowd.  She set her mind and body to walk the Warrior's Path, as she'd been taught by her Tuscaroran elders.  The order of the day was maximum effort and situational awareness balanced with narrow focus, but without falling into the trap of target fixation.

Needless to say, alone and on foot against a mounted opponent, Bonnie was at a distinct disadvantage.  Her options were limited.  If Trussa continued to circle, slowly narrowing the radius of her orbit, when she cast the lasso Bonnie should be able to dodge and/or bat it aside with her club or shield.  If Trussa came straight on, dodging would be more difficult, but Trussa would be more at risk of being dragged from her saddle, if Bonnie was on her game and luck was with her.  Unfortunately for Bonnie, defense against mounted attack was a theoretical topic.  The Tuscarora knew how to ride, but they were a forest people, not virtual centaurs like the tribes of the Western Luropean Great Plains.

This is a show, Bonnie reminded herself, and that might balance the books, at least a little.  Trussa will try for style points, rather than a quick, clean attack.

And then it happened.  As if of its own will and without direction from its rider, the raptor made a tight turn towards Bonnie, whipping its tail and spinning in its tracks in a manner impossible for a horse.  Simultaneously, Trussa deployed the noose of her lasso, gave it one quick spin, and made her throw.  The noose was still in the air as the raptor planted a foot and its tail began to swing, again.

Bonnie realized what was happening.  In what was obviously a well-practiced maneuver, the raptor and rider were reversing out of the turn.  The lasso would arrive with the added speed of the charge, then tighten with the momentum of their departure, pulling Bonnie off her feet.  With the speed of instinct, Bonnie made her choice and acted.  She let the war-club fall from her hand to dangle by its wrist-strap, used the shield to bat aside the noose, then released the shield's handle, grabbed the rope with both hands, set her feet, and pulled with all her might.

Bonnie was pulled from her feet—but Trussa was pulled from the saddle, as well.

The crowd went wild!

Logically, as she'd been thinking before, Bonnie should have dropped the rope and charged before Trussa had a chance to ready herself, but she decided to retrieve the lasso, instead.  This was, supposedly, entertainment.  If the Sand Amazons wanted a show, she'd give them a show.  Maybe things would go easier for her... and for George.  However, sham combat or not, Bonnie was determined to win.

Meanwhile, Trussa had recovered from the fall with an acrobatic roll.  She stood and faced her mount with one eye on Bonnie and the other on the raptor.  She clucked her tongue and raised her right forearm.  "Tock-tock-tock!"  Obviously, it was a signal for the raptor to approach so she could vault back into the saddle.  Curiously, the raptor took several slow, deliberate steps backwards, away from its rider, then tucked its forearms against its breast and curled its tail.

The crowd hooted and stomped their feet.

Trussa shook her head in amused disgust, then directed a rueful grin towards Bonnie.  "She want me to handle you myself!" she shouted.  She had to shout to be heard over the crowd.  "I think she like you!"

Bonnie coiled the lasso and tossed it to the side, then readied her club and shield.  "Even raptors appreciate a good show!" she shouted back. 

Trussa released the strap securing her shield and weapon, slid the shield's strap onto her left arm, then pulled what turned out to be a padded sickle-sword from the sheath.  She then tossed the strap and sheath aside.

The die was cast for theatrical combat, however real the blows about to be exchanged.  Bonnie politely waited for Trussa to finish readying herself.  She then extended her club towards her opponent, paused, then thumped her shield—thud, thud.

Trussa smiled and returned the salute.

There was a brief pause... then they charged and their shields clashed!

Again, the crowd cheered!

Across the Junn-Junn Wastes

"No!" George wailed, twisting her bound wrists.  She was on her feet, like everyone else in the stands.  She was the only one present with her hands tied behind her back and her bare feet in shackles.  She was also the only one present not clearly enjoying the martial spectacle on the arena floor.

Bondara leaned close and spoke into George's ear, her voice raised to be heard over the cheering amazons all around them.  "Your friend good.  Your friend warrior."

"What's going to happen?" George demanded.

"They fight," the Queen answered.

Down in the arena, that was exactly what was happening.  Bonnie and Trussa were trading blows.  The clash of their padded weapons was almost inaudible, but whenever the unpadded faces of their shields slammed together, there was a crowd-pleasing thud.

"No!" George complained, again.

Bondara laughed and kissed the top of George's tousled mop.  "Your friend already pass test, Little Trout.  Your Bonnie already prove she warrior.  Enjoy show."

George sighed, then gasped in alarm!  "No!"

Across the Junn-Junn Wastes

Trussa had overextended, exposing her sword arm to a bone-breaking blow, but before Bonnie's war-club could connect, Trussa slammed their shields together, spun her body around with her right leg extended, and tripped Bonnie to the ground.

Bonnie quickly recovered, absorbing Trussa's follow-through blow on her shield while still on one knee.  She stood and shook her head.  "That was the stupidest thing I've ever seen!" she shouted.  "In a real fight, I would have bashed in your skull or broken your knee."

Trussa shrugged, her smile never wavering.  "Crowd love it!"  It was true.  The noise was deafening.

The fight continued, with neither opponent gaining an advantage.  Eventually, the pace of combat slowed.  The fighters' oiled forms were now shining with sweat, as well, where they weren't covered with sand from the arena floor.  Their shields came together, again, and Bonnie made a decision.  She released the grip of her war-club and let it drop, pointing her hand so the wrist-strap slid free.  Her hand now completely unencumbered, she grabbed Trussa's sickle-sword, just above the hilt.  She gave it a twist and it left Trussa's hand, more easily than it should have.  Apparently, Trussa had also decided to drop her weapon.  Shield to shield, they grappled with their right hands, pushing, twisting, and pulling.

The crowd reaction was mixed.  Some jeered while others cheered.  The mob was divided between those who wanted more bashing and those who favored an unarmed tussle.

Bonnie released her shield's grip, twisted her wrist and grabbed the padded rim of Trussa's shield, lunged forward, then spun to the side.  They both lost their footing and tumbled to the sand, then rolled in a tangle of sweaty, oiled bodies.

They came to rest with Bonnie on top and straddling Trussa's back.  Bonnie managed to slide her left arm free of her shield's strap while at the same time planting her left knee on Trussa's shield and against her elbow, preventing her from doing the same.

Trussa struggled, but it was clear she was pinned.  "Honker poo-doo!" she cursed, then sighed, turned her head, and smiled at Bonnie.  "You not supposed to win."

Bonnie wrenched Trussa's right arm behind her back and trapped it under her right knee.  Trussa tried taking advantage of the change to roll onto her side, but Bonnie took hold of her ponytail and pulled her head back.  "Stop that," she growled, "or I'll use the un-padded end of my war-club to give you a bash behind the ear.  Then you'll miss the rest of the show."

"That ruin my day," Trussa chuckled.  "Okay, Luropa-girl win.  Trussa surrender."

"As if I'm going to trust you," Bonnie scoffed, then took note of the long ribbons at the end of Trussa's braid.  "Hmm... more than adequate."

"Adequate for what?" Trussa asked, then sighed, again.  Bonnie was using a ribbon end to bind her right thumb.  Next, her left arm was freed from her shield and its thumb bound, as well.  Finally, the third ribbon was used to reinforce and cinch the thumb bondage.

Bonnie pulled Trussa to her knees with her left hand gripping her prisoner's braid, then reached for her war-club.  "You aren't going to give me any trouble, are you?" she inquired, holding the padded business end before Trussa's smiling face.

"Trussa already surrender," the captive subQueen noted.

"And Trussa... trussed," Bonnie noted.

The crowd was more-or-less quiet, collectively stunned by this unexpected turn of events.

Meanwhile, Bonnie had hooked Trussa's lasso with the head of her club and was sliding it towards her.  "Don't move," she ordered, dropped the club, and picked up the lasso.  The crowd murmured as she proceeded to take three turns around Trussa's neck, then tie it off with two half-hitches.  She didn't use the lasso's noose as she didn't want to trap Trussa's ponytail.  She wasn't feeling particularly vindictive.  And besides, the braid made for a convenient handle.

Bonnie retrieved her shield, gripping its handle and the coils of what was now Trussa's tether in her left hand.  She picked up her war-club, tossed it into the air, and slid her wrist through the strap and caught the grip while it was in midair.

"Show off," Trussa admonished.

"Quiet," Bonnie snapped.  With her captive bound and on her knees and her shield held at the ready, Bonnie extended her club and slowly turned in a full circle, sweeping the club across the hushed crowd.  She was careful to step through the slack rope.  It would ruin the effect if she tripped herself.

"Bonnie!" George yelled, her soprano voice clarion clear in the hushed silence.  Countless heads turned towards the diminutive, suddenly blushing prisoner next to their Queen, then swiveled back to Bonnie and her prisoner.

Bonnie smiled and nodded at her partner.  Then, her features set in grim determination, she gestured with her club at the crowd, again.  "All right, then!" she shouted.  "Who's next?"

The crowd went wild, chanting "BON-NIE!  BON-NIE!  BON-NIE!"

Trussa turned her smiling head and said something, but her words were lost in the cacophony.  Bonnie leaned close.  "Parade!" Trussa shouted.  "You supposed to lead parade!"


Bonnie smiled and nodded.  "Stand!" she ordered, and the humiliated captive (that is, the obviously not humiliated captive) did so.  War-club raised in triumph, Bonnie led Trussa in a slow victory lap of the arena.


Flowers and bundles of green leaves were tossed from the exultant crowd, raining down and settling on the sandy floor like sparse, multicolored snow.


Across the Junn-Junn Wastes

As Bonnie finished leading her prisoner in the victory lap, hundreds of Amazons poured from the stands and lifted Bonnie onto their shoulders.  Bonnie's shield and war-club were pulled away.  She looked back over her shoulder to make sure Trussa wasn't being trampled, but her captive was gone.  There was no sign of George or the Queen, either, not in the stands or on the arena floor.

Midway between the red and blue doors, a section of the main wall rumbled to the side, revealing a wide passage.  Simultaneously, the closest section of the inner wall dropped into the sand.  The way now clear, the amazon throng carried Bonnie into the tunnel beyond.

Another sponge bath and skin oiling followed, accomplished by Bonnie's new fans.  She asked when she'd be able to see George, but all of her inquiries were politely brushed off or met with vague answers like "later" or "soon."

Bonnie was dressed in a leather loincloth of gleaming brown held up by a narrow belt.  The chamois-thin leather was trimmed with feather and bead tassels, both in red.  Her hair was released from its braid, cleaned, dried and brushed.  Two narrow braids were tied, entwined with thin, red ribbons.  They dangling to either side of her face.  The majority of her brown tresses cascaded down her bare back.

Then, it was off to a party and feast.

Bonnie was handed a goblet of wine and introduced to forty or more subChiefs, Chiefs, and overChiefs.  All were in their late thirties or early forties, as best Bonnie could tell.  She politely accepted their praise of her combat prowess and did her best to remember all of their names.  There was still no sign of Trussa.

And then, George and the Queen appeared!

"Bonnie!" George squealed, ran forward, and embraced her partner.  George was easily the youngest present, the next oldest probably being Bonnie, herself.  "Ooh, I'm so glad you're okay!" George sighed.  "I was so worried!"

"I was worried, too, Georgie," Bonnie chuckled, returning the hug.  Her partner was wearing a loincloth and bra-top of white linen decorated with white fish, of all things.  "Nice outfit," Bonnie teased.

George blushed.  "Shuddup!"

"A well-fought battle, Warrior Bonnie," Queen Bondara said after introductions.

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Bonnie acknowledged with a bow.

More wine and trays of excellent food followed, but try as she might, Bonnie had no real chance to talk to George.  The amazon officers monopolized her time, plying her with refills and asking her opinion of various weapons and fighting techniques.  She only managed to exchange a few sentences with her partner.  "Trade negotiations" were mentioned, but the Queen and the others brushed off all further inquiries.

"Tomorrow," Bondara huffed, gulping her wine.  "Too much talk, tomorrow."  She smiled at Bonnie.  "Now, you go bed."

The amazon officers cheered, grabbed the goblet from Bonnie's hand, and hustled her away, ignoring her protests and attempts to pull free and get back to George.

George watched her partner's abrupt, involuntary departure, then turned to Bondara.  "She probably is tired, but it's a little early for sleep, don't you think?"

The remaining amazons laughed, including the Queen.  "Who say anything about sleep, Little Trout?" Her Majesty purred, then poured more wine into George's goblet.

Across the Junn-Junn Wastes

Bonnie was led (dragged) down a tunnel to a heavy timber door.  Its dark wood was carved to depict an amazon warrior with shield and sword standing in triumph over the bound and gagged opponent at her feet.  The portal was pulled open, there was another cheer, and Bonnie was more-or-less shoved across the threshold.  The door banged closed behind her and there was a loud thud, probably the sound of a bolt being thrown.  There was no knob or handle on Bonnie's side.

Bonnie turned and found herself in a largish cave dominated by a giant bed covered by a rumpled sheet of crimson linen.  Dozens of candles on iron stands or in lanterns dangling from chains provided light.  Off to one side and flanked by a pair of flaming torches, Bonnie recognized her red shield and war-club from the arena, arranged on a stand draped with another crimson cloth.  On the floor at the stand's base were Trussa's blue shield and padded sickle-sword.

Bonnie walked to the bed.  Something was under the red sheet, something vaguely in the shape of an "X", and whatever it was, it was moving.  Bonnie grabbed an edge of the sheet and jerked it from the bed, revealing—"Trussa!"

The subQueen was naked, as she'd been when Bonnie last saw her, but she'd been bathed and her skin oiled.  Her hair was loose on the red under-sheet, a tousled mass of raven curls.  Her wrists and ankles were in wide, thick steel cuffs and chained to the four corners of the bed, enforcing a stringent spread-eagle on her stretched, glistening body.  A crumpled red cloth was stuffed in her mouth and held there by a cleave-gag of multiple tight wrappings of narrow, red ribbon.

Bonnie smiled down at the helpless amazon, admiring the play of the flickering light on the well-toned curves of her deeply tanned, shining skin.  "The spoils of victory," she chuckled.  "I assume that had I lost our little contest, I would be in your place and the decor would be blue, rather than red?"

Trussa nodded and tugged on her bonds.  Her eyes were smiling.

Bonnie examined Trussa's right wrist cuff and its attached chain.  She followed the taut links to a ring solidly embedded in the base of the bed-frame.  There was no clip, locking pin, or padlock.  The cuff was secured by an internal lock, and a key was nowhere in sight.

Bonnie climbed onto the bed, knelt beside the captive subQueen, and turned her head to the side.  The cleave-gagging ribbon was secured with a simple bow.  Bonnie released the bow and unwound the ribbon, then pulled the cloth from Trussa's mouth.

A low table off to the right held a stoneware pitcher and cup, as well as several trays and bowls covered with red cloths.  Bonnie climbed off the bed and gave the pitcher a sniff.  More wine.  The trays and bowls held various hors d'eouvrves.  Many were the same savory items she'd been served at the post-game party.  She poured wine into the cup, carried it back onto the bed, and held Trussa's head so she could drink.

"Thank you, Warrior," Trussa sighed as Bonnie returned the cup to the table.

Bonnie stood beside the bed, her arms crossed under her breasts.  "You threw the fight," she accused, "admit it."

Trussa smiled.  "No.  Bonnie better than I thought.  I try to impress crowd.  Should have waited.  Should have learned your skill before making fancy moves."

Bonnie smiled back.  "And now you pay the price."

Trussa sighed.  "And now I pay price."

Bonnie released her belt and let it and the loincloth drop to the floor.  Now as naked as her living battle trophy, she climbed onto the bed, straddled Trussa's waist, and settled her weight (some of it, anyway) atop the spreadeagled captive's flat, firm tummy.  "I sincerely hope your prestige hasn't been too badly damaged."

Trussa frowned.  "By losing fight?  It better to win, but losing not disgrace."

"I thought you were a leader of some sort?"

Trussa favored Bonnie with a rueful smile.  "You think Sand Amazons idiots?  Warriors fight with hands.  Chiefs fight with hands and brains.  Queens fight with brains.  Arena fight is not war.  Fight hard, fight with honor, no disgrace in losing."

Bonnie nodded.  "My apologies."  She leaned close, her hands on either side of Trussa's smiling head.  "Still..."  She kissed Trussa's lips.  "You're bound to be the object of some ridicule.  After all..."  She kissed her, again.  "You lost to a 'Luropa-girl'."

"Trussa lost.  Trussa deserve what she get."

"Indeed," Bonnie whispered, then slid her right hand down Trussa's flank, between her splayed legs, and began stroking her labia.  Trussa gasped and bit her lower lip, but the smile never left her eyes.  "I'm going to pay you back for everything you did to me, last night in that cave," Bonnie promised.

"Bonnie know how?" Trussa teased, squirming and tugging on her bonds.

Bonnie kissed Trussa again, before answering.  "Bonnie know how."  She licked the side of Trussa's neck.  "Bonnie know tricks Trussa not know."

"L-like what?" Trussa gasped, continuing to squirm as Bonnie's hand worked its magic.

"Like—"  (Kiss.)  "—the Javanese Spider?"  (Lick.)  "The Cat's Whiskers?"

"W-what they?" Trussa sighed.  A delicate shudder shook her helpless body as Bonny tickled her clitoris.

"I'll show you later," Bonnie answered, "after I prove that I was paying attention last night—"  (Kiss.)  "—that I learned all of your tricks."

"Ahhh!" Trussa gasped, squirming and pulling on her bonds.  "My Warrior!  Ahhh—M'mpfh!"

Bonnie's left hand was over Trussa's mouth in a tight hand-gag.  Her right hand continued its teasing massage, but at a slower pace.  "Shut it," Bonnie ordered, "or your gag goes back in.  And don't cum 'til I tell you, no matter how wet and slippery your slimy little pussy has become.  Obey me, or I'll get my belt and whip your tits."

When circumstances dictated, Bonnie Plantuckett could shed her cultured, upper class persona and behave in a manner her London relatives would consider to be most unladylike.  In fact, she could be shockingly coarse and brazen.

Across the Junn-Junn Wastes

One Week Later, at Dawn...

GWENDOLINE had been moved to the area of the Queen's Compound and moored halfway up the canyon wall against a large cave opening.  A temporary platform had been erected to allow for easier access to the main deck.  Permanent docking facilities were planned for further up the canyon, where camouflage canopies could be deployed to hide visiting hoveryachts and hoverfreighters from sky-god honker attack, however unlikely the possibility.  Site selection was underway for full-scale, permanent Trading Company bases that would shelter and service regular commercial traffic, all the way across the Junn-Junn.

Mother Bindra was standing with Bonnie, George, and Trussa on GWENDOLINE's quarterdeck.  On the valley floor below and in several caves on the opposite canyon wall, hundreds of amazons lounged about, awaiting the departure of the expedition.  Also, the neighboring terrace farms seemed to require an inordinate amount of weeding this morning.  Something like two hundred male farmers were busily wielding hoes.  Oddly, they didn't seem to be making much progress.

Bindra was in her usual linen shift and sandals.   Trussa was in her usual boots and loincloth, with a revolver strapped to her right hip.  George was in the white Little Trout loincloth and top with which she'd been gifted, as well as an off-white desert robe.  The added coverage of the robe seemed to have cured her chronic blushing problem.  Bonnie was in knee-boots and the brown leather loincloth with red tassels with which she'd been gifted.  She'd added a bandeau fashioned from the red cloth and ribbon that had comprised Trussa's gag on the Bed of Victory.  Bonnie told the amazons the bandeau was a trophy, but she was really wearing it at George's insistence.  Amazons with Bonnie's endowment might go topless, but that was no excuse for a cultured Luropean young lady to parade around bare-breasted (in George's opinion).  Bonnie's Tesla-pistol rode her right hip.

"I wish I had more time to go over the plans with your gunsmiths," Bonnie was saying to Trussa.  Her hand was on the butt of her pistol.  She'd already gifted Trussa with one of their Tesla-rifles, and plans were underway for the production of Tesla-carbines designed to repel Big Honkers like the T. rex.  Distributed one or two per patrol as squad equipment, they might save a few Sand Amazon lives.

"First 'honker-giggler' nearly finished," Trussa responded.  "Dozens ready by time you make return trip."

"Possibly more," Bindra agreed, "with work well underway on the next cycle of design improvement."

"They understand the technology," George chided her partner.

"I know," Bonnie responded, "but the spacing of the charging coils and the internal baffles of the resonance chamber can be tricky.  Get it wrong and the barrel will burn through with only a hundred or so firings."

Bindra chuckled, then patted Bonnie's hand.  "I assure you, my dear, our artisans are up to the challenge."

Bonnie smiled at Trussa.  "I still wish we could stay longer."

Bindra glanced from Bonnie to Trussa and back, her smile knowing.  "Unfortunately, we can't complete our plans for the Trading Company until we have Gondwanese partners," she noted.

Bonnie nodded.  "Of course."

George favored Bindra with a wry smile that would have been impertinent if the young adventurer and the elder stateswoman hadn't become such good friends.  "I still don't understand why you're all being so mysterious about the identity of your Trade Envoy.  Last night, Her Majesty would tell me nothing."  She noticed Bonnie's smile and blushed.  "I asked her at dinner," George explained, "before you and I checked the mooring lines and stowed the new maps."  She bowed to Bindra.  "And thank you, again, Mother, for the maps and geographical notes."

"Our pleasure, my dear," Bindra smiled, then nodded towards the mouth of the cave.  "And speaking of our Trade Envoy..."

Bondara was boarding the hoveryacht, accompanied by several of the Old Women and overChiefs.  Oddly, her eyes were not masked by the usual blue and purple stripes of paint.  She still had a mask, but now it was a band of pale skin, contrasting with the tan of her other features.  Her loincloth and bra-top were of chamois-thin, brown leather with a gleaming, distressed finish.  There were a few decorative tassels, but nowhere near the number she usually wore.  A revolver was strapped to her right hip, the strap of a carbine and an ammunition bandolier were slung across her shoulders, cross-fashion, boots were on her feet, and she was carrying a haversack with a rolled blanket or desert robe by one shoulder strap.

"Ready," Bondara announced, dropping the pack on the deck.

Bonnie and George were surprised.  Trussa was utterly astonished!

"Queen can't leave!" Trussa objected.  "Queen must stay.  Queen must lead."

Bondara nodded, a very self-satisfied smile curling her lips.  "Agreed, but Young Old Woman Bondara go where Young Old Woman Bondara want."

The overChiefs stepped forward, grabbed Trussa by the arms and wrists, and began stripping off her loincloth

"What?  Let go!"  Trussa's eyes popped even wider.  "No!" she gasped.  The overChiefs were buckling a new loincloth around her waist, and it was decorated with a great many bone discs and feather tassels.  "Not ready!" she objected.

Bondara took Trussa's head in her hands.  "Trussa ready," she whispered, and kissed the new Queen's lips.  She locked eyes with her former subQueen for several seconds, then kissed her again.

The overChiefs cheered, all the while continuing to restrain their new Queen.  Mother Bindra gestured towards the rail facing the canyon and they led Trussa forward.

Bondara stepped to the rail, as well.  "Behold!" she shouted, her voice echoing from the canyon walls.  "All hail Trussa, daughter of Gagga, Queen of the Sand Amazons!"

An instant and resounding cheer thundered through the canyon, from both the amazons and male farmers.

The overChiefs released Trussa and she turned to face Bondara, hands on hips.  "Trussa only one who not know?" she huffed.

Bondara shrugged.  "You should see face," she chuckled.

The crowd was still cheering and Trussa turned back to wave, as was a monarch's duty.

"Not big on ceremony, are they?" Bonnie asked, smiling at George.

"It would seem not," George agreed.

Bondara had overheard.  She leaned close to be heard over the crowd.  "Much feasting.  Much dancing.  Much jûb-jûb.  Seven days."

"A pity we'll miss the festivities," Bonnie said.  Her eyes were on the streaming banners she'd asked to be rigged along the canyon rim.  They were beginning to stir.

"Yes," Bondara agreed, smiling at George.  "Pity we miss feasting and dancing."

George was blushing (again).

"The wind is quickening," Bonnie said.  "We should go."  She smiled at Bondara.  "And welcome to the expedition, Your Majesty."

Bondara smiled.  "Bondara.  Just Bondara."

Bonnie offered her hand and they shook.  "Welcome, Bondara."

"Yes, w-welcome," George stammered, then offered her hand, as well.

Bondara shook the blushing youngster's hand.  "Thank you, Little Trout."

As always, Mother Bindra was aware of everything that was happening.  "Our friends must depart!" she announced with a broad smile.

Trussa gave a final wave, then stepped away from the rail and went to Bonnie.  The newly crowned Queen pulled the startled Luropean into a tight embrace and kissed her lips.  Bonnie quickly recovered and began returning both the embrace and the kiss.  Bondara and the watching overChiefs and Old Women chuckled.  George's blush deepened.

Finally, the kiss ended.  "Safe journey," Trussa said.

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Bonnie replied.

"Hah!" Trussa huffed, breaking the embrace and striding for the cave entrance.  "Silly Luropa-girl titles.  'Queen' title enough."  She patted George's head as she passed, and Bondara slapped the Royal Butt.

Bindra and the others quickly made their farewells and departed.  The amazons at the mooring lines stood ready.

Bonnie manned the wheel and rigging controls.  "Prepare to cast off!" she ordered.

Bondara headed for the forward mooring line.  "Come, Little Trout," she called over her shoulder.  "You show Bondara how to coil rope."

"You mean stow the line!" George shouted, then smiled and scampered after their new crew-member.  Bondara joining the expedition was a most surprising development, but not unwelcome.

George's smile broadened, but her cheeks retained their rosy hue.  Not at all unwelcome, she decided.

And GWENDOLINE continued across the Junn-Junn Wastes to the Wild Borderlands of Gondwana.
Bonnie, George, and Bondara had many thrilling adventures before their return journey.
But that, dear reader, is another story.


Across the Junn-Junn Wastes