"Mayday! Mayday! This is Flight Alpha One Niner. Calling for help. Repeat! This is Flight Alpha One Niner. We are about to crash!"
The pilot slammed his fist into the dash of the diving airplane in frustration. Nothing! The whole bucket of bolts was going down, and not even the hiss of static escaped from the radio. Nothing that could at least bring the solace that he had been heard. Instead, like the rest of the electronic systems, it was out. Shorted. Compounded with a burst engine on the single-prop Cessna, the craft's fate was sealed.
It was time for the canopies...
Below, the lush green land of the Bolivian Forests stretched out like a carpet, as if trying to lure the handicapped aircraft with its apparent softness and comfort. But the pilot, Jacob Jacobbe, veteran of a hundred landings in Vietnam, knew the truth - the trees that were underneath the 'green carpet' would tear the craft in half, rupturing it and crushing the occupants within. Jacob had stared death in the face many times. It was his passengers he was afraid of.
There were just three of them, really, a family from California's Berkeley, on a vacation-cum-research trip to the South Americas. Blake Gerry was a professor at the world famous institute, well worded with over twenty books on surviving civilizations of the forests. The last one, about the Aborigines of Australia, had brought him close to the coveted International Researcher's Woodchuck Award - one of the most uncorrupted awards in the world. At thirty-eight, he still had a scientist's lifetime to get the title.
His wife, Maggie, at half a year younger, was not an academician - that probably explained why the Mister and Missus got together so well. She was in fact the true exponent of the newly rich, choosing to spend her free time with charitable causes like tea parties, Rotarian beauty contests and the like. She was a good person at heart; it was just that she was too caught up in the bandwagon to find her own place.
Amanda, the daughter of the house, was a swell-looking brunette who had no problem getting attention from the male persuasion wherever she went. A youthful, if slightly plump, figure with all the right curves in the right places, and with a brain to match, Amanda was every college senior's dream... until he discovered that her principles and interests went deeper than normal. Then it was, as a best friend put it subtly, 'breaking up time.'
Jacob felt underneath his seat for the metal clasp that would release the parachutes into the laps of his terrified passengers. There were around twenty chutes in all, but only three that he was sure would work. Blake, Maggie and Amanda could have them - like a good captain, he would go down, if he had to, with the plane. Besides, he didn't want it to crash into the dry brushes at the fringes, or worse, into the nearby town, erupting the whole place into flames.
Abruptly, the door opened with a loud noise. "Any help, guy?" Although years of teaching had taught him to modulate his voice well, Blake knew his tension showed. The altimeter was fairly steady, but the flight speed was dropping - less than eighty knots in the next few seconds, and the plane would come crashing down.
"Get out," the pilot roared back. "I am opening the lock now - strap the women onto the jump cable before opening the hatch. Count to three, and jump. Go!"
Blake turned around, the voice enough of a command for him to obey without reservation. Even as he clipped his wife's parachute line onto the jump-cable, he threw over his shoulder, "What about you?" He took what he heard was a grunt as his answer.
Twenty seconds later, three snow-white parachutes billowed open in quick succession, the wind bloating them into enormous proportions in less than a hundredth of a second. Above them, pilot Jacob Jacobbe prayed for their safety, as he relaxed the controls in his hand. There was no way the craft was going to hit something inflammable - it would crash way before the border came into view. Before him, a bare hill rose to a height just a few meters below the belly of the craft.
Jacob nosed the plane lower.
Blake shielded his eyes as the terrific explosion lit up the entire evening sky. The fireball built up into one huge orange sun before dissipating into the atmosphere. There were no other parachutes in the vicinity, the three in the air being the only survivors. Jacob had not bailed out. Somehow, that fact did not surprise Blake; in the short time that he had come to know the late pilot, the researcher had been impressed by the strength of his convictions and the unwavering sense of responsibility. And now, more than ever, they stood emphasized.
As is the nature of any living creature when its survival is under threat, Blake's instincts took over. There was no time to grieve, no time to dedicate. The ground would kiss them in a few minute's time - and unless they were prepared for the Gaean embrace, they would be rendered extinct.
Extinct in a godforsaken land, inhabited by godforsaken tribals.
For as far as he could make out, there was no sign of civilization ever having set foot there. There was, however, a small clearing towards the east. The landing strip. Blake clapped to his wife and daughter, who responded with wild-eyed fear. When he was sure he had their attention, Blake folded his hands and pointed to the patch below. At first, neither woman seemed to understand.
It was Amanda who understood her father's signal. "You mean, land in that meadow over there?" She said, pointing to the same land that Blake had indicated. At the closer distance, Blake saw that it was, indeed, a meadow - a wide, grass-covered plot in which grazed some wild boar. His wife nodded weakly, and Blake longed for the moment he could hold his loved ones in his arms again. On dry ground. On solid ground.
The landing was nothing short of a bone-breaking jar that sent shudders all the way up his spine to give him a momentary headache. Blake shook it off, concentrating on ensuring his family's safety first. Impatiently, he snapped off the cables of the chutes, almost tearing them off in his hurry. From a few feet into the nearby foliage, he could hear his daughter's cries for help. In spite of the hurt in his legs from the landing, Blake, ever the father, ran after the sound.
To his relief, Blake found his wife and daughter safe... well, almost safe. Although her mother was on the ground, Amanda had managed to entangle herself in the branches of a tree ten meters off the ground. She hung suspended on her parachute cables, dangling wildly with fear. As soon as she saw her father, she screamed even louder. "Daddy! Help! I am going to fall."
There was no time to climb all the way up the tree - there was just one other alternative. "Jump!" Blake commanded, "I will catch you. Don't worry, honey, Daddy will catch you. Just trust me." Amanda blinked at him for some time. Jump? Easy for him to say - he wasn't staring at the earth at over twenty feet above it. She was. And hardly dressed for a leap of faith...
That fact did not escape Blake's attention. His daughter had on a skirt, yes, but from his vantage position, he could see all the way up the curve of those legs, tanned and lithe, into a darker silhouette that he realized with a gasp was his daughter's pussy. A thin line started from between her legs and receded into the back of her ass, so clearly marked against the tan lines of her buttocks. The skirt billowed all around her, going up as far as her thighs, and the jungle wind, Blake knew, was notorious. Sudden gusts would come out of nowhere.
A branch snapped.
There was no more time to deliberate any other alternative. Maggie found her voice. "Jump, Am, jump! Daddy will catch you!"
Amanda closed her eyes and felt around for the release clasp. Her hands tugged at the metal piece twice before it gave way, freeing her from the strangling fiber cables. Her skirt came up to her face, blown all the way up by the air current under her falling body. She couldn't see where she was heading - the cotton cloth obscured her vision. All she felt was an instantaneous rush of adrenaline as the winds brushed against her naked pussy.
Blake positioned himself right underneath his daughter, timing his hands in such a way that they caught her around the waist just as her feet touched the ground. Unfortunately for him, his positioning was not so accurate - as he looked up in shocked realization, it was too late to move away. His daughter's crotch slammed against his face.
Amanda felt the coarse, unshaved beard of her father on her pussy just a bare moment before she slid into his arms, her hips braking themselves in his grip. Due to their closeness, her skirt was still stuck between them, but neither realized the embarrassment until they parted after the hug. They were safe.
As he moved away, Blake could smell his daughter's scent on the tip of his nose - scent left there by the accidental contact of her feminity. Absently, as he watched his wife and daughter hug each other, he rubbed the back of his palm against his nose. The scent remained, though, and Blake was aware, now that immediate danger had passed, that the touch had excited him. His nose still throbbed a little, but that only reminded him of how soft her pussy had felt against his face. His cock twitched guiltily.
Amanda collapsed on the forest floor, more out of relief than out of exertion. She watched her father wipe his nose, and it brought back memories of the jolt she had felt when her bare cunt had made contact with her father's nose. Unlike her father's nose, though, her pussy throbbed even more painfully, its heightened sensitivity obviously a very enticing characteristic. Without thinking, Amanda slid her skirt back all the way up, and above, her waist, baring her cunt to her parents. Her pussy hurt, and her only desire was to massage the sore hole.
Maggie watched in surprise as her daughter bared herself in this fashion in front of her father, but immediately dismissed all fears when she understood that it was a purely platonic reaction. She had witnessed the collision, and it was obviously more painful for the girl. She decided to say nothing.
Blake, on the other hand, was too worn out to make such a quick justification. "What are you doing, young lady?"
His stern voice surprised Amanda - she withdrew her hand hastily and pushed her skirt back over the cuntal hole. "Huh... huh... I mean - I am - I - I - Daddy, sorry. It was paining..."
Maggie broke in with a smile. "Look, honey, it's all right. Blake! Relax. We are safe, at least for the moment. Besides, don't you remember that she was in the toilet when Jacob lost control... and besides, to refresh your memory, you did poke your nose into her fanny."
She laughed at her joke - her husband merely grunted, his embarrassment covering up his arousal. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Amanda grin at her mother thankfully, and he suppressed a grin as a humorous thought came to him. Women! Thank God there were no shopping malls in jungles. The way mother and daughter teamed up on him nowadays, he felt he needed all the help he could get.
A sharp object whizzed past him, and even as he turned around, he feared the worst. The dart, around a couple of inches in length, had embedded itself in the base of his fainting wife's neck, the aim so sharp that not a single vein was touched. Amanda was the next target, taken out as swiftly and efficiently as her mother had been. Blake watched in disbelief as he watched his daughter slump back on to the ground.
They were being hunted!
That was the last thought in his head as the pinprick in his neck brought about his unconsciousness.
"Mr. Gerry. Mr. Gerry, are you alright?"
Blake opened his eyes, squinting as the shape of a head eclipsed the bright setting sun. His neck was stiff, a slight herbal smell emanating from an irritating leaf-bandage placed at where the dart had pierced him. As his senses cleared, Blake was aware that the man towering over him was in fact, a European. He was also aware of the fact that his stirring had caused quite a few unfamiliar eyes to turn towards him. Beside him, on either side, he felt movement - without looking, he knew it was his wife and daughter.
"Hello, mate," the other outsider said, helping him to get into a sitting position. Blake recognized the remaining crumbs of an Australian accent, making a mental note of the fact while attempting to clear his groggy head. "How are you feeling? You got an awful lump on your head when you bonked out on the roots, mate. Want some water?"
Blake drank the water gratefully, wondering only briefly about the hygiene. As he drained the last drop of water, he saw the Aussie looking at him, as if evaluating him. Blake gave the glass back and looked around the room. Local men, dark-skinned, clothed only around the torso, thronged at the door. Inside, beside his unconscious family, on either side of them, fanning them with a long leaf, were females, dressed in a long skirt and a pale-green leaf top. The dress would have been provocative in civilization, but Blake recalled that tribals rarely dressed this much. The Aborigines practically went around naked!
He held out his hand. "Thanks... I think. Where are we? And why were we attacked?"
The Aussie grinned. "The name's Pete - Pete Grousin. Aussie until me and my family crashed around here. 'Twas a car, though, but they never found us. After all, you are in the middle of a thick jungle." Outside, a lion - A LION!!!??? - roared, as if emphasizing his statement. "To be precise, though, you are with the Lion's Pride."
"The Lion's Pride?"
"Yup, mate, that's what we call ourselves. Pardon the unity, but if you spend a couple of weeks with them, you get to realize they are a whole lot better than the bunch back home. The Lion's Pride - you see, mate, these folks believe that the lion is their supreme God. Their deity. And they follow the lifestyle they believe to be of the lions'. Follow me, mate?"
"So far, yes."
"Good, because here comes the tricky part. I don't know how lions are, elsewhere in the wide world, but out here, they are a closely bunched family. By that, I mean that they breed among themselves."
"Most animals do that - they have got better gene pools."
"Maybe. I am not really an animal specialist. But I guess they - the rest of them - don't go about it as organized as these things do."
"You know the basic cycle - mammals give birth, they feed the young ones, the young ones grow up, they leave home, they find mates and they settle down." Blake nodded. "Out here, the first part happens, alright, but instead of leaving to find their own prides, the young lionesses stay back. Their mother - and here's the clincher - bows out of the lead, and the eldest daughter takes over as the hunting head. As you probably know, the lion doesn't do anything - he leaves the hunt to his females. He is good only for breeding, and he resumes it with his daughter. The first mate is gradually pushed out of the picture until she is no longer intrinsic to the pride.
"That's what these people practice."
Pete paused for a moment to let the facts sink in. He knew what Blake was feeling - disbelief, and a good dose of revulsion. Animals are incestuous, granted, but an entire tribe? Jesus, that was ridiculous. Exactly what he had thought when he had first understood the tribal lifestyle.
"So what you are telling me," Blake said, slowly drawing out his words, "Is that these people actually marry their daughters?"
Pete nodded. "Nail on the head, mate. But don't get us wrong - the girls are virgins until they turn eighteen - ironically, the legal age - and it is only then that their father - or anyone else, for that matter - can sleep with them. The boys can marry their sisters, mothers, or any other female who agrees to it. As you can see, a very open society."
Blake pounced on the word 'Us'. "You said us - you mean, you and your daughter..."
"For the last two years, mate, we have been husband and wife. And loving every moment of it."
"Don't swear it, mate, until you've tried it." Noticing the shocked expression on Blake's face, Pete grinned. "The people here think you are the reincarnation of the Gods. They saw the fireball, and you floated down from the sky... make your own conclusions. They put two and two together, and came up with a very agreeable three. No - before you make a ruckus, let me remind you - these people are so into their idea that you are their God, that if you tell them you aren't, they might probably kill you. Second, so that it won't be a shock later, you will be marrying your daughter tonight."
"What?" It wasn't Blake; it was an even more shocked Amanda.
Pete smiled reassuringly at the indignant girl, and barked a few orders to the tribals beside her. Before the teen could protest, the women whisked her out of the room. Almost automatically, the rest of the women pulled Maggie and took her outside, all within the space of ten coordinated seconds. Blake instinctively got up, but Pete's strong hand on his shoulder warned him not to make any sudden moves. For some strange reason, he had to trust this stranger.
"Relax, mate. They are going to be just fine - now that they are alright, they need to get dressed for the wedding."
"Wait a god dam minute! I never said-"
"You don't have a choice," came the harsh interruption. "It's either that, or death. You won't be condemning yourself alone - you are killing your loved ones too."
"Can't you put the record straight?"
"And risk being a pariah? No way, my friend. I love it too much here... I love my life with my daughter. I am not going to throw that all away."
Blake was silent for a minute, and Pete respected that silence. The man needed to think, and Pete had never been one to make judgments on others' behalf. At length, Blake drew in a long breath. "Mag and Amanda... they have to be told."
"My daughter's already doing that."
Blake gave the Aussie a look that was part thankful, and part contemptuous. It wasn't a joy ride he was talking about - he was having to marry his own daughter, for crying out loud. "You have thought of everything, haven't you?"
"It's my duty to the chief - act as a liaison between you. Look, if it is any consolation, I know exactly how you feel. I was there myself, remember. And unlike you people, these folks thought of me as enemies at first - until I opened my big mouth and shouted that the girl beside me was my daughter... Before I knew it, the ceremony had been conducted, and my daughter was already my wife.
"My wife was given another hut to stay in, which she shared with our guide. I couldn't say anything because I was locked up inside a hut, with my daughter. For two weeks, we managed to maintain a platonic relationship - a relationship that went to the brink because of the close quarters we were in. To top it all, we were starting to see ourselves as people, not just family, and before I knew it, our little signs of affection grew more explicit.
"Then one day, my wife ran away.