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Subject: {ASSM} <THM> ARTIFACT (MF fd mc magic) by Wiseguy
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ARTIFACT, by Wiseguy
An ASSTR Anniversary Celebration story


MF    -- Heterosexual sex between adults
FD     -- Female dominant
MC    -- Elements of mind control
magic -- The control is of the magical/mystical type

My theme, as randomly assigned by Hecate's computer, was "archeological



NOTICE:  This story contains explicit descriptions of sexual activity 
between more or less consenting adults.  If you are not of legal age to 
read such material, or if you find it offensive, then stop reading now.

This story is (c) Copyright 2001 by Wiseguy and may not be reposted on 
any for-profit system.  Posting on a noncommercial site is normally 
okay, but check with me first and do not alter the story in any way.

The full text of this and all Wiseguy stories is available for download 
(text or PDF) or for on-line viewing (HTTP) at my web site,

I welcome all comments from readers (


(c) Copyright 2001 by Wiseguy

(In honor of the ASSTR Anniversary)

Joanne studied the photos, absorbing every detail.  

The one in her left hand showed a young woman of 26 lying 
on a hospital bed.  Her honey-blonde hair was damp with 
sweat, and her face displayed both exhaustion and joy.  
Joanne looked into that face, the face of her daughter 
Maddie, and remembered the mixture well.

In her right hand was another photo, this one of a newborn 
baby girl asleep in a plastic basinet.  Tiny fingers curled 
into a lazy fist, the skin on them loose and wrinkled, the 
pink color mottled.  A white stretch cap adorned with a 
pink ribbon covered the baby's head.  In the margin, 
someone had written the vital statistics:  Joanne Marie, 7 
lbs 3 oz, July 27th.

Joanne sighed.  The picture was almost two weeks old 
already; the baby would look totally different today, she 
knew.  Little ones change so quickly.  As she taped the 
pictures to her makeshift dressing mirror, she caught a 
glimpse of herself and realized that the big ones can 
change a lot, too.  In three months at the archeological 
dig, the sun had bleached her hair enough that the gray 
streaks had become the dominant color.  Her skin had 
darkened a few shades as well, and the crow's feet at each 
eye seemed to have grown.  Joanne, you're starting to look 
like a grandma, she confided in herself.   It was good that 
she'd be going back home soon.  Spending summers on a dig 
had been exciting at 25, interesting at 35, and endurable 
at 45, but at 58 Joanne was finding that her intellectual 
curiosity tended to fade after a few weeks without a soft 
bed, a private bathroom, or central air conditioning.

Or, she thought in annoyance as her door popped open, a 
bedroom with a lock.

A bright young face poked through the doorway.  "Lunch in 
ten, Grannie," the intruder announced.

Joanne didn't even turn her head.  "Okay, Nina," she 
replied as the door closed again.  Wincing at the usual 
protests from her arthritic knees, Joanne rose from her 
chair and headed for the communal dining room.

As dig facilities go, she mused, this one wasn't that bad.  
An abandoned mission, graciously leased to the dig team by 
the Mexican government, made a good home base.  It was a 
solid structure, at least, instead of a tent village like 
many other digs.  One wing of bedrooms had been turned into 
an office, a darkroom for photographing objects recovered 
from the dig, and what the team had taken to calling the 
Bits Room -- a long room full of storage cabinets and 
tables, where grad students had the tedious job of trying 
to assemble bits of broken pottery and other artifacts into 
recognizable pieces.  The rest served as a small dormitory 
to house the team who worked the dig.  They took turns 
cooking meals on the ancient gas stove in the kitchen and 
ate them together so that everyone could help in the 
cleaning up.  

Lunch was beef stew, cooked and served up by Jeff, the 
team's photographer,  and Leo, a grad student.  The stew 
was excellent, but as usual Joanne ate very little -- her 
appetite had been one of the earliest casualties of the 
rampant heat and humidity.

"Pecking at your food again, I see," came a gruff male 
voice.  Joanne turned to see Dr. Henry Lambert approaching, 
loaded plate in hand.  "May I?" he asked, indicating the 
empty seat next to her.  

Joanne nodded.  "Please."  Dr. Lambert was the chief 
archeologist, the man who'd discovered the ruins of a 16th-
century village here in central Mexico and persuaded a 
prestigious American university to provide funding and 
staff to excavate and study it.  Dr. Lambert had also been 
the one to persuade Joanne to leave the air-conditioned 
comfort of her Anthropology Department offices to lend her 
talents to his team for the summer.

"Jeff is going to think you don't like his cooking," the 
doctor remarked.  "You hardly eat at all these days."

Joanne sighed.  "It's not the food, it's the environment.  
I'm getting too old for field work."

"Nonsense.  Age is all in the mind."

"Tell that to my knees," Joanne retorted.  "And my eyes.  
And my hair."

"You look fine to me," he said, smiling.

"You're an archeologist, Henry; it's your job to appreciate 
ancient, decrepit things."  It was an old joke, but they 
chuckled together anyway.

"Speaking of ancient things..."  The doctor shifted a 
little closer to Joanne and his voice dropped to a quiet, 
conspiratorial tone.  "I have something to show you after 


Dr. Lambert put his finger to his lips.  "Top secret 
stuff," he whispered.

Joanne nodded and fell silent, allowing herself to listen 
while the rest of the staff discussed their morning 

"We've got about three more boxes for the bits room," said 
Andres, a thirtyish man with a powerful build who 
supervised the excavation team.  "Found several nice-
looking whole pieces, too, ready for cataloging."

Jeff nodded, swallowing the last of his stew.  "I'm still 
working on last week's lot, but I'll make room. " Looking 
at Joanne, he added, "That is, unless you'd like first 
crack at them."

"Any markings?" she asked Andres.

The big man frowned and shook his head.  "Nah, they're 
pretty plain."

"I'll pass, then, thank you.  I've got plenty to do before 
I pack for home as it is."

Plenty indeed, she thought to herself.  During the summer 
she'd amassed a large collection of research notes and 
photos of items taken from the dig, all of which bore some 
kind of writing or symbolic markings.  Part of her job was 
to try and interpret those glyphs; to determine what 
civilization had founded and then abandoned this village in 
the first place, how they had lived, who they were.  
Perusing that material, looking for patterns, marking 
similarities to other known cultures, could keep her busy 
for months after returning home.

Joanne helped with the clearing up after lunch, then made 
her way across the compound to Dr. Lambert's bedroom and 
office.  She knocked once, heard him grunt a "Come in," and 
slipped inside.

Dr. Lambert drew the makeshift curtains across his window.  
A thought seemed to strike him:  he stuck his head out the 
window, looked around, then pulled back in and fixed the 
white linen back in place.  "Can't be too careful," he said 

"About what, Henry?"

The doctor reached under his bed and picked up a small 
canvas bag.  "We found something at the dig this morning," 
he explained.  "I wanted to make sure you see it."

Joanne took the bag from him.  Its weight, and the faint 
clinking sound as the contents moved in her hand, gave her 
a clue as to the reason for the secrecy.  She reached 
inside, pulled out the item, and drew in a sharp breath.

In her hand was a necklace.  The centerpiece was a 
translucent crystal of some kind, rounded and polished, 
ringed in a silvery metal with a dull sheen.  A series of 
metal bars formed a short, flexible band that would sit 
flat against the wearer's collarbone, with a simple but 
clever clasp at the back to hold it together.

"It was quite a trick smuggling this thing past the 
federales," Lambert noted, "but I knew you'd want to see it 
up close."

Joanne nodded, her attention already absorbed by the shiny 
thing in her hand.  The Mexican authorities kept several 
men at the dig for "security" purposes; it was well 
understood by all that their primary duty was to grab 
anything that appeared to have significant monetary value 
and secure it for the government.  A few things had been 
seized so quickly that Jeff hadn't even had a chance to 
photograph them first.  If one of those soldiers had seen 
the necklace, Joanne felt sure it would have vanished right 
away, never to be seen or studied.

Lambert was shifting in his seat like an excited child.  
"What do you think?"

"The workmanship is exquisite," she replied, watching how 
the uneven room light played through the translucent 
crystal.  "Better than anything else we've found here."

"Yes, yes," he said, impatient.  "But look at these."  He 
whipped out a penlight from his shirt pocket and shone it 
on the center of the necklace.  

Joanne looked again and saw what she had missed at first:  
the penlight's beam revealed symbols etched into the metal 
ring surrounding the crystal.  The lines were sharp and 
well-defined, but shallow enough that she had missed them 
in the relatively dim ambient light of the room.   "Ah," 
she said.  "Yes, I see what you mean.  These are very 


"Possibly.  This culture definitely had some strong Mayan 
influences, much as the Huastecs did.  But the Huastecs 
never did any metal work like this that we know of."


Joanne shrugged.  "That's been the puzzle all summer, 
hasn't it?  All the evidence suggests this place was built 
around the time of the Spanish conquest, when the Aztecs 
pretty much ruled this area.  Yet the things we're finding 
suggest Mixtec, Huastec, Toltec, Zapotec ... it's as if the 
inhabitants had been borrowing from almost every 
neighboring culture, including some we thought to have died 
out by then."  

"I told you it would be interesting," Lambert said with a 

Joanne was staring into the crystal center again.  "Can I 
take this back to my room?"

"Please," he assured her.  "Take as many notes as you need 
to, study it all you like while you're here.  Give it to 
Jeff when you're done, and he'll take it from there."

"What about the government?"

"They'll get it," he promised grudgingly.  "But not until 
we've learned everything we can from it first."

Every joint in her body creaked as Joanne pushed away from 
her desk later that night.  With tired eyes she took in the 
results of her afternoon and evening's work:  a highly 
detailed, accurate sketch of the centerpiece of the 
necklace, with every glyph faithfully reproduced.  Placed 
under a magnifier, the symbols had turned out to be much 
more intricate than she'd initially thought; amazing 
workmanship for the period, she repeated to herself.  

Some of the icons were vaguely familiar.  One resembled a 
pattern she'd seen on a Mayan fertility talisman, but not 
quite enough to call it a match.  Others reminded her of 
carvings she'd seen on Olmec structures which were usually 
interpreted as relating to food or nourishment.  But that's 
not likely, she reminded herself.  The Olmec civilization 
had ended around 400BC, overshadowed by the emerging Mayan 
culture.  And the Maya were long gone by the 16th century, 
weren't they?

Brain-weary, Joanne flipped off the fluorescent light of 
her magnifier.  The smooth, rounded crystal in the center 
of the necklace went dark momentarily, then picked up the 
thin streams of moonlight coming from the window and 
swirled them around like wisps of smoke inside its depths.  
Unthinking, Joanne picked up the necklace and held it up 
nearer the window, looking through the crystal and out the 
window.  The pattern of light eddied and churned before her 
tired eyes, soothing them somehow.

She took a few dreamy steps toward the dressing table and 
mirror.  Such a beautiful piece, she said to herself.  
Slowly, as if guided by someone else, her hands laid down 
the necklace long enough to undo the buttons on her denim 

Dr. Henry Lambert sat on the end of his bed, rubbing 
Capsaicin cream into his aching elbows and hands.  He'd 
dismissed Joanne's remarks at lunch, but the fact was that 
Lambert had seen a few more summers than she had, and on 
nights like this one his body also complained that he was 
getting too damned old for field work.

The curtain swished gently, heralding a welcome nighttime 
breeze.  Lambert stood up and leaned into the window, 
pushing the linen aside to enjoy the air on his face.  A 
soft light shone into his eyes, and he saw her.

She stood alone in the courtyard, dancing slowly in the 
moonlight.  The image was murky, hard to recognize, but 
Lambert saw the shining jewel on her chest and knew 
instinctively what it must be.  He ran out to the 
courtyard, looking sharply around to see if anyone else had 
noticed her yet.  Rather than run out into the middle of 
the courtyard, he beckoned to her from the side.  "Joanne!" 
he called in a stage whisper.  "What the hell are you 

She stopped dancing and approached him, gliding along as if 
carried by the breeze.  As she drew closer, Lambert's eyes 
adjusted to the darkness enough to register two surprising 
facts.  First, this was not a 58-year-old woman in front of 
him.  She was Joanne's height, had roughly Joanne's figure, 
but the face and the body had the lightness and vitality of 

Second, the woman was naked.

Lambert's eyes took in the feminine form as it closed the 
distance between them.  She was beautiful:  lithe and lean, 
with hips that swayed invitingly as she walked and breasts 
that begged to be adored.  And above the breasts, glowing 
with an inner light of its own, hung the necklace.  "Where 
did you get that?" he demanded hoarsely.

The woman smiled at him, her eyes piercing his spirit, and 
put a finger to his lips.  Her touch sent an electric spark 
through his body.  He felt the blood rushing through his 
system, collecting in one almost-forgotten point.

For the first time in years, Henry Lambert had an erection.

He stepped backward, feeling his way back into the 
building, through the hall, to his own bedroom door.  She 
followed, matching his pace, smiling at him, those powerful 
eyes holding his gaze.  They entered the room and he 
stepped back some more until he found himself sitting on 
his own bed, looking up into those incredible eyes.  Her 
fingers lifted his jaw as she bent over slightly for the 
first kiss.

Lambert's lips met hers, and he felt as if her aura were 
enveloping him, swallowing him into herself.  For the first 
time, he dared to touch her.  His hands reached forward and 
found firm, ripe breasts waiting to welcome them.  His 
heart began to flutter as he explored her voluptuous body, 
his hands rejoicing in the feel of soft, firm, female flesh 
once again.  He hardly noticed that the woman's hands were 
busy relieving him of his clothing.  

In moments Lambert was naked, his iron shaft pointing 
straight up from a nest of gray-streaked pubic hair.  Her 
kisses became more insistent, pushing him down, and he had 
no strength to resist.  His body dropped back onto the bed, 
overborne by her energy and her weight above him.  He 
moaned uncontrollably as she kissed her way down his chest, 
down his belly, to take his straining cock into her mouth.  
Lambert groaned, his cock so stiff it was almost painful, 
and gave in to the inevitable.  He came loudly into her 
mouth, crying out with each spurt, a tiny voice in the back 
of his mind wondering if his heart could have withstood 
much more.

A strong, happy lethargy washed over Lambert's body as his 
orgasm subsided.  He felt vaguely regretful, sorry that he 
wouldn't be able to satisfy his mysterious partner, but was 
too spent to say anything.  Then, to his surprise, he 
realized that his cock was still hard.  How the hell can 
that be? he asked himself, but his mind could find no 
answer.  Instead, it focused on the awareness of her body 
looming over him, preparing to take him inside her.  Her 
eyes met his, and he felt his body again gathering energy 
and channeling it into his groin.  She lowered herself onto 
him and Lambert heard himself start to moan again.  Time 
stretched out into eternity as their voices blended, crying 
out together repeatedly until they climaxed as one.

Joanne woke up in a slight daze as the morning sun streamed 
through the curtain onto her bed.  Something didn't feel 
right, but it took her mind a few moments to process the 
data.  Then she realized she was lying naked on top of her 
bed, with her head at the wrong end.  

She shook her head, trying to clear it.  Joanne never slept 
nude; not even in the privacy of her home, let alone out 
here where anyone could come barging in at any moment.  Why 
had she gone to bed that way?

When had she gone to bed, anyway?

Sounds floated in through the window from the courtyard:  
men shouting, heavy footsteps, a large engine grumbling 
while its tires crunched the dirt.  Joanne hopped up from 
the bed, threw on her bathrobe, and poked her head out the 
window to see what was going on.

She saw the site van, a battered old Econoline normally 
used to transport crew, equipment, and supplies between the 
compound, the dig proper, and the nearest town.  It was 
parked in the courtyard, engine running, rear doors 
standing open.  In a few moments two men emerged from the 
far side of the building carrying a stretcher.  She 
couldn't make out the figure on the stretcher clearly, but 
there was only one other person on site with that much gray 
in his hair -- Dr. Lambert.

Joanne belted the robe securely and stepped out of her 
room, only to bump into Nina in the hall.   "What's going 
on?" she asked the younger girl.

"Dr. Lambert is really sick," she replied.  "They're taking 
him to the hospital in the site van.  Jeff's going with 
him.  Oh -- Jeff said to ask you if you'd supervise at the 
dig this morning."

"Sure," Joanne agreed quickly.  Someone would have to take 
Lambert's place at the dig, overseeing the work and dealing 
with the "security" men.  "But what about Henry?  What's 
wrong with him?"

"Dunno; he just collapsed or something, I think.  I gotta 
get dressed."  The girl skipped back to her room, the thin 
cotton nightshirt she wore flapping behind her.

Joanne reached the courtyard in time to see the site van 
pull out.  Once outside the gate, it accelerated rapidly 
and trailed off into a cloud of dust.  She sighed, clutched 
the robe, and decided it would be a good idea to follow 
Nina's lead.

She washed up using the sponge and basin in her room, 
promising herself for the hundredth time that as soon as 
she got home she'd take a long, luxurious shower.  She 
dressed for the sun in jeans, a lightweight, long-sleeved 
work shirt and a wide-brimmed hat.

With the site van otherwise occupied, Andres opted to walk 
the three quarters of a mile to the dig with his crew.  
Joanne went with them, hoping her knees would hold out, and 
was surprised to suffer no ill effects from the trek.  Once 
the initial questions on the subject of Lambert were 
answered, she found herself too busy to worry about 
anything but the here and now of supervising the dig.  The 
morning seemed to fly by; one minute she was introducing 
herself to the Mexican security troops, and the next the 
site van was there to take them back to the compound for 
Jeff updated everyone over cold cuts and salad.  "They're 
still doing some tests to confirm it," he explained, "but 
the diagnosis is that Dr. Lambert is suffering from acute 
physical exhaustion.  His age, the heat, and a recent surge 
of ... activity ... combined seem to be the causes."  At 
the word 'activity,' two of the male grad students smirked 
and nudged each other.  Jeff shot them an icy glare and 
continued.  "He'll stay in the hospital for 2 or 3 more 
days, mostly for observation, but he's expected to recover 
completely."  He nodded toward Joanne.  "In the meantime, 
Dr. Burke and I will split up his duties between ourselves 
to keep things running."

"How are you feeling, Nina?" one of the smirking grad 
students asked.  "Any saddle sores?"

Nina blushed beet red and looked daggers at the student.  
"You're a pig, Neil," she spat.  "And you don't know what 
you're talking about anyway, so shut up."

If Neil had a response, it wilted under Jeff's menacing 
gaze.  "Perhaps you two should go wait by the van," he 
suggested.  The boys recognized his tone and agreed, 
lingering only long enough to rinse off their dishes.

Joanne waited until everyone else had left the table before 
addressing Jeff.  "What was that all about?"

"There's a rumor going around that Nina was in Dr. 
Lambert's room with him last night.  She swears it's not 
true, and I'm inclined to believe her -- he'd never 
undermine his own authority that way."

"Undermine it how?"  She looked at Jeff's face and answered 
her own question.  "Oh.  How did a rumor like that get 

Jeff cleared his throat nervously.  "There was noise coming 
from his room last night.  I heard it, and those clowns 
from lunch heard it.  He was definitely with someone, and 
they were ... quite vocal.  I think everyone assumed it was 
Nina because she's the only female on site -- other than 
you, of course.  Not that I'm asking..."

Joanne was at once slightly shocked and a little amused.  
"Of course you're not," she said.  "But for the record, 
Jeff, it wasn't me either.  I turned in early and slept 
like a stone."  And woke up without my nightgown, in the 
wrong position, her mind added, but she didn't volunteer 
those details.

It was well after dark when Joanne finished for the day.  
She had spent the whole day supervising the dig, and the 
time after dinner updating Lambert's logs so that he would 
know what had happened in his absence.  There was no 
mention of the necklace he'd given her in his logs, she 
noticed.  And there wouldn't be, she concluded, until he 
was ready to admit its existence to the Mexican authorities 
-- Henry was nothing if not discreet.  Usually, she 
thought, remembering the conversation with Jeff.

By rights she should have been dog tired, but Joanne wasn't 
quite ready to turn in yet.  Instead, she opened her top 
drawer and felt around for the little ledge she'd 
discovered above the drawer case.  Her fingers found the 
spot and pulled out the necklace for another look.  She 
stared, captivated, at the swirls of light in the large, 
smooth crystal, her mind filling with wonder at the 
craftsmanship of the people who'd made it.  

Two figures crept slowly across the courtyard, whispering 
to each other.

"How did I let you talk me into this?"

Neil grinned at his roommate, Brian, and urged him forward.  
"It's gonna be great, you know it is.  Nina's gonna go 

"And that's a good thing?"


The miscreants quietly opened the door leading to the 
women's sleeping area.  Taking extra care to make no sound, 
they tiptoed down the center hallway.  They kept well clear 
of the left side door, which was Joanne's room, because 
they saw a faint light still shining underneath it.  The 
gap under Nina's door was dark.  Emboldened, the boys 
slipped into the room next to Nina's, which was currently 
unoccupied, and closed the door behind them.

The window faced the outer side of the compound and was 
covered with a metal grate but nothing else.  Nina's 
window, they knew, would be the same and only a few feet 
away.  Neil grinned wickedly at Brian.  "Here goes."  He 
put his face near the grate and began to moan.  He started 
out softly, but quickly let it build to a volume level that 
he knew would carry easily into the next room.  Brian 
watched, suppressing laughter, until Neil motioned him to 
join in.  Brian pinched his throat, stretching for the 
highest possible pitch, and moaned along with his friend.  
Soon they were doing a spirited reproduction of the sounds 
they had heard the night before coming from Lambert's room.

The noise was enough to disturb Nina, who had been asleep 
in her bed.  She rose up onto her forearms and looked 
around groggily.  Even in that state, it didn't take her 
long to realize what was up.  Those pricks, she thought.  
She started to get up, but then had a better idea.  Fuck 
'em, she said to herself.  Let 'em get busted by Burke.  
She sandwiched her head between two pillows to muffle the 
sound and went back to sleep.

In the next room, the pranksters were so committed to their 
noisemaking that they almost didn't notice when the door to 
their borrowed room swung open.  A pale, soft glow caught 
their attention and drew it toward the doorway in time to 
see the woman close it behind her.  The young men fell 
silent in surprise as they beheld the slender, enticing 
form of the naked woman who had joined them.  They looked 
into her face, strange and yet somehow familiar, and found 
themselves captivated by her presence.

As she strolled toward them, Brian and Neil felt a sudden, 
overpowering need.  Their clothing quickly dropped into a 
pile on the floor and they knelt before their goddess, 
cocks extended and quivering, ready to adore her.  She 
kissed them both, then pulled each face to a breast and 
allowed them to suckle, getting them even more aroused and 
deeper under her spell.  

She chose Neil first, leading him to the bed and allowing 
him to mount her.  Brian watched, transfixed, while Neil 
grunted and groaned his way to his first orgasm, then 
eagerly took his place between her slick thighs.  All of 
his energy, all of his life essence seemed to concentrate 
in his cock, and then to flow into her with his climax.  

They took turns in her embrace, their bodies continuing to 
perform long after their reason told them they were 
through.  All it took was a kiss, or a touch, from the 
woman and they would become erect again and ready to serve.  
The minutes stretched into hours until they finally passed 
out, exhausted.

Nina rolled over, semi-lucid, suddenly aware of silence 
once again.  She looked at the clock:  2:45am.  "It's about 
time," she mumbled, thinking of her unseen tormenters.  "I 
hope you assholes are so hoarse tomorrow that you need a 
crash course in sign language."

What a gorgeous day! Joanne thought, stretching her naked 
body as it bathed in the sunlight from her window.  She was 
starting to enjoy sleeping in the nude; it seemed to bring 
on the most vivid, sensuous dreams.  Last night she'd 
dreamed she was a tribal maiden, young and beautiful, who 
encountered two Spanish soldiers.  She had seduced them 
with her beauty, bedded them and ridden them to ecstasy, 
then left them dazed and gasping for breath.  A most 
enjoyable dream.  Joanne hummed pleasantly to herself as 
she washed up and dressed, a good 20 minutes ahead of her 
normal waking time.  

Jeff was already in the kitchen when she wandered over, 
cooking omelets to order for the crew.  "Your turn again?" 
she inquired.  

"Nah," he replied.  "It's Dr. Lambert's turn; I figured I'd 
fill in for him."

"Would you like some help?"

He looked at her in mild surprise.  "Sure, if you feel up 
to it, but you don't have to.  I know you had a pretty 
rough day yesterday; you should probably take it easier 

"Actually, I'm fine," she assured him, grabbing an extra 
skillet and taking her place beside him at the stove.

With two chefs, they had no trouble getting everyone served 
quickly.  Joanne and Jeff fixed their own breakfast last 
and sat together at the end of the long dining table.  They 
were about halfway through their breakfast when Andres came 
over and sat beside them, an annoyed look on his face.

"What's up?" Jeff asked.

Andres grimaced.  "I'm missing two of my grad students," he 
complained.  "Neil and Brian.  They're not in their room or 
the bits room, and they're not in here.  The front gate is 
still closed, so they didn't leave; there's no reason for 
them to have gone to the dig by themselves anyway."

Jeff frowned.  "Have you asked around?"

"Not yet.  I was waiting to see if they showed up for 

"Might as well do it before people start to disperse."  
Jeff stood up and knocked sharply on the table.  "Your 
attention, please, everyone."  A room full of faces turned 
to him and fell silent.  "Has anybody seen Neil or Brian 
this morning?"

Nobody answered.  Jeff repeated the question, and there was 
a general shrugging of shoulders around the table.  "Sorry, 
Andres," he said to the big man.  "Looks like we're going 
to have to hunt them down ourselves."

As Andres was about to leave, Nina came to them.  "I 
haven't seen those two this morning," she told them, "but 
last night they were outside my window until oh-dark-thirty 
on one of their juvenile pranks.  Maybe they couldn't get 
back into the compound or something."

"What were they doing outside?" Jeff asked.

Nina made a sour face.  "Making vulgar noises."

"Did you see them?"

"No," she admitted, "but I knew it had to be them.  Nobody 
else would think sitting outside my window grunting and 
moaning all night would be funny."

With a collective sigh, they finished eating quickly and 
cleaned up their dishes, then headed out to the front gate.  
It was a simple wooden structure, big and strong, which 
they secured at night with a 4-by-4 crossbar.  "It was 
closed and barred when I first got up this morning," Andres 
recalled.  "If they went out during the night, somebody 
else must have locked it behind them."  The two men moved 
the crossbar aside and pushed the gate open.  The women 
followed them outside and around the perimeter.

"No sign of anyone lurking out here," Jeff observed.  "Are 
you sure they were outside the window?"

Nina nodded.  "It sounded like it."

Joanne had a thought.  "Maybe they were in that room," she 
suggested, pointing to another window a few feet from 
Nina's.  "It might sound from inside as if they were 
standing out here."

"It's worth a look," Jeff agreed.  They trudged back around 
the building and in the gate.  Joanne and Nina reached the 
door in question first and pushed it open.  The older woman 
drew in a sharp breath, and Nina giggled with delight at 
the scene within.

Neil and Brian lay sprawled on the floor, unconscious and 
completely naked.  Joanne tried a discreet "Ahem!" but the 
pranksters didn't move.  She approached the nearest one, 
Brian, and knelt at his side.  "He's breathing," she said 
to the men in the doorway.  She reached over and put a 
finger to his neck.  "He's got a pulse, too."  Taking a 
firm grip on his shoulder, she shook him firmly.  "Wake up, 

Brian's eyes opened into a thousand-yard stare, and a look 
of horror came over his face.  "No more!" he cried out in a 
very hoarse, crackling voice.  "No more, please!"  He tried 
to scoot away from Joanne, but his muscles would barely 

Jeff came over and stood beside Joanne.  "Must be one hell 
of a hangover," he said.  "Why don't you let me and Andres 
deal with this?"  The women withdrew, leaving Jeff and 
Andres in charge of the prodigals.

Joanne decided that, since it was such a lovely day, she'd 
walk over to the dig and pick up where she'd left off the 
day before.  Andres arrived in the site van a short while 
later with this crew, less Brian and Neil.  When Joanne 
inquired about them, he snorted.  "They'll live," he 
sneered.  "They admitted to their stupid practical joke, 
but say they don't remember anything after the first few 
minutes.  I think they got blitzed on some kind of cheap 
whiskey, threw out the bottle, went over to that room to 
play their little prank and passed out.  They were 
staggering around the place this morning like couple of 
seasick tourists; they'd be worthless out here, they can 
spend the day in the bits room."

By dinner that evening Brian and Neil were at least well 
enough to face solid food with the crew.  Joanne noted them 
poking gingerly at their chili.  Too bad, she thought to 
herself, because this is really good chili.  She spooned a 
healthy amount onto a fresh cracker and savored the tastes 
and textures on her palate.  

"Found your appetite, I see," Jeff observed as he sat down 
beside her.  

Joanne nodded.  "Andres knows his chili."

Jeff ate a spoonful and agreed emphatically.  "So," he 
said, changing the subject, "are you all packed up?"

"Not yet," she admitted.  "I've been too busy at the dig, 
and trying to wrap things up in the office.  I'll have to 
stay up tonight or get up early to finish packing."

He shrugged.  "Don't spend too much time on it," he 
advised.  "The federales will just unpack it all in the 
morning anyway."


"Yep," he said, nodding.  "Every time somebody leaves, the 
locals do a thorough search of their luggage, study 
materials, anything they take out of here.  They want to 
make sure nobody smuggles anything of value out of the 
country.  Which reminds me ..."  He leaned in closer and 
lowered his voice.  "Are you finished with it yet?"

Joanne blinked.  "With what?"

"Good answer," he said, grinning.  "With the necklace, of 
course.  I helped Lambert sneak it out of the dig 
unnoticed.  I want to get some good photos of that thing 
before it ends up around the neck of some politician's 

"I'm almost done," she replied.  "I'll bring it over to 
your room when things have settled down tonight.  Would 
that be okay?"


It was after midnight when Joanne closed up the last box 
with a sigh.  It had taken her all night, but she had all 
of her research notes, books, and worldly good packed up 
for the trip home.  None of the boxes were sealed, of 
course -- why bother, since the Mexican authorities would 
insist on going through them in the morning? -- but it 
would take only a few minutes to do that when the time 

She took one more look around the room.  The closet was 
empty, the desk and dresser bare, the washstand cleared of 
all but the essentials she would need in the morning.  
Tomorrow's clothes lay folded on top of her suitcase.  

And on top of the tallest box, glimmering up at her, was 
the necklace.  

You've been putting it off all night, she told herself.  
Time to give it up.  She hefted it in her hand one more 
time, admiring the cold beauty of that center stone.  One 
last time, she decided.  Watching herself in the mirror, 
she tugged her shirt collar out of the way and put the 
necklace on.

Jeff was getting impatient.  He knew Joanne had a lot of 
packing to do, but would it have killed her to bring the 
necklace over at a decent hour?

No, he argued with himself, she's just being discreet.  The 
fewer people see that thing before we "find" it officially, 
the better.

Still, he was on the verge of taking the initiative himself 
when he heard a soft knock on his door.  "Finally," me 
muttered under his breath as he strode over and yanked the 
door open.

Jeff's jaw dropped in surprise.  Before him in the doorway 
was the most beautiful, fascinating creature he'd ever 
seen.  She looked vaguely familiar, the way the adult 
children of close friends seem familiar, but he couldn't 
immediately think of whom she reminded him.  Then she 
reached out and touched his face, and he no longer cared -- 
all that mattered was getting closer to her, losing himself 
in her eyes.  She drew him to her and kissed him, and Jeff 
felt himself melting.

In her dream, Joanne was a beautiful young tribal maiden, 
chosen by the elders to present herself to the Spanish 
captain.  She strolled slowly through the invaders' camp, 
bathed in the moonlight, wearing nothing but the necklace 
the elders had given her.  Her mind was at peace, as the 
priest had told her it would be, and her heart full of 

She reached the Spaniard's hut and rapped on the doorway.  
The door opened and she found herself face to face with the 
outsiders' leader.  He was a comely man, with a strong jaw 
and a pleasant face.  His strange clothes hid most of his 
body, but she knew that would change.  

There was a look of surprise on his face, perhaps even 
suspicion.  He started to speak in the strange yet familiar 
tongue the foreigners used.  She sensed him backing away 
and reached forward, touching his cheek with a finger tip.  
She felt the power of the moon, stored in the necklace,  
flow out through her body and into his.  His eyes widened 
and stared into hers, and she felt the powerful connection 
that developed between them in that moment.  Her center 
grew warm and tingly; she needed to give herself to him.

She pulled his face to hers and kissed him, feeling the 
moon's power enclose and embrace them.  The captain 
returned her kiss with growing fervor, and she could sense 
the strength gathering in his loins.  He stepped back and 
disrobed, his eyes never leaving her face.  She saw that 
his manroot was stiff and long and eager for her 
attentions.  She grasped it in a hand and led him to his 
sleeping pad, feeling it grow ever more firm in her grip.  

She stopped at the edge of his bed.  His arms went around 
her, drawing her closer to him, pressing his member into 
the flesh of her buttocks.  His hands found her breasts and 
squeezed them while he planted small kisses on the nape of 
her neck.  

Her juices began to flow freely, and she was ready to 
receive him.  She bent over onto his bed, reaching between 
her legs to find his rigid member and guide it into her 
secret place.  He needed no further encouragement -- 
grabbing her hips, he pulled her tightly against himself, 
burying his probe as far as it would go.  Her body 
responded to his insistent movements, and their passions 
surged in unison until his seed poured into her.  She felt 
the flow of his essence and accepted it hungrily, letting 
her body gratify him with the sounds of her pleasure.

Soon his grunts and movements slowed, and then ceased.  She 
felt him disengage and stagger backward, but they were not 
finished yet.  She turned to face him again and the 
necklace glowed, sending a new rush of power through her.  
She took his limp hand, letting the power run into it, and 
in moments his body was hungry for her again.  She stepped 
backward and he followed, gently pushing her back to the 
bed.  He knelt on the floor at her feet and kissed his way 
up her thighs.  He paused briefly at her pelt, inhaling her 
scent and inflaming himself further, then continued kissing 
up the middle of her body until he found her lips.  His 
mouth closed over hers as he slid his member inside her 

Her legs closed around him, pulling him in tighter, and 
their bodies gyrated together in the timeless dance of the 
beast with two backs.  Their passion grew louder and 
stronger, overpowering all reason, until in a burst of 
silvery lightness they climaxed again.  She held him inside 
her until his gift was completely given, then rolled to one 
side, letting his exhausted body flop back onto the bed.

She lay back swimming in the afterglow, waiting, until the 
moon called to her again.  The captain gasped when she 
touched his chest, and groaned in faint protest when her 
fingers found his dwindled manroot, but under her enchanted 
touch it rose again to full height.  She toyed with it 
until it strained for the ceiling, then climbed up above 
the man's spent form and plunged herself down onto him.  
His body could scarcely find the energy to move, but as her 
hips worked his member inside her she felt the fires 
beginning to burn within him again.  She reached up toward 
the moon, invoking its magic one more time, and the moon 
responded.  The man twitched weakly, the last of his energy 
flowing into her center, and fell silent.  

She looked down at the unconscious figure and smiled.  It 
would be many days before he would feel strong enough to 
make war on her people.

Joanne sat in front of the mirror for the last time, 
running a brush through her honey-colored hair while the 
Mexican authorities finished going through the last box of 
research notes.  In short order, they gave her permission 
to seal the boxes and a note for Customs attesting that she 
carried no valuable items that did not rightfully belong to 

Joanne thanked the officers in Spanish with her most 
charming smile, and they helped her to load the sealed 
boxes into the site van for transport.  With Nina's help, 
she affixed labels to all of the boxes so that they could 
be shipped to her office at the University.  Her one 
suitcase and carry-on bag also went into the van.

Andres came up to her in the courtyard, jingling the van 
keys in his hand.  "I thought Jeff was driving into town 
this morning," she remarked.

The big man shrugged his shoulders.  "He's not feeling well 
this morning," he explained.  "He asked me to take you in, 
and to pick up the supplies for him.  Are you ready?"

"I'm ready.  Is Jeff going to be okay?"

"I think so.  He sounds like an 80-year-old man through the 
doorway, but he says it's just a stomach flu.  He'd better 
not try to blame it on my chili."

With a laugh and a round of good-byes, they piled into the 
van and drove out of the compound.  Their immediate 
destination was a small town called San Jimenez, about an 
hour's drive from the dig site.  There wasn't much there, 
but the town did have a bus station, a large general store, 
and a post office.  Her boxes would be shipped to the 
University by UPS from there; Joanne and her luggage would 
get on a bus to Mexico City, where she could catch a flight 

Once they were well clear of the site, Joanne reached into 
the map pocket in the back of Andres' seat and pulled out a 
thick clasp envelope.  Watching the driver, she quietly 
removed a dark blue bandana from the envelope and let the 
empty envelope slide back into the seat pocket.  Andres' 
eyes peeked in the rear view mirror.  "You okay back 

"Fine," she said.  "Just stretching a little bit."

"You can still move to the front seat if you want," he 
offered.  "The view is a lot better."

"No thanks.  I like the legroom here."

"Suit yourself."

As his eyes returned to the road, Joanne parted the folded 
bandana enough to verify that the necklace inside it was 
undisturbed.  Satisfied, she opened her purse and slipped 
it inside, next to the handful of tampons she'd borrowed 
from Nina.  Joanne hadn't needed tampons in several years, 
but something told her it might be wise to have a few on 
hand in the next day or so.

Her fingers fell on the picture of Joanne Marie, born 7/27, 
and Joanne smiled.  She was looking forward to a long, 
happy visit with her new granddaughter.



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