Hunter Chronicles

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Welcome to the Hunter Chronicles.
Yes, it is another RPG 'verse'! This time we're playing with the Cinematic Unisystem "Buffy" rules but we're playing dashing heroes and heroines in 1939 pulp action ala "Indiana Jones" and "The Mummy".

I'm directing this one and the players are:

Jonathon Jason Raynes (Ex-military - Treasure Hunter)
Cliff (ex-military intelligence - Treasure Hunter)
Gladys (drop dead redhead tomboy adventurer)
Kiko (Andean native guide)

The first episode "The Rise of Antu Inca" will be posted shortly. Or at least what we've gotten through so far. Supernatural curses, Peruvian rain forests and undead will certainly play a part.

Stay tuned!

Jungles of New Guinea

“Sir, the statues are very valuable to the tribe.  They do not want to part with them,” the young New Guinea native told his employers.
Jason Raynes rubbed his chin.  “Would he take anything in trade for them?”
The guide turned back to the chief and translated the request.  After a moment of listening, he turned back to Jason.  “He’d trade them for the magic box.”
“Magic box?” he repeated, unsure.
Cliff raised his eyebrows in understanding.  “The radio,” he pointed to it and looked at the tribal chief.
The chief grinned and nodded, pointing to the device.
Gladys let out a mock wail, “No, not our magic box!”
The native guide translated again and the chief made a very final sounding comment as his honor guards grinned behind him and nudged each other.
“Fine, fine,” Jason sighed.  “Let them have it.”  He moved to take the radio.
Gladys held onto it as long as theatrically possible before letting Jason tear it away.  As Jason turned to hand the radio over to the native tribe, there was a crash of brush and a jeep pulled up while local soldiers poured from the forest.  A man stood and smiled, showing almost movie star good looks. His eyes were gleeful at the trio’s surprise and disgust.
“That will be far enough, Mr. Raynes.  Lower your weapons.”
Jason gave a broad smile that didn’t touch his eyes, “Hello Dick, I thought there was something unpleasant I smelled in the breeze.”
Richard Davenport growled at the irreverent nickname but motioned to several of the armed entourage with him to move into position.  “I assume you do not have the proper papers to be here in New Guinea?”
“We left them at the hotel.  Didn’t want to lose them after all,” Jason replied.
“I’m sure.”  He produced a set of documents.  “Now, you see, we have the proper papers and authority to be here, and the governor is most grateful that we’ve stopped some rather unscrupulous fellows from taking advantage of these indigenous tribes.” 
He glanced at Jason’s hands.  “Ahhh… magic box?”  Richard turned and talked to the chieftain in a passing version of Guinea.
The chief nodded and the statues went over towards Richard as the troops moved in on Jason and his friends, removing the weapons and hustling them away.

The last thing they saw before being shoved into the back of the jeep was the chieftain proudly showing off his "two" radios to his people.
New Guinea Prison Compound - three weeks later.

“I think… I’m starting to tell the difference from the slop on Mondays from the slop on Tuesdays…” Cliff grumbled.
“At least they’re feeding us,” Jason replied as he waited his turn in line among the other prisoners.
“You don’t see any rats do you?” Gladys asked nervously as she looked around, between her two male compatriots.
“No rats.  They like to come out at night anyways,” Jason smiled as he shuffled along.
Cliff and Gladys got their food and headed over to the log the three usually sat at.  Jason came up to get his and was bumped forward.
The largest man in the camp, and consequently the only one taller than the treasure hunters, who the three had taken to calling ‘Tiny’ growled something at him and shoved him again.  “Get out of my way,” he growled in Guinea.
Jason was already tired of being shoved.  “Wait your turn, sheesh.”
Tiny moved to punch Jason and the smaller man managed to duck out of the way.  Wanting to end this fairly quickly, he aimed a kick at Tiny’s knee, hitting the kneecap and Tiny went down.  Tiny, of course got back up and tried to hit Jason again.  Jason went for the other knee and Tiny went down.  However, he reached over and grabbed Jason’s foot, knocking him to the ground.
As Gladys and Cliff casually watched the fight, Cliff noticed one of the guards about to get break things up, but another guard stopped him and they both just resumed watching the fight.
Jason kicked up to his feet and Tiny charged at him.  Sidestepping, Jason elbow dropped the large man.
“We can keep doing this all day, you know,” he commented. Both were thoroughly muddy by this point and Tiny nursed two very sore knees.
The guard signaled a couple of the other inmates who headed for Jason.  Gladys went to intercept and she took one down that was coming up behind her teammate.  Taking out her hair stick, she jabbed it into the inmate’s neck, making him still.

Meanwhile several others had bum rushed Jason and plowed him into the rusty fence, where he got a good look at Dick Davenport flanked by two goons in suits.
Dick said something to the guards and they went over to gather up Jason, Gladys and Cliff, ushering them into the main prison building and to an interrogation room.
Already seated was a large middle-aged man, smoking a cigar.  “Please, sit down.”
Dick walked in and stood next to the guards that flanked the rotund gentleman.  After a few moments, the three sat down in the chairs once they determined the chairs were not good or sturdy enough for proper weapons.
“Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Arthur Autovan… and I have an offer for you and your team, Mr. Raynes.”
Jason raised an eyebrow, “An offer?  And what might that be?”
“I want you and your friends to work for me.  In return, we’ll get you out of this prison, outfit you as you need, and of course pay you.”
“And why would you want us?”
“Quite simply, Mr. Raynes, though you and your friends have been an occasional thorn in my side, you have beaten Richard to a prize more than once." At this Richard only narrowed his eyes, "I would rather employ your talents and utilize them.  However, if you’d rather, we can just leave you here.  I have many friends in New Guinea, and trust me when I say I can see to it you never leave.”
Gladys smiled very charmingly, even with the two weeks’ worth of grime.  “You mentioned monetary compensation?”
Autovan nodded, “Of course, dear lady.  But only if you accept my offer.”
“So what’s this job you want us to do?” Jason asked.
Autovan shook his head.  “You see, we come to a bit of a problem. Until you agree to work for me, you are rivals. I won't share information with rivals. Suffice it to say it's nothing you haven't done before. I will only tell you more if you agree to work for me.”
Cliff and Gladys both nudged Jason.  He sighed and nodded his head.  “Fine… we accept.”
Autovan grinned.  “Excellent.  I just need to find a colleague of mine who disappeared in Peru.” 

Cliff looked up, "Peru is very dangerous right now."

"Thus the need for experienced explorers like yourself." Mr. Autovan looked at the trio, “Now, I want to make sure there is no misunderstanding.  Once you are in my employ, I will consider it a betrayal of trust should you cross me. New Guinea is not the only place I have friends."
Jason nodded, “Understood.”
Off the coast of California - one week later.

Autovan held a party on his yacht.  Gladys was dressed in a very elegant gown and jewelry, very much looking like a lady.  Both Cliff and Jason were in tuxedos and making light conversation with some of the other guests.
As the evening progressed, Autovan took Jason, Cliff and Gladys away as Richard followed along.  Going below decks, they met in the stateroom where Autovan had his presentation prepared.  They were joined by an extremely attractive blonde by the name of Dr. Elizabeth Munroe who began the lecture:
“When the Inca ruler Manco Inca and his large army failed to overthrow the Spanish invaders in A.D. 1536, the Inca fled from their imperial capital at Cuzco and took refuge in the Vilcabamba wilderness. They lived there for 36 years, until the Spanish finally penetrated the area and killed the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru in 1572, bringing an end to the Incan Empire.

“There is a mountain called Cerro Victoria. It's some thirty miles from the archeological site known as Machu Pichu in the Vilcabamba mountain range. Our contracted explorer, James Weatherbee, was in the area of Cerro Victoria when he disappeared. Two weeks after he was due back these were found (she notes three gold medallions and a large silver and gold seal) along with some of Weatherbee's supplies. They were being sold by a Peruvian rebel in a little village called Saldan not far from Cusco. Upon further investigation we learned that the rebel found these things beside a river at the base of Cerro Victoria.

“The seal, as best we can tell belongs to an Incan Prince named Antu Inca who controlled several tribes in the early 1400's. Its design and shape mark it as a type typically used to ward the burial chamber and treasures of Incan royalty. Our problem is it's location. As I said earlier the Inca rulers did not inhabit the Vilcabamba Mountains until nearly a hundred years past Antu Inca's life.

“The medallions are wards, but wards unlike any we have come across before. The image on the front is Inti, the Incan Sun God and mythic originator of the Incan royal family. It was common to see such medallions warn as good luck by the Inca people, though obviously only the wealthy had golden ones. What is odd, is the backs of these medallions. This is a less used symbol of Sutay, the God of death and the Underworld. The markings around Sutay's symbol are commonly translated as "to ward" or "to guard." By all appearances, these medallions seem to be saying "By Inti's power, guard us from the power of Sutay."

“The questions these pieces call forth have the possibility of furthering our understanding of the Inca culture greatly! If Weatherbee did indeed find these things in the Vilcabamba it might mean that the Inca's inhabited the area a hundred years before we believed they did. If they were brought there later, then we must ask why. Antu Inca lived a hundred years before the Spanish came. Everything we have found indicates he wasn't an overly important figure. On top of all this is the possibility of discovering an untouched royal settlement, burial and treasure chamber intact.

“As you know, you weren't the first commissioned to find Weatherbee's route. Mr. Autovan sent two exploration teams and both disappeared like Weatherbee. We think now that a particularly viscous contingent of Peruvian rebels was holed up near Cerro Victoria and… killed them. Through his connections, Mr. Davenport has discovered that these rebels have recently moved north towards Pasco. If we tread lightly, we should avoid any further unpleasantness.

“We will be flying by transport plane into Nazca. From there we'll go by truck to Cusco and buy whatever supplies we don't already have.”
Autovan interrupted and introduced the group to Kiko, a native Peruvian who had agreed to be the guide for the expedition.  Kiko gave a little bow at his introduction and was pleased to find out that the three Americans spoke Spanish fluently enough that conversation was fairly easy.
Peru - three days later

The group arrived in Nazca and took transportation to Cuzco, both Jason and Cliff taking opportunity to be very nice to Elizabeth, mostly to annoy Dick.  However, their actions also served to annoy Gladys, who started flirting with Dick.  Arriving late in the afternoon, they checked into the equivalent of a hotel that had a bar and relaxed.  The train didn’t leave until the following morning and Kiko took the opportunity to take a walk around the town.
As he headed back to the bar, he noticed something rather out of the ordinary.  Going to investigate, he saw a covered military truck that was very much out of place in this town.  He peeked in the back and saw there were locked and sealed crates along with exploration gear.
The door to the building next to the truck opened and Kiko scampered out of sight as a large, aryan man walked out.  He went to the truck, unlocked a crate, removed something from it and then secured the box again before heading back inside.
Kiko headed back to where the group was staying and reported what he found to Jason.  After a moment it was decided for Gladys and Cliff to go along with Kiko and check out the strange truck.  As they headed out, the two Americans decided that if it was competition, to sabotage the vehicle so that it wouldn’t be apparent it was tampered with, but still allow their group to have the advantage.
Gladys went under the truck, removing a knife to slice the brake lines enough to make them leak slowly.  Cliff went to the side of the truck and kept out of sight as he watched the door while Kiko made his way into the back of the truck.
After a few moments, the truck rocked a little and out the driver side door, a man stepped out and went to the alleyway to relieve himself.  The three froze as they waited.  The man returned to the cab of the truck and Cliff snuck around and tried to brain him with a rock.  Out of the corner of his eyes, the man saw movement and ducked.

Again Cliff tried to hit him and missed.  Under the truck, Gladys used her knife and stuck the man in the foot as Cliff tried to grapple him.  Kiko heard the commotion and hopped out of the truck.  He saw the man Cliff was fighting and snuck up behind him.  Kiko leapt on the man’s back, and with his hands, cut off the air supply until the man passed out.
Gladys wiggled out from under the truck and went to the bed and snagged a locked box as Cliff hefted the unconscious man.  After a bit of talk about taking the man to a pig herder, they decided to take everything back to the bar.
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!” Dick demanded.
The unconscious man thumped on Jason’s table along with the lockbox.  Dick suggested that Elizabeth go upstairs, which she did, with an incredulous look on her face as Gladys was calmly entertaining killing the unconscious man.
The remaining patrons left, leaving the gringos to gringo business.  Gladys popped open the box and in it was a medical kit, odds and ends of supplies, and some potato masher grenades.
Jason had his friends put the newly acquired items away as he went to deal with the unconscious man.  He took him to an alley way near the train station, a few blocks from where he was accosted and dumped him there.  He smashed up the box nearby and left things as they were before returning to the hotel.
The following morning they boarded the train.  When Jason tried to assure Elizabeth that the man was not killed, she icily informed him that she was not speaking to him.
Within a few days they reached their destination up in the mountains and prepared to go by foot, having lamas for their beasts of burden.  Kiko led the way as this was his home territory and scouted out ahead.
On the third day of the hike, as night approached Kiko paused to scan for a good camp site, he heard a low rumbling sound and looked around.  In a tree near him was a jaguar, just watching him.  He offered it a greeting and it leapt out at him.  It didn’t strike, just enough of an action to make the native duck.
When the others caught up to him he told Jason to be wary as the spirits of the forests were around.  Jason took that to mean animals were prowling about.  They continued a little further to a camping area that Kiko knew of.
As camp was being set up, Elizabeth walked over to Gladys and whispered that she needed to relieve herself.  Gladys, seizing the opportunity, announced Elizabeth’s intentions to the entire camp.  Deeply mortified, Elizabeth stalked out by herself.  Jason made to follow, but Gladys passed him to go with the other woman.
As the ladies concluded their business, Elizabeth exclaimed, “Oh my, look at this!”
“It’s not a rat, is it?” Gladys asked suspiciously.
“No, no.  Come look.”
Gladys moved over to where Elizabeth stood by a rock that had something drawn on it.  She called out for the others to join them as the archaeologist studied the pictographs.
“It’s the symbol of Sutay, like on the medallions…”
Cliff looked closer.  ‘It’s painted in fresh blood.”
The guys moved to fan out and look around.  As Kiko followed footprints, he heard another rumbling sound like the cat he saw.
“You should not have come this far,” a low, rumbling voice said in the darkness.
“I am sorry, but I am with these crazy gringos, and I do not think they will turn back.”
“Make them go back or else they and you... will die.”
“I… will try.”
Kiko heard nothing else and headed back to the group. On his way he found a grouping of cat tracks, as if three or four of the beasts were traveling together.
“Did you find anything?” Jason asked.
Kiko shook his head.  “No… I lost the trail.  Whoever it was is better than I. We were warned to turn back.”
Richard growled, “Well then maybe we should pay them instead of you. We're not turning back!”
Jason rolled his eyes.  “Right, well, we’ll take watches in teams of two.”
They headed back to the camp. 
Jason sat on the ground as he started to work on cleaning his guns and making sure they were all fully loaded.  Elizabeth sat near the entrance to her tent and Jason looked up and saw that she was reading.  He also heard her crying gently before she folded the letter she held in her hands and took a moment to compose herself.  Walking out, she headed over and sat on a log opposite where Jason sat.
Dick and the others were having a heated discussion about tactics in the larger of the tents. Kiko sat at the edge of the camp looking out into the jungle and whittling.
Elizabeth warmed her hands at the fire and briefly look towards Jason  before returning her stare to the flames.
Jason looked up as he reloaded the gun he was cleaning and holstered it before starting to take the other one apart to clean.  "How’re you holding up?"
She looked up again and stared nervously at the weapon for a moment. "Fine, thank you." She paused, "Unbearably warm... even at night isn't it?"   It was obvious from her tone that she didn’t think much of Jason or his companions… probably due to the incident in Cuzco.
Jason made sure to keep the weapon pointed away from her.  "Yeah, but you’ll get acclimated to it soon enough."  He looked up and smiled though his hands didn't stop working on the weapon, "And I thought you weren't talking to me."
"Yes, well, I probably shouldn't." She wiped some dirt from her pant leg. "Richard says so at any rate, and I have seen nothing yet to show that he is wrong about you and your... associates."
Jason finished up with his gun and holstered it.  "Oh and you always do what Richard says?"
Elizabeth was offended. "I am my own master thank you very much, or didn't the pants give it away?" she displayed her unladylike apparel.  "Still, it isn't subservient to follow good advice, even fro - from a man." It seemed as if she was going to call "Dick" something else for a moment.
Jason leaned back and nodded, "Fair enough, though it sounds like you were about to say something else there, what was it?  Even from...." he prompted.
She squinted her eyes and tossed back her hair. "Let's just say there's far too much "old fashionism" in this line of work. I am surrounded by backward thinking men."  She glanced over towards the main tent before returning her gaze to Jason, her eyes letting him know that she included him as well in the statement.
"Backward thinking... interesting... and I travel with a lady who can outshoot me."
Elizabeth was momentarily at a loss for words.  Finally she nodded, "Y-yes… well, I suppose there's some redemption there."  Again she looked towards the tent as Gladys' voice rose above the others for a moment. "Though some women might push the boundaries a bit too far I think."
"Again, considering this particular line of work, she ends up caught trying to be a proper lady and trying to be tough enough that some of the lower end of humanity doesn't try to take advantage of her... that and I think she's a little nuts.  I'm not too sure on that."
She smiled slightly despite herself. "All except the last bit I can understand." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "Can she really?"
"Really what?"
"Outshoot you?"
Jason grinned, "Oh yes.  Seriously, Miss Munroe... I'm not above taking help from people that can offer it.  Man, woman, child.  I don't know everything and I can't do everything, so I'll take help from those who can do what I can't."
Elizabeth looked at Jason, considering him as the flames danced nearby. "Alright, I admit it. You are a bit of a mystery Mr. Raynes. Why ARE you and your crew here? It's been obvious from the start that you and Richard don't get on too well, and from the meeting on Arthur Autovan's boat it seemed you didn't care much for our sponsor either."
"You can call me Jason if you like.  We're here because we promised to help out Mr. Autovan, otherwise we'd still be in a New Guinea prison that Richard helped put us in."
"What, no monetary incentive? Excuse me if I find that a tad hard to swallow. Richard told me something of the events in New Guinea. He said you were operating without papers, attempting to abscond with priceless artifacts solely in the name of profit. ‘Beads and furs for gems and gold’, I believe is how he put it."
Jason shrugged, "The monetary incentive I consider an added bonus.  We wouldn't have survived much longer there.  And true, we don't necessarily go through proper channels and all.  We've tried a few times, but Autovan Imports waits for us to do so and likes to beat us to our little goals."
"So it's a long time rivalry is it? Raynes versus Autovan Imports and the winner being the one who gets the highest bid for their stolen statues?" Her tone made it perfectly clear she thought very little of archeological mercenaries.
He chuckled, "Not sure how much of a rivalry it is since us three versus Autovan Imports isn't really a fair competition considering their resources.  And we get hired by collectors and museums alike.  Unfortunately, people like me, and Gladys and Cliff... well, we're good at surviving... and sometimes that’s all we know how to do."
She seemed slightly depressed, "Well there is something to be said for surviving..." she looked longingly toward her tent and the small pack where she had put the letter, seemingly somewhere else for a moment.
"Is there... something the matter?"
Elizabeth didn’t respond right away, letting the silence continue a few moments before starting a whole new tack in the conversation.
"My father... is a very good man. A scholar, not backward thinking, wholly interested in the betterment of mankind through a deeper understanding of its history, and yet... and yet..."
 She looked over at Jason, “Why is it that you "survive" when other, better men are senselessly chosen to suffer and die?" A sob caught in her throat before she turned away.
Jason moved over and sat down next to Elizabeth, placing a hand on her shoulder.  "I ask myself that question quite a bit.  There is no good answer that I've found.  So ... I decided to honor those that have died... by living life as fully as I can since they can no longer do so and finding places and memories that they'd appreciate."
"Do you think they know... what you experience I mean? Do you think they follow your achievements and experiences?"
The intensity in her question surprised Jason, and he thought about it a moment.  "I think that yeah.  They do follow you, be it their spirit or memory, they do watch and if they have the power, I think sometimes they even help."
She raised a brow and looked back at him. "Don't tell me you're a spiritual man Mr. Raynes. Is there a cross tucked away under that stained explorer's vest?" trying for levity, but still, her voice couldn’t hide the sadness.
Jason gave a half smile, "No, not a cross... My sister and I were orphans, and we looked out for each other.  She died when we were both around... sixteen.  But even so... sometimes, I think she does still look out for me... since I'm still around."
"I-I'm sorry." She looked back into the flames, "How did she die? I-if you don't mind my asking?"
"She got sick.  We didn't have any money for medicine and she didn't want me stealing anything.  I did anyway, but was too late."
Elizabeth was silent for a while. Without taking her eyes from the fire she whispered, "Sometimes money and medicine don't help."
"No... Sometimes nothing can help..."  He looked over to her.  "Your father?"
She returned his look for a moment and a tear glistened in the corner of her eye. She quickly looked back into the flames. "Yes. Cancer. He's close to the end now."
"I'm sorry to hear that.  He's an impressive man."
"Yes, he is. I wasn't aware you knew my father?"
"I met him once.  I doubt if I made much of an impression, but he made one on me."
"Where, if you don't mind me asking." the corner of her mouth raised slightly, "It's just that I don't see you traveling the same circles as James Cameron Munroe the Third."
"New York City ... I was invited along to a party at Lady Catherine DuPuy's townhouse as I was working for her husband at the time."
"And here I thought Mr. Autovan's yacht might have been the first time you'd donned a tuxedo." She smiled a little and dabbed her eyes with a silk kerchief she pulled from her pocket.
Jason just gave her a wink, "I clean up pretty."
She smiled again. "So I've noticed." She tried to stifle a slight blush and cleared her throat as she smoothed her features.  She narrowed her eyes in thought. "Tell me, Mr. Raynes, does your faith include other areas of mysticism beyond guardian angels?"
Jason smiled as he tilted his head to take a moment to consider that. "Haven't seen anything else to add to it, but I don't like to think I'm close-minded.  Why do you ask?"
Again she answered with a question.  "It's just, well. What do you know of Mr. Autovan? I mean really know?"
"Other than his business and his hobby of sending Richard to pull the rug out from under us, not much really," he shrugged.
She looked toward the tent to make sure Richard and the others aren't paying any attention before looking back at the mercenary. "Before accepting Mr. Autovan's offer I did some research, talked to some faculty at the museum. Mr. Autovan has become very wealthy from his business but upon closer inspection I've realized a pattern to his acquisitions."
Jason tilted his head, "What sort of pattern?"
Elizabeth, evidently excited at his interest, scooted a little closer to him on the log. "Well, you see, he tends to lean toward the artifacts with mystical or magical stories behind them. Not so much that it's obvious to the casual observer of his business but... For instance, last year he had a job offer in Southern Africa and a very short window to go after it. It was a set of Bambiliki Statuettes for the British Museum. They were offering quite the reward but required the pieces in time for a new exhibit opening. Autovan already had a team in the area. It would have been a simple matter for him to redirect their efforts but he passed on the museums offer. Do you know why?"
He shook his head, "No, why?"
"His team was searching out an old Cowry shell necklace rumored to belong to a powerful shaman of the Ektuku Tribes. Absolutely worthless to the scholars market. It was only perhaps a hundred years old, if that. He had no buyer. One can only assume it was for his personal collection."
Jason nodded as he listened, thinking about some of the times that Autovan competed over with him and his friends.  "And there are other things he went out of his way to get, rather than highly sought artifacts."
"There are few other instances that I have such details about. I only know about the necklace because he spoke of it with my father. But there are countless other expeditions like that one. High cost, low profit, unknown artifacts. He'll often report missions failed, but I wonder now whether he just keeps the findings."
"Interesting… did he say why he wanted me and my friends along?  I know what he said at the prison in New Guinea... but I wonder if he mentioned anything else."
"No, he didn't. I assumed that you and your crew had worked for him in the past. Though it became quickly obvious you and Richard didn't exactly get along." She looked toward the tent where the argument had heated up again.
Gladys was yelling in Dick's face, something about backup never being a bad thing. Jason wondered briefly if he should be in there to hear what they were going on about. Then again Cliff "usually" had a steady head.
"No, this is the first time that we've ever worked for Autovan.  And no, we don't care much for him... feeling tends to be mutual."  He looked over, "Starting to wonder if I'm going to have to keep them separated."
"Richard just can't stand a woman being "other" than meek. I think if she were unarmed he would have slapped her by now." She smiled, "I think he's afraid she can outshoot him as well."
"Even if she was unarmed, he'd regret it.  Do you know how to shoot or do any fighting?  I don't mean to be insulting or anything, I'm just curious."
"I fence and have fired a target pistol once or twice. That's about the extent of my war-skills. I am after all a scholar first and foremost." She eyed Jason's case and weaponry with apprehension. "Those are far from proper archeological tools."
"Fencing?" he looked impressed, and then smiled at his tools.  "Well, I just believe in being prepared for the worst.  That way when it doesn't happen, I can be pleasantly surprised."
"That's called asking for trouble."
He laughed softly.  "Yes, trouble and I are old friends.  He never picks up the tab though."
"No seriously. Look at it this way, how long have you been... doing, what you do?"
"Oh, a few years now."
"Same for me. Not all field work I grant you, but still, we basically fulfill the same roll in the world. We seek out old things and bring them to light. Our motivations may be different but our "job" as it were is the same. Do you agree?"
Before Jason could answer she continued, "YET, I do not carry an arsenal with me, I don't engage in fisticuffs, I don't stab people in alleyways. The only thing I swing in earnest is the occasional pick or shovel." She looked at Jason as if daring him to argue the point. "I have brought over twenty important discoveries to light for the museum! Are your results so much grander?"
Jason and his team had at least doubled that much, though not all went to museums.  He remained quiet though, and waited, seeing if he was allowed to speak.
"Well?" she huffed.
“Oh, my turn now?” he smiled.
"Yes, and stop being smart, I'm serious."
"When you brought these discoveries to the museum... how many were with you on your dig?  Just you by yourself?"
She blinked as she tried to figure out Jason's angle. "We generally had a full archeological team. Four or five scientists, another half dozen assistants and whatever labor force we required generally made up of local workers."
He nodded, “About what I thought.  Okay, now Gladys, Cliff and I only have each other.  Say someone else wanted our spot where we were working or looking and figured we wouldn't want to leave and there's only three of us... some people aren't as polite as to ask for the discoveries and would just as soon as eliminate the competition.”
"If you had the proper papers you'd have the support of the local government to protect you. There have been a few times when we had soldiers along with us for protection in dangerous times - not that they ever had to get violent." She trailed off as she saw her argument was on shaky ground, turning her attention to the fire.  "I see legal channels as things there to protect you, not as obstacles."
"For you, perhaps they are.  My experience is that they protect the interests of themselves or those that help them."
She considered that for a moment. "Do you even have any formal training in archeology?"
"I didn't go to school if that's what you mean.  I was an assistant to a very close friend, Benjamin Platt.  Having the proper papers didn't stop a 'claim jumper' from shooting him."
"I'm sorry." She paused a moment then looked up to him, "Perhaps it's not as cut and dry as I've believed."
Before she could continue, Richard opened up the tent flap and stalked towards the fire.  He stopped a few paces from the edge of the light as he realized he was interrupting something. His eyes traveled from Elizabeth to Jason and narrowed briefly before he finished his approach.
"Pardon me. That bloody tent is getting way too crowded for my liking. I'm not interrupting anything am I?" He sat on the other side of Ms. Munroe and smiled at Jason.
Jason grinned.  “Oh no, not at all, just our plans to elope.”

Richard's smile hardly faltered, though his quick look at Elizabeth to judge her reaction was telling enough.

Cliff and Gladys soon appeared at the fire as well.

To be Continued...