The Fortune Hunter
The Amazon was the next to approach, leaning heavily on a staff with one hand as she seized Jack in a fierce hug with her other.
“Adonia,” she said, pointing to herself.
“Adonia?” Jack repeated. “That’s your name? Mine’s Jack. It was a pleasure to fight beside you.”
Seeing the looks they gave each other, Maia was about to make herself scarce, but Jack beckoned her closer.
“Can you translate? I’ve got something I really need to tell Adonia.”
“I’m not sure,” Maia folded her arms. “It sounds like she’s speaking ancient Greek, which I only know as a written language. But maybe…”
Maia grabbed a stick and scratched the Greek letters into the ground. It was a simple greeting, but Adonia responded immediately, using her staff to repeat the greeting and then commence a longer message.
“It says…” Maia studied the script, puzzling over a few of the characters. “The gist is that she wants you to stay here with her.”
Jack sighed heavily and thought for a long moment. Adonia started scrawling another message before he began to speak.
“Tell her this,” Jack said. “Tell her that I want very badly to stay, but it can’t happen. I have a duty to get my crew back home safely. Tell her that… that I hope she understands. If I weren’t the kind of man to carry out my duty, I wouldn’t be worthy of her.”
Maia watched the Amazon’s sentences take shape and had to suppress a laugh. “Adonia just wrote that she wants to come with you, but she has a duty to stay here.” Maia looked up at Jack. “She says she hopes you understand. Seems like you two are just peas in a pod.”
“Maybe I’ll come back someday,” Jack said hopefully.
“Of course you will,” Maia said. “You’ll have to find her again when you come back to pick me up.”
“To… to pick you up?” Jack looked surprised. “You’re not coming back on the drilling machine?”
“Are you kidding?” Maia lifted her hat to wipe her brow with the back of her wrist. “My pockets are still empty, and this place is filled with tombs to be raided and loot to be plundered.”
“I promised I’d get everyone back safe—”
“Save it for people who need you,” Maia rested her shotgun across her shoulder. “This is going to be fun.”
Maia accompanied the expedition back to the drill sight and stood by until the dented, scratched steel hull disappeared into the ground and the rumbling faded away beneath her feet. She spent a long while studying the distant landscape that curved upwards into the mists in all directions. Finally, she plucked a strand of grass, held it aloft and let it float down. Her compass still didn’t work, but if the ancient city had been to the north then the wind carried the blade of grass towards the southwest, where she could see a sparkling blue sea in the distance.
It was as good a direction as any, so she adjusted her hat and set off to continue her expedition.