Every once in a while, a mutant in a small village is discovered. And when they are discovered, one of two things happen. Either they are lifted up and worshiped as a god or they are sacrificed in order to appease one of their gods. In this case, a bit of both situations hold some truth.
Deep in the amazon, the society known as the "Leopard People" live in a nearly inaccessible valley south of the Amazon River. Geography has helped to keep them relatively unknown, giving them only an "urban legend" status of the locals and travelers alike. That all changed about two weeks ago when a group of eight tourists who strayed from the beaten path stumbled upon the Leopard People's sacred waterfall, "Chanaluha". In their language, that meant "channeling spirit place", which very roughly meant that it was where they called their society's spirit protector, the Great Leopard. For sacrifices.
The curious explorers were unfortunate enough to witness the sacrifice while they were awestruck by the majesty of the waterfall. What went down had all the makings of a jungle-based horror flick; bloody, unexpected, frightful, and terribly unfortunate to the witnesses. Before they could escape, they were captured by spear-wielding men in ceremonial paint and masks and hauled away, bound at the wrists and collared and leashed like dogs. All but one, actually.
Svon Hansen had gotten away at the last moment, trying to get a signal on his cell phone while running through the jungle terrain. When he had finally gotten something, he called the leader of their expedition, who was unaware that the eight had strayed away from the path. Marina Michaels, the expedition leader, only got the tail end of what sounded like shouts, struggling, praying, cursing, and feral cat-like sounds. Then, a moment before the signal was lost, the shouting stopped and purring was heard.
What Marina had made out from the alarming phone call was bits and pieces of Svon's cries and shouts. She pieced it together, and what she got was quite confusing, to say the least. Leopard People? Unholy eyes? Eight of us? Taken? Quickly, she consulted her vast array of books, sketches, and her own personal knowledge of urban legends. The fright in her eyes explained it all when she came to her conclusion: The Leopard People were real. They were real and they were holding people hostage. Not only were they American citizens, but they were people who were only hours ago were under her care. Her watchful eye. Her responsibility. She had to do something, and she had to act fast. There was no telling how long it would take for the hostages to become leopard meat.
Of course, the locals laughed at her, for the most part. They all laughed and walked away, accusing her of believing bedtime stories that were told to frighten bad children. When she called her director, however, he took her seriously. At one time, they were both partners out there in the wild, leading tours through the wilderness together; he had as much knowledge of urban legends as she did, and he too didn't doubt that they were real on some level. He could have called the US authorities, but there would be too much red tape to cut through; too many rules. That would take much too long. The hostages would end up dead before help arrived. Instead, he sent out a distress call to the only people he knew would respond right away: