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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Chapter 1
Awakenings
The obnoxious screeching of the alarm went off and Cara sat bolt upright in bed and immediately grabbed her head between her hands. She shook her head once and grimaced in pain. Then almost as an afterthought she slammed her fist down upon the unsuspecting alarm clock. The force of her strike cracked the clock’s housing and made it jump from the table. When it came down parts flew from it… but it did shut up even if its LED display was blinked sporadically. 

Somewhere in her tortured mind Cara thought, ‘That’s the second one this month.’ But the thought was barely discernable through the excruciating pain that was lancing through her head.  

She threw the covers off of her and slid from the bed and headed for the bathroom. The lights turned on the second that she stepped into the room and a female voice seemed to boom from everywhere. “Good morning Colonel, shall I prepare your morning coffee?” 

“Huh… what… no, GEV can you turn it down an octave or ten?” Cara growled. 
“Yes ma’am.” The GEV unit or the General Electronic Voice unit actually sounded hurt when it responded to its owner. “Is there something wrong? I don’t recall you drinking to excess last night.
Should I alert the EMS?” The voice was just above a whisper. She had done this dance before.
 
Cara seemed to think about it for a second while her eyes were trying in vain to adjust to the light. “No, could you dim the lights a bit?” The lights dimmed to a warm glow. Cara opened her eyes wider and turned to look in the mirror. She stared into her hazel eyes and thought for just a second that she saw someone else there. Then another sharp pain lanced through her mind and pierced her body. She went to one knee before the sink and rested her head on the cool metal surface of the cabinet.
 
“That’s it I’m calling for EMS.” GEV sounded anxious.
 
Somehow the unit’s voice penetrated Cara’s thoughts and she responded vehemently. “NO! GEV leave off! I will tell you when I want them called! Just let me… figure this out for a minute without your interruptions. Please.” The last word was plaintiff and the GEV was not familiar with the emotion when it was directed at her. But she knew the sentiment behind it, so she waited and monitored her owner in silence.
 
Several more sharp pains shot through Cara but they were either lessening in intensity or she was growing numb to them. Slowly she regained her feet and looked once again in the mirror. When she looked into her eyes she was certain that she saw someone else behind them. As the pain lessened she had the GEV bring up the lights and she was certain that someone else was looking through her eyes.
 
“Who are you?” She asked the mirror not exactly sure if she should expect an answer or not. But in her mind she heard something that made her concentrate harder. “One more time, I can’t quite hear you. Speak up if you wish to be known.” She said gruffly.
 
“My name is Gabrielle.” The voice said clearly.
 
Cara jerked her head away from the mirror. Her mind must have completely gone off of its hinges. Somehow the mirror had spoken to her. She had seen her image move of its own accord and speak to her.
 
“It’s an illusion that your mind is generating to help it cope with the situation.” Gabrielle said. “I’m in your head but your mind is still trying to reconcile two beings in one mind so it’s projecting me here in the mirror to try and separate us. Does it help?” She sounded concerned.
 
Cara looked at the image in the mirror. It was her but it wasn’t her. It was younger and… somehow different. “Is it projecting what you look like or what?” There was a logical explanation for this; Cara just needed to find it. But for now she would play along.
 
The image looked down and smiled. “Yes this was what I looked like, but you look a lot like me when I grew older. I don’t know why I’m being projected as if I’m still this age. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part. This is what I looked like when Xe…” Gabrielle stopped speaking and pain of a different kind lanced through her eyes.
Meanwhile her words have sparked a memory in Cara and she is trying to dredge up the details. Slowly she raised her head and looked at the lovely blond in the eyes. “You’re Gabrielle the Battling Bard of Poteidia, aren’t you?” It was partially a question and partially an accusation. “You’re a ghost, a legend, a myth, you don’t really exist. You died what… 2000 years ago?”
 
Gabrielle looked down in a thoughtful and somewhat defeated way. “Has it been that long?” She asked without wanting an answer. Cara sensed this and did not offer one. But a moment later Gabrielle asked with determination. “Where am I and where’s Xena?”
 
“You are in my home, on Mars and I have no idea where Xena is… should I?” Cara was once again trying to remember something that she never thought in her life she would need to remember.
 
“Mars… I’m on Mars.” Gabrielle was stunned into silence.
 
“Ya, and why didn’t you know that already? I mean you’re in my head, doesn’t that give you access to my memories and thoughts?” It was an uncomfortable thought for Cara but she had to know.
 
“That would be rude. This is your body and your life. I’m just here to accomplish a task and once it’s done I’ll be gone and you will be left to deal with whatever aftershock I happen to leave behind. I would rather not hijack your mind and leave you with more repercussions than you can sort out. This isn’t my first Rodeo.” Gabrielle had centered herself and was finally in full form. She realized that she has a job to do and the sooner that she accomplishes the job the sooner her host can have her life back.
 
Cara looked at her ghost with a bit more respect. “Thank you.” Gabrielle nodded at her. “So, my name is Cara Rayne and I’m not sure what you are here for but if the records are correct then at some point you are going to need to access my memories and maybe even my expertise to accomplish your task. So I’m going to give you permission right now to do that when the time is right.” She had remembered what she had been taught about her ancestor and even though it went against everything she had ever believed she knew that this decision was the right one.
 
Gabrielle could feel the tension in her host and responded accordingly. “Cara Rayne, I know what this decision means to you and I promise you that I won’t take advantage or place you in an impossible situation if I can help it.”
 
“I’ve read the records Gabrielle and just for posterities sake I would like to make only one request of you… well two.” Cara paused and Gabrielle gave her a look that said I’m listening so Cara continued. “First off, call me Cara. I am your great, great, great… lots of greats removed granddaughter, and second, you should know that I can survive embarrassment, awkward situations, angry wives and even a good deal of pain but I cannot survive death. I’m not you. I only have this one life and one body as far as I know so if you could please leave me those when you go… I would appreciate it.”
 
Gabrielle smiled warmly. She decided that she liked her granddaughter very much. “I will do everything that I can to leave you with those intact.” The two women smiled impishly at one another for a moment. “Okay, if you have any more requests in the future don’t hesitate to ask.” Cara nodded curtly. “Now, down to business… Obviously what Xena and I did the last time we were reincarnated seems to have lasted somewhat. You at least know who I am and are not totally freaked by my being here. We can only hope that your counterpart, Xena’s granddaughter is as accepting…” Gabrielle’s recitation was interrupted by a loud groan from Cara.

“Oh God please don’t do this to me!” Cara said with true passion and pain while she covered her face with both hands.
 
“What, what have I done?” Gabrielle was very confused. What could she have done that changed Cara’s response to her so rapidly?
 
“It’s not you Gabs its Xena’s granddaughter!” She moaned. “Oh God, not her… Please anyone but her.” Cara whined.
 
Gabrielle was caught between the excitement that Cara knew who Xena would pop into and concern for whatever could possibly invoke this type of reaction from her. “What is wrong with her?” She asked hoping that the answer was something that she could work with.
 
Cara lowered her hands and looked at Gabrielle again. She let out a long breath; she was resigned to her fate. “The only person that fits the bill, if I remember the parameters that you and Xena detailed for the Society correctly is a woman by the name of Margery Blake. Now don’t get me wrong Gabs, she’s a beautiful woman.” She stopped to grimace. She was obviously trying to find some less insulting words to describe the woman.
 
Gabrielle tried to wait patiently but she was becoming a bit distraught at the strong negative reaction that this Margery elicited from Cara. “Just spit it out Cara. It can’t be that bad can it?” The dread that Gabrielle felt in Cara’s body told the tale.
 
Cara let out another long breath and looked into the hazel eyes in the mirror with an apologetic look. “She’s an idiot. She’s not stupid but she’s… an idiot.” Cara just couldn't find the words to describe the woman. “I don’t know what to tell you Gabs. She’s clumsy, she’s forgetful, she’s frivolous, she’s… she’s… a femme!”
 
Gabrielle couldn't hold back the giggle and of course Cara followed suit. “Are you kidding me? Xena is going to pop into a girly girl?” Gabrielle said with mirth. Gabrielle simply shook her head and laughed again. “Oh, this is going to be good.” They said in concert.
 
******
 
On the other side of town in an apartment high in the atmosphere another awakening takes place. But unlike Cara the recipient of her new guest screamed in pain and writhed on the floor for quite a long time before the pain subsided enough for her to regain her feet.
 
When she finally looked into the mirror she saw a younger, stronger woman staring back at her with fire in her steel blue eyes. For a long moment the two simply stared at one another. Slowly a smile spread across the woman’s face. It was not reflected in the mirror.
 
“I can’t believe it! I’ve been chosen? Oh, I’ve waited for something like this my whole life… and… and now you’re here.” She said with reverence.
 
The woman in the mirror put her hands on her hips and stared at the blubbering woman across from her. She took a quick look into the memories of the woman and recoiled in revulsion. “Oh you have got to be kidding me! What did I do to piss you off this time?” She said while looking up. “My dreams couldn’t have been that bad… could they?” She dropped her head and looked back at the woman across from her. The woman was dancing, badly in front of the mirror. “Knock it off Margo.” The image in the mirror growled.
 
At the sound of the voice Margery stopped dancing and faced the mirror again. “I’m just so happy! I can’t believe after all these generations that you’re here… in me!” She began to dance again but suddenly she stopped, it’s as if she was being forced to stand still.
 
“I said knock it off.” The face in the mirror had her teeth clenched and a single eyebrow was raised.
 
Margery seemed to be struggling against unseen restraints. After a few moments she stopped struggling and looked back at the woman in the mirror. Time stretched as she looked at the woman and then fear began to grow in her eyes. “Are you evil Xena?” She said with true trepidation.
 
The image in the mirror sighed heavily and got a look of longsuffering on her face. “No, I’m not evil Xena, I’m impatient Xena. I didn’t come here to dance in front of the bathroom mirror.” Her voice started out sounding patient and ended with another growl.
 
Margery jerked her head back and started nodding up and down like a bobble head. “You’re right; you’re right… Well of course you’re right you’re Xena.” Suddenly she stopped nodding and looked into the mirror again. “Take me Xena!” She throws her arms wide. “Take me to do your will!” She closed her eyes tightly shut and pulled her head back as if she was waiting for some great impact.
 
Xena watched this display with curious interest. “She’s an idiot.”