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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
14 Days to Wait
“So you’re not coming are you Chase?” Xena asked the old General. “I would love to come and get my hands dirty again. But alas someone has to stay here and hold the fort.” She really would have loved to come along but everyone has a place to be and a job to do. “The sisters are quite capable of wreaking havoc without me looking over their shoulders.” Chase was clearly proud of the Blazer sisters. “Then I guess we should say goodbye. You’re a chip off the ole block Chase, it’s been a pleasure.” Xena shook her hand. They were standing in General Rayne’s office. The General wasn’t even going to accompany them to the shuttle platform. “You’re not planning on returning? Isn’t that kind of a defeatist attitude?” General Rayne thought that Xena might have already given up. “No, even when we win we don’t stick around for a long time. We get called away to… other things.” Xena didn’t feel right telling everyone what happened when they weren’t alive. “Oh, I see. Well then I guess this is goodbye then. Belle will be sorry that she missed you. She had made you a new
sword. She fashioned it and forged it herself. She will be so disappointed.” Chase and Belle had a very close friendship; it was a shame that so very few of Gabrielle’s descendants were alive for there was no-one left to befriend all of Xena’s descendants. The closeness of the lines had continued after they had been reunited with Cara and Margo. They weren’t always lovers like Amy and Hope to be sure, but they remained close like sisters regardless.
“Can she meet us at the platform? I would love to see her again even if it is to say goodbye. But she should just put any gifts that she might have for us in the Society vault with our weapons. Something tells me that we will always have those.” Xena didn’t know where that had come from but she felt sure of it.
Gabrielle had finished with whatever had been occupying her and had come up from behind Xena. “I agree. The things in that case will follow us… I don’t know how I know that but I do. That’s why I put the final recording of Cara and Margo in that case on a memory stick and erased it in all of the computer systems. It was really personal and should never be viewed again. I’ve already ordered Clair and Sonya to never speak of it again, now I’ve put it away so that no-one can ever see it again.” She came up beside Xena and took her hand.
“You could have simply destroyed it Gabrielle.” Chase told her.
“No, I couldn’t really. They had made it for a reason and I wanted to keep it. I downloaded all of the other ones as well as their teaching modules and put them all onto a single storage device and put that into the case. I used a bit of leather and wrapped it up against the hilt of my Katana. It’s easily disguised there and as I understand it nobody is going to be able to remove it but me or Xena.” She shrugged and leaned her head on Xena’s shoulder. For some reason she was tired now. The day with the children should not have exhausted her so but it had. Maybe it had been the trip to the Doctor that had drained her energy. Maybe she should think about actually sleeping when she crawled into bed tonight. Now that was a novel idea.
“As you wish Gabrielle. It’s a shame that you two couldn’t stay longer. There are so many things that we would love for you to see. So much has changed thanks to you and thanks to the efforts of Cara and Margo. I will make sure that their contribution is more fully recognized.”  She extended a hand to Gabrielle.
Gabrielle dropped Xena’s hand, pushed Chase’s extended hand away and embraced her. “Thank you for everything. I have a feeling that your grandchildren have a bold plan in their teenage minds concerning their mother’s eggs. Try and keep them realistic and honest but don’t hinder them too much.” She actually giggled and loosened her grip. They both leaned away and held each other’s arms.
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about but I’ll remember what you said when they tell me what ever it is that they are scheming. They always tell me.” She was grinning from ear to ear in anticipation.
“I see why they love you so much. I love you too… granddaughter.” She smiled at the irony of calling this old woman her granddaughter.
“I love them as well. They are our future. I love you grandmother. Take care of yourself.” They kissed each other on the cheek and Xena led Gabrielle from the room. As they stepped through the door Chase called out to them. “Happy hunting!” They smiled and waved and shut the door.
They met up with Belle on the platform where she gave Xena a magnificent sword. It had been forged in an ancient Greek design in the old fashion manner with fire, hammer and anvil. It was similar to her old sword but this one had a more ornate handle and it was a bit lighter. It felt and looked like a more elegant weapon. The steel that Belle had used to forge it had been folded hundreds of times just like a Katana making it strong and sharp. The sheath matched Xena’s black uniform and had some beautiful silver work tooled into it. Xena’s eyes got big when she saw it and even bigger when she drew the sword and swung it around.
“Do you like it Xena?” Belle asked.
“Do I like it? Oh yah, I like it, I like it a lot!” Xena replied excitedly. “But you should put it in the vault.” She tried to hand it back to her. “I don’t want to lose it.” Belle wouldn’t take it.
“Pull up your shirt.” Xena looked at her in surprise. Belle pulled out a strange looking hand held device. It looked like the thing the Doctor had used to give them pain suppressants before their surgery this morning. Belle confirmed Xena’s suspicion. “I want to inject you with a tracker… that way no matter what happens we can recover you… or the body. It’s designed to imbed itself into the nearest bone and it doesn’t hurt much.” She shrugged slightly and held the device up a bit in silent communication.
Xena lifted her shirt and Belle pressed the device against a rib on her right side. She depressed the trigger and there was a strong hiss of air. Xena didn’t flinch. A small trickle of blood trailed down her abdomen. Belle wiped it off with a tissue and put a bandage over the injection site. She wiped the tip of her injector with an alcohol swab and turned to Gabrielle. “You’re next dear.” Gabrielle lifted her shirt and the process was repeated on her rib cage.
“The sword already has a tracker in it in case you lose it. As I understand it you all are going to invade Uranus. Earth Force and the Luna Marines are debating now if they will meet you there. But don’t count on them. I’m pretty sure that we can decimate the city in question without any help from them. So take care of yourselves. Fight with honor.” She touched both of their cheeks and smiled sadly. “I love you both. Happy hunting.” She embraced them individually and kissed their cheeks and sent them on their way.
The shuttle took them into orbit where they got a good look at the fleet that was prepped and ready for departure to Uranus. They were especially impressed in the Defender Class of ships. They were large and they were sleek like huge racing yachts. But on closer inspection they also bristled with weapons on their thick hide. What really interested the lovers most were the names of the ships. They had already heard of the Amazon Queen and the Baldridge but in addition to those there was also the Warrior Princess, the Xena and the Gabrielle. All of the ships were manned solely by Amazon Marines a full crew was eight hundred and fifty-two. Each ship carried a common compliment of fifteen Squadrons of Fighters but had room for another ten. They were still building Fighters and eventually would fill out the Defenders with a full compliment.
The Battle Cruisers were smaller than the Defenders and they were manned mostly by the regular Marine Corps a full crew was four hundred and ninety-one. The ships themselves were thinner and faster than the Defender Class and hence more maneuverable.Their common compliment was five Squadrons of Fighters and really couldn’t comfortably accommodate any more on a regular basis. In an emergency of course the crew would tell you that they could take in whatever was thrown at them even if they had to stack ‘em, such was their attitude. But in reality they could not actually store or house more than six more Fighters.
The strength of the Battle Cruisers was their firepower. The ships were equipped with the latest in heavy laser guns and Plasma cannons. The Martians had borrowed the technology of the aliens that Alti had brought to their home many years before. Now all of their ships carried both laser and plasma guns. A ship could never have too many guns… that was their opinion anyway.
The Defenders were usually left at home for the defense of Mars, hence their class name. But today they would be venturing in two different directions because if the Martians did not win on both fronts today there may not be a home to defend tomorrow.
As soon as the ships secured their final passengers they informed Mars local that they were initiating departure. Mars local in return placed the planet on high alert. Nearly everything went into preemptive martial law. Shipping was severely regulated both on and off of the planet, citizens were notified of the change of status and the possibility of full martial law and Marines and Police alike donned their Pulse Rifles and heavy armor. The defense grid was raised to maximum strength and the children of the Royal families were transported to the Society Vault for the duration.
Xena and Gabrielle stood on the bridge of the Amazon Queen and watched as the fleet began their fourteen day trek to Uranus. The crew watched them of course when they weren’t watching their instruments. But neither Xena nor Gabrielle really noticed the added attention, they were getting used to it. They were more interested in the ships. The huge windows on the front of the Queen allowed them to have a full view of all that was above them beside them and of course in front of them. Their ship was surrounded by the other three Defender Class ships and off to the other side of them they could see the smaller Cruisers. They imagined that they must be in the center of the fleet. Even Alti would be impressed by this much firepower.
There was nothing for them to do but wait. They had already decided that they should discuss their strategy again when they both weren’t quite so keyed up. The last time that they had tried to come to an agreement on the subject they ended up getting a bit miffed at one another. They had a few days at this point to review everything and to come to a good conclusion on what would be best.
They spent the first few days walking around the ship exploring. Their minds knew what they would see and find but they wanted to verify or see for themselves. The best place outside of the hanger bay that they found was the galley.
“I still think that it’s odd the whole bit about why Amy and Hope were wearing flight suits in the mines… how can that possibly be personal?” Xena was perplexed. It had been bothering her since they had realized how the women had died.
Gabrielle finished chewing the piece of melon that she had popped into her mouth just as Xena had begun to speak. “I’m not so sure that it was personal. I mean, think about it that one piece of information or lack of information caused us to look closer and deeper than we might have.” She popped another piece of fruit into her mouth.
“And had we not been snooping around we may not have seen the duplicity in time. Hmmm, He could have just told us.” They both knew which He she was talking about.
“He can’t make it easy Xena. What would be the fun of that and how much would we learn if He gave us all the answers?” She dipped a piece of melon in some yogurt and took a bite.
Xena had just finished something that had looked and smelled like fried fish but it most certainly was not like any fish she had ever eaten before. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn't familiar. She was looking at her detritus littered plate as if she expected it to explain to her exactly what it was she had just eaten. “What about all the people that die because of Alti because we haven’t figured out how to kill her yet? What about them?”
Gabrielle raised an eyebrow at the question. “I imagine that if they belong to Him and need a second chance to get things right then He gives it to them. If they’re not His then they never would be and if they’re undecided then I’m sure they get a chance to decide. He’s not like Zeus, Xena. He doesn’t just play with us like we’re all disposable. He’s our father and He treats us like children. You and I we have some big lessons that we need to learn so He puts us in situations in which we can learn them.” Having finished off the last of her melon Gabrielle scooped up the last bite of yogurt with a spoon.
“Hmmm, it makes me wonder what it is that we need to learn all this stuff for.” Xena was still hungry so she got up and was going in search of some dessert. “Yah comin’?”Gabrielle also felt a need to fill the last corner of her stomach and followed her soul mate. Maybe they had some cheesecake. Gabrielle could only hope.
The days went by slowly at first and then much quicker as they got closer to Uranus. They slept, ate, exercised and spent time together. But time did what it always does, it passed away until finally they were one day out from Uranus and Xena and Gabrielle had to decide what they were going to do.
They both believed that Alti must live in both the flesh and spirit at the same time. They couldn’t come up with any other explanation as to how she could be surviving death so easily. The God that she was serving easily makes her a new body each time but he must hang onto a piece of her soul while she is in the flesh. If he didn’t then he would run the chance of losing her in the between place. Angels and Devils fought there frequently and although the Angels would never take Alti to heaven they may take her to a place that Lucifer could not reach her. That meant that the only way to defeat her would be to kill her in both places. They had to kill her physically and spiritually. That meant that one of them had to face her in physical battle while the other faced her in the spirit. There was no doubt about who should do what. But that didn’t mean that Xena had to like it.
“No Gabrielle, you don’t have to face her alone. Take a Squad… hell take a Platoon or more. Better yet just blow the bitch up!” Xena was animate.
“Xena, honey you know that if I kill her too soon then her spirit will simply flee back to Lucifer. You must kill her spirit first then killing her body will be a simple matter…and we can’t just blow her up… you know better than that.” Gabrielle was relaxing in the hot tub again. It was nice of them to have one on the Queen just for them. Once again she sent silent thanks to Cara and Margo for their influence and to God for their existence. She and Xena had been pampered since their arrival. It was a huge difference from the last time that they were herein the flesh. It had seemed like only a few days had passed but it had been so many years. Gabrielle loved the new dreamless sleep thing. She hoped that if they did this again that it would be repeated.
Xena had been toweling off. She was already a prune. “Oh, I know… I can wish can’t I?” She threw the towel onto a hook to dry. “Are you coming to bed anytime soon?” She asked as she threw a robe over her chilling body. Gabrielle groaned in disappointment she had been watching her beloved dry off with appreciation. Xena pretended that she had not noticed why Gabrielle was groaning. “Fine if you don’t want to come to bed you don’t have to you know.” She said in mock anger as she walked out of the room.
“Xena… don’t…” She growled like a puppy and pulled herself from the warm water and shut the jets off as she stepped onto the small rug that covered the metal floor. She grabbed a towel and quickly toweled off. She left her robe on the hook and wrapped the towel around her before she left the room.
Xena was standing with her back to the room watching the Gabrielle Defender flying beside them from the window that dominated that side of their cabin. Gabrielle walked up behind her and put her arms around Xena’s waist and laid her head on Xena’s back. “She’s amazing isn’t she?” Xena indicated the ship.
“Mmmm huh, she’s a beauty all right.” Gabrielle mumbled.
“So how come the biggest ship is the Amazon Queen? Why couldn’t it have been the Warrior Princess or the Xena?” Xena was ribbing Gabrielle.
Gabrielle was determined not to be a good little fish and rise to the bait. “Because I’m the Amazon Queen and you’re just one of my subjects. Remember your family has Queens in it because I gave Eve my right of cast.” Gabrielle was enjoying being able to rib Xena in return.
“Mmmm, I’m just your subject huh?” Xena said as she turned in Gabrielle’s arms and Gabrielle readjusted her head to rest on Xena’s chest.
“That’s right, and don’t you forget it.” She said sternly with a mischievous smile.
“I think that I may have forgotten my place my Queen. Perhaps you would like to subjugate me?” She ran her fingers into Gabrielle’s hair and pulled her head back. They were both smiling hugely.
Gabrielle’s neck was arched back a bit but she could and did look Xena in the eyes. “Hmmm, it took you nearly a thousand years to ask me to do that. I think that I’ll be very happy to subjugate you.” Her voice was growing husky.
“Mmmm, can we start now?” Xena released one hand and pulled the towel off of Gabrielle and let it drop to the floor. Her voice had lost its playfulness.
“Absolutely” Gabrielle had untied the loose knot that had been holding Xena’s robe together and was running her hands up and over Xena’s breasts to push the robe off of her shoulders. It also fell unhindered to the floor. “GEV, shut off the lights and lock the door. We don’t want to be disturbed unless it’s a huge emergency.”
Nobody disturbed the couple until late the next morning.