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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Chapter 16
Cara Prepares Mars
Cara / Gabrielle had finally stopped pacing. They were now sitting at their desk drinking a soda and trying to eat something. Somehow the soda and the cottage cheese didn’t go well together. They gave up and threw the cottage cheese back into the refrigerator and sat back with their Pepsi… diet of course. You gotta cut a few calories somewhere. That was Cara’s philosophy concerning her one big vice.  Cara had pulled up the proximity tracker on one of her desk screens. There were a few ships flying around in Martian space but the ones that she was looking for were not there. The shuttle should be on its way back by now. Xena was told to not take over two hours on the surface. God she hoped that the woman listened just this one time. She still had no idea what Dan was doing except that he had entered Earth’s airspace a short time ago. She only knew that because her Governor had called her again and was asking even more questions. She lied and told him that they were preparing their heat shields to go closer to the sun.  “Alright enough of this sitting around, I need to do something.” Cara abruptly stood. She strode to the door and threw one of them open. Her two personal secretaries were sitting at their assigned desks pecking away at their computer terminals. “Denton, get my mother on the line.” She closed the door and walked up to the bar.
The comm. button flicked red on her desk console and she told the GEV to answer it. The big screen behind her desk lit up with her mother’s face in the center. Cara quickly switched to Gabrielle mode. “Bridget, I need you to find thirty Amazons, two squads of fifteen for a very special and important detail. If they’re not in the Marines then make certain that they take the oath immediately. Have them ready in twenty minutes or less.” She sounded very much like Gabrielle ordering her mother.
“Excuse me my Queen…” Bridget injected before the communication was cut.
“Yes Bridget.” Cara was liking this imitate Gabrielle mode.
“I have attempted to anticipate your needs. I have the squads that you need ready for you now. I have also taken the liberty of having every warrior in the tribe enlist in the Marines. All are at your command and Cara’s.” If Bridget could ever been said to sound demure now was the time.
 Cara was in shock. She could have never seen this coming. “Thank you Bridget. That was very considerate of you. Please send them here immediately. I will meet them on the parade grounds just west of the building.” Gabrielle answered and then cut the link.
‘It’s not so easy being me is it Cara?’ Gabrielle could feel Cara’s embarrassment. ‘You were a little gruffer with her than I would have been. You must remember that there is a time for giving orders and there is a time for asking politely. Right now we have a little time so we can ask politely. Later we will have no time and then we must give orders. Strangely enough if you ask now and order later… people will be happy to obey your commands. But if you are always ordering then people will obey only because they fear you or feel that they must.’ They started to head towards the lift. It would take the Amazons about seven minutes to arrive from their stronghold and it would take Cara / Gabrielle about that much time to reach the parade grounds.
‘You know what Gabrielle?’
‘What Cara?’
 ‘You’re really not what I expected.’
 ‘I’m kind of afraid to ask but…what did you expect?’
‘I expected a warrior, a fighter, a woman that was rough and of few words. You are none of those things. You are kind and considerate and patient.’ She sounded really confused and a little disappointed.
‘You sound like someone else I once knew… And you have never seen me on the battlefield.’ Gabrielle sounded hurt.
 ‘I didn’t mean to insult you or hurt you or anything.’
 Gabrielle actually laughed out loud. ‘You didn’t hurt me Cara, it’s just that once upon a time I was exactly what you say that you think I am… and once upon a time I was what you expected. Now I am both.’
 ‘I’m not sure that I understand.’
 ‘Once I thought that I wanted to be just like Xena… and for a time I thought that I was. But then I realized that I could imitate Xena all that I wanted too… but I would still be me. Xena is a warrior. All of her life she has fought for one thing or another. Me, I became a warrior under her tutelage, but I didn’t have her life. I had mine. And my life shaped me into a different person. Now I can accept that I will never be like Xena and that’s good because there’s only one of her. That’s all the Universe will ever need… one Xena the Warrior Princess.’ Her voice had such a deep feeling of love and respect in it that it reverberated through Cara’s mind.  
After several moments Cara responded. ‘I’m thinking that the Universe is pretty happy with having only one Gabrielle Amazon Queen as well. God did choose you both to be His champions.’
Gabrielle remained silent for along time. When she spoke again she did not refer to the previous subject. ‘ I know what you want; did you want me to address them?’ 
Cara accepted the change in subject and did not hesitate to answer. ‘No, I need to learn to lead these Amazons.’
She entered the parade grounds. Several groups were drilling and training. Their respective commanders noted her presence and nodded in her direction but did not stop their troops from what they were doing. One group of women was standing off to the right of the archway that she had just entered through. They were milling about and not really doing anything but talking.
Two of the women in the group saw her looking at them and they quickly ordered their people to stand at attention. Part of the group was sharp and squared away while several were clearly not. Cara stepped towards them. She stopped in front of one of the commanders; she was Lieutenant Shade according to her nice crisp new uniform. The other commander was Lieutenant Arndt. She stepped back and addressed them all.
“At Ease” The troops stepped almost as one into the standard at Ease stance. ‘Well someone had taught the newbie’s something.’
 ‘As long as they take orders, does it matter if they look sharp when you bark?’ Gabrielle asked without anger or malice. It sounded like an innocent question.
 ‘No, not today it really doesn’t.’ Cara admitted. ‘I need to learn when to be harsh and when to be kind. This is one of those be kind situations… right?’
‘Yes, but you already knew that.’
“I have a very sensitive mission for you. They are the same mission but in two different places.” The entire group was listening very carefully. “I have to assume that our enemies know about our families. You all know that I’m married.” The all nodded. “My wife is at her father’s house outside of the city. I want your team, Lieutenant Arndt to go to this location…” She handed the Lieutenant a scrap of paper, a very rare item indeed and also easily destroyed. “… and protect my wife and her father.” Cara thought for a moment. “Please for the sake of us all give her all the customs and courtesies that you would afford to me. That is one little lady that you do not want to piss off.” She said the last jovially and the group chuckled in response. “I will contact her and she will be expecting you. She will do whatever you need her to do to save them from harm so don’t be afraid of her. Remember that she lives with me so she by necessity has a tough hide.” Again she got a few giggles from the group.
She turned to Lieutenant Shade and handed her a scrap of paper. “On that scrap are three things. One of which is the location of my beach house. I want you to collect Margo’s children from school and take them to the beach house. Ren will come with you without incident but you may have to drug Jacob. He’s a real shit, but we must protect him. I don’t care how you manage it. If you have to tie him up and gag him that would be fine just so long as when we remove the gag he’s still breathing.”
 Cara stepped back and looked at the women in front of her. She met each one of them with her eyes. “Look I’m not saying that our families are more important than yours and I really hope that you have someone taking care of your loved ones. Because I have no-one else but you to care for mine.” Cara looked at the ground. Her hands were actually shaking. The knot in her stomach is growing. “I know that I’m an ass…but I love my wife and I know that Margo loves her children… and… we have no-one else to ask or to trust our loved ones lives to.” She raised her head and glanced around again at the women that her mother has sent to her. “So… I’m not ordering you to do this. I’m asking you to please protect our families as if they were your own.”
 The faces before her were somber. The Lieutenants stepped forward and she looked up at them. “We will care for your families, with care, love and pride.” Lieutenant Arndt said. The women behind the Lieutenants all snapped to attention and gave her an Amazon salute and she couldn’t stop the tear that rolled down her cheek. She doesn’t even try, but she does return their salute.
After she has sent them on their way she slowly headed back to her office. There was nothing left now to do but wait. The city was on high alert and she has all of her Marines deployed throughout. All of her ships were in the air or with Dan. Their families were safe. All that was left was a call to her wife and then the waiting game could begin.
 ‘You know that you just made history and someday it will probably be a myth that is passed down from mother to daughter.’ Gabrielle’s voice was light and melodious like a bird.
‘What are you talking about? ’Cara was distraught. She was not accustomed to having to worry about her wife n this manner. The battles are never fought on home soil wasn’t there a rule against that sort of thing?
 ‘Your well timed tear and the fact that you actually let it fall.’ She was practically giddy.
 ‘What… are you joking. It was a tear… its lipped out!’ And it had embarrassed the hell out of her.
‘Yah, well imagine how it looked to your troops. It showed them that you do have a heart and that my dear little Warlord will go a long way with your army and how they see you and respect your decisions. Trust me it was a good thing.’ Gabrielle was all smiles.
 Cara just grunted at her. “I need a Pepsi.” She said out loud as she exited the lift and a bottle of soda found her hand before she reached her door. Her assistants knew her well.