Welcome to the home of - 23: Change
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Chapter 23
The GEV chirped. “I have your calls on hold Colonel. If you and the Sergeant are done… there are other calls waiting. They disengage and smile knowingly. There’re is always something. Cara looked down at her green gooey chest and shook her head. The positive resolution between Gabrielle and Xena had helped her to regain some of her composure. She had to hold it together for a bit longer.  Cara quickly dried her face and eyes. “Send them through.” The screen behind her desk lit up with two faces, Lieutenant Shade and Lieutenant Arndt. “Ladies is everything well?” “Yes all is well…” The Lieutenants’ both speak at once. Shortly after speaking a little girl pops upon the screen in front of Lieutenant Shade and Lieutenant Arndt is pushed aside by a beautiful sandy blond, green eyed woman. Cara’s heart skipped a beat and she instantly felt better.  “Cara honey, you’ve been crying. Are you alright? Should I come home now? Do you need me?” She finally stopped when Cara smiled and held up her hand.  “Yes I’ve been crying and I’m alright, now that I’ve seen your beautiful face. No I don’t want you to come home right now even though I need you desperately. I need to know that you’re safe even more. Now… you and your father are well? My Marines have been taking good care of you?” Anise was smiling and nodding.  
“We’re fine. You’re going to have to explain this new thing called Amazon Marine when I get back.” She said hoping that Cara would tell her it was some kind of joke. But Cara didn’t tell her any such thing.
Instead of telling her it was a joke Cara let a tear fall. “Anise honey, I will beg your forgiveness when we are together again. But right now please just remember that I love you.” 
“Cara, what’s all this?” Her eyes took in Margo who was trying to stay out of view of the screen but it was just not designed that way and she was looking at her children. Suddenly Anise seemed to put some dots together and she became instantly suspicious. “What have you two been doing and why are you out of uniform and covered with… whatever that is.” The inference is clear. 
“No! Honey it’s not like that!” She wiped some of the goo from her chest and held it out to the screen. “This is the blood of our enemy. I haven’t had the time to wash up. And my uniform was… well it was literally burned from my back, I just tore off the scraps.” Her wife’s face had gone from annoyance to concern in a heartbeat.
“What… are you alright?” She looked like she wanted to climb through the screen and perhaps she did.
“I told you love, I’m fine. But right now I need to do something really important. I just needed to know that you were safe. When you get home I promise I will tell you everything. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you before you left. But it is what it is and right now I just need you to trust me and remember that I love you… with all of my heart.”
Anise watched Cara for a long moment. Clearly she was seeing something different. “Baby I don’t know what’s got you acting so strangely but I do trust you so… call me if you need to talk or if you just want to watch a movie or something like we did when we were dating… remember?” She smiled warmly and lovingly at her wife.
 The smile melted the Warrior in Cara. “Anise, promise me something… promise me that you’ll never leave me for one of your old girlfriends.”
“Honey, I don’t even think about any of my old girlfriends anymore, why would I even consider leaving you for one of them?” For Anise this was probably the strangest thing her lover could have asked her.
“I don’t know babe, please just promise.” Cara almost sounded desperate and in a way she was.
“Alright I promise, in fact I’ll promise to never leave you unless you force me to go. I love you Cara, I hope that you know that.” She was very concerned about her wife at this point.
“I do Anise, I know… I love you too.” She finally had regained her composure and told Margo to talk to her children.
Margo tried to avoid the scathing look that Anise leveled on her before she addressed her children. Ren was having the time of her life. She was spending all sorts of fun time with her new Amazon Aunties. But Jacob was as mad as a cornered and injured Wolverine. They have had to confine him to a room that they have stripped of all furniture and he was destroying the place.
Margo was saddened by his vehemence and anger. She had waited too long perhaps to take him in hand. He was already a young man of eleven. She told the Lieutenant that she would send someone with some drugs to calm him so that he does not hurt himself. She blows kisses to Ren and severs the link.
Anise silently watched while Margo dealt with her children. “Margo”
Margo was surprised that Anise would speak to her. “Yes”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with my wife. And it’s obvious that you are somehow very much involved in the whole thing. And there are the Amazons as well which means her mother is lurking somewhere and so is the Society. Whatever it is Margo, help Dan to keep her safe.”
“The dangerous stuff is done Anise. She’s not in a lot of real danger right now.” Margo doesn’t know what to say to the woman.
“I know my wife Margo. And believe it or not I really do listen to her. So if something happens, you need to call me even if she doesn’t want you too.”
Margo realized that Anise was talking about Cara’s emotional health not her physical health. “Will do Anise.” What else could she say? Anise severed the link.
The screen was blank for maybe ten or twelve seconds before a grid started to fill up with the faces of Cara’s Commanders. Dan came back into the room still carrying a now half full bag of popcorn and an empty Pepsi bottle that he put into the recycler when he put the popcorn down and grabbed a bottle of water.
Cara had gone to the bathroom and had ran through the shower and put on a clean uniform. She came back into the room with a towel draped around her neck and hastily combed wet hair. She dried her ears and grabbed a new Pepsi while she waited for the remainder of her Commanders to check in. The grid was quite full. The faces were small for the number.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have come to a crossroads in the development of our fair planet. We have just fought and won the right to claim our independence as an individual union in the Galaxy. Now we can claim that right or we can rally behind our present Government and see what scraps they secure for us from others.” She dropped the towel on the back of a bar chair. “Personally I’m tired of eating scraps from the tables of Earthlings and their pet dogs the Lunites. If you would follow me I would take the reins that dangle before me and I would make this planet into a power to be reckoned with in this Galaxy. I would make it free of any yokes and make it truly independent. We would have our own industry that we would regulate. We would no longer share our technology or our innovation without being paid to do so.  I am tired of being the bastard son. If you are as well then follow me and we will make our own destiny!”
The screen erupted in cheers. Dan even let out a loud yell. Cara smiled.
When it died down she spoke again. “Glad to have you all with me. Alright, you all have noticed some strange things going on just in the past day or two… besides aliens landing on our doorstep. One of those things was a huge influx of female warriors into our ranks. They are Amazons… uhhh, let me explain that later when we have time. Right now I need that new group of Amazons to gather under their highest ranking officer and all of the other Amazons that were already part of the military to just stay in the units that they were in. Who’s the highest ranking Amazon?” A woman on the far left near the bottom said something and waved.
Cara looked closely; it was Jennifer Lamb, Captain Lamb. “Why does this not surprise me?” Captain Lamb only smiled. “Captain I need you to take all of the new Amazon Marines and take over the patrol of the streets. I want you to work with the Civilian Police. Between you both I expect the civilian citizens of Mars to be cared for, fed and protected. Is that in any way unclear?” The Captain told her that it was crystal clear. From there Cara assigned duties to all of her Commanders. It took several minutes for her to secure the planet. Finally she was left with the twenty five people of varying ranks that were presently in positions all over the city awaiting her command to detain the Council Members and the Governor. “When this goes down I want them all detained… not injured. I want them and their families.”
“Pardon me Colonel, but what do you plan on doing with them once you have taken over?” Dan asked the question that everyone wanted answered.
“They will be given two choices. They can retire to wherever they wish with our blessings or they can be retired to the dungeons that I’m going to have built below this facility. If that’s not enough… I have other ideas.” She really had thought it through.
The Commanders nodded. Cara relegated the screen to partial privacy mode and kept the Marines on line while she had the GEV either accept or make the calls to the Civilian Government. While she waited she sent Xena to the shower with a change of uniform and donned anew suit of armor.    
Xena was able to make it back out of the bathroom before all twenty-five pictures were filled in. Her husband was one of the last but he still got to see Margo make her entrance with a towel that she was using to squeeze the water from her hair that she had draped over one shoulder. She looked amazing with her wet hair pulled back and a fresh formfitting black shirt hugging her curves. Even Cara had to join Dan and Gabrielle in appreciating the view. Unfortunately her husband only saw red.
“Margo! What the hell is this then?” He yelled at his wife and she involuntarily jumped. But her jump was mostly due to the yell, it was only partially a trained response. Inwardly she flinched when he yelled like that because it usually ended with her getting punched or something worse.
Xena helped calm Margo’s fears but she refused to speak for her. “Andrew, so glad you could join us.” Margo said with calm that she only partially felt.
“Don’t take that tone with me you little slut… what have you and that dike friend of yours been doing? And where is my son?” He added the last as an afterthought.
She stared at him and tossed the towel onto the back of the nearest couch. He could no longer hurt her. She knew that now. “My son and my daughter are fine. As for what my Commanding Officer and I have been doing… well we have, with the help of the rest of the Marine Corps managed to save your worthless ass.” She stepped away from the screen and stepped behind Cara’s left shoulder. Dan was on the right, still in his flight suit.
Andrew Blake exploded and then yelled and then just blubbered for at least a minute or more. He was allowed to rant and prove to everyone just how big of an idiot he was. Cara, Dan and Margo stood with their arms crossing their chests as statues of patience while he went on. Finally the Governor told him to shut up… several times before he actually did shut up. That’s when all attention was given to Cara.
“Ladies and Gentlemen…” She began for the second time today. “… I am hereby dissolving the Civilian Government. The city is under martial law and will remain in the hands of the Military henceforth.” She was scarcely able to finish the sentence before what she was saying broke through into their minds and the screen erupted with a different type of yelling.
They all screamed and yelled and demanded answers and explanations and made threats of horrible violence and various forms of destruction. Again the three Martian Marines stood in stoic silence and allowed the former policy makers time to grieve their loss.
Slowly they quieted down. “I demand an explanation!” The former Governor snarled.
“Mr. Sanchez, in case you didn’t notice… we had a civilian shuttle that was attacked by Earth Force today. There was no provocation and many Marines died. We retaliated by helping the shuttle to leave Earth. We killed no-one while doing it. But Earth still sent Fighters after us and more of my Marines were killed. Then Luna sent out Fighters with the express orders to shoot down a defenseless civilian shuttle. Again many Marines died defending the shuttle. While this was happening you talked… that’s all you did. My Marines… Martians were dying at the hands of Earthlings and Lunites and all you did was talk and simper!” She paused to give him time to digest her meaning.
“They said that our Fighters invaded their airspace.” He said weakly.
“And if they had not been, that shuttle and everyone on board would be dead!” She was done listening to excuses. “When are you going to realize that Earth is not our friend? They use us! That’s all they have ever done.” She had put her hands on her hips. “We are no longer going to be used. We fought off an alien invasion today. Earth and Luna had fighters in the area. They had chased our Fighters home. But when they saw what we were up against do you know what they did? They sat and watched.They didn’t help they didn’t even run away. They watched us die. They WATCHEDUS DIE!” Cara finally boiled over.
It took a moment for her to resume and when she did her voice was just above a whisper. “I lost half of my squadrons on that thing. A hundred men and women died while Earth and Luna watched in silence.” She had lowered her head while she had spoken but now she brought it back up to look at the faces on her screen. “They died while you talked and while you cowered in your homes and did nothing.” Her lip curled in anger. “No more… we won’t take orders from you… no more.” She walked to her desk and pushed a button. The remainder of the screen filled with the twenty-five Commanders that were waiting for her order. She nodded her head sharply to them and as one they moved. Those twenty-five screens went blank and her screen adjusted.
There were some scuffling sounds and some screams and a few children calling for their parents in fear. Then slowly silence returned and the faces of the defunct Civilian Government returned to the screens. They once again began to demand answers. This time she obliged them.
“Do you know how many casual ties I took? Thirty percent… of a hundred thousand… thirty thousand men and women died today. That’s not taking into account how many will die from injuries sustained nor is it counting the Amazons. The number could swell to as many as forty-five thousand… nearly half.” Her voice was low and full of pain.
“I don’t see how that’s our fault. You should have trained them better or gotten men to do the job instead of women!” Andrew yelled.
Cara willed herself not to lose her temper again. “They’re dead because you… all of you would rather lick the enemy’s balls than build weapons or protective energy grids to defend us. They died because almost every measure that I have taken before you has been dismissed and tossed out as too aggressive or put on the back burner to be looked at later. Well guess what boys and girls… it’s later.” They started to yell out their defense once again. But her patience was gone.
“The decision is made. Now you all have a choice to make.” The force in her voice silenced them. “You have one hour to decide. Here are your choices: The first is; that you can retire now and we will help you get to wherever you wish to go. If you choose to go off world then you will never return. If you stay then you will live a quiet life with your family. Your second choice is; that you decide to be a pain in my ass and not retire. At which time I will force you into retirement and you will come live in the city jail until my new prison can be made to accommodate you. The third choice is; you may choose to serve the citizens of this planet in an attempt to make amends for the harm that you have caused. Now take your time…talk to your family. You have an hour. If you have not reached a decision by then one will be made for you.” She severed the link and grabbed her Pepsi but instead of drinking she put the cool bottle to her forehead and sighed.