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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
 
Chapter 24
New Beginnings
 
An hour later the last of her Commanders was informing her of Mr. Blake’s decision to retire only if he could take his son with him. “He can’t have my son!” Margo blurted out from where she was standing by the right hand windows. She spun to face the screen. “Margo, Sergeant relax let me deal with this.” Cara looked at the Lieutenant on the screen. “So you are telling me that if he doesn’t get his son then he is refusing to retire?”  The Lieutenant nodded and said, “Yes Ma’am that is correct.” “Then he leaves me no choice but to choose for him.” She paused dramatically and put her finger on her chin in mock concentration. “I think that it would do him some good to serve. Please inform him of this decision and escort him to the city jail until appropriate accommodations can be made for him. We will settle him into a new job when things are more organized.”  The Lieutenant happily went about his business and the screen was once again black.  Dan laughed at Mr. Blake’s new situation. “So Colonel a lot is left to do but the next thing on the agenda is promotions. We have a lot of holes that need filling and promotions are an easy matter.”
 
She had ordered the immediate manufacturing of Fighters and had shortened the deadline for the battle cruiser and ordered that another one be started the second that this one was out of dock. She ordered the manufacturing of the energy grid that would surround their small planet and help protect it from bombardment from the sky.
 
She had seen to the wounded and collected the dead both civilian and Military and she had taken the bodies of the aliens and fed them to Mount Olympus Mons.  
 
She had contacted Earth and Luna and told them that Mars was now an independent entity and that she was now in charge. They were considered enemies of Mars and would need to enter into peace talks with her and her Command staff if they wanted that status to change. In the mean time they were told to stay away. Any and all Earthlings or Lunites that were presently on Mars would be detained until their dispensation could be sorted out. 
 
She had officially made a new branch of the newly named Martian Marine Corps, the Martian Amazon Marine Corps. They were a distinct and yet inclusive addition to the Marines. She made five separate Divisions with many smaller units beneath them. One of the Divisions was to learn how to fly, while another was to learn computers and Intel and so on. They would work with and beside every other Marine but the Amazons would remain separate in many ways.
 
Tomorrow they would bring the civilians from their shelters and begin to make an honest assessment of the city. From there restoration could begin. But that was for tomorrow.
 
She supposed that the next thing on the list could very well be promotions. “Very well Dan, have someone make up the paperwork. Get the usual recommendations and be sure to include Margo here. I want her to be a Major.”
 
“What are you insane?” Margo was once again pulled from her quiet contemplation of the destruction below.
 
“No, I’m not insane and before you get concerned… you’re still going to be a glorified secretary only now you’re going to be a secretary with rank. I’ve got a feeling that I’m gonna have a ton of crap to sift through on a daily basis and I don’t want to. So you get to.” She smiled mischievously.
 
“What about the two shit sifters that you have?”
 
“Denton and Baily are good but Denton has been asking for a transfer to the air Corps. I figure that I’ll give it to him and put you in his spot. Frankly I want an Amazon near me at all times.”
 
“Won’t Anise mind?” She was remembering the look that she had gotten earlier.
 
“Well, don’t make any passes at her and don’t try to look under her skirt and she’ll probably get used to you.” Cara had regained her sense of humor.
 
Margo smiled and mouthed the word, Major. It sounded good to her and Xena was very happy for her.
 
“I figure that you should move into a house too. Ren needs to be closer to the Amazons and Jacob needs to be put into the Military School. I’m going to make some changes there as well. You can keep him out of school until the changes are in place. It shouldn’t take more than a few days. Ren can go to school there too. When I get done it will be a Military School that will prepare young men and women for a service in either the Marine Corps or the Amazon Marine Corps. They won’t be forced to join but I’m hoping that with the right kind of teaching they will want to join.”
 
Margo smiled and nodded, it was a great idea.
 
“Okay so if you two are done shaping the lives and warping the minds of future generations we still need to discuss a few promotions.” Dan sneered. Inside he was thinking of putting his children in the Military School. His wife had always vetoed him on the topic but if Cara was going to make the changes that they had discussed many times in the past then his wife would be all for it, hell she might even volunteer to help Cara carry it out. He would talk to them both later.
 
“What promotions are you talking about now?” Cara had not bothered to remove her armor. It looked impressive and the vid wouldn’t stop. So she kept it on but that didn’t mean that she couldn't lounge in between calls. So she sat with her feet on her desk. A Diet Pepsi sat on a coaster near her toes and she was perfectly content. Well as content as one can be considering the day that she’d had.
 
Margo stood at the window watching the moons rise and the fires blaze in the city below. She still had her armor on as well.
 
Dan was sitting in his favorite lounge chair. He had changed into a new uniform after having taken a shower. He was not wearing the new armor. He held up an electronic pad. Cara couldn’t tell what it was from where she sat. It could be his shopping list for all she knew. She shrugged at him. “Well read it to me. Obviously you have something up your sleeve.”
 
“By order of the joint Commanders of the Martian Marine Corps the rank of Four Star General and Supreme Commander of all of Mars and its properties, colonies and territories is hereby bestowed upon Cara Lynne Rayne former Colonel of the Martian Planetary Marine Corps, effective immediately signed… by everyone.” Both Cara and Dan had stood while he had read the contents of the pad out loud. The screen behind Cara had lit up and all of the faces of her Command that had been there before were there again as well as several others.
 
She had been shocked into utter silence and stood with her mouth agape.
 
“Darlin’ you looking to catch some flies with that thing? Martian flies are really big you know? If you’re hungry I can get you something… popcorn?” He smiled as Cara’s mouth snapped shut. He walked up to her and handed her the pad then turned her to face her Commanders. He couldn’t pull the embroidered birds from her collar so he installed the four golden stars on either side of her collar on top of the birds. Then he stepped back and saluted as did every person on the screen.
 
Cara saluted smartly in return and then dropped her hand and smiled one of those award winning smiles that her grandmother had made famous in her time. Gabrielle was dancing in her head. She was obviously very proud of her granddaughter.
 
Dan hugged her and Xena hugged her next. It was a very happy moment for them all.
 
Finally she turned back to the screen. “Thank you all, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say right now. I never really thought about this happening.” She fingered a set of stars. “Of course this means that all of you get promotions. There are lots of empty slots now.” She said still smiling broadly. Everyone cheered again at her pronouncement.
 
After everyone had congratulated her the screen went dark again. She sat back down in her chair. “There’s not much left to do today. I’m going home. We can pick this up when the sun returns. Dan, go home to your wife. She would probably like to see your sorry ass… why I’m not sure. The woman needs glasses and a patent on her cast iron stomach.”
 
“That hurts… that really hurts.” He said it as he stood and a huge yawn cracked his jaw. “But it is late. We have about six or seven hours before the sun comes up again and we should be in the office before that happens.”
 
“Yup, we should try and get some rest.” She looked over at Margo and knew that neither of them would likely get any more rest than Dan this evening. The thought actually made her smile and she refused to chastise herself for thinking what she was thinking.
 
They exited the building and Dan headed for home.
 
‘You’re going to be leaving soon aren’t you?’ Cara asked Gabrielle who had been very quiet since her promotion.
 
‘Yes, I suspect that when you awake tomorrow that I will have gone.’ Gabrielle sounded both sad and relieved.
 
‘But Alti’s not dead is she?’
 
‘No, she will come again. We only killed the body once again. The God that she serves seems to have an abundance of those to give to her.’
 
‘So you’ll return… someday. I hope I’m still alive to see you. But I don’t think that I will be.’ Cara was sad now too.
 
‘You need to put some things in place that will help our descendants in the future to accept us easier.’ She and Cara had thought upon many things in the past couple of days; things that would have made this whole thing a lot easier on them both.
 
‘I will, you will never be challenged again Gabrielle. I promise.’ She was quite the decisive woman today.
 
Gabrielle stayed quiet.
 
Margo was asking Xena similar questions.
 
‘Do you know when you’ll comeback?’
 
‘No, we aren’t told ahead of time. We’re really on Alti’s time schedule.’
 
‘That sucks.’
 
‘Yah it does.’
 
‘Xena, thanks for helping me straighten out my spine.’
 
Xena laughed. It was good to hear her laugh. ‘Thanks for letting me torture you. I kind of made you do some things that really went against who you are. I’m sorry.’
 
‘Don’t be, I got to see what I could be. I hope that you don’t think that I’m such an idiot anymore.’
 
‘Oh Margo, I’m sorry I ever thought it at all. You are one of the strongest, most loving women that I have ever met and I couldn’t be more proud of you.’
 
Margo could feel that Xena meant what she said. It made her blush. ‘Thanks, that means a whole lot to me.’ She paused to look out the window for a minute. ‘I’ll never see you again will I?’
 
‘Probably not, I would love to see how your children turn out and how Cara changes the face of Mars. But I’ll have to wait to see it.’ Xena was quiet for a long time. ‘Margo, can I ask you something?’
 
‘Of course.’
 
‘This God that you worship… are you on good terms with Him?’
 
‘I’m not sure what good terms means. He’s not like the Olympian Gods. He doesn’t normally make house calls. But honestly I think that you’re on better terms than me.’
 
‘Well things are kind of spotty between us. I have a bad habit of pissing Him off I think.’ She went quiet again.
 
‘Why did you ask?’
 
‘I was hoping you could ask a favor of Him.’
 
‘What was the favor? It doesn’t hurt to ask, sometimes He grants the wish. He did after all grant mine.’
 
‘What was your wish?’
 
‘Do you really have to ask? It was you. I wanted to host you.’
 
‘That’s a tough one to grant when we’re on Alti’s schedule. Are you disappointed?’
 
‘Not at all. Now what’s your request?’
 
‘Gabrielle and I haven’t been alone… really alone to talk or anything for a really long time. I would ask him for two or three days in our own bodies. Just for us… alone with no responsibilities… without any visitors… just some time for us before we go to sleep again.’ Xena felt tears in her eyes again. ‘Could you ask Him for that?’
 
‘Yes’
 
They all fall silent.
 
The conveyance sped on in the night. Somehow Xena had found Gabrielle’s hand. But the silence remained.  
 
The conveyance pulled into the drive and it parked itself. They entered the house and words were never needed as they found their collective way to the bedroom.