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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
    
Learning the Scoop
 
Xena was lounging in a big desk chair while Gabrielle was sitting on the edge of the console in front of her. Gabrielle’s legs were crossed and she was thinking. Xena had her feet against the console on either side of Gabrielle and she was watching the proverbial wheels turn in her beloved’s eyes. “So is this all just about money? I mean, I know the mine is profitable but is it really all just about money?” She always had trouble with the motives of evil people. She just couldn’t think that way. “I don’t know Gabrielle. I think that there’s more to it than that. I think that we landed here in this specific place because we can do something about it even if we don’t actually fight the fight.” “So you think that we were put here in these bodies at this time and place because we can or should help these people out and then what… move on to Alti?” Gabrielle agreed with Xena she just wanted to make sure that they were on the same page. Xena knew what Gabrielle was doing. She was just confirming her own belief. “Well yah, don’t you?” “Of course I do.” She was smiling.
 
Xena loved it when Gabrielle smiled like that. Even in a different face she could see the heart capturing smile of the Bard of Poteidia that she had met so very long ago. It warmed her soul like no other thing in the universe could do. She smiled back and wanted very much to hold her beloved and kiss her deeply but alas they were not alone and Gabrielle would have none of it. So she didn’t act on her impulse. “Of course you do.”
 
Gabrielle didn’t miss seeing the hunger that ran fleetingly across her lover’s eyes and for a moments he also wished that they were alone but it just wasn’t to be right now. She slid down from the console and she placed both hands on Xena’s legs and rubbed them affectionately.
 
“Excuse me Xena that call you made is coming through now.” Randal said from behind Xena.  
 
Xena looked at Gabrielle and saw in her face the same regret that she felt in her own heart. Reluctantly she lowered her feet to the ground and stood up. “Thanks Randal.” She took one of Gabrielle’s hands and gently kissed her knuckles and mouthed we’ll find time later to her beloved.
 
Gabrielle mouthed; yes we will back to her. They both turned and positioned themselves so that they could both see and be seen by the huge monitor on the wall. The screen flickered for a moment and when it cleared the face of a beautiful dark haired woman took the screen. The woman’s face favored Xena’s bloodline but she also had a strong resemblance to Athena. The resemblance was around the eyes and perhaps the eyes themselves. Both Gabrielle and Xena recognized her not only as Mrs. Lorrain Blazer the CEO of Blake and Rayne but also as the mother of Major Blazer.
 
Mrs. Blazer saw their images on her own screen and as a reflex she gasped and held her hand to her mouth. “Oh God… Amy…” She breathed heavily and lowered her hand. It took only a second or two for her to regain some of her composure. “Xena… welcome.” Her voice was controlled. “She’s not in there with you is she?”
 
“No, I’m sorry Mrs. Blazer… she’s gone.” Xena said with a great deal of compassion.
 
Mrs. Blazer shut her eyes for a moment. When she opened them again she was in complete control. “Amy would be proud to know that you are using her body, even if she is not here to share it with you.” Her pride as a mother was beaming from her face.
 
“She took great care of her self and from everything that I can find out about her she was clearly a formidable woman. I would have been glad to have known her.” She glanced over at Gabrielle who was watching in silence.
 
Mrs. Blazer saw the glance and turned her attention to Gabrielle. “Welcome to you as well Gabrielle. I have to assume that you are alone in your body as well, and I hope that you find it as satisfactory as Xena finds hers.”
 
“I do thank you.” There was one little thing that was bothering her. “Could you please tell me her name?” Gabrielle was curious. Mrs. Blazer looked at her in confusion. “I’m sorry but there are a lot of holes in our memories. In fact it seems that anything that is even remotely personal in nature simply is not in here.” Gabrielle explained.
 
“Oh, I see… that is strange… but then again what is actually normal?” She paused, not for an answer to her question but to gather her resolve. “Her name was Hope.”
 
At the sound of the name Gabrielle was nearly shocked out of the skin she was wearing. The name was the English word Hope and not the Ancient Greek word Elpizo but it was still the same name.
 
“Why… why would they name her that?” Gabrielle was instantly angry. Her voice was thick and just shy of a growl. Her head had tilted to one side and she had started around the console as if she could actually physically walk up to the woman on the screen.
 
Xena had spoken her name and reached out in a lame attempt to stop her but Xena was fairly certain that Gabrielle had neither heard her name nor seen Xena’s attempt. Mrs. Blazer wasn’t sure what to think. She had expected such a response but had been unprepared for the speed in which it arrived. She was now trying to gather the knowledge to explain the actions of other people. “She is an only child. Her parents had given up trying to conceive. They had tried everything. Gloria finally got pregnant and it looked as if she would actually carry the child to full term. She was ordered to bed, where she stayed for seven months. But then Hope wanted to come early and the Doctor noticed some abnormalities. She was taken cesarean. When she came out her spinal column had not completely formed. Her neck bones were nothing but a mass of unformed gel around the spinal cord. She underwent numerous surgeries that she was not expected to survive. But she did somehow. Hope was the one child that Gloria had conceived and carried nearly to term and she had come out deformed. Hope was Gloria’s only chance.”Mrs. Blazer had stopped. She wasn’t sure what else to say to the ancient hero.
 
She searched her mind to find a reason that Gabrielle would accept. “Gloria told me once just before she passed that she had prayed that you would either understand her reasons or never find out.” Mrs. Blazer added after a long moment of silence.
 
“Did Gloria have any sisters or brothers?” Xena asked while Gabrielle stood speechless.
 
“Yes, she had one of each… why?” Mrs. Blazer was curious now.
 
“Do they have any children?”
 
“Her sister, Janice had a son; he died when he was five. He fell from a fence and broke his neck while playing. Janice died in a conveyance accident three years ago. Gloria’s brother, Albert is sterile; he has no swimmers at all.” Suspicion started to enter her voice.
 
“So that left Hope as the only living descendant of child bearing age… am I right?” Xena had caught everyone’s attention.
 
“Yes that is right. But Hope has two daughters.”
 
That pronouncement surprised Xena and Mrs. Blazer caught Xena’s meaning even as she told her of their existence. She wasted not a second to call the Amazons that had the responsibility of their care. She told them to quadruple the protection around the girls and to wrap them in foam and stuff them in a vault if they felt it was necessary to protect them. The Amazon on the other end of the line simply said that she had the perfect place for them and told her not to worry before she cut the line.
 
“Have the Amazons always looked after Cara’s children?” Gabrielle knew that they hadn’t before Cara but what had happened after she had left she did not know.
 
“No, the Amazons do not always look after Cara’s children. In fact other than the standard protection duty I don’t think that they have much contact with the children other than in training.” Mrs. Blazer told them.
 
“Does your family have the same bad luck that mine seems to have?” Gabrielle was feeling a bit queasy.
 
“No, we have very few premature deaths. And before you ask, I think that Gloria and Hope both realized what was happening. They just couldn’t pin down how to stop it.” The woman was clearly thinking furiously.
 
“Thank you.” Gabrielle had returned to Xena’s side and Xena had placed a protective arm around Gabrielle’s shoulders. “I’m sorry for my outburst… Hope is a good name, especially under the circumstances.” She looked up at her soul mate. “What did Hope name her girls?” She asked with more than a little trepidation in her voice and without looking at the woman to whom she was speaking.
 
“She named her twin girls Solace and Faith.” Mrs. Blazer said softly.
 
The names gave her such a sense of pride and love and understanding that Gabrielle couldn’t hold the emotion. A sob burst forth and she covered her face with one hand and put her head against Xena’s shoulder. Xena kissed her on the top of the head and judiciously said nothing.
 
“Mrs. Blazer, I’m sending you a list of names. These people are the ones that are still loyal here. If by some unforeseen turn of events we do not make it out of here, these people are the ones that you should contact and coordinate with before you try and retake the mine.” She collected her thoughts for a moment more and Gabrielle wiped her face and reigned in her emotions while facing Xena’s armored chest.
 
“I would lay odds that Gloria was being systematically poisoned. So tell the Amazons that the girls are to eat nothing that has not been prepared by one of them or taste tested first.” Xena continued. She looked down at her soul mate and lifted her chin. “And when we get to New Thebes you need to have some eggs frozen.” Gabrielle looked at her sharply but did not argue.
 
“I’ll make arrangements with a Doctor for the process. I will also prepare everything that you need to have to go after Alti. Oh and Xena, please stop calling me Mrs. Blazer, my name is Lori and I would be honored if you would call me that… you as well Gabrielle.”
 
“We would be very proud to do so ma’am.” Gabrielle was back in control and had turned to face the screen again. Her beautiful eyes were rimmed with red but there was determination in them.
 
“Good, I am looking forward to meeting you both and I know that Hope’s grandmother is anxious as well. Her uncle is looking forward to meeting you as well. She was not alone in this world Gabrielle and she was deeply loved.” She had focused on assuaging Gabrielle’s fears and her anger.
 
“Does Hope have a husband that I have to meet?” The thought of a husband for Hope made her feel less anxious somehow.
 
“No, Hope never wanted to be married. She wasn’t gay; she just didn’t want to be married. She has had the same beau since school. He must have asked her a thousand times but she always said no. And in case you are wondering Xena, Amy was married and I have been unable to reach him. I’m hoping that I can talk to him before you arrive, but if I don’t please be gentle with him. He loved my daughter very much. Amy also had three children, one boy and two girls. They’re with their father so I haven’t spoken to them either. They are Mark; he is the oldest Isabelle, the middle child and Dura, the baby.” She couldn’t think of anything else to tell them and they remained silent.
 
“Well, if there is anything else we can do for you before you arrive please do not hesitate to call.” She was looking forward to preparing for their arrival. It seemed funny to her that she had not been excited about meeting them before, but now they seemed real.
 
“Lori, please take care of my girls. I don’t care what the Amazons have to do, keep them safe.” Gabrielle had her Queen face on again and not too many people were brave enough to argue with that.
 
“Don’t worry Gabrielle they’re safe and will remain so. All of Mars will be laid desolate before a hair on either golden head is so much as singed.” Her voice was as commanding and certain as Xena’s would be in the same situation.
 
Xena standing at Gabrielle’s side could not help but notice that Gabrielle had called them my girls, not Hope’s girls.