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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
The Matriarch Queen 

Gabrielle sat down in the vehicle and Faith’s face was looking at her from the vid. “Gabrielle, what has happened? Naomi was scared out of her wits and that is saying something.” Faith had not been told anything about the situation.   

Gabrielle decided on an approach that did not include rabid attack dog. “Faith, are you aware that Harmony’s partner was not allowed to help Harmony train us when we first got our memories back? In fact she was for lack of a better word, reassigned, and not allowed to have direct contact with us.” She watched Faith’s face go from concern to confusion.    

“Yes I was aware that her partner had been reassigned. But I’m not sure why this has you concerned. People get reassigned all the time. It’s not like they were that kind of partner to each other.” Faith was trying to understand and still not stick her foot in her mouth.    

“I was not always that kind of partner to Xena either but I never let anyone separate us… except her.” Gabrielle was trying to let Faith see the problem without telling her the problem.

“I was told that it was part of the Guardian code. It had something to do with contamination or purity or something like that.” Once she said it Gabrielle could see by the look on her face that Faith realized that she had made a bad mistake.
Her realization did not however cool Gabrielle’s temper. “Are you kidding me? You allowed partners to be split up and you let one woman be taken from the lives of children that she had known since before they were born for the sake of purity? I want to know the purity of what? What were they trying to keep pure Faith?” Faith was stuttering and had no answer. Gabrielle was fuming but she wasn’t going to yell over a vid phone. “Naomi, how long will it take you to get me to Faith’s office… or wherever she is right now?”
Naomi tried to look beyond Gabrielle towards Faith, but Sherese had something to say about that. “Don’t you dare look to Queen Faith, answer Queen Gabrielle!” The vehemence in her voice made Naomi jump again.
“Twenty minutes ma’am.” She managed to get out of her mouth.
Meanwhile Faith was trying to get Gabrielle’s attention. “Gabrielle I have meetings today can’t this wait for tonight? We can have dinner.” She was trying to pacify Gabrielle as if she were an aging partially senile grandmother.
Gabrielle finally did turn on her rabid dog mode. “Don’t you patronize me Faith Rayne! I remember a time when you and Solace were children and damn near the last of my line. You will clear your calendar and see me in twenty minutes and I do not want to hurt anyone getting to you. Am I in any way unclear?” Gabrielle’s face was red and her eyes had turned a beautifully cold color of steel. It was not a common color one saw in the eyes of the usually placid woman.
Xena had gotten the two Shadows into the vehicle and closed the door for Gabrielle. They were already on their way down the mountain when Gabriele cut the feed to Faith after she had acquiesced.
Gabrielle pushed a few buttons and got Harmony on the line.
“Hi kids, did you find what you were looking for?” Harmony was all smiles and her jubilance helped calm some of Gabrielle’s ire.
“Yes as a matter of fact we did Harmony, thanks.” Gabrielle answered and tried to sound happy. Well she was happy about the land.
“What’s wrong?” Harmony could see in the faces before her that something was really wrong. It didn’t take her much in the way of deduction to take a fairly educated guess on what was eating at Gabrielle. “Don’t tell me… I can guess.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” Gabrielle didn’t want to accuse but she was angry.
“You had bigger things to worry about.” Harmony answered too quickly.

“Bull, we had plenty of time to deal with this problem. But instead it has just gotten worse and we probably helped perpetuate it by staying silent.” Gabrielle was feeling sick.
Harmony did not deny her words. “So what are you going to do now?”
“Fix it. Meet us in Faith’s office in fifteen minutes.” She stopped and looked at Naomi who was driving. “She is in her office correct?” Naomi nodded. She was afraid to speak. Gabrielle looked back at Harmony. “Her office then, in fifteen minutes.” Gabrielle cut the feed and leaned back in her seat. “This is just stupid. Do I have to babysit the Amazon Nation through eternity? How can they get so off course so often and on so many topics? Grrrr!”
Xena started to laugh. “Remember when they painted you blue and made you howl at the moon all night?” She was laughing harder after she said it.
The memory made Gabrielle wince but it also made her laugh. “Yeah, that was pretty stupid.” Her mirth did not sink into her soul. She was still angry and not a little disappointed in a number of individuals.
Nearly fifteen minutes later Xena, Gabrielle, Sherese and Naomi were in the elevator heading for the top floor in the second tower of the Martian Marine Corps building. Naomi had tried to remove herself but Gabrielle had ordered her to attend ‘so she could learn something’. Gabrielle knew that Naomi would start to talk the second that she was free to do so and for now Gabrielle wanted a lid on the situation.
Faith rose from her seat behind her desk when the doors opened and the quartet walked through. Gabrielle pointed towards a corner and Naomi meekly went and stood in it. Xena and Sherese moved closer to Harmony who had beat them here and Gabrielle walked straight up to her granddaughter, stepping around the desk to come face to face with the present Queen of the Amazons.

“You have had time to think so now you will explain why you have allowed our families to become supremacists.” Gabrielle was shorter than Faith but Faith was shrinking by the second.
She looked down at her desk. It was hard to hold the gaze of Gabrielle when she was angry. “I had not realized that it would come to this. It sounded good Gabrielle. It sounded like they were giving you and Xena the respect and honor that you were due.” Gabrielle stayed silent. It appeared to make Faith uncomfortable.
The door opened again and Solace, Dura, Alex and Deb all walked in. Gabrielle acknowledged them with a nod and turned back to Faith. “I believe that you were explaining something.”
Faith had hoped that the arrival of the other women would take the heat from her. But this is what it meant to be the Queen. “I guess it didn’t really register when they said that your training should be conducted without contamination. I never imagined that they meant that other Amazons would or even could contaminate you. But I didn’t ask either. You know how it is Gabrielle, sometimes the Queen isn’t told everything. That’s not a defense, it’s a fact.” Faith was once again looking Gabrielle in the eyes.
Gabrielle had listened to Faith and what she had said. It was true sometimes the Queen was not told certain things on purpose, and she could not blame Faith for not seeing what was happening when she had not seen it either. It had been right under her nose. “Who is in charge of the Guardians and who started them?” Gabrielle was still addressing Faith.
Deb cleared her throat and all eyes turned to her, some in shock others in disbelief… all except for Alex. “I did not start them nor am I in charge. But the woman that is in charge of them takes orders from only one woman, Clair.”
The room groaned and several spoke at once.
“I should have known that she would pull something like this.” Dura exclaimed.
“What is her general malfunction?” Gabrielle was asking of the air.
“Oh for the love of…” Xena began.
Faith was covering her face with her hand. “I should never have trusted her.” She jabbed a button on her desk a disembodied voice responded. “Get me Kylee, have her report to my office immediately.”
“Did you say that Kylee takes orders only from Clair?” Harmony was asking her aunt Deb.

Deb nodded. “Yes and the only reason that I know this is, because I happened to overhear a conversation once and it wasn’t until just now that it made any sense. I’m sorry Faith; I had no idea that she would undermine you in this manner. She’s always been a contrary woman but this is unthinkable.”
Gabrielle had a strange look on her face. Deb saw the look and finally answered the unspoken question. “Ear buds… we couldn’t make it in time so we put in ear buds and had the GEV give us the feed.” Gabrielle said, Oh silently. 
“Alright, let’s wait for this Kylee, but don’t think for one second that you’re off of my shit list Faith Rayne. You better pray that we can salvage this without too many people getting hurt.” Gabrielle chastised the woman.
“She’s planned this for a very long time. She knew that someday soon we would return because we had only trapped Alti. The chances that she would still be alive when we returned would be very high. What she didn’t expect was that the two of you would take her out of power before she was able to solidify the Amazons underneath her.” Xena explained Clair’s plan. To her it was simple strategy. “Don’t feel bad Clair was always good at making people look left while she manipulated the right.”
“All because she hated Hope…” Gabrielle said sadly.

The door opened but because Gabrielle had been speaking and Xena started to speak right on top of her final syllable no-one saw who entered.
“No because she was jealous of Amy and in love with Hope.” Xena said before Gabrielle could finish her sentence. “Isn’t that right Clair?” She turned to look the old woman in the eyes.
Clair had been standing in the doorway beside Kylee, a beautiful long legged brunette. She had listened to the last comment and was glaring at the back of Xena’s head when Xena had turned around and let her see her face. “Fuck you Xena!”
“What… why didn’t you just tell her?” Gabrielle just couldn’t believe that all of this pain had been caused by love.
“No-way, mom hated Clair.” Faith said without hesitation.
“You might have had a chance with her had you been nice to Faith and me.” Solace added to the conversation. “That’s how Amy got her affections. We always came first to mom.” Gabrielle was very pleased to hear that announcement.
“Oh who cares now? The bitch is dead and gone!” Clair bellowed into the room.
“And even with you believing that you still continue with this hateful plan of sedition.” Gabrielle had stepped away from Faith and started to advance on Clair.

“I have a new master and he insisted that I continue.” She said almost regretfully. Then her head shot up and her eyes bore a hole in Gabrielle’s face. “What did you mean when you said that I believe that she is gone?”
“Hah, do you not pay attention to the Family at all? Hope was reborn. God gave her one more chance to choose a path of redemption and salvation. She is alive now and on her way here to Mars for my wedding.” Gabrielle said with a sneer.
Clair was shocked and speechless.
“I take it that neither of you deny that you willfully and deliberately committed sedition against the Amazon Nation.” Queen Faith asked.
Clair looked at her as if she were a toad that she wanted to squash. “No I do not deny it. I only wish that it had worked or that you had continued to be blind.” She glared at Xena and then Gabrielle. Her gaze fell across Sherese and then it found Naomi and that is where it stopped.
It was Kylee’s turn to speak. “I do not deny the charges either and had someone done her job correctly we would not be standing here.” She turned her glare onto Naomi as well.
“No! I was just following orders. I had no idea what it was all about. I was just told to keep Sherese away from you two. That was all I was told.” She was pleading. Her life was in the balance and she knew it.

“Yes well you didn’t do a very good job of it did you?” Clair spoke but it was only a distraction.
Kylee pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Naomi. Naomi pulled out her own pistol and aimed it at Kylee. Xena put her hand on her Chakram but Alex put her hand on Xena’s wrist and shook her head. The two women squeezed the triggers and nothing happened. A second later the doors flew open and a squad of Amazon Marines entered. Faith had the three women arrested and an investigation started. Harmony was temporarily put in charge of the Guardians and Sherese was reassigned as her partner.
And when the dust settled Deb looked at Xena. “Trust us child, we’re not that old.” She exchanged a smile with her sister and they bowed out taking Dura and Solace with them. Harmony and Sherese followed soon after to begin the investigation that would probably rock the Amazon Nation to the core.
That left Xena, Gabrielle and Faith in the room. Faith ordered the GEV to cut any external feeds. The conversation would be private. “So grandmother, how did I do?” Faith was asking Gabrielle.
Gabrielle smiled and embraced her granddaughter. “You did well. I wasn’t too hard on you was I?” Faith shook her head.
“How did you know that Clair would show up personally?” Faith handed Gabrielle a soda and Xena a bottle of Orange Juice. She popped the top on her own soda and sat down on a couch.
“Are you kidding she wouldn’t be able to resist. She was hoping for a big blow out and an argument. She hadn’t figured on me figuring out that she was in love with Hope. That’s what took the wind out of her sails.” 

Xena had sat down on the arm of the chair that Gabrielle was sitting in. “I have to tell you though I was pretty impressed with Deb. I had no idea that she would come through with the information that she had.”
“Yeah and how about the whole thing with the guns… those two are pretty formidable.” Gabrielle burped and turned red.
“No, that was impressive.” Xena said to Gabrielle making her partner blush again. “Are you sure that no-body else knew what we were up to?” Xena asked Faith.
“I’m sure. Some of them figured it out halfway through but they were all in the dark at the onset. Why did you guys let it fester for so long?” Faith took a long pull on her Pepsi and the carbonation made her shiver.
“We had an idea that it was Clair that was pulling the strings, but she needed to be drawn out not confronted.” Xena was saying.
Gabrielle was nodding. “The problem was more controlled while we were all working to destroy Alti. Once she was gone it was like the situation exploded or something. We had to act now or it might have gone beyond our ability to rein in.” Gabrielle finished her soda and grabbed a bottle of water.
“But what about Sherese wasn’t she hurt for no good reason?” Faith was still unsettled by the pain that the problem had caused.
“No, Sherese was safer where she was at and besides she was in on it from the start.” Gabrielle got the joy of watching Faith’s mouth drop. “Do you really think that we didn’t remember her? We saw her in the park on my sixteenth birthday. She’s the one that watched us leave on the Pegasus and gathered our things and took them home after we left. We looked her up the next day and got reacquainted. Through the years she gave us inside information through Harmony. She was kept in the dark about a lot of stuff but she found out enough. That’s how we knew that we could wait to address it until after killing Alti.”
“What if you had lost?” Faith offered lamely.
“Bite your tongue!” Xena finished her orange juice. “Oh well, we did what we could. Now you can take the credit for fixing the problem and Gabrielle can take the position as the Matriarch Queen of the Amazons.”
Both women almost stopped breathing to stare at Xena and absorb what she had said.
“What… only a few people witnessed our performance today. So the Amazon Nation will see Faith as the person that will correct the wrong and the right people saw Gabrielle bring Faith to task as an over seer and hence will easily accept her as the new Matriarch. This will allow the sisters to retire to their peaceful homes and take the pressure of the unofficial job from Solace and Dura.” She was quite logical and most probably correct.