The Bard Challenge #16: Solstice from A to Xe ~ Non-Voting Entry

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Drango Gap:  Solstice Miracle

By RangerLiz

            Dianthe Xavier glanced at her wristwatch, and peered out the window of her Jeep Cherokee at the wintry sky. She pulled into the small, but busy Burntmountain Airport, and hoped Meredith's flight would not be canceled due to the predicted snowstorm. Well, blizzard, if the reports were accurate. Nine days ago Meredith had gone to Washington, D.C. with Annie and Jason Hendricks for a meeting about the ever-dwindling budget for park operations.

            They were part of the Drango Gap Wildlife National Wildlife Corridor management team who Brett Ferris had selected to represent them before the congressional appropriations committee concerning parks and forests budgets. Nine days without Meredith felt like a lifetime, as far as Dianthe was concerned. Those days had been an abyss of loneliness for the normally stalwart woman.

            Meredith Murphy had become her world, and she had become Meredith's. But with three key staff members gone for the meetings, she, Callie and Jake Tremon, Lucas Wainwright were hard pressed to cover the patrols without Annie and Jason. Though it was not typical for Chief Ranger and Chief of Visitor Services and Interpretation to pull patrols, Annie and Jason did. Lucas was an intermittent staff member who lived in Burntmountain. When he was not doing law enforcement patrols, he was a master carpenter with a pretty good business.

            His wife, Sue, was an interior design with a solid business, too. And she volunteered on a regular basis to help staff their visitor center. Dianthe pulled into the short-term parking lot, and slipped out into the chilled air. She strode towards the small terminal and flight control tower, stomping snow off her booted feet.

            "Hey, Dianthe,' the perky teen behind the information desk/ gift shop called out.

            "Hey, Becky. Any word on the flight out of Seattle?"

            "Remington Airways is still running," Becky Remington informed the pilot/ law enforcement ranger as her keen hazel eyes met the woman's midnight blue eyes. "Dad will get her home safely; he would not fly if the conditions were too dangerous. Mom would kill him, so would Gram. Not to mention my Uncle Glen and Aunt Val."

            Dianthe nodded, picking up an apple and bottle of water. She paid for them, and lowered her long, tall frame inside one of the padded seats occupying the lounge and glanced at the TV. It was one of those disaster movies someone decided would really go along with the holiday spirit depicting the calamity caused by an earthbound asteroid ready to wipe out humanity. Dianthe took a deep bit of her apple, shaking her head, wondering whatever happened to happier movies during the holiday season, though she knew many folks were driven to suicide during this time of year.

            Jason and Annie had taken several days of leave to visit some friends in Florida, so they would be spending the holidays down near the Glades.  Karen and Morgan were spending the holidays with family in Northern California, and Jake and Callie had family visiting them. Meredith's family would be spending part of the holidays with them, so Dianthe had done some heavy duty shopping last night.

            A blonde man emerged from the men's room wearing jeans, a grey turtleneck and leather bomber jacket whose brown eyes flickered between her and Becky. Dianthe sighed, recognizing the type before he even opened his mouth. He puffed out his chest, and strode towards the area where Dianthe sat.

            "Looks like the weather may close down the airport, huh, sweet stuff?" his gaze swept over her lithe frame with keen interest. "Not sure I will get my flight to Seattle, you know how tough this time of year can be up here. But the drought seems to have broken," the man sat beside her, "Now, if this were a real airport, and man could buy a beautiful woman a nice brandy to warm her blood on such a cold night."

            Dianthe bit back a sarcastic response, and decided to shut him down as quickly as possible. "I am waiting for my partner."

            The man blinked, shaking his head, "Lucky fella."

            "Actually, it's a she, and I am the lucky one," Dianthe grinned, lifting her left hand and displaying her gold band. The man flushed, flabbergasted at her cavalier attitude for a brief moment. Then Dianthe saw interest spark behind his eyes, and Dianthe realized he was one of those types. "So, is your lady a beautiful as you?"

            A snarl rose from the depths of her soul at the concept of the man thinking what he was thinking. Realizing he had misjudged his potential opportunities he swiftly vacated his seat and scrambled to the other end of the lounge.  Dianthe began eating her apple; glad Becky had flipped to the local new at noon s as she opened the bottle of water to take a sip.

            The local anchor, an attractive Latino woman whose rich brown eyes and luxurious black hair was announcing the events in Iraqi, and Dianthe thought of those she knew deployed over there. "We have just received word that there is reported airplane down in the Western Cascades outside of Burntmountain."

            Dianthe distantly registered that she had dropped her water bottle when she heard Becky cry out. She rose, turning to see Amanda Remington holding her daughter as she met Dianthe's eyes. "Jack called the tower and reported he was having engine problems, then we lost contact with him."

            Dianthe shut her eyes. The approach out of Seattle covered some rough terrain, and there was a big storm headed towards them. "How long ago?"

            "Ten minutes ago; Jon Brandice called and said one of the deputies saw a small turbo commuter plane dipping below the tree line when we lost contact with Jack. It was only Jack and Meredith on the flight.."

            Dianthe swallowed down her fear, focusing on the issue: if the plane had gone down, there was a chance of survivors. Jack Remington had flown as a bush pilot in Alaska, and he was a damned good pilot, If he went down, she could only hope he did not hit a mountainside, and that her lover was alive.


            Meredith Murphy became aware of something running down her face as her eyelids fluttered open. For a brief instant she did not know where she was, then remembered she was onboard a Remington Airways flight out of Seattle. She shook her head, and scanned her immediate surroundings with confusion.

            The plane was dark, and at an odd angle. The last thing she remembered was working on her laptop, then hearing Jack shouting for her to brace herself. Crash. The plane had crash-landed outside of the airport. Meredith took a deep breath, sniffing the air for smoke or chemical smells that could indicate a fire.

            She did not smell anything, but she did not trust that to mean the plane would not catch fire. Years emergency medical and search-and- rescue of training kicked in, She began accessing her own condition, gingerly flexing her limbs to determine if she had broken bones. Her limbs worked, meaning her spinal chord was intact. She checked herself for wounds on her torso, neck and head.

            She flinched when she discovered a cut somewhere above her right eye, but her vision was good. Her harness had saved her life. "Jack?" Meredith called out as she released her harness.

            A masculine groan answered her inquiry, and Meredith took comfort in knowing the man was alive. She cautiously made her way forward towards the pilot seat, and found Jack Remington alive, though hurt. "Jack, can you hear me?"

            "Meredith?" Jack coughed, grimacing when he tried moving.

            "Jack, let me check you out for injures."

            "Do you smell any smoke or chemical odors?" Jack asked, forcing himself to focus. Jack's pale grey-blue eyes narrowed as the pilot took in the situation.

            "No," Meredith replied, accessing her friend's condition with compressed lips. Jack's right leg was slightly deformed, indicating a broken lower leg. She gently examined the limb, and Jack's quick intake of breath confirmed her suspicions. "Jack, I think you have broken leg, but the good news is it isn't not open facture. Do you hurt any were else?"

            "My right shoulder hurts something fierce," he responded. "You?"

            "A good cut above my eye seems to be the worse of it," Meredith answered. "Jack, do you have a emergency survival kit onboard?"

            "Hell yeah. It's a decent sized kit with water, a few military ready to eat meals, four blankets, a flare gun, a flashlight, and a solid medical kit. Mom insisted on it. It's in the aft storage compartment. The emergency beacon should have alerted the tower we went down," Jack supplied, sighing. "Mom ‘s going to kill me. Crashing the Seneca,"

            "Jack, I think your Mom is going to be happy we are alive. The plane can be replaced; we can't. I'll be back," Meredith went back to where she had been seated, hoping she could find her L.L. Bean Mountain Pro jacket before she went outside. It was still light out, but she knew how cold it was outside.

            Her eyesight had adjusted to the dim light, and she found her jacket. She heard something crunch beneath her booted foot, and sighed. She found her laptop, too. Good thing she kept her documents on her jump drive that she had placed inside her jeans pocket. She checked the passenger cabin door and pushed open carefully.

            The snow ground looked level enough, so she clambered down and examined the damage. One of the plane's low wings was damaged, but the plane seemed fairly intact to her untrained eye. She double-checked for indications of a fuel leak, but she could find none. Jack had brought them down in the only relatively level area outside of Burntmountain; it looked like a meadow; it would have been a wipeout had he not brought the plane down where he had.

            Meredith had worked recovery operations for general aviation crashes, and the odds of survival were pretty grim. She opened the aft cargo area, and found the emergency kits clearly marked. Martha, she thought. The former W.A.S.P. pilot understood how critical such matters could be, and she and her husband had raised their kids to be smart, too.

            She made her way back to the cabin, where she began splinting his leg and slinging his injured arm to stabilize them "Jack, we have a choice to make. Stay inside here, or make a shelter nearby."

            "I would hate to be wrong about the potential of a fire if we were inside her, but if a storm rolls in being outside does not sound too good," Jack sighed. "Sounds like we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't."

            Meredith nodded. She let Jack tend to her head wound as best as he could, then bandaged it. "I am going to set-up an S.O.S. out in the meadow. Don't suppose you have an emergency radio?"

            Jack sighed, "Nope; we did, but it is out for maintenance," Jack shook his head, "Be careful, you may have more than just a nasty gash on your forehead, Meredith."

            Meredith nodded, securing her jump drive inside her jacket's internal pocket; she went outside to see what she could come up with. She had covered Jack with two of the heavy wool blankets before she went back outside.

            If the snow were any deeper, she would have had a hard time exploring her immediate surroundings for materials. She made her way towards the trees, and began gathering up deadfall when spotted an overgrown pathway. It was not a game trail. She debated whether or not to follow it, and decided to risk exploring just a bit further.

            She did not have to go very far to find something that made her grin. She made her way down the pathway to a large, rustic cabin with two sheds and called out, "Anyone home?" There was no answer, and Meredith did not expect there would be. Though it seemed solid enough, the cabin did not appear to have been used recently. There were dozens of these old cabins scattered around the area, from the time when hunting was more frequent in the area.

            She cautiously stepped on the wooden deck, testing the floorboards as she went, and called out, "I need help. I was on plane that just went down in the field nearby." No response again. Meredith knocked on the solid oak door, listening for sounds of life. Nothing. She depressed the old metal tab down on the door and pushed hard; creaking, the door swung open and she entered the old cabin.

            Cobwebs gave way, and she sneezed as she entered the solid log cabin. The layout was one huge room, with an impressive fireplace with faded furniture laid out around it. To her amazement, there was no sign wildlife had damaged the cabin, and she felt at home. Odd, she mused, beaming when she found the cabin to be solid enough to shelter in.

            She found there were canned goods in the pantry, some that may still be good, utensils, including a can opener, and three boxes wooden matches. There was an old fashioned pot-bellied stove in the kitchen She grinned when she found the big brass bed seemed in good condition, and with a bit of elbow grease she could have the place in order in no time. It would be better than spending the night in the plane, she mused.

            Further exploration made her laugh: two pairs of old fashioned snowshoes, and a wooden toboggan big enough to haul Jack to the cabin. She hunkered low, and looked up the stout chimney with one of the flashlights and did not see materials blocking it. She chewed her lower lip, and made her decision.

            The big storage closet also had hurricane lamps and oil in it, so they would have light. She continued exploring the cabin, and found a small bookcase containing some old books. She read the titles, impressed by the cabin's owners' interest in classical mythology and history as well as some great fiction.

            She had another five hours until darkness fell, and she made her decision when she found there enough dry wood in a medium sized shed to keep them for a long time There was an axe and maul for gathering more wood inside, too. Maybe the cabin was not in use now, but it had been used not too long ago.

            A second larger shed she would investigate once she had time.

            She headed back to the plane wreck, hoping she could get everything that needed to be done in time. She hauled the toboggan behind her towards the crash-site, and told Jack what she had found. He agreed, and told her there was really good stuff in the cargo area she should consider bringing.

            He left a note where they had gone with a rough map based on Meredith's estimate of the cabin's location. She used a roll of orange flagging tape she inside her computer backpack for marking trails when was doing trail work and search-and-rescue operations.

            Meredith made one more trip to the crash-site, marking out an arrow in the snow with some food dye she had found at the house. Between the note and map, the directional marker and tape, she had done all she could to mark their location.

            She made her way back to the cabin where she had settled Jack on the biggest couch. She checked the fireplace once again, double-checking the flue before stocking the wood and tinder in the heavy iron andiron. "Here goes nothing, Jack."

            "Smoky I can handle, if it means we will be warm. I cannot believe you found this place. It looks like it has not been abandoned for too long," Jack pronounced as he watched Meredith do all the work. "Sorry about not being able to help out, though."

            "You can't help having a broken leg and messed up shoulder," Meredith replied, brushing her hands off on her jeans. She struck one of the wooden matches and lit the kindling. In a few moments she had the fire going as she used the hand bellows she found beside the fireplace. "Besides, you told me about the feast we are going to have later."

            Jack chuckled. He recalled her whoop of delight when she found the cargo had included several boxes of lobster bisque, smoked sausage, Swiss and cheddar cheese, crackers, and Kansas City steaks. He explained he had been brought the gourmet feast for the Christmas presents for friends and family, since he was picking up the plane from an overhaul by mechanics in Seattle.

            "There's a fridge, so there must be a generator," Jack surmised, glancing towards the kitchen. "There's two sheds, maybe one houses it."

            "You comfortable enough for me to check it? Meredith rose, wiping her hands on her jeans.

            "Meredith, I promise you will fly free from now on," Jack vowed, admiring the woman's strength, courage and resourcefulness. Meredith shook her head, "Tell you what, if we get out of this, you can teach me how to fly."

            Jack nodded, "Deal."

            Meredith pulled her jacket on, and made her way to the second shed. It had a lock on it, but she had brought the axe with her. Two solid whacks broke the lock, and Meredith opened the shed door. She hoped they had not stumbled on a drug runners' lab, but she did not believe they had. She stepped inside and shook her head: there was large generator. She knew the wires must have been buried, since she had not seen wires going into the cabin.

            She found it since had fuel, but was it good? She shrugged her shoulders, figuring if she had survived a plane crash she could survive this. It took her twenty minutes to get the old generator ready, and she took a deep breath when she hit the switch. Balanced on the balls of her feet to run for it, the generator sputtered to life.

            "Wow. . . " she shook her head in amazement. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Damn, I never thought I could use that word, Dianthe. Baby, I am not going to leave you without a fight. Do not give up on us, love," Meredith murmured, touching the gold band that was the twin of Dianthe's.  "I love you."

            She secured the shed and picked up the axe and maul, and then made her way back to the cabin, exhausted but determined they would survive. She stomped the snow off her boots, glad she had brought in enough wood in for two good fires. She found the switch box in the large storage room in the shed, and pushed the "On" switch.

            "Anything, Jack?" Meredith called out.

            "Hang on," Jack called back. There was a lamp beside the couch he occupied, and he laughed. "It works."

            Meredith felt something brush her neck, and jumped until she realized it was a pull chord. She yanked it, illuminating the large storage room and scanned the neatly labeled boxes. Two boxes made her smile: Christmas ornaments. She loved decorating her house for the holidays, especially since Dianthe and Furball had become part of her life. Dianthe's smoky-gray black cat had them both wound around his little paw.

            He even had his own stocking for toys and such, though the entire house belonged to him. Or so he thought.

            She turned her attention to the other boxes, including what appeared to be several marble colored document boxes. She pulled out one of the slightly dusty boxes labeled, "Digs in Greece and Turkey". She wanted to know whose cabin they were using so she could thank them, and repaid them for whatever she and Jack used, too.

            Dinner was some sliced sausage and cheese with tea Meredith made on the old pot-bellied stove. It was a practical choice since it cooked food and helped heat the cabin, too. Jack fell asleep once they were done eating, and Meredith found herself tired, but unable to sleep. Tomorrow, she would bring in more wood to keep them warm, provided the storm was not too bad.

            Instead, she settled herself down on the other couch, and opened the long box that had caught her attention. She found letters lovingly bundled together, and realized they were not mere letters, but love letters. And she realized the letters were between two women, Mel and Janice, spanning decades of a passionate love affair.

            It seemed whenever the lovers' were unable to work together on archeological digs they exchanged weekly letters about their mutual quest about warrior women, especially one female warrior and her bard-warrior companion. She read how these lovers' fought to prove to the establishment that these two long dead warrior women and Amazons were real.

            Meredith's eyes slid shut, and her dreams were full of fantastical beings and ancient gods.


            Dianthe had had enough: she had spent the four hours trying to organize SAR teams as they mapped out the most likely location for the plane to have crashed. The beacon had been activated, and the last tower location gave them the best coordinates possible under the circumstances.

            "I think we should wait until tomorrow morning," suggested the National Transportation Safety Board representative who had arrived two hours after the crash. He lived in the area, "There's a storm bearing down on us."

            "And that's why we have to get out there," Dianthe grated, her cobalt-blue eyes flashing dangerously.

            "Ms. Xavier, I understand you want to find your friend, but. . . "

            "She is my lover, and if there was any real equality, she would be my wife," Dianthe snapped back. "And it is Ranger Xavier, and I am aware of the conditions out there. And I know the stats on surviving a small plane crash: I am a former naval aviator and pilot for my park, so I know what we might find. But if we sit on our asses, if either of them survived the crash, they will not survive the night without help."

            There were murmurs of agreement as the deputies of Burntmountain and Blackstone nodded. Callie and Jake Tremon backed her up, too. "We know what we are up against, and we are willing to risk it. We have risked our necks for strangers; these are our friends, our people," Jon Brandice pronounced. "So, we need to make sure we have enough gear to survive several days under bad conditions. Anyone without out the right gear or up to it, you can come out tomorrow if the storm does not hit.  Sam will be the Incident Commander."

            Sam Griffin nodded. The handsome, leanly muscled man with silver hair was scanning a piece of paper one of the officers handed him.  He would remain at the airfield where he would coordinate operations with the different agencies that were responding. He scanned the assembled volunteers with an intense dark gray eye. An eye-patch covered where his left eye used to be, having lost it years ago in a wildfire related accident. "We just received a report a private plane that spotted what might be our crash-site. We have a National Guard helicopter five minutes out from here to pick up two hasty teams.

            They take you to the area, and then return here since the weather will be too heavy to fly much longer. Jon, you, Callie, and Dianthe will be team one. Jake, you, Glen and Val are team two. Radio channel will 5 for all communications."

            "I should accompany one of the two teams," the NTSB inspector insisted.

            "Mister Harding, you do not have the right gear for the field conditions they are likely to encounter, and all of these folks have extensive experience in winter survival and SAR work. I need you here," Sam murmured.

            "The helicopter is two minutes out," Amanda Remington called out, double-checking the most current reports. Both she and Dianthe had immersed in getting things organized, neither willing to think their partner was dead.

            They both would pay the price later on, if they were wrong about their loved ones being alive. Neither, though, would abandon hope until none remained.


            The helicopter circled the crash-site; the winds indicating the snow would soon be on top of them. "Look, I can put down for ten minutes max, if they are not there, then what do you want to do?"

            "If they are not there, then they are alive, and we go find them," Jake Tremon answered. He and Callie had joined the park following the death of Charlie Fenton as dual career team for law enforcement. In the last six and a half years they had become good friends with Dianthe and Meredith. "If they are not dead, they must be nearby."

            "Roger that," the pilot smiled thinly. "I promise we will back as soon as the weather lifts, if they are not on board. Tell you one thing: the plane is damned good shape, and the pilot must be one damned good flyer to bring her in such a tight area."

            "He is, even if he is my kid brother," Valor Remington-Grant pronounced with pride.

            The helicopter alighted a few yards from the crash-site, and the two hasty teams jumped out to scramble towards the plane. None of them had seen the large arrow Meredith had designed using food dyes, and the rotor wash was swiftly covering it with freshly fallen snow.

            Dianthe made her way towards the wreck, hearing the others saying there was no sign of fuel leaks. She used her powerful headlamp to illuminate the path the plane had taken. The landing distance of a Seneca V fourteen hundred feet, give or take, and Jack had landed on the only open, level space in miles. He had only twenty odd feet between him and total destruction in a stand of trees.

            She wrenched open one of the forward cockpit door, shouting, "Meredith!"

            No answer. She shed her backpack and snowshoes, and climbed inside the plane, heart pounding and stomach queasy with dread. She saw Meredith's shattered laptop on the floor of the empty plane, and then noticed a note tacked to the pilot control.

            Jon and Callie were peeking inside when she faced them, "They are alive; Jack's got a broken leg and messed up shoulder, and Meredith seems in good shape. It says they are in cabin. Meri made a map."

            "Then we better go. The helicopter left, and the storm is coming," Jon pronounced.

            Dianthe nodded, clutching the piece of paper close as she jumped out. She shoved it inside her jacket to don her snowshoes and backpack, and spotted blood droplets. The two teams combined, and began following the map Meredith had made.

            They had not gone far when they froze. In the midst of a mounting snowstorm they beheld a log cabin with smoke rising from a chimney.  It took them five minutes to make their way through the increasing winds and thickening snow to the cabin with two sheds, and Dianthe reached the door first.

            She opened the door and entered the warm cabin to behold a sight more precious than thing she could imagine: Meredith sound asleep. She spanned the distance separating them in a heartbeat and dropped on her knees beside the blanket wrapped woman whose right temple had a large bandage covering it. "Meredith," she reached out and touched the slumbering woman.

            Hazy green-grey eyes opened and fixed on the form kneeling before her with disbelief, "Dianthe?"

            "Yes," Dianthe ignored the tears pouring down her face as she reached out and pulled the woman close against herself. "I love you."

            Meredith pressed kisses to her lovers' throat and chest, thanking whatever benevolent being had made this miracle happen. They barely registered the sounds of joy from the others as they shared prolonged kiss, both crying and laughing at being together again.

            Jack found himself surrounded by his brother and sister while Jon, Callie and Jake went about making sure everything was squared away. Only the need for air separated them, and Dianthe reached out to cup Meredith's right check, "Do not scare me like that again, lover. How are you feeling?"

            "A bit stiff and sore, but nothing having you here won't heal," Meredith replied with a mischievous twinkle behind her sea-green grey eyes. Dianthe leaned forward, claiming her wife's lips again for another searing kiss.

            "Okay, you two, get a room," Jon interjected, carrying one of the medical kits over the couch Meredith occupied. "I may not be a former naval aviator, but can a deputy sheriff get a hug from a buddy?"

            Meredith laughed, opening her arms wide to embrace the handsome dark haired man whose dark green eyes shone with joy. Jon held his friend close, saying, "We may be here for a few days, do you know how much fuel is in the generator?"

            "Maybe three or so," Meredith answered, estimating the capacity of the fuel supply based on her own larger generator. "But we have enough wood for about two weeks; the wood shed is pretty well stocked, and there are oil lamps and oil, too. Not to mention there some canned food that may still be good."

            "Sounds like we are pretty good shape," Jake Tremon drawled, entering the cabin with an armload of wood.  Callie's short, muscular frame flanked her husband, her arms equally laden with wood. We should bring in some more wood, since it looks like this is going be a real nasty storm."

            Callie thanked Val as she helped the law enforcement ranger deposit the wood beside the river tone fireplace. Glen and Jake went outside to fetch more wood, as well as the maul. "I hope Diablo forgives us," Callie said, envisioning how their big, black cat would react to being left alone for a few days.

            They had made sure he a ton of dry food, an extra litter box and water, but the  irascible cat would no doubt make them paid for leaving him alone. They had adopted him several months after joining the park when they got to know Furball, Dianthe's and Meredith's cat. Diablo was a rescued Burmese whose bright green eyes and vocalizations could communicate his moods very well.

            He was a good kitty most of the time, but when he was bad, he was very bad. Dianthe laughed, "Diablo will hid your old teddy bear again, huh?"

            Callie rolled her eyes, regretting having mentioned that their cat hid stuff when he was mad at them. It took her four days to find her childhood teddy bear, and even longer for Jake to find his favorite Red Sox ball cap.

            Valor wiped her hands on her snowboarding pants, her silver hair and keen gray eyes rested on her brother. "Well, the National Guard knows where the wreck is, so when the storm lifts they will be back. And I already got the best gift possible: Jack and Meredith are alive. Now, Jack told us we have steaks, two boxes of Kansas steaks, so how about I make us a good solid dinner?"

            There were murmurs of agreement from everyone. Glen and Jake began the task of splitting the wood, using one of the round rugs to work on. Callie and Jon went to help make dinner while Jack dozed on his couch.

            Dianthe finished replacing the hastily placed bandage, pressing her lips to the uninjured section of skin. "Hey, what are those?"

            Meredith glanced at the box of letters and documents, blushing, "Love letters between a woman named Melinda Pappas and her lover, Janice Covnington. They met on dig in Macedonia during the late 1930s. It seemed when believe there was some mystic warrior woman named Xena; it seemed she was a former warlord, she traveled the world with her companion, Gabrielle.

            Gabrielle was a bard, warrior in her own right, and a queen of the Amazons."

            "Hey, like the TV character you two resemble?" Callie was a die-hard fan of the show. Dianthe had been mistaken for the series star more than once, as had Meredith. "I love the concept of soul-mates with an everlasting bond that transcends time. It was such a kick-ass show."

            Dianthe cringed, recalling one time when she and poor Meredith had almost been torn apart when visiting Burbank. It seemed they were visiting when one of the yearly Xena conventions was happening, and had there not be a handy hotel tunnel nearby, they would have been overwhelmed by the screaming horde of happy fans.

            Worse, Meredith had decided they ought check out the convention, and Dianthe had been dragged to the huge convention. There had been a brief instant of confusion when the fans saw the two stars on the stage and in the audience, and the two starts were equally amazed at how much they resembled each other.

            But there were differences. Dianthe was much taller, more powerfully built, and her brunette hair and olive skin tones were natural; the actress had chosen to darken her naturally light blonde and light skin tone with dye and makeup.  Dianthe had sunk deep into her seat when the two stars of the program had spotted them.

            At urging of the crowd and two stars, the couple had briefly appeared on stage beside the two stars, and they everyone learned they were rangers and partners, Dianthe briefly had visions of grievous bodily damage being done to them by the wild fans.

            Dianthe grumbled, and Callie laughed. "Ah, come on, you have to admit it is really cool how much you two resemble the actors, and how wild it is you two are really partners."

            "Heck, I love that show," Jake interjected. "What's not to love about women in leather kicking butt?"

            The others laughed.  Dianthe rolled her eyes, and settled herself beside her lover, and hugged her close. Meredith snuggled close against her partner's warmth, and Dianthe closed her eyes: this was paradise.  "All I know is I got my Christmas present: both of you are alive; that's what matters to me."

            Meredith sighed, knowing her lovers' reflective mood was a sign of how worried she had been. She turned her head, pressing her lips to the underside of Dianthe's jaw, and felt the strong body shudder. "I am fine, love. So is Jack."

            "Does this strike you as odd?" Jon interjected, gesturing towards their immediate surrounding with wondering eyes. "Its amazing enough that Jack managed to bring the plane in like he did, and finding this cabin. . . "

            "It is strange: I doubt you could have a more optimum set-up if you planned it," Glen observed, his hazel-green eyes thoughtful.  Both he and his younger brother were tall, powerfully built men, and he shook his head. "I mean, the generator still being able to work, and all the wood left in the shed. Its amazing."

            "Speaking of optimum where's the head?" Jon asked.

            "None in here, but there must have been an outhouse on the property. But there is what seems to be a pretty decent size chamber pot," Meredith provided. "The water we have is from snow I gathered and melted."

            Jon nodded. "Okay, nothing unique there, so my guess is the owners had a well. Guess we can dump it when it gets full. We can use some of the old sheets to set-up a privacy screen."

            "What about the closet? Put the chamber pot in there; its big enough to pull double duty, no pun intended," Callie suggested.

            "Good idea, but what about me?" Jack ventured, a hint of a blush coloring his cheeks.

            "No worries, little brother," Valor teased, "I used to change your diapers."

            "Ah, thanks, but no thanks, Val," Jack muttered, raising both hands. "Glen?"

            Glen inclined his head in silent agreement, chuckling at his younger brother's discomfort.  Val shrugged her strong shoulders, pronouncing, "Dinner's ready, and we even have wine. Thanks, Jack."

            In short order they were eating and having some wine, celebrating the simple pleasures of life and love. It was close to midnight when the group began bedding down for the evening. It had been decided Meredith and Dianthe should have the large brass bed, and Jack took the couch Meredith had deposited him on.

            Soon the sounds of soft snores filled the cabin, leaving Dianthe and Meredith time to hold each other. "You should get some sleep, love," Dianthe murmured, lips brushing the woman who had owned her heart from the first day they had met.

            Meredith deepened their kiss, "Hmm, did I ever tell you how luscious your lips are?"

            Dianthe smiled, a tear sliding down her right cheek at sheer joy she felt, knowing somehow the women who had owned this cabin had helped them. She could feel it deep in her bones. Meredith reached up, wiping away the tear and said, "Happy Solstice, Dianthe."

            When sleep did claim them, four shimmering forms appeared beside the pair of lovers' whose bloodline ran true over the generations.

The End

****Want more with these characters read Drango Gap Book 1****

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