Dedication – to Amanda Chron – my friend, a sister, a mentor, one who teaches the lessons about owning the magic of one's destiny. Thanks for courage to journey on my own path and to share the words of my ancients.



by Dava Gamble

Part 1: Silver Journeys

Part 2: Silver Cusp

Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.

… William Jennings Bryan


Chapter 1

Morgan thought to herself that she would be a much happier woman if a mechanic dropped out of the sky. All the vehicles at the camp still used fossil fuel and it was just as rare as hens' teeth. The most serviceable mode of transportation was essentially held together with rubber band s and the odd paperclip ; she was certain neither would last much longer. She had very few mechanical skills with even less knowledge. The saddest fact was that she was the most learned of any of the survivors at the camp. She still mourned the loss of her beloved motorcycle that had been sidelined in the last encounter with marauders. She chose to just focus on getting to the hamlet of Brockton , trading salvaged ore for staples, and then returning to the camp before nightfall. She did decide that she had enough time if the trade went well for a cup of decent coffee at the small diner still in business ; often that was the highlight of her week. As was her usual habit, she cursed those who had decided that just because she was bright, courageous, and possessed a will of steel she should take ultimate responsibility for rescuing survivors and planning their escape north of the wall to freedom in Siochain. She knew for a fact that it was more than any twenty-year-old should have to tolerate. Her sobering argument was that if she did not she would likely die ; she had no time for that just yet. As she neared the small village, she saw a figure walking along the side of the road ; when closing in she noticed she was a blonde woman looking not much older than Morgan. She knew she was not a marauder as it was still midday. She slowed and then stopped, motioning to the woman to get into the vehicle which she did. She was exceedingly dirty but looked in very good health and still strong despite the everyday lack of food for anyone walking on two legs. Morgan Downhey introduced herself , t elling her passenger she was welcome to travel to the village with her if she chose. The woman remained silent ; finally Morgan asked her if she heard and if she had a name. The woman replied that t she heard and her name was Breagh. When Morgan politely asked about a second name, Breagh replied that she only needed one name it was just easier to remember that way. As they approached Brockton , Breagh asked if there was any place to get a decent cup of coffee as she had been in withdrawal for days. Morgan told her about the diner , mention ing there were no free cups ever. Breagh stated she had money ; she would never ask for charity, never had. She said she always made her own way , always would. Morgan stopped the vehicle at the trader's establishment , telling Breagh if she waited they could both get a decent cup of coffee. Breagh nodded her head as she headed for a water hose attached to the side of the building while Morgan entered through the front door. Breagh turned the tap and used the hose to wash her face, wet her dust-covered hair, and clean her arms and hands. Morgan returned , taking the vehicle to a fuel pump. She filled the gas tank and two portable tanks before motioning to Breagh to join her. Morgan smiled for a moment when she saw a somewhat cleaner woman walking toward her. Breagh returned the grin and climbed back into the vehicle. Morgan drove to the other end of the only street in Brockton ; both women walked to the diner. Breagh asked if she could buy a meal as well to which Morgan replied she could but she would pay huge coins and the food was suspect on a good day. She said if she was hungry she could come back to the camp with Morgan after they had coffee to eat with the survivors there. Breagh accepted , stat ing that she would help to provide some provisions if any were for sale.

Over coffee, Morgan had a chance to size up this stranger. She was a quiet type but there was underlying steel will similar to her own. She knew better than to press for details about Breagh's arriva l, ke eping the conversation to small talk. Morgan did ask if she had encountered marauders in her travels , warn ing that it was not advisable to journey alone once twilight fell. Breagh told her she had seen other people, some of them Military personnel, but had managed to stay out of sight. She remarked that she was not all that concerned as she was still a pretty good draw with a pretty good aim. Morgan's eyes widened but only slightly but just for a moment. She inwardly smiled a s she decided that this one just might be a keeper. When they left the diner, Breagh inquired as to where they could purchase food to which Morgan laughed , t elling her nowhere within traveling distance. She did tell her new friend they had provisions at the camp ; she was welcome to partake as were all who joined them. As they were traveling back to the safely of the encampment in daylight, Breagh noticed pastures in the distance with cattle and inquired of Morgan who owned them. Morgan replied that they were animals owned by members of The Decision for their use and for the Military. Breagh asked that Morgan slow the speed of the vehicle in order to get a better look at the animals a s well as the terrain. She asked about security and Morgan laughed telling her new friend that there was no need for security. She said that any survivors had been starved and beaten down sufficiently to never entertain the notion of insurrection. Breagh's only reply was "Yet". Morgan raised intrigued eyebrows , decid ing that this definitely was a keeper.

They approached the encampment along a winding dirt road through a dense tract of forest. In a clearing was a large building, a former vacation resort for those who were fortunate enough to be able to escape the drudgery of their lives. It had long been abandoned but was seclude d. Before the owners finally departed, they installed wind towers and solar panels to offset the escalating cost of fossil fuel. The y had also built a small airstrip for those wealthy patrons who could fly their own aircraft to a secluded vacation. There were several outbuildings ; just beyond the former lodge was a small lake fed by mountain glaciers. Morgan stopped the vehicle near one of the outbuildings and carried the porta ble fuel tanks inside where she locked them securely in a steel enclosure. Several women were chopping wood and carrying it to another enclosure attacked to the main building. Morgan introduced Breagh to those women and children they met as they walked to the lodge. Morgan told Breagh she was welcome to join them in about an hour for food such that it was. Breagh thanked her , ask ing if there was a shower available as well as perhaps clothing to borrow until she could wash her own. Morgan showed her an outdoor shower with water warmed by the afternoon sun. She returned with jeans and a shirt of her own , offer ing them to Breagh. She said she could add her dirty clothing to the pile that they laundered every day using an antique washing machine still fueled by fossil fuel. Morgan explained that they did not know how to convert to batteries or how to charge the batteries still on site, those most likely used at one time by the lodge owners. Breagh said she would take a look the following morning to see if she could get them working again. She offered that could be payment for the food and lodging she would be using.

Breagh returned to the main room of the lodge after a shower in the clothing borrowed from Morgan. Morgan did a double take as she saw a very handsome woman walk to greet her again. She laughe d, telling her new friend that she cleaned up well indeed. Breagh smiled, replying that there were few things she disliked more than being dirty but her life on the road of late had not lent itself well to bathing. A fire blazed in a huge fireplace ; there was a very large pot of stew almost ready to consume. The stew consisted mostly of root vegetables and sparse venison but it was tasty and filling. About twenty survivors, all women and children, gathered to take their only real meal of the day. As the sun was setting, dark fabric was drawn over windows ; all lights save for the fire and two lanterns were extinguished. Morgan explained that they had been invaded on several occasions by marauders, in two raids survivors had died. Breagh understood that the marauders were only desperate, hungry humans barely alive and attempting to stay so by any means available. Their only advantage was their regular use of weapons, mainly guns.

There was stirring in the yard beyond the lodge ; the women gathered the children to hurr y them to the second floor. Morgan took a lantern and sighed that it looked like they were being invaded again ~ there was little food to exchange for life. Breagh followed Morgan to the door ; as she crossed the threshold she drew a loaded pistol from a leg holster. Morgan took a step back and drew in her breath. Breagh gave her a look of reassurance, telling her she was not one of them. Breagh stood beside Morgan with her hands behind her back as Morgan spoke to the small group of men and women. They demanded what food the encampment had stored , Morgan replied she had women and children of her own to feed. The youngest man of the group screamed at her as he made demands agai n; as he did , he drew a gun from beneath his shirt. He was about to fire when the pistol leapt out of his hands , land ing far enough away for Breagh to stride to it and kick it out of his reach. She kept her own pistol aimed at him , quietly suggest ing to all of them that if they wanted their leader to remain sucking air they needed to forfeit any other weapons and all the ammunition. An older woman came forth with a shotgun from beneath her apron , dropping it and shells onto the ground. Another youth dropped a pistol and bullets. Breagh walked up to the leader, cocked her pistol again, and held it at his temple. She then quietly asked the group if there were other bullets and if so to give them up now or prepare to dig a grave. Morgan walked to the leader , t aking another pistol and boxes of bullets from his side pack. She then searched all the others including checking for leg holsters. Morgan then walked to the main house , return ing with containers of the remaining stew, utensil s; she told the group to eat, leave, and not return as the next time they would not be the ones with the bullets, something about which they needed to be very mindful. Morgan and Breagh stood outside the lodge until the group had straggled down the dirt road out of view.

Breagh asked Morgan if she knew how to use a weapon ; Morgan replied not well. Breagh told her lessons would begin the following morning ; both women returned to the lodge. Morgan showed Breagh to an empty room with a bed on the first floor. None of the survivors dwelt in the upper stories as it was too difficult to heat the room s. It was also easier to insure safety if everyone was in fairly close proximity. Breagh did not make comment as she closed the door to her room and lay down on a hard mattress that felt like a luxury after weeks of sleeping on the ground.

Breagh woke the following morning to join a few early risers in the main room. She asked if they were egg shells and coffee; one of the women returned with both. Breagh rummaged around in the former kitchen , f inding an old but serviceable coffee pot. She put a pot of coffee on the coals and sat back to let it boil twice before removing the shells and grounds. She offered cups to her silent companions who accepted with grins. She took her own cup out of doors , wander ing to the outbuilding near the vehicle they had ridden the previous day. She went inside and found the injured ancient Harlie. After a brief exploration, she found enough tools, some usable grease, and set about repairing the overland vehicle. She repaired it to working condition but they would need to find the correct parts if it was to stay repaired. She then turned her attention to the Harlie ; she had it apart, almost repaired, back together when Morgan entered the building to ask her what the hell she thought she was doing. Breagh didn't bother to look up or answer the question. She threw keys at Morgan , t elling her to start her vehicle. It started well and ran quietly. Morgan was quiet as Breagh finished work on the Harlie. It would still need to have dents pounded out and the tires patched but when Breagh turned the key it started with the gears and brakes all in order. She then cleaned the tools well , return ing them to a workbench along with the grease. She then asked Morgan if she had any other questions. Breagh returned to the main house and made another pot of coffee after showing several of the women how to accomplish that.

Later on that morning, Breagh returned from a drive along the side road with rabbits. She asked if any of the women knew how to skin them, if so to get to it, and then roast them for dinner. She and Morgan then had the first of a few necessary shooting lessons. Breagh gave Morgan her leg holster and used a shoulder holster herself. She told Morgan except for the shower she would now wear that and pack a loaded pistol at all times. Morgan asked if that included when she was asleep. Breagh replied that the gun then went underneath the pillo w . In the afternoon hours, Breagh investigated the batteries that had not been used for years. She decided that they could be repaired but it would likely make more sense to get new ones. Morgan asked she expected some to drop out of the sky. Breagh smiled as she told her that they would steal them. She also said they would steal cattle, horses, vehicles, and helicopters. She reminded Morgan that their first initiative was to feed the women and children living with them ; then teach them to fight back as if they chose to breathe then they chose to fight, even if they were not aware of that fact yet.

Everyone enjoyed a veritable feast of roasted rabbit and vegetables for dinner. After dinner Breagh returned to the yard ; after a few moments Morgan joined her. She was becoming increasingly curious about this woman who obviously had chosen to remain with them. Breagh was not yet about to reveal any more details of her identify ; instead she asked Morgan questions about the Military base not too distant from the encampment. Morgan replied that it was medium sized but understaffed as most soldiers were dispatched to the heavily populated areas to quell uprisings and kill those who dared to disagree with the bastards who had taken power. She told Breagh that the commander was young and inexperienced. As such, there did not seem to be much discipline or organization among them. Breagh thanked the ancients out loud. Morgan had a very brief inkling of being drawn down in her soul but the notion was only fleeting. Breagh asked if the Military used batteries generated by solar and wind power. Morgan explained that The Decision had mandated that all public establishments use only renewable resources as much as possible. Breagh then informed Morgan that they were going to steal batteries. She asked if there were women who could drive and would be brave enough to do so. Morgan knew there were a few ; two in particular who she knew could pull it off. Morgan did mention that the only large overland vehicle was in need of repair; Breagh smiled as she told her friend that it was running and fueled. Breagh said they would need to make several raids but it should not be too difficult, stating that after all there were only young men running in the show at the base. Breagh decided they would make the first raid in three nights' time, once the moon had phased past full.

On the night of the first raid, Breagh road the Harlie along the abandoned road leading to the rear of the Military base followed by Morgan, Cora, and Frannie in the large overland vehicle. Be fore reaching the final stretch of straight road, Breagh motioned to cut the lights on the vehicle and to proceed following her hand lantern. Breagh walked a length of fence until she found a sensor ; with ease she shorted it beyond repair. She then returned to the end of the road and using snips cut through the fence allowing an opening. She had already instructed Morgan to drive the vehicle through the opening. She then told Frannie and Cora to keep watch as Morgan and Breagh ran along the fence to the outbuildings of the base and then to a storage area. She motioned to Morgan to return for the vehicle and the Harlie. Frannie and Cora backed the vehicle to the backdoor of the storage shed ; all four women loaded as many batteries as they could find. She told both women to return quickly to the encampment and to hide the vehicle well in one of the outbuildings. She and Morgan then entered another storage building , fill ing packs with bullets. Once through the opening in the fence, Breagh dismounted the bike and wired the fence opening back together such that unless on e looked closely one would never see that it had been cut.

The Harlie rolled into the encampment past 0400 hours just as the eastern sky was persuading the sun to grace Mother with light once again. Breagh and Morgan locked the ammunition in a steel enclosure within one of the outbuildings , check ing to see that the overland vehicle had been parked. She then grinned, hugged her partner in crime, and both women returned to the lodge to get some sleep. Morgan still had no idea who her new friend really was but she was beginning to think she just might have dropped from the sky.

Breagh was back working by 0900, this time joined by Frannie who asked if she could learn how to use the rechargeable batteries they had expropriated. Breagh and Morgan were delighted that another survivor had chosen to buy into the fight , kn owing that others would as courage called their names. Both women inspected the mechanics of the wind towers and solar panels; Breagh was happy that the only maintenance would be a good cleaning and lubricating. Those tasks were complete by midday. The batteries were then set to charging for the next twenty-four hours.

Morgan continued with target practice ; Breagh told her she had a natural talent for destruction when needed. After dinner on the second day from the expropriation, Breagh wandered down to the old dock beside the lake. Morgan joined her a few minutes later ; both women were silent as twilight claimed the sky. Breagh told Morgan that needed to scout out the area for a decent area to enclose pastures. Morgan said that would not be a chore as there was an abandoned farm adjacent to the lodge property. She said the fences would need repairing but that would not be too great a task ; she would personally make sure that a crew started on in the following day. The conversation, of course, begged the question as to why they would put forth the effort. Breagh told Morgan that they were about to expropriate some cattle. She also said that if there was an abandoned farm there would be an abandoned barn and granary which had to be a sign that the change of ownership was meant to happen. Morgan laughed, telling Breagh that it seemed that she had lit a fire under Frannie and her friends as they were all wanting to learn how to repair things now. Breagh replied that she had just begun.

On their return to the lodge, Breagh asked about whether or not any of the survivors had been vaccinated, thereby prolonging life and insuring lack of disease. Morgan said that none had been as far as she knew; the vaccine had to be smuggled if wanted. Breagh told Morgan that would be the next major project. She told her that they both were now responsible for the lives of many survivors ; they could not become ill or age quickly as the task was huge. Breagh told Morgan she never wanted children and so the issue of sterility was not a problem. She told Morgan that if she considered motherhood not to take the vaccine. Morgan quickly told Breagh that children would never be a part of her future. With those words, there was a strange tug at her heart but only briefly ; Morgan dismissed it as conditioning only. Breagh asked about how to procure vaccine. Morgan told her that the trader in Brockton had limited supplies and would charge significantly for them. Breagh once again grinned , repl ying that was always negotiable.

Chapter 2

Breagh and Morgan travelled to the abandoned farm early the next day , return ing with a plan to mend fences for two pastures. Some of the woman grumbled about having to work to prepare for more work. Breagh quietly asked all of them if they preferred eating or starving to death as if they chose the former they would work for it ; they would all work and fight back. She stated she did not know there was another option. Past midday, the two women drove to the hamlet of Brockton with another supply of salvaged silver ore to trade for decent vehicle grease, nails, nuts, bolts, and as much vaccine as they could procure. The trader was used to trading with advantage over all the inhabitants of the area including Morgan. He had not met Breagh until that day ; his business plan was going to take an adjustment. When Breagh rose to her full height and swagger, she could command some attention. She did not introduce herself to the trader , only stat ing her requirements after Morgan had traded for the grease and hardware. He smirked a s he told Breagh that it would cost her dearly and wanted to see proof she could pay before he went to the bother of returning with the vaccine. Breagh instantly drew her pistol from beneath a jacket she had borrowed from Morgan. She took a bead on the trader's head , ask ing if that was sufficient proof. He gulped, smirked again, and backed up followed by Breagh into the roo m to the rear. He went to a small cooler , t aking out ten doses of the vaccine. Breagh remained silent but motioned to him to return to the counter. She kept the gun leveled at the man's forehead while she asked Morgan to take the syringes and place them in Breagh's pack. She then told Morgan to bring out a leather pouch and asked that she place sufficient cash certificates on the counter. The man's eyes widened as he saw the funds and then smiled. Breagh reminded him that they would need to continue to do business in the future ; she had no problem killing him if he did not cooperate fairly. She also told him to put the shotgun under the counter in plain view. She told Morgan to grab it and back out of the building. Once both women were in the vehicle, Breagh threw the gun back on the ground near the door of the trader's building before t elling Morgan to drive back to the camp. Morgan was quiet before question ing Breagh's sanity for aggravating the trader as she had. Breagh replied that the trader just met a match ; he would continue to trade with both of them. She thought to herself that in time this man would join them in their efforts to fight back although he would need some further serious persuasion.

After dinner, Breagh met with all the survivors , explain ing that they had purchased vaccine enough for ten injections. She explained the expected temporary reaction a s well as the long term side effects, that only of permanent sterility. She told them that she and Morgan had chosen to take the injection themselves ; the rest of the syringes would be kept under secure locks until such time as others chose to receive it. She asked how the fence repair was progressing. Cora and Judith both reported that they expected to be finished in two days. Judith shyly asked if she could help care for the animals as she had been raised on a farm and still loved the work. Breagh hugged the woman with relief, replying to her they would all be very grateful if she took that responsibility. Some of the younger women were recruited to build a better shelter for the fowl now running amok all over the encampment. Morgan asked Judith if she would oversee that as well ; Judith happily agreed.

Breagh told Morgan she would take the vaccine first , express ing her great hope that Morgan knew how to give an injection. Morgan replied that her grandfather had needed daily injections for months prior to his death ; she was much practiced. Breagh reminded Morgan that she would likely need a day of rest afterwards but she should be able to return to a light routine the day following. Morgan said she understood ; with that , Breagh asked her to come with her to her room so as to get the deed done.

Breagh did take a day to sleep the following day. She was not ill but just very tired and listless. Morgan brought food to her in her room and helped her to a shower with warm water, now in good supply due to batteries used to fuel the water heaters. Breagh had no shyness whatsoever as she allowed Morgan to help dry her naked body and dress in clean clothing. When they returned to her room, Breagh hugged her friend in thanks for taking good care of her. She promised she would return the favor when Morgan chose the day of her vaccination. Morgan decided she would wait for another few days until Breagh's full strength had returned. By nightfall the following day, Breagh's energy had returned to norma l; she joined her friends before the hearth for dinner. Cora reported that the fences were all repaired. Breagh asked if there were windows in the outbuildings and abandoned dwelling. Cora replied that she had seen some glass. Breagh asked her to take a crew to bring every usable pane back to the camp. She explained the basics of greenhouses and how they could grow food for themselves eventually all year round. She said when Morgan had recovered from her vaccination they planned to travel to the farm to start salvaging as much lumber as they could.

In five days' time, Breagh vaccinated Morgan , apologiz ing for the lack of finesse with her technique . She only had experience in vaccinating cattle and not humans. Morgan laughed , stating she had done just fine. Morgan reacted as was expected and spent a full day in bed sleeping. Breagh checked on her several times and brought hot food. She then offered to help Morgan with a shower, telling her she would feel much better for it. Morgan rose to s it on a bench in her room while Breagh changed her linens. Both women walked to the indoor shower and Breagh stood just outside the door while Morgan stood under warm water. She emerged minutes later wrapped in a tow el; when Breagh offered to help her dry and dress, Morgan blushed slightly , replying she would be more comfortable doing that by herself. Morgan did not yet have the courage to admit that she might not be able to contain herself if Breagh touched her, especially naked.

Two days later, both women were back to normal with no residual sequelae from the vaccine. Breagh asked Morgan to accompany her to the abandoned farm. They had driven the large overland vehicle with a view to salvaging lumbar. Several young women volunteered to help ; the aid was quickly accepted. There was enough material to fill the vehicle several times over ; after four trips in one day everyone was tired but happy with their progress. Breagh said that she thought one more day would finish the task ; all the young women agreed to join the work again in the morrow. Breagh and Morgan discussed the next raid on the Military base for more batteries and ammunition. Breagh said she wanted to have a look at the vehicles and perhaps at the helicopters. When Morgan asked how she thought she was going to get a helicopter off the base . Breagh replied that she would fly it out. Morgan asked with some surprise if she was a pilot; Breagh replied that she was a damn good one. After some moments of silence, Morgan asked how they would fly a helicopter off the base without someone noticing. Breagh replied that they would distract the boys with a bit of a fire ; with the confusion they would simply leave. Morgan shook her h ead; she didn't bother asking any more questions. She assumed she would be told when the time came.

A few nights later after dinner, Judith stated she had seen a small apiary at the abandoned farm . She was sure there were some bees still alive and producing honey. She inquired as to whether her sisters wanted to help harvest and repair the hives. Nobody answered immediately to which Judith replied that bees were not harmful if treated with respect and smoke. She said that she had grown up with bees as honey was their only source of sugar which made life a whole lot happier. Many older women nodded with memories. Frannie spoke up , telling Judith that she would help. With Frannie's courage, other women also volunteered. Breagh smiled as she finally saw empowerment being born and starting to thrive. Morgan was still surprised but delighted.

Subsequent visits to the trader went well with much more respect. Breagh was pleasant but firm with the man who finally understood there was no point in trying to bully this woman. She paid or traded fairly for everything she took ; that was all he really wanted in the end. On one trip, she asked where she could find a substantial supply of coffee. The trader replied that his only source was the Military base and the resourcefulness of some of the staff there.

On the night of a new moon in the eighth month of the New Year, Morgan, Breagh, Frannie, Cora, and Judith drove a back road to a closed pasture on the farm Breagh has spotted much earlier. She managed to short out the alarmed fence easily and then simply broke the gate and drove the large overland vehicle though the opening. They easily loaded four beef cattle and two dairy cows along with a young bull. Judith was wonderful in her manner with the animals ; Breagh smiled as she told Morgan this one was definitely a keeper. They returned to the abandoned farm by dawn . The cattle were comfortable once again with new grass to eat and abundant clean water from a cold mountain stream. Both Breagh and Judith knew the beef cattle could withstand significant winter temperatures but the dairy herd would need shelter. The next building project would be to insulate a winter space for all the animals. Judith said she did not think it would take too much work or materials , asking if she could recruit some of her sisters. Breagh took the woman's hands, telling her that this was her home now as much as anyone's ; she was doing wonderful work to insure survival for all of them. Judith flushed with pleasure at the compliment . Another dream was born. Morgan did not know yet who to thank but she knew with absolute certainty that Breagh had been given to all of them.

Breagh often wandered to the lake after the dinner hour . In the last part of the eighth month of the New Year , the sun dipped low behind mountains earlier. This was the one place where Breagh could reach down to her ancients to find comfort in the words of the grandfather Noshi. She had only a brief recollection of her time back at Naofa with no memory as of yet of her former life save for knowing that it had been only a short earth time previously. Noshi had given her the name Breagh to use ; she knew it was of certain significance but did not yet know why. She fully understood that she was a holy one, the priestess Briallen. She had been sent to help their beloved earthlings fight for what they held right and true in their lives. This journey had been walked repeatedly since Naofa spiraled on the helix, since the great division of the universe and the evil known as Olc. She asked Noshi often about the young woman Morgan, stating that she knew her or knew of her in her past. Noshi agreed that was true but it was up to Morgan to find herself and then reveal her true self to others as she chose.

When the night air chilled too close for comfort, Breagh returned to the main room of the lodge. Women were tending to children and readying themselves for sleep. Her eyes found Morgan rocking in a wooden chair. There were sudden, real tugs at her core . She smiled to herself as she recognized them easily. Breagh had been taken to women's lives countless times with each return to earth ; although she trusted the journey she was being led upon she still never really became accustomed to the newness of special women entering her world. Breagh was an old enough ancien t, Briallen an old priestess , to strongly suspect that Morgan was herself an ancient and very likely a priestess. Breagh also knew that only time would clarify those suspicions when they were needed. Morgan glanced up from the fire , instantly smil ing as she saw Breagh looking at her. If there had been daylight in the room, those gathered would have seen a slight blush cross Breagh's cheek.

In the third week of the ninth month of the New Year, Breagh, Morgan, Frannie, and Cora raided the Military base yet again. Breagh warned them that if possible she was going to take a vehicle, not a new one but one that could either be salvaged for parts or rebuilt. She had patiently been teaching all three of her companions the fine art of hot-wiring an ignitio n; with practice their speed would come. She also stated she wanted to have a look around at the aircraft available for expropriation. The raid went well and swiftly. Ammunition and several more weapons were removed. Breagh found an overland vehicle in reasonable repair ; in less than a minute the ignition was started and all four women were back to the side road. Breagh once again closed and wired the gate so that from a distance a breach would never be noticed.

The small band of women and children were now working to prepare for the winter months. The barns had been insulated to house all the animals during the coldest temperatures. Hay and grain had been easily expropriated from the same farm where they found the animals. Breagh did warn, however, that self-directed harvest was needed for subsequent years. Judith agreed and stated she would be happy to lead a crew to that effect. Breagh also taught every able-bodied survivor at the camp to shoot weapons, both for protection and also for harvesting of deer for wintering over. With sufficient power generated by wind and the sun, the large freezers once used in the dining room at the former lodge were repaired and put back into service. Morgan and Breagh both taught all the youth to fish then clean and prepare their catches for immediate consumption or for the freezer. Over the summer months and into the autumn, a large abandoned garden was restored and readied for planting the following spring. Breagh did purchase seeds at the trading post for a reasonable amount of funds.

The lodge was inspected and insulated against the coming cold. Wood had been harvested throughout the yea r; there were also heaters now using battery power. Breagh was the first to move her sleeping quarters to the second floor, Morgan and a few other women without children also moved to more private and spacious accommodations. The small group of survivors was slowly taking back power over their lives ; permanent seeds of hope had been planted. No-one had any illusions about a continued struggle, especially over the cold winter months, but they had lived for two winters previously with less food and much more despair. Breagh found an old snow machine with skis still intact. She and Frannie took it apart, repaired it, and readied it for transportation to the barns some distance from the lodge. There was also a very old, rusted, and dented pl ow attachment for the large overland vehicle. Again, Breagh and Frannie spent days repairing it and then welding proper attachments to employ when the snows came. Once again, the trader had been persuaded to sell Breagh enough acetylene gas to suffice for welding tasks at the camp. Morgan purchased large amounts of flour and salt for the winter months along with as many cakes of yeast as seemed viable and unspoiled. Judith and her crew managed to harvest honey before readying the hives for wintering over. Wild apples were harvested and frozen as were all other vegetables and herbs. Rennie was a mature woman but still had energy to spare and had assumed the position of camp laundress. Several young women moved the newer , now usable washing machines to a room close to the kitchen plumbing. One young woman laughed that she had been born to a house full of plumbers, watching her father, grandfather, brothers, and uncles over many years so the tasks of hooking water supplies came easy. Most of the survivors had rediscovered skills long abandoned along with hope for survival. Both assuredly were returning .

Everyone worked at the camp including the children. They had time to play and learn but it was imperative that they understood early in their lives not only to care for themselves but to share in the care of others. When the first snows fell, the camp was better prepared for winter than ever before. Breagh and Morgan made two more trips to Brockton to trade ore and wood for supplies including rust proof vehicle paint. The trader never asked of the use of those items they purchased, clearly telling himself with these women he did not want to know. Breagh also informed the man that she had no intention of living out the winter without coffee ; she would pay a fair price for his entire supply. She moved her jacket slightly just to show a hint of her shoulder holster mostly for motivation. He returned from the back room with four fifty-pound sacks and an old grinder in need of some love and oil. He told both women they might as well have it as the Military had their supplies for the winter and he supposed he would have more before the winter was done. Both women lugged all their supplies back to their vehicle and then returned to the camp.

There had been no further raids by marauders. Breagh suspected that most had died of starvation or disease. She gave down thanks to her ancients daily for her own wellbeing and that of all those at the camp. Frannie, Cora, and Judith along with five younger women had all requested vaccination which had been carried out without ill effects. Breagh and Morgan stated they intended to procure another supply in the spring for those who saw it as part of their futures. Once the hunt and harvest was completed and before heavy snowfalls, everyone worked on repairing a steel building large enough to serve as a hanger for aircraft. Breagh discussed a raid on Wintersday as the base would be quiet then with several personnel away visiting their families. She and Morgan discussed access to the base with snow on the ground . Both women felt that it still made more sense to use the already established access road and fence farther away from any buildings. The snow was not deep enough to cause concern for travel ; Frannie stated she grew up driving in worse conditions. All four women drove to the opening in the fence; Morgan and Breagh opened it and went through after which Frannie and Cora closed it again and returned to the camp. Frannie did not like the idea of leaving her friends without a backup driver but she also knew neither woman had the slightest intention of being caught. Breagh had a small pack with few tools. Morgan had a long section of worn rope in her small backpack. Both women ran to one of the supply sheds and carried containers of gasoline to the perimeter of two outbuildings. They poured the gasoline carefully and then ran to one of the smaller hangers containing one Peregrine helicopter. Breagh had a broad grin on her face as both women quietly used a small pushback tractor to move the aircraft to the tarmac just outside the hanger. They had not seen or heard any sign of guards but Breagh was not about to take a chance of any interruptions to their plans. In less than five minutes the aircraft was ready to become airborne. Morgan had placed the rope at the end of the tarmac and just before she boarded the aircraft she lit it with a small torch. Breagh watched intently until the first of timed fires due to gasoline pools burst forth and as smoke started to billow skyward, both women and the Peregrine were in the air flying back to the encampment. Morgan had not uttered a word and was wide-eyed. As they approached the landing pad and hanger at the camp, she remarked it looked like Breagh had done that before. Breagh grinned, told her a few times, told her she had taught others, and she would teach women at the camp as well. Morgan stated that none of them including her knew how to fly any type of aircraft. Breagh's only reply was "Yet". Frannie and Cora were beaming as Breagh landed ; using a small overland vehicle they pushed the Peregrine into the hanger and locked it down tight. All the adults were still awake in the lodge waiting for the return of Breagh and Morgan ; when they entered the main room there was spontaneous applause. Morgan grinned a s she then fully realized that she had just stolen a large helicopter from a supposedly secure Military base.

Over the following week, portable heaters were moved to the hanger and the Peregrine was painted to remove any identification pertaining to the Military. Morgan helped Breagh , ask ing how she planned to fly the aircraft near the base without being noticed. Breagh replied that it could be done effortlessly. She said that their next expropriation would be a portable computer which would take some planning. Morgan told Breagh she did have some computer knowledge and training but still had doubts about removing one from under the nose of the staff at the base. Breagh was quiet for a moment and then reminded her friend that they had removed a large helicopter so she was quite certain they could remove a portable computer. She told Morgan that she had seen new unused ones in a storeroom not affected by the fire. When the heavy snows had passed they could make another raid for a computer and ammunition.

Chapter 3

The survivors lived out the cold and dark winter months without compromise. There was food and heat. Judith proved very knowledgeable in her care of the cattle ; in late winter new calves were born to healthy mothers. Plans were drawn to erect a greenhouse as soon as the snow melted and warmer weather returned. Carpentry skills were shared and taught. Over many winter nights before a warm fire, Breagh and Morgan talked of establishing safe routes and houses to bring survivors to the camp and then helping them escape north to Siochain. There was some initial disbelief and then concern for safety if they actively defied the rulers. Breagh reminded all of them that they had already defied the bastards by staying alive and every other survivor deserved that as a bare minimum. She explained that the ancients from Naofa were directing them ; if they all searched their souls even briefly they would understand that in themselves. Rennie spoke up to ask Breagh directly if she was an ancient, Breagh confirmed that she was. She did not tell the woman she was a priestess as that information was not needed at that moment. She told all the women that many of them were ancients even if they could not remember their time at Naofa previously. She looked directly at Morgan , instantly understanding that the young woman did not know she too had been sent back to help earthlings.

Winter sent down the last fury of ice, winds, and snow in the second week of the third month of the New Year just at the celebration of Ostermonat. Noshi had given Breagh greater gifts of memory, both of Naofa and of her previous life on earth in Siochain. She had vivid memories of women celebrating at Ostermonat at her home; she found great joy and peace with those memories. Ice prevented activity outside the lodge. Judith managed to make a foray to the barn to insure the wellbeing of the animals and to put out extra nourishment for them before the full fury of the storm. She mentioned to both Breagh and Morgan that it would be of great benefit to have sheep as the wool could be used as well as the meat. Breagh stated she had little knowledge of stealing sheep but surmised that it could not be any more difficult than cattle . When the spring nights returned , perhaps they could make another raid for horses and sheep. Judith's eyes shone with excitement ; Morgan grinned as she realized that another rebel was among them for keeps.

Breagh was lost in thought as she sat before the hearth and then felt Morgan's eyes on her. She glanced up see her friend smiling at her with just a glimpse of lust shining from green eyes. Breagh smiled back and at the same time felt about eight thousand years older than the young woman making her own designs on her. Breagh knew in her core that she only wanted women for lovers and had always through all her voyages on earth. She instinctively knew also that Morgan had not had a woman lover in her years back on earth. Morgan was beautiful, smart, funny, and could keep up, all necessary qualities if any woman was to survive being Breagh Maclippe's lover. Breagh thought but not for too long before she rose and motioned with her head to Morgan to follow her. Breagh took Morgan's hand as they ascended the staircase at the end of the hallway and climbed to the second floor. Breagh had taken a large bedroom in the former lodge with an accompanying bathroom and shower. A permanent heater powered by a battery kept the room comfortable for sleeping ; Breagh could increase the heat for showers when needed. Morgan had not been invited to Breagh's sleeping quarters previously . She was pleased but not surprised when she saw that it was kept in good order. Breagh switched on electric lamps and then lit candles and two lanterns. She increased the temperature for bathing and then turned off the electric lamps. The room was instantly bathed only in the soft light of lanterns and candle flames. Morgan had not spoken but had had not taken her eyes off Breagh as she moved about the room. Breagh turned and walked slowly towards the young woman, then gently held her head between her hands kissing Morgan initially softly and briefly. Morgan responded quickly with kisses of her own, increasingly long, hard, and full on Breagh's lips. Very familiar currents stirred at Breagh's core as she started to explore this young beauty's body. She led her to the bathroom and gently undressed Morgan who was trembling with her own not yet familiar electricity at her core. She undressed Breagh while whispering that she had no idea what she was doing but she wanted her more than she ever thought possible. Breagh smiled , telling her she was very aware of both. Under the warm water, Breagh began the lessons of loving a woman's body ; Morgan proved a very astute learner. It seemed a moot point that neither woman remembered leaving the shower and finding Breagh's bed as only mounting passion occupied them. Soft whispers grew to cries of love ringing among the mountains. A young woman sat up late with Frannie . Upon hearing Morgan's cries she jumped up, stating that the voice sounded like Morgan's. She started to go to the sounds when Frannie told her it was not hurt and that Morgan was probably better than she had ever been.

Breagh held a beautiful young woman who still glowed with tears coursing down her cheeks. Morgan had journeyed to a place not traversed previously in her few earth years. For brief minutes, she had connected to her ancients and would not ever again forget who she was. She propped up on one elbow, smiled, and quipped that she had just had even more fun than stealing a helicopter. With those words, Breagh Maclippe fell in love. Morgan was then gathered in a very experienced lover's arms and was told that that was just a lesson ; the real fun was about to start.

Breagh woke to full light of a stormy winter morning. She grabbed warm pants and a shirt before descending to the common room. Only a few women were gathered before the hearth. Breagh filled two coffee cups and as she turned she spotted Frannie grinning at her. Breagh returned the smile, acknowledged a wink as she returned to her room and a very beautiful young woman. Morgan was awake when Breagh returned to her room. She handed Morgan a cup of coffee, set her own down before removing her clothing once again and climbing into a warm bed. Morgan smiled and kissed Breagh before asking her if anyone had seen her getting the coffee. Breagh returned the smile as she knew the exact direction of the conversation. She first answered the question with a kiss , remind ing Morgan that they shared a camp with about twenty other women and children so it stood to reason that she had been seen. Breagh told Morgan there were a few women before the hearth, that she even got a wink and a grin from Frannie. Morgan was absolutely charming in a blush. Breagh laughed and kissed her young lover once again. She told Morgan that she had absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. She teased that there was nothing tattooed on her forehead or elsewhere indicating that she had a lover or was one. She also found a serious face with effort before asking Morgan if she really thought that every grown woman in the place slept alone every night. She said she had seen lovelights shine almost constantly as women were healthier and not starving. Morgan was quiet with widened eyes and again a lovely blush. Breagh could no longer resist and took the cup from Morgan's hands. The young woman's initial shyness had dissipated , replaced with blatant desire. While still able to think, Breagh decided that she was a very good teacher. Noshi smiled from Naof a, decid ing he would let Briallen away with that small bit of ego but none other would be tolerated.

Morgan finally acquiesced to hunger and rose to dress as did Breagh. It was almost midday and both women were famished. Morgan said she was going to have to pretend courage as she faced the others who she had led for months. Breagh gathered her in strong loving arms , kiss ing her with whispers of bravery. Both women put the room in order and left to descend the stairs to the common area. Breagh continued to hold Morgan's hand as they entered the common room to only smiles from knowing friends. Breagh drew Morgan close to her , kiss ing her briefly which caused another lovely blush and applause from their friends. Morgan finally understood that there was indeed nothing to be embarrassed about and everything about which to be happy.

By nightfall, the snow had ended with Mother's promise of the advent of spring and new growth. The following days all able-bodied survivors cleared snow. Judith and several women travelled to the barn to find all the animals well and safe. Beef cattle were put out of doors for as long as they chose while the dairy herd had hours of sun and fresh air but returned to shelter for the still cold nights. A young woman named Ella remembered days with her grandparents ; she and several other women tapped maple trees, gathered sap, and boiled it for syrup. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the treats with plans that the following spring there would be a concerted effort to tap more trees if possible. Both Morgan and Breagh instantly thought of the trading possible with the treats, both from maple syrup and from honey.

Breagh and Frannie were both anxious to finish painting the helicopter but chose patience for warm weather. Breagh worked on all the equipment to maintain for power generation, both from solar panels and the wind towers. Several women and youths worked at erecting a frame for the greenhouse to be used as soon as warm weather allowed installation of glass. Judith's crew hauled animal dung back to the camp to be mixed with earth and already composted vegetation. Morgan smiled, both with excitement and relief, as hope grew daily and survival more assured than ever before. Breagh fell into the age-old routine of teaching survivors, helping them find the talents and destinies within each of them. She walked daily herself with Noshi and her ancients, learning her own journey as it fell before her. She and Morgan grew in their friendship and lovership, each bringing their own passion to build with the other. Breagh teased Morgan as she would take her with wanton desire at any time during the day or night , in any place. Morgan was smart and brave, with great compassion even if she did try hard to hide that. Once she came to accept her own place as Breagh's lover, she celebrated that daily without shame. She often told Breagh that if others were offended they were not likely offended nearly enough. Both women were in love with each other ; that was just fine with their worlds.

Breagh met with the women at the camp to outline what she hoped would be plans for the next several months. Their first expropriations would be some sheep for Judith and a computer for the camp. She knew there were new unused ones in storage at the Military base ; since they had taken a helicopter a small portable computer should not prove too much of a challenge. She also said that she would look for coffee as if they ran out the camp would not be nearly as happy a place in which to cohabit. Morgan, Breagh, Frannie, and Cora chose to make the raid at the base during a spring overnight rain, all determining that none were made of sugar so none would melt with being wet. Breagh surmised that the already lax security would be even less if the soldiers had to walk about in the rain. The open space between the breach in the fence and the outbuildings was sodden and slippery. Morgan and Breagh approached as closely as they could on the Harlie and then entered the compound on foot. There was one lone guard making rounds ; when it was too late to hide Morgan , dropped him with one kick to his solar plexus. Breagh returned with sacs of coffee beans and a new computer. She quietly indicated to Morgan to pull out a bottle from her pack and then whispered to have her lover pour the remaining scotch all over the guard's head and upper torso such that he reeked of cheap booze. He was still very much unconscious as both women rode the Harlie back to Frannie and Cora. They offloaded their bounty and Breagh drove the Harlie back to the camp followed by the other three women in an overland vehicle. All four women were soaked ; there was no lingering as each wanted dry skin, hair, clothing, and a bed. Morgan still had a room in the lodge but spent all her nights with Breagh. Each woman undressed quickly and stood under a hot shower, more for warmth than for passion. Breagh asked her young friend where she had learned to attack as she did. Morgan smiled, explaining that she had graduated as a master in martial arts some years ago, having studied from early childhood. Breagh laughed, kissed her, asking to be reminded not to annoy her lover. Breagh, too, had martial arts skills, long learned and the memories of those lessons were returning quickly. She knew she had once lived on and near the northwestern coast, in what was now the country of Siochain. She also knew that she had been a warrior many times ; most recently at her last journey on earth. When warmed, both women crawled into warmed sheets and Breagh told Morgan of the revelations found in her memory. She said she was becoming aware of very strong connections with earthlings still living in Siochain, women and men who would come to them to help. Morgan had still no recollection of any former journeys she had made on earth but she did understand she was an ancient who had returned to help earthlings to survive. Breagh chose to not yet reveal to her young lover that she was a priestess but there would quickly come a time when she would need to be seen. Breagh asked Morgan if anyone in camp had any experience beyond rudimentary with computers , in particular hacking into existing programs without notice. Morgan replied that she had travelled to the camp with a woman about her age named Lynn who had talked of being trained as a programmer and analyst, loving both tasks, and then having the work taken from her as it was not considered a suitable occupation for any young women. She had been told that it required too much independent thought which was certainly not encouraged or rewarded by The Decision for women of any age. Morgan told Breagh that Lynn had become mired in anger ; as such , she had few friends in camp. Breagh was quiet for a few minutes before stat ing that they needed to direct that anger to the good of many who they would help to freedom. Morgan kissed distraction of thought into Breagh ; the plans for the future got put on hold while passion overtook both women. With each journey through passion Morgan took back to her ancients, she found more memories of a previous life among earthlings. She then told Breagh that she too knew she had once lived among her brothers and sisters in what was now Siochain but in a time when there were battles , much hardship , and loss of life. Noshi and Lohrissa allowed very brief and fleeting glimpses of Morgan's life with another woman, a strong leader and warrior. Morgan talked of these visions with Breagh, not with fear but with wonder as she slowly began the realization of a powerful and ancient soul walking in her young earth body. Breagh also continued to tell Morgan the realizations of her own past, both recent and some images from many centuries previously. Morgan asked Breagh if she knew of priests and priestesses and if she had met any. Breagh was quiet for some minutes before repl ying that she had met several priests and priestesses ; Morgan had met one in the present time. It took Morgan only seconds to comprehend what she had just been told. Briallen emerged with an aura of gold for only seconds as Morgan was spellbound. When she was able to find her voice again, she told Breagh that she had known from almost the beginning of their meeting that she was magic. Breagh asked if she was frightened and if her new knowledge impacted on how she felt about her lover. Morgan smiled and then laughed aloud. She replied that she knew Breagh had been gift to her from her ancients, a gift to all at the camp. She said it was going to take a lot more than one priestess around to change her mind or her love. At that moment, Noshi allowed Breagh to briefly see Iobairt, the priestess walking in Morgan's body. Breagh said nothing but there was a very special glow about her as she gathered her young lover in arms now wanting the woman with desire only directed by ancients. Breagh knew also that when it was the appropriate time, Noshi would allow Morgan to know Iobairt.

The following day, Morgan sought out Lynn , ask ing her to meet with both her and Breagh. Lynn knew of the acquisition of the computer but had not found the courage to ask to be involved with the work at hand using it. Breagh was her usual direct self as explained her immediate and then long term plans for the use of a satellite link. She remembered that Siochain had links availabl e; she asked Lynn if she could find the link and then access it without anyone in the Military or The Decision knowing. Lynn replied at first bitterly and then with a dawning hope that the bastards who had been trying to run the bunch of them were not at all adept ; breaching any systems would almost be child's play. She started a rant about how she had been removed as she was female and smart. Breagh stopped her in mid-sentence, looked at her directly in the eye, telling her that she was only giving power to them with her anger; she was too smart and too strong to give anything to those who had taken from her previously. She told her that she was needed at the camp and even more by all those survivors who they would lead to freedom. Morgan had been silent to this point in the conversation and then interjected that from the present moment forward they expected Lynn to commit her mind, her spirit, and her attitude to fighting back. She repeated what Breagh had said often, that if she was breathing she was fighting back as they all were. Lynn was silent with a scowl on her face for a few minutes . She then stood, squared her shoulders, and told both women that they had best get started as they had a resistance to organize. The future was unfolding as it should.

With two days, Lynn had breached the Military's data base and found flight paths. With that data, Breagh and Lynn were able to devise their own flight plan north under the radar available at the base which was the most northern before the large lake and the northern wall. Breagh told both Lynn and Morgan that she intended to fly beyond the wall in order to establish contact with the free earthlings in Siochain. Morgan had a look of absolute terror on her face upon hearing the news. She knew she would not be invited to join her lover and she was very frightened of not having her return. Breagh held Morgan , telling her she had no intention of not returning. She said she knew of friends in the north, powerful ancients who would help them. She admonished Morgan gently while telling her that their only goal was to help the earthlings ; if she lost sight of that she was giving over power over to The Decision. A date for the flight had not been chosen as there were other data to retrieve prior to Breagh's landing at the Bennett Base, one they had learned was the central command for any battles south of the wall. Morgan asked how she would avoid being captured and taken prisoner as one of the evil ones living south of the border. Breagh told Morgan in Lynn 's presence that she had a very definite sign at her disposal.

Breagh told both Lynn and Morgan that the next task was to determine other enclaves of survivors if possible. She told both women it would be easier once they had help from the North but that they needed to start to build a fledgling network among themselves. She suggested that they talk to all the women at the camp to learn of their backgrounds and from where they had travelled. There could never be the slightest loss of hope that others were making their own attempts to stay alive ; with help they would all survive and take back what they had lost.

On a dark night, just before a new moon, Breagh, Morgan, Frannie, Cora, and Judith again travelled to one of the farms run by The Decision , easily help ing themselves to ewes and rams. Judith spotted a pair of older work horses, both docile. She easily led them to the vehicle with treats of carrots and a gentle voice coaxing. Morgan was convinced Judith too was a magic woman as she inherently understood animals ; they trusted her in return. Breagh constantly reminded Morgan that all women were magic; they simply had to find it within themselves.

Chapter 4

In the North, General Bennett called an emergency meeting with her senior officers at the Carriere Base as well as with Lieutenant Colonel Sean Taylor, Declan and Drew McDaniels. There had been more alarming reports of fighting by Military forces run by The Decision beyond the southern wall. Sterling and Amelia Carland reported escalated purging of certain portions of the population, mostly those who could not contribute to the monetary gains of a few wealthy men. Entire communities of same sex lovers had been openly tortured and murdered. Any earthling with any disability, either visible or invisible, was immediately killed as they were seen as leeches on the workers and more importantly The Decision. Women were forced to menial work while men were taken to labor camps as had been the history of Siochain before the battles and victory over The Decision in the North. Amanda Bennett, Lydia Stenns, Laura Ravencouer, Charles Smithson, Luther McBane, and Spero Tristan were powerful priestesses and priests who had constant visions and messages from Noshi about the atrocities carried out among their beloved earthlings in the South. The administration of Siochain understood well that the visions were the direction they must follow. The survivors of Siochain fought for their freedom and still remembered the hell they lived in before the victory. There was no doubt that they would help their brothers and sisters in the South in any capacity possible.

General Bennett, Lieutenant Generals Smithson, Stenns, and Ravencouer had all offered to resign their posts as they were very clear in their intention to lead assaults when called upon in the South. Declan McDaniels, the elected Chief Administrator for the country of Siochain, absolutely refused the resignations ; adamant that the people of Siochain stood by any decisions the holy ones felt necessary. They ultimately owed their lives and their freedom to all of them but particularly to the most high priestess Lohrissa, walking in the earthling body of Laura Ravencouer. She led them to victory while still a very young women in her twenties. Many had seen the magic of all the holy ones , also underst anding the need to fight the evil of Olc who had killed one of the holy ones in the recent past. No-one had yet put Barbara Maclippe far from their minds or memories. She had sacrificed her life in order to keep her soul, that of the priestess Briallen, from being taken to Olc, thereby insuring safely for all of them once more. All the holy ones knew they would soon meet Briallen again , communicat ing that to the earthlings who had no reason whatsoever to doubt them.

The Bennett Base was now ready to assume battle when called upon. Noshi and Lohrissa both directed Amanda, Laura, and Lydia to travel to that base as they would soon be needed there in the advent of a new fight. Lieutenant Generals Smithson and Lorimer were asked to keep command at the Carriere Base until their skills as pilots were needed. Colonel Clarissa Dempster, a young career Armed Forces officer, had been transferred to the Carriere Base from the Northwestern Harbor Base and was being taught skills to take command when all the other senior officers were away from Carriere.

All three women flew to the Bennett Base. All of the personnel had worked with these senior officers at the Carriere Base prior to being transferred to Bennett. A very young Captain Matthew Brandon and his wife assumed responsibility for the base when senior officers were not present. Matthew still taught settlers about Law and Security for the new settlements but not as often as his duties at Bennett took most of work time. Laura Ravencouer had originally taught him at the Carriere Base ; he knew all three senior officers quite well. He still stood in awe of all of them and although he was an ancient he did not know yet of their magic . That revelation was quickly forthcoming.

Drew and Annique McDaniels again noticed a breach of much more sophisticated communications system now in use in Siochain. Once again, as they had during the original battles, they both knew it was friendly ; Drew understood that it was direction from the ancients in preparation for yet another fight. He immediately reported the breach to Declan McDaniels and the commander-in-chief, General Amanda Bennett. All the holy ones understood immediately that their sisters and brothers in the South were making contact, the first step in reversing their plight. Only Lohrissa knew who was responsible.

At camp, Breagh, Morgan, and Lynn were making final plans for Breagh's flight north. She planned to leave and fly north of the wall in darkness, using only instruments and coordinates as guides. Lynn was not a pilot nor was Morgan but Lynn understood the programs very well ; Morgan had become very adept very quickly at maintaining communications. The night before her departure, Breagh took Morgan to their room early after dinner. Breagh knew that Morgan was still terrified that her lover would not return although she had not spoken of it since Breagh's initial scolding. Both women stood in each other's arm on the balcony outside their room and watched the sun reluctantly give up light to the mountain tops with blazes of gold and ruby. Morgan whispered that she loved Breagh and would forever. She told her she understood she must share her with the world and most importantly with those they were chosen to lead. Breagh kissed her , telling her she was very much loved in return. Breagh told her that she would return and she would bring help. Under a warm shower, Breagh whispered that Morgan must hold fast and hold tight as she would be loved now by a priestess and meet another one. Morgan was silent as Breagh led her to their bed and kissed her. Morgan lost all sense of self and of time as she was taken to pinnacles each higher. She heard the cries of a priestess and met Iobairt in her soul. As Briallen and Iobairt found the depth of the other, Lemanychia and Lohrissa sent blessings to those they too had loved and would again. Earth hours later, Morgan looked into Breagh's eyes with wonder and question as to whether or not her experience had really happened. Breagh cradled her lover with wonder herself as she had been loved by a priestess once again, an old and familiar journey but at the same time new with each woman. She caressed her lover , telling her that indeed they had both been loved by priestesses, a gift from the ancients. Breagh then told Morgan about Lohrissa and Laura Ravencouer, the earthling with whom the most ancient high priestess walked. Breagh then remembered Lemanychia. She caught her breath as tears rolled down her cheeks. Morgan drew back with genuine concern as she had not seen Breagh cry before. She kissed tears from Breagh's cheeks as Breagh told her about Lemanychia, the woman Lydia , Laura, Amanda, and the priestess Aine. She also told her about living on the ranch, of being a pilot, of fighting in the battles. Finally, she told her that her earth name used to be Barbara ; it was likely that it would become Barbara again very soon. Barbara had been an author and used the pen name Breagh. Breagh was going to the Bennett Base in the morrow to meet Amanda, Laura, and Lydia . Morgan asked if they would know her ; Breagh replied she was quite sure they would especially after she tipped the tail of the helicopter. She explained that until she had taught Laura she was the only pilot who knew how to do that and it was very much her signature.

Breagh drifted off to sleep while Morgan rose, dressed, and stood on the balcony to watch the dawn. She smiled at the irony of her initial wishes for just a mechanic. She got the mechanic and entry into another entire world as well. She could barely comprehend that Morgan Downhey was not only an ancient but a holy woman walked in her body. She drew down to her ancients and saw Noshi smiling back at her. The grandfather told of the ancient Iobairt, one who had been a great warrior almost since the beginning of Naofa. He also told her of the earthling Lindsay who had lived in Siochain during the time of the battles. She learned that Lindsay was a physician , sav ing the lives of many women and children. She also learned of Lindsay's work with another woman, a chemist named Justine Carland. Together they had discovered how to reverse the effects of the vaccine given to all earthlings by The Decision. The vaccine had rendered all those who received it sterile . Lindsay had taken the experimental drug to reverse the effects, had conceived a child, and had died in childbirth of a child grown too large in a small mother's body. Because of that experience, Justine had been able to adjust the dose of the drug to reverse sterility and now the earthlings in Siochain were bearing children again. Lindsay Reynolds was a beloved heroine to her peers and would remain so throughout the earthlings' history. When Lindsay was taken back to Naofa, she had been anointed as the priestess Iobairt in honor of her great sacrifice. Morgan was entranced as Breagh came up behind her to gather her young lover in her arms. Breagh brought coffee back to their room . Both women returned to their bed to try to comprehend the events of the last twelve hours. Morgan told Breagh what she had been told by Noshi. Breagh replied that she had not met Lindsay Reynolds but knew of her and her great gift to the future. She told Morgan that Lindsay had been Laura Ravencouer's lover during the battles when Laura believed that Amanda Bennett was dead, a decided plan by the ancients to keep Laura focused on leading survivors and insuring victory. Morgan mused that her simple life as a stubborn young leader with an attitude just simply paled by what she had been told. Breagh grinne d, telling her she had seen absolutely nothing yet. Neither woman wanted to leave the other; it was late into the morning when they joined the others in the camp. Everyone was excited and apprehensive about Breagh flying north. She asked everyone to join her around the fire briefly before she prepared for flight. She told them that she was going to find help and that she would return. She also told them that the fight back was about to escalate . They would likely be led by many powerful women including Laura Ravencouer. There was a gasp and a hush before Judith asked if she meant "the" Laura Ravencouer, the legendary leader of the Resistance in the North . Breagh smiled a s she told them that she indeed meant that woman. She also informed everyone that she would return likely using the name Barbara as that is how she was known by her friends previously. She did tell everyone that Barbara Maclippe was a writer and had used the name Breagh as a pen name. She said she suspected that is why she was given that name when she returned to earth once again. No-one in the camp doubted from that moment on that their futures were about to change dramatically and permanently.

Breagh ran a preflight check list twice ; both she and Frannie tested extra batteries several times. Just before boarding, Breagh gathered Morgan in her arms, not caring if the entire camp was looking on. She kissed her lover long, hard, and full on the mouth ; the crowd gasped as both women shone with auras of gold and jade. Both women told the other of the love they shared and the promise of futures together. With that, Breagh Maclippe was airborne.

The helicopter flew north without notice and above the wall into the free land of Siochain. Breagh had to use much discipline to fight back tears as she realized she was flying to the home she remembered. She continued her journey west and at dawn's first light she approached the Bennett Base. Noshi awakened Amanda, Laura, and Lydia , directing them to the tarmac and the eastern sky. As Breagh approached the base she started a descent and when she made the first pass over the tarmac she tipped the tail of the helicopter and then flogged around to land. All three women were weeping ; Lydia Stenns ran to the helicopter to take Barbara Maclippe her in arms. There were several armed personnel prepared to take an unannounced pilot into custody until they saw Lieutenant General Stenns running towards her. Breagh became Barbara Maclippe who disembarked from the cockpit after a post flight check. She immediately remembered the beautiful Lydia . Barbara did not realize that she bore a close resemblance to her former self. Both women simply stood gazing at the other for what seemed like an eternity before Barbara gathered Lydia in her strong arms and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth. With tears coursing down her cheeks, Lydia quipped that at least Barbara had not forgotten how. Barbara reassured her with a whisper that she had not forgotten many things. Amanda and Laura had not interrupted the greeting thus far . Both started to walk towards their friends as Barbara looked up, recognized them, and smiled. Laura then broke into a run , gathered Barbara in her arms, hugged her, and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth even before speaking. Barbara was initially surprised ; Lydia quietly told her that there had been a few changes she probably needed to know about. Barbara smile , telling all three women that knowing them there was absolutely nothing that would surprise her. Amanda was beaming with her own tears as she too gathered Barbara in her arms and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth. Then, Barbara knew there were some very definite but very pleasant changes. The ground crew did not dare move towards the officers, the visitor, or the aircraft. Finally, Barbara asked if there was any chance of food and coffee as she was tired and famished. Lydia took Barbara's hand , leading her to the dining room with Amanda and Laura following. Lydia could not take her eyes off Barbara and only let loose her hand to allow Barbara to eat. There was still a look of almost disbelief on Lydia 's face although Lemanychia knew well of the magic of Naofa, the priests, and priestesses. There seemed like a lifetime of stories to tell Barbara but she knew her priestess was tired, needed sleep, and then they all needed to meet as it was well understood that Barbara had come from the South. This was not a social call.

When Barbara had taken food and coffee, she asked Lydia if she could find a shower and a bed for her. Lydia told her that she could share the quarters she had been given at the Bennett Base , taking her hand to lead her there. Barbara quipped that the divine Lydia Stenns was still all about getting women into her bed. Lydia actually blushed as both Laura and Amanda smiled with lovelights showing. Barbara was not entirely certain of the meaning of the blush and the smiles but knew that in the hours to come her life would change yet again. She suddenly felt a great longing to hold Morgan and asked to use a computer if possible for a personal message. Lydia told her that was one at her disposal always in her room ; she could use it as soon as they were there. Amanda told Lydia to take the time she needed; that she and Laura would take command of the base until such time as they met again with Barbara, perhaps later that day.

Once in Lydia 's quarters, Barbara send a message to Morgan and Lynn telling them that she had arrived safely without incident; she was not taken prisoner. She told both women she was about to get some sleep and then she would have the first of many meetings with the officers at the Bennett Base. She then sent a private message to Morgan, telling her that she ached for her, missed her, and promised she would return to take her again to the ancients and the multiverse. Barbara asked Lydia if she could also receive messages without problem ; Lydia reassured her that she could indeed. Barbara told Morgan to let her know of the day at the camp and once again that she was loved. Barbara sighed as she sent the last message. Lydia immediately understood the sigh , quietly ask ing her if she was in love. Barbara said she was with a wonderful young woman, Morgan, a beauty in whose body Iobairt walked. She told Lydia that Morgan had returned to earth from Naofa. With the mention of Iobairt , Lydia immediately knew the priestes s, thinking that life was just about to get even more complicated than it had previously. Barbara showered quickly and came back to crawl in between sheets wearing one of Lydia 's sleep shirts. She asked Lydia to sit beside her on the bed before gather ing her in arms full of memories and love. She kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth , ask ing that her former and soon to be renewed lover to wake her in about four hours. Lydia was sobbing once again as she watched her former lover, the priestess Briallen who she would love through eternity, drifted off to sleep.

Amanda notified Charlie Smithson and Luther McBane that Barbara Maclippe had returned to the Bennett Base. Both men replied immediately, stating that they would be in the air within the hour. Lydia returned to General Bennett's office, although not in uniform. She fought for composure as she spoke to Spero and Jackson by satellite link. Spero understood the magic of Naofa well as he was the priest Doakus. Jackson had been witness enough to the priests and priestesses that he had learned to simply accept what the ancients directed. Spero told Lydia he would fly to the Bennett Base later that day. Lydia told him there was no need . She was firmly told that nobody, even Lohrissa, was about to stop him from hugging Just Barbara again. Lydia did not respond as she was sobbing yet again. Amanda replied for her , telling Spero they looked forward to seeing him.

Lieutenant General Ravencouer then contacted Chief Administrator Declan McDaniels, Andrew and Annique McDaniels, Sterling and Amelia Carland, Lieutenant Colonel Taylor, and Ross Shipman. It came as no real surprise when they learned of Barbara's arrival at the Bennett Base. Drew whistled low under his breath as he learned that the woman had breached his communication system for a second time. Everyone knew that it was only at the direction of Naofa; there was wonder and definite rejoicing. Laura laughed as she told everyone that she did not bother shooting the helicopter out of the sky once the tail tipped.

Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer asked permission to join her fellow officers at the Bennett Base. Amanda granted permission after she was told that Clarissa Dempster was confident in her ability to take command. Serena also told Amanda that Colonel Annette Lemaine, Serena's lover, would help Clarissa as needed.

Before Lydia returned to her quarters to wake Barbara as she had requested she told Amanda and Laura that Barbara was in love with a young woman, Morgan, in whose body Iobairt walked. There was instant reckoning on the part of both women that Morgan had walked on earth previously as Dr. Lindsay Reynolds. Laura's eyes welled up as she whispered Lindsay's name. Although it was not her custom while on duty, General Bennett hugged Laura and kissed her. She then quietly remarked that all their lives were about to become even more complex than ever. Lydia smiled as only Lydia Stenns could , stating that the ride could be interesting. Amanda contacted Matthew to ask that he arrange to have guest quarters readied for Luther, Charlie, Spero, and Serena. Matthew had no facts but instinctively knew that great changes were happening and history was being written as they spoke.

Chapter 5

Lydia brought coffee back to her quarters and gently awakened Barbara. Barbara smiled her thanks and accepted a mug of coffee before inviting Lydia to sit on the bed beside her to drink her own cup. Lydia brought the laptop to Barbara so she could take messages from the camp, from Lynn , and from Morgan. She smiled as she told Lydia that everyone was relieved that their Breagh had arrived safely. Lydia was wide eyed as Barbara explained that she had been given the name Breagh when she returned to earth ; the women she lived with knew her by the name. She also said that she was quite certain that she would return using the name Barbara. Morgan only sent a brief message, simply that of love and longing. Barbara smiled a s told Lydia that she would love her as well when they met. Lydia grinned as she said she had no idea how much. Barbara then handed the computer back to Lydia and stood to lead her to the shower. Earth words were not needed, earthling voices were silent. Both women undressed the other; Lemanychia and Briallen joined each other under the warm water. Earth time faded as the priestesses took each other to the ancients and the multiverse. Noshi rejoiced as the victory of Naofa was one union, close and insured. Lohrissa, Aine, and all the priests and priestesses of Naofa gave down thanks for the reunion. Amanda and Laura simply smiled at each with tears in their eyes, both of joy and of wonder.

Amanda called the kitchen , asking that dinners be prepared for four along with wine and a bottle of champagne. She alerted Captain Brandon that she and Lieutenant General Ravencouer were now off duty until the morrow. She asked to be paged when Lieutenant General Smithson and Luther McBane arrived. Spero and Serena were expected to arrive the following day. Amanda and Laura returned to their quarters to change to civilian clothing and to take time to try to comprehend the dramatic events of the last few hours of their lives.

Barbara led a still weeping Lydia back to their bed and cradled her in strong arms. She smiled , lovingly t elling her lover that she could still make her cry as she had for almost thirty years together in their previous lives together at the ranch and the coast. Barbara said that the memories were flooding back to her now. Lydia asked if she remembered Luther and Charli e; when Barbara replied that she did Lydia told her they were in the air on their way to the base. Lydia finally stopped crying and then sat leaned against pillows while she took Barbara in her arms to rest her head on her breasts. She stroked her blonde locks . After moments just taking in the love they felt for each other Lydia quietly started to explain her relationship with Amanda and Laura. She told Barbara that when she had died in the helicopter crash Laura had sent Amanda home with her to take care of her. She continued that she and Amanda had become lovers again with Laura's blessings. Laura knew of the ache, the hurt, and remembered that Lindsay had helped love her through that when she thought Amanda had died before the battles. Barbara only smiled as she remembered knowing that at Naofa when she had returned with Noshi. Lydia explained that they remained lovers to the present time. Barbara turned to her with a look of question in her eyes. Lydia continued that when Laura had returned to the cabin from the base she had taken Lydia in her arms as well. Lydia explained that she too had remained her lover to the present time. All three women easily traversed the plain beyond the politics of ownership, understood and celebrated the love they felt for each other as it continued to grow. Barbara then understood the kisses on the tarmac earlier that day.

Barbara rose and covered herself with Lydia 's robe. She walked to the window to watch the sun start to find the western horizon. Lydia did not join her for some minutes and then walked to her to wrap an arm around her waist. She knew that her dear friend and new/old lover had a lot to take in over a very short time. Lydia trembled but not from cold as Barbara led her back to bed. She started yet another dance of passion , whisper ing that there was a new softness about Lydia that she had not seen before. While Lydia could still find her voice, she replied that losing Barbara had nearly taken her spirit as well; her friends and her lovers had helped to fill up the emptiness with compassion. Lydia then directed the tempo of the dance as Barbara Maclippe was taken to tears herself.

As both women basked in the afterglow, the phone rang as Amanda asked if it was now safe to bring dinner and wine. Lydia laughed a s she asked that they have five minutes to find some clothing and tidy up just a bit. She kissed Barbara yet again, ask ing for her help tidy the bed. She suggested that Barbara find some clothing as Amanda and Laura were bringing dinner. It was not spoken but all four women were realizing that once again they were all out in uncharted waters in their lives and their loves.

Barbara climbed into a pair of Lydia 's jeans and a lace camisole. She suddenly remembered Mary Jeanne Designs, asking of Sally and Jeannie. Lydia told her they were fine, still living on the coast. She asked if Barbara remembered the bar ; Barbara quipped that even death could not erase the memories of fine ruckus raising. The quarters were designed to incorporate a sitting and dining area. Both women were just finishing the tidying chores when there was a knock at the door. Lydia opened the door with lovelights shining and still a very faint gold aura to match Briallen's. One of the kitchen staff carried in trays with their dinner along wine, champagne, and flutes. When he left, Lydia kissed both Amanda and Laura before telling them both that Barbara knew of their lovership with no request to leave as yet at least. All three women had eyes brimmed with tears once again as Barbara smiled, rose, and walked to all of them. She first took Lydia in her arms and kissed her long, hard, and full on the lips. Then with some slight trepidation, she took Amanda's face gently between two hands, kissed her initially tenderly, and then with a passion neither woman expected. She quietly quipped that life might just be an adventure as they had the same teacher. Barbara then turned to Laura , look ing into her hazel eyes for several seconds. For years when they were sister friends, she had moments when she did not want to stop kissing the woman; many times she wanted her naked and immediately. She instantly and absolutely understood the desires were reciprocal. She slowly gathered the still breathtakingly beautiful Laura Ravencouer in her arms and stroked her dark curls now streaked with silver. Barbara whispered that she would not want to stop once again. Laura kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth, causing her knees to buckle as only Laura could. Laura returned a whisper stating that very soon she would not have to stop. Lydia , being Lydia , quipped that the new Armed Forces could not fly on lust and love alone. They all needed to eat while the food was still hot. Their dinners were delicious , the company was even better. As the women were about to open a second bottle of wine, Amanda received a page that Charlie and Luther had arrived and one of the ground crew was bringing them to Lydia 's quarters. There was a gentle knock on the door and Amanda rose to open it. A young crew member snapped to attention and saluted the commander-in-chief before she put him at ease, thanking him for bringing her friends to them. Charlie Smithson and Luther McBane were earthlings with priests walking within them. Charles was the ancient warrior Curran and Luther was the very ancient scribe Lughe. Amanda opened the door wide and invited both men to join them. Barbara walked towards her friends ; as she did Briallen greeted Curran and Lughe. There were hugs and greetings without earth words. Lieutenant General Smithson was still in uniform and without asking permission, he hugged and kissed his dear friend Barbara Maclippe. He understood the magic of Naofa ; memories flooded back to him of taking her destroyed earthling body back to the ranch after Olc had attempted to take her soul. Luther had eyes welled with his own tears as he blessed his priestess and his dear friend Barbara. The men were invited to share glasses of wine ; they both accepted but stated they were both tired as it had been a long flight. Amanda told her friends that guest quarters had been readied for them. She also told them that Serena Lorimer would arrive in the morning. No-one had told Barbara that Spero would also arrive as they wanted that surprise to be his alone. After finishing their wine, a young private arrived as Amanda had requested to accompany both Charlie and Luther to their quarters. They all agreed to meet for an early lunch meeting in the office space at 1100 hours the following day.

After champagne, Laura and Barbara carried dinner trays back to the dining room. They returned holding hands to find a candle lit room. Laura took both Barbara's hands and quietly asked if she remained comfortable with the new lovership. When Barbara quickly , assuredly replied that she was, Laura then asked if she wanted to become their lover as well. Barbara was quietly still for a moment before whisper ing in Laura's ear to think of bad sex as long as she could. Laura was surprised for only a moment before breaking into gales of laughter as Barbara took her hand, leading her to the shower. Lydia looked at Amanda , stating that they could probably surmise that was agreement. Amanda moaned as she was already distracted yet again by Lydia Stenns' beauty. Lydia giggled a s told Amanda that they should be at least polite enough to say goodnight before leaving for Amanda's quarters. Lydia then opened the door of the shower just enough to say goodnight and to let Barbara and Laura know they would meet in the morning. Both Amanda and Lydia chimed words of love as they left the suite.

Neither Barbara nor Laura were inexperienced lovers ; both women had been very close sister friends for years in the past. However, there was almost shyness between them as each undressed the other, with kisses and touches they stood under the shower's warm water. Laura had always looked to Barbara as a sister who had taught her as a young woman about the dynamics of a relationship between two women who loved each other. Laura smiled and then laughed as she asked Barbara if she remembered explaining computer sex to her and also how to keep control for as long as possible when a lover was attempting definite distraction. Barbara had to reach back to former memories for a moment and then laughed as those stories came to her mind. Barbara nuzzled Laura's neck as she asked her if she remembered how she once thought that Lydia had always been the aggressor in their lovership. Laura stroked Barbara's breasts a s said she finally learned about those "quiet ones". Barbara whispered that she was still a quiet one and still had many new ideas. Any notion of shyness had been replaced by absolute wanton desire as both women found journeys to the ancients and the multiverse long before the warm water ran out.

When able, both women dried the other and led each other to the bed. Laura was about to ask Barbara if she needed to sleep after a long day and not many hours of rest when Barbara started a slow traverse of kisses from Laura's feet to her head. Barbara giggled and whispered "bad sex" to Laura who just moaned a response and managed to reply with "Later … greedy." Even Noshi had to stop and shake his head as he saw the vision of his priestesses loving each other. He continued to marvel at the magic each woman held alone and the exponential power that their love together could command. After she found her earth voice and strength in her arms again, Laura held Barbara, kissing her with passion and love. Barbara yawned finally , declaring that although she was thoroughly enjoying herself she needed to sleep . Barbara shivered with cold and fatigue; Laura found warm sleep shirts for both of them. She kissed sleep into her new lover and very dear old friend.

Lydia and Amanda brought breakfast and coffee at 0900 hours ; all four friends continued to marvel at the blessings bestowed on them by Noshi and the ancients. Amanda said that perhaps they should all make their way to the office complex as there were some other people Barbara needed to meet before they sat down to learn about the gravity of the situation south of the border. As they were walking across the tarmac, a helicopter landed. Barbara stared as memories of ranch aircraft came to her mind. Several minutes later, a tall, handsome young pilot disembarked and started to walk towards all four women. As soon as he recognized them, Spero Tristan broke into a full run and yelled "Just Barbara" repeatedly . Lydia grabbed Barbara as she was about to drop to the tarmac when she saw Spero. She was weeping uncontrollably as he reached out to her ; each wept in the other's arms for minutes. In fact, there were no dry eyes from anyone who witnessed this reunion. When she finally found composure once again, she told Spero, with awe, that he had grown just a bit. He replied she was even more beautiful than she ever was. She laughed and chided him that he had spent entirely too much time with Lydia Stenns. Spero immediately quipped "And Amanda Bennett and Laura Ravencouer." He winked to all his friends as he told Barbara that the lessons in charm served him well with Lisa. Barbara stepped back looking at him with a question before a wicked grin. She said that he definitely had spent too much time with all of them.

Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer had landed at the base while the reunion took place ; after disembarking she too walked towards the senior officers, Barbara, and Spero. Barbara's memories were returning very quickly a s she instantly recognized her friend. She held out arms for a hug and both women kissed greetings into each other. Serena was not a priestess but she had long since adjusted to the magic possible when these holy ones gathered.

Amanda suggested that they return to the meeting room as Charlie and Luther were waiting as was lunch. Luther brought Dungeness crabs caught the previous morning and the cooks at the base had cooked them as a feast of celebration. Barbara was silent as she enjoyed every morsel of seafood. She subsisted for months ; although the diets of those at the camp had improved greatly in the previous months seafood was not on the menu nor was it likely to be for some time to come.

After lunch, Barbara asked to use a computer again before they met. She had not spoken to Morgan since the previous day. She wanted to let her know she was well and that she still loved her young beauty back at the camp. She said she had many changes in her life now but she would return to her soon. She asked Morgan to reply as to the wellbeing of everyone at the camp, telling her that she would email back again later the same day.

When everyone had gathered, Amanda informally asked Barbara to explain the situation south of the border as best she could. Barbara spoke of earthlings dying of starvation, being murdered, and being forced into labor camps. She said she had little information save for that told to her by survivors she had met in her journeys and at the encampment where she lived. She described the camp, telling her friends about the women, their struggle for survival with determination to find hope. She explained t hat there was a Military base close the camp from which they had expropriated a helicopter and computer. She also spoke of a farm owned by The Decision that was missing some animals. She expressed her opinion that the administration by The Decision was as bad or worse than it had been prior to the battles for the freedom of Siochain. The officers remained silent as Amanda asked what Barbara needed or wanted initially. Barbara said it was imperative that they establish a safe route to bring survivors to the camp and then to take them north to Siochain. She said they needed to gain information and make contact with survivors elsewhere. Once an underground had been established, survivors fed, their health insured, they could then organize a fight to return their freedom. Barbara told the group about marauders and how their numbers had dwindled ; she suspected that most were dead now. There were tears of anger running down her cheeks as she said that they could not stand by and allow one more person to die from hunger or torture. Lydia took her hand as she wiped tears from her cheeks. All the officers and holy ones promised they had just signed on to the battle to save those lives.

Amanda explained to Barbara, Luther, and Spero that Declan McDaniels had sanctioned any actions necessary. She emailed Declan as the group met to tell him they would be taking aid and aircraft south of the border as they planned to return with Barbara at least temporarily. She would send a detailed report by the following day. She asked Declan to request secure communications for them from the camp south of the border. Declan immediately replied that Drew and Annique had already made those arrangements. Luther and Spero both requested permission to take place in any further actions as needed even though neither was an Armed Forces personnel. Amanda told them that they indeed would called upon as would Jeannie and Sally. Laura already contacted Matthew , asking that several Peregrine and Raptor helicopters be painted completely black to disguise any Armed Forces identification. Lydia emailed Ross Shipman with a request that emergency shipments of medicine and food be sent as soon as possible to the Bennett Base for transport south. The reply was "Roger that." Charlie asked if they would also return to the camp with the priestesses . Amanda replied that she did not think that was necessary initially. They needed to make trips with aid and to get an understanding of the situation for themselves. She said that once they had information they would ask Charlie and Luther to join them.

Luther was making lists during the meeting. Amanda told him that he could expect them to remain at the Bennett Base for the foreseeable future ; as such they would need clothing and personal items. Luther was the caretaker of Amanda's and Laura's home on the coast, still referred to as the cabin, for many years. He was also a dear and very protective friend who had cared for his priestesses, his friends. Lydia spent much time now at the cabin when she was not taking command at the Carriere Base or when not returning to the ranch to attend to business there. Her dear old friend Jackson and his son-in-law Scott ran the business of the ranch almost full time very well. Luther accepted the change in the relationship between his priestesses with his usual calm blessings.

Amanda told Lydia and Laura that they would not return with Barbara as Armed Forces personnel officially , without uniforms. It was understood that Siochain would officially support the battles but only when absolutely necessary. None of the senior officers were paid save for Charlie and Serena as the others were comfortable without the salaries. Amanda put plans in place for the eventuality of another battle with the officers being away from duty at the bases. Amanda also emailed Jeannie and Sally to tell them of Barbara's return to them and of the plans to take aid south. She said without doubt they would be called upon to become fighter pilots in the future ; they needed to put in place plans for their businesses at the coast. She knew those plans were already made but reiterated the need.

It was late afternoon when the meeting ended. Amanda invited everyone to the dining room for dinner and conversation. Spero instinctively understood that Barbara had few memories of the ranch as of yet so he did not mention much of his life there. He was old enough to understand the relationship between Lydia , Amanda, and Laura, accepting it readily. He was also old enough to make the assumption that if Barbara remained part of the group now she would be become part of those relationships. He had no judgment about that and was only happy that his beloved Just Barbara had returned to all their lives.

After dinner and long visits, Charlie, Luther, Serena, and Spero all decided to return home the following morning. Luther s tated he would return to the Bennett Base with the items all three women requested. He continued he might even ask Jeannie and Sally if they wanted to make the flight instead, mostly for their own reunion. Charlie and Serena both agreed that for the present time they could be most helpful by continuing command at the Central Command Base, that at Carriere. Spero joked a s he said he needed to return to start the work of convincing his mother that he was about to join the Armed Forces so as to get fast tracked to become a fighter pilot. Lydia told him to ask his grandfather for help with that as he had helped her years ago when she ran from the ranch to do exactly the same. He replied that by now everyone at the ranch knew Barbara had returned ; it would not take much imagination to understand that battles were looming once again. Amanda asked that Charlie contact Stephan and Tess Redhawk in the North to tell them of the return of Barbara and also to alert them that Sanctuary would be needed once again in the very near future. Amanda was sure that both Declan and Drew McDaniels and their uncle Ross Shipman had notified Lou Shipman that Barbara had returned.

The friends all then chose to find their quarters and some much needed sleep. Barbara returned to Lydia 's quarters with Lydia , writing once again to Morgan. She did not tell her of the plans to return with her friends but did reassure her that she was coming back home in few days. Morgan emailed that Breagh was missed but that the camp was safe. She said that Lynn found contacts with some other encampments although communication was sporadic at best. Barbara immediately replied that a secure communication had already been established for them to use. She also said that she would return with food, medicine, clothing, and coffee. Morgan emailed her reply that she wanted tight jeans and that she loved her more than she ever had. Barbara laughed out loud with that reply , telling Lydia 's of Morgan's request. Lydia replied she was already falling in love sight unseen.

Lydia asked if Barbara wanted her to stay with her that night ; a kiss was the reply. After showers and a shared snifter of brandy, Lydia gathered her longtime lover in her arms, kissing her gently and tenderly. She had tears once again falling from eyes full of love. Barbara quipped that she had not even touched her yet and already she was bawling. Barbara then did touch her former lover while whispering to her to hold fast, to hold tight, as Lemanychia was about to be loved by Briallen. Earth time later, Lydia lay in Barbara's arms. Both women spoke quietly of the love they had for each other as earthlings and as priestesses. Barbara talked to Lydia about loving Morgan. She said she understood that women were very able to love more than one woman at a time but she was concerned that Morgan was too young to understand herself. Lydia quietly reminded her that she would readily remember Laura when they met ; she suspected that Morgan would then understand well. Barbara smiled and replied "Indeed." Lydia laughed , stating she fully understood. Both women agreed that the Laura Ravencouer was beautiful with a body that still did not quit. Barbara was tired but had questions still about the new relationships. Lydia sat up in bed and invited her to ask. Barbara asked if her three friends all shared one bed . Lydia replied that sometimes they did although they had quickly decided that sleep did not necessarily work well with three women sharing one set of blankets. Lydia said that at the cabin she slept in the guest room, sometimes alone and sometimes with either Laura or Amanda. She smiled and said at the ranch Jackson had moved another bed to the loft so they all shared one space but two beds for sleeping. Barbara was quiet again for a few moments , then ask ing Lydia if all four women were lovers together at the same time would it constitute an orgy. Lydia immediately quipped "Indeed." The woman did give incorrigible an entirely different meaning. Barbara laughed a s she said that if Morgan bought into the whole scheme of things they would have to rent a hall. Both women collapsed in gales of laughter before lips and fingers found the other with passion overtaking the lovers.

Amanda held Laura in the shower before passion overtook both women. Later in bed, they held each other while Amanda stroked Laura's long silken curls. Laura commented about how absolutely wonderful Luther had been once again. Amanda said she suspected that Lughe had seen quite a bit in his many journeys among the earthlings ; it was likely that much did not surprise the man. Laura agreed but stated she still was in awe of him and give down thanks to the ancients daily for their gift of him in their lives. Laura knew that Amanda wanted to ask her about her new lovership with Barbara but was not sure how to do so. Laura kissed her longtime lover , smil ing as she said that one did have to be very mindful of the quiet ones. Amanda laughed out loud and said that was all she needed to know. Laura explained they had been almost shy with each other at first until the Barbara to whom Lydia had often alluded shone. Amanda told Laura that she had been surprised by her own reaction at Barbara's kiss the night before. Laura reiterated her warning about those quiet ones. Amanda laughed again , declaring she stood forewarned. Amanda then talked to Laura about meeting Morgan and Iobairt. Once again, Laura's eyes filled with tears as she remembered Lindsay and how she did not get to say goodbye or to tell her she loved her. Amanda gently caressed her lover, telling her that Lindsay knew as did Iobairt and so would Morgan. Laura said she was not sure that Morgan even knew she existed ; Amanda said that as soon as she saw Laura she would remember. Laura quietly asked Amanda if she would be comfortable with Laura being Morgan's lover. Amanda sat back , looking at Laura with a look of complete surprise on her face. She asked her lover who had led her to Lydia 's arms. Amanda reminded Laura that they had chosen to live beyond the politics of ownership, outside the boundaries set by frightened old men of The Decision and organized religion. She continued that they all knew that women were capable of great love, respect, passion, and compassion with more than one person. She quietly stated that love simply bred more love ; as far as she understood every woman had a depth of spirit to love many at once. Laura looked at the woman with whom she would be mated for eternity with lovelights shining, quietly and then passionately taking them both to the ancients and the multiverse.

The following morning, Lydia and Barbara brought breakfast to Amanda's quarters. Barbara was still sleepy as she sipped her first cup of coffee . With a serious face asked if anyone ever got any sleep with this new arrangement. Seconds later, all four women were engulfed with laughter, each remembering all the times in their past times together when laughter rang out. Lydia said the novelty did wear off but only barely; Barbara would just get conditioned to it. Amanda emerged from the shower and dressed in her uniform as did Laura. Lydia said she would return to duty later that day. Laura and Amanda reminded her that it was perfectly acceptable for her to take another day off.

All four women met Charlie, Luther, Serena, and Spero on the tarmac as they all prepared to make their return flights. Luther reassured them that someone would return within a day or two with all the personal items they had requested. Charlie and Serena hugged Barbara for a long time , telling her to not disappear on them ever again. Barbara stated she was here for keeps this time around. Spero hugged Barbara with few words. She told him she loved hi m, needing to spend many more days with him. He told her he was about to get fast tracked to learn how to become a fighter pilot. Both Charlie Smithson and Serena Lorimer had already scheduled his lessons as soon as he could fly to the Carriere Base. He was young but Lydia Stenns had been his age when she learned how to fly large aircraft as was Laura. Spero also had been taught basic pilot skills by Lydia Stenns when he was ten earth years of age so there was absolutely no doubt he would succeed well.

Once their friends were airborne, Laura and Amanda returned to their offices. Lydia and Barbara went to Stores to start choosing materials to be loaded in the disguised Raptor. Amanda did ask both women to join them for a meeting with Captain Matthew Brandon. Matthew did know that Barbara had returned to them ; he surmised that his senior officers would be taking on additional roles. He also knew that he would as well. It had always been understood that he was at the Bennett Base in the capacity of an administrator ; any Armed Forces command would be taken by one of the senior officers. He had steadfastly opined that it was the only way he would continue in his role of administration. General Bennett told Matthew that Lieutenant Generals Stenns and Ravencouer would accompany her on the first of many clandestine journeys south of the border. She stated that no maneuvers were planned in the immediate future but that he should prepare hangers for the arrival of aircraft from the more northern, western, and eastern bases over the coming months. She notified Declan McDaniels that they would need more storage facilities ; Ross Shipman planned to contact Matthew as to the procedures for ordering. There was a large communications center already in place but not used as yet at the Bennett Base. Amanda instructed Matthew to contact Drew McDaniels for advice with a timeline for making that fully operational. Amanda spoke of increasing the medical facilities at the Bennett Base in the eventuality of battles in the future. There were buildings already erected but not used for a large infirmary. Amanda asked Laura to contact both Annette Lemaine and Ray Dobson to make plans for equipment and staff. Finally, Amanda told Matthew that they were now committed to helping their brothers and sisters below the southern wall defeat The Decision as they had done before. She said the good news was that they knew how. Matthew grinne d, stating he would be honored to help in any way he could.

By day's end, the Peregrine and Raptor crafts had been painted and disguised. Barbara said she was the only pilot at the camp ; she needed help to teach others to fly aircraft. Her friends told her that they were all experienced teachers. Once they had met the women at the camp and established a better communications system the trainees could be taught quickly. All four women met in the dining room for dinner. The personnel had recovered from their shock and then curiosity about encountering Barbara Maclippe once again as many had known her when she journeyed among them previously. After dinner, Barbara asked if there were still supplies of the vaccine available as they needed to keep as many people alive and disease free as possible. Amanda said she already emailed Justine Carland ; a large supply was en route to the Ravencouer Base. She told Barbara that Declan, Drew, and Ross wanted to see her before they flew sout h; the supply would arrive with them. Amanda suggested that Lydia and Barbara join her and Laura in her suite for after dinner coffee and brandy. Barbara agreed but stated she wanted to return to Lydia 's quarters to email the camp and Morgan.

Barbara emailed Morgan to tell her of the day's events and plans. She said she expected she would return in three to four days , ask ing that they open up a couple of rooms for Amanda , Lydia , and Laura. She also asked that the unused portion of the kitchen and store room be readied as she was bringing a large number of supplies and vaccine. She said she had a surprise for her and to not even consider asking until she got back. Barbara smiled as she had asked Luther to request that Jeannie supply some satin and lace along with a few pairs of skin tight jeans for the beautiful young woman waiting for her. Barbara told Lydia she was quite sure Morgan had never felt silk or satin next to her skin ; she had every intention of changing that perhaps permanently. Lydia smiled a s she quipped that her longtime lover and friend had it bad, bad indeed. She also said it looked absolutely lovely on her. As they walked to Amanda's quarters, Lydia chuckled that if they ever made it back to the bar with all five lovers the herstory of ruckus raising would be rewritten.

Amanda greeted her friends and invited them into her suite. It was large well-appointed with a fireplace in the corner of the bedroom. Barbara teased that being the boss lady had its own perks. Amanda stated it did and it was well deserved. Barbara looked at her three friends , decid ing they were far more beautiful than she ever remembered. She quietly stated that fact ; Amanda took her hand, kissed her gently, telling her it was only due to good loving. Once again, Barbara felt the age old electrical currents in her core with Amanda's kiss and touch; once again , she was surprised by that. She had always loved Amanda as a friend and respected her natural aptitude to lead well but in all truthfulness she had never thought of her as a lover as she had with Laura many times. She surmised that she always saw the General as off limits. Lydia asked Barbara if she still liked to dance ; Barbara replied she had not thought of it since her return to earth. Laura found some music. Lydia took Barbara to her feet , leading her in a waltz as they had danced for decades. Barbara smiled with tears rolling down her cheeks , stating that indeed she did still like to dance. As they sat to enjoy brandy, Barbara told her friends that she had returned to earth with the name Breagh, given her to by Noshi. She had not immediately remembered her past . It was only when Morgan had seduced her that the memories started to flood back. Laura quietly tenderly told Barbara that love had a habit of doing that to all women if they allowed. She told her old friend and new lover that women could choose to stop the denial of herstory and loving if they were told they could. She believed that when one woman learned that she had an obligation to teach another. She said the world really only changed one person at a time. Amanda had been quiet for most of the conversation. She too was surprised about her newly found feelings for Barbara Maclippe as she had always seen her as only a friend, a coworker, and Lydia 's lover. She knew that this night she wanted her as her own lover. Laura felt the electricity between the two women as she found sultry Latin music for the player. She then grinned at Lydia a s she asked her to dance. She danced Lydia into the bedroom , giggl ing as both women lit candles and banked the fire. They returned to find Barbara lost in a trance in Amanda's arms as they danced. Laura quietly told Lydia it was time to leave ; she might be sharing her bed that night. Lydia kissed her agreemen t, walk ing to her friends to tell them to not even consider behaving. She got no response, motioning to Laura to turn out lights and leave.

Barbara turned off the music , asking Amanda to bring the brandy to the bedroom. She smiled as she entered a candle lit and fire lit room. She kept looking into Amanda's eyes as she slowly undressed her and then undressed herself. She led the General to the shower, only gently touched her as each woman felt the caress of warm water and scented soap. Amanda was completely spellbound and silent as Barbara dried her body and then led her back to the bedroom. Barbara then very slowly and gently kissed Amanda for only the second time that evening. She caressed the woman before her , sitting with her on the side of the bed. Amanda was breathless with desire as Barbara Maclippe's fingers and palms touched her. Before she had laid flat on the bed, there were tears running down her cheeks. Barbara smiled , whisper ing a tease that she was just as easy as Lydia . That was all the invitation Amanda Bennett needed ; an experienced aggressive lover took Barbara to her own tears and cries. After some recovery, Barbara once again trembled with desire as Amanda began the tease of passion well taught and well learned. Amanda told her that Barbara might be responsible for tears but Amanda could induce nasty words of begging ; she did. Earth time later, Barbara lay in Amanda's arms still unable to find her voice. Amanda smiled, kissed her, before rising to bring back cold water for her new lover. She took Barbara in arms still full of love and wanting, telling her she had no idea she wanted her as much as she did. Barbara replied that she felt exactly the same way a s she always thought of Amanda as off limits. Amanda murmured that she felt the same of Barbara. Amanda whispered that Barbara was absolutely beautiful with the body of a warrior, one that just did not quit. Barbara mused that it was born of hard work ; fortunately she had recovered after months of subsistence and hunger. Amanda stroked Barbara's soft blonde hair , ask ing if she had ever thought she would love again when she was living that hell. Barbara replied that she honestly had not thought in that frame of reference. She told Amanda how ancient and tired she felt when she first saw Morgan looking at her with lust in her eyes. She smiled , stating she only had to think about it briefly though. Amanda agreed that was a very healthy reaction. Amanda asked if she was in love with Morgan ; Barbara replied she was. She said that they would all like her and perhaps even love her. Amanda said that they already did. Barbara then kissed Amanda once again to start the journey to passion once again, whispering that she had not had enough as of yet and might not for some time. The response was an infamous Amanda moan.

Laura and Lydia knew they would take command the next morning. Each woman greeted Matthew in his office before Lydia returned with second cups of coffee and a report that the General had still not reported for duty. Laura asked Lydia if she was really surprised. Lydia stated she was not ; she was going to have way too much fun when her two friends did surface. Luther had emailed late the previous night telling his friends to expect Jeannie and Sally by noon. Laura alerted Matthew to ready quarters for two women friends. He just assumed with this crowd that only one suite would be needed. Laura looked out to see a kitchen staff member carrying a breakfast tray to Amanda's quarters , telling Lydia she just saw more teasing ammunition.

Amanda left Barbara in bed, letting her fall back to sleep. She dressed in a uniform and then walked to her office, past the doors of both Lieutenant Generals Ravencouer and Stenns. Laura cleared her throat and Lydia looked at her watch. Amanda found a serious, stern face before telling them both to shut up. She then broke into an absolutely beautiful smile , glow ing as she told both her friends that she had been right about quiet ones. She scolded Lydia for holding out all these years. Lydia beamed and shrugged. About thirty minutes later, Barbara brought a tray of coffee to her friends and now all three lovers. Lydia hugged her, telling her had successfully tamed the General ; as such , she could be part of the club. Once again, gales of laughter rang out in the office hallway.

At 1210 hours, the cabin helicopter Luther named Huguette landed on the tarmac ; shortly thereafter two women walked hand in hand across the tarmac to the building housing the offices. Barbara recognized the woman, was on the tarmac and running towards them before Lydia , Amanda, or Laura could catch her. Jeannie Dawson was weeping. Even the somewhat stoic Sally Palmer had tears freely flowing down her cheeks as they both hugged their dear friend for many minutes and then both kissed her long, hard, and full on the lips. Barbara stood back to look at her old and dear friends, telling them both that time had only been very good to both of them. She could easily see the love they shared , t elling them so. All three women walked arm in arm back to their waiting friends. Matthew grinned a s he thought to himself that he should probably just get used to this from these women. He also thought that he likely had not seen anything yet.

Jeannie just kept shaking her head and smiling at Barbara over lunch. Crew members took well-marked cartons and clothing sleeves to Amanda's quarters and Lydia 's quarters. Jeannie and Sally had little luggage but Jeannie had brought a large carton as a gift for Barbara. She said she wanted to see her face when she saw the contents . Barbara told them she would return to Lydia 's quarters after lunch so she could see. Amanda told her would do no such thing unless they were all invited. Barbara smiled at her new lover with lovelights shining to which Sally then quipped that life had just got itself even more complicated. Amanda advised that it was about to get worse. Jeannie knew about Lindsay , t elling Sally the story of her lovership with Laura during the battles. Sally also knew that Lindsay died in childbirth and sacrifice. Barbara then quietly told her friends that she was in love with a young woman who lived in the camp where she lived south of the wall. She said her name was Morgan who walked with the priestess Iobairt in her body. Jeannie drew in a sharp breath as Barbara then explained to both her friends that Lindsay had been anointed as Iobairt when she had returned to Naofa. Jeannie looked a Laur a, seeing tears welling in her eyes. Sally sat in silence for a few minutes as if trying to comprehend the latest news. She then shook her head and simply said "Five". All four priestesses smiled and nodded. Lydia teased Sally that she hoped that just once they would get to her bar in Carriere as ruckus raising would be entirely too much fun. Sally replied "Indeed."

Amanda paged Matthew to inform him that the senior officers would be late returning to their offices ; if they were needed in an emergency he could contact her at Lydia 's quarters. Sally teased her friends as she looked about the suit e, deciding that being a senior officer had its advantages, just as she had always suspected when she was still a member of the former Military. Amanda said it should as none of them took a salary for working their butts off. Sally sat beside Barbara who opened a large carton before her. Inside, there were many pairs of blue jeans for both her and Morgan. Barbara told Luther that Morgan was about the same build as Jeannie so she could use that as a size guide. Jeannie then removed layers of silk and satin, some with absolutely no structural integrity whatsoever. She also included robes and sleep shirts as well as comfortable t-shirts and work shirts in various sizes. Luther had mentioned that there were children living at the camp. Both Jeannie and Sally had shopped for toys and books for them. At the very bottom of the box, Luther had packed a special package at Laura's request. Barbara was already crying as she took the package in her hands and opened it. Laura wanted to share her own hard bound copies of Breagh Maclippe's novels written many years before. Laura softly stated that she thought perhaps it was time Morgan read them. Sally was a woman of very few words about love but she stated then and there if the world needed lessons about caring they should just spend time with these women. Jeannie kissed her lover a s she told her that they too should be included and Amanda replied "Indeed."

Amanda then asked that her friends excuse her officers as they had an Armed Forces to command with plans to finalize for their flight south of the wall in two days' time. Barbara said they would show her friends to their quarters after which she would meet Lydia at Stores to finalize the lists of supplies to be taken to the camp. Amanda invited all her friends to dinner in her own suite later that evening. Amanda had a terrace with her suite equipped with a grill. Lydia had offered to work her magic with ranch beef ; as memories flooded back Barbara's face lit up. She said she could be convinced to help with dinner if Lydia wanted. Jeannie told Barbara that Luther and Mary sent a large supply of frozen fish to be taken to the camp if they had freezer capacity. Barbara thanked her, confirming they did .

Jeannie and Sally chose to remain in their quarters for rest after a very early morning departure from the coast. Barbara and Lydia finalized the list of supplies to be loaded on the Raptor the following day. Amanda confirmed that Declan and Drew McDaniels and Ross Shipman planned arrival at the Bennett Base in late morning the following day. Barbara admitted that she still only had vague memories of all three men. Amanda reassured her she would remember them as soon as she saw them. Barbara returned to Lydia 's quarters to email Morgan in private. She missed her young lover more as each day passed. She told her that she would return in two days' time and to not make any plans for overnight other than absolute ravaging of her beautiful body. Morgan immediately replied that she could hardly wait. Morgan stated that the plans for supplies were being made ; everyone was busy making the camp as inviting as they possibly could under the circumstances. Morgan asked that rooms on the same floor and same wing of the old lodge be opened up for Barbara's friends ; she hoped that the proximity would not pose problems. Barbara replied that given the new situation she would try to explain to Morgan on her return that she saw absolutely no problems whatsoever. She told Morgan about her old friends Jeannie and Sally arriving and how wonderful it was to see them. She explained that eventually these women would help with battles for freedom as both were experienced pilots. She told Morgan that Jeannie Dawson had flown as part of the special forces helping the Resistance in the fight for Siochain ; both women had insisted that they fly in any new missions. Morgan immediately expressed her gratitude , reiterat ing how awed she was by the magic woman Briallen. Barbara replied that she had not seen an iota of what was about to be revealed to her in two days' time. Barbara signed off by telling Morgan that she was loved very much and would be.

Barbara showered, and then dressed in new jeans and a black silk camisole just as Lydia returned to her quarters for her own shower and change of clothing from her uniform. When she had finished dressing, she went to a safe in the suite , return ing with a small wooden chest. She opened it before hand ing Barbara an engraved silver labrys and chain. She wept as she explained that she had kept it after Barbara's body had died in the helicopter crash. Barbara had recognized those that all her friends wore and suddenly, assuredly remembered her own as Lydia fastened the chain around her neck. Lydia also handed her a small box containing an engraved platinum ring encircled with sapphires and diamonds. She told Barbara it was hers ; she should keep it but would understand that in light of the new journey of her life back on earth if Barbara chose not to wear it. Barbara took Lydia 's hand , gently touch ing a matching band on her finger. She handed the ring to Lydia and held out her own left hand; as both women wept Lydia placed the band back on Barbara Maclippe's ring finger. Barbara spoke through sobs that Lemanychia and Briallen were mated for eternity; the rings were reminders. She said she would never have it taken from her hand again. With all the tears, both women needed to recover before they left to join their friends for dinner and a likely evening of being outrageous as only these six women could. On their walk to Amanda's quarters, Barbara teased Lydia that she had taught Amanda Bennett well in the fine art of teasing. Lydia expressed her thanks for the compliment. Barbara whistled softly a s she reiterated that Amanda Bennett was a very beautiful woman indeed. Then Lydia asked Barbara if she remembered that she could work absolute magic with anything bovine ; Barbara did. She had taught some of the women at the camp to cook venison and it actually was quite tasty so she was quite sure she could make domestic beef at least palatable. They arrived to find their friends looking as lovely as ever. Sally had assumed her very familiar role of bartender , pour ing wine for both Barbara and Lydia . Amanda wrapped a loving arm around Barbara's waist and then noticed her labrys. Barbara also showed her the ring on her finger, one that matched Lydia 's and very similar to those worn by Laura and Amanda. Sally and Jeannie continued to marvel at the exchange of love and energy between their four friends. Amanda told her friends that the grill was ready and the magic could start at any time as everyone was famished. Laura set as elegant a table as an Armed Forces base could dictate with an invitation to her friends to dine when the beef was ready. Barbara congratulated herself out loud on a task well executed. She said she had not tasted food this good in her days back on earth. Amanda told her that there was beef and fish ready to be flown back with them very soon. After dinner, Jeannie asked how long they planned to stay at the southern camp. Amanda replied she was not sure as yet but long enough to get to know the survivors, set up a decent communication system, get the lay of the land and skies around the camp, and of course meet Morgan Downhey. Laura explained that they did not have a timeline yet as to initiating rescue but that bases and settlements were readying themselves as were all those at Sanctuary to accept survivors and assist in their recovery of freedom. Jeannie quietly remarked that the good news was that they knew how. Both Sally and Jeannie told their friends that Ruthann, Jeannie's daughter, had already started to organize local women as well as friends she had made at new settlements ; they were gathering clothing not needed for those who would need it. Barbara's eyes filled with tears as the scope of help her friends would give started to become reality. Jeannie took her hands in her own, telling her they would stand and fight beside all of them as Barbara had for her friends in the past. Sally reminded everyone that love had many faces, quipping that if one needed something done one should get a busy woman to do it. There was a group "Indeed" as reply.

Music, laughter, and dancing as the friends enjoyed each other's company. Jeannie and Sally said goodnight relatively early as they planned to return to the coast the following day and wanted to be rested for the flight. Amanda reiterated that Declan, Drew, and Ross were expected by late morning and all four women planned flight south the following day. Barbara gathered Amanda in her arms , stat ing that as much as she wanted to stay in her arms all night she also needed to get at least a few hours' sleep ; hopefully Lydia would allow that. Amanda kissed her , telling her she could command that the Lieutenant General leave her alone. Barbara quickly replied that she didn't want dead, just sleep. Once again, all four friends were reduced to paralyzing laughter. When Lydia and Barbara lay in each other's arms in bed, Barbara asked about how partners were chosen on any given time. Lydia explained that often it just happened as it happened. She said that with only three of them often there was no choice and passion found its way to all of them together. Barbara mused that when she was with them it could pose problems. Lydia kissed her , stating that loving women almost never posed problems when care was taken. She reassured her long time and now new again lover that it was never a question of more or less, better or not. She explained that it was well understood that they all loved each other dearly and now physically as well. She laughed as she told Barbara that she had to adjust to almost daily sex as this has been the habit with Amanda and Laura for almost their entire lives together, save for nights when work tired them too much. She asked Barbara if she remembered living apart for weeks with only reunion every few weekends. Barbara replied she vaguely recalled; as she caressed and kissed Lydia 's beautiful body she questioned out loud why she ever agreed to that. Lydia murmured that each woman chose to love who she wanted most when she wanted her; at the present time she wanted Barbara Maclippe. With those whispered words, Barbara once again induced tears as both priestesses travelled yet again to the ancients and the multiverse.

After an early breakfast, the holy ones said goodbye to Jeannie and Sally as they prepared to return to the coast. Both women hugged and kissed Barbara repeatedly as they told her of their absolute joy at her return. After Huguette was airborne, all four women returned to the offices for more planning while they awaited the arrival of Declan, Drew, and Ross. Barbara emailed Morgan and Lynn, stating that they planned to arrive at the camp later in the afternoon in the morrow. Morgan replied with her concern about a day flight and the safety issues. Barbara's response was that she was returning with some of the best pilots the Armed Forces of Siochain had to offer ; all of them had flown in much worse conditions and often. What she did not tell her young lover was that the Raptor that Amanda chose to pilot had been outfitted with bombs in case they were needed. Barbara ended their conversation with promises of love.

At just after 1100 hours Drew McDaniels landed a Peregrine effortlessly on the tarmac at the Bennett Base. After running the post flight check list, he joined his brother Declan and his uncle Ross as they strode to the office building. All four women saw their arrival and were waiting outside for them as they approached. As they came into clear view, Barbara immediately remembered all three friends. She beamed as each man hugged her, each with tears in their own eyes and a gentle loving "Roger that!" from Ross Shipman. Barbara laughed when she told Declan that she had problems remembering him and wondered why as she looked at the great hulk of a man with flaming red hair and beard wearing a kilt made with the McDaniels tartan. He most definitely was an unforgettable imposing figure. Drew teased her about breaching his communications system yet again to which Barbara replied that it was with much help from the ancients and a brilliant young e woman named Lynn . The friends walked to the dining room ; the re was a hush among the personnel as the Chief Administrator of Siochain entered with the senior officers. Lydia barked "Attention" and Declan recognized the honor before asking that everyone be put at ease. As was the philosophy of the Commander-in-Chief, General Bennett, all the Armed Forces bases had dining rooms where all personnel ate together. There were no separate officers dining areas and would not be at least on her watch. Over lunch, Barbara talked of the conditions she knew about south of the wall. The picture she painted was much the same as the history of Siochain before the battles when The Decision ruled in the North as well. Declan told Barbara that the survivors in the North would stand beside all their brothers and sisters until their freedom was insured. Drew and Ross echoed the statement ; Ross commented that fortunately they knew how. Ross told Barbara that they had transported a large supply of vaccine which the ground crew would add to supplies in the Raptor being readied for flight. Barbara then told all three friends about Morgan, Iobairt, and Lindsay. All three men were silent as they tried to take in the magic of Naofa. Ross said it would a great honor to meet the priestess ; Barbara replied she hoped that one day they all would. She smiled as she described a young woman with great courage, a mouth not afraid of speech, compassion, and an attitude to match. Drew grinned, stating that was something this crowd of women needed for sure.

Ross and Declan brought several new computers for the camp ; Drew finalized secure communications for all of them. There was not a question as to the safety of any of the women and the flight beyond the southern wall. Drew had long since been able to scramble air messages for anyone other than those tuned to a specific channel. Amanda stated they would fly using coordinates and Barbara Maclippe's direction. General Bennett reiterated the plans for assumption of command both temporarily and if ever needed permanently. Declan reassured all his friends that there were no worries whatsoever in that regard.

After a long lunch and the completion of Drew's communications plans, the three men departed for the Ravencouer Base. The four women chose to meet in the dining room for dinner with a return for rest and preparation for the journey in the morrow. Laura handed Barbara two leather jackets, one from herself and one from Amanda. She said that they wanted Morgan to have one of her own and Barbara needed one in flight. Lydia quipped that they should have them painted with Bring It on the back which once again induced fits of laughter. Minute by minute the connection between these women and these priestesses grew. The women at the camp would learn to love them and The Decision would learn to fear them.

Chapter 6

The following morning, Amanda insured that the perishable items were loaded with preservation assured onto the Raptor. Lydia , Amanda, and Laura had kit bags packed for several days. Almost at the last minute, Laura returned from the kitchen with two large sacs of oranges, thinking that the children at the camp would enjoy them. Charlie and Serena had sent messages of hope and safe travel. Luther sent a message of blessings. Amanda and Lydia chose to copilot the Raptor, Laura would accompany Barbara in the Peregrine. Barbara gave Amanda coordinates to the flight path below the border and beyond the large lake. Barbara forwarded information to Lynn from Drew as to scrambling the signal for communications with lack of detection from the Military base close to the camp. Matthew and almost all the personnel at the Bennett Base gathered on the tarmac , snapp ing to attention with salutes of respect for their senior officers and the memorable Barbara Maclippe as the women became airborne.

Five hours later, Barbara radioed that they were approaching the wall and the large lake. She reiterated the remainder of the flight would be through mountains and valleys. The estimated landing time was in less than an hour. There was no sign of apprehension in her voice but Laura heard just a hint of excitement as they flew south over the lake and then lower across mountain tops and valleys. Barbara gave a ten minute warning to landing ; Lydia immediately acknowledged. Within minutes the abandoned lodge came into view ; Barbara made a quick descent, landing on the tarmac. Within two minutes, the Raptor approached and set down effortlessly. Barbara and Lydia ran post flight check lists before all four women disembarked. All the women and children had gathered to greet the woman now called Barbara and their guests. It had been a choice not to show auras to the camp immediately as many women were still overwhelmed simply by the presence of all four women. Morgan stood slightly apart from the crowd; she started a slow walk towards Barbara, and then as she saw outstretched arms she ran to them. Barbara gathered the young beauty in arms full of longing and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth, several times. Lydia , Amanda, and Laura remained close to the aircraft to allow time for the two lovers to find each other again. Barbara then took Morgan's hand , leading her towards her friends from the north. As they approached, Laura openly wept as she saw Morgan and Iobairt. Morgan stopped, stared, and remembered Laura Ravencouer in her heart and soul. Each woman was breathless with sobs which was met with weeping from Amanda, Barbara, and Lydia . The women at the camp were only momentarily confused as everyone recognized a reunion of great undefeated love. When Morgan found her voice and composure, she looked at Barbara and then at Amanda , instantly kn owing this was Laura's lover, Amanda Bennett. Laura told her quietly that she had not died ; they had been together in love for many years. Barbara then introduced Morgan to Lydia Stenns who hugged the young woman , whisper ing her thanks for caring for her beloved Barbara. Frannie, Judith, Cora, and Rennie stepped forwar d, kneeling on one knee as they knew there were in the presence of holy ones and the most ancient high priestess Lohrissa. For brief second, all five priestesses shone with auras and blessings to their sisters and their children at the camp. Barbara motioned for Lynn to come forward to meet her friends and after she had been introduced to all three women, she simply stated "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore". In seconds most of the camp was engulfed in laughter.

Barbara then asked for help to unload the aircraft and start storage of supplies. The perishable items were taken to freezers run by batteries in an immaculate kitchen, now opened to its original full size. It was near the time of the last meal of the day at the camp and a feast had been prepared. Barbara invited her friends into the lodge and then introduced Amanda Bennett, Lydia Stenns, and Laura Ravencouer to everyone at the camp. Several women gasped when someone asked if this was really "the" Laura Ravencouer. Laura smiled as Barbara told them all that indeed this beautiful woman had kicked some serious ass in the North as they all had. Two young women entered carrying kit bags ; Amanda immediately told them that they would carry their own bags. She said that they were not guests , want ing to be considered as sisters come to lend a hand. Barbara had not loosed Morgan's hand and only did when they helped themselves to food. A couple of young children shyly approached Barbara and put arms up for hugs. One youngster named Cindy told Barbara she knew her new name was Barbara. She said her real name was Cynthia but everybody called her Cindy and she liked it that way. Barbara kissed both children , telling them she liked her name as Barbara but would not get mad if they forgot and called her Breagh. The women at the camp invited their new friends to join them to eat and acquaint themselves. After dinner, Laura returned from the Raptor with the bags of oranges , offer ing one to each child. Many did not know what they were, older youth had to show them and peel them for eating. With one taste, young faces lit up and many ran to hug Laura unabashedly. She could not stop beaming as she was in the company of children once again. Amanda told Barbara that Luther was successfully growing citrus trees now at the cabin in the greenhouse. She was very sure that once the greenhouse at the Lodge was more operational and larger he would be happy to share trees with them.

After coffee, many women left to clean and clear. All three women insisted on helping. Once again, Amanda reiterated that they were not guests and wanted very much to be considered as sisters at The Lodge. Short work was made of all the chores and then children were settled for sleep. All four women admitted weariness ; Morgan apologized for forgetting their long journey. She led her new friends to their rooms on the second floor of The Lodge, just down the hall from Barbara's room. She had insured that both rooms had adjoining bathrooms with showers. Barbara hugged and briefly kissed her friends as she said goodnight. All four women did not want to confuse or overwhelm the beautiful Morgan , unders tanding inherently that she wanted Barbara most probably more than she ever had. They also understood that the young woman was in awe of them.

Barbara had Morgan in her arms almost before she had the door to her room closed. Morgan was crying with passion long before they reached the warm water of the shower. Barbara no longer had reservations of her own identity, her herstory, or her journey. She had left the camp with many questions and had returned with answers, courage, reassurance about her destiny, and more desire for Morgan, for all her lovers, than she had ever realized possible. When both women returned to reality ; before they climbed into bed, Barbara told Morgan to close her eyes as she sat on the side of the bed. She placed a very scant satin and lace sleep chemise in Morgan's hands. Morgan gasped and then laughed out loud as Barbara dressed her. Morgan touched the satin with her hands a s Barbara caressed her though the chemise. Absence had taught Morgan to abandon any insecurity she initially had as Barbara's lover ; her former young self had been replaced by a very much grown woman's urgen t desire . Barbara caught her breath for seconds as she responded to her young lover and the ancient priestess within. Where once Barbara directed the tempo of their lovers' dance, now she allowed herself abandon to be taken to the ancients and the multiverse repeatedly . She finally opened her eyes and found her voice. Morgan was raised on one elbow smiling at Barbara, stroking her cheek and blonde hair. Barbara smiled , telling her that she had grown up obviously. Morgan quipped a reply that satin and lace will do that to a woman almost every time. Barbara yawned and whispered that she wanted to stay awake naked with her lover for days but it had been a long day ; the next few would be longer and busier. Morgan shifted her body to cradle Barbara in her arms as she kissed sleep into her.

Morgan met Lydia , Amanda, and Laura on the stairs as she was returning to Barbara's room with coffee the following morning. Lydia grinned a s she told Morgan to tell Maclippe to her lazy ass out of bed. Instantly, Morgan replied that in a very few minutes Maclippe's ass was going to be busy ; it would be allowed out of bed only when she permitted . Lydia stepped back on the stairs, stared for a few seconds, and then all three women roared with laughter. Morgan grinned, winked, and continued on her way back to her lover. Amanda murmured that life was not interesting enough apparently.

Barbara was awake and thinking about rising from bed when Morgan returned with coffee. She was still laughing to herself ; Barbara asked to be let in on the joke. Morgan repeated the conversation she had just had with Lydia ; Barbara laughed out loud. She told Morgan she just found her way into Lydia Stenns' heart with only a few words. Morgan had some curiosity but had more desire ; after allowing Barbara time for a few sips of coffee she took her hands, leading her to the shower and passion once again under the warm water. When Barbara had dressed and Morgan had tidied the room, Barbara told her to sit on the bed as she had more presents for her. She handed Morgan the jeans, t-shirts, and all the satin and lace that Jeannie sent for her. Morgan was a giddy as a child at Wintersday as she looked at each item of clothing and then kissed Barbara. She told her lover that she wanted to meet Jeannie. Barbara replied that as soon as the ass kicking started in earnest Jeannie would join them wherever they based themselves as an exceptionally good bomber pilot.

By the time Morgan and Barbara had finished a very late breakfast, Amanda, Laura, and Lydia had finished helping others unload the Raptor and store supplies. All five women met on benches outside the lodge ; Lydia then seriously inquired as to the health of Barbara's rear end. Barbara's look in response was one warning Lydia to back off for a little while. Amanda quickly asked Morgan and Barbara to give them a tour of The Lodge and the farm before they met for the first of many times to start planning their futures. All five woman toured all the outbuildings including the hanger a s well as the building Barbara and Frannie used maintenance. Barbara explained that they had more than enough wind and solar power generation now for all the needs of the buildings, the vehicles, and the Peregrine. Morgan proudly showed them the greenhouse with the new growth of vegetables. Once again, Amanda stated she would ask both Luther and Charlie to supply seeds. Barbara explained to Morgan that both men were expert gardeners with years of knowledge and experience. Amanda told her new young friend that all the Armed Forces bases and all new settlements in Siochain grew their own food leading to self-sufficiency. Morgan asked Ella to show their new friends the stand of maple trees that they had tapped earlier that year with plans to expand the following year. She handed Amanda, Laura, and Lydia pieces of maple candy that had been saved for treats. Amanda, known for a definite sweet tooth, told everyone with a grin that they seriously needed to grow that operation. Ella briefly explained the process of boiling down the maple sap to syrup. Barbara explained that they had used some of the syrup as trade for those items they could not grow or expropriate, like coffee. Amanda was using a recorder to list items them needed to routinely bring to the Lodge with subsequent visits including coffee and coffee plants for the greenhouse. Morgan showed her new friends their method of pumping water from the lake and the natural wells deep beneath the ground and rocks. Morgan hailed Judith to ask if she wanted to show them the animals, barns, and pastures. She ran for an overland vehicle while Morgan returned with the Harlie. Lydia 's eyes lit up ; she had a bright broad smile as Morgan stopped the bike. She told the young woman she was seeing a whole new definition of envy. Morgan laughed, handed Lydia a helmet, telling her to hop on. The two women sped off . As Laura walked to the vehicle she told Barbara that they all loved Morgan already. Barbara soberly remarked that she had not mentioned their lovership , instinctively kn owing it would be a difficult conversation. She asked Laura if she remembered Amanda's reaction when she thought Laura was going off with someone new, even it if was a man with the name of Declan McDaniels. Laura said her heart would never forget that. Barbara murmured that that reaction would likely pale in comparison to what she expected from Morgan. Amanda overheard the conversation , telling both her friends that Morgan was young, in love for the first time, and they all had to realize they were intimidating by just breathing. Barbara countered that she understood that but they had a fight to organize; ownership . pride and jealousy simply would get in the way. Amanda did not reply and climbed into the vehicle.

Judith drove up to the barns to find both Morgan and Lydia laying down fresh bedding for young calves. Barbara instantly remembered work at the ranch along with Lydia . Lydia saw the recognition in Barbara's face , walk ing to her and kiss ing her long, hard, and full on the lips. Morgan turned her back and walked back to the yard. Amanda hurt for the young woman as she understood the confusion and fear she was feeling at the moment. Laura then asked for a tour of the barns to see all the animals. Everyone congratulated Judith on a task well done with recognition of the hours of hard work many women had put in to get the barns ready for wintering over. Amanda quietly told Lydia that Morgan and Barbara were going to ride back to the main compound together on the Harlie ; they needed to have some long alone time.

By the time Morgan arrived back at the lodge she was furious , not wanting to talk to anyone, especially Barbara. Barbara went to hug her ; Morgan told her not to touch her, not look at her, and to leave her well enough alone. Morgan then walked quickly towards the lake as she did not want anyone to see her sobbing. Frannie had watched the exchange , underst anding a lovers' quarrel but k nowing this one was complicated. She trusted all these priestesses ; she also knew that they were powerful, could lay down their own particular and unique brand of hell. Barbara took the Harlie back to the garage and stood at her mechanics bench lost in thought, wanting to hold her young lover and at the same time knowing she needed time to simmer down. Laura and Lydia went into The Lodge to eat ; Barbara finally joined them. Amanda stayed outsid e, watching Morgan for a long time. She finally walked towards the young woman ; when she finally caught up with her she gathered a sobbing young woman in her arms to let her howl her anger and fear. She handed Morgan a lace edged handkerchief to dry her tears and then took her hand to walk along the water's edge. Both women found rocks to perch on as they looked out to the lake and the mountains. Amanda continued to hold Morgan's hand as she spoke softly. She told Morgan that she knew the confusion and hurt she felt. She said that she reacted exactly the same way when she thought she was losing her beloved Laura to another life. She told Morgan that she was absolutely certain that Barbara Maclippe loved her very much. Barbara spoke often of her among her old friends. Amanda explained that although it might not be her place to tell the story she would. She told Morgan about her love affair years before with Lydia Stenns, explaining that Lydia was her first woman lover. She explained they loved each other then and still did. Amanda continued that both women had chosen t o end their lovership when careers called them. When Amanda left Lydia 's arms as her lover, she had invited Barbara home for Wintersday ; Barbara had seduced her. Both women were very much in love with each other and the priestesses who walked in their bodies, Lemanychia and Briallen, were mated for eternity. Morgan went to stand in anger ; Amanda firmly told her stay put as the story needed to be told and if she loved Barbara at all she would listen to the end. Morgan sat back down. Amanda then explained that a very young Laura Ravencouer came into Amanda's life, they fell almost immediately and eternally in love. Morgan knew that Lohrissa, the most ancient high priestess of Naofa, walked in Laura's body and Aine walked in Amanda. Laura left Amanda's life to lead the Resistance as was her destiny. The ancients deemed that Laura had to believe that Amanda had died in order to keep focused on victory. Amanda explained to Morgan that she nearly broke when Laura left ; Lydia kicked her ass into fighting back, for Laura and for all of them. Because Laura was nearly broken by grief, the ancients gave Lindsay to her for love and comfort. Morgan had recognition on her face as Noshi allowed her memories of that part of her former life.

Amanda was silent for a few minutes to allow Morgan to comprehend the journey. Amanda then told her that the ancients directed Lindsay to make the sacrifice of her earth life in order to allow reversal of the effects of the vaccine , thereby restoring fertility in earthlings as they chose. With tears in her eyes, Amanda explained that Laura's heart broke when Lindsay died. She told Morgan that Lydia had convinced the leaders of the victorious Resistance to appoint Amanda Bennett as commander-in chief and take her to a dying Laura. Amanda then explained that their lives settled but that the minions of Olc started to reappear. They almost captured Barbara Maclippe's soul before she chose death and return to Naofa in sacrifice. Morgan was now staring at Amanda as she continued the tale. She said that Lydia and Barbara had been lovers for almost thirty years ; when Barbara died Lydia almost lost the will to live herself. Amanda then explained that her beloved Laura sent her home with Lydia , telling her to comfort her with love as Lindsay had done once when she thought Amanda had died. Tears were tricking down Morgan's cheeks as Amanda continued. She told Morgan that she and Lydia became lovers again physically, adding that to the spiritual and emotional love they have never abandoned. Before Morgan could ask the question, Amanda explained that she continued to be Laura's lover as well. After a moment, she quietly explained that Laura and Lydia also became lovers. She explained that they chose to rise beyond the convention of ownership , to only celebrate the love they felt for each other with expression as they chose. She firmly stated that the idea was once developed by frightened insecure old men who needed to take control of lives in any way possible, including love and passion.

Morgan walked a few steps to the water's edge. She then turned with a look of some understanding on her face. Amanda then told her that when Barbara had returned to their lives they rejoiced , filled with even more love than they knew existed. Lydia and Barbara became lovers again almost immediately ; Amanda and Laura asked Barbara if they too could love her body as well as her soul. Amanda explained that no-one owned anyone. She explained that they all chose to freely love who they chose, that love is love whenever and wherever. Amanda told Morgan clearly and distinctly that it was never a question of better than. She smiled and told the young beauty that they all already loved her; if and when she was ready she could invite any of them to her arms. Amanda then reiterated that Barbara Maclippe loved her very much. Morgan walked to Amanda, took her face between two hands, and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth with the response of an Amanda moan.

Morgan then told the General that she was famished ; they had best find their friends. As they walked back to the lodge hand in hand, Morgan laughed a s she told her friend that she was obviously made the boss lady on purpose as she could negotiate the stripes off a tiger. Amanda laughed out loud. Barbara had watched the two women in the distance for some time . As they walked closer she joine d Morgan, gathering her in her arms, telling her she loved her, plain and simple loved her. Morgan said she had heard that a couple of times just recently. Laura joined her friends to tell them that lunch was waiting for them. As they entered the dining room, Frannie smiled with relief as she saw resolution of yet another struggle.

Amanda asked if there was space in The Lodge where they could meet now and in the future. Morgan mentioned that there was a large meeting space on the second floor at the end of the same wing where they slept. They had opened a small portion of it to use as a computer and communications area. Barbara said it could easily be converted to a command center. She and Morgan left for a minute to return with Frannie and Cora. She explained what they anticipated they needed ; both women reassured them there would be no problem with converting what was an old large sitting room to an office space. Amanda reassured both women that they would help with cleaning, furniture moving, and wiring. Barbara left for a few minutes and returned with Lynn . She said this brilliant young woman had breached Drew's communication system with a bit of help from the ancients . Barbara proposed that she be included in all planning from the present time forward. There was complete agreement from everyone.

Everyone ascended the stairs to the communications area. There was a large space that needed cleaning. Lydia told Lynn that they had several new computers ready for installation. Lynn stated she didn't want to even take them out of cartons before dust and dirt had been cleaned. Amanda agreed and when back before the hearth on the main floor she asked Frannie to organize crews to start cleaning at 0900 hours the following day. She insisted that all five women be included in the crews. Lydia quipped that if she could shovel manure she could shovel dust. Morgan decided that she really did like the woman. She surmised that Barbara Maclippe had excellent taste in women and told her so out loud. Lydia hugged Morgan , reassuring her that Barbara did indeed have good taste. Amanda quietly told Morgan to watch that Stenns woman as she could charm stripes off far better than any of them and she should know. Morgan whispered her reply, stating it was already too late. Only Laura saw a slight smirk on Amanda's face.

Before dinner, Laura opened the carton Jeannie and Sally had sent containing toys. She found basketballs and a hoop. She then asked Morgan if there was a ladder worth climbing. Morgan returned with a ladder, hammer, and nails. Laura climbed up the ladder leaned against one of the outbuildings. She made short work of hanging the hoop before helping Morgan return the ladder to a shed. Morgan already found a bicycle pump and was blowing up basketballs when Barbara joined them to see what they were about. Several older children and young women had gathered to watch the women. Morgan grinned as she threw one of the balls to Laura and then attempted to stop the woman from shooting hoops. Laura was very tall ; Morgan was not. None of the children knew how to play but they were not long learning ; soon the joyful sounds of young voices at play filled the compound. Rennie and Frannie had tears in their eyes as the children had not laughed much in a very long time. Laura took to the sidelines slightly breathless as Amanda told her that she might be just a tad long in the tooth to play basketball. Laura whispered that loving the General usually took way more energy than this child's play. Amanda smiled, moaned, and kissed the woman long, hard, and full on the mouth. Lydia joined them , advising them to get a room. When one of the balls rolled close to Lydia , she grabbed it and made a deliberate exact charge down the cour t to score. She grinned wickedly at both Morgan and Barbara eliciting a smile with shaken heads from both Laura and Amanda.

After the pickup game and before dinner, Lydia said she was beyond dirty and wanted a shower. She walked toward the staircase with a voice trailing a remark that she could not expect to make a decent impression if she was not well groomed. There was only a small wink and grin at Morgan as she passed her. Barbara shook her head , comment ing that the woman gave seduction an entirely different class. Morgan was obviously spellbound as she watched Lydia walked away. Barbara joined Morgan , quietly t elling her that that Stenns woman was very hard to resist. Morgan smiled, t elling her Amanda had said the exact same thing, and she was not sure she was up to any kind of resistance herself. Barbara kissed the young woman's forehead and told her not to try too hard.

Lydia joined her friends just as they were serving themselves dinner. Barbara put her arm about Lydia 's waist , ask ing her if she thought maybe they should both work their magic with all things bovine from the ranch one night soon. Lydia grinned and immediately sought out Frannie to ask if it was possible to construct an outdoor fire pit. Frannie's eyes lit up a s she said that she could do better than that. When they had cleaned the rest of the former lodge kitchen they discovered outdoor grills. She told Lydia the y had a good cut of dry hard wood that she would start for coals when Lydia gave the word. Lydia suggested in two days' time which brought a broad smile to Frannie's face. Lydia served herself dinner before joining her friend s . She told Barbara to dust off her apron in two days' time for a barbeque. Morgan's eyes lit up as she had not tasted anything bovine since childhood.

After dinner and night chores, Lydia wandered out to yard and then walked at sunset to the lake. Mother Moon was full in the sky on a warm summer evening. Morgan watched her walk away ; Barbara told her young friend to follow if she wanted. There was a look of apprehension on Morgan's face which Barbara gently kissed away. She then whispered that she just needed to remember that she had taught Lydia Stenns well. Morgan laughed out loud, returned a kiss, and walked to the beautiful Lydia bathed in moonlight. Barbara returned to the hearth and sat with Laura and Amanda, stating that she felt like an old woman once again. Amanda smiled at her correcting that she was not ol d; she was an ancient and a very beautiful one. All three women then ascended the stairs and walked to their rooms. Barbara stood for a long time and let warm water caress her. When dry, she watched Morgan and Lydia from the balcony in her room, giving down thanks to her ancients for all the wonderful women in her life. She watched them return to the lodge walking hand and hand, chatting, and laughing together.

There was the soft familiar knock at Barbara' bedroom door ; Morgan asked if she could enter. Barbara just beamed her answer before being kissed by her beautiful young friend who told her she wanted to hold her long into the night but only after she had a shower. Barbara promised she would wait. A few minutes later Morgan emerged still drying her lovely twenty-year-old body. Barbara had lit only one lantern ; the room was mostly bathed in moonlight. She gathered Morgan in her arms, kissed her, and led her to the side of the bed. Morgan crawled in between the sheet s, invit ing Barbara to lay with her. Morgan spoke softly, telling Barbara that Lydia Stenns was a wonderful woman indeed. Barbara smiled, stating she could not agree more. Morgan told Barbara that Lydia loved her very much ; Barbara replied that she was very much aware. Morgan then went to tell Barbara of her conversation with Lydia, one where she learned of the life they shared together for almost thirty years. Morgan smiled as she told Barbara that Lydia's eyes shone with love as she talked of their adventures, of their quiet times, of taking horses out on to the plain to a small stream and getting naked in the middle of the day. Barbara chuckled, telling Morgan that Lydia took no convincing whatsoever to get naked at any time of the day. Morgan quietly told Barbara about how Lydia had been taken to tears the first time she was seduced by her beautiful Barbara and then admitted that she was taken to tears every time to the presen t . Lydia spoke of having her heart wrenched from her when Barbara Maclippe died, how both Amanda and Laura had loved some comfort to her soul. Barbara had tears trickling down her cheeks when she heard Morgan speak. She said that Lydia had always known that she would meet Barbara again but did not know when or where. Morgan's eyes also misted when she recounted Lydia 's story of seeing Barbara step down from the helicopter at the Bennett Base just days earlier. Morgan smiled a s she kissed tears from Barbara's cheeks, stating that she heard that she was being bragged about quite often. Barbara whispered that she loved her, had from the first time she laid eyes on her.

Morgan shifted her weight , r ising up on one arm as she looked at Barbara in the moonlight. She told her lover that she only barely understood the love she and Lydia share d; she did not want to interfere with that or sully it in any way. She said she told Lydia the exact same sentiment. Morgan also said that she was not ready to have Barbara Maclippe leave her life. She said she told Lydia she was beautiful, charming, smart, and elicited excitement in her that she did not know existed. Barbara confirmed that was the infamous Lydia Stenns. Morgan was quiet for a few minutes before telling Barbara that Lydia had declined Morgan's attempts at seduction. Once again, Barbara smiled as she instantly understood why. Morgan continued that Lydia had told her to be in love as only the first time can be. Morgan laughed as she told Barbara of Lydia's congratulations at falling for one of the most enticing women on the planet. Lydia told Morgan that when Morgan was really ready, she very much wanted to seduce her as she was beautiful, smart, and if she could keep up with Barbara then she assuredly could keep up with Lydia . Again, Morgan was quiet for several minutes, allowing Barbara to stroke her hair and caress her skin. Morgan said she was very much in love with Barbara ; minute by minute she felt more secure in that. She said that the General had explained it is not a case of better, it is only a consideration of more. She said she was not ready yet to invite another woman to her arms but would encourage and bless any union Barbara had with the other women who obviously all loved each other very much. Barbara gently kissed her young mistress , telling her that they all loved her very much as well; Morgan said she was finally starting to realize that. Within minutes, Morgan Downhey was weeping tears of passion as Barbara touched her, kissed her, journeyed with her to Briallen, Iobairt, the ancients, and the multiverse.

At 0900 hours the following morning ten women started the tasks of thoroughly clearing the old salon and converting it to what would be command the nerve center of the new Southern Resistance, to be known as The Lodge. Morgan was impressed as all her new friends were strong, not easy fatigued, and not one bit afraid of work. Ella brought coffee and food at mid-morning ; when taking a break Amanda made notes to bring decent work stations on their next return. By the end of the day, the room had been turned out well ; neither a speck of dust nor one single bacterium would feel safe attempting squatting. As busy workers anywhere, these women took no prisoners. Lynn declared that room was now acceptable for new computer s; as suc h, Amanda called their first strategy meeting for 1000 hours the following day.

Five friends joined each to eat the evening meal after showers. They all had a sense of accomplishment after a good day's work. Morgan laughed, mostly at herself, as she admitted when she first met Amanda, Laura, and Lydia she thought they would all be typical Military officers, all physically deconditioned, and all thinking themselves above anything that even faintly resembled labor. She apologized to them all, stating that her only excuse was being exposed to only her father's Military. Her friends were quiet and Barbara had a look of surprise on her face. Morgan had never spoken of her past. Morgan was quiet for a moment before taking in a deep breath and explaining to her friends about her past. She had been born the first of four children to parents living on a Military base. Her father was a non-commissioned officer, a master sergeant, a career soldier. He happily embraced the increasingly rigid conservative direction given to the Military by the predecessors of the current Decision. As both parents also converted to fundamentalist religion, the rules in the Downhey home became harsh and unforgiving. Morgan had been a brilliant student ; it was her hope to pursue a career in medicine once she finished her secondary school education. Laura gasped upon hearing that ; Amanda took her hand while encouraging Morgan to continue. Morgan stated that her two youngest siblings, both sisters, were taken from school before the sixth grade ; her brother chose the life of a Military cadet at the age of fourteen. Morgan did not volunteer to stop her education despite increasing pressure by her family, her friends, and her parents' church group. She smiled as she told her friends that she managed to complete a stringent martial arts training despite the conflict. Morgan took a long drink of water , taking in several deep breaths to try to hold back stinging tears just behind her eyes. Barbara and Lydia both took her hands , telling her she did not have to continue if the hurt was too great. Morgan withdrew her hands and clenched her fists before starting to speak again. She told of being able to finish her secondary school education . She applied for university without her parents' knowledge. One evening just past her sixteenth birthday she was sitting in the yard talking to her siblings when her father emerged from the house in a fit of temper. He grabbed Morgan , telling her to get into the vehicle as he had a lesson to teach her. She said she went as she feared if she did not her younger siblings would be punished as well. Her father drove to a side road, shut off her vehicle, screamed at her as he had learned of her application to university behind his back. He dragged her from the vehicle, beat her to bruises, and then raped her repeatedly. He told her maybe she would finally learn a woman's place is to obey men. Morgan then rose and beat the man to death. She took all the money from his pockets and left his body on the side road. Morgan drove the vehicle until there was no fuel. She then continued to travel north, taking offers of rides where she could and walking when she could not. She explained that she worked doing menial work when she could get it in exchange for food and shelter. She spent her first winter with elderly sisters where she did both housework and cooking. She stated that two years earlier she had met Lynn ; both young women travelled together before finding The Lodge with the group of starving women and children. She ended her story by saying that the poor lot had been forced to be cared for by an eighteen-year-old kid and murderer. Morgan had managed to hold back tears but then rose and walked to the yard. The four priestesses sat without words. Amanda then rose and silently went to find her young friend. Amanda had been raped at the age of fifteen years old and years later had testified to put the man in prison for the rest of his life. She understood the anger, shame, degradation, humiliation, and sense of violation that her new young friend felt. Morgan had walked to the hanger and sat against the wall sobbing. Amanda helped her to stand and then gathered the young woman in her arms, holding her as she sobbed and screamed her anger. Barbara heard her and rose to go to her. Lydia motioned her to sit back down with a look that told both her friends to trust Amanda and her experience. Lydia then took Barbara's hand , walk ing towards the staircase and her room. Laura followed. Laura entered Amanda's room, turned down clean bedding, insured there were towels for showers, robes for afterwards, and lit two lanterns before returning to her own room. Not long afterwards, she heard Amanda enter her room and close the door. She also heard two soft voices through the walls and knew that Morgan was with her. Laura knew that she would find her time alone with Morgan when she was ready ; for the present time Morgan needed the comfort that only Amanda could give her.

Amanda started water running for a shower and then invited Morgan to the warm water's soothing while she lit lanterns about the room. From the time before they had good use of electricity at the cabin, before the battles, she and Laura both preferred the light from candles, lanterns, and fireplaces. She already recorded a huge order of candles for the Lodge as part of ongoing supplies to be transported with each return from Siochain. Morgan was slightly bewildered as she had assumed that Amanda would join her to shower. Amanda hugged her friend , telling her that the time for intimacy would come but right now she needed comfort ; Amanda had become quite adept at that, albeit with great guidance from many amazing friends. She handed Morgan a robe though a slightly opened door when she heard the water stop. When Morgan joined Amanda, she was handed a short snifter of brandy and asked to wait while Amanda grabbed a quick shower herself. Morgan did not feel frightened or anxious in the company of this very powerful General. She only felt loved and cared for by all her new friends. She assumed that Barbara was lying in Lydia 's arms ; once again she harbored no resentment but simply a glimpse of understanding and celebration. Only moments later, Amanda joined Morgan after a brief shower. Morgan had been sitting on the side of the bed and started to rise as Amanda walked to the other side. Amanda told her to stay put. Morgan turned to face Amanda as she lay propped up on pillows. Morgan smiled as she realized that General Amanda Bennett was likely old enough in earth years to be her mother as was Lydia but neither of them looked much older than perhaps ten years her senior. Amanda said she was glad to see a smile return to Morgan's face. Morgan replied she was smiling at herself and a very beautiful Commander-in-Chief of an entire country. Morgan said further that four years ago she was just a kid right out of secondary school ; now she was almost naked in bed with an Armed Forces general in what she already understood was not this man's army any longer.

After a few minutes of silence, Morgan found enough courage to ask Amanda how she found peace and healing after being raped; with the question Morgan's eyes filled with tears once again and there was a slight quiver in her voice. Amanda opened her arms and invited Morgan to lay in them with her head resting on Amanda's shoulder. Morgan then was told the story of the former general Anthony Downs, Amanda's rape as a fifteen year old, his days of raping and murdering woman, of the murder of their friend Karina and her lover Susan. Amanda told Morgan of how Lohrissa had maimed and emasculated Tony Downs , then t elling The Decision, his commanding officers, his wife and family, and the press. Amanda explained that Laura had walked with her through the stages of that pain many times in her life , finally just before Anthony Downs was tried and found guilty of rape and murder. Amanda spoke of internalizing her feelings of shame and anger, cloaking them in a need to take power from men in the former military. She said by the time she had been promoted to Colonel she was an embittered lonely thirty-year-old earthling. She laughed softly as she said she thought that all the whispered myths about Naofa, priests, priestesses and magic, w ere simply bunk. Amanda then told her young friend that the ancients gave her Laura Ravencouer with her life being changed joyfully and forever. Amanda had tears in her own eyes as she recounted how she had seen Lohrissa emerge for the first time when a child was born at Barbara's and Lydia's ranch, a child in whose body the ancient priest Doakus now walked. Morgan remained silent as Amanda told her of being loved by the priestess Lohrissa to a point of almost disbelief. Amanda then shifted her weight slightly to kiss Morgan on the brow, telling her that her father had been a prisoner of the evils of Olc. She reassured her young friend that she was not responsible for that evil ; it was hoped that her father's soul was released to the ancients when his earth body died. Amanda kissed Morgan's brow again , reminding her that she was loved by Barbara, by all the holy ones, by all the ancients, and by all the women at the Lodge who she had led and kept alive under very demanding circumstances. Amanda looked at her , explaining that it was true she had taken a life but she had given many more in its wake. Morgan was sobbing softly once again ; Amanda then gathered her in strong, knowing, and loving arms. Amanda gently rocked the young woman as she found peac eful sleep.

Morgan woke early the following morning, at first confused as to her bearings. She remembered falling sleep in Amanda's arms the night before with a sense of at least some peace and closure about her past. Amanda emerged from the shower with a smile , greet ing morning blessings to her young friend. She reminded Morgan that they had a strategy planning meeting that morning ; she needed to wake, shower, and get ready to commit the hell out of the rest of her life. Morgan grinned, rose to go to her own room, shower, and ready herself for the day. She hugged Amanda and kissed her softly, thanking her for helping her to find the beginning journey to healing. Amanda smiled , stating that is what sisters did for each other; many had walked with her own journey for years. Morgan returned to her own room. She had slept there rarely since she had become Barbara's lover but she did keep her clothing and effects there. She then joined Amanda and Laura in the common room for coffee and breakfast. Shortly thereafter, they were joined by Barbara and Lydia who both kissed morning blessings into all their friends with a special embrace for Morgan. Barbara smiled a special thank you to Amanda who smiled her own acknowledgement.

Lynn met the priestesses in the new command post at 1000 hours. She had set up computers and had connected with Drew McDaniels who introduced himself with congratulat ions to her on another successful breach of his brilliant communications system. Lynn replied her thanks , admitt ing she had some help from Barbara and the ancients. Drew told her that this was the second time Barbara Maclippe had made his lengthy computer skills pale in comparison. He then soberly sincerely told Lynn that he would help in any way he could as they started to claim back their lives.

It was a unanimous decision that Amanda Bennett would coordinate leadership of the newly organized Southern Resistance. She humbly explained that she was in the company of a young woman who had led a band of ragtag fighters, teaching them how to become bomber pilots using old aircraft and then expropriated Raptor's. She sincerely asked that they all help her make the right decisions. Lydia quietly said that she did not think very much help would ever be needed. Amanda led the six pilots from the West in all but one battle against the former military. Lydia was very sure she could lead again.

It was agreed that the first order of business was to initiate contact with other groups of survivors. Amanda congratulated both Morgan and Barbara on their exceptional work of converting The Lodge into what would be an excellent central command post. She printed her lists of supplies to be brought back with their next return. They discussed the need to repair all the outbuildings as well as erect others. Barbara s tated there was good cover with all the forest and mountains surrounding The Lodge and wondered if Ross or Declan could secure steel buildings to be used as hangers. Morgan questioned the sanity of drawing attention to construction at what was perceived as an abandoned hotel. Laura said if they got too curious they would just bomb the hell out of them so she was not to worry. Morgan was taken aback for a minute as she realized that the beautiful, quiet spoken, demure Laura Ravencouer had a steel will with an attitude to match. They all smiled as they saw Morgan's revelation. Amanda asked Lynn if she could contact the Ravencouer Base ; in less than two minutes Ross Shipman was talking to them all by satellite link. Laura introduced Morgan and Lynn. Ross' inherent sensitivity led him to not make mention of Lindsay. Amanda asked him to help Matthew order steel enclosures and ready them for transport to the Lodge, explaining the intent of being used as hangers. She asked how difficult a task it would be in order to expand existing tarmac. Ross replied that he could have the supplies ready with the transport of the buildings. Barbara asked about the need for special equipment or specialized labor skills to which Ross replied that he would include the equipment and only strong arms were needed. Barbara was sure they could arrange that easily.

The next order of business was the training of pilots from The Lodge. Amanda insisted that Barbara had more than enough skills to teach the basic skills to fly the Peregrine and then the students could be instructed on how to become bomber pilots. When a look of abject terror crossed Morgan's face, Amanda firmly , very soberly told her she would be a bomber pilot, as many others would be. She said that she was sure she had figured out that if she was interested in breathing then she would fight back. Barbara looked at her lover , telling her that fear did not enter into the equation. She said they were all terrified with every mission they had flown in the former battles but anger and determination were greater, that the love for her brothers and sisters always overtook the fear. She said there was no choice in the matter. She also smiled , stating that if she thought stealing a helicopter was fun, then she would love flying one. Before Lynn could say a word she was told she would also learn how to fly. Lynn was learning quickly to push her former resentment to determination. She finally felt like her brain along with her skills were being used and needed. She had been so unhappy for most of her time at The Lodge ; everyone was delighted with her bright smile and a ready agreement to more adventure.

Amanda then asked if it was possible to have a look at the closest Military base. Morgan and Barbara both laughed , explaining that they could take any or all of them there in the darkness of night. They had been there in the rain and snow. Lydia asked Lynn if she had been able to breach their computer system . Lynn replied she was working on it but had hit some hurdles. Lydia stated that before they returned to the North they would simply remove the hurdles. She did acquiesce to asking Drew and Annique McDaniels for some help however.

Frannie and Cora brought lunch to the women in the command post. Amanda thanked them both , stating that in the future they would remember to meet their sisters in the common room to eat. She reiterated that they were not to be waited on. Frannie Benson was a woman close to the earth age of Jeannie and Sally, a wise woman, an ancient. She rose to her full height, put both hands on her hips, and told Amanda that she would bring lunch if and when she chose. She did not see it as any act of subservience but instead yet another way she could contribute to the fight back. She then turned and walked from the room. Lydia looked at Amanda , remark ing that she might have met her match. Amanda replied "Indeed."

After lunch, Amanda then asked Lynn to contact Sterling and Amelia Carland. Amanda spoke briefly with them , introduc ing them to Lynn Chester and Morgan Downhey. Amanda informed them that Lynn was the communications specialist for the Southern Resistance ; the command post was being established at The Lodge. She then directed Lynn to write a detailed report of the activities they had observed in their experience. Amanda already forwarded her previous reports to both Amelia and Sterling . Sterling advised the Resistance fighters that their brothers and sisters in Avalon were ready to lend whatever help they could. Once again Morgan gasped as she only just began to under the scope of the fight they were about to launch. Barbara s tated that the former coordinator for overland transportation for the Northern Resistance, Roy Crosby, had a wonderful saying that summed up the entire attitude, that of go big or go home.

At 1530 hours, Amanda ended the meeting. She asked that they meet again in two days' time to finalize plans to return to the Bennett Base and the next return to The Lodge. Barbara suggested that they visit the Military base the following night as Mother Moon's cycle was just in infancy with only a small crescent, lending well to darkness.

Barbara waited to walk downstairs and then outside with Morgan. She hugged her lover ; inquiring if was in a better frame of mind since the previous evening. Morgan returned the kiss , replying that the hurt was still there but healing had started ; if Amanda Bennett was to be believed healing would take place over time. Both women strolled towards the lake and stood watching sun start the late day kiss of mountaintops. Morgan smiled , telling Barbara that she really was happy that Lydia loved her. Barbara returned the smile , reassur ing her young mistress that she was very aware. Barbara did not ask of Morgan's night with Amanda. Morgan kissed Barbara long, hard, and full on the mouth several times , quietly ask ing if she planned on being busy later on that evening. Barbara whispered that she hoped to be busy with a very beautiful twenty-year-old with a body that just would not quit. Amanda , Lydia , and Laura all watched from a distance, arms wrapped around each other's waists. Frannie and Rennie watched from a window ; both remarked to the other that if The Decision wanted themselves an argument they were about to get one.

Later that evening, after passion had been found temporarily at least Morgan sat up in bed , smil ing down at Barbara Maclippe. Morgan told her that on a couple of occasions she had been told about novels supposed written by a woman named Breagh. Without speaking a word or bothering to find clothing, Barbara left the room, walked down the hallway and knocked on Amanda's door. When asked to enter, Barbara walked in, excused her interruption, and asked Laura if she had the books Breagh had written as she needed to prove herself once again. Laura climbed out of loving arms to find her pack. She handed Barbara the volumes before politely but firmly ask ing her to leave. Barbara grinned, saluted all three women, and walked back down the hall to Morgan. Again without words, she handed Morgan her books written years before in a time of relative innocence in her life. Morgan's eyes were shining with excitement and pleasure as she took the books from Barbara and immediately opened the first one. Barbara tried to take the books from her lover's hands. She suggested that she leave the reading for when they were not naked and nearly mad with desire. Morgan gave in easily to that request as Barbara shut lights leaving only the soft glow of a lantern. Briallen met Iobairt ; both priestesses travelled long and far to the ancients and the multiverse once again. Barbara laughed, mostly at herself, as the beautiful Morgan could induce tears easily. She held Morgan who glowed with absolute beauty. She turned in her lover's arms , reminding Barbara that her friends were leaving soon and she should spend time with them in love before they departed. Morgan quietly stated that she could lie in her lover's arms many nights when the others were back at the Bennett Base. Barbara gently kissed Morgan's brow as Morgan continued. She said that she was very much in love with Barbara Maclippe and would be for her remaining time on earth but also completely understood that Briallen was mated with Lemanychia for eternity. She smiled as she admitted that she was completely amazed that she accepted and understood that. She also admitted that she was not ready to invite another women into her arms but had invited them all into her heart ; they had all accepted the invitation. With a wicked grin, she told Barbara that it took some internal convincing not to attempt to seduce the General as she was a breathtakingly beautiful commander-in-chief. Barbara simply smiled her response.

Morgan had not spoken of Laura or Lindsay since she recognized her when they arrived at The Lodge. Noshi had allowed her to see Lindsay's days with Laura and Morgan knew about Lindsay's child. However, she had not been allowed to walk through that pain or experience as of yet. In their wisdom, the ancients chose to allow Morgan to adjust to her knowledge and understanding of Iobairt before she would be allowed to further the connection with Laura.

All five women joined each other for breakfast with lovelights shining. Frannie smiled , whistl ing low under her breath as she clearly understood the dynamics of the relationships between these women . She also fully understood that it would continue to become more interesting in the not too distant future. Morgan called for Lynn to join them ; as she did , Morgan ran to her room quickly , returning with a brand new pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt. She smiled a s she handed them to Lynn whose eyes grew wide to match a bright smile that nobody at the camp had seen previously. She jumped up, hugged Morgan, and kissed her briefly on lovely lips. Lydia grinned as only Lydia could with the infamous Stenns smirk. Lynn returned minutes later, obviously showered with wet hair, wearing new jeans and a new t-shirt. Several women in the common room whistled which elicited a lovely blush. Lynn smiled once again , t elling all the priestesses that these were her first brand new items of clothing. She said she could not been happier if they had been designer made. Laura said they were and told her about Mary Jeanne Designs. Morgan told her friend that when the ass kicking got started in earnest she would meet Jeannie Dawson and her lover Sally Palmer as they were both accomplished pilots. Lynn was still struggling to comprehend the relationship between Barbara and Morgan although had no judgment and only complete tolerance. She simply did not understand as she had been raised in a home with a male and female parent; up until a few weeks prior she did not really know that same sex partners existed or loved each other. She was very bright ; somewhere in her head there were increasingly strong inklings that her entire take on relationships was about to be changed permanently. Amanda was making notes once again to ask Ruthann Smithers for clothing as she could gather it. Laura asked Barbara and Morgan if any of the women could sew ; Morgan replied many could as it was the only solution to staying warm in the past few years when The Decision kept people near starvation without funds to purchase much. Amanda continued to make notes ; Laura made a mental reminder to have her sewing machine at the cabin moved to the Bennett Base for transportation to The Lodge.

Amanda , Lydia , and Laura met in the communications center on the second floor , sen ding separate emails back to the Bennett Base, the Carriere Base, Ross Shipman and Declan McDaniels at the Ravencouer Base, and to Luther McBane, Jeannie Dawson, and Sally Palmer. After finishing lunch, Barbara reminded the priestesses to meet in the yard at 2300 hours to join her, Morgan, Frannie, and Cora. She told them all to wear black clothing. She told them all to bring packs and loaded guns in concealed holsters. There was no need to remind of the latter as each woman wore weapons daily including Morgan Downhey. Everyone choose quiet time and naps before dinner as it was planned that they would be awake long into the night.

The women gathered in the yard just before 2300 hours. Barbara invited Lydia to ride with her on the Harlie while everyone else climbed aboard an overland vehicle and drove to the abandoned side road. Barbara checked the charge on the fence , finding it still disabled. She and Morgan unwired the opening in the fence and all five priestesses made their way on foot to the outbuildings at the base. Everyone was busy taking photographs and watching for guards. One young man approached ; all the women hid as he passed and then walked back to a guard hut near the entrance road to the base. Laura ran to the administration building ; she and Barbara quickly picked locks and entered to take many photographs. They joined the others just moments later. In less than ninety minutes all women were outside a rewired fence and on their way to return to The Lodge. Morgan grinned all the way home as she now fully understood that she was in the company of masters and magic women. There was instant assured non-verbal communication between them all ; she had been very much a part of that although she had practice on previous raids with Barbara. When all were safely back in the common room, Amanda congratulated everyone on a successful mission ; with a very serious face stating they knew none better than Frannie and Cora at keeping six. Morgan was too young to understand the compliment but she laughed out loud along with everyone else. Amanda then asked everyone to meet in the command center at 1100 hours before suggest ing that everyone get some much needed sleep.

At the meeting at 1100 hours, Lynn emailed all the photographs the Bennett Base, the Ravencouer Base, the Shipman Base, and the Carriere Base. She also forwarded the information to Amelia and Sterling Carland. The agenda was set for gathering data from other known pockets of survivors. Laura emailed Drew and Annique McDaniels to insure secure communications with them via a satellite link. Laura also asked Declan to contact Archie Granger to start his magic on false identification. She expropriated a sample while they raided the administration building ; she emailed photographs. She told Drew and Annique that she would send the paper sample north when they returned to the Bennett Base.

The women then designed a preliminary schedule for training Morgan, Lynn, Frannie, Cora, and Judith as pilots. Amanda indicated that before they left they planned to meet with all the women and children at The Lodge to inform them of the plans and the time of their return. Amanda already emailed Serena Lorimer and Charles Smithson to expedite training of bomber pilots at the Carriere Base. Lydia Stenns and Laura Ravencouer were chosen to teach at The Lodge. Amanda specifically asked that Sally Palmer take a refresher course as she had already learned how to fly the large helicopters intended for bombing raids.

Amanda then spoke about using the same plan that Commander Ravencouer had implemented years earlier when they had defeated The Decision in the North, that of systematically destroying bases, airstrips, supply depots, harbors, and overland transportation routes. There was no doubt this would be a daunting task as there were many more sites established south of the wall but Amanda quietly and firmly stated that they would destroy them all as they had in the past. Andrew and Annique McDaniels had brilliantly managed to use a scrambled satellite link to start detection of all installations. Sterling and Amelia Carland worked daily with their counterparts in Avalon to gain information using the scrambled satellite link. Morgan again was quiet as she listened to the priestesses and ancients plan freedom for her brothers and sisters. She was no longer frightened ; quickly becoming part of a group of ancients planning victory over Olc one more time.

The last item for discussion was a date to return to the Bennett Base and then back to The Lodge. Laura suggested that they plan to return to Bennett in two days' time with a return to the South two weeks following. The first trips would be to transport as many supplies a possible as well as to make more contingency plans. Amanda smiled at Lynn as she told her that until they won the fight she should not expect any time off. They all told her that the survivors were very fortunate to have found her , knowing she had been sent by the ancients. She was one herself although she had little understanding of that as of yet. Lynn beamed , firmly stat ing she would work night and day until they beat the bastards.

After dinner and an early shower, Morgan walked to Barbara's room and found Breagh's books. She then returned to her own room to be lost in the tales as told by her lover years before. She had kissed Barbara goodnight ; with a smile she told her to go to her friends. She and her friends needed to be together and bask in the lifelong love they shared for one another. Morgan was not sad or angry and only felt joy as she started to comprehend her life among these holy ones.

Amanda answered a soft knock at her door and then gathered Barbara Maclippe in her arms. Barbara smiled before ask ing if she had any plans for the night. Amanda grinned a reply , stating she just made some. Barbara walked about the room and extinguished candles, leaving only one lantern flame. She took Amanda's hand and led her to the shower. With very soft kisses, she undressed the General and then undressed herself. She smiled as she bathed Amanda's beautiful body, uttering no words and only sighs. She dried her lover's body and then her own, once again in silence and not allowing any aggression on Amanda's part. Amanda could not take her eyes away from Barbara's as she was led to the bed. Again, Barbara invited the General to join her with only soft kisses. Amanda smiled as she fought tear s, whisper ing that she would never be quite as easy as Lydia . Passion overtook any further plans and cries of love rang out repeatedly throughout the night. Morgan smiled as she fell asleep knowing that Barbara was very much loved.

Morgan was on her way to coffee and breakfast the following morning when she met Lydia kissing Laura long, hard, and full on the mouth. She shook her head, grinned, and simply stated "Someday" as she walked past them and down the stairs. Amanda was already lost in conversation with Lynn . As Morgan looked about for Barbara she was told the lovely Maclippe was in the machine shed doing maintenance on vehicles. She found a second cup of coffee and walked across the yard to find Barbara humming softly as she cleaned engine parts. She smiled as she saw Morgan enter the shed ; after wiping grease from her hands she took both coffee cups, placed them on the bench, and gathered the beautiful young woman in her arms, kissing morning into her. Morgan quipped that she was almost as good at kissing as she was at writing. Barbara kissed her repeatedly until Morgan laughed for her to stop and drink her coffee. Barbara finished the task she had started and then walked to the Raptor to check the mechanics in preparation for a return flight in the morrow to the Bennett Base. Batteries had been charged ; before installing them she found Frannie and asked her if she wanted to learn how to do that change on a large helicopter. Frannie was with her in minutes. When done, Morgan asked if she could climb into the huge aircraf t; Barbara helped her aboard. Morgan gasped when she saw both bombs and missiles in the hold and at the rear of the helicopter. She had a look of complete repulsion on her face and was about to start a rant about violence when Barbara took her by both shoulders , firmly t elling her that she could grow up any time soon. She told Morgan that the rules were simple. One either killed or was killed. She said in a perfect world earthlings would listen first to reason before lust for power and greed. Barbara then reiterated that everyone knew they did not live in a perfect world. Barbara turned, walked away, and left Morgan to disembark by herself.

Barbara returned both coffee cups to the kitchen and then walked into the common room to join Lydia , Amanda, Laura, and Lynn . From the look on Barbara's face, everyone knew better than to ask about Morgan's whereabouts. In a few minutes, those in the common room heard the Harlie start and then speed away from the yard. Lydia looked at Barbara with absolutely no mirth in her eyes or voice , ask ing if she really thought it was safe for them to return to Bennett. She queried the status of The Lodge if the two women destined to lead when they were away could not keep civil tongues in their heads. She continued by telling Barbara that Morgan was young and had taken in an enormous amount of life-altering information in a very short period of time. She said she was a priestess from Naofa and none of them would tolerate unkindness or hurt. She sternly told Barbara that she needed to find some patience and wisdom in her life back among the earthlings if this plan was to work. Nobody could lay down hell like Lydia Stenns. Before she turned to walk away, she told Barbara to find a whole lot of I'm sorry and I love you and then go seek out the women. Amanda, Laura, and Lynn were silent with eyes cast downwards as Lydia walked past them to the kitchen. Barbara returned to the repair shed ; minutes later the Harlie rolled back into the yard. Lynn was already wide eyed at the exchange between Lydia and Barbara ; when raised voices were heard from inside she looked with misgiving at those seated with her. Lydia smiled at Amanda and Laura as Morgan could be heard laying down her own version of hell on Barbara. Morgan's tirade lasted for several minutes before there was silence once more. Barbara hurried to keep up Morgan as she entered the common room and walked quickly to where the women were seated. She looked at all of them directly ; with a very calm, exceedingly determined voice she told them that in the future if there were to be bombs and missiles among them she wanted to be informed at the outset. She went on to explain that in case it had not been noticed there were innocent adults and children living at The Lodge ; she needed to be able to at least warn them to shelter. She finished by unequivocally stating that if she was to be a part of the Southern Resistance and if she was about to ask everyone living with her to endanger their lives until victory she at least needed to know the truth without any lies by omission. Morgan then walked to the kitchen, found a cup of coffee, and returned to the yard to help with moving materials for the greenhouse. Lynn did not speak , leaving the group of women quietly and quickly. All four women simply looked at each other as Amanda then spoke that Morgan Downhey was right, was feisty as hell, and could hold her own with all of them. Barbara also smiled a s she mentioned that she was even more drop dead gorgeous when vexed. Laura knew that the ancient warrior Iobairt was quickly finding her way to the surface of Morgan's soul , g iving down thanks with blessings to Noshi as she knew that for every day in their futures they all would walk with her courage and brilliance.

In midafternoon, Amanda, Laura, and Lydia readied themselves for an early morning flight the next day. Morgan spent the rest of her day helping with construction of the greenhouse. Barbara made herself scarce in the mechanics shed, trying to distract herself from the ache she felt in her heart from Morgan's ang ry rejection. Not long before dinner, Laura wandered into the machine shed and hugged her sister friend. Barbara tried to smile but her bottom lip was quivering as she fought to hold back tears with feelings of foolishness. She was an ancient priestess but she was crying because some kid had laid down hell on her and was ignoring her. Laura kissed her friend on the cheek , quietly t elling Barbara that Morgan loved her. Part of her reaction was because of feeling entirely overwhelmed by the changes so far in her young life and even more with the changes she knew were coming. Laura spoke to being able to easily identify with those feelings as she had been just Morgan's age when she knew she would be taken away from Amanda, from all of them, to lead the Northern Resistance. She asked Barbara if she knew the priestess Iobairt ; Barbara replied that she was only just beginning to reconnect to her knowledge of the ancient holy one. Laura smiled as she reassured Barbara that this ancient warrior would be on the front lines of the upcoming battle as she had been since the birth of Naofa. She also told Barbara that she would not leave them this time until victory was insured. Barbara was quiet as she moved away from her friend to clean tools and tidy her work space. She then returned; taking took Laura in her arms to kiss her long, hard, and full on the mouth. Laura stroked her cheeks with wisps of blonde hair kissing them. She told Barbara that she would miss her when they were away; to save some time in her arms and her bed for her when they returned. Barbara went to speak ; Laura kissed her softly, telling her that Morgan needed her this night more than any of them and Barbara needed her more as well. Barbara again was quiet for moments ; with a smile of woman very much in love she walked to the kitchen to find Frannie. They emerged after a short period of time , going upstairs to a storeroom at the other end of the hallway of rooms. Both women carried a small round table and then two chairs to Barbara's room. Frannie ran downstair s, return ing with table linens, some salvaged Lodge china and stemware. Barbara changed bed linens and placed many candles about the room. She then wrote a small note and asked Frannie to deliver it with a request to bring dinner for two to her room if Morgan looked like she might join her. Frannie smiled, told her she must have really vexed the woman, and that she was good, very good indeed. Frannie returned to the yard and before delivering Barbara's written message she found wild tiger lilies for a bouquet. She returned the flowers quickly to the kitchen ; after a small conference with Cora she then went out to find Morgan. The young woman was busy carrying salvaged lumbar when Frannie asked her to stop for a moment as she has mail for her. Morgan had a decided look of questioning on her face when Frannie handed her Barbara's note. Morgan read it quietly ; after a moment a very wicked grin broke across her face. Frannie took that to mean she needed to deliver dinner at the requested hour.

Morgan finished carrying the lumbar before telling the women working with her that she was done for her day as she had a date. There were only a few raised eyebrows and only from the younger women on the crew. She climbed the stairs to her own room where she stood under a warm shower , emerging to find some satin, lace, and a pair of clean skin tight jeans. Morgan laughed out loud as someone had placed a bottle of perfume, make up, and four inch heels near her closet. Morgan had not walked in heels since secondary school but it only took a bit of practice before she felt confident to walk down the hall to Barbara's room to knock softly on the door. Frannie was just leaving ; she only grinned and let forth a low whistle as she a laid eyes on the former child who led them. Morgan walked through the door to find Barbara lighting candles and pouring champagne. She looked up , gasp ing when she saw her young mistress. She knew instantly that Laura had left the heels, the makeup, and the perfume as she had the champagne. The woman did know how to make a setting for romance. Barbara took the young woman in her arms, t elling her she was sorry for any hurt she had cause d and that she loved her. Morgan remained silent but then kissed Barbara Maclippe long, hard, and full on the mouth several times until knees started to buckle. Morgan also apologized for a typical knee jerk reaction. She said her only excuse was pure and simple fear. Barbara smiled, reassured her that they were all afraid but that if they allowed the fear to dominate their actions then Olc won again ; she was not about to let that happen at least without a good fight. Morgan smiled , stating that she was quite certain that someone among them would kick her ass if she got out of line with that fear again in the future. Barbara replied she had heard that she could actually hold her own with those among them.

Both women sat down to dine and enjoy champagne. Morgan admitted she had never tasted champagne in her life ; she could get very used to liking it quickly. Barbara did warn her about the intoxicating elements , warning that some women also found there to be some aphrodisiac properties as well. Morgan quipped very seriously it was a fact that they needed those in a large way. Just as they were finishing their meal, there was another quiet knock at the door ; Laura entered to take the dinner dishes back to the kitchen. She just grinned with a decided look of mischief on her face as she said goodnight to her friends.

Barbara had worn a long tunic and leggings ; when she rose from the table she removed both, revealing only a corset and lovely priestess skin. Morgan caught her breath before removing her own jeans to reveal only satin and lace. She did not think she could possibly want Barbara more than she did that night but only until Barbara told her to start untying the ribbons that laced the corset. Morgan asked where she found that lovely useless piece of clothing. Barbara replied from Jeannie to which Morgan said she absolutely had to meet the woman. Barbara reassured her that she would very likely relatively soon. Barbara slowly touched her young lover, bringing her first to tears and then to crashing passion. Briallen then asked to meet Iobairt who rose quickly from Morgan's soul. Briallen was only just a match for the passion, for the power given and taken by Iobairt as both earthlings were lost in the journeys to the ancients and the multiverse. Earth hours later after each woman found her voice again, Morgan whispered that she did not think she would ever really get used to that. Barbara replied she hoped neither one of them ever did. Barbara caressed Morgan gently, telling her that Iobairt was a very strong priestess warrior; all the survivors would give thanks to the ancients for her as Barbara already did. Morgan was quiet for several minutes before replying that she was ready now for the battles, whatever they brought. Barbara kissed her, saying she knew that herself as well.

Chapter 7

Barbara woke Morgan the following morning, telling her that the priestesses were leaving at 1000 hours to return to the Bennett Base. Morgan hugged her lover , asking if she was sad to see them leave. Barbara replied that she was not as she knew that they would spent many months together in the future. It was part of the plan to have them return to Bennett, gather supplies, meet with their counterparts in Siochain, and then return for further planning. Barbara asked Lydia to send the preliminary reading material for pilot instruction by satellite so that Morgan, Lynn, Frannie, Cora, Judith could start studying. When Lydia returned in two weeks, she planned to bring all the handbooks and help establish a training schedule for the women. Morgan also planned to start martial arts training for all the women and children at The Lodge as it would become a mandatory part of training for all survivors as they planned their fight to regain their freedom.

Morgan and Barbara met Lydia , Laura, and Amanda as they were carrying their kit bags to the Raptor. All three women planned to take turns as pilot and copilot for the six hour return to the Bennett Base. Lydia ran the preflight check list as Barbara, Morgan, and Frannie helped to stow gear aboard the helicopter. Amanda was lost in last minute instructions and requests with Lynn . All the woman and children at The Lodge gathered in the yard as their new friends prepared to take off. Morgan approached her new friends first , hugg ing and kissing blessings for safe travel and love into each of them. Barbara then did the same. Just before the women boarded the aircraft, all the priestesses emerged with auras shimmering and blessed the survivors in the south. The Raptor was then airborne heading northwest.

Morgan spent the rest of the day helping to install the glass panels in the greenhouse. When they were finished, Barbara helped to seal the panels against water leakage. Over the next few days, the women planned to build raised tables and beds for plants as well as prepare the earth for planting. Frannie and Rennie went to clean the rooms where the priestesses had lived for several days but found the linens changed, each room tidied and swept. Frannie smiled as she finally realized that they were sisters who had lived among them and would for years to come.

Laura , Lydia , and Amanda took turns piloting and copiloting the Raptor back to the Bennett Base. Upon landing, Matthew met them on the tarmac , welcom ing them back to the base. He did not ask of their journey ; he would get details when he needed to know. All three women were tired and after dinner in the staff dining room they all retired to their quarters. Lydia returned to her rooms alone ; although tired her arms and heart ached for Barbara. She wanted to email her but chose to wait until the morning after she had met with Amanda and Laura.

The following morning, all three women met in Amanda's office , start ing the process of gathering supplies and information. Laura emailed Lynn ; after greetings she asked her to let everyone know they had arrived safely. She also expressed their gratitude for the kindness they had been shown, stating that she was well aware that they could all be intimidating at times by simply breathing. Lynn replied immediately, saying they had adjusted well ; most people remarked that they missed their sisters already. Lynn reported that Morgan had had her first class gathered for introduction to martial arts and was leading exercise in the yard as Lynn wrote. She also said with a joke that she was hoping that if she was kept busy enough in the command center Morgan would forget she was not taking part. Laura replied that she would tell Morgan as soon as she could so Lynn should probably just give in and join the others. Before she signed off, she forwarded a message from Barbara that she would contact them later on in the day.

Amanda arranged for a meeting the following day by satellite with Charles Smithson, Serena Lorimer, Declan McDaniels, Ross Shipman, Andrew McDaniels, Annique McDaniels, Amelia and Sterling Carland. After lunch, they three women met with Matthew Brandon , giving him details of what they had seen and learned while at The Lodge. Amanda printed the list of items they needed to transport back to The Lodge in two weeks' time. He started to question whether the supplies could all be loaded safely into one Raptor. Amanda told him they were flying two Raptors. Lydia emailed the data for preliminary instruction for pilots so that the women at The Lodge could start their preparation to learn to fly helicopters. Laura contacted Luther to let their friends at the coast know of their wellbeing and their trip. She asked that her sewing machine be packed for air transport to the Bennett Base as soon as possible. She then emailed Jeannie and Sally , pass ing along the delight of all the women who had received new clothing. She said that many women sewed at The Lodge and that she was sending her sewing machine as it was not likely she would need it in the years to come. She asked Jeannie to speak to Ruthann to ask for as much clothing as they could gather ; the survivors at The Lodge were in need. The contact process for other survivors in the South was in its infancy but there were other survivors who were in even greater need than those at The Lodge ; as such all their brothers and sisters needed love and support. Laura ended by saying that fortunately they knew how before sending love from her, Lydia , and Amanda.

Amanda called the meeting to order at 1300 hours the following day. She previously forwarded a report detailing the conditions at The Lodge, the many photographs of the Military base including what aircraft and weapons they had seen. She then suggested that they needed to establish safe journey for any survivor groups they found, bring them to The Lodge, and then north if they chose. She suggested that The Lodge become the permanent command post for the Southern Resistance. She confirmed they were gathering supplies with return to The Lodge in two weeks' time, flying two Raptor s She explained that Barbara Maclippe planned to teach basic pilot skills to a few women to begin with and then as many others as was possible. Laura spoke of using the same format for undermining The Decision in the South as they had in the North; destroying their Military bases, transportation routes, air fields, and fuel depots. Amanda then spoke to everyone about getting the information about the Military installations in the South with as much detail as possible. It was not necessary to explain her reasoning.

The officers received reports on the progress of the new hangers, transportation of aircraft to Bennett, the development of a working infirmary at Bennett. She asked Serena Lorimer to investigate a replacement for Annette Lemaine at the Carriere infirmary as it was her decision to transfer both officers at least on a temporary basis to the Bennett Base. She explained that Lieutenant General Lorimer was well qualified to take command when the officers were at The Lodge. She also explained that Serena was an excellent pilot, a teacher, and her skills in both would be needed as more pilots from the South became qualified. She spoke to Lieutenant General Charles Smithson , ask ing that for now he take command of the Carriere Base until such time as his skills as a pilot and instructor became needed. Charlie quietly replied that he and his wife Eleanor already discussed and agreed that when the time came they would both move to the Bennett Base. Amanda already knew that Luther and Mary McBane would make the same decision as would Sally Palmer and Jeannie Dawson.

As Laura and Amanda walked back to Amanda's suite, Laura mused that it would likely be a long time before they returned to the coast. Amanda squeezed her hand , confirm ing that was likely to be the case. She did say that the need to escalate help to the Southern Resistance became greater by the minute. Amanda stopped walking , look ing Laura directly in her beautiful hazel eyes. She quietly stated that there were no guarantees now that they would ever return to the coast, that decision was entirely in the souls of Naofa and the ancients. Lohrissa emerged briefly to silently agree with Aine and Amanda. The women walked the rest of the distance to their quarters in silence. Lydia was still working when Amanda and Laura left their offices. It was very apparent that Lydia was visibly aching for Barbara once again. Lydia laughed at herself as she remembered that she and Barbara had lived most of their lives together with long days apart, Lydia at Carriere and Barbara at the ranch. She never really stopped missing her lover and Lemanychia's eternal partner but she had found solace and comfort in the love of both Amanda and Laura. The quiet routine of that life had been usurped now that Briallen had returned from Naofa. The love she felt for both Amanda and Laura continued to grow daily but they all understood that her eternal love for Barbara was on a different plane and would remain so. She rejoiced that Barbara had fallen in love with Morgan and the priestess Iobairt. Lydia was a very intelligent woman who could easily understand the dynamics of the relationships of all the priestesses and her friends but her arms and her heart still ached to hold Barbara close to her. Lydia returned to her quarters before chang ing for a long run before dinner. Amanda watched Lydia as she warmed up for a run . She quickly changed to shorts and a T-shirt to join her. She asked Laura to hold dinner for both of them as her friend needed some attention. Laura understood entirely.

Amanda hurried to catch up to Lydia before she started her run. Lydia smiled at her dear friend as she knew exactly why Amanda joined her. She remarked that what goes around comes around. Amanda grinned , stating it usually did. Lydia ran kilometers with Amanda when Laura was leading the Resistance ; she had been alone, missing her, not knowing if she would ever be reunited with her young lover again. Amanda ran every day in every kind of weather to tire herself so as to find exhausted sleep preventing her from feeling the overwhelming ache in her arms and her soul. Now, she understood that Lydia was employing the very same tactic. Both women ran in silence past the entrance to the base and out onto the plain. The sun was starting the slow descent in the western sky ; when out of blinding light the women turned to return to the base. Amanda stopped running to catch her breath but mostly to talk to Lydia . She tipped her friend's chin , telling her that Barbara Maclippe loved her very much; Briallen would love her for eternity. Lydia replied that she was very sure of that but it did not make missing her or wanting her any easier in the present. Amanda then hugged her friend and told her that Amanda Bennett also loved her very much with arms ready to hold and love her. With a wicked grin, she said that although she could not be one hundred percent certain she was fairly sure that Laura Ravencouer did as well. Lydia then laughed out loud before starting to run back to the base along with her friend and lover.

Amanda insisted that Lydia join them for dinner in her suite. She said that Laura had held dinner while they ran and would be insulted if Lydia did not attend. Both women returned to their own quarters for showers with Lydia returning to Amanda and Laura shortly thereafter. She felt more focused after her run and talk with Amanda. As usual, Lieutenant General Ravencouer set as elegant a table as she could in an Armed Forces Base suite before invit ing her lovers to enjoy their dinner. While they did not talk strategy or planning, they did discuss their meeting with all their new friends at The Lodge. Laura said that she instantly loved all the survivors , f eeling very much part of their lives almost as soon as they landed. Amanda did point out to her that she was the most ancient high priestess Lohrissa from Naofa ; she was supposed to love all the earthlings. That earned the General a withering look. All three women enjoyed their after dinner wine before cleaning and tidying. Laura then grinned , stating it was likely that she should have a shower as both lovely women in her company had already done so. Both Amanda and Lydia simultaneously asked her if she needed help which got a nod with a hand beckoning both women to join her. Some hours later, Lydia kissed both women , declaring that she was about to return to her own bed for some sleep. She then left both her beautiful lovers lying in each other's arms , even more in love than either thought possible.

Lydia sent Barbara an email before she fell asleep telling her that she was loved. She asked about the wellbeing of all her new friends and about the progress of her friends' studies towards a pilot license. Lydia then fell asleep with memories of her lovers both at the base and at The Lodge.

Matthew oversaw the garnering of Amanda's lists of supplies. Amanda arranged another meeting with all the principals on the following third weekday. Ross reported that the steel hangers were being flown to the Bennett Base as they spoke along with supplies and equipment for expanding the tarmac space at The Lodge. Sterling and Amelia Carland sent preliminary data on known Military installations. Drew and Annique had been working closely with them to fine tune photographs from all the installations in the South. Drew also reported that several pockets of survivors had been contacted with links established with Lynn Chester at The Lodge using the secure satellite communications system. Matthew reported on food, seedlings, clothing, basic medicine , medical equipment, motor cycles, and office equipment, all gathered and being loaded on Raptor's. The plans were to use one aircraft for transportation of the buildings and equipment , the other for the remaining supplies. Lieutenant General Lorimer reported that a replacement for Colonel Annette Lemaine had been found, a young male medic that had been trained at Sanctuary and by Annette at Carriere. He covered the time that Annette was not on duty and he was the most logical choice if the senior command agreed. Lieutenant General Smithson concurred that Captain Daniel Burtch had an exemplary record ; it was also his recommendation that the young man be offered a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in light of his agreement to replace Annette Lemaine in her duties as senior officer in charge of the infirmary at Carriere. Amanda stated that it was her opinion that the promotion was in order with Lydia and Laura in full agreement. Serena and Annette were ready to travel to new permanent postings at the Bennett Base. Matthew insured that a comfortable suite was prepared for them. Each woman planned to fly their own aircrafts as a transfer of helicopters to the Bennett Base was now underway. Charlie informed the group that both he and Luther had many plants, including citrus and coffee plants, ready to be transferred to the greenhouse at The Lodge when they were ready. Laura stated that she thought Barbara was ready yesterday for coffee plants; the children loved and needed fresh fruit as it could be grown. Matthew made a mental note to include as much fruit as he could find when the women returned to The Lodge in four days' time. Amanda then asked Drew and Annique if a group meeting could be conducted from The Lodge if necessary ; both immediately replied there would be no problem whatsoever. Before ending the meeting, once again the priestesses thanked their friends and coworkers for their commitment to their brothers, their sisters, and the fight upon which they were about to embark. Almost unanimously, there was a reply that fortunately they knew how.

Lydia received an email from Spero that his mother had finally agreed to his leaving for the Carriere Base for instruction to be a bomber pilot. Lieutenant General Smithson personally asked that he be his instructor. As well, he would give final instructions to Sally Palmer. He expected that both would be qualified for examination in just a few weeks. He also informed General Bennett that he was taking Serena Lorimer's portfolio as senior instructor for pilots at Carriere , ma king it exceedingly clear that the issue was not negotiable. Amanda laughed when she got the emai l, repl ying that she understood completely. It was a very rare occasion when Charlie Smithson went nose to nose with the General so when he did she paid attention.

Serena and Annette arrived at the Bennett Base late on the fifth weekday. All three officers greeted them with welcome and thanks. Serena quipped that neither one of them had the least intention of missing any of the action , happy to be among their friends once again. Laura said the bad news was that there was not a bar anywhere nearby. Annette replied that they would just have to improvise, adding that Sally Palmer did not have the market on outrageous. Laura notified the kitchen to bring dinner to Annette's and Serena's quarters as both women were tired from a long flight from the coast. All five women walked to what would be the new home for their friends from Carriere ; when dinner arrived everyone said goodnight. They all planned to meet with Matthew the following morning.

Lydia was becoming more excited by the minute as she would see Barbara again on the second weekend day, in less than two days. Each priestess packed two kit bags as they planned to stay for two full weeks for this visit to The Lodge. There was much work to do with establishing safe escape routes for survivors. As well, Lydia planned to start classroom instruction with Frannie, Cora, Judith, Morgan, and Lynn as part of their pilot instruction. She was hoping that the women would be able to start some in flight lessons as well. There had been daily communication between The Lodge and the Bennett Base; as many preparations as possible were made to the buildings in the camp. Barbara reported that almost every adult had received vaccinations without side effects. There was a mutual decision to not vaccinate children and youths under the age of sixteen earth years as no-one wanted to interfere with their natural development. It was the hope of the group that with better medicine and supplies there would not be any serious illness among those not vaccinated. She also told her friends to bring swimwear as the days were very warm ; although the lake was fed by mountain streams it was a fine way to relax. She laughed in her email as she mentioned that perhaps the folks at The Lodge were not ready for their usual antics played out at the lake at the cabin. Lydia almost cried as she realized that Barbara's many memories were returning. Laura decided to bring as many bikinis as she had to share with Morgan and any other woman who was in need.

The priestesses at Bennett met with Captain Brandon, Lieutenant General Lorimer, and Lieutenant Colonel Lemaine. Matthew told both women he would help them become orientated over the next days at Bennett. He asked that all personnel attend dinner that evening in order to introduce the new senior officers although many knew both women from Carriere. Amanda reiterated that Matthew was a very accomplished administrator but any decisions regarding Armed Forces procedures would be the responsibility of Lieutenant General Lorimer. She also explained that secure communication links had been established at The Lodge ; it was likely that there would be almost daily contact with the Bennett Base while they were south of the wall. The Raptors were ready for flight the next morning except for any perishable items which would be loaded by the ground crew early in the day. Laura planned to pilot one helicopter and Lydia and Amanda would fly the other; Laura still not prefer to fly with a working copilot. After an early dinner and a formal introduction of both Lieutenant General Lorimer and Lieutenant Colonel Lemaine, all three priestesses retired for sleep and a long tiring day in the morrow. Before sleep, Barbara sent a request that one of the priestesses accompany her on the first flight to rescue survivors at the closest encampment. There was the unequivocal decision that Laura would fly with Barbara when they were ready.

Each pilot ran a preflight list at 0900 hours the following morning ; they were airborne some minutes later. Barbara was tracking their flight at The Lodge in order to confirm coordinates for the large lake, the flight above the wall, and then the flight path through the mountains and valleys. Both pilot landed effortlessly six hours after departure from the Bennett Base. Many women and children were in the yard to welcome their sisters back to The Lodge. Morgan knew that Barbara longed for her friends , especially Lydia . She stood holding Barbara's hand as the Raptor's landed but when the priestesses disembarked she loosed her hand , whisper ing to her lover to go to her friends. In just two short weeks, the young beautiful Morgan had grown beyond her twenty years as she let her heart and soul learn the ways of Iobairt, of all her sister priestesses. Barbara hugged and kissed Laura and Amanda, telling them both she was very happy to see them again. She then stopped to look at a weeping Lydia ; with a wicked grin she quipped that she had not even come near the woman and she was bawling once again. She then took Lydia in her arms , kiss ing her long, hard, and full on the lips with arms holding tight as the Lieutenant General's knees buckled. Most of the adults knew that Barbara and Morgan were lovers ; those who paid attention also now understood that Barbara and Lydia had a herstory with an eternal connection on Naofa.

Amanda asked Frannie to organize a crew to unload and store perishables. She then told the entire group that the next two days would be spent unloading a large payload before serious construction would begin. Morgan then greeted Amanda, Laura and Lydia with hugs and kisses long, hard, and full on the mouth. Amanda murmured quietly that the child was growing up quickly and well. Morgan and Barbara then helped carry kit bags to the individual rooms , asking their friends to join them for dinner. Amanda, Laura, and Lydia were weary from a long day and sat quietly with coffee after their meals. Morgan excused herself and left the room. She walked to Barbara's room, set out candles and lanterns, turned down clean bed linens, insured there were soft towels near the shower, after which she placed Barbara's corset with decadent satin and lace with the towels. She smiled as she saw a room well-appointed for love before returning to the common room to join her friends. There was a decided glint of mischief in her eyes as she drew Lydia to her feet, hugg ing he r. Morgan seriously requested that she join Maclippe in her room as Morgan herself needed a rest, stating that Lydia surely must understand why there was need for a break. Lydia laughed , stating the child was learning well, well indeed. Morgan then joined helped clear their tabl e, telling her friends to go to their rooms as they looked like there were about to fall down with fatigue. She accompanied that with a smile and a wink. Lydia took Barbara's hand and led her up the stairs to their room. Barbara laughed aloud when she entered and saw Morgan's handiwork. She did love the young woman , marvel ing at how much she had grown in a very short span of time. Lydia and Barbara found each other in the shower minutes later ; passion moved their worlds long before the water stopped. Lydia quietly asked that Barbara forego the corset as she needed her lover too much to be bothered with having to remove the garment. Barbara whispered she would agree just this once but there would need to be nights with the corset, satin, and lace. The reply was a smile and then tears.

Morgan was just emerging from a shower with plans to crawl into her own clean bed linens when there was a soft knock at her door. She was not expecting a visitor and was happily surprised when she opened the door to a smiling Amanda Bennett. Morgan invited her in after Amanda said she was too weary to sleep and thought maybe a snifter of brandy might help. She said Laura was asleep ; she never liked drinking brandy alone. As such she wondered if Morgan would join her. Morgan grinned , telling the General that she was good. Amanda laughed her reply , remark ing that the younger generation was certainly worldlier than in her day. Morgan pointed out that she was Maclippe's lover which did aid in her education. Amanda poured the brandy and handed a snifter to Morgan who accepted with an invitation to Amanda to join her on an old but exceedingly comfortable loveseat, one certainly older than Morgan and possibly even older than Amanda. Morgan softly thanked Amanda again for starting her healing from her rape and violence surrounding her father's death. She said that by allowing herself to grieve and then start to heal she had also allowed some confidence to replace self-doubts. She took Amanda's hand as she told her that she loved Barbara now enough to understand that she needed the love of all her friends. Morgan giggled as she told Amanda about setting Barbara's room for romance after dinner. Amanda took Morgan's face gently between her two hands and kissed her softly on the mouth. Morgan laughed briefly, remind ing the General once again that she was Maclippe's lover ; returned the kiss long, hard, and full on the lips. Young hands and strong arms slowly undressed a somewhat surprised Amanda before Morgan took her to her feet and led her to the shower. Morgan told the General to hurry it along as there was a night to live and she was impatient as only her young age decreed. Amanda laughed aloud again and quickly stepped under the warm water. In very short order Morgan handed her a towe l, helping the General dry her body. Morgan led Amanda to her bed and started a slow seduction of kisses and touches. Amanda did manage to whisper that she hoped Morgan understood that biologically she was older enough to be her mother. Morgan stated that nobody's mother looked, felt, or tasted as good as the General which induced an infamous Amanda moan. Amanda quickly understood that despite her young age Morgan Downhey was not a child and did not need or want to be loved as one. The young priestess then learned her first lesson in teasing, leaving her begging before Amanda allowed her full journey to the ancients and the multiverse. When Morgan was able to touch reality again, she asked her new lover where she had learned to tease like that. Amanda laughed a s she replied the incorrigible Lydia Stenns had taught her well as she had Barbara. Amanda giggled, telling her that she could always return to Maclippe's bed and surprise her with some practice. Both women ended up in fits of giggles before kisses and touches interrupted them once again. Amanda yawned , finally g iving into sleep as she held a lovely young woman in her arms again.

Morgan rose at her usual early morning time , leaving Amanda sleeping in her bed. She dressed and joined most of the women at The Lodge for coffee before a long day's work ahead. Laura joined her minutes later with morning greetings and a smile. Morgan knew that Laura had not been asleep when Amanda came to her room with the brandy the evening before. Morgan chose to make small talk and discuss plans for the day ahead. She did tell Laura that Barbara had confirmed that there were survivors to transport to The Lodge ; Laura would accompany her. She said that the rooms had been readied ; the women at The Lodge were ready to help their sisters and their children start their own journeys to freedom. Lydia and Barbara brought breakfast to the table to join the priestesses, both glowing with lovelights still shining. Morgan told them there were both entirely incorrigible and lovely. Just afterwards, Amanda joined her friends ; before doing so she kissed Laura and then Morgan, long, hard, and full on the mouth. She told both that she was a very lucky General indeed. Barbara had a look of decided surprise on her face as Lydia let forth with her signature Stenns howl. Morgan laughed and blushed. Laura placed a hand over Morgan's and simply said "Welcome". With that, Amanda kissed Morgan again this time with a soft moan. For just a moment, Barbara was overcome with very unsettling jealousy until she chided herself for finding an obvious double standard and jumping on it. Frannie observed, simply sh aking her head. She decided that life probably was not interesting enough.

The rest of the day was spent with everyone unloading payloads and storing materials. Barbara and Frannie readied an old tractor from the abandoned farm ; it was now used to move the steel building components as well as the equipment to enlarge the tarmac. The day was extremely warm ; by 1600 hours everyone chose to stop the work for the day, happy with the huge tasks already completed. Amanda called a meeting the command center for 1000 hours the following morning. Barbara was very warm as were many others ; she suggested a swim before dinner. Laura grabbed Morgan's hand , running with her to Laura's room where she found a very dark green bikini matching Morgan's flashing green eyes, telling her it now belonged to her. Morgan blushed , admitting she had never worn one. That lack of coverage was never allowed as she was growing up ; since then she had jumped into water naked if nobody was around. Laura grinned , telling her that naked was entirely fine with some of them but perhaps not everyone at The Lodge. Morgan replied that she didn't see much difference between the very small amount of fabric and nudity but she stripped down. When she looked at her image in the mirror decided she might be able to turn some heads. She giggled, hugged Laura and both women then ran down the stairs to find some cooling water for a swim. Lydia, Barbara, and Amanda were already at water's edge; when Laura and Morgan arrived Lydia let forth a soft whistle , stating that she wondered if they would ever get anything done with now two drop dead gorgeous women half naked in their midst. Barbara laughed a reply , declaring it would be dirty work that was necessary ; they were just the women for it. All five women nearly collapsed in fits of laughter.

Chapter 8

After dinner, Barbara took Morgan's hand , asking her to join her for a walk to watch Mother Moon rise above the peaks. They were both silent until Barbara stopped, took Morgan in her arms, kissed her repeatedly, and then admitted she had been overcome with jealously when she realized that she had spent the night with Amanda. Morgan's eyes filled with tears as she said she had no intention of ever hurting Barbara whatsoever ; she loved her more every day. Barbara had her own misted eyes as she told her young mistress that she kne w; it was given back tenfold. Morgan then told her priestess that she finally understood there was enough love in her to love many women, all in different ways. She said that she had a strong friendship and bond with Amanda as she had helped her to start the healing process in her after the rape and violent death of her father. She explained that it was only an extension of love she already felt but in no way did any of that interfere with how she loved Barbara Maclippe. She quietly stated that she had just assumed that the same held true for Barbara's love for Lydia . Barbara was quiet for a few minutes before kissing Morgan once more, telling her that she had grown so much in a short period of time. She was in awe of her in the present as she had been when she picked up on the side of that dusty road whe re they met almost a year earlier. Both women stood quietly and watched Mother Moon shine above the mountain peaks. Suddenly, Barbara asked Morgan what was the date of her birth anniversary as it was not likely that she would remain twenty years old forever. Morgan replied that it was actually in two days ; she had almost forgotten herself. Barbara said that Morgan had been born on the festival of Elterra, midsummer. Morgan agreed but until she knew of Iobairt she had not made much connection between her birth anniversary and Naofa. Barbara promised that from this coming celebration onward they would not forget. As she started to walk back to the common room, Barbara asked if Morgan was joining Amanda again to which Morgan replied only with a kiss and a wicked grin. She said that she might just join Maclippe if she was free as she had something she needed to show her. Barbara laughed out loud , stating that she now had to be prepared for those Bennett lessons. She whispered she had been shown some of them personally in the past ; she liked them quite a bit. As they joined their friends before retiring for the night, Lynn came running to them stating that she had received an urgent message that the survivors they had contacted were without food and two children had already died. Barbara asked if they could make a night flight ; Laura was already on route to prepare a Raptor. Amanda contacted Drew urgently, asking for possible coordinates for a night flight. Drew replied immediately with a flight plan and exact coordinates. Amanda then asked him if he chose to risk his own life yet again as they would need someone to fly very ill survivors on to Sanctuary as soon as he could meet them. He said he would keep radio contact and fly from the Shipman Base immediately. Amanda then returned to find Frannie who was already reading rooms for any survivors who could stay at The Lodge. She told Frannie to alert the others that Drew was on route , landing quite likely before Barbara and Laura returned. Lydia told Amanda she was flying with them ; there would be no argument. She said that Lemanychia could cast healing spells until they reached safety. Morgan helped Frannie and other women unpack medicin e, finding clothing suitable for twelve women and four children. Morgan stood back for a minute , marvel ing at the composed determination of her sister priestesses as they moved immediately into rescue mode. Lydia packed blankets and water to keep the survivors as comfortable as possible on the return flight. Laura determined that the encampment was about one hour and fifteen minute southwest near another large lake. Drew informed them that there was a Military base within firing distance but since they were not expecting any insurrection they were not likely to run interference. Laura quietly replied that they would just bomb the hell out of them if they did. Again, Morgan was silent, wide eyed, and frightened. Amanda noticed but did not make any gesture of comfort or even recognition. There was no time or energy for anything now except saving sisters.

In less than thirty minutes, Barbara, Laura, and Lydia were ready to take off. Lynn was in the command post , in constant communication with Drew as he flew south. Amanda asked her to alert Bennett and then Sanctuary. Lynn smiled, stating she had already done that. Morgan and Amanda stood on the tarmac as the Raptor became airborne. Morgan was silent, and then returned to the rooms being readied for the survivors. Amanda returned to the command post , in constant contact with Barbara who was the copilot and navigator on board. The women were silent in flight save for communication with each about coordinates. Laura told Lydia that she needed to stay in flight harness as she was not sure of the currents or turbulence ; there was no time to insure a smooth descent. Lydia smiled but did not tell the pilot that she was teaching pilots while Laura was still in school. Lynn gave a thirty minute warning and then a ten minute warning as Laura started a decent based on coordinates. There was no tarmac ; Laura prepared to land in a field as it came into view. There were very few run down sheds that had been home to the women and children they were about to take to The Lodge. As they touched down, Lemanychia began constant casting of healing spells while Laura ran the post flight check list and Barbara ran to meet women standing at the edge of the field. Almost all of the survivors were too weak to walk unaided . It was quickly decided that the priestesses Lohrissa, Briallen, and Lemanychia would use magic to move them all on board the helicopter which was done in minutes. Barbara ran a preflight check list including insuring battery power. Laura was quiet as she boarded after asking Lydia if she needed help. Lydia said she was managing. Two of the women were still strong enough to help with the others. The children were very ill ; Lemanychia cast many spells to insure their survival at least until they reached The Lodge. Barbara was airborne , flying northeast in minutes. Laura started communications with Amanda once they were in the air. She gave a brief report of their initial findings including the severely weakened state of most of the survivors with the need for magic used for retrieval. She reported that it was likely that several women and all of the children would need transport to Sanctuary as soon as Drew landed. Lydia asked Laura to ask Amanda if she wanted her to accompany Drew as the women were really debilitated. Amanda replied that Lydia was needed more at The Lodge ; two medics from the Shipman Base were in flight with Drew with medicine on board. She did add that Lemanychia could continue to cast spells as she had with Laura long distance many years before.

Drew McDaniels made a final approach , landing as Amanda met his aircraft. Morgan also was on the tarmac ; after a post flight checklist he greeted Amanda and was introduced to Morgan Downhey. Amanda spoke to the medics , report ing that the survivors were very weak, ill ; almost all the woman and all four children would need flight to Sanctuary immediately. She said they were not able to walk , having been moved with the use of magic and would again. Amanda asked Morgan to check with Lynn as to the estimated landing time for the Raptor ; as she did she saw the lights from the aircraft as it approached the tarmac. Amanda breathed a soft sigh of relief as the helicopter touched down. Morgan and Amanda ran to the hold to assist Laura and Lydia transport the survivors to the craft headed north. Morgan gasped as she saw the state of these women and children ; with a stern look from Amanda she joined the other priestesses as they used magic to move all the women and children , save for two , to the helicopter. Drew had a cup of coffee in his hand as he ran a preflight check list ; Frannie changed batteries for the flight north. Barbara joined her but knew that the task would be done quickly and well as it was. When all the survivors were safely aboard the medical flight north, Drew said goodbye with assurance that he would be in contact with The Lodge, Bennett, and Sanctuary. Lemanychia continued to cast spells ; all five priestesses blessed the survivors with auras shining. Barbara and Amanda helped the two women who were still able to walk into the common room. They were both shivering from cold and fatigue as well as near starvation. Frannie brought warm broth and blankets. After some rest, both women were helped to rooms on the ground floor. Rennie and Cora helped both women into warm night clothing and into sheets warmed with stones from the fire. The woman moved cots into the rooms , lying down to sleep and keep watch over their sisters.

Drew reported that he was over the wall, the lake, and back to safety in Siochain. The medics reported that with some intravenous fluids and medicine the survivors had stabilized, the children were recovering better than anyone expected. Lydia smiled as Lemanychia continued to cast spells. She called down to Noshi for blessings from Naofa and respite as she needed to rest.

As the first light of dawn kissed the mountain peaks, Laura walked to the yard and wept. She had not felt the degree of anger within her since the battles years before. Amanda felt her lover's hurt, walked to gather her in loving arms. She kissed her , telling her they would walk to the other side of the nightmare as they had learned before and would for eternity. Lydia came forward , kiss ing both women goodnight before she retired for a well-deserved sleep. All her sister priestesses joined her very quickly thereafter. Lynn had asked permission to catch some sleep but stated she would check communications every two hours and report any urgent matters. Amanda thanked her as she told her to go get some sleep as they all needed it. Before they climbed the stairs, she thanked all her sisters for taking power over Olc yet again. Morgan helped a fatigued Barbara into the shower, dressed her in a soft nightshirt, and almost carried her to bed. She gathered her mistress in her arms, told her she was absolutely blown away by all the priestesses for their courage and commitment to caring. Barbara murmured that fortunately they knew how. She also promised Morgan that the Bennett lessons would be carried out when she had some sleep. Morgan kissed sleep into her beautiful lover before quickly drift ing off herself.

Frannie brought coffee and morning cakes to all the priestesses at 0900 hours. She was no longer surprised by who slept in what bed or with what lover. She was just exceedingly proud to be part of this fight. Rennie and Cora brought a very light breakfast to their new sisters before help ing them to dress and venture to the comfort of the common area. Lynn confirmed that Drew had reached Sanctuary safely ; all th ose rescued were still living in the care of the care givers in the North. The priestesses joined their sisters in the common room at 1000 hours and introduced themselves to Joyce and Sheila. Joyce was the stronger of the two and able to find words as she expressed thanks for their help. Amanda told her that her sisters and the children were at the health care facility in the north in Siochain and were still all living. Both women started to cry and were hugged by many women at The Lodge as they all knew the horrors of their lives in the past few months. Frannie told them they were home now and were welcome. Rennie ordered that they would eat every two hours and sleep as much as they could; she would take no arguments. Both women simply smiled as they took hugs from the older woman. Joyce asked if she had been hallucinating when they had been moved above the ground quickly the night before. Laura replied that it was not a hallucination. She explained that they were priestesses from Naofa , us ing magic as it was very necessary. Joyce and Sheila were both taken aback for a momen t, giving down blessings quietly with tears in their eyes. Laura said they were about to take back the lives of all their brothers and sisters in the South. When they were strong enough they would fight back as well.

Amanda asked that the meeting take place but at 1400 hours. By noon, Drew contacted Lynn to report that he was tired but safely returned to the Shipman Base. Amanda spoke to Serena and Matthew to tell them of the rescue and the state of the survivors when they were found. Serena immediately replied that it might be that they had to escalate plans. Amanda agreed before contact ing Amelia and Sterling Carland with a request to expedite the maps, sites, and coordinates for the Military installations. She briefed them on the rescue and the appalling conditions in which the survivors had lived. Joyce brought her small , very old portable computer which had photographs stored from the outbuildings from an old mine where she, her sisters, and their children had subsisted for months. Amanda forwarded the photos on to Serena and spoke to her by a satellite link. She could clearly hear Annette cursing and crying in the background. Annette has not seen the frontline horrors from the battles in the North; she was shocked and repulsed, as they all were, at the depth of despair one group of earthlings could impose on another.

Somewhat rested women met in the command centre at 1400 hours. Amanda showed them the photographs from Joyce's computer. None were shocked. Morgan said that the women at The Lodge were almost as debilitated when she and Lynn found them. Lynn added that the two of them were not much better. Amanda briefed the group on her communications earlier in the day with Drew, Serena, Matthew, Amelia, and Sterling . Laura quietly thanked Lemanychia for keeping the sisters and children alive until they could reach medical care in the North. Amanda then spoke about the need to escalate the plans for destroying the Military installations. She stated that she planned to call a meeting with Charles, Serena, Ross, Declan, Drew, Amelia, and Sterling in two days' time. She asked Morgan about the number of rooms available at The Lodge if all were readied and equipped for winter. Morgan stated that there were three hundred and two rooms in the main building with twenty-four suites in an annex that had been closed for many years. Lydia spoke u p, stating that if they were about to move pilots and support staff to The Lodge she suggested that the women with children be moved to Siochain and safe haven there. She emphatically stated that a central command post potentially under siege at any given time was no place to raise children. Laura was saddened but agreed entirely. Amanda contacted Drew , asking how difficult it would be to tap into the communications system of the existing Military south of the wall. Drew replied that it would be very easy but it would take hands - on infiltration of one computer at one base in order for that to happen. He said Laura Ravencouer easily breached the entire military communication system when she was a civilian instructor at the base under Colonel Bennett's command. Amanda smiled , replying that she forgot about that. He then sent specific instructions while he was still in communication with the group. Amanda then declared that would be the first order of business. Drew confirmed that once the system was initially breached, he, Amelia, and Sterling could constantly see any communications and plans for actions. Amanda thanked him again , telling him to go get some sleep as she expected he would be a busy man in the coming months. He laughed, thanked her, and signed off.

Amanda then told the group that they would raid the Military base on the second weekend night and cover Laura while she worked her magic once again. Laura then asked Lydia if she would help as two criminal minds were always better than one. Lydia grinned as it was a well-known fact that nobody ever said "No" to Lieutenant General Stenns and lived to talk about it. Amanda then adjourned the meeting , asking her sisters to get rest as in the morrow they would start construction on another hanger. Lydia , Laura, and Morgan all went to the common room to find coffee ; Barbara stayed back to talk to Amanda privately. She said that the following day was the twenty-first anniversary of Morgan's birth and she wanted to celebrate in some way. Barbara asked if she could notify Luther to ask him to have the jeweler in Carriere make a labrys for her young lover with shipment to Bennett. Amanda was already contacting her dear friend ; upon the request Luther said he would contact the jeweler immediately. He would then have the labrys shipped on the next cargo plane from Carriere to Bennett. He asked how his priestesses were and the wellbeing of his beloved earthlings at The Lodge. Amanda recounted the rescue of the women and children; before she could talk further Luther said that they needed to escalate plans. He told Amanda that Daniel Fletcher had already agreed to take care of the cabin when Luther and Mary moved to either Bennett or The Lodge. He said he knew that Jeannie and Sally had already hired him to care for their home in their absence as well. Amanda told him that she would contact them when more firm plans were in place but that they should start to think about long term packing. Amanda told Barbara to drop by her room for a fifth of champagne to celebrate Morgan's birth anniversary later that evening.

With their usual efficiency, the women at The Lodge unloaded and stored all the supplies and materials by the end of the day. Joyce and Sheila slept sporadically throughout the day, interrupted only when Rennie brought them food and insisted they eat. After dinner, Lydia excused herself and ventured to Barbara's room to return the favor, setting an atmosphere of romance. Amanda mentioned Morgan's birth anniversary on the morrow, the celebration of Elterra. She grinned as she placed satin and lace with the towels by the shower along with scented soap, a true luxury for those living at The Lodge. Lydia took the champagne Amanda had offered , plac ing it with flutes, candles, and a bouquet of wild tiger lilies by Barbara's bed. She returned to find her friends sitting by the hearth and chatting with their sisters including Joyce and Sheila. Lydia came up behind Morgan, kissed her cheek, and whispered it was her turn. The lovely Morgan Downhey blushed. Amanda smiled at the women she loved ; still filled with wonder at the journeys they had taken in the earth lifetimes to date. She then rose, kissed both Laura and Lydia on the cheek , announcing she was going to her room. Barbara took Morgan's hand a s she led her to the staircase. The young woman glowed with a slight aura of jade as she followed her lover.

Neither woman took notice of Lydia 's efforts as passion overtook them before they found the shower. Barbara continued to marvel at the depths her young mistress accessed almost daily. There was no doubt now of the warrior priestess within. There was still the almost delightful and sometime exasperating innocence of early earthling adulthood but when the priestess was called upon there was absolutely no inexperience seen. Iobairt had battled Olc almost as long as Lemanychia and Lohrissa. She remained on Naofa for many earth years until she was called to battle once again. Certainly Barbara and now Amanda understood the daily melding of the young earthling Morgan with the courage and fierce bravery of the ancient priestess. Barbara smiled as she thought that it was no accident that Morgan's women lovers on earth were all priestesses as it was likely an earthling would not handle her passion. Barbara laughed softly as she realized again that it might be challenging work but they were just the women for it. Morgan asked to be let in on the joke . Barbara told her that it was just as well that she had holy lovers as earthlings would possibly not survive. With that comment, Barbara Maclippe got carried to her bed. Crashing passion precluded satin, lace, and champagne. Both women lay breathless for minutes just as the moon rose above mountain peaks , flooding the room with soft light and shadows. Barbara rose to sit up against the headboard, poured two flutes, and handed one to her young lover. She kissed her with her blessings for Elterra and her birth anniversary. The brave and sometimes swagger of a young priestess dissolved to soft tears coursing down her cheeks as she returned the kiss, telling Barbara that as frightened as she was about the upcoming battle she had never been happier. She said she never thought she would fall in love with anyone with no prior comprehension of how being loved and cherished felt. She spoke softly of having a new family of many women who loved her now, all the holy ones and all her sisters at The Lodge. Barbara told her that she would soon meet more holy ones and wonderful friends as they were gearing up quickly to have many of them at The Lodge until victory was secured. Morgan looked at her for a moment before she realized that there was no other option in Barbara's mind. She knew that they all understood they would win at whatever cost.

Morgan then took the flute from Barbara's hand and whispered that it was Bennett lesson time. Barbara laughed as a slow tease took her lover took her to unladylike language, begging cries, before she found her journey to the ancients and the multiverse. She whispered that if Morgan learned to fly as well as she learned lessons from Amanda Bennett The Decision was in serious trouble. Morgan Downhey had grown up.

The priestesses and Lynn met with Frannie and Cora the following day to plan the night's raid of the Military base with the aim to breach the computer system. Each woman understood their individual roles completely; the time was set for 2300 hours. From Barbara's and Morgan's earlier raids, they ascertained that only one soldier was in the computer area overnight ; they had not seen many guards on the entire base. Amanda arranged to meet with all the principals again in two days' time. She did state that she intended to return to Bennett at the end of the following week , asking Lieutenant General Ravencouer to return to the base with her. She then asked Lieutenant General Stenns to remain at The Lodge a s the liaison between Bennett and The Lodge in her absence. She stated that the women at The Lodge needed to learn to pilot as soon as possible , asking that Lydia undertake that as a primary task. She asked Barbara to help her as well as continue to lead as she had in the past many months. She then asked Morgan to insure that every woman was schooled in martial arts as part of their daily routine from that day forward.

At the end of the meeting, everyone descended to lunch in the common room. Frannie wheeled in a huge cake with twenty-one small candles ablaze ; four priestesses emerged to sing blessings to their sister on the anniversary of the birth of her earth body. Morgan wept openly as did every other earthling present.

Clouds descended and with them came a drenching rain, cooling the air somewhat. Amanda was happy to see the change in weather as it made the raid easier in darker skies ; with Military guards less enthusiastic about being outdoors for lengthy periods of time. At 2300 hours Frannie and Cora drove the overland vehicle to the breach in the fence. Under cover of complete darkness, all five priestesses made their way to the building the computer centre. Morgan rendered two hapless guards unconscious, likely for hours, by two kicks to the solar plexuses. Laura and Lydia were in the building quickly and the soldier was made unconscious readily. Both women worked silently; in less than thirty minutes the breach was complete. Both women sat the soldier back in his chair and rested his head on the desk before they left the room. The retreat to The Lodge was quiet without inciden ts . When everyone was inside the common room, Amanda smiled, telling everyone that she would do breaks and enters with all or any of them at any time. She then thanked them before taking Laura's hand to ascend to their rooms.

Immediately after breakfast the following day, Amanda contacted Drew and Annique to tell them of the success of the breach of the computer system , ask ing that they confirm that. In less than fifteen minutes, Drew replied that he could intercept all communications including the shopping lists of the wife of one of the leaders of The Decision. He calculated that he would have maps and coordinates for all the Military bases in less than forty-eight hours; with that they could use the satellite system to take photographs. He told Amanda he would talk to both Amelia and Sterling before the group meeting called for the following day. Amanda then contacted Ross Shipman , ask ing that he order six more large steel buildings to be used as hangers. She said that they would discuss delivery at the meeting in the morrow but she wanted the order to be expedited if possible. Roger simply replied "Roger that." Lynn reported that Dr. Dobson from Sanctuary confirmed that all the rescued survivors continued to improve ; now strong enough to be out of bed for part of each day. They had a challenge to keep the children from running around as only children could. Amanda returned to walked to the yard to find Joyce and Sheila sitting in the shade of a large tree. She smiled as she reported on the progress of their friends at Sanctuary. Both women sent down thanks, blessings once again to the ancients, and to the priestess who had cast healing spells. Amanda beckoned to Lydia to join them , introduc ing Lemanychia to the two women. They were silent in awe before saying thank you through tears. Lydia just smiled as Lemanychia emerged briefly with gold aura shimmering. Amanda found Morgan and Barbara and interrupted their work constructing the hanger. She said she wanted to find Frannie, Cora, and Rennie. They caught up with all three women in the kitchen , asking to speak with them. Amanda told them that The Lodge needed to have all rooms readied as many earthlings would be living with them, some male. She said that they would use the Annex as well. None of the women were surprised , replying that they would need help as well as supplies to ready the rooms but it was not impossible. Amanda asked them to prepare lists of supplies as soon as possible. She told them that she and Laura planned to return to the Bennett Base at the end of the current week with return again in two more weeks with an intention to make that their permanent quarters.

As Joyce was now strong enough to tolerate being out of bed for several hours, she worked with Lynn to use the data she had in her old computer to establish links with other known camps of survivors. She communicated that rescue was possible but they needed details of locations as much as possible. She also asked that they contact other camps as they could. The network had opened up. Amanda joined them as they were working together in the afternoo n, asking Joyce if she would consider becoming the coordinator for rescue sites, albeit once she was stronger. There was an immediate agreement accompanied by a flash of hope in eyes that were clouded with loss and despair two days earlier. Lynn thanked her; she would very much appreciate the help as she expected to be very busy in a very short span of time.

Amanda met with all the principals the following day. She stated that there was a great need to escalate rescue missions and the plan to take victory south of the wall. She told Declan that she and Laura were planning their final return to the Bennett Base before their permanent move to The Lodge. She asked Lieutenant General Smithson to prepare to hand over command of the Carriere Base to Colonel Clarissa Dempster ; when completed she asked that he and his wife Eleanor transfer to The Lodge. She reported that a fledgling network of enclaves of survivors had been established , supervised by Joyce Stanton. She advised that Lieutenant General Lydia Stenns would be based permanently at The Lodge , having been given the mandate to train as many pilots as possible as quickly as possible. Declan McDaniels reported that there was ongoing support from Avalon with shipments of bombs and missiles being received at the Northeastern Archipelago Base and the Calanais Base. He hired Alex Taylor to facilitate air shipment of the munitions to The Lodge as soon as facilities were in place. Barbara suggested that the abandoned barns could be used as munitions storage ; that was agreed upon and established. Drew McDaniels reported that Archie Granger started false deposits of funds to the central treasury of The Decision south of the wall as he had in the North years earlier. This allowed The Decision to make purchases of goods and services with a false sense of wealth and then no funds to pay for them, thereby cutting off credit from countries in the west and the east. At the end of the meeting, General Bennett reiterated that they had reliable communications with more than reliable personnel prepared to assume responsibility for insuring victory.

By the fifth weekday, the steel building to be used as a hanger for several helicopters was constructed and ready for use. Ross Shipman sent specific instructions for enlarging the existing tarmac. Barbara and Morgan had crews ready to begin that task early in the following week. Joyce Stanton and Sheila Wilson continued to recover from near death by starvation under the loving care of their sisters at The Lodge. Joyce became a very efficient coordinator of communications with the enclaves of known survivors with almost daily growth of the network. She reported that although every camp lived in desperation there did not appear to be an urgent need for rescue. The decision was made to start systemic rescue once Amanda and Laura returned to The Lodge permanently. Ross Shipman suggested a storage and shipping depot be built just north of the large lake and the southern wall with the plan for easier transportation of goods to The Lodge. Declan and Amanda both understood that further Southern Resistance bases would be built to the west and the south as more information was available and existing Military bases were destroyed. They also understood that harbors in the East and the West needed to be rendered inoperable as one of the first missions. Amanda's position remained that only air attacks be used as they had the technology with the personnel ready to do that; there would be fewer Southern Resistance lives put in peril if no ground battles took place unless absolutely necessary.

Sheila Wilson owned a farm with her husband prior to The Decision's final rise to power. Her husband died in an attempt to keep the land that had been in his family for generations. Two sons had been taken to labor camps ; she fled rather than becoming one of the women used as concubines for The Decision. She had extensive knowledge about care of many different species of ruminant animals. She and Judith Sawyer struck up a close friendship in a short period of time spending hours discussing the best method for raising milk producing herds. Sheila approached Amanda , ask ing if she might work with Judith in the barns. Once again, Amanda explained that it was her home ; all of them needed her expertise in an area so vital for their survival. She did tell Sheila to make sure that her health did not suffer as a result of too much work too soon after her rescue.

Chapter 9

Laura and Amanda readied themselves for a return to the Bennett Base on the second weekend day. Lydia chided herself as she started missing them long before they left. Both women held Lydia Stenns in arms full of love and longing in the nights before their departure. She loved her sisters more than she ever had , knowing that the years ahead needed sole focus on victory but her heart still ached for those she held close. Once the Raptor was airborne and headed northwest, Barbara and Morgan wrapped arms about Lydia 's waist, reminding her that the priestesses would return soon, with love, with hope, and with help. Barbara then kissed Lydia on the cheek , telling her that in the meantime they would keep her exceedingly busy.

The ground floor of the annex had been opened up, cleaned, and rooms set up as classrooms. Lydia Stenns started classes for the first group of pilots on the morning of the first weekday; in a very short period of time the students, Morgan, Frannie, Cora, Judith, and Lynn quickly understood that Lieutenant General Stenns would take no less than perfection. She told them that each weekday morning would be filled with classes from 0800 until 1200 hours ; nothing short of death would be accepted as an excuse for absence or their best efforts. She explained that they would be tested in the classroom studies on two separate fifth weekdays and the final examination for qualification to start flight lessons in a helicopter would then take place on the following fifth weekday. She also told them that none of her students had ever failed previously ; it was her intention to keep that record intact.

Barbara organized a crew to start work on the remaining floors of the annex. The building was still structurally sound but needed significant cleaning as well as insulating and wiring for power using generators. Each suite had two rooms with fireplaces and a bathroom. She determined this would be ideal housing for couples about to move residence to The Lodge. Several women had exceptional carpentry skills, long forgotten and now reborn. Younger women were recruited to the cleaning detail ; there was no more grumbling as they all understood they were part of an effort to change the history of their land and their freedom. Only three women had children too young to remain at The Lodge in the future ; Lynn arranged for their relocation to one of the settlements in Siochain. Drew McDaniels arranged to pilot that flight at the end of the next week.

Amanda and Laura returned to the Bennett Base without incident. Amanda notified Serena and Matthew that she wanted to meet the following afternoon. The morning following her flight, she contacted Luther , ask ing that he and Mary prepare to move residence to The Lodge. She stated that they needed his pilot skills and his organizational skills as many personnel would take residence at The Lodge in the coming weeks. She asked that he move her personnel effects as well as Laura's and if possible to bring the painting of Hope above the mantle at the cabin. She then contacted Sally and Jeannie , ask ing them to make their move as well to The Lodge. She said they were civilians as was Luther but that their sisters and brothers needed them more than they ever were needed previously. She bluntly told both women that there were no guarantees that either would return to the coast ; Jeannie needed to make sure she was willing to take that risk, that of not seeing her family again. Jeannie quickly replied that she would return as would her lover. She said they would fight the bastards again and would win, fortunately they knew how. She asked that each woman fly separately in order to move supplies from Carriere to Bennett and then on to The Lodge. She told them that Luther and Mary, Charlie and Eleanor were also preparing to move south as well. She closed her conversation with a quivering voice as she thanked them , t elling them they were both loved.

Amanda, Laura, Serena, Annette, and Matthew met in the afternoon , discuss ing the plans for the immediate and longer term future. They all knew of the battles looming ; each committed them to the fight. Amanda reiterated that the Bennett Base would now be the Command Centre until victory was insured. She told Serena, Annette, and Matthew to expect increased activity with movement of supplies and personnel. Annette recommended four senior medics who had volunteered to move to The Lodge for the duration of the need ; Amanda accepted readily. She then said that it was her hope that there would be few injuries ; if there were the personnel and survivors would be moved to Bennett and/or Sanctuary as necessary. They arranged to have Serena organize a squadron of pilots to move aircraft to The Lodge when storage facilities were readied.

The following day, Amanda met with all the personnel at the base updat ing the progress of the upcoming battles. She stated that the brothers and sisters south of the wall were only barely surviving ; they would get help. She then asked for volunteers to move with her and Lieutenant Generals Stenns, Ravencouer, and Smithson permanently to The Lodge as labor and expertise was sorely needed. Immediately every earthling stood and started to walk forward. General Amanda Bennett excused her behavior as tears coursed down her cheeks. She thanked them all, saying that Captain Brandon would take names ; Lieutenant General Lorimer would arrange for their transfer as soon as rooms were readied at The Lodge.

Amanda and Laura met several times each of the following days with all the principals. The Bennett Base now housed dozens of Raptor and Peregrine aircraft. Luther and Mary, Charlie and Eleanor, Sally and Jeannie planned arrival at Bennett at the beginning of the second week. Barbara reported that the annex had been cleaned ; although readying for wintering over was still needed the suites were ready for couples. She suggested that all the senior officers move to the annex as well in order to free up the rooms currently in use for personnel about to move. It was planned that Amanda and Laura would move to The Lodge as soon as their friends from the coast arrived.

Luther and Mary, Charlie and Eleanor, and Jeannie arrived in loaded Raptor craft. Sally flew Huguette, loaded as well, to the Bennett Base. Safe flights landed on the afternoon of the first weekday. Perishable items were stored overnight at the base for reloading and transportation to The Lodge the following day. Over dinner, both Laura and Amanda explained that there were few luxuries at The Lodge ; there was an enormous amount of work to do before the fight could start in earnest. Almost unanimously, the reply was that fortunately they knew how. Barbara and Morgan both reported that although not a professional job the tarmac was expanded and safe, just not entirely attractive. Amanda laughed as she replied that only Luther would care about a pretty tarmac ; he could either live with it or fix it. Amanda told her priestesses to expect their arrival late the following day.

Morgan and Barbara lay awake long into the night. Morgan said she was apprehensive about meeting all the new friends , stat ing she feared she would never be able to compare with their expertise. Barbara got out of bed, took Morgan to her feet, and told her that there would no longer be room for self-doubt from any of them. She explained that fear was like fodder for the evil of Olc ; they would be given no power. She reminded her young lover that they had taken her earth life previously ; that they would not get a second chance. She said if Morgan loved all her sisters and brothers she would find courage every single minute from that point on. She then took the beautiful young woman in her arms , t aking her long onto their journeys to the ancients and the multiverse.

The pilots ran preflight check lists the following morning; after a salute from all personnel, five Raptor craft and Huguette were airborne and headed southeast to The Lodge. Amanda ordered that the volunteers and the squadron of pilots be placed on standby until quarters were readied for them. Lynn and Barbara tracked all the aircraft , insur ing coordinates for landing. In late afternoon, all six aircraft landed effortlessly on the very functional expanded tarmac at The Lodge. After running post flight check lists, all the friends and holy ones disembarked to meet their new sisters and find their new home. Lohrissa and her holy ones greeted the earthlings with auras shimmering. Morgan walked timidly to meet Lughe and Curra n; each priest greeted her with silent blessings and then hugs.

Frannie and a crew unloaded perishables including a huge shipment of fish and ranch beef. Luther also included most of the plants from the greenhouse at the cabin ; Charles had brought all his plants as well. The existing greenhouse was very crowded but, knowing both men, it would not remain so for long. Even Barbara was amazed at the efficiency of her friends. Once in the common room, Barbara introduced all the friends and holy ones from the coast to the women at The Lodge. Amanda and Laura both smiled as they saw the wheels of upgrading cranking in Luther McBane's eyes. Frannie and Rennie came forward , hugg ing each new friend with welcome and thanks. Everyone was tired ; each couple was taken to their suites in the annex. Barbara told Laura and Amanda that she had not moved their clothing and personnel effects but would help in a day or two if they needed. The truth was that Luther had emailed Barbar a, ask ing that he be allowed to work a surprise for his priestesses before that move.

The following morning Laura walked to the common room ; when looking above the mantle she gasped and then wept as the painting of Hope was now hanging there. Luther smiled and shrugged. He said that if this was to be his home he needed to see that a daily reminder. He also said that Amanda had asked that it be included with the flight and supplies. As everyone entered the room, each was taken aback at the message they saw. Lydia and Barbara both wept openly. Amanda quietly explained to Morgan that Laura painted the work of art before the first battles ; it served as inspiration for all of them when fear and despair encroached. As she learned more about Laura Ravencouer, Morgan also remembered Lindsay Reynolds and the lovership she had shared with the beautiful priestess. She knew, as well, that a new lovership would be awakened in the near future.

Laura joined Jeannie and Sally for breakfast. Each woman looked beautiful in love as they had since Laura introduced them years earlier. She beckoned for Morgan to join them , introduc ing Jeannie as the designer of all the lovely satin and lace that Morgan had removed from her body often. Morgan blushed as all the women laughed. Sally introduced herself as the crusty old lesbian bar owner who had many tales to tell about ruckuses involving Morgan's friends. She said that Laura Ravencouer had introduced her to the lovely woman sitting with them ; they were madly in love with each other , more so each day. Morgan shyly thanked Jeannie for the clothing and both women for the toys they had sent for the children. She explained that the youngest children moved north just a few days earlier as it was not safe for them at The Lodge. Both women agreed that it was a wise decision.

The next two days were spent getting the newest residents from the coast settled into the annex. Barbara , Lydia , and Morgan moved prior to their arrival , help ing their friends with moving of personal items. Both Amanda and Laura offered to help but Frannie kept them occupied for most of the time with chores and questions. Even Lynn helped to keep them distracted and tired. On the afternoon of the second day, Barbara told both women that their personal effects and clothing were in their new suite in the annex. She informed them that several friends were moving their items from their old quarters to the annex as they spoke. Frannie was seen making a couple of trips from the main building to the annex but neither Amanda nor Laura took much notice. Finally, Lydia found them to tell them they could some see their new suite if they so desired. Again, neither woman had suspicion of anything other than seeing the suite that was identical to all the others. They climbed stairs to the top floor, one where all the priestesses lived. There was almost menacing quiet as both women walked down the hallway and opened the door. Many of their friends were gathered in the room ; both women sobbed as they entered to see their bed from the cabin and both rockers, all hand-made gifts from Luther given years earlier, a small rocker near the hearth, and two bears. Luther said there would be no leaving unless Teddy and Primrose moved as well. In the second room above their bed was Laura's painting of she and Amanda dancing nude in each other's arms. There were very few dry eyes ; the crowd took in the magnitude of the love these women shared for each other. Frannie and Cora dealt with their own emotions by pouring champagne as welcome for all their new friends. Lydia took the hands of both her lovers and led them through an adjoining door to her suite where her bed was covered with a quilt made by and given to Laura and Amanda years earlier by their dear friend Mrs. Smithers. Laura wondered if she would ever see the Smithers family again as she alone understood the horrors coming to all their lives. Morgan stood back , watch ing the magic happening with her friends. Barbara came to her, gathered her in loving arms, and kissed her. She said she too was now a part of an amazing family whose strength, courage, love for each other, and for all the earthlings would insure victory over the evils of Olc.

Amanda and Laura hugged and kissed Luther, telling him that he was loved. When Amanda found her composure, she thanked all her friends. She then asked if the principals could meet with her in the command centre the following morning as there was an enormous amount of work to complete in a very short period of time. After dinner, Morgan wandered to the yard to find Charles and Luther measuring the existing greenhouse and drawing rough plans for a huge expansion. She asked where they would get materials ; Luther smiled , replying that Amanda asked them to bring what they needed. Both men explained that they had dismantled their own greenhouses and moved the materials with them to The Lodge. They expected to be able to start work within a day or two. Morgan explained that although no experts lived among them several of the women were quite adept at carpentry skills. Luther said he already was amazed at the quality of the workwomanship he had seen. He quietly told Morgan that she should be very proud of herself and all the women at The Lodge as they had all defied exceptional odds against the m; building not only a safe haven but a battle command post. Already, Morgan knew why her sister priestesses loved the man.

The following day, Amanda met with the principals at The Lodge and by satellite with Serena Lorimer, Matthew Brandon, Declan McDaniels, Ross Shipman, Andrew and Annique McDaniels, Sterling and Amelia Carland. Amanda asked that Luther and Mary McBane become coordinators of operations for The Lodge, all outbuildings, and reconstruction or construction of new buildings. She complimented Judith and Sheila, telling everyone that once Barbara, Morgan, and their friends had expropriated a few animals, the farm was thriving including production of honey. As had been discussed previously, Lieutenant Generals Stenns and Smithson would develop the flight school and instruct as many pilots as were able at the Lodge and among the survivors yet to be rescued. Amanda then asked Sally Palmer to join Joyce Stanton as coordinators for an ongoing network of survivor camps and enclaves. She told everyone that Jeannie Dawson has grown to a very successful businesswoman in a very short span of time. She asked Jeannie to become the administrator of the command post including coordinating communications with Lynn Chester. Morgan Downhey would continue instruction in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat. General Bennett asked her to work with the senior officers and with Luther McBane to start building and renovating munitions storage. Barbara Maclippe and Frannie Benson would be responsible for all mechanical repairs and maintenance of both overland vehicles and the helicopters.

Amanda was quiet for a few moments to allow everyone to digest the roles they had been given. She then stated that they had a brilliant mind among them who had successfully planned and led an offensive against The Decision in the North. She asked Lieutenant General Ravencouer to coordinate battles and attacks, adding that all the senior officers including the former Lieutenant General Barbara Maclippe would be working with Laura as she requested. Charlie Smithson addressed General Bennett and his fellow senior officers, his friends, as well as those meeting by satellite link. He stated that it was known that the Armed Forces of Siochain was built with honor with the mandate to serve all earthlings including those who had fought to gain their freedom. He stated it was a true privilege to do so. He continued that the former battles were won with everyone fighting including one Barbara Maclippe. He told the principals that it was known that Barbara had come out of retirement to rejoin the new Armed Forces to serve without expecting or receiving remuneration. He solemnly stated that it was one of the saddest days in the history of Siochain when Olc caused the death of Barbara Maclippe. He knew he was likely very much out of line but he respectfully requested that Barbara Maclippe be re-commissioned to the rank of Lieutenant General as her dedication to their beloved earthlings had never wavered. There was complete silence as Lieutenant General Charles Smithson sat down. General Bennett had to fight to keep her composure , wait ing to swallow tears before speaking. Chief Administrator Declan McDaniels spoke clearly with conviction, stating that if General Amanda Bennett had no objections he would be happy to re-commission Lieutenant General Barbara Maclippe effectively immediately if she agreed. He said the people of Siochain would be honored and delighted to have her serve their Armed Forces once again. General Bennett immediately replied that she had absolutely no objections ; she would be humbled once again if Barbara Maclippe would agree. Barbara Maclippe stood silently with her own tears coursing down her cheeks, snapped to attention, and saluted her fellow officers who immediately returned the honor. Morgan was crying ; at the same time she was absolutely amazed as she realized who her lover really was and had been.

Amanda put her officers at ease and adjourned the meeting, immediately after which she took Barbara in her arms and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth. Lynn grinned , comment ing that this was not the Military of The Decision. Laura hugged Barbara as did everyone. Morgan stood back as Barbara took love and respect from her friends. Lydia was weeping tears of love, respect, and gratitude. Barbara grinned at her as she dried her tears , t elling her to get a grip. She whispered that she could much more interesting reasons for tears rather than a title. Lydia moaned followed by the trademark Stenns howl to which everyone collapsed in fits of laughter. Barbara turned to see Morgan watching her with a look of awe on her young face. She motioned for Morgan to come to her which the young woman did. She kissed Barbara gently with love , telling her quietly that hell would freeze over before she would salute her. Knowing Morgan's herstory, she simply told her young mistress that she would never be expected to salute any of them. She told Morgan that Laura still hated the gesture , only acquiesc ing as Amanda insisted from time to time. Morgan smiled a wicked grin , reminding Barbara that the all knew how to fix Amanda's insisting anything. It was then that Barbara laughed aloud for several minutes.

Material and supplies were still being offloaded and stored and Morgan joined her sisters to help. Her eyes lit up and her face shone with a bright smile as she spotted eight new Harlie motorcycles being rolled down the ramp from one of the Raptor's. Barbara joined her with a smile almost as bright. She asked Morgan if she would like to park them all in one of the sheds now used as a garage. She tossed her keys but told her that in a pinch she now knew how to hot-wire anything. She continued that Laura could hot-wire and fly a tank it if had wings. She told Morgan about Laura and Drew McDaniels jumping onto former military bases while sisters and brothers bombed the hell of them before hot-wiring Raptor's and flying them back to the command posts. She mentioned that Drew McDaniels was probably the best in the business but Laura Ravencouer came a close second ; Barbara had taught her everything she knew. Morgan did move all the new Harlies to the garage ; as she was parking the last one she felt eyes watching her. She looked up to see Laura standing quietly in the doorway with a gentle smile and eyes full of remembering. All and at once Morgan was taken back to a hanger in the North where she used to wait as Lindsay Reynolds for Laura to return safely. Laura saw the recognition on the young woman's face with misted eyes. Morgan then teased Laura that she had heard she was quite adept at hot-wiring anything including tanks if need be. Laura laughed, telling her she had been taught by the best and had worked with the best. Morgan stated she found it a bit difficult to comprehend that a criminal was now head of communications for an entire country. Laura laughed stating that his brother Declan was also a criminal ; he was freely elected to run the place. She reminded Morgan that desperate times breed desperate acts. As young men both Declan and Andrew fought back the only way they knew. She told Morgan that perhaps one day she would meet Lou Shipman, their mother. She laughed as she explained that Morgan would immediately understand not only the attitude but the enormous compassion and generosity of spirit. Laura told Morgan that Drew met Archie Granger in jail as Archie was the best forger and counterfeiter with whom the former military ever had to contend. She said the good news was that all the free people and those who would be benefitted from his talents. She also mentioned that he was the finest photographer she had ever met; the second best was her beloved Amanda. Morgan was again surprised. Laura told her that she would show her some of Amanda's work at some point in the future.

Morgan asked Laura if she liked motorcycles as much as Barbara did. Laura replied that nobody liked them as much as Barbara except maybe Lydia and Morgan. She knew little about them but did enjoy the freedom of a ride. Morgan asked her if she wanted to go for a ride after dinner. She said there were some old unused roads around the lake that made for a lovely view of a sunset and a moonrise. Laura was happy to accept a date with the beautiful young woman.

After dinner, Laura excused herself and ran to the annex. She returned to the common room wearing skin tight jeans, boots, and a lace camisole underneath a leather jacket. She had her silver streaked curls tied in a ponytail at the crown and just a bit of come hither makeup. She smiled not entirely sweetly as she walked past her friends to find Morgan talking to Lynn . She took her hand , declaring that she was ready to ride. Morgan blushed ever so slightly as she saw the gorgeous woman before her, looking fetchingly beautiful. Both Lydia and Sally let forth soft whistle s as Amanda and Barbara grinned ; Jeannie simply shook her head. Luther caught Amanda's eye and shrugged. Several minutes later, a new Harlie sped past the main building and out to an unused road leading around the lake. Morgan and Laura rode as the sun finally gave in to Mother Moon rising above snowcapped peaks. Morgan turned the bike around and the women rode back to The Lodge in moonlight. After Morgan insured that the vehicle as returned to a locked garage, she walked to take Laura's hand and walk with her back to the annex, asking the priestess if she had any plans for the rest of the evening. Laura replied she did, those involving a beautiful woman she had loved in another lifetime and wanted to again. She stopped walking, took Morgan in her arms, and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth. Each woman connected immediately to the lovership they had once known. Morgan asked Laura if she remembered their first meeting when they had both been hurtful in words and actions in the former health care facility in the northeastern city. Laura said she would never forget , still regrett ing the violence of that act and those words. Morgan said she did as well but there was no need for despair. She whispered that they were together again with the blessings of Naofa and the priestesses. Each woman walked then in silence to Morgan's suite. Some wonderful priestess had set candles, lanterns, brandy, music, soft towels and robes for the soon to be reunited lovers. The shower warmed them , remov ing dust from the day and the ride. As Morgan dried her body, Laura lit candles and poured snifters of brandy. She found her signature sultry Latin beats for the music player before ask ing Morgan to dance. Morgan giggled as she told Laura that she was not adept whatsoever at dancing. Laura said they would have to rectify that with lessons, starting that very night. Morgan was led in arms full of wanting. Laura stopped to briefly sip brandy as did Morgan. Neither woman was aware of finding the bed as passion overtook them. Neither woman remembered the earth body of the other but at the same time the familiar deepened connection led them to journeys yet again to the ancients and the multiverse. There were tears and then cries of joy as woman met woman, lover met lover, and priestess met priestess. Amanda, Barbara, and Lydia also wept as the circle was soon to close and a new spiral begun. Noshi blessed his priests and priestesses as they were now readying to take on the great battle before them.

Morning found neither Morgan nor Laura wanting to leave the other's arms. They both knew that there was urgent work needed ; every earthling had to put forth a superior effort. Laura did take her lover to the shower where passion and journeys to the ancients overtook them again. When she was dressing, Morgan noticed a grave look on Laura's face , hugg ing her as she asked of her new lover's concern. Laura whispered that she was falling very much love all over again with Morgan ; she was concerned that their sister priestesses would not understand. Morgan kissed her, smiled, and reassured her that Laura knew all their sister friends very well. She said that even at her early initiation she was sure that they would only rejoice at the reconnection of spirits and love. Laura replied that she knew that of her lovers but she still worried about now the new very deep reconnection and herstory would play out in the lives of Amanda and Barbara. Morgan with self-surprising wisdom reassured her lover that the ancients would guide them all as they had since the first spiral of the helix.

Both women joined their friends in the common room for breakfast. There was an almost hush as they entered the room, both with auras still shimmering. Lydia grabbed both Amanda's and Barbara's hands simultaneously as she knew they were immediately overcome by the passion still very much present in both the priestesses. Jeannie leaned forward , whisper ing to Sally that there might just be a bit of trouble brewing. Sally replied that she would not allow negative jealousy to ruin what Naofa had blessed. In an instant, both Laura and Morgan understood that they needed to love reassurance into all their friends. Morgan squeezed Laura's hand and winke d before walk ing from the room, grabbed a motorcycle helmet, and returned to join her friends. She gently tossed the helmet in Lydia 's lap, kissed the women long, hard, and full on the mouth, telling her she was next. There was momentary silence as every earthling in the room drew in sharp breaths. Then, with a perfect imitation, Sally Palmer left forth with her version of the infamous Stenns howl after which there was almost paralysis by laughter in the common room at The Lodge. Between gasps of laughter, Lydia said the child had learned well, well indeed. Laura's hazel eyes shone with love for her former lover, her new lover, her sister priestess, her friend. Barbara swallowed tears as she saw how the child she had loved just weeks earlier had grown to welcome the ancient warrior priestess within with encompassing wisdom and compassion developing before their eyes. She silently gave down blessings and thanks for the journey she walked with Iobairt and all her sisters.

Luther and Mary McBane organized crews and within a few days rooms to house the volunteers from Bennett were ready. Amanda , Lydia , and Charles determined that there was suitable level ground for landing at the farm, albeit with some convincing of both Judith and Sheila who would not take any consideration of potential harm to the livestock. Amanda reassured them that the first order of business would be construct further tarmac landing space and then hangers to house the additional aircraft. She reiterated that the crews destined to arrive at The Lodge would be work crews ; with a smile she said she was the boss lady so they knew they had to work. Both Lydia and Charles kept sober faces as they nodded their agreement. Amanda told the women that only a few helicopters would land at the farm ; the rest would arrive when facilities were ready to accept them.

All the friends at The Lodge moved to the second and third floors of one of the wings of The Lodge. Sally and Joyce worked with Frannie, Luther, and Mary to organize a group of rooms that could serve as an intake area and infirmary as necessary for survivors as they were rescued and brought to The Lodge. When the principals met on the third weekday, Luther reported that the intake/infirmary area was ready to accept twenty survivors but if more room was needed it would be readied quickly. Joyce reported that there was an enclave about two hours slightly southwest, across another large lake, who were in needed of rescue as soon as possible. They had reported that their food stores were almost depleted ; some women were already quite ill. Sadly, none of the children once part of the group had survived illness over the previous winter. Amanda asked Colonel Lemaine at Bennett that medics be read y to fly with the first group of pilots and aircraft scheduled to arrive in two days. She reported the information Joyce had given her. Before she could ask, Drew McDaniels stated he would fly patients to Sanctuary if necessary. It was decided that Lieutenant Charles Smithson would pilot the next rescue flight with Sally Palmer as copilot. As much as she wanted to accompany them, Joyce stated that she was still not strong enough to react as quickly as might be needed. It was a given that Lydia and Barbara would act as principal rescuers. Amanda then asked Morgan if she wanted to accompany the other holy ones as her magic might be needed. Morgan swallowed hard, put down her terror . She replied she would be proud to offer any help she could. Amelia reported that there was a large Military base within several kilometers of the coordinates. She recommended a night mission if possible. Charles was in complete agreement but also firmly stated that they would just bomb the hell of them if necessary. Morgan's heart leapt to her throat but she remained dry eyed and silent. Amanda caught her eye briefly , smil ing her pride in the internal fight the young woman had just won. Amanda then stated that subsequent rescues farther afield would be flown with air support. She asked Lieutenant Generals Ravencouer and Maclippe to assign pilots and aircraft for that eventuality.

For the next two days, final preparations were made for the arrival of forty sisters and brothers from the Bennett Base. As at all the bases, there was no segregation of sexes for living quarters. General Amanda Bennett had lived with enough discrimination and isolation with in the former Military of The Decision in the North to never allow even slight consideration of the politics of exclusion ever again. Luther and Mary proceeded to open and thoroughly clean a former huge dining room and ballroom that would be used as a communal dining area such that the current common room could be used as space for relaxation and conversation. Luther and Mary McBane were in their elements, embracing The Lodge and the earthlings living there as home and family. In turn, they were quickly becoming beloved. Mary constantly hinted to Frannie and Cora on how to make the old boy blush which they did regularly with great enjoyment.

At just past midday on the fifth weekday, six Raptor's and forty volunteer personnel from the Bennett Base arrived at The Lodge. Pilots landed three aircraft on the new tarmac and three others landed without effort at the farm. Judith and Sheila kept close watch but were happy when the livestock took almost no notice of the helicopters or earthlings. Barbara and crew met the personnel at the farm ; after welcoming them with sincere gratitude the new residents of The Lodge were taken to the main compound to be greeted by the remaining senior officers with new and familiar friends. Lydia barked "Attention!" as General Bennett stood on a small platform to take a salute and then put the personnel at ease. The original women at The Lodge still needed to adjust to the changes and changers in their midst but remained forever grateful they had the opportunity to do so. Amanda smiled as she welcomed her friends, stating that she was expressing gratitude from all their beloved earthling s; she was humbled to be their commander-in-chief and in their company. Luther and Mary McBane were not the only beloved newcomers.

Frannie and Luther organized crews to offload supplies at the compound and at the farm. Cora, Mary, and Rennie showed their new friends to their rooms before invit ing them to enjoy a buffet in the dining room. Jeannie reported that there were increasingly desperate notifications from the enclave awaiting rescue. Amanda found Charles , Lydia , Morgan, Barbara, and Sally. She contacted Drew McDaniels and Amelia Carland. She informed them that a flight would depart at dusk with proposed landing in complete darkness. Once again, the holy ones moved effortlessly into rescue mode. Laura found Morgan as she climbed into a flight suit for the first time in her young life. She hugged her lover and friend, telling her to hold fast to the victory they needed. Barbara then found Morgan , asking her to close her eyes. She fastened an engraved labrys with a jade stone in the centre around her priestess' neck, then kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth. She said it was a late birth anniversary gift , apologiz ing for the lack of romance around its reception. Barbara quietly told her that the only time she lost hers was in death ; Lydia gave it back to her at Bennett when she met her priestesses again. Laura quietly told her that she had never taken hers off. Morgan quietly told Laura she remembered the labrys from their herstory. Laura smiled with misted eyes and touched Morgan's cheek, then walked away to leave her alone with Barbara. Morgan looked at Barbara , t elling her that she loved Laura as much as she loved all her sisters. Barbara hugg ed her reassurance that they all loved Laura. Morgan said she was almost too nervous to eat but Barbara told her she would be air sick , of no use to anyone if she did not. She held her hand tightly , telling her she was very proud of her young lover. She said she was going to fly with the best pilot Siochain had to offer along with a kick ass copilot. She then grinned , saying that she would be the hold with the divine Lydia Stenns and Barbara Maclippe. She reminded Morgan it could be worse. Morgan laughed ; the tension released.

As the sun started to set, Charlie Smithson ran the preflight check list with Sally Palmer. Charlie was kissed by Eleanor and Sally kissed her lover before they boarded the Raptor. Amanda and Laura kissed the sister priestesses as they climbed into the hold. With auras emerging, Lohrissa, Aine, and Lughe gave down blessings. Many people were taken aback as Lughe emerged from Luther's body with garnet aura shimmering. Jeannie returned to the command post to join Lynn as the Raptor became airborne. Lynn continued to confirm coordinates to Sally during the flight. All passengers and pilots stayed in flight harnesses as they were flying in unknown skies uncloaked. Morgan was frightened but even more fascinated by the behavior of her fellow passengers and the pilots. There was no idle small talk. Sally remained in radio contact with Lynn and Amanda as did Charlie. Lynn gave them a thirty minute warning and then a ten minute warning. Charlie saw the Military air base , asking Sally to take photographs as he descended and flew over cloaked. He then warned his passengers to prepare for a quick descent with possible turbulence. There was no airstrip ; Drew sent coordinates for an abandoned service road as a possible landing site. Charles Smithson set the Raptor down on a dirt road softly and quietly in the dark. Morgan was wide eyed as she realized there were on the ground before she knew it. Charles and Sally ran the post flight check list and checked battery power. Barbara ran to meet a small group of women on the side of the road. Morgan and Lydia joined her to learn there were eighteen survivors but three very close to perishing. The spokeswoman s tated that they had seen patrols recently on the road and in the air ; they feared for their lives. Once again, the decision was made to use magic to move the survivors to the aircraft ; four holy ones moved all eighteen women en mass e. Within five minutes they were ready to become airborne again. Lemanychia cast constant spells , drawing down to Noshi for help. Three women were near death ; Barbara chanted a spell of blessing in case passage through the portal was imminent. Iobairt drew down to strength , cast ing it upon the women lying in the Raptor. Barbara was only momentarily surprised as she saw the priestess fill souls and bodies with strength from within Iobairt. Lydia only smiled , join ing forces with her ancient sister as all the holy ones aboard willed life into the survivors. Charlie suddenly commanded that everyone hang on , s tating "Incoming." He deftly managed a quick ascent, roll up and away from an aircraft that obviously had not seen the Raptor. Sally took controls to aid Lieutenant General Smithson level out and continue the flight northeast. Sally was in constant communication with Amanda and Jeannie. She said to expect eighteen survivors, three of whom were near death. Amanda immediately contacted Drew McDaniels who was in the air within minutes. The medics readied the infirmary. Sally did not speak of the roll up and away ; she would only if Lieutenant General Smithson deemed it necessary in his report. All three priestesses in the hold continued caring for their sisters with both Lemanychia and Iobairt casting healing and strength. Amanda gave them a thirty minute warning and then a ten minute warning to landing at The Lodge. She told the medics that the critically ill survivors would be moved by magic to the infirmary. Both medics knew the senior officers were priestesses from Naofa , h aving no element of surprise in their reaction whatsoever. As soon as Charles touched down the doors of the hold were opened ; three very ill women were moved immediately with magic to the care of waiting medical personnel. Luther, Mary, Eleanor, Sally, Laura, Amanda, and many women from The Lodge then helped the remaining fifteen weakened starving women to the infirmary. Frannie and Rennie helped get women into warmed clothing and bedding, then fed most of them broth as initial nutrition. The medics concentrated on keeping the three unconscious critically ill women alive. Lemanychia and Iobairt did not leave their sides , continu ing to cast healing and strength into their sisters. In just over an hour after Charles landed, Drew McDaniels was on the tarmac with medics from the Shipman Base. Barbara helped transfer charged batteries. Cora brought Drew and his crew food and coffee as he ran the post flight check list before preparing once again for takeoff. The medics from The Lodge briefed their counterparts on the condition of the women with a report that their condition was stabilizing ; it seemed that there was a greater chance of life than death. Medicine, fluids, and oxygen accompanied the women onboard the waiting Peregrine. All the holy ones offered down blessings as Lemanychia and Iobairt continued to cast spells. Both priestesses called upon Noshi and the ancients for respite due to their fatigue.

The medics then turned attention to the remaining fifteen survivors , start ing intravenous fluids on all of them. They were amazed at the efficiency of the women at The Lodge in their efforts to settle their sisters. In less than two hours, all women had been bathed, fed, and tucked in between warmed sheets. Rennie and Cora set cots in the hallway in order to take shifts checking on the needs of their sisters while they slept.

Amanda took a debriefing from the pilot, copilot, and passengers in the command centre. Jeannie stood, took Sally Palmer in her arms, and with tears welcomed her back. Eleanor Smithson did the same with Charles. Amanda and Laura kissed all their sister priestesses , offer ing silent thanks. Lieutenant General Smithson was very thorough in his report including spotting the incoming with the roll up and away. He was confident that they were not seen. Sally Palmer grinned , stat ing that there was none better at rolling out of a potentially nasty outcome than Charlie Smithson. Morgan gasped ; Barbara laughed as she knew her young lover had not even known she had her first flight in a Raptor with the best pilot in the business and lived through Charlie's trademark roll. Lynn reported that the medics on board the flight to Sanctuary stated that the condition of the very ill survivors was improving much to everyone's relief. Lydia and Morgan simply smiled at each other. Amanda then thanked the priestess Lemanychia for casting healing. Lydia interrupted , adding that they also needed to thank Iobairt who cast constant strength. Morgan smiled as Amanda stood back in surprise. Lohrissa emerged briefly in shimmering white aura , quietly thank ing all her holy ones as once more Olc had been defeated.

Dawn was just kissing the mountaintops when the flight crew found their beds. Luther reassured his priestesses and friends that he and Mary would insure their rest , help ing with the newest residents of The Lodge. Lydia was close to asleep before her head hit her pillow. Laura and Amanda made their rounds, tucking in all their sister priestesses, each exhausted and sleeping soundly alone. Jeannie held Sally in her arms, telling her that she had never loved her more or was in any greater awe of her mistress and her lover. Sally smiled , stating that she felt move alive after the last few hours than she had ever felt ; suspect ing the best was yet to come. In her previous career as a Military pilot, Sally Palmer had not seen combat. Jeannie replied she was not sure she would think being shot at was the best but she had better always stay feeling alive.

The rescuers were all awake and enjoying a quiet breakfast by mid-morning. Amanda first checked on the condition of the women in the infirmary . Lynn reported that Dr. Ray Dobson confirmed continued improvement of their sisters at Sanctuary. He joked with Lynn that all of the women who had been brought to them were anxious to return to The Lodge. He wanted to know what they had that Sanctuary did not. Lynn did not know of Sanctuary although she had been told of its wonder. She replied that it was quite likely that the women needed to fight back as their main reason. She said the blessings among the holy ones were enormous to which Dr. Dobson replied that he completely understood as he has met them. He did not yet know that Lindsay Reynolds was now returned as Iobairt walking in Morgan Downhey's earth body.

Lydia remained unusually quiet throughout the day. Initially, her sister priestesses assumed that she and Lemanychia were still fatigued from the rescue the night before. Eventually, Barbara understood that there was more going on her eternal lover's soul ; s eeking to offer solace if possible. Lydia was helping to reconstruct the greenhouse when Barbara found her, handing her a glass of ice water in the summer heat. Barbara scolded her gently , t elling her she could be excused from manual labor for a day in light of her heroics earlier. Lydia replied she needed the focus of hard work. Barbara took Lydia 's hand and led her to a shade tree near the water's edge. She sat quietly as Lydia sipped the cold drink. Lydia then laughed, telling Barbara that she could never keep anything from her ; she didn't know why she even tried. Barbara squeezed her hand simply telling Lydia that she loved her. Lydia told Barbara that while working with Morgan the night before, Lemanychia remembered an ancient connection with Iobairt, one as old as she and Lohrissa. She very quietly told Barbara that Iobairt was an extremely powerful magic holy one, a fierce warrior, one capable of casting spells on her holy ones and on earthlings. Barbara told Lydia that when Briallen met Iobairt in passion she had to hold fast in order to not shatter. She said she had an instant strong connection to the young woman Morgan from the first day when she had offered Barbara a ride. Barbara held Lydia 's hand firmly , telling her that she loved the young woman. Lydia admitted that she was now in awe of Morga n; almost timid to take her as a lover in light of the connection she now understood between Lemanychia and Iobairt. Barbara reminded Lydia that she was loved by Laura Ravencouer. Lydia agreed but never by the full power of Lohrissa as she was Aine's eternal partner. Barbara told her that she was Lemanychia's eternal partner and survived with only joy. She told Lydia to stop acting like a school girl and take the delightful, lovely Morgan Downhey to her bed when she chose.

Morgan helped with offloading supplies and materials from the helicopters still at the farm. Once all the materials were offloaded, work crews made up mostly from the new personnel from the Bennett Base were assigned to expanding the tarmac at the main compound followed by construction of hangers. A couple of the older women grumbled about losing the pristine view of the lake and mountains. Morgan bluntly asked them if they preferred a view or death. There were no further complaints.

After dinner several days later, Laura sought out Morgan who was sitting out of doors in the cooling evening air. She took Morgan's hand as they started to walk towards the water. Morgan told her of being smart-mouthed about the view . Laura laughed aloud, telling her young lover that she was entirely correct. After minutes of silence, Laura asked Morgan if she was alright. She said she missed her and hoped to hold her in wanting arms soon. Morgan replied that she had been sleeping alone by choice since the night of the rescue. Laura asked her with concern if she had experienced trauma. Morgan reassured her she had only been blown away by the power of the holy ones. She added that she was so honored to be able to help. Then with eyes filling with tears, she told Laura about the knowledge of Iobairt's connection with Lemanychia, an ancient and powerful union almost as old as Lohrissa. Morgan knew that Lemanychia was the eternal partner of Briallen and Iobairt's union with Lemanychia was one not based on love but more on power. Noshi then appeared in a vision to both women. He asked Lohrissa to explain the herstory of the very ancient priestesses. Laura took Morgan's hands ; while looking into her flashing green eyes she recounted the story of the split of the original universe and the birth of Naofa and Olc. She said that with the great rift and the initial spiral of the helix of time on Naofa, Lohrissa had come to be the ancient high priestess, having been a goddess ruler of the universe. She then explained that Lemanychia and Iobairt were her sister goddesses, younger in age but close in wisdom and power. Lohrissa and the grandfather Noshi had chosen to allow their continued spiral as priestesses but with a division of holy powers. Lemanychia was a seer and a healer; Iobairt was a warrior and a source of eternal strength. She explained that all three priestesses journeyed through the spiral of time, loving each other, all the holy ones, all the ancients, and most of all their beloved earthlings. She continued that with the derision of the universe Lughe had become an ancient magic priest, transformed from his former state as a god in the universe. Lughe was a scribe and the one who protected his holy priestesses throughout their journeys. Morgan whispered that explained why Luther McBane was so beloved. Laura told Morgan that Lydia knew now of Iobair t, humbled in her presence. Morgan laughed aloud as she told Laura she was almost afraid to even talk to the woman. Laura gently hugged her young friend , telling her that Lemanychia was her ancient siste r; one who had loved her almost since the beginning of known time. Morgan hugged Laura , t elling her that she loved her very much. She also told Morgan that she needed to find Lydia Stenns to renew their ancient journeys. Noshi appeared to Morgan ; with blessings he urged her to find her ancient sister and close the circle before yet another battle started.

When Morgan returned to the yard, she walked to the garage retriev ing a new Harlie and two helmets. She then drove to the open door of the common room, revved the motor, whistled, and hollered for that Stenns woman to join her for an adventure down a dirt road. Lydia had been sitting quietly reading a book ; she started when she heard her name called. Sally let forth with an imitation Stenns howl while both Amanda, Laura, and Barbara simply smiled gently. Lydia blushed as she walked timidly to meet the young woman on the motorcycle. As they rode off, Laura reminded her sisters it was time to set a mood. Barbara added it was fortunate that they all knew how. Frannie shook her head , walk ing to them with a fifth of champagne and flutes. She kept a chilled stash now, wise woman that she was. Luther hinted to her that it was beneficial to do so. Laura went to Lydia 's room to change linens while Amanda found the lace trimmed sheets Luther retrieved from their cabin home. Barbara found Lydia 's favorite music, placing pillars and lanterns about the room, humming as she did. There was the ancient air of excitement as all the priests and priestesses knew that the circle once broken was about to be joined again. Luther and Charlie knocked at the door of Lydia 's room ; when Laura opened it they both handed her orchids and roses, both grown with love by both gardeners and brought to their new home. All five holy ones glanced about the room, one set for romance and lov e with congratulations to each other on a task well done. Charlie laughed , reiterat ing that it was fortunate that they all knew how.

Morgan drove the motorcycles around the lake and out to the farm before returning to the garage in darkness. Lydia laughed as the young beauty parked the bike, made sure it was clean of dust and dirt, and then locked the door of the storage shed. She thanked Morgan for a great tour. Morgan quietly took her hand and both women walked in silence towards the annex. Before entering the building, Lydia whispered that she wanted the young woman in her arms but was as timid as a first time lover. Morgan quipped that she would never tell as soul as it would surely ruin the divine Lydia Stenns' reputation. Instantly Lydia relaxed and laughed aloud. She loved the young woman more with each minute and each breath. Laura heard the women walking down the hallway ; after turning on the music player she slipped through the door to the adjoining suite.

Lydia opened the door of her suite and drew in a sharp breath as she saw the handiwork of the holy ones. She was usually not one to set much stock in romance as she believed in simple blatant passion. However, the soft candle light and music only enhanced her shyness, her absolute desire to kiss and touch the beautiful young woman ; the ancient sister priestess who held her hand and with a gentle smile led her to shower. Lydia actually laughed at herself as it was Morgan who directed the tempo of seduction. Lydia trembled as Morgan undressed her and took her the warm water. Both lost sense of surroundings and time as a slow reunion took them to their ancients, to their herstory, to the spiral of the helix, near to the time of the birth of Naofa. As priestess loved priestess and the passion quickened, all the holy ones on earth and at Naofa bowed in awe of the courage of love possible between two women who dared to journey. Laura, Amanda, and Barbara lay in each other's arms as they felt the drawing near of the circle once again. Lughe, Curran, and Doakus offered silent thanks to the ancients with tears as Lohrissa emerged , cr ying out joy that the circle of love, power, healing, and courage was joined again never to be broken by Olc. Each ancient on earth felt a momentary movement of the earth beneath their feet as Lemanychia and Iobairt were taken to white heat and naught.

Lydia Stenns and Morgan Downhey wept in each other's arms in a slow ascent to earth reality. Finally, Morgan rose and carried a devastatingly beautiful Lydia to the shower, neither woman able yet able to find earthling words. As they found warm water once again, Barbara and Laura changed bed linens and poured flutes of champagne. Amanda joined her sisters ; all three women silently greeted their sisters as they returned to their bed. Each priestess glowed with auras shimmering. Songs of joy and blessings rang out throughout The Lodge and the mountains. Amanda drew their attention to the moonlit sky seen from the balcony door. Hundreds of ravens circled above, wings tipped in silver.

Barbara, Laura, and Amanda kissed their sisters with blessings and left them alone to bask in an afterglow not previously experienced. Lydia cradled Morgan in arms full of love and awe. Morgan asked her quietly if she was still timid or frightened. Lydia smiled her reply as a slow dance of kisses and touches led to quieted passion once more. Both women understood that Lemanychia and Iobairt would not join as lovers again but both also knew that Lydia and Morgan would and often. Morgan kissed sleep into her new lover, her ancient sister, and then smiled in amazement as she thought that all she had initially asked for was a mechanic.

Chapter 10

Work continued at almost frenzied pace as new tarmac was completed and hangers constructed. Judith was finally happy when the three helicopters were flown from the farm to the main compound. The expanded greenhouse was completed as were additional wind towers and installation of more solar panels. Charles and Lydia taught new pilots to fly large helicopters. A new class of ten more women was started while both Luther and Sally logged hours with the student pilots along with Amanda, Laura, and Barbara. Morgan proved to be a very adept fearless pilot, no surprise to anyone.

Jeannie Dawson took much of the routine planning and communications work such that Amanda Bennett could instruct graduate pilots on the fine art of bombing the hell out of anything. It was not much of a chore as both Lydia Stenns and Charles Smithson had their students exceptionally well-schooled with capabilities well beyond those of a basic pilot license. Serena Palmer continued to prepare bomber pilots at the Bennett Base including Spero Tristan. Ross Shipman coordinated the building of a supply depot not far from the shores of the large mid-eastern lake and southern wall. There were no plans for significant numbers of personnel ; only a few earthlings needed to live there permanently. This depot served as the last stop before air flights to The Lodge. Roy Crosby approached Ross Shipman ; in his own gruff but compassionate manner he offered to become the overland transportation coordinator for the depot. He was given the role immediately. Celeste Crosby offered her services a s head cook and supervisor of food provisions at the Lodge, a task she had done expertly throughout most of her adult life. Without her skills and compassion, the survivors at Sanctuary there would have not fared nearly as well. At the weekly conference, Declan and Ross passed on the message ; after a short conference with Luther and Mary McBane Amanda reported that Celeste would be welcomed with love and much gratitude. There were many more mouths to feed ; the task was almost overwhelming for the women at The Lodge. Andrew McDaniels reported that the women who he had taken to Sanctuary were now cleared to return to The Lodge ; he offered to make the flight when requested. Joyce smiled , telling Amanda they were ready to have their sisters return home. Amanda asked if Roy Crosby wished to live at The Lodge with his wife , tak ing short hop air flights to the depot on a regular basis. Roy hated to fly , stat ing that he much preferred eighteen solid wheels underneath him. He did confirm , however, that he would visit with Celeste whenever possible.

With Luther's help, Jeannie ordered more wind towers and solar panels to support more vehicles, aircraft, and power use at The Lodge. She asked Ross Shipman to find institutional laundry equipment ; he reported that he was able to have new models shipped from Avalon. She then asked for supplies to produce their own warm clothing for themselves and more importantly for those survivors they would rescue. Declan reported that every new cooperative in the country of Siochain had offered to share any materials and food they produced for their brothers and sisters in need south of the wall. There would be the memory of their acute hardship during their own battles for generations. It was out of only love and gratitude that they asked to share. As the Southern Resistance readied itself, Morgan and the women at The Lodge still looked with wonder daily at the gifts they had been given from Naofa.

Amelia and Sterling Carland along with Drew and Annique McDaniels completed the list of Military bases, coordinates for them, and satellite images. Lieutenant General Ravencouer then went to work, designing battle plans, routes, and schedules. She met privately with both Andrew and Annique McDaniels, asking them if Annique could take the role of the Communications Administration for Siochain ; she very much needed Drew to be a squadron leader of bomber pilots when the time came. She did not discuss the plans with Amanda or Declan until she had spoken to both Drew and Annique personally and privately. Both immediately completely agreed to whatever help was needed. Annique told Laura that she had already established a fine working relationship with Lynn Chester ; as such , communications would not be a challenge. She confirmed that there was an established network now with all the outposts and Sanctuary in addition to plans for furthering the network when needed. When Laura met with the senior officers , she reported that Andrew McDaniels agreed to become the senior squadron leader, much to her relief. Amanda asked Laura how close they were to the first raid. Laura replied that she wanted to rescue as many survivors in each sector as possible before air raids started as by doing so all lives became in greater jeopardy. Amanda and Lydia continued to order munitions ; Morgan coordinated storage.

The rooms at The Lodge on all seven floors were ready now for the remaining volunteers, the pilots, and survivors as they were rescued. At the next weekly meeting of all the principals, Declan McDaniels announced that Louiza Shipman had taken on the role of establishing homes at all the new settlements for survivors as they were rescued. It was understood that for the near future, those survivors who were able would remain at The Lodge to fight back but those who could not needed homes. Barbara commented that was an excellent role for their mother , hop ing she had not taken too much convincing. Drew quietly replied that she told them she was doing it ; they did not request her participation. All of the principals suppressed laughter as there was no doubt in anyone's mind that if Lou said it was about to happen it would. Morgan murmured that she loved the woman. Amanda said they all did. Amanda did state that it sounded very much like the Louiza Shipman she had the honor of knowing. Her brother Ross simply replied "Roger that."

Sterling and Amelia Carland as well as Annique McDaniels continued to develop the network of survivor enclaves with the help of Joyce Stanton and Sally Palmer. Sally proposed a schedule for rescue, albeit easily amended if urgent need arose. Laura and Barbara assigned crews for armed air support for all subsequent missions. Both Luther and Jeannie volunteered to fly those missions if needed. There were also senior pilots already at The Lodg e; some flew with the original six pilots from the West in support of the Northern Resistance battles. Until air battles started, Lieutenant General Smithson was slated to pilot the rescue missions with Sally Palmer as copilot. Lydia and Morgan now planned to be a part of every mission as their powers were necessary. Laura, Amanda, and Barbara chose to take turns as needed.

Sterling Carland worked long hours with his counterparts in Avalon to garner information regarding information about the upper echelon of the Military now employed by The Decision south of the wall. Laura Ravencouer needed to understand as much about her enemy as she could so as to undermine and defeat. From what she had been told by Barbara and her knowledge of the Military base close to The Lodge as well what limited information Morgan could supply from her childhood memories growing up on bases, the senior officers surmised that, as in the North, The Decision led using fear. The organization of the Military in the South was much the same as it had been formerly in the North and in Avalon. Amanda often stated that she wondered how many mistakes they would need to make before they realized they were getting it wrong. Charlie reminded her that they needed them to keep making mistakes repeatedly as it was just easier to beat them.

Laura discussed a plan to overtake the small base close to The Lodge without their central command knowing about it. She asked Drew and Annique to record all communications from the base to central command for several weeks. She asked that false messages be sent about transfer of the personnel at the base, numbers now dwindling due to necessary moves to quell more insurrection in the urban areas. By taking over the base, they would reduce the chance of any possible attack once the battles began. Laura mused that it would take some time to get a crew member familiar with the accent of the peoples in the northern part of the country ; one who could be familiar with the geography. Morgan and Barbara looked at each other with exactly the same thought. The trader would be a perfect fit for the job and just enough of a criminal to pull it off well. They told their priests and priestesses about the man, stating that he might take a bit of convincing to give up his illegal business for an even more interesting illegal venture. Morgan stated that they had not needed to trade with him in months as The Lodge bec ame self-sufficient. Neither woman knew how well he was faring now as the population was become smaller mostly due to starvation. Amanda stated that they would all pay the man a visit ; in their usual very effective way the would convince him to join them. Morgan knew that guns would not be needed.

The following afternoon, Amanda Bennett, Laura Ravencouer, Lydia Stenns, Barbara Maclippe, Morgan Downhey, Luther McBane, and Charles Smithson drove to Brockton and entered the trader's shop. The trader came through the doorway of the backroom , t aking steps back as he looked at seven holy ones all dressed in black from head to toe. Barbara stepped forward to speak to the man. She introduced herself. When he did not offer his name in response, she stepped closer to ask him who the hell he was. He introduced himself as Sam Tannenbaum. He told Barbara he did not have many supplies left , stat ing he had not seen her or her friend in the last few months. Barbara replied that they had become self sufficient , no longer in need of any of his supplies. Barbara then went on to explain that she was Lieutenant General Barbara Maclippe from the Armed Forces of Siochain. When he started to laugh at what he supposed was a joke, she took out identification to show him. She then introduced General Amanda Bennett, and Lieutenant Generals Lydia Stenns, Charles Smithson, and Laura Ravencouer. When Sam heard Laura's name, he dropped the shotgun he held in his hands ; he was speechless. When he finally found his voice, he asked if that was "the" Laura Ravencouer, the legendary leader of the northern Resistance, the one who led her brothers and sisters to kick ass. Laura said it had been her privilege to do so. Amanda stepped forward , telling Sam that it looked like his business was definitely dying out. He bowed his head slightly and agreed. He said that the people in the town were dying ; those who were left had no money or items for trade. He said that there were very few personnel left on the base now ; he was no longer able to get coffee or other contraband. He said he was starting to make plans to move on. Amanda then asked him if he wanted a job. She said that there would be no remuneration but there would be a decent roof over his head and three meals a day. She smiled slightly , stating that he also would have the chance to work with some absolutely wonderful bosses and quite a few strikingly beautiful women. Sam blushed slightly , stating he had noticed a few already in his shop. Laura then told him of their plan to overtake the base and their need for him to be the voice who would communicate when necessary with central command. She reminded him that in all fairness he really had no choice but to agree now that he knew who they were and what they planned. He thought for a moment before slowly reach ing for his gun. Laura told him quietly with a very sweet smile on her face that it would not be a wise move on his part to disagree. Lohrissa emerged quickly in full aura. She stretched out arms ; white flames scorched the walls and floor around him. All the holy ones emerged ; Sam was taken off the ground quickly. The y stood him back on the floor gently but stayed in full aura as he stared in disbelief. He looked directly at Barbara and Morgan, now Briallen and Iobairt. Barbara told him that he did not have to like them but if he chose to continue to suck air he needed to agree to help them. Luther stepped forward with Lughe's aura still emerged , telling the man that they were holy ones from Naofa. They had been sent back to earth yet again to help the earthlings take back their freedom from the evils of Olc, now ruling in the bodies of The Decision. He quietly told Sam that they would do that with him or without him but they had been directed to him as it was his destiny to help. Sam stepped out from behind the counter , bow ing his head. He said he hated the bastards who had taken his happy life from him. He turned to the life he led now as his own way of surviving and taking what he needed. With an icy voice, he told them that his wife, his children, and his parents had been killed in a raid on his village while he was away on business. The Military wanted the land for storage of supplies and simply took what they wanted, all sanctioned by The Decision. He said an entire village was annihilated. He came back to find a Military checkpoint on the road to his former home. He did not tell the soldiers he was a member of the village but instead that he was just a traveler who chose this route. He was then told there were no survivors left in the village, that it was now property of the Military, and that he needed to find an alternate road for voyage. Sam remained quiet for several moments as did the holy ones. He continued that his village was in the rural southeastern section of the Great Southeastern City . He continued he wandered west and then north, avoiding the heavily populated areas ; when he neared the northern wall he settled near Brockton and became a trader. He admitted he had no use for the military whatsoever and had his own doubts about even the Armed Forces from Siochain. Sam was not a stupid earthling , underst anding his options quickly and well. He asked Luther and Charles to accompany him to his sparse living quarters at the rear of his shop while he gathered his personal effects. He asked Barbara if they had room to transport the goods he had left his shop. She replied they would return for them. He went to hand her the shotgun and then grinned when he realized he could carry it ; there was absolutely no danger he could affect any harm. Sam Tannenbaum locked his shop without looking back and joined Luther and Charlie in the vehicle to return to his new home at The Lodge.

Upon their arrival, Amanda reiterated that they would watch Sam until they believed he could be trusted. By no means was he considered a prisoner ; he was welcomed as all newcomers were. However, soldiers were assigned to watch his activities for the first few days. Sam told Amanda that he understood the need to do so ; he would do exactly the same thing if the situation was reversed. He did reiterate that he hated the bastards as much as anyone ; he would prove to all of them that he would do honest thorough work at his new home. Rennie took one look at him, took him by the arm and marched him to a room on the first floor with a shower. She told him to strip down to his skin and get under the hot water. She handed him soap and towels, then told him Luther would return with clean clothing after when she would cut his hair and shave his sorry face. She said she had seen and smelled better polecats than him ; if was to live among them he would present well or she would do that for him. Morgan and Barbara overheard the conversation , needing to walk away in order not to laugh aloud. The man did need a good scrub.

Luther walked through the door of the dining room with Mary and Sam. Rennie nodded, told him he cleaned up well ; it was expected he would continue to do so. She told him he would be shaving his own sorry face from that point forward however. Many people rose to shake his hand and welcome him. Frannie and Cora took him to the serving area ; when he was reluctant to take food, they told him he was home now and he would earn his keep. He smiled shyly, filled his tray, before join ing his new friends. Barbara and Morgan walked over to him, shook his hand, and welcomed him to The Lodge. There was no need for any apologies on any part. Business needed to be done and it was. After dinner, Amanda introduced him to Lynn and Jeannie , explaining that both women coordinated communications ; they would teach him how to use the equipment needed to do his job. He quietly told Amanda he that he was a bit surprised that they wanted a near criminal to work with them. Amanda smiled , point ing to Laura Ravencouer. She said the woman could hot-wire a tank and fly it if it had wings. She also said she had been taught by one Barbara Maclippe who had already expropriated one helicopter from the base they were about to raid. He was momentarily wide-eyed with surprise and then grinned. He said he knew he liked that woman, right from the day she pulled a gun on him. Amanda quietly told him all her sisters loved her , very well as often as they could. Sam needed to understand the rules early on.

After dinner, Morgan and Barbara walked hand in hand to the garage to t ake the old Harlie for an adventure down a dirt road. The hottest days of the summer months were behind them now ; the cooler evenings lent themselves well to rides in the country or strolls by the lake. Several young soldiers invited Sam to join them for a beer in the common room. Sam stated he had been literally years since he had tasted good beer and thanked his new friends. He was not about to talk of his past readily but he did enjoy hearing about the past few weeks at The Lodge as well as their earlier lives on ranches and settlements north of the wall. Sally, Jeannie, Amanda, Laura, and Lydia talked of having a ruckus night on a regular basis at The Lodge. Sally quipped that one could take the woman out of the bar but never really t ook the bar out of the woman. She quickly stated that there would be no segregation of sexes or orientation, the ruckus could be enjoyed by everyone who wished to join them. She said she thought it was just about time for the folks at their new home to get a handle on outrageous. She then admitted that she sincerely missed the six inch heels and learning over the bar. Laura laughed out loud as she missed it as well. Amanda stated she had absolutely no objection to a bit of hellery being raised as long as crews remained on standby for rescue and battle if necessary. Everyone stated that was a given. Sally confirmed she would arrange a time, get the supplies flown in, and set up for a party.

Joyce came running to the table to find Sally and the officers. She said they had just received an urgent message that a group of forty women and children were in danger of starvation and further raids by marauders. The location was west of the great river about five hours away by flight. Amanda immediately alerted Charles as Sally ran to start preparing a Raptor for flight. Morgan and Barbara were returning to the yard as they saw Sally run to the hanger. Barbara told Morgan to prepare for flight while she parked the Harlie. Jeannie and Luther ran to prepare Raptors as well, for air support and transport of survivors as needed. Frannie, Mary, Rennie, and the medics started preparations in the infirmary. Lynn had alerted Drew McDaniels who was on standby to fly to The Lodge and then to Sanctuary as needed. Amanda asked Laura to take command as she planned to fly with Barbara, Morgan, and Lydia . Barbara insured that all aircraft had sufficient batteries for a ten hour flight. Copilots were ready as were two Peregrines for air support as well. Joyce relayed as much information as she was given to the rescuers. In less than one hour, five helicopters were in the air and flying west. Lohrissa blessed them all as they departed, knowing they would return with their beloved earthlings. Lieutenant Charles Smithson was the officer in charge of the mission, directing pilots and copilots to fly at a higher altitude to avoid detection and a need to start an argument. He chose to not fly cloaked until necessary in order to conserve power. Once again, there was no idle chatter among the personnel in the air. Morgan understood that all the rescuers were very intent in arriving and returning safely. Lynn stayed in constant communication with all the aircraft. She confirmed coordinates, directing the pilots and copilots. Laura was amazed at how well the young woman took command of the tasks at hand. Joyce stayed in communication with the survivors, telling them that help was on the way. She confirmed that no earthling was gravely ill ; only a few had minor injuries. There were eight young children who were malnourished but not ill ; they had been kept as safe as possible. Laura communicated to the pilots , telling all the personnel to expect a rescue of thirty-two women and eight children, none gravely ill, only a few with minor injuries. She did stay they were close to starvation however and all in a weakened state. The senior medic at The Lodge told Laura that unless conditions changed they would be able to treat the survivors without an immediate need to move to Sanctuary. Laura had been in regular contact with Drew , advis ing that for the present time he did not need to ready for flight but he should remain on standby. Charles directed that Lydia and Barbara would stay on board his aircraft; the injured and children would remain with them. He then directed that Amanda and Morgan move to the aircraft piloted by Luther with the remaining survivors. Lynn gave a thirty minute warning after which Lieutenant General Smithson directed the pilots to institute cloaking and start a descent. All passengers were experienced pilots ; none needed instruction on remaining in harnesses until landing. Joyce reported that the survivors were fearful of more raids by marauders in close proximity ; as such , Laura warned the personnel to have weapons engaged. Morgan Downhey no longer feared the need to shoot if necessar y; anger motivated her beyond any of her former repulsion. Lynn then gave a ten minute warning ; Charles directed the pilots to prepare to land on a roadway.

All aircraft touched down without incident. Pilots and copilots ran post flight check lists, checked batteries, and prepared for take-off quickly. While all the survivors were able to run to the aircraft, for expediency the holy ones moved them en masse to the waiting helicopters. As the rescuers were preparing to board, a group of marauders charged the aircraft, screaming , bullets flying. Amanda , Lydia , and Barbara calmly shot them all dead before quietly climb ing aboard. Barbara chanted silently as Noshi retrieved souls once again for Naofa. Morgan was suddenly shocked but only for an instant. Charles asked for the wellbeing of all aboard ; when he received confirmation he directed the pilots and copilots to become airborne, once again cloaked until they reached cruising altitude. The return flight to The Lodge would end in daylight ; the y needed increased vigilance to avoid detection. Laura understood that they needed to expedite the raid on the base close to The Lodge and to have Sam start false communication in order to aid in the rescue missions.

Breakfast was readied; Frannie took food and coffee to the command centre. She walked forward , kiss ing Lynn on the forehead before she returned to the kitchen. Laura smiled in surprise , then with happiness when she realized that Lynn Chester finally was happy and loved. Lynn looked up briefly from her work at the computer , smil ing her reply to Laura.

Iobairt and Lemanychia cast spells of healing and strength into their sisters and the children. Sally gathered information from the other copilots as to the status of the passengers , forward ing that to Laura and the senior medic at The Lodge. There were no injuries needing surgical intervention ; all the survivors were able to stay at The Lodge. Mary and the medics insured that the rooms in the infirmary were ready to receive their new residents. Further rooms on the main floor were readied for temporary lodging for mothers and children. Laura told Drew and Annique by email that she would confirm the number of passengers to be flown north to outposts and settlements once they were stabilized at The Lodge.

Laura had commanded that although she appreciated the concern of all the personnel, they needed to sleep as the pilots and crew would be exhausted ; likely to be able to function without sleep once they returned. She asked two senior pilots to take command when she herself found time to sleep with the understanding that if necessary any of the senior officers would be awakened immediately. Sam Tannenbaum sat quietly amazed as he saw his new friends at The Lodge move to rescue mode effortlessly. Although he still had nagging doubts about any military, it was hard to doubt that these officers and personnel actually gave a damn about those people they risked their lives to help.

Five helicopters landed at The Lodge three hours after dawn with tired crews ; forty new survivors were greeted by sisters with love and compassion. The pilots and copilots ran post flight check lists as passengers were moved to the infirmary and temporary rooms. The children were all sleeping , lovingly carried by soldiers and Sam Tannenbaum to rooms with their mothers. Sam had a hard time fighting back tears as he saw the near starved state of all of his sisters and their children. There was a resolve born in the man that he would fight back for all of them. Amanda saw the look on his face, gently smiled, and nodded.

Laura was still in command as she asked that the pilots and crew meet at 1600 hours in the command post. She then commanded all the rescuers to find beds and sleep. Amanda and Lydia laughed as they heard Jeannie Dawson walking back to the annex with Sally cursing as she did at the end of every flight in the former battles. Sally grinned , telling her friends as they passed them that she had no idea the woman knew those words. Amanda smiled, said she did indeed, and knew how to use them. Lynn was on her way to her room in the annex when Frannie caught up with her, held her, and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth. Amanda smiled with only brief surprise. Laura told Frannie to take her lover to bed, they both had been up all night. Frannie said she wanted to insure that the new women were settled ; she would then hold that beautiful young woman for a very long time.

Lieutenant General Ravencouer took a debriefing of the rescue mission at 1600 hours from still tired crews. The medics reported that save for malnutrition the eight children and their five mothers were all reasonably healthy ; all cleared to fly north to Siochain settlements when that could be arranged. Drew McDaniels agreed to fly to The Lodge on the second weekend day to transfer the new residents to peaceful homes waiting to welcome them. Lou confirmed placement as soon as Drew notified her. Amanda thanked all the crews for their hard work and very efficient rescue of their sisters and children. Laura reiterated that further rescue missions would be aided by false communications from the base they planned to raid very soon. Sally and Lynn reassured the group that Sam would start lessons about the communications network the following day ; they would work seven days a week until he was proficient at sounding like a commander of a Military base. Sally quipped that perhaps Amanda could aid ever so slightly with that to which Amanda replied that Laura Ravencouer could as well. Charlie mentioned the good news that that they knew how. Before adjourning the debriefing, Laura asked that the officers meet on the first week day to finalize plans to overtake the Military base.

Sally contacted Serena Lorimer , order ing liquor and supplies for the first ruckus. Serena replied that she would place and fill the order only if she and Annette were invited. Sally stated she would speak with the General ; Amanda chuckled , telling Sally to invite Serena and Annette as long as Matthew was available to run Bennett and Serena was available to take command immediately if needed. A date two weeks hence was chosen ; posters were placed inviting everyone to an evening partying and being outrageous. The original residents of The Lodge had no real knowledge of what was about to transpire but many of them had strong enough imaginations to understand that an evening of frivolity was being arranged; everyone anticipated it.

Andrew McDaniels met his passengers at The Lodge on the second weekend day at noon. He told Amanda and Laura that he almost had to beat his mother back to keep her off the flight ; in the future they might expect her and Niki to join him when he moved newcomers north. Both women told him that they would absolutely welcome the chance to see their friends once again. The mothers and children all hugged their old friends, their rescuers, and thanked them through tears. The priests and priestesses emerged to give down blessings as they boarded the aircraf t, journeying to their new lives of safety and freedom. On the second weekend night, Barbara found Morgan immediately after dinner , whisper ing an invitation to an evening of passion in the young beauty's ear. Morgan giggled her reply and kissed her. The remaining newcomers and Sam still showed some surprise at the open gestures of love and affection among the senior officers, their friends, and some of the original residents of The Lodge. Without the need to verbally state so, it was understood clearly that none would accept discrimination, prejudice, segregation, or ridicule. There was the understanding that The Lodge would be a safe haven, a place of sanctuary and love for those earthlings and holy ones who called it home. Before Morgan and Barbara returned to the annex for a night of affection, they each kissed Amanda , Lydia , and Laura long, hard, and full on the mouth. Sam was not a stupid earthling but he had a serious case of drop jaw as he began to fully understand the dynamic playing out before his eyes. The certainly was not the Military of The Decision.

Barbara and Morgan giggled all the way back to Barbara's suite as both women had seen the look on Sam Tannenbaum's face as they left the common room. Barbara said that he was only initially worried about one pistol in one holster ; in comparison to what had filled mind over the past few days he initially did not have much of concern. Morgan teased her lover that she was pretty sure Sam had a serious crush on the lovely Barbara Maclippe. Barbara murmured that it seemed that the entire world did but for the next few hours she was only really interested in the beautiful young priestess she was about to take to the shower and then reduce to tears. Laughter and unadulterated lust overtook both women as they undressed the other , st anding under warm water before losing touch with earth reality and time. Barbara Maclippe could reduce the most resistant women to tears but Morgan Downhey was a very quick astute prodigy of the fine art of teasing, knowing how to induce begging and very unladylike words from the holiest of sisters. Some earth hours later, Morgan rose on one arm; as she stroked her lover's brow, blonde locks, and breasts she giggled that if all five of the lovers ever did decide to all love each other all at once Olc would experience some serious reckoning. Barbara replied that she should suggest that to the others. She knew, for one, that Lydia would be in full agreement with the act but not necessarily the outcome. She quietly explained that they needed to help their beloved earthlings take back their values, their courage, the commitment and love of each other over the apathy and despair that put them in danger in the first place. She said the holy ones were sent to walk with their beloved earthlings to help them understand the good and evils of their lives.

The following morning, the routine at The Lodge returned to normal with daily chores, construction, and classes. Two senior pilots were chosen to conduct the final examinations for the first group of bomber pilots and carry out the testing of flights. The dates for examinations were set for two weeks hence on the fourth and fifth weekdays. Sally quipped that was as good a reason as any for a party on the following first weekend night. Laura met with the senior officers as well as Morgan Downhey. She outlined her plans to overtake the staff at the base on a night raid, quickly and quietly. She asked that all the officers take part in the raid. She planned to ask Luther to join them as well as Frannie and Cora as drivers. She also had chosen six personnel to assist with the raid. She firmly s tated that there would loss of life as they could not risk taking prisoners on this raid. From the communications thus far as captured by Drew and Annique there were twenty-eight soldiers and six officers remaining at the base. She reminded her sisters that while they were earthlings they were the enemy ; their death s w ere necessary in order to achieve victory. She knew that Noshi would lovingly carry all the souls back to Naofa as he had since the first spiral of the helix. Morgan asked if there was a time line in place. Laura replied that as soon as Sam had learned the basics of the communication system they could confirm a date but she hoped for no longer than four weeks hence. Barbara asked if the communications with nearby farms would be affected. Laura stated that false communications had already been started with replies intercepted very efficiently by Lynn an d Jeannie . Lynn suggested that they could cause enough confusion readily to allow routine expropriation of supplies, food, and livestock. All five women grinned ; Lydia stated the child was learning well, well indeed. Before she ended the meeting, Laura stated that she hoped that other small bases could be raided in the same manner in the future to be used as their own bases for attack. All her sisters readily understood why Laura Ravencouer won in the North and why she would lead their beloved earthlings to victory in the South.

Sterling made initial contact with small cells of Resistance fighters in the Great Southeastern City . He informed them that there was help from Siochain and Avalon. They needed as much information as they could send back about conditions in the urban areas a s well as the organizational structure of their cells and of their enemies. Declan travelled to Avalon ; he had preliminary discussions about sea support from the navy in Avalon. He reported that Siochain was planning attacks. Both Avalon and Siochain continued to use any means available to garner information about The Decision, their financial situation, their structure, and their weaknesses. As was the usual for all groups of despots, greed of wealth and power continued to worm its way into the souls and minds of the leaders, well designed by the minions of Olc. Governing by fear, guilt, and torture continue d; leading to murder, death, but also to easier venues for defeat. Lohrissa and Noshi both understood that this battle would not be won easily or without great sacrifice but it would be won as would all the battles in the multiverse until such time as Naofa was victorious and Olc had been finitely defeated.

Sam Tannenbaum provided to be a brilliant student, spurred on by his passion to defeat the bastards who continued to torture his brothers and sisters. He also was on a personal mission to prove to the holy ones that he would put forth his very best effort to aid in their plans. Sam was not a stupid earthling , underst anding that for the first time in his life on earth he was empowered to affect change and he would. Both Lynn and Jeannie reported to Laura that they believed he would be ready to be the voice of deceit by the end of the third week hence.

Spero Tristan successfully brilliantly passed his examinations as a bomber pilot and was ready to transfer to The Lodge. His mother Jennie still was not thrilled that her firstborn was about to embark on missions to risk his life but she also understood he was a holy one who would be flying with all the priestesses who were present at his birth. Spero was very much in love with Lisa ; she agreed to move with him to The Lodge when he was called. Although both wanted to be parents at some point in their lives, they took vaccination to insure temporary sterility until such time as peace guaranteed among their brothers and sisters in the South. Amanda knew that he was ready to move to The Lodge but chose to surprise Lydia and Barbara with his arrival, several days before the first evening ruckus. He had the great honor able necessary task of flying in the liquor and supplies as ordered by Sally Palmer.

Spero and Lisa arrived by midafternoon on the third weekday prior to the party. Amanda and Laura met the helicopter , hugg ing their young friend who had grown into a handsome twenty-year-old. He introduced them to Lisa Redhawk, Tess' and Stephan's niece, a tall beautiful native woman with long dark curls. Laura hugged the young woman with tears in her eyes for she was a member of her father's family. There was a striking resemblance between the two women ; Amanda quipped that the world needed another gorgeous woman walking among them. Lisa blushed and Spero voiced his complete agreement with a grin. Sally walked to meet the pilot and his lover, thanking them for the supplies and welcoming them to their new home. Lydia and Barbara noticed the arrival of the Raptor , start ing a slow wander to greet the newcomers as did Morgan. Spero noticed them before they noticed him ; with a smile asked Lisa to watch what was about to unfold. He slowly walked towards the women before yell ing "Just Barbara, Just Lydia" at the top of his lungs. Both women stopped in their tracks ; both ran weeping to embrace Spero. Very shortly thereafter there were no dry eyes among anyone witnessing the reunion. When Spero could finally pry himself out of Barbara's and Lydia 's clutch, he reached behind him and took Lisa's hand. She walked towards the women ; both Lydia and Barbara drew in sharp breaths as she saw the strong resemblance to Laura. Spero introduced Lisa Redhawk as his lover and his partner to Lydia Stenns and Barbara Maclippe. Lydia hugged the young woman tightly , telling Spero in no uncertain terms that she was still too young to be a grandmother, even if he was old enough to have a lover. Barbara hugged Lisa as well , informing Lydia that neither of them were aging whatsoever. There were initial polite snickers followed by gales of laughter. Barbara introduced Spero and Lisa to Morgan ; Doakus greeted Iobairt with silent blessings. Luther and Charles also arrived to welcome the newcomers after which Luther took them to their new quarters in the annex. Spero stopped to kiss Lisa before they reached the annex; Lydia and Barbara sighed as they finally realized that he was no longer a child but a grown man. Laura explained to Morgan that Lohrissa first emerged on earth in Laura's body when Spero had been born twenty years ago. Amanda quietly told Morgan that shortly thereafter she had become Lohrissa's lover for eternity. Day by day, it was understood that Noshi was readying the holy ones for battle with victory over evil once more.

Sally and several women as well as Luther and Mary readied the dining room for the party, the evening of fine ruckus and hellery raising. Luther built a portable bar just high enough for very decent leaning over. Luther, Charles, and Mary all offered to tend bar as did two of the former personnel from Bennett. Standby crews were asked not to imbibe in case of emergency ; as usual , Laura would remain sober. Of course, that did not preclude her from being outrageous ; she looked forward to stopping traffic since the initial idea was presented.

The first class of bomber pilots wrote examinations on the morning of the fourth weekday ; the senior pilots tested each woman thoroughly using simulated bombing on the Raptors. All students passed readily. Morgan Downhey achieved a perfect score, again to nobody's surprise. It was becoming very apparent that Iobairt did nothing by halves. At a brief ceremony in the dining room during dinner, General Bennett awarded Frannie Benson, Lynn Chester, Cora Dunlop, Judith Sawyer, and Morgan Downhey their wings with her sincere congratulations. She asked that Lieutenant General Barbara Maclippe pin the wings on the lapels of Frannie, Lynn, Cora, and Judith. She then asked Lieutenant General Laura Ravencouer to pin wings on Morgan's lapel, announcing to the crowd that both women were the only pilots she had taught to receive perfect examination scores. At the end of the ceremony Lieutenant Charles Smithson barked "Attention!" All five pilots were saluted with honor. Even Morgan appreciated the gesture.

Amanda found Morgan after dinner , hugg ing congratulations into her once again. She said she was very proud of her, especially in light of her very young age and her background. Amanda told her that she knew the struggles she had overcome and was still battling. Morgan swallowed tears as she told Amanda that watching her sisters kill the marauders was hard ; she had to dig deep in herself for strength. Amanda took her hand a s both women strolled to the lake. Amanda told her that none of them ever became accustomed to taking another's life ; it was her hope they never would. She then explained that it was all a matter of balance. Morgan stated she understood that but after she took her own father's life she came close to breaking at the thought of doing so again. Amanda held the young woman at arm's length , telling her that her father was taken over by evil from Olc . Those whose lives they would take would be lovingly taken to Naofa by Noshi. She told Morgan that Barbara had gone through the portal as had Laura many years earlier ; both women spoke of the wonder and peace of the experience. She stated softly that she had travelled to much the same place in the arms of women many times and would again. Morgan then smiled, kissed Amanda long, hard, and full on the mouth after which she asked if she could travel there with her this night. Amanda grinned , replying she thought that likely could be arranged. On their walk to Amanda's suite, Morgan asked about the ruckus raising and what she should expect. Amanda threw back her head to laugh heartily for several minutes. She said that she was about to see an entirely different side of her friends from the coast. Morgan asked what clothing she should choose. Amanda told her she would find something very appropriate for the young woman to wear . With that , Amanda kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth as she led the young priestess to her suite and the shower. Morgan proved to her former teacher that she was very adept at inducing begging, unladylike language, many infamous Amanda moans , followed by cries to the ancients and the universe. When she caught her breath she chuckled as she held the gorgeous Morgan Downhey, telling her that she was close to a perfect mark in that exercise as well. Morgan replied she had a very good teacher.

There was a definite air of excitement on the first weekend day. Sally and her crew started immediately after lunch to make as many preparations as were possible. Dinner was scheduled earlier than normal with the idea that music, dancing, and general mayhem would start by 2000 hours. The women from the coast all ate very early before returning to the annex to ready themselves to surprise the residents at The Lodge. Serena and Annette arrived at 1600 hours , greeted with hugs and kisses by all their sisters. They planned to return to the Bennett Base on the upcoming second weekday morning, giving them enough time to meet with the senior officers and also to visit. Lydia showed them to a suite in the annex , wait ing to escort them to dinner. Immediately after dinner, Laura returned to her suite in order to tame the curls and get into ruckus raising mode. Amanda found a very short leather skirt and black camisole as well as black four inch heels for Morgan , help ing the young woman with come hither makeup. She saw Amanda's handiwork in the mirror , decid ing she cleaned up well. She then waited for Amanda to dress herself ; when the General walked into her room wearing grey silk trousers, a lace shirt with only lovely priestess skin beneath, six inch heels, and come hither makeup Morgan gasped. General Amanda Bennett was one drop dead gorgeous woman. Amanda winked and grinned wickedly, telling her young lover she had seen nothing yet. Sally Palmer arrived to the dining room to make final preparations for the party accompanied by a breathtakingly beautiful Jeannie Dawson. Sally chose dress trousers and a camisole along with boots in order to make her work at the bar easier. Jeannie turned heads with a wine-colored backless short sheath and black six inch heels. She wore her waist length hair clipped at the crown. Charlie and Eleanor arrived dressed for dancing and help behind the bar as did Luther and Mary. All five priestesses arranged to arrive together to enjoy stopping traffic together. No-one, save for lovers, had seen Barbara Maclippe in any attire other than jeans or a flight suit ; when she emerged with a short denim skirt, a stretch lace teddy, and her own six inch heels Lydia howled t elling her she cleaned up entirely too well. Lydia chose skin tight black leggings and a gray silk tunic with lovely priestess skin beneath. Morgan was speechless when she saw both women ; she grinned and clapped her hands. Everyone repeated that she had seen nothing yet. The door of Laura's suite opened ; all eyes were waiting as Laura stepped out into the hallway. She wore a very shortened version of the black stretch lace backless sheath with only lovely priestess skin beneath, six inch red heels, a ruby ankle bracelet, ruby earrings, and her hair in a chignon held with a ruby and diamond clip. She wore full power come hither makeup as only Laura could. Lydia let forth with the ubiquitous Stenns howl after which Laura kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth causing her knees to buckle. She then smiled , telling Lydia to shut up. She then asked her sister priestesses if they wanted to go stop traffic. Just at dusk, five fetchingly beautiful holy women walked hand in hand across the yard and into the common room. Conversation stopped immediately as every eye was on the women. Amanda whispered to Morgan that she loved that part. Luther opened the double doors to the former ballroom ; all five women walked into the room wearing wicked grins. Sam Tannenbaum almost fell off his chair while many young soldiers suffered the sudden onset of drop jaw. Charlie Smithson laughed aloud as Luther took many photographs. Spero simply shook his head as he knew the extent of hellery possible from these women. Sally howled several times leading Laura to walk to her behind the bar, take the woman in her arms, kiss her long, hard, and full on the mouth, and then tell her to shut up. Jeannie just beamed as she saw her friends and holy ones being the beautiful women they were. Sally kept a table for them along with Serena and Annette, one with a good view. Many of the original women from The Lodge continued to stare in awe until Rennie asked them all if they forgot what come hither looked like. There were instant gales of laughter ; the party was underway. Sally found appropriate music as Charles approached Lydia to lead her in an elegant waltz around the dance floor. When the music stopped, the crowd applauded. Laura then took Barbara to her fee t, taking her to the dance floor. Both women quickly remembered dance steps , laughing as many friends from The Lodge joined them. At the end of the music, Laura kissed Barbara Maclippe long, hard, and full on the mouth. Laura then took Morgan's hand , urging her to the floor with some protest. Morgan stated she still could not dance. Laura whispered that it was just like sex and flying a helicopter, one never really forgot how. Morgan laughed out loud, relaxed, and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Serena and Annette held each other on the dance floor , look ing more in love than ever before. Rennie held Judith close and swayed to Latin beats. Morgan saw them , rais ing innocent brows. Rennie danced over to her , quietly remind ing the young beauty that her generation did not invent women loving women. Lydia overheard and tossed back her head in an infamous howl. As planned, Sally arranged a short break in the music in order to facilitate the infamous walk and lean over the bar by the divine Laura Ravencouer. She winked at the women at her table ; taking every advantage of the six inch heels on legs that went on forever she strode to the bar, leaned over as far as womanly possible, to ask for a soda. There were audible moans in the room. Luther grinned from ear to ear as he took many photographs. Laura then turned , blowing a signature kiss to the crowd before returning to her table. There was a standing ovation. Amanda took Morgan in her arms on the dance floor a s she softly caressed the young woman. She quietly asked if she was busy later as she thought perhaps she might like to join her and the lovely Ms. Ravencouer. Morgan blushed , staring she wanted to but was out in uncharted waters once again. Amanda laughed, kissed the young priestess, and said she would be the company of experience with women who loved her very much. Morgan then quipped quietly in that case she could not go wrong. When the dance was over, Morgan walked to the bar to chat with Sally and find a cold drink. While they were talking, Sally interrupted Morgan , telling her to watch the dance floor as she was about to see the true definition of ruckus before her very eyes. Amanda took Laura's hand , leading her to the dance floor. Lydia mentioned to Frannie and Rennie that they might want to watch a true mistress at work. Both women beamed with wicked grins, the lovely smile of women loving women. Laura led Amanda in a slow sultry dance ; as she did , Amanda removed the clip from her hair to allow curls to tumble down Laura's back and breasts. Both women were lost in the other's eyes , oblivious to the worlds around them. Amanda slowly caressed her eternal love r, moving the black lace to reveal breathtaking priestess skin. Soft lips kissed cheeks and necks as the song ended. Both women smiled at the other, eyes glistening with tears. Lydia came up close , suggest ing that since the music was over they might think about getting a room. There was a hush in the room as Amanda Bennett kissed Laura Ravencouer, long, softly, and full on the mouth, auras shimmering. Couples started to dance once again as Laura and Amanda kissed Barbara and Lydia , walked to hug Sally, and took Morgan's hand. All three walked back to Amanda's suite hand in hand. Laura asked Morgan her impression of her first ruckus raising. Morgan grinned her own delightful wicked smile , stating that she quite enjoyed if so far. Amanda assured her she was about to enjoy it even more. The beautiful young women who had only wanted a mechanic was taken on new journeys to the ancient s and the multiverse by women who loved her and each other. Near dawn, when Morgan found her voice she quietly asked if what had transpired had really happened. Laura replied that she certainly hoped so as if not she was dreaming and never wanted to awake. Morgan yawned before grabbing a robe to return to her own bed for some much needed sleep. Laura walked with her and kissed her as the beautiful young priestess closed her eyes in rest. Laura then returned to Amanda's arms , holding her eternal lover while they too found sleep.

Barbara and Lydia brought breakfast to Amanda's suite the following morning. Barbara walked to Morgan's room to find the young woman showered and standing on her balcony taking in the morning. Barbara hugged her , ask ing if she was alright. Morgan nodded with still some disbelief on her face. Barbara told her that she would learn to just accept the love as it was given. She then invited her to join the others in Amanda's suite for breakfast and giggles. Lydia was still complaining about having to pick up a trail of clothes now belonging to three women. Morgan walked over to her, held her tightly, kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth, and then told her to shut up. Laura almost fell out of bed with laughter. Lydia smiled a s the circle continued as it should. The five lovers and friends giggled about the previous night and the reaction of many of the residents who called The Lodge home. Amanda said she always had too much fun with those reactions. Laura said she looked forward to that part maybe the most. She then corrected herself , stating her favorite part was dancing with her eternal lover. Amanda then told her friends to leave so they could shower and dress. She said it was likely no secret as to what they had been doing for the last few hours but she did think they should make an appearance at least before dinner. Morgan , Lydia , and Barbara met Annette and Serena as they returned from a walk to the water's edge. Serena remarked that it did her soul good to see mountains again as the Bennett Base was on the flat grasslands of the plains. Amanda and Laura soon joined their friends and all seven women walked to the common room. Luther and his crews had transformed the dining room once again back to its original state. He brought a tray of coffee for his friends , show ing them the many photographs he had taken the night before. He took it upon himself to chronicle the day to day life of The Lodge with the hope that it would be part of the history of the new country of the free earthlings below the southern wall. Morgan and Barbara toured Serena and Annette through the facilities at The Lodge ; Judith proudly showed them the farm and livestock. Serena knew of plans to move some cattle from ranches to the South to augment the herd and provide food for the residents. The friends lingered after dinner catching up on news in their lives and the lives of those at the Bennett Base. Neither Serena nor Annette needed to inquire as to the love between all the priestesses including Morgan, lovelights shone almost constantly among all five women.

General Bennett called a meeting with all principals for the following afternoon. Lieutenant Colonel Annette Lemaine toured the current infirmary facilities ; in conference with the medics at The Lodge, plans were made for expansion, increasing equipment, and supplies. It was understood that the future was likely going to necessitate emergency surgeries until such time as the injured could be flown to Sanctuary. Annette had been in negotiations with Dr. Ray Dobson regarding transfer of one of the young physicians newly graduated at the Lindsay Reynolds Centre for Hope. Lieutenant General Ravencouer spoke of future plans to base raids southwest of the wall from the Bennett Base. She said that with the use of renewable batteries as power sources for the helicopters they would be able to carry out raids to the east, south, and west coasts, albeit systematically and with some help from miscommunication from Sam Tannenbaum and Lynn Chester. Amanda ordered Serena to start choosing those she wished to fly with her and then initiate specific training. Annette joined the meeting to report on her findings about the infirmary and her recommended plans. The principals were in full agreement. Declan suggested that Annette work with Ross Shipman and Dr. Roy Dobson to renovate and equip as necessary. Annette also suggested that women at The Lodge could be trained to assist the medics when necessary. Amanda again agreed completely as did all the principals.

After dinner on the first weekday, Lydia invited the priestesses, the priests and their partners, Sally and Jeannie, Rennie and Judith, Frannie and Lynn, to meet with Serena and Annette in her suite before they had to leave to return to the Bennett Base the following morning. Sally supplied wine, whiskey, and champagne, Frannie and Rennie supplied nibbles. While none of the women dressed to stop traffic as for the ruckus raising, they all dressed for their partners and lovers. There were many stories of past escapades including when Amanda took Laura to Carriere the first time to meet her friend and former teacher Lydia Stenns. Laura soberly told her friends that Amanda had saluted Lydia before asking about the wellbeing of Lydia 's family. She then smiled as she said she was eighteen years old, believing she and Amanda were the only women on the planet who loved other another woman. Rennie just shook her head. Laura quickly told her new friend that she actually met the lovely Barbara Maclippe at the ranch a few weeks later, with Amanda introducing her as Lydia 's family. Morgan was smiling as she realized that the famous Laura Ravencouer was as innocent as she at the same age. Amanda then told her friends about taking Laura to Sally's bar for the first time, the parade of women past their table, Amanda stopping that nonsense by kissing the lovely priestess who then asked her why that happened. Laura shrugged , stating she simply did not know there were bars for women loving women. Jeannie quipped that even she knew that before she was a woman loving women but then kissed Laura softly, reminding her that loved her dear friend. Luther talked of learning how to honk the horn when he arrived at the cabin as he had walked in on naked women a few times. Both Amanda and Laura looked at him with surprise as neither woman realized that after all the ensuing years he had never told them. He said he did not want to embarrass them, himself, and as well he did know what naked women looked like. Spero snickered and Charlie spoke up, stating it was fortunate that they all did which led to fits of laughter. Amanda then told Sally and Jeannie that Luther told them he had to then learn how to honk the horn when he arrived in their driveway as well. Jeannie blushed, Sally just laughed. Day by day, almost minute by minute, Morgan grew to understand the long history of love for each other that was shared among her friends. She also understood that that history and love would sustain them all through the dark times in the near future.

Serena and Annette returned to the Bennett Base the following morning. Lynn and Jeannie worked long hours teaching Sam how to use the communications system. He listened to taped conversations between the commander at the Military base and Central Command. He took the recordings to his room , f alling asleep listening repeatedly . Lynn was astonished that Sam learned the system thoroughly by the end of the second week. He continued to listen to tapes, then researched terms and meanings. Jeannie started practice communications with him from another cubicle in the command centre at the beginning of the third week. Laura chose personnel to accompany them on the raid of the base. She explained the mission with the details of weapons. All personnel in the Armed Forces had extensive martial arts expertise as part of their basic training. Morgan was asked to test those selected to ascertain their skills. She did so ; report ing to Laura that all the personnel chosen were more than ready to attack as necessary. There were protective vests for those chosen to raid the base; Laura could not see the sense of unnecessary risk.

By midway through the third week of Sam's training, he was communicating with Serena Lorimer with testing of his ability to respond to armed forces terminology and slang. She could not find any faults or errors in her testing. Jeannie then asked Laura and Amanda to randomly test Sam from systems on board the helicopters . If he recognized the voices he did not indicate so; he simply respond ed to conversation and requests. Declan and Annique tested Sam with requests for statistics and specifics ; once again Sam Tannenbaum proved he had worked hard to achieve the necessary knowledge. At the beginning of the fourth week from his initiation, Laura deemed that Sam was qualified to be the voice of command at the Military base they were about to raid. Drew sent detailed satellite images of the quarters at the base which included access doors. A night raid meant that few guards would be on duty, with only one soldier in the communications centre and no-one in the administration section; most of the officers and personnel would be asleep. Lieutenant General Ravencouer called a meeting on the third weekday to finalize plans for the raid destined for the fifth weekday night. Each earthling and holy one understood his or her role ; everyone understood there could be no mistakes. At the end of the meeting, Morgan admitted that she was very frightened. Luther reassured that they were all very frightened; they always were when preparing for battle. He told her that the fear would keep them alive but the need to help their beloved earthlings would surpass any emotion when the moments arrived. Luther told her to draw back to the day she wandered into the yard , finding a handful of sisters and children almost dead from starvation. He quietly reminded her that there were still many in worse shape, that was why they were raiding, and why there would be loss of life. He told her finally that with those deaths Noshi would claim more souls for Naofa. When Morgan attempted an angry reply, he told her sternly to grow up. He said with a cold edge to his voice that there had been the fight between good and evil since the beginning of earth time ; until good won the battles would continue and they would help. He then turned and walked away. Amanda overheard the exchang e, knowing that when Luther McBane used a cold tone the listener was not likely to forget. She had heard it in her own life as had her sisters and brothers.

Chapter 11

On the fifth weekday, Jeannie tested headsets at least twenty times. She had not been involved in a land raid before ; she was her usual concerned loving worrier. Sally found her, reassuring her lover that seven holy ones with some of the best trained Armed Forces personnel on the planet were going to do a night's work. She reminded Jeannie that there was a rumor that she herself had been on a few air raids in her past and got the job done well. Lynn took Jeannie's hand to tell her that their friends and colleagues would be fine; she said the ancients constantly blessed the holy ones. Instantly, Sally and Jeannie knew that Lynn Chester was sent as an ancient as well.

Amanda walked with Laura in silence as they found the water's edge. She knew her lover was preparing for battle again, facing the deaths she had caused before and would again. Laura allowed two strong priestess arms to hold her long and tightly as Aine journeyed with Lohrissa through pain to the other side. Laura finally spoke, saying only that she loved Amanda almost more than life itself. As they turned to walk back to the dining room, Barbara, Morgan , Lydia , Charles, Luther, and Spero greeted them . In silence , they blessed their most ancient high priestess ; she returned the love and care. The earthlings and ancients who saw dropped to one knee in reverence.

After dinner, Laura met with the crew set to raid in the command centre. She solemnly spoke only words of final instruction. They planned to leave The Lodge at 2300 hours with Cora and Frannie each driving a large transport vehicle ; Morgan, Barbara, Lydia, and Charles taking Harlies with passengers. At 2230 hours, all fifteen earthlings and holy ones met in the yard before preparing to board vehicles. Sam stood silently ; once again he had to fight back tears as he watched his friends prepare for battle yet again. There was a strong, lasting sense of resolve as all left the yard on route to the side road access to the base. Barbara checked sensors as she always did before open ing the fence, allowing all vehicles to pass through. They drove to within running distance and then cut motors. There was a very quiet check of headsets with a soft reply from both Lynn and Jeannie. Sally, Eleanor, Mary, Judith, Rennie, and Sam all stood silently in the command centre listening to Laura's sparse communications with Lynn, Jeannie, and her crew.

Only five guards were encountered around all the buildings ; each was laid to rest with one kick to the head causing an instantly broken neck and death. Barbara silently chanted as Noshi lovingly gathered souls , shepherding them through the portal to Naofa. Lydia and Morgan entered the communications centre; Lydia shot the soldier sitting at the computer bank in the back of the head. Laura , Amanda, Charles, and Luther entered the officers' quarters silently. Quickly with as much respect and care as possible, six inexperienced commanding officers were put to death by broken necks. Luther silently chanted as Noshi continued to gather souls. Laura then quietly told all her crew to meet at the checkpoint near the staff quarters. There were seventeen soldiers remaining ; their deaths needed to be quickly merciful. She directed her crew to enter the main level and clear the first rooms by martial arts quietly. There was completely silence at the command centre ; almost everyone held breaths until Laura gave the command to begin. Within minutes, the crew leader gave Laura the signal that the first floor was clea r; silently they moved upstairs. The remaining personnel were killed quickly and almost silently save for the sound of gun shots. Both Luther and Barbara chanted aloud as Noshi carried souls to Naofa. Laura then commanded that the crews make one more detailed search while removing identification tags from uniforms as well as personal effects . Each sector leader confirmed the all clear ; the crew was then directed to return to The Lodge. The mission was complete ; the base had been overtaken.

Laura asked for a debriefing session upon immediate arrival at The Lodge. She was a very cool professional as she thanked everyone for an excellent mission . With compassion , she thanked her crew for their caring for those lives they had taken. She then closed the meeting , telling everyone to get some sleep. Sally handed Laura a small snifter of brandy before she left the command centre which Laura accepted with silent thanks. She then walked outside to the water's edge. Morgan watched and went to follow her. Amanda held Morgan's arm , telling her to let Laura find her own peace with the ancients. After several minutes, Laura returned to her suite. Amanda was waiting for her lover and friend. She helped her undress , taking her for a soothing shower before helping her to dress in a sleep shirt. Amanda had not been there to take some of Laura's pain with the former battles in the North ; she had no intention of allowing that to happen a second time. She knew that she could never take all the hurt that Lohrissa felt and saw but she could comfort her as could Aine. With the closure of the circle, Noshi blessed all the holy ones to walk with each other including Lohrissa as they all experienced the pain of taking another's life. Until the last spiral of the helix, none would be alone again. Amanda took Laura in her arms gently caressing and kissing sleep into her very tired , very sad mistress.

The following day, Drew, Annique, and Lynn sent false notices of transfer of many of the former personnel to the Central Command of the Military. They also notified Central Command that new personnel were being transferred, using the names of dead soldiers from many previous wars. Archie Granger had expertly assigned false identification numbers which had been surreptitiously added to the main roster of Military personnel in the Central Command data base. With the false numbers, the Military would not have cause for concern as bases were taken down. A different crew of personnel was assigned to dispose of bodies at the base the following morning by incineration so as to leave no evidence. All uniforms, identification, personnel records, and command journals were removed and brought back to The Lodge. In the days that followed, Barbara, Frannie, Cora, and Charles returned to the former base and catalogued inventory, equipment, vehicles, and aircraft after which all were stored in existing facilities at the base. Food stores were removed and taken back to The Lodge. Rennie and Cora were given the permanent task of recording and distributing clothing and personal items to future survivors as they arrived at The Lodge.

General Bennett conducted the regular weekly meeting with the principals , report ing the successful raid on the first Military base. She congratulated Lieutenant General Ravencouer on designing the attack. She also thanked the crew. She reported on the ongoing work with inventory and storage as well as the false records sent to the Central Command of the Military. Declan McDaniels usually was quite careful with comments in light of his role as elected Chief Administrator but he did remark that he needed to be reminded never to annoy that group. Ross chimed in a signature "Roger that!" Amanda then stated that there was intention to carry out more rescue missions with plans for raids on more Military bases in the same manner.

The first rescue mission was planned for three days hence. Joyce and Sally reported as accurate information as they were given. The same crew members were chosen to fly the missions with the exception of Amanda Bennett who was slated to stay at The Lodge. False information had been sent to the closest base stating that unmarked aircraft were scheduled to fly training missions on the correct date. Drew stated he felt quite sure the message would be lost in bureaucracy but also was reasonably sure there would be no threat to the rescue. There were sixteen women and children waiting for urgent transport. As were all the survivors, they were in a much weakened state due to malnutrition and minor illnesses. The senior medic cautioned that those with illnesses be isolated in a separate helicopter and then in an isolated portion of the infirmary until they could be assessed. Everyone was very aware that epidemics were not in the best interest of anyone. Dr. Ray Dobson was contacted ; he advised use of antibiotics and antiviral medications empirically until they could be assessed. It was decided that a medic would accompany the crew for the rescue mission. Frannie and Cora were chosen as copilots for Luther and Jeannie to further their experience. Lynn was apprehensive about her lover flying into potential danger until Jeannie reminded her that once the air battles started they would all fly into danger all the time. The next rescue mission was east of The Lodge , about one hour away. There was another small Military base nearby, one that had been alerted falsely about training missions. Laura also wanted to see the base from the air including potential areas for night landing in order to carry out another raid. Amanda alerted Drew that he should be on standby to fly ill survivors north to Sanctuary if necessary. She also stated that there were six children and four women who needed to transported to new homes in Siochain. It was decided that there would be a day rescue, partly due to the relatively close proximity to The Lodge as well as a test of the false communications sent to Central Command and the small Military base near the enclave of survivors. Once again, Lieutenant General Charles Smithson was the commander of the mission. He stated that those who needed isolation would be kept on his helicopter with Lieutenant Generals Stenns and Maclippe. The remainder of the survivors would be on Jeannie Dawson's aircraft along with Lieutenant General Ravencouer and Morgan Downhey. He also stated that each aircraft would have one crew member assigned to bombing if that became necessary; a precaution in light of a daylight rescue mission. Joyce and Lynn confirmed coordinates for landing, again on a small roadway near an abandoned farm. At 1000 hours, the aircraft were airborne flying east. Amanda remained in the Command Centre. Lynn gave a thirty minute and a ten minute warning. They flew high above the Military base while Laura observed the geography for potential landing areas. As the aircraft descended, Charlie Smithson ordered cloaking, again a precaution. Before leaving The Lodge, the senior medic directed Charles, Sally, Barbara, and Lydia to don disposable isolation clothing ; on landing they were directed to wear masks. As the rescuers ran to the survivors, Lemanychia started casting healing spells, Iobairt cast spells of strength. There were three adults who were suffering from respiratory illnesses ; they were moved by magic to the helicopter while copilots readied for take-off. The remaining survivors and very young children were them moved by magic to the helicopter flown by Jeannie Dawson. With a report that all were aboard, Lieutenant General Smithson ordered take-off and return to The Lodge. The medic was taking samples of blood and sputum after intravenous medication had been started. She asked Sally to relay information as she checked vitals and respiratory status. The senior medic at The Lodge told Amanda they were ready to receive patients and run rudimentary testing. All six children were stable but very young, two just beyond the age of babies. All were very malnourished but none seemed gravely ill.

At 1230 hours the rescue aircraft landed at The Lodge ; the ill patients were moved by magic to isolation in the infirmary. The medic asked that the remaining survivors were kept on board the aircraft until after her initial assessment. In less than ten minutes, she reported to General Bennett that all the survivors were at risk of illness . It was her strong recommendation that they all be flown immediately to Sanctuary. Drew McDaniels was in the air in less than fifteen minutes. All of the crew members had been vaccinated previously , at little risk for illness themselves but Amanda ordered that the helicopters carrying the survivors completely cleaned. The remaining survivors were moved by magic to the infirmary where intravenous fluids were started along with antibiotics and antiviral medications. Andrew McDaniels flew a Raptor to The Lodge with four medics on board , land ing at The Lodge in less than three hours. The survivors were once again moved by magi c; after checking the air craft and batteries, they were airborne flying north. All crew members were taken to the infirmary to shower and have their clothing incinerated. Amanda called a debriefing meeting, expressing her gratitude and pride in not only the efficiency of the mission but the compassion shown to their sisters and their children. Luther and Jeannie both left the meeting and paced the tarmac, cursing Olc as they had done often in the past. Sally and Mary let them vent before taking them both in arms full of love and concern. Jeannie had eyes glistening with tears as she raised her voice in anger about the state of the children and the babies. Morgan stood in the doorway of the common room , watch ing as did Sam Tannenbaum. Neither spoke; there was no need for words. They would defeat the bastards or sacrifice themselves trying.

The rescuers ate an early dinner , return ing to their quarters for solace and rest. Barbara found Morgan, taking her in her arms and then to her suite. She told her young lover that she was very proud of her and her strength, her compassion. Morgan remained quiet until Barbara undressed her , taking her to the shower gently. Barbara knew there was hurt just behind the flashing green eyes. As she softly kissed and caressed her young priestess, Morgan could no longer hold back tears of rage. Morgan did not cr y after earlier rescue missions or the raid on the former Military base. As Barbara held her, shaking anger and racking sobs were released from the young woman's heart and soul. Barbara and Briallen knew the hurt ; they all knew the hurt. Morgan had yet to experience the journey through it ; Briallen comforted the young priestess as they both felt the ache before reaching victory over it. The other holy ones knew of the journey Morgan took; all gave down thanks as the young woman understood now of the healing. Barbara cradled Morgan in her arms as they sat on the side of the bed. With a slow burning passion not known to Morgan previously, she kissed Barbara softly and then with great urgency, asking her lover to travel with her to the ancients and the multiverse. Barbara had to hold fast so as to not shatter with the depth of love and passion given and received. Noshi smiled his blessings on all the holy ones.

Laura met with the senior officers to plan for the second raid on a Military base, the one seen from the air during the rescue mission. She decided on a night raid along with false and then scrambled communications. With the accurate photographs provided by Drew and Lynn, she determined that they could actually land on the tarmac at the base before tak ing out the personnel they encountered. From recent Military records, there were fifty personnel in total at the base including eight officers. There were substantial stores of munitions on the base. Laura supposed that it was a storage facility for support of bases farther east, to the northern wall, and ocean. Amanda agreed that this would make a suitable clandestine Southern Resistance base for future bombing raids of eastern bases and the more populated areas of the Great Southeastern City . The officers then decided that pilots would include Amanda , Lydia , Barbara, Laura, Charles, Morgan, and with twelve personnel from the ranks. Sally, Luther, and Jeannie would act as copilots ; w Luther fly back to The Lodge with a marked Military Raptor. At the end of the planning meeting, Laura called a further meeting with the entire crew for one week hence with the planned date of raid three days after that.

Dr. Dobson commended Amanda and the decision to send all the last rescued earthlings to Sanctuary. All ha d been exposed to insidious bacteria that could have spread quickly . It would certainly have led to death if not treated quickly as it had been. He warned that as they encountered and rescued weakened survivors there would be an increasing likelihood of illness. He recommended that flights be readied with each rescue for immediate transfer to Sanctuary.

At the weekly meeting with the principals, Amanda reported Dr. Dobson's findings and recommendations. Colonel Annette Lemaine commented that a Raptor could be easily fitted as a hospital helicopter , offer ing to do so at the Bennett Base. As well, she recommended two medics now stationed at Bennett to be permanent crew on that helicopter when it was needed to fly north. Declan McDaniels immediately agreed as did Amanda and all the principals. Amanda reported that she would assign pilots for those flights as needed. Medics from the Shipman Base would be transferred to the Bennett Base in return. Laura reported on the plans for another raid and takeover of a base to the east of The Lodge. She also reported that she was working on a network of smaller bases suitable for similar raids as depots and transfer points for more significant raids in the future. She reiterated that as each smaller base was overtaken, rescue efforts would become less dangerous for the crews and the survivors. Amanda then asked for possible communication with cells of Southern Resistance fighters in the Great Southeastern City . She stated that any firsthand information they could gather would assist not only with an underground escape route but also facilitate future bombing raids. The main compound for the leaders of The Decision was in the Great Southeastern City very close to the eastern ocean. Sterling and Amelia Carland reported that there seemed to be a loosely structured network of resistance fighters in the East and they were working hard to establish safe communications with the leaders. He did state that from the information they had gathered to date, conditions in the inner city were very dire ; it could be assumed there was no difference in the Great Southwestern City .

Chapter 12

Joyce and Sally both received an urgent distress call from an enclave of survivors in the more southeastern part of the Great Southeastern City . This was a camp of survivors barely existing in abandoned log homes in the middle of a mountain range. The Military captured all the men several weeks earlier ; only women and youth remained. The distance was over six hours by air not factoring in difficult terrain and landing facilities. The spokeswoman reported that there was a small village, now taken over by the Military, about two kilometers from their location but they had no means of transportation ; they were all much too weak to travel on foot. Amanda immediately adjourned the meeting as they quickly started plans for rescue. Laura walked alone as she drew down to Noshi, her sixth sense screaming that they would encounter great danger on this mission. The pilot and commander in her knew that an easy solution would be a bombing raid of the village with a move of the survivors by magic to hovering aircraft. It was not the plans or her intent to alert the Military that they existed just yet. She suddenly understood, with smiles from the grandfather, that she had answered herself with a solution. They would fly cloaked , moving the survivors by magic to hovering aircraft much the same method used in any other Search and Rescue mission. She immediately returned to the Command Centre , telling Amanda that the rescue would be slightly different. She asked that General Bennett command this mission with support from Lydia in Peregrine crafts. She then asked that Charlie, Luther, and Jeannie to assist her in Raptor craft to fly possible bombing support. Barbara and Morgan would fly with Amanda, Spero would accompany Lydia . They needed the full magic support for rescue ; fortunately they all knew how. One of the senior pilots was asked to take command at The Lodge if needed; Amanda asked Sally Palmer to take charge in the Command Centre for communications and to help with sensible decision making. Luther and Jeannie had not flown Search and Rescue missions in the past but they could bomb the hell out of anything in a heartbeat ; the holy ones knew they would if necessary. Frannie and Barbara insured battery power as aircraft were readied for flight. Laura and Charlie discussed distraction maneuvers if necessary as there was a Military presence two kilometers from the rescue site. Lynn immediately sent notice to Central Command of the Military that there was a training mission being flown in unmarked aircraft, one practicing search and rescue. The Corporal in charge at the small village Military camp requested radio conversation for verification. In a heartbeat, Sam Tannenbaum had a headset on; using completely accurate terminology with some slang he confirmed that he was a head instructor for one of the training bases and he had chosen a surprise test for several pilots. The Corporal felt important that he had been given this information , thank ing Sam for the communication. Sam closed by asking that no interference be shown to the craft or pilots as he wanted to accurately test their skills in an emergency situation. The Corporal stated he completely concurred ; none of the soldiers at the camp would interrupt the examination. Sally grinned and patted Sam on the back as he removed the headset. Amanda checked with Sally one more time before takeoff ; she was told that Sam had cleared the Military from interfering. Amanda simply replied her thanks with congratulations on good work.

Pilots and copilots had the aircraft in the air flying southeast one hour after the distress call from the camp. General Bennett commanded that the pilots fly at a higher altitude so as to not use cloaking until necessary. Lynn, Sally, and Drew were in constant communication. Spero proved himself to be a brilliant copilot for Lieutenant General Stenns, both thinking that Jackson would be immensely proud of his grandson. Mary McBane and Eleanor Smithson wrapped arms around Lisa Redhawk as this was her first experience sending her lover to danger. Both women reassured her that he was in the air with some of the best pilots on the planet ; she had to know that they all had attitudes from hell when angered. Lisa replied that she had figured that part out. Joyce communicated by satellite mail to the survivors that help was on the way. She also told said that they rescue would be unconventional and to simply trust the help as it was given. Charlie noticed Military aircraft on the horizon , alert ing Laura to incoming. He contacted Drew to establish radio communication with those pilots . In his very best southern drawl , he explained that he was one of the examiners about to test the boys on how to pluck some hounds off a mountain. The pilots returned a reply with a laugh , simply fl ying northwest out of view. Drew closed the communication lin k, telling Charlie Smithson that he missed his calling ; he should be in theater. Amanda had listened to the conversation ; uncharacteristically for a pilot in flight quipp ing that he did theatre ever day . It was called the Armed Forces. There were snickers in all headsets.

Sally gave a thirty minute warning and then a ten minute warning. General Bennett ordered cloaking and descent to the lowest possible altitude for a search and rescue mission. Charles, Laura, Luther, and Jeannie covered the horizons as Amanda and Lydia descended to as low an altitude as possible. Laura then asked her holy ones to gather their beloved earthlings and move them to the Peregrines. In time not measurable on earth, the women and youth were sitting on benches in Amanda's helicopter. When Barbara indicated all clear, Amanda commanded her pilots to ascend quickly keeping cloaked until she commanded otherwise. Barbara quickly assessed the status of their new passengers , ascertain ing that other than being very weak from near starvation all seemed to remarkably good shape. She made that remark; the spokesperson reminded her that they were mountain folks who were used to being tough. Barbara took the woman's hand , telling her she was very glad they were. Most of the survivors were still in a state of disbelief as Morgan cast spells of strength and Barbara handed out nourishment in the form of broth. Each survivor was given warm outer clothing, blankets, and pillows with an invitation to rest as the flight to their destination would take hours. Lydia inquired for the need of healing ; Morgan reported that she believed they were only weakened from near starvation and exposure to elements. She softly told Lydia that she had the strength issue covered for the moment. All the holy ones smiled as did Noshi. Amanda reported that the rescue was complete ; the squadron was returning to The Lodge. In the background there was a quiet "Roger that". Drew stated it was hard to keep either his mother or his uncle out of his business. Laura simply replied that it could be worse. Drew also communicated that he had contacted Jackson and Jennie at the ranch to tell them that Captain Tristan was a fine copilot for Lieutenant General Stenns. He admitted that he knew that was not according to Armed Forces protocol but he was immensely proud. He wanted Jennie and Jackson to have the same opportunity. Lydia replied with her own "Roger that."

The return flight to The Lodge was without incident. Barbara and Morgan continued to care for their passengers with food as they could tolerate, warmth, and calm reassurance. Barbara explained that they had been rescued by seven holy ones from Naofa and their friends from Siochain. She also explained that they had committed their lives to helping their brothers and sisters find victory of the evils of The Decision and Olc. Lynn gave Amanda a thirty minute warning and then a ten minute warning as they made their final approach to the tarmac at The Lodge. The rescuers were met by lovers ; the survivors were helped to the infirmary with lov ing care by the medics, personnel, and residents at The Lodge. Amanda called a short debriefing meeting in the command centre, congratulating everyone on a brilliant rescue. Laura quietly gave down thanks to Noshi who smiled his approval and blessings. Lohrissa emerged long enough to thank the holy ones and earthlings for their love, compassion, g iving down thanks that there was no loss of life on this mission. The senior medic reported that at first assessment the survivors were remarkably strong and well considering their lack of nutrition. Morgan bowed her head smil ing . Heads were nodding; Amanda ordered everyone to find their beds for a much deserved rest.

The rescuers slept until early the next morning. Some crawled into waiting arms of lovers upon awaking. Frannie, Cora, and Judith helped Mary and a still tired Luther McBane set out breakfast for their friends who all made their way to the dining area. As they walked in, the diners rose and applauded. One of the senior pilots barked "Attention!" as Armed Forces personnel saluted their senior officers and their friends. The officers returned the salute ; Amanda put everyone at ease with thanks. The following day, Laura had scheduled the final meeting before the raid on the second Military base. She conferred with Amanda , asking her opinion on the need to postpone the raid. Amanda completely disagreed , telling Lieutenant General Ravencouer not to get soft on them now. They had work to do, lots of work to do. Fatigue was simply part of that equation and would be until victory was theirs. Laura thanked her eternal lover, quietly reminding her that she intended to stay soft for as long as Mother allowed. There was a soft, quiet Amanda moan in reply. After breakfast and more coffee, Amanda went to the infirmary to learn of the wellbeing of their newest sisters. The medic on duty reported that all were doing very well ; some were expected to move to rooms later on that day. Amanda then greeted each woman, introducing herself and welcoming them. She mentioned she was one of the rescuers and was delighted it had gone well. Amanda then went to the command centre to find Sam Tannenbaum. She shook his hand, telling him she was proud of his quick thinking prior to the rescue. With thanks, she said that his input had helped to insure no loss of life and a successful mission. She then grinned , telling him she knew they had picked the correct criminal for the job. Sam blushed with pleasure. He was proud to be part of a remarkable group of holy ones and earthlings.

Annette Lemaine contacted Jeannie at the command centre to report that the hospital helicopter would arrive the following day along with two more medics to woman the flights to Sanctuary as necessary. She mentioned that the medics lived together at the Bennett Base and wondered if the same arrangement could be made at The Lodge. Jeannie replied that she would make sure that Luther found a suite for Brenda and Cally. Amanda and Laura were both working at their cubicles ; Jeannie informed them of the arrival of the aircraft with medics scheduled for the following day. She also told them that she would ask Luther for a suite in the annex for the couple. Amanda agreed as did Laura. Laura commented that there was a seemingly good representation of women loving women at The Lodge. Amanda quipped that it was due to good leadershi p, kissing kissed her lover long, hard, and full on the mouth. Laura returned the kiss , telling the General she had one of two options. They could either get naked in the command centre or they could return to their suite in the annex ; as she spoke she started to unbutton the General's shirt. Amanda moaned, giggled, and took her mistress's hand as they left the room. They met Lydia in the hallway, reassuring her friend that she need not worry as they were about to get a room. A Stenns howl followed and then a smile of blessings. Lydia entered to find a grinning Jeannie who simply shrugged. She did tell Lydia about the arrival of Brenda and Cally. Lydia replied that she knew both women , adding that they would be not only great at their work but would have invaluable input at the next scheduled ruckus.

Luther reported to Jeannie before dinner that he had opened up a suite for the new medics; he looked forward to meeting them and getting to know them. Amanda and Laura wandered in the dining room, both dressed in jeans and sweaters; both lost in the other. Rennie walked past their table , commenting that she was about to get herself some of that. Judith smiled, telling her friends that the woman became more incorrigible with each new day. Autumn was soon upon The Lodge once again ; many residents sat on porch swings to watch the sun kiss the mountaintops. All five priestesses took second cups of coffee to a table on the veranda to enjoy the view and the company. Morgan nudged Barbara to look down to a path leading to an old but still sturdy gazebo. Barbara grinned widely when she saw Sam Tannenbaum walking arm in arm with Cora Dunlop. Barbara nudged Lydia to look as well. Lydia whistled softly; Amanda, Laura, Sally, and Jeannie simply smiled. Morgan had mischief shining from flashing green eyes as she whispered an invitation to Lydia and then to Barbara. Lydia rose from her chair, took Morgan and Barbara's hands, strode past Amanda and Laura. She grinned, telling them they had created a monster in the child ; she might be eternally grateful. Laura acknowledged her thanks. All five priestesses returned to the annex with journeys to the ancients and the multiverse.

The following day, Lieutenant General Ravencouer met with the crew about to raid the second Military base to finalize plans. This would be another night raid, landing on the tarmac and taking out personnel as necessary. There would be no prisoners with this raid. All personnel save for Luther McBane and Jeannie Dawson were masters of martial arts. However, both could handle firearms accurately as could all the other crew members. Amanda directed Morgan to start instruction on martial arts for both Luther and Jeannie when they had recovered from this mission. Lynn, Jeannie, and Drew had already alerted the base commander to expect the arrival of unmarked aircraft the following night as part of a touch and go mission, part of pilot training for Special Forces of the Military. The commander replied the students would be welcome. Lynn communicated that there was not a need for special welcoming protocol as the pilots did not intend to disembark from the aircraft. Laura directed the pilots to land and for the entire crew to attack quickly. There would be a lesser element of surprise on this mission ; eliminating the enemy quickly was the only safe option. Once again, a senior pilot was ordered to take command at The Lodge until the senior officers returned. Lynn, Joyce, and Drew were slated to handle communication with assistance from Sam as needed. Laura adjourned the meeting by telling her crew members to rest well for the next hours in preparation of another night's work.

Laura remained in the command centre at her desk after the others left. She needed the time to draw down to Noshi as she did before all the battles. With quiet resolve and comfort, Noshi walked with Lohrissa for moments of meditation. As Laura was leaving the command centre, she was met by Morgan who showed concern. Laura hugged the young woman , t elling her that she always needed to draw down to the grandfather before battle s as she had in the past. Morgan said she came to ask the beautiful Laura Ravencouer to join her for the night, promising suitable time for sleep of course. Laura kissed her young lover, a reply with full acceptance of the upcoming date. Morgan suggested dinner in her suite to which Laura fully agreed. Morgan added that she would bring dinner back for 1800 hours. Laura kissed her again whispering that she was looking forward to their evening.

Laura returned to her suite in the annex , meeting Amanda in the hallway. She was humming softly ; Amanda teased that Laura humming was always a bad sign. Laura grinned wickedly , stating that she had a dinner date. Amanda laughed aloud, hugging her priestess before telling her to enjoy herself but to get rest. Laura replied with a withering look. Laura stood under the shower , allow ing the stress of the day to leave with the water drops. She decided to dress for her date with Morgan , giggl ing as she found her corset and a very short black leather skirt. She also found six inch heels and applied the come hither makeup. She clipped the curls at the crown with a diamond and obsidian clip.

Morgan had her own shower and found skin tight jeans and a black lace camisole showing only lovely priestess skin beneath. She walked well in the four inch heels , learn ing quickly how to use them to her best advantage. She was not as adept as some with makeup but skilled enough to accent young flashing green eyes. She walked into the dining room presenting well enough to stop traffic. She walked past several tables of women who le t forth with soft whistles ; heard were howls from both Lydia and Sally. She smiled, blew a kiss, and then went to pick up dinner that she had ordered earlier. Luther quietly placed two snifters and a bottle of brandy on her tray with just a gentle smile with a wink. She thanked him and then made an exit almost as priceless as her entrance. Lydia said the child had learned very well, well indeed. Amanda quipped she had the best of teachers.

The sun acquiesced to dusk and darkness early in the ninth month of the New Year. Morgan set a small table with dinner, light candles and lanterns before Laura knocked softly on the door to her suite. She smiled brightly when she saw the beautiful Morgan open the door. She handed the young priestess flutes and champagne before taking her in arms already full of wanting. Morgan laughed a s she told her lover to find some patience as she was near starved with a need for sustenance first and foremost. Laura returned the laugh as she remembered telling Amanda exactly the same when Laura was Morgan's age. Laura poured champagne ; as the women dined Laura told Morgan of her childhood and time at university. She talked about not having a childhood as she lived with elderly academic grandparents who loved her but had not memory of raising a young child. She smiled as she told Morgan of the carnival, the Wintersday parade, of cheeseburgers and fries, of the tin toys, and of her first Wintersday celebration at the age of eighteen years old. Morgan said she did have childhood memories but they were clouded by her parents adopting the rigidity of the religious right. She smiled , musing they would have strokes if they saw her, made up, drinking alcohol, wearing revealing clothing, and about to find wild passion with another woman. After dinner, Morgan asked Laura to teach her more dance lessons to which Laura was happy to comply. Morgan poured two snifters of brandy and found Latin music for the player. Laura was delighted as she realized she was being seduced well. She made a remark stating so ; Morgan replied she had the best of teachers. Morgan laughed at herself as Laura taught her how to move to the sultry Latin beats. She told the young woman to just let her body listen to the music much the same way as it did to another woman. She explained that dancing is allowing oneself to find the primal within and moving with it. Both women sipped brandy as Morgan allowed herself to be led to the seduction of music and building lust. She kissed Laura often as the short skirt found its way to the floor. Morgan pulled ribbons on the corset before allow ing herself to be undressed while still dancing. The corset also found its way to the floor and before taking Laura to her bed, Morgan unclipped the curls allowing them to tumble down her lover's back and breasts. Each women snuffed candles and blew out lantern flames allowing the room to be bathed in starlight only. Each lover had been taught the fine art of teasing by the same holy ones ; each was well practiced. Laura finally whispered she had been promised sleep after which Morgan allowed the journey to the ancients and the multiverse.

Brenda Sloan and Cally Hilliard flew a fully outfitted hospital helicopter from the Bennett Base , land ing with ease at The Lodge in early afternoon the following day. General Bennett met the women to welcome them, laughing at herself as she did not realize that both women were trained accomplished pilots. Captain Hilliard saluted , stat ing that with respect all the staff at the Bennett Base were pilots. Amanda laughed again, stating she knew that. The remaining senior officers arrived to greet the newest residents at The Lodge. Both women snapped to attention and saluted. Amanda quietly told them that it was a rare occasion when they followed strict protocol in their present roles. Laura told them she hated being saluted, always did, and was never going to be old enough to be addressed as "Ma'am" Both women were immediately relaxed, understanding that their lives were about to get even more interesting. Amanda introduced Luther and Mary McBane, Sally Palmer and Jeannie Dawson. Brenda politely asked if that was the Jeannie Dawson of the satin and lace fame. Sally replied she was indeed. Brenda then quipped that she was certain life was about to get more interesting. Luther and Mary showed Brenda and Cally to their suite in the annex, stating that all their personal effects would be moved by the end of the day. Amanda walked with the medics , explain ing that they had a raid planned for the night ; as such , the officers were busy for the remainder of the day. She did state, however, that they would gather on a weekend night to socialize and become better acquainted. Lydia whispered that it was very acceptable for Cally to take her lover's hand, mentioning quietly that the place was crawling with women loving women, as often as possible. Cally laughed out loud as she took Brenda's hand.

Laura met with the crew after dinner with plans to leave The Lodge at 2100 hours. They anticipated landing no later than 2230 hours. Lynn, Drew, and Sam confirmed communication checks. Morgan was about to fly her first mission as a licensed pilot ; Laura had wisely chosen Sally Palmer to be her copilot, knowing that the experience with maturity was needed and would be appreciated. The remainder of the pilots would fly solo. There was calm readying of the crew and the aircraft. Barbara and Frannie insured full battery power. Each crew member checked weapons and ammunition, each prepared with protective vests. Lohrissa drew down to the ancients; then with aura shimmering she blessed her holy ones and her beloved earthlings before she gave the command to commence the mission. The flight took about one hour ; as they reached coordinates Laura commanded the order and position of landing. She directed the crew to remain as quiet as possible as they disembarked before start ing to eliminat e the enemy . When all pilots reported landing, Laura commanded weapons to be engaged and the crews to disembark. Charles found the power supply room , cutting electric power to the entire base ; thereby eliminating lights and fouling internal communication systems. Military personnel were systematically killed by martial arts and bullets when necessary. Once again, Lydia and Morgan gained access to the communications centre and shot the personnel in the backs of the heads. Barbara, Amanda, Laura, and Charles killed all the officers as the crew on the ground cleared the ground floor of the barracks. There was a sudden mayday alert as one crew member was down. Luther reported he was readying the Military helicopter as Lydia and Morgan ran to the fallen crew member. Lemanychia immediately cast spells of healing as Morgan cast strength into the young man. Lydia assessed that he had a gunshot wound to the upper shoulder but it appeared that no major organs were affected. He was still conscious and apologizing quietly. Lydia calmly told him to stop talking ; when Luther reported that the helicopter was ready for takeoff the holy ones moved the young man by magic. In minutes Luther was in the air flying back to The Lodge. Sally found the level of rage that Jeannie had felt for many years during the battles ; with calm resolve she proceeded to seek out the remaining soldiers . With her crew members she killed all of them. Lemanychia and Morgan continued to cast spells as Luther was in constant communication with the medics at The Lodge. He landed in less than fifty earth minutes and was met by senior medics who immediately started assessment with preparations of the young man for transport for surgery in Sanctuary. Two pilots were ready for takeoff in less than fifteen minutes; Brenda and Cally moved the young patient to the hospital aircraft for transpor t .

Laura asked her sector leaders for an all clear. The crew then moved bodies to a central location and incineration was started. There could be no bodies left just in case the Military was to inspect. Lynn and Drew had already arranged with Central Command for transfer of personnel and officers to new bases farther south and west due to increasing unrest. Once again, Archie Granger supplied names of long dead soldiers to replace the former personnel at the Military base. Once confirmation of all bodies removed, Laura commanded that the crew return to The Lodge. When in the air, she asked as to the status of the young injured crew member. Lynn reported that he was on board the hospital helicopter with two pilots, Brenda, and Cally, all flying north to Sanctuary as the young patient required surgery. She reported that both medics were certain of his survival and his stable condition. Luther moved the Military Raptor to a hanger , out of sight for the moment. At 0300 hours, the pilots landed at The Lodge. Laura held a debriefing in the command centre, thanked her crew, and gave down thanks for the preserved life of the young injured man. Lohrissa emerged and blessed the holy ones and her beloved earthlin gs; she thank ed Noshi for gathering the souls they had freed and taking them back to Naofa. She stated that when they were more rested she wanted a full report on the actions surrounding the crew member's injury, not looking for criticism but only insurance to avoid a similar incidence in the future.

Morgan was quiet as she walked alone back to her room at the annex. Lydia caught up with her , gather ing the young woman in loving arms. Morgan was determined not shed tears again until Barbara joined them ; when she saw her lovers' eyes glistening with their own tears Morgan could not stop the torrent. She apologized , promis ing that she would learn not to bawl after every mission. Lydia told her as long she didn't bawl during missions it was perfectly acceptable to cry afterwards. They all did including Charles and Luther. Barbara kissed the young priestess on the brow , reminding her that love had many different faces, tears were just one. Lydia then helped Morgan to her shower and tucked her as the young woman fell asleep quickly. She then joined Barbara for a quick shower ; both women found their own beds and hours of much deserved rest.

Sally walked back to the annex with Jeannie, finally admitting that she understood the rage. Sally also admitted she was scared as hell back at that base and was glad to be home. Jeannie gathered her in arms of love , telling her to always remain scared as hell on missions as it would keep her alive. Sally led her lover to the shower ; even in light of fatigue she took them to the ancients and the multiverse with passion she had not understood before. Jeannie held her as Sally wept on her return to reality. Sally Palmer found a new depth in herself and in the love of her life. Love was finding many new faces at The Lodge as dawn broke the first light from the darkness.

Amanda and Laura held each other with silent tears under the soothing warm water of a shower. Both women walked through the hurt to the other side. Laura finally whispered to her eternal lover that she would never break again from battle now that Amanda and Aine remained with her. Noshi appeared briefly to both women , promis ing them that they would always remain together for eternity now. Amanda simply replied that she loved Laura Ravencouer, had since the beginning spiral of the helix and would forever. Each woman held the other as sleep blessed them.

Laura called a meeting of the crew from the second raid for the following afternoon. Brenda Sloan reported to Lynn from Sanctuary that the young crew member had minor surgery to remove a bullet from his upper shoulder and was recovering well. She stated that she and Cally Hilliard planned to return to The Lodge with their patient the following afternoon. Laura asked the sector leader about the details of the attack. He stated the young man had accidentally stumbled and awakened a sentry as they entered the building. His team could not stop the shooting before killing the sentry. The sector leader apologized for the lack of quick response. Laura replied that no apology was necessary but that they needed to rectify a situation where crew members could not see clearly. Laura asked Lynn to order night vision glasses for all the subsequent raids. She congratulated her team on the speed and accuracy of the mission , further stat ing she was impressed with the professionalism portrayed by everyone including the new pilots. With only a very slight smile, she reiterated that there would many raids in the future ; she was very glad the team was a good as it obviously was. With that, she adjourned the meeting.

Joyce, Sally, Lynn, and Drew worked on a schedule of regular rescue of known survivors. The last Search and Rescue mission opened up the possibility of safe and speedy rescues in the future. Late autumn was closing in at The Lodge ; preparations were made for wintering over. Beef cattle and work horses had been moved from Lydia Stenns' ranch and were thriving. Judith and a crew of personnel expanded the barns to house livestock for the harshest weather. The Decision's farm close to The Lodge had been harvested for several more sheep, goats, and dairy cattle. Barbara no longer had to accompany the women who were able to carry out raids on their own with help from Lynn and much miscommunication to those in charge of the farms. Sam, Luther, Charlie, and young women from The Lodge removed all the salvageable material from the former trading post , bringing it back to The Lodge for storage. There were few survivors in Brockton ; they were also transported to The Lodge and welcomed to their new residence. Most of them were initially very suspicious of the strangers who arrived at their doors offering sanctuary ; it usually was Sam Tannenbaum who finally convinced them to join his friends in safety.

Lynn and Jeannie initiated Sam's education of the entire communication system on their own. Sam was not a pilot but he was a very smart earthling , very committed to defeating The Decision. At a weekly meeting, Lynn reported that they had started his education without formal permission , stating she would take responsibility for that action. Amanda stated she was in full agreement but in the future would not tolerate anyone making a major decision without at least informing the senior officers. She stated very clearly that there needed to be order and organization if they were about to move forward in their plans to defeat The Decision ; she would not tolerate any iota of insurrection. Lynn apologized once again. Morgan initially felt sorry for her friend with some anger at Amanda for her words and tone but as she thought about it she realized that Amanda was entirely correct in doing the work she knew best.

Declan reported on delivery of more munitions from Avalon and from suppliers in the Far East , those being contraband and smuggled from The Decision rulers there. Laura reported to the principals that there would be unearthly tactics used by Olc ; in those circumstances no munitions save for those of total destruction would be effective. She reassured everyone that Naofa and the holy ones were ready for those attacks when they happened. There was silence at the end of that statement as everyone aside from the holy ones digested the possibility of hell directed at their brothers and sisters south of the wall. Laura reassured her beloved earthlings that the ancients would fight and win. Ross finally quietly stated "Roger that!"

It was decided that unless weather prohibited, rescue missions would continue through the winter months. Amanda inquired as to the availability of housing in the new settlements for those they rescued, not able stay at The Lodge. Lou Shipman replied that there were still several homes available at the new settlements and the original outposts had already offered room as needed. Stephen and Tess Redhawk also reiterated that Sanctuary would always be home to anyone who chose to live there. Laura suggested that for the worst of the winter months survivors be moved to outposts and settlements ; in the warmer weather others could be taken to Sanctuary. Amelia and Sterling Carland confirmed there were also many offers from families in the northeastern archipelago and the northeastern coast to help survivors find new homes and peace.

The first snows and the advent of winter softened the mountains surrounding The Lodge. There were two more successful raids on small Military bases, one to the east and one south of The Lodge. It was Lieutenant Ravencouer's plan to disable bases first on the periphery of the Great Southeastern City with the hopes to make escape and communications with Southern Resistance cells within the city more easily and safely carried out. Sterling and Amelia Carland continued to establish fledgling communications with any cells they could. The Southern Resistance fighters reported massive loss of life through murder and deprivation. As in Siochain in the previous days of The Decision in the North, earthlings caught in same sex relationships were killed instantly as were those with disabilities. Men were captured and taken to labor camps ; those women who could not escape became concubines and slaves for Military personnel and men in the higher echelons of The Decision. It came as no surprise that a few groups of very wealthy men comprised the inner council of The Decision ; their absolute greed for power and wealth was only very thinly disguised by words and superficial actions professing adherence to the strict guidelines of the religious right wing doctrines. There were no surprises to any of the principals or the senior officers, only a deepened resolve to remove the evil among their brothers and sisters. Declan McDaniels commented that it was fortunate that they all knew how.

Celeste Crosby moved to The Lodge ; she quickly had food preservation and preparation organized with the help of the survivors at The Lodge. As with all other skills, as they became empowered the women took pride , excel ling in their craft. When at work, Celeste was all about business ; earning and expecting respect at all times. When she was not at work, she became a beloved friend to everyone at The Lodge with her brilliant sense of humor and ability to find only the best in everyone she befriended. Her laughter rang out in the kitchen and the common area as she constantly received marriage proposals from both the men and women with whom she lived.

Joyce and Sally continued to develop contacts with enclaves of survivors outside the heavily populated areas. With great sadness, they also reported that they had lost some contact with the assumption that all those lives had been lost. General Bennett asked for verification of continued communication links with those camps to no avail. On two different missions, rescuers found only the remains of bodies sadly ravaged by animals that were starving themselves. At each mission, the remains were honored at makeshift pyres with thanks given down to the ancients for the transport of their souls now at peace at Naofa. Even the most seasoned officers and former resistance pilots grieved at the loss of all lives.

As Wintersday approached, Luther approached Amanda and Laura, asking if he could harvest trees and boughs for a celebration. It took only seconds for both women to understand that their beloved priest had moved all the Wintersday adornments from the cabin; each immediately agreed. They also asked to arrange a surprise for Morgan and Lynn who had not celebrated since their early childhoods. Amanda contacted Celeste, Frannie, Rennie, and Sam, requesting clandestine help with the plans to celebrate Wintersday with immediate delighted agreement.

General Bennett ordered Morgan Downhey and Lynn Chester to accompany Lieutenant General Smithson to the second base they had raided earlier with the pretense of verifying the communication system in use there. Lynn started to protest that she could confirm that from the command centre at The Lodge ; Amanda only replied with a stern look and a repeat of the request in her very best commanding officer tone. Lynn was not about to salute but she was also not about to argue. Charlie knew to keep the women away for about five hours which would allow Luther and his friends to transform The Lodge to the magic of Wintersday. Sam and Luther harvested trees and boughs the previous day , stor ing them in one of the hangers so as to not raise suspicion. Frannie asked for two small trees to be harvested for the bedrooms of both Morgan and Lynn; Luther planned to put trees in all the holy ones' rooms including his own. Sam shyly asked if he could have one as well for his room to share with a certain lady about whom he was becoming increasing fonder.

Sally conferred with Amanda and Laura about a New Year's ruckus, homage to their previous celebrations at the coast ; a celebration, a welcome for a year of victory , for survival. As with the previous party, both women were in complete agreement as long as crews remained on standby but again that went without saying. Sally immediately asked if Serena and Annette could be invited. Amanda stated she knew better than to deny that.

At 1000 hours on the day before Wintersday Eve, Lieutenant General Smithson was copilot to Lynn Chester as she flew a Peregrine to Base Two. Charlie notified Sally at the Command Centre once they were at cruising altitude ; Luther then directed the transformation of the common room and dining room. As usual, Laura delighted in the decorating, always drawing back to her first Wintersday celebration at the cabin. She found Amanda often during the decorating for hugs and kisses which caused the General to beam with misted eyes. Barbara and Lydia were dancing their own enjoyment. Barbara was anticipating the joy they would bring to Morgan and Lynn. Both women were also anticipating celebrating Wintersday with Spero and Lisa. Barbara w as still finding memories of her days at the ranch but now that Spero lived at The Lodge many memories of his childhood came flooding back to her. Both Spero and Lisa were delightful to watch as they participated in the transformation of The Lodge, both just beyond their own adolescence. In less than four hours, the once forlorn abandoned vacation resor t now home to those who chose life glowed in the magic of evergreen branches, thousands of tiny sparkling white lights, and adornments of gold and red. All the bears were wearing new Wintersday wizard crowns and capes over new satin and lace, all rocking with extreme joy on the hearth in the common room. Sam Tannenbaum had to wipe tears from his cheeks as he tucked an arm around Cora , taking in the love vibrating in The Lodge. Once again, Amanda caught his eye, smiled, and nodded her head.

Charles gave Sally a ten minute warning to landing which was the signal for all the residents of The Lodge to get out of sight before Lynn and Morgan entered the common room. The Peregrine landed without difficulty ; in about ten minutes voices could be heard approaching the main door of the common room. Morgan did notice an odd source of light coming from the windows but did not really think much of it. She was still annoyed that she had just wasted five hours doing work that could have been done easily at the command centre in much less time. She and Lynn walked through the door still complaining, looked up, and stopped in their tracks speechless. Their friends slowly walked out from their hiding places with smiles and tears as they saw the look of absolute wonder on the faces of both young women. Charles was grinning from ear to ear as Eleanor walked to hug and kiss him . Frannie walked to take Lynn in her arms as the young woman sobbed. Barbara took Morgan in arms full of love, seeing a faint aura of jade emerging. Lydia stood with both arms around the waists of her beloved Spero and his partner Lisa. Amanda and Laura held arms around the other's waists tightly, both with eyes misted, both understanding the depth of love and wonder they were living at the moment. Rennie, in her most loving irascible manner, asked if the folks wished to stop the weep fest to enjoy some delicious food and libations. Celeste laughed as several women finished bringing food to tables set in the dining room.

In about thirty minutes, a Raptor landed on the tarmac. Only Amanda knew of the pilot and passengers. Laura had a look of questioning as she saw a broad grin on her lover's face. In a few minutes she went to the door of the common room to greet Roy Crosby, Stephen and Tess Redhawk, Louiza Shipman, Nikita Cee, Andrew and Annique McDaniels. Celeste was busy in the dining room, enjoying feeding people once again. She did not immediately see her family walk towards her ; she almost dropped a plate of food when she did. She had not seen her daughter Tess since she had left Sanctuary years before. Laura ran to hug Lou and Niki as did Amanda and Lydia . Lou was her usual loveable self as she greeted her friends , putting put out arms to Barbara Maclippe. Both women could not control sobs as they held each other in greeting and love. There were no dry eyes in the room. Laura then took Morgan's hand and walked with her to Lou. She quietly introduced her to Morgan Downhey, the priestess Iobairt. Lou quietly whispered "Lindsay". Niki could not contain sobs for many moments as she hugged Morgan who instantly felt the connection to both women. Andrew explained that they left Declan and Ross running the store ; as such they could only visit for about three hours before they needed to return. Roy Crosby planned to stay over the Wintersday week with Celeste at The Lodge but the others needed to return home.

Chapter 13

The three hours passed as if they were minutes; the friends all bade each other Wintersday blessings, a safe return trip, and goodbye. Luther was beaming as he watched the joy on the faces of his friends at his new home. Amanda hugged her dear friend with thanks as did all the holy ones. She then sought out Celeste to thank her and all the women on her crew who helped to conduct magic further that day. Barbara and Lydia took Morgan's hands , leading her to the annex for their own celebration. Just as Amanda and Laura were walking to the annex, all the holy ones were running to helicopters and screaming the names of their friends heading north. Jeannie and Sally were readying a Raptor as Frannie checked batteries. Lynn and Sam were in the command post in communication with Declan, Ross, and Serena Lorimer. Minions were chasing and attempting attack on the helicopter carrying their friends north. Drew McDaniels was a brilliant, exceptionally skilled bomber pilot ; not afraid to fight back. He was being attacked but in radio contact stated he had no intention of letting the bastards win. He also mentioned that help at any time would be greatly appreciated. Serena was in a Raptor heading northeast; pilots and holy ones were in the air and heading north. The holy ones emerged , meeting the minions Teragram, Sfael, Noxin, and Nagear high above Drew's helicopter. Lohrissa demanded they cease the attack which only brought ang ry attack led by Teregram who screamed that they were defeated once and would not be again. Briallen faced the minion , stating she was back, stronger, and would not allow more souls to be endangered. All eight holy ones attacked four minions with continued fire and ice. Lynn heard the attacks over the communications system , keeping channels open. With each attack and counter attack, Drew used the time to further his escape. Serena was closing in on his coordinates as were Sally and Jeannie. They could not effectively battle the minions but they could accompany Drew to safety and fly a distraction as needed. The holy ones were battling as their earth bodies were also flying distraction for Drew's escape. The ancient warriors Doakus and Iobairt attacked with speed not visible to an earthling eye. Curran and Lughe deflected attacks as Aine, Briallen, and Lemanychia fought beside Lohrissa with fire and ice. The night skies above Siochain lit with explosions as one by one the minions were defeated and sent back to Olc screaming. The last to take defeat was the minion Teragram who screamed she would take the soul of Briallen to Olc before the last spiral of Naofa. All eight holy ones sent her in flames and ice back to the hell she called home.

Lohrissa asked as to the wellbeing of her holy ones as they returned to their earth bodies. All reported with love that they had survived. Laura then asked of Drew's safety and the status of his aircraft. He immediately reported that he and his passengers were safe ; very happy that their friends arrived when they did. He switched on the communication system on board the aircraft just long enough to have everyone hear his mother Lou using very unladylike words in a very grumpy voice. When he turned off the system again, he stated simply that some things never changed. He then stated that his estimated time of landing was less than one hour. Serena radioed that she would accompany the aircraft to the Shipman base. Amanda commanded that the remaining pilots return to The Lodge with the understanding that the holy ones would remain vigilant. The reply to that communication was a quiet "Roger that!"

The aircraft and pilots returned to The Lodge in less than two hours. Not one earthling had left the common room or command centre. As their friends and leaders entered The Lodge, all earthlings were on bended knee in reverence and respect. Sam Tannenbaum met the holy ones once ; now he knew of their power. Amanda held a very short debriefing meeting in the command centre before everyone finally found their beds. Lydia had not loosed Barbara's hand since they had disembarked from their aircraft. They had all seen Teragram take Barbara's earth life once ; no-one would allow that again. Barbara took Morgan's hand ; all three women walked to the annex. She quietly told Morgan that she was only beginning to know and revere Iobairt who fought with her priests and priestesses since the split of the universe. Charles, Luther, and Doakus returned to the arms of their lovers and the peace of Wintersday Eve.

Amanda and Laura held each other under a soothing shower , gaining down thanks for the wellbeing of the holy ones and their beloved earthlings. Lohrissa remained walking in Laura's body as she did after all battles. Amanda gathered Laura in loving arms , leading her to bed. Aine held her priestess Lohrissa as blessings were given and taken from all the holy ones and the ancients at Naofa.

By midday the following day, Wintersday Eve, Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer returned to the Bennett Base. Drew reported that Lou and Niki were home safely . Alex Taylor was flying to Sanctuary with Stephen and Tess Redhawk. Drew reiterated his thanks once again to the holy ones and the pilots from The Lodge for their immediate , very effective response. Before closing his communication, he sent Wintersday blessings from Annique and himself, stating simply that they would win once again.

Other than routine duties and chores, the days over the Wintersday break were ones of relaxation and enjoyment. Sally and Jeannie joined the priestesses for lunch. Sally quipped that was just a good time being in the same helicopter as the love of her life even if they were kicking ass at the time. Amanda smiled and told her not to get too used to it as when the bombing missions started they would be flying with different copilots. Laura asked Jeannie is she missed her family ; Jeannie replied that although she did very much she knew that she was needed at The Lodge more than she was needed at the coast. She quietly stated it was for all the children and the families still suffering that she made that choice.

A tired sun gave way to Mother's ink blue sky early in the evening on Wintersday Eve. Luther repaired the hearth before the mammoth fireplace in the common room; Celeste and Rennie kept cast iron pots full of mulled cider on two trammels. Lydia and Barbara left for Barbara's room soon after dinner. This was the anniversary of their first union as lovers years before; Lydia never thought she would celebrate again making this year was very special. Laura tucked her arm around Morgan's waist to ask her young lover to join her and Amanda for their own celebration of the birth of the new sun with renewal of Mother. Noshi smiled his blessings on all the holy ones and the beloved earthlings as firelight danced about the common room at The Lodge that evening in the twelfth month of the New Year.

Wintersday dawn did not disappoint. Laura quietly eased herself from the bed , tucking the duvet around Amanda and Morgan. She dressed quickly and made her way to the main building's kitchen. Celeste and Roy were winning matches with large roasters containing fowl and beef for the feast planned later in the day. Laura found the cinnamon buns she had made previously and warmed them. She then filled thermos bottles with coffee, made two trays containing fruit, cinnamon buns, champagne, and orange juice. Luther joined his friends , hugg ing blessing to everyone. Laura asked him to help carry one tray back to the annex while she carried the other. He returned quickly with two pots of paper whites, one for each tray. He and Laura then returned to the annex. Laura knocked softly on Barbara's door , enter ing quietly and plac ing the tray on the table. She then took the other tray from Luther, thanked him, and returned to the suite she shared with Amanda. Both her lovers were awake but still lying beneath warm duvets. She handed them warmed robes before plac ing the tray on the bed. She kissed Wintersday blessings to both women. Amanda reached to a small table , withdr awing a small box tied with a silver ribbon. She handed Morgan the gift; she was quiet with both surprise and delight. She whispered it had been years since she had opened a Wintersday gif t; she apologized that she had none to return. Both women kissed her , telling her that she was gift enough. With trembling hands, she opened the tiny package ; she gasped as she saw a platinum ring encircled with diamonds and jade stones. Amanda took it from the box, held Morgan's left hand, and slid the ring on the fourth finger. Morgan was not speaking but tears were coursing down her cheeks. Laura explained that the ring was from Amanda , Lydia , Barbara, and herself. She said they wanted their young lover to have a symbol of the lovership they shared. They all wore rings encircled with diamonds and rubies, diamonds and sapphires. They choose jade stones to match her aura . Laura told the priestess with love that they all understood . She walked with them since the beginning spiral of Naofa ; they would all journey together for eternity. She told the beautiful young Morgan that each time she looked at her hand with the endless circle she would remember the eternal love she now knew on earth in this time. Morgan remained silent before kiss ing both Amanda and Laura, long, full, and hard on the mouth. Amanda surmised that perhaps she would need to wait to kiss thanks into Barbara and Lydia as they were still likely celebrating the anniversary of their first night as lovers. Amanda went to the balcony door to watch the newborn sun kiss the snowcapped peaks of the mountains. As she glanced up, she saw flocks of ravens circling with gold tipped wings. She beckoned for her lovers. Laura only smiled greetings to her holy ones on Naofa. Morgan was fascinated , underst anding the symbol of love sent from Naofa to whom she returned blessings. Noshi appeared to Iobairt, telling her to journey well with patience as the closing of her own circle would happen when she was able to comprehend.

As all three priestesses were readying themselves to find coffee and friends in the dining room, there was a soft knock at the door. Laura opened it to find two sister priestesses with gold auras still emerged , both with tear stains on glowing cheeks. Laura beamed as she invited Barbara and Lydia into the suite after which she hugged and kissed her own Wintersday blessings into both her friends. Amanda smiled, shook her head, and also kissed her friends. Morgan was amazed at the look of her sister priestesses, more in love than she had ever seen anyone in her young years on earth. She hugged and kissed both with thanks for their gift for Wintersday. Lydia finally spoke that she was more than blessed for the rest of eternity as the ancients had sent Briallen back to her ; they both knew they would not part again.

All five magic women walked arm in arm to the Annex on a bright cold Wintersday morning. Celeste and her crew prepared a special breakfast buffet complete with fresh citrus from the greenhouse and champagne for those who wished. There were posters inviting everyone to a feast later on that day. Sally had also posted notice of a New Year's party with open invitations to all those who wished to attend.

Laura was quiet during her breakfast among friends. Amanda understood that the ancient high priestess was walking a journey with the grandfather ; when she returned she would share the information she could with her lovers and friends. Amanda fully understood, however, that the time for battles was coming quickly with the need escalating greatly. She was quite certain that all the holy ones understood that after the recent attack by minions of Olc. She took Laura's hand and with only a look of loving concern asked if she was alright. Laura smiled reassurance , quietly stat ing that immediately after the New Year's celebration they needed to meet as she now had definite plans for the next segment of victories. Sally and Jeannie joined their friends. Jeannie immediately spotted Morgan's ring. She only smiled her understanding and blessings. Amanda left and then returned from the Annex with parkas, mittens, and boots. She asked the beautiful Laura Ravencouer to join her for a walk through the maple stand and then down to the water's edge on a sun sparkled Wintersday afternoon. Barbara and Lydia wandered back to the annex for continued celebration of their anniversary. Sally organized tables of card games ; soon Morgan was immersed in soundly beating young personnel, laughing and enjoying the day and her first Wintersday celebration since early childhood.

Celeste Crosby and her kitchen crew did not disappoint as everyone enjoyed a huge Wintersday feast, all grown at The Lodge. Morgan sat quietly as she watched all her sisters and brothers laugh and feast. She quietly laughed to herself as she realized that all she requested was a mechanic.

Laura worked for several days after Wintersday and before the New Year's ruckus. Serena and Annette arrived the day before New Year's Eve, greeted by all their friends , particularly by Brenda Sloan and Cally Hilliard. Annette congratulated them on their swift and effective care of the young crew member shot on the previous mission. Cally replied that the priestess Lemanychia had him half healed before they got him in the helicopter while the priestess Iobairt insured his continued strength. Annette agreed that it never hurt to have holy ones on the medical team. Both Brenda and Cally were looking forward to the upcoming ruckus as they heard rumors that the senior officers worked at misbehaving. Serena quietly told them that they had no idea what they were in for but it would be the most fun they had in a long time. Cally asked if there was a dress code; Annette remarked it was more like an absence of dress code.

Laura and Amanda invited Morgan , Lydia , Barbara, Sally, Jeannie, Annette, Serena, Cally, and Brenda to their suite for New Year's Eve brandy, champagne, and celebration. Cally and Brenda were still adjusting to socializing with senior officers and their open show of affection for their friends. Lieutenant General Ravencouer quickly became the ever gracious hostess as she welcomed all her friends. She had taken over some kitchen space earlier in the day and found her muse, preparing savory and sweet nibbles to serve to her friends. No-one openly explained the loverships between the priestesses to Cally and Brenda; it was assumed that they would understand as time went by. Both women expressed their comfort at their new home, stating that they both understood that their duties would increase as the battles began. Laura made no comment but everyone recognized that before the next Wintersday celebration there would be great changes in all their lives. Serena did tease Amanda about not knowing that both Brenda and Cally were very capable pilots as were most of the new Armed Forces personnel, certainly those at the Bennett Base. Amanda blushed and laughed at herself, stating that she just had entirely too much on her mind. Lydia quipped it was age. Amanda slowly and quietly walked over to Lydia , took her to her feet, found all the long remembered pleasure inducing places on her lover's body, and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth. Barbara stood, anticipating buckled knees which almost occurred. Amanda then asked Lieutenant General Stenns if she still saw the General as aged. Lydia grinned and replied "No Ma'am." Brenda and Cally were wide eyed but with huge grins. Annette leaned over and told both of them they had seen absolutely nothing yet. Sally agreed, explaining that they were just gearing up for ruckus mode. When the earth time clock struck midnight, all the women kissed their lovers and then their friends with blessings for the day and the year ahead.

Barbara continued to hold Morgan in her arms , whisper ing her want for the beautiful young woman. Morgan responded with her own kisses, long, hard, and full on the mouth. Both women wished they friends a good night and departed for Barbara's room. Both Lydia and Sally let forth with low whistles. Amanda told them both to get rooms. Jeannie took Sally's hand, stating she had one in mind for them. Lydia took both Amanda's hand and Laura's hand, remarking she had her own plans as well. Once again, Brenda and Cally were wide eyed but quickly understanding of the true dynamics of the relationship between their new friends. Serena looked at both of them and winked, wishing everyone a goodnight as she took Annette's hand a s the four friends left Amanda's suite.

Once again, Celeste and her crew of cooks put out a huge delicious breakfast buffet to celebrate the New Year. Dinner was planned for an earlier hour so that Sally and her crew could transform the dining room into a bar for a fine evening of ruckus raising. Annette and Serena flew in the liquor order, that having been shipped from the bar at the coast. Although Sally intended to take ultimate responsibility for the bar, several men and women volunteers to act as bartenders . As such , Sally looked forward to an evening of her own ruckus raising with her most beautiful non-Armed Forces pilot on the planet.

The priestesses and their friends dined early in order to get into traffic stopping mode. Morgan learned quickly about ruckus raising attire. She giggled as she applied come hither makeup before climbing into skin tight jeans and a sheer black shirt with only lovely priestess skin beneath. She borrowed six inch heels from Jeannie and knew how to take every advantage of them. She laughed aloud as she inspected the final package in the mirror. Lynn asked her to borrow some satin and lace as well as four inch heels. Morgan also suggested a very short denim skirt, all with the prospect of driving Frannie out of her mind. Lydia and Barbara knocked on Morgan's door and Morgan greeted two radiantly beautiful women, each in raw silk trousers with lace camisoles and only lovely priestess skin beneath. Amanda had been giggling all day ; all three women were looking forward to seeing how outrageous the General planned to be. They were not disappointed. She also joined Morgan in her room wearing skin tight jeans, a black corset and black six inch heels. Morgan almost fell over just looking at the woman. She had to be the most beautiful commander-in-chief in the galaxy. They waited in the hallway for the divine Laura Ravencouer. She emerged wearing a pair of tuxedo trousers and a backless vest with only lovely priestess skin beneath. She clipped her hair at the crown and took every advantage of six inch heels. Amanda could not suppress the first of many moans that evening. The priestesses agreed to meet Serena, Annette, Brenda, and Cally on the main floor of the annex before departure for the main building. Cally gasped as she saw the priestesses descending the stairs. Serena emerged wearing jeans, heels, satin, and lace of no structural integrity. Annette emerged wearing a very short leather skirt, lace camisole, and her own six inch heels. Laura laughed aloud ; Lydia let forth with the infamous Stenns howl. Annette very seriously walked to the Lieutenant General, kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth before telling her to shut up. Serena was speechless with laughter.

Luther's crew cleared the pathway between the annex and the main building but the cold night air and lack of appropriate clothing led to a hurried walk by all nine women. The conversation in the common room stopped abruptly as the officers and medics entered. Both Brenda and Cally were grinning broadly as they slowly started to comprehend the true definition of ruckus. Brenda held her lover's hand tightly , remark ing that although she had no illusions about the work ahead she also had no doubt that these women all knew how to live and love.

Sam's jaw dropped to his knees when he saw General Bennett walk into the dining room in jeans, a corset, and heels. Cora laughed at him for several minutes ; she dared him to go ask Amanda to dance. Sam Tannenbaum was not a stupid earthling but just male enough to be unable to resist a dare. He summoned every iota of courage he could find and walked to Amanda's table. He smiled and graciously asked his friend to dance. She smiled broadly, readily accepting the invitation. Several couples stopped to watch as Sam led the General in an elegant waltz about the dance floor. All the holy ones were smiling broadly, none more than Barbara and Morgan. Each woman looked at the other with love and just a bit of mischief, sharing the same thought of how the trader had been worried about a holster and a gun. When the music stopped, Sam bowed slightly , thank ing his partner who returned the honor with a brief kiss on the cheek. Cora walked to wrap her arms around her blushing lover. Laura watched all her beloved holy ones and earthlings enjoy company with celebration of the advent of a new year. The ancient high priestess understood that by the next advent of another new year, their lives would be altered significantly and permanently. For an instant, Lohrissa and all the holy ones drew down to the grandfather for blessings and reassurance that the multiverse was unfolding as it should.

On the second morning following the celebration, Serena and Annette returned to the Bennett Base. In the afternoon, the principals met once again. Lieutenant General Ravencouer proposed a schedule of both rescue missions and raids on bases in the northwestern section south of the wall, beyond the large lakes. Joyce and Sally continued communications with small groups of survivors in small camps and enclaves. The winter months were harsh and presented an even greater challenge for those women who escaped imprisonment by the Military and The Decision. Laura proposed complete takeover of bases heading west with a plan to have closer access from the Bennett Base when the time for bombing raids became necessary. By using the same miscommunication and false records as previously, smaller bases could be raided, with plans to use the Military's aircraft, weapons, and bombs against them. Amanda asked Declan if crews could be moved to the Bennett Base for the purpose of permanently disguising aircraft taken from raids. Declan replied that he would start the hiring process immediately.

Sterling and Amanda Carland reported that they had established firm communications with a network of cells of Southern Resistance fighters in the Great Southeastern City and fledging connections with fighters in the Great Southwestern City . Amanda asked for the links to those cells in order to start supporting the fighters in the inner cities. Lynn received the links immediately. Amanda also asked about available outpost and new settlement homes for survivors as they were brought to The Lodge. Drew reported that Lou kept constant communications open with all the outposts and new settlements; there was housing available for many survivors. Before the end of the meeting, a schedule for rescue of three separate enclaves of survivors was confirmed for the following two weeks.

The three rescue missions ensued with no complications. Fifty women and children were brought back to The Lodge, near starvation but without injury or illness. As was the policy, those women with children were moved north to outposts as soon as their physical conditions and the weather allowed. Alex and Lieutenant Colonel Sean Taylor organized routine flights from The Lodge to new homes for the survivors in Siochain. Lieutenant General Ravencouer then planned the first raid on a Military base in the West, just south of the wall beyond the last of the five large lakes. Annique and Drew McDaniels provided precise satellite photographs of the entire base ; breached communications determined that there were seventy-five personnel in total including ten officers. Archie Granger provided the names of dead soldiers to the central command system of the Military for The Decision, stating that many soldiers were moved south and west to quell uprisings among the inhabitants of the inner cities. The remainder of the personnel was being moved to bases on the farthest west and south coasts. There was an immediate simple agreement by Central Command for the Military. Laura determined that an air raid would be necessary before landing to kill the remaining personnel. The flight time was estimated at four hours. After conference with the senior officers at The Lodge, Amanda commanded that Lieutenant Serena Lorimer take charge of The Lodge remotely as all the senior officers would be on the raid along with Morgan Downhey, Jeannie Dawson, Luther McBane, Sally Palmer, and Spero Tristan. She notified Drew McDaniels , request ing that he fly to the Bennett Base on standby to lead a squadron of bomber pilots if needed. Lieutenant General Smithson suggested that they simply fly low initially over the base and bomb only beyond the perimeter to cause confusion and surprise. He surmised that by doing so they would be able to land and use weapons to kill the enemy without destroying the base or the munitions. Laura smiled , asking him where he was when she was bombing the hell out of everything in sight in the North. He replied with his own grin that he was bombing the hell out of everything in sight right along with everybody else. He simply stated that in his opinion they did not have to with this raid. Laura changed the plans to that of peripheral bombing and then a ground attack. The plan was established to use this base as a stopping and resting point before battles further west. Amanda stated that the base was too small and too remote to be of any great concern to those in the Central Command ; thus it would make an excellent reconnaissance point. A date two days hence was set for the raid with a plan to bomb at night. It was decided that Amanda Bennett would command the raid ; Jeannie, Luther , Lydia , Charles, and Laura would fly solo. Sally would copilot for Morgan as would Barbara for Spero for their first bombing raids . One of the medics at The Lodge was chosen to fly aboard General Bennett's Raptor in the event of injury needing immediate care. Six pilots were also chosen to fly support as part of the mission. Lieutenant General Lorimer had a squadron of twelve Raptors on standby at the Bennett Base with Drew McDaniels as leader. Bombs and missiles were readied on board all aircraft the day prior to the raid , checked carefully by two senior officers. Lynn and Annique tested and retested communications. Drew scrambled all satellite links with the small base such that all communicating was with either Drew or Sam. The mission was scheduled for takeoff at 1600 hours with arrival at the base at 2000 hours. There would be no prisoners and as merciful deaths as possible. Amanda commanded there would simultaneous bombing initially of four quadrant points ; then a second and third pass with bombs all along the perimeter of the base after which they aircraft would land to eliminate the personnel at the base. The base was remote without any significant population close enough to alert the Military elsewhere. Lydia surmised that the base existed to thwart any attempted raid from north of the wall ; since none had ever been encountered poor preparation and complacency would lend the greatest assistance to the Southern Resistance.

There was an atmosphere of quiet resolve on the day of the planned raid. It was very evident that save for Morgan, Sally, and the pilots originally from the Bennett Base, all the officers and seasoned pilots had prepared themselves many times in the past, quietly understanding the stakes ahead of them. Barbara asked Morgan the previous night if she was anxious to which Morgan replied that she was frightened, anxious, and intended to carry out the mission along with all the others. She was told that being frightened was normal and necessary in order to stay alert and alive. The warrior Iobairt was close to the surface now in Morgan's body ; ready to battle evil as she had since the first spiral of the helix. As the time for takeoff approached, many women from The Lodge gathered on the tarmac to silently honor those who were about to risk their lives one more time in the quest for victory. Once aboard the aircraft just before takeoff, Amanda Bennett reminded everyone on the mission that there was no option save for complete success. At 1600 hours, the pilots were airborne flying west.

Lynn, Drew, and Annique were in constant contact with General Bennett who asked that cloaking not be deployed until approach to the base, once again to conserve energy. Lynn gave a thirty minute warning to coordinates. Amanda ordered cloaking deployed with bombs and missiles readied. Morgan and Spero were as ready to carry out the mission as any of the experienced pilots , quietly wait ing for Amanda to command the start of the bombing passes. Charles, Luther , Lydia , and Laura were commanded to take the first pass at the four quadrants followed by the other pilots directed to follow immediately with bombing of the entire perimeter of the base. Lynn gave a five minute warning ; Amanda calmly commanded the bombing passes to start which resulted in the expected chaos among the personnel at the base. In less than ten minutes, General Bennett commanded all the pilots to land quickly and disembark immediately with the intent of eliminating personnel quickly and mercifully. Once again, Lieutenant General Smithson disabled the power system allowing for no lights and no internal communications. Night vision glasses in helmets aided The Resistance as they readily systematically killed the enemy. Several people stood in the command post at The Lodge listen ing as Lynn kept communication lines open as did Drew at the Bennett Base and Annique at the Shipman Base. There were calm reports to General Bennett from sector leaders with the only other sounds heard were sporadic gunfire. In less than one hour from the time of the first bombing pass, General Bennett declared the base had been captured and was secure. Barbara and Luther chanted blessings aloud as Noshi lovingly carried souls through the portal back to peace at Naofa. She then commanded incineration of all bodies which was carried out quickly with the aid of accelerants. One hour later, she then commanded that return to The Lodge. She quietly congratulated her crew on a mission well completed , thank ing them all. There was a very distinct "Roger that!" heard clearly over all the communication system.

All pilots were on the tarmac by 0215 hours, awaited by friends and lovers. General Bennett called for a very short debriefing session in the command post before the entire crew found sleep. The priests and priestesses shared hurt and healing among themselves, a blessing always from Naofa. As always, Laura walked alone to the tarmac before returning to Amanda's arms. She sent down thanks to Noshi for gathering souls with love a s well as for the healing shared among all the holy ones. She understood that the hurt of the deaths they had caused would never completely disappear ; a burden she was destined to carry until she returned to the heli x. She gave down gratitude for the healing that she now experienced. Amanda came to meet Laura on the tarmac ; hand in hand they priestesses returned to their suite for welcomed sleep.

At the weekly meeting of the all the principals, Amanda once again thanked her crew for a successful mission. The base they had captured was approximately two hours southeast of the Bennett Base , us able in the future as a depot and reconnaissance point for battles farther west and south. A great river served as the barrier between the great Southeastern and Southwestern Cities . There were populated areas at the extreme southernmost delta where harbors allowed transportation of goods to the northeast and northwest. Several small bases were situated along both shores of the river, supposedly to guard escape by earthlings incarcerated by The Decision and to insure safe transportation of goods by river boats. Laura outlined her plan to systematically disable the bases before star ting destruction of the river boats. She stated that as they progressed south they could encounter greater risks from attempts to fight back by the Military. She congratulated Drew, Lynn, Jeannie, and Sam, stating that because of scrambled and false communications, there would be a greater element of surprise with their raids and it was hoped a significant decrease in the potential loss of life among the Southern Resistance.

Amanda then announced that she was placing Spero Tristan in charge of rescuing men from labor camps. She asked Drew to fly to the Bennett Base to meet with Spero and also to meet by satellite with Stephan Redhawk who had coordinated many rescues in Siochain during the battles in the North . Ross offered his assistance as he had also been involved with former rescues; Amanda readily accepted his offer with thanks. Amanda stated that as information was gathered and contacts established, Spero would have help from Armed Forces personnel both at The Lodge and at the Bennett Base. Archie Granger also started to falsify records, increasing actual numbers of men captured so that escape could be carried out without suspicion. Amanda reiterated that although Spero was a brilliant pilot they needed the work he was asked to do as much as his ability to drop bombs and missiles. As men were rescued from the labor camps they would be taken to the Bennett Base to be trained as pilots to add in further rescues. General Bennett commanded that Lieutenant General Lorimer appoint and train instructors for that purpose.

Chapter 14

Sterling and Amelia Carland finally established satellite links with leaders of the Southern Resistance in the Great Southeastern City ; the contact with whom they had communicated was a young woman named Blaine Jefferson. Sterling remarked that she was not a ray of sunshine even on a good day but then also remarked that given where and how she was living not much different could be expected. Both Amelia and Sterling were quick to state that Blaine was smart, fearless, and understood the reality of the lives of all survivors in the inner cities. She reported to them that the numbers dropped daily as The Decision sanctioned murders, capture for labor camps, and death by injury and starvation. Amelia reported that Blaine had sent good information to date. She had been a new officer in the former police force before The Decision decided that women had no place ordering men to do anything. As such, she understood the need for detailed records , keeping them daily from the time she became a leader of a Southern Resistance cell in the inner city. Sterling stated it did not appear that there was a rigid organization of cells as yet and it was not likely that would occur but it did seem that Blaine was currently a leader among many cells with many fighters. Amelia expressed thoughts that the young woman was tough, smart, and very street wise. She laughed softly as she surmised the woman knew the inane laws, exactly how to break them, sometimes for need, and often just for insurrection. There was a soft voice in the background stating that all they needed was another Lou Shipman , followed by "Roger that!" Laura sat quietly as she listened with Lohrissa and Noshi to the exchange knowing that Blaine Jefferson would come to their lives soon and permanently.

Amanda then asked that Rachael Shipman and Stephan Redhawk be consulted as to the most efficient way to establish underground escape routes. Laura suggested that they clear bases in rural areas but closer to the more populated areas with those bases being used as safe stations while survivors were taken north to The Lodge, the Bennett Base, Sanctuary, and Siochain. She also suggested that once they had made contact with Blaine Jefferson she could be asked to either find people to help with escape or coordinate it herself. Both Amelia and Sterling confirmed that Blaine knew about The Lodge and the leadership established to fight back. Sterling suggested that Amanda contact Blaine directly and sent contact information immediately.

Late winter and early spring storms hindered rescue missions save for those deemed urgent. Both Joyce and Sally hoped that as bases were cleared the rescues would become easier , although neither woman held much hope for great numbers of women left to rescue in rural areas. Lieutenant General Charles Smithson remained in command of rescue missions with the understanding that senior pilots would replace him if and when rescues conflicted with raids on bases. His days were very busy now with teaching and flying. Eleanor often remarked that he was happier now than ever, save for the times when he was flying with the six pilots from the West in the former battles. It was also understood that although Lynn Chester was a well-qualified bomber pilot her talent as a communication specialist was needed, becoming paramount to success with rescue and raiding missions. Amanda directed that she would remain as communication specialist , fl ying missions if absolutely necessary. Frannie, Judith, and Cora flew as copilots and then pilots on rescue missions; they all understood that as raids and bombing missions escalated they would be included as pilots as well. Sam Tannenbaum continued to hone his skills with the communications system as well as being the voice of deception with the Military, both verbally and in written exchanges. There were only rare occasions when he needed to confer with the senior officers before replying to emails from the Military. Amanda quipped that soon he could have her job to which he replied that it would take more than a few holy ones to convince him to do that.

Mother threw down her last tantrum in the form of a spring blizzard that lasted for three days , result ing in just over one hundred and twenty centimeters of snow. Every able earthling worked for two days to clear snow banks and tarmacs before the beginning of winds and warming spring rains welcomed green again. Ella and her crew tapped a now huge stand of maple trees , boiling syrup to the delight of the General who never lost her sweet tooth. Celeste joked that they would need to install a safe in the kitchen in order to keep supplies for longer than a week or two.

Amanda attempted polite contact with Blaine Jefferson ; when she did not get a reply she curtly informed the woman once again that she was the commander-in- chief of the Armed Forces of Siochain who was not at all accustomed to being ignored. Blaine replied that she did not care if she was the goddess incarnate. She said she was in the middle of getting her ass kicked yet again by the bastards in the Military and she had just come up for air. She did agree to a meeting as soon as she could find time and safe way to a point where she could be transported to a vacation at The Lodge. Laura suppressed a smile as she read the exchange before volunteering to parachute to chosen coordinates with the holy ones mov ing both women back to an aircraft. Amanda started to protest which was met with a look that changed her mind. She immediately replied to Blaine to suggest a time and place to meet Lieutenant General Laura Ravencouer. Blaine replied "oh THAT Ravencouer woman" and sent the name of an abandoned section of the city that the Military deemed secure and therefore ignored. She also said she would arrange a bit of distraction for the idiots so that Laura could jump relatively safely. She said she was not sure how the hell they would get out beyond that ; Amanda simply replied it would be magic so to pay attention. Drew immediately determined coordinates for both the flight and the jump; Amanda alerted Blaine to meet Laura at a specific building at a specific time in the morrow.

Amanda , Lydia , Barbara, and Laura readied a Raptor full of bombs and missiles for takeoff the following evening. The aircraft was the helicopter expropriated by Luther on the raid of the second base which had not been disguised. It now had false identification numbers but still looked like a Military aircraft. It was hoped that the women would not draw attention to themselves as they flew into the populated area of the Great Southeastern City . Lieutenant General Charles Smithson took temporary command of The Lodge as the women became airborne flying southeast. Lynn and Drew remained in constant contact with Amanda and Lydia who was acting as copilot. Laura packed her parachute , ready to make the jump in the dark when given the command by Barbara. They all knew that Laura had jumped many times in the former battles with bombs falling around her. As such, she remained calm ly confident as she anticipated a relatively quiet safe landing. Amanda flew cloaked until the approach to the coordinates and descent to the jump site. She needed to climb to cruising altitude once Laura had jumped ; to await the request for transportation to the aircraft by the holy ones. Barbara gave a five minute warning ; with the blessings of Naofa Laura Ravencouer jumped behind enemy lines once again. She landed in darkness and was met within minutes by Blaine Jefferson. Laura simply smiled as both women immediately recognized the other. Laura simply told Blaine to close her eyes as she asked the holy ones for transport. With speed not measured in earth time, both Blaine Jefferson and Laura Ravencouer were sitting on benches aboard the Raptor while Amanda and Lydia flew northwest to The Lodge. Lydia quietly communicated to Lynn and Drew that Blaine and Laura were aboard and they anticipated arrival in approximately two hours. There was a hush, a very definite "Roger that!" and then cheers erupted from The Lodge, the Bennett Base, the Shipman Base, and the entire Ravencouer compound. Enemy lines had been breached ; fortunately they all knew how.

Blaine remained quiet for a few moments once she found herself in the aircraft. Once again, Laura shook her hand and then introduced her to Lieutenant General Barbara Maclippe who also shook Blaine 's hand. Laura explained that the copilot was Lieutenant General Lydia Stenns ; their pilot was General Amanda Bennett. Blaine smiled slightly , stating it was an honor to be flown about by the goddess incarnate. Amanda and Lydia both grinned but neither commented on Blaine 's remark. Barbara took a thermos bottle from her pack and offered Blaine a cup of coffee. The woman's eyes lit up as she asked if it was real coffee to which Barbara just nodded, smiled, and handed the woman a cup.

Blaine Jefferson was a handsome young woman, tall with flashing brown eyes and ebony skin. She carried herself on a frame still strong despite infrequent meals of any nutritional value. She was clothed in much worn attire ; her boots were full of holes with suspect soles. Barbara thought back to the day when Morgan had found her on the side of the road, remembering her initial mistrust and then renewed hope as the young woman fed and clothed her. She knew the mistrust Blaine felt at the moment ; she also knew that when they arrived at The Lodge love would simply take that from her. Blaine thanked Barbara for the coffee before being offered another along with one of Celeste's famous sandwiches and Mary McBane's chocolate chip cookies. At first Blaine was hesitant until Laura softly touched her hand , telling her she was with sisters now. There was still mistrust but also a faint glimmer of hope as Blaine took the food and then a bright smile as she bit into the sandwich. She asked if they ate like this every day or at least every other day. Barbara smiled , explaining that they ate well, regularly, food all grown at The Lodge. Laura told Blaine that she was welcome, safe, that they all would help her and her beloved earthlings find sanity again in their lives. Blaine asked if she was really that Ravencouer woman from the North. Laura smiled a s said she was. She also said that the women in the aircraft with her had all fought in the battles in the North along with many friends Blaine was about to meet. Lynn gave a thirty minute and then a ten minute warning. Amanda then safely landed the Raptor ; after running the post flight list with Lydia all five women disembarked to be greeted quietly by many friends on the tarmac. Blaine held back just slightly until Laura gently took her arm to introduce her to Amanda Bennett and Lydia Stenns. Amanda quipped that although they all knew she was a goddess Blaine could simply call her Amanda. The pre-dawn air was cool ; everyone moved quickly to the common room and a blazing fire. All at once, Blaine collapsed to be caught by Laura and eased to a sofa. Lemanychia and Iobairt cast spells of healing and strength although everyone understood that hunger and shock were the culprits responsible for Blaine 's faint. A senior medic examined her as she regained consciousness with some embarrassment followed by automatic defensiveness. Nothing in the woman's recent past had fostered a sense of trust of fellow earthlings ; despite attempts at kindness Blaine had no reason to trust these earthlings as well. The medic stated the woman was significantly undernourished and dehydrated. She wanted to take her to the infirmary for at least twelve hours of intravenous fluid and nutrition. Blaine immediately struggled to her feet, telling everyone she was not going anywhere and would run if they tried to force her. Amanda stepped forward , telling the woman that she was now on Amanda's turf so she would follow Amanda's rules if she could not make sensible decisions for herself. She told the young woman they were on her side, they had contacted her to help her and those she had fought to keep alive. She also reminded Blaine that she was transported by magic from the ground to the helicopter with speed not measurable by earth time. Laura quietly told the young woman that she was among holy ones from Naofa who were capable much more magic than she could imagine as of yet. Rennie stepped forward , telling the young woman that they loved her and would continue to do so despite her best efforts to deny it. When Blaine continued to attempt to back out of the room, Luther quietly gently levitated the young woman to a bed in the infirmary and then stood at the doorway to restrict a further attempt at escape. Morgan had watched the young woman from the time she stepped down to the tarmac and then the exchange in the common room. She had never seen the woman before in her young life ; yet there was a definite reckoning at her core. Blaine Jefferson had come to their lives, to her life, for a very definite reason, just not as a contact to help with rescue but to affect change herself.

Blaine understood there was no sense in attempting to fight back or escape but she remained surly and defensive during her time in the infirmary. Iobairt continued to cast spells of strength to the young woman ; by evening she was released from the infirmary. Amanda met her again , telling her she was free to join them to dine or she could leave if she chose. She was not being held prisoner, her sisters and brothers simply wanted to help her help those she cared about the most. Morgan was seated in the dining room with Lydia , Laura, and Barbara. Blaine looked at Morgan who offered a soft smile of welcome , silently t elling her sister that she was safe. There was some vague recognition in Blaine as she agreed to join Amanda and her friends for dinner. Amanda introduced her to Morgan who once again smiled , offer ing to go with Blaine to find some. Blaine started to protest, stating she could not pay for food and did not want charity. Morgan quietly told her to shut up, to take the food as she needed it ; it was a gift with no obligations. She told Blaine that when she arrived at The Lodge she found twenty starving women and children; together they survived and had started the fight to reclaim their lives. She told Blaine she had no choice now, if she breathed she fought ; her best option as far as Morgan could see was to take help when it was offered. Blaine grinned slightly , repl ying that "Irish" could take her to the food just this once.

When the woman returned to the table, Blaine seemed somewhat more relaxed. She quietly tried to explain her lack of trust , apologiz ing for her attitude. Lydia told her to never apologize for an attitude. She told her that the women she was dining with all had huge attitudes which was what had kept them alive so far. She then corrected herself , t elling her that it got Maclippe killed once but she was just miserable enough to return. Blaine raised eyebrows ; Laura then explained that Barbara had sacrificed her earth life years earlier so as not to be taken to Olc . The ancients returned her to help her brothers and sisters regain their freedom. Blaine had no reaction whatsoever to the mention of Naofa, holy ones, or ancients. She knew herself to be an ancient as did all those she had met at The Lodge.

After dinner, Sally, Jeannie, Luther, Mary, Charlie, Eleanor, Spero, and Lisa joined their friends and were introduced to Blaine . None pressured her for a herstory but listened as she talked of the atrocities being carried out daily in her inner city. Blaine smiled as the demure Jeannie Dawson cursed quietly as she heard of cruelty and destruction. Morgan smiled as did Sally, both stating that Jeannie was being polite. She really only pulled out the good words when she had returned from a rescue mission or a raid. Blaine was wide eyed as Morgan explained that save for Lisa, Eleanor, and Mary; they were all kick ass fighter pilots, suggesting that she not mess with any of them. There were yawns from those gathere d; everyone decided to retire for the night. Blaine was offered a room in the main building but Amanda suggested that perhaps a cot could be brought to the annex as she suspected Blaine did not want to be alone in a still frightened state. Luther and Mary moved a comfortable cot to Morgan's room. She was a tall woman, almost as tall as Laura who found a warm sleeping shirt, robe, and moccasins for their new friend. She also found warm clothing and boots for Blaine for the morrow. Blaine was still quiet. Morgan took her hand , walk ing with her to the room she would share with her new friend for the night. Luther and Mary placed soft linens and a duvet on the cot Blaine would use for the night. Both thought that in the morrow they would talk to Amanda about finding the young woman her own quarters as everyone understood she would return to The Lodge many times. When they arrived in their room, Morgan asked Blaine if she wished to shower , show ing her where she could find items she would need along with warmed towels. She also handed Morgan a night shirt, robe, and moccasins. Blaine was quiet with almost disbelief . With eyes that almost filled with tears as she said thank you and entered the shower. She emerged minutes later with a smile, stating that that was the first hot shower she had in about five years with clean clothes to wear afterwards. Morgan hugged her gently before taking her own shower. When she returned to their bedroom, Blaine was looking at the mountains and starlight from the balcony door. Morgan explained that this old building was once a vacation resort for the elite who could take time away from work. She explained that it had been abandoned years earlier as there was no longer money available to keep it running. It had been used as a survivor camp initially; currently it was the command centre for the Southern Resistance. Blaine was yawning ; both women were weary. Morgan apologized to Blaine for having to sleep on a cot , promis ing that by the next night she would have a real bed on the same floor as the other women. Blaine laughed out loud , staring that it had been years since she had slept on a mattress. The cot and clean linens were the ultimate in luxury compared to her usual sleeping arrangements. She then removed a loaded pistol from a leg holster, tucked it under her pillow, laid down . Within minutes she was sound asleep. Morgan left a small lamp burning as she did not want her new friend to be frightened if she woke during the night and did not immediately know where she was.

Blaine was awake and dressed when Morgan woke the following morning. Morgan looked at a handsome woman wearing blue jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt, and a pair of combat boots. From her neck fell a silver chain and labrys. Morgan smiled as she no longer doubted the direction from the ancients. Morgan rose to dress ; Blaine spoke with a smile and a "Morning Irish" to her new friend. Both women hurried to the main compound through cool morning air. Morgan had her own leather jacket but Blaine did not. Morgan reminded herself to ask Frannie to find their new friend warm outerwear. Blaine grabbed a cup of coffee with a huge grin ; as she joined her new friends, Morgan reminded her that she needed food in order to find strength immediately and for the future. She continued that she could not sustain casting spells of strength forever. Blaine stopped in her tracks , look ing at Morgan with disbelief. Morgan quietly told her friend that the priestess Iobairt walked in her body ; since they met she had been casting spells of strength into her new friend. Blaine continued to look at Morgan with disbelief but quietly thanked her and then went to find a hearty breakfast.

Many residents of The Lodge came forward to introduce themselves to Blaine with welcome to their home. Many also thanked her sincerely for the work she was doing to keep their sisters and brothers alive in the inner city. Blaine was struck with the degree of caring she now felt among her new friends. Morgan explained that except for those from the Armed Forces and from Siochain all of them had known hurt, fear, and starvation in their own lives. Over a second and third cup of coffee, Blaine told her new friends about the subsistence they all lived in the past months. She said that there were deaths every day ; food was almost always stolen if there was any to find. She said there were friends in the elite neighborhoods but they were quickly leaving for safety in the less populated ar eas heavily guarded by the Military. She also said that every day she and all the fighters fought back; often lives were lost. She said that if they did not find an escape route soon there would be no-one left to fight back. Laura told her there would always be ones to fight back. Amanda asked that they convene a meeting at 1400 hours in the command centre. She explained that Blaine would meet several more people including the Chief Administrator for Siochain who had pledged his support and the support of his country months earlier. Laura left , return ing with a leather jacket for Blaine , telling her to keep it. Luther and Mary told the young woman they had opened a room on the same floor as her new friends ; she would have that room permanently when she was at The Lodge. Frannie found clothing for the young woman ; Laura also took warm clothing with just a bit of satin and lace to contribute to Blaine 's wardrobe. Lohrissa knew this fetching creature ; she would journey with her sisters for eternity. Amanda did not know yet but trusted Laura's knowledge and hunches, just grinning when she saw Laura carrying satin and lace to her new friend's quarters.

Morgan returned to the annex , showing Blaine her new quarters. She walked about her room in silence, then sat on the side of the bed and wept for the first time. She apologized to Morgan several times, stating that she was usually not a wimp and had no idea as to the origin of the tears. She said she was a tough former cop who lived in hell every day and she was bawling because she had a nice room. Morgan hugged her new friend, reassuring her that it was perfectly understandable and acceptable to shed tears. She also said with a grin that she would not tell a soul as Blaine had a reputation to maintain. Just an iota of trust was born.

After lunch, Luther showed Blaine about the main building including the huge kitchen and laundry facilities. He introduced her to Celeste Crosby, telling her to continue to suck up to the woman as she was the chief cook , doing that extremely well. Blaine thoroughly agreed with Luther. He toured her through the extensive greenhouses and she was dumbfounded as she saw the abundance of food available. Luther explained that Judith Sawyer and Sheila Wilson were the head farmers; their wisdom and husbandry had led to all the meat and fowl consumed at The Lodge to be grown there. He explained that they were entirely self-sufficient and as they raided bases they took every available resource to be used in the future.

The principals met in the command centre at 1400 hours and all were introduced to Blaine Jefferson. Both Sterling and Amelia Carland were delighted to finally meet the young woman they had worked hard to contact. Amanda reiterated that the purpose of the meeting was to quickly definitively set in motion plans to start getting survivors out of the hell they lived in. Declan asked if Blaine had contacts in the Great Southwestern City . She said she did to a small extent , giving the name of Michael Persone as her main contact. She supplied his contact information and agreed that she could be mentioned as the source.

Amanda asked Blaine to describe living conditions in the inner city as she had done to her friends at The Lodge. When she was finished, Declan stated that they needed to make the underground escape route a top priority. Laura stated that she and Drew met earlier that day , establish ing coordinates for small bases at the periphery of all three sides of the Great Southeastern City . She stated that it would be relatively easy to raid those bases. She then started that personnel would be needed to live at the bases permanently in order to help with moving people to The Lodge, the Bennett Base, The Shipman Base, and Sanctuary. Drew stated that several families from outposts and Sanctuary had already volunteered, stating they would be ready to move as soon as the bases were secured. Morgan had tears in her eyes once more as she took in the depth of love of her sisters and brothers in the North. Blaine remained speechless as she started to comprehend the depth of commitment and caring of these people. Declan asked Blaine if she was able to find fighters to act as guides to the bases. She immediately replied that she could and would, further stating she would do that herself if necessary. Amanda quietly stated that her sisters and brothers needed her alive as did they ; she was not to take undue risks. Blaine stood, looked at the General, and quietly, firmly told the woman that taking each breath in hell was an undue risk . She would do what she needed to do to keep herself and those she cared for alive any way necessary. There was immediate silence as nobody spoke to Amanda that way or with that tone. Amanda was quiet for a moment ; in a very quiet voice told Blaine that she was in charge, she was the boss, and this was her turf. She said she could think as she chose but she would not speak to Amanda or any of the principals in that manner or tone again. She reminded the young woman they were all on the same side. She then reiterated that many of the principals including Declan and Andrew McDaniels had lived through the same hell in the Great Northeastern City , all knew of the hell she lived through each day. She also said they were about to fix that. Blaine sat down but did not apologize nor did she take her eyes away from Amanda. Laura thought that if the exchange happened again, Lohrissa might have to adjust a couple of attitudes. Fortunately, she knew how.

Laura stated that she would meet with the senior officers with a plan to raid three bases almost immediately. She offered to report to another meeting of the principals or have General Bennett send a report. Declan reiterated that this was a priority ; they could be notified as was convenient. Amanda then thanked everyone for attending and adjourned the meeting. She immediately left the command centre. Lydia and Laura both warned Morgan and Blaine to give the General a wide berth as she was still angry; Amanda Bennett was not at all a nice woman when she was vexed.

Amanda found Sally , asking about her supply of scotch. Sally always had a stash of scotch and invited the General back to her quarters for a shot or ten. Sally also knew enough not to ask until she was told. The woman was a bartender and knew how to liste n; it just came with the job. After a shot of scotch, Amanda asked Sally if she thought the General could be a pain in the ass. Sally said yes but everyone could from time to time. Amanda laughed , telling her friend that Blaine had challenged her at the meeting in front of her colleagues. Sally looked at Amanda with disbelief , asking her if she had lost her ability to see beyond a reaction. She told Amanda to stop and think for just a minute. She said Blaine Jefferson had at least as many ovaries as any of them and most likely more. She continued that wi th all due respect Amanda had no idea what growing up poor even looked like let alone felt like. She said the young woman in question was brilliant, tough, and scared nearly to death. She also said that she had a huge heart and spirit. She then handed Amanda Bennett another shot of scotch , telling her she just might have met her match. She said she had two choices as far as Sally could tell. Amanda could either waste a bunch of energy fighting with the woman or she could work with her. In Sally's opinion, it would appear that two strong, tough, brilliant women on the same side would not be harmful. Amanda was quiet as she downed the scotch, then laughed aloud, stood and hugged her old friend, and simply said "One more time." With that Amanda returned to her office in the command centre.

Morgan took Blaine outside to the garage holding the Harlies. She handed her a helmet , telling her to get on a bike. When Blaine started to protest, Morgan told her to shut up and get on the bike. The women rode in silence to the abandoned hamlet of Brockton . Morgan stopped the bike, dismounted, and told Blaine to look around. She said that their entire world would look like this soon if they did not fight back. She then told her Blaine she was a fool. Blaine stiffened with clenched fists. Morgan looked at her , telling her to take her best shot as she would only have one. She explained she was a martial arts master who would put the fool on the ground before her next breath. Blaine relaxed slightly. Morgan told her that General Amanda Bennett was strong, smart, tough as nails, loving, compassionate, and was risking her ass almost daily because she gave a damn. Morgan told Blaine that none of them were paid, none had been for the duration, and none expected pay. She continued that Amanda Bennett was very wealthy, having used that wealth to feed and clothe survivors in the North during those battles. She reminded Blaine that Amanda had absolutely nothing to prove to any of them , especially Blaine. She then told the young woman that she also had nothing to prove. This was not the 'hood, this was not the Military, this was not the inner city ; they were all here to get a job done. She had two choices as far as Morgan was concerned. She could either work with them or she could return to the city to fight alone. The choice was entirely up to her but Morgan told her none of them would tolerate any further disrespect or abuse of Amanda or anyone for that matter. She then told Blaine to get back on the bike ; both women returned to The Lodge.

Morgan parked the bike in the garage after which she walked ahead of Blaine to the kitchen to find a cup of coffee. Blaine hurried to catch up to her , asking where she could find Amanda Bennett as she needed to talk to her. Morgan said she was likely in the command centre on the second floor. Before Morgan left to work in one of the hangers, Blaine quietly stated to "Irish" that she was sorry and that she was entirely too cute when she was mad. That got a withering look with a very unladylike gesture.

Blaine found Amanda at her work station and quietly asked if she could interrupt her for a minute. Amanda agreed and turned to face Blaine . Blaine quietly apologized for her disrespec t, stating there was really no excuse. She told Amanda she was very grateful for the help she had been shown so far. She admitted she was still trying to adjust to having people who cared around her. She asked Amanda if she could have another chance at friendship. Amanda smiled stating that she too needed a bit of an attitude adjustment and got one from her friend Sally. Blaine grinned , stating that Morgan took her on a Harlie ride. When they stopped, she got her ass kicked and her attitude adjusted. Blaine then quipped that Irish was entirely too cute when she was mad. Amanda quietly told Blaine that she was entirely too cute most of the time. Blaine only raised eyebrows slightly as she began to understand some of the dynamics among the holy ones. Amanda smiled as she recognized Blaine 's insight. She then told Blaine she needed to finish the work before her but that she would see her again for dinner. Lydia overheard the conversation from her own work station , walking with Blaine as she left the command centre. She told the young woman that she was wise to have fixed the situation with the General as they all loved her and they all needed to work together. Blaine told Lydia she was glad she would get a second chance at friendship with the General. Lydia replied she was as well as Amanda Bennett was really a dear sweet woman; once again, Blaine found further insight into the dynamics of all the love among the holy ones.

Before dinner Blaine returned to her new quarters, just to look at her good fortune and her new clothing. Someone had brought a new pack for her as well. When she leaving to return for dinner, she glanced down the hall to find Laura Ravencouer being held in Amanda Bennett's arms, being kissed long, hard, and full on the mouth several times. Blaine only smiled as both women saw her. They all walked together to the dining room for dinner. Blaine was able to find food by herself , return ing to join her friends at their table. She remained her usual quiet self until Lydia started to recount tales of ruckus raising at their ranch in the past with Laura's ubiquitous routine of her shutting up every woman in the room. Morgan leaned forward and whispered in Blaine 's ear with a grin. Blaine looked at her for just a moment ; with mischief shining from dark eyes she soberly asked Amanda if it was true that the reason Lieutenant General Ravencouer remained drop dead gorgeous was due to good loving. Laura put down her utensils, rose from her chair, walked to Blaine , took her to her feet, kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth, before sweetly t elling her to shut up. Morgan rose to catch her new friend as she did experience the expected buckled knees. Lydia explained that happened routinely even with all the experience at the table. Blaine was quiet again ; with smile she said it had been a while since she had been shut up like that. Only Lydia saw a faint blush on Morgan's cheeks. She suddenly knew who Blaine was as Lemanychia looked at Lohrissa each with a knowing smile.

Blaine then asked how and when she could return to the inner city. Amanda said they could take her back two nights hence. She would be given a GPS device to add in further trips back to The Lodge. As well, Frannie and Cor a gathered clothing to return with Blaine along with non-perishable food. Blaine asked to use a computer ; they all took coffee to the command centre. Blaine contacted the Southern Resistance fighter who was leading in her absence to tell him she would return in two nights with food, clothing, and good news. The holy ones stated they could move survivors by magic until such time as the bombing raids escalated and then the survivors would need to escape by overland. Blaine asked how they would transport the food and clothing to which Laura replied the same way she would be transported, with the use of magic. Blaine was given a computer to take with her to aid in daily communication with The Lodge.

Blaine said she was going to return to her new quarters and stand under a hot shower for a long time. She said that when she could find soap she would shower in city fountains in the early morning hours during curfews but even with a clean body there was no hope for laundered clothing. She said that when clothing became too dirty and/or too worn it was removed and new clothing donned, usually taken from dead bodies. The other women remained silent. Blaine said she was just thinking out loud and in no way was looking for pity or sympathy. Laura told her should identify with the love of hot showers. She told her new friend of spending years living in a small room in a steel hut with never enough hot water when she was the commander of the Northern Resistance. She reiterated that she gave down thanks for every drop of hot water from the day she returned to their home , doing so to the present day.

Blaine then said goodnight to all her friends and returned to her quarters in the annex. She had just finished dressing in a soft sleep shirt, robe, and moccasins after a long shower when she heard a soft knock at her door. She grabbed her pistol and opened the door to a smiling Morgan who asked that she not shoot. Morgan produced a thermos bottle of coffee. Blaine asked her to join her on an old comfortable sofa as Morgan filled two cups. Morgan said she was glad that she had made peace with Amanda. She also told her new friend that she was about to explain the dynamics of the relationships between the holy ones. Luther McBane had the priest Lughe walking in his bod y; Charlie Smithson had the priest Curran walking in his body ; Spero Tristan had the priest Doakus walking in his body. She stated that all three men were kick ass pilots. She then went on to tell Blaine about the priestesses. She said that Lydia and Amanda had been lovers initially many years ago but chose military careers with abiding friendship over their lovership. Lydia Stenns then met Barbara Maclippe ; they had been lovers for over thirty years. Lydia had the priestess Lemanychia walking in her bod y; Barbara had the priestess Briallen walking in hers. Both priestesses were mated to each other for eternity. Amanda then met Laura Ravencouer. Amanda was the priestess Aine ; Laura was the most ancient high priestess Lohrissa. They too had been mated for eternity. Several years later, the minions of Olc attempted to capture Briallen and take her soul. She sacrificed her earth body to retur n to Naofa. When Barbara Maclippe died, Lydia Stenns nearly lost her own will to live. Laura told Amanda to take her former lover to her bed , comfort her , and love her.

Morgan then explained that she had been an earthling in a past life, an ancient but not yet with a holy one walking in her body. She had been Dr. Lindsay Reynolds who died in childbirth after the initial experiment to reverse the effect of the vaccine given by The Decision. When Laura Ravencouer left to lead the Northern Resistance, she had been led to believe that Amanda Bennett committed suicide. The ancients knew that if she thought Amanda was still living she would not have been able to stay true to her destiny. Lindsay Reynolds became Laura Ravencouer's lover before her death once victory had been achieved in the North. Laura nearly perished from a broken heart until the ancients directed Amanda to her. Because Laura understood the comfort of another woman's arms, she asked Amanda to become Lydia 's lover ; Laura also became Lydia 's lover.

Blaine remained silently intent on the story. Morgan continued, stating that Barbara Maclippe returned to earth just a few years ago. Morgan had found her walking on the road to Brockton . Over a few months, Morgan learned that the woman she believed to be Breagh Maclippe was in fact Barbara ; she then learned she was the priestess Briallen. Morgan smiled as she told Blaine that she then found the priestess Iobairt walking in her own body. She said that she and Barbara had been lovers at the time she returned to the Bennett Base to find her friends once again to bring help south. Barbara had quickly re-established her old lovership with Lydia before becoming Amanda's lover and Laura's lover as well. When all four women moved to The Lodge permanently, Morgan had become lovers as well with Lydia , Amanda, and Laura.

Blaine remained quiet but did not appear surprised. Morgan went on to explain that when one of them hurt they all were hurt. She said the degree of love was almost overwhelming ; they all protected each other. Blaine quietly told Morgan that she was an ancient , knowing she was sent to help her brothers and sisters. Morgan replied that she knew from the first time she laid eyes on her. Blaine asked if Iobairt had an eternal lover. Morgan stated she did not know as she had not been told. She did say that when priestesses loved priestesses the journey to the multiverse and the ancients took women to near shatter.

Blaine was yawning ; Morgan rose to return to her own room. Blaine hugged her new friend , telling her she was glad that Morgan had not only adjusted her attitude earlier but had explained the dynamics of the holy ones. She grinned she was also quite happy about learning how to be shut up. Morgan blessed goodnight to her new friend . Both women returned to their beds alone with a somewhat gnawing unfamiliar ache.

After breakfast the following day, Laura met with her crew to organize the raid on the first small base near the inner city. Drew and Annique send detailed photographs. Lynn ascertained that the base had twelve officers and one hundred personnel in total. The exact same tactic would be used as with the former raid on the base west of the large lakes. More personnel would be needed once the bombing passes were completed in order to quickly eliminate the enemy. Since the city sectors had been abandoned and deemed clear by the Military, there would a reduced risk for detection although greater than for any of the previous raids. Sam sent communications indicating that unmarked aircraft would be in the area as part of a Special Forces training mission ; complete agreement to compliance was received from Central Command. Archie Granger provided the names of one hundred dead soldiers to be moved to the new base and the former soldiers were to be moved west and south, again with complete agreement by Central Command.

Drew sent detailed inner city maps to Blaine 's computer with suggested routes to each of the three bases to be used as safe havens before survivors were moved north. Blaine was a former police office ; familiar with the city core but less familiar with suburbs and enclaves of former elite neighborhoods. She sent immediate thanks for the data , stating she would share them immediately upon her return. She had several fighters in mind to act as guides for taking survivors to safety. Drew also stated that Archie was working on false identification documents stating the survivors were workers for The Decision which would aid in free movement in the city. Sterling reported that they had made initial contact with Michael Persone in the West ; he was attempting to establish a clandestine computer link.

After lunch, Blaine asked if there was work that needed help. Amanda thanked her for the offer. She quietly stated that her work was about to start the following day ; she should just enjoy the respite before the next storm. Blaine laughe d, stating that she was not one bit familiar with the quiet. Amanda stopped her work before inviting her new friend to the dining room for another cup of coffee. Blaine asked Amanda if it was possible for her to learn to be a pilot as something in her told her she needed to learn. Amanda said it was very possibl e; she could be taught by some of the best on the planet. Blaine reassured Amanda that she would get her brothers and sisters out of the city before she started. She asked the General if she ever became frightened with the battles or raids. Amanda replied that she was scared almost to death with every mission but that the determination to secure peace for her beloved earthlings overtook the fear every time. She also said she would not let the bastards at Olc feed from her fear. Blaine confided that was exactly her same reaction when she was a police officer. She loved the work and was initially devastated when she was told that women were no longer allowed to work for the force. She then understood that the ancients had directed her to become a Southern Resistance leader but she remained scared almost to death every day. Amanda rested her hand on Blaine 's arm , advising her to stay scared as hell as it would keep her alive.

The two women returned to the command centre . Amanda handed Blaine the written material to study in preparation for the initiation of her pilot training. She might as well fill her Textfeld: .
time filling up a likely already overloaded brain. Blaine smile d her thanks ; then returned to the common room for coffee yet again , soon lost to study and concentration. Morgan had to touch her to get her attention before asking her to join them for dinner. She smiled when she realized what Blaine was reading , jok ing that those magic women had sucked in another rotor head. Blaine only replied that it could be worse.

Over dinner, the pilots decided that Lydia and Barbara would fly to return Blaine to the city the following night. Laura suggested that Morgan accompany the women as her magic might be needed to transport. Amanda started to reply that Lydia and Barbara were more than capable but with a look from Laura and Lydia she thought better of making the comment. Amanda asked Blaine about weapons and ammunition with an offer to send more with her. Blaine was sober with her reply of thanks. She said they never had enough to make even a defense on a good day let alone cause any real damage. Laura knew not to tell the woman how to run her cells in the city but did suggest that perhaps they could all help with the rescues at least. Drew had notified Amanda that false identification would be sent to The Lodge for Blaine to take when she made her next return. Morgan mentioned to her friends that she had found Blaine lost in study of preliminary lessons for flying helicopters. Nobody was surprised . Lydia quipped that if a woman walked then General Bennett had her in a chopper learning how to bomb the hell out of anything. Amanda told her Lydia that the tactic seemed to have worked well for Captain Stenns in the past. Blaine remarked that in the General's defense, she had asked first.

At 1800 hours the following night, Lydia , Barbara, Morgan, and Blaine were airborne flying southeast to coordinates confirmed by both Drew and Lynn. They flew the Military Raptor, albeit with false identification coding, so as to avoid any suspicion upon detection by other aircraft in the area. Lydia flew uncloaked until Lynn gave her a thirty minute warning ; as she started the decent she deployed cloaking. Blaine sat quietly with Morgan before she asked if she needed to do anything to ready herself for transport. Morgan said that she simply needed to relax and enjoy the ride. When Barbara confirmed the exact coordinates, magic moved their sister and the supplies to the ground with speed not measured in earth time. Blaine immediately sent a reply confirming her safety, her thanks, and a warning to Irish to behave until she returned. Nobody saw the lovely blush on Morgan's cheeks. Lydia climbed to cruising altitude ; Barbara confirmed Blaine 's safe transport to Lynn and Drew. There was the ever present soft "Roger that!" in reply. Everyone began to wonder if Ross ever slept.

The next weekly meeting occurred one day before the planned raid on the first base to be used as temporary haven for the underground. Lieutenant General Ravencouer reported that all was ready ; the raid would occur at 2100 hours the following night. The flight time was slightly less than two hours. She reported that there were one hundred personnel at the base ; more personnel and pilots would be deployed for th e mission. She concurred that they planned on using the Smithson tactic for the raid. Charlie replied with a slight smirk and a blush. She reported that she had assigned a permanent crew at The Lodge to be responsible for loading munitions aboard the aircraft to be used for all raids now and in the future. Declan reported that there were stockpiles of bombs and missiles at the depot. Roy Crosby was his ever cautious self as he insured safe overland transport and storage. Laura stated that she would schedule regular flights to the depot by the same crew responsible for munitions loading. Captain Tristan reported that he had met with Drew, Ross, and Stephan Redhawk with plans made to initiate rescue of men from labor camps. Amanda requested that further pilots from the Bennett Base be transferred to The Lodge to work on that rescue crew permanently. Declan McDaniels immediately consented; Lieutenant General Lorimer stated she had already put a crew on standby for the move to be transferred when commanded. Amanda stated to start the transfers immediately. She sent an immediately email to Luther to ready twelve more rooms for new personnel arriving immediately from the Bennett Base. Laura confirmed that Captain Tristan would be removed from the raiding crew to permanently coordinate rescues from labor camps.

When the meeting had adjourned, Sam approached Amanda at her work station ; asking if could speak to her for a moment. He said that in no way was he trying to tell her how to do her job. He did suggest, however, that perhaps they could send false communications to Central Command indicating that there were greater acts of insurrection at the southern and western coasts. He stated that by doing so they could justify sending more personnel from smaller bases and thereby deflect attention from both the raids for the haven depots and the smaller bases south and west. He said he had observed that only ego ran Central Command ; it appeared that nobody there really had any grip on reality or the status of thousands of souls soon to be on their way to Naofa. He reiterated that is was only a suggestio n; he would not be upset whatsoever if Amanda rejected the idea. She was quiet for a moment before she told him that she as absolutely certain they had hired the right criminal for the job. She asked him to email her with copies to all the principals, indicating he was instituting the plan with General Bennett's approval. She then stood, saluted her friend, and thanked him. Sam returned to the communications centre glowing with pride.

Blaine emailed her thanks for the food and the clothing from herself, all the leaders of cells, and those who needed it most. She said she had already appointed guides for transport to the havens. She reported that most of the earthlings she led still harbored disbelief and mistrust at the help they had been given and offered. She did state, however, that it would not hinder their cooperation with every effort to make the plans work. Laura replied that she would report to her about the status of the raid that night with plans to move a family to the Railway One as soon as possible. She copied Declan on the message who immediately replied that two men and women from

Sanctuary was on route to the Bennett Base ; ready to move as soon as Laura cleared the base for occupancy. Laura replied only to Blaine with a private email contact address for Irish just in case she might need to speak to her at any time.

Laura then met with her raiding crew in the afternoon stating that they would depart from The Lodge at 2000 hours. General Bennett would once again command the mission ; all the crew understood their roles completely. Lieutenant General Lorimer was commanded to take remote responsibility until the crews returned with the understanding she was on standby to fly to The Lodge if there was an unexpected outcome. After the meeting, Morgan returned to her quarters before an early dinner. She noticed that she had a personal email , wanting to read it in private as she suspected it was from Blaine . She was not ready yet to listen to teasing from Lydia or anyone for that matter. She chided herself that she was acting like a kid, thinking originally that she might have grown beyond that. There was only a brief message waiting for Morgan, one that said "Kick ass Irish!! Stay scared and stay alive." Morgan smiled with a few tears just behind flashing green eyes.

The raiding crew was on the tarmac , readying aircraft at 1930 hours. As usual, several residents stood with them, sending down blessings with requests for their safety to the ancients. Morgan found Lieutenant General Ravencouer , telling her that if she was needed in the future she could fly solo such that Sally Palmer could also fly solo in another helicopter. Laura thanked Morgan, stating that it was very likely this would be her last flight with a copilot. Just before takeoff, Lohrissa emerged to bless the crew and all her beloved earthlings as did Noshi. With that the helicopters were airborne flying southeast.

As with the last raid, General Bennett commanded that four quadrants be bombed initially followed immediately with the entire perimeter of the base taking bombs and missiles in two passes. At 2100 hours, she commanded the crew to land and immediately start eliminating personnel. Lieutenant General Smithson cut power supplies rending lighting and communications immediately inoperable. As before, radio communication was open leading to the quiet commands by an experienced compassionate leader above the sounds of sporadic gunfire. As before, Barbara and Luther offered constant silent chants as Noshi loving ly gathered souls for Naofa. By 2230 hours, all sector leaders reported all clear. The crew immediately started incineration of earthling remains. General Amanda Bennett then reported the base was secure ; the mission was successful. As had been arranged, Lieutenant Sean Taylor prepared to fly the new inhabitants of Railway One to The Lodge. Amanda directed Lynn to notify Blaine that the base was secure . They could start plans to move the first group to the coordinates for transport to Railway One and freedom. Amanda then quietly congratulated her crew with thanks for another successful mission to which there was applause at The Lodge, the Bennett Base, the Shipman Base, the Ravencouer Base, and a very distinct "Roger that!" The pilots returned to The Lodge, a short debriefing meeting, nourishment, and a much needed rest.

Jeannie gathered Sally in arms of love as she wept. She said she was just starting to comprehend the magnitude of their actions with the loss of life she personally had carried out. Jeannie told her to remember the women and children they continued to rescue, to remember Julia and Allan Dawson-Bond, to remember Sanctuary, to hold always to hope. She said the hurt did not get easier to bear but the reasons for their actions did and would. The priests and priestesses healed their each other's hurt as sleep found them. Before Morgan went to sleep, she read another email from Blaine , simply stating "Well done Irish. Thanks."

Lieutenant Colonel Taylor arrived at The Lodge , met by all his friends and senior officers. Sean worked as coordinator for all new settlements which kept him busy about one hundred and fifty percent of the time. Amanda introduced him to Morgan Downhey, telling him with a grin that she was another of those dreaded magic women very capable of holding her own with the present crowd. Sean introduced William and Michelle Eaglesmith as well as Ben and Sara Thomas, both from Sanctuary. Laura immediately recognized all four as earthlings who had lived at Sanctuary. She hugged them, expressing her most sincere thanks for the huge interruption in the lives and their commitment to their brothers and sisters in the South. Sara smiled , telling Laura that none of them had any intention whatsoever of missing the fun. Luther and Mary showed them to their temporary quarters. Laura told them that they would be taken to Railway One the following day after their circadian rhythms had adjusted to the time changes. Sean agreed to nourishment before he returned to the Bennett Base. Over lunch with all his friends, he pulled out photographs taken expertly by Archie Granger, of Dorothea Lindsay Taylor, Mitchell Ross Taylor, Andrew Declan Taylor, and Laura Olivia Taylor, all beautiful healthy children ; obviously the greatest source of love and pride for Sean. Laura smiled through tears as she explained to Sean that Morgan walked with the priestess Iobairt in her. As soon as Sean heard that name, he looked at Morgan with wonder and then wept as he sobbed the name of Lindsay repeatedly. Iobairt emerged with a jade aura , quietly bless ing Sean and his family. There were no dry eyes in the dining room. Jeannie took Sally's hand as she told her that was why they did what they did.

Sean returned to the Bennett Base with the promise of returning with new families for Railway Two and Railway Three when they were ready. After his departure, Laura returned to the command centre to study photographs and data regarding the base on the southern periphery of the most populated area. It was a smaller base than Railway One but in unfamiliar territory. Drew and Annique reported personnel of sixty including eight officers. Drew postulated that it had originally been constructed as a supply depot. When thousands of earthlings were eliminated, there was no need for further stockpiles of supplies ; the base was used for only very minimal security. Drew also stated he suspected that the base had been almost entirely ignored for several months by Central Command. Laura replied that it would make the raid easier. Sam had already alerted Central Command that many of the personnel were being moved to more populated areas near the southern shore to quell uprisings there; Central Command replied with complete concurrence with the plans. Laura planned to keep the same contingent of crew members as she had a growing sense of foreboding about this raid, knowing somewhere in her core that Olc would attempt interference.

Laura met with her crew, alerting them to the date of the upcoming raid five days hence. She also warned about interference by minion s; she suspected an attempt to stop their escalated missions. General Bennett commanded that Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer travel to The Lodge to assume command in the event of a bad outcome. Lohrissa drew down to Noshi for several hours ; when she returned she told the holy ones that they would survive to claim victory once again. She contacted Spero , asking him to remain ready for an attack by Olc.

Amanda arranged for vehicles to be flown to Railway One as part of aid for transportation of survivors coming from the inner cities. The haven was now ready ; Blaine reported that survivors were traveling west, only fifty earthlings but they were determined to reach have n . Amanda then appointed senior pilots to coordinate flights of survivors from Railway One to The Lodge, The Bennett Base, and the Shipman Base. Lieutenant Colonel Taylor escalated plans to expand existing new settlements, working closely with Ross and Louiza Shipman, Tess and Stephan Redhawk. It was always the ultimate goal to have survivors return to a free world in the South but only after evil had been suppressed once again.

Morgan did not communicate often with Blaine as both women were occupied with their work and their missions. Laura alerted Blaine that the raid on the second base was scheduled for five days hence. She did not go into details but did warn her new friend that they anticipate more and significant opposition with this raid. Blaine replied immediately that they would all draw down to the ancients for blessings of safety. Laura reassured the young woman that they would return victorious. Blaine then emailed Morgan to tell Irish to stay scared and to stay alive until she returned. With every word Blaine sent, the ache deep in Morgan's heart grew. She had not spoken of her feelings to any of the friends but both Lydia and Laura saw their friend falling hopelessly permanently in love.

Serena Lorimer arrived early in the morning of the planned raid later that evening. She immediately found sleep in her quarters as she intended to stay awake until the crew returned safely to The Lodge. There was calm resolve among the crew members as Laura had absolutely demanded that there would be no fear or power given to the minions ; they would be defeated. The flight time was four hours ; the crew planned departure at 1600 hours. Lieutenant General Ravencouer would command this mission. Morgan Downhey and Sally Palmer would both fly solo. Laura told the crew to focus only on the mission , provid ing distraction only if necessary. She stated that the minions would take every advantage of any lapse in concentration ; that would not happen on her command.

The crew departed after blessings by both Lohrissa and Noshi. There was almost deafening silence during dinner and afterwards. Every resident of The Lodge quietly constantly sent down blessings to the ancients, asking for safety for the holy ones, their brothers and sisters. Lynn gave a thirty minute warning ; Lieutenant General Ravencouer ordered cloaking and descent. She reiterated that they would use the Smithson tactic for bombing passes. Four quadrants were bombed with the first pass immediately followed by bombing to the periphery with the second pass. Suddenly, the sky opened above them ; minions rained fire and lightening on the pilots. In time not measured on earth, the holy ones emerged as Lohrissa demanded that they cease the attack on the earthlings. Teregram screamed at Lohrissa , ordering Drof, Feid, Pohsib, and Noxin to increase attacks. Once again, Lohrissa demanded the minions cease the attack immediately . In time not measured on earth she commanded the holy ones to defeat the minions. Curran and Lughe deflected attacks, Iobairt and Doakus summoned strength in themselves , push ing minions skyward, Lohrissa, Lemanychia, Aine, and Briallen attacked with fire and ice. Laura's voice could be heard commanding calm deflection before a third bombing pass. Teregram screamed as the pilots bombed the periphery once again. The holy ones continued to attack ; one by one Drof, Feid, Pohsib, and Noxin were sent back to the hell of Olc. Only Teregram remained ; she engaged in continually escalated attack directed at Lohrissa. Silently, Lohrissa and Noshi directed the holy ones to return to their earth bodies to continue the attack on the base. With a deadly calm voice, General Bennett ordered landing with elimination of the enemy on the ground. High above the battle on the ground, the skies were ever brighter as Lohrissa battled Teregram, calmly demanding her to leave the earthlings which was met with screaming and increased attack by the minion. Suddenly, there was an explosion with a fireball as Teregram's spirit was reduced to fragments to be sent to every galaxy in the multiverse. The sister goddess, the one who bore her, had been defeated permanently by the most ancient high priestess Lohrissa. Darkness ensued as Laura resumed her earth presence and voice. She thanked General Bennett for assuming temporary command before direct ing completion of the mission with incineration of the earthly remains. Luther and Barbara chanted aloud as Noshi gathered souls. Lieutenant General Ravencouer then declared the base was secure. She thanked her holy ones, her beloved earthlings, before command ing a return to The Lodge. Lohrissa quietly asked as to the wellbeing of her holy ones who all replied with love that they were indeed fine. As the pilots returned to The Lodge, there was a soft voice heard above the cheering stating "well done Commander Ravencouer, well done!"

As they holy ones disembarked from their aircraft every earthling at The Lodge including Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer was on bended knee in reverence and thanks. Laura held a very short debriefing session before walk ing to the lake alone. She fell to the ground weeping as she was held by the grandfather Noshi. Their safety had been insured ; he told her that there would be peace now for some time as Teregram had been eliminated. Laura saw who Teregram had been, the goddess who had given birth to her before the split of the universe, her own ancient mother. Noshi blessed his most ancient priestess with eternal love and thanks. After several minutes, Laura ran to Amanda's waiting arms. Luther joined his priestesses , carr ying Laura to Amanda's suite in the annex. All the holy ones wept, and then directed love with healing to themselves, each other, and their beloved most high priestess Lohrissa. Lemanychia cast a spell of healing peace on all; each holy one and earthling found sleep.

Chapter 15

Sam and Drew readied themselves to do damage control if mention was made of the fireball seen in the sky above the base the previous night. When no mention was made, Sam shook his head with several very unkind words describing the bastards whose egos only mattered. Drew reminded him that was a good thing. Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer returned to the Bennett Base. Lieutenant Colonel Sean Taylor flew Constance and Wendy to The Lodge to be moved to Railway Two as soon as they adjusted to the time change. Amanda arranged for transport of vehicles. Blaine Jefferson was advised that the second haven was secure and open for business. Forty-six of the initial fifty survivors from the inner city arrived at Railway One to welcome and care. Their transportation to The Lodge, then to the Shipman Base and Sanctuary was arranged to be carried out by the crew assigned to that task. Those who arrived at The Lodge were almost dead; it took great lov ing care by everyone including the medics to bring them to a state of even wanting to continue. Iobairt and Lydia continually cast spells of strength and healing for the first few hours until the wills of the ancients found their way to their souls. Morgan went to the garage to sob her anger and sadness. She wondered if she would ever become immune to the shock seeing the results of the depravity sent down by The Decision. Barbara found her , gather ing her in loving arms, holding her while she wept.

Laura contacted Blaine , inviting her to return to The Lodge for a few days of respite and a small celebration of the birth anniversary of Irish. She said the young priestess was almost overwhelmed with the battles she had seen . Laura thought that perhaps a bit of frivolity might assuage some of the hurt. Blaine replied immediately , stating she would be waiting to get dragged to the helicopter once again. Laura then went to Amanda's work station to t ell her that Blaine was returning for a visit. She then stated that she would talk to Sally about a small ruckus raising to celebrate Morgan's upcoming birthday. Lydia overheard the work ruckus ; with her usual Stenns attitude said she was ready to party now. Amanda started to protest before decid ing that Laura would do it anyway so there was really no point in arguing. She did question, however, the need to bring Blaine back to The Lodge as her work was so intense and necessary now that Railway One and Railway Two were operational. Laura said it was absolutely necessary as it was Morgan's birth anniversary. Amanda started a shrug ; a sudden understanding crept across the General's face. Lydia just shook her head in disbelief. Laura snickered and then kissed the General, telling her that she might just be working too har d . Lydia told Amanda that Morgan was quickly becoming absolutely smitten with the woman ; she suspected the feeling was mutual. Laura said she had accidentally forwarded Morgan's personal email address to Blaine immediately after her departure . She knew that there had been a few conversations by satellite. Amanda raised her eyebrows; Laura told she did not know the nature of the exchanges and would never ask. Lydia and Laura then explained that Blaine was the priestess Alesta , Iobairt's eternal mate. Amanda sat quietly for a few minutes before smil ing with tears running down her cheeks. Laura said she was quite certain that neither women knew of Alesta yet but she suspected they would soon. Amanda asked if Barbara was aware ; Lydia replied she was not but with a giggle told Amanda that they might finally need to rent a hall.

The anniversary of Morgan's birth was in ten days. Laura planned the final raid on a small base at the northern periphery of the most populated area of the inner city. They had already cleared the base immediately north of it ; there were only a few personnel left as those sectors of the city had been abandoned , deemed secure by the Military. Laura planned to use the same crew and tactics but had no sense of foreboding about the upcoming raid. Drew and Lynn reported only forty personnel left including five officers. The base was small ; the flight time was only two hours east. She met with her crew , confirm ing plans for a raid in three days hence. She then met with Sally , ask ing her to arrange a small ruckus to celebrate Morgan's birth anniversary. She mentioned that although Morgan did not know and would not until she arrived, Blaine had agreed to join them. Sally smiled , telling Laura she should take a sideline as matchmaker. Laura replied that in another life she would really like the job. Sally said she was good at it ; Laura pointed Jeannie into Sally's arms several years previously. Laura giggled a s she told Sally that Amanda had failed to notice the certain attraction between Irish and Blaine. Sally had a look of initial disbelie f, repeat ing that the woman was working too hard. Sally replied to consider the ruckus a done deal. She would alert people that it was break only and not alert anyone to Morgan's birth anniversary, save for Celeste and Luther.

The raid on the third base took place uneventfully. Serena and Annette planned to transport Frank and Tom to become helpers at Railway Three at the same time as they arrived to participate in wee bit of ruckus raising. Both men had been Northern Resistance fighters after their rescue from the labor camps , madly in love since.

Declan congratulated General Bennett and all the principals on the success at establishing save havens for escape of survivors from the Great Southeastern City . Laura stated that she had plans for future raids on bases south and west ; they would be initiated after a break for a bit of frivolity. Declan laughed his agreement , stating he only wished he could participate. Lydia Stenns commented that perhaps he really did not which brought gales of laughter from all the principals.

Lydia and Barbara flew to retrieve Blaine two days before Morgan's birth anniversary. Laura told Morgan that the women were testing a new communications device for Raptor aircraft ; Morgan had no reason to believe otherwise. Morgan was in the common room conversing with friends when the pilots returned to the tarmac. She always looked forward to seeing all her friends safely in one spot , silently g iving down thanks to her ancients. She did not think it odd that her friends were later than usual returning to the common room, simply surmising they were following test results. In reality, they were accompanying Blaine to the annex. Barbara quietly suggested that their new friend find some satin , lace , and skin tight jeans to wear after her shower as they were going to go help induce some tears in Irish. Blaine grinned a s she told both women they were both incorrigible. Both women simply replied "Indeed."

Barbara and Lydia returned to the common room reporting to General Bennett and Lieutenant General Ravencouer that the test had been successful ; plans were in place. Again, Morgan did not find anything unusual in the conversation. Laura excused herself , return ing to the annex to deliver some champagne and flutes to Blaine 's room and only grinned as the young woman looked at her with some surprise. She then stated that all the women she had met at The Lodge were incorrigible. Laura simply replied "Indeed." Laura returned , whisper ing in Morgan's ear which brought a wicked grin from her young lover. Morgan then went to her own room for a shower along with some satin and lace of no structural integrity. Just as she was finished dressing, a note found its way under door which read "Irish, now you can misbehave." Morgan caught her breath and almost ran down the hallway to find a fetchingly beautiful woman waiting in the doorway to her quarters. Blaine told her not to hurry. Morgan shut the door and kissed the woman long, hard, and full on the mouth. With the urgency only known to young women full of wantin g need, the jeans, satin, and lace found their way to the floor quickly after which Morgan found herself being held in the arms of a woman she had known for eternity but could not yet explain how or why. Crashing passion took both women to the ancients and the multiverse long before champagne had been uncorked. Morgan kissed tears from Blaine 's beautiful dark eyes and ebony cheeks. Blaine had no words but did not need them. Both women understood that love had been found to remain forever. Blaine invited Morgan to the shower once again ; while both women found kisses and touches, Lydia and Barbara changed linens, Amanda and Laura delivered a somewhat late dinner for Blaine with Amanda stating that women could not be expected to stay awake all night on an empty stomach. Laura kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth eliciting an Amanda moan. Lydia told them to get a room soon as the new lovers did not need company at the moment. All four priestesses left to find their own passion just as Morgan and Blaine emerged from the shower. Morgan laughed aloud ; Blaine simply reiterated that they were all incorrigible. Morgan simply replied "Indeed." Morgan poured champagne ; Blaine devoured her dinner. Then, she devoured Morgan. When Morgan found her voice, she remarked that the woman had done that before. Blaine told her indeed but not recently. The soft light of a summer dawn finally allowed the lovers to find sleep in each other's arms. Both women woke to find dishes removed and clothing picked up. Morgan told Blaine that the next time that occurred Lydia would need to be told to shut up using the Ravencouer tactic. Both women showered , finding passion yet again. Morgan very clearly stated that she might never get enough of her lover; Blaine replied that she hoped not.

They both found breakfast and coffee ; enjoying each other's company in silence when they were joined by the other priestesses. Barbara told Morgan she never looked as beautiful as she did at the moment. Blaine knew of the entire dynamics of this group of women , simply repl ying "Indeed." They immediately all loved the woman. Amanda innocently asked if they had plans for the day. Laura and Lydia simultaneously told the General she was working too hard. Blaine honestly replied, saying that she was going to find about this ruckus raising stuff before spend ing the rest of the day ravishing Irish's drop dead gorgeous body. She looked at Lydia , telling the woman she did not own incorrigible. Lydia kissed the woman long, hard, and full on the mouth, telling her not to be too sure about that. Barbara simply shook her head. Sally and Jeannie found their friends while they were finding a cup of coffee to take back to the command centre. Jeannie invited all of them to a pre-ruckus ruckus in their quarters that evening. Lydia quipped Irish and Blaine would attend if they could get out of bed long enough. Without missing a beat, Jeannie replied that the same applied to the rest of them. Barbara stated she had aircraft engines to maintain, Lydia said she had a pile of work loaded on her by The General. Laura and Amanda excused themselves stating that they had ass kicking to organize. Morgan went to the kitchen to find a thermos bottle to fill with coffee to take back to Blaine 's room. She whispered that they should hurry if she did not want to be seen naked in the yard. Once passion had been temporarily satiated, Blaine asked about ruckus raising. Morgan said it was basically a gentle version of hell raising with most of the women and some of the men acting entirely outrageous ly. Blaine said it sounded like a normal night in her neighborhood when she was growing up. She told Morgan that her mother ran a brothel ; she grew up seeing men and women misbehaving all the time. She also said that because of her mother she had been able to finish secondary school before passing the examination for the police force with a perfect grade. Morgan was not ready yet to tell her lover that she was a murderer. Morgan said that since Blaine was tall as Laura she was sure she could borrow something entirely inappropriate to wear the following evening. She then led her ebony beauty to the shower , letting the warm water start a caress that she would finish. She took her lover back to clean sheets and gently loved the daylights into her. She realized that she did not know Blaine 's age in earth years, not that it mattered as she had loved women older than her birth mother. Blaine stated that she took vaccination early in her life at the age of eighteen years but her earth years were thirty-five. Morgan kissed her lover, telling her she was drop dead gorgeous ; age was just numbers. Morgan then whispered to Blaine to hold fast and hold tight as she was about to be loved by the priestess Iobairt. All and at once, Blaine knew Alesta, a priestess she had known since the beginning spiral of the helix. She whispered in return that Morgan should herself hold fast and hold tight as she would be loved by the priestess Alesta. Noshi blessed both his beloved ancient priestesses as they journeyed to pinnacles with cries as each found white heat and naught. The holy ones stopped as they too heard the joy from the souls of the holy women. Amanda walked to Laura to take her in her arms in the command centre. Barbara walked into the command centre and found Lydia 's arms. Jeannie and Sally were not certain as to what had happened but knew it to be significant in their destinies.

Morgan and Blaine slowly ascended from the ancients, both still without words. Blaine rose finally to find cold water for throats raw from cries. She gathered Morgan in arms full of love and wonder. It was not necessary for either woman to speak of the love for the other. Morgan finally spoke , telling Blaine she had wanted her since the first time she had laid eyes on her. Blaine replied she felt exactly the same way. She said that initially she was the only one she knew she could trust at The Lodge. Morgan had fallen in love before, initially with Barbara and then to a certain extent with all the priestesses. Blaine asked her if those feeling had changed ; Morgan replied honestly that they had not. The love she felt for those women was wonderful but not on the same plane as the love she now understood with her eternal mate. She continued that the priestesses tried to explain that depth of connection but she had not comprehended until Blaine . She told Blaine of the conversation with Amanda, that of not being a case or better than but simply more. Before Blaine could ask, Morgan said that she was uncertain now if she would continue loverships with the others as she knew her eternal . She also wondered about the other priestesses. She asked Blaine if she had thoughts or issues. Blaine kissed her , telling her that she would not be holding the love of her life every night as she needed to return to the inner city for a while at least until as many survivors as possible were helped to freedom. She said that she knew of the hurt and horrors of the raids ; when one killed another earthling comfort helped to assuage the agony. She told Morgan to take love where and when it was offered. Morgan was silent . Through tears , she asked Blaine what she would do in the inner city when she saw death all around her. Blaine kissed her lover , replying she would hold the love she knew now within her heart ; remembering until she could hold Irish again. It was well past the midday when Frannie knocked on Blaine 's door, entered with lunch, to tell both women with a smile that the Southern Resistance did not fight on love alone ; they needed to eat. Morgan hugged her with her thanks and lovelights shining.

Over lunch in Blaine 's quarters, the woman talked about their herstories. Blaine asked of Morgan's childhoo d. After a moment , Morgan summoned courage to tell her lover about her abuse, her rape, and the story of murdering her father. She wept , stating that she was learning to heal but she would understand if the former police officer wanted nothing further to do with her. Blaine took her lover in her arms , ask ing her if she did not realize that she had killed dozens of earthlings in her own defense and the aid of others. She told Morgan that her father was driven by Olc ; she must give no further power to them by shame or regret. Both women decided to return the lunch dishes to the kitchen before go ing outside in the lovely summer day. Morgan slipped into the kitchen with the dishes , hugg ing thanks into both Frannie and Celeste. She then took Blaine 's hand to walk with her to the yard and then the garage. Barbara was just returning with tools after routine maintenance on aircraft engines. She smiled at her friends, both still with auras of jade and bronze. Blaine hugged Barbara , reassur ing her that she loved Morgan Downhey more than life itself ; she was her eternal mate. Barbara replied that she knew with only joy for both of them. She told Blaine that they all loved Morgan; they gave down blessings and thanks for her every day. She continued that The Lodge would not exist if the young woman had not had a will of steel with a fairly good brain in her head. She grinned , advising Blaine to stand out of the way, however, if the lovely priestess became vexed as she was formidable. Blaine soberly thanked the priestess. Blaine and Morgan then walked to the lake ; they stood with arms wrapped around the other's waist as Blaine took in the silence, the peace, and the solace. Morgan asked if Blaine knew of Alesta's powers. Blaine stated she was a defender, the same as Lughe and Curran. She already knew that Iobairt was an ancient warrior. She smiled that they fit well together. Morgan kissed her , replying "Indeed."

Both women returned to the dining room to join their friends, each still with auras shining. Most of the residents were used to auras but most were still taken aback the power of the holy ones. Laura simply smiled and hugged her friends, telling them that love looked entirely too fine on both of them. Morgan smiled as did Blaine . Luther, Charlie, and Spero came by , softly g iving down blessings with greeting s to Alesta. Over coffee, Morgan asked Laura if she had anything close to inappropriate for Blaine to wear at the ruckus the following night. Laura gave her young friend an initial withering look followed by a bright smile, asking Blaine to come to her quarters after dinner before they joined Sally and Jeannie. She knew exactly what would shine best on Blaine 's beautiful dark skin. She asked Blaine if she was at all shy. Blaine laughed as told her friends that her mother ran a brothel ; she grew up thinking inappropriate was normal. She then repeated that because of her mother's hard work she had been able to finish secondary school before pass ing examination for the police force with a perfect score. Lydia quipped but with a smile of love that it was just what they needed, another beautiful smart priestess with an attitude. Morgan added with a wicked grin that she also had a body that would not quit. Lydia sighed as she told the young Irish that she had it bad, bad indeed.

Blaine knocked on Laura's door and was invited in to see the Lieutenant General's suggestion for attire, that of the white corset, very short bronze skirt, and clear six inch heels. Blaine laughed aloud as she looked at herself in the mirror, stating that she would make her mother proud. Laura also suggested a gold ankle bracelet and large gold ear hoops along with come hither make up. Blaine said she could do come hither make up well by the time she was eight earth years old, having watched all the women at the brothel from the time she could sit up. Laura invited her to dress at her suite the following night so that they both could drive their lovers out of their minds. Blaine said she felt bad as she had no gift for Morgan. Laura hugged her friend , telling her she had given herself which was probably more than enough.

Blaine knocked on Morgan's door after which both women then walked to Jeannie's and Sally's suite. The pre-ruckus ruckus was well underway. Morgan introduced Blaine to Serena Lorimer, Annette Lemaine, Brenda Sloan, Cally Hilliard, Eleanor Smithson, and Lisa Redhawk. Blaine was astounded at the resemblance between Laura and Lisa, asking if they were sisters. Laura smiled , replying they were distant cousins. She also explained that Lohrissa first emerged when Spero had been born over twenty years ago. Spero explained about Just Barbara and Just Lydia to which Lydia replied that they were still too pretty and too young to be grandmothers. Sally offered Blaine libations ; Blaine politely accepted a glass of wine. Blaine knew Frannie, Lynn, Rennie and Judith but finally understood the dynamics of those friendships. Rennie teased the young woman , ask ing if she got the attitude loved out of her yet. Blaine replied that there was no woman alive or on Naofa capable of that. She quietly remarked to Morgan that women loving women were well represented at the Lodge. Amanda overheard ; she soberly told her new friend that it was because of good leadership. Lydia quipped the leadership was from an older woman, knowing that was an invitation. Amanda sighed, put down her glass of scotch, rose, walked to Lydia , took the woman to her feet, and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth while purposefully touching all the allowable magic places on Lydia 's body. Barbara rose to catch buckled knees. Laura asked how many more times Amanda was going to fall for that. Amanda grinned wickedly , repl ying always. Blaine whispered to her lover that she had been taught well to which Morgan replied "indeed." As Morgan and Blaine were thanking Jeannie and Sally before saying goodnight , Lydia asked Morgan if she planned to make an appearance at work in the morning. Blaine replied “No", kissed her lover long, hard, and full on the mouth ; both women left the room.

Morgan took Blaine to her shower and bed that night. She tried to find out what Laura had chosen for Blaine 's attire for the ruckus to no avail. Blaine told her lover that she suspected she would quite like it. The crashing urgency the lovers had experienced earlier changed to the patient descent to the ancients and ascent to the multiverse . Blaine sobbed her love for the young woman she held, stating that she did not know loving until now. Morgan kissed tears from eyes full of want on joy from beautiful ebony cheeks. She told Blaine that they would be together for eternity. Noshi and Lohrissa appeared to their priestesses with their promise of forever.

Amanda held Laura long into the night, each not wanting to leave the other after crashing passion many times. Amanda spoke of Morgan's absolute beauty in the presence of her eternal lover. Laura kissed her eternal lover , quietly suggest ing that perhaps the time had come to journey only with the eternals once again. She said that she believed that Blaine came to them, as aid for their beloved earthlings but also to take them slowly back to the helix. She told Amanda that they would always all love each other, all the holy ones and the priestesses. She also told her priestess that with victory would be great sacrifice and change. Amanda already knew , accept ing the destinies chosen by the ancients. She could take what was given to her if she continued to walk for eternity with her priestess Lohrissa. Laura took her lover once again on their own journeys to the ancients and the multiverse.

Elterra's dawn broke to a tantrum by Mother with thunder, lightning, and drenching rain. Blaine kissed morning, love, and blessings on her birth anniversary into Morgan. Blaine ran in the soaking rain to retrieve cups of coffee for herself and her lover. When she returned, Morgan had changed linens and was standing at the balcony door watching Mother send down rain. She had a sense of joy but also of great sadness as the ancient Iobairt knew of the destruction Mother was suffering again at the hands of greed and power. Morgan had seen the destruction of huge parts of the Great Southeastern City with loss of all growth replaced by concrete, steel, glass, and filth. There were great clouds of smoke hanging low over huge tracks of land; once living waterways died along with all those living beings that depended on them. Iobairt also knew that if they were to win over evil it would take every earthling and every source of magic at their disposal. As with all eternal lovers, Blaine knew Morgan's thoughts and great concern; she wrapped strong arms around the woman she love d, holding her in silence. Both knew destinies would be fulfilled.

When Morgan arrived for breakfast, all the holy ones and several ancients lined up in single file at the entrance of the dining room. Each stepped forward , kis sing birth anniversary blessings into their priestess and friend. She was breathless with laughter as the blessings continued. Blaine quipped that she could hardly wait for her own birth anniversary. As Mother finally sent down her last tears and the sun broke from behind clouds, the pall of despair lifted from Iobairt's soul as Noshi sent blessings from Naofa with the reassurance that her journey was unfolding as it should. After breakfast, Morgan told Blaine that she did need to receive a shipment of munitions and insure proper storage. She smiled, telling her lover that was the only work she intended for the day but they were running a war camp ; they did need bombs and bullets. Blaine kissed her , stating she supposed th e excuse was acceptable. While Morgan worked, Blaine went to the kitchen to make a special request of Celeste who grinne d, agreeing to fill a backpack with lunch goodies. Blaine then sought out Barbara who was working on engine maintenance . She asked to borrow a Harlie for a few hours, saying that she hoped to have a pre-date date. Before Barbara could ask, Blaine told her she grew up in the hood ; hot-wiring anything was a pastime taught in kindergarten. She reassured Barbara that she learned to drive them properly when in training for the police force. Barbara walked to the garage , hand ing Blaine a set of keys with a grin. Blaine rode the bike to the kitchen door, retrieved the backpack lovingly packed by Celeste ; she then found Morgan as she finished the inventory on the latest shipment. Blaine kissed her, handed her a helmet, and told her to get on. Morgan laughed as she was not used to being on a Harlie with another earthling but she loved this driver so it was not a hardship. Blaine drove along the abandoned road by the lake ; when well out of view she stopped the bike , taking Morgan's hand to walk to the shore. She removed her pack, her clothing, and then Morgan's clothing. She then ran full force into the lake, yelping with the initial shock of cool water on a warm day. Morgan laughed before joining her. Both women swam and played before returning to shore to dry in the sun. Blaine laughed that her only real swimming in the summer as a child was being sprayed by fire hydrants but reassured Morgan that she did take lessons at the insistence of her mother and her "aunts" at the brothel. Morgan was quickly overcome with unadulterated lust for this tall beautiful woman; both found passion quickly with abandon. When both found voices once more, Blaine invited Morgan to lunch under cooling willow trees. Celeste outdid herself yet again with spicy trout rolls, salad, and raspberry pie that could go down in the annals of herstory as more than outstanding. Blaine finished two pieces before stating that someone should marry that woman. Morgan said Roy did but to stand in line. Digestion led to sleep before passion found the lovers yet again. Both took another swim in the refreshing mountain lake before returning to The Lodge in midafternoon. Blaine returned the Harlie to the garage, cleaned it, returned the keys to the rightful spot, and then took Morgan's hand as they went to find Barbara to say thank you once again. Lydia was keeping Barbara interrupted with touches and kisses when Blaine finally was able to express gratitude.

The dining times were set earlier in order to set up for the ruckus. When Morgan and Blaine arrived, most of their friends were finishing their dinners. Morgan said it was because when women got older it took longer for them to get into ruckus mode. Amanda stood, apologized to a grinning Blaine , walked to Morgan, took her to her feet, found familiar pleasing places on the young woman's body, and kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth until Morgan's knees buckled. Blaine caught Morgan , telling her she deserved that. Morgan murmured "Indeed," Another pre-ruckus ruckus was in full swing. Morgan and Blaine finished their own light dinners before following the other priestesses back to the annex to dress for the party. Jeannie stopped Morgan , telling her she wanted to meet her in her room as she had a birth anniversary gift for her. Morgan was delightfully surprised , stating she would just grab a shower and get dressed. Sally suggested just a robe would suffice. Morgan was beyond curious. Blaine accompanied Laura to the suite she shared with Amanda in order to get into driving Morgan mad mode.

After her shower, Morgan opened her door to be greeted by both Jeannie and Sally, arms full of clothing and shoes. Jeanni e gave Morgan their gifts of a green stretch lace backless dress reaching Morgan's mid-thigh. Sally gave her matching six inch heels and a small box with a loan of Amanda's emerald ankle bracelet and earrings. Jeannie then applied her best effort at come hither makeup before Morgan donned the dress, shoes, and jewelry. She gasped as she saw herself in the mirror. Jeannie clapped and clapped ; Sally let forth with a low whistle, stating that ruckus reached a new level. Barbara and Lydia were waiting with Serena, Annette, Brenda, and Cally on the first floor of the annex when Morgan descended the stairs. For once, Lydia was speechless. Barba ra smiled before hugg ing the beautiful Morgan Downhey on the twenty-second anniversary of her birth. Amanda and Laura then met their friends and waited for Blaine to arrive. A tall drop dead gorgeous ebony woman descended the stairs in the corset, short skirt, six inch heels, gold jewelry, and not subtle come hither makeup. Neither Morgan nor Blaine could speak or take eyes away from the other. All the other women were close to tears as they saw and felt the love these two women shared. Amanda finally suggested that they go stop some traffic.

The former ballroom at the former vacation resort had never seen an entrance such as that made by the priestesses and their friends. Sally was finally completely dumbstruc k, fail ing to let forth with her infamous Palmer howl. Jeannie asked if she was unwell which got a kiss long, hard, and full on the questioner's mouth. If one looked closely, one could see Luther's misted eyes as he struggled to take clear photographs. Once again, out of sheer mischief Rennie asked the crowd if they had never seen come hither before ; in a second there was a huge eruption of laughter. Charlie found Lydia to danc e the first waltz of the evening. Laura then found Barbara to le ad her in a slow sultry rumba followed by a kiss, long, hard, and full on the mouth. Blaine took Morgan's hand , leading her to the dance floor. Morgan warned that she did not dance well. Blaine whispered to her to her lover to listen to Blaine 's body as she had before ; they would dance together forever. Morgan immediately was lost in her eternal partner's soul with little recognition of all else. Both women danced such that everyone else stopped to watch them. No matter the future, Barbara quietly stated to her brothers and sisters that no evil in the multiverse could ever conquer a loving heart given to a loving heart.

When Sally stopped the music which was the cue for Laura to lean over the bar, now an expected intermission in the continued ruckus raising, Laura whispered in Blaine 's ear which brought a decidedly wicked grin. She grabbed her new friend's hand ; both tall drop dead gorgeous women took every advantage of six inch heels on legs that would not quit and walked to the bar. Laura winked at Sally before both women leaned over the bar as far as womanly possible. Sam Tannenbaum came close to unconsciousness as did several other men and women. Both women turned, blew signature kisses to the crowd before kiss ing each other. There was a standing ovation.

Friendship and love filled The Lodge for the celebration of Morgan Downhey's birth anniversary. At 2200 hours, Celeste and Luther wheeled in a huge cake with sparklers blazing a s the holy ones sang blessings from Naofa. Morgan wept as she thanked all her friends, thinking to herself that all she had asked for was a mechanic. Blaine then took her to the dance floor once again. They were joined by Lydia , Barbara, Amanda, and Laura. Sally stood with Jeannie, arms wrapped around the other's waist watch ing six priestesses dance with their eternal partners , full auras emerged. For just a few moments, earth time stopped as love was given down to the ancients and the multiverse.

Near dawn the following morning, Blaine whispered to Morgan that she needed to return to the inner city to continue the rescue of their beloved earthlings. She told Morgan that she would work hard to save as many as she could before she return ed to her lover's arms. Morgan replied that she knew it was necessary but she was not sure she would remember to breathe without Blaine nearby. Blaine scolded her, saying that she was forever with her in her heart and soul. She also reminded Morgan that more than ever they had to rescue and heal as many survivors as possible as they needed every person to fight back if they were to win this one. She planned to ask Laura or Amanda to arrange her return the next night. Morgan had tears in her eyes but agreed that Blaine needed to return to the city to expedite rescues. Blaine reminded Morgan that she had some bases to capture with some asses to kick. Passion then replaced any more sensible conversation until long after the summer sun was in the sky.

After breakfast, Blaine told Morgan to get to work as she wanted to spend part of the day studying for her preliminary examination to qualify for pilot's training. She smiled, saying that that she was determined to keep a close eye on Irish and needed to be in a helicopter to do so. Amanda designated a small station in the command centre for Blaine 's work, study, and communication with her leaders still in the city. She did tell Amanda over lunch that survivors were now on route to all three havens; more were gathered and ready to depart once the guides returned. Drew sent Archie's handiwork, that of perfect false identification for the guides to facilitate movement in the city to the havens. Sterling and Amanda provided as much information as possible for Spero about the location of labor camps near the Great Southeastern City 's more densely populated areas. It was determined that existing Military aircraft would be used to transport workers from the camps to The Lodge and then on to the Bennett Base, the Shipman Base, and the Ravencouer Base.

Amanda stated she, Laura, and Morgan would fly Blaine back to the inner city coordinates the following night. She also planned to land at Railway One and fly survivors to The Lodge. She told Blaine that another group of women would be starting pilot's training in four weeks hence ; if she was ready she would attend those classes. Blaine stated she would make every attempt but it depended entirely on the pace of the escape from the inner city. Dr. Ray Dobson stated that they had expanded the Lindsay Reynolds Centre of Hope to accommodate any survivors still in he alth care facilities in the inner cities. Blaine informed him that she only knew of one hospital where indigent patients could still find care ; she would attempt to gather information as soon as she returned. She said it would be arduous at best to transport those women from the facility as there were few vehicles and fewer trained helpers. Amanda quietly reassured Blaine that they would get them out any way they had to including with magic. Dr. Dobson also told General Bennett that several physicians had volunteered to move to The Lodge and the Bennett Base infirmary , waiting for her command to do so. Amanda thanked Dr. Dobson , asking him to initiate transportation of one physician to each location.

Morgan found Blaine lost to study in late afternoon. She took the papers from her hands, turned off her computer, and drew her lover to her feet. She kissed her , explaining that they had twenty-four earth hours left together for this visit ; she was not about to spend any more time alone. Both women walked to the annex, to Morgan's room, to the shower, and to each other's arms. Hunger interrupted passion ; both women dressed to retrieve dinner trays from the dining room before return ing to Morgan's quarters. After dinner, Blaine sat on the old sofa in Morgan's room . She talked of her past, of her childhood, of her child. Morgan sat in silence as Blaine told her of loving a young woman when she was only fourteen earth years of age. She said that when her father found out about their lovership, he made a point of curing that in both young women by repeated rapes. Blaine became pregnant and gave birth to a boy child who was raised at the brothel , loved by many women there including his mother. Blaine remained quiet for several minutes before continuing. She told Morgan that when The Decision started to enforce the ideology of the religious right they murdered her mother, all those lovely women who raised her, and her child. Her son was just past two years old ; he died just after Blaine graduated from secondary school. She told Morgan that she understood that she had two choices at that point in her life. She could either turn to a life of hatred and fear or she could resolve within herself to honor her son, her mother, all of the earthlings, and fight back. She was accepted into the police force due to perfect examination marks from secondary school. She immediately found a sense of order with the training she needed. Blaine stated it had served her well and would continue to do so. She remained quiet as did Morgan ; with tears flowing from eyes filled with love both women held each other in continued silence. Morgan finally rose , gather ing dinner trays to return to the kitchen. She was just entering the hallway Lydia took the tray from her hands with a smile , suggesting that she return to her sweet woman.

Morgan returned to find Blaine standing on the balcony sobbing. She told Irish that she loved her ; she could not lose her as she did not think she could endure any more loss. Morgan kissed her ; as she led her to the shower she promised that they would be together for eternity as guaranteed by Lohrissa and the grandfather. She whispered to her eternal mate that her son, Lindsay's daughter, all unborn children's souls were honored and held precious at Naofa; when they beat down Olc once again they would return to new lives in peace. She also told Blaine that her son saw her, was with her, and loved her. Iobairt then took Alesta on journeys known only to priestesses in love long into the night.

Morgan woke to the sounds of her lover singing in the shower , basking in the love she now understood, the depth and breadth also known by Amanda and Laura , Lydia and Barbara. She instinctively knew that this was the magic love of those mated for eternity but was not certain if it was only for holy ones. That was a question for both Sally and Jeannie. Blaine emerged from the shower and gathered her young lover in her arms, kissing love and morning into her. She teased that all the passion left her famished such that she needed to find coffee and a substantial breakfast. Morgan told her to go eat ; she would join her as soon as she was showered and dressed.

Blaine joined Sally and Jeannie at their breakfast meal. Sally joked that the holy ones never could get themselves extracted from lovers' arms at an early hour. Blaine said that it was simply a great need for caffeine and food that took her from Irish. Jeannie smiled softly as Blaine told both women that she loved the woman beyond what she thought possible ; she had since she had looked into those flashing green eyes. She laughed as she told her friends about Morgan laying down her own version of hell with her attempt to defy Amanda. Sally laughed , stating she was responsible for the other half of that attitude adjustment. Jeannie reiterated there was absolutely no doubt that Morgan could hold her own with any of them and had. She fought with her on raids ; she was as fearless as any of them. Sally gently held Blaine 's hand , telling her that they all loved Morgan a great deal. She kept women alive for two years before Barbara arrived to help. Sally told her new friend that they rejoiced when they saw the love between the two priestesses. What Sally did not need to say was that Blaine should always cherish the woman and never do her harm. Morgan joined her friends moments later, still glowing with love for her eternal partner. Sally looked at her, laughed a s she told her she had it bad, bad indeed.

Blaine spent the morning gathering supplies, clothing, medicine, and food to take back to the inner city that evening. Morgan helped with movement of munitions and readying aircraft for Captain Tristan's crew as they organized themselves to rescue men from labor camps. Pilots from the Bennett Base were chosen to fly rescued men from The Lodge to the Bennett Base and then on to subsequent bases as their health and strength improved. Amanda confirmed with Laura, Morgan, and Blaine that they would depart at 1800 hours with the anticipated transport at 2000 hours. She alerted the medics as well as Luther's and Mary's crew to expect survivors from Railway One to arrive by 2300 hours. There were thirty survivors to be welcomed to their temporary home , to freedom. A second transport craft would retrieve the remaining thirty survivors the following day. Blaine almost broke down with tears as she finally realized that these friends meant business with hope as the only option.

Morgan went with Blaine to her quarters to gather her personal effects and pack to return to the city. Blaine said she wanted to indulge in one more long hot shower before they returned to the dining room for an early dinner. Morgan smiled , stating she would leave her to it as if she joined her they would miss the flight. As Blaine was showering Morgan returned from her room with a small knitted bear, one of a pair that Amanda made for her weeks before ; she tucked her in among Blaine 's clothing in her pack. She opened the bathroom door to alert Blaine that she would meet her in the dining room a s she left her lover to get dressed.

At dinner, Lynn stopped the table of friends to tell them that Constance at Railway Two had confirmed the arrival of thirty survivors ; the guide had left with a friend and two vehicles to retrieve more at the outskirts of the city. Blaine then did weep as her friends all hugged her, loving this strong compassionate woman more by the minute. At 1800 hours, a Raptor with four priestesses and supplies was headed southeast. As Alesta was emerging to the surface of Blaine 's soul, her transport and that of supplies would become easier with each subsequent return to the city. When Amanda deployed cloaking and made her decent to the coordinates, Blaine readied to return to her beloved earthlings with words of "I love you Irish."

The three priestesses then flew to Railway One where thirty tired very grateful survivors boarded the Raptor to be taken to The Lodge, love of friends, homes north of the wall, and freedom. William Eaglesmith told the priestesses that he had been notified that seventy more survivors were on route ; the guides expected to arrive by morning. Upon their return to the Lodge, Joyce and Sally reported that Frank and Tom from Railway Three had requested transport for forty survivors , asking if another overland vehicle could be brought to them to facilitate even more survivors with each journey.

At the weekly meeting with the principals, General Bennett reported that Dr. Jacob Thomas had moved to assume responsibility for the infirmary at the Bennett Base ; Dr. Warner Gordon would fly with the next group of pilots from Bennett to the Lodge when they retrieved rescued men from labor camps. Declan McDaniels approved funds to upgrade the infirmary at The Lodge if necessary to allow for surgeries if necessary. General Bennett then spoke of the urgent necessity to move surviving women from the only known health care facility still treating indigent patients in the inner Southeastern City . She said that they would need to have Blaine Jefferson confirm exact numbers . As well , they would need to work out logistics but that the rescue needed to take place as soon as possible. She suggested that it would likely mean having troops parachute to the grounds surrounding the facility to assist with a Search and Rescue type mission. General Bennett suggested that Lieutenant General Ravencouer coordinate the mission once details were confirmed. All were in full agreement. Declan asked that the mission become top priority ; General Bennett concurred.

Lieutenant General Ravencouer outlined plans for raids on eight more bases on both sides of the great river bordering both the Great Southeastern City and the Great Southwestern City . She spoke of plans to continue the raids south to the more densely populated southern coast where they would establish another set of safe havens for transportation of survivors. She asked that Sterling and Amelia Carland attempt to establish contact with Southern Resistance fighters on the southern coast. Laura sadly reported that the enclaves of rural survivors had become harder to contact ; there was suspicion that the only survivors were now in the inner cities. She did state that when they had secured bases closer to the more populated areas there might be enclaves not yet known. She spoke of plans to move personnel to some of the captured bases as there would be a need for Southern Resistance bases closer to the south and west. When Declan and Ross asked if she had a timeframe for these raids she stated that it was her hope to have them completed by the upcoming late autumn. She reasoned that fighting in blizzards slowed down the fight but the South and Southwest did not suffer snow; they could continue the fight for the entire year. There was brief silence before everyone heard a soft but determined "Roger that!"

Two days after the meeting with the principals, Blaine Jefferson contacted General Bennett , relaying that she contacted the physician still attempting to keep patients alive in the only remaining health care facility caring for indigent women. Blaine reported that there were no children survivors with only sixty injured traumatized women remaining. She reported that all critically ill patients had perished as there were no supplies or staff to keep them alive. The physician reported that most women were mobile with help ; only twelve needed transport by bed or stretcher. Amanda called for an immediate urgent meeting with Laura , Lydia , Barbara, Morgan, Luther, Charles, Sally, Jeannie, Cally, and Brenda. Amanda reiterated Blaine 's report , asking if the hospital helicopter could accommodate those patients needing stretcher and bed transportation. Brenda said it would not but they could ready another Raptor easily and take medics with her and Cally for both helicopters. Amanda immediately contacted Annette Lemaine who said she would fly to The Lodge with four medics from Bennett to transport patients back to the infirmary at the Bennett Base. Amanda then asked the medics how many personnel would be needed on the ground to assist with the patients who needed transport by magic. All the patients would be moved by magic ; those who were mobile would be easily moved from the ground to the waiting helicopters. Annette replied that one crew member per patient would suffice, mainly to insure safety. Laura firmly stated that she would have eleven skydivers plus herself ready when the mission took place. Amanda spoke quietly to state she would be one of those jumping. It was determined that eight helicopters including two hospital craft would be needed and readied for two nights hence. The mission would take place at night and cloaked. Lydia , Barbara, and Charles were all experienced Search and Rescue pilots ; five senior pilots were chosen to fly the remaining aircraft. Morgan, Spero, Luther, Sally, and Jeannie would assist the medics. Amanda sent an immediate report to the principals before repl ying to Blaine to be on site two nights hence as they needed her magic as well.

Dr. Warner Gordon was alerted of the mission when he arrived from the Bennett Base the following day. Amanda greeted him, thanked him for his involvement with the fight, and smiled as he was about to have his baptism by fire. He replied that there was not a lot that could surprise him. Amanda asked him if he knew about priests and priestesses to which he replied that Dr. Ray Dobson made it a part of a course he taught. Amanda immediately liked the man , kn owing they would all work well together.

Lieutenant General Stenns was chosen to command the mission ; in her usual professional manner she was on the tarmac two hours before takeoff insuring every detail of every aircraft. Laura met with Amanda and ten crew members chosen to parachute onto the health care facility in complete darkness and silence. They knew that must get it right the first time as Lydia and Charles would need to descend close enough to possibly draw attention ; they needed to ascend quickly immediately thereafter. All of the skydivers except for Amanda and Laura had been trained during the battles in Siochain ; familiar with being bombed and shot at in the middle of the night so a quiet jump was not at all worrisome.

Blaine sent a message that she was on site ; using her GPS Drew and Lynn easily determined coordinates for Lieutenant General Stenns and the other pilots. Lydia confirmed that the hospital helicopters were ready with pilots ; copilots were already running preflight check lists. The two hospital aircraft were the only helicopters not armed ; the other pilots understood they would need immediate support in the event of attack.

At 1945 hours, Lydia commanded that preflight lists be checked and pilots prepared for takeoff and at 2000 hours all eight aircraft were airborne and heading southeast. Laura and five crew destined to parachute flew with Lieutenant General Smithson; Amanda and the remaining parachute crew flew with Lieutenant General Stenns. Lynn gave a thirty minute warning and then a ten minute warning. The copilots in both Charlie's and Lydia 's helicopters counted down to the jump as both pilots descended quickly . On Lydia 's command twelve personnel jumped in darkness and silence as both pilots ascended quickly again. Upon landing, Laura ran to the coordinates to meet Blaine and the physician. All the patients were in two large reception areas on the ground floor , ready for transport. Each crew member went to patients in beds and on stretchers ; on command the holy ones moved them immediately. The pilots in the hospital helicopters confirmed success before immediately return ing to The Lodge. The holy ones then moved the remaining patients, eight at a time, to the remaining helicopters. The physician declined transportation, stating to Blaine earlier that she would escape overland with the last of the survivors from the inner city. Each pilot then climbed to cruising altitude with Lieutenant General Stenns being the last to leave as she gave the "all clear". Lynn then gave the thirty minute warning for landing at The Lodg e; every ear distinctly heard "Well done Commander Stenns, well done!", followed by a very soft "Roger that!" Cally and Brenda determined that it was more appropriate to fly on to Sanctuary with those patients who were bedridden. After change of batteries, new pilots then took off in the hospital helicopters to head north. Annette Lemaine directed three of the six remaining helicopters to transport patients to the Bennett Base Infirmary, again after changing batteries and nourishment for the medics. The remaining patients were lovingly taken to the infirmary at The Lodge, quickly triaged by Dr. Gordon and then given appropriate treatment. Lydia and Morgan cast constant spells of healing and strength to all before ask ing Noshi and the ancients for respite due to fatigue.

Lieutenant General Stenns held a very short debriefing session , congratulat ing everyone on an excellent successful mission. Sam Tannenbaum asked permission to hug Lydia , she smiled and granted it. He said that he would forever stand in complete awe of all the people he now called family. Amanda quipped that he has seen nothing yet. With that, everyone found beds.

Morgan was very tired but needed to insure that Blaine was safe , wait ing for her response to a message. Morgan smiled as she received a written message that said "You all kick ass Irish! I love you more each minute. Stay afraid and stay alive". With that, Morgan Downhey fell asleep hugging a knitted bear as did Blaine Jefferson.

Before the first week of the eighth month of the New Year, five bases had successfully been raided and secured on both sides of the great river dividing both cities. The last of fourteen hundred known survivors were successfully transported to the Railway Bases surrounding the Great Southeastern City including the physician who had fought to keep her sisters and brothers alive. Blaine reported that twelve Southern Resistance guides asked to remain at the Railway bases to make routine runs to check for further survivors although no-one held much hope. The principals determined that the Railway bases could be used for rescued men from labor camps and for survivors from the South as they were found. Drew and Sam sent notification to the high echelon of The Decision from Central Command of the Military stating that all insurrection had been finally stopped ; all the rebels had been eliminated. Remaining in the city were only those employed by The Decision. The leaders of The Decision immediately congratulated themselves on choosing the correct leaders of the Military. Copies of the communications were sent to every Military post ; a greater sense of security fell among those who had no idea how to lead. Blaine asked Amanda if she could finally change residences and have a hot shower every night. Amanda replied that they would fly her home the following night.

Amanda asked Sally if she wanted to copilot the flight to bring Blaine back to The Lodge to live permanently. Amanda wanted to start to teach Sally how to fly Search and Rescue flights as she did with Jeannie but decided to teach each woman separately. Morgan told both women that she was going ; it was not negotiable. The Raptor was in the air flying southeast at 1900 hours. Amanda approached the coordinates , instruct ing Sally to descend quickly on her command. Sally did so ; in time not measured by earth time Blaine Jefferson was aboard . Sally climbed to cruising altitude and Amanda flew back to The Lodge. Amanda did greet Blaine as did Sally and when no reply was given Sally glanced behind her, telling General Bennett she did not want to know what was going on in the back of her helicopter. Amanda grinned but made no comment. Lydia asked Lynn if she could give the thirty minute warning to landing ; with a smile Lynn acquiesced. Lieutenant General Stenns gave both pilots the warning , quipp ing that they should also request that the passengers become clothed once again before landing. The woman was incorrigible indeed. There was a very quiet "Roger that!" The man never did sleep.

Upon landing, Sally ran the post flight check list ; Amanda congratulated her on the success of her first Search and Rescue flight lesson. Jeannie was waiting for her on the tarmac with arms full of missing and wanting. Laura walked towards Amanda , smiling as she saw Blaine and Morgan wrapped in each other's arms once again oblivious to everything and everyone around them. She asked Amanda if they formerly were that bad. Sally instantly replied that they both still were. Amanda tapped Blaine on the shoulder, told her she got two days off ; she was then slated to start pilot lessons. Morgan started to protest to which Amanda replied it was not negotiable. Blaine grinned, stating said that as much she wanted Irish and coffee in that order, she really wanted a hot shower, a real bed, and about ten hours of uninterrupted sleep. Jeannie told her she wished her good luck with the sleep part but hugged her friend a s she walked back to the annex with the lovers including her own.

Morgan led Blaine to a hot shower , taking the woman to torrents of passion. She then led her to a real bed , h olding her lover as both found the sleep only possible in the arms of women loving women. Morgan woke before Blaine , return ing with coffee and breakfast trays just at her lover was finding the place between sleep and awakening. Morgan kissed her and handed her a cup of real coffee. Blaine was quiet for several minutes before speaking, stating that she was just finally realizing she never had to go back ; she was finally home. Morgan quietly told her that home was really at Naofa but that while they helped their beloved earthlings she was indeed home especially in her lover's heart and soul. Morgan put a breakfast tray before her , telling Blaine to enjoy her first and last breakfast in bed. Morgan then unpacked Blaine 's backpack , throwing most of the clothing awa y; it was so tattered and dirty that it was not worth salvage. Blaine apologized , stating she had given most of the clothing she had taken back with her at her last visit to women who really need it. She said the clothing Morgan had tossed as refuse had been taken from bodies on the street. At the bottom of the back was the knitted bear, again a bit worse for wear but Morgan did know she could be laundered. Over a second cup of coffee from a thermos bottle, Blaine told Morgan with tears falling down her cheeks that she had held that bear every time she found shelter to sleep and every time she was frightened nearly to death. Morgan smiled, explaining she had the mate ; she too had held her bear every night waiting for her sweet woman to return . They would tell the General as it would warm her heart.

When Blaine emerged from the shower and started to dress, Morgan was taken aback when she saw how much weight Blaine had lost since she was last at The Lodge. She told her ebony beauty that they needed to feed her often and well. Blaine replied that there was very little food left for survivors in the city ; most of those who did not escape died from starvation. Blaine quietly stated that she ate three of four times a week when she could ; less often when there was no food to steal. Before Morgan could react with loving concern, Blaine told her that there were still thousands facing the same atrocities and challenges. She kissed Morgan , telling her that was why she would start to learn to pilot as they had to find their beloved earthlings to teach them to take back what they had lost to apathy. Morgan excused herself again , returning several minutes later with new blue jeans and shirts for her lover. Blaine had not given up her combat boots ; she finally dressed in clean clothing with a grin. Both women changed linens before finding Luther who helped them find some old but very comfortable furniture for Blaine 's quarters as well as more linens. Blaine smiled through more tears as she realized that she really had found a home again. Over the course of the next days, Blaine, Morgan, and Luther moved Morgan's clothing and personal effects to Blaine 's quarters to free her former rooms for another woman who needed a home.

The next class of pilots started lessons early on the first weekday morning ; Blaine Jefferson was in attendance. A senior instructor taught the classroom studies with examination to quality for flight lessons scheduled for two weeks hence. Morgan walked by the classroom many times the first morning, wanting to look in at her lover but knew better. Just past midday, she received another huge shipment of munitions ; she remained occupied with inventory and storage for the next three days. Amanda convened the weekly meeting with the principals to report on the plans for continued raids on bases south and west. Five of the eight planned raids had taken place without incident ; the remaining three were planned for the next four weeks. Sterling Carland reported that they had made brief contact with a Southern Resistance cell leader in the southern harbor sector the Great Southeastern City . Declan asked that every attempt be made to further the contact and then connect the cell leaders to General Bennett at The Lodge. Sterling warned that fewer survivors were known in the more populated areas but the Southern Resistance leaders did know of some more rural enclaves still surviving as The Decision had lost count of small groups of earthlings. Laura stated that the next base raided, the most southern one to date east of the great river would be established as a Railway Base . She requested that Declan arrange for personnel to live there temporarily. Laura also stated that the last base to be raided in the current plans would be used as a Southern Resistance fighting base , ask ing General Bennett consider choosing personnel to move there permanently. She envisioned that the base could be used as a reconnaissance base for future attacks both south and west.

The following week, the base to be known as Railway Four was cleared with incident. Since the first mission, Captain Tristan and his crew successfully rescued one thousand men from labor camps without incident or loss of life. These men were all in Siochain either recovering, working in previous trades, or being trained as pilots under the leadership of Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer. Three days after the raid establishing Railway Four, Declan replied that two brothers and their partners were eager to take residence at the former base ; being ready to move within a week. Alex Taylor planned to fly James and Clark Norris with their partners to The Lodge after which pilots would fly the latest members of the Southern Resistance to Railway Four to start helping their brothers and sisters find hope and freedom.

Chapter 16

Blaine Jefferson wrote her examination to qualify for flight lessons and achieved a perfect score. She quipped to Amanda that she would never be outdone by Irish who had also scored no errors on her own examination months earlier. Although it was not customary, Laura and Lydia chose to teach Blaine how to fly the helicopters to expedite her qualifying before Amanda could teach her how to bomb the hell out of anything. Sterling and Amanda Carland established further contact with Jack Stonewall, the senior leader of Southern Resistance cells in the south. Amanda followed with contact from The Lodge. Jack said he was initially surprised and then beyond grateful when he learned that there were others trying to stay alive and fight back. He reported that there were approximate one thousand fighters and survivors in the harbor sectors on both sides of the great river, although he had no confirmation he believed there were enclaves of survivors all along the southern coast to the east and the west. There was the subsistence known to every survivor but slightly less starvation as there were still fish in the ocean, small rivers, and swamps. Harvesting in those areas was entirely too much like work for anyone associated with The Decision ; their lassitude was keeping some hope and attitudes still breathing. Amanda reported to Jack that known survivors in the northern populated areas were now in Siochain or The Lodge. She also told him there was a safe haven open now for survivors once they could organize guides to start the migration north. Amanda explained that their first goal was to rescue as many survivors as possible before systematically destroy ing everything The Decision held near and dear. Jack had some doubt until Amanda told him she was with those people who had successfully defeated The Decision in the North ; fortunately they all knew how. Amanda asked that Jack start to organize guides and make his own way to an abandoned section of the city where they could meet him. She told him all they needed was a set of coordinates. Jack replied he would expropriate a GPS device and would then contact The Lodge.

Drew and Sterling also reported heavy river traffic of supplies being sent north to airstrips and overland transportation for factories, farms, and personal use by The Decision. Drew and Annique quickly learned how to intercept communications from the boats and ships rendering them vulnerable to attack. At the weekly meeting of the principals, Drew reported their findings and solution. Laura stated that as soon as the last two raids were carried out going south, they then planned to raid bases going west. Amanda stated they would devise a plan to destroy the ships, cargo, and start to disable the transportation of goods to the Military and The Decision. Laura reported that the second last raid was scheduled for two nights hence and then the last raid, the one to establish a future Southern Resistance base one week later. She did state she had a great sense of foreboding about the last raid , suspecting that they would encounter minions once again although she was not entirely certain. No-one doubted Laura's senses of foreboding as they had never been wrong previously. Amanda reported that Jack Stonewall planned contact when he could establish coordinates . She suggested they bring him back to The Lodge as they had with Blaine Jefferson in order to make plans to evacuate survivors north once again. She then said that they final push towards the west would start in earnest once enough pilots had been trained. There was a very determined "Roger that!" which ended the meeting.

Laura and Lydia taught Blaine twice a day when schedules allowed. She proved herself to be a committed brilliant student pilot , not at all to anyone's surprise. When basic lessons had been taught, Jeannie, Morgan, Sally, and Luther took turns flying with the young pilot daily in order for her to gain the required number of flight hours before her final examination.

The second last raid along the great river going south took place without incident. Three days before the last planned raid south, Laura met with her crew. She added six more helicopters for this raid as she continued to have a great sense of foreboding about this raid but also knew the mission would be successful. She asked that Blaine and Doakus both fly with this raid as she knew that all the holy ones would be needed to encounter the minions from Olc once again. The flight time was three hours southwest and the takeoff planned for 1600 hours three days hence. Declan approved the transfer of ten personnel to that base once it was secured in order to maintain it as a Southern Resistance reconnaissance base for future battles.

Morgan held Blaine in loving arms the night following Laura's meeting. She asked her lover if she was nervous about the raid . Blaine replied she was not nervous but knew of the same fear she had before raids in the police force and with every battle she had encountered in the inner city as a Southern Resistance cell leader. Morgan told her she would be expected to eliminate the enemy once they had landed. Blaine replied with a smile that she had been eliminating them for months already so the notion was not new. Both women knew the mission would be their greatest challenge to date but it would succeed.

Lydia did not often tell Barbara about what she knew of the future but as they held each other after journeys to the ancients and the multiverse she told Barbara to prepare for some serious ass kicking on the mission. Barbara told her she was well aware they would meet minions ; some more powerful than they had met on this return to earth. Barbara also told Lydia they would survive ; the mission would succeed.

Amanda held Laura is strong arms full of love and protection. She had not known a sense of Laura's foreboding this strong ; although she was not frightened she was deeply concerned for the love of her life. Laura had been quiet since the end of the meeting with the crew and Amanda knew she was with Noshi. Laura sat up in bed , telling her lover that she needed to return to Noshi for a brief period of time. When Amanda's turned pale, Laura kissed her , telling her she would not cross the portal but she needed to sit with the grandfather without the distraction of earth. She promised Amanda she would return to her, that she would stay until they both could cross the portal together. She simply said that she needed to commune with Noshi alone for a few ho urs; she wanted none of the holy ones to worry. Before she drifted off to sleep, she told Amanda that she loved her and would for eternity. Her temporary communion with Noshi was part of the plan to lead their beloved earthlings to victory.

The following day, everyone kept quietly busy as if to deflect concern. Laura spoke with Amanda to tell her that she had asked Lieutenant General Smithson to command the raid. Amanda understood then that Laura knew neither of them would be capable in light of the immediate outcome. Amanda then told Laura that a medic would accompany this raid and all subsequent raids as The Lodge was too far away to transport any injured personnel without a time lapse. After dinner, Laura found Charlie Smithson , asking her dear friend to go for a walk to the lakeshore with her in the late autumn moonlight. Laura told him that she needed to commune with Noshi for a few hours but only temporarily ; she would return. She told him that was why she had asked him to take command of the mission as she feared Amanda might not be immediately able to think clearly. Charles looked at his priestess, knowing that they had battled together for many spirals of the helix and would again. He told her that he would absolutely insure success of the mission and some serious ass kicking. Laura smiled and hugged her friend, telling him that he was a beloved holy one and a wonderful friend. On their walk back to the main building, he took her hand and asked her to save a dance for him on the upcoming New Year's celebration. Laura promised it was a done deal.

The day of the raid found pilots and crews readying aircraft. The usual Smithson tactic for bombing would be deployed as it had for all previous raids. When Brenda Sloan found out that a medic would be included in the mission, she specifically asked Laura if she could volunteer . Once she had been approved , she spent the rest of the day packing supplies and equipment in the event of injury. Laura told her she would fly with Lieutenant General Smithson as commander of the raid. Blaine was directed to fly with Lieutenant General Maclippe. The other pilots including Captain Tristan all prepared to fly solo. At 1530 hours, Lieutenant General Smithson made his final inspection of all aircraft he would command for the mission. The pilots readied themselves to run preflight check lists. Laura found Amanda before she climbed into the cockpit of her helicopter. She held her eternal lover, kissed her long, hard, and full on the lips ; she told her softly to stay calm as Laura would return. As always, Lohrissa emerged and blessed her holy ones and her beloved earthlings. With that, the mission was airborne flying southwest.

Lynn gave the thirty minute warning and Lieutenant General Smithson gave the order to deploy cloaking and descend to bombing altitude. The four quadrants were bombed with the first pass and as pilots started to bomb the periphery of the base on the second pass the skies opened up with fire raining down; Rialb, Yenohlum, Sivad, and Nagear descended with great speed and deafening high pitched screams. Lohrissa immediately demanded that they cease their attack on the holy ones and the beloved earthlings. The senior minion Nagear attempted to surround all the helicopters with lightening and loss of power. Lieutenant General Smithson commanded that the bombing pass to continue as the holy ones emerged ; Lohrissa demanded once again that the minions cease the attack. With that, she commanded that the holy ones send the minions back to the hell they called home. Alesta, Lughe, Curran, and Briallen assumed roles of defense and deflected attacks by the lesser minions while Iobairt and Doakus attacked with speed not measured by earth time. Lemanychia, Aine, and Lohrissa continued to attack as the helicopters continued to bomb the base far below. One by one, Rialb, Yenohlum, and Sivad were defeated and sent back to Olc. Nagear remained , pursu ing a direct attack at Lohrissa. The holy ones continued to defend and deflect attacks as Lohrissa fought the senior minion. Suddenly, Nagear cast a huge fireball and disabled Lieutenant General Ravencouer's helicopter, causing immediate spiraling to the ground. The minion paused for time not measured in earth time but long enough for Briallen, Blaine, Curran, and Lughe to wrap him with silver chains and fire. Morgan and Doakus sustained continued attack with support from Lemanychia and Aine, with one final act Curran commanded that a simultaneous effort fragment the spirit to send evil in very small particles to every galaxy in the multiverse. Suddenly, the skies were quiescent once again as Lieutenant General Smithson commanded that the raid continue with landing and eliminating the enemy. He then flew low over Laura's helicopter which lay in a twisted heap on the ground. Lemanychia and Iobairt continually cast spells of healing and strength as the holy ones moved their beloved ancient high priestess instantly to the care of Brenda Sloan. She confirmed that Laura was alive but had sustained injuries to bones and was burned. Amanda remained silent as she carried out the raid as commanded by Charles Smithson. Lieutenant General Maclippe told Charlie to return to The Lodge with Laura as she would assume command for the remainder of the mission, now almost complete. Brenda continued to care for Laura who remained unconscious. She placed the woman on life support in order to thwart her immediate response to shock and to promote healing. Lemanychia and Iobairt continue to cast continuous spells on their priestess. Charles contacted The Lodge stating that they were on route with an injured Lieutenant General Ravencouer. Brenda donned a head set, speaking directly almost continually with Dr. Warner Gordon who stated they would prepare the infirmary to receive a seriously injured patient. Amanda finally spoke ; asking if Laura needed to be flown to Sanctuary as if she did Amanda was accompanying her. Brenda stated that the decision would be left to Dr. Gordon but Laura's vital signs were stable ; the signs of shock were slowly dissipating. Each leader on the ground reported cleared sectors and bodies were then incinerated. Lieutenant General Maclippe then declared an "all clear" ; the base had been secured. She commanded that the pilots return to The Lodg e; on her departure she flew over the twisted remains of Laura's helicopter and bombed it to complete rubble such that it could not be identified if discovered later by the enemy. There was almost complete radio silence save for the communication between Brenda Sloan and Dr. Gordon with constant reports on the status of Lieutenant General Ravencouer. Noshi lovingly asked to the wellbeing of all the other holy ones who reported that they were unharmed. Noshi then held Aine close to hi m, remind ing her that her beloved Lohrissa was with him near the portal but she would not cross. He told her that they had to make plans for victory ; she would return to all of them soon. Amanda found the same place she knew during the first battles in the North when she could not return to her beloved Laura , simply fl ying her aircraft back to The Lodge with all the other pilots. Lynn gave Lieutenant General Smithson a thirty minute warning ; every resident at The Lodge save for those in the Command Centre and in the infirmary moved to the tarmac to await the arrival of their beloved Laura. There was almost complete silence as the lights from Charlie's helicopter came into view. Dr. Gordon and medics were on the tarmac with equipment needed to transfer a patient still on life support. When the helicopter landed and Laura was gently moved to the equipment on the tarmac, every resident was on bended knee softly chanting blessings for Laura's healing. The patient was moved quickly to care in the infirmary ; the residents all returned to the common room to await the arrival of the remaining pilots and crew. In slightly over one hour, Lynn gave Lieutenant General Maclippe a thirty minute warning as Barbara told her pilots to prepare to land once again. Lydia and Morgan continued to cast spells of strength and healing on Laura. The pilots all landed and ran post flight check lists after which Amanda ran to the Infirmary followed very quickly by Lydia, Barbara, Luther, Sally, Jeannie, Morgan, Spero, and Blaine. Charlie met them with a smile , stating that Laura Ravencouer would recover ; in fact she was well on her way. Dr. Gordon greeted Amanda, telling her that Lieutenant General Ravencouer was still unconscious but was being weaned off life support . He expected within a few hours she would be awake. He told them that she had a broken leg and some burns but miraculously they appeared to be healing visibly minute by minute. He smiled a s he told Amanda that he liked having holy ones for patients, they did all his work for him. Morgan and Lydia simply smiled at each other through tears. Charles held a very brief debriefing meeting in the hallway outside Laura's room . He did not even bother to tell anyone to get sleep as he knew they would not leave their priestess until she had returned from Noshi. He did to go to the Command Centre , reporting to Declan, Drew, and Serena that Laura Ravencouer was very much alive, healing, the bravest woman he had ever had the honor of knowing and loving as a dear friend. There was then a deafening roar over the airwaves as at least half of Siochain cheered ; above all there was a loud and joyous "Roger that!!" As dawn struggled to claim the night, Celeste and her crew set out a breakfast buffet for the crew ; Rennie forced them all to eat. Blaine finally stood, took Morgan in her arms to t ell Irish that this crowd gave loving and ass kicking an entirely new definition. She also said she was so proud of all of them , incredibly honored to be a part of her family at The Lodge.

Cally relieved Brenda as the primary medic caring for Laura. She then forced Amanda to shower and don soft sleep clothing before telling her to lay down in the other bed in the room to get some sleep. She promised she would wake her as soon as Laura regained consciousness. Dr. Gordon then gently suggested that everyone find beds, lovers, and sleep as none would be of any help to anyone if they did not. Lydia told them that the good doctor was right ; everyone did find beds as light graced the sky.

Before midday, Laura tried to say Amanda's name before she opened her eyes. Cally gently woke Amanda , letting her go to her lover. Laura struggled to speak again as Amanda answered her with a soft kiss on her brow. Laura opened her eyes , tr ying to smile before Cally took the airway from her mouth. Laura went to move , flinch ing with pain and stiffness. Cally prepared medication but Laura asked for Lydia who was waiting in the corridor with Morgan. Both women heard the priestess , sending down spells of healing and strength. Laura then just shook her head as Cally went to inject pain medication into Laura's intravenous fluids. Laura immediately relaxed , quietly ask ing for a drink of water. Cally was hesitant as it was not protocol to let a patient take fluids immediately after recovery from unconsciousness but this was not an ordinary patient. As such, Cally allowed Laura sips of cold fluid which induced a lovely smile. She then looked at Amanda , quietly t elling her she loved her. Laura asked about the others and the mission. Amanda kissed her brow again, saying they were all fine ; the mission was a success. She also told Laura that Nagear was no longer.

Laura was quiet before telling Amanda to go get some real sleep as she looked like hell. Laura then closed her beautiful hazel eyes and fell into a healing sleep. Amanda thanked Cally before entering the corridor where she told her friends that Laura had recovered consciousness and had spoken. She then collapsed sobbing into Lydia 's arms. Lydia and Barbara helped their friend walk to the annex where Luther had prepared her bed for her. Both women waited until Amanda had showered and then tucked her in between warm sheets , staying with her until she fell asleep. Lydia returned to the common room to t ell all the residents that Lieutenant General Ravencouer was back with them and had asked of their wellbeing. There were no dry eyes.

Amanda woke before dinner and immediately returned to the infirmary. Laura was sleeping but the senior medic on duty told her lover that she had been awake and had taken more fluids. Dr. Gordon walked to the room to check on his patient , report ing to General Bennett that Laura's burns had almost entirely healed ; he did not expect scarring. He also said that her broken leg was well on the way to completely mended. He shook his head as he stated, almost to himself with wonder, that it had been less than twenty-four hours since Laura's helicopter had been shot down. A mere mortal would have not survived the crash let alone recover as miraculously as this patient had. Amanda smiled as she told Warner that Laura was in fact the most ancient high priestess Lohrissa, a former goddess before the split of the multiverse. She told the physician that Lohrissa had returned to help their beloved earthlings since the beginning spiral of the helix as had most of the holy ones. She teased him, stating that not all his patients would be quite this remarkable but she had every faith in his abilities to treat any challenges. Dr. Gordon then suggested that Amanda find some dinner as they expected Laura to sleep healing into herself for several hours. Amanda reluctantly agreed that she was finally famished and then left to join her friends in the dining room.

In a very uncustomary manner, as soon as Amanda entered the dining room she sought out Charlie Smithson, walked to him, ask him to stand, and then General Bennett hugged her dear old friend for many minutes with tears falling down cheeks from eyes full of gratitude. Although both knew words were not necessary, Amanda thanked Lieutenant General Smithson for his brilliant command of the mission with his immediate rescue and transport of her beloved. Charles smiled, telling Amanda that Laura warned him of the possible events the night before they happened ; he had been more than prepared to do a few things at once.

Amanda then joined the priestesses to finally relax enough to enjoy Celeste's food. Morgan took Blaine 's hand as she told Amanda that her sweet woman had finally admitted that this crowd could well and truly kick as s; they all gave loving an entirely new dimension. There was a soft "Indeed" replied in unison. Amanda took Barbara's hand ; with tears in her eyes thanked her for taking command so Charlie could go get Laura and transport her to The Lodge. Barbara shrugged, saying that she knew Lydia and Morgan were busy helping to keep the priestess alive, she was not certain how quickly Amanda could react in light of the sudden chain of events, so she knew she had to take up the sl ack which she she did. Iobairt was an ancient warrior priestess but Morgan was a young woman who had only met these women less than three years earlier . She still stood in awe of their brilliance with a deep abiding connection they held with each other.

After dinner, Amanda returned to Laura's bedside to find Luther sitting quietly holding Laura's hand, Lughe's garnet aura fully emerged. He rose to give Amanda his chair ; she quietly told him to stay sitting. She found another chair , t aking Laura's other hand as both friends quietly gave down thanks to Noshi and all the ancients for their most beloved high priestess. Luther stayed for a brief period of time, then returned to find his beloved Mary and ready himself for the next day at The Lodge. Laura woke and smiled as she saw Amanda watching her. She told her lover that she looked much better now that sleep and food had found her. Brenda returned to duty to care for Laura . With a disciplined voice she told the patient it was time for her to sit up and perhaps try out of bed for a few minutes. Amanda had a look of uncertain surprise , question ing whether this was a sound plan. Brenda told Amanda that she could stick to the General stuff ; Brenda would stick to the medic stuff. She explained that Laura's body had recovered incredibly well ; if they wanted to avoid complications of lying about then the patient had to get moving. Brenda found a very unattractive medical sleep shirt to cover Laura's body and then helped her to a sitting position. Brenda called for another medic to help as she pushed a chair close to Laura's bed. Amanda was already to assist with any maneuver with her beloved woman when Brenda told her to either stand in the doorway or leave the room. She reminded Amanda that she did not tell her how to bomb the hell out of anything ; as such , Amanda would not tell her how to move a patient. Amanda went to argue and then just laughed softly while she moved out of the way. Laura's broken leg was in an immobilization device ; Brenda told her not to put any weight on that leg. Brenda grinned , telling her patient that she knew she could put herself in the chair instantly but that this time they would do the task the conventional way. The other medic and Brenda effortlessly moved Laura from the bedside to the chair. Laura sat for a minute before ask ing Brenda to hand Amanda her hair brush. Brenda did not leave the room but allowed the two lovers to find the intimacy of the simple act of brushing Laura's hair, Amanda with tears coursing down her cheeks. Brenda then told Laura she was going back to bed. She also grinned at both wome n, telling them they both had it bad, bad indeed.

Laura was visibly tired after her great adventure to the chair. Amanda kissed her goodnight several times and then stayed as her lover fell asleep. Amanda hugged thanks into Brenda Sloan before return ing to her own room for more sleep. In the morning, Amanda gathered sleep shirts, robes, moccasins, and personal items to take to Laura's room before she found her friends eating breakfast. She lingered over a second cup of coffee ; Lydia looked up simply beaming, telling the General to turn around. Dr. Gordon was pushing a mobility device with a radiant Laura Ravencouer sitting in it through the dining room doors towards her friends. There was a brief silence; the entire common room and dining room broke into cheers and applause. He jokingly muttered that his patient was more than stubborn . He explained that he was transporting the patient as she told him either he did or she would herself. He said had absolute no reason to doubt her. Laura then asked for some of Celeste's food as she was hungry and in serious need of coffee.

After breakfast and a cup of coffee, Laura told Amanda she had asked to be released from the infirmary but Dr. Gordon simply refuse d, stating that he would summon all the holy ones to keep her in place if it became necessary. Laura said she had raids to plan, battles to arrange, and it was quite difficult lying in an infirmary bed. Cally came to retrieve the patient to put her back to bed for more rest. She also told Laura that she would start therapy to walk on her recently broken limb after the midday meal. She reminded Laura that she would not be able to return to the General's quarters until she was healed sufficiently well to climb flights of steps ; as well the command centre was on the second floor with another flight of steps. Amanda took Laura's hand, asking her to just give in for once and be taken care of without her usual attitude. Laura started to protest and then simply reached to Amanda's lips.

Amanda convened the weekly meeting with the principals on the third weekday. Just as the meeting was about to start, Lieutenant General Ravencouer walked into the meeting room in the Command Centre using a crutches for aid and an almost hovering Luther beside her. She found her usual chair and Luther helped her prop her healing limb on a small stool. Amanda just looked at Laura, started to speak, and then thought better of it as she knew it would not change the woman's mind. Amanda officially reported on the raid. She said that personnel were being readied to move to the base to prepare it for use as a reconnaissance point. She also reported that Jack Stonewall had expropriated a GPS device and was ready to be flown north when they were ready for him. He reported to General Bennett on the numbers of cells in the more populated areas of the harbor sectors as well as a network of survivors along the east and west coast. He stated the huge harbor was used almost exclusively for receiving shipments of munitions that were then either flown to the bases or shipped on barges and boats along the great river. Drew and Sterling reported that they had established more secure frequent communications with Michael Persone, the Southern Resistance cell leader in the Great Southwestern City . Lieutenant General Ravencouer remained silent throughout the meeting but concentrated on taking computer notes. Amanda was about to close the meeting when Chief Administrator Declan McDaniels softly welcomed Laura back; with great affection his voice he told her she simply must stop frightening them as she did. He reminded her that although they were ancients they were still mere mortals ; they did not take well to almost losing their sister repeatedly. There was an immediate group "Roger that!" over the airwaves. Laura told them she loved them all but that she had to commune with Naofa alone for a few hours . She was back and ready to finish what she had started.

Luther helped Laura descend the stairs to a waiting mobility device. He helped her back to her room in the infirmary. Amanda finished her work and then joined her lover. Laura was sleeping before dinner ; Amanda sat quietly watching her beautiful priestess find peace and more healing. Dr. Gordon stopped to visit his patient , telling both Laura and Amanda that he would take more radiographs in the mornin g. If there was sufficient healing Laura would be fitted with an immobilization device that would allow her to weight bear and therefore walk with only a cane for stability. He said that the device could be removed for showers and sleeping provided Lieutenant General Ravencouer remained free of pain. When the physician left the women alone, Amanda sternly told Laura not to defy her again at work. Laura looked directly at the Genera l, telling her she knew she would try to lay down hell because she made an independent decision. She quietly told Amanda to get over herself. Laura said she was a vital part of the team they had assembled to beat the bastards, that she had just got her ass kicked in order to get holy direction, that she had her leg injured but her brain still worked just fine, and she would do what she needed to do to continue the fight. She said she did not mean to threaten the General. She certainly respected her rank and her brilliance but if any or all were not happy Laura could simply return to Naofa, giving the remaining ass kicking and agony a big miss. Then Laura told Amanda to leave her alone and have her tantrum elsewhere. Amanda did not speak and left the room. Brenda saw the look of complete darkness flash across the General's face and knew not to address her. She entered Laura's room upon which Laura asked her to bring her dinner to her room as she was not in the mood to talk to anyone or pretend to be jovial when she was simply mad as hell. Amanda stormed through the common room, slamming the door as she walked into the darkened yard and out to the hangers. All the priestesses saw and heard her leave. Lydia sighed and stood to go after her friend. Barbara grinned, telling Lydia she had the other one and left to get yelled at by one certain Lieutenant General. Morgan and Blaine remained silent until their friends had left. Sally and Jeannie joined them mostly for reassurance, telling them that there would be some attendant attitude adjustment shortly. Blaine asked if they did this often. Jeannie replied that thankfully they did not. She said she picked up the pieces after the first lover's quarrel many years ago as did Luther and Mary.

Dr. Gordon had also seen Amanda leave , knowing there could possibly be trouble in paradise. Brenda told him to leave Laura alone for a while as she was very angry woman ; he did not want to be on the receiving end of that wrath. When he asked how he could help, Brenda told him to get the radiographs tonight, find a removable immobilization device for his patient, and discharge her from inpatient care in the infirmary. She smiled a s she told him that Laura Ravencouer only really wanted to lie in her lover's arms. He told Brenda to bring Laura immediately for the pictures which she did. Barbara met them in the corridor on the way to the radiograph machine. Laura remained silent and sullen. Brenda shrugged and then out of Laura's view she grinned at Barbara. While Laura was getting the radiographs, Brenda asked Barbara to alert Luther that the priestesses would both be home in their suite this evening. Barbara left immediately, found Luther and Mary, Charlie and Eleanor, Sally and Jeannie, and Blaine and Morgan. She told them they needed to set a mood; Charlie smiled and quipped that fortunately they knew how. Barbara returned just as Brenda and Warner were taking Laura back to her room. Dr. Gordon already knew that Laura's leg had healed well; she could be fitted with a removable immobilization device and given a cane for assistance. He also knew that the friends needed some time to repair some hurt and stalled for some time. Brenda excused herself when Barbara leaned forward to hug her sister friend who started to sob immediately. When Laura asked why Amanda acted the way she did about the entire issue, Barbara replied it was because she loved the woman beyond what was possible. She said that when she flew back to The Lodge the night of Laura's crash she had to find the place she lived in for years when Laura left to fight the battles in the North. Laura stated that she had told Amanda she would return to her. Barbara replied that she knew that but almost broken hearts didn't think, they only felt. Laura was quiet before telling her dear friend that she had no intention of ever showing disrespect to the woman or the role she made perfect. She said that she only wanted to help her, to help all of them. Barbara told her she knew that ; when Lydia reminded the General of that Amanda would realize it as well. Dr. Gordon entered Laura's room with a lightweight removable immobilization device for her injured leg , telling told her that she was discharged from the Infirmary. Brenda asked Laura if she wanted help with a shower before she returned to her suite in the annex. She also handed Laura some satin and lace of no structural integrity, passed to her by Morgan just minutes before. Laura was quiet for just a moment before a very bright wicked grin rolled across her face as she realized what her friends were doing. She told Brenda she would be happy for her help.

Lydia found Amanda in one of the hangers, pacing and sobbing. Amanda had a look of defense flashing through the tears. Lydia simply held out her arms as Amanda almost ran to be held by her dear friend and lover. Amanda did not talk for moments as she continued to cry ; Lydia continued to hold her. Lydia found one of Amanda's lace trimmed handkerchiefs and handed it to the General, telling her friend to quiet herself. Lydia told her friend that she knew the hurt and fear she felt once again when Laura's helicopter went down. Amanda replied that Laura told her she needed to go to Noshi for a few hours but she had been so frightened, almost beyond the point of reason. She told Lydia she had almost lost the woman a couple of times ; she did not think she could bear it again. Lydia hugged her friend again , telling her she would not need to. Lydia was a seer, the ancient priestess Lemanychia. She told Amanda that she and Laura would return to Naofa together ; they would remain together for eternity for all their journeys. Amanda said she had lashed out in anger as she was simply afraid she would lose Laura to the battles, to the fight. Amanda then smiled a s she told Lydia that Laura had told her to get over herself. She slowly shook her head , telling her old friend that the woman was as good as Lydia at laying down hell. Lydia kissed her friend and reminded her that they had been traveling together since before the beginning of the spiral of the helix. She explained they had time to almost perfect that. She told Amanda that she needed to eat dinner ; Celeste had kept food for her. Both friends then returned to the dining room. Lydia saw some scurrying around and knew that some plans were afloat. She excused herself from Amanda's company for a moment to find Barbara who told her the plans. Lydia let forth a slow whist le, telling her eternal lover that they had wonderful friends indeed.

Luther helped Laura return to the suite she shared with Amanda. Jeannie and Sally found the laciest sheets while Morgan and Blaine put champagne on ice. Charles and Eleanor brought yellow roses and purple irises from the greenhouses. Mary, Jeannie, and Sally lit many pillar candles. Primrose and Teddy were in the rocker wearing their own satin and lace ; already entirely oblivious to the human activity going on about them. Laura surveyed her friends' handiwork, smiled with tears, and then a delightful wicked grin. She told Barbara to go fetch the General.

Barbara joined Lydia and General in the dining room. She told Amanda that Laura was already in bed ; she could return to her suite. She told her friend that the priestess had simmered down ; by morning she knew both women would have an entirely different perspective on the situation. Both Lydia and Barbara took Amanda's hands and walked back to the annex with their friend. They both hugged and kissed her goodnight as they left her at the door to her suite. As Amanda opened the door she first smelled Laura's perfum e before see ing her lover dressed in lace and satin, waiting for her in the lace sheets. Amanda started to weep once again as she told her eternal lover that she was sorry for the hurt. Laura offered her own apologies , t elling her sweet woman to hurry into the shower as she wanted her almost more than she could stand. When Amanda mentioned that she did not want to hurt her lover, Laura smiled wickedly and reminded her lover that only her leg had been injured ; the rest of her body worked just fine. Some sort of record was set for the least amount of time needed to wash and dry a woman's body before Amanda was lost in kissing and touching and kissing and touching. Lohrissa found Aine quickly and for earth hours the priestesses reaffirmed their eternal mating as they journeyed to ancients and the multiverse. Before dawn, Amanda gathered Laura in her arms and kissed sleep into the woman she would love forever.

At 0900 hours, Amanda opened the door of her suite to find both Brenda and Cally with breakfast trays and thermoses of coffee. Brenda took one look at Laura , laugh ing as she told her patient she did not need to ask how she was. Cally quipped that Brenda should not expect full sentences from either woman for hours yet. Brenda said that Dr. Gordon had ordered two more days of supervised rest and recreation for his patient. He sent a written note to ask the General if she would mind taking that task. Amanda replied that it would be her pleasure to help in the patient's care. Cally did remind Laura that if she chose to get out of bed and walk about she needed to wear the immobilization device save for the shower. Luther knocked on the door and brought a high backed chair suitable for Laura to use in the shower, hugged his priestesses, and then all three friends left the lovers to enjoy breakfast, coffee, and each other.

After breakfast and coffee in bed, both women rose to shower. Amanda carried Laura to the shower , joining her before passion found them again. Once recovered and showered, Amanda changed linens and then carried her beloved back to the bed. Laura applied the immobilization device and dressed in comfortable clothing so as to walk in the corridor outside the suite, part of the exercise and therapy she knew her body needed. Amanda hovered as Laura readily walked using a cane for support. Laura laughed at herself, stating that lying about for a week had left her somewhat deconditioned. She then smiled innocently at the General , asking if perhaps she could help the patient with more physical exercise and reconditioning. With a characteristic Amanda moan, the patient got carried back to their suite and relieved of the cane, the immobilization device, and her clothing.

At midday, Blaine and Morgan brought a picnic lunch to Amanda's suite complete with champagne, Celeste's famous spicy trout rolls, and raspberry pie. Mary worked her magic to fabricate a checkered cloth to be spread across the bed for the lunch. Amanda answered the door clad only in a robe. Blaine smiled as Laura sat up in bed, covered only by a sheet and curls cascading down across her back and breasts. After the picnic had been delivered, Morgan walked about the room picking up clothing from the floor, complaining about the mess and the work of subordinates. Blaine became more and more wide-eyed until Amanda gathered the young woman in her arms, kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth, and then barked "Shut up!" in her very best General voice. Laura grinned and shook her hea d; Blaine almost fell down from laughter. She told Irish that was their cue to leave.

Amanda smiled as Laura devoured her lunch. She told the General that she had not been fed for three of the last seven days ; she was still making up for that. Amanda mentioned that passion must also fall into the same analysis. Laura kissed her lover , telling her bluntly that there were a few hours when she was not all that keen on passion. Amanda was silent for a few minutes before apologiz ing to Laura once again for her anger. She told her priestess that her only excuse was absolute fear of losing her once again to the fight, to the battles, to victory. Amanda admitted that she was uncertain of her ability to withstand a loss such as that. Laura took a champagne flute from her lover's hands and drew her close. She said that both Noshi and Lemanychia told her that she and Amanda would return to Naofa together before journey ing on to others who needed them. Laura kissed Amanda , telling her that Lohrissa became whole and complete when she found Aine and both priestesses travelled to themselves and naught. Laura admitted that she had actually considered not attending the last weekly meeting as she knew that the General would not be amused, likely try ing to lay down hel l; she was right. She then told Amanda that she loved her, had paramount respect for her and the job she perfected. She explained she attended as she had to have the information because she had been told the direction of the battles to victory. She also quietly told her priestess that she would tell all the holy ones soon. Laura then yawned , stat ing that she was in need of a nap to recover from lunch and the General's therapy. Amanda gathered up the remains of lunch after which both women held the othe r as early afternoon lulled them to sleep.

Laura woke as Amanda was returning to their suite with more coffee and maple candy. Laura walked to the sofa to find hugs from both Teddy and Primrose. Only the very observant gleaned that bears became softer and fluffier when held and cuddled by their humans. Such was the case for Teddy and Primrose as Laura told them both she noticed and loved them more every day. While both women enjoyed coffee and treats, a game of Chinese checkers was fiercely contested amid laughter, playful insults, and complete lack of understanding by the bears. Outside, at dusk on the late autumn day mother sent her first dusting of snow to start a welcome blanket of rest and healing.

Laura complained of hunger once more , stat ing she wanted to go to the dining room for dinner, to see her friends, to get some fresh air on the walk from the annex to the main building, a s well as proper therapy for her leg. Both women descended the stairs slowly before walk ing to the dining room. Many residents hurriedly approached Laura to offer assistance. She thanked them, stating she was managing fine with need to pursue independent walking as part of her recovery.

The priestesses dined together ; after dinner Luther approached them with a request about Wintersday. He said he knew that the raids would continue but he wanted to request that The Lodge be transformed as it had been the year before. Laura's eyes danced as she told her dear friend that as far as she was concerned The Lodge would always be transformed even after victory. She reported that the survivors needed hope with respite from the concerns and constant struggles. Nobody had any objections whatsoever ; Luther stated he would make all the plans as he had done for decades. Sally overheard the conversation and requested a repeat of the last New Year's ruckus. Laura once again agreed, stating that she had already promised Charlie a dance and was a woman of her word. There was the unspoken knowledge that it would their last celebration as a group for a very long time ; Sally said she intended to do it up right.

Laura returned to her desk in the command centre on the first weekday but did agree to work only part of the days to attend to therapy for her leg. She seemed more driven than ever to get plans in place to continue to rescue survivors before defea ting evil once again. Charles and Amanda continued to teach licensed pilots to bomb anything in site. Amanda also finished instruction for Sally Palmer who successfully tested and received a Search and Rescue license. Amanda told Jeannie Dawson that she would teach her after Wintersday and New Year's. Blaine Jefferson completed the required number of hours with instructors and then wrote her final examination. The most senior pilot tested her in the air. Two days before Wintersday, Amanda asked for the attention of diners as she presented Blaine Jefferson with her pilot's license, Amanda's third student scoring a perfect mark. Morgan Downhey was given the privilege of pinning Blaine 's wings on her leather bomber jacket followed by several kisses, long, hard, and full on the mouth. Immediately after the Wintersday break she would be taught how to bomb the hell out of anything.

Two weeks after Laura's crash, Lydia , Amanda, and Barbara flew to the new reconnaissance base, dubbed Magic One by Dr. Gordon and made official by Declan. Drew and Lynn locked onto coordinates from the GPS Jack Stonewall provided ; in less than one hour he was seated in a Raptor flying back to The Lodge. Amanda introduced herself, shook his hand, and then introduced the pilots as Lieutenant Generals Lydia Stenns and Barbara Maclippe. He was quiet for a few minutes as he struggled to comprehend the magic to which he had been subjected. He then smiled , thanking them all for hauling him to the helicopter although he was not certain as to how. Amanda explained that they were all holy ones from Naofa , capable of magic he had not dreamed of as of yet. She then offered their new friend a cup of coffee and a lunch prepared with care by Celeste Crosby. As with Blaine , he first asked if it was real coffee and then if they ate like this often. Amanda told him that it was real coffee, they grew their own, and that they ate well every day. She also told him that they would help him and those he cared about to do the same.

Jack Stonewall was a slight man, pale with the undernourished body of all those survivors they rescued. He told Amanda that he had originally taught at one of the universities in the Great Southeastern City until it had been closed after The Decision deemed it was simply a breeding ground for insurrection. He recounted that many of the students had been resisting the ideals of the religious right being forced upon them ; when he had lost his employment he joined them. Due to his age and experience in leadership, he had become a cell leader and then leader of all the Southern Resistance cells in the southern harbor sectors of both the Southeastern and Southwestern Cities . They had initially tried to stop shipments being moved north along the great river but they had very few resources ; men disappeared daily, either to labor camps or to death. He laughed softly as he said he had always thought of himself as a pacifist until he witnessed insan e atrocities daily. He said quietly that he then learned how to fight back. Amanda placed her hand on his arm very briefly , t elling him that they all had learned. Lynn gave a thirty minute warning as Amanda reached into a pack , finding a warm jacket, socks, and boots for her friend. She smiled that there was snow on the ground at the Lodge and he would notice a slight change in temperature from the river delta.

Lydia landed and after the post flight check the pilots shook Jack's hand, welcomed him to The Lodge, and the beginning of hope and sanity. He was shocked when the cold air met him ; they all hurried into the common room. Charles Smithson stepped forward immediately , introducing himself to Jack as did Morgan, Blaine, Spero, Luther, and Laura. He seemed slightly confused as he met Laura, stating that he knew of the famous Laura Ravencouer but expected a much older woman and one that was not where near as drop dead gorgeous as the woman shaking his hand. She smiled , stating she was actually likely older than him but that she had taken vaccination at a young age ; her aging process had slowed remarkably. With a definite glint of mischief in her eyes, Lydia leaned forward and quietly told Jack that it was also in part due to good loving. He laughed out loud, loving the woman instantly as they all did. Rennie came forward to invite Jack so join them in the dining room for dinner. He was taken aback as he surveyed the food before him. Rennie just took his arm, smiled, welcomed him, telling him he was home now ; he looked like he could stand some decent food. When he was seated, Blaine explained that she has been the Southern Resistance leader in the northern sector of the Great Southeastern City . She said that they had rescued about fourteen hundred survivors. She smiled, saying that the people who came to haul him to the helicopter and then to The Lodge gave caring an entirely new definition. They could also kick ass better than any she had seen. Jack spoke briefly about the living conditions in the harbor sectors, not unlike those in the northern part of the city. He said that earthlings were dying of starvation daily. He explained that the waters around the city had been fouled such that nothing living remained them . They relied on food smuggled in from outlying enclaves where fish could be still be harvested and were safe to eat. After dinner and several cups of coffee, Jack Stonewall suddenly looked exhausted. Luther offered to show him to the room he would be given at The Lodge for his visits. Amanda told him that after a night's rest and breakfast, they would meet to organize rescue of those he had kept alive.

The following morning, after breakfast and coffee, Jack met with the principals to explain the situation in the southern harbor sectors. He informed everyone that he had organized guides to take survivors north to Railway Four. Amanda reported that the crews used for flights from the other Railway Bases were on standby to fly survivors to The Lodge and the Bennett Base. Jack also stated that there was a rough network of communication between the Resistance cells and rural enclaves of survivors; they too would be moved to the inner city and then north. Declan reassured the man that they would bring all those he could find to safety in the North as well as send food and clothing back with him when he returned. Amanda told the group that they had already supplied Jack with a computer, hand weapons, and ammunition.

Amanda then stated that they had a schedule in place for raids to the south and west of Magic One. She reported that crews were already at th at base and were readying it for reconnaissance. Drew asked about the schedule for bombing ships on the great river ; Amanda replied that as soon as all the known survivors were moved north they would start that operation. Amanda discussed the possibility of squadrons flying from the Bennett Base to raid bases west and south once the winter blizzards allowed. Sterling and Amelia reported that they had been successful in establishing secure communications with Michael Persone in the Great Southwestern City . He reported that unfortunately there were less than one thousand known survivors left there due to murder, kidnapping to labor camps, and starvation. He did say that it was unknown if there were survivors in the mountains to the east of the western ocean and doubted that there were any in the arid sectors.

Jack remained silent for most of the meeting with the principals. When Amanda adjourned the meeting, he walked up to her and shook her hand. He said that before that meeting, he remained with strong doubts that they would make a difference. He told her h e had been wrong. She told him quietly that Laura Ravencouer had taught and led a ragtag group or survivors to victory with a small amount of aid from her friends. All the survivors of the now free country of Siochain understood the struggles of their brothers and sisters south of the wall ; all were prepared to do whatever it took to achieve freedom and victory with them. Barbara overhead and quietly reiterated that fortunately they all knew how.

Jack received nourishment and rest before Lydia , Barbara, and Blaine flew him back to Magic One and then to the coordinates in the harbor sectors. He returned with clothing and food for those struggling to find escape. He thanked his new friends many times. Blaine told him to prepare for transport and in time not measured on earth Jack Stonewall was back in the harbor sector, even more determined to fight back.

Laura's injuries healed completely ; by Wintersday she was walking well without a cane. She said it was because of good therapy and magic, Amanda said it was because of good loving. Luther and his crew transformed The Lodge to the magic only he could find, much to the delight of all the residents and especially Laura Ravencouer who allowed just a brief emergence of the child within when she surveyed all before her. Sally and Amanda worked together to prepare for a very special New Year's surprise for everyone at The Lodge. Sally said that this would officially go down in the annals of history as the best ruckus on record. Amanda smiled often over the Wintersday break as the plans made her happy ; she knew the surprise would delight everyone. Sally ordered cases of champagne and liquor from the bar at the coast which had been delivered to the Bennett Base. Annette and Serena planned to fly to The Lodge four days prior to the New Year's ruckus with the supplies. Only Amanda, Luther, and Sally knew of the plans. Amanda suggested to all the holy ones and friends that they dress especially outrageously for this ruckus as it might be their last for a few years. Ma ry Jeanne Designs sent cartons of new clothing including satin and lace for those who wanted to indulge in decadent. Lydia strongly suspected that surprises were in order ; she too looked forward to misbehaving in style.

On New Year's Day, Rennie and Celeste set out an all-day buffet in the common room so that Sally and her crew could prepare the dining room for the festivities. The priestesses dined early and were back at the annex by late afternoon to get ready to stop traffic. An unmarked Raptor landed on the tarmac while the priestesses and friends were still at the annex readying for the ruckus. Lydia Stenns choose a red strapless calf length sheath and six inch heels ; Barbara chose a white stretch lace teddy, a very short black leather skirt, and her own six inch heels. Both women shone with come hither make up and jewels. Morgan chose a green satin tunic over black leggings and green six inch heels; Blaine chose an ankle length bronze long sleeved backless gown and matching six inch heels. She laughed as she helped Morgan to come hither make up the woman would have otherwise not imagined. The General chose a very short ice blue sleeveless sheath and matching heels. Laura wore a long black strapless gown similar to the one she had worn years before at a university soiree, six inch heels, her curls clipped with her diamond and obsidian clip, and her famous come hither make up. All six women met in the corridor before descending the stairs to meet Serena and Annette, Brenda and Cally, all of whom were dumbfounded at the beauty of their holy ones.

Amanda smiled , suggest ing that they could really stop air traffic now and invited them all to go play. All ten women entered the common room as a hush fell over the crowd. Amanda whispered that she loved that part. As they lined up to enter the dining room, they were greeted by Declan and Emme McDaniels, Andrew and Annique McDaniels, Ross and Frida Shipman. Laura gasped before seeing a look of absolute delight on Amanda's face at having pulled off a wonderful surprise. All three men simply stared as they shook their heads ; there was a continuous "Roger that!" heard above the applause. Frannie sidled up to Chief Administrator Declan McDaniels , telling him to take note of what come hither looked like. There was a very brief silence before the great man roared laughing ; the party had begun. Charlie Smithson apologized to Lydia for a break in protocol ; he then asked Laura for the first waltz as she had promised him earlier that fall on the night before her helicopter crash. All the priestesses and all their friends at The Lodge knew that this was their turf and their night to take misbehaving to another level. Ross led his lovely wife Frida in several dances before pilots lined up to cut in. As such, Ross then started to dance with the priestess es; all were delighted that the man could dance exceptionally well. He said it was genetic as his father Seymour had feet that never really touched the ground. He also said that he was named after his grandfather who would go dancing every night of the week if the farm work had permitted that. Andrew acquiesced to a line of pilots wanting to dance with Annique who was a beautiful, charming young woman. Declan stated unequivocally that he was not a dancer but Emme had no chance to sit down as many pilots also asked her to dance. Drew danced with several partners before join ing Luther at the bar to simply observe their friends. Lydia and Barbara were lost in each other's arms ; a night of seduction was well underway. Blaine and Morgan found the beats of a woman's soul in love , bec oming quickly oblivious to the external world about them. Laura and Amanda danced with several partners and then found each other just before Sally stopped the music as a cue to have Laura and Blaine lean the bar and kick the ruckus up a notch. Laura found Blaine , grinned wickedly . Both women took the six inch heels on legs that just would not quit to the ba r; both leaned over as far as womanly possible, then kissed each other long, hard, and full on the lips. There was the usual instant silence as half the air in the room got sucked in followed by a standing ovation. Heard was a softly murmured "Roger that!!" Laura then walked to Amanda, took her priestess in her arms, and danced seduction into the priestess. Both women were lost in each other's eyes, each other's arms, each other's souls. Shimmering white and then a jewel toned aura matched one of silver as priestesses emerged along with Lemanychia, Briallen, Alesta, and Iobairt. The crowd drew back as all were enchanted by the love of the dancers. Lohrissa and Aine then rose above the floor softly circl ing the other, then their sister priestesses; a song of blessings and love rose from voices not heard on earth previously. Even the usually tough ened stoic Declan McDaniels had tears tricking down his cheeks as did all others witnessing the magic. Ross held Frida tightly to a softly whispered "Roger that".

Rested pilots readied the Raptor to fly back to the Bennett Base after guests and residents thanked each other for an evening of reunion and magic. Just past midnight, the priestesses said goodbye to their friends , return ing to the annex. Everyone kissed thank you into Amanda for a loving surprise leading to a ruckus extraordinaire. Barbara had already reduced Lydia to tears ; she told the General in sentences nowhere near full that none of them would be working in the morrow. Blaine quipped "Roger that!" and took the lovely Morgan to their suite. Amanda took Laura in her arms and carried her to their suite. Passion matched passion from lovers who knew the other's body and desires well after eternal lives together. Lohrissa blessed her eternal mate with love and thanks for the joy she had arranged for a few lives of the earthlings they cherished. Both holy ones held hope that the joy would sustain them in the months to come.

Chapter 17

Two days after New Year's Laura convened a meeting with the senior officers and holy ones. All the bases on each side of the great river from the wall to the southern ocean had been cleared. With the understanding that winter weather would impede routine raids on bases just south of the wall; the decision was made to plan raids to the south and west until the third month of the New Year. Amanda raised the possibility of transfer of a senior officer to Magic One to act as commander and coordinator of raids on bases. There were trained seasoned bomber pilots already on site to fly with each raid ; communications remained secure and immediate. Laura was quiet for several moments before agreeing to the brilliant idea. Amanda also stated that although it was not likely necessary she wanted to raise the suggestion with the principals at their next meeting in two days. Laura reviewed plans with Morgan regarding transfer of munitions to Magic One. She also asked Morgan to work with Frannie and Cora to schedule regular transfer of food and supplies. The team agreed that their first focus would be to insure rescue of survivors from the harbor sectors as well as enclaves bordering the wetlands and ocean.

Jack Stonewall reported the following day that they were ready to start transportation to Railway Four but that overland vehicles and batteries were in very short supply. Amanda immediately ordered that vehicles and batteries be flown to Railway Four . James and Clark Norris with their partners received a large shipment of food and clothing and prepared temporary lodging for survivors as they arrived. Dr. Gordon assigned two medics to be on standby to fly with aircraft to Railway Four to assist with any necessary medical care until the survivors arrived at The Lodge. Once again, Archie Granger provided false identification for guides to ease their travel about the city , to help entering more populated areas with greater Military presence. Jack also expressed gratitude for the clothing and food that had been sent from friends in the north. Amanda asked if there were medical facilities that needed aid for transfer. Jack replied that they had all been either shut down or destroyed in an attempt to stop insurgence. There were no survivors. He sent new information about labor camps near populated area of the harbor sector which Amanda immediately forwarded to Spero and Drew.

Late in the day following their meeting, Charlie and Eleanor Smithson approached Amanda and Laura in the command centre , asking to speak with them. Charlie told his friends that he and Eleanor had spoken at length and were in total agreement with their suggestion that Lieutenant General Charles Smithson be the senior officer to transfer and take command at Magic One. Both women knew that it was necessary to move friends and holy ones to insure victory but both women had tears when the words were spoken aloud. Both Charles and Eleanor said they would be ready to transfer in a few days with only two requests. Both wanted to return to The Lodge for the Wintersday and New Year's break when possible. As well, Charles wanted supplies and plants to start his own greenhouse, for his own pleasure and to feed the personnel. Eleanor stated that she would never be as talented or efficient as either Luther or Celeste but she wanted to help in the kitchen to feed people. She said her only qualifications were that of a mother of constantly hungry children as they grew. Amanda hugged her friend, stating that more than qualified her to feed Armed Forces personnel. Amanda reiterated that she wanted to confirm plans with the principals but she personally was honored to accept their offer. Laura hugged both her friends , stat ing she too agreed but was missing them already even before they left. Charlie reminded her that they had done the separation thing many times before and would again until Olc had been permanently defeated.

Neither woman mentioned the offer made by Charlie and Eleanor when they dined with their friends. Laura seemed pensive ; her friends understood that both the Lieutenant General and their ancient high priestess was involved now with the future. Morgan and Blaine both hugged Laura as they returned early to their quarters. Blaine stated that she was tired as a certain General was driving her beyond hard to bomb the hell out of anything . She needed to regroup as that same General did not take too kindly to errors. There was a group "Indeed" in response.

Laura and Amanda held each long in the soft caress of the shower before crawling into warmed sheets. Amanda held out arms full of love and solace to her priestess who allowed her vulnerability to come forth. Both women had finally learned that neither needed to be brave for each other all the tim e; both could ask for and take comfort. Amanda did not ask Laura of her concern as she knew she would be told when she needed to be told. Noshi came to both his holy ones with blessings and reassurance that their journeys, indeed the journeys of all the holy ones, were unfolding as they should. He reminded Lohrissa to only remember the victory they had planned. With want more defined than in their herstory Lohrissa came to Aine and the priestesses journeyed long into the night.

The principals met the following day and Amanda reiterated Lieutenant General and Mrs. Smithson's offer to move to take command at Magic One. There was silence for a few moments as everyone knew this was the next permanent stage in their determination to find victory for their brothers and sisters. Chief Administrator Declan McDaniels said he approved entirely with the proposal with only one provision. He stated that it was his pleasure to promote Charles Smithson to the rank of General to share command with General Amanda Bennett. Charles was dumbfounded before return ing a salute as all the officers snapped to attention at Amanda's command. She then walked around the table, shook Charlie's hand ; uncharacteristically in any other Armed Forces command on the planet she hugged her dear friend. Laura then outlined the planned attacks on the bases to the south and west, now under the direction of General Smithson. Lieutenant General Lorimer reported that eight squadron leaders were trained and ready to lead attacks when ordered by Generals Bennett and Smithson. Charles spoke quietly , stating that he would always defer to the decision of Amanda Bennett with whom he had worked for decades ; of whose intelligence in strategy planning he had the utmost respect. Laura stated that Andrew McDaniels had agreed to work in the capacity of senior squadron leader for attacks from the Bennett Base when they were planned. Amanda ordered Serena to continue to teach survivors to fly helicopters and then to bomb the hell out of anything. She also changed the previous plans to have Morgan train as a squadron leader at the Bennett Base, stating that she was needed at The Lodge to receive and redirect munitions to the Railway Bases, Magic One, and future bases as they were raided.

When General Bennett adjourned the meeting, all those at the command centre hugged and congratulated Charles Smithson. It was the definite consensus that no-one deserved the promotion more ; he would be integral in assuring victory. Jeannie left to return with Luther and Mary who offered their congratulations , express ing the familiar sentiment that they would both be missed. Amanda immediately ordered uniforms for the new general and also spoke to Luther, Celeste, and Sally about arranging an evening of celebration and farewell. Laura sent communications to the senior officer at Magic One, notifying her that General and Mrs. Smithson would be arriving and that Charles would be taking command in two weeks.

In light of General Smithson's move to Magic One, no further raids were planned for the ensuing two weeks. The Lodge was blanketed in snow and the quiet of winter as was the Bennett Base and all points north. Jack Stonewall organized more guides and survivors from the harbor sectors were slowly moved to Railway Four and then on to The Lodge, the Bennett Base, the Shipman Base, and the Ravencouer Base. As they recovered, the survivors learned or refined skills to add to those destined to take back their lives. Close to four hundred survivors were found barely eking out subsistence in small groups living along the ocean shores or in the swamp lands. Morgan very efficiently kept supplies constantly on route to Railway Four and Magic One. She worked closely with General Smithson in the days following his promotion to order specific materials he required for his quarters and the greenhouse. When both he and Morgan met with Amanda several days later, they both proposed that the base be ready to house permanent personnel as well as transient pilots to augment battles in the future. Amanda agreed , remind ing Charlie with great affection that he was the boss now as was she; he did not need her approval for his decisions.

Senior pilots flew as weather allowed to Railway Four and returned survivors north. Morgan chided herself as she still saw almost paralyzing rage and sadness as each flight returned with survivors only kept alive by the will of Naofa. Blaine always felt her lover's hur t, understanding it only too well as she had lived that hell for months before she too was rescued. She quietly reminded Morgan that she herself overcame it as well as leading many women to find their own strength and power to fight back. As Blaine held Morgan night after night, she reminded her beautiful priestess that a warrior has many faces, all ultimately mirrored in love.

Rennie Morton became a mother and grandmother to many women escaping from the harbor sectors. She herself was a woman from the islands in the southern ocean, often laughing at herself and her sisters as they all abhorred the cold of winter in the north. Ruthann Smithers continued to coordinate survivors in the new settlements in Siochain to send warm clothing, fabric, and yarn to cloth all the survivors ; in particular those who had never felt the sting of subarctic temperatures. Judith and Sheila had successfully grown a large herd of sheep that provided wool each year to be cleaned, carded, spun, knitted, and woven into warm clothing. Deer were still harvested each fall ; hides were used for clothing as well. The original survivors had almost perfected the art of not wasting anything, Luther McBane supplied the remaining information which allowed all the residents at The Lodge to live well and be self-sufficient. Morgan Downhey did not see herself as a heroine but she was regarded as one by all those who she had sheltered originally and since. Sam Tannenbaum often reminded her of that legacy.

Blaine Jefferson passed her examination to become a bomber pilot again with a perfect score , admitt ing to Amanda Bennett that she quite liked bombing the hell out of anything. Amanda replied that although she was not to tell a soul she really liked it herself.

Sally outdid her best efforts to date with the organization of a dinner and party to honor General and Eleanor Smithson. Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer and Colonel Annette Lemaine flew from the Bennett Base to join their friends in the festivities. Amanda specifically told Sally that this would not be a ruckus but that there would be celebration, food, music, and dancing as well as libations. She also ordered all Armed Forces personnel to attend in dress uniforms.

After dinner at the celebration, General Amanda Bennett officially promoted her old friend Charles Smithson to the rank of General. He took a salute standing tall and handsome in a uniform he never dreamed he would wear. Amanda reminded herself to send a copy on to Ross Shipman with explicit orders to show it to the prisoner Anthony Downs who was still incarcerated at the Ravencouer Base , to remain there until his death. A usually somewhat reserved Eleanor Smithson wept openly as Amanda ordered the salute. She then took her beloved priest in her arms and kissed him long, hard, and full on the mouth, causing a delightful blush to creep across the new General's cheeks. There was silence before cheering broke out ; the mood for the rest of the evening was set. Blaine had not had the occasion to see the senior officers in full dress uniforms , admitt ing that they all did themselves proud. She called back to the day she had been appointed to the police force and the pride she took as she wore her own dress uniform . Luther took dozens of photographs throughout the evening ; later t elling Amanda that it was just as well that he did as otherwise he might have been reduced to tears. Amanda knew we would surely miss his dear friend. General Smithson managed to dance with all of his female friends and even asked Luther to join him for one full turn of the waltz floor, each somehow keeping straight faces until almost the end. Lydia quipped that perhaps that photograph should not be sent on to the chronicles at Sanctuary or even be kept in the diary of The Lodge. She did admit, however, that the two made a dashing couple ; both were kick ass dancers.

Two days following the celebration, General and Eleanor Smithson departed for their new home and life at Magic One. Noshi, Lohrissa, and all the holy ones blessed them with promises to hold them near for eternity. The mood at The Lodge was quiet and somewhat sad as everyone missed both their friends. At dinner, Lydia loudly reminded anyone within hearing distance that those they promised to help would benefit greatly by the Smithson's move ; perhaps that needed to be the ongoing perspective. No-one could ever accuse Lieutenant General Lydia Stenns of reticence.

Twenty-two hundred survivors were rescued ; taken first to Railway Four and then on north. False communications were sent to Central Command, signed by officers' names long dead in previous wars, stating that the harbor sectors were secure and free of insurgents. Once again, the members of the higher echelon of The Decision congratulated themselves on their wise choice of sound Military leaders. When the final survivors were at the base, Jack Stonewall requested that he remain with James and Clarke Norris at Railway Four to assist with any further survivors and men rescued from labor camps. Amanda told him that he was free to live where he chose but suggested that he might be of help at Magic One and to consider that option as well. She stated that the base needed an administrator as once the raids to the south and west started General Smithson would be occupied about two hundred percent of the time. Jack replied to General Bennett two days later , stating he would be happy to help at Magic One. His transfer was arranged.

Raids of small bases along the southwestern ocean shores were carried out readily. Sam and Drew continued to send false information about transfer of staff to bases elsewhere. Sam continued his disgust and complete amazement at how the Military had no idea what was going on in the country they were hired to protect. Drew reminded him that they would notice once the Southern Resistance started taking out the factories and farms making money for The Decision.

Generals Bennett and Smithson began regular conference with the Armed Forces Naval Command from Avalon. Chief Administrator McDaniels had been given total assurance that attack onto the shores would be undertaken by that comman d; coordination needed initiation between the Southern Resistance and Avalon. It was decided that once smaller bases to the north and west of the great river had been raided and cleared, the boat traffic on the river would be stopped. It was also understood that once the attacks began they would continue until victory.

Mother finally allowed awakening at the end of the third month of the New Year just past the celebration of Ostermonat. The principals met and agreed to a schedule of raids from the Bennett Base south and to the west. Sterling and Amelia Carland confirmed with Michael Persone that the few survivors left beyond the mountainous portion of the Great Southwestern City would be rescued by Search and Rescue missions once bases had been established close to them. By Elterra, General Smithson and Lieutenant General Lorimer confirmed that all the bases had been raided and cleared. Drew and Annique reported that there was a larger supply base in the high country. From satellite photographs, it appeared that this was a depot supplying munitions for the Military bases west and south. The principals all agreed that it would be imperative to disable that base before attacks to the west could be safely carried out. The base was approximately two hours slightly south of the wall and west of the Bennett Base. Laura stated that she thought that perhaps a raid using skydivers would be most appropriate so as to keep the large store of munitions for use by the Southern Resistance. There were many survivors in Siochain who were now part of the Armed Forces who jumped during many battles under the command of Laura Ravencouer. Amanda requested temporary transfer of those personnel to a special crew for this mission. The principals all agreed immediately ; Lieutenant General Ravencouer was ordered to detail the raid and report back as quickly as possible.

Amanda appointed a senior pilot to lead the Search and Rescue missions of survivors in the less populated area of the Great Southwestern City . The holy ones would use magic when possible as the most efficacious method of transport. It was also decided that Spero would accompany all missions in order to contact the other holy ones to effect the moving of survivors. The first priority became the raid on the supply base in the high country. Lieutenant General Ravencouer hand-picked all those who she wanted as skydivers including Andrew McDaniels as she knew his expertise. She also requested that Alex Taylor, Luther McBane, and Jeannie Dawson fly with the mission to provide bombing support should it become necessary. General Bennett was keen to participate herself but understood she was needed to lead and could not risk injury or death on the mission. Laura did ask Amanda to pilot along with Lieutenant Generals Lorimer, Maclippe and Stenns, and Sally Palmer, all licensed Search and Rescue pilots able to descend and climb to cloaked altitudes quickly. The plan was set. Sixty-five skydivers would jump in darkness and immediately eliminate the enemy by use of martial arts and weapons as necessary. Sam suggested a brilliant plan to report a catastrophic accident which caused complete destruction of the base. There would be no loss of life according to the communique ; instead the personnel who escaped harm would move to the western harbor base as further support. The false senior officer's suggestions to Central Command included those to move munitions storage to the western harbor over time. The memo stated it was understood that the insurgents were being quickly eliminate d; the Military felt it could remain quiescent. Central Command was in complete agreement.

In preparation for the raid on the depot base, the pilots flew to the Bennett Base for an overnight stay. Flight time to the base in question was about two hours. The skydiving crews had been prepared well by Lieutenant General Lorimer and were ready to carry out the mission. Three bomber pilots were designated to only deploy bombs if the raid was interrupted by Military personnel. The Search and Rescue aircraft were equipped for bombing if necessary but it was the plan to only have them drop personnel and then retrieve them once the Military personnel were killed. Drew McDaniels and Lieutenant General Ravencouer were chosen to be skydiving crew leaders and coordinators. General Bennett, Lieutenant Generals Stenns, Maclippe, and Lorimer, as well as Sally Palmer were chosen as pilots for the skydiving personnel. Alex Taylor, Jeannie Dawson, and Luther McBane were the pilots chosen to fly possible bombing support if needed. A night mission was planned at 2100 hours ; all pilots and crew readied themselves to fly south and west. Annique McDaniels coordinated communications for the mission along with Lynn Chester and Sam Tannenbaum. General Smithson requested a communication link so he could hear the progress of the mission. Every inhabitant at The Lodge, at the four Railway Bases, at Magic One, and half the residents of Siochain offered down constant blessings to the ancients and Naofa for the safety of those going into battle once again.

Annique gave a thirty minute and a ten minute warning. Copilots readied the skydiving crews as the pilots deployed cloaking and descended to altitudes to allow safe jumps. On her Lieutenant General Ravencouer's final command, sixty-five personnel jumped in silen t darkness ; upon landing they started the systemic elimination of the enemy by the use of martial arts and weapons. Sector leaders reported progress to both Drew and Laura as the Military personnel attempted defense to no avail. In less than two hours, all sector leaders reported there were no survivors on the base. When reports from sector leaders reported all were in place, Amanda , Lydia , Barbara, Serena, and Sally descended and the systematic retrieval of skydivers took place. Four hours after the commencement of the mission, Lieutenant General Ravencouer commanded that all pilots climb to a safe altitude. The munitions would be harvested to be used by the Southern Resistance against those who had originally purchased them. The mission was a success with no loss of Southern Resistance or Siochain lives. She quietly and joyfully congratulated the entire crew for a job well don e; with that the crew returned to the Bennett Base. A voice from Magic One could be heard stating "well done Commander Ravencouer, well done" and over all the airways a "Roger that!"

After a day's rest, the pilots returned to The Lodge to be greeted with congratulations and relief by every resident. A small base directly west of the depot was then targeted as both a Railway base and another reconnaissance base. The raid was planned for one week after the depot raid. General Bennett directed that Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer command the raid with assistance from senior officers and a squadron of bomber pilots led by Drew McDaniels. With the success of that mission, Search and Rescue type rescues of any remaining survivors in the densely populated area of the Great Southwestern City could be undertaken. The raid was carried out successfully , reported to both General Bennett and General Smithson.

The principals then met to start planning the attack on the ships and boats on the great river as well as factories and large farms. Michael Persone reported that save for unknown small enclaves there were few survivors in the densely populated Great Southwestern City . There were, however, many labor camps and to his estimation at least hundreds of men being held captive and only subsisting in them. The small base most recently raided could be easily adapted as both a Railway Base and a reconnaissance base. It was close to a mountain pass through which pilots could fly easily both on attack and rescue missions. There was room for both permanent personnel; it was only just over two hours from the Bennett Base. Declan directed Generals Bennett and Smithson to appoint officers to move permanently to take command of that base. Attention was turned to establishing a time line for the final Search and Rescue missions in the Great Southwestern City . Michael Persone estimated that less than one thousand survivors needed transport to that base. Amanda stated she would coordinate rescue missions with Lieutenant General Lorimer, senior pilots, and medics at the Bennett Base immediately. She also asked that Morgan aid Captain Matthew Brandon at the Bennett Base with coordination of food, clothing, and supplies to that base. Declan decided that the base would officially be named Magic Two. Captain Tristan was given locations of known labor camps from information supplied by Michael Persone. Spero reported to Amanda that his crews systematically rescued men from camps in the east, south, and midwest. He stated that their efforts could be increased by the addition of more pilots and Declan, Amanda, and Charlie immediately agreed and arranged for transfer of trained pilots from the Carriere Base and the Shipman Base. Amanda adjourned the meeting with a request to meet again in five days hence.

The planning of attacks and assault to end the insanity was now in the final stages. New students and new pilots trained every day ; pushed to expertise quickly and assuredly. Spero and his crews regularly rescued men from labor camps and as information became more available more men were taken to the Bennett Base, the Shipman Base and Ravencouer for training as pilots. Roy Crosby increased the number of truckers transporting munitions to the base just north of the lake to be then flown almost daily to The Lodge and the Bennett Base. General Smithson aided the rescue of survivors from the Great Southwestern City with support and temporary lodging at Magic Two. Sterling , Amelia, and Annique lost contact with Michael Persone just prior to the last group rescued by the Search and Rescue teams. One of the more senior Southern Resistance fighters told his rescuers that Michael had perished in an attack used to provide a diversion when the last survivors ran to the checkpoint for transportation by magic. He reported that except for walled and secure enclaves within the populated area and the huge western harbor most of the remaining city lay in ruins.

The day following the last known survivors being rescued from the Great Southwestern City , Amanda met with the principals and stated the next phase of the assault would start. General Smithson had squadrons prepared to start regular bombing raids on ships and boats leaving the great river delta moving north. Andrew McDaniels had squadrons ready to attack ships on the great river from the north to the south. Generals Bennett and Smithson had had almost daily communications with the Navy command from Avalon who were waiting offshore , ready to start attacks on all harbors. Amanda and Charlie reported squadrons of bomber pilots ready to provide air support to those ships from Avalon upon their simultaneous assaults. Lieutenant Generals Ravencouer, Lorimer, Stenns, and Maclippe were then commanded to start immediate attacks on air fields supplying the Military and civilian populations. Amanda reminded everyone that their first attack would be the only unexpected one and from those onward to the future the battles would become increasingly severe and would surely take more lives. Roy Crosby organized transport to the munitions depot around the clock as did Morgan who directed flights to bring bombs to The Lodge and the Bennett Base. Daily flights continued to take munitions to Magic One and Magic Two.

Amanda requested that Spero Tristan be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was directed to continue leading crews to rescue men from labor camps. The Decision ruled over a much greater expanse of land south of the wall and there were many more pilots in the Military with which the Southern Resistance would have to battle. Skeleton crews were left at the Carriere Base, the Shipman Base, and the Ravencouer Base and all other available pilots were moved to the Bennett Base to ready themselves for an ongoing assault. After final coordination with the Navy personnel and ships from Avalon a date for the first assault was se t for four days after the meeting.

Chapter 18

The mood at The Lodge became somber as all residents prepared themselves to start the final fight to victory. No-one had illusions of no injuries ; all understood there would be significant loss of life. Sally, Jeannie, Luther, Frannie, and Cora were all directed to fly solo bombing flights with each senior officer leading. Dr. Gordon and the crew of medics prepared the infirmary at The Lodge to treat injured as did Dr. Thomas at the Bennett Base and Dr. Dobson at Sanctuary. Alex Taylor was given the task of coordinating pilots and aircraft to transport the injured to the northern bases as well as constantly moving personnel to the Bennett Base and The Lodge. Amanda had to order Morgan to stop her almost constant work of coordinating the movement of munitions, stating that she was a bomber pilot , nee ding at least some rest before the first assault. General Bennett then appointed senior personnel to take on the task of moving munitions.

In the nights prior to the first assault, the holy ones held their lovers. Each had their own communication with Noshi and a growing understanding of what would be expected of them. Morgan and Blaine had not fought in the battles for Siochain but both were very old priestesses; almost minute by minute each woman remembered the herstory with resolve to save their beloved earthlings one more time from the evils of Olc. Charlie retreated to his already burgeoning reaction in his new greenhouse. He sat quietly and drew down to his friend Noshi with whom he had travelled from the beginning spiral of the helix. Charles Smithson took peace and joy from Mother's constant promise of new life as seen with new seeds sprouting and quickly giving forth sustenance for other living things. Curran understood the renewal of eternity. Curran did not often ask for blessings bestowed on him from the ancients, from Noshi, from Lohrissa. Charles loved Eleanor ; Curran believed that he had met his eternal mate although she was not yet a priestess. Before Charles Smithson had formulated a final conscious thought, both Noshi and Lohrissa promised his eternal mating with his beloved Eleanor when they both returned to the helix. Eleanor was an old ancient having returned to earth many times, each time giving more of her soul and her love to their beloved earthlings. Lohrissa promised her dear holy one that Eleanor would be appointed as the priestess Eilene, the bringer of light.

Laura softly spoke the name of Eilene as she lay quietly in Amanda's arms. Amanda did not hear well , ask ing her to repeat what she had said. Laura said that Lohrissa was thinking out loud. She told her lover that Eleanor Smithson would be anointed as the priestess Eilene when she returned to Naofa. She explained that Curran had asked that she be his eternal mate as he believed that they had known each other for many spirals of the helix and he loved her. Amanda remained silent for several minutes as she grew in her personal understanding that their lives among their beloved brothers and sisters were changing quickly. Somewhere at her core she knew the changes would stop being constant and become permanent.

Blaine Jefferson continued to marvel each day as the depth of her love for Morgan Downhey grew. Alesta gave down thanks to her ancients continually for leading her to her beloved Iobairt, the one who she would travel through eternity. She remained in awe of her powerful priestess Iobairt as her strength grew almost minute by minute before her eyes. All the holy ones understood they were in for a definitive battle coming quickly ; Iobairt was readying herself to lead them all.

Lydia and Barbara found their long familiar journeys to the ancients and the multiverse. Lemanychia cherished her beloved Briallen with whom she have travelled for eons of spirals and would for eternity. The usual brash Lydia Stenns lost all her swagger as she held her beautiful Barbara, each woman touching tangible love with the other. Lemanychia was a seer , having travelled with Lemanychia since the split of the universe. She knew well of the evil they would batt le. She knew also of the joy she would find again with Briallen when they finally walked once again through the portal to be greeted by Noshi and all the ancients. Both women had a great sense of calm and resolve as each understood the permanency to come. Their destinies with this journey were being fulfilled.

The time of 0400 hours was chosen for the naval and air raids on all harbors and the traffic on the great river. Each bombing squadron was readied with final instructions given by the senior officers and the squadron leaders. It was decided that at 0600 hours the first assault air fields. Each senior officer was chosen to lead a crew of six pilots and a squadron of ten more. Lydia , Luther, and Sally flew to the Bennett Base the morning before the assault to attack air fields west of the great river with Serena's crew and squadron. Barbara and Laura would lead crews with Morgan, Blaine, and Jeannie to attack east of the great river. Each leader was instructed to attack large air fields supplying both the Military and the public ; each understood that there would be nothing remaining when they were done.

General Amanda Bennett assumed complete command for all the assaults , lost in those plans for two days prior to the assault. Crews supporting the navy of Avalon and attacks on the southern and western harbors were on standby at Magic One and Magic Two. General Smithson would fly in a squadron and also direct the attacks on the river traffic in coordination with the assaults on the southern harbor. Jack Stonewall had learned quickly how to use the communication syste m support ing the liaison at Magic One. Annique took control of communication at Magic Two and the Bennett Base. Lynn and Sam remained their ever brillia nt competent selves at The Lodge. General Bennett ordered all pilots to cease other duties as of 1200 hours on the day prior to the attack in order to rest, take nourishment, and center their thoughts with blessings from Naofa. Laura knew she was right but hated to leave her lover in the command post and after two hours came back to find her. She reminded the General that she too would be awake from the time the first pilots left their bases and she needed the same rest and blessings.

The residents at The Lodge including Blaine and Morgan remained in awe of the calm and strength of the priests and priestesses along with those who had fought in the former battles at Siochain. There was an unspoken indisputable understanding that nothing short of victory for this assault could be considered. Laura walked to the water's edge , st anding quietly with Noshi who reassured her that the plan was unfolding as it should. She knew there would be loss of lif e; they all knew. Although Lohrissa would add to her eternal burden of all those lives she would take, Noshi and the ancients now allowed all the holy ones to share the hurt and the healing. Laura now understood at her core that each soul taken back to Naofa was one more victory over Olc, one that was destined.

Amanda returned to her suite and promptly fell into a sleep of exhaustion. Laura brought dinner trays to their quarters before gently w aking her lover. Laura too was tired ; immediately after eating she fell asleep with a request to be awakened when Amanda returned to the command centre at 0200 hours. The airfield slated for Laura's attack was at the southern portion of the populated area of the Great Southeastern City and the flight time was slightly less than two hours. Her aircraft was prepared ; she inspected all the munitions in all of the aircraft in her squadron and crew earlier in the day. They planned takeoff at 0400 hours.

Celeste, Mary, and Rennie coordinated constant availability of nourishment in the dining room for the duration of the attacks. Rennie made it a personal mission to feed General Bennett even if she had to restrain the woman to do that, warning Amanda of the same.

Amanda Bennett returned to the command centre at 0200 hours ; not surprised to find both Lynn and Sam already working. Communications were established with the navy command of Avalon as well as with the Bennett Base, Magic One, and Magic Two. The squadrons of bomber pilots from the Southern Resistance supporting the Avalon navy were in the air and awaiting General Bennett's command to start the air attack. Although the airways were quiet, Amanda knew that Declan, Ross, Amelia, and Sterling were awaiting her command as well. The pilots designated to attack airfields were in the air on route to their specific targets at the correct hours. There was a hush in all the bases as the clocks silently counted down the hour to begin. At 0330 hours the Avalon naval commander reported that his ships were in position and readying themselves for the initial volley. At precisely 0400 hours, the first of many missiles were launched at all three harbors ; at 0415 General Amanda Bennett gave the command for the air attack to begin. Subsequent communications consisted of reports by pilots of both aircraft and vessels. General Smithson and Andrew McDaniels led squadrons of bomber pilots who attacked all the barges, boats, and ships travelling north and south on the great river. At the end of those attacks, all vessels were disabled, ablaze, and quickly finding the river bottom. The Military managed to launch a counterattack at 0500 hours but it was completely ineffective as all three harbors were rendered inoperable with all ships sunk. The bomber pilots successfully thwarted attacks from the pilots in the Military ; several aircraft were downed.

At 0600 hours, the attacks on four major airfields commenced with the command by General Bennett. There was negligible Military interference due to the element of complete surprise and an early morning raid. Each senior officer commanded that the airfields be reduced to rubble prior to the completion of the attacks. When each officer declared an all clear and a successful mission, General Bennett commanded the pilots to return to their bases.

At 0800 hours the Avalon naval commander reported to both General Bennett and General Smithson that no further enemy fire had been encountered ; the pilots reported that the harbors had been bombed to rubble. The Avalon navy then retreated to beyond easy counterattack distance ; the commander declared the mission a success. General Bennett then commanded the pilots to return to their bases. She quietly declared that the first assault had been undertaken with no reported loss of Southern Resistance lives. There was silence and then congratulations from and to all those who had taken part accompanied by repeats of "Roger that!"

Rennie brought coffee and breakfast to General Bennett , telling her she was expected to finish all of it or have it forced down her throat. Amanda smiled, saluted her dear friend, and set about eating. She thought back over the events of her life, her career, and realized she had become the general she always knew she could be. She journeyed down to the ancients , met by a smiling Noshi who gently replied "well done Commander Bennett, well done".

The bomber pilots returned to The Lodge and the Bennett Base to be greeted with cheers and congratulations. Lydia , Luther, and Sally planned on a day's rest with a return to The Lodge the following morning. After the post flight check lists and congratulations to her crew and squadron, once again Laura walked to the water's edge to be welcomed by ravens circling above. She gave down thanks to her ancients for the protection of the earthlings and for the gathering of souls from the lives they had taken. All the holy ones knew the hurt ; all bore it but all also loved their most ancient high priestess Lohrissa and shared both the agony and the joy with her. As tired as Amanda was, she walked to the water's edge to take her lover in her arms as they both walked through the pain to the other side. Both women then returned to their suite in the annex for a much deserved rest.

Blaine and Morgan held each other's hands as they found Barbara and hugged thanks into her. All three women were exhausted ; after Celeste had bullied breakfast into them they returned to the annex for rest. Barbara's arms ached for Lydia but she knew her lover to be safe ; they would hold each other in the morrow. Jeannie paced the tarmac as was her usual routine after a battle. She needed Sally beside her. She reminded herself to tell Amanda that she didn't mind being in separate aircraft but since she was not Armed Forces and neither was her lover she expected them to fly in the same squadrons from this point forward. Amanda returned to the command centre after minimal hours of rest. Lynn reported that Declan requested contact with both General Bennett and General Smithson. With that, Lynn contacted Jack Stonewall at Magic One; Amanda met with Charles and Declan. The Chief Administrator from Avalon reported to Declan that he had received no communication from The Decision. Declan had no communication from them as well. After the defeat of their counterparts in Siochain and Avalon, trade had not been carried out with The Decision south of the wall. There were still trading agreement with the Dark Continent and the Far East although Sterling and Amelia reported that resistance forces in both areas were mounting growing attacks interfering with business. The Decision had steadily but incorrectly assumed that their size and wealth made them a leader on the planet. Both Declan and his counterpart in Avalon believed that with the defeat south of the border, there would be no continued support for misguided oligarchy in smaller nations on earth. Amanda and Charles reminded Declan that they needed to continue attacks quickly and onward to the future to disallow the Military to regroup. There were still dozens of major airfields to render inoperable as well as larger Military bases, factories, and farms. Amanda suggested that they designate crews to systematically destroy overland routes to stop movement of munitions and supplies at the same time as airfields were being attacked. Everyone clearly understood that there would be resistance from the Military from this point forward with lives and aircraft being lost.

Lydia , Luther, and Sally returned to The Lodge the following day. Amanda called a meeting for midafternoon with the senior officers. She congratulated everyone on work extremely well done. Lieutenant General Ravencouer then outlined the next attacks on the next eighteen airfields led by the senior officers and Drew McDaniels. The attacks would be carried out over the course of nine days, six at one time, in all sectors. Jeannie Dawson and Sally Palmer would fly to Magic One , remaining there for the duration of the attacks led by Charlie Smithson. Drew McDaniels and Serena Lorimer would fly to Magic Two , attack ing airfields in the northern and western sectors of the Great Southwestern City . Laura Ravencouer, Lydia Stenns, and Barbara Maclippe would attack the largest remaining airfields in the Great Southeastern City . The first attacks were planned for three days' time.

Laura met with Sally and Jeannie and directed them to fly immediately to Magic One. Alex Taylor was asked to fly as a crew chief for Serena Lorimer's squadrons , agree ing to meet all the pilots at Magic Two. Drew McDaniels chose senior pilots to act as his crew chiefs. Blaine Jefferson, Morgan Downhey, and Luther McBane were asked to act as crew chiefs for squadrons led by Laura , Lydia , and Barbara.

Sally and Jeannie departed from The Lodge at 0600 hours the following morning and arrived to be greeted by Charlie and Eleanor Smithson at midday. Both women were tired and after a visit and nutrition they found showers, passion, and hours of sleep in readying for a night raid on a major airfield serving the southern harbor sectors of both the Great Southeastern City and Great Southwestern City . General Bennett and Lieutenant Generals Ravencouer, Stenns, Maclippe, and Lorimer confirmed exact coordinates for all of the squadrons and relayed the information to the pilots and the communications centers. Morgan sent the last of the necessary munitions to Magic One and Magic Two as three separate raids were planned on three separate nights. The time of 0400 hours was chosen for the first raid, 0100 hours for the second raid, and 2300 hours for the third raid. General Bennett wanted no sense of order established for the Military, stating that constant confusion was a real tactic.

Sam, Annique, and Lynn continued to intercept communications between Central Command of the Military, the large bases, and The Decision. Generals Bennett and Smithson directed that continued confusion be maintained as well as completely false directives and replies. After the harbor, airfield, and river attacks, The Decision was reassured that the situation was controlled quickly ; plans to rebuild by the Military engineers were already in place. Further Military personnel were directed from the major bases to the inner cores of both the Great Southeastern City and the Great Southwestern City in false communiqués from Central Command and The Decision as defense against more naval attacks. Sam and Annique insured that no true communications were sent or received regarding the perpetrators of the attack. In reality, the naval command from Avalon was moving to new positions along the coastline for the next attack on smaller harbors, Military bases, and safe enclaves of those supporting The Decision. With Sterling Carland's assistance, all satellite images seen by the Military of The Decision were permanently and effectively scrambled such that they would never see ships offshore.

Once again, the pilots were directed to stop working at 1200 hours and to rest until the designated time of takeoff. Joyce Stanton insisted that Lynn and Sam rest as well as they would be at the command center all night. She told them both to find lovers and sleep, stating the command was simply not negotiable. Amanda and Laura gathered the other in arms full of love as warm water caressed both. Each woman found new depths of love with journeys to the ancients and the multiverse as did all the holy ones. Before drifting off to sleep, Amanda advised Laura she was about to talk to Declan about appointing a senior officer to take command of The Lodge as the time was drawing very near when she would be needed to be one of those pilots leading an attack. Laura quietly agreed; both priestesses knew there were great changes coming.

Aircraft, munitions, and pilots were ready and at the designated time General Bennett commanded that they fly to the airfields and await the command to begin the attack. Each pilot flew at an altitude not needing cloaking in order to save energy and as Lynn, Annique, and Jack gave thirty minute warning each senior officer commanded deployment of cloaking and readying of munitions. When all pilots were in position, General Bennett gave a five minute warning and then at 0400 hours the raid on six major airfields commenced. Again, there was little resistance due to miscommunications expertly carried out by Sam, Lynn , and Annique, as well as the night time hour of the raid. Each airfield was again reduced to rubble and when the senior officers reported a successful mission, General Bennett commanded the pilots to return to their bases. She quietly and very proudly thanked all of them. At the end of her communication there was a soft "Roger that!"

Noshi met Lohrissa at the water's edge when Laura returned. Both knew there would soon by a greater attack by the minions but Noshi reassured Laura it would be to their definite advantage at the end of the fight. There were no silver chains wrapped around Laura Ravencouer's heart for these battles . She saw the outcome through Lohrissa's eyes and soul. She simply gave down blessings , ask ing the grandfather for continued love and support as she knew they would all need it in the days to come. Laura returned to the main building and sought out Amanda who was being bullied into breakfast once again. Laura joined her as did Barbara and Lydia , all women quiet with exhaustion. Laura took Amanda's hand and led her to the annex, the shower, warm linens, and loving arms as both women fell into sleep with peace given by Noshi.

Sam, Lynn, and Annique continued to relay false communications to Central Command, The Decision, and the Military bases. Sam continued to be beyond disgusted as how ego and chicanery were the mainstays of philosophy and direction for those few who had been allowed to take power. It was clearly the mandate of The Decision to insure their own wealth and wellbeing at the expense of all other lives they promised falsely to lead and protect.

The next raid was carried out on six more major airfields, this time met with some resistance by Military presence. In total, five pilots and helicopters were lost, two in the squadrons led by Lieutenant General Ravencouer which resulted in almost instant retaliation by both Luther McBane and Lydia Stenns. General Bennett quietly reminded all the crews to leave nothing standing and no-one breathing. When the crews returned to their bases, Sam Tannenbaum left the command centre ; after a walk to the lake he sobbed his anger and grief. Born of those was his final determination to do whatever he needed to do in order to honor the lives of all those who had died due to the insanity of apathy and greed. Before Generals Bennett and Smithson acquiesced to hunger and fatigue, each contacted the families of those who had lost their lives insuring one closer step to victory and freedom for their brothers and sisters dying of oppression. Lydia , Barbara, Amanda, Laura, Blaine , and Luther all sat down in the almost complete silence of fatigue and grief as they took breakfast . All returned to beds for renewal of bodies and souls.

Three nights later, the last of the planned attacks on major airfields took place with only two helicopters and pilots being lost, all in the western sector. A usually quiet and always professional Lieutenant Colonel Serena Lorimer returned to the Bennett Base and in communication with all bases yelled her rage at the senseless loss of life. She was silent for several moments and then in a deadly quiet voice promised all who heard her that they would beat back the bastards and free all her brothers and sisters. Serena Lorimer was an old ancient who had fought Olc many times in the past and would again; thankfully she had no recall. Lohrissa and Noshi both knew that upon her return to Naofa she would be anointed as the priestess Boduah, one who guides all in loyalty.

Chapter 19

Amanda met with the principals four days after the last raid on major airfields and tabled a full report including loss of lives and equipment. The mood was somber but Chief Administrator McDaniels offered his congratulations and thanks for all those who made the assaults happen. Both Generals Smithson and Bennett reinforced that the tempo of the attacks had to be escalated in order to give the Military no time to regroup. Roy Crosby was consulted and helped to devise a plan to stop overland transportation south of the wall. Ross Shipman was asked to lead that initiative ; he already started to direct crews of pilots to bomb major highways and bridges. Lieutenant Colonel Sean Taylor volunteered to lead the pilots on each raid. Louiza Shipman became the temporary coordinator of new housing settlements as they grew in Siochain. General Bennett immediately requested that Sean Taylor be promoted to the rank of full Colon el; Declan immediately agreed.

The naval command from Avalon was in position to lead a second attack on smaller harbors along all coasts, some of which were close to major Military bases. The principals agreed that the next air assaults would support those naval attacks on six harbors and bases. General Bennett then requested that Captains Debra Baxter and Patricia Langley be transferred from their teaching positions at the Ravencouer Base to The Lodge where they would be taught to assume command with support by Sam Tannenbaum and Lynn Chester. She stated firmly that the time for her to take her role as a pilot was coming very quickly. She reassured the group that the senior officers had worked with both women for many years ; both had been initially taught as pilots by Lieutenant General Stenns and then as instructors by both General Smithson and Lieutenant General Ravencouer. Declan stated that he could see no better qualifications and agreed immediately with the transfer ,

Plans for the naval attack on the smaller harbors and Military bases were finalized for four days from the meeting. Both Captains Langley and Baxter agreed to the transfer with plan s to fly aircraft first to the Bennett Base and then on to The Lodge to arrive the day before the assaults. Both also were promoted immediately to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Each understood that they would work closely with Amanda Bennett as she coordinated the naval attacks with the hopes that in the near future they would take temporary command with the help of Sam and Lynn. Mary and Rennie readied Morgan's former suite in the annex for Debra an d Patricia,

Sally and Jeannie remained at Magic One, both becoming crew chiefs for the squadrons led by General Smithson. They prepared themselves once again to fly bombing missions, this time on a large Military base close to a smaller harbor east of the former large harbor now completely disabled. Sterling and Amelia learned that The Decision was now diverting ships to be unloaded at smaller harbors. Sam and Lynn made sure that The Decision was told that the Military bases were well equipped and ready to defend their interests. In turn, the Military was told that The Decision was continuing to move personnel to the larger bases to thwart any further attacks. While working closely with both Amelia and Sterling , Ross Shipman and Colonel Sean Taylor laid plans and then systemically destroyed overland transportation routes to and from all six bases. Generals Smithson and Bennett planned raids on smaller Military bases within days of the six larger ones being disabled for insurance that personnel continued to disappear and with Archie Granger's help more long-dead personnel names were given to Central Command as part of strategic transfer.

Lieutenant Colonels Baxter and Langley worked closely with General Bennett on the day prior to the early morning attacks on the six smaller harbors. They were introduced to the naval commander from Avalon ; it was explained that in the near future they would remain at The Lodge while General Bennett flew missions. Amanda reassured both women that both Sam Tannenbaum and Lynn Chester would do most of the communicating with the bases ; she would also take command of the missions while she was in the air, before and after bombing. She humbly stated that she was able to do that when they flew support in the Northern Resistance battles ; the pilots with whom she would be flying were all exceptional at what they did best, that of bombing the hell out of anything.

The coordinated raids on the smaller harbors by the naval command of Avalon at sea and the Southern Resistance in the air was carried out quickly resulting in complete destruction of harbors and Military bases. With the attack by the ships of Avalon, there was little defense the Military could mount ; there was no loss of life or equipment. At the next meeting of the principals General Bennett reported on the mission , thank ing all those who had worked to accomplish another step towards victory. Colonel Taylor reported that his crews were systematically destroying overland routes thereby stopping movement of goods and munitions to Military bases and the compounds housing members of The Decision. Sterling and Amelia spoke of ominous reports of the storage of poisons and gas to be released in the event of a massive attack and to stop any great insurgence. Declan immediately asked if they had locations determined ; Sterling reported that they were working with Intelligence and Espionage from Avalon with expectations to have coordinates confirmed in several days. The holy ones remained silent as each understood that Olc was coming closer to the fore of these battles with the magnitude of attack and defense was growing hourly. Lieutenant General Ravencouer asked to report back on a plan for defense once she had met with the senior officers, the holy ones, and after she had time to commune with Noshi. Declan started to exclaim fear ; Laura quietly reassured him that Lohrissa and Noshi would meet quietly at the water's edge. She reminded all that she had gone to plan with him and had returned very much aware. Amanda then adjourned the meeting.

Sally and Jeannie returned to The Lodge. They had been missed and were happy to be back at their home. There was a small break in the battles planned as Sterling and Amelia were gathering information about The Decision's weapons of mass destruction. Blaine and Morgan organized a small welcoming gathering in their suite to finally get to know Debra Baxter and Patricia Langley who were known to the other officers. Laura rested and then spent many hours at the water's edge with Noshi, confirming the plans they had made at the portal months before. Noshi reminded her she could not allow her heart to become heavy with the events that would be played out. She agreed , ask ing for as much respite as possible for her holy ones and all her beloved earthlings. Noshi promised comfort as it could be given. He did tell his most ancient high priestess that those who had been rescued and who were learning to fight back were learning the price of apathy and greed. He promised Laura that they would win and take back their lives as had happened since the beginning spiral of the helix. For the first time, Noshi told Laura of more beings who were in need of the help, love, and further guidance of the ancients and the holy ones. She smiled, telling Noshi that Lohrissa was very much aware but she did hope that they could at least catch their holy breaths before aiding again. Noshi whispered a soft comment in return.

With the few days away from the preparation for raids and then the attacks themselves, the atmosphere at The Lodge lightened. Luther returned to his jolly efficient self, often seen holding, hugging, and kissing his beloved Mary. Frannie was forgiven for taking many minutes away from her work maintaining aircraft to steal time with Lynn in the command centre. Sam took many walks by the water with Cora, both happy to share moments of quiet together. Blaine chastised Morgan but only lovingly as she tried to return to her former duties of moving supplies and munitions. The senior personnel member smiled, telling her that pilots did not do that work; she needed to get her head around just being a pilot and staying alive. Barbara did supervise routine maintenance but knew that Frannie Benson had become very adept at not only carrying maintenance herself but also in leading and teaching others to do so as well. Lydia helped Laura and Amanda with planning of further raids.

Laura met with the holy ones the day before the welcoming for Debra and Patricia. There was no real need to tell them that their lives were about to change significantly but she did want to insure that they were all aware of the next chain of events. All knew of the weapons of mass destruction, of the poison and gas that could be used on all their beloved earthlings. They all knew this was directed by Olc ; the holy ones needed to stop it. Laura quietly told them that it would come at a cost that they would bear and use to their advantage as directed by Noshi and the ancients. She did not mention that there were beings elsewhere that were growing in their need for intervention, love, and guidance. She knew when they were directed they would all understand. Each holy one gave down blessings to their ancients and their beloved most high priestess. There was a quiet resolve among all of them that their destinies were unfolding as they should.

Sally managed to have a supply of good wine, champagne, beer, and spirits flown from the bar at Carriere to the Bennett Base. Serena Lorimer and Annette Lemaine flew the libations to The Lodge on the morning of the welcoming. Both women knew Debra and Patricia from their time working together at the Carriere Base and everyone was looking forward to an evening of relaxation and being slightly outrageous. Spero and Lisa thanked both Morgan and Blaine for the invitation but declined, apologizing for personal reasons. Luther was quieter than his usual jolly self ; when asked if he was alright he said he missed Charlie and Eleanor as this would be the first celebration with them not in their midst. Laura hugged her friend , telling him to remember that they would always be with their spirits.

Blaine and Morgan invited Sam and Cora to join them for the welcoming of Debra and Patricia. Sam had long adjusted to all the women loving women among him , finding his own love to sustain him. He did admit, however, that he still had a crush on Barbara Maclippe, told her, and said he always would. Lydia , Laura, Amanda, and Morgan all reassured him that he had very good taste in women as they all loved Barbara and Cora. Each woman took great care to dress for their lovers and their friends, in tribute, in fun, and to get out of boring uniforms. Debra and Patricia remembered Ostermonat celebrations at Lydia 's and Barbara's ranch when they were first promoted to the ranks of Captain ; they too dressed for each other and their friends. Sally settled back to her loved role as bartender; Rennie continued to bully food into everyone present. Judith glowed in love with the woman , stating the power of ordering the bosses around now made her a challenge but she was just the woman to match that. That remarked got a round of applause and a kiss long, hard, and full on the mouth. Morgan always smiled when she saw great affection from women older than her grandmother. Blaine said she celebrated that every day , flash ing her lover one of many wicked grins. Debra quietly asked Blaine what the requirements now were in order to be shut up. Blaine smiled and told her to ask Amanda if Laura remained as lovely as she was due to good loving. Debra giggled, walked up to the General, and asked her that question directly. Amanda stifled a giggle and remained with a stern facies. Laura handed Amanda her glass of wine, stood up slowly, walked to Lieutenant Colonel Baxter, took the woman in her arms, kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth, and then barked "Shut up!" in her very best Lieutenant General voice. Lydia stood quickly to catch Debra due to the expected reaction of buckled knees. Laura smiled and then asked Patricia if she needed hushing as well. Patricia told Laura she was absolutely correct ; she too had to be caught by Blaine due to buckled knees. Amanda kissed her lover after she handed her wine back , hop ing the women never lost that art. Laura whispered it was due to good loving which caused the infamous Amanda moan. Barbara then reminded them it was too early to get a room ; they would need to behave. Debra stated she surmised that not much had changed; Lydia smiled and told her that actually it had quite significantly but there would be time to tell that tale later. All friends enjoyed the company of those they loved throughout the night. Before she left for the night, Amanda suggested that the command centre find itself empty until at least the midday meal the following day. She received no argument.

Amanda and Laura returned to their suite. It seemed like three lifetimes since they had found a night of passion. Laura took her lover to the shower and as the warm water caressed both women Lohrissa called Aine to a journey of crashing desire. Both priestesses heard the closure call from Noshi and the ancients, one that would take them home to the helix once again. They both knew that they would travel for eternity ; that knowledge growing clearer broke beyond earthling boundaries. In the past, each woman had tried to protect the other from the point of shatter but there was no need now ; a journey to naught took them now as it did at their first mating, as it would forever. Hours later Laura found her earth voice , promising Amanda that their love would only deepen and grow from this day on. Amanda was no longer frightened that her beloved Laura would be lost to the victory as she understood at her core that the two were as one for eternity.

Briallen took Lemanychia on their own journeys beyond shatter, they too understanding that a new call from Noshi was beckoning. Lydia wept in Barbara's arms as she asked if her lover was frightened. Barbara kissed tears from Lydia 's cheeks , telling her that she would be with her beloved Lemanychia until the last spiral of the helix as she had been for eternity. She reminded Lydia that they had spent time on both sides of the portal ; she did not fear. Both women then gave down thanks for their union and reunion.

Sally found passion yet and again with her beloved Jeannie who continued to wonder at the joy of women loving women. She quietly remembered the time when she used to sit with Amanda and Laura watching the love they had for each other, thinking it was because they were holy ones ; realizing now that it was because they were women. She remembered the first time Sally Palmer kissed her with the electricity surging through her core. She lay with her head on Sally's breast , talk ing of the first time they had found passion. She had always told her lover that she had never come close to that feeling in her life before that moment ; she was still in awe each time they took each to the ancients and the multiverse. Sally gently kissed her lover's brow and told her she also was in awe, always had been and trusted she always would be. Sally told her beloved that no matter what outcome of the battles she would love her for eternity, either here or on the helix. Jeannie sat up, looked Sally right in the eye, and told her they would return to the coast. She then told Sally that when they did she planned to take the medicine to reverse the vaccine and grow old naturally. Sally was quiet for several moments before admitt ing that she wanted to do exactly the same thing. Neither woman knew that this was at the direction of both Lohrissa and Noshi. Both women would be needed to travel with their sister priestesses to the galaxies that needed them. Sally would become the priestess Briogh; Jeannie would be the priestess Neamh.

Blaine and Morgan fell asleep immediately after tidying from the gathering of their friends. Morgan woke her lover before dawn with a journey to the ancients and the multiverse. They too no longer feared the point of shatter as earthlings a s took each other to naught. Both were old priestesses, had seen many battles, and did not fear the destinies of Naofa. Both knew they would travel on to help other beings who needed love and guidance.

The afternoon following the welcoming, work resumed at The Lodge as usual. Serena and Annette flew back to the Bennett Base with plans being made for more raids on air fields and Military bases. Amanda arranged to meet with the principals in two days as Sterling notified her they had coordinates for the stored poisons and gases. Laura remained very quiet for the day and into the evening, hardly speaking to her friends over dinner. Everyone except for Amanda and Lydia assumed she was tired from the battles and late nights. In fact, Laura had an unmistaken, extremely strong sense of foreboding, one that would lead the holy ones to battle the minions in their hardest battle on this journey to earth. Lemanychia was a seer and knew that a huge battle was upon them soon. Amanda knew that Laura was with Lohrissa and Noshi; she could only walk with her to the outcome. Laura and Amanda returned to their suite immediately following dinner, showered, and Amanda took Laura in her arms to hold her in comfort and in love, giving the solace of Aine with the promise of eternity.

Work continued as usual the following morning. Suddenly, both Sam and Lynn received an urgent Mayday messages from Jack Stonewall before communication was lost. The holy ones were screaming as Lohrissa directed them all to the water's edge. Each saw the horrors at Magic One. Charlie Smithson was in his greenhouse and suddenly darkness descended through the morning sunlight. Fire and lightening rained down as the glass shattered and flew cutting his body in tiny shreds. All the other earthlings were paralyzed and could only watch the torture as the minions attacked. Lohrissa, Aine, Lemanychia, Briallen, Lughe, Iobairt, Alesta, and Doakus met the attacks as Lohrissa demanded that they leave the earthling and the holy one. Lemanychia cast spells of healing and Iobairt cast spells of strength to no avail. The holy ones drove the minions Tnemelc, Sivad, Nworb, and Sirrah back to the hell of Olc but the senior minion Ytrehalf continued the attack of fire, wind, and lightening. Charlie Smithson was quickly losing his battle ; Noshi appeared to gather his soul before it could be captured. As he walked with Curran back through the portal to Naofa, the holy ones summoned power to fragment the minion and scatter him to the myriad of galaxies. Lohrissa commanded her holy ones to stand around her in a circle spirits touching. As Curran returned to the helix, each holy one's power was increased tenfold ; Lohrissa's power was increased fiftyfold. All the holy ones ascended high above The Lodge and sang blessings to Curran and Naofa before returning to the earth. The humans at Magic One were released from paralysis and minutes later Jack Stonewall re-established communications. General Bennett asked Lynn to contact the principals immediate ly. When she did Amanda told them all that General Charles Smithson was dead. Sally was readying a Raptor , telling Amanda she was flying to Magic One to bring Eleanor to The Lodge. Amanda went to warn her of potential danger; Sally quietly replied she was going.

Amanda then spoke to both Jack Stonewall and the senior officer now taking command at Magic One. Jack was still in shock from the recent trauma but anger and hurt were quickly rebuilding his resolve. He had seen death surround him for years in the inner harbor sectors but had not seen death delivered by the evils of Olc. Amanda extended her concern and sympathy for his loss, for all their loss. She then quietly told Jack that Charlie's death only increased the powers of the holy ones ; they would defeat The Decision. The senior officer then reported to General Bennett that aside from the greenhouse the entire base was intact and had sustained no damage. He reported that all the personnel remained without injury ; Mrs. Smithson, although grief stricken, was not injured at least physically. Amanda informed him that Sally Palmer was in the air on route to bring Eleanor back to The Lodge. She thanked him for taking command , stat ing it was her belief that although they would need to remain vigilant she did not anticipate further attacks on the base. She finished the conversation by insuring that there would be plans made quickly for a permanent commander to take General Smithson's place at Magic One.

Every resident at The Lodge was silent ly numbed by grief and shock. Luther retreated to the large greenhouse he had built with his friend and wept. Amanda left the command centre , walking to join him and Mary. Luther started to apologize for his lack of control. Amanda hushed him and then hugged her dear friend as both of them sobbed their loss, their grief. After a few moments, Luther stood, wiped his tears, smiled, and told his friend the General that he loved Charlie as an earthling friend ; he would walk with his priest through eternity. He continued that Curran left them to give them strength, to stand with Noshi as they found victory and peace for their beloved brothers and sisters. Lughe emerged with garnet aura shining, and then quietly took Mary's hand, left the greenhouse to return to the work he knew best, now in honor of a great man and in preparation for the decline of evil once again.

Amanda also dried her tears, finding her own strength with resolve to lead her Armed Forces and her friends. She knew that Charlie would walk with her to aid her difficult decisions has he had for their many years of working together and becoming great friends.

Barbara returned to her work maintaining aircraft, now with resolve she had never known on this journey to earth. She knew they would face great battles very soon but she also knew that Curran had helped give them strength and power to win them. She drew down to the grandfather, gave her thanks for Charlie Smithson's years with them, as well as his act of sacrifice so that the holy ones remaining with the earthlings were closer to victory. Lieutenant General Barbara Maclippe also understood that she would lead her brothers and sisters at The Lodge as she had done since she arrived , stand ing in awe of them as they took back their lives.

Lydia was at her desk in the command centre when Amanda returned. She walked to her friend, hugged her, and without earthling words told her that they would continue the battle to victory. She reminded the General that she had the skills and the compassion to lead as no general had before. She would walk with her brothers and sisters as they found their own victory. Sam Tannenbaum simply asked how he could help. Amanda hugged him, telling him that they would need his skills and his very fine criminal mind more than he ever knew possible. He quietly told Amanda that he was very sorry for the loss of Charles Smithson. Sam had no t known him long but he considered him a friend who had shown him kindness from his first day at The Lodge.

Morgan and Blaine found solace in the other's arms at the water's edge. Both women had seen death and destruction as earthlings in the recent past and since the split of the universe as priestesses. Morgan had been very quiet, finally stating that she knew they had all the resolve and strength they needed to insure defeat but that they had to show their beloved earthlings that they too could take back the sanity of freedom. Blaine replied that from what she had seen their beloved brothers and sisters had taken back their own personal power , learning quickly how to share that with each other.

Spero walked with Lisa across the tarmac, each wondering if they had made a sane decision to try for parenthood. Spero wondered what kind of world their child would be born to. Lisa quietly reminded him that there was peace and freedom in Siochain; they would return when victory south of the border was insured. She told her beloved that although Naofa had reclaimed the huge soul of Charles Smithson an equally brilliant soul would be returned to the child they would produce. She stood before Spero and took his hands, telling him they would return to their world at the ranch to raise the next generation of free people.

Laura found Jeannie pacing the tarmac, cursing with tears coursing down her cheek. Jeannie ran to arms that held strength and love for her friend. Laura reminded Jeannie that Charlie loved all of them; they should only give down thanks for his life and the years they shared with him. She also told her friend that the priest Curran had given powers tenfold to all the remaining holy ones. Jeannie was quiet before asking Laura if she knew it would happen. Laura smiled wistfully , stating that she knew before Charles Smithson returned to earth as an infant. Laura then took Jeannie's hands, telling her that the holy ones were needed in many places on the galaxies. She quietly reminded her friend that they had fought Olc from before the split of the multiverse . Charlie's death as an earthling was just one of countless events chronicled in that fight. Jeannie told Laura she did not want to travel her journey without her friends to which Laura replied they would always be with her.

When Laura returned to the command centre still wrapped with Lohrissa's shimmering white aura, Amanda asked that they meet to choose a new commander for Magic One. Lydia immediately said she would go if she was needed. Amanda smiled as she Lydia would never be lucky enough not to work in the same space as the General. Laura asked if they needed a senior officer to take that command. Magic Two operated well with a senior pilot taking command with support by Lieutenant General Lorimer. She suggested that although he was not an official Armed Forces personnel that Andrew McDaniels was more than qualified to lead any squadrons when needed. As well, Colonel Sean Taylor flew missions often south of the border as he led crews to disable overland transportation routes. She put forth an idea that they approach the senior pilot taking temporary command , informing him the command would be his permanently. Lydia had trained Robert Keithton; he flew as a young pilot with the squadron of bomber pilots who had aided the Northern Resistance in their final two battles. Amanda and Laura both knew him from their days at the Carriere Base before they moved to the Bennett Base and then to The Lodge. Captain Keithton had been the first pilot to volunteer to move to The Lodge ; he had requested that he remain under General Smithson's command when he moved to Magic Two. All three agreed he would be the obvious choice. Amanda contacted Declan immediately to ask that Captain Robert Keithton be promoted to the rank of full Colone l as well as relaying their recommendations that he take permanent command at Magic Two with support from the senior officers, Colonel Sean Taylor, and Andrew McDaniels. As soon as Declan approved of the plan, Amanda spoke to Robert, asking that he take command of Magic Two permanently with a promotion to the rank of full Colonel.

Lydia then asked if she could arrange a final tribute for General Charles Smithson, stating that it would be an honor to do so. Both Amanda and Laura agreed. They knew that Lydia was missing her old friend more than she would ever admit publicly. Amanda told her that they were now at war ; as such , the celebration of Charlie's life would need to be quiet and small scale. Lydia said she understood completely , want ing to wait to talk to Eleanor before she finalized plans.

Amanda chose to go ahead with the meeting with the principals the following day. They all had huge concern about the stockpile of poison and gas that they were certain The Decision would use on the land and those citizens they perceived to be enemies. Laura asked to meet in the evening with all the holy ones before the meeting in the morrow, stating that the magic of Naofa was now needed. The priests and priestesses met in Amanda's suite. Laura told all the holy ones that they would be the ones to contain the gas and poison as the risk to their beloved earthlings was too great to have them participate. She stated that each would be flown to the sites but would not pilot the aircraft themselves. Noshi directed that each would take great power to stop this evil ; he did not want to risk injury to their earthling bodies if they were also pilots for the mission. It was her clear hope that the missions could be carried out in a clandestine manner to avoid retaliation from The Decision until it was impossible to do so. Amanda then suggested that Sam and Lynn work their particular brand of magic by misinforming the Military about eight unmarked helicopters in the area. At the end of the meeting Lohrissa emerged to bless her holy ones with love sent from Noshi and Curran.

The principals met the following morning. Amanda reported that Colonel Robert Keithton had agreed to take permanent command at Magic One. Both Andrew McDaniels and Colonel Sean Taylor repeated their offers to lend assistance when requested . Amanda then gave a formal report of the events leading to General Smithson's death. She stated that once Eleanor Smithson returned to The Lodge later that day Lieutenant Lydia Stenns would finalize plans for a tribute to General Smithson. Lydia stated that she would notify all. Sterling and Amelia Carland then reported on the locations of stores of poison and gas, no doubt to be used for mass annihilation of those citizens The Decision purported to protect. Sterling sarcastically mentioned that he never wanted to know how that could be couched as something for their wellbeing. Declan stated that he hoped they would never find out. Laura Ravencouer than addressed the group, not as an Armed Forces Lieutenant General but as the most ancient high priestess Lohrissa walking in her body. She quietly explained that when Charles died and the priest Curran returned to Naofa the powers of the holy ones had increased tenfold ; her power had increased fiftyfold. She quietly reiterated that this was part of the plan to insure victory. Lohrissa and Noshi directed that only the holy ones defeat the poison and the gas as the risk was too great for their beloved earthlings. She did state that none would be pilots for the missions , ask ing that eight pilots be chosen to fly with them. Amanda addressed the group, stating that she would coordinate a crew of pilots to fly all missions with the holy ones. She also stated that she was certain that Sam Tannenbaum, Lynn Chester, and Annique McDaniels could insure safe travel by miscommunications and outright lies to Central Command of the Military. Declan asked if they had a time line for the attacks and Laura replied that as soon as the holy ones and plans were prepared they would eliminate the threat. Only Laura heard the quietly whispered "Roger that."

Sally Palmer and Eleanor Smithson returned to The Lodge in midafternoon. Every resident of The Lodge gathered on the tarmac to greet Eleanor as she strode toward them with her head held high. Amanda barked "Attention!" after which the wife of their great friend took the honor of a salute. Lydia then walked to her old friend ; both women wept in the other's arms. There no dry eyes as both women walked to the common room. Celeste brought lunch to both Sally and Eleanor; their friends joined them for quiet conversation and support. Eleanor told them all that her heart had almost broken but Charlie came to her to tell her she needed to stay strong for herself, for him, for their children, and their grandchildren. She said with light shining through misted eyes that the grandfather had promised him that she would join him for eternity ; that would keep her breathing until that time. She did say she had decided to return to the coast to find residence near their family. She also said that before she left The Lodge she wanted to reverse the effects of the vaccine and grow old as gracefully as she could so she could meet again with her beloved priest. Amanda told her she would be greatly missed but she knew they would meet again at Naofa. She also said that she would be happy to arrange the flight to the Carriere Base as soon as Eleanor wished. Lydia quietly spoke of her plans to honor Charles at The Lodge , stating she hoped that Eleanor would remain with them until then. Eleanor reassured all her friends that she would remain to participate in the tribute to General Charles Smithson. She cried softly as she said that Charlie was still astonished that he had been promoted to the rank of Genera l; he shared command with Amanda Bennett, a woman for whom he had the greatest respect and much love. Amanda could not reply through her sobs. Laura and Lydia held her hands tightly. Eleanor continued with a smile only brought by love of her eternal mate as she said that Noshi allowed him to leave his earthlings in one of his favorite places, that of his greenhouse. She softly said that Charlie said he also really liked the cockpit of a helicopter but his most loved place was lying with his arms holding his eternal love. Luther had to excuse himself to find composure through his own tears. Eleanor requested that the celebration of Charlie's life be informal and comfortable. She knew he was a great career Armed Forces pilot and teacher but she wanted him remembered as a dear friend ; she hoped Lydia would take that approach. Lydia smiled, stating those were her plans . Sally said she would find volunteers and open a bar for the celebration as Charlie did enjoy his times at the ruckuses. Amanda suggested that they have a brief Armed Forces tribute followed by dinner and memories in a very informal setting; it was agreed for two days hence. Luther and Mary opened a room in the main building for Eleanor as no-one wanted her to have more acute hurt remembering their lives together at the annex. She suddenly looked very fatigued and asked to be excused for rest. Lydia took her hand , walking with her to her sleep.

The following day, Laura , Lydia , Barbara, and Amanda met to choose pilots to fly the holy ones on the missions to remove the threat of poison and gas. There would be six missions in total as the substances were enclosed underground in the east, south, and west. It was decided that Jeannie Dawson, Sally Palmer, Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer, Andrew McDaniels, Colonel Sean Taylor, Alex Taylor, Frannie Benson, and Captain Will Tenpenny would be the pilots to fly the missions. Amanda immediately notified all requesting that they remain on standby for dates. Lydia smiled as she remembered teaching Captain Tenpenny at Carriere having been awed by his talent and desire to fly anything with wings or blades. Charlie Smithson taught him easily to roll aircraft , t elling Lydia many times that the boy was as good at a young age as Charlie would ever be. The officers also worked on plans for further attacks on airfields and also to coordinate air attacks with the Avalon navy assaults on the last harbors able to accommodate cargo ships. There was the plan to achieve those assaults before the autumn and then winters when flying in the northern sectors became a challenge.

Amanda was just leaving the command centre when Spero asked to meet with her briefly. She showed some concern until Spero told her he had only good news. He asked that she not mention the news to others as yet but he wanted her to know that he and Lisa had successfully taken the medicine to reverse the effects of the vaccine. Amanda was silent for several moment s, smiling as she knew the reason. Spero said he knew they would return to the ranch ; they both wanted to raise the next generation to keep that way of life. He did not have to tell Amanda that he knew that he would live out a natural lifetime as an earthling but that he would always journey with his ancients, his priests, and his priestesses. He then grinned a s he said Jennie would officially go wild at the arrival of more children to run around the horses and cattle. Amanda promised Spero she would say nothing to anyone including Laura.

Luther, Mary, and many residents readied The Lodge to receive visitors from Siochain to honor Charles Smithson. Andrew and Declan McDaniels arrived at midday as did Serena Lorimer and Annette Lemaine. Sean and Alex Taylor arrived with Ross Shipman just past the midday. Sterling and Amelia sent letters of condolences with support for Eleanor and her family. Just before the 1600 hour time planned for the Armed Forces tribute, Lieutenant General Ravencouer flew low across the lake and then rolled upward as a final goodbye to her friend. She silently promised him the victory would be in part for him. General Amanda Bennett spoke of her long professional association with Charles Smithson ; how he had become a dear close friend over the years. She spoke of his absolute determination to achieve victory when they flew support for the Northern Resistance in Siochain. She smiled as she talked about the man having to work with very strong willed women in the new Armed Forces and how he took it all in his stride. She said that as she got to know Eleanor she readily understood why. General Bennett spoke of General Smithson's absolute dedication to making the new Armed Forces of Siochain the best that it could be ; she stated firmly that she believed in part because of him it had become that. There was silent and then a standing applause. Amanda then asked Lieutenant General Lydia Stenns to present Eleanor Smithson with General Smithson's silver wings and bar signifying his rank. Lydia then barked "Attention!" and Charlie Smithson took his final salute with every earthling struggling for composure. Amanda Bennett then invited her friends to dine and remember their dear friend. After Drew, Declan, Ross, Sean, and Alex spoke with Eleanor, they flew back to Ravencouer and the Bennett Base. Serena and Annette planned to stay the night with return in the morrow to the Bennett Base.

Laura hugged Amanda, telling her she was proud to be her lover, her friend, her mistress, her sister, and her employee. She said that history would show that General Amanda Bennett had become the General she knew she could be. The evening hours heard stories and laughter as friends and colleagues remembered Charlie Smithson with love.

The following day, Dr. Warner Gordon administered the drug to reverse the vaccine Eleanor had taken years earlier. Colonel Robert Keithton arranged to have all of the Smithson's personnel effects flown to the Carriere base where she and her children would meet. Eleanor suffered no ill effects from the reversal drug ; save for the fatigue of grief she remained in good health. Amanda arranged for her to be flown to the Bennett Base ; after an overnight stay she would be flown home to Carriere and the waiting arms of her family. Each friend hugged her with tears as she prepared to depart for Bennett, each not wanting to verbalize but each also knowing that they would only see her again on the helix. As she turned to wave a final goodbye, all the holy ones emerged with full auras and the blessings of Lohrissa, Curran, and a soft whisper from Noshi.

The first bunker holding gas and poison to be eliminated was near southern border of the Great Southeastern City . Amelia and Sterling sent detailed satellite photographs which showed a minimal Military presence. Sam suggested that they inform Central Command that a special Emergency Measures team was planning maneuvers to test special aircraft and crews in case of attack. He also suggested that the Military forces on the ground offer no help or interference so that the maneuvers could be tested thoroughly. He detailed his communication in writing before presenting it to General Bennett who read it, smiled, and after stating it was simple and brilliant told Sam he was most assuredly the best criminal for the job. Laura overheard the conversation , knowing that in the years to come Sam Tannenbaum would take a very great role in leading their beloved brothers and sisters to lives even better than they had abandoned in apathy. The directive was sent to Central Command with an immediate reply to carry out any actions the Military felt necessary to insure the safety of those who continued to support The Decision. Sam then sent a directive to the senior staff member at the bunker informing him of the date and time of the maneuvers. Lynn and Annique insured that they were able to completely block communications for the time the holy ones needed to eliminate the poison and gas. Laura insisted that a medic with emergency health equipment accompany each holy one in each helicopter, stating that the earthling bodies would be severely taxed with the energy the holy ones needed. Colonel Annette Lemaine stated she would send six senior medics on Serena's flight to The Lodge, Brenda and Cally would complete that staff complement. It was also understood that no weapons would be on board for the mission as the bunker had to remain intact. Sam, in the guise of the leader of the Emergency Measures team, suggested that new personnel be moved to the bunker after the maneuvers, personnel that he had personally chosen for their expertise in terrorist activities. Archie Granger once again supplied the names of long dead personnel. Central Command completely agreed , than king the leader for his diligence in insuring their safety.

The flight time was four hours. Laura anticipated that the time for elimination of the gas and poison would be less than thirty minutes and along with time to kill the existing personnel the pilots could plan to start return to the base in an hour. Serena Lorimer, Andrew McDaniels, Sean Taylor, Alex Taylor, Will Tenpenny, and six senior medics arrived at The Lodge the morning before the attack. Takeoff was planned for 0200 hours with arrival at the bunker at 0600 hours. The pilots were all encouraged to take nourishment and rest as much as possible prior to the mission. Noshi sent constant blessings to his holy ones throughout the day, leading them to nourishment and quiet. The residents are The Lodge had no idea how to support magic but Celeste and Rennie prepared food to be available for the entire day. The medics prepared medical equipment and supplies as directed by Laura and Dr. Gordon. After a late dinner and before he returned to the command centre, Sam sought out each holy one and hugged them, simply stating his reverence and his thanks. As he returned to his work station, he remembered the first day he met them all including Charlie Smithson ; how he absolutely disbelieved them, thinking them all delusional. Mary asked Luther to bring a cot to their suite as Lisa Redhawk would keep her company while they waited for their priests to return. Both men promised they would return, albeit likely slightly worse for wear. Lisa was very frightened, finally telling finally Mary that she and Spero had taken the medicine to reverse the vaccine. She hoped that it would not affect her lover's wellbeing. Mary reassured her that he was a holy one , well protected by medicine better than anything earthlings could concoct. She then hugged her young friend, promising that she would bear beautiful children, and raise them with her beloved as she had with hers. Lisa asked Mary to not tell of their secret as Amanda was the only other one who knew.

Lieutenant General Lorimer was chosen to command the mission and was on the tarmac just past midnight to check the helicopters. The medics reported to her and Dr. Gordon that they were prepared for flight. Warner Gordon asked Brenda Sloan to be the chief medic for the mission. The holy ones readied themselves to board at 0130 hours. There had been almost complete silence among them as each constantly drew down to the grandfather for bless ed guidance. Lieutenant Colonels Baxter and Langley assumed command of The Lodge; both Sam and Lynn reassured them their friends would return. The pilots were commanded to run preflight check lists ; at 0200 hours Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer ordered the eight helicopters to become airborne.

Sam and Lynn remained in constant communication with the pilots as they flew southeast. Lynn gave a thirty minute warning after which Lieutenant General Lorimer ordered a slow descent to the altitude Laura had requested. She reminded her crew to fly in continuous formation within the previously set perimeter. In an instant, Lohrissa rendered all the Military personnel on the ground unconscious after which Lynn, Annique, and Sam severed communications from that base. The holy ones emerged and began encircling the bunker containing the poison and gas. Noshi sent continuous blessings as each priest and priestess used power and strength to dissipate the poison and gas, breaking down compounds and sending all essential elements back to their resting place with Mother. The medics watched in awe and then concern as the forces needed to eliminate the evil in the bunkers drew almost life-sustaining strength from the holy ones' earthly bodies. In the final act, Lohrissa summoned never before seen power within her and sealed the elements to their beginnings within their beloved Mother. She then instantly took life from all the Military personnel as Noshi lovingly gathered souls , transported them through the portal. Laura had just enough strength to tell Serena to return to The Lodge, the mission was successful.

The medics immediately started care of visibly depleted earthly bodies, starting fluids and giving oxygen along with parenteral nutrition. Morgan and Spero were much weakened but very much less so than the others. Morgan stirred as she tried to cast down spells of strength to her priests and priestesses. Noshi lovingly chided her , reminding her he would take care of all of them including her. None were able to talk for the flight back to The Lodge. Brenda Sloan reported constantly to Dr. Gordo n, asking for assistance for transport when they arrived back. She quietly remarked that with the degree of energy spent in less than thirty minutes; these earthlings should have given up their lives. She said she would forever remain in awe of the magic she had witnessed.

Lynn gave a thirty minute warning to landing at The Lodge. Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer remained her usual calm very professional self as she ordered descent and landing. All the holy ones had recovered sufficiently to walk and talk weakly. Sam Tannenbaum was first on the tarmac ; with his arm around her waist he gently guided General Amanda Bennett to a bed in the infirmary. Drew McDaniels broke with protocol, telling Serena he would return to complete the post flight check list . He ran to Laura to help her find her own bed in the infirmary. Medics accompanied the remaining holy ones to beds and medical supervision in the infirmary. When all were resting, Sam Tannenbaum wept as he returned to the command centre to report a successful mission to the principals. There was instant cheering and repeats of "Roger that" but only Laura heard from whom.

Morgan Downhey recovered her strength within an hour followed shortly thereafter by Blaine Jefferson and Spero Tristan. Lisa Redhawk gathered her lover in arms full of love, then kissing Spero long, hard, and full on the lips. Mary sat beside a sleeping Luther ; she smiled knowingly as she saw the young couple. Blaine said she must be back to pretty close to normal as she was craving a decent cup of coffee. Morgan took her hand both walked to the dining room as Celeste brought steaming mugs to both of them. Blaine grinned as she told Irish that they probably had started to re-write the book on ass kicking. Morgan replied that they probably had seen nothing yet.

Lydia and Barbara woke with strength enough to go to Amanda and Laura who were wrapped in the other's arms , almost oblivious to the world around them. All four women grinned, hugged each other, before walking to find Luther wrapped his own set of loving arms. Mary kissed her priest long, hard, and full on the lips, to which Lydia quipped that the old boy really did know how. Mary simply replied "Indeed." Lisa and Spero were found drinking coffee with Morgan and Blaine. The five remaining holy ones joined their friends as Celeste brought dinner to all of them. They started to protest to which Rennie asked if she had to bully that as well. Amanda stood to salute the woman, albeit with some degree of fatigue. Laura smiled as she drew down once again to Noshi and Curran, acknowledging their joy. All the holy ones understood that they would not have survived without the strength Curran bestowed upon them when he returned to Naofa.

Jeannie and Sally returned from naps after long flights and joined their friends briefly for nourishment as did Serena, Drew, Alex, Sean, Frannie, and Will. It was decided that except for Sally and Jeannie they would all return to the Bennett Base the following morning after a full night's rest. All knew that they would have five more similar missions to complete before another chapter in the insanity was closed.

Amanda asked Debra Baxter and Patricia Langley to keep command of The Lodge for the following day, stating that she was exhausted and needed rest more than plans needed to be made. Patricia smiled , telling Amanda that she already had Rennie prepared to bully that decision into Amanda if she had not made it herself. After dinner and that decision, all the holy ones returned to their suites and their lovers.

Laura remained quiet as she walked with Amanda back to their suite. Amanda took her hand in silence as Aine reassured her priestess that their destinies were unfolding as they should. Both women showered, crawled into warmed sheets, and each other's arms. Amanda snickered as she told Laura that back in her old Colonel days she thought the magic stuff was simply bunk. Laura replied it was probably just as well that she did not know at the time or they would have never stayed together. As sleep was overtaking them, Amanda whispered that she had almost lost her lover a few times ; she had every intention of staying forever.

Celeste, Rennie, Cora, and Sam delivered breakfast to all the holy ones, pilots, and their lovers the next morning. Amanda started to protest until Rennie simply gave her a look before Amanda thanked their friends. Immediately after eating, the pilots from Bennett returned to their home base. Luther was back to his usual jovial self ; in his element running a busy war camp by midday. Mary was at his side, knowing that this was part of his necessary recovery. Morgan and Blaine took a ride on a Harlie around the lake with stops to enjoy the day. Spero worked for part of the day, organizing more rescue missions for men in labor camps. Lydia and Barbara lay with each other for hours as did Amanda and Laura. Finally, Amanda decided that they needed to surface in the main building. She said she wanted to thank the medics and Dr. Gordon for their excellent care after the mission. As Amanda was dressing, Laura whispered her request for a date that evening, mentioning that it was hard to find time now that they had ass kicking to organize. She kissed her lover sufficiently to elicit a moan which Laura took as an acceptance of her request. She told Amanda she would meet her for an early dinner in the dining room.

Laura returned to the command centre , work ing on plans for upcoming raids and the timing of further attacks on the bunkers. She knew that it was imperative that they destroy the threat before the final assault. She drew down to Noshi and was reassured that her plans were as the destinies were planned. She then returned to their suite to shower and dress for her date. She decided to wear skin tight jeans, her corset covered by a black silk shirt left entirely unbuttoned, six inch heels, come hither makeup, and her curls clipped at her crown. She grabbed a leather jacket, not so much for warmth as for effect before striding across the lawn to the main compound. Rennie noticed her first , nodding with a wicked grin. Luther looked up and smiled his approval. This priestess could certainly raise magic such that had never been seen before but she was also a wanton drop dead gorgeous woman who knew how to take all of that on the road. Barbara and Lydia returned from a walk to the lake ; both women shook their head when they saw Laura. Barbara told her sister friend that she needed to work on being less subtle. Laura smiled as she thanked her friend in return.

Amanda was lost in conversation with Dr. Warner Gordon. Laura stood quietly for several minutes simply watching the woman she adored and the priestess who was her mate. Laura had long since stopped trying to understand the depths of her love, of their love. She knew that Lohrissa and Aine found each other constantly in the other's soul and would for eternity. She learned along the way that she did not need to understand but only needed to accept which she did with gratitude given daily to the grandfather. Noshi came to her as a very innocent eighteen year old girl , telling her to find the capacity within to love and be loved. After almost dying of a broken heart due to the battles in Siochain and then being taken home to Amanda's life again, she realized that her capacity was as endless as the eternal spiral of Naofa. As if Amanda slowly felt Laura's eyes on her, she turned slightly and saw only lovelights outshining even the setting sun. Warner Gordon followed Amanda's gaze ; as he saw Laura he let forth a soft whistle. Amanda replied "Indeed." Laura slowly walked to greet her lover and to take her hand. Lydia walked by , telling them if they thought they could behave they were welcome to join them for dinner. Laura loosed Amanda's hand, took Lieutenant General Stenns in her arms, kissed her long, hard, and full on the mouth ; as Amanda caught buckled knees Laura smiled sweetly and told Lydia to shut up. She then told her she was entirely too easy ; with that , she took the six inch heels to the dining followed by Amanda who was laughing out loud.

Neither woman remembered what they ate for dinner or any iota of the conversation they carried on with their friends. Each woman only wanted to rest in the other's soul. Luther finally told them to get a room which caused momentary surprise before gales of laughter. Amanda and Laura walked back to their suite immediately after dinner. Blaine thanked them for being such inspirations. If Laura had not been entirely distracted she would have told that woman to shut up as well.

Both priestesses fell asleep as the faint pink of dawn found the mountaintops. Amanda joked that she would try to blame the fatigue she knew she would have all day in the command centre on the raid on the bunker but suspected the excuse would not fly. Laura brought breakfast and coffee back to their suite before she woke the General, telling her that as much as she wanted to ravage her beautiful body they had ass kicking to organize and a meeting with the principals in the afternoon. Amanda playfully grumbled as she found the shower and then emerged refreshed, beautiful, and ready for the day. When both women arrived at the command centre both Barbara and Lydia feigned looks of disgust to which Amanda warned them about jealousy and how absolutely unattractive that could be. At least for the moment, life at The Lodge was back to normal.

The principals met again in the afternoon. Declan congratulated Lieutenant General Lorimer for her excellent command of the mission flying the holy ones to the destruction of the first bunker. He said he was not sure it was appropriate to congratulate the holy ones on their mission but he quietly stated that their beloved earthlings were grateful. Laura acknowledged the sentiment ; declaring that the next raid in the northern sector of the Great Southwest City would take place in one week. She said the same crew would be chosen to fly to and return to the Bennett Base in preparation before the raid and recovery afterwards. She asked Annette Lemaine to ready the infirmary and medics , asking if she would lead the medics for the raid. Both Laura and Amanda agreed that Brenda Sloan and Cally Hilliard needed to stay at The Lodge to care for any injured men rescued from labor camps. Colonel Lemaine accepted the task readily , adding she would advise Dr. Jacob Thomas of the plans.

Colonel Sean Taylor reported on the continued destruction of overland transportation routes, stating that he felt that very soon they would meet some opposition from the Military who were just beginning to notice the lack of shipments. General Bennett stated that as soon as the bunkers were cleared the plans for the final battles would be finalized and mounted. Laura informed all that the bunkers would be secured in no longer than five weeks.

Lieutenant General Lorimer stated that pilots were being taught daily at the Bennett Base, the Ravencouer Base, and the Carriere Base. The group became silent for a few minutes as each remembered Charlie Smithson, understanding that his skills as a pilot and a teacher were missed ; not likely to be replaced. Laura finally commented that although General Smithson was missed and would be every day the return of Curran to Naofa meant that his priests and priestesses had strength enough now to rid the world south of the wall of weapons to cause mass murder.

Plans were advanced for the last combined attack by the Avalon navy and Southern Resistance bomber pilots to take place six weeks hence once all the bunkers containing poison and gas had been eliminated. Lynn, Annique, and Sam sent the same communications regarding a special Emergency Measures crew completing maneuvers at the next bunker as well as new personnel to be transferred once the site had been deemed safe. Once again, Central Command was only too happy to agree , thanking the officer in charge of the Emergency Measures missions. Sam muttered that he could do a far sight better running the country than the idiots they had allowed to take power. Lieutenant General Lorimer and Colonel Lemaine confirmed that the Bennett Base was ready to be the principal base for the next raid on the northwestern bunker.

Laura, Amanda , Lydia , Barbara, Spero, Luther, Morgan, Blaine, Frannie, Sally, and Jeannie flew from The Lodge at 0600 hours the day prior to the raid ; greeted just past midday by Serena, Annette, and Matthew Brandon. Dr. Jacob Thomas was introduced to the senior officers. He expressed his great delight in putting faces to names before very humbly t elling them it was an honor to work with them. He reassured them that Warner Gordon had advised him as to what to expect when the holy ones returned to the base after the raid. He reassured General Bennett that the medics would take the best care possible of all the holy ones until they had recovered; Amanda replied that she had no doubt of that. Once again, Mary shared her suite with Lisa Redhawk while their partners were busy kicking ass. Lynn Chester planned to keep herself busy coordinating communications and listening to the mission in which her beloved Frannie was flying.

Once again, the raid took place without surprises. The souls of twenty Military personnel were lovingly taken through the portal by Noshi ; greeted by Curran and all the ancients. The holy ones dissipated the poison and gas, quickly and systemically, returning all her elements back to Mother permanently. Completely spent physical bodies were cared for by expert medics aboard all helicopters. Colonel Annette Lemaine met the helicopters on their return to the Bennett Base ; taken aback at the weakened state of all the holy ones. Each was taken immediately to the infirmary where they received fluids, parenteral nutrition, and hours of sleep. Sam, Annique, and Lynn had kept lines of communications open during the raid and return to the Bennett Base but then had no further reports as to the wellbeing of the holy ones. Lieutenant General Lorimer finished the post flight check list , reporting to the communication posts and the principals that the mission had been successful and the holy ones were recovering. Once again, Sam Tannenbaum wept.

By nightfall, all the holy ones had recovered sufficiently to walk to the dining room for dinner and quiet conversation. Immediately after dining, each found beds and more hours of restorative sleep . By morning , the profound fatigue and weakness had been conquered with love by Noshi, Curran, and all the ancients at Naofa.

The holy ones along with Frannie, Jeannie, and Sally returned to The Lodge the following morning, seemingly none the worse for wear. Over the course of the next four weeks, the remaining bunkers were secured, the poison and gas dissipated by the holy ones, and the souls of the Military personnel taken to Naofa. The principals met weekly during those raids with thanks being expressed by all. Colonel Taylor reported continued destruction of overland routes with complete interruption of communication between those driving vehicles and those hoping to receive shipments. General Bennett and the senior officers finalized plans with the Avalon navy to carry out the destruction of the final harbors able to accommodate large ocean going ships. There were fewer supplies being delivered as still friendly merchants had not been paid ; they bec ame increasingly reluctant to continue the supplies into less accessible harbors. The senior officers agreed that each would pilot for the attacks on the last of the accessible harbors with the former squadrons and crew leaders.

The Avalon navy moved into position two days before the planned assault. Once again, Sally and Jeanne flew to Magic One to fly under the command of Colonel Robert Keithton. Luther, Frannie, and Cora flew to the Bennett Base to fly under the command of Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer. Drew McDaniels and Alex Taylor led squadrons to support the Avalon navy assault on the small southwestern harbor. Lieutenant Lorimer and her crew supported the support on the northwestern harbor attack. Colonel Keithton's crew attacked the small southeastern harbor with support from Lieutenant Generals Stenns and Maclippe. General Bennett, Lieutenant General Ravencouer, Blaine Jefferson, and Morgan Downhey led crews to attack the last accessible harbor on the east coast. There was minimal Military resistance at each harbor ; in total four helicopters and eight pilots were lost.

General Bennett met with all the principals three days after the attacks on the last accessible harbors. She stated that the anticipated inclement weather of winter in the northern sectors would restrict attacks but they would still be carried out. Sterling and Amelia had determined there were twelve major Military bases that would need to be eliminated before the base of Central Command and then the compound housing the remaining members of The Decision. Sterling and Declan chose not to report on Avalon Intelligence reports of a bunker in the arid southwestern sector that contained a weapon that would destroy the entire continent , permanently affect ing all earthlings who survived its detonation. Laura did not need to be told, she and Noshi knew of its exact location and the only possible outcome. Both also knew that the earthlings left to survive had to finally understand the evil power of greed and apathy before the finality of the battles.

The principals then agreed that the next attacks would be on factories and farms supplying the Military and The Decision. Laura smiled as she remembered the past night when Colonel Bennett had held her , congratulat ing her on the tactic of cutting off all the limbs before attacking the core of the beast. Apparently, she had not changed her mind about the efficacy of that tactic.

The first snows of late autumn fell bringing with them the beginning of Mother's rest for another cycle. Laura walked to the water's edge, remembering the first snow falls at the cabin and how she always welcomed them. She knew she would not return to her beloved cabin or the ocean but she found little sadness as she would travel to new worlds with Amanda and Aine. She smiled on looking skyward to see a lone raven circling above. She gave down thanks and blessings to her father Tom who she would greet again at Naofa, another ancient with whom she would travel in eternity. Lohrissa's burdens were no less and would never be but Laura no longer had fear. She finally understood that her destiny, that all of their destinies were unfolding as they should.

Amanda was walking towards her lover as she returned to the warmth of the main house and a waiting dinner among friends. She wanted to tell Laura of her meeting two hours earlier with Spero and asked her to come to the command centre with her. She had small gift to have Spero give to Lydia and Barbara over dinner but wanted Laura to know of it beforehand. Amanda took Laura's hand , leading her up the stairs and into her work station. From a desk drawer, she pulled out the beginnings of a wee sweater she had quickly put on needles. Laura simply smiled through tears. Spero and Lisa were waiting in the hallway to take Lydia 's gift to the dining room. Laura hugged both as tears crept down her lovely cheeks. She whispered that their new son would be blessed by Lohrissa and all the holy ones when he arrived in the eighth month of the New Year. Lisa quietly stated that his earth name would be Jackson Charles which caused a whole new set of tears for Amanda. Laura stated they needed to stop the weep fest or Lydia 's surprise would be ruined. The y all returned to the dining room.

Amanda asked Luther to be prepared to take some photographs of the members of their table that evening. She did not tell him the reason ; Luther would never ask. Amanda also asked that Sally find some champagne for after dinner. Sally was happy to comply ; she too did not ask the reason. Morgan, Blaine , Lydia , Barbara, Amanda, and Laura dined and enjoyed their usual banter. After dinner, Spero and Lisa approached the table asking to join their friends. Spero walked to stand beside Lydia 's chair. He asked her for a minute of her time. She was only slightly curious but listened. He told her that he knew that she would be exceedingly busy kicking ass and loving Barbara but he wondered if Just Lydia might take on another task. With that, he handed her a gift bag holding knitting needles with the beginning of a wee sweater. She opened the bag, was quiet for a few seconds, and looked at Spero, Lisa, and then Amanda. Barbara was already weeping, not a common public act for her. Lydia slowly stood with a look of complete wonder on her face with slight gold aura emerged. Tears trickled down eyes full of love for the child she had loved all his life and for the woman who was carrying his child. Spero hugged his dear friend , telling her that she was still too beautiful and too young to be a grandmother as was Just Barbara so they could both be this child's friend. Lisa said it was a boy ; his name was Jackson Charles. That was the catalyst to reduce Lydia Stenns to sobs. Luther took many photographs through his own tears ; even the usually stoic Sally Palmer let tears fall from eyes full of joy for her friends. When Lydia found enough composure and after Barbara had kissed her several times long, hard, and full on the mouth, she looked at Amanda and realized it was she who put the stitches on the needles. Amanda smiled with love at her dear friend and lover, stating that she knew before the raids on the bunkers that Spero and Lisa had taken the drugs to reverse the vaccine. She also said it was the hardest secret she had ever been asked to keep. Mary McBane quietly said that Lisa had told her the night of the first raid ; she agreed that it was a very hard joyful secret not to tell. Lydia asked as to Lisa's health; Lisa reassured everyone that she was fine and actually loved pregnancy hormones. Laura smiled through her own tears as she remembered Lindsay saying the same thing years earlier. Morgan too had that flashback , return ing a look of love to Laura. When Lydia started to talk of Lisa and Spero returning to the ranch, she was interrupted in mid-sentence. Both told her that they were remaining at The Lodg e; there was a victory to achieve and they had signed on earlier. Lisa told Lydia they would return to the ranch and wee Jackson would learn to ride, shovel manure, drive cattle, and fly helicopters just like his father and his grandfather. She also said that their son would be taken to Sanctuary to the blessings of her family, their family. Spero told everyone that their child would be born at The Lodge in the eighth month of the New Year , blessed by all the holy ones, including Curran. Sam quietly stated that wee Jackson was the reason they were all fighting ; why they would win. Amanda did not speak but had already decided that once the child had been born, Spero would be ordered to take command at the Ravencouer Base.

General Bennett planned and ordered simultaneous attacks on smaller air fields which were carried out without loss of life or helicopters. Sam and Annique were brilliant at moving non-existent personnel to different locations while the Southern Resistance helped Noshi gather souls. Sterling reported that the only significant transportation to the large bases and the compounds housing the higher echelon members of The Decision were being done by Military aircraft when they could find supplies to move. The principals agreed that the next attacks would be on farms and then factories in the inner city cores. Luther asked if they would celebrate Wintersday; Laura replied there would always be a celebration for Wintersday now and for every survivor's world in the future. However, Sally did not organize a ruckus to celebrate the New Year as the need to be ready to attack and defend was too great. She and Jeannie did invite their friends to their suite to enjoy company and wee drams of scotch for those who chose.

The principals met again the day following the New Year and General Bennett outlined the sequence and plans of attacks on farms and factories, first in the former harbor sectors of the Great Southeastern City and the Great Southwestern City . Colonel Keithton and his crew routinely eliminated any boats attempting to move goods along the great river. The factories were only able to ship goods by overland transportation that was quickly becoming impossible due to roads and bridges being reduced to rubble. The processing of building materials and vehicles as well as processing of food was quickly stopped with bombs that reduced large portions of the industrial portion of the city to ruins. Two days following the first raid, ten huge farms producing food and raw material for clothing were bombed with crops burned to naught. Factories in the Great Southwestern City were then attacked followed by huge tracts of land growing food and livestock, again reducing all structures to rubble and all living beings destroyed. Laura mourned for the rape of Mother that they were causing ; she was comforted by Noshi who told her that Mother would be reborn in a land that would revere her and not just take from her. As in the former northern cities of The Decision, huge tracts of forest had been harvested leaving once beautiful mountains denuded and scarred. Great barren pits dotted the country where ore had been gouged from Mother's belly, leaving her open, raw, and wounded. The final winter assaults to factories and farmland was directed at the southeastern sector of the Great Southeastern City . Hundreds of hectares of once productive land lay scorched , temporarily dead as a result of repeated bombing.

Lieutenant Colonel Tristan and his crew continued to rescue men from labor camps, now even more debilitated as food stores became depleted and shipments were sporadic. Many men were taken to Sanctuary for medical care before returning to become trained as pilots or to resume trades needed to support the push for an end to the madness.

Mother sent down her last fury of winter just after Ostermonat and less than a week later the snows were melted by warm winds and the first of the spring rains. General Bennett then ordered the final assaults on the factories once protected by winter storms. The factories reduced to rubble were in the core of the Great Southeastern City well known to Blaine . It was clearly understood that following these attacks the Military bases would be readying themselves not only for defense but also for attacks although Sam was certain they still had no idea who they would fight. Vast areas of grasslands, once growing enough grain to almost feed the entire population of both Siochain and the land south of the wall were set to flames and destroyed.

General Bennett continued to work closely with the commander of the Avalon navy. There were no harbors left to attack but several large Military bases were built in close proximity to the ocean on all three coasts. The commander offered to support air attacks with missiles fired from offshore. He stated with a chuckle during one conversation that they at least could provide a bit of distraction while General Bennett got her pilots in position. Amanda knew she would never have the honor of meeting this man but she had great respect for him , gr owing to appreciate his sardonic humor.

The principals agreed that the first raids on the major Military bases would begin two weeks before Elterra. One base in the southeast and one base on the western coast were the first to be attacked. Many former pilots from the battles in Siochain approached their community leaders who in turn spoke to Declan about volunteering for the raids south of the wall. Most had returned to their lives as tradespersons, ranchers, and settlers but each remembered the hell they had lived through before and during the fight for their freedom. That defeat had etched clearly in their minds and hearts that it was their privilege and obligation to help all their brothers and sisters in need. Declan spoke to the principals and in particular with General Bennett and the senior officer s; he knew of their absolute insistence that even ancillary personnel were recruits of the new Armed Forces in Siochain. He then stated that the fight south of the wall was not an official Armed Forces function ; as such , it might be possible to waive that rule temporarily. General Bennett smiled with no argument for the Chief Administrator. She reminded herself to tell Sam that Declan was the best criminal for that job. Lieutenant General Lorimer stated that she knew that all had been trained by Andrew McDaniels or Laura Ravencouer , led to victory by brilliance. She further stated that as such, all volunteer pilots would be welcomed immediately at the Bennett Base as no training would be required. General Bennett then asked that all bases keep only a skeleton contingent of helicopters ; all others ordered flown to the Bennett Base, The Lodge, and the supply depot north of the great lake.

Sterling Carland and Declan McDaniels then spoke of the confirmed knowledge of a huge weapon buried in the arid sector the Great Southwestern City . There was complete silence as Sterling explained that it would destroy every living thing on the continent and significantly alter Mother for the rest of the planet. He said that there was no known defense. Declan stated that he had no doubts that if The Decision became threatened enough some idiot might detonate the thing. After a prolonged silence, General Bennett firmly stated that they would defeat the bastards. She reminded everyone that many lives would be lost before they were done but they would insure victory. She said they were all directed by the ancients to do so. With that, she adjourned the meeting and left the command centre.

The senior officers returned to their work stations and when Amanda did not return Laura went looking for her. She first asked Sally if she had visited for a wee dram of scotch but Sally had not seen the General. Laura then returned to their suite where she found Amanda sitting before the fireplace, rocking, knitting a wee sweater, and weeping. Lohrissa emerged with full aura , walk ing to face Amanda. With fire in her eyes, she told her priestess that there would be no doubts, no hesitation, and no fear. Laura took Amanda to her feet , h olding her tightly as her priestess sobbed. She reassured her lover that they would not be parted from each other or from those they loved. Amanda then whispered that she knew many would die. Laura agreed but she said also that many would live and the world would be safe for Jackson Charles and all those souls returned to earth. Laura told Amanda she understood her anger and her grief but they would walk to the other side of that hurt as they had done many times in the past.

The first raids on the major Military bases in the southeast and the western coast were finalized and then carried out with naval support from Avalon. Eight squadrons left from The Lodge and from the Bennett Base. General Bennett commanded the attacks simultaneously while in flight. Lieutenant General Lorimer along with squadron leaders Colonel Sean Taylor, Alex Taylor, and Drew McDaniels directed the attack on the western coastal base. Lieutenant Generals Ravencouer, Maclippe, and Stenns directed the attack on the southeastern coastal base. Eighty helicopters and pilots flew precisely under the direction of General Bennett. The Military still had no idea who was attacking but a solid defense and counterattack was mounted. Laura Ravencouer and Serena Lorimer calmly forcefully urged the pilots to deny fear and eliminate the evil below them. Thirty Southern Resistance pilots did not return to their bases ; taken with love through the portal to Naofa along with the souls captured by the assault. The bases were rendered to complete rubble. General Bennett then ordered her crews to return to the bases. On the eve of Elterra, four more raids were completed simultaneously in both the eastern and western sectors. Seventy helicopters and one hundred and forty pilots were lost to achieve complete victory.

Chapter 20

Blaine kissed birth anniversary blessings and love into Morgan on Elterra morn. Both women were tired from the battles as were all their beloved earthlings. Morgan was constantly awed and humbled by the survivors at The Lodge, some of whom she had found just a few years earlier nearly starved , almost devoid of hope. She had watched despair give way to determination and fear give way to their futures. Blaine laughed at her lover often as she ranted her anger at their oppressors, stating that not only had they taken almost their lives from them but they constantly made Morgan too tired to find passion with her beloved Alesta. Blaine told her that they had an eternity together to love each other to which Morgan replied that it would not be with the body she was walking with now. Blaine started her own journey as she whispered to her lover that she needed to find patience.

Morgan and Blaine finally gave into hunger and joined their friends in the dining room. Morgan laughed aloud as many friends lined up to kiss birth anniversary blessings into her. Suddenly, Laura rose and ran to the yard as Lohrissa emerged. The other holy ones followed immediately as the sun was obliterated by complete darkness. The earth rumbled , shaking such that furniture inside The Lodge moved and window panes shattered. A few brave earthlings started to follow the holy ones; Laura screamed for them to return to shelter. Fire and ice cascaded down upon the holy ones. Suddenly, in a ball of fire the minion Hsub the Lesser appeared ; torrents of sharpened steel fell like rain to the ground. Lohrissa rose to meet the senior minion , demand ing that they cease the attack. With concentration and speed directed by the grandfather, the holy ones were able to dodge the stakes falling around them. A young woman seemingly in a trance emerged from the doorway of the main building and started to walk to the melee. Luther yelled at her to return to the building but she did not hear him and kept advancing. He broke with his concentration and ran to push the young woman through the doorway to safety and as he turned to continue his battle a steel sheath impaled him. The minion Yenohlum swooped down to take Lughe's soul , met with the fury of Noshi who shattered the evil and then loving cradled Luther McBane's soul as Lughe joined his old friend Curran through the portal of Naofa. Aine was usually silent during the battles but she screamed directed vengeance at those who attempted victory. The holy ones sent Rialb, Sfael, and Grinnam back to the hells of Olc. The skies above The Lodge erupted in white flames as Lohrissa battled , finally shatter ing Hsub the Lesser. The sun found majesty again ; Mother stopped her trembling. The earthly bodies of the holy ones fell to the ground weeping. Lohrissa remained with full aura emerged , telling her holy ones to stand in a circle around her with spirits touching. As they did, Lughe and Noshi blessed them each with increased power fiftyfold and then the most ancient high priestess with power increased one hundred fold. They then sang blessings of journeys to their beloved Lughe.

Spero carried Luther's body to the infirmary. Jeannie held Mary McBane tightly as Mary wailed her anger, her anguish, her grief, her loss. Numbness fell like a pall on The Lodge as all of Luther's friends tried to assimilate the reality that only his spirit would walk with them now. The holy ones were visibly weakened by their encounter and the passing of their priest. Amanda quietly wept in Laura's arms. She finally asked Laura if she knew ; Laura softly nodded through her own tears. Amanda found composure as did Sam Tannenbaum ; together they climbed the stairs together to the command centre. Sam opened communications with the principals ; General Amanda Bennett told everyone of Luther McBane's death at the hands of Olc. There was silence ; Declan mused that he wondered if the hell would ever stop. Amanda assured them all that it would. She said that the two powerful minions had been scattered to the galaxies and with Lughe's return to Naofa the holy ones' power had increased significantly. She finished her conversation by telling everyone she would notify them of any plans for a tribute.

Celeste and her crew were back in the kitchen preparing food to force down throats during the day. Sally and Frannie opened a bar in the dining room, knowing that memories and grief were often helped along in company and libations. Jeannie stood quietly in the corridor outside the room where Mary sat with her beloved Luther. Amanda found her old friend ; each wept again in the other's arms. Amanda then handed Jeannie a lace-edged handkerchief , reassur ing her that Luther had not died in vain. She explained that the power of all the holy ones had increased enough to now finally defeat the evil ones one more time. She squeezed her friend's hands , t elling her that she would be going back to the coast with her beloved Sally knowing that they had helped their brothers and sisters to gain back their lives and their freedom. Jeannie replied that she knew that they would return. She also told Amanda that both she and Sally had chosen to take the drug to reverse the vaccine when they returned home, wishing to live out their lives naturally to journey on to the helix when called. Amanda smiled through slight tears , telling her that they would all be together again there.

Laura found Amanda just as Mary joined Jeannie. Mary wanted to go to her room before join ing the others in the dining room. She said she knew what she had chosen as her course, one that she and Luther had discussed many times; one that he would wish. Laura and Amanda found Barbara and Lydia in the dining room with hugs for their friends in love and in grief. There was almost silence still as the residents went about their daily routines, each still numbed with almost disbelief. Laura gasped when she looked at the painting of Hope hung above the mantle in the common room. Generations of earthlings would wonder at the faint garnet aura seen shining from the work of art. Luther McBane would always be walking among his beloved earthlings at their home of renewal.

Mary returned to her friends , quietly t elling them that she wanted Luther's earthly body honored at a pyre. They had talked often about the possibility of the priest's death; she said he was a seer and scribe, one who knew of his own fate. Mary McBane chose to stay at The Lodge to continue Luther's role as caretaker of the war camp with help from their friends. She stated that when they won and peace arose from Naofa she wanted to take Luther's remains back to his beloved mountain and coast. Laura and Amanda remained silent as they all drew back to the loving memories of laughter and loving that would sustain them until they walked again with Lughe.

William Eaglesmith flew from Railway One , helping to erect the pyre. On the third day from Luther's death, his friends gathered as the holy ones sang blessings to the ancients. Mary spoke briefly , ask ing that no more tears be shed. She wanted her beloved Luther to be remembered with smiles. She reminded everyone that his hope and his legacy lay with the ancients. She told people to never give in to fear and apathy, never give that power to Olc. Luther expected them to continue his fight ; they would on her watch. The holy ones drew down from Naofa to light the pyre ; all said their final tributes in silence to Luther McBane. The following day, Mary McBane was back at work, running a busy war camp.

General Bennett met with the principals two days later with plans to attack four more major Military bases. She reported that they could expect severe opposition to these attacks and it was her expectation that they would incur the greatest losses to date. The senior officers suggested that attacks now be singular as it would take as many pilots and aircraft as possible to complete each mission. The first base targeted was in the Great Southwestern City . All the senior officers along with Blaine, Morgan, Sally, Jeannie, and Frannie planned to fly to the Bennett Base the day before the raid and then return for an overnight stay after the attack before returning to The Lodge. Declan expressed some concern that the minions would attack again to which Laura reassured all that they would remain quiescent in the near future. The plans for the raid for finalized and scheduled for three days hence.

The pilots flew from The Lodge to the Bennett Base the day prior to the raid. Flight time to the Military base to be attacked was five hours and General Bennett ordered a night attack. At 2100 hours , one hundred and thirty helicopters became airborne. Annique McDaniels, Lynn Chester, and Sam Tannenbaum left airways open as General Amanda Bennett calmly ordered the squadrons into position. At 0200 hours the first bombs fell and then relentlessly thereafter. With every pass, Lieutenant General Stenns, Andrew McDaniels, and Jeannie Dawson dedicated each bomb to Luther McBane. Lughe stood shoulder to shoulder with Curran on the helix, smiling with Noshi as each holy one, as each ancient, as each earthling took victory over small victory until the mission was complete. General Bennett reminded all the pilots to bomb the hell out of the base to rubble and when successful she ordered the pilots to return to the Bennett Base. Fifty helicopters landed at Bennett with tired, humbled, and grateful pilots. After nourishment, all found beds and sleep. Laura remained quiet as always after a raid. Amanda understood the pain; she felt the same herself although she was certain not nearly to the depth as Lohrissa. The priests and priestesses, including Curran and Lughe, held and comforted each other's souls ; all walked the journey to the other side of the pain.

The morning following the raid, the pilots returned to The Lodge. The next raid was planned for one week hence on large base west of the great river and north of Magic One. Amanda told Laura that this would be Spero's last mission as she was promoting him to the rank of Colonel ; moving him to take command of the Ravencouer Base at the end of the eighth month of the new year. Chief Administrator McDaniels had previously approved the promotion and the transfer, stating that they certainly could use the help. Laura hugged her lover; both women knew the real reason for the move. Amanda simply stated there would be no living with Jennie or Jackson if the transfer did not occur She also said she fully expected great protest from Lieutenant Colonel Tristan which he had to know would fall on deaf ears.

The raid on the large Military base west of the great river took place with one hundred and thirty pilots raiding, complete annihilation of the buildings, munitions, and personnel as commanded by General Bennett. Sixty-one pilots returned to The Lodge. Noshi lovingly carried souls through the portal to the helix, those taken forever from the evils of Olc.

When the principals met next, General Bennett reported plans for attacks on two bases, one in the southeast and one in the northeast, scheduled for the end of the ninth month of the New Year. She stated that there plans being developed to attack Central Command, the compound housing the high echelon of The Decision, and to eliminate the huge weapon in the arid sector. She quietly stated that Lieutenant General Ravencouer would finalize plans for almost simultaneous raids on the compound of The Decision and the massive weapon. The General reported on the loss of life and equipment to date , sta ting that they could expect massive loss of pilots and aircraft with the last two raids on large bases and on Central Command. Laura concurred but also stated that their beloved earthlings had grown to understand the value of their lives with the need to care about each other and Mother above greed and apathy. She said they were ready for victory. Lieutenant Stenns quietly remarked that Laura Ravencouer had enough expertise, in her opinion, to make that judgment to which there was a unanimous and simultaneous "Indeed" in response. General Bennett stated that the ensuing weeks would give time to finalize plans on Central Command, the compound housing The Decision, and the weapon in the arid sector. She stated it would also give a few weeks of respite to exhausted personnel including her. Only Laura heard a very quiet response from Nosh i; with that , General Bennett adjourned the meeting. As she returned to her work station, she realized that they had not heard much from Ross Shipman in the past weeks. She remarked on that observation to Laura who replied that she knew that he was listening to every word and suspected he was just very busy. General Bennett could relate and accepted that explanation.

Despite repeated attacks and raping, Mother blessed her earthlings at The Lodge with warm days and gentle breezes. Joyce and Sheila continued to assist with the herds of livestock; Mary directed her sisters and brothers to continue the greenhouse growth as started by both Charlie and Luther. The priestesses took comfort with each other's company. Morgan and Blaine found days on Harlie tours as did Barbara and Lydia . Amanda and Laura found bikinis , spen ding afternoons lazing in the cool waters of the lake and on lounge chairs in the sun. Amanda had one official duty, that of meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Tristan to inform him of his promotion and bully him into his transfer to the Ravencouer Base. She told him refusing was not an option. She reminded him that Lisa and their soon to be born son could live at the ranch ; he could fly the hour's distance easily when he was needed at the base. She told him they would wi n; Doakus would journey with all of them repeatedly but for this lifetime as an earthling he had a family to love and care for. He saluted his commanding officer before hugg ing his dear friend. She told him there would be a brief ceremony after dinner that evening.

Amanda and Laura did not tell anyone of Spero's promotion or transfer. Lydia was surprised to see Amanda in her working uniform as she entered the dining room , teas ing her friend that it appeared that she was entering withdrawal. Amanda smiled and agreed. Spero left the dining room immediately after dinner , asking asked Lisa to stay seated with her friend Mary McBane who had become a mother figure to the young woman during her pregnancy. Lieutenant Colonel Spero Tristan returned in full dress uniform minutes later. Amanda asked for the attention of the diners. She saluted the Lieutenant Colonel before officially promot ing him to the rank of full Colonel. She congratulated him on his promotion and his transfer to take command at the Ravencouer Base at the end of the eighth month of the New Year, only three weeks hence. A very pregnant Lisa rose and walked to hug her beloved , kiss ing him long, hard, and full on the lips. Lydia was weeping once again ; Barbara struggled to keep misted eyes clear. Both women hugged the child they had loved his entire life. Lydia then hugged Amanda , quietly thank ing her as she completely understood the woman's plans and sentiment. Laura hugged Lydia and repeated that she was entirely too easy. Lisa then quietly whispered that it might be a long night as their son was about to make his appearance finally. Spero became instantly ashen ; Amanda moved to catch him in case of faint. She told him to get a grip, reminding him that he could bomb the hell out of anything and had. She also reminded him that women had been bearing children since Mother allowed earthlings to live among her ; Lisa was no different. Laura was already on the computer and notifying Drew McDaniels to get a helicopter in the air to bring Niki Cee and his mother to the Lodge as Niki was needed.

A pilot successfully transported Lou Shipman and Niki Cee to the Lodge in two and one half hours from Laura's request. Niki immediately went to Lisa's quarters , attend ing the young woman who was coping remarkably well. Dr. Warner Gordon knew better than to even offer medical assistance. He knew of Niki Cee's reputation from his studies at Sanctuary, fully understanding that Lisa Redhawk and her child could not be in better hands. Jeannie laughed at Sally who could not stop pacing, retorting that someone had to take on that task and it might as well be her. As the time of birth approached, Lisa asked that the priestesses enter the room along with Sally and Jeannie. Mary McBane had not left Lisa's side , continuing quiet-spoken encouragement as Lisa prepared to bring forth her son. Spero had seen hundreds of foals and calves born as a child at the ranch , stat ing he had grown to be completely unfazed by the process. However, he stood in awe as his beloved smiled , t elling him to shut u p; it was called labor for a reason. Mary, Jeannie, Lou, and Blaine had knowing smiles remembering the births of their own children. Just as the sun found first light above the mountaintops, Niki took Spero's hands , help ing him guide his son into the world. A soul was gently given up by Noshi with love as the child took his first breath and cried his greeting to those who welcomed him. The holy ones emerged in full auras. Lohrissa took the child and blessed him as Doakus named him Luther Jackson Charles Tristan. Laura then handed Jack to Just Lydia and then to Just Barbara before taking him to his mother's waiting arms. Morgan was sobbing. Iobairt had seen the arrival of souls many times since the first spiral of the helix. Lindsay returned to Iobairt's memory , giving up thanks for the birth of this new child. Morgan was completely amazed as she had not seen a child born before. Sally also wept openly, thanking Spero, Lisa, and Niki for allowing her to witness that miracle. Jeannie kissed her lover gently , remind ing her that this is why they kicked ass. Amanda took dozens of photographs , choosing one of Spero, Lisa and their son to send to the principals, the ranch, and Sanctuary. She returned to the command centre alone and prepared to send the news of joy at The Lodge. As she did, Aine heard a quiet but def Textfeld: .
inite "Roger that!" in her soul. Amanda Bennett finally understood.

She walked to the common room just as Laura descended the stairs. Almost every resident had crowded into the common room and dining room to await the news of the baby's arrival. Amanda still had a look of wonder on her face as she announced the welcome of Luther Jackson Charles Tristan, baby Jack. Her news was met with resounding cheers and tears from almost every eye. Hope had been reborn; the reason to continue to victory was sustained. Celeste and her crew immediately sent nourishment to the new parents as well as Niki. Lou found her way to the dining room and the company of Lydia and Barbara who were radiant with gold auras still emerged. She took Morgan's hands in hers, gave down blessings to Iobairt, and their beloved Lindsay. Morgan hugged her new friend in return. Morgan kept shaking her head, telling Blaine and Lou that she had a hard time believing that any woman would go through that on purpose. Blaine kissed her young lover long, hard, and full on the mouth several times , telling her she was exceedingly glad that at least one other woman had chosen to do that on purpose. Amanda returned to her suite to change clothing and to reflect on her new understanding of her destiny, of their journeys. Laura found her lover, her priestess, still shimmering with a silver aura. Amanda looked at Laura with wonder and joy. She said she finally understood. Laura's only response was one of a radiant smile and arms open to hold her eternal mate.

Niki and Lou stayed for three more days as it was Niki's practice to follow and assist all her new families for that length of time. Lisa and Spero introduced Jack to all their friends as they met for dinner the day following his birth. Niki and Mary McBane beamed as Lisa glowed with the love of motherhood and smiled as they watched Spero attempt recovery with transition to the state of fatherhood. Before Lisa walked to find her dinner food, she placed Jack in Just Lydia's arms; the usually acerbic Lieutenant General whispered to her new friend, each lost in a world of new permanent connection. After dinner, a helicopter landed on the tarmac with only Laura and Amanda knowing the passengers. Amanda excused herself ; when out of Lydia 's line of vision beckoned for Barbara to join her. She took her friend's han d; both women walked to the yard to be greeted by Jennie and Scott Tristan, Spero's parents, and Jackson, baby Jack's great grandfather. Barbara had not seen her friends since her return from Naofa ; she ran to be enveloped in her great friend's arms. Jennie could not contain herself as she walked to the door of the common room. Spero saw his mother before all other and walked to he r, weeping. Lydia then saw Jackson, a dear and old friend she had not seen for months. Spero took his son from Lydia 's arms and walked to his grandfather, introducing him to Jack Tristan. Declan and Andrew McDaniels then greeted their mother and their friends. Declan stated that Ross was running the store to which Amanda quietly replied that all was likely well. Declan flew from Ravencouer to the ranch where he had no problems convincing Jack's grandparents and great grandfather to join him to fly to The Lodge. When the initial excitement and tears had subsided, Spero introduced his son to Chief Administrator Declan McDaniels ; the great hulk of a man wept as he held the new child. Even his mother was guilty of shedding a few tears when she looked at her son. She knew he absolutely adored children ; it was his anger of being robbed of that privilege in his own life years earlier that had spurred him on to fight and then lead.

Niki insisted that the new family return to quarters for rest. Declan stated that that they needed to return to Ravencouer. Before their departure, Lou asked to speak to those gathered. She found Lisa, Spero, and Jack. Lou recounted briefly the story about her brother Ross giving Laura's mother Thea a silver coin, drilled through with a leather cord acting as a chain. She told the story of her father Seymour giving the coin to Ross when he chose to become part of the Northern Resistance. Ross passed the coin to Thea when she and Tom escaped to the north , start ing Sanctuary. Ross asked that the first child of the next generation born to the North be given the coin. Thea named the coin the Silver Nova. Thea did pass the coin on as did the generations born after that. Lou said that before she moved Stephan Redhawk had passed Silver Nova back to Lou as a remembrance of her friend and her heritage. Lou took the coin from her pocket and slipped the leather cord around baby Jack's neck, stating that Thea, her father, and Ross passed on blessings for hope and renewal. Laura and Amanda both heard a soft whisper in their souls.

Declan, Drew, Jennie, Scott, and Jackson departed after hugs and tears. Lydia reminded them that the new Tristan family planned to move north to the ranch in three weeks ; the weep fest could stop any time. Laura gathered Amanda in her arms on the tarmac , telling her that history would show indeed that she was a compassionate, brave, and very much loved commander-in-chief and general. Amanda only smiled her thanks.

Niki and Lou returned to their home three days after Jack's birth. Many friends including the priestesses helped Lisa and Spero prepare for their move home to the ranch. Spero reported that the raids to free men from labor camps would continue; Amanda reminded him that after victory there would be no further need. She told him to go to Ravencouer ; to continue to help all their brothers and sisters south of the wall rebuild their lives. Colonel Tristan promised the General that he would personally supervise removal of the wall and the last vestige of oppression.

Chapter 21

The principals met again in the first week of the ninth month of the New Year. General Bennett outlined plans for the attack on the second last remaining major base, located in the northeastern sector of the Great Southeastern City . The flight time from The Lodge was estimated at two and one-half hours. Lieutenant General Lorimer, Colonel Sean Taylor, Alex Taylor, Andrew McDaniels along with two hundred solo pilots and helicopters were scheduled to fly to The Lodge at 2200 hours one week from the meeting date. The small base originally raided by Lieutenant General Ravencouer along with Railway Three would be used to house pilots overnight prior to the raid. Once again, General Bennett would command the attack. The commander of the Avalon navy suggested that they attack the coastline hours before the time of the raid to provide some distraction. He said that so far the clowns who called themselves Military officers could not lead their way out of a paper bag ; he saw an easy distraction very possible. General Bennett stated that in total three hundred and fifty pilots and aircraft would participate in the raid. She also stated that she anticipated significant defense and therefore substantial loss of life. She did state, however, that they would return victorious. No-one had any doubts.

Roy Crosby returned to The Lodge three days before the raid , aiding his wife and her crew prepare food to feed three hundred and fifty pilots housed in two bases as well as The Lodge. Celeste took the extra work all in her stride e; she knew there was no time to waste energy in concern. The woman knew how to cook and feed people ; she had made a stellar career of it. This congregation would be no different. Roy loved the woman , never ceas ing to be thoroughly amazed by her skills and her attitude. Mary McBane showed her calm resolve as she prepared for many more temporary guests at The Lodge. She said that Luther came to her almost daily; in his usual quiet and exceedingly insistent manner told her exactly what needed to be done and when. She said there was no point in arguing with the old boy as he was almost always right.

Ever since the day of Jack's birth, Amanda Bennett found a sense of calm that rose above the fatigue of war. She understood their destinies , knowing exactly how they would be carried out. She still needed to walk with her beloved Laura though the pain of lost lives to the other side of that pain but she knew that those souls would join them all on the helix and would be returned to a free world just as Jack had been. Laura gave down thanks daily to her ancients not only for Amanda in her life for all the years and for the love they continued to share but more importantly for the peace and insight her priestess found. Laura also knew that Lydia , Barbara, Morgan, and Blaine also understood their destinies in their souls.

Jeannie told Sally that she knew that there were significant changes coming and quickly. Sally said she was certain of a victory to which Jeannie replied it would happen but at a huge cost. She took her lover's hand, telling her that they would be home at the coast soon ; she expected Mary would join them. She did not mention Laura and Amanda as in her soul she knew they were part of the great changes on the near horizon.

The navy Avalon started a continuous assault on the northeastern coastline four hours before the scheduled raid on the Military base. Many pilots were in the air to attempt to defend the coast as General Bennett ordered the first of relentless bombing attacks on the base. She ordered Andrew McDaniels and Lieutenant General Lorimer to prepare for returning aircraft and air to air battle. The Military pilots did return to the base to find it bombed to rubble ; in short order those souls joined Noshi's loving arms as he ushered them through the portal. Only ninety pilots and helicopters returned to The Lodge after which General Amanda Bennett briefly reported to the principals that the mission had been a success.

The last major Military base was located just south of the formerly populated sector of the Great Southeastern City . The same contingent of pilots and helicopters were planned. Two nights before the raid, Amanda asked Laura for a dinner date in their suite. Laura already knew the topic of conversation but she was always happy to spend quiet time with the love of her life. Celeste managed to outdo herself ; both women enjoyed food better than they could have ever found in any fine dining establishment of their youths. Both women talked about their assets and plans for them. There was complete agreement between them that Sally Palmer would take that responsibility once victory was assured. Both women knew that she and Jeannie planned to return to the coast to live out natural lives with the reversal of the effects of the vaccine. Neither Amanda nor Laura had any sadness, only hope and a certain excitement about their new journeys already planned by the grandfather and Lohrissa. In the shower, Amanda whispered that she wondered if love as only a priestess would be as wonderful as an earthling and a priestess. Laura grinned , telling her that in her eons of experience Lohrissa said it was very much more as only a priestess.

Three hundred and fifty pilots were airborne at 2200 hours two nights hence. General Bennett ordered complete destruction of the remaining major Military base, reminding every pilot that there were no options save for complete victory. She calmly spoke of the need to defeat the bastards who had murdered those they had promised to protect. Forty six pilots returned to The Lodge victorious. The remaining battle at Central Command and the compound housing The Decision were all that stood between insanity and freedom.

General Bennett spent days working late into the night, planning for the final attack. She understood that there was only possible outcome as did all those remaining to fight. She also knew that they would stop the destruction of the weapon in the arid sector. She knew exactly how the final dance would be played out. She talked to Laura at length about the exact timing before she met with the other priestesses.

Amanda found Sally , asking her if she could take some of her stash of scotch for a meeting with the priestesses as they were likely to need a couple of wee drams. Sally asked no questions , returning with four bottles of fine liquor and six shot glasses. Amanda smiled her thanks and told her friend that they would explain soon. Amanda then invited the priestesses to her suite after dinner that evening. She told Morgan that she would be the commander for the mission to raid Central Command and then the compound housing the decision. Morgan did not reply , looked at the General with complete disbelief. She told the young woman to cease being Morgan and listen to the ancient warrior Iobairt. Laura explained that the earthlings were finally ready to affect the victory and claim their lives back. They finally understood the horrors of greed and apathy ; the holy ones would let them rule themselves once again. Nobody believed there would not be a need again in the future of the planet for intervention once again but a final victory over Olc was within reach. Laura stated that they could expect the minions to fight back as the raid progressed. She also said that Iobairt and Alesta were powerful enough to fight back , sending them back to Olc for a long time. Amanda said that Curran and Lughe would also join the fight. Laura then explained about the weapon the arid sector, one that would destroy most of Mother and all living things she fostered. Amanda poured shots of scotch and passed them out to her friends. She then sat quietly , explaining that Lemanychia, Briallen, Aine, and Lohrissa would envelop and dissipate the weapon. All six women sat silently but not with sadness. They gave down thanks that they had been given power and strength by Curran, Lughe, and Noshi such that they would carry out the destinies planned for them. Blaine finally asked if there was a time line for these events. Amanda replied that she needed to finalize with the principals but she proposed one week hence. Auras emerged as six earthlings loved their sisters with joy, knowing that they would carry that love forward to the future.

General Bennett met with the principals the following day. Amanda outlined the plans for the attacks on Central Command and then the compound housing The Decision. She explained the Morgan Downhey would command the mission supported by five hundred pilots and bombers. She then explained that she along with Lieutenant Generals Stenns, Maclippe, and Ravencouer would simultaneously dissipate the massive weapon in the arid sector. She said they would need no pilot support , all travel ing in one aircraft. She stated that timing was crucial for the final minutes of the mission as the minions of Olc were expected and would need defeat. Laura explained that the priestesses Iobairt and Alesta walking in Morgan and Blaine 's bodies were strong enough to send the minions back to Olc for a very long time. She reassured that the remaining priestesses had strength and power enough to defeat the weapon and would. There was complete silence as all the principals struggled to comprehend the information they had been given. General Bennett stated that the date for the attack was chosen for six days hence. She said pilots would fly from the Bennett Base under the direction of Lieutenant Serena Lorimer. She stated that a day raid was in order as it was to no advantage now to attack at night.

In the evening after the meeting, Andrew McDaniels arrived at The Lodge, unannounced. He asked to speak with General Bennett and then with Laura. He prefaced his conversation by telling her the issue would be non-negotiable. He also stated that Annique was in complete agreement , g giving down her blessings as a very wise old ancient. He said he would be flying he helicopter with the priestesses when they attacked the weapon. Amanda started to speak in protest ; before she could Drew told her that he understood the implications completely . It was his honor and his destiny to do so. He quietly stated that Amanda must have realized that he had been sent to help in Siochain and the new country soon to be called Aiserigh. Declan and he had talked for hours about his decision ; Declan offered only his blessings. Both knew that Declan had work left here as an earthling, teaching others to lead in Siochain and Aiserigh. Drew smiled as he told Amanda that he would travel with his brother through eternity as they had since the first spiral of the helix, finding battles to win for those who chose life over evil. Both then found Laura who smiled her blessings, stating that she knew of Drew's destiny long before he arrived on earth as an infant.

Two days before the raid, Laura and Amanda returned Sally's bottles of scotch , ask ing to meet with her for a wee dram among friends. They did not tell her of the plans other than those she knew, being one of the bomber pilots. Amanda asked that she become responsible for care taking of their combined assets in the future. Sally was taken aback for several minutes before t elling her friends that it would be her honor to do so should the need ever arise. Some part of the very old ancient knew that was imminent. The night before the raid the priestesses enjoyed dinner in the dining room with their usual banter. Then each woman took their lovers to their suites and journeys to the ancients and the multiverse. None needed the verbal expression of love now dwelling at each of their cores.

The raids were scheduled for 1400 hours and the pilots at The Lodge were on the tarmac and ready for takeoff at 1100 hours. Morgan and Amanda had talked at length of the need for precise timing of the final attack on the compound housing The Decision. No-one save for the holy ones, Drew, Declan, and Annique knew of the plans for Laura, Amanda Lydia, and Barbara to fly southwest in Drew's helicopter once they became airborne. Sam and Lynn found it somewhat odd that Morgan Downhey was the commander for this final mission but also understood that General Bennett did not make errors in her judgment about leaders. All six priestesses arose with full auras emerged which did not leave while they prepared for battle. Nobody found that disconcerting , f finding comfort in the visible presence of Naofa.

Lieutenant General Serena Lorimer notified the command center that they were approaching the airspace above The Lodge. As such, General Bennett gave command to Morgan and the aircraft were airborne. All but one flew east to meet the enemy at Central Command. The attack on the major base started at 1400 hours. Iobairt commanded in an aura of shimmering jade as she passionately ordered the pilots to remember ever starving face they had seen, to remember every dead child they had buried, to remember every earthling ravaged by mental and physical trauma at the hands of evil. Drew left the airways open so that the priestesses on board could hear the young woman cajole, lead, berate, and love victory into those attacking. Amanda smiled as she heard Laura Ravencouer's voice once again from the battles in the north years before. Laura sat quietly, remembering her life and the blessings she had received. She thought to the future of her beloved earthlings , knowing that she would see many again in Naofa.

Morgan continued to command complete destruction of Central Command ; less than two hours later she declared that portion of the mission a success. There had been no loss of pilots or aircraft. Drew notified his passengers that they were approaching the coordinates Sterling Carland had provided for location of the massive weapon. Amanda told him to continue to flog it around until her command to descend.

Morgan then led the pilots to the systematic attack of the compound housing The Decision. With the same passion in her voice, she urged the pilots to defeat those who had murdered and starved. As the battles drew to a close and as the compound was reduced to rubble, the skies opened ; hell rained down from above with fire, ice, lightening, wind, and steel shards. Morgan commanded that the pilots continue the attack on the buildings below as the minions were met. Lohrissa commanded that they leave the earthlings and return to the hell they called home. With unnatural laughter and then screams of rage, Hsub the Greater led Drof, Grinnam, Rialb, Noxin, and Nworb in an attack on the pilots. Amanda told Drew to fly to position and hover. Lieutenant Serena Lorimer ordered the squadrons to continuously bomb as Morgan and Blaine flew to higher altitudes , centering above the remaining building containing the remaining leaders of The Decision, now obviously completely controlled by Olc. The lesser minions were driven back with forces not expected by the evil ones. The wrath of Hsub the Greater increased, Blaine and Morgan prepared for the brunt. As predicted, fear and evil overtook a leader who started deployment ; the doors of the bunker housing the massive weapon opened. When they were full y engaged, Amanda simply said "Now" to Morgan and Blaine. Each pilot approached , leading the minion closer to the compound. He was taunted to attack which he did, causing both helicopters, each laden with explosives and bombs, to spiral downwards to the remaining building. Alesta the Defender and Iobairt the Warrior then attacked and splintered the minion Hsub the Greater, driving the evil back to the hell it called home. At the same time, with whispers of "Amo Te" and "Take Me Home", Lemanychia, Briallen, Aine, and Lohrissa enveloped and dissipated the elements of the massive weapon in an implosion that drove them all back to the arms of Mother. In seconds, there were no signs of a helicopter or a bunker and only a scarred portion o f ground .

The portal glowed in bronze ; in the background voices s ang songs of blessings welcoming the ancient Andrew McDaniels and the priestesses Iobairt, Alesta, Lemanychia, Briallen, Aine, and Lohrissa. Curran and Lughe knelt as their sister priestesses walked along the corridor. Noshi shouted out his blessings to the ancients and to the earthlings above; from the grandfather all heard his joyous exclamations of "Roger that!!"



The End

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