Robbie wondered where the time went. The embassy was nearly finished and Cierra was making several trips a day transporting supplies and men in suits. Robby chuckled over the people who were dressed like they were in an office. This was the wilderness and the three-piece suits and ties were silly. So were the women in skirts and high heels although Robbie had enjoyed the view.
Cierra and Kelly had both made several trips after discussing needs for the colony. Kelly planned on making changes to the website, asking for skilled people to join the colony. So far, among the hopefuls, they still lacked certain skills for the village. For one, they needed a dentist. Although their diets were much better and they lacked sugary foods, there was going to be a time when they needed dental care.
Another person they would need was someone who knew the old way of making eyeglasses. Laura had already made a comment about having trouble seeing fine print. She was the second oldest person in the Colony and others would soon be in the same boat, their eyes aging and not being able to see as well as before. Then too were the few people who wore glasses. They might break the ones they had or their eyes could change and need different prescriptions. They just didn't have the means to make them.
Robbie sighed. Every day brought new concerns for the council. Now they would have strangers on their world with their own agendas and values. She hoped they hadn't made a mistake in allowing them to build on Mother Earth.
Cierra approached Robbie and asked if she was ready for another jump. She had been told there was three more people to arrive and that the next day the last of the construction workers would return home. The crew would return in the warmer weather of spring to build the new long houses.
"Sure, who are we fetching now?"
"I'm not sure. Someone important but no one will say who."
"I hate surprises when it comes to politicians."
"Me too but let's just get this over with, Robbie. JP has already bitten her nails down to stubs and can't take much more today."
Robbie chewed her lip and nodded. JP looked like she needed a stiff drink and a vacation. Any traveling into the Old World left her shaken any more. JP was leaning against her hands at a table and dozing, oblivious to the hubbub around her as people set up rooms and equipment. Robbie placed her hand on Cierra's arm and they jumped to the Embassy site in the Old World.
They returned to the secured field. A high stone fence had been built around the property and soldiers were assigned to guarding it even though the building hadn't been started yet.
The pair looked around and wondered whom they needed to take back with them. No one seemed to be waiting for them and only the guards could be seen. They waited for nearly twenty minutes when a motorcade arrived. The large black car in the center stopped a few yards from them. The driver quickly got out and opened the passenger door.
The kindly faced man stepped out and smiled at Cierra.
"It's a pleasure seeing you again, Ms. White."
"For me also, Mr. Vice President."
"Just call me Michael. We're going to see one another from time to time and may as well be on a first name basis. Are you feeling all right? I know they kept you busy all day and that can't be easy on an expectant mother."
"I'm fine. Just a bit tired. Are you planning on staying overnight?" Cierra asked, seeing the driver remove several pieces of baggage from the rear of the car.
"Yes. That is if you don't mind taking me back in a few days. I thought I'd look around a little and see how things are going."
Cierra smiled and introduced Robbie to the VP. Robbie looked down at the thin man and smiled politely. The man tucked Cierra's hand in the crook of his arm in an old-fashioned manner while Robbie just rested her hand on her Queen's shoulder. The older man wobbled a little until the dizziness passed.
The Embassy's personnel attended the VP, taking his bags and offering to take him to his quarters. Michael promised to seek them out the next day and allowed the attendants to lead him away.
· * * * *
Cierra sipped the special brewed coffee with pleasure. It was the first coffee she had in a year and a half and the taste left her humming in pleasure.
Michael chuckled in amusement and took a bite of his quiche. He had invited the village's council to the Embassy for breakfast and to chat about a few things.
He looked directly at Laura and Kelly when he began. "I understand that you were less than enthused about the idea of a ship being used by the scientists."
The couple looked at Cierra. They had told her about the request and knew she liked the idea even less than they had.
"That's right. The idea of that many soldiers on Mother Earth, even if they are mostly Cadets, is scary. Michael, I just can't get forget what Major Calloway did to me. He was willing to kill me and use me for his own means. People in the military are people too and add weapons to the mix?" Cierra shivered. "I just can't let them come here in any real numbers. I'm sure you can understand that."
"We never learned the entire truth to that incident, Cierra. He wouldn't answer us to our satisfaction so he was discharged and given an early retirement. We're very sorry for what happened." Michael pushed aside his plate and leaned on the table. "I can understand your fears. If I were you I'd feel the same way. You and your people are sitting on a gold mine and know what greed can do to people.
"But what we want is to explore your alternative universe. It could answer many questions about nature and global warming. On top of that, the appeal to the public over the wildlife has people fascinated. There are zoo curators that would give their firstborns to get their hands on some of the extinct species from Mother Earth. Do you realize there are Mastodons here?"
The women looked surprised. They hadn't seen any of the hairy elephant-like creatures. Laura asked what was on all their minds. "How do you know?"
"From our security expert, Tom Roberts. He brought along a pedal powered glider and took a look around yesterday. He spotted a small herd of them to the east. For the price of a mating pair of them you could almost write your own ticket on Earth," the Vice President told them, hoping to pique their interest.
Most of the women shook their heads. They knew very well that the greed from the Old World could easily provide them with all the luxuries they could dream of but for what purpose? To recreate the same lazy and greedy culture all over again? They came there to live a different life and to make a new beginning.
They could already see it with the children. Instead of a bunch of kids who spent their day in front of a video game they had kids who were helpful, hard-working, and well on their way to becoming adults of substance and character. Why ruin everything by bringing in modern technology and vices.
The Vice President realized that approach would get him no where. He had a few other options to offer them as well. "Well, putting aside their wanting a few animals from Mother Earth there is still the need to learn what we can about her environment. We know you have a few doctors here but what about the next generation? We're prepared to finance the formal education of anyone from your world who wants to go to medical school or anything else that might be useful to you, like lab science and chemistry."
"Our children would be so unfamiliar with how the modern world worked they would be lost," Kelly told him.
"Perhaps culturally, but on Earth we could still teach them on campus and give them tutors. They wouldn't be there for a degree but to learn. Let's face it, medical students can't learn everything from just two doctors, they need to also learn new methods and treat real people. And who knows, our engineers might develop methods to provide energy that doesn't cause pollution in a generation or two. Wouldn't you like having your own children understand how it works?"
The women weakened. They didn't really need things like power but for a few things like food preservation they could use a few better techniques than what they had to settle for here. Michael saw that he was getting through and pushed his advantage.
"The ship we want to bring here is sail powered but it does have an engine for emergencies. It also has a way to make salt water drinkable and huge cargo areas. It is a large ship and needs a large crew to run it but the number of Cadets could be reduced and we can keep the Cadet crew to one third of normal. Besides, the scientists will needs lots of equipment and storage space for specimens and catalogs they would be keeping. They would probably be on that ship for a long time and needs lots of supplies. Normally the range for the ship is just over 5000 miles before they dock and pick up supplies. Obviously they can't do it on Mother Earth."
Robbie knew the crew would have to live off the land. "They'd hunt and gather edible plants when they go ashore."
"Exactly. When they go ashore they would need camping equipment and hunting weapons. We have no idea what wildlife exists on this world. For all we know one of the other continents might still have dinosaurs. They have to be prepared for almost anything. We can't ask them to go unarmed. I know you understand that and would agree to some sort of arms aboard." He saw they were thinking about it and decided to let them sleep on it. Sometimes it was better to let ideas sink in rather than twist arms.
"Why don't you all talk it over and let me know later on, alright?"
The women agreed so he withdrew and changed the subject.
· * * * *
Sara saw Mary ride back into the village just before sunset. The Colonel was wearing a tan camp shirt under her jacket and straight leg jeans. Sara had to admit that Mary was very nice to look at, with her strong thighs expertly guiding the horse while she handed one of the women a bundle she brought from the Embassy. Mary dismounted and gave the horse an affectionate petting before leading him to the stables.
The guilty pleasure of watching the graceful sway of the officer's hips made Sara feel like she was doing something wrong. She had feelings for Ann even though their relationship wasn't romantic. Just because Ann was straight didn't mean she could turn off her feelings overnight. She knew Joseph was staying in the long house and that eventually he and Ann would marry.
Ann hadn't asked Sara to move out but she didn't have to. Sara had packed her belongings and returned to the women's barracks the same day. It wasn't the same without her friend to spend time with and she felt lonely. The young woman had begun wondering if her feelings for Ann developed because of loneliness rather than attraction.
Too many thoughts raced around in her mind at night, making sleep difficult. Then too was the sound of women making love in the dark, reminding Sara that it had been a very long time since she last had sex.
At the thought her mind returned to Mary and how her closeness had set her senses on fire. There was no doubt in Sara's mind that Mary would be one hell of a lover.
"Sara, you idiot, go get some dinner and go to bed," she mumbled, knowing she'd have to take care of her little problem later on.
· * * *
"Okay, we will allow it."
Michael smiled at Cierra. "Wonderful! When I get back I'll get the ball rolling. Thank you everyone."
Cierra nodded and held back a sigh. The council and her had debated all night over the subject and the group barely passed on the vote to allow it. There were still many doubts about letting the cutter and crew come to Mother Earth.
"We do have demands though, Michael. My honor guard will accompany me to the location and we will personally inspect the ship before a single crewman or scientist boards it."
"I never doubted that, Queen Cierra. Anything else?"
"Yes. Robbie wants you to choose three people who will be in charge of supplying and loading equipment onto the ship. No one else may help them or board it until after they finish and I will interview them. If their thoughts give me any doubts I'll let that ship sit there and go home. The scientists will never get another opportunity to study on Mother Earth. Is that clear?"
The Vice President let out a tired breath. The women really distrusted the government and he knew he couldn't blame them. "I'll do that one better Cierra. I'll personally chose a group of servicemen who will surround that ship and make sure no one gets near it while they load everything on board. I'll even have cameras set up around it and the video feed will go directly to your hotel suite where you can watch in comfort."
He leaned forward and locked eyes with her, his gaze serious and honest. "I promise you that nothing but the basic hunting equipment will go on board. I know how little you actually trust the military and I will keep a firm leash on them."
"Thank you, Michael. That means a lot to all of us. Mother Earth is too important to not only us but to our children. We don't want it turning into what we left behind."
"It may be more important than you think. Call this my over-active imagination but what would happen to the human race if some disaster happened on the Old World? The fact that Mother Earth exists gives me comfort. I know somewhere mankind will keep on going and survive."
Cierra smiled, happy that he understood. She took him back to Old Earth later that day with the agreement that she and her honor guard would meet with Mary Webb's security unit in two weeks. They would escort her to the East Coast where the ship was docked.
· * * *
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