Cyd watched her friend as she swung an axe at the large tree. JP swung the heavy axe like it weighted nothing, swinging like a machine at the tree trunk while chunks of bark and wood scattered with each blow. The tree was easily eighteen inches in diameter but it wouldn’t stand for long. JP finished one side and began chopping at the opposite side until cracking of wood could be heard. Soon the tree began tilting and fell to the ground with a loud rumble.
JP looked up and sent her a glare that would wither the balls off a brass statue. “No.” The lanky woman began hacking away at the limbs of the fallen tree. Cyd shook her head. JP was rapidly losing weight and looked like hell.
“Too bad. Dinner is in about forty minutes. Go clean up and join us at the communal building.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Tough. JP, you look like a skeleton and the bags under your eyes are big enough to carry poodles.” JP ignored her and kept chopping. “You aren’t the only one who is worried JP. You’re one of the council and its time you acted like it. Go clean up before I take a switch to your skinny ass.”
JP swung the axe and embedded it into the log. “My wife might be dead and you think I’m just pouting? Fuck you!”
JP took a swing at her powerful friend and even connected with her chin. But the lack of food and her labor had weakened her arms and her punch wouldn’t have dropped a sickly butterfly. JP sunk to her knees and began weeping, finally admitting that Cierra might never return.
Cyd felt her own eyes tear up as she bent down to comfort her friend.
· * * *
Lt. Colonel Mary Webb handed Major Winthrop his newest orders so he could read them. He grunted and looked up at her.
“She’d feel better with a female officer, eh?” He saluted the Colonel who would be replacing him and left for his next assignment.
Mary walked up the corridor and gave orders to two of the male soldiers who would also be replaced. Mary wanted to have at least some of the guards to be female as well. Within a short time she had everyone’s schedule set and approved then had one of the guards escort her to the Queen’s room.
Mary saw the young woman in the bed. She was watching the television with a bored expression on her face. Cierra looked up and knew without asking that this was the Major’s replacement. The woman was stunning and certainly looked good in a uniform.
She was tall and looked like a surfer girl model, with long legs and huge blue eyes. Her hair was lightened by the sun and was probably light brown normally. She had full lips and dimples when she smiled. Hallie must have been insane to break it off with her and wondered what the story had been with them.
“Hello. I’m Colonel Webb. I’ve been assigned to take over the security for you while you’re here.” The woman walked into the room and held out her hand.
Cierra shook it and allowed her guard down to read her. The information she received set her mind at ease. The woman was kind but determined officer who just wanted to serve her country. She had no hidden agendas and shined from within. If she hadn’t fallen hard for JP she might have tried her romantic luck with the officer.
“It’s nice to meet you Colonel. Please, sit down.”
“Thank you, Queen Cierra. I hope we’ll get along while you’re here. I’ll do my best to make your stay safe and pleasant as I can. Is there anything special you need?”
“Call me Cierra, please, and no, I don’t need anything right now. I was reading some letters from the White House and trying to let it sink in. Would they really let me have an embassy built?”
“Well, sure although they would hope you’d allow them to have one on Mother Earth as well.”
“I never thought of that. I guess what I need to do is have Hallie arrange for a meeting of some sort.”
“That would be a good idea. It might take months of negotiating to get the ball rolling.”
Cierra’s eyes opened wide. She had gotten accustomed to how things were done on Mother Earth.
Cierra laughed. “I forgot how plodding government was here. We have a council meeting, make a plan and carry it out. We don’t discuss it to death. My idea of an agreement would be to talk it over during breakfast and have it hashed over before it my eggs got cold.”
“No committee meetings?”
“Nope. We hate red tape and laws. If we say we need something built we find a few people to help out and start it. Why waste time?”
The officer’s eyebrows lifted. “I wonder if there would be an opening at the US Embassy on Mother Earth?” she mused.
“Wear that uniform while visiting there and there’d be a dozen requests from our women for your presence,” Cierra teased.
· * * *
Hallie and the Colonel quickly made arrangements for the next day. The Vice President and cabinet members would arrive and as Cierra mentioned, would discuss formal diplomatic ties during breakfast. The idea had appealed to the officials who had to admit the long drawn out process of getting even the smallest of laws passed could be tiring. If Cierra was serious then they wanted to make arrangements as quickly as they could.
Arrangements were made to transport Cierra to a nearby luxury hotel where a private banquet hall would be used. Security had been quickly organized and the Colonel would escort Cierra quite early in the morning.
Cierra was already awake when the officer arrived. The colonist was accustomed to waking at sunrise and the early hour didn’t bother her.
Clothing had been sent the night before and Cierra had been helped by two nurses to shower and wash her hair.
She was taken in a wheelchair along a secured route to a waiting limo just outside an emergency exit. Hallie was waiting for her in the limo and greeted her warmly, pleased to be included in the treaty negotiations. Before Cierra knew it she was being wheeled into the dining room where over twenty people were waiting for her arrival.
The Vice President stood first and greeted her formally.
She smiled warmly at the man and everyone began serving them selves. The meal was served buffet style to keep the hotel staff out of the room. One of Cierra’s guards filled her plate for her while another wheeled her along the long tables of assorted warmed trays and platters of food.
Cierra made her choices then told her guards to get something for them after they took her to her place at the table. They were reluctant but she insisted. She wouldn’t allow them to go hungry while everyone else ate.
The Colonel nodded at them and they thanked the visiting queen before heading for the tables.
The Vice President and she spoke while they ate. In spite of the number of people in the room it was rather quiet other than the sound of eating around them. Everyone listened to the conversation and only occasionally added his or her own thoughts.
Everyone was surprised when things were quickly discussed and agreed upon. Cierra would allow them to build a US Embassy on Mother Earth near their village at the United State’s expense, along with their building one for the colonists on the Old World. The only conditions were that the Embassy built on the New World had to follow the ecology restrictions the citizens of Mother Earth followed. Nothing could be brought in that required gas or power plants. If they wished, they could bring in solar panels to run their equipment but nothing could be gas powered.
The U.S. would also pay for the support of the Embassy built on the Old World in exchange for the rights to collect breeding pairs of endangered species that still existed on the Old World and could send scientists and specialists to study on Mother Earth. They could even pan for gold if they wished while there. No hunting parties would be allowed unless they were hunting for food and the animal was not wasted. No trophy hunting would be permitted.
Basically, the visitors could do as they wished as long as they didn’t bother the natives, pollute or disrupt the environment, or try to remove living creatures that were now extinct on the Old World from Mother Earth. Cierra quoted their charter word for word and it was recorded for the Vice President’s use. Anyone visiting had to honor the charter even though they were not citizens of Mother Earth. Since the charter was simple and to the point no one had a problem with it.
Also, a small location within both Embassies would be kept clear for Cierra’s usage so she could jump from one location to the other in safety. One thing Cierra did state was that she never wanted more than twenty members of the military present on Mother Earth at any given time. She didn’t want them to be there in numbers large enough to make her worry over. Civilian visitors would be limited to seventy-five.
None of the restrictions seemed outrageous and an agreement was quickly written up. It was signed and witnessed even before everyone had finished eating.
The Vice President grinned and asked when they could begin building. She could begin transporting equipment and materials to Mother Earth for them to build with once she was given medical clearance.
With that prod, Hallie suggested that her client return to the hospital before her doctors had a fit. Cierra thanked them for the meal and she and her party left.
The Vice President told his aide to get cracking and make arrangements to purchase land near the farm the women had originally owned.
· * * * *
Two days later the doctors gave Cierra her walking papers. She contacted Hallie and Colonel Webb. Both would escort her to the farm so she could return to her family. Both women requested to see the colony and Cierra told them to bring along luggage and plan to stay for a few days. The officer contacted her superiors and got permission to remain for several days.
Hallie left a message with the senior partner and brought along several suitcases.
Once again they went through strict security in order to transport Cierra. The women sat together in the limo while they were escorted with full diplomatic regalia. It had to have been a shocking sight to see a line of black cars and motorcycle police heading down the two-lane highway in Napa Valley.
They reached the farm later that morning and Mary and Hallie helped Cierra to her feet. A soldier gave Cierra her crutches and saluted her, telling her it had been an honor serving her. Cierra smiled and gave him a friendly salute in return. She noted his name and would probably request him in the future.
The three women stood alone once the Shaman chose her jumping spot and had the two women place their hands on her arms. “Ready? You’ll be dizzy for a few seconds but it passes.”
Her companions said they were ready and she concentrated. Cierra felt the reassuring sensation and they arrived just outside the village’s perimeter. It took all of a few seconds for someone to spot her and shout to everyone that Cierra had come home.
Before Cierra could say anything she was surrounded by women and children who were relieved she was alive and well. She was passed from person to person for hugs and happy tears but the one person she wanted to see the most hadn’t arrived yet.
Jenny looked around and spotted JP who was running for the crowd. Cierra shouted JP’s name and the crowd parted to let her through. Her spouse rushed for her and threw her arms around her and held onto her like the desperate woman she had been since Cierra’s disappearance.
JP buried her face into Cierra’s neck and began crying in relief. People backed away, letting the two of them reunite in privacy. Jenny caught the eyes of the two newcomers and pointed to the communal house with her chin, silently telling them to join her there.
Cierra was shocked at how thin JP had become in just eight days. She held JP just as tightly and could feel every rib under the thin shirt.
Once JP loosened her hold slightly Cierra ran her hands along JP’s wet cheeks. “Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry you had to worry like this. Let’s go home, okay? I want to crawl into bed and hold you for a good long time then we’re going to get you something to eat, alright?”
JP nodded and hugged her once again before they headed for their house. Sharon met them at their door, a tray in hand. She welcomed Cierra home and opened the door for them. She placed the tray on the trunk and left.
“I think Sharon was hinting that you need to eat, Hon. Let’s crawl into bed.” They both undressed and got under the covers. Cierra was once again dismayed at JP’s appearance. Never heavy in the first place, the lost weight made JP look like that overly thin model from the sixties.
Cierra folded up a blanket to put under her broken leg and crawled in next to JP. She placed the plate on JP’s tummy and ordered her to eat while she snuggled up next to her, keeping her hand busy stroking her trembling mate. JP picked at the food and Cierra raised her eyebrow. “JP Foley, if you don’t clean your plate then you don’t get any kisses,” she threatened.
It sank in that Cierra was really there and she wasn’t just dreaming. JP let out a relieved breath and began eating earnestly although her shrunken stomach couldn’t take much. Once she ate her fill Cierra pulled her close and they spent a great deal of time sharing sweet kisses and touches. JP placed her head on Cierra’s breast and they settled down for a long nap.
Continued in Part 10
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