Second Lieutenant Ann Hatch ducked through the low entryway of the wigwam and went inside. Her eyes looked over the details and admitted it was indeed primitive but well made. She could see how the walls were woven branches. The outside was covered with a mud and clay mixture that sealed the walls from an outside breeze. The wigwam had a domed roof of thick thatch to keep the rain out. There were three sleeping places inside. Two single ‘beds' and a double-sized spot. Six women of the new arrivals were given a six-person tent to share since there weren't quite enough huts to go around.
Ann had introduced herself to her other three roommates, Joyce, Sara, and Carmen. The later offered to share her bed with Ann but she declined, saying she preferred to sleep alone. The woman looked a bit offended but there wasn't any way in the world she would share a bed with a dyke.
Ann sighed. Why hadn't anyone realized that everyone who had joined this little group was female? She had only seen a partial list of people they suspected had joined what they had originally thought to be a cult. Now she knew better. She hadn't seen a single male on the bus or inside the village and instantly understood the dynamics of the village. They had formed their own little Amazon village and left the men behind. God, they must really hate guys bad if they didn't even bring along gay men, she thought. But why did they bring along over 500 Indians? And where were they? She needed answers and she wasn't going to get them here. She placed her dufflebag onto her sleeping spot and left the wigwam.
The undercover officer let her eyes adjust once more to the bright California sunlight and took in details of the village. As Cierra had mentioned, the outhouses were to the far north end of the community. The dining hall was near the center, a large stream to the east, and a tidy row of adobe houses to the south. To the west was what looked like a smithy shop and a few makeshift sheds and corrals for animals. The wigwams had been set up near the northwest corner of the community.
It made sense since eventually more housing would be built south and they didn't want to move the new arrivals again once the construction began.
Robbie watched one of the new arrivals carefully. Something about her was setting off warning bells in her head. The woman was too methodical in her study of the village and she spoke little. The others looked excited but she looked resigned. Could she be a plant? As careful as Kelly had been it was still possible. Robbie narrowed her eyes and watched the woman with a critical eye.
The woman walked carefully, quietly, without any wasted movements. Yes, she was a warrior certainly. But she could just be a martial artist. That wasn't proof. She watched the woman walk around the perimeter of the village and stopped. Robbie saw a look of disgust on her face and turned her own eyes to see what the woman was looking at.
It was Jenny and Cyd. They were sharing an innocent kiss and cuddle while they were standing by the kiln and feeding the fire for it. Bingo. There was certainly nothing to find offensive about the two of them being affectionate. It wasn't like they were making out publicly. No lesbian with a romantic bone in her body would look at them with such revulsion. Therefore the woman wasn't a lesbian. Well, it wasn't required to be one to join but any straight woman who had applied knew what the community consisted of. It wouldn't be a complete surprise and they wouldn't ever accept a straight woman who disapproved of their love lives.
She would speak with the others about her suspicions.
· * * * *
Kelly pulled up the woman's file on her laptop. She hated to use it because it would drain the power pack. She glanced over the woman's history and saw nothing of interest. Single, twenty-seven years old, a computer repair expert. She had no criminal record or even a single parking ticket. Worked steadily and had good credit. "I don't see anything," Kelly said.
"I do, or rather, I don't see something. There isn't any mention of family, friends, or even past romances in her written statement. You would think anyone wanting to join would say something there that would make us want to include her. Yet all she said of anything was that she approved of getting away from modern technology. Funny thing to be said by a woman who repairs computers for a living, don't you think?" Robbie commented.
"None of this is proof that she's a spy sent by the Feds," Cierra reminded Robbie, then giggled. "Imagine if it's true. She would be a straight woman trapped in a lesbian society. And what does it matter? As long as she doesn't plan on blowing up the village, what harm can she do? She can't return without my help. And what if I did send her back? What can they do? Nothing. She could return and give them the names of people here but what harm could that do? Nothing again. It would be a futile action on their part, sending a spy among us."
"She could put a knife to your throat and force you to return with her," JP said with fear. The others agreed.
"I'll search her belongings the first chance I get. In the meantime, keep an eye on the woman discreetly and Cierra is never ever left alone, agreed?" Robbie suggested. The counsel members agreed.
"Oh goody. I get a bodyguard again," Cierra grumbled.
· * * * *
"Laura, are you sure you're okay? A bullet wound isn't anything to ignore," Kelly asked the teacher. It had only been eight days since the shooting.
"Pish tosh. I'm fine. A little sore but there isn't any reason not to be moving around and you know it. You're being a mother hen."
"I have every right to worry about you," Kelly huffed. She took both of Laura's hands and held them. "You know how I feel about you, and telling me there's too many years between us again isn't going to change that," Kelly said. "I love you Laura Stewart," she declared.
"Kelly, I can't let you waste your life with an old woman like me. Look around you. Wall to wall women who are young and single, ready for the taking."
"I'm not interested in anyone else." Kelly saw the determination in the older woman's eyes. Fine, she'd take up this battle another day. She'd chip away at the teacher's armor and win her yet.
Laura turned her eyes away, glad that Kelly had backed off. The older woman sighed and continued walking. Being confined to the adobe house for four days had been too much and she needed to move around once in a while or go stir crazy. Spotting a group of children playing in the stream she headed for them, a smile on her lips. Children were why she went into teaching.
She knew since her early twenties that she'd never have a child of her own but didn't love them any less. She sat down on a large stone and watched them as they played.
· * * * *
The new arrivals were startled awake by the sound of metal striking metal. Ann opened her eyes and saw that the sun was just peeking over the horizon, lighting up around the flap of the wigwam. Another loud clash and she jumped. What in the hell was going on? She crawled on hands and knees to the flap to push it aside. A group of women were apparently dismantling the old school bus.
She could see several women with crowbars forcing apart the rivets and removing the metal panels covering the bus. Once free, another woman carried the metal to the blacksmith's shed. Another pair was carefully removing the panes of glass from the sides of the bus.
Ann yawned and reached for her shoes. Now that she was awake she might as well get up. Apparently it was up with the roosters around here. Carmen groaned from her grass pallet and bitched about not being able to sleep.
Sara, the diplomat of the four, spoke up. "This is a farming community. It's up with the sun and sleep with the sun. I'm sure you are aware of that. I think we overslept. I'm sure they need more hands to help out."
"Fuck them. I'm sleeping in," Carmen hissed, pulling the blanket over her head.
Even Ann rolled her eyes and wondered why in hell the woman even joined the group. She probably wouldn't last long with her attitude. Joyce spoke for the first time.
"So, you want to be treated like a guest and not work for your supper? Good luck. I'm with Sara. It's time to get up and get working," the woman stated. Anyone with common sense knew that here, if you didn't work to get it done then you didn't get it done. That included eating and having a decent place to sleep.
The three climbed out of the wigwam and headed for the bridge outhouses. They bid the already working women a good morning and promised to return shortly to help.
"Get a bite to eat and some tea first," Carey told them. "The large breakfast will be served in about two hours." Sharon usually had rolls in wicker baskets on the table for the women so they wouldn't start work with an empty stomach.
The survivalist watched as one by one the new arrivals crawled out of the huts. She knew how hard it was to adjust to the early mornings and even harder labor. Carey remembered how sore she had been the first few weeks.
Three of the new arrivals walked up to them a short time later and asked what they could do.
"Just help take apart the bus. We're going to melt down the metal and keep the glass for housing. The wiring and such is going to Eva. She's trying to build a water wheel powered generator for the hospital," Carey told them.
"Hospital? Where is it?" Sara asked.
"We haven't built it yet. That's the next building up. In the meantime we need to plant fields, then back to building housing for people," another old timer told them.
"Why not skip the planting of fields and forage until the houses are done?" Ann asked.
"Because," JP said, "foraging means spending hours every day wandering around for miles and hoping you find food. Planting takes about a week and takes very little daily maintenance once done. Then when we harvest it we are guaranteed meals for quite a while, especially during winter. This is our first year here and we have no idea if the weather will be the same as on the Old World."
"Why shouldn't it be?"
"Think about it. Humans haven't been changing the land or running their industries here for centuries like back home. No global warming caused by pollutants. In this exact spot in the Old World, it may average above 50 degrees in the winter, but here? It might very well snow. Do you want to ‘forage' in cold weather?" JP asked as she wrenched off another panel.
"I see your point," Ann mumbled.
· * * * *
Sharon looked at the new arrival as she strolled into the communal kitchen a good hour after breakfast was finished being served. The cook looked over the woman named Carmen and shook her head. The woman wore a delicate floral print dress and feminine sandals. What could she be thinking? That wasn't a practical outfit in a place like this. It was obvious that the woman hadn't worked a minute this morning and just strolled out of bed. The woman must have a princess mentality.
"I would like a nice omelet and some grapefruit please," the woman said to Hillary. The assistant blinked, wondering where in the woman thought she was. Sharon patted her elbow, silently asking her to step aside, and approached the window to speak with the woman.
"I'm sorry. We don't serve meals again until high noon—when the working crews break for Siesta. Why don't you go ahead and join the others until then. I'm sure they could use your help," Sharon suggested pointedly.
"Look, I'm hungry. Just give me something to eat to tide me over," the young woman ordered.
"Sorry, we have our customs. If you wanted to eat this morning perhaps you should have gotten up earlier," the cook said, her patience wearing thin.
"Look old woman, if you want to keep your job then-"
Sharon barked out a laugh. "Do you see a bank around here? Everyone works. I have no earthy idea why you asked to join the community but it certainly wasn't to work. Why don't you ask Cierra to take you back if you don't want to pull your own weight?"
"Who are you to tell me what to do, you ancient hag," Carmen shrilled.
"Someone with a greater grasp of reality than you have. Fetch your baggage. You're leaving," Cierra told her with a cold voice of command.
Carmen spun around and saw the Shaman and the very tall blonde standing there. Neither of them looked in the least friendly. "But-"
"No buts. We don't have time to waste babysitting or convincing someone to help out around here. Either fetch your things now or leave them behind because you are going back in exactly five minutes," Robbie warned her.
The woman huffed and charged past them, heading for her tent.
Cierra was waiting for her outside the wigwam when she emerged. There was quite a crowd nearby, all watching someone getting kicked out on their ass for being lazy. Most of them already knew without being told that it took hard work to get things running and didn't need the reminder. Of those who hadn't thought about it were now witnessing what would happen if they didn't work for the community.
Ann watched carefully, wanting to learn all she could. She saw Cierra reach out her arm and take Carmen by her elbow. Her hand rose and wrapped around the black stone she always wore then the two of them vanished. That was it. The shaman used the stone to transport. If she could get her hands on it she'd be able to return on her own.
· * * **
To Be Continued
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