Note from Golden_ruhl:
Hi, I'm SDerkin’s beta reader who is reluctantly writing this to be appended to her story. *G* One day I had an idea for a story which I would someday try my hand at writing. Of a woman who could jump back and forth between universes. You know a simple short story. I have an overactive imagination so stories just seem to come to me. So I asked SD what she thought of the idea. She liked the idea and asked when I was gonna write it. I put stories on the back burner i.e. at some far off date I may attempt to write it. She would ask from time to time if I had started writing it. I'd say no and she'd sigh. I asked her why didn't she write it if she liked idea of story so that's how the Mother Earth got started *snicker*. I never thought my concept for a short (ten pages or less) story would go on and on like this. At least she likes the research part. But I must admit she starts telling me all these trivia bits and my eyes sort of glaze over LOL. But that’s okay, I get to see the sneak peeks and give her ideas. One of these days I will have to recharge the cattle prod and get her to finish Rein and Sinagua -poke poke-
Michael asked one of the stable hands to saddle two horses. He wanted to take his wife to the colony during lunchtime so she could see how the community lived. They would only be there for three days, hardly enough time for her to get a true idea of how things ran.
Penny was an experienced rider, thankfully, and didn’t fuss about riding up to the colony. He waved away the guard who wanted to accompany them so he ordered him to stay behind. Michael doubted he was in any danger from the women and children there.
“At least carry this, sir,” the worried agent insisted, handing him a pistol and holster.
“Fine, if it’ll make you feel better.” Michael strapped the belt around his waist. His wife hid a smile from the nervous young man and waited patiently as her husband mounted his horse.
“Sneaking off without us I see,” Ken Hobson accused with humor from behind Michael.
Michael spotted the President and his wife, Jill, strolling around the corner of the barn.
“Yup, I can smell Sharon’s cooking from here and thought I’d sneak over for a snack.”
“She’s a good cook?” Ken asked. He grinned at his VP’s nod and looked at his wife. She gave a shrug that said what the hell, and asked Michael and Penny to give them time to get their own mount. It took a few minutes for the hands to saddle three more horses but neither of the other couple had ever ridden much. It was a good thing the colony was only a little over a quarter mile away. The Marine who rode with them was Jack. Michael couldn’t remember his last name and the younger man wore no uniform. Cierra had objected to having soldiers at all on Mother Earth but had allowed them in limited numbers once that the Embassy was built. It still made the Queen nervous to see marines in uniforms so they merely wore outdoor gear.
The five of them rode to the colony and left the horses tied to bushes near the entrance. Michael looked around for Cierra and spotted her with her partner and newborn. Penny squealed at the sight of the baby and quickly took over the job of holding little Kiona. Michael rolled his eyes.
“My daughter, bless her heart, decided to wait a few years before having children. She’ll have to go into hiding for at least a month now Penny got hold of a baby,” he informed JP.
The slim woman chuckled and urged the Vice President to step into line with her.
“How’s everything going, Michael?” JP asked.
“Oh, fine, fine.” He placed a hand on the survivalist’s shoulder. “Listen, I have a request to make and I really don’t want to ask it of the council but I got the dirty end of the stick and have to ask anyway.”
“Well, get it out so I can say no and you can tell them you did your best.”
“That’s my girl. Well, the request was from an up and coming alternative engine company. You see, they’ve actually invented a nifty little engine that doesn’t pollute but no one will touch it.”
“Well, it doesn’t use petroleum products at all.”
“Oh ho, I see the problem,” JP said as she accepted the plate of food from Hillary. She waited for Michael to collect his and his wife’s. “None of the oil companies want to see it go into production. And I bet a lot of politicians have oil company backers and don’t want to rock the boat.”
“You got it in one.”
“So what do you want of us?”
Michael handed Penny her plate but walked further away with JP. “It’s like this. You and I both know the US and other countries are going to ask for things, such as exploration rights and such.” JP nodded, not surprised by this. “Well, these engines work by, well, I don’t know how to describe them, but they are quiet, strong, and use alcohol and water to run.”
“Nope, not at all. The thing is that with no real money for research. It takes years to perfect it to work as a replacement engine for automobiles at an affordable cost. This is a small company who has a great product but needs sponsors.”
“You know we don’t have any real money, Michael.”
“Yes, I know that, but here’s the idea. I go back to those who do have money and tell them you need something like…oh…tractors for plowing your fields but won’t use gas engines. Well, the people who want favors of you will bend over backwards to get into your good graces. So if you tell them you found out about this little company and want a few things made with those engines…”
“The little company gets income for research and advertisements saying they supply us.”
“You got it. They will get noticed. Maybe we won’t replace gas engines over night but eventually they will become obsolete. But in order for all this to happen, you have to allow something like explorations or letting a zoo have a mating pair of animals—something worth it to them to buy you those engines.”
“Aww, there’s the catch. Okay, get me the specs on those engines and what they are capable of. Then I’ll talk to the council.”
“JP, you are an angel. Just don’t repeat that to my wife, she’s the jealous type.”
Laura joined Cierra at the reading area of the communal building. She sat down next to the Shaman and peeked down at the sleeping baby.
“So, you and JP are finally going to make it legal.”
Cierra grinned at the former teacher, seeing the twinkle in Laura’s Wedgewood blue eyes.
“You know how it is, once the babies come you gotta make it legal.”
The older councilwoman laughed and playfully slapped Cierra’s thigh. “You young people. Always rationalizing your actions rather than admitting that you are so in love that you just have to formalize your union. Now, when do I get to hold that little darling?”
Cierra leaned towards the woman and gently place Kiona into the teacher’s arms.
“When is Kelly going to have one of her own so you don’t have to keep nabbing everyone else’s kids?” Cierra teased.
Laura’s blonde eyebrows rose high. “Cierra, I urged her to take this ambassador job to get her away from all these newborns. She was overdosing on the motherhood ozone layer around this place. As much as I love children I have no desire to raise one. I make a much better auntie than a mom. I can spoil them rotten then send them back to their parents when they get fussy.” The older woman sighed. “We discussed it. We agreed to wait a year and if she still wants a child then we’ll talk about it. I knew getting involved with a younger woman might end up with me being dragged, kicking and screaming, into parenthood.”
“Well, perhaps we should have just assigned her as official babysitter during the warmer months. It’s hard for the new moms to watch the babies and work outdoors.”
“That’s always a possibility, too.” Laura spotted her partner entering the building and handed Kiona back to her mother. “Time to pay the piper. I promised that I’d help decorate the barracks if Kelly would help in the kitchen.”
“I’m just happy the two are around to come to our wedding. I was so afraid when I saw how badly the Embassy was damaged. I could have lost both of you in the blink of an eye.”
Laura stroked Cierra’s cheek. “We’re too tough to kill. Still, it’s good to know people care for you. We love you too, you know.”
Cierra sniffled and smiled. Her throat was too tight to reply. Laura stood up and kissed Cierra’s brow and whispered to Kiona to be a good little girl. The shaman watched the teacher join her partner and head for the kitchen.
A small crowd milled around the tattoo artist as he applied the design to both Cierra and JP had chosen to have done rather than wear wedding bands. Even though nothing had been said it was understood by all that the couple would become a bonded couple rather than have a standard marriage.
Samuel Martinez, Kayla’s father, had helped JP with the design. They had spent hours drawing the design into sand on the ground then drawing the final rendering on paper. The tattoos would be drawn around the wrists, like bracelets, in hues of dark red and black. The center of the design was the Hopi symbol of Mother Earth. It was the jewel of the design, interlocked with the traditional Celtic knots drawn around the wrist in an unending pattern.
Neither had ever had a tattoo done before. JP endured it silently, merely watching the pattern inch across her skin. Cierra, although never considering herself a complete wimp, swallowed hard and winced more than once. Kiona seemed to sense her mother’s tension and cried. Jenny offered to take the baby to their home until it was done. Cierra agreed, unable to concentrate on remaining still while listening to Kiona fussing.
Cyd was looking at the design and bit her lip. JP saw the look and wondered if her friend disliked the pattern.
“Well, it’s too late to say you hate it now,” JP teased.
Cyd seemed to waken from deep thought. “Oh, no, it’s not that. I was wondering…well, would you mind if anyone else used this design? I was sort of thinking it could be the standard for Bonded couples. We seem to be making lots of traditions and this is kind of cool.”
“Sure, if someone else wants to be part of a bonded couple I don’t mind.” JP knew that Cyd and Jenny would probably be joining them in marital bliss soon enough. They were one of four couples JP thought might be capable of forming such a marriage.
“That’s good. I bet there’s going to be a lot of marriage ceremonies not long down the line now we declared it legal here.”
Hillary sat down at their table. “At least for some. We need a few more single women around here.”
JP looked at her. Sharon’s assistant sighed.
“We’ve been here over a year and a half but only about half of us found someone compatible. Us single women just haven’t found anyone we meshed with. Having a few more women to mingle with might help out.”
Cierra glanced up. She hadn’t considered bring in more single women, looking towards building families instead. She hadn’t considered that the women who were still single were frustrated since she was busy with her own romance.
“We could build more barracks than planned, then bring in more single women. Once the couples and families move into the quad-units there will be lots of extra space in the single’s long house,” she suggested. Cyd and JP nodded.
Cyd excused herself and went to fetch Kelly, who was reading in a quiet corner. Both women returned to the table. They asked Kelly about how to bring in more people and what ideas she suggested.
“We need more skilled people here. People like dentists, chiropractors, chemists, and veterinarians. We can offer to set any of them up in the quad-units, like offices if we need to.”
The others agreed. Kelly grinned cheekily. “And if they’re gorgeous dykes, all the better.”
Kelly agreed to go over the current applications and see if any qualified. If not, she’d advertise for potential immigrants on the website.
Cierra felt cold water being sprayed onto her wrist. “There, all done,” Frankie announced, cleaning off the blood from her skin. The shaman looked at the pink skin around the design, hoping it looked better by morning. Her skin looked sunburned around the inked areas.
Cierra felt his anxiety and realized she hadn’t yet complimented his amazing work. She thanked him warmly and mentioned to the others at the table that Kiona needed fed. With a wink to JP to let her know a nap would be nice, she headed for home.
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