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Wednesday, Dec 06, 2023
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

New Gaia

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New Gaia - Chapter 5 - Preparations

Gabrielle was surprised at how little was done to find her 'missing' friends. Apparently, having nearly two-dozen students disappear, right after college graduation, wasn't a big deal. In fact, Gabrielle wasn't even questioned about any of her friends until almost two months later, and that was by a private investigator hired by one of the parents.

After thinking about it, she realized it made sense. No missing persons reports had been filed, and most of her friends were rich kids like her, who had accounts that automatically transferred funds for rent and utilities on the first of every month. So, until a significant amount of time had passed between calls home to daddy asking for more money, no one had picked up on the fact that anything was wrong.

By the time a few parents finally began to make inquiries as to the whereabouts of their children, the cars had been towed and sitting in impound yards for weeks. And the rumors about a mega-graduation party, which suspiciously coincided with the disappearances of a few graduates, had been forgotten by those who hadn't attended. Those who had attended seemed to know nothing about where their missing college friends were.

For the most part, Gabrielle was wholly focused on her role as Chief. As an administrator, she was flawless. Gabrielle had been at the head of all her classes where organizational skills were concerned. She simply had an innate sense of how to put together an operation and make it work. She knew where her strengths and weaknesses were and worked around them, getting results that astounded her supervisors during her time in the college work-study program.

She kept track of resources and squeezed every drop out of them. She didn't let politics get in the way of putting the right person into the right job, but by the same token, she had no qualms about sucking up to certain people to get what she wanted. She maneuvered around a business party with the smooth grace of a tiger stalking a herd of deer.

It was all these qualities that had garnered Gabrielle over a dozen job offers by the time she'd graduated with her degree. She had planned to take a year off before going to work, even before her adventure back in time, so her mother wasn't surprised at all that Gabrielle had turned down the offers for the time being. However, she was puzzled by Gabrielle's request to move back home while she worked on some mysterious project she referred to only as 'New Gaia.' She only hoped her daughter hadn't become one of those environmentalist types.

Gabrielle read over the first-quarter report she'd just completed to keep everyone up-to-date on what everyone else was doing.

Page 1

From: Chief Gabrielle
To: All Citizens of New Gaia
Re: First-quarter summary

To All It May Concern,

Before I get to the actual report, I would first like to congratulate everyone on the excellent work you all have been doing. We are right on target for what we should have done already and are actually ahead of schedule on many things. Good job!

The following is a brief summary of where each of the various departments and committees are in their development. The last summary is from me and details where we are on our timetable and what's coming up.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please direct them to the interested parties. If you're not sure where to send them, send them to me, and I'll make sure they get forwarded to where they need to go.

Your Chief,

Page 2

Lawmakers Guild: Robbie, Justin

Thank you for all the suggestions you've given us regarding laws you would like to have as part of your government, as well as those you hope to leave behind when we go. It's been most enlightening and has really helped us in determining the best overall structure to give our fledgling government.

As of today, we have narrowed our list of possible models of government down to three: American democratic, the Iroquois Confederacy, and socialism. We believe that our final conceptualization will ultimately reflect a combination of these three styles of government.

So far, we have a list of over 300 laws that we hope to have everyone vote on before the next quarter. We've decided that, for the time being, until a complete system of government is instituted, only those laws that are voted for unanimously will be included in our official law books. Those laws that aren't, will be looked over more thoroughly, to decide why there wasn't a consensus.

As a last note, please keep your ideas coming. We really need them! And if you'd like to join our Guild, all you have to do is ask and be willing to work your butt off in the name of justice.

Yours Judiciously,
Robbie & Justin

Page 3

Historical Committee - Trisha, Joshua, Larry

Hi, everyone. We're almost done with our list of historically significant events to be included in the Library of History. I know, it doesn't sound like a lot, but trust me, picking and choosing what to include from the last six thousand years of recorded history isn't easy and it's very time-consuming. If anybody would like to lend a hand, please let one of us know.

We hope to begin the actual writing and transferring of facts to paper by the end of the month. After that, we'll be open to suggestions about what texts to start selecting for the story library our benevolent Chief has approved. Please, no harlequin romances. We're thinking more along the lines of Greek mythology, Charles Dickens, Robert Heinlein, and Virginia Woolf.

We're also continuing to document the progress of our group toward its ultimate goal of creating a new world. If you wish to contribute your thoughts/experiences regarding your work in this endeavor, please don't hesitate to send them along to us, so that our great grandchildren can have a little insight into our motivations for doing all of this.

With Regards,
Larry, Trisha, and Joshua

Technology Department - Andrea, Carter, Melissa

Do you have any idea how many inventions it took to get us to the telephone? It's unbelievable. Anyway, all of us have decided to take a certain block of time and research it. We've got lists half a mile long, from how to make a tooth pick, to using a laser to etch a CD-ROM.

We should be finished with compiling the lists and putting them in chronological order by the next quarter. At least, I hope we are. Then we'll start working on documenting each thing and go from there.

Yours Truly,
Andrea, et al

Note from the Chief: If you want to help these poor guys out, let them know. I'm sure they'd be happy to have the assistance.

Page 4

Defense Department - First Warrior Gregory

I need more recruits. I've had only 23 volunteers and that's just not enough. Right now, I'm training them as a group, but I'm going to start working with them individually in the next couple weeks.

If you know about archery or any other weapons (including guns), talk to me. I need some Lieutenants so I can divvy up the training. I think most of you are under the impression that I'm only teaching martial arts and that's why you're not interested in joining the ranks of what I'm calling Warriors, after my own title as First Warrior.

There are actually many areas that I'm attempting to train my Warriors in. There's hunting, fishing, hand-to-hand combat, archery, bo (staff) training, sword fighting (broadswords and fencing, I'll be including sabers, too, as soon as they arrive in the mail), strategy and tactics, sharpshooting (hand guns and rifles), and first aid.

Come to my dojang if you're interested in any of these areas. You'll need to go around to the back, as I've closed my school in order to concentrate on the training. I want at least 20 more volunteers.

Gregory, a.k.a. Sabum Nim/First Warrior

Chief Administrator - Gabrielle

Due to the concerns raised in the last reports I received from the various committees mentioned in the previous pages of this report, I have decided to create several new committees. Some of these committees will act as subdomains of the main committees, but they will still issue separate reports directly to me, along with the reports I receive from those already established.

The new committees are as follows:

Story Library - This committee will be a subdomain of the Historical Committee. This will ease the pressure off Joshua, Larry, and Trisha. However, because of the historical significance literature has, I feel it necessary to keep this undertaking part of the Historical Committee, rather than making it a completely separate endeavor. I need at least two volunteers for this project.

Page 5

Hunters League - Gregory is quite capable of teaching swordplay and knife throwing to our Warriors, however, he really isn't a hunter. So, after talking it over, George and Paul have accepted responsibility for training our Warriors in the arts of tracking, archery, spear throwing, and marksmanship (we'll only be relying on guns as a last resort). Because weapons are involved though, this League will ultimately be under Gregory's jurisdiction as First Warrior. If you want to learn how to provide food for our community, please talk to one of these guys.

Healers Association - Claudia has taken on the task of training several of our citizens in the arts of healing. So far, she says that her students are learning quickly and should be able to handle the basic medical needs of our community, like setting a broken leg or stitching up a wound, when we are without the use of twenty-first century medicine. She is, however, requesting that all of our citizens get certification in CPR/First Aid and I agree. Please sign up for a CPR/First Aid course with the local YMCA or hospital.

In addition to Claudia and her students, the Healers Association has added several new members with experience in Chinese/Old World herbal medicine, accu-puncture/-pressure, massage, and sports medicine. If you're interested in joining the HA, either as a teacher or a student, please contact Claudia or myself.

Agricultural Committee - Luckily, we've got a purebred Texas rancher in our group and she's agreed to head our farming committee. Barbara has already started to work with our cooks, Luis and Gloria, to decide what seeds we might take with us, and with the HA, to teach animal husbandry to the healers that are more interested in our four-legged friends. She's looking for anyone who's ever watered a plant or ridden a horse.

Now, for my own summary of my work and our overall progress.

I have finally compiled the list of skills our citizens are bringing to our community and I must say I am not only surprised, but also very pleased, with the variety. I had some worries about certain areas that might be lacking in our group, but those concerns have been put to rest.

I have talked with many of you individually about increasing your knowledge in the particular skills you already possess, and I am happy to say that everyone has been very cooperative. Remember, many of you will have overlapping duties in our community (i.e., I'm Chief, but I'm also training to be a Warrior, just as Luis, who will be our head cook, is also training to be a Healer and is working with the Agricultural Committee).

As for our timetable regarding the things we need to have ready to take with us, we are either making, or surpassing, our deadlines. The Historical Committee is right on task, and both the Technology Department and Lawmaker's Guild are ahead of schedule. The only area I'm concerned about is the Defense Department, but hopefully, after you've read this update, you will consider joining the ranks of the Warriors.

I want to remind you that though First Warrior Gregory is looking for full-time Warriors, most members will only be part-timers. If your main skill is sewing, you will not be expected to give up that vocation if you sign up with Gregory's group. So, please consider 'enlisting.'

The next quarter is going to be a time of chaos. There's no getting around it. This first quarter laid down our foundation. The second quarter will show us where we've gone wrong and where we're on target. Hopefully, the third quarter will be smooth sailing, and the last quarter will probably be a time of hurried last minute preparations.

One last thing. I know it seems a long ways off yet, but I want you to start thinking about tying up the loose ends in your life. There's only nine months before we leave. I don't want anyone starting something that might keep them from coming with us. We need everyone.

Until Next Quarter,
Chief Gabrielle

Gabrielle gathered up the sheets of paper and headed for the nearest Kinko's.

Everything was going according to plan. She was in daily contact with each 'committee' and spoke at least weekly with everyone in the group. So far, no one had backed out and she had only met with resistance a few times when making a request. The loudest had been with Tristan and it was over his piano playing.

Gabrielle had insisted that, just because they wouldn't be taking a piano with them, it didn't negate the cultural and artistic importance of the craft. The fact that Tristan hated the piano lessons his mother had forced on him as a child didn't help his disposition, but he'd finally admitted that being capable of passing on the skill to someone else was a worthy goal and he'd agreed to take up lessons again to refresh his memory.

Every day, Gabrielle came across something else that they had overlooked in their rush to get things ready for their untried colony. Luckily, there was always someone there to catch the slip. Something as simple as how to make a broom wouldn't really jeopardize their survival, but they'd all feel pretty foolish if they left that kind of knowledge behind and had to start from scratch.

At the same time though, Gabrielle realized that anything they did have to come up with on their own would contribute to the new culture they would be establishing. It was the one rationalization that let her put aside her worries and sleep at night.


Page 1

From: Chief Gabrielle
To: All Citizens of New Gaia
Re: Second-quarter summary

To All It May Concern,

The last reports have come in for the second quarter and I am pleased to announce that we are still ahead of schedule in many areas. It was a little crazy there for a while, but we've all settled in to the routine now and are going full speed ahead.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to notify everyone of our intended temporal destination. Tony has informed me that he can calculate our time of arrival to within a few months, which is a lot better than any of us dared hope for.

I've decided to time our arrival for early summer, giving us leeway on either side, so that we'll have time to dig in before having to deal with winter. We're shooting for an even twelve thousand years, putting us at 10,000BC.

As soon as Diane is able to calculate the day of Summer Solstice, we will begin using the calendar system we've all grown up with and will start our numbering system at Y0 (year zero). This may seem strange, but since it won't be a full year, I think it makes sense. Plus, it gets rid of that pesky question about when the new century starts.

A last note regarding the updates. After speaking with the heads of each committee, it's been decided that certain groups will continue 'as is' even after we've established the colony, while others will be adjusted to suit our new circumstances. The groups are labeled as 'Temporary' and 'Permanent,' accordingly.

Well, on with the updates.

Your Chief,

Page 2

Historical Society (Permanent) - Joshua, Larry, Trisha, Christina

We've finished the basic framework for our historical narrative and have begun filling in the blanks. By the end of the third quarter, we hope to be finished with anything ending in BC, and will begin working on everything AD. We are currently working with the newly named Literary Guild to make sure that full accounts of myths, folktales, legends, biographies, and documentaries are included in their list of texts to bring with us. We are also continuing to document our community's beginnings and would like to encourage everyone to keep sending us your thoughts and impressions as we move closer and closer to our deadline for leaving.

Literary Guild (Temporary) - Christina, Mark

There are millions of texts in the world and no way to bring all of them with us. Fortunately, because of what some of the other departments are working on, we've been able to narrow down our list of books to take with us to a more reasonable amount (for example, there's no reason to bring a book about Taekwon-Do, since we happen to have a Taekwon-Do expert coming with us).

We're working with the other departments the Chief has set up and are filling their requests without really having to decide anything where those items are concerned. What's keeping us awake at night is choosing between the multitudes of fiction that everyone has been requesting. We seem to have a lot of science fiction buffs in our group, which is good in a way, because it means there have been a lot of repeated requests, and therefore less total number of books requested.

Other than that, everything's great.

Healers Association (Permanent) - Claudia, Timothy, Rebecca, Sharon, Paul, George, Gregory

My students are getting a crash course in emergency medicine and the dissemination of information regarding Eastern medicine is progressing nicely. Every single member of our community has received their CPR certification. I've given a list of books to the Literary Guild I feel should be brought with us and have been told they are working on obtaining them. I'm also working with the AgriGuild to determine what healing herbs should be brought with us and should have a finalized list by the middle of the next quarter. The Technology Department has also assured me that they are including documentation on every medical tool known to man in their archives.

As for the "breeding program" many of you have been inquiring about, the answer is yes, we're going to need one. According to current theories, any group of less than 500 individuals will eventually die out due to the inevitability of inbreeding and genetic drift taking place over multiple generations. A group of approximately 150-180 might last as long as 2,000 years, but if we want to avoid having an expiration date, we'll have to rely on the humans we find in the past to inject fresh DNA into our gene pool, unless we consider inviting others to come back with us to boost our numbers, thereby increasing our genetic diversity. With only 98 of us, we're looking at only a few generations before our descendants have no choice but to reproduce with a cousin or other close relative.

Page 3

AgriGuild (Permanent) - Barbara, Luis, Claudia, Irene, Sharon

As you can see, I've renamed the Agricultural Committee to the AgriGuild. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think? Anyway, I've been working with many different areas of our little expedition. The most important, I believe, has been with the Lawmaker's Guild to establish guidelines for planting and harvesting crops. At this point, we've decided to go with subsistence farming in the beginning and then we'll go from there. I've got a large list of herbs from the Healers Association that I'm in the process of collecting and Luis is cross-checking it for duplication with his own list of cooking herbs he's come up with. Sharon, from the HA, is working with myself and the Literary Guild to come up with a list of veterinary books to take with us and is studying her little heart out to be able to help me in taming food animals once we're settled.

Hunters League (Permanent) - Paul, George, Gregory

Paul and I have been working with Gregory almost non-stop to expand on the skills he's been teaching our Warriors. We've both been very impressed with the dedication we've seen displayed by those who have joined the Warriors Guild. No one has missed a single day of instruction. By the end of the next quarter, every single Warrior should have the knowledge to shoot a bow and arrow, fire a rifle, and catch a fish. Of course, then we'll have to work on accuracy. :)

Warriors Guild (Permanent) - First Warrior Gregory (for a complete list of members, please contact Gregory)

I want to thank everyone who came to talk to me after the last quarter update. Nearly all of you have decided to join the ranks of the Warriors and, if I haven't told you this already, you're all doing very well. Those of you who have chosen to dedicate your lives to the safety of our community have my undying gratitude and everlasting respect. You've made me very proud. As far as whether or not I think we'll be ready when the time comes to leave, I have no doubts that we will be prepared.

Technology Department (Temporary) - Andrea, Carter, Melissa

We're finished with creating the invention trees, that trace how one invention led to another, and have begun work on collecting diagrams and materials lists for each. By the end of the next quarter, we expect to be about halfway done with the step-by-step instructions on how to make all the different things we've included in our catalog of tools and inventions. I want to thank the Historical Society for all their help in tracking down certain hard to find references on how to make stone age tools and give a loud 'you're welcome' to the Literary Guild for taking so much work off their hands. - Andrea, et al

Page 4

Lawmakers Guild (Permanent) - Robbie, Justin

The results are in and the first set of laws have been added to New Gaia's law books under the title 'Codes of Conduct.' A copy of the new laws will be sent to each of you, along with a list of those proposals that didn't make it. We're requesting that everyone take the time to look over the list of suggested laws and write to the Lawmakers Guild explaining why you didn't vote for them or why you think they didn't pass unanimously. Maybe the wording was ambiguous, or you disagree with the reasoning behind it, etc. Whatever the reason, we'd like to hear about it, so that we can better serve the needs of our community.

We've come to the conclusion that we will necessarily have to come up with two different styles of government in order to secure the best possible leadership at all times. In a long meeting with our Chief, it was decided that, for the time being, her term of office has no end date and, when it comes right down to it, her decisions are final (but you already knew that). However, once the colony has settled down, elections and set terms of office will be the norm. The style of government currently in use will continue to prevail on a 'whatever works' philosophy, while the Lawmakers Guild designs a more long-lasting working system of government.

Right now, we have taken what we consider to be the best of the American democratic system of government and coupled it with the more broad-based Council of leadership used by the Iroquois Confederacy and given it a socialistic focus, as opposed to a capitalistic one. Based on the suggestions we've been receiving, we believe this makes the most sense out of what we have to work with. Any questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome.

Chief Administrator's Office (Temporary, in a permanent sort of way) - Gabrielle

As I mentioned on the cover page, we are right on schedule and continue to progress as expected. The various Guilds, Leagues, etc., are working well with one another and with our community as a whole.

I have drawn up a list of 'duties,' partially based on the list of skills each of you gave me, which will need to be fulfilled in order to ensure that our society not only survives, but prospers, as well. I have listed your names next to each job that matches your skills . Everyone's name comes up at least three times. Please choose two jobs that you would be comfortable in performing (whether your name is listed next to it or not) and send me your choices.

Page 5

You will be required to fulfill at least one service as a member of our community (you must choose two, if they are designated as part-time). If you have joined one of the permanent Guilds, Leagues, etc., then you have already chosen a service to perform and need only send me a note confirming that this is your chosen vocation for the time being (you may change vocations at any time). The list of jobs will be sent to you separately from this report.

This upcoming quarter should be a continuation of the steady progress we've been making towards completion of our preparations to leave. From here on out, it should be smooth sailing (knock on wood). I wish us all continued success.

Until Next Quarter,
Chief Gabrielle

Tristan stood in the doorway of Gabrielle's bedroom, which doubled as her office, and waited to see how long it would take her to notice his presence.

Without looking up, she said, "Well, are you just going to stand there and watch me work, or are you going to get in here?"

Tristan grinned.

"You're just such a vision of loveliness illuminated by monitor light, I was struck dumb."

"Oh, right. Well, if you can regain your senses for a moment, I'd like you to look this over." She gestured to the computer screen and rolled her chair away to give him room to read. "It's the second quarter report." Tristan pulled the other computer chair over and sat down to begin reading. "I copied and pasted from the last reports I got from everyone. What do you think?"

Gabrielle waited as Tristan scrolled through the report. When he finished, he turned to look at her.

"You forgot to put in about the new Advisors. Me as First, Julia as Second, and Jonathan as Third. Maybe you could get Robbie to add a little bit about it in his update section."

"Nah, I'll just tack it on to the end of my summary. I just wasn't really thinking about it."

She began typing on the keyboard.

"Oh, thanks for making me feel so important," he said sarcastically.

There was an underlying hurt tone to his voice that Gabrielle picked up on and she stopped typing to face him.

"I'm sorry. Really. I guess my mind's just not on this today," she said tiredly.

Tristan eyed her for a moment.

"When was the last time you took a break from all this? Have you, since we started?"

Gabrielle looked down and refused to make eye contact.

"You mean since the night we decided to go back?"

"Yeah, you know, the day after we came back from Hell?"

"Oh, since then? Well, um..."

"That's what I thought. You, my friend, are taking a break. Come on."

He stood, taking her by the wrist and dragging her up behind him.

"Wait! I have to finish..." she protested.

"Nope, don't think so. It can wait," he declared, and continued to pull her along with him.

Tristan drove them to a fast food joint and then found a miniature golf place. Gabrielle groaned when she saw where they were and sent pleading eyes in Tristan's direction.

"You know those looks don't work on me," he intoned, as he pulled the car into a parking slot. "You are going to have some fun, even if I have to beat you with a golf club to do it."

He removed the keys from the ignition and got out of the car and waited.

Gabrielle considered her options. She could sit stubbornly in the car and have a battle of wills with Tristan, a battle she was beginning to think she might lose. Or she could get out of the car, and go play with Tristan, the miniature golf champ, and get her butt kicked. She finally chose to get out of the car, rationalizing that she was doing it to make Tristan happy, not because there was the slightest chance she might actually enjoy herself.

Tristan grinned at her and led her to the front entrance. They entered the arcade area and Tristan went to the prize desk. He pulled out a twenty and handed it over, receiving a tray of quarters in return.

"What are you doing?" Gabrielle looked quizzically at the tray of quarters Tristan was carrying.

"I know you hate miniature golf, Sweetie. That's not all there is to do here. Come on. Let's go play some air hockey or something," he smiled at her.

The resentment she'd been feeling towards Tristan melted in an instant and she knew that if her preferences were just a little different, she'd want to marry this man.

"I love you, Tristan. You're so good to me."

Tristan inclined his head a little.

"Hey, just because I prefer the home team doesn't mean I don't know how to treat a lady to a good time." Gabrielle playfully slapped him on the arm. "Come on, let's go play."

His good mood was infectious and Gabrielle soon found herself dishing dirt over a fast-paced game of air hockey, catching up on all the latest gossip that Tristan kept track of as a matter of course. Tristan kept their sodas filled and the junk food readily available throughout the day of recreation. By the end of the day, Gabrielle was tired, but relaxed.

Tristan drove them back to Gabrielle's mother's place and tucked her into bed. He sat on the edge of the bed and stroked her bangs away from her face.

"Why couldn't you be a woman, Tristan?" Gabrielle asked sleepily.

"Mmm, don't think I could handle all the PMS," Tristan joked back to her.

Gabrielle reached out and half-heartedly tried to slap at Tristan's shoulder, which he blocked easily.

"I think I'm lonely, Tristan, that's why I work so hard."

Tristan realized Gabrielle must really be exhausted. She would normally never admit to these kinds of things, except when she was tired. For some reason, fatigue tended to short-circuit her brain and she would talk about things that were really bothering her, things she usually kept to herself.

"You'll find someone, Gabrielle. I know you will. You're too sweet not to," he assured her.

"Mbfllsm," Gabrielle muttered incoherently before drifting off into dreamland.

Tristan pulled up the covers around her shoulders, and held back her bangs with one hand, as he leaned over to kiss her on the forehead.

"Sweet dreams, baby. You'll find her," he whispered to the sleeping woman.


The third quarter came and went quickly. Gabrielle noticed a rather serious drop in productivity and decided to call a meeting for the start of the final quarter. They were falling behind schedule and she had a feeling it was due more to complacency and boredom than anything else. The drive to get things done was being replaced by feelings of overconfidence and ambivalence that she had to admit she herself had begun to fall into.

Everything was going so well, it seemed as if things might just take care of themselves and it had all become routine. However, Gabrielle knew that if they didn't get back that determination to get everything prepared for their journey, they would not be ready to go at the end of three months. She needed to get them fired up again. It was time for a pep talk. And maybe a little vacation.

She waited until her mother had left for the weekend before gathering everyone at the mansion. As soon as everyone had settled down, refreshments in hand, Gabrielle called the meeting to order. This was the first time in nine months that everyone had been assembled together all at once. That in itself was proving to have an energizing effect on everyone. Gabrielle realized it was the sense of community that seemed to give purpose to everyone's actions. She decided right then that the last three months would see a mass congregation at least once every few weeks in order to keep the energy level up.

"Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for coming. I wanted to bring ya'll here to talk about the last quarter's reports. You each read the summaries. We're falling behind schedule. We need to pick up the pace, if we hope to be ready to leave in three months."

There were a few murmurs that Gabrielle could just barely make out as suggestions for pushing the departure date back a few weeks, if they really were behind. "I know we can make it. We just need to work a little harder. On the other hand, my First Advisor has pointed out to me, repeatedly, the need to take breaks. So, with that in mind, I'm ordering everyone to take a week off."

A collective gasp was heard and Gabrielle swore she felt the air pressure change as the oxygen was pulled so quickly into so many lungs. "I know, radical concept, huh?" she grinned. "Me and Tristan, and a few others, plan to go to Disneyworld for a few days. You're all welcome to join us. I've also set up group vacation plans with my travel agent. Just pick a destination and she'll take care of the details. It's all being charged to my account. I figure, since I can't take it with me, might as well use it up."

Gabrielle let her gaze fall on the faces of her people. "I want everyone to take the week off and not think about anything to do with New Gaia. Splurge, have fun, get some sun. Do the things you won't get a chance to do, once we're gone. Only one word of caution. Please don't get yourselves killed or badly injured. It'll be really difficult to sneak people out of hospitals in order to take you with us."

She got a few laughs and some nodded heads of consent from the known daredevils of the group. David, the most notorious thrill seeker among them, had once spent several weeks in a full body cast, after a snowboarding mishap involving a cliff and part of a forest.

"The time is getting close. Three months from now, we will be in a wild and untamed land. If there are things you need to do before we go, now's the time to get them done. Say your good-byes and tie up those loose ends. The one thing that will most definitely work against us is regret," Gabrielle warned.

"I haven't heard anyone talk about not wanting to go, but if you do have any doubts, working them out before we leave would be a good idea." She waited for that to sink in and Kelly raised her hand to be acknowledged. "Yes?"

"I think we're all pretty sure about going, Chief. I think we're just a little scared, you know? I know I am, but nothing's gonna keep me from going with you guys. Nothing," she vowed. There was a sea of bobbing heads, as everyone nodded in agreement.

Gabrielle couldn't explain the pride she felt at hearing that declaration. Just the knowledge that these were her people and they all trusted her to lead them to a new world, a fresh start, made her feel warm inside. She blinked back the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. 'I must be tired, if a little thing like that is making me tear up,' she chided herself.

"All right. Well, you're all here. How 'bout we start this vacation off right? Let's party!" There were cheers all around and someone found the stereo and turned it up full blast and then food was being brought out and the party got into full swing.

Gabrielle danced with nearly everyone and was finally allowed to collapse on a couch. She gazed out over her friends and watched them cut loose for the first time in months. 'Yeah, they definitely needed this,' she thought. 'Hell, so did I.'

Her eyes stopped on Tristan, who was dancing with Gregory. It was a slow song and they were standing very close to one another. Gabrielle grinned. Maybe Tristan was finally moving on, after losing John. If anyone deserved to be happy, it was her best friend. She clamped down on the feelings of self-pity that tried to come up with the knowledge that she would probably never find that kind of happiness.

She enjoyed spending time with these people. Many of them could be considered very close friends, like Tristan and Gregory. But ever since taking on her role as Chief, she had become separate somehow. Different, not really above approach, just... Gabrielle couldn't put her finger on it. She just knew that as long as she was Chief, she would never be able to carry on a romantic relationship with any of the people she was currently looking at.

Not that she was actually interested in any of them. She hadn't felt anything beyond an awareness of the physical attributes of some of the women. There had been no spark, no need to spend time with anyone in particular.

Gabrielle pushed the thoughts aside and went in search of a new drink. If she remembered right, there were still a few cans of orange Crush cooling in the fridge...


The last week was hectic, to say the least. Gabrielle convinced her mother to go on a trip to Paris, so she wasn't there to see the massive amount of boxes covered over with tarps piling up in the backyard. As soon as Gabrielle's mother left, Gabrielle summoned everybody to move into the mansion 'for the duration.'

Everyone seemed to have page after page of lists they were checking over. The place was in a state of controlled chaos. Everything was being checked off the printed out lists and then double-checked.

Gabrielle sought out Claudia to do her own double-checking on something that had been a little controversial in the beginning. The possibility of pregnancies in their first year of settlement had been a major concern of Gabrielle's. She knew they would need to focus their energy on building their colony and she was worried that they wouldn't have the resources to care for newborns in their fledging community.

When she'd voiced her fear to Claudia, Claudia had told her about a new birth control method that worked for three months at a time. It was a shot injected into a woman's thigh and it basically stopped the maturation of eggs for monthly fertilization. After the last full assembly, and a long argument about the rights of the individual versus the needs of the community, it was agreed that all the women would get the injection before leaving. With three months of protection, and nine months for gestation afterwards, it gave them a good year for establishing themselves in the past before having to worry about preparing for an influx of babies.

And Gabrielle was sure the numbers would be substantial. She'd spoken with several of their more scientifically minded members and learned that all species had an inherent biological need to fill in whatever niche they'd chosen for themselves. It was why birth rates skyrocketed during times of war. The species as a whole seemed to know when it was dwindling and took steps to counteract the losses to ensure its continued survival.

Gabrielle found Claudia checking over the medical inventory with her nurses and Andrea, from the Technology Department. Items were called out and then Claudia checked them off on her list.

"Andrea, we're still missing the drug encyclopedias the Literary Guild promised. Would you talk to Christina about it? We can make do with the herbal books Barbara got them to include, but I'd really like to be able to refer to the chemical compositions listed in the prescription catalog." She looked up and nodded to Gabrielle, then turned back to Andrea. "It'll really make all the difference once we get a laboratory set up and can start working on making new medicines from scratch."

"Right, I'm on it," Andrea replied, and jogged off to find Christina. She nodded to the Chief as she passed by.

Claudia turned to focus her attention on Gabrielle. "So, how're we doin'?"

Gabrielle smiled. "Pretty good. Only four more days, but nearly everything is already here. I'm hoping we finish up early though. I want to hold one last party before we go," she whispered conspiratorially to the older woman. Claudia was only 33, but Gabrielle, being 25, tended to look up to the other woman sort of as a mother figure. In light of what her real mother was like, Claudia accepted the role with a great deal of understanding.

"Well, considering we're going to be working like dogs once we get there, I think a party beforehand is a good idea," she agreed.

"Yeah. Well, I came to ask you about the birth control shots. Did everyone get theirs?"

"Yep. Did the last half-dozen yesterday down at the clinic. Remember, it's not one hundred percent sure, nothing is, but it's got the best effectiveness rating on the market, so we shouldn't have to worry too much. And even though it's only guaranteed for ninety days, some women have found it to be effective for up to nine months, so we'll be covered for a while."

"Good." Gabrielle let out a quiet sigh of relief. "The last thing we need is to have a bunch of pregnant women trying to build a village before winter comes," she stated.

Claudia laughed. "Well, it is said necessity is the mother of invention. Or would that be taking things too literally?" she quipped.

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "Well, since you'd be the one taking care of them all, I don't think you're in any position to be making jokes." They both laughed. "Well, I'll let you get back to work. I need to go check in with Gregory. He said something about missing a few boxes of ammunition."

They said their farewells and Gabrielle made her rounds. It was close to dinnertime and Gabrielle started nudging people toward the house to eat. At the mention of Luis' cooking, most people broke into a run to get to the food. The man really was a master of the culinary arts. Why he had been studying law was a mystery to Gabrielle. Well, not that big a mystery. Luis' father had certain expectations of his eldest son and being a cook was not one of them.

Several months after their accidental trip to the past, Luis had confided to Gabrielle that their misadventure had actually been a godsend to him. Though he was as terrified of being killed as the rest of them, he said he preferred it to the living death he would have had to endure back home. After they'd returned, Luis had gained a backbone and told his father he wasn't going to join the family practice. Luis never told her what he'd told his father he was going to do instead, but they'd apparently come to an understanding. His sister, Gloria, just said she was glad the arguing had stopped.

Gabrielle walked into the dining room and filled a plate with food from the many platters laid out on the main table. Luis had obviously decided tonight was Mexican night and Gabrielle piled her plate high with chicken and beef enchiladas, Spanish rice, and refried beans. Adding dollops of sour cream and guacamole on top of the enchiladas, Gabrielle grabbed up a set of utensils and a can of A&W root beer and found a seat next to Tristan and Gregory.

They had become nearly inseparable and Gabrielle couldn't help but grin at the beatific looks the two shared with one another. They were just too cute for words. Tristan glared at the smirk that Gabrielle was finding impossible to keep off her face and Gregory just shook his head at the two friends.

"When you two are done, Jonathan told me to tell you he wanted to talk to you both. I think he wants to hold a last Council meeting before we go," Gregory said.

Gabrielle pulled her eyes away from the staring contest she was enjoying with Tristan and turned to face Gregory. "Then you should be there too. So should the representatives from each of the departments. I was planning on calling a last meeting anyway, once all the checklists are completed. I figure the last day will be weighing everything, so that Tony can calculate the time jump."

"The CDs are going to be the heaviest," Tristan said.

"At least no one insisted we bring records," Gregory added dryly.

Once the Literary Guild had been thoroughly established, calls for a Music Guild had been made. After going round and round, they had finally settled on CDs, as opposed to sheet music, even though they wouldn't have the ability to play them for quite some time. The Technology Department was already bringing blue prints for making CD players, as well as computer components, so the whole thing wasn't too far-fetched, but it did add considerably to the amount of inventory they were taking with them.

"Now there, I would have drawn the line," Gabrielle declared.

"So, when's this party I heard being mentioned around town?" Tristan asked, as he casually took another bite from his chicken quesadilla.

"There's just no way to keep a secret around here, is there?" Gabrielle asked exasperated.

"Nope. You are living in a community with a population size that makes gossip a major commodity. So, come on. When's the bash?" Tristan encouraged.

"The night before we leave, but only if everything gets done on time. All the checklists need to be completed, bags packed, good-byes said," she admonished. "I expect everyone to be pretty fuzzy after the party and I don't want mistakes made because of hangovers."

"Maybe we should have the party tomorrow then. You know, then the next day we can take it easy, get down to business on Friday, and then be fresh for the trip on Saturday," Gregory suggested.

Gabrielle looked thoughtful. "Yeah, that might work better. I want everyone to be sharp when we leave anyway, so having the party now might make more sense. All right, pass the word around. Party tomorrow, recover on Thursday, and back to work on Friday."

Tristan grinned. "You definitely know how to keep the masses happy, Chief," he said.

"Thanks. I try," she replied.


The party was a big success and everyone dutifully got back to work by Friday morning. The final inventories were completed and everyone began weighing boxes, as they were moved to the center of the backyard, where the first jaunt through time had taken place.

They would wait to weigh themselves until Saturday morning, no one wanting to risk a miscalculation based on daily weight fluctuations. If it were only a few people, it wouldn't matter, but there were ninety-eight of them. A five-pound daily weight fluctuation multiplied by a hundred was too much for Tony to ignore, even if some of them canceled each other out. He'd assured Gabrielle that they had a twenty-pound plus or minus margin of error, being a few pounds off either way not really affecting their destination date. But anything beyond that amount would prevent him from guaranteeing when they would arrive.

Friday night was very tense and quiet. Very few people slept, nervousness being at an all-time high in the huge mansion. Gabrielle sat with Tristan, Gregory, Julia, and Jonathan and went over what they would do once they arrived in the past. They would need to coordinate their efforts and keeping everyone occupied in the beginning was something they all agreed was a good idea.

They spoke softly, as they held Council in Gabrielle's bedroom. Tristan and Gregory lounged on the fat reclining chair in one corner, with Tristan half-sitting in Gregory's lap. Julia sat next to Gabrielle on the bed, both of them leaning back against the headboard. Jonathan sat in one of the computer chairs with his feet propped up on the end of the bed.

"Even though we know where we're going and what we're planning on doing, everyone's probably going to be in a bit of shock when we first arrive. I think we should get to work immediately on setting up temporary shelters for everyone," Jonathan suggested, his low voice sounding crisp and clear in the quiet of the room. He was a tall guy with light brown hair feathered around his head and a pale complexion. His light brown eyes matched his hair and most people would have agreed he was handsome, if a bit lanky.

"Not everyone will be able to do that, though. Gregory, I think you should take a group of your Warriors and scout the area. It'll keep our more restless members occupied and give us a good idea of what the local resources are going to be," said Gabrielle. Gregory nodded his assent.

Tristan chimed in, "We'll also need to prepare for feeding everyone within a few hours of arrival. And I think having Claudia set up a little first aid station with the other healers would be a good idea, in case someone gets hurt while we're cutting down trees or hunting."

Gabrielle nodded. "Well, we should figure out who's going to be in charge of what those first few days. Gregory will of course be in charge of our defense. Tristan, why don't you work with Claudia and Luis and their volunteers." Gabrielle turned to Jonathan. "You'll be in charge of getting a crew together to start building shelters."

Julia tapped a hand on Gabrielle's thigh to get Gabrielle's attention. "I can take care of checking our supplies to make sure everything came with us and to get them safely tucked away in the shelters. I've already been talking with a bunch of people about it, so it shouldn't be hard to find volunteers," she finished.

Julia was a striking woman just a few inches taller than Gabrielle. Her hair was dark, not quite black, and her brown eyes sparkled at Gabrielle with something close to amusement every time she focused on the Chief.

"Great. Hopefully, it won't be raining or anything when we get there, but that's what the tarps are for. All right, I guess that leaves me to coordinate everyone and make sure it all goes smoothly."

"Ooo, supervisors always have it so rough," Tristan taunted.

Gabrielle sneered at him. "Anytime you wanna be Chief, just say the word, funny boy. We'll see how long you last the first time someone blames you because there isn't hot water for a bath."

The words came out a little more harshly than Gabrielle had intended them to. The room was silent for a few heartbeats and then Tristan spoke softly.

"I'm sorry. I know you have the toughest job of all of us, keeping it all together and making the whole thing work. And I know whenever anything goes wrong, it all falls on your shoulders. Maybe, as your Advisors, we can take some of the pressure off." He glanced to the other two Advisors and received nods of approval for his suggestion.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound so bitchy. It's not like I didn't choose this. I knew what I was getting into. It's just hard sometimes," she explained.

Julia put a hand on her knee. "But that's what we're here for. To help you lead us. I guess we haven't really been doing our jobs. I mean, you just seem to handle everything without even trying. What if we start running a little interference for you? You know, instead of everyone always going directly to you, they could come to us first and then we could send them on to you, if the situation warrants it," she suggested.

Gabrielle looked over to her. "That sounds like a good idea. I really am happy to be leading this expedition. Guess I'm just tired."

She yawned to punctuate the remark and Tristan decided it was time to let their Chief get some rest. He stood and held out a hand to Gregory, which was taken with a smile. Jonathan took the hint and stood up, too. However, Julia decided to feign ignorance. Tristan frowned and jerked his head to get her to follow them. Gabrielle seemed unaware of the exchange.

"We should let you get some sleep," Tristan said, to drive the point home to Julia.

He knew she was interested in Gabrielle, but he wasn't sure it was for the right reasons. She had only seemed to take notice of his friend after she'd been appointed Chief. At least Gabrielle didn't seem to return the attraction, so Tristan wasn't too worried. Still, he didn't want to see Gabrielle get hurt and he considered it his duty as a friend to watch out for her.

"Yeah, I'd like to actually be conscious for tomorrow," she smiled, as her best friend headed for the door, his hand firmly gripped in Gregory's larger one. "I'll see you guys in the morning." She turned to wait for Julia to get up and follow the three men out the door.

The blank patient look in Gabrielle's eyes finally seemed to register with Julia and she raised herself off the bed. "I'll come and make sure you're up on time," she offered.

"That's okay. That's what an alarm clock's for," Gabrielle smiled benignly.

Gabrielle shook her head internally. Julia had been subtle and persistent in her pursuit of a romantic relationship with her, but Gabrielle had realized early on that she didn't feel anything for the dark-haired woman. Julia was unquestionably beautiful, but there was no spark of passion when Gabrielle looked at her.

"Oh, it's no bother," Julia said, and then winked before closing the door behind her.

Gabrielle pulled the covers out from underneath her and repositioned them over her body. She sent a quick prayer to the Earth Goddess asking for the wisdom to effectively handle what was clearly becoming a bad situation for the leadership of New Gaia.

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