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Friday, Dec 15, 2017
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

New Gaia

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New Gaia - Chapter 7 - Working Together

That first night, no one slept. As dawn broke over the horizon, conversations ceased and everyone turned to watch the sunrise. It was one of the most spiritual moments of Gabrielle's life. She had never felt closer to the world and the people around her than at that moment. She tucked the memory safely away in the back of her mind to call up again later.

The day was spent checking over their supplies, rationing out food packets that Paul had picked up at an army surplus store, and scouting the area to pick out a good spot to start building their village.

While the first two activities went without a hitch, the last proved to be a bit more difficult. It wasn't until their third day of scouting that a suitable place was found. Gabrielle listened as Gregory and Tristan ticked off all the advantages of the location for her, while a few others watched the tag team convincing session.

Finally, Gabrielle held up her hands to stop the deluge of reasons in favor of building their community there and said, "All right, all right! You've convinced me. Now, how 'bout telling me what the negatives are, so that I can at least be aware of them."

Gregory and Tristan looked at each other then back at Gabrielle. Tristan spoke first. "Well, um, there aren't any really. I mean, like we said, there's a river not too far from here, plenty of woods for lumber material, and Gregory found dozens of animal trails..."

Gabrielle held her hand up and interrupted again. "Yeah, yeah, you already told me all that. Come on, there has to be at least one reason against setting up shop here," she said, as she looked from one to the other. She received blank stares. "All right, fine. Let's do it. It looks like a great spot."

Tristan grabbed her hand and kissed it noisily over and over again, until she laughed and pulled her hand out of his reach. "Eww, boy cooties, now I'm going to have to cut my hand off," she whined, and then ran, as Tristan chased her to pay her back for the teasing insult.

They garnered quite a large audience, as Tristan tackled her into the grass. They wrestled for a few moments and then finally broke apart, after Gabrielle begged for mercy from the cruel tickling Tristan was inflicting on her sides. They rested in the grass for several minutes, their heaving chests eventually resuming normal breathing. The audience dispersed and Gregory sat down next to them.

"I think morale just went up several notches," Gregory quietly told them.

Gabrielle looked up from the blade of grass she'd been playing with. "What do you mean?" she asked.

"You two. Everyone getting a chance to see the Chief and her second-in-command cut loose. You guys have been pretty serious since we got here. I think everyone was a little worried that things weren't going as well as they thought and you were trying to put up a brave front for them or something. That little display put a lot of minds at ease, I think," he explained.

"Yeah, I guess we have been a little somber, haven't we?" Gabrielle grinned to Tristan.

"Yeah, we'll have to work on that," Tristan replied.

"Gotta keep the masses happy," Gabrielle finished, before standing and offering a hand up to both men. They each took a hand and Gabrielle leaned back to use her weight to lift both of them to their feet. Then she dusted herself off. "Well, back to work."

**********************

As far as Diane could tell, after measuring the length of the days and nights for nearly two weeks, they had arrived just a few weeks after the Spring Equinox. She'd be able to pinpoint the date much better, once they hit Summer Solstice.

Their first month was chaotic, to say the least. Jonathan continued to organize the construction of living huts, while Julia worked with the Technology Department, Historical Society, and Healers Association to begin the necessary organization of the supplies they'd brought with them.

Tristan seemed to take on the role of liaison between Gabrielle and everyone else, including the other two Advisors. Gabrielle's days were spent going from one 'crisis' to the next, working with the different areas of her fledgling community in an attempt to keep everyone on track and motivated.

By the time Gabrielle was finally allowed to go to sleep at night, she was so exhausted she didn't even get undressed. Tristan noticed, after seeing her in the exact same clothes for nearly a week, and pulled her aside.

"Gabrielle, you've got to take better care of yourself," he whispered to her.

"I'm fine, Tristan," she snapped.

"You're not fine, Sweetie. You look like hell..." Gabrielle interrupted him.

"Oh, thanks a lot. I can always count on you to make me feel better," she grated out.

"Look, I'm telling you this as your friend, but also as your First Advisor. You have got to slow down or you're going to burn yourself out. You're up at the crack of dawn every morning and you don't stop until the moon has nearly set. You can't keep this up for much longer. Your people need you in top form, not running yourself ragged," he implored.

Gabrielle looked down. She knew he was right. There was just so much that had to get done before winter came, and though it seemed like a long ways off, it really wasn't.

Tristan continued, "You need to start trusting the rest of us to do what needs to be done. Delegate, Baby, delegate," he smiled.

Gabrielle let a small smile grace her lips in response to his humor. Tristan always seemed to know what to say to get through to her. "All right. You're right. I'm pushing too hard," she said.

"Yeah, way too hard. Why don't you go take a swim, change your clothes, and relax for a little while?" She started to protest, but he held up a hand to silence her. "Just until lunch. Then you can play superwoman and pretend you're invincible." He grinned again. "Go on. Go take a break for a few hours. I promise the colony won't fall apart because our fearless leader checked out for the morning."

Gabrielle smiled, a real grin this time, and shook her head. So what if it was a stupid fear? At least Tristan understood. She'd taken on this responsibility and she'd be damned if anything was going to keep her from fulfilling it, even her own health. But Tristan was right. If she really wanted to make sure the colony survived, she had to take better care of herself.

Gabrielle hugged the tow-headed man and gave him a peck on the cheek. He grinned at her and swatted her on the butt as she headed back to her hut to get a fresh pair of clothes to take with her to the river. In less than fifteen minutes, she was naked and swimming against the strong current of the water. The melting snows from the end of the recent winter made the stream chilly, but after the initial shock and several minutes of physical exertion, she warmed up considerably.

She stopped when she felt the first threads of fatigue pulling at her body and climbed out of the water. The cool morning air caused goose bumps to rise on her pink skin and she grabbed up the towel she'd laid on top of her change of clothes. She quickly dried herself and put on the warm clean clothes. Then she sat, leaning against a fallen tree trunk, and watched the water go by, listening as the clear liquid poured over large rocks and fallen branches to continue on its journey.

'It's so peaceful, just sitting here,' she languidly thought to herself. She finally admitted that she really had needed a break. 'No more midnight sessions,' she vowed. She would just have to start trusting the others to get things done when they needed to be done. 'And if they don't, well, then I can chew them a new asshole,' she grinned inwardly.

Gabrielle laid back and let her mind wander to the rhythm of the passing water.

Tristan, on the other hand, was getting a taste of what it was like to be Gabrielle. As soon as word had gotten out that their Chief had taken the morning off, everyone had decided to take their complaints and problems to Tristan. By the time lunch came, he was in the foulest mood of his life.

Gabrielle, however, seemed to be blissfully happy and it only darkened Tristan's sullen demeanor. She was practically whistling when she joined her Advisors for lunch. She cheerfully greeted everyone and got grumbled 'hello's from her Second and Third and a terse 'whatever' from Tristan.

"Okay, what's going on?" she asked, her happy expression turning into a frown, as she put her plate down and sat herself on the roughly hewn bench in front of a similarly made picnic-style table.

"Tristan got hit with about two dozen complaints while you were off lollygagging around this morning," Jonathan informed her. His tone was flat and Gabrielle couldn't tell if he was joking with her or not.

Gabrielle turned to look at Tristan. He definitely wasn't joking, even if Jonathan was. She checked her anger and took a bite of her food, trying to decide how best to handle the situation without taking his head off. 'Damn it, he's the one that told me to take off in the first place. 'Trust me' he says. Fuck. Well, if he can't handle it, I guess I needed to know that now and not later,' she decided.

"So now you know how it feels," she stated quietly.

Tristan looked up, sudden comprehension dawning on his face. He looked back down at his plate, chagrined. He didn't know what to say. He'd acted like an ass.

Gabrielle continued. "When you're the leader, everyone and everything is your responsibility. If something goes wrong, you have to handle it because it's your problem, not anybody else's. That means this is my fault." Tristan opened his mouth to speak, but Gabrielle overrode him. "It is. It was my decision to take the morning off. I didn't have to..."

Tristan finally broke in. "Yes, you did. You've been going non-stop since we got here. I'm sorry I didn't realize how much you've been doing. I thought it was just the long hours. I had no idea everyone was... well, taking advantage of you and blaming you when things weren't going right. It was insane today. You know I got blamed because we didn't bring glue with us? Like that's somehow my fault? And you know what they wanted the glue for? So they could make a stupid sign for the Healer's hut! Like everyone doesn't already know which one is the Healer's hut," he exclaimed.

Gabrielle grinned. "Didn't you know you were supposed to think of everything?" Tristan finally let a smile slip onto his face. "So, what did you tell the glue seekers?" she asked.

"I told them they didn't need it since they didn't need the sign anyway. They weren't too happy with that answer," Tristan shook his head in remembrance.

"You should have sent them to Andrea or someone from the Technology Department. They have info on how to make glue, that's why we didn't bring any with us. If it could be made here, there was no reason to bring it with," Gabrielle explained.

"Shit, I didn't even think of that. I'll go tell them after lunch."

"Don't worry about it. I'm sure it'll come up again," she promised him. She turned her head slightly to look at her other two Advisors. "So, why are you two so glum?"

They both looked up at her and then at each other. Jonathan nudged Julia, so she went first. "Um, well, I guess you sort of proved what you said about not changing leaders in the beginning. With you gone this morning, everything sort of went to hell in a hand basket. Tom and Jose have been arguing with Jonathan all morning about where to set up the Main Hall and whether we should even start work on that before we've got living huts for everyone. And Claudia started going on about the need for a bigger Healer's hut. Then Tony mentioned something about the crank on the generator having a crack in it, so he won't let anyone near it, kept saying everyone was being too rough with it. And Gregory and Paul said they need drilling space or else the Warriors aren't going to be able to stay in top condition. And..."

Gabrielle put down her fork and held up her hand. She swallowed the half-chewed bite of food in her mouth and said, "All right, I think I get the picture. Jesus."

Tristan grinned. "Thought you were Pagan," he said.

Gabrielle flipped him off and he chuckled at the obscene gesture. She returned her attention to her Second and Third. "All right, tell Tom I want him and Jose to meet me at the Main Hall site. I want you there, too," she said, looking at Jonathan. He nodded.

She flicked her eyes back over to Julia. "I want you to set up a complaint booth or something. Either you or some other volunteer can run it. We've obviously got the makings of a major communication problem on our hands and I'd like to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. I can't have everyone coming to me with every little problem and neither can all of you. It's just too much."

Gabrielle pushed her empty plate away from her. She might not be willing to make the changes for herself, but seeing her lieutenants taking flack for her made her realize something had to be done.

Julia said, "That sounds like a good idea. Maybe it'll cool a few tempers, too, since whoever takes the complaint will sort of be an innocent bystander."

"One can only hope," Gabrielle mumbled.

The rest of the day went pretty much the same as usual, except that Gabrielle called a halt several hours after dinner. She got a few surprised looks, but no one said anything as they took their leave and headed for their personal huts.

Gabrielle sighed and fell back onto her 'bed.' It was just a pile of dried grass and her grandmother's quilt, the only personal item, besides her few sets of clothing, she'd taken with her. She was tired, but not exhausted the way she had been the past couple weeks, and decided she had enough energy to get undressed. She left her T-shirt on and then crawled back onto the bed, pulling up half the quilt to wrap around her body. She quickly fell asleep.

**********************

By Summer Solstice, construction had tapered off and the new focus was on hunting and gathering food stores for the coming winter. When Gabrielle had first mentioned the need to start stocking up, she'd been met with skepticism and a few incredulous laughs. Then she'd started talking about the need for three meals a day for a hundred people for at least three months, maybe longer. That had shut everyone up.

With George and Paul in charge of the hunting parties, and Luis, Gloria, and Claudia in charge of gathering local edible plants, the storehouses Tom and his crew had built were steadily filling up. People took turns checking on the meat being smoked and the fruit being dried for preservation. Nuts were gathered and recently woven baskets were quickly filled to the brim.

The skins of the animals that the hunting parties brought down were turned into clothing for those who'd made the kill as a symbol of accomplishment. However, by the middle of August, if Diane's calculations of their calendar were correct, everyone had traded in their 'city clothes' for the leather outfits being made out of surplus hides. Once Carter, from the Technology Department, was able to track down how to make boots and moccasins, even tennis shoes were abandoned in favor of the leather footwear being made by the tailors in the community.

With the Main Hall completed, a 'Suggestions and Problems' box replaced the makeshift complaint desk and the lines of communication between the community at large and the Council was permanently opened. Gabrielle checked the box after each meal and passed out the slips of paper to those who could most easily deal with the problems or suggestions written on them.

Unfortunately for Gabrielle, she had to deal with most of the complaints herself. Many of the suggestions, however, needed to be discussed with the Council first before she could make a final decision on them.

"No. The crops will get rain or they won't. We are not going to introduce an irrigation system into this region. I agree with the suggestion of piping water for the village's use. Taking a hot bath again will be nice. But if we start abusing the technology we've brought with us, instead of living in harmony with nature..." Gabrielle was cut off before she could finish her thought.

"I don't see how ensurin' our crops survive a drought is an abuse of technology," Barbara argued.

Claudia jumped in. "Well, it certainly isn't living in harmony with nature," she stated.

"Whattaya mean?" asked Barbara.

"Well, when the wolf runs out of deer to hunt, the number of new pups goes down. When the deer replenish their numbers from fewer wolves hunting them, the number of wolves increases. That's the cycle of nature. If we do something as ecologically manipulative as use an irrigation system, we're keeping ourselves from being subject to that natural law," Claudia explained.

Barbara nodded her head. "Okay, I see what yer gettin' at, but we still gotta be able to feed ever'one. As it is, we're gonna be cuttin' it mighty fine this winter," she drawled.

Gabrielle took the floor again. "We will feed everyone, I have no doubts on that account. George and Paul will still be leading hunting parties during the winter, if possible. But I'm thinking longer term here. We cannot separate ourselves from Mother Nature. Barbara, when you saved the seeds from the best vegetables and fruits to use next year, you were working with nature, ensuring the best growth for the next season of life, but if you try to get out of living by the seasons' rhythms, when it rains, when it doesn't, when there's a flood, when there's a drought, you're attempting to set us above the natural cycles of our environment. And we all decided that we wouldn't do that." Her tone was quiet, simply reminding them of why they had all chosen to live in this time.

Gabrielle saw the nods of the people sitting around the table. Even Barbara had to allow that particular point. She'd been a party to that decision, along with everyone else, and had agreed to abide by the laws of nature. Gabrielle continued.

"We have to set the precedents now. The decisions we make here will be the legacy we leave to our children. Survival won't mean a damn thing, if we teach them that it's okay to sidestep the rules of the environment, as long as it gets us what we want. Do we want to teach hypocrisy or honor?" she softly questioned them.

"Shall we vote?" Tristan asked into the silence. There were nods all around and Tristan passed out tiny slips of paper and quills. "Yay means we irrigate next year. Nay means we leave ourselves subject to Mother Nature and whatever she may choose to throw at us."

Everyone took up their pieces of paper. They were beginning to run low on the stuff, but Andrea had assured him that paper-making was one of the crafts they had documented and they would get to work on putting that particular skill to use shortly. He dabbed his quill, another happy little invention they'd brought with them, into one of the ink blotters on the table and drew a small 'N' on his piece of paper.

It was a pretty shade of royal blue. Claudia had made the 'ink' from the juice of some berries they'd found growing locally that had turned out to be less than edible. They wouldn't kill you, but Claudia had decided to keep them for use as a diuretic. And as ink.

Gabrielle collected the pieces of paper in a small woven basket she had made a couple months after their arrival. She'd seen some of the beautiful pieces Gloria had made for use in 'Luis's kitchen, he thinks he owns the place' and had decided to try her hand at the craft. The little basket wasn't very beautiful, but it was functional.

She sat back down and pulled out each piece of paper and called out the vote for Jonathan, as Secretary, to write down. They didn't keep actual minutes of the meetings, but Gabrielle insisted that Jonathan keep a record of all the high points of the Council meetings and that included any votes taken.

It was unanimous. There would be no irrigating of crops in the near future. Gabrielle looked to Barbara and got a small smile and a nod. She wasn't just going along to go along. She understood the reasoning and agreed with it. Gabrielle felt a small weight lift off her shoulders at the concession.

**********************

Gabrielle sat in her office in the Main Hall. It was furnished with one of the nicer tables that had been made so far and she sat on a very comfortable chair that had been built specifically for her and her particular size as a gift. There were two more chairs sitting empty on the other side of the desk for visitors to use, though neither of them were nearly as comfortable as hers. Light poured in from the only window opening, which also allowed a fragrant breeze to push into the room. There were wooden filing cabinets stacked against the wall behind her chair that let her keep all the documents she needed within easy reach of her seated position.

She was going over the latest reports from the Technology Department and Historical Society and papers were strewn about her desk. Luckily, the table was large enough that the papers didn't interfere with the inkwell or candles that rested near the edges of her desk. As was usual, each report contained a ton of complaints, just barely veiled, about not being appreciated, along with the information she actually needed. Though the Technology Department had done an incredible job of gathering information and cross-referencing it with other areas of interest, finding the necessary information in the first place wasn't always very easy.

Tristan knocked on her door and popped his head in. "You busy?" he asked.

Gabrielle looked up and smiled. "For once, it's actually quiet around here. What's up?" She gestured for him to come in and grab a chair.

"Well, I wanted to talk to you about something." His nervous tone put Gabrielle on alert.

"Yeah? What about?" she asked warily.

"Well, I've been kind of worried about you."

"Why? I've been taking it easy. I don't even have circles under my eyes anymore. I checked," she grinned.

"It's not just me. A lot of people are worried about you." He wouldn't meet her eyes and Gabrielle lost her smile.

"Why?" she asked again.

"Well, you're... um, you're..."

Gabrielle sighed. Whatever this was, it was really difficult for Tristan to get out. She waited.

"You're not dating, Gabrielle. You haven't even shown the slightest bit of interest in anyone since before we made the first time jump. I know you may think this is silly, but everyone sort of looks to you to figure out whether everything is going okay or not. They see you without a love interest and it's, I don't know, kind of depressing," Tristan finished.

"You're worried about me because I haven't gotten laid recently?" Gabrielle asked incredulously.

"No, it's not like that." Tristan sighed heavily. "Shit, I didn't want to have this conversation with you. I mean I am worried about you not having a girlfriend... Actually, I'm worried you'll start taking Julia up on her offers, but I think what you do with your life is your own business. Well, sort of your own business. I expect you to share any juicy details with me. I'm entitled as your best friend." He grinned and Gabrielle smiled back at him. This was the Tristan she knew. "It's just that I'm also the First Advisor, so I got stuck with telling you that your love life has suddenly become the topic of conversation for half the village."

"What?" Gabrielle was speechless.

"Actually, it's most of the village. It was bound to happen, Sweetie. Though, honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with Julia. She's never been very quiet about being interested in you and there isn't a whole lot of other gossip to distract anyone from the topic..."

"I don't believe this. It's not like there's a huge amount of people for me to choose from. And I'm not the only one without a partner. This is crazy..." She trailed off, unable to think of anything else to say.

"I know. You just happen to be in the spotlight. That's why you're getting all the attention," he reasoned.

"Look, you can tell people to stop worrying. I have no control over when or who I fall in love with. Or if I ever do. And right now, my attention is focused on running this settlement, not whether I'm 'gettin' any' later tonight," she said angrily.

Tristan nodded his head. He'd known this was going to go badly as soon as he'd been roped into the assignment. He was going to have to kill Jonathan and Gloria later. He guessed since they'd finally gotten together, their partner hunting skills had no other direction to turn but outward, so now they were focusing on making matches for other people. He'd only gone along with it because he was genuinely concerned about his best friend's lack of companionship.

"That's not what I meant. I want you to fall in love. I mean, you deserve to be happy. I don't give a shit what everyone else thinks. You're the leader, so you're a hot topic for gossip. Look what happened to Clinton," he grinned.

"

Guess it's a good thing I don't smoke cigars," she said.

"Ewww," Tristan groaned. "Please, no cigar jokes. The stained dress jokes are bad enough."

"Yeah, both leave images in the mind best left unthought," she agreed.

"Well, I should get back to work. I'm sorry I even brought any of this up," he apologized.

"No, I needed to know. There just doesn't happen to be anything I can do about it."

Tristan left and Gabrielle sat at her table staring off into space for several minutes. Was there anything she could do about it? Did she even want to? 'When's the last time I even felt attracted to somebody else?' she asked herself. She couldn't come up with an answer.

Gabrielle groaned and put the thoughts out of her mind. She picked up the report she'd been reading and found where she'd stopped. Maybe she just wasn't destined to have love in her life. At least, not romantic love.


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