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Wednesday, Dec 06, 2023
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

New Gaia

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New Gaia - Chapter 12 - Apple for the Teacher

Gabrielle collected Tala from the Healer's hut and they walked slowly out into the daylight. Gabrielle watched her charge to make sure there were no lasting effects from their earlier combat. Tala appeared to be steady on her feet.

"Are you hungry?" Gabrielle asked.

Tala nodded and they started walking toward the Dining Hall. Tala suddenly lunged for Gabrielle. Gabrielle's reflexes took over and she immediately sidestepped the attack, but Tala was there. She didn't do anything. She just stood there and grinned down at Gabrielle. Gabrielle laughed and they continued on with their walk.

"You're a quick study," Gabrielle commented.

They arrived at the Dining Hall and Gabrielle cajoled Luis into fixing up a couple of breakfast plates for the two of them, since they'd missed that meal by about an hour. They sat down at one of the empty tables and dug into their food.

"Teach Tala words," Tala requested.

Gabrielle swallowed the food she'd been working on and nodded. "All right. Let's see. How 'bout we work on your pronouns." She pointed to Tala. "Tala eats." She pointed to herself. "Gabrielle eats." She pointed at Tala again. "You eat." Tala's face wrinkled in confusion. Gabrielle pointed at herself. "I eat." Tala maintained her puzzled expression.

"Okay, how 'bout this. I am Gabrielle. You are Tala." She gestured at them respectively.

Tala looked no closer to comprehension than before. Gabrielle started to speak again, but Tala held up her hand and stopped her, her face still frowning with the concentration of trying to understand the foreign tongue. Tala pointed at her dish. "Tala food." She looked at Gabrielle's dish. "Gabrielle food?" Gabrielle nodded. It was close enough. They'd work on ownership qualifiers later.

Tala looked at her dish again. "I food?"

Gabrielle shook her head. Maybe they'd be working on it sooner. "No." Gabrielle pointed at her food. "Gabrielle's food. My food. Mine." She pointed at Tala's plate. "Tala's food. Your food. Yours." Tala ate some of her food and continued to puzzle over the complicated information.

They finished their meals in silence and then washed up their dishes. As they walked outside into the fresh air, Tala made her request again.

"Teach Tala good fighter now."

Gabrielle was about to say no, when Gregory stepped up from where he'd been leaning against the outside wall of the Dining Hall, waiting for the two to come outside.

"Are you really going to teach her martial skills?" he asked.

Gabrielle couldn't detect any malice in his voice, so she hoped that their argument had been put in the past. "Yes, but I want to wait until she's feeling better," she replied.

Gregory looked the tall woman over. "She looks fine to me," he offered.

Gabrielle looked between the two of them. Tala was smiling, having figured out she now had an ally in her quest to get Gabrielle to teach her how to fight better. Gregory had a small grin on his face. This was his way of apologizing for earlier. Gabrielle accepted it.

"All right. Fine, let's go," she consented.

They walked to the drilling field and all activities stopped when they were noticed. Gregory shouted for them to get back to work. However, just to be on the safe side, he went to Paul and suggested that the archers find something else to do while they were there. Paul agreed. That was all they needed; a distracted archer could get somebody killed.

Gabrielle squared off with Tala again. They circled a few times the way they had earlier. Then Tala performed her trademark lunge and Gabrielle brought her foot up to perform a sidekick. She was stunned when Tala caught her foot and held it. She didn't try to flip her or knock her off balance, just held her at a stand still, all the while wearing a face-splitting grin.

Gabrielle retracted her foot and they started circling again. Tala charged again and Gabrielle decided to try the jump front snap kick again. She really didn't want to knock Tala out, so she made the force of her kick barely a quarter of what it could be. It never landed.

Tala dove under the kick and caught Gabrielle up, lifting her into her arms, and cradling her like a child. She set Gabrielle back down on the ground. The grin never left her face. They went back to circling.

"It looks like the same trick won't work twice with her," Gregory commented.

Gabrielle nodded and Tala charged her again. Gabrielle started to sidestep, but then spun and delivered a back kick at the last moment. It landed solidly in Tala's stomach and the tall woman doubled over and coughed at the impact. After a few moments though, she was back to circling Gabrielle again.

Tala lunged again and Gabrielle sidestepped the opposite way, then twisted to perform an outside crescent kick to Tala's head. Tala shook her head at the light impact and grinned.

"Why is she grinning?" Gregory asked.

"I'm not sure. I'm barely using any force, so I think she thinks we're playing a game," Gabrielle answered.

Tala charged Gabrielle again and the small woman leapt up to deliver a jump sidekick to the taller woman's chest. Tala fell back and skidded on her butt. She rolled back to her feet and started circling again, but Gabrielle held her hand up to forestall another attack.

She took a few steps to stand at Tala's side and then turned so she was facing in the same direction as the larger woman. She stepped back into the standard L-stance that all white belts learned in their first Taekwon-Do class.

Her front left leg was bent at the knee, the toes facing forward, while her back right leg was bent similarly, but with toes facing to the right. This created the L form for which the stance was named. Her body was turned so that her chest faced right as well, giving a small profile to anyone attacking her head on. Her left arm was positioned out in front of her, her right arm close to her chest, both hands balled into relaxed fists that could be tightened when circumstances called for it. She patiently waited as Tala mimicked the stance.

Gabrielle pivoted her hips and whipped her right leg out in front of her body, performing a front snap kick, and then returned to the natural L-stance. Tala copied the movement without too much trouble. Gabrielle turned to look behind her and performed a sidekick off the same leg. This time the kick landed behind her, instead of in front of her. Tala tried to imitate the movement, but lost her balance and quickly planted her feet again. Gabrielle moved to stand in front of Tala and bowed. Tala seemed perplexed at the ritual, but performed the maneuver anyway.

Gabrielle took a couple steps back and stepped back into her natural fighting stance. This time, however, Tala didn't lunge at her. Tala waited and finally Gabrielle moved to attack. Tala lashed out with her right leg and sent a front snap kick to Gabrielle's chin. Gabrielle blocked it by crossing her arms at the wrists and then twisted to deliver a turning kick to Tala's left shoulder. Tala brought her hands up in the same X-block that Gabrielle had just used and blocked the kick.

Gregory whistled. "Holy shit! She's the fastest learner I've ever seen," he exclaimed.

Gabrielle grunted her assent, as she jumped up to perform a flying sidekick at Tala's head. Tala sidestepped and spun to face her. They both grinned wildly at each other. Gabrielle straightened from the crouch she had landed in and then bowed to Tala. Tala returned the bow and they both walked over to Gregory.

Gregory stared at Tala. "You're incredible," he breathed.

Tala looked to Gabrielle for an explanation. This was a new word and she didn't know whether it was a compliment or an insult, though judging by the man's tone, it was probably a good thing.

"He means he thinks you are a good good good good student," Gabrielle explained.

Tala beamed at him. "Gabrielle incredible teach good good fighter. Gabrielle incredible fighter. Gabrielle incredible," her words rushed out of her.

Gregory blushed and coughed a little and watched Gabrielle's reaction. She was blushing too, and cleared her throat. "I think we should continue your lessons later, Tala," she suggested.

Tala agreed, much to Gabrielle's surprise. Now that the promise had been kept, Tala felt secure to move on to other things for the time being.

Gabrielle and Tala left Gregory to teach his Warriors and went for a walk around the village. It had really grown over the past few months. There were nearly a hundred individual living shelters of varying sizes spread throughout the large open clearing Tristan and Gregory had chosen for their town. The center of the clearing was open space and was called 'the Square,' even though it was circular in nature.

The Main Hall was the second largest structure, the Dining Hall beating it by several hundred square feet due to the need for a room large enough to seat a hundred people at a time. The Main Hall faced southeast. The Dining Hall was several hundred feet away and to the left of the large building. On the right, and facing northeast, was the Technology Department. To the right of that was the Historical Society's building where the various libraries were kept. Even though it was run by the Society, it was usually just referred to as 'the Library.'

Toward the outskirts of town, were the Healer's hut, the storehouses, the tanning area, and other necessary structures that housed industries that were directly related to the functioning of New Gaia. Tala could hear the pride in Gabrielle's voice, as she spoke about her people.

Gabrielle explained the duties of the people who worked in each area and how they were responsible for the continued survival of their society. Tala appeared to get the gist of most of what she was talking about and Gabrielle decided the more Tala heard English being used, the more she would learn how to use it herself.

They stopped by the river that ran south of their settlement. She wondered if their river joined Tala's river at some point in its journey. They sat on the ground and Gabrielle decided to work on Tala's use of verbs. She understood go and fight and eat, since she'd used those words correctly in her short sentences, but Gabrielle hoped to be able to teach her tenses by focusing on verbs specifically.

It took a little effort, pantomiming the actions for the words she wanted Tala to learn, but once Tala understood what Gabrielle was trying to teach her, she caught on quick. A little too quick, actually. Gabrielle was starting to regret teaching Tala the '-ing' ending for verbs. Tala was adding it to everything in an attempt to keep all her words in the present tense.

"Leafing treeing falling," she commented, when a tree finally released its last lonely leaf to the forest floor.

Gabrielle shook her head. "No, Tala. A leaf and a tree are nouns. They're things. Objects. They simply are. When the leaf falls, falling is what it's doing..."

"Leaf tree falling," Tala corrected herself before Gabrielle could finish.

"Right. That's right. Very good," Gabrielle praised. "The leaf is falling from the tree."

"The leaf is falling from the tree," Tala repeated. She wasn't entirely sure what all the extra words were for, but she was getting the hang of it.

"Right. Exactly."

Gabrielle looked around and noticed it was almost time for lunch. She'd gotten caught up in teaching Tala the finer points of the English language. She stood and held out a hand for Tala, which was easily accepted. They headed back to the town just in time for lunch.

Gabrielle led them to their seats and greeted her Advisors and First Warrior. She went to retrieve their meals, but Tala stopped her and left to get the food herself. She came back with two filled plates and two cups of fruit-flavored water. She even remembered the 'food tools' from the last two meals.

She set one plate and cup in front of Gabrielle. "Your food. You eat your food now. Yes?" she asked.

Gabrielle nodded and smiled. "Yes, that's right."

Tala set her own plate and cup down and took her seat. "My food. I eat my food now. Yes?"

Gabrielle's smile got even wider. "Yes. You figured it out. That's great!"

Tala smiled at her and started eating.

Gabrielle decided to test whether Tala really understood the concept and pointed at Tala's cup. "Your cup," she said.

"My cup. I drink my water now," and she took a sip.

"I drink water from my cup," Gabrielle said, and punctuated the statement by performing the act.

"I drink water from my cup," Tala repeated, and then did so. "My cup in my hand," she declared.

"My cup is in my hand," Gabrielle corrected.

"My cup is in my hand," Tala repeated.

Tristan leaned forward a little more, so he could address Gabrielle around Tala, who sat between the Chief and her First Advisor. "She's learned so much in such a short amount of time," he commented.

"She's like a sponge. I'm betting she has an IQ of at least a hundred and twenty-five," she said proudly.

Jonathan disagreed. "Actually, I'd place her closer to one-thirty or one-thirty-five," he said.

Julia nodded her head. "Yes, with a gift for languages. It usually takes people weeks to understand even the most basic sentences of a foreign language, especially if the training doesn't start until after adulthood. She's really quite amazing," Julia admitted grudgingly.

Tala listened to the conversation and then reached out her hand to Gabrielle's chin to pull Gabrielle's attention back to her. Then she made eye contact with Tristan and the others. "Mine," she said. Then she brought her gaze back to Gabrielle and went back to practicing her new words.

Tristan nearly bust a gut trying not to laugh and Jonathan and Julia had about the same amount of luck keeping their snickers to themselves. Gregory shook his head and went back to eating as a way to hide his smirk. Gabrielle just glared at them and encouraged Tala to talk as much as possible in order to reinforce what she'd learned that morning, though Tala obviously had no problem with the concept of ownership.

They finished with their meals and Tristan touched Gabrielle's shoulder to get her attention. "There's a few progress reports you need to take a look at and some proposals you should sign off on today," he reminded her.

"Right. Um, Gregory? You wanna take Tala with you to the fields?" she requested.

"Sure, no problem," Gregory replied.

"No," Tala stated.

"Tala, I have to work. There are things I need to do. It would be boring for you. Go with Gregory," she urged.

"No," Tala refused.

"He's going to teach you to be a good good fighter," Gabrielle coaxed.

"No, you teach me. No Gregory," Tala stood her ground.

Gabrielle looked for help from her Advisors. They each looked away, desperately fighting the urge to giggle. She looked to Gregory and he shrugged his shoulders. "It looks like she'll only learn from you," he supplied.

Gabrielle sighed. "I have to help my people be strong, Tala," she tried one more time.

"I help you," Tala said, as if that solved everything.

Tristan nearly choked on his laugh and covered it by coughing. Gabrielle sent daggers his way, but softened her gaze when it returned to Tala. "All right, but if you change your mind, tell me and you can go practice fighting with Gregory," she said.

Gregory touched hands with Tristan and left to return to the drilling fields. Julia and Jonathan went to take care of their individual responsibilities and Tristan followed Gabrielle and Tala to the Main Hall. He handed over the papers that needed Gabrielle's signature and then left to work on the things she'd already approved.

Gabrielle sat Tala at the table and then took her own seat. Tala watched as Gabrielle looked over each document, adding notes here and there, and then finally signing them. Tala remained quiet, until Gabrielle took a break to stand and stretch and sip from a mug of water.

"What flat leaves for doing?" Tala asked quietly.

"The flat leaves are called paper. The papers have writing on them and I'm reading the writing," Gabrielle explained. Tala's puzzled look brought a scene from The Dark Crystal into Gabrielle's mind and she smiled. "Writing is 'words that stay,'" she quoted from the movie. It was one of her favorites.

Tala's face lit up at the notion. "Teach me writing," she requested.

"I will, but later," Gabrielle promised.

Tala nodded and Gabrielle went back to reading the next proposal. It was for a system of money and wages to be instituted into the colony. She shook her head. There was absolutely no reason to start putting a price tag on anything. If someone wasn't happy with what they were doing, then they could change their vocation. At this point, there was no use for a monetary system, the work being reward enough. Later, maybe, when there were many settlements and a way to ensure fair trading was needed, but not yet.

Gabrielle marked off 'NO' on the bottom of the proposal and signed it. However, she added a note to save the proposal for later consideration. Money wasn't evil. It just didn't have a use in their fledgling economy yet.

Gabrielle got lost in the next few proposals. When she finally looked up again, Tala was nowhere to be found. Gabrielle panicked. She was about to run out of her office to look for her, when Tala came through the door carrying a tray with two plates of food and a pitcher and two mugs on it. Gabrielle breathed a sigh of relief.

She smiled at the thoughtfulness of the native woman. "Thank you," she said.

Tala gave her a curious look, while she set the tray down on the table and laid out their meal. "Thank you?" she questioned.

"Oh. Right. I never explained courtesies to you." Gabrielle took a bite of her food and then a sip from her mug, while she tried to come up with an explanation of please, thank you, and you're welcome.

"Okay. Well, when I said 'thank you,' I was letting you know that I appreciated what you did for me by bringing me food. What you did was good and I wanted to let you know that. The proper response among my people is to say 'you're welcome.' And if you want something, you say 'please' and then whatever it is you want. Or you can say what you want and then 'please.' Then, when you get it, you say 'thank you' and the other person says 'you're welcome,'" Gabrielle concluded. She cringed inside. That was way too much information and she'd probably just totally confused her student.

Tala studied her for a moment and then said, "You're welcome." Gabrielle grinned.

'Okay, maybe she did get all of that,' Gabrielle thought wryly to herself.

They finished up their dinner, Gabrielle keeping the conversation flowing so that Tala could practice her skills again. Tala stacked their dishes on the tray again and headed for the door.

"Thanks," Gabrielle called out.

"You're welcome," Tala replied, and grinned, then left.

Gabrielle quickly concluded her work for the day and was ready to leave when Tala came back. Gabrielle dropped the papers off on Tristan's desk on the way out. He would be able to get the ball rolling on the things she'd approved, and deal with the people whose proposals she hadn't, to either work on changing them, or explain why they wouldn't work no matter what. Anything he couldn't handle, he'd send to her.

Tala led them to the edge of the village to walk the now familiar circuit around New Gaia. They continued talking to each other, mostly commenting on what they could see in the dim light of the rising moon. The air was brisk. They probably only had another month or so before their first major snowfall.

Tala pulled an apple out of her shirt and handed it to Gabrielle. "Nu, for you," Tala told her.

"Apple. And thank you," Gabrielle replied.

"Yes, apple. You're welcome." Gabrielle bit into the side of the apple and chewed the sweet fruit. It was crisp, but warm from being next to Tala's skin. Gabrielle hastily pushed the image out of her mind and took another bite of the apple.

They meandered back through the village and Gabrielle finished off the last of the apple. She put the core in a barrel sitting along the outside wall of the kitchen. If the seeds weren't saved, at the very least, it could be used for compost next spring.

They walked to Gabrielle's hut and began preparing for bed. Gabrielle stripped down to her shirt again, while Tala divested herself of all her clothing. Tala lay down on the bed and watched Gabrielle. There was something she'd been wondering about, but hadn't been able to ask before.

"Why you wear other skin now?"

Gabrielle went through the possible meanings in her head, but the lack of clothing on Tala's body pointed to one interpretation in particular. "You mean, why do I wear clothes to bed?" Tala nodded. 'Oh boy,' Gabrielle thought to herself. 'How do I explain nudity taboos?'

"Um, well, among my people, being without clothing is considered a special occasion. People usually only get naked, get undressed, when they're alone," she explained.

"Why?" Tala asked, still confused.

"Uh, well, because. It's a very personal thing to let someone else see your body without clothes on. Not everyone feels that way, I just happen to be shy."

Tala looked utterly perplexed. Gabrielle gave up. "That's just the way it is," she said.

Tala nodded at that logic and stood up to put her clothes back on. Gabrielle winced. "No, Tala. I didn't mean you have to... You don't have to get dressed, if you don't want to. I'm the one that's shy. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, then that's what you should do," Gabrielle assured her.

Tala tossed her clothes back on the floor and plopped down on the bed, a wide smile gracing her features.

"Well, I guess we know how you feel on that subject," Gabrielle joked.

She crawled under the covers next to Tala and was wrapped in a strong embrace. Just before she completely drifted off, she heard the sleepy voice of Tala.


Gabrielle turned slightly to look at Tala, but she was already asleep. Gabrielle snuggled deeper and was surprised at the warmth she felt from hearing that word from Tala again. But she also couldn't help wondering what the word truly meant to the tribal leader.

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