Sending trails of dust high in the air from the wake of the motorcycle, the two women rode up the rocky path leading to the entrance of the command post buried deep within the mountain. As they approached, Becca saw five men with large weapons standing in front of and to the side of a huge gate. The gate was made of heavy steel bars with Constantine wire stretched over the top in row upon row of razor sharp projections. And beyond the gate was a large steel door that lead to the great hall down into the mountain.

Peering up and over the shoulder of the woman in front of her, Becca could make out more soldiers standing guard in the crevices of the mountain and near a stand of trees to the right. With a chill suddenly shooting up her spine, she wondered how many others were watching them that she couldn’t see.

Slowing to a stop at the gate, Nikki smiled at the guard who met them. "Hi ya Steve. Miss me?" she began with a wink before she felt the cold steel from the business end of the rifle the guard was holding touch her left temple.

"Password." The guard replied coolly, not moving the weapon from her head as another guard moved quickly towards them, his own weapon reaching up to aim at the women.

"Chevron." Came the casual reply as a glint flashed off the deep blue eyes to the man holding the gun on her.

With weapons lowered now, Nikki looked at the man and smiled. "You learned well Steve. Good job."

"Thank you ma’am, you may proceed." That was all Steve said in the way of a response as he saluted then waved for one of the men to open the gate.

Passing through the metal gate and towards the heavy door in front of them, Becca saw it slowly spread wide, allowing them passage into the darkened cavern of the mountain side.

Driving carefully down into the artificial cave, allowing their eyes to become adjusted to the dimmer light inside, Becca leaned over the shoulder that her face was pressed to as a tremor shuddered through her body, "What was that all about? Don’t they know you?"

"Yea, they know me. I’ve always told Steve to ignore what his eyes were telling him and to use his brain." Nikki replied, albeit somewhat cryptically.

"What do you mean by that?" Becca asked as they traveled down farther into the bowels of the mountain. Her skin now adjusting to the temperature change as it became warmer albeit still damp.

"It’s just that even though I look like me, I might not be me. Got that?"

"No, not really but I’m sure you will explain later." Becca replied, a bit annoyed at the cryptic way in which Nikki was talking but knowing by now that the warrior would, at some point explain herself more clearly.

"Think of it this way, what if I were one of the bad guys who just happened to look like me and good old Steve there just let me in because he thought he knew who I was. Well, you can see the problem that could cause, right!" Nikki continued as they came to a stop near the opening of a long but narrower hallway.

"Well, whatever. I’m just glad to be off this damned machine and onto solid ground somewhere warm." Becca said smiling even as her muscles protested the pressure as she stood. Bending now at the waist with hands on her hips, Becca stretched her back and legs after they had stiffened up from riding on the powerful motorcycle all day.

Glancing at the now slowly gyrating form of her new companion, Nikki smiled to herself as she watched the supple body twist and stretch. With a smirk forming on her lips, Nikki quickly shook the sensual thoughts from her mind…

"Yea, it’s not much but it’s warm and at least a little drier then outside." Nikki said as she led the way down the tapered hall.

Leaving the bike with a guard near the opening of the hallway and taking their packs with them, they passed yet another guard as they made their way down. Looking around and seeing even more of the gun toting soldiers, Becca wondered just how many it took to protect this place. "Why are there so many guards on the inside if you have them outside?" she questioned Nikki as they walked farther, passing more hallways and huge steel reinforced doors.

"Well, that’s how we managed to take over this place to begin with. The reformers only had guards on the outside. Once we penetrated their outer defenses, there was nothing left to stop us from taking over everything. We don’t want that ever happen to us, so we have guards everywhere." Nikki answered as she stopped in front of a simple steel door then entered in a code into the key pad placed on the wall. With a soft click, the door unlocked as Nikki held it open for Becca.

Once inside the office, Nikki quickly moved to the other side of the room and picked up a phone sitting on a nearly empty desk. After dialing a few numbers…

"Nikki here, le’me speak with Liz."

The instant Becca heard Nikki say the other woman’s name she felt a pang somewhere in the back of her stomach. Now what is that all about? Becca questioned herself, wondering why she felt anything at all when the warrior spoke the other woman’s name. I mean, it’s not like I own her or anything. Hum, then why do I find myself feeling… what? Jealous?!? She continued to question herself as Nikki began talking into the receiver.

"Hey, how ya doing? … Yea, just got in. … I’m not sure, probably a few weeks. … My quarters still available? … Any chance I can get another bunk put in there? … Well, I brought someone with me. … Her name is Becca. Met her when I was at the Eighth. … No. And you can keep that thought to yourself. … Okay, I’ll see you in a bit. I’m in my office." Hanging up the phone, Nikki pointed to a chair on the other side of the room indicating that Becca could sit there if she even wanted to sit at all after their long trip.

"So, who’s Liz?" Becca asked, then wished she hadn’t when the question sounded more like an accusation then a simple request for information.

With one eyebrow slowly reaching up on her forehead and a neat grin spreading over her face, Nikki replied, "Oh, she’s just a… friend."

Becca reminded herself not to inquire anymore about Nikki’s friends. Instead she began looking around the office. She directed her eyes anywhere but towards Nikki in hopes that the flush in her cheeks would disappear soon.

Nikki sat in her chair at the desk and grinned as she watched Becca’s face flush with green eyes darting everywhere nervously.

The office was simple for someone who is in command, Becca thought as she took the proffered seat. Uncomplicated and designed for efficiency. On second thought, she realized that it fit Nikki rather well. Regional and local maps covered most of the walls, with the only furniture in the room being a desk, small file cabinet, two visitor chairs and a table against one of the walls. There were more maps and papers on the table as well as a few odd papers on the desk.

When the knock sounded at the door, Becca jumped from her seat as if she were a child who had just been caught doing something wrong. Nikki’s eyes darted over to her as the corners of her lip turned up to match the one brow and formed a neat grin. Smoothly then, Nikki slid out of her seat and strode to the door, the smile fully evident on her face now.

As Nikki pulled open the door, Becca found herself leaning forward in her seat in order to see past the warrior to who was on the other side. The heartbeat clutched in her chest as she spied the gorgeous brunette standing in the doorway. The woman was nearly as tall as Nikki, with long, soft auburn hair, streaks of reds and chestnut running through it, pulled back away from her face. She had eyes to match, deep brown with gold flecks floating in them. She wore a simple leather halter top, the color of a golden calf, cut deep in the front to show off her rather impressive cleavage and tight soft brown leather pants that accentuated the muscles in her legs. And those muscles in her arms and legs rivaled that of Nikki’s but looked softer, not quite as powerful somehow but rather supple and toned, as she stood in the door way.

Get a grip Becca. Why do you care if this woman is so beautiful? And why do you care if Nikki has another friend. It’s not as if you have some claim on her or anything. Becca berated herself as she watched the woman gracefully glide into the room, her arms reaching up to encompass the slightly taller Nikki around the neck then pulling her into a hug. With a small kiss to her cheek, Liz released the warrior then slipped one arm easily down around Nikki’s waist.

"Becca, this is Liz." Nikki introduced them as they moved in front of her. Then pointing with her hand to the chair next to the one Becca was sitting in, she guided Liz to it.

"Pleased to meet you Liz. Have you known Nikki long?" God, I’m making a real mess of this. Now just shut up! She berated herself again after making her latest verbal accusation.

"Nice to meet you too. And as a matter of fact, I’ve known Nikki for about a year." Liz said as she gave a wink and a smile in Nikki’s direction.

"Um, yes, well." Trying to ignore the smile on Liz’s face and the blush on Becca’s, "So, what’s been happening since I’ve been gone?" Nikki voiced, as she began to wonder about the way in which Becca was acting.

Interesting, very interesting. Nikki thought quizzically as she looked into the eyes of her young companion. I wonder if that’s a bit of jealousy I hear in her voice or just some strange curiosity she has about my friends. A slow sensual smile grasped the corners of her mouth as her mind began to wonder about the younger woman.

"Not much actually. We’ve been hearing rumors though that the reformers are going to lay low until Solstice and then hit us when they think we’re not ready. But right now, it’s just rumors. I have sent scouts out to see if they can find out more information, we should be hearing back from them soon. Other then that, all’s quiet on the western front, so to speak. Oh yea, I almost forgot. This came for you about 2 days ago. I think it’s from John." Liz reported as she handed the sealed note over, then began studying Nikki’s new friend.

Liz didn’t mind the fact that Nikki might have taken on a new lover, briefly, at least just for sex, but she hated the thought of her bringing someone here. Nikki usually gets involved, if you can call it that, with other warriors, but this girl… is no warrior. I wonder what the attraction is? Maybe Nikki just needed someone to keep her warm on the trip back here. Liz thought with a smirk as she looked over Becca appraisingly. Mmm, she is kinda cute though, maybe I could convince her to keep my bed warm while she’s here. Relaxing a bit now, Liz continued to fantasize with a grin moving onto her face.

Feeling a bit nervous with Liz’s eyes glued to her, Becca’s mind began to speculate on what these two women meant to each other. Her thoughts drifted to images of the two of them sparing or talking in huddles close to the camp fire as she and Nikki had done over the past few days. Becca found her mind traveling then to images of the two warriors getting closer, holding each other and finally her minds eye imagined them kissing.

Surprise and a very flushed face over came her at the thought of what she was imagining. Standing quickly, "I.. is.. is there a bathroom somewhere that I could use?" the words rushed out as the heat built over her face and neck.

"Yea, just down the hall to your left." Came the answer from Nikki as the warrior looked at her in bewilderment.

"Mmm, you think she’s.. jealous?" Liz asked after Becca left the room, her own eyes now traveling seductively over the form of the tall woman seated on the corner of her desk with one leg dangling over the edge.

"I told you on the phone that we aren’t sleeping together so I don’t know why she would be jealous. Anyway, I’m sure she has never even thought of being with a woman, let alone me. Christ, I almost got her killed, you’d think I would be the last person she would think of like that. " Nikki said as a sudden glimmer of possibilities pasted over her eyes.

"Um hum, that’s not what I see." Liz singsonged.

"Just leave it, will ya." Nikki said sharply, as a surprised glare flashed towards the soft brown, now innocent looking eyes of her sometimes bed mate.

Liz cocked her head a bit to the right and a faint snicker left her lips as Nikki felt a sudden shiver of curiosity about Liz and what was going on in her head.

Ignoring Liz for the moment, Nikki flipped the note from John over in her hands before slipping one long finger under the flap and pulling it open, breaking John’s unusual seal.

"Damn, just what I was afraid of." Her voice almost in a whisper as it left her mouth.

"What’s the matter Nikki? John say something you don’t like?" Liz chuckled a bit before she saw the concern show on her commander’s face.

"Yea, something like that. Seems like we had a turn coat over at the Eighth." Nikki replied as she continued to read the contents of the note.

"Oh, what was that all about?" Liz questioned.

"The last day I was there, the Guard sent in a few assassins, twice. Obviously it didn’t work." Nikki smiled, then continued. "I was wondering how they knew I was there and had John check it out for me. Looks like a clerk in the damn Lieutenant’s office slipped a note out to one of the Guards." Blue eyes burned now as she thought about Becca almost getting killed in the attempt on her life.

"Damn, why did he do that? And why didn’t anyone know there was a spy there?"

"Seems that this asshole was pissed at me because his brother was killed during the mission there. Guess he thought I was the one to blame for that." Nikki’s voice trailed off as her forehead furled slightly.

Liz watched Nikki quizzically as she inwardly berated herself over yet another death under her command.

"Listen Nikki, I just don’t understand why you let that stuff get to you. I mean this is war for Christ sakes, people die. Get on with it. And I hope that John killed the fucking little bastard who did this." Liz stated mater of factly, then smiled inwardly at the thought of some little weasel getting what was coming to him for spying like that. She wished she would have been there to administer the punishment.

Nikki looked up with darkening blue eyes and was about to argue with Liz over the value of life, any life, when Becca walked back into the room.

Glad for the sudden distraction, Nikki gave a quick smile at the sight of the younger woman. Shaking her thoughts of Liz, realizing that to argue with her on this point was futile, she slipped the note into her pocket and sat down behind the desk.

They chatted casually for the next hour, catching up on what had been going on when Nikki’s eyes glanced over at Becca. A soft smile coming to her lips as she watched the girl slumped slightly over in her chair, her eyes half closed as her chin rested in her palm.

"Listen, it’s getting pretty late and I wanted to get an early start in the morning. I guess we had better get going." She directed to Liz as she stood, holding a hand out for Becca to take.

"Oh, of course, I understand." With a wink directed towards Nikki. "Yes, it is getting rather late isn’t it dear." Liz smiled sweetly to the warrior as she rose up out of her chair. Running her hands down slowly over the soft leather pants covering her hips, enough to smooth out the wrinkles as well as catch Nikki’s eye. She looked up, expecting to see Nikki watching her movements with a familiar lust in her eyes but was discouraged when all she saw was Becca being gently pulled up from her seat by Nikki’s outstretched hand.

Urumph Liz’s eyes shot at a rather pre-occupied Nikki. Then quickly released her anger for the moment.

"Becca, it’s been so nice to meet you my dear and I’m sure we will have a chance to get to… know each other even better over the next few weeks." She said in a sultry voice as she winked then slid her own hand towards Becca’s. Holding the soft hand in hers a bit longer then what was appropriate, she smiled, then leaned over to place a gentle kiss on Becca’s cheek.

"Come on Becca. Our quarters are just down one level. G’nite Liz." Nikki said sharply to the other warrior as she quickly took Becca’s hand and led her out the door. Wow, now look who’s getting jealous. She reprimanded herself as she recognized the strange feelings poking through her normal emotional armor.

Watching as the two women moved down the hall towards the elevators, Liz’s grin widened. Yep, this should be real interesting. She thought with a smirk as she turned and headed towards her own room.

 

Chapter 7

The next few weeks were filled with so much activity that the days all seemed to melt together. Nikki was off at one meeting after another or else she would be working out in the training yard. She had convinced Becca to join a self defense class, telling her that if she didn’t learn to defend herself properly, she would not be allowed to come with Nikki when she left. Becca felt that it was just a trick to get her to learn some self protection without the aide of a sack of apples, but she enjoyed the concern that Nikki showed for her and anyway, that means she plans to take me with her when she leaves! Becca thought with a widening smile crossing over her perfect white teeth.

Becca’s training consisted mostly of using a Bo and a set of nunchaku as well as learning more formal hand to hand defensive skills. She enjoyed learning the use of the Bo the most and was beginning to get the hang of it finally. The Bo was a hardwood staff about 5’ in length. The center of it had been hollowed out so that a blade, poisoned darts or a chain could be concealed inside. She had a hard time wrapping her mind around the idea of killing someone, at least not directly, so she settled on learning the use of the chain. As a warrior would weld the Bo about in an arc, the chain could be deployed from the end of the hollowed out center with a flip of a small switch. With the chain firmly connected to the end of the Bo by a safety clasp, the warrior had the advantage of having a wider arc of defense, not to mention a chain that could be used to wrap around as well as strike an opponent.

Becca would come back to hers and Nikki’s rooms every evening with new bruises to show for her efforts in the training compound, but she had to admit, she was getting pretty good at using the Bo and soon the bruises came less often. She soon began to feel very comfortable with the long wooden pole, it almost felt natural to her, somehow familiar.

She also was beginning to enjoy the training more and soon saw a definite increase of muscle and a little more tone to her body. As Becca was getting ready for training one day, she noticed herself in the mirror of the dressing room. Mmm, not bad kid, I wonder if anyone else has noticed my new "hard body". Becca thought with a smile as her mind drifted briefly to an image of Nikki.

On occasion, Nikki would join Becca in the compound for training and give her little pointers to help with what she was learning that day.

"Hold it with the center, directly even with your chest, more balance that way." Nikki would say over her shoulder as she herself was practicing with her own weapons.

Or.

"If your gonna hit someone, ya better mean it!" she would prod the younger woman to work harder while watching her strike the Bo against a hanging bag.

And on the rare occasion, they even had the chance to spar together. Becca soon realized that there didn’t seem to be a single weapon that Nikki wasn’t an expert with. She would watch as Nikki practiced with the Kamas, whipping them over and under in an intricate arc of movement around her body. But it was the sword that Becca loved to watch the warrior use the most. It was only about 24" in length with the blade honed to a very sharp edge and a brass and leather grip. But it was the scabbard that Nikki liked in particular. She said it was fashioned after the old Ninja ones used long ago. It was made of heavy leather about 3-4" longer then the sword itself. There was a hidden compartment at the end of the scabbard that was used to hide a number of other weapons such as spikes, darts and an occasional poison.

Nikki would use the sword in practice just as she did with the Kamas, imagining enemies to all sides of her as the sword plunged and arced around her body in a lethal dance of motion. Becca would sit back at these times and just watch in awe as Nikki’s concentration focused solely on what she was doing. Every motion counted, every move intended to lay lethal force on her opponent. Nikki’s eyes would turn such a deep and penetrating cobalt at those times that Becca had a hard time looking at them without flinching.

After watching the warrior train like this, Becca understood completely why her fighting skills were feared and respected so much. She had never imagined that someone could be so focused and efficient in such a deadly art yet still be so kind and gentle as Nikki was to her.

Nikki had told her when she first started training that if she ever picked up a weapon in battle, she too had better be focused or she would find herself dead very quickly.

Statements like that and watching the woman hone her skills had always sent uneasy shivers through Becca’s gut. But she also found it hard not to just sit and watch, mesmerized at how Nikki made it look almost… graceful.

Then there were the times when Becca would be training and Liz would be in the yard as well. They began sparring together and soon found themselves in a rather awkward friendship. Liz soon began to arbitrarily make plans to meet Becca for training practice. Becca felt uneasy about breaking the dates so she always accommodated the brunette warrior and showed at the appointed times. The blond continued to feel nervous around Liz though. The "not so subtle" seductive looks that she would receive from the woman as well as the lingering, soothing touches whenever she would get hit by Liz’s Bo always made her feel like.. cringing. And Becca always made an excuse to go back to her quarters to shower after training instead of using the facilities there. She didn’t know why she felt that way about Liz, maybe it was just that she didn’t trust her for some unknown reason. She wanted to know more about her though, about the relationship that she had with Nikki in particular.

Yea, I’m going to have to find out more about why Nikki would choose to be so close with her. Becca thought one day after leaving the training yard and Liz.

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

The evenings that Nikki and Becca spent together soon fell into a comfortable routine. Becca would cook a simple dinner for them when they finally got back to their small set of rooms then settle into her writing as Nikki would sit quietly in deep meditation or begin idly sharpening her sword and Kamas.

Nikki loved her sword. It had always been the most comfortable weapon for her. She liked that it gave way to stealth over the loud intrusiveness of a gun. Not that she didn’t find uses for a gun however, Nikki was one of the best when it came to taking out the enemy with the small 9mm Steyr GB-80 automatic pistol that she always carried. It was stainless steel with an 18 round clip that could easily be removed for another to slip into place quickly. It also had a gas injection system to reduce the recoil in her hand and arm, making it a very smooth weapon to use. It did feel comfortable in her hands. But her sword, now that was a classic weapon, something she could bond with unlike the impersonal feel and loud noise of the gun. She had a smaller scabbard sewn into her duster to hold it. It ran from the neck line down the back of the long leather garment, encasing the weapon entirely up to the hilt with nothing but the hand grip uncovered. Nikki could easily reach over her shoulder to retrieve the sword if the need for it arose. It also felt good to the warrior to have the weapon held close to her body like that.

Warm and secure, kinda like a blankie for warriors Nikki laughed to herself one day after explaining to Becca why she liked the sword held so close.

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

The small set of rooms that the two of them shared were nothing special but still rather nice, Becca had thought. They were on one of the lower levels, not far from the practice yard and infirmary. Becca chuckled when she realized that it was the perfect location considering its occupants. The rooms were constructed of solid concrete block as was the entire complex. But the living quarters at least had some relatively nice wooden paneling to cover the bare blocks.

It had taken Becca a while to get accustomed to not having any windows to look out of or to let the sun shine in, but she had managed. On the rare occasion, Nikki would take her up "top side" so that they could go for walks through the forest or just sit out in the sun near the mountain lake that was only a mile away. They always took a lunch basket with them on those trips as well as their weapons.

"No sense making a trip like that if we can’t practice a little in the real world. What other reason would we have to go up there?" Nikki always said even though it was her who Becca caught packing extra strawberries or some other treat into their lunch basket.

The rooms they lived in were quite nice however, even without windows. There was a small utility kitchen with a breakfast bar separating the living room that housed a desk and a few scattered chairs as well as a sofa and coffee table. Situated at the end of a hall to the left of the living area, was a rather small bathroom and a cozy bedroom in between.

They shared the bedroom as well. It had a full bed on one side of the room and a small comfortable cot that Nikki had had placed there for Becca’s use. In between the two beds was a tall chest of draws that Becca filled with her clothing in the lower drawers and left the top ones for Nikki.

The walls of their quarters, Becca decided, needed… something. They were plain and bare. In fact, there were no personal items anywhere in the rooms at all. Very efficient but not very inviting. Some what like it’s main occupant, Becca thought one day. Nikki had shown her where the commissary was located during her first days there so when ever the opportunity arose for some free time, Becca would head there just to browse.

One morning, not long after arriving, after Nikki was gone, as usual before Becca even woke up, the petite blond took to re-decorating the quarters. She spent the morning picking and choosing with great care through the limited items at the modest store. She found vases and silk flowers as well as sweet smelling soaps for the bathroom. She also chose a beautiful wall hanging that depicted a scene of an ancient battlefield, complete with war horses and weapons of all types and in the center of the painting was a female warrior. It wasn’t a bloody scene and would be appropriate for the living area and she knew that Nikki would love it. At least, I hope she does Becca smiled to herself as she put it into her small cart. As well as the tapestry, Becca also found some small frames in which she placed pictures of the local lakes and forests that she had found. If I can’t have a window then at least I can have a picture of what the world looks like Becca mused after signing for the items and headed back down the elevators to their quarters.

She got to work first with cleaning the rooms thoroughly. Not that they were dirty really, it’s just that no one had been living in them for a while and there was dust covering everything. She then spent most of the afternoon in the careful placement of the items she had found, only to re-arrange them a moment later. The large wall hanging she had found was a bit difficult to get up so high on the wall but she scooted a chair over to stand on and managed to get it securely up there just before Nikki came home.

As the door to their quarters opened, Becca rushed to stand in the center of the living area then waited to see Nikki’s reaction to what she had done. Oh god, I hope she likes it. I hope she’s not mad at me for changing her place around. Damn! What have I done, of course she’s going to be mad at me! This is her place, not mine. Becca’s mind raced as the door opened wider.

Entering, the tall woman immediately saw Becca standing in the center of the room, fidgeting with her hands and rocking back and forth from one foot to the other.

"What’s up?" she questioned as she moved farther into the rooms. Then blue eyes quickly began scanning the area for danger. Taking in her surroundings, Nikki suddenly noticed the reason for Becca’s hesitance.

"Wow. You’ve been… busy!" Nikki’s answer came as she began to wander the room with her eyes, searching out all the changes.

"Oh god, I hope you don’t mind. It’s just that.. that it was so dreary in here and… oh god, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that you kept it dreary, it’s just that, well, I was hoping to surprise you. If you don’t like it, I’ll take it all back. I’m so sorry." Becca rushed the words out so fast that she didn’t even notice the tall woman smiling at her.

"Who said I didn’t like it? I think it’s great. And I love that tapestry, wow!" her eyes now inspecting the painted cloth fabric covering the wall. "The place was beginning to get a bit drab. I’m just not good at decorating and I’m not usually here that much anyway." She said as she moved in closer to the young woman whose flushed face was showing the smallest signs of relaxing now.

"Are you sure you’re not mad? I didn’t know if you would be after I changed it so much. I think I got a bit carried away though." Becca said as she looked over to the silk flowers nestled in a vase tucked up on the counter.

Nikki’s eyes followed the same path, settling on the flowers, then let out a very audible "Umm." Along with one upturned brow and a slight smile creeping up the corners of her lips.

"Oh.. I knew I went too far with that one." Becca chuckled nervously, a hesitant smile sneaking onto her lips when she saw the reaction on Nikki’s face.

"No, really, it’s okay. I just never thought about having flowers in my quarters before." Nikki said as her smile grew wider.

Looking into the deep green eyes in front of her, Nikki found it hard not to just take the woman in her arms and hold her tight. I can’t believe she did all this. She has been so good to me, I wonder what I’ve ever done to deserve her. And… I don’t want to do anything to mess that up. Nikki thought to herself as she slowly backed away from Becca.

Confused a bit when Nikki withdrew away from her, wishing instead that she would have just hugged her. I wonder what goes through her mind sometimes. She looks at me like she wants to hold me, then backs away. Becca questioned as she found herself wondering of the possibilities.

Hum, I continue to feel myself becoming closer to Nikki but I have never felt this way about a woman before Becca continued to contemplate. In fact, I have never felt this way about anyone, come to think of it. Even when I was to get married, I never felt my heart leap or my pulse grow so fast I thought it would jump out of my chest at just the mere sight of him. But I’m finding myself feeling more and more like that towards Nikki.

Shaking off her uneasy thoughts for the moment, Becca led Nikki around the quarters, showing her the rest of the changes.

"I like it! Those supposed to be windows!?!" Nikki chuckled easily, looking at the framed prints of the local scenery. Then absently placing her arm over the shoulders of her companion, Nikki pulled her into a friendly hug.

"Oh, gee… thanks." Becca remarked as a gentle flush grew warm over her face. Mm, nice.

"Um, sure, no problem… You did a good job here, thanks." Nikki said as she hesitantly slipped her arm from that of the young woman. Don’t go there Nikki. She’s a good kid, let her stay that way Nikki reprimanded herself even as she felt the loss of the young woman in her arms.

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

"So, ya wanna go top side today?" Nikki’s voice traveled to the other room as she sat there drinking a cup of steaming coffee.

"What? Oh yea, that sounds like fun." Becca replied as she re-entered the kitchen area.

"Great. I’ll get my sword and your Bo if you want to get a lunch basket together for us. Nikki said as she pulled herself up from the bar stool.

Becca watched the warrior as she retreated down the hall towards the bedroom. Smiling, "Yippee, we get to go top side, we get to go top side" Becca singsonged under her breath as she grabbed the small basket from the cupboard then opening the fridge to see what was there that was edible. Realizing that she had not done any shopping for over a week, Becca looked discouragingly at the almost empty refrigerator as it stared back at her.

"Nikki. I think we may have to stop at the store before we head up, I didn’t do any shopping this week. I’m so sorry." Becca projected in a distressed voice to the empty room.

"Hum, well, don’t worry about it. We’ll grab something on the way out." The smooth inflection came as Nikki moved back into the room. Bo and sword in hand, her eyes traveled over to the blond. She is so cute when she gets worried like that Nikki mused as she watched the young woman pulling boxes and other things haphazardly from the cupboard.

"Yea, okay. I can’t believe I forgot to do the shopping this week." Becca said with a self berating tone to her voice.

"It’s not that big a deal. You were busy. Anyway, I shouldn’t always rely on you to do the shopping."

Oh great. Now she’s mad at me. Dang, Becca, if you can’t even do a simple thing like remember to get food in the house, how do you expect Nikki to rely on you when she really needs it. The discouraging thoughts filled Becca’s head.

Seeing the despondent look on the blonde’s face, "Hey, it’s okay, really. I just meant that I shouldn’t always put that kind of chore on your shoulders. I mean, you do such a good job of doing the domestic things around here and I should really take more time to help you." Nikki said as she wrapped a strong arm around the shoulders of the dejected looking woman, trying to console her a little.

Nikki smiled to herself, relieved that she found some way to be able to hold the woman without feeling guilty that she was corrupting her in some way.

"So, let’s get going. We’ll stop at the store, grab something to take with us and get up in the fresh air for a few hours. We can do the shopping for the house later, okay. Ya ready?" Nikki said as she slipped her arm from Becca’s shoulder, grabbing a small blanket up in her arms as well as their weapons then moved towards the door.

Feeling the grip of the younger woman’s arms suddenly around her waist when she got to the door, Nikki smiled as she slowly spun around in the arms holding her.

"What’s that for?" Nikki questioned as she looked down into soft green eyes, a smile softening her face.

"Mmm, just a thank you for not being mad at me." came the quiet reply.

Dipping her head down in answer to Becca, Nikki placed a gentle kiss on top of the blond head resting just under her chin then wrapped her own arms around the back and shoulders of the younger woman.

They stood like that for a long moment, relishing in the common feeling of peace and familiarity that both were feeling.

Surprised at her sudden and undeniable reaction to the young woman, but enjoying the sensation of the arms wrapped around her even more, "I couldn’t be mad at you Becca. You didn’t do anything wrong." Nikki began softly. "Now come on, let’s get going before we spend the whole day in here discussing just who should be in charge of the shopping around here."

Mmm, I wouldn’t mind spending the whole day in here with you, not at all, as long as you keep your arms around me like that. Becca grinned to herself as she reluctantly released the warrior from her grasp.

Exiting out into the open air and sun shine, Becca breathed in deep the sweet, crisp air as her eyes fluttered, trying to become accustomed to the natural brightness around them.

"Mmm, it is so beautiful. You almost forget about how wonderful it is up here when you’re trapped down in the dungeon." Becca exclaimed as she looked around at all the pine trees and the wide open blue sky surrounding them.

Hum, beautiful. Yea, it sure is. Nikki reflected as she looked over to Becca standing there, the rays of the sun filtering down through the trees to flicker around the blond head like a halo.

"Yea, we should come up here more often. I just get so busy sometimes, ya know." Nikki said pensively as she too breathed in deeply, feeling the fresh air fill her lungs.

Settling the blanket smoothly over the pine needle covered ground, Becca looked over at the dark headed woman. Nikki stood on the edge of the bluff, looking out at the valley below. It was apparent that her mind was somewhere far away.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Becca asked finally.

"Oh. I was just wondering what the reformers had in mind." She began. "We got word the other day that there was a large contingent of Guard forming to the east of here but Liz told me that she heard they were definitely not planing to attack sometime around Solstice." Nikki continued, a worried crease forming on her brow.

"But hey, don’t you worry about it. Let’s just have a good day." Nikki said after turning to face Becca who now had her own worried look covering her face.

Quickly standing up, "Don’t tell me not to worry about it Nikki. I’m in this just as much as you are, ya know. I have a right to worry about it. Especially if it means that it worries you or is something that could get you killed!" Becca replied tersely, her eyes flashing angrily.

"Whoa there." the words coming quickly as she placed her hands on top of Becca’s shoulders, then looking down into fiery green eyes, she continued with a somewhat condescending tone, "It’s just that I don’t want you to get upset over things like this, that’s my job." She smiled.

Not allowing Nikki to get away with treating her like nothing but a tag along, Becca shook her shoulders free of the warrior’s grasp then placed tight fists on her hips.

"Oh no ya don’t. You’re not going to keep treating me like I’m not a part of this. I’ve been working out, practicing with my weapons, listening to you every night talking about this battle or another. Hearing every plan you have against the reformers. I live with you for crying out loud! You think I’m oblivious to what’s happening? You think I don’t know how worried you’ve been? You think I can’t share in what’s happening with you and what goes on in your mind? I’m not just some dumb stranger ya know, I love you!" the words left Becca’s mouth before she even realized she was saying them.

They stood for a long moment, each looking at the other, not knowing quite what to say.

She loves me!?! Nikki’s mind raced, then quickly shaking the thought and reflecting back to the other things that were said.

"I.. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel that I think your just some kid. I know your not." Nikki said softly as she once again placed her hands onto the firm shoulders of the younger woman.

Damn, why did I have to go and say that? That is not at all how I had envisioned telling her those words. Becca thought pensively as she felt the heat rise in her face.

"I just don’t want you to get hurt, that’s all. I’m supposed to keep you from danger, remember?" blue eyes pleading as they softened.

"Well, don’t you worry about keeping me from danger, I just want you to trust me. I want to help." Becca replied as she found herself relaxing under the soft grip on her shoulders.

"I do trust you Becca. And I guess I should give you more opportunity to help, if that’s what you want."

"Thank you. Yes, that’s what I want. I want to help you Nikki, I want to be there for you when you need me. I need to be there for you, don’t you understand?" Becca said even though she didn’t quite understand those needs herself.

Pulling Becca closer, Nikki wrapped her arms tightly around the woman and just held her there tightly against her body. The beating of individual hearts reverberated through them as if they became one strong beat. They stood there together for a long moment, relishing in the shared contact. The sun beating down on them, was now not the only thing keeping them warm.

At that moment, Nikki suddenly felt like she had found something that she didn’t even know was lost. She felt somehow complete.

They spent the rest of the morning after that practicing with their weapons and talking. They laughed at each others jokes and played ‘tag’ gently with the end of the Bo until they finally settled down to eat the lunch they had brought with them.

Relaxing now in the feel of shared companionship, their talk turned to more serious matters.

"So, what did Liz say about the Guard that has you so worried?" Becca asked as she plopped a piece of apple into her mouth.

The pensive look on Nikki’s face explained more then her words.

"She said that her contact had come back with information that the Guard were not going to attack, but my other scouts told us quite the opposite."

"Well, maybe Liz got it wrong or maybe the other scouts did. You trust Liz, right?" Becca asked even though she didn’t understand why the warrior would trust someone like Liz. She never felt that secure around her but then, she didn’t know Liz as well, so maybe there was a good reason for Nikki to trust her. And, she had never told Nikki about the way that Liz looked at her or touched her, just some of the reasons that Becca didn’t trust the woman.

"Yea, I trust her. She has never given me reason not to. It’s just that it’s very strange to have conflicting reports like that. I’m not sure what’s going on but I’m going to find out." Nikki said thoughtfully as she sucked on the end of a strawberry.

Becca thought about Liz for a moment and wondered why she might give Nikki conflicting reports. I just don’t trust her she thought with a shudder as she wondered if Liz had some ulterior motive behind her report.

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

Nikki and Becca became even closer over the next few weeks after they had had their talk when they were top side that day. Nikki shared much more of what was happening with the plans and the Freedom Fighters. She even came home with the groceries on occasion but Becca drew the line when Nikki told her that she would cook dinner for them one evening.

"Oh no ya don’t. I want to live to see another day!" Becca laughed as she gently shoved Nikki away from the stove with her hip.

"What, now you don’t trust me?" Nikki snorted back humorously as she decided that at least she could set the table without getting into trouble.

As the evenings gave way to nights, Nikki and Becca each retreated to their own beds. Laying there, separate but still together, they sometimes talked of what had filled their day. But most often they would just find themselves falling quickly into sleep. Becca soon found herself dreaming quite often of the warrior.

She would wake in the middle of the night, thoughts of Nikki filling her head. Some of these dreams were very strange and confusing at times too. She would wake with the distinct feeling that she had known Nikki before. That they had shared a life not unlike this one but that somehow, they were like different people.

She did love the warrior, she knew that but these dreams… some of them were taking on an entirely different aspect lately.

She found herself with images of Nikki holding her close. Their arms wrapped tightly around each other as they lay on a blanket in the woods. Then Nikki’s lips slowly moving over her own, parting them to explore further with her tongue. Hearts racing, blood pounding as the kiss became more intense. Then strong hands reaching down to gently run up her body, trailing up the smooth skin of Becca’s thighs. Then higher yet to trace idle patterns over her stomach, sending involuntary shudders through her body. Then slowly drifting down once more…

Dang Becca, get a grip, will ya! She mused as she shook the images from her mind after waking to the sound of her own moaning, her heart pounding like it was going to come out of her chest.

Looking over to the warrior as she slept in her own bed, Becca heard a low, soft moan escape from that side of the room and wondered briefly if Nikki was having the same dreams. She decided with a grin, that she probably shouldn’t ask the dark headed woman about that.

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

A few weeks later as they were getting ready for bed one evening, Becca’s mind having been on Liz all day after training with her earlier, she decided that she would ask Nikki more about her.

"So, are the two of you very close?" Becca blurted out from her perch under her covers as Nikki walked into the bedroom after having come from brushing her teeth.

Damn, that didn’t come out right. Just be calm and ask nice, Becca. She reminded herself of how she had practiced this conversation over and over the past few days.

"Huh?" Nikki looked at her quizzically.

"I mean, Liz. Are the two of you very close?" releasing the breath she didn’t even know she was holding and relieved that she finally got the words out without making it sound like an accusation this time.

"Um, yea, I guess. She’s one of my trusted lieutenants here at the command center." Nikki said absently as she reached down to grab the bottom of her leather tunic, then began pulling it up and over her head.

Becca felt a flush grow over her face and hoped that the dim light entering into the room from the small night light in the hall would hide her eyes as she granted them free travel over the beautiful and powerful body of the warrior. Time slowed until it felt as if it had stopped completely. Becca’s own heart beat was the only thing moving at this point. Her concentration and focus on only one thing. Her desire intent on it’s own need for the warrior.

Becca’s eyes took in every movement that the beautiful woman made. Strong arms crossed to grab the bottom of the leather tunic then stretching slowly upwards as it was pulled over rippled stomach muscles and ribs. Long, dark hair spilling over shoulders as it too was drawn into the dance. The taut muscles in Nikki’s back and shoulders flexed as a slight twist of leather clad hips aided in the release of the tight clothing from her body. Becca could see the blood pulsing in Nikki’s veins just under strong neck muscles as the fabric was raised higher to finally be pulled free over firm breasts.

Exhale.

Flicking easily the piece of leather from her hands to a waiting chair, Nikki reached down again with long, supple fingers to unhook the leather pants that she wore. Then pulling slowly down over smooth, rounded hips. Wiggling slightly, shifting her weight from one foot to the other as the fabric slipped over the sweet, sensual curve to continue farther down. Slowly uncovering powerful thighs as she bent lower still to slide the fine leather down over flexed calf muscles until she could slip them finally off her bare feet.

Inhale.

Nikki’s body was perfect, Becca thought as her eyes moved slowly over every well formed muscle and curve of the warrior’s. Becca’s breathing, having returned to her finally moved in unison as Nikki’s breasts lifted and settled with each breath, her mind spinning to thoughts of how they would feel in her hands, on her lips…

She couldn’t explain the emotions she was beginning to feel towards Nikki lately, all she knew was that they felt good. Felt right, somehow familiar in a strange way. She felt herself wanting to be with Nikki. Needing to hold her, to touch her, to kiss her and… more.

She wanted to hear that moan again.

Nikki was not one for modesty and had never given a thought as to how her naked body might be affecting the young woman with her. Never, that was until she looked over at the young woman who was now watching her very intently.

Shaking the thoughts from her mind for a moment, Becca once again returned to their conversation about Liz.

"That’s not really what I mean. Are the two of you, well… um, lovers?" Becca stammered, not sure she really wanted to know the answer. Not now anyway.

"You seem to ask that about a lot of the people I know." Nikki chuckled a little as she turned to face the young woman more directly. After seeing the younger woman blushing, even in the hidden corner of her cot, Nikki suddenly realized that this was more then just an innocent "Gee, are you two sleeping together" kinda question.

"I don’t mean to intrude, I’m sorry, just forget it okay." Becca said as she moved farther under her covers hoping to hide her red face.

Slipping a T-shirt over her head and letting it slip down past her shoulders, Nikki walked the few paces needed to sit on the edge of Becca’s bed. "What is it that you really want to know Becca?" She said softly, placing her hand gently on Becca’s blanket covered thigh.

"I’m not sure I know what you mean? Just forget I said anything." Becca replied even as the questions began to pour into her head. She didn’t really want Nikki to forget it, no… she wanted much more she realized now.

She could feel the heat from Nikki’s hand as it warmed her leg and sent her pulse pounding straight to other areas of her body. God I want her to hold me. To kiss me. Why doesn’t she just reach down here and kiss me, damn it! Becca thought even when she felt the heat grow intense over her now very reddened face.

 

"You want to know if I have any lovers right now. Right?" the soft voice brought Becca out of her personal debate.

"Uh huh." Is all Becca could say before her voice clutched in her throat. That was indeed one of the things she had been wondering about the warrior.

"Well the answer is kinda difficult and simple all at the same time and I don’t want to sound cryptic, so let me see if I can explain." Nikki said as her thumb now absently began a slow, gentle motion up and down over Becca’s thigh. "No. I don’t have anyone that I would call a lover right now. In fact, I’ve never really taken on lovers per say. I’m a bit of a loner in case you haven’t guessed that already." Nikki said as a sad grin flashed quickly over her face. "But I also don’t stop myself from enjoying the company of people if I feel a… connection with them." Nikki said, waiting for the reaction in Becca’s eyes before she began to breathe again.

Where is this going, why she is asking me all this? Nikki wondered, then realized that her hand was absently rubbing Becca’s thigh of its seemingly own free will. Hum, I wonder where I’m going with this.

"And do you feel a… a connection with me?" Becca whispered as she allowed her eyes to slowly move up to meet those of the woman sitting next to her.

At the sound of those few words, Nikki’s hand stopped moving.

Inhale.

Not that she hadn’t fantasized about what it would feel like to make love with the young woman, she was after all very beautiful. But she was a bit surprised to think that Becca had the same thoughts. After they had first met, Nikki would find herself having sensual thoughts involving the younger woman quite often. About how good she would feel in Nikki’s arms, how her lips would feel as Nikki explored them with her tongue. How the younger woman would taste and how she would react to the touches that Nikki knew would send her over the edge.

But lately… things were different. She felt different about Becca.

With her senses beginning to spin out of control, all the things she had been feeling towards Becca began to come to the surface, crashing into her like a train. She realized that she had indeed begun to feel more then just a friendship or even just a sexual desire for the young woman. That she had begun to develop emotions and feelings far beyond that with the young woman. My god, when did that happen? Nikki’s heart began to pound as the emotions filled her. Is this love?

Exhale.

As Becca’s eyes tried to read into the soul of her companion she felt a shudder move through her. Closing her eyes tightly against the rejection she knew was about to hit her, her heart collapsing as it felt the strain of her emotions. Hot tears slowly escaped to run down reddened cheeks.

Then gradually she felt the fine hairs around her forehead move as the sweet warm breath of her desire moved gently closer.

The kiss began slowly as their lips met for the first time.

Barely perceivable at first, just a whisper of motion.

Of touch.

Of love.

With one hand smoothly gliding up to gently hold the tender face in front of her, Nikki’s arm slid under her warm body to wrap around the young woman as she pulled herself into Becca, their lips still connected in a tentative embrace.

Emotions burst in Nikki’s mind like a flare as their kiss deepened. The empty loneliness of her life was being filled now with thoughts of Becca. She felt her heart explode with the intense feelings that she was so unaccustomed to as she slowly pulled away from the kiss to catch her now rapid breathing.

Dark blue eyes meeting pale green, not like it was the first time but rather as a long familiar sensation. A remembrance of something so long ago yet fresh and new at the same time.

A small tear traveled down her soft cheek as Becca reluctantly released Nikki from the kiss. Her own emotions spilling out uncontrollably. She had never been in love before but instinctively knew that this was how it should feel. This is the only way it should feel, like finding something precious you have lost and now found. She felt like she had found her home. Again.

Nikki’s lips met the tear on Becca’s face, claiming it with the same love that it was given. Then moving those same lips slowly across the soft face before her, she lightly felt the silkiness of Becca’s cheeks as they moved smoothly over her face. Kissing her closed eye lids gently then brushing her lips across the soft hair at Becca’s temples, she breathed in deeply the scent of this amazing woman before moving closer towards waiting lips once more.

Slowly pulling back the blankets that separated them, Nikki was surprised to find bare skin underneath. And glad at the same time. Her hands began to roam slowly over the tender flesh of Becca’s shoulder and back in an exploration as the passion built in Nikki. Pulling Becca into her arms tighter, not wanting to let go. Needing her warmth close to the heart that was now pounding in her own desire for Becca.

Gently letting finger tips move down a smooth arm, just barely brush against the side of a full breast, Nikki felt, more then heard the breath catch in Becca’s throat. Unable and unwilling to stop her desire for this young woman, Nikki had to remind herself to move slowly. To let Becca decide the pace. And to relish in every breath, every moan and shudder of her young lover.

After the initial shock of finally having her dreams come true, Becca’s hands began to move tentatively over the strong woman that held her. Reaching down slowly with both hands, Becca gently pulled the shirt up Nikki’s back. Feeling the flinches of muscles as her hands traced slowly upwards. She needed to feel every inch of this woman next to her. She finally pulled the shirt over the dark head and sunk into the warm that now pressed against her. Touching and feeling every ripple of muscle as her fingers traveled down over strong shoulders and muscled back. She let her hands come to rest in the gentle curve of Nikki’s lower back as she felt a shudder move through those same muscles. With a slight pressure of her hands, she drew the warrior gently up until she was resting atop of her own body, separating her legs slightly, she allowed Nikki’s knee to slip between her own. Tangling her own legs with more powerful ones.

The feelings of their bodies pressed together were like something remembered more then something new. They moved as one.

Nikki’s mind raced in the sensations of warmth and pleasure that their bodies were enveloped in. A quiet smiled formed over her face as she let Becca pick up the pace.

Becca’s kisses became more insistent to keep pace with her breathing. Then a low soft moan escaped past fevered lips as she felt Nikki’s hands move gently up to take one breast in a loving embrace. Strong thumbs gliding over now hardened flesh, Becca’s mind raced as the powerful new feelings threatened to over take her. The passion of the moment and the love she felt for Nikki was so overwhelming, she felt as if she were loosing control.

Thoughts raced in Becca’s mind suddenly to the fact that she had never made love with anyone before and now the fear of making a mistake crept insistently into her mind. She didn’t want to disappoint Nikki but only wanted to please her.

"Nikki," Becca whispered through her now rapid breathing, "I don’t want to disappoint you."

Nikki’s own mind raced in astonishment to what Becca meant by that. Bringing her lips slowly away from a soft ear lobe, "Why would you think you could disappoint me?" punctuating her sentence with another kiss.

"I… I have never been with anyone before." Becca stammered as she felt her face flush.

"Do you love me?" came the low smooth voice on the lips of a smile.

"Oh yes. I do love you Nikki." Becca breathed heavily in a whispered voice as another kiss moved over her ear.

"Then you could never disappoint me." Nikki whispered back as she brought her hands up to gently cup the face before her. Looking into brilliant green eyes, Nikki leaned in to kiss the soft lips waiting for her.

"I love you too Becca." Nikki said as their lips met once more, the words feeling good on her lips.

"Teach me." almost to low to be heard.

A flash of memory passed over Nikki’s eyes as she lowered herself down to take the tender flesh of Becca’s collar bone gently between her lips. Then lower still.

Experienced fingers and lips began a dance down Becca’s body, slow and smooth. Feeling the passion build in her new lover as her muscles flinched in reaction to Nikki’s kisses and gentle sucking.

Becca’s own hands slid up over powerful back muscles and sides as her lover slowly moved down over her body. She could feel Nikki’s breath whispering over her body as it caught and held for a moment when she slipped up to grasp a handful of hair, twining it slowly and gently around her fingers.

Fingers gripping dark hair now, pulling in hard as yet another moan escaped. Her back arched now as the feeling in her body began a somehow familiar release. Becca held her lover tight as the wave crashed over her.

Sliding slowly up the now relaxed body of her lover, Nikki placed small kisses in her path until she reached Becca’s face. Finally looking down into green eyes as they fluttered open once more to revel an explosion of love.

"I love you Nikki.’ with shallow breath as she leaned up to kiss the woman above her.

"Mmm, that’s all I need to hear. Forever."

Nipping gently at Nikki’s throat, Becca began her own attack as she slid around from under the warm body above her.

"Ah, Becca… I love you" Nikki’s own voice so low and deep now as to be almost a growl as her breath caught in her throat.

"And that’s all I ever need to hear." Came the reply punctuated with another kiss as she moved lower still.

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

The passion and love they shared with each other that evening sealed their destiny together like no other event ever could.

They were home, finally.

 

 

 

Chapter 8

"So, what is about Nikki that has you so freaked out Becca?" Scott, the training master asked one day as Becca was taking a swipe at his head with her Bo.

"Ugh, I’m.. not.. sure.. I know.. what you’re.. talking about.. Scott." The very out of breath Becca replied as her Bo came crashing down into the thick cushioned mat mighty close to his toes.

"Well," spinning out of the way, "it’s just that lately…" another spin, "you seem to be distracted, ugh…" the breath suddenly leaving him in a gasp as the tip of a very stiff Bo hit it’s mark right in the center of his stomach.

"Oh my god. Are you alright? I’m so sorry." Becca replied as she rushed to kneel down beside the poor man who was now clutching at his gut and trying to catch his breath.

"No, no, it’s… okay. Like I said though, you seem to be distracted lately." The master replied, finally gaining some composer as he sat upright.

"I’m sorry. You’re right though, I have been a bit distracted lately." Becca answered with a smile as they both moved off the mat and to safer quarters near the side wall of the training area.

Letting her body slip down the wall and coming to rest with one knee bent up, draping one hand over it, the smile still evident on her face. Taking a long drink of cool water from her bottle, Becca looked over at her trainer and friend, trying to form some thoughts together. Scott was a very large man, almost as large as John, Becca thought. He was older though, maybe around 45 or so with a full grizzly looking beard and as many scars and wrinkles on his face that made it look closer to looking like a road map. He was a good friend to Becca though, always willing to talk to her and give advice in his gruffly, friendly way. And she was grateful for that since she didn’t know many people here other then Liz and Nikki.

"You sure you’re okay Scott?" concerned green eyes evaluating him for any damage.

"Yea, I’m good. You’re getting pretty good at that thing little one. Looks like I’m gonna have to take it up a level with you from now on." He said as a smile broke over his face.

"And stop saying your sorry all the time, will ya! If yer gonna hit someone, ya better mean it." a wider smile pulling up the corners of his mouth.

"Well, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you, a big man like yourself and all." Becca’s eyes taking on a side ways glint knowing that Scott wouldn’t stand for that kind of talk.

"Umph, go on now, ya just took me by surprise is all. Wasn’t expecting that from such a little girl like you." His own eyes glinting now as he teased her and they bantered back and forth.

"But you have been distracted, ya know." The big man pondered as he looked over the young blond seated next to him.

"Yea, well… it’s just that I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. Um, Nikki and I, well… we have, um…" her brain trying to find just the right words.

Scott, smiling down at his friend, "Don’t ya worry about it Becca, ya don’t have to say a word, I can see it in your eyes."

"Huh?" came the only response Becca could muster at the moment.

"Hey, I’ve known Nikki just about as long as anyone ‘round these parts, little one. In fact, I was a bit surprised anyone could break through that armor of hers, if ya know what I mean." Scott said as his arm took over Becca’s shoulder, giving it a big squeeze.

"Um, no Scott, I’m not sure I do know what you mean." Becca looked uncomfortable for a moment, not sure that her relationship with Nikki was something that she should reveal.

"Hey, like I said, I can see it in your eyes little one." With a wink and a smile, "And anyway, if someone deserves someone as special as you, it would be Nikki. She’s good people, ya know what I mean."

Relief spreading over her face now, Becca looked over at her trainer, "Yea well, I think that might just be the other way around." Her own smile becoming evident on her face again as she thought of her lover.

"Yea, ya might just be right there little one, you both deserve each other. But I sure am glad that she found it with you." Scott said as he gave Becca’s shoulders another hug.

"So, do you think it will be a problem around here? I mean, the fact that Nikki and I are… together?" Becca smiled as she thought of how nice it was to finally tell someone. Her face beginning to flush as her mind drifted to the love she felt for Nikki.

"Nah, people ‘round here know about Nikki. Well, they know what kinda people she goes after that is, and what types of ones she don’t like. Hehe, if ya know what I mean." Scott gave Becca a wink.

"Well, no. I really don’t know what you mean." Becca replied again as her mind began to ponder what he meant by "go after".

"Hum, let’s see if I can explain this to such a sweet young thing such as yourself… hehe." Scott teased her as he saw her face turning another shade of pink.

"Everyone knows that Nikki prefers, shall we say… the company of other woman. And those that don’t know it, well… they soon do. She’s got a wicked right hook, ya know." Scott rubbed his own jaw out of instinct as he continued, "But what’s most surprising is that she done took someone on full time, if ya know what I mean. She ain’t one for keepin’ people ‘round much. Likes her privacy too much if ya ask me. Not good for the soul."

"Yea, I do know. It’s weird though, me and her I mean. It’s like we somehow have known each other all our lives in some strange way." Becca said as she thought of the feelings of familiarity she felt with Nikki.

Scott just looked down at his friend and smiled, "Yea, it’s like that with some people little one. Like you’ve passed through many lives together or somethin’. Me and the Mrs. is like that. First time I saw her, I knew she was the one for me. Good thing she thought the same ‘bout me."

Becca’s mind took all this in as she wondered if Nikki felt the same about her.

"Hey, we better get outta here before it gets too late. Then we’ll have everyone talking behind our backs." Scott said as he pulled Becca up from her perch on the mat.

"Scott, you’re goofy as all hell, if ya know what I mean." She teased him, trying to imitate his voice and doing a pretty good job of it, then reaching down to gather her bag up, then headed towards the door with Scott.

Scott reached for the door just as it swung open and almost knocked him right in the head. Pulling back so he didn’t get hit, he looked up with an ugly grin at the tall brunette as she strutted through the door and stopped in front of them.

"Ooh Becca, you’re not leaving already, are you? I was hoping for a chance to play with you for a little while." Liz said as she let her eyes travel over the petite blondes form and completely disregarding the trainers presence.

"Um, yea, well… I was just leaving. Scott and I had a good workout and I’m bushed." Becca replied as her eyes lowered to look at something that became suddenly very important on the mat by the door.

Scott watched as Becca became more uncomfortable standing there with Liz’s eyes scanning her like that. His own eyes squinting a little in disgust as they looked at the way Liz was eyeing Becca, kinda like the panther and the prey.

"Oh, come on now sweetie, we can play for a little while, can’t we?" Liz emphasized her words with her hand grasping onto Becca’s wrist.

"She said no." Scott interrupted as he placed his big meaty hand onto Liz’s wrist and gripped tightly.

"I don’t recall asking you." She spat out as she shot him an evil glare.

"Well then, ya didn’t have to. Becca already said no, I was just repeating it a little louder so’s you could hear it, cause it seems ya didn’t hear it the first time, is all." His voice becoming low and insistent as he gripped Liz’s wrist a bit tighter until she let go of Becca.

Shaking off her impulse to hit the man, Liz instead turned and smiled at Becca, "Well, perhaps another time then sweetie, when you’re alone." Then strutted on past them and into the training yard.

"You okay there little one?" Scott asked as he looked down to the now trembling form of his friend. Then slipped a reassuring arm over her shoulders as they made their way down the hall.

"Yea, I’m good. I just get crazy when she does that sometimes. Give me the creeps, ya know." She said even as another shiver ran down her spine.

"She does that a lot, does she? I mean the way she looks at you like that." Scott inquired, becoming a bit concerned for his friend. He knew that Liz was no one to be trifled with, she had a mean streak a mile long and could be very dangerous if you were on the wrong end of that anger of hers.

"Well… she has been getting a bit more insistent lately. I just don’t know what she wants from me?" Becca asked rhetorically as she contemplated the possibilities. An involuntary shiver running down her spine before she continued. "I know that her and Nikki are close, so I try to be friends with her, but sometimes she doesn’t make that very easy."

"Ain’t hard to figure out what she wants from you Becca." Scott replied, knowing full well from the look in that warrior’s eyes, just what she was after with Becca. "But, if ya ask me little one, she ain’t no real friend. I mean, seems to me that she should be one of the first to have figured out about you and Nikki and that alone should of made her want to respect that and to leave you alone."

"Yea, you would think. But it seems that she has just gotten even more insistent lately. Maybe I’m just imagining something that isn’t there. I mean, maybe she just wants to be friends with me because Nikki and I are so close."

"Hum, well that’s a strange way to become friends with someone, if ya know what I mean." The big man thought about that for a moment then decided that Becca was way too nice for her own good sometimes.

"Well, ya can tell me to mind my own business if you want but what does Nikki say about the way that girl talks to you like that?" Scott asked, concern for both the women in his voice.

"Oh, I wouldn’t bother her with something like this. She has enough things to think about without worrying about me not being able to take care of myself." Becca’s said as she began to wonder just what Nikki might do if she knew how Liz looked at her.

"Well, if ya ask me. And I know ya didn’t but I’m telling ya anyway, if I was Nikki, I’d want to know. And anyway little one, don’t ya think that yer the thing most on Nikki’s mind!" giving Becca’s shoulders another squeeze and a smile.

Becca thought about this for a moment, hoping that she was the thing most on Nikki’s mind. A smile formed over her face now as the heat rose again in her body at just the thought of her lover.

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

Later that evening, Becca considered telling Nikki about what had happened with Liz as she slipped under the covers of the bed they shared, the small cot that she had slept in when they first arrived now safely tucked away in an unused portion of a closet.

As if on cue, Nikki walked into the room dressed in only a short black silk robe that looked incredible on the tall, dark headed woman. The robe was untied and falling slightly open as Nikki walked closer to the bed. Mmm, nope. I think I’ll tell her some other time. Right now, I have something much more important on my mind. Becca mused as she watched Nikki slip the robe from her shoulders and fling it haphazardly over the waiting chair in the corner, then drawing back the covers to slide up next to her lover.

Slipping her hands under the soft fabric that held close to Becca’s body, Nikki could feel the muscles tense and then relax as she slid over toned flesh. Slowly pulling the bottom of the shirt upwards, then slipping the intrusive barrier over the blonde’s head.

"There, that’s much better." Nikki whispered into the soft ear that she had her lips slowly moving over.

"Mmm, yes, it is." A rather raspy voice echoed back.

Slowly drawing her hands down now over the smooth bare flesh, Nikki took her time as she let her thumbs drift over the very sensitive points at the tips of Becca’s breasts.

A small gasp of air escaped Becca’s throat as her lover drew her tongue gently over her ear, then down the corded neck that she held in one hand.

"Oh my god, I can’t believe you can make my body feel this way. Where did you learn how to do this? No wait, I don’t want to know. I just want to enjoy it." Becca almost panted as another round of shivers ran down her spine.

Nikki’s hands moved in unison down the slight form of her lover, relishing every shudder of muscle as they slid farther to finally slip under the band of Becca’s panties.

Another moan.

"Mmm, I could live on that sound I think." Nikki smiled to her partner as she continued to enjoy the pleasurable sensations she knew she was causing in Becca.

Slowly. Very slowly Nikki slipped her fingers under the waist band and began drawing it down over hips that were now pushing up to meet her hands.

Becca’s own hands were slipping through long dark hair, to suddenly grasp a handful of it as Nikki slid her fingers up her inner thighs.

"Please…" the air rushing into her lungs in ever faster gasps.

Knowing that Becca loved this teasing as much as she did, Nikki ignored the pleading and instead gently let her fingers drift over the fine, blond hairs that covered Becca’s mound. Just a little, just enough to give Becca a taste of what was to come. Then moving them down once more over her lovers thighs. With her hands slipping lower, Nikki bent her head down to take another kiss from the open lips waiting for her.

Kissing her way down Becca’s throat, then drawing her tongue slowly over a rapidly moving collar bone to move farther down still. Barely touching a firm nipple with her tongue, to be rewarded with another gasp and moan, Nikki quickly took the excited item into her mouth past her teeth. Nikki’s own desire for her lover growing quickly now as Becca pushed her chest higher to meet the tormenting touch.

As Nikki took delicious care in teasing her partner she brought out desires in the younger woman that she had never felt before.

"Please Nikki, you’re driving me crazy." Becca whispered with labored breath.

"Please what?" Nikki tormented, a smirk very visible on her face as she continued to draw Becca’s nipple in and out past her barely open teeth.

Another handful of dark hair, wrapped tightly around a fist, told Nikki that she couldn’t tease Becca very much longer.

Smiling, Nikki began her downward track, lips and tongue dancing over very sensitive flesh until she found her goal. Her long fingers moving slowly upwards, past knee caps and thighs to join her mouth at the center of Becca’s desire.

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

Slipping a long arm around her lover, Nikki pulled the woman in closer. Becca’s head was now resting in the hollow of Nikki’s bare shoulder as she draped an arm lazily over a very muscled stomach.

"I love you Becca." Nikki whispered with a quiet rush of air, the only thing now moving in the room.

Nikki could feel the smile form over the young woman’s face as she held her close before they both slowly dropped off to sleep.

Chapter 9

"So, how did your training go yesterday, anything interesting happen?" Nikki inquired casually of Becca as she walked into the kitchen after having changed into her usual leather top and tight leather pants.

"Um, well." Becca started hesitantly, then continued, "Scott said I was getting pretty good with my Bo and that he would have to step up my training to the next level." Becca replied as she continued to fix their morning meal.

She had decided that telling Nikki about the incident with Liz the preceding day was probably not worth the aggravation. I mean, I shouldn’t expect Nikki to fight all my battles for me. She has enough things to worry about without having to worry about some stupid thing like Liz getting too friendly with me. And anyway, I should be able to handle this on my own. Becca justified to herself.

"Hey, that’s great. I bet you gave him a run for his money, didn’t ya?" beaming proudly now at her young lover as she sipped on the coffee that Becca had given her.

"Yea, you should have seen the look on his face when he ended up on his behind on the mat and trying to catch his breath." Becca laughed in good humor. She knew that she hadn’t really hurt the big man but it was great just to be able to knock him down after he had done it so many times to her while training.

"Are you going to be practicing with him again today?" Nikki asked quietly as she slid up behind her lover and slowly moved her hands under the soft fabric of her night shirt.

"Uh, not if you keep that up." Becca smiled as she felt the warm hands lift the bottom edge of her shirt then rise slowly up her sides.

"Hey, there is nothing wrong with a little cardiovascular warm up before training you know." Nikki snickered softly as her hands moved over to cup very firm breasts and her lips moved down over a very sensitive ear.

"Ooh, and you know how much I need that." Becca whispered as she leaned forward, reaching out her hands to lay on the top of the counter as Nikki pressed against her.

Sliding the night shirt over Becca’s head, Nikki now pressed her leather clad body fully against her lover. The warmth of the leather against the heated skin of her lover sent chills down Nikki’s stomach to settle between her legs.

The sound of the low growl coming from her lover entered into Becca’s ear as she felt Nikki reach down over her hips then slide slowly between her legs to part them slightly.

"Oh.. my.. god.. Nikki." the almost breathless voice escaped as Becca pushed back against the heated leather, the rush of pleasure washing over her.

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

"So, as I was saying… are you going to be working out with Scott again today?" Nikki inquired as she readjusted her leathers and helped her partner to replace the top she had removed over an hour ago.

"Um, no, I don’t think so. I didn’t really have anything planned for today." Softly kissing Nikki as she fastened the top button of her jeans.

"Good, then would you like to come with me today? I have a meeting in a little while pertaining to some plans I’m working on." Nikki said as she thought about how much Becca’s insight had been of real value to her lately when she was involved in meetings.

Nikki usually went into meetings with only one thing on her mind. To direct and order the people around her to comply with her vision of how things would be done. But with Becca there, it seemed that there were many more ideas shared and exchanged and even Nikki had to admit that Becca had a keen sense of things and people. She was willing to be open to others ideas more and almost forced Nikki into hearing them. For this, Nikki was grateful.

"Yea, that sounds like a good idea. Let me just finish getting my clothes on and we can go." Becca said as she smiled wickedly at her lover.

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

"What have you found out today?" Nikki asked as her 1st Lieutenant and Liz walked into the map room.

"Well, just as we had heard, the reformers are getting ready for an attack at Solstice. We found out that they plan to try and infiltrate our defenses near Cheyenne mountain on Solstice eve." he returned.

Over the last week or so, Liz had given up trying to tell Nikki that there would be no attack and instead had begun helping in the plans for the battle. She had admitted that her information had been faulty and had told Nikki that the scout who had informed her of this had been punished.

"Well, let’s just see about that, shall we." Nikki replied with a very sinister smirk that left even Liz a bit shaken.

"I can’t believe that they would attack us at that time. I mean, it’s their sacred time of year too." Becca interjected.

"Yea, just when they think we won’t be looking. Listen Becca, these people are ruthless in their quest for control. They don’t really care about the beliefs of their own people much less ours, it’s just another way to control them. Most of man’s religions have always been about control, even before the reformers." Nikki added as she looked into the still somewhat innocent eyes of her lover.

"But why now, I mean even beyond the fact that most people will be celebrating their religious beliefs, it’s the coldest time of year. Why attack when there is so much snow and freezing temperatures out?" Becca inquired.

"Exactly, they think that the snow and cold will aid them in their attack. They know that they are much better equipped for the cold then we are and they hope that because of that, it will be a short yet decisive battle in their favor." Liz returned the answer, sneaking a lurid glance over to Becca.

"But I’ve got news for ‘em, we’ll be prepared for them when they get here. We’ve been having everyone stock up on warm clothing and firewood, more then normal for this time of year. We also have been getting stocked up on weapons and I’ve sent for extra troops to join us. I sent word to John to meet us at the north gate of town. When he gets here with his force, we will be able to overwhelm the Guard and win the battle." Nikki said as she gathered her maps and left the room with the Lieutenant.

When Nikki told Liz that she wanted John to meet her at the north gate, Becca cocked her head and gave a sideways glance in her direction. That wasn’t what Nikki had told her just last night. She’s up to something, I just don’t know what it is. Becca thought as she looked down at the one remaining map.

Once the room was empty all except Liz and herself, Becca began to feel a tingling down her spine. She didn’t like being in the same room alone with Liz anymore. It made her very nervous. She didn’t know what this woman was up to but she couldn’t sit by any longer without trying to find out.

As she worked through her own fear of being with this woman, she was also trying to figure out a way to find out what she was up to.

"I’ll be right back, just have to um… you know." Becca said as she pointed and walked to the bathroom on the other side of the room. Liz nodded but barely looked up from the map that she was studying as the door closed with a click.

Looking over to be sure that Becca had closed the door tight, Liz quickly grabbed the phone and began dialing.

"Yea, it’s me. Looks like they are still having that asshole John and his troops come in on the north side. Are you going to be ready?" Liz whispered into the phone.

"Yea, we’ll be ready. I just gotta ask you one thing Liz, why the hell are you doing this? I thought that Nikki bitch was your friend." Came the reply from the other end.

"Yea, yea." The terse remark came back. "You guys just offer better pay. And anyway, she found herself a new friend."

"Hum, and I thought that all you mercenaries cared about was the money." The male voice sounded with a snicker, then continued, "By the way, your money will be left at that little diner on the eastside of town. Remember, you get half now and the other half after we take that bitch out, ya got it. So just don’t fuck up."

The phone clicked dead just as the bathroom door opened with a soft squeak. Quickly replacing the receiver in its cradle, Liz looked up to see Becca standing there, just watching her.

Not sure how much, if anything Becca might have heard, Liz quickly decided to play it off. The look in her eyes changed as they began to wander unabashed over the young woman as she moved closer.

"So, you and Nikki been having fun?" Liz inquired as Becca looked up to see her staring at her.

"What do you mean?" Becca answered, becoming uncomfortable being left alone with Liz. After yesterday, Becca wasn’t sure now that she could handle this woman on her own. She was a very powerful warrior as Becca had witnessed in their battle practice and also knew that she was very strong and ruthless. She had never trusted this woman and now after over hearing Liz on the phone, all Becca wanted to do was get the hell out of there. Quickly.

"It’s just that I noticed that you and Nikki seem to be, shall we say, getting rather close lately."

"How Nikki and I feel about each other is none of your business Liz." Becca replied steadily as she headed towards the door, the last remaining map in her hands.

"Wait, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable Becca. I was just wondering how close the two of you had become. Just wondering if there was any room in your life for any more playmates." Liz said sarcastically as she closed the distance between her and Becca.

"I have no idea what you’re talking about Liz and I would appreciate it if you would just stop talking about me and Nikki. Now, get out of my way." Becca said as coolly as she could when Liz moved between her and the door. She didn’t like this woman at all now and was becoming more and more nervous but didn’t want to show Liz her fear and apprehension. She also didn’t want to let on to Liz that she knew of her deceptive plans.

"It’s just that I find you kind of cute and what the hell, you can never have enough fun, you know what I mean?" Liz cooed as she leaned in closer to Becca.

"No Liz, I don’t know what you mean. Listen, I’m not interested, got it." Becca trying to sound as confident as she could. All she really wanted was to get away from this woman. She felt her heart beginning to pound harder as the sudden fight or flight feeling washed over her.

Reaching out her hand, Liz let her fingers slip through the soft hair surrounding Becca’s face, then reaching behind her head to quickly grab a handful of it. Holding her in her tight grasp, she roughly drew Becca’s face towards her own.

As the powerful woman’s hands pulled her forwards, Becca suddenly yelled, "Leave me alone! I heard what you are planning and Nikki is going to hear about it too!"

"Nikki isn’t going to hear about anything, you little bitch. And if your not going to give it to me, I’m just going to… take it. Then I’m going to get rid of you. Ya got that!" Their lips met in a forced kiss as Liz held Becca’s face in place, her lips crushing down onto those of the young woman’s.

As Becca moaned and struggled to push her away, Liz’s free hand came up to grip tightly the right breast of the frightened woman. "Don’t fight me Becca, just relax and enjoy. Nikki doesn’t have to be the only one here who can have some fun with you." Liz sneered as she continued to assault the woman.

Forcing her knee between Becca’s thighs then pushing up with it to press hard against the younger woman’s center. Her hand still firmly twined into blond hair as her lips and teeth began a downward motion.

Becca moaned out as the pain in her breast became excruciating when Liz ripped her shirt open and grabbed raw skin. As her body pressed hard against the wall next to the door, she tried to force her legs closed and twist out of the powerful warrior’s grip. The feeling of being over powered terrified her as she felt the panic wash over her mind, clouding her reactions for a moment.

Then remembering some of her training, Becca’s nails suddenly shot out and clawed down the reddening face of the warrior as she gripped Becca even tighter.

Feeling the pain and blood as it welled up on her face, Liz sneered at Becca, "So, ya like it rough, do ya. Well, lets just see how rough, I’m game if you are little bitch."

The hard slap across her face left Becca stunned for a moment as Liz pulled her hands behind her back and held them there in one strong grip of her own. Her knee pressed hard into Becca now as she clamped her free hand over the now screaming woman’s mouth.

"I can see why Nikki likes you now, she likes to play rough too." Liz spat out as her teeth dug into the tender flesh of Becca’s upper chest.

Pulling and twisting her body, Becca realized didn’t seem to stop but rather furthered Liz’s assault.

"Please stop Liz, you don’t really want to do this. You’re better then this." Becca pleaded, saying anything that would make this go away.

"Oh Becca, you don’t know me very well do you. I enjoy the challenge my pet." Liz’s voice was so cruel as her hand pushed down into torn jeans, sliding her fingers past the waist line of Becca’s panties.

Oh Nikki, please come back. Becca’s mind focused as she continued to twist away from the cruel hands that were attacking her.

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

Realizing that she had forgotten to take with her one of the maps that had been left on the table, Nikki headed back to the room. Beginning to speak when she opened the door, Nikki’s eyes spotted the groping form in front of her. Seeing the terror in Becca’s eyes, a blue hot flame shot from her own as she moved the short distance needed to claim her victim.

A strong hand reached out to grab the long brunette hair, twisting it quickly in her fist then yanking hard. Nikki pulled the startled Liz away from Becca only to send her sprawling to the floor hard. With one foot digging into the flesh of Liz’s chest, Nikki grabbed her hand and pulled upwards, bending it at the wrist.

"What in the hell do you think you are doing?" Nikki yelled as she pulled Becca in behind her protectively with her free hand.

"Hey, she wanted it. Don’t be so selfish, there’s enough to go around." Liz remarked as she tried to breathe and finding it difficult with Nikki’s boot pressed into her chest.

"Nikki, don’t. Please. No more violence for one day, okay." Becca pleaded.

Looking back to her lover, Nikki saw the pain in her eyes and just could not see herself causing any more.

Reluctantly, Nikki released the warrior from her grasp.

"I heard her. I heard her on the phone with the reformers Nikki." Becca said so softly that Nikki almost didn’t hear her.

Turning to her lover, "What did you say?"

Reaching her hand out to place it on Nikki’s strong arm, Becca continued, "I heard her give the plans to the reformers. She told them that John would be coming in on the Northgate."

Looking down at Liz in disbelief, Nikki reached out to roughly pull the woman from the floor.

"Get the fuck out of here before I.. kill.. you." The power and meaning behind her voice sent shivers down Liz’s back.

Standing there motionless for a moment, Liz looked over the pair as they watched her.

"I said get out! I don’t ever want to see you around here again." Nikki’s voice all but dripped with venom as she ushered Liz towards the door.

"You can’t get rid of me that easily Nikki! I’ll be back with a vengeance. And anyway, it’s too late to change any of your plans now, so I guess I win." Liz shouted as she felt herself being thrown roughly to the floor of the hallway.

Entering the great hallway behind her once trusted aide, Nikki saw guards quickly approaching the commotion they were making. "Take this trash and throw it out with the rest of the rubbish!"

Looking at each other for a moment, the guards pulled Liz up from the floor. Liz, struggling fiercely to get loose, forced the guards to bind her arms behind her back before dragging her down the hall.

"Give her food, water and warm clothing, then set her outside of the city gates. She will no longer be allowed the graces of our protection." Nikki said as she slowly closed the door that put her and Becca into privacy.

Heart pounding and with labored breath, she turned and held her arms open, inviting the young woman to enter her embrace.

"Are you alright Becca?" Nikki whispered softly, her hand moving through soft blond hair, gently brushing it from the tear streaked face of her lover.

"Yes. I’m fine. Now." Drawing her arms up and around the strong shoulders of Nikki, Becca’s tears flowed unhindered now as she felt the safe, warm embrace around her.

"Shh, it’s okay, I got ya now."

Then Nikki quietly asked her lover as she slowly stroked her hair. "Did she… hurt you?"

"No, she didn’t hurt me but I think she hurt you." Becca replied as the tears slowed and she looked into the sorrowful eyes of her protector.

"I knew you felt uncomfortable being left alone with her, I just didn’t think she would ever harm you like that. My mind has been on so much lately but that doesn’t give me a reason to have left you alone like that with her. I should have been here to protect you when you needed me."

"You can’t be everywhere Nikki, please don’t worry about that. It is me who you should be mad at, I should have been able to protect myself better then that. And as far as trusting her like that, well, we both did I guess. And I’m sure that your trust in her as one of your fighters was not misplaced. She was just acting out of jealousy and greed here, she loves you and I came between the two of you so she was going to take it out on you the only way she knew how. Please don’t be angry at yourself for not being here."

"She had no right to do that to you. And she never loved me. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word. It was never anything but sex between us. No, she turned on us for the money, pure and simple. But that didn’t give her the right to hurt you." Nikki replied.

Becca held her warrior tight as they both reflected on the events that had just shook them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale For The 21st Century 04/2001

Book 1: Civil War 04/2001

By: BJ O’Donnell

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2: The Great Battle At Solstice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

The bard leaned forward in her seat and watched her audience carefully for a moment before continuing her story, then taking a long sip of hot cider from her hand crafted mug, enjoying the steaming flavors of the warm apples and spices. The people gathered to hear her tale were enthralled with what she had been telling them of Becca and Nikki. Setting the mug down, she continued slowly again as she began to explain how the ancient religion of the past became the new religion for the future.

"With the reformers take over and the destruction of so many cities as well as roads and railroad systems, there had come a time when people were left to fend for themselves. Gone were the grocery and department stores that people had come to rely on. Gone too were so many of the doctors and all of the pharmacies. People had to learn to make their own clothing and to grow their own food in many places around the country, especially in the west far away from the more entrenched reformer areas of the country in the east and south. They learned to rely on folk remedies and herbs for their healing. They learned how to fend for themselves and to believe in what they could see and feel. They began to watch the seasons and to understand the true nature of things as they planted crops for their food and to trade with others.

The reformers had also taken away so many of the things that people held dear including the freedom of religion, that after many years, people began to revert back to some of the older religions. They needed something to believe in, something that would hold them together. They found themselves following the old paths, the ways of nature. There were still some elders in the small communities who believed in this old religion, people who had followed this path from before the reformers take over. People who had once been persecuted and some even killed for their beliefs. These people became the new healers and religious leaders.

The people began to understand the idea that all living things were a part of nature and that to understand nature was to understand oneself. To follow the path, one must understand the seasons and to be at one with all living creatures including the earth, as it was She who gave all life.

They began to once again feel the connection to Mother earth and followed the seasons in the rituals of old. They celebrated many of the ancient rituals like Beltane in spring and the Autumnal Equinox in the fall to celebrate the harvest. In the winter, as the reformers began the celebration of their god’s son’s birth, the free people began to celebrate the ancient ritual of Winter Solstice. The celebration of the sun’s rebirth. On the shortest day of the year, they celebrated the death of the old sun and the birth of the new or the birth of the new solar year. The time when the sun would gain in the sky with the promise of renewed warmth and the sunshine needed to aid in the growth of new crops.

And so it was that at that time of year, the coldest time when all people were celebrating their own beliefs that the reformers decided to attack…"

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

 

Chapter 2

As Solstice eve approached the preparations in the great mountain headquarters could be seen everywhere. Male and female warriors alike played out mock battles to hone their skills. The older towns folk helped by reinforcing the gates at the edge of town and by preparing more rounds of precious ammunition. Even the children of New Colorado Springs helped by readying the stock piles of food and firewood.

And Nikki of course trained with her troops as Becca oversaw the preparations in the hospital wards and infirmaries. Almost everything was in place for the great battle.

Almost.

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

"I don’t know what is keeping him." Nikki said as the lines of worry spread across her face.

"Don’t worry so much, we haven’t heard any bad news and you know what they say, no news is good news." Becca replied as she prepared a plate of food for them.

Becca too, was worried though. They hadn’t heard from John and the rest of the troops that Nikki had sent for and she was beginning to think that maybe they had been ambushed along the way. Now that Liz was aware that Nikki knew her deceptive plan, they feared that she had somehow found him first.

"Yea, your right. I just have a lot on my mind and would feel better knowing that everything was in place. Here, let me help you." Nikki said as she took the plate of food from Becca and brought it to the table.

Taking a bite of the stew that Becca had made, Nikki was glad for one thing, that at least she had Becca here, with her. She loved this woman more then her own life and she wanted to protect her just as much. But she worried that without the extra troops, they wouldn’t be able to hold out long if the full force of the Guard was to attack.

She had wanted to get Becca out of town, send her to a safer place but Becca wouldn’t hear of it. "No way am I leaving you, not now. Not after taking my whole life to find you." Nikki remembered Becca saying one evening as she discussed her plans to get the woman to safety. "If it is meant to be that we end here, then I’m going to be with you. We do this together." It was those words that Nikki felt pull at her heart now as she wondered where John was.

"What was the last report that we got?" Nikki asked as she shook off her thoughts and brought her focus back to the here and now.

"Well, the outpost on the eastern side has reported that there is a build up of about 100 well armed Guard troops. And the southern outpost reports the same thing. Looks like they are focusing on those two gates and have left the northern gate alone." Becca replied, a small smile forming at the corners of her mouth.

"At least we were prepared for this." Nikki replied quietly after hearing the latest news.

"The Guard have been making it look like they will be leaving the northern gate alone but that’s just a trick. That’s the gate I told Liz that John would be coming through. They must have extra troops out there just waiting for John to show up and then they will pounce. I just hope that they haven’t already gotten to him." Nikki pondered this thought then continued, "And I didn’t think that the traitor was going to turn out to be Liz. I trusted her, but with what she did to you, I’m not surprised any longer."

"You must not have trusted her that much or you would never have told her the lie." Becca said softly as she closed the distance between her and Nikki as she stood in front of her.

Placing her hand on the warrior’s shoulder, Becca pulled her into a quick hug before releasing her again. For that brief moment, Nikki could feel Becca’s heart beat steady through her shirt as her head rested on the younger woman’s chest and she wondered if she could just stay right there for the rest of her life.

"Yea, well at times like this, you can’t be too sure. And anyway, I had a heads up as to who the bad guy might be." Then quietly added, "Scott told me what happened after training that day. I am so sorry Becca. I should have never left you alone with her. I knew that she wasn’t to be trusted even then."

Holding her breath for a moment, Becca saw the deep pain in her lover’s eyes as one small tear threatened to brim over. Without further hesitation, Becca pulled her into her arms once again. Running her hand down over strong shoulders she could feel the tense muscles contract at her touch.

"Hey, there is no way that you could have known she would have done something like that. I never even suspected her of doing that. I love you Nikki and you saved me from what could have been worse, thank you." Becca whispered as she threaded her fingers gently through the raven hair of her lover. Nikki’s own arms now wrapped tightly around Becca’s waist, her ear firmly planted near her partner’s heart.

They held onto each other for what seemed like hours. Feeling and touching each others pain and forgiveness.

Finally pulling apart, their lips met as Becca leaned over her lover. "Okay now, where were we?" she smiled as the tension between them subsided.

"Oh yea, if John is not coming in on the northern side, where is he?" Becca questioned, glad that they could leave the past behind them now.

"That’s just it. He should have been here by now. I don’t know what’s keeping him and I’m getting worried." Nikki said as she pushed her plate of food away, no longer hungry then standing up next to Becca.

"I’m sure he will be here Nikki, hasn’t he always been there for you when you needed him." Becca said this more as a statement, not really looking for an answer.

"Yea, but anything could have happened to him. I’m going to be worried until he gets here. We can’t hold out too long without him and that makes me worry."

"Nikki, I want you to know that no matter what happens, I love you and am glad that I have had the chance to be with you." She said as she reached out her hand to slip it into Nikki’s, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

"Oh Becca. I can’t tell you how much you mean to me but that doesn’t change the fact that I may be the one to get you killed." Remorse filling her voice now as she thought again about how she could get the woman out to safety.

"Oh no you don’t. You can’t blame yourself for me being here. Remember, I was the one who practically forced you into letting me come along. I wouldn’t give up one minute I have had with you for anything. And quit sounding like this is our last night or something. We’ll make out alright. John and his troops are on their way as we speak, you’ll see." Becca said quietly as she looked deeply into the concerned eyes of her lover.

Moving in to hold Becca tightly in her arms, Nikki began to speak softly into the young woman’s ear.

"I love you Becca, and no matter what happens, I will never leave you. Not even death can separate us." Pausing now as her words sunk in to her own mind and realizing just how true they were as the niggling sensation of familiarity washed over her. "It has taken me my whole life to finally find what love is and I will not let you go."

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

They made love that night as if it might be the last time they see each other. Their kisses, deep with passion and love held them high above the turmoil of the battle before them. Their bodies mingled together in a place that only love could bring them. Finally, holding each other tightly in their arms, they fell asleep just before dawn.

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

The alarm broke the serenity of sleep with its piercing cry at the same time that the phone began to ring.

"Has it started?" Nikki yelled into the receiver as she held it to her ear with one hand and tried to pull her pants on with the other.

"Yes, the Guard have begun their assault on the eastern and southern gates. We are holding them for now and have called for more troops to be drawn from the northern gate to help." The voice on the other end replied breathlessly.

"No! It’s a trick. Don’t remove any troops from the northern gates, that’s what they are hoping for. I’m on my way."

Nikki hung up the phone and quickly finished getting dressed. Pulling her leather tunic down over her shoulders she slipped a small dagger between her breasts. Her leather pants fit tightly over her muscled legs as she pulled her boots up over her calves, adjusting them as she fit two more daggers into the sheathes at the tops. Then taking the Steyr GB-80 from it’s case on her dresser, Nikki slipped it into the holster at the small of her back and fastening the extra ammunition clips to her belt. Then tucking neatly into the provided sleeves on her belt, Nikki placed the two Kamas.

Slowly pulling the long duster on, she shifted her muscles until it fell neatly into place over her broad shoulders. Then looking deeply into the dark green eyes of her lover, Nikki took the sword that Becca held for her and slipped it into the sheath sewn into the back of her duster.

Nikki’s eyes began to glaze then as her focus mounted. Becca could only watch in awe as the warrior prepared herself for battle. She had never seen her lover dressed quite this way or focus with such intensity before. There was an air of power and control that fell over the warrior with each piece of clothing she put on. A sudden shiver ran through Becca then as she gazed at her lover and wondered for a moment at how the great warrior could be so gentle one moment yet so fierce the next. She knew now why so many people followed this woman into battle. Why so many would give their lives to fight along side of her.

Becca knew that she too would give her own life if it meant helping this powerful woman in the quest for freedom. She loved Nikki with all her heart and soul and would die next to her if needed.

Finally realizing that she also needed to get ready, Becca quickly pulled on her own clothes, then followed Nikki out into the great hall. There were people running everywhere. The sound of the alarm was echoing against the walls as they headed down towards the war room.

"Turn off that damned alarm. I think we all know what is happening by now." Nikki commanded as she entered the room.

With the alarm finally silenced, Nikki looked at the reports already coming in. Grabbing a phone she spoke, "Where do we stand on the northern gate?"

"No attack there yet but we are having problems on the eastern and southern sides. Our troops are out manned and out gunned. What do you want us to do?" Came the desperate reply.

"I’m sending more troops that way, just hold on. I want you to keep your eyes on the northern gate and be prepared. I’ll be right there."

Hanging up the phone, Nikki looked over at Becca. She knew that this might be the last time they see each other and she wished it didn’t have to be in a room filled with people.

"Becca, they could probably use your help in the infirmary." She knew that it was the safest place in the entire encampment and was at least glad to know that Becca would be safe.

"Yes, of course." Becca replied quickly. She didn’t want to leave Nikki but knew that she was needed elsewhere.

Turning to leave, she quickly turned back and ran into Nikki’s outstretched arms. Holding each other tightly, they kissed one last time before pulling away.

"I love you Nikki, please come back to me." Becca whispered as she clutched the neck of her lover.

"Even in death Becca, I will never leave you. I love you." Nikki said as she led her lover out the door.

Chapter 3

Nikki looked over the top of the hill through binoculars as the Guard approached the northern gate from their hiding place just over the hill.

The Guard had sent most of their men to both the eastern and southern gates hoping to draw the rest of the Fighters away from the northern end just as Nikki had thought. That would leave it without defenses and they would be able to slip in and take control of the city. Or so they thought.

Nikki had let them believe that as she pulled most of the troops out of view from the gate. They all stood quiet and ready just over the hill on the inside of the walls to the city.

As the Guard approached cautiously, Nikki waited until they were well within the city walls before she gave the order to attack. She wanted to trap them just as they had hoped to trap the Fighters.

The men of the Guard battalion looked about their surroundings vigilantly as they slowly entered the city. With no one in sight, they thought that their plan had worked, that they would easily be able to take over, until they heard a single round of gun fire blast into their midst.

Then more rounds fired at them, piercing the quiet of the northern side of town as the startled Guard began to fall. First one, then three, then more as bullets filled the air.

Finally beginning to fire their own weapons, the two lead Guard were startled as a figure in black bounced over their heads. They didn’t have enough time to even react as Nikki’s sword sliced through them. As her sword exited the last Guard, she quickly plunged it into yet another man as he approached her.

Her damp hair swinging about her in a wild arch, blood dripping from her sword she flailed it again and again at the approaching enemy. And one lone Guard, slipping up behind her wondered for that brief moment before death how she was able to turn so fast and send her sword slicing through his neck.

Nikki’s troops had moved up quickly behind her to join in the battle. Gun and laser sounds filled the air as the troops engaged each other. Nikki’s own sword and Kama continued to slice through man after man as she made her way through the Guard troops. She fought with such fury, such passion, knowing that this could be the last battle she would ever fight. One that she must win, win for the people of New Colorado Springs, win for the Freedom Fighters and win for the life that she and Becca had yet to live, together.

She watched through focused eyes as the Guard troops fell around her. Her sword bloodied and nicked from their bones and the life force that ebbed from them. Her own troops fighting for their freedom had taken the Guard by surprise and were winning the conflict.

In a moment of peace, Nikki began to wonder how the other areas of town were faring. As she looked about, knowing they had taken command of this area, she yelled over to her lieutenant, "I’m heading to the southern gate. Looks like you have it under control here Lieutenant."

"Yes ma’am, we can handle it from here. I’ll send some of my men with you." He said as his gun let off another volley of bullets directed into a line of Guard troops.

Nikki and three of the Fighters moved quickly across town towards the southern gate and met with little resistance as they moved through the streets. Nikki could see that some of the Guard had gotten through the defenses but much less then she had thought. She and the fighters with her made little work of taking out the few Guard that they found.

As they passed the road leading to the western mountains Nikki could see a line of troops coming their way down the treacherous trails.

Pulling her men back quickly to hide in the shadows of a building, she watched as the troops moved down the mountain pass and easily into the city. Nikki didn’t have many troops located at the western side of town due to the fact that the mountains were mostly impassable in the winter. She knew that the Guard would never come that way and didn’t want to waste the troops where they weren’t needed. But now watching as these troops headed down the mountain she feared that she may have made a horrible mistake.

As the unknown troops began filling the road into the city and coming closer to Nikki and her men, she noticed something strangely familiar in the way that they moved.

"John! What took you so long? We thought you had been ambushed." she cried out to her old friend as she rushed to embrace him. Her own men watched in wonder from their hidden vantage point as their commander hugged the huge man in front of her.

"We tried to get word to you through Liz about the Guard build up. Didn’t she report back?" John said as he, Nikki and the troops made their way through the streets towards the southern gate.

"Listen John, I threw Liz out of camp a few days ago. When and what did she tell you exactly?"

"Well, Liz came into our camp a few days ago. She said she had been sent by you to find out our plans. I thought that was a little odd but I told her that we planed on coming through the northern gate because we knew you wouldn’t have that many troops there, just like you had said to tell anyone who asked. Then she left camp to report back to you, she said. A day later she was back. I told her that we had been seeing the Guard buildup near the northern end behind the hills and that she should warn you. She asked where we would be coming through then but I told her I didn’t know. I had a funny feeling about what was happening then and didn’t want to give too much away. Then she told me that you wanted us to come through the southern gate instead. That’s when I decided that we had better take the chance and come through the mountains on the western side. It was rough but as you can see, we made it." John ended his tale with a smile at his friend.

"I sure am glad to see you, but I had no doubt that you would make it through." Nikki lied as she looked over at John, glad that he made it through and was again at her side.

"I lied and told Liz that you would be coming through the northern gate. I had a feeling we had a traitor in our group and then Becca over heard Liz speaking with the Guard. She was the only one I told that you would be coming that way. I was a bit surprised to find out it was her though." Nikki said as she bowed her head slightly, thinking again of what Liz had done to Becca. Then continuing her conversation with John, "When she came back into your camp the next day and you told her that you had seen a build up of troops, that’s when she needed to know what your alternate plans would be. I’m glad that you didn’t tell her any more. They hit us hard on the southern and eastern sides hoping to draw the rest of us away from the northern gate so they could just slip in, but we were ready for them." Nikki said as they knelt down in a doorway, trying to catch their breath before heading out again.

For a moment, Nikki reflected on Liz and finally said to John, "Liz will be for ever a hunted woman." Yea, for what she did to Becca and for betraying us Nikki thought to herself.

Looking at his commander and friend, John knew that there was more to this story but would wait until they had a quiet moment to talk about it. He knew that whatever else Liz had done, must have been something very bad for Nikki to condemn her like that.

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

As they reached the southern gate Nikki was informed that her troops had that gate under control but were loosing the battle at the eastern side of town. Looking over at John she playfully asked, "Are you ready for a fight yet, you slacker?"

"Yea, just point em out." John replied as they both took off running towards the eastern gate.

"Glad to have you here John, I owe you."

"Let’s just get the bastards and then you can thank me." John said to his friend as they headed down the street, their troops pulling in behind them.

Chapter 4

"Well Nikki, where to now?" John asked his friend as they stood on the crest of the hill over looking New Colorado Springs.

"I need to get over to New Salt Lake, I hear they are having a problem with a band of mercenaries and I think I know who they might be." Nikki replied as she reflected back to the days when she herself was a part of a renegade army.

"Yea, it’s a never ending battle isn’t it? But if I know you, those mercenaries will wish they hadn’t even bothered. Too bad we can’t get them to pester the reformer’s in the east." John said as he looked over the town below and reflected back to the great battle that had recently taken place. He thought about the warriors and innocent village people who lost their lives there in a battle for the freedom of others.

"I’ll give Pete your love when I’m there." Nikki smiled at John as she thought about his brother who was now a vital part of their forces again. He had been forced into a wheelchair since being wounded so long ago but he was such an asset to the communications effort in New Salt Lake that being in a wheel chair didn’t stop him one bit.

"Thanks. He’ll be glad to see you. I plan on heading that way soon myself. Haven’t seen that little rascal in quite a while. And he still owes me 20 bucks." John laughed.

"Hey, you planning to take your motorcycle?" John asked, changing the subject that neither one of them wanted to think about just yet.

"Nah, I think I’ll take one of the horses that never get out much, give them a chance to get out and exercise a bit. Anyway, Becca doesn’t much care for the noise of the bike."

"So, looks like you found someone to take care of you, huh?" John said as he slid his arm over the strong shoulder of his friend.

Looking over the crest of the hill, Nikki could make out the form of her lover as she rubbed the long nose of the horse. Smiling, Nikki quietly mouthed "Yea, I don’t know what I ever did to deserve her but I sure am glad we found each other."

Epilog

"And so it went for the warrior and the bard, traveling through the land, righting the wrongs of the reformers and battling bands of mercenaries, trying to put a nation back together out of the ashes of war.

Remember now what I have told you this night and pass it along. All must know the tales of their struggle for the greater good, to ensure that the evil that once held us in it’s grip never happens again and to know of the love between these great women." the bard said, finally ending her tale.

"Oh please tell us another story Gabrielle, please." the children all begged as they clamored in their seats wanting to hear more about the great Gate Keeper and the woman who was her life’s companion.

"Not tonight little ones, maybe another time. Now, off to bed with you before it is too late to enjoy the dreams that come on Solstice eve." Gabrielle said as she watched the children and parents shift in their seats preparing themselves to leave the performing arts hall.

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

Sitting alone now in her large chair near the fire, Gabrielle began to think back to all the tales that Becca had told her with the hopes that she would always remember and pass them along. There were so many of them, so many adventures that Nikki and Becca had been through in their fight for freedom.

Gabrielle smiled at the thought of the women’s life together and wondered what it would have been like to really know them back when they lived and fought together. She only had a fleeting chance to know Becca before she past on and in that short time Becca had told all the tales she had so meticulously written down. She had told Gabrielle of all the love and the adventures that Nikki and Becca had together. Becca had wanted someone to remember, someone who would pass on the tales. And now it is Gabrielle who holds the power of the tales, it is up to her to pass on that knowledge. Becca is long gone now but through Gabrielle’s telling of her tales of adventure and love, the Warrior and Bard will forever live on.

Their struggle for the greater good had finally succeeded in the end and everyone could be thankful for that. Although the world is quite different now then it had been back then, it is a gentler place to live by far. Gone are the huge cities and megalopolises, gone are the ugly skyscrapers and filthy roads. Gone too are the stresses of living such a fast paced life. What was rebuilt out of those ashes of war were gentle villages with farmers and tradespeople. Places where people can live their lives free of domination by ruthless authoritarian leaders. The freedom to be who and what they want as long as no harm is done to any others. Those are the only laws now.

The End…

 


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