Warning: One thing before we start…… If you have not read Stranger Paths first and Return to Reality second, none of this will make sense. Well, the words will but the story won't. So, run back and read themJ

Disclaimers: Well, well, well here we are again. Gosh, it just seems like yesterday that we were....nevermind. You all know this part. Say it with me now, you in the back....yes you...pay attention! We are going to do this in unison. From the top! Ready? Eyes front! Wait for me...... AND sing...The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Melinda, Janice, Toris, Cyrene, Ephiny, and Argo don't belong to me.....stay in tempo....2,3,4.....They belong to Renaissance Pictures.....MCA Universal....and the creators of Xena: Warrior Princess. Candace, Taylor, Terra and Skye are miiiiiine. If you want to use them please ask first. (It's like fishing on private lands.) Lalalala... Rest....... and don't forget to breathe....6,7,8....I am not receiving any payment or compensation for this stohohorrry. Next page. Pick up to 32.

Hold it ....and....Violence: Yes. It is Xena after all.

On the down beat!....Now! Sex: YES! oh my yes! There is graphic, yet not objectionable, sex between members of the same sexual species. ....bridge: (knowing that men are a different species altogether) Singing now (Tune:Twelve days of Christmas), Twelve days of carousing, eleven Amazons mating, ten swords a flying, nine ladies loving (Nine?) eight distressed damsels, seven ways to save them, six flying frying pans, fiiiiiive golden Chakrams (Or is that Chakrai?) four screaming Banshees, three Naked Gabrielle's, two Deep Blue eyes, and a Baaaaarrrd in a dungeon. (It's part of the plan!) And end...Nicely done. And you didn't think you could do it. I'm so proud!

Legal Disclaimers: If this is illegal where you live (the sex thing) or you are under the legal age (Man! All this lamea** legality stuff) go read another Xena story with none of this in it. Yes there are some. Many good ones I might add.

Spoilers: Yep even in the disclaimers.

Language alert: Once again there will be the gratuitous swear word here X and ------->X there. 'Cause why???? 'Cause warriors swear on occasion. And so do lesbians from the 21st century. No sh*t. See? Did I mention that this is a lesbian kind of story? OK just checking.

Thanks for all your support! E-mail your bards! It makes a huge difference! (And it boosts our very fragile bardish egos:) This entire series is based on a story by Pallus called Beyond and Forever. If you want to find out how this whole thing started read it!

Comments go to UgoXena@aol.com

Škg '99 almost 2000 (How cool is that?)



Part 1


Candace stretched in her sleep pressing her naked body closer to the tall frame beside her. Taylor, barely awake, smiled slightly at the movement. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world to wake up every morning with the woman she knew as her soulmate. *Well, almost the most wonderful.* She grinned lasciviously to herself and wrapped a long arm around the sleeping woman. She hadn't yet opened her eyes and just reveled in the feel of the warmth next to her. The next thing she became aware of was a frantic voice pulling her from her soft slumber.

"Damn it! Shit! Taylor! Wake up!"

"Sorry. I must have fallen.......back........aslee....p. Where are we?" Taylor glanced around at the very unfamiliar surroundings.

"Would you believe Cyrene's inn?"

"Is that a question or a statement?" Taylor looked around her in awe. The room was laid out exactly as their bedroom, but this was definitely not that room. Board walls and a stone fireplace were the best indicators from her position in the bed. She hadn't seen the wood plank floor yet.

"Both. What in the hell is going on here?" To say that the blonde was upset was an extremely mild way of putting it.

"Hon, take a deep breath. I think remaining calm in this situation might be prudent." She put a large hand on her lovers arm. She admired the naked form of the small blonde while she was at it. Candace was magnificent in her state of undress. Pert breasts had a certain sway to them that caught her attention and held it. *Damn! What is wrong with me? Here we are God knows where and I'm thinking about sex. But she is soooo sexy!* Taylor was shock out of her thoughts by a slapping of the bed sheets next to her.

"Prudent my ass! Last time I was here didn't end all that well and I can't imagine that this is going to be any better."

Taylor was stung by the comment but was sure the small blonde didn't mean it quite the way it sounded. "I won't take that personally."

Candace realized the words that she had used and was immediately regretful. "God, Tay. I'm sorry. She put her hand up to the dark-haired firefighters cheek. "I didn't mean it that way. You are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. It's just that if we're here, it can't be a good thing. Can it?"

"I couldn't begin to tell you. I am hardly an expert on strange phenomena regarding all things Xena. That would be Mel and Janice and I don't see them here." She smiled trying to take the edge off the strange situation. "How can you be sure we're at Cyrene's? Why would I be here? I mean, what have I got to do with anything?"

Candace smirked in spite of the situation. If she were going to be here she was thrilled to have her lover with her. There was no doubt that this woman completed her in every way. She had been a total person before, but when Taylor had pulled her off the side of the cliff on Mt. Falcon, the firefighter had rescued her from more than a rocky precipice, she had restored her heart. She turned and gazed into deep blue eyes. A sudden rush of desire hit her and she leaned in close. With a smile she kissed Taylor sweetly. "Yes, we are at Cyrene's Inn. I'm positive. I don't know why you're here. And you my dear, have everything to do with me." She kissed Taylor again and moved her body close enough to touch skin to skin.

Taylor smiled and deepened the kiss while pulling the small compact body closer to her. The warmth of the blonde was like a balm to her sometimes tortured soul. She saw death and destruction more often than she would like and Candace helped to heal those wounds by loving her with a passion that wiped those memories into nonexistence. "This is not figuring out why we're here."

"No, but anytime I'm in a motel I get this.....feeeeling." Candace threw her leg over Taylor's thigh and pushed her hips into Taylor.

Taking the hint, ok it was a pass, Taylor put both hands on very taut butt cheeks and pulled the tickling curls against her leg. "Motel, huh?"

"Yeah. Mmmmm. That's good." Candace pushed harder against the contact and moved in rhythm with the pressure Taylor was exerting. A fire began to bubble up in her stomach and she closed her eyes. She leaned her forehead, already beading with perspiration, on her lover's chin. Taylor gently kissed that forehead and moved her hands up Candace's back and into her hair.

Suddenly, and without warning the door to the room flew open and a woman with a basket of goods sauntered in. Startled to say the least, Taylor and Candace's gaze both flew in the direction of the woman who, upon seeing them, dropped the basket and let out an impromptu yelp.

"I'm....Gods, I'm so sorry this room was supposed to be empty." She wasn't looking directly at the visitors, eyes to the floor in embarrassment. "I'll be going now. Excuse me." She picked up her basket and turned to leave.


The woman stopped her retreat and turned to face the bed. Squinting as if not believing her eyes, she spoke softly, "Candace? By the Gods! Is that you? And...........Xena? No......" The woman stepped closer to the bed not paying much attention to the fact that both women were quite naked.

"You are.........my gods! Look at you."

Taylor didn't need to look at herself she knew quite well what she looked like and so would the woman advancing on her if she wasn't careful. Taylor pulled the sheet up to cover herself a little more and looked to Candace for deliverance.

"Amira." Amira looked up and Candace raised an eyebrow at her former sister-in-law.

"Huh? Oh, Gods. I'm sorry again. You just look so much like Xena, I can't tell you. The hair is different and maybe the color of your eyes, but you could be twins. You might be a little younger, too."

"Amira this is Taylor. Taylor, Toris's wife Amira."

"Pleasure." Taylor put out one hand and kept the other firmly in place. She was not one to go around flashing people.

Amira accepted the hand and pumped it vigorously, "No, my dear the pleasure is all mine. I can't wait until Toris gets a look at you! The woman laughed good-naturedly, "That is gonna be worth some kind of dinars. SO! Let's get to the real question at hand. What on Gaia are you doing here? The story about you was that you were sent back....uh...forward to your own time. That's the story Gabrielle tells the family. We are sworn not to repeat it. So?"

"To be honest, we have no idea. We went to sleep last night in our own bedroom and woke up here. This is going to be an interesting ride."


"Nothing. Would you happen to have any extra clothes laying around? Seems we're quite naked under here. And then, I don't know about you love, but I am going to starve to death in a minute. I need to eat."

"You are always going to starve to death in a minute. I have yet to witness such an occurance."

"You have to trust me on this."

"Trust you? TRUST YOU? Look where I am!"

"Yes, love I know. I can promise you this, if you didn't have something to do with this, this...... whatever..... this is that is going on, you would not be here."

"But I'm supposed to work the next three days. Exactly what should I tell my Chief? I'm really sorry sir. I was busy doing.....whatever, something... whatever this is....2500 years ago and couldn't show up to fight fires and be a hero in general. Yep, that'll work."

Candace laughed at her lover and gave her a light slap on the arm. "Remember when I came back last time? Good Lord, there is a last time in this crazy situation. Anyway, last time, time didn't pass that fast. Maybe if you're lucky we'll get back about the same time we left."

Taylor rubbed her forehead for what would be the first time out of hundreds maybe thousands in this whatever this was. "Honey, it's not that I don't have faith in you, but come on, this has got to be the Gods and stuff we're dealing with here. From your last experience, would you put much credence in that? Hummm?"

"No, I suppose not. But face it, we can't get back unless we get sent back, so we have to make the best of the situation."

"Which is what we were doing before we were so rudely interrupted." Taylor turned her blue eyes and arching eyebrow on Amira who had the good sense to blush.

"Sorry," she said meekly.

"Don't let her pull that intimidation stuff on you. She's just a big ol teddy bear under that gruff "I'm a tough firefighter, huuu!" exterior. Huh, honey?"

With a heavy sigh she looked at the blonde in the bed next to her, "You will one day succeed at ruining my reputation."

"Yes, dear. But I love you." Candace planted a soft kiss on Taylor ear causing a slow blush to creep up the dark-haired woman's neck.


"Yes, I seeee. Same as Xena. Well, let me see what I can dig up as far as clothes go. The girls usually leave a change of clothes here. I'll see if I can find them."

"The girls? Who are the girls?" Candace thought maybe they were members of Amira's family.

"Xena and Gabrielle, of course. It should take me just a few minutes....or I could take a candle mark or so if you prefer." She smiled knowingly at Taylor.

"Please take your time, Amira. She says she is going to starve to death, but in reality she needs to..... work up an appetite."

"Yes, well. I'll see you two in say a candle mark and I promise to knock before I come in." She didn't wait for a reply and scurried out of the room catching hold of her basket on the way out the door.

"I need to work up an appetite, huh?"

Taylor pushed her long warm frame smoothly along Candace's small body, "Yeah." And the two women were soon entangled in a warm mixture of lips and limbs and a great deal of love.


True to her word Amira was back in a little over a candlemark with several articles of clothing from which the women could choose. "Wanted to make sure you are comfortable."

"Thanks Amira. We'll be down in a bit.

Candace chose a pair of riding leathers and a cotton tunic tied at the waist with a belt. Underneath she had put on one of Gabrielle's old green sports bra things.

Taylor laughed when she saw it. "That thing is more ugly in person."

She pulled on her boots and laughed with her partner. "At least you can't see it under this."

Xena had left one of her battle dresses and Taylor held it up. Both women stared for a long moment before both spoke in unison, "Try it on." "I think I'll try this on."

Taylor finished with all the adjustments and turned to face Candace. It may not have been the best idea. The tall firefighter looked exactly like her former wife and the sight hit her like a brick causing her to sit down hard on the bed. "Oh man." She wanted to cry but held her tears in check. There was no doubt she loved Taylor, but she had never expected to see the Warrior Princess again or anyone that remotely reminded her of the time she had spent with Xena. She had married her for goodness sake.

"Hey, you OK?"

"Not really. Taylor, I just know you're going to take this wrong....."

"It's her isn't it?"

"I wish I could say you were wrong and that this whole thing was a dream, but.... God! You look just like her." She put her head down in shame. She loved Taylor more than she had loved the great warrior but for some reason that didn't make it any easier. "Take it off, K?"

"Yeah, good idea." Taylor shrugged out of the clothes she felt fit her to a "T". She would never tell Candace how she felt wearing the leathers of her twin. It was like coming home.

"Taylor, please know that I love you with everything I have, but I have a feeling you're going to have to bear with me through some things. You know it was not exactly the most normal of break-ups. I was here and then I was gone. It was more like a death."

Taylor, dressed now in almost identical wear to her lover sat on the bed and placed a comforting arm around the blonde's shoulder. Candace leaned into her and Taylor buried her nose in the soft fragrance of her hair. Whispering softly Taylor reassured her, "We don't even know if we will meet up with them. But, if we do I am not so naive as to think there will be no emotional reaction. I am a little jealous of that, I admit it. I don't think I would be normal if I wasn't. But, I love you and I will do whatever I can to support you, comfort you, love you, should the need arise."

"Ah Tay. You shouldn't even have to go through this." Tears bubbled to the surface and she didn't try to stop them this time. She didn't want to hurt the woman she loved in any way, but if they met up with Xena and Gabrielle it was bound to happen. She had truly loved the Warrior and had lost her in a way that there had been no time to even say good-bye. She had a million things she wished she could have said before she was pulled away. Now she might have the chance, but doubted the words would ever come.

"Neither should you." Taylor kissed the top of her head and pulled her closer. This was going to be a bumpy ride!

Old emotions cast aside, the two women bounded down the stairs to the main tavern portion of the inn. It wasn't exactly as Candace remembered it. There appeared to have been a couple of additions and enlargements done at some point. She would have to ask Cyrene about them. They were met at the bottom of the stairs by a young girl of maybe five or six years.

"Mommy doesn't like it when we come down the stairs like that. You should use your walking feet inside." Large blue eyes stared up at them.

Taylor's eyebrow shot up again and Candace smiled. They knew a scolding when heard one. "You are very correct. We will be sure to walk from now on."

"K. You guys look like my Aunts Xena and Gabrielle, but......are you?"

"No, sweetie, this is Taylor and I am Candace. We are.....related to them."

"My name is Candace, too." The girl's eyes shot open wide as saucers in realization, "You are her."

Candace squatted down to eye level with the youngster, "Your name is Candace?" The little blonde head shook up and down with vigor. "Well, Candace it's nice to meet you." Candace held out a hand that was readily accepted. Candace drew her into a hug and small arms were thrown around her neck. Candace stood up with the younger Candace in her arms.

"I'm named after you, huh?"

"Well, if your dad is Toris and your mom is Amira, then yes-you-are." She gave finger pats to the button nose for emphasis. The girl smiled at the attention and looked at Taylor. Taylor rewarded her with a bright smile in return.

She spoke to the tall firefighter, "You're pretty."

"Well, thank you, Candace. So are you." Taylor was flattered even in spite of the youngsters age.

"Are you sure you're not Xena?"

"Oh yes, if there is anything I am sure of, it's that I am not Xena." The words came out with an unintended bite and Taylor was shot a very cold look from her partner.

"OK, but you sure look like her." The little bundle of energy squirmed to be released and the short blonde returned her to the floor. "I'll go get my dad."

"Thanks, Candace." The young girl ran off in the direction of the kitchen. "Walking feet!" The short singer reminded her namesake. Softer footsteps were heard immediately.

Candace suppressed her ire and face her lover. "That was soooo uncalled for."

"You're right. I'm sorry." Taylor swore she wasn't going to let her jealousy show and it appeared she was failing.

"Look Tay, we're in a tough spot. I know these people. They were my family for heaven's sake. I can't just ignore them and we can't run away from this." The small blond moved to place a gentle hand on her lover's arm, "You have to trust that I love you with all my heart and not just some little part I had left over. Sure I have a special place for her in here," she placed a hand on her chest, "but I love you so much more and so differently, the two don't compare. Besides, Xe has Gabrielle. AND man! With those two, there is no room for anyone else! OK?"

Green eyes pled with Taylor for peace in this odd situation. The firefighter pulled her soulmate into her arms and into a sweet embrace. She had never been jealous about anything that had to do with them until now. She didn't like the feeling. *But THIS was her wife for cryin' out loud. What am I supposed to do with that?* At this point there were no answers to that question.

A tall man came around the corner speaking as he did, "I'm sorry about this, but my daughter seems to think that you......are......Candace?" Toris was stunned. And then he looked at the woman standing with her. His jaw dropped half way to the floor.

"Hey, Tor. Long time no see, huh?" Candace smiled at her former brother in law and at his disbelief.

Toris continued to stare in fascination and moved closer to Taylor trying to take in the entire concept.

"Toris? Hello? You have seen this before, remember? Diana, Leah, Meg. It's nothing new."

"RIGHT! Right." He stood straight and turned to the blonde pulling her into a tight embrace. "It's so good to see you. I thought Little Candace was seeing her imaginary friends again." He turned to his sisters newest look a like, "It's nice to meet you....?"

"Taylor. The pleasure is mine, Toris." Taylor nodded and grinned at him holding out a hand that was readily accepted.

"Wow. Twice in one day." Toris shook his head and continued to stare.

The two women shot looks at each other. "Care to explain that?" Candace was afraid of the answer.

"Come on. There is something I think you need to see." Toris pointed to the next room.

Candace shook her head and looked at her lover and back to her former brother-in-law. As if this weren't enough. "Lead on , Toris."

Xena's brother lead the group into the dining room of the inn pointed and headed back to the kitchen. Across the room were two people seated at one of the longer dining tables. Candace couldn't tell the sex of either at this point. Their heads were bowed in conversation hiding their faces. There were several noteworthy things about the couple, foremost of which was their dress. Metallic jumpsuits adorned them along with sunglasses and hats, resembling ball caps, made of the same metallic material as their clothing. The women looked up and it was easy to see that they were female, appearing to be in their late teens. The second thing of note was that they were scared to death. The dark haired girl removed her glasses and blue eyes bored a hole straight through all of them.

Candace looked at Taylor and then back to the corner of the room at the two very frightened teenagers. She smiled at them and her smile changed to recognition. In spite of their odd dress she knew who they were. She approached them slowly and the two girls stood to their feet. The dark scowling one was tall, not surprising to the short blonde approaching her. The other girl was a good deal shorter but still had an athletic build. It was impossible to tell the color of the hair beneath her hat but Candace knew it was the same color as her own.

"Don't be frightened."

The tall one spoke for both of them. "We're not afraid." The attitude was evident.

"I am sorry. I didn't mean to insinuate that you were. What I meant was that we mean you no harm." The blonde approached the two girls with open hands raised.

"That's what they all say." The tall woman spat the words at Candace. She wasn't watching her behavior and her small companion touched her arm in warning. Concerned blue eyes met the softness of green and she calmed her inner turmoil. She would do anything to protect the female with her. Anything.

"I am sure they do, but I am telling the truth." She wasn't sure who 'they' were but she would find out soon enough. She stood where she was and waited for the dark haired girl to take the lead in the conversation.

"Why have you brought us here?" Her voice this time was soft and frightened.

Candace noted the change and was confused by it. "We didn't."

"Then who did? What do you want with us? Have we been sold? Have we done something wrong? Where are we?" The girl began to panic and it was evident in her voice and her deep blue eyes. She was scared to death and trying desperately to hide it.

"Slow down. It's really OK. Are you hungry?"

The two women looked at each other. It was obvious that they were starving but afraid to show the weakness of admission. The smaller of the two finally nodded.

Candace turned and yelled to Toris causing the girls to flinch. "Tor! Bring me four bowls of the best stew you have back there and two ciders. And bread!"

"Sit." Candace pointed to the seats the girls had been sitting in.

Thinking it an order the two girls plopped quickly to their seats and bowed their heads. Candace watched the two and shook her head. This was bad. Candace sat at the table with the girls. Eye level, letting her body speak for her. "Do you have names?"

The dark head raised just enough to look Candace in the eye. "Yes Mistress. I am Terra and this is Skye." She bowed her head back to its position of subservience.

"Terra, look at me." Blue eyes lifted to meet her own." Let's get something straight right from the start here. I am not your Mistress. I do not own you." She looked to her lover and her friends. "No one here....owns you."

Skye stood quickly to her feet and spoke her first words, "YOU LIE! You may think us simple, but we are smarter than you think! YOU..." Terra reached a cautioning hand out to her friend and the blonde shut her mouth quickly and tightly. Candace couldn't see behind the sunglasses the blonde wore, but she knew there was fear in the eyes hidden from her view. Skye thought she had overstepped the bounds and was about to reap the reward for her insubordination. She didn't know where they were or how they had gotten here. Being angry was bound to get her in trouble. In a very soft voice she spoke, "Forgive me Mistress. I am prepared for whatever punishment you see fit."

Candace reached out to the young girl and removed the sunglasses from her face. Skye flinched at the movement but did not pull away. She was shocked when the blow she was expecting did not land. She looked up into the kindest eyes she had ever seen next to her mother's. Her eyes shot back down. It was not permitted to look an owner in the eye. Two mistakes in as many minutes. *Do I have a death wish?* She felt a soft and gentle hand under her chin and raised her head as the gentle prodding requested. She looked into the green eyes that matched her own once again. She wasn't sure, but she felt it was allowed.

"Skye, there will never be any type of punishment as long as you are here. You see here, you are free. Do you understand free?"

Furrowed brows showed Candace that confusion raced through Skye's thoughts. "Free? As in given away? Someone gave us to you?"

Candace smiled. "No sweetheart. Free as in you are owned by no one except yourself."

Skye looked down at Terra and then back to Candace. They didn't understand.

Toris and Taylor brought the food to the table and set it down in front of the girls. Neither of them reached for anything. The smell of the stew was making their mouths water but they would never dream of eating without permission.

Toris headed back to the kitchen. As Taylor turned to go she was detained by a soft hand on her forearm. She looked into the eyes of her lover and understood the unspoken request. She sat in the chair next to the small blonde she called home. The two girls looked in awe at the firefighter. She was tall and so strong. Terra was almost as tall but much smaller in size. Taylor noted that as soon as Terra was put on a decent diet the weight and size would work itself out. Candace and Taylor began eating and noted that the two seated with them were not.

Candace looked at their new charges in slight confusion. "Aren't you hungry?"

"Yes, M.."

Candace put out a hand to Skye. "Candace. My name is Candace. This is Taylor."

"Hi guys." Taylor smiled at the two and nodded.

They nodded in a stuttered fashion and looked back to Candace. Skye began her sentence again, "Yes, Miss Candace. Miss Taylor. We are hungry."

Candace shook her head in slight frustration. They would get the name thing eventually. "Then why aren't you eating?"

Terra shrugged. "You didn't say that we could."

"Oh for heavens sake!" Aggravation forced it's way to the surface of Candace's emotions and she tossed her spoon into her bowl. She couldn't believe that these poor girls had been so mistreated.

Terra panicked. They were so hungry and now their new mistress was mad. She desperately wanted to make sure that at least Skye was allowed to eat. Pleading saturated her voice and she implored, "Please don't be angry, Miss Candace. What have we done to make you angry? We'll stop. Please, let Skye eat. It was my fault."

Realizing she had frightened them, Candace calmly replied, "Girls. Terra, I am not angry with you. I am angry with the people that did this to you. Please, eat. Eat any time you are hungry. Eat all the food we have if you need to."

For the first time she got a smile. It came from the lips of the short green-eyed teenager. *Food. All the food I can eat. I don't know where we are but I think it must be heaven.*

Candace smiled back. *Now I'm speaking your language, eh little one? You like to eat? Fine, then eat you will.*

"Tay, stay with them. I'll be right back." Candace stood and patted her lover on the shoulder and turned towards the kitchen.

"Right, love. They'll be fine with me." Candace strode to the back of the inn and the girls eyed Taylor warily. The other was nice it seemed but this one, well let's say she was intimidating. They jumped when Taylor spoke, "You can eat ya know."

"Yes Miss Taylor." Terra took a quick taste of the food in her bowl and grinned. "Go on, Skye. It's fine."

The blonde scrunched her lips up around her teeth and took a very wary nibble. She tasted and her green eyes lit up the room. Taylor couldn't help but smile. The adolescents ate as if they had never had food before. There was hardly any breathing occurring and no talking at all. Taylor shook her head. Skye took a drink of her cider and yelped. Taylor was suddenly concerned.

"You OK?"

"Creighton the Mighty! That is the most wonderful thing I have ever tasted. Terra, taste it! It's sweet and sour and I....I..I don't know." She was almost crying.

"Skye, you shouldn't swear in front of people."

"I'm sorry Ter. Try it. For me, K?"

"Please forgive her." Terra was almost embarrassed for her companion.

"Nothing to forgive Terra. Try the juice.......for Skye." The firefighter smiled and winked at the girl that looked so much like herself and the tall young woman blushed. *Well at least that hasn't changed.* "You're gonna love it."

"Yeah." Taylor knew Terra wasn't talking about the juice.

Terra felt the juice was a nice treat but she was busy concentrating on the food in her bowl. There were odd chunks of some sort throughout but she didn't complain. Once she got used to the texture she discovered that it wasn't bad at all. Taylor noted curiosity on the face across from her. "Terra? Something wrong with your food?"

"No, Miss. It's......interesting." She furrowed her brows and shrugged her shoulders.

"Interesting? That's an odd way to describe it. How is it interesting?"

"Please take no offense," Taylor shook her head and smiled at Terra.

"Buuuuut..." Taylor prodded her along.

"Now, I know that these are potatoes," She pulled the white tuber up and showed it to the firefighter. Taylor nodded and Terra continued. "I have seen pictures." She smiled in pride of her knowledge.

"Of potatoes." The girl nodded vigorously and Taylor grinned. *She has seen PICTURES of potatoes. Pictures. Man.*

"I think these are carrots, yes?" She looked inquisitively at her new owner.

"Yep. Them there's carrots." Taylor tried her best not to laugh at the strange situation they were in. This world was so foreign to these two she didn't know how they would ever survive.

Terra frowned at the strange use of language but continued. "These small green things. What are these?"

"Those are peas."

"Peas. I don't care for them." She looked up in shock at her own words. Trouble was sure to come at insulting the food offered.

"Then don't eat them."

"REALLY?" Surprise plastered itself across the young face.

"Yeah, Terra. Really. You do need vegetables, but it doesn't have to be peas." Her heart went out and Taylor knew she loved these two already. They were grown children in need of a great deal patience and guidance. She knew that Candace would have no problem in that area. She wasn't all that sure about herself, but she would try.

"Mighty Creighton. What do you know?" She was in shock. She shrugged and reasserted her interest in her food, except for the peas.

Skye took a break from her bowl long enough to make her culinary inquiry. "Miss Taylor..?"

"Skye, my name is just Taylor. No miss or mistress or anything. Just Taylor."

Skye nodded and spoke again, "Taylor," The firefighter nodded and smiled bringing a smile to the lips of the younger girl. "What is this stringy material here?" She held it up.

"That is venison."


Taylor shook her head in the affirmative.

"Where does it come from?"


"Deer? What is deer?"

"Deer as in....ya know," She put both hands fingers outstretched up to her head, "deer."

Skye didn't know what Taylor was doing and imitated her movements. She looked to Terra who shrugged. In total confusion she looked back to Taylor.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand."

"OK simple terms. It's meat."

"Meat?" The blonde was no closer to understanding.

"Yeah, From animals."

"ANIMALS! THIS IS ANIMAL? How can you do that! There are not enough animals as it is and to go around eating them? We can't eat this! Terra, stop eating. I don't care what you do to me Miss Taylor. I am not eating this. Terra!" She grabbed the taller girls arm and shook it.

Terra rolled her eyes at her partner. She had always been mouthy but this was the height. "Skye, I'm hungry. I wouldn't care if it were Creighton himself in my bowl. Now, let go of my arm."

"Skye, you don't have to eat it if you don't want. But rest assured that there are plenty of animals to go around. I personally prefer to stick with eating mostly fish. I am sure I can find you something that is not so objectionable to you." Taylor stood and started off to the kitchen and almost ran into Candace.

Candace returned to the table with more food just as the debate was ending. Taylor looked to her lover in surrender. "What?"

"It seems that Skye here is a vegetarian. She didn't know there was meat in the stew."

"Vegetarian? What's that?" Skye had never heard such a word let alone understand the meaning.

"That, my dear, is what you are. If you don't eat meat you are a vegetable eating person, vegetarian." Candace realized that whatever the reason for all of them being there the challenge of the two young women was going to prove difficult.

"OH. Well, we have no meat where I am from. So we are all veg-e-tarians. There are no animals. There are a few left on the moon colonies I think. They are being held in stasis until a habitable environment is established planet-side. But you already know this. I am sorry for insulting you."

"Skye, we're not insulted. You must realize by now that you are not where you were."

"Nope, you're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy, and the Munchkins have invaded the Emerald city. " Taylor mumbled to herself and received a good-natured elbow to the ribs.

Skye frowned at the tall firefighter. *She's a strange one.* She looked back to Candace, "I see where we are is not like the holding area we were in before. That was cold and very uncomfortable. Here it is warm but odd looking. I mean these tables. What are they made of? It feels strange."

"That is wood."

"Wood. You mean wood from trees?" Candace nodded and Skye was shocked again. "Wood. Creighton! Trees. This is an unusual place. Eating animals, things made from wood. I mean real live, well dead, wood." The blonde shook her head and continued on with her inquiry into the strange world they had been thrown into.

Terra continued to eat in silence. She didn't care about the animals. If they could fill her stomach she would eat them. Skye on the other hand had always had a soft heart. It didn't surprise her that the blonde wouldn't want to harm anything living. She held a reverence for things that made no sense to her but it was one of the things about Skye that made Terra love her all the more. Terra chastised herself. *Stop thinking like that! It's not allowed. These women would kill us if they found out.* Terra had been drawn to Skye the moment she had seen her. They had both been sold to the same man a few months before the man had died in the explosion at the Terra-form plant. Terra and Skye had been assigned to the same work force in the factory and had formed as strong a relationship as was allowed under the law. Before they had shown up in this strange place, they had been in holding until the dead man's assets had been evaluated. They were a part of those assets. Terra knew that they would be ripped apart and sold to different houses or left to different family members. It had completely broken her heart to think of losing the small blonde. She was well aware that the love for Skye that rested in her heart was forbidden, but it didn't stop the wellspring of emotion that flowed from her where the blonde was concerned. Slaves were not permitted to interact emotionally, let alone sexually, except for the sole purpose of creating new slave stock. Owners could use slaves to suit their desires it was their right. Slaves had no such rights or any rights for that matter. They both knew the penalty of breaking the law of interaction. Death. Terra would never dream of risking Skye's life by even so much as admitting her feelings for her friend. She lived with her secret and she would continue to do so. The only need she possessed in her pathetic life was Skye. She would allow nothing to put their relationship in jeopardy. Including herself.

Terra looked up at Candace and suddenly noticed the striking similarities between her love and the kind woman named Candace. She had made a point not to look too closely before, for fear of repercussions. Now, with the small woman's attentions focused elsewhere she stared openly. She jumped when Taylor whispered her name.


Knowing she had been caught she lowered her head. "Yes, M....Taylor."

"What do you see?" Taylor knew what had caught her interest.

Terra looked up into kind blue eyes. Relief flooded her bones. Taylor wasn't angry, she really wanted to know. "Candace. She...well...they. Um..." Comparing a slave with a free woman was the highest of insults. *I've come this far and nothing has happened.* She took a deep breath and answered the question in hushed tones. "They look the same."

"You're right, they do. What about me? Who do I look like?" Taylor kept the conversation private while the other two discussed the decor of the inn.

"I don't understand."

"Who do I look like?"

"I don't know. Who?" Terra furrowed her brows and tried to find the answer.

"No. I'm asking you. Who do YOU think I look like?"

"I don't know." Terra didn't understand why Taylor would need this information but she didn't have an answer anyway.

"You don't know."

"No. Should I know?"


"I'm sorry, Taylor. I really don't know."

"I look like you. WE look alike as well."

"I have never seen myself, so I can't be certain of that. I will take your word for it."

"My God! You have never seen what you look like?" Taylor raised her voice.

Two blonde heads turned in the direction of the two dark heads. "Tay, is everything alright?"

"Well, I'm not sure. Terra, tell me why you have never seen yourself."

Terra gripped the edges of the table in frustration. She hated what she was and was now being forced into reminding herself of just who and what that was. She remembered. Standing she spoke true, "Mistress, you toy with us. Please, let us go back to our place and we will not bother you again. I hope this game has been educational, but truly, we understand who we are. We need not be reminded. As we have been branded, we will never forget our station." She bowed her head and waited to be rewarded for her fortitude. All of these things were a trick to see if they would forever remain true to their purpose. She had found out the game in quick time. She was proud of herself and her new owner would be pleased.

Candace moved next to the tall young woman. She stretched out her hand and motioned to Terra. With her head bowed she couldn't see what she was being offered. She felt a small soft hand engulf her own and she looked up sharply. No one had ever touched her with such kindness. Owners used their slaves and they certainly did not love them or show them any affection. They were property, used and cast aside for the next time. Breathing vibrators. She looked to a very startled Skye, who had no words to convey her own thoughts and the thoughts she did have would never be spoken. *Why can't I touch her like that?* Slaves were never allowed to come in contact with each other save for reproduction. In short, they were starved for affection that never arrived. Candace tugged gently on her arm and Terra did the only thing she could, she followed.

Candace led the tall girl to the fireplace. Above the mantle was a large, shiny disk shaped object.

"Terra, look up."

The blue eyed woman looked up into blue eyes reflected back at her. She was stunned. Her gaze flew back to Taylor. The tall firefighter was still in her seat. She walked up to the mirror and reached out a hand. Touching the cool glass she withdrew slightly and then returned her fingers to the surface. She looked through the mirror to the smiling face and laughing green eyes behind her. She smiled in return. She saw the joy on her own face and tears came to her eyes. She had never seen her own reflection. She wasn't a person why should she?

"That's you, sweetheart. Gorgeous." Candace grinned at the look on Terra's face.

The girl blushed and turned to Skye. The blonde smiled at her broadly. "Can Skye? I mean..." She pointed to the mirror.

"Of course. Skye?"

The short teenager hesitated until Terra motioned to her. "Come on. I want you to see you."

Skye walked to stand next to Terra. She removed her hat and ran her fingers quickly through her very short spiky blonde hair. Taking a deep breath she plunged in. For the first time in her life Skye saw the face that had haunted her dreams. "I know her. I have seen her before when I sleep."

"You know who, Skye?" Candace frowned and glanced back at Taylor.

Skye pointed at the mirror. "Her. And you." She turned and pointed at Candace.

"The her in the mirror is you, Skye. That is what you look like." The singer wasn't sure where this was headed.

"No. It is you and Gabrielle."

Candace took a sharp intake of air. *This should not surprise me.* "You know Gabrielle?"

"That is the name of the woman in my dreams. Sometimes when the Master is in need of my services She comes to me during and comforts me. She comes also when I sleep and sings to me."

Terra flinched at the reference to Skye being used for anything, but she was helpless. They were owned and that was that.

Taylor stood and joined the group at the hearth. "Services? During what?"

"Uh, Tay." Candace shook her head and whispered, "Later."

Skye shook her head slightly and answered, "No. It's alright. We are slaves and you know that. We are of use to our owners for all types of service. Whenever they are in need we are summoned. I was my Master's preferred. It was common that I was not released from my bonds for days at a time. During these times She would come to comfort me. I thought of her and Terra to help me endure when she wasn't there. She, they, saved me."

Candace approached the young woman. She reached out and pulled her into a soft embrace. Skye let out a small cry. As Candace rocked the small girl gently, fear was overtaken and replaced with peace. Skye had never been held like this before and she didn't know how to feel. It was heaven. Without warning tears began to stream down the fair cheeks of the enslaved girl and she wept. She didn't know why. It just happened.

Terra frowned. "Skye, are you OK?"

She shook her head in the affirmative. The dark haired girl turned her head to Taylor. "Really, Terra. It's OK. Come here."

Terra stepped to the firefighter. Taylor held out her arms and motioned to the girl. Warily Terra moved into the arms that wrapped around her. They were strong safe arms. It frightened her at first and she felt confined. As she relaxed the apprehension faded and a glowing warmth filled her chest. She smiled and pulled Taylor closer. It felt wonderful and she never wanted to let go. *Who are these people?*

"Miss Taylor?" Terra moved away from her twin and looked at her intently.


"Can I..." She looked longingly at the woman Candace was holding. "Never mind."

"Terra? What is it you want? You may have anything we are able to give you." The firefighter waited for the request.

"Anything? Even if you think it's wrong." The young woman had a desperate need but a fear just as desperate held her tongue.

"Ask and I'll tell you." Taylor led her gently to her desire.


"I won't get angry. You really can trust us. Have we done anything to you yet?" Blue eyes softened into understanding.

"Well, no. But.."

Taylor's voice was soft and caring, "Terra, ask."

"I....may I. Ahhh. I don't know how to ask this." Frustration creased the brow of the tall former slave.

The blondes were now watching the struggle Terra was having with her thoughts and emotions. Skye leaned into Candace and enjoyed the contact. It was just like Gabrielle only real.

"Ter? What do you want?" Skye was concerned about her friend. She wanted to help her but didn't know how.

"I want to...." She held out her arms and looked at them. She didn't know the word for what she wanted. "Here." She pushed her arms out hoping to convey the message.

"Skye, she wants to hug you." Candace smiled.

"HUG me? What's that?"

Candace squeezed her shoulder slightly. "This was a hug. When two people hold each other."

"Oh no. We can't. It's not allowed." The blonde shook her head vehemently.

"Yes, Skye. You can. Go on." She gave the girl a slight prod to get her on her way.

Skye started toward Terra and turned to Candace for reassurance. She looked up at Taylor and found no ire there. She reached her soulmate and slid slowly into her arms. She doubted she would ever feel anything so wonderful again. Strong arms wrapped her up in a place filled with light. This was what she had missed all of her life and it made her sad. She was sad and happy at the same time. She cried again this time into the chest of the woman she loved, she just didn't know she loved her.

The taller young woman bent to the blonde. Speaking to the crown of her head she whispered, "Don't cry. Please don't cry. I never thought I would ever get to touch you and not die for it. You know what? I would have gladly died to touch you. Just like this. Shhh." She began a rocking motion she never learned. It was soothing to both. Terra looked up to the two women, now standing arm in arm, who would be their saviors. Tears lined her high cheekbones as well. She wanted to speak but couldn't find her voice.

"It's OK Terra. We know how you feel." Taylor was hushed in her tones.

"How could you know?" It was not an accusation. It was a real question spoken from the heart of a girl who didn't understand how they could possibly understand the joy she felt at the mere touch of the woman child in her arms.

"Terra, she makes you feel complete." Taylor responded and Candace put a protective arm around her lover's waist.


"We understand." Candace grinned knowingly.

Somehow she believed they did.


Taylor led her lover back to the table while the two girls reveled in each others embrace. They sat together quietly discussing the situation they were in.

"Candace, you're the expert here. What is going on?"

"I haven't got a clue. I am guessing that they are from the far future and it's not a promising one. They sure are cute together though." She smiled when she glanced over at them. It was obvious they never wanted to let go. It's as if they were trying to make up for a lifetime all at once. "But then again, so are we."

Taylor laughed at her partner's bravado and planted a sweet kiss on her soft lips. "I love you ya know."

"Right back attcha, goodlookin'." Candace kissed her lover again with a little more intent. The passion she felt when the firefighter kissed her lit a fire in her soul that no one could fight. She brushed a soft tongue along Taylor's lips causing a moan to escape the tall woman's throat. She could never begin to resist the allure of the temptress her lover was. If it were not for the dilemma they found themselves in at the moment the singer would take this woman right here on the table. Well, maybe not the table, but there were rooms available she was sure. It amazed her that though they had been together a relatively short time, the connection was as old as time. The same would soon be said for the two young women at the other end of the dining room.

The girls broke away from each other and looked back to Taylor and Candace to catch the interaction between the two. Both teens turned blushed brightly and turned their heads. It was one thing to be in the service of an owner it was another thing to witness affection between those of a higher station. Not to mention the fact that they were women. That was strictly forbidden in any caste.

"What do we do?" Skye's green eyes were wide with disbelief.

Terra smiled at her soulmate and shook her head. She had had the same thoughts more than once regarding the small blonde standing beneath her protective arm. "We don't do anything. This is a different place I think. Maybe such activity is normal here. Who are we to question?" Terra glanced over her shoulder and was impressed by the depth of emotion clearly emanating from the contact of the women now caring for them. "Turn around and look, Skye. It's wonderful."

The blonde head shook in staccato movements. She didn't want to witness anything she might have to testify to later. She didn't want to ever betray the mistresses who had shown her in a very short time more care than she had seen in a lifetime.

"No one is going to find out, Skye. Look at them. This is what love looks like."

Skye turned and watched the kiss deepen to just this side of passion. She couldn't watch anymore. She felt a warmth creep through her body with which she was unfamiliar. Her heart raced and her palms began to sweat. Soon her breathing caused her to hyperventilate. "Terra, I don't feel so good."

The taller girl felt the rapid beat of Skye's heart and noticed her sharp intakes of breath. "Come sit down." She led her to a nearby chair. "Put your head down." Terra's hands rubbed along her back. "What's wrong? Was it the food?"

"No." She was not going to tell Terra she couldn't handle watching the women kissing. She would think her a baby. *But heavens! Two women KISSING. What will they do next?* The mere thought of exactly what they could do started a whole new series of bodily reactions. The least of which was her own bout with desire. For the last couple of years she had learned how to suppress the urges she felt on the rare occasion. For some reason she couldn't control the waves that rushed through her limbs. The combination of actually seeing the act and Terra's touch on her skin was overloading her sensitive system. Slaves may be sexual slaves and used at any time, but they were usually bound hand and foot and violated at will. Never kissed or witness to such act. It was forbidden. Skye had been told of such things in secret at night when the owners couldn't hear, but to witness it first hand, caused a rush of so many emotions she couldn't list them all. Guilt, anger, glee, desire, shame and these were only the beginning.

"Skye, look at me."

Frightened emerald eyes sprinkled with gold were caught in the vast kindness that was poured down upon her from the depths of a blue ocean. Her heart rate calmed and her mind ceased it's frantic jumping. There was peace and love in those eyes and all she wanted was to live in that peace. "It's going to be okay. You're safe. For the first time in your life, you're safe."

"But Ter, did you see? Did you see?" Disbelief soaked her voice.

Softly Terra answered her friend, "Yes. I saw, Skye. It was wonderful." She sighed. For some reason she knew they were safe in the company of the older women. She had no real reason to trust them other than they had not punished or harmed them in anyway. But in the world from which they came, that would have been reason enough to lay down one's life in gratitude.

"You think so? I mean, really think so?" She wasn't sure if she thought it so wonderful. There were too many emotions she had to sort out before she would know exactly how she felt.

Understanding eyes peered softly to the younger girl. "Yeah, I really do. I have heard stories of love before. Legends and fairytales of a time when people could love each other no matter the sex or color of their skin. I had always dreamed of those times and now I see that the fairytales can come true. Skye, they love. Look again. See the way they look at each other?"

The blonde looked one more time. The kissing was over, Praise the Honored Powers, but the looks they shared were intense and filled with an emotion Skye couldn't yet fathom. "I see it Terra, but I don't understand it. I've heard of it but......well. The closest I can come is vague memories of my mother. The one I think was my mother. The one who cared for me when I was young, I call her my mother. Anyway, I can almost remember feelings of warmth and safety. Gabrielle, I felt safe with her. I....I feel safe with you."

Terra pulled Skye closer to her side. "Good. I want to keep you safe. I'd die trying."

"Don't say that Terra. I'm not worth it."

"You are worth everything to me, Skye. To think we are going to be separated is killing me inside. I.....I don't think I can live without you." Her head dropped and tears threatened to fall again. *What is wrong with me. I don't cry.*

The many years of conditioning were all that kept Skye from reaching out a comforting hand to her partner. She wouldn't touch her without permission regardless of where they thought they were. The small blonde was determined to be the very best slave these kind women had ever seen. She would not disappoint them. Maybe then she and Terra could remain together. "We can stay together if these two will allow it. We should ask them."

"Perhaps you are right. Come on."

An alarmed hand shot out, "Ter! You're not going over there NOW are you?"

Terra glance over at the two women who were sitting in quiet conversation. She contemplated and then gathered her courage. "Yes."

A deep breath and twelve steps later she was standing in front of Taylor and Candace, a shock of spiky blonde hair following close behind. Skye was so close to Terra she ran into the back of her when she stopped. The tall girl glanced back at the short blonde who blushed, shrugged and smiled up at Terra.

Taylor and Candace both grinned and looked softly at the confused girls. Terra and Skye put their heads down and waited for recognition.

"OK. One more time. You two are not in submission to us." Taylor stood up and put a gentle hand under both Terra's and Skye's chin, raising their gaze to level. "There. That's better. NOW, what's up?" She sat down and waited.

Again the girls looked to each other for courage. Skye nodded at Terra silently urging her on. "Mi....Ahhh. Taylor, we....uh....well...."

Taylor closed her eyes and shook her head. Years of training was not going to be erased in hour, that much is obvious. Candace put a cool hand on her arm giving a slight pat. That was her lover's 'be patient' pat. Serene emerald eye caught her and calm swept over her. Yes, the situation was frustrating but the challenge, in the end, would be well worth the reward. She remained silent waiting for the tall girl to speak her mind. There would be no more prodding.

Terra cleared her throat and tried again. The two women obviously expected them to be strong. She would do her best. "We ask, respectfully, that you not separate us."

"Why on Earth would we separate you?" Taylor was truly shocked.

"You are our new owners. It is your right to do so, but please, do not." She glanced quickly back at Skye who nodded her approval.

"Terra, Skye. Please, sit down." Candace motioned to the bench across from them.

*Please? She said please. To ME. To US!* They sat.

"Let's start again. Are you finished eating?" The blonde singer motioned to the food still sitting on the table.

Skye had a look of panic cross her face. If they didn't eat now perhaps there would be no food later. But, she wasn't hungry anymore. She had eaten more than she had ever had at one time.

Candace noted the look and reassured the girls, "You can finish it later or we can find you something else. There is one thing you do need to know Skye; you will have to eat meat of some kind here. When we travel, beans are a little heavy to carry and you will need protein of some kind. Maybe you will get used to eating fish."

Now Taylor was confused, "Travel? Where are we going?"

"Honey, can we talk about this later?" Big green eyes batted at her lover and she saw the woman surrender. She could hear the heavy sigh and the mental 'whatever' and smiled.

Skye ignored the conversation, "You could always just give me a nutrient capsule and I will be fine."

"You see, there's the problem. There are no pills here that can replace the vitamins and nutrients you will need to survive."

"Why not?"

Candace would try to make this as comprehensible as she could. "That is hard to explain. Listen, you are not where you were. Strange as it sounds you may be where you were just not WHEN you were."

"When we were?" Blue eyes squinted in confusion.

"Yeah. Let me ask you this. What is the year?"

"It's One hundred forty-seven years." Terra puffed out her chest. She was proud of her knowledge and her ability to provide information.

"One hundred forty seven?" This was getting stranger and stranger by the moment. Taylor shook her head again. All this head shaking was giving her whiplash.

"One hundred forty-seven years since what, Terra?" Candace asked the question her lover didn't know to ask.

"Well, since the beginning of winter." Terra answered questions as her blonde haired partner silently admired her knowledge and courage.

"Candace, are you following this?" Taylor tried to get it. She was very intelligent but Candace had a talent for making sense out of non-sense. With her it was intuition.

"I think so. Nuclear winter is what she means." Terra nodded the affirmative. "What was the year before winter?"

"Before winter was two thousand twelve."

"Oh my God. That means in twelve years there will be a nuclear holocaust that will change earth as we know it." Emerald eyes were wide with disbelief.

"Earth is no longer alive, but we all know the stories of its death."

"If earth is dead, where do you live?" Taylor was now beginning to follow the story line.

"We live in Santoz on the Mars colony. Isn't that where you live?"

"Not quite. Mars. They live on Mars. I've got a headache." The dark-haired woman closed her eyes and pinched her fingers over the bridge of her nose.

Skye walked up behind Taylor and placed soft hands on her. She began to massage the firefighters tense shoulders. Taylor's eyes flew open and she wanted to protest but was stopped with one look from her lover. Terra smiled at her soulmate. They were born to serve and with these women they would have no qualms about aiding in any way they could.

"Terra do you know the history of the winter coming?" Candace was just making educated guesses.

"You mean Creighton's rise." Skye spoke from behind Taylor. The tall woman had to admit the girl had a knack for relieving tension. If they could get around the sexual taboos of their culture, Terra would be one happy woman.

"Yes. Tell us about Creighton." Candace shrugged and figured it was as good a place as any to begin understanding where these precious girls came from.

Terra began the tale, "Well, it's a very short story. Earth was a wonderful global community where all people were basically one big family. Earth was divided into ten sections, each with it's own overseer. There was global economy. All weapons of mass destruction had been annihilated. Peace among nations. All the world and overseers under one magnificent leader. Santoz Creighton. History tells of an inner rebellion beginning with those closest to him. He ruled the rebellion with an iron fist making slaves of the men and overseer who would betray him. What no one knew was that Creighton himself had a massive stash of nuclear warheads. He also had access to world funds and was able to secret away science and space travel research centers. With all the credits of the world at his fingertips her had a plan an escape route. He had made slaves of an entire culture of people. I think they were called Amreicans, or Armicans..."


Terra looked at Candace in recognition of the name and continued.

"Yes, Americans, but only a portion. They were from......New....York? Yes. That's it. With the support of the other nine overseers, he removed all the people from the city they occupied and where he sent them no one knew. They were there and then they were gone. Millions of people disappeared. They were taken to a private center in the furthest reaches of the globe. From this place they were launched into space to the penal colony that had been built on the moon of Earth. They were 'trained', tortured really, to be servants and workers. We are their descendants. Back on earth, Creighton with a selected number of his followers, by the millions, evacuated the planet to the moon colony reserved for them as the kings of their new domain. From his new headquarters on the moon he ordered the bombing of several strategic locations, or so he thought. The dropping of the weapons created a chain reaction in several volcanic strings. Volcanic eruptions from all parts of the world destroyed what atmosphere may have remained. In his short sightedness he destroyed his own world. From the moon colony there was nowhere to go except further out into the system. The followers of Creighton blamed the destruction of earth on remaining rebels in hidden pockets of dissent. To them Creighton is a deity, to us he is a devil."

Candace and Taylor both sat in silence this was their future, a very near future, well near in the 2500 years in the future sense. It was more than grim. "Well, that's probably more than we really wanted to know. Thanks Terra." Taylor's sarcasm was not lost on Candace, but the tall girl was pleased with herself.

"You're welcome. Did I remember everything?" The girl was concerned with pleasing her new owners. She knew they were even if they didn't say it was so.

"We don't know, Terra. We are not from Mars." Candace told the truth softly.

Skye ceased her massage and looked at Candace very confused. "If you are not from Mars, where are you from?"

The blonde motioned to the younger girl, "Skye, have a seat. We all need to talk about a few things before we answer that."

Taylor whispered 'thank you' to Skye as the girl sat next to Terra. *Thank you? I'll never get used to this.*

"I want to know something that has nothing to do with any of this," Candace glanced over at her soulmate and furrowed her brows. *Where is she going with this?* Taylor pushed her thigh against the blonde in reassurance and continued, "How old are you?"

Candace smiled. *Good question.*

Skye spoke up first, "I am nine."

"And I am ten."

"How is that possible? You look much older." Taylor thought perhaps the girls were confused but once again her partners intuitive talent reared its head.

"They mean Mars years. That would make Terra," Doing the math in her head, "....... about 19 almost twenty, depending on the month and Skye is...carry the......minus....17 could be 18. That's about right." They still looked younger but maybe the lack of pollution and radiation from the sun was a factor in that.

"What kind of years are those?" Skye's brows furrowed tightly in bewilderment.

"Those my dear, are earth years." Candace smiled at her younger twin.

"Why earth years?" Now Terra was confused.

"I know this is going to sound farfetched.." All she got was an odd look. "Different word..... unbelievable, it will sound unbelievable, but we are from earth."

"Not to argue with you Miss Candace, but you can't be. Earth is dead. I have seen pictures and we know the history." Terra allowed a glimpse of her deeply buried warrior spirit to arise.

Taylor smiled at the girl. *YES! There is hope!*

Candace rebutted the statement of the tall girl, "I don't know how to explain this to you any better so I'm going to use the truth. We are from earth one hundred and fifty nine years in the past. Your past. The year is 2000 where we....well when we are from."

Blank stares followed her statement. Terra raised one eyebrow as high as it would go and turned to Skye who shrugged and raised both eyebrows.

Candace couldn't help but smile at the idiosyncrasies the girls shared with their counterparts. It was an interesting study. So different and yet so much in common. "Really, we're not lying. On top of that YOU are no longer on Mars and we are all in a different time in history all together."

Terra laughed. "Next you're going to tell us that there are birds here." She turned to Taylor with a smile on her lips.

"Well, there are." Taylor the consummate smartass received a 'look' from her lover at her comment.

"Terra, I think they're....ya know..." Skye put a finger to her temple and drew circles in the air.

Taylor raised a warning eyebrow at the girls who were silenced by the look. "We know what that means, Skye. Rest assured we are not crazy. Well.......maybe in occasion, but this is not one of those times. I didn't believe it either until I looked out the window. We are in what is known as ancient Greece. Warlords, thugs, sorcery, Gods, Kings."

More blank stares accompanied the tolerance the girls were showing. They may be nice, but these two would end up in a facility somewhere very soon. *Why would they live in grease?*

Candace slapped the table with both hands and stated abruptly, "Come on! Everyone up. We're going outside." Candace stood to her feet pulling her lover with her.

Both the girls turned pale. "OUTSIDE? You mean 'outside' outside? Like O-u-t-s-i-d-e outside?"

"Is that a problem, Ter?" Taylor was lost again.

"Well, yes Miss. It is. Uuuuuh. It's just that...well...outside... you die. In the outside outside. Of course if you have a safesuit, it's OK, but slaves aren't allowed to have them. Are you trying to kill us?"

"Heavens no, Terra. Where we are going you won't need safesuits. You might want your sunglasses though." Candace pointed to the table where the girls had placed their shades.

Terra shook her head and picked up both pairs handing one to the blonde next to her. *Sunglasses. They want us to walk out into zero atmosphere in sunglasses. Oh yeah. That'll work.* She couldn't argue with them, but she did have one request, "May Skye remain here......that's is until I see that it's.......safe." She knew she was about to die and if she could see to Skye's safety then she would die happy. Well maybe not 'happy', but her soulmate would be safe and that was close enough.

Taylor started to protest until Candace took her aside for a quick chat.

"Sweetheart, if it were me and some strange women wanted to take us out into the great unknown where we think we would die for sure, what would YOU do?"

"Good point." Turning back to the young women she nodded her approval and was rewarded with a bright white smile.

"Powers bless you, Taylor. I give you my thanks."

"You can thank me when you have smelled a rose for the first time."

"A rose?"

"You'll see." And a wide knowing grin crept across her face.



Continued - Part 2


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