Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to
MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights is intended.
Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains references to a loving relationship between two consenting adults, who happen to be of the same sex. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.
Violence Disclaimer: This story contains scenes of graphic violence.
Shock Factor: Lets just say that Plan D #21 isnt going to be lucky for anybody. People are gonna get hurt and possibly worse, so youve been warned.
Note: This story is in segments, due to its size.
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Enjoy, I hope.
Written by FlyBigD
Two hours after they started, the Royal House of Ungara were circling around square one. So far, nothing had shown up in either set of Archives to point to a possible suspect and they couldnt find any significance for the Palace itself. According to everything they found, it was just a palace, nothing more. It had been carved out of the mountain by members of the clans, as they left the world outside to live in the forest. Ungara himself had had nothing to do with its construction, or design. In fact, hed never even been physically inside the Palace. Even with its proximity to the Palace of the Ancients, the Palace of the King was just the house next door. Ungaras power set the base for the protection from outside gods, like Ares, but T had removed that when she let him out of the cave. Now, virtually anybody could traipse up to the throne and say hi. So the reason for Ts apparent removal from her home was lost on all parties concerned.
The other complete mystery was the person behind the plan. The faceless power that was pulling strings like a master puppeteer was still just that. Faceless and nameless. The ability to limit Ts power should not have been possible. There were no references to anyone ever having sway over the Ancients and therefore the power to hold T in check was something that didnt show up either. Her mortal birth was the only hold out for a clue. If the Ancients power had been tainted when their blood was put into Ts body, then maybe somebody could do what was happening, but again it was the rarest of possibilities. TPTB couldnt beat her combined and that left only a stray god here and there that might want to take her on. Yet, none of those showed up as having enough power accomplish what was going on. They might be able to hold Ares in check, but not T. The facts were clear. No one god had ever been as strong as Ungara had been when hed taken his brothers powers and their souls to meld with his, so by default, that made T the most powerful god in existence. Not just alive, but ever.
So, here they were, back at square one and huddled around a couple of computers for guidance with the stray ideas popping into their heads. Here also, in his little corner of the wall was Ungara himself, which meant that T was typing a lot more than regularly scheduled. Listening to her friends voice their questions and comments from the wall, she knocked out her responses, communicating in Greek with the American side, via their electronic loophole. She also sent Ungaras responses, since he could hear what the trio were saying too, but was in the same boat of not being able to talk back. So clawed fingers moved constantly, sending her thoughts, answering questions and translating Ungaras into Greek for their benefit, which wasnt necessary, and she did unconsciouly.
"Okay." Holding up her hands, Gabrielle pushed the two tanned faces out of her personal space. "Just give me some air. I cant think with you two breathing down my neck." Rotating her head from side to side, she emphasized her agitation with a glare to each. Taking a deep breath, she let it out slowly and sat back. As she did a message popped up on the screen. [So the who and the how still arent there. Dont worry about it. Theres more than one way to skin a moose. Just forget those two and lets try something else. How about what, or why?] Sighing heavily, she nodded. "Okay. What about why?" [Hmmmm. Why me? Why you? Why now? I find it hard to believe that any god has the patience to wait for me to become pregnant to make a move. Maybe theres another time frame involved that were not seeing. Maybe it has more to do with what could have happened today in the past that has set the wheels turning? Are the stars aligned? Are there sun spots that only wakes somebody up every five thousand years? Stuff like that.]
"Thats not bad." Nodding from a safe distance away, Xena tapped her cheek. "Can you get a cross reference of dates?" Speaking to both the bard and T, she watched the screen.
"That would be tough." Shaking her head, the bard drummed her fingers lightly on the keys. "The calendar has changed over time and the dates may not match up. Todays date may show up as a different day and a different month the further back you go. The Julian calendar we use today didnt come about until our little friend was in power."
Snarling, the warrior rolled her eyes. "Oh, yea. I keep trying to forget about him."
[Needless to say, your little friend wasnt appreciated in my neck of the woods, if memory serves.]
"Honey, youre digressing." Ares smiled.
[Butt faced piss ant and Xena wonders about my choice in men! Ha!]
"Okay, okay. Lets not even go down that road." Shaking her head, Gabrielle held a hand up over her shoulder to stop any remark that might come from the warrior princess. Hearing a low growl, but nothing more, she let out a breath. "Okay, whats todays date on the Ungaran calender?"
[Well, youre not on my today yet, so well go with both dates. Its Kalay 23 for me and the 22nd for you.]
"T? Can you do a search of the entire Archives database and just pull up dates?" Ungara asked her.
"Itll take time." Glancing up at the face on her wall. "Virtually every day from the dawn of time is recorded in the Archives. Even if I just use those two dates, well still end up with thousands of entries to go through." Typing while she spoke, she sent off the translation to the trio.
"How long will it take to pull up the entries?" Ares asked and checked the clock on the computer.
Blowing out a puff of air, T did some mental calculations. [An hour minimum. Thats not counting how long its going to take to read the entries.]
"Can you split it? Do chunks, so that it will take less time to get something back? That way we can be checking one section while another is compiling?" Xena asked and leaned next to the bard for the answer.
[Sure. Ill do five hundred year intervals and send them out as they come in. Itll still take time, but its worth a shot.]
"Do it." Gabrielle nodded. "Ill print out what comes up and we can split them here too."
[Im on it.]
"While shes doing that, can we check some of the other whys?" Sitting in the chair hed brought around the desk an hour before, Ares stared at the bard. "I think its called multi-tasking?"
"The system will be slow, but yea." Turning, she gave him a smile. "What why did you have in mind?"
"Why her?" He said without hesitation.
"Thats going to be a waste of time, Ares." Shaking her head, the warrior stood upright. "T doesnt have any enemies and if she does, I dont think theyd show up in the Ungaran Archives, ya know?"
"Not necessarily, Xena." Gabrielle countered. "If we were to do a search for Ts name in books that she didnt write, somebody else might have written something significant. It doesnt have to be hate mail to be helpful." Giving Ares a wink, she began typing.
Smiling gratefully, the God of War sat back in the chair.
"Gabrielle, shes been King for over two thousand years." Sighing, the warrior shook her head. "Every Ungaran since then has probably written something about her. Youll end up with the friggin Library of Congress if you leave it that broad."
"Okay, Ill just reference from the date of her birth to say, five hundred years past that?" Looking up at her wife.
Looking down at a pair of tired green eyes, Xena held up her hands a foot apart and brought them together slowly.
"Three hundred?" Her fingers hovering over the keys in anticipation.
"Try a hundred and well go from there." Shaking her head again, she sat down in her chair and scooted it closer.
"One hundred." Sounding disappointed, Gabrielle did the required typing then hit return to begin the compiling process.
Humming the theme to Jeopardy, the warrior got slapped by the bard and stopped. Then she fidgeted in the chair and got slapped. Then she fell asleep and got slapped, but this time it was because the results had come back. "What?"
Staring at the amount of pages for the file, the bard sighed. "Holy shit. She is popular isnt she?"
"I couldve told you that." Ares mumbled.
"Youre biased and shut up." Slapping his knee, Xena twitched her nose. "Well, go for it." Giving the bards chair a nudge. "Lets start from the day she was born."
Scrolling down through 683 pages, Gabrielle held down the key as the entries flew by. After an eternity, she finally reached the first entry and stared wide eyed. "I think we found part of the why T."
Frowning, the god arched an eyebrow. What?
"Todays your birthday." Xena whispered.
[No its not. My birthday isnt until next month.]
"Well, according to Treyma, you were born today, two thousand, three hundred and fifty-two years ago." Shaking her head, the bard stared at the screen. "Hes got it written down on this date and says . . . that . . . you were born under the moon of Breshka in the time when the stars wept and the sun cursed its existence. Whens the moon of Breshka?"
"Its all this week." Ungara mentioned. "And shes right. This is your birthday. Treymas journal is the only correct record of the date. All the other entries were dated later to put Lavius off the trail, in case he came to the Palace."
"Now, you tell me this?" Staring at the corner of the wall in astonishment, T rolled her eyes. "Ive been celebrating the wrong day for over two thousand years and youre just now getting around to making the correction?"
"Im old." The Ancient said in his defense.
"Well, Im no spring chicken either and Ive got all my marbles." Sighing in disbelief, she closed her eyes. "I can not believe this."
"Hello! Anybody home?" Tapping the monitor, Xena tried to get an answer to the question. "Whens the Breshkan moon?"
Opening her eyes, T typed a response. [Well, according to Ungara, you owe me a card, a present, cake, ice cream and Ive been celebrating the wrong day since before I knew what the hell a birthday was!]
"Oops." Wincing, the warrior went back to her seat.
"Hold on." Waving his hand, Ares cut in. "If nobody knew, what difference does it make?"
"Good point." Nodding, Gabrielle began reading the entry.
"Yea. Is there anybody still alive that knew the right date?" Xena asked the air.
T looked at Ungara. "Well?"
"All of the Ancients, the remaining Olympians and some of TPTB, but like Ares and Aphrodite, they didnt even know you existed, so they are unlikely to be aware of the forgery." Giving her an apologetic smile.
Sending the information over, the god puzzled at her new birthday. "And me without a party hat." Leaving this blurb out of the message.
"Basically every god still in existence." Nodding sarcastically, the warrior smacked her forehead. "That narrows it down to the same list we started out with."
"Were trapped at square one." Ares bemoaned and sat back.
"Youre going over like a lead balloon, Ungara." Shaking her head, T sighed. "You drop anymore points in the polls and were gonna have to see about getting a new you." She warned with a smile.
He found it unamusing and suddenly realized what everyone had been complaining about for so long. "Your humor escapes me."
"Dont worry. Ill catch it for ya." Flicking her eyebrows, she typed something into the computer and waited. Suddenly there was loud laughter echoing through the room. "They get it."
"And Id like to get back to the business at hand." Using his best King of the Ancient Gods tone.
Rolling her eyes, T smiled amicably. "Speaking of which." Seeing the first file from her search come up, she saved it and sent it off to America. [Heres the first five hundred years. Enjoy.]
"Dammit, T. I was reading." Having the entries shed pulled up overridden, the screen now held the ones T sent.
[Sorry, Gabrielle. Do you want it back?]
"Yes." Nodding, she held up a finger. "Wait. Let me spool this first." Moving the mouse around, she sent the file to the printer. "Okay, send it back."
[There ya go.]
"Thanks." Smiling, the bard went back to reading.
"Okay, Ares. Break open that new package of paper and lets get this showboat on the river." Checking the reservoir, Xena held out her hand. When a stack of paper was placed in it, she loaded it into the printer. "All right, baby. Do your thang."
Holding the freshly opened package on his lap, Ares waited. Watching the sheets come out one by one, he drummed his fingers and checked the clock on the computer.
"Well make it." Gabrielle whispered and turned to pat his knee. "Well find something."
"I know." Nodding, he felt the same way he had when the couple had been trying to find out what was wrong with T when she first got pregnant. It was the waiting that did him in. He just wasnt built for it and even with Ts calm influence, he still suffered from the need to do something almost all the time.
Seeing the state his was in, Xena took mercy on Ares and handed him the first set of pages that had come out. "Here."
Grabbing them like a child being handed a candy bar, the God of War smiled and began reading in earnest.
Smiling to herself, Gabrielle gave the warrior a wink and a silent thanks.
Shrugging, she blew it off as a whim, then she gave him a sidelong glance and saw the pages being turned over at a rapid rate. "Gods." She grumbled and gathered up the next few pages to hand over.
Taking them without looking, Ares continued to read what happened on that day for the first five hundred years of recorded time. Whipping through the pages, his eyes moved from side to side, as he devoured each entry. Slapping another page over, he sat up straight and pulled it back to read it again.
Xena noticed this and leaned over to read what hed brought back. "What?"
"Did you know that Ungara and Dahok are twins?" Frowning, he held up the paper for her to see.
Hearing the name, Gabrielle went rigid in her chair. "What?"
"Ungara and Dahok are twins." The warrior repeated and read the page. "It shall come to pass, when the earth in its own time chooses, that the world will know the birth of the light and the darkness. The moon will cast no shadow and the stars will weep at the loss of their own and the sun will curse its existence at the brilliance born that day. The sons of the heavens will rain down to be born in the visage of their stars. The darkness will run true to its calling and the fickle light will dance among the clouds. In the shadows all will know this day and will remember it for the eternity to come, when the world will shudder in its wake and will send forth a plume of brilliance. This day, Dahok will rise from the earths womb to encompass the sky and Ungara will play among the stars of his origin. Light and Darkness will turn in the heavens for the eternity to come and will be remembered in its time."
Staring in disbelief, the bard began scrolling downward again, until she came across Treymas entry. "T was born in the time when the stars wept and the sun cursed its existence." Speaking just above a whisper, she shook her head. "T! Is a Breshka moon a new moon?"
"Yes." Ungara nodded without having to be asked directly.
"Ungara, whens your birthday?" Scrolling back up, she was searching for something she hoped would turn out to be wrong.
"Tomorrow." Xena said, reading the message from T.
"Whats up?" Setting the rest of the pages aside, Ares scooted his chair closer.
"Ill let you know in a minute." Watching the dates go by, she slowed down and began to check closely. Still moving forward in time, she came across the date T died, which was the same day Dahok died. Feeling the dread starting up from her toes, she pushed everything off her desk calendar to find the date. Checking back, she found a little black moon right next to todays date. "Its a new moon."
"Yea, so?" Leaning over the bard, the warrior looked at the calendar.
Swiveling her chair around, Gabrielle faced the God of War. Keeping her voice as soft as possible, she stared into his eyes. "Ares, where was Dahoks lair when he died? It wasnt in Greece, was it?"
Ares shook his head. "No."
"Then how come it only took us two days to get back to the beach, when we were bringing Ts body back?" Trying to hold his eyes, she watched them lower. "And how did the lair opening show up so close to the Inn? Why did you want us to believe it was in Greece?"
"Because I sealed the real one." He said softly. "When you two were taking care of Ts body, I moved us all without you knowing it and opened up a hole in the crust, just like the one at the foot of the volcano."
Frowning, the warrior knelt down in front of him. "How? Why?"
"Because he didnt want anybody to be able to find the real lair." Gabrielle smiled sadly.
"I didnt want anybody coming back there to bring Dahok back to life." Nodding, he looked up at Xena. "T knew where the lair was all the time and I knew because I sided with him, but other than that only Ungara shouldve known. I dont even think his brothers know."
"But why?" Confused, she turned to the bard. "Hes dead. T killed him. Even Drennan thought he was dead."
"And I thought Hope was dead when I gave her the poison and I thought she was dead when I took her into the lava pit, Xena. And I bet if I check the records, Ill find that she came out of her cocoon on the same day." Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Dahok was Hopes father. Maybe they have a cycle of rebirth, like the way we go through the Karmic circle?"
"But Hope needed help to come back. She used Callisto." Shaking her head, Xena didnt want to believe. "Nobody would bring Dahok back and why now? Its been too long."
"Shes pregnant." Ares suggested with dread in his heart. "Maybe he wants the baby?"
"Or, maybe he just wants revenge." Gabrielle added. "Does it really matter?"
"Yes." Nodding fervently, the warrior stood. "Yes it does and I want to know why hes back now and why he wants T to leave the Palace." Turning around, she looked at the screen. "Ungara! Why would Dahok want T out of the Palace?" Leaning on the desk, she stared at the screen, willing the answer to come across.
In the chambers, the question echoed around the room, but there was nobody there to translate the answer. The couch was empty and Ungara had disappeared from the wall.
Upon hearing Dahoks name whispered, T hadnt needed to rationalize whether or not it was him. Almost as soon as his name was spoken shed felt the truth in her heart, just as she could feel her child moving inside her body and she didnt need to know how, or why hed come back. All she needed to know was that the destiny she though shed fulfulled two thousand years before, had been false. The Evil shed slain was alive. Growling low, shed transformed her pajamas into her old baggy outfit shed worn thousands of years before. Along with the clothes, shed donned the king outfit underneath as well, with all the accessories and weapons. So, by the time Xena called out, the King of the Ungara was long gone and on her way to the line of fire burning just beyond the river. Gone to fulfill her destiny once more.
Walking alone along the path, her steps were measured and steady. The sword at her back felt solid and the smell of smoke was giving her purpose. As she went, the invisible battle line moved with her. That barrier reaching out from her sides that were the allowable limits for someone to cross before dying. And he would die. Dahok would die again and shed fulfill her destiny once more. No one would cross the battle line. No Ancient evil god, no flame, no cinder. This time there would be no coming back.
When Ungara saw T leave, hed taken off at a run. Careening down the marble halls of his home, hed run like the world depended on it, which it did. But he wasnt going to stop his King, that would be useless. Hed seen her eyes and knew there was no stopping T now, but he did hold out one chance and came through the doors of his Palace without missing a stride. Without his power, he struggled to keep up the pace. After so many thousands of years inside those walls, hed lost his edge. His physical limitations were great under the strain of mortality, but he pressed on. Passing trees and stumbling over shrubs, he used his ancient memory to find Ts Palace. The promenade looked like it went on forever as it came into view and his pounding heart threatened to burst. His lungs burning, he looked in desperation for the steps that would signal a near end to his journey. Sweat poured off his body and drenched his tattered clothes, then finally a thin white line appeared in the distance and he opened his mouth to send saliva off his face as he pumped his legs to the end of their endurance. As the line came closer, his eyes focused his body toward it, giving over conscious effort to let it become a second thought.
Falling over the steps, Ungara crawled upward like a child. Taking each with a kick of his leg and reaching for the next with his hands. Step after step he moved upward, seeing the Palace for the first time in his immortal life and not seeing it at all. Reaching the promenade, he spotted the next obstacle and ran for it. Up the stairs to the balcony, he was so exhausted that he had to crawl to the doors and drag himself inside. The cool air from outside was gone and the heat seemed to steal what little air he could breathe. Stumbling to his feet, he found the box that T had used and gave it a stare as sweat dripped from his forehead to land on the keys. Ignoring the chaos on the wall, he typed one sentence, then found something that looked right and touched it. Collapsing into a heap on the floor, he passed out and never knew if the message had gotten though.
"Move!" Xena shouted and swung open the door to the garage. Stepping inside, she flipped on the light and found the remote. Slamming her fist onto the open button, she heard footsteps behind her. "Ares, take yours. Gabrielle and I are taking Ts." Pointing to the two pitch black motorcycles sitting beside the bombshell, she grabbed the keys off a peg board and tossed the God of War his, without looking back.
Catching the keys, Ares was one step ahead of the bard and didnt wait for her catch up. Zeroing in on his old Harley, he was on it before the door was all the way up and had it cranked when Gabrielle finally made it in.
"Come on." Shouting over the rumble, the warrior waved to Gabrielle. "Youre with me."
Pulling on the leather jacket Ares had provided, she took a deep breath and waited for the warrior to start the bike. When she did, Gabrielle took her place behind Xena and wrapped both arms around her waist tightly.
"Just hold on." Xena shouted and dropped the black monster into first. "Ares, follow me and when you feel something, honk."
Nodding, the God of War revved his engine and put his bike in gear.
Giving the bard a glance, the warrior pointed to the foot pegs and waited for two feet to get a good hold. "Ready?"
Her eyes closed, Gabrielle nodded and squeezed harder with her arms.
Popping the clutch, Xena squealed out of the garage kicking up a trail of dust. Leaning hard, she didnt slow down to make the turn onto the drive and gunned the throttle as she shifted gears.
Ares was right behind and to the left. Using his powers, which still worked, he checked the highway for traffic and found a single car coming and blew out its tire. "Thats one."
Hitting the highway like she had the drive, the warrior chose to go left because it was straighter and didnt have any traffic lights or stop signs for at least twenty miles. Leaning down over the gas tank, she pulled the bard with her and had to squint to keep the air from snatching her eyes out of their sockets. Winding the engine to top gear and the throttle open, she didnt look at the speedometer, because it didnt matter. All that mattered was getting out of range of Dahoks power base and getting Ares his power back. Then it was a quick trip to Greece and the forest.
Her head buried in Xenas back, Gabrielle had it turned sideways. The rush of wind was making her hair sting her skin, but she couldnt risk moving. One false shift and the bike would go off course and theyd die before they could get to T. Thats what she was concentrating on. Getting to T. They had to reach her before she got to Dahok and Ungaras message had said only five words. Shes gone to face Dahok. Thats all it had taken to get them back to their original plan. There was no more time to figure out what he wanted and how he got here. No more time for guess work. They had to get to T and either stop her, or save her. They were ready for both, because each required the same thing. Weapons and they were loaded for war. Slung over one shoulder was a pump shotgun and there was a semi-automatic in Ares jacket and of course the old reliables, but whatever it took, theyd use it.
His front wheel only a foot from Xenas Ares didnt need his headlight to see. Having every power but the one he needed most, the God of War was aiming at something unseen. Something so far away that itd take a telescope to spot. In his mind he imagined the figure of a woman, heavy with his child walking to face the person he loathed. He could see the flames and he could smell the fire, as the wind beat against his face. Reaching out with his senses he tried to touch her with his mind, to reinforce his need. He needed T, like the soul he possessed. She was his life and there was no going back to living without her.
Inside the chambers, Ungara came into consciousness with the feeling of something, wet and rough on his face. Moving away from it, he opened his eyes to a blurred image of something huge. Blinking the cobwebs away, he looked again and smiled. "Bud!" Still panting hard from his run, his voice didnt reflect his enthusiasm.
Nudging him with his nose, Bud tried to get Ungara to sit up.
Holding up his hand, the Ancient shook his head. "Bud, I cant go anymore. Youve got to get to T, before she gets to Dahok. You cant let her face him alone." Grabbing the fur on the side of his face, he looked deep into a pair of golden eyes. "Take the Crown to her, Bud. Protect her." Letting him go, Ungara laid back down.
Giving him a sneeze, Bud grabbed the Crown off the table and knocked Aphrodite and Cargan down going out the door.
"What the?" Finding himself under the Goddess of Love, Cargan tried not to touch anything.
"Hey. Isnt that one of the old guys?" Rolling off the Captain, she pointed to the limp body in front of the couch.
"Old guys?" Getting to his feet, he took two steps and nodded. "Ungara!" Thinking a moment, Cargan turned around. "Follow Bud!"
"But these are new shoes!" Calling after him, Aphrodite stomped her new shoe and huffed. "All I can say is if I break a nail, somebodys going to get hurt." Spinning around, she strutted out the door, leaving the helpless Ancient unconscious once more.
"Follow Bud." The Captain called again, but not to the goddess. He called to the uniformed guards at the bottom of the steps. "Move!" Running past them, he just caught sight of the tiger heading into the trees. Bounding down the steps off the promenade, he was proving that age had nothing to do with shear determination, when it came to speed.
As the small pack of Royal Guards disappeared into the trees, a much larger group appeared at the far end of the promenade. Unseen to Aphrodite as she fluttered down the steps, they were coming at a fast pace and in an organized formation. Chanting low, Ungaras brothers were coming up the side of the Palace, running in step and armed. Each with their ancient weapons of choice, they hustled forward and were being joined by furred and feathered alike. Out of the trees and out of the sky came the ensigns. Wolf, hawk, eagle, bear, fox, leopard, lion and over a hundred more. They had filed out of the Palace of the Ancients right behind their namesakes and were keeping pace with the squadron of gods.
Seeing the flames through the trees, T felt the heat as well. Its warmth danced across her face and hands and heated the leather she wore. The blaze lit up the forest in an eerie orange glow that flickered shadows from behind every tree. Her eyes scanned the flames for a shadow of their own. A form hidden in the light. One that would be watching and waiting. Feeling his presence, Ts eyes changed to match the tips of the flame in a golden reflection. Her heart beat a steady slow rhythm, she was calm and focused. Stepping ever closer, she was in line with the bridge and saw the flames creeping ever closer. "Thats far enough." She told them and their master. Coming out of the trees, she stepped onto the wooden structure with a sure stride and walked to the center, where she stopped. Drawing the sword from her back, she felt the pain start in her abdomen and put it aside once more, to call for her immortal enemy. "Dahok!" Her voice a booming against the wall of flames, she growled low and snarled, showing her extended fangs. Scanning the flames, she called again and heard a low laugh. Snapping her head in the direction it was coming from, T could barely make out the form shed been looking for. Inside the fire, buried and covered by the inferno was Dahok and he was laughing. "It ends here, Dahok. Your tendrils have eaten their last bit of Ungaran soil."
"Are you so quick to die, Daughter of Ungara?" Laughing again, he moved sideways and watched her follow his path. "Do you wish to fulfill your destiny like your father before you? Another false King to paint their blood on the water?"
"My father didnt fulfill his destiny and no Kings blood has touched this river. My father died as a father, for his daughter. Not as a King for his people." Following him with her eyes, she saw him stop to face her. Watching the flames closely, she saw them change his expression, as his face took on the flickering essesence of a smile.
"Wise words." Laughing again, he stayed put and considered her. "Tell me, how will you die today?"
"As I died before. After you do." Almost smiling, she didnt hear a laugh this time.
"Hmmm. So different, this one is." Taking a step forward, he stayed within the fire. "Where is the rage? Where is the fury?"
"Didnt you get the memo?" Letting more of smile a out, she used it to mask the pain shooting through her body. "Rage and fury went out with hoola-hoops."
"I see that your powers have made you over confident, Daughter of Ungara." His own smile back, he took another step and stopped.
"What powers?" Tilting her head, she held up her sword to give it a look. "Oh, you mean this? Yea, it does kinda feel pretty good." Twisting her wrist, she spun it in her hand, sending golden reflections of the fire back at their master. "Ive missed this old thing."
A roll came from Dahok, but it wasnt laughter it was his own growing fury. This time he took two steps and stopped with both feet on the bridge, out of the fire. Drawing his sword, the Evil one put on a little show of silver. "Do you mock me?"
"Why would I want to mock you? Youre already as ugly as a mud fence. What good would it do to call you names?" As he came closer, the shots of pain were changing into a continuous agony and it was taking nearly everything she had not to let it show. Just hold on Junior, she thought, Ill try to make this quick. Taking a deep breath, she smiled bigger, showing more of her fangs and hoped she could get him moving with this one. "You know, Dahok. Drennan said the exact same thing. Just before he went boom."
Roaring, Dahok shot forward raising his sword and swinging in a wide arc aimed at her head.
Ducking down, T lost her smile as the battle began and let the blade pass over while she swung hers up at his middle, grazing his burgundy flesh, sending a trickle of black downward.
This enraged the Evil even more and he continued his charge, swinging in a vertical arc to split her in half.
Bringing her sword up, she crossed his blade with her own and held the silver sword just above her head, pushing upward with her arms as she tried to get her legs in a better position. Straining against the force, she felt something break and a hot rush of liquid run down the inside of her legs. "Noooooo." Pushing up and forward in a mighty thrust, she drove Dahok back. Using her powerful legs she continued to gain momentum and speed then shoved hard again when they reached the apex of the bridge and sent the Evil tumbling back as she herself stumbled a step. Unable to hide her pain, T bent over and saw the trail of water where shed just been. Panting heavily, she straightened and gritted her teeth.
Gaining his balance, Dahok held his sword at the ready as she bent over and waited for the perfect moment. As she straightened again, he called up a ball of blue power and sent it thundering out of his hand.
T caught it directly in the chest and was thrown to the far side of the bridge, where she landed in a thud of pine needles and dust. Still holding her sword, all she could feel was pain and each breath she took brought it on stronger. Raising her head, she couldnt move anymore and stared at him with red eyes.
Laughing loudly, he raised his sword above his head, then lowered it to point at the fallen enemy. "You cannot stand against the power of Dahok, Daughter of Ungara. Your child has robbed you and you no longer posses the power to defeat me. Everything you gave up for the safety of your child, youve lost. I have watched and waited for the transfusion to be complete and now it has. Youre not a god any longer and now, you will die and I will have your child to take the place of the one you took from me." Lowering his sword he took a couple of steps then stopped when a sound came from behind the flames. Turning around, he stared at his own wall, while the sound got louder and he roared nearly as loud as the two black Harleys that came through the fire like a bullet and went airborne on the bridge. His eyes wide, he missed the two bodies somersaulting over head and was hit by the first bike dead center and went tumbling back under he impact.
Landing on her feet, Xena rolled with the fall. Taking Gabrielle to the ground, she just caught sight of Ares landing his motorcycle directly on top of the one shed ridden and Dahok, crushing the god beneath the combined force and she heard him gun the engine and the Evil scream as rubber squealed against flesh. Getting onto all fours, she scrambled toward the prone form of her friend. "T!."
Laying her head back T closed her eyes. "Xena! The baby! Save the baby!"
Right behind the warrior, the bard was next to T in a flash and cradling her head in her lap. "Xena?"
Moving around to her legs, the warrior could see that the leather pants were darker on the inside than the outside. "Your water broke. We gotta you out of here."
Shaking her head violently, the god opened her eyes. "No. I wont leave. I have to fulfill my destiny. Cut them open. Just cut them open and save the baby."
"T, no." Shaking her own head, Gabrielle tried to lift her friends shoulders, so she could pick her up. "Xena get her legs."
"No!" Kicking hard, T sent the warrior back and she brought her legs up to form a ball as the contraction got stronger. Growling and groaning, she white-knuckled her hold on her sword. "Save my baby!"
Holding her shoulder, Xena came back and gave the bard a look. "Its now or never."
Pounding the ground with her fist, Gabrielle nodded. "Do it."
Nodding back, the warrior pulled a dagger from her boot and yanked on Ts leg. It came down with some effort then relaxed and she placed it to one side. "T relax."
Using all her concentration, the god focused on the warriors voice and let her other leg down slowly. Grabbing the ground with her free hand she dug her claws in to the soil, digging up a handful with white knuckles.
Cutting as carefully as possible, Xena made a slit in the leather crotch and brought it up until the tautness of Ts muscles pulled the material away to expose another piece of dark green leather.
While this was going on, Ares was torturing Dahok with all his might. Using his body weight to hold the Harley upright, he had the throttle full open and was spinning the tire on any piece of skin he could see.
Roaring in anguish and anger, Dahok took hold of the frame on his chest and shoved upward, sending both motorcycles back and the God of War tumbling toward the three women.
But Ares didnt stay down, he was up in a heartbeat, with his sword in his hand and charged the Evil before he could get to his feet. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaa." Swinging downward, he drove his sword into Dahoks shoulder and got knocked back again, but held onto his sword, pulling it away covered in a black ooze. Spinning his blade, he charged again driving his shoulder into a burgundy waist, before the god was fully upright and shoved him backward, taking them both back over the bridge and away from T.
Raising his sword, Dahok drove the pommel into Ares back with a loud snap. Forcing the god to release his hold and crumble to the ground. Letting loose a roaring laugh, he kicked the body at his feet. "You were always weak, Olympian. Just like all of your kind."
Looking up, the God of War felt another kick to his ribs and rolled with it. Out of range, he dragged himself to his feet, using the railing for aide and stumbled his way back to the center to block Dahoks advance. "Id rather be a speed bump, than road kill." Smiling, he laughed and sent a trail of blood down his chin. Pointing with his sword, he chuckled at the torn and oozing flesh that had been ripped off by burning rubber. Moving his eyes, he saw the flames and felt their heat, noted that they werent as high as they were before.
Raging again, the Evil stepped forward a snarl on his face and brought his sword up to decapitate the laughing traitor. "You will die now!"
Ducking, Ares moved to the side then caught him in the middle with a kick. Bringing his sword around in the same motion, he just missed slicing a gash in Dahoks side when he stepped back. Growling, the God of War pushed off the railing and kept coming. Trying to get his momentum back, he wielded his sword like a mad man, driven on by the sounds behind him.
"Push, T." Her hands in between the split leather, Xena could see something. "Come on, push! I know those washboard abs are underneath there somewhere, now push!"
Ts legs came up as the hands on her back helped her to move upward. Straining, the veins stood out on her neck and she felt her middle being ripped apart. Taking a deep breath, she held it and continued to push as hard as she could.
"I can see the head!" Shouting the news, the warrior glanced up at the bard, whos eyes were on the bridge, but she didnt have the luxury of doing the same. Pushing the material away, she wiped the fluid off the crown and smiled. "Okay, one more time and I think well get it. Push!"
Leaning forward, Gabrielle shoved Ts shoulders up and watched the battle on the bridge. Ares was going crazy, but he was doing something right, because Dahok was moving back slowly against the onslaught. Tearing her eyes away, she looked down and saw the warrior shifting her shoulders, as her hands moved around out of sight. "Xena we need to do this now."
"Talk to T." She shot back and cradled the tiny head in her hands. It was covered in fluid from the womb, but it had a head full of black hair and didnt look happy. Smiling, she nodded. "Okay, lets see if this little bugger has got shoulders like a linebacker." Taking a firm hold on the head. "Push!"
Gritting her teeth, T was completely silent. She didnt moan, she didnt groan and she didnt growl. Her instinct had taken over and the memory of the need for silence to survive was holding in all her shouts of pain. Taking a deep breath, she held it and pushed.
Gabrielle shoved hard, digging her knees into the dirt. "Come, on T. You can do it. Just a little bit more." Whispering in her ear, the bard held her breath as well, when she finally got sight of what the warrior was holding.
The baby shot out and Xena had to scramble to keep from losing her grip. Tugging gently, she pulled the feet the rest of the way out and the umbilical cord, trailing behind. In her hands was a wiggling, squirming, pissed off to be outside little boy. She felt the tears running down her face as she looked up to smile. "Its a boy."
"Its a boy!" Shouting for the whole world to hear, the bard smiled. "T! Its a boy."
Ares turned his head and got caught by a slash to his chest, but he didnt feel it. "I have a son." He whispered as he stumbled from the blow.
"No, God of War. I have a son. That child is mine!" Roaring, Dahok charged. "That child is mine!"
"Over my dead body." Turning back, Ares caught Dahok before he could get past him and drove his sword into the Evils chest. Pushing for all he was worth, he couldnt move him, but held him in place.
Enraged, the Evil wrapped his hand around Ares throat. Squeezing, he felt things pop and snap, and laughed. "Youre such a little god." Tossing him back, Dahok felt the sword come out of his chest and laughed again. "That child will reign at my side for eternity while your bones turn to dust."
Trying to catch what little breath he could, the new father scrambled to get to his feet and swayed, but held his sword at the ready. "Youll never touch my son." He rasped out and sent a flow of blood over his chin, to run down his chest to join the blood flowing from the gash. "And thats a promise."
Dahoks sword came up and he began slashing at the barrier between him and his son. "My son will reign with the powers he took from his mother and we will destroy all who do not bow before the name of Dahok."
Xena looked up. "What did he just say?"
"Just cut the cord." Gabrielle whispered. "Now."
Breathing heavy, T opened her eyes. "My son has my power, Xena. All that I gave up to keep him safe, I dont have anymore. Dahok wasnt blocking my power. I didnt have it anymore. Once you cut the cord, it will be gone forever." Dropping the handful of soil, she brought her hand up to hold the palm up toward the warrior. Flicking her wrist, a golden dagger shot out from the gauntlet.
"T, no. You can get it back." Shaking her head, the warrior stared at the dagger. "Without your power youll die. Dahok will kill you. I cant do it."
"Do it." She whispered and saw hesitation. "Xena, Dahok can send me back to the Hall of Kings, but he will not have my son." Lifting her shoulders, she brought the dagger closer to the warrior. "Do it."
"Xena." Nodding, the bard let her tears fall with abandon.
Closing her eyes, Xena reached for the dagger and sent a wave of tears down her dusty face. Feeling the hilt, she pulled the blade out slowly then opened her eyes. Staring at her gold reflection in the narrow blade, she lowered it slowly to the umbilical cord and paused. Looking up, she saw the red gone from Ts eyes and the natural dark brown smiling at her. Nodding, she looked down at the cord and made a quick cut.
As the dagger severed the cord, Ares was sliding slowly backwards off Dahoks sword through his chest. His blood leaving a red smear on the silver blade, his life flowed out of his wounds. Eyes open, the God of War fell to the wooden floor, his head bouncing off the planks. When he was still, he heard just one sound. The cry of his son, then he closed his eyes.
"Ares!" Trying to get to her feet, Gabrielle shouted, but was held down by a vice wrapped around her wrist.
Her eyes closed, T felt the love leave her body and drift upward with Ares. Then she heard a roar, but it wasnt the evil echoing off the trees. It was one more familiar than her own. Holding the bard down, she heard a silent whoosh of air.
Wide eyed, Xena looked up as something fell to the ground and the sky was blocked by a mass of striped edged white fur.
Coming out of the trees like a rocket, Bud launched over the three women, dropping the crown in his mouth and roared. Hitting the ground at the foot of the bridge, he launched again and drove Dahok through the air, back to the center of the bridge with his half ton body. Clawing and biting, he sank his fangs into a shoulder and shook his head, ripping and tearing.
Glancing over her shoulder, the warrior was still wide eyed. "Go get him Bud!"
T edged up from the ground and got to her knees, leaning heavily on her sword.
"Xena, the baby." Gabrielle whispered and held out her hands.
Turning back around, Xena nodded. "Take off your jacket." Cradling the baby in her arms, she looked down at his still unhappy face. His fists were balled up and tucked under a chin, that had a quivering bottom lip. "I know youre cold. Were working on it."
Pulling off her jacket, the bard spread it out on the ground, where T had just laid. "Okay."
Easing him out of her arms, she laid the boy in the jacket carefully. "There ya go."
Wrapping the naked body inside the heavy leather, Gabrielle left his head visible and wrapped an arm under his head. Picking him up gently, she held him to her chest. "T." Looking up, she saw the Kings eyes elsewhere. "T? Dont you want to see your son?"
Ignoring the bard, T slowly rose to her feet, using her sword as a brace and stood. Watching the bridge, she started forward with halting steps as the effects of childbirth and Dahoks blast lingered. Her eyes focused, she wasnt watching the fight, she was staring at the fallen body of the God of War, which lay motionless near the foot of the bridge.
Staring at the baby, Xena moved her eyes upward and stood. "T, we need to get out of here while Buds got him distracted." Placing her hand on her friends arm, she jerked it back when she got shocked. Shaking out the tingling sensation, she tried to get between T and the bridge, because she knew what the King was up to. "T, you cant do it. Youve got to think of your son. We have to get out of here now."
T kept moving forward and pushed the warrior aside.
On the bridge, Dahok had somehow managed to get to his feet, but still had Bud attached to him. The damage done by T was still there, but hed healed the non-Ancient wounds. Bud, on the other had was doing his part and those wounds wouldnt heal. Ungaras ensign was tearing and ripping and had the same effect as Ungaras sword. Pounding and slicing, Dahok fought the tiger with a matched set of teeth and claws, ripping into the fur covered flesh and rendering unhealable wounds, as well.
Between the black oozing from a burgundy body and the crimson flowing from a striped one, Gabrielle couldnt tell Bud from Dahok. Getting to her feet, she held the baby close and stayed put, until more bodies started running past her.
Cargan charged up and skidded to a halt next to T. "Dahok." He whispered, recognizing the Evil from descriptions in the Archives.
"Get back!" Shouting, Xena turned to find the entire Royal Guard charging past the bard, whod moved out of the way and was using a tree as a shield. Waving her arms, she walked forward to stop them. "Stay back!"
Still moving forward, T reached Ares and knelt down. Tears running down her face, she brushed her fingers across his cheek. "I cant fix you this time. You made me break my promise." Her heart gone with him, she leaned down to place a kiss on his lips, then raised back up and lifted her eyes. "But Ill keep yours." She whispered and stood slowly.
"Xena!" Shouting over the other shouts, Gabrielle pointed to the bridge.
Taking in a lung full of air, T shouted above the din. "Ungara!"
His mouth full of leg, Bud turned his head when she called him.
"Hes mine." Lowering her voice, she stared into golden cat eyes with a pair of her own.
"T, no!" Leaving the group, Xena ran over. "We need to leave, now. Think of your son, will you please."
"What did I miss? What did I miss?" Running up, Aphrodite stopped beside the bard. "What happened?"
Glancing sideways, Gabrielle handed the goddess the baby. "Hold him and dont give him to anybody."
Taking the jacket, she frowned as the bard took off. "Im a goddess, not a hat check girl." Then she felt the jacket move and she looked down to see a pair of pitch black eyes blinking at her. "Oh, thats what I missed." Smiling, she tilted her head. "Hi, sweet pea. Im your Auntie Aphrodite." Cradling him close, she stepped behind the tree.
Shoving the Guard aside, the bard caught up with Xena and T. Looking down, she knelt down as well and stared at Ares as a new wave of tears found their way down her face. Placing a hand on his bloodied still chest, she closed her eyes. "You did good." Sniffing, she leaned down and kissed his forehead, the looked up to the Cargan. "Get him off the bridge."
Nodding, the Captain signaled to his men.
Standing, Gabrielle stepped up on the other side of T and turned to look up at her. "T. Lets go. Aphrodite can get us out of here. We need to leave while we have the chance."
"Ungara!" Not hearing either of her friends, Ts eyes were on Bud.
Using the distraction again, Dahok stumbled back and raised his sword to strike down the striped menace.
Almost feeling it, Xena gripped her chakram and let it fly as she spun around. "Noooo." Watching the circle on its path, she was willing it to land in his heart.
Letting out a roar, the Evil was knocked back as the weapon buried deep in his chest. Lowering his sword, he ripped the chakram out and flung it aside.
"Bud!" Bending down, the warrior clapped her hands.
Bleeding and broken, the tiger turned to look at the warrior.
"Ungara, come." Snapping her fingers, T stared into his eyes and watched him struggle to get up. The battle had taken its toll on the immortal tiger and now he was losing the life hed held for so long. Too many, she thought and began to move forward. No more.
Bud was half crawling, half dragging his body back toward them.
Laughing, Dahok healed the wound from the chakram and raised his sword. "My brothers pet will suffer the same fate as his master."
"Dahok!" Her eyes blood red, T raised her sword over her head.
"T, dont do this." Tugging on one of the upraised arms, Xena was still trying to get her back. "Think of the baby. Your son needs you. Dont do this! Not again!"
"You are not worth the effort it will take to end your mortal life, Daughter of Ungara." Lowering his sword, Dahok laughed again. "You have no power over me."
"Youre wrong, Dahok." Lowering her sword as well, T used both her arms to push the girls back. "I do have some power left. I didnt give everything up."
"I have no need of your ability to feel their pain. Id rather hear it for myself." Sweeping his sword from side to side, indicating Xena and Gabrielle. "And I will, once you meet your destiny at the end of my sword."
"That isnt all I kept." Stepping forward, she almost smiled. "I can still change my clothes."
Bending backwards with laughter, Dahok sent its echoes through the entire forest.
The girls exchanged a confused look.
"Thats a power Id keep." Nodding in agreement, Aphrodite smiled down at the baby. "Ill have to teach you whats in and whats not. Cant have you be a fashion victim." The baby just blinked.
Lowering her head, T held him with her eyes and brought her arms out from her sides.
Stepping back, as a golden glow started emanating from T, Xena took the bards hand and put her behind her.
Feeling a surge of power, Dahok returned his attention to the enemy before him and found a sight he didnt want to see. There, in the place of the sad excuse for a mortal stood the woman whod faced him down in his lair. Gone were the baggy clothes and in their place was the sparkling outfit hed dreamed of seeing covered in her blood. "Nooooooooo."
Xenas eyes went wide, as did Gabrielles and from behind they saw the body that had been missing since shed gotten pregnant. T was tan, muscled and rippling.
"Oh, look." Holding the baby up, Aphrodite moved around the men blocking her way and pointed out T to her son. "Moms done a make over."
Inside the leather jacket, two black eyes blinked.
Having used the last of her power for the transformation, T lowered her arms.
Shaking his head, Dahoks fury grew with every second that passed. "You will not keep me from what is mine, mortal fool!"
Raising her sword, she stepped further up the bridge. "I am mortal again, Dahok. I am flesh and blood and nothing more, but it took no more than that to kill you the last time and thats all I need to do it again." Spinning the golden sword in her hand, she kept walking.
"And thats three mortal fools to you ass hole!" Pulling off the shotgun slung over her shoulder, Xena tossed it at the bard. "The safetys on." Drawing her own sword, she started forward.
Pumping the shotgun, Gabrielle flipped the safety latch off and started up the bridge beside the warrior. Keeping the barrel pointed in the air, she had her finger on the trigger. Her sais still in her back pocket, she wished for a solid pair of boots, instead of the tennis shoes she wore, but theyd have to do and she avoided any major slick spots.
Halfway up her side, T knelt down to scratch Buds bloodied head. "Cargan!"
"Sha Miahta Nibatu. Bielten kre Bud." Falling back to his native tongue, the Captain lifted Ares head off his lap and signaled the Royal Guard again. Getting to his feet, he followed them up the bridge.
"Rest now, old man. Keep an eye on your little brother for me." Stroking his head gently, she could barely hear him purr as he relaxed. "Good boy, Bud. Good boy." Rising slowly, T left the tiger behind and continued onward. "I guess its fruitless to send you back."
"Absolutely." Her eyes glued to the demon, Xena nodded.
The bard nodded as well, from her position of guarding Bud until the Guards could get him off the bridge. "Extremely useless."
Lifting her sword, T smiled. "Then you can have whatever gets past me." Swinging the blade in a wide arc over her head, she knew that would get Xenas attention and stop her pursuit.
Ducking, the warrior sprang back up, but stayed put and held her sword at the ready.
Setting Bud down beside the body of Ares, Cargan spread the Guard out in a line at the foot of the bridge and took his place in front of them.
Aphrodite moved back, cradling the baby and sat down between Bud and the body of her brother. Holding the baby out, she let him see his father. "See, thats Dad and dont you forget him. He wasnt such a great bro, but he woulda been a great Daddy."
The baby put his balled up fist next to his ears and closed his eyes, apparently exhausted by the day.
"Okay, sweet pea. You take a nap." Smiling down at him, the goddess cradled the boy once more. "The big bad meanie will be gone when you wake up."
Dahok let all this happen, because he was concentrating on the child and waiting. Waiting for the woman with the golden sword to get in range of his own and waiting for the sky to open up. The smoke from his flames was clouding the bright blue and there were higher formations blocking the sun. His sun, the thing that brought him strength and the one thing hed missed more than any other in his tenure beneath the ground. He was the Light and he needed the light. That is why he failed in his lair and its why hed succeed today. The day of his birth and the day he would reclaim what was rightfully his. The world. He was the first born and heir to this planet, not Ungara, the God of Night. The Night had ruled for too long and now it was time for the Sun to come out. This was his dawn.
No Epilogue. Not yet.
Thanks for reading.
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