NO PLACE LIKE HOME - part 1
sequel to Ascension
by Richard B.Kloosterboer
Disclaimer: Xena and Gabrielle, including a couple of other characters belong to Renaissance Pictures and SUSA. The Egyptian names are superficial.
Sci-Fi based on 'Chariots of the Gods' and various ancient cultures that survived the deluge, are venting their frustrations in this story.
Lyrics: Mel Blanc - Warner Bros. - Tweety [describes the main plot to a 'T']
Subtext: ALT and plenty of subtext
Violence: Medium, have to have battles and fights, torture might be disturbing
Warning 1: purists beware - contains emotional content
Warning 2: Contains highly suggestible relationship between two women, if this offends you or is illegal where you come from, this story will not be for you.
Reference: apart from observations of the actual episodes - this time its imagination
PS: feel free to send comment to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
* * *
I'm a tweet little bird
In a gilded cage.
Tweety's my name
And I don't know my age.
I live here with Granny
And that's a fact.
I'm not afraid
Of that bad puttytat.
* * *
Naomi was drifting in and out of sleep. She got up carefully, felt a little chill and wrapped some fur around her body to keep warm. Young Draco was still snoring peacefully. She knew better, her lover was a light sleeper. In his position one had to be alert. Naomi moved to the entrance of the tent and looked outside. She noticed that same bright star fly over again that she observed every night before since she and Gabrielle parted ways. She sensed there was something important about that star.
Every night around this time shortly before dawn she received an impulse to get up and look outside. Naomi would look at this star feeling overwhelmed. She would think of her Warrior Queen - her Gabrielle.
* * *
Several months ago Gabrielle went on a quest to resurrect an old friend. Naomi had no idea if she had succeeded, but she remained vigil. And she stayed with Draco. She smiled as she thought about the first meeting of the arrogant warlord. How she hated him. She fought him all the way. Draco had promised Gabrielle he would look after her friend Naomi. This didn't prove to be too difficult. For some reason Draco had grown fond of Naomi and as time went by, he proved to be a gentleman. He gave Naomi time to get to know him better. Naomi fell in love with Draco - a feeling that confused her, for she loved someone else as well.
Draco snuck up close behind Naomi. She in turn leaned against him and held onto him tight as they both watched the dawn rise.
'Xena and Gabrielle are together forever.' Draco told Naomi when she was feeling unsure of herself. Her feelings for him are the same as for Gabrielle. He had pointed to the sky as the bright star continued its course overhead. 'They are together on that star.'
'That is the star Atlan.' Naomi mused. 'Then Gabrielle has completed her quest. She is with Xena.' A tear escaped down her cheek as she realized that Gabrielle was gone. Naomi cried softly then, of loss and joy. Draco comforted her, held Naomi even closer to himself.
'Farewell Gabrielle. Farewell Xena.'
* * *
The star Atlan was known by its inhabitants as the mother-ship Atlantis. A safe-haven of the ancient races of people known as Lemurians and Atlanteans who pose as Sky-Gods. These so-called Sky-Gods were scientists and warriors. Some would venture down to Earth for short periods to check on stragglers who may have gotten lost in the various ancient ruins of a forgotten time. One such a place needed constant watching and only a select few of Earth's inhabitants were allowed to ascend upon this course.
History dictated that the journey of the Pharaoh was the journey of his, or her, spirit going through various rituals to reach the platform of ascension.
But in reality the journey of ascension was a much more physical task. A chosen few would make it past the labyrinth to the platform. The last human that made a successful ascend was Gabrielle, Bard of Potedaia. She risked her life for her friend, her soul-mate Xena.
Xena's body was remolded and reborn through the 'Stream of Immortality'. Anubis had the daunting task of finding Xena's soul and reuniting it with Xena's brand new body.
On the Earth plane, a soul can live without a body but cannot experience anything. A body on the other hand, cannot function without the presence of the soul. It was one of the many mysteries of life on this plane of existence. Luckily for Anubis Xena's soul was nearby. Unfortunately she was inseparable from her soul-mate Gabrielle. The task was set for Gabrielle to ascend to heaven and reunite Xena with her new body. Gabrielle succeeded and Xena was restored.
Horus had decreed that Xena and Gabrielle stay in Atlantis and live forever. If they left Atlantis they would die. They both agreed reluctantly. At least they had each other. Xena and Gabrielle were together for ever.
* * *
Xena looked critically at herself in the mirror. The rebirth of her body had left her without defects, wrinkles or scars. She remembered how much her old body was tortured over the years, the arrows that struck her old body. She touched each spot where a scar should be visible from any battle her nemesis got the upper hand and got past her instincts, her defence. She remembered her last stance in her former life. Riddled with arrows she faced her executioner. Xena felt no pain as her head was severed cleanly and quickly from her body. Standing in front of the mirror she traced the place where the blade had gone through her neck and vertebra.
Shaking with anxiety she did not comprehend what had transpired. Her soul remembered everything except being dead. She only remembered dying and suddenly looking up into a familiar lovely face of Gabrielle. The feeling of love for her friend Gabrielle made her blush hotly.
Gabrielle looked much older now. Her hair was longer and strands of silver indicated to Xena that she herself had been dead for a long time. Gabrielle was sleeping softly as Xena nestled close to her little bard. Xena took one of the Bard's hands in her own. Felt the calluses on her friend's palms. Xena's hands were soft and new. No calluses, no blemishes from weapons or fist fights. She stroked the hair on her little bard gently. 'How long has it been, my love?' She whispered.
Gabrielle stirred in her sleep. Xena stayed vigil. She already felt too cooped up in this place. She wanted to leave and go back to Earth. She felt like a bird trapped in a cage and Xena knew she would go mad if she stayed in this cage for much longer.
'Xena, won't you sleep?' said a drowsy Gabrielle.
'Hush little one, you need your sleep more than I.' Xena hugged Gabrielle close.
Gabrielle snuggled closer to Xena and slept happily, cradled within Xena's loving arms, dreaming of their adventures of a life long past. She still did not believe that Xena was alive and well, her body was perfect, no scars remained of all the battle wounds that were wrought on her in Xena's previous life. The 'Stream of Immortality' was a miracle water indeed, of that there was no doubt.
Gabrielle dreamed about the blue and white planet circling beneath them. She could not imagine living forever in this prison amongst the stars. And she was sure that Xena wanted to escape as well. She missed Naomi. Naomi was her friend in times of need. How would she react to Xena's flesh and blood presence?
Xena stirred sometime later, then sat up. She looked at her surroundings, flexed her muscles. She smiled a loving greeting at the little bard who awakened when Xena moved. 'Good morning Gabrielle.' Then she stood up swiftly and moved to the porthole overlooking the planet Earth.
'Good morning, Xena. Slept well?' Gabrielle asked drowsily.
'I slept for an eternity - am in need for some exercise though. Want to come?' Xena replied and suggested with a playful wink.
'Like we don't get enough exercise ' Gabrielle grumbled.
'Warriors need to exercise all the time - helps keep you alert.' Xena explained.
'And we're stuck here on a spaceship.'
'Not for long, I hope.' Said Xena quietly.
Gabrielle caught the hint, 'Sparring sounds good. Want to learn some new moves?'
'You think you got some that I don't know.' Xena taunted.
'You've been out of circulation for a while - let me surprise you.' Gabrielle teased back.
After they dressed into a coverall suit supplied by the Atlanteans, they went to a large chamber for various exercise techniques. It didn't take long for the two friends to pair off on each other. Each gauging each other for offense and defense. Chinese martial arts seemed to be both their specialty as their hand-to-hand combat proceeded with a few simple katas. These were more warming up exercises, for both were experts - both were masters.
Gabrielle did a series of punches and kicks that got counter moved and defended skillfully by Xena, whom in return gave a series of complicated punches and kicks upon which Gabrielle defended herself admirably.
'Time to up the stakes a bit.' Said Xena.
'What did you have in mind?'
'Sword and staff?' asked Xena.
'Now that's creation.' Laughed Gabrielle.
'I feel charitable today.' Teased Xena.
Xena chose the sword and Gabrielle giggled as she did a few wrist warm up exercises by turning the staff three hundred and sixty degrees over both hands. Battle ready Xena started with her yodeling battle cry as she lunged several deadly thrusts at Gabrielle's direction.
Gabrielle took the attacks as calmly as possible and defended herself with ease. Not in the least intimidated by Xena's bravado, it didn't take long for the Battling Bard to provide a calculated countermove. Feigning a block of a sword thrust to the abdomen, Gabrielle used a horizontal downward block. According to Xena, this was the wrong countermeasure until she witnessed her sparring partner somersaulting over her, landing behind, trapping Xena awkwardly in a choke-hold by the still horizontal staff. The momentum of Gabrielle's body forced her to bend forward, pulling Xena painfully backwards over Gabrielle's back and Xena landed flat on her stomach and face. Gabrielle stood over her friend who turned to face her little bard in shock and admiration.
'What was that?' Xena gagged rubbing her sore neck.
'A killer move - surprised?' Gabrielle mused aloud unconcerned.
'Thank God we're immortal - I swear that move would've killed me.' Said Xena with a tinge of sudden respect as it dawned on her that here were certain possibilities to exploit.
'Always did want to try that ' Gabrielle said with a tinge of coldness in her voice.
'You mean you have more surprises like that in store for me?'
Gabrielle helped Xena up, 'Does that surprise you? Naomi showed me several techniques and I taught her some moves as well.'
'You did not teach her the Pinch, did you?' Xena asked concerned.
It was then that Gabrielle realised that her friend did not remember her life as a ghost. She wondered if Xena remembered her last death in detail. Coaxing her friend to sit next to her she asked, 'Xena, do you remember what happened before you died?'
'I think so. We were in Japa and I sent you in a different direction. I waited for the enemy, then attacked them. There was an explosion. Then a lot of arrows from all sides.' Xena winced as she remembered the arrows hitting her body. Gabrielle held her close, comforting her.
'I remember holding the Sacred Katana and shouting your name as I attacked the samurai. When I reached their leader I remember two thoughts near the end. My first thought - I can take this guy in one swipe. My second thought ' Xena tried to hold back the tears. 'My second thought was forgive me Gabrielle.'
Gabrielle hugged her friend, 'Its okay Xena. All is forgiven.' Then continued, 'Do you remember anything after you died - you're afterlife, I mean?'
Xena thought deeply and gave a reluctant answer, 'I'm not sure, Gabrielle. It all seems like a dream. There are bits and pieces. Countries I've never seen. It is all so strange.' Xena looked confused.
'I guess you don't know about me and Naomi then?' Gabrielle confessed with a tinge of pain only noticeable to Xena.
'Oh Gabrielle, its okay. I was probably dead for a long time. You accepted and moved on. I believe deep down my soul would have understood.' Xena consoled Gabrielle.
Gabrielle cried softly in response, 'Yes, Xena. You did approve of my relationship with Naomi. There were certain needs '
'You don't need to explain, I wasn't here for you when you needed someone to hold.'
'I love Naomi and I love you Xena.'
'I love you too, Gabrielle.'
* * *
Anubis was annoyed today. The Lemurians wanted to leave Earth as much as the Atanteans wanted to stay. The sooner the better, they had remarked. Any further delay and they would lose contact with Earth's icy sister planet circling the orange giant. The colony was dying and needed urgent assistance.
Atlantis was a cumbersome ship - ancient in design and technology. The material world had altered the sub-atomic particles to such a degree over millennia that it would create certain disaster to the planet should the ship move even slightly out of Earth's orbit, let alone removing it completely. The balance with the moon depended on Atlantis staying put. The Lemurians didn't agree. Their first priority was to save their own people on the freezing planet. Such was the stirrings of the day and Anubis was worried.
As the Pharaoh-Hound masked Sky-God wandered thoughtfully through the corridors of the ship, he heard weapons clashing, screaming, grunting and a lot of mad laughter. Rounding a corner he saw Xena and Gabrielle sparring with extraordinary tactics. He wasn't too sure who was teaching who. It was almost as if Gabrielle was teaching Xena how to fight. But Xena surprised her teacher with some fascinating moves. Quick-witted, strong and agile Xena was training her new body to every extreme she was used to in the past.
Fighting forms changed in flashes. Chin Martial Arts, Japa Samurai Arts, Nin Jitsu, acupressure techniques. Sword play was a must, staff was optional and Gabrielle showed she was the master of all weaponry.
Anubis thought to himself that on Earth these two women would have taken the world as a hostage with their fighting prowess. Yet Gabrielle taught Xena love and respect for mankind. A calmness of the mind and heart. A bond that grew so close that love was the only solution for peace.
The feelings of love, compassion and respect was very strong between Xena and Gabrielle. This showed with every waking moment they were together. They shared everything. They were truly soul-mates and their auras intermingled together in the most beautiful swirls.
* * *
Xena had overexerted herself. Perspiring heavily she and Gabrielle retired to take a hot bath. Taking turns at grooming each other Xena made her plans known to her friend.
'Gabrielle, would you like to go back to Earth?' Xena felt Gabrielle's thumbs depressing a nerve near her neck muscle and Xena winced a little. A smile of acknowledgment curled her lips slightly as Gabrielle replied huskily. 'Not without you.'
Xena rested her head on her forearms leaning on the rim of the big bath.
'You've really over-exerted yourself this time, Xena. A lot of knots here.' As Gabrielle's experienced fingers massaged Xena's back and shoulders.
'Careful that you don't use the Pinch on me.' Chuckled Xena.
'Don't worry, I'll make sure you'll feel every nerve ending squeak.' Teased Gabrielle.
Xena closed her eyes drowsily and thought about her daughter Eve. Then she thought about Ares. If only the God of War knew of his true origins, she chuckled.
'I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. How about giving this body a bit of a rub down.' Gabrielle said waking Xena out of her reverie.
'Front or back massage?' asked Xena cheekily.
'Back, of course. I think I pulled a muscle in my shoulder.' Gabrielle squinted and rested her head on her forearms leaning on the rim same as Xena did before. She giggled as Xena wandered past her ribs. 'Hey, no wandering.' She warned and in reflex Gabrielle splashed the water with her elbow. Xena found the knot in her shoulder without hesitation, finding a few other knotted nerves down her spine as well. On impulse she tickled the little bard's ribs again. Annoyed Gabrielle spun around to slap the intruding hand away only to look in the predator eyes of Xena.
Xena still had an uncanny knack to provoke those she loved. As a snake would mesmerize its prey, Xena locked her eyes with those of Gabrielle. A longing they both hungered for, both fighting for control of the impulse that was attracting them to each other. Xena wanted to so badly, but she resisted the urge as she looked at Gabrielle full of passion. Gabrielle could only resist the urge for so long and was always the instigator of this relationship. As Xena predicted and always wanted to do first on her own, Gabrielle drew herself close to Xena and stole a lovers kiss.
* * *
'You want to do what?' Horus paced around furiously. 'No Cousin. Thrice no, we cannot make these Earth children Elite Warriors for our cause.'
Anubis disagreed, 'Horus, when we made the Earth-Gods and Earth-children it was for that sole purpose to defeat our sworn enemies. I ask of you this boon. Make Xena and Gabrielle warriors for our cause. Their skills surpass even our fiercest warriors.'
'No Earth-child has ever beaten a god.' Horus said heatedly.
'Correction, dear cousin. No Earth-child has ever beaten a Sky-God.' Corrected Anubis. 'Xena has beaten many a god and killed several of them in her previous life on Earth.'
'Gabrielle may become an Elite Warrior, but not Xena.' Horus decreed.
'Why not Xena?' asked Anubis confused.
'Because Xena can still kill the immortal gods. You said it yourself, Anubis. This power has been surpressed, but she can still kill us when it is activated in her again.' Answered Horus truthfully with a tinge of fear.
'All the more reason to have Xena by our side, cousin. Make them both Elite Warriors for our side. I will vouch for Gabrielle and Xena.'
'As will I, cousin. I shall request it of the Divine One.' Horus finally agreed and went into a special ante-chamber and meditated to a higher force.
* * *
Gabrielle sat in silence beside her friend Xena when they were back in their cabin. Xena remembered a lot prior to her death. Yet life as a ghost was a fuzzy mystery. Xena does not recall much of being a ghost - only her dreams seemed to be a mixture of current and past events. Gabrielle told Xena of Naomi. But Xena could not remember her. It was as if in the past years Gabrielle had kept Xena's spirit alive by not letting her go. Gabrielle thought that the long conversations she had prior to her resurrected friend was part of a cruel joke. Yet it was real and reality was that life as a ghost was vastly different to life with a material body. Each experience was different.
'What happened to the Katana.' Asked Xena suddenly.
'Its safely hidden on Earth.'
'Could be handy in a fight.' Smiled Xena in anticipation.
'Isn't that why I've got the Chakram?'
'Remember to share the Chakram from time to time.'
'I'll give you half.' Chuckled Gabrielle. 'You can have your sword, but I'll keep the Chakram.'
'Wanna swap the Katana for the Chakram?' Xena tried.
'Can't bargain with something you don't have.' Gabrielle put her hands on her hips in defiance.
'I can still beat you in an arm wrestle.'
'Only because your arms are longer than mine.' Countered Gabrielle.
'C'mon? Gabrielle is a chicken.' Xena clucked like a chicken.
'I can beat you in an arm wrestle any time, Warrior Pretender.'
Xena settled herself at a table, just as Anubis came in. 'Come on over, Amusing Muse.' Xena challenged.
Gabrielle and Xena locked palms and thumbs, but before commencing Xena called time-out. 'Anubis, can you tie our wrists together and light a candle on each side?' She asked of him.
'Kinky, trying to encourage yourself to win?' Gabrielle smiled evilly.
'Just finding out who is a bigger woos.' Teased Xena.
Anubis complied and the arm wrestle commenced in earnest. Xena's arm was slightly longer, but the bard showed an enormous amount of hidden strength. Years of training and combat had toned her bard's physical strength considerably. It seemed that Xena was struggling, but Gabrielle knew better and held back enough for Xena's surge of power that was about to come. The candle flame was licking in anticipation at Xena's skin at the back of her hand. The sensation made her flinch as she realized that this new body was not used to the rough treatment of her previous life.
Although Gabrielle did not want to gloat Xena noticed a slight tinge of a smile appearing on her friend's concentrating countenance. As predicted Xena let forth a surge of power, pushing upwards until it was Gabrielle that was struggling. Gabrielle let Xena push her palm down to the merest of extremes - not even flinching as the flame began searing her flesh painfully. Xena saw the flame engulfing her friend's palm and wanted to release the pressure - but for some unknown reason Gabrielle kept her hand in the flame. Their wrists tied together Xena watched in horror that she could not break the bond.
'Why are you doing this Gabrielle?' She screamed at her insane friend.
Gabrielle just smiled an intensely mad smile, punishing herself. Her gaze locked with Xena when a strange realization dawned at last. With a final surge of power Xena pulled Gabrielle's hand out of the searing flame and with little effort from Gabrielle slammed her own hand on the lighted candle on the other side. Gabrielle was surprised by this move and relaxed. This was enough of a cue for Xena to slam Gabrielle's hand on her friend's candle to extinguish the flame there as well. The wax was still dripping from both their hands as Anubis released them from their strange bondage. Xena looked at the back of her hand. Strangely the burn was healing rapidly. No scar would remain which made her realize again of her strange immortality.
* * *
'A fine lesson you are teaching me.' She looked furiously at Gabrielle.
'We are immortal, Xena. We can explore extremes like never before.' Gabrielle held up the back of her hand and peeled the wax off. Where a severe burn should be the skin was in perfect health. 'We are invincible, Xena.'
Xena looked with sudden sorrow at her bard. 'What good is it to live our lives here forever when we could live the rest of our natural lives on Earth?'
Gabrielle looked at Anubis with the same sadness in her eyes. 'Anubis, give us a purpose. We are warriors, there must be something worth living for.' She pleaded with the Sky-God.
Anubis felt a pang of compassion for these two brave women. He had an idea, but it was a long-shot that he had discussed at length with his cousin Horus.
'How would you like to become Elite Warriors?' He surprised them.
'What do we have to do to qualify?' Asked Gabrielle with a tinge of excitement.
'In my book you are both over-qualified. You'll be allowed to help us defeat our enemies.
Xena nudged Gabrielle, 'Come on, hand it over.'
'The chakram. I won it fair and square.' Said Xena.
'I've grown rather attached to it actually.' Teased Gabrielle.
Anubis had enough of the bickering. 'If you would be so kind to follow me. You can continue with who owns what later on.'
'The chakram is still mine.' Thought Xena childishly.
The little bard walked smiling towards Xena and gave her warrior princess an affectionate hug. Xena readily accepted the embrace and held onto her little bard tight.
'Xena, staying here in this cage is driving me insane.' Gabrielle looked up at Xena pleadingly. 'I want to go back to Earth. We don't belong here.'
Following Anubis discretely Xena whispered, 'I know, my love.'
'Soon we will escape.' Xena thought silently.
* * *
When the news was announced that Xena and Gabrielle were to become Elite Warriors of the highest rank, there was an uproar amongst the Lemurians. Warriors trained for the Sky-Gods would require years of experience and no one believed that these Earth-Children would have what it takes to be a warrior.
A spokesperson for the Lemurians wanted Xena and Gabrielle to prove their worthiness as warriors. 'Choose your weapon.' Accepted Xena as she faced her first challenger.
'Fists.' He rolled his hands up in two mighty mallets. 'No holds barred.'
'Okay.' Agreed Xena and she kicked him in the groin as hard as she could.
Her defeated opponent rolled his eyes into the back of his head and he crumpled to the ground without uttering a sound.
The Lemurian Elite Force went wild and some came forward to teach this Earth-child a lesson in respect and deference.
Gabrielle laughed in anticipation as Xena provoked them closer, 'Come on, make my day.' Coaxing the throng closer.
Just as they were about to pounce Xena let forth her battle-cry,
'ALALALALALALALALA - SHEEYA!'
Two attacked simultaneously. A high split-kick stunned them back. Using acrobatics she flipped over them and landed in the middle of the crowd.
'Catch Xena.' Gabrielle threw her a staff, Xena caught it and turned the staff three hundred and sixty degrees, alternating between both hands. With a mad look in her eye she kept her foes at a respectable distance, but they would not back off.
They outnumbered Xena ten to one and moved as a group at the same time as Xena planted the staff into the ground. Balancing the staff in a perfect tangent to the ground she ran and kicked her opponents stunning them into submission.
Gabrielle knew that the Elite Warriors of Lemuria had seriously under estimated her Warrior Princess. She knew that Xena could take care of herself. Some of the brigands noticed the little woman enjoying the show and realized they were the brunt of the joke. Enraged they pounced on Gabrielle.
Gabrielle anticipated that very move and simply side-stepped her foes, tripping one making him crash into the other. A few more were coming her way. Gabrielle did a running leap and flipped over them, giggling all the way. Some decided to make a short end to the skirmish and drew their weapons - similar to Arabic daggers. Gabrielle let loose her chakram. It ricocheted of a nearby hull plate and split in two. The blades got taken out and the two halves met up again in mid-flight.
The hand that caught the chakram was not Gabrielle, but Xena.
Xena looked full of anticipation at the proud warrior bard. The love they shared for each other was eternal and forgiving. Gabrielle had given the chakram back to her friend in battle and she knew that they would make a formidable team.
The moment didn't last long as the battle commenced further. Neither would either woman give in to defeat - for they were actually winning.
The Elite Warriors stood to rapt attention as Horus came in. 'Would you, my people, dishonor the Divine One for the honor bestowed on these two Earth children?'
The Lemurians looked at each other in dismay. The Divine force of the Universe had allowed Xena and Gabrielle to become Elite Warriors - the highest distinction one could hope for in their own race. They were ashamed and driven by jealousy.
'Xena and Gabrielle have proven their cunning. They have decades of battle experience. And their survival instinct has given them an edge that we do not possess.' Continued Horus. 'Our enemies will be surprised - for we are prepared to meet with them. Right now.'
To Xena and Gabrielle's astonishment, the Lemurians did not hold a grudge and welcomed our two friends with open arms within the Elite. Xena was seemingly relaxed and mingled with the soldiers, but Gabrielle knew when her friend was bluffing. Xena was all charm and to Gabrielle's amusement even tried to seduce a couple of them.
Gabrielle retreated to a more secluded spot and looked through a porthole gazing longingly on a blue and white planet below. Homesickness was growing in her as tears welled up. She fought the feeling but she refused to turn away.
A tingling in the nape of her neck announced that someone was standing close behind her. She allowed a familiar arm wrap around her waist draw her closer to Xena, who said nothing but just held her friend close in a comforting way.
Gabrielle looked up, studying the features of her warrior princess. She noticed a tear escape over her cheek and Gabrielle's hand came up wiping the tear away. Xena's eyes were full of sorrow as she stared down on the planet below. Gabrielle knew this feeling was overwhelming them both and they held tight to each other.
One day they would escape their gilded cage. Promised Gabrielle silently.
* * *
Sleep would not come easily for Xena the night she decided on escape. Gabrielle was sleeping on her tummy for a change, her dragon tattoo with the intricate design and patterns fully exposed. Gabrielle's body was permanently etched with the exotic design, a dire reminder of a painful past. Xena had vivid dreams of impossible memories. Of meeting another long-lost love from a forgotten time. She remembered a young Japanese girl - a poet - a writer - a bard like Gabrielle. Akeme was her name and she was the reason why Xena stayed dead. The dreams seemed real. Maybe it was her mind trying to make sense of an unusual soul journey.
Xena traced the intricate design on Gabrielle's back ever so lightly - a design that reminded her of Akeme. Gabrielle stirred a little, reacting to the slight touch.
'Gabrielle,' Xena whispered. 'Time to get up, we have to go.'
Gabrielle was totally relaxed. She was with the only person she trusted the most. She wanted to sleep a little longer. She awoke and winced when she remembered her sore shoulder. 'Growing old gracefully - I hope its not arthritis.' She grumbled.
'I always wondered how many years have past while I was gone.' Wondered Xena.
'Believe me Xena, you don't want to know.' Gabrielle got up and slipped into the grey one-piece suit the Elite Warriors all wore. Xena hesitated a moment, but they were pressed for time and taking a bath now would be time wasted. Her eyes twinkled in anticipation of skinny-dipping into a cool refreshing lake with a nice waterfall.
Seeing her friend wince again Xena felt concerned. 'Here, let me take a look.'
Gabrielle complied whilst Doctor Xena applied a bit of acu-pressure to relief some of the irritation.
'Lie down Gabrielle, your spine needs to be realigned.'
'That means you have to ' Gabrielle gasped suddenly alert.
Xena cracked her knuckles, 'Yeah, something like that. Now lie still and relax.'
Gabrielle relaxed as Xena put a complicated move on her. Trust was everything and Gabrielle let her body go limp. The snap was quick and audible. But that was just the first one. Xena changed position and told her to relax. Gabrielle was a little unnerved by the experience - she trusted Xena completely and relaxed. Again an audible snap and a surge of relief as the pain in her shoulder subsided.
'One more time my love. Just relax.' Soothed Xena.
Gabrielle thought of home and suddenly felt her vertebra pop into their proper place.
'Thank you Xena.' She said feeling a lot happier rolling her shoulders and neck with sudden freedom.
'Its good to see you happy again.' Xena beamed.
'Maybe we shouldn't try escaping tonight.' Began Gabrielle.
'What did you have in mind?'
'A nice long relaxing bath.' Dreamed Gabrielle.
'I suppose one more day won't matter.' Xena said removing her grey suit and walking to the bath to fill it up. 'It may be prudent to give your back a rest for a couple of days.'
'My thoughts exactly Doctor Xena.' As Gabrielle joined Xena in the bathtub.
* * *
A few days later and Xena had scouted through the entire ship Atlantis. It was like one giant city in orbit around Earth and she wanted to escape it desperately. She found a few places which had restricted access, but that didn't stop her inviting herself in. She found a few smaller ships and after observing how the Atlanteans flew the craft, she memorized how to handle theses ships for future reference.
'Looked simple enough - pull the stick and go.' She thought.
Gabrielle was nearby and ready for action. It didn't take them long to knock out the guards and skillfully Xena commandeered one of the ships. They didn't have time to look for the bigger multi-seater shuttles, which were elsewhere, so they chose a little flyer each. Xena remembered that the pilots put on a suit and helmet. She and Gabrielle donned such a suit each and were pleasantly surprised to breath the fresh oxygen when they hooked up to the craft.
'Xena?' A strange crackling voice was heard nearby. Gabrielle waved from the other craft.
'I am hearing things.' Said Xena aloud.
'I hear you fine - like you're right next to me.' Gabrielle giggled as Xena was startled.
'I can hear you, Gabrielle. How?'
'I don't know, Xena.'
'Time to fly. We'll figure this out later.' Said Xena resolutely.
Xena pulled the throttle towards herself and nothing happened.
'Push the green button, I think.' Suggested Gabrielle who surged forward in her little craft.
An alarm started whooping as Gabrielle escaped into the night sky.
Xena pushed the green button and her craft lurched with a certain power much like her beloved Argo in the heat of battle. She followed Gabrielle into the night sky. Already other flyers were dispatched and followed our friend's escape from their cage. Gabrielle was close to Earth, but Xena was struggling to keep control of her beast of burden.
'Keep going Gabrielle. I'm right behind you.' Xena was losing ground.
Gabrielle had more control of her craft and made a U-turn. 'I won't leave you.' Xena heard.
Xena knew it was no use arguing with her little bard. Gabrielle would always be there for her, no matter what the danger. They wanted to escape together but their first attempt was doomed to be their last. Xena's craft was being rocketed by a barrage of instrument failure and Xena saw her little ship spiral out of control closer to Earth.
'Maybe this is what Horus meant, that if we left Atlantis, we would die.' Xena said aloud.
'At least we'll die together, Xena. I'm right behind you. Hold on!'
The interceptors returned to Atlantis, the Elite Warriors gave a final disembodied salute.
'Farewell Xena and Gabrielle. May the Divine One watch over you for eternity.'
Gravity clutched the little craft as it plummeted towards an African jungle. Thankfully Xena passed out before the little craft gouged itself deeply into the jungle.
Xena, where are you? Xena, where are you? Xena, where are you? Xena, where are you?
* * *
End of part 1
Continued - No Place Like Home - part 2
sequel to Ascension
by Richard B.Kloosterboer
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