Disclaimer: The characters and situations of "Xena: Warrior Princess" are property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures, and are used without permission. This story, and any other characters contained herein, are property of the author, and should not be reused or retransmitted or posted on the Web without (my) permission.
Rating: Currently PG-13 with possibility of stronger stuff later. Spoilers: "Deliverer/Gab's Hope" and "Debt,"
KIND OF RIFT
Chapters 1 - 2
It was a cool quiet evening with only a few stars, it was unusually dark but this only seemed fitting. The only sounds were those of mournful sobs and those of the soft reassuring words. Another nightmare, only this time, as in recent days the nightmares were not of her bloody past but those of her friend and the recent events that shattered her very being. Xena gently held her best friend Gabrielle stroking her fine golden red hair, whispering reassuring words. But Xena's greatest fear was just that, would things be "all right"? How could she help her friend get past the trauma of their recent travels? As Gabrielle quieted and returned to a restless slumber Xena prayed this would be the last nightmare for her. Feeling restless Xena decided to take a brief walk, search the perimeter she told herself but she realized her desperate need to be alone. Since there encounter with Khrafstar she had pushed all her feelings behind that wall she used to protect herself, it allowed her to be strong for Gabrielle. But now she could feel those walls crumbling in and the desperate need to restore that wall.
Finding a clearing close enough for her to hear Gabrielle if she were needed but far enough away not to disturb her restless friend. Xena collapsed near a tree and the flood of tears came rushing past her walls overwhelming her. Xena cried for Gabrielle's lost innocence, for the pain that bastard Khrafstar caused by using Gabrielle to deliver the evil of Dahak onto this world but she also wept for the lost hope of her best friend. Best friend!? These words did not seem to begin to describe the feeling that she felt for Gabrielle. Gabrielle was part of her soul. Xena could only be there for her and help Gabrielle through this pain but with each tear another part of her soul cried out in pain for her.
Xena kept thinking about what she could have done to prevent all this pain and madness. Her thoughts drifted back to that cursed day that she and Gabrielle came upon Khrafstar. Why didn't I see?! I should have been paying attention to Gabrielle but no I was so full of hate and revenge for Caesar that I was blind to everything else.
The words of Khrafstar came hauntingly back "Thank you for Gabrielle".
Xena was desperate to understand " What are you talking about?"
"Look inside yourself you brought her here and why did you come to defeat Caesar, your hatred brought you here Dahak appreciates rage".
NO!! NO!! Xena cried. Her tears not stopping with the rage. Xena wanted to cry out but it came only as of whisper "No no it's all my fault" "no"...
" ARES!!" Cried Discord as she walked the halls of Mount Olympus. " ARES!!"
"Will you please quit that infernal screaming". Ares proclaimed as he casually appeared before Discord.
" Ares what are you doing? Your plan to destroy Dahak with your favored Xena has failed" "Zeus wants to speak with you NOW!" "We must find away to stop this or our future on Mount Olympus may go the way of Titans".
"Calm down Discord" Ares stated calmly. "Xena may not have taken my warning seriously but believe me I have a plan and with Zeus's permission I'll succeed in making Dahak as they say.. history". Ares could not help but laugh at his little joke. Yes, he would destroy Dahak and if everything goes as planned he would retrieve an even greater prize.
Xena finally exhausting herself fell into troubled slumber. Gabrielle!! Xena cried as she chased Gabrielle with the child up the mountain. "That thing your holding is a monster it has to be destroyed! You talked about ending the cycle of pain and violence by protecting that thing you only insuring the victory of that cycle!" Xena climbed straining each muscle to reach Gabrielle only to reach the top to see Gabrielle standing with the child at the edge of the cliff. "Goodbye Xena" Gabrielle whispered as she jumped in to the darkness that waited below."NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!" Xena cried.
Suddenly Xena awoke sweat raining down her brow with each labored breath she became aware that it was only a nightmare. Then as her heart quieted she noticed a very familiar presence. Standing up she waited for him to appear.
"Come on out Ares I know you here". Xena said impatiently.
"Oh Xena, I can never fool you can I". Ares stated and he appeared casually before her.
"Out with it Ares I'm in a no mood for games".
"Why so hostile Xena?" Ares stated and he walked around Xena then came to face her. "I only came see how your little friend was, not sleeping well lately I take it". Ares said with mock sympathy.
"You leave her out of this! She's been through enough!" Xena said as her anger seeped through.
"You misunderstand Xena. I'm not here to harm your little friend, actually I'm here to make proposal that will.. shall we say be to our mutual benefit". "Remember Xena I tried to warn you, but you just didn't trust me, and your friend Gabrielle paid the price for that mistrust".
The words that Ares spoke struck true and deep into Xena's soul. She knew if she'd listened that maybe none of this would have happened. Unconsciously she turned in the direction of where Gabrielle slept. Xena once again was overwhelmed with guilt. Xena knew enough not to trust Ares but she would do anything to spare Gabrielle the pain that she felt she had caused Gabrielle by not acting soon enough to destroy Khrafstar.
"All right Ares I'm listening". Xena stated crossing her arms and shifting her stance.
"Xena as you know Dahak poses a great threat to us and we intend to secure our position on Mount Olympus. With your help Xena we can destroy Dahak and his cult and at the same time save your precious Gabrielle from the fate Dahak had planned for her".
Ares could tell by Xena's eyes that he had her full attention now. This could be easier than he thought.
Puzzled Xena stated "Ares how can we change what has already happened not even the gods can change the past".
Basking in Xena's attentiveness Ares explained "Ah Xena your right the gods don't have power to change what has past but I do know a way that we can do just that with your help. Hercules may have mentioned how he and Autolycus traveled back to save his precious Syrena? No, I almost forgot about his special relationship with you.. he probably never mentioned his marriage to Syrena."
Xena was really beginning to lose her patience. Her relationship with Hercules was none of Ares business. "I don't know what your talking about Ares but get to the point!"
"My, my Xena I forgot how impatient you can be, but as you say lets get to the point. In Zeus's possession is an even more powerful crystal than the one that Hercules used. This stone has the power not to travel a persons body back in time but their memories. Memories are far more dangerous which is why Zeus has always guarded it. What chaos would be unleashed if you knew the future". But desperate times call for desperate measures and Zeus has given us permission to allow us to carry our memories back prior to the time you first met Khrafstar giving you the advantage to destroy Dahak and his cult".
"Zeus trusts you Ares? What would prevent you from using this knowledge to your advantage?"
"Well it seems Xena that Zeus also doesn't seem to trust my good intentions in this matter so Zeus himself will be joining us on our little adventure. This is your chance Xena to save the world from Dahak and of course your precious Gabrielle."
"As all of your propositions Ares this one sounds to good to be true what's the catch" Xena said angrily.
Ah Xena yes, shall we say some conditions are necessary for our little arrangement. You cannot ever tell anyone about what has happened or how the past has changed, or all that you have done will be undone sending you back to this reality. You will only have one chance to use the crystal. Keeping all those memories and realities can drive one to maddness. So you will only be given one chance with the hope your mind can withstand the memories. Do you agree Xena? Will you help us?" Ares stepped back waiting patiently for his prize.
As Xena pondered Ares proposal her eyes could not help but wander to where Gabrielle slept silently. She closed her eyes. Xena would give anything, everything to spare Gabrielle the pain she was suffering. Xena knew the power of Dahak. She knew she could not allow Dahak and his cult to walk this earth. Even though they failed with Hope they would continue to try. But most of all she needed to do this for Gabrielle. To know that she would not lose her blood innocence, to be spared the pain that Dahak burdened Gabrielle's soul by carrying the evil seed of Dahak. No, she knew what madness was but even madness was better then living with the pain in Gabrielle's soul. She had to take this chance". She raised her head wearing her warrior mask "Yes! Ares I agree."
And with that Ares smiled and vanished with his voice whispering in the wind "Zeus and I will return at dawn then you will have your chance Xena."
Xena looked up at the stars a single tear in her eye, she knew what the price would be for Gabrielle's peace but with everything in her soul she knew she was right and she had to take this chance. Xena quietly strode back to the campsite her eyes searching for Gabrielle who was still sleeping. She walked across the campsite and stood looking down at Gabrielle's face. Even now she could see the worry and the strain of the past week across her weary face. It was still the most beautiful face that she had ever seen. She bent down and gently moved a few stray hairs that had fallen on the bard's face. Then she lay down and curled behind her precious bard. Xena carefully gathered Gabrielle in her arms and rested her head above Gabrielle's. Closing her eyes she searched for the courage and knowing what the future might bring she whispered in the bard's ear "I love you Gabrielle". And with that a small smile appeared on the bard's face and they both slepted with peace in their hearts till just before dawn.
Xena awoke just before dawn and once again took a moment to look upon Gabrielle's face and gently kissed her forehead taking that last precious moment she prayed that she would be successful and that Gabrielle would know peace once again. Xena then headed back to the clearing to where Ares first appeared and waited.
It was only a few moments and Zeus and Ares appeared. Zeus had in his possession a yellow crystal. It seemed have a strange glow; Zeus spoke "Xena I want you know that the Gods appreciate your help. I know you have your reasons for this but without the destruction of Dahak and his cult all our futures are risk I wish to success Xena".
Ares impatient as usual "Shall we get on with this then!"
As the three of them stood there in the clearing Zeus instructed "Come we shall all touch the stone, Xena remember back to time when you first met Khrafstar I will send you back there no further. I will keep watch over Ares". With this comment Zeus shifted his eyes towards his son Ares "I give you my word I will not allow him to directly interfere with you, he will only act as an observer in your quest". Ares looked up at Zeus and rolled his eyes. Xena also looked at Ares, she knew better than to trust him and even with Zeus's good intentions she knew she'd have to keep on her toes.
Zeus looked at Xena and said "Xena remember back to the moment when you first met Khrafstar, remember". Xena thought back to that terrible moment when all this began. The crystal, which they all held, began to glow and quickly the glow turned into a brilliant light a light so bright that it engulfed all three of them.
Ares walked through his temple on Mount Olympus, dark and intense was his home with the momentos of war and numerous weapons displayed through out the room. Ares was wielding his new toy from Hephaestus when suddenly an over whelming flood of memories was unleashed upon his mind. As suddenly a smug grin washed across his face. Ares quickly crossed room to his throne. In a brilliant flash of light Discord appeared.
Ares looked up at Discord and placed his fingers across her lips, "I know I know, your worried about the cult."
Discord shaken by Ares and little angered at his attitude stated "Yes, it's the cult!! Why do you persist in playing games Ares when our existence is at stake!"
"Easy Discord we gods haven't stayed on Mount Olympus this long by being impatient and weak." Ares stated with an air of casual ease. "As we speak I already have a plan in motion to wipe that cult from the face of this world". "So there's no need for you to worry your pretty little head over the that, but I do have need of your assistance in another matter." "Interested?"
"Hmmm, well Ares it sounds like your up to something wicked, of course I'm interested." Discord stated with an air of curiosity. And with that Ares slowly places his arm over Discord shoulders and motions her to walk with him. "Oh yes my dear but this is something we need to keep just between the two of us." With that Ares and Discord vanished.
As Xena and Gabrielle walk through the grassy glade with Argo trailing Gabrielle was trying to explain one of her theories of life. "What is a mountain but a just a bunch of boulders right? And what is a rock but a large gain of sand, what is a large grain of sand.. you see my theory here?"
No! stated Xena thoroughly confused as to the point her friend was trying to make.
"And that doesn't bother you at all, does it?" stated Gabrielle
"What good possible use is this information to us?" Xena said exasperated with her friend.
" I haven't the slightest idea, Well hey. It gave us something to talk about since the last town, right."
Getting into the spirit of the conversation. " A town, a town which are made up of houses, which after all are just large huts, which are made out of wood which are made out of trees, oh trees are bigger then huts.. So there goes that theory. Xena stated giving her companion a good-natured smile.
"You can be so frustrating sometimes." Gabrielle said returning her friends smile.
Noticing some men approaching Xena quickly stopped and pulled Gabrielle to a halt. "Xena who are those men?" Gabriele asked.
"From the looks of them I'd say their from the land north of Gaul." stated Xena
The guard noticing the women approaching signaled the men to stop. They had been traveling hard for days anxious to meet their boat to return the rebels to the land of Cesar.
Xena approached the guard "You're a long way from Britannia."
"We travel only as far as criminals run, we are taking these men back for trial." The guard stated hoping to satisfy the warrior, she seem tough and he and his men were weary from travel and needed no trouble.
Xena seeming satisfied with the guard's answers turned back to Gabrielle and indicated that they should continue on. Gabrielle continued following her friend. She could not help but notice the man who kneeled before her, strained and sad. Gabrielle was a soft soul and took pity on this man even if his crimes justified his capture there must be a more humane means of treatment.
Just as they contunued walking the prisonor who was kneeling before Gabrielle spoke " Kill us here if you want my people will never give into Cesar!"
As Xena heard the prisoner suddenly she felt dizzy as a flood of emotions flashed through her mind with the memories of another time. Xena could her the screams of Gabrielle in such fear and pain. No! No! her mind cried out. Then without further thought she knew with such clarity what she must do.
Xena turned and walked to the prisoner who spoke and looked into his eyes. Khrafstar heard Xena approach and knew his plan was working, Dehawk would have Gabrielle. Then as his eyes looked up they were met with shards of ice, he had never seen such hatred. Then suddenly he felt the cold of metal thrust through his chest, looking down he could see Xena's sword buried in his chest to it's hilt. Confused and shocked he looked again upon Xena's face and whispered his final words "Howww......" as his body slumped to the ground.
Xena stepped back and casually pulled the sword from his chest and wiped it across Kraftstars back to clean the sword.
To Be Continued...
The Bard's Corner