by R.B.Kloosteboer

WARRIOR THROUGH TIME is combined with 'XENA IN TIME-WARP' {1996}, 'WALKING ON' {2001}, 'RETURN FROM OBLIVION' {2001} and 'SISTER OF LIFE' {2002}.

For comments email me at: this_is_a_new_1@hotmail.com

Stories are published in four parts at the Bard's Corner: www.ausxip.com/fanfic.html

and the EZboard Fan-Fiction forum of XWPVS. It will be updated soon.

Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess belonged to Renaissance Pictures. Only the characters Xena and Gabrielle are loosely, but not fully borrowed to enhance the story.

Any events or circumstances depicting creed or race is purely coincidental. All other characters belong to the author of this tale.

The characters state of mind are part of the author's own development on the characters borrowed.

Subtext: This is predominantly a SHIPPER story, however, the latter three stories may be ALT.

Violence: Medium level - some scenes may disturb younger readers.

UBER, SHIPPER, ALT, SUBBER, did I miss anything?

* * *


by R.B.Kloosteboer

It was in the Jewish year count of 7083 that in a small cluster of suburban dwellings a great experiment took place. Professor Miles Bronwyk had made a prototype time machine. The machine chose various time zones by pre-selection finding the correct DNA paths of a particular person. After generations of work, enough DNA samples had been accumulated to make accurate time travel work. Gene samples were also some of the main ingredients discovered for time traveling discovered by Professor Bronwyk.

Time travel was not new in this day and age, it had been around for the past decade or two. The problem was accuracy, targeting specific locations of predetermined events. Politically there were still fears attached to the problem of changing the past. So tampering with the politically historical past was definitely against the Universal Law. People only really wanted to go to the past for leisure and there was a high demand on finding out about their ancestors' lives in the past.

Angelica Zenexia’s occupation varied as a Government employee. However, her current hobby was to study family trees. Personally, countless generations have passed on the legends of her ancestor, the infamous Warrior Princess: Xena. With the help of her friend Professor Bronwyk, her dream of meeting at least one of her ancestors would soon become reality.

In the case of Angelica, the women in her family were always strong-willed, determined and athletically build. Every second or third generation or so, one of the daughters would be very alike to the picture on the ancient scroll, passed down through the ages. Anyone who resembled the picture would be the Safe-keeper of Xena’s memory. One of her dearest wishes was to meet her ancestor. Now this was going to be a reality.

‘Angelica, do you have your gene sample ready?’

‘Yes, Professor.’

A glass phile gets emptied in an unusual machine. The machine was saucer shaped, inside its cockpit were rows and columns of dials and gauges. Two pairs of seats were within its interior. Boxes and tightly rapped packages of supplies lined the interior extensively as if in preparation for a long trip. A screen flickers on, and a blue/green timeline appeared on a screen. The machine was analyzing the genetical goo and DNA structure through various time zones. The blue line halts a couple of inches below the present timeline, which was green.

‘Is the generator on board?’

‘Yes, Professor. We are ready to leave.’

‘Final check. Make sure that the light is turned off in the hall and that there is a note for the milkman, quoting we’ll be away for a couple of days.’

Angelica joined Professor Miles Bronwyk on board of the small craft. ‘We traced your DNA pattern to this time period. It looks like a few thousand years Before Christ. In this time period people worshipped superhuman beings, Demi-Gods mostly, and life as a whole was in constant turmoil. It seems your ancestors are Greek, at least maternally. Hm, this is odd.’

‘What is it?’

‘There is an unusual strand which is not common to any life form on earth, but, it is very common through your maternal lines, as far as I can ascertain.’

‘Might this have something to do with it.’ Angelica hands the Professor an ancient scroll. He unrolled it and two beautiful and handsome figures were drawn upon it.

‘Meet my ancestors.’ She said.

The professor found the resemblance of Angelica and the figure in the picture remarkably true to form. ‘Have you dated this scroll?’ He asked.

‘Yes, it comes from ancient Greece.’

‘I think we should leave at once, this promises to be most exciting.’ The Professor said enthusiastically.

The machine started humming, the outside disc began spinning anti-clockwise. Everything turned black outside the machine as if in a void. A red timeline appears on the screen and it slowly but steadily moved down from green until it finally merged with the blue timeline.

The disc slowed down, colours seemed to be coming back. A light crested over a hilltop. Dawn.

* * *

Ares, God of War, was bored. People lived in peace and harmony. Boring. The warlords and tyrants are long dead and buried. All sent to the Infernal Regions by Xena and Hercules.

There must still be a vulnerable mind here, I can feel it. They’re coming closer. From where? From the future? Intriguing.

The God of War sends an Emissary up to Earth to investigate.

But, do not interfere, yet.

* * *

Xena and Gabrielle stayed at an inn near the west coast. Gabrielle thought a sea voyage would be a good change of scenery, plus a good trail for myths, legends and stories. Xena does not really want to leave the mainland. Sailors have a tendency to get over zealous in their behavior toward women and if she lost her temper they could well be sailing a ship without a crew.

One of the sailors, of a more solid disposition, was telling a tale of a baby he found, floating on some debris, obviously of a shipwreck. The baby’s size was huge, nearly the size of a grown man.

‘I like children and babies,’ he said, ‘But this baby for all its size would have eaten its way through our provisions in no time at all.’

‘What did you do with the baby?’ Gabrielle interjected.

‘Well, we did save the baby and fed it for a few days. All the while I tried to get the ship back to land as fast as possible. But a storm drew up. When lightning struck, the kid panicked. He did not know his own strength, because, when the lightning began he started kicking the mainmast over and rocked the ship to such an extend we had to abandon it. Only a handful of us survived the ordeal.’

With that he sculled down the last of his ale and passed out in a long deserved slumber.

Gabrielle, ever eager not to let a question go unanswered, prodded the poor sailor for one more useless question, ‘Excuse me, how many eyes did the baby have?’

Roused from his sleep he answered, ‘One’, and fell back in a deep sleep.

‘Cyclops! What was a Cyclops baby doing all alone on the sea?’

‘Gabrielle, it’s just a tall tale made up by shipwrecked sailors.’ Concluded Xena, ‘Come on, let’s move on.’

‘But Xena, imagine saving a Cyclops baby and educating it to tell stories and history to a large crowd of people…’

‘So that they could get cobbled up at the first opportunity he gets.’ She laughs.

‘Now that’s not fair. If everyone was educated in the proper way, we would not have to fight for our rights all the time. Everyone would be equal. That’s including the Cyclops. With a brain like that they really shouldn’t have to be as stupid as they are.’

* * *

At this time Angelica and the Professor were scouting a little way around the area they landed in. ‘According to our guidance system and the overlapping map sequencer we are near a little town which is later to be named Preveza, just by the Western coastline of Greece. Now when we meet up with your ancestor we should stay out of sight. We are only here to observe and should not interfere in the politics of this culture.’

Ares’ Emissary was listening intently and noticed something extraordinary about the woman. She was the spitting image of the accursed Warrior Princess, Xena.

‘Master, Xena is here, but not Xena at all!’ The Emissary said.

Ares replied immediately, ‘Separate them. Bring her to me. Get rid of the other, he is of no use to me!’

‘Angelica, stay close to me. We are under attack!’

‘How, Professor? I don’t see anything.’

‘There is a large vortex opening in front of us. A strong energy is seeping out and surrounding us. Its astounding. The forces created here are impossible to gauge. F.F.ON!’

A powerful surge leaped out of the vortex and dissipated on impact of a forcefield, which was activated just in time. Surprised by this move, a demon temporarily revealed itself, only to disappear immediately into thin air.

‘I can follow him through the heat he gives off. The temperatures are too high to be human.’

‘Professor, what kind of monster is attacking us? I cannot recall any such beings in history other than in myths and legends.’

‘If I knew what to make of this creature, Angelica, I would gladly tell you.’ He shouts to the demon, ‘Excuse me, creature. Why are you attacking us?’

A hissing and raspy voice answers, ‘Give me the Xena woman and you shall go free.’

‘I cannot do that.’

‘Then die.’ Another surge of intensified energy bursts out of the vortex. The force-field rippled, but did not let it through. Quick as they can, Angelica and the Professor ran back to the ship. The ground shuddered and a chasm appeared in front of them. Turning off their personal force-field they jumped over and barely made it until the Professor slipped and clings on for his life to the side of the chasm. Angelica reaches over and tried to pull her companion to safety, when suddenly, the demon snatches her away with enough force to pull and throw the Professor stumbling into his craft.

Just in time, the ship’s own defense system turned on deflecting another powerful surge from the vortex.

Then everything is quiet.

Angelica is gone.

* * *

Ares’ Emissary had successfully completed its task. Or so it thinks. At least the woman lay quiet. Must have passed out. Who cares. Through a labyrinth of channels and tunnels the creature bore Angelica on its bony back through the Underworld. They arrived at the granite gates of the Infernal Regions of Hades. Cerberus, the three-headed hound-dog of Hades let them through without a yelp. Getting out poses more of a problem then getting in. Just then Angelica woke up and let out a bloodcurdling scream (which is only natural under those circumstances). Ares was waiting inside a splendid chamber.

‘Welcome to my humble abode.’ He expressed with a jeery and deadly smile. ‘My Uncle Hades and Aunt Helen have taken leave of absence for a couple of years. So this gives us a bit of time to improve on the place with living specimens. One gets a bit bored with all these dead shadows about. Now tell me, my dear, what is your name?’ The God of War asked ever so politely.

‘My name is Angelica,’ and with some natural curiosity asked, ’What is this place?’

‘Insolence.’ The demon was about to strike her, but Angelica, knowing several forms of Martial Arts demonstrated she could thwart even the most powerful of foes.

‘Excellent,’ beamed the War God. ‘Your fighting skills surpass that of my Warrior Princess. You are related to Xena? No, I would have met you much sooner than this.’

‘Who are you?’ she asked quietly, waiting for an answer that would never come.

Ares’ face came alarmingly close to Angelica. She closed her eyes in fear, but now a telepathic link opened her mind to Ares.

The-future… Professor… time-ship… search-for-ancestors… DNA-link… death… eternal life… Hell… demons… where-am-I… when-am-I…!

Angelica tried to pull away, but she was mesmerized. The alien thoughts kept on probing her mind. Then the pain in her head sub-sided. The pulling and probing had gone.

‘This is getting out of hand. I am not patient, but I do like a bit of excitement. Will I still have power over man in the future, like making a war or two?’

‘Oh yes, I believe so anyway. You will have similar overtones to ‘The Anti-Christ’, who instigated a couple of wars in the early 20th Century.’

‘Interesting. With what kind of magic?’

‘A devastating weapon was created by the Allies called the Atom Bomb, to thwart the evil reign of terror of the Anti-Christ.’ She said.

‘Ah, a man after my own heart.’ The evil God beamed. ‘I must have this weapon,’ Ares said excitedly, ‘Make me one.’

Shock overwhelmed Angelica, ‘I don’t know how, only the Professor knows.’


‘My companion, Professor Bronwyk…’

* * *

Xena and Gabrielle had come to a scorched and gorged hilltop. While Gabrielle tethered Xena’s horse, the latter scouted further on foot. A little ahead lay a large metallic disc, faintly glowing in iridescent blue. Something groaned from within. Through an opening Xena saw the form of a man moving inside it. Thinking the machine was a living monster she took out her sword and gave it an almighty whack! Which resulted in her being thrown clear some twenty odd feet.

Curious as ever Gabrielle came to have a closer look. ‘This looks like a drawing out of ‘The Scroll of Prophecies’. An ancient scroll which revealed that someday the descendant of a warrior woman would come back through time and reap havoc on the old world. But then again, no prophesy ever had good news. I wonder why its here.’ Gabrielle poked her finger on to the forcefield. She got a slight shock which made her giggle. Xena got up, shaking herself like a mad dog and made for another attempt to slay the man-eating monster. Gabrielle just barely made her stop by convincing Xena, ‘Its a machine.’

At this point of time, the force-field was turned off and the Professor climbed out. He said something they didn’t understand and using sign language of patience, began rummaging through the compartment for something, finding it and turned it on. ‘Testing…testing…1,2,3…’

‘Greetings, my ladies. I am Professor Miles Bronwyk.’

‘I am Gabrielle and this is Xena.’

‘Pleased to meet you I’m sure. I have traveled a great distance with a companion, but on arrival here we seem to have been separated by a super natural being of some sort.’

‘Oh, that is nothing new. Everyone we meet up with always is in some spot of trouble with super natural beings. Its just a fact of life we have to li…’

‘Be quiet, Gabrielle!’ Xena interrupted. ‘What does your companion look like?’ She continued.

‘Ah well, she looks a little like you.’ The professor pointed to Xena.

‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ She spat in disgust.

‘Not at all. Here is a holographic picture of what Angelica looks like.’

An array of colours and light molded together to form a small image of Angelica. Xena stepped back in disbelief, whilst Gabrielle was fascinated how her hands went straight through the image. ‘What manner of magic is this!’ Xena exclaimed in horror. ‘Only Gods can perform such feats.’

‘On the contrary, I am not a God. I do believe there is some higher energy level controlling us, pulling the strings, I suppose. But everything you see here is all of the future, so to speak.’

‘What nonsense is this?’

‘No nonsense at all. As you can see, my clothes are very different than yours. Mine are machine woven. Yours is made by hand.’

‘It’s all very, very interesting,’ Gabrielle interjected. ‘But you said your companion went missing.’

‘Well yes, we got attacked by a cloaked demon…’

Xena was skeptical. ‘And you survived? I don’t believe it!’

‘Ah, well, you see…hum…I fell into my traveling machine, accidentally turning on the forcefield.’ The Professor explained.

Xena thought, ’He seems genuine. He must be a madman to talk such crazy talk with so much conviction.’

She said, ‘Can you prove that you remained unharmed under this force…field?’

‘Sure. Strike me with your sword. F.F.ON!’

Xena was fast, but not fast enough. She hit with enough force to cleave a man in half. The protective jolt she received again flung her back several meters, knocking her out of breath. She recovered quick enough to roll out of the way as her sword bore into the ground beside her.

Gabrielle watched in horror as all this was taking place. Concerned for her welfare, both Gabrielle and the Professor strode over to Xena, ‘Are you all right.’ They said at the same time?’

Xena lay there gasping for breath. ‘You must be a God. Only Gods are invulnerable to mortal wounds!’ she exclaimed in shock and surprise.

‘I hate to disillusion you. But I am just as mortal as you are. My shield is very effective, you know.’ The Professor explained.

* * *

In the meantime, Ares had decided on his plan of action. After whispering a few instructions to his emissary he turned to Angelica, ‘I have a gift for you.’ He handed her a deep brown colored amulet. ‘Keep this save for me as long as you like. Now you may go back to the top.’ He forgot to mention to her, that whoever wore this particular amulet, it would be the end of their life as they know it.

Angelica found it tingled slightly to her touch. Without any kind of suspicion she put the amulet on. It transformed her character immediately and she was under full control of the evil spirit called Deinos for however long it wanted her.

‘It is time to recapture the world once and for all. Angelica, your mission is to capture your friend the Professor and bring him to me. My sources tell me he is not far from here in the company of some locals. Eliminate the others. Now go!’

She quickly left. The amulet guided her steps. Her thoughts were confused. She tried to gain control of her actions, but the magic of the amulet subdued her relentlessly. Without any effort she climbed out of the rotting hole called Hades, straight into the arms of a large band of mercenaries.

‘Well, well, well! What have we here. This wench will give us a fair wage on the open market.’ One of the louts bemused.

‘Let me go…if you want to live.’ Angelica threatened.

The thieves roared in laughter, until two lay mortally wounded. Their laughter ceased abruptly. This time the leader intervened in a more civilized manner.

‘Not even Xena could fight so severely. Obviously you run some errand for a God. Have you need for some mortal assistance?’ The leader asked carefully.

The amulet did most of her thinking as she answered. ‘Very well. There are a few people en route. A thousand gold coins for whoever captures them.’ And as an afterthought she added. ‘I want them alive. Don’t harm them…much.’

‘That sounds like a good bargain. Do as she says.’ The leader of the clan demanded of his henchman. Then turned to Angelica, proffering his arm ‘As for you, my lady, let us adjourn to more civilized surroundings.’ And began guiding her towards their campsite. Angelica paused a moment and rummaged through the clothing of her involuntary victims finding several weapons she could use. The mercenary leader thought, ‘Even I don’t defile the dead in this way. Some evil God must be in control of her.’ A thought which could cost him his life.

* * *

Xena, Gabrielle and the Professor discussed their plan of the best way of finding Angelica. While the Professor used electrical devices, Xena used her skills as a tracker to find clues. She quickly chose a direction and bade the others to follow her. After a few miles inland, she came to a halt. Sensing danger, she bade the others to hide. The Professor had already scanned the area, ‘We are surrounded…five ahead, four behind. Here.’ He gave Gabrielle and Xena a thin belt with a small capsule attached. ‘Its a force-field. When you say ‘F.F.ON’ it’ll be activated. Gabrielle took it eagerly, but Xena refused. ‘At least keep it with you, it could be useful.’ Xena grudgingly accepted and quickly went on her way to find their foes.

After activating both their shields the professor indicated to Gabrielle on his scanner all that was happening. They could see Xena’s shape maneuvering around the ambush and surprisingly quickly disposed of three of them quite rapidly. The last two fled towards the Professor and Gabrielle’s hiding place, more or less.

Seeing their fleeing comrades in trouble the remaining four quickly connected with the surviving two. They stood poised and ready to do battle with whatever fiend dispersed of their comrades so rapidly. They didn’t have long to wait. A yodeling somersaulting figure appeared in their midst.

‘Excuse me, are you looking for me.’ They struck at the same time with their weapons. A gleeful cackle of laughter followed them as they were sent flying backwards through the air when their swords made contact with a force-field.

All the surviving bandits for fear of other magic scrambled up and tried to get away. Switching off her protective force-field she quickly intercepted one of their assailants for questioning. After a few quick jabs she instructed her prisoner, ‘I’ve just cut off the blood flowing to your brain. You have a minute to tell me who sent you.’

Panicking bulging eyes swiftly made a definite decision. ‘A woman with superhuman powers has sent us to capture you and your companions.’ Xena jabs the man again. ‘You will recover shortly. Anything else I should know?’

‘Well, she looks a lot like you and she wears a strange brown glowing amulet…’

‘Oh no!’

‘What is it?’ Asks the Professor.

Xena replies carefully, ‘I know the amulet this fool is talking about. I think Angelica may be possessed.’ She walks off to one side and stares aimlessly in the distance. Xena’s thoughts were reminiscing of her malicious past.

Gabrielle, ever ready to pry in affairs none of her concern asked her politely and endlessly to go on. ‘A long time ago, a good friend was given this same amulet by one of Ares’ emissary’s. It had practically sucked the life force out of him and made him cruel and evil. It changed his whole personality.’

‘Is there anything we can do to save Angelica?’ The Professor asked anxiously.

‘There might still be a small chance if we move quickly. You and Gabrielle go back to your machine. I shall take this opportunist here and take him to his camp.’

With these words they solemnly parted.

* * *

Angelica’s thoughts were in turmoil. ‘I have killed people. Why am I doing this.’ An appalling thought crept through her brain cells. You know you had to protect yourself…and me!

‘I don’t want to do this. Leave me alone.’

We are one forever. You will do my bidding now. I am in control. You cannot destroy me.

‘Oh yes, I can.’ She grabbed for the amulet. The pain that seared through her hands and body was of such an immense force she lost consciousness.

Sleep, sleep, my beauty. You and I are linked forever…till death do us part. Well, your death anyway.

* * *

Emil was a foreigner to these parts. When he was a young lad he ran away from the swamps of his homeland north-west from Greece. He met up and trained with the Goths and when the Gothic army had a fatal run-in with some of their enemies, Emil quickly changed sides, only to slip away from them as well. Traveling south he came was captured and brought to Rome, to fight as a Gladiator. He fought so well and viciously that the Emperor pardoned him and made him Commander of a small garrison. Leading his men into one battle after another he found himself more or less bored with his plight. Espionage was one of his favorite offenses. With a selected few, he crept out of the barracks under cover of darkness, to go on some unknown mission. Unbeknownst to Emil, a mutiny was about to take place. Certain officers, not liking to be commandeered by a foreigner, decided to capture their commander and banished him to the land of their enemies’ Gods. En rout to Greece, Emil managed to escape into Greece on his own and rig up his band of mercenaries to roam the countryside making a damn nuisance of themselves.

Then they met up with a dark maiden named Angelica. A history was to unfold. Emil entered the battle tent with only a minor concern. Angelica had told him that her former companion possessed a mechanical shield called a forcefield. This shield would only protect him if direct force was applied. Capturing with a net was the only way that the forcefield would turn on the protector. One of his scouts reported that Xena was on her way lugging a dead weight with her. Emil should tell Angelica of this news, but was very reluctant. Xena is not a woman to get tangled with.

He found the dark maiden asleep on a bed. The brown amulet was glistening on her chest. He reached out for it, but then changed his mind and quietly left the tent. [Imagine an extreme close-up of Angelica’s face as her eyes popped open.]

‘Tis be good fortune, my brothers. The dark maiden be asleep. We can just creep out of here while the going is good. I’ll not let you risk any of your necks just to…’

Emil’s eyes went blank with death. His body toppled forward as his head remained floating in mid-air. The sleek body of a woman stood about a foot or so behind the suspended head, an orange flash could be seen retracting back into a brown colored amulet. ‘Anyone thinking of leaving, will go through me first.’ She rasped.

‘My lady,’ one the curs stumbled forward onto his knees. ‘Xena is on her way. No one survives against her fighting skills…’

‘Very well, let us prepare a proper welcome.’ She said.

* * *

Gabrielle was relating another of her wild knowledge of myths and legends to the eagerly listening Professor Bronwyk. ‘Now this ancient scroll I found, had the exact description of your machine. It went a bit like this: ‘A flying discus glowing like the sun came from the heavens and bore down on mortal men, dispersing them to Hades for sanctuary. In its Cyclops eye one could see its victims trying escape.

Like a spider with its eight eyes, other vulgar visions could be seen within the discus mouth. Woe to all who will perish under this accursed monster.’

‘That doesn’t sound like my time machine at all.’ Interjected the Professor.

‘Oh, the premonitions never had any good news, and it also depends on one’s point of view.’ Gabrielle continued endlessly. ‘Actually this is the only scroll I read that comes even close to the description of your time machine, for instance, it is a discus and I gather that big round window is its eye. Not to mention that opening on the side would be its mouth. A monster if ever I saw one.’ They both laughed at the thought.

‘I think we’ve arrived.’ The Professor fumbled for a few seconds with a small device. They entered the mouth… ahem… doorway of the machine. ‘Come on, Gabrielle, you can sit there,’ he indicated a small seat well away from anything breakable. ‘I just have to adjust a few settings and we’re away.’ The machine began hovering. The Professor mumbled something incomprehensible. ‘Eureka, I found it.’ He pulled out an age old joystick from a 20th Century computer game and plugged it into a port on the terminal. A screen flickered on: ‘CALLIBRATION REQUIRED!’

The Professor followed the instructions on the screen and finally positioned himself in a more comfortable position and pushed the joystick forward. ‘Now we are on the move.’

Gabrielle was astonished at how silently and quickly the vehicle moved over the landscape. On a navigation screen she could see a blue dot moving smoothly over certain contours coinciding with the relative movement outside. ‘Okay, we are at the spot where the villains ambushed us.’

‘We are?’ Gabrielle asked astonished. ‘That was so fast.’

‘Yes, and it will take no time at all to catch up with Xena. But I think it would be best if we remain a little behind, for strategic purposes.’

They remained on a virtual straight-line course, until they came to a little clearing. ‘This is strange, there is a tied up body in the bushes over there. Aha, your friend Xena is up a tree. Let’s surprise her.’

The machine elevated straight up and hovered a few feet away from the flabbergasted Warrior Princess who nearly fell off her perch. Hailing frequencies opened up, ‘Greetings, Xena. Have you need for some assistance?’

‘Get out of the way, do you want the whole world to see where we are?’ Xena had lost her temper again.

‘Oh sorry.’ They reunited on solid ground.

‘What’s wrong with your prisoner?’ Asked Gabrielle.

‘He fainted when he saw a glowing monster coming over the horizon in this direction. By the way, how did you get this thing to move? There are no wheels. This is very puzzling.’ Said Xena.

‘It is all part of modern technology.’ Replied the Professor. ‘But let us be on our way. Time is running against us when we delay finding Angelica.’

Our threesome arrived on the outskirts of the mercenary camp. Having tied up their hostage in the bushes for his own safety, they made their way cautiously around the camp. Xena had remained on horseback, whilst the Professor and Gabrielle traveled in the TM. The Professor scanned the area. ‘I’m very puzzled about this. I can’t pick up any life forms at all.’

‘Does your friend share your knowledge of the future?’ Xena asked quietly.

‘Yes.’ Something clicked in the Professors mind when he continued, ‘And it is just an easy step for her to change her forcefield into a cloaking device.’

Xena’s intuition assumed this new information rapidly as she exploded, ‘She has a forcefield like yours and you didn’t tell me about that?’

‘Actually its not a forcefield anymore, therefore she is still vulnerable. But you see, a cloaking device covers a large area. There are a few advantages; we can’t see them, but they can’t see us either.’ The Professor explained quickly.

‘Oh great, my favorite game with the dark forces… hide and seek.’ Xena bemused sarcastically.

‘Gabrielle, stay with the Professor. I’m going to scout around this way. You sneak around the encampment that-a-way. Whatever you do, don’t go inside the camp, stay on the outskirts. Oh, and don’t make any noise.’ She instructed.

‘I think it would be saver if we moved inside the cloaking area…’The Professor interjected. Xena continued tersely, ‘Stay on the outskirts!’

‘Please,’ Gabrielle said calmly, ‘Xena always gets a little stressed when people don’t do as she says. She is a commander after all. They parted and the fun began.

* * *

The brown amulet knew Xena was close. Soon I will be with you once more, my warrior princess, and this time you will not elude me.

Ah, Angelica, your skills as a futuristic technician will be sorely missed. But your knowledge will live on through me.

My oh my, you’re a feisty one. Struggling against the ropes of pain. Your soul is trapped in my will. You cannot escape alive.

‘Let… me… go!’ Angelica screamed her thoughts through the cracks of pain.

Oh no, my dear, I cannot let you go. I have need of your assistance here.

Our Master needs your Professor for a grand scheme.

But I have other plans, much broader than His.

A cackle of laughter and lightning coursed through Angelica’s veins, as again she fell in a hopeless slumber of despair. Deinos took control, once more the victor.

* * *

The tent entrance flapped open as one of the curs stumbled through, ‘My Lady, a strange machine was traveling on the outskirts. A man and a girl stepped out of the machine and we captured them with the net. Also Xena is skirting around the other side of the camp.’

‘Good, that makes it easier to capture her. Prepare to throw the other net as soon as she comes within reach.’

The villain quickly left to do her bidding, but did not get very far as Xena dispatched him to another world. She slipped quickly but quietly inside the tent and let loose a hoarse whisper, ‘That is one of the worst welcomes I’ve had in ages. You really have to be more imaginative to capture me, Deinos.’

Deinos turned Angelica’s body around in and cried in exasperation, ‘How…’ But she couldn’t finish her question as blackness veiled all around her, the result of a sharp blow of the hilt of a sword colliding the side of her head. As Angelica succumbed into unconsciousness, the brown amulet vibrated with sudden terror of recognition as it babbled the thoughts, ‘She spoke my name. She knows my name. She knows who I am. Ares, help me…’

Xena skillfully unclasped the intricate chain of the amulet and let it slip into a leather pouch she held ready. She made to pick up the frail form of Angelica, but some outside noise made her hide herself quickly. As she peered through the cracks of the tent flap she was astounded that Gabrielle and the Professor were captured. Obviously a net had been thrown over them and therefore the forcefield would have had an adverse effect on them. The machine was nowhere in sight.

Xena also noticed an evil shadow flowing closer to the captives, and knew instantly that it was one of Ares’ emissaries. It pointed to the Professor only. Suddenly, both the emissary and the Professor had disappeared into thin air, leaving only Gabrielle trapped within barbaric hands.

If there is anything more frustrating for the Warrior Princess, it will be one of her friends in big trouble. Fighting other peoples battles is not one of her favorite subjects. To defend herself is easy. But to keep looking over her shoulder to look after anybody else had always been an overwhelming chore. Now she had to dispatch all of these louts to save her friend, again.

Yodeling she landed within their midst, cutting Gabrielle free from the net in one swipe of her mighty sword, and whilst swinging in looping eighths, propelled a few incoming weaponry out of harms way.

Free at last, Gabrielle picked up a nearby lance, poised to defend herself as best she can. She remembered one of Xena’s many lessons, ‘Pick up a weapon, you make yourself a target.’ Wise words never to be forgotten, ever.

Intrigued by this new vision, a couple of the villains soon took on the challenge, never taking into account that Xena’s apprentice had been taught by the best of all warriors. Having never drawn blood, this would be Gabrielle’s first time, although her opponents would survive her onslaught with some minor maiming.

Xena was fighting her final foes when the enemy decided running would be their best option. If the remaining mercenaries survive, maybe they should get a real job, like joining the army. Much saver than fighting mad women.

To their surprise Gabrielle tended the wounds of her enemies that she inflicted on them whilst defending herself. This form of compassion was very bewildering to these men of violence.

Meanwhile, Xena had satisfied herself that everything was save and sound. She made her way through the garbage to Angelica’s tent. Upon entering she found that Angelica had regained consciousness. Exotic eyes looked questioningly at a bewildering familiar face.

‘Don’t be afraid, you are save now. I took away the amulet.’ Xena explained.

A hand shot up to where the amulet had hung. Relief and happiness filled the somber face that looked oh so familiar to her own.

‘Thank you for saving me from that thing…Xena.’

‘Deinos won’t harm you anymore, Angelica. Although some scars may have occurred. Did the stone make you kill anyone?’

‘Yes.’ She whispered hoarsely.

‘Who were they?’

‘All three were mercenaries who, in the long run became my private little army.’ Angelica answered reluctantly.

‘Oh well, at least no innocents died, but the vileness will still course through your veins for some time. Sometimes you will not be able to decide right from wrong.’ Xena tried to explain.

‘So that is why I’m so confused if I should trust you or not?’

‘Yes, but even trust is a two-edged sword.’

* * *

The Professor was amazed at the skillfulness of his foe. He did not realize that they had been transported through time and space into another dimension. This dimension is between Heaven and Earth. Some would term it Hell, but it is also known in the form of Infernal Regions of Hades. Its Godlike supervisors, Hades and Helen, were away for a well deserved change of scenery. Their nephew Ares is looking after the place, mainly for curfew reasons, as he of all the Gods is a warmonger and troublemaker. Trapped in this rotting hole, Ares only had his wit and intuition to keep him company. Whilst his ears had to endure moans, groans, screams and woes from all the deceased roaming aimlessly around. All of these mortally born humans died through Ares’ warmongering. And as they do right now, so shall he suffer the consequences.

Professor Bronwyk was fully conscious of all happenings. He deduced that the living dead had some form of power of transportation, traveling with superhuman ability at tremendous speed through unfathomable passages and dimensions. His force-field was of virtually no use as no direct force was applied towards him. The creature just simply held him in place, pain had no effect on it. It had learned well from their first encounter.

They swiftly entered Ares’ main chamber. Having been relinquished from the subtle grasp of the thing, Professor Bronwyk let go a silent gasp. Overwhelmed at the sight of his new surroundings he could not help but be impressed at the sight.

Torches hung suspended in cradles from every wall, lush carpets hung from wall to ceiling. Two thrones stood ten paces from where he was deposited. Ares sat on one of the thrones, studying the Professor intently. And the Professor was looking over the Demi-God as well.

‘Professor Miles Bronwyk, I presume.’ The God spoke. The Professor gave a quick nod, but said nothing. ‘Well, at least you’re more polite than that wench that has eluded my grasp. Very well, let us get straight to the point. I have need of a special weapon that only you can make: the Atom Bomb!’

The Professor stumbled back in sudden horror as he exclaimed, ‘You don’t know what you’re asking of me. I am a scientist of peace, not of war. Atom bombs are the destruction of mankind. It should never have been invented in the first place. Do you really want to have the wrath of Zeus on your plate if you continue with this madness?’

‘Oh you are a brave one. Do you really think I care about his wrath.’

‘The sparse population,’ the Professor interjected, ‘would be wiped out completely with this weapon. Not only that, but the exhaust effect will be very noticeable. It would also have an adverse affect on the space time continuum. The future would be significantly altered.’

‘Stop! You are making it sound worse than it is.’ The God of War was starting to panic.

‘Very well, I can show you on my machine. Can your demons bring my machine over here?’ the Professor asked craftily.

‘Of course, it will be here shortly.’ The God of War has regained his composure, somewhat.

‘We must save Miles,’ Angelica said. ‘Ares will never let his mind at peace, now that He wants the Atom bomb.’

Xena was getting curious, ‘What is this Atom bomb?’

‘Its the most devastating of all weapons, in the wrong hands it could destroy the world, and it nearly did, in the future.’ Angelica explained.

‘Then we must find a way into Hades as quickly as possible.’ Xena concluded.

‘When I was still in the power of Deinos, I climbed out of a small cave hole, which reminded me of the airducts of certain large buildings back home. Its not far from here.’ The three women took what provisions they could carry for their journey. They quickly found the hole. Angelica led the way down the shute. ‘As I remember it, this hole bypasses the gate to the Infernal Regions completely, so we are not going to run into Cerberus the three-headed dog of Hades.’

* * *

The Professor was mulling his plan over and over in his mind, when suddenly an alien thought waltzed in. ‘Very interesting, you plan to show me the future on your machine. This is to convince me of the evil I will unleash on the populace. No, I am not convinced. Show me, if you dare.’ The mind-link left the Professor so suddenly, it left him gasping for breath for a few seconds. Ares was completely unconcerned for his captive’s welfare. Just another weak-minded mortal, he thought.

Soon the emissaries of the War-God brought in the time machine. The Professor entered inside and commenced to prepare, with visual aid, a little surprise for the Demi-God.

‘Could you dim the lights please?’ The Professor asked politely.

And like a magician with a wave of his majestic hands about half the torches burnt half light. The Professor, on cue, let forth an array of holographic matter and colors, which formed together shapes and sizes of vast magnitudes. It even filled up the smallest crevice within the chamber. With the historical pictures the booming voice of a narrator explained all that was being shown. Footage ages long past flooded the throne room until at last it came to pass on the first nuclear tests. As the explosion took place, the Professor paused the picture and explained to the dumb stricken Demi-God, ‘This is the explosion of an atom bomb. This is the most devastating weapon ever built by the human race.’

Ares managed to ask astounded, ‘Mortals made this?’

‘Of course. Science and religion sky rocketed after the inhabitants of Mount Olympus retired [or expired].’

The professor was not done yet, ‘It is very simple, the atom bomb will annihilate everything. This includes Mount Olympus. You will be a God without a world. I believe Zeus will probably give you the ultimate punishment: mortality!’

The God of War could no longer control himself. Screaming in terror, Ares escaped the throne room looking for a dark hole to hide in. As the professor had concluded earlier, the War-God had the thought patterns of a child, and could be manipulated as such. After all, each God had a specific duty to perform in the make up of the world and as long as the earth was not harmed in any adverse way, the Gods would do as they pleased. In time the legend of Mount Olympus’ inhabitants would disappear as modern sciences and religions would take over the world.

In the meantime, Professor Bronwyk mulled around the idea of escaping Hades.

* * *

It took them a lot longer than anticipated to reach an overhanging ledge into the dark regions. Once their eyes were used to the dark, they could discern shapes moving about. The noises were unbearable and depressing. If this is what death is like, no wonder that the Gods want to stay immortal. The three women were about to negotiate the ledge when a heart curdling scream met their ears. The whole foundation shook and they nearly lost their footing. Unbeknownst to them this happened to be at the same time that the Professor had related his cruel history lesson to the vile God, who had ample time to rapidly vacate his premises. The women saw a red flame dart its way rapidly through the crevices of Hell seemingly looking for the darkest spot to hide in. At this time they saw the frail form of the Professor come into view.

‘Amazing, he’s alive.’ They all exclaimed in relief and pleasant surprise.

They hurried towards him and overjoyed with their reunion were completely unaware that Ares’ emissaries, in their masters’ embarrassing absence had formed a small crushing army around them, completely cutting them off from any quick escape from the domain.

Realizing that they were trapped, Xena bid her companions to quickly go back into the throne room, while she attempted to keep the skeletal monsters at bay. Angelica joined Xena by her side, fighting ferociously as if seeking vengeance in some way.

Chopping away at the animated bones seemed hard work, also because the army was never ending and ruthless. Just as Xena and her clan were about to give way to the onslaught, a loud booming voice halted the deathless movement.

‘What is going on here?’ A large fat and ugly man, with a beautiful maiden at his side entered the premises. ‘What are mortals doing here in my humble domain.’

Able to breath again, Xena answered, ‘I am Xena. My friends and I have been continually harassed and kidnapped by Ares, God of War.’

‘That is just great, whenever we go on holiday, Ares always makes a mess of things. Doesn’t he realize it’s too crowded in here as it is. I really should have a stern talk to that boy. Where is he now, Xena?’ The God Hades asked politely.

‘I believe he went that-a-way,’ pointing in an obscure direction. ‘Looking for a dark hole, I think.’ Everyone giggled.

‘Very well, goodbye then. Helen will show you a quick way out. We don’t like having live people here too long. Too depressing for both parties concerned. Oh?’ A powerful hand picked up a saucer shaped disc. ‘Is this yours? You’d better take this with you. Try to leave other people’s places a little more tidy in future.’

The little group quickly climbed into the machine. Xena was reluctant at first, but realizing the metallic monster’s force-field was turned off, she made to follow the others. In hover mode The Professor followed the maiden God at a discreet distance. The skeletal army quickly gave way. ‘Cerberus won’t harm you, for I am with you.’ Helen reassured them.

At last the companions were back in the fresh air. This was the right time to get reacquainted. Xena found her horse Argot roaming untethered nearby. They traveled together for a short time and then parted their ways futuristically. Angelica and Professor Bronwyk had to go back to the future. Angelica apparently suffered no side effects after the removal of Deinos, the brown amulet. The future may not have been affected at all by the harsh removal of three villains. After a hasty farewell, they climbed into the disc and the Professor started the time machine. As before, the machine started humming, the outside disc began spinning clockwise this time. Again everything turned black outside as if in a void. A red timeline appeared on the screen and it slowly but steadily moved up from the blue until it finally merged with the green timeline. The disc stopped spinning and our companions emerged from the time machine into Professor Bronwyk’s laboratory.

‘Miles, was it a dream or did we really travel to the past?’

‘I think we did break the time barrier. To dream the same dream with so much splendor and atrocities does not fit in with dreaming as a whole. How did you like meeting one of your ancestors?’

Angelica considered her answer carefully, ‘A sad but strong willed character. Xena has a long way to go before settling down. Obviously she will have a child in her future.’

‘Why do you say that?’

‘I am related to her, I am here. If she has had no children, I would not exist. If Xena dies prematurely I will cease to exist also. I think I should go back and travel with her.’

‘That would be too dangerous. No, I won’t allow it…’ A sharp blow in the back of the neck silenced the Professor temporarily.

‘I’m sorry Miles, but it is something I have to do.’ Angelica propped the unconscious Professor on the couch in the living room and locked the door leading into the lab. She quickly stored up a few provisions. Nimble fingers set the machine to new coordinates. The humming began and the machine started spinning anti-clockwise. Then she was gone. Traveling through time and space to the land of myths and legends. What adventures await Angelica there?


* * *


by R.B.Kloosteboer

It seemed that she had been wandering this world in a delirium forever. The sun was beating on her exposed head for an eternity. Everyone that was with her was dead. The attack by the raiders was calculated and precise when they came out of nowhere. Everything precious to her was lost and stolen including her precious work - her one remaining reason to live. Her life was in that work and she was determined to get it back.

The sand was slowing her struggle as she sluggishly pulled herself forward one step at a time - cursing herself for coming to the Land of the Pharaohs. She winced as a forgotten numbness made a festering wound in her side break open. Encrusted blood broke and fresh blood flowed freely from the wound. The raiders left her for dead. The rage within her kept her alive. Her friends lay dead in the sands of the desert. Their bones lay exposed to the desert sun. If she survived she would avenge them. Nothing would prevent her from completing her quest. Her determination and stubbornness was what kept her alive today. And unless she found water soon - then today is all she was going to get. She stumbled again and saw a mirage. Maybe two or three miles away, she thought as she struggled on. Another vision came to her minds eye. A spectral figure from the past. The shadow said something - words of encouragement. Then the shadow too was gone. She was overwhelmed with loss as she collapsed in the sand awaiting anything the fates had in store for her. People were coming. They were hurrying to catch her. All was lost as she succumbed to the awaiting darkness.

* * *

'Rashid, what are these things? They are worthless.'

The bargaining had been entering a final stage. The handwritten scrolls of a foreign bard could fetch quite a bit of gold on the free market. Ahmed Abu Rashid knew this little fact.

'Don't try to misle me, old man. I went through a lot of trouble acquiring these scrolls.' Rashid confided mysteriously. Then he showed him a most unusual weapon.

'That's a chakram! Only one person carries a chakram!' The old man exclaimed.

'Yes - Xena the Warrior Princess. I killed her!' Rashid boasted with pride.

'Impossible! You lie - no one can kill the Warrior Princess.'

'Nevertheless she is dead - and I have witnesses.' Rashid gestured around.

Ali, the old fence - looked at this young protégé with disdain. 'That chakram will buy you an army.'

'I rather want to master its blade. It is not for sale. The scrolls belonged to a Greek bard.'

'Any survivors?' Ali asked.

'You think me a fool. What use are survivors to me. They are all dead.' Rashid said confidently.

'If Xena still lives…'

Rashid grabbed Ali by his tunic. 'Respect, old friend,' he hissed. 'Xena is dead - a formidable fighter - there was no one quite like her, let it be.'

He let Ali abruptly go, looking around for other ware. 'How much for the scrolls?'

* * *

A vision was in front of her. A vision of great strength and great beauty.

'I miss you.' She thought.

'I miss you too.' The vision spoke softly to her, embracing her with strong loving arms. She started to weep. The vision left her - gliding silently away.

'Please don't go!' She whispered her thoughts. 'Don't leave me, I can't go on without you.'

The soothing light was gone. The vision was gone. She was alone. She was awake. Tears still stinging her emerald eyes.

'She's awake! Send a messenger to Irene…go now.' A voice of authority. A bright light flashed briefly as a tent flap opened and closed. A pretty face appeared in front of her.

'Can you hear me? Here, sit up, take this.'

She was helped up and a cup with some foul smelling stuff was thrust in her callused hands. Not questioning it, she gulped it down quickly - choking on the foul taste.

'Hey-hey, take it easy. Oh, too late.'

She started to convulse heavily, then a surge of pain went through her right side.

'I'm afraid you've lost a rib. We found the remains of your caravan and your track led us to you. Another day and…'

Lying back no voice came as she mouthed the words 'Thank you', she squeezed her new friend's hand tightly.

Squinting, the tent flap opened abruptly and a familiar silhouette came in. She knew this person. An Amazon leader from the Land of Arabia. Irene kneeled in front of her.

'Queen Gabrielle! Welcome.'

* * *

After a few days recovering from her ordeal Gabrielle felt much better although the wound was severe to cause some discomfort for several months to come. She soon learned that the method of attack was a signature strategy of a notorious raider named Ahmed Abu Rashid. His thrust is so severe it can crush bone on impact.

'Tell me about it - it nearly killed me, Irene.'

'Gabrielle, in the name of Allah, you should be dead.'

Gabrielle looked Irene in surprise, 'You spoke the name of your god out loud.'

'Yes - in front of a warrior who has cheated death so many times…your gods and mine watch over you - you are in their favour.'

Gabrielle looked away, hiding the sudden blush that flushed her face. Tufts of reddish blond strands escaped the turban she wore. Crimson and black to indicate her noble stature. A leader born of a different nation yet willing to uphold her right of caste as long as that right remained to her. The camel that bore her feather-weight sauntered sure-footed over the mountain dunes. Their destination was clear. Walking on from one water hole to the next. Gabrielle saw a shadow form in her minds eye. A friend long dead now, pointing the way for her destination. Her friend's ashes were to the East of where they were. Maybe Rashid was still there as well.

'We have to travel East. How long before reaching a major city in that direction, Irene?'

Irene looked at Gabrielle with barely a surprise showing. 'A week, maybe ten days travel, Gabrielle.'

'Good enough, the son of scar-face will pay dearly for his crimes.' Gabrielle smiled sadly as she watched the shadow disappear from sight.

* * *


The scoundrel turned drunkenly at the sound of his name.

'You are in big trouble, man. The Amazons are after your hide.' An informant told the thief.

'I made no trouble with the Amazons.' Rashid challenged.

'That's not what the rumors are. You tried to knock off one of their Queens and now all the tribes are hunting for you.'

'WHAT!' Rashid grabbed one of the fellows by tunic. 'I never touched any of 'em.'

'Ha! This Amazon queen is a Greek Bard. And if this happens to be the infamous Gabrielle then she will not be too happy for you knocking off her...ungh!'

Rashid plunged his dagger into the bearer of bad tidings. He wiped his blade clean on the corpse's tunic. Sculled the rest of his ale and left the tavern. No one dared to stop him.

A grumbling chuckle stirred the most drunken vagrant to quiver with fear as the dead body stood up and morphed into the immortal God-of-War himself.

'Aaaah! A villain after my own heart! This looks very promising.'

* * *

Somewhere in the future a different adventure had just ended. A descendant of the Warrior Princess was discussing an incredible experience.

'Miles…was it a dream or did we really travel to the past?' Angelica Zenexia asked her friend Professor Miles Bronwyk after arriving back from their trip to the past.

'I think we did break the time barrier. To dream such a dream with so much splendor and atrocities does not fit in with dreaming as a whole.' He paused. 'How did you like meeting one on your ancestors?'

Angelica considered her answer carefully. 'A sad but strong-willed character. Xena has a long way to go before settling down.' She seemed to be in deep thought for a moment, then continued with a determined smile, 'Obviously she will have a child in her future.'

'Why do you say that?'

'I am related to her. I am here.' She laughed. 'If she has had no children I would not exist.' Angelica's thoughts turned suddenly dour. 'If Xena dies prematurely I will cease to exist also…I think I should go back and travel with her.' She said resolutely.

Miles sat up straight. 'That would be too dangerous…no, I won't allow it…' A sharp blow in the back of the neck silenced the Professor temporarily.

'I'm sorry Miles. But it is something I have to do.'

Angelica propped the unconscious Professor on the couch in the living room and locked the door leading into the lab. Xena's look-a-like descendant quickly stored up a few provisions before nimble fingers set up the machine to new coordinates.

The humming began and the machine started spinning anti-clockwise.

Angelica Zenexia felt the time distortion as she traveled back in time. Her own life had changed so dramatically that she felt an overwhelming determination to redeem herself just like her ancestor Xena did. She felt the craft lurch sideways into another time-zone and everything slowed to a halt. Angelica remembered this place from old photographs, fascinated that thousands of years could leave some dwellings so unchanged. Leaving her time-machine near an oasis she sauntered over to the dwelling. An intuition of sensing danger alerted her to an arrow being launched in her direction. Just like her ancestor Xena, Angelica caught the arrow in mid-flight. A gasp was heard and Angelica suspected it was a surprise of her skill. She stayed standing absolutely still and proclaimed. 'I come in peace. Do not be afraid.'

'Go away demon.' A shout from the dwelling.

'I am not here to harm you. I need some guidance.'

She heard a faint crunching of sandals on sand behind her and Angelica launched herself up, over and behind her would-be attackers. Battle ready she awaited their next move. She did not have long to wait as the blades slashed close to her. Angelica easily evaded the assault by ducking backwards. Unarmed herself, she stayed out of reach from the cumbersome attackers. Her first attacker made a mistake and she easily blocked his sword-arm, grabbed his wrist, pulled it towards her and twisted it anti-clockwise, forcing him to not only drop his weapon but yell in surprise as Angelica was in full control of his actions. With a quick flick of her shoe she had the curved sword in her hand. The other man suddenly grew courage and attacked. Still holding onto the other in a simple wrist-lock Angelica had no problem defending herself easily - her spitting image of her ancestor Xena on her visage she cackled with berserker glee as her second opponent grew more desperate against the she-demon.

Another mistake and her second attacker's sword flew out of his nervous grasp. Holding the sword close to his throat she said, 'Enough of playing games. All I need is directions and then I'm on my way - I don't want any trouble. Understood?'

A quick nod. Then they moved to the mud-house.

* * *

At a peaceful oasis Gabrielle needed to meditate. Her grief for Xena still burned freshly in her mind. She wanted to let go, but couldn't. Only attaining a stillness of her mind to numb the physical pain of her side and mental pain of her loss would make sense of current events. She visualized a tunnel in her mind and reached eagerly for it.

Freedom at last.

She looked around the oasis in awe and noted the clusters of Bedouin tents nearby. Saw a woman dressed in dark grays and black, an unusual color for people from the desert. She hovered for a closer look and recognized herself. Her face was so sad as Gabrielle's soul recognized the pain of loss described on her countenance.

Gabrielle's soul was free from her pain.

She felt elated and free.

Her thoughts wandered through past events. A nightmare bothered her. A face etched in her mind's eye. The killer of her soul. The murderer of her friends.

She remembered little Alya.

Alya could draw such pretty pictures. Her father Benyam spoke of words in those pictures. Alya was writing a story of a warrior using their ancient language.

Poor Alya. So young. So much talent.

Gabrielle couldn't protect them.

Her guilt was showing her failure to protect her friends.

She was one against many.

The attack was swift and precise.

Alya screamed as five arrows struck Benyam down just after dawn. Taking up arms, Benyam's surviving family and friends took up positions defending the women and children. Gabrielle fought like a tiger. She knew not how many she dispatched to the nether regions until she faced off with the leader of the raiders.

His sword was not of the region - it looked too exotic for the Land of Arabia. Its blade was made of a bluish tinted wave and was razor sharp on four equal edges. A hand guard protected the wrist area but the hilt had a strange hand-grip perpendicular to the standard hilt. It almost seemed like that one could punch with this weapon.

Knowing the sais would have no effect on this weapon Gabrielle unsheathed Xena's sword instead. The unusual weapon seemed to sing every time the blades touched. Gabrielle proofed formidable in the eyes of her attacker.

Distracted temporarily Gabrielle let loose the chakram as her young friend was about to be struck. The chakram cleaved its way through the man's skull, but could not return to Gabrielle's hand. Cursing at the unreachable loss she continued to parry. Defense of herself and defense of her ward became paramount. Her opponents strategy was as simple as the weapons design was complex as he thrust the weapon like a punch.

Gabrielle was almost sure that this weapon was one of a pair, but her thoughts were painfully interrupted as her opponents blade deflected and cut through her side. Not stopping she felt a crushing blow to her rib-cage as the punch effect made itself clear.

As Gabrielle lost consciousness she heard Alya's scream abruptly cut-off as oblivion set in.

Her memory wavered and Gabrielle shuddered as she realized she had slipped into a nightmare.

'Gabrielle!' A voice she recognized.

'Xena! Where are you?'

'With little angel. Sharing life.' Xena's ghost replied mysteriously.

'My friends are dead. I couldn't save them. I couldn't save you.' Despair in thought. There was no relief in meditation. Gabrielle felt guilty of the loss of life.

Everything morphed around Gabrielle as she saw her surroundings change into the Chamber of War.

'I am not here. Not in the chamber of the War-God.' She denied.

A rumbling answer made Gabrielle turn towards an occupied throne, 'That's right. You are physically still in the Land of Arabia, but your soul is with me.' He stood up and sauntered nonchalantly towards her.

'Welcome to my humble abode, Queen Gabrielle!' Ares curtsied with a broad, cheeky smile.

* * *

'ARES!' Gabrielle spat the name out in fury and disgust. Anger overwhelmed her to have her spirit abducted to this place of despise.

Ares closed his eyes and breathed deeply, exited about the passion brought forth by the little Amazon Queen. For him anger, pain, revenge was like music to his ears. He can form any soul to do his bidding in this state. Gabrielle was no different and she was ripe for the transformation.

'What-do-you-want-now!' It was a statement, more than a question. His eyes snapped open and he relaxed more to study the creature captured in front of him.

'I offer you my services as your teacher for the mission you are about to embark on.'

'What's in it for you?' Sarcasm flowing between clenched teeth.

'For me the satisfaction that your revenge will be complete,' he paused, then continued ominously, 'with my help.'

Gabrielle considered momentarily. She remembered something.

'There is a weapon - a sword…' she started. 'It is like no other sword I have ever seen. Do you know where I can find one just like it?'

Ares held out his hand and an image appeared of a similar sword to that owned by Rashid, except that this one had tints of red instead of blue.

'There was a legend attached to these swords. They belonged to the Titans. This one,' Ares held up the reddish sword, 'is the Sister of Fire. You've met the crushing blow of the Sister of Air. This sword can be found in the catacombs under the city of Dianathea.'

'You could just give it to me.' Gabrielle said coolly.

Ares laughed. 'Where would be the fun in that? I want you to earn your sword.'

'I haven't agreed to anything yet…'

'And you haven't said no either. You've named your prize - now go claim it.' The God of War instructed.

With a wave of his hand Gabrielle found herself back inside her body at the oasis. Rattled about the meeting she could not confide to her friend Irene what had just transpired. Her mission had a new direction and she wanted this weapon to defeat her enemy. The one that killed Alya and her family. The one that crushed her compassionate soul and allowed Ares a hold on her heart.

* * *

Angelica changed into desert garb to blend in and paid for a horse after she had explained her good intentions with the superstitious farmer. The time-machine would remain hidden until such a time it would be needed. The farmer had pointed her direction towards Dianathea, about a good day's travel on horseback. Taking only what was necessary she was on her way. Her intuition told her that she was needed there.

At dusk Angelica reached the city gates. She hoped that there would be a tavern with rooms. As it turned out she could stay in a loft by the horses. She decided to seek out the local inn. Her translator was securely fastened and hidden as were the various weapons hidden under her cloak.

Angelica entered an establishment. 'Women are not allowed in here.' Informed the barkeeper rudely. All eyes turned to her menacingly.

'This is a good start.' She thought. 'I only want some information.'

Four burly Arabs blocked her way. 'So much for hospitality.' She thought again, then smiled cheekily. 'I don't want any trouble.'

'This is a private establishment and you are already in trouble - throw her out and teach her some manners.' The barkeeper instructed, not even looking in Angelica's direction anymore.

The first two guards grabbed Angelica from either side. She had no trouble twisting free and using their own power against them as she easily flipped them over simultaneously. A booted low thrust kick knocked both of them senseless.

The crowd gasped in surprise as the other two guards unsheathed their curved swords. Angelica anticipated them by somersaulting backwards to give herself some room. Upon landing she had a curved sword in each hand. The Xena look-a-like eyes lit up in anticipation and an intimidating smile struck fear in her enemy as she looked forward to slicing and dicing her opponents.

Patrons ran through hidden doorways or escaped through windows as Angelica realised she found a hornets nest by accident.

'Kill her!'

Another useless instruction as Angelica would like to talk to this barkeeper as soon as this skirmish has ended. The two slashed their swords toward her, one high and one low. Angelica blocked them with a little strain and counter acted by slicing up and down both her opponents sword arms. Undeterred and ignoring their screams of pain as they both clutched their bleeding forearms Angelica walked towards the a little black urn. A spectral figure hovered a little ways above it, smiling at Angelica's approach.

'Xena?' Angelica asked surprised and touched the urn.

Xena's shadow melted with her descendant. 'Angelica - don't panic. I need to borrow your body for a little while. Gabrielle is lost and we need to find her.'

'Xena - you're dead! I came too late.' Angelica sobbed the words in her thoughts.

'Watch out!'

Xena's thought warning came in time as the barkeeper attacked Angelica. She side-stepped the old man easily and tripped him. He fell noisily over table and stools grunting in exasperation.

'Angelica - let me interrogate him.' Angelica's soul moved aside as Xena possessed her new body temporarily.

Xena moved her descendants body steadily towards the barkeeper and pushed him over on his back roughly with her boot. He struggled to get up.

'Don't bother Ali.' Xena said knowingly and Ali gasped suddenly as the Pinch was applied.

'Xena…' Ali gasped in recognition.

'You know you have a few moments of life left - talk fast. Where's Rashid?'

'He's gone into hiding…<gasp>…as soon as he learned…<gasp>…that the Queen of the Amazons is after him.' Ali struggled.

The catacombs!

Xena released the pinch. 'The feeling will come back soon.'

Ali continued voluntarily. 'He will try and kill you again. His reputation depends on it.'

Xena gave Ali an icy stare. 'It seems as if Rashid should be more worried. Gabrielle keeps her promises. She has vowed to bring him to justice one way or another and she will succeed. I guarantee it!'

* * *

The Amazonian Nomads traveled from water hole to water hole. They asked for no trouble and no one made trouble with this band of formidable women. Self-sufficient they would travel from city to city to trade what-ever they salvaged from the desert or traded at other cities. After about ten days of traveling across miles of dunes a caravan of nomads entered the Roman occupied city of Dianathea, a name given by the Prefect Augustus in honor of his late wife. A merchant by trade, his recent occupation made this city the most thriving of all cities within the region despite of his position with the Roman Legions.

He was also the chief magistrate in the region. The locals found him fair and just, in spite of him being a Roman. A shrewd businessman, he does not see the point of executing potential clientele when there could be so much gained in profit for all, eventually.

Of course he did have a few thorns in his side and Ahmed Abu Rashid was just such a thorn. This time Rashid claimed to have killed Xena, the Warrior Princess. To prove his claim, he owned Xena's sword and chakram. Augustus was sure that this Rashid had stolen those items from somewhere.

In his youth Augustus remembered the Warrior Princess fighting alongside the Amazons. Not an Amazon herself she made a formidable opponent. Fortunately he himself had survived that crazy encounter. Whoever this brigand killed, it certainly was not Xena, of this Augustus was sure.

Such was the existence of the Amazon Nomads that Augustus, like every other male within these city walls was fascinated by these peaceful nomads. Until he heard the rumors of one Queen Gabrielle - a traveling Amazon from Greece, whom got raided by Ahmed Abu Rashid that her wrath for him was clear. Augustus knew enough of the Amazons that they would not let this matter rest, although a peaceful solution could be found Rashid must be captured first.

* * *

Alone with her thoughts Xena walked through the city streets. She figured the best place to look for Gabrielle would be near the camel stables. That was at the other end of town. Angelica's thoughts squirmed within her mind. She was still dealing with Xena's sudden demise. 'Don't worry, little angel. We'll find Gabrielle and keep her safe.' Xena whispered her thoughts to her avatar. She caressed the black urn with her ashes straddled in a black sash. Time had no meaning in the land of the dead and now Xena had renewed responsibility to keep her descendant and Gabrielle alive.

Xena found the camp within the walls of the city easily and sauntered over to the main tent of the Arabic Amazon Leader. The tent was obviously guarded well - Xena came in peace with the Amazons - but she also wanted to attract as little attention as possible. She sneaked around the back of the tent, then stealthily slipped in.

Xena realised her mistake too late as she got pinned down by skillful warriors. She struggled to free herself but recognized moves that she knew could have been taught by at least one other person still alive. She stopped struggling to free herself and the grips tightened restricting her movements further. Xena was led in front of a regal figure. She looked up into the weather-beaten face of the Amazon Leader Irene. Sitting on a dais a little beyond Irene sat another figure. Recognition was instantaneous as her eyes locked with her bard as Gabrielle gasped, 'Xena!'

* * *

Irene remained cool considering she was dealing with a phenomenon which occurred only in legends. It was enough to make cult followers to anyone who witnessed these events and miracles.

She was told by Gabrielle that Xena had died in Japan and now she was face-to-face with a woman who resembled Xena - had Xena's eyes staring through her. Yet this woman was not Xena. Her name was Angelica and she was a direct descendant of Xena. How this was possible was beyond her comprehension.

Gabrielle accepted Angelica too readily - even though Gabrielle claimed to have met this young woman before some thirty-five years ago.

Xena spoke through Angelica, 'We can find Rashid in the catacombs underneath the city.'

Gabrielle just nodded. Apparently not concentrating on the mission ahead. She turned to Irene. 'Can we have a moment alone?'

Irene hesitated.

Then complied curtly taking the Amazon guards outside.

Xena suddenly recognized a multitude of emotions dancing on the Bard's face. Emotions she felt as well now that she was back in a body. She would be ably to express her feelings for her bard, but that wouldn't be fair on Angelica - her descendant - whose body she had borrowed.

Gabrielle's eyes lit up questioningly. Xena's reaction was physical before she spoke the words as she leant close. 'Not now, I'm sorry.'

'Why?' Tears well up in misunderstanding.

'This body is not mine,' Xena whispered, 'It wouldn't be fair on Angelica.'

'I need you Xena.' Gabrielle was openly weeping now. The emotions of loss flowing freely as she fell into the inviting embrace of Xena. She comforted her friend as best she could while Gabrielle lay within her arms.

Xena realized the loss of her own life would be too hard to bear for the emotional, compassionate creature she fell in love with over three decades ago. Yet in her own death she felt freedom of guilt. Her spirit could roam freely without restriction. The body needed nurturing and its sensations fed the soul with experiences. As long as Xena remained a part of Angelica she would never feel as close to her bard as she was in the past.

For now Gabrielle was overwhelmed with emotions that were bottled up for years and all Xena could do now was just hold her best friend.

* * *

Getting into the catacombs was not very difficult. Xena had been here before and knew about some routes. She recognized the various signs she left as markers about four decades ago. She also knew about pitfalls within the tombs and told the small party to follow her lead as closely as possible. Angelica stirred within her mind, 'the Oil of Rejuvenation was said to be hidden in these tombs.'

'That's not the only thing that's hidden here, little angel.' Xena whispered to her host.

Irene went with them with five of her most trusted warriors. The catacombs would have the odd cut-throat hidden in the shadows. Word had spread that Gabrielle was out looking for Rashid. Who spread the gossip no one knows for sure. Rashid would be on alert. And that spells danger.

Gabrielle seemed strangely calm under the circumstances. Xena presumed that her friend had to endure alone for too long with her own thoughts for company. She knew it would be hard to open up bottled up feelings that have been suppressed for so long. But at the moment their goal was clear. At least Xena's goal was clear. Xena feared that Gabrielle might be in the grip of a different strain. Time would tell.

Shadows followed behind them. Keen hearing and sharp intuition had already noticed to stalkers. Although they felt more at home in the forests, the Amazons proved they were cunning adversaries in these caves as well. Their pursuers were quickly and silently dealt with. Traps slowed them down at every corner. Xena guided the party through the obstacles with ease.

A twinkle to one side caught Gabrielle's attention. Curious she stepped in that direction. Idle hands pulled her back swiftly as she realized a cunningly devised trap was sprung and narrowly missed her. Before her a shadowy silhouette beamed a cheeky smile as she saw Ares' countenance disappear from view.

'Gabrielle…are you all right?' Concerned voices of the Amazons but not from Xena.

Xena was examining the trap with curiosity. Studying it intensely she mumbled, 'This wasn't here before…'

Irene came up to her, 'What do you mean?'

'There may be more of these new traps around…' Xena face was full of concern as she looked straight at Gabrielle. 'We need a different plan. A way to lure him out in the open.'

Gabrielle's lit up with a spark of sudden insight. 'How about the Sister of Fire?'

'The what?' An astonished question of Irene.

Xena pondered.

'If we can find that sword…' Gabrielle began.

'Who told you of that accursed sword?' Xena asked tensely.

Gabrielle realised she said something she shouldn't have.

'Come on, Gabrielle. Who told you of the Sister of Fire?' Xena was tightening her grip on Gabrielle's upper arms.

The Amazon's were getting nervous as well as they noticed the fury building in both women.

'ARES!' A hoarse whisper. 'Ares told me I could have it to defeat Rashid.'

Before anyone could stop Xena, she uncovered the hidden wound Gabrielle had acquired in the near fatal fight with Rashid. Xena recognized its significance immediately, compassion in her eyes as more understanding dawned that only Xena could explain.

'Oh Gabrielle. Rashid struck you with the Sister of Air.'

'How did you…?'

'…Know?' Xena finished. 'Dangerous weapons of the Titans given as gifts to us humans long ago. Ares told me to seek these swords for him. Elemental swords, they must never touch each other.'

'You mean I could've died if I fought Rashid?' Gabrielle gasped.

Covering the wound gently Xena replied, 'Whatever deal you agreed to, my dear, would have ensured your sole survival - mostly in Ares' favour. Looks like you're the next of kin to the Warrior Princess status.'

Irene relaxed a little, 'now that we will no longer be needed here, we should go back to camp and see if we can lure our adversary out.'

'That won't be necessary. I have you right where I want you!' Ahmed Abu Rashid promised menacingly.

* * *

'This guy is really pissing me off!' Angelica's thoughts conveyed to Xena who remained stoic in a bemused way.

'Irene! Let's play hide and seek!' Xena instructed.

Instantly all the torches were extinguished and people could be heard moving. Rashid had not counted on the ingenuity of the Amazon's and within moments he felt a four quick jabs near his throat. He collapsed before another order could be ushered.

The light came on and a dozen of his men lay in a heap around the cavern, all the Amazons completely unscathed.

'We should play hide and seek more often.' Irene chuckled.

Gabrielle lunged towards Rashid suddenly, floored him and kept punching his face and kicking his paralyzed body.

Irene moved to stop her but Xena stopped her shaking her head with understanding in her eyes.

'Is her hate so far gone on this man?' Irene asked.

'She suffered several painful things within a short period. Her parents were executed by Ghurkan; I was killed in Japan and her surrogate family she traveled with were murdered by Rashid and his band of cut-throats. Do you understand?' Xena explained.

'Xena, this is wrong.' Angelica whispered and struggled to regain control of her own body.

'No, it is Gabrielle's right to avenge the death of family.' Xena concurred.

'Are you family? You hurt her too with your decision. Was that fair?' Angelica sliced through the thought.

'What I did, I did to protect her. From more pain in the future.' Xena whispered her thoughts.

'Aaw come on. This is the future and Gabrielle is in more pain than ever. If you really were here you would have stopped her from this path.'

Xena's thoughts sparred with Angelica for a few moments longer.

Angelica regained control. 'Gabrielle! STOP!'

Glazed eyes and bloodied fists looked up into a familiar face.

'Gabrielle, look at your hands - do you what you are doing?' Angelica asked.

'Revenge!' Gabrielle replied and the Sister of Fire appeared melodiously into her hands.

Angelica leapt back as Gabrielle transformed in front of her and the Amazons. Rashid, his face bruised and bloodied brought forth the Sister of Air and the sparring commenced.

Angelica's thoughts were roughly pushed aside by Xena. 'Gabrielle! Don't let the weapons touch.'

Gabrielle had only thoughts of revenge as she stared menacingly at Rashid.

'Irene, get your people out of here. I fear I cannot stop her.'

Reluctantly she obeyed. 'What about you?'

'I shall attempt to stop Gabrielle, but if you stay here you will die.' Xena explained as best she could. 'The Sisters are fighting for control.'

Blue and red snakes leapt from both weapons yet the bearers of the weapons remained unharmed. The Amazons were not so fortunate as either made them convulse in sudden spasms.

'Irene, you cannot fight them. GO!'

But Irene wanted to protect her Queen to the death. A blue snake consumed her thus.

Xena could no longer bear to watch. Only one creature could get her close enough.


Ares appeared in a flash between her and Gabrielle . 'Xena, to what do I owe the pleasure?'

'I've never asked for help before and I won't do that this time either.' Xena fumed. 'But this is your doing and I want you to fix it.'

'She's doing great, don't you think? Just like you were once upon a time.'

Xena saw a move that she knew would be blocked and that would mean…


An explosion sears Ares' back as Xena dives down.

* * *

Gabrielle wields the Sister of Fire expertly. Her rage inside her overwhelming her entire existence. The elemental sword sings joyously as it swings ever closer to the Sister of Air, wielded by Rashid. The swords collide and the resounding clang of harmony turns into a screech of agony.

Gabrielle's eyes widen with sudden disbelief as fire and air ignite to envelop her entire existence. Her body disintegrates as does Rashid's and their souls are still clutching the Sisters of Air and Fire. The thought of death does not occur to Gabrielle until it is too late to turn back.

Her link with Xena was severed further when her soul melts into the very existence of the sword, trapping her for eternity. Her soul screaming part of the melodious song that the Sister of Fire emanated as a warning for those who want to wield its power.

Rashid was no better off as he too was trapped instantaneously by the Sister of Air. Whatever schemes he had for past and future died with him and he'll never be freed.

Xena screamed in Angelica's head, but she paid no heed to her ancestor's anger and pain. Ares shielded her from the initial blast and she witnessed the extraordinary event as both Gabrielle and Rashid disintegrated before her. The resulting screams brought forth and beyond mixed with the screaming inside her own head as Gabrielle's soul got sucked into the elemental sword.

Angelica felt a nauseating pain deep inside her gut and clutching her heart as Xena's ghost wailed deep inside her. The bond was broken. Their soul-link severed. Angelica clutched her head with the continuous wailing. The pain was overwhelming and she fainted.

Ares fared no better. The ethereal flame gave him a bad burn on his back. He hadn't expected the abrupt death of Gabrielle.

'Whoops!' was his only response to the entire revelation.

Xena rose up and out of Angelica's body like the spirit she was. Distraught, the Warrior Princess confronted Ares in ethereal form. 'You could have prevented this. Now my soul-mate is completely gone. Trapped in that ancient monstrosity for eternity. I hope your happy, 'cause I'm certainly not.'

'I don't understand…this wasn't supposed to happen.' Ares tried.

'Gabrielle no longer exists anywhere. She was my hero - my friend. She is not only dead, but she is completely gone. Our connection to each other is severed by that sword.' Xena shouted her ethereal words to the God of War. Then she drifted closer to the Sister of Fire. 'Maybe you can use your powers to break this sword.'

'Now why would I want to do that? What's in it for me?'

Good old Ares. He hasn't changed a bit, Xena thought with a smirk. 'You will have me!'

Surprised by the answer Ares recovered quickly. 'Lets do it!' And moved to the sword conjuring up most of his power.

Angelica was stirring. She opened her eyes just as Ares let forth a burst of fire and lightning. Sitting upright, the resulting blast knocked her of her feet and she rolled down an embankment. This inevitably saved her life for the resulting explosion disintegrated a large part of the hill.

A leather piece landed close to her. As Angelica studied it closely she stepped back in horror as she recognized the piece as the severed arm of the God of War. She scrambled to her feet and climbed the embankment. Looking over the edge she shielded her eyes from the crimson glare as she saw the spectral figure of Ares and Xena fighting the arcane power of the Sister of Fire. In a last attempt struggle to get away they both disappeared screaming into the elemental weapon adding their freedom to countless other martyrs.

The sword's melodious screams reached a crescendo and then shattered its own existence imploding into nothingness, folding unto itself and taking all who it had trapped with her for eternity. Angelica ducked below the ridge as a crimson snake whipped out at her. A split second attempt to keep hold of this dimension.

Complete silence!

























* * *


Xena looked up from the scroll she was reading. 'This can't be right. We are here right now…ALIVE!'

Gabrielle was stirring the fire a bit more apparently amused. 'It is an interesting tale, isn't it my love. I died and my soul was lost. You and Ares tried to rescue my soul and were lost as well. Then the Sister of Fire, after consuming a God, simply shattered like a crystal.'

'There is more to this story isn't there, Gab?'

'Much more.' Gabrielle replied and handed Xena another scroll. 'You'll like this one. It's called 'Return From Oblivion.'

Xena accepted the scroll eagerly. 'Oblivion was where we were trapped?'

'I don't know. We were both dead or something like that and our souls were lost. Sometimes I think we still are lost in some small way.' Gabrielle philosophized.

The Bard sat next to her Warrior and Xena put her arm around Gabrielle's waist pulling her closer. Anticipating the mood Gabrielle said. 'Not now love. Read the story of how we became restored.'

Xena nodded agreement and continued to read. 'Angelica used her machine to prevent a past event from occurring. She thought that to prevent this oblivion of her ancestral soul, should make things come back to normal.'

She looked up. 'Angelica went further back in time…'

Gabrielle nodded. 'Yes, she went to Japan where you were so determined to die a warrior's death and Angelica had a hard time convincing you that we would all be lost in the near future.' Gabrielle continued.

Xena pondered. 'I wish I could remember it like that. But after hearing your name I instantly dove into that machine.'

Gabrielle hugged Xena and gave her an affectionate peck on the cheek surprising the warrior with the gesture. 'What was that for?'

'For coming to rescue me in the future. I was very lost without you.' Gabrielle's smile faded to sadness and she leaned her head on Xena's shoulder. Xena stroked the hair on the Bard's head in a comforting manner.

'I owe Angelica my life and as with you I would trade it in a heartbeat.' Gabrielle paused before continuing. 'She risked everything to repair a grievous rip in time by changing the past and saving the future.'

'Hang on…I'm confused. Nothing changed in Japan…' Xena interrupted.

'That was true. Nothing happened on the surface. But Angelica needed your help more than Akemi.

'Actually I was the friend in need and having realized what must be done you eagerly went to the future to stop our souls of becoming lost forever.'

* * *

An ear piercing whistling could be heard and Angelica risked taking another peak over the ridge she saw the Sister of Air shielding the breach of non-existence. Intuitively she knew the world was in danger. She would need to travel back in time to prevent this from happening and she needed to move fast. If the Sister of Air should fail the results would be catastrophic.

Angelica had traveled a short time on peaceful roads. Everyone she met lived in harmony. There was no war and no progress. Everybody helped each other.

At first she was puzzled until it slowly dawned on her that Ares' death eventually led to peace. Progress and competitiveness had stopped. A peculiar feeling nagged at her ever since Gabrielle, Xena's spirit and Ares disappeared.

Was this supposed to happen?

Can it be prevented?

She knew what drove Gabrielle to her inevitable martyrdom, but at what cost?

At least Xena and Gabrielle are together. She hoped they were.

Or they could be forever trapped and searching for each other.

Angelica reached her time-machine without any problems. She entered the machine when a vision appeared before her. She recognized the features of Gabrielle, but her eyes haunted her. Gone were the emerald twins - instead complete nothingness stared at her. Nothing white nor nothing black.

Words were being formed and Angelica recognized the words 'Help!' in the slowly moving lips. The image disappeared and Angelica knew exactly what to do. A plea was asked from something that no longer existed in any world. She was determined to fix this problem.

The machine began to move and disappeared from this realm of this existence.


* * *


by R.B.Kloosterboer

The time-machine lurched sideways heavily as it reappeared in the real world. Opening the hatch Angelica saw a precipice looming below her.

'God has a sick sense of humor.' She closed the hatch and decided to get the flying-mode action going to move the machine. Ground radar captured a large contingency of an army moving nearby. She figured that Xena would be getting ready to attack them. It didn't take long to move the machine from its precarious position and soon she flew high over the mountain passes towards the army. The radar pinpointed the DNA patterns of her ancestor immediately and Angelica dove her craft to the rescue.

The forest where Xena was hiding moved closer. A chakram greeted the force-field and ricocheted to an unknown location. She opened the hatch. 'Xena! Get in, I need your help!'

'Angelica?' Xena answered surprised.

'Come on, hurry. I need you alive to help save Gabrielle, your ghost and Ares in the future.'

Silently Xena sobered and practically dove aboard. The hatch closed and just before the craft left real-time a mighty explosion rocked the craft.

Next stop - the future!

* * *

'What happened to Gabrielle?' Xena asked.

'Too much happened to Gabrielle after you died.' Angelica explained reluctantly.

Xena looked incredulously at her descendant. 'I died? Oh, of course - that was part of the plan initially…'

'And you decided with Gabrielle to stay dead because of some debt to the forty thousand souls, or something noble like that.' Angelica explained indifferently. 'But now we have to stop something from happening before the world will be destroyed. Only you can stop Gabrielle, but first we have to prevent another event from taking place.'

Xena frowned. 'This is so confusing. Just point me to the baddies and I'll slice them up for ya.'

'Don't worry,' she glanced proudly at the warrior, 'we're nearly there.'

The machine appeared in a desert not far from a raging battle. No one noticed the craft perched on top a ridge overlooking the valley where Gabrielle's life would change so dramatically.

Angelica saw Xena beam with pride and anticipation.

'Come on, let's go!' The warrior ordered.

Angelica moved the craft into forward motion and the raiders noticed a strange creature coming towards them.

Alerted by a young piercing scream Gabrielle let loose the chakram as her young friend Alya was about to be struck. The chakram cleaved its way through the man's skull, but could not return to Gabrielle's hand. Cursing at the unreachable loss she continued to parry. Defense of herself and defense of her ward became paramount. Her opponents strategy was as simple as the weapons design was complex as he thrust the weapon like a punch.

'Watch out Gabrielle!'

The warning came too late as Rashid punched his sword through Gabrielle. The Warrior Bard sagged like a broken rag-doll as the pain overwhelmed her entire being. She heard her name yelled out as she slipped into the awaiting darkness. A voice she knew well, but could not place.

Xena saved Alya from another deadly thrust as she carved through another raider and rushed to her friend's side. Xena kept up a defensive pose in between Gabrielle and Rashid.

'Yes - I killed Xena.' He gloated while holding up the pulsating Sister of Air, then noticed a new opponent wearing a Samurai outfit and brandishing a katana. 'Who are you?'

'I am Xena - you blithering son of a mangy dog.' Xena insulted him and sliced swiftly through his sword arm and severed it from its position. Surprised by this move Rashid felt no pain as he saw his sword arm cleaved in half.. Remembering that decapitation was an honorable method to die for a warrior in Japan, Xena decided to turn her back on Rashid instead. Anger and pain was spelled deeply on her visage as she saw her Bard's wound open and exposed to the desert sands.

Clutching the stump in disbelief Rashid stumbled towards Xena's back. 'Why? How?'

Xena had no remorse for him and without thinking about the consequences she did a simple reverse thrust into Rashid's solar plexus. With a satisfactory grimace she twisted the razor sharp edged sword up and down to slice his internal organs. Rashid body hung dead and limp, waiting patiently to be released from Xena's deadly thrust. A quick jerk released the sword from its temporary sheath and as the corpse crumpled onto the desert sand, Xena knelt near her friend trying to stem the blood of Gabrielle's gaping wound as best she could.

A few quick jabs stopped her internal bleeding. Gabrielle's ragged breathing relaxed as the acu-pressure points relieved the unbearable pain of the broken rib. Xena knew she had to work fast to save her friend's life. Angelica brought a First Aid kit with sterilized bandages which was applied to the wound. A rib was protruding through the skin and had to be removed.

Gabrielle convulsed heavily when this was accomplished. Angelica stitched the wound closed. As Xena cradled Gabrielle in her coma.

She wondered what would have happened if Angelica hadn't picked her up from the past. Xena closed her eyes for a moment and an unusual vision danced in her mind.

"The sand was slowing her struggle as she sluggishly pulled herself forward one step at a time - cursing herself for coming to the Land of the Pharaohs. She winced as a forgotten numbness made a festering wound in her side break open. Encrusted blood broke and fresh blood flowed freely from the wound. The raiders left her for dead. The rage within her kept her alive. Her friends lay dead in the sands of the desert. Their bones lay exposed to the desert sun. If she survived she would avenge them. Nothing would prevent her from completing her quest. Her determination and stubbornness was what kept her alive today. And unless she found water soon - then today is all she was going to get."

A thunderclap awoke Xena from her strange daydream. Lightning coursed over the blue heavens. Ares appeared in a flash. 'Xena, changing the future is a capital offense.' He said menacingly. 'One of the reasons we as gods are not allowed to change events for our own benefit.'

'I disagree.' Protested Angelica. 'As I see it by preventing what happened here will help safe your life later on. Rashid is dead and Gabrielle is safe.'

'That remains to be seen.' Ares scooped Gabrielle into his arms and with another clap of thunder they both disappeared into thin air.


* * *

Later that night the Warrior Princess was brooding over a cozy campfire. The Sister of Air hummed in Xena's grip after it had discarded the lifeless arm of the now deceased Ahmed Abu Rashid.

Xena was in a dark mood. Her soul-mate, mortally wounded, was abducted by Ares - God of War. She knew that in her current state of mind Gabrielle would be suggestible and it could take another traumatic event like this last attack to get her to that point that Ares could make Gabrielle his new Warrior Princess. Gabrielle's education plus warrior skills would make her a formidable warlord. Xena made plans to stop this from happening - one way or another.


Hearing her name she looked up from her brooding thoughts.

'Xena, we must stop Ares from making the same mistake. I can keep this sword safe from harm if you will give it to me.' Angelica started.

Xena's icy stare was enough to send chills through Angelica's spine.

'Ares has my Bard and I will give my life to get her back.' Xena fumed.

'At who's cost?' Angelica was cradling the sleeping form of Alya in her arms. 'This little girl has lost everything. Her life has changed. Shouldn't we think of her first?'

Xena let go of the sword and all thought of revenge left her immediately. She looked at Angelica with a sudden confusion, then at the elemental weapon again.

'If Ares drives Gabrielle to that point that you described to me then the compassionate Gabrielle I know will be dead and the Sister of Fire will be reborn.' Xena stated slowly.

'The catacombs.' Angelica realized, then continued, 'We still have some time - in fact, time is the only ally we've got.'

'I do not want to touch that weapon again.' Xena said with a touch of concern.

Angelica picked up a bedroll, covered the elemental weapon and put it in a compartment within the time-machine itself. 'It will be safe in there.' Picking up Alya's sleeping form Angelica entered the craft and Xena followed close behind.

'Irene will be nearby.' Angelica started.

'How do you know…? Never mind. You're right. We'll leave Alya with Irene.' Xena said and Angelica smiled approvingly at the warrior.

* * *

A vision was in front of her. A vision of great strength and great beauty.

'I miss you.' She thought.

'I miss you too.' The vision spoke softly to her, embracing her with strong loving arms. She started to weep. The vision left her - gliding silently away.

'Please don't go!' She whispered her thoughts. 'Don't leave me, I can't go on without you.'

The soothing light was gone. The vision was gone. She was alone. She was awake. Tears still stinging her emerald eyes.

'She's awake! Send a messenger to Ares…go now.' A sweet voice with a touch of authority. Torch light flickered briefly as someone left on an urgent message. A pretty face appeared in front of her. Aphrodite.

'Can you hear me? Here, sit up, take this, girlfriend.'

She was helped up and a cup with some foul smelling stuff was thrust in her callused hands. Not questioning it, she gulped it down quickly - choking on the foul taste.

'Hey-hey, take it easy. Oh, too late.'

She started to convulse heavily, then a surge of pain went through her right side.

'I'm afraid you've lost a rib, Gabrielle. Little brother brought you here as fast as he could.'

Lying back no voice came as she mouthed the words 'Thank you', she squeezed her old friend's hand tightly.

Gabrielle had a strange feeling of deja-vu as she seemed to recall a similar event in Irene's camp. She shook the notion from her head.

'What's wrong?' Aphrodite asked concerned.

Gabrielle beckoned the love-goddess a little closer, then whispered, 'Something strange is happening.'

'Honey, between you and Xena something strange always happens.' The love-goddess goofed.

Tears welled-up in Gabrielle's eyes. Aphrodite knew she blundered again. 'Oh dear, I'm so sorry.'

Gabrielle closed her eyes at the painful reminder. She knew that Aphrodite didn't mean to, yet her loss of Xena was still painfully obvious. She sighed carefully, her heart as broken as her physical wound. Eyes still stinging she looked at the lovely image of the Goddess of Love with a faint reassuring smile. Squinting suddenly she noticed the torch light flicker again and a very familiar silhouette came into the chamber. She knew this person very well.

Ares - the God of War appeared concerned as he came closer.

'Gabrielle! Welcome to my home.'

* * *

Rashid was wandering around in hell. All his plans of certain conquest lay in ruins. His elemental sword was gone - taken from him by a Samurai clad woman brandishing a katana. His thoughts tortured him as he remembered what she said to him: 'I am Xena - you blithering son of a mangy dog.'

She insulted him and then killed him in a moment of his own distraction. She also seemed to take great relish in the task. Tartarus let him remember every detail of his subsequent death. He remembered every minute detail and ghosts of his past rendered the sequence of his demise in great detail and accuracy.

Xena did not aim, she had her back to him. It was his own momentum that led to his doom. Rashid felt the katana slip neatly into the soft tissue underneath his sternum as his body plunged into the awaiting sword, he felt the blade slice through his organs. His body died and it hung limply on the blade. His mind awaiting release of the non-functioning body. Xena swiftly removed the sword and his mind welcomed oblivion eagerly.

Musing Rashid thought more about his predicament. Would the real Xena be so callous and direct. Who was the other woman? The other woman had Xena's chakram and Xena's sword. But she also had Gabrielle's sais. Was that Gabrielle? And the rumors of Xena and Gabrielle were that they were a little more than just friends.

Angelica Zenexia was there too. Hero of the past and future. Protector of time and the universe. He had the Sister of Air. But that elemental sword was lost to him now. If he could get his hands on the Sister of Earth then he could escape this accursed place.

Rashid needed to concentrate and think only of that sword. Make the elemental sword come to him and then unite it with the Sister of Air. One bearer with two swords combined would make him invincible.

With all the screams of hell surrounding him Rashid concentrated deeply. Concentrating to become one with the world he asked the forces beyond to give him a boon. He asked for an elemental weapon that he knew was hidden here and that it should be delivered to him to carry forth and seek out the Sister of Air.

A greenish shimmer teased his peripheral vision as the forces of nature granted his boon. The Sister of Earth appeared in his awaiting hands.

Ahmed Abu Rashid smiled pleasantly just as another deadly form appeared in front of him.

'Mortal. Give me that sword and I'll let you return to Earth.' Lucifer bargained with Rashid.

Rashid laughed out loud as he simply plunged the elemental weapon without mercy into the soft tissues of the heat-beaten Master of Hell. Lucifer did not get a second chance as Rashid chopped him cleanly into several pieces. Pleased with his successful slaughter of the hellish god Rashid felt the ethereal powers enter him and he grew solid once more. But this time he felt invincible like a god.

Not concerned with the dead in his care Rashid left hell in search of his rivals, most especially unite the Sister of Air with his Sister of Earth.

A low rumble shook the Earth as Lucifer's body was absorbed into the caverns of hell. His spirit could be heard cackling into oblivion.

* * *

The sand dunes trembled underneath our heroine's feet. A low rumble could be heard in the distance.

'Did you feel that?'

Angelica nodded to Xena's question. Something extraordinary was happening. Something beyond the sands of time. Something that would put everyone at risk.

'Lucifer is dead.' Xena said matter-of-fact.

'How do you…?'

'…Know? I put him there. There is a link that doesn't quite fully leave.'

'Did you feel something for him too?' Angelica asked intuitively.

Xena shrugged. 'I have a soft spot for bad boys.' She chuckled. 'Something has happened to Lucifer and the elements are behaving strangely in response.'

'I did notice something odd like that. Although we should be safe inside the machine.' Angelica mused.

'Maybe…' Xena pondered. 'We should be close to the catacombs now. It's been a while since I've been here.'

'It's only been a couple of days for me.' Chuckled Angelica.

They both laughed at the irony.

As they approached the entrance a golden light appeared in front of them.

'Xena!' Michael said with smooth satisfaction.

'Come back to gloat?' Asked the warrior rudely. 'I don't have time to play with angels.'

'Is that any way to treat an old friend.' Teased the Arch-Angel.

Xena changed her stance minimally. 'After our last encounter I doubt if you ever wanted me as a friend.'

'Nevertheless I do forgive you for your attempt on my eternal life.' He said evenly.

'How magnanimous of you, oh mighty Arch-Angel.' Xena gestured sarcastically. 'Now, what do you want?'

'What makes you think…?' He started and Xena interrupted by leaping in front of him and whispering hoarsely.

'Stop it. Lucifer is dead because something killed him. I suspect you know who. You want me to stop this creature. But you need to give me something first.' She hissed.

'The power to kill gods?'

'Yeah - why not? The odds of your survival depends on me as well as on you.' She stepped back. 'Well? How about it?'

Xena eyed Michael evenly while the latter considered the options.

* * *

The catacombs under Dianathea were dusty as hell as Gabrielle, Aphrodite and Ares arrived in a secret chamber.

'Ew, its so icky here.' Aphrodite protested making a face and picking her fingers.

Gabrielle wandered around the cavern curiously. On the wall there were murals with humans brandishing colorful swords. As swords touched their shadows were sucked into these swords.

'Ares,' whined Aphrodite, 'I don't like it here. This place smells of death and evil.'

'I need you here, sis. Gabrielle needs you too. Aha, here it is.' Ares produced a small key and slid it into a keyhole so tiny no one would have noticed even if they knew where to look.

'Behold the most powerful Elemental Sword: the Sister of Life.'

Gabrielle giggled. 'It's invisible?'

Ares looked curious. 'Not to me it isn't. Catch.'

Instinctively Gabrielle grasped at nothing and suddenly saw the flickering torch light dance along the edges of the sword. Awestruck Gabrielle was overwhelmed with the swords beauty. She noticed something odd - a distant memory? Perhaps something from a different dimension altogether. 'It doesn't sing.'

'What?' asked Ares.

'It doesn't sing like the Sister of Fire.' Gabrielle said matter-of-factly.

'Ares. Lets go.' Aphrodite was getting annoyed.

'Sister of Air gives unlimited power; Sister of Fire gives revenge; Sister of Earth gives invincibility; Sister of Water replenishes sustenance; Sister of Life makes you survive.' Ares explained. 'There are a couple more.'

Gabrielle grew suddenly suspicious. 'Why are you telling me all this? It isn't like you to help people. You want something.'

Ares just smiled and stood close to Gabrielle. 'Something is wrong with the timeline, Gabrielle.' He confided. 'Angelica was right. There is a rip in time. And only you have the means to stop it. Choose wisely, my young apprentice.'

He waved his hand and Gabrielle disappeared from sight.

A flash and Gabrielle found herself face-to-face with Xena.

Their eyes locked and recognition was instantaneous. No words came as they embraced each other in an overwhelming reunion. Gabrielle winced when reminded of her wound, but seeing Xena alive and well was taking precedence over her discomfort.

'I can't believe you're here.' said Gabrielle in awe and holding Xena's face.

Xena let action speak louder than words by kissing her Bard tenderly. Pausing a moment she whispered, 'I'm sorry for leaving you…'

The Bard laid a finger on the warrior's lips, 'Don't Xena, it was both our decision.'

'If I could've done it all over again…'

'How did you get here? Angelica?' Gabrielle interrupted.

'Heya Gabrielle. You look well, considering…' Angelica said. 'I guess the gossip is true.' Angelica smiled understandingly.

'The dreams…'

Angelica confirmed before Gabrielle could continue. 'Another reality - yes. I'm pleased that this one is a bit more pleasant than the other one.'

'We're not out of the woods yet.' Xena thought aloud. 'Michael and Ares are involved in this strange game.'

'And we're right in the thick of it as usual.' Mused Gabrielle. 'I wish we had more time…'

'…together.' Xena looked indecisive. Her Bard needed her, but the world needed the Warrior.

'Actually we could get into my time-machine and I could drop you off in a nice secluded motel somewhere in the future. You do your thing and we all could be back in time for this battle.'

Xena and Gabrielle looked incredulously at Angelica. 'It's a good plan.' She defended sheepishly.

'No thanks, we'll be all right.' Gabrielle chuckled while Xena just shook her head in denial.

'Heads up, we got trouble!' Xena warned.

* * *

Rashid made an envious entrance on our trio. 'You have something that belongs to me.' He said in a thunderous tone.'

'I hate making these decisions. Wish me luck, my love.' Xena steals a kiss from her Bard and somersaults yodeling nearby the demon-god Rashid, her katana unsheathed and battle ready she looks at him with a mad gleam in the eye. 'Let's do it!'

'Xena no, there is another way.' Gabrielle stepped toward the sparring, but Angelica stopped her.

'Xena made a deal with Michael…' Angelica began.

Gabrielle shook her head and faced Angelica with tears glistening in her eyes, 'You don't understand. If Xena succeeds in disposing Rashid this time, she will have to take his place as god of the underworld. Only I can stop him with this.'

She showed her a glimpse of the Sister of Life. 'It's a positive weapon compared to the others. It does not trap the souls. It sets them free.'

'There is another way…'

* * *

Ares was pacing the Chamber of War furiously. 'I hope this plan of yours works, Michael.'

'We need to have a replacement for Lucifer. Be it Xena or Gabrielle.' The Arch-Angel said with an air of arrogance.

'You'd be perfect for the role that Lucifer had.' Ares said icily.

'Sacrifice is for humans. It is what they're good at. Trust me.' Chided Michael.

'Trust is the furthest thing on my mind. I only trust that Xena will surprise you.'

'I hope so too - I surely hope so.' Mused Michael.

* * *

'Gabrielle, if anything goes wrong jump into the time-machine. It is the only safe place.' Angelica warned her friend as she took hold of the Sister of Air.

'No, you mustn't Angelica. You'll be lost.' Gabrielle warned to no avail.

'Try and take Xena with you. I've set the machine back in time a bit. You should be able to stop me there and just maybe…'

'…stop Rashid by using the Sister of Life?' Gabrielle asked further. 'Why not use it right here, right now?'

'Too many deals with too many gods. This is the only way.'

'There must be another way…' Gabrielle almost pleaded.

* * *

'You cannot stop me.' Rashid bellowed. 'I am invincible.'

'That is a matter of opinion.' Chuckled Xena whilst circling the obnoxious creature.

'Xena!' Angelica brandished the Sister of Air in one hand and had the barely visible Sister of Life in the other. 'Go! Be with Gabrielle. Change this present from ever happening.'

Xena looked as confused as Rashid.

'We stick together until the end…'

'Not today. There is a bigger battle to be fought. But not now.' Angelica tried to explain quickly.

'Xena, come with me now!' Gabrielle beckoned.

Xena looked menacingly at the self-proclaimed god. 'Got a present for you from Michael.' And Xena thrust her katana deep into Rashid's leathery bowel and ripped the sword out quickly. 'Got to go!'

Rashid clutched his abdomen in pain. Surprised he sagged to one knee. He had no idea what power Xena had over him, but he knew that someday he would possess that power. He winced as he tried to regain his balance.

Xena let one hand wander past Angelica's cheek. Angelica looked afraid and Xena gave her courage. 'I don't want to leave.' Xena said.

'You must go! Come back and fight another time and place. Let me finish this rip in time over here.'

Xena gave Angelica a parting kiss on her brow. 'Until we meet again.'

Then she quickly parted and entered the time capsule with Gabrielle.

The machine began to hum its resonance and disappeared from this reality. Angelica turned back to face a heavily breathing and mortally wounded self-proclaimed god.

'Now… you… die!' Rashid promised menacingly.

'You don't look so good, Rashid.'

The half-dead creature once called Rashid plunged the Sister of Earth towards Angelica.

Angelica blocked the punch-sword by crossing the Sister of Air with the Sister of Life.

The three swords clashed with a battle of their own. Rashid burned to a crisp in front of Angelica. She herself remained unscathed as she held onto the Sister of life as if her own existence depended on it. Countless souls were set free as the Sisters of Air and Earth shattered into oblivion. Because the Sister of Life protected Angelica it also restored the lost souls that were trapped eons ago through greed and barbarism.

She lost consciousness, completely overwhelmed by the task unleashed by her.

* * *

As darkness faded Angelica was surrounded by a white light She awoke on a white furred bed and wearing a white nightgown in a white room. She sensed movement nearby and through the slits of her eyelids she observed a couple creatures fussing around her bedside.

Abruptly she sat up and the creatures stood absolutely still. They were humanoid but completely white, no shadow marked their skin and white milky eyes stared at her blankly - yet they were not blind.

'The - lady - is - awake?' asked one creature.

'Must - inform - the - princess?' It spoke the question more as a statement.

The upward lilt at the end of their sentence was part of their cultural development in speech.

'Where am I?' She asked.


'No, you don't understand. I asked where I was.' She tried again.

The milky white face showed her an expressionless face of misunderstanding.

Angelica stood up. 'You haven't got a glue what I'm on about, do you?'

'Must - tell - princess - you - are - awake?'

'Must tell princess I am awake, yes?'

The creature broke into a bright white smile and darted off into a white wall.

'That is a door?' She asked as a statement question.

'That - is - a - door, yes?'

'Oh goody, I need to find a shower and a toilet.'

The creature looked at her quizzically. 'Never mind.' She murmured.

One of the lackey's returned with a frail old lady in tow. She looked up into a most familiar face.

'Hi, my name is…'

'Angelica,' replied the old woman. 'Yes, I know. So am I. In fact I am you and you came here at the wrong time.' The old Angelica sat down of the white furred bed. 'Tell me child, what has happened in the land of the living that you come to be trapped in the Sister of Life today.'

'I'm in the Sister of Life?' Young Angelica whispered.

'You sound surprised. Yes - the Sister of Life is your destiny. You can leave whenever you want, but you will always remain a part of it.' Old Angelica explained.


'…did I make the connection? By defeating Rashid about six or seven times. You will leave in a time-zone of your choosing. But you foresaw somehow that Xena and Gabrielle would be needed to set things right. It was very clever of us to send them to the future.' Old Angelica chuckled.

'Well, they needed some quality time together. Especially Gabrielle. She'll not like it when Xena needs to go back to Japan to set things right on that timeline.' Young Angelica continued.

'Then we must plan this very carefully. How far back in time must we go to set things right?'

'I think its impossible at the moment. Maybe the answer lies in the future?'

Old Angelica nodded. 'I tried that once. You will try that too. Not this time though.'

'The sister of Life is a time-machine?' Young Angelica asked.

'Yes and no. She is beyond time. There are seven sisters in total. All elemental. They will never be destroyed because they are not part of the real world…'

'So when I witnessed the Sisters of Air and Earth shatter…'

'That was merely the physical destruction in the three-dimensional world. The Sisters live in all dimensions.'

'I thought that the Sisters of Air and Earth were evil…'

Old Angelica shook her head in the negative. 'They are merely an extension of ourselves. The Sisters take the core of our being and enhance it. But they will only enhance that which drives us to the fullest.

'We wanted to save humanity from the Sisters power. This selfless drive saved you and She made you the Protector of Time and the Universe. In the future you will be remembered as such.'

Young Angelica pondered a bit. 'It makes a lot of sense, sort of. I don't really want to surprise my friends too soon, though.'

Old Angelica chuckled, 'There is no time like the present.'

* * *

The motel light on Route 66 was flashing its neon lights in the present. The proprietor wasn't surprised anymore who got in. Room 7 was prepaid and reserved for the whole year for Xena and Gabrielle. When the two Greek ladies sauntered inside he was given instruction of what they would ask in their native tongue. He didn't care how they got there, he just gave them prepaid supplies as per instruction and showed them the room. A strange looking vehicle was already parked in front of the room. He thought it was coincidence. As long as they didn't stir trouble he would stay out of their way.

Xena lay on her back staring at the ceiling, her arms propped behind her head reminiscing in deep thought. Two days since they arrived here in the future and no clue where they would go from here. Gabrielle found plenty of ways to keep them both entertained. The Bard still could arouse her emotions to peak levels of desire. Xena thought back to Ares and Borias who could do the same, but Gabrielle was different. While the men were only interested in lust and power, Gabrielle did it for love and Xena gave her love back to the Bard. In such a way could Xena rationalize the special bond she shared with her woman.

Gabrielle stirred a bit, lying closely embraced with her Warrior Princess. Xena let the little woman sleep. The past few days in the past so far away and the wound accrued in that time, Gabrielle needed all the rest and strength she needed for whatever trials still needed to be completed. Xena's arm wandered over Gabrielle's back. She traced the dragon tattoo with her finger as Gabrielle murmured peacefully.

'Xena?' Gabrielle whispered.

'Yes sweetheart.'

Gabrielle awakened and sought out Xena's lips.

'Morning to you too.' Xena managed to say at a temporary escape.

'Mmmm, this bed is comfortable.'

'Only because I share it with you.' Xena teased.

Her senses were on full alert as Xena's body tensed only enough for her bard to notice.

'What is it?' Was all that Gabrielle asked as both women sprang into sudden action quickly donning their outfits. Within seconds a loud crash indicated an unwelcome intrusion by a chain wielding leather-clad biker. 'I knew there were women here.' He said menacingly.

'I'm sorry, you're not my type.' Xena said in Ancient Greek, 'SHEEEEEEEYAA!'

Xena gave him back-fist, grabbed his chain and tactfully tied him up with it before spinning him like a yo-yo through the broken door opening.

'Easy come - easy go.' Chuckled Gabrielle.

'Shall we stay in or out?' asked Xena cheekily.

'I'll be fine either way.'

Xena sprinted through the door katana in hand wearing her samurai outfit.

'It's Xena!' Said some of the biker ladies in astonishment.

Gabrielle was close beside Xena as they stayed back to back.

More gasps were heard as Gabrielle was recognized as well. The thick-headed biker-men did not get the hint as they tried to save the warped honor of their fallen comrade.

'Isn't it fascinating?' Gabrielle mused out loud. 'That after thousands of years men still want to be beaten up by us.'

'I suppose I'm not allowed to kill them?' asked Xena.

'Couldn't you just wound them a little?'

'I'd like to give them all the Pinch…'

'What a great idea - no one gets hurt.'

Xena sheaths her sword. 'Okay lets do it.'

Gabrielle sheaths her sais and they both change to their martial stance. Two fingers extended on both hands they both start rhythmic breathing and get ready to strike with sudden accuracy.

A half dozen opponents get struck down paralyzed in legs, arms and shoulders as Xena and Gabrielle dance around them striking nerves unheard of in science.

An audience has gathered and our favorite Warriors assess the situation carefully.

'I think they've learned their lesson.' Xena relaxes. 'Lets get back inside - I think I pinched a nerve.'

Gabrielle chuckles, 'You only say that to get a free back rub.'

'Yeah, well. This crowd gives me the chills.'

They enter through the broken down door and come face-to-face with Angelica who smiles warmly at them.

* * *

'Angelica.' Gabrielle hugs Xena's descendent warmly. 'You survived.'

Xena hugs her descendent in turn. 'I'm glad you're safe. What happened?'

'That's a long story. We may have stumbled onto a far more complex puzzle this time.' She paused. 'Did you have a good time here?'

Xena wrapped her arm around Gabrielle's waist. The both smiled affectionately at each other.

'I guess you did.' Angelica chuckled.

'Can you explain a bit more about the Sisters?' Asked Gabrielle.

'Okay,' Angelica nodded. 'There are seven elemental swords in total. Each has a major entity or soul trapped within. In this case these swords were never used for combat. They are the spires of Olympus and that's where they belong.'

'How do you know all this?' Gabrielle asked curiously.

'The Sister of Life told me. She is the reason I survived.'

'And Rashid? Asked Xena worried.

Angelica chuckled. 'Back in Tartarus where he can do no harm. He should've been there for a couple of thousand years at least.'

Xena looked somber and squeezed Gabrielle's wounded side by accident.

'Ouch! Xena, what's wrong?' asked Gabrielle and winced.

'It's time!' she answered looking straight at Angelica who nodded.

Gabrielle let go abruptly - sorrow and pain dancing on her face.

'No Xena! You don't have to do this. Not now!'

Xena stayed silent and resolute. It's at moments like this that she has to find a reasonable answer. When it comes to a decision in battle she has no problem to decide immediately. But when her own fate affects the one she truly loves, she is at a loss to decide.

Police sirens were heard coming closer. Angelica spoke up urgently, 'We have to go now, ladies…'

Xena ignored Angelica's urgency and held onto Gabrielle's shoulders, their eyes locked. 'Sweetheart, we both had this short time together right now. We can't stay.'

'You don't know, Xena.' Gabrielle responded frantically. 'You don't know what it was like without your company - your guidance - your love as support. You were my anchor. Many times I would think - "what would Xena do?" - And the answer would be there, always improvising with whatever materials you laid your hands on. But above all, I miss you too much.'

Angelica interrupted. 'Can we do this some other time - the local cops will want explanations and I for one don't want to be here.'

'We've handled authority figures before…'Xena started.

'These are rednecks - they shoot first and ask questions later.' Angelica explains.

Xena turned to Gabrielle and saw that the situation had not improved. The Bard was still visibly angry and Xena knew that Gabrielle would remain so for a very long time.

Quickly the exited the Motel room and got within a few feet from the craft.

'Freeze!' A local officer aimed a gun at the trio.

Gabrielle was faster as her chakram sliced menacingly through the air and hit the cop's gun disabling it. She caught it with ease.

'Didn't I lose that in…?' Xena began.

'Japan? Yeah. Found it ages ago y'know. Let's get it over with.'

They entered the time-machine and it disappeared from this reality into the past.

* * *

Just moments after Angelica's time-machine entered the time-warp, it shimmered back into Japan's past. An explosion rocked the tiny craft as strange chemicals were ignited by flame.

'Be strong, my love.' Xena kissed her Bard tenderly and stepped into the battlefield. Quickly she disappeared into the trees.

Before Gabrielle could escape too Angelica let the time-machine shimmer out of existence. For once in her life Gabrielle was speechless as tears streamed down her face and the shock settled in.

'We have a long way to travel…' Angelica's words were garbled as Gabrielle stopped listening. The past few days were too overwhelming. She was happy and now she's distraught.

'I want to go back, Angelica. Back to the past. Let me die by Xena's side.' She inched closer wanting to control the machine.

Angelica anticipated this and sprayed a sleeping gas in her face. Gabrielle slumped uncomfortably over the chair.

'Sleep well, my friend.'

* * *

Angelica was traveling alone through time and space. She had brought Gabrielle and Xena back to their proper timelines, however for her lay the grim task of stopping Ahmed Abu Rashid before irreversible damage will occur to the current timeline.

In a moment the time-machine shimmered back into existence. She knew she was ahead of schedule and that time she would need to find her nemesis quickly. The Sister of Life hung loosely on her belt as Angelica stepped out into the desert sun.

A breeze wafted over the desert sands as hundreds of grains shifted over the surface remolding the dunes. A sidewinder traveled swiftly for a cool oasis as the sun beat its rays on any living creature within its range.

Using her scanner Angelica sensed the danger before the electronic device chirped its warning. Dropping the device she caught two arrows in mid-flight. Using the caught arrows she used these to deflect a couple of others. Hearing the battle screams as a warning, Angelica acted quickly as her assailants attacked from all sides with curved swords drawn. Disarming one she had her opponents sword in the hand and kicked her enemy rolling out of the way.

A slice to her midriff got blocked as she easily blocked it with her captured weapon, swaying quickly to avoid being cleaved by the other opponent. Angelica stepped back a couple of strides swinging her sword in eighths from left to right.

Hoarse whispers were being heard beyond the dunes.

'Its Xena!'


'She's alive!'

Angelica heard the whispers of incredulity become more succinct. The warriors surrounding her were awaiting another order. She didn't want to wound or kill them, but she would defend herself if the leader didn't end this soon.

Intuitively Angelica gambled on a notion. 'Amazons, I seek an audience with Irene.'

To her satisfaction she saw her opponent stiffen with surprise and a gasp was audible behind the dune. A desert shadow rose up and walked stealthily past the warriors who came to rapt attention.

'I am Irene, stranger. Speak!'

'My name is Angelica.' She lowered her sword in appeasement. 'A friend of mine will be traveling through here in a few days time and will need your protection. You know her well.'

'Who is your friend?' Irene asked.

'Gabrielle, the Battling Bard.'

'What proof do you have to your claim?'

'I carry the face of my ancestor Xena: Warrior Princess.' Angelica said resolutely.

'She's insane.'

'Kill her, she's mad.'

'Silence!' Irene ordered. 'You look like Xena, but you are a liar to claim who you appear to be.' The Amazon Queen challenged.

Angelica unclasped the invisible Sister of Life. The ornate elemental sword played with a glint of sunlight. Holding it carefully near one of the protruding sides Angelica handed the sword hilt first to Irene.

'Touch it. The truth will reveal itself to you.'

Irene's bodyguards immediately intervened, but the Amazon Queen halted them. 'This is a matter of trust.' And she touched the sword.

* * *

'Alya, come here child.'

Benyam called for his daughter to come.

'Aaw Papa. Gabrielle is teaching me how to use a staff. One more go.' Alya protested.

Benyam watched his daughter perform a simple kata. It looked like dancing. Precise steps and balance coupled with downward and upper strikes and blocks. He noticed that Gabrielle looked on proudly like a master and her apprentice. The Bard offered to give the children in his family an education in return for traveling with them across the desert. Gabrielle proofed to be a master of sword play as well as word play and taught him and his brothers the art of defense as well.

Benyam was a little reluctant to extend the education of his daughters as well and found to his surprise that his little Alya was very smart and quick to learn new skills.

'Go do your chores now, Alya. We'll play later.'

'Yes Gabrielle.'

Gabrielle saw Alya run off to the main tent - probably to her chores, but she knew that her little apprentice would find away to sneak away and read the scrolls on her beloved Xena.

'Gabrielle, how far do you wish to travel with us?' Benyam asked.

'For as long as I can be of service to you and your family.' Gabrielle answered humbly.

'You are much greater than all of us. An Amazon Queen in our midst. You do us such great honor. We do not deserve you.'

'Oh stop it. You are my friend and I don't want any special treatment.' Gabrielle saw Alya sneak out of the back of the tent with a scroll in hand. She smiled warmly at her little apprentice whom she thought of as her own daughter. She turned back to Benyam.

'Once we're through this part of the desert I hope to hook up with Irene again.' She paused and placed a hand on Benyam's forearm. The latter turned to face the Bard and she asked, 'May the Amazons train Alya further? They can teach her more things than I ever could.'

Benyam thought for a few seconds. 'She is a quick learner. I do not want her or you to leave. I also see in her something… Alya is destined to be a great leader someday. Will the Amazons give her that opportunity?'

'I shall pledge her my right of caste. It will give her the right to rule over all the Amazons.'

Benyam considered Gabrielle's pledge thoughtfully.

'We'll travel towards Dianathea and talk more when we reach Irene's camp.'

'That's all I ask.'

* * *

The desert faded around Irene as she was enveloped by a white light. Her surroundings shimmered and changed into a white room. She sensed movement nearby and turned around to confront a couple creatures fussing close beside her.

Suddenly the creatures stood absolutely still. They were humanoid but completely white, no shadow marked their skin and white milky eyes stared at her blankly - yet they were not blind.

'The - lady - has - arrived?' asked one creature.

'Must - inform - the - princess?' It spoke the question more as a statement.

The upward lilt at the end of their sentence was part of their cultural development in speech.

'Where am I?' Irene asked.


'No, you don't understand. I asked where I was.' She tried again.

The milky white face showed her an expressionless face of misunderstanding.

Irene touched one of the creatures on the shoulder. It felt soft and spongy. 'You haven't got a glue what I'm on about, do you?'

The creature shrugged her hand off, 'Must - tell - princess - you - have - arrived?'

'Must tell princess I have arrived, yes?'

The creature broke into a bright white smile and darted off into a white wall.

'That is a door?' She asked as a statement question.

'That - is - a - door, yes?'

'What a strange place.'

The creature looked at her quizzically. 'Never mind.' She murmured.

One of the lackey's returned with a frail old lady in tow. She looked up into a most familiar face.

'Hi, my name is…'

'Irene,' replied the old woman. 'Yes, I know. I have been expecting you. In fact I asked you to touch the Sister of Life for I have a lot to tell you which concerns the past, present and future of Earth and the survival of the Amazon Nation.' The old woman sat down on a white furred bed in the room.

'I'm in the Sister of Life?' Irene whispered. 'Angelica?'

The old woman nodded. 'I am or was Angelica.'

'I have a lot of questions…'

'I'm sorry, but I cannot answer them all. What I can tell you is that you must trust my young self fully.' Old Angelica held up her right hand. A white scar was visible. 'You will meet a young girl. She will be bright, witty and intelligent. She has been trained by a Greek Amazon…'

'Gabrielle!' Irene interrupted.

Old Angelica nodded. 'Yes, Gabrielle has trained her young apprentice many skills. Alya will carry the right of caste of her teacher as well as of you and five others. She will be the Empress of the Amazon and Protector of the Krittikas, my sister swords.'

Irene forced a question out, 'The Krittikas?'

'Seven Sisters of the Pleiades, trapped inside seven elemental swords. Originally we were the nurses of Karttikeya. Also known as Ares - God of War.' Old Angelica chuckled. 'He can be so impatient and all he wants to do is have fun.

'Now don't look so angry. He is still a child of the cosmos in some ways…'

'What has all this got to do with Alya? Who is Alya?' Irene asked annoyed.

'That's a bit difficult to explain. Alya is a crucial part of a very complex puzzle and she must be protected at all cost. But on the other hand, she can take care of herself once her full power is revealed. You must go to this place,' old Angelica placed her hand on Irene's forehead and an image imprinted itself in her mind. 'A very old enemy of mine will try and kill Gabrielle. But there is another force at work who needs to kill Alya if it wants to be reborn. You must prevent this tragedy to occur. Go, my friend.'

Everything shimmered out of existence and Irene found herself looking into the eyes of her astonished entourage still clutching the Sister of Life.

Angelica smiled knowingly as the Queen of the Amazons released the elemental sword reluctantly.

'Amazons, gather around!'

From behind every dune surrounding Angelica they came. Hundreds of Arabic Amazons gathered around the pair.

'Angelica is my sister,' Irene unsheathed her curved rhino-dagger. She took Angelica's hand and made a swift gash before Angelica knew what had transpired. Then just as swiftly Irene made a similar gash on her own hand. Both bleeding palms came together in a handclasp.

'Now we are blood-sisters. Your life is my life. My life is your life. Every Amazon will serve you as they serve me. This I swear on the Sister of Life!'


* * *


by R.B.Kloosterboer

Gabrielle dreamed a strange dream of being wounded in a battle which would mean certain death to someone close to her heart. The next scene showed her apprentice Alya as a beautiful mature woman, attractive with mystical eyes. She carried her lithe frame with strength and agility and she was fighting against a dark force unknown to the world. Her weapon was as beautiful as she. Its ornate intricacies as mystical as the young woman's eyes. A name came in her mind. A name of a sword. Yet the sword was not a sword, but she would remember it when the time comes.

Gabrielle drifted away and she saw a familiar silhouette.


'I am here, Gabrielle! There is danger. Watch your back. Keep Alya safe.'

Xena drifted away and a dark form of nightmares stared into Gabrielle's soul.

Gabrielle sat up abruptly sweating with fear.

Alya was sleeping nearby. Gabrielle sensed a danger as she saw a minute shadow crawling its way over Alya's sleeping form.


Gabrielle saw the creature pause a moment, sensing a moment of fear in the air. She knew she had to act fast and find the right moment to strike very soon. The creature reached Alya's neck and poised to strike the girl's jugular.

Instantly surprised the scorpion was flipped in the air. It never felt itself being sliced up before it hit the soft dune sands where it would await consumption for the next desert creature.

A black smoke dissipated from the head of its decapitated form, hissing away into a moon-less sky.

Gabrielle used one of her sais to pick at the bits of scorpion when she stepped back in sudden surprise. Two familiar silhouettes stood at the entrance of the tent.

'Angelica? - Irene!' Gabrielle asked surprised.

'Hiya Gabrielle. It's good to see you.' Angelica said enthusiastically.

Anger danced across Gabrielle's face. 'I seem to be angry with you, Angelica… but I have no idea why?'

'That doesn't surprise me, dear friend. There is a rip in time and every time I try to repair it something changes, but…' Angelica seemed amused at the thought. 'Everyone I have contact with knows of the other reality. Did you have any strange dreams lately?'

'As a matter of fact, I had one just before you came in.' Gabrielle whispered.

A small form stirred. A sleepy voice murmured. 'Gabrielle? I had a bad dream.'

Gabrielle knelt by her apprentice's side, cradling the little girl affectionately. She kissed her brow.

Alya's sleepy eyes sought out the two silhouette's standing near the tent's entrance. She pointed to the time-traveler in recognition and smiled to Gabrielle with curious eyes.

'Gabrielle… there isn't much time to explain everything so I'll just show you with this…' Angelica proffered the strangely resonating Sister of Life.

Gabrielle looked at the weapon with curiosity hand suspicion. Trusting the ancestor of Xena fully she touched the elemental sword.

Astonishment was still on her face when she found herself in a completely white room.

'Welcome Empress Gabrielle…' An old woman sat comfortably embroidering in a rocking chair.

'Empress… I'm not an Empress.' Gabrielle protested, then recognized… 'Angelica?'

The old woman smiled and allowed a small embrace in greeting from Gabrielle.

'Let my old bones look at you, my dear friend. I wonder how long its been?' Old Angelica shook her head and smiled. 'My Sister forgets to inform me from time to time. Why are you here?'

Gabrielle looked around in astonishment. 'I remember everything… the Seven Sisters… seven elemental swords… the seven spires of Olympus… I've been here before, how can this be?'

Old Angelica laughed pleasantly. 'My young self made the right decision for once. Irene knows what to do and soon you will too…'

'Alya! Rashid is after Alya!' Gabrielle looked confused. 'How did I know that… that hasn't happened yet.'

'There is one other entity that has lost its place in the fabric of time…' Old Angelica continued.

'I recognized its evil presence in the form of a scorpion… what does Lucifer want with Alya?'

'Your right of caste was bestowed on Alya, remember? She is the key to unite all of the Amazons. With your teachings of the old ways and knowledge of the past, she will become the most powerful of all…'

'Wait a minute… Rashid traveled back in time to stop a future Amazon Queen?' Gabrielle tried to make sense.

'Almost, my dear, almost. Alya is destined to be an Empress. Uniting all the Amazon Nations in one and be recognized by the rest of society as independent.'

'There was one being that I trust with all my heart that can keep Alya safe.' Gabrielle caressed a little black urn hidden within her sash. 'You've brought her back using your time-machine. Can you bring her back just this once to protect Alya?'

Old Angelica looked at the pleading Bard. 'The timeline is too distorted to risk bringing one more person back from the dead. Why don't you ask her?'

'Gabrielle?' A hand touched Gabrielle's shoulder gently. She turned around to look into deep blue eyes. Gabrielle embraced her long-dead friend and emotions overwhelmed her.

'Don't leave.' She whispered. 'I need you.'

'I'm not going anywhere, sweetheart.' Xena whispered and cradled Gabrielle's head against her copper breastplate. 'I'm always with you. Always.'

She let go abruptly of the Warrior Princess. 'Xena, there is something I must do and I've asked Angelica for a favour…' Gabrielle composed herself and asked… 'Will you keep Alya safe from harm while I seek out the Seven Spires of Olympus?'

'You don't want me to fight?' Xena asked disappointed.

Gabrielle approached the Warrior, 'Don't worry, love. There will be plenty of people who want to be clobbered by you.'

Xena smiled in anticipation. 'When can we go?'

* * *

Young Angelica stood in front of Gabrielle with the Sister of Life in her hands. Gabrielle smiled with her eyes when she saw a familiar figure disappear stealthily into the shadows.

'Sisters, we have a lot of work to be done.' Gabrielle turned to Irene. 'How close are your troops, Irene? Those bandits might strike us at anytime.'

'Do not worry, Gabrielle. We have set up the usual perimeter patrols. Not even a scorpion will sneak by us without us knowing about it first.'

'Very well. We are dealing with very daring enemies here. One is from the future… a time-traveler like Angelica. The second is more sinister. An enemy from the past that has somehow been released within the fabric of time. I need to collect the Seven Sisters from their concealment. One will be here tomorrow. Rashid will be carrying the Sister of Air. Stay out of his reach… and we must have him alive.'

Someone whispers in the shadows near Gabrielle. 'That's a bold plan. Looks like you'll have more fun than me.'

Gabrielle does not react and watches and hopes that no one heard or saw her stealthy friend. Everyone nods agreement to Gabrielle's bizarre plan.

The sun crests the desert dune top and preparations are in full swing.

* * *

Exposing himself from concealment an archer looks over a dune crescent to spy the oncoming small caravan. He sees his comrades getting ready by aiming their deadly arrow bolts in the same direction. The instruction was simple. Take out the leader on the camel. He aimed his bow and arrow at the leader and fired. The arrow hit its target and the archer smirked when he saw his comrades fell the leader with their own arrows.

'Good shot…' An Arabian Amazon surprised the archer. He looked into dark, brooding eyes and noticed he was surrounded. 'Capture him!'

Before the archer could defend himself, sure hands secured and bound him. Within minutes he and his comrades were huddled together in a close-knit group utterly surprised by the quick Amazon tactic.

'What do we do now, Queen Irene?' Asked the first lieutenant.

Irene lay close to the ridge, 'We wait until Gabrielle gives the signal.'

'At least Benyam and his family are safe.' The first lieutenant said.

In the valley the first arrows struck the decoy dummy.

'Everybody take cover!' Gabrielle instructed and pulled the dummy off the camel to make it look natural. A strange memory surfaced as Gabrielle tried to focus on the present.

"…Alya screamed as five arrows struck Benyam down just after dawn."

'That didn't happen.' Gabrielle sighed. 'Thank the gods that that did not happen this time.' She stood up, ready for battle.

No more arrows flew in their direction so Gabrielle knew that Irene had succeeded with one of the plans. Gabrielle and her little group were quickly surrounded by the bandits and to their surprise they all were squared off with the Arabian Amazons.

'Surrender now and you will be spared. We only want Abdul Abu Rashid.' A bluish tint caught her eye as Rashid stormed towards Gabrielle. She recognized the Sister of Air immediately and instructed her army. 'Fall back.'

The Amazons quickly retreated much to the confusion of the raiders, but they quickly surrounded Gabrielle and Rashid, their leader, who was brandishing his coveted weapon fondly.

'You are the infamous Warrior Princess Xena.' He taunted. 'I thought you would be taller…'

Gabrielle laughed. 'I'm flattered, but I am actually Gabrielle.' She studied the time-traveling warlord curiously. His sword was not of the region - it looked too exotic for the Land of Arabia. Its blade was made of a bluish tinted wave and was razor sharp on four equal edges. A hand guard protected the wrist area but the hilt had a strange hand-grip perpendicular to the standard hilt. It almost seemed like that one could punch with this weapon. An eerie memory flashed momentarily through Gabrielle's mind. She remembered her thoughts from a parallel world as her opponents blade deflected and cut through her side. Not stopping she felt a crushing blow to her rib-cage as the punch effect made itself clear.

Clearing her head from the strange memory Gabrielle asked. 'Tell me something… where did you find the Sister of Air?'

Rashid looked puzzled.

'You might want to tell your men to stay back a bit…' Gabrielle advised and brought forth the Sister of Life.

The raiders were milling around nervously waiting for their boss to give the signal. One got too impatient and slashed down hard toward Gabrielle. The latter didn't even flinch as she simply let the thug make a little contact with elemental weapon.

He disappeared into oblivion.

The bandits stepped back. Some fled away in panic. Only Rashid was impressed.

'I must have this weapon…' He began and moved towards Gabrielle.

'Not a problem.' Gabrielle smiled teasingly.

Suddenly a scorpion jumped out of the sand and onto Rashid. Before anyone could do anything the scorpion stung him and he collapsed.

Quick as she could Gabrielle picked up the Sister of Air and escaped with some of the thugs following close on her heels. She lead them towards a ridge and took a leap of faith straight over it.

As the bandits reached the ridge they were confronted by hundreds of Amazons. They surrendered without making a squeak.

In the meantime the body of Rashid was transforming into something grotesque. An otherworldly entity was taking over his body. His eyes opened and a pair of dark pools with crimson fire stared up at the heavens. He jumped up and a roar announced his arrival in the world.

* * *

Xena stayed close to Alya. The girl's family stayed firmly put under close observation of some Amazon Warriors left behind for protection. Xena looked up, cocked her head to listen to a faint distant rumble. She moved closer to Alya's ear and whispered, 'Something is coming.'

Alya nodded and stepped up to Sharya, one of the Amazon's in charge.

Although Xena was no longer in the land of the living, she wasn't a mere ghost either. To Alya and Gabrielle she was very real and solid. A tent flap opened and Xena quickly slipped outside. No one noticed the footprints in the sand that appeared out of nowhere as she made her way to the top of the dune. She looked over the edge and saw Lucifer as his old self flapping towards her. He landed a few feet away from her.

'Xena… so good to see you.'

The Warrior Princess scrambled to her feet, 'Wish I could say the same. Hell not hot enough for ya?'

'You are not quite here, so if you wouldn't mind stepping aside…'

'Oh, but I do mind.' Xena back-fists his jaw with an earth shattering blow.

Lucifer stumbles back in surprise spitting blood and rubbed his jaw. 'Is that any way to greet an old friend?'

'Depends who you talk to.' Xena answered gruffly as she shoved him away roughly with her foot. The devilish arch-angel flipped backward and landed lightly on his feet.

'Here is a weapon that not even you can stop, Xena.' Lucifer promised. She watched as the ground trembled beneath their feet an Lucifer impaled the earth with a claw. The dunes scattered the sand in all directions as a pyramid grew forth from the sand.

'I bet you didn't know this was here.' Lucifer swooped down and flapped into a small opening near the bottom of the monstrosity. 'Come on in, Xena. Or are you too scared to?' He taunted.

Curiosity compelled Xena to go, but she turned around and walked away back to camp.

The immediate danger was somewhere in that pyramid.

Her priorities were for Alya. Her charge was waiting inside the tent as she stealthily entered. Alya was up and ready, reading Gabrielle's scrolls. She looked up as in admiration and respect as Xena's ghost hovered close beside her.

'Do you love Gabrielle, Xena?' Alya surprised the Warrior Princess.

Xena looked with mild curiosity at young Alya.

'Little girls shouldn't talk about private matters.'

'I know you do. Every time you two are near each other… you just look at her in certain way… and so does Gabrielle.' The girl noticed Xena look away. 'You know, Gabrielle is so happy that you are back. Will you stay with her now? And don't die again? 'Cause that will make Gabrielle really sad.'

Xena tried to hide the tears that were forming. She refused to answer Alya. It was none of her business anyway. The Sister of Life had given her and Gabrielle a boon, and all Xena was to do was keep Alya safe from a harmful entity. No one knew she was there. Xena was still a shadow… a ghost. But this time it was different. She could feel everything. She had sensation and it felt so good to feel the wind blow through her hair.

A solid ghost that only Alya and Gabrielle could see. For as long as Alya needed protection. And Gabrielle needed her support. This had possibilities.

Gabrielle carried Xena's sword and chakram now. Xena had no weapons of her own except the special skills she possessed. Her plan was simple. The enemy could strike at any moment and Xena knew she had to be ready.

She felt a presence.

Alerted she saw a shadow creep toward Alya and Xena got ready to pounce on it. Alya noticed Xena's imperceptible change of position and matched it perfectly to Xena's silent approval.

Rashid appeared from within the shadows. His eyes crimson as fire in a pool of blackness. Xena knew something had possessed him to come and chances were Alya was the key.

'Xena!' He roared. 'You dare to ignore me? If you won't come to my pyramid willingly…' He made a grab for Alya, but the girl flipped out of the way. A couple of Amazons entered the tent and saw the demon fighting an invisible foe.

"Stay back.' Alya instructed them and the Amazons pulled back, but still remained as a protective circle around Alya.

'Lucifer…' Xena acknowledged with a backfist. 'I see you're still a loser.'

Lucifer, in the body of Rashid, retaliated and punched out swiftly at Xena's form. Xena took the blow lightly, gauging the avatar's strengths and weaknesses from the punch. The second punch she blocked and trapped his arm. Lucifer tried to separate but Xena trapped his other arm too. She pulled him close and lifted him.

'Gotcha.' Xena smiled viciously and head-butted him full into his face. He fell back grimacing and blood streaming from his broken nose.

'Now you die.' He threatened.

Xena laughed and performed a flying kick. She landed square in his chest and continued to kick and trample the avatar until he hit a post of the tent. The post threatened to collapse around them just as Xena somersaulted back to Alya.

'Wow! That was so awesome.' Alya said in astonishment.

'Everybody out!' Xena shouted. Only Alya heard, mimicked the instruction, the Amazons obeyed without question.

The tent collapsed on top of the roaring avatar of Lucifer.

'Alya, tell your protectors to take you and your family to head toward that ridge over there.' Xena said.

Alya complied and relayed the instructions of her ghostly friend just as a hellish flame consumed the Bedouin tent. The creature from hell rose like a menacing phoenix from the flames, its eyes crimson with rage, reflecting the flames teasing his corrupted body.

'Now its between you and me, Xena. Taste my wrath!' The avatar threatened.

Xena cocked her head to a distant rumble. Within seconds hundreds of Arabian Amazons stormed over a ridge, mounted on horses and camels.

'You'll have to be quick, Luce. You're about to lose your avatar.' Xena smirked.

Gabrielle was leading the chase holding the Sister of Life high for all who could see. Lucifer looked annoyed at the oncoming army.

'We'll meet again, Warrior Princess.' Rashid's body shuddered and shook as the essence of Lucifer seeped into the desert sands leaving it's host to rot in the desert sand. As Gabrielle's horse came to a halt there was nothing left but a bubbling mess.

'What happened, Xena?' Gabrielle asked.

'Looks like Lucifer chickened out. This was the destiny of Rashid in the end.' Xena answered.

Alya and her family came over the rise. Gabrielle embraced her ward in relief.

'Maybe now we can go on with our lives…' Gabrielle turned to Xena, then stared sadly out over the desert sands. The wind whipped around a silhouette of someone she knew so well. Someone from the past she traveled with long ago.

'I will find a way to get you back, Xena. Farewell, my love. My soul!' She whispered silently to herself as the sands dispersed a shadowy silhouette within the wind.



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