Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights is intended.

Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains references to a loving relationship between two consenting adults, who happen to be of the same sex. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.

Violence Disclaimer: This story contains scenes of graphic violence.

Shock Factor: Let’s just say that Plan D #21 isn’t going to be lucky for anybody. People are gonna get hurt and possibly worse, so you’ve been warned.

Note: This story is in segments, due to it’s size.

Please send any comments to asdease1@gte.net

Enjoy, I hope.

part two

Written by FlyBigD

Two hours after they started, the Royal House of Ungara were circling around square one. So far, nothing had shown up in either set of Archives to point to a possible suspect and they couldn’t find any significance for the Palace itself. According to everything they found, it was just a palace, nothing more. It had been carved out of the mountain by members of the clans, as they left the world outside to live in the forest. Ungara himself had had nothing to do with it’s construction, or design. In fact, he’d never even been physically inside the Palace. Even with it’s proximity to the Palace of the Ancients, the Palace of the King was just the house next door. Ungara’s power set the base for the protection from outside gods, like Ares, but T had removed that when she let him out of the cave. Now, virtually anybody could traipse up to the throne and say hi. So the reason for T’s apparent removal from her home was lost on all parties concerned.

The other complete mystery was the person behind the plan. The faceless power that was pulling strings like a master puppeteer was still just that. Faceless and nameless. The ability to limit T’s power should not have been possible. There were no references to anyone ever having sway over the Ancients and therefore the power to hold T in check was something that didn’t show up either. Her mortal birth was the only hold out for a clue. If the Ancients’ power had been tainted when their blood was put into T’s body, then maybe somebody could do what was happening, but again it was the rarest of possibilities. TPTB couldn’t beat her combined and that left only a stray god here and there that might want to take her on. Yet, none of those showed up as having enough power accomplish what was going on. They might be able to hold Ares in check, but not T. The facts were clear. No one god had ever been as strong as Ungara had been when he’d taken his brothers’ powers and their souls to meld with his, so by default, that made T the most powerful god in existence. Not just alive, but ever.

So, here they were, back at square one and huddled around a couple of computers for guidance with the stray ideas popping into their heads. Here also, in his little corner of the wall was Ungara himself, which meant that T was typing a lot more than regularly scheduled. Listening to her friends voice their questions and comments from the wall, she knocked out her responses, communicating in Greek with the American side, via their electronic loophole. She also sent Ungara’s responses, since he could hear what the trio were saying too, but was in the same boat of not being able to talk back. So clawed fingers moved constantly, sending her thoughts, answering questions and translating Ungara’s into Greek for their benefit, which wasn’t necessary, and she did unconsciouly.

"Okay." Holding up her hands, Gabrielle pushed the two tanned faces out of her personal space. "Just give me some air. I can’t think with you two breathing down my neck." Rotating her head from side to side, she emphasized her agitation with a glare to each. Taking a deep breath, she let it out slowly and sat back. As she did a message popped up on the screen. [So the who and the how still aren’t there. Don’t worry about it. There’s more than one way to skin a moose. Just forget those two and let’s try something else. How about what, or why?] Sighing heavily, she nodded. "Okay. What about why?" [Hmmmm. Why me? Why you? Why now? I find it hard to believe that any god has the patience to wait for me to become pregnant to make a move. Maybe there’s another time frame involved that we’re not seeing. Maybe it has more to do with what could have happened today in the past that has set the wheels turning? Are the stars aligned? Are there sun spots that only wakes somebody up every five thousand years? Stuff like that.]

"That’s not bad." Nodding from a safe distance away, Xena tapped her cheek. "Can you get a cross reference of dates?" Speaking to both the bard and T, she watched the screen.

"That would be tough." Shaking her head, the bard drummed her fingers lightly on the keys. "The calendar has changed over time and the dates may not match up. Today’s date may show up as a different day and a different month the further back you go. The Julian calendar we use today didn’t come about until our little friend was in power."

Snarling, the warrior rolled her eyes. "Oh, yea. I keep trying to forget about him."

[Needless to say, your little friend wasn’t appreciated in my neck of the woods, if memory serves.]

"Honey, you’re digressing." Ares smiled.

[Butt faced piss ant and Xena wonder’s about my choice in men! Ha!]

"Okay, okay. Let’s not even go down that road." Shaking her head, Gabrielle held a hand up over her shoulder to stop any remark that might come from the warrior princess. Hearing a low growl, but nothing more, she let out a breath. "Okay, what’s today’s date on the Ungaran calender?"

[Well, you’re not on my today yet, so we’ll go with both dates. It’s Kalay 23 for me and the 22nd for you.]

"T? Can you do a search of the entire Archives database and just pull up dates?" Ungara asked her.

"It’ll take time." Glancing up at the face on her wall. "Virtually every day from the dawn of time is recorded in the Archives. Even if I just use those two dates, we’ll still end up with thousands of entries to go through." Typing while she spoke, she sent off the translation to the trio.

"How long will it take to pull up the entries?" Ares asked and checked the clock on the computer.

Blowing out a puff of air, T did some mental calculations. [An hour minimum. That’s not counting how long it’s going to take to read the entries.]

"Can you split it? Do chunks, so that it will take less time to get something back? That way we can be checking one section while another is compiling?" Xena asked and leaned next to the bard for the answer.

[Sure. I’ll do five hundred year intervals and send them out as they come in. It’ll still take time, but it’s worth a shot.]

"Do it." Gabrielle nodded. "I’ll print out what comes up and we can split them here too."

[I’m on it.]

"While she’s doing that, can we check some of the other whys?" Sitting in the chair he’d brought around the desk an hour before, Ares stared at the bard. "I think it’s called multi-tasking?"

"The system will be slow, but yea." Turning, she gave him a smile. "What why did you have in mind?"

"Why her?" He said without hesitation.

"That’s going to be a waste of time, Ares." Shaking her head, the warrior stood upright. "T doesn’t have any enemies and if she does, I don’t think they’d show up in the Ungaran Archives, ya know?"

"Not necessarily, Xena." Gabrielle countered. "If we were to do a search for T’s name in books that she didn’t write, somebody else might have written something significant. It doesn’t have to be hate mail to be helpful." Giving Ares a wink, she began typing.

Smiling gratefully, the God of War sat back in the chair.

"Gabrielle, she’s been King for over two thousand years." Sighing, the warrior shook her head. "Every Ungaran since then has probably written something about her. You’ll end up with the friggin Library of Congress if you leave it that broad."

"Okay, I’ll just reference from the date of her birth to say, five hundred years past that?" Looking up at her wife.

Looking down at a pair of tired green eyes, Xena held up her hands a foot apart and brought them together slowly.

"Three hundred?" Her fingers hovering over the keys in anticipation.

"Try a hundred and we’ll go from there." Shaking her head again, she sat down in her chair and scooted it closer.

"One hundred." Sounding disappointed, Gabrielle did the required typing then hit return to begin the compiling process.

Humming the theme to Jeopardy, the warrior got slapped by the bard and stopped. Then she fidgeted in the chair and got slapped. Then she fell asleep and got slapped, but this time it was because the results had come back. "What?"

Staring at the amount of pages for the file, the bard sighed. "Holy shit. She is popular isn’t she?"

"I could’ve told you that." Ares mumbled.

"You’re biased and shut up." Slapping his knee, Xena twitched her nose. "Well, go for it." Giving the bard’s chair a nudge. "Let’s start from the day she was born."

Scrolling down through 683 pages, Gabrielle held down the key as the entries flew by. After an eternity, she finally reached the first entry and stared wide eyed. "I think we found part of the why T."

Frowning, the god arched an eyebrow. What?

"Today’s your birthday." Xena whispered.

[No it’s not. My birthday isn’t until next month.]

"Well, according to Treyma, you were born today, two thousand, three hundred and fifty-two years ago." Shaking her head, the bard stared at the screen. "He’s got it written down on this date and says . . . that . . . you were born under the moon of Breshka in the time when the stars wept and the sun cursed it’s existence. When’s the moon of Breshka?"

"It’s all this week." Ungara mentioned. "And she’s right. This is your birthday. Treyma’s journal is the only correct record of the date. All the other entries were dated later to put Lavius off the trail, in case he came to the Palace."

"Now, you tell me this?" Staring at the corner of the wall in astonishment, T rolled her eyes. "I’ve been celebrating the wrong day for over two thousand years and you’re just now getting around to making the correction?"

"I’m old." The Ancient said in his defense.

"Well, I’m no spring chicken either and I’ve got all my marbles." Sighing in disbelief, she closed her eyes. "I can not believe this."

"Hello! Anybody home?" Tapping the monitor, Xena tried to get an answer to the question. "When’s the Breshkan moon?"

Opening her eyes, T typed a response. [Well, according to Ungara, you owe me a card, a present, cake, ice cream and I’ve been celebrating the wrong day since before I knew what the hell a birthday was!]

"Oops." Wincing, the warrior went back to her seat.

"Hold on." Waving his hand, Ares cut in. "If nobody knew, what difference does it make?"

"Good point." Nodding, Gabrielle began reading the entry.

"Yea. Is there anybody still alive that knew the right date?" Xena asked the air.

T looked at Ungara. "Well?"

"All of the Ancients, the remaining Olympians and some of TPTB, but like Ares and Aphrodite, they didn’t even know you existed, so they are unlikely to be aware of the forgery." Giving her an apologetic smile.

Sending the information over, the god puzzled at her new birthday. "And me without a party hat." Leaving this blurb out of the message.

"Basically every god still in existence." Nodding sarcastically, the warrior smacked her forehead. "That narrows it down to the same list we started out with."

"We’re trapped at square one." Ares bemoaned and sat back.

"You’re going over like a lead balloon, Ungara." Shaking her head, T sighed. "You drop anymore points in the polls and we’re gonna have to see about getting a new you." She warned with a smile.

He found it unamusing and suddenly realized what everyone had been complaining about for so long. "Your humor escapes me."

"Don’t worry. I’ll catch it for ya." Flicking her eyebrows, she typed something into the computer and waited. Suddenly there was loud laughter echoing through the room. "They get it."

"And I’d like to get back to the business at hand." Using his best ‘King of the Ancient Gods’ tone.

Rolling her eyes, T smiled amicably. "Speaking of which." Seeing the first file from her search come up, she saved it and sent it off to America. [Here’s the first five hundred years. Enjoy.]

"Dammit, T. I was reading." Having the entries she’d pulled up overridden, the screen now held the one’s T sent.

[Sorry, Gabrielle. Do you want it back?]

"Yes." Nodding, she held up a finger. "Wait. Let me spool this first." Moving the mouse around, she sent the file to the printer. "Okay, send it back."

[There ya go.]

"Thanks." Smiling, the bard went back to reading.

[You’re welcome.]

"Okay, Ares. Break open that new package of paper and let’s get this showboat on the river." Checking the reservoir, Xena held out her hand. When a stack of paper was placed in it, she loaded it into the printer. "All right, baby. Do your thang."

Holding the freshly opened package on his lap, Ares waited. Watching the sheets come out one by one, he drummed his fingers and checked the clock on the computer.

"We’ll make it." Gabrielle whispered and turned to pat his knee. "We’ll find something."

"I know." Nodding, he felt the same way he had when the couple had been trying to find out what was wrong with T when she first got pregnant. It was the waiting that did him in. He just wasn’t built for it and even with T’s calm influence, he still suffered from the need to do something almost all the time.

Seeing the state his was in, Xena took mercy on Ares and handed him the first set of pages that had come out. "Here."

Grabbing them like a child being handed a candy bar, the God of War smiled and began reading in earnest.

Smiling to herself, Gabrielle gave the warrior a wink and a silent thanks.

Shrugging, she blew it off as a whim, then she gave him a sidelong glance and saw the pages being turned over at a rapid rate. "Gods." She grumbled and gathered up the next few pages to hand over.

Taking them without looking, Ares continued to read what happened on that day for the first five hundred years of recorded time. Whipping through the pages, his eyes moved from side to side, as he devoured each entry. Slapping another page over, he sat up straight and pulled it back to read it again.

Xena noticed this and leaned over to read what he’d brought back. "What?"

"Did you know that Ungara and Dahok are twins?" Frowning, he held up the paper for her to see.

Hearing the name, Gabrielle went rigid in her chair. "What?"

"Ungara and Dahok are twins." The warrior repeated and read the page. "It shall come to pass, when the earth in it’s own time chooses, that the world will know the birth of the light and the darkness. The moon will cast no shadow and the stars will weep at the loss of their own and the sun will curse it’s existence at the brilliance born that day. The sons of the heavens will rain down to be born in the visage of their stars. The darkness will run true to it’s calling and the fickle light will dance among the clouds. In the shadows all will know this day and will remember it for the eternity to come, when the world will shudder in it’s wake and will send forth a plume of brilliance. This day, Dahok will rise from the earth’s womb to encompass the sky and Ungara will play among the stars of his origin. Light and Darkness will turn in the heavens for the eternity to come and will be remembered in it’s time."

Staring in disbelief, the bard began scrolling downward again, until she came across Treyma’s entry. "T was born in the time when the stars wept and the sun cursed it’s existence." Speaking just above a whisper, she shook her head. "T! Is a Breshka moon a new moon?"

"Yes." Ungara nodded without having to be asked directly.


"Ungara, when’s your birthday?" Scrolling back up, she was searching for something she hoped would turn out to be wrong.

"Tomorrow." Xena said, reading the message from T.

"What’s up?" Setting the rest of the pages aside, Ares scooted his chair closer.

"I’ll let you know in a minute." Watching the dates go by, she slowed down and began to check closely. Still moving forward in time, she came across the date T died, which was the same day Dahok died. Feeling the dread starting up from her toes, she pushed everything off her desk calendar to find the date. Checking back, she found a little black moon right next to today’s date. "It’s a new moon."

"Yea, so?" Leaning over the bard, the warrior looked at the calendar.

Swiveling her chair around, Gabrielle faced the God of War. Keeping her voice as soft as possible, she stared into his eyes. "Ares, where was Dahok’s lair when he died? It wasn’t in Greece, was it?"

Ares shook his head. "No."

"Then how come it only took us two days to get back to the beach, when we were bringing T’s body back?" Trying to hold his eyes, she watched them lower. "And how did the lair opening show up so close to the Inn? Why did you want us to believe it was in Greece?"

"Because I sealed the real one." He said softly. "When you two were taking care of T’s body, I moved us all without you knowing it and opened up a hole in the crust, just like the one at the foot of the volcano."

Frowning, the warrior knelt down in front of him. "How? Why?"

"Because he didn’t want anybody to be able to find the real lair." Gabrielle smiled sadly.

"I didn’t want anybody coming back there to bring Dahok back to life." Nodding, he looked up at Xena. "T knew where the lair was all the time and I knew because I sided with him, but other than that only Ungara should’ve known. I don’t even think his brothers know."

"But why?" Confused, she turned to the bard. "He’s dead. T killed him. Even Drennan thought he was dead."

"And I thought Hope was dead when I gave her the poison and I thought she was dead when I took her into the lava pit, Xena. And I bet if I check the records, I’ll find that she came out of her cocoon on the same day." Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Dahok was Hope’s father. Maybe they have a cycle of rebirth, like the way we go through the Karmic circle?"

"But Hope needed help to come back. She used Callisto." Shaking her head, Xena didn’t want to believe. "Nobody would bring Dahok back and why now? It’s been too long."

"She’s pregnant." Ares suggested with dread in his heart. "Maybe he wants the baby?"

"Or, maybe he just wants revenge." Gabrielle added. "Does it really matter?"

"Yes." Nodding fervently, the warrior stood. "Yes it does and I want to know why he’s back now and why he wants T to leave the Palace." Turning around, she looked at the screen. "Ungara! Why would Dahok want T out of the Palace?" Leaning on the desk, she stared at the screen, willing the answer to come across.

In the chambers, the question echoed around the room, but there was nobody there to translate the answer. The couch was empty and Ungara had disappeared from the wall.

Upon hearing Dahok’s name whispered, T hadn’t needed to rationalize whether or not it was him. Almost as soon as his name was spoken she’d felt the truth in her heart, just as she could feel her child moving inside her body and she didn’t need to know how, or why he’d come back. All she needed to know was that the destiny she though she’d fulfulled two thousand years before, had been false. The Evil she’d slain was alive. Growling low, she’d transformed her pajamas into her old baggy outfit she’d worn thousands of years before. Along with the clothes, she’d donned the ‘king’ outfit underneath as well, with all the accessories and weapons. So, by the time Xena called out, the King of the Ungara was long gone and on her way to the line of fire burning just beyond the river. Gone to fulfill her destiny once more.

Walking alone along the path, her steps were measured and steady. The sword at her back felt solid and the smell of smoke was giving her purpose. As she went, the invisible battle line moved with her. That barrier reaching out from her sides that were the allowable limits for someone to cross before dying. And he would die. Dahok would die again and she’d fulfill her destiny once more. No one would cross the battle line. No Ancient evil god, no flame, no cinder. This time there would be no coming back.

When Ungara saw T leave, he’d taken off at a run. Careening down the marble halls of his home, he’d run like the world depended on it, which it did. But he wasn’t going to stop his King, that would be useless. He’d seen her eyes and knew there was no stopping T now, but he did hold out one chance and came through the doors of his Palace without missing a stride. Without his power, he struggled to keep up the pace. After so many thousands of years inside those walls, he’d lost his edge. His physical limitations were great under the strain of mortality, but he pressed on. Passing trees and stumbling over shrubs, he used his ancient memory to find T’s Palace. The promenade looked like it went on forever as it came into view and his pounding heart threatened to burst. His lungs burning, he looked in desperation for the steps that would signal a near end to his journey. Sweat poured off his body and drenched his tattered clothes, then finally a thin white line appeared in the distance and he opened his mouth to send saliva off his face as he pumped his legs to the end of their endurance. As the line came closer, his eyes focused his body toward it, giving over conscious effort to let it become a second thought.

Falling over the steps, Ungara crawled upward like a child. Taking each with a kick of his leg and reaching for the next with his hands. Step after step he moved upward, seeing the Palace for the first time in his immortal life and not seeing it at all. Reaching the promenade, he spotted the next obstacle and ran for it. Up the stairs to the balcony, he was so exhausted that he had to crawl to the doors and drag himself inside. The cool air from outside was gone and the heat seemed to steal what little air he could breathe. Stumbling to his feet, he found the box that T had used and gave it a stare as sweat dripped from his forehead to land on the keys. Ignoring the chaos on the wall, he typed one sentence, then found something that looked right and touched it. Collapsing into a heap on the floor, he passed out and never knew if the message had gotten though.

"Move!" Xena shouted and swung open the door to the garage. Stepping inside, she flipped on the light and found the remote. Slamming her fist onto the open button, she heard footsteps behind her. "Ares, take yours. Gabrielle and I are taking T’s." Pointing to the two pitch black motorcycles sitting beside the bombshell, she grabbed the keys off a peg board and tossed the God of War his, without looking back.

Catching the keys, Ares was one step ahead of the bard and didn’t wait for her catch up. Zeroing in on his old Harley, he was on it before the door was all the way up and had it cranked when Gabrielle finally made it in.

"Come on." Shouting over the rumble, the warrior waved to Gabrielle. "You’re with me."

Pulling on the leather jacket Ares had provided, she took a deep breath and waited for the warrior to start the bike. When she did, Gabrielle took her place behind Xena and wrapped both arms around her waist tightly.

"Just hold on." Xena shouted and dropped the black monster into first. "Ares, follow me and when you feel something, honk."

Nodding, the God of War revved his engine and put his bike in gear.

Giving the bard a glance, the warrior pointed to the foot pegs and waited for two feet to get a good hold. "Ready?"

Her eyes closed, Gabrielle nodded and squeezed harder with her arms.

Popping the clutch, Xena squealed out of the garage kicking up a trail of dust. Leaning hard, she didn’t slow down to make the turn onto the drive and gunned the throttle as she shifted gears.

Ares was right behind and to the left. Using his powers, which still worked, he checked the highway for traffic and found a single car coming and blew out it’s tire. "That’s one."

Hitting the highway like she had the drive, the warrior chose to go left because it was straighter and didn’t have any traffic lights or stop signs for at least twenty miles. Leaning down over the gas tank, she pulled the bard with her and had to squint to keep the air from snatching her eyes out of their sockets. Winding the engine to top gear and the throttle open, she didn’t look at the speedometer, because it didn’t matter. All that mattered was getting out of range of Dahok’s power base and getting Ares his power back. Then it was a quick trip to Greece and the forest.

Her head buried in Xena’s back, Gabrielle had it turned sideways. The rush of wind was making her hair sting her skin, but she couldn’t risk moving. One false shift and the bike would go off course and they’d die before they could get to T. That’s what she was concentrating on. Getting to T. They had to reach her before she got to Dahok and Ungara’s message had said only five words. She’s gone to face Dahok. That’s all it had taken to get them back to their original plan. There was no more time to figure out what he wanted and how he got here. No more time for guess work. They had to get to T and either stop her, or save her. They were ready for both, because each required the same thing. Weapons and they were loaded for war. Slung over one shoulder was a pump shotgun and there was a semi-automatic in Ares’ jacket and of course the old reliables, but whatever it took, they’d use it.

His front wheel only a foot from Xena’s Ares didn’t need his headlight to see. Having every power but the one he needed most, the God of War was aiming at something unseen. Something so far away that it’d take a telescope to spot. In his mind he imagined the figure of a woman, heavy with his child walking to face the person he loathed. He could see the flames and he could smell the fire, as the wind beat against his face. Reaching out with his senses he tried to touch her with his mind, to reinforce his need. He needed T, like the soul he possessed. She was his life and there was no going back to living without her.

Inside the chambers, Ungara came into consciousness with the feeling of something, wet and rough on his face. Moving away from it, he opened his eyes to a blurred image of something huge. Blinking the cobwebs away, he looked again and smiled. "Bud!" Still panting hard from his run, his voice didn’t reflect his enthusiasm.

Nudging him with his nose, Bud tried to get Ungara to sit up.

Holding up his hand, the Ancient shook his head. "Bud, I can’t go anymore. You’ve got to get to T, before she get’s to Dahok. You can’t let her face him alone." Grabbing the fur on the side of his face, he looked deep into a pair of golden eyes. "Take the Crown to her, Bud. Protect her." Letting him go, Ungara laid back down.

Giving him a sneeze, Bud grabbed the Crown off the table and knocked Aphrodite and Cargan down going out the door.

"What the?" Finding himself under the Goddess of Love, Cargan tried not to touch anything.

"Hey. Isn’t that one of the old guys?" Rolling off the Captain, she pointed to the limp body in front of the couch.

"Old guys?" Getting to his feet, he took two steps and nodded. "Ungara!" Thinking a moment, Cargan turned around. "Follow Bud!"

"But these are new shoes!" Calling after him, Aphrodite stomped her new shoe and huffed. "All I can say is if I break a nail, somebody’s going to get hurt." Spinning around, she strutted out the door, leaving the helpless Ancient unconscious once more.

"Follow Bud." The Captain called again, but not to the goddess. He called to the uniformed guards at the bottom of the steps. "Move!" Running past them, he just caught sight of the tiger heading into the trees. Bounding down the steps off the promenade, he was proving that age had nothing to do with shear determination, when it came to speed.

As the small pack of Royal Guards disappeared into the trees, a much larger group appeared at the far end of the promenade. Unseen to Aphrodite as she fluttered down the steps, they were coming at a fast pace and in an organized formation. Chanting low, Ungara’s brothers were coming up the side of the Palace, running in step and armed. Each with their ancient weapons of choice, they hustled forward and were being joined by furred and feathered alike. Out of the trees and out of the sky came the ensigns. Wolf, hawk, eagle, bear, fox, leopard, lion and over a hundred more. They had filed out of the Palace of the Ancients right behind their namesakes and were keeping pace with the squadron of gods.

Seeing the flames through the trees, T felt the heat as well. It’s warmth danced across her face and hands and heated the leather she wore. The blaze lit up the forest in an eerie orange glow that flickered shadows from behind every tree. Her eyes scanned the flames for a shadow of their own. A form hidden in the light. One that would be watching and waiting. Feeling his presence, T’s eyes changed to match the tips of the flame in a golden reflection. Her heart beat a steady slow rhythm, she was calm and focused. Stepping ever closer, she was in line with the bridge and saw the flames creeping ever closer. "That’s far enough." She told them and their master. Coming out of the trees, she stepped onto the wooden structure with a sure stride and walked to the center, where she stopped. Drawing the sword from her back, she felt the pain start in her abdomen and put it aside once more, to call for her immortal enemy. "Dahok!" Her voice a booming against the wall of flames, she growled low and snarled, showing her extended fangs. Scanning the flames, she called again and heard a low laugh. Snapping her head in the direction it was coming from, T could barely make out the form she’d been looking for. Inside the fire, buried and covered by the inferno was Dahok and he was laughing. "It ends here, Dahok. Your tendrils have eaten their last bit of Ungaran soil."

"Are you so quick to die, Daughter of Ungara?" Laughing again, he moved sideways and watched her follow his path. "Do you wish to fulfill your destiny like your father before you? Another false King to paint their blood on the water?"

"My father didn’t fulfill his destiny and no King’s blood has touched this river. My father died as a father, for his daughter. Not as a King for his people." Following him with her eyes, she saw him stop to face her. Watching the flames closely, she saw them change his expression, as his face took on the flickering essesence of a smile.

"Wise words." Laughing again, he stayed put and considered her. "Tell me, how will you die today?"

"As I died before. After you do." Almost smiling, she didn’t hear a laugh this time.

"Hmmm. So different, this one is." Taking a step forward, he stayed within the fire. "Where is the rage? Where is the fury?"

"Didn’t you get the memo?" Letting more of smile a out, she used it to mask the pain shooting through her body. "Rage and fury went out with hoola-hoops."

"I see that your powers have made you over confident, Daughter of Ungara." His own smile back, he took another step and stopped.

"What powers?" Tilting her head, she held up her sword to give it a look. "Oh, you mean this? Yea, it does kinda feel pretty good." Twisting her wrist, she spun it in her hand, sending golden reflections of the fire back at their master. "I’ve missed this old thing."

A roll came from Dahok, but it wasn’t laughter it was his own growing fury. This time he took two steps and stopped with both feet on the bridge, out of the fire. Drawing his sword, the Evil one put on a little show of silver. "Do you mock me?"

"Why would I want to mock you? You’re already as ugly as a mud fence. What good would it do to call you names?" As he came closer, the shots of pain were changing into a continuous agony and it was taking nearly everything she had not to let it show. Just hold on Junior, she thought, I’ll try to make this quick. Taking a deep breath, she smiled bigger, showing more of her fangs and hoped she could get him moving with this one. "You know, Dahok. Drennan said the exact same thing. Just before he went boom."

Roaring, Dahok shot forward raising his sword and swinging in a wide arc aimed at her head.

Ducking down, T lost her smile as the battle began and let the blade pass over while she swung hers up at his middle, grazing his burgundy flesh, sending a trickle of black downward.

This enraged the Evil even more and he continued his charge, swinging in a vertical arc to split her in half.

Bringing her sword up, she crossed his blade with her own and held the silver sword just above her head, pushing upward with her arms as she tried to get her legs in a better position. Straining against the force, she felt something break and a hot rush of liquid run down the inside of her legs. "Noooooo." Pushing up and forward in a mighty thrust, she drove Dahok back. Using her powerful legs she continued to gain momentum and speed then shoved hard again when they reached the apex of the bridge and sent the Evil tumbling back as she herself stumbled a step. Unable to hide her pain, T bent over and saw the trail of water where she’d just been. Panting heavily, she straightened and gritted her teeth.

Gaining his balance, Dahok held his sword at the ready as she bent over and waited for the perfect moment. As she straightened again, he called up a ball of blue power and sent it thundering out of his hand.

T caught it directly in the chest and was thrown to the far side of the bridge, where she landed in a thud of pine needles and dust. Still holding her sword, all she could feel was pain and each breath she took brought it on stronger. Raising her head, she couldn’t move anymore and stared at him with red eyes.

Laughing loudly, he raised his sword above his head, then lowered it to point at the fallen enemy. "You cannot stand against the power of Dahok, Daughter of Ungara. Your child has robbed you and you no longer posses the power to defeat me. Everything you gave up for the safety of your child, you’ve lost. I have watched and waited for the transfusion to be complete and now it has. You’re not a god any longer and now, you will die and I will have your child to take the place of the one you took from me." Lowering his sword he took a couple of steps then stopped when a sound came from behind the flames. Turning around, he stared at his own wall, while the sound got louder and he roared nearly as loud as the two black Harleys that came through the fire like a bullet and went airborne on the bridge. His eyes wide, he missed the two bodies somersaulting over head and was hit by the first bike dead center and went tumbling back under he impact.

Landing on her feet, Xena rolled with the fall. Taking Gabrielle to the ground, she just caught sight of Ares landing his motorcycle directly on top of the one she’d ridden and Dahok, crushing the god beneath the combined force and she heard him gun the engine and the Evil scream as rubber squealed against flesh. Getting onto all fours, she scrambled toward the prone form of her friend. "T!."

Laying her head back T closed her eyes. "Xena! The baby! Save the baby!"

Right behind the warrior, the bard was next to T in a flash and cradling her head in her lap. "Xena?"

Moving around to her legs, the warrior could see that the leather pants were darker on the inside than the outside. "Your water broke. We gotta you out of here."

Shaking her head violently, the god opened her eyes. "No. I won’t leave. I have to fulfill my destiny. Cut them open. Just cut them open and save the baby."

"T, no." Shaking her own head, Gabrielle tried to lift her friend’s shoulders, so she could pick her up. "Xena get her legs."

"No!" Kicking hard, T sent the warrior back and she brought her legs up to form a ball as the contraction got stronger. Growling and groaning, she white-knuckled her hold on her sword. "Save my baby!"

Holding her shoulder, Xena came back and gave the bard a look. "It’s now or never."

Pounding the ground with her fist, Gabrielle nodded. "Do it."

Nodding back, the warrior pulled a dagger from her boot and yanked on T’s leg. It came down with some effort then relaxed and she placed it to one side. "T relax."

Using all her concentration, the god focused on the warrior’s voice and let her other leg down slowly. Grabbing the ground with her free hand she dug her claws in to the soil, digging up a handful with white knuckles.

Cutting as carefully as possible, Xena made a slit in the leather crotch and brought it up until the tautness of T’s muscles pulled the material away to expose another piece of dark green leather.

While this was going on, Ares was torturing Dahok with all his might. Using his body weight to hold the Harley upright, he had the throttle full open and was spinning the tire on any piece of skin he could see.

Roaring in anguish and anger, Dahok took hold of the frame on his chest and shoved upward, sending both motorcycles back and the God of War tumbling toward the three women.

But Ares didn’t stay down, he was up in a heartbeat, with his sword in his hand and charged the Evil before he could get to his feet. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaa." Swinging downward, he drove his sword into Dahok’s shoulder and got knocked back again, but held onto his sword, pulling it away covered in a black ooze. Spinning his blade, he charged again driving his shoulder into a burgundy waist, before the god was fully upright and shoved him backward, taking them both back over the bridge and away from T.

Raising his sword, Dahok drove the pommel into Ares’ back with a loud snap. Forcing the god to release his hold and crumble to the ground. Letting loose a roaring laugh, he kicked the body at his feet. "You were always weak, Olympian. Just like all of your kind."

Looking up, the God of War felt another kick to his ribs and rolled with it. Out of range, he dragged himself to his feet, using the railing for aide and stumbled his way back to the center to block Dahok’s advance. "I’d rather be a speed bump, than road kill." Smiling, he laughed and sent a trail of blood down his chin. Pointing with his sword, he chuckled at the torn and oozing flesh that had been ripped off by burning rubber. Moving his eyes, he saw the flames and felt their heat, noted that they weren’t as high as they were before.

Raging again, the Evil stepped forward a snarl on his face and brought his sword up to decapitate the laughing traitor. "You will die now!"

Ducking, Ares moved to the side then caught him in the middle with a kick. Bringing his sword around in the same motion, he just missed slicing a gash in Dahok’s side when he stepped back. Growling, the God of War pushed off the railing and kept coming. Trying to get his momentum back, he wielded his sword like a mad man, driven on by the sounds behind him.

"Push, T." Her hands in between the split leather, Xena could see something. "Come on, push! I know those washboard abs are underneath there somewhere, now push!"

T’s legs came up as the hands on her back helped her to move upward. Straining, the veins stood out on her neck and she felt her middle being ripped apart. Taking a deep breath, she held it and continued to push as hard as she could.

"I can see the head!" Shouting the news, the warrior glanced up at the bard, who’s eyes were on the bridge, but she didn’t have the luxury of doing the same. Pushing the material away, she wiped the fluid off the crown and smiled. "Okay, one more time and I think we’ll get it. Push!"

Leaning forward, Gabrielle shoved T’s shoulders up and watched the battle on the bridge. Ares was going crazy, but he was doing something right, because Dahok was moving back slowly against the onslaught. Tearing her eyes away, she looked down and saw the warrior shifting her shoulders, as her hands moved around out of sight. "Xena we need to do this now."

"Talk to T." She shot back and cradled the tiny head in her hands. It was covered in fluid from the womb, but it had a head full of black hair and didn’t look happy. Smiling, she nodded. "Okay, let’s see if this little bugger has got shoulders like a linebacker." Taking a firm hold on the head. "Push!"

Gritting her teeth, T was completely silent. She didn’t moan, she didn’t groan and she didn’t growl. Her instinct had taken over and the memory of the need for silence to survive was holding in all her shouts of pain. Taking a deep breath, she held it and pushed.

Gabrielle shoved hard, digging her knees into the dirt. "Come, on T. You can do it. Just a little bit more." Whispering in her ear, the bard held her breath as well, when she finally got sight of what the warrior was holding.

The baby shot out and Xena had to scramble to keep from losing her grip. Tugging gently, she pulled the feet the rest of the way out and the umbilical cord, trailing behind. In her hands was a wiggling, squirming, pissed off to be outside little boy. She felt the tears running down her face as she looked up to smile. "It’s a boy."

"It’s a boy!" Shouting for the whole world to hear, the bard smiled. "T! It’s a boy."

Ares turned his head and got caught by a slash to his chest, but he didn’t feel it. "I have a son." He whispered as he stumbled from the blow.

"No, God of War. I have a son. That child is mine!" Roaring, Dahok charged. "That child is mine!"

"Over my dead body." Turning back, Ares caught Dahok before he could get past him and drove his sword into the Evil’s chest. Pushing for all he was worth, he couldn’t move him, but held him in place.

Enraged, the Evil wrapped his hand around Ares’ throat. Squeezing, he felt things pop and snap, and laughed. "You’re such a little god." Tossing him back, Dahok felt the sword come out of his chest and laughed again. "That child will reign at my side for eternity while your bones turn to dust."

Trying to catch what little breath he could, the new father scrambled to get to his feet and swayed, but held his sword at the ready. "You’ll never touch my son." He rasped out and sent a flow of blood over his chin, to run down his chest to join the blood flowing from the gash. "And that’s a promise."

Dahok’s sword came up and he began slashing at the barrier between him and his son. "My son will reign with the powers he took from his mother and we will destroy all who do not bow before the name of Dahok."

Xena looked up. "What did he just say?"

"Just cut the cord." Gabrielle whispered. "Now."

Breathing heavy, T opened her eyes. "My son has my power, Xena. All that I gave up to keep him safe, I don’t have anymore. Dahok wasn’t blocking my power. I didn’t have it anymore. Once you cut the cord, it will be gone forever." Dropping the handful of soil, she brought her hand up to hold the palm up toward the warrior. Flicking her wrist, a golden dagger shot out from the gauntlet.

"T, no. You can get it back." Shaking her head, the warrior stared at the dagger. "Without your power you’ll die. Dahok will kill you. I can’t do it."

"Do it." She whispered and saw hesitation. "Xena, Dahok can send me back to the Hall of Kings, but he will not have my son." Lifting her shoulders, she brought the dagger closer to the warrior. "Do it."

"Xena." Nodding, the bard let her tears fall with abandon.

Closing her eyes, Xena reached for the dagger and sent a wave of tears down her dusty face. Feeling the hilt, she pulled the blade out slowly then opened her eyes. Staring at her gold reflection in the narrow blade, she lowered it slowly to the umbilical cord and paused. Looking up, she saw the red gone from T’s eyes and the natural dark brown smiling at her. Nodding, she looked down at the cord and made a quick cut.

As the dagger severed the cord, Ares was sliding slowly backwards off Dahok’s sword through his chest. His blood leaving a red smear on the silver blade, his life flowed out of his wounds. Eyes open, the God of War fell to the wooden floor, his head bouncing off the planks. When he was still, he heard just one sound. The cry of his son, then he closed his eyes.

"Ares!" Trying to get to her feet, Gabrielle shouted, but was held down by a vice wrapped around her wrist.

Her eyes closed, T felt the love leave her body and drift upward with Ares. Then she heard a roar, but it wasn’t the evil echoing off the trees. It was one more familiar than her own. Holding the bard down, she heard a silent whoosh of air.

Wide eyed, Xena looked up as something fell to the ground and the sky was blocked by a mass of striped edged white fur.

Coming out of the trees like a rocket, Bud launched over the three women, dropping the crown in his mouth and roared. Hitting the ground at the foot of the bridge, he launched again and drove Dahok through the air, back to the center of the bridge with his half ton body. Clawing and biting, he sank his fangs into a shoulder and shook his head, ripping and tearing.

Glancing over her shoulder, the warrior was still wide eyed. "Go get him Bud!"

T edged up from the ground and got to her knees, leaning heavily on her sword.

"Xena, the baby." Gabrielle whispered and held out her hands.

Turning back around, Xena nodded. "Take off your jacket." Cradling the baby in her arms, she looked down at his still unhappy face. His fists were balled up and tucked under a chin, that had a quivering bottom lip. "I know you’re cold. We’re working on it."

Pulling off her jacket, the bard spread it out on the ground, where T had just laid. "Okay."

Easing him out of her arms, she laid the boy in the jacket carefully. "There ya go."

Wrapping the naked body inside the heavy leather, Gabrielle left his head visible and wrapped an arm under his head. Picking him up gently, she held him to her chest. "T." Looking up, she saw the King’s eyes elsewhere. "T? Don’t you want to see your son?"

Ignoring the bard, T slowly rose to her feet, using her sword as a brace and stood. Watching the bridge, she started forward with halting steps as the effects of childbirth and Dahok’s blast lingered. Her eyes focused, she wasn’t watching the fight, she was staring at the fallen body of the God of War, which lay motionless near the foot of the bridge.

Staring at the baby, Xena moved her eyes upward and stood. "T, we need to get out of here while Bud’s got him distracted." Placing her hand on her friend’s arm, she jerked it back when she got shocked. Shaking out the tingling sensation, she tried to get between T and the bridge, because she knew what the King was up to. "T, you can’t do it. You’ve got to think of your son. We have to get out of here now."

T kept moving forward and pushed the warrior aside.

On the bridge, Dahok had somehow managed to get to his feet, but still had Bud attached to him. The damage done by T was still there, but he’d healed the non-Ancient wounds. Bud, on the other had was doing his part and those wounds wouldn’t heal. Ungara’s ensign was tearing and ripping and had the same effect as Ungara’s sword. Pounding and slicing, Dahok fought the tiger with a matched set of teeth and claws, ripping into the fur covered flesh and rendering unhealable wounds, as well.

Between the black oozing from a burgundy body and the crimson flowing from a striped one, Gabrielle couldn’t tell Bud from Dahok. Getting to her feet, she held the baby close and stayed put, until more bodies started running past her.

Cargan charged up and skidded to a halt next to T. "Dahok." He whispered, recognizing the Evil from descriptions in the Archives.

"Get back!" Shouting, Xena turned to find the entire Royal Guard charging past the bard, who’d moved out of the way and was using a tree as a shield. Waving her arms, she walked forward to stop them. "Stay back!"

Still moving forward, T reached Ares and knelt down. Tears running down her face, she brushed her fingers across his cheek. "I can’t fix you this time. You made me break my promise." Her heart gone with him, she leaned down to place a kiss on his lips, then raised back up and lifted her eyes. "But I’ll keep yours." She whispered and stood slowly.

"Xena!" Shouting over the other shouts, Gabrielle pointed to the bridge.

Taking in a lung full of air, T shouted above the din. "Ungara!"

His mouth full of leg, Bud turned his head when she called him.

"He’s mine." Lowering her voice, she stared into golden cat eyes with a pair of her own.

"T, no!" Leaving the group, Xena ran over. "We need to leave, now. Think of your son, will you please."

"What did I miss? What did I miss?" Running up, Aphrodite stopped beside the bard. "What happened?"

Glancing sideways, Gabrielle handed the goddess the baby. "Hold him and don’t give him to anybody."

Taking the jacket, she frowned as the bard took off. "I’m a goddess, not a hat check girl." Then she felt the jacket move and she looked down to see a pair of pitch black eyes blinking at her. "Oh, that’s what I missed." Smiling, she tilted her head. "Hi, sweet pea. I’m your Auntie Aphrodite." Cradling him close, she stepped behind the tree.

Shoving the Guard aside, the bard caught up with Xena and T. Looking down, she knelt down as well and stared at Ares as a new wave of tears found their way down her face. Placing a hand on his bloodied still chest, she closed her eyes. "You did good." Sniffing, she leaned down and kissed his forehead, the looked up to the Cargan. "Get him off the bridge."

Nodding, the Captain signaled to his men.

Standing, Gabrielle stepped up on the other side of T and turned to look up at her. "T. Lets go. Aphrodite can get us out of here. We need to leave while we have the chance."

"Ungara!" Not hearing either of her friends, T’s eyes were on Bud.

Using the distraction again, Dahok stumbled back and raised his sword to strike down the striped menace.

Almost feeling it, Xena gripped her chakram and let it fly as she spun around. "Noooo." Watching the circle on it’s path, she was willing it to land in his heart.

Letting out a roar, the Evil was knocked back as the weapon buried deep in his chest. Lowering his sword, he ripped the chakram out and flung it aside.

"Bud!" Bending down, the warrior clapped her hands.

Bleeding and broken, the tiger turned to look at the warrior.

"Ungara, come." Snapping her fingers, T stared into his eyes and watched him struggle to get up. The battle had taken it’s toll on the immortal tiger and now he was losing the life he’d held for so long. Too many, she thought and began to move forward. No more.

Bud was half crawling, half dragging his body back toward them.

Laughing, Dahok healed the wound from the chakram and raised his sword. "My brother’s pet will suffer the same fate as his master."

"Dahok!" Her eyes blood red, T raised her sword over her head.

"T, don’t do this." Tugging on one of the upraised arms, Xena was still trying to get her back. "Think of the baby. Your son needs you. Don’t do this! Not again!"

"You are not worth the effort it will take to end your mortal life, Daughter of Ungara." Lowering his sword, Dahok laughed again. "You have no power over me."

"You’re wrong, Dahok." Lowering her sword as well, T used both her arms to push the girls back. "I do have some power left. I didn’t give everything up."

"I have no need of your ability to feel their pain. I’d rather hear it for myself." Sweeping his sword from side to side, indicating Xena and Gabrielle. "And I will, once you meet your destiny at the end of my sword."

"That isn’t all I kept." Stepping forward, she almost smiled. "I can still change my clothes."

Bending backwards with laughter, Dahok sent it’s echoes through the entire forest.

The girls exchanged a confused look.

"That’s a power I’d keep." Nodding in agreement, Aphrodite smiled down at the baby. "I’ll have to teach you what’s in and what’s not. Can’t have you be a fashion victim." The baby just blinked.

Lowering her head, T held him with her eyes and brought her arms out from her sides.

Stepping back, as a golden glow started emanating from T, Xena took the bard’s hand and put her behind her.

Feeling a surge of power, Dahok returned his attention to the enemy before him and found a sight he didn’t want to see. There, in the place of the sad excuse for a mortal stood the woman who’d faced him down in his lair. Gone were the baggy clothes and in their place was the sparkling outfit he’d dreamed of seeing covered in her blood. "Nooooooooo."

Xena’s eyes went wide, as did Gabrielle’s and from behind they saw the body that had been missing since she’d gotten pregnant. T was tan, muscled and rippling.

"Oh, look." Holding the baby up, Aphrodite moved around the men blocking her way and pointed out T to her son. "Mom’s done a make over."

Inside the leather jacket, two black eyes blinked.

Having used the last of her power for the transformation, T lowered her arms.

Shaking his head, Dahok’s fury grew with every second that passed. "You will not keep me from what is mine, mortal fool!"

Raising her sword, she stepped further up the bridge. "I am mortal again, Dahok. I am flesh and blood and nothing more, but it took no more than that to kill you the last time and that’s all I need to do it again." Spinning the golden sword in her hand, she kept walking.

"And that’s three mortal fools to you ass hole!" Pulling off the shotgun slung over her shoulder, Xena tossed it at the bard. "The safety’s on." Drawing her own sword, she started forward.

Pumping the shotgun, Gabrielle flipped the safety latch off and started up the bridge beside the warrior. Keeping the barrel pointed in the air, she had her finger on the trigger. Her sais still in her back pocket, she wished for a solid pair of boots, instead of the tennis shoes she wore, but they’d have to do and she avoided any major slick spots.

Halfway up her side, T knelt down to scratch Bud’s bloodied head. "Cargan!"

"Sha Miahta Nibatu. Bielten kre Bud." Falling back to his native tongue, the Captain lifted Ares’ head off his lap and signaled the Royal Guard again. Getting to his feet, he followed them up the bridge.

"Rest now, old man. Keep an eye on your little brother for me." Stroking his head gently, she could barely hear him purr as he relaxed. "Good boy, Bud. Good boy." Rising slowly, T left the tiger behind and continued onward. "I guess it’s fruitless to send you back."

"Absolutely." Her eyes glued to the demon, Xena nodded.

The bard nodded as well, from her position of guarding Bud until the Guards could get him off the bridge. "Extremely useless."

Lifting her sword, T smiled. "Then you can have whatever gets past me." Swinging the blade in a wide arc over her head, she knew that would get Xena’s attention and stop her pursuit.

Ducking, the warrior sprang back up, but stayed put and held her sword at the ready.

Setting Bud down beside the body of Ares, Cargan spread the Guard out in a line at the foot of the bridge and took his place in front of them.

Aphrodite moved back, cradling the baby and sat down between Bud and the body of her brother. Holding the baby out, she let him see his father. "See, that’s Dad and don’t you forget him. He wasn’t such a great bro, but he woulda been a great Daddy."

The baby put his balled up fist next to his ears and closed his eyes, apparently exhausted by the day.

"Okay, sweet pea. You take a nap." Smiling down at him, the goddess cradled the boy once more. "The big bad meanie will be gone when you wake up."

Dahok let all this happen, because he was concentrating on the child and waiting. Waiting for the woman with the golden sword to get in range of his own and waiting for the sky to open up. The smoke from his flames was clouding the bright blue and there were higher formations blocking the sun. His sun, the thing that brought him strength and the one thing he’d missed more than any other in his tenure beneath the ground. He was the Light and he needed the light. That is why he failed in his lair and it’s why he’d succeed today. The day of his birth and the day he would reclaim what was rightfully his. The world. He was the first born and heir to this planet, not Ungara, the God of Night. The Night had ruled for too long and now it was time for the Sun to come out. This was his dawn.



No Epilogue. Not yet.

Thanks for reading.


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