[continued from Walking On]

by Richard B.Kloosterboer

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.


* * *

'… 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.'

* * *

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!'

To be continued!


by Richard B.Kloosterboer

Read the conclusion in Sister of Life.

Coming soon.

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