Story # 1 by The Members of Argo's Stable



This is our first story. It does not have a title yet and the individual
parts have not been edited. It is exactly as it was sent to the list.



Feedback may be sent to Taiko and will be forwarded to Argo's Stable.

Disclaimer: The characters of Xena & Gabrielle don't belong to us.
They are the sole property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures.
This story may not be sold or used for profit. Copies of this
story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers.

Story # 1

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7   Part8
Part 9   Part 10   Part 11 (Conclusion)
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Part 1 by Ambrosia

It was a warm clear night, and the stars were shining brightly up above. Down
below secluded in the woods we're Gabrielle and Xena sitting in front of a
small campfire. Xena was sharping her sword as Gabrielle busied herself with
poking the fire with a stick. She was supposed to be working on her next
scroll, but Xena could tell that her thought's were a million miles away. She
place her sword on the ground and peered at the bard, who was sitting on the
other side of the campfire.

"Gabrielle, what's the matter?" Xena asked in a quiet voice.

The bard looked up as if she had forgotten that Xena was there. "I'm sorry. I
didn't hear you."

"I asked you what was wrong."

"Oh." The bard paused. "Nothing." She went back to poking the fire.

Xena took a deep breath. "Obviously something is bothering you," she
exclaimed.

Gabrielle looked up again at her. "You wouldn't want to hear," she almost
whispered.

"Of course I do. Otherwise I wouldn't be asking."

Gabrielle ran a hand through her short hair, took a deep breath and then
walked over to Xena. She kneeled in front of the warrior. She then took
Xena's hand in her smaller one, peered up at her, and keeping direct contact
with those magnetic blue eyes she said...

~Ambrosia~
*********************************************************
Part 2 by Gabby Kat

"i'm leaving..." the bard's voice cracked as she whispered the words.

xena's brow furrowed as her mouth opened, wishing gabrielle's words back to
their mistress.  gabrielle cast her eyes toward the sword that lay at xena's
feet.  with a difficult swallow from a dry mouth, she returned her sullen
stare back to the warrior princess.

"you nearly died in our last battle -"

"yeah, but you saved my life." xena interrupted words she didn't want to
hear.  "if you hadn't ridden in on argo when you did...gabrielle, you brought
me my escape."

"argo would have raced to you on a whistle.  and since when have you needed
an escape to be brought to you?!  you hesitated because of me.  it was like
you were torn between two choices, and that brief moment of indecision gave
richtus an advantage he should never have been afforded!"  gabrielle's tone
was beginning to concern even herself.  "i will not allow my path of
non-violence to risk your life again."

the bard closed her eyes, allowing the tears to roll down her cheek as the
surreal dream bringing gabrielle to this decision played again in her mind's
eye.  she released xena's hand and brushed away the tears.  as she stood, she
turned away from xena and walked to her leather satchel.  gabrielle picked up
her belongings and made her way toward the wood's edge.  a cold breeze
taunted the warm summer's night and brought a shiver to the back of xena's
neck.  the warrior looked around, almost expecting to see someone standing
behind her.  when she steadied herself, she returned her stare to gabrielle.
too stunned to speak, xena watched her companion disappear into the night.

"how touching - " the hideous voice crept up xena's spine like a viper
searching for its prey.

xena leaned forward, grabbing her sword so as to confront the intruder.  as
she spun around on one heel, the warrior princess narrowed her stare and
hissed through clentched teeth "you...i should've known..."

********************************************************
Part 3 by Taiko
 

 "Why Xena, I'm flattered. I thought you'd forget all about me after you
*killed* me."

 "So why aren't you dead?" Xena sneered at the woman.

 "I told you Xena, Gabrielle gave me a reason to go on living. You didn't
expect me to except my death after the wonderful site of your dear, sweet
Gabrielle sacrificing herself, now did you?"

 "I didn't think I gave you a choice." Xena's voice was a low growl. Why is
she here? How is she alive? More importantly, what does she have to do with
Gabrielle leaving?

 The laugh that echoed through the forest was like a banshee howl and sent a
shiver up Xena's spine. "Really Xena, you should have known you can't control
life and death. Why, didn't Gabrielle come back to you?"

 Xena's eyes narrowed, "Yes she did. But that still doesn't explain *you*."

 "No, I guess it doesn't." A smirk crossed her lips. She was having fun.

 Callisto had waited a long time for this. Xena did kill her, but there
wasn't enough hines blood on the dagger to send her to oblivion. She'd spent
almost a year, trapped between life and death. The priests had thrown her
body into the fire pit, delaying her return. She had watched as Hope saved
her mother's life. Shocked at first that there was any compassion at all in
Dahak's daughter. Then the realization that Gabrielle would soon be back with
Xena hit her. Callisto had been enjoying Xena's agony. There was no way she
would allow happiness to come to the warrior and bard.

 "All right Callisto, why are you here and what do you have to do with
Gabrielle leaving?"

 "Oh Xena, I thought you'd never ask."
 

 *********************************************************
Part 4 by Purple

Gabrielle walked through the woods, looking for a place to camp.  There was
no way she was going to be able to travel far, not tonight.  She sniffled
softly as a tear trickled into her nostrils -- no, damnit, she was NOT going
to cry.  Not now.  Her ears had been strained to catch the sounds of a twig
snapping or a leaf rustling, hoping that Xena would chase after her-- but
there was nothing, not even the cry of an owl to break the forest’s silence.
  Which was exactly the way it should be, she sternly reminded herself.  If
only her stupid eyes would stop watering...

She found a tree with low, overhanging branches; there was just enough space
underneath for the bard to curl up comfortable.  Gabrielle spread out her
bedroll.  Suddenly she froze.  She’d thought of many things during her
lonely walk, the things about Xena she was going to miss:  little things,
like the way the warrior woke her up every morning, or their ceaseless games
of “Who Am I?”  But it wasn’t until she saw her bedroll spread out all alone
that the consequences of her actions really started to sink in.  There’d be
no Xena beside her tonight, looking up with her at the stars; no Xena making
her feel protected and safe.  No Xena to comfort her when she woke up from a
nightmare...

Oh, gods.   The nightmares.  Gabrielle buried her face in her hands.  She
knew in her heart that those terrible dreams were the real reason she was
leaving Xena behind.  She’d had the first one when they were still in India;
in the dream she’d been back in Indrajit’s temple.  Eli had been murdered,
and Xena was lying powerless beneath the evil god, her arms amputated and
the rest of her body bloodied and broken.  But this time it wasn’t Krishna
that the warrior called on; it was Gabrielle.  “Help me, Gabrielle,” she
gasped.  And Gabrielle, rendered paralyzed by her vow of non-violence, had
stood and watched her die...

Xena had comforted her after that first one, saying that the dream was
Gabrielle’s mind’s way of coping with the horror she’d witnessed, and Gabby
had agreed and let it go.  But that hadn’t been the end of it.  New dreams
had come with increasing frequency.  The exact situation and setting varied,
but one thing remained unchanged-- Xena was hurt, Xena was dying, and the
only way Gabrielle could save her was to take another life, something she
was flatly unable to do.  Xena would perish horribly, and unseen woman would
laugh hysterically, and Gabrielle would wake up covered in sweat.

Last night’s had been the worst.  It had been a premonition of today’s
battle with Richtus.  Gabrielle had almost fainted when she realized the
battle was unfolding exactly as she’d dreamed.  The thug who had taken after
her.  Xena’s split second of hesitation as she tried to decide between
finishing off Richtus and protecting Gabrielle.  Richtus’s smile as his
sword caught Xena’s boot and Xena went down...  In real life, Gabrielle had
made it to Argo and rescued her friend, but the experience had badly shaken
her.  She knew that the dreams were a warning.  And she had to leave before
she got Xena killed.

Gabrielle wrapped herself in her blanket, curled up in a fetal ball, and
forced herself to close her eyes.  Just as she was about to drop off, she
thought she heard laughter-- the same crazed, hysterical, oddly familiar
female laughter that haunted her dreams.  It was coming from the direction
of Xena’s camp.
 

***************************************************
Part 5 by Leanne

Callisto played with her hair as a smirk played across her face. As she had
balanced between life and death, she had had time to explore a place where
very few had ever seen. It was part reality, part oblivion. There she had
bumped into a person who she had thought she was never going to see again. It
had angered her at first to see him there, but his presence was what  had
helped her to be free. One word formed on her mouth, "Ares."
Xena glared at her, the icy depths of her eyes churning with anger. "You're
lying, Ares was destroyed when he broke that stone."
Callisto nodded, a mock impression of thoughtfulness on her face. "Yes, yes,
Xena, he would have been sent to oblivion, had not your display of 'killing'
me not caused a disturbance. Yes, I happened to meet up with him in a place
that your mortal brain couldn't comprehend." Callisto smirked as she
continued, "It's really amazing what two gods can do, don't you think, Xena?"
Xena's eyes narrowed to slits. She didn't believe Callisto, but could catch
no clue of the truth in the eyes of the goddess.
The blonde goddess examined Xena's face. Yes, it was good that she did not
believe. It would make it easier. "Yes, well, as you may not know, the
titan's eyes aren't destroyed when you break them." Callisto laughed
mockingly, "No, they appear in the land where I was so nicely put by you."
She sneered on the last word.
Xena glared at Callisto, "What are you getting at?"
Callisto smiled contemptuously, flashing her white teeth,"This, my dear Xena,
See for yourself." She tossed a package in Xena's direction.
Xena caught the package and opened it  as she glanced suspiciously up at
Callisto.  Reaching into the small leather bag, she removed a glowing green
stone that was carved into the shape of an eye.
Realization hit her as well as a stream of fire from Callisto. The eye flew
from Xena's hand and as Xena landed, she managed to look up in time to see
the eye fall to the ground, smashing into tiny peices. Callisto grinned
widely and threw back her head into hellish laughter.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

***********************************************************
Part 6 by Ambrosia

Gabrielle woke up from a having a hideous dream.  She had dreamt something
about Callisto coming back, but knew that that wasn't possible.  Xena had
told her that she had killed the psychotic woman with the hines blood dagger,
so she couldn't be alive.  With that comforting thought, the bard sat up
wiping the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand.  There was
already a deep ache growing in from within her at the loss of Xena.  She
missed her terribly.

"What am I going to do now?" she asked out loud to the warm night air.

"You're coming with me," said an evil female voice coming from behind her.

Gabrielle turned around to see Callisto standing over her with Xena's chakrum
hooked on the side of her skirt.  The woman now had short hair, and was
smiling maniacally.  Gabrielle arose from the ground quickly and faced the
woman.  She looked around and then remembered she no longer carried a staff.
The question that ran through her mind was if she should defend herself or
not.

"My you've changed." Callisto stated, studying the bard from head to toe.
"New hairdo, new clothes, tattoos." She paused. "Why Gabrielle, I'm shocked."
Callisto took out a piece of rope.

"Where is Xena?" the bard asked angrily.

Callisto smiled crazily. "You two are always worried about one another. That
is so sweet and yet disgusting," she sneered.

"Turn around and put your hands behind your back," Callisto demanded.

"Why?"

The goddess rolled her eyes. "Because I said so. Now do it! That is unless
you want something to happen to your beloved Xena." Callisto indicated the
chakrum. "Now you know that something has already happened to her if I have
her weapon, so don't make things worse by resisting me."

Gabrielle stared at her defiantly for a moment, and then did what the woman
said. Callisto tied the rope tightly around the bard's wrist and then tugged
on her arm walking away with the bard.  The woman led Gabrielle to where Argo
was grazing in the grass and took out a scroll she had written on, tying it
around the horse's leg.  She then took a hold of the bard again and kept
walking down the road until she came to another horse.  This one was black.
She placed Gabrielle on it, and then got behind the bard taking the reins.
They started off at an easy gallop.

"Where are we going?" the bard asked, trying not to sound nervous.

"Why I'm taking you to Caesar, dear."
 
 

*****************************************************
Part 7 by Claire

Caesar laughed at Xena, who was tied up and stuggling wildly.

"Don't bother struggling, Xena, you're around friends."

Xena stopped and looked around, her blue eyes flashing menacingly. All
around her were Roman soldiers, who were staring at her and smiling
eviling, their swords drawn.

"Why don't you just watch and learn the proper way to do world
domination? Maybe you'll actually live to practise it."

Xena glared at him.

"Oh Caesar dear, I've got you and your friend a suprise!" Callisto's
voice rang through the air as Callisto entered the camp.

Caesar smiled.

"You'll like this." Caesar said to Xena, with a smirk.

The wild haired blonde entered the tent. Xena couldn't see what it was,
but it was attached to a rope that ended just out of her view.

"Oh Xena, I hope you like her! Don't worry, she's not hurt... much."

Callisto laughed, and dragged a beaten-looking Gabrielle into the tent.

"Gabrielle." Xena whispered.

Caesar looked at Callisto. He always had a self assurance about him,
but today it seemed to radiate around the tent. Callisto returned his
look with a smile that seemed to shout 'success'.

Xena was still in shock. Was Gabrielle dead? She didn't move, but only
the slight movement of her chest rising up and down confirmed that she
was alive.

"What have you done to her?!" Xena screamed, and struggled harder.

Now it was Gabrielle's turn to smile, even if it was a weak, reasuring
smile at Xena. Then her body fell still, and she was no longer
breathing. Xena's heart skipped a beat that seemed to last an hour. But
she sighed with relief as Gabrielle breathed again.

"Oh... Just gave her the punishment she deserved." Callisto said. "Her
spirit should have been broken years ago."

"NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" Xena screamed.

Caesar laughed again, and stood up.

"Come on, Callisto, we've got... plans to arrange."

Caesar gave Callisto a smile of expectation as they walked off
together to Caesar's tent.

"Gabrielle?" Xena whispered, still in shock. "Gabrielle?"
 

*****************************************************
Part 8 by Ambrosia
 

Gabrielle cautiously opened her eyes. She glanced around, noticing that it
was mainly dark in the room, except for a few strands of light that peaked in
through a broken down window. She discovered that she was laying on something
warm. She then felt a hand gently caressing her cheek. She turned to see the
magnetic blue eyes of her beloved friend.

"Xena?" Gabrielle called weakly.

"Yes," Xena replied. "It's me."

Gabrielle saw that Xena has tears in her eyes. She could tell that the woman
was desperately trying not to cry, but a tear escaped one of her eyes anyway.
The bard reached up and wiped the tear away with an unsteady hand. It hurt so
much to even breath.

She remembered when they got to Rome how Callisto had taken her into the
woods and had beaten her severely. No matter how much she had wanted to, she
didn't fight back. Now she wished that she had, because the situation did not
look for her or Xena. She didn't know why exactly, but this all reminded her
of the vision that Xena had recieved thanks to Alti months ago. She vaguely
remembered the sky overhead being cloudy and seeing snow.

'No,' she thought. 'We are not going to die. We control our own destinys.'
She would not give up hope. It seemed as if that was all they had left.

"Xena were are we?" Gabrielle asked, already knowing what the answer would be.

The Warrior Princess took a deep breath. "We're in prison."

The bard nodded. "In Caesar's prison?" she asked.

Xena nodded. "Are you okay?"

Gabrielle tried to give her a smile. "I'm okay. How are you doing?"

Xena smiled warmly down at her bard. "I'm okay," she whispered, as she ran a
hand softly through Gabrielle's disheveled short hair. She blamed herself for
all that had happened. She should have sent Gabrielle away months ago. In
fact, she should have never gone to Potiedaia in the first place to see
Gabrielle again. Xena figured that she should have left the bard alone right
after finding out from Alti what their future beheld. But no, she could not
do that, and now they were going to die, and there was nothing she could do
to stop it from happening.

"How did you get here?" Gabrielle inquired, trying to sit up, but Xena would
not allow her. She told her to stay still and the bard complied.

Xena told Gabrielle the story of how when she had woke up Argo was leaning
over her. Her eyes had went to one of his legs to see a scroll tied there.
The note had read that Callisto had taken Gabrielle to Rome, and that if Xena
wanted her back she better get there as fast as she could. Xena had known it
was a trick, and she had briefly thought about the vision, but she had to go.
She had to take that chance, because Gabrielle's safety meant the world to
her. When Xena had got Rome she had been picked up at the dock by Brutus and
some other men of Caesar's. Brutus had told her that he had been ordered by
Caesar to take her to him, and that if she resisted Gabrielle would be killed
immediately. So Xena allowed the man to take her.

"Gabrielle," Xena started. "I'm so sorry about all of this." Another tear
fell.

"Xena, there is nothing to be sorry for. Why are you always blaming yourself?
This is not your fault. I love you so much, and it hurts me when you blame
the person that I love."

Xena smiled as much as she could as she bent down and placed a tender kiss on
her bard's forehead. She heard the sound of feet approaching, and she looked
up to see a guard coming towards the bars. He smiled coldly at her.

The guard said, "Almost time."

*****************************************************
Part 9 by Gabby Kat
 

the war torn soldier put gabrielle on the cross and bound her ankles with
frigid rope.  gabrielle thought it odd but the cold permeating from the
wooden cross seemed to bring relief to her painful back and ribs.  the bard
glanced to her left and realized that xena had been watching her.  the
soldiers were sure to bind xena first just in case she had some fight left in
her.

gabrielle had seen lots of expressions on xena's face, but never despair.  in
that instant gabrielle realized that her chosen path was misguided.  'all my
time in india and with eli...i was trying to emulate him.  i was running from
what i thought i had become.  the way of love...it would bring me salvation.
it would allow me to rise above myself.  all this time focussing on my path
of nonviolence...'

"the way of friendship" gabrielle's words escaped her lips without her
intention.

xena's brow furrowed "gabrielle?"

"our destiny is our own xena, i won't let this happen to you..." with that
gabrielle gently closed her eyes.

xena watched an unpenetrable serenity come over the bard's face.  gabrielle
turned her head so that her face looked toward the steel gray sky.  the
warrior princess struggled against her frozen bindings to continue watching
her friend, but her view had been obscured by the soldier who had tied
gabrielle's feet.  as he leaned down to start working on her wrists the bard
slowly raised her upper body off the cross, using only her stomach muscles,
because her hands were busy finding the soldier's blood supply on either side
of his muscular neck.  the soldier gasped for air as he crashed to his knees.
 gabrielle had untied the rope from her ankles and was steady on her feet
before the next soldier was within 15 feet of her.  the soldier drew his
sword and charged the young bard, to his misfortune she didn't stand her
ground.

gabrielle closed the distance between herself and the guard as she leapt
forward, crashing her head into the bridge of his nose.  it was such a
mountainous blow that the soldier landed flat on his back with gabrielle
landing to straddle his waist.  the bard took his sword in her left hand and
his dagger in her right.  stepping away from the beast beneath her she spun
around to find xena laying defenseless on the cross.  gabrielle flipped the
dagger in the air, catching it by the blade.  she then shot the dagger in
xena's direction.  as the dagger hit its target the rope from xena's right
wrist fell to the ground.  while xena busied herself with the rest of the
ropes gabrielle rushed the soldiers who were closing in.  it wasn't long
before xena had joined the battle and by the time they stopped the only
soldier movements were from those writhing in pain.

gabrielle turned to xena and fell to her knees.  xena dropped her sword and
caught the bard before she collapsed to the ground.  xena felt gabrielle go
limp in her arms and she realized there could be no more fighting today.  the
warrior picked up her friend and managed to put her on a horse.  near the
soldiers campfire xena found her sword and chakram.

"caesar won't have these for his trophy collection." xena hissed as she got
on the horse behind her friend.  to xena's good fortune, though, brutus had
already set a treasonous plan into action.  when he realized that caesar was
going to crucify xena and gabrielle, he knew that the betrayals would have to
stop.  caesar would no longer be a threat to xena.  but as she road out of
the camp with her friend a familiar cold chill crept up her spine.

"first things first.  we have to find you some place safe..." xena said
aloud, knowing that her friend could not hear her.  cold air danced around
the warrior's ears.  xena shrugged it off, but she was certain the wind cried
out a hiss at she fled into the woods.

*****************************************************
Part 10 by Purple
 

*Someplace safe.*  The words ran around in circles through Xena’s mind,
relentless as the storm that gained power every passing minute.  Now that
Callisto was back from... wherever she was back from... would any place be
truly safe again?  Xena held tight to the limp Gabrielle, eyes scanning the
passing tress for somewhere to shelter.  Luck was with her-- and outcropping
of rock revealed a tiny low cave, just big enough for Gabrielle and a fire,
and there was a wide shelf over the opening where Xena and the horse could
shelter.  She got the bard into the tiny space and the fire started before
the rain began to pelt the earth, freezing cold and brutal.  She made sure
Gabrielle was as comfortable as possible, than crouched against the rock and
began to brood.

She had a lot of things to brood about.  First on the list was the fact that
none of Caesar’s men had gotten on horseback to chase after the.  She
couldn’t blame them for not wanting to be out in this weather, but... she
and Gabrielle were Very Important Prisoners, and the Roman should have known
the rain would make tracking them impossible later on.  Why hadn’t they been
recaptured by now?  Then there was the storm itself-- there was something
uncanny about this rain and wind, something she couldn’t put her finger on.
And finally there was Gabrielle’s performance on the crosses to think about.
  She still couldn’t believe the feat Gabrielle had pulled off despite her
horrible wounds, still couldn’t believe the bard had left her path in Xena’s
defense.  Tears came to Xena’s eyes as she thought about it.  Alti’s visions
had weighed so heavily on her; it seemed impossible that they’d escaped
their fate.  Were they really free?

“Xena?  Are you crying?”

Gabrielle was awake.  Xena brushed the tears away and crouched by her side.
“No,” she said.  “How did you feel?”

“Like I’ve been beaten, almost crucified, fought a hard battle and then been
unconscious for the-gods-know-how-long,”  Gabrielle said dead pan, then
smiled.  “But other than that I’m prefect.  Xena, the vision didn’t come
true!  We got away!”

Xena nodded.  *Yeah, we got away,* she thought.  *But Callisto’s still out
there somewhere, and now she’s working with Caesar...* All she said, though,
was “Yes, we got away.”  There was no reason to worry Gabrielle while she
was still so hurt.

Unfortunately Gabrielle didn’t buy it.  She raised an eyebrow.  “Then why
were you crying?”

Damn.  The girl knew her too well.  “I-- I was just thinking about your
path.  I’m sorry you had to leave it for me.”

“Xena, I didn’t leave it.  I *found* it.  My way is the Way of Friendship --
and that includes using force when necessary to defend the people I love.”
Gabrielle shrugged, suppressing a wince as the wounds on her back protested.
  “It’s too bad I had to get both of nearly killed before I realized it.”

“Gabrielle, that wasn’t your fault.  None of this was your doing.  It was
Callisto’s...and Caesar’s...”  The wind picked up as Xena spoke, almost
making the words inaudible.  Another chill went down the warrior’s back.

Gabrielle sighed.  “I know.  But if I hadn’t been so set on emulating Eli,
Callisto wouldn’t have been able to send those dreams...and I wouldn’t have
left you, so we wouldn’t have been separated when she attacked.”  Gabrielle
shifted, trying to get further out of the wind.  “It was Callisto who sent
the dreams, wasn’t it?”

“I think so.”  Xena turned away from the bard, staring out at the sky.
Something wasn’t right...

“It doesn’t matter.”  Gabrielle snuggled down against the hard stone, a look
of pure happiness on her face.  “What matter is that we’re together again.
I’ve found my Way and we’ve proved Alti didn’t know as much about the future
as she thought she did.”  Gabrielle smiled.  “I love you, Xena.”

Xena felt herself smile back.  Her infamous sixth sense was working
overtime, but she had never been able to resist those words or the smile
that went with them.  “I love you too, Gabrielle,” she said, and the two
women gazed at each other warmly.

A strike of lightning hit a tree a few feet away.  Xena was blinded by the
flash, but she was on her feet in an instant, the chakram in her hand.  It
didn’t do any good.  Before her eyes recovered, she heard the voice she’d
been expecting and dreading.  “Dear, dear, how rude of me,” Callisto said,
caustic and unmistakable.  “I’ve interrupted yet another tender moment
between the tow of you.  Well, no matter.  I’m here, and now the fun can
begin...”

******************************************************
Part 11 by Gabby Kat
 

"fun?!  now that's rich...i'm not feeling very playful, though callisto.
sorry to disappoint," xena hissed through clenched teeth.  the blonde haired
monster clasped her hands behind her back and cocked her head to the side.

"tsk, tsk, tsk.  xena, as long as we've known each other...still no warm
feelings to throw my way?"

"oh i've got something to throw your way!"  with that xena sent her chakram
flying, knowing it would never meet its intended target.  callisto raised her
right hand and the circular blade careened back to its mistress out of
control and uncatchable.  xena snapped her head around in time to see the
chakram imbed in a boulder, just above gabrielle's forehead.  xena's eyes
widened, but her horror was dispelled by the relief that her friend was still
alive.

"callisto, leave her out of this.  it's me you've always wanted.  you know
her heart's pure and you'll gain nothing my clipping her life's thread -"

"nothing but your grief," callisto replied with evil glee.  a rage began to
swell within xena.  she remembered back to the fiery pit.  gabrielle leaping
forward to snatch hope from xena's murderous blade.  after gabrielle was
gone, callisto was the first to speak to her.  xena recognized the anger she
felt for callisto at this moment.  it was the same ball of emotions that
drove the hind's blood dagger into callisto's abdomen at dahak's alter. *you
will not hurt her...never again!*  xena charged callisto with a blind
determination that she did not realize she was capable of.  as xena closed to
within inches of callisto, callisto raised both arms and engulfed xena in an
aura of energy.  xena was instantly immobilized  although she tried to
struggle against callisto's grasp, it only made her weaker.

xena was forced to turn around so that she was looking at her friend.
gabrielle was no longer laying on her back.  the bard was sitting on her
knees with her ankles crossed beneath her.  gabrielle's hands were palm to
palm against her chest with her head tilted slightly forward, her pale lips
pressed against her finger tips.  its was slight, but xena could see
gabrielle's mouth moving.

"i still don't see why you keep her around, xena.  she knows she's about to
die...surely she knows what i'm going to do to you after i wipe her off the
face of the earth.  what does she do...she prays.  your god's don't care
little girl!!  i happen to know first hand that the olympian gods don't have
a prayer against what's coming.  you think dahak was bad..you ain't seen
nothin' yet!"

gabrielle never acknowledged callisto's words, she maintained her position
with a stillness and focus that unnerved the warrior princess and caused
callisto to lose her patience.  which became apparent as callisto tightened
her power around xena's chest and throat.  xena felt two ribs crack under the
pressure and it became increasingly difficult to breath.  xena knew she was
going to pass out and she wouldn't be able to defend gabrielle.  the feeling
of helplessness was compounded only by the lightheadedness shrouding her
senses.  as xena's consciousness began to fade she saw a blue-white glow
emanate from gabrielle.  it seemed to start from her chest and swirl around
her petite frame.  xena was unconscious before she saw gabrielle rise to her
feet.  callisto's brow furrowed as she released her hold on xena, causing the
warrior to drop to the ground.  the shock of striking the earth released a
rush of air from xena's chest and allowed her to continue breathing...albeit
unconscious breath.

callisto summoned a ball of flame and energy from the depths of her soul and
hurled it at gabrielle.  just then gabrielle opened her eyes and peered up at
callisto without moving her head.  the fireball stopped just short of the
bard.  as it hovered in front of gabrielle's face it began to spin wildly,
its glow becoming brighter and more intense.  the look on callisto's face
went from anger to perplexity to shock as the fireball exploded back toward
her.  instead of striking its maker and knocking her back a few hundred feet,
it consumed her, entombing her.

callisto pressed against the sides of the fireball, which were impenetrable
to her touch.  gabrielle walked toward callisto, raising her right hand.
callisto gave up on breaking through the walls of her prison when her eyes
met gabrielle's.  the peaceful serenity that washed gabreille's face began to
frighten callisto.  *fear...this isn't happening*  callisto began looking
around herself with frantic abandon.

"no...i'm too late.  he said if i beat you, i'd become his chosen one.  but
it's too late, you've already found - it..." the tremor in callisto's voice
never registered with gabrielle.  gabrielle's eyes met callisto's one last
time before she closed them and pressed her hand against the outside of the
fireball.

"nooooo!!!"  callisto yelled one last time before the fireball began to swell
and roar.  in an amazing blast that lit the sky, the fireball exploded,
littering the earth with a fine misting of ash.  as the ash fell to the
ground the freezing rain ceased and the skies began to clear.  gabrielle
opened her eyes to a chorus of birds who were welcoming the sunshine's life
giving rays.  the bard looked around and found her friend lying on her side
just a few feet away.  gabrielle approached xena and knelt by her side.  she
placed her hand on xena's head and stayed by her friend's side until she
awoke.

"gabrielle?  are you ok...where's -" xena whispered as she tried to sit up,
but her painful sides forcing her to lie back down.

"woah..stay where you are.  everything's okay.  you've got a couple of broken
ribs, so just stay put until we can bind your sides," gabrielle replied,
encouraging xena to lie back and rest.

"but we've got to get moving...i don't know where she went, but she'll be
back"

"no she won't," gabrielle reassured her friend, her inviting green eyes
brighter that xena had seen in a long while.  "trust me, xena...she's gone."

*****************************
The End
 




Argo's Stable     Taiko's Scrolls Of The Xenaverse