REINCARNATION
by Daniel Stevens

DISCLAIMER:  The more familiar characters in this story are property of Renaissance Pictures, Universal/MCA, and Studios USA.  The future portrayed in the TV Series 'Babylon 5' and 'Crusade' is property of Babylonian Productions and AOL-Time-Warner.  The monster wave in this story is borrowed from the movie 'The Perfect Storm', also property of AOL-Time-Warner.  No copyright infringement is intended.

SYNOPSIS:  This is a rather different take on at least partially correcting the mistake made in 'FIN Pt. 2'.  Could be classified as 'semi-uber'.

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PART ONE

Several weeks have passed since the legendary Warrior Princess Xena had died as she had lived - in battle, dealing death to her foes.  The Battling Bard Gabrielle, now with a katana strapped to her back, and the chakram hanging from her hip, in addition to her sais, is still making the sea journey home.  Or more precisely, to Egypt.  Currently she is in her cabin, below the aft castle of the ship.  The ship is somewhere off India.

She wonders if her old flame Prince Kashta is still alive in Ethiopia, or failing that, any of his relatives.  Perhaps he had married again after all, and his heir now rules Soba in his place.  Well, in case any such heir does now rule, Gabrielle decides, it would be best to leave the past buried in the past.  She would only go to Soba if asked.

The Bard now goes topside, to have another look.  Most of the crew either treat her with the utmost respect, or else avoid her, out of almost superstitious dread.  The sky is an uncommonly clear blue, the sea like a millpond.  There is only a very slight breeze to even partially break the muggy tropical heat.  To the east, she sees the slightest hint of clouds.  Gabrielle goes up to the captain of the ship.

"Captain, is that what I think it is?", pointing to the eastern horizon.  The captain looks, shading his eyes from the sun to get a better view.

After a moment, "A typhoon?  I'm afraid so."

"What chance of outrunning it?"

"Not in this calm, and we're too far from land to make port before it strikes anyway."  A moment later, "It would appear that our fate is in the hands of Varuna now."

Varuna.  Once, legend has it, the Indian version of Zeus, but now India's Poseidon instead.  And as merciless as always.  This is 'not' good!  Still, one has to hope for the best.

'That's right, Gabrielle.  Even now, we need to hope for the best, even as we prepare for the worst.'

"I know, Xena."

With that word of encouragement from Xena's spirit, Gabrielle gets to work helping the crew batten everything down before the typhoon strikes.

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Some hours later, the sky has gone from bright blue to dark gray, and the wind is picking up.  Gabrielle is up in the crow's nest, doing what she can to help guide the ship to safety.  She has tied herself into place with two lines of rope, lest she be blown overboard, and into the increasingly rough seas.

She looks down, to see the captain trying to yell something up to her.  However, she is already unable to make out what he is trying to tell her, over the gale force winds blowing through the rigging, and the waves crashing against the hull.  Realizing that she can do no more good up there, the Bard reluctantly climbs down.

"Yes, Captain?!"

"I was calling for you to come down!  You nor anyone else can do us any more good up there!"  Both are yelling in order to be heard, even at close range.  Just as both are careful to tie themselves into place.  And from the looks of things, it's only going to get worse!

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Nightfall has brought even worse conditions.  If Gabrielle had not seen Posiedon die at Xena's hands three years ago, she'd think that he was pouring out his wrath on her personally.  It's all the crew can do to keep the ship afloat, much less make any headway.  The roar of the wind has become a banshee's shriek, and the waves are as tall as the ship's main mast, while the rain is coming down in sheets the likes of which the Bard had never seen before.  Still, she's doing her part, making sure everything is still secured to the deck, and below decks, as well.

Then, through the gloom and the rain, they see it!  A monster wave, off to starboard, far taller than the ship is long, and headed right for them.  Gabrielle just barely has time to remember the tsunami that hit a certain prison ship so long ago, flipping it over.  She and Xena had been aboard that ship due to Autolycus, and had almost died then.  Then, the wave hits!  The last thing the Bard is aware of is the ship capsizing, as the hull is ripped apart by the sheer force of the wave.

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Gabrielle comes to, and looks herself over.  Once more, she is clad in all white, and sitting on a pinnacle.  Once more, Xena is with her, similarly clad.  She turn to Xena.

"I'm dead."  Not a question.  A statement of fact.

"Afraid so, Gabrielle."

After a moment, "At least we're together again."

"Gabrielle, we never were, and never will be, truly apart.  As I told you once before, even in death, I will *never* leave you."

"Nor I, you, Xena."

With that, the two friends and soulmates share a warm embrace, for the first time since Japan.  Then, Gabrielle speaks again.

"Xena, may the Fates grant that we *never* run into Akemi again!"

The Warrior, looking down into the eyes of the Bard, can see clearly that Gabrielle blames Akemi solely and entirely for the whole mess.

"I know."

About that time, they look up, to see the angels coming for them again.  Just as they had before, so long before.

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PART TWO

Not to worry.  Our soulmates would come back again many times, and always they would find each other, and be together.  As it had been, in fact, *long* before they had been together in the Classical World *as* Xena and Gabrielle.  For their story is truly timeless and ageless.  Let us now look in on one of their subsequent incarnations, shall we?

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January 2266 (Earth Standard Calendar)

Aboard the Earth Alliance Star Destroyer *Hercules*, which is currently orbiting the planet Mars, in the Captain's Ready Room.  The Captain is sitting at her desk, studying the personnel file of one of the new arrivals on board.  A tall, powerfully built woman, she has shoulder length hair the color of deep space itself, which is currently back into a pigtail, as she is on duty.  Her striking blue eyes are completely focused on reading over the file on her terminal, as she takes a sip of her herbal tea.

'This is a most interesting young woman.  A fully trained physician, with a degree in xenobiology from the old Psi Corps Academy in Geneva.  Psi Corps rating P11.  A year's training on Minbar.  All in all, someone definitely well worth having on board, where we are going.'

The Captain suspends her terminal, and engages her comlink.

"Send Lieutenant Muir in, please."

She hears, "Yes, Ma'am.", from the link.  Once more, she looks around her Ready Room.  The decor speaks volumes about her personality.  Spare, even Spartan, yet feminine.

A moment later, the requested person enters, marching up to the Captain's desk, coming to attention, and saluting.  As she returns the salute, the Captain quickly looks her over.  Average height.  Quite slender, but obviously in excellent physical shape.  Short reddish-blonde hair.  Greenish-gray eyes.  A very youthful appearance for such a record of accomplishment.  Only her Psi Emblem and Ranger Pin stand out on an otherwise flawless Earth Force uniform.  Her military bearing is equally flawless.  And yet, she seems somehow familiar.

"At ease, Lieutenant.   Please have a seat."  Then, "Would you like some tea?", as the Captain goes over to pour another cup from the tea service she keeps on a side counter in her Ready Room.

"Yes, Ma'am, Captain..."

"Ryan.  Xena Ryan.  Here it is.", as the Captain resumes her seat, giving the Lieutenant her tea.

"Thanks, Captain Ryan."

"You're welcome."  Then, "I must say that I admire your restraint."

"Captain, as I'm sure you well know, for me to scan you even for your name without your consent would have been-"

"A serious violation of the new regulations for telepaths."

"And since strict adherence to those regs is the only thing preventing the creation of a new Psi Corps, I'm not about to chance messing up in the least."  A moment later, "By the way, this tea is great!"

"Thanks, Lieutenant, but I do have one question.  With a file like yours, you could get any posting you want.  Why an expedition that may be out on the Deep Range for as long as two Standard Years, or longer?"

"Captain, my kid sister Lila may be happy staying on Mars, but I want to see what's out there."

"That's all I needed to know.  Welcome aboard, Lieutenant.  Your primary duties will be as our new Chief Medical Officer."

"Very good, Captain."

"One other thing. Our first stop will be a four day layover at Babylon 5.  Please feel free to call me 'Xena' while we're there, and off duty."

"Only if you call me 'Gabrielle', Captain."

"Agreed."  Captain Ryan smiles warmly at the new Doctor.  "Dismissed."

Watching Lieutenant Gabrielle Muir depart her Ready Room, Captain Xena Ryan can't shake the feeling of having seen her numerous times.  The feeling that, somehow, they belong together.

(*AND  SO  IT  BEGINS...*)

Taiko's Scrolls of the Xenaverse