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The Secrets of the Chakram
A Xena/Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Crossover
by Purple Pen
Fall was sweeping over the land. Gabrielle wandered through the landscape aimlessly, simultaneously missing Xena and enjoying having the time to herself. Xena was off doing her annual pilgrimage to the Temple of the Fates, in honor of her brother Lyceus. Gabrielle had offered to go along, of course, but Xena refused. "Please, Gabrielle," she'd said. "This is something I have to do on my own."
"But why? I went with you last year."
The warrior had looked heavenward and muttered something under her breath. Something about "yes, and I don't want what happened then to happen again." But when Gabrielle said "What?" the warrior had only said: "This time it's different, Gabrielle. Trust me. And-- look after these while I'm gone?" To Gabrielle's tremendous surprise, Xena began shucking off her weapons... the sword, the knife from her boot top, even the breast dagger Gabrielle had acquired so long ago. And then, most shocking of all, she removed the chakram. Xena held the weapon in her two hands for a long moment before she handed it over. Gabrielle had been stunned. "You... you're trusting me with this?"
"I know you'll take good care of it." Xena sighed. "Gabrielle, please don't ask me to explain. I have to go to the temple alone this year, and I don't want to take any weapons with me. Make camp tonight wherever you find a good place; I'll be back before sunrise." She brushed a kiss over Gabrielle's lips, nodded at the chakram, said with pointed emphasis "Be...careful...with..that," and disappeared into the woods.
So Gabrielle was being careful. The sword she'd threaded through the loop on Argo's saddle, and the knives she'd placed carefully in the saddlebags, but the chakram she'd tied with a scrap of cloth to her leather belt. That way it would be right at her hip as she rambled, no further than a reassuring glance away. She looked down now, and found...
It was no longer there.
Gabrielle's heart began to race. She suddenly realized she had not felt the metal ring slap against her thigh for some time now. It must have slipped off, but where? She had covered so much land today, wandering; there was no way she'd be able to retrace her steps exactly. Gabrielle turned to examine the track behind her, hoping to see a tell-tale metallic glint, but there was nothing but smooth forest floor. Panic filled her. She'd lost it! Oh gods...Xena...
There was a chuckle behind her, masculine, deep, and very pleased with itself.
Gabrielle whirled around. Ares, God of War, was leaning against a tree. He was dressed in his usual dark leathers, and was spinning the chakram around his index finger. "Lose something?" he asked innocently.
"Ares." Gabrielle grabbed her staff off of Argo and went into her best defensive stance. "What do you want?"
"Ah ah ah." The god stopped his spinning, waved a finger at her in rebuke. "That's no way to treat an old friend, especially one who has come to do you a favor." He nodded at the chakram. "You really should be more careful with Xena's things, you know."
Gabrielle tensed. She looked into the god's twinkling eyes, suddenly came to a conclusion. "You stole it, didn't you."
Ares mimed a wound to the heart, bringing one hand to his chest. "Now you've hurt me," he said. "No, little bard, thievery is not one of my 'many skills.' You dropped it nearly a quarter mile ago. I simply picked it up an brought it back."
Gabrielle shook her head. "You never 'simply' do anything, Ares."
He chuckled, a low sound that Gabrielle found both pleasant and menacing. Although she supposed she'd rather have the God of War chuckling in her presence than doing anything else... "True. And in this case I will admit I had an ulterior motive. I've never had a chance to examine the chakram up close before. But you merely provided me with the opportunity when you lost it; I did not take it from you."
"Oh, right. That's exactly how it must have happened." Gabrielle nodded and tightened her grip on her staff. "Well, I thank you, Ares, for your kindness in looking after Xena's property. Now give it back and be on your way."
Ares smiled, as amused and unimpressed by her impudence as Xena would be by the yip of a small dog "Now, now," he said. "Don't be in such a hurry." He held up the chakram to the light, eyes gleaming with appreciation of the weapon's edge and smooth curves. "I've always known this little weapon was special, as special as Xena. It contains her essence, her soul, the way nothing else ever could. But it wasn't until just recently that I discovered how special it truly was." He tore his eyes from the chakram with an effort and raised an eyebrow at Gabrielle. "You have no idea of power it holds, do you."
"I know how powerfully Xena will use it on you if you don't give it back." Smart, Gabrielle, smart, she berated herself as soon as the words left her mouth. Talking back to the god of war. That's a really *wonderful* strategy for staying alive until sunset. Fortunately Ares just smirked-- he was obviously in a good mood today, though Gabrielle didn't want to speculate why. "Yes, you're probably right," he agreed. "But while I would relish giving Xena any reason to confront me in battle again, I'm afraid that pleasure will have to be deferred. Places to go, you know, nations..." he chuckled again, "*universes* to conquer. You mortals never appreciate just how many demands there are on a god's time. So..." He reached back and flung the chakram toward Gabrielle's feet.
Gabrielle yelped and jumped, but it just landed harmlessly a few inches from where her toes would have been, sharp edge plowing up the soil. She cautiously stooped to pick it up, one hand firmly on the staff and eyes never leaving Ares. He watched her, that annoying twinkle back in his eyes. "It'll be interesting to find out what you tell Xena about this."
"What?" Gabrielle stood, brushing off the chakram against her skirt. "What do you mean?"
He shrugged. "Well, it's an interesting dilemma, isn't it? On the one hand you really should tell her that I had my hands on her precious chakram, because I'm an untrustworthy cad and you never know what I might be up to. But if you do that, you'll have to admit that you lost it in the first place." He chuckled. "Yes, it's a very interesting dilemma. I can't wait to see how you'll decide."
So he was insulting her honesty now, was he? "Don't worry, Ares," she said heatedly. "Xena will know everything as soon as she gets back. We don't have any secrets from each other."
"Don't you?" Ares gave her a final smirk and disappeared.
Gabrielle started to shakily refasten the chakram to her belt, half infuriated
by the god and half relieved that she'd come through the encounter still
capable of breathing in and out. She tied the weapon on with a good,
solid knot and thought about Ares' final taunt: yes, it would be
difficult to tell Xena she had lost her charge, and she really didn't want
to be around the warrior when she found out that Ares had touched her beloved
weapon. But she'd tell her. Their relationship demanded no
less. Gabrielle sighed, whistled to Argo, and set about looking for
a good place to camp.
In the end, she didn't get a chance to say one thing or another about it. Xena came back to camp long after dark; Gabrielle woke up only long enough to register the warrior's soft kiss on her cheek and feel the warm length of Xena's body slip under the blanket beside her before drifting off again. In the morning she woke up to find an extra blanket tucked over her, a good fire going and a pot of water beginning to boil; ah, it was good to have her love back; she was probably off hunting something for breakfast. Gabrielle yawned and rolled over, knowing that she had another good fifteen minutes before Xena came back and demanded she get up. Her hand slipped under her neck roll and closed around the chakram, which she had placed there before going to sleep. After her confrontation with Ares, she was taking no chances.
Suddenly she heard a noise that jarred her out of her drowsy state. Her first thought was that it was some strange sort of bird; then she realized that the sound was coming from right below her ear, under the pillow. She sat up and wrenched the pillow aside; yes, the sound was coming from the chakram, a twinkling persistent chime, followed by a buzzing hum. Gabrielle frowned and bent her head closer, trying to decipher that hum; when she did she gave a yelp, and retreated rapidly across the campground. Xena chose that moment to return; Gabrielle swallowed hard and looked up at her as she strode out of the trees. "Xena," she said, clearly and distinctly. "You chakram is talking."
Xena did not react to that announcement the way Gabrielle thought she would. The bard had expected a raised eyebrow at very least, and more likely a query about what she'd eaten in the last twenty-four hours. But Xena shot across the clearing like an arrow, was on her knees and had the chakram in hand before Gabrielle could blink. In another second she was holding the weapon up the light, blue eyes staring through the ring.
Gabrielle had seen Xena do some strange things in her time, but this took the nutbread. "Xena?" she said uncertainly.
"Shhh." Xena's voice was simultaneously tense and reassuring. "Give me a minute, Gabrielle. I'll explain everything, I promise." She ran her fingers over the chakram's edge and touched first one of the abalone inlays, then another. There was a pop, and a feminine face came into view...
Inside the chakram. Staring back at Xena.
Gabrielle gasped and stepped backward. It wasn't so much the fact of the face's appearance; she'd seen enough workings of the gods for that to be downright commonplace. But the woman's appearance did startle her a bit. She would have been quite a beauty, if it wasn't for the odd laps of skin over her nose-- at first Gabrielle thought they were some horrible scar, then decided it was a birth defect. She had short dark hair, and an intricate earring dangling from just one ear. "Xena!" she exclaimed. "Thank the prophets you answered."
"I'm here, Nerys," Xena answered. "What's wrong?"
"There's been some strange..." The woman dodged as ray of light, deep red in color, sped by her cheek. There was some muffled swearing, an odd thweep sound, a distant cry, and a thump which Gabrielle instantly recognized as the sound of a body hitting the ground. (She'd heard that sound a lot during her travels with Xena.) When she came back into focus, Nerys had a sheen of sweat on her forehead. "Some strange things happening," she continued, ruefully running a hand back through her hair. "Xena, normally I wouldn't bother you, but we've picked up some odd energy readings with your temporal signature." She frowned. "I was half hoping it was you."
"No, Nerys. I haven't been to your place since...the last time we met." Xena leaned in closer. "Are you under fire?"
"Heavy," Nerys nodded. "Normally I'd say it was nothing we couldn't handle, but..."
"I'll be right there." Gabrielle coughed. Xena looked behind her, momentarily confused, then smiled slightly. "Oh. Nerys, I'll be bringing a friend. Is there someplace safe we can materialize?"
The brunette nodded determinedly. "Give me ten minutes to secure Ops, then come on through," she said. "Kira out." Her image flickered and disappeared. Xena gave the chakram a little toss in the air, hooked it at her hip, then regarded Gabrielle. "Well," she said, amusement teasing in and out of her blue eyes as she took in Gabrielle's stalwart, I-can-handle-this-really-I-can expression. "I bet you'd like to know what that was all about."
"Who, me? Of course not." Gabrielle nodded sagely. "I mean, it isn't everyday that your chakram starts talking and a woman with a strange nose magically appears inside it, but compared to some of the other things we've been through it's really not all that remarkable."
Xena was plainly trying hard to stifle a laugh. "So you're not curious at all."
"Not at all." Gabrielle smiled brightly. "I better get started packing up Argo. We are going to go help out your friend, right?"
"Yes. But we're not going on Argo."
"No. Listen, Gabrielle. We..." She stopped as the chakram began to vibrate at her side. Gabrielle looked at it, then looked at Xena, and very pointedly said nothing. Xena shook her head. "Nerys is even faster than I remembered," she said. "Gabrielle, I would love to explain everything, but there just isn't time. Just... stick close to me, okay? And try not to stare too much."
She unhooked the chakram and tossed it up in the air, where it hung a few inches above Gabrielle's head, undulating and glowing with an inborn light. Xena drew her sword and grabbed Gabrielle's hand--
And suddenly they were Somewhere Else.
It took several moments for Gabrielle's eyes to adjust. They had been standing in bright sunshine: this room was dark, and filled with so many strange objects that Gabrielle wondered if she could trust her eyes even when she could see clearly. The room was also filled with a conspicuous number of unconscious bodies, strewn here and there about the floor. "Xena?"
"It's all right, Gabrielle." Xena had arrived with her sword at the ready, anticipating trouble; at the reassuring sight of so many non-moving foes, she sheathed it and smiled broadly at the red-suited woman picking her way toward them. "Well, Nerys," she said, cheerfully clasping hands with her. "When you said secure I see you meant secure."
Kira's eyes twinkled. "It's good to see you too, Xena."
Gabrielle was busy noting that the woman's tight-fitting jumpsuit left very little to the imagination, and that her trim figure matched her face in attractiveness. "Uh, Xena?" she said, trying hard to keep the hostility out of her voice. "Would you mind introducing me to your... acquaintance?"
"Relax, Gabrielle, she's just a friend," Xena said. "We fought a battle together once." She turned to her. "Nerys, I'd like you to meet my..."
"Yes?" Gabrielle put her hands on her hips. "Your what?"
Xena looked heavenward for a second, but she went on smoothly: "My true love, Gabrielle. Gabrielle, this is Nerys. Major Kira Nerys."
"Colonel, now," Kira corrected. "I'm pleased to meet you, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle noticed that other people in the room were slowly coming out of hiding-- two men and a petite dark haired women with spots trailing across her forehead and down her neck. ("Don't stare too much, Gabrielle," Xena had said.) They were all peering cautiously at Xena and Gab as though they couldn't quite belief the shooting was over with. The sight of one of them elicited another small smile from Xena. "Chief O'Brien," she said, shaking her head. "I see that your arm healed up just fine. How are your wife and your daughter?"
"They're all right," answered the chief. He spoke with a strange lilt that Gabby couldn't quite identify, and nodded at the chakram. "I see you're still carrying that."
"Everywhere I go." Xena smiled broadly. "I've put it to very good use."
For some reason this comment made the chief uncomfortable. "I-- I bet," he said, and closed his mouth.
"Kira, O'Brien," the other man said commandingly. Gabrielle turned to look at him. He was tall, with a very deep voice and a posture that said he was used to being in charge of things. At the moment he had his arms crossed in front of his chest, and he looked at her and Xena with disapproval. "Are you going to tell me who your friend is?"
Colonel Kira immediately snapped to attention. "I'm sorry, sir," she said. "This is Xena, and her girlfriend Gabrielle. Xena, Gabrielle, this is our commanding officer, Captain Benjamin Sisko." She addressed Sisko with a lowered voice. "You may remember Xena from the report I filed on Iphled Four, Captain."
"Iphled Four?" Sisko repeated, trying to place it. Kira nodded. Suddenly his eyes widened. "Oh. Iphled Four." He looked at Xena with new respect. "Now I understand."
"Well I sure don't," said the spotted brunette. She had been hanging back listening to the conversation, but now she stepped forward, and shook first Xena's than Gabrielle's hand. Gabrielle felt relieved to be noticed; she was beginning to wonder if she'd suddenly turned invisible or something. "I'm sorry, but I can't place you at all. Did Jadzia know you and I've just forgotten? I'm Ezri, Dax's new host."
None of this made any sense to Gabrielle, but Xena appeared to understand. "No, we've never met before," she said, "But O'Brien told me about everyone on the station last time we were together. Pleased to meet you, Ezri."
"So," said Sisko, who had waited impatiently for this exchange to get over with. "I take it that you are here to help us with our little problem."
Xena nodded, immediately back in battle mode. "If I can," she said soberly. "Tell me what's been going on."
"We've been witnessing outbursts of strange behavior aboard the station," Miles said. "People having been losing control of their tempers without any provocation, and this has led to an epidemic of minor assault and property damage. Lately people have been forming into small mobs We didn't think anything of it when it was just the Klingons wrecking the furniture in Quark's..."
"After all, they're always like that," Ezri put in.
Miles glared at her and continued. "But when the vedics assaulted the congregation during a Bajoran religious service, we knew something was wrong. And then when our own security force turned against us..." He shrugged, looking around at the neatly uniformed bodies strewn about. "Well, then we knew for sure."
"I can see how that could be a clue," Xena agreed. "But why call on me?"
"We ran detailed scans of the areas where the disturbances occurred, as well as they people involved," Kira said. "We've seen a few similar occurrences, when a virus or alien influence altered peoples behavior--"
Ezri chuckled. "We certainly have." O'Brien and Sisko both glared at her, and she held up her hands in apology.
"But this time we couldn't find anything," the colonel went on. "Until, that is, Chief O'Brien ran his tricorder over the scene of each disturbance, and discovered the oddest temporal signature present at all them."
"I knew the signature rang a bell," O'Brien said. "I'd seen it before. It took me a while to remember just where, but..."
"But it was the same signature that I have, and Gabrielle has, and everyone has from our time," Xena finished for him. "Interesting."
"So we called you," Kira said. "Our theory is that someone, or something, has slipped through the portal from your time to ours. We were hoping you could tell us what."
"I see." Xena was quiet for a moment, a thoughtful look on her face. "No. It can't be." She looked up to see everyone's eyes on her, shook her head and explained. "These... disturbances. They sound like the workings of a friend of mine. But there's no way he could have found his way here. I'm sorry."
Gabrielle froze. "Oh no," she said, horror plain on her face. "Xena, if you're talking about Ares, I think it is possible. I was going to tell you..."
Five pairs of eyes turned to look at her. Only Xena's were compassionate. "Tell me what, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle swallowed hard. "That Ares borrowed your chakram yesterday," she confessed. "I-- I lost it, or Ares stole it, and then he gave it back. He said something about wanting the chance to discover its secret power." Gabrielle looked at her love. "I really was going to tell you, Xena, the first chance I got, but I was asleep when you got back to camp, and then..." She waved her hand vaguely around at the chakram, the room, and the strange people staring at her.
Xena nodded. "It's all right, Gabrielle. I understand," she said, and then addressed the rest of the assembly with one eyebrow raised. "Well. I guess it's not as impossible as I thought."
"Wait a minute," said Sisko suspiciously. "Ares. You can't mean... the ancient Greek god of war."
Xena bristled a little at his tone, but she held it in check. "That's exactly who I mean."
"But the Greek gods are mere myths. They can't possibly be real."
Gabrielle snorted as she envisioned Aphrodite's reaction to being called a "mere myth." Colonel Kira, seeing that Xena was on the verge of saying something biting, hurriedly stepped in. "Captain," she said quietly, "the wormhole aliens were just Bajoran mythology until a few years ago."
"Yes, Captain." O'Brien nodded. "And don't forget, James T. Kirk once met an entity claiming to be the god Apollo. It's possible that that this Ares is a similar being." He looked at Xena. "And if that's true, we ought to be able to rig a way to catch him."
"Ares is tricky," Xena said. "It's not going to be easy."
"Well, something must be done," Sisko said, abandoning his objections. "I will not have my own security force continue to turn against me." He nodded curtly at Xena. "Miss..."
She smiled, a slow parting of lips over shiny white teeth that had a way of seriously discomfiting her opponents. Captain Sisko was no exception. "Just 'Xena', Captain."
"Ah. Yes. Well then, uh Xena, I'd like you to work with Colonel Kira and Chief O'Brien. Find out if it really is this...friend... of yours who is causing all the trouble, and if so find a way to return him to his proper time and place." He nodded at the colonel. "You might want to get Constable Odo in on this as well."
"Aye, sir." A door slid open; a team of neatly uniformed people stepped out, and started placing the wounded on stretchers. A few minutes later even more people arrived, replacing the fallen at their workstations. Sisko straightened his shirt. "Well, the excitement appears to be over, at least for the moment," he said. "Carry on, Colonel, Chief."
"Aye sir." Sisko turned on his heel, went up a short flight of
stairs, and disappeared behind another pair of doors.
Ten minutes later Gabrielle was having her first ride in a turbolift. When she first felt the floor jerk out from under her, she'd gulped hard-- the motion was unsettling, and Gabrielle's stomach had never been the strongest of organs. But it had settled down. And anyway, she had plenty of other things to worry about O'Brien had suggested that he and Xena go down to one of the science labs, and then sighed deeply. "I think this is going to take a while."
"Right." Xena turned to the Colonel. "Colonel, are there any spare rooms Gabrielle can stay in?"
"What?" Gabrielle couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Now you're trying to get rid of me?"
The warrior sighed. "Gabrielle, if I remember what the Chief means by 'a while', this could take all day. You'll be bored. Trust me."
Gabrielle had wanted to argue, but Xena gave her one of her impressive repertoire of Looks, and she subsided. "All right," she said. "But you've got to promise come get me if anything exciting happens."
Xena shook her head with a smile. "I promise."
Kira stepped forward. "I'll be glad to show you to your quarters, Gabrielle," she said, and shot a pointed glance at Xena and O'Brien. "*You* two can get to work."
"We'll collect Odo on the way," O'Brien said. Xena gave Gabrielle a quick kiss, and she and O'Brien left. The kiss had made Gabrielle feel a little better, but not much-- too many strange things had happened. She watched her beloved sink away into the floor with a sinking sensation herself. Now she was riding in the same contraption-- turbolift, she reminded herself-- the friendly but somehow intimidating colonel at her side. "Colonel?" she said, gathering her courage. "Would you mind answering a few questions for me?"
Kira nodded smartly. "Of course, Gabrielle."
"Where in Tartarus are we?"
Kira looked astonished. "In a turbo lift," she said slowly, thinking about how she had explained this very thing less than two minutes ago.
"No! I knew that," Gabrielle said quickly. "I meant this-- this station. Where is it?
"Ah." Kira was silent for a moment, thinking back to the time when Xena had asked her a similar question, almost seven years ago. It hadn't been any easier answering it then. "Well..." she began and proceeded to do her best. The time travel part was easy-- Gabrielle had heard Autolycus and Iolaus's stories about the Chronos stone, although she had a little trouble comprehending just how many years she had leapt. The "Deep Space" part was trickier, but Gabrielle had spent enough time looking at the stars that she grasped that after just a little explanation. Kira talked until the turbo lift halted; the doors opened on a corridor, and the pair walked along it until they reached Gabrielle's new quarters. Kira punched a code into the door and it opened. "Here you are, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle looked inside. Well, she had to admit she didn't think much of the decorator. But she wasn't going to say that out loud. "It's lovely, Colonel. I'm sure Xena and I will be comfortable here."
"Good." Kira gave Gabrielle a quick tour of the rooms technological marvels-- the replicator, basic computer functions, how to turn the lights on and off, etc. Gabrielle nodded and smiled politely, but in truth she only understood about one word out of four. "Oh, Colonel?" she interrupted as Kira was about to leave. "Do you think you could make arrangements for a tub and hot water to be brought? Xena and I would really appreciate a bath later."
Kira looked apologetic. "Oh, I'm sorry! I should have shown you where the sonic shower was." She led Gabrielle through a side door to a small mirrored room. "Here. All you have to do is say "Sonic Shower On", stand in front of this panel for five minutes, and you'll be clean. You can put your clothes in this bin, and they'll be clean too by the time you finish."
Gabrielle was staring at the shower in frank dismay. "What, no hot water?"
The colonel shook her head.
"No towels? No soap?"
Once again Kira shook her head. "Is something wrong?"
"Oh. Not at all." Gabrielle snapped out of her funk. "I'm sure this sonic rain thingy will be just fine. Thanks for showing it to me, Colonel." Kira nodded and left the apartment. As the door whistled shut behind her, the bard shook her head in amazement. "Twenty-forth century, twenty-forth smentury," she muttered. "Miracles everywhere you look, but they're too primitive to supply a good bathtub. Xena and I won't stay here a moment longer than we have to..."
Far away in a different corner of the station, Xena stood alone in the science lab, gazing out a porthole lost in thought. It had taken several hours of hard work, brainstorming and arguing and testing, but they had come up with a plan. Constable Odo, who would have been much more suspicious of her if it hadn't been for Kira's whole hearted endorsement, had brought the incident reports, and Xena had instantly known that Ares was responsible. The hard part was figuring out what to do about it. Opening up a portal that would take the god back to his proper time was easy; getting him to go through it was not. But they'd worked it out, and Xena was certain the plan would work.
They'd decided not put it into action until the next morning, when everyone was fresh. Kira, Odo, and O'Brien had gone off to Quark's to relax; they'd invited her, but she'd turned them down, wanting some time to think before she sought out Gabrielle. It was so strange being here, among these people again: aboard a station she had never thought to see, although many details of it were imprinted on her mind from the homesick ramblings of a dying man. Xena sighed. Gabrielle, she knew, was going to want to know every detail of the story. She let her mind role back...
TO BE CONTINUED