The Secrets of the Chakram, Part Three
A Xena/DS9 crossover
by Purple Pen
For Gabrielle, the Promenade was an experience. She'd thought she'd seen some strange things in her time, and several of the beings they'd met walking through the halls made her stop and stare, but that was nothing to the multi-specie crowds in the Promenade. A ship was due to go through the wormhole; Nog and Jake let her to a viewpoint, and as the beautiful flower flared against the stars and blackness of space, her mouth dropped open at its radiance. Later, as they sat at a table in Quark's, she shook her head, looking out at the crowd. "I'd love to make a story out of this," she said, "but no one would ever believe it."
Jake perked up. "You're a writer?"
"Well, uh, yes," Gabrielle said, slightly taken aback from his reaction. "Sort of in my spare time. When I'm not fighting warlords with Xena."
"That's great!" Jake enthused. "I'm a writer too."
"Oh, really?" Gabrielle nodded, wondering why on earth Jake was acting so excited. "That's, uh, really great."
"I think so. So what do you like to write?"
Nog was not pleased by the way the conversation was turning. "Jake," he said warningly.
Jake waved him off. "You know, it's possible some of your work has survived to the present," he told Gabrielle, and when Nog snorted he shrugged. "Well, it is. After all, people still read Sophicles, and he couldn't have been too far off from Gabrielle's time."
"Sophicles?" Now Gabrielle perked up. "You've read his work?"
"Have I! Mrs. O'Brien required it when she was teaching school here."
"Really? Which is your fav..." Gabrielle was interrupted by the Ferengi, who spoke up loudly. "You know, Jake," he said, "I think it really is possible that Gabrielle's writing might have survived. Why don't you check on it? There's a public access console right outside."
"Great idea." Jake smiled at Nog, then smiled even wider at Gabrielle. "I'll be right back."
Gabrielle thought that Nog would start up a conversation when Jake left, but he seemed perfectly content to just smile at her, so they sat there in silence, Gabrielle uncomfortably and Nog a little less so. She was actually relieved when Jake came back, looking downcast. "Well, I only found one reference to 'Gabrielle, the Bard of Potedia'," he said in disappointment. "Apparently some scrolls written by someone of that name were found in the early 1940s, by two archeologists named Covington and Pappas, but they were universally condemned as a hoax. There was a successful television show based on them, and later an early AR scenario, but none of the originals survived. I'm sorry, Gabrielle."
"Oh, hey, that's okay," she said cheerfully. "It's not like I'm famous or anything."
"How do you know?" Nog spoke up. "You haven't lived through your whole life yet. You might have been the most famous writer of you era."
"Yeah! Don't sell yourself short." Jake shrugged apologetically. "It's too bad I couldn't find anything, though. I really wanted to read your stuff."
"Maybe she brought something with her," Nog said helpfully.
Gabrielle shook her head. "No," she said. "Xena and I left in too much of a hurry for me to pack." She looked around at the bar full of people-- or whatever they were-- and suddenly an idea struck. "Hey. This is a bar, isn't it."
Nog and Jake looked at each other. "Um, yeah," Jake said.
"Great." Gabrielle sat back in satisfaction, her green eyes sparkling. "I've often told my stories in the bars back home. It always helps to have an extra dinar or two." She turned to Jake. "If you really do want to hear my stories, I mean."
"Of course I do," Jake said. "But--"
"But nobody ever tells stories here," Nog finished. "They play Dabo and they use the holosuites, but... no stories."
"Then I'll be the first." Gabrielle stood and went to the bottom of the stairs, coughing gently until she had the whole bar's attention. She refused to be intimidated by the alien faces looking her way, telling herself that this was no different from any of the other bars she'd told stories in. In fact, the clientele was probably a step or two above-- they certainly smelled better. She took a deep breath and began. "I sing a song of Xena, and the journeys that we've shared..."
Xena's hand traced the weapon at her side. She had never tried to make use of the chakram's time travel abilities-- something deep inside had always prevented her, even when greed had overtaken her good sense. She had long suspected that the chakram's makers had built some kind of mind control device into it, preventing the bearer from ever abusing its power. Right after she'd returned to her proper time, she'd started making changes: reinstating the long abandoned code of never killing women or children, for example, and using her army to make small, well timed attacks to minimize casualties, instead of going for an all out blood bath. She'd fought against it, but by the time of her confrontation with Hercules, the changes were well under way: the chakram was molding her into a leader instead of an animal, even when she used it to kill. It had been, and still was, a difficult transformation to make. But there was no way she'd ever go back.
Ares, of course, would be immune to the effect. Xena got to her feet. She'd spent enough time woolgathering. Now she should find Gabrielle, and start preparing for tomorrow's battle. The lab door whistled shut behind her after she strode purposefully through it.
When she got to their quarters, she was dismayed to find the bard gone; after the station's computer told her "Gabrielle of Potedia" was in Quark's bar the apprehension increased. How would the station folk take to her friend, and vice versa? Once she got there, however, she knew her doubts were foundless. Gabrielle had finished her tales and was sitting at a table, surrounded by a group of happy people. Xena shook her head softly-- she should've know that the bard would overcome-- and drew closer.
"I don't believe it," Julian was saying. "You two have met Julius Caesar, Lao Tzu, Boadicea, David and Goliath, Homer and Cleopatra? That's impossible!"
"Well, I never actually met Lao Tzu," Gabrielle corrected. "That was Xena. Before my time..."
"Yes, but all of these people... they're from such different eras! You'd have to travel around inside your own personal time warp to know all of them. I can't believe that."
"I can," Miles interjected, taking a swig of ale. "The chakram really took a beating in that last skirmish with the Cardassians. Wouldn't surprise me at all if its time travel apparatus misfires now and then."
"Every time I throw the damn thing," a deep voice agreed at his shoulder. "Fortunately it seems to reset itself whenever I get near Amphipolis, Miles, or Gabrielle and I would never be able to go home again."
"Xena!" Gabrielle stood up and gave her beloved a squeeze, then gazed at her rebukingly. "Xena, do you mean we've been time traveling during all of our journeys?"
"Umm..." Xena thought for a minute, then decided to go with the truth. "Yes." She looked at Gabrielle apprehensively, wondering how she'd take it, but apparently the bard's shock threshold had been reached. She just sighed, let go of Xena's waist and slid back into her chair, taking a sip of her drink. "No wonder my scrolls were classified as a hoax."
Julian was still looking at the chakram. "Okay, maybe I can believe the time travel," he said. "But not that you can use that thing as a weapon. It's so small. And you can only use it once-- once you throw it, you can't get it back."
Gabrielle stiffened, looking at Xena. Xena reached across the table to nonchalantly take a sip of Gabrielle's drink, and with her other hand she threw the chakram from under the table. It ricocheted off a Dabo table, the bar, the stairway banister, and a tray Quark was carrying before Xena snagged it out of the air right before it would have hit the skeptical doctor. Julian swallowed hard. "Uh, forget what I just said..."
O'Brien snickered. "I'm glad you set it to bounce instead of slice before you threw," he said, and Xena smiled and nodded.
"Bounce?" Gabrielle asked. "Slice?"
"Yeah." Miles looked at her curiously. "What, didn't you notice? There's a hidden switch that rearranges the atoms at the edge of the blade. Press once, and it's razor sharp; press twice and it's blunt again."
"Uh-huh." Gabrielle's eyes widened. She'd always wondered why the chakram could cut through swords and rope, and also knock out a thug without breaking the skin-- now she knew. She reached across the table and took her drink back from Xena.
"Hey, Worf!" Ezri called out. The big Klingon was coming down the stairs, just finished with bat'leth practice in the holosuite. "Come meet Xena and Gabrielle." Word inclined his head and made his way over. "Worf here is also a master of bladed combat," Ezri said to Xena when he arrived. "You two might have some things in common."
"Really?" Xena looked up at the warrior. "Is that true, Worf?"
"I train regularly with several Klingon weapons, it is true," Worf said. "In fact I have just finished a practice session in the holosuite with our most honored, the bat'leth." He swung his bat'leth onto the table. Gabrielle jumped at the sudden presentation of so many menacing points and sharp edges, but Xena remained nonplused. She tested the edge with one finger, then, after asking Worf's permission, stood and took a few practice swings, handling the large weapon with remarkable ease. "Nice," she commented tersely, after Julian's and Miles' mouths dropped open and even Worf raised an eyebrow in grudging respect. "A bit heavy for everyday use, though."
Worf took his bat'leth back. "Possibly," he agreed. "For *you*."
Xena looked like she might be offended, then she took another look at the breadth of the Klingon's shoulders and arms and broke into a low chuckle. "Yes, for me," she agreed "Can I buy you a drink, Commander?"
Worf inclined his head. "It would be my honor," he said, and sat down. Ezri seemed even more impressed by this than by Xena's bat'leth wielding. "Whoa," she said in an undertone to Gabrielle. "He only accepts drinks from people he really likes."
"That is not true, Ezri," Worf corrected her. "I am always pleased to drink with a fellow warrior." A Ferengi waiter came by with his prune juice, which he raised to Xena in salute before drinking. She returned the tribute, and all the Starfleet people gathered 'round the table got even more impressed. Worf did not apply the title of "warrior" lightly. Yes, this woman definitely had something....
Julian coughed and changed the subject. "So. Have you two figured out a solution to our problem?"
Everybody pricked up their ears, including Gabrielle. "With Colonel Kira's help-- yes, we think we did," answered Xena. She looked at Miles who nodded his affirmative. "Miles has figured out a special containment field. It should trap Ares long enough for us to get him back to his proper time."
"And how are you going to get him into the containment field?"
"You can leave that to me." Xena's voice was one hundred percent self confident. Everybody at the table sat back, reassured-- everyone except Gabrielle, who knew that Xena being confident didn't necessarily mean Xena being right. "Xena?" she asked apprehensively. "How are you going to find Ares? He might not even be on the station anymore-- Ezri was telling me how the emotional disturbances have stopped."
If anyone else had questioned her, Xena would have frozen them, but with Gabrielle she was kind. "It's easy, Gabrielle," she said patiently. "All I have to do is call his name."
Julian stared at the dark woman. "You mean... the god of war will just come if you call him?"
"We have a bond." Xena turned expressionless eyes on him, and the doctor shrunk back. Well, *he* wasn't going to deny it.
"But-- even if we get Ares back to our own time, how will we make sure he stays there?" Gabrielle continued. "He's a god. It's not like you can keep the chakram out of his hands forever."
"Miles and I have done some fine-tuning of the chakram's controls. Nobody besides me will ever be able to use its power again." Xena shook her head. "It's all going to be okay, Gabrielle. I promise."
"It will be a glorious battle," Word said. "I look forward to buying you blood wine to celebrate your victory."
"Thank you Worf, but if all goes well Gabrielle and I will be returning home at the same time as Ares. It doesn't make sense to open more than one portal." Xena grabbed the bard's glass again and tossed back the last of her ale, then stood up. "And speaking of leaving-- I think Gabrielle and I are going to have an early night. It will be a hard day tomorrow. Come, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle looked up, confused. "Leave?" she said. "But I was just..." Xena rolled her eyes and glanced at her pointedly; the bard blushed and quickly stood, brushing down her skirt. "Oh. Yes, we really must get.... rested. Goodnight, everyone." They left, the noble warrior striding boldly and the bard hurrying to catch up.
Ezri smiled after them. "Don't they make a cute couple?"
Miles sighed. "Let's hope they make an effective one," he said.
Bright and early the station folk assembled in the main court of the Promenade, lining up just across from the Bajoran temple. Xena gave Gabrielle a hug and stepped away from Nerys, Miles, Worf and all the rest-- she had already told everyone to stay out of her way. Miles was ready with the controls that would snap the containment field into being, but that was all the assistance she would allow. This was her fight, between her and Ares alone.
One word, that was all it took. One word to begin this, and hopefully end it too. She drew up her strength from deep inside herself, and whispered the name. It danced across the promenade under its volition, causing a chill to run down the spines of all who heard it. "Ares..."
There was a chuckle, an evil, malevolent laugh. The station people gasped and jumped back. The god was leaning nonchalantly against the entrance to the Bajoran temple. "Xena," Ares said, his eyes sparkling as he raked them over Xena's body. "Tell me this means what I think it means?"
Her reply was measured and slow. "What do you think it means?"
"You've decided to join with me at last." Ares stood, practically glowing with self congratulation. "I knew it. I knew if I got you away from the old world, into a new, I could return you to your old self. I knew you couldn't fail to see the possibilities. This is a wonderful place, Xena-- such opportunities for the two of us, with none of those silly ghosts or friends of yours to hold you back. You can have a fresh start, Xena, a glorious new beginning. Join with me." He held out his hand.
The warrior stood stock still, and for a moment, just a moment, Gabrielle felt a frizon of fear. But then Xena shook her head. "I'm sorry to disappoint you," she said dryly. "But that's not what I had in mind. I'm here to send you back, Ares. To fight you if I must."
The god regarded her. "Oh, well, that's good too," he said with a shrug. "But you're overestimating yourself if you think you can just send me back, Xena. I'm not about to leave."
Xena drew her sword and advanced, smacking the flat of the blade against the palm of her hand. "You don't belong here, Ares."
Ares spread his arms wide and raised his head to the ceiling. "Are you kidding?" he asked incredulously. "This universe was MADE for a god of war! There's bloodlust and battle fever here unparalleled. Oh, those Cardassians, Klingons, and Romulans... I've never tasted such violence, such desire for gore. Even your stodgy Federation joins in the lust for power. And those Jem'Hadar people... oh, I could really *do* something with them. My warlords and generals back home are nothing in comparison." His teeth shone feraly in the light and he planted his feet firmly against the metal decking. "No, Xena. I'm not going back."
Xena advanced further. "I'm afraid you're going to have to."
Ares' eyes gleamed. "Make me."
Xena swung her sword to the ready position. "With pleasure," she said, and fell on him.
The station folk had never seen such a battle before. Xena and Ares traded blows faster than any eye could follow, their bodies moving in a blur. At one point, a mighty kick send Ares reeling-- he flew backwards across the promenade, caught himself and vaulted to the upper level. Xena gave her war cry and followed. The fight continued, until she forced him back to the ground. Gabrielle watched, so engrossed that she didn't notice Jake approaching until he was right beside her. Then she felt him smack her across the face.
Gabrielle cried out and fell back. She looked into Jake's eyes-- dark and dead-- and suddenly knew what was happening. Ares had taken over his mind. She gripped her staff and fought him off, felling him neatly with a few strokes, and braced herself for a rush from O'Brien. "Xena!"
"Leave them out of this, Ares!" Xena cried.
Ares was sweating heavily, blood trickling from a cut on his chin. "What's the matter, Xena?" he spat. "Can't handle the distraction?"
She screamed and rushed at him again. Gabrielle would just have to fend for herself.
Fortunately it was just the Deep Space Nine humans who were affected. Later O'Brien would speculate this was because of the differences in their brain structures, but at that moment all that mattered was that Gabrielle rapidly found herself backed up by Nerys, Odo, Ezri and a very surprised Worf. "Don't hurt them!" she yelled. "They don't know what they're doing!" Worf nodded, pulled the punch that was about to land on the elder Sisko, and grabbed the Captain's collar instead. He held him immobile out in front of him.
"The containment field!" Kira cried. She ran to the console the affected O'Brien was supposed to operate. Xena was pushing Ares hard, herding him down the promenade-- in another second he would be out of range. She touched a key and the field snapped into being.
Ares froze, suddenly unable to move. He struggled in vain. "NOOOOOOO!"
And Xena, coming to a halt with her heart pounding in her chest, looked
on in satisfaction.
It didn't take long for them to say their good-byes. Xena threw the chakram at Ares-- he winced as it came toward him, but it stopped short and began to do its distortion-and-expansion time-portal-opening thing. Nog and Jake came to Gabrielle's side. "It was good to meet you," Nog said, looking downcast.
"Yeah." Jake rubbed his bruised calf and smiled. "Even if you do wield a pretty mean staff."
Gabrielle laughed. "It comes in handy, where I come from," she said. "Maybe you can find a holosuite program to teach you the basics."
Meanwhile, Worf had set Captain Sisko down after the captain had brusquely told him that that was enough. "Well, Xena," he told her. "I see you were... effective."
"Thank you, Captain." Xena turned to Miles and Nerys. "It's good-bye again," she said, a touch wistfully.
"You're always welcome," Kira said. "Even when we don't need you to save us from evil."
"You could stick around, you know," Julian spoke up. "We could use you against the Dominion. And I'm sure Miles' family would love to meet you."
"Yeah," O'Brien agreed. "Except Molly would start doing backflips off the furniture and throwing dinner plates around like the chakram."
Xena laughed and shook her head. "Thank you, but no. Gabrielle and I must be going back." She clasped hands with everyone. "Gabrielle?"
"Ready!" The bard took a running leap and pole vaulted into the chakram. Xena followed her, snagging Ares out of the containment field as she went.
The portal disappeared.
After the dim light aboard the station, the bright sunshine of Ancient Greece dazzled Gabrielle's eyes. She popped into existence a few feet above where her bedroll was still stretched out, did a somersault over the ground and got to her feet beside Argo, who gave her one look and returned to her breakfast. Apparently having bards miraculously pop out of midair and come tumbling toward her was not cause for much concern. She continued munching grass placidly.
There was a popping noise and Xena appeared, landing gracefully on her feet. Her hand let go of the ear of the god of war, who fell lengthwise on the ground with a grunt. "Ouch!" he said, rubbing the appendage ruefully. "Why couldn't you couldn't have grabbed somewhere more pleasant?"
Xena raised an eyebrow innocently. "It was pleasant for me."
"It's what you deserved," Gabrielle told the god. "Trying to take over another whole universe like that, as if you didn't make enough trouble here. Shame on you."
Ares shot her a withering stare but quickly turned his attention back to Xena. Despite his less than imposing position, sprawled on the ground, he managed to look menacing. "So you got me back," he said. "Well, dear Xena, I applaud the effort, but I'm afraid you wasted your time. I'm going back. Now." He stretched out his hand for the chakram. Xena jumped and reached for it, but was a fraction of a second too late. The chakram jumped off its hook and flew to him.
Ares smiled broadly. He quickly touched the inlays in a cryptic pattern, then stood. "It's been fun," he started to say, the hesitated as a voice spoke. "What was that?"
"It's the chakram," Gabrielle said. "It does that."
The voice spoke louder, feminine and stilted. "Please stand by for security verification."
"What?!? Ares held the chakram up to the light. Thus he was in the ideal position to get the full benefit of the infrared beam that shortly emerged from the circle, stabbing directly into his left eye. Ares cursed and stumbled back, but didn't let go. "Verification failed," said the chakram. "Initiating defensive measures level one." Suddenly the chakram became very slippery in Ares' hand, too slippery to hold on to. It tumbled to the ground, slicing his finger as it went.
Ares swore some more. His hand was healed instantly, but it still annoyed him. He glared at Xena accusingly. "What was that?"
"A little 24th century gizmo, known as a "retinal scan'," Xena said. She reclaimed her property-- no problems with slipperiness in her hands-- and placed in on its hook. "Chief O'Brien rigged it for me. Nobody but me will ever be able to use the chakram's special abilities again." She shook her head at the god in amusement. "Sorry Ares, but I know you too well. You've been out-schemed."
Slowly, Ares began to smile. "So I see," he said. "I'll keep trying, you know. That universe is much too much fun to give up on."
She sighed. "Go ahead and try, Ares. But you'll fail."
"Hmmm." The god crossed his arms in front of him. "We shall see." With a flash of light, he disappeared.
"Whoa." Gabrielle heaved a huge sigh of relief. "Is he really gone?"
"For now." Xena sighed again and shrugged her shoulders. She dropped to her knees and started rolling up the bedroll. "Come on, Gabrielle, help me break camp. It's time we were moving on."
"Nu-uh." Gabrielle shook her head. "Now I yell at you."
"What?" Xena craned her head to look at her. "Yell at me? For what?"
"Think about it, Xena." Gabrielle placed her hands on her hips. "Three years we've been together, and you tell me nothing about the chakram or that other place. Nothing, nada, zip. Don't you think you owe me an explanation?"
Xena thought. "Well," she said after a moment, "if I'd told you, would you have believed me? Or would you have thought my mind had snapped and left me with the Sisters of Gaia for safe keeping?"
The bard considered this. "Probably that second one," she admitted, and smiled brightly. "Okay. I'll forgive you... as long as you do one thing."
"Oh? What's that?"
Gabrielle dropped to her knees, eagerness plain. "Show me what else the chakram can do?"
Xena shrugged. "All right. I guess there is one thing you should know about. There's a kind of projecting universal translater built into it. It makes it seem like everyone within a hundred foot radius is speaking the same language."
"So that's why everyone we meet speaks Greek. Or.. wait a minute. What about The Horde?"
"Not even the most sophisticated technology works *every* time, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle nodded. "I guess so. Okay. What else?"
Xena frowned. "I think that's everything. Time travel, variable blade, universal translation..." Suddenly she smirked. "Oh. There is one thing..." She whispered in the bard's ear.
Gabrielle turned a fetching shade of crimson, then pulled away and laughed nervously. "Uh-huh," she said. "Good thing Ares didn't find out about that one, huh?"
"I think so." Xena's eyes danced. Gabrielle blushed still deeper. "Maybe I could show you later."
"Uh..." Gabrielle hesitated, then went ahead. "What's wrong with now?"
Xena grinned and reached for her, and Gabrielle sighed with bliss. She thought about the station one last time-- the kindness of its people and the wonders of its technology, one more of which Xena was about to show her-- then put the memories away forever. This was home.