Chapter Seven

Going After Xena

“Her army is there,” Iolaus said, pointing to a small clearing near a cave.

“Looks like something is wrong too,” Hercules said.

“Want to crash the party?” Iolaus asked.

“Why should they have all the fun? Let’s be discreet about it though,” Hercules said.

“Good idea.”

Hercules and Iolaus approached the camp, quietly. They entered the cave.

“Looks like some type of struggle happened here,” Iolaus said.

Hercules looked down a crater in the cave. He took a torch and looked down, he couldn’t see anything but darkness.

“What did you find?” Iolaus asked his friend.

“I don’t know, but we are about to find out,” Hercules said. He climbed on the edge of the crater.”

“You aren’t just going to jump down there are you?” Before Iolaus could finish his sentence, Hercules jumped down. Iolaus followed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I Don’t Think We Are In Greece Anymore

“Where are we,” Gabrielle asked.

“I don’t know,” Janus replied. “But I got a strange feeling —.”

“Whoaaaa!” Hercules screamed. He landed in front of Gabrielle.

“Hercules!” Gabrielle said, surprised.

“Nice of you drop in,” Janus said.

“You!” Hercules said.

“Her-cu-leeeeees,” jousted Iolaus. He landed beside his friend.

“Hercules, wait,” Gabrielle explained. She looked at Janus. “This is Janus. Now, despite what you’ve seen of him earlier, I assure you he is on our side.” This is going to be tough to explain, Gabrielle thought.

“Really?” Hercules asked. “I think I’ve had about enough surprises for one day.”

“You and me both. It isn’t exactly everyday you wake up to find yourself, well, pre-occupied with taking over the world,” Janus said. “And you had no intention of doing it in the first place. Then my best friend decides to put me here.” She shot a look over at Gabrielle. It was playful evil look.

“Xena?” Iolaus asked. “But you —.”

“Look so different? Ask Gabrielle to explain. Look, we don’t have much time. Gabrielle will explain to Iolaus. I’ll explain it to Hercules,” Janus said.

Hercules and Janus sat down on a tree stump. Iolaus and Gabrielle went for a walk.

“What is going on?” Hercules asked. He was glad that it was Xena. The Xena he knew. But the features were quite different.

“An evil Shamaness, named Alti has managed to take over my body,” Janus said. “She wants to complete her mission of destroying the world. At one time, I was her weapon, now her enemy. She couldn’t have come back without help. We have to take out that help, before we can defeat her.”

“Do you know who this help is?”

“No. I don’t even have an idea,” replied Janus. Janus hung his head low, “I’m just sorry that Minus had to die.”

“It wasn’t you that killed him,” Hercules said. There wasn’t anything he could say to her to take away the feeling she had. He wanted to know more about Alti. “Where do you know Alti from?”

Janus paused for a moment. “She was exiled from the Amazons for practicing witchcraft. It was her that said I would become ‘The Destroyer of Nations.’ It was her that said my son would never know his father or his mother.”

“The first never came true though,” Hercules said.

“Because I didn’t want to be. Something happened. I had the Amazons and the Centaurs, but I let them go,” Janus said.

“What do you want to do. How do we fix what this Alti has done?”

“You and Iolaus do nothing. It is up to me and Gabrielle to fix what she’s done,” replied Janus.

“Are you sure about that?”

“It’s not your fight.”

“If my friends are involved, I make it my fight.”

“This time, you can’t be involved. Alti is powerful. You’ll learn things you shouldn’t learn. I should know,” Janus said.

“You can’t fight destiny Xena. I think you know that by now,” Hercules said.

“It is my destiny to fight Alti, every time.”

“You two ready?” Iolaus asked. “Did I interrupt anything?”

“No. No, everything’s fine,” Janus said. She looked over at Hercules.

“You okay?” Gabrielle asked, looking at the person that was very much her best friend, but looked so totally different. “I don’t think I’ll get used to this.”

“You’ll have too. At least for now.”

Hercules and Iolaus went on ahead.

“How are we going to defeat Alti?”

“The only way we can,” replied Janus

“The Mehndi?”

“Yes. We take her back,” Janus said.

“She won’t fall the same trick twice. She’s too smart for that,” answered Gabrielle.

“We’ll make it work. We have no other alternative at this point,” Janus said. “In the mean time, we have to figure out where we are at and why we are here and just how to get out of here.”

Iolaus approached them, “You two coming or do you want to enjoy the view longer?”

“We’re coming,” replied Gabrielle. She walked ahead of her friend.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Finding the Way Home

“If I’m not mistaken, we are still in Greece,” Hercules said. “Look.” He pointed towards the Acropolis in Athens.

“Athens?” Gabrielle asked. “Why Athens?”

“Why not Corinth? Thessaly? There are any number of places we could have ended up in. All of which point back to the same question, why?” Janus said. He joined Hercules up on the ridge.

“What do you think?” Hercules asked.

Janus didn’t say word.

“I don’t know you about you three, but I’m starving,” Iolaus said. He raced down the hill.

“At least he still has his appetite,” Hercules replied. He walked down the hill behind his long time friend.

“Yeah,” Gabrielle said. She looked at Janus. “Does he have a family?”

“Yes,” Janus answered.

“What will happen to him when we take Alti back?”

“I hope nothing,” replied Janus. “You go on ahead.”

“No. You are going to go and find her. Xena, you don’t even know where to start looking for her,” Gabrielle said. “You need to eat.”

“I’ll eat when I want too,” argued Janus. “Go.”

Gabrielle saw there was no use in arguing this any further. When Xena put her mind to something, she usually accomplished the task without a problem. It was focus. She started to walk down the hill, she turned around and walked back up the hill. “You are always trying to protect me. I can protect myself Xena. I protected myself against —,” argued Gabrielle before she realized she made a bad statement.

“ — against me,” Janus said, finishing her friend’s comment.

“Your body does me justice Xena. I can walk into a village and I get respect. People are afraid of me and they don’t even know the half of it,” Alti replied. “I knew we would get the chance to fight again. Let me even the odds up for you.” Alti grabbed a hold of both Gabrielle and Xena.

Whirls of bright colors and whooshing air surrounding the three people. Suddenly, they found themselves surrounded by the bright streams light and were transported to somewhere.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Xena and Gabrielle awoke to find themselves in a forest not far from Amphipolis.

“Xena? You’re back,” Gabrielle asked. She noticed Xena’s blank stare. “I mean you are back in your body.”

“I know,” agreed Xena. “I know where we are at.”

“I think you should get ready. We are about ready to have company,” Gabrielle said. She nudged Xena in the side.

“Give us your money,” demanded the bandit.

Xena nonchalantly rose up. She approached the leader. “And what if I don’t?”

“We take it from you,” the bandit said. “Either way, we get your money. And just so you know, the name is Degas.”

“I suggest you find a new way of getting money. This method isn’t working out,” Xena said. She took her sword from her scabbard.

Feeling a fight about ready to start, Gabrielle looked down in the dirt and pick up a conveniently placed staff. She thought it was weird at first, but she did what came naturally to her. “Save some for me”

Xena looked over at her and shrugged it off.

Before Xena could ever make her first move, Degas had plotted his first attack. He had many to choose from. He chose a disabling attack first. Degas envisioned a tree slamming into his opponent.

The force of the blow, sent Xena backwards. She did a backwards somersault, landing in complete, unbearable pain. She struggled to her feet.

Gabrielle was next. She was holding her own against the remaining bandits. When she had finished them, she looked over and noticed her friend struggling to get up. She turned to the one who called himself Degas.

Degas plotted his next blow, this time against Gabrielle. “The nails in the ankles will do.”

Gabrielle fell to the ground in pain. She was screaming.

This gave Xena cause to rise up. “Alti!”

“Xena, you should know better,” replied Alti. She tried a different method of attack. She flew towards Xena, knocking her to the ground. “Back to basics.” She grabbed Xena and raised her off the ground. “This is what is going to happen to your friends after I’ve killed you.”

Xena broke free of Alti’s grasp and fell to the ground. She did a roundhouse kick to knock Alti off balance. Xena got up and started landing punches into Alti. Alti deflected what she could, but Xena was too powerful for her.

Alti again grabbed Xena. “Something to remember me bye.” She made Xena see her past. More specifically, what she did to Gabrielle after Hope had killed Solan. “You destroyed her.” She released Xena and dropped her to the ground.

Xena took out a dagger that she had always placed in her boot and threw it at Alti. Alti caught it.

“We aren’t finished yet Xena,” Alti said. She disappeared into the forest.

“Xena?” Gabrielle said. She crawled over to her friend.

“You okay?” Xena asked Gabrielle.

“I’m fine. What did she show you?” asked Gabrielle.

“Nothing,” answered Xena. She helped Gabrielle up. “You’ll be fine.”

“It hurts,” replied Gabrielle. She was limping.

“You just imagined it.” She helped Gabrielle sit down on a tree stump.

“What about you?” Gabrielle asked.

“I said I was fine,” Xena replied. “We’ll stay here for the night. In the morning, we’ll head to Amphipolis. If what has happened I think happened, we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

“I’m not certain I follow,” Gabrielle said.

“Alti let me defeat her. Degas, the bandit, him and his band tried to rob me before all of this happened. It was really Alti. Someone brought her back,” Xena said. “It wasn’t us. She wants something from here. Something she didn’t get because she didn’t fully take over me.”

“I think we should find this Janus,” Gabrielle said. “Does that name mean anything to you?”

Xena shook her head no. “I’ll get some more firewood. By the way, where did the staff come from?”

Gabrielle turned to looked at Xena. “I don’t know. I looked down and there it was. It looks like the one Ephiny gave me.” Her voice dropped off. She remembered her fallen friend.

“Hmm,” sighed Xena. She went off to go find some firewood.

Xena returned to find her friend had fallen asleep. She cracked a small smile and built the fire. She took her blanket and cover Gabrielle up with it. She sat next to her best friend, sword in hand. She knew Alti wouldn’t be back, at least not yet. Alti was up to something.

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