Cadence nothing to complain about for the next hour. She went out of her way to
be accommodating to everyone and when they yelled at her to not help them for
whatever idiotic reason she simply excused herself and found something else to
do. She had decided on the walk home that she was no longer going to be the
victim. Xena had been right, if Gabrielle succumbed to the tortures then she
would be giving Alti the win… and that just wasn’t going to happen. She had
never given in to hate or any of its many manifestations and she wasn’t going
to start now.
marveled at everything that came to her five senses. The strangely colored
grass and other vegetation, the sound of the birds calling in the trees that
sounded like no bird would on Earth, the smell of the flowers and even the feel
of the air on her skin… they all made her glad that she was alive and able to
It was in
this state of extreme calm and contentment that Galatia arrived at her birthday
party. Many of the guests had already arrived including some of her best
friends and their families. Galatia greeted everyone with a grace that Cadence
never imagined that she possessed. And for once Cadence felt a certain amount
of pride for her daughter and it showed. Galatia either did not notice the
affection from her mother or she modestly ignored the extra gentile
attention. She wandered from guest to guest chatting amiably with everyone so
that no-one was left out or felt slighted. In short she was the perfect
arrived, instead of allowing her friend to occupy her time Galatia looped an
arm through Zaria’s and took her along with on her tour of the Family. Their
other four friends joined them and as a group they went about entertaining and
greeting and serving everyone at the party and seemingly in a single stroke
changed the way that everyone perceived them.
By and by
the grandmothers arrived. They strolled into the park as if they were Queens
themselves where only one of them presently was a Queen. Faith was the current
Queen of the Amazons. Galatia’s group went immediately to greet the
grandmothers and because Galatia was the guest of honor everyone else had to
gracious and sly at the same time. She kissed Dura on the cheek and gave her a
gentle hug when she greeted her and moved on to Faith who also received a kiss
on the cheek and a small hug. When she came to Solace she changed it only
slightly. She was still within decorum and she made it look as natural as the
sunshine when she kissed her grandmother on the cheek and leaned in a bit
further to embrace the woman. But then she whispered ever so lightly into
Solace’s ear, “Greetings Solace, the last time that I held you such our ages
were reversed. Perhaps we can speak later without quite so many ears.”
slightly stiff when she registered exactly what her granddaughter was saying in her ear. But as always she recovered
quickly and said in Galatia’s ear, “After the cake everyone settles in to chat.
Come to us then.”
So it was
that the afternoon wore on. There was entertainment from without and from within
the Family. There was food and drink and games galore and finally it was time
to open the presents and then cut the cake. Galatia was perfect the entire day
and Cadence was congratulated on how well her daughter was coming around. They
were referring to her manners as well as her apparent new interest in weapons.
Cadence admitted that perhaps her daughter was finally getting her footing in
life. She had no idea just how truthful that statement to be.
The cake was
cut and Galatia opened her presents and as predicted the adults did in fact
start to settle in to chat and the children had formed teams and began a game
of tag ball. Galatia and her friends as well as Harmony all managed to drift in
the direction of the grandmothers. A few of their children, Galatia’s aunts and
uncles had been speaking amiably with their mothers but as Galatia and her
cadre approached the grandmothers sent them away. They nearly sent Harmony away as well but
Zaria grabbed her mother’s hand and pulled her along to sit beside her. They
all sat at a round table together.
explain yourself.” Solace said gruffly.
daughter that is an interesting tone to take with me. But due to the
circumstances I can’t say that I blame you.” Gabrielle had obviously left
grandmothers all smiled warmly. “So it is you Gabrielle. I am so very happy to
see you again. It’s been about thirteen years… is that right sister… yes
thirteen years since we have spoken with you.” Solace remarked in a much more
was confused. “Thirteen years… I don’t understand Solace.”
giggled. “She always likes to be dramatic. When you as Galatia were a child,
you were three. You had just learned how to make full sentences and were
learning how to spin a staff. You came and sat in my lap at a party and
suddenly you weren’t Galatia anymore. You were Gabrielle. You as Gabrielle
asked about our families and wondered why you were so small and we were so big.
And you told us that one of my daughters would be a Prophet of God and that
when you returned we were to call her and have her come to you.” She stopped
and looked at Solace and Dura.
“You told us
a story… it was a horrible story. You told us what happened to you and Xena
when you went after Alti in the Castle. You told us not to disturb the Castle
but to watch it only. We of course had been trying to excavate it for years but
upon your word we stopped immediately.” Dura continued the story and then looked
knew that the Castle would remain untouched you suddenly became the three year
old Galatia again. Since then we have done as you bid and only watched the
Castle… and you of course. So the question that I have now is which one of your
friends is Xena? We know that she is close to you so which one is she?” Solace
asked as if she wanted to know who had one the bet… and perhaps she did.
was a little stunned. She didn’t remember any of what they had told to her. But
she didn’t doubt it either. She turned to Zaria and raised an eyebrow.
be me Solace. Good to see you girls again. You’ve grown up a bit.” Xena
“Hah, one of
mine! I knew it. Pay up you two!” Dura burst out, and got quickly shushed by
There was a
moment of stunned silence and then almost as one they all burst out laughing.
Many heads turned to look but when they saw who it was that was making such
merry they turned away. Those that were near saw how the grandmothers had sent
their own children away to speak with this group alone and alone they would
finally calmed down again Solace once again took up the conversation. “I’m
gathering that you do not wish to make yourselves known. May I ask why?”
question Solace is should you need to
ask why?” Xena was completely disgusted with the lack of shape of her body.
Gabrielle shook her head after barely mouthing the name. Xena in turn mouthed what back at her. Gabrielle closed her
eyes in defeat. “Okay she has a point… we aren’t exactly in any kind of shape
to be meeting anyone in battle. I lost to my sister yesterday and believe me
she’s no Alti.”
taken… but surely you’re not here to simply get into shape.” Faith cut in.
figure that we were awakened early because we aren’t in shape and because we
need to really work out what it is that we’re going to do. This is different;
we have never actually been born as ourselves before… well except obviously the
first time.” Xena explained.
thought that back in the twentieth century you were reincarnated into bodies
that were your own.” Lacey said what nearly everyone else was thinking.
“No, had we
actually been reincarnated into the bodies then they wouldn’t have been mixed
up like that. No, we actually popped into them when the threat of Ares was
recognized. A lot of that was his doing somehow. We lived out our lives in
those bodies but they weren’t ours in the first place.” It was Gabrielle’s turn
these bodies… have been ours since birth. We just got all of our memories
yesterday. It was as if they were downloaded like in a computer. All the other
stuff is still there but now all of what we knew before is there too.” Xena
continued Gabrielle’s thought.
“Okay so you
have the memories of two lives in there?” Rachael wanted to know.
“Oh we got a
few more than two. How many times have we died and come back… that we can
remember honey?” Xena asked Gabrielle.
“I have lost
count but I do know that it was one lifetime too many.” She answered sardonically.
agree with that one.” Xena’s voice was just as cynical.
up her hand to silence the women. She was listening to her ear piece. She
looked over at Gabrielle.
“You broke up with that boy Lance am I right?”
Gabrielle nodded. “I thought so.” She said something very quietly into her hand
and motioned for them all to wait.
Soon a half
dozen Amazons appeared out of the trees and Faith motioned for everyone to
stand and follow her. They all stood to the side while her Amazons moved the
table and chairs that they had been using a bit further away from the party.
They set them all back up and then after the women were seated the Amazons took
three steps away from the back of the chairs and remained turned away from the
table. They were now on a specific guard duty.
were all seated and the Amazons were comfortably stationed Gabrielle silently
asked Faith what was going on. “I’m taking advantage of the situation and
giving us a bit more privacy while my girls hunt down your ex-boyfriend and I
think yours as well.” She indicated Xena. “Don’t worry I’m not concerned. It’s
not like we have a shortage of Warriors here. They apparently made a diversion
so they could run one of the side gates. They will be found soon.” She finished
but the younger girls were suddenly mute. “So, to put everyone’s mind at ease
these Amazons would sooner be boiled in oil than divulge a single word that
they hear… even considering the information that we all have.”
where did we leave off?” Xena had lost track of the conversation. She looked at
“What are we
doing?” Gabrielle said helping.
are we doing? Well beyond getting into shape we also need to make a plan. This
time there is a reason why God gave us our own bodies instead of the bodies of
someone else dead or alive. I think that if we plan this right we may actually
get a real life together. That could be wishful thinking but I know that He’s
giving us a chance to make a real plan and map it out. If I’m right then we have
years to execute this plan. That’s why Gabrielle was given the opportunity to
tell you to stop digging in the Castle. Alti never left and you have no idea
where she might be. You could have set her free prematurely and then we all would
have been screwed.” Xena was forming a plan even now but she had to really see
where everything was at before she solidified anything.
They all had
listened closely. “So what you need is to go to Uranus and see for yourself the
condition of the Castle and if Alti is securely trapped?”
looked at each other quickly. “Yes, and to retrieve a couple of bodies.” The
answer had come from Gabrielle. Xena nodded. “…And a couple of swords. You can
disguise it as a school field trip or a Family training mission. I don’t care,
but we know where to find them and we can figure out where she would have run
to when the walls started to crumble. I’m fairly certain that we can avoid her
and just retrieve the swords, the Marines and… Amy and Hope.” Gabrielle still
had a knot in her stomach just thinking about reentering that room.
“It will be
done.” Solace said quietly. She knew as did Faith that Hope had been more than
the body of just another of Gabrielle’s descendants. Hope had been her daughter
reincarnated to get a second chance to making the right decisions. Her life had
been cut short by Alti in the mines of Titan. Hope had been Solace and Faith’s
mother and Amy had been Dura’s mother. They needed to come home.
“I need new
clothes and some good boots and some weapons. I know that it sounds trivial but
I feel naked without my Sais and I have no boots in which to put them even if I
had them. I just feel funny dressing like this all the time.” Gabrielle
indicated the cute party dress and dainty shoes that she was wearing.
with that as well. But in addition… if you girls plan on being our personal
guard then you need to change some clothing as well.” Xena indicated their four
friends. They were all nodding. “And last but most certainly not least… we need
Cadence to take Gabrielle off of grounding. She’s gonna spend the night at my
willing to take on this responsibility Harmony?” Dura asked her daughter.
answered without hesitation.
“Good then you can take the girls, all of them to the store for shopping
tomorrow as well and you will watch over them as they train. You may enlist the
help of anyone but you are sworn to tell no-one who they are. I’m sure that I
need not tell you these things but it is a formality.”
mother. I knew what I was getting into when Xena told me who she was this
morning.” She smiled at her daughter
Xena had not
realized the situation in which she was placing her mother Harmony; but now
that it had been spelled out she thought that it had not been such a bad choice
deal with Cadence.” Solace called a stray Amazon over to her and bid her to go
and find the woman in question.
chatted about the party while they waited. It took several minutes for Cadence to
make her appearance. By the look of her she had been playing kick ball with the
understand that you have grounded Galatia here. Is this so?” Solace asked her
automatically became defensive. “She’s my
daughter and she needed to be punished.”
she did. Now the punishment is done. She should not be punished for finally
finding her backbone. If we punish for such a thing then what incentive would
there be for improving oneself? In addition to this she is spending the night
at Harmony’s house and then tomorrow she is going out shopping with them. Don’t
worry about the cost… I’ll pay for anything she wants. It is my birthday gift
to her.” Solace really had to bite her tongue to keep from smiling when she got
to the birthday part.
Cadence began to plead.
“I will hear
no argument on this matter. And I best not hear of retaliation against her from
anyone… period. If I do then you my dear daughter will pay the price. Am I in
any way unclear?” Solace was very firm with Cadence. It made Gabrielle wonder
what kind of bad blood was between them.
I understand.” Cadence sounded more sad than she did angry.
“I am not
angry with you daughter. But I think that you favor your other children too
much. Have you not felt pride for this child at all?”
remembered how she had felt just this afternoon. “Yes I have mother.”
because if you will only allow yourself to feel that towards her, I think that
she will surprise you.”
mother, I will consider your words.” Cadence also remembered trying to gain her
mother’s approval. She never thought that she would; now she tried to gain it
through her children. Perhaps she should have noticed a long time ago that the
one child that she held in little esteem was the one child that her mother, the
other grandmothers and the Sisters all held in high esteem. Could it be that
her own jealousy had blinded her to that one thing that she wanted most?
“I know that
you will dear. Now go on back to the party. We wish to monopolize the birthday
girl for a bit longer.” Solace had stood to hug her daughter. It took some of
the sting from her words.
had gone Solace looked at Gabrielle. “She is a good woman. Please don’t judge
her too harshly. I fear that we had too many children to care for and our own
grandmother could help us only so much. So many of the little darlings did not
get the attention that they needed. Cadence was one of those children that
needed more attention than the others. But I did not have the time. That does
not mean that I love her any less.”
imagined that you did. She is a good mother. It’s just that she has little
tolerance for children that don’t fit into the mold that she has pictured in
her mind and I guess I never did.” Gabrielle was trying to figure it out.
once, when you were three you were the perfect little Amazon girl child. Even
at that age you could spin your tiny little staff better than anyone else. But
then Gabrielle came forward to tell us to leave the Castle alone and from that
day forward you shunned all weapons and anything that had to do with any kind
of violence. It was an abrupt and for your mother an unwelcome change.” Dura
“Why would I
do that?” Gabrielle was shaking her head.
at her soul mate quizzically. “Are you kidding? Why would you do that? You
suddenly filled the mind of a three year old with all of the memories of pain
and death and humiliation that you had endured in several life times. All of it
was due to the way of the Warrior and you wonder why she shunned it that way?
Really Gabrielle I thought that you would be more intuitive.” Everyone was
looking at Xena most couldn’t believe that she was speaking to the great Queen
in that manner. Gabrielle on the other hand was looking at the table. Clearly
she had not seen what Xena had. “Gabs, honey are you alright? You seem to be a
bit slow. This isn’t like you.” Xena had put her hand over Gabrielle’s when she
had become concerned and now she pulled that hand to her face and gently kissed
had been thinking furiously while Xena had spoken. She could think of no reason
why she was feeling and acting like she was living in a fog. “Do you remember
The table had gone silent. This should be a private moment and they all knew it
but here they were with no place to comfortably go.
like Helicon for me. I had a mission then and I couldn’t be distracted or
coddled. I had to see it through, for a strong Amazon Nation. Now I need to
return to Uranus and return to that room and retrieve my daughter’s body… for a
strong Amazon Queen. I have to put her to rest.” She had been speaking to the
table but at the last she raised her eyes and lanced each and every woman there
with a determined look. Finally her gaze rested on Xena.
“Then let’s make this happen.” Her comment was made for them all. It only made
partial sense to Xena. She knew that Hope was at rest. But no-one else did.
Xena knew that it was Gabrielle’s fear and anger that needed to be put to rest.
What happened in that room had Gabrielle by the throat and wouldn’t let go
until she faced her fears and went back. Then maybe she could conquer it and it
could make her stronger. It had been much easier for Gabrielle to face the fear
while in heaven but now back in the real world it seemed much harder on her.
awakened feeling fine but with each passing day the weight of her fears was
pressing down upon her with more weight. Gabrielle didn’t fear what happened
she feared how it might change her. It didn’t have to change her at all but
that doubt, that single cancerous doubt was eating away at her. They say that
doubt is mankind’s most dangerous weapon. Xena was seeing firsthand the truth
of the saying. Xena didn’t tell Gabrielle any of this, her thoughts were only
theories after all.
suggested that Xena take Gabrielle home to Harmony’s house but Gabrielle flat
refused the offer. “No, I’m the guest of honor. I will stay and I will be the
perfect hostess until the party is over. Xena… don’t argue with me on this
point.” She had that piercing glare that silenced any argument from her
hope you won’t mind if I stay glued to your side for the rest of the night?”
Xena said with a crooked smile.
smiled warmly and kissed Xena’s hand. “My dear love, I expect you to stay glued
to my side for the rest of your life and a thousand more if that is what God
death Gabrielle, I will never leave you.” Xena whispered so low that not even
Gabrielle had heard her.