had been long and in its own way peaceful. But Gabrielle and Xena were happy to
finally be stepping onto the shuttle platform in Athens. It had been a very
long time since they had seen Athens and it had changed a great deal in that
populace had not been expecting the Thracian heroes but when they debarked
there were those that recognized them anyway. Xena and Gabrielle stopped for a
short time to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans but soon they
were on their way. They could have taken the shuttle directly to the steppes
but they had something to do first and then they would take the shuttle back
with the city Mayor and arranged for the transportation of most of the Guardians
that had traveled with them and then they left. They weren’t taking any
chances. Their core group of friends would already be in place on the Steppes
along with a couple of squads of Amazon Marines and an equal number of Marines.
These Guardians would be joining the others but they would be arriving from a
different direction. Once the arrangements were set Xena, Gabrielle and her two
Shadows left in their shuttle. The two heroes had discussed this many times and
ultimately they had decided that it was better to be
safe than sorry. They would meet Alti on the Steppes but they would do it from
of course actually land and expect to fight Xena and Gabrielle physically but
she would end up fighting their circle of eight, Nadia, Ediva, Rachael, Lacey,
Patricia, Jana, Jillian and Sherry in her physical form while Xena and
Gabrielle fought her in the spiritual realm. The heroes were hoping that they
would be able to defeat her quickly so that none of their friends would be
harmed. Things did happen quicker in the spiritual realm than in the physical.
Ultimately all that they could do was their best and put their trust in their
God… Xena wasn’t too sure about that last part but she did trust in Gabrielle.
Gabrielle was making a lot of sense right now and she insisted upon that last part.
It had taken
them quite a bit of time, years in fact to dissect the last few meetings with
Alti and figure out what they had done wrong and how they could fix it. What
they came up with was simple; they had to face her together, they had to face
her in the spiritual realm and cut off her life line with Lucifer, once that
was severed they figured that Alti could physically be killed by anyone at
least for a short period of time. If their friends couldn’t kill Alti then they
would simply have to take the fight to her before Lucifer was able or willing
to reconnect with her soul. They really didn’t think that it would be
necessary. Alti had been killed before in physical form. It was her godly
connection in the spiritual realm that kept bringing her back.
one item in all of this that still boggled them… Alti was a Demon and only the
righteous can fight Demons and win… at least that’s what Michael had told them.
But Alti wasn’t an ordinary Demon, maybe the rules didn’t apply. What they did
know for certain was that they
had to fight her for the right reasons and with the right heart. They had to
fight her selflessly or they would lose… again.
They had a
plan, they had practiced the plan until it was second nature and they had
alternate plans that accommodated all of the possibilities that they could
think of and they were smart enough to think on their feet if Alti actually
surprised them. Now they just needed to wait for the guest of honor.
As it turned
out their wait was not long. Earth Force informed them of an incoming object
that appeared to be no larger than a human being but was traveling at the speed
of a comet. It was Alti; they knew it before they even got a bead on her. Xena
asked Ares to let it come on in. They had already made arrangements with Ares the
Commander of Earth Force to have many troops on the ground.
made planet fall Xena and Gabrielle finished the ancient Amazon ceremony that
would take them to the spirit realm. When they finally fell unconscious
Gabrielle’s Shadow Guardians lowered them gently to the floor and made their
bodies as comfortable as possible and they sat back and watched.
in the center of what once had been the meeting place for the Amazon leaders.
It was the sacred grounds where Cyane and her compatriots had lost their lives
to Xena and given their blood to make Alti the powerful Shaman that she became.
Alti was beyond any pathetic trickle of power that she could draw from this
place but the symbolism made her smile.
are you?” She yelled into the mist that floated through the sparse stand of
trees. Not much had changed here except that the bodies had long since been
removed. The trees were still thin and scraggly, how the Amazons had learned to
run through these trees was still a bit of a mystery to Alti, not that she
truly cared, but it was a mystery.
was moving out there in the mist and trees. She could hear them. They weren’t
Xena or Gabrielle. They moved wrong. But they weren’t unskilled. To the
contrary they were well trained, it’s just that it’s damn near impossible to be
silent when twigs hide beneath leaf cover. It didn’t hurt that Alti’s Demon
ears were extremely sensitive. But where was Xena? Where was that goodie two
magic the mist parted and she saw that she was surrounded. She didn’t know
these women but if they wanted to die at her hand who was she to argue? They
all drew swords and so did she. “Xena’s not hiding behind you… she’s never
hidden behind anyone. So what is she doing? Where is she?”
woman that was directly in front of her looked a great deal like Gabrielle. She
didn’t answer Alti; in fact none of them spoke with words. They merely raised
their swords and began to advance.
Xena and Gabrielle had just arrived in the spirit realm and were approaching
the sacred grounds. They crested the small hill that overlooked the meeting
place and saw the winged and horned Demon that was Alti in the circle of stones
below. She was concentrating on something that the heroes could not see. They
assumed it was the battle that was either taking place or about to take place
in the real world. They started down the hill. They were in no big hurry nor
were they lagging.
to look at them. She smiled. It might have been a pleasant smile had it not
been on the face of a Demon. As they got closer they noticed a faint trail behind
Alti’s form that was trailing into the mist. They looked at one another. Both
had figured out that this trail must be cut somehow so that they could permanently
you are Xena.” Alti said as she raised her sword here in the spirit world.
split off to one side to blade off against their foe. Xena continued to walk
straight for Alti. “Here I am.” She said it with no mocking inflections or
goading. It was a simple statement of fact.
of emotion threw Alti. She was so accustomed to their angry hateful banter that
this lack of interplay left her off balance. “You’re not yourself my dear, has
the sanitary Gabrielle finally leached all of the color from your soul?”
comment brought laughter from Xena. It was the laughter of someone who was
truly amused. “Alti I doubt very seriously if you still have the capacity to
even see colors of that sort. Your soul is black and corrupted beyond measure…
I don’t think that even Calisto’s soul was so tainted.” Xena had squared up to
her and Gabrielle had bladed off to Alti’s right. They would maintain these
positions regardless of how or where Alti moved during the fight… if they could.
But that was the general idea; they wanted to cause Alti to split her
Alti saw the
tactic and tried to back out of the pocket but Gabrielle moved well and Xena
advanced quickly. She tried several other tactics to escape the trap to no
avail. Finally she did the only thing that she could do; she chose the target closest
to her and attacked. Alti flew at Xena and sparks flew when their swords
crossed. That’s when Gabrielle launched herself at Alti and Alti instead of
engaging both opponents leapt into the air and took wing.
Gabrielle followed her into the air using the trees. She would fly away from
them and then turn and attack when they should not expect it. But they had
trained for this too, so Alti was not gaining any ground but then again neither
saw a chance to strike for the thread that trailed behind Alti but if she took
it she would have to leap from the tree that she was in and take the chance
that when she landed on the ground she would wake herself in the real world or
worse. She didn’t even give it a second thought Gabrielle leaped from the tree
and sliced through the tail behind Alti. On the way to the ground she sprouted
wings and came to an immediate stop in midair. She looked down at her new
outfit and recognized it as the warrior uniform of a Warrior Angel.
Xena, who was not in a position to see Gabrielle, leapt from a branch to land
on Alti. Her sword was deflected by Alti’s claws but it still found flesh. In a
moment of pain Alti screamed and threw Xena back and had she not suddenly
sprouted wings as well she would have been impaled on a broken tree limb a
hundred feet from the ground. She was also garbed in the raiment of a Warrior
Angel with the black and green wings that matched.
they all had wings the battle was fully met. Xena and Gabrielle charged Alti
and she was hard pressed to hold them at bay. Their blades slashed and cut and all
of them bled.
physical world Alti took to the air immediately she couldn’t split her
attention this way, Xena and Gabrielle were too good and she could feel her
strength waning. Gabrielle had severed the link. Alti was confused she had
thought that she would be fighting two mortal women but instead she was
fighting eight mortal woman with dozens more waiting to take a stab at her and she was fighting two Angels in the
spiritual realm. She couldn’t figure out how she had been so out
that she had easily escaped one mortal women when one of them jumped up and
actually used a tree to launch herself into the air. The woman spread her arms
out to her side and large leather flaps that extended from her wrists to her
ankles caught the air and she glided. Alti was so stunned by the trick that the
woman had slashed a long gash in her wing before she realized her situation.
The air billowed through her cut wing and Alti lost altitude. Her attackers
meanwhile were all bouncing off of trees and taking wing and the ground below
was filling with more.
Just as Alti
was realizing that her mortality was at hand if she didn’t find a way to run,
Xena kicked her in the jaw and sent her flipping end over end into a thin but
solid tree trunk. She was stunned and while she was trying to maintain her consciousness
Gabrielle’s sword was coming down on her back. Alti was able to slither aside
just far enough to keep the blow from being fatal but Gabrielle’s blade sliced
through Alti’s left wing, nearly severing it from her back. Alti fell like a
rock from the trees with Xena in close pursuit and Gabrielle a hairs breath
behind her lover.
with a sickening thud on the forest floor. She had no time to say or do
anything before Xena’s sword came down onto her exposed neck for the last time.
As Alti’s head rolled away from her body both parts burst into flame and were
almost immediately consumed. They stood by and waited. They could feel and see
Alti’s soul still hovering because her mortal body was still breathing. Unlike
the last time that Xena had killed Alti in the spirit world Alti had gained a
great deal of power and was able to separate the two parts of herself. It
wouldn’t last long Xena knew, she need only wait until Alti’s body was dead.
She couldn’t let Lucifer resurrect or claim Alti’s soul before her body expired
or they would be back to do this again.
friends fought Alti in the real world Xena and Gabrielle waited for Lucifer to
arrive to try and claim Alti’s soul. It hovered like a dark mist just above the
ground where her spiritual body had been.
stand a chance at this point; she was hopelessly out numbered and had no place
to go. In a final attempt to at least take one of them with her she charged
after one of the blonds and was impaled by five swords. She was a pin cushion
when she hit the ground and one of the Guardians relieved her of her head.
Scarcely a breath was taken before the first Guardian was joined by her
compatriots and Alti’s body was hacked into a dozen or more pieces.
It was when
her head was severed in the physical realm that Alti’s dark spirit seemed to
writhe in discomfort. Xena reached down and grabbed the mist. How she knew that
she could actually capture Alti’s soul like that she would never be able to
say… but that’s what she did. When she had it in hand they were suddenly and
inexplicably transported into the physical realm… wings and all. Their bodies
on the shuttle disappeared and reappeared in the sacred place amongst the
Guardians, Marines and their friends.
clutched Alti’s squirming soul in her hand.
finally finished her and caught her soul?” A familiar voice said from just
behind them. Everyone jumped but none were capable of striking the winged man
Gabrielle turned around to see Michael the Archangel and a winged Ephiny
standing about ten feet behind them. Gabrielle smiled and quickly closed the
gap to hug Ephiny and greet Michael. Xena was a bit slower to approach. She
held Alti’s soul out to the side and greeted Ephiny from a safe distance.
“Seems so… yeah want her?” Xena held out the black gassy soul to Michael.
her.” He held up a manacle and quickly fastened it around the snake like form.
The soul squirmed and writhed with renewed energy as if it knew that it had
earned a horrible fate. Michael held the soul up and a light from heaven beamed
down upon it and it was consumed. Gabrielle looked at him quizzically. “We have
a special place for souls like hers. She’ll have company while she waits for
the final judgment, but she will be shackled and bound until then so she can’t
cause any more trouble.”
Gabrielle said sadly.
her Gabrielle. Alti was a truly evil creature. There were no redeeming
qualities about her.” Ephiny told her friend.
Xena put her
hands on Gabrielle’s shoulders. “So what happens now Michael?”
looked over at his companion. He seemed loath to answer Xena. “Well I only had
one pair of manacles so I suppose you get to stay with Gabrielle.” His smile
Xena made a
move to go around Gabrielle but Gabrielle wouldn’t let it happen. “Why you
rotten son of a…”
Gabrielle and Ephiny said in unison.
“What… I ask
him an honest question and he pops off with that kind of crap! Can’t I defend
myself?” Xena pled.
“She has a
point Michael. You did start it.” Gabrielle defended her beloved.
“I did not
start it she started it when she attacked me a couple of thousand years ago.”
Michael sounded like a five year old.
attacked Gabrielle!” Xena shot back.
Aphrodite!” Michael spread his wings.
between you and Aphrodite Michael; it looked like you attacked me.” Gabrielle
defended Xena again.
she doesn’t deserve your defense or your love.” Michael said softly.
Michael, she has them both.” Gabrielle said just as quietly. He looked at her
gently almost with pity and then threw a glare towards Xena.
Mikey you might get caught up with a little of that desiring of your neighbor’s
stuff or even the big L word… and I don’t mean love.” Xena goaded.
it.” Gabrielle commanded and before Michael could gloat Ephiny advised him that
he might want to shut his mouth as well. She pointed out the audience that had been
growing and coming closer.
“So back to
the original question, what happens now?” Gabrielle asked of either Angel.
decided that she should answer the question. “That’s up to you. You have earned
a choice. You may return to your home in heaven and wait…”
what?” Xena butt in.
whatever comes next. He could ask you to complete another task or not. I really
don’t know.” Ephiny replied and waited to see if they had more questions.
Gabrielle just indicated that she should continue. “Or you can stay here, in
the mortal realm and live as mortals… until you die at which time if you
haven’t completely screwed up you will be returned to your home in heaven…
again to wait.”
“What do you
mean if we haven’t totally screwed up?” Gabrielle had a suspicion but she
wanted to hear it.
that you can lose everything that you have worked for if you allow Xena to
return to her… old ways.” Michael stop himself from trying to push Xena’s
crude but essentially correct. You must continue to follow the rules while you
are mortal or you will be denied your reward. You have already earned heaven
but the added reward is a special accommodation for your service both
physically and spiritually. That can be taken away if you break too many
rules.” Ephiny responded.
looked at Xena and smiled when Xena tried to look innocent. “As long as my fate
is the same as hers… I don’t care.” Gabrielle answered Ephiny.
“So what do
you choose?” Michael needed a clear answer.
Gabrielle were still looking at each other. Gabrielle glanced at the wings on
Xena’s back and then at their family and friends that surrounded them. Xena
didn’t need her to speak. She knew exactly what Gabrielle wanted, and what
Gabrielle wants Gabrielle gets. Xena turned to look at Ephiny. “I guess you’ll
be hanging onto our wings for a while. We’re staying.” She smiled because she
knew that it felt right.
are you sure that you want to gamble so much?” Michael asked.
how many times have I gambled my life on her? You should know by now that I
would gamble it a million times… or once… every time, because I believe in her.
I have since the moment that I set eyes upon her for the first time. Where Xena
goes, I go and in this case… we stay.” She smiled at the Archangel. She knew
that he meant well. He and Xena just didn’t see eye to eye on most anything
except her. It was kind of like the way that she and Ares didn’t get
“As you wish
Gabrielle.” When Michael spoke Xena and Gabrielle were both changed back into
their original clothing. Their wings were gone.
tell me please before you go… is Aphrodite still around?” Ephiny nodded but
Gabrielle continued before she could speak. “How about Odin and Grinhelda and
Hathor are any of them still around?” She was on a mission.
Gabrielle, yes they are all still around and unlike Ares they still retain some
of their godlike abilities. If you call for them if they wish they can respond…
except Grinhelda of course but you understand.” Ephiny knew that she simply
wanted to say hello to old friends.
happen if they left Earth?” It was an odd question.
lose his immortality and his powers; Grinhelda’s immortality is bound to
Odin’s. Aphrodite and Hathor may travel from Earth any time they wish.” Ephiny
said without explanation and then told Gabrielle that she had another duty that
she must tend to and after a quick kiss on the cheek for her friends she was
good luck and left without another word.