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Burnt Offerings

by Caren Adams (boobookitty)
cradams@ican.net


Scene: A gathering at the Pub; an average Friday night. The bard-tender, BlacWolvz, sets out a tray of Darks for a crowded table in the far left corner. Okie smiles at BlacWolvz and picks up the tray to deliver to the table. Okie and BlacWolvz are working the night shift at the Pub.

"Hey, heads up! Darks cominí through!" Okie yells through the din of the crowded Pub. She heads to the table in question and smiles cheerfully at the gathering.

"Aha! Darks have arrived! Okie, you are a dear!" GaeaGoddess grins at the arriving Okie.

"Why, thank you, Gaea." Okie beams.

Garnet, Emartin(TOAO) and Candidusg smile their thanks to Okie as they pick up a mug each. Scauwen and Lasha sit across from eachother, smiling dazedly into one anotherís eyes. They donít even notice Okieís arrival.

"Have they been like that since they sat down?" Okie asks with a grin.

Emartin(TOAO) shrugs, "Yes, but can you blame them? It is not often they arrive at the same time." She leans back on her chair and gazes at the couple. "Kind of sickening, isnít it?"

Gaea, Okie, Candidusg and Garnet nod, and then they all laugh heartily. Okie removes the empty tray and makes a path back to the bar.

"Busy tonight." BlacWolvz says as she dries off a glass.

"Yep." Okie replies. She takes a moment to lean against the bar and look around. I have a feeling, though, Blac. A mighty powerful one."

RemyMartin overhears this and turns her attention to Okie.

"What do you mean, Okie?" RemyMartin asks.

"Just a feeling. Like somethingís going to happen. Something big." She shrugs and shakes her head. "Ah, itís probably just the smoke." She waves her hand in the direction of AmberDragon, lounging on a couch while intermediately flaming the fireplace.

RemyMartin shivers and nods hesitantly. "Yeah, thatís probably all it is." She reaches for her Dagger Daiquiri and gulps it down.

At another table, Picante, Keewee, G Force and Boobookitty all sit, awaiting OGRA_BARDís tale. Her bardic talents are well known around these parts, but sheís modest and humble. Okie slides into a chair and listens to OGRA_BARDís story.

As soon as OGRA_BARD opens her mouth to begin her tale of angst, the door entering the Pub swings open with a bang.

"What?" Okie stands up, startled at such a noisy entrance. "Who?"

"Come on, Gabrielle. Iíll grab a table." A deep and commanding, but feminine, voice bellows out into the now silent Pub. Xena walks in and eyes everyone, but without moving her head from side to side. Her leather is dusty and well worn from an obvious long journey.

"Coming, Xena." Gabrielle walks in and turns her head this way and that to check out the scene. "Busy. And quiet." She says with a small smile.

"Yes." Xena says as she sits at a table, with her back to the wall. She can observe the entire goings on from this vantage point. Gabrielle sits next to her, looking uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the other patrons.

BlacWolvz is busy drying more glasses, and doesnít give the newcomers any extra attention. Business is business. Okie straightens up and starts walking over to the newcomers table. When the other patrons notice Okieís advancement, they resume their conversations. Soon, the Pub is lively again.

Xena watches Okieís procession. Her startling blue eyes relaxed. She smiles faintly as Okie stops at their table.

"Hello, travelers. What can I get you?" Okie says cheerfully. Any residual feelings of unrest visibly gone.

"Ah, Iíll have water. A big mug full, please." Gabrielle says with a bright smile for Okie. Okie nods and looks to Xena.

"A Dark, please. And bring us whatever meal you have on special." Okie nods her again, and Xena says her thanks. Okie goes to the bar to get the drinks and place the food order.

"Wonder what Xenaís doing here?" Okie asks while looking over at Xena.

"Getting a drink and something to eat?" Blac says with humour in his voice.

"Hahaha. Funny." Okie says with a smirk. She shrugs and gets the water and Dark.

"Here you go." Okie places the water in front of Gabrielle and the Dark for Xena. "You get a complimentary plate of nutbread with your order. Enjoy." Okie gets a big smile from Gabrielle and a small one from Xena, and then walks away.

"My goodness - I am starved!" Gabby tears into the nutbread and Xena raises a quizzical eyebrow at her.

"You are always hungry, Gabrielle."

"And you never seem to be, Xena." Gabrielle chuckles and bites into her nutbread. "Oh, but this is delicious." Xena sips at her Dark and watches her surroundings.

"Do you think Hera will sick her Enforcers on us?" Gabrielle asks, causing crumbs to sputter out of her mouth.

"Well, I hope not. Hercules painted a vivid picture of what they can do. Your staff would be a tooth pick to them." Xena sighs and looks to her friend. "Youíve been through enough as it is, my friend."

Gabrielle closes her eyes and nods slowly. "Yes. I have. But, Iím trying to live each day as it comes. Donít bring him up. Please, Xena. It was good to go home for a while. Be surrounded by Perdicusí friends and my family. Right now, I just want to be able to smile."

Xena smiles sadly and nods her assent. "Done. Just know that I am here for you, Gabrielle."

"I know." Gabrielle smiles at Xena and they share a mental hug.

"Anyways. Hercules warned us that Hera is becoming desperate to get rid of him. He just hopes Hera doesnít include us in her battles." Xena sighs and shakes her head. "If Hercules needs me, Iíll help him. Otherwise, Iíll stay out of that battle."

Gabrielle nods assent and checks out the dragon on the nearby couch. "Wow." Her eyes widen as the dragon lets loose a small flame towards the fireplace. The dragon then leans back on the couch and a slight snore escapes its large mouth.

"Thatís AmberDragon." A voice beside Gabrielle says. She turns to see a young woman sitting at the next table.

"Oh, hi! Iím Gabrielle."

"Hello. Iím Peace. The dragon - thatís her name." Peace smiles and nods towards the sleeping dragon. "Sheís our resident fireplace warmer. Every pub should have one. But, weíre famous for having her."

"Oh. Amazing. I should find out more about her. And maybe the rest of you as well!" Gabrielle smiles contentedly as ideas form inside her head for a new bardic tale.

"Yes. We are a bunch of Nutballs here. You would find us all pretty interesting." Peace grins and turns back to her friends Mizaru, Ephany and Greenmt.

"Hmmm. Xena, Iím glad we stopped in here. Friendly people and interesting sites. What a nice diversion!" Gabrielle beams at Xena, who smiles warmly at her friend; glad that she finds some happiness.

"CRRRASHHH"

Xena gets up as soon as the wall started trembling. The crash from the wall falling brings everyone to their feet. Except AmberDragon, who blissfully sleeps on.

"Gabrielle - stay at my side."

Gabrielle nods and watches warily as a shadowed form comes forth from the fallen wall. Her staff is secure in her hands. Xena unsheathes her sword and waits.

Xena and Gabrielle notice many of the patrons have taken a defensive stance with whatever weapons they might have. Whoever the unwelcomed guest is, he or she will have a hard time getting out of the pub in one piece. Xena smiles coldly. Gabrielle frowns.

"Where is Xena!" A forceful female voice bellows from the shadows. The figure can be seen now, as she walks through the hole. Bright red hair in a brush cut crowns the woman. She wears metal sheets all over her torso and upper thighs (reminiscent of the Tin Man). She has a maniacal way about herself.

"Gabrielle. Thatís the Enforcer. Hera has brought her back, just as Hercules warned us."

"She looks crazy."

"Yes. She does." Xena grins and lets out her famous war cry while she flings her body through the crowded Pub and into the space that surrounds the Enforcer.

"Xena? Silly me, of course you are! I can see the burnt remains already!" The Enforcer laughs evilly and then sucks in a deep breath. When she exhales, fire breathes our of her lungs.

"Ugh." Xena back-flips out of the way. The heat is intense. Furniture has caught fire, but the others are looking after that. "What are you hoping to accomplish here, Enforcer?" Xena asks with a wry smile on her face.

More laughter peels from the Enforcerís thin lips. "A little destruction here, a bit of pain there." She cocks her head to the left and spits some fire at a fly, frying it instantly. "Canít a girl have some fun?"

"Only if you behave." Xena says with that same wry smile.

"No fun!" Again, the Enforcer laughs.

Xena catches movement out of her left eye. She knows the people in the tavern are mounting an attack. She grimaces at the thought of townspeople trying to beat an Enforcer. Even Hercules almost lost. She frowns at that thought, realizing she doesnít want Hercules to ever lose a fight.

"The locals are restless, Xena. Will you lead them to their fiery death?" Again, a burst of annoying laughter grates through the Enforcerís mouth.

Xena lunges at the Enforcer, her sword at the ready. She steps in closer. The Enforcer breathes out fire and Xena reflects the flames with her sword. Gabrielle stays behind, but her staff is at the ready.

"Psst." Gauntlet tries to get Visitorís attention. Visitor hears the noise, and looks around. Visitor sees Gauntlet and moves over to the bar, where the other man sits.

"Are we thinking the same thing?" Visitor asks with a grim look on his face.

"I think so. How do you think we can overtake this Enforcer?" Gauntlet asks.

Visitor shakes his head and looks around. "Use whatever special talents we Nutballs have. We canít get in the way of Xena though. So, letís wait for an opening and then attack. Get information from everyone on what strengths they have, and then we will mount an all out attack!"

Gauntlet grins at Visitor. "Gee. Have you done this before?"

At that moment, a pale comparison of Xenaís war cry bellows out. "YiyiYideeYiYipYipeeee!" A man with what resembles a tin garbage lid on his chest stumbles through the portal the Enforcer made.

"Joxer." AvondaleGuy says with a sad shake of his head. Ariana and Starfrost fight their guffaws at the sight of Joxer with his sword held high.

"How in Hades did he get into the script?" BlacWolvz asks pensively.

"Never worry, people of this small but very nice town!! Joxer the Dexterous is here!" Joxer dashes in and stands next to Xena.

Xena eyes Joxer with eyebrow raised questioningly. The Enforcer even stops her spitting to look over the newcomer. Gabrielle shakes her head and rolls her eyes.

"Joxer. I think this one is out of your neck of the woods." Xena says with a sidelong look at the Enforcer.

"Iím here to help, Xena!" At that, Joxer waves his sword at the Enforcer. "I pity the fool who messes with me!"

The Enforcer cocks her head to the left and then to the right. She takes in a deep breath and exhales.

"Look out!!" Xena grabs Gabrielle and brings her to the ground and rolls out of the way. "Joxer! Move!"

"Why? Itís just an illusion." Joxer arrogantly stands his ground with a lopsided grin on his face. As he starts to feel heat emanating from the flames, he squeals. "Isnít it?!"

"Oh no!!" Gabrielle says from her sprawled state on the floor as the flames envelop Joxer. She turns her face away.

Xena stands up and shields her face from the heat of the sizzling Joxer. In a matter of seconds, all that is left is the rattling of Joxerís circular plate of armor that once covered his chest.

"Cool." Hoosier Man says as he eyes the situation. "I never thought that stupid plate of armor was good for anything, but look at that - it withstood the Enforcerís fire." He grins and slaps Gauntlet on the back comradely. Gauntlet nods his assent.

"Iím going to have to kill you now." Xena says with a grin.

"Go ahead. Make my day." The Enforcer throws back her head and gleefully laughs as Xena charges her.

Okie walks over to Starfrost and whispers something in her ear. Starfrost nods and they start to move towards the fight. Their eyes glow red, and their bodyís start to writhe. They jump into the air with a roar. Fangs and claws unleashed, they leap onto the Enforcer.

"Rrrroar!!" Starfrost digs her two inch long nails into the surprised Enforcerís right shoulder. Okie follows with a bite to the Enforcerís left calf.

"Aagghh!!" The Enforcer cries out and grabs Starfrost by her legs and tosses her through the Pub. Starfrost lands with a dull thump after knocking the nearby Chillin Mike to the ground.

Okie howls at her friendsí suffering and in that moment, the Enforcer grabs hold of her and knocks her aside. Okie is flung away, narrowly missing Gabrielleís crouched figure.

"Bacchae!" Xena says through clenched teeth. "But, how?" Xena takes the opportunity presented to her and takes a leaping jump at the Enforcer. "Aiyyiyiyiyiyiyiii!" She uses all of her body weight on the Enforcer and knocks her to the ground.

"Way to go, Xena!" Gabrielle yells out with fist held high, while bent over Okie. Gabrielle tentatively checks out the unconscious Okie, wary of any claws or fangs.

Xena rolls off the Enforcer and grabs the hilt of her sword. She slid the sword to this spot before slamming the Enforcer.

"Too late." The Enforcer exudes a flame at Xena. The flame hits Xena on her back, and she falls to the ground.

"XENA!" Gabrielle yells out as she sees the flames lick her best friendís back.

"Okay, I think itís time for us to get into the action." Xenasister says with a gleam to her eye. She looks at Xenshade and Xenaaddict for compliance.

"Letís do it." Xenshade says with a grin.

"Itís about time." Xenaaddict puts her hand to the hilt of her broadsword and unsheathes it. Xenshade grabs two daggers from concealed scabbards. Xenasister flashes a wicked grin and unleashes her whip.

"Aiyyiyiyi!" Xenasister charges forward with whip spanking the ground in intervals. Xenshade steps in beside Xenasister with daggers dancing in her hands. Xenaaddict falls in step with her sword at the ready.

"Fools." The Enforcer spits. She double flips to meet the oncoming attack and then kicks out with both legs arrow straight. Xenshade gets caught in the attack and is slammed to the ground. Xenasister lashes out with her whip and catches the Enforcerís legs. She yanks back, forcing the Enforcer to fall.

Xenaaddict follows through with a slash of her sword. The point hits the Enforcer in the left arm.

"You stupid Xena followers! Your sword does little to hurt Heraís weapon!" She laughs her grating laugh and thrashes Xenaaddict with a single punch. The Enforcer grabs the whipís end and yanks it towards herself. Xenasister is pulled forward at such a speed, that all the Enforcer has to do is let go of her end and watch Xenasister fly. Xenasister lands against the far wall.

The Enforcer has become enraged and she rampages through the Pub, flaming anything that gets in her way.

Gabrielle is by Xenaís side and is cradling her friendís head on her lap. Xena is unconscious and breathing haggardly. Cochise, Peace, Keewee and Crju go to the fallen fighters.

5 Oclock Charlie, Gauntlet, Ephany and RemyMartin are putting out the fires that the Enforcer has caused. The Enforcer looks behind her and sees what they are doing and starts to run towards them.

"Look out!" 5 Oclock Charlie yells out. He leans against the bar and reaches out for something to use as a weapon.

"Here!" BlacWolvz hands him a bottle of alcohol. 5 Oclock Charlie grabs hold of it and tosses it. It hits the Enforcer square on the face and she screams out, holding her face with her hands.

"What a great bar brawl!" 5 Oclock Charlie exclaims while brushing his sweat-dampened hair out of his eyes.

"Run!" RemyMartin yells, grabbing Ephanyís hand and yanking her out of the way. Gauntlet swears under his breath, wishing he had his invisible shield with him.

Roo, Deanlu and Ser Virgo are tending to Xenaaddict and Xenasisterís wounds when they share a look between eachother.

"I think itís time for some seasoned warriors to do battle." Roo says with a raised eyebrow. "We are still healing from our last battle, but we have experience on our side." Deanlu says with a nod of the head. "Si. Let us go do battle, mis amigas." Ser Virgo takes her sword in hand and searches for an opening to attack the Enforcer. Roo straightens out her boobie armour and Ďpopsí out her breast dagger. Roo grins as she handles the dagger with the ease of a trained warrior. Deanlu smiles at Rooís rejuvenated energy. Deanlu takes out her weapon of choice tonight; a spear.

"Yoohoo!" Deanlu yells out with a wicked grin. They wait for the Enforcer to turn around and see them before they launch their attack.

"What!?" The Enforcer doesnít get a chance to respond any further than that because as soon as she turned, Ser Virgo dashed in, slicing the air with her mighty sword.

Roo aims her dagger and throws. "Bullseye!" She yells out when the dagger hits the Enforcer in the stomach. A rage of redness bubbles up where the dagger landed. The Enforcer screams, then removes the dagger. The hole the dagger left quickly seals shut, but the Enforcerís stomach is aflame.

"Your steel does little to harm me, wimps!" The Enforcer cries out with a cocky grin on her face.

"Wimps?" Deanlu repeats. She grabs her spear tightly in her hand and screams out, "TXM Enforcer/bard/CUFFS doesnít take lightly to being called a wimp!" The Enforcer moves too late out of the way, and Deanlu rams straight on into the enemyís belly.

"AAGGHHH!!!" The Enforcer is left standing with Deanluís spear in stuck deeply into her belly. Deanlu looks around for something to make the wound worse. Gabrielle comes up beside Deanlu with a glass of alcohol in her hand. Deanlu looks at Gabrielle with a quizzical look on her face.

"What are you going to do with that? Get her drunk?" Deanlu asks with a shrug.

"No. This." Gabrielle downs the drink and grabs a nearby candle. She exhales a gust of alcoholic air, causing the candleís small flame to act as a torch.

"Xenaís flame throwing trick!" AvondaleGuy says with a startled look.

"Always wanted to do that. But, the writers never let me." Gabrielle says with an impish grin. Everyone watches the flames take hold of the spear in the Enforcerís belly.

The flames enter the Enforcerís stomach and she goes to her knees with a look of agony on her face.

"I just de-lurked to say good job!" Ambrosia whispers in Deanluís ear. Then, without further ado, Ambrosia turns back into the Lurker.

OGRA_BARD, Picante and Boobookitty step forward. "Is this the end?" OGRA_BARD asks tentatively.

"I hope so." Picante responds. "This chick is getting on my nerves."

Boobookitty looks for Visitor. When she finds him, she whispers something in his ear. He nods. "Wonder twin powers activate!" Boobookitty and Visitor cry out in unison while their fists are locked together.

"Wait a sec!" AvondaleGuy cries out as he runs towards Boobookitty and Visitor. "Iím a Wonder twin too!" He joins his fist with the others.

"Okay, okay." Visitor makes room for AvondaleGuy. "Wonder triplet powers activate!"

"In the form of an iceberg!" Visitor cries out.

"In the form of a mountain goat!" Boobookitty yells.

"In the form of a yodeler!" AvondaleGuy yells out, causing his comrades to look at him with raised eyebrows.

Visitorís form is hefted upon Greenmtís mighty mountain shoulders and Boobookitty leaps sprightly upon Greenmt. And AvondaleGuy climbs up on Greenmt and starts yodeling.

"I think things just took a turn to the realm of complete insanity." Candidusg whispers to Scauwen and Lasha.

"What, and it wasnít there before?" Lasha flashes her famed bright warm smiles. "Weíre Nutballs. What else did you expect for a battle scene?"

Greenmt moves forward slowly. The Enforcer is on her knees, holding the very apparent hole in her stomach. She feels the vibrations through the floor as Greenmt makes her way forward. The Enforcer then covers her ears when she hears he yodeling.

"Hey! AvondaleGuy - keep it up. It seems to really annoy her." Boobookitty says while leaping here and there.

"Okay, Greenmt. I think we are in position. Aim me right on top of her." Visitor says. Greenmt starts lowering her great girth, and then *sproing*, she pushes Visitor with a mighty shove.

"Yipppeeee!" Visitor yells out as his iceberg form is in midair. He lands exactly on target.

"Help me, Iím melting!" The Enforcer cries out as Visitorís form squishes her underneath his frozen form.

"Right on!" Chillin Mike says as he watches the scene next to him. "A definite Kodak moment."

Boobookitty and AvondaleGuy, the latter still yodeling, dash to the now melting form of Visitor and touches him with their fists.

"Wonder triplet powers de-activate!" The now humanoid figure of Visitor is sprawled over top of a gooey mass of a lava-like substance.

"Gross." Visitor says as he is helped up by Boobookitty. "And, by the way. A mountain goat?"

Boobookitty blushes. "Iíve always wanted to be a mountain goat for an episode." She giggles self-consciously and Visitor sighs heavily.

"Well, I guess itís better than a yodeler." Visitor says as he looks at AvondaleGuy.

"Hey." AvondaleGuy says with hands raised. "It annoyed her, right?"

OGRA_BARD comes up and gathers Boobookitty in a big hug. "I was so worried about you!" Boobookitty returns the hug gratefully.

"Thank you, Ogra. Teddy Bear hugs for you."

"Are things back to normal?" Okie asks. Cochise looks down at Okieís bruised body.

"I guess so. But, Okie, what is normal?" Cochise smiles and Okie starts to laugh. Soon enough, many voices can be heard joining in on the laughter.

"Wh, what ... happened?" Xenaís voice rings out. Gabrielle runs to her friendís side and crouches beside her.

"Xena! Oh, thank the Gods! Well, you missed the battle! Oh, it was grand-scale! Iíll have to put it together as a story. Iíll fill you in later. But, The Enforcer has been destroyed."

Xena cocks an eyebrow. "Really? How?"

"Well, after many attempts of thwarting her, Deanlu threw her spear into the Enforcerís belly and then I did the flame-throwing trick, which caused an internal explosion of sorts. Then, Visitorís iceberg form melted the Enforcer!" Gabrielle recites this in a rushed and excited voice.

"Ah. I ... see." Xena gets up, a little light-headed and looks around. The Pub is full of mini fires, scattered all over the place. Tables and chairs have been reduced to cinder and broken glass litters the ground. Bruised, bleeding and battered warriors lean on one another or are lying on the ground. "So, Gabrielle. You did that flame throwing trick, hmmm? I thought I told you never to attempt that one. Itís dangerous."

Gabrielle shakes her head and grins. "Itís nice to have things back to normal." Xena raises her eyebrow and smiles wearily back at Gabrielle.

BlacWolvz picks up a glass and starts wiping it with a cloth. She eyes Okie limping towards her. "You want a drink?"

"Yep. Make it a double ..." Okie slumps on a stool.

"So, Okie, you were saying something about having a feeling ...?" RemyMartin says with a grin.

"YAWWWN." Everyone turns at the sound emanating from near the fireplace. They all see AmberDragon stretching and wiping her eyes. "Whatís that glorious scorched smell I have caught wind of?"

THE END

By boobookitty/Renca/Caren


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