Convert this page to Pilot DOC Format
Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Melinda Pappas, Janice Covington and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the (c) copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts scenes of graphic violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
You may find it useful to read my other story "Vengeance Springs Eternal" before reading this one. It will explain more thoroughly the presence of one of the characters found herein, as well as certain other events mentioned along the way.
As always, I appreciate comments on my stories. Let me know what you think.
Xena: Warrior Princess
WRATH OF THE WAR GOD
By: Fu Bard
|Ch. 1-9||Ch. 10-17||Ch. 18-28|
CHAPTER 10: INTO THE WILD BLUE YONDER
They made their way across the open ground toward the bomber, watching for German soldiers as they went. The men they saw seemed shell-shocked and more eager to get assistance than to notice a trio of strangers. It took only a few moments for them to get to the revetment. A single guard challenged them as they approached, but the Colonel was ready, and a quickly thrown knife ended the German's life before he could sound an alarm. Colonel Moe dragged him behind a pile of debris as Jan helped Mel into the bottom hatch at the front of the B-17. She turned and spoke to the Colonel. "What's the plan?"
"You said that you could fly, right?" he asked.
"I said I could fly a single or twin-engine plane," she replied, "but this thing is a four-engine monster. I don't know if I can handle it."
"Well you just get in and start the engines, then. I'll take the chocks from the wheels and make sure that the plane is still in good shape. Once we get ready to go, I'll take over. OK?" When Jan nodded assent, he moved over and began clearing the wheels and closing the other hatches.
Jan climbed up into the plane, finding Mel waiting for her just inside the portal. She lay her Thompson aside, closed the hatch behind her, and began climbing the short ladder which led to the flight deck. She was about to climb into the pilot's seat when, suddenly, a screeching shape leapt at her from the shadows! She grappled with it and fell backward, hitting the floor at the base of the ladder! Mel screamed as the shadowy form landed on her, momentarily grabbing onto her shirt, before disappearing into the darkness.
"What the hell was that?" Jan said, as she pulled her pistol.
Mel started laughing aloud as she realized what the strange attacker had been. "It was a monkey, Janice - a cute 'lil monkey."
Jan shoved her pistol back into her pocket, as she stared toward the shadows filling the rear of the bomber. "Yeah - real cute. It must be a pet of one of the crewmembers." She climbed back up the ladder and sat in the pilot's seat, strapping herself in and studying the myriad of switches, dials, and controls in front of her.
Mel sat down in the co-pilots position and took her pack off, sliding it underneath her seat. "Can you fly this thing, Janice? It looks awfully complicated to me."
"I'm just going to get it started," she replied. "The Colonel will do the flying." She proceeded to prime the engines and go through the pre-flight procedures. She hoped that she was doing it right, though this plane was far more complex than any she'd flown before. After a few moments, she reached over and adjusted the throttles, then punched what she hoped was the starter for engine one. The left outboard motor began to turn, slowly, then spun around, coughed out a wad of blue smoke, and roared to life. "I'll be damned," Jan said, as she reached over to start the next engine...
The Colonel had just finished checking over the plane and had cleared all the wheels when he saw the number one engine start up. "Good girl, Jan," he thought. That's when he saw the armed squad of soldiers run from the remains of a nearby building, shouting as they came. "Uh-oh." He took the safety off of his weapon and ducked behind a nearby pile of debris as he pulled the pin from the grenade he was holding...
Jan had three of the engines running now and was about to start number four, when she too saw the men running toward the plane. "Mel, go back and get that rear hatch open for the Colonel," she said, as she jammed the starter for the last engine. "Looks like he may have to get on board in a hurry."
"OK, Janice." The dark-haired woman climbed down the ladder and began making her way back through the fuselage, toward the rear hatch.
Moe saw the last engine start up, as the soldiers got within range. He tossed the grenade he was holding and opened up with his sub-machinegun. A blinding flash occurred among the Germans and several of them fell from the deadly shrapnel of the stick grenade! The hail of bullets the Colonel was unleashing cut down the rest before they could find cover! "GO JAN!" He shouted and waved the woman on, as an alarm began to sound from across the remains of the airbase. He ran to the rear hatch, which Mel was opening as he got to it. Moe tossed his weapon in and began climbing in behind it, just as the wheels began to roll.
Jan shoved the throttles forward and the giant plane lurched ahead, out of the revetment. She turned hard to the left, heading for the near end of the runway. She had to avoid several bomb craters and dodge through a field of debris on the taxiway, but as far as she could tell, the runway seemed relatively undamaged. Apparently the bombers had been trying to destroy the buildings and the parked aircraft, and had not targeted the runways at all. She increased the throttles and the plane sped up slightly, lumbering through the dark night.
Moe was just about to start forward, to take the controls from Jan, when he saw two trucks coming from the side, trying to cut them off. He moved to the right-hand waist gun position and checked to see that the fifty-caliber machine gun was loaded and ready. As the trucks approached, he cut loose with a torrent of fire. Red tracers spewed from the end of the barrel, streaming out and tearing into the lead vehicle! The heavy bullets riddled the truck and in seconds it was a blazing mass of fire as the fuel tank exploded from the effects of the incendiary rounds! Burning men leapt to the ground, rolling to extinguish the flames...
Jan reached the end of the runway and lined up for take off. She put on the pilot's headset and switched on the intercom. "Moe, get up here!" she shouted.
Meanwhile, the Colonel had dispatched the second truck - the heavy machinegun chewing it up as effectively as it had the first. More vehicles began approaching from several directions as the second truck blew up and rolled to a stop. He put on the gunner's headset. "Jan, I can't leave the guns. You'd better go ahead and take off!" A bullet whizzed through the skin of the plane, narrowly missing Melinda's head, as she sat huddled against the fuselage.
"Colonel, I told you - I can't fly this thing!" Sweat was pouring down Jan's brow as she waited for his reply.
"Well, Honey, you better learn how quick, or we're all dead!" He squeezed the trigger once more, trying to stop the captured U.S. jeeps he saw coming, carrying several soldiers each. One of them careened out of control, as his bullets punctured its tire. It rolled over and flipped, throwing its occupants headlong through the air!
"OK, you can do this," Jan thought. She lowered the flaps, shoved the throttles to the full position, and released the brakes. The plane began rolling forward, gaining speed as the powerful engines bit into the still, night air.
Meanwhile, unseen by the Colonel, a jeep pulled up alongside the left-hand gunner's door and a German soldier leaned over and pulled the handle, opening the hatch. As the jeep sped alongside the accelerating aircraft, he leapt inside, followed closely by two of his comrades.
"COLONEL - WATCH OUT!" Mel screamed, when she saw the men coming in the open hatch.
Moe turned from his gun just in time to stop the knife thrust that had been directed at his back. He grappled with the soldier, trying to keep the blade away from him, as they fought and tumbled toward the open hatch. The soldier he was holding fell back against both of his comrades, knocking one down and pushing the other out the door. The hapless man let out a scream as the pursuing Jeep ran over his body. Mel picked up the pistol that one of the German's had dropped and slammed it into the side of the fallen man's head! "Ah'm so sorry," she said, as he slumped to the floor of the plane, unconscious. Meanwhile, the Colonel knocked the knife from his opponent's hand and shoved him toward the open hatch. The soldier fell through the doorway, but at the last second, grabbed Moe's web belt, pulling him out as well.
The German and the Colonel both fell into the speeding jeep. Moe was on top and used his advantage to slam his fist into the man's face, breaking his nose and knocking him cold! The driver fumbled for his gun, but the Colonel pulled his pistol first. "Out!" he said, motioning to the side. When the soldier hesitated, Moe pushed him out and he rolled along the runway and lay still. The Colonel got behind the wheel and accelerated, trying to catch the plane, which had pulled far ahead by now. He saw Mel watching him from the open hatch. The plane was going too fast. He'd never catch it.
Jan saw the end of the runway approaching, so she began pulling back on the control yoke. The plane slowly began to rise from the runway, but just ahead, a large truck pulled into her path. The driver ran from the vehicle as the B-17 roared to meet it! Jan hauled back on the yoke with all her might and the plane raised up a little more. The left-hand tire struck the fabric canopy of the truck, ripping it away as the plane flew over! They cleared the end of the runway and were airborne at last. Jan took a breath, finally, then reached over to raise the flaps and the landing gear...
The Colonel stopped the jeep and watched the plane roar off into the sky as dawn began to show on the horizon. "Good luck, ladies," he thought, as he watched it go. Then he pushed the unconscious German out and took off into the desert. He'd circle around through the far end of the canyon, switch to the half-track, and make his way back to the Allied lines. "At least we got that damn thing away from the Nazis." He thought, as he watched the plane disappear from his sight...
CHAPTER 11: WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE
Jan had the bomber in a shallow climb, heading west toward the allied lines in Tunisia. She switched the headset back on and keyed the throat mike. "Colonel, are you two OK back there?" After a moment, she heard Mel respond to her question.
"Hi Janice. Ah'm OK, but the Colonel fell outta the plane. Ah think Ah saw him drive away in a jeep while we were takin off. Ah sure hope he's gonna be alright." Mel closed the hatch as she spoke to her friend.
Jan was very relieved to hear Mel's voice. "He'll be fine. If I know him, he's already on his way back to the American positions. Just get back up here and we'll decide what to do next."
"Alright Janice, Ah'm comin." Mel took off the headset and began to make her way back up toward the cockpit.
Behind her, the forgotten German soldier began to stir...
Mel made her way through the empty radio room and walked out onto the catwalk which led over the bomb bay to the forward section of the plane. She paused, briefly, to glance down at the single, huge bomb which hung below her... and that's when the soldier hit her over the head from behind! Melinda fell over the edge of the catwalk and landed heavily on the bomb bay doors below. The German looked over the side of the walkway, saw that she was unconscious, and continued on toward the forward area. Then he saw the label by a switch on the wall. It was written in English, but German had been hastily scrawled over the previous words. It read 'BOMB BAY DOORS - MANUAL OVERRIDE.' He looked down at Mel, still unconscious on the doors below him - and then he pulled the switch...
Jan was adjusting the throttles, trying to get the engines to run a little smoother, as she continued her slow climb toward ten-thousand feet - the maximum altitude that she could fly without going to oxygen. The plane suddenly slowed and she heard a loud thump. She looked at her instrument panel and saw a red indicator for the bomb doors. "Why would they have opened?" she thought. She keyed the throat mike again. "Mel, what's going on back there? Are you OK?"
Melinda hung from the lower edge of the bomb rack, her body dangling in the air beneath the open bomb bay. She'd woken up just as the doors began to part and managed to grab the metal bar as she started falling out. Her shoes came off of her feet and she watched them fall away and behind as she swayed back and forth in the turbulent slipstream! "JANICE, HELP ME!" she screamed. The soldier held on to the edge of the catwalk and stretched out, trying to step on Mel's fingers, as she hung helpless beneath him...
Jan heard a faint noise, as she listened for Mel's reply on the intercom. It sounded like her friend yelling for her, but why wasn't she using the headset? Jan set the auto-pilot and was about to go see what was wrong, when she caught sight of two small specks ahead of them - approaching rapidly! "Oh, shit!" she said, as she watched the pair of German fighters closing in...
Mel was desperately hanging on to the metal bar as the soldier tried to make her let go. He managed to step on the two small fingers of her left hand, but she held on despite the pain. "JANICE!" she cried again...
The two German fighters had been launched right after they'd gotten away with the B-17. Their superior speed enabled them to catch the lumbering bomber quickly, then they'd maneuvered around for a frontal assault. Before Jan could take evasive action to avoid them, the ME-109's opened up with their machineguns and sprayed the bomber with a deadly hail of tracer rounds. Bullets passed through the cockpit, destroying several instruments and ripping small holes in the fuselage! One bullet passed through Jan's hat, as it lay on the side panel, and another penetrated the co-pilot's seat and Mel's bag, grazing the stone of Seti, before exiting through the side of the plane. It knocked a small chip from the stone as it ricocheted away. When the sliver of emerald was knocked loose, the jewel began to pulse and glow brighter, filling the knapsack with a greenish, misty aura...
As Melinda hung on desperately, her body was suffused in the same greenish glow that filled her pack. Her eyes seemed to become blank, for an instant, and then focused once more...
Xena looked around her in amazement. She immediately realized that she was hanging in the air, far above the Earth's surface. The clothes she wore were very strange, a terrible, roaring noise filled her ears, and she marveled at the sight of one of the German fighters as it flew past, guns blazing! "Where in the name of Zeus am I?" she wondered, totally confused by her situation. She suddenly felt pain, as the German stomped on Mel's hand, (now Xena's), trying to dislodge her once more. Xena looked up at the man who was obviously trying to kill her. She was being attacked. Now that was something she knew how to deal with...
Xena swung backwards - flipping up to the catwalk. She landed on her bare feet and immediately kicked out, catching the surprised man in the side of the head with her foot as he tried to stand. He lost his balance, flailed around for a handhold, and grabbed the bomb-bay switch once more. It pulled toward him as he fell back, however, and he lost his grip - dropping from the plane as the doors began to close!
Xena watched him fall away from the plane, then the doors shut, blocking her view. She took off the strange metal and glass things on her face, slipping them into the pocket she saw on the front of her shirt. She looked around at all the unfamiliar equipment, then began to walk forward, toward where she heard the sound of movement...
Jan left the plane on auto-pilot and manned the engineer's top turret, as she saw the fighters preparing to make another run on the bomber. She stood up, looking out of the bubble canopy while she primed the twin fifty-caliber guns and spun them around toward the approaching planes. "Come and get it, you assholes," she muttered, as she took aim at the nearest one. Just as the pilot began firing, Jan opened up as well - the guns trembling in her hands as they spat a deadly stream of lead toward the onrushing plane. Bullets passed through the bomber, but the blond woman's shooting was good too. Slugs tore into the ME-109's engine and it began to belch black smoke. It suddenly burst into flames and rolled over, plunging toward the ground below! "YEAH! EAT SHIT, YA NAZI BASTARD!" Jan yelled, as she watched the other fighter zoom away - wary of the bomber now that his wingman had been shot from the sky. Jan climbed down, got back in the pilot's seat, and strapped herself in...
Jan heard Melinda's voice and looked back to see her friend sticking her head into the pilot's compartment, as she held on to the ladder. Her glasses were in her pocket and she stared at Jan with a look of confusion.
"Mel!" Jan said, her voice full of concern. "Where have you been? I was worried that something happened to you. What took you so long to get up here? Come sit down." She patted the co-pilot's seat and then reached back and took Xena's hand.
Xena moved up and sat in the chair. She had a confused look on her face as she stared at Jan. "Gabrielle, where are we, what is this thing we're in, and why are we dressed so strangely? What happened that I missed?"
Jan laughed, as she squeezed Xena's hand. "Good one, Mel. I guess if I'm Gabrielle, that makes you Xena - right?"
"That's right," Xena replied. "I am Xena."
Jan laughed at first, then it faded as she suddenly realized that Mel no longer had a Southern accent. Xena continued to stare at her with a serious expression. Jan looked over Melinda's body, checking for blood, and then reached up and felt her forehead. "Mel, it's Jan. Did you get hit - are you sick? What's wrong with you?"
Xena slapped Jan's hand away. "Am I sick? Gabrielle, you're the one that's acting weird. What happened to you?"
Beneath Xena's seat, the stone began to glow brightly once more. Now Jan's body was surrounded by the emerald glow and she stared blankly for a moment, then looked over at her companion...
"Xena!" Gabrielle tried to hug her lover, but found herself restrained by some sort of odd leather straps. She couldn't get out of this chair. She looked around at all of the dials and gauges, then noticed the view outside the window. The roar of the four engines was overpowering to her ears, which were from a much quieter era. "By the gods," she whispered. Looking back over toward Xena, she asked, "Where are we?"
Xena grabbed Gabrielle and embraced her, as well as she could with the bard strapped in, and then they exchanged a long, passionate kiss. The kiss went on for several minutes as the two women caressed and held each other the whole time. Finally, Xena sat back down, while still holding Gabrielle's hand. "I don't know where we are. The last thing I remember was fighting Ares and being pulled into that stone, then I was here - wherever here is." She looked down at the clothes on her body and those of Gabrielle as well. "Another thing," she began, "I don't think these are our bodies. A moment ago, you were calling me Mel and called yourself Jan."
"Oh, great," Gabrielle said, "more look-a-likes. That's all we need." She looked down and ran her hands over her new body. "It doesn't really feel any different, except for the clothes. So that isn't your body and this isn't mine - how weird."
"You think THAT'S weird," a voice said, from behind them.
They immediately recognized the voice as Rick's, though it seemed a bit high-pitched. They turned around to look at him - and saw the monkey sitting at the top of the ladder...
CHAPTER 12: A CHANGED WORLD
Xena and Gabrielle both stared down at the monkey for a second, then looked at each other and started laughing, hysterically.
"Oh, that's right," Rick/the monkey said, "have fun at my expense. I'll remember this."
The two women continued to laugh for a few seconds, then Gabrielle managed to speak, still chuckling a bit as she did. "Well... heh, heh - it is kinda funny, y'know. Joxer just thought he was an ape-man - you really are an ape." She and Xena began laughing all over again...
Rick just ignored them as he hopped up on the back of the chair and looked around. "Damn, I don't believe it. I never thought I'd fly in one of these old beauties."
Xena looked up at him. "Old? What do you mean?"
He climbed over to the window and looked down at the ground below them, then began looking over the cockpit. "This is a B-17 bomber - remember I told you both before about World War II? Well, this is one of the planes that the United States used to fight it. We must've been sent ahead to the future... Well, YOUR future. To me, this is about sixty years or so in the past." He looked at the clothes both women were wearing, then down at the hat lying beside Gabrielle. "Mel and Jan..." he said, quietly.
"Gabrielle, uh, I mean whoever was in her body before, called herself Jan and me Mel," Xena said. "You know who they are?"
Rick was examining his hands, and then pulled his tail up close to look at it. "God, this is weird... Uh, yeah - I do know who they are. They're your descendents who lived during this time. On the future TV show, there was an episode telling about one of their adventures. I guess you two must've been switched into their bodies. It happened to you in that show and I've read fan fiction where both of you were switched into their bodies. You don't happen to remember ever coming to the future and fighting Ares with Jan do you?"
Xena smiled at him. "No, I think I'd remember something like that."
"Well, it must happen sometime in your future - er, your past's future, that is."
While he was speaking, the eerie, green glow once more surrounded Gabrielle...
"What happened to me," Jan whispered, as she looked over toward Xena. "Mel, I had the weirdest feeling, I was floating in limbo, and you were there, I think... but I couldn't reach you, I..."
"It's Xena actually." The warrior said. "Mel must be trapped in the stone of Seti and I took her place, just as Gabrielle took your place a moment ago."
Jan gave Xena a look, not unlike the looks Gabrielle had often given her. "Right, Mel... you're Xena, I forgot. And I'm Adolph Hitler..."
"It's true," Rick said, as he scratched an itchy spot.
Jan glanced over at the monkey, her eyes wide with disbelief. "Did you hear that? That monkey can talk... unless I'm going crazy." She began to rub her forehead and closed her eyes.
"You're not crazy," Xena said. "I am Xena and he did talk. Only he's not a monkey - he's a friend of mine, stuck in a monkey's body. Ares trapped us all in the stone of Seti and, somehow, we've been released, at least for a time. We seem to be switching back and forth from there to your bodies, and vice versa."
Jan looked up once more. "This is just unbelievable. I mean, I know the Xena scrolls supposedly tell about gods and magic, but I always thought it was just stories."
The monkey jumped over onto Jan's shoulder. "So did I, until Velasca zapped me back into the past, a few months ago. Well, actually about 56 years from now. I'm really from the year 1998, to be exact." He glanced down, as something beside the pilot's seat caught his eye. Climbing down the side of the chair, he pulled an old newspaper from the space it had been stuck in. "Wow, a copy of Stars and Stripes - how cool!" Rick spread the paper out on the console, as Jan checked her instruments, making sure the auto-pilot was still functioning OK.
Xena leaned over and looked at the newspaper with him. She was amazed to discover that she could read it. "I can read this - how is that possible? I can't read your language."
"Or speak it either," the monkey added, "but, being in Mel's body and brain, you must be able to. Weird isn't it? Now you know how I felt when I found I could speak and read Greek because of Velasca's spell and I..." He stopped talking and stared at the print before him.
"THIS CAN'T BE RIGHT!" he said, loudly.
Jan just gave in to the madness and asked the monkey who could talk and was Xena's friend, "What can't be right?"
He pointed his paw toward a headline on the paper in front of him. "That's not the way it happened."
JUNE 4, 1942 - AMERICAN FLEET LOSES AT MIDWAY ISLAND - Carriers Hornet and Yorktown were lost, and the Enterprise severely damaged as the Japanese overwhelmed the valiant defenders of Midway Island. The remains of the US fleet fell back to the Hawaiian Islands, as the military began preparations to defend them from imminent attack...
"We WON at Midway!" Rick said. "It was the turning point in the war in the Pacific. We smashed the Japanese fleet and from then on the United States kept winning. What the hell..."
"Ares," Xena said. "He must've been able to influence things enough to change the course of history. Somehow, our being trapped must have allowed him to do this."
"Of course!" the monkey turned to look at Jan. "Do you remember Xena helping you to defeat Ares at a dig in Macedonia, back in 1940? You found the Xena scrolls and then Xena took Mel's place and..."
"I FOUND the scrolls?" Jan looked puzzled. "I was on a dig then, true, and I did meet Mel - but the tomb we uncovered was empty, and we didn't see Ares or the scrolls there. It was a total waste."
"That's it, then." The monkey jumped up and down on the paper. "Without Xena there to stop him, Ares was never sealed inside the tomb by the magic of the Eye of Hephaestus. I think I'll take this paper with us. I'll read more of it later and see what else is different." He rolled it up and stuffed it inside Mel's pack. Rick tried to sit still, but this body almost seemed to have a mind of its own. He began scratching again, as he felt a flea crawling on his back...
CHAPTER 13: AN AERIAL DUEL
Suddenly, the plane seemed to stagger, as a series of explosions came from behind them. The monkey flew across the cockpit, then grabbed onto the engineer's seat, as Jan fought to control the plane and Xena just held on. Smoke began to pour into the cockpit and flames could be seen coming from the rear compartments. Outside the window, the remaining German fighter streaked past, having fired a long burst from his twenty-millimeter cannons and riddled the bomber.
"WE'RE ON FIRE!" Jan yelled, as she started flying evasive maneuvers. "We need to get it put out or we're not gonna last long."
"I'll go see what I can do, but I don't know how much help I'll be in this body." Rick said, as he jumped to the ladder and scampered down to the lower deck.
"Just show me how I can help," Xena said. She climbed down the ladder and followed the monkey back toward the bomb bay.
When he arrived at the catwalk over the bomb bay, Rick saw that there were several holes in the side of the plane and a fire was burning in the bomb release mechanisms. Apparently the lubricants and wiring had caught fire from the explosions of the German shells. Looking around, he saw a fire extinguisher on the wall - but it was too heavy for him to lift.
"XENA, GRAB THIS RED THING!" He yelled, as he pulled the safety pin from the neck of the pressure bottle.
Xena took the extinguisher from the wall and he jumped up on her shoulder to try to explain what she should do. "What now?" she asked, over the sound of the crackling flames.
"Point the nozzle toward the fire and press this down," Rick said, showing her what he meant. "White stuff will spray out and put out the fire - just keep at it until the flames are gone." Xena did as he said, and in moments, the fire damping chemicals had extinguished the blaze.
They both had to grab something to steady themselves, as Jan made a sharp turn, trying to evade the fighter's next attack. "If only I could man the guns," Rick said, as he held on to the side of the fuselage. "We could fight back against that bastard and maybe give him a dose of his own medicine."
"What guns?" Xena asked. "You mean like the one you had in the past? Show me and I can shoot them. You taught me how, remember?"
Rick thought for a second. "Why not? The guns are a lot bigger, but they're not that different. COME ON!" he turned and ran on all fours, back through the radio room, toward the waist gunner's positions - Xena right behind him...
When they reached the gunner's area, Rick grabbed the inter-phone that Colonel Leager had used and put it up to his head. It didn't fit, of course, but by moving it from his mouth to his ear, he could manage to use it. "Jan, what's happening up there? Where's the fighter now?" he asked.
The blond adventuress shoved the control yoke down, diving as the fighter attacked from above. His bullets passed beside the cockpit as Jan hauled the plane over to the right during the dive. "The son of a bitch is attacking from above - wait, he's moving away now at ten o'clock."
"Tell us when you see him," Rick said. "I'm gonna watch too while Xena mans the guns and tries to get him."
"How can she? Guns weren't invented until centuries after her time?" Janice leveled the plane as she looked for the fighter again.
"It's a long story. I'll tell you about it later. Just call out a position if you see that fighter." Rick jumped up on the left-hand waist gun. "Xena, both these guns seem to be loaded already - that's good. Grab that handle and put your fingers over that thing there. That's the trigger - it's just different from the one on my rifle."
The warrior hefted the gun, swinging it around in its mount, as she looked out the view-port. "I aim like I did with yours - using this cross and dot to point with?"
Rick watched her handle the gun. She was such a natural with any type of weapon, that he couldn't help but admire her. "That's right - just lead him a lot, because he'll be moving incredibly fast. Other than that, it's just like..."
"...Like a crossbow," Xena finished, as she smiled down at the monkey before her. "I remember." She began watching again, looking for the enemy plane in the blue sky outside the port.
Rick hopped down and then climbed onto the right-hand gun. "I'll watch this side. If I see him, or if Jan calls in his position, I'll tell you where, and you can go from side to side as needed."
Suddenly, Jan's voice came over the intercom. "He's coming in at nine o'clock low!" She yelled.
"Xena, he's on your side," Rick said, "and he's..."
"Coming from below us." Xena finished once more. "I'd already seen him." She was pointing the gun toward the distant plane, tracking it as it came in to range. White flashes began showing on the fighter's nose and wings as he fired at the bomber. Xena pointed the fifty-caliber machinegun at the ME-109, following it and lining up the crosshairs. He was coming straight in, so she didn't lead much. She pulled the trigger and the gun roared in her hands, tossing casings out the side as red tracers spewed from the barrel, reaching out toward the incoming plane! Bullets began whizzing through the compartment that the warrior and monkey were in, as the German pilot found his mark! Xena kept hammering away at him, until he shot underneath the bomber, rocking it with the turbulence of his passage. She ran to the right-hand gun, as the monkey jumped to the floor.
"GET HIM, GET HIM!" Rick chattered, leaping up on her shoulder to watch, as she manned the gun.
"I'M TRYING!" she yelled, as she pulled the trigger, sending glowing tracers arcing out after the retreating plane. The pilot jinked to the left, and then rolled over - pulling up and coming around for another pass!
Jan yelled into the inter-phone. "HE'S COMING IN AT TWO O'CLOCK LEVEL!"
Rick adjusted the mike on his head, as he watched Xena tracking the fighter once more. "We see him, Jan."
Xena drew a bead on the plane. He was coming in much faster this time, so she led him a bit more. His guns began to flash and bullets started smashing into the outboard engine, causing it to smoke and run rough! The warrior pulled the trigger, concentrating on holding the gun steady...
Her aim was true. The heavy slugs ripped into the cockpit of the fighter, smashing the instrument panel and riddling the pilot's body with leaden death! He slumped forward over the control stick, as the plane began to dive toward the Earth below - trailing smoke and flame all the way.
"YOU GOT HIM, YOU GOT HIM!" Rick jumped up and down on her shoulder again, as they watched the plane fall away beneath them.
Xena allowed the gun to tip forward against its mounting, then sat down on the floor, leaning against the fuselage. "Interesting battles you people have in your time," she said, with a smile.
CHAPTER 14: ACCIDENTAL ANNIHILATION
They made their way back toward the front of the plane. As they walked across the catwalk in the bomb bay, Rick noticed that the bomb rack was swaying with the motion of the plane. He looked closer and saw that the bullets had apparently severed many of the supports, which held the bombs in. The single, huge bomb was knocking against the side of the bay. "That's a strange looking bomb," he said, "and the way it's moving around doesn't make me feel good. That fighter did a lot of damage in here." They walked on forward, then climbed the ladder back to the cockpit.
Jan was cutting back the throttles on the number four engine, trying to reduce the strain on it, after the damage it had received. Xena sat in the copilot's chair once more, with the monkey on her shoulder.
"Better strap yourself in," Jan said. "It looks like we may have a rough ride ahead, with this damaged engine."
Xena reached down and grabbed the buckles, but she couldn't seem to figure out the catches.
"Here, I'll do it," Rick said, as he began snapping the restraints around her.
Jan looked over to her right, once she'd gotten the plane back on auto-pilot. "So you're really Xena, and he's really a man from the future?"
"That's right," Xena replied. "I suppose my friend Gabrielle and your friend Mel are trapped inside the stone now, wherever it is."
"Look in that pack under you're seat," Jan replied.
Xena reached down and retrieved the canvas pack. Opening it up, she immediately saw a gleaming, metal circle. "My chakram!" She picked it up and began to caress the familiar metal.
"Yeah, we found it in the temple with the stone." Jan adjusted the throttle as the outboard engine began to cough once more.
The warrior set her weapon down and withdrew the glowing stone. She held it up to her face. "Gabrielle..." She said her lover's name quietly, as she stared into the depths of the glowing emerald.
She seemed lost in thought, so rather than disturb her, Jan turned back to her controls. "You know, the engine isn't the only thing damaged," the monkey said, as he picked at his foot. "The bomb racks are torn up too, and that funny-looking bomb is swinging loose. I sure hope it..."
"The bomb is damaged?" Jan asked, in a worried tone, looking toward the bay behind them.
"I don't think so," Rick replied. "But it sure as hell looks like it may fall at any minute."
"Oh damn," Jan's face went ashen. "The colonel told us that it's a new type of bomb that the Germans have developed - one that can destroy entire cities. Khali Schtowe also told us that..."
"CALLISTO!" Xena said, as she suddenly turned her head to face Jan. "What is she doing here? Maybe you'd better tell us all that's happened that we don't know about."
Jan settled back into the pilot's seat, gathering her thoughts, as they continued to fly toward Tunisia. "Well, Melinda and I came to Africa, to try to get the stone before the Nazis did..." She continued talking as they flew on over the barren desert below them. It took her the better part of an hour to fill them in on she and Mel's adventures, thus far.
"... And then you were suddenly in Mel's body. The rest you know." The blond woman adjusted course slightly, once she'd finished with her tale. Xena held the stone in her hand, as she contemplated the information she'd been given. "So this Khali Schtowe must be the descendant of the Callisto from my time - wonderful."
The monkey sat on Xena's shoulder and fidgeted with his tail. "That means the bomb back there is an atomic bomb, by the gods! Remember I told you and Gabrielle about them before, Xena. That thing is much smaller than the ones I've seen pictures of, but it could still wipe out a huge army - or a small city..."
"What's that?" Xena asked, as she looked out the window. A black puff of smoke had appeared in front of the plane and they flew threw it just as another appeared to replace it. Suddenly, the plane shuddered, as they heard a loud explosion.
"Anti-aircraft fire!" Jan exclaimed. "We must be getting near the German front lines."
Black patches began to appear all around them and bits of shrapnel peppered the plane - sounding like rain hitting a tin roof. They explosions moved in closer and closer as they flew along.
"They're getting our range." Jan said. She began to climb, jinking to the left and right to throw off the gunners. Suddenly, a massive blast rocked the plane, heaving it upward in the air! Jan fought for control, as they plane bucked and rocked - the controls jumping in her hands! Behind them, they heard a crash and the plane suddenly gained altitude and speed.
Rick jumped down from Xena's shoulder and looked behind them, into the bomb bay. All he saw was a massive hole where the bay had been.
"OH SHIT!" he shouted, then he jumped up on the console, chattering incoherently and waving his furry arms.
"What is it?" Jan asked, as she dodged to and fro among the flak.
"Th...th... BOMB dropped out!" he finally said. "We've got to dive to gain as much speed as possible before that thing blows. Hurry! If we don't get all the distance between it and us that we can, we'll be dead, if that thing goes off!"
Jan just smiled. "Rick, we're at ten thousand feet. It can't possibly hurt us up here."
The monkey began flipping over and over, while chattering insistently! He was so excited and pumped with monkey hormones, that he couldn't talk.
Xena grabbed Jan's arm. "I'd do what he says. Remember he's from the future, and he told Gabrielle and I that he'd read a lot about this kind of thing. If he says get out of here, I think we should."
Jan looked deep into Xena's eyes, seeing the conviction in them. She pushed the controls forward and rammed the throttles to full, as flak continued to burst around them...
Beneath the plane, the German gunners watched its rapid descent. "We got the Yankee schweinhundt!" the crew chief yelled. As they watched the plane dive away, they began to hear a shrieking whistle.
"Incoming!" one of the soldiers shouted.
"It is too far away to worry about," the sergeant said, as he continued to track the plane. He was still watching, when the unbelievably brilliant flash from the nuclear detonation blinded him. It seemed that the sun itself had appeared, briefly - illuminating the desert with the intolerable glare of atoms being wrenched apart! A gigantic, expanding circle of destruction roared across the desert - eliminating a huge part of the German Africa Corp as it went...
The trio in the plane saw the world outside become incredibly bright. They closed their eyes as the plane continued to dive and speed away from the blast. Beneath them, the shock wave moved outward and upward, approaching the bomber, which seemed to crawl away slowly in comparison.
Once the light had dimmed enough, they turned and looked out the window. A huge, glowing, mushroom-shaped cloud blotted out the sky behind them and the desert floor below was covered with dust and debris as the circle of destruction spread out from the blast!
"By the gods," Xena whispered.
"I don't believe it," Jan mouthed.
"HOLY SHIT!" Rick exclaimed, as he jumped around beside the window.
Seconds later, the shock wave struck the plane...
To the occupants of the bomber, it seemed as if a giant fist had slammed into the fleeing aircraft. Had they not been strapped in, they would've been shaken around like popcorn in a popper. The plane was hurled upward, skidding sideways through the air as a terrible shrieking sound filled their ears! The very metal of the airframe was being flexed and screamed out in protest, as the shock wave passed! A horrible roar accompanied a violent blast of air, which streamed in through the hole in the bottom of the aircraft!
Xena noticed the monkey trying desperately to hang on, succeeding only by using both hands, both grasping feet, and his tail to keep a grip on the back of the copilot's chair. The wings were vibrating up and down, well beyond the tolerance levels they were designed for! Jan kept an eye on them, waiting for one to shear away as she fought the controls, trying to stabilize the plane and bring the nose up.
Just as the plane stopped vibrating and the wave passed, the green glow returned - this time surrounding both Xena and Jan...
Melinda realized that she could see once more. She was no longer floating in a featureless void, but was strapped into the seat of the B-17. She looked over at Jan, noticing that her friend seemed to have a look of confusion on her face - something that Mel had rarely seen. The dark-haired woman glanced over her shoulder to try and see where that strange light was coming from.
"Oh, my God," she whispered, as she watched the mushroom cloud churn and boil, changing colors and growing while she watched. She turned back toward her blond companion and spoke. "Janice, what is that back there?"
"Janice?" Gabrielle said questioningly, looking over at Mel. "By the gods, we've switched again. You must be Melinda." She smiled as she released the controls. When she did, the plane tipped even further, going into a steeper dive. "I'm not Janice," she said, as she extended her hand in introduction. "I'm Gabrielle and ..."
"...And I'm Rick, and my favorite color is red... SHIT! This isn't a tea party y'know - we're all gonna DIE if you don't pull us out of this dive!" He began yelling, as he jumped over to the back of the pilot's chair. "PULL UP, PULL UP!"
The ground below them was rushing up at a frightening pace and the wings were trembling with the strain of the dive as the airspeed indicator went off the scale.
Gabrielle looked over her shoulder at the frantic monkey behind her. "I can't fly this thing." She fixed her gaze on Mel. "You're from this time - you do it."
"Ah don't know a thing about airplanes," Mel said, as she gripped the edges of her seat, staring in surprise at the monkey who could talk.
"You're from this time and you can't fly this thing?" Gabrielle gave Melinda one of the looks usually reserved for Xena when she'd irritated the bard somehow.
"You're the one who was Xena's protégé," Mel replied, defensively. "You're used to danger and adventure - you do it!"
"YOU do it!"
"YOU do it!"
"Women..." Rick said, rolling his eyes and gazing up towards the heavens. By this time, he was hanging on for dear life as the G forces began to build. "BOTH OF YOU - GRAB THE CONTROLS!" he shrieked. "NOW!"
The two women gave each other a disdainful look, then reached out and took the yokes in front of them.
"Now pull back on them as hard as you can," Rick said, "and use your feet to keep those rudder peddles even - each one as high as the other." He watched to make sure they were doing as he said. The ground was approaching very quickly now! "PULL - PULL WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH!" he shouted.
Melinda and Gabrielle both hauled back on the yokes as hard as they could. The plane began to vibrate even harder as the control surfaces bit into the rushing air around them and the wings emitted shrieks of protest, but the nose began to slowly rise toward horizontal.
"That's it - PULL!" Rick shouted.
"WE ARE PULLING!" the two women screamed in unison, each giving the monkey a nasty look as they did...
The general had been called from his command bunker to observe the giant mushroom cloud that was still growing in the distance. He emerged from the entrance - just in time to see a B-17 streaking towards him in a power dive! He and his aids dove for the ground as the plane hurtled down, then leveled off - the propeller of one engine shredding the general's tent before the giant bomber began climbing slowly back into the sky!
His aids assisted him in standing - trying to wipe off the mud that he had landed in during his frantic leap for cover. He spat the crushed cigar from his lips and uttered a stream of vile curses - shaking his fist at the bomber as it disappeared over a low hill in the distance. "CODMAN - GET ME THE NAME OF THE SON OF A BITCH FLYING THAT PLANE!" he shouted, as he slapped his riding crop against his pants. "I'LL HAVE HIS ASS FOR BREAKFAST, GODDAMN IT!" He trudged away toward the observation post, drawing one of his ivory-handled revolvers and trying to clear the mud from it as he walked...
General George S. Patton, who believed himself a reincarnated warrior, would have appreciated the irony - had he known whose sidekick and descendant had caused him to leap into that puddle...
CHAPTER 15: SICILY - THE HARD WAY
"WE DID IT!" Gabrielle shouted.
"WE SURE DID!" Melinda replied - her voice full of exuberance.
"Pretty good for a couple of women who can't fly, huh Rick?" Gabrielle asked, as she tried to get used to the feel of the controls. She glanced back behind her. "RICK?"
Mel turned to look as well. Behind them, the monkey was laying on the floor - unconscious.
"Men..." they both said, at the same time. Each of them smiled at the other and the bard grabbed Mel's arm, giving it a squeeze. "As I was saying, my name's Gabrielle and..."
He came to slowly, feeling the vibrations of the droning engines through the floor beneath him. He raised himself up and then climbed the back of the pilot's seat. Melinda and Gabrielle had been chatting for the entire half-hour that the monkey had been passed out. They watched him as he scrambled up the seat.
"I see you've joined us once more," the bard said, grinning at him. "I guess men just can't take the stress as well as we women, huh?" She winked at Mel.
"I must've been hit on the head by something," he said, defensively. "It could happen to anyone."
"Oh, sure," Melinda replied, with a smile. "We believe ya." She and Gabrielle exchanged a knowing look and then began to snicker.
"Ha, ha - you're so amusing," he snapped. "Where are we anyway?" he asked, trying to change the subject. Looking out the front window, he saw what appeared to be the ocean in the distance.
"How am I supposed to know?" Gabrielle asked. "We've been busy just trying to keep this airplane thing in the sky. Actually, it's kinda fun to fly, once you get the hang of it."
Just then, the green aura once again surrounded Mel, causing her to stiffen, then relax.
"Hi Xena," Gabrielle said. "I guess you're back with us for a while."
"Looks that way," the warrior replied, "but who knows for how long. We'd better find some way to undo what Ares has done - and soon."
"Just how are we supposed to do that?" Rick asked. "The only way we can would be to send us back to the past - well, you anyway. Do you know a way it can be done?"
Xena sat back, a thoughtful look on her face. "Before we came to see the Amazons, we went to the Oracle at Delphi. She told us that we should seek the stone of Seti, before Ares could find it. She also told us that it must be destroyed to set right that which had been wronged."
"She must've seen this future and been warning us that we'd have to change it," Gabrielle added.
"I think so," Xena replied. "What was it she said after that? Something about Hephaestus' forge, wasn't it?"
"Only when the stone is cast into the forge of Hephaestus, will the world be set upon the correct path once more," the bard said, recalling the Oracle's phrasing exactly. "I know that was her words, but where in Hades is that?"
"VULCAN!" Rick shouted, suddenly. "Hephaestus was called Vulcan by the Romans."
"Yeah - so what?" Xena asked.
"Vulcano - that must be it!" Rick jumped over to Xena's shoulder. "I've read a lot about volcanoes in my time, since geology is one of my hobbies. There's a volcano near Sicily called Vulcano, after the God Vulcan - who you know as Hephaestus. Legend has it that his forge is located under the volcano."
"So we need to throw the stone into this volcano to make things the way they were?" Gabrielle asked.
"That must be what the Oracle meant," Xena said. "We've got to get to this volcano. Where is it, exactly?"
"Uh, I dunno, exactly," Rick replied. "It's somewhere off of the north coast of Sicily on an island. Another thing - if this history is similar to that which I knew, then Sicily is in the hands of the Nazis right now."
"Oh, great," Gabrielle said, "from what Mel told me, those Nazi guys are..."
She stopped speaking, as her body became suffused in the pale, green light.
"Hello, Jan," Xena said, after a moment.
"This is really getting annoying," the blond adventurer replied. "In and out, in and out. I wish that damn stone would make up its mind. What's been going on since I left?"
Xena and Rick filled her in on the events since she'd last exchanged and told her of their ideas about the stone...
"Do you think you can fly us to this Volcano?" Xena asked her.
Jan studied the instruments for a few moments. "Hand me those maps behind you," she said, to the monkey. He scampered down and grabbed them, then handed them to her. She looked at them for a minute, then did a few calculations in her head. "I think we have enough fuel to get us there, or at least to Sicily, but the damn Nazis will shoot us out of the sky in this American plane - assuming it will even hold together long enough for us to make the flight."
"We can try to fly in under their radar," Rick suggested. "I've read about planes doing that. Just stay right on the water and then near the ground once we get there."
"It's worth a shot." Jan replied. "After all, what choice do we have? We can't let the Nazis take over the world." She handed the map back to the monkey and began making a turn - reducing altitude and heading out over the open sea. "If we can maintain this speed, we should get there about nightfall. There's one more thing though - where are we gonna land?"
"I guess we'll worry about that when we get there," Xena said.
"Somehow, I just knew you'd say that," Rick added. "Y'know, all I wanted to do was see Greece. I never thought I'd wind up battling goddesses, gods, and Nazis - then turning into a monkey and almost getting vaporized by an atomic bomb."
"What's the matter - I thought you'd always wanted to take part in our adventures?" Xena asked, with a sly grin.
"I did say that, didn't I?" He moved over to the window and looked back as the land began to disappear into the haze on the horizon. "If I ever go back to my time, I think I'm just gonna stick to watching Gilligan's Island."
They flew on toward Sicily, as the sun continued its descent toward the western horizon...
During the flight, Gabrielle reappeared for a time, then, just as they approached the coast of Sicily, Jan took her body back once more. She, Xena, and Rick were the ones present while the plane wave-hopped along toward the rocky shoreline...
"Damn! I don't think I'll ever get used to that," Jan said, as the emerald glow subsided.
"I wonder why I never switch?" Rick asked, as he scratched once more. That pesky flea seemed to be able to elude him no matter how many 'hands' he used. "Getting out of this body would be a relief for me, even if it meant floating in that timeless, formless limbo. At least in there I wouldn't have to worry about these fleas."
"I dunno," Xena replied, "maybe the stone has a sense of humor." She gave the monkey a big grin and patted him on the head. He resisted the urge to bite her finger as she did.
"We'd better start thinking of a way to land this crate," Jan added, watching the sun as it hit the horizon. "We're about out of fuel and there's no way I can land in the dark. Hell, I'm not even sure I could do it in the light. Maybe we should start thinking about bailing out?"
"That's an idea," the monkey said, "I see a parachute beneath your seat, but I haven't seen any others. Maybe someone should go back and check the rear of the plane to see if there are any back there?"
Jan glanced back at the huge hole in the bottom of the airplane. The connecting catwalk was no longer there. "Yeah - somebody who's really good at climbing." She and Xena stared at the monkey and both began to smile.
"When am I ever gonna learn to just keep my mouth shut," Rick mumbled.
"Well, you're the one who can climb the best," Xena said. "I mean, one of us could do it, but in your present form you'd have no trouble. We might as well take advantage of it, since you're stuck in that body and..."
"OK, OK - I'll go back and see - sheesh." He climbed down from the seat and scampered back to the bomb bay. He thought to himself as he began making his way along the side of the plane, jumping from one metal beam to another. "A Warrior Princess and a great adventurer in this plane, and who do they pick to do the dangerous stuff? Me." In spite of his grumbling, he had no trouble whatsoever in traversing the hole, then began to search the rear areas, looking for parachutes...
Jan and Xena were making small talk about the ancient Greek world, when the blond adventurer glanced back over her shoulder. "He's been gone for quite a while," Jan said, as she looked back toward the bomb bay. "Do you think he's alright?"
"He'll be fine," Xena replied. "If I know him, he's probably taking too long just to make us worry. Monkeys are great climbers and..." Suddenly, he jumped onto the rear of her seat.
"Well, I've got good news and bad news," Rick said. "The good news is, I found two more parachutes back there."
Jan turned to look at him. "And the bad news?"
"Both of them were damaged in the fighter attack" he replied. "One is shot to pieces and the other is partially burnt from the fire. Obviously, neither is usable though. If we jump, we gotta do it with one chute." He pointed to the floor below him, where a harness was lying. "I brought that, just in case. If we have to jump, one of you can strap on to the other and both jump with the one chute. From what I've heard, it's possible - it'll just make the landing harder."
"Well, we better decide quick," Jan said. As they were speaking, the number four engine began to sputter. It coughed a few times, then slowed to a stop. Immediately, Jan feathered the prop, fighting the uneven pull to maintain control. She reached over and shut down the number one engine as well, causing the plane to slow, but evening up the thrust once more. "I figure we've got maybe ten minutes flying time left - if we're lucky. We must've taken a hit in a fuel tank." She glanced out the window at the rugged mountain terrain beneath them. "I don't think landing is an option. We'd better both get into those harnesses." Jan looked over at Xena. "You'd better wear the parachute and I'll strap on to you. I think it'll work better with the bigger of us in the chute harness. I've had to jump a time or two myself."
She set the auto-pilot to do a slow climb and got up, grabbing the extra harness from the floor. She pulled the parachute from beneath her seat and gave it to Xena. "Take this - I'll show you how to put it on." They moved down to the lower deck and began to strap on the harnesses as the monkey watched the controls and made sure they weren't heading for a mountain. Before Xena put on the chute, she strapped her chakram to her side and slipped on a pair of shoes that she'd found under the engineer's seat. She'd been barefooted since Mel's shoes had fallen off while she was hanging beneath the bomb bay earlier.
Rick looked at the altimeter, which read just over eight hundred feet. "By now, they've picked us up on radar, so we'd better hurry. When we hit the ground, we'd better find a place to hide, because they'll probably be looking for us."
Jan strapped Mel's pack containing the stone of Seti, the extra ammo, and the old newspaper to her back. She slung the Thompson over her shoulder as well, then jammed her hat down into the pack and strapped her whip to her side once more. Facing Xena, she began to buckle their bodies together, showing the warrior how the catches operated while she did. She checked all the fasteners once again - reaching around Xena to make sure all was in order. As she did so, she couldn't help but notice the lingering smell of Melinda's perfume and the feel of the body beneath her hands. It wasn't Mel in it right now, but that didn't change the attraction she felt toward her friend. She suddenly felt extremely awkward, strapped chest to chest with Xena.
Xena noticed the sudden difference in Jan's behavior and smiled inwardly. "Jan's in love with Melinda, just as I am with Gabrielle," she thought. "It's good to know that some things never change."
"We're coming up on a big valley," they heard the monkey call out. "I think we'd better get ready to go."
Jan looked up into Xena's eyes. "After we jump, we'll fall for a while, then I'll pull this," she said, indicating the ripcord. "Once I do, the parachute will open, and we'll drift slowly to the ground. Are you ready?"
"As I'll ever be," Xena replied, with a grin. "I once fell from the back of Hera's giant bird. I sure hope your parachute thing can catch as well as Hercules did."
The plane roared over the intervening ridge and the valley opened up below them. Jan and Xena moved over toward the gaping hole in the plane's bottom. "Come on, Rick," Jan said. "Let's go!"
He scampered down from the flight deck and jumped up between them, grabbing on to the straps with all four hands and his tail. "I'm ready - I think." Suddenly, his stomach didn't feel so good, as he looked down at the ground, now over a thousand feet below them.
At that moment, Jan's body was surrounded by the green aura of the stone of Seti...
Gabrielle looked into Xena's eyes, and then she looked down toward the ground going by beneath them. "SWEET MOTHER OF ZEUS! WHAT ARE WE DOING?" she screamed, over the roar of the engines and the rushing air beneath them. Her eyes were wide with terror.
Xena grinned back at her friend, knowing of Gabrielle's fear of heights. "We're jumping out. HANG ON!" she yelled, as she leaned sideways, causing them to fall from the plane. The slipstream caught them and they hurtled back behind the bomber, falling rapidly away from it as the plane continued on its course.
Gabrielle continued screaming as they fell rapidly toward the open farmland beneath them.
"PULL THE CORD!" Rick yelled, struggling to hold on. His stomach felt like it was still in the plane above them.
Xena took Gabrielle's hand, which still held the ripcord in a death-grip. In addition, the bard's arms were locked around the Warrior Princess like a vise.
"LET GO, GABRIELLE!" she shouted. "WE'VE GOT TO PULL THAT ROPE YOU'RE HOLDING!"
Gabrielle's eyes were tightly shut as she clung to her lover. "I CAN'T!" she screamed. "MY ARMS AREN'T WORKING!"
Xena finally just yanked the girl's hand away by brute force, pulling the ripcord as she did. The silken chute began to stream out above them, then the canopy blossomed, and, with a sharp jerk, their rapid plunge slowed to a gentle, slow fall. As they drifted down, Xena gazed around her with wonder. "Look, Gabrielle - this is really great!"
The bard continued to grip her lover tightly with her arms AND her legs - her eyes clamped shut the whole time. "I'm not looking until we're on the ground," she replied.
Between them, nestled snugly amongst their bosoms, Rick looked around at the land - which was rapidly being covered by the velvety cloak of night. He felt the warmth and softness surrounding him and began to relax. "Y'know," he thought to himself, "I could get used to this."
The trio continued to drift slowly toward a parked car, near a stand of trees...
CHAPTER 16: A NEW/OLD FRIEND
"You Schwein!" The Nazi officer struck his cowering prisoner across the face again. He'd been momentarily distracted by the bomber going overhead, but it had continued on, so he resumed his interrogation once more. "You zhink you can cheat ze German army out of funds, eh? Vell, let me show you vat ve do to scum like you." He reached into his holster, pulled out his Luger, and then motioned to the two soldiers. They hit the man in the back, causing him to drop to his knees, and then they held his arms once more.
Their bearded, balding prisoner looked up at his tormentor, forcing a smile as he did. "Wouldn't you rather take a look at the handmade silverware I have? It's one hundred percent pure and has a money back guarantee. I know you're upset about the car, but I could make it up to you. I could let you have the silverware at, say, half-price?"
The Nazi officer put his pistol to the man's head.
"OK, OK!" He begged. "I'll let you have it for seventy-five percent off and I'll throw in a free tea service. Please don't kill me! I have a wife and four kids - and I have a very low pain threshold. I used to get bruises when my parents just THOUGHT about spanking me!"
The officer cocked his pistol...
Suddenly, the Nazi was hit from above as two bodies bowled him over! The pair of guards released their prisoner and drew their weapons as a parachute drifted over them, blocking all of the figures from sight. A gunshot was heard, followed by the obvious noises of punching and kicking. The chute rippled and churned with movement as more sounds of fighting were heard from beneath it! Several more shots were fired and a few yells and grunts penetrated the silk, as it jerked and twisted around - then the parachute stopped moving and all was silent...
Near the edge of the chute, a figure emerged, crawling slowly away on his hands and knees in the fading twilight. He continued moving toward the parked car, when suddenly, a hand clamped down on his shoulder!
"DON'T SHOOT!" he screamed, raising his hands over his head, as he assumed a kneeling position. He slowly turned his head to look behind him.
He looked up at the attractive brunette above him. "Uh, Salamon Neseus - actually," he said. "Have we met?"
Xena smiled down at the familiar face, as Gabrielle walked up behind her, with the monkey on her shoulder. "Not in this lifetime," the warrior replied. She offered him her hand and helped him to his feet. "My name's Xena."
Salamon looked at Gabrielle and then back to Xena. "What do you mean - in this lifetime?"
"It's a long story," she replied. "Right now, we need your help. Can you get us out of here and give us a place to hide for the night?"
The wind sprang up, blowing the silk parachute off of the unconscious soldiers behind them. Salamon looked at them, then back to Xena. "Sure - no problem. Let's get out of here before any more of those goons show up." He walked over to the car and opened the passenger door, motioning Xena inside. He shut the door and then opened the rear one for Gabrielle. She tossed her pack inside, climbed in after it, and he closed the door behind her. Salamon got in himself, cranked the car and began driving off down the narrow dirt lane.
"This is too weird," Rick said, his voice drifting back down the road as they drove slowly away. "First, you meet Meleager's descendant, now the Salmoneus of the future."
Salamon's voice carried back weakly on the wind. "Am I crazy, or did that filthy creature just talk?"
"Who the HELL are you calling filthy?"
"No offense," Salamon said. "Y'know, a talking monkey could make us a lot of money. I could be your agent and we could go on tour. Just think about the possibilities..."
The car disappeared around a forested bend as the moon rose over the mountains in the distance...
CHAPTER 17: A SAFE REFUGE
They drove on for several hours, down back roads, making their way up into the mountains. Salamon told them that the safest place he knew was his employer's country home, which he was entrusted to watch while his boss wasn't using it. He was a little vague in describing his benefactor's line of work, saying only that he was a powerful man around these parts.
"So you work for a government official?" Xena asked, as they bounced along the rocky, steep-sided road.
Salamon rubbed his chin, then responded. "Not exactly. He's - well, let's just say he has a 'family' business, with a lot of government connections."
"He means that he's in the Mafia," Rick said, from his snug perch on Gabrielle's shoulder.
"Mafia? What's that?" Gabrielle asked.
"It's a group of people who run a large, organized crime ring," Rick said, as he yawned, revealing his sharp incisors.
Xena just shook her head. "The more things change, the more they stay the same. You're definitely the descendant of Salmoneus."
"There's something that just occurred to me. How come we can understand what you say to us? Are you speaking English?" The monkey stopped picking through Gabrielle's hair as he spoke. It seemed the longer he was in this body, the harder it was becoming for him to resist the natural behaviors it was used to.
Salamon glanced back in the mirror, as he replied. "Uh, yes. What does it sound like?"
"Oh, it sounds like English to me, but in my experience, that doesn't mean a whole lot," Rick replied. "How is it that a Sicilian speaks English so well?"
Salamon grinned back at him. "I'm a salesman, by trade - remember? I speak Italian, French, English, German, and a smattering of other languages. You never know whom you might be dealing with next - right? A good salesman is always prepared."
They rounded a bend, and a large, two-story house came into view. Thick, green creepers blanketed the rock face of the house and a low stone wall enclosed the yard. Tall trees covered the property and, beyond the wall, a dense forest cloaked the surrounding area. Wisps of steam could be seen rising into the air from the back yard, moving slowly away in the light of the moon.
"Where's that steam coming from?" Xena asked, as they pulled up in front of the house.
"Oh, that's the natural warm springs behind the patio," Salamon replied. "My boss had them channeled to fill his Jacuzzi."
"What's a Jacuzzi?" Gabrielle asked.
"It's a kind of hot tub," Rick replied, noticing the grin that Gabrielle got on her face when he said it and the subtle nudge she gave Xena, around the edge of the seat. "That's one thing that The Powers That Be sure got right," he thought. "These two are drawn to a hot tub like mosquitoes to a bug zapper."
Their bearded driver killed the engine, got out, and opened the doors for the two women. Once they were all out, he walked up the steps, and produced a large key ring. After trying several keys, he found the right one and opened the door. They walked inside and he quickly shut the door behind them, then turned on the lights.
The inside of the house was filled with beautiful, handmade furniture, and the walls were covered with elaborate tapestries and works of art. A crystal chandelier was hanging from the ceiling and a large wet bar filled the rear of the room. An elegant, spiral stairway led to the upper floor and a magnificent stone fireplace took up a corner near the bar. The windows were decked with delicate, colorful draperies, but the glass was covered with heavy material - no doubt because of the need to maintain blackout conditions, due to the war.
"Nice place," Rick said, jumping down to the couch from Gabrielle's shoulder. "It must pay well to be in the Mafia."
"HEY! No animals on the furniture." Salamon said. "My boss is allergic."
"Well, excuse me," the monkey replied sarcastically, scampering down to the floor. "I guess that means no bed for me either, huh?"
Gabrielle bent down, setting the pack, whip, and Thompson on the floor, then she patted him on the head. "Well, we are guests here."
"I see how I'm gonna get treated," Rick said, in a huff. "Just let me outside and I'll scout the area. Maybe I'll just go sleep in a tree." He scurried over to the door and waited. Salamon opened the door for him and he scooted out into the night.
"AND DON'T GET IN THE FLOWER BEDS EITHER!" Salamon hollered, before he shut the door.
"Do you think he'll be alright?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yeah, sure," Xena replied, with a grin. "Just let him go cool off for a while and he'll come back when he gets ready. You know how men..." she glanced at Salamon, "um, I mean how monkeys are." She winked at the bard and then turned to their host once more. "In the morning, we'll need you to help us get to that volcano we told you about. Do you think you can do that?"
Salamon tugged at his beard. "Well, my cousin has a fishing boat up near Palermo. If we can get you there without the Nazi's finding you, he could take you to Vulcano tomorrow night. He owes me about a dozen favors - and I owe you my life. Thanks again for saving me from those soldiers."
"No problem," Xena replied. "From what Rick tells us, if we can finish our mission, before long these Nazis won't be controlling your island anymore. If you help us, you'll be helping yourself and your people as well."
"I hope so," he replied. "Fascism is not good for business. Anyway, let me get out of here and see what I can arrange. Just make yourselves at home. There's food in the cupboards and you can sleep in the bedrooms upstairs. I'll be back after dawn and we'll take it from there." He opened the door, waved to them, then shut it behind him. A moment later, they heard the car start up and then drive away, the sound fading as the vehicle made its way back down the mountain...
Xena walked over to Gabrielle and pulled her close - immediately covering her lover's lips with her own borrowed pair. Even though the bodies were not the same ones they were used to, albeit extremely similar, the sensations were the same. Xena pushed insistently against the bard's teeth and Gabrielle parted them, allowing her lover's probing tongue to come inside. They held one another, running their hands over the bodies of their descendents and twirling the borrowed tongues around each other, just as they'd done so many times in their own bodies so long ago. Their breathing became faster and their motions more frantic as over two thousand years of pent-up sexual urges sought release! Hands began to reach inside clothing and teeth began to nip at warm, soft skin as the two women allowed themselves to experience what they'd been denied so long, while trapped in the crystal. Finally, Xena drew back - her arms still holding her young lover as she looked into those lovely green eyes that she'd longed to see for centuries.
"How about we go check out that Jacuzzi thing and then go to bed?" the warrior asked.
"My thoughts exactly," Gabrielle replied, with a naughty little grin. "After all, we haven't had a bath in over twenty lifetimes. I think we're overdue." They walked to the back of the house, and after struggling with the locked door for a few minutes, managed to figure out how to get it open. Walking out onto the patio, they saw the huge, steaming hot tub, which was surrounded by a teakwood deck, and had a small bath house beside it. They walked toward it, each beginning to undo the unfamiliar clothes of the other as they went. Xena pulled off her lover's brown leather jacket, and then unbuttoned the shirt underneath, clumsily. Buttons were a new and somewhat frustrating experience for the warrior and the bard, but they very quickly had each other's clothes off anyway.
"I think the bath is a great idea," Gabrielle said breathlessly, while Xena leaned down and nibbled her now bare shoulder, "but I don't know how much sleep we'll get tonight."
Xena just continued her nibbling - making her way up Gabrielle's neck as she did.
The bard had a sudden thought. "Do you think Melinda and Janice will be upset if we use their bodies to, uh..."
Xena stopped probing her lover's ear with her tongue, then whispered into it softly. "Somehow, I don't think they'll mind at all..."
Continues in Chapter 18
|Ch. 1-9||Ch. 10-17||Ch. 18-28|
|Listings of works by Fu Bard|
|Return to the Fan Fiction area|