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Better Safe Than Sorry

by Timelord

Copyright ©1997 - Timelord

This is my first attempt at a Xena fanfic. I'm a cartographer by trade, not a writer, so please be gentle. I would like to know what you think about this story Email me at - all comments are welcome! (Flames will be ignored.) Now grab your chakram and read on!

Gabrielle looked around the marketplace at all the different venders. She marveled at all the various sights and sounds. The duo had stopped at a small farming village for supplies. Since the festival of Pan was taking place she talked Xena into letting her explore the marketplace while she got the necessary supplies. Xena cautioned her to be careful and to watch for pickpockets. "Sometimes she worries too much" Gabrielle thought to herself, but she was glad to have such a good friend as Xena. The bard knew that she cared for her deeply. She also cared for the Warrior Princess and would do anything for her.

She was examining some bolts of cloth that she could possibly use for a new outfit. She was deciding between a deep forest green and a pale lavender material when she heard a voice say "I think you look better in blue." Gabrielle turned with a gasp to see Xena smiling down at her. "I wish you wouldn't sneak up on me like that!" Gabrielle said, she wasn't really mad at her friend but she did get frustrated with her at times. "Sorry Gabrielle, I've got the supplies are you ready to go?" "What's your hurry? We just got here, don't you want to take part in the festival?" Xena looked at her friend with a small smile on her face "You don't really believe in this superstitious nonsense do you?" "The festival of Pan is not superstition!" Gabrielle replied. "Sorry Gabrielle, I just feel that the Gods play too much with the lives of mortals as it is. We shouldn't be celebrating the fact." Gabrielle looked up at the warrior "The goat herders here celebrate to thank Pan for a good year." "You better by careful Xena, Pan is one of the more playful Gods, he may decide to use you in his latest game." Gabrielle replied, her smiling eyes told Xena that there were no hard feelings. "Okay Gabrielle let's go, I left Argo at the merchant where I got the supplies."

The bolts of cloth forgotten the two left the merchant's stand and headed off to retrieve Argo and head out of town. On the way there Gabrielle spotted a stand with jewelry for sale. "Xena!" the bard said excitedly "let's go look!" Xena sighed to herself and let herself be pulled along toward the stand. Various jewelry and trinkets were laid out on velvet, the sun sparkling off of them. The merchant immediately spotting Gabrielle's interest headed toward her. "Well young lady what can I get for you and your - friend?" he asked glancing up at the leather clad woman. Xena glared back at him, he ignored the visual assault and returned his attention to Gabrielle. "What are those" asked the young bard pointing to a group of necklaces on the velvet. The merchant handed one to her and said "These are the most powerful amulets of protection at the entire festival!" he said proudly. "I'll just bet." Xena said loud enough for the merchant to hear. Again ignoring Xena he continued "These will protect the wearer from any godly foul play, very handy especially around this time of the year."

"Oh Xena let's get one!" Gabrielle said looking up at Xena. "It's your money Gabrielle, but I'm not wasting good dinars on worthless tin." Heading off impatiently she said over her shoulder "Hurry up, I'm getting Argo and then leaving this tourist trap." Gabrielle sighed and asked "How much?" "For you my dear two dinars" the merchant replied. She paid him and then, after thinking for a second, grabbed another necklace and paid him for it as well. He winked at the girl and she ran off after the tall warrior. The merchant looked after her as she ran, Gabrielle didn't see him smile and laugh to himself as his eyes lost their color and turned black as night. "Have a good night Warrior Princess." Another potential customer approached the merchants stand as he blinked a couple of times, cleared his throat and said "Yes may I help you? I have the finest wares at the entire festival!"

Xena laid out their bed rolls in their camp a couple miles outside of town. Gabrielle had been strangely quiet all through dinner. Feeling a little guilty about upsetting her friend Xena told her "Dinner was very good tonight." Gabrielle looked up from the fire "Thank you, I used some herbs I got at the festival." "I'm sorry if I upset you today, I didn't mean to." Xena looked over at her "Forget it." Climbing into her blankets Gabrielle put the amulet over her head, she held the other in her hand. "Here I got you a present." she tossed the necklace at Xena who caught it, and after examining it said "I told you Gabrielle..." Waving her hand at Xena she said "You didn't waste your money on it I did." cutting off any other complaint. "It's a gift okay? From me to you." Xena got up from the fire and placed the necklace in her saddlebag. She sat back down and continued to polish her sword. "Thank you for the gift." Gabrielle sighed "You're welcome, good night." "Good night." Xena replied. "You know Xena sometimes the Gods do good for mortals instead of bad." Xena snorted and replied "In my experience Gabrielle the bad far outweighs the good." Gabrielle turned away from the fire and closed her eyes. Xena didn't mean to hurt her friends feelings, but she'd had enough of the Gods interference to last her a lifetime.

Sometime later Gabrielle was sleeping peacefully and Xena, restless, was now working over her armor with a well oiled cloth to make sure the leather was in good condition. Beside her was a flask of wine which she had been taking sips. She suddenly heard a faint voice "...stay away..." Looking around she saw no evidence of anyone in the camp, in fact it was as if the voice came from the fire itself. Looking into the fire she again heard a voice a little louder this time ", stop..." She glanced down at the wine flask "I haven't had that much to drink" she thought to herself. The warrior looked back into the fire transfixed, she couldn't look away. The fire melted into a tunnel made of flame. "You are needed Xena" a voice said to her. "Who are you?" asked the warrior. "One whose festival you called 'superstition'." the voice replied. Xena recognized the voice as the merchant who had sold Gabrielle the amulets earlier that day. She then realized who the voice actually belonged to "Pan?" Xena then realized the extent of the situation she was in "I want no part of your mischief!" The disembodied voice responded "You have little choice warrior!" Xena found herself flying into the tunnel of flame. She felt strangely light as if she weighed nothing at all. Looking back she saw her body, still sitting by the fire, rapidly shrinking away from her. "Damn you Pan" she thought to herself.

Xena, flying through the tunnel, heard the faint voice more clearly. It was definitely female only now it was joined with other voices. "Stop her man!" a male voice yelled. "Ow! Son of a ... she nailed me with a rock!" "Get the bitch!" "Stop!" a female voice yelled "Why are you doing this?" Xena realized that the woman was in trouble. The tunnel suddenly dissolved to reveal a large city, larger than Xena had ever seen. As she flew high above it she could see the lights below tracing the outline of various streets and houses. Seeing no telltale flicker of light and shadow Xena wondered how the light was being made without fire. "Where in Hades am I?" Flying lower still she finally viewed the source of the voices. A group of five men were chasing a lone woman down one of the darker streets. The men were wearing leather armor with symbols stitched on the back. Xena watched as they chased the woman into an area surrounded by a metal fence. The area appeared to contain large metal chariots. There were no horses that she could see. Xena knew this scenario well - the men, large and angry, will chase the woman who she can see has brown hair, straight much like her own, until they cornered her. Then they will beat her or worse. They could be slavers or simply a group of warriors out for a good time. Either way it did not look good for the fleeing woman.

The gang leader smiled at the running woman. He always enjoyed nights like this. Just him and a lucky few of his gang out "hunting". The woman was pretty, long brown hair, brown eyes, medium height. Just right for their sport. She even had a little fight in her. He hated it when they gave up without a fight. He was proud of his men, they had a large area which they had conquered and now control. Many people feared the name stitched on to their leather jackets - "WARLORDS". He smiled to himself when they chased her through a gate in a chain link fence leading to a parking lot. Soon it would be time to play.

Wendy has had better nights. Going to college during the day while working the night shift was bad enough, but this she did NOT need. The public transportation was on strike, again, so she had little choice but to walk from her job back to her apartment. Wendy believed that life was out to get her and running into these morons proved it. They already ripped her purse off of her, she thought they might leave her alone after that. No such luck, they simply tossed it aside and started to chase her. Groaning to herself, she remembered that the tazer gun her fiancÈ had given her was in her purse. "Good move Wendy." she thought. She didn't know how long they have been chasing her, but she did know that she was getting tired. She ran into the parking lot hoping to lose them. Too late realizing there was no rear exit.

The leader signaled his men to surround her. Wendy knew that her yelling simply encouraged these sick bastards, but maybe someone would hear her and send help. "Yeah right." she thought "not in this town." Wendy looked behind her to see two of the gang members positioning themselves to surround her. The one with the blood running down his face, from when she hit him with a rock, did not look at all happy. "Oh well who needs a degree in Industrial Design anyway?" she thought sarcastically. She knew that they were done playing with her, well chasing her anyway. She prayed that she would live through this "Please God don't let me die, but if I'm going to then let me take these freaks with me!"

Xena watched all this transpire from her vantage point above the street. Her anger for the gods rose "Why are you showing me this! For Zeus's sake help her! Do something! " Pan's disembodied voice replied "I am not allowed to interfere here Xena, but you can..." "How can I help like this? I'm nothing more than a spirit!" silence answered her.

Wendy was grabbed by the two from behind who held her fast, she was helpless. The leader stepped up to her. "We are going to have so much fun together, you and I." "Sorry I'm really not that much fun." Wendy quipped. The leader looked down at her and smiled "Oh, don't worry, you will be..." He then punched her in face followed by a knee to the midsection. Wendy didn't have a chance to scream as the air was knocked out of her. The two holding her let her drop to the ground. As she hit the pavement Wendy felt a sticky substance against her face. In her dazed condition she was vaguely aware that it was her own blood. The laughter of the gang leader rang in her ears. Tears fell from her eyes as she realized that no help would come in time.

Xena saw the leader of the group strike the woman and then watched her fall. If only she could do something, she felt completely helpless. Suddenly she felt herself flying toward the fallen woman. Her vision blurred as she flew straight into the prone figure on the ground. She felt cold throughout her body, her arms and legs all going numb. Then she could feel the ground beneath her. She felt the pain in her side, and the blood on her face. Her vision returned. She could see the feet of the warlord only inches from her face. She felt the woman's fear, the hopelessness.... then she felt - angry.

The leader looked at the woman on the ground and laughed. He would let his men have their fun, but they wouldn't kill her. The deathblow was his and his alone. "Get up bitch!" he shouted, he liked to see the look of fear in their eyes. He saw the woman stand, the fact that she did so without much effort or discomfort worried him, but not as much as the fact that her eyes, once a deep brown, were now crystal blue.

Xena saw the look of confusion on the warlord's face and used it to her advantage, she connected two blows to his head and watched him fall to the ground. After touching his nose and seeing the blood on his hand he grew enraged "Warlords kill this bitch now!" One of the gang members jumped at Xena, knife drawn. She neatly sidestepped him and shoved him headlong into one of the metal chariots. The leader watched as his man connected with the metal bumper of the car. He saw several of the gang member's teeth fly out of his mouth, and then watched him fall to ground unconscious. "What the hell?"

Xena realized that these warriors were not used to their prey fighting back. She smiled as she saw two maneuver to gang up on her. She could see that both carried weapons. One held a length of chain, the other a metal pipe. The warrior princess calmly waited for them to charge. When they did she reached out with lightning reflexes and, with a crunch, connected with the pressure points on their necks cutting off the flow of blood to their brains. "Not that it's going to do a lot of damage to these two" she thought. The two men fell to the ground with a look of surprise on their faces. Xena reached down and returned the flow of blood which caused them to lose consciousness. As the last of the warlord's men dived at her legs to tackle her to the ground Xena jumped, planted both feet on the back of his head, heard a satisfying crunch as his head was driven into the pavement, and did a triple flip, shouting her war cry "Aiyiyiyiyiyi!" She then landed directly behind the warlord.

Startled he turned to face her, looking him directly in the eye she cocked one eyebrow and sweetly said "Are we having fun yet?" The warlord pulled something from his armor and pointed it at Xena. The warrior princess did not recognize the object, but realized it was a weapon of some sort. It resembled a crossbow only without the bow. The enraged warlord yelled at Xena "We are the warlords, you stupid bitch!" "We run this town!!" "You are nothing but a plaything to us! You are here for one reason - to serve and please us!" Xena looked on in silence, coldly staring at the warlord. The leader continued his rant - "You might get away, for now, but the cops will let us go, as usual, then we'll be waiting for you, all of us, and then you will wish you had never been born you worthless - arrgghh..." The warlord was then surprised by two things. First his trachea had just been shattered, and second his gun was now being held by the woman. He never even saw her hand move.

Xena watched as the warlord fell to his knees clutching his throat. She tossed the weapon out of reach, then leaned close and said "This is not the "usual" situation that you are used to." The leader looked on in shocked silence. "If you so much as look at this wo- me again I will personally hunt down each of your men, and then I'll come after you." That was the last thing the warlord heard before he passed out. As his body hit the ground Xena felt the numbing cold she felt earlier. She was then looking down at the scene of the battle. The woman was looking around at the fallen bodies. Xena then heard a wailing sound as chariots (with no horses) arrived with blue and red lights on them. Suddenly the scene below disappeared as the tunnel of flame surrounded her.

Wendy saw the gang members strewn about and then saw the police arrive. "Better late than never." she thought. A police officer ran up to her, gun drawn. Seeing the swelling and blood on Wendy's face he shouted "We need an ambulance here!" Then taking in the condition of the gang members he added "and a coroner!" After holstering his gun he checked Wendy over for any serious damage, after finding none he asked "What happened here?" "Who did this to those gang bangers?" She looked him in the eye and said "My guardian angel." She looked skyward and whispered "Thank you."

Xena heard Pan's voice "A job well done warrior." "What about the woman, will she be safe from that warlord and his warriors?" Pan laughed and replied "Oh yes Xena, they don't bother anyone for quite some time." Relieved she watched the tunnel as it flew around her. She suddenly found herself back at the campsite, staring into the ashes that was once their fire. She could faintly hear the woman's voice "...thank you..." She looked around and saw Gabrielle sleeping peacefully in the early morning light. Xena whispered back "Your welcome." Gabrielle sat up rubbing her eyes and then blinked in the morning sun. "Sleep well?" the bard asked Xena. "Never better." "I'll get breakfast started." the smiling girl replied. After they finished eating and packed up their gear Gabrielle noticed Xena retrieve the amulet from her saddle bag and place in around her neck. "I thought you didn't believe in all that superstition." After placing the amulet under her breastplate, Xena smiled and said "Better safe than sorry." Gabrielle laughed cheerfully as the two started down the road.

The End

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