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The Rescue

by Leia

Part 1

Soft colors of pink, blue, yellow, and purple slowly began to glow on the few, white clouds as a new day’s golden sun sneaked from the horizen. Tall, green pine trees blocked most of the morning sun from the cool forest floor. An almost invisible stream of smoke rose from an extinguished camp fire. A golden-colored horse was tethered to a tree nearby. Two figures slept under warm covers on either side of the camp fire.

The right arm sprang out from underneath the covers of the ebony-haired one. The hand caught an arrow that was speeding towards her. Her intense blue eyes glared from a shade of bangs. She quickly jumped up. The sunlight(what little there was of it) reflected on her slightly tanned body. She wore a brown leather warrior-dress, which gave her a sense of keeness. Muscles covered her tall, slim body. She watched silently as five men stepped out from behind the shadows. She gave them all a teasing, evil grin(a specialty of hers) as she posed for action. A toothless man sprung from her right. She swung her arm and her fist caught him squarely in the jaw. After she tripped one, punched another, she called to her companion without turning around.


From the blankets, a groan came. “I’m having a good dream. I’m sure you can handle whatever it is.”, Gabrielle muttered. The blue eyes flared as she spun around with a high-kick. Then, she kicked know where. A bald man noticed Gabrielle. He reached down to grab her, but the black-haired warrior snatched Gabrielle’s hands and flung her up. She started to use Gabrielle as a weapon and a shield. “Argh!!! XENA!!!”, Gabrielle was wide awake now. “I told you, I like to be creative in fights.”, Xena said with a smile. Gabrielle’s strawberry-blond hair flew as she was thrown this way and that. Finally, the five battered men retreated back into the shadows. “Well, that was a good excercise, but Xena, don’t you EVER wake me up from a good dream when you can fight by yourself and NEVER use me as a weapon or shield to throw around. Understood?!” Gabrielle’s sky-blue eyes glared at Xena.

Xena shrugged, “Yep.”

As Xena led her horse, Argo, to a nearby public road, Gabrielle grabbed her walking staff and made last minute double-checks.

“So, where are we going today?”, Gabrielle anxiously asked as she caught up with the warrior.

“Where ever this road takes us.”, Xena’s reply was short.

Gabrielle sighed and started to come up with suggestions for her scrolls. Soon, they past a stout road sign that pointed in the direction they were heading towards. It read “Thames”. A tiny village with humble people and a shrine dedicated to all the Gods.

As the two friends neared the village, many shrank away from them. Xena glanced around cautiously, but Gabrielle did not seem to have noticed a thing. Xena leaves Argo outside a tavern before walking in with Gabrielle. Only two drunk men occupied a dark corner mumbling and occasionally bursting out laughter. Xena was not amused. She immediately went up to the bartender and asked for drinks. While the bartender filled-up mugs, she asked him about the people’s strange behavior. The fat bartender turned around, put the mugs on the table and looked Xena straight in the eye.

“Everyone thinks that the shrine is haunted. Many have gone in and well,

never came out. They think there are ghosts.”

Gabrielle looked up from where she had sat down. Her eyes showed concern. Xena nodded and sat down next to her friend.

“You are going to fugure this out, aren’t you?”, Gabrielle asked.

“Yep.”, was the only reply(as usual).

Then, Argo suddenly neighed a warning. Xena immediately sprang up and jogged out the door to where she had left Argo. Gabrielle followed. The shrine, directly opposite of the tavern, gleamed a grim light. Xena’s step did not falter as she walked into the temple, Gabrielle followed closer. The light came from two figures bent over a table filled with gifts. The noise outside suddenly declined to silence.

“Welcome, friends.”, a female voice came from one.

The figures turned around. Gabrielle gasped and Xena gave them ‘the look’(another specialty of hers), while she pulled out her sword. The figures were Ares and Hera. Gabrielled muttered about wishing it was only ghosts.

“What’dya want?!”, Xena snarled.

The two Gods smiled evilly. Before another word was spoken, Gabrielle screamed and collapsed behind Xena. Xena’s eyes widened. The Gods dissapeared with cruel laughter. Xena quickly sheathed her sword and ran back to her friend. Gabrielle’s eyes shone with a bright white light. From outside the temple, many villaggers slowly gathered to wait. Each word rose with a worried cresendo.

“Gabrielle?! Gabrielle?! NOOOOO!!!.....

Part 2

Two men strode down the hill towards the village Thames. The taller man had shoulder-length gold-colored hair with a pair of clear, blue eyes. Humor filled those eyes, but there was an emptiness that could never be filled until they looked into the eyes of his wife and children. Almost everybody knew him.

He was Hercules, son of Zeus, half-man, half-god, and literally, all hero. His companion was about a head shorter with blonde hair and sky-blue eyes. His name is Iolaus, and not as famous as the strong guy next to him, but their friendship were like brother to brother. Their soft laughter and chatter silenced when they heard a cry of despair in the village’s temple. Immediately, they sprinted into the shrine. They stopped short when they saw the warrior princess on the floor, holding her best friend’s limp body in her arms.

“Xena?”, Hercules asked doubtfully.

Xena turned around. Her face showed fear, fatigue, anger, tears, and relief. “Hercules.”, she whispered vacantly, “They took her from me. They took my GABRIELLE!!!”, her angry voice rose by the second.

Hercules sat down next to the trembling Xena. He realized just now how close their friendship was, and is going to be, he decided. The warrior rarely showed her emotions, her soft side. Iolaus’s voice showed a lot of concer, “What happened?”

Xena calmed herself and told them what had happended, which left them confused, or rather frustrated. They all dazed off into their own thoughts until the villagers outside bagan to buzz again. Once they snapped out of their little worlds, Xena picked up Gabrielle and began to walk towards the double-doors. Hercules was right next to her. Iolaus sighed, got up, and followed.

Iolaus screamed.

Hercules and Xena spun around in time to see Iolaus crumple to the floor. Silence filled the shock.

Xena carefully put Gabrielle down while Hercules scurried over in near panic. Like Gabrielle’s eyes, Iolaus’s shone a bright white.

“Argh! No, not now...”, Hercules muttered.

Xena sighed. Whatever this is all about, she wasn’t about to give up. XENA knows not of ‘giving-up’.

Hercules picked up Iolaus’s body while Xena went to pick up Gabrielle. “The gods are at work, again.”, Hercules thought out loud, “And I am not gonna be a nice guy anymore.”

Xena pursed her lips, “Hercules, we’ll get to the bottom of this. We need to talk with Ares and Hera.”, then she grunted, “Or better, fight.”

The sky began to darken after Xena, Hercules, and some of the villagers helped to bring Gabrielle and Iolaus to Hercules’s mother, Alcamene’s home, hoping their soulless bodies will be safe there.

The sky, now a navy blue, was dotted by thousands of stars. The moon shone like a torch upon the dense forest. Two figures sat near a quickly made fire. Dinner was cooked, but neither was hungry. Finally, Xena made noise by taking out her sword and sharpening it. She did that for so long that, a touch to the blade would make the finger bleed.

Hercules silently stared at the stars in the dark skies. Xena stopped and sheathed her sword. Almost simultaneously, they embraced each other, their love of friendship helped them get through the sorrow and anger. The night passed quickly.

Gabrielle gaped at her surroundings. She did not know what had just happened. All she knows is that one moment she stood looking at the gods and the next moment, had been painful. Now, silence engulfed her. The forest surrounding her was quite beautiful. With tall trees and beautiful wild plants, none that she knew of. A chirp from a little creature with three arms, and half her size peeked from behind a huge oak tree(at least she thought it was oak). Gabrielle was very happy that she still had her staff.

She cautiously asked, not knowing if it will understand, “Excuse me? I...I don’t mean any harm. I’m just lost.”

The creature finally came out of hiding. Its body was furry with a short, stubby tail. A voice that sounded like a young man buzzed inside her mind. “Who are you? I’m telepathically communicating. I don’t know your language.”

Gabrielle found his voice pretty welcoming, though it did tinge with suspicion. She thought back, attempting communication, “I’m Gabrielle. I mean no harm. I don’t have a clue how I got here, wherever here is.”

“This is the fifth planet of the Sabaka System. I’m a member of the Jensan tribe. You can call me Nakio.”

Out of the air, a cloud formed and a figure fell out and landed on his feet. Iolaus.

Gabrielle ran and hugged him, but all she got back was groans and moans. Iolaus at last came to his senses.

“Gabrielle! Oww...that hurt. Are you OK? Hercules and I found Xena and...” Iolaus glanced around, “where am I?”

Gabrielle told him all she knew. Iolaus looked at the creature before contacting him. Telepathy seemed so easy to do. Odd. Iolaus turned back to Gabrielle.

“I bet Hera and Ares are behind this. I just hope we all make it back to Greece.”

Hercules and Xena awoke simultaneously. Both scanned their surroundings and stood up. Each quietly and wearily readied their own gear while thinking about their companions. Then, all of a sudden, with a flash of white light, Hercules and Xena were transfered to a temple--Hera’s temple. Hera and Ares appeared.

Xena’s anger bubbled inside her. Evil that was once buried now rose like fire that shone in her eyes. Her anger slowly subsided when she felt Hercules’s strong and firm, yet gental grip on her arm.

Ares grinned at the incident and shrugged. “We’ll make this short.” Hera continued right after, “To get Gabrielle and Iolaus back, both of you have to pass three stages, one harder than the last.”

“The first stage is the physical stage, you should pass this stage quite easily. The next stage is the mental stage. Xena, you’ve been there, trying to get to Morpheus, remember? Hmph, you can explain it to my half-brother.” Ares said smugly. “The last stage will just be trying to find your precious friends, if you can.” Ares finished.

“We’ll be giving a few hints and clues.” Hera added, “Any questions?”

“Why? Why Gabrielle and Iolaus?” Xena’s voice rang out clearly, but a hint of pure ugliness was in there, too.

Ares shrugged again, “Oh...for the fun of it. Hera and I just wanted to see an action-packed show and well, looks like you two star in it. And by the way, you have exactly one day to get ready.”

A wave of triumphant, hollow laughter came from the two evil gods as they vanished.

Part 3

Gabrielle and Iolaus were led into a little Jensan village. Many straw huts settled on the rich soil and some had homes in trees that could be reached from circular stairways. Iolaus and Gabrielle were fascinated by this little village’s life. A great bonfire stood in the middle of the cluster of huts. Some kind of meat was being roasted.

Gabrielle and Iolaus was ushered into a fairly large hut. Inside, a foreign smell dominated two black, rectangular vases. Gabrielle was told to stand between them. A very large Jensan stalked in, holding a spiky staff. The humans guessed that he was the leader. They were right. The hut silenced for a while before they made Iolaus stand there too. Silence once again filled the room.

The leader nodded and Nakio stepped out from behind some other Jensans. “You are a part of the tribe now, for we’ve just saw through your souls, which are clear of evil,” Nakio explained.

The tribe began to cheer loudly from outside.

Iolaus and Gabrielle eyed each other skeptically.

Xena’s anger warned to blow each time she remembered why her friends’ lives were in danger. For a game...ahh! Ok...fine, watch. She cleaned and sharpened her sword and chakram, again. She put her hair in a simple yet pretty mid-way pony tail. Her armor dazzled in the afternoon’s glowing sun. She looked at Hercules, who was thinking the same thing. He needed no weapons, just his confidence.

They were ready, ready to play.

A portal made of a simple wooden frame appeared. Each took a deep breath and walked through the blinding white light shining from the gate.

To Be Continued...

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