Captain of Her Heart

by W. Brad Danbrook

Disclaimers: The usual...


Spock aims his phaser directly at the God. The energy from the weapon bounces harmlessly off his flowing white robe. Zeus waves his hand dismissively. "These childish games no longer amuse me…leave me now." He turns his back to the two remaining members of the landing party. Spock allows the lifeless body of Ensign Thompson to fall from his hands. He confronts Zeus with a forceful voice. "Sir, you have murdered one our crew members. This is no joke. I demand that you tell me where Captain Kirk is." Zeus laughs caustically. "I see no threat from the likes of you. If you do not wish to share the fate of your friend, I suggest that you remove yourself from my presence immediately." Spock is at a loss. He signals to Sulu as they both drag the body from the Temple. They depart to a safe distance away from the Temple, under a tree. Zeus sits restlessly in his throne. A shiny small metallic object catches his eye. He walks over to pick up the communicator that had belonged to Ensign Thompson.

Gabrielle stands beside Xena with a look of abject resignation upon her face. Xena walks slowly away from the group and places her arms firmly on her hips. Officer Rogers whispers into the ear of Kirk. "Captain, I've read about this ritual. She may be attempting to summon the Gods. It is described as a complicated process of supplication." Kirk watches as the long-legged warrior calls out into the air. He cannot help but notice her powerful sexual magnetism. McCoy notices the grin that has slowly crept across the Captain's face. "Jim, I've seen that look before." Kirk nods dreamily. "My God Bones, you must admit that she is a most impressive woman."

"Jim, I don't think a woman like that is made for romance…. besides, I'm sure she's taken…" Gabrielle cannot help but overhear the exchange. She whispers into the ear of Captain Kirk, "He's right…she is taken…and anyway, you're not really her type."

Xena's voice resonates around the cave as she calls out. "Ares…. I know you're out there, show yourself. I'm serious, no more fooling around." Her words initially fall away without response. She continues her imprecation. "Damn it Ares…" The spectators take in the scene. Officer Rogers seems perplexed by the warrior's words. "Captain, this doesn't seem like anything I've ever read about."

"I would say that Xena is not a woman to be questioned. Let's just see what she can do." As the Captain finishes speaking, a flash of bright light fills the cave. Instantly the God of War materializes before the group. An expression of boredom shows in his dark, smoldering eyes. "Yes…what is it now?" Xena points angrily at the God and spews out, "Ares, I don't know what it is exactly that you expect to accomplish, but we will not have any part on this insane plan of yours." Ares's eyes twinkle mischievously as he places his thick arms across his chest. "Hey…looks like a party here. Where's the band? Hey Gabrielle, why so serious? Lighten up!" Gabrielle stomps up to the God who towers over her. "Ares…I've never trusted you, and I'm certainly not going to start now. Listen, all you have to do is return Xena and I back to our time, and return these people back to their ship. Understand?" Ares rubs his beard with a quizzical expression. "Let's see…is that all Gabrielle? Are you sure? What exactly do I get out of this deal? Xena grabs his arm forcefully. He seems not unpleased by the close contact. "Listen, whatever it is…just say it…these people need to get back to their ship, I'm sick of playing around." Ares nods his head slowly. "What do I want, Xena? You know what I want, and I'm looking at it…" Gabrielle's voice is choked with emotion. "Ares, you can't just take a person. Do you think that I would just let you have Xena without a fight?" Ares wheels around to face the blond bard. "I don't think you really have much of a choice in the matter. Of course, you can always stay here with your space buddies and slowly starve to death." Captain Kirk has watched the animated exchange with great interest. He swaggers up to the dark, brooding figure and speaks with a furious determination. "See here, Ares, or whomever it is you are, I demand that you return us to our ship, and you will not harm either of these women!" Ares is utterly unshaken by the Captain's demands. "Well, it is good to see that chivalry is still alive in this century. Thing is, Cap…you see Xena and me…well, we go way back…it's really not your concern." He carelessly pats the Captain on the back. Kirk immediately strikes out to avoid the contact. He smashes the God of War across the chin with his fist. Ares merely chuckles at the action. "Whoa, tough guy. I'm so not scared. By the way, don't ever do that again…or you will pay." The joking expression disappears completely from his face. A malevolent smirk is left in its place. "Are we done here?" Xena then pleads with the God. "Ares, if you want me, that's fine, just let Gabrielle and these people go." Gabrielle shrieks with defiance, "No Xena, I can't lose you again, I won't!" Ares smiles and waves at Gabrielle's tortured face, as he disappears. Xena and Ares are gone in a flash. Gabrielle lunges hopelessly at the departed figures. McCoy goes to comfort the distraught figure. Captain Kirk's body shakes with fury. He smashes his fist into the hard rock wall in utter frustration.

Zeus flips open the communicator and begins to toy with the controls. The device whines with static, until the voice of Urura is heard stating the following, "Captain Kirk, please respond…" Zeus nods with a calculating grin. "This is Zeus. May I speak to your commander?" Onboard the Enterprise, Urura spins away from her console to face Scotty. "Mr. Scot…I'm picking up something…he says that his name is…. Zeus?" Scotty turns to the communication officer. "Put it on audio, Urura. Let's see what this Zeus character knows about Captain Kirk." He presses down a button on his chair and begins to speak. "This is Mr. Scot, acting Captain of the Enterprise, what can I do for you?" Zeus smiles with appreciation. "Ah, a pleasure to make your acquaintance Mr. Scot. It seems that you have discovered my little planet." Scotty squints his eyes with a barely concealed civility in his tone. "Mr. Zeus, let me get right to the point. Our Captain and landing party beamed down there a while back, and I think you know where they are."

"Mr. Scot, first of all, you may address me as simply Zeus, not Mr. Zeus, as to the whereabouts of your Captain, I can assure you that I am as much in the dark as yourself. Perhaps if you were to come down, with more of your crew, you might find your Captain."

"I don't believe that I'll be doing that, Zeus. I'll find my crew, with or without your help, good day Sir!" Zeus flips the communicator into his robe. Under his breath he whispers, "I should think…without…"

"What are we going to do Mr. Spock?" Sulu's face is filled with uncertainty. The Vulcan wears a grave look upon his heavy features. "Our options do seem limited. Logically, we cannot hope to defeat this being. Our weapons are useless against him, as are the communicators; therefore we have no means of contacting either Captain Kirk or the Enterprise. Sulu, we will leave Ensign Thompson here, and we will continue on foot. It is our only option." They head off quickly away from the Temple.

Xena and Ares materialize inside a dark grotto-like hall. It features a menacing; gargoyle adorned throne, as well as a bronzed likeness of the War God. Various axes, swords and maces line the dark walls. The smell of smoke permeates the air. "Ares, what's this all about? Haven't we been down this path before? What is the point? Can't you accept that this is never going to work between us?" Ares has the expression of a man filled with remorse, and haunted by lost opportunity. "Xena…how can you say that? After all we've shared together?" Ares holds Xena close in his grasp. Their eyes are locked in embrace. Xena suddenly pulls away from the God, and walks to the other side of the room. "Am I supposed to suddenly believe that you've changed? How is it that I'm supposed to just forget the past-all you've done…and didn't do…?" Xena's face is etched with anguish as the moment of her torturous death is relived. A tear falls slowly from her eye. "Ares, you once said that you loved me…how could you let that happen to me?" Ares's eyes are round and full. He is unable to speak. His body crumples to the ground as he pleads his case. "Xena, if you could knew how many nights I've been tortured by the image of your death. Let me explain. By that time, the great Greek Gods were almost a legend. We weren't dead…but not really alive either. I was utterly powerless to help…but I can tell you that I felt every moment of your pain. I just want a chance to make things up to you. I've changed Xena, you'll see." Xena is moved by the God's words, yet her eyes retain a stern aspect of disillusionment. Her face is hidden as she slowly lowers her head. She speaks while looking down at the ground. "I want to believe you Ares, you know I do, but how do I know that this time will be different…seems to me that you're up to your old tricks-with Zeus of all people." Ares allows a small smile to brighten his visage. "Fair enough…why Zeus? Well, lets just say that right now he's the only game in town. I had to use him to get to you."

"You could be using Gabrielle and me right now."

"No, I may have lied to you, tried to trick you now and then…but I've never used you Xena-you mean too much to me. Listen, I'm just stringing old Dad along-until you and me can get out of this rat's nest." Xena nods slowly and smiles at him. "You mean you and me and Gabrielle…" Ares chuckles with amusement. "Of course Gabrielle…that goes without saying. Hey, I can't get enough of that little wordsmith. In fact…you, me, Gabrielle…think of the possibilities…" Xena's eyebrows rise as she shakes her head. "Same old Ares…mind always in the gutter…" Ares puts his arm gently around the warrior as they walk from the grotto. He begins to mutter. "No…that's not what I meant…Anyway, here's the plan…" Playful laughter fills the air as they leave.

Spock and Sulu continue their search for Captain Kirk. Spock scans the area immediately before them. Suddenly Spock grabs the arm of his crewman. "Sulu, I'm picking up a humanoid life form dead ahead. They should be in visual range shortly." They both crouch behind a large boulder. Above them the purple tinged sky swirls with pinkish clouds. Sulu whispers to Spock as the two black leather clad figures approach. "Spock, it's that Ares character, what should we do?"

"At this point, Sulu, I suggest that we have no other option than to enlist his assistance. Unless you have any other suggestions?" Spock gets up from behind the boulder and confronts the God. "Ares, greetings. I wish you no harm. I merely wish to find my Captain. Will you help me?" Xena stops abruptly and places her arms akimbo. Her inquisitive blue eyes size up the two space travelers. "Let me guess, you two must be friends of that Kirk guy, right? Pleased to meet you, I'm Xena, and I guess you've met Ares." Spock bows with respect. "Am I to assume that you are also a God, madam?"

"Madam? No…plain old mortal. Say, what's with the ears? Is that some future thing?" The smallest of grins animates the face of the Vulcan. "As a matter of fact, I am not from your planet. Let me get to the point, if I may…we believe that a being named Zeus is holding our Captain and landing party hostage. Do you know of their whereabouts?" Xena shakes her head as her thumb gestures toward the brooding figure beside her. "Ares knows where they are. Well, I have met your Captain-nice guy… a little bossy…" Ares interjects, "yes, yes, enough with the questions, I know where your precious Captain is, and I can take us all there. The real problem is what to do about Zeus. He's not going to let us just walk out of here. He wants your ship."

"Captain Kirk will not allow any alien presence to gain control over the Enterprise, under any circumstances." Xena nods in agreement. "Maybe not, Spock, but what if we could somehow trick Zeus." Ares shrugs his shoulders and smiles. "Xena, if anybody can think of a way to trick Zeus, it's got to be you. God knows you've outwitted me in the past. It's worth a shot." As his voice trails off, the group vanishes in a flash of light.

The members of the landing party stand together with Gabrielle. The featureless rock walls of the cave echo their voices. Gabrielle is dressed in a long tan leather coat. Her hair is to the length of her shoulders. She is fascinated by the strange people before her. "So you are Captain of a ship…interesting. I always love looking up at the stars at night. So many…its hard to believe that there are actual worlds out there. How many have you visited?" Captain Kirk smiles at the attractive and inquisitive blonde bard. His eyes twinkle with acknowledgement. "I see you're an explorer at heart. Perhaps we have much in common, you and I" Gabrielle smiles warmly. "I hope someday you can show me some of those worlds, but right now we have to find a way out of this place." Kirk's expression becomes graver. "Indeed. You are obviously well acquainted with this Ares. Will he harm Xena?"

"No, I can't say that I like Ares, but he would never harm Xena-not really." Kirk nods and turns to Officer Rogers. She is standing with McCoy. "Rogers, what do we know from historical records about this Zeus…. I mean, does he any sort of weakness that we could exploit?"

"Its difficult to say, Captain…but all accounts, Zeus was a mythological figure-nothing more. As far as his character was concerned, he was considered the supreme God-practically invincible." McCoy has been carefully listening to the conversation. His facial expression bursts with intensity. "Jim, this is insane! Gods, Greeks…fictional characters…we need to get back to the ship-and soon!" The captain dismisses the doctor with a calming wave of his hand. "Gabrielle, let's see what we know. Now Zeus obviously trusts Ares. And Ares trusts Xena-correct?"

"I'd say that's a fair assessment…but I don't see how that's going to help us."

"If we can make Zeus think that Ares and Xena have made a deal, we may be able to gain an advantage." Gabrielle chuckles to herself. Her expressive eyes squint at the Captain. "You know, you and Xena really think alike. She's just like you-always looking for the advantage." Captain Kirk grins appreciatively. "I'll take that as compliment. I hope I have the opportunity to learn more about you and your partner. Now if Xena is as calculating as you say, she must be thinking along the same lines. That leaves one question, how can we destroy a God?"

"That is a problem. You can't…I mean not usually…but there is the Hindsblood dagger, and the bones of the Titans…but I don't see how we can get hold of either of those stuck in here." Kirk is genuinely intrigued by the notion. "You say the Hindsblood dagger? What if we could fool Zeus into thinking that we had it?"

"Interesting…but Zeus is not that easy to trick." At that moment a bright blue light illuminates the cave. Ares, Xena, Spock and Sulu appear at its centre. Spock nods with respect towards the War God. "A most interesting means of transportation…not unlike our transporter in some ways." Ares bearded face grins widely. "Glad you liked it Spook. Hey look…the whole gang is here! What's up, Cap'n?"

"What's up is that we need to get out of this cave…before one of my crewmembers dies." Spock walks up with a grave look of concern. "I'm afraid that won't be the only casualty. Ensign Thompson was unfortunately killed by Zeus." Kirk momentarily freezes while he takes in the information. He suddenly wheels towards Ares. "One of my crewmen is dead. What do you have to say? I don't care who you are, I'll stop you myself!" He grabs hold of Ares' leather vest and shakes with fury. Xena sees that tempers are flaring and attempts to diffuse the situation. "Both of you listen. We won't solve anything by fighting amongst ourselves. If we're going to get out of here, we need to work together. Now Ares, why can't you just zap us out of here?"

"It doesn't work quite like that…I'm not a Space God." Xena accepts the answer and continues with a question to Kirk. "Now you said that you…beamed down here. Why can't you just beam right back to the ship?"

"We could if this Zeus hadn't blocked our systems. He's created some sort of force field. It's impossible to contact our ship-even if we had our communicators." Ares rubs his manicured beard and points to the Captain. "I must admit, I don't like you, but Xena thinks you're worth saving. So here goes…I might be persuaded to distract Zeus. If he's busy tangling with me, it might give you the chance to escape." Gabrielle looks at Ares with a disapproving glare. "Ares, if there's one thing I know about you, it's that you never give away anything for free. What's in this for you?" His eyes open wide, Ares exclaims, "why Gabrielle, if I didn't know better, I'd think that you don't trust me!"

"And you'd be right!" Gabrielle motions to Xena, "I'm just glad you're okay. So what's next?" Xena's luminous smile fills the room. "Okay, everybody listen up. Here's the plan-unless you have any objections Kirk…." The comment is met with an approving nod. "You…seem to be a woman who knows what she's doing. I will defer to your better judgment." Xena accepts the compliment with a courteous glance. She continues, "If Ares and me can distract Zeus, that should give you the time to contact your ship and get away." Spock agrees with the warrior's idea. "That seems like a logical course of action, since we cannot hope to defeat Zeus on our own. Yet what will become of you and your partner? You cannot expect to escape his wrath."

"You and your blasted logic Spock, how else do you expect us to get out of this place?" Captain Kirk grabs McCoy by the shoulder to calm his nerves. "Bones, I don't like the idea of leaving them behind either, but I don't see what choice we have." Ares casts his dark, sad eyes around the room. "Quite frankly, I'm not sure we would even survive on your ship-we might well cease to exist-hard to say really." Xena again gains the attention of the gathering. "I say we cross that bridge when we come to it. How about it Ares? Are you willing to help them?"

"If it means I get to hang around a little longer-with you and the blonde…sure why not?" He heartily puts his arms around both Xena and Gabrielle. "All right…enough yakking…let's do this thing. You know what to do Xena?"

"Do you have to ask? I've been waiting two thousand years to kick some butt!" Captain Kirk joins in the mirthful excitement. "Excellent! Now as soon as you have Zeus distracted, I'll find a communicator. If I can contact Scotty, we should be out in no time. Spock, Bones, Sulu, Rogers…are we ready?" The crew nod in unison. Ares holds his arm forward, pointing to the centre of the cave. Slowly a swirling bright vortex of energy appears. One by one, they jump into its whirling light. As the last of them departs, Ares himself vanishes in a flash of blue light.

Zeus is startled by the emergence of the powerful vortex. He bolts from his throne as one by one the group reappears in the Temple. He exclaims loudly, with a tone of haughty superiority, "and where is the author of this spectacle? Son-show yourself!" Ares appears suddenly at the head of the group. Xena moves up to stand with him. Zeus shakes his head in contempt. "I had expected more of you, my boy. It would seem that you are still ensnared by this pitiful mortal's charms." Ares merely smiles confidently at the jeer. "Ah…gee Dad, that's my girlfriend you're talking about. Watch yourself!" Gabrielle trades a look of bewilderment with Xena. She mouths the word, "girlfriend?" The lighthearted tone is broken by the crash of an energy bolt emanating from Zeus's hand. Xena dodges the shot as everyone scatters. Ares fires a countering shot at Zeus. It deflects off his robe. Xena suddenly lets out her trademark war cry. She spins through the air towards Zeus, knocking him down. The communicator that Zeus had been using flies across the marble floor. By this time, the crew of the Enterprise has taken cover behind a massive vase. Spock points towards the communicator. "Captain, look…" He is stopped mid-sentence by Kirk, "yes, I see it Spock, and I intend to retrieve it." McCoy grabs Kirk by the arm firmly. "Jim, you'll be killed. One bolt of that lightning, and…"

"Yes, Bones…I am well aware of the danger. I also know that this could be our only chance to escape." Kirk watches, as Gabrielle is busy dodging Zeus's attack. He motions towards her and points to the communicator. Gabrielle understands and nods in agreement. She runs across the Temple floor towards Xena, drawing Zeus's fire. Simultaneously, Captain Kirk dashes towards the metallic device. He seizes it and rolls as a massive blast of energy scorches his shirt. Instantly he flips it open. "Scotty, come in!"

"Captain, where the devil have you been?"

"No time to explain. We need to get out of here. Can you lock us in?"

"Ay, I'm reading seven life forms- and two unknown beings." As the conversation continues, Ares continues to battle his powerful father. The air crackles with electricity. He meets up with Xena under a fallen column. "Ares, can you come with us?" Ares pauses from the action to gaze into Xena's deep blue eyes. "Well, if I were to follow you up to the ship, I would probably not survive…hard to say." Xena looks imploringly into the God's plaintive expression. "So, you're willing to let me go-to save these people?" Ares shrugs his shoulders casually. "That sounds about right…doesn't really seem like my style though…" Xena holds Ares arm and says softly, "You have changed, haven't you…" Their eyes are locked in a smoldering, longing embrace. Xena moves forward and kisses Ares passionately. Their lips press hard together as their bodies entwine. She turns to leave and stops. "Ares, this isn't the end…I wont forget about you." Ares's expression belies the depth of his feeling. "I'll be waiting, Xena…always, and forever." As his words fall away, Kirk speaks loudly into the communicator, "Now, Scotty, now!" The seven figures slowly dematerialize as Ares and Zeus continue to trade blows. As they crew fades away, Zeus ceases his assault. "Son, do you realize what you have done? It might be a hundred years before another Starship hears our distress call. You have sentenced us to live forever in this prison…and without your precious Xena." "Ah well, easy come, easy go…you never know Dad, we might get lucky!"

The seven figures materialize on board the Enterprise. Both Xena and Gabrielle are startled by their strange new surroundings. Xena looks in the direction of Captain Kirk. "So this is your ship? Not bad…a little cold looking. I think it needs a woman's touch." Gabrielle smiles at the First Officer. "Spock…I don't really understand how we got here, but at least we're safe-away from Zeus." McCoy bolts quickly from the transporter room. "Jim, I've got to get to sickbay!" Kirk nods at the doctor. "I'll meet you there later Bones, keep me updated." He walks towards the two confused looking women. "Ladies, I'm sure Spock will be able to answer any questions you have. In the meantime, I've got to get to the bridge. By the way…I'm sorry about your friend…Ares." Xena and Gabrielle look warmly at each other and then at Kirk. "He wasn't always our friend, but I guess he is now. We wouldn't have escaped without his help." Spock nods in agreement. "I must agree…a most perplexing creature this Ares. I wonder if we have heard the last of him." Xena's radiant smile answers the query. "If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can never tell when a God is going to show up… usually when you least expect it." Gabrielle shakes her head in wonderment. "I can't believe it Xena. Ares really has changed. Who would have believed it? I noticed you two…together…it was…odd." Xena grabs Gabrielle playfully in a headlock. "Nah…we were just being friendly…that's all. You know you're always number one in my books." Gabrielle's expression is one of disbelief. "Really…cause you two looked very friendly...number one what, exactly?"

"Number one everything, Gabrielle. No matter where, or when we are, nobody could replace you." Gabrielle replies with a loving look. Xena throws her arm around her companion as they depart the room. "Say Spock…got any decent food on this ship? I could eat a horse…say…that reminds me…I wonder if we can get Argo back…"

The End

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