Xena and Gabrielle belong to Studios USA. I'm just borrowing them for this piece of experimental fiction.
This story is NOT for children under 16 years of age. This particular story is BRUTAL. My writing is very intense.
ABOUT THIS STORY
Firstly, thanks to the kind folks at the Academy of Performing Bards for accepting me to their site. I've been part of the Xenaverse for some time, although I've been much more in the background the last couple of years. Some of you may be familar with my fanfic.
Having heard about this site, I wanted to submit my work to it. I figured I'd start off with a Xena/Gabrielle story, called BLADES OF THE RED SUN. Despite what some of you may think, it has NOTHING to do with Friend In Need- except for the fact that there are samurai in this story. In fact, it was written a year BEFORE Friend In Need.
I started writing BLADES OF THE RED SUN January 6, 2000. I finished it on March 1, 2000. It's my first story of the century and the millenium. It's an interesting, twisted little piece. I had a lot of fun writing it.
Anyway, enjoy it. I am open to ANY AND ALL CRITICISM, POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE. BE AS BRUTAL AS YOU WISH.
December 31, 2003
The warrior rushed at his opponent, sword drawn back. His
hazel eyes were filled with rage. Bloodlust. He let out a piercing battle cry.
The opponent stood crouched. Her ice-blue eyes narrowed. Her dark hair billowed in the hot breeze.
She lurched forward-
Her sword tore hungrily through soft flesh. An explosion of liquid red screamed out of the widening wound. Severed intestines gushed forth. The man let out a gurgled cry, dropping to the ground as a lifeless lump of flesh.
Behind her came another presence.
No thought. Just action.
She felt her sword puncture something as she drove it back hard. A harsh, screeching cry. She pulled her sword forward. The woman heard something hit the ground behind her. She didn't even bother to turn around.
A woman rushed at her. Red hair, green eyes. Armed with two swords.
The dark warrior executed a vicious whirling kick. Her booted foot smashed hard into her opponent's face. Blood exploded from the woman's mouth. Her head snapped to the right. As the redhead spun around, the dark-haired warrior brought down her sword, relieving the redhead of her lower left arm. She screamed in agony as blood and flesh exploded from the stump. The scream was cut short as the dark-haired warrior's sword tore through her neck. The headless body dropped in a crumpled heap, the head bouncing off into the sandy dunes.
A giant blonde warrior. Armed with an axe.
He swung down at the dark warrior. She leapt out of the way with ease, rolling along the ground. The woman took a shiny round disk from her belt. She hurled it at him. It ripped into his head. Blood and brain exploded from the wound. He fell back onto the ground, dead.
The dark-haired woman turned quickly to her right, instantly getting to her feet. Another woman stood there. Blond. Blue-eyed. She glared at the Warrior Princess with malice.
"Damn you, Xena." she growled heatedly. "Damn you to hell."
A deadly smile lit Xena's face.
"Been there, done that." she purred. "Anything you think up's child's play, Mylea."
"You actually give a shit about these black bastards?!" Mylea screamed. "They're monkeys!! Animals!! They're just pack animals to be sold on the market!!"
Xena's eyes narrowed into feral slits.
"Marcus was one of these people, you bitch." she uttered in a low, deadly hiss. "He was more of a human being that you'll ever be."
Mylea snickered coldly.
"I always said you were a slut, Xena. Bet you had your way with farm animals too, back in Amphipolis."
Xena slowly approached Mylea, who took a step back.
"I'm taking you down, Mylea. You're going back to the Zambula tribe, dead or alive. I don't care which."
Mylea sneered at Xena.
"I guess it'll be dead then. I ain't going back with you willingly."
Xena whirled her sword once in front of her. She smiled cruelly.
"Have it your way."
The two women charged at each other, screaming their battle cries. Swords collided viciously. There was a brief, but violent parry. Mylea thrust her right foot out, slamming it into Xena's chest. The powerful blow sent the warrior flying through the air. She crashed into the ground. In seconds, Mylea flipped through the air and landed on her feet. She brought her sword down at Xena. She blocked the blow, and with two rapid, punishing kicks, hit Mylea in the stomach, then her chin. She flew through the air, crashing into the ground. Both women got to their feet. They charged at each other again. Metal collided with a loud clang. Once more, a violent parry. Mylea then swung hard at Xena's mid-section in a sweeping arc. Xena leapt into the air, at the same time whipping out a booted leg. Mylea's head snapped to the left as the foot hit her chin. Blood exploded from her mouth. She staggered back. Xena landed, and went on the offensive, not giving Mylea a chance to recover. She pressed on hard, unrelenting, savagely. Finally, Xena found an opening. She thrust forward with brutal force, and the sword burrowed deep into Mylea's abdomen. Blood gushed forth. Mylea let out a gurgled cry, her blue eyes bulging out of her head. Xena drew close to Mylea's face, narrowing her own eyes.
"Ya got yer wish."
Xena pushed Mylea off her sword with a hard shove of her foot. She collapsed to the ground in a cloud of dust. Xena turned, and walked over to the body of the giant warrior. She yanked the chakram out with a sickening wet sound. Mylea slowly rose onto her knees, drawing a knife. She raised her trembling arm to throw it.
Xena sensed her. The dark warrior's eyes widened in fury.
She flung the chakram at Mylea. Metal ripped into flesh. A huge explosion of blood and flesh rained down onto the sand. The headless corpse dropped to the ground, its head bouncing off into a ditch.
Xena rose to her full height, glaring at Mylea's twitching corpse.
"You never used your head much anyway."
A young blonde emerged from the tent. She ran her fingers through her short hair, her emerald-green eyes surveying the landscape. She then saw what she was hoping to see…a female rider, on horseback. The blonde sighed in relief.
"Thank the gods..."
A tall, dark-skinned man emerged from the tent. He wore a light cream-colored robe and cap. He spotted the rider.
"Xena's returned, Gabrielle."
The blonde nodded.
She slowly walked forward. Soon, the rider neared Gabrielle, slowing to a stop. She dismounted, and unlatched a leather bag from the side of the saddle. A crowd of people began to form near Gabrielle's tent. The blonde walked over to the tall brunette, placing a hand on her arm.
"Did you...?" she began.
Xena closed her eyes, nodding.
"Yes. She didn't give me much choice."
Xena and Gabrielle walked over to Kambuto. Xena gazed at him somberly.
"Mylea's reign of terror is over."
She handed him the bag. Kambuto opened it. Gazing at its contents, he nodded in satisfaction. He turned towards the crowd, raising it high above him.
"The head of Mylea!!"
The crowd screamed in rage and glee. Kambuto tossed the bag towards the roiling crowd. One of them grabbed it, yanking the bloody head of the slave trader out. He tossed it out onto the sand, and several people began to kick it around as if it were a ball. Gabrielle looked away in disgust.
"...gods..." she whispered, grimacing.
Kambuto turned to Gabrielle. He saw her disgust.
"Considering what this woman has done to my people, this was expected."
Xena placed a hand on Gabrielle's shoulder.
"C'mon. Let's go to my tent."
She looked up at Kambuto.
"I don't want to be disturbed."
"Understood. I'll make sure you're left alone."
Xena and Gabrielle left.
Xena took the water skin from Gabrielle, taking a long drink. She then leaned forward, her forearms on her knees. She gazed at the ground with a dull, emotionless stare. Gabrielle sat across from her. The two friends sat in silence…a silence that was broken occasionally by shouts from outside.
"Praise Xena-Warrior Princess!!"
"Hail the Savior of the Zambula tribe!!"
Xena snorted in disgust.
She shook her head. Gabrielle sighed. She knew how her friend felt.
"Like it or not Xena, you are."
Xena gazed at her friend with tired blue eyes.
"Seems no matter how often I do this, I don't feel like some savior. I just feel that this is something that needs to be done. Sometimes, it gets kinda tiring being called a savior."
She uttered the final word with a measure of disgust. Xena shook her head.
"Uh-uh. Nope. Not someone like me."
Gabrielle mentally rolled her eyes. The woman just would not stop punishing herself. Gabrielle got up and sat down next to her.
"We should leave here soon."
"Yeah. We have a ways to go yet before we reach Ethiopia."
She took another long drink from the water skin, wiping her lips. Xena sighed. Gabrielle studied her friend's features.
"A dinar for your thoughts?" she asked.
"Just thinking about Mylea, is all."
Gabrielle lowered her head, nodding.
"Anything you want to tell me?"
Xena's ice-blue eyes roamed the dusty earth below her. She frowned.
"Just thinking of something she said about Marcus."
She slowly shook her head in disgust. Xena looked up at Gabrielle.
"Mylea was with me a short while. She was tough, brash, cocky. She didn't care much for the other men, but I sensed that she had a certain respect for me. She kind of liked the fact that a woman was leading an army of men. Even so, Mylea could fly off the handle at times. Not with me, but with the other men. She slit a throat or two while she was in my army. I had mixed feelings about her, but she was a decent soldier. And I couldn't help but have some satisfaction at seeing her intimidate the other men.
"After Borias was killed, it was a long time before I had a true interest in another man. Marcus was that man. He treated me with a respect that I didn't see from other men. Mylea didn't like Marcus from the start. I knew it had something to do with the fact that he was black. And when we started our relationship, it really seemed to bother her. She started getting careless when I gave her orders. I didn't sense that same level of respect from her anymore. I also saw the way she would look at Marcus sometimes. Like she wanted to slit his throat."
"I'm surprised you didn't kill her then." said Gabrielle.
Xena chuckled slightly.
"Later on, I almost did. About a month after, I had Mylea attack a town, and I told her not to harm the women and children. She went after black women and children in it, killing them. When I found out, I beat her to a pulp and kicked her out of my army. The only reason I didn't kill her right then and there was because she had saved my life a couple of times. But I warned her that I'd kill her if I ever saw her again."
Gabrielle lowered her head, eyebrows raised.
"Prophecy fulfilled." she responded quietly.
More silence. She looked up at Xena.
"Why hate towards blacks?"
Xena took a drink from the water skin and sighed.
"She was raped by several of them when she was young."
Gabrielle shook her head.
"Gods...so she took out her anger on all blacks."
Xena stood up, placing the water skin on a table.
"Anyway," she said, "that's history. So's Mylea. I'm gonna take a bath."
She walked over to Gabrielle, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"See you in a bit."
"Once again, thank you Xena for saving our people."
"You're welcome, Kambuto."
A moment of silence passed. Kambuto's face darkened.
"I...I just wish...I just wish that I could've seen Marcus again."
Xena placed a hand on his shoulder. Her ice-blue eyes were full of sadness and pity.
"The dead can hear our thoughts. Marcus feels the love you have for him, Kambuto."
Kambuto grasped Xena's hand.
"Thank you Xena. Thank you for loving my son."
Xena smiled sadly.
"I'll never stop loving him. He's in my heart forever."
Xena turned, walking back over to Gabrielle and their horses. Gabrielle noticed the deep sadness in Xena's eyes. She walked over to her, placing a hand on her friend's arm.
"You okay?" she asked softly.
Xena closed her eyes, sighing heavily.
"I-I'm thinking back to Mezentius. If I could've stopped him..."
Gabrielle squeezed Xena's arm.
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. Gabrielle rubbed Xena's arm gently.
"I wish there was something I could do for you."
Another moment of silence. Xena opened her eyes and looked down at Gabrielle. She was grateful for the presence of her companion.
"You're already doing it. You're listening."
"That's what I'm here for. C'mon. Let's get going."
"Yeah. Let's get out of here."
The two women mounted their horses, riding off into the distance. After a while, Gabrielle turned towards Xena.
"So, what's the name of the place we're heading to again?"
"The kingdom of Axum."
"How long has it been since you've seen your friend?"
"The last time? Shortly before I met you. About 6 years ago."
Xena turned towards Gabrielle, smiling.
"I think you'll like it there."
"For someone like you, it's a shopper's paradise."
Gabrielle raised an eyebrow, grinning.
"No kidding!! Do ya think that info's safe to pass along to someone like me??"
Xena raised her own eyebrow.
"Well, I do trust you, ya know. Unless there's something I should know about??"
Gabrielle slowly rolled her eyes in a show of innocence.
The two women chuckled, and rode off into the distance.
Xena and Gabrielle rode into the kingdom of Axum. Scores of people were moving about in the streets. Gabrielle gaped at the huge amount of shopping stalls about her, marveling at the quantity and variety of goods she saw.
Xena raised an eyebrow, grinning.
Gabrielle turned towards Xena.
"Calm down. Stop spending dem dinars."
Gabrielle's eyebrows knitted. She crossed her arms.
"And just what are you talking about??"
"You know what I'm talking about, bard."
Gabrielle glared at Xena.
"Hey! Ever heard the phrase 'have faith'??"
Xena narrowed her eyes, smirking.
"Oh yeeeeeah, I've heard that one."
Gabrielle leaned towards Xena.
"Really?? How's 'bout putting that phrase to practice, Mizz Princess?? Like having a little faith in me??"
"Oh but I do have faith in you Gabrielle. I have faith that you'll spend dem dinars faster than Hermes."
The Warrior Princess chuckled heartily. Gabrielle tried her best to muster up her most icy glare, but failed miserably. She couldn't help but chuckle herself.
"Ooooh, you're bad. I'm gonna get ya for that one. And just when I was planning on getting ya something."
Xena's smile instantly disappeared.
"Oh well, more dinars to spend on me."
"Okay, okay. I'll behave."
"Uh-huh. We'll see how long that lasts."
The two friends glared at each other for a moment, then smiled. Gabrielle looked around her.
"So, where's your friend Asima live?"
"Not far from here. C'mon."
The two women rode slowly through the streets. Xena then turned a corner, and saw that the shopping stalls thinned out as they continued onward. At the end of the street there stood a row of small houses. Xena rode onward towards them. Gabrielle followed. Xena then stopped in front of one house. She turned to Gabrielle.
"Here we are."
Xena dismounted, tying her horse to a pole. Gabrielle dismounted and did the same. Xena walked up to the house and knocked on the door. After a few moments, it opened. A young woman with olive skin and dark hair appeared. At seeing Xena, she broke into a huge grin.
She rushed out and hugged the Warrior Princess, who returned the hug with equal fervor.
"I-I can't believe it!!" the young woman exclaimed. "How long has it been??"
"Too long, Asima." Xena said with a warm grin.
Asima looked behind Xena, seeing Gabrielle approaching.
"And who's this?"
"This is one of my closest friends, Gabrielle."
Asima smiled. She approached Gabrielle, hugging her.
"It's so nice to meet you."
"Come in, come in! Don't just stand there! You're just in time for lunch. I'm cooking lamb."
Gabrielle's eyes brightened.
"Lamb?! Oooh-one of my favorites!!"
Xena turned to her and grinned.
"Told ya you'd like it here."
The three chuckled. They entered the house.
"Talk of you has spread far, Xena." said Asima. "You've done a lot to help people."
Xena drank some port and sighed.
"I've got a lot to make up for."
"I've always sensed good in you, Xena." said Asima.
"You met me at a point in my life when I was about to make some radical changes. There's a lot in my past that I'm not proud of."
Xena lowered her head. Gabrielle placed a hand on her wrist.
"The past is done." said Asima. "Concentrate on the present and the future."
She turned to the bard.
"More lamb, Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle immediately lifted her hand.
"Oh gods no! I'm stuffed."
Asima looked at Xena.
"I'm planning to visit my brother, Ayman. I'd like you to come with me."
"Where is he?" asked Xena.
"He's moved to a village called Fakhir. He's a carpenter. It's not far from here. Ayman will be ecstatic to see you again."
Asima paused for a moment in thought.
"Gods...I've got to finish packing those tools for him, and some food I've made..."
Asima glanced at the other table, where a pile of tools lay next to a box.
"Do you need help?" asked Gabrielle.
Asima immediately shook her head.
"Oh no, I couldn't possibly-"
"I insist." said Gabrielle. "You can take care of the food, and I'll handle the tools. It's the least I can do."
Asima gave a lopsided grin.
"No way to dissuade you, huh?"
Gabrielle returned the smile.
Xena rose to her feet.
"I'm going to get some feed for our horses. I saw a vendor nearby-"
"Nonsense!!" Asima said instantly. "I've got some here."
"Asima, I don't want to impose-"
"Oh be quiet Xena. You're not imposing. You're my friend, and a guest. C'mon. I'll take you to the feed."
Xena smiled, shaking her head.
"Stubborn as always...all right, all right."
Xena followed Asima out of the room, and Gabrielle began to put the tools in the box.
Xena, Gabrielle and Asima rode towards the top of a rocky hill. The brilliant sun bathed them in pleasant warmth.
Gabrielle closed her eyes, sighing contentedly.
"Ahhh...the sun's nicer to us today."
"It probably won't last that long. We'll be back in the heat soon."
"Boy. Always the optimist, eh?"
Asima raised an eyebrow, smiling.
"I like the heat! Besides, isn't Greece hot at this time of the year?"
"Yes, but this is a bit more intense."
Asima chuckled, waving a dismissive hand.
"Ah, you'll get used to it. Takes a little time, but your body will adjust."
She turned towards Xena.
Xena wasn't listening. Something else had caught her attention. Her face was full of concern. She looked out over the hill.
"Xena? What is it?"
She instantly drew her sword. Her eyes narrowed.
"Trouble. Stay here."
She rode off. Gabrielle rode after her. Asima shook her head.
"I'm not missing this!"
She rode up the hill, following the Warrior Princess and the bard. The moment Asima reached the top, her eyes widened in horror. At the bottom of the hill, Asima saw an old man being beaten up by two men, while three others stood around them. Xena and Gabrielle raced towards them. Xena's eyes grew wide with rage.
Both Xena and Gabrielle flipped off their horses into tight somersaults. They landed on their feet before the group of men. The men turned, swords drawn, and attacked them.
One man charged at Xena, viciously swinging his sword at her. She leapt into the air and snapped out a foot. It tore into the man's face, whipping it sharply to the left. Blood and several teeth exploded from his mouth. He flew back through the air, colliding with another man. They fell to the ground. Xena landed. Another man lunged at her. She side-stepped his approach and rammed her fist full-force into his face. Blood exploded from his nose, and his head whipped back. Xena then rammed her foot hard into his chest. The man flew back through the air, smashing back-first into a boulder. He dropped to the ground in a cloud of dust.
A man swung his sword down at Gabrielle. She drew her sais, and blocked it. She rammed her foot into his groin, then his chest. He flew back through the air and landed hard, his head smashing against a rock. He rolled onto his stomach and lay motionless. The last man ran at her screaming, sword drawn. Gabrielle somersaulted over his head. The man spun around. With three rapid, punishing kicks, Gabrielle knocked the sword out of his hand, and hit him in the chest and face. Blood erupted from his mouth and nose. He staggered back. Gabrielle then executed a vicious whirling kick. Her heel connected solidly with the man's chin. He cart-wheeled back through the air, smashing onto his stomach in a cloud of dust.
It was over.
Xena and Gabrielle turned to each other, nodding once. Gabrielle ran over to the old man. Xena turned to her left, and saw that one of the attackers was running away. Xena snarled.
She ran after him. Xena somersaulted through the air, emitting her shrill battle cry. She landed in front of the man. He instantly drew a knife, glaring at her heatedly. Xena smiled coldly. She tossed aside her sword.
"You're not going anywhere."
The man snarled.
"Wanna bet, bitch??"
Xena's smile turned absolutely predatory.
"Oooooooh, you're gonna eat those words." she purred dangerously.
The man ran at Xena, lunging at her. She easily dodged him. Xena grabbed his wrist and broke it with a loud crack. The man screamed in agonizing pain. The knife tumbled out of his hand. Xena rammed a fist hard into his stomach. The violent blow lifted the man into the air. His eyes bulged out of his head, all the air rushing out of his lungs in a flash. Xena let out a savage cry, and rammed the heel of her right hand into the man's face. There was a loud snap as his nose was crushed. He flew back through the air, crashing into the ground. Xena was on him in a second. Before the man could react, Xena jabbed him hard on either side of his neck with her fingers. The man's eyes grew wide as saucers.
"G-Gah-Guh-guaaak-" he gagged.
"I just cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You've got thirty seconds to tell me who you are and why you and five men were attacking a defenseless old man."
The man struggled in vain, trying to fight the paralyzing pain that was ripping through his throat like a dagger. Xena grabbed him by the collar, yanking him up until they were face to face. Xena features were twisted in a hideous rage.
The man gagged, and finally forced himself to speak.
"R-R-Romans-" he croaked. "W-We're-Ro-Romans-"
Xena's ice-blue eyes narrowed with feral intensity.
"Who sent you?!"
Xena raised an eyebrow. She snarled heatedly.
"Why?! What does he want?!"
Xena's eyes widened. A surge of fear shot through her. She shook the man roughly.
"Sekhmet the Destroyer?!" she hissed heatedly.
"Y-Yeah-old man-p-p-priest-thought he could tell-t-tell us-w-where to f-find it-"
Xena instantly jabbed the man in the neck again. The man rolled his eyes back in relief. With a harsh cry, Xena rammed her fist into his face again, knocking him out. She released him and he dropped to the ground. Xena rose to her feet. Gabrielle and Asima sat alongside the old man, tending his wounds. Xena ran over to them.
"How is he?" she asked.
Gabrielle turned towards Xena.
"Badly bruised, but no broken bones. He may have a concussion, though."
Asima glared at the fallen men.
"Why?!" she exclaimed. "Why would they attack Bashshar?!"
Xena raised an eyebrow.
"You know him??"
"Yes! He's a priest! I've known him since I was a child!!"
"What's this about?" asked Gabrielle.
Xena's eyes narrowed. She looked off into the distance.
"They're Romans. More specifically, Lepidus's men."
Gabrielle's eyes widened in shock.
"Lepidus?! Hasn't he formed some sort of triumvirate with Marc Anthony and Octavian?! What business has he got here?!"
Xena turned to Gabrielle. Her face was set in a icy grimace.
"He's looking to strengthen his position. He's after the Chalice of Sekhmet."
Gabrielle's brows knitted.
"The Egyptian goddess of destruction. An old legend says that anyone who drinks of the Chalice of Sekhmet will gain incredible powers."
"Powers??" asked Gabrielle incredulously. "What powers? How??"
"T-t-the goddess's blood fills the chalice..." croaked the old man. "Th-They drink it-"
Asima instantly moved to the old man's side.
"Rest, Bashshar. You're hurt badly."
The old man groaned in pain. Xena knelt by his side, placing a hand on his face.
"We'll take you to safety." she said softly. "Just take it easy."
"What was he saying?" asked Gabrielle.
Xena turned towards her.
"Anyone who drinks Sekhmet's blood will gain godlike powers. We've got to find that chalice and destroy it. If Lepidus or anyone else gets their hands on it, millions will suffer."
Xena then turned to Asima.
"Bashshar will ride with me. Let's get going."