Xena: Warrior Princess is copyrighted to MCA/Universal/Renaissance. Images and characters are used here without intent to profit from or infringe upon this copyrighted material. All US and international copyright laws apply to the original works written by the authors.

This story is the fifth story in this series and follows the characters, Alex ‘n’ Ellie Wallace.  The previous stories are

Loving her...again

Knowing her...again.

Living with her …again

Reading her Scrolls…again

Huge thanks to all who have contacted me about these stories I hope they know how much their kind words have encouraged me.  You all know who you are..  xxx

To my wee girl Suzy…for chasing my demons away and filling up my hug battery!!

Uber:  X and G meet again in the 21st Century

Disclaimers.  There is no really bad violence in this story, and I am still too shy for rampant bodice ripping sex!!!  Just love and romance between two women….

This story not for resale or profit.

Plea for mercy!!  I suffered a series of mini strokes at 50 years old...yeh...yeh...I know now...too much work and not enough play! The result was I lost the ability to read, write, or remember much for a coupla years…..Long road back but with a lot of help and hard work…..here I am!!  However, punctuation remains a mystery to me….so please be kind and roll with the irritations of commas and apostrophe thingies in the wrong place….there’s only so much the spellchecker can help me with!!..

In December 2005, the Law in UK was changed to make same sex marriages legal….YIPPEEE, me and my girl were married in April 2006 after 16 years together.  Who would ever have thunk it possible!! 

What do you Bards and readers out there think??  Email me.  All comments welcome and hugs will be returned.


Alex’s Celtic Knot

Clan Wallace Crest.

On a Dig with her…again

Chapter 1

Alex Wallace’s monster truck travelled relentlessly up the near vertical pass of Bealach-na-bo and cresting the top, headed for the remote village of Applecross on the rugged coast of Western Scotland.   In the short journey from the McKinnon Hospital on Skye, Alex had been listening patiently and affectionately to the gentle bickering emanating from the back seat.  She looked over at the green eyes of her partner Ellie, sitting in the passenger seat and returned the silent giggle she saw there.  She loved it when Ellie grinned, her nose wrinkled up and she looked so damn cute that Alex just knew, if she needed any reminder, why they had been married earlier in the year.  The truck came to a halt outside the Applecross Hotel and Alex leapt out to help the elderly woman from the back seat.

“Take it easy Jeannie….” she murmured and supported the tall grey haired woman on her arm.

“Alex…I am going mad with ‘taking it easy’….that’s all that daft old sod ever says to me!”  Jeannie exploded, indicating the huge figure of James Wallace exiting the truck on the opposite side.

The grizzled old Scotsman replied, vehemently “For Gods sake, Jeannie….you’ve had a bloody heart attack….what else is a man suppose to say?”

Always the voice of reason, Ellie Wallace took Uncle J‘s arm and led him away up the path to the Hotel, leaving Alex to bring Jeannie.  The last few weeks had taken its toll on the whole family.  Jeannie had been taken ill on a trip with Ellie and only the swift action of the small blonde Texan and the emergency services, had headed off a tragedy.  Jeannie had been the housekeeper at the Applecross hotel for 40 years and her loss would have left an aching hole in the lives of Alex, Ellie, Uncle J and the ‘Boys’, Alex’s ‘almost ‘brothers Hamish and Donald.

As the party reached the door of the imposing building overlooking the Sound of Raasaey, it opened and they were surrounded by well wishers, greeting Jeannie and welcoming her home.

Let’s get you up to your room, then Jeannie.” said Tilly, one of the receptionists and she was rewarded for her trouble with an indignant roar from the indomitable Scotswoman.

“I am going into the bar…I want a cup of tea made in my own teapot, a slice of cake and a sit down in my own home….that’s what I want….and that’s what I’m going to get!”

J shook his head at Alex who shrugged in reply and with Jeannie’s arm in the crook of her elbow, she led the still frail woman to the seat by the window, overlooking the promontory outside the hotel, and settled her with a cushion at her back.

Ellie went into the kitchen and put the kettle on the range.  She prepared a tray and as she waited for it to boil, the kitchen door opened and J shambled in, his shoulders slumped with the worry of the last few weeks.  He had rarely left Jeannie’s bedside and the strain showed clearly on his face.  She crossed the room and took him into her arms.

“J....give her time….she’s just grumpy and hates the fuss.”

“Aye I know that lass, it just pains me that she won’t let me take care of her.”

“Uncle J!....Jeannie has been looking after this family for 40 years...give her a bit more than two weeks to realise that she needs looking after, for once.”

Ellie was rewarded with a weak smile but she was dismayed to see the exhaustion etched on the old mans face.

“Come to think of it, J” she smoothed his hair back from his face…”you look like you need a rest too…I think that we should pack the pair of you off to your beds….but not til Jeanie’s had her tea and cake!”

When Ellie and J returned to the bar bearing the tray of tea and cake, they found that Hamish and Donald had arrived, both still in uniform.  Hamish was in his black, Police motorcycle leathers and Donald in the green leather of the Emergency Motorcycle paramedic.  They were hunkered own in front of Jeannie and each had taken one of her hands.  She gazed at them fondly and whispered.

“Thank you, my wee Boys, for what you did….I wouldn’t be here but for you two...and my wee girl over there.” She nodded at Ellie who smiled back.

As J shuffled in next to Jeannie; she withdrew a hand from Donald grasp and put it on J’s arm. 

“….and I’m not forgettin' you, big man.” Alex was moved and pleased that she had made this gesture to J and smiled as he blushed, bright red, at her unaccustomed gentleness.

When the tea and cake had been finished, it was Ellie who braved Jeannie’s wrath and suggested it was time for a rest, she received no argument and with Alex on one side and Donald on the other, Jeannie was escorted to her room.  At Hamish’s insistence, J went off to his room a few moments later.

The four younger members of the family reconvened in the bar and when each had a beer in front of them, Alex opened the discussion.

“OK….where do we go from here?....First problem? Getting Jeannie to slow down.  Second problem? Getting J to stop driving her daft with his fussing.  Third problem?  Getting both of them to back off and let someone else run this place.”

“I reckon it would be easier to solve third world debt than those three…” Donald observed but it made them all laugh and they relaxed a little.

Ellie, who had been charged with running the newly opened Conference centre in the Hotel and who had more business experience than the other three put together, was the obvious choice, and so three heads turned to her for suggestions.  Alex was so pleased to see that Ellie’s confidence, so badly damaged by her abusive father over many years, had grown.  Her brow was furrowed and her beautiful green eyes were thoughtful as she gathered her thoughts and spoke.

“First of all, we need an audit on the books to find out just how much profit the Hotel is making….then we can decide on staffing levels and maybe hire a manager. That’s the easy part… and it’s mine!!…You guys have to figure out how to get ‘our parents’ to slow down!!”

“Divide and conquer”…suggested Alex.” I’ll take Jeannie and you two Boys get J….We need to box clever here….I suggest the softly, softly approach…...you know….how precious they are to us and how we need them to be well …and here to look after us…that kind of thing..”

The Boys nodded and all four drew a deep breath as they prepared for the battle ahead.

Previously, Ellie had asked the staff to join her in the Conference room and leaving the other three with a smile and a kiss for Alex… she made her way there.  

Tilly, the receptionist was a young woman in her mid twenties, who had come to live in the village to look after her grandmother.  Sadly, her grandmother had died but Tilly had stayed in the village.  She was bright, good with people and skilled with computers and communication.

Margaret, one of the waitresses, was a mature woman in her fifties; her children had grown up in Applecross and now had moved away.  She was grateful for the company her job afforded her and was skilled in the management of communications between the kitchen and the guests.  John Taggart was the Chef, he had become used to doing Jeannie’s bidding as she did most of the cooking, but he was a good cook in his own right.

Fergus worked behind the bar.  He was 21 years old and after finishing University, had returned to his home in Applecross to consider his options.  He considered his job a temporary one, but he was a good barman and coped well when the Hotel was busy.

Ellie observed them as they entered the room.  They were good people and had proven their worth over the last few weeks when the family’s main focus had been Jeannie and J.

She had decided to enlist their help in attempting to take the strain from the shoulders of the two elder members of the family.  She outlined the plan that all would continue as normal, but let slip that there could be promotions in the offing.  She was surprised when they all looked at each other and blew out sighs of relief.

“What?” said Ellie and looked to Tilly for an explanation.

“Och, Ellie....We all thought we were here for the chop...and that the Wallaces may have decided to sell up...”

Ellie smiled, “That’s not going to happen….This place means the world to all of the family and it will be a Wallace place for a long time to come.  We need all of you to pull together and prove to J that you can run it, without him constantly on duty”

“What about you, Ellie?  Are you going to manage it?” Margaret asked.

Ellie hesitated, she was forced to examine her own needs for a second, but then spoke firmly.

“My place is with Alex…and…although I‘m happy to set things up....I have my own career to consider.  So it’s down to you guys to keep this place going.”

Later in the evening, J and Jeannie, rested and refreshed, had come back down to the restaurant and sat with the other four as they had dinner together.  They were the only guests; it was a quiet time for the hotel and the family enjoyed the privacy.

However, the atmosphere was a little tense and eventually J spoke, his voice gruff and gravelly.

“I want to say something…..and you may not like it, Jeannie”

She turned her head to look at him and spoke.

“Not like what, J?”

“…I’m giving you the sack…You need to retire….this place is too much for you.”

A shocked silence fell over the table.  Jeannie’s face showed that she was dumbfounded; when she spoke her voice was soft and they all had to lean forward, to hear it.

“The sack...What am I supposed to do... And where am I to go?...This place has been my home for 40 years.”

J took her hand in his and his eyes filled with tears.

“Jeannie, when you were in the hospital...I prayed, like I have never prayed before, to any god or goddess who would listen to me…. to save you….I promised all of them that I would do anything it takes to keep you safe, if they would just give you back to us…if the light had gone out of your face….I could’nae have born the darkness that would follow…. and now it’s time to pay my dues.  Jeannie, I don’t want you here as my housekeeper any longer....I want you here…as my wife….What do you say, my sweet lass?”

There was a stunned silence around the table as Jeannie looked hard and long into James Wallace’s rheumy, blue eyes.  When she spoke, her voice was tremulous with emotion…

“Forty years I’ve waited to hear you say those words, my Jimmy Boy….forty years...and all I had to do was have a heart attack....if I’d known how easy it would be....I’d have done it years ago…!”

The table erupted in laughter and relief. Jeannie was wrapped up in J’s arms and her answer was obviously, a resounding YES!

Alex gestured to Fergus who came to the table.

“Champagne, Fergus….two bottles to start and keep ‘em coming..!!”

The uproar brought quizzical glances from the staff as they popped their heads around the door to see what was going on.  Alex gestured them to come in and when they all had a glass; it was her turn to offer a toast.

“To Uncle J and Jeannie….to your future happiness and… if I may say….it’s about bloody time!!.”

The toast rang around the room as they all raised their glasses to the happy couple, who sat close together, their hands clasped under the table.

Chapter 2

The next morning, Alex and Ellie were on the promontory outside their tiny Croft, completing their usual morning exercises.  Alex had done her sword drills and Ellie, her kick boxing exercises and they were just finishing their T’ai Chi ritual, when the phone rang in the Croft.  They ignored it and let the answer phone take it; this time was special for them and took precedence over all other things.  They both took deep cleansing breaths and turned to bow to each other, then Ellie moved into Alex’s arms for a post exercise kiss and they stood close together for a few moments.  They walked to the driftwood bench and sat down.

“So, Hon, do you think we will need our plan for the Hotel, or will J and Jeannie be so wrapped up in each other, that we can slide it past them?!!”

“I think J’s priorities may have changed a little but with any luck they will both agree. Did you get hold of Gordon yesterday?

“Yep….he is looking at the books as we speak and he’ll get back to us later today, hopefully.”

Gordon Lachlan had been the hotel’s accountant for twenty years and he had been instrumental in keeping J’s appalling attempts at bookkeeping, in some kind of order.  No-one knew the hotel better than he, and Alex knew he would come up with a plan.

The two lovers walked back to the Croft hand in hand and Ellie went to the kitchen to prepare their breakfast.  Alex picked up the phone on her way in and leant against the worktop as she keyed in the code to collect messages.

“Alex….this is Alan Stimpson....if you are there...PICK UP...!”  The voice on the phone was breathless with what sounded like excitement; Alex raised her eyebrow towards Ellie and shrugged.

“Call me…Soon…Alex….it is really important. I’m in my office at the University….Call me soon.”

Alan was Alex’s old professor from the days when she was working towards her PhD on the archaeological dig in Greece.

“Must be big.” Alex observed. “.I’ve never heard Alan that excited...he just doesn’t do ….excited!”

“So phone him back, and put us all out of our misery.”

Alex went to her study and returned with her address book, she looked up Alan’s number and then helped Ellie carry their breakfast into the sitting room.  The number rang just twice and Alex heard Alan’s voice on the speakerphone.


“Yes Alan, what’s up?”

“Absolutely nothing, Alex ….but I have the most wonderful news!!  Earlier in the year, we got funding for a new experimental scanner to use in the department…and we have just got around to the sealed container we got out of the Warrior Princess’s tomb…”

There was a quick intake of breath from the tall Celt, she put her breakfast down on the coffee table and turned to face her girl.

“Go on Alan…”

“Alex….you have got to come see what we have found….it is amazing and brilliant and groundbreaking and I can hardly speak, I am so excited.  I wanted you to be in on this, Alex….it was your discovery...When can you come?”

Alex looked at Ellie who mouthed ”Now!!”  Alex relayed this to Alan and rang off.

Ellie remained silent as she watched her girl process this information and put her hand out to her, Alex took it and squeezed.  A few moments later, after hastily packing a bag, they pulled the truck up outside the Hotel and walked in. J was sitting in the bar with a cup of tea and smiled as they came in.

“Uncle J, we have to go to Edinburgh, there’s been some developments about some artefacts from the Warrior Princess‘ tomb.  Will you and Jeannie be OK….we’ll have to stay overnight.”

He smiled at his girls and assured them that he had been looking after himself for 70 odd years and that he and Jeannie would be fine.  Alex kissed him but, as they left she made certain that Tilly had her cell phone number on the Hotel’s speed dial.

They began the 5 hour journey to Edinburgh and, with a stop for lunch, pulled into the University faculty of Archaeology just before 2.30pm.   Ellie almost had to run to keep up with her girl’s long strides as she navigated the rabbit warren of corridors and staircases, but eventually they came to a halt outside a laboratory with a key pad on the door.  Alex keyed in the code and they entered.

Ellie looked around and saw that the room was filled with equipment of all kinds.  Lights flashed and buzzers buzzed as the machines clicked and whirred.  A grey haired figure sat at a desk on the far side of the room and he turned as the door opened; when he saw her, he threw down the glasses that had been perched on his nose, and rushed to her.

“Alex….it’s astonishing…..I can’t wait to show you…..you won’t believe it...”

Alex took hold of the man, who barely reached her shoulder, and made him make eye contact with her.

“Alan.” she said quietly, as if talking to a child.” Calm down…Take a deep breath and sit down.”

The little man did as he was told and seemed to wake up as he saw Ellie.

“Oh, I am so sorry, you must think me so rude….I’m Alan Stimpson and you must be Ellie….I’m pleased to meet you.” And he offered his hand, which Ellie took and smiled at him.

“Your fame has spread.” He added

“Fame?” questioned the small blonde.

Yes, you are the American who has settled our Alex down….Quite an achievement!”

Alex grimaced.

“You make me sound like The Wild Woman of the Highlands.”

“….and your point would be?” teased Alan, but the tone of his voice betrayed his affection for the tall, dark Celt.

“OK, Alan....spill...what has got you so excited?”

The elderly professor picked up what looked like an X ray film and held it up to the light.  Alex grabbed it from him and examined it with barely concealed delight.

“By all the gods and goddesses….I can’t believe it…there’s a scroll in there!!”

“Yep!!... There is certainly one and possibly two!  They seem intact and may have been protected from decay by the seal.  We’ll know more when we get to the deeper scans.  This is your field Alex, That’s why I needed you here...your knowledge of Ancient Greek script and scrolls will be vital.”

It was always a pleasure to Ellie that her girl was so highly regarded and she sank into a seat, a little away from the desk, to allow the Archaeologists to work.  She watched mesmerised, as they pored over great sheaves of computer printouts and columns of figures.

She sensed the excitement in both of them and although she couldn’t understand the technical stuff, she knew that whatever they had discovered was big.   After an hour or so, Alex noticed that her girl had drifted off to sleep and stopped Alan in mid flow.  She went to a cupboard in the corner of the room and took out a tartan blanket; she placed it over Ellie and brushing a stray lock of hair back from her face, tucked her in.  A tiny murmur escaped from the wee girl, but she returned to her doze.

When Ellie woke up, she was stiff from the long drive and sleeping in the chair, so she stood up and stretched her sore muscles.  She looked around but seemed to be alone….then she noticed movement from the part of the lab behind a thick glass screen.  As she approached it, she saw the tall dark figure of Alex and the smaller figure of Alan.  They were both wearing white coveralls, which left only their faces exposed and each wore a face mask.   Alex’s blue eyes now shone through her mask as she looked at Ellie, in response to her tap on the glass. Alex left the screen that she and Alan had been looking at and came to the door.  It was in two parts and was a kind of isolating airlock.  The inner door opened and Alex walked into the chamber, the inner door closed behind her automatically.  She removed the coveralls and the mask and placed them in a bin, then she pressed a button and the outer door opened.

Ellie watched this as if it was a film and she began to realise how little she knew of her girls work.  Alex came to her and took her into her arms and hugged her.

“I’m sorry darlin’…got carried away….you must be shattered….I’ll just finish up here and we’ll go to the hotel and get some food.”

Ellie took Alex’s face in her hands and claimed eye contact.

“Now you listen to me, my big Scot….you do whatever you need to do….this is your work and it is obviously something very important to you. I can find my own way to the hotel and I’ll see you later.”

Alex shook her head. 

“No way…what we may, or may not have discovered has been hidden for 2000 years…..another few days won’t matter....and I didn’t marry you to leave you in some hotel all alone….no question Ellie!!....I will be with you in a second.” Alex cut off her girls protest with a kiss and, smiling into her green eyes, she went to the intercom on the wall.

“Alan….Ellie and I need some food and rest....we’ll head off to the hotel….Why don’t you join us for breakfast….about 8.30 tomorrow??”

Inside the sealed room, Alan turned, gave Alex a thumbs up and waved goodbye before returning to his work.

The two lovers walked hand in hand to the truck and made their way to their usual hotel.  Once in their room, Alex drew Ellie a bath and ordered a room service supper.  By the time the small blonde was relaxing in the steamy atmosphere, Alex had checked how things were at the Applecross Hotel.  She had spoken to J and he had assured her that all was well, Jeannie was behaving herself and, J thought, getting altogether too used to being a lady of leisure.  This image made Alex laugh and after saying goodbye to Uncle J she went into the bathroom to share this gem with her partner. Ellie was bright pink and covered in bubbles, and as Alex sat on the side of the bath; she picked up a handful of bubbles and blew them over her girl. Ellie giggled and pulled the dark head down for a kiss.  Alex decided on a quick shower as the meal would arrive soon and a few moments later, the two damp heads were sitting close together, dressed in bathrobes, enjoying a glass of wine with their steak and salad.

Between mouthfuls, Alex explained that ten years previously, on her first real dig as a graduate student, she had been working on the tomb of a mysterious Female Warrior Princess in Greece.  This much Ellie knew from the many photographs dotted around her girls study.  They showed a much younger Alex up to her knees in dusty holes, holding up shards of pottery with ecstatic expressions on her face.  Ellie never tired of hearing her girl’s deep sexy voice and she just let the sounds wash over her.  Alex’s excitement was clear to see and her eyes flashed as she spoke…She told Ellie of how she had, first of all, found what looked like a pot shard in the tomb….but that as she carefully brushed away the sand, it became clear that they may have found an entire pot..  It had taken Alex most of a day to uncover the whole artefact and with painstaking care, she had removed the layers of the sand around It and extracted it, whole and intact.  It had also been found that the pot was sealed with a multi layered wax and parchment seal.

The pot was so precious that it had been wrapped in layer after layer of bubble wrap, and carried back to the University by one of the diggers himself, causing no end of problems for the airline security staff….but the wheels had been oiled by Dimitri Theodorakis, the Professor of the Faculty of Archaeology at the University of Athens.  It had been he who had first asked for Alan Stimpson’s help in the excavation.  The University of Edinburgh was a leader in this field and although the Greek Government kept all rights to the artefact, Dimitri and Alan, who had been friends since their University days, trusted each other and knew that there would be no repeat of the Elgin Marbles fiasco that still caused controversy in the world of Ancient Studies!!

Ellie asked questions and Alex was pleased to fill in the details in between sips of wine and mouthfuls of food…She explained…

The tomb was a simple cave carved from a rock face and sealed with a huge stone ‘cemented’ in place... The sarcophagus was made of stone and the lid had been broken in several pieces suggesting that the tomb had, at some stage, been robbed. Apart from the buried pot, there were no other major artefacts except a model of a war horse.  The real evidence for their suppositions had come from the carvings on the sarcophagus and in places around the walls of the cave.  It had been here that Alex had first found and copied the complex knot design.  It had been a recurring theme in the tomb, most evident on the pictograms of the woman with flowing black hair wearing metal armour which Alex suggested, would have been made from bronze.  She was seen standing taller than the soldiers surrounding her and she was clearly their leader, as it appeared that their swords and spears were raised, as if in salute to her.  There had been no indication of her name anywhere they could find, and so she had just been called WP for short.

Alex explained that despite the lack of major artefacts, there was enough data to ensure that her PhD was secure, but the earthenware pot was deemed too fragile to open until new technology emerged to assist them. It had been locked safely in a sealed vault in the University archives for over ten years until the new scanner had been acquired, which Alan was convinced could reveal some of the secrets hidden on whatever was within the sealed earthenware container.

Ellie had finished her meal and listened intently to her lover, absorbing the information and building mental pictures of the dig.  Her writer’s brain began to weave stories of, and around the dig and of the Warrior Princess and her tomb.  Possible scenarios began to swim into focus and she started to get excited at the possibility of her and Alex working together.  Finally, Alex began to eat her, now cold steak and warm salad with relish and Ellie’s thoughts drifted back to that hotel room in California, not even a year ago yet.  She had felt inexplicably drawn to the tall dark handsome stranger she had bumped into, and they had realised very quickly that they had been lovers in many past lives.  Ellie had assured Alex that she could be of great help to her; she had talked with politicians and travelled the world as a journalist….and now, she thought, maybe that time had come...

Chapter 3

At 8.30 the next morning, Alex and Ellie were seated at table for four in the dining room awaiting their guests.  The waitress had brought them tea and as they poured the strong brew, Alan and another figure came into the dining room.  Alex appeared to be somewhat taken aback by the other person’s presence but rose to shake Alan’s hand, Ellie was more than a little surprised when the second person threw herself at Alex and planted a very intimate kiss on her lips.  Alex immediately withdrew from the contact, took the girl’s hands from around her neck and put some distance between them.  Ellie smiled fondly at her very discomfited partner, who had blushed bright red, and she stood, offered her hand to the woman and introduced herself.

“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Ellie…Ellie Wallace. And she fixed the woman with a relaxed but steely look.

There was a momentary pause before the woman took the offered hand.  Her voice had a foreign inflection; she was a little taller than the blonde Texan and had a mop of curly black hair that seemed to defy the ministrations of a comb; her eyes so dark as to be almost black. Ellie would have put her at about 30 years of age.

“Hello, I’m George….hmmm Ellie and Alex Wallace?    I’m going to take a wild guess that you two are not related by blood…..so I guess it must be true.”

Alex, who had by now regained some composure, responded.

“Yes George, Ellie and I were married in January”

George seemed to consider her options before turning to Ellie and with a smile murmured.

“Well, you are the lucky one Ellie….I’m afraid you will have broken hearts all over Europe for catching this one….Congratulations …Sorry about the OTT greeting… I was staking my claim just in case she was still on the open market..!!”

The two women laughed together and Alex interjected.

“When you two have finished bonding over my availability….or lack of it….can we have breakfast?””

The conversation ranged from ‘What have you done since we last saw each other’…to the cost of the new scanner …and back to memories of the Greek Dig.  Alex was careful to include Ellie in the discussion and clarified issues that she may have found confusing.  When they had finished their meal, they agreed to meet back at the lab to begin the scan of the pot.

Back in their room, Ellie looked at Alex and began to tease her girl.

“So lover girl….how many women am I going to have to fight for my rights to you??”

Alex looked very uncomfortable and so Ellie wrapped her arms around her and hugged her.

“Hon….I’m kidding….stop looking like a spectre from your past has just sprung up.  I wasn’t celibate before we met and I don’t expect you were either...so chill…my big girl...”

The tall Celt looked into her girls face and was relieved to see no doubts or concerns.  Alex knew how fragile Ellie had been when they had first found each other again and she was pleased that their time together had enabled her to be so relaxed when another woman had laid hands on her partner.  Alex was not so sure she would be able to stop herself decking anyone…who so much as looked at Ellie!

“George is actually Klaitemnestra Georgiadou!!....Quite a mouthful so we all called her George. She works for the University of Athens with Dimitri Theodorakis...when he found out that we were going to start working on the pot, he must have sent her over.  “

“So what’s the story with you and her…..my handsome ‘breaker of female hearts all over Europe’!!”

“Not a lot if truth be told, love…she was always a bit too pushy for me…never truly trusted her professionally or personally…..she’s ambitious and isn’t too worried about who she steps on to get what she wants.”

“….and it looks like she wants you!!”

Alex kissed Ellie for a deep and probing moment, and then looking into her lovely face, shook her head.

“She can want all she likes…” and she indicated her left breast.  ”This is spoken for.”

The new scanner was developed by the American Space programme to scan for minute flaws in metal or other materials used on the Space Shuttle.  It was a real coup for Edinburgh University to be able to acquire one, and Alex knew that the time they had to investigate the pot was limited.  When the two women arrived at the lab, Alan and George had already retrieved the pot from the secure vault and were fastening it in a small cradle, to keep it still during the scan.  Alex dropped a quick kiss on her girl’s cheek before entering the airlock and donning the protective clothing.  She opened the inner door and joined her two colleagues at the computer screen.  Ellie was fascinated to see the unassuming earthenware pot that was causing the three archaeologists to fuss around, it as if it was the most precious thing in the world.

Eventually, the cradle was placed inside the scanner and, as the machine was activated, a gentle vibration reached Ellie in the outer lab.

About an hour later, all four of them were seated around the large table in the outer lab scrutinizing the scanner films.  It seemed to Ellie that each film had taken a slice through the pot either laterally or longitudinally, the three Scientists were detailing which shot would provide the best information to feed into the computer in order to rebuild the scrolls digitally. 

Eventually, they seemed to agree and they returned to the inner lab to enter the data in the mainframe computer.  This time, Ellie entered too, Alex thought she looked so cute in the white coveralls and smiled at how her girl was taking to the work like a duck to water!

The big computer chugged away, analysing the data and after about 20 minutes began to build a digital image of the scrolls on the screen.  Alan activated a big LCD repeater screen which was on the wall next to the airlock and they all stood watching as the image appeared.

Alex was the first to speak…her voice low and rumbling.

Sweet Aphrodite’s Shell…and by Ares sword…this is un....bloody….believable.!!!!

Even Ellie could see the vague shapes of letters appearing on the screen, there were some cracks in the parchment and gaps in the script, but line after line of closely written script was appearing with every second that passed.  She felt Alex’s arm come around her waist and pull her close to her side, and she could feel the excitement emanating form her tall, dark girl.

The screen now showed the complete image of the two scrolls and Alan was preparing to enhance the scans and print them. 

They returned to the outer lab and George went to the small kitchenette to make some tea.  Alan exited the inner lab and gave each of them a sheaf of paper, Ellie was touched that she was being included and leafed through them.  Although she didn’t speak or read Greek, she felt a strange connection with the symbols.... the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she rubbed at them.  Alex recognised this little habit and put her hands on her shoulders.

“You OK, darlin’…it’s been a long day….you tired?”

Ellie had hardly realised that the hours had sped by and it was now late afternoon.

Alex turned to Alan and George,

“We have all the data now, what say we call it a day?  I know you want to know what the scrolls say, but I don’t want to rush this….we’ve waited 10 years….another few days won’t hurt.  Ellie and I will go home.  We need to be around Uncle J and Jeannie for a few days.  When I have made any progress with the translation, I’ll call you and we can see where we go next.” 

Alan groaned but grinned,”Oh Alex, marriage has made you soft….in days gone past you’d have pulled all nighters, to get this done...”

“True, Alan...but that was when I had nothing better to do!”

Laughter rang around the lab, but only Ellie noticed the dark look on George’s face

Chapter 4.

On the journey back to Applecross the next day, Alex filled in some of the gaps in the story of the WP, for Ellie.

“We are talking about a time in Greek History when the country was divided and fought over by Warlords and Kings.  Towns and villages were forced to pay dues to whatever warlord happened by, or face the consequences.  The ones with the biggest armies, or the really big swords, won out and everyone else suffered. The Arts were still an important part of everyday life and history was recorded by travelling Bards who would earn their living taking the news to towns and villages all over Greece. It was the time of the Olympian Gods so they had to get their share of dues too. Temples to various gods and goddesses were everywhere, and the people believed that these Olympians controlled their destinies.  I kinda formed the impression that our WP was a good lass and maybe fought to help the weak.”

“What gave you that idea?”

“Don’t know darlin’...instinct?...Vibes through time?...I just  ...knew it ...when I stood in the tomb for the first time.  It was a resting place that had been prepared with care and love. There must have been artefacts at one time…..maybe weapons and offerings for a safe journey to the underworld, but even robbed of them…it just felt like  …”  Alex struggle to find a word….and then her girl spoke softly.

“…there was love in every corner??

Alex glanced over to see gentle tears flowing down Ellie face and she put out her hand, to wipe them away.

“Yes, my sweet girl….exactly that.”

They arrived back at the hotel in Applecross in time to share supper with the two elders of their family.  Both J and Jeannie remembered the dig well and were keen to know what they had found out. 

“So, the full story is in the scrolls, you think?” asked J.  He had watched as Alex had put together the clues after the original dig and he remembered with great pride when the research paper had led to the thesis and finally to Alex’s PhD.

“That was the way they recorded their history and art in those days…it will take some time to interpret and translate the symbols and there are lots of gaps  ...but I’m confident we will find out a great deal more about our WP, than we know now.  You never know, there may be another book in it for me!!”

The conversation then turned to the topic of the wedding, and Jeannie announced that it would be a quiet affair at the hotel.  They had decided to have the ceremony on New Years Eve, and Alex laughed.

“That, you two devious folk, will be a Hogmanay to remember!!”

The next morning, Ellie woke and rolled over to cuddle her lover but found only an empty space.  She looked through the window at the promontory but Alex was not there.  She slipped from the bed, put on her robe and went to the hall.

“I’m in the study darlin’…but watch your step.  ” Alex’s muffled voice reached her and she gently pushed open the door. Her lanky partner was curled up under the desk surrounded by wires and cables and Ellie bent down to eye level with her.

“What the heck are you doin’ Hon?”

“Moving the desktop into the sitting room….there’s more room and we’ll need space to spread out the papers…there’s no room for you in here….it was only ever s’posed to be a one woman workspace.”

The impact of what Alex had said hit the small blonde Texan and she felt the sting of tears at the back of her eyes.  She sat on the chair, reached down to pull Alex up to her and deposited a sweet, chaste kiss on the dusty forehead.

“In the history of sweet things you have said to me Hon....that is the sweetest ever.”

Alex looked confused, ”Why?...what’d I say?”

“Alex, I was awake quite a few times last night… I know how much this work means to you, and felt like I should give you some space because…I don’t know what help I can offer you. This is your work, my love.”

Alex grinned and took Ellie’s small hand in hers.

“You’re wrong, my wee girl.  Archaeology is part of my life….I don’t go to an office 9 to 5 and then come home.   I live and breath Archaeology....it’s my passion and a driving force in my life…..You are the centre of my life…..so how could you not be part of it all?   Besides which, when we decided to come to Scotland to live, you promised me that you would be very valuable to me because you had studied the stars and had the gift of prophecy….so time to pay up....cowgirl!!

Ellie absorbed the words and the love that flowed between them, she just knew that Alex meant every word she had said so, she shrugged her shoulders, smiled and whispered.

“Then let’s get to it, shall we?”

Whilst Alex was setting up the desktop, the phone rang and Ellie answered.  It was Gordon Lachlan, their Accountant.  Ellie had a conversation and made some notes before thanking him and ringing off.

Alex’s head was, once again, under the table and Ellie took a few moments to admire that part of her girls anatomy presented to her.

“Hmmm” she thought ”Nice buns!!”

Alex’s voice, muffled by the cables she had in her mouth reached her

“And keep your eyes off my butt….I’m trying to work here!”

The blonde Texan grinned and asked

“How do you know I am looking at your butt, oh love of all my lives?”

“Because the Pope’s a Catholic…. I’m a Scot ….and you, my love, are a lecherous Cowgirl!!”

They both giggled and Ellie sat on the floor next her girl.

“Gordon says the Hotel is in better shape than we hoped...he sees no reason that we can’t hire some new staff.  In fact, .he says it makes good business sense, so I guess we should go talk to J at some stage?”

“Yep...good idea…pass me the Philips, babe…please”

Ellie looked blankly at Alex’s hand, extended expectantly from under the desk

“The what?” she queried...

Alex extricated her lanky frame from under the desk.

“The cross head screwdriver...my sweet girl….come on you promised you could be valuable to me!!”

About half an hour later, the computer was set up and Alex had established a satellite hookup to Edinburgh.  Alan was on line, and so was George…hers was the first voice they heard and it came over the link, husky and sexy.

“Hello my darling Alex and how are you today?”

We are fine thanks George” .Alex’s voice brooked no silly games and they began to work on the scrolls.  It was not a simple translation, that Alex could have done blindfolded; the rolled layers of the scrolls had to be isolated and then separated from each other. Finally, they were all able to agree that the first section of symbols were ready to be worked on. Alan and George took one section and Alex and Ellie, the other.  They agreed to check in the following day to report progress.

Ellie made some tea whilst Alex began to identify those symbols least obscured by damage.

ζ…α…β…δ…π…χ…κ…μ…ξ…λ…ρ       …ε…ν…γ…ι…φ

Alex seemed pleased that the symbols seemed to correlate closely with the ancient Greek scripts with which she was familiar.  There were many gaps but she began to think that there were identifiable words in the mix.

ζ…ξ   Both of these symbols, Alex explained, could mean an ‘sd’ sound as in wisdom.

α     This was ‘a’ as in alpha.

β     This was b as in battle.

The afternoon progressed and as Ellie became more proficient with the symbols, she was able to start forming words. Alex isolated four symbols for her and when she found the right order her mouth fell open with shock.

Alex noticed and was immediately concerned.

“What is it, my lovely?”

Ellie turned her clipboard over and showed her girl what she had found and it was Alex’s turn to be dumbfounded.


“But Ellie…that’s the name you called me when we first kissed that night in America ....XENA

Ellie nodded .”…and there’s more.” she whispered.


Gabrielle…” Alex’s voice was barely a breath as she said the name.

The two women sat in stunned silence for several minutes and it was Ellie who spoke first.

“By the Fates, Hon….This story of the ‘Warrior princess’…It’s US… in a previous life.”

Alex took hold of her girls hand to find it was trembling, as was her own.  They looked at each other and sought the comfort of each others arms for a few moments.

“Well, we had pretty much accepted that we have been together many times before…hadn’t we Hon?” asked Ellie.” So this is our chance to find out more.  Sounds like a challenge to me?”

Alex gazed at her beautiful green eyes, so full of trust and she nodded.

”Just one thing, though darlin’. I think we should keep this to ourselves for now.  Archaeology is a science and we need to keep it to empirical evidence for the time being.  “

Ellie nodded and agreed.

They decided to have a break for a cup of tea when there was a knock on the door and they heard the booming voice of Uncle J announcing himself.  He came in and dropped a kiss on each upturned cheek before seating himself on one of the leather couches and letting out a long sigh.  His two nieces came to sit next to him.

“How’s tricks J?” asked Alex.

“Wondered if you’d heard anything from Gordon?  I think I’ve had the honeymoon period of Jeannie liking being a lady of leisure.  I found her in the kitchen this morning giving wee Johnny a row cos he’s moved her herbs.  Then she was in the restaurant checking on Margaret.

“Uh Ho, that’s not good.” agreed Ellie. She looked over at her partner and they nodded to each other. “Plan B, Uncle J…we need to mobilise the troops!”

The work on the Scrolls was put to the back of their minds where the needs of their family Matriarch were concerned.  They told J that Gordon was happy that the hotel could support more staff.  They discussed Ellie’s plans to promote Tilly to Hotel manager, John Taggart to first Chef and Margaret to Restaurant manager.  Although Fergus saw his job as temporary, they hoped that the incentive of a promotion might focus his mind.  Ellie’s plan was to offer him a temporary promotion to Bar Manager, pending him making a commitment to the Hotel.  They would hire two more waitresses come chamber maids and another part time barperson.

James Wallace just sat and looked at his girls fondly.

“So you two lovelies have it all worked out, don’t you?  I suspect the Boys have had a hand in it too.”

Ellie kissed his grizzled cheek and tickled his beard.

“Just one major prob, Uncle J.” mooted Alex…

They all said in unison.  “Jeannie!!”

Alex smiled at her lover and sighed.

“Sorry Babe!  Time for one of your sensitive chats I think.”

It was agreed that Ellie would return to the Hotel with J and talk to Jeannie.  Alex wanted to brief Alan about the words and names they had translated from the scrolls. 

She brought up the satellite link and she could see both Alan and George in the lab in Edinburgh.  George looked hard at the screen.

”Where’s the ‘little woman’ then Alex?”  She smirked, her voice heavy with sarcasm.

Alex snapped, ”Enough George, if you are trying to put a spanner in the works with Ellie and me, then forget it.  This is different.  Ellie and I are the real thing and if you can’t handle that, then I’ll get Dimitri to take you off the dig.”

It wasn’t often that Alex flexed her muscles but the mere possibility that her girl could be upset by the silly games of someone as twisted as George, she would not tolerate.

Alan sat looking more and more uncomfortable as the battle of wills was going on.  Eventually, George sat back and appeared to concede.

“Just a bit of fun Alex, don’t get so het up!!”

Alex now ignored her and concentrated her questions at Alan.

“We have two names from our section.  XENA… and GABRIELLE...and half of what appears to be a name of a Town.  We have AMF or possibly AMPH ….then there are gaps and what looks like OLIS on the end.  Any joy from you?”

Alan, obviously relieved to be able to get back to the archaeology, showed Alex his findings.

He had a part of another town name, PO***D**A, and a clear word.  BARD

They were encouraged by their findings and agreed to talk again tomorrow. 

Chapter 5.

To everyone’s utter delight, Jeannie agreed without demur to the new staffing.  She told Ellie that it was a real weight off her mind.  She was pleased that the staffing changes had been made from within and agreed with all suggestions. Ellie assured her that she was still a consultant, and that she was to sit and hold court…but not lift a finger!!

The newly promoted staff were delighted and set to their new jobs with great enthusiasm.  Over the next few days, Alex and Ellie were able to apply themselves to the scrolls and J and Jeannie even left the Applecross Hotel to have lunch with Jock at the Tigh-na-Eilean hotel up the coast in Shieldaig… Alex informed Ellie that to have them leave the Applecross Hotel during business hours was a miracle of the first order.

The symbols and characters from the scrolls were beginning to form a clearer picture of life for the WP.  They knew that the Warrior Princess was Xena of Amphipolis and that her companion was Gabrielle from Poteidaia. It had been Gabrielle the Bard who had chronicled the tales of the activities of the armoured female warrior in Ancient Greece around the 1st century CE. Sadly, no trace of the many Scrolls that she must have created had ever been found.

Alex was poring over one section of the scroll whilst Ellie made some lunch, when she suddenly rushed into the kitchen.

“By all the gods, Ellie….check this for me….I can’t believe it…Am I right?”

A fresh pair of eyes came up with the same conclusion and they set up a conference call to Alan.  He was as excited as they were and almost shouted.

“Another chamber!!!  Are you serious!!  How could we have missed it?”

Barely able to contain her own excitement, Alex replied.

“We just thought it had been robbed out, we didn’t consider the possibility of a trick outer tomb hiding an inner one.”

Alan thought for a moment.

“We have to go back Alex….this is potentially the biggest find in Greek antiquity for decades.  I’ll get hold of Dimitri and see what we can set up.  Are you available?”

“Nothing will keep us away Alan, whatever it takes!  We have to do this.”

When the call ended, Alex sat back and the weariness of hours of concentration hit her.  Ellie poured them a glass of wine and they sat together on the leather couch by the fire.

“What do you think, my love…are we ready to face our past life?”

The answer came a few days later. The Greek Government had agreed to allow the University of Athens to re-open the tomb of the Warrior Princess and to supply diggers for the job.  Alan and Alex would bring out some of the more sophisticated equipment not available to the Greeks, and they would share all data and artefacts.  With the Hotel staffing settled and the two family Elders rested and happy, the two lovers felt that they could leave them and go to Greece without fears for their welfare.  The ‘Boys’ of course would be on hand to help day to day so the coast was clear for a trip to Greece.

The time was short to arrange the dig, it was now late September and, although Greek winter weather wasn’t a real problem, the shorter days restricted the time for excavation each day unless lights were used, and artificial light was not kind to the keen eye of the trained archaeologist.

The day came for the couple to leave for Greece.  Their equipment was being flown out by courtesy of an RAF Hercules Aircraft taking personnel on exercise in the Greek Mountains.  Alan had contacts in the Ministry of Defence and there was space for all of them to travel, not in style, but quickly.  They were to fly from RAF Kinross, at 1600 hours and as the journey to the airbase would take 5 hours so, it was at 0600 hours that a very grumpy Ellie had risen, but refused to shine and been settled in the back seat of the truck to continue to sleep as Alex drove out of Applecross.  The previous evening they had said their farewells to the family over supper at the hotel.  They could all sense that Alex was excited to be back doing what she loved the best, digging in dusty holes and unravelling the past with her time detective skills.  What they had not been told was that Alex and Ellie Wallace were about to unravel a part of their own past life.  

Chapter 6.

By about 0900 hours, a tousled blonde head appeared from the back set and demanded coffee!.  Alex pulled into a roadside café and the two had a breakfast of bacon, eggs and Scots potato cakes.  Ellie downed at least a pint of strong coffee and eventually declared herself human and fit to be spoken to. 

Alex looked fondly at her love and took the hand which was seemingly welded to the mug of coffee and kissed the knuckles gently. “Good morning, darlin’!”

Ellie, whilst still trying hard to be grumpy, couldn’t help but smile and retorted.

“You smooth talker Dr Alex Wallace, ‘Peee haitch godsbedamned  ...dee’!!!.  If I had known that marrying you would mean getting out of bed at Sparrow fart....I might have reconsidered my answer!!”

They both laughed and Ellie ran her hands through her hair and wrinkled her nose at her gorgeous girl, secretly deciding that she would probably have said yes, any way!”

They continued on their way and entered RAF Kinross at about mid day.  After passing through security, they were guided to a hanger on the western side of the base.  Alex’s truck was parked inside and the equipment she had brought from the Croft was loaded into special cases and secured inside the enormous aircraft on the tarmac outside.  They were given tea and awaited in relative comfort for Alan....and George to arrive.  At about 1300 hours, the University transport arrived and RAF ground crew swarmed all over it, removing and storing valuable equipment in the Hercules.  Alan was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, desperately worrying that his precious machines might be damaged.  Eventually, after a heartfelt plea by the Ground crew ‘Boss’, an experienced Flight Sergeant, Alex gently drew him away.

“Alan, these guys are used to transporting all kinds of technological equipment….they know what they are doing....just relax a minute.”

Whilst Alex was on her mission to save the sanity of RAF personnel, George had not lost the opportunity to talk to Ellie. 

“So you’re along for the ride are you?  Be nice for you to have a bit of a holiday whilst Alex and I are busy working at the dig.  There are some lovely tourist things you could do in the area.”

Her tone was sweet and gentle but Ellie was no fool.  She put down the book she was reading…on Ancient Greek script… and fixed this odious woman with a steely eye.

“Right….Sweetheart, “ she hissed, “Let’s get one thing straight….I am from Texas and we don’t take this kind of crap from anyone…..if you want to waste your time trying to get Alex away from me….You go ahead ..Honey....give it your best shot… But I’m telling you, you aren’t woman enough….Trust me!!...Other than that, quit the wind ups and innuendos….we have cattle in Texas more subtle than you and they produce really big quantities of bullshit too….so I’m used to it.  Are we clear here, George....DO WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER??”

George kept eye contact with Ellie, then ran her eyes slowly and lasciviously up and down Ellie’s slim body, assumed a provocative posture and was about to speak, when Ellie interjected.

“Oh pulleeeze….Don’t go there, lady…you have a snowballs chance in Tartarus with me….and NO….I am not in denial….just spare me your childish games.  Get a life George, because Alex and I already have one of our own.”

Ellie picked up her book again and waited for George to slink away, she was shaking with anger and worked to calm herself down as Alex and Alan approached.

Although she didn’t know what it was about, Alex had witnessed the conversation, and sensed Ellie’s tension. 

“Everything OK…Hon?”

Ellie grinned at her girl. 

“Never better, my love, never better!”

As one would expect of the RAF, the flight left on time and the journey was uneventful.  Alex was amused to see that George kept as far away from them as she could, and suspected that Ellie had put her firmly in her place.  George had been foolish if she had underestimated the feisty Texan and Alex almost wished she had been a fly on the wall during their ‘conversation’!

They landed at a Greek Air force base near Athens at 2200hours where they were assigned quarters and treated as honoured guests in the Officer’s mess.

The next day, after breakfast, they packed all of their equipment onto trucks from the University of Athens Archaeology Department, and set off for the site which was about 60 miles north of Athens, in the hills near the town of Khalkis.  The final few miles were through mountain passes on rough dirt tracks and they were all pleased to reach the site, and offload their gear.  Very quickly a small tented village appeared; the archaeologists and student diggers from the University of Athens were well practised in setting up these camps and before long, a meal had been prepared in the mess tent.

Alex and Ellie’s tent was large enough to take their double air mattress and quilts.

Ellie smiled when she saw that she was not to be denied her comforts.  When Alex entered the tent, she was met with a big hug and a long lingering kiss.

“Hmm, not complaining Babe....but what‘s that for?” Alex pondered.

”Just cos you… are you, and I love you and …oh yes…you’ve brought my favourite pillow!!”

The tall Celt laughed and hugged her girl.

“Archaeology doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, my love!”

Alan, and a very subdued George, had set up their equipment and screens in a larger tent near the cave tomb, where they were calibrating them and checking settings.  The electricity was being produced by a generator which hummed softly outside.  The power supply to the scanners was crucial and had to be constant to allow their readings to be accurate.  Alex checked it personally, it seemed a little battered and not particularly young, but her ear told her it was up to the job.

Alex took Ellie up the hill to the metal door which protected the tomb.  She unlocked the huge padlock which secured it and put her shoulder to the door.  It resisted but finally began to open.  The smell of stone and stale air emanated from the tomb and when the gap was wide enough, Alex flicked on a large torch and went in.  Ellie followed and she found herself in a chamber about 15 feet by 15 feet.  The roof was high enough to allow Alex to stand up straight and, as she stood there, she appeared to be reconnecting with her memories of the first dig.  Ellie looked around, Alex had put the powerful torch on the floor facing up to the ceiling, and it filled the chamber with light.  Ellie looked at the friezes carved along the side of the stone sarcophagus, which was positioned in the centre of the cavern.  The lid was broken in two and had fallen, part in and part out of the coffin.  Ellie looked inside but there were no bones, just dust. 

There were faint remnants of drawings on the walls of the tomb and Ellie strained her eyes to see chariots and soldiers as well as what appeared to be crowds of peasants waving and cheering  a tall armoured female warrior. 

Ellie looked to Alex and asked. “Can I touch these, Hon?”

Alex appeared to be far away and it was several seconds before she answered, she came to where Ellie was standing and put her arm around her waist.

“These have all been recorded and photographed, so any dust on them is post original dig and OK for you to touch, darling….and thanks for asking.” She smiled fondly at her beautiful girl.

Ellie gently began to wipe away the covering of dust and she pointed to a figure next to the tall Warrior.  It was a small slight figure holding a short fighting staff; her face was not clear but her physical closeness to the tall woman next to her was unmistakable.  The two lovers looked into each others eyes and met for a long slow kiss.

There was aloud cough from the doorway and they turned to see the discomfited face of Alan standing there.

“Sorry to interrupt, but we are ready for the geo-phys to begin.”

Alex and Ellie smiled at him and left the tomb, as they did; three diggers entered carrying a machine that looked like a small lawn mower.  It was capable of sending waves down into the earth and receiving echoes from any structure that might be below the surface if the earth.  It allowed them to build a picture without digging.  The long wires linking this machine to the computers snaked out through the door.  The techies were well used to this and began to divide the tomb up into strips of about one and a half feet wide, the width of the machine. As Alex and Ellie came out of the cave, they saw that George was seated in front of the screen and she was relaying instructions to the techies inside.  She cast a sideways glance at the two women as they walked away hand in hand, and allowed herself a wry shrug of the shoulders.

There was little that Alex could do until the data was available so she and her girl went to the mess tent for some tea.  Several of the diggers from the University of Athens had been on the first dig and before long; the two women were engaged on a lively debate with them, on the relative merits of Soccer versus Rugby!!

Later, they were returning to their tent when a large, flashy 4X4 pulled up.  A tall dark man with extraordinarily sculpted facial hair alighted.  The passenger door opened and a long shapely stocking clad leg emerged, which was followed by a vision in pink…the tall slim woman was dressed in a skimpy pink outfit with a flowing pink overcoat topped by a head of blonde curls and the largest pair of sunglasses Alex and Ellie had ever seen.  The man removed his sunglasses and looked around until he saw Alex and he walked towards her.  He stopped in front of her and extended his hand, she took it and he bowed over it and kissed it.  Alex was about to withdraw her hand from this slimy presumptuous git, when he spoke, his voice was deep and rich.

“My name is Telemon, Rase Telemon and this is my sister Affie.  I am very pleased to meet you Dr Wallace.”

Alex dropped his hand and looked him in the eye.

“What can I do for you, Mr Telemon……and how do you know who I am?”

“You underestimate the interest in this dig, Dr Wallace, it is all over the Greek News and your picture was featured this morning.  I wonder if you could spare us a few minutes.  We may have information that will be of use to you.”

He looked over at the small figure of Ellie and smiled.  She reached out her hand.

“Ellie Wallace, I am Alex’s partner.”

He raised his eyebrows just a fraction but recovered and shook her proffered hand.

The vision in pink moved to stand next to her brother; she removed her sunglasses to reveal a pair of almost transparent blue eyes.  She looked into the green eyes for what seemed a long time before she spoke.

“Hello, Ellie....it’s good to see you….”  then she stopped and laughed, “ I am sooo excited to be on a real dig….it is sooo like, totally cool!”

Ellie pigeon holed her as ‘Bimbo’ and yet she felt as if she had a vague memory of her.  The woman had an American accent and she thought that they might have met at one of the San Francisco conventions, but she dismissed the thought.

The tall dark man followed Alex as she walked back towards the mess tent and, although she felt an instinctive dislike for him, her curiosity got the better of her and she offered him a seat at a table. Ellie and Affie followed and sat down at the same table; the vision in pink had, by this time, replaced the sunglasses, she crossed her leg elegantly and arranged the folds of her dress.

“What could you have that I might be interested in?” Alex asked…. the irony clear.

Rase Telemon’s eyes narrowed as he picked up the thinly veiled hostility in Alex’s words.

“Sponsorship, Dr Wallace….vast wads of cash.  I am a wealthy collector of ancient artefacts and I think there might be something on this dig that I need, in order to complete a collection …something I’ve been waiting to find...for a very long time, and I want to put my cards on the table from the beginning.”

Alex looked at him and his gaze did not waver, her voice low and growly as she replied.

“All artefacts from these digs belong to Greece…not me.  You are talking to the wrong person.”

Telemon leant forward and whispered. 

“Not according to Dimitri Theodorakis…You are exactly who I should be talking to.”

He took out his cell phone and speed dialled a number.  When it was answered he handed it to Alex.  She listened for a few moments and then stood up and took the phone out of earshot.

“Dimitri, what the hell are you saying?”

“Alex…. Telemon is going to fund the building of a new faculty building; he is going to give us what we need to get the University of Athens on the Archaeologists map of the world.  He wants just two things in return.  It’s my call Alex.  This has gone to the highest authority.”

“So, what you are saying is that you have sold out to the highest bidder...that all of the principles of conserving the past go out of the window when it suits you.”

“Its politics Alex….it’s what I do…I’m not asking you to like it…..just do as I ask, please.”

“Or what, Dimitri?”

“The dig is cancelled until the dust settles and then we go in anyway and get what he wants....at least this way; you get to record and archive the site.”

Alex was trembling with anger and felt her girl’s arms come around her waist as she gathered herself.  She squeezed Ellie and spoke just one word, heavy with sarcasm.

“Fine”….and she hung up.

It was a few moments before she nodded at Ellie and mouthed….”I’m OK” and they returned to the table.

“OK Telemon….what is it you expect me to find?”

The mysterious man, who knew that he held all of the cards, outlined his belief that there were two sets of artefacts to be found.  The first was a pair of Sais… weapons, he said, that were to be found predominantly in Japan and India.  He told them that they were believed to have originated as an agricultural tool used to measure stalks, plough fields, and plant rice...He described its basic form as that of an unsharpened dagger, with two long, unsharpened projections attached to the handle called tsuba’s. He suggested that the closest description of it was like a small trident that, with skill, could be used effectively against a long sword by trapping the sword’s blade in the Sais tsuba.  He said that there were several different ways of wielding the Sais in the hands, which gave it the versatility to be used for both attack and defence.

The second artefact, he described, was called a Chakram.  He explained that it was a throwing weapon that was used in the ancient east; it was a flat metal ring with a sharp outer edge about 30cm in diameter. It was historically said to have an effective range of 40 to 50 metres and because of its aerodynamic shape, would not have been easily deflected by wind, and would have returned to the throwers hand, much as an Australian Boomerang would do.

Despite her irritation, Alex felt herself drawn into this man’s obvious passion for the past.

“….and why do you think they are here?” she asked

“Let’s say...intuition and leave it at that, Dr Wallace.  So, do we have a deal?”

“Your deal is with Dimitri, not me, and let’s has that clear from the get go, Telemon...I don’t sell ancient history….however you want to dress it up.”

Telemon shrugged and stood up.

“Time to go Sis….Nice to have met you, Dr …and Mrs Wallace”.

Before Alex could react to his comment, Ellie grabbed her arm and shook her head.

“Let them go, Hon…they are not worth your angst.”

As the two visitors reached their car, Affie turned and gave them a little limp wristed wave, and the car roared away in a cloud of dust.

Alex felt powerless to stop what she considered to be a dereliction of all the principles and ethics she had believed in, all of her career.  She left Ellie in the mess tent and went to find Alan.  As she approached, she could tell from his body language that he was expecting a row from her.

She stopped and looked at him and he dropped his eyes from her piecing blues and muttered.

“Sorry Alex, I was trying to find the right time. Telemon wasn’t due here until tomorrow.”

The tall Celt just shook her head and walked away from her mentor and friend, deeply disappointed.

Concluded in Part 2

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