Disclaimer: See Part 1
Part 13 of the Guardian Series
The following morning, Xena wakes up to the gentle stroking of her arm and when she turns over, her gaze meet the beautiful green orbs of her wife's and her smile that could light even the darkest of days. Xena can't think of a better way to wake up and says to the smiling Gabrielle:
“Good morning love.” Gabrielle answers:
“Morning my big warrior.” For a few moments they just stare into each others eyes until Gabrielle says:
“I'm going down to get breakfast ready, would you be a dear and wake Exl?”
“Of course sweetheart, we'll down before you know it”, Xena replies and Gabrielle leaves their bedroom and Xena can hear her going down the stairs. She gets up and goes into their closet to find a clean set of clothes for the day. Soon she is fully dressed and walks to Exl's bedroom and knocks on the door.
“Exl, are you awake?”, she asks and gets no reply. She carefully opens the door and enters the room. She can see that the young warrior is still sound asleep in her comfortable large bed. Xena thinks to herself: “She really has a wonderful gift of sleep.” She walks to the bed and carefully takes hold of Exl's shoulder to shake her awake. She is careful not to scare her, she knows that as a warrior, scaring her awake is not a good thing.
“Exl, Exl get up. Wake up sleepy head”, Xena says and sees Exl opening her eyes. Exl turns her head to look at Xena and says with a yawn:
“Morning Xena, what time is it?” Xena smiles and checks the time from Exl digital alarm clock.
“It's time for you to get up, get dressed and come down for breakfast. Now hurry up”, Xena says and walks to the door and before she leaves, she checks that Exl really gets up instead of going back to sleep. Exl stands up and stretches a bit, then says to Xena while walking to her closet:
“I'll be down in just a few minutes, you go ahead.” Xena exits the room and goes down to the kitchen where Gabrielle is waiting for the warriors to come and eat breakfast. Xena sits down at the table and Gabrielle hands her a mug of coffee. Gabrielle knows exactly what both of her warriors need for breakfast to get a good start for the day. Exl finally gets down and into the kitchen, she is still feeling quite tired. She wishes the others a good morning and sits at the table next to Xena and starts to drink the tea that is waiting for her.
“Is there anything special installed for today for you two?”, Xena asks. Gabrielle sits down and responds:
“I'm going to give a lecture today at Exl's college, one of her professors is an admirer of my work and he asked if I could come by and give a lecture to his class.”
“That sounds nice, you like to tell about your work. And to tell your stories”, Xena notes to the bard, who could never get tired of telling stories to people.
“What about you Xena, do you have a long day ahead of you?”, Exl asks after finishing her tea.
“Unfortunately yes, our lieutenant has everyone in our squad working double shifts for a week from today. He always has these strange whims of his, so I won't be spending much time at home for the next week”, Xena answers with a hint of frustration in her voice. Gabrielle places a comforting hand on Xena's shoulder knowing how much she hated to work long days at the police department. Xena places her hand on Gabrielle's as a silent thank you and gets up to give her a kiss on the cheek. She takes a bottle of water from the refrigerator and says before leaving:
“You two have a nice day, I'll be at home at about midnight.” Exl and Gabrielle wish her a good day in return and then Xena finally leaves. Outside she steps into her Escalade and backs the car from the driveway, after a last look at the house, she drives off.
“I think we should get ready to go as well, we have drop by at the museum to get some of my scrolls”, Gabrielle says and Exl nods.
“I'll get the car started”, Exl says and puts on her sweatshirt as she walks to the hallway to get her backpack and car keys.
About 20 minutes later, they arrive at the museum and Gabrielle unlocks the doors. They walk inside and Gabrielle opens the door to her office and sees some kind of weird dust on the floor right in front of her door. She thinks the cleaners must have careless while cleaning the floor. She gets a few scrolls from inside and then returns to Exl who is looking at pile of the same weird dust that Gabrielle just saw.
“The cleaners around here are really sloppy”, Exl just notes and they leave.
Walking to the car Exl has a strange feeling that they're being watched, she looks around and seeing this Gabrielle asks her:
“Exl, what is it? Is something wrong?” Exl can't see anyone near by and says calmly:
“Nothing, everything is fine.” But Exl's senses are right, someone is watching them, they just don't know it yet.
A while later they arrive at the Athenia College and walk inside and soon see Exl's friends waiting in front of professor Whiteman's classroom.
“Good morning prof… Gabrielle, morning E”, Dominic greets them remembering what Gabrielle had said about her not wanting her to be called professor. Kacey and Tobey greet them as well and Exl responds:
“Hey guys, ready for a great lecture?” Gabrielle looks at Exl and says:
“Well I wouldn't call it great yet.” The others smile and the bell rings signaling the beginning of the lesson. Exl looks at her friends and says to them:
“You go ahead; I'll go and take Gabrielle to see the professor first.” Tobey, Dominic and Kacey go to their usual places and Exl leads Gabrielle to professor Whiteman's office. She knocks on the door and when they hear an answer to come in, she carefully opens the door and they enter.
Professor Whiteman is busy going through his papers to notice the arrivals, before Exl says:
“Professor…” The professor looks up and notices Exl and a woman who is unknown to him.
“Professor, I'd like you to meet professor Gabrielle Potidaea”, Exl says introducing Gabrielle to the old teacher. The professor can't believe his eyes and ears, it really is the famous professor Potidaea herself! He quickly races to shake her hand and says to her very enthusiastically:
“Professor Potidaea, I'm honored to meet you. I am professor Whiteman, thank you very much for taking time of your important work to give a lecture for my class.” Gabrielle smiles as she responds:
“The pleasure is all mine, I'm always ready to share my knowledge with others. Thank you for asking me to come here.”
Exl is standing by the door waiting for the meeting to end so they could finally get the lesson started. Professor Whiteman checks his watch and sees how much it already is and says:
“Oh dear, look at the time. We should be getting the lesson started.” He grabs his briefcase and papers from his desk with a hurry and Exl opens the door for him and Gabrielle.
They walk into the classroom and Exl goes to sit in her place while Gabrielle stays by the door and professor Whiteman drops his papers on his desk and finally says to the class:
“Good morning everyone, I'm sorry I'm late. Today we have a special visitor, professor Potidaea from the Museum of ancient history has come here today to give a lecture. She is well known for her work among ancient Greek literature and heroic stories. Please give her a warm welcome.” He starts applauding and the students join in as Gabrielle walks to the professor's desk and starts her lecture:
“Thank you everyone, my name is professor Gabrielle Potidaea and as requested by professor Whiteman I am here today to give you a lecture about my work and about the literature of ancient Greece .” She tells the class about how important bards where in Greece and about how our knowledge about the ancient times would be much smaller without the documents that have survived throughout the ages. She demonstrates how bards enlivened their stories with their emphasis, movement and choice of words, it was almost like theatre. The entire class is fascinated about everything Gabrielle says, professor Whiteman is just as excited as they are. Gabrielle takes out a scroll from her briefcase and shows it to the class, telling that is a well-preserved scroll from over 2000 years ago. She unrolls it and tells about the story she is about to read them. It is a story about how three close friends travel far north so one of them can fight for her rightful place as ruler of a small nation, the story is called “Going Home”.
“I sing of three friends, a family, joined by love and friendship. One of them is a young warrior from a far northern land, a land she has left behind to find adventure and her place in the world…”
Exl knows this story just as well as Gabrielle; she remembers it like it was yesterday. Nearly as a reflex, she raises her hand to feel the scar over her left eye. A scar she has worn with pride, as sign of devotion to her people, as a sign of courage and bravery. In some parts of her story, Gabrielle takes her gaze from the scroll and looks straight at Exl. This is usually when she is reading about something the young warrior has said and Exl smiles every time she meets Gabrielle's gaze. The story is finally at its end:
“…their ship finally reached its destination. They were all happy to be back at home, even though the young warrior looks at the sea longingly. She knows where her place is in the world, she knows her duty and nothing can make her forget it. All together, they decide it is finally time to tell the good news about their new family to their parents and siblings. As a family they are strong, as a family they are one.” Gabrielle wraps up the scroll and puts in on the table and continues:
“It is because of stories like this that we are able to see the past and learn more about those who have lived on this Earth so long before us. Stories about heroes gave people hope in times of darkness and despair, they are reminders of great men and women who have changed the world and made it a better place. Every time I open a scroll I haven't read before, I am excited to read about the events and people who have molded the world into what it is today. The same goes for you, if you decide to become archeologists or translators of ancient texts, I hope every time you make a new discovery or translate a new text, you are just as excited as I am. Thank you.”
She bows and everyone starts to applaud and cheer for her, some even stand up to show her their respect. Professor Whiteman is nearly in tears as he walks to Gabrielle and shakes her hand.
He turns to the class and tells them to settle down and take their seats.
“Thank you professor Potidaea , thank you very much. I hope you have been listening very carefully, because I want you all to write a paper about today's lecture. I want you to write about your opinion on the importance of the writings and documents throughout the course of history and about how you liked professor Potidaea 's lecture. The paper is due next Wednesday. That's all for today, have a nice weekend everyone”, he says and the students run out of class as usual. Some of them give positive comments to Gabrielle on their way out. Exl walks to Gabrielle and the professor while her friends join her. They tell Gabrielle how much they enjoyed the lecture and especially the story.
“The story was amazing, full of action and drama. It was better than any movie I've ever seen”, Kacey comments. The boys think the exact same. Exl and Gabrielle look at each other and exchange the glances meaning: “you have no idea how true this is”. Professor Whiteman says:
“Why don't you three go to your next lesson, I would like to have a few words with the professor and Exl.” Kacey and the boys get the idea and leave the class wishing the professor a good weekend. The professor turns to look at Gabrielle and thanks her yet again:
“Thank you very much once again for an amazing lecture. I have never heard anything like it before.”
“It was my pleasure, I'm glad you liked it. The students seemed to like it”, Gabrielle notes based on the expressions of the class. Exl doesn't want to disturb the conversation but wants to know what the professor wants with her.
“Professor, how long does the paper have to be? About today's lecture?”, she asks and the answer she gets from professor Whiteman is something she doesn't expect. He just shakes his head and says:
“Exl, you don't have to write the paper. I'm sure you must know a great deal about the subject, since you and professor Potidaea are family. I could give you an A+ on it right at this moment.”
Exl is very surprised and also very glad, she does know much about the subject, the paper she would write would be nearly endless. The professor asks politely:
“I hope you don't mind me asking, but how are you related exactly.” Suddenly all words disappear from both Gabrielle's and Exl's mouth and they take a quick look at each other. Exl tries to say something smart.
“Well we… we're second cousins, from our mother's side of the family”, Exl quickly thinks up and Gabrielle continues:
“And my spouse and Exl are old friends from way back.” The professor accepts this explanation and says to Gabrielle:
“You must be very proud of Exl, she has been doing very well in school this year.”
“Yes, she has told about it, we are very proud”, Gabrielle replies and pats Exl on the shoulder.
“Professor Potidaea, may I offer you a cup of coffee? It's the least I can do as a thank you for your visit?”, the professor asks Gabrielle, who looks at Exl and Exl says:
“I only have one more lesson today, I'll come and get you when it ends.” She leaves the classroom and Gabrielle and the professor walk right behind her on their way to the coffee lounge.
Exl walks to professor Bridgewater 's classroom and sees that the dean of the history department is talking to the class. She stops at the doorway to listen to what the dean is saying.
“I'm afraid professor Bridgewater has fallen very ill and we don't know when he will return to work. But luckily we were able to get a substitute for him, someone who is specialized in ancient warfare. I would like you all to welcome your substitute, miss Cirra”, he says and reaches his hand out to welcome the arriver. Everyone turns to look at the door leading into professor Bridgewater 's office near the classroom door and the door slowly opens. A blond woman appears from the office and walks to the dean. Her appearance is calm, but there is so much hatred and rage hidden underneath. Exl looks at her with horror, thinking it can't be her. Her friends see her distress and try to silently signal her to question what is wrong. The woman turns to look at Exl and to Exl the gaze feels almost like it was burning. She can only run out of the classroom, nearly bumping into Gabrielle and professor Whiteman. Gabrielle sees the very worried and scared look on Exl's face and asks her:
“Exl, what's wrong?” Exl can't say anything, she just turns to look at something inside the classroom. Gabrielle turns her gaze from Exl to what ever she is looking at and when she sees the same thing as Exl, she is just as horrified. The woman looks at them and waves her hand slightly with a satisfied grin. Professor Whiteman can't understand the sudden changes in their moods and is very gob smacked when Gabrielle says:
“I'm sorry professor Whiteman, I'll have to take a rain check on that cup of coffee. Something has just come up.” Having said this, she and Exl run out of the school and to the parking lot like their lives would depend on it. They get in Exl's car and she drives away hellbent for leather.
At the Lacey River Police Department, Xena is sitting in her office trying to take care of the huge pile of paperwork that has been piled on her desk. She is really frustrated, she hates paperwork. She hopes something would happen soon, or else… Someone knocks on the door and she answers:
“Come in.” A young police officer opens the door and informs:
“Detective Amphipolis, there is someone here to see you.” Xena grunts and says:
“I'm busy right now, tell them to wait.” The officer continues:
“They say they know you, they say it's extremely urgent.” Before Xena can say anything, she hears Exl shouting to someone:
“I told you, we're here to see Detective Xena Amphipolis! The matter is urgent, it's about life of death!” Xena gets up and walks to the door in a flash and sees Gabrielle and Exl talking to another officer and another is holding Exl from rushing straight into Xena's office. She has no idea what is going on and says to the officers:
“Davidson, O'Connell, it's okay. I know them, let them pass.” The officers allow Gabrielle and Exl to get to Xena and she guides them into her office and closes the door. She sees their scared expressions and asks them:
“What's the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost.” Exl manages to calm down enough to say:
“Xena, she's returned. She's here.” Xena still can't understand what is going on and enquires:
“Who is?” Exl and Gabrielle answer in unison:
“Callisto!” Xena can't believe what they have just said. It's not possible, Callisto can't be there.
“Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?”, she asks them looking straight into their eyes.
“Of course we're sure. I know exactly what she looks like, and that was Callisto in all her evil”, Exl says with a furious tone in her voice. Gabrielle looks at Xena and continues:
“Xena, I saw her with my own eyes. She was at the College. She looked at us with that evil grin of hers and even waved with such satisfaction.” Xena walks around the office trying to think.
“How can she be here? How did she get out of that lava prison where we put her in?”, she asks.
Exl and Gabrielle try to think as well and then Exl has an idea:
“Well the lava must have cooled down and hardened over the years. She must have been trapped in lava rock for nearly all this time. But how did she get here?” When Exl says lava rock, Gabrielle is struck by something. Xena and Exl can see this from her expression.
“Yesterday, the museum received several new artifacts which were found at a dig site in Greece. Among them was a huge boulder of lava rock, which is claimed to be shaped in some kind of human form”, she tells her idea to the warriors. The conclusion seems very unreal, coincidences after another. Xena finally says:
“Well the only thing we know for sure is that Callisto is here and now. You two go home and when you get there, lock up all the doors and wait for me to get there. I'll get there as soon as I can.” Gabrielle asks:
“What about your double shift?” Xena seems very agitated and simply answers:
“I don't give a damn about the lieutenant and his double shifts. I'll tell him it's a family emergency and if he doesn't buy it, I have other ways to make him change his mind.” Exl and Gabrielle leave Xena's office and Xena walks straight into the lieutenant's office to tell about the situation.
On their way home, Gabrielle quickly tells Exl to drive by the museum. Exl asks why, but Gabrielle just tells her to trust her and she makes a U-turn and drives to the museum. They rush inside and straight to the newly arrived artifacts. They see that the boulder of lava rock has indeed been broken and that it has imprisoned something or someone. Exl says to Gabrielle:
“Gabrielle you were right, Callisto was inside this lava rock. But how did she get out and what does she want?” Gabrielle quickly starts to look through the crates and boxes to see if anything is missing and then finds what she is looking for. She takes a small box and then says:
“Let's go, Xena might already be on her way home and she'll be worried if we're not there before her.” Exl knows this is true and they rush out of the museum. Just as they arrive at the house, they see Xena's car approaching. In an instant, they're all inside and have locked all the doors. They sit in living room and try to figure out what exactly is going on. Exl explains what they saw at the museum:
“Xena, Gabrielle was right. Callisto had to be imprisoned inside that lava rock. The inside looks just like someone her size was inside it, before… Well I don't understand how she got out.”
Gabrielle takes the box and shows it to the others.
“I think this might be what she's after. Everything else was looked through instead of this, because it was hidden under the list of the artifacts”, she says and gives Xena the box. Xena pulls out a knife from her belt and uses it to open the box. She removes the packaging material and then takes out a beautifully decorated dagger.
“Is that what I think it is?”, Exl asks and looks at both Gabrielle and Xena. Gabrielle nods and Xena says:
“Yes it is. The Dagger of Hephaestus. This is definitely what Callisto is after, she must have felt the dagger was near and that's why she has broken out of her prison.”
“She won't stop looking for it. It's one of the only things that can destroy us”, Gabrielle says taking a seat next to Exl. Xena puts he dagger in the box and the box on the table in front of her.
“Or destroy her. She must think we have it or know where it is. She'll do anything to get it”, Xena continues.
Exl jumps up realizing something that has alarmed her.
“My friends, when we ran away from the school today, my friends were there in the same classroom as Callisto. I have to warn them”, Exl says and takes out her phone from her pocket.
“You're right Exl. Call your friends and tell them you want to meet them, tell them it's important”, Gabrielle says knowing Exl is worried for her friends.
Exl calls all three friends and asks them to meet her at the park in half an hour. Before Exl leaves, Xena and Gabrielle tell her to keep a lookout and to be careful. Exl knows she has to warn her friends no matter what and she decides to go to the park on foot.
When she gets there, Tobey and Kacey are already there. Dominic arrives just minutes after Exl. After they are all present, Dominic asks:
“Exl, what's going on? Why did you run away today, it looked like you had been scared off by something?” Exl looks around them to see they're alone and begins:
“I was, in a matter of speaking. Remember that new substitute in professor Bridgewater's class today?”
“Oh you mean miss Cirra. She was awesome, she told us about warfare and battles of ancient Greece. Her lesson was so cool”, Kacey interrupts her.
“Yes I mean her. Her name is Callisto and she is very dangerous, I want you guys to watch out for her. She may look very innocent and calm, but on the inside she is just the opposite”, Exl continues.
“What are you talking about? She seems like a really good person, there's nothing bad about her”, Tobey says defending Callisto.
“That's exactly what she wants you to think of her. First she pretends to be your friend and the next moment…”, Exl says before Dominic interrupts her:
“How do you know all this? Do you know her from somewhere?” Exl can't believe her friends don't believe her.
“Yes I do. Gabrielle, Xena and I know her from a very long time ago. All I can say right now is that we have had bad experiences about her. You have got to believe me, please be careful”, Exl tries to convince the others. Dominic, Kacey and Tobey look at each other and then nod. Kacey says to Exl:
“Okay E. We believe you, somehow and we promise to be careful, only if you promise to explain this whole thing to us. This is starting to be very strange.” Exl is relieved that her friends have made a wise choice.
“Okay, I promise I'll explain this whole thing, but not now. Go home and stay alert, call me if you see or hear anything suspicious. And if you happen to meet her, be very careful, she can't be trusted”, Exl says and her friends walk away together. Exl starts walking home, but doesn't get very far, when a familiar voice says right behind her:
“My, my, what have we here? Why isn't it the little Guardian. What are you doing here at this hour?”
Exl stops dead in her tracks and turns around to see Callisto only a few feet from her.
“Callisto, I could ask you the exact same question”, Exl says confidently. Callisto walks right in front of her and asks nicely:
“Okay, enough with the chit chat. Where is it?” Exl takes a step back and replies:
“What are you talking about Callisto? Where is what?” Callisto loses her calm and grabs Exl by the throat and seems very aggravated and asks again:
“Don't play games with me! You know exactly what I'm talking about! Tell me where it is!”
Exl is starting to have hard time breathing and manages to say:
“I'll never tell you, you'll never find whatever it is you're looking for.” Callisto pulls out a knife and brings it near Exl's throat and says:
“I wonder what Xena and Gabrielle would think if they would find their dear Guardian in little pieces?” Then something happens which makes Callisto lose her focus, a police car drives by very closely with its siren on. Callisto doesn't know what it is and lets go of Exl to cover her ears, because she isn't used to this kind of noise. Exl sees her opportunity and makes a run for it, she uses every detour and secret passageways she knows to get as much distance between her and Callisto. She looks behind her only as she is finally reaching home, she can't see Callisto anywhere.
Being very exhausted she bangs on the front door and lets Gabrielle and Xena know that it is her. When they open the door Exl rushes inside and is only moments away from passing out on the hallway floor. Xena locks the door and Gabrielle helps Exl to get into the living room and sit on the couch. Exl catches her breathe and says:
“I told the guys Callisto can't be trusted and that they have to be careful. Then while I was walking back home, Callisto confronted me. She demanded to know where it is and I just said I don't know where IT is as if I had no idea what she was talking about. She got really annoyed and grabbed me by the throat and threatened that the next time you would see me, I would be in tiny pieces.”
Gabrielle goes to Xena and she seems scared. She asks the warrior:
“Xena what are we going to do?” Xena wraps her arms around Gabrielle to comfort her and says:
“Don't worry, we'll think of something. We've defeated her before and we can to it again.” Suddenly, the phone starts ringing. Exl is reaching out for it, but Xena signals her that she'll answer it. She picks up the phone and answers calmly:
“Amphipolis.” She hears giggling and a voice saying:
“Can Xena and her family come out to play?” Gabrielle and Exl can hear that it's Callisto who's calling.
“What do you want Callisto?”, Xena asks and hears more giggling.
“Xena, you know what I want. The Dagger of Hephaestus. I know you know where it is”, Callisto answers.
“Then you also know that I'm not going to give it to you”, Xena says back to Callisto.
“Of but I think you're going to, if you want to see these three young ones again”, Callisto says and Xena can hear Kacey's, Tobey's and Dominic's voices in the background and they sound terrified.
“I want you to bring me the dagger to the museum in one hour. I want this to be just like in the good old times. Be late or try anything and these young ones will be on a one way ticket ride to whatever is their equivalent to Tartarus”, Callisto says and hangs up. Exl is angry because Callisto has her friends and she knows she'll hurt them if they won't do what she wants.
“What did Callisto say about the good old times?”, Gabrielle asks after Xena puts down the phone.
“I think she wants to see us just as we were the last time she saw us. Not in these modern outfits but as who we really are. We have one hour to think of a plan and get to the museum”, Xena says and takes the Dagger of Hephaestus from the box. Exl walks to Xena and says:
“I think I have an idea which just might work.” She explains her idea to Xena and Gabrielle and they both agree that it could work. They prepare everything and then they search their closets and take out large chests and open them. Inside them are their old battle outfits which they haven't worn in a very long time. Gabrielle gets dressed in her red velvet top and skirt and brown boots, Exl in her green shirt and brown shorts and black boots and Xena in her signature leather battledress and copper armor and black boots. They go into the study to open a large safe and take their weapons, which are still as good as new. They give their weapons a twirl and are pleased to see they still got their old moves. Xena looks at Gabrielle, then at Exl and says:
“Let's go and meet an old acquaintance.”
Only ten minutes before the hour is up, Xena's Escalade stops in front of the museum and three women dressed in very old looking battle outfits get out of the car and walk inside. It's very quiet, maybe even too quiet. Xena stops when she sees Callisto entering the great hall from another hall.
Callisto looks exactly the same as she did centuries ago, just as sinister and evil.
“Callisto…”, Xena says with contempt and Callisto replies:
“Xena, it's so good to see you. Did you bring it?” Exl walks right next to Xena and asks:
“Where are my friends?” Callisto pulls on a rope she is holding and Tobey, Dominic and Kacey are pulled to her with their hands tied behind their back and their binds are tied to the other end of the rope Callisto is holding.
“Okay Callisto, you let them go and when they're safe, I'll hand you the dagger”, Xena says. Callisto knows Xena might be up to something, but she knows Xena is an honorable warrior, she'll keep her word. She pulls out a knife and cuts the binds around the young ones' hands. As soon as they're free, they run to Exl who asks them:
“Are you guys alright?” They all nod and Kacey admits a bit ashamed:
“We're so sorry Exl. But she told us you where in trouble and that you needed our help. You were right, she can't be trusted.” Exl is glad her friends are alright and reassures them everything is okay:
“The main thing is that you're not harmed. You guys have to get out of here, now.” Before they can make a move, Callisto says:
“Oh no, no-one goes anywhere before I get the dagger. I want someone to witness when I finally destroy the mighty Warrior Princess and her friends.” Gabrielle walks next to Xena and says:
“In your dreams Callisto.” Callisto looks at all three and says being very satisfied:
“How nice, the whole family is here. It's so nice to see you all together. How long has been now? Over two thousand years? Trapped in that lava rock for all that time and you've been living happily ever after. But now it's all going to change. Hand me the Dagger of Hephaestus, now”, Callisto says and Exl takes out a box from her backpack. Callisto orders her to put the box on the floor and kick it to her. Exl does as she is told and Callisto takes the box with a gleam in her eyes. She opens the box and takes out a dagger. When her focus is on the dagger, Gabrielle signals Exl's friends to slowly move towards the exit. They are stunned by what they have heard and can barely move a muscle. Callisto surprises them all by putting the dagger on her belt and taking out her sword and she says:
“Now it's my time to get my payback on you for pushing me in that lava and imprisoning me.”
Xena pulls out her sword and Gabrielle stands ready next to her. Exl says to her friends who are standing behind her:
“Stay behind me.” Dominic wants to know why and enquires:
“Why?” Exl quickly pulls out her axes and twirls them and says back to him looking over her shoulder:
“Because I said so.” Dominic raises his hands in defense and stutters:
“What ever you say E…”
Callisto cries out her battle cry and jumps up in the air to flip in front of Xena, but Xena does the exact same and kicks Callisto when they meet in mid-air. They drop to the ground and start sword fighting. Both can dodge each other's swings and thrusts, the fight is like a déjà-vu from the past. Xena tries to distract Callisto by asking her:
“Tell me Callisto? How did you ever get out of that lava rock?” Callisto smirks at Xena and replies:
“Well when you three pushed me in that horrible lava pit, I thought I was a goner. But since I'm immortal, it only imprisoned me. I fell asleep and occasionally I would wake up and think about how I'd never get my revenge on you. But then I felt like someone would be moving me, and then I felt a strong presence. The Dagger of Hephaestus, I could feel how it was so close. My anger and hate towards you gave me the strength to brake out of my prison. When I got out I saw something I wouldn't believe could be true. “Professor Gabrielle Potidaea”, how clever of you. I tried to find the dagger, but you had hid it too well. Then you two”, she takes a look at Gabrielle and Exl who is standing in front of her friends as a protective shield
“walked in and I knew that by following you I would get the dagger.” She tries to strike Xena, but yet again she is able to block all her attempts. Callisto wants to tell more about her ingenious plan:
“Then I followed you to that big school and heard they needed a person who knew something about ancient warfare. So I used your scheme and presented myself as Callisto Cirra and again you walked right to me. I knew that you would still be as noble as always and wouldn't let me hurt anyone, so I could get you right here where I wanted you.” Exl's friends have no clue about what this mysterious woman is talking about, but understood now wasn't the time for questions.
“Once I've destroyed you Xena, I'll get your precious bard and Guardian, just like I've been dreaming all these years”, Callisto says winking at the young warrior and bard. Xena has had enough of Callisto's threats and kicks Callisto's sword away and says:
“Over my cold, dead body.” Callisto smiles and says:
“My pleasure.” Then she makes a quick move and takes the dagger from her belt and tries to cut Xena with it, but it doesn't do any damage to her. Callisto looks at Xena and Xena has her usual smirk on her face when she says:
“Welcome to the 21 st century Callisto. That material is called plastic, it's used very frequently in modern times. It's handy when making authentic looking replicas.” Callisto turns to look at Exl who is holding her backpack and smiling at Callisto. Callisto throws the fake dagger on the ground and flips over Xena to get to Exl, but Exl is faster and throws her backpack to Gabrielle who is several feet away from her. Gabrielle throws the backpack to Dominic and then so on to Tobey and Kacey. Callisto is getting annoyed being toyed around with and takes her own knife and throws it at Exl who now has the backpack. The knife throw is accurate and hits Exl in the left elbow causing her to drop the backpack on the floor and the box holding the Dagger slides across the floor. It's only a couple feet away from Callisto and Xena, either one of them could get it. Gabrielle has told Exl's friends to get behind the columns and stay out of harm's way. They do as they're told and continue watching the fight from a safer place. Callisto tries to reach for the box, but Xena hits her in the stomach with her elbow and goes for the box herself. She manages to touch be box, but pushes it further when Callisto kicks her in the back and she falls to the ground. Callisto grabs Xena by the shoulder and turns her on her back and starts to choke her. As they turn to focus on one another, Exl notices the fake Dagger on the floor near her and reaches for it. Xena struggles for air and says:
“Callisto, you know you can't kill me this way, you know it's pointless.” Callisto looks enjoying the moment too much she's forgetting Xena is right. Exl calls out for Xena and Xena manages to turn her head so she can see Exl and that she throws her the Dagger. Xena catches the Dagger and Callisto happily laughs and notes to Xena:
“Nice try Xena. You can't fool me with that plastic imitation twice. You should no better than that.”
Exl smiles and says to Callisto:
“No Callisto. You're the one who should no better.” She lifts the Dagger up and strikes it to the floor and it shatters into pieces. She then looks at Callisto and remarks:
“It's all just a little sleight-of-hand.” Callisto just denies what she saw and turns to look at Xena who is holding the real dagger. She looks straight at Callisto and says:
“Go back to Tartarus”, before she strikes the Dagger of Hephaestus into Callisto's chest. Callisto lets go of her and screams in pain as the Dagger's powers start affecting her. Gabrielle runs to Xena and Exl is there with them in a flash. There is anger in Callisto's as she looks at them with a look which they know means they will see her again. All they can see is bright flash and hear Callisto's final screams before all there is left is the Dagger that drops on the floor. Gabrielle picks it up and puts it back in the box. She turns to look at Xena and Exl and says:
“It's over.” Xena nods slightly and replies:
“Yes, for now.”
Seeing that everything seems to be safe, Tobey, Dominic and Kacey come out of hiding and walk to the women. They all look very baffled, seeing them approach Exl asks them:
“Are you guys okay?” None of them can say anything, but Dominic stutters:
“What… what was all that about?” Exl looks at Gabrielle and Xena, who nod in unison.
Exl starts to explain them the situation:
“I promised to tell you everything, and I always keep my promises. I…” She is interrupted by Kacey:
“You're not a college student.” Then she looks at Gabrielle and says:
“And you're not a history professor.” Finally she turns to Xena and asks:
“So you aren't a cop either?” They all shake their heads and Tobey asks:
“Who are you then? Tell us the truth.”
Gabrielle looks at the three young ones and says:
“Very well, follow me.” She leads them to the sitting area near her office and gets something from inside. She asks them to sit down and then goes to the two warriors.
“You remember the stories I told you about the three friends?”, she asks and the youngsters nod.
“You deserve to know who they really are. Here's a description of them, written by another bard from their time”, Gabrielle continues and hands them an old scroll.
Tobey takes it and starts to read it, it's written in English so he can understand it.
“I sing of three friends, of a family. One of them is a tall warrior, with long raven hair and beautiful ice blue eyes. She is a fierce fighter and a great leader. Her past is dark, but her present and future are bright, for her brave and loving heart will never let her down. She is called Xena, the Warrior Princess of Amphipolis. Her wife has blond hair and emerald green eyes and the brightest of smiles. She is a bard and the Queen of the Amazons. She cares for others and sees the best in everyone. She is called Gabrielle, the Battling Bard of Potidaea. There is another warrior in the family. Young, but wise and very noble. Her hair is brown with some blond in it and her eyes are something so amazing. They are half blue and half green, like a perfect mixture of the colors of her friends' eyes. A long scar runs over her left eye, a scar she wears with pride. She comes from a land far away, from the North. She is the Loyal and Guardian of Gabrielle and Xena, a task she will always fill with courage and great love. She is called Exl, the loyal Guardian.”
While Tobey reads the description, Xena, Exl and Gabrielle keep looking at one another.
When he finishes, Tobey turns the scroll over and they see a picture drawn on the back of the scroll. It's an ancient portrait of the family, they are all smiling and look exactly the same as the people who are just opposite of the three young friends. They can't believe their eyes or ears, it couldn't be possible. They turn their gaze at the women who are now looking at them, waiting for their reactions.
“It's you, you're the ones in the stories. But the stories are from the ancient times, that means you…”, Dominic says realizing bits and pieces about the truth.
“Have lived over two thousand years ago, and we're here now. Very much alive”, Xena says.
“That's just like Callisto said, but it's not possible. Or can it?”, Kacey says looking at the boys.
“Let us explain what happened over two thousand years ago”, Exl suggests.
She looks at Gabrielle who starts:
“Back in our time, the time of the ancient Gods, we travelled all around helping others and fighting evil. We had many encounters with the same foes, like Callisto. After a confrontation with her, Xena and Exl pushed her into a lava river and we thought it would imprison her for ages. Everything we faced, we were able to get through it together. But some while later something happened which none of us could have any control over. We were aiding our friends at war when we got very critically injured. As our friends stood around our nearly lifeless bodies, they tried to think about a way they could help us. Finally they had a plan, they attained nectar and ambrosia, legendary foods of the Gods. It was said that drinking the mixture of nectar and ambrosia would heal all wounds and revive the nearly dead. We were revived, but something went wrong. It didn't just heal us, it made us immortal. Apparently ours friends gave too much of it to us, thus making us immortal. We noticed that very soon, as we went back into battle. Trying to protect the King, Xena was stabbed straight in the heart. We all thought we would lose her, but it had no effect on her. Our immortality is a complicated matter, if we are wounded non-fatally, our wounds heal quickly. Like the knife cut on Exl's elbow that Callisto caused, look at it now.” Exl shows her elbow and her friends can see a small red mark disappear right in front of their eyes.
“And if we attain fatal injuries like a gunshot or a sword through the heart, it won't affect us at all. We were all surprised to find out that we had been turned to immortals. But it was also hard for us, since we don't grow older we had to see our friends grow old and die. We've remained the same for all this time.” Dominic asks them:
“So if you can't die, why did Callisto want the Dagger of Hephaestus so badly?”
Xena continues from where Gabrielle left off:
“Long before our last encounter, Callisto had become immortal herself. When she woke up in her prison feeling the Dagger was near, she knew it could mean her own death or ours. There are a few ways to kill someone who is immortal, the Dagger of Hephaestus is one of them. If an immortal is wounded by it, they lose their immortality, but if they are for example stabbed by it, it kills them instantly. Just like what happened to Callisto. Back in our time, we knew that the Dagger of Hephaestus existed and a couple of other ways our enemies could defeat us. We searched for them so if at any time we would feel like we would want to live a normal life, we could use them and regain our mortality. But no-one ever found any of them, not even us. Exl made a plastic imitation of the Dagger, since we knew Callisto couldn't tell the difference between the real one and the fake one.” Tobey asks them about their identities:
“I remember Exl telling once about some towns of ancient Greece. Are Amphipolis and Potidaea names of towns or just your names?
“When we came here, we knew we had to think of good names for us, so we took them after our hometowns. Xena is from Amphipolis, so that's her last name and Gabrielle is from Potidaea, that's what her last name is. My last name Guardian comes from the fact that I'm Gabrielle's and Xena's Guardian. Callisto used this same trick when she came to the College. Cirra was the name of her home town”, Exl explains.
“Over the years we've seen empires rise and fall, wars destroy the world and the world change. We've had to move rather frequently, since we don't age and if we would stay in one place for long, people would start to wonder how our appearances never change. That's one of the down sides of being immortal”, Gabrielle says. Dominic looks at his friends and says to them:
“Can you believe it guys? We know three immortals that have lived for over two thousand years. We have to tell someone.” Hearing what Dominic has in mind, Gabrielle, Xena and Exl immediately say no. Gabrielle looks at the three young friends and says:
“You can't tell anyone. Think about the consequences, if you'd go around and tell everyone about our secret, people will think you're crazy. Or if they would believe you, think about what would happen to us. We'd be captured and constantly asked to tell about how things have really happened in the past. We could never live a normal, well almost normal life again.”
Exl looks into her friends' eyes and asks them:
“Guys, please. Don't tell anyone about our secret.” Kacey turns to Tobey and Dominic and says:
“She's right you guys. We can't to that to Exl and her family, they're our friends. Think if you were in their shoes and someone would tell your secret to the world.” Tobey nods and Dominic realizes that he doesn't want to hurt his friend. The three young ones places their hands on their hearts and Kacey says:
“We promise never to tell anyone about what we've just seen and heard. Your secret is safe with us.” Xena, Gabrielle and Exl smile and are relieved. Kacey continues:
“If you promise to tell us more stories about your adventures.” This is a promise the family is glad to keep. Gabrielle takes a scroll and opens it to read:
“This story is called “Family Reunion”…” For over two thousand years the family of three has had to keep their secret hidden from everyone, but they have now found someone who they trust will never tell about who they really are. Who knows, maybe they'll still be around for another thousand years?
End of “Future Days”
The series will continue in: “Friends or Foes”
Please let me know what you honestly thought about the story. I am happy for every feedback I receive, it will give me a chance to know what you think about my writing. Thank you all the feedback so far.
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