Copyright Disclaimer: Any and all characters referenced from the Xenaverse belong to Renaissaince Pictures and their respective parties. I don’t own the characters otherwise we’d already have a movie and the series would have never ended the way it did.
Sex, Violence, Language Warning: They will all be present and they will probably be graphic. In specific reference to the sex portion of the warning I will say that any descriptive sexual text will be centered on that of the lesbian variety. If you like it, great. If you don’t, I don’t want to hear about it.
Spoiler Warning: Post Friend in Need.
Feedback: Please, please, Please send it to me. This is my first fic ever and I’d really appreciate any comments or criticism that you have.
A Little Explanation: This fic does exist within the Xenaverse and characters from the show will play a large part, but in essence it is a spin-off centering around a main character called Sarah. Hope you like it.
Living in the Past:
Book 1-Ripples in the Water
The Little Green Stone
Modern Day Greece
Deep within the forest that once played home to the Ancient Greek Amazons, the sound of foot falls could be heard as Sarah led her small contingency to what she hoped would be their next archaeological find. Sarah was extremely young to be leading anyone around. At twenty-two she had only just graduated college a few months prior to the excursion she was on now. She had her great Aunts to thank for the means to take on this search. Janice Covington and Mel Pappas were two of the most groundbreaking experts in their field. Because of their research into the Xena Scrolls, certain solid facts about history were being questioned. Money poured in whenever they were willing to set up any kind of dig, and now that neither Mel or Janice were staking out themselves, the job fell to Sarah who was more than happy to take over. Sarah’s youth gave her an edge that Mel and Janice had long lost due to their responsibility to each other. For Sarah, retrieving the scrolls was the most important objective, and at many times putting her life in danger was simply an acceptable risk.
She wiped sweat from the back of her neck with her handkerchief and silently praised the fact that she’d decided to bring along her denim jacket instead of the heavy leather one. The fedora she wore kept most of the sun out of her eyes, but she still removed it every now and then to let some heat rise from her light brown hair. She was loathing the medium length of her hair right now. It was just long enough to add more heat to the back of her neck, but too short to pull back out of the way. She was surprised no one had started to complain. The two native boys she hired were carrying all the gear and yet they were silent as she and her partner Jake continued to search for one specific cave. It must have seemed comical to the two Greeks to see this girl in charge not only of them, but her stalky six foot tall American companion as well.
The cave they were looking for would most likely look like all the other caves they had searched through in the last week, which is what made it so hard to find. With so very little information known about the Amazons it was possible that the group was not even in the right part of the forest. Whether or not the entrance they were approaching now would lead them to the next Xena scroll was pretty much a crap shoot. But with twelve other caves behind them, numbers were becoming more and more on their side. She adjusted her Aunt’s hat on her head and looked the entrance up and down. Sweat was rolling into her cool blue eyes and she was growing tired of exploring caves that led them nowhere.
“I think this is the one.” She said to Jake. Sarah was lucky in the sense that her right hand man was not only one of the most promising up and coming archaeologists in the field, but also her best friend.
“Yeah, I can see where you would think that since it only looks like every cave we’ve come across in the last week.” His wit usually served to lighten her mood, but right now it was an irritation.
“Come on, just humor me for this one and then we’ll break for lunch.” She shot back with a hint of fatigue in her voice.
“Fine, but if you’re wrong I get dibs on all the ham sandwiches and you get the goat cheese.” He countered with a smirk, knowing that the ham sandwiches were his anyway considering the fact that Sarah hadn’t eaten meat in the last five years.
“Deal.” She said as they broke out their flashlights and ventured inside.
They surveyed the walls first, looking for any kind of crack or crevice that could indicate a door. The two local boys just paced around waiting for them to finish up; they were both hungry.
“Find anything?” Sarah asked.
Jake chuckled, “Yeah, I did. I just decided not to tell you about it.”
She rolled her eyes and continued to search. After a couple of minutes she heard a grunt come from one of the boys followed by the crash of their back pack. She turned and noticed that he had fallen on the ground, and went to see if he was injured.
“Hey, are you ok?” She asked as he was picking himself up.
“Yes miss, I’m sorry, I tripped on something.” He said.
She looked around on the ground and found the cause of the problem to be what looked like the vine of a tree coming from the ground. It seemed rather strange though, considering there were no trees in here. Upon further inspection she noticed that the “vine” was metal. She tried lifting it and felt a little give, but could not pull up much farther.
“Jake, come over here.” She said as she began to dig through the dirt covering the metal, as Jake arrived to help her out. Once all of the dirt was gone they realized that the metal piece was a handle to a hatch that was held together by locked chains.
“You are so lucky I subscribe to a cruelty free diet, otherwise your ass would be eating goat cheese, my friend.” She said as she reached into one of their packs looking for a pick axe.
“This could be anything; the locals could have used it for an armory or a fallout shelter.” He said skeptically.
Sarah took out a large dusting brush and swept the dirt from the top of the panel, revealing a statement in ancient Greek lettering.
“May this sacred place only be entered by those of Amazon blood.” She read. “Still think it’s a fallout shelter?”
“Well then why was it so easy to find?” He asked.
“You call traipsing around these jungles for a week easy? The hard part was looking through cave after cave of nothing but bat shit and animal carcasses.” She said as she swung the pick axe down on the lock; after a several solid swings the lock was breached. After opening the hatch Sarah swiftly removed her pack and shone a flashlight in the dark entrance.
“Give me a lantern; I don’t trust batteries in dark, creepy passages.” She said to one of the boys. She hooked the lantern on her arm and climbed down the old rickety rope ladder. Once on the ground she held up her arms for her pack; Jake tossed it to her before following suit down the ladder.
“Aren’t you worried about that warning on the hatch door?” He asked, knowing her skepticism would paint her answer with sarcasm.
“Curses only work if you give credence to them. It’s about the person, not magic.” She said as she lit the lantern and started surveying the area.
The small corridor was dark and had a musty scent. Just a few feet in front of them stood an altar of some sort. It was almost phallic in shape, which made Sarah smile at the irony. A few yards beyond that lay a split in the corridor.
“So, you take right, I’ll take left?” Jake said as he started moving forward.
“Whoa, whoa!” Sarah said, stopping him abruptly.
“Whoa, what?” He asked in confusion.
“That altar is there for a reason; it’s not like it’s roping off anything.” She looked around and spotted a rock about the size of her fist on the ground and threw it past the marker. As soon as the rock touched the ground a healthy amount of darts shot out from the left side of the wall.
“Not a curse, huh?” Jake asked cynically.
“It’s a floor trap, moron. If any pressure is applied to the floor the same thing is going to happen. But there’s gotta be a way to disarm it.” She said as she looked closer.
Sarah walked up to the altar and examined it more closely. There was an inscription at the base, and what looked like a button at the very top of the structure.
“What’s it say?” Jake asked.
“Same thing as the entrance hatch.” Sarah answered as she rubbed the back of her neck. “I’m guessing that to pass through without being harmed you have to prove you’re of Amazon blood.”
“Ha ha; you’ve got to bleed on that top part, otherwise we can’t get in.” Jake said in jest.
“Yeah right. The Amazons may have set up the darts, but there’s no way this thing knows the difference between water and blood.” She said while opening her canteen and turning it upside down over the top of the cylinder. They waited a second and nothing happened.
“Still so sure about that curse?” Jake asked.
“Maybe nothing’s supposed to happen.” She said.
“Well if you’re so sure, why don’t you take a stroll down the hall?” He said with a grin, knowing she wouldn’t do it. Sarah’s pride only went so far; it almost never asserted itself over her intelligence.
“Fine.” She said and started walking right past the column. With one foot raised over the invisible threshold she thought for a second and then pulled back.
“Proving you wrong just isn’t worth risking my life.” She said while walking back and grabbing a rock. “Besides, I do it so often you must have a complex by now, and I wouldn’t want to completely ruin your self confidence.”
“Right” He said before she tossed the rock and barbs shot out again.
“Shit!” Sarah exclaimed at the unfortunate luck they were having. Jake just chuckled; he knew he didn’t have to say a word.
“There is no fucking way that this piece of stone is going to keep me from going in this cave.” She said before she started applying her body weight to the stone’s top. Still nothing happened.
“I’m telling you, that thing specifically said Amazon blood. Not heritage, not origin; blood. And I certainly ain’t one of them.” He patted her back. “Look, you truly believe that your Aunt Janice is a descendant of Gabrielle and Gabrielle was an Amazon. So, however thinned out it may be now, you have Amazon blood, too.”
The girl sighed in defeat. Whether or not it was the most plausible course of action, it did seem like the only one available. With a growl Sarah unsheathed her knife from the holster under her jacket and walked toward the stone structure. With her free hand she located the Zippo in her pocket and pulled it out for sterilization. Sarah looked from the blade to her hand and inwardly cringed.
“How much blood do you think it needs? Do you think maybe a finger prick will do the job?” She asked Jake with trepidation.
“Nah, it looks like more than that. Just do like the guys in the movies: cut your palm and squeeze.” He said as he rummaged through his pack for the first aid kit.
“Oh Jesus Christ, this is stupid.” She said to herself before placing the blade against her open palm. Sarah then closed her eyes, took a big breath and swiftly dragged the knife against her skin. “Aaahhhhaaaaaa, fuck!” She shrieked as blood started escaping from the wound. During the process she had pulled away from the pedestal and she felt Jake moving her hand over the top of it.
“Hey, don’t waste your blood. Hold it right there and squeeze a little bit. I’ve got the bandages ready.”
She breathed hard as the blood pooled over the stone, the pain was so overpowering she didn’t notice the center of the pedestal lowering. Jake pulled her back and quickly started to clean the wound.
“Owww, easy with the alcohol.” She whined.
“Oh, will you get over it; it’s barely a flesh wound.” He teased.
“Says Monty Python.” She quipped.
Jake quickly finished wrapping the bandage up so they could go see what was going on with the trap. Upon approaching it they noticed that the very top part that looked like a button had sunk in, but it was slowly moving back up.
“Oh shit, you don’t think it’s on a timer do you?” He asked as Sarah went to retrieve a rock. She swiftly tossed it on the ground in front of them and nothing happened with the darts. She moved back to the pedestal and made a decision to run for it. Just as she lurched forward Jake stopped her with his hand.
“Are you crazy? Even if you make it to the split you won’t have a way out.” He said quickly.
Pulling away from him she said, “I know, that’s why you’re going to stay behind. Don’t argue with me, I don’t have much time.” And with that she ran quickly down the corridor. Feeling light headed from the loss of blood wasn’t helping her, but Sarah figured she still had enough time if she sprinted. Jake’s entire body tensed as his eyes went from the cylinder to his friend. When the button finally popped back up he screamed for Sarah. Her foot hit the ground for the last time after the timer went off, which sent the darts flying. Luckily she moved out of the way before any of them hit her. After stopping she turned around to address Jake.
“Hey, I’m ok. They didn’t get me.” She said.
“Oh good, exactly what do you plan on doing now?” He said, angry.
“There has to be another way out of here. Turn on your radio and wait outside the cave, I’ll keep in contact and if anything happens, send for help. Can you do that?” She asked.
“You can’t just go in there by yourself, what…” He said before she cut him off.
“Look I’ve already made the decision and it isn’t as if I can go back now. Just do what I said.” She yelled.
“Fine!” He said with frustration as he climbed out of the cave. “Walkie check.” He said into the radio.
“I hear you loud and clear.” Sarah said back.
The two boys were a little confused to see just one person come out of the ground and the question showed in their eyes.
“Women.” Jake said in answer. “Don’t ever let them get the upper hand, cuz they’ll steal your piece of the action.”
Sarah was not exactly sure how great of an idea it was to do this on her own, but she wasn’t about to let Jake know that either. After an exasperated sigh she held up the lantern and read the inscription above each path. The left side said “For those who would know the past”, and the right said” For those who would see the past”.
“What? Why do these things always have to be so cryptic?” She asked herself, before pulling a coin out of her pocket. It was her lucky Susan B. Anthony. She kissed it before flipping it in the air, calling heads left and tails right. After it fell back down she caught it and opened her hand.
“Guess, I’m gonna know the past.”
The dark corridor was filled with Amazonian symbols paying tribute to Queen Gabrielle. The art work was a welcome sight to Sarah and it calmed her a little, however, the insects that had found solace in the cave did not give her comfort, so she hurried up the path. The ground seemed to incline as she progressed, and after walking for a few minutes she finally saw an opening at the end of the tunnel. The opening led her into a small rounded chamber. Once inside, she saw a chest at the very back of the room. It was locked, but that would not be an issue. Sarah could slip into Fort Knox if she really wanted to, a two-thousand year old lock would pose no problem at all. She retrieved her picks from her cargo pocket and started working at her obstacle. Jake decided to check in on her at that moment.
“Sarah, you doing ok?” He said over the walkie.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I think I found the scrolls, I just have to pick open the chest then I’ll find a way out.” She answered back.
“Did you go down both paths?” He asked.
“No, but there’s definitely something down the other one. If this chest doesn’t hold the scrolls I’ll head down that way. Over and out.” She said
After working at the lock for a minute or so the top part easily separated from the bottom. Sarah lifted open the chest and beheld about twenty different scrolls.
“Jackpot.” She said, and started packing them in her bag. As soon as the chest was empty light poured in from the ceiling and a ladder fell down for her escape. She smiled and went over to investigate. This exit must lead to the other side of the cave. But what about the right hand fork? She weighed her chances carefully, and decided to head back down the path. As soon as she set foot out of the room she heard a crumbling noise coming from behind her. As she turned to see what it was the crumbling became even louder followed by a hissing sound. Water was pushing through the rock somehow, and soon it would fill the entire cave. Sarah started sprinting to the other side right before she heard the bottom fall out. Water started slowly cascading towards her, but soon it was at her knees. By the time she made it down the other corridor it was at her waist.
She scanned the room and found it to be just like the other side; so, in theory, all she had to do was open the chest and an escape hatch would appear. She fumbled in her pocket for the picks and a flashlight then started on the lock. The water had risen to her chest now and she couldn’t see anything because the lantern had gone out. Taking a breath, Sarah went under the water for a closer look at what she was doing. It was much harder to pick the lock when she couldn’t hear what was going on inside it. She put her head closer to the metal and tried to work like that. Finally the top popped loose and she quickly opened the chest. Inside was a huge green stone. Sarah had no idea what it was, but decided that there would be time to think about that later. She secured it in her jacket and resurfaced. The water was almost to the ceiling now, and there was no sign of a ladder or an opening.
“Shit!” She swore while looking at the ceiling for any variation in the rock. She saw what looked like a large patch of mud and started digging at it with her bare hands. It fell away pretty quickly and then there was metal. The water had almost completely filled the room. Sarah scrambled to find the ladder so she could use it for leverage. After pulling it down she inverted her body while holding the ladder and started kicking the door. After a few kicks she was getting tired and out of breath. Luckily it angered her and added force to her kicks and finally she managed to force open the door. She pulled herself back into an upright position and made her way through the exit.
Gasping for air she rolled off the side of the cave and onto the ground. She patted her jacket pocket to ensure the stone was still there and was happy to feel the new lump. The scrolls she knew were safe. She learned the hard way to line her backpack with plastic in case of unforeseeable events involving water. Eating soggy sandwiches for a week will make anyone precautious. She smiled and breathed a sigh of relief before heading back to the others.
“What the hell happened to you?” Jake asked when he saw Sarah approach them soaked to the bone.
“Apparently the Amazons felt that the person who entered the cave should only go down one path. I sure showed them. Hey boys, why don’t you set up camp? We’re going to need plenty of time to celebrate before we head back to town tomorrow.” She said with a smile while she sat down on a near by rock and took off her boots.
“So what did you find?” Jake asked.
“Well in the first chest I found the scrolls, but in the second chest there was this rock.” She said pulling the green stone from her jacket pocket. “I’m not really sure what it is; maybe a sacred stone of the Amazons, possibly some treasure that they hid from invaders. You’re the treasure hunter, what do you make of it?” She asked Jake, knowing that he had more knowledge of valuable materials.
He took the stone from her and examined it. Pulling out his spectroscope lens he took a look at the more elusive aspects of the rock.
“Well it’s definitely not precious, and it’s scratched all to hell.” He continued to observe holding his specimen higher in the air. “It gives off some weird color patterns though. Maybe it’s worth something.” He said tossing it back to Sarah.
She caught it with ease and stared into the dark corners. She had not come across anything in previous scrolls about a sacred stone other than the Exion stone; but that was more likely a myth than actual fact. Maybe the answer was in the new scrolls. Sarah could not wait to find out. She walked over to where the camp was being set up and reached in one of the satchels for a bottle of wine and two cigars.
“Time to celebrate!” She said to Jake after handing him the cigar and uncorking the wine. She reached in her pocket for her Zippo, but remembered that it would not work as soon as it had been retrieved. Jake smiled and pulled out a book of matches to light the cigars. Sarah took a long drag of the sweet tobacco and let it back out. After taking a swig of the wine she offered the bottle to Jake. He shook his head and reached into his own sack, showing off a bottle of cheap tequila.
“I can’t stand that crap you drink.” He said with a smile.
“You just don’t have refined taste.” Sarah swished the merlot in her mouth and swallowed, welcoming the warm, cozy feeling that would soon set in.
The sun was just setting over the horizon and everyone in the camp was busy preparing for the night ahead. Once the fire was going and the meal had been eaten Sarah settled in and propped herself up against a rock and started scanning the scrolls for anything about the stone. Jake came over to see what she was doing and plopped down beside her; the half finished bottle of alcohol in hand.
“Whatcha doin? Reading already?” He slurred, and Sarah smiled at him.
“Nah, I’m just trying to see if I can find out anything about the rock. I’d like to know what it is, so I can tell Aunt Janice when we get back.”
“Well, don’t get your hopes up that it’s worth anything. It didn’t look special to me.” He took another swig and scowled.
“Yeah, but you know that’s not important to me. It’s the history of the stone that I care about. You’ve got the whole Indiana Jones ‘fortune and glory’ thing. For me, it’s all about the history. These are my ancestors; I want to know what they did with their lives.”
“You’re starting to sound like your Aunt now.” He paused and changed voices to mimic Janice Covington, “Oh Sarah, don’t you see how important this is. Xena and Gabrielle were heroes. We have to find everything ever written about them, your Aunt Mel would have wanted…” He stopped quickly with that last statement, cursing the alcohol for loosening his tongue. “I’m sorry Sarah, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s ok, Jake.” She said as she looked away from him into the fire.
Mel had died about a year ago, and both Sarah and Janice took things pretty hard. Janice and Mel had taken Sarah in when she was just a baby. Her mother, niece to the two archaeologists, died in child birth and no one really knew who the father was. Since it was impossible for Janice and Mel to have children of their own Sarah was like a gift from the gods to them. They told her stories of ancient Greece and the warrior woman who changed the world. Mel taught her how to read the old text and Janice taught her how to fight and ride horses. As time went by they took her on a couple of expeditions, that’s how she met Jake. He was the son of one of the archaeologists on the digs. They had gotten in trouble many times for going into the sites to find the scrolls. Sarah knew Janice and Mel were getting older and less adept at escaping traps than she was, so on many occasions she leapt into the fray before either of them had the chance. It always garnered the same results; Janice would be furious and not speak to her for a couple of days, but Mel would soften up and together they would read the scrolls that had been secured on the trip. It took a while for Sarah to get used to traveling alone, but the present trip would be her second on her own and the homesick feeling of youth was mellowing under the satisfaction of independence.
Mel got sick right before Sarah’s last was scheduled to leave. Janice was going to cancel it, but Mel insisted that someone go. They argued about it well into the night, before Sarah had enough. She stepped in the room and told them both that the obvious solution was for them to send her and Jake. They were going to end up doing the dangerous work anyway, so the decision was really already made. Janice did not even fight it. She knew how important those scrolls were to Mel, and she could not bear to leave her side. Janice took Sarah to the airport where they met up with Jake. She gave them a laundry list of things not to do, and of course they did every one of them. She told Jake to board the plane so that she could talk with Sarah in private. Once they were alone it was so hard for her to look into the young girls’ deep blue eyes, they looked just like Mel’s.
“You know the only reason you’re going right now is because it means so much to Mel.” She said to Sarah and received a nod in response. Now it was the young girl who could not meet Janice’s eyes. The older woman knew it was because they were filling with tears, but she forced them to look at her anyway.
“Listen to me! Those scrolls have been our entire life’s work, but they are nothing more than scraps of old dirty paper compared to you. You are going to Greece in one piece and you are going to come back to us that way. Mel would never forgive herself if something happened to you and I won’t let her live whatever life she has left feeling that guilt.” She wiped away the tears that were falling down the girls’ cheeks then pulled back a little.
“Now,” Janice said as she pulled her hat off her head and placed it on Sarah’s. “This is my favorite hat. I’ve worn it on every expedition and I’ve returned with it every time. It will keep you safe, but you have to bring it back.”
Sarah nodded then grabbed her Aunt in a fierce hug.
“I love you. I’ll make you both proud of me when I come back.” Grabbing her stuff she quickly went through the gate and wiped her tears away before boarding the plane. She knew she would make it back, she just hoped it would be in enough time for Mel. If only Sarah had that homecoming to look forward to this time around.
She was brought back from her reverie by Jake who was still trying to apologize to her about the slip. She decided to simply change the subject.
“Do you remember that last trip out to the temple of Aphrodite?” She asked.
Jake thought for a minute, then smiled. “How could I forget, you worked us so hard that I almost didn’t sign on this time. I think the locals were plotting to kill you. And those scrolls; God, they were horrible.”
“Yeah, I thought so, too. I mean, I know that a lot of the stuff Gabrielle wrote was beefed up a bit with fantasy, but I don’t know what she was thinking with the whole Eve thing. I hated that little twerp.” She said with a chuckle
“Yeah, me too. The scrolls totally weren’t worth the crap we had to go through to get them.” Jake slurred.
“Aunt Mel loved them. All she did once I got back was read. I sat with her most of the time, listening to her translate. Eve was the main reason she liked them. She loved the idea of Xena and Gabrielle having a child together; however annoying that child was.” She joked.
Taking the last swig from her wine bottle she stood up to go to bed. She had one last thing to say before she retired to her sleeping bag.
“I think it was those scrolls that kept her going the last few days. She had to make sure that they were all going to be ok; even the twerp.” The last words were said with her back to Jake. She entered her tent wearing a smile and a tear, then passed out on top of her sleeping bag..
The plane ride home was not the pleasant and rejuvenating experience that Sarah hoped it would be. That was mainly due to the fact that she ended up reading the last few scrolls. Sarah was one of those people who skipped to the end of the book to see what was going to happen. She hated the suspense of waiting, and sometimes that robbed her of the joy of the surprise. No, Sarah was right to the point about pretty much everything. So, as Jake snored softly in her ear she read the terrible tale of Xena’s demise in Japa. How could this happen? How could she just walk away from Gabrielle like that? Anger and rage filled her as she tried to sit still in her chair. Xena died because she believed that the souls could not be at peace without the forfeit of her life. She did not fall in battle or ride off with her bard. She faded away without a fight because of some dogmatic myth.
Begrudgingly she picked up the last scroll, hoping that maybe there was at least something about the stone in it since there was obviously no hope for a happy ending. She was surprised when she found that it was not one of Gabrielle’s stories, but a letter she had written to Xena. Sarah checked the dates one more time to make sure she had not ordered the scrolls wrong, but indeed it was written after Xena’s death in Japa. Intrigued, she read on.
I don’t even know where to begin. I am a bard and it feels as if it is impossible to say what I need to with words. I guess it doesn’t matter how I say any of this. I don’t even know why I’m writing it, so I guess there’s no need to be eloquent. Xena, Eve is dead. When I returned from Japa I went straight to Amphipolis to put your body to rest with your family. It was there that I was approached by a messenger from Chin. Eve was trying to stop a massive civil war in the country, but she was captured by the rebel army. They thought she was working with the Chin army, and that her pleas for peace were just a trick. They threatened to kill her if the Emperor’s Army did not release the prisoners of war. I traveled as fast as I could to save her, but I was too late. She was killed days before I made it to Chin, her body impaled in some desolate courtyard for all to see. I fell to my knees and screamed for you, but you never came. Finally I took Eve’s lifeless body from the spear just as some stragglers from the rebel army were passing through. They tried to stop me from taking her home and the rage in me was released. The first few I killed quickly, but as the reality of my world came crashing down I became less and less sympathetic. I left the last soldier there in excruciating pain, I don’t know if he died before the vultures came.
I burned Eve’s body just as I had burned yours. I thought about how I was too late again; about how I couldn’t save either of you. But mostly I thought about the emptiness of my soul since you left me. Now that Eve is gone I have no one left in this world. It was then that Ares came to me. I expected him to kill me then and there; angered by the failure that outlived his two best warriors. But he didn’t do that. Instead he offered me the chance to harness my pain, to unleash my fury. He told me he could relieve me of the need to feel your touch, and replace it with a lust for him. He told me that he wanted me, and that unlike you he would never leave me behind for someone from the past. It was that line that almost got me. The agony of watching you leave me so many times for someone else was a memory that never left me. I almost took his outstretched hand, the pull was so powerful. Instead I reached down for the sai in my boot and shoved it through the offered appendage. Even in death I could never leave you, and I hoped my refusal would force his wrath to send me to you. His anger was fierce, but not fierce enough. He beat me to a pulp and screamed at me to fight back, but I wouldn’t. I had given up.
It was my pacifism that ultimately saved my life. He wouldn’t give me the peace I desired, and with a bolt of lightning he was gone. I guess it’s better this way. I’m here now, in Amphipolis. I put Eve’s ashes right next to yours, and now I hope the God of Eli will forgive me for joining you both.
I love you Xena, and no matter where you leave me, I will follow you.
All my heart,
“Goddamn it!” Sarah swore loudly. She heard a plethora of gasps at her outbursts. A few of the parents on the plane covered the ears of their children and shot daggers her way.
“Sorry.” She said as she shrunk down into her seat. The stewardess came by and asked if she needed anything and was answered with a request for the strongest drink on the plane. Jake awoke from the commotion and asked Sarah what was going on.
“You remember how pissed you were about putting in so much effort last time to retrieve some shitty scrolls?” She said as she accepted her drink.
“Yeah.” Jake replied in an all too knowing tone.
“Well the bad news is that you’re going to be even more pissed off this time.” She took a draught from the glass and squinted her eyes at the burning liquid. “The good news is that you don’t ever have to worry about it happening again.” Before he had a chance to stop her, Sarah let the rest out.
“Gabrielle and Xena are dead, these were the last scrolls left to find.”
Jake was silent for a minute, and then chastised Sarah for ruining the ending before he had a chance to hear about it in full detail. They argued for a few minutes about her compulsive blabbering problem when it came to surprises, then quit when they started to rehash the “Sixth Sense fight”, knowing the language that followed that one was not suitable for the plane. Jake turned towards the window and drifted back to sleep.
Sarah just sat there with her head in her hand.
How am I supposed to show this to Aunt Janice?
Janice Covington rocked softly in her chair on the front porch, with a cup of coffee in hand. Sarah would be arriving any minute now with the new scrolls, and she did not know if it was the girl or the parchment she was more excited about seeing. She was not used to waiting around for the finds, but her age was catching up with her. Honestly, since Mel passed on she didn’t have the heart to make the trips anymore. But the excitement was still there. Her great niece had already informed her of the green stone found in the tomb and she had been combing through their archives for some clue as to what it was. Sarah seemed to think that maybe it was the fabled Exion stone, but Janice had another theory. She was pulled from her thoughts by the sound of the horn on Jake’s Jeep. He and Sarah both were yelling and waving out the window, welcoming themselves back.
Janice stood and made her way down the stairs and got the wind knocked out of her when the girl met her in a hug.
“Oh, it’s so good to see you, sweetie. I missed you so much.” The older woman said as she pulled out of the hug to take a better look at the girl.
“Well you look like you’re all in one piece. Jake, did she behave herself?”
“Only when she was in the cave; the rest of the time she was a regular party animal.”
“Whatever.” Sarah said as she lightly slapped him with her left hand. Unfortunately Janice noticed the bandage and quickly grabbed at the appendage to examine the wound.
“Now, before you freak out let me just say that it’s not that bad, and I did it on purpose.” She said, preparing for the chastisement.
“You did it on purpose? What happened, did you get bored and decide to take a stab at self mutilation?” The older woman asked.
“No, nothing like that.” She said, leading everyone inside. “There was this weird lock in the cave that required the spilling of Amazon blood. I’m still not sure how they rigged it, but I had to bleed a little to get the damn thing open.”
They made their way into the study and Sarah started laying out the scrolls. Janice decided Sarah’s cut was small enough not to give her a hard time. Instead, she asked about the stone she had been researching the past few days. Sarah retrieved it from her locked briefcase and handed it to her great Aunt.
“Jake’s already taken a look at it, and he’s fairly certain it’s not worth much.” Sarah said and then questioned her Aunt. “So I’m guessing that you didn’t find anything about it in the scroll archives, right?”
“Actually, I have an idea about that, but I didn’t get it from the Xena scrolls. Now that I’ve seen it I’m almost positive that it isn’t the Exion stone, but it may hold some other importance to the time.” She stared deep into the stone and her stomach fluttered at the idea that her research was correct. “Let’s not worry about it now; you two have come a long way. We’ll have dinner and discuss the findings tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to look over the new scrolls.”
“Sounds good to me, I haven’t had a decent meal since before we left the states. Sarah can’t cook for shit.” Jake said, only half joking.
“Oh, believe me I know, she tried to cook me a birthday dinner one time and I couldn’t even sneak pieces to the dog.” Janice said with a wry grin.
Sarah was going to reply, but she had been stuck eating her own cooking and knew she didn’t have a leg to stand on.
After sleeping till noon the next day, Sarah was awakened by a very rambunctious old woman. Janice was nearly bouncing on the bed, yelling something about “finding the stone”. Still groggy from sleep, she followed her into the study where there were books and scrolls everywhere.
“Jesus, this place is a mess! Have you been working in here all night?” Sarah asked.
Janice completely ignored the question and went straight into the details of her night’s work.
“I had this theory about the stone, but I couldn’t quite be sure until I saw it. You see, there was always this gap between the scrolls in their third year together and that gap also shows up with Hercules and Iolas. Then I put two and two together and got the answer. This worthless rock you found is actually the chronos stone.” She said with a smile.
Sarah furrowed her brow and scratched her head as she tried to understand exactly what Janice was saying. She figured the first step was to remember what history had said about the chronostone.
“Ok, let’s back up a bit.” She said as she started to pace. “The chronos stone was the one that Calisto used to go back in time and kill Hercules. It has the power to send someone to the past and then back to the present. The original chronostone was destroyed in an unfortunate accident involving a wagon. The alternate chronostone was destroyed in the explosion at Alcamede’s farm. So there was another stone hidden somewhere?”
“No, that’s the thing. Hercules and Iolas knew that the world was better off believing that the stone was destroyed, but it was far too important to actually get rid of it.” Janice continued to answer. “So, when they told people the story they changed it up a little at the end. The stone never was destroyed in the blast. Iolas had it the entire time, and once everything settled down a bit he took off on a mission to entrust it to Xena. He knew she would find a safe place for it.”
“And Gabrielle simply refused to write about it?” Sarah asked, skepticism evident in her tone.
“Well that part is unclear. You see, I suspect that Xena met with Iolas right around the time that Gabrielle visited the temple of Mnemosyne. She made up some mission to tell Gabrielle about so that no one could ever force an answer out of the bard if the stone was found out. And the timing fits perfectly because Xena was gone for approximately the same number of days it would take to reach the Amazons and entrust them with the stone.” She moved to grab one of her books, then readdressed Sarah.
“And look at this,” She said pointing to an old drawing “This is an ancient drawing of the chronostone in a scepter. It’s identical to the stone we now have.”
Sarah studied the book, amazed at the resemblance. How awesome would it be to actually have found the chronos stone? It would be like the crusaders actually finding the Holy Grail.
“This is remarkable, Aunt Janice. I can’t believe it.”
“Neither can I. I mean can you imagine that in this very room we have a device that can transcend the fabric of time?” The older woman said with excitement.
“You mean a device that is fabled to transcend the fabric of time.” She said and then looked toward Janice who seemed less than happy with that assertion. “That is what you mean right?”
“How can you always be so skeptical of the truth in the Xena scrolls? I’ve told you my own account of what happened in the tomb of Ares. Things that are impossible, but yet still happened. Don’t you believe me?” She asked, disapprovingly.
“Calm down Aunt Jan, of course I believe you. There are just certain things that could have happened to have caused all of that. You could have been hallucinating due to bad food or poor ventilation. But you can’t honestly tell me that you think that this rock can take you back in time.” She waited for a reply from the older woman, but only received a stern look of aggravation. “Can you?”
“Sarah, I want you to think back to when you were a child. You were so young and full of wonder at the world that you believed every story told to you. Including the ones about Xena.” She paused as Sarah attempted to humor her request by closing her eyes.
“Just imagine that you had the chance to go back and meet them. To change the fate that befell them in those last few scrolls. You could set things right; save Xena, Gabrielle and Eve. Wouldn’t the mere possibility be enough to make you pour what’s left of your hope into this opportunity?”
Sarah opened her eyes and automatically went on the defensive.
“You make me sound like the most cynical 22 year old alive.”
“You are the most cynical 22 year old alive. I don’t even know why you bother looking for the scrolls if you don’t believe in them.” She said with dismay.
“I bother because it means so much to you and...” She noticed the slip and tried to recover “ ...and to me. Those scrolls have been my life since I was a little girl. Just because I don’t believe in time travel doesn’t mean that I haven’t devoted myself to this mission.”
Janice could see that the girl was hurt by her last comment. She knew that Sarah had lost her wonder at the world after Mel died. Her niece didn’t think she knew it, but Janice found out that on the trip out for the fifth set of scrolls Sarah took a detour and pushed the team extra hard in an attempt to find the fabled ambrosia. Jake had told Janice they searched cave after cave in the Greek countryside and found nothing. Sarah wouldn’t sleep; she would just look for whatever clue the scrolls held that would lead her to the fruit of the gods. Jake finally convinced her to come home, telling her that she was wasting time that Mel did not have, reminding her of how important the scrolls were to the dying woman. He said that he could almost see Sarah’s belief fading from her eyes. A girl that once believed in the magic of the gods no longer believed in anything except the fact that someone she loved more than life was going to die, and there was nothing she could do about it. They came home the next day with the scrolls. And like Janice, Sarah didn’t leave the house until the end.
“I’m sorry baby, c’mere.” Janice said, internally scolding herself for the rash remark she’d made. Sarah begrudgingly moved in for the offered hug and then stepped back with a sigh. She sat down on the desk and grabbed the item of discussion.
“What exactly would you have me do if by some miracle we could use this?” She asked , examining the emerald depths of the stone.
“Well I’m sure that you’ve seen the last few scrolls and the unacceptable events that happened. I’m telling you I don’t think those idiot television writers could have thought up a worse ending.” That got a laugh out of Sarah, so Janice continued, glad that the tension was easing.
“This isn’t the way things should have been. Xena and Gabrielle belonged together. They should have settled down and grown old; learned the joys of bickering and the comfort of stability. Eve should have had the chance to spread the message of Eli. I’m telling you we could have a whole other arc to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic story.” She was interrupted at that juncture.
“Look pitching me the chance to save Eve is not the best way to earn my acceptance. She was annoying, hypocritical, and not to mention self righteous. That was probably the only part of the last scroll that I didn’t cringe at.”
“But Sarah don’t you see. There is so much bloodshed between the different sects of those three religions. What if the teachings of Eli could bind them together? Wars that have been ongoing for thousands of years could be erased.”
“Do you hear what you’re saying? You’re talking about changing huge events throughout history. War is a way of life for some of these people. We don’t know what would happen if that were to change. Things could even be worse.”
“But they could also be better.” Janice proceeded. “Look you don’t even believe in any of these religions, so wouldn’t a world where they didn’t cause so much loss be better? Innocent people wouldn’t die for nothing.”
“Now you’re just catering to my agnostic side.” She said with a half grin.
“Don’t you want to see them? Don’t you want to see the heroes you read about your whole life?”
Sarah smiled. “I have. I saw them every day.”
Janice’s eyes teared up. “Don’t you want to save them? I know the pain Gabrielle went through, but I had so much more time with Mel. Don’t you want to give them that?”
“Look, Aunt Janice, I know it sucks that things ended this way. It really does. But I gotta say that if by some miracle that stone could take people back in time there are a lot of other catastrophic events that I believe merit more of a chance to change than the death of Xena, Gabrielle and Eve.” Sarah said as delicately as she could.
Janice thought for a second then piped back in.
“What about the fact that if this scroll tells the truth then there would have been no one left to carry on the blood line? Mel and I were descended from Xena and Gabrielle; they didn’t leave behind any children, so my very existence could be hanging in the balance. Maybe that’s why you found the stone. You were always supposed to find the stone so that you could save them all and Mel and I could be born.”
“Now you’re really reaching for a reason.” Sarah said skeptically.
“Oh come on Sarah, what could it hurt, really? I’m an old woman who is only asking her most beloved great niece…” Janice said before being interrupted.
“Your only great niece.” Sarah added.
“Ok, I’m asking my only niece to do this one thing that would make me so happy.”
They stared at each other for a few moments before Sarah made a last ditch attempt to thwart Janice’s verbal advances.
“How can you be so sure it will even work?” She asked. Sarah was willing to humor her Aunt by trying out the stone, but she was worried about the aftermath and Janice’s disappointment.
“Because last night while you were asleep I tried it.” Janice said with consternation awaiting Sarah’s response.
The girl honestly didn’t know how to respond. What does she mean she tried it? Has she gone insane? Is it Alzheimer’s? God, what if she’s losing her mind!
“What do you mean you tried it?” Sarah asked.
Janice was quiet for a few seconds as a small smile crossed her face. She then proceeded to pull out Sarah’s digital camera. After pressing a few buttons she handed it to the girl who glanced at the image box then looked up stunned. It was a picture of Mel and Janice when they were much younger. It looked like they were on some kind of dig during the war. Sarah had seen many pictures of the women in these kinds of clothes, but they were all in black and white. To see the image on a digital screen and in color really threw her for a loop.
“How did you…” Sarah asked, breathlessly.
“How did I take it?” Janice finished for her. “I used the stone to go back to the day Mel and I first met.” She moved closer and grabbed the camera again, smiling at the image. “This isn’t the only one either. I took as many as I could without being noticed.”
As Janice scrolled through the photos Sarah saw something change within the picture. Janice didn’t seem to like Mel at first, but after a while she finally seemed to warm up to her. The young girl took the camera and began to move through the pictures herself. This just isn’t possible. She thought. How did she do this? There is no way this is real. I’m dreaming; I must be. As if reading her thoughts Janice spoke up again.
“It’s real, baby girl. I was there. I watched almost the entire day unfold just as it did decades ago. I met Mel in the shootout, I told her about my father, we got stuck in the cave; all of it. Then at the end we decided to stick together and we did right up until the day she died. And after I did all this I had weird memories of an old woman on that dig. It was like deja vu.”
Sarah couldn’t believe she was about to ask this question, because all logic dictated that they shouldn’t even be having this discussion, but she couldn’t help herself. She was starting to believe. “How did you make it work?”
“It’s easy, I read about it in one of the ancient myths. All you have to do is think really hard about when and where you want to be. Then you do a little chant in Greek and somehow :poof: you’re there. It should be easier for you. You’re pronunciation is even better than mine.” She said to her niece with a laugh.
Sarah just sat there with her head in one hand and the camera in the other.
“So, what do you think?” Janice asked, breaking the silence.
Sarah had to get out of the house for a while. She didn’t know what to believe about the chronos stone, let alone whether or not she should change the past just because Janice wanted her to. She called Jake and together they headed to the gym. As they ran side by side on the treadmills she started to describe her dilemma in full detail.
“Bullshit.” He said as he wiped some sweat from his brow.
‘“Believe me Jake, that’s all I could think too, but I’m telling you she had pictures from the past on my digital camera.”
“Oh, man.” he said with awe. “Did you kick her ass for taking your camera without permission?”
As he laughed she punched his arm.
“It’s not funny, Jake. Try to remember who you’re talking to. I’m probably the most skeptical person you know, yet I’m here telling you that I have a freakin’ time machine in my house and my Aunt wants me to use it to change the past.” She looked at his smirking face. “You still don’t believe me do you?”
“Not for a second.” He said. “But you really did sound convincing.”
“Ugghh.” She groaned in frustration. “Ok, let’s just say that hypothetically I had a way to travel back in time and change the fate of Xena and Gabrielle. Is it right to just change what we don’t like about the past?”
“You seriously want to have this conversation?” He asked.
“Jake, just answer the question.” Sarah was getting frustrated.
“Geez, Ok. If you were to go back and change history so that Xena and Gabrielle lived you would somehow have to make sure that they didn’t change any huge events for the rest of their lives. That’s the only ethical thing to do, but it also seems impossible since Xena and Gabrielle were hell bent on changing the world for the better. As for Eve, I really don’t think you have much to worry about there. Her message obviously wasn’t being picked up too well because the only proof we have for the existence of the Elisians is Gabrielle’s scrolls. She’d probably end up dead after a few more months on the road. Your Aunt is just going to have to deal with that one. It’s not like you’re going to go around protecting her while she tries to spread her message.”
“God no, I’d rather commit suicide.” Sarah interjected with a chuckle, and then let Jake continue.
“So basically you’re talking about saving one person who’s not really going to have any impact on the future, and two people who could be persuaded to settle down and forget about that whole ‘saving the world’ thing.” He stopped for a second to take a swig of water, then continued. “If all that were actually possible then I would say, yes, go ahead with your little fantastic voyage if it means so much to Janice.”
They ran in silence for a few minutes as Sarah mulled it all over. Finally she sighed, turned her machine off and headed toward the exit of the gym.
“Thanks, Jake.” She said as she left him.
After a few seconds he called after her. “Wait a sec, were you for real?”
She said nothing more and simply made her exit.
By the time Sarah returned home and showered, it was late afternoon. She saw Janice sitting on the front porch smoking a cigar and decided to bring her a glass of sweet tea. The opening of the screen door alerted the older woman to her presence.
“Sweet tea?” Sarah asked handing over the glass.
“Don’t suppose it’s from Long Island is it?” Janice said jokingly.
Sarah just smirked and grabbed a cigar out of Janice’s pouch before leaning against the balcony and lighting it.
“Smoking one of my stink sticks; what’s the occasion?” Janice asked. It was rare for Sarah to stand still long enough to smoke a whole cigar.
“Well, I figure we’re going to be out here for a while discussing exactly how I’m going to talk Xena and Gabrielle into doing something they won’t want to do.” She said, drawing the smoke into her mouth.
Janice’s face lit up and she rose to stand in front of her niece.
“Does that mean you’re going?” She asked.
Sarah smirked as she spit the loose tobacco from her mouth.
“Either I’m traveling to the past, or waking from a dream.” The older woman hugged her fiercely and Sarah took in a deep breath before speaking again. “If everything gets all screwed up I’m blaming you.”
Janice pulled away and said, “Now where is that self-assured arrogance with which you always take on a mission?”
“It ran screaming out the door right after I decided to infiltrate the space/time continuum and change the fate of the world.”
“Well, you don’t need it anyway. Most girls are turned off by arrogance.” Janice said before drawing from her stogey. “Now let’s plan out the past.”
To be continued…
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