Xena made her way carefully through the underbrush. It was getting dark and Gabrielle had gone off for some firewood. Then there had been a horrible cracking sound. Xena had called out for her friend several times and received no response. Now with sword drawn she was silently stalking through the lush forest in case there was trouble.
The trouble came in the form of a very unusually dressed woman. Xena had snuck up from behind, but the second Xena stepped into the clearing the stranger whirled around, showing that she was highly on her guard. In her hand was a small black object that she held like a weapon. It wasn’t anything Xena had ever seen before, so she felt no reason to fear it.
“Who are you?” Xena demanded. “Where’s Gabrielle?”
“Paswa teka naristy moi!”
“Naristy moi!” The woman backed up without taking her terrified aqua eyes off the warrior.
“Calm down.” Xena suddenly doubted that this woman had anything to do with Gabrielle being missing. “I’m not going to hurt you, I just want to know who you are.”
“Macra ya mirar descai racra!”
“I don’t understand you.”
The alien reached into her pocket and pulled out a small square of leather. She opened the object and held it up for Xena’s inspection. Xena furrowed her brow in contemplation of this little oddity. She had no sword, nor quiver. Her clothes consisted of lose fitting pants and some sort of long sleeve vest with a delicate undershirt. The object she was holding up had an amazingly perfect painting of the woman inside along with some unintelligible symbols.
“Eye da Senka Atonty Dana Scully.”
“Look, that doesn’t help. Get it through your skull -I don’t understand you.”
Xena made a noise of frustration. She sheathed her sword and stepped a bit closer. The woman visibly tensed. Xena tried to look as unthreatening as she could, which wasn’t easy. She placed her hand on her chest. “Xena, my name is Xena.” Xena pointed at her new companion. “You are?”
After a moment of deliberation the woman answered. “Senka Atonty Dana Scully.”
“Okay, umm, that’s a little long. Do you have a shorter name?” Xena put her thumb and forefinger close together. “Shorter?”
“Scully.” Xena repeated. “Okay, that’s better. Now we’re getting somewhere. I think.”
The woman, Scully apparently, lowered the metal piece she’d been brandishing and placed the leather wallet back in her pocket. She looked around the darkening forest with wide eyes. Xena had never seen anyone look so lost or out of place. Xena felt she should try and comfort the female somehow, but that was really more Gabrielle’s line of work. The woman finally broke down, she sat down on the ground like a child separated from its mother.
Mulder searched about the labyrinth of an office building. Actually ‘ex-office’ building, it had been abandoned several years earlier and was on the edge of being condemned. They had followed a suspect here, and now there was no sign of him or Scully. They were on the third floor and Mulder feared that the horrendous cracking sound that had just ripped through the building was the sound of Scully taking a short cut to the floor below. Mulder kept his weapon out in case of trouble beyond a simple structural failure.
The trouble came in the form of an unusually dressed woman. She was looking out one of the dirty yellow windows. When Mulder stepped into the room she whirled around. She clutched some sort of staff tightly in her hands. The stranger held the stick like a weapon. Her eyes were wide with fright as she sized Mulder up.
“Who are you?” Mulder asked. “Where’s Scully?”
“Zega tereif mago vis yo!”
“Vis yo!” The small outlander jabbed her staff at the air in a threatening manor.
“Whoa, careful now.” Mulder had to smile at this bizarre show of aggression. “Calm down. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Rasta ignu setara!” She snarled.
“I don’t understand you. Do you speak English?”
“Takahe misgra zapto agroes!”
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’.” Mulder holstered his gun in an attempt to be less threatening. He put a hand on his chest. “Mulder. My name is Mulder.” He pointed at the new comer. “You are?”
The woman relaxed and brought her staff to her side. “Gabrielle. Does meka est Gabrielle.”
“Gabrielle, okay, that’s a start. I think.”
A car outside screeched on its breaks causing Mulder’s new companion to jump half way out of her skin. By the time the two drivers stopped honking and cursing at each other about the near miss accident Gabrielle was shaking and fending off unseen enemies with her staff. Mulder wasn’t sure how to calm the hysterical blonde down so he just made sure he wasn’t in striking distance. The woman finally stopped and slumped down to the dusty floor. She looked at Mulder with tear brimmed eyes and then around at the peeling paint and neglected office furniture.
Xena wasn’t quite sure what to do. Gabrielle still hadn’t shown herself. The new arrival got up off the forest floor and took a moment to brush down her outfit. After this brief ritual she looked around again. Scully finally decided that the best direction to head in was the opposite direction that Xena had come from.
“Hey, wait!” Xena trotted up and grabbed Scully’s arm.
Scully twisted out of Xena’s grip easily and kicked her attacker in the stomach. Xena had to admit that she hadn’t expected to find that this woman was a fighter. However, Xena was not one to back down from any invitation to tussle.
The ensuing battle left both women breathless, but with no clear victor. Circling one another like roosters at a cockfight they struck out at each other and blocked so that neither was causing any real damage. Xena smiled, she didn’t really want to hurt the stranger. This was clearly a cultural misunderstanding. When Scully managed to land a rough backhand Xena decided that she’d had enough fun. Xena lashed out with cobra speed to fell her opponent with her patented pinch.
It worked, it always did. Scully fell to her knees with a gasp. She put her hands to her throat.
“I’ve cut off the blood su...” Xena stopped her usual little speech.
Scully tilted her head to the side and pressed two fingers against her carotid artery. With a flick of her wrist she freed herself from Xena’s trap. Xena stared at the still heavily breathing woman. No one had ever gotten out of her pinch without her help before. Not even Gabrielle knew how. Xena smiled even wider, she had a new found respect for this oddity.
Scully got back up and simultaneously drew her weapon. Xena still didn’t understand the threat. Xena half raised her hands in mock surrender anyway. Scully’s eyes shifted around. It was clear to Xena that the woman had no idea what to do. Xena was contemplating what to do herself when one of her old friends stepped into the clearing.
Scully stared at the new comer with abject horror. Xena reached out just in time to catch the fainting woman. Holding Scully in her arms Xena gave her a shake, but Scully was out cold. Xena looked up at her friend who was just as puzzled.
“Huh, you’d think she’d never seen a centaur before.”
Mulder had crawled all over the abandoned office building looking for his missing partner. The strange woman he had found followed him around like a lost puppy. Eventually he had to give up, Scully simply wasn’t here. Neither was the suspect that they had been after which gave Mulder a bad feeling as to what had happened. Mulder walked back to the car with the blonde right on his heels.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Never mind.” Mulder looked up at the building, he really didn’t want to leave. “What am I thinking?” Mulder muttered to himself and pulled out his cell phone.
Gabrielle took instant interest. She reached for the tiny black phone. Mulder pulled back and turned his back on the nuisance. Gabrielle wasn’t going to be discouraged so easily. She circled around and went for the phone again.
“Look, just give me a second.” The phone rang once and picked up with the automatic message that told him politely that the number he was dialing was not available. “Damn.”
Gabrielle continued to pester, entranced by the device.
“Do you have someone you can call to come get you?” Mulder asked offering her the phone.
Gabrielle took the phone and turned it around in her hands. She pressed one of the buttons and the phone beeped in protest. Gabrielle dropped the noisy phone and with a swift motion crushed it under the butt of her staff.
“Wha... Why did you do that?” Mulder picked up the broken remains of the cell phone. “Do you plan to pay for this?”
“Neary asku ma!”
“All right, Kid, I’d love to help you, but I have problems of...”
Mulder stopped cold, the suspect they had been after had just slipped out the side door. The suspect noticed Mulder and ran down the alley. Mulder forgot the destroyed phone and took off after him. Gabrielle seemed to catch onto the game immediately because she joined the hunt. She quickly out paced Mulder and a few seconds later she caught up with the suspect. With a swing of her staff she felled him like a ox.
Mulder came up just in time to keep the little warrior from beating the man again. He grabbed her staff and pulled her away from her cringing victim.
“Are you insane?!” Mulder asked afraid that that was exactly her problem.
“Mirra iktha, noka voy?” Gabrielle said pointed at the fallen man.
“Well, yes, I was after him.” Mulder answered guessing at her meaning. “But at the same time I’d rather not be brought up on excessive force charges.”
“Haku.” Gabrielle said shrugging her shoulders. She started to walk off.
“No, no, wait.” Mulder stopped her. “I didn’t mean to be ungrateful. Stay. You obviously don’t belong here. Just give me a second and I’ll help you get home.”
Gabrielle gave Mulder a quizzical look. Mulder wasn’t used to people not understanding English. He tried again by simply pointing to where she was standing.
The sun had risen several hours ago, yet Xena’s new companion was still sleeping soundly. She hadn’t stirred since Jager centaur joined them. He hadn’t stayed long, he had just wondered what all the noise was about. Xena turned Scully’s gun over in her hand. It was quite heavy, not like the heft of a sword, but heavy for such a small object. Xena had never seen anything like before. It had to have been made by the Gods, no blacksmith could shape metal like this. Xena held the weapon the way the stranger had and pointed it at a near by tree. Nothing happened.
Turning the gun on herself Xena looked down the barrel. It looked empty to her. She turned it on the inoffensive tree again, this time slipping her finger into the ring that held the trigger. This time the gun went off with a sharp bang. The kick knocked Xena right off the log she’d been sitting on. Xena got up and looked at the splintered tree she’d just shot.
The noise startled Scully awake. She tried to scramble for cover only to find Xena had taken the precaution of tying her wrists and ankles together. She sat up as best she could and glared at Xena like a viper.
“Yasta torin bast mio nasrit yo!” Scully growled.
“Calm down.” Xena knelt down next to Scully, who cringed away like a beaten dog. “I just didn’t want you dashing off.” Xena pulled out a dagger.
“Non, mehara descary, learicka.” Scully said in a pleading tone.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” Xena slipped the dagger under the bindings and freed her captive.
“You’re welcome.” Xena replied guessing at Scully’s meaning. “What we need is a translator. Look, you obviously don’t belong around here, and I’d like to help you. But first I need to find my friend. Okay?”
Scully didn’t respond. She just looked around the forest. Xena got the feeling that the woman didn’t understand more than just the language. Perhaps she’d lost her memory. In a display of trust Xena held out the gun for Scully to take. Scully hesitated for a moment and then took the weapon and holstered it.
“That’s quite a weapon you’ve got there.” Xena turned and split the morning silence with a shrill whistle.
Moments later Argo came trotting up to the makeshift camp. Xena could see that Scully was visibly relived that it was just a normal horse and not some monstrous half breed. Xena unhooked a wine skin and tossed it to her guest.
“You look tense, that stuff will definitely help.”
Scully took a draught of the offered drink. She choked a bit at the high alcohol content, but was grateful for it at the same time. Xena jumped up on Argo and held her hand out to help Scully up. Scully took one last look around her bizarre surroundings.
She shrugged and took Xena’s hand.
“We’ve searched top to bottom, Agent Mulder, there is no sign of your partner. I’m sorry.” A older officer explained to Mulder. “Usually we wait 48 hours to file a missing persons report, but I’ll get the paper work stared on this one right away.”
Mulder growled in frustration as the cop left. The back up that Scully had called for, seemly hours ago, had finally arrived. They had taken the suspect away, after he had sworn on the threat of death that he hadn’t seen, let alone touched, Scully. Mulder had no choice but to let the officers take the man away.
Gabrielle hung close to Mulder. The bright flashing lights of the cop cars reflected off her terrified eyes. If he didn’t know any better Mulder would have sworn that she’d never seen a cop in her life. Maybe she’d just had a bad experience with them before, Lord knows I can understand that. Mulder thought to himself.
“All right, let’s go.” Mulder sighed.
Gabrielle dutifully followed Mulder back over to his car. She stood next to him on the driver’s side while he unlocked the car.
“Don’t think for a second that I’m letting you drive. Go to the other side.”
“Go around, around...never mind.” Mulder walked Gabrielle to the passenger side and opened the door. “This shouldn’t be this complicated. Just get in.”
Gabrielle figured out his meaning and crawled into the car. When Mulder closed the door she started to tap at the glass. At first Mulder though she wanted something, but it quickly became clear that she was investigating the glass itself. She seemed to be living in a little world of her own. Mulder was stuck with the idea that she may be autistic.
Mulder shook his head, why was he doing this? He should have just handed her over to the police and let them figure out what asylum she’d broken out of. He would have done exactly that if is wasn’t for the uncanny coincidence of her arrival and Scully’s departure. Mulder didn’t tend to believe in coincidences, and if there was a connection he wanted to keep the blonde around.
On the drive back to his apartment Mulder noticed how Gabrielle looked at everything like a child would. She gasped as semi-trucks passed, she stared intently at the stop lights, she even continued to tap on the glass like she was trying to convince herself that it was really there. At the apartment complex they had to take the stairs because Mulder could not convince her that the elevator was safe.
“Well, you can stay here for a while. It isn’t the Taj Mah Hall, in fact it’s practically one step away from a street grate, but it’s home just the same.”
“Herita ornes meka bantu hosa.”
“Whatever.” Mulder opened the bedroom door. “It’s late, you can take the bed. I’ll be on the couch if you need anything.”
Gabrielle recognized a bed when she saw one. She propped her staff against the wall and crawled between the sheets. Mulder thought is was amazing how trusting this woman was. It had taken months for himself and Scully to trust one another, and they had the advantage of speaking the same language. It was like Gabrielle was a physical embodiment of innocents itself.
Mulder shook his head at the thought. He closed the door on the already sleeping orphan. Sitting down on the couch Mulder leaned back and shut his eyes. There was no way he could sleep, but he did need to clear his head. He couldn’t even begin to fathom what had become of his partner.
Half an hour later Gabrielle came out of the bedroom. Mulder looked up and saw that she had been crying. He figured she’d had a nightmare from the look of things. She came over to Mulder seeking comfort. Needing some comfort himself Mulder allowed her curl up in his arms. He smoothed out her yellow hair while she shook with tears. It took Mulder a moment to figure out why it seemed so natural to console this stranger. He had a feeling that they shared the same problem.
“You miss someone too, don’t you?”
“This calls for a little divine intervention.” Xena quipped as she jumped off Argo. “Aphrodite! Get you lacy ass out here!”
Scully hopped off Argo as well and walked with a bit of an unnatural gate over to Xena. It had been a long time since she’d been on a horse. They had ridden to one of the Goddess of Love’s more extravagant Temples.
“Aphrodite!” Xena called again. Still the pink Goddess remained hidden. “Looks like we’ll have to go in. Ugh, I hate these Temples, too full of perfume. Hold your breath.”
“Never mind. Just follow me.”
Xena started up the short flight of steps to the entrance. Scully had decided that the best thing she could do now was follow the dark haired warrior. Xena pushed open the golden gilt doors and stepped inside. ‘Tacky’ hardly began to describe the scene they walked in on. Grotesque statues of lovers in various embarrassing poses lined the white marble walls. Xena suddenly feared that her foreign guest was going to get the wrong idea. However Scully just walked through the hall, simply another oddity in an odd world.
“Don’t make me start breaking stuff, Aphrodite.” Xena warned. When the Goddess still didn’t show she knocked a blue china vase off its stand.
“Ah, there you are.”
“Yes, I’m here, you didn’t have to be rude.” The offended Goddess sneered. “Now what do you...” Aphrodite caught sight of Scully and let out a high pitched scream.
“What is the matter with you?”
“Out, out, out! I can’t believe you brought her here! Do you want me to lose my Goddess status.” Aphrodite shifted so that Scully could see her as well. Scully jumped at the sudden appearance. “Come on Sister, I know you can’t go home, but you can’t stay here!”
“Neaki sa mori?” Scully asked in an alarmed tone as the frilly Goddess herded her towards the door.
“Whoa now, Aphrodite, what is your problem?”
“She’s my problem, and so are you. Now both of you -out!”
Xena stepped between the Goddess and Scully. “We’re not going anywhere until you tell me what is going on.”
“Oh all right, but then you have to leave.”
“As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now your little friend here doesn’t exactly fit in. I mean just look at her, no fashion sense whatsoever, at least not for our time.”
“Don’t you get it?”
“She’s a Time Traveler, and as you know Time Travel is strictly prohibited!”
“That doesn’t make any sense. She’s obviously unhappy here, if she can Time Travel, why doesn’t she just go home.”
“I never said she had the ability, I just said that it happened. After all Gabrielle...”
“You know where Gabrielle is?” Xena interrupted. “Where is she?”
Aphrodite made a noise of utter frustration. “Haven’t you been listening? It was a swap.”
“Yeah, you know, this for that.”
“You mean Gabrielle is in Scully’s time?”
“How could this have happened?”
“Well, for a swap it works best if they’re blood relatives, and then you ha...”
“Wait a minute, ‘blood relatives’?”
“Oh come on, Xena. You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t have just killed this little invader if she hadn’t reminded you of someone.”
“I’m not that person anymore,” Xena growled defensively “I don’t just kill anymore, not without reason.”
“Whatever. All I know is...” Aphrodite trailed off. “What is she doing?”
“What?” Xena turned around.
Scully had back away from the bickering pair. She held her gun out with an unsteady aim. Keeping her eyes on the Goddess Scully used her free hand to search for the door handle. Opening the door just enough to get through Scully ducked out of the gaudy Temple.
“Well, that solves that problem.” Aphrodite said simply and disappeared.
“You’re not getting rid of us that easily.”
Xena was about to try and bring the Goddess back when three loud cracking sounds rang out from outside. Xena hadn’t thought that Scully would manage to get into trouble so quickly. Running to the Temple door she found herself seriously in error.
There had been five men, now only two of the warriors were standing. Two of the fallen were clutching their shoulder’s in obvious agony and the other probably wasn’t in any pain at all considering that most of the back of his head was missing or scattered around at any rate. Xena took the carnage in with a quick glance and then turned her focus on the foes who were still standing.
One of the grizzly men had managed to attack Scully from behind and was having a time just keeping the struggling woman’s arms pined. The other assailant was just recovering from a swift kick to a very sensitive region. Protecting himself from the same mistake the second man picked up a wine skin in one hand and pulled out a sharp sickled dagger in the other. However before he could get the blade against his victim’s throat he found one against his own. The quartet froze for a moment.
“Let her go.” Xena barked.
The warrior complied and released his captive. The second she was free Scully jabbed him in the stomach with her elbow. Scully used the distraction to hook her foot behind the larger man’s ankle and with a quick pull she brought him down hard on his back. Scully stepped on his throat with her heel to keep him down and still.
“Nara esta me hoytus!” She yelled at him.
“Sounds like she means that.” Xena chuckled. “I wouldn’t move if I were you.” Xena turned her attention to the man she held at sword point. “On your knees, scum.”
“Xena, please! We, we didn’t mean any harm!”
“’Didn’t mean any harm’?” Xena repeated incredulously. “You were about to slit my friend’s throat.”
“We were going to give her back!” The man babbled as Xena pressed the blade a little harder into his neck. “Honest!”
“She wouldn’t do me much good dead.”
“No, not her, Gabrielle.”
“You took Gabrielle?”
“Yes, well no, I mean sort of.”
“You better start talking sense or I’ll be forced to kill you.” Xena looked up to see how Scully was doing. She was keeping her man down like a trained Bulldog with her strange weapon aimed at his forehead. “Well?”
“We did the swap, it was supposed to be done before you noticed...”
“What was supposed to be done.”
The cringing man hesitated to talk of their plans further. Xena took her sword off his throat and nestled the sharp tip in a suggestive place.
“All right, wait, we just wanted her blood, then we would have switched them back, I swear! You weren’t supposed to know about it, we did something wrong and got the placement wrong. You found her before us.”
“What could you goons have possibly wanted with her blood?”
This time when the man refused to answer Xena decided that her pinch move would be the right motivation. And she was confident that he couldn’t get out of it the way Scully had. The tactic worked without even having to give her speech.
“To see the future!” The man gasped.
“If you mix the blood of a Time Traveler with water you can see a window into the future, and if you drink enough of it you’ll become a Seer! That’s all I know, please!”
Xena considered what he’d said for a moment, it explained the wineskin at least. Even Xena cringed at the thought.
“We thought the blood of a warrior’s decedent would be better for our needs!” He choked. “Gabrielle’s line traced the farthest into the future. Please let me go!”
“Not yet. How did you trace her line?”
“We have a Necromancer, the whole thing was his idea from the start, he’s the only one who truly understands how it works.”
“Who is your Necromancer?”
Unable to talk anymore the suffering man pointed.
“The one with the glassy stare?”
He nodded and passed out. Xena released the pinch on the unconscious man. She looked up at Scully. Scully returned the look with a questioning one of her own. Xena smiled sadly.
“Looks like you’ve murdered your only ticket home.”
Mulder woke with a start. It took him a moment to realized that the slender feminine body trying to share the couch with him was not Scully. However the affectionate way she snuggled up against him and the mossy forest smell quickly gave her identity away. Mulder woke his new companion gently. Gabrielle looked around her confusing surroundings and sighed. She sat up and spied a piece of scrap paper on the table. She picked up the brilliant white sheet and turned it over in her hands.
“Haka mirra narosti.” She said admiringly.
“You like that? It’s just a piece of Xerox paper.”
“Zerrox papur?” Gabrielle tried to repeat.
“Close enough.” Mulder got up and walked over to the desk. “You want a pen to go along that?”
“Dakar.” Gabrielle thanked taking the pen. She turned the pen around and finally held it right side down. She put it to the paper and tried to write. When nothing happened she inspected the object again.
“You have to press the end, to get the... Here.” Mulder took the pen back and clicked the end, exposing the tip. “There you go.”
“Dakar.” Gabrielle took the pen to the paper again and started to write furiously.
“That should keep you busy for a while.”
Mulder went over to the phone and called Scully’s apartment. He didn’t expect her to answer and she didn’t surprise him. Holding down the reset button Mulder hesitated over the next number. It was a logical call, but a difficult one to make.
“D.C City Morgue.” A tired male voice answered.
“This is Special Agent Fox Mulder, I need to know if you’ve received any unidentified females in the last twenty four hours.”
“I wasn’t here last night. If you’ll hold I’ll go check the record.”
“Please do.” Mulder held on the line with his pounding heart in his throat. After listening to the phone play what seemed like half of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits, which really didn’t take that long, the morgue attendant came back on the line.
“We had one unclaimed female last night.”
“Yeah, probably one of those Goth chicks, it looks like a suicide. They’re always depressed over something or other. We see a lot of them. I take it that’s not what you’re looking for.”
“No. That’s okay, I’d rather not have you find what I’m looking for.”
Mulder thanked the attendant and left his phone number and a brief description in case anything changed. Mulder hung up the phone with a shaky hand. It was a relief not finding Scully there, but it was stressful just thinking about it. Gabrielle in the meantime had already finished one side of the paper and was working on the other. Mulder came over and looked down on the little blonde. She was obviously having a good time. She bopped her head and sang quietly to herself.
“It’s nice to see someone’s day is going well. What are you working on?”
Gabrielle noticed that Mulder had taken an interests in her writing. She handed him the paper and smiled proudly. Mulder looked at the flowing script. It looked like it had been written in some form of verse. The characters were oddly familiar, like something off a fraternity house.
“Is this Greek?”
“Never mind. We need to go visit some people.”
“Who’s the new babe?” Frohike said, followed by a low whistle.
“That’s something I hope you guys can help me figure out.”
“Where’s Agent Scully?”
“That’s something else I hope you can help me figure out.”
“She’s missing?” Buyers piped in with concern.
“For about twenty four hours.”
“It really doesn’t look that way. We were on a routine bust and she just vanished, we even got the guy we were after.”
“Well, when I lost Scully, I found her.” Mulder jerked his towards Gabrielle who was looking uncertainly around the cluttered room.
Frohike took Gabrielle’s hand and gave it a gentlemanly kiss. “Anything you need, my dear, just ask.”
“Resti needa muhar tomja?”
“Ummm.” Frohike replied intelligently.
“Did I forget to mention that she doesn’t speak a word of English?” Mulder asked rhetorically.
“That doesn’t sound like any language I’ve ever heard.” Langley observed.
“I brought along something she wrote, I thought maybe you could help me translate it.” Mulder held out the paper to Buyers.
“This looks Greek, ancient Greek.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Well, I’m sure there is an Internet site that can help.” Langley said while diving onto the Internet.
The others waited while he typed a verse into the on-line translator. Since the characters were not standard on computers they had to be painstakingly chosen from a list. Gabrielle stared at the screen with a look of pure wonder. A few times she tapped on the computer screen. Her child like acceptance of everything continued to baffle Mulder.
“Okay, here we go.” Langley tapped a few more keys. “The translation isn’t complete because we don’t know the whole language.”
“That’s right,” Buyers said “Until now, I would have said it was a dead language. But your friend here seems to be fluent in it.”
“How could anyone become fluent in ancient Greek?” Frohike asked.
“What does it say?”
“From what came up it is about an out of place warrior and her new native friend.”
“’Native friend’?” Mulder looked closer at the screen. “Can you translate the other way? From English to Greek?”
“Sure thing. What to you want to ask?”
“I want to ask her where home is.”
“Okay, but I can’t promise that the translation will be perfect.” Langley typed in Mulder’s question. “There you go. But I don’t know how to pronounce the symbols, I don’t think anyone can actually read it out loud.”
“Gabrielle can.” Mulder said simply. “Just let her read it.”
Mulder pointed out the line that he wanted Gabrielle to read. Her eyes lit up at once at the ancient symbols. She chattered off a long winded response mixed with plenty of meaningless hand gestures.
“That didn’t really help.” Buyers pointed out.
“Here, try this.” Mulder hunted out a scrape of paper and a pen.
“Dakar.” Gabrielle said taking the paper. She wrote out one sentence.
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Langley said after he’d typed it in.
“What does it say?”
“’I have to get back to my time.’”
“That doesn't make any sense.” Frohike repeated Langley’s protest.
“I told you that the translation isn’t perfect.”
“Still, what does...”
“No, wait,” Mulder interrupted “it could make sense. Frohike, you asked how someone could be fluent in a dead language, what if it wasn’t dead to them?”
“I’m not following you, Mulder.”
“What if she was raised to speak ancient Greek.”
“In that case she would have had to have been born in ancient Greece.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Xena.” Aphrodite huffed. “I can’t translate a language that hasn’t even been invented yet.”
“Well, then what am I supposed to do? I can’t get any information from her if I can’t talk to her.”
“I’ll tell you what you should have done. You should have these thugs kill her, she’s nothing but trouble.”
“I thought you were supposed to be the Goddess of Love.”
“No one’s perfect. Not even the Gods.”
“Especially not the Gods.” Xena snapped.
“Look, you’ve brought me into this too far already. Just look at this mess outside my Temple! I’m sorry, Xena, you two are on your own.”
Aphrodite vanished in a shimmer of iridescence. Scully didn’t even blink, it was all becoming so common place. Xena had tied up attackers, except for the dead Necromancer who wasn’t going anywhere anyway. She left a note for the devote followers of the Goddess of Love, who would come around eventually and take care of them.
“I’m glad to see that you don’t hesitate to kill when you need to. You’re going to need that skill if you’re going to survive around here. I just wish you’d chosen someone else to practice that skill on.”
Scully didn’t respond, .
“It would also be nice if we could understand one another. I’d like some reassurance that there’s someone in your time to take care of Gabrielle. She’s not like you, she’s too innocent to truly defend herself.”
Scully shook her head. She couldn’t understand a word of it.
“All right,” Xena sighed “let’s get out of here.”
Xena had led Scully to a campsite near a clean lake to bed down for the night. Xena started a small fire and left Scully by it while she hunted down dinner. Half an hour later she came back with a fresh kill. Scully recoiled in horror as Xena flung the dead fox down next to the fire.
“I know they’re not the best for eating, but it was all I could find on such short notice. It’s better than going hungry.”
Scully slowly reached out and stroked the soft russet fur of the dead animal. Xena thought it odd that someone who had just killed a man should be so disturbed over a dead animal. However, Scully was visibly up set over the mangy fox. When Scully pulled her hand away she stared at the bright blood that had rubbed off on her.
When Scully got up and head down towards the near by lake shore Xena figured she’d gone to simply wash the blood off. When she didn’t come back in a few minutes Xena became alarmed. It was like having a child around that needed constant watching. The bright full moon lit Xena’s way down to the shore. She found Scully standing on the small beach looking out over the silver water.
Almost too late Xena noticed that Scully had her strange weapon in her hand and was raising it to her own temple. Too far away to do anything herself Xena sent her chakrum flying. Scully cried out sharply as the metal disc knocked the gun out of her hand with a flash of sparks. Scully spun around and glared accusingly at Xena. While saving her life the chakrum had sliced a small cut above her eye.
“Rika harro besk vulron neska!” Scully spat angrily.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you, I just didn’t want you to kill yourself. I might never get Gabrielle back if I lose you. You have to at least give me a chance to get you home.”
Scully reached up and wiped the blood out of her eye. She turned back to the lake to wash off the sticky liquid. When her soiled hand touched the cool water the lake sprang to life. Scully scrambled away from the water’s surface which had turned into a vast battle scene. It was like a horizontal drive-in movie. Xena walked up to the image as if sleepwalking.
Men in loose dull coloured cloths holding weapons like Scully’s only larger with knives attached to them dashed around in a muddied field. There was no actual sound but Xena’s imagination could hear the screams of the men as they became riddled with holes or had a bayonet plunged into their soft stomachs. One man close to the shore held a limp arm in his one remaining hand. The youth looked at the limb with a dumb struck expression. Then he turned and seemingly stared directly into Xena’s watching eyes. Slowly the carnage faded away, leaving nothing more than a peaceful lake shimmering in the moon light. Xena stood aghast at the glimpse of the world she’d been shown.
A future world, a world being torn apart by World War I.
“I’ve seen battles before, but...” Xena took a long pull at the wineskin and handed it back to Scully. They were sitting around the fire trying to forget what they’d seen. “I hope that wasn’t your time. Gabrielle’s heart would break just seeing it. That couldn’t be your time, why would you want to go back to that? The future isn’t much different, men still want to fight.”
Scully ignored Xena’s drunken rambling and drank the fermented honey in deep gulps. After she’d passed the skin back she fell back with a hiccup. Finding herself on her back Scully giggled and tried to sit up again, with little success.
“No more for you.” Xena laughed. “Here.” Xena helped her up.
“Rakank voy.” Scully slurred.
“You’re welcome.” Xena had leant that that phrase meant ‘thank you’.
Scully reached over to her gun, which Xena had dropped near the fire. She picked it up and released the clip. Looking at the empty chambers Scully snickered.
“What’s so funny?”
Scully smiled, she put the clip back in place and aimed the gun at a near by tree. She pulled the trigger a few time. Xena flinched at first, but then she noticed that the gun was just clicking, nothing was blowing up. Scully handed empty cartridge to Xena for her inspection. Xena noted the little empty slots and quickly figured out their purpose. Apparently the weapon had to be loaded with something.
“You mean it was empty?”
“Empti.” Scully confirmed trying out the new language with a smirk of irony.
“Hey, not bad.” Xena laughed. “I might be able to teach you Greek after all.”
Scully reached for the near empty wineskin that Xena was still holding.
“Uh-uh, no more for you. I can smell the fumes on your breath from here. You’re cut off, Little One.” Xena teased as she held the honey liquor out at arms reach.
Scully was not going to be so easily deterred. She ditched the gun and clumsily went for the skin again. Xena wasn’t exactly sober herself so her counter offensive was a few miles shy of graceful. After much laughing and half hearted struggling Xena found herself on her back and pinned. The warm pressure of Scully’s legs distracted Xena from the game at hand. Scully snatched the skin from the flustered Warrior Princess and triumphantly drain it. She tossed the skin aside and looked down at her captive.
“Mulder woridis neri yo!” Scully laughed.
“Yeah, Gabrielle would kill me too.” Xena replied, believing that she understood.
“Neri non esta.”
“You’re right, they’re not here.”
Xena wasn’t sure if what happened next was a result of the alcohol or the..., no, it had to be the alcohol. She couldn’t think of any other reason for a woman she hardly knew, from a time she couldn’t fathom, to act so..., so amours. In any case Xena was not about to complain.
Suddenly the missing Gabrielle was the last thing on Xena’s mind.
“That was perfect!” Aphrodite squealed. “Thank you so much, son. They even seem to understand each other better.”
“Love is the Universal language.” Cupid muttered. “I still say that this was a bad idea.”
“Oh come on! I know for a fact Xena needed a little ‘Love Goddess worshiping’, and that future tramp didn’t seem to mind so much herself. Man! I’m going to need a few more statues in my Temple to honor some of the stuff those two came up with! It is nice to see that I’m still popular in the Future.”
“This is dangerous, mother.”
“You know, I can’t believe a son of mine has grown up to be so uptight! This solves all our problems. If Xena is happy with that little red then she isn’t going to be pestering us Gods about more Time Travel, and we can stay clean.”
“What about Gabrielle?”
“Good point.” Aphrodite thought for a moment. “You’d better zap her too.”
“Duh? In the future.”
“We can’t Time Travel, that would just make matters worse.”
“I would have also thought a son of mine would be brighter.” Aphrodite made a noise of frustration. “Helloooo! We’re Gods. We’re Immortal. The future will come to us, eventually. You can get Gabrielle then.”
“That’s probably thousands of years from now!” Cupid complained. “You expect me to remember.”
“Write it down some place.”
“All right, all right. It’s probably done all ready now that we’ve been talking about it. But you realize what we’ve done, don’t you?”
“Solved all our problems?”
“No. My arrows are not reversible.”
“Don’t you see?”
“Uh, obviously not.”
“If for some reason the Time Swap does reverse itself, these four will be mismatched. Forever separated from their Loves by a rift in Time.”
“Don’t be so paranoid, Cupid. That’s not going to happen. The Necromancer that brought her here is rotting in front of my Temple. Totally gross. So there is going to be no reversing the blood sisters.”
“Did I forget to mention that? Oh well. That doesn’t matter now.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that?! Don’t you see the paradox?”
It was Cupids turn to make a noise of frustration. He fluttered his wings in agitation.
“What’s your problem? Who cares if the little Xena sluts are related?”
“Answer me this: how can this Time Traveler be born if her ancestor isn’t around to give birth to her predecessors? Don’t you see? It is a domino effect. Since she replaced her ancestor she won’t be born, but if she wasn’t born then she wouldn’t be alive to replace Gabrielle, so in that case Gabrielle *will* be around to produce the Time Traveler’s ancestors, so she *will* be able to come back and replace Gabrielle, who then won’t produce ancestors, and so on and so forth!”
“Whoa! Cupid, you’re giving me a headache! Say it in simple terms.”
“If we don’t get the Time Travel back all of Time will be stuck in Paradox! An endless circle.”
“And that’s bad, right?”
Mulder stepped into his apartment and was greeted by the welcoming smell of cooking food. Inside Gabrielle was kneeling in front of the coffee table with the only pot Mulder owned. She stirred at its contents and sipped the hot liquid. She nodded her approval and invited Mulder over. He sat on the couch and laughed as she handed him a spoon. Gabrielle and Scully had been around and missing respectively for a week now. Mulder hated to admit it, but he’d become inexplicable attached to Gabrielle, who he was convinced was a Time Traveler.
“You’re cooking for me now?”
“Svaka trulc neek raca. Pisces.”
“Uh-huh, whatever.” The Lone Gunmen had printed out some common phrases for them to use, but it wasn’t a very practical way to communicate. “I see you kept yourself busy while I was at work.”
“Never mind.” Mulder stirred at the thick opaque soup. “So what’s for dinner?”
“Pisces.” Gabrielle replied and then slurped down a spoonful.
“I can’t believe you learned how to use the stove or even the faucet for that matter, you’re catching on to technology very quickly.” Mulder tried some of the stew. “It’s good. Tastes like fish. Where did you find...”
Mulder froze with another spoonful in mid air. Slowly he turned to look at the aquarium in the corner. The top had been taken off and the water level was half down. All the plants were gone, and there were no fish to speak of. Looking down at his spoon Mulder was horrified to find a few golden scales that had risen to the surface.
Gabrielle continued to munch happily on her creation. Mulder jumped up to rinse his mouth in the sink. Stepping into the kitchen he found that his guest had apparently broken down one of his chairs and used the wood to make a small fire on the floor! Mulder brushed the ashes and charcoal to the side and saw that the campfire had melted the linoleum. He turned his attention to the smoke detector and discovered that it had been bashed in.
“Moika pisces?” Gabrielle offered Mulder some more off the aquarium soup.
“No, that’s okay, I’m not really hungry anymore.” Mulder looked around and sighed. “At least I didn’t have a dog.”
For a week the Gods argued and fought over how to fix the paradox created by the Necromancer. They had even brought him up from Hades to Olympus to help. However they were quickly disappointed. The Necromancer explained that there had been a window caused by an alignment of the stars that allowed the switch to be made.
“When is the next alignment?” Aries demanded of the terrified Necromancer.
“Not for a long, long time.”
“Not until the day in the future that I brought the woman back from, you see that’s how it works, the alignment has to be in both places.”
“When exactly was that?” Artemis asked.
“I don’t really know. I just linked to the alignment, I’m not sure of the actual date.”
“So that rules out one of us physically going there and fixing this.” Aries growled. “You’re dismissed.” With a flash Aries sent the Necromancer back to the underworld. “What are we going to do, Zeus?”
“Well, if there was a paradox we’d be caught in it already. But as I’m sure you can all see Time just keeps marching on.”
“What does that mean?” Aphrodite asked.
“It means, my Daughter, that Time has a way of healing it’s own wounds.”
“So all we can do is wait?”
“It looks that way.”
“When will we know?”
“Not until the Time Traveler’s birth I suspect.”
“That could be thousands of years from now.”
“As Gods we have nothing if not time to spare.”
“But our problem is mortal.” Aries pointed out. “And once she dies there will be no way to fix this even if we do think of something.”
“Then I suggest that we do everything we can to protect her.”
Xena spurred Argo on faster even though his heavy hooves were already pounding against the soft dirt. She was trying to catch up with elusive black tail that kept a playful distance away. Xena had laughed at the Arabian horse at first. It was so thin and delicate, not like a real horse. However the black steed had quickly proven that it could do two things better than any *real* horse in Greece: run and jump.
The Arabian’s rider pulled pack hard on the reins to allow Xena to pull up along side. Finally reaching the lighting animal Xena shook her head in disbelief. Scully had changed greatly in the past three years, and now it would seem that she’d even become a better horsemen than Xena.
It was amazing the amount of luck and skill she had acquired. In all their years of fighting the only scar Scully bore was the one that Xena had given her when they’d first met. The white slash through Scully’s eyebrow stood out in stark contrast to the tan the Greek sun had given her. It almost seemed like the Gods were watching out for her. If they were, Xena was grateful for it. She’d already lost Gabrielle, and she wasn’t about to lose Scully too.
Scully danced her midnight horse away from Argo and down to a near by stream for a drink. Xena watched Scully’s now long crimson hair bounce in its loose curls. The odd cloths she’d arrived in had long since turned to rags. That was fine by Xena, she much preferred the short red and black velvet dress that her partner now wore. Although Xena had never fully understood why Scully had sown a bushy red fox tail to the back of it.
“This looks like as good a place as any to bed down for the night.”
That was another thing Scully had picked up rather quickly: the language.
“That depends on whether or not there are any fish in that stream or not.”
fish is your job, Xena.”
“It’s not that difficult, you should try it. It can even be fun.”
“I’m still waiting for the first Supermarket.”
“I think it is going to be a long wait.”
“Don’t remind me.”
Xena jumped down off Argo and went to help Scully down, despite the fact that she didn’t need the help. Next to the dark horse Xena found Scully conveniently in her arms and used the opportunity to pull her closer. Scully responded by weaving her hands into Xena’s thick black hair. Xena smiled and leaned in to claim her day’s end kiss. However, before she could collect her due a young voiced cried out her name.
“No rest for the heroes, eh?” Scully sighed and pulled away.
Vexed Xena turned to see what was going on. A boy was running across the field at them for all he was worth. Looking slightly to the West Xena saw a tendril of smoke rising from the horizon that she hadn’t noticed before. Sensing trouble she leapt back up on Argo and sped towards the boy to met him half way.
Scully watched the Warrior Princess race off. This new life wasn’t so bad after all. Things were simpler here, and she could finally fight battles that she could win. No more playing cat and mouse with a government that wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire. Not that she didn’t miss and worry about Mulder everyday. She just hoped that he was as happy with Gabrielle as she was with Xena.
A piercing whistle from Xena was the signal that they wouldn’t be bedding down here for the night, at least not just yet. Scully pulled the drinking filly away from the stream and mounted. Despite the days exercise the Arabian leapt at the chance to run again and in seconds they were racing furiously towards the smoke with Xena and Argo along side.
Following Xena’s lead Scully drew out her sword, which she’d learn to handle as well as she’d ever welded a gun. It quickly became apparent that the near by village was under attack by a pack of thieves. It was for stuff like this that Xena and Scully now lived. Scully laughed light heartedly at Xena’s battled cry. Scully spurred the Arabian to leap over the line of brush in their way. The animal gladly complied and flew into the air.
Scully’s graceful flight ended abruptly on the hood of a blue 2004 Ford Taurus.
“Look, Lady, if you don’t start speaking English...”
“Where is she?!”
“Lady, you are insane. This *is* America.”
“Not the country, my horse!”
Mulder could hear the argument from half way across the police station. The call had come an hour after Gabrielle had turned up missing. Some lunatic they picked up claimed to know him. Mulder had known right then what had happened to Gabrielle. He also knew exactly who the 'lunatic' was.
For some reason Mulder was expecting to see Scully just as she had been when he’d last seen her. However the holding cell contained a woman he could hardly recognize. Scully paced around like a lioness at feeding time. Mulder felt that analogy fit perfectly, it was like someone had taken his partner and crossed her with a wild animal.
“Are you sure you want to take custody of her, Agent?” The officer that had lead him down asked. “She’s a bit of a spitfire. Personally I think she could used some time at the local asylum.”
“Scully?” Mulder asked ignoring the guard.
“Mulder!” Scully rushed up to the bars. “By the Gods it’s been a long time.”
“’Gods’?” Mulder questioned the strange turn of phrase.
“Just get me out of here, please.”
After signing reams of papers and using more than a little of his Federal influence Mulder was able to gain custody of his partner. They were wary because the only identification she could provide was a well worn FBI badge that had expired two years ago. In the end Scully found herself in Mulder’s car staring out the window at the city.
“Not much has changed, has it?”
“We have a female president now.”
“Yup.” Mulder stopped at a red light and looked over at the Amazon sitting next to him. “It’s nice to have you back.” He said awkwardly.
“It’s nice to be back.” Scully answered half heartedly.
“You can stay with me until you get a place.”
“Scully, you’ve been gone for three years, everyone thinks you’re dead. That includes your landlord.”
“I put your stuff in storage, just in case. So at least you’ll have something to change in to. Fashion hasn’t quite reached your point yet.”
“Ha ha.” Scully did wish she had a nice pair of pants right about now. Mulder pulled the car into an unfamiliar parking lot. “Where are we?”
The pair got out and climbed up to the second floor. Scully noted that Mulder had certainly chosen a much nicer place to inhabit. The hallway walls had actual paint on them, paint that wasn’t peeling.
“I thought you’d never move away from the rat hole.”
“Well, my place really wasn’t big enough for two...” Mulder opened the door revealing a tastefully decorated apartment, including an animal theme crib “...let alone three.”
“Mulder...” Scully’s voice trailed off as she stepped inside.
“I,” Mulder hesitated. “I loved her, Scully, I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be sorry, it’s just, just...”
“Gabrielle was my ancestor.”
“And now, so are you.”
Samantha was born to Gabrielle a few days after her return. The Gods had been right, Time heals all wounds. The approaching birth had been the predestined catalyst to reversing the switch. Gabrielle held the newborn in her arms and rocked her gently. She smiled sadly at her new baby’s bright green eyes. Eyes that her father would never get to see, despite the fact that they were his. However, although Gabrielle was unaware of it now, those young green eyes could look upon her father.
If she chose to look that far into the future.