DISCLAIMER: Xena Warrior Princess and its characters are the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Part of the 'Ground Zero' series and Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Ground Zero - Ancient Greece, 10 candlemarks after dusk
By Elfcat255


Torchlight flickered along the sides of the tunnel as the bard, come warrior made her way slowly along the passage moving deeper into the catacombs. She waved the torch back and forth in front of her sending small rodents scurrying for the darker recesses of the open tombs lining the tunnel walls. Taking a deep breath Gabrielle steeled her nerves and forged ahead, muttering softly as she crept along, "Why am I doing this?"

"For the greater good?" a voice whispered close to her ear.

This caused the bard to jump in her tracks and drop the torch. "Hades, Xena! Don't do that!" she hissed in a low voice. Kneeling down she quickly picked up the sputtering light before it extinguished and raised it high revealing the hazy figure of the warrior standing behind her.

Trying not to grin, the warrior turned ghost whispered, "Sorry."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and replied, "You know I'm not fond of dark places. Don't make this any more difficult than it already is."

Xena smiled at the blonde and with a tilt of her head asked, "So…what's the plan?"

The bard controlled the laugh she wanted to let out at the question she normally was the one asking. "I find the monsters plaguing the village, kill them and then get out of this place. Easy as dumplings, "she told the ghost and turned to begin walking along the tunnel.

The warrior disappeared and then reappeared in front of her partner, "Oh, those little red ones? I miss your dumplings," she said.

"Xena, I don't have time for this. Are you going to help me or keep interrupting?" Gabrielle asked in a short tone.

"Fine, I'll help. I'll just pop on up ahead and check to see if the bad guys are waiting to ambush you," Xena replied and before Gabrielle could say anything she disappeared.

This made Gabrielle growl in frustration. "Even alive she wouldn't wait on me, damn woman," she grumbled.

Resuming her trek down the passage the bard was intent on remaining silent as she neared a fork in the tunnel. Stopping for a minute she began pacing back and forth as she tried to decide which way to go when Xena reappeared in front of the left tunnel and the bard walked right through her before she realized it.

"Hey! Watch it!" Xena exclaimed and when Gabrielle shot her a look she added, "It tickles."

"Xena Warrior Wimp," the bard mumbled under her breath and then asked, "Alright, what did you find?"

"I heard that short stuff, there's nothing wrong with my ears," the warrior remarked and then added with a sweet smile, "Do you happen to have any dryad bones?"

"I have a few but why do I need…." Gabrielle began to say and then groaned, "Bacchae."

Xena nodded and gave the bard a little grin. "And they have friends with them. From what I can tell they appear to be undead friends, " she added.

"Undead? You mean ghosts?" Gabrielle asked in confusion.

"No, undead as in crawled out of the tomb, flesh rotting, brain eating undead," Xena informed her.

"How do I kill something that's already dead?" the blonde asked.

"Chop 'em to little bits and set them on fire," Xena said rather nonchalantly.

"You've dealt with things like this before I take it?" asked the bard.

"Oh yeah, they're not that hard to get rid of; they tend to move slowly, makes them easy to chop up," Xena replied making a slashing motion with her hand.

"Okay then, here's the plan. You distract the undead while I take out the bacchae," she told her ghostly partner and began moving down the left fork in the tunnel.

"Once they realize I'm not flesh and blood they'll ignore me, Gabrielle," Xena said following after the bard.

"Well, I guess I'll just have to work fast then," the blonde replied in a hushed tone as she crept along the passage.

Soon the pair reached the end of the tunnel which opened into a large cavern resembling some sort of temple. Gabrielle crouched behind a marble column watching the proceedings taking place not far from her position.

"What are they doing?" she whispered.

"Let me take a closer look," the ghost said and disappeared.

The bard watched as Xena appeared floating high above the group gathered around an altar. The four bacchae were chanting something in low tones while shuffling around them were several of the undead beings. The warrior disappeared and popped back into existence next to her partner. "Looks like they're trying to resurrect Bacchus," she stated.

"Is that even possible? I thought once we killed him he stayed dead?" Gabrielle asked.

"They can because they have a certain medallion Hades used to wear," Xena informed her.

"So, we kill the monsters and smash the medallion to keep Bacchus from coming back to life," the bard remarked.

"Might work, all you can do is try," Xena told her.

Drawing the katana from its sheath on her back and a dryad bone from the pouch at her side the bard crouched low, readying herself to spring forward. "Distract the undead, I'm going for the more lively ones," she told Xena.

"I'll do my best. Be careful, Gabrielle. I don't think you'll be the fun to hang around if your all yellow-eyed and pointy teethed," commented the warrior.

"I don't plan on getting bitten, Xena," quipped the blonde and taking a deep breath the small woman darted forward disrupting the chanting bacchae.

Xena watched as the blonde rushed the stone altar and before the bacchae could react she'd planted the bone into one of them then slashed an arm from another. The other two creatures hissed and took to the air as the undead stopped their shuffling and began moving towards the sword wielding bard.

Whistling softly Xena remarked, "Zeus, she's gotten faster." Seeing one of the undead creatures nearing the bard as she fought with the flying bacchae Xena disappeared and then reappeared between it and Gabrielle. She concentrated harder making her usually hazy form become a bit more solid. "Hey, worm breath! Come get some!" she taunted.

The creature swung a rotting arm at the warrior and as it passed through her form she shivered. "Okay, that was gross," she groaned and backed away from the creature. "Come on ugly, follow me."

Meanwhile Gabrielle had her hands full as she tossed a dryad bone towards one of the forms above her while trying to keep the other two from getting near her. The tossed bone landed in its target and the bacchae screamed, dropping to the ground to flail around then disappear in a cloud of smoke.

Xena managed to get the three undead creatures to follow her towards the altar and keeping it between her and them she kept taunting them. "Gabrielle, you need to hurry up! They aren't going to fall for this much longer!" she yelled to the bard.

Ducking to avoid a swipe of a clawed hand the bard yelled back, "I'm a little busy over here, Xena!" She spun around to stab upwards and caught one of the creatures as it tried to land on her back, impaling it with the katana. Yanking the sword out the bard quickly shoved a dryad bone in its place and the creature wailed then disappeared.

"That was a nice move," the warrior mused as she waved her hands trying to attract the undead to her but they weren't falling for it anymore and began to turn towards the bard.

"Centaur crap!" Xena yelled and floated up above the altar. As she hovered over the stone dais the medallion resting on its surface began to glow with an eerie red light. The warrior glanced down as the light grew in intensity and before she could move away or disappear her form was enveloped in the red rays emanating from the ornate medallion.

The red light's brilliance exploded in the cavern causing both Gabrielle and the bacchae she still fought to throw up hands, shielding their eyes. Recovering quickly the bard took advantage of the distraction and shoved the final dryad bone into the creature's chest and then slashed at one of the undead which seemed to be unfazed by the light, severing an arm.

"Gabrielle! Toss me my chakram!" the bard heard Xena shout.

"What? You can't…" Gabrielle yelled back and Xena returned. "Just do it!"

The bard unclipped the circular weapon and not even looking tossed it in the altar's general direction. She heard Xena's war cry and the next thing she knew the sound of the chakram zinging off the stone walls reverberated around her. The undead she'd been fighting with suddenly stopped moving as its head slid off of its shoulders and the body slumped to the ground.

She whirled around just in time to see the chakram take off the heads of the other two undead and stared in disbelief as Xena caught the weapon in her hand. With a crooked smile the warrior somersaulted from her position on the altar to land before the stunned bard. "Where did you leave the torch? We need to burn these ugly things before they try to get back up," the warrior said.

Gabrielle was too shocked to speak; reaching a shaking hand towards the warrior's body she touched the tall woman on the shoulder. Taking a chance she used both hands and shoved the warrior. "Hey, watch it! I bruise easily," Xena remarked with a slight curl to her lips as a grin began to form.

"You're solid," the bard whispered.

"What did you say? Couldn't quite hear you," Xena asked.

"You…are…solid!" Gabrielle said again emphasizing each word with a shove to the warrior's torso.

"Hmm…I wonder how that happened," Xena mused aloud as she turned to face the altar.

Gabrielle followed the warrior as she moved to stand beside the stone dais. Xena picked up the medallion from its resting place and placed it around her neck. "Handy little trinket to have around don't you think my bard?" she asked unable to keep the smile from her face at the still stunned look on Gabrielle's face.

"Did you know what that thing could do?" the bard asked poking Xena in the ribs.

"Ow, stop poking me and yes, I had my suspicions. I wasn't sure they'd completed enough of the ritual yet though so I didn't want to get your hopes up," Xena replied as she looped an arm over the shorter woman's shoulders.

Gabrielle looked up in to blue eyes sparkling with amusement. "You're alive,"

She said softly as tears welled up in her eyes.

"Hey now, don't cry. This is a happy moment," the warrior said wiping away an escaping tear.

"But…how…why…is it going to last?" the bard stuttered out.

"As long as I wear this little bit of jewelry, I'm here to stay my bard," Xena told her.

With a happy squeal Gabrielle slung her arms around the warrior's body and squeezed with all her might. "By the gods, it feels good to do that again!"

Xena laughed loudly and returned the hug. "Oh I can think of better things that will be nice to do again," the warrior whispered into her partner's ear and then moved her lip to the bard's capturing them in a hard kiss.

After a few moments she broke the kiss and gazed down at the dopey look on Gabrielle's face. The bard took a deep breath and replied, "Oh yeah, much better things."

Xena laughed again and was about to say something else when a hand gripped her foot. She looked down to see one of the headless undead creatures trying to pull its self up using her leg. "Umm, Gabrielle, maybe we should finish off these things and then we can get reacquainted," Xena said shaking her leg to loosen the creatures grip.

Glancing at the still moving bodies the bard sighed. "Okay, finish cleaning up the mess then fool around," she grumbled.

Pulling the bard close Xena told her, "Don't worry, Gabrielle, I'm here to stay."

With a big smile on her face Gabrielle moved away from the warrior to retrieve her torch. They had a mess to clean up and then lots of things to catch up on.

The End

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