By Joseph Anderson

Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended with this fanfic, which may not be sold for profit and must contain notice of copyright.

Warning: Graphic violence.

Note: This is in the latter sixth season somewhere. I was on the gods' side in the Twilight so proceed with caution. When I wrote my original stories dealing with the Twilight of the Gods, while the shows were being aired and soon after (Love Goddess, Twilight, Mothers, Bye Bye Love and Setting Sun) I could see Xena's side. It ticks me off that she's never shown the slightest regret though. The producers and writers of the show oughta have a ton of rocks dropped on them.

It was late afternoon and the inn was busy since it was harvest season. Two women came in covered with road dirt and looking irritable. One was tall with long dark hair and wearing black leather, and the other was a muscular, short haired blonde dressed in red with a bare midriff. They sat at a table which opened up when the occupants saw the big one looking at them. As people noticed the pair it gradually became quiet except for whispering. It probably wasn't really them. Some sophist philosophers didn't believe they had ever existed. The sophists said their names represented abstract forces the same as the gods. Talk like that made most people nervous though. It seemed dangerous to talk about the gods that way and the same went for these two. There were too many stories of what could happen.

"Xena, I hate the way people look at us these days."

The dark woman glanced at her friend and shrugged. "Comes with the territory."

"It doesn't help you scaring people just so we can have a table."

"You're imagining things."

Gabrielle frowned. "Yeah, right. I don't remember anyone looking at Hercules this way."

Xena grunted. "Ancient history."

"Don't you care?"

One man had been staring at them openly. Xena muttered, "Yeah, I do care." She said to the man, "You got something to say to me?" Tension gripped the room. There were nervous coughs.

The man looked like a middle-aged merchant. He said, "Xena of Amphipolis? Called the warrior princess?"


"Don't you fear justice?"

Xena stood up and stalked over to the man. It had been a long day and she wasn't in the mood for this. "You don't know anything about it."

Gabrielle was watching wordlessly. In the old days Xena would have asked what his grievance was and Gabrielle tried to keep anybody from getting hurt. Now Gabrielle just watched her friend's back.

The defiant man said to the warrior looming over him, "I know enough. I know you never paid for your crimes. I know your daughter is a murderer and you protected her. Don't you fear the gods?"

Xena's hands flashed and the man began choking.

The warrior princess said sneeringly, "No, I don't fear the gods! I killed most of 'em or haven't you heard? Now, I just cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You have 30 seconds to live. Promise to keep your big mouth shut? Hmmm?"

Gabrielle didn't like this. "Xena, don't!"

The helpless man was gasping and his eyes were terrified. Xena glanced at her friend and felt a twinge of remorse. This was too much. When she looked back at the choking figure it was Gabrielle. Horrified, she hit the pressure points releasing the paralysis. Now the man was standing where Gabrielle had been.

"You like that, don't you?"

Xena helped Gabrielle up. She looked around the inn. All of the patrons were immobile, frozen in place, not even blinking.

"Who are you?" Xena asked.

"With your many skills, I'm surprised what a failure you are when it counts most. You got your brother Lyceus killed and your son was practically murdered under your nose. Amphipolis lost Athena's protection thanks to you and became a portal of hell. The people took it out on Cyrene. Your mother was burned at the stake because you weren't there to prevent it."

"Who are you?" Xena repeated.

The man added, "Gurkhan beheaded Gabrielle's parents and made her niece into a sex slave. You weren't there to help them either. Quite a hero, Xena."

Gabrielle squeezed Xena's hand.

The merchant bent forward and looked in Xena's eyes. "Ares wanted to help. You can't even tell the truth when it's in your own best interest; a compulsive liar. So you lost 25 years. I just told you what happened as a result. Oh, and your daughter turned into a murdering butcher without your loving guidance."

"Shut up," Xena growled.

"When did you lose yourself? Britannia? Ares warned you about Dahak but you wouldn't believe him. Everything that happened later: Hope, Callisto, Solan....because you didn't act when there was still time. That was the start. You're always sure your're right even when you're wrong. It'd be pathetic if it weren't so tragic. But the way you protected Eve was in a class all its own. How many innocents did you sacrifice to save her? How many god fearing soldiers did you butcher? And you're the hero the land cried out for?"

Xena's blue eyes had a cold glint. "How is it any of your business?"

"I loved my family too."

Xena clenched her jaw and didn't reply. Gabrielle said in a low voice, "Apollo."

There was a flash of light and instead of the middle-aged merchant the sun god stood before them in shimmering white with long blonde hair

"What makes you think you'll do any better than the rest?" Xena spoke with an arrogant sneer that she didn't really feel.

Apollo smiled. "Can you kill gods now? There's a bigger difference though."

"What's that?"

"They didn't hate you. I do. Athena tried time and again to spare you. We aren't like you, Xena. We create, we foster accomplishments, we reward our worshipers or punish them when they stray. What chance did they stand against a monster that lives to kill? A creature made of lies and betrayal?"

"I'm not a monster."

"You're fouler than Python. Your hypocrisy is like a hydra's head. Is there anything you won't do?"

Xena said quietly, "It was all forced on me. I did what I had to."

"Then you understand how I feel."

Xena tried to leap into action but couldn't move. She looked down and her feet seemed to be made of wood and part of the floor. Xena looked back up. "Not very sporting, Phoebus."

"You've confused me with my sister Artemis. You remember her. You came to our home and killed her. I'm not very sporting."

Gabrielle spoke. "Please, Lord Apollo...." There was something in her voice.

"Gabrielle, don't!" Xena said intensely.

The god looked ironically at Gabrielle as she sprang at him with the sais. She froze in midair. "Uh oh," she said.

"Apollo..." Xena said.

"Look what you've done, Xena. She doesn't fear the gods. After all, look how Ares treated you." He reached his right hand inside Gabrielle's chest like he was reaching into a pool of water. Xena saw his forearm muscles flex as he made a fist and plucked her out of the air. Gabrielle began to scream.

"Stop it! Punish me!' Xena cried.

"That's what I'm doing."

The beautiful young-appearing god smiled dreamily and Gabrielle burst into flames. Xena vainly tried to move but was trapped and could only watch helplessly as her friend thrashed and burned. Finally Apollo blew on her like he was blowing out a candle and dropped the charred mutilated body to the floor. Xena sank to her knees, able to move now.


"She's not dead," Apollo said.

"What? Look at her!" Xena was almost hysterical.

The burned thing began to whimper and cry. Xena stared at her in horror.

"Hello Xena."

The warrior looked up at the floating figure holding a candle. "Celeste!" She stared at the goddess of death and then down at Gabrielle. "What....what are you doing?"

"Don't worry, Xena. She won't die. She'll never die."

Xena licked her lips. "Not like this though."

"Exactly like this."

Xena said softly, "I'm sorry for what I did to you."

"Why is that hard for me to believe, Xena? The timing perhaps?"

"Celeste, you aren't cruel. This isn't you. Have pity on Gabrielle."

The floating deity said in a cold voice. "That's what you did before, Xena. Abducted me, threatened me, and then appealed to my pity and made me cry at the thought of losing my brother Hades. You did all that just to get my tears for your scheme. Then you killed my brother. Gabrielle helped you in all of that. Xena, I have no more tears and no more pity where you two are concerned."

The warrior princess said, "I was just protecting my daughter. That's all I was doing."

Apollo said, "Don't be stupid. You never gave a thought to what killing the gods would do to anyone else. So much for the greater good. You were Eli's willing dupe to destroy his rivals. Why do you think he gave you Eve?"

"You aren't merciless, Apollo. Neither of you are. Heal Gabrielle and I swear I'll find a way to bring the others back."

Apollo laughed and said, "You swear! Like your promises to Ares, Lucifer, and your dear Mark Antony." A bag appeared in his hand. "Here." He tossed it to land with a thud beside Gabrielle's burned body.

Xena looked at it and her breathing became shallow. She was pale as she knelt and picked it up. "What is it?"

Apollo didn't answer. He and Celeste were expressionless.

With trembling hands Xena opened the bag.

" hurts...make it stop..."

Xena looked up at the gods.

Celeste said, "I know how important your child is to you. Now you have them both."

"Please, Celeste...Apollo..."

The sun god said, "When you die you'll join your victim Lucifer in Hell. Eve and Gabrielle will continue like this. Perhaps you can find a nice monastery for them. Shame if they end up as attractions in a circus, though with thousands of years everything that can happen likely will happen."

"Eli won't allow this."

Apollo looked around exaggeratedly. "You served your purpose by slaughtering the Olympians. Now you and Eve are an embarrassment. His angel Michael already tried to kill your darling girl."

"Ares can heal them again." Xena spoke desperately. The burned husk and severed head were listening and moaned.

Celeste looked at Apollo and smiled. Apollo said, "Ares only saved them before in order to save you. He won't disobey the king of the gods."

Xena said, "You?"

"Moi. The powers of Zeus and the others had to go somewhere. Any god that helps you will get this same treatment. Not that that would stop you, Xena. You'd trick Aphrodite into an eternity of torment. I'll take that power from her while you live. I've lost enough sisters." Apollo stepped close bringing his face near to Xena's. "Eve and Gabrielle brought this on themselves...with your help. This is my punishment. Lucifer can have you later." He moved away like he found her repulsive.


"Tell it to my brother Hades."

The warrior took the head from the bag and cradled it gently. She smoothed her daughter's hair and wiped away tears from Eve's eyes. Then she wiped her own eyes. Xena looked up at the deities. "What if I can restore Zeus and the rest?"

The sun god said, "There's no way."

"But if I can?"

Apollo studied her coldly. He looked at his aunt, the goddess of death, and then back at Xena. "We'll allow Eve and Gabrielle to die."

"Heal them."

"This isn't a negotiation." Apollo spoke with cold hatred as he pointed and lightning leapt from his fingertip. It burned a hole in Xena one of Aphrodite's doves could fly through. The severed head squeaked in fear but Xena somehow kept from dropping it as she fell. The god looked down at her writhing in agony. "You'll recover. Consider it a taste of what Lucifer has in store for you." Apollo and Celeste disappeared. The other patrons in the inn were unfrozen. They stared at the horrible scene a moment before fleeing in terror.

Alone now, Xena was lying weakly beside Gabrielle on the rough plank floor sticky with blood. Acrid smoke and the smell of burned meat and leather enveloped them. After a few attempts Xena placed Eve's head on her chest just above the gaping hole. Her daughter's slitted eyes gazed despairingly at her. Xena looked from the head over to Gabrielle's charred twitching face. "I got 'em right where I want 'em."