The Wormhole Incident

Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle & Argo belong to MCA/Universal. The fine crew of the USS Voyager belong to Paramount/Viacom. Anyhoo, I am merely borrowing the characters and will return them no worse for the wear. Any other characters are the product of my vivid, over-active imagination and I claim copyright to them and their actions. Oh, there might be some interaction between women, then again, there might not. Who knows?

Do not fold, spindle or mutilate. Tags may be removed only by the consumer. Please fasten all safety harnesses.

Enjoy the trip.

Copyright 1998 by J. S. Stephens. All rights reserved.

Xena finished grooming Argo, then put away her combs in the saddle bags. She walked back to the camp, where Gabrielle was doing something with a pot of stew that smelled wonderful, especially since they had not eaten lunch. But, villagers must be saved from evil warlords, and saving people from evil warlords always took precedence over eating lunch, in Xena's scroll. Gabrielle didn't think so, but then again, Gabrielle was always concerned about where her next meal was coming from anyway. Xena smiled to herself, thinking about Gabrielle's bottomless pit she claimed was her stomach.

Gabrielle looked up from the fire, smiling at the warrior who approached her. "Good thing you came when you did, Xena, for I was about to start eating without you." Gabrielle handed Xena a bowl of stew as Xena sat down, then dipped a bowl for herself. "So, what are the odds that we can spend just one day without having to rescue anyone, defend a village, or solve a mystery?"

"Pretty bad, Gabrielle. Hmm, this stew tastes pretty good. Worth waiting for, in my opinion."

Gabrielle tried to frown but failed. Despite their day being interrupted by another mission, the evening promised to be good. They found a protected campsite, Argo was tethered next to a stand of sweet grass, they had plenty of food (for once) and the moon was full, providing plenty of soft light. They had just come back from Amphipolis, where they witnessed the marriage of Diana and Joxer. Cyrene, of course, had sent them away with plenty of food, gods bless her. Yup, life was pretty good right now. Gabrielle sighed contentedly as she ate the last of her bowl of stew and contemplated getting another bowl. What the heck, another bowl wouldn't hurt, she decided. As she dipped more of the stew, she caught Xena's amused look. "What?" she asked defensively. Xena just laughed and leaned over, kissing Gabrielle's check, then stretched out on her bedroll, allowing herself to look at Gabrielle openly. Gabrielle smiled at her, then attacked her second bowl of stew with gusto.

The next morning, the two women attended to necessary hygiene, then ate a quick breakfast of cheese and bread. Xena tried to decide whether they should stay another day or press on. As she mused, Gabrielle came up and slid an arm around Xena's waist and looked up at her. "Deciding what to do?"

Xena nodded. "It's so peaceful here, but I know that there are other people to help." She draped her arm across Gabrielle's shoulders and squeezed gently. "I'm almost inclined to stay here, but--" Xena paused in mid-sentence, looking at the strange site directly in front of them. It was as if her view of the trees had started swirling like a whirlpool, swirling faster and faster. Without thinking, she let go of Gabrielle and started walking toward the strange thing, drawing her sword. Gabrielle said, "hey, where are you going?" and followed her, staff ready for anything. Damn, Xena would investigate anything! Gabrielle thought.

They approached the thing with caution. The swirling suddenly reached out and engulfed them...

...and they stepped into the brightest lit room they had ever seen. The woman standing behind the strange looking table? altar? stared at them for a moment, the whipped out a small object, holding it level with Xena's chest. She slapped a pin on her chest and said, "Captain, we've got intruders, one with a sword pointed at me, and the other with a staff."

A disembodied voice replied, "Beam them directly to the brig and I'll meet you there. Janeway out." Before Xena or Gabrielle could make a move, the whole world dissolved around them and reformed in a smaller room. The first thing Xena noticed was that her weapons were missing, the second thing was that Gabrielle's staff was also missing. A slim, authoritative woman dressed in a black and red tunic stood looking at them. Xena tried to move forward through the doorway only to be stopped by some force. The woman looked at them for a long moment, then said, "My name is Captain Katherine Janeway, commanding the starship Voyager. You are temporarily in the brig until I am sure that you pose no danger to my ship or crew. Now, who might you be?"

Gabrielle stepped forward before Xena could stop her. "My name is Gabrielle of Amphipolis, bard, Amazon princess and former Amazon queen. This is Xena, Warrior Princess of Amphipolis. Perhaps you have heard of us."

Janeway looked at them for a long moment, then tugged slightly on her ear as if thinking carefully. "No, I do not recall your names right off, but I will check with the computer later. Now, please tell me what you are doing on my ship and what your intentions are."

Xena nodded slightly and Gabrielle spoke. "We were enjoying a nice sunrise and saw a strange swirling sight in the forest. We walked forward, then wound up here. By the way, where is here?"

Janeway looked at them for a long time before answering. "Here, ladies, is in the Delta Quadrant. By your costumes I'd say that you are either from an unexplored planet around here or," she paused, trying to decide how to explain, then simply said, "from somewhere in the past."

Xena frowned, trying to make sense of it all. "Delta Quadrant? I know of Greece, Thrace, Britannia, Israel, Egypt and the land of Chin personally, but I have never heard of a country called the Delta Quadrant." She turned to the bard. "Gabrielle?"

"Nope, never heard of it. How did we travel this far, Captain Janeway? Why are you holding us prisoner?"

Janeway replied, "What would you do if two women appeared, holding weapons at your chief engineer? I dare say you would disarm them as well. I also dare say that you are probably a bit chilled in your outfits, I'll have Kes bring you some warmer clothes. And, if you continue to be cooperative, I'll let you out of the brig, but with the understanding that I'll toss you back in if you do anything to threaten or harm my crew. Is that understood?"

"Perfectly," the women chorused.

"Good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll return to the bridge." Janeway exited.

While they waited for Kes, Xena and Gabrielle explored the room around them, finding comfortable beds, a room that was probably the privy and a bowl with magically flowing water. Xena paced irately as Gabrielle played with the bowl, then stepped into a small room within the room. She yelped as water streamed down on her, soaking her to the skin instantly. Xena went to help but would up laughing helplessly. "Hey, a wet bard is nothing to laugh at!" Gabrielle fumed, making Xena laugh even harder. Finally, Xena stopped laughing long enough to bring Gabrielle a sheet from one of the beds to wrap around her while she laid her clothes out to dry. Then, it was Gabrielle's turn to laugh when Xena got up the nerve to try the privy bowl--she jumped when a strange gurgling happened underneath her. Xena scowled at Gabrielle, who merely laughed harder. Finally, they went back to sit on the beds, wondering what would happen next.

They didn't have to wait long. A small blonde woman with funny ears slipped into the room, holding strange clothing. In a low, musical voice, she announced, "I am Kes. The captain sent me here to bring you clothing and to make you more comfortable." A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she noticed Gabrielle's new clothing. "I see you found the shower. Let me show you how to really use our facilities." She motioned for them to follow her back to the privy. "This is the bathroom. That is the shower, that is the toilet, and that is the sink." She quickly demonstrated the controls and showed them how to work the hot air jets for drying. "I'll let you get cleaned up, then I'll be back. Your clothes are on your beds, ladies. Oh, I will be bringing Lt. Tuvok with me, he is the head of Security. I'll see you later." She left the room.

As soon as personal hygiene was taken care of, Xena and Gabrielle puzzled out the clothing that had been left on their beds. It took them several minutes to figure out the undergarments, but the fasteners really baffled them. Gabrielle finally figured out that you just lined up the edges, then pressed gently. "Much better than buttons and ties!" she exclaimed. Xena had to admit that the clothing was much softer than her leather and that the boots were perfectly fitted and nicely padded. Whoever choose the outfits not only could size them up in a hurry but also knew what colors went well on them. Xena was dressed in a soft black jumpsuit with a sky blue shirt. Gabrielle wore a soft light brown jumpsuit with a green shirt, making her eyes a deep green. As soon as they were dressed, Kes came back with a forbidding looking man, whose skin color and build reminder her of Marcus, but not his face. Or ears.

"Greetings, I am Lt. Tuvok," he said sternly. "I am the chief of security and will decide whether or not you may be allowed to leave the brig."

Xena stepped forward, willing herself to remain calm. "My word as a warrior, we will not attack anyone who does not attack us first."

The man cocked an eyebrow, then answered, "We have run some queries through the computer and have determined that you are, or resemble, the same Xena and Gabrielle of the famous Xena scrolls, discovered in the early 1940's by Dr. Janice Covington and Miss Melinda Pappas. Please tell me how you came to be on this ship."

"Ship?" Gabrielle asked faintly, turning slightly green. Xena motioned to her wrist and nearly smiled as Gabrielle started rapidly hitting her wrist.

Tuvok noted the motion, filing it away for future consideration. Xena replied, "We saw a strange light and went to investigate. The next thing we knew, we were in this strange place and being accused of being common criminals without a trial. Will you, sir, give us the chance to prove our innocence?"

"Well spoken, Xena."

"Thank you, Gabrielle. Your bardic talents are rubbing off on me."

"Ladies, please." Tuvok managed to look exasperated without changing his expression. "Even though our universal translators are doing a good job, I have determined that you are speaking an ancient dialect of Greek."

"Universal translators? Xena, wouldn't that be wonderful? World peace, because the bards could talk to each other, share stories--" Gabrielle hushed quickly as Xena gave her The Look.

Kes finally spoke up. "Tuvok, I sense that we can trust them. But, we must get them back to their own world, and soon, for the rent in the space time continuum will soon come back together." She smiled warmly at the two women. "I will take responsibility for them."

Tuvok looked at the three women gravely, then said, "So be it. I will inform the captain-"

Before he could say anything else, a disembodied voice broke in, urgently. "Mr. Tuvok, to the bridge. We are under attack!"

Tuvok raced to the bridge, unaware that Xena, Gabrielle and Kes followed him. Captain Janeway saw them, but immediately turned to the problem at hand. "Tuvok, we are being hailed by someone who claims he is a god. He is threatening to send us to a place called 'Tartarus' if we do not give up Xena and Gabrielle to him."

"Captain, I do not know of a planet by the name of Tartarus, but there are many uncharted worlds in the Delta Quadrant." Tuvok said in measured tones.

"Um, Captain, did he say what his name was?" asked Gabrielle, shyly.

The captain turned to the young woman and answered, "He said his name was Ares, God of War. Why, does that ring a bell?"

Xena rolled her eyes, but waited for Gabrielle to explain. Gabrielle caught Xena's expression, then went to the front of the room, seeking the best place to address her audience. "Ares, God of War, is the son of Zeus and Hera. He chose Xena as his champion many years ago, but she rejected him when she turned to atone for her past. Since then, Ares has done everything possible to regain Xena as his champion, even offering her the chance to rule with him on earth." Gabrielle took a breath to continue, but Xena shook her head slightly.

The captain listened to the bard, then asked, "If he was a god in Ancient Greece, how can he be here now?"

Xena answered dryly, "Ares would pursue me to the ends of the earth, Captain."

"I see. Mr. Kim, would you please hail this so called god for us?"

Ares appeared on the huge screen at the front of the room. Gabrielle jumped, startled, when she heard his voice and turned to see him larger than life. "Well, if it isn't that irritating blonde. Xena, dear, when will you ever come to your senses and get rid of her?"

Xena walked to the front of the room and stood by Gabrielle, placing a protective hand on her shoulder. "Never, Ares, we are bound by chains stronger than even Hephaestus could forge. Are you responsible for bringing us here?"

Ares threw up his hands in mock surrender. "Ah, Xena, you are too clever for me. Yes, I was trying to entice you by playing on your curiosity, but I misjudged and split time itself. If you will just trust me, I will whisk you and Gabrielle back safely to Greece."

"How can I trust you? You prevailed on the Furies to cause me to go mad and to be persecuted, you tried many times to split us up, you have just not really shown that you can be trusted. You still won't answer whether or not you were the one who visited my mother!"

Ares shrugged. "Ah, Xena, do you really think that you have much choice? I seriously doubt that your new buddies here can take you home, since they are thousands of years away from earth."

"Not really," Janeway interjected dryly, "Just about seventy light years away."

"Thousand, seventy, who cares? The point is, my dear, you need me."

Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other, then Xena finally spoke. "I suppose since you got us into this place, you must be responsible for getting us out. Just don't try any funny tricks."

"Oh, you have my word as a god!" he said gleefully. Ares waved his hand grandly, then Xena and Gabrielle vanished from the room. "Don't worry, my good captain, they are safe back on earth. Look, I even left your clothes you lent them!" Laughing, he vanished from the screen.

"Xena, you would investigate anything!" Gabrielle grumbled as Xena ran toward the light. Before she reached it, though, it disappeared and Gabrielle could have sworn that she heard Ares laughing. Xena came back to camp, putting her sword back down and picking up her clothes. Strange, she could have sworn that she had been wearing them a few minutes ago...but maybe they were off for a reason.

"Want to go for a swim?"

"Sure, why not?" Gabrielle followed Xena to the lake, happily.

Kes sat in the mess hall, talking to the captain. "And then, they just vanished! I would have liked to have talked to them longer, but dreams sometimes don't turn out the way you would like for them to. But the bond between them was incredible, Captain, so strong, like two souls joined forever." She ducked her head down, wondering how to say what she felt. Finally, she looked into Katherine's eyes and said softly, "Like the bond I feel with you sometimes, Katherine. Like our souls are joined, but we don't know how to express it."

"I, too, sensed it, Kes. They reminded me of the ancient earth symbol of ying and yang, each balancing the other, dark and light, words and actions." Katherine fought down the urge to stroke Kes's cheek, to feel how soft it was, to drown in her blue eyes. But, she was the captain, destined to always be alone...