Once upon a time, in a far away place known as Greece, lived the all mighty Zeus. Zeus was the head honcho of all the Olympian Gods. He lived way up high on Mount Olympus but always kept a careful watch on his mortal children living in Greece. Zeus was a fair and just ruler, and with his beautiful and fair-minded wife Hera, they created gorgeous children who all grew up to be beautiful and fair-minded gods. They helped to maintain peace and tranquility throughout the entire country.
One day as Zeus was taking a stroll among the clouds with his wife, his counselor Strife appeared before him. "I'm afraid I have bad news, Your Majesty. The Goddess Callisto had declared war on all of Greece and is now trying to break through our western border."
"Callisto? How did she get out of Tartarus?" Zeus asked in surprise.
"Hades lost a bet while the two were playing poker. Callisto won her freedom. She had since gathered legions of soldiers and they are marching their way toward Greece attempting a full scale attack."
"Alert all the gods, and ask Ares to come see me. I need him to be in charge of this war. We will also need to build up our defense. Send out conscription notices through out the country. We need to bring in as many men as possible. After all, one person can mean the difference between victory and defeat."
In the center of Greece, there was a little village known as Poteidaea. On the outskirts of Poteidaea lived a young girl named Gabrielle. Although beautiful and intelligent, she was considered by most an oddball. While most girls her age were preparing themselves for marriage and learning the art of managing a household or pleasing their in-laws, Gabrielle spends her time on books and horses. She liked to write and to tell stories. She's often seen galloping around on her trusty horse Khan with her long golden blonde hair streaming down her back.
Today is a very important day for Gabrielle. For she is to meet the village's matchmaker, the person who decides her fate. Gabrielle sighed, much as the idea disgusts her, she knew that it was something that she must do for her parents. As a daughter she lacked the means to bring honor to her family other than finding the right husband. Knowing how much family honor means to her father, she had resigned herself to this task. But the whole idea was so unappealing that she dragged going home until the very last minute which of course made her late for her appointment with the matchmaker.
Gabrielle galloped into the courtyard just as her mother was trying to pacify a now extremely annoyed matchmaker. Gabrielle jumped down off her horse to land in front of the matchmaker as her mother watched in horror. The wind had whipped her hair into masses of tangles; dirt marked her clothes and face. The disgusted look on the face of the matchmaker alerted Gabrielle to the trouble ahead.
"Please Miss Minya, this isn't my daughter's normal behavior. She is usually very punctual and clean."
"I have heard all about your daughter, and now I can see for myself how totally unsuitable she is as a daughter-in-law. I'm afraid there is no way I can recommend her to any decent family." Miss Minya, the matchmaker, said after giving Gabrielle a disdainful look.
"But Miss Minya..."
"You should do well to teach your daughter some manners. The way she is now, she will never find a husband nor bring honor to your family. Now when your other daughter Lila is ready, we can talk again." Miss Minya said haughtily and walked out of the courtyard.
Gabrielle hung her head in shame. Once again she had failed her parents.
Gabrielle's father, Herodotus, found his daughter sitting by the well. As he watched her from a distance, he saw her put up a hand to wipe away the tears. He sighed; much as he loves his elder daughter, he isn't blind to her faults. Again the thought that she should have been born a son came to mind. With her intellect, spirit and sense of adventure, she would have been so much happier as a man. As a daughter, there were certain obligations that Gabrielle just wasn't willing to fulfill.
Gabrielle looked up as her father came and took a seat next to her. She turned her head away not wanting to see the disappointment in his eyes. He looked around the yard and finally his gaze rested on her. "You know Gabrielle, there is nothing wrong with being different, sometimes the most beautiful and precious flower of all is the one that stands on its own beliefs."
Gabrielle looked up in surprise at her father; the burden of guilt left her as she realized that her father understood and did not blame her. She smiled at him and threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly.
Gabrielle pulled away from her father when they heard the commotion outside. Herodotus got up and walked outside. Gabrielle's mother, Hercuba, stopped her when she tried to follow her father. She saw her sister Lila motioned her to go and sit with her, but unable to just sit and wait, Gabrielle climbed up the side of the outer wall to see what's going on.
Counselor Strife arrived on a magnificent steed followed by a squadron of soldiers. "Citizens of Poteidaea, Greece has entered into war with the demon Goddess Callisto. By the order of Zeus, each family must send one man to participate in this war."
Gabrielle couldn't hold back any longer as she watched her father limped toward Strife to accept his conscription notice. Without giving herself time to consider the consequences, she quickly jumped down and rushed out to stand before Strife, "my father is not..."
Strife cut her off without listening. He turned his attention to Herodotus, "You would do well to teach your daughter how to behave like a daughter and show some respect for the men around her."
Gabrielle felt like she's been kicked in the stomach as her father looked at her in disappointment. She saw the pitiful looks directed at her father by the other villagers and quietly walked back inside.
That night Gabrielle sat outside in the courtyard after everyone had gone to sleep. It had started to rain. The light rain quickly turned into a downpour as it hit her on the face and plastered her hair to her head. She didn't feel the rain; she didn't feel any physical discomfort. All she could think of was that her father, no longer a young man, lacking in mobility is soon going to war. She knew that he would not survive if he were forced into combat. If only they have a son, he would then be able to take her father's place. All of a sudden a flash of lightning illuminated the night and at the same time jolted Gabrielle out of her trance like state. The answer came to her, pure and simple. She got off the seat and headed back toward the house, determination written all over her face.
She went to the main hall and took down her father's sword and armor. She then went back into her room and gently touched her long blonde hair. Without giving herself time to change her mind, she picked up the sword and whacked off her long hair. With some regret she watched her hair dropped to the ground. She thought of her father and remembered why she was doing this. Her strength returned and she quickly put on her father's armor. She went to check on her sister Lila and gently pulled up the blanket for her as she said a silent goodbye. She then went into her parents' room and quietly took the conscription notice after taking a last look at her parents. She went to the stable and saddled up Khan. With the rain still pounding furiously, She galloped off on her horse ready to face the toughest challenge of her young life.
Gabrielle rode through the night and reached her destination the following day. She stopped on a plateau right before the entrance to the training camp and jumped off Khan. She looked at her horse and sighed, "how am I suppose to make this work, Khan?"
The horse turned and frowned at her, unable to come up with a response.
"Well now, if you had thought this over, you wouldn't be in this mess now, would you?" The voice made Gabrielle jumped as she quickly turned around only to find herself coming face to face with a tiny little lizard.
"Did you... was that really you?"
"Of course it was me. Jeez!"
"Who... who are you?"
"I am your guardian, Xena."
"My what? But you are just a little lizard." Gabrielle bent down and took a good look at the little lizard.
"Dragon! I am a dragon, not a lizard. I am small because I was considered too tall when I was a human, so I thought it would be cool to try out this petite thing. Let me tell you, it's really not all that it cracked up to be." The dragon looked at the slight figure in front of her, "well, I'm sure you knew that already."
"And you are my guardian?" Gabrielle looked at the little dragon in disbelief.
"Haven't you been listening? Yes, I am your guardian sent here by your ancestors to guard over you, to make sure that you go home in one piece since you are so determined to get yourself killed." The dragon Xena said sarcastically.
"Umm, you are well... tiny, just how do you think you are going to guard me?"
"Hey listen, I may be little now, but I was the most fearsome warrior of my time, little girl. So just follow my orders and you will be alright."
Again Gabrielle looked at the camp with apprehension, she turned back to her guardian, "okay, if you are really here to help me, tell me what I need to do."
"That's easy! Just walk in there and act like a man." Seeing Gabrielle's look of bewilderment, Xena continued, "you know, holler, spit on the ground, just go in there and slap the men around."
"Umm, I'm not sure if I can do this."
"Well, is too late to be having second thoughts. Go on, remember, you are doing this for your father."
"Right, for my father." Gabrielle took a deep breath and proceeded to enter the camp reluctantly. Xena is right, she is here to help her father, she just needs to act like a man, that's all, she can do this.
Once inside Gabrielle's courage quickly failed her. There were men everywhere. Xena climbed up to her shoulder, "go on, go talk to those three." She pointed to three men standing in the corner to her right.
Gabrielle looked at Xena, "I hope you know what you talking about."
"Of course I do."
Gabrielle walked over to the three men and in a timid little voice, "umm, hello."
A tall man, Autolycus, turned and gave her a dismissing look, "get lost, little boy." He turned back to his friends Joxer and Salmoneous; "Zeus is so desperate that he's even enlisting a child."
Salmoneous just laughed, "yeah, how does he expect to win a war with these kids?"
"We should always be kind to our fellow human beings." Joxer reprimanded his friends.
Gabrielle turned and prepared to walk away, but her guardian Xena was not ready to give up yet. Using all her strength, she pushed Salmoneous into Autolycus who in turn fell on Joxer and knocking out a few others in the process.
Gabrielle looked on in horror as everyone got up and started to advance on her. She kept backing away until she hit something warm and hard. She quickly turned around and found herself looking up into the most amazing pair of brown eyes she had ever seen.
Ares had just said good bye to his sister Athena who was at that very moment leading an entire army to intercept Callisto. Once again Ares wished that he was the one going instead, but Zeus had insisted that he stay behind to train the new recruits. Ares sighed; the last thing he wanted to do right now was to turn a bunch of amateurs into warriors. He had tried to explain to his father that he is best suitable on the field, but Zeus had been adamant about it. He had told him that they needed an accelerated training program for the new recruits and believing that Ares was the best man for the job, he had demanded that he stay behind.
Ares had just walked out of his tent when he noticed the commotion on the other side. He saw the little blonde boy pushed into one of the men and after that everyone just seemed to start falling. 'Great, we haven't even started training and already we have a trouble-maker among us.' He saw the other advancing on the little boy and decided that it was time to interfere.
He stood a few feet away until the boy backed into him and when he turned around, Ares was startled to see a pair of sparkling green eyes looking up at him. No wonder they were picking on him, this has to be the prettiest boy he had ever seen. Dainty little nose perched on a flawless face with skin to die for, and green eyes that are deep enough to drown in. He was too pretty to be a girl, let alone a boy.
He took a deep breath and pulled himself together. "Just what is going on?"
"He started it." Everyone gathered around as Autolycus pointed to Gabrielle.
"Who are you?" Ares demanded.
"Me? Um- I'm-" Gabrielle was lost, her mind refused to function properly as she tried to get over her shock of actually coming face to face with the God of War.
"I ask you again, who are you?" Ares asked impatiently. "What is your name?"
"My name? I've got a name." Name? It was not something that she was prepared for.
"I know you've got a name. Now tell me what it is!"
"It's Gab-Gabriel. Yes, my name is Gabriel."
"Alright Gabriel, I suppose you must be one of my new recruits. Let me make this crystal clear for you, Ihave no room for trouble makers in my unit."
"I wasn't trying to cause any trouble." Gabrielle winced as she heard Autolycus and the others snickered.
"That's enough!" Ares looked at everyone critically. "Somehow I doubted that one little lad could have caused all this." He gestured to the mess around them. "I want this whole place cleaned up immediately, and I don't want any more trouble from anybody." His gaze rested on Gabrielle, "I don't know if you were the sole cause of this, but trust me when I tell you to watch your step and learn to be a team player, otherwise you wouldn't like the consequences."
The next morning Gabrielle got up at the crack of dawn and joined the others. She thought she knew what to expect and was ready for it, but in reality the training was much more physically demanding than she had envisioned. She tried her best to keep up, but unfortunately Autolycus and Salmoneous sabotaged all her hard work and made her look like a complete fool. They would trip her so that she fell against the wall instead of jumping over it, or they would push her so that her arrows went everywhere but the target.
That night she went to bed sore and bruised both in body and spirit. But more obstacles were waiting, Autolycus and Salmoneous had poured water all over her bedroll, so she ended up having to huddle in the cold and unable to get to sleep. She stayed up all night and felt like a zombie the next morning. Xena had tried to help her to stay awake by singing to her which only served to give Gabrielle a headache. Gabrielle was so tired that she could barely stand.
The midday run was the last straw. With the hot sun beating down on her head, exhaustion finally took its toll as she found herself tripped and fell. Her humiliation was complete when she found Ares standing before her telling her to go home for she was not fit to be in his army.
Gabrielle wanted to cry, to be sent home like a total loser. How could she possibly face her father? How many times is she going to dishonor him? She thought of begging Ares to let her stay, but knew it was useless. Unless she could prove to him that she has what it takes to be a warrior, he would not allow her to stay. Her eyes wandered around the camp and finally came to a stop when they reached the pole standing right outside Ares' tent. Her gaze traveled upward until she saw the arrow sticking out at the top of the pole. The same arrow that Ares had shot the day before and asked every member of his unit to try and retrieve it as part of their training exercise. Despite the disgust shown by Ares, no one was able to climb all the way to the top.
Now Gabrielle looked at the arrow perched about 40 feet high and decided to give it another try. She slipped down time and time again, but she refused to give up and kept reminding herself that her family's honor is at stake. Through sheer iron will and using strength that she didn't even know she had, she finally managed to reach the top.
When Ares stepped out of his tent, an arrow thrown between his feet greeted him. He looked up in surprise to see Gabrielle sitting on top of the pole with the biggest and most satisfying smile on her face. His own face broke into a reluctant grin; this kid is certainly full of surprises.
After that incident, Gabrielle worked harder than she had ever worked before. Her natural athleticism helped her to master all the intricate combat skills that Ares was teaching them. She quickly became one of the best and gained the respect of her fellow comrades including Autolycus and Salmoneous. Even her guardian was proud of her.
The day came when a messenger arrived with the news that Athena had requested their assistance on the battlefield. Callisto and her army had broken through her defense and were on their way toward Athens. They had already destroyed several villages on the way, and Ares' help was desperately needed.
After marching for several days, Ares and his army finally caught up with Callisto. Gabrielle didn't know what to expect, but certainly not this beautiful blonde goddess with her evil grin and bone chilling laughter that echoed throughout the mountains.
Ares looked at the huge number of men in Callisto's army and felt his heart sank. They were so obviously out numbered. Luckily Athena arrived with reinforcements. The battle went on for ages with casualties on both sides.
When Callisto realized that her army was not able to make any real progress, she got tired of the little game and decided a little show of power would achieve her goal much quicker. She shot energy bolts toward the Greeks knocking several of them out and sending the others off looking for cover. Ares quickly stepped forward and returned the attack with one of his own fireballs. It then became a battle between the two gods as beams of light and fire flashed across the valley. Neither was able to gain any advantage as the fighting continues.
Gabrielle stood behind a boulder as she watched the two gods. An idea came to her when she saw where Callisto was standing. Without giving herself time to consider her action, she rushed out just as Ares was about to send off another fireball. She pushed his arm upward just enough so that when the fireball left his hand, it went above Callisto to the stack of rocks sitting on the ledge above her head. Once again Callisto got buried under a pile of rocks.
Ares, knowing that he didn't have any time to waste, quickly blasted a hole through the ground, and Callisto found herself falling and falling until she ended up once again in Tartarus. Her frustrated sound of "AHHHHHHHH!" could be heard all the way up on Mt. Olympus.
Ares turned to Gabrielle and smiled, "that was a smart move. I think you just helped to end this war." He watched as without their fearless leader, Callisto's army quickly disappeared.
Athena stepped over, "that was a brave thing that you did, young- man." She looked at Gabrielle quizzically. "I believe Greece owes this victory to you."
Finding herself under Athena's scrutiny was unnerving as Gabrielle tried to avoid her gaze. "Thanks!" She mumbled and quickly walked away.
Ares watched her walked away and turned back to his sister, "she's quite something, isn't she?"
"Don't tell me you didn't know."
"So you knew all along?" Athena looked at her brother in surprise, "why did you let her stay?"
"I'm not so dense that I can't recognize a woman when I see one even though she was so determined to try to fool us into thinking otherwise. I've known for a very long time. Let's just say that I was- intrigued by her."
"That, my dear sister, is none of your business." Ares smiled at his sister.
"Hmm- curiouser and curiouser. Well, I better go and check on Callisto's men and make sure that they leave Greece peacefully."
Ares caught up with Gabrielle just as she was about to mount her horse. "Hey, aren't you going to stick around for the celebration?"
"Well, actually, I was thinking now that this is all over, I should really be heading home."
"Great idea, I'll come with you."
"Just thought that I should meet your family, talk to your folks, you know."
"Why?" Gabrielle was apprehensive.
"Well, if I'm going to take you up to Mt. Olympus, I really should tell your folks first." Ares grinned a little uncertainly.
"What?" Gabrielle felt faint.
Xena jumped up and yelled at her, "what are you questioning him for? He's gorgeous! Just go!"
Now it was Ares' turn to look apprehensive, "who is that?"
"That's Xena; she's my guardian. My ancestors sent her to come help me."
"She's not coming with us, okay?" He whispered in her ear.
Gabrielle turned and smiled at Xena, but quickly gave Ares a slight nod of acceptance.
"Hey, I saw that!"
Ignoring Xena's outburst, Gabrielle turned back to Ares who was at that moment running his fingers through her short hair, "I'd like to see that grow and as quickly as possible, okay?"
Gabrielle could only nod, "when did you know?"
"When I tried to send you home that first time."
"Why didn't you ever ask me about it? And why would you let me stay if you knew?"
"I figured that you'd tell me when the time is right." He shrugged, "I found that I like having you around." He grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the prying eyes of the little dragon, "hey, I'm not pouring my heart out in front of her. What is your name anyway?"
"Gabrielle- I like that." Ares turned and sighed as the little dragon had followed them and was just standing there listening. "Exactly how did she help you?"
"Well- come to think of it, she really didn't, but let's just humor her okay, she was sent by my ancestors." Gabrielle grinned at Xena and whispered to Ares.
After meeting with her parents, Ares took Gabrielle up to Mt. Olympus where Zeus made her a goddess. The two got married and lived happily ever after with their 2.5 kids. To humor Gabrielle, Ares had learned to put up with Xena as an infrequent guest.