Hercules and Iolaus strolled through an empty field on their way to Corinth to visit Iphicles. It had been a long time since he had visited his brother and a visit was past due. The sky was blue with little white clouds and wildflowers dotted the green field with their vibrant colors. It just seemed that every time he tried to visit Corinth something came up and so he never got there. His other brother, Ares, was often involved.
"I can't wait to get to Corinth and stay at the Palace! The food they got there! Just thinking of it makes my mouth water!" Iolaus told Hercules and they started to climb a hill.
"I just hope Ares doesn't interfere again." Hercules replied. The big hero reached the top of the hill and stopped. Ares was standing at the top of the hill, waiting for them. Hercules sighed loudly. "Not now, Ares. I don't have time to play your games. I'm on the way to visit Iphicles, as I'm sure you know."
"Why, aren't you glad to see me?" Ares asked, a hurt expression on his face. "I always try to visit you."
"I could do without your visits." Hercules said as he moved past his Godly half brother. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get to Corinth."
"So you don't want to hear about the monster?" Ares asked.
Hercules stopped and turned to face Ares. "What monster?"
"Yeah, what monster?" Iolaus asked.
"The giant one that's stomping towards Corinth." Ares explained. "It'll be there soon if you don't stop it. I just thought I should tell you."
Hercules stared at Ares, confused. "Why are you telling us this?"
"Why, isn't that your job? Being a Monster Slayer?" Ares asked innocently. "And I know you'd just hate yourself if you got there too late and the city was destroyed."
"We better go slay it!" Iolaus told his best friend.
"Which direction is it?" Hercules asked. Ares pointed and the Demigod started running in that direction. Soon he spotted the monster and skidded to a halt. The thing was the largest creature he had ever seen!
The monster was big like a mountain and must have been over 100 feet tall! It was a giant lizard that walked on two legs in an upright position. It's skin was a dark greenish black, covered with thick scales. The ground trembled with each step it took. A long tail trailed on the ground behind the monster and every so often it moved, striking the ground or other nearby objects. On its back grew some sort of huge spikes, each one shaped like a maple leaf. Red beady eyes scanned the nearby area as it continued forward. The tiny arms seemed out of place with the rest of its body.
"Whoa!" Iolaus gasped as he stared up and up and up until he almost fell over backward. "What the heck IS that thing? And how are we going to kill something that big?"
"I don't know. But we have to try!" Hercules pulled out the sword he had taken from a warlord just that morning and raced towards the monster. Leaping as high as he could, he landed on top of the monster's giant foot.
Iolaus gulped down his fear and dashed after the retreating monster. Just two steps of the giant creature had already put a lot of distance between him and Hercules. If he didn't hurry, he'd be left behind! The monster's big feet stirred up loose dust and Iolaus coughed as he ran. Finally reaching the other foot, he bravely leaped onto it. The rough skin felt hot and dry under his hands. And very hard.
On the foot, Hercules braced himself the best he could. He raised his sword and plunged the pointed tip straight down into the monster's foot. He expected an immediate reaction from the creature and was puzzled when none came. So he stabbed at it a few more times. Surely that would do the job!
"Is it dead yet?" Hercules asked Iolaus.
"No, not yet. It's still heading towards Corinth!" Iolaus replied.
Hercules bent to examine the foot and saw that his sword hadn't caused any damage at all. He couldn't even find a scratch! The well muscled hero frowned. "This is going to be harder than I thought."
Deciding the foot was too tough, Hercules hopped off. Soon the tail was in front of him and Hercules gripped the very tip. The tip was wide but his arms just fit around it. He dug his heels into the ground and hung on. "I got it! Iolaus, I got the monster!"
Iolaus hopped off the other foot and hurried over by Hercules. He watched as Hercules was dragged behind the walking monster. The demigod's boots began to smoke from friction. "Are you sure you got it, Herc?"
"Of course I...Whoa!" Hercules hung on even tighter as he was suddenly lifted high into the air. Then the tail was slammed back onto the ground with incredible force. Hercules gritted his teeth but was determined to hang on. His feet left the ground for a second time as the tail tip moved upward. When it struck the ground the second time, Hercules was forced to let go. He lay on the ground, dazed.
"Hercules!" Iolaus rushed over to his friend, fearing he had been mortally wounded. "Are you OK? Talk to me!"
"Boy, that thing is worse than the hydra. It can fight real good with that tail!" Hercules rubbed his head and slowly sat up.
"Uh, Herc?" Iolaus stuttered. "I'm not sure it even knew you were ON it's tail."
"Of course it did! It kept slamming me on the ground! We were having a fight!" Hercules replied, a bit annoyed.
"I think it was just wagging it's tail, like a dog." Iolaus stated.
"That's crazy! Maybe it won that round, but I'll win the next one!" Hercules got up and dusted off his clothes. "Let's go build a trap!"
"A trap? How are we going to trap something that big?" Iolaus asked.
"Easy. Come on!" Hercules ran ahead of the monster and soon found the perfect place for his trap. He handed Iolaus a shovel. "Help me dig a deep pit for it. We'll trap it's foot and then it can't go smash Corinth!"
Iolaus gave Hercules a worried look but started to dig. Soon they were both covered in sweat and the pit took form. It was deeper and wider than Hercules was tall. They finished just it time, as the monster appeared over the next hill. At first only it's head was visible, then its chest, its stomach and finally its legs. They both scrambled out of the pit and hid in some nearby bushes.
"It's going straight for the pit!" Hercules whispered to Iolaus. "Pits are good for catching animals. At the last minute, they had thrown some thin branches and grass over the open hole to hide it.
"I don't know..." Iolaus muttered. The little hunter couldn't see how a small hole was going to stop such a big monster! "I don't think we CAN stop that monster. It's just too big!"
"Nonsense, Iolaus! I never met a monster I couldn't kill." Hercules leaned forward in anticipation as the monster walked towards the trap. Its foot came down directly on the trap and nothing happened. The hole had been too small! "Phooey! The hole was nothing but a tiny crack to it."
Iolaus came out of the bushes and watched the monster's spiked back as it headed towards Corinth. "What are we going to do now?"
"Hmm....let me think." Hercules knew they had very little time left. Then a grin spread across his face. "I have the perfect idea!"
"I hope it's better than your last idea." Iolaus muttered.
Some Time Later
"A monster, huh? Sure I'll go kill it. Where is it?" Xena asked.
"It's heading towards Corinth. You got to hurry!" Hercules told her.
"Don't worry. I'll go take care of it." Xena leaped onto Argo and hurried off towards Corinth. Soon she saw the giant monster stomping along, it's tail swishing behind it. She frowned. Hercules hadn't told her the thing was THAT big. Xena quickly climbed to the top of a tall tree and waited until it came closer. Taking careful aim, she threw her deadly chakrom at its face. The chakrom bounced off the hard scales on it's nose and flew over the monster's head. It landed high on it's back, getting caught on one of the spikes.
"Dang!" Xena swore. The monster passed her and continued on towards Corinth, her chakrom on its back. "Come back here with my chakrom!"
Xena climbed down from the tree and ran after it. She leaped onto his tail and started to climb upwards. It's hide felt extremely hot under her hands and her boots slipped a few times, but she was determined to get her favorite weapon back! She was about halfway to her chakrom when Corinth came into view. She could see Hercules, Iolaus and Gabrielle herding people to safety in some nearby caves. People saw the monster and started to panic. Their screams filled the air as they stampeded towards safety. Xena hoped they had evacuated everyone, but the Warrior Princess doubted it. There hadn't been enough time. Several thousand lived in Corinth.
Xena scrambled up the monster's back faster, her hands gripping the spines as she pulled herself higher and higher. Perhaps if she reached it's head she could kill it somehow, maybe with her sword. She finally reached her chakrom and tried to pry it loose. The thing had gotten jammed somehow...
"Come on! I don't have the time!" She muttered as she yanked with all her strength. Her weapon finally popped free and she almost fell. She regained her balance and took a quick glance at their surroundings. Corinth was right in front of them now. Just then the monster turned and started to go around the city. Xena clung to its back as she watched the city pass by on her right. Now the ocean was right in front of them and the great creature happily lumbered into the deep salty water.
"Uh oh. I better get down from here before it takes me to sea!" Xena leaped from the monster's back, landing in the water. After swimming to shore, she went to sea what the others were doing.
Xena looked down at herself in confusement. "Why the heck am I glowing this odd green???"
Gabrielle looked at her best friend with concern. It was night and the four friends were resting around the campfire. The problem was that Xena was glowing brighter than the campfire! An errie green light shone from her skin and hair, even her armor! And just glancing at the chakrom on Xena's hip made the bard's eyes hurt. "Xena, why are you glowing like that?"
"I don't know." The Warrior Princess admitted, her voice a bit shaky. "I guess I must have caught something from that giant monster. I don't feel any different, no headache or dizziness or any other symptoms of illness. I know there's certain cave plants that glow in the dark, but this is ridiculous!"
"What are you going to do about it?" Hercules asked. He glanced at his own hands, worried that any minute that he might start glowing, too. He breathed a tiny sigh of relief when he saw that he was normal, then immediately felt guilty. It was selfish of him to be worrying about himself when his friend was in major trouble. "But I touched the monster. So did Iolaus. We're not glowing."
"It must be from those spines. If only we knew more about it." Xena frowned as she realized how this would affect her life as a warrior. She wouldn't be able to sneak up on anyone at night again...ever. Everyone would see her coming from miles away.
"Do you think it'll fade with time? Like be a temporary thing?" Iolaus asked as he ate a piece of rabbit. He was a bit disappointed they couldn't go to Corinth and stay at the palace, but with Xena's current condition it was better to camp in the nearby woods. They didn't know yet if it was catching.
"I have a gut feeling it's permanent." Xena replied with a frown. "How the heck am I ever going to sneak up on anybody?"
"But there has to be something we can do!" Gabrielle looked across the campfire at her friend and felt sad. She had wanted to sit next to Xena, but the Warrior Princess had insisted she sit with Herc and Iolaus. If only she could think of something! But what? If there was a medical solution Xena would know it, so that idea was out. But what about magic? "Xena! Why don't you ask the Gods? Maybe they could cure you."
"The Gods cause more trouble then their worth." Xena replied. "Besides, which one would I ask? And why would they help?"
"Well, how about Ares? He's always popping in and talking to you." Gabrielle replied.
"You know how I feel about him and how he's always trying to trick me to go back to being his Warlord. I can't trust him and I'm not going to end up owing him a favor, which is what he'd want in exchange for curing me. I'd rather live like this than ask him for help." Xena told Gabrielle. "And forget about Aphrodite. I know she means good most of the time, but she goofs up her spells too much."
"But Xena, you need help!" Gabrielle insisted. "You can't let your pride stop you from seeking help. We don't know anything about this glowing sickness you have! What if it's more dangerous than it seems? It could kill you! Couldn't you at least ask Ares what it is?"
"Xena's right." Hercules agreed. "I knew Ares since I was eighteen and attending the Academy. He can't be trusted. All he does is start wars. And when he isn't doing that, he bugs me. Sometimes I really wish he'd find a new hobby."
"What about Apollo? Isn't he the God of Medicine?" Gabrielle asked. She was determined to find Xena the help she needed!
"Apollo's a real rat." Hercules shook his head as he thought of the few encounters with the Golden One. "In a lot of ways, he's far worse than Ares. He thinks mortals are his play things."
Xena wrinkled her nose and rubbed it a few times.
"Xena, are you OK?" Gabrielle practically leaped off the log she was sitting on to go to her friend, but Hercules stopped her. He motioned for her to sit and she did.
"Gabrielle, I'm fine!" Xena insisted. "I just feel like I'm going to sneeze. Probably some smoke from the fire. Trust me, I don't feel sick."
Gabrielle knew that Xena had kept things from her before, always saying it had been in her best interest not knowing. But would Xena really tell her if she was feeling sick?
Just then Xena sneezed and a bright beam of white light came out of her mouth! It flew straight at her friends across from her.
"Whoah!" Hercules shoved Gabrielle off the log, then dove for safety himself. The white beam just missed him and struck a tree some twenty feet away. The tree instantly burst into flames.
Xena's hand flung over her mouth, her blue eyes open wide in shock and fright.
Hercules slowly got to his feet, being careful not to stand in front of Xena. "I guess now we know it's more than just glowing."
"Was that lightning?" Iolaus asked. He had dove off the log the same time Hercules had and was just now getting to his feet. He glanced over at the burning tree and whistled. "That was really powerful!"
"I think it was something else, some form of raw energy perhaps." Hercules guessed.
Gabrielle picked herself up, brushing dirt off her arms. "Xena, you have to ask someone for help now!"
For once, Xena was speechless. The glowing had shocked her, yes, but she had been handling it to a degree. But destroying a tree without meaning to.... She nervously felt inside her mouth, half expecting to find charred flesh. She had never understood how some beasts could breath fire without burning themselves anyway. Yet her mouth was fine, warm and wet like it always was. If it wasn't for the burning tree, she would have believed it to be some crazy nightmare. And she could have killed her best friends! If Hercules wouldn't have pushed Gabrielle out of the way....
"Am I turning into a God?" Xena asked.
"I don't know." Hercules admitted. He had never heard of a monster that could turn people into Gods just by touching it. "Can you do any of the other things Gods do? Teleport, throw fireballs, stuff like that?"
Gabrielle felt restless and frustrated. She could see they were planning on sitting here, asking each other questions and getting nowhere! Xena needed real help, from someone who actually KNEW stuff. She bent down and picked up her staff. "I'll be right back. Nature call."
Turning, Gabrielle hurried into the nearby trees. Whether Xena liked it or not, she needed Godly help. Gabrielle only knew a few Gods, mainly Ares and Aphrodite. Deciding that Ares was more intelligent and thus a better choice, she would ask him for help. Stopping in a small clearing, she remembered the last time she had seen Ares. He had flicked her nose with his finger, laughing. Then he had popped off to Mount Olympus. She hoped he wasn't mad at her about the entire scroll incident, which had been an accident.
"Ares! Could you please come here?" Gabrielle called, hoping he would answer her.
"Now, this is a surprise!" Ares appeared in a flash of blue-white light. His eyes shifted from her head to her feet and back up again. He grinned when Gabrielle squirmed under his intense gaze. "So, what can I do for you?"
"Xena needs your help. She caught some sickness from that monster." Gabrielle explained as she tried to not let Ares gaze affect her so much. In fact, she didn't understand why it was affecting her at all. She had spent time with him when he and Aphrodite had been mortal and hadn't felt this way. But then, she had never been alone with the Godly Ares before, had she? Xena had always dealt with him in the past, keeping her away from him. Could this be why?
"What type of sickness?" Ares asked.
"Well, she's glowing green and this white light came out of her mouth when she sneezed. It set a tree on fire!" Gabrielle looked up at Ares and noticed how the moonlight reflected off his silver earring. Then she realized how odd it was to notice something like that when she should be worried about Xena! What was the matter with her? Was she coming down with the glowing sickness, too? "So, can you cure her?"
"So, why isn't Xena here asking me to cure her?" Ares asked, sure he knew the answer. Xena still hated his guts and probably would always hate his guts. But it appeared as if the bard felt the exact opposite of her best friend! Truth is, he had never paid Gabrielle very much attention until that scroll incident, which had really opened his eyes.
"Well, Xena..." Gabrielle thought quickly of how to say it tactfully. "Xena thinks she can solve it by herself, with Hercules' help. Or something like that. So, can you help her?"
"Hmmmm...." Ares focused his gaze elsewhere for a moment. Instantly he could see Xena, Hercules and Iolaus arguing around the campfire about the Warrior Princess' new glowing sickness. Their behavior didn't surprise him at all. Ignoring their petty argument, he focused on Xena. His gaze went deeper and deeper until he could see the white fire that burned inside her heart. It was radiating outward, causing the glow. He blinked and once again was back in the clearing with Gabrielle. "It wouldn't be easy. Even the Gods have limits."
"So you know what's causing it?" Gabrielle's heart leaped with excitement. Ares knew what the problem was and could possibly fix it!
"Yes, although you may not understand it. It's complex and deals with things mortals don't know yet and won't know for thousands of years, if ever." Ares led Gabrielle over to a large rock and sat down, pulling her down next to him. "You see, that monster was not a normal monster. No normal creature grows to that size. Instead, something has happened to it that caused it to grow that big very quickly. Inside its heart is an energy, something similar to the sun."
Gabrielle opened her blue eyes wide in amazement. "You mean there's a tiny sun inside that monster's chest?"
"Something like that." Ares knew Gabrielle wouldn't be able to understand the full concept of radiation and nuclear power, but the sun she knew. "Normally this energy would kill, but sometimes it changes things instead. The monster radiates lots of its energy through its spines and that's probably how she caught it. And as for her breathing that white energy, the monster does the same exact thing. Anyway, it wouldn't be easy to cure, especially since curing is not my field. But maybe I could come up with something that would work."
"Oh, could you?" Gabrielle asked.
"Of course, you'd owe me a favor." Ares added with a grin as he leaned closer to Gabrielle.
Gabrielle smiled nervously as she leaned backward, trying to increase the distance between them. "What sort of favor? I'm not a warrior, Ares. And I refuse to kill anyone. You know that."
"Oh, I'm sure I can think of something." Ares said, leaving it vague on purpose.
"Umm...I think I should be getting back to Xena now." Gabrielle slid off the rock but stopped short when Ares gripped her wrist. "Ares, let go of me."
"Being around Xena isn't safe until she's cured. Radiation can make you sick, even kill you. It's good you left the area and came out here." Ares pulled Gabrielle close again, staring into her eyes. "Why don't you come with me to my temple? You'll be safe there."
"Umm...." Gabrielle didn't know what she should say. She was afraid that she had once again gotten involved in a mess way over her head and there was no way out. And what type of favor was he going to ask for? She was saved from answering by Aphrodite.
"Oh, Ar! There you are! I've been searching everywhere for you!" Aphrodite wailed. The Love Goddess was clearly upset. Her beautiful face was streaked with tears and her eyes were puffy and red. Her red lips trembled as she spoke. "You have to do something! Greece is under attack! It's terrible!"
"What?! Who's attacking? Surely not Caesar?" Ares asked, unconsciously tightening his grip on Gabrielle's wrist.
"It's some hideous monster!" Dite told him.
"The big green one?" Ares asked. "I sensed it didn't want to cause any real trouble, that it was just passing through."
"No, a different one!" Dite cried. She wrapped her arms around herself, shivering. "It's big like that green one but has three heads! And it flies! Oh, Ar! It's so sad! So many poor mortals are dying! It's killing everyone! You have to DO something!"
"I'm on it!" Ares popped out, taking Gabrielle with him. In a flash they appeared in his main temple and he turned on his God TV with a wave of his hand. Instantly in focused on the trouble spot: Athens.
It was clear in a second that Athens was in serious trouble. Smoke filled the air and buildings were ruined. People yelled and screamed as they ran for their lives. Then the monster itself appeared. Like Aphrodite had said, it was a tall at the green one had been, easily over three hundred feet in height. Its three heads moved constantly at it spitted lightning bolts out at buildings in its way. The heads moved sinuously, like a snake. And like a snake, it had long round necks covered in hard golden scales. The heads themselves were like a dragon: large gaping jaws filled with razor sharp teeth, horns on the head, red eyes and a few "whiskers" under the jaws that were made from flesh. It had a main central body, two strong legs, two tails and very large batlike wings. Those wings were beating now, causing gale force winds that blew roofs off homes and tore trees from the ground. The entire creature was a rich gold color. Athen's army was valiantly trying to defend the city but it was a loosing battle. There was little spears and arrows could do against a creature as large as this one.
"Oh, Ares! You have to do something!" Gabrielle told him as she clung to his arm, shocked at seeing such destruction. It was just horrible and she wanted to cry. She glanced up at him. "You can stop it, can't you? With your powers?"
"There's little my powers can do against something that big. They'd be no more effective than the spears or arrows the soldiers are using." Ares gently wiped a tear off Gabrielle's face. "But I have a plan and it'll solve both of our problems!"
An instant later, Gabrielle found herself back in the camp with Xena, Hercules and Iolaus. The three were still arguing whether or not Xena's breath weapon meant she was a God. Hercules was arguing against it while Xena was fighting in favor of it. Iolaus was smartly keeping out of the entire mess and was busy stuffing himself on roasted rabbit. Gabrielle frowned. Here Ares had practically kidnapped her and they hadn't even noticed she had been gone for far too long!
Xena's head flew up when she sensed Ares. Her face got that grouchy expression that meant "watch out" when she saw the War God had his arm around Gabrielle. She leaped to her feet, pulling out her sword. "Let her go, Ares! Or you'll be sorry! I got new powers now so you better watch out! There's a new Goddess on the block!"
"Oh, please! You're no Goddess!" Ares informed her. "You only mutated from radiation. Now why don't you play nice for once and cooperate so you can go save Athens from another giant monster!"
"Huh?" Iolaus asked, dumbfounded by what Ares had said. He glanced at Hercules but the Demigod just shrugged his shoulders.
"Is this some nasty trick of yours?" Xena asked, suspicious as usual. "And I said LET HER GO!"
"Xena, it's true! There's another horrible monster, like a giant hydra! Its destroying Athens!" Gabrielle told her friends, tears in her eyes. "And Ares is going to cure you, but you have to cooperate!"
"All right." Xena agreed. "But I don't like you touching her."
"Xena, that glow on you is dangerous to other people. It can kill them. Ares is just protecting me from it." Gabrielle explained.
"Whoa!" Hercules and Iolaus scrambled as quickly as they could away from Xena, practically leaping on top of Ares. The War God stumbled in surprise at the sudden charge but quickly regained his balance.
"Hmm...I figured that glow wasn't good." Xena looked at Ares. "So, what do I have to do?"
"You're already partly mutated from the Godzilla, I figure we just mutate you a bit more." Ares explained as he raised his hands.
"Wait. I thought you said you were gonna cure me!" Xena stated, her distrust of Ares surfacing again.
"Oh, I will. AFTER you defeat the giant hydra. To do that, you need to be as big as the monster." The War God explained as he gently shoved Gabrielle behind him. "The first monster that mutated you feeds on lightning. So I'm going to give you lightning now and it won't harm you. Trust me, Xena. I know more about these things than you do and the longer you stall the more people will die."
"Do it then!" Xena stood ready, her sword in her hand and her chakrom on her belt. "But if you're lying, Ares, I'll smash you like a bug!"
"Oh, now that is so original." Ares let the lightning fly at Xena and slowly she started to grow, getting bigger and bigger. It surprised the War God how much power she was taking from him. After some time of supplying a steady stream of lightning, he was actually beginning to feel weak. He swayed on his feet a bit but just spread his legs out wider for better balance. Xena was pretty big now but nowhere near the height of the hydra. She was approaching the height of the first monster though. Ares felt Hercules grip him on one side and Iolaus on the other. After a few more minutes, the lightning spurted out and disappeared. He was exhausted and barely had enough powers left for teleporting. In fact, he was too darn close to being mortal again. He could feel it in his bones. But it wasn't anything rest, a hot bath and Ambrosia couldn't cure. And just perhaps Gabrielle could help! Ares grinned at the last thought.
"Now go fight that hydra in Athens!" Ares ordered Xena, pointing with his finger in the correct direction. His grin increased a bit when Xena actually followed his command! Ah, it was worth feeling a bit weak just to finally see Xena listening to him again, if only on this one occasion. With a thought, he popped himself and Gabrielle back to his temple.
"Hey, what about us?" Hercules asked Iolaus.
"Let's head to Athens!" The curly haired hunter suggested. "They'll need our help there!"
"Good idea!" Hercules agreed. "Let's ask Aphrodite for a lift. Dite! Come here!" Soon Dite appeared and popped them to the outskirts of Athens, then the Love Goddess left for the relative safety of Mount Olympus. But was even the Home of the Gods safe from this giant flying beast?
Xena reached Athens in record time: it hadn't taken her long at all. Being one hundred and fifty feet tall means you have VERY long legs! She peered through the smoke and dust with her eagle eyes and listened with her ears. She heard the strange sizzling noise the monster made and dashed in that direction. And there it was, happily breathing lightning bolts down at some poor buildings. Xena pulled her now giant chakrom off her belt - all her weapons had grown with her - and flung it at Ghidrah.
The shiny spinning disk hit the creature on one of its three heads and it howled in pain. But the hydra wasn't scared off that easily. It hissed with all three heads at Xena. The hydra was standing upright on his hind legs. Now he took towards the air, flying at the Warrior Princess. As he approached her, Xena realized the monster was about twice as big as herself! The heads moved up and back, blasting her with the lightning. The force of the bolts knocked her right off her feet and she flew through the air, crashing down on a few houses. Xena knew instantly she had to lure the monster out of the city. If she didn't, Athens would be a smoking ruin. But before she could untangle herself from the rubble, the giant hydra was upon her! The space monster gripped her around the waist with its huge talons and carried her high into the air.
"I'll get you for this, you three-headed freak!" Xena threatened but her words were whipped away by the fierce winds of the mutant hydra's flight. The monster was flying incredibly fast, far faster than Xena had dreamed possible. Once before she had ridden on a giant monster bird, but this was totally different! The wind sucked at her body and she could barely breath. She tried to lift her arms to grasp the creatures legs less it tried to drop her, but it was like swimming through hardening cement. She gritted her teeth and ignored the hair blowing into her eyes that nearly blinded her. "I'll get rid of you yet!"
Remembering her new breath weapon, Xena blasted a white beam of energy onto the creature's belly. At the same time, she reached up and finally gripped one of its legs. She felt its talons release her and she quickly climbed up onto its giant foot, her head banging into its stomach.
The hydra screamed in protest and one of its heads snaked down, trying to bite her. Xena saw the sharp jaws coming and leaped onto its head. She wrapped her arms around its long snout and reached for a horn. "I got ya where I want ya now!"
Being top heavy, the hydra crashed to the ground in a big cloud of dust. The monster struggled to get to its feet while it beat its wings frantically. Xena stepped on its snout as she hung onto the horn with one hand and pulled her sword free with the other. She noticed that they were now out in the country somewhere, in a dry dusty area. That was fine with her.
She saw a head coming at her and she blasted it point blank with a white ray of energy, then blasted the other free head when it tried to bite her. The Warrior Princess grinned secretly inside. She was beginning to get the hang of using this new weapon! She increased the power of each blast until her mouth and throat ached. Using her sword, she started chopping on the captive head's neck.
With a mighty heave, the hydra flung Xena off and flew up into the sky, its center neck dripping blood.
"Come back here, you coward!" Xena howled. Determined to win at all cost, Xena blasted her breath weapon at the monster until it was out of sight. She raced after it on the ground but the hydra quickly outpaced her flying at supersonic speeds. Feeling weak and dizzy, Xena sat on the ground and soon fell asleep. While she slept, her body shrunk back to its normal size. The green glow and her new weapon faded and disappeared, the raw nuclear energy having been used up in the heat of the battle.
Up in Ares’ temple, Gabrielle watched the God TV. She turned to Ares, who was resting in his throne chair. "Is Xena going to be OK?"
"Oh, Xena is just fine." Ares told her. "In fact, she's cured. I knew that Xena would use up all of the power she had in the battle. When she fights, she throws everything she has into it, after all. Which brings us to the favor you now owe me!"
Gabrielle's heart sped up as she worried what he might ask of her, all sorts of ideas running through her mind. "What?"
"Well, I used up lots of my powers to help cure Xena on your request, so I think it's only fair you help me recover." Ares stood and slowly walked over to her, looking her in the eyes. He took both of her hands in his and started to lead her down a long hallway, a grin on his face. "Oh, I could recover quite easily by myself, but this will be so much more fun!"
Ares sighed in pleasure as Gabrielle massaged his broad back. The War God was lying on his stomach near a roaring fireplace, dressed in only a pair of black shorts. He had his jeweled goblet of Ambrosia within easy reach, a bowl of fresh grapes and all his muscles were relaxed from a warm bath. Now Gabrielle was rubbing Ambrosia oil into his skin. He could feel his powers quickly regaining in strength but decided not to tell the blonde bard. Well, not too soon anyway. "It's a pity you refused to join me in the bath, you know."
"Don't you even think it!" Gabrielle leaped onto his back, reaching out to grasp his earlobe. Gripping it tightly, she twisted it until he yelped.
"Ow!" Ares raised up onto his knees, Gabrielle falling off his back onto the soft fur Ares had been resting on. He quickly twisted around, catching her before she could even move. "Nobody twists my ear! Now I'll have to punish you!"
Before she could utter a protest Ares kissed her right on the mouth, silencing whatever she was going to say. When he pulled back, he looked down at her. "I dare you to twist my ear again."
Gabrielle giggled and reached for his ear. She felt completely as ease with Ares. In fact, she had almost forgotten that he was a God. One did not go around leaping onto a God's back and twisting his ear! And here he was teasing her now but yet looking oh so serious. Finally reaching the ear, she gripped the earlobe between her fingers. But instead of twisting it, she pulled his head down for another kiss.