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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This piece is historically based, but it is not historically accurate. Hey, it's the Xenaverse. I figure, if Xena and Disney can create revisionist history, then so can I. All acknowledgments will be given upon the completion of the story.
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Wasichu Summer - Part III
The early morning sun peeked its tip over the green, low-sloped horizon. An occasional neigh from the nearby herd of horses and the bubbling of the swift-running river softly stirred the stillness of the Sioux camp.
Xena opened her eyes and stared out through the opening at the top of the tipi. The tinge of the early morning sky was one that she particularly relished. Its slight bluish, purple tincture lent itself to a pleasant serenity experienced by those fortunate enough to cast a sleepy eye in its direction.
Xena began to replay the prior day's events in her mind. There were a lot of customs to become familiar with, a lot of information to gather and even greater planning to consider. With a sigh, she looked down at the sleeping form beside her. After the entire night had passed by, Gabrielle was still sleeping in the security of her friend's embrace. Xena moved her arm slightly, noting that it had become numb from the weight of Gabrielle's head against it all night. With pins and needles now starting to attack her arm, she slowly removed it from under the bard's head, taking care to place her down gently and not wake her up.
Xena rose silently, massaging her arm. She grabbed her sword and chakram before she walked out of the lodge. The sun, though still getting its bearings in the sky, cast a pleasant warmth upon her. She took a moment to contemplate her surroundings and silently assured herself that she was very impressed with these people. They were not wealthy. They didn't possess many material items. They lived off of the land; and it was that land and their right to freely pursue their own way of life that they were fighting for. A very noble cause, indeed.
"Xena?" Gabrielle stuck her head out through the hide covered entrance of the tipt.
Xena smiled. "I was just going to wash up in the river."
"Wait up, I'll go with you," Gabrielle responded. She exited the tipi and squinted in the direct sunlight. "Wow, and this is the early sun?"
Xena smiled and half laughed. "Yeah, it's gonna be a hot one today. What are you doing up so early?" she asked as she knelt down at the river and began washing her arms and face.
"I couldn't sleep once you left. Anyway, it's not like I didn't get a lot of rest. We went to sleep fairly early." Gabrielle took her place beside Xena and started with her own ablutions.
"Hmmnn! I guess you're right." Xena stared straight ahead with a look of concern on her face.
Gabrielle, upon seeing Xena's expression, turned to look in the same direction. All she could see was undisturbed, green hills. "Xena, what is it?"
"Shhh! You hear that?" Xena prompted quietly.
Gabrielle strained to hear, then shook her head. "I don't hear anything."
"Maybe you're right. I think I'm still a little on edge after our warm welcome yesterday." Xena said sarcastically.
Gabrielle slowly surveyed the picturesque beauty of the village and the vast expanse beyond."You know Xena, with all the commotion and excitement yesterday, I never really took the time to see the provincial qualities of our surroundings.".
Xena looked up and scanned the area as well.
"I mean, look at how beautiful this is."
"Mmm. Yes, it certainly is that." Xena agreed.
"Look. Look at the way the bluffs hover over the woods. It's breath-taking."
Xena followed Gabrielle's stare and traced the heavily wooded area winding along the river's crooked path. Suddenly, she quirked her head in the opposite direction and held still, the veil of concern covering her face again.
"Xena, what is it?" Gabrielle asked. "Are you still hearing things?"
Xena rose from her crouched position at the river. "Stay here!"
"Stay...here!" Xena repeated sternly.
She quickly grabbed her sword and chakram, then ran to one of the horses, jumped onto its back and began a fast gallop over the western slopes. Guiding the horses direction with her touch, Xena held onto the mane for balance. Gabrielle watched her friend ride off and was tacitly impressed with another of Xena's many skills. However, she was concerned for her safety. They were, after all, strangers in a strange land. So, she was extremely relieved to see Ten Bears as he sauntered over to greet her.
"Gabrielle!" he said smiling.
"Ten Bears," she responded, momentarily keeping her eyes in the direction Xena had traveled. Finally, she looked over to him, concern clearly written on her face.
"Gabrielle, what is it?"
"It's Xena! She heard something in that direction and she took off after it."
"I don't hear anything!" he stated, rather confused.
"No, a normal person wouldn't, but Xena has quite extraordinary hearing. She went over those hills." Gabrielle pointed west, indicating the sloping mounds where Xena had disappeared.
"I think I know what she's hearing, but let's go see anyway, shall we?" Ten Bears offered.
"Right, what are we waiting for?" Gabrielle smiled.
Ten Bears ran over to the horses, grabbed a rope bridle and slipped it over one horse's nose. He turned to grab another bridle, then hesitated as he saw the look on Gabrielle's face. "What's wrong?"
"I don't know how to say this," Gabrielle sheepishly replied. "I have this...thing...about horses. It's a long story."
"You don't know how to ride?" he asked.
"Oh no, it's not that. I just prefer not to. Would you mind if I just, sort of, slipped on up behind you?" This said with a pleading smile.
"Not at all," Ten Bears said, extending his arm to her. He pulled her up onto the horse and they took off at full gallop in the direction Xena had gone.
They rode silently over the hills. Within moments, they spotted the horse Xena had left on, but there was no sign of Xena.
"Where is she?" Gabrielle wondered aloud.
Ten Bears raised his right hand in a gesture meant to politely shush her. They dismounted the horse and started climbing to the top of the hill. There, just over the other side, Xena was staring intently at a truly awesome sight. She heard Ten Bears and Gabrielle approaching, but, recognizing the bard's footsteps, she kept her focus forward and stared straight ahead.
"Xena!" Gabrielle whispered as she peered out in the direction of Xena's gaze. "Look at all of them. What are they?"
"They are Tatanka. Buffalo," Ten Bears interjected.
They stared out over the plains. Buffalo seemed to blanket the geography clear to the horizon.
"They're incredible. I've never seen anything like them," Xena said. "Their fur...That's what your pouch is made of isn't it?"
"Yes! The buffalo are vital to our existence. Where they go, we go. They provide us with food, clothing, tools...there is no part of the buffalo that isn't put to good use," Ten Bears replied.
"Impressive," Xena remarked.
"Come. We shouldn't be so close. They scare easily," Ten Bears suggested.
BANG!! At that moment, a small band of trappers appeared.
"YAAAHOOOOO!!!" One of them yelled, as they shot their guns off and ran their horses and wagon towards the buffalo.
The buffalo reacted quickly, scattering from the intrusive sounds.
"White hunters! They will drive the buffalo away," Ten Bears yelled.
"Not if I can help it," Xena promised.
She turned and ran back to her horse. With one large leap, she was on the steed's back and pounding towards the hunters.
"XENA WAIT!" Gabrielle yelled. Legs pumping, she flew down the hill towards the frightening scene unfolding below, as Ten Bears rushed to keep up with her. "Yeahehehhh Buddy! Shoot that one down!" one of the hunters yelled. They fired their rifles and buffalo started to fall. Xena raced down the hillside as the buffalo thundered past her.
"Ayiyiyiyiyi!" was the distinct yell.
The hunters looked up. "What the......!" one said under his breath.
Xena charged the four intruders. One, on horseback, shouldered a rifle that we was attempting to turn towards her. Two, bouncing in the back of the buckboard, continued to fire at the buffalo, while the third had his hands full trying to steer a straight course over the churned earth.
As she neared closed in on the man on horseback, Xena pushed herself to her feet. With a short yell, she somersaulted off of her horse and landed behind the startled rider. He didn't even have time to blink before she knocked him off of his horse with a powerful armsweep.
"GET HER!" Came the frantic yell of one of the hunters. Circling back, the men in the wagon positioned their rifles to fire at the Warrior Princess, but Xena wasn't about to back off. She dodged the horse back and forth, denying them a clean shot.
BANG! BANG! Each man fired in succession. Neither made a hit on the raging warrior. The rough terrain seriously impeded the wagon's stability, and nerves were beginning to take their toll as the wide-eyed men watched fury itself moved in on them.
When the first man finally realized what had happened to him, he picked himself off of the ground and turned his head from side to side searching for his gun. He found it and quickly ran to retrieve his weapon. He went down on one knee, put the gun against his shoulder and put Xena in his sights.
"That's right missy. Keep comin'. Nobody knocks Billy Bob around and lives to tell about it," he spit the words out in a loud cry.
He focused. Xena closed in on the wagon. He aimed. Xena grabbed her chakram and held it in her right hand. He put his finger on the trigger and gently started to sque.....THUMP! A roundabout kick to the temple by a spinning, grinning Gabrielle had dropped the arrogant Billy Bob. "And I'm living to tell about it," she jeered at his unconscious form.
Xena raised her right arm, a feral grin across her face. With all her might, she let her chakram fly. The disc flew through the air and sawed the barrels off of the guns that the two men in the wagon had trained on her, effectively knocking them out of their hands and out of the wagon. The chakram continued it's flight, circled wide and came back just in front of the wagon driver, severing the horse's harness and freeing it from the wagon before resting itself in Xena's hand once again.
Hooking her chakram back onto her belt, Xena chased after the unhitched wagon. Hurtling out of control, it headed straigh for the rock at the edge of the river.
"Aaaaahhhhh!" The driver screamed as the wagon crashed against the rock and flipped over, sending the inhabitants flying into the water. Xena spurred her horse up to the river's edge and leaped off. The driver of the wagon was too hurt to stand. The others, though a bit dazed, were quick to get to their feet.
"I'M GONNA KILL YOU!" One of the men yelled as he charged menacingly towards Xena with the other man following close behind.
Xena rushed out to meet the challenge. Before the first man could even get back onshore, Xena jumped in the air, turned full circle and kicked the man in the jaw. Blood and teeth made an involuntary flight from his mouth as the force threw him backwards into his onrushing comrade. Both men received a second wash as they fell back into the river. The second man pushed his friend off of him and quickly got to his feet. His nerves weren't as solid without his gun however. The driver of the wagon was still too dazed to be of any assistance, and the sight of his other friend painfully crawling around in the shallow water made him think twice about attacking Xena.
"Get your friends and get outta here." Xena said in a cool tone.
"Our wagon's busted. We ain't got no way to get out of here." The young man replied.
"Your horses ran over that hill. Find them and leave. I'm going to hold onto this one. I'm sure you'd want the Indians to have it as a token of your sincere regret." Xena stated flatly.
Xena's menacing tone reverberated through the young man's body. His eyes grew wide as he hurried to help his buddies up out of the water.
Xena turned back to see Ten Bears hovering angrily over the man she'd pulled off of the horse. Ten Bears grabbed the man by his collar, pulled him to his feet unceremoniously and shoved him towards his friend's retreat path.
"Xena!" Gabrielle called, running towards her friend.
Xena's answering smile quickly disappeared when she heard Ten Bears yelling and running towards Gabrielle. Xena's heart skipped a beat when she saw what Ten Bears was upset about. A spooked buffalo was making a mad rush directly at Gabrielle.
"GABRIELLE!" Xena yelled.
Gabrielle turned to see the enormous animal bearing down on her. She whirled away and fled as fast as she could. Leaping onto the horse's back, Xena rode furiously in Gabrielle's direction. The buffalo was closing in. Xena, coming at full speed behind the animal, knew she would never reach Gabrielle on time.
The buffalo was within 10 lengths of Gabrielle when Xena pulled alongside it. She jumped from the horse, right onto the buffalo's back, but slid off of the unfamiliar animal. As she slipped, Xena grabbed the animal by its horns and turned its head sideways as hard as she could. This manuever successfully diverted the buffalo away from Gabrielle who fell, breathless, to the ground.
The frightened animal was still charging as Xena fought to bring it down. She dragged her feet along the ground and twisted with all her might, but the animal was too strong. Suddenly, it jerked hard to the right. Xena's inertia sent her tumbling to the ground. The animal ran a few paces before stopping and turning towards Xena. Though dazed by the fall, Xena rolled to her knees in short order, sweat dripping from her face. She turned slowly and found herself staring into the raging animal's eyes. The buffalo snorted, pawed at the ground, and started charging at Xena with full force, its nostrils flaring, its head down.
"XENA!" Gabrielle yelled.
Xena reached behind and grabbed her sword. She quickly pulled it from the scabbard and hurled it at the buffalo. Thrown with tremendous force and accuracy, the sword hit the animal right between the eyes and penetrated its thick skull. It fell fast and skidded towards Xena. With an urgent thrust of her powerful legs, she dove out of its path and somersaulted to a halt, coming up on her knees again.
Xena, out of breath and sweating, didn't even hear Gabrielle as she approached.
"Xena, are you alright?"
Xena took a few more breaths, and slowly turned her gaze from the dead animal next to her, before acknowledging Gabrielle and nodding affirmatively. Both women breathed a sigh of relief as they looked up and spotted Ten Bears. He was standing wide eyed, with his mouth wide open, seemingly frozen in place.
"What's the matter with you?" Xena asked, as she pulled herself to her feet. "You act like you've never seen a buffalo before." Xena dusted herself off, pulled her sword from the buffalo's skull, slid her fingers down the bloodied blade and sheathed it, then headed back to her captured horse.
Gabrielle looked at Ten Bears who stared back at her in disbelief at what he had just witnessed. "So! What's for breakfast?" She smiled jokingly.
Ten Bears didn't answer. He just continued to stare at her. Gabrielle raised her eyebrows, gave a quick smile and headed in the direction Xena had gone.
The camp was spirited all day and Xena was the entire topic of conversation. Xena sat at the river's edge, cleaning and sharpening her sword. It was something she should have done a long time ago, but their arrival back at the camp and the accolades thrown at her for the majority of the day kept her busy with celebrations and polite acceptance of veneration. As she continued her labor, several of the children in the village would steal a peek at her, giggle and run off. This amused Gabrielle to no end, but Xena was quickly becoming exasperated with the commotion.
"You know, Xena, they're completely in awe of you," Gabrielle said, with a smile on her face.
"Yeah? Well, it shows a lack of good judgement on their part. I can think of better role models."
"Oh, come on, Xena. You're a hero, you know. You stopped those men from slaughtering the herd and kept the herd from completely stampeding. Not to mention the fact that you saved my life again."
Xena let a crooked smile creep onto her face. "Whatever would you do without me?"
Gabrielle shook her head and chuckled as she looked at Xena's smiling face. She walked up to Xena and sat down on her right. "It's beautiful isn't it?" Gabrielle ruminated as she took in the purples, oranges and reds of the western sunset.
Taking a moment to rest from her task, Xena stopped to reflect on the sunset with Gabrielle. The sun had become a large orange sphere which cast an orange-yellow glow on their skins. It also gave the clouds a reddish hue that was stunning against the still blue sky.
"You're amazing, Gabrielle," Xena said as she and the bard stared at the sunset. "After what you've been through today, you can still take the time to appreciate the beauty in life."
Gabrielle turned to look at Xena.
"Don't ever lose that, Gabrielle. Don't ever stop finding the good things around you."
"I never will," Gabrielle replied. "I've found the best thing anyone could ask for in you."
Xena turned and met Gabrielle's stare. The woman before her was a never ending well of compliments. Xena couldn't help wondering where Gabrielle found the constant ability to see the good in everything.
"Xena." It was Ten Bears coming towards them. "Come. We must meet with the Circle of Elders."
Xena patted Gabrielle on the knee, put her sword back in its scabbard and started towards Ten Bears.
"Gabrielle," he continued. "There are many at the fire. They wish to hear of today's events again. You are quite the storyteller."
"Ten Bears, even I can't make the same story interesting THAT many times."
"Then maybe you could tell them another story. I think they would like that."
Gabrielle smiled, nodded and started walking towards the center of the camp where a large audience awaited her. Xena and Ten Bears started towards the largest lodge in the camp where Xena would finally come face to face with the Circle of Elders.
"IKCEWICAXA KIN WOWITUNPEKELO!" The Indian yelled as he rode into the army encampment.
The sun cast its last light on the camp and descended over the horizon as the frantic Indian burst forth.
Soldiers all around the camp took notice of his speeding form and quickly gathered themselves together to find out what the commotion was about.
"What's he yellin'?" one of the soldiers asked.
"Somethin' 'bout the Injuns being powerful. I can't really hear him. Don't know what he's talkin' 'bout!" the soldier next to him responded.
"Well, it'd better be good. We're barely getting' time to rest as it is. Now he comes rushin' into camp, makin' all that noise."
"Come on, let's go find out."
The Indian pulled his horse to a stop and ran towards a large, white tent in the middle of the encampment. He stopped just short of the unfastened flaps. At that precise moment, a blonde, moustachioed man appeared through the flaps. He looked the Indian up and down, noting that his clothing was that of the Sioux, then motioned his head towards the interior of the tent.
"Ahsishishe! Come in!" the general said, quite matter-of-factly.
The Indian made his way into the tent and looked up at the general, rather sheepishly.
"Well, have a seat, Curly," the general offered. He gathered up his cup of coffee and admitted himself to the table in the center of the tent. The Indian scout made his way towards a chair directly across from the general. Before he could claim it, however, the general kicked his feet up onto the chair, using it as a makeshift foot rest. He briefly ran his fingers through his golden locks before clasping his hands together behind his head. The intent was understood by the young scout and he took his seat away from the table as the general kept him under stern regard.
The Indian, known as Curly to the soldiers, was a young man, barely seventeen. He didn't speak English, although he understood what he was being told.
There was a deafening silence between the two men as they waited in the tent. Finally, another Indian appeared through the entrance flaps. His dress, however, was more to the liking of the military officers. Dark slacks accompanied a white, button-up shirt. He wore a derby hat with a feather in it, as if to accentuate his Indian heritage upon his White societal adoptions.
"Bloody Knife, would you be so kind as to translate Curly's words for me? I want to find out what all the commotion is about," the general requested.
Bloody Knife took his seat next to Curly and listened intently as Curly began to detail what he had seen.
"He has tracked the Sioux to the river's edge. He believes that we have severely underestimated their numbers."
"This is not news to us. 'Lonesome Charlie' Reynolds spotted the Indian trail, days ago. We know that they have a large contingent," the general stated as he stroked his chin.
"He says there is a new power with the Sioux tribe. They have two new warriors who bring a great strength to the Sioux," Bloody Knife interpreted.
"And who, pray tell, are these two new warriors?" the general inquired.
Bloody Knife relayed the question to Curly and listened for his response. When Curly told him who the two warriors were, Bloody Knife brought his head back, furrowed his brows and gave a grin of disbelief.
"Well?" the general was becoming impatient.
Bloody Knife took a deep breath and turned his head slowly towards the general, only releasing his eyes from Curly at the last second. "He says..." Bloody Knife paused and nodded his head disapprovingly. "He says that they are two women."
"HAH!" the general laughed sarcastically. "Am I to believe that I have been disturbed this fine evening to listen to this young man espouse his fears about two insignificant women?"
Curly became animated and started yelling insistently.
"He says that these women are not ordinary women. They are very strong. They have amazing powers," Bloody Knife continued. "He says the tall one can..." Bloody Knife stopped and stared at Curly in disbelief.
Curly stared back at Bloody Knife and motioned with his hand for him to finish the translation.
"Out with it. What's gotten him so riled up?" the general asked.
"He says the tall one grabbed flying arrows out of the air."
"Nonsense!" the general replied. He stood up and walked around the table with his arms crossed over his chest, coming within an arm's distance of the two Indian scouts. As he regarded Curly, his right hand gently caressed his chin between his thumb and index finger. "This is all a bunch of rubbish! Women! I do have to commend your abilities of exaggeration though, Curly!" The General gave a curt bow with the vexed statement
Curly whispered one more concern to Bloody Knife who looked at the general with surprise. The general stared back, waiting for the next piece of what he anticipated would be worthless information.
"He tells me that these women... are white."
"White women in the Sioux camp? Now that, sir, is interesting news." The general walked back towards the table. "If this is true, then it is quite possible that the hostiles have captured these women and are holding them against their will. It is therefore, our duty to liberate them, is it not?"
"These women, they have chosen their place. They fight for the Sioux willingly," Bloody Knife pointed out.
"Then they will be captured and tried for treason," the general stated without hesitation. "Send this information with Curly to the advance garrison. They are to clear the hostiles from the scouted area, secure the apprehension of these women and meet back with us at a later designation."
"What about the arrows?" Bloody Knife reminded him.
"Balderdash," the general said, taking in Curly's tired appearance. "I'm sure he meant well. He's just...tired. It's been a long, hard ride for him. However, there is no time to rest. Be gone."
The Indians rose from their seats. A frustrated Curly made a hasty exit from the general's tent. Officers listening in on the conversation scattered as the Indian retreated. Bloody Knife watched as Curly's exasperated form hurried away.
"Bloody Knife!" the general called. The Indian scout stopped and turned, staring into the purposeful eyes of the general. "You've been a good friend and our best scout. Now is not the time for doubt to overtake your mind. We have not the time nor the luxury. We will drive out the hostiles. We will bring these traitors to justice and my honor will be rightfully restored. Soon, every newspaper will once again sing the praises of General George Armstrong Custer."
The Indian saluted his superior, turned and walked away, leaving the general staring at a void, his mind's eye conjuring up the image of his glorious return to battle--riding high as his troops easily dispatched a grossly overmatched opponent. His return to battle. His return to honor. His return to glory.
To Be Continued...
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