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Legal Disclaimer: All characters from the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess are the sole property of Universal/Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures. Xena and Gabrielle are used here for personal entertainment. I do however, claim total ownership of the story. :)

Violence Warning: Yep.. you bet.

Sexual Warning: If where you are, this sort of thing is illegal at your age, don't blame me.

Hurt/Discomfort Warning: Not much until Part Two. You won't find much comedy here though.

Author's Notes: My second attempt at Xena fanfic. This time, I've taken our favourite women and thrown them into another world. :) Let's see how they cope...

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Out of Time by Wolfsword  

Part One - Transfer

“COME ON!” shouted a tall woman, dressed in black, combat clothes, frantically shoving screaming children through a metal doorway. Sirens were blaring throughout the building, lights flashing on and off and creating more panic among everyone.

“We don’t have much time left!” screamed a young man, his blonde hair matted down with sweat, herding the last of the children towards the doorway.

“Behind you!” came a yell, as the man ducked and a red laser, shot past his head and into the chest of a guard a few metres behind him. He twisted his head, seeing the torso of the man being blown apart by the force. He looked up and grinned at the dark woman.

“Thanks, Xe,” he exclaimed.

“No sweat, Tag,” she replied, clipping her weapon against the side of her thigh again. “Is that all of them?”

Tag turned and looked down the narrow corridor as if checking. It wasn’t like he could see into the cells that branched off either side of it, but he did it anyway. “Yeah, I think so,” he responded, breathing heavily, watching the last child scramble through the doorway. “Let’s go. Who’s leading them out? Dalpin?”

Tag didn’t wait for an answer but stepped over the raised part of the door, his boots clanking on the metal-plated floor.

“Yeah, he shouldn’t have any problems. Ezi took out their power and shut most of the guards in. There’s only a few stragglers here and there,” she told him, quickly following him through the doorway. “And they won't last very long,” she added.

They began to run down the metal hallway, heading towards the exit, when suddenly Xe halted. Tag realised a second later that his Commander had stopped and he turned to ask what was wrong. He didn’t have to because he heard, himself the muffled echo of a child’s voice. Their eyes connected before they started to sprint back from where they had come from, only to see the doorway sliding shut, preventing them from reaching the child.

“NO!” yelled Tag, as he saw the woman hurl herself through the gap, the two sides snapping shut just as her feet cleared them.

The man slammed into the door, clawing at the opening and trying to force it apart. It was useless he realised as he pounded on the solid titanium.

“Shit!” he whispered to himself, as he turned and ran as fast as he could. As he raced along the passageway, he felt at his belt and pressed a button, causing a microphone and earpiece to materialize, attached to his ear.

“Homebase, Homebase. Do you hear me? Over,” he said, quickly. 

There was a crackle before a deep voice replied.

“This is Homebase. We hear you. Over.”

“Missing link. I say again, Missing link. Over.”

“Which one? Over.”

“Number one. Over.”

There was silence for a second.

“We got that. Get out, do you understand. Do not attempt anything. We’ll handle this. Over.”

Tag’s jaw twitched as he ran. “Understood. Over and out.”

He pressed the same button on his belt and the devices disappeared again.

We’ll handle this, he thought, angrily. Yeah right, like just another soldier lost in the line of duty. Not this time.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

The dark woman landed smoothly on the other side of the door, rolling and standing up, ready for any surprise attack. She turned her head sharply as she heard the dull thumps coming from behind the closed doors behind her. You’re one stupid female, Xena, she thought to herself. She squinted down the narrow metallic passageway, before unhooking her X-25 from her leg and pressing herself against the side of the hall. Stealthily she moved along it, her keen hearing picking up the weak shouts of a child. She knew it had been a foolish move to go back for the child, but she had reacted without thought and she knew in her heart it had been the right thing to do. After all, freeing these children was what her job was all about and by leaving even one behind, meant that she had failed. And failure wasn’t something Xena was accustomed to.

Swiftly, she checked the rooms in the corridor, finding them all empty, except for the dead bodies of the guards. As she reached the corner, she heard running footsteps and realised it was a section of guards, attempting to catch the Rebels. She darted into one of the rooms and waited for them. She knew from experience that Hunters travelled in groups of two or three and that they were armed with L-class Phasers, one of the most advanced weaponry the Daimons possessed. The Hunters’ jobs were to kill on the sight of any Rebels.

She heard them approaching and she flattened herself against the side of the entrance, ready to strike. She frowned as she thought she heard them halt just before her room and a few seconds of silence followed. Suddenly, Xena heard a click and her eyes widened as she saw a small black ball flying through the doorway and hitting the floor in front of her with a thump. Immediately she launched herself out of the room, as the explosive went off, shards of metal flying through the air as well. Through the smoke, she looked up to see two Hunters, dressed in the brown uniform of the Daimon complete with visors to keep out the smoke, advancing towards her.

She rolled backwards, standing up expecting to be blown apart by a phaser in the process. A bluish laser shot past the side of her face, missing her by a whisker. She reached down for her weapon to return fire, but was surprised to find it missing, realising she must have dropped it as she jumped out of the room. Quickly she pressed a button on her wrist, as a shield made of laser-proof material materialised in her left hand just as two laser beams blasted straight towards her body. The shots were reflected and lanced into the chests of the Hunters who had fired them. They crumpled to the floor, unmoving. Xena grinned, a feral smile on her face, as she looked at the remaining Hunter. Though the semi-transparent visor, Xena saw his face harden, then suddenly he threw a small star shaped object at her, which imbedded itself into the middle of Xena’s shield as she protected herself from it. At first nothing happened, then it began to glow red, and started to spread over the rest of the shield. Swiftly, Xena dropped it as it began to heat up and burn her hand.

“Now that wasn’t nice,” commented Xena, looking at the Hunter with burning blue eyes.

The Hunter tapped the side of his helmet and it disappeared, as he held his phaser aimed at Xena.

“Come with me,” he ordered.

“I don’t think so.”

She reached behind her, where she kept a thin coil of rope. Before he could react, one end of it had been wrapped around his ankle and with one sharp jerk, he fell, losing his grip on his weapon. In an instant, Xena was standing over the prone Hunter. She bent down and gripped his brown lapel.

“I happened to like that gadget and I don’t appreciate it when little shits like you destroy them!” she said, before knocking him out with a blow to the head.

She picked up his weapon and carried on down the passage. The screams of the child were getting louder now, and Xena quickened her pace, glancing into each room as she ran past. She recalled the layout of the building from their briefing earlier that day and she could not help but feel that something was amiss. It seemed like she was heading towards the Control Room, but what was a child doing there?

“Momma!”

Xena stopped and backtracked. She peered into the room, checking no guards were in there. She saw no one else, apart from a small boy, about two years old, sitting on the floor. She entered the room cautiously, looking around for traps. The boy had stopped crying and was staring at the tall woman.

“It's ok, kid. I’m taking you to freedom. You wont have to stay in this cage any longer. Here, take my hand,” Xena said to the boy, softly offering her hand to him 

The boy stared blankly at her, seeming not to understand. He was totally motionless now, and Xena frowned, wondering what was wrong. All of the children they had found so far couldn’t wait to get out of these places. Xena moved closer and decided to just carry the boy out, when suddenly she heard the metal doors sliding together and she turned to look just as they snapped shut.

“Shit,” she said to herself.

“Yes, you are in deep, aren’t you, Xena.”

Xena instantly turned her head back to where the boy had been sitting. She inhaled sharply and stared.

“Surpise, Commander,” a blonde haired woman said, sarcastically. The woman was crouched down next to the still boy, her arms around his shoulders. “How do you like my new creation? Very lifelike, isn’t it?” She smiled, evilly. “Can you imagine what I could do with an army of these children? Programmed with the instinct to kill, they can pass for refugee children and infiltrate your own camps and destroy them from the inside. Clever, right?”

Xena, as if suddenly waking from a dream, lifted her phaser and aimed it at the woman.

“Oh, go ahead, Xena,” laughed the woman, darkly.

Xena fired. And the woman kept laughing.

“What the…?” whispered Xena, as she saw the blue laser hit her chest, right at the heart, but nothing happened. It was as if she just absorbed the light.

“Do you think I’m stupid? Those Hunters were carrying duds. They’re just lights to fool you so you would be without a weapon when you came here.”

As she said the words, two doors in the wall behind her opened and a line of five soldiers trooped out from each, every one carrying an L-class phaser. Bet those are real, Xena thought. They came to stand on either side of her, weapons at the ready to fire at the slightest wrong move. The two front guards came forwards and manacled her wrists behind her back.

“What do you want with me, Tara? Why not just kill me?” Xena asked, calmly although inside she was boiling with fury.

“Oh, where would be the fun in that? No, I thought another punishment for the woman who’s ruined ten of my best facilities would be more fitting,” Taral sneered 

Xena’s eyes narrowed. Facilities? Is that what you call it? she thought, furiously. “I wouldn’t say I ruined them. You did that by yourself,” replied Xena, as she remembered that each of the buildings that the Resistance liberated, Darius melted down.

“I wouldn’t have had to do that if it weren’t for you and your band of rebels,” Taral retorted, standing up and advanced towards Xena.

“Call us what you will. But we fight for justice and liberty. Two things, which don’t even enter your vocabulary!”

“Oh, please. Spare me your preaching, and save it for people who care.”

“How can you not care?” exclaimed Xena, shaking her head. “Do you not understand what you’re doing?” She looked around at the black visors of Darius’ personal guard, seeing her reflection in each of them. “They’re children for Rion’s sake! You’re taking innocent blood! That is not right!”

Xena saw a few guards shift on their feet uncomfortably, under her piercing gaze. Suddenly, her jaw was grasped in an iron grip and her head twisted to face Taral, who now stood in front of her. “Shut up, or I’m going to have to spoil that beautiful face of yours.”

“What’s wrong, Taral? Afraid that one of your own might turn against you because they find a conscience?”

The slap resounded off the metal walls. “I warned you, bitch.”

Xena turned her head back to her, her eyes blazing with blue fire. She spat the blood that pooled in her mouth back at his face.

“Take her to her cell,” she ordered, as she wiped the blood from her face.

“You’re a monster. You don’t deserve to live,” Xena shouted as she was shoved towards the door.

“I’m not the one whose about to lose all semblance of life here!” she heard her call after her.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

“Get off me!”

“Quiet, bitch,” same a gruff voice as she was cast into her cell.

Two guards followed her in attaching metal bands to her wrists, ankles and neck. Not the magnet chamber, she thought, ironically. The Daimons had obviously copied the Resistance’s method of restraint, but what Xena found ridiculous was the fact that she had designed it. Imprisoned by my own invention.

The guards exited, the door closing by itself and Xena waited. She felt it coming as she felt the buzz in her metal bands and braced herself. The magnets were turned on and she flew against the wall, suspended about a metre off the ground. The impact winded her and she gasped for breath, as she hung limply by her wrists. They had duplicated the chamber perfectly. It was designed to intimidate and inflict slow pain on the prisoner. The person had no way of preventing the metal bands cutting into their skin, but a person could last for weeks in the chamber, in lingering anguish, their whole weight supported only by their wrists.

Xena closed her eyes against the sudden pain. She drifted in and out of consciousness, wondering how long she had been there. Abruptly, she was woken by a voice in the room.

“Xena, how are you feeling?” The mockery in Taral’s voice was evident. Xena opened her eyes and looked around, but she was speaking on intercom. She closed them again, not wanting to waste her strength by answering. “No no, Commander. I want you to watch something. I think you’ll enjoy it.”

The laughter was cut off abruptly as the intercom was switched off. In front of her, a screen emerged. On it, she could see a figure of a young, blonde man running down a corridor. It was like watching it through the eyes of a camera, no sound and in black and white. She watched as he spoke to someone on a microphone attached to his ear then increase his pace as he finished. She swallowed as she tried to quell her rising fear. She looked as he came to a T-junction.

Go right, right, right, please go right! her mind screamed.

Her heart lurched as she saw the young man unhook his X-25 and head into the left corridor. The camera switched and she saw clearly the face of her younger brother, Tagon, running full speed down the passage towards the Control Room. Xena felt her breathing rate increase, as she saw her brother heading into certain death.

“No,” she whispered.

The camera cut again and she was looking at a group of Hunters, five of them, waiting for Tagon around the corner. As he came hurtling around the bend, he skidded to a halt and stared at the section of Hunters. For a split second, Xena felt the bond between them as he looked up into the camera, realisation appearing in his eyes. Then with a roar of “For Freedom!!!” he charged the Hunters, who opened fire, blue lasers punching through his torso, even as he kept on attacking them. He took out three before he finally collapsed.

Tears ran down Xena’s face as she forced herself to witness her brother’s death, promising that it wouldn’t be forgotten. Tagon’s blood dripped down the metal walls, leaving reddish-yellow stains behind them, while his body lay in a lake of red, his hand still clutching his weapon.

“A warrior to the end,” she whispered a childhood phrase that they had.

The screen went black and merged into the wall again. Xena hung her head, her insides in turmoil, and her mind blank. Her grief was cut short as the door opened and Taral stepped into the room. Sorrow and heartache was replaced by hate and vengeance as she looked at the small woman through red eyes.

“I do hope you enjoyed our little show. We made it especially for you, our guest." Xena’s jaw clenched, as she strained against her bands, even though she knew it was useless. “Oh dear, I think we have an unhappy customer.”

All the emotion that Xena had been keeping inside exploded in a volcanic scream that reverberated around the room, echoing down the hallways throughout the building. Taral simply stood by the door, waiting until Xena had finished, before summoning a guard.

“Bring in the sedative.”

The man walked in carrying a long syringe, filled with a clear liquid. He squirted some to release the air bubbles then injected into a struggling Xena. After a few seconds, her eyelids began to close and her whole body went limp 

“Take her down and bring her to the Test room.” It was the last thing Xena heard before losing all consciousness and falling into a dreamless sleep.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Xena slowly came to in a white room. She flicked her eyes around from where she was lying on the bed, seeing a few people walking around in white lab coats. Her head, wrists and ankles were still restrained but this time onto the bed she was on. Where in Rion’s name am I? she wondered. Suddenly, the events of the past day came rushing back to her and the vision of Tagon’s death burned into her mind forever. She shut her eyes, but still the image haunted her. To her left she heard a female voice talking to someone.

“She’s awake.”

“Good. I’ll be there soon,” came the reply.

She struggled to recognise the voice. At Homebase, they had voice recordings of all the central persons in the Daimon and some had pictures to go with it. All soldiers in the Elite were required to learn the history and personality of these people in case they ever came into contact with them while undercover. Xena had been one of the Elite and now her training was to be put to a different use. She had to find out what it was that the Daimons wanted her for. It couldn’t all be down to revenge or the other two leaders wouldn’t have agreed with Taral, Xena was sure. Taral. Now there was a character that Xena knew a lot about. She didn’t even want to think about what Earth would be like if she had sole control. Ruthless, calculating and a cold-blooded murderer, Taral was perfect in her role as co-leader of the Daimons. Sometimes the only thing that kept her in check were the other two leaders, Raidon and Forlan. She was manipulative and cunning, using her unquestionable attractiveness as a weapon that she wielded magnificently. She was brought out of her thoughts by the woman’s voice she had heard before.

“Professor Chenkor will see you in a minute.”

Xena remembered thinking that the statement was unnecessary. She was going nowhere. Chenkor. Of course, the scientific genius of his time. It seemed that the technological gene had been passed down to this man from his grandfather. Too bad his grandfather didn’t have any morals, or none of this would have happened, she thought.

She felt her bed being rotated so that she was in a vertical position. She now had full view of the room she was in. She wondered if she was still in the same building, because there was no titanium to be seen on the walls, which was typical of the Daimons. Titanium was seen to be the only material that should be used.

There was no one else in the room, apart from the woman who had spoken to her a few minutes ago. She was quite tall and had flaming red hair, which struck Xena as being very unusual because that had become very rare after the Happening. In her whole lifetime, she had only known of one person, with the so called ‘red-strain’ and that was her grandmother. She must have been staring, because the woman began to speak.

“Unless you want me to blindfold you as well, would you please stop analysing me.”

Xena looked away.

“I’m…”

She stopped, as her voice gave in, from dryness. The woman took a plastic cup and went over to the wall where a water dispenser materialised as she pressed a button. Coming over to Xena, she held the cup while she drank.

“Thanks,” said Xena.

“You’re welcome,” the woman replied, looking at Xena.

At that point, a white haired man entered the room, causing both women to turn and look.

“Everything alright?” Chenkor asked, suspiciously.

“Yes, Professor,” replied the woman, moving away from the bed.

Xena’s eyes followed her, before turning her attention to the man. Her eyes grew cold as she detected the callousness in him. From reports, everything pointed to a man with a stone heart, caring for nothing but himself and his inventions. She could tell now, that it was probably true.

He held a portable electronic notepad in his left hand, pushing buttons as he walked closer to Xena. “Your date of birth and rank.”

It was an order, not a question. Xena’s eyes narrowed. “Why should I tell you? Anyway, you ought to know for yourselves.”

Xena saw Chenkor halt mid-press and look up from his notepad, staring at Xena. “Of course we know,” he snapped, wanting to preserve his pride. “Just answer yes or no.”

He looked down at his notes again.

“Name: Xena Gabri

Born: Old England, February 10th 2175

Age: 25.

Mother: Cyrene, Deceased

Father: Classified, Deceased

Brother: Tagon, erm, Deceased

Rank: Commander….

Xena listened to him as he rattled off facts about her, her mouth curling slightly as she heard her Mother’s maiden name used as her surname and that her Father’s name was classified. Figures, she thought. They weren’t about to let it be open information that Xena Gabri’s father had moved in the inner circles of the Daimons. She lost her smile though as she noticed the slight pause as he came to her brother.

Chenkor looked up at her, expecting a response. When she kept silent, he blew out a breath, frustratedly.

“Fine, I’ll take your silence as it’s true.”

He walked over to the red haired woman and spoke to her quietly, as she went over to a computer.

“Now I need to ask you a few questions,” he said to Xena, as she was losing patience.

“Look, I don’t see why you’re asking me. Why do you wanna know? What’s it for? And why can’t you find out on your damn own?!”

“I can see, we’re getting nowhere with this. I’ll come back later, when you’ve calmed down a bit,” he replied, stiffly turning to the woman. “Sedate her.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, as Chenkor strode out of the room, the doors sliding shut after him.

Xena watched as the young woman first lowered her bed to a horizontal position again and then filled a syringe and walked towards her.

“Is that really necessary? There’s no camera in here.”

“It’s my orders,” replied the woman, tapping the syringe to bring the air to the surface.

“And you always follow them, right?” said Xena sarcastically, gauging her response.

The woman’s eyes flicked up from the needle to the Commander, a flare of defiance evident in her brown eyes.

“If I don’t, people die.”

Xena’s dark eyebrows came together in slight confusion. “You’re a Fence?” Xena asked after a pause. Fences were people captured and forced to work for the Daimons under the threat of killing their loved ones.

“Yes,” she replied, quietly.

“Who do they have?”

“My younger sister and my parents.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Why did they want you?”

“Because I’m good with computers. Science is also one of my strong points,” she responded, bitterly.

“They want you as a Techno?” Xena asked, “Don’t they have enough? What do they want from you?”

“I don’t know,” said the woman, shrugging sadly. She sat down on a chair next to the bed. “A couple of friends and I were working on some displacement experiment and I guess the Daimons got wind of it. The next thing we knew, Detainers were trouping through the village and took myself and my friends and all of our immediate families. We had no idea what was happening until we were dropped off at this facility and put into cells. None of us realised the real situation, not until one of my friends said he didn’t want to be here anymore. He punched one of the guards. The next morning, we were hauled out and brought into a yard.  My friend, the one who had spoken out, and his family were lined up against a wall.”

The woman paused for a second, taking a deep breath. She wondered why she was telling this to a Commander of the Rebels, someone who she had never even met before.

“They forced us to watch them murder him. Five seconds was all it took, and then we were shoved back into the cells. The two of us that were left said nothing else after that. I guess it was a day later, they took myself and my friend, Eden, out and questioned us separately about our experiment. I explained it was a simple test, that we meant nothing by it and we would halt the experiment if they wanted. They asked who came up with the theory and I said all three of us worked on it, but I didn’t say anything more.

Later that day, when we were back in our cells, some Escorters came. They took my friend and her family out. Eden looked back at me, and I could see tears in her eyes. Then she mouthed, Sorry, to me. I didn’t know what she meant, but I found out soon enough. They took me here, told me that Eden had made it clear that I was the brains behind the experiment, so they were keeping me, as a Fence, as you call it.”

She looked up at Xena from where she was sitting, her eyes glistening with unshed tears.

“Gods,” Xena breathed. “How… how long have you been here?”

“Two years, I think.” She shook her head. “It's difficult to keep track of time in here.”

“Do you ever get to see your…?”

“No, my day is simple. Released from my single cell, escorted here, escorted back when everything is done for the day. I don’t even know if they’re still alive,” she said, sadly. “But I have to keep doing it, in case they are.”

Xena nodded, her gaze meeting the young woman’s.

“You’re very brave,” she said, earnestly. “I think your family would be proud. Never lose hope, otherwise all is lost.”

The girl gave a small smile. “You give us hope. With every step you take, you come closer to freeing our world. It’s what keeps everyone going I think.” Xena didn't know what to say. Suddenly, the girl took a deep breath and looked straight at Xena, as if realising something. “I want to help you. Help you… escape.”

“Well, I don’t really think there’s much you can do. Every soldier who’s ever been captured, never sees sunlight again,” Xena said, wryly.

“I know that, but you said yourself, never lose hope or all is lost. 

Xena cocked her head to one side and sighed. “I did say that, didn’t I? Okay, tell me, what are you working on? It might be useful. Didn’t you say something about displacement?”

In her heart, Xena knew it was totally hopeless to attempt an escape. But she had to keep up the pretence for this young woman. She needed to know that there was always a chance, otherwise Xena knew the young woman would die inside.

“Yeah, the displacement of Time.”

“Time?”

“Yes, time travel was what my experiment was about. We tried to send an object back five minutes in time. It was complicated but if it was possible, I would remember the object materialising five minutes ago.”

“Did it work?” asked Xena, not wanting to go into the details of it. Science and her did not gel.

“Partly. We succeeded, but the object materialised at the wrong time, a day previous and it only materialised ¾ of the object.”

“So, the Daimons are trying to be mess with Time, eh? That’s not good news.”

“No it's not.”

“What stage are they at now?”

“They’ve just successfully completed an experiment sending a weapon back a day." The woman looked unhappily at Xena.

“What?” asked the Commander, anxiously.

“Next, they’re going to try a Human." Xena stared at the Tech.

“You mean, that’s why they want me? I’m the human they’re gonna test?”

Xena didn’t need an answer. She read it in the woman’s eyes. “Shit,” was all she could say, closing her eyes against the thought. "Why do they want me?"

"We found that inanimate objects had no problems going through, but when they tried animals, most didn't work. It was found that a certain chemical was needed in the body that would naturally combat the stress of the journey. You are the only one so far that we've found that has this type of chemical." The redhead woman glanced up at the door quickly. “I should be going. They’ll be expecting me,” she sighed. “I won’t sedate you, but try and get some sleep, okay. I should be back a bit later to check on you.” She gave a small smile to the Commander, turning to go to the door.

“Wait,” Xena started, laughing slightly. “I… don’t even know your name.”

“Avel,” she whispered, as she pushed the button to alert the guard to escort her back.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

She was running. She was in a long, narrow corridor. Other corridors branched off at either side, leading to more corridors. Still she ran. In front of her, appeared a small boy, ten summers or so.

“Why, Xe?” he said, as he began to run next to her.

“I don’t understand.”

“Why did you let them kill me?” The voice sounded so close to her ears.

“NO! I didn’t. I couldn’t…” she couldn’t finish.

“You left me, why did you leave me?” The voice was growing in power and volume.

“I…”

“You were supposed to protect me!!!”

Xena opened her eyes, a tear slowly making its way down the side of her face.

“I’m so sorry, Tagon,” she breathed.

A face appeared above her and a light shone in her eye. “She appears to be in good health. Very good, in fact. She meets all the requirements. I would say you’ve found yourself the perfect specimen, sir.”

Xena struggled to turn her head away from the light, but found that her head had been secured tightly, restricting all movement. Specimen? I’ll be damned if I let them use me as a rat, she thought, furiously. The face disappeared, only to be replaced by the sneering features of Taral.

“Well now, Xena. You’ll be going on a short trip soon.”

Xena saw Taral jerk her head at someone, then felt her bed rising so she was in a half sitting position.

“Isn’t that better, Commander?” She rubbed her chin, thoughtfully. “I wonder, Xena, just how much do you, Rebels know about the activities of the Daimons?” Xena was silent. “Well, I’ll tell you something. We have just learnt to control the fabric of Time, my dear Commander. As yet, we haven’t sent a human through.” Her eyes flicked to Xena. “But we’ll know soon enough if it is,” she paused, dramatically “or isn’t, possible.” She laughed, maliciously, as Xena glared at her with blue fire. “Yes, it’s the perfect punishment for you. Not only will you be helping the Daimon cause, but you will be under my control.”

“Never,” spat Xena.

“Oh, I think you’ll come around. Once you find out the terms.”

“Nothing you say to me, or do to me, will ever make me help you. You can count on it.”

“Hm, how noble. But what if it wasn’t you that would be hurt if you didn’t accomplish this mission? What if it was an entire village of people, a whole nation? What would you do then, O Gracious Commander?”

Xena was silent again, swallowing a lump of dread, that settled in her stomach as a cloud of unease. Taral smiled unkindly at her obvious distress. “That’s good. I’m glad we understand one another. Now, Doctor Chenkor has had a bad day, finding out the information about you the more conventional way, instead of having a willing patient. I’m sure he will find you more… cooperative, shall we say?”

“You wouldn’t dare murder an entire nation just because I won’t conform to your rules,” Xena barked as she turned to leave.

She came back, and leaned over her bed, bringing her face inches from hers. “Just try me.”

She left then, Doctor Chenkor taking her place. Her bed was levitated to a vertical position again for questioning.

“Do you have any allergies?"

Xena could hear the frustration in his voice. Obviously he had been trying his best to hack into the Resistance’s records and it hadn’t paid off. Ezi, my friend, you did good, she thought, picturing the smug look of the computer whiz she knew so well.

“No,” she replied stubbornly, after a length of time.

“Any deficiencies?”

“No.”

“Do you have a history of Metalfusion in your family’s blood?”

Afraid it will disrupt your precious time portal? she wondered, absently. Metalfusion was a biological war weapon, created by the previous generations using Robium. Its purpose was to generate an imbalance in the body, causing severe consequences, sometimes even resulting in death. Millions had perished. Those that had not, passed on the mutated gene down to their children, which lay dormant until something triggered the effect. Sometimes it only took something as simple as cutting a hand on a metal object and the danger was that it could not be detected until the symptoms were well advanced, and then it was too late.

“No.”

“Are you sure?” The doctor’s tone was demanding.

“I’m sure. Unless my parents count of course.”

“What do you mean? Did they have the condition?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think people who had their throats cut could tell you. They were sliced with titanium, but I guess they died before the symptoms could manifest themselves. So you tell me, Doctor. Or better still ask Taral, she might have heard them say something or maybe she was too busy killing the rest of my village.” All the while, Xena’s voice was rising until she was literally shouting at the man.

“Have you had any injuries?” Chenkor ignored the outburst.

Xena took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. “Are we talking physically? Or mentally too?” she said, sarcastically.

“Physically,” responded the man, calmly.

“Laser burns on all limbs, broken leg, dislocated shoulder,” she stated, “Tell me, Chenkor, why the questions? It's not like you really care.”

“I need to establish whether you are capable for your mission,” he replied, as he tapped on his notepad.

“And what is this mission that everyone is talking about?”

At that point, a soft crackle could be heard and Chenkor reached up and pressed an earpiece further into his ear. A small nod was the only indication of what was said to him. Chenkor looked up at Xena.

“I think you’ll be getting an answer to that question very soon,” he said, tersely as he headed towards the doorway.

Xena sighed loudly as she was once more moved to a horizontal position. She closed her eyes, thinking back to her home village. The day that had put her on her path to bloodshed. Taral and a section of her soldiers had swept into her village, burning and destroying, killing everyone in their path. No reason was ever given, but then that was usual for the Daimons. She, aged ten and her brother, aged eight, had been in the barn, playing. The sounds of fighting and the screams had alerted the two, who had stayed hidden in the barn. The shouting and screaming had come nearer and the door of the barn was flung open, their parents running in, closely followed by Taral and three guards. Cornered, her parents had clung to each other, defenceless and weaponless. Signalling to the men behind her, Taral had ordered one guard to hold each one. Moving towards their mother, Xena and Tagon had watched as a young Taral drew a short knife, taunting her father.

“You’ll watch as I kill your wife, and when I find those two brats of yours, you’ll watch them die by my hand as well.”

“No, please. Leave my family alone. It’s me you want. Take me; just leave my wife and kids alone.”

“No, I want you to suffer.”

As she said that, Taral had begun slicing Cyrene, Xena’s mother, making deliberately shallow cuts in her arms. Her father had started screaming and straining against his captor, but he was no match. High up in the barn, Xena had prevented Tagon from observing the scene but she looked on, powerless to do anything. Xena had been boiling with rage, and only the thought that she had to keep Tagon safe stopped her from doing anything rash.

Xena’s father was on his knees now, begging for Taral to stop. Taral turned and looked at him, smiling victoriously. Then she sliced the throat of Cyrene, eliciting a roar from him. He reared up suddenly, taking his captor off-guard. He rushed Taral, who couldn’t avoid his lunge in time. He sent them both spiralling to the ground, Taral under him. For a brief moment, Xena thought that her father had killed Taral, but it wasn’t to be. She saw Taral, then only a captain, shove her father’s motionless body off her, the knife jutting out of his chest, buried to the hilt.

Xena looked on, silently swearing she would have her revenge, as Taral ordered the guards out of the barn. When they had left, Taral stood over Xena’s father, pulling out her dagger and wiping it on his shirt.

“You earned it, Traitor,” Xena heard her whisper.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

“Wake up, Xena.”

Xena heard a voice close to her ear, whispering urgently. “Xena. I have to talk to you. They’re coming soon. I don’t have much time. Wake up!”

“Avel?” Xena managed, rousing herself and looking at the young face above hers.

“Yes. They’re about to come and brief you on your mission, then send you through.”

“Who? Send me…?” Xena was still groggy from sleep and only now was her brain reminding her where she was.

“I know what they’re planning to do now. And I can't allow it to happen.”

“What is it, Avel?”

“They’re going to send you back 20 years. They’re going to give you a package, containing all the information they have right now.”

Xena’s brow furrowed. “20 years? That would be…”

“Yeah, just before they defeated the Argons,” finished Avel. The Argons had been the last opposing faction against the Daimons. “They want you to deliver it to Darius. You remember him? The previous leader of the Daimons.”

“In the name of Rion, they’ll be unstoppable,” breathed Xena. “I can’t do it. Millions more will die if I do as they want me to.”

“But nations will perish if you don’t.”

“Then what do you expect me to do?” snapped Xena. “If I don’t they’ll cut off the supplies to any realm they want, and Rion knows they can do that. If I complete the mission, the Daimons will have a 20-year advance on the technology of the other groups. The others won’t stand a chance.” Xena swallowed. “They’ll all be annihilated. All because of me.”

“No,” Avel said, quietly.

“What?” said Xena, staring at the young girl.

The red-haired girl took a breath. “I… have a plan. I don’t know if it’ll work, but…”

“Tell me.”

Quickly, Avel outlined the idea to Xena, biting her lip when she had finished, waiting for her response. Xena thought about it carefully, weighing up the dangers. After a short while, she met the young girl’s brown eyes. “I think it could work. If it does, it would be a damn side better than our two options before.”

Just then, the doors slid open and Chenkor flanked by four Escorters trooped into the room. Avel stood back from the bed, allowing the Doctor space to talk to the restrained Commander.

“You will come quietly, or I’ll have to sedate you,” he stated, as he motioned for two guards to release her.

Quickly, the men unlocked the metal bands, one of them roughly pulling Xena off the bed. She stumbled slightly, her legs buckling from weakness and her head spinning from lying down for so long. Immediately, Avel was at Xena’s side, helping her to stand.

“Get away from her, girl,” came Chenkor’s harsh voice.

Avel glared at him, not letting go of the faint woman. “She needs help. There’s no way she’ll be able to walk by herself.”

Chenkor’s eyes grew even colder. “Well, since you seem to care so much, you can help her to Taral’s office.” He nodded his head to the guards and they swiftly surrounded the two women. “What are you waiting for? Get moving!”

They were lead through the corridors of the building, moving at a slow pace.

“He’ll punish you for that, you know,” murmured Xena, as she fought the after effects of the sedatives she had been given.

“I know. But I figured you could use the company,” smiled the girl.

“Thanks,” said Xena, as she began to feel her head clear.

Suddenly they halted outside a door and one of the guards grabbed the young girl, while another shoved Xena into the room.

No, thank you Commander, thought Avel, as she was marched back to her own quarters. Before Xena had been captured and brought into her life, she had been ready to break. The endless orders, the gnawing anguish of not knowing if her family were well or even alive, the knowledge that everything she was doing was to murder innocent lives, was getting too much for the seventeen year old to bear. Then the Commander had been brought in. Freedom. That was what she stood for, and it was well known that Resistance Elite could inspire hope and dreams in the people around them. It was a defining characteristic in them. Avel had never met one before, and now that she had, she understood. She understood why there were stories about them, because they were true. At least, they were about Xena. She turned her head to look at the door where the guards had forced Xena in. I won’t let you down, Commander.

Xena on the other hand, wasn’t feeling very good. Her head felt like it was ready to explode and she tried to swallow the nauseating feeling she had in her stomach. Outwardly however, she showed no sign of her weakness, other than taking deep breaths. The guards had sent her in, only to be picked up by another guard inside, who sat her down in a chair in front of a long desk. Then he had left, leaving her by herself in the room.

Xena looked around, noting there were no cameras again. In fact there was nothing in the room, apart from the chair and the desk with three other chairs behind it. Even the desk was clear. Not leaving it to chance that I’ll find a weapon, eh Taral, she thought wryly. She looked down on herself, seeing that her Resistance black uniform had been exchanged for a bright orange jumpsuit, with the Daimon insignia of a hand enclosing an image of the globe, stamped above her left breast. Nice, not wanting me to be recognised as a criminal, I see, she thought sarcastically.

She looked up as two men entered the room, closely followed by Taral. It still amazed Xena at how the petite, blonde woman could have risen so far up the Daimon ranks. Her face was impassive as she watched the two men take their seats either side of the table. There was no mistaking the thin, hawk-like face of Raidon and the broad, flat face of Forlan. Taral seated herself in between the two men, sliding an electronic notepad across the smooth surface of the table towards Xena. The Commander stopped it from flying off the desk with her hand, looking at Taral intently. Neither woman moved or broke the stare and the other two leaders in the room swallowed, feeling the tension in the room. The look in Taral’s eyes was almost mocking, but underlying that was a current of loathing for the dark woman sitting opposite her. Xena’s gaze was of pure hatred for the woman who had murdered her entire family and friends.

Eventually, the silence was broken by Forlan clearing his throat and the stare was broken when Xena looked down at the notepad. The relief was evident on the two men’s faces. The last thing they needed was the Resistance Commander and Taral to tear each other’s hearts out, especially when there was no guard in the room. They knew about the skill that this particular Commander had in fighting, and to be honest, they didn’t want a personal demonstration.

Xena was skimming the brief orders on the notepad, shaking her head slowly. They cannot be serious. It’ll never work, and even if it does, the future they create may not be what they expect, she thought. She flicked her eyes up to each of the Daimon leaders.

“Why must I do this? Isn’t this a job for one of your own?” she asked, skeptically.

Forlan sat forward, resting his clasped hand on the desk. “We had to meet certain… requirements. We couldn’t find someone suitable for the task, that is, until we found you.” It was obvious he was uncomfortable explaining that the Daimons, the great conquerors of the world, had difficulty finding a candidate from their own ranks.

“So let me get this straight. You are going to send me through that time portal of yours, that you’ve only just managed to discover. You’ve never attempted this before, you don’t know where I’ll end up, you don’t even know if I’ll end up there alive, and then you want me to go and pay a visit to Darius, giving him 20 years worth of technology, just so he can get rid of the competition early?”

Forlan and Raidon looked at each other over Taral, who was sitting back, keenly watching her from her chair.

“More or less, yes,” Forlan answered.

“And you will,” stated Taral, with certainty. “Because if you don’t, we’ll know, because nothing will have changed here in 2202. If nothing changes in one month, your Resistance Homebase will be destroyed, by any means possible.”

“You have no idea where Homebase is,” retorted Xena.

“You misunderstand me, dear Commander. I said by any means possible and we know it is somewhere in Europa.” Taral let this information sink in. “Their deaths, will be in your hands, so I suggest you take this mission, complete it, and everyone will be happier." 

Xena was shocked, but her face was stoic. They would destroy the whole of Europa, just to destroy the Homebase of the Resistance? she thought, disbelieving.

“What if I don’t make the trip? What if something happens and I don’t materialise?” she heard herself ask.

Raidon spoke up. “Our scans will record that the Transfer was not successful.”

“You don’t really leave me much choice,” Xena said, her voice accusing

”Prisoners of War have no choices,” replied Taral, her emerald eyes glinting as she smiled her victory over her rival.

The leaders of the Daimon rose from their seats, Raidon speaking. “Come with us now. You will be clothed in the uniform of a Daimon Major to allow you safe access into Darius’ compound.”

Taral laughed scornfully as she saw the faintest look of revulsion flash across the Resistance Leader’s face. “Maybe the Commander would like the uniform of a General instead.”

She was pushed out another door, the Daimon leaders following, into a lift.

“Equipment,” ordered Forlan as the lift began to move.

Seconds later, she was shoved out again where two guards grabbed her roughly by the arms and took her over to a table, where a body suit with short sleeves and trouser combats of black Daimon clothing lay. A pair of strong black boots she recognised as her own were also on the table.

“Put these on,” one of them ordered.

Xena looked at them, but when they didn’t move, she sighed, realising that she would have no privacy. Swiftly she stripped, aware of the leaders’ eyes on her from behind, and slipped into the uniform. It fit perfectly, the material hugging her skin but not hindering her movement. She also knew, that although the fabric was thin to the eye, it was strong and would prevent knife slashes from harming her.

“Jerkin,” said the guard.

Xena looked as she saw a sleeveless, black jerkin materialise on the table. She looked at the shoulder guards, seeing the five lines that curved over each one, indicating the position of General. She shot a look over her shoulder, only to see a smug look on Taral’s face. She also noticed short daggers situated on the inside of the jerkin.

“Put it on,” said the guard, impatiently.

Xena turned on him, seizing him by the neck with her hand and lifting him a good ten centimetres off the ground. “Don’t you ever tell me what to do,” she hissed.

The other guard, taken by surprise, came to his senses and began fumbling around with his weapon. He was, however, too slow and Xena grabbed the weapon out of his holster and aimed it at the panicked guard.

Behind them, watching the scene calmly, Taral turned to Forlan. “It would seem the drugs are wearing off the Commander.” She turned back to face her defiant prisoner. “Put… him and the weapon down, Xena.”

A sharp look over her shoulder, and the look of wrath in Xena’s eyes told Taral she would have to take things further.

“I say again, Xena, and I won’t say it again. Put them down or I’ll make sure all of Europa burns in Hell.”

Xena clenched her jaw and looked up at the ceiling, willing herself to calm down. She blew out a breath in frustration and tossed the guard against the wall, knocking him unconscious. She turned to the other guard, who was so frightened, he couldn’t move. She flipped the weapon around in her hand and pushed it back into his holster, then curling her left hand into a fist she punched his jaw. With a sickening crack, he crumpled to the floor, unmoving. Swiftly she picked up the jerkin and swung it over her head, slipping her arms through the holes. She turned around to face the leaders, as she leaned back on the table, crossing her arms.

Forlan licked his lips nervously, avoiding the seething Resistance Commander’s gaze. Raidon was looking down at his boots, scratching his neck absently, while Taral began to move towards the taller woman.

“Nice display, Xena,” she said, waving her hand at the two fallen guards. “But you just remember who’s in charge here.” Her last words were spoken quietly, so that only Xena could hear them.

Taral was now standing toe to toe with Xena, her green gaze burning into the dark woman’s. Xena looked away defiantly, her jaw twitching. She missed the once over that Taral gave her, the Daimon leader noting the strength in her arms, her muscles standing out in stark relief. Taral’s gaze travelled down the Commander’s body, approving of the well-toned torso and legs, capable of killing a person with ease. She looked up at her face, admiring the beauty she found there, as Xena returned her gaze. She looked past the dark woman to the table.

“X-25,” she ordered. She saw the quick look of surprise on Xena’s face, before it was hidden behind her mask. “You’re going to explain this weapon to Darius and give him the design plans,” she explained. “That shouldn’t be too hard.” She looked hard at the Commander. “Since you were the one to invent it.”

Xena turned to look at her weapon. She reached out her hand to retrieve it, but was stopped by Taral’s smaller hand. Xena glanced at her, then at her hand, which was held captive, and then back to Taral again. The blonde woman placed Xena’s hand on the edge of the table then released it.

“Not yet, Commander,” she said, as she took hold of the X-25 herself. “Let’s go.” She motioned for Xena to walk in front towards the lift again.

Reluctantly, Xena turned and saw that the two men were already inside the lift. Slowly she walked into the lift to join them, the doors sliding shut after Taral.

“Transfer room.”

“You don’t waste time do you?” commented Xena, as realised that she was making her trip now.

“No, but you're about to. Twenty years of it.”

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

This is your time machine?” Xena asked, disbelief written all over her face, as she looked down at a small blue disc, about five metres away from her, the size of her thumb, on the floor.

It was situated on a polished metal square about a metre in width and length. She had been taken to the Transfer room, and had been kitted out with all sorts of gadgets. They had placed a patch over her heart to record her life signs as she passed through the portal, which they said she could remove when she ‘landed’. Last minute medical checks were being carried out on her as the Techs in the room rushed about the room in what seemed to Xena like disorder. As she sat on the table, she looked about the large room, searching out a familiar face. Her gaze met Avel’s in silent understanding, just as Chenkor reached Xena.

“Open your mouth.”

“What now?” asked Xena, irritated.

“Just do it.” Xena gave him a cold look. “Okay fine, swallow this.” He held up a small red capsule.

“What is it?” asked Xena suspiciously.

“It’s to help regulate your bodily functions. It might make your journey safer and it could make the difference between you ending up as a pile of glue or a bag of bones,” he said, annoyed, as Xena took the capsule and swallowed it reluctantly. Immediately she felt light-headed, and she grabbed Chenkor by his collar, among other things, to prevent her from falling off the table.

“What have you done to me?” she managed.

“Relax, it’s only temporary. Your body’s just getting used to it.” As soon as he said the words, she began to feel much stronger, better than she had done in years.

As she released the doctor, he looked down at his notepad, checking her vital signs. “Here. There’s about ten more of those in this.” He gave her a flat, black pouch before walking away again. She unfastened her jerkin and deposited the pouch in one of the many hidden compartments.

Xena shook her head and wondered what was in the capsule, feeling she could run 100 laps around the building right now. Even her senses, which were usually exceptional anyway, felt heightened. She began to get the feeling that the room was quieting down, and coming back to some sort of order. She glanced up, first at the young redhead, giving her an almost imperceptible wink of approval before turning her attention to Taral, who was coming towards her.

“Ready, Commander?” Taral said, barely concealing her excitement.

Xena shrugged one shoulder. “Wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t now, would it?”

“Probably not.” She looked at Xena, thoughtfully. “Start up the Transfer,” she ordered, never breaking her gaze.

A man sitting at the console next to Avel pushed a few buttons. Immediately Xena heard a whirring noise and she watched as the blue disc began spinning. After a few seconds the spinning had created a whirlwind, but Xena noticed that nothing in the room was disturbed by it.

“Switch on the transformer.”

The man pushed more buttons, and a crackling could be heard. Suddenly from each corner of the metal plate came a spear of lightening, which connected with the whirlwind. It seemed to become charged with energy and it increased its pace until it wasn’t possible to see it spinning. It was almost clear and now no noise could be heard.

“Set the time.”

Xena’s gaze flicked quickly to Avel who was busy tapping in information at her console. She watched as the nervous girl swallowed hard and took a deep breath. She looked up, barely glancing at Xena, to Taral.

“Done, Sir.”

Taral smiled triumphantly. “Well, guess it's time. There’s just one last thing,” she said, thrusting a small flat envelope into Xena’s hand. “This contains a micro disc. It’s compatible with the old technology that they have there. Make sure you put this in Darius’ hands and his hands only. Is that clear?”

“Crystal,” replied Xena, returning the steely gaze. She pocketed the package into an inner compartment in her jerkin.

“Good.” Xena thought she saw a strange look pass over Taral’s face momentarily, before she spoke again. “Send the weapon through.”

A guard took the X-25 from Taral and stepped carefully towards the portal. When he got to within a metre, he turned and looked to Taral for approval. She nodded in return and the guard swung his arm back and tossed the weapon straight into the whirlwind. Upon touching the portal, the laser gun seemed to disintegrate and then it was gone.

“Successful transfer, sir,” reported the Tech next to Avel.

“Your turn,” said Taral. “Give my regards to Darius.”

Xena slid off the table, advancing slowly towards the portal.

“Hang on a minute, sir.”

“What is it, Jibs?” asked Taral, impatiently. Xena had stopped a few metres away from the whirlwind.

“I don’t really know. It's just… the readings for the X-25 are ten times as high as they should be.” He moved to Avel’s console, pushing her out of his way, frowning at first and then shock registering on his face. “It’s gone back 200 years! Not 20!”

He began to tap on the console, frantically. Suddenly, he was thrown to the floor by the weight of Avel, who had grabbed him.

“GO!” shouted Avel to Xena, as she grappled with Jibs. In that split second Xena roused herself and a look of understanding passed between them. Their plan had worked. Suddenly, two strong arms grabbed her from behind, but she bent her knees and twisted her body, bringing her leg around, her boot cracking against the side of the guard’s head, who released her instantly.

“Shut it down!” yelled Taral, rushing towards the consoles. “Restrain the prisoner!”

The doors slid open, five guards rushing in to restore order. They began to open fire on Xena, but all missed and smashed into the portal instead. One laser reflected off and shot into the back of a console, causing it to explode in the face of a young Tech.

“Stop your firing, you idiots!” screamed Taral, rapidly trying to fix the time portal. “You’ll damage the Transfer unit!”

The guards threw down their weapons and charged the disruptive captive, drawing short titanium daggers. Xena watched them advance, without fear. There was a reason why she was Resistance Elite. The first man slashed at her head, but Xena caught his hand by the wrist and followed through the movement, wrenching his joint so he dropped the weapon. She elbowed him in the face, not waiting to see him fall to the floor, but swiftly picking up the fallen dagger and readying herself for the others. Two came at her next, lunging forwards in the hope of lancing their weapons into her. She blocked one with her new weapon, blade on blade and stopped the other by kicking his arm, just below the elbow. He fell to the ground beside his fallen comrade, writhing around in pain, clutching a broken arm. She turned on her standing foot and smashed the same leg into the nose of the other guard, a spray of red splattering her jerkin. The two men that were left, hesitated slightly, but Xena didn’t wait for them to come to her this time. She leaped over the three guards on the floor, somersaulting in the air to land behind the stunned men. They turned too late, as she gutted one of them, driving the dagger upwards into his ribcage and grabbing the other’s head, killing him swiftly with a snap. All this happened in the space of a minute and Xena turned to look for Avel. She saw the young girl’s body lying motionless on the floor in front of the console, the hilt of a Daimon dagger protruding from her chest.

“NO!” she shouted, dashing over to the redhead. She found her barely alive.

The girl was whispering and Xena had to bring her head close to the girl’s mouth to hear her words. “Go Xena. You can… prevent… all of this. Stop…history. Go… now… before it’s too late.” There was blood pooling in Avel’s mouth now. “Save…us.

Xena looked up at the portal. It had begun to bend and sway as if it was collapsing in on itself. She glanced around the room, seeing that it was empty apart from a furious Taral doing her best to shut down the time machine. Everyone had obviously fled the room to avoid the fight and smoke and sparks were coming from the blown up console. Looking down again at the youthful face of the redhead, she made a decision.

“I’ll do my best,” she whispered, as she stood and looked once at the face of her enemy. “You’ve lost, Taral,” she said, beginning to run towards the unstable portal.

She didn’t see the snarl appear on the pretty, blonde’s face. She missed the Daimon leader drawing a dagger. She didn’t notice the flash as the blade spun through the air, but she felt the impact as she entered the portal, the metal piercing her shoulder. The scream of pain was lost in the whirlwind as Xena disintegrated into time.  

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Continued... Part Two

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