DISCLAIMER: Xena Warrior Princess is the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA. X-files belongs to Chris Carter.
CHALLENGE: Part of the 'Ground Zero' series and Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
SEQUEL/SERIES: Wrap-up to Ground Zero - Reno, 3.19am.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Ground Zero - Las Vegas Strip, 9.19 a.m.
By Ann


In the distance, smoke billowed from various buildings as the trio made their way closer to Vegas. Xena cast an experienced eye over the apparent battle zone, noting no real strategy of any kind.

"Idiots; they've just burned here and there, nothing but randomness. Gabrielle in her early days could've mounted a more efficient attack."

"They're really just mindless creatures, Xena, not able to plan at all. Besides, I imagine it was the survivors who started the fires." Scully explained, trying to remember which exit would take her to Las Vegas Boulevard.

"Mindless? Gee, thanks, Xena. It's so wonderful to know that I was once one step above a zombie in my planning strategies."

Xena shrugged apologetically and pocketed her sharpening stone. She'd just about driven Scully crazy with the smooth even strokes during their roughly five hundred mile trip, but the maddening habit had caused the agent to discover a positive side effect of the zombie attacks. The constant grating of stone against metal had her pushing harder on the accelerator, and as a result, she'd been able to average 85 miles an hour on the highway. Gripping the steering wheel more tightly, she spotted her exit.

"Dana? Where's your friend staying?" Gabrielle stared at the burning buildings, hoping Scully's friend had managed to avoid the creatures and their aftereffects.

"Caesar's Palace."

Xena whipped her head towards the driver's seat. "Caesar? Is he the one behind these attacks? I should've known." The warrior grabbed hold of her chakram and leaned forward in her seat.

Scully frowned. "Um, I'm referring to the hotel built in Roman architecture style. You do know Julius Caesar has been dead for thousands of years, right?"

"Of course, Xena was just trying to be funny, right Xena?" Gabrielle laughed nervously, secretly wondering if the Roman emperor had somehow been cloned as well.

"Actually, what I meant was . . ." Xena attempted to recant her words when she realized she'd spoken her thoughts aloud; however, she was cut off when Scully got her first look at the strip.

"We'll never be able to make it through all those creatures. They're everywhere."

An endless sea of zombies moved through the street, clumsily grabbing the few survivors and pulling them into their circle. The victims' screams could be heard blocks away in the airtight car.

"Is this the only way to the palace?" Xena questioned the agent, her hand on the door handle. She couldn't wait to bloody her sword, although, she was quite sure there wouldn't actually be any bleeding involved other than the occasional greenish colored substance that sometimes oozed from the zombie's wounds.

"I think so. I'm not familiar enough with Vegas to know if there's a back way, and the GPS system isn't working." Scully turned her head and grimaced at the sight of a group of zombies fighting over what appeared to be a human leg.

Xena quickly surveyed the street in front of them. Scully was right; there was no way the vehicle would be able to pass through the multitude of creatures. They'd have to leave the safety of the car if they planned to move any further. A sudden movement caught the warrior's attention, and she mentally applauded the stealthiness of the hidden figure. Seconds later, a white tiger pounced from behind a building, knocking down three unsuspecting zombies and ripping their undead bodies apart as if they were made of paper.

"Looks like the creatures have something else to worry about." Xena gestured towards the attacking animal just as another tiger crept from its place to join his friend. Several zombies proved their ignorance by moving towards the tigers, thinking they'd found new fresh meal and instead falling victim to the sharp teeth and claws of the felines.

With a renewed spirit, Scully popped a loaded clip in her gun and slid several spare ones in her pocket. "Let's go while the zombies are preoccupied."

Gabrielle gripped her sais and nodded her approval. "You lead, Dana. We'll be right behind you."

An excited Xena didn't hesitate to jump from the car as she immediately began to clear away the few stragglers that hadn't quite made it to the strip. Gabrielle slowly opened her door and shook her head.

"Go on ahead, Dana. I'll follow, and Xena will bring up the rear as soon as she's done playing with the creatures."

The agent nodded and started up the sidewalk, keeping close to the buildings and away from the undead. Gabrielle kept her sais at the ready as she stayed directly behind Dana, keeping an eye out for any curious zombies.

The trio reached the palace with only a minimum number of encounters with the undead, and each woman slid behind a column, peering around their hiding place. The front entrance was swarming with the creatures, and Dana let out an exasperated sigh.

"We'll never get inside."

A feral grin crossed Xena's face. "Oh, yes we will." Unhooking the chakram from her belt, she let it loose, decapitating a dozen zombies before it returned to her. Twirling her sword twice, she let out her patented warrior's cry and headed towards the creatures, cutting a large path through the undead with her blade.

"C'mon, Dana. Stick close to me." Gabrielle took off after her partner, her sais taking out the zombies Xena had somehow missed. Scully hesitated briefly before racing to catch up with the bard, not having to fire her gun once as she suddenly found herself inside the building. The sound of gunfire drew the agent's attention to the nearby gift shop.

"Die, you bastards!" A dark haired woman fired round after round at the creatures, reloading in an instant and firing again.

"Monica!" Dana couldn't believe her eyes. Outside of a cut on her forehead, her lover looked no worse for wear. Scully emptied her clip at the zombies nearest the shop as she sped to Monica's side.

In one powerful stroke, Xena removed the head from Caesar's statue and kicked it towards the wall, shattering the marble into a million pieces. Laughing aloud, she moved to join the reunited couple as she yelled back at her lover.

"Gabrielle! Over here!"

The Amazon knocked a zombie off her sais and literally booted another one into the wall with a kick to the face. "Be there in a sec!"

Xena smiled as she watched her partner in action. Nothing got the warrior's blood boiling quite like seeing Gabrielle face down a ring of opponents and dispatch them so handily. She briefly regretted not being able to throw her lover over her shoulder and carry her up to one of the hotel rooms. Making love to Gabrielle in Caesar's own palace would almost be worth the risk of staying in the zombie's company for awhile longer.

"Xena! Gabrielle! We've got to get out of here!" Scully's yell burst the warrior's wishful dream, and she turned her focus back on the here and now.

"Dana, you two head for the car, and Gabrielle and I will right behind you. There's something I want to take care of first."

The agent didn't take time to argue; she simply grabbed Monica's hand, and the two women sprinted for the exit, opening fire at any zombie that got in their way.

Gabrielle slid next to her lover. "Xena, what in the world do you need to do besides getting the Hades out of here?"

The two agents encountered fewer and fewer creatures the closer they got to the car. Finally, they dispatched the last group and dove into the front seat, locking the door behind them.

"You came." Monica uttered her first words since she'd seen her lover burst into the hotel, guns blazing.

Dana smiled. "You're damned right I did."

Monica laughed and pulled her partner into a tight embrace. Soon, the two were making out like a couple of teenagers despite the chaos taking place just outside their doors. A knock on the window jarred the women back to reality.

"Hey! Open up; we need to get out of here." Xena's usually calm tone was tinged with a bit of urgency.

Dana looked in her rearview mirror to see a horde of creatures slowly making their way down the street towards them, their combined moaning reaching a fevered pitch. She quickly hit a button, unlocking the doors and allowing Xena and Gabrielle to jump into the car. The warriors quickly slammed their doors closed.

"Let's go, Dana!" Gabrielle yelled her plea as she turned to check on the zombie's progress. The agent didn't hesitate to start the car and speed away, leaving the unhappy creatures behind.

Just as the vehicle reached the end of the strip, a loud explosion filled the air and a large cloud of smoke began to rise from the middle of the area they'd just left.

"What the hell was that?" Monica turned to look out the back window of the vehicle, not satisfied with the tiny view the sideview mirror afforded her.

Xena grinned smugly at the agent. "Caesar doesn't have a palace anymore."

The End

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