DISCLAIMER: Xena Warrior Princess is the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA.
CHALLENGE: Part of the 'Ground Zero' series and Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Ground Zero - Reno, 3.19am
By Ann


The neon sign outside the small hotel hummed loudly, the 'v' and 'n' in vacancy stubbornly remained unlit. Inside, a tall brunette sat behind the desk, her feet propped up on the wooden structure as she twirled a metal, circular object on the end of her index finger. Nearby, a shorter blonde wrote fast and furiously in a yellow spiral notebook, the beginnings of a smile forming in the corners of her mouth.

"I really like these new gel pens you got me, Xena. And, this colored notebook idea was brilliant. Now, I can keep our journeys color coded."

"That's good, Gabrielle." Xena was beyond bored. They'd stayed in Reno longer than any other location since they'd first awakened in the lab with the memories of the Warrior Princess and the Amazon Queen. As far as the two of them were concerned, they were the very individuals whose thoughts, dreams, and emotions they possessed.

Gabrielle recognized her lover's tone and looked up sharply. She'd hoped they'd be able to finally settle down after traveling from place to place, trying to fit in, or at the very least, she'd hoped they'd stay a little longer in their current location. They were making a decent living, and so far, Xena was able to keep busy, working the desk at night and playing Ms. Fix-it during the day.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Gabrielle; everything's fine."

The bard closed her notebook and laid her pen down. "No, it's not. You've been more fidgety than usual lately. I thought you liked being an innkeeper."

"Yeah, so did I. Mrs. Simmons has been very good to us, allowing us to pretty much run this inn, but, . . ." The warrior let her words trail off, not quite certain what the problem was.

Before Gabrielle could prod her lover for a more definitive answer, the chime above the door jingled, signaling a new arrival, and the bard glanced over at the late traveler, frowning at his appearance. The man looked positively ghastly.

Xena never looked up. "Cash or credit?"

Gabrielle's eyes moved up to her hairline as the ghoulish creature moaned and shuffled closer to the desk. Slowly, she reached for Xena's sword which was wedged between the desk and the wall.

"Well, what will it be?" Xena placed her chakram down and finally looked up at the potential guest.

The zombie just groaned and began his attempt to climb over the desk. Xena hesitated, not wanting to make the same mistake she'd made during the last week in October when she'd almost decapitated a man wearing a toga outfit complete with a laurel wreath on his head. She'd thought for sure that Caesar had somehow found her, but Gabrielle assured her that it was just a costume, explaining it away as some custom called Halloween.

The creature had almost made its way over the top when Gabrielle's voice, tinged with a bit of urgency, filtered through the warrior's thoughts.

"Here, Xena; catch!"

The warrior's hand grasped the hilt of the sword, the grip automatic, and the feel so very familiar. A cocky grin creased Xena's face, and she twirled the weapon twice before swinging it forward, neatly displacing the zombie's head from the rest of his body.

"Oh, that felt sooo good."

Gabrielle made her way around the desk. "Weird. I thought he'd explode, kind of like the Dryads. Hmm, he's not a Bacchae either, but he does look remarkably like one of those things that tried to pull me down to the underworld when we returned to Amphipolis that last time."

The echo of gunshots pulled Gabrielle's focus to the parking lot. "By the gods, Xena. There're more of these things outside."

The Warrior Princess somersaulted over the top of the desk, her battle cry louder than ever, "Yi-yi-yi..." She landed gracefully by her lover's side, her eyes tracking to the parking area.

"Get your sais, Gabrielle. We've got some creature booty to kick."


"Yeah, er, I guess I've been watching too much TV. Um, c'mon, let's go save the world." Xena burst through the door, her sword removing two more zombies' heads as she laughed her way through the slow-moving group. Gabrielle raced around the desk to retrieve her weapons. There was no way she was going to let Xena have all the fun.

A few minutes later, the warrior and her bard were fighting back to back, zombies being eliminated left and right.

"You know, Gabrielle; I may have been too hasty in wanting to leave Reno. I think maybe we should stick around for awhile."

Gabrielle pushed a creature off her sais. "See, I told you this place would grow on you."

Another couple of heads flew across the parking lot, hitting a car and setting off its alarm. The remaining creatures howled at the offending sound. Xena laughed and took advantage of the distraction, managing to relieve three more creatures of their heads.

"They don't like high pitched noises!" Xena yelled over the piercing sound.

"No kidding. This is almost too easy."

A volley of gunshots drew the two women's attention to the far end of the hotel.

"I think someone's in trouble. Let's take care of these last few and see if we can help."

Gabrielle nodded her reply, aiming her sharp pointy weapons at a creature's head. Hitting the zombie dead in the eye, the Amazon quickly pulled her sais free and sprinted behind Xena towards the gunfire.

The pair rounded the corner to find a small redhead, firing round after round into a group of zombies. The bullets were doing their job, but the problem was there was just too many of the creatures. At the sound of a loud click, the redhead threw her weapon and ran, only to find herself surrounded by the undead.

"Xena! She's trapped."

"I see, Gabrielle." The warrior unhooked her charkram from her belt and quickly surveyed the situation. Grinning, she let the weapon fly.

The redhead pushed herself against the wall, resigned to her fate. She closed her eyes and sent her final thoughts to her lover, hoping that somehow they'd make it to their destination; however, a whirring sound had the blue eyes popping wide open, looking for the new threat against her. The sight that greeted her was not what she was expecting.

The now headless zombies slumped to the ground, and the surprised woman stepped away from the wall, slowly moving towards the bodies; the scientist in her needing to understand what had just happened. She never saw the two women studying her.

"Look, Xena. She doesn't appear frightened."

Xena wiped the zombie bits off her chakram and placed it back on her hip. "No, she doesn't. Let's go see if she knows where these creatures came from."

The sound of approaching feet did get the woman's attention. Looking up, she relaxed when she realized the two were very much alive; however, the sword and pointy weapons didn't put the redhead totally at ease. Gabrielle's warm smile did though.

"Hello. Are you okay?"

"Yes, I am, thank you; although, I don't understand why. One minute I'm about to be attacked by zombies, and the next, they're headless and at my feet."

"Zombies?" Xena focused on the cause of their problems.

"Yes, at least that's what they appear to be. I'd have to do an autopsy to confirm my hypothesis."

"Huh?" The response echoed in stereo. Neither Xena nor Gabrielle had any idea what the woman had just said.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Where are my manners? I'm special agent Dana Scully, FBI."

Gabrielle gestured to herself and then to her lover. "I'm Gabrielle, and this is Xena. We run this inn. You know, I don't remember you checking in."

"Huh? Oh, my partner checked us in yesterday. There've been reports of strange activity in the area. Monica drove to Las Vegas this morning, and I stayed here. We thought we'd get more done if we separated. She was to return tomorrow, but I have a very strong feeling that this zombie attack isn't isolated to Reno. I think she may be facing the same thing in Vegas."

Xena could smell the opportunity to jump into the middle of the fray.

"Gabrielle and I could accompany you to find your friend if you'd like."

Dana looked at the tall, self-assured woman and then at the shorter confident one. They did appear that they could take care of themselves in just about any situation, and she'd definitely need help finding her lover. She just prayed that Monica was still alive.

"I wouldn't mind having backup, if you're sure you're interested."

Xena grinned widely. This adventure couldn't have come at a better time. "Not at all. We'd love to, wouldn't we Gabrielle?"

The Amazon glanced at her smiling lover. Xena was practically beaming at the prospect of fighting more of the creatures.

"Yes, we would."

Dana smiled. "Okay, why don't you go pack what you need, and I'll meet you at my car." The FBI agent gestured to the typical government vehicle parked in front of her room.

Xena patted her chakram and lifted her sword. "We have everything we need right here."

Gabrielle nodded her agreement just as a renegade group of zombies rounded the corner, heading directly for the threesome. Xena sighed and removed her chakram, flinging it casually in the creatures' direction. The metal ring ricocheted off the side wall, decapitated the entire bunch, ricocheted off two more walls, and returned safely to Xena's hand. This time the warrior fastened it to her belt without bothering to clean off the zombie pieces.

Dana stared in shock and amazement. "Um, yeah, I think you do."

Xena and Gabrielle smiled, turning to head for the agent's car. Dana picked up her empty gun and followed. It appeared she had all she needed as well.

The End

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