Something Wicked This Way Comes (War Saga II)
David J. Duncan
Note: The characters from Xena Warrior Princess belong to Renaissance
Studios and Studios USA. The characters from Forever Knight belong to Sony
Tri-Star. The Spirit of the Abyss is from Andromeda, which was created by Gene
Roddenberry and belongs to Tribune. Emma diLauro is from "Mutant X"
which belongs to Tribune and Marvel Studios. All other characters and scenarios
are of my creation. Please send comments to email@example.com
Preface [Make-shift Tent, forest near the remains of the Amazon Village-82
Gabrielle, Bard-Queen of the Amazons, writes....
The acrid odor from our burning homes still rises from the clearing to sting
our eyes even as the burns from the flames hurt tremendously. Amazons don't take
kindly to defeat, especially the total losses inflicted upon us from one who
used to be our sister. Beside me, Xena is still out cold from her wounds. Angela
is seeing to her. Not far away, Eve-or is it Livia?-isn't much better than her
mother. Seeing the other reassert control in my heir stirs the indignation over
Joxer's death. Is it right to feel like this? After all, Eve was pushed into
releasing her darker half. Finally, Hope lay on the ground, battered and beaten
as well. Looking at my daughter is making my stomach churn even worse.
Suddenly, a loud roar pierces the air accompanied by several concussive
"Dave!" Angie exclaims, stopping her field treatment and staring
at where we had come. Obviously, she was torn between her priorities. On the one
hand, Xena would die without her immediate attention. On the other, her husband
was still fighting Dahak's emissary. Through the link she shared with her spouse
and the sound, she knew that the Child had erupted once again and was now doing
all he could to defeat his adversary.
Glancing at the battle, it all seemed hopeless....
Chapter 1 [Dahak's Realm]
Far beneath the Earth's surface, Dahak brooded over his plans to revenge
himself on the world above. Recently, his ally, the Spirit of the Abyss had
flung its Magog troops at mankind. Between the Duboises, Xena, and the infernal
crew of the Andromeda Ascendant, the aliens were defeated. While minute gains
had been made, he knew that the next phase needed to be launched at exactly the
right moment. Despite this, the waiting game was driving him to the brink of
Beside him, the wizard, Lousain, glared into his ebony prism, seeing
everything both in his realm as well as the mortals' dimension. "When do we
move?" he asked.
"Soon," the demon lord promised. "My agent is almost
"Divia seemed to be healed from her wounds," the sorcerer pointed
"Divia isn't who I had in mind, my friend," Dahak indicated.
"No, I have another foe in mind for Xena and Gabrielle." A feral grin
spread across his face, allowing several fangs to appear.
At that moment, two demon emissaries approached the throne carefully and
"Yes?" Dahak inquired.
"The woman is ready," the taller of the duo noted, its head still
"Very good," their master replied. "Where is she?"
"She awaits you in the hall. Shall she come in?"
"Indeed," the demon ruler agreed.
The messengers scurried from the room.
A moment later, a human female strutted into the room. She stood a head
above six feet tall with long brown hair and had a strong yet slender build. She
was dressed as an Amazon warrior. Her eyes were white-not a bit of color
indicating where her pupils would be. She seemed ready to fight. "Dahak?"
"Velasca, I trust that you are feeling better since your rest?"
"I am," she concurred, acknowledging him with a slight bow of her
head. "My thanks to you. Now, what do I need to do in return?"
The demon ruler's grin spread even further if that was possible. This scene
was going to be well worth watching. "I need you to eliminate several
common adversaries most notably Xena and Gabrielle."
At his mention of the last two names, the Amazon turned goddess bellowed in
rage, "Curse them! I'll reduce them to ashes!"
Lousain raised his brow skeptically. Others had said similar things and had
failed. Did this being really know what she was getting herself into?
The newcomer glared at him. "What's your problem?"
He shrugged. "Saying that you're going to kill those two and actually
doing it are two different things."
"I've faced them before," she declared. "And I should've
killed them then."
Dahak nodded, "Yes, the battle at the lava pit. A pity that Callisto
was there, wouldn't you say?"
"Yes," Velasca seethed. "This time, they won't have any
Lousain chuckled knowingly. "Even if you can pound them into mush,
you'll still have their friend to deal with. He's a handful."
"A man?" she scoffed. "I'll knock him right out of my
That comment made the wizard cackle, "Good luck. I've tried to kill him
twice. You'll need more than an attitude to deal with Dubois."
"Unfortunately, I have to agree," the demon lord admitted.
"You will have to deal with him as well. Do not underestimate him."
"I'll be on my guard," she growled, already thinking how she was
going to humble this adversary already.
"Very well," she agreed reluctantly. "When do we start?"
"Soon," Dahak commented. "Meantime, rest and get ready. Soon,
Chapter 2 [Mists Between Worlds]
Somewhere in the concealing cover, a woman crept uneasily through the marshy
waters. The demon troops were everywhere, scavenging for her lest they suffer
Dahak's wraith. Ever since she had disappeared from those clumsy guards back in
Hell, Hope hadn't stopped running. Now, with exhaustion clinging to her steps,
she had no choice but to do so at some point.
Dropping against a tree, she gasped for breath, desperately trying to
determine her next move. Somehow, she needed to find a way to the outside world
before those oafs caught her.
Meanwhile, Genaria and Deirdre stepped into the area and carefully glanced
around at their surroundings. Cybelle had detected several evil presences close
to Althanor. Accordingly, she sent her two most trusted priestesses to
investigate this situation.
"I wonder what's going on?" Genaria asked perplexedly.
Deirdre shrugged. Sometimes her aunt was so mysterious...too much so for her
liking. "I wish she had told us what we're looking for." Then, ahead
in the fog, she detected several dark auras. "Who's there?" she
A demonic laugh answered, "None of your concern, mortal!"
"You're in the land of Althanor, Beast!" Genaria asserted.
"In the name of Cybelle, High Priestess of the goddess, state your
Still more chuckling came from the shroud-like cover. Finally, a creature
stepped forward. It stood about six and a half feet tall, yet was slightly
stooped in stature. Its head was defined by sharp pointed ears and tiny yet
intense eyes. Although its mouth was closed, a fang protruded from each side of
its mouth. The thing wore a breastplate, a helmet, a broadsword at its side, and
a shield over the left hand. "By the order of Dahak, Master of Darkness, I,
Lathor, am leading my troops to find Hope, his ungrateful child!"
"There is no child here," the elder priestess denied.
"Really?" the demon snickered snidely. Looking about, it quickly
lost its swagger. "Where'd she go?" he demanded indignantly.
Deirdre raised her brow in amusement, wishing that her father had been
standing there with her. "He'd get a chuckle over this," she thought,
allowing herself a smile before declaring, "It seems your business is done
here, Master Troll."
Lathor glared at the heiress. There was something about her.... "You're
Genaria shook her head. A confrontation with these things wasn't what they
needed right now.
On the other hand, her companion drew herself to her full height, a fierce
expression casting itself across her features. "If you know of my
bloodlines, then retreat is your only option, isn't it? Stay out of Althanor!"
The head troll rubbed its shoulder where a noticeable scar marked the
grayish skin. Years before, Dave's sword had nearly claimed its life. No, best
to retreat at least for now. Waving its paw, it signaled for the group to fall
After they had disappeared, Genaria exclaimed, "Wow!"
"Aunt Cybelle's been giving me lessons," the younger woman
replied. Then, feeling another presence, she ordered, "Okay, I can feel you
there. Come out!"
"Who is it?" her companion asked in confusion. "Another
"No. She does seem familiar," Deirdre noted before turning back to
the mists. "Once again, I advise you to show yourself! Don't worry, the
trolls are gone!"
Hope emerged from behind a nearby tree. "What will...you do...to
Genaria stared at the intruder incredulously. While she could have sworn
that the woman was Gabrielle, she realized that this creature was Hope, her
demon child. As such, they needed to handle the situation very carefully. "Cybelle
should be told, Deirdre."
Hope shook her head, remembering her last encounter with the priestess at
Wabash. In her current weakened state, she wouldn't be able to put up much of a
"I don't recall giving you a choice," Deirdre interjected.
"Come with us or risk running into your father's goons again. Trust me,
you're better off with us."
"Besides, the High Priestess will want to keep an eye on you," the
other priestess added.
Hope, after some deliberation, realized that the two priestesses had a
point. Stepping through the portal in front of them, she hoped for a fairer
hearing from Cybelle than she had received from her father.
Genaria watched as her friend crossed through the mists before doing the
same and sealing the way behind them. Hope had problems and baggage. It would
remain to be seen how those things affected them all.
Chapter 3 [Amazon Village]
Gabrielle stared at the ceiling. As with most nights during that week, she
couldn't sleep. The events unfolding in the prophecy dogged her psyche, allowing
her fears to play havoc with her mind. Despite Dave's creative use of the sword,
the events were playing themselves out. Even though they had driven off the
Magog with the help of the Andromeda, she couldn't help but wonder if something
else didn't await them.
"Can't sleep either?" Xena asked from across the room. Seeing her
soulmate's eyes meet hers, the warrior-counselor continued, "Weird, ain't
"Oh, all of this stuff happening lately. Kinda makes you wonder who's
behind it," the new Amazon detailed.
The queen nodded, seeing her companion's point, but before she could reply,
a flash of light caught her eye. "Xena?"
"Already on it," the other declared, grasping her sword as well as
the intruder's identity. "All right, Michael! Show yourself!"
On cue, the blond archangel materialized in the corner, a piercing
expression painted on his face. "Very good, Xena," he complemented.
"Save it," she advised him. "You don't usually make social
calls so what is it?"
"I was checking to see how you two were making out. Those aliens
weren't too much for you I hope."
"You sent them?" Gabrielle wondered.
"No, but if Dubois had done his job properly, none of this would have
happened!" he stormed.
"Yeah and he'd be roasting in Tartarus right now," Xena
interrupted sharply. "He skewered the Burgundian and we dealt with the fur
balls. So what?"
"And you think that's the end of it?" he supposed, a smug smile
forming on his lips.
The two Amazons knew that look. Somehow Michael had something else up that
sleeve of his.
"What else is there?" the bard demanded.
"Anyone we know?" Xena probed.
"That would be telling," he replied. "But know that because
of your actions, everything here will change." With that, he disappeared
into the light.
"I wonder what he meant by that?" the queen wondered.
"Whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be nasty." The warrior's instincts
were bugging her. Something was going to happen and soon.
Suddenly, a banging at the door interrupted the conversation followed by a
familiar voice calling, "Queen Gabrielle! Xena!"
Gabrielle opened the portal to find Varia standing there. "What's going
"Cybelle just appeared by the outer outpost and is requesting your
"Why didn't she just pop in here?" Xena pushed.
The former queen sighed, "When you get there, you'll understand."
"Get Eve and meet us there," Gabrielle urged, grabbing her sais
and rushing out the door. Something felt strangely familiar, but she hoped she
was wrong. Sprinting as fast as she could, she crossed the village square and
reached the designated spot in due time only to see the fog floating there as a
"Here, Gabrielle," the priestess declared, stepping out of the
mist. "I wish there was a more pleasant occasion for a visit."
"Why?" Xena wondered, just reaching the two leaders. "What's
"Can you promise to keep your cool, Xena?" Cybelle stipulated.
The Warrior Princess glared icy daggers at her. "Who do you have in
there? Don't tell me you brought your father here! After what he just pulled,
I'd be tempted to gut him!"
"Xena," Gabrielle admonished.
Anger briefly flared across Cybelle's features. As she was still sore from
the earlier argument between them, she decided to let it drop. "No, but it
might be just as bad."
"What is it?" the bard echoed.
"Late yesterday, Deirdre and Genaria were scouting in the mists when
they ran across Dahak's troops. There was a standoff and the latter fled."
Seeing the concern on the other's face, she assured them. "Deirdre's fine.
Let Angie know that she stood her ground and defended us all very well."
"That's a relief," Xena stated, sending a mental assurance to her
"roommate" through their shared link. "So, who's in there?"
"Come out," the priestess instructed, parting the mists with a
wave of her hand.
Slowly, Hope emerged from the fog. "Hello, Mother," she hissed.
Xena felt the fire of indignation flare inside of herself. "How could
you?" she demanded, unsheathing her sword. "HOW COULD YOU BRING THAT
MURDERING HARPY HERE?"
"Where else was there?" the priestess posed firmly. "Look at
her! Her father beat her within an inch of her life!"
"Yeah right," the warrior scoffed. "That's an act. You
weren't in Potadeia with us when she did it the last time!" Rushing
forward, sword held high, she bellowed, "VENGEANCE!!!!" Swinging her
sword, she met with only mist. "Cybelle, stay outta this!"
"No! Hear her out! I didn't believe her at first either," the High
Priestess insisted. Turning to her guest, she instructed, "Tell them."
Hope stared at her adversaries. The last thing she wanted was pity or aid
from these two, but given the alternative, there was no choice. "After
our...last encounter, Father has had me beaten multiple times. Do you know what
it's like to watch him favoring that Roman witch over me?"
"You're breakin' our hearts," Xena snarled low, patting the flat
of her sword with her hand and obviously still seething with rage.
"There's more," Cybelle indicated.
"Those things you fought were only the first wave. Father has allied
himself with two others. One is a demon of dark energy-the one who commanded
those furry creatures. The second is a wizard from the Dark Lands. Your friend,
Dubois, knows him apparently."
Gabrielle pushed, "Who?"
"His name is Lousain," her daughter continued. "The trolls
are his minions."
Xena rubbed her forehead as Angie's memories started to flow through her.
She saw the initial kidnapping at the Alvarez's house, the fighting between the
Dubois brothers and the trolls, the indignities suffered by her
"roommate" in addition to Karen Montoya and Miranda Dubois. But most
of all, she saw Dave seething in the pit, feeding off of the dark energy
emanating from that place....
"Xena?" Gabrielle shook her friend's shoulder. "Are you all
"You had that faraway look that Nick Miles usually gets," the bard
"I was remembering what Angela told me about the Pit. It was there that
the Child took shape within David," the councilor noted. Seeing Eve
approach, she warned, "Stay back!"
"Mother, what is it?" the Amazon Princess asked. Seeing Hope
standing there, she continued, "How?"
"Oh great. Now, I get to deal with Eli's blathering," the demon
child hissed, rolling her eyes.
"They might do you some good," the former Messenger debated,
forcing herself to remain calm.
"Look!" Xena pointed out. "It's bad enough that we have to
put up with you, but treat my daughter with respect!"
Gabrielle sighed deeply. If she let this standoff continue, it would
escalate into bloodshed. "Varia, escort Hope to the guest hut and post two
guards. Then, join us for a council meeting. We need to discuss this
"Consider it done, my Queen," Varia agreed and led Hope away.
"Cybelle, please bring Deirdre and Genaria. I want to hear their
"I don't want to bother Dave with this mess," Cybelle commented.
"Beyond that, my sister priestesses and I will be at your meeting."
Opening the mists again, she vanished from view.
"What do you think this means, Xena?" Gabrielle queried, feeling a
wave of fear rising within her.
"Trouble," the warrior asserted. "Let's go and get the
Council. We'll have trouble to deal with soon enough."
The trolls limped back into the dark underworld, seething from their defeat.
Worse still, they knew what awaited them there.
"What happened?" Dahak demanded.
"Our apologies," the leader excused itself. "We had Hope
cornered when the two priestesses appeared."
"We noticed," Lousain replied derisively.
"One of them is the spawn of Dubois!"
"Are you sure?" the wizard spat, the bile rising inside of him.
"Yes, Master," the troll agreed.
"Interesting," Dahak stated, cutting off any disciplinary action
from his ally. "Summon Velasca! I have an errand for her!"
After they left, the wizard ranted, "Why did you upstage me? We need to
deal with them!"
"Oh, we'll deal with them," the demon lord chuckled. "We'll
deal with everyone at the right place at the right time."
[The Amazon Village]
The council meeting had been hot and heated with many voices raised in
protest. After two hours, Xena got up and stormed out in disgust. Harboring Hope
was bad enough, but for Varia and the others to turn down David's help because
he was a man angered her still further.
"His experience against Dahak and Lousain would be vital," she
muttered finally. Then, looking around, she felt the familiar chill. "Ares,
come out! I can smell ya!"
To her left, the ebon clad war god appeared with a grim look on his face.
"What do ya want?" she spat, drawing her sword.
"And it's about to get a whole lot worse," he advised. "Dahak's
sending someone to get Hope back and deal with the Amazons."
"Peachy," she smiled icily. "Who?"
"I don't know. It ain't that little Roman bitch. No, Dahak has
something else in mind."
"Things like that are usually fatal," she stated.
"Yeah. Hey, I heard what you said about Dubois in there. You're right,
but I have a question..."
"Which is?" she urged.
"Are you going to expose him and Eve to this situation? Let's just say
that would be interesting," he pointed out.
"What are you doing to them, you bastard?" she demanded, getting
right in his face. "If you hurt them, I'll make you pay!"
Ares raised his hands defensively. "Whoa there! I ain't doin' anything
to them. The situations with Dijon and the aliens are affecting them already.
Who knows what facing Lousain will do to them? Xena, let's cut the crap. Despite
the Amazon stuff, I've got an offer for you."
"An offer?" she asked skeptically, her right eyebrow arched in
surprise. "With a thick string attached, I'm sure."
"No strings attached. Hey, I want to see Dahak stuffed back in his hole
as badly as you. Trust me, I know that creep," he assured her.
"Yeah, considering he kicked your ass pretty hard the last time you
met. How does Hope figure into this?" she replied tersely.
"She doesn't, really," he insisted.
"Yeah right," Gabrielle doubted, approaching them. "Stay away
from my daughter, Ares!"
"Right," he growled. Sometimes, he didn't know whether he liked
Gabrielle like this or as the little peasant girl she had been without the
attitude. Shaking his head, he disappeared.
"What was that all about?" she asked.
"I dunno," the warrior noted, looking about. "Still..."
"Now what?" the bard wondered.
Then, screams could be heard from the woods followed by a familiar haunting
"Gods!" Xena exclaimed. "Now, she shows up! Gabrielle, get
the other Amazon leaders! Go!"
The queen froze for a second as she saw the source of the discontent stroll
into the plaza. The newcomer stood just over six feet in height with long auburn
hair and intense eyes. "Velasca!"
"Hello, Xena, Gabrielle, long time, no see," the intruder
"What do you want?" Xena demanded.
"Dahak wants you all dead, and I have no argument with that!"
Velasca declared, firing twin bursts from her hands.
The companions avoided the pulses easily.
"Very good!" the Amazon turned goddess cracked. "So much
better than those pathetic girls back there!" As Eve and the others showed
up, she complemented, "And an Amazon council! Well done, Gabrielle! Too bad
they can't save you!" Before the newcomers could get their bearings, she
fired another blast, knocking most of them unconscious.
"You'll have to do better than that!" Cybelle countered, returning
fire and knocking her attacker off balance.
"Where's Hope? Give her to me!" Velasca demanded.
"She's staying right here!" the Head Priestess stated, erecting a
shield to counter the incoming blasts.
"And that goes for me as well," the bard-queen asserted, drawing
her sais. "I'm not the same girl that you hunted years ago, Velasca."
The former Amazon grinned. "No, you're not. Still, you're no match for
me." Wheeling quicker than the eye could follow, she sent volley after
volley at the head Amazon. "I'm not going to tire this time,
Gabrielle!" she taunted. Finally, after five minutes, a burst found its
mark, knocking the queen to the ground.
"No!" Xena exclaimed, flinging her chakram. The weapon struck
Velasca's hand, carving a deep gash in it, and knocking a fatal blast astray.
"Damn you!" the other woman snarled, blasting Xena with both
barrels, and staggering her.
Cybelle tried to throw a few more energy pulses at Velasca, but the latter
shrugged them off. Seeing this, the former decided to get help. Turning to
Deirdre, she ordered, "Go! Get your parents!"
The younger priestess nodded and disappeared into the mists. Seeing how
things were deteriorating, she needed to fetch the others quickly.
Meantime, Xena and Cybelle did their best to keep Velasca occupied. Given
how their attention was split between trying to stay alive and protecting the
others, it was a question of how long they could keep this defensive measure
going. Help needed to get there and soon, or else all would be lost.
Chapter 5 [Tucson, Arizona-Modern Day]
The university campus remained still as preparations were underway for the
upcoming fall semester. Only the student tours could be seen criss-crossing the
At the medical center, Angie sat looking over her notes for the article she
was writing. As with her husband, she hoped to get this piece sent off before
the next inevitable crisis popped up. Still, for the majority of that day, she
had the nagging feeling that something was wrong. For some reason, Xena was
disconcerted about something...something about Deirdre facing Dahak. "We'll
need to get to the bottom of this," she ascertained.
Then, she lurched and fell out of her chair as she felt something powerful
bang into her side. "Goodness!" she exclaimed, rubbing the painful
area. "What was that?" Seeing the mists form in the corner, she sensed
her daughter's presence. "Deirdre?"
"Mama!" the younger woman responded desperately as she almost
leapt into the room. Her face was peaked white, and her eyes wide with fear.
"What is it?"
"Somebody named Velasca...is attacking. She's looking for...Hope,"
Deirdre told her.
At that moment, Angie felt another wave of pain surging through her. "Arrgh!
That does it!" Reaching over her back, she drew the sword and changed into
As she appeared on the scene, the warrior rocked on her feet, unable to get
her balance. "We need to get your father and Eve," she told the other.
"Consider it done," the priestess agreed, teleporting them both
In the Fine Arts Museum, Alyce Harris was leading a tour group through the
exhibits. While this task usually fell to the day curator, the vampire
archaeologist enjoyed interacting with the students and their parents. As they
went from exhibit to exhibit, she explained what each piece meant in its own
right and in relation to the collection as a whole.
Despite this distraction, she was still concerned about recent events
occurring in the Old Pueblo. Between Dave's duel with the Enforcer, Bertrand du
Dijon and the near-invasion of Earth by the Magog, both the mortal and vampire
communities remained on edge, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
"Hopefully, the peace will continue for a while."
Meantime, Eve wandered through the museum's lower floors. Bothered by spats
of forgetfulness, she tried to remember what had happened to her. One thing was
for certain: Livia was at the core of the issue. For months, she had struggled
with the darker side of herself. Between her guilt over Deirdre's
transformation, Lucius's influence, and the constant strife, the former
Messenger had steadily lost ground to the conqueror. What would happen if Livia
gained control? "May Eli give me strength," she hoped.
As she reached the bottom floor, she felt something painful. "Argh!"
she exclaimed, her scream echoing off of the marble walls. Then, successive
spasms knocked her to the floor, rendering her momentarily unconscious.
Eventually, she rose to her feet once again. However, something was very
different about the Religion professor. Her eyes were more intense. An almost
cocky smile dominated her features. A confidence exuded from her persona. Once
again, Livia, Rome's champion, walked the Earth. "Sleep, Sister," she
cracked to the overpowered Messianic Other. "It's my turn for a while. Now,
about those clothes..." she added, moving toward the Unknown Soldier
Two floors above, Alyce was explaining an exhibit to the group. Over to the
side, Brigid Shannon, her new undergraduate work study student, helped to guide
the people from the rear and took in the lecture.
Then, the alarms sounded, signaling a break in.
"What's going on?" an Oriental man pushed.
The curator reached out with her senses. There was trouble brewing on the
bottom floor. Accordingly, she needed to get everyone out of the building.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. I'm afraid that's the end of our tour for tonight.
If you could please follow Miss Shannon out of the building, I would appreciate
it. Thank you for coming," she concluded.
"This way, Folks," Brigid indicated, holding the door open and
allowing the others to go through. As she did this, she exchanged glances with
her supervisor and saw the concern on the other's face. Clearly, they needed
reinforcements and she knew just where to go. As a result, she rushed out the
door and headed across the grassy mall area.
Seeing that her assistant had matters well in hand, the curator extended her
senses to the basement once again. "What the? Why is she here again?"
she wondered. "And what's going on?" There was something very
different in the intruder's aura. Taking off, she zipped down there to
Upon reaching the bottom floor, the fledgling vampiress discovered that it
was indeed Eve standing in front of her darker persona's exhibit, but the area
had been damaged. "Eve?" she asked.
Livia smiled and informed the other. "Sorry, she's not here. The name's
Alyce stared dumbfoundedly. Could she keep Eve from going berserk?
As with his wife, Dave sat in his office, glancing at his notes. The class
lectures would be coming soon enough, and the medievalist wanted to be ready for
"Might as well get this stuff finished before more trouble gets
here," he noted, echoing his spouse's sentiments. Then, on cue, he felt a
powerful presence materialize out in the hall. It only took him a second to
recognize it. "Ares," he growled. "Show yourself or I'll let the
Child deal with you!"
The war god stalked into the office. "Now that ain't nice, and here I
was about to offer help."
"Oh, get a grip," the historian remarked almost flippantly.
"After what you've pulled in the past, you're lucky I don't sic His
Darkness on you automatically. Anyhow, humor me, what's the word?"
Ares scowled unhappily. Xena's friend or not, Dubois could be as annoying as
Tartarus. "No wonder Lucius can't stand him," he thought.
Ares sighed, "Dahak's on the move and he's allied himself with an old
buddy of yours."
"I've got a lot of 'old buddies'. Which one?" Dave pushed.
"Somebody named Lousain," the war god continued.
At the sound of that name, the professor froze and turned slowly toward his
visitor. "You're sure?"
"He's dead. I killed him myself about 20 years ago," Dave
"Then, he's come back from the dead," Ares informed him pointedly.
"Unless you know someone else with a troop of pet trolls at his
Dave clenched the side of his desk, straining to control the dark tide
within him. "I...can't believe it! Not again!" he rasped. Even as he
slipped, he felt Eve's and Angie's respective struggles. "Arrgh! Now
Ares chuckled. It seemed that things were changing despite Dubois' anal
sense of control.
"And wha's so funny?" the medievalist snarled, rising from his
chair. "Ah...I..." Turning to the door, he sensed another familiar
presence out in the hall. "Don't hide out there, Brigid!"
"I...If you say so, Dr. D," the sophomore complied hesitantly.
Twice before, she had seen this transformation. Given what was going on at the
museum, they needed for him to keep control. Walking in, she froze at the sight
of Ares. "What does he want?" she inquired fearfully.
"He's deliverin' a message," the professor reported, still groggy
from the pain he was getting through the link with his wife. "Now...what
d'ya wanna tell me?"
"There's trouble at the museum," she recounted. "You might
want to get over there."
"That's where Eve is all right," Dave agreed. "Ares, we'll
pick this up later. For what it's worth, thank you."
"We'll do that," the war god agreed, disappearing into the
"What's going on?" she asked.
"Stay 'way from...the museum," he muttered, grabbing his bow and
shafts. "Somethin's really wrong over there! I can feel it!" Then, he
spasmed and roared again. "Arr...Cybelle! What in the?" Glancing at
Brigid, he instructed, "Use my phone to call Tucson...Police. Ask...for
Nick Miles. Tell'im....it's urgent."
"Yes, sir," she agreed.
"Good. Then, shut the door before ya...you...leave. I got the
key," he slurred before bolting out the door.
In his wake, she pushed the phone's buttons, anxiously awaiting a response
on the other side.
Meanwhile, Nick sat at his desk, sifting through the backlog of paperwork
left from his trip into space. Unfortunately, with his partner out sick, it was
up to him to deal with it. Furthermore, he felt that Alyce was troubled about
something through their shared link. All in all, it hadn't been a great night
Then, his phone buzzed.
"Yes?" he answered.
"Detective, there's a call for you on Line 1," Chris Novak, the
desk sergeant, replied.
"Thanks," he accepted, taking the call. "This is Detective
"Hi...is this Nick Miles?" Brigid asked timidly.
"That's right. What can I do for you?" he responded, picking up on
the young woman's fear on the other end of the line.
"My...name's Brigid Shannon. We met at the library when Alti attacked
the first time."
He nodded, recalling the red headed girl. "Okay," he agreed.
"Dr. Dubois asked me to call you. There's something going on at the
campus museum," she reported.
Nick frowned. No wonder Alyce had been sending out nervous vibes. Collecting
himself, he inquired, "Brigid, where are you now?"
"In Dr. D's office," she replied skittishly.
"Good. Stay there for now and lock yourself in," he instructed.
"I'm on my way to the museum."
"Thank you," she concluded, hanging up.
After he did likewise, Nick sprinted out of the bullpen. Rounding the
corner, he took off, streaking through the night sky toward the university. If
the situation was what he thought it was, he wanted to take care of it before
LaCroix decided to get involved.
Dave burst into the museum, probing with his senses for trouble. "The
stairs," he growled, descending them two at a time. Upon reaching the
bottom, the sounds of battle reached his ears. Following the trail, he saw Alyce
and Eve fighting amidst some damaged displays.
"What the?" he wondered, stringing a special shaft and firing it
at the combatants. As the projectile exploded, it covered the two women in
"What's going on?" he demanded.
[From within his head, the Child sniggered, "Use your head, Meatball.
She ain't Xena's goodie two shoes daughter any more!"]
As Eve turned toward him, she glared deeply into his eyes.
["Ah found us a new playmate!" the Child proclaimed.]
Dave's analysis concurred with his darker half. "Livia, Cannis Romae,
She scowled momentarily, then that cocky grin returned. "And you're the
Modern Day Janus, I presume?" she taunted. "Good of you to show up,
Uncle Dave...or is that Daddy? It's so hard to tell these days. Anyhow, why
debate it?" She drew her sword and asserted, "You'll be dead soon
"You and what army?" he cracked and slammed her with a psychic
She staggered to her feet, regarding her enemy anew. The Flower Child hadn't
said anything about this. Then, glancing over his shoulder, she saw a familiar
yet welcome sight.
"Well, what's the answer?" he asserted.
Alyce's eyes bugged out. "Umm, Dave....behind you..."
Before he could turn around, his senses detected the familiar unwelcome
emptiness. "Not now, LaCroix," he hissed. "Take a number. I'll be
right with ya."
"I think not," the Elder hissed. "You've interfered in my
affairs once too often!" Grabbing the professor from behind, he threw the
mortal into the display rubble as one would a toy. Stepping forward, he regarded
his revived stepsister. "Livia, it's good to see you."
"Lucius. Thanks," she expressed. "And you." Pointing
over her shoulder at the curator, she asked, "What do we do about
"She's my daughter. Leave her out of this," he declared.
At that moment, the rubble exploded upward. Dave climbed to his feet.
"Says...who? We...still have...that...debt." Despite his assertion,
his head pounded like a jackhammer and he could barely keep his balance. Coupled
with the pain he was receiving from the others, he fell over the mental edge,
allowing his psyches to flip-flop once again.
"Ah'm back!" the Child sniggered. "Come n' git it, Croisie!"
LaCroix regarded his "daughter" and sister. Perhaps he could kill
two birds with one stone by killing Dubois here and now.
"Keep 'way from them!' the enraged mortal bellowed, emitting another
The Elder flew backward, hitting the wall hard. Although the force stunned
him, he quickly regained his composure. "No one does that to me!" he
roared, fully vamping out. With that, he streaked toward the mortal.
"Ya'll need 'nother whuppin'!" the Dark One snarled, his eyes
glowing. "This is wha' your spawn got!" With a particularly nasty
grin, he caught the vampire in a telepathic "net", flinging him off of
the walls and smashing him face first into the floor.
"I'll make you stop!" Livia hissed, charging forward.
Before she could intervene, Alyce intercepted her, stating, "Oh no you
don't!" Encasing the enraged conqueror in a steel-like vise, the fledgling
insured that Dave could finish his fight with her master.
At that moment, the mists formed in the corner, allowing Xena and Deirdre to
enter the area.
Although weakened by what was going on in the Amazon lands, the warrior told
him. "Not now! We have more important things to worry about!"
Regarding the struggling General, she complemented, "Nice work
The Child snickered. "Tell that to your brat! She's whacked out
She cast her gaze across the room and discovered that her worst nightmare
had indeed come true. Eve had relapsed into Livia. "No..." she
"Hi, Mom," the latter taunted with a wicked smile. "Wanna
The warrior narrowed her eyes and forced herself to assert control over the
situation. "As I told him, not now! We have bigger fish to fry. However,
later you and I have a score to settle."
"Count on it!" Livia growled.
Deirdre sighed, wondering where this was going. "Meantime, we do need
to get back. Velasca's destroying everything!"
The Child and Livia exchanged looks. This was definitely going to be fun.
After that, they leapt into the mists and vanished from view.
At that point, Nick finally arrived on the scene and glanced around,
"Livia's back, Nicholas," Xena noted. "Meantime, Lucius and
David fought. Too bad I couldn't let him finish the job." A smirk crossed
her face as she savored the sight of LaCroix crawling on the ground. "See
to him. We've got a job to deal with."
"If you need assistance, you know where to call," he told her.
"Thank you," she accepted. "I do." With that, she
vanished, followed by Deirdre who closed the portal behind them.
After they left, Alyce inquired, "What do we do now?"
He glanced about at the ruined display area. "First, we get this area
cleaned up. Then, try to calm LaCroix down. Other than that, there's not much
more we can do..."
"Yet," LaCroix asserted, standing up slowly. "I...will avenge
myself on Dubois for that indignity and nothing either of you can say will
change that!" With that, he soared off.
Alyce gulped nervously, failing to find the words to describe her
Nick embraced her, trying to make her feel better and feeling her reassuring
presence against him as well. As they had all feared, the situation hadn't ended
yet. Not by a long shot.
Chapter 7 [Amazon Village]
As the battle between Dave and LaCroix happened in the modern day, Velasca
and Cybelle squared off in the village center. For what seemed like hours, the
two combatants blasted and ducked at each other, leaving potholes in the Earth
"Give up!" Velasca demanded.
"I don't think so!" the priestess retorted, firing back and
knocking her opponent down.
The goddess jumped back on her feet. This adversary was quite formidable in
her own right, that was for sure. Summoning up a big charge, she fired again,
stunning Cybelle in the process.
"Now to finish you!" Velasca crowed and fired again--only to see a
telekinetically thrown piece of wood intercept it.
Turning, she saw Hope stagger into view. Although the latter could barely
maintain her balance, she had a bone to pick with her father's new tool.
"Tell Father that...I'm not...coming back!"
"Look at you! You can barely stand up!" Velasca chuckled.
"Give up now and I'll just take you with me."
"Never!" the other denied, sending a hailstorm of projectiles at
her pursuer. However, due to her weakened condition, she wavered, eventually
collapsing and blacking out.
"Now to put an end to this," the former Amazon stated.
"Not yet," another voice disagreed from nowhere. Then, from the
mists over by the woods, four more figures appeared.
"What? Where do these gnats keep coming from?" the attacker
roared, firing still more blasts.
For their parts, Angie pushed Deirdre out of the way while Dave and Livia
leapt to the side.
"Think you can slow 'er down for a couple of minutes?" he
"I'll see what I can do," the Roman commander told him before
rushing into the fray.
After seeing her do so, he turned to his companions. "Everyone seems to
be in one place. Deirdre, can you pop the wounded, your mother, and yourself
away from here?"
From where she was assisting Xena, Angie posed, "And what are you going
"Cover you!" he argued, sprinting back for the battle site.
"Dave, stop!" she protested to no avail. As she tried to follow,
she heard Xena moan painfully.
"Good to hear you," the oncologist told her "roommate".
"Just relax, okay?"
"Angela? Is that you?" the barely-conscious warrior murmured.
"Help...Eve and Gabrielle..."
"We've got them taken care of," the doctor fibbed, trying to
reassure her friend. "Relax. We're going to get you all out of here."
"Good..." she whispered, lapsing back into a daze.
As the mists covered them, Angie stared toward the village center where the
inevitable battle was about to take place.
As with Cybelle before her, Livia gave Velasca a hard time, flipping and
gyrating away from her concussive bursts. At times, she even managed to land
some solid blows of her own.
Yet, all this did to the Amazon turned goddess was to enrage her further.
With a lucky strike, she put her latest attacker on the ropes, and after another
volley, Livia lay unconscious on the ground.
"Hrrumph!" Velasca exclaimed disappointedly. She craved a
challenge badly. "Too bad."
"I'd say," Dave piped up as he came into view. "So, you're
Velasca. A little scrawnier than I thought."
"Is that all they can send against me? A man?" she roared.
"And what's wrong with my gender? Honey, you're about to see what the
right man can do for a job," he cracked, a measure of mock indignation
seeping into his voice.
At that moment, Deirdre popped in beside him. "Papa, what're you
"Go and stay with your mother," he instructed.
"Who do you think sent me? This is suicide!" the younger priestess
"She's got a point," Velasca quipped, allowing an insulting tone
to coat her words. "No man can fight worth anything!"
"Hey, stay out of this!" he growled, allowing his anger to surge
within him. Turning back to his daughter, he stated, "Get Livia and scram!
No buts! Tell your mother I love her. That goes for you too! Now get!"
As she locked gazes with him, she saw the fear mixed with the anger. As much
as she hated to admit it, he was right. From having watched him fight Dijon, she
knew he was about to release his darkness. Nodding, she leaned over the
unconscious body of her friend. "I'll be back for you, Papa," she
vowed as the mists covered them both.
"'Papa'?" the attacker chuckled. "You're Dubois?"
"Guilty as charged," he affirmed. In one motion, he strung and
fired a shaft deep into her chest.
"Oh, get real!" she bellowed, pulling the arrow from herself.
"I'm not mortal!" She sent another volley his way.
He erected a psychic shield, deflecting the projectiles. "Try
again!" he baited.
For the next ten minutes, she kept firing and he kept ducking. The ricochets
singed the straw and wooden structures around them, eventually setting them
ablaze and saturating the air with soot, smoke, and heat.
"You really need help. You know that?" he rasped, trying to keep
his focus despite his difficulty in breathing. Sweat poured down his face and
his eyes and throat burned from the acrid environment.
"Don't tell me what I need!" she spat, firing again.
Catching the blast full force, he flew back, knocking him through the wall
of the Queen's hut. For a full three minutes, the stars spun through his vision
as he regained his composure. One thing was for certain: Velasca's reputation
definitely measured up to the myths he had heard in his ancient history classes
as well as Xena's accounts.
Even as he started to collect himself, he felt his darkness surge and sweep
Unaware of the changes in the wreckage, she bellowed, "I know you're in
there, Dubois! Come out! I promise I'll kill you quickly!" Not getting a
response, she muttered, "I can't see why Lousain's so afraid of him. He's
only a man." Training her focus on the main hut, she brought the rest of
the structure down around him. "So much for him. Now, for Xena and the
others!" Turning, she began to walk away from the scene.
At that moment, the rubble of Gabrielle's lodgings quivered and exploded
outward in all directions. As he rose from the remaining debris, his right eye
was clearly closed and his mouth twisted in a wicked grin. "Now ya've done
it. Now, ya've really pissed me off!" the Child growled, releasing a roar
for added emphasis. For some reason, he felt more in his element than at any
Velasca turned, a satisfied smile spread across her face. There was
something different about him now...a darkness that emanated off of him in
waves. "Perhaps you do deserve your reputation after all, Dubois!"
"Big Brother ain't here!" he replied tersely. "Ya got me
now!" Summoning a blast of his own, he steamrolled her with a mega burst of
his own. "How'd ya like them apples?"
Slowly, she made her way to her feet, staring at him. Where was this display
minutes before? "No matter," she told herself, charging him.
His grin spread even more if that was possible. "Aw..." he chided.
Locating a particularly large boulder on the woods' edge, he strained to
telekinetically fling it at her. The projectile smacked her square into the
"Now for the last touch," he savored, looking at the boulder
hanging in the air. With an eye blink, he allowed it to drop right on top of
her. "Damn it, ah forgot to pay th' bill 'gain!" he quipped.
The rock cracked and crumbled. Would it hold...?
[Forest clearing-about 2 miles from the battle site]
Angie took a deep breath and glanced around nervously. Scattered around her,
many Amazons lay severely wounded and burned from Velasca's attack. Moving
quickly, she tried to treat as many of them as she could, but the task was
proving to be too much for her.
Sitting down on the cool grass, she ran her hands through her hair in
frustration. "How are we going to get out of this one?" she wondered.
"We will," Gabrielle replied reassuringly, rubbing her friend's
shoulder. "You need to rest."
"I wish I could, but frankly, between Dave and Xena right now, my mind
is being flooded with pain. It's all I can do just to keep sane," the
"David's been through this type of thing before," the queen
reminded her. "As for Xena, I'm scared too...if that means anything."
Angie smiled warmly. "It does. Thank you for helping to keep things in
"What do you mean?"
"Well, here I am just worrying about my husband and myself...and you're
thinking of the fate of the entire Amazon nation. Kind of selfish on my part,
don't you think?" the doctor supposed.
"And I'm not worrying about Xena, Eve, and David right now? Believe me,
I'm very concerned about you all. Angela, there's nothing wrong with feeling the
way you are now. Because of my relationship with Francesca, I know what you and
Xena share between you. As her soulmate, I know what that feels like,"
"I would never come between you and Xena, Gabrielle."
"I know that," the bard agreed. "And you all opened your
homes and lives to Eve, Xena, and me. That means a lot. Those first few days in
your time were unnerving, but having Francesca there was a great help, as was
your allowing me to talk with Xena as you did."
Getting up from the rock, Angie made her way over to her fallen
"roommate". Squatting down, she ran her fingers through the warrior's
raven black hair, admiring the strength in the other's unconscious features.
"You're welcome. She's been so reassuring since we've been together. She's
changed me...made me more assertive...and she's helped Dave so much with his own
struggle to control his Child." She nodded sadly.
"She has that effect," Gabrielle concurred. "When we first
met, I was only a simple peasant girl full of bluster and thinking I knew
everything because I could recite a few scrolls. Xena taught me not just about
life, but how to lead it. I've become a better person for my travels with her.
So, I think I know what you're talking about, Angela."
The doctor studied her blonde companion closely. While from Xena's memories,
she knew that Gabrielle was telling the truth; she still couldn't believe that
the girl from Potadeia was actually the same person as the Amazon leader who
stood beside her. "I'm glad I'm not alone right now. Thanks for being
"You're not alone. Neither of you are," Xena's voice reassured
them. In front of the two women, the warrior's image appeared.
"How's Dave doing?" Angie wondered.
"He's lapsed again, but he's kicking Velasca's ass," the Warrior
Princess reported. "How's everyone doing?"
"We lost about 20 warriors to Velasca's attack. Angela's treated the
rest of the wounded. In a few hours, they should be up and around,"
"We don't have a few hours, Gabrielle. That's the problem. Obviously
Dahak's on the move again, and I can't do anything about it," Xena informed
her best friend.
"You know, Xena," Angie suggested. "I could heal you."
"What?" the bard wondered.
"That hidden talent of yours. Are you up to it?" the warrior
"Doesn't look like we have much of a choice, does it?" the
oncologist declared. Rubbing her head, she added, "Xena, you don't have
much longer. If I don't do it, you'll die."
Gabrielle shot her a frantic glance, hating the fact that she was only a
bystander in this conversation.
"She's got internal bleeding. I didn't want to tell you until I knew
how she would pull through. And since her life force is keeping me
"If she dies, you die," Gabrielle realized. "Okay, let's do
Laying their friend on the ground, the women looked at her for a long
minute. Angie concentrated, looking deep within herself and her surroundings for
serenity and calmness. Finding it, her hands began to glow, and she laid them on
the warrior's left side, allowing her energies to flow between them.
Gabrielle mouthed a silent prayer to Eli, begging him to support Angie's
efforts in this regard.
For several minutes, Angie kept this up, hoping that she could bring Xena
back. Within the other, she could feel the blood flowing, the wounds healing,
and the pulse at least strengthening to an irregular beat. Finally, she had to
stop, sighing, "I...it's so...much..."
The queen checked her friend's neck. "She's got a pulse. It's weak, but
it's a pulse...."
"I bought us some time, Gabrielle," the oncologist explained.
"Maybe I...can...try again...in a little while."
"Angela, you'll kill yourself."
"I agree," a familiar male voice stated from behind them.
Turning, they saw Ares appear behind them.
He strolled over, trying to seem as in control as ever. However, the concern
over the fallen warrior was written clearly across his face. Seeing their facial
expressions, he stated, "Hey, I wanna help, okay?"
"Yeah right," Angie scoffed. "Like...in Althanor...and
"Hey, I won't deny that I had my reasons for those moves, but I also
would never stand by and watch Xena die. You know that, Gabrielle. Remember on
Olympus?" the war god responded defensively.
The bard-queen agreed, "He's got a point, Angela. All right, but if she
He shook his head derisively. Even after risking his immortality on her
behalf, Gabrielle still didn't trust him. Putting his hands on Xena's stomach,
he sent his energies into her, continuing the process that Angie had started. As
he did so, he saw something. Glancing first at the doctor and then at Xena, he
Slowly, Xena grew stronger. She took a few breaths, each stronger than the
last, and opened her eyes. "I'm...back."
"Thanks to Ares and Angela," Gabrielle recounted.
Climbing to her feet, the warrior steadied herself and expressed,
"Thank you, Ares. I know I was slow doing so on Olympus, but I wanted to
say it now."
He nodded and smiled in appreciation. "You're welcome. I'll see what I
can do for Eve and Livia."
Turning to Angie, she continued, "Angela, I wanted to thank you as
well. You've been so helpful in patching up my sister Amazons and for standing
by Gabrielle. We're even now, I guess."
"I don't recall anyone keeping score. That's what friends do for each
other," Angie dismissed the notion with a wave of her hand. Then, her
cheeks flushed slightly as she continued, "At least that's what Dave always
The warrior grinned and hugged her two friends tightly.
"Oh gosh! Dave!" Angie realized. "He's still taking on
"I'll handle that. Gabrielle, Angela, keep an eye on Eve, will ya? I
still don't trust Ares to do the job," Xena stated, whistling.
From the temporary corral, Argo II galloped to her mistress's side.
"You shouldn't be doing this, Xena," Angie admonished.
"As you said earlier, 'We don't have much of a choice.' I'm not about
to leave David by himself. Velasca he can handle, but who knows what else Dahak
has up his sleeve?" With a shrill yell, she motioned for her mount to
gallop away, slowly disappearing from view.
The two women watched as their friend vanished into the woods. So much had
happened on that day. They hoped to get out of it without any further damage if
possible. Returning to the makeshift infirmary, they resumed tending to the
fallen warriors and praying for the best.
The Child silently paced the area, inspecting the carnage from Velasca's
attack. Everything was ruined. The huts burned, sending pyres of smoke billowing
into the sky. The ground was pock marked where her deflected blasts had
impacted. The bodies of the fallen Amazons were everywhere. In short, the
village was a total wipe.
"Big Brother's sure gonna be pissed," he muttered low. "That
witch can sure do some work."
Then, from across the square, he heard the boulder explode. "Shit!
Speakin' of which...."
The goddess screamed, "Dubois!"
"Yeah, ah'm still here!" he growled, firing another burst.
"Try this, Bitch!"
She fired again, deflecting his bursts.
At that point, they released a blast at the same time, which kept canceling
each other out, but neither gave an inch. Both combatants stood their ground,
forcing each other to first retreat and then regain their turf. It was a
"Give...up," she directed.
"Bitches...first," he spat tersely.
Then, they heard the familiar war cry, followed by the chakram flying from
the woods, gashing Velasca's arm before returning from whence it came. "Xena!
"The girl's fulla surprises!" he cracked, blasting her off of her
feet again. Now, he could see the Warrior Princess ride into view. "'Bout
time! This one's feisty!"
"That she is," Xena agreed. "My turn!" Flipping off of
her saddle, she landed right in front of the fallen goddess. As the latter fired
again and again, she twisted and gyrated through the air, evading the other's
"Nighty, night," the warrior hissed as she stabbed her adversary
in the chest.
Unlike the arrow before, the sword actually drew blood. "H...How?
"And I can kill scum like you," Xena muttered with sarcastic
sweetness, pulling the blade back out.
"No...matter...Dahak...and Lousain...aren't...done," Velasca
"Ya tell 'im that ah'll be waitin'! He can't hide in his pit from
me!" the Child snarled.
She nodded and her head fell back to the ground as she expired. A pyre of
flame suddenly consumed her, erasing her existence from the world.
"That was somethin'," he remarked, rubbing his left shoulder.
"What's wrong with your shoulder?" she asked with concern.
"Old war wound," he groused. "She stank like Lousain. You
feel the darkness?" Seeing her nod, he continued, "Ah got hit by one
of his creeps. Some of the stuff from the blade is here."
Xena scratched her head. Could that be what gave the Child his attitude? She
made a note to talk with Angie about it. If this wizard did attack, they would
need to watch David as well. "C'mon!" she told him, climbing on Argo
II's back. "You can ride with me."
He nodded and climbed up.
After he had done so, Argo II took off, bearing them away from the battle
scene to the clearing where the others waited for them.
Angie stumbled through the clearing, her senses keenly aware of what was
going on around her. Most of the Amazons who were going to recover from the
attack were patched up. The deceased lay in a row under a tree off to the side.
Her concern over how Dave and Xena were faring against Velasca wore away at her
as well. More over though, the conflict and devastation had wiped away the
Amazon village, leaving nothing by rubble and debris in its wake.
She was tired of all of this chaos. She knew that life would never be normal
for them, but the strife had been extreme lately. And, given the signs, it
wouldn't get easier anytime soon.
Glancing to her left, she noted that Varia was awake, lying on her makeshift
cot with her left arm in a sling, her frustration clearly written across her
face. The warrior wanted to be doing something.
"How's it going?" Angie asked, although she already knew the
"I want to be doing something," the patient muttered moodily.
"Not just lying here."
"If you want that arm to heal properly, you'll need to stay there.
Hopefully, Cybelle will have something for it," the doctor advised.
"You're worried about your man, aren't you?" Varia inquired.
"Yes, I'm concerned about my husband's welfare, not to mention Xena's,"
the oncologist related. "Hopefully, they'll be okay." She shuddered
momentarily as a hint of fear crept across her senses. Something was going on
with him, and she needed to find out what it was.
"At some point, we owe him an apology," the former queen stated.
"At our council meeting, the Amazon elders argued against asking for
his help right away. Historically, we haven't been too keen on asking for the
help of men...and when Queen Gabrielle brought him up as a possible ally, we
dismissed him without full consideration," Varia sighed sadly. "Maybe
if we had asked him, our village would still be standing and my sisters would
still be alive."
Recalling Xena's memories from the meeting, she winced for a second. Then,
collecting herself, she responded, "We'll never know, but I'm sure he'll
appreciate it. All he wants is acceptance," Angie informed her patient.
"He's not the type to hold a grudge over something like that."
"I hope not. He's proven himself to be a valuable ally...as have you. I
see why Xena, Eve, and Gabrielle talk so highly of you both," Varia told
"Thank you for that thought. Now, please rest. I'll be back to check on
you shortly," Angie concluded. After watching her patient drift off to
sleep, she crossed the clearing, heading for where Gabrielle sat next to Eve.
Seeing that the latter was awake, the doctor greeted, "Good to see your
eyes open, Eve. How are you feeling?"
"I'm...still a little dizzy," the princess related. "But I'm
feeling better. Thanks."
"Take your time. Remember, there's no rush for you to get back on your
feet," Angie informed her.
"Thanks again, Angela, for your help," Gabrielle expressed.
"No problem," Angie replied pleasantly, trying to force a smile
despite her fatigue. "I hate to say it, but I'm going to need a break
"Why don't you take one?" Gabrielle requested. "Angela,
"No. Keeping busy makes the time go by faster until Dave and Xena get
back here," Angie disagreed.
The queen and the princess exchanged skeptical glances. Knowing her link to
both Xena and Dave, it was obvious that the battle in addition to her nonstop
care giving was wearing her out.
At that moment, they heard hoof beats approaching their position. Looking
towards the forest path, they saw Xena and Dave riding up on Argo II.
Both riders looked grim. She kept looking over her shoulder at him. For his
part, he held his left shoulder tightly, taking deep breaths.
From that shoulder, Angie sensed the coldness she had felt earlier.
Pulling to a stop, Xena dismounted and then helped him off of the saddle.
"What happened?" Gabrielle inquired.
"Velasca's been taken care of," the warrior pointed out as she
helped her friend to sit beside a rather large oak tree.
Angie rushed over to her husband's side. "What is it?" she pushed
worriedly. Upon seeing the old wound glowing at her, she realized, "It's an
old wound, but it hasn't bothered you in years! Why's it acting up now?"
"Who...cares?" the Child snarled. "Lou...sain's back. His
stink is settin'... off the pain"
She froze abruptly. "But you killed him!"
"According to Velasca, he's back," Xena declared, rubbing her
He writhed on the ground, tearing at his skin. "Arrrgh! Damn that SOB!
Ah'll kill 'im for this!"
Angie tried to steady him, wishing that their new friend, Emma, were there
so she could put soothing thoughts into his mind. She tried to remain calm, but
seeing him in so much pain brought tears to her eyes.
"If only I had something left," she sighed, reflecting on how
drained her attempt to heal Xena had left her.
"Stop it!" he hissed. "Ya're upsetting Big Brother! Ah can't
deal with this crap and that!"
Her brow furrowed a bit at his outburst. Did the Child just express concern
over Dave's welfare? It was surprising to say the least, but that was something
to be explored at another time. For now, she nodded, blinking away her tears and
agreed, "Okay, I'll try."
He nodded silently in appreciation.
Eve struggled to her feet and slowly made her way over to their side.
"I might be able to do something."
"But you're still weak!" Xena protested.
"Mother, if I don't, he'll be lost to us. I don't recall us having
another option," her daughter countered.
Angie turned to her friend. Normally, she wouldn't allow it given the
latter's condition. However, she was torn between her roles as doctor and wife.
Seeing the situation, Gabrielle put her hand on Xena's shoulder and
indicated, "She's right. There is no other way."
The warrior nodded, wiping away tears of her own.
Eve set her mouth in a firm line and began to chant fervently. For several
long minutes, she prayed to Eli, requesting strength. Then, her eyes snapped
open and she asked the professor. "Are you both there? Will you work with
"Yes..." Dave managed to whisper, forcing a nod.
"Yeah," the Child hissed, his eyes watering from holding the pain
"Very well," the former Messenger declared, looking into the sky
and extending her hands Heavenward. "Eli, hear the words of your humble
servant. I request your help in healing these individuals who have endured the
pain of the Pit and has defeated your enemies. Please help me to purge him of
Lousain's evil within him." For a minute, she sat quietly, and then laid
her hands on the troubled spot. "In the name of Eli and all of the forces
of Heaven, I command this evil presence to be cast out!"
As the energies flowed into him, he spasmed violently. His eyes snapped open
and he croaked abruptly.
"David! Don't fight it! Both you and the Child need to work with
me!" Eve commanded.
Suddenly, he seized her wrist with iron-like grip, hissing,
"Ah...We...are! Don't... stop...Don't let go!"
"We're all here," Angie grabbed his other hand. "Fight
"Brace yaselves!" the Child growled. Closing his eyes and feeling
Eve's energies in him, the two entities gained strength and support. "Ah
said git out! We both want ya out...and we'll do it! GIT OUT DAMMIT!!!!"
Then, he screamed and went silent.
"Dave? Dave!" Angie pushed frantically, probing his mind.
Xena and Gabrielle stood close by, watching and mouthing prayers of their
own. Finally, the former wondered, "Eve? How is he?"
"I've done all I can, Mother," she told the others. "Now, all
we can do is wait."
"I knew there was some potential in you," Livia baited.
With one motion, the angered warrior drew her sword and pointed it at the
conqueror. "Stay away from her!"
"Now, Mom," the Roman stated. "I don't want to hurt her. I
was just complementing her is all."
"So you say," her mother hissed, taking a step forward.
"Consider your friend there. His two selves need each other to
co-exist. The same can be said of me and her," Livia noted.
"I don't need you!" Eve denied vehemently, rising to face her
"Casting out a sinner are we now? And I thought that all of you
Eli-Lovers cared for everyone's souls," she cracked. "In any event, we
need each other. All of us. When you're ready to talk, I'll be ready."
Glancing to her right, she saw Varia stumble toward her with a sword ready
to strike. "Yes?" she asked with a bit of wry amusement.
"Get away from us, you Bitch!" the former queen bellowed, swinging
wildly with her weapon.
Livia vaulted over her head effortlessly, her foot catching the Amazon's
shoulders and pushing her to the ground. "Consider that a warning,
Dear." Turning to Gabrielle, she requested, "Keep her away from me,
Auntie Gabrielle. If you care for her, you'll tell her to stay away from
me." Jumping on the back of a horse, she galloped off toward the remains of
Varia stumbled to her feet. "I'll kill her yet!"
"Calm yourself, Varia," Eve advised. "She's right. We need
her and she needs us, at least for now."
"Bah!" the former queen exclaimed, stalking away.
"How's he doing, Angela?" Xena asked.
"He's...resting. At least his pulse is steady," the doctor stated.
Seeing the mists form, she inquired, "Deirdre?"
"No," Cybelle indicated, walking into view. "But she's
waiting to hear on how he's doing."
"Eve informed her, "I think we bought him some time. Can we get
back to Althanor?"
"Absolutely," the head priestess agreed. "Bring him. I'll
send my chief healer to tend to your sisters."
Xena and Gabrielle picked him up and carried him through the misty portal.
Eve followed closely behind her mother, still saying prayers for their
"Come, Angie. We'll get him through this," Cybelle assured her
sister-in-law. After they had walked through the portal, Cybelle closed it
behind them, leaving the scene behind them.
Conclusion [Two Days Later]
For much of the previous two days, Dahak had brooded over Velasca's failure.
Well, at least it was a failure in the long-term sense because the Amazons and
From far below, Velasca screamed as the fiery whips inflicted their damage.
Hearing her screams, he growled to his ally, "She'll learn for the next
The wizard shook his head, "Not after I'm done. She did a great job,
Dahak, since she took out several Amazons and destroyed their village. The
Messenger has been corrupted. And I have seen the darkness within Dubois with my
own two eyes. A fine second salvo."
"Why do you think I'm letting her live?" the demon lord posed.
"She's still useful, especially since we've lost Hope at least for the
present. Are your trolls ready?"
"They are. They wait for my signal."
"Excellent. It won't be long now," Dahak stated, returning to his
meditation. The third round would be the deciding one. Dubois and his friends
had been lucky to this point, but that wouldn't continue. Not by a long shot.
[Remains of the Amazon Village]
Hope wandered through the still smoldering debris of the Amazon village.
Despite all of the evil she had caused, a pang of pity and indignation ran
through her. Unbelievably, she was siding with her mother. "Perhaps my head
took one too many beatings from Father's demons," she hissed.
"Or perhaps you're getting soft?" a feminine voice jabbed from
The demon child demanded, "Who would dare?" Turning, she saw Livia
strut out of the smoke. "What do you want?"
"Relax, I just wanna talk. What do you think about all of this?"
the conqueror asked.
"It seems Father's just getting warmed up. One would be foolish to
"And are you planning to do so?" Livia asked. "Judging from
your scars, it would seem he has it in for you."
"He just wants me to be the obedient daughter," Hope contradicted.
"I've failed him on several occasions."
"And how many times can you survive with these failures? It seems that
your betrayal is well known. Judging from Velasca's zeal, I'd say you're on the
outs with Daddy," the Roman matron pointed out. "You wanna know what I
"Do I have a choice?"
Livia chuckled, "No. I'd say that your best option is with your mother
"And what's the deal with your 'offer'?" Hope wondered. "You
tried to do this yourself not so long ago."
"True, but my motivations are different now. My best option for success
lies in siding with Mommy. As much as hate it...the Amazons and her friends are
"And Eve?" Hope poked.
"What about her?"
"Doesn't it turn your stomach to look at her, to hear her
mewling?" Dahak's daughter challenged.
Livia frowned. "True, her musings do make me sick. Still, she's grown
strong. You should have seen her deal with Dubois' illness!"
"She's still a sissy pacifist," Hope doubted.
"Let me keep working on her," the Roman warrior indicated.
"Meanwhile, both Lucius and I think she has potential."
"Thanks for that at least," Eve replied.
The two evil women watched the former Messenger approach. Fighting the urge
to strike out at her, they glared daggers.
"Mother wanted to thank you both for deciding to stay," Eve
"Really? Do we have a choice?" Hope spat.
"In your case, I'd say no. If both of you come to the Light, there's
redemption for you." Seeing the indignation in their eyes, the princess
shrugged. "At least, keep the thought in mind. Now, our mothers want to
talk a bit. Shall we?"
The two villainesses looked at each other. What did they have to lose?
Having made that choice, they followed their "sister" toward the
temporary meeting place.
[House of Healing, Althanor-The next day]
Dave sat up on the bed on which he had rested for the previous two days. On
his left shoulder, a cloth wrap pressed a gauze pad. Rubbing his head, he tried
to rid himself of the pounding headache in his right temple. As his vision
cleared, he saw Angie, Xena, Gabrielle, Deirdre, and Cybelle watching him
"How are you doing, Chief?" the High Priestess wondered, her brow
was raised expectantly. "You gave us quite a scare."
"I'll say," his wife agreed, embracing him tightly. "Good to
have you back." She kissed his cheek.
"So, is it out?" he inquired.
"No," his sister sighed. "We couldn't remove it, but thanks
to Eve, we had time to get you back here. Wherever did you pick that splinter
"Remember when Lousain last attacked?" he responded nervously.
Seeing her nod, he continued, "One of his phantom priests nailed me with
its blade. It has affected me ever since."
"Well, Lousain isn't finished yet," Xena declared. "At least
not if Velasca and Hope are to be believed."
"That sounds like him," he concurred. "You kill him and he
keeps coming back. Maybe the third time's the charm."
"As if I'm going to let you go back in that pit," Angie disagreed.
Gabrielle, Cybelle, and Deirdre exchanged worried looks, recalling the
prophecy. There was no choice-Dave would have to take the fight to Lousain
himself in the not so distant future.
"We'll have to be prepared," the Warrior Princess affirmed,
rubbing her roommate's shoulder. "All of us."
Angie's eyes watered and she nodded in understanding. In this way, the die
was cast. They won another minor battle, and now they enjoyed a brief lull
before the storm.
Dave embraced her and soothed, "Shh...We'll make it. We always do. Do
you remember what I said to Dijon on the night I fought him?"
"Remember, no fear. If you show fear, you show weakness," he
advised, allowing a determined smile. "You're my light, Princess. With you
at my side, there's nothing I can't do. Now, I'd like to rest...."
"Sure," she concurred, taking one last kiss before standing back
up. "Come on, everybody." Guiding her cohorts out of the chamber, she
stole one more glance at him before closing the door behind her.
Dave looked up at the sky for a moment. Sure, the hardest of times were
coming, but for now, it was time to rest and get strong again. After all, what
good was an opportunity if you can't take advantage of it? In this case, the
future was at stake, and given the alternative, they couldn't fail.
"We shall overcome. We have to. For everyone's sake," he mused
before falling into a deep sleep, thinking of pleasanter things before the dark
times to come....
THE END (for now)
Well, I hope you enjoyed this one! The War Saga moves back to the Dubois
Chronicles with the next installment. In there, an epic packed with so many
characters that you'll need a scorecard to keep track of them all. You'll also
find out still more about Dave and the Child.
However, first, we need to step back a bit and look over the last
"Battle with the Dark" from earlier in the Dubois Chronicles.
Accordingly, next up is "Back to Nurrengaard" (DC 2.3).
So, stay tuned, and thanks for reading!
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