Something Wicked This Way Comes (War Saga II)
David J. Duncan
April 2002

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

Preface [Make-shift Tent, forest near the remains of the Amazon Village-82 AD]

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 blasts.

"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 insanity.

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 ready."

"Divia seemed to be healed from her wounds," the sorcerer pointed out.

"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 chorused, "Lord?"

"Yes?" Dahak inquired.

"The woman is ready," the taller of the duo noted, its head still bowed.

"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?" she asked.

"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 help."

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 way."

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, we'll begin."


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 challenged.

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 business!"

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 Dubois' brat!"

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 back.

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 troll?"

"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 me?"

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 fight. "No!"

"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 it?"

"What is?"

"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 on?"

"Cybelle just appeared by the outer outpost and is requesting your presence."

"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 marker. "Cybelle?"

"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 up?"

"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 right?"


"You had that faraway look that Nick Miles usually gets," the bard informed her.

"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 matter."

"Consider it done, my Queen," Varia agreed and led Hope away.

"Cybelle, please bring Deirdre and Genaria. I want to hear their account."

"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."


Chapter 4

[Dahak's realm]

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. "Hello, Xena."

"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 laughter.

"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 deadpanned sarcastically.

"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 area.

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 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 Xena.

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 away.


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 display.


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 investigate.

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 Livia."

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 them.

"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 recounted.

"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 command."

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 what?"

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 darkness.

"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''s urgent."

"Yes, sir," she agreed.

"Good. Then, shut the door before 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 thus far.

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 Miles."

" 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.

"'s Brigid Shannon. We met at the library when Alti attacked the first time."

He nodded, recalling the red headed girl. "Okay," he agreed. "What's wrong?"

"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.


Chapter 6

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 smoke.

"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, right?"

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 enough!"

"You and what army?" he cracked and slammed her with a psychic pulse.

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 her?"

"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 burst.

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 though."

The Child snickered. "Tell that to your brat! She's whacked out again!"

She cast her gaze across the room and discovered that her worst nightmare had indeed come true. Eve had relapsed into Livia. "No..." she whispered.

"Hi, Mom," the latter taunted with a wicked smile. "Wanna play?"

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, "What happened?"

"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 insecurity.

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 surrounding them.

"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 inquired.

"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 to do?"

"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 doing?"

"Go and stay with your mother," he instructed.

"Who do you think sent me? This is suicide!" the younger priestess protested.

"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 him away....


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 other point.

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 turf.

"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...?


Chapter 8

[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 oncologist noted.

"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 perspective."

"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," Gabrielle advised.

"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 here."

"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," Gabrielle noted.

"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 probed curiously.

"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 alive...."

"If she dies, you die," Gabrielle realized. "Okay, let's do it."

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, "'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 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. " Althanor...and Tucson?"

"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 dies...."

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 murmured, "Interesting..."

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 says."

The warrior grinned and hugged her two friends tightly.

"Oh gosh! Dave!" Angie realized. "He's still taking on Velasca!"

"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.

Chapter 9

[Amazon Village]

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 standoff.

"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! But how?"

"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 maneuvers.

"Nighty, night," the warrior hissed as she stabbed her adversary in the chest.

Unlike the arrow before, the sword actually drew blood. "H...How? I'm...a...god."

"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 continued.

"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.


Chapter 10

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 answer.

"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.

"For what?"

"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 have you. I see why Xena, Eve, and Gabrielle talk so highly of you both," Varia told her.

"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 pretty soon."

"Why don't you take one?" Gabrielle requested. "Angela, you're exhausted."

"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 shoulder.

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 me?"

"Yes..." Dave managed to whisper, forcing a nod.

"Yeah," the Child hissed, his eyes watering from holding the pain back. ""

"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 it."

"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. "C'mon!"

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 'sister'.

"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 the village.

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 friend.

"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]

[Dahak's Realm]

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 Althanorians survived.

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 time."

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 behind.

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 oppose him."

"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 think?"

"Do I have a choice?"

Livia chuckled, "No. I'd say that your best option is with your mother right now."

"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 hope."

"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 continued.

"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 intently.

"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 up?"

"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?"

She nodded.

"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!












Back To Main Page