by Joseph Anderson

The characters Jilly, Sam, Angela and Kush all belong to me. However they are originally derived from Xena: Warrior Princess. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story is a sequel to Jilly: Space Ranger. In my Kimberly/Jilly chronology it would follow My Brother's Keeper and Good Prince Samuel.

There is graphic violence, rough language, and some fairly explicit sexual situations in this story.

Part I

The air was humid and hot with foul heavy mists swirling in tiny tornadoes. Ares gazed around him with distaste at the lichen covered rock formations surrounding him in the diffused grey light. He finally saw what he was seeking. Several large forms were circling each other, their tails flicking before they would leap at each other. The God of War watched them admiringly a moment. The creatures were causing horrific damage to each other, but would heal after a moment and continue fighting. They stood upright like men but were more bulky and were scaly with long tails. Their heads somewhat resembled crocodiles and they had claws not hands. One of them, larger than the rest, almost appeared bored as it inflicted what should have been killing wounds over and over on its adversaries.

Ares called out "Hold it!" The creatures stopped their endless fighting and looked at him. The large one hissed and flicked his tongue at the sight of him. "You. I want to talk to you. The rest of you go back to what you were doing." The creature approached him, growling as his caste brothers resumed their battle.

The God of War smiled. "So you're the Lord Military. My, my, my. VERY IMPRESSIVE. You killed my Jilly--twice. AND you did it as a warrior not some treacherous little weasel. That got my attention."

The Lord Military looked at this creature speaking to him. He knew it was a diety of some sort and resembled the last aliens he had fought.

"Who are you? And who is Jilly?" he growled.

"I'm your new boss and Jilly was who you died fighting. I had a little talk with my Slithloc counterpart about you. He's going to let me borrow you. Never mind what I'm giving him."

"I have to serve you?" the Lord Military said with disgust.

Ares grinned. "I like you already. You don't even know me and you already hate me. You pick up fast. You're going to like what you're going to do though. I could see how bored you were over there. They aren't in your league. You are going to get a chance to fight some worthy opponents and kill more of the creatures like you fought."

The Lord Military looked contemptuously down at this puny appearing being. It looked up at him, smiling even wider and said, "Let's get this over with," and slapped the Slithloc across his snout. With a hiss he swung a claw at the creature who made no move to avoid it. Instead of tearing its head off it felt like he had hit a wall. Then the creature's hand shot out and the Lord Military gasped as he felt his chest cave in. He fell back collapsing and looked at the creature holding his beating heart in his hand. "Get the picture?" He tossed his heart back at him and the Slithloc felt his chest reseal. He got up.

"What's your name, by the way? Must get confusing, you and your friends over there all called Lord Military."

"They are caste brothers, not 'friends.' I was called Kush before becoming a Lord Military," he said with a hiss.

"Let's go, Kush," Ares said. He and the Slithloc military disappeared in a blaze.


Jilly and Angela caught each other's eyes and were instantly moving. They felt SOMETHING.

"What is it?" Sam said. Bancher looked confused and he grabbed up his little son Garen. They'd been in Sam's apartments eating when Sam's consort Angela and his sister the queen just leapt up, grabbing their respective swords from where they were hanging.

"I don't know yet, Sam," Jilly said. She was remaining near Bancher and Sam as Angela carefully prowled the large suite of rooms.

"Nothing, Jilly," the redhaired Captain of the Guard said. She returned next to them. "What'd it feel like to you?"

The queen shook her head, her eyes scanning the room. There was a loud crash outside on the balcony. Both women were there instantly.

"Sam, get out here!" Angela called.

Jilly said, "Keep Garen inside, Bancher."

The tall longhaired prince came out and stopped. There were three mangled and bloody forms on the floor: his bacchae. They couldn't be killed because of their nature; otherwise they would be dead. He knelt beside them as his sister and his consort stood on either side of him scanning the night.

"Oh, my girls, my sweet girls!" Sam said softly as he stroked their hair. Fotena, Elvira and Clealisthenes looked at him unable to speak even if they had wanted to, since their throats were torn out. All three had terrible gaping wounds and Clea's head was barely attached to her body.

Angela said, "What could do this, Jilly?"

The queen was looking at the bacchae with a strange expression. "I dunno, Angela." The redhead looked sharply at her, hearing something in her voice.

"You suspect something though, don't you?"

Jilly said. "It just reminds me of a dream I had once, Angela. That's all."


Jilly was watching Sam with his bacchae. It disgusted her but so what? She'd done worse and with much less of an excuse. He had a condemned prisoner hanging upside down from the ceiling over a large bowl. Several more were under guard outside if they were needed. He was lifting Fotena's head up and giving her blood to drink from his golden cup. He had stripped what was left of their clothes off, washed and bandaged the three once-beautiful creatures. They didn't want Jilly or Angela touching them. The bacchae would heal quickly, of course, but were so mangled it would still take weeks. Elvira alone had a leg and a hand to somehow regrow or whatever they did. Jilly hadn't realized how attached Sam was to them. Bancher didn't want to watch the prisoner's throat being slit and didn't want Garen to see it, so they had left for Jilly's apartments on the other side of palace. Jilly sent guards with them. She didn't think Bancher or his son were in any danger. They were only important to her; not like Sam.

Angela watched Sammy, afraid he might faint or throw up. He'd insisted on doing it himself when Angela prepared to cut the prisoner's throat. She watched him close his eyes, take a deep breath, then open them and awkwardly kill the struggling man begging for mercy. Sam didn't even know how to hold the knife and it took him something like five cuts as the man flopped and screamed. He'd never personally killed anyone.

"Why do you want to do this?" she'd said, gripping his wrist, as he prepared to strike the first blow and the hanging prisoner wept.

Sam had looked at the three bloody piles of twitching meat. "I owe it to 'em, Angie."


Angela was seething. Jilly studied the tall young officer with her pretty, off-center face and flat-black fighting leathers. Captain Angela was one scary broad, especially when it came to Sam. Angela was sure this was a prelude to an attempt on Sam's life. Jilly had stopped the guard captain from just hauling people in at random and torturing them to see if they knew anything. "This is my kingdom, Angela. I don't do that."

The freckled green-eyed woman looked like she wanted to cut her open but just said, "Whatever you say, Jilly. You're the queen." She went back in the room with Sam and his bacchae and just crossed her arms leaning against the wall, where she could watch the window and door.

The Lord Military had finished eating an animal. He heard it called a goat and he rather liked the taste of it, even without seasoning; it reminded him of dollot. Ares had said he could eat people if he wanted and the Slithloc had just looked at him. The alien god thought he was some sort of beast and wanted him to act the part. Ares was disappointed he had insisted on slaughtering and cooking the goat and wanted implements to eat with. How could his own gods have given him to serve this terrible being? This world was unbelievably primitive. It couldn't possibly have sent the space craft he had seen previously, so he thought he was in its past somewhere.

Those three creatures he had fought were awfully good. Ares told him they couldn't die so not to worry about that. He had received some superficial wounds but was unharmed otherwise. After their defeat, the alien god had appeared and said he had a use for them. The Lord Military was anxious to meet Jilly again. Kush didn't want to fight her though feared he would have to for this filthy alien diety. He respected her as a caste brother and had often thought of their battle in which he had died. Apparently she had perished moments later. Kush would prefer to fight at her side against a shared enemy.


"Show yourself!" Angela commanded. Jilly was with Sam, and Angela had been wandering the streets of the village near the castle. She had been passing an alleyway when she heard a scraping sound. Whirling with her sword instantly in her hand she was facing the dark cul-de-sac. A tall figure came into the moonlight wearing leathers of foreign design. His clean shaven features were handsome and had a foreign look she couldn't place, with black eyes, high prominent cheekbones, almond skin and straight blonde hair.

"Who are you?" she demanded.

The Lord Military noted her reaction and looked down at his body, suspecting something. He appeared to be one of these aliens now. It didn't really surprise him. Nothing base or undignified from Ares surprised him anymore. The body he inhabited was as tall as his own but at least a third less bulky, and he was wearing garments something like the military questioning him.

"I am Kush," he said, noticing with interest his new alien voice.

"Yeah, and who are you, Kush?" she said. He spoke with an accent she couldn't identify either. Angela was alert. This was no ordinary warrior. He had the same kind of vibe she got from Jilly and Xena.

This caste brother was ready to slay him, sensing his status as a Lord Military. Kush could sense the same in her and began to walk toward her. She grinned and began to weave her sword.

"Ares brought me," he said, stopping two sword lengths from her.

Angela stopped smiling. "Why?" she demanded.

"Perhaps to fight Jilly again."

Angela was trying to think. Again? "Are you responsible for the bacchae?" she asked.


"The flying women."


"They guard Prince Samuel. Are you here to kill my prince?" she asked frigidly.

He heard her tone. The prince was their leader and this was his champion. It made Kush nostalgic. In a primitive culture such as this a great military meant something. He had just been a cog in the Slithloc bureaucracy no matter how skilled he was. The Slithlocs hadn't had leaders such as her prince for thousands of years. "I do not know. I must serve Ares," he answered simply.

"As must all," a low melodious voice said. "Put your sword away, Angela. You don't need it." The beautiful God of War was smiling at Angela now, standing between her and Kush. He turned and winked at the tall male warrior, who showed no reaction.

"What's going on, Lord Ares?" Angela asked as she sheathed her sword reluctantly. She had heard the stories about Ares but up until now he had never done anything to make her do anything but love him. It looked like that was changing. She felt the strange warrior's dislike for the god which reminded her of Xena's.

"I'm just trying out a new favorite. You can understand that, Angela."

"You tried him out on Sam's bacchae?"

"Uh huh. Nasty looking weren't they? He's got a lot of talent."

Angela didn't understand. She was Ares' loyal servant. Why was he doing this?

"There, there, Angela. It's a god thing," Ares said with a smirking smile.

Kush was watching the exchange. He didn't know how his gods could hand him over to Ares, and she didn't know how Ares could treat her this way. You wanted to think the gods were just; but look at this cruel foul entity. How much better could the Slithloc gods be if they traded with him?

"Angela, I want you to take him up to the castle. He's not gonna kill Sam."

"I can't endanger Jilly like that either," she said.

Ares smiled and slapped her, sending her reeling back into the street. "It's not a request." The god disappeared in a blaze.

Kush walked to where the alien military lay in the street unconscious. He picked his caste brother up and began carrying her toward the primitive structure they called the castle.


"Your majesty! Captain Angela is being brought in by a stranger and appears hurt."

"Take me to her," Jilly snapped. Sam hadn't heard and she wanted to see what the situation was before he did. After what happened to his bacchae she didn't know how Sam would react. If Sam ordered something like a bloodbath and she countermanded it, everything between them would come to a head. Her army preferred Sam like everyone else.

"Send for more men," she said to the guards outside the apartment. Leaving Sam even for a moment wasn't something she wanted to do but she didn't think she had a choice. Following the messenger she reached the gate where a tall foreign warrior was holding Angela. He was surrounded by soldiers with swords and spears pointed at him but he didn't seem nervous. She stepped up and opened one of Angela's eyes. Jilly was relieved she just seemed unconscious.

"What happened?" she demanded. "Take her up to the prince's room and get a healer," she ordered. The warrior handed Angela to a couple of men who carried her away. "Well?" Jilly said.

Kush looked at her. It was the great caste brother he had died fighting. The last time he'd seen her he had blown her right forearm off and knocked out most of her teeth. She had cut off one of his claws and half his tail. Then she'd stabbed him in the back when he turned to deal with a traitorous Slithloc technical who had just shot him.

"Ares struck her when she refused to bring me here," he said.

Jilly studied him. His foreign leathers were intricately embossed with dragons or something, and the rings he wore on all of his fingers--even his thumbs-gave his hands a peculiar clawlike appearance. She had met him before somehow, she knew. He was dangerous, very very dangerous. "Move away from him," she ordered. "Why didn't Angela want to bring you here?"

"She thinks I may be dangerous to you...and perhaps to her prince. I fought his three protectors." He stopped speaking as Jilly's sword had snaked into her hand.

"And just why did you do that?" she said softly.

"At Ares' command," Kush said simply.

"Do I know you?" Jilly asked after a moment.

"Yes. I am forbidden to tell you more than that."

Jilly resheathed her sword. This sure sounded like something Ares would do. This foreign warrior was probably another poor stooge just like herself, her mother Kimberly, and Xena --unless it turned out to be Ares himself. She never used to think of him like that, but that was before he had staked her brother out as bait just to get Angela as his favorite.

"I'd remember you. How come I don't?"

"I am forbidden to tell you."

"Shit! Are you here to kill me or Sam....the prince?"

Playing games like this with a caste brother disgusted Kush. "Not unless Ares commands it."

Jilly stared at him. "Have you eaten?" she said finally.

"Yesterday I had a goat."

"That sounds appetizing." She had a wry smile. "Come with me; I'll whip up something for you. But give me your weapons first...slowly. You'll get them back unless I have to kill you."

Kush smiled at her confidence. She underestimated him. He slowly drew the long primitive blade and handed it to her grip first, followed by the shorter one. She looked at him ironically. "And..."

He didn't know what she meant. Jilly smiled at him then knelt in front of him and felt inside his boots, taking a knife from one. Then she retrieved a throwing knife that was hanging down his back on a thong. She studied him a moment then just reached into his garments and retrieved a small knife concealed on his thigh. Kush was amused at all this. The Lord Military had commanded an interstellar space craft--the idea of primitive concealed weapons was ludicrous.

Jilly examined the articles she had retrieved and looked up at him with something in her eyes. "Ares gave you these?" He nodded. She handed the weapons to a soldier. "Take these to my quarters. Be careful with them."

"You recognize them?" Kush asked curiously.

"Belonged to my mother," Jilly said shortly, leading him into the castle.


Angela opened her eyes and saw she was in her and Sam's bedroom. Another bed had been brought in. The three bacchae were in one, wrapped around each other like cats or something, and she was in another. Sam was asleep in a chair in between them. She felt okay. Ares had punched her out but she guessed he could do it without causing real damage. She was naked under the covers, her leathers neatly folded at the foot of the bed and her weapons hanging on the wall. She noticed four guards in the room, all awake and looking nervously at her. She just got out of the bed and said "Get out."

The guards practically scrambled out, their faces red. She looked over at Sam who had opened his eyes.

"Kinky aren't you?" he said, observing her long muscular freckled body she'd given the soldiers a view of.

She smiled and approached him and straddled his lap. "You know it, Sammy."

The door opened. She looked over her shoulder and then stood up and walked over to pick up her leathers. Sam's face was red.

"Glad you're feeling better, Angela," Jilly said sarcastically. "I was wondering why those guards looked like that."

"Different strokes, Jilly," Angela said as she was lacing her fighting leathers up.

"You just gonna sit there, Sam?" Jilly asked.

He didn't move, his face getting redder. Angela laughed.

"I'm sorry, Sam. I couldn't resist," Jilly said. "Angela, can I talk to you? I'll send some cold water in for you, Sam." She and Angela stepped outside as Sam groaned.

Jilly said, "A warrior named Kush brought you in. He said Ares knocked you out because you didn't want to bring him to the castle."

"That's about it, Jilly. I guess it's my turn to get screwed by Ares."

"I'm sorry, Angela." She could hear how hurt Angela was. Jilly knew exactly how she felt.

"Whatever. So where's Kush? Do you know him? because he knows you, Jilly. He said he fought you before," Angela said.

"He said that? I feel it but don't recognize him, and Ares won't let him to tell me how we've met. I gave him an apartment where he's under guard. They won't be able to stop him if he wants to leave, of course. Seemed like the thing to do though."

Angela nodded her head. "I know. If I wasn't worried about Sam I'd like to try him just to see how good he is. The way he tore up Sam's girls...that was something."

"Yeah. There's something wrong about that," Jilly said thoughtfully.

Angela looked at her. "What? You said when you saw them it reminded you of a dream."

Jilly said, "We've gotta get Sam to ask 'em what happened. We can't do that till they can talk which could be a while. Angela, those wounds...they don't look like sword or knife wounds to me."

Angela shrugged. "What then? I guess a spiked mace could do something like that, but I didn't see one on him. I suppose he could've stashed it somewhere. Do you know where he's from, Jilly? Maybe he has some special weapon."

"No, I've never seen anybody who looks like that...I'm not sure he used weapons."

"I don't get it, Jilly. There's no other way to do that kind of damage I know of."

"We've gotta talk to Sam's girls."


The Lord Military was lying on the floor in the room they had given him, the bed being too soft. He was trying to understand the society around him. Jilly and Angela were militaries without a doubt. But there were many others who seemed to have mixed characteristics. Perhaps they did not have strict castes at all though that was difficult for Kush to imagine. The guards Jilly had set on him for example: there were five of them and they seemed to run the gamut from military to clerical, though all wore weapons and were acting as militaries. He did not wish to sully himself by fighting any but a military, and he killed lower castes if they annoyed him as he would swat insects. Those attitudes were out of place here. Even Jilly: she had prepared him food herself like a server, though he could see she was the Lord Military here. The food had been incredible. He seemed to have different tastes now that he was in this alien form.

The door to his room opened. Kush stood up and looked at a creature he hadn't seen before. It was slightly shorter than him and had long dark hair hanging to its waist, and hair above its mouth. The Lord Military felt something in him, something he'd never felt anywhere. He definitely wasn't a military but he wasn't a technical or any other caste he could identify. He radiated power. Kush tried to remain calm.

"You hurt my girls," the figure said coldly.

"Yes. You are the prince. I see now," Kush said.

Before the prince could speak again, his champion the redhaired military was suddenly there, followed a second later by Jilly, both carrying swords and looking half out of their minds. They'd die for him without a moment's hesitation. The guards would too.

"Jesus Christ, Sam!" Angela said. She placed herself between him and Kush. Jilly looked like she wanted to hit the prince, so angry she couldn't speak.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"He could be here to kill you, for God's sake! He practically turned your bacchae into hamburger and you come to see him by yourself! Fuck!" Angela fumed.

"Are you here to kill me?" he said to Kush. The Lord Military could see he was completely without fear though incapable of defending himself.

"If Ares commands me to," he said.

"Ares won't do that, Angela. It would piss off you and Jilly too much, not to mention Bacchus," Sam said calmly.

"I'm not so sure about that," Jilly said. Angela didn't say anything, just watching Kush, ready to cut him to pieces if he made a move toward Sam.

"I am," Sam said. He understood it now. Ares was playing some sort of game, pushing his favorites to the edge. But he would never do anything that would lead them to completely renounce him, and killing him would do just that. His sister and Angela didn't understand power the way he did.

Fotena looked at her sisters in Bacchus. She thought she could stand, so made an effort and got out of the large bed. Elvira and Clealisthenes watched her. She stumbled but did not fall, and the blonde bacchae looked down at her naked body. The terrible scars would be gone soon. She growled with effort and hobbled to the curtained window and looked out at the night. Exhausted she made her way back to the bed with her sisters. Minutes later the door to the room opened and Sam walked in quickly.

"Oh girls!" he said, coming over to the bed. They were finally strong enough to kiss his hands. He let them do that for a moment then said, "Let's get you three decent looking, okay?" He opened a drawer and took out three diaphanous robes and carefully helped them into them. Elvira and Clea also made a try at standing but couldn't manage it as long as Fo had. When they were dressed and sitting on the bed, following him with their glowing eyes, he said, "Hungry, I'll bet." They nodded and he smiled. Sam went back to the door and said "Bring her in."

A big soldier came in, roughly pulling a bound and gagged prisoner, a young woman, whose eyes were wide with fear. She began struggling when she saw the bacchae looking hungrily at her.

"Chain her to the bed," Sam ordered and the soldier, who was looking fearfully at the scarred bacchae himself did as he was commanded. "You can go," the prince said, and the man left with relief, closing the door behind him.

Sam stood over the helpless prisoner. "You killed your husband, I understand, so you could have his partner. A pair of millers. You don't know how lucky you are I need fresh blood. It's much easier than being impaled." He smiled at the bacchae and walked over to them. "Whose first?...let's see, how about....Clea!" He helped her up and brought her over to the frightened woman, who began thrashing helplessly and screaming as loud as she could through her gag.


In the throne room Captain Angela was standing talking quietly with Kush about tactics. Sam was sitting in his throne reading over some provincial reports. Jilly was off with Bancher and Garen somewhere, living that double life she led now. She was a sweet wife to Bancher and stepmother to Garen when they were together, but the rest of the time she was Queen Jilly the Butcher. Angela figured one or the other would have to crack.

Ares had come to Angela and Jilly, both separately and together, and told them Kush was his new favorite and they didn't have to worry about him killing Sam. They'd tried asking the bacchae about what happened but they refused to tell, even when Sam ordered them. Jilly still seemed suspicious but accepted it. Angela wanted to believe Ares and not only because of her relationship with the god. She liked Kush and didn't want him to be her enemy. She enjoyed having another warrior around in addition to Jilly as a near equal. In fact she caught herself just looking at him sometimes. She loved Sam with her whole being; Kush was just so different though. She hadn't been a virgin when she met Sam but she hadn't slept with a lot of different guys either. And they had been sensitive nice guys, kind of like Sam used to be. When she looked at Kush Angela could understand those girls who hung around Hells Angels.

Kush tensed and Angela followed his gaze. Sam had said last week they could finally get out of bed. The bacchae looked as dangerous as ever now.

"Hold it!" Sam called standing up and setting the scroll aside he'd been reading. The creatures ignored him and began advancing on Kush. Angela was unsure where her loyalties should be.

Sam put himself between Kush and his bacchae, tripping and almost falling on his face in his hurry. "Goddamnit! I said to hold it!" he said angrily. The three lethal beautiful women stopped and looked at him. They were angry themselves.

"You saw what that THING did to us," Elvira said in a dangerous low voice.

"Thing?....FUCK! what was that?!" The room had rocked as if from an earthquake and interrupted Angela. Only one of the torches remained lit and standing before them now in the darkened room was a frightening figure, wide bodied and muscular, with red skin and long winding horns.

The bacchae were frozen where they stood, staring. Angela wanted to draw her sword but found she was paralyzed. Kush simply observed.

Sam said, "Lord Bacchus."

The God of Wine, Blood and Mystic Ecstasy said slowly in his deep echoing voice. "My favorite, the Prince of Blood...Yes...You continue to please me...Live forever, Blood King!" Sam was mystified but knew to keep his mouth shut. You didn't get into debates with Bacchus. You listened and tried to decipher it later. The sensual horned god looked at the bacchae and pointed a clawed hand at them, the torchlight playing off his huge naked muscles. They trembled. "My bacchae....I forbid you to attack this creature. I have use for him."

Elvira began to say something and was suddenly bouncing off the walls, ceiling and floor, apparently of her volition. Then she collapsed at the feet of her sisters. They looked down at her briefly then back at the massive dark god. Bacchus then pointed at Kush standing beside Angela. The god seemed to be studying him, cocked his big horned head, then smiled showing his long sharp teeth and disappeared in smoke. Angela could move again.

Clea and Fotena picked up Elvira, and Sam went off with them somewhere. Angela looked at Kush. "How do you rate?"

The tall warrior didn't say anything. Angela was trying to dislike him, to be suspicious of him. She just couldn't. She better stick close to Sam. Being alone with Kush made her feel uncomfortable. Sam was big and strong but she knew it was just his Xena genes. He could barely look at a sword without stabbing himself in the foot, and if he ever tried to punch somebody she was sure he'd find a way to knock his own teeth out. She looked at Kush's shoulders; they reminded her of Olympic class gymnasts she'd known in college. Captain Angela knew she was blushing and hoped Kush couldn't see it.

Part II

Angela returned to the palace quietly. The supposed uprising she had gone to investigate had turned out to be nonexistent. Just a rumor that had taken on a life of its own. She'd like to catch whoever started it but doubted there was anyway to discover the traitorous scum. So Angela had gone to a local jail searching for a condemned prisoner. She was in luck and found a robber. She'd spent a pleasant evening torturing him and then had him impaled. Angela was back a full week before she was expected. The guards came to attention as she passed them. Outside her and Sam's apartments the man on duty looked nervous when he saw her, but didn't say anything. She looked curiously at him.

"Any problems?"

"No, Captain."

He was sweating. She'd question him further later but was too tired now so the tall woman just nodded, opened the door, stepped inside and froze.


Sam was standing in the middle of the room with his three bacchae who were naked. Fotena's back was to Angela, being on her knees in front of Sam. He had his arms around the waists of the other two. The creatures yelped and flew out the window so fast they could hardly be seen. Sam was hurridly closing his robe.

"This isn't what it looks like!" he said gamely, wishing his girls had taken him with them.

The Captain of the Royal Guard slammed the door behind her, making Sam wince. "I thought you loved me, Sam," she said coldly.

The tall handsome prince, relieved he was still alive, approached her tentatively and reached out to take her hand, but she pulled it away from him. Thank God she wasn't like Jilly. If she'd caught Langland or Bancher like that they'd have been in a twenty pieces by this time.

"Angela, I do love you! This doesn't mean anything. They're my bacchae. Come on. That's not cheating on you. I'd never cheat on you!"

"What?" she said with disbelief.

Sam continued, trying to pull up all his reserves of charisma. He needed it now. "They belong to me and aren't even human. You know that. It's not like I was having an affair or something," he made a sound indicating how ridiculous the very idea would be. "It's more like masturbating. I mean, you were gone and, well, a man has needs, Angela!"

"While I've been out risking my life for you, you've been back here fucking three beautiful girls and YOU DON'T CONSIDER THAT CHEATING ON ME?!"

Sam gave her a sickly smile, wondering where the aformentioned beautiful girls had gotten to now that he might need them to save his bacon.

"You think they're beautiful? I hadn't really noticed." He was sweating. "Now that I know that's how you feel about it, it'll never happen again. Though I think you're overreacting a bit. I mean they're just bacchae."

The tall redhead looked down at her hands, so angry she thought she literally might explode. "Sam...Sam, not only does that stink because of what you're doing to me, it stinks because of how you're treating those girls. Jesus, they have no choice at all!"

"Oh, they like it, Angela," Sam said without thinking, then tripped and fell as he began to back away from her. The look in her eyes really scared him. She walked over to stand above him, looking down at him. Angela was afraid to start yelling at him, worried she might just lose control and kill him. It would be incredibly easy.

"I've gotta cool down, you son of bitch," she spat at him, turned on her heels and left the apartment, slamming the door behind her. She looked at the guard. Angela couldn't honestly blame him for not telling her. She was his superior but Sam was his prince.

"Captain..." he started to say. Angela punched him in the mouth.

"Don't worry about it," she said shortly, leaving him flat on his back.


Sam was shaking as he got to his feet. He looked around. "Well," he said. The bacchae reappeared from the open window, still naked. "I thought you were supposed to protect me," he said acidly. They looked away. He thought he saw a smirk on Elvira's face. Oh hell. He smiled at them. "Get some clothes on."


Angela went back to the stables. She selected another horse, quickly saddled it herself, and rode out of the castle. She looked at the soldiers on guard. Had they all known? she wondered. The idea humiliated her so much she felt like killing them. Had Jilly known? Probably not. Her apartments were on the other side of the castle, and it wasn't something anyone would likely mention to her. She began galloping the warhorse on a dark road, finally allowing herself to feel the rage she'd been holding in.

That fucking bastard! He doesn't even think he's cheating on me! Shit! Goddamn fucking prick! Lousy ratfuck asshole! I shoulda cut his dick off and shoved it down his throat. Let him see what it tastes like! The thoughts ran round and round in her head, the pounding hooves the perfect counterpoint.

After a while she let finally let the horse slow to a walk, listening to its ragged breathing and feeling guilty. She was lucky the animal hadn't stepped in a hole since it was so dark. Angela dismounted and began leading the horse back in the direction she'd come from. She decided to give Sam a taste of his own medicine.

The Lord Military heard a knock on his door. Carefully he walked over and opened it and saw his caste brother Angela. She was looking at him hungrily in a way he didn't understand. He didn't think she wanted to fight him but she did want something. He felt a reaction in this alien body he was inhabiting.

Angela smiled at the tall, exotically handsome warrior. She'd gotten back from her ride, taken a quick bath, and come straight to his quarters. She had fantasized about him more than once when she was making love with Sam. Well, she wasn't here to fantasize.

"Kush, mind if I come in?" she said seductively. He stepped back allowing her inside. She closed the door. Kush discovered he was breathing harder. Another part of this alien anatomy was getting harder too.

"I do not understand what is happening," he said simply, completely at a loss.

Angela put her hands on his broad shoulders. He was shy. She never would've expected that in a million years. Just goes to show people aren't always what you expect. "Well, Kush, lemme tell you what's happening." She leaned up and kissed his cheek, then his lips. "You're being seduced." He was excited, that was for sure, but he still wasn't doing anything. She reached inside his pants feeling his rigid johnson. "Ooooh, baby..." she murmured, kissing him again. She looked in his eyes and he looked terrified. Angela laughed and kissed him again. He finally got the idea.

Kush understood his caste brother wanted to breed with him. He hadn't even known Angela was a female. Slithlocs didn't breed individually that way. Females deposited eggs and males then fertilized them. For the last thousand years at least, both sexes simply delivered what was required to a reproductive center and technicians handled all of it. Kush had never felt anything like this overpowering urge. His head was pounding.

Aphrodite was practically rolling on the floor laughing. Good thing they couldn't see or hear her. She had wanted to punish Angela for a long time. The woman had taken three of HER temples and converted them to the worship of Ares. Well, it's payback time, bitch! The goddess had spread the rumors about an uprising herself so she could arrange for Angela to catch Sam when she returned. Aphrodite had put the idea of teaching him a lesson by screwing Kush into Angela's mind.

She'd cleared this with her brother. He disapproved but as long as there wasn't going to be any danger, it wasn't worth a confrontation with his sister. He had just said "Childish, so childish, Aphrodite."

"Yeah, well, I don't care, Ar. Hey, that rhymes! You shouldn't have let her mess with my temples."

"Oh, and if somebody changed one of my temples over to you, you'd tell them not to, I suppose."

"I don't want to discuss it," she said imperiously. "It's not the same at all."

"Uh huh. Just don't let either of them be hurt."

"Ares, I never hurt anybody. Remember, love goddess...DUH! I checked the specs and nothing will be ripped open or anything." Ares winced, then disappeared.

Now she was watching Angela and Kush get it on. She was enjoying the show, but she had to remember why she was here. To punish THAT WOMAN. Angela was a real little dynamo there. Being pissed off really energized her, it looked like. Ares' loaner, Kush, was pretty good too for his first time. Her brother had given him a top notch studly human body. She guessed that's what Kush was in Slithloc terms too. The goddess grinned, getting in close for a good view. She wanted the exact right moment.

Angela had already come twice. She'd been afraid he'd come right away when she was sucking him, but that didn't seem to be a problem for him. Now she was on top, just riding him. They were both covered with sweat. She was looking down at his handsome face and broad hairy chest, smiling. He was smiling up at her. It had taken him a while to loosen up, but once he did, WOW! She could feel him start to build up and she knew that look he had. It would be any time now.

Aphrodite was standing right beside the bed. She was flushed herself. This was a real turn on. She'd have to go get her some when she finished here. She wished she had kept Joxer young, but he'd told her flat out he wasn't interested. Maybe his son, now that she thought of it. Kush was almost there she saw. She got ready.

Angela was coming again as he began to come. "Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah!" she said, her eyes closed. She felt something and opened her eyes. "HOLY SHIT!!!!!"

Kush was confused. His caste brother Angela had suddenly begun cursing and screaming. He saw his hands on her hips had changed back into his normal scaled claws. He pulled them away from her so Angela wouldn't be injured by them. He saw his tail weaving up behind her as she hysterically clambered off of him. She hadn't brought her own weapons but she tried to reach his sword on the wall. It disappeared just as she was about to grab it. She whirled back around. "HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! What are you?" She ran to the door but couldn't open it.

Kush got up and tried to speak. It was his own language and Angela screamed even louder. Then stopped as she suddenly could understand him. "This is my real form. Ares changed me."

"Ares? Ares did this to me?"

Aphrodite quickly appeared. "No, sweet cheeks. I did."

Angela, standing there naked and sweaty, looked in shock at a beautiful blonde in a diaphanous gown over a bikini who had materialized. "Who are you? What is that thing? Christ! Oh Christ!" she began shuddering.

Aphrodite smiled though was having second thoughts. Maybe this was a little extreme. Oh, well. Too late now. "Aphrodite's the name and love is the game. You screwed with three of my temples, honey."

"So you made me fuck a monster?! Jesus, oh Jesus!"

Aphrodite smiled. "Yep, that's about the size of it." She really was having second thoughts now. She didn't like how freaked this mortal was. She waved her hand and Angela was fresh and dressed again. She walked over to her. "When was the last time you came three times? You had a good time. Admit it." The redhead was staring at her in horror then back at the big crocodile man or whatever it was. It had pulled a sheet over himself, being too large for the clothes he'd been wearing previously.

"I'm not a monster," Kush said.

She stared at him, getting her wits. He wasn't behind this. Aphrodite was.

"You said Ares made you look human?"

The reptilian head, with yellow ridges over his black eyes nodded. Look at those teeth, she thought. Christ!

"We are both being used by these cruel foul beings."

Aphrodite said, "Hey buster, watch it! I'm the Goddess of Love. I aint cruel or foul." She looked at Angela for support, but the redhead was shuddering again and looked like she wanted to throw up. "Well, maybe sometimes. But you messed with my temples. Promise to switch 'em back?"

Angela nodded. Aphrodite smiled and disappeared. Angela looked at Kush and he had returned to his human form.

He said, "If I had known how you would feel, I would not have let you breed with me."

She thought he sounded really upset. Well sure. It was pretty traumatic all around. Angela forced herself to walk over to him and touch his arm. "It's not your fault. Like you said, it's these rotten gods. And I was the one who jumped on you. I'm sorry I called you a monster."

She kissed his cheek and walked over to the door again. This time it would open. Angela slowly made her way back to her apartments with Sam. The same guard was there with a fat lip. She patted his shoulder and stepped inside.

"Angela!" The bacchae disappeared out the window again.

Part III

Where were his caste brothers? Kush was standing in his quarters listening to yells and running feet. He knew what danger sounded like. He took down the primitive weapons for the first time since his brother Jilly had returned them to him and put them on as he saw others wore them. He wasn't trained in their use but he would do what he could. He left his room and looked around. Just as he would expect, the lower castes were running about like headless scallans. Where were his caste brothers? He saw a low ranking military and grabbed him.

"Where are Jilly and Angela?"

The young military looked at him and instinctively answered. "The queen and Captain Angela left to fight invaders. But now we are under attack!"

"Who leads the defence then?" Kush asked.

"I don't know...maybe Sergeant Franco," the boy said in an unsteady voice.

Kush looked closely at him. The young caste brother was frightened and Kush knew he'd never been in battle. He grabbed his shoulders and looked in his eyes and said, "You will do your duty. Go join our brothers and I will be with you soon."

The young military said as clearly as he could, "Yes sir." The soldier ran to his position. Kush looked after him. His caste brothers had fallen for a trap. If they ever met again he would chide them for it but for now he saw his duty. With Jilly and Angela gone there was no other Lord Military here.


The attackers had finally breached the walls. Defending their prince the defenders would continue fighting until practically hacked to pieces. They were outnumbered though. Bancher was on a wall with the common soldiers. He wasn't a great fighter but he could hold his own. Bancher didn't assume command even though he was Jilly's consort, knowing he wasn't qualified. He thought he was going to die. Suddenly an invader was right beside him and stabbing at him. Bancher managed to block the blow but fell back tripping over a body. Instead of the sword through his heart he expected he was sprayed with blood and Kush was standing where the soldier had been. Bancher was yanked to his feet by the big foreign looking warrior.

"Not bad for only half a military," Kush said to him, then was suddenly gone, aiding someone else. Bancher stared after him in confusion, then spotted another soldier coming over the wall and landed a heavy blow on his helmet, sending him falling down the siege ladder.

The Lord Military had been running from site to site, aiding the defence and encouraging the militaries. He'd found Sergeant Franco dead from an arrow, so Kush assumed command and no one questioned him. The attackers had begun breaching the walls in several places but he had managed to drive them back and regroup the men. Kush was amazed at how bravely many fought who were obviously not true militaries. He tried to keep a special eye on Bancher since he was the companion of his caste brother, Jilly. He heard furious yells and saw that a group had breached the walls in a concerted attack at one point. They were all seasoned militaries and were on a special mission he could see, as they cut through the overmatched defenders on the wall. They knew exactly where they were going: the wing of the palace with Prince Samuel's apartments. Kush jumped down from the battlements and ran after them. The attackers had almost reached the stairs leading up to Sam's rooms.

Kush cut a man in half from behind. The others were confused for a moment which gave him his chance to clamber up the stairwell. A door opened behind him and Sam stepped out with a sword held awkwardly.

"I'm going to fight! What do you think I am?"

The Lord Military turned, outraged. "Be your caste!" he shouted then shoved him back into the room and slammed the door. No Slithloc had seen a living member of the Lord Caste for thousands of years. He would prefer not to die again but if he had to there was no better way. Kush found the simple weapon easy to use--crude but effective--and bodies were piling up around him.

The unfamiliar weapon had finally been torn from his hands when it lodged in the armor of a falling man the same moment a military struck down on his arm with the shaft of a spear. Kush was covered with the blood of his enemies and had received many wounds which weakened him. He kicked the spear wielder down the stairs and had a moment of respite. He was ready to die but instead he heard a voice in his ear he recognized as Ares. "Let 'em have it!" He hissed and heard the familiar sound and saw the end of his tail out of the corner of his eye. Kush flicked a claw out in a quick blow and saw an attacker disappear in a shower of blood. The Lord Military lashed out with his tail and impaled a soldier charging him. Kush growled as he kicked the squirming man off of his tail.

They were falling back weeping in fear. The Lord Military now in his real form jumped over the nearest men to land amid several alien militaries. Their screams were short lived as Kush ripped off the head or disemboweled one after another. He was alone suddenly. He flicked his tongue contemptuously at the fleeing cowards. At a sound he turned and saw Sam calmly looking down at him. Kush felt suddenly weaker and knew he had been transformed back into his alien body.

"Stay in your quarters," he commanded loudly and waited until Sam obeyed. Then he found his sword and left to continue leading the defence. As he came out into the courtyard he could see the walls were still holding despite a few breaches and some fighting inside the courtyard. Something caught his eye and he threw his sword to impale a man. Kush ran up, pulling his blade from the soldier's back. He looked down at who he had saved. It was the young caste brother.

"You did your duty, just as I said."

The boy blinded with blood from a head wound looked in the direction of the voice, but when he had wiped his eyes no one was there.


They both were covered with blood from head to toe. Angela had begun cleaning her face and then saw the look Jilly was giving her and stopped. Now hours later Angela finally said, "It didn't feel right, Jilly."

"Tell me about it," Jilly said coldly.

They were keeping their voices down so the men following couldn't hear. Angela glanced at Jilly then rode down the column a bit to encourage the men. She joked with some and glared at others: whatever she thought the troops needed to keep them on their toes. They were traveling as fast as they could with their wagons of wounded and dead, worried about what they might find when they returned. Their horses were too tired for either Jilly or Angela to just ride ahead, much as they wanted to.

Jilly saw a figure in the distance riding hard in their direction. When the messenger reached her he said, "Queen, your palace has been attacked!"

"FUCK! I knew it," Jilly cursed, just as Angela came riding up. "The castle's been hit," she said to her lieutenant.

Angela was staring at Jilly. She had told her it could be a trap; that one of them should remain with Sam. But Jilly had overruled her. She was the queen and she thought this invasion was bad enough it required them both. It had been bad, but if Sam was dead Angela would kill Jilly for this.

"But Queen," the messenger continued in a rush, "do not fear. Your fortress stands, defended by noble Kush."

"What?" Angela and Jilly said simultaneously.

"Majesty...Captain...Shining Kush drove the dogs back when the walls were ready to fall. He led the defence until reinforcements arrived from the garrisons of surrounding towns. Great Kush protected the prince with his own body, slaying many of the swine. The cowards claimed he turned into a horrid beast!"

Jilly thought again of her old dream. Angela blushed. Jilly looked at her. There was something she didn't get.

"What about Bancher?" Jilly asked.

"Lord Bancher fought on the walls. I do not know news of him, queen"

Angela looked at Jilly to see how she would react. But the queen's face betrayed no emotion at all. "Well," she said, "let's see what's up." Jilly started her exhausted horse forward again.

Bodies were everywhere. Jilly and Angela thought nothing of it. They had some younger soldiers who a day before would've been puking. After the battle they'd just fought though, they were veterans. As they approached the castle several figures stepped out from the gate to await them. Sam had blood on him but didn't look like he'd been fighting. He was probably just going around hugging people and patting them on the back, telling everyone how proud he was of them--giving them something to cherish their entire lives, Jilly knew. Bancher was there with his arm in a sling. Kush looked exactly like Jilly and Angela--covered in blood and his leathers slashed in 20 places. He had a bloody dressing on his left leg and was leaning on a young soldier with a bandaged head.

Angela leapt off her horse and ran to embrace Sam. Jilly reached a decision, dismounted and waited. After a moment, her brother approached and kneeled to her, followed by Angela and Bancher. She stared at him and Kush after a long moment followed suit helped by the young soldier who also knelt.

"Yeah, okay," Jilly said after a few minutes. She wanted everyone watching to soak it in. She especially wanted Angela and Kush to soak it in. Sam and Bancher would understand. This was HER kingdom. She built it with her sword and blood and nobody ever better forget that. Everybody wanted Sam. Too bad. She was Queen Jilly. Jilly the Butcher. Nobody better ever forget that.

Jilly spoke quietly with Bancher a moment, then she walked up and looked Kush in the eyes. "Thank you." She looked at the wounded boy, too scared of her to look her in the face. Her mother Kimberly would probably take him off for a talk; ask him if he had a girlfriend, who his parents were. Jilly didn't care. He was just sword fodder.

Kush looked down at her and merely nodded. He didn't have words for how badly he felt for his caste brother. She looked at their young brother as if he belonged to a lower caste. But far beyond that, Jilly had used her prowess as a Lord Military to usurp the place of the Lord Caste. It should not be but there it was. It was the greatest tragedy in Slithloc history. A kind of madness had seized many Lord Militaries long ago and they had slain the Lord Caste to the last egg. The killers were slain themselves by their caste brothers but it was too late. Was Kush witnessing the same horror here before his eyes? Couldn't Jilly see how everyone looked at the prince? It saddened Kush to see his caste brother so misguided. Perhaps it was this confusing world. Without clear castes it was difficult for many to know their true place in it.

Jilly was uncomfortable with how Kush was looking at her. Even he preferred Sam! Abruptly she just proceeded into the palace to assess the damage. She wasn't sure who was behind this, but she was gonna find out and when she did... Angela and Sam thought she was soft now. Well, she was gonna let 'em see what somebody trained by Callisto could do. They didn't know what pain was.

Angela and Sam had been holding each other tightly. She now let go of him and walked over to the foreign warrior; more foreign than anyone else knew. Ares had forbidden her to tell anyone. "Kush," she said and squeezed his hand. She had been avoiding him ever since what had happened between them weeks before.

"Our young brother served well," the Lord Military said, indicating the boy.

Angela looked at the young soldier. "What's your name?"

"Laconius, Captain Angela," he said nervously.

Angela understood at a glance the boy had attached himself to Kush in a hero worshipping way. Fine with her if it was okay with Kush. "Good work, Laconius. Tell your sergeant you will be assisting Kush until his leg is healed. Leave us alone for a moment now."

The young man looked stunned at his good fortune. He walked away excitedly. Angela and Kush caught each other's eyes, smiling wryly.

"He did serve well," Kush said.

Angela smiled and said, "I'm sure he did. He needs some guiding and you like to guide. Good deal all around."

Kush felt relief to be with Angela after his corrupted brother, Jilly. He squeezed her hand in return, having learned that was a gesture of respect. Angela knew her caste and relished it. Kush was envious of her. Protecting the prince was the purest experience Kush had ever had. Serving the Military Caste Council was a pale imitation to having an actual living representative of the Lord Caste to serve. He hoped to put the terrible incident when they bred behind them. This foul alien body wanted to repeat it.


A massacre was in progress. The tall woman observed for a moment before riding down onto the killing field. It wasn't fighting. These were soldiers who had stupidly surrendered. The warrior watched as a slender blonde figure leaped off of her mount and split a young soldier down the middle as he was held by two grinning warriors.

The horse rode up with the tall redhaired woman. Angela said with a laugh, "Jilly, what are you doing?" The two men with Jilly looked nervously at the ruler and at the guard captain.

Angela had been told the queen had ridden off with over a hundred men. She'd then received word the queen seemed to be heading into a neighboring kingdom. After asking Kush to stay near Sam, she'd ridden after Jilly to find out what was going on.

The smaller woman stared coldly up at her lieutenant as she extricated her sword from the body of the young soldier. With a toss of her chin she indicated for the men to leave them alone. "Don't call me Jilly in front of the men, Angela. And it's pretty obvious what I'm doing, isn't it? People have gotten the idea they can screw with me. You'd think they'd know better since I've killed something like five thousand people with my own hands."

She wiped the blade off on the young corpse and remounted her huge black stallion. "This kingdom was in on it with four others as far as men. At least that many more helped finance it. We'll get'em all eventually but I wanted to give them a taste of what's coming." Her face was expressionless as she watched 20 men forced into a large pit. Other prisoners began filling it in, burying the pleading men alive. Jilly glanced at the tall redhead and saw she was flushed and actually licking her lips and grinding herself on her saddle.

The queen said grimly, "Callisto and Ares were right. I hate to say it but you were right. This is what weakness leads to. That invasion we stopped was the greatest threat my kingdom has ever had." Her voice began getting louder, "and it was just a ploy to get to Sam. They think they can screw with me like that. ME!" There was a little spittle at the side of her mouth.

She stood up in her saddle and raised her sword so it caught the light. She called out loudly, "This province is ours for the taking! Villages surround us. Keep whatever and whoever you can find! Now kill'em all!"

The men began cheering as they descended on the remaining hundred or so prisoners. They were picked troops: she'd planned this. These were men from her early days carving the kingdom out with Langland; many from even before that: scarred veterans who remembered raiding for loot and killing for pleasure and missed the old days. They were loyal to her not her brother. Sam appealed to the best in people. Jilly appealed to the worst.

Angela looked at Jilly, stunned. "You're not a warlord, Jilly; you're a queen!" Killing enemies of the state was one thing but pillaging was another. Angela considered herself a public official, not some bandit. She wouldn't tolerate looting in her men.

The slender blonde warrior queen, sitting atop her horse with the jewels on her leathers catching the light, looked disdainfully at her. "Don't have the balls for it, Captain Angela?"

Angela looked expressionlessly at Jilly and spurred her horse forward into the slaughter. "Sammy" she began calling as a warcry. Suddenly Angela found herself face to face with Jilly, her sword blocked by the queen's blade, while the killing continued around them.

"This is MY army, Angela! Mine! And my kingdom we're defending!" Her eyes were wide in that famous insane way she had somehow inherited from Callisto, even though they weren't really related. "Use something else this time."

Angela bared her teeth and said, "All right, Jilly. You are Sam's sister." After an insulting pause, she added, "And you're the queen." She spotted an archer who had somehow escaped capture, aiming at Jilly. Angela's chakram flew cutting his throat. She caught it on its return just as Jilly saw the bowman, then looked back at her. "Be careful, Jilly. After all, what would the kingdom do without you?" Jilly stared at her as the redhead galloped away to help in the massacre.

Jilly fingered her sword. "Nuh uh uh," she heard in a deep voice. On a horse with glowing red eyes beside her she saw Ares. She knew no one else could see him. "Don't even think it, Jilly. She's my favorite."

"What am I?"

Ares smiled at her. "You're my Jilly. In your own special category. I want to make you my immortal helper; you know that. But as long as you're mortal, you leave Angela alone." He paused and added lightly, "Besides, Jilly, you can't be certain to take her anymore. If she killed you I'd have to punish her since my family knows how I feel about you...and I don't want to do that. So keep your nose clean. Understand?" He waited for a response and repeated. "Understand?"

"Yeah," she said in a low voice.

"Great. She's your brother's girlfriend anyway, Jilly. You'd feel terrible later if you killed her."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she said tiredly.

Ares grinned. "That's my girl. You wanna give up this mortal stuff, just give a call." He and his horse disappeared in a blaze.

Later that evening Jilly was contemplating what she had done. As she'd told her men, this province was helpless. She'd forbidden unnecessary killing but nothing else and the men were having fun. She knew there was killing going on. If she tried too hard to control it she wouldn't have the effect she wanted on this land. Anybody disobeying her in front of her face, she'd kill naturally for discipline, though.

Jilly looked at the burning village in the night, just one of several as her men had fanned out. She glanced up at the smoky sky. Her mom wouldn't have approved of this but would understand it. Bancher might leave her. Jilly loved him but acting the way he wanted had led to this--to enemies thinking they could strike at her kingdom with impunity. They never would have dared when she ruled with Langland. Jilly wasn't even the target. They were after Sam. Jilly was just a ruler like the rest of them; a better fighter but not fundamentally different. Her brother WAS different and threatened the established order as land after land overthrew their kings and tyrants and invited Sam in.

She listened to the screams, thinking about Bancher and Kimberly, Angela and Sam...and Kush. The messenger had called him "shining Kush." She'd gone out in disguise to a tavern and a bard was already telling the story of how shining Kush saved Good Prince Samuel. No matter what she'd done no one had ever called her great or shining. They called her a butcher behind her back. A total stranger had to step in and save HER little brother. Just the idea made her so furious she was ready to literally mince anyone with the barest connection to the attack on her castle. She wanted to get her hands on the rulers who had ordered this. They weren't going to get off as easy as these soldiers and villagers had. She and Angela agreed on that anyway.

The guard captain had left after the massacre of the prisoners, saying she wanted to get back to Sam. With a smile she'd said, "It's good to see you being a realist, Jilly. Sorry about before. It's your kingdom." Then she'd ridden off, her red hair visible for quite a while.

Jilly knew she was feeling and acting more the way Ares wanted. She didn't think Ares was doing anything to her mind. He might be creating situations though. The other rulers wanted to kill Sam, of course. However, the god might've encouraged them to think now was the time to strike. She couldn't really be angry if he had. He'd brought Kush so had taken care of Sam for her. If he was behind this it was to make her realize how weak she'd become. Jilly closed her eyes for a moment as smoke blew in her face. She felt bad about this but would do it again. She had to make an example of what happened when you crossed Jilly the Butcher. Maybe she should send for Callisto.


"Hello," the voice said to her as she entered her darkened apartments. Jilly lit a lamp and saw Bancher sitting in a chair with Garen asleep in his arms. The blonde smiled and walked over caressing the child's hair a moment. Bancher knew. It had been two days and she had half hoped she would be able to avoid this conversation. He'd finally heard somehow.

"We have to talk, Jilly," he said calmly. She'd been changing since they had been together but now it seemed none of that had happened. He could only think of how she had helped Callisto massacre his village when she was a child.

"I just did what I had to do, Bancher. That's all. I had to respond to that attack." Jilly was stripping her leathers off as she spoke. She put a rich brocaded robe on.

Bancher stood up. "You slaughtered over two hundred prisoners, Jilly. Let your soldiers loot, rape, and carry off slaves. That was how you had to respond?"

Jilly said strongly, "YES! It was." Garen opened his eyes sleepily at the sound of Jilly's voice. She said softly, "Go back to sleep, Garen," and the child closed his eyes again.

"Angela could've done it, Jilly. Even if it had to be that way, which I don't believe, why did you have to do it?"

Jilly's eyes had gotten wide and she struggled to control herself since Garen was there. Otherwise she'd have just reflexively knocked out Bancher's teeth or worse like she did so many times with Langland. Bancher helped her control that side of herself; he'd never triggered it before.

Bancher had stepped away from her quickly sensing her losing control. He never should've said something like that while he was holding Garen. Bancher left the room with the boy and returned a moment later. She had opened a cabinet and was staring at something inside. She said to him without turning around. "I had to do it because this is my kingdom, not Angela's."

Bancher watched her back and could see her struggling. She reached inside and brought out a finely crafted bottle which she opened. She poured herself a drink in a fine cup and sat down. Bancher picked the bottle up, sniffing. He'd never smelled anything like it.

"What's that?"

Jilly had closed her eyes and was sipping the beverage. "Wild Turkey."

In the Great Hall of the Military Caste Council the hissing and growling was deafening. Servers scurried about cringing from the curses and blows of the militaries. A high priority message had been received that an important personage would be arriving and summoned all available caste lords to meet him. The Military Council had looked at the message in disbelief. What need could there possibly be for the caste lords of the technicals, clericals and servers to be present. They were cowardly scum which existed to serve the Military Caste. The message had been explicit in its instructions however and had arrived in the highest possible encryption according to the Security Lord Technical. He couldn't explain it. There was no way for it to be inauthentic that anyone could understand. A vessel had indeed been spotted and was in orbit now. It was unarmed so they waited. The great dome opened silently and they witnessed a small Slithloc surface-to-orbit shuttle begin a smooth descent onto the landing pad beneath the dome. The militaries were ready to tear its occupants to pieces at the slightest provocation.

The technical and clerical lords were looking at each other, feeling their usual disgust with the militaries and their arrogant stupidity. Even they had to be careful. Plenty of them had been impetuously killed by militaries over the years. Killing a Lord Technical or Lord Clerical would get an ordinary military executed though not a Lord Military naturally. It still happened though. Militaries weren't known for their impulse control. They hoped the militaries wouldn't just stupidly kill whoever it was before they could learn anything.

The highest ranking Lord Server whispered to his assistant to watch the servers in the hall, making sure they didn't embarrass their caste. The clericals and technicals despised the servers worse than the militaries did. Where would they all be without us, he'd like to know. Eating insects and raw fish naked by a river, that's where. The servers thought the technicals and clericals were just jealous because they got along better with the militaries. Militaries and servers had a smooth relationship, on the surface anyway. Servers knew how to placate and flatter the military caste no matter how they might feel. It was the technicals and clericals who had problems. Servers were almost never killed by militaries; clericals and technicals were all the time.

The door to the vessel opened and the ramp smoothly came into place. A tall military stepped out and looked carefully around. Every military in the hall tensed seeing his manner. He appeared to say something and another, smaller military stepped out followed by a third figure. A shocked hiss went around the hall as they all saw the purple ridges over the black eyes. The room was silent. The figure stumbled slightly.

A young clerical nervously hissed and a military by him growled and pulled a hand back to strike him. The visitor pointed and said "Stop that!" The military froze, his insides turning to jelly. It was a living member of the Lord Caste. The Lord looked around and spoke clearly, "The Military Caste has failed the Slithloc miserably. Instead of protecting the other castes they have enslaved them and dishonored themselves. I have come to remedy that situation. No military may harm any other caste without the same penalties as if he harmed a caste brother."

"That is ridiculous!" an old Lord Military said with a hiss and a contemptuous flick of his tongue. He looked around him. "This is some fraud pretending to be a member of the Lord Caste; a clerical or technical. We all know there are no Lords left."

A Lord Clerical spoke with contempt, "There are no Lords left because they were killed by traitorous militaries. Just like you!"

The old Lord Military hissed in outrage and prepared to launch himself at the Lord Clerical when the Lord spoke. "Stop him." Militaries on either side of their old caste brother instantly grabbed him. He looked at them in disbelief and fear--fear of change. The Lord approached them. Every Slithloc there felt like he was looking into their souls with his glittering black eyes.

"Am I a fraud?" the Lord said to the old military. "Release him." The old military found himself freed.

"You must be!" he said, almost hysterical with hatred. The Lord gazed sadly at him, then looked at the Lord Militaries on either side of him and nodded. Their claws flashed and the technicals, clericals and servers all cringed while all the militaries felt a fulfillment. The two Lord Militaries who had killed the old caste brother looked at the Lord. He had honored them beyond words by allowing them to be his first protectors. They picked up the bloody body of the foul old traitor and tossed it at the Lord's feet. He began walking around the open area allowing them to see him and feel his concern for all of the castes. Finally he stopped and spoke again as his tail wound around him.

"Prepare a residence for me. And begin selecting females whose eggs I shall fertilize; an equal number from every caste. I shall not be with you long so we must begin this important work."

A satisfied sigh went up in the hall. He continued. "You Lord is up to you to set an example. Remember, the days of abusing the other castes are over. If any cannot accept that they must die. The castes lived in peace before the militaries destroyed the harmony by destroying the Lord Caste. The Military Caste must atone for its failure." Every word he said was burned into the minds of all present. The militaries felt shame from their snouts to their tails, at the same time they felt fulfilled at having a Lord to follow.

"Kush," the Lord said in a low voice.

"Stay alert, Laconius," Kush said to his young caste brother. Then he came next to the Lord. All of the other militaries looked enviously at their honored brothers.

"How'd I do?" the Lord asked.

"Great Sam," the Lord Military said, trying not to be overwhelmed with emotion.


Ares glanced over at Bacchus and the Slithloc dieties. He supposed this was working out all right although the war god didn't especially care for it. Ares thought the Slithloc military caste was fine the way they were. Now with Sam they would be working for the greater good. He made a sour face in distaste. It wasn't up to him though. The Slithloc gods wanted Sam to breed a new Lord Caste for them. Bacchus was just too foreign for them to deal with so they came to Ares to be an intermediary. He and the Slithloc military god got along great. The two of them had been disguising themselves and joining battles on each others' worlds. His counterpart wasn't too thrilled with this either since he had been behind annihilating the Lord Caste in the first place. He had been seriously reamed out for that and ever since had been trying to recreate the Lord Caste. The Slithloc war god spotted Sam after Jilly fought with Kush.

The Lord Military was what Ares got out of the deal. As a loaner favorite he had lit a fire under Jilly. And Angela didn't know it yet but she was pregnant--that was a totally unexpected bonus, thanks to Aphrodite. If he was lucky he'd get a new favorite out of it. She could have the baby while Sam was with the Slithlocs. Ares would get his sister to square it with Sam when he found out about it.

Bacchus was getting the Slithloc dieties high Ares noted with amusement. They just weren't used to a party animal like that. His brother had driven a hard bargain with them for Sam. He was joining their pantheon since they didn't have anybody even close. Ares saw the dopey smile the Slithloc war god was getting. This place was going to get a lot less stuffy. Wait till it turned dark and they got a load of Sam's bacchae.

The End