by Joseph Anderson

Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story iteslf are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

This story contains extreme violence, cruelty, and language some might consider objectionable.


Cortese was seething with hatred. Letting him live was the biggest mistake that bitch Xena ever made. Stupid. Turning him over to be tried. Tried by whom? Peasant fools. Since he was an aristocrat, a king, the other kings who sat in judgment on him merely forced him into exile at one of his former estates. No longer a king, no longer the warlord Cortese. For daring to punish him at all he would have their families skinned alive in front of them before killing them himself. It was only a matter of time. He simply had to secretly raise some men and then begin raiding and reestablish himself.

But most of all he wanted to kill that warrior bitch, Xena. Cortese knew what he needed; someone who hated Xena as much as he did for his lieutenant. So he had sent out word for Callisto. Killing Xena was supposedly an obsession with her, so she should be an easy tool. When she had served her purpose he would see if he could still use her--probably he'd kill her though. He hated strong women. Now he was waiting. He wanted her to see him for the first time like a king on his throne, someone superior for her to serve. From what he had heard Callisto was beautiful. Of course, he would seduce her.

"You're Cortese," a friendly sounding voice said from behind him. He leaped out of his huge chair and spun around, a sword instantly in his hand.

He saw a slim, striking blonde woman in lightweight armor and black leather. She didn't look strong enough to lift a sword. She wore a chakram on her belt, like Xena.

"I'm impressed," Cortese said, setting the sword down. Actually he was furious she had surprised him--he would definitely kill her eventually. She gave him a winning smile. He would have to punish his inept guards; he wondered where they were and how she had gotten past them.

"I'm Callisto," she said. She began walking leisurely around his hall, looking at the furnishings, the ornate inlaid wooden floor, and the tapestries on the walls.

His natural arrogance came back to him and Cortese said, "I'm forming a new army and I want you in it. You've had some success but nothing like I used to have. With a new army we'll show this world what blood means!"

Callisto was looking at Cortese with glittering eyes. "I don't take orders. Why would I want to do that with you?"

"Because you will be able to get Xena with me." At the mention of the warrior princess's name Callisto froze and then giggled. Cortese thought, "She sounds like an idiot. How can she have the reputation she does?"

"Xena never beat my army, Callisto, even at her peak. She drove me back but never defeated me. I'm a better general. Now I'm raising a new army and I want you as my lieutenant."

Callisto's eyes had taken on a faraway expression. She said "You and Xena go way back don't you? Tell me exactly why you hate her."

Cortese felt confident that this little cunt was ripe for the taking. He could talk her into anything. He had doubts about her ability, though. Oh well, he could always kill her or find some more enjoyable position for her.

Cortese bragged, smiling coldly, "I created Xena. Without me she would never have existed. It was defending Amphipolis that gave her her start. Her brother was killed and she turned into the Xena you've heard of. Only now she's a weak fool. When she finally had me she let me live. Just like with you, Callisto. A pathetic fool."

In her mind, Callisto was back in her childhood, playing with her sister, cooking next to her mother. Then that was all taken away from her by Xena, her mother and sister burned alive by Xena's army. She was letting what Cortese said slither around in her mind, mingling with her memories.

"You created Xena did you? By attacking her village," Callisto said thoughtfully. "You never lived in a place like that."

Cortese impatiently answered, "Of course not, I'm a hereditary king."

Callisto had made up her mind what she was going to do but she wanted more information. She giggled and said "You love torture, don't you? I know I do."

Cortese smiled and said "Ah, now we're getting somewhere. Yes, I do. You'll have plenty of opportunity with me."

"That's just what I was thinking!" Callisto said with a dazzling smile. "Tell me exactly what you would do to Xena, or say a man that you hated as much as Xena. After all, unless you fight Amazons there aren't really any other warrior women. Besides me, of course."

Cortese was bored with this. This woman was his; he wanted to discuss raising an army now. However, he answered her. "Oh, I would probably either slowly roast somebody or else boil them in oil. But I'd pay special attention to the fingers and toes, the face and genitals. Draw it out for hours. Days if I had the time."

Callisto was back inside her mind again, though listening to Cortese at the same time. She was seeing in her mind the people she had killed and the battles she fought, with images of Xena and her mother and sister, too. And Cortese's voice was there; she could imagine him torturing her mother and sister. They wouldn't have been burned if not for Cortese. She imagined a snake with Cortese's face and it was laughing as her sister screamed.

"Well?" Cortese asked. He was tired of this fool. He wanted to settle this, fuck her, and then get on with other business.

Her body turned into coiled spring and Callisto said, "You are right about Xena. She is a pathetic fool for letting us go. For not taking her own vengeance. But you know what," On the last word she propelled herself at Cortese, who purely on reflex had grabbed his sword and jumped back. He was too late though. Callisto's hand was already chopping down with the chakram, and Cortese's sword clattered to the floor with his right hand still grasping it. With a cry he fell, trying to scramble away. "I'm not as nice as Xena," Callisto finished.

Callisto leaped over him and kicked him in the face, careful not to kill him. Cortese screamed, "Guards! Guards!"

"Your guards aren't coming, Cortese. Unlike Xena these days, I don't just chase them away, either. But don't worry. They died a lot braver than you are." Cortese tried getting to his feet but slipped on his own blood. With his left hand he reached for his fallen sword. Callisto leapt again. She brought a boot crashing down on his forearm and drove straight down with her own sword, pinning both the left hand and beneath it the severed right hand to the beautiful wooden floor.

Cortese was crying in pain and fear, pulling vainly at his hand. Callisto stepped back and watched him, his blood spattered all over her. Her eyes were dancing and a mad smile was on her face.

"That was too easy!" she said laughingly. "You've never had to really fight before have you? It was always just a game with your army to protect you."

Cortese was breathing raggedly, lying in his own blood, urine and excrement. Callisto took a dagger from her boot. He cried out as she bent down over him but she cut his rich silk shirt away, then quickly cut it into strips. She brought a boot down hard twice, breaking both his knees and he screamed again. She tied his feet together, then stood up, placed a foot on his forearm, and pulled her sword out from the floor and his flesh with a CHUNK sound. She tied his wrists together in such a way that it functioned as a tourniquet. "We can't have you bleeding to death," Callisto said and giggled.

Cortese was now moaning in fear, "Please...mercy...Gods...mercy ...please!"

Callisto knit her brows, saying, "Now, let's see. Where would the kitchen be around here? I'll bet you've got a big fireplace with a spit and lots of utensils." Cortese began thrashing like a fish and Callisto laughed.


Xena and Gabrielle had made camp. The warrior seemed pensive but Gabrielle had not been able to get her to say why. Finally she said, "Gabrielle, this is Cortese's old territory. I have a lot of memories here, a lot of bad memories. I want to check up on him too. See if he's in prison, or whatever." She sounded cynical as she said "or whatever."

Gabrielle was brushing Argo when they heard it, a far off scream. "Gods, Xena! That was a man wasn't it?!" Gabrielle exclaimed, turning pale. "We have to save him." Xena, however, hadn't moved. Listening intently, Gabrielle almost thought she saw the beginnings of a smile on her friend's face. That couldn't be though.

Xena said, "Don't worry, Gabrielle. It might sound like a man but it's not. We should move camp, though. It's probably going to keep on all night."

"Oh, that's a relief, Xena. You mean it's just nature, the law of the jungle, all that?" Gabrielle said emotionally. "But if it's in pain can't we help it?"

"No, Gabrielle. Let nature take its course."

A little later Gabrielle walking next to Xena said, "Aren't we going the wrong direction?"

Xena answered, "No."

Gabrielle waited vainly for Xena to elaborate.

The End