by Joseph Anderson

Xena, Gabrielle and all characters from the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All other characters belong to the author. No copyright infringement is intended with this fan fiction which may not be sold, may be copied for personal use only, and must contain all notices of copyright.

These vignettes take place during the time period covered in my story History Lesson.


Kimberly was excited. Callisto had just told her she was taking her with her today, and when she walked out of the tent the mounted warlord had pointed to a large dappled mare.

"What's her name?" Kimberly said smiling as she approached the animal and patted its nose.

Callisto shrugged. "Whatever you want. Just don't get too attached to it. A horse is a tool just like a knife or a soldier. Giving it a name makes it harder to sacrifice if you need to." With that the blonde warrior rode off and Kimberly mounted and followed.

After a day of riding they approached a military encampment. Callisto reined her huge black stallion in. "Put this over your head. You can just tie it around your forehead with this." She handed Kimberly a fine white cloth and a strip of leather. "You look like Xena," she explained. " A lot of these men saw their families burned, crucified, or worse by her. They won't trust you if they think you're related to her."

Kimberly did as she was told and found she could see through the veil. The warlord studied her and seeming satisfied resumed approaching the camp.

"Who is that?" a heavyset warrior demanded as they dismounted. Callisto looked at him, not liking his tone.

"A friend also fighting Xena. She is riding with me now. Her name is Kimberly," she answered. Kimberly hadn't said anything.

"Why is she masked?" he said suspiciously.

"She was badly wounded in the face."

"I want to see her face," he said shortly. There were two other warriors with him, one very tall and the other medium height.

"Callisto's word is fine with me," the shorter of them said. "Welcome, friend," he said to Kimberly.

"Thank you..." she started to answer when the first man stepped forward and reached for her veil. Suddenly he was on the ground, doubled over.

Callisto lightly said, "Apparently my word isn't good enough for you, Marcus. She's sensitive. You wouldn't want to embarrass her now, would you?"

The man slowly got up, looking angry. "What are you hiding?"

"Draw your sword, Marcus," Callisto now said coldly.

Kimberly spoke up, "Stop it! What are you doing? Here, I'll take it off!"

"DON'T MOVE!" Callisto ordered, and she froze. "All of us fighting Xena together isn't enough for you. Why is that, Marcus? You wouldn't have another motive would you? Like being able to identify anyone fighting against Xena, for instance."

The other men with Marcus were looking at him strangely now and backing away from him, their hands on their swords.

He was trying to continue appearing angry but there was fear in his eyes. "What's the matter with you? You all know me."

"Now that you mention it, Marcus, we don't know you that well. And come to think of it, we've seen you kill common soldiers but never any of the Bitch's officers even when you had the chance." The speaker was the tall man, who had a long scar running down his face. "Callisto here: we all know her. Xena wants her head for her wall and has for years. Everybody knows that. So why would she bring in anyone we couldn't trust, Marcus?" He drew his sword as did the other man.

"I just want to know who I'm fighting with. She could be a spy!" There was no response from any of them. "Fine. You're right. I don't know what came over me. Welcome, friend!" Again no one responded.

"We'll discuss this matter in council," Callisto said. "We need to look into your not killing officers."

"The Bitch has my family!" Marcus suddenly said emotionally. "I had to spy for her. You'd do the same!"

"I don't have a family anymore, Marcus," the tall man said. "Me neither," the other said. While the tall one held his sword to Marcus's throat, drawing blood, the shorter took his sword.

Callisto hadn't said anything, just watching. Now she spoke. "Xena doesn't play games like that for spies. She'd rather kill anyone she can get her hands on. But she does pay spies. Pays very well, in fact."

"No! No! She's got my family. Really!" Marcus said, sweat running off of him.

The tall man spoke. "Let Kimberly decide what to do with this scum."

Callisto was going to object. She didn't think Kimberly understood war yet, but the veiled figure touched her arm and Callisto stopped. Kimberly looked at the men with their frigid rage and the traitor shaking with fear. And she thought of the refugees from the Bitch she had seen, and the remains that didn't even look human.

"Let him die as your family died," she said to the shorter man.

"You're a hard one, Kimberly. Welcome to the fight. But I wouldn't wish that on a dog." With that he ran the man through.


The towering, olive-skinned warrior in rich armor and with a meticulously curled black beard, stepped into the tavern and let his eyes adjust to the dim light. It was strangely empty for this time of day but he saw why. Eating at a table in the back were two figures: a beautiful blonde who had to be Callisto and a bigger woman whose face was covered by a white veil. Nervously an old woman asked him what he wanted.

"Bring me a meal and give me wine now," he said in a heavily accented, deep voice. He took the cup she handed him and walked over to the seated women. "The Bitch has doubled the bounty for your head again. Xena wants yours, too," he said nodding to the veiled woman who shivered. Callisto just giggled.

"Are you here to collect them?" the blonde warrior asked with a smile.

"Yes, after I eat. She can leave. I just want you." He sat down.

Callisto lightly said, "Take a walk, Kimberly. If I'm killed tell Joxer to take you to Meleager."

The tall bounty killer was amused at how the veiled warrior was shaking in fear. He doubted the bounty on her would ever be worth his time. She stood up as instructed.

It took a lot to surprise Callisto but Kimberly was doing it. She thought she could defeat this dog but she had told Kimberly that just in case. The point was moot, though, because as Kimberly began walking past the man her hand shot out with a long thin dagger, driving it in his ear. She pulled his chair away from the table quickly, then with effort extracted her knife. Kimberly sat back down and the body was still twitching.

"Why did you do that?" Callisto asked, laughing.

"I don't want my food to get cold," the veiled woman answered as she resumed eating, "and I probably couldn't have beaten him, right?"

"Right," Callisto said, smiling widely, then added, "You have a great future."

Kimberly felt sick. She'd done that to protect Callisto but what she had said just seemed to pop out of her mouth. A frog she'd dissected in Biology was the biggest thing she'd ever killed before--and that had freaked her out. She forced herself to keep eating as Callisto grinned at her and the blood pooled under the dead man's chair.

Callisto stood up and searched the body. "Here." She set a purse heavy with coins in front of Kimberly, followed by a small curved knife with a jeweled grip and rich sheath. "I'd have killed him just for that. It's Persian. Fine weapons."

"You can have it," Kimberly said, trying to keep her voice steady.

Callisto looked curiously at her when she heard the quaver in her voice, but just said, "Thanks" as she attached it to her belt.

Something caught Kimberly's eye and she forced herself to get up and approach the body again. Callisto chuckled as Kimberly helped herself to a heavy ring. She felt like she had to show Callisto what she was made of. And she did like the ring.


"Joxer," Kimberly said from her horse.

"Yeah," he replied.

"I don't want you going out on patrol anymore."

The man with the lined face and tragic eyes looked up at the woman, her face hidden by the white veil. "Why not?"

"You're too valuable to risk...I need your advice."

Joxer almost smiled. "You need my advice? You're a terrible liar, Kimberly. It's even worse than your cooking, which is really saying something."

The warrior dismounted. Since Callisto's death a month before, Kimberly had been more and more afraid of losing Joxer too. She'd assumed command of Callisto's men in their fight against the Bitch of Tartarus. All she had left of Callisto was a bracelet of her hair.

"I know I'm not much of a fighter, Kimberly. But Xena's men have orders not to hurt me; you know that. I'm insurance for the other men," Joxer said reasonably.

"They can look out for themselves," she said brusquely, feeling guilty.

Joxer put his arm around her shoulder. The other men, out of earshot, tried not to stare. Their new commander wasn't as unpredictable as Callisto but Kimberly was scary in her own way. She had become short-tempered and even more ruthless than Callisto. Only Joxer understood it: Callisto kept herself on a short leash because of her past. Kimberly didn't have that restraint on her.

Joxer said, "I won't disobey you, Kimberly. I'll go to Meleager in the morning."

"No, don't do that, Joxer," she said angrily. "You win. Get yourself killed!" Kimberly remounted, looked around and rode off, all of her men pointedly not looking at her.


The caravan had been hit hard by Xena's men but then another force of horsemen led by a woman wearing a white veil had appeared and driven them off. They had been scared until they realized they really were being saved--it wasn't just two dogs fighting over a kill. Dagnan had his young wounded son in his arms. It wasn't bad though the boy would have a dramatic scar to show people. Dagnan watched the woman in the white veil as she gave orders and conferred with the caravan master, who kissed her feet to her obvious discomfort. When she finished speaking with him and began walking to her horse, Dagnan approached her, still holding his son.

"Mistress." The woman stopped. "You have saved my life, my son's life, and the lives of all of our future generations. May the gods praise you. I would do you a service."

"Thanks. Don't worry about it," the woman answered.

Dagnan persevered. "I wish to show my gratitude, mistress."

"Like I said, don't worry about it," the woman said shortly.

"My son's name is Dagnan, as my father's and grandfather's was, and mine is. I am an armorer and my master was godlike Euphemies." That stopped her. She slowly began to tell him again not to worry about it when he said, "I can fashion you a helmet with a veil of mail. No one in this land has such a helmet. An Eastern master, visiting my revered master Euphemies, taught me its craft."

Dagnan knew warriors and looking at her armor's spotless condition and rich saddle, knew where this one's vanity lay. She'd deny it, of course. He had to play her. "Oh, mistress. It would serve you well in battle and your men would be able to see you. Men have to be able to find their commander, as you well know. You owe it to your men to have a fine helmet like none in all Greece."

"Well..." the woman said.

"I know you do not seek mere fame and having a fearsome noble aspect. But, mistress, you must accept them. For your men you must make that sacrifice."

"The men do have to be able to find me in battle."

"Make that sacrifice. I shall craft you the finest helmet in Mycenae."

"All right. You can accompany us. You really understand, don't you Dagnan?"

"Yes, mistress."


"Lady Kimberly," Dagnan said outside her tent.

"Come in," a voice answered. The armorer entered her tent, carrying a covered object. Kimberly was at a table dressed in a rich brocaded robe and looking at maps, idly fingering the blonde bracelet of hair she wore. Joxer was also there, oiling her leathers.

"It's ready, mistress."

Kimberly smiled and quickly cleared the maps off the table. Joxer looked amused; he liked seeing Kimberly happy. Getting a new sword or piece of armor was the only thing that had that effect on her now that Callisto was dead. The armorer had been with them three months and just knowing he was there had cheered her up. Naturally a skilled armorer was a great asset to them and she'd given him other work to do for the men. She'd made it clear she wanted that to have priority over her helmet, so it had been dragging on. Dagnan set the object on the table and unwrapped the rich silks swathing it. Presentation was important. Kimberly's eyes were dancing and her smile was so wide Joxer thought her face would crack.

"Ooooh," she said, gently picking it up, turning it in her hands. Finally she put it on. Joxer thought it fit her. There was a ruthlessness about it coupled with refinement--just like Kimberly herself.

"Is it to your liking?" Dagnan asked smoothly as Kimberly admired herself in a silver mirror.

"You know it is, Dagnan." She didn't know how he had made the mail veil but she had no problem seeing through it. Guess that's why he was a master armorer. "I hope you'll stay with us, even though you've finished this."

Dagnan had been considering that. He understood what a fine thing Kimberly and her men were doing. The Bitch of Tartarus was the enemy of all humanity. "I would be pleased to stay, mistress."


Joxer came limping up slowly to where Kimberly sat in front of the fire. "It's not your fault, Kimberly." He handed her a flagon of wine, which she seemed to stare at a moment, then downed in a few gulps.

She didn't say anything at first. Her helmet was sitting on the ground, the firelight dancing off its elegant lines and shimmering chain mail. A thing of beauty.

"Joxer, I asked him to stay. So how can it not be my fault?"

He sat down next to her and put his arm around her shoulder briefly. "He was a grown man, Kimberly. Dagnan stayed for the same reason I do, you do, and all the men do. Fighting Xena is the right thing to do."

Kimberly's voice was low. "What about his son?"

"He stayed with his father. You know that there's no place really safe. Xena kills everyone she finds everywhere she goes. You aren't responsible for either of them. You saved them, in fact."

"I should've sent them away. At least his son," she said.

"Sent where? And that was his decision, not yours. If you want to blame someone, blame Xena, not yourself."

"Okay, Joxer." She picked the beautiful helmet up, watching it catch the flickering light. Every flicker was like a life snuffed out by Xena, she thought. Something beautiful here for a fraction of a second and then gone, thanks to the Bitch of Tartarus. "Did you see what she did to them?" she finally said.

"Yeah, Kimberly, I did. Let's not talk about it, okay?"

"Okay, Joxer."


Xena cursed as she studied the terrain, seeing the remnants of her raiding party straggling back. She spurred her horse forward and went to meet them, her personal guard not far behind her. They looked terrified. They should be.

"Well?" she said contemptuously.

"Commander, we were taken by surprise just as we were approaching the village. It was that veiled warrior again." The warrior's face was red as he spoke. He wished he could flee but the Bitch hunted down deserters and gave them to her guard. All of the men hated and feared the Horde warriors who surrounded her, worshipping her as a goddess and sacrificing animals to her.

"Kimberly!" she spat out. She studied the men. Of the 20 she'd sent to destroy a village ten had returned and half of them were wounded. Something about their wounds caught her eye; the cuts showed a pattern. "And how many men did she have with her to drive you off and save those scum?"

"Xena, we were outnumbered. She had at least a fifty men!"

"Liar!" she screamed and threw her chakram which imbedded in the man's chest. Before he could fall, she'd ridden up and retrieved it. She pointed to another warrior. "You, how many were there? Tell me the truth."

The man, who was weak from loss of blood, looked fearfully at her. He hated her. "She was alone, Xena."

She nodded. Kimberly was causing her even more problems than Callisto had. She was at least as good personally as Callisto, and the veiled woman used her army with a subtlety the blonde warlord had never managed. And Kimberly was ruthless in a way Callisto hadn't been in years. She reminded Xena of herself. When Xena had gotten word Callisto was dead she'd thought no one could even slow her down anymore. She had the blonde warrior's burned bones in her tent, next to Draco's preserved head, and the skins of the Amazons. But instead Kimberly had begun a counteroffensive that had crippled her cavalry for months and forced her to begin relying more on infantry. Xena was frustrated. She wasn't killing enough. She wanted blood. She needed to hear the screams, see the crucified bodies as far as the eye could see, and smell the burning flesh. But Kimberly was delaying her. Xena was only killing hundreds or a few thousand at a time instead of the tens of thousands she wanted.

Xena commanded her Horde warriors in their own language, "Kill these stinking cowards!" The ten men tried to flee as they saw the barbarians begin advancing but they were wounded and exhausted. A couple killed themselves before they were caught--the smart ones.

The End