by Joseph Anderson

Xena, Gabrielle, Callisto and all elements from the television program Xena: Warrior Princess are the property of 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 include all notices of copyright.

This story contains extreme graphic violence and some rough language.

I: Callisto and Jilly

The four deserters had just barely managed to escape from the village. Places like that usually were completely undefended and they had simply walked in and gone from hut to hut looking for food primarily, but also anything else that might catch their eye. The way the villagers had started throwing stones at them though and waving farm implements around, they might've had to fight their way out if they hadn't grabbed a hostage. There were a group of kids they'd found. They were going to grab a scared looking teenage girl but then this little girl they didn't remember seeing a minute before ran up and kicked two of them in the shins, so they slapped her and took her instead. They were holding a knife to her throat and backing out of the village. The villagers just stopped and looked frightened out of their wits watching them leave. They hurried into the woods cutting off the road. They never heard the pursuit they expected.

The little blonde girl, who looked around 10, hadn't made a sound during this whole time. That wasn't so strange though; most people cried when they were scared but some just froze up. Flea had one arm in a tight grip and was just yanking her along and they moved as fast as they could to put some distance between themselves and the farm-implement-wielding villagers. She was dressed in a bulky robe--looked pretty strange on a little kid like that.

It was night in the village when the black stallion came walking in. The rider didn't see who she expected to be waiting for her. She waited a moment then simply reared the horse up and knocked down the lightly built wall of the nearest little hut. The cowering people inside looked up at the indistinct figure atop the horse; all they could really make out was the blonde hair.

"Where is the child I left here earlier?"

"We were attacked by bandits, a dozen of them! They carried her off! We fought them off and a bunch of'em were wounded! I think I might've blinded one." The speaker was a fat man who hadn't been in the group that attacked the deserters.

"Oh really? And is there a party following them to bring her back?" The speaker's voice seemed friendly, but had a soft chilling quality that belied that.

Another man spoke up, "No one followed them, Callisto, and there were only four of them. We went at'em with pitchforks and they started to grab a village girl, but your friend ran up and attacked 'em so they took her instead. I'm ashamed we didn't follow them!"

The blonde warlord looked at him. "You wanted to but no one would go with you." It wasn't a question. The man nodded. Callisto spoke to the first man who had spoken to her. "Come here." The man was sweating. He didn't move. "I said COME HERE." The fat man made one foot move in front of the other till he was standing next the mounted warrior. She looked down at him. "I'll bet you argued the others out of going to help a little girl carried off by four men. Tell the truth." The man was dripping sweat; he nodded yes. "Actually answer me." When he opened his mouth to say yes a knife flashed and he was suddenly making awful croaking shrieks and had his hands to his bleeding mouth. "You talk to much," Callisto said as she wiped the knife off on his shoulder and resheathed it." She rode the black stallion into the night.

"I don't like the way that kid keeps looking at me."

"Well, teach her a lesson then. Just not here, I wanna get some sleep. And leave some for the rest of us."

Flea stood up. "Good idea," he said with a laugh and roughly grabbed the little girl by the arm. He pulled her away from the little clearing they had made camp in. When he thought he had gone far enough he kneeled down and said, "Let's see what you've got under that robe." Flea said, "huh?" when the glinting blade suddenly appeared. It was weaving in some strange pattern that made him not want to do anything but look at it. He shook his head and laughed, "Nice knife, give it here." The little girl smiled at him and drove it into his groin and ripped it up to his sternum. She danced away without getting any blood on herself somehow. Her eyes almost seemed to glow in the dark and her smile glimmered as the man moaned, rolling in the dirt and his own entrails. She approached him carefully in order to wipe her knife off on him before she turned to return to the campsite.

Two of the remaining men were sleeping while a third remained awake. He was disappointed Flea was getting first crack at the little girl. He wanted his turn. He hoped he didn't leave her all bloody or anything. Suddenly it was dark and he scrambled for a second frantically before he had pulled whatever it was off his face. He looked at it. It looked like the cloak the kid had been wearing. "Real funny, Flea," he said disgustedly. "Flea?" He looked around but all he saw were his sleeping companions. "Flea?" A figure materialized out of the forest somehow. He blinked his eyes. It looked like a tiny little warrior in black leather, then it was gone. He rubbed his dirty hand over his face and stood up, going to investigate. Maybe Flea had dressed the little girl up or something and was playing some game. He was kinda strange like that.

He looked around once he had gotten outside camp. "Shit," he muttered. He didn't see anything so he decided to take a leak. As he was pissing he heard a strange sound and suddenly cried out as he looked down to see the penis in his hand wasn't connected to his body anymore.

Jilly caught the chakram and stepped out from the darkness; her black leathers made her nearly invisible. That was a tricky shot; she'd had to bank it twice to get it flyng vertically for the kind of cut she wanted. The target was on his knees now but he still had his dick in his hand. Jilly wished she could laugh but she hated the awful croaking sound she made since she didn't have a tongue. The target was crying and screaming. He saw her now. Jilly wanted to try another vertical approach. She threw the chakram and the target dropped his dick and grabbed the hole in his face where his nose used to be. Jilly shook the chakram off and left him.

The two sleeping men woke almost simultaneously to see the black stallion, which had walked into their campsite. As they looked a figure that was hard to make out in the dark seemed to dismount and just looked at them. They scrambled to their feet and grabbed their swords before they recognized the figure. The two of them carefully took their hands away from their weapons.

"Commander Callisto," Brillo said, nervously. Scaphus just looked scared but didn't say anything.

"I was wondering where you boys got off to. I guess you just decided to do a really thorough scouting mission, right?"

"We heard you don't have an army anymore." Brillo said. He hoped by some miracle the warlord would forgive them.

Callisto giggled, "You know, that's true. I lost it not long after you all disappeared. Maybe if I had had better intelligence from my scouting parties I'd still have an army. What's your opinion on that?"

"Uh, Callisto..." Brillo said. There was nothing he could say. He knew how changeable she was. Their only hope was if she just decided to let them live for some reason of her own. Where was Flea and Jan? Lucky bastards. Probably banging the little girl while he and Scaphus were with Callisto. It wasn't fair!

"Where's the little girl you grabbed? Oh, speak of Hades, there she is." Brillo heard something and looked down to see the kid standing next to him. She was dressed just like Callisto. "Where's the other two horse turds, Jilly?" The little girl made some sign and Callisto said, "Already?" The child made another sign. "Good girl, Jilly."

"Just for your information, Brillo, this little girl you were planning on raping to death is my friend. While YOU two are deserters from my army. What should I do with you, do you think? Why don't you boys make a fire while I think about this."

Brillo grabbed his dagger and cut his own jugular in a quick motion. He fell to the ground. Callisto looked at Scaphus. He stood unmoving, seeming paralyzed.

"It's obvious who the brains of this operation was." Callisto said with a light laugh. "Jilly." Scaphus grunted and looked up as the little girl was actually standing on his shoulders. He felt a bad pain and then a really bad pain.

Callisto watched approvingly as Jilly made a quick cut around the hairline then dropped in back of Scaphus holding his hair tightly. He screamed as his scalp pulled off. The warlord hadn't shown that to her. Jilly was improvising. He fell down screaming and Jilly walked over to her. They watched him for a few minutes then Callisto said, "What you do you think?" The little girl made a sign. "You're too soft, Jilly," Callisto sighed. The warlord drew her sword and sauntered over to the writhing man. Raising her sword she struck down, beheading him. She wiped her sword off on the body.

Callisto mounted her black stallion and held a hand down to help Jilly up. "Have you had anything to eat yet? No? There's some bread in my pack there, but be careful not to get crumbs on anything." The woman and child atop the huge horse cantered off into the darkness.

II: Kimberly and Jilly

"Kimberly, take a look at this," the teenager said. The warlord rode over on her mare. The dappled light in the forest played over her small helmet, its gold inlay glinting and the chain mail veil seeming to go through a myriad of color changes.

"Interesting, Jilly. What do you make of it?"

Sometimes Jilly hated Kimberly's veil. It made her impossible to read. She was trying to teach her something; Callisto used to do the same thing. That was probably where Kimberly got it since Callisto trained her too. She'd usually had the answers Callisto wanted, but she didn't with Kimberly.

"Travelers who were naive or stupid. Didn't take any precautions and a few robbers caught them."

"So what's so strange about that?"

"There's nothing strange about it. I was just pointing some bodies out to you. I thought you might be interested in something like that. You are in charge, after all." Jilly tried to keep the irritation out of her voice though it still sounded snotty even to her. She had seen Callisto kill people for being less irritating than she was acting. She'd done it herself when she was alone or with Callisto. The one time she'd started to do something like that to a stupid tavern keeper around Kimberly though, the warlord had taken her sword away from her--in front of everybody!!-- and slapped her so hard she was surprised her head hadn't come off. On reflex she'd pulled her dagger and Kimberly just stood there not defending herself. How could Kimberly know she wouldn't kill her? Kimberly was so smart Jilly was spooked by her. Jilly had just grabbed her sword back from the warlord and stomped out of the tavern, her face red.

That enigmatic veil just looked at her. "This is a nasty piece of work, Jilly. Take care of it and catch up to us later." She paused, "If there were any prisoners taken, bring them back with you." The warlord spurred her horse and headed to the front of the long column.

Jilly was relieved. Great! she thought. This was just like something she would do with Callisto. The girl didn't understand why the warlord wanted her to avenge some anonymous fools but doing it was fine with Jilly.

As she scanned the terrain Kimberly thought of Jilly. The girl was a sociopath. She wanted her to show some outrage over the bodies of those poor people but she could tell Jilly was just frustrated that she didn't know what Kimberly expected of her. Kimberly loved Jilly. She wanted to instill at least some respect of life in her, though she suspected it was kind of late for that. After the kind of abuse Jilly had gone through and then riding with Callisto what could she expect of the child? Kimberly knew she wasn't exactly Mother Teresa in the role model department herself. Jilly was like a gun though. Whoever those assholes were who committed that atrocity, they were going to be in for quite a surprise when the 15 year old caught up to them.

III: Ares and Jilly

The murmuring voices nudged at his consciousness before finally waking him. Looking over he saw Meg curled up like she always did. He lightly laid a hand on the swell of her hip under the covers as he continued listening. Those were definitely voices Joxer heard. He got up and grabbed a long robe to pull on. Meg had introduced him to sleeping naked and now he couldn't imagine any other way. Walking lightly he came out his and Meg's room following the voices. Outside the twins' room he listened and recognized Jilly's voice softly talking. Okay, he thought tiredly and stumbled back to bed.

"When is Kimberly coming to visit, Jilly?" the little girl said. Her twin stared at her too. The blonde young woman in the light shift---she was out of her leathers for the first time in months--hugged both children to her.

"Kimberly," Jilly kissed her head quickly, "big Kimberly is really far away now, and it might be a real, real long time before she can come to visit you; and you too, Xeno," she quickly said to the little boy.

"But I MISS her," the little girl said, and the boy nodded.

"So do I," Jilly said, her eyes suddenly filling with tears as she remembered the last time she had seen her, at the apocalyptic last stand of the Sword of Ares. The picture she kept seeing in her mind was Weldon falling with what looked like fifty arrows in him and Kimberly screaming--she actually screamed. Kimberly was clearly the target but Weldon spotted the archers and put his huge body between them and his lover and commander. Jilly had instantly led a contingent of her light cavalry over to them. She usually never lost control like that--she remembered her men looking at her like she was some kind of demon. All she could think of was Weldon falling and Kimberly screaming.

As the battle progressed Jilly could clearly see in her mind the warlord standing next to her dead horse--the mare she said Callisto had given her. She was surrounded by bodies; about equally her own men and their attackers. Jilly was busy herself as she watched her lightly armored horsemen cut to pieces by the Assyrians in heavy armor who had targeted them. Whoever was commanding the other side had carefully studied everything that had made the Sword of Ares invincible up to this time. Kimberly's army had killed the first wave--they looked like combined Persians and Turks--like they always did, and then most of the second wave. But when the third wave hit them everyone in Kimberly's army knew something was very wrong. They all craned to see in the distance and all they could see were more soldiers coming. If it took 20 waves of soldiers to roll over them, they had them. Jilly remembered Kimberly being everywhere at once, barking commands and killing someone with every stroke of her sword. Then her mare was killed under her and Kimberly had to simply fight where she stood. There were no messengers coming to her for orders. There was no time for that. There were just enemy soldiers everywhere you looked and a vast array of armors: representatives of Kimberly's far-flung campaigns deep into Russia, India and Asia. In front of Joxer's house the kids pointed a battle out to her, and she remembered seeing several large black ants overrun by what seemed like hundreds of small red ants--that was what it reminded her of. Kimberly had miscalculated. In her years of leadership Kimberly took greater and greater risks for greater and greater gains, and she had never lost a battle. Until now.

"Jilly! Jilly! Jilly!" she came out of her reflections with a start as she felt the four little fists pummeling her. Xeno cried, "You didn't answer! We said your name OVER and OVER!"

"I'm sorry. I was just thinking of something. You two should be in bed. I can't imagine what Joxer would do to me if he knew I was keeping you up. Probably what Callisto did to Cortese."

"What was that, Jilly?"

"Some other time. You need to get to bed now. How can you make the rivers flood with blood if you can't keep your eyes open, huh?"

The twins shook their heads solemnly, their eyes huge but sleepy looking. The blonde young woman tucked them in and after leaving their room, paused a moment then stepped outside of Joxer's little house.

"Nice kids. Think they have any talent?"

"I don't know. I was turning tricks for my father when I was their age so I don't know what kids like that are like." Jilly didn't look at him. "What if I fail you? Will you do to me what you did to Kimberly?"

"Probably. Don't fail me. It's simple as that." Ares paused. "She didn't just fail me, you know that. I warned her, you warned her, Weldon warned her. She knows more military history than I do. THAT warned her."

"Has Kimberly lost her mind yet, Ares?" Jilly asked, finally looking at the beautiful man standing next to her. He seemed to glow a little bit in the darkness. He smiled at her, his perfect teeth framed by his perfectly trimmed black beard.

"No. She's held up pretty well so far. Just drinking a lot is all. I'm curious to see what she does."

"You should've let her die with her men. That wasn't right."

"Right and wrong isn't my province. Creating warriors is. If I set an example for you, maybe you won't fail me." The god disappeared.

Jilly went back inside of Joxer's house returning to the room she shared with the twins. They were asleep now. She picked up her sword and retrieved the sharpening stone from her saddlebag and crept back out into the main living area. The young woman began mechanically sharpening her already razor sharp weapon as she let her mind wander over her future.

The End