By Joseph Anderson

The characters of Kimberly and Jilly belong to the author but were originally created in Xena fanfic I wrote. Callisto belongs to Renaissance Picturess and Studio USA. No copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: Graphic violence, references to child abuse, and rough language.

These vignettes assume the reader is familiar with my extended storyline about Kimberly and Jilly. It includes time travel and reincarnations so it can get pretty confusing. For background, the first Kimberly story is History Lesson. Jilly is introduced in Callisto: Child's Play. Some other pertinent stories are Junior High, Dropout, Jilly, and Family Affair, and other collections of vignettes about Jilly.


The soldiers all had a fearful haggard look, even more than was usual for them. The news hit them all hard. Callisto was dead. Altinoos went to Joxer and then the two of them went to the large command tent. "Kimberly," Joxer said. When there wasn't an answer they entered the tent. Inside they found the dark young woman, her face red and with an amphora of wine. A clump of yellow hair was on the floor in front of her. She wasn't wearing her veil and Altinoos froze when he saw for the first time what Kimberly looked like. Joxer said quietly to him: "She just looks like her. That's all. That's why she wears the veil." He said more loudly, "Kimberly."

The girl looked up. She'd slept here too although she thought of it as Callisto's tent like everyone else. "Yeah?" she asked in a low voice.

Altinoos, still shaken at her resemblance to Xena, saw her condition and was going to leave but Joxer grabbed his arm and threw a look at the young woman. The scarred officer frowned but nodded.

"What are your orders?" Altinoos asked.

Kimberly responded, "Huh? Why ask me? You're in charge now, I guess."

Joxer said, "No, Kimberly. Altinoos isn't in command. You are."

The blue eyed, dark haired girl snapped, "That's crazy."

Altinoos said, "She was grooming you. You took the armory in Iaclos and led the ambush in the marshes. The men look at you like they did Callisto. I include myself." He spoke in his clipped educated way. Altinoos had been a scholar before the Bitch of Tartarus.

The girl muttered, "I'm not even from here. Anyway, none of this is real. It's just a dream."

Joxer said, "Altinoos, lemme talk to her alone."

The man nodded tensely and left. Joxer limped over and sat down across from the intoxicated, red-faced girl. He picked up the clump of blonde hair.

"I shoulda gone, Joxer. Not her," she said and tears began running down her face.

"Why?" Joxer asked though he knew the answer. He wanted her to say it.

"Because," she said staring at the floor.

Joxer finished her thought. "Because you probably could've saved both the children in the granary and yourself."

Kimberly reached for the bowl of wine and Joxer caught her hand. "She's got Callisto's bones. Probably making one into a dildo right now. Xena has many skills."

"Shut up!" Kimberly said and pulled the wine bowl spilling the contents. She started sobbing. "Oh God! Oh God! Callisto!"

They heard yells and then Altinoos rushed back into the tent. "An army is north of us! It's the Bitch!" He looked expectantly at the dark haired girl.

Kimberly looked at him and then at Joxer. "All right," she said and bared her teeth. She smoothly stood up and ordered, "Joxer, get the refugees moving. Dammit, we should've moved yesterday but we waited here like fools. Altinoos, move the men beyond the river but have the cavalry ready. I'll take the mountaineers and buy you some time."

"Then what?" Altinoos asked guardedly. Her drunkenness seemed to have melted away but he was careful.

Kimberly took Callisto's hair from Joxer's hand and shoved it down the front of her leathers. She grabbed her white veil up and tied it on with a leather band. "We'll hit their supply wagons and horses tonight. She's expecting us to run. I wanna send a message."

She grabbed her sword up and looked at Joxer and Altinoos. "Well?"

They nodded and hurried out into the bustling armed camp.


Kimberly came cantering up on her exhausted blood-spattered horse. Joxer was standing beside a body in the moonlight. It was one of several from the night's bloody skirmishes. The young woman swung down from her mare.

"If it's not Polydames," she said mockingly. He wore a rich breastplate and a helmet with a horsehair plume that was covered in dirt and blood now. "You've made quite a reputation for yourself. First you massacred those Hestian priestesses, then you lured ships onto rocks with a fake signal, and now you took Callisto's bones to Xena. A real can-do guy. Nice armor."

The wounded man looked up fearfully at the veiled warrior, silvery in the pale moonshine. "I had to serve her. You know how it is. I didn't want to. No one wants to!"

Before Kimberly could reply Joxer kicked the man savagely in his wounded side and Polydames groaned. Joxer sneered, "I know how it is." He pointed to a nearby corpse. "That's my friend Altinoos. I saw you spear him myself."

Kimberly squatted down beside the helpless man . "You had a choice, Polydames. You could've joined Meleager or Draco. You could have ridden with Callisto. Instead you took what was left of her to that animal." Her voice had taken on a soft quality.

"Please!" The man began weeping.

She continued: "Your men left. They must really hate you. Have you heard of me?" Joxer looked sharply at her.

"I can help you! I know how she thinks!" the wounded man whimpered.

Kimberly looked thoughtful and said, "Really?" The man got a hopeful smile as she looked up at Joxer and said with mock seriousness, "What do you think?"

Joxer growled, "He doesn't know anything, Kimberly. Nothing we don't already have."

"I know."

"No! I can help you!" the wounded man pleaded, panic replacing the brief hope he had.

Kimberly nodded at her friend. Joxer kicked Polydames again and again in his wounded side until he passed out. Then Kimberly softly slapped the man until he opened his eyes again. "You should be awake for this, Polydames." He began to beg as she slit his throat. Kimberly and Joxer ignored the gurgling sounds and went to bury Altinoos's body. He didn't have a family to take him back to. The Bitch of Tartarus fed them to wild dogs a year before.


The girl protectively held on to her little brother's hand as her mother held her other hand. They were all dressed up.

"Isn't Daddy coming?" Jilly asked. Her mother looked at her and just shook her head. Then her mom noticed something on Sam's face and took a Kleenex from a pocket and bent down to wipe it off.

The six-year-old blond girl looked back in the house as they left and saw her daddy was cleaning one of his guns.

Mommy led them to a car and Paulie opened the door for them all and then got in the driver's seat. Mommy sat in back with her and Sam. "Cemetery, Paulie," Mommy said and Paulie grunted, nodding his big scarred head. On the way they stopped once and Paulie got out and bought some flowers that he gave to Mommy.

They drove to a place that looked like the park and Paulie waited in the car. Mommy got out and took Jilly's hand and Jilly held onto Sam's hand real careful like she always did. Mommy led them past all these funny looking rock things. Some were real simple and some were big and fancy. Then Mommy stopped at a medium sized one and she laid the flowers in front of it.

"Jilly, this is your big brother. Before I had you I had another little boy. This is his grave."

The little girl felt funny. The way Mommy's face was all red and how her voice sounded all choked scared her. "Like Sam?" Jilly asked, squeezing her little brother's hand. He was looking at it all fascinated, his mouth hanging open a little and his blue eyes wide.

"Yeah, baby. Just like Sam. But he had a different daddy. I didn't know your daddy yet.."

Sam pulled away from his sister and walked closer and touched the carving on the gravestone.

Jilly read, "Cuchulain. Beloved son of Weldon and Kimberly." She looked at the carving after Sam lost interest and Mommy picked him up. It was circles that went around and around and she just wanted to stare at it.

Mommy said, "That's a Celtic knot. His daddy had one like it on his breastplate."

Jilly asked, "What's a breastplate?"

Mommy didn't answer. Instead she had gotten stiff and Jilly saw Paulie come walking up. He whispered in Mommy's ear. Then they all walked back to the car real fast, and Jilly saw how Mommy and Paulie were all nervous and looking around. At the car Mommy put Jilly and Sam in the back seat. Then Paulie handed Mommy something shiny that Mommy slid into a pocket.

She heard Mommy say bitterly to Paulie, "Can't even visit my baby's grave. Wonderful fucking world." Paulie just grunted. Mommy continued, "Take the kids home. I'm gonna have a few words with Vinnie. Thinks he can intimidate Cal by following me here. I'm gonna have a few fucking words with Vinnie."

Paulie said in his gravelly voice, "Ah, Kimberly, he's not worth it. Just a dumb fuck."

Mommy said, "Thinks he's cute. Thinks Vittorio's old and this'll look good to Gianni. Coming around me and Cal's kids. Tell Cal what happened."

"Okay, Kimberly. I hope Jimmy don't get pissed. "

Mommy made a snorting sound. "Over him?"

Paulie laughed too but still looked uneasy. "Want me to come back?"

Mommy said, "Yeah, Paulie. Bring some trash bags and rope."

Paulie grunted and drove off. In the back seat Jilly and Sam both clambered up and stared at Mommy through the rear windshield. Mommy was real pretty all dressed in black and with a veil. She kept one hand hidden as she started walking in the direction of another man who was smiling arrogantly.


The blonde man in a beautiful suit came into the Social Club and spotted Jimmy at his usual table. The Consigliori didn't look happy.

"Wanted to see me, Jimmy?" The southern accent seemed out of place.

"Yeah, sit down, Cal," the older man said. He lit a cigarette. Big Tony and Eddy Rice got up and moved to another table.

Cal sat down but was aware of what the others were doing.

Jimmy said, "You don't whack nobody without my say-so. You come to me first."

"I didn't do nothing, Jimmy."

The old mafioso eyed him. "You don't order it either. That dumb fuck! Paulie right there. Dumb fucking guinea. Cal, Vittorio might let it go but Gianni can't ignore this. Vinnie was his cousin."

Cal said softly, "They send him after my family, Jimmy?"

Jimmy quickly said, "No. No way, Cal. They'd never do that. But you shoulda come to me, Cal. Then I'd call Vittorio and he'd call Gianni. They'd talk to him. Now, see, we got this situation. We gotta give something."

Cal's brown eyes got wider. Eddy and Big Tony were watching Jimmy for some kind of sign. Cal Snopes never acted crazy but a lotta people got a wild feel off him. Cal said, "It wasn't Paulie."

Jimmy smiled, "The nigger? We can just give 'em the nigger."

Cal shook his head. "No, it wasn't Robert."

Jimmy cynically said, "That just leaves Kimberly."

Cal shrugged.

Jimmy sighed, "Yeah, Cal. Your wife cut a guy up, stuffed him in a garbage bag and left him in the trunk of his own car. Not you or Paulie or your nigger. Kimberly."

Cal shrugged again.

Jimmy studied the fingerman, weighing the pros and cons of the situation. Cal was lying to him. But somebody screwed with Cal's family and he just didn't want give up whoever took care of it. Jimmy could understand that. Vittorio was old and Gianni was moving up. Only a fucking idiot would push a guy like Cal that way and Gianni was no idiot. Depending on how many other stupid things his cousin had done, Gianni might've whacked him himself for this. But this wasn't the right way to handle it. It made Gianni look bad.

"You need to make a gesture, Cal." Jimmy held a hand up. "Whoever it was, you have to make the gesture. Gianni sympathizes. Hell, who wouldn't? Fucking moron Vinnie."

Cal glanced around the Social Club. "Yeah, Jimmy. Okay. How much?"

Jimmy relaxed. "I'll talk to him. Few G's I'd say. Or maybe you could do a job for Gianni sometime."

Cal rose and brushed his lank blonde hair out of his brown eyes. "Whatever you say, Jimmy. You're the boss."

The Consigliori waved him away. "Yeah, okay, Cal. I'll let you know."


Cal came home and Kimberly was waiting. She came up and took his hat. He smiled ironically at her.

"I'm sorry, honey," Kimberly said.

Her husband shrugged. "I'd done the same. Asshole coming around my wife and kids. If you were what he thought you were....that fucker..."

"What'd Jimmy say?"

"Vinnie was Gianni's cousin."

"Oh, fuck. Great." Kimberly groaned.

"Nah, don't worry. I just gotta make a gesture. Show Gianni some respect. He didn't have nothing to do with it."

The woman shook her head looking at the ground. "God, Cal. I dunno what got into me. I mean I knew he was just a shithead and the right way to handle it. But coming around Jilly and Sam. And when I was at my baby's made me mad."

"Me too," Cal said. "Don't worry about it."


Kimberly stepped into the inn and studied the interior carefully. The lamplight was playing off the winding gold pattern on her helmet and shimmered off of the chain mail hiding her face. It had gotten silent with her entry. A potbellied man in an apron came up to her and said in a wheedling tone, "Your ladyship. You do me honor! The magnificent Sword of Ares in my humble establishment!"

"Thanks," she said shortly.

"And you are alone?" he asked.


The tall figure followed the innkeeper to a table. "Bring me a meal and some wine." She took a seat so she could watch the door. The room gradually resumed its previous sounds. Her food arrived just as another slight figure entered the room, spotted her and came over.

"Hello Jilly. Wait a moment," the big woman said. "Come back here," she said to the innkeeper. The room got silent again.

"Mistress?" he said. Jilly noticed he was beginning to sweat.

Kimberly was studying her food. She looked at the man. "Taste this."

"Wh...wh...why? What's the matter?" he said. Jilly smiled.

The helmeted figure answered, "Hopefully, nothing's the matter. That's why I want you to taste this."

He picked up a spoon and took some food. As his hand neared his mouth it began shaking more and more. He dropped the spoon with a clatter.

Jilly stood and moved beside him, putting her knife to his throat. He licked his lips and was sweating more. Kimberly stood up and said to the room at large: "Get out." In a moment the frantic customers cleared the room. She looked back at the fat man. Jilly's knife had broken the skin and the girl had a lazy grin.

"Why did you try to poison me?" Kimberly said coldly. "Answer me."

"I had no choice," he said desperately.

"I'm listening."

"My's my family!"

Jilly said, "This is bullshit, Kimberly. He wanted to sell your head to your enemies." She nicked another spot on his fat neck, the blood mixing with his sweat.

The warrior was studying the terrified man. She said again, "Explain how it's your family."

"I...I...I.." the man stammered.

Kimberly sighed and looked at the food she had been brought. It smelled delicious. Then she looked back up at this treacherous fool. It wasn't worth it. "Let 'im go, Jilly. Let's go."

"What?" the teenager said with disbelief. She nicked him again and he moaned in fear. "He tried to kill you!"

"I said let him go. Put your knife away. Now."

Reluctantly the girl sheathed her blade and stepped away from the terrified man. She began to turn away but then lashed out with a brass-toed boot which connected with a crunching sound to the man's right knee.

"Jilly! Do what I say! Wait outside!" Kimberly barked.

The blonde girl was baring her teeth as she looked at Kimberly then back at the fat man moaning on the floor. "I'll remember you!" she hissed looking in his eyes before the young warrior stalked out of the inn.

"Thank you! Thank you!" he said pathetically to the warrior wearing the veiled helmet standing over him.

Kimberly shook her head and picked up her cup of wine. "Is this poison too?"

The man shook his head. She said, "It had better not be for your sake. Because if it is, Jilly will come back for you."

"Don't drink it, your ladyship!" he said tearfully.

Kimberly sniffed it and poured it out over the man. "Do you know how lucky you are? I hope you do." The big woman left the tavern with the weeping man on the floor.

Outside Jilly was waiting with their horses. She looked at Kimberly. "I don't understand."

Kimberly swung up on her mare. "It's just not worth it."

"I'll catch up to you later," Jilly said.

The big woman chuckled. "Nope. Let's go." She began her horse walking and the girl followed her but looked back at the tavern a moment, frowning.


The column of soldiers stopped as the slight blonde figure at their head held a hand up. Next to her a handsome man looked curiously at her. "What is it?"

The queen was studying the village they had been intending to pass by. "I'm not sure, Bancher. There's something about this place. Wanna check it out with me?"

Her consort shrugged. "We can get something to eat. Maybe it'll come to you while we're eating."

Jilly nodded and twisted around in her saddle to beckon to a young soldier who came riding up immediately. "Laconius, take the men on to Pergamon. If we don't catch up to you there, just continue to my capitol."

The soldier looked worried. "Your majesty, may I leave a contingent of men with you?"

Jilly shook her head and brusquely said, "No. Just do what you're told."

Laconius bowed his head quickly and wheeled his horse around to begin giving orders. Jilly looked at Bancher. "What?"

"It's his duty to keep you safe."

She looked at him and rode over to Laconius to say a few words and lay a hand on his arm. The queen returned beside her consort. "Happy?"

Bancher nodded.

The two riders came into the village as the soldiers continued on the main road. Villagers looked nervously at them and directed them to an inn. As they tied their mounts up outside Jilly continued looking around. "I dunno, Bancher. It's like there's something I was supposed to do here. It's gonna drive me nuts if I don't remember what it was."

They walked into the inn, their rich clothes standing out, the gems on Jilly's fighting leathers glittering. A young woman came up to them and led them to a table.

"Please bring us whatever you make best," Bancher said. The young woman smiled at him, looked nervously at Jilly, curtsied and hurried to the kitchen. The few others in the inn were surreptitiously looking at them, making Bancher uncomfortable. He saw that Jilly thought nothing of it though. She'd never known any different. Even before she became a queen, Jilly had been feared and an object of curiosity going back to when she was a young girl riding with Callisto. Later of course she was the lieutenant of the Sword of Ares.

As their food arrived a small boy came walking out of a back room and Jilly smiled at him. Then the child turned at a sound and said, "Grampa!" Jilly looked up and the smile on her face froze. A potbellied older man, limped forward and knelt down to hug the small child who ran up to him. He awkwardly straightened back up, his bad knee making it difficult. Then he saw the blonde woman in rich fighting leathers staring at him.

Bancher looked sharply at his wife. "Jilly, what is it? Who is he?"

"Lita," the older man said, and the young woman came out of the kitchen. "Keep Aritius in the kitchen." She looked curiously at her father and led the small boy away.

The queen stood up and looked around the room. "Get out," she said. The room cleared in seconds.

"Jilly, what is it?" Bancher repeated.

The innkeeper hadn't moved. He stood waiting as the slight blonde woman walked to stand in front of him. She looked up at his face.

"Do you remember me?"


Jilly's breathing had gotten shallow, Bancher saw. She slowly drew a dagger and smiled as the man's eyes got larger and he began sweating. "Anything to say?" she said in a whisper as her smile got wide and mad looking.

The man said softly, "I'm sorry."

"Jilly, tell me what he did."

The blonde woman looked over at Bancher and her eyes took on a more human look. "He tried to poison Kimberly. Right here. We were even at the same table. She let him go."

"Why?" her consort said.

Jilly frowned. "I don't know. She shouldn't have. And I'm not going to!" Bancher had broken her concentration.

The young woman from the kitchen, holding the child rushed up and said frantically, "Stop it! Don't hurt my father. Take whatever you want. Just don't hurt him!"

The old innkeeper said, "Lita, they aren't robbers. I told you to stay in the kitchen."

The small boy began crying at the fear in his mother's and grandfather's voices. Jilly snarled, "Be quiet or I'll kill all of you!"

The young woman began making terrified gulping sounds and clamped a hand over her son's mouth to silence him. The old man began to say "Don't hurt..." but a foot lashed out crunching his knee again like so many years before. He fell with a moan.

Bancher said, "Jilly! Stop it! Stop it!" He grabbed her arm. Jilly's mad face turned to look at him, her dagger going to his throat of its own accord. She froze looking in his eyes, then looked at the hysterical young woman kneeling beside her injured father and with a hand over her son's mouth---so Jilly wouldn't kill him. The warrior queen sheathed her dagger and stepped back.

Bancher said to her, "Let's go, Jilly. It's what Kimberly would do."

Jilly was pale. She said to the young mother, "I'm sorry." The queen turned and walked out of the room.

Bancher said to the old man, "Do you know how lucky you are?" The innkeeper nodded but his daughter looked outraged in spite of her fright. Bancher looked at her and then back at the innkeeper. "You should tell her the truth." Then he followed Jilly out of the inn.


The Kid pulled his hat low over his eyes, shielding them against the New Mexico sun. He shrugged his narrow shoulders and twisted around on the horse studying the land. He patted the gun he wore to reassure himself of its presence.

"Billy, don't be so durned nervous. Garrett ain't nowheres near us." The speaker was walking up on another horse.

The Kid smiled self deprecatingly. "Don't be so sure, Jim. Old Pat wants me. Knows where to look too."

Jim spat tobacco juice to the side and said. "Sheriff Pat Garrett....Sheriff! That snake eyed varmint! Huntin' down his own friends."

The Kid nodded. "Sad thing. Surely is a sad thing. Old Pat taught me a thing or two."

Jim began turning his horse when he saw Billy get a funny wild look.

"What is it, Kid?" Jim asked.

Billy said something and then tumbled from his horse.

Jim jumped down. Billy was lying on the ground with his jaw working and his eyes rolled back in his head. Then he came to himself. "What happened?"

"You just keeled over, Kid." Jim said, helping Billy back up.

The teenager ran his hand through his blonde hair. He was covered in a cold sweat. "Lordy, Jim. I surely hope I ain't taking ill. That's all I need. To be laid up sick when Old Pat comes for me."

He was shaky but swung back up on the horse.

Jim asked, "Who's Kimberly?"

The Kid looked blank and Jim said, "You asked where Kimberly was just before you fell off your durned horse.."

Billy frowned. "I surely don't know." The two rode back towards Fort Sumner.


The Kid had just taken the saddle off his mount in the stable at Pete Maxwell's ranch. He was worried about keeling over like he did earlier. What he told Jim was true: Now was no time for him to be sick: not with a reward on his head and Pat Garrett gunning for him. As he turned back to pat the animal's neck he had a vision, like a dream he was inside and also watching. A little girl was on a horse in front of someone who was holding her. She was mighty skinny, dirty and dressed in nothing but rags. It was night and they were riding hard like a posse was after 'em. The girl would have been scared but wasn't because of the person with her. Looking up, she saw blonde hair. A beautiful face with wild brown eyes glanced down at her and made an exaggerated pout. Billy tried to talk and heard a croaking sound and knew the girl didn't have a tongue. The girl began to cry in frustration.

The blonde lady hissed, "Don't cry! It's weak! I'll teach you how to make people listen!" The little girl was scared but then the lady got a wide smile and with her blonde hair streaming behind her made the horse go even faster through the liquid dark. The girl was finally lulled to sleep, her hand lightly grasping the hilt of the dagger Callisto gave her. Billy came back to himself and found he was gripping his own knife. "Lordy..." he muttered.


Little Bertie was sitting on his lap. Billy smiled at her and over at her parents who were looking fondly at him. Then the woman got a serious expression and told Bertie to run outside and play. After the little girl did, Mrs. Ballard said, "Billy. Please go. This is no place for you anymore. After what happened at McSween's house...My God...It's a wonder you escaped."

Billy said, "I won't be run off by those polecats! I don't care if they own the law. Mr. McSween was a fine man just like Mr. Tunstall was. Mrs. McSween loved that piano and it got burned up with everything else. At least she got out."

Mr. Ballard said, "You can't go on like this forever. Change your name and start over somewheres, Billy. Go east. Go to Mexico."

The young man rose smiling softly. "I don't reckon I'll do that. All my friends are here." He looked at the woman again. "Mam, can I hold the baby a little bit?"

The woman shook her head resignedly and handed the baby over to the boy who carefully held it. Billy suddenly had a strange sensation. The baby he was holding was in a different blanket. Looking up it wasn't the Ballards anymore with him but a big dark haired woman with blue eyes and a mighty tall man with long red hair in braids and a long red mustache. Both were dressed in funny looking clothes and they were eating at a small table. The woman glanced over at him. "Weldon, will you look at that. Stops crying as soon as Jilly picks him up. Makes me question my maternal instincts." The big man made a noncommittal sound then looked at Billy and smiled. Billy found himself back with Mr. and Mrs. Ballard holding their baby. He handed the infant back and hurriedly left.


With Deluvina beside him in bed, Billy was dreaming: The tall dark haired woman was dressed in black leather this time. She wore a helmet that had a veil made of chain links that hid her face. She said, "Do you understand why I took your sword away earlier? Why I slapped you?"

Billy heard himself say in a pouting girlish voice, "So I wouldn't kill that stupid tavern keeper."

"Yes. But why?"

Billy shrugged and looked away. His eyes caught his own reflection in a mirror. It was a girl dressed in a black leather outfit, sort of like the big woman's but more skimpy. She had a sword on her back and a mass of wild blonde hair. The eyes looked just like Billy's own. The figure guessed an answer: "He might have friends?"

The dark woman took the helmet off and Billy saw a pair of amazing blue eyes full of sadness. "Yeah...that's it. Killing somebody you don't know might start a blood feud. Even a tavern keeper might know somebody. It can come back on you different ways. So don't kill anybody unless you have to. That's important, Jilly. Only kill if there's no other alternative."

Jilly said sullenly, "Okay." Then her face lit up. "Hey...I remember something like that. Callisto killed a blacksmith. We practically had to kill half the village. Then later somebody recognized us from there and tried to poison Callisto. I cut her head off and the same thing happened. We had to fight our way out. All of that just from Callisto gutting a nobody."

Billy glanced at the reflection again and the expression on the girl's face hurt him. It was so pathetically eager to please. He wondered if that's how he had looked at Mr. Tunstall.

"That's right, Jilly. It's best to be careful and not make enemies. What did the blacksmith do?"

Billy heard himself laugh in that girlish voice. "He expected her to pay him! Can you imagine?"

Billy woke up and Deluvina snuggled closer to him. The young man stared up at the dark ceiling of the room. He thought of Pat Garrett coming for him. Old Pat whose eyes would get sad sometimes when they talked.


Billy heard crying. When he looked around he saw Kimberly and Weldon again. They were all inside of a tent and it was the big woman crying as she hugged the tall red haired warrior. They were standing beside a cradle. Billy felt Jilly's throat choke up as she looked at the silent crib. Jilly wished Joxer were here but he had left to settle down with Meg. She wanted him for Kimberly to talk to. Jilly backed out of the tent. There were creaks and grunts and she followed the sound to find several pots of wine being unloaded off of a wagon. She wished Kimberly had Joxer to talk to.


Billy was used to the dreams now. He looked forward to them. Jilly worked for Kimberly sorta like Billy had worked for John Tunstall. Billy never had anything until the Englishman gave him a job. He said he wanted Billy to manage a ranch for him eventually. Billy would blush and look down. Mr. Tunstall even called him "son" a time or two. Once he heard Mr. Tunstall talking. A man told him he oughta be careful about Billy. There were stories. But Mr. Tunstall had said Billy was the finest lad he'd ever met, that he was a revelation to him and just needed a chance. Billy slipped away not wanting to hear any more. He decided not to kill the man bad mouthing him. Mr. Tunstall wouldn't like that.

John Tunstall was a mighty smart businessman. Anybody could see that. He was green in some ways though. He thought he could open a store, take the military contracts for beef, and that Dolan and Company would just stand by and watch. Mr. Tunstall said he had every right to compete and any court would support him. Billy told him maybe England was like that but things was done different in Lincoln County. Well, Mr. Tunstall finally learned. The unarmed Englishman was shot down by four of Dolan's gunmen sent by Sheriff Brady. Them that didn't like it, like Billy, gathered around Mr. Tunstall's partner Mr. McSween, who was even greener. Billy tried to warn him too. Billy wanted to fight but they should abandon the house. Keep moving like old Geronimo does, Billy told him. That's how you fight when you're outgunned. But Alexander McSween made Tunstall look like Wes Hardin. Billy stuck though and Mr. McSween was gunned down and his beautiful home burned after a five day siege with Billy and 14 others inside. When men ran out of the burning building they'd be assassinated by the forces of law and order. Billy somehow shot his way out and got away from the massacre. The Lincoln County War was over. There was no one left to fight the Company but himself and he couldn't do it alone. Billy tried to save his skin. He wrote to Governor Wallace and asked for a pardon, saying he'd surrender and testify about a murder he'd witnessed committed by Company gunmen. The governor met with him and accepted his offer. When he was locked up, the Governor tore up his pardon. Billy escaped and begun rustling cattle and reading the dime novels about himself that started showing up. Dime novels didn't mean nothing to them that wanted him dead. Or maybe they did. Maybe the dime novels made them want him dead even more.

Kimberly wasn't green like Mr. Tunstall or Mr. McSween. She was as tough and savvy as they come. There wasn't any law, even less than Lincoln County. No national government at all; just cities all with their own little armies. And there were warlords with armies too. Kimberly was one of them but she was different. The other warlords attacked villages and cities, kidnapped people, took slaves. Kimberly never did that. She hunted warlords. She'd free the slaves but keep everything else. It was profitable but mighty dangerous. Sometimes Jilly would see an opportunity that seemed too good to pass up like a city with weak defenses. She'd point it out to Kimberly. The big woman would just get this sad look and say no, she would stick to warlords. It disappointed Jilly that Kimberly was so set in her ways. That was why she kept bringing it up. For Kimberly's own good.


Billy was prowling outside the ranchhouse. In the moonlight he discovered a big bearded man leaning casually against a tree like he was waiting for him. He wore a black shirt and leather vest with Mexican silver work, fancy tooled boots, and had two guns that were butt forward the way Hickcock wore his. Everything about him seemed too perfect, like he stepped off the cover of a dime novel.

The teenager approached him but didn't speak.

The man smiled and tipped his wide black hat, which had a silver band on it. Billy saw little skulls embossed on the hatband. The man said, "Do you know me?" He had a low voice that involuntarily sent shivers through the boy.

Billy was careful. "Can't say I do."

The man straightened up and Billy tensed, ready if he made a move for those matched pearl handled revolvers.

"I'm Ares."

"Means nothing to me. What do you want?" Billy asked. He figured this was a bounty hunter. Or it might be kin of someone looking for revenge.

Ares shrugged and Billy pulled his gun and pointed it at him. The man smiled mockingly showing white teeth against his black beard. "Would you just shoot me down?"

Billy smiled himself and fired twice. The slugs hit but Ares didn't fall. Instead he grinned wider.

"That's my boy! Be sure you do that with Kimberly. She's coming for you soon."

"Who's that?" Billy asked. He didn't know why he was talking like this to someone he had just tried to kill. It felt right though.

"Just shoot Garrett. Don't live in the past."

"Who in blazes are you, Mr. Ares? What's it to you?" Billy spoke angrily.

The stranger cocked his head and said, "I gave you back your tongue when Callisto brought you to my temple. You'll dream it soon unless Kimberly plugs you first. "

"I'm dreaming now."

Ares began walking toward Billy, silver spurs jingling. The boy put three more slugs into him with no effect. The handsome dark man looked in his eyes and said seriously, "Call it a dream if you want. Don't let yourself be shot down like a dog." Then he seemed to turn into a blaze of fire and was gone. Billy jumped back. He looked at his gun and saw it was fully loaded. Billy knew he was dreaming but he wished it didn't feel so durned real. Nervously he reholstered his pistol and returned to the ranchhouse.


It was night in Pete Maxwell's ranchhouse. Billy sensed something. He nudged Deluvina. "Go back to your room.."

"Ah, but Billy..." the girl said sleepily.

"Go on now."

She frowned at him. He nudged her again and she got up, grabbed a shawl and walked out obediently. Billy rose and pulled his pants on in the moonlight coming in through the shuttered window and edges of the door. The blonde teenager took a gun from his holster hanging on a chair.

He'd had another dream: Jilly looked older now. She was ironically comparing a gold coin with a marble bust and a silver box with bas relief images. Then she looked at a tapestry suspended between some poles with the same heroic helmeted figure. Stretching behind her was a vast army that Jilly thought was actually pretty accurate. She liked the smoke from scattered camp fires. Jillly was in the tapestry herself. She was smaller than Kimberly but not that much smaller. Weldon looked smaller too which was funny. The tapestry was a gift from the Egyptian court where they showed Pharoh and his courtiers that way. The more important you were the bigger you were. There was the Sword of Ares with Jilly and Weldon looking like her children and everyone else looking like toys. The warlord had been amused and not given it a second thought. Recently she had had it unrolled and displayed. At a sound Jilly saw Kimberly flanked by guards come into the plush huge tent. The warlord sat in her throne and looked around the room with a slight superior smile. Jilly could smell everyone's fear.

Kimberly held a hand out and a soldier put a jewel encrusted cup in it. Jilly glanced at Weldon. He was standing there calmly, his hand resting on the pommel of his broadsword, and his red braids partially obscuring the Celtic knot on his breastplate. He realized Jilly was looking at him and met her eyes. She felt like she was looking down a well. Kimberly wore shimmering Chinese robes, her eyes were heavily made up, and her lips bright red. Her jewelry glittered in the torchlight, reflecting colored points that meandered over bodies like unwelcome fingers. Two Russian princes had sent emissaries to decide if they should pay Kimberly tribute. The four men were watchful.

The warlord took a deep drink and handed the cup away. Then she pointed at a soldier: "Iaptolemus, tell me how much you love me."

Weldon flicked his gray eyes at the emissaries but they kept their faces expressionless. The officer stepped forward. "Great Kimberly, Destroyer of a Thousand Cities and peerless Sword of Ares, the light of your visage obliterates the sun! The deathless gods envy your wisdom and bravery! If my son were here I would cut his heart out to sacrifice to your magnificence!"

Kimberly listened intently then broke out in wide smile. "Well said!" She removed a ring and held it out. The warrior approached and she placed it on his finger. "You're the new commander of the fifth company. Jilly, see to it."

Jilly said, "Crateres commands the fifth. I won't replace him for no reason"

'I'm telling you....that's reason enough." Kimberly spoke in a soft voice that sent chills through everyone present.

"No, it's not," Jilly said clearly. She watched Kimberly rise from her throne.

The warlord approached, her long brocaded robes swinging around her. "You would betray me? You?"

Jilly answered. "I'd be betraying you if I obeyed an order like that."

Kimberly slapped Jilly with a loud crack. "Give me a sword!" she barked and deftly caught a blade tossed her. She said to the girl, "Draw your fucking weapon!"

Jilly shook her head. Kimberly swung at her and she dodged it, swung again and she dodged it. Kimberly kicked at her and Jilly avoided it but a backhanded blow caught her by surprise and she was flat on her back. The blade was descending on her. Jilly could've rolled away but she closed her eyes and waited. When the death blow didn't come she opened her eyes and saw Kimberly had stepped back. One hand covered her eyes and she was holding the magnificent weapon loosely now.

"Kimberly..." Jilly said as she got back to her feet.

The dark woman said in a broken voice, "Why didn't you kill me when I asked you to?" She dropped the sword.

Jilly stepped forward and put her arm around the warlord who began sobbing softly. The girl looked at Weldon and nodded, indicating the emissaries with a jerk of her head.

Jilly heard a panicked Russian voice: "We won't tell what we've seen!"

Weldon's heavily accented voice answered. "Indeed you won't."

Kimberly stopped and looked back at the sounds. "What's that, Jilly?"

"Nothing, Kimberly. Don't worry. Let me and Weldon take care of it."

The warlord nodded and wiped her teary eyes with her sleeve smearing her makeup. She allowed Jilly to continue leading her away, ignoring the cries and yells behind them.

The next day Iaptolemus approached Jilly. She looked up at him.

"I didn't ask for that, Jilly. What was I supposed to do? She'd kill me if I displeased her."

The girl said coldly, "She'd kill me too."

The warrior said, "Only if you let her. But I can't fight her like you."

Jilly picked a pebble up and threw it aimlessly. "It was nothing against you, Iaptolemus. You might do a good job now that I think of it."

The man looked around nervously, and then back at the warlord's lieutenant. "Can't you take the army over? Or Weldon?" He held up a placating hand. "I'm not saying kill her. But she's gonna get us all killed. You know that! You both know that!"

Jilly was studying the man. He wanted her to kill Kimberly of course. He was just hedging his bet by putting it that way. He probably thought she was safer to approach than Weldon. A month before she'd have cut him down for broaching the subject. Now she merely said, "We haven't lost a single battle."

"That's just because we've been lucky," Iaptolemus replied.

"Kimberly's the greatest general alive."

"She used to be."

Jilly said, "Yeah....well, this is her army and it's gonna stay her army."

The man looked frustrated and walked off. The girl watched him. She heard a sound behind her and turned. Kimberly stepped out from behind a tent. She was in her leathers and wearing her shimmering veiled helmet.

"He's smart. You should be too and take the army."

"Are you offering it to me?" Jilly began to feel relief.

Kimberly shook her head and Jilly knew the warlord was smiling behind the chain mail. "You'll have to kill me for it. I killed Fredo. You kill me. That's the way it's done."

"I'll never fight you. I'll never hurt you. I swear it, Kimberly. Never."

Kimberly said. "You're too soft, to me anyway. Weldon kill those Russians to keep 'em quiet?"

"That's right."

Kimberly sighed. "Dante's Inferno here I come."

"What?" Jilly said mystified.

The warlord said tiredly, "Never mind. Well, we're gonna have to raid their cities now. Get your men ready."

"Whatever you say, Kimberly."


Billy went out on the porch holding the gun loosely. The rambling ranch house surrounded an enclosed patio. He scanned the darkness, saw the slight glint of a bottle and knew it was Pat taking a swig. Billy shook his head. Poor Old Pat. He sure had slipped. Billy could shoot him like a fish in a barrel. An image flashed in his mind of a big dark woman. It was long before the Sword of Ares led her army out of Greece and arrogance infected her like syphilis. Holding a shallow bowl, she filled it from a fancy clay pot with pictures of heathen gods and such. She smiled at Jilly.

"How can somebody who rode with Callisto have such a stick up her butt?"

"Callisto didn't drink. She wanted to experience everything. So do I."

"That's the whole point," Kimberly said cynically and drained the bowl of wine. Billy thought of that silent crib.

Billy remembered when Pat started to really hit the bottle. They were cowboys and some beeves were stolen so they went looking for 'em. They'd chased them rustlers into some hills. Pat yelled for 'em to leave the cattle and ride out. Instead they made a fight and Billy and Pat shot 'em without ever getting close. When they looked at the bodies they was all just boys, younger than Billy. One couldn't be more than 12. Pat had stood staring down at the slight corpses and then said something about a few cows not being worth it. Billy shrugged but Pat walked to his saddlebag and took a bottle out. Billy doubted he'd put it down since. Hadn't stopped him from becoming Sheriff of Lincoln though. Helped probably. Made it easier to hunt his friends.

Barefoot, Billy quietly walked down the wooden porch listening. Pat was working his way closer. Somebody sold Old Pat his whereabouts, Billy knew. He'd look into it after he took care of High and Mighty Sheriff Pat Garrett coming to shoot him in his sleep.

The teenager found a nice comfy spot in the shadows at the end of the porch and waited. Finally Pat showed, sneaking up the stairs with his gun in front of him. Billy smiled slightly and raised his pistol. Another image flashed in his mind and he found himself looking up at Kimberly. She seemed much taller and he realized Jilly was younger this time, a small girl not even grown. Kimberly squatted down and looked in her eyes. "You and me are the only two people in the world who loved Callisto. That's why I killed her." He blinked and realized Pat wasn't on the porch anymore. "God Almighty..." he said to himself soundlessly. He looked around, praying Pat hadn't seen him.

Pat Garrett was in the room Pete Maxwell said was Billy's. It was empty. He carefully walked to the bed and felt the covers and they were still warm. The moonlight caught his eyes as he turned and listened. The Kid was out there. Pat wanted a drink but now wasn't the time. Billy was dangerous. Nobody knew that better than Pat Garrett. He helped make him that way. Pat taught the Kid to shoot but it wasn't long before he was better than Pat himself. The Kid never went looking for trouble but it seemed to find him and Billy killed quick as a rattlesnake. There was a passle of dead men nobody knew about but him and Billy: rustlers, Indians, bandits and loudmouths. It didn't mean any more to the boy than swatting a fly. He'd smile at Pat and ask what was troubling him with three dead men at his feet. The dime novels said Billy killed 21 men. Folks laughed at that for being so high. Not Pat. It was low. Before Pat met him Billy wandered in the badlands for two years. Geronimo's Apaches were marauding and every kind of bushwhacking varmint not fit for society was out there...and Billy, a skinny boy who made people smle. He couldn't shoot yet. Billy killed with a knife in those days.

In the Lincoln County War, Billy was on the right side by most folks' reckoning. The Company started it by killing John Tunstall and the massacre at the McSween's was bad by anybody's thinking. But it was the way Billy fought back: organizing the Regulators like his own little army; Lord knew how many they killed out on the range. Then he ambushed Sheriff Brady in broad daylight in Lincoln, shooting him and two deputies down from hiding. The papers called it a cowardly, cold blooded murder. That was when many turned against him. Even those that liked him, and there were many, thought bushwhacking a peace officer in the street was too much; even one like Brady. When he was caught and set to hang he made his famous daring escape, killing his guards, Olinger and Bell. Olinger had it coming, of course, but Bell was well liked. Billy and Bell were known to like one another.

Billy didn't play fast draw games no matter what the dime novels said about him. Pat didn't play games either which was why he wanted to shoot Billy when he was asleep. Awake the Kid would more than likely kill him. If he arrested the Kid, Billy would just escape again like the other times. He liked Billy but there wasn't room anymore for his kind. Pat Garrett was Sheriff of Lincoln now and knew what his job was. Billy was the reason Pat was made Sheriff. They reasoned a man who knew the Kid was the best choice to hunt him. He could also use the $500 reward. Pat changed his mind about now being the right time for a drink. He reached into his pocket and took the bottle out and took a swig to steady his nerves. He hadn't been sleeping well. He kept having these strange dreams.


Fear, rage, and horror were buffeting Billy like a twister. Kaleidoscopic memories wrenched him inside out. A bruised and battered young woman lay dying of a fever as a skinny child sobbed. A big man kicked the body aside, grabbed the girl up and tossed his young daughter to men with shining eyes. "Thanks Detrius..." The man caught a coin. There was screaming everywhere and sounds of battle. Billy saw villagers begging for their lives. A horse reared up, its rider fell with a gaping throat wound and Jilly caught a round killing thing. A blonde woman with wild eyes called, "Good girl, Jilly" as she laid about her with a sword killing soldiers, women and children indiscriminately. Billy heard voices arguing and they were all inside Jilly: a terrified child; a smart leader; a silly young girl; a brutal warrior; and many more. Now Callisto had a screaming handless man staked out on the ground. "Here Jilly...pull the skin off this way..."

The big drunken man was enraged and grabbed him, grabbed was Jilly. Blind terror gripped Billy as he saw the knife and felt the girl's mouth was being pried open.

Jilly ran trying to escape and only found a new battle with fire and yelling and maddened rearing horses. Children surrounded her trustingly. Jilly had led them to safety and little Sammi was hugging her. But the children began to run. Billy looked at small girlish hands covered in blood. Jilly had to prove her loyalty to Callisto. Now she held Sammi's head. Suddenly her father was there and opening his robe up. Jilly screamed and fell holding her hands over her face. "Stop it! Stop it! Leave me alone!" Billy saw the maimed naked man staked on the ground was her father. He made a pathetic croaking moan as Jilly held his tongue up to show him. Callisto laughed but the girl began to shake. Billy felt strong hands pick Jilly up. She opened her eyes.

"Jilly! Jilly, it's not real! You're here with me." It was Kimberly. Jilly looked around and saw there was no battle. Callisto was dead. Her father Detrius was nowhere in sight. She was breathing hard. It was night and she was in the camp, soldiers watching her with fearful expressions in the torchlight. She looked down and saw she held her sword. Kimberly took it out of her hand and tossed it to Weldon. Joxer was looking worriedly at her and Weldon was impassively watching.

"I'm sorry, Kimberly," Jilly said weakly, feeling ashamed. Billy thought she seemed about 14 this time.

The big woman had her arm around her shoulder and hugged her closer. She reached over and gently pushed Jilly's sweaty blonde hair out of her eyes. "It's okay." Jilly realized she was leaning on Kimberly. Without Kimberly she'd just collapse. The warlord looked around at the men. "Show's over."

They walked back to Kimberly's tent, the girl still holding onto her. Inside Kimberly planted the girl down on some furs and removed her boots for her. Then Kimberly sat beside her and put an arm around her again and Jilly leaned against her.

"Can you tell me a story?" Jilly sounded about five. Billy recognized one of the voices from inside her.

Kimberly's eyes were red. "Sure, honey. Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl named Jilly."

"Just like me," the girl said.

"That's right. And Jilly was very sweet and pretty. And not only that she was smart and talented too. In fact she was just about the most talented little girl there had ever been and could do anything she set her mind to. Now a lot of bad things had happened to Jilly. Things that were so bad most people couldn't even imagine them. But Jilly was so smart and brave that they couldn't keep her down."

"She was?"

Kimberly squeezed Jilly's hand. "That's right she was. And she just looked at all the bad things that had happened to her and said 'La De Da. You can't stop me.' And she had friends who loved her and she loved them. Do you know what happened to her?"


"She grew up to be a beautiful princess because that's what she was all along really."

Jilly said seriously, "I don't think she would want to be a princess."

Kimberly smiled, "Oh, really? What would she want to be?"

"She wants to be just like you. That's better than any princess."

Billy looked at the six-shooter in his hand. Pat was inside his room. Billy lightly touched the adobe wall and began approaching the door walking down the porch. Everything seemed ghostly in the moonlight and he felt like time was moving slowly. At the door he stopped. Old Pat was inside listening he knew. Billy pushed the door open. He smiled slightly and pointed the pistol off to the side. "Quien es?" he said softly. Who's there?

Pat Garrett was holding his breath as the slight figure appeared in the doorway. At the familiar voice he fired and the Kid grabbed his stomach and fell.

Feeling empty, Pat walked out on the porch keeping his gun trained on the Kid. Pat felt a chill and looked to his left down the porch. He raised his pistol to point at a bearded man in black that looked like a gunslinger from a Wild West show. The man was staring at Billy and then looked at Pat with blazing furious eyes. He disappeared into thin air and Pat wasn't sure if he had really even seen him. Now Pat squatted beside the slender body though he kept alert for that stranger. Billy was looking at him through slitted eyes, boyish face pale in the moonlight. Pat heard approaching footsteps and scared voices in Spanish.

"Told you I'd never...." The Kid couldn't finish whatever he was saying..

Pat's hands began to shake. He thought of a dream he'd had and reached for his bottle and took a long drink. He didn't want to remember it.

The End