by Joseph Anderson

Xena and all elements from the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All other characters belong to me. 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.

Angela looked curiously around the campsite. She felt something but couldn't identify it. She'd learned to trust those kind of feelings, though. Sam was safely in his palace at Malos with his bacchae, so she didn't think it was any kind of danger to him. She was making a circuit of Sam's newest acquisition. Another king had been deposed and Sam asked to take his kingdom. Angela was checking it out before Sam would make an official visit. One ruler had tried assassinating him that way; faking his own overthrow. It had backfired on him though. At the last minute his people had turned on him, confessed everything to Sam and begged him to really take their kingdom. They'd brought the king before him tied up and calm. He was a young guy, actually. Angela thought maybe he felt competitive or something. Until Sam had shown up he was the young dangerous ruler. He knew what Sam would do. Everybody knew what Good Prince Samuel did to his enemies. Since the young man was showing dignity Sam had him impaled so he'd die quickly. Angela objected but Sam had overruled her.

Now she was simply riding around alone trying to get a feel of this land. It seemed pretty standard: everyone excited at the prospect of being one of Good Prince Samuel's subjects and anticipating seeing the impalings that always came as he disposed of criminals in prison and whoever else needed an attitude adjustment.

The tall red haired warrior sensed something behind her and she whirled around with her sword instantly in her hand but didn't see anything.

"Nice reflexes."

She whirled again and this time saw a shadowy figure looking at her from under a tree.

"Who are you? Show yourself." Angela demanded. The shadowy figure stepped more into the light from the campfire but somehow still seemed shadowy. "Xena?" Angela asked, even though the hair wasn't gray like Xena had now.

The shadow spoke, "Who else looks like Xena besides Sam?"

Angela grinned. "Well, well...the Sword of Ares her own bad self. Just like the ghost of Hamlet's father. Are you returned from the dead like Callisto or are you just out on a pass?"

"You've got a smart mouth like I used to have. Somebody'll shut it for you eventually. Might take a while since you're such a natural, but it'll happen sooner or later."

"What about you, Kimberly?" Angela said sweetly.

Kimberly came all the way into the light of the campfire now and closer to Angela. She wasn't wearing her famous veiled helmet but was carrying it. "Ares really did a job on you didn't he? Do you even remember what it was like to not be cruel? In answer to your question, if I was alive, which I'm not, you could defeat me. Jilly could take me and you're about even with her."

Angela said, "Have a seat or do spirits need things like that?"

Kimberly smiled slightly and sat near the fire, holding her hand in it with no obvious effect. "That feels good. There's lots of different ways of being spirits. It just depends on what Hades thinks might be required. Some are barely there, others are nearly human, and there's a range in between. When Gabrielle came to me she was close enough to human that she could eat and feel it when I slapped her. That was Hades' present to me, I think now. He's more thoughtful than people give him credit for."

"But I can't hurt you, I take it?" Angela said, as she sheathed her sword and sat on her bedroll not far from the spirit of Sam's mother. She didn't know what Kimberly was talking about when she mentioned Gabrielle's spirit. She didn't especially care though.

"No, you can't. Hades is letting me talk to you...probably to piss off Ares, but I can't look a gift horse in the mouth. Why do you think I'm here, Angela?"

The freckled woman took a flask from a bag on the ground and drank some of it. She offered it to Kimberly who hesitated then accepted and drank. Angela saw wine seem to just pour onto the ground. She accepted the flask back.

"Thanks," Kimberly said. "I can taste it but I don't have enough ectoplasm going here to contain it."

"Long as it didn't go to waste," Angela said philosophically. "Let's see. Why do I think you're here? You probably want Sam to stop impaling people and drinking blood just like Jilly, Bancher and Xena. They didn't get anywhere with him so now it's your turn. You're mostly here to talk to Sam. I'm just a side bet to play since I'm his girlfriend."

Kimberly shook her head appreciatively, "You remind me of me, Angela. Except I was never a sadist, of course. You wouldn't be either if Ares had handled you a little differently. You're like the old Xena too, I think, from what I've heard. I'm going to see Sam after I leave here."

The red haired warrior just sat there looking at her before speaking. "Sam will be glad to see you. Why'd you leave him like that? Maybe Jilly was grown up but Sam wasn't. Sometimes he cries in his sleep about you."

The spirit's face got red and she stared into the fire. "I went sorta nuts. You're lucky: you don't even have the potential for that the way me and Jilly and Xena do, let alone Callisto. And I'm a drunk which made it worse. Sam is why I think I deserve to be in Tartarus--even more than all the people I killed with my army. They are why I'm there, though. Everybody is trying to move me to the Elysian Fields. I've told 'em not to bother but they're doing it anyway."

Angela handed the flask to her again and Kimberly accepted it. Angela again heard the liquid hit the ground, some of it splashing into the fire and sizzling. She accepted it back, taking a drink herself.

"So let's hear the spiel, Kimberly. About not treating people like things, about how torture is wrong--though you're hardly the one to lecture me. Jilly was an abused child trained by Callisto. And Callisto herself was driven out of her mind by what Xena put her through. Everything you did, you did with your eyes open."

"I never killed people for fun and I only tortured people who I thought deserved it--sadists like you, for example!" Kimberly said angrily.

Angela smiled cruelly. "Well, I'm sure all those states and provinces from Bombay to Kiev to Beijing that suffered a population dip thanks to you would appreciate that. You weren't killing them for fun; just for loot and to show what a great general you were. Unless all of Greece gangs up on Sam there's no way I'll ever come near your numbers. So who are you to advise me, huh?"

Kimberly answered, "I'm in Tartarus, Angela. Is that what you want for yourself? Only you're going to wind up lower down than I am. Just take my word on this; sadism earns you extra points and the longer you keep on the worse it will be. You think Ares will take care of you? Forget it. Jilly is like his daughter but you're just a favorite like me and Xena. Once we're dead he could care less. Remember that."

Angela wasn't going to admit it but what Kimberly said had bothered her. "What about Sam?"

Kimberly said, "He's Bacchus's favorite. I don't know much about Bacchus or his relationship with Hades. The killing Sam is doing he's doing with an innocent heart, cruel as it is, so I don't know what will happen. I know what's in store for you, though. You're just like me."

The shade stood up. "I'll be going now. Oh, Angela, there are some men south of here who plan on ambushing you tomorrow. They aren't local; they're from Empidocles's son. The one who got stepped over so his father could adopt Sam. He wants them to take you here so if they fail you won't suspect he's behind it. He's got their families and is forcing them to do this."

Angela stood. "Thanks, Kimberly."

"Sure." The spirit of the Sword of Ares faded away.


The twelve men were keyed up but trying to sleep, hoping to be ready for Captain Angela the next day. One man was standing guard. Everyone had heard of the woman warrior and how dangerous she was. Her cruelty was also well known and they all prayed to be killed rather than captured by her if they failed. They hated this. They had wanted Prince Samuel to rule them as much as everyone else.

Angela was observing them from a distance. She was thinking about what Kimberly had said. Her first impulse was to capture and torture them or maybe just set them on fire while they slept. She could almost taste it. But Kimberly had told her about them and that they were being forced for a reason. She kept going back and forth in her mind. They were planning on killing her; she was justified in anything she did. They were victims themselves though. This was the first thought of mercy she had had in the three years since Ares had turned her into a warrior. And they were Sam's subjects she realized. It dawned on Angela that as an officer of Prince Samuel her duty was to help them.

She began working closer to the guard. Angela got within a few yards of him by creeping along the ground. Then she launched herself at him from behind covering his mouth with her hand, and silently pulling him away from the camp and his sleeping comrades. She knew all sorts of holds that allowed her to overpower him in spite of his superior strength. When they were well away from camp she took his weapons and finally let him turn around, holding his own sword on him for a moment before she got a look of distaste and drew her own, tossing his aside. The man's face was sweating with fear. Angela looked at him, enjoying it, then stopped herself because she thought she shouldn't feel like that this time.

"Tell me who sent you," she ordered. The man remained silent. That was brave of him, she thought. He looked about 18 and didn't even seem like a warrior. It was a suicide mission sending people like him after her. Not only was Ektocles vicious, he was stupid.

"All right," she continued. "I'll tell you. Empidocles's son Ektocles sent you to kill me." She knew she was right from the expression on his face. But he still didn't speak. Her thumbscrew was on her belt. Angela could imagine how much fun it would be to make him talk. But she couldn't, not now that she had decided her duty was to help him.

"Listen to me. I'm not going to hurt you. I know he has your families. Just tell me where he is and I'll save them for you." His eyes got huge.

"I...I...I can't. He'll kill them!" he said, his voice breaking.

Angela was running out of patience. Since coming to Greece, she hadn't been in a situation like this where she couldn't simply grind what she wanted out of someone. She felt helpless--not as helpless as this man felt, but helpless. "What's your name?" she demanded.

"Canelius," he said after a moment. Then he quickly turned and tried running but found himself on his face and his hands being tied.

Angela just sat on him, frustrated. "Tell me where Ektocles is. I'll wring out of him where your families are and save them. But you have to start talking." He didn't answer. "Goddamit! I'm trying to help you. Tell me where Ektocles is, Canelius." She took the thumbscrew from her belt and held it in front of his face. His breathing got faster. "You know what this is. Just tell me what I want to know." He still didn't answer. Angela stood up and replaced the torture instrument, engraved with Sam's impaled man, on her belt. She didn't know what to do. The man was willing to be tortured to protect his family. Probably they all were. She knew from experience that she would probably be able to get the information; if not from him then from one of them, but only by doing what she had decided she couldn't do.

She reached down and untied him. "Get up. Your sword is over there. Get it and go back to your friends. Tell 'em what I told you. If any of you attack me I'll kill you. So don't. Understand?" He stood up and nodded.

The man carefully walked over and picked his sword up. Suddenly he yelled and rushed her. "Shit!" Angela cursed. She stepped aside and with a quick movement sent his sword spinning up in the air and caught it. He was looking at her, almost crying with fear. "Get outta here! I'm keeping your sword this time, dumbass!"

Canelius looked shocked, then stumbled back before turning and running into the forest the direction they had come from.

"Felt good, didn't it?" Angela turned and saw Kimberly again.

"No. As a matter of fact, it felt stupid," Angela answered as she tossed aside Canelius's blade and sheathed her sword.

"It'll grow on you." Kimberly put her helmet on. "You can find Ektocles and the men's families on his estate outside Palma. I wasn't quite honest with you earlier, Angela. I didn't come to see Sam. I came for you," Kimberly said. Then she walked into the darkness and disappeared.

The End