by Joseph Anderson

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

This story contains some violence, sexual references and a little bad language.

Her face was mashed into the pillow and she didn't feel like she'd been to sleep at all. Susan didn't want to hear the clock radio but the alarm finally tortured her up. Before she turned it off she half heard "...12 dead as violence continues in Colombia. A spokesman for the DEA said this actually represented two separate incidents. The mayor and his family were killed for opposing the cartels, but a power struggle is occurring within the drug empires themselves and seven of yesterday's dead were highly placed cartel members. A field DEA agent, who declined to be photographed or recorded stated, 'Graciela is making her move.' When asked to elabo..." After several attempts Susan finally managed to swat the radio off.

The blonde sat up in bed, dejectedly looking at her mangled sheets and covers. The oversize Yale T-shirt she wore had new rips in it too. She got up scratching her head, walking to the kitchen to make tea. This was serious. Her performance would be affected if her sleep didn't improve.

When she arrived at the hospital, the duty nurse took one look at her and said, "Still having those nightmares?"

The doctor nodded her head resignedly. "I don't get it, Ann. I had 'em as a kid then they stopped, and then all of a sudden they started again about a month ago. They give me the creeps."

Ann looked sympathetic, though knowing how much better paid her friend was than her kept the nurse from being too distraught about it. She felt slightly guilty about that--but not much. Not only was the doctor better paid, she was better looking AND smarter AND younger. The nurse had actually seen men walk into walls and trip over things because they were looking at the slender blonde M.D.

She was looking over the charts now, taking the color-coded binders out. They had a kind of a bond. Lots of nurses and doctors could barely stand coming here, let alone specializing in pediatric burn victims. The nurse knew why she was here; she'd been rescued by a firefighter when she was a child. Susan said nothing like that had happened to her though. Something just drew her to the specialty. She didn't understand it anymore than the nightmares.

"How's Janey?" the doctor said, brushing her hair out of her brown eyes as she looked at the chart.

"She seems in less pain with the new dosages. Her family was here. They couldn't look at her."

The doctor nodded, as her eyes skipped down the chart, checking the fluid replacement and the new labs. "Okay, increase the lactated Ringer's to every 3 hours. I want to be able to do an escharotomy as soon as possible. And, I want a Plastic Surgery consult on Billy Lasker. See if Dr. Geller is available." She was making notes in the chart as she was speaking. She methodically went through the other charts, checking up on the residents as she was giving instructions to the nurse. Then she began going from bed to bed, looking at everyone's, including her own, worst fear.

"Oh, Xena...where ARE you? Come out, Xena. Look who I've got." Callisto yanked on the chain and Gabrielle stumbled into view. The blonde warrior reached her hand out to grab the bard's hair and roughly bring her face close to hers. "Xena doesn't seem to be coming. She must not be here. Maybe just the two of us can have some fun though, huh?" A knife was in her hand so fast Gabrielle hadn't seen her draw it. 10

"Callisto, I know there's more in you than this. Reach into yourself. Try to find the child you once....ugh" Gabrielle was cut short as Callisto's fist smashed into her stomach and she doubled over.

The blonde hissed at her, "The child I was died in the fires of Cirra with my mother and sister!" A figure loomed up near her, "Ah, there you are, Xena! I knew if I beat your dog that would bring you out." She leaped back drawing her sword while Xena instantly positioned herself in front of the girl on the ground.

"Are you all right?" Xena asked Gabrielle, never taking her eyes off Callisto who was smiling at her and weaving her sword hypnotically.

"SUSAN, wake up, girl! You're being paged."

"Oh, Jeez. Thanks Ann," she said as she stumbled out of the lounge where she'd been sleeping, trying to clear her mind of the dream. What was going on? It was like she was going nuts or something. In the dreams sometimes she was just watching and sometimes she was Callisto--whoever she was. She was never anybody else. Maybe she should talk to somebody in Psych about it. Psychiatry was garbage though, or that's what she'd always thought: a waste of medical school that could have trained a REAL doctor.

"There you are, Susan," Dr. Wills said as she entered the chief of staff's office. Sanford was there, too, she noticed. She saw there were billing forms and patient notes on the administrator's desk. Some things from her office were there too; she noted puzzled.

"We are having a budgetary crisis here, Susan. You know that."

"What's this about, Dr. Wills?" she said, trying to remain calm.

"We are having to reallocate our resources, Susan. To what brings in revenues. Probably a third of your patients don't have insurance," Dr. Wills said. He looked really upset, she thought. Jack Sanford looked like he was trying to keep from smirking. She started feeling something strange.

"Are you telling me you're closing down the Pediatric Burn Unit?"

Dr. Wills nodded his head; his eyes were red. His granddaughter had been one of her patients. "There are other facilities, Susan. Shriners is actually set up for this."

"That's true, Dr. Wills, but that's an awfully long way, and sometimes timing is important. Will we still be able to take emergencies?"

Jack Sanford spoke up, "Susan, sorry, Dr. Callendar. The Burn Unit won't be here any longer. The space is going to be used for something else."

She looked at his face. "You're closing my Burn Unit so Sanford here can suck fat out of celebrities' asses. Do you still have that jar of Rosanne on your desk, Sanford?"

"Is that any way to talk about one of the great humanitarians of our time?" Sanford said. Dr. Wills coughed and Susan nearly smiled. Sanford was a funny weasel; she'd give him that.

"That's from a locked cabinet in my office. Where did you get it?" she said now, pointing. Dr. Wills looked with surprise at Sanford.

"Paying for your patient's care yourself and then falsifying the records is a no-no, Susan. You know that. As your colleague I had to act to protect the hospital and you from yourself." The smirk kept trying to break out. Susan's vision started to blur.

She felt hands holding her roughly. "What, what?" Susan said. She looked around. She was still in the chief of staff's office but there were security guards all around her. One to each arm and leg. The office was a shambles. Dr. Wills was standing in the corner his face white as a sheet, talking to a policeman. There was a gurney and Sanford was on it with some ER staff on him. He was moaning. Looked like both his arms were broken in a couple of places, along with his nose. There were huge bruises on his face. "Let go of me! What happened?" The security men were looking oddly at her but didn't release her. The uniformed policeman who had been talking to Dr. Wills came over to her.

"Dr. Callendar. Let me ask you first if you have ever taken PCP? Are you on some sort of medication?" He wasn't standing too close to her.

"No, of course not! Dr. Wills, what's going on?"

The heavy-set older man came over. "Don't you remember anything, Susan?"

"No, what happened?"

The policeman answered, "You just about killed that man is what happened, Dr. Callendar."

Dr. Wills said to the policeman, "I think it is unlikely Dr. Sanford will be pressing charges, officer."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that, sir. Look at him."

"Officer, I know what's important to him. He won't want this getting out. Now, this was just an argument between Dr. Callendar and Dr. Sanford that got a little heated. I don't think you need to waste your time any more here, officer."

The policeman looked disgusted and prepared to leave. Dr. Wills touched his arm and said, "Why don't you have someone from the Policeman's Benevolent Association give me a call, officer." The cop, looking mollified, nodded and left, followed by the gurney with Sanford. Dr. Wills said to the security men, "You can let her go and leave us alone."

"I don't think that's such a good idea, sir," one said.

"No. Thank you, but it's all right. Please leave us alone."

Tentatively the four guards let go of her and backed out of the room. "Give a call if you need help, Dr. Wills." He just waved them away and then shut the door behind them. He turned and looked at Susan Callendar. She looked just like she always did, except for having Jack Sanford's blood all over her lab coat.

"Is there anything you want to tell me, Susan?" He said.

"Dr. Wills, I don't know what happened. The last thing I remember was Sanford saying he'd broken into my files for my own good." The burn specialist was in shock. "I've been having strange dreams for about a month but that's all."

The older man looked sharply at her. "What kind of dreams. Are they violent?"

She looked down at the floor and nodded. "Yes."

"Susan, you're unit is being shut down anyway. I'm sorry to say this, but I'm revoking your privileges here until you've undergone a thorough psychiatric evaluation and can convince me to reinstate you. Your patients will be transferred to Shriners."

"Thank you, Dr. Wills. I understand."

"I hope everything works out, Susan. I love my granddaughter very much. She still talks about you."

"Jilly's a sweet girl, sir."

"Susan, Susan, Susan! What am I going to do with you, huh?" The doctor was bent over her sink brushing her teeth. She straightened with a shock, and with the blue toothbrush sticking out of her mouth saw the mocking face looking at her from her mirror. "You're so slow and weak, I let four measly guards hold me. And not only that, but I didn't kill your enemy. Just hurt him a teensy-weensy bit."

"Who are you?" she said. She finally took the toothbrush out of her mouth.

"The greatest honor that could ever happen to you, my sweet noble healer. I'm a healer now. Imagine that. I'll be there when you need me; that's all you need to know."

Suddenly the face in the mirror had returned to her own, the toothpaste dripping down her chin. Like I'm foaming at the mouth, Susan thought.


The breath was coming raggedly for her and she stopped to rest, looking at the lake. Other joggers were passing her, looking condescendingly at her as she bent over, her hands on her knees.

"Susan? Since when did you run?" She looked up at the slender handsome man running in place now in front of her.

"Joxer, shouldn't you be litigating or something?"

"What did you call me?" He stopped running in place.

Confused, Susan said, "Sorry, I don't know. Shouldn't you be at work, Bob?"

"I'm on my lunch break. Have to keep in shape to chase ambulances, you know." He looked at her. "You've worked 12 hour days--minimum--seven days a week since I've known you. What are YOU doing in the park?"

"I've got some time on my hands now. So I thought I'd try to get in better shape."

Robert Samuels, esq., looked at her. A lot of people thought he was ridiculous. He let them think that before he pulverized them in court. He'd known Susan Callendar since college before she went off to Yale Medical and he went to Stanford Law. They weren't friends exactly but felt some kind of connection neither understood. He'd always been funny, doing standup on the side, doing shtick in student films. Susan just studied, and studied, AND studied. "Any kind of legal problems, Susan?" He said perceptively.

She was about to say no then said, "I've lost my privileges, Bob. They told me they were closing the Burn Unit and I blacked out. When I came to I had beaten up the guy who did an end run around me."

"You? You don't swat flies."

"Dr. Jack Sanford is more in the maggot family."

"Oh, Sanford. The guy with Roseanne's ass fat on his desk?"

"That's the one. The Pediatric Burn Unit is being closed because it doesn't pay as well. I guess I just flipped. I've been having these weird dreams, Bob."

"Dreams!" She looked at him. "What kind of dreams?" he said intensely.

She looked curiously at him and answered, "Well, it's with swords and horses and stuff. I'm this maniac named Callisto trying to kill a dominatrix called Xena."

"Is Gabrielle in your dreams?" the lawyer said seriously.

"Yeah, Bob. She's Xena's friend."

"What about Joxer?" he said now. She looked at him.

"Joxer hasn't been in my dreams, but I've heard him mentioned." She stopped. "It's you. You're Joxer like I'm Callisto." Her heart was beating fast. They both walked to sit down on a bench.

The lawyer said, "In my dreams, I'm this idiot named Joxer. I've got a crush on Gabrielle, and I just follow her and Xena around. Xena's not a dominatrix. She's a hero--like Batman or somebody. They all mention Callisto every so often. She's dangerous but it's like Xena has mixed feelings about her. Like she feels guilty or something."

"She should feel guilty. I was a 10-year-old girl and I watched my family burned to death by that bitch!"

Robert Samuels looked in amazement at the woman sitting next to him. She stood up gracefully and stretched, lifting a leg up and pulling it toward her head. She looked annoyed that it wouldn't go as far as she wanted.

"Who are you?" he said. He tried to remember what he'd learned in a case involving a multiple personality.

"Oh, Joxer, you are so tiresome. And you keep coming back. I don't get it. Why should an unimportant little nobody like you keep being reborn with me and Xena? Okay, you're a LOT better in bed than me or Xena or anybody thought--but still? You're a nobody. Nothing personal."

"Of course not, " Bob said, fascinated. A sensuality he'd never have thought Susan Callendar capable of in a million years just seemed emanate from the relaxed blonde figure looking down at him. She reached up and mussed her hair, mangling Susan's boring perm. He'd never seen such a sexy woman.

"Welllll, you like that, huh? You still Aphrodite's favorite?" She reached quickly into his sweat pants. "Yup. I'll be seeing YOU sometime this time around, you can bet on that. Nobody even suspected that in that first life. Wonder if Xena likes boys this time; I like carpet too but why limit yourself, huh, Joxer?"

Susan found herself standing over Bob Samuels with her hand holding something BIG inside his sweatpants. "CHRIST!" She leaped back. She looked at him then began running away back to her apartment.

The psychiatrist had looked at her knowingly. Susan hated that. She knew that she knew that she wasn't telling everything. Probably she even knew that she knew that she knew. She admitted to the dreams and the two blackouts--even admitting she came to with her hand in someone's pants--but she neglected to mention the auditory and visual hallucinations. She would eventually Susan supposed. She was just too ashamed and afraid she'd never be able to practice again. Her work had been her entire life. She thought of Jacqueline DuPre, that great cellist who developed multiple sclerosis when she was in her late 20s. Just like me, she thought.

"I am NOT some disease. If I weren't inside you I'd kill you for thinking such insulting thoughts about me!" Relatively calmly this time, Susan got up from her couch and walked to the mirror on the wall, and, as expected the OTHER was there. Angry this time. Her face was pale and her brown eyes were wide and scary looking. Susan saw her hair was different, kind of a wild thing with braids.

"Yes, you are a disease--hopefully just a chemical imbalance. I pray to god there's a psychotropic that can help me," she answered despondently, realizing she was sinking deeper into her psychosis. She wondered if she had really even spoken to Bob Samuels.

"Which god? Apollo? He's the god of medicine but we've always been with Ares or Athena since I'm a warrior. Have you talked to Apollo? I hear he's pretty nice for a god. Don't cross him though; Marsyas learned that the hard way." Her manner had changed to one of interest.

"What happened to him?" Susan asked automatically.

"He challenged Apollo to a contest, his pipes against Apollo's lyre. He lost and Apollo had him flayed alive. I have to admit I like Apollo's style there"

Susan continued, "Well, actually I was thinking more of the father of Jesus but it's just a figure of speech. I don't really believe in god."

The figure in the mirror snorted in derision. "Well, sweet healer, that's an interesting view. Picking the right one to follow is a puzzler because there's so much overlap in province--not to mention the pantheons of the barbarians. But to just not believe at all; maybe you are crazy." The face disappeared.

"That would certainly be my diagnosis," the blonde doctor said to herself. The face reappeared in the mirror.

"NOW STOP THAT! You are wasting time and energy feeling like this. You need to start eating better and getting more exercise, first of all. We have to get ready."

"Ready for what?"

"Xena!" the face said with intensity and disappeared again.

"Great....Xena," Susan said sadly.


The 24-Hour Nautilus wasn't as bad as she'd supposed it would be. Eating better and exercising WAS GOOD advice. That could help all kinds of mental disorders such as Callisto was. Susan finally had started thinking of her by that name. She'd had another blackout in the gym but when she came to nothing bad had happened. She just saw people looking at her admiringly. She looked down at the treadmill and saw she had run 20 miles. Her arms were sore too and when she passed the room with the exercise mats several people gave her a thumbs up sign. She could barely move she was so sore.

Her biggest shock came in the locker room where she saw in the mirror what she was wearing. Instead of the baggy Yale shorts and sweatshirt she had come in, she was wearing a red and yellow thong-style leotard, cut low in front, with a bare midriff. She hadn't noticed it she was so exhausted. She remembered they sold stuff like that here. The perspiration made the garment all but invisible and she instinctively covered her breasts and crotch even though she was alone.

"Oh, is healerpoo shy? is she a shybear?" In the full-length mirror Callisto was looking at her. She was stark naked and also sweaty, and just stretched and disappeared. Shaking, Susan stripped, took a shower and quickly made her way home. She took a cab because she didn't trust herself to drive anymore. She'd have to get a bicycle.

Back in her apartment she looked at the pictures on her desk. She wished her mother were still alive. She'd died of cancer when Susan was 20. After their divorce she had no idea where her dad was. She remembered him vaguely as a nice guy. He and her mom argued all the time though. Susan looked at her bankbook. She was okay. Thankfully she'd barely spent a fraction of her earnings. She'd been too busy working. The tears began running down her face as she realized she would probably never be able to treat patients again.

"STOP THAT! Stop it right now!"

Susan jumped. She stood and slowly walked to the mirror and there was Callisto, furious. "Crying is WEAK! It's DANGEROUS! Did I cry when Xena burned my family? NO! I swore I'd make her suffer! And I did, too. Even if I never killed her in that first life, I managed to put her through Tartarus. SO I WON! Understand? WE ALWAYS WIN! All that matters is destroying our enemies, making them PAY! Even if we die we win because of the pain we've inflicted. Our own suffering is meaningless if we make our enemies suffer. Don't worry; you can be a healer again. I won't interfere with that. You just have to get used to the idea of having me around. I guarantee you there are going to be times when you're glad I'm here. Admit it, you liked what I did to your enemy. All right, I shouldn't have done it there in your lord's presence but caught him alone somewhere. Being impulsive is my downfall--it's killed me over and over. But Xena will be coming SOON and we have to be ready for her! I killed her in her last life and she'll be looking for revenge, so you had better be prepared."

"Who is she?"

"Xena is a sanctimonious hypocrite who reformed after committing the worst crimes imaginable and then thought her victims should just forget what she had done. She still reforms about half the time. The irritating little blonde is usually with her, whether she reforms or not. Sometimes I catch her before she reforms, sometimes after. Just like me, she will be inhabiting someone. In some lives we never make ourselves known. In others, like now, one or both of has to reveal ourselves. It'll be easier for you, healer, if she hasn't reformed. Then you'll be able to feel justified. It doesn't really matter though. All that matters is the play: Xena killing me or me killing Xena. Life after life, century after century, for twenty-five hundred years. Have a nice day!" The mad beautiful face disappeared.

"Oh man!" Susan said, and walked into her bedroom and just fell face down on her unmade bed.

In the early morning light she was jogging as usual. People weren't looking at her condescendingly anymore--she'd been starting to pass the regulars. Now the only other jogger she saw was running out of sight on the other side of the lake. As she passed a clump of trees a rough black hand grabbed her and pulled her in. She tried to struggle but was held tightly and a knife was in front of her face. The big man had a ski mask on and she could feel the bulge in his pants grinding against her.

"Don't make a sound, bitch!" he whispered savagely, bringing the knife close to her eyes. Susan heard a voice in her head "See Shybear! I told you you'd be glad I was here." Her vision began blurring.

"Oh GOD, OH GOD!" She said as she came out of the blackout. This time she found herself kneeling at the lake washing her hands and something she was holding. Susan recognized the knife and dropped it.

"Good idea. We should just leave it here. The water will take care of fingerprints--I remember that from my last life." Callisto's face was looking up out of the water, smiling easily. "Still think I'm a disease, healer?"

"If someone is hurt I have to help him," Susan said resolutely. The face looked disbelieving then disgusted.

"You're worse than Hercules! Fine, he's right where you saw him last." Susan rose and turned, seeing she was only a few yards from the clump of trees. She approached it and looked in. If she hadn't been to medical school she wasn't sure how she would have reacted. As it was she simply checked his pulse to make sure he was dead. "I suppose you could search the bushes for everything, not that he'll appreciate it. And the police might have some questions. They're good about self defense but bad about creativity; and I pride myself on my creativity."

"I have to turn myself in," Susan said despairingly, even though something else approved. She'd seen plenty of rape victims when she was a resident.

"Oh, for...!" the voice in her head said. "You're doing no such thing! Now either you get out of here or I will simply take over again.”

Susan started to say, "But..." and found herself blacking out. This time she came to in her apartment and found written on the bathroom mirror FOOL. There was a newspaper propped up beneath the mirror, (how long was she out this time?) and it said the mutilated body found near the lake had been linked via DNA blood evidence to rape murders in three states going back several years.


The psychiatrist looked seriously at her. "Susan, there's no point in you coming here if you don't talk. I can't help you get your privileges back if you don't cooperate."

The burn specialist looked at her, a sleek middle-aged woman, and felt something odd, something wrong. She stood up. "You're right. I'm wasting your time. If I want to resume seeing you, I'll call you." She simply left. The psychiatrist could see at a glance how much more toned she was.

After the door closed she waited a moment and walked to her desk and picked up the phone, punching a number in quickly. "She suspects something...I don't know Don't threaten me! I'm doing all I can! I don't know if Callisto is speaking to her or not." She hung the phone up sweating suddenly and sat down.

Susan rubbed the powder on her hands and nervously looked at the bars in front of her. She leapt and caught the lower bar and was smoothly swinging up. She released and nearly missed the higher bar.

"Easy there, Shybear," the voice in her head said. "Just let it flow." She went into a handstand on the high bar and released one hand and pivoted around to reverse her direction. She swung down and released to catch the lower bar with her waist. She heard chuckling in her head. "All right, I'll take over now." The next thing Susan knew she was standing in front of the uneven parallel bars with her hands raised and she heard clapping. Susan looked around and everyone in the gymnastics center was applauding her. She smiled and lowered her hands. She was dressed in a simple black leotard now. She and Callisto had compromised.

"Fantastic, Susan."

She smiled at her friend. "Hi Bob. This and indoor plumbing are the only things Callisto says we have over Ancient Greece. After she saw a competition on TV she couldn't stop talking about it. Every time she sees another video about gymnastics advertised she puts it on my credit card. I've got a picture of Kerrie Strug on my refrigerator. You have something?" He nodded.

"Bob, have you two--you know?" She hated to ask, but it had been haunting her. Callisto had been telling her with relish about earlier incarnations of Bob.

The lawyer looked at her. "Susan that would be rape. There are laws about that kind of thing."

"I'm sorry, Bob. I know you wouldn't. Have you heard from Joxer yet?"

Bob stretched. He was wearing orange shorts and a T-shirt with Beavis and Butthead on it. "No. But I've got some stuff to show you." He picked his briefcase up--looked kind of strange with what he was wearing--and led the beautiful blonde woman over to a bench along the wall. He took two books out that had page marks in them. He opened the first one, Women at War. "Take a look at that."

"Jesus, Bob!" Susan said as she looked at a detail of a painting. There she was, her face a mask of fury with a sword in her hand raised over her head.

"This is from Renaissance Italy, Susan. It's a condottieri--that's a mercenary captain--named Giulietta Mellesstini. She served Cesare Borgia until she turned on him and he killed her. Now look at this." He found another bookmark. This was a black and white photograph identified as Spain 1937. In it she saw a tall brunette wearing a beret standing in front of an artillery piece. There was a smaller blonde figure with her.

"Xena and Gabrielle," Susan said disbelievingly.

"Not exactly," Bob said. "It's an Australian war correspondent named Robin Gallagher and her photographer, Gail Franks, who was American. This is from the Spanish Civil War. She was fighting more than she was reporting. She organized her own unofficial unit against the Fascists because she said the Republicans were being used by the communists. Being a correspondent was just a cover for her. Apparently it was an open secret Gail Franks actually wrote everything Robin Gallagher posted. Gallagher had a past in the European underworld though it's not clear exactly what she had done. Charges tended to be dropped when witnesses disappeared. Now brace yourself, Susan." He closed the first book and picked up the other, Implementing the Final Solution. It only had one bookmark.

"Oh God!' Susan exclaimed. The doctor saw a picture of herself in a black uniform with two emaciated bodies of a man and a child at her feet and Callisto's mad smile on her face.

"This is Major or technically SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Karla Graffen, recipient of the Iron Cross First Class. Like Susan Gallagher she had a shadowy past in the same milieu. Against her wishes she was transferred from a Waffen SS unit to Belsen after being badly wounded on the Russian Front. She was the only German woman allowed in combat--apparently having saved Reich Marshal Goering's life in the ‘30s sometime. The SS-Sturmbannfuhrer distinguished herself in her new post." Susan looked at the corpse on the right.

"Bob, that's you."

"That's sure what it looks like," he said quietly. "I'm still trying to identify him but the records aren't very good. He might be a Belgian actor named Armand Stein. Major Graffen was shot under mysterious circumstances. Coincidentally, Robin Gallagher, who again was a ‘correspondent’, was in the near vicinity behind German lines. Her friend Gail Franks disappeared at the same time. Robin Gallagher committed suicide a few months later as soon as Germany surrendered."

"Callisto told me she killed Xena in her last life."

The lawyer looked at her. "This was world war II. There could be a generation between then and now."





Susan who was lying on her couch did not go to the mirror but simply answered, "Yes?"

"Xena has been every bit as bad and I have been every bit as good in different lives. You just happened to see that one. In the 30 Years War Xena was Marguerite de Senbol. She made hats out of Huguenots and I was smuggling people out. Gabrielle was her seamstress. It all just goes around and around."

"Whatever you say, Callisto."

"Do you believe me? You can check it out. I can give you more names and dates than you want."

"Yes, I believe you."

"I'll talk to you later, Shybear."

"Okay, Callisto."


Bob Samuels opened his eyes, looking at the mirrors on the ceiling of his bedroom. He was soaked with sweat. What would he say to Susan when he saw her? Could he ever look at her the same again? She had the same face, the same voice, the same smile. Probably he wouldn't mention the dream to her; at least not yet. Maybe in a few years.

Karla looked at him from behind her desk. The lamp next to her had a shade with a tattoo of a phoenix on it. She had sent for him when she saw his name on the list of new arrivals. Armand stood there in those rags they gave him. He was barefoot and hadn't eaten in two days. Armand doubted that would matter; he wouldn't be alive that long. She was just staring at him without speaking, a riding crop held lightly bent between her two hands. How could someone so beautiful be like Karla? She stood and came around her desk and smiled.

"Armand, what has it been, 11, 12 years?"

"Hello Karla, about that."

"Have you missed me?" she said lightly.

There was nothing he could say. She was going to kill him no matter what he answered. She would twist anything he said into an insult: her own safety demanded he die. Maybe he could goad her into killing him fast.

"Of course, I missed you, Karla. You and I and Robin had some good times." He watched the muscles start fluttering in her cheek. "I remember it all clearly, how could I forget? A beautiful girl like you, the perfect Aryan, and Robin--not blonde but blue-eyed and fine genetic material. And there I was, with both of you, just a Jew from the stree...Ahhh!" He fell as the riding crop slashed across his face, and the fingers of his right hand snapped as the glossy boot came down on them.

"Listen to me, JEW! That never happened. It's nothing but a lie made up by your stinking rat brain. Do you understand me? Do you?" the boot came down on his crushed hand again.

"Ah, Karla," Armand gasped, "in the old days you liked me and Robin to use the riding crop....AHHHHH!!" He vaguely saw his own teeth flying before he lost consciousness. When he awoke he was still on the floor of her office and Karla was leaning against the edge of her desk, her arms crossed.

"Awake, Armand? You're crafty like all of your kind. You want to die fast. Well, I'm going to give that to you. For the old days. And I don't want you telling your lies to anyone. But I don't want to kill you alone, so I will let you pick who will die with you--one of those who arrived with you. If you pick one, only you two will die. If you refuse, they will all die. So who is it to be, Armand? Here." She tossed a sheet of paper at him. "Choose who will die, Jew."

He hadn't given her the satisfaction she wanted. Armand closed his eyes and pointed and that was that. Outside her office though in the dirt, the young girl he'd picked--Armand didn't know her name--cried and begged, so Karla was happy. There was a soldier with a camera and Karla called him over. She pulled her Luger and said something he didn't understand. "Until we meet again, Joxer."


Bob Samuels looked at his friend. "Are you sure this is a good idea, Susan?" They were in a large sporting goods store in the gun and knife department.

"No," she answered truthfully. "But it's something I have to do. It'll be okay. It's not like I'm hearing voices or anything," she said the last ironically. In her head she heard, "Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"

The old woman looked despairingly at the picture. The brunette looked irritated to be caught this way and the blonde had a chirpy smile. It was such a waste, such a waste. You'd think the pain would go away but it hadn't after 50 years. Robin had rescued her in Spain when the train she was on was strafed by Fascists. She had just attached herself to her.

"Why did you believe her?" she said. She grabbed Armand and had him snap the picture of Robin drinking her coffee and her standing behind her friend, her hands on Robin's shoulders. The picture was just like she remembered them: Robin preoccupied with whatever the Fascists or Nazis were doing next and her following along trying to be helpful: talking to people, taking pictures, writing the columns they sent back for God knows what reason. Everyone knew Robin could barely write her name. She could remember Karla Graffen smiling at her as she put her, bound and gagged, on the plane. Gail kept looking at the death's head on her cap.

"Please don't worry, Fraulein Franks. You will live a long, long time, I hope. My friends have instructions to take good care of you. It shouldn't be more than a few months. The end of the war nears. If I kill my old friend, Robin, I will come and release you, and if she kills me, my friends will release you--eventually. I mustn't forget this." The Nazi officer took out a swastika-ornamented dagger and cut a piece of Gail's shirt off and then a lock of her hair. "Have a good journey, Fraulein!" she said laughingly as she closed the plane door and Gail felt it start to move.

It was just as Karla said. In the south of France she was kept a prisoner but fed and not mistreated, until the war was over. Then one day the door was unlocked and her captors were simply gone. When she finally contacted their editor and asked about Robin she couldn't bear what he told her. "We all thought you were dead, Gail. Robin thought you were dead. She killed herself with Graffen's Luger as soon as the war was over."

The old woman would always hear Karla Graffen's laughter as she closed the plane door on her.


Susan could feel someone looking at her, could actually feel it. She'd gotten much more attuned to that kind of thing. She looked around the park and saw an old woman sitting on a bench feeding pigeons. The woman seemed to start when she looked at her and Susan was afraid she would have a heart attack right there. She began walking in her direction and the old woman looked like she wanted to run away but couldn't manage to even get her walker in position by the time the young woman reached her.

"Mam, are you all right? I'm a doctor. I saw you looking at me but now I'm just worried about you."

The tiny old woman peered at her. Susan could see traces of strawberry blonde in her gray hair. Something clicked in her.

The old woman spoke, "I'm so sorry. You remind me of someone I knew long ago. Someone I have very strong feelings about. I'm all right. Thank you."

"Mam, are you Gail Franks?"

Panic appeared in the old blue eyes. "Who are you? No one has called me that in 50 years. I changed it after the war. How do you know it?"

Susan answered, sorry now she had spoken since she saw how upset the old woman was. "My name is Susan Callendar. I saw your picture in a book a few days ago. You were with Robin Gallagher."

In her head she heard Callisto's voice, "She doesn't know anything. Karla was the only one who knew our history in that life. Gabrielle and the others remained hidden."

"What book?" the old woman said suspiciously.

“Women at War by Jasper Pendrake.”

The old woman snorted. "That drivel. Have you read it?"

"No mam, not yet. A friend showed it to me."

"Well, if you want a laugh read his preface where he talks about being an ambulance driver--like everyone won't recognize Hemingway's life. Ernie just laughed it off. That little bastard was a dishwasher who used to rob bodies. I found him going through my pockets once because he thought I was dead. I'm the one who gave him that nose. After the war I told him if he kept lying that he was friends with Robin, I'd remove whatever vestigial male parts he had. He knew I meant it too."

The old woman was excited and angry as she talked, stamping her walker for emphasis. Susan found herself smiling. The old woman peered at her. "You were looking at the picture of that mercenary, I bet. You're her spitting image. I'm the one who told Jasper about her. But am I thanked in his book? NO! I'll tell you something else. He couldn't leave me out since he wanted to write about Robin but he spelled my name wrong. ON PURPOSE!"

The old woman paused, seemingly exhausted. "Since you know you look like her, do you know who else you look like?" She seemed sad.

Susan thought she should lie but instead said, "Yes, Karla Graffen."

The little old woman calmly asked, "Are you related to her?"

"No, Miss Franks. I just look like her."

"It's all right if you are. You aren't responsible for ancient history like that."

"Thank you, mam, but I'm not related. Mam, can I ask you why you changed your name?"

The little old woman smiled, "You can ask but I can't tell you. I don't know. It was like something just made me do it."

The old lady slowly began inching away using her walker. "This has been a very interesting conversation, young lady. Goodbye."

"Goodbye, Miss Franks."

Susan resumed her run. She could sense Callisto was excited about something before she spoke. "Do you know what this means? It means that Xena doesn't have Gabrielle with her NOW. That makes it even more likely she hasn't reformed. This could get fun." The voice in her head sounded like she could hardly wait.

The small plane was high over the ocean. The pilot nodded to the man sitting next to her and he took control as she unbuckled herself and went back to the cabin. She was a tall woman, powerful looking with a dark complexion and black hair. She was dressed in simple but expensive clothes, with gold earrings and a man's Rolex watch the only signs of color on her besides her blue eyes. She stood looking down at the man tied up and lying on the floor of the cabin. Reaching down she removed his gag.

"Graciela! God, please don't hurt me! I didn't do anything. It wasn't me. Sweet Jesus!" He was a middle aged man, pudgy and waspy looking, in a Brooks Brothers suit.

"You are a fool, Barstow. You thought you could steal from me. That your position and friends made you safe. And now you think you can lie your way out of it. You made plenty of profit with me but that wasn't enough for you. Your associates are already disposed of but I wanted something special for you."

She opened the door of the plane. She could smell that Barstow had fouled his pants. He continued begging and crying as she held him out the door for a moment before releasing him, listening to his screams disappear. Her face was expressionless as she closed the door of the plane and returned to the cockpit. "I'm going to take a nap, Manuel. When we refuel wake me up. I'll fly it into Bogota myself." She patted his shoulder and went back to the cabin.

Graciela Marquez-Mendez looked absently around her lush office. Luxury didn't really appeal to her but it was expected. She reached across her desk and picked up the rich leather-bound portfolio and opened it once again. Inside were photographs, details of paintings and sculptures, scholarly articles, photocopies of birth certificates and police records from around the world. All carefully organized. She was looking at a picture of Robin Gallagher and Karla Graffen now. It looked like it was from the late 1920s some time, the two girls holding hands. Underneath was a playbill with Armand Stein and next to that Gail Franks soon before her disappearance after the war. She flipped pages to the end and looked at three pictures: herself as a child, a recent photo of Robert Samuels jogging, and Susan Callendar at her medical school graduation. She wanted to find Gail Franks.


Bob Samuels had a two o'clock that sounded peculiar. A man's voice with a Spanish accent had said his employer wanted a consultation and she would be coming at two o'clock. When he said he already had an appointment the man said that would be cancelled shortly. Sure enough, right after the call his appointment called to cancel--sounding nervous. At the stroke of two his door opened and she walked in. Bob was a litigator so he could keep a poker face no matter how he felt. She spoke to him, a very slight accent apparent.

"Hello Mr. Samuels. I am Graciela Marquez-Mendez. But you know who else I am as I know who else you are."

"I don't know what you are referring to."

She smiled. "A careful lawyer. Much, much different than Joxer if my reading is right. I wonder if you have some of his other attributes though." He blushed. "Well, apparently you do. Callisto must have talked to you. I will have dinner with you later. My driver will pick you up at eight. Study these in the meantime," she tossed a manila envelope on his desk. She had remained standing and now turned and left his office, closing the door quietly behind her. The lawyer was fascinated but also nervous. He knew about the drug cartels and so naturally knew about Graciela Marquez-Mendez. There were no known photographs of her so he hadn't suspected she was Xena.


Susan looked at Bob as she met him outside a cafe for lunch like he had requested. "What happened to you? You look like you've been through a meat grinder."

"That's a pretty good description," he said. He'd drawn blood from Graciela too. He'd never done anything like that but she brought it out in him, daring him. It turned out he had a real knack with all those toys she had on her wall next to her bed. Graciela forced him to defend himself--he thought he might have a loose tooth--but once he started he couldn't stop. When she grabbed the whip and said, "My turn," he tried to get away but couldn't. He could hear her laughing over the whip cracks, bowls of speed, cocaine, and heroin next to the bed like candy.

"I met Xena."

Susan expected Callisto to take her but she didn't so she asked, "Who is she?"

"She's a Colombian drug lord, Susan. You don't have to feel so bad about Karla now. She had nothing on Graciela."

"See, Shybear, I told you," Susan heard in her head.

"How did you meet her, Bob?" Susan asked.

"She came to me. She knows all about everything. She knew about a lot more incarnations of all us. She said she thinks she's identified about a third of them. She says there were probably incarnations in Asia and Africa that she doesn't know anything about."

"That makes sense."

"Yeah. She said I was right about Armand Stein. He was a pretty good actor and a pretty bad resistance fighter. And he went WAY back with both Karla Graffen and Robin Gallagher."

Susan looked at him, detecting something strange in his voice.

"She wants to meet you, Susan. She says she wants to end all of this. She doesn't want to be a puppet is the way she put it."

"She's lying! It's a trap," Callisto said in her head.

"Sounds good to me. How do I meet her?"

"l'll let her know what you said, and she'll find you."

"Okay. Bob, I have a question that's a little off the subject. How can men have sex with someone they don't like, care for, or even know?"

He blushed. "It's kind of a testosterone thing. You're the doctor, Susan."

She giggled like Callisto and said, "I know. I was just giving you a hard time."


There were only a few other people at the indoor shooting range as Susan arrived. She adjusted the ear protection and then smoothly raised the two weapons and began firing. The Glock 9 mm looked like something out of a science fiction movie but it fired perfectly normal ammo. The little .22 Colt was much more traditional. Callisto disapproved of the two-handed grip everyone said she should use, especially for the 9 mm. She said you just had to know how to compensate for the recoil and that you wouldn't always have both hands available. Susan took her word for it. She pressed the button that brought the paper target to her and looked at the tight grouping.

"Very good, I suppose, Shybear." Callisto's voice said inside her.

What do you mean, "you suppose?" Susan thought at her.

"I just don't like these cowardly weapons. There's no getting around using them though. Everything changed with guns. Skill and bravery weren't as important anymore. Pistols are better than rifles anyway. At least you have to be close to use a handgun." Callisto's voice was the saddest the doctor had ever heard it. Then it brightened, "I'm pleased with you. I thought you would be much more resistant to this--perhaps even allowing Xena to kill you rather than defending yourself."

Susan was reloading as she considered what Callisto said. She would have thought that, too. She had even decided to do that. But then she found herself buying the guns and knives, going to the gym, reading Soldier of Fortune, and something in her not only approved, something LOVED it. She found herself imagining Graciela Marquez-Mendez. This evil dangerous woman who probably thought she was a joke. Susan reset the target and emptied both guns at it in a matter of seconds. We'll see who is the joke.

Outside her apartment Susan heard Callisto in her mind. "Listen, Shybear. She's inside. You can hear her. Is your blood racing? It should be."

Will she try to kill me now? Susan thought. She had been practicing getting to the 9 mm in its shoulder holster. The .22 was taped to her thigh and she had a slit in her pants to allow her to reach it.

"No. We never simply kill each other. There's the game, the feints and parries, the mental torture that makes it so exquisite. This is what we live for, Susan."

The doctor's blood was racing--not with fear, with anticipation. Her door was already unlocked and she stepped inside her dark apartment.

"You're Graciela Marquez-Mendez," Susan said to the shadowy figure. All she could make out was the glint of the gun barrel.

"Yes, or perhaps I should say si. You Norteamericanos like your stereotypes do you not?"

"That is beside the point with us though, isn't it?" Susan said. There was something cold in her. It wasn't Callisto. It was her.

The figure stepped out of the shadows and turned a desk lamp on. Susan could clearly see the Uzi now and the tall woman holding it. Her complexion was more olive this time, but that was the only difference from the figure of the photographs or her dreams.

"She is talking to you is she? Then I envy you in a way. Xena does not speak to me anymore. I am not her tool. She can no longer take me if I choose not to allow it. I learned much from her, but she is weak. Crying for her 'Gabrielle', her 'Gabrielle.' When I find Gabrielle I will kill her myself to hear Xena scream. I know what Xena can be but what I have is a cripple, a poor shadow."

Unknown memories flashed in her mind and Susan laughed, a cruelty she didn't know she possessed alive in her. "You have me to thank for that. In my last two lives I made sure to keep Gabrielle safe and sound. So you remain incomplete."

The woman before her seemed to exude rage although she did not show any external sign. "How?"

Susan was suddenly sickened by the personality taking control of her--she remained conscious though: Karla wanted it that way. "I did it. SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Karla Graffen! None of the others had the strength, the will to sacrifice themselves. But I did. Like the Fuhrer I gave my life, my being for the good of all. And now look at you--a pathetic half person, a mongrel no better than a stinking JEW! a mere criminal dealing in narcotics for other racial degenerates like yourself."

Susan felt herself come back in control. She could sense something that allowed it. Inside a battle was taking place. Karla was fighting someone far older and craftier than herself; Karla Graffen was fighting Callisto for control of her soul.


The sky, if that's what it was, seemed a dull metallic orange and the ground a shadowless slate blue. The blonde warrior in her fighting leathers smiled waiting for her opponent who materialized in front of her--her high boots shining, her black uniform crisp and spotless with the Iron Cross proudly worn.

"Callisto, what are you doing? We have Xena! Even if she kills us we win again, but the doctor is too weak to do what must be done."

The blonde warlord laughed. "Oh, it's ‘us’ is it? I think it's just you. You lived your life, outstandingly, but it's over. I won't let you take Shybear."

"You're weak."

Callisto giggled, "I've been called a lot of things but that's not one of them." She dove to the side as the Nazi's Luger was in her hand and firing. It stopped as the pistol went flying and Callisto caught her chakram, which she threw again instantly. Karla Graffen ducked and rushed Callisto, catching her and throwing her to the ground. She found herself flying in the air and landed hard but was instantly on her feet, looking at Callisto who was replacing her chakram at her hip. She feinted then caught Callisto in the head with a kick, but received a foot in her own face a moment later and she fell back. Instead of continuing, the warlord was rolling her head and feeling her jaw. She looked at the German officer with a smile.

"The healer needs some more time alone but I want to be near her, so there's someone else who would like to play with you." Callisto disappeared. Before Karla could follow her she felt a kick in her back. The Nazi stumbled forward and whirled around.

"Dog! You would follow the German Holy Roman Emperor? And deny the natural order of life and death as our Savior the Son of the Blessed Virgin and our Papal Father has decreed?!"

"Schmerz!" Karla Graffen said as she scrambled back to avoid the long sword slicing through the air. The condottieri's teeth were bared. On her legs she wore scarlet tights. She wore a light breastplate. Bright yellow puffed sleeves were slashed to reveal purple satin beneath. She paused to lift the large gold cross she wore and kiss it, and then crossed herself.

"Traitor! Swine! The healer is one of the chosen; a light in our dark path. We all contested as to who should deal with you. I triumphed, through my will and prowess, and my name will resound in our annals: Giulietta Mellesstini. Remember that name, dog!" She leapt at Karla who dodged aside and landed a kick in her side, which made her stumble. Karla saw her Luger and dove for it but was beaten to it by Giulietta who kicked her in the face and picked up the pistol.

"These cowardly weapons were only arriving during my life. Only a Lutheran like you would use one." She stuck it in her belt and suddenly slashed out with her sword. The Nazi had nimbly moved away, however.

Karla drew her dagger and smiled. "So, a representative from the great age of that old whore, Italy. You must be a very fine whore, indeed." She began circling her and the condottieri followed suit, mirror images except for their hair and dress. Suddenly Karla got an ecstatic look and began laughing following by an anguished expression on her face. She cried out "Nein! Nein! Nein!" Giulietta Melesstini was smiling.

Callisto's voice sounded though she was not seen. "Very nice fighting, Karla. You have my weakness, of course: you're impulsive. This isn't real. Did you think you could kill me or Giulietta with your cowardly pistol? It is fun, though. The healer is back in control now and she has the strength to keep us from ever taking her again against her wishes. Maybe in a few thousand years you'll learn some subtlety."

Karla Graffen shrieked with rage and rushed the condottiere who was looking at her sardonically. Giulietta made no move to defend herself and the knife passed through her with no effect. Laughing, the mercenary captain disappeared and the SS-Sturmbannfuhrer was left staring at her officer's dagger in her hand and her Luger on the ground. She looked up at the orange sky and began screaming madly.


Something had told her to go see that young woman who looked like Karla Graffen. She was right in the phone book, Callendar, Susan L., M.D. Gail Franks called a cab and made it out her door just as the driver was losing patience and preparing to leave. He helped her in, putting her walker in the trunk and delivered her to the upscale apartment building she had requested. After helping her out and putting her walker in front of her, the old woman took her purse out and paid the fare, then said, "Here's your tip. Never draw to an inside straight." Then she cackled at the look on his face and gave him a generous tip. He opened the apartment door for her and drove off smiling. She slowly made her way to the elevator and pressed the button for the sixth floor.

They had been staring at each other for minutes. Graciela could see something was happening internally with the woman. She had no desire to kill her at this time. She needed to get to know her so she could torture her. The knock on the door was unexpected. Then the knob slowly turned and it opened, with the old woman tottering into view, her walker unsteadily working forward.

Susan had never seen so many expressions cross a face as she saw on Graciela Marquez-Mendez's. In herself she felt a war raging that might rip her apart. But Susan had decided she would make her own decisions from now on. You merely needed the will--just as Graciela said--just as Karla said--just as Callisto said.

The old woman called out in her weak voice, "Robin! Robin! It's me, Gail!"

Susan saw Graciela raise her Uzi and she heard Karla laughing. The healer grabbed the new throwing knife that she wore down her back and hurled it, "Nein! Nein! Nein!" screaming in her head. The knife impaled Graciela's wrist and the Uzi dropped. The healer saw Graciela throw her a grateful look--though it didn't seem to be Graciela anymore. Holding her wounded arm she went toward the tiny old woman with a walker.




Susan had returned from the gymnastics center and was preparing to go to her new psychiatrist. She had studied the literature thoroughly and knew exactly what to say to convince him of her responsibility and readiness to resume her duties. She felt no guilt at all about lying to him. He was just a psychiatrist; it wasn't like he was a REAL doctor and a colleague. She just had to stay focused on returning to treating patients. That was her life.

Graciela had changed. Bob seemed to have mixed feelings about that though he wouldn't admit it.

"Callisto, it's over for this life. You said we always worked out the pattern, but I'm not going to." Susan was speaking into her bathroom mirror.

The beautiful warlord appeared, with yet another hairstyle. "I know, Shybear. It doesn't always follow the course though it usually does. Occasionally someone like you comes along with Xena after she reforms. It's not something I want to encourage, so I didn't mention it to you."

"You mean you lied to me?"

There was no answer.

The End