Part 3

by Joseph Anderson

Chapter 8

Prince Samuel stood up and put his arm around Scully's shoulder in a friendly way. "Keep your hands off her!" Mulder yelled. Fotena picked him up with one hand and began to shake him but stopped when the Prince gestured at her. Trying to clear his head Mulder saw that his partner was just staring with a rapt expression at the tall long haired man. Kush and Laconius were keeping their faces expressionless but Mulder knew they hated this.

"Let's finish that off," the Prince said. "Bring him," he added as he walked through the door into the kitchen, stumbling slightly. Still in Fotena's tight grip Mulder saw a blonde woman who resembled Heather Locklear slumped in a chair. She was pale but breathing and her eyes were half open and glimmering in fear. An IV line with a nozzle at one end was inserted in her right arm. The Prince picked the line up and twisted something and half refilled his golden cup. Then he nodded at the three girls and said, "Go ahead."

Kush and Laconius had followed them in and were standing stiffly. "Hold him," the Prince said to Laconius, and the young man grabbed Mulder again as Fotena and her sisters moved next to the woman, who made a fearful mewing sound. Their eyes were all glowing and they were smiling. Fotena tore the IV line out and sank her teeth into the same spot, as Elvira bit the woman's throat and Clea took her other arm. The Prince was sipping his drink idly. He looked at Mulder with his piercing blue eyes. "She deserves it. I don't kill innocents. Only my enemies or the enemies of society, which is the same thing. Elvira, what did she do?"

The creature looked up at him, her mouth smeared with blood. "Credit card fraud." Then she bit down again, this time almost ripping the throat out, sending blood splattering on the wall and floor.

"There see! And she's Swiss! This isn't even her country but she's committing crimes. I don't want you to get the wrong idea," the Prince said to Mulder. He looked back into Scully's eyes and held his cup to her lips.

"NO!" Mulder yelled before Laconius slapped a hand over his mouth. Scully obediently took a sip and then licked the blood from her lips.

The Prince looked at Kush and said, "You too?"

The big man answered, "I serve you as always, Lord."

"But you don't like it," Prince Samuel said.

"No, I do not," Kush answered calmly. The bacchae began making growling hissing sounds.

The Prince said, "I understand. I'd feel the same if I was anyone else most likely." He caught Mulder's eyes and the agent felt a kind of weakness come over him. Prince Samuel said, "Laconius, make Agent Mulder comfortable. Kush, we need to discuss some things. Wait for me in your study. Leave me and my girls alone for now."

Mulder weakly struggled as he was led out of the kitchen and then up a flight of stairs to a bedrom by the young soldier, who bound Mulder to a bedframe with his own handcuffs. Laconius said, "Don't worry, Agent Mulder. You won't be hurt. We're all on the same side here. As for your partner...the Prince said it was up to her...he won't force her. I don't know what else I can say."

"You bastard! You're lying! This makes you sick! I can see it in your eyes. It's not her choice; he has some kind of power! You and Kush both wanted to stop him! Coward! Coward!" Mulder was almost screaming.

The young soldier looked at him. "You don't understand who Prince Samuel is." He turned and left as Mulder continued yelling curses at him.


"Admiral, a message has arrived for you. It appears to be in code."

Jilly looked at the Japanese sailor speaking to her. He was wearing a headset and sitting at a control panel alongside several other technicians. She was on her aircraft carrier, the former USS Ticonderoga that she had rechristened The Cirra. They were southeast of Hawaii and sending daily squadrons in. Honolulu was a nothing but a giant barbecue pit now, although she had lost a fair portion of her navy to Angela's wolf pack of submarines.

"Play it," Jilly ordered, setting a hand on the back of his chair.

A low voice came over the speaker. "Hey, Sis, can we go to the San Diego Zoo, huh? Please, please? I finished my homework. I'll be in front of the tigers at three PM tomorrow."

Jilly said "Have an F-14 prepared for me. Tell them to expect me in San Diego."


The huge zoo seemed odd being empty. It was full of the dead animals which had starved after everyone who cared for them had been killed or fled. Jilly frowned, regretting that. There was no way around that kind of thing happening. She'd kill a person before an animal any day. She made her way to the tiger pits and saw two figures. She was relieved Sam hadn't come alone. There could be looters around, and he was so clumsy he was well capable of tripping over his own feet and breaking a leg or something.

"Hello, Sam. Agent Scully...I knew something was up with either you or your partner."

The tall long haired man smiled walked up and grabbed Jilly in a hug. The small red haired woman with him hadn't said anything; just standing there in her long black leather coat and dark glasses, her face pale and lips red.

"Oh, Jilly!" Sam said. "It's been too long."

"Longer for you than me, Sam. I just went back and forth to Greece. You actually lived it all. I can't even imagine what that's like," Jilly said, holding her brother's hand. "Sam...I'm not going to call it off. Don't fight me. You might get hurt by accident. At least go somewhere else. You don't have to personally be here. It's too dangerous."

"Jilly, what are you doing? You used to get on my case for impaling a few enemy soldiers. What will this accomplish?" Sam said. He did something he had never done before...he tried to use his charisma on his sister and looked in her eyes. He saw them widen.

She said in a choked voice, " that's what all the fuss is about. If I hadn't changed your diapers, besides the fact I'm a fucking lunatic, it might even work on me."

Her voice had a wild quality to it and Sam broke eye contact. He saw she wasn't immune to him like Angela was but he wasn't going to get this from her. She was crazy and dangerous and wasn't someone to push. She'd never intentionally hurt him but she could lose control. Angela and Kush didn't realize that. They let him come because they believed Jilly was incapable of harming her brother, and Sam had allowed them to think that because he wanted to see her. If Clea, Fotena and Elvira had known what he planned they would have chained him up.

"Sam, this world stinks. I'm gonna make it like in the old days," Jilly said too forcefully.

The Prince looked sadly at her. "No, Sis. First of all, you're going to lose. I have limitless resources and at least half a dozen generals as good as you and others coming up. You can't possibly win. And, second, Jilly, even if you do somehow destroy civilization, what makes you think it'll be like Ancient Greece?"

She said harshly, "Don't underestimate me, Sam! As good as me? I don't think're no judge...your pansy strategists...I'll cut their hearts out myself in the middle of their own armies...that'll take care of that..I'm JILLY! JILLY THE BUTCHER! Do you understand that? Do you?!" Her body was vibrating and starting to weave as she spoke. Sam saw his sister was struggling to control herself. She said in a calmer voice with feigned nonchalance, "When there's nothing but rubble left I'll start rebuilding. We'll have all the old texts, Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Gabrielle...I'll make it happen!"

"You think your mercenaries who followed you for loot and power and the few traumatized survivors you let live are just gonna morph into being Periclean Greeks?" Sam said evenly.

His sister looked uncertain for a second then said, "They will if they know what's good for 'em. If I give 'em a choice of rebuilding the Parthenon or being impaled, what do you think they'll do? You got great results with impaling, why not me?"

"Jilly...oh Jilly..."

His big sister said enthusiastically, "You'll see, Sam! When it's done you'll love it yourself! It'll be just like the old days. Queen Jilly and Good Prince Samuel."

Sam said, "No, Jilly, it won't be like the old days. It'll never happen. I won't let you destroy the world. I won't allow billions of innocent people to die just because you got Langland killed. This won't bring Langland back."

He grunted as a foot planted itself in his gut and some stiffened fingers stopped just before they crushed his throat. He keeled over. Scully pulled her gun and found herself flat on her back with Jilly standing over her, holding her gun and weaving, eyes wide and blank. The blonde took the clip out and just handed the weapon back to her.

Jilly went over and helped Sam up. "Sam...Sam...don't talk like that to me...please. Never talk like that to me." Her voice was stricken and she was pathetically petting his broad chest. She hugged her little brother again, turned and jogged away, her hair worn in a ponytail bouncing behind her.

Scully came over to look with concern at Sam's pale face. "Master, are you all right?"

The Prince was still slightly hunched over but smiled down at her. "I'm all right, Dana." He put an arm around her shoulder and they began making their way to his car.

A shadow began passing over them, like night was falling. Scully looked up and gasped but the Prince glanced skyward without much interest. A huge irregular shape was blocking out the sun. The Prince said a little sharply directed skyward, "I said I was all right." The massive ominous shape began moving off. Sam looked down at Scully's frightened face and said, "Don't worry, they won't hurt you. You are mine just as they are."

As they reached his white limousine he got in the back and Scully slid behind the wheel. She was working out wonderfully. Originally he had been unsure, but his girls requested anything so rarely he certainly wasn't going to deny them this, since Dana was willing. Sam found he liked having her with him during the day. Really, he would like to keep her as she was now...have to do something about her aging, however. Scully wanted to be a bacchae though and Sam hated to disappoint any of his girls. He'd request it of Bacchus one of these days, Sam supposed.


Mulder was lying on his bed with his hands clasped behind his head. He was watching soundbites of the president's address about the cataclysmic weather conditions which had been convulsing the world. It amazed Mulder they could pull it off. The people who said it was a coverup and a war was being fought were ridiculed regularly on all the talk shows. Mulder wondered if guys like Jay Leno and Bill Maher really believed that or if they were on the payroll. And what about all the refugees? Were the people who managed to survive Jilly all being herded into big camps somewhere so they couldn't talk about it?

There was a knock on his door. Mulder tensed and swung his legs off the bed. "Come in," he said. The bedroom door unlocked from the outside and Scully stepped in. "How's life as a vampire slave girl? Everything it's cracked up to be?" Mulder said bitterly.

Scully looked down at herself a moment, her fair skinned body naked under the diaphanous gown. Looking back up she said, "Yeah, it's all that and more, Mulder. I'm happy. Just accept it. I hate to think of you locked up this way after all we've been through."

Mulder stood up and grabbed her shoulders. "All we've been through is why I know you would never accept this if you were in your right mind. We can get away! You aren't one of them yet."

"Mulder," she said, removing his hands from her shoulders, "you just don't understand who Prince Samuel is. That's your loss."

"I'll get you away from that bastard! I swear it, Scully!" he said. It didn't surprise him when she slapped him. She always did.

"Don't speak of Master that way!" she hissed. Mulder thought he detected something new this time. Like there was flicker of yellow in her eyes and something inhuman in her anger.

"Scully..." he started to say and she pushed him and sent him careening back rolling over the bed to bounce off the far wall.

"And it's bacchae...not vampires!" Scully spat. She left slamming the door.

Mulder got up. She had never been that strong before. Maybe her teeth looked a little longer too.


Callisto leapt up on a moving tank and put her binoculars to her eyes. She spotted the figure in a jeep talking into a headset and studying a map.

"Ooooh...Xeeeenaa! I've missed playing with you soooo much!"

She swept her eyes over the approaching forces and found a truck with a red cross on it. A familiar form in green fatigues was walking beside it with a staff and wearing a helmet with a similar red cross. "And you even have your little friend!" With a wide smile Callisto looked around and yelled, "Idi!"

A motorcycle driven by black man in a brown beret went zooming by without slowing down as the blonde leapt into the sidecar. The Nigerian, with ornate scarification covering his face, glanced at her and she said, "Let's go to high ground. I wanna give my old friend a nice welcome!"

The African grunted and said, "Edelman will strike soon."

Callisto grinned and slapped Idi's shoulder. "No time like the present. I don't wanna have that hanging over me now. Know where to find him?"

The scarred face nodded. "Company 3. Right over there."

The blonde giggled and said, "Why, Idi, I do believe you are manipulating me! You don't much like Edelman, do ya?"

The African didn't answer and Callisto laughed again. In a few minutes she said, "There he is...easy there, Idi....NOW!"

Captain Frank Edelman had been watching Callisto as she jumped from the tank into the sidecar. He wasn't sure where she was now though. Plenty of the men would follow him. That maniac Callisto was more interested in fighting than making a profit. Keeping her men alive wasn't a priority with her either, unlike Jilly who at least seemed concerned that her troops weren't slaughtered. Callisto was always in the middle of the fighting but that didn't make 'em like the situations she kept putting 'em in any better. They had an ambush planned for the next night, though if the opportunity came to frag her before that they'd take it. He'd kill Idi too. They'd hated each other ever since they were in Ghana years ago. Each tried to sell the other out and both had had to run when it turned out they were all just pawns in a scheme of Langland.

The men who weren't actively with him would accept Edelman's leadership if he killed Callisto. They didn't particularly care who was in charge, as long as there was money and blood. He heard a loud roaring and was turning as the motorcyle swept by and Callisto leaned out and wrapped a chain around him, snapping a clasp shut. The man yelled in panic and rage as the motorcycle pulled him off his feet.

"Go to the end of the column, Idi. I want everybody to get a good show!" Callisto laughed gleefully. They were just riding slowly as the man tried to get to his feet and was yelling at them. Their victim was frantically clawing for his pistol, but as he reached it Callisto giggled and shot him in the hand. The motorcyle turned spraying dirt and sending Edelman rolling and then accelerated down the line of laughing soldiers. The motorcycle was going sixty miles an hour down the rough road, with Edelman bouncing off rocks and the sides of tanks or jeeps. "Okay," Callisto said. Idi made a screeching turn as he stopped and the form went flying past them to be stopped by the taut chain. Her men were watching as she and Idi went back to look at Edelman.

"Oh, TOO GOOD!" Callisto said. He was still twitching and even moaning, though had left various pieces of himself along the way. She took the bloody chain off and tossed it back in the sidecar for next time and climbed in. Idi spat on what was left of Edelman and started the motorcyle back up and they rode off. A few men thought of putting Edelman out of his misery but decided not to. He wouldn't have for them. So they marched on and left him for whatever scavengers there might be around here.



The commander looked up at the figure standing in the tent door. She gestured to the two officers around her in fatigue uniforms. "Bring me word immediately when the reconnaissance planes land." They saluted and left.

"Xen..." the woman in the doorway started to say again but was cut off by the other.

"Don't call me Xena in front of my officers, Gabrielle; it's General. Remember that. They resent me anyway because I'm a woman and they think I'm a mercenary. I've gotta have their respect. You ought to remember that from the outpost and the Horde...I mean the Pomira." Xena spoke sharply, then softened at the effect she saw her words had. "Gabrielle...this is a twentieth-century army. It's not you and me and Joxer going after two-bit bandits, okay. Discipline is important."

"Okay, Xena."

"Now what is it?"

"Someone to see you," Gabrielle said and a tall long haired figure in a elegant clothes came up beside her.

Xena stood up. She went to the tent and looked out. The men were all staring at him. She inclined her head. Since she had just given Gabrielle that speech about the chain of command, she thought she ought to. Prince Samuel hadn't openly revealed himself but rumors about him were everywhere. Xena could feel the emotion of the army as he stepped into her tent and she glanced out at the men. It had been building. This war wasn't about defeating Jilly so the same old politicians could come back. More and more it was so Good Prince Samuel could rule, although he claimed repeatedly he didn't want it. Before now Xena's command didn't know what he looked like. Now her army would realize she was related to him since they bore so much resemblance to each other. That could help and hinder her. His shine might rub off on her but others would wonder if she was a commander through nepotism. She would suspect that in their position.

The tall handsome man seriously said, "Kush told me you're going into a battle, with high casualties very likely."

Xena nodded. "He wants me to take the western slopes so we can be in position for a push into Manchuria. Callisto's regiment just arrived to reinforce 'em. It'll be bad."

At Callisto's name the man looked down a moment. His father had been a reincarnation of Callisto. She and Jilly were the last two people in the world he wanted to be fighting. Gabrielle squeezed his arm comfortingly. Finally Prince Samuel said, "I came to encourage the men. They did some studies and found that when I did that it improved efficiency from 22 to 34 percent." Then he brightened and said, "Thank you, Dana." A small redhead came into the tent and handed a gold cup to him which he sipped.

Xena studied the short woman in dark glasses with a long black leather coat. Sam noticed her look and said cheerfully. "Ah, my new girl. This is Dana Scully."

"We've met," Xena said frigidly as she looked back at the Prince. Samuel sighed.

"It's her choice. Ask her. Why does everyone assume the worst?" He said in an aggrieved tone. "No one is forced to serve me. I turn people away in fact; all the time. Dana, do you want to go back to your old duties and leave me?"

The small woman shook her head.

Gabrielle said, "'s because when you want something choice becomes a very iffy concept."

Scully grabbed Gabrielle's shirt front and held a gun to her head.

"Dana!" the Prince said sharply and she released Gabrielle and stepped back beside him. Xena hadn't moved, knowing Sam wouldn't let Gabrielle be hurt. The blonde was shaken though. "Wait in the car," Prince Samuel ordered. Scully didn't move. "I'll be all right," he said resignedly.

Finally, the small red head walked off but not until she said to the dark woman, "I'm not Trilby with Svengali."

Xena looked puzzled at the reference then said, "The men will be glad to see you. I'm sure it will mean a lot to 'em. I'll assign you an escort, unless you want me to take you around myself."

Samuel smiled. "An escort is fine. You certainly have better things to do."

"All right, Sam," Xena said. She frowned as he drained the cup and licked the blood from his lips. Gabrielle shuddered.

The tall man smiled at the bard with his white teeth and there was something mocking and cruel in his voice when he said, "Nothing like a taste of home." He caught Xena's blue eyes with his own and she felt like she was falling though was able to quickly stop it. The Prince smiled and turned, and tripping walked toward some soldiers who began to kiss his hands.


Elvira came up behind her new sister and slid her hands under her diaphanous gown to cup her breasts. Scully smiled and turned her face to kiss her. "Ellie," she murmured. Reaching back she found the dark hair between the bacchae's legs and gently inserted a finger, finding her already wet. Clea came up and kissed Scully's white belly.

"What a pretty picture!" The Prince had come in the room. He was wearing a long white robe which had his symbol of an impaled man embroidered in a small tasteful pattern over his heart. Fotena was with him, naked, her long blonde hair cascading over her shoulders much like his dark hair.

Scully looked over at him, "Master.." she said then moaned slightly as Clea's tongue found its mark. Scully's fingers continued their movements around Elvira's clitoris. Sam and Fotena approached them. Scully got on her knees and opened the Prince's robe. She ran her tongue over the head of his rigid penis then took it in her mouth. Clea had repositioned herself and was kissing Scully's breasts and fingering her. Elvira and Fotena were kissing each other but had arms around the Prince and Scully.

Prince Samuel glanced over and said, "See, Agent Mulder. She's not doing anything she doesn't want to. The truth is out there. All you have to do is accept that." He reached down and patted the rhymically moving red hair.

Mulder was tied to a chair and gagged in a corner. He closed his eyes, excited in spite of himself. One or another of the bacchae had masturbated him several times, amused at how embarrassed he was. Mulder opened his eyes and saw Elvira eyeing him. He shook his head but she smiled at him and approached, unzipped his pants and took his hard member out and began rhythmically working her hand. Mulder looked over and saw the Prince, Clea, and Fotena watching with amusement. Scully had a perplexed expression. The Prince tapped her on the nose and she returned to sucking him.


They were in Geneva. Walking beside Master as he spoke with a very old man, an executive with I.G. Farben, Scully didn't like the purposeful way a teenager with a shaved head seemed to be heading their way on the sidewalk. Laconius was near and Scully glanced quickly at him. She could see he was also looking at the teenager and was signaling to other men stationed on the street.

When the boy made a fast movement reaching into his plaid jacket Scully threw herself at Master knocking him down as she drew her Walther PPK and began firing. She heard a grunt behind her and saw her first bullet strike the assassin in the chest. Other bullets were also striking him. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, so Scully began aiming at his head, missing with two shots, then shooting him in left eye and seeing him drop. She whirled around to find Laconius helping Prince Samuel up. Laconius indicated the small old man and said, "He threw himself in front of the Lord Progenitor."

Prince Samuel was frowning and brushing himself off. He squatted down next to the gray haired dead man and put a hand on his bloody chest. The old man kept calling him "Fuhrer" then looked embarrassed and would apologize. Sam stood back up and looked around the street. A squad car came screeching up but the Swiss police froze when they saw Prince Samuel. He said something sadly to them in German. They saluted him.

"Come on Dana, Laconius. We're going to Argentina. I want to speak to his brother," Sam said. As they walked off Dana glanced back and saw one policeman speaking into a car radio as another remained beside the dead executive. They weren't even going to question her apparently.

"Master, your sister wouldn't send an assassin after you, would she?" Scully said. She glanced at Laconius but he was on a cell phone just like Mulder would be.

The Prince said, "No, she wouldn't. But she has a huge organization full of dangerous people and she can't keep track of everything the way Langland did. They want to win and that means killing me. She has plenty of people smart enough to see that. Only Paulie and Callisto are with her from loyalty. I'd be surprised if she had a single lieutenant who didn't have a possible plan to murder her if she wins or sell her out if it seems smart.

"That's awful!" Scully exclaimed.

" is," the Prince agreed.

"Um, Master, what about...?" and she glanced skyward

The Prince smiled ironically. "Interesting question. The Military Caste will probably make the moon look like a garden in comparison to Earth. Then there'll be a lot of soul searching as the Lord Caste I created points out that I wouldn't have wanted that, and the Clerical and Technical Castes will start mulling it over finding subtleties I can't even imagine. Might be good in the long run for 'em. Big moral debates have a good effect on the Slithlocs. They really sink their teeth into that kind of stuff."

"Can't you order them now not to do that?" Scully asked.

"I already have but it probably won't do any good. When the Military Caste gets mad, I mean as pissed off as me getting killed would make 'em, they tend to react predictably. I think it's genetic. They can't help it. Angela will just egg 'em on. She's worse than they are. Kush would argue against it. He's pretty one of a kind for a Lord Military though."

Something else occurred to Scully. "Master, Paul Cerruti protected you as a child as well as Jilly. Why is he with her against you?"

Sam answered, "Paulie doesn't know who I am. He worked for my father and then my sister. He still is. Paulie just does what's he's told."

"What if he did know about you?" Scully asked.

Sam shrugged. "I hope he doesn't find out. I'm afraid he'd have another stroke or something. You're the doctor, Dana. What do you think?"

She remembered talking to Paulie's cardiologist and neurologist. "Master, that's definitely a possibility."

He smiled down at her. "Maybe I'm in the wrong line of work. Who knows? If I'd stayed in school maybe I coulda made something of myself."


Bodies were stacked up in high piles and ash covered the ground. The soldiers who had just taken the camp were holding weapons on the guards who looked frightened, seeing the hatred on the faces of their captors. A jeep entered the camp and stopped. It was driven by a young soldier who, like the big man riding as a passenger, wore a long black leather coat and had rings on all of his fingers. Both got out and approached the prisoners.

Laconius touched Kush's arm and pointed. The large dark man looked and saw the ovens. Far off the skyline of Paris was barely visible. The big man looked back at the prisoners.

"Who is in command?" Kush said in his deep voice. He glanced over at Laconius. He feared his young caste brother would lose control. Kush could feel his rage.

"I am, I'm Colonel Esterhazy," a balding, distinguished looking man said smoothly.

Kush studied him. "How do you explain this?" he finally asked.

Colonel Esterhazy answered clearly, "I was following orders. You are a soldier yourself. We do what we are told. We do our duty."

Kush was looking at the piles of fresh naked bodies, estimating their numbers as at least a thousand. They had been killed even after it was clear the camp would be taken. "Duty...I see. Following Jilly, who up until a few months ago was nothing but a criminal, is your duty. Abandoning your NATO command because you thought you could gain wealth and power...that is your duty. You like killing, I think. That is your duty."

Colonel Esterhazy didn't respond for a moment then said, "Everyone knows your reputation, General Kush. You aren't like General Gilroy. We are your prisoners."

"So you continued murdering your victims because of that. If you had feared me as you do Angela, you would have ended your butchery sooner."

Colonel Esterhazy's hands were sweating. He repeated, "We are at your mercy, sir."

Kush looked around and said to his men, "Wait outside camp. Shoot any prisoners who attempt to leave before I summon you back."

A Captain said, "Sir?" but Kush didn't respond. The Captain looked curiously at Kush's aide but he nodded that it was all right.

The 72 camp officials and guards were carefully watchful, not sure what was going on. Secrecy was the only thing Colonel Esterhazy could imagine. Kush had to speak to him about something and would put himself at risk rather than chance a security breach. Taking Kush and his aide prisoner or killing them wouldn't accomplish anything. It would help Jilly but Colonel Esterhazy was in this for himself. Harming or taking them prisoner might bring Angela Gilroy down on his head. That wasn't a prospect he relished.

When the men had gone Kush said to Laconius, "I recall you found it most congenial when you accompanied the Lord Progenitor and I to my home."

"Yes, Lord Military. Very much so." The young man said and approached the colonel as all the men watched.

Colonel Esterhazy looked shrewdly at the young soldier who he assumed must be an intelligence officer, "Yes?"

Laconius felt a long tail growing and his face extending forward into a snout. He flicked a scaled claw and broke Esterhazy's jaw, then slashed him open with his talons as he screamed. The other men were also crying out. Kush had resumed his natural Slithloc form and leapt right into the middle of them and was ripping them apart with his claws and impaling them on his tail. Laconius flicked his forked tongue, jumped and came down on top of men who were trying to run. He broke one man's back with a whack of his tail. Another man was hysterically screaming as he stared at the unwinking black eyes under red ridges and the long teeth Laconius now had. He struck at the creature and Laconius snapped his forearm off with a bite and spat it out. Slithlocs weren't beasts. Some didn't even eat meat anymore. Several men ran out the camp gate and were shot down by the waiting eager soldiers.

The two Slithloc Militaries stood amid the carnage, their claws and tails covered with blood. Their uniforms had simply adapted to their new more bulky forms. Twenty bodies surrounded them. Thirty-three men were shot escaping the camp. The remaining 21 men were hiding amid the camp buildings: the barracks, the store sheds, the guard's infirmary, the ovens. Kush and Laconius sniffed the air with their long snouts and hissed. They could smell the men's fear, literally, and with their long tails winding behind and their tongues occasionally flicking they set off in pursuit. This wouldn't take long.


Mulder was looking with controlled hatred at Prince Samuel. They were eating dinner together. The Prince had remained unfailingly polite in spite of Mulder's insults. Samuel had warned him to watch his tongue because he could not always control his girls. Mulder had gradually acquiesced to that. Scully had punched him out several times. The Prince's bacchae felt even stronger and Mulder's life meant nothing to them at all. If he was dead he couldn't rescue Scully, and that was still what he intended to do somehow. Scully was eating with them but had helped bring the food in and the three bacchae did not serve her as they did the Prince and, reluctantly, Mulder. Scully, like the bacchae was in a diaphanous gown and nothing else. That enraged Mulder as much as anything, knowing how she would feel about that if she were in her right mind.

The phone rang and Fotena brought it to the table for the Prince. As he listened the bacchae began making soft moaning sounds and came to stand around him. Scully stood but Elvira looked at her and she sat back down.

The Prince began speaking on the phone, "You're sure, Laconius? Maybe she didn't know...oh...okay...yeah...I'm all right...thank you," He set the phone down and rose.

Samuel looked at Scully and said, "Keep your partner company a bit, Dana." He began walking out of the room. It was hard to tell if he was being supported by the bacchae or they were by him.

"What happened?" Mulder demanded. Clea turned with a hiss ready to rip his throat out but the Prince restrained her. He said, "Jilly has death camps. They captured one in France and found records for others. Ovens, the whole nine yards. China, Brazil, Texas, Idaho...makes sense, I guess. It just surprised me. They've got an instructional video she made for her executioners. They weren't efficient enough for her, apparently." He continued out of the room with the three creatures.

Scully looked blankly at her food a moment then up at Mulder. "Don't say anything, Mulder, Not right now. I mean it. You don't understand who he is. You just don't."

"Scully, I lost my sister. I think maybe I can sympathize," Mulder said quietly. "Even with him."

Chapter 9

Langley had his second to favorite Dungeons-and-Dragons T-shirt on. He pushed his heavy glasses back up on his hooked nose and looked at Byers in his neat suit and tie and Frohike who was wearing overalls. "That's where they are. Scully and Mulder are both in the Washington townhouse."

Byers asked, "So what do you propose we do about it?"

"Go in and rescue both of 'em," Langley said.

"No wonder we're a joke to people," Frohike said contemptuously. "Go play with your joystick, Lord Man Hammer."

Langley sneered, "You're the one talking big to Scully all the time. You just talk?"

The bug eyed short man said angrily, "Being realistic isn't cowardice, you hippy jerkoff!"

Byers ignored them and said, "Everything big we thought we knew was wrong. But the people who were playing us were pawns themselves of Langland. It's out in the open now...we just have to look in the right places. We aren't in the rescue business. Besides Scully doesn't seem like a prisoner and we don't know Mulder is either, assuming he's there. But we do look for answers. The Washington townhouse; that's where the answers are. The encrypted communications, the officials coming and going; it's there. GPS is there."

Frohike smiled, "Much as I feel like a jerk, I don't feel as bad as those DEFCON assholes must. They thought they were the pulling the strings when they were running around in Langland's maze, pressing levers for cheese. GPS doesn't even bother with fooling 'em like Langland. I love how he sent the CEO of Boeing out for bagles and coffee the other day. Classic!" Byers and Langley also smiled.

Langley said, "I like his style too but who is GPS? A silent partner who had to surface when Langland was blown away? It's like he's some kind of cult leader; David Koresh as Pope. GPS also adopted the persona of an ancient ruler like Jilly and Langland did. Talk about role playing! Xena herself and the Sword of Ares are supposedly running around now too. Wow!"

Byers stroked his carefully trimmed beard. "The original Prince Samuel was Queen Jilly's little brother. She doted on him from all accounts."

Frohike said, "I get ya. This maniac thinks she's Jilly the Butcher so to psych her out they manufacture a Good Prince Samuel."

"That could explain Kimberly and Xena too," Langley interjected.

Frohike sarcastically raised his eyebrows. "No. Really? Don't forget Shining Kush and Captain Angela. I bet they all got makeovers just to screw with Jilly's head."

Byers said, "That makes sense but I don't think it's as simple as that. For one thing who's ultimately behind it if not GPS himself? Not who we always thought. Langland was playing them for stooges. And that also doesn't explain how everybody feels. It's not just that lunatic, Jilly, who you'd expect to fall for it. There's over seven-hundred sites dedicated to him online but officially he doesn't exist. Russia and China started cooperating after his visit. Who is he?"

Frohike and Langley shrugged.


It was night. The bell rang and the door was opened by a beautiful blonde woman dressed as a French maid.

"Special delivery for Prince Samuel. Will you sign for it?" Frohike was in a Federal Express uniform. What a babe, he thought eyeing the maid in her tight clothes. He held a small box that contained a Ginsu knife with a microphone in the handle. They only wanted a look around but figured trying to slip the bug in was worth a shot. The knife was indeed ordered for "GPS, Inc." so they had covered themselves.

The maid looked at him then at the box. She signed for it and caught his eyes. She's hot for me, Frohike thought. "Well, hellooo there...I'll bet we met in a previous life," he said.

The blonde smiled at him showing white teeth. With a mild Greek accent she replied, "I have lived only one life."

Frohike said, "Realist, huh? Don't buy that froo-froo reincarnation stuff?"

"I did not say that. Just that I have never been reborn. If I die one day perhaps I will."

Frohike chuckled suavely. "What's your name, honey?"

"Fotena...honey," the maid answered and reached out to touch Frohike's neck lightly with a graceful pale finger. He grinned confidently.

Upstairs Scully was watching the monitor with Elvira and Clealisthsia. "I'm embarrassed to know 'em," Scully moaned. She glanced over at her sisters, seeing how amused they were.

Elvira said, "Dana, are they in league with your partner?"

Scully shook her head. "Mulder would never bring 'em here. They're good with computers and research but that's all. They might have found something and are just fishing now."

Clea said, "Perhaps they hope to 'rescue' you. Like your partner does"

At the word 'rescue' Scully grimaced. She looked worridly at her sisters. "I know coming to our master's residence under false pretences is bad. But they mean well. Do we have to kill them?" She reached out as she spoke and took Elvira's hand.

Elvira said, "Since they are not assassins, perhaps we can spare them." Scully saw from Clea's eyes she disapproved. The bacchae looked at one another, communicating with their minds so that Dana could not hear. Elvira nodded. "If they learn details of how we guard Master they could aid his real enemies, even unintentionally. We cannot allow that."

"Thank you, sisters," Scully said. "I'll see to it." They were all still watching the monitor. Fotena finished toying with the troll-like man and he left with a swagger. She looked up at the surveillance camera and smiled, her eyes glowing and her long canines showing since she no longer had to disguise her nature.


The three men had just finished their Early Bird breakfast specials in the Denny's when a familiar figure walked up.

"Hi fellas. Can I join you?" she asked.

"Agent Scully! By all means!" Frohike said.

"Absolutely!" Langley said.

Byers got up to be gentlemanly and said, "Are you all right?"

Scully smiled ironically at them. She hoped to keep them alive. Her sisters would have killed them as a matter of course if not for her, especially after they examined the package and found the listening device. The three bacchae had been protecting Prince Samuel for thousands of years. They hadn't accomplished that by giving people the benefit of the doubt or second chances.

"I know you came by the townhouse last night. Just forget about it. I'm on assignment. Go looking for Oswald's missing twin or something."

Frohike said, "That hot maid was talking about me, right? I'm gonna have to be less charming."

"You really swept Fotena off her feet all right. She wouldn't mind another taste of you," Scully said drily as Frohike grinned. She looked back at Byers and Langley. "You might get hurt; no, you WILL get hurt if you come back."

"Are you actually threatening us away? Is that what you're doing, Agent Scully?" Byers said.

She tried not to lose her temper, knowing it would have the opposite result of what she wanted. Scully glanced out the diner window at the dim morning light and put her dark glasses on. Scully meant to say something diplomatic but instead dangerously whispered, "That's right. Threatening you is exactly what I'm doing." She caught herself. "I can't explain. You guys helped me and Mulder over and over. Now I'm trying to return the favor. Don't come around again, or try planting any bugs, tapping the phones, or whatever other state-of-the-art nerdery you've got up your sleeves. Stay away from the townhouse and from me or else!" She'd started calmly but by the end was almost hissing.

Langley said, "'Or else', 'or else'! You've been brainwashed, Agent Scully! Don't worry though, we'll save you! And Mulder too!"

"I second that!" Frohike said, hitting the table for emphasis.

Scully felt her anger rising. Since joining her sisters she had been becoming more and more emotional. And she wasn't even a true bacchae yet although she wanted to be. She stood up quickly, grabbed both Frohike and Langley by the collars and pulled them to their feet. Scully bared her teeth, wishing she had long beautiful canines like her sisters. Perhaps soon.

"Listen you pathetic geeks! Stay away or you're gonna find yourselves shishka-bobbed on a flagpole!" She released them with a shove and they fell back into their chairs. She looked at Byers who hadn't moved. "John, you have your head screwed on straight, at least comparatively. I don't need rescuing. Mulder doesn't need rescuing. Walk away before you get hurt. And take them with you!" She turned and left the diner, slamming the door behind her so the glass rattled.

"We have to save her!" Frohike said.

Byers looked after her. "Agreed," he said.

Langley was nodding vigorously. Then he said, "Can you believe how strong she is? Man!"

"What a woman!" Frohike chimed in.


Fox had just stepped out of the shower and was drying himself when he heard a knock on his door and Scully's voice calling, "Mulder, I need to talk."

He called "Hold on!" and came out wrapping a towel around himself. "Come in."

The door unlocked and Scully came in. Mulder was surprised to see she was back in her normal clothes. "Are you...?" he started to say.

"Nothing's changed. I talked to the three stooges. They're snooping around."

Mulder said, "Uh oh. Do you mind turning around so I can put some clothes on?"

Scully made a derisive snorting sound. Mulder turned around himself and pulled shorts and a T-shirt on. Scully's sense of modesty had completely disappeared. She also had a quicker temper now. Along with the way she felt about Prince Samuel, those were the only changes he could see. How could he convince her she was brainwashed when she was as smart as ever? She had become uninhibited. And that's bad because...?

Turning back around he saw she was watching him and smiling. "I never realized what nice buns you have, Mulder. Course when I've seen you naked before you were usually shot or we were both in a vat of demonic slime or something."

"God, Scully, listen to yourself! That's not you talking," Fox said fiercely. At her mocking expression he resignedly said, "What about Byers, Frohike and Langley?"

"They wanna save me. Probably hope to find out all they can, too. Mulder, the only reason they're still alive is I told the others I'd take care of it. I tried to warn'em off but that had about the effect you'd expect." Scully was speaking in frustration. "We don't kill innocents, Mulder. But when they come around like that....well, they stop being innocent as far as my sisters are concerned."

"What about the Prince?" Fox asked.

Scully answered, "We don't bother him with things like this. He's got enough to worry about. You just don't understand who he is, Mulder. What he carries on his makes me wanna cry....poor Master!"

Mulder shook his head in disgust. " you want me to talk to the boys?"

She nodded. "They have to stop, Mulder. If they don't they're dead. It's that simple."

"Scully, it might not be easy for me to convince 'em since I think they're right. You do need rescuing and this just shows how on the money they are." He held his hand up to stop her protest. "But it's out of their league. "

"And yours too, Mulder," she said coldly.

He didn't respond.

"Mulder, Fotena is as good with computers as they are. They try to hack in here and she spots it...she'll just grab Clea and that'll be all she wrote."

Fox curiously said, "What about Elvira?"

Scully said, "Usually she takes the lead. But she's the one who agreed to let 'em live if they walk away now. Fotena and Clealisthsia didn't like it."

"Scully, is there something else going on here?" He said carefully, wondering if this was the opening he needed. A rift among the bacchae.

"God, Mulder! I just said that to make you understand what'll happen if those guys try absolutely anything. Never mind about Elvira. I shouldn't be talking about it to you."


"This is like a family, Mulder. I'm coming in and upsetting what's worked fine up to now, at least as far as Fo and Clea were concerned. They love me and I love them but it's sticky, okay?"

"You love them? Scully, they're three thousand year old vampires!"

"That is such a bigoted, narrow minded thing to say, Mulder, that I'm not even gonna dignify it with a response. And they're bacchae not vampires." She added, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

"Of course not," Mulder agreed, unsure how else to respond.


The large gray cat leapt up onto the new television set and stared balefully at the old woman. Janice Covington took a puff on her cigar and said, "I know, Ares, I know. You think I don't?" She pushed the bushy tail aside and turned the TV on and CNN came up. She sat down watching as the cat's tail swished angrily in front of the screen before the big feline leapt off and disappeared out the cat door. A national security advisor was ridiculing the rumors that were circulating. There were a few hot spots like always but nothing like what hysterical paranoids were claiming. Then she watched the meteorologists discussing the relation of the anomalous weather to global warming. The worst of the storms had moved on from Europe and were in Asia now as he showed on the weather satellite pictures. The Western hemisphere was largely calm, though the storm cleanup would take a long while, and the terrible loss of life would never be forgotten. Janice was making notes as she listened. "Jackass," she muttered as she rose and started pushing colored pins into a large world map on one wall. She studied it. "Manchuria....about goddamn time," she said to herself, then puffed more on her cigar frowning. Jilly was being crushed. Never stood a chance after her brother showed up. She was making a stand in China.

"There is no Good Prince Samuel. Let me state that unequivocally. Send the kids out the room. I'll wait. Okay? There's no tooth fairy or Santa Claus, either. I wish there was."

The old woman turned at the words and looked at the trustworthy news anchor. She smiled cynically. Sam had gotten so big that they couldn't just ignore him anymore. Janice could read the signs. They didn't want to make the same mistake as the German industrialists and aristocrats who thought they could use Hitler. They needed him but feared him. She wondered if any were dumb enough to try and kill him. Probably. Janice had finally gotten a computer at the same time as the television so she could follow events. All those sites dedicated to him and it was all bullshit. Just the fact of their existence though said something. People were electrified by nothing but rumors.

There was one site, however, that seemed to actually have something to it; it wasn't a Good Prince Samuel fan site. It was a grim little thing called The Lone Gunmen, and at first look it seemed just another crank page. She was mentioned herself on it in passing because of her findings about the Sword of Ares. Instead of swooning over some juvenile vision of Samuel as King Arthur, the site succintly gave what was known about the original Queen Jilly and her brother and said straight out a war was being fought and leaders on both sides had modeled themselves after them. The site moved around a lot since they were constantly being booted off by their servers, no doubt with some encouragement from whatever agency handed out licenses. The old woman could imagine what they were like, having known gadflies who stuck their necks out trying to tell people what Franco and Hitler were like, back when they were the darlings of assholes like Henry Ford who bankrolled 'em. Der Furher had a painting of Ford in his office to the very end.

She hadn't liked what she saw when she checked their site today. Janice could see they had actually zeroed in on Sam, mentioning Washington, D.C. and a townhouse, naming people coming and going. The bacchae wouldn't like that either. She could call up the picture in her mind of over a hundred German soldiers impaled on makeshift stakes torn from fences and barns. They had tried to harm their master. Now these guys were trying to harm him; that'd be how his girls looked at it. Once in France during the war Janice had been warned the Gestapo would be coming for her. The man who warned her refused to leave with her and Mel. He'd stay and keep on putting out his paper; said he had a "secret plan." She remembered how annoying Marcel was in a lot of ways. The Gestapo coming for Janice beat him to death beside his own printing press. Janice chewed on her cigar. The old archaeologist picked her phone up. She had to arrange for somebody to take care of Ares.


They glanced nervously at the door when the bell rang then looked at the monitor. It was a small elderly woman wearing a widebrimmed hat and men's clothes.

"She looks familiar," Byers said curiously, then got up and went to answer the door. "Yes," he said politely to the little old lady.

Janice Covington sized him up. He wasn't as eccentric appearing as she had anticipated. The two others fit the bill though. "You guys the Lone Gunmen?"

"Who wants to know?" Frohike said trying to be cagey.

"Oh brother," Janice said and took out a cigar and lit it. She squinted up at Byers. "I'm Janice Covington."

Byers said, "Of course! I recognize you from the book jacket. I read Journey to Amphipolis in college. Come in! Please!" He backed up and she looked ironic and followed him in. The other two had stood up, a tall guy with long blonde hair and a litte guy with a lined face and a ponytail. Both were dressed ridiculously in her opinion.

She said to the three men. "I'll make this simple. There's someone I owe a lot to. He's dead and gone but you guys are just like him. So helping you is how I'm gonna do something for him."

" are you going to help us?" Byers said.

Janice hoped she wasn't as useless as she had been fifty years before. "You boys have to lay off Prince Samuel. For one thing, he's trying to save the world. For another, you're gonna wind up like hotdogs on a stick if you keep sniffing around. His people play hardball."

Langley said, "Did Scully send you?"

Janice said with surprise. "No. FBI agent? Little redhead?"

"You know that's who," Frohike said sharply. "She said the same thing to us. Even threatened us the same way. Well, no dice! We're gonna tell the world about Prince Samuel when we uncover all there is to know about him! Nobody elected him. He's just some power broker."

Janice waited a moment before answering, wanting to shake sense into them but knowing that wouldn't work. "You should've listened to her. That was good advice."

Byers spoke up. "Thank you for your concern, Dr. Covington. But we will continue our investigation. We can handle ourselves. What is your interest, if I may ask?"

"You can, huh?" Janice said sarcastically. She glanced at Langley and thought I'll bet he can handle himself. She answered, "My interest is trying to save your dumbass lives, like I said. Oh, and as a human being I'm interested in stopping Jilly from destroying civilization. You're helping Jilly by getting in Prince Samuel's way. Who would you prefer? Someone trying to save everybody or someone trying to kill everybody, because that's the choice. Listen, he's nobody to cross, believe me. I've seen what can happen. You don't want to." Janice was trying to not say too much. If she gave them something new and it showed up on their site, that could bring the bacchae. She had half expected to find them skewered on chair legs already.

Byers said reasonably, "We understand what you are saying about the fight against this so-called Jilly the Butcher. It's not like we're stealing the timetable of D-Day for her. But what happens after Jilly's defeat, Dr. Covington? We want the truth about Prince Samuel. We're acting now because after the war it may be too late. For god's sake, according to official sources he's not even real, but he might be ruling us all in a few months. What if he's not so nice once he's won? You know more than we do and you're making our case. You're saying we should be scared. That's exactly why someone should shine a light on him."

Janice chewed her cigar angrily. She couldn't out argue 'em anymore than she could out argue Marcel. Janice actually agreed with almost everything Byers had just said. She'd given some thought to what would come later herself. But mixed in with everything they were right about was their delusion that they could handle what could be coming their way. Just like Marcel thought he could talk his way out with the Gestapo or whatever stupid idea he had. Janice wished Mel were here. She'd have these dopes eating out of her hand by charming and flattering them. Or maybe not. Marcel had practically worshipped Mel like a lot of homosexual men. They loved that Southern Lady stuff. But Mel couldn't get him to run from the Gestapo either.

"You won't accomplish anything if you're dead," she said hoplessly. She had said those same words to Marcel. She could still see him: his frizzy hair and cokebottle glasses and that supercilious expression like he knew something she didn't. She'd waited as long as she could then left, dragging Mel who was crying. She looked back once and seen the long black leather coat of a Gestapo officer and the SS troopers who were kicking in Marcel's door.

Langley said, "You're brainwashed just like Scully. But we'll save you, too, Dr. Covington, when we get to the bottom of this!"

Janice made a disgusted sound. "I tried. 'Brainwashed.' Scully seemed brainwashed? How?"

Byers answered, "She was acting differently. Short tempered, even violent. We've known her for years and Agent Scully is nothing like that. GPS has done something to her."

The old woman was listening closely. "Was this at night when you saw her?"

Langley said, "What difference does that make?"

"No, in the morning. She claimed she was at the townhouse on assignment." Byers said.

Janice thought about that. Scully was trying to keep these schmoes from ending up in the morgue too. That fit from what she'd seen of her. Scully could really be on assignment. Why not? Though if she was acting that differently...and knew enough about Sam to threaten 'em with impaling...there could be more to it.

Frohike smiled and said arrogantly, "Anyway I'm going back cuz I wanna see Fotena. That little lady needs some TLC."

"Who?" Janice said carefully.

"A maid at the townhouse. Hot blonde with a sexy accent," Frohike said with a leer. "She was giving me the eye." He winked at Janice.

They had actually gone there and met at least one of the bacchae, Janice realized. What were they doing still alive?


Fotena had risen from her daily death, taken a shower and brushed her teeth. Now with her hair in curlers and wearing an oversize T-shirt with Betty Boop on it, the blonde bacchae went to one of her computers and began checking the internet for anything of note to Master. She never even bothered looking at the many sites devoted to his worship after an initial examination. Their existence pleased her and her sisters really. It was right and proper for Master to be exalted.

There were other sites, however. Sites produced by evildoers seeking to harm Master. Some mocked him. She and her sisters would allow harmless jibes to go unpunished but occasionally coarse humor was directed at him. Those they sought out for punishment. She and her sisters never drank them, considering such purveyers of filth to be too foul. There were others too who warned against their Master. They were traitors to their own kind. They too were only punished if they became too insulting. Now Fotena checked the site of those men known by her sister Dana and allowed to live against their better judgment. The one she had toyed with had been amusing; he was such a fool but thought he was so clever. Their site called The Lone Gunmen was interesting. Along with ridiculous theories about flying saucers and government conspiracies it gave true information about Master and his sister from the distant past which was of no danger. It did not praise Master as it should but did not denigrate him either. Now as she looked at its newest entries she began to softly growl. Her sister Clea, also wearing curlers but with Van Gogh sunflowers on her T-shirt approached and looked at the monitor as well.

"What is it?" Dana asked. She and Elvira had come in, both naked, looking like they had been interrupted at their sport.

Fotena indicated the monitor and her sisters approached. The townhouse was mentioned, even the neighborhood. It named industrial and political leaders who were seen coming and going. It called Master a power broker who had to be watched and probably had evil intentions when the war was won.

Elvira said, "Dana...."

Scully eyes were blazing and she bared her teeth. "They were warned! Sisters, I'm ashamed! I'll make'em suffer for this wickedness!"

"No need for that, Dana. Killing them is enough," Elvira said. Clea and Fo agreed but understood how Dana felt. She was still young and new in the ways of serving Master. They would be disappointed in her if she were not zealous to avenge such outrages.


Dana checked the load in her Walther PPK and slipped extra clips of ammunition into one pocket and a switchblade in another. Under the long black leather coat she wore a white T-shirt, a black miniskirt, fishnet stockings and boots with stiletto heels. Her red hair was slicked back and had a glossy sheen. At a sound she looked up and saw Mulder. Dana put her dark glasses on.

"Where ya going, Scully? Killing somebody for your lord and master?" He was sarcastic.

She just lifted the gun and aimed at his heart. "You if you ever use that tone about him again, Mulder."

He froze. "Okay," he said and Scully put her gun in the holster she wore under her coat in back. "Scully, I'm gonna go talk to the boys today. I can get 'em to stop."

The pale woman looked at him, reached into a pocket and pressed something. Mulder said, "What?" as two guards appeared and grabbed him.

"Lock him up. Don't hurt him," Dana said and walked toward the front door of the townnhouse, as the guards starting hauling Mulder struggling back to his room.

"Scully! You're an FBI agent! Remember that! They've helped us! They're our friends." He yelled at her from the top of the stairs.

Dana stopped and looked back up at him. "Some things are more important than that. It's your loss that you don't understand that, Mulder. I hope someday you will." She turned and continued out of the townhouse as Mulder was flung into his gilded cage and the door locked after him.


"It's Agent Scully!" Frohike said.

"Cool look! Hold on, Agent!" Langley called to her through the door.

Janice had been looking through some of the back issues of The Lone Gunmen. She looked up as all three of 'em were going to the door to welcome Scully. "No!" She got up as fast as she could manage. She hated being an old lady, hated it, HATED IT! She used to dodge Nazi assassins and now she had to worry about slipping and breaking a hip! Those idiots were about to open the door though they stopped and looked curiously at her.

"What?" Langley said.

Janice had just reached them. She was relieved since she recognized Scully's 'cool look'. Then Byers opened the door.

"Goddamnit!" she said and used all of her strength to push them away and she flattened to the floor. The shots were deafening. Part of her mind thought it sounded like something European. A Walther maybe. Those idiots were scrambling away as Scully came walking in holding the smoking gun and scanning the room.

Janice was afraid she HAD broken a hip. She was trying to get to her old .45 but she couldn't seem to move too good. Then the gun was pointing down at her.

"What are you doing here?" the cold face pale face said to her from behind dark glasses.

Janice was still trying to surreptitiously get to her weapon. Scully reached down and took it, then said. "Do you have osteoporosis?"

The old woman said, "Yeah."

Scully nodded and said, "I'm a doctor. As soon as I finish what I came for I'll take care of you."

"You mean murder your friends!" Janice spat at her.

The Walther PPK came back to aim at Janice's face. "They aren't my friends. They aren't anybody's friends." Scully paused. "You came to warn them away like I tried to. Kindness and concern is wasted on fiends who would harm the Prince of Blood. He's weighed down by cares and trying to save us all, and they repay him like this. My sisters knew what they were. I had to learn for myself."

Byers stood up followed by Frohike and Langley. The neatly dressed man said, "Fiends? How often have we helped you and Mulder?"

Scully didn't answer but smoothly brought the gun up preparing to shoot Byers between the eyes.

"You'll have to kill me too! I'm a witness!" Janice said, through gritted teeth. Her hip hurt like hell.

"Fine. You're aiding the wicked," Scully said.

Janice said, "Maybe I am, maybe I'm not...but I'm under your Master's protection. He ordered your sisters years ago not to harm me. I'm important to his bloodline. Get that, Agent Scully? I'm important to the blood. The blood is the life, Agent Scully. Know what he calls me? Aunt Janice. He was the little boy in the pictures with Kimberly and Jilly that you and your partner saw."

Scully was about to shoot Byers but stopped. The old woman continued in a rush. "You don't have to believe me. Call your sisters. Call your Master."

Frohike made a fast dash for the door and Scully shot him in the shoulder and he fell moaning. She said, "All right."

Byers started to say, "Agent Scully..." but stopped as the gun came back to aim at him, then gestured at Frohike.

She said, "I'll tell you how to take care of him. Don't try anything else."

"Thank you," Janice said from her position on the floor. The cold face came back to look at her but didn't speak. Scully knelt and began examining the old woman's hip, but keeping an eye on the frightened men.


Prince Samuel was reading a report from the cigarette smoking man about political parties jockying for power in Italy. All were making secret overtures to him. He was sitting on a leather couch beside Clea who was leaning against him as she wrote in her journal. Fotena was in her laboratory and Elvira was reading a Tom Clancy novel and sitting near the various phones and computers and televisions linking the townhouse with the outside. A phone rang and she picked it up. Clea set her journal down. Fotena came in. Sam looked up at the activity and what he sensed.

"What is it?" he said.

Elvira said, "Our sister asks to kill Janice Covington."

Sam rose and took the phone. "What's going on, Dana?" He listened for a few minutes, and glanced at his girls. "She said that?.... No, but I still don't want you to hurt her. Put her on......Hello Aunt Janice.... I hear you're not feeling too good. What's that line of bull you were spouting? Well, yeah you are still alive...... What are they to you?.....I'm still alive aren't I? I'd say that's a pretty good argument for my trusting their judgment....Put Dana back on."

The three men were tied up, Frohike also had a bandaged shoulder. They were fearfully watching Scully talking on a cellphone. Then she handed it to the old woman and now Covington had given it back to her and she was speaking again. Finally she punched in new numbers and said for two ambulances to be sent for a shoulder GSW and an elderly patient with a broken hip. Scully put the cellphone back in her pocket, and the gun also disappeared in her clothes.

The redhead took her dark glasses off. "Looks like you were right, Dr. Covington. Though you exaggerated a bit. I'm glad. I didn't wanna shoot you."

"Call me Janice. Like I told Sam, I'm still alive aren't I."

Scully smiled but it disappeared when she looked at the bound men. "If there's a next time, fellas, even she won't be able to save you."

Janice prayed they at least knew to keep their mouths shut now.

Byers said, "This won't stop us. You're brainwashed, agent. We'll save you." Frohike and Langley both looked as horrified as Janice felt.

Scully put her dark glasses back on and went to stand over the neatly dressed man looking defiantly at her. She knelt down and untied him and the others, then waited for the private ambulance crews, who she directed when they arrived.

Chapter 10

Mulder was watching a Jerry Springer show about amputees in rural Alabama. "Come on, dump can do better than that," he mumbled to himself. Julia shouldn't take Lyle back, not after he admitted to having sex with their two sisters, a nephew, and a neighbor's blind dog. Fox wasn't locked in his room for a change since the Prince and Scully were gone. Mulder felt like Boo Radley, the idiot brother kept out of sight so he wouldn't embarrass the family. He wasn't exactly a prisoner. They wanted him to leave but he insisted on staying because of Scully. As long as he was there they were gonna keep him on a leash since they knew he wanted to "rescue" his partner. At a sound Mulder looked curiously up at a boy who came in the living room.

"Hello," Mulder said.

"Hi," the boy said. He had red hair and green eyes that looked incongruous with his almond colored skin. He was carrying a basketball. "Wanna shoot some hoops?"

Mulder said, "Sure," and clicked the TV off. It just made him mad anyway, watching Julia throw herself away on a jerk like Lyle.

There was an indoor court downstairs. They were playing one on one. Mulder realized the boy wasn't as old as he had assumed. He'd thought he was 13 or so but he was just a tall ten if that. He was pretty good but Mulder could still show him a thing or two.

"Karn," they heard and turned.

"Hi, Laconius. Where's my mom and dad?" the boy said brushing his sweaty hair out of his face.

The soldier's right hand was hidden inside the long Gestapo-wear coat. Mulder doubted he wanted to see whatever Laconius was holding.

"Lord Kush and Captain Angela are serving the Lord Progenitor. How did you get here?" the young man said.

"A Lord Military said she'd received orders to bring me. So here I am," the boy said, and bounced the basketball.

"Orders from who?" Laconius said.

The boy shrugged. "I dunno. Lord Caste, I guess."

"Is anyone else here?"

Karn said, "Nope, just me and Mulder. I saw some of Uncle Sam's stuff was around though. Guess there's guards outside but they didn't see me."

Laconius said, "Let me talk to Agent Mulder alone, Karn."

"Ah, Laconius..."

"Go on," he repeated. The boy left and the soldier came walking over to Mulder. He took his hidden hand from his coat and Fox saw a shotgun that had its barrel sawed off and its stock replaced with a custom made pistol grip. He cocked it but didn't aim it. "What were you doing with him?"

"Shooting baskets," Fox answered.

The soldier stared at him then uncocked the weapon and replaced it in his coat. Fox saw he had a special holster sewn into the garment.

"I'm sorry, Agent Mulder. You would never hurt him, I know. For Karn to just arrive surprised me."

Mulder said, "He's being used as a pawn somehow."

Laconius nodded, frowned and glanced skyward. "Whatever it is, it's nothing to do with you and me unless you're a lot more important than I think you are. Nothing personal."

"I thought Captain Angela was Prince Samuel's consort?" Mulder said, remembering the history books.

Laconius looked uncomfortable. "She is."

"But Karn is the child of Kush and Angela?" Mulder said curiously.

"It's complicated and I can't talk about it." Laconius said firmly. Mulder suspected the soldier might not know the whole story himself.

Changing the subject, Mulder said, "Where's Scully?"

Laconius answered, "With the Prince and doing a fine job. Just accept this, Agent Mulder. You can't do anything about it anyway and you aren't accomplishing anything here. There is still much to do in the fight against Queen Jilly. You should be taking part in that."

"Yeah, I guess I don't have a choice."

Laconius smiled slightly. "I know you don't mean that. But don't worry, just say the right things. You aren't stupid enough to try and harm the Prince; and it's not as if your partner would cooperate with any plan you might devise to take her."

Mulder didn't answer. There was nothing to say.

The soldier continued, "If he's so bad why is he protecting you, Agent Mulder? The bacchae would like nothing better than to kill you. Your partner would kill you herself if the Prince told her to."

Mulder replied seriously, "I can see he's not some cartoon monster. He's a complicated guy and considering everything could be a lot worse. But Scully would never have joined him like that of her own will. You know that, Laconius."

The soldier frowned and looked away. Then he said, "There's nothing you can do. There's nothing I can do even if I wanted to, which I don't. You can't understand the weight of responsibility the Lord Progenitor carries, and has carried for...well a long time."

Mulder said angrily, "So that makes it all right for him to just take Scully like he was buying a goldfish?"

Laconius said, "In the big scheme of things, yes. You know I dislike it, Agent Mulder. So does Kush, whose opinion means considerably more than mine. The Lord Progenitor is saving the world from his sister. But nothing comes without a price."

"Scully," Mulder said bitterly.

"Scully," Laconius said.


Scully was looking in the mirror, puzzled. Was Mulder right? she wondered. She didn't feel any different. She had just been working on an article for The Journal of Forensic Hematology, in fact. Blood fascinated her now. She didn't require it but she loved the taste and was learning to distinguish the different varieties. She had witnessed seven killings for blood but hadn't taken part. Scully wanted to but her sisters had prevented her, saying it was not yet time.

Look at how she was dressed: she was practically naked. Why wasn't she embarrassed? Instead she felt overdressed now in anything else. Mulder would be leaving soon. He had finally said he accepted it. They all knew he was lying. She'd be amazed if he didn't keep trying to convince her. As long as he didn't try to harm the Prince or "rescue" her he could do whatever he wanted. If he tried to injure Master she'd kill him herself, no matter what the Lord said.


Scully turned at the low voice and saw Elvira looking at her. Her long black hair almost seemed to shimmer against her pale skin. The beautiful bacchae wore a transparent gown similar to her own, her full breasts white through the sheer fabric. Scully smiled and felt herself falling into her sister's eyes but then Elvira said sharply, "No!" and the sensual descent stopped.

"Yes, Ellie?" Scully answered curiously.

Elvira approached, reached a white hand out and stroked Scully's cheek softly. "Do you understand what you are doing, Dana?"

"Of course," Scully answered clearly.

Elvira looked deep into Scully's blue eyes with her own glowing yellow ones. "It was selfish of us to desire you. Master in his kindness took you. Your friend blames the Prince but he would never have taken you without our urging."

Scully said, "Have I failed him? Or my sisters?"

Elvira shook her head. "No. But when he turned to us for comfort at the news of how far his sister has degenerated, I realized how wrong your presence was. We and Master have been together for millenia. We were created by Bacchus expressly to serve him."

"I love serving Master! I love my sisters! I love you, Ellie!" Scully said.

Elvira said, "You do not know what you love or do not love. How can you hope to withstand Master when nature itself bends to his will? It is our guilt not his. Or, truly, my guilt. I see now my wish that you and I could be as Fotena and Clealisthia are to one another. My sisters saw that and helped me in my selfishness."

Scully smiled sensuously, "Why not?" She took Elvira's hand and kissed the fingers until the bacchae abruptly pulled them away.

"Because you would never choose that, Dana! Because I will not make use of you in such foul fashion! I'm not some filthy god!" Elvira turned and fled the room leaving Scully looking after her.


"Where's Kush?" Angela snapped at the soldier who came to attention as she came sweeping into her Salt Lake City headquarters.

"Visiting the wounded, General Gilroy," the guard said.

Angela muttered to herself, "Oh, brother." She sat at a desk behind a computer terminal and her fingers played over the keys. She had a slight intake of breath as she saw the updated estimation of the death toll and the current position of Jilly's forces worldwide. Angela commanded the armies in North and South America and the Pacific. Kush had Europe and Africa and there was overlap in Asia as Kush was coming from the West and Angela the East. She wished he got the MacArthur and Eisenhower jokes she kept making but he just looked blankly at her.

They would win ultimately. Sam had more troops, resources and even several commanders who were as good or better than Jilly. Personally only she and Kush were on a par with Jilly, but Ahmat, Xena, and Kimberly and at least five admirals and generals were all better strategists. Except it was a tricky situation because Jilly was trying to destroy civilization. So in a way this war was giving her exactly what she wanted, spreading devastation. And if this whole mess wasn't bad enough Callisto had to show up.

Jilly wasn't restraining Callisto from atrocities like the rest of her command, just the opposite. She had let her old mentor form her own regiment and Jilly used them as shock troops. They were different from that elite regiment. Angela had some professional respect for them even though she considered them traitors; that she was disappointed in them was one reason they made her so mad and she always killed any she could catch. These guys with Callisto weren't elite; they were a buncha friggin' homicidal maniacs, Angela thought grimly.

Jilly had literally searched her troops for men with mental disorders and/or bad discipline problems and turned 'em over to Callisto who divided 'em into groups of a hundred and then gone from group to group repeating the same procedure. She looked 'em over and asked who thought they could take her. Six to ten men usually came forward. One at a time she kicked their asses and then had them chained to a couple jeeps and torn in half. After the first man the rest all tried to back down. Callisto smiled sweetly but told 'em them if they didn't fight her she would still chain them to the jeeps. A couple of men always just collapsed and cried as their hands and feet were attached to the bumpers. Callisto didn't have many discipline problems after that.

Callisto was running it like her old army in Greece. Promotions were through duels and Callisto had made it clear that included her. Angela smiled grimly at what Jilly would do if someone did manage to kill Callisto and tried to claim her position. Callisto had told 'em Jilly would welcome 'em with open arms. Right, Angela thought.

"General..." the guard said again. Angela looked up and saw Kush's tall broad shouldered frame enter the room.

"Hey," Angela said.

"My fine brother, Angela. It is good to see you."

Angela looked closely at the big man when she heard his tone. She stood up. "Get lost," she ordered the soldier. The tall red head walked up to the dark man. "What's wrong, Kush?"

"The waste of so much life is a terrible thing. So many of our caste brothers; so many members of other castes." He spoke quietly in his deep oddly accented voice.

Angela sighed and said, "Were you this sensitive when you were commanding a ship for the Slithlocs? I thought the Military Caste, especially you Lord Militaries, were such a buncha bad mothers."

Kush answered. "In those days I only valued the life of my caste brothers. The Lord Progenitor taught us to value all the castes as our own. Now I find myself valuing all life equally. I no longer eat meat, brother."

Angela whistled. "Oh this only you or are other militaries thinking this way? An attitude like that throws a monkey wrench in the old job description, Kush. Wait a minute, did Sam put you up to this? The veggie stuff? He must've. That's hilarious. Really hilarious!"

Kush answered seriously, "No, brother. I am not joking and I am not alone in this. Others of the Military Caste are reassessing their beliefs. Not many but some. Why?'

Angela looked up at him. "Kush, I was a vegetarian. That's what you are now though maybe you don't know the word. When I first met Sam I was this real Green Peace backing, tofu-eating, tree hugger. Ares put Sam in danger so I would have to save him and I never looked back. Ares used me but I loved it. I love to kill, Kush. Probably in a way you never did. But I like it. I love it!"

Kush was listening closely to her. "I would learn more of your beliefs when you were a 'tofu-eating tree hugger.' As for the rest, I know that you are very stimulated by killing, Angela. There have been Lord Militaries who feel the same and have written about it. I will provide their writings to you."

Angela said, "Thanks, Kush. I'd like to read 'em. You ever read 'em yourself?"

"What was required of me. No more. I am much more drawn to native writing."

"Like what?" Angela asked.

"The sonnets of Mr. William Shakespeare, the poetry of Mr. John Keats, Mr. Percy Shelley, and Mr. William Wordsworth," the big man answered. "And, Mr. William Blake, although it makes me question perhaps too much."

Angela looked at him and shook her head. "God, you're a class act." Her voice changed and she said, "Anyway, what are you doing here? I thought you were planning a big offensive to take back Manchuria? That's gonna be some heavy shit going down there. Jilly's really entrenched in China. Home grown warlords have sprung up and thrown in with her. Traitorous scum."

Kush answered, "Yes, it likely will be most hard fought with much loss of life. I have been examining weapon prototypes which may be useful in the terrain. Before I return, I came to speak with you about the Lord Progenitor."

"Sam? What about him?" Angela said warily.

"I fear he is distracted and fatigued and doing something he would not do otherwise. Perhaps you can influence him. He has taken a new bacchae."

"A NEW bacchae? It's just been Sam and his three girls forever. He can't create bacchae. Only Bacchus can." Angela said.

"Perhaps Bacchus will transform Dr. Scully for the Lord Progenitor."

Angela exploded, "Scully! Sam has Agent Scully prancing around barefoot in a see-through nightie?"

Kush nodded.

"She flying, got the teeth and everything? Drinking blood?" Angela said furiously.

"I have only witnessed her drinking blood. That was several weeks ago, however."

Angela said, "He screwing her?"

Kush didn't answer.

"I'll kill him! I'm really gonna kill him!"

Kush said, "Brother..."

Angela said tiredly, "It's just a figure of speech, Kush. What about her partner?"

"He refuses to accept the situation and will not leave. The bacchae would slay him but the Lord Progenitor has forbidden it. Dr. Scully has told him it is her choice but he does not believe it," Kush answered.

Angela said, "Choice...that's a laugh. Like anybody but me can say no to Sam about anything. What a selfish jerk."

"Brother..." Kush began to say.

"I know. It makes you uncomfortable to hear me talk that way. You're right...he wouldn't do that if he wasn't stressed out. I'll go talk to him when I've got some free time. Where are they? The townhouse?"

"Yes," Kush said. "Laconius has been trying to calm Agent Mulder. He angers the bacchae with his quick tongue. The Lord would regret the death."

"Yeah, he would," Angela agreed. She added with resignation, "Even the Emperor of the Universe is a slave to his dick."

Kush answered, "Indeed. I must return to my caste brothers in Manchuria."


"There she is, General," a lieutenant said, pointing as he handed a pair of binoculars to Xena who swung them onto the slight figure. As Xena focused on the blonde hair, Callisto brought a hand up and waved hello. The dark woman clamped her temper down at the flashing smile.

Xena glanced around and said to a sniper, "Soldier, throw me your weapon." As she brought the crosshairs to bear Callisto waved bye-bye and disappeared behind a tank. Xena tossed the sniper rifle back to the soldier.

"You shouldn't let her get under your skin that way. It's unprofessional."

Xena turned to look at the speaker, a powerful looking man with dark curly hair and a heavy mustache. Like herself he was in fatigues and had four stars on his collar.

"Ahmat," she said and nodded her head in greeting. "I know. We have a history though. It's personal for both of us."

The Indian shrugged and smiled as Gabrielle came up and handed cups of tea to both he and Xena. After taking a sip he seriously said, "We have to attack, Xena. I understand how you's going to be a bloodbath. Putting it off will only make it worse."

Gabrielle looked at her friend who didn't betray any emotion.

"I agree, Ahmat. We just weren't in position yet."

Ahmat listened. "All right. I'd have begun before now but I can see it as just a difference of opinion. Within 48 hours, Xena?"

"Within 48 hours, Ahmat," she answered.

Ahmat nodded and walked to his jeep and drove off, returning to his two Divisions which were west of Xena's troops.

"Xena..." Gabrielle started to say.

"It just wasn't the right time to attack yet, Gabrielle," the Warrior Princess said sharply.

"Sure, Xena. Whatever you say," the smaller woman answered.


The "modern" army was preparing for battle around her; the lines of trucks, huge tanks grinding along, flying war engines they called birds and choppers that looked like something straight from Tartarus, and the soldiers who were just like the all the others she had ever met. Under their fatigues, Kevlar body armor and terrible weapons Gabrielle saw they were just the same, just people, mostly young people.

Gabrielle thought back to her previous time in the land of Chin. Xena had gone to kill their emperor to pay her debt to Lao Ma and she had followed and betrayed her to him--supposedly for Xena's own good to prevent her commiting a murder; really because she was jealous of Xena's loyalty to Lao Ma. Eventually she faced the truth. Gabrielle didn't have good memories of Chin and it didn't look like this time was going to be any better. Ahmat and Xena both said it would be a slaughter.

She liked Ahmat. They'd felt an immediate attraction. When this was over...who knows? Gabrielle remembered what Kimberly had said; that if she ever got a taste of a real man it might open her eyes. Gabrielle wasn't as inexperienced as Kimberly seemed to think. She also understood now what Kimberly had been implying about Xena. It wasn't that big a shock. Lots of Greeks went both ways. Gods, Gabrielle had been to the Athens Academy of Performing Bards...those guys! Her friend hadn't actually said anything to confirm or deny it. Xena could have gotten in that fight just because Kimberly stood up to her. Much as she loved her friend, Gabrielle knew Xena thought her way was the only way. Every time. All the time. But Kimberly wasn't even impressed. Talk about provocation, the bard thought wryly.

The bard took her helmet off with its red cross and ran her hand through her recently cut short hair. She looked around at the soldiers, most of 'em young. A lot of 'em would be dead soon, missing hands and feet, arms and legs, blind, mutilated. She turned away. They probably felt bad enough without her looking at them and crying.

Gabrielle walked over to an ambulance, climbed in the back and started checking the supplies. When they told her she couldn't treat the wounded because so much was different, she had simply insisted on being trained in it. The medicine of this time was amazing. They cured plagues! They sewed fingers back on! They could fight infections! They could actually replace hearts! Gabrielle wished Hippocrates could see all of this. She could be trained as a field medic but there was no way Xena could become as skilled in medicine here as she had been in Greece. Her friend said modern weapons were really just fancy swords and spears, chariots and catapults. But modern medicine was so complex and different that Xena couldn't possibly become a doctor, what they called healers here. Gabrielle knew her friend felt badly about that since she valued her healing skills as much or more than her fighting skills.

The small woman was counting the morphine vials when a voice came from the open back door of the ambulance. "Hi, bardy. Long time no see."

Gabrielle nearly dropped the precious medicine. She replaced it then looked at the speaker who was smiling at her, head cocked to one side.

"Hello, Jilly. This is getting to be a habit," the bard said. Jilly had just appeared like that twice before over the years, once to protect Gabrielle in a war zone, and once to kill Xena. The girl had changed her mind about that, thankfully.

Jilly answered, "Yeah. That occurred to me too. Those were the good old days, weren't they, bardy? I'm gonna bring 'em back."

She was dressed like a private. Gabrielle realized in a professional way that coming into the heart of her foe's camp this way was heroic. Something for an epic, really. Funny that there weren't any poems about Jilly's exploits. She'd done more than enough but people just didn't feel that way about her. Jilly the Butcher. It didn't quite have the same ring as Brave Odysseus, Great Kimberly or The Warrior Princess. Jilly did appear in some poems but more as a secondary character; a contrast with her beloved brother or Shining Kush, an example that there were more important things than being good at killing. Funny Jilly called those the good old days now, since she had been hated and feared by everyone but her inner circle. Let alone what Jilly had gone through as a child before Callisto rescued her. Jilly was remembering things pretty selectively, Gabrielle guessed.

"Are you here to kill Xena?"

Jilly shook her head. "She's my family, Gabrielle! How can you ask that? No, I was doing something else and thought I'd drop by and say hello to you and Xena. Wish Mom would lead an army against me, so I could see her too. She never came to see me before and I didn't look her up either. Why do mothers and daughters get like that, huh? Now look at us. Missed our chance."

Gabrielle said, "She told Angela and Kush she wouldn't fight you. They agreed to never send her directly against you."

"Oh, well," Jilly said. "She means well. I mean, it's not like she could beat me or anything. And I sure wouldn't hurt her."

"She's better than you. Not one on one, but as a general. And that's what..." the bard said then stopped as Jilly was right in front of her holding her by the collar, brown eyes wide.

"Better than ME! I don't think so. You're WRONG! Everybody's wrong! Mom, Xena, Ekberg, Powell! I could take 'em all at the same time!"

"No one's arguing about that, Jilly," Gabrielle coughed as a hand tightened around her throat.

"Let her go," Xena's voice came from behind her. Jilly released her and turned.

"Thanks, Xena," Jilly said lightly, "I don't wanna hurt, bardy. I'd feel terrible later." She patted the gasping bard's shoulder affectionately. "Sorry," she said to Gabrielle.

Xena was looking at a bag Jilly wore slung over a shoulder. Gabrielle hadn't noticed it. "Why didn't you mention Ahmat just now? He's better than you are too."

The butcher's eyes were wide and blank. "Not anymore he's not." She opened the bag and emptied its contents on the floor of the ambulance.

"By the gods! By the gods!" Gabrielle exclaimed in horror at Ahmat's severed head.

"Down!" Xena yelled as she pulled her 9 mm and just opened fire in the small space. The bard had dropped but the shooting ended immediately. She got up and went to where Xena was crumpled on the ground. Gabrielle helped her friend to her feet. Jilly was gone.

Xena climbed back into the ambulance and looked down at the head a moment. "If we had attacked when he wanted this wouldn't have happened."

"Xena...." Gabrielle said plaintively, not knowing what else to say. Catching another glimpse of the head she looked away.

Soldiers were coming now, drawn by the shots.

"General...General...there's important.." a messenger was pushing through the men then froze at what he saw in the ambulance.

"You came to tell me about General Ahmat," Xena said.

The man nodded and said, "And something else." Xena looked up at him. "Colonel Callisto took a long-range fighter and is heading east."

Gabrielle saw her friend almost turn to stone. Then Xena ordered, "Have a plane prepared for me." She looked at Gabrielle, "Stay here. If fighting starts stay away from the front. I don't think it will though."

"What's happening? I'm going with you," the bard said, following Xena who was already striding toward a jeep.

The warrior Princess grimaced, "Fine. I know better than to argue with you about it. Callisto has something she wants to do. She had to wait until Jilly was occupied though."

Gabrielle said, "Oh gods!"


Mulder was locked in his room with Karn watching the director's cut of Bladerunner. Sam had studied the man and boy and said it was all right for Karn to spend time with him. The agent heard something and stopped the video.

"Mulder..." the boy started to say but stopped as he held a hand up. There was yelling downstairs and shots.

"Get in the closet, Karn. Keep quiet!" Mulder whispered to him and pushed the boy into the closet and covered him with clothes and closed it. He returned to his bed just as the door to his room opened up. "Jilly?" Mulder said, surprised.

"Guess again. Who are you?" the blonde woman said with a strange smile. She was in a tight fitting black jumpsuit, had a holstered pistol and held a bloody round weapon Fox recognized from the history books.

"Callisto..." Mulder said.

"Why are you locked up?" she demanded suspiciously, her smile disappearing as her mood instantly shifted. Her eyes were scanning the room. They stopped on the closet.

"The Prince enslaved my partner. We're FBI agents. I'm a prisoner because I objected. That bastard!" Mulder said vehemently, wanting to draw the woman's attention away from the closet.

"Oh, you must mean the little redhead. Hate to tell you this, but working for the Lord Progenitor is a promotion." Her voice was mocking. "Not to worry; I'll probably kill her anyway when I do her boss. She'll be out of her misery then."

Mulder realized she was a mortal threat not only to Scully but to the entire fight against Jilly. He jumped for her but she avoided him, and he found himself held from behind with that round blade at his throat. He expected to die but she just giggled and gave him a hard push. "You're cute. Let's do lunch sometime."

She left closing the door and Mulder heard it lock automatically. After a moment listening, he got Karn out of the closet. The boy was tense but calm. Even though Mulder had already done it a thousand times he began searching for a way out of the room. He was sure Callisto had killed the guards and now was just going to wait for Prince Samuel and Scully.


It was late afternoon and Sam with Scully was arriving back at his Washington townhouse. The small woman looked around. Where were his guards? She considered going back the way they had just come but that would leave them exposed to fire from the windows if there was something going on. Master was watching her. He was letting her make the decisions. This was her job.

Scully drew her gun and carefully opened the door. When she saw the blood on the floor and walls she moved to push the Prince back but they both were slammed from behind and stumbled inside as the front door slammed shut in back of them.

"Well, well, well. You are just as cute as a button, Red. Your friend upstairs doesn't approve of your career choice though. I told him I'd help him out."

Scully spun toward the speaker and her gun flew from her hand. A blonde woman in black leather was smiling at her as she held a hand up and caught a flying metal ring. Scully ran at the woman and found herself on her back gasping for breath. The woman was standing over her with her right foot on Scully's chest.

"You're not a's day and you aren't strong enough...but you got something sorta bacchish about ya. What's up with that, huh?"

"Jilly?" Scully gasped out.

The Prince came to stand on the other side of Scully. "Don't hurt her, Callisto. You came for me." Callisto hadn't found Karn. She'd be gloating if she had. The child of Kush and Angela would be valuable, if for no other reason than to inflict pain on his parents by killing him. That'd be plenty for Callisto. Mulder had distracted her it sounded like.

Scully tried to push the booted foot off her but it was immovable and kept her pinned. Callisto, smiling, rested her elbows on her bent knee and looked at the Prince.

"Prince Samuel...GOOD Prince Samuel...Lord Progenitor...what else are you...Defender of the Faith, Fire From Heaven, Dragon of the Sea and Sky?" she said.

Sam answered, "Those and too many others to list. Jilly didn't send you, I know that."

"Yeah, that's true. My little friend is too soft. Always has been. But, ya know what? I'm not. Figured I'd do you and anybody else who seemed tasty." Callisto was just lazily spinning the chakram on her finger as she spoke. Scully tried struggling free again and this time the boot heel came down in her solar plexus and she groaned in pain.

Prince Samuel said, "What about Cal?"

Callisto stepped away from Scully and snarled. "That wasn't me! I have nothing to do with a reincarnation!"

"Jilly's a reincarnation herself," Sam said evenly.

"That's different. She's just like she always was. Ares saw to that. Cal was a completely different person...I'm not Cal. You are NOTHING to me!" Her eyes had gotten wide.

Scully crawled quickly away and was watching the woman clinically. Callisto looked like she might be close to a seizure. It reminded Scully of Jilly except Callisto seemed even more volatile.

"Cal had your memories. You didn't know that? I guess not. When he got angry you would come out in him. He only got mad when somebody was screwing with his kids though; with me or Jilly." Sam was speaking calmly.

"It wasn't ME!" Callisto screeched and hit him across the face with a backhand blow that dropped him.

The door burst open. The blonde turned, her smile transforming her face. "Oh, Xeeeenaa!" Callisto crooned.

The warrior Princess, wearing fatigues, said, "Get away from him, Callisto."

"Spare the rod and spoil the child, Xena. This is none of your business," Callisto said petulantly. Then she rolled her eyes as Gabrielle appeared in the doorway.

"I'm making it my business," Xena growled as she walked up to stand directly in front of her old enemy. The blonde made a mocking frown. With a burst of action, Xena caught Callisto with a kick that sent her reeling back though the blonde didn't fall and threw her chakram which Xena barely avoided. Gabrielle pulled Sam away.

Scully had managed to retrieve her gun and opened fire. Callisto caught her chakram and leapt avoiding the first bullets but one grazed her thigh. Xena pulled a gun and also began shooting.

"Not you too! Guns are for cowards!" Callisto screamed. Making sounds of incoherent frustration and rage the blonde disappeared up the stairs. They could hear breaking glass and the sound of a motorcycle speeding away.

Sam and Gabrielle approached. Scully came over to him. Xena continued carefully listening.

"Nice timing," the Prince commented to the big woman, then said to Scully, "See if Karn and Agent Mulder are all right, Dana." The redhead nodded and ran up the stairs.

"Thanks," Xena answered. "Who?" she said and jerked her head in the direction Scully had headed.

"Mulder is a security agent. Karn is Angela's and Kush's son."

Xena and Gabrielle both grimaced, understanding what could have happened.

The strawberry blonde looked at Sam. "What will Jilly do when she finds out?"

Sam tiredly ran his hand through his hair. "I dunno, Gabrielle. She'd kill anybody else. But Callisto...I just have no idea."

Xena looked thoughtful.


Callisto scratched her bandaged thigh then looked up as the slight figure stepped inside her tent. "Jilly, what's up?"

Queen Jilly stared at her, then sarcastically drawled, "What's UP is you tried to kill my brother. That's what's UP!"

Callisto yawned and said, "Yeah, but I blew it. When will I learn to keep my mouth shut and just kill somebody? Xena arrived in the nick of time, like always. At least she didn't drop a ton of rocks on me for a change."

"This is no fuckin' joke, Callisto! I oughta kill you." Jilly said dangerously.

Callisto grinned. "Moi? You'd kill ME? Me who saved you as a little girl? Me who taught you to fight? Me who came and saved you AGAIN when you were gonna be blown to Tartarus by that F-14 Ahmat sent after you?"

"Promise me you won't do that again," Jilly demanded.

Callisto made a dismissive hand gesture. "He has to die. I wouldn't have believed it, but you actually might pull it off without Prince Samuel around. With him you don't stand a chance. You know I'm right if you think about it. "

Jilly stepped quickly forward and grabbed Callisto by her collar. She tried to struggle and Jilly sent her flying back to crash onto her cot. Callisto was instantly up and snarling. Jilly coolly waited then with a kick dropped Callisto where she stood. She said to the crumpled form, "No, what I know is you being dead if you try anything like that again. You won't kill him and then tell me it's a done deal. I'll take you out before that."

Callisto coughed and got up, eyeing the Queen. She'd had no idea Jilly was that much better than she was.

Jilly continued, "Gods, Callisto! I love you but Sam is my little brother. I RAISED him!"

Callisto studied her then coldly said, "He was right. You aren't really Jilly. You're nothing but a reincarnation. A weakling copy of my little friend. MY JILLY would never turn on me. She died trying to avenge me."

Jilly said, "Weakling, huh? I've killed a billion people and I'm a pale imitation?"

"That's right...because you aren't fighting to win. The real Jilly would. She'd do whatever it took," Callisto rejoined furiously.

Jilly paused and said, " may be right. Remember Creone? Your Jilly showed what she was made of there."

Callisto looked surprised at the sudden turn the conversation had taken. "Creone? Oh, that was a village I raided when Jilly was with me. I remember....she tried to help the village kids escape. When I caught her, she killed 'em to get back on my good side. Yeah..Yeah! That's MY Jilly!"

The Queen shook her head. "You would think that was good. Listen, Callisto, you don't know the whole story. The head I brought you: That's Sam."

"Sam?" Callisto said.

"Prince Samuel is the reincarnation of the little boy I beheaded. The Furies arranged I could really taste what I had done. You never had to do that, I guess. Well, it's a real eye opener."

Callisto was listening then said disgustedly. "What a sentimental fool! Your victims all have brothers and sisters and parents and children. If you start something you have to do whatever it takes. My Jilly knew that. You never will." She turned away. "I'm leaving. I came to help Jilly, but you're just a stranger with her face."

Jilly bit her lower lip then asked, "Where will you go?"

Callisto wouldn't look at her. "I'll find something. Maybe I'll just go back to Tartarus. Hades and Ares got me out; Ares because he likes fighting and Hades because he likes death. They figured I'd be a good side investment. I feel like a fool. But at least I'm not some hypocritical little fake!"


The Cirra had just passed not far from Madagascar and was running at half speed as they performed repairs from that last engagement. They'd taken a pounding before sinking the three battleships. In her comand room, Jilly was breathing hard as she stared up at the large electronic world map. The last of her forces in Western Europe had just surrendered at Dresden and outside Rome, their lights winking out. "They should've fought till they died!" she growled. "Spartans would!"

That was Kush and her men wanted to surrender to him, the rumors of what happened at the death camp notwithstanding. In North America where they were fighting Angela and Kimberly, that wasn't as much of problem. Her mom wasn't sadistic but she wasn't Shining Kush either and would mete punishment out to anyone she thought deserved it. They would still surrender to her before Angela, though. General Gilroy had dinner parties lit by flaming prisoners impaled on stakes. Jilly wondered if Angela and Sam ever went out and screwed among the moaning screaming bodies. Those crazy kids did that all the time in the old days. They were the good guys here, supposedly.

Jilly looked at the dark rangy man in khakis like her own standing beside her, Colonel Mubarek. When Callisto left he had quickly seized command of her regiment by having his rivals strangled in their sleep before they even knew anything. Jilly didn't know how he had learned of it so fast, but that was a good sign he was the right choice. Now Jilly said, "Something on your mind, Colonel?"

He indicated the map and said curtly, "It's time we negotiate a surrender while we still have a bargaining position."

The woman he dwarfed smiled up at him. "It's not WE, Mubarek. It's ME. I'm not stopping."

"What about your men?" he said.

She shrugged. "They took their chances. They were willing to swim through blood and kill their own families when they thought there was a pot of gold waiting. Well, it didn't quite work out but it's too late now to jump ship."

The big Turk said, "I disagree," as he brought the machinepistol up.

"FUCKHEAD!" Jilly screamed and drove her stiffened fingers into his throat. She grabbed the weapon away before he could even squeeze the trigger reflexively. She stood watching him choke, then broke his neck with a kick. "GODDAMNIT!" She cursed and threw the gun at the big screen which shattered.

Two sailors walking together down a hallway looked nervously at each other as they heard the crash and cursing. A door was yanked open and Jilly strode out saying to them, "Get that repaired," before she disappeared up a ladder going up on deck of the aircraft carrier.

They walked inside and saw the large screen was smashed. One began to pick up a phone but stopped as the other said, "Over here, Hans!"

Hans went over and found Yoshi bending over a body. Hans noticed a gun on the floor nearby and picked it up. They recognized Colonel Mubarek, a real scary character who had come in by helicopter the day before.

"Yoshi, it could be us next time," Hans said grimly with a German accent.

Yoshi nodded and frantically exclaimed, "Why did I join her? Why?"

"For a while it looked like she'd pull it off. We'd all be rich," Hans said in frustration. "GPS ruined that. I wish Mubarek had blown her crazy fucking head off! Maybe we could still get out of this alive somehow."

At a sound they turned and Jilly was standing there. "Forgot something. That's what you wish, huh, asshole?"

Hans said, "I was just talking! You know how it is!"

Yoshi wanted to vomit from fear. "Please!"

Jilly's mouth was twitching. Then she said, "Yeah, I know. Throw Mubarek overboard and get somebody in here to fix the screen like I told you." She picked a large envelope up from the desk and turned to leave. Hans brought up Mubarek's gun and opened fire. The slender woman had already dropped to the floor, and then it seemed to Yoshi like she was bouncing off the steel gray walls. A moment later she was standing in front of him holding the machinepistol as Hans was lying on top of Colonel Mubarek.

"Admiral! Please!" Yoshi said pathetically holding his hands up.

Jilly tossed him the gun, saying "Throw 'em both overboard, and get that fixed." She left the room and Yoshi began shaking. He wished he was back in Yokohama, or really anywhere else.

Chapter 11

Mulder and Karn had just finished shooting some more hoops and he was going to help the boy with some homework when they heard a loud curse. Fox looked around for danger but Karn said, "That's Uncle Sam. He's just mad about something."

The boy led Mulder to Sam's study which was open. Mulder was nervous but figured it would be all right since it was Karn's idea...what a position for an FBI agent to be in.

They looked inside. It was day so the bacchae were nowhere to be seen but Scully was there in a white bikini bottom and leaning against a wall. She was wearing a shoulder holster, and her toenails were painted bright red to match her lips and fingernails. Nice ensemble, Mulder thought. She glanced at him and Karn and frowned and waved them away. Karn didn't move so Mulder like a good sidekick stood his ground.

The Prince was speaking into something that resembled a cell phone but didn't. "I see..." he said grimly then slammed his hand down on his desk. "What response did the Lord Caste send them, Lord Military?...Why are you calling me and not one of the Lords?... What does Cordelia say?"

The Prince noticed Karn and Mulder now. At first he seemed annoyed then waved them inside. Karn anyway and Mulder tagged along. The boy went to stand beside Prince Samuel. Mulder didn't feel like pressing his luck that far. "Hold on a moment, Lord Military," the Prince said.

He looked at the boy. "Karn, a situation has developed with the Lytton Federation. You've seen their delegations, I think."

Karn said, "Those big bear guys?"

Sam nodded. "The Lord Caste want to handle this without me. It's been building up for a long time." His voice became ironic. "They might have a point. I don't like being blindsided this way though."

He continued, "The Military Caste are refusing to obey 'em in something this big without my agreement. Some outposts have been attacked but the Lytton claim those were the actions of overeager commanders in the field. Maybe... maybe not. There has been a military buildup on the border that looks a lot like an invasion force. We are their largest trade partner and they are ours. A war could devastate both economies along with whatever other damage it did. The Slithloc defeated them before but just barely. Don't ever say that to a military though, Karn. It sounds like a demagogue has 'em worked up. What do you think we should do?"

Mulder watched with interest. It was absolute monarchy in action.

Karn said, "umm...fight 'em if we have to, I guess. If there's no other way. We don't wanna lose the trade, right, Uncle Sam? We should find out why they're mad."

The Prince listened and looked thoughtful. He glanced up at Mulder and the agent was nervous. He looked over at Scully. "What do you think, Dana?"

The small woman said, "I agree with Karn."

The Prince began tapping a front tooth with a finger. He put the communication device back to his ear. "Lord Military, convene the Military Caste Council.... I don't care about the Lord Caste. I'll deal with them later. Attack. Defeat them but don't destroy everything.... I'm going to forget you said that, Lord Military...see that you do. If they sue for peace send me word....that's're on thin ice, Lord Military." He listened then said frigidly, "Angela and Kush are busy here." He set the device down and glanced at Karn and Dana. "You might have kept me from overreacting. Thanks."

"That's not overreacting?" Mulder said, then stopped talking as Scully's Walther PPK was pressing against his nose.

The Prince said, "No need for that, Dana." She returned her gun to the shoulder holster nestled beside her naked left breast and stepped away from Mulder. Prince Samuel said, "No, Agent Mulder, it's not overreacting. That would've been exterminating the entire Lytton Federation and turning their thousands of worlds into space gravel like the Military Caste wants. The Lytton aren't the Branchidae though. Aside from what the loss of trade would mean to the economy they have a rich culture that would be missed. In addition to the fact all out war is expensive business even for the winner. The Military Caste don't care about that, of course, and shouldn't. That's what the Clerical and Lord Castes are for."

"Who are the Branchidae?" Mulder said, glancing nervously at Scully who tensed but didn't do anything.

"It's who WERE the Branchidae," the Prince said with a smile. "They WERE fifth rate assholes who made their last mistake when they screwed with me. An analogy might be if the Slithloc are Sony and the Lytton are Mitsubishi, then the Branchidae were selling stolen TV sets out of the trunk of their car."

"Space gravel?" Karn said.

The Prince smiled at the boy.

"Could the Slithloc lose?" Mulder said.

Sam glanced at him then at Karn, and Mulder understood he was answering him for the boy's benefit. "They never have, Agent Mulder. They didn't crush the Lytton before though. It was a negotiated peace. The Military Caste is still stewing about that. I probably will have to send Kush and Angela . I didn't like a Lord Military just asking for 'em though. She should have more confidence." He smiled at Mulder. "This won't have any effect on Earth. I can't imagine the Military Caste losing but I suppose it's theoretically possible with someone like the Lytton. If they do I'll remain here assuming I survive myself and there's nothing else to do for the Slithloc."

Mulder didn't respond but knew what that would mean. After Jilly was defeated Good Prince Samuel would rule the world.


Krycek and Kimberly were lazily lounging in bed. It was close to sunset. The dark woman was propped up and reading the comics section from the Sunday New York Times and Alex was idly playing with her hair with his restored hand. Her General's uniform hung in one corner. She was on leave from her army in the Texas Panhandle. She had a breather because she had just crushed Jilly's forces in the region. Krycek was between assignments, having just returned from Bangkok.

There was a loud fast knock on the door. Kimberly glanced up, took her 9 mm from under the pillow, and removed her reading glasses setting them on the nightstand. Alex pulled some jeans on and a T-shirt, slipped his .38 into his waistband in back and went to the door. He glanced back at Kimberly who was still naked. She saw his look, shrugged and rose to put her white bathrobe on. Alex looked through the peephole, opened the door and Angela came walking in pushing past him.

"Angela...what is it?" Kimberly said setting the gun down.

The redhead looked at the newspaper and the rumpled bed. She smiled and said, "Deep down you're a happy hausfrau aren't you, Kimberly? Who'd a thunk it? And with ratboy here no less."

"What do you want?" Alex asked angrily. He was getting really sick of this kind of treatment from people. He had something ready for Angela.

The freckled redhead looked at him and smiled.

"What do you want, Angela?" Kimberly said coldly.

The tall woman got serious. "I'm flying to Washington to see Sam. Wanna come? You too, Krycek."

Kimberly said, "Of course, I want to see Sam. But what's this about? And why do you want Alex?"

Angela said, "I'll explain on the way. I wanna appeal to Sam's better nature and I think you being there will help. Krycek knows some of the people involved which might be handy."

"Okay," Kimberly said suspiciously, as she took her uniform down from the door and took the robe off. Krycek kept an eye on Angela as he put his shoes and socks on.

The redhead said to him, "Nice job in Bangkok; those plans you delivered were on the money. The guy in the men's room, though. Don't ya think that was a little rash?"

Kimberly didn't say anything, listening, as she was buttoning her shirt. She glanced at Alex who was putting his brown leather jacket on. He flashed his charming smile at Angela who tensed slightly.

"If you didn't want your agent provocateur hurt you shouldn't have sent him after me that way."

Angela's eyes glittered. "You knew he was from me?"

Kimberly began to chuckle. She said, "Not so funny when you're on the receiving end, is it?"

Angela said, "He was tortured. Why?"

Kimberly stopped laughing and looked at Alex who was checking the load in his gun as he innocently said, "He claimed to work for Jilly. Didn't have much to say though. It's interesting that you have a tattoo on your ass and snort crank but that doesn't help us against Jilly. I'l chip in for a seeing eye dog if he wants one. Did you know he had a crush on you?" Alex put the gun in a holster which he clipped to his belt in back.

"You little..." Angela said and took a step toward Krycek, but Kimberly, in her crisp uniform now and wearing a billed hat put an arm out blocking the taller woman.

"If you can't take the heat, as they say," Kimberly said.

Angela stopped and looked at Kimberly and got a slow smile on her freckled face though her green eyes remained cold. "So they say. Come on, let's go see David and Bathsheba." She turned and left the room. Kimberly didn't like the sound of that. She looked over at Alex.

"Would you've called her if I wasn't here to save your bacon?" Kimberly asked.

"Of course not."

Kimberly kissed him. "You are such a louse! I love it!"


Sam was relaxing in the large marble tub with Scully when Clea came in and started to say, "Captain An..." but then was knocked forward by the door and she fell face first into the sunken tub.

"Angela!" Sam said.

The tall redhead in her long black leather coat said sneeringly, "What a pretty picture! Get your clothes on. I wanna talk."

Elvira and Fotena had come up behind her and now leapt at her. Angela quickly turned her body and used the bacchae's own momentum to send the two creatures careening into the water with the others.

"Don't do that again, girls. I know you just wanna protect your boss but I'll only put up with so much."

"Oh, Angela, there's..." Sam started to say but she turned and sauntered out.

"Tell me when you've got your pants on, Lord Progenitor."

The beautiful women with their gowns now plastered to their bodies, awkwardly climbed out of the tub. Sam sighed and he and Scully got out. The three bacchae peeled their gowns off and held them over the marble tub, squeezing out water.

"I hope we have enough towels," Sam said.

Angela stepped out in the hallway. She wanted to find Mulder now. Since she didn't hear anything she just began opening doors looking for him exploring the town house. At the sixth door she froze.

"Hi, Mom," Karn said. He got up and came over to hug her. Mulder rose too. They had been sitting on the end of his bed playing a videogame.

"How long have you been here?" Angela asked. She was angry but didn't know who to direct it at. Lucky for Mulder she wasn't like Jilly.

"I got in a few weeks ago. Laconius said he'd tell you and dad I was here."

"Okay," Angela said. She'd been traveling a lot and he just hadn't caught up with her yet. They probably passed each other going different directions several times. The soldier wouldn't want to risk security by telling her and Kush about their son's presence any other way than personally.

"Uncle Sam and Laconius know you're hanging out with Agent Mulder?" the freckled woman asked.

"Uh huh," the boy said. "We've been shooting hoops, too."

"Yeah? He any good?" Angela said and glanced at the agent. The boy shrugged. She said, "Say goodby to him, Karn. He's gonna be leaving now."

Mulder had been listening carefully. At the last he felt his throat constrict.

"Bye, Mulder," Karn said.

"Bye, Karn. It was nice meeting you." Mulder said. She was gonna kill him. The only possible course he could see would be to take Karn hostage...and he wouldn't do matter what.

As the boy left he braced himself but the tall woman said, "Oh, relax! Don't be so paranoid. I'm getting you and your partner out of here." She turned and left the room. Mulder shakily sat back down on the bed.

Kimberly was nervously waiting. Alex said, "This is the little boy whose picture you carry, isn't it?" The big woman nodded.

Angela returned. "Sam'll be right down." Alex and Kimberly both saw she had been splashed with water. Angela looked at herself. "Don't ask. It's too stupid to talk about."

In a short time Mulder, in his usual dark suit, came down the stairs carefully. At the sight of Krycek and Kimberly, he froze for a second, then continued. Alex smiled at him and Kimberly nodded.

A few minutes later, Prince Samuel came down the stairs, Clea beside him and ready to catch him if he tripped and the others surrounding him protectively.

Sam was in blue jeans, Reeboks, and a University of Chicago sweatshirt. The four beautiful women were in white or black high heels with matching thigh-high stockings, lace bras, and nothing else but some jewlery. All wore earrings; Elvira and Fotena had necklaces, and Clea's navel sported a sapphire. Scully in addition to her small gold crucifix had a tattoo on her midback of an oroborus, a snake with its tail in it's mouth. Their pubic hair was shaved in ornate patterns. The Prince and his girls all had damp hair.

"Mom!" Sam said, came over and hugged her.

"Hi, baby!" she said emotionally.

Alex was grinning at Scully. She glared at him in return. The bacchae began growling and advancing on him but Angela said, "Nuh uh uh." They stopped.

Mulder wanted to run over and cover Scully up with his coat. It had been made abundantly clear to him though that it wasn't necessary. He was still bruised from last time.

"What's this about, Angela?" Prince Samuel said. "I thought you understood about me and my bacchae. That it didn't bother you anymore." This was bad enough but that Angela had brought his was embarrassing; especially with the way they dressed since their gowns were wet.

Kimberly said, "It's about Agent Scully. Let her go, Sam."

"I'm not here against my will!" Scully said.

Krycek laughed and she glared at him again.

"You would never do this!" Mulder said vehemently.

Angela said, "Agent Scully, you don't have any will. No one does when it comes to Good Prince Samuel...except for me. Sam, you can't just take somebody like that. That's not you.

Prince Samuel frowned and said. "I'm not harming her. She's happy. What's your problem?"

"Release her mind and see how happy she is. Mulder's biased but, Krycek, you know Scully. Would she want this?" Angela said.

Alex answered, "No. I love the look, though." He stopped smiling when Kimberly frowned at him.

"I'm not doing anything to her mind," Sam said shortly.

Angela said, "Not intentionally, maybe, but you don't have to. You know the effect you have on people."

"She likes me. So what?" Sam replied petulantly.

"So turn off the charm. See how much she likes you then," Angela rejoined.

Prince Samuel looked at Dana and his bacchae. He was uncomfortable. Elvira had also said something to him about Dana not belonging with them. She was the one who had wanted Agent Scully in the first place. But Sam himself had come to enjoy having Dana serve him and didn't want to lose her. Was Angela right? "Dana," he said quietly.

Scully walked over to him. "I love serving you," she said simply. He bent down to look directly in her eyes. Scully felt odd then said, "Shit!" as she realized what she was wearing. She covered her crotch with her hands and backed away from Prince Samuel, stumbling on the stiletto heels. Scully scrambled behind Mulder who gave her his coat.

Prince Samuel's eyes were red as he looked at her. "I'm sorry." To Angela and Kimberly, he said, "I really didn't know."

"I know, Sam," Angela said. "Go get dressed, Agent Scully. You and your partner are leaving." She looked at Krycek. "Why don't you go with 'em so Kimberly and Sam can catch up."

Alex looked at Kimberly who nodded at him. Kimberly said, "What about you?"

Angela answered, "I've got my own catching up to do." She looked over and Karn had come in the room. He was staring at Sam's bacchae. Wait till he hits puberty, she thought. She'd have to talk to Sam about it.

Sam had realized his mother and this killer had a romantic connection. Kimberly noticed his look and said "This is my friend, Alex."

Krycek felt a little nervous. It was absurd but he was sleeping with Sam's mother and he was self conscious. The Prince held his hand out. Alex took it and Prince Samuel looked him in the eyes.

"Sam..." Kimberly started to say. Angela laughed.

Krycek felt like the room was spinning. He saw huge vistas filled with impaled screaming bodies, armies crashing together, massive explosions as fleets of space craft met in battle and planets were reduced to cinders, and a dark horned god with a bloody face.

"Pleased to meet you, Alex. Hope you're treating my mom right. I wouldn't want to hear otherwise," the Prince said jokingly, releasing his hand and eyes.

Kimberly steadied Krycek who seemed disoriented and frowned at Sam who had an innocent expression.

Scully was shaking with humiliation and rage as she found her old clothes and got dressed. Her partner was downstairs. She could barely look at Mulder although she knew it was late for her to be modest now. "Dana." She whirled and the bacchae were standing there.

"Stay away from me!" she said and drew her gun.

"Put the gun away. You don't need it and it would not harm us anyway," Elvira said.

Scully, still furious, put the gun in her holster under her coat. She tried to calm down.

Elvira said, "Don't you remember what I told you? You wouldn't believe me then."

Scully put her big overcoat on. "Yeah, sure, whatever. After you brainwashed me and screwed me as much as you wanted, you decided I didn't quite fit in after all."

"You were not 'brainwashed.' The Prince desired you join us and you wished to please him," Elvira replied. "He is distracted by this terrible war with his sister and allowed you to be overwhelmed by his great presence. If there was any brainwashing it was now when he dampened your feelings for him."

"Were you behind Angela coming here?" Scully said, a shade less angrily. She hated to admit it but knew she wasn't just a passive victim.

Elvira nodded. "I encouraged Kush speak to Captain Angela."

Scully said acidly, "Thanks for not using me any more than you already did. Thanks a lot!"

Clealisthia and Fotena were ready to restrain Elvira but their hot tempered sister wasn't reacting as she usually did.

Elvira said, "Dana...Dana...I love you...we all love you. I'm sorry." She turned and left. Fo and Clea looked at Scully inscrutably for a moment and left as well.

Scully found herself regretting what were probably her last words to her former sisters.

Chapter 12

He moved quickly and quietly in the darkened hallway. Krycek found the bedroom and silently turned the knob and slipped inside. Two figures were asleep in the bed. He was here for the woman. She had been selling information to Jilly's agents. Krycek had been tracing her from one embassy guard, MIT scientist or State Department employee she'd duped to the next, killing them after he'd learned what he needed, as the smoking man had instructed him. He had been cleaning out their bank accounts for himself as well. Eventually the trail led across the Atlantic to London, then across the English Channel and eastward. Alex studied the sleeping figures and made a decision to kill both just to be safe even though he didn't know who her companion was.

"Do not slay the man. He is just sport for her."

Alex felt like jumping at the clear loud voice and the woman who had appeared standing beside him. The sleepers hadn't been awakened though.

Athena nodded at the sleeping figures. Alex slipped a knife into his hand and silently approached the bed. He looked down at her, a smart, treacherous, beautiful woman; just his type. It was too bad she had chosen the wrong side. Alex clamped a gloved hand over her mouth and her eyes opened in fear a second before he drove the knife into her heart. The man hadn't awakened. Alex suspected Athena was keeping the sleeper in that state. He looked back and she had disappeared. Krycek wiped his knife off, backed away and slipped out the bedroom door. Athena was wating when he came back out on the quiet residential Prague street.

"I have a task for you."

Alex hesitated and felt a tingling in his restored arm. Athena changed and instead of a dark dress she wore a white chyton, a shining helmet with a high crest and held a spear and shield. The vision only lasted a second before she disappeared in an explosion of light.

Krycek found himself in daylight and with no idea where he was. There was gunfire and explosions and he looked for cover but then realized no one was shooting at him. He could also hear cheering.


The MIG was flying low just ahead of the squadron. Underneath them were huge rice fields that had somehow escaped devastation so far. They had lost nine planes in a dogfight just an hour before. Jilly had wanted to destroy Kush's headquarters but despite inflicting damage hadn't succeeded. One of their opponents had been so good Jilly suspected it was Xena or maybe even Kush. Jilly had hightailed it out of there, realizing she couldn't afford to lose any more fighters if she could possibly help it. They hadn't pursued. That also made her suspect Kush. He wouldn't want Jilly shooting down any more of his pilots, which she would have done, just as Kush or whoever it was would've taken out more of Jilly's planes.

On her instrument panel Jilly saw five of her remaining twelve MIGs assuming an attack pattern with her as the target. They were trying to be sly. "Great," she mumbled to herself and just immediately tumbled off in a spin and came up under them and fired her rockets, hitting two that went spinning off in flames, leaving three more of her attackers. The rest of her squadron weren't helping her, simply waiting. She gritted her teeth seeing that.

"Commander! Commander!" was coming over her headset from one of the attacking planes.

"Too late, shithead," she responded. His answer was to fire a smart missile at her. Jilly exploded it with a special code only she possessed. She could guess the effect that must've had on the pilot. The two planes veered off in different directions. She flicked a switch and entered another code. The jets lost power and went into spins and the pilots ejected.

"That was pretty goddamn stupid, wasn't it?" Jilly said and flew toward the pilot who had sent the smart missile after her. He was frantically waving and a firing his pistol at her. Seconds later blood covered the nose of her plane. The other parachutist looked like he was trying to work his radio. She headed his direction and saw him squriming, then she had passed by having caught him with a wing tip. Looking back part of him was still in the parachute softly descending towards earth.

"Are you all right, Commander?" came over her headset now.

"Just peachy! Why wouldn't I be," she replied sarcastically. "Follow me back to The Cirra unless the rest of you wanna try something."

They saw the huge black oily cloud long before reaching the aircraft carrier. The bow of the huge vessel was still visible amid the water flaming with oil and fuel. There were survivors in rafts and life jackets being picked up. Lucky for them Kush and not Angela was calling the shots. Hunting 'em with a harpoon seemed like something her sister-in-law would be down there doing if she had her druthers. Jilly said to her squadron, "We have to get back to the airfield on the mainland while we have fuel," They didn't respond. She guessed they were regretting that they hadn't tried to help the others kill her.

Paulie was waiting for her when she came walking in from the airfield. There were eight bodies in front of a wall. The big old man in his out of place suit was holding an AK-47. Jilly looked curiously at the executed soldiers. They'd all been facing the wall with their hands up.

"Planning a welcome for me?" Jilly said.

Paulie grunted meaning yes.

"Tried recruiting you and you played along right?"

He grunted again.

Jilly tiredly put her hands over her face.

"Okay, honey?" Paulie asked.

"Yeah, Paulie. I'm okay."


The generals were all gathered around the large map. Froisart had been promoted and taken command of Ahmet's divisions. Their aides were hovering in the background. Xena, Ekberg and Powell had been arguing but stopped as Kush and Angela came in. Unlike the others they were in long leather coats instead of fatigues. Each wore five stars on their collars though. Artillery fire could be heard in the distance. The big blonde, almond skinned man took a position at the head of the table. Angela stood to one side of him. He was in charge here. She was observing and ready to step in in case of an emergency. Her troops were fighting a war of attrition in North America. Angela had wanted to be present for this though and had left Kimberly in command.

"It is good to see you, brothers," Kush said, looking around the table.

"Is there any chance Jilly will surrender?" Froisart asked.

"Nah," Xena and Angela answered in unison.

"It is unlikely," Kush said. "Without The Cirrah and with the new loss of most of her airforce and artillery, she only has days or even hours. But her defeat has been clear for months."

Angela added, "Right before all this started she was talking about how great Thermopylae was. Told somebody she wished she coulda been there. Jilly intends on dying fighting."

Froisart nodded, not surprised. He just wanted to raise the issue.

"Laconius," Kush said. His aide stepped forward and handed leather binders to all of the commanders as Kush continued, "Here are your orders."

Xena was frowning as she was reading. She looked up at Kush who was watching her.

"That's all, brothers," Kush said flatly. Xena waited as the officers left, leaving her and her aide with Kush, Angela and Laconius. She indicated for her aide to leave and at a look from the Lord Military, Laconius followed.

"What is this? You're keeping me away from the main fighting." Xena demanded.

"That's right," Angela said. "That's where Jilly will be. You're related same as Kimberly. We aren't gonna send you directly against her. I didn't even want you in this theater. Your China experience was too valuable to waste though."

"Don't you think I'll fight her as hard as I can?" Xena asked dangerously.

Kush answered, "I know you will, brother. You might well meet her face to face. The Lord Progenitor will feel badly enough."

Angela said, "Are you gonna tell me you can beat her? Sam's probably gonna lose his sister. He doesn't need his great great whatever grandmother dead at her hands on top of that."

Xena was glaring at Kush and Angela then said resignedly, "Long as it's not about me."

Angela smiled but her green eyes were cold. "Perish the thought, Xena. I'd like to kill you and your carpet muncher myself."

"Why?" Kush said curiously.

"Why not?" Xena and Angela answered together.


Standing in front of her headquarters, Jilly glanced back at the building wondering how long it would be before it had been reduced to rubble. She tried to silence the voices in her head and they receded. Her voices had disappeared for years, but had reappeared and become more urgent than they had been since she was a little girl. The final assault had already begun and artillery and flashes of light were visible in the distance. Jilly knew where the main fighting would likely be and would be heading out there to take personal command. She hoped she got killed fighting but she had to do her best or it wouldn't be real. Jilly had hugged Paulie leaving him confused. She had everything she wanted on her: pictures of her parents and her brother; a photo of that statue of Callisto with her as a little girl; a snapshot of her and Langland eating pizza. A picture of Karn at around two holding both her and Angela's chakrams like he couldn't decide which he liked better.

The majority of her men looked at her with fear and hatred, which made her smile. They were between a rock (the attacking armies) and a hard place (herself). Most of them just hoped for an opportunity to surrender without Jilly or any of her loyal troops killing them, which had been happening when men tried to give up without even fighting. If she was dead they all would throw their weapons down immediately since they were facing Kush. But it had become clear to everyone that trying to assassinate Jilly was more of a sure way to die than fighting.

After the loss of The Cirra, under a new Colonel that regiment of psychos came after her seeing that as their only chance. Jilly had personally led a contingent of her elite troops against them. Being on the same side had never set too well with the French Foreign Legionnaires, Russian Blue Berets, American Rangers, etc., many of whom had followed Jilly because she represented a kind of warrior ideal. Most also had known going in Jilly couldn't possibly win and they were unlikely to survive. Being self destructive was something they could understand. They were themselves. Jilly did it on such a huge, mythic scale that they wanted to be part of it. They felt elevated. The more literate ones actually thought in those terms; others like they were in an epic or opera; others like they were living out a movie. Now as things were drawing to an end Jilly was spending more and more time with their regiment: drinking; cooking for 'em; talking about things like the Spartans at Thermopylae, Pickett's Charge in the Civil war, and in the Battle of the Bulge those outnumbered GIs who as a reply to the German demand for surrender sent back a one word answer, "Nuts." They liked her more than ever now. Going with her to exterminate those creeps was better than R&R.


The fighting was over. Covered with blood, not hers, Jilly was driving her jeep across the devastation feeling satisfied at what she had accomplished. Callisto was disappointed in her for being too soft she knew, but gosh, look at all this....she had killed millons of times as many people as Callisto ever had. Callisto was just too critical. Jilly was disappointed she hadn't been killed in the fighting with her elite regiment who were practically all dead. She made sure she was never anywhere but in the thick of it but she was just too good. It didn't surprise it would come down to this. She was making her way back to her headquarters to wait.

When she arrived she stood up in her jeep and looked out over the remains of her shattered army, smoke rising from a hundred points of burning tanks and artillery positions. And bodies, lots of bodies. Beijing was just barely visible in the distance. It was quiet except for moans and screams from every direction. She smiled slightly, remembering the Last Stand of the Sword of Ares. Kimberly had led her army to destruction. Now Jilly had done the same thing, just on a bigger scale, the way she did everything. From far off two Apache helicopters began coming into view.

The beautiful blonde woman felt her mouth involuntarily twitching. Jilly tried to stop it but couldn't. She went into her headquarter and grabbed a bag and a case from a safe in the rubble. Emerging, she looked around for an open area where the choppers could land, quickly jogged over and began stripping her clothes off. As the first helicopter touched down Jilly finished lacing up her black leathers. The gems on them glimmered dimly in the smoky air. Lastly she picked up Callisto's old sword, the one Kimberly had given her when she turned 16. As the passenger from the chopper was climbing out, her red hair blowing in the wind created by the slowing blades, the other helicopter was setting down. Both aircraft had the impaled man symbol.

The second passenger lightly jumped down and with Angela began walking toward Jilly. "It is over. There is no reason to continue," Kush said. Jilly smiled and raised her eyebrows and looked at Angela.

"Foreigners, Jilly," the tall freckled woman said ironically. "What's with the costume?"

Jilly looked down at her gleaming leathers and her sword. "Thought you and Kush might wanna go one on one. You know, epic stuff."

"My great brother," Kush said sadly, "this is prose not poetry." He came up with an ouzi concealed in his coat simultaneously with Angela.

"Shit!" Jilly cursed leaping and avoiding Kush's line of fire, but in doing so she jumped right into a hail of bullets from Angela. She managed to throw her chakram as the bullets tore into her. Kush shot it out of the air and it shattered, then he sent another burst into Jilly as she was falling.

The two tall black clad figures walked to stand over the small still form, keeping their guns trained on her. When her body twitched both opened fire again.

Angela set her gun down and squatted next to the dead woman. "Jilly...Jilly... who's gonna teach Karn the difference between linguini and fettucini now?" she said softly and began arranging the torn body. She picked up the great old sword, now ruined by bullets and laid it lengthwise over Jilly and put the Queen's limp hands around it. Angela noticed a few photographs that had fallen on the ground. She took them and studied them a moment before tucking them into the top of Jilly's leathers. Angela stood up and looked at her companion. "You okay?"

Kush didn't say anything for a moment, then said, "I wanted to fight her."

"I know, Kush; so did I. But we aren't here to play games. We couldn't risk it," Angela said and laid a hand on his big shoulder.

"Indeed," he answered.

They heard a sound and turned to a see a lumbering figure push a broken door open in a building and unsteadily walk out. He was bleeding from a scalp wound but he just began slapping dust off his suit before he saw the helicopters and the standing figures. The big figure starting walking toward them then stopped when he saw the small bloody figure on the ground. Paulie began running at them clawing a gun out from his shoulderholster. Kush started to raise his machine gun but Angela said, "No."

"Fuck You! Motherfuckers! You Motherfuckers!" Paulie cursed as his gun flew out of his hand. Angela reached up to catch her chakram. The huge old man with cauliflower ears and a battered face kept running toward them and stopped beside the corpse. He was staring down at her, the left side of his mouth drooping the way it did now. "Honey..." he said sounding perplexed. He grabbed his head and fell on top of the little girl he used to take out for ice cream and give pony rides on his back to.

Kush reached down and felt for a pulse in his neck.

"Alive...I hope not?" Angela said.

Kush didn't answer but reached in a pocket and withdrew a small pistol, put the .22 to the back of Paulie's head and fired three times.

Angela had stepped back to avoid being spattered with blood. "I'll call Sam," she said and began walking to the helicopters.


Kimberly heard a cheer go up from her men. She looked up from the reconnaissance photographs of Boise she was studying and frowned. The cheering was continuing. She walked to the door of her temporary headquarters and looked out. She heard shooting and saw some grenades from launchers explode in the air as makeshift fireworks. Kimberly was waiting for the call and picked it up on the first ring.

"Yes....Yeah, Angela, I figured. How?...I wanna know....goddamnit, I wanna know! and Kush, huh?...of course not, Angela....Call Sam yet? How'd he sound?....I'm okay....I said I'm OKAY!" Kimberly put the receiver down and looked at her shaking hand. She reached into a pocket and took out a black and white photograph of a baby propped up against a vicious looking helmet. She began crying. "Oh, Jilly! Oh, baby!" She walked unsteadily over to her desk and seemed to just collapse into her chair, then took a large envelope from a drawer and upended it and more old photographs fell out. Picking one she could barely hold it in her shaking hand. Jilly looked about nine and was holding Sam and trying to get him to look at the camera but he was staring enraptured at her. He always felt that way about his big sister.

"Kimberly," a voice said quietly. She looked up and saw Alex.

"Where did you come from?" she asked in a ragged voice.

Krycek answered, "Athena."

Kimberly didn't say anything then desperately went back to the pile of photographs as Alex came to stand beside her and put a hand on her broad heaving shoulder.


The townhouse was quiet. It took a long time for the door to be answered after the bell was rung. Finally it opened. Scully said to the woman in a maid's uniform. "How is he?"

Clea studied her then stepped aside, murmuring "See for yourself, Dana." As the bacchae closed the door she stopped disguising her eyes and teeth. Scully followed Clealisthsia upstairs to the study where it was dimly lit and Chet Baker was playing in the background. When they entered the room Clea began taking her clothes off. Scully saw Elvira and Fotena look at her from where they were sitting at the Prince's feet. He was looking at an old photograph and hadn't seen her. He had one arm around Karn who was leaning against him. Elvira rose and whispered in his ear, and he looked at Scully, tried to smile but couldn't quite manage it. Back in her usual gown Clea went beside him too. Scully knew the Prince was keeping himself from overwhelming her. She stepped out of her shoes, took her coat off, and began unbuttoning her blouse.


Kimberly and Krycek had just emerged from a restaurant when they heard, "Alex!" They turned and a pretty, dark haired, overweight teenage girl was running toward them.

"Goddammit," Alex said softly. Kimberly looked at him sharply and at the crying girl. "Hello, Monica," he said coldy as she reached them. The girl stopped at his tone.

"Alex...Alex..." she said helplessly. She was twisting her sweater as she talked. She looked at Kimberly. "Who are you?"

The dark woman said, "I'm a friend. What's wrong?"

"Never mind," Alex said brusquely. "Monica, it's over. It was nice but it's over. That's life."

The girl began sobbing hysterically. "My dad died and then you were gone, too! I just met you and then you were gone! My mom tried to kill herself! God...oh god...Alex. I love you! Help me!" She reached pathetically for Krycek who just pushed her hands away.

"That's too bad about your father and mother, Monica. But I can't do anything for you."

"You said you loved me!" she sobbed out. "I was a virgin! My daddy's dead! My mommy's in a coma!"

Kimberly said, "I'm gonna talk to her. I'll seeya later, Alex."

Krycek tensed when he heard her voice. "Kimberly..." he started to say but she wouldn't look at him. He turned and walked off struggling with his feelings. Glancing back he saw Kimberly had her arms around Monica who was holding onto her for support.

Kimberly had gotten the teenager a hotel room and was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Monica had come home from school and found an airplane ticket in an envelope and a note that told her where to look for her wonderful Alex. She'd told Kimberly everything that happened. Kimberly had groaned inwardly. When she met Alex she knew this would come sooner or later. At least she'd had some good months with him. She could never look at him the same way now. Kimberly had been able to read between the lines. Why had Alex seduced a not-especially-bright young girl whose father he intended to murder? Just icing on the cake? A nice vicious flourish? It wouldn't surprise her if he had been screwing the mother. Hell, maybe, even the father himself. She considered that... Nah...No need to make Alex worse than he was. Monica had even saved a dress that had Alex's semen on it. God!

Now the big woman was in the hotel bar. Monica had a room and an appointment with a shrink and an after school job waiting for her in the hotel eventually if she wanted it. Kimberly figured she'd done her good deed. She hoped Monica didn't try to attach herself to her now. Wanting to help her was one thing but spending time with the air head was something else.

A figure took a seat beside her. Here it is, she thought. She looked over and didn't recognize who or what it was. She trusted her gut though. "Who are you?"

Before answering the smiling blonde in a miniskirt and halter top waved the bartender over. "Hey, studmuffin, lemme have a mango daquiri...and some nuts on the side. I love the taste of nuts..nice n' salty. How are your nuts, honey?"

The bartender grinned at her. "You just made my day."

The woman smiled after him as he walked off to make the drink. "That felt good. He's married to this TOTAL bitch! Gettin' on his case for not making more of SHE'S such a great catch. Tits halfway to the floor and she's criticizing HIM. If she doesn't cool it I'll have him leave her. He's the one who could do better!" She winked at the bartender as he brought her drink and set the the bag of beer nuts down.

"Aphrodite," Kimberly said.

The beautiful blonde smiled at the little umbrella in her daquiri and took a sip, then said, "I've been watching you a long time, honey. Funny we never met. I kept tabs on you though. Ares coulda never hooked you up with Cal without my go ahead. And you and Weldon were cute. Not classic exactly, but a nice match. You keep blowing it though. What is it with you? I guess it's that tragic hero stuff. Tragic love I can understand but this hubris...and all the guilt...I don't get it."

Kimberly said wryly, "You aren't missing anything."

"Yeah, anyways, you just made some MAJOR points with me by helping out Monica. And you kinda sorta love Alex in this sad burned out way...just like he feels about risking it by helping a kid who irritates you is even better. You coulda just looked away...why not?" The goddess had reached a hand out and laid it on Kimberly's arm. The dark woman felt uncomfortable and pulled away, but Aphrodite wouldn't release her. "Not this time, sugar."

Kimberly stood up. She was still in the hotel bar but it was strangely lit and empty. Aphrodite was dressed differently and still holding her arm. The bigger woman looked down at her, then collapsed in tears and the blonde held her just as Kimberly had held Monica. Everything she had been through over the years...all the death...all the loss...all the guilt. It seemed a bottomless pit of despair, overwhelming, but Aphrodite smiled and smoothed the big dangerous woman's hair softly, "I know...I'll be okay, baby."

Finally Aphrodite brushed Kimberly's dark hair away from her puffy red eyes. "Honey, if you were almost anyone else I'd ask you what you wanted. But with your track record...well...I think I'll just leave you out of the loop. This'll help about Alex." Her right hand began glowing and she laid it on Kimberly's chest a moment. "Wish I could help how you feel about your daughter. Not my province though. Maybe I can trade Hera something for it."

The void she lived with seemed to fill a little. Kimberly sniffled. "Thank you...but I don't want to forget my baby!" On the last words she broke down again.

The goddess said kindly, "I wouldn't do something like that."

When Kimberly got her composure back, she looked down at the beautiful blonde, part of her mind registering how she was dressed. The Goddess of Love was in a diaphanous robe like bacchae usually wore except Aphrodite had a white bikini under it.

Aphrodite exclaimed, "Yeah! Burns my buns! Those little tramps stole my look and ruined it. You don't think I've got the tits? Look at these! Droopy pussy? No way, look at this! Tight as a drum! Go ahead, feel it! With bacchae giving it away I had to take the high road. Skanks!"

Alex came home to his apartment. It didn't surprise him that Kimberly's things were gone. Not that she had ever had much beyond the clothes on her back. Her toothbrush was gone, her makeup, and her supply of Wild Turkey. He sat down heavily on the couch and looked out the window feeling empty.


Scully hailed a cab. "Know where the Hoover Building is?"

The driver wearing a baseball cap pulled low on her forehead muttered, "Yeah," without looking at her.

"Good," Scully said. She took some liver pathology findings out and was studying them when she happened to see the picture ID of the driver. It was a black male but the driver was a blonde female. "Been driving a cab long?" she asked.

The driver shrugged. Scully studied the back of the driver's head...that blonde hair...she hadn't seen a body. Scully said, "Jilly," prepared to pull her gun and empty it into the back of the cabbie's skull...or try to.

"Huh? You talkin' to me? Cuz that ain't my name. Oh, the badge...yeah, this is Idi's cab usually. I forgot to put my badge up. I can let you see it."

Scully sighed with relief. It wasn't Jilly. It still sounded sort of familiar but she wasn't sure why. "I'm sorry. From behind you look like somebody I used to know."

"That so? Doesn't sound like you were too glad to see whoever it was."

Embarrassed, Scully answered, "I suppose not."

They rode the rest of the way in silence. At the Hoover building the fare was $8.26. Scully handed the driver a ten and waved away any change. As she got out the driver said, "What'd this Jilly do? Try to kill everyone in the world or something?"

Scully froze. "Not exactly."

The cab driver took her baseball cap off and smiled at Scully, her eyes brown and wide. "Want me to come back and pick you up later?"

Scully's mouth was dry. "No."

The taxi driver winked at her, pulled her Redwings cap down low over her eyes and drove off.


Gabrielle was glad to be out of the fatigues. Even though she had been a medic she still disliked any kind of military uniform. She tied the sweater around her hips over the shorts she was wearing, surprised no one had ever thought of that. It was too bad she and Xena had to go back to Greece. There was so much she could teach these people. She sighed. There was only one of her. Sure, they could read her scrolls, but then they missed out on her dynamic presentation and the humility she exuded personally. She had read about Mahatama Ghandi. Mahatma meant Great Soul. He must've worshiped me, she thought with satisfaction. She was waiting in a coffeeshop for Xena. Outside the window she saw someone she recognized and waved. He came into the coffeeshop and sat down.

"What's wrong, Alex?" the bard said immediately.

Krycek looked at her. "Coffee," he said to a waitress. "What makes you think anything's wrong?"

Gabrielle could see the pain and loneliness in his eyes. "Kimberly's gone, isn't she?"

Alex nodded. "These things happen," he said easily.

"I'm really sorry, Alex," the small woman said and touched his hand. Krycek studied her, not exactly sure what he felt. She'd be easy to seduce if he cared to. But, of course, Xena was somewhere around and would castrate him if he did that. He found he wasn't interested anyway. He liked the way she just touched him trying to console him. Then a big figure was right there.

"What d'you want?" the Warrior Princess said threateningly. She was back in the Emma Peel suit she'd been wearing when he first saw her.

"Gods, Xena!" Gabrielle said. "I saw him and asked him to join me."

Alex sipped his coffee and stood up, leaving a couple of dollars beside the cup. "I'm going."

At the look Gabrielle gave her, Xena grudgingly said, "Sorry. You don't have to leave."

Alex said, "Gotta go stab a friend in the back." He started walking away and then turned quickly drawing the gun he wore on the back of his belt.

"I knew it!" Xena exulted, as she kicked the weapon out of his hand. Then she hit him with a backhand blow that sent him crashing over another table. Grinning, Xena was instantly over him and reaching down to grab him.

"Xena, stop it! Can't you see this is what he wants!?"

The Warrior Princess stopped at the words, then stepped away from him. She picked his gun up. Alex got to his feet gracefully and looked around at the other frightened customers. He was baring his teeth as he pushed his hair out of his eyes and wiped his bleeding mouth. Alex looked back at the darkwoman, his body a live wire.

"Xena..." Gabrielle said pleadingly.

Krycek walked to the door. "Hey," Xena called and tossed his gun to him. Alex caught it deftly and left. Xena looked at all the customers staring at her. "Come on," she growled and walked out. Gabrielle hurridly put money down and hurried after her.

When she caught up to her friend she said, "Xena, Kimberly left him."

"I figured that out. I'm the same when I get dumped."

Chapter 13

Scully looked nervously up at Mulder who nodded encouragingly at her. She took a deep breath, reached out and knocked on the door. Scully glanced where she knew a video camera was hidden. From the other side of the door she heard, "It's them."

"Well, let'em in. She's not gonna shoot you again," Langley's voice answered sarcastically. Scully closed her eyes at the words.

The door opened and Frohike was looking at her. He smiled, a little nervously, and said, "Come in. Nice to see you again, Agent Scully." He was wearing dark clothes that made the white sling his arm was in stand out glaringly. Byers and Langley were waiting too. The agents stepped inside.

Scully said, "What can I say, fellas? I'm sorry. I...I..." She looked in Frohike's eyes. "I'm sorry I shot you." She reached out to lay a hand on his arm and saw him wince a little.

"You were brainwashed. Didn't we tell you that?" Langley said with an exaggerated shrug.

Byers said, "Considering your circumstances, trying to warn us off was doing quite a lot. We should've listened to you."

Frohike finally said, "Yeah, that's right. Don't worry about it, Agent Scully. We know that wasn't you. Lucky for us we had Dr. Covington to save our stupid asses."

Scully could tell he was bitter. It wasn't directed at her though. He was embarrassed. So was Langley. A little old lady in her eighties had swooped in and rescued them like she was Xena or Batman. Byers wasn't bothered by that but he didn't go around talking tough or have an alterego named Lord Man Hammer.

Mulder spoke, "See, I told you that's how they'd feel."

"Thanks, fellas," Scully said seriously.

There was a beeping and a computer terminal came on and a voice began intoning "The land was stricken and crushed in spirit..." before Frohike turned it off. "Sorry," he muttered. "Forgot to reset the time."

"What was that?" Mulder said.

"Just something I found on a grad student's web page. It's nothing you'd be interested in," Langley said too quickly.

Mulder walked over and flicked a switch and the voice continued,
"An evil Queen ruled by fear and blood.
Had murdered her husband, crafty King Langland,"

He turned it off.

Scully said almost to herself, "We are waiting for Good Prince Samuel." Mulder looked at her and she explained, "It's how he got his start." She added, "the original Prince Samuel, I mean."

Mulder asked, "Did she kill King Langland?"

Scully shook her head. "No, but everyone believed she did. Queen Jilly didn't rule through 'fear and blood' either. That's how people thought of her though. I understand it's pretty accurate aside from that."

Byers said, "We're analyzing it for coded messages. It's been translated into thirty-six languages since GPS disappeared."

Frohike said uncomfortably, "Would you like some wine? Agent Scully? Agent Mulder?"

Mulder was going to decline but to his surprise Scully answered, "Yes, please." So Fox accepted one too. He watched Scully lift the cabernet sauvignon, studying the deep red liquid. "Can we hear the rest of it?"

Mulder was going to object but Langley said, "Sure. Better from the start," and pressed a couple of buttons. "I think this is Michael York but see what you think."


The land was stricken and crushed in spirit.
An evil Queen ruled by fear and blood,
Had murdered her husband, crafty King Langland,
And taken his throne to rule alone.
There was no hope for the broken brave people.
We did not yet know Good Prince Samuel.

Terrible Jilly had fled the land,
When war broke out Jilly was gone.
Jilly the Butcher, the bloody Queen
Was gone when her land needed her most.
There was one hope for the brave people.
Left behind was Good Prince Samuel.

Captain Angela, the Prince's beloved,
Led our brave men across the sea,
Crushing Terruk, a land of swine!
Burning their cities, enslaving their women.
She was the hope for the brave people,
Killing Terrukans for Good Prince Samuel.

An army of Terruk invaded our land,
To ravage the people and kill the kind Prince.
The Terrukan swine were losing the war,
This was their only cowardly chance.
Our men were gone fighting the war.
Where was there hope for a brave people?
We turned as one to Good Prince Samuel.

The Queen's young brother loved the land,
And though no soldier, untried in battle,
Abandoned by Jilly the same as the rest,
Told us all to fight for our homes,
Side by side with he and his guards,
Side by side with the Prince of Blood!
He was our hope, he rallied the people.
We wept and cheered for Good Prince Samuel.

Prince Samuel was young and handsome and wise,
Outwitted the swine, played them for fools.
Broke their spirit, taught them a lesson,
Drank their own blood in front of their faces!
Playing for time, as relief sped our way,
We impaled the swine for Good Prince Samuel.

Side by side we fought with Prince Samuel,
Many gladly took a sword meant for him,
He ordered us not to, but we disobeyed him.
He was the soul of the brave people,
They were heroes who died in his stead,
We would not lose our Good Prince Samuel.

His well laid plans came to fruition,
Relief arrived at the last moment.
Angela came to cut all their hearts out,
Her war cry resounding struck them with terror!
Captain Angela came to rescue her Sammy.
Zeus bless the Captain and Good Prince Samuel!

This story I've told is not of my land.
A degenerant king still squats on his throne.
We pray that Prince Samuel will come and redeem us,
Impaling his foes and drinking their blood,
For that's what he does when he takes a new kingdom.
We are waiting for Good Prince Samuel.

"Man! It's so cool!" Langley exclaimed, his earlier nervousness at playing it for Scully forgotten. Byers was watching wave patterns on another terminal as he listened and Frohike looked bored.

Mulder had been observing Scully whose eyes had a distant look as she listened, occasionally sipping her drink. He saw her tense up in response to what she was hearing several times. As it ended she took a large swallow of wine. Mulder recalled a similar scene in the Prince's study.

"Sisters, let me kill him!" Scully said eagerly, looking at a distinguished appearing man in a gray suit who was gagged and sweating with fear, his hands tied behind his back and his feet chained together. He was hanging upside down, the chain between his feet passed through a hook in the ceiling.

Mulder was tied to a chair, naked and also gagged. Fotena raised her head up from his lap. "No, Dana, not yet. Not until Lord Bacchus has annointed you." She dabbed at her mouth with a tissue.

Elvira who had just finished cutting down another body, this one of a beautiful naked black woman, now gray and drained of blood, added, "Fotena's right, Dana. Don't be in a hurry. You will have plenty of time. Thousands of years, probably." She carried the body over to a large glossy black rectangular box. Elvira opened the lid, dumped the carcass inside and closed it, pressed something and the box began making a soft humming sound. She washed her hands in a sink and then got three cut crystal wineglasses from a cabinet. Using an engraved platinum dipper she filled them from a marble bowel of blood. One she handed to Fotena who was wearing a black lace teddy and sitting on the arm of Mulder's chair, still playing idly with his penis.

Elvira kept a glass for herself and handed one to Scully in a striped bathing suit which was actually painted on. Elvira wore her usual transparent gown, her thick glossy dark hair tumbling in heavy rings over her white shoulders.

The door to the softly lit, lushly appointed room opened and Prince Samuel came in with Clealisthsia. Sam had a tuxedo on and Clea was in a silvery backless evening gown that extended down to the cleft in her buttocks.

"How was the concert, Master?" Scully asked, as she walked over to fill two more glasses.

"Wonderful, Starbuck! I love Mahler. Elvira and Fo didn't care for Alma but you can't hold that against Gustav. Dawn Upshaw was fantastic." As he and Clea accepted the glasses of blood he noticed Mulder and said, "Really now, girls, there's no need for that. I'm surprised at you, Dana. He's just concerned for your welfare."

Scully took a deep drink and said with a smile, "Mulder loves it. Won't admit it but I know him, Master. Believe me, he's having the time of his life." She winked at Mulder.

The Prince chuckled and said, "Can't say I blame him. Okay, Dana, if you're sure of that. Just don't hurt him." He looked at the bacchae. "Once more, he's under my protection. Everybody understand? Elvira? Good."

The Prince drained his glass and walked forward to study the man hanging upside down staring in terror at him. "So this is Dan Quayle."

"Mulder. Hey, Mulder." He came out of his reverie at Scully's words. "What's with you?" she asked.

"Nothing," he muttered. "Just thinking."

Scully smiled slightly and sipped her wine.


There was a knock on his door. Mulder looked guiltily at the video he was watching and turned it off. He put a newspaper over the video box, Bound For Gloria. Part II. Mulder opened his door and felt his stomach knot.

"Prince Samuel," he said. The ruler was in a snow white suit which made his black hair stand out. Laconius stood to one side in his usual long leather coat. Knowing what to look for, Mulder could see where the sawed off shotgun made a slight bulge.

Sam smiled and said, "Hello, Fox. I wanted to do something for you to make up for before. I realize seeing your partner acting that way was very upsetting for you. You also very likely saved Karn from Callisto."

"Don't worry about it," Mulder said, then added, "your highness," as he saw Laconius's hand inching inside his coat. The hand stopped.

"There's no need for that," Prince Samuel said to the soldier. "Wait outside."

"Highness..." Laconius started to say.

Sam caught his eyes and repeated, "Wait outside, Laconius." The young soldier was pale but left. Prince Samuel looked back at Mulder. "Now you have me, Fox. You know how clumsy I am. You're an athlete, a trained agent who has used deadly force. You wanted to kill me because of Dana. Now is your chance. You won't survive, of course, but you were willing to pay that price before, I know."

Mulder felt his muscles twitching. Images of Scully with Prince Samuel and his bacchae were burned on his brain and he had wished for exactly this chance more times than he knew. The war with Jilly was won. Prince Samuel wasn't needed for that anymore. But....Scully didn't seem to hate Samuel. Who was he to hate him? The Prince had saved the world from his sister. And what had he really done to Scully or to him but fulfill their secret desires? The only thing Scully had ever said about her own experience was that it made hypocrisy difficult to maintain.

"I don't want to hurt you but I don't like you." Mulder said.

The Prince smiled, his teeth white beneath his curling dark mustache. "Why should you like me? But I want to give you something else. I knew you wouldn't murder me. A noble heart like you have...not likely. Fox, wanna meet some aliens? Real aliens?"

Mulder said softly, "The Slithloc."

The Prince nodded and smiled at him.

"All right....thank you," Mulder said.

"Come on. I'm afraid Laconius's hair is turning gray out there from worry." The Prince started toward the elevator. He tripped and Mulder kept him from falling.


Mulder was fascinated by all the reptiles with their flicking tongues and winding tails. He tried to be observant, to be able to tell them apart. There were distinct groups, all with their own characteristics. One was relatively easy to spot because of red or yellow ridges above their black eyes. They were also larger and had longer snouts and more prominent teeth and claws than the others. That had to be the Military Caste he kept hearing about. There were other groups that were smaller and didn't have the eye ridges. Mulder knew there were distinctions between them that he couldn't recognize; slight differences in their head shapes, the texture of their scales. It was something for a reptile expert or at least a scientist. Scully could tell 'em apart probably, Fox thought.

Laconius had given him a quick description of Slithloc society so he knew those were the Clerical and Technical and possibly the Server Castes. But what arrested his eyes were two Slithlocs who stood in the center of the hall, not far from Kush, Laconius and himself. They were as tall as the militaries but less bulky and had purple eye ridges. Whenever one looked around all of the other castes would look expectant. Their robes had a formal character different than the utilitarian garments of the others. The Lord Caste.

Mulder looked nervously at the powerful creatures standing on either side of him. He had to remind himself they were Kush and Laconius so he didn't just turn and run away. All the Slithlocs but the two lords began rustling in excitement. Mulder saw another Slithloc with purple ridges had entered the room. Laconius touched his arm and nodded his long snout, so Mulder knew this was the Lord Progenitor.. As one of the lords began making growling hissing sounds, Prince Samuel glanced at Mulder and he found himself able to understand what was being said.

"Welcome home, illustrious forbearer. We your children have eagerly awaited your return," a tall, almost willowly lord said.

"Is that so? That wasn't the impression I got. I thought you wanted me dead and gone so you could rule without me," the Lord Progenitor replied. Mulder felt his anger and knew all the others did too. The other castes seemed nervous though the two lords looked calm.

"You wrong us, Lord. We merely seek to lift the burden from your shoulders which must be weary from your eons of responsibility. Take a well deserved rest, grandfather."

Sam strode forward, his tail twitching in anger. He snarled, "'Grandfather.' 'Children.' Don't patronize me, Regan! Those are human relationships and humans are lower life forms. I know that's how you think. You act like I'm some doddering military who has to be kept from attacking the furniture! Makes you sick to think you have anything human in you from me. Too bad! That's what makes you a lord!"

The second lord spoke, "Forgive my caste brother Regan, Lord Progenitor. He meant no disrespect but rather wanted to honor the wellsprings from which you emerged triumphant to lead the Slithloc from darkness into light."

Mulder thought that seemed to calm Prince Samuel down a bit. "All right, you've always been a good girl, Goneril. At least up to this point. I'll forgive Regan's insolence for your sake." Mulder studied the Slithloc with surprise. He couldn't tell the difference between the males and females.

Goneril continued, "Let us take up the weight which you have carried for so long. Enjoy the fruits of your long labors."

Sam said, " too? Why aren't there more Lords here to greet me? Where's Cordelia?"

Regan said, "Our caste brothers did not wish to tire you and so asked us to convey their respects and wishes that you take your ease as you deserve. We speak for Cordelia as well."

Mulder heard sharp hisses from many in the hall.

Prince Samuel slowly said, "Cordelia is with you?" Mulder almost winced at the pain he could hear and felt a ripple go through everyone present. Then the Prince slapped his tail loudly behind him making Mulder jump.

"You two traitorous dollots speak for the entire Lord Caste?" The Prince stepped away from the lords and tripped over his tail. Laconius quickly moved catch him. Sam nodded at him perfunctorily and Laconius stepped back beside Kush and Mulder.

The Prince looked around the hall and wherever he looked Slithlocs began shaking. Mulder didn't think it was fear; more like they were experiencing a storm. That's what the Lord Progenitor's displeasure was to them.

The Prince pointed a long claw at a tall scarred military. "You...come here." The military stepped forward with alacrity. "Would you kill a friend of mine?" Sam said in a suddenly sweet tone.

Kush began to speak, "Lord..."

"Peace, Kush. Come not between the dragon and his wrath!" the Prince said harshly.

Mulder looked at Regan and Goneril. They had shown no reaction.

The military growled, "Yes, Lord Progenitor. But I would rather kill two enemies."

"There you have it. What is your name?" Sam asked.

"Topcliff, Lord."

With a jerk of his long snout the Lord Progenitor indicated the two lords. The scarred military walked up to them but then hesitated and looked back at Prince Samuel. He turned with a renewed purpose. The lords had still not shown any reaction, calmly waiting.

"Lord, don't! Please!" It was Laconius. Prince Samuel turned and caught the young military's eyes and Laconius collapsed. Kush began to step forward then he too collapsed.

"Go on," Prince Samuel ordered.

Mulder said, "I knew you were just a tyrant. You had Scully fooled but I knew. Even Hitler and Stalin didn't kill their families."

Every military hissed in outrage and the nearest were about to rip the human to shreds but the Lord Progenitor said, "Stop that!" freezing them. He looked at Topcliff and said "Wait." He reached up and tapped a long sharp tooth with a curved talon as he looked at the ground. After a moment he added, "Thanks anyway. I'll remember your loyalty." The military walked shakily away from the two lords he had been about to kill. He had intended on taking his own life later. He could not disobey the Lord Progenitor but he could no longer live, knowing he had slain members of the Lord Caste. It didn't matter why.

Sam looked at Mulder. "Family is a human relationship. Slithlocs don't think that way."

"You're human," Mulder said.

The black eyes under purple ridges and over that long scaly snout caught his and Mulder did his best to not be overwhelmed. "Not really. Not for a long time. What I almost did was more human than Slithloc though." His forked tongue flicked out.

Goneril spoke, "Cordelia is imprisoned in her residence."

The Lord Progenitor swung his long head to look at the Slithloc and asked, "Why? How imprisoned? No military, I know."

"We thought it fit to appear united on this matter. Cordelia argued against us, the only lord who did," Goneril answered. "Other lords are guarding her. She is unharmed."

"You intended for me to kill you," Prince Samuel said with understanding.

Regan said, "Yes, Lord Progenitor. The human has upset that plan."

Goneril explained, "The other castes need an issue if they are to ultimately follow the Lord Caste. Our deaths would provide that."

"Martyrs...Jesus, talk about human...that's me in you for sure..."

Goneril said, "We would never intend harm to your person. We lords would not exist without you. You raised the Slithloc from barbarism to civilization, have lived millenia shouldering responsibilty, crushed under its weight as all have seen. The writings from a thousand years ago speak of your terrible weariness which all could see. It is time to step aside. We are no longer scampering from our eggs to the sea before the scallans can snatch us up."

"I know that," Sam said. "I'm the one who put an end to that disgusting spectacle."

Regan said. "We were conducting negotiations with the Lytton Federation when you ordered the Military Caste to attack them. It was all just shadows. A leader was trying to gain popularity by painting us as the evil empire. Just game playing."

"What about their military buildup on our border?"

"Just for show. We had observers. None of their weapons were armed."

"You should've told me!" Sam said.

Regan said, "We sent you word, Lord. You would not hear the messenger. You told her whatever it was the Lord Caste could handle it."

Sam remembered. In one day there were sixty-thousand casualties in Manchuria when the fighting finally began. He had gone to see the wounded and had just spoken to a boy wrapped in bandages who lost his legs. A messenger came up and Sam had barked that at her. A thousand years ago he wouldn't have done that.

"What about the Lytton?" Sam said, prepared for the worst.

Goneril answered, "The Military Caste never received your command to attack them."

Outraged growls and hisses exploded from militaries in the hall.

Sam said, "That wasn't a Lord Military I spoke with."

"No, Lord. It was a clerical," Goneril said. "He is sedated now to prevent him from taking his own life."

"I'll speak with him," Sam said. "You decided now was the time to make your move." He glanced over at Kush and Laconius, who had regained consciousness and quietly gotten to their feet.

Regan said, "Angela was absent as were you and Kush. When we would have such an opportunity again?"

"You win," Sam said quietly, turned and walked out of the deathly silent hall. Kush and Laconius followed and Mulder stayed close by them because of the looks he was receiving from all the other militaries. Looking back, Regan and Goneril nodded at him.


The cab pulled up smoothly and the passenger who was bundled up in an overcoat against the cold got in. "Where to?" the cab driver asked.


After the driver pulled out into traffic she glanced back and smiled. "Haven't seen you since stuck a sword through me when I was helpless."

The big woman in back unbuttoned her coat so her gun was in reach. "Yeah, been a long time."

The blonde giggled and was thinking how to kill her.

"Don't bother. You can't beat me anymore than you could ever beat Xena. Try to be smart just once, please. I know every move you'll make. You trained me, remember?" Kimberly said, "Killing you was one of the worst things I ever had to do. I'm not anxious to do it again."

"So where to, really?" Callisto asked after a moment.

"Airport. Like I said, I'm going to Athens," Kimberly replied, relaxing slightly.

"Jilly said you burned me on a funeral pyre," the driver commented after she called Dispatch to tell 'em her destination.

"Uh huh," Kimberly said, readying herself..

As she punched through a yellow light Callisto said, "I always kinda wanted a monument. Nothing big. You know, something tasteful. A frieze maybe. Words of wisdom by Sophocles or somebody."

Kimberly relaxed again and said, "That's a good idea. I'll arrange it soon as I get to Greece. How bout you and Jilly as a little girl? I'll put it up where Cirra used to be if I can."

Callisto was watching the traffic, "Me and my Jilly...Yeah, I'd like that."

"No problem."

"You kill her?" Callisto asked.

"Thanks for the compliment. No. Angela and Kush. They burned her on a pyre along with Paulie."

They didn't speak the rest of the way to the airport. "Thirty-two eighty-five," Callisto said.

Kimberly gave her a hundred dollar bill and waved away any change. Callisto nodded at her and drove off.

Kimberly watched the cab drive away, then reached into a pocket for a flask and took a swig before she walked into the terminal bulidng to catch her flight.


The tall pale man stepped into the restaurant and saw who he was looking for. He paused to light a Morley, ignoring the No Smoking sign, and walked over to the table where Mulder had seen him and was waiting. The woman he was sitting with only glanced up when the smoking man stopped at their table.

"Can't you see I'm busy?" Mulder said.

Taking a drag on his cigarette first, the man said, "I want to speak with you." He said to the woman like it was an order, "Will you excuse us?"

She hadn't spoken but indicated for him to take a chair. He frowned but sat down. She was a slender elegant woman with almond skin and striking platinum blonde hair and classic features.

Mulder smiled a bit and said, "This is Cordelia."

Before the smoking man could say anything the woman caught his eyes with her own black ones and he felt like a butterfly pinned to a board. The woman seemed to just be studying him then said, "You would be useful in a corrupt world. I can see that. A kind of Military Clerical but without the morality of either; a necessary evil. But you are limited and will never be more than a tool. A Caste Lord has compassion." He had heard the accent before and seen that foreign, vaguely Eurasion appearance.

"You are like Kush," he said in a hoarse whisper.

The woman calmly said, "Somewhat. He is a Lord Military. I am not a Caste Lord."

The man licked his dry lips. "You belong to the Lord Caste itself. What are you doing here?"

"A useful tool. But very limited and even potentially dangerous. It is unfortunate," she said softly. "With the conflict completed, others of your kind will no doubt try to kill you now, as you will try to murder them. Some such scheme brings you here now."

By exerting his will he managed to reach up and take his cigarette from his lips and was going to tap the ash on the floor. The woman pushed an empty cup toward him. "Put it in here and leave now. If Fox wishes to speak with you he will. For now do not interrupt our meal."

He dropped the cigarette in the cup and rose. He tried to speak but found he couldn't. He began backing away from the table.

"Bye bye," Mulder said as the smoking man shambled out of the restaurant. Looking back at his dinner companion he said, "Where were we?"

Cordelia softly smiled. "I asked you to explain jungle fever."

As he stepped out of the restaurant the tall man glanced around suspiciously and put his collar up. He took out another Morley and lit it. What had just happened was fascinating. The fact that it infuriated and humiliated him was of no importance. It was something to evaluate. Was Cordelia a new player? Was she moving against Prince Samuel or was she his agent? He knew there was some sort of power struggle though did not know any of the details. Should he side with her if he could? Betray her? Walking to his car he considered what she had said about his limitations. It was another way of saying what he already knew about himself. That was one reason he had always wanted Fox Mulder to work for him. Mulder's advice could perhaps provide him with what he knew he lacked. What did Mulder have to do with the Lord Caste? Could Fox be turning into a player himself finally?

As he reached his car in the dark parking lot he heard a scraping and stopped.

"Hello, dog."

He took a drag of his cigarette and said, "Helms. Where are you?"

"Look down, dog."

He did as he was told and saw a large unclear shape in the shadows low to the ground. As he looked he saw what seemed to be a tail slowly moving. A pincer was barely visible as was Helm's bald head. The demon scuttled forward into the light and smiled up at the smoking man.

Forcing himself not to run he took another puff. " do you want?"

Helms sharpened a tusk on the ground a moment then answered, "My wonderful lord has given you to me as a gift. Since Captain Angela says you served well I cannot slay you, however. Merely toy with you. You should have sacrificed to Hades, dog. With your service that would have protected you. But you were too proud."

The man pulled a gun and emptied it into the creature which grunted as it was hit but that was all. Helms leapt at him and held him in a powerful claw. "The noise will bring others but I want to spend some time with you, dog." Holding the struggling man Helms bounded off into the darkness.

Mulder came out of restaurant and drew his gun as he scanned the parking lot. Behind him others were also emerging. Cordelia stepped beside him. Fox put his gun back in his holster. "Probably just what you said. He's playing games with somebody. I should investigate."

The lovely almond skinned woman laid a hand on his arm. "Isn't it enough for you to inform others? We had plans."

Fox looked at her and felt himself sinking into her black eyes. "Yeah, I can just call it in."

Cordelia smiled. Fox shook his head to clear it and took out his cellphone to call Skinner and Kersh.

The ambulance was driving along near the reservoir in the cold crisp morning air. It came to a stop and paramedics climbed out along with a tall figure with red hair and long black leather coat.

"He's around here somewhere," she said.

They all began searching and soon a female paramedic called out "Over here."

Angela came sauntering up as the ambulance personnel had an oxygen mask on the naked broken form. She reached into a pocket and came out with a pack of Morleys. She lit a cigarette with a gold lighter then squatted next to the man. "Take the mask off a second," she ordered. One of the paramedics was going to argue with her but then changed his mind.

"Hey," Angela said sharply and the pale man opened his bloodly swollen eyes a crack. She held the cigarette to his lips a moment so he could inhale. Angela stood back up, the paramedics put his oxyen mask back on, and they carried him up to the ambulance. Angela frowned with distaste at the cigarette and dropped it and ground it out, then walked back to the ambulance and climbed in the back.


The doorman took her valise and held the door open for the tiny old woman who came out on crutches. She saw his solicitous look and bit back what she felt like saying to him. "Thanks," she said.

"Do you need a taxi, mam?" the young man asked.

The old woman gritted her teeth and said, "Yeah, thanks."

"Mam, excuse me, but are you, Janice Covington?" the doorman said.

She looked at him in surprise, "Yeah, I'm Covington."

The young man smiled. "My father was one of your students at Cambridge. Wait till he hears I met you!" He looked down at his uniform. "He was on a scholarship. I'm working my way through school."

"What was his name?" Covington asked.

"George Johnson, mam."

"I remember him. Tell him hello for me." Janice actually had no idea who he was. Mel would be proud, she thought.

"Yes, mam!" the doorman smiled at her and walked off to hail her cab. Janice smiled wryly and took her hat off and looked at it. She should get that bullet hole fixed. It'd been forty-three years already. Just kept procrastinating. She saw a cab waiting but then it tore off like a bat out of hell with screeching tires and another taxi drove up smoothly and took its place. The young doorman looked with surprise at the departed cab then waved at Janice who went out to the curb on her crutches. The trunk popped open and the doorman put her valise in and closed it, then held the door open for her and helped her navigate getting in.

Janice handed him a big tip and he said, "Thanks, Dr. Covington. Wait'll I tell my dad about this."

"Whatever," the old woman mumbled after the door was closed. "Airport," she said to the driver.


The picture badge caught Janice by surprise. It looked sorta like Jilly. It wasn't though. This was a Heidi Hody.

"You some kinda celebrity? " the driver commented as she got on the expressway.

The old woman frowned, not really feeling like talking but answered, "Nah, just an old teacher. His dad was a student."

"What did you teach?"

Janice groaned inside but thought about what Mel would want her to do. "Archaeology."

"Huh," the driver commented noncomittally. Janice was relieved. "Know anything about Ancient Greece?" the driver asked.

The old woman began to feel uneasy. It was a wide jump but not an impossible one for the cabbie to say that. "Matter of fact, I do."

"Thought so. Recognized you. Read Journey to Amphipolis a little while ago."

Janice relaxed again. "How'd you like it?" she asked with a smile, sensing some criticism.

"Oh, I'm nobody to judge. Not much school, ya know? Had to go to work when I was a kid."

Janice was warming to the driver. She had a thousand times more respect for the opinion of someone like this than most of the rich snots that had filled her classes. "You didn't like something. What was it?" she asked.

The driver didn't answer a moment as she got on the freeway and accelerated heading toward the airport. "Well, you coulda been more critical of Xena is all. Seemed like you just took Gabrielle of Poteidaia's word for everything. The 'great Warrior Princess,' 'the noble hero'....what about before, huh? What about all the people she hurt? Places like Cirra weren't such big fans. You kinda glossed over her Destroyer of Nations side. She's the one who turned the Amazons into has-beens. Killed all their best leaders and they never recovered. She conveniently didn't mention that later when she got all chummy with 'em."

The old archaeologist was surprised at the anger she could hear. She said, "Well, yeah. Actually, Henry Sallwethy raked me over the coals about that eventually. One of my own best student really. Wish he'd stuck with Archaeology instead of switching to History. The bad stuff about Xena came out later. Check out Hank's stuff if you're really interested. I never heard that about the Amazons."

"Yeah, well history is written by the winners. Sallwethy, huh? Thanks for the tip." She drove in silence for a while then said, "How would you feel if your family was burned alive and everybody thought the person who did it was the best thing since olive oil?"

Covington had tensed up. There was something almost out of control about the driver's voice now.

"And what about Jilly? Her father Detrius was in Xena's army when he took her mother as a slave. He screwed Jilly over as bad as Callisto was by Xena...pimped her... fucked her...cut her tongue out. Callisto rescued Jilly. But everybody thinks Xena was this wonderful hero and Callisto was just a crazy murderer! Because of Gabrielle and her fucking scrolls!"

Janice wished her gun wasn't in her valise in the trunk. This cabdriver was nuts. "Like I said, check out Sallwethy's stuff. In his book about Prince Samuel's dynasty, The Blood Kings, he gives background on Xena, The Sword of Ares, and Queen Jilly. Calls 'em a 'triumvirate of terror' if I remember right. Hank had a nice way with a phrase. Mentions Callisto too. Says Xena was worse before she refomed."

"I will," the driver said, sounding mollified.

Janice knew she should keep her mouth shut but asked, "I never heard that about Jilly's father...or the Amazons. How do you know that?" She'd always put curiosity ahead of her safety and wasn't about to change now. Beat dying of emphysema. The driver didn't say anything but Janice could see how tense the back of her neck looked, then the cab swerved into an exit. She pulled the cab to a screeching halt by the side of the road as soon as they were off the ramp and twisted around to look at the old woman.

"I'm Callisto! And you're a descendant of the irritating little blonde. You have to be. If I knew where they were now, I'd take her and Xena your head just like Jilly did with Ahmat!"

The old woman reached for the door handle but Callisto's hand flicked out and locked the door. Her other hand came up with a gleaming round blade Janice recognized as a chakram.. Janice looked in the mad wide brown eyes which gradually calmed down and the driver got that famous smile that seemed too wide for her face.

"My, my, my. Almost like the old days. Don't worry. I'm not gonna hurt you. Maybe if you were fifty years younger and could put up a decent fight." She turned back around, restarted the car and got back up on the freeway. In her rearview mirror she saw the old woman lighting a cigar. "Hey! No smoking in my cab!"

"Kiss my ass!"

"You want me to kill you?" Callisto growled.

"Go ahead and try, you crazy bitch!" Janice Covington snarled.

Callisto laughed and rolled her window down to air out the smoke. At the terminal she got out and opened the passenger door, then took the valise out of the trunk. Covington awkardly emerged from the taxi with her crutches.

"Sixteen dollars even," Callisto said.

The old woman eyed her then gave her a twenty, picked her valise up and walked on her crutches into the airport building. Callisto readjusted her baseball cap and looked over as a family waved at her. She went to help them put their luggage in the trunk of the cab.


The restaurant was busy but not packed. Though still good everyone said the food wasn't what it used to be. The wiseguys thought Jilly was either dead or in the Witness Protection Program. No one else had any idea what happened to her. Vicky, the daughter of Cal Snope's old boss Jimmy Falconi, was running it now. She did her best but knew as well as anyone it wasn't what it had been with Jilly.

Alex carefully came in and gave his name and was led to a table. He'd received a phone call to confirm his reservation. It was news to him. He'd come to see what was up, ready to shoot his way out if that was what he had to do. He wanted to do that. Why else walk into such an obvious trap. Ever since Kimberly had left he felt a void that made him furious. Perhaps he could find some release in violence. He had been picking up women and men for anonymous sex but that just left him feeling empty and wanting Kimberly even more. Killing was more exciting than sex anyway.

A waitress approached and he glanced up. "Athena," he said quietly.

Holding a pad the waitress said, "Good evening. I'd recommend the Neapolitan breast of chicken with scallions for you and the clams in red sauce for your guest when she arrives. The antepasto is excellent."

Krycek felt his restored arm tingling. He said, "That sounds fine. Thank you." He made a selection from the wine list.

The waitress wrote the order down, then looked over and said, "Here's your dinner companion. I'm sure you want to show her a good time."

Alex saw Monica being led over by another waitress that he didn't recognize, a blonde. The waitress was saying, "I like to give'em a good lick then go all the way up and just nibble the tip. Drives 'em wild!"

Monica, in a blue dress from the Gap nodded. "Altoids are good. Hey, this place is like tubular!"

The blonde smiled, and glanced around. "Yeah, it is nice in a mortal sorta way. Think about kneepads, honey. I don't get rugburns--AS IF! But you oughta be careful."

Monica cried out, "ALEX!"

Krycek rose to be gentlemanly, mindful of what Athena had said. He was appalled. "Hello, Monica." She moved to hug him. Alex felt the eyes of Athena and the other waitress and returned the hug, Monica's big breasts pressing against his chest. He held her chair for her. She giggled and sat down. Alex returned to his seat and waited for some clue but the waitresses disappeared.

He just made small talk with Monica, his mind racing trying to imagine what this was about. She thought they were getting back together and he had arranged this. He played along. Monica's eyes were red with emotion.

The meal was excellent, the waitresses simply bringing their food. The blonde and Monica would whisper to each other and giggle a little. Alex was as charming as he knew how to be, asking Monica about her beautician classes and the internship she was applying for. At the end of the meal the two waitresses reappeared.

Athena said, "It is time to pay your debt." He looked up. She wasn't talking about the meal and she wasn't talking about money.

"Hey, studmuffin," the blonde waitress said. He looked over at her and she blew a kiss at him. Alex blinked his eyes then looked at Monica. He got up from his chair and down on one knee.

"Monica, I love you! Marry me, please!" Krycek said fervently to the pretty chubby brunette who was chewing gum. He couldn't stop himself. Something inside him really felt that way. Another part was stunned at what he had just said.

"Oh, Alex! Yes!" Monica said. She looked up, "It was just like you said!"

"I've got a feel for these things, sugar," the smiling beautiful blonde answered.

Monica seemed to simply freeze, her mouth open and eyes half closed. Alex saw the other patrons were also motionless. He felt a homicidal rage at what was being done to him at the same time he felt love for Monica. As he resumed his seat, quivering with fury, Athena said, "You are getting better than you deserve. Having to taste a bit of what you have done is a small price indeed for your many crimes. You will even come to cherish Monica...eventually."

The blonde said, "This was tricky, making it so you love her but understand what's going on. Usually I just make somebody fall head over heels and that's that. Oh, I helped you get over Kimberly and her over you. Monica doesn't need that kind of competition."

Athena added, "You will not be punished as you merit. I have a use for you."

Monica and the other patrons began moving again.

A maitre d' walked up. "Everything all right here?" he said in a melodious low voice.

"Hey Ar..." the blonde said.

"Brother..." Athena said noncommitally.

Monica gushed, "This is the happiest day of my life!"

The maitre d' said without interest, "Whatever." The mortals except for Alex all froze once more. "You think you could just leave me out of this?"

"It's nothing to do with you," Athena said coldly.

"This was my favorite's servant as much as yours and you think it has nothing to do with me? Think again, sister. We both lost favorites."

"What dya want, Ar?" the blonde said with annoyance.

"Aphrodite...making yourself useful, I see. I don't want anything. Just wanted to make a suggestion to the happy couple." He put his hands on Alex's and Monica's shoulders in a friendly way.

"Brother..." Athena said, warningly this time.

Ares ignored her and said to Krycek, "You know what a good name for the daughter you two are gonna have would be? Jilly."

"No!" Athena said.

Ares smiled at her. "Take it up with Zeus. It's a done deal."

"He would never do that for you! Father despises you!" Athena said.

Ares smiled and said, "He would if his brother, Hades, supported me. Our uncle had plans for Alex himself. Hades wants to retire Helms and was grooming Alex. But you stole him away."

Athena coldly replied. "Very well."

"Oooo...that kinda throws a snag in your plans, Theny," Aphrodite ejaculated.

Athena frowned. "No, it just recasts it somewhat." She glanced at Alex. "After your daughter you will have a second child, a son."

Aphrodite nervously ejaculated again, "I dunno about this, Theny. I really don't."

"Since when did you have a problem with incest?" Ares asked innocently, then slipped a finger down the back of her skirt between her cheeks. Aphrodite giggled, then seeing Athena's look made herself glare at Ares.

"It doesn't have to lead to that. But even if it does...I will have my beautiful man back!" Athena stated.

Alex had a sinking feeling. He asked, "Should I name him Langland?"

The goddess nodded then disappeared in an explosion of mirrors, Ares in a blaze of fire, and Aphrodite in a swirl of ocean mist.

Alex felt something and discovered a small box in his hand. Monica squealed in delight and took it, putting the gaudy diamond ring on, and planting a wet kiss on his cheek. She had to retrieve her gum which stuck to his face. An accordion player came over and began playing the love theme from The Godfather. He looked at the exit and felt his restored arm begin tingling. Alex Krycek considered shooting himself and felt his gun disappear

Some Years Later:

Alex pulled his Ferrari into the driveway next to the stationwagon and got out. He looked at his lawn evaluating if he needed to mow it or not. He studied a patch in the right corner that had crab grass. Ever since he had dug that area up one night to hide the body of a German counter intelligence agent it had never really looked right. He walked up to his front steps, stepping over a banana seat bike. A car slowly drove past and Alex watched it carefully though not obviously. Stepping into his house he braced himself.


He looked up just as Jilly who was hanging from a chandelier launched herself at him and landed on his shoulders.

"Hi, honey," Alex said and lightly held onto her bare feet as the eight year old kissed the top of his head.

"Hi, Dad," Langland said. "Can you help me with my homework?"

Krycek looked at the seven-year-old boy who had come out of the kitchen. He said to his son, "Very funny. Where's your mother?"

The pretty little boy gave him that soft smile Alex remembered. "At her Gung Shun class, seeking inner peace and firmer thighs."

Before Alex could respond the little girl on his shoulders had jumped off her father and landed right in front of her brother who she grabbed by the front of his T-shirt "Don't talk about Mommy like that! Do you understand?! Do you?"

Alex sharply said, "Jilly!" not liking the crazy edge her voice had taken on. The small boy pointed at her chest, she looked down and he raised his finger to her nose. Krycek cringed as Jilly drove her fist into Langland's stomach then kicked him in the face. He quickly pulled her off her brother.

"He started it!" she cried.

"Well, I'm ending it," Alex said looking at the crumpled little boy, wondering if this would be another hospital visit. Everybody thought that he was the one punching out Langland. He'd had three visits from Child Protective Services already. When Jilly said she had done it they thought she had been coached by her father and looked at Alex like he was vermin.

Alex knew it wasn't all one way. Langland did worse things to his sister. It just didn't wind up in the emergency room. That was far to crude. Psychological torture was more his son's forte. He must know Jilly would kick his ass, Alex thought, but he does it anyway. Rubs her face in how much smarter than her he is. He walked over and helped Langland up as Jilly kept making protestations of her justification.

"Okay?" Alex asked seriously. The boy nodded but Alex sighed not liking his looks and picked the child up. "Come on, Jilly. We're going to the emergency room again. I hope you're happy."

"He started it!" the girl whined.

The End