by Joseph Anderson

Callisto and Xena are the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA/Universal. No copyright infringement is intended with this fanfiction which may not be sold, may be copied for personal use only, and must contain all notices of copyright.

This doesn't fit in my big extended storyline. It's a free floating Callisto story, ignoring all the goddess stuff on the TV show. Maybe I'll write more following up on this but I can't say for sure.

Contains some rough language.

Returning from bathing in the river, Callisto stopped momentarily in the shadows of a huge old tree. In the moonlight a tall muscular woman seemed to actually be murmuring to her horse which was nuzzling at her auburn hair. Callisto had never seen her stallion do that with anyone. She stepped forward not attempting to be silent. The woman glanced up at her approach and the horse stopped its actions. Callisto studied her. The stranger carried a bow and quiver of arrows and wore a simple garment leaving one breast bare, supposedly the way Amazons did in the old days. She was even barefoot.

Callisto sarcastically asked, "And just who might YOU be and what are you doing with my horse? Do you know Ephiny? Decided to cut out the middle Centaur and go right for it?"

"I am Goddess of the Moon, the Hunt and of all wild things." The voice was high and feminine but with something inhuman about it, like the cry of an eagle.

Callisto felt the hair on her arms and at the base of her neck stand up. "How do I know you're Artemis?"

"Shall I change you into a mouse and let a sparrowhawk devour you?"

Callisto smiled, "Sounds exciting...think I'll pass though. Say you're Artemis...what's a tomboy like you want with little old me?"

"Show respect. You helped defeat Velasca who greatly offended me, and as a wild untamed creature I have an interest in you. But do not test my good will." Artemis spoke calmly but Callisto's stallion reared up in fear and the warrior herself felt something like a chill go through her.

Callisto had a mocking answer ready. Before she could utter it she felt something, looked down and saw weasels, snakes, rats, lizards, even moles coming out of the earth, running over her feet. The ground around her was carpeted with twisting living things. She would be eaten alive if the next words out of her mouth displeased the goddess.

"You oughta open up a pet shop. Maybe you could afford an outfit that covered both tits."

Artemis smiled slightly and the creatures scurried and slithered away. She spoke again in that high inhuman voice, "A wild thing, one of my own. How can I punish you for following your nature? As well punish the leopard for stalking the stag and the stag for bounding away on swift hooves. But be wise, Callisto. A mad animal must be destroyed for the balance of all things."

"I'm no fucking animal!" the blonde warrior snarled and reached for her sword.

Artemis quickly took an arrow from her quiver, drew back her bow and loosed it. Callisto screamed in rage as she was hit, but instead of feeling pain saw a blinding light and heard the cries, shrieks and roars of a thousand creatures, felt herself both hunter and hunted. She was a hawk soaring and a rodent cowering at the great winged shadow. Tearing at flanks with sharp claws and sinking long teeth into a quivering throat, her own side exploded in pain and her own blood filled her mouth. Artemis was in her silvery chariot riding across the sky in pursuit of her twin, Apollo. Callisto saw the Moon itself going through its phases and felt her own body responding with the tides.

The warrior discovered herself lying on the ground with her horse looking curiously at her. From the position of the stars hours had passed. Unsteadily she got to her feet, looked down at where the arrow had struck her and discovered a tiny scar like a crescent moon between her breasts. She walked to her horse and found a bow and quiver of arrows neatly tied to the saddle. The blonde warrior frowned and glared up at the shining moon which was doubly reflected in her mad brown eyes.

"Am I supposed to be your favorite now or something?" she asked aloud, suspiciously.

When there was only silence Callisto yelled to the night, "Ares couldn't tell me what to do and you can't either!"

The warrior looked around furiously as if that would summon the goddess back. "What do you want?" she said suddenly desperate. She screamed madly at the moon, "I don't belong to you! I'm not an animal!"

There was no answer except the silhouette of a hawk's wing passing before the crescent moon. A breeze came up that rustled black branches in the surrounding forest and wafted Callisto's blonde hair.

A melodious voice said behind her, "I shoulda known. Seems obvious now. No wonder you never worked out for me."

"Ares!" Callisto whirled. "You're behind this!" Her voice was relieved. She could handle Ares.

The God of War shook his head. "You were never panicked by me this way, I'm sorry to say. Yep, don't know how we all missed it."

Callisto hissed at him. "Artemis doesn't tell me what to do!"

Ares continued, "Xena better watch out. You nearly took her before but now.... Might work out good, actually. Maybe, this'll drive her back to me. She's sure gonna need help of some kind."

The handsome god was smiling at the furious woman. "Don't you get it, Callisto? Whatever you do will be what she wants. Like me and Xena used to be. I never had to tell her what I wanted. Don't be so contrary, though that's your nature, I suppose. Artemis would probably compare you to some stubborn animal or other but I was never into that stuff." Ares disappeared in a blaze.

Callisto knitted her brows staring at the ground. She heard a sound and turning saw a spotted leopard watching her. Her horse began neighing in fear but Callisto found she could will him to be calm and he was. The blonde warrior squatted down and just watched the big cat approach. They looked in each other's eyes, then Callisto reached out and began scratching the leopard behind his ears.

Callisto rose and walked to her horse which she mounted. The leopard followed, stopped beside the horse and waited. The blonde smiled widely and looked at the moon again, held an arm out and the hawk she had glimpsed before flew to land on her wrist.

"Oh, Xena!" she said with relish.

The End