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Disclaimer: The following story contains some violence, some blood, some adult language, and a teeny bit of sexual innuendo. If you are under 18 or canít stand this sort of story line, please hit the back key on the command bar.

One Body, Another Soul

By Jeff Jenkins

1

Jett sighed. It had been almost a month since he was captured by Xena trying to kill Cleopatra. After his arrest, he had been placed in a cell with a hell of a lot of common prisoners. Most recognized him--They should, he thought, most of them worked with me. Then after business, I left them out to dry--and crushed each other into the cell walls, giving him a wide berth. One face stood out in particular here--it was Linus.

"Linus!" he said, approaching a short, fair-haired man, "I never thought Iíd see you again. Not after you blew my cover when I tried to kill Helen of Troy."

"It wasnít my fault," the short man stuttered, "I was captured by Trojan guards. They threatened death unless I told them what I was doing!"

"You should have just shut up and died," Jett said, placing emphasis on the last word. "The executionerís ax would have been quicker than my plan for you. I would have killed you slowly, dismembering you limb by limb, disemboweling you, and then cutting your fucking head off! I heard the head can still see its body for about thirty seconds after being cut, and I wanted to try it and see if it was true. But no, guards swarmed Troy so thickly that I had to run, losing a decent sized paycheck. But now, I found you again. This time, my plan will be carried out!" At that word, Jett pulled out what seemed to be a harmless nail file. He pushed a button and a blade snapped out, about six inches in length. "Of course, that plan will be abandoned. The new one--a quick and efficient hole in the throat."

Jett raised the switchblade, ready to cut the exposed throat, when a deep, dark voice said from behind him, "Not your plan, Jett, but mine." Jett pushed Linus away to the ground, and turned 180 degrees, knife in hand. Ares stood before him. Ares sighed, "Jett, youíre going to try to kill the god of war with a switchblade. I think not." Ares raised a hand briefly, let a lightning bolt fly that hit the switchblade. Immediately it melted, and the hot, liquid metal dripped on his wrist.

Jett dropped the remnant of the blade to the floor, saying, "Gods damnit!" Ares looked surprised t the choice of words, and Jett caught the glaze of angry eyes beneath the exterior. He dropped his head and muttered, "Sorry about the choice of words." Jett went on to ask, "What do you want with me, Ares?"

Ares chuckled, and answered, "I want this." He threw another bolt of lighting at Jettís chest, stopping his heart completely. "Now thatís a shocker." He picked up Jettís dead body, and disappeared with it again.

That night, Linus caught a rat and sacrificed it to Ares.

2

Twilight gleamed in the western sky. Xena and Gabrielle stopped to make camp for the night. Xena led Argo by her bridle to a nearby meadow, where the mare could graze. Gabrielle unrolled their bedrolls, and went off to collect firewood. When the girl returned, she found Xena removing her armor. Gabrielle laid down the firewood, and set off to lighting it. When this was done, Gabrielle opened a pouch she carried. In this pouch was dried food Gabrielle carried for situations like this. All this work was done in considerably silence. Too silent, thought Xena. Gabrielle would normally be chatting her head off by now.

However, a snap of dry branches in the woods took Xenaís mind off this. She jumped up, drew her sword, and stood waiting for whatever was advancing towards them. A dim, vague figure could be seen emerging from some brush. In the end, Gabrielle got the better of her with her sight. "Hippocrates!" the bard cried out. "I havenít seen you since I almost crossed to the other side!"

The doctor paused a moment, confused, wondering whose voice was greeting him. The pause was just too long. Gabrielle had jumped off the log she was sitting on and had grabbed him in a tight bearhug. "Gabrielle, its you," he muttered. "Ah, could you please lighten up a bit? I canít breathe!"

The girl stepped back, saying quietly, "Oh. Sorry."

Xena stepped up to Hippocrates, saying, "What brings you around this are of the hills?"

Hippocrates replied, "Iím trying to escape from Ares. Youíre the only one who can deal with him, Xena. He claims I owe him a favor, when I donít. I want no part in his evil work."

Gabrielle could tell at this point the warrior princess and Hippocrates needed time alone. She said, "Xena, Iíll go look after Argo," even though she knew the horse was perfectly fine. Gabrielle left the area to the meadow where the mare was now grazing.

"Ares wants your help?" asked Xena. "For what?"

"Thatís the problem, Xena. I have no clue. Iím not going to do his work, no matter what."

Xena got up. Hippocrates seemed very nervous to her. Too nervous, even though a god, of them all Ares, was on his tail. To lighten up the mood a bit, she asked, "Say, what happened to Galen?"

"Galen? Xena, he thought no one could ever be brought back from the dead. When you proved him wrong, it shocked him badly." The doctor took a moment to reminisce, "As a matter of fact, shortly after you left, he slipped into senility. He died six months later."

"Oh. Sorry," said Xena, repeating Gabrielle. She was still pacing, and at this point was heading away from Hippocrates. Hippocrates reached into his cloak, and brought out a small, compact dart. When Xena began to turn, Hippocrates aimed, and fired. The dart landed right into Xenaís left shoulder, much like Callistoís dart had. The sleeping medications in the dart took effect quickly, and the warrior princess fell to the hard earth. Hippocrates took this as his cue to run, and so he did.

3

Hippocrates kept moving, even though he was rapidly tiring. He had no answers to how long Xena would be unconscious. So the doctor ran mile after mile, until he reached Aresí temple. Ares had seen him long before, and waited patiently inside. Hippocrates gave a startled gasp as he stopped six inches from Ares.

"You were successful, werenít you Hippocrates?" asked the war god. "You delivered the package, correct?"

"Yes, my lord." answered Hippocrates. "Xena fell quickly, just as you said."

"Good," said Ares. "Now, its time for the fun part. Are you ready?"

"I regret taking any part in this . . . experiment!" Hippocrates suddenly shouted.

Aresí face took on a look of contempt. "You will listen to me, whelp. You were in trouble with Zeus because you raised people from the dead, and worse, made a profit from it. I came to your aid, and prevented you from being toasted. And now you canít even do a favor for the being who saved your life?!"

Hippocrates, suddenly humble again, replied, "Iím sorry for that outburst, Master Ares." Then he added, "It is time."

Ares gave an evil chuckle. "You are so right."

4

Gabrielle had heard no noise from the campsite for five minutes, so she left, thinking Hippocrates had departed. The girl returned to find Xena on the ground, unconscious. Lodged in her left shoulder was the dart Hippocrates had thrown. "Hippocrates.", Gabrielle mumbled angrily. Her mind suddenly was divided. How could a decent man like Hippocrates do that, one side said, I mean, another warrior could have done that. The other side replied, Yeah, likely. Only a doctor like Hippocrates would know how to use a dart so effectively as a weapon. Besides Callisto, of course.

Xena moaned, briefly regaining consciousness. Gabrielle asked, "Xena, who did this to you? Who threw this dart at you?"

Xena vomited blood, then replied weakly, "Hippocrates." With this one word, her head dropped to the forest floor again.

5

Ares presented Hippocrates with an impressive array of surgical tools. On two tables before them were the bodies of Jett and Meleager the Mighty. Hippocrates remembered how Meleager was captured. He had cornered Meleager one day, and had thrown another dart at him, much like the one Xena had taken. In fact, the solution inside the dart was the same. Meleager had held on for a minute or two, but had quickly fallen. Ares then appeared behind him to take the unconscious body.

One part of Hippocratesí mind had opposed using these darts. The solution had been made by himself, under Aresí commands. However, the solution contained a fatal disease that had no cure. Many people called it the Liquefying Disease since it liquefied a personís internal organs completely. However, outbreaks were rare and usually occurred in sailors who had just returned from lands with very warm and rainy forests. Anyway anyone looked at this disease, one word came into mind--death.

Hippocrates shifted these thoughts aside and said, "What do you want me to do, lord Ares?"

Ares grinned each time the doctor called him Ďmasterí or Ďlordí. "I want you to open the skulls of each, much like when Hephaestus opened my fatherís skull so Athena could be born. Once youíre finished with that, take the brains out, switch them, and implant them again." Ares went on and continued, "You see, Hippocrates, mortal personalities are contained in the brain. Switch someoneís brain and you switch someoneís personalities. Get to work now."

Hippocrates needed no further word. Within half an hour, he was done with the procedures, and had also sewn the skin over the skull back to the body on each. "What now, my lord?" the doctor asked.

Ares replied, "This will be even more fun." He took his hands, hovered them over Meleager, and they started to glow. "I know Meleager died during the operation. But I will bring him back to life, and heal all the injuries he has suffered." The glow stopped. Hippocrates put a hand on Meleagerís wrist and felt a pulse. Meleager was alive again.

"What about Jett, Ares my master?" asked Hippocrates.

"Good question, doctor," said Ares, "As for him, he will be cremated so Meleagerís real personality will never exist again. And because he is in Jettís body, he will be sent to Tartarus to pay for Jettís past deeds." Ares once again outstretched his hands, and lightning shot from them. Jettís body began to turn black as it burned, and the room was filled with the stench of charred flesh. Eventually, nothing was left of Jett but ashes. Ares lowered his hands, took in a deep breath, and blew Jettís ashes everywhere. A smile was on his face as if Ares enjoyed this sort of thing.

Meanwhile, Meleagerís body rose up. It looked around at Hippocrates, and grabbed it with two strong hands around his neck. "Where am I?" he boomed. "And where is Ares?"

Ares lowered Meleagerís hands. "Jett, youíve had a body change. That was my plan. Go look in the mirror. See who you are, now."

Meleager got off the table, went over to a small table with a mirror on it. He looked at himself in the mirror, screamed, and threw the mirror on the floor, shattering it. "Iím in Meleagerís body!", Jett screamed, "Iím in the body of the man that ruined my mission to kill Helen of Troy!"

"Thatís why Meleager was part of the plan, Jett." said Ares. "You can now get revenge on him for ruining your plans."

"I remember the plan, Ares," Jett said, "If I killed Helen of Troy, you would give me ambrosia, thus making me a god."

Hippocrates trembled as he asked, "Why Helen of Troy, my master?"

Ares looked at Hippocrates with contempt, "Are you still here? All right, I will answer your question, then you are free from my service. If Jett killed Helen of Troy during the Trojan war, an even bloodier war would have erupted with each side blaming the other for her death. Meleager stopped Jett from accomplishing the mission, thus preventing such a war."

Jett smiled coldly, "Maybe this wasnít such a bad plan after all. Iím still alive, everyone will think Iím Meleager the Mighty, I wonít be arrested on sight anymore, and Iíll have my revenge on Meleager."

"Thatís the plan, Jett," Ares said with an equally evil smile, "Thatís the plan." Both then looked for Hippocrates, but he was nowhere to be found. The doctor had run off while Jett and Ares were talking.


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