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by Jeff Jenkins
Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, Iolaus, and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess™ and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys™, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
This story uses profanity at times, depicts scenes of violence, and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of language and/or depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
Also, this story depicts Joxer being crucified very similar to the Biblical crucifixion. Anyone who is sensitive to this may wish to read something other than this story.
It was a gorgeous evening to be out. The climate was mild, and the only insects around were the fireflies. Sitting on a log, Meleager sighed, with one hand on his sword, another on a sharpening stone. This is the best evening I've had since that attempted execution, he thought, and my luck, I have to spend it sharpening my sword. The warrior had to sharpen his sword because it was another busy day, protecting villages from marauders, etc. Meleager sharpened his sword with such intensity that he didn't hear someone walk up on him. All of a sudden the warrior felt a sharp pain in his spine. Either someone's just killed me, Meleager thought before blacking out, or I've been poisoned. Meleager fell off the log he was sitting on, and sprawled onto the forest floor.
* * *
Hippocrates stood behind Meleager's back, watching the aging warrior first wobble, than fall. He hated doing it, but one part of his task was now done. The only consolation was that Meleager just got a very large dose of a sleeping potion instead of poison. Meleager wouldn't wake up for at least three days.
"So, you done here Hippocrates?" asked a voice over his shoulder. The doctor knew that voice-- it belonged to Ares.
Hippocrates turned around, and said, "Yes, my lord."
The god of war responded, "Very good." Ares spoke no more. Instead, he pointed a finger at Meleager's unconscious body. A small bolt of lightning shot from his hand, covered Meleager's unconscious being, and disappeared, lightning and all. Ares suddenly spoke again, "You know what to do now, Hippocrates." With that, Ares disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
Not far from where Meleager once sat sharpening his sword, Xena and Gabrielle just had finished setting up camp when a figure, dressed in a black cloak, started coming closer. Noticing the figure, Xena said, "Halt! Who goes here?" The figure didn't seem to notice, it kept coming closer. When the figured revealed their head from under the cloak, Gabrielle recognized it immediately.
"Hippocrates!" she exclaimed, and ran straight at him. The figure took this as a cue, and removed the cloak, and it was indeed Hippocrates. Hippocrates embraced Gabrielle, and then shook hands with Xena.
"Long time, Xena, Gabrielle," he began.
Xena had a confused look on her face. She said, "Weren't you supposed to be at your temple?"
Hippocrates answered, "That place? Nah, I decided to become a doctor and heal others without help from the gods. Besides, it's not the same without Galen there, anyway."
"What happened to Galen?" asked the warrior princess
"He couldn't believe you saved lives without any divine help," the doctor responded, "He slipped into senility and died about a year later."
Both continued to talk, unaware that Gabrielle had walked off into the woods.
* * *
Gabrielle had decided to leave since she felt she had no place in that conversation. I won't press things this time, she thought, but I wish Xena would let me talk as well. Besides, with Hippocrates here, we'll probably need extra firewood tonight. The bard then set off to collect some extra firewood, since Xena and Hippocrates would still probably be talking after sunset.
* * *
Hippocrates got off the subject of Galen, saying, "Xena, I need your help. I've decided to help humanity by wiping a dangerous disease off the face of the planet."
Xena, amused, asked, "What disease, Hippocrates?"
The doctor looked at the forest floor nervously, and finally spoke. "I doubt you've heard about this one, Xena. I first saw the effects of it myself about a month after I left the temple. I don't remember where I was, but I was walking on a very rocky coastline." The doctor put his hands to his forehead, as in deep thought, and continued, "A ship-- An Athenian ship if I remember correctly-- sailed directly into the rocks. I hurried down to a nearby beach, and looked for any survivors. There was only one. I helped the poor man to his feet by touching his hand. As soon as I touched it, blood oozed out of his skin."
Xena at this point looked both interested and irritated. She sternly said, "Get to the point, Hippocrates."
Hippocrates, knowing an irritated warrior is always the worst, said, "He looked at me, and laughed. Blood flew out in long, ropy strands. He finally said, 'Boy, you've just seen the signs of the Liquefying Disease. Don't get too close, or you'll catch it too. It's so contagious.' With that, he collapsed, laughing like a lunatic, and died there on the shore."
Xena looked the doctor in the eyes, and said, "Part of me wants to believe you, Hippocrates, but the other says what you just said is a whole lot of shit." Thinking, the warrior turned her back on Hippocrates. This was the chance Hippocrates was waiting for. The doctor drew a dart from a hidden sheath on his right hip-- and threw it. The dart hit its target perfectly square in Xena's spine, and the suddenness of the blow knocked her over to the ground on her chest. Trying to get up, she finally did until the sleeping potion took effect. Xena's eyes rolled up until only the whites were showing, and she fell back to the ground again. Hippocrates drew the dart from Xena's back, and ran like the wind for Ares' temple.
Gabrielle kept on collecting firewood until she realized she had a little too much. Dear Hestia, she thought, I collected enough firewood to last us for about three days. I better go back and check on Xena and Hippocrates. They're probably worried sick about me. The bard rustled through the bushes back to the camp, and stopped cold. Gabrielle had stopped so because of the sight of one Xena sprawled out on the ground. Ares, the bard thought immediately, but Gabrielle soon eliminated him. Xena's one of his chosen, he wouldn't do that to a chosen one.
A wind blew, rustling the trees, so that a bit of light from the setting sun glinted off a piece of glass. Gabrielle moved over, and picked the object up. It was a syringe. More specifically, a doctor's syringe. Hippocrates, the Amazon Queen thought, how could he? Then a more disturbing thought entered the bard's mind. He used us both.
Gabrielle put the thought of her head, and turned Xena's body upright on the ground. That done, she took two blankets. The bard placed one on the ground, and moved Xena's body onto it, and the other Gabrielle placed on Xena's body to prevent shock.
* * *
Hippocrates kept on running from Xena and Gabrielle's camp as his life was at stake if he stopped, which it wasn't. However, the doctor thought amusingly, the worst bard is an angry bard. He uttered a small chuckle, and kept running. Ares' temple was now only about two and a half miles away.
The ruckus made by all the convicts in the local jail made a very large din. It both irritated and depressed Jett at the same time. All these stupid thugs just want to stay here so they can get the same disgusting food day in and day out for free, thought the assassin, instead of living a man's life, which I intend to do again. Jett thought no more about the subject then until a small, compact man was hurled to the left of him into a stone wall. Getting up, Jett recognized the face, even though it was bruised and battered. It was Linus, a former business partner of his.
Linus recognized Jett the instant he saw him, and backed away from the assassin. Jett began speaking to Linus, "Hello pip-squeak, remember me? Your business partner whom you ratted on?"
The little man, incredibly nervous, muttered, "I-I-I couldn’t help it, Jett. I was ca-captured by guards, and forced to sp-speak. It was either speak or," the little man gulped as he said it, "die."
Jett continued to walk towards him. "The smart thing to do was to die, Linus. My greatest plan in life was to abduct Helen of Troy, and then kill her. Both sides would've blamed the other, and the Trojan War would still be raging on, making my former master Ares very happy. But you screwed up royally, ruining my plans. You're job was to warn me of guards, not get caught by guards, especially that drunkard Meleager the Mighty. So, I forget that plan, and created a new one: track you down and kill you painfully, slowly. Since we're in a jailhouse though, this will have to do".
At that moment, Jett popped out a switchblade, pressed a white button on the handle, and eight inches of sharp blade popped out. Linus' mouth opened to protest when a cloud of smoke appeared in the cell. It was Ares. The god of war said to Jett, "I've come to free you, Jett. Come with me. I have big plans for you."
Jett backed off. "Get away from me, Ares. I'm not your chosen one anymore, okay? I have no interest in your plans. The last one I attempted got me jailed and almost executed if I hadn't escaped from Troy."
Ares sighed. "You leave me no choice but to use force, Jett." Ares lifted his right hand, and a bolt of lighting shot out and hit Jett in the chest, stopping his heart. The god of war then looked at the rest of the convicts, and addressed them, "By the way, only Jett leaves this cell. If you try to approach his body or me, you will wish you never have."
One convict, who apparently wasn't listening, rushed towards Ares, shouting, "Chose me, Ares! I'll do your will and I'll always follow you! I'm a great...," the man's words were cut off as Ares forced the man to the floor. Ares than placed his fingers in the man's eye sockets. Most of the convicts in the room winced at the popping sound, and a few teetered on the brink of being sick when they saw the fluid from the popped eyes drip down the screaming man's face. Ares than threw the man like a bowling ball into the stone wall on the opposite side of the cell. The man hit the wall so hard his body exploded on impact, showering everyone in the room except Ares with the convict's blood, guts, innards, and bones. The poor man's skull landed at Linus' feet, who then fainted from all the excitement.
Ares then cast the same lightning bolt he had used on Meleager's body, and a cloud enveloped Jett's body, and disappeared, body and all. With that, the god of war disappeared in a cloud of smoke, leaving the prisoners to explain why there was blood and guts everywhere to the guards.
Hippocrates entered Ares' temple, out of breath, at the same time Ares appeared from the cell. Hippocrates approached the god of war, kneeled, and asked, "What now, great master?"
"Up to you feet, friend," said Ares, "your real work begins now."
* * *
Ares led the doctor down many small passageways, some lit only with one candle. When the pair finally stopped, Hippocrates saw a room with a large wooden table in the center. Lying on the table, as if they were in state, were Jett and Meleager. Ares moved around the table to the back of the room, and opened a drawer. Inside were a scroll, one of the supposed Lost Love Scrolls of Aphrodite, and a wooden box. "Open it," the god of war said finally, "It's a surprise."
Looking inside, Hippocrates saw a whole array of modern medical tools. But the doctor looked up and saw Ares opening the scroll, as if to read it. Ares motioned for Hippocrates to join him in the back of the room, away from the tools and the bodies. Ares whispered to Hippocrates, "If you tell anyone I read this scroll, Hades will have to put you back together again in the underworld."
Beginning, Ares read:
"Bards write that emotion is of mortal hearts
that all emotion comes forth and from it parts
As like the bards wrote it, is shall come to be
This belief will become these two's destiny."
Finishing it, thunder cracked in the room, and two pink bolts of lightning appeared on the chests of both Meleager and Jett. "That's what I get for reading this scroll," the god of war said to Hippocrates, "I get two bolts of Aphrodite's lightning."
After the lightning disappeared, Ares said to Hippocrates, "Now famous doctor of all Greece, you will attempt the first heart transplant successfully." The force of these words drove Hippocrates straight to the box of surgical tools. Any planned protest from the doctor went unheard.
The doctor was about to start the operation when he said, "Master Ares, won't these two feel any pain?"
Ares, looking irritated now, replied, "What do you think? They're both unconscious, idiot."
Hippocrates, whose cheeks were turning red, began.
* * *
The operation was bloody, and by the time Hippocrates was finished, blood was everywhere, on him, on the floor, the walls, even the ceiling. Well, thought the doctor, everywhere but on Ares. All in all, Hippocrates thought that about seven pints of blood were lost from each body, killing them both right and proper.
But Hippocrates saw a problem Ares didn't; he decided to speak, "My lord, there seems to be a slight problem: both bodies are dead."
Ares, with an evil twinkle in his eyes, replied, "I'll see what I can do." He lifted his right hand, and created a yellow circle that spread over Meleager's body, saying, "You can check the pulse on Meleager's body now, Hippocrates. He's very much alive."
Taking his other hand, Ares shot an intensely white bolt of lightning at Jett's body. Soon the smell of charred flesh filled the room, and in a short while, all that was left of Jett's body was a black pile of ashes. The god of war drew in a deep breath, and blew it over Jett's ashes, spreading them everywhere.
Hippocrates piped up, "Excuse my intrusion my lord, but what was the purpose of this operation?"
Ares looked back at him, and said, "Dear doctor, you've created history twice today. You're the first doctor to perform a heart transplant as well as a personality transplant. In other words, Jett now inhabits Meleager's body, and vice-versa."
Gabrielle sat on a log, fuming at Hippocrates. If he ever shows his face around me again, he's a dead man. Gabrielle sighed despite her anger towards Hippocrates, and placed another blanket on Xena's body.
* * *
At the mention of his name by Ares, Jett (in Meleager's body), sat up, looked at Ares, and shouted, "You! I said I never wanted to be in your plans again!"
Ares shrugged, and motioned for Hippocrates to hand Jett a mirror. Jett took it, looked at himself, and screamed, "I'm in the body of the man I despise the most! Why, Ares, why?! What did I do wrong?! Where..." Ares cut off his words.
Ares explained, "I did it for two reasons, Jett. One: you can go around without people ever knowing its you. Easy way to do things. And two: I know Meleager ruined your chance to fulfill my plans at Troy. This is your chance to ruin any hope of him being remembered for his good works."
While Jett and Ares were going at it, Hippocrates slipped out of the room, and ran away from the temple. His new mission: to tell Gabrielle how he got involved with this entire mess.
Hippocrates kept running from Ares' temple. He kept on going, even though his heart, lungs, and feet begged him to stop. I can't stop, he thought, I've created a monster no one except Hercules or Xena could stop. With that thought in his head, Hippocrates remembered the deed he had done-- that he shot Xena in the shoulder with a very deadly dart. The doctor very dearly wanted to go back. Even if I do, he thought, there's nothing I could do, and on top of that, if Gabrielle knows I did that, she'd skin me alive. Hippocrates boosted up his courage, stopped a moment to rest, and then started running again.
* * *
Joxer kept walking through the forest, looking for Xena. He had a message from the jail where his brother Jett had been. The jailkeeper said that Jett had called on Ares to kill a man. The end result: the man was nothing more than slime now, and Jett had escaped. I can't believe my brother would do this, he thought, not since he had almost died because of Ares.
Jett still scowled at Ares. Ares reopened the conversation, saying, "Aren't you going after Hippocrates, Jett? He could tell Gabrielle, who then could tell Hercules. After all, that irritating blonde is still in the vicinity."
Jett recognized Ares' point, but he refused to move, still angered by the fact that he was stuck in the body of a wuss, much less the person he hated most of all. Ares sighed, and said, "Jett, if Hippocrates leaks this story, your chances to ruin Meleager's honor will be approximately the same as a snowball's chances in Tartarus." But who would believe something like that, the god of war thought, even if Hippocrates said something to the common mortal, they'd think he'd gone soft in the head.
Ares turned his back on the warrior, and walked over to a table. A chalice of wine suddenly appeared. The god of war placed an index finger on the chalice, and a green light appeared for a fraction of a second. He said, "Here, think it over a cup of wine."
Jett accepted the cup, and drank it. Almost instantly, the same green light appeared in his eyes. Ares chuckled, and said, "You are now under my power. You will be on a quest to find Hippocrates until someone's lifeblood is on the ground. Now go!"
Jett nodded slowly, got off the table, and walked out of the temple.
* * *
Joxer was still going, almost running, when he tripped over a branch in his way. He fell to the ground, and started moaning in pain, not far from where Gabrielle was, tending Xena. Hearing the moans, Gabrielle poked her head over him. "Ahh!" they both said together.
"Joxer," Gabrielle began, "what are you doing here?"
"My brother," Joxer said, "He apparently called on Ares to kill someone, then to help him escape." He paused, and asked, "Say, where's Xena?"
Gabrielle pointed at Xena's body, which now looked like a breathing carcass.
Joxer began to look sick, then actually was sick, vomiting at Gabrielle's feet. After that, he fainted. Gabrielle sighed, and pulled a blanket over him to prevent any shock.
* * *
Jett was fast on the trail of Hippocrates, but missed one crucial turn. This turn actually led him faster to where Gabrielle, one unconscious Joxer, and one very sick Xena lay.
Jett continued running at a steady pace, the same pace he had when he left Ares' temple five miles ago. When he came upon Joxer and Xena laying on the ground, he became suspicious. Hippocrates must be here, he thought, who else would be able to take care of Xena and my brother? His question was answered when Gabrielle appeared from behind a tall bush. He grunted, and drew his sword.
* * *
Gabrielle had needed to collect firewood to boil water for tonight's dinner, Well, my dinner, anyway, the bard thought, and had checked out various locales to see if there were any good hardwoods. She hadn't heard Jett enter the camp as she was out collecting wood, since she was so focused on it. As she returned to the camp, she saw the white hair of an old man's head over a bush. Who is that?, she thought. Gabrielle discovered the answer when she took her staff and walked out from behind the bush.
Gabrielle recognized Meleager's face at once. "Meleager!" she cried. "It's been so long!"
"Shut up, bitch." Those three words in reply brought Gabrielle to a dead stop, shivering. They were so cold. That seemed like something the old Xena would say. And the old Xena was a murderer.
Jett continued his interrogation. "Where is he?"
Gabrielle was confused by what was going on. "Who?"
"Don't lie. You know who-- Hippocrates. I know he's hiding here someplace."
Gabrielle became defensive saying, "I would never have Hippocrates here. I wouldn't even give him a dinar to buy bread if he had a starving family."
Jett, easily angered, now said, "Stop lying. I know he's here, and if you continue to lie, there will be consequences." He positioned his sword into a defensive stance.
Gabrielle, feeling hurt by Meleager (actually Jett, remind you, but Gabrielle still doesn't know it), said, "Hippocrates is not here! I would not have him here! Get that through your dense skull!"
Jett raised Meleager's sword in the air, as if to thrust it through Gabrielle's chest. Gabrielle took her staff and brought it into a defensive stance. Jett thrust the sword down, missing Gabrielle's chest, but instead hit her staff smack in the middle. Seeing his sword was now stuck in the bard's staff, he thrust the sword sharply to his right, throwing the staff into a wooded area. He then raised the sword, slashed Gabrielle's left arm, and quickly turned the sword around and slashed her left leg. The force of the blows drove Gabrielle down onto the ground, but she couldn't get herself up again. Her leg was cut too badly. Jett stood over her, and had already readied the sword for one final thrust.
Joxer was awakened by all the commotion going on around him. He sat up, groggily, and saw Meleager first break Gabrielle's staff in half, then slash her left arm. I have no clue to who that is, he thought, but I have to help Gabrielle. He got up, removed the sword from his scabbard, despite the compund fracture in his arm, and walked over to the two.
* * *
Jett glanced at the sword after slashing Gabrielle's left arm and leg, then took two fingers and traced a circle around the tip of the blade, which was covered in the bard's blood. Jett than took his fingers and placed them in his mouth, as if he were checking the quality of Gabrielle's blood. Gabrielle looked shocked, and pale, when she saw Jett had done that with a smile on his face. He then readied Meleager's sword for a thrust that would go through Gabrielle's chest, killing her, when he saw Joxer. He fell off his guard for one moment, then repositioned the sword at Gabrielle's throat. "I'm sorry, Joxer, but you cannot interfere. Move any closer, and your friend here dies."
Joxer kept moving forward. Jett said, "This is the last warning, Joxer. If you want to live with the fact you killed a friend, be my guest."
It seemed to Gabrielle that Joxer had gone deaf. Gods, I wish he would stop walking near us, she thought, Joxer, please leave the two of us be.
Joxer then did an unexpected move. He attacked Jett, who was forced to parry Joxer. Both continued to parry their swords for several moves, until Jett got the upper hand. Joxer's sword was almost at Jett's neck except that Jett's sword blocked the other sword. With one hard push of his sword, Jett sent his brother's sword through the air for about ten feet. Joxer turned around to look at his sword. Jett used the advantage by punching Joxer in the side of his head. With that, Joxer fell unconscious again.
Gabrielle tried to walk over to Joxer, but found out that any movement caused her profusely bleeding limbs to bleed even more. The bard could only watch as Jett walked into the nearby forest and drag out a cross he had made the day before, along with a warhammer and three spikes.
Jett placed Joxer's unconscious form on the cross, which lay on the ground, and aligned the limbs just so. Jett had placed the first spike on Joxer's left arm and raise the warhammer. The warhammer came crashing down on the spike, pushing it through flesh until it reached wood.
The pain woke Joxer instantly, who began screaming.
Unfazed, Jett placed the second spike on Joxer's right arm, lifted the warhammer, and did the same. Finally, he placed the third spike on Joxer's feet, and repeated the process for the last time.
During the whole time, Joxer kept screaming in pain and agony, while Jett was busy hoisting the cross off the ground, and into the air. Eventually Jett settled for the cross to lean against a tree trunk. Finished, he drew his sword again, and poked it into Joxer's right side. Convinced his brother was going to die, Jett began to leave when Ares' spell was broken. He blinked, looked at his dying brother, then at the bleeding Gabrielle, and then at his bloody hands. Jett dropped his sword and ran into the forest.
* * *
Gabrielle finally managed to get up, after crawling to get her staff, then using the staff as a crutch. The bard looked at the dying Joxer, who had blood dripping from the wounds on his wrists, feet, and side.
Joxer looked down at the woman he loved, and said, "All my life I've been a fool. My whole family has fighting talent but me. Even my mother. I should've stuck with music."
Gabrielle countered, "Joxer, that last act proved you always were a warrior, even if just in heart."
Joxer replied, "Heart. You and Xena had plenty of heart for having to deal with me all the time. The only reason I stayed around was that I loved you, Gabrielle. Otherwise, after we first met, I probably wouldn't have seen you again."
The bard asked, "You did it out of love?!"
He answered, "Exactly." Joxer looked at Gabrielle again, and raised his head. He said, "Hermes, to you I release my spirit." With that, he exhaled his last breath, closed his eyes, and hung his head.
* * *
It was impossible for Gabrielle to get Joxer off his cross, so instead she started a funeral pyre at the base of the cross. She watched it as the pole of the cross began to burn upwards, towards Joxer's dead body. Eventually, the whole cross was ablaze. Soon afterward, the bard turned around, and began to cry.
Gabrielle didn't know it, but someone watched her cry that evening. It was Hippocrates. What a mess I've created, he thought, and I have to clean it up now. However, the doctor stayed away from Gabrielle's camp until almost noon the next day.
* * *
Hippocrates was sneaking in on Gabrielle's camp when he stepped on a loose twig. The twig snapped, and the bard turned around, staff in defense position. Hippocrates stepped forward, hands over his head. Gabrielle's face turned red with anger, and said, "How dare you come back after what you did! Turning my best friend into a breathing corpse, and being responsible for another turning into a corpse period. I oughta beat you good."
The Amazon Queen decided to take her own advice, and attacked the doctor with her staff, giving him two quick blows across the face. Seeing that Hippocrates still stood, Gabrielle used her staff as a battering ram, shoving the end into the doctor's stomach. However, Hippocrates refused to fall. Angered beyond belief, Gabrielle planted her staff in the ground and kicked the doctor in the midsection so hard that he flew off the ground and hit a tree on the head twenty-five feet away. After all this, she realized that the gashes on her arm and leg were bleeding again, and collapsed on the ground.
After hitting the tree, Hippocrates collapsed to the ground not far from her. He soon rose, now with a seriously broken nose, and spat on the ground. Besides saliva, the bard saw the doctor spit out quite a bit of blood and about five teeth. The sight almost made Gabrielle vomit as well. Hippocrates said, "I deserved that. I've been quite a bastard and I know it. I must implore you to forgive me, Gabrielle. I know what is happening to Xena, and how to cure it. The decision is yours."
Gabrielle, torn between her hatred of Hippocrates, and the needs of her friend Xena, had to choose her friend. "I-I can't forgive you right now, Hippocrates. I'm still too angry at you. Especially what you did to Xena."
The doctor answered, "But what tipped you off, Gabrielle?"
The bard removed the syringe she found from her purse, which was hanging off a nearby tree branch. "This," she replied.
Hippocrates sighed, and said, "Gabrielle, if you want, I'll tell how I came to be involved with Ares in this mixed-up mess."
"Ares?" Gabrielle asked. She calmed down, and replied, "So talk."
Hippocrates noticed that there was perhaps one hour, two at max, of sunlight left. He said to Gabrielle, "Give me ten minutes. I'll go pick up some firewood. My story won't be finished until after sunset." With that, he strode into the woods.
Ten minutes later, On the dot, thought the bard, amusingly, Hippocrates returned with enough wood to keep a fire going until morning.
Hippocrates started by saying, "Not long after you and Xena left, life in the temple became pretty dull. However, before Xena left, she talked to me in private, and taught some of the things she knew. Not long after Xena left, Galen became senile, and I was left in charge of the temple. I stayed there until Galen died, knowing that if I left the temple, it would break his heart. After he died, I turned the temple over to an acolyte. I left the temple, with the desire to help all people of the world in medicine. I traveled to Athens, and set up a small clinic there.
"Business wasn't going so well, and I feared that I would have to close the clinic to pay off debts and taxes, until one day a wife of a powerful man in the Athenian government started choking on some olives that she had bought. I rushed to her, and managed to get the olives out of her windpipe. Before long, her husband had proclaimed what I had done all over Greece, and business was so booming that I closed the clinic and bought out some vacant farmland, and built a larger clinic on it. It was then I started to get greedy.
"I started charging prices on my services. At first a couple of dinars, but the price went up as I realized people would pay the price. Before the gods intervened, I was charging fifty dinars per patient. I was rather wealthy."
Gabrielle interrupted, saying, "What do you mean, 'Before the gods intervened?'"
"Patience," responded the doctor, "patience. Hades and the Fates were unhappy that I could and did bring many dead mortals back to life. Hades complained because it reduced the number of souls in his kingdom, and the Fates because it tangled up the threads of life. Zeus managed to avoid any action until he learned I was profiting at the gods' expense. He then sent Hermes with a message saying if I kept my practice going, Zeus would incinerate me."
"You better get to the point fast, Hippocrates, " said the bard.
"Fine, fine. I ignored Hermes's warning for one day, and next morning at dawn, Zeus himself awoke me. He told me he hated to kill me, but I was causing major unrest on Olympus. He led me outside, into a forest, and drew a lightning bolt. Ares then showed up."
Gabrielle's interest now perked, "Ares? Ares intervened for you?!"
The doctor nodded. "Ares said he'd see that I would raise no more mortals to life, and Zeus accepted this compromise. As soon as Zeus left, Ares claimed I owed my life to him, and I eventually believed him. Okay, and in this haze I helped Ares transfer the souls of two mortals, Jett and Meleager, into opposite bodies. Ares destroyed Jett's body, which had Meleager's soul in it, and raised the other back to life."
The bard turned her back on him, and said, "I don't now if I can believe you, Hippocrates, much less trust you anymore." Gabrielle grabbed the nearest waterskin, opened it, and went over to Xena. She tilted her friend's head back, and opened her mouth, pouring a small amount of water into it. Gabrielle concluded by helping Xena swallow. Hippocrates watched it as if it were a religious rite.
"I would," replied a voice. It belonged to a figure slowly coming into view in the newly started fire.
Jett walked into view, stopping momentarily to pick up Meleager's sword and sheath it. At the sight of him, Gabrielle almost fell over backwards. "You!" she cried. Jett walked into view, his figure lit up by the fire.
Hippocrates jumped. Gods, he thought, Ares sent him to kill me. But Jett made no motion of going for either of them. Instead, he sat down on a log, warming his hands by the fire. Looking closely, Gabrielle saw he was crying.
The bard gathered her courage, and said, "What's wrong, Meleager?"
Jett glanced at the Amazon Queen, and sighed. "First of all, Hippocrate's right. I am Jett. I'm just trapped in Meleager's body. And what's wrong? What's wrong?! If I'm Jett, then I just killed my own brother! Does that answer your question?!" The warrior began to sob. Neither the doctor or the bard had ever seen such emotion from a warrior, of all people.
Hippocrates noticed a flash of metal from a dagger Jett had in his sword belt. The doctor asked, "What's that?"
Jett pulled the dagger out, and replied, "This? Oh, just a dagger Ares gave me a long time ago."
Hippocrates questioned, "Could I see it for a second?"
The warrior shrugged his shoulders. "Sure," he said, handing it over to the doctor. While Hippocrates intents were focused on the dagger, Jett remarked to Gabrielle, "Ares gave me that as the weapon to use on Helen of Troy. And if I actually succeeded..."
Gabrielle finished, "Both sides would blame the other, and the war would still be raging."
Jett remarked, "Bingo."
A look of awe spread over Hippocrate's face. "This dagger belongs to my family. You have no idea how old it is."
Gabrielle interrupted, "How old?" she asked, seeming to forgot the hate she had for the doctor a few minutes ago.
Hippocrates answered, "Before the human race ever set foot on earth. This dagger just may save your friend, Gabrielle." He nodded towards the bard. "And this story will blow you away."
* * *
The doctor started, "Long before man first stepped on earth, great rivers of ambrosia actually flowed on earth. Of course Zeus dried these all up when mankind was created, but to continue, an ancestor of mine was actually a god. He found two springs of ambrosia deep in a cave once, and did something the gods never thought he would do. He cursed one of them, that any being who ever drank from it would live, but in eternal agony forever. He did nothing to the other. At that point, the battle between the Titans and Zeus was at its peak. This god fought on the side of Zeus, and took a Titan hostage after the battle."
The bard interrupted, "I thought all the Titans were locked in Tartarus by Zeus."
Hippocrates shrugged, "Not all of them. My ancestor placed the Titan in this cavern, and placed a spell on him freezing him forever in place until someone else reopened the cavern. Using this dagger, the god walked outside, found a large rock on the groun, and with this dagger and one pound of his wrist, created a keyhole in it. After doing so, he removed the dagger and cast a spell on the cavern entrance, sealing the cavern completely until someone would unlock it again with this dagger. Immediately following this, Zeus appeared behind him, and locked him in Tartarus with the Titans. However, he had fathered two children before his imprisonment. When these two grew to become full gods, Zeus stripped them of their godhood and left them as demi-gods.
Hippocrates then added, "But Zeus actually imprisoned this ancestor of godhood for another reason. He stole the dagger from Hephaestus, who had forged it for Zeus. Zeus and Hephaestus were both angered by this action. So the reasons for the curse."
Hippocrates concluded by saying, "So, who's up for it?"
Gabrielle asked, "Wouldn't Zeus have dried up that spring of ambrosia by now?"
The doctor answered, "No. The spell was so strong, not even Zeus could approach the cavern."
The bard then pledged her support. Unexpectedly, Jett also agreed. "I have to regain my honor somehow," he added.
Hippocrates then said, "Gabrielle, it might be best if I look at that arm and leg wound tomorrow morning. It'll probably need stitches. You don't want it to get infected, you know. Remember the gangrene man."
Gabrielle nodded, remembering that unpleasant memory. She added, "It might be best to get some sleep. Long day tomorrow."
All agreed, and while Hippocrates and Jett set out to make their own camp away from the bard and Xena, Gabrielle tended to Xena before retiring for the night.
Morpheus plagued their dreams that night. Jett continually dreamed the sequence which he killed his brother, Joxer, over and over. Xena was so far gone in unconsciousness she dreamt nothing. However, Gabrielle and Hippocrates experienced dreams so vivid than they ever dreamed.
Joxer appeared to Gabrielle in her dream:
Joxer said to Gabrielle, "Wake up, Gabby."
Gabrielle saw Joxer, and said, "You're still alive!"
Joxer shook his head sorrowfully. "I'm not. You've kept me alive in your mind, so I'm able to come to your in your dreams this one time. I'm here to help you, Gabrielle."
The bard asked, "With what?"
Joxer began reciting, "Keep a close eye on Hippocrates' dagger, Gabrielle. At the same time, watch out for the wearer of the Ring of Destruction. The bearer wants the dagger. If he succeeds, the two combined will make the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever known." Finishing, Joxer began to fade in Gabrielle's mind.
"Wait!" exclaimed the bard. "Will I ever see you again?"
"Not in your dreams , Gabrielle," explained Joxer, "Hades granted me this one last message. Tomorrow he will erase all my memories. Good-bye, Gabrielle, and I know you can do it." With that, Joxer faded, whistling the tune of his song, knowing it would be his last time.
Meleager appeared to Hippocrates in his dream:
Hippocrates found himself in the underworld, in Tartarus. The screams and moans of the eternally damned filled his ears. Suddenly, he saw a face he recognized: Meleager's.
As he walked up to Meleager, the deceased warrior told him, "Hippocrates, you must set things right again."
Hippocrates sighed. "I know, I know. And I suppose you hate my guts for all this."
Meleager told him, "No, I don't. I only believe that Ares deceived you, and misguided you. I'm glad to find out that you learned Ares was using you. However, you must set things right, son. Also, I must warn you the dagger you carry is the Dagger of Chaos. You must protect it, and prevent it from falling into evil hands."
The doctor then asked, "Meleager, isn't Hades supposed to erase your memories when you first arrive?"
Meleager shook his head. "Only for those in the underworld and the Elysian Fields. Those in Tartarus are stuck with the memories of what they did during their life for all eternity."
Suddenly, Hippocrates felt himself being pulled out of the underworld, past Hades, past Charon, and past Cerberus.
* * *
In another camp, over five miles away from the others, Ares' soldiers waited for their next instructions. The leader of the group seemed to be the most impatient. Ares than appeared in front of them in an instant. He said, "You know what you are to do. You must recover the Dagger of Chaos from Hippocrates. Your leader has the Ring of Destruction. With the two weapons combined together, this army will conquer the world." After this, the whole army arose in cheers.
The sun rose on one of those days when it's a beautiful day to travel. Jett awoke to find Gabrielle and Hippocrates already awake. Gabrielle was tending to Xena, and Hippocrates was testing her health. Jett was surprised, but not really, since he couldn't sleep either. His warrior instinct kept waking him up anytime even if a twig snapped. I wouldn't be amazed if the whole lot of us are dead tired, he thought. Jett finally asked, "What happened? Bad dreams?"
Hippocrates looked at him. "You could say that. At least for me, anyway."
Gabrielle sighed, and said, "Jett, Joxer visited me in a dream last night. He warned me about combining some Ring of Destruction with Hippocrates' dagger."
The doctor added, "The Dagger of Chaos."
Jett nodded, "I'm not surprised my brother came to you, Gabrielle. He wrote me a few
times while I was in prison saying he loved you very much."
The bard replied, "I knew he did when he gave his life for mine."
Hippocrates, noticing Joxer's death was a big tension point for both Jett and Gabrielle, quickly diverted the conversation. "Gabrielle, let me look at those wounds. In the light, its plain that they need stitches."
The two left, leaving Jett alone. To break the time, Jett left camp and went to a nearby creek. Need breakfast, he thought, its the most important meal of the day.
* * *
Hippocrates and Gabrielle kept walking until the doctor saw a large stump, and motioned the bard over to it. Gabrielle first put out her wounded arm in front of Hippocrates. Hippocrates looked over it and said, "Pretty bad wound, Gabrielle, but not totally serious. It cut about halfway to the bone." The bard dropped her arm, sat on the ground, and placed her leg up on the stump. The doctor looked at this one, and turned pale. Gabrielle asked what was wrong. Hippocrates told her to stand up then.
The doctor said, "Gabrielle, that is probably the most serious wound I have ever seen. The cut severed the femoral artery in your leg. You're lucky you haven't bled to death by now. I have to say it's not wise to even run on that leg for about a month."
Gabrielle asked him, "What about the stitches?"
Hippocrates answered, "I need a few minutes to get back to my camp. I left the stuff in my cloak."
Hippocrates started to turn, but instead said, "Gabrielle, there is something you need to know about Xena."
The bard appeared worried. "What?" she asked.
The doctor cleared his throat, and replied, "I'd give her at maximum one week left to live. She's in stage two of the infection by now."
Gabrielle appeared shocked. "It's not poison, but biological?!"
Hippocrates nodded sadly, "Yes, it is. Stage two is when the person looks like they have multiple bruises. The blood pressure decreases significantly, so the entire circulatory system begins to collapse. Blood vessels literally leak blood, causing the appearance of bruises. By stage three, it is much worse. Touch a person, and blood leaks through the skin."
At this point, Gabrielle was literally holding onto the doctor so hard, he winced. Hippocrates then asked the stunned bard, "Please, let me go back for the materials I need. The sooner you are able to leave, the better the chances of Xena's survival." The doctor ran back to his camp.
Hippocrates arrived back to find Gabrielle had settled down a bit. He asked, "Are you ready, Gabrielle? I can't lie to you. This will hurt."
The bard nodded, and first placed her arm on the stump. As Hippocrates drew out needle and thread, she prepared herself for the worst. When she felt Hippocrates' needle pierced her flesh, she bit down on her teeth. However, this part was over rather quickly. As she placed her leg on the stump, Hippocrates warned her this would take time, since he wanted to avoid reopening the wound. This time, the pain was much worse for Gabrielle. As Hippocrates drew the needle out of the wound, the bard was almost sobbing in pain.
Hippocrates said to Gabrielle, "I've a surprise for you. I found a small portion of the serum used to cure this disease. It should hold down the infection for a few days more."
Gabrielle asked between pain-caused clenched teeth, "Don't you have any more?"
Hippocrates shook his head, "Regrettably, no. I had a whole bottle full, but the cap fell off and leaked serum all this time. I put the rest of it in a small vial I was sure that I lost. But now Xena may have a chance."
* * *
Jett had already cooked the fish he had caught when he saw the two returning. Gabrielle was limping with one arm around Hippocrates and the other hand on her staff. He offered the fish to them, but both refused. That's appreciation, he thought, but still more for me.
* * *
Back in Hippocrates' camp, he found the vial of serum he had in his cloak. He took it and returned with Gabrielle to Xena. The doctor poured what little serum there was in Xena's mouth. "That's all I can do right now," he told Gabrielle, "that's all I can do.
Gabrielle could see some effect to it. Xena's troubled breathing seemed to ease a little.
"Hippocrates, it seems to be having an effect."
Hippocrates countered, "It won't last for long, though. If I remember, that cavern is about twenty miles north of Athens. And we would be about 100 miles northwest. We need to get moving, but I need one more thing to be done."
"What?" wondered the bard.
"I need something, a sled, something like that, so that someone can pull Xena along. She's in no shape to walk, you know."
Jett fired, "Gee, even I know that."
Gabrielle sensed something unpleasant would happen if she didn't intervene, so she said, "Jett, why not help Hippocrates with it?"
Jett grumbled, and followed Hippocrates into the woods.
* * *
A couple of hours later, the group, plus Xena, was ready to leave. It was determined that Jett and Hippocrates would alternate days pulling the sled that had Xena's body on it. Gabrielle flipped a dinar to see who would go first. The outcome favored Hippocrates. Jett grumbled something unintelligible as he picked up the whip (which was actually Xena's) that led from the sled to the bearer's hand. He started, and Gabrielle started, clutching her staff to offset the limp she had. Hippocrates told her while putting his black cloak on, "Gabrielle, if there is any fight along the way, I don't want you involved. Only fight if that is the last resort. You're health depends on your actions."
* * *
None of then noticed a spy of Ares looking down on them.
The spy dropped from the tree he was in, mounted his horse, and rode on a different route to the first war zone. He entered a tent, and greeted the commander, General Philinus. Philinus demanded, "Aquino, what is your report?"
Aquino answered, "General, I saw the group Ares told us about. They were all there. Gabrielle, Hippocrates, and Jett pulling Xena's unconscious body."
Philinus chuckled, "Good. Then they're about to fall for a trap."
The spy asked, "What trap, my lord?"
The god of war made an unexpected appearance, and answered, "They're heading for a legendary cavern, where myths say two springs of ambrosia lie within. One of eternal life, and one of eternal agony."
With that, Ares threw a bolt of lighting at the spy's feet. He said, "Now dance!" and the spy danced on out of the general's tent.
Philinus asked, "What is your bidding, great Ares?"
Ares asked back, "Have you done everything I told you to?"
The general replied, "Yes, great Ares. The army is divided into three units. The one here is eighty miles from the cavern, the second unit is at forty miles, and the elite unit is at the cavern itself."
Ares gave unexpected information to Philinus, "Do you know where Hippocrates got the Dagger of Chaos? From Jett. And Jett got it from me. I knew both would eventually betray me."
Philinus appeared shocked, "Mighty Ares, you are so good at using people!"
Ares chuckled, "Yes, I am," and disappeared.
* * *
Hippocrates, Gabrielle, and Jett moved silently along, with Jett still pulling the sled on which Xena's body lay. There was nothing anyone had in common to talk about but the obvious. With everyone so glum, even Jett didn't notice the ambush ahead.
Two warriors jumped out of the brush and attacked. Jett dropped the whip attached to the sled to the ground, and drew his sword. Gabrielle attempted to take a defensive crouch with her staff, but Hippocrates told her, "Now is a bad time, Gabrielle! You don't want to die right now, do you?!" Heeding the doctor's advice, she limped as fast as she could, picked the whip up, and pulled the sled behind some brush, away from the battle zone.
Jett easily put down the two warriors, one with his fist, the other with the hilt of his sword. As the soldiers fell, a group of twenty attacked. Hippocrates drew the dagger from the cloak he was wearing. Just then the dagger took on a life of its own. It fired a wide bolt of lightning which encircled ten soldiers. All of them shook and shaked as the electricity flowed through their bodies. Then all fell to the ground, with the slightest smell of burnt flesh in the air.
The other soldiers, seeing what happened to their comrades, fled the scene. Jett yelled after them, and sheathed his sword. During this time, Hippocrates looked with awe on the dagger he held. "Now I know why it's called the Dagger of Chaos," he said.
By the time the fight was over, it was nearly sunset. All agreed to build a camp here for the night. Jett told them, "Twenty miles today. Not bad. We still need to make better time."
Hippocrates suggested Jett, with experience as a hunter, find dinner. Hippocrates and Gabrielle, to the best of her extent, would find firewood.
Night eventually fell, and all slept peacefully for once.
The next morning was relatively uneventful. Jett started a light talk with Gabrielle as they walked in front of Hippocrates, whose turn it was to pull the sled Xena was on. "Gabrielle, do you remember who was with you and Joxer when I tried to kill Cleopatra? I think he wore a greenish outfit and a neatly trimmed mustache and beard?"
"Yeah. That was Autolycus, self-proclaimed King of Thieves," answered Gabrielle.
"You think he could help us by stealing the Ring of Destruction from Ares' warlord?" inquired the warrior.
The bard thought for a moment, and answered, "I don't think so. He won't do anything unless it involves either one of two things. One: his life; or two: money."
"What a shame," answered Jett.
This light banter continued until lunch, when all stopped for an hour break.
* * *
Hippocrates checked Xena's condition again. Once more, he sighed. Facing the music, he told Gabrielle, "I think the serum is wearing off. Without it, we'll have to double our speed. And that means we have to set off again."
The prospect of no lunch made Gabrielle moan in hunger.
* * *
The group made good time that day, managing thirty miles before sunset. That evening, Jett managed to hunt down a deer for dinner. On the sight, Gabrielle was practically drooling over the meal, even before she had a chance to cook it. Gods, she thought, I haven't had venison since I left Poteidaia.
Hippocrates complimented her on the food, "I didn't know you could cook this well, Gabrielle."
Jett praised her on the same subject.
Gabrielle, blushing, replied, "That's probably the main reason Xena let me team up with her. She can't really cook, unless you like burnt vegetables and raw meat. If she tried, I bet Xena could ruin soup."
On a more somber note, Hippocrates told the others, "We have to make the cavern tomorrow. Xena's in Stage Three. If we don't reach the cavern tomorrow, I'd have to say our journey was in vain."
The others, and Hippocrates, fell silent, thinking about what had to be done tomorrow.
* * *
Philinus was sleeping soundly in a camp nearby the cavern when he felt a punch to the face. He awoke to see an enraged Ares standing over him. The general got to his feet, quivering, and asked, "What is wrong, lord Ares?"
Ares snapped back, "You are. You deliberately deviated from the plan I gave you. No fight took place at the second war zone."
Philinus tried to respond, "I-I changed it for strategical purposes, my lord. After the sound defeat at the first war zone, I ordered the army at the second battle zone to join the elite unit. Combined, I have over one hundred soldiers here now."
Instead of killing Philinus for disobeying him, Ares simply said, "You better get it right this time, Philinus. One more defeat, and its over for you."
After the discussion, Ares disappeared, leaving Philinus very concerned for his future.
Having set off one hour before dawn, and having traveled all day without a break, the entire group was exhausted. Gabrielle finally fainted to the ground. Hippocrates halted, looked at the bard, than looked down a straight line. The doctor's tired face took on new life. With enthusiasm, he picked the bard up to her feet, saying, "We've made it! We've made it! This is it!"
Jett smiled at them, and carried the sled over to the other two, and dropped the whip connecting to the sled from his hands.
Gabrielle asked, "Then where's the cavern?"
Hippocrates pointed to the ground, "There." With that, the doctor started to dig up dirt at a rapid pace. Soon Jett and Gabrielle joined in. After an hour had passed, and the entire group had dug down to the bedrock, Hippocrates found a dome blocking the entrance to a hole in the ground, and a mysterious hole that looked like keyhole in the rock next to it.
"This has to work," Hippocrates said. Finishing, he took the Dagger of Chaos out of his cloak, and placed it in the hole. As if by instinct, Hippocrates turned the dagger a quarter turn to the right. A loud clanking sound was heard, and the three watched in amazement as the dome over the entrance diminished to its center until it disappeared. Hippocrates climbed in, and disappeared, leaving the dagger in the keyhole.
Jett held Gabrielle back, saying, "This is something only Hippocrates can do."
* * *
Seeing Hippocrates enter the cavern in the ground, Philinus decided to attack. His army charged from behind dense brush in the forest behind Jett and Gabrielle. Jett drew his sword and prepared for the attack. Gabrielle drew a defensive stance with her staff. Jett quickly told the bard, "I think there might be 100 or more of these guys."
Gabrielle asked, "Then what are we going to do?" She echoed Xena, "It's two against an army."
Jett replied, "I don't know, I just don't know."
They didn't know that salvation was around the corner.
Hercules and Iolaus were walking through the forest from which the army originated, and stopped at hearing the noise of battle. Hercules cleared brush away, and Iolaus joined him as they watched what was going on. Iolaus motioned Hercules, and they both recognized Gabrielle in the fighting, and Xena lying on a sled of some kind.
Hercules drew back to get Xena away from the battleground while Iolaus watched Gabrielle. Gabrielle gave a soldier a right forehand across the face, and then a quick uppercut to the soldier's jaw. What the bard didn't see was that a soldier had just swung a mace at her, which struck her in the back. Gabrielle collapsed to the ground. The soldier who had swung the mace drew his sword, and prepared to strike.
Iolaus sprung into action, and raced across the ground, up the soldier's body, did a back flip and kicked him in the face. The soldier collapsed. Iolaus helped Gabrielle to her feet, and escorted her to the forest. Getting there, Iolaus noticed the blood on Gabrielle's arm. He asked her, "Gabrielle, what happened? Did you get slashed by a sword?"
The bard shook her head. "It's the stitches in my arm. They broke."
Iolaus appeared confused. "Stitches?"
Gabrielle answered, "Before this, I-I was slashed with a sword across the arm and across my leg. A doctor, Hippocrates, said the leg wound severed the femoral artery."
Iolaus looked quizzically at her, and echoed Hippocrates, "The femoral artery? Gabrielle, I wouldn't even walk with a wound like that."
Gabrielle than asked Iolaus, "What's with the long face?"
Iolaus sighed, and said, "It deals with Hercules' mother, Alcmene."
The bard asked, "What?"
The warrior answered, "I'm still sad that, well, Alcmene's dead."
Gabrielle appeared shocked, than asked, "How is Hercules doing?"
Iolaus answered, "Not so well. He still has a twinkle in his eye, but since I'm his best friend, I can tell it's superficial. He's really hurting."
Gabrielle nodded weakly. Iolaus noticed she was tiring, Probably because she lost so much blood in the past few days, thought Iolaus, and guided her over to Xena. He said, "I'm sorry Xena's gone."
The bard replied weakly, "She's not. She's terminally ill, but not dead yet." She then asked, "What about my friend? He's all alone fighting those soldiers."
Iolaus had seen Hercules join Jett, and said, "Hercules joined him. I'll join him too. You just rest, Gabrielle."
* * *
Iolaus ran out to the battlefield, but found only Jett and Hercules surrounded by over 100 unconscious bodies. "Didn't save anything for me Hercules?" he joked.
Hercules' eyes twinkled. "Don't worry. I'll leave you to take care of the next army we see."
Not one of the three had ever noticed that Philinus had used the fight as a diversion so that he could enter the cavern, or that Ares had taken the Dagger of Chaos from where Hippocrates left it.
Looking around in the dimly lit cavern, Hippocrates found the ancient Titan sitting there on a stone bench by the ambrosia. The legends are true! he thought, my ancestor was a god! Well, at least for part of his life. The doctor also saw that the only way up was through a very unsturdy looking rope ladder.
A few minutes later, Philinus appeared on the scene beside Hippocrates. Hippocrates noticed a large ring on Philinus' ring finger. A voice that sounded like Meleager said in his mind, That's it! That is the Ring of Destruction!
The Titan got off the bench, and stretched. He said, "So good to see company. Hadn't had any for quite a few millenniums."
The Titan than stared both in the eye. "So, is it godhood you seek? Then you must choose wisely. Choose wisely, and live. Choose poorly, and suffer." The Titan than led both before two pools of ambrosia.
"You know the legend," the Titan said, "these two pools of ambrosia spring up deep from within the earth. However, a god cursed one of these, saying who drank of it would suffer eternal agony. Take your choice." Two golden chalices than appeared in the hands of Hippocrates and Philinus.
Philinus stepped forward. He looked at the two pools, seeing that both were identical. However, in one pool he saw himself as a god, controlling mankind.. He muttered to himself, "This must be the right one." The general than dipped the chalice he held in the pool, and drank. At once a glow overcame him. Without warning, Philinus started screaming. Hippocrates saw that all the death the general had caused others was happening to him. Being run through with a sword, a dagger in the chest, being shot with an arrow in the back.
Ares unexpectedly appeared. "I told you you would pay the price if you failed again. You have embarassed me long enough." The god of war pointed out a finger, and shot a fireball at Philinus. The fireball engulfed the screaming general. When the smoke cleared, the Ring of Destruction lay on the ground.
Hippocrates saw the ring, and began to run for it. Ares said, "No can do." The doctor found that he was frozen in place. Helpless, he saw the god of war pick up the ring, and disappear in smoke.
Once Ares was gone, Hippocrates found he could move again. Suddenly the Titan spoke, "He choose poorly." The Titan turned his back on Hippocrates for a moment.
I know which pool is the right one now, thought Hippocrates, it's just a matter of dipping the chalice in now.
Before he could, the Titan turned around and looked at him again. The Titan said, "So, descendant of Asclepius. It is your turn."
Hippocrates was dumbstruck. The god he used to serve was his ancestor. Putting all aside, he dipped the chalice in the pool, and brought out a tiny amount of ambrosia. He turned around without drinking it, and headed for the ancient rope ladder leading out of the cavern. The doctor started to climb the ladder out of the cavern when the earth started to shake. He looked back at the Titan.
The Titan explained, "Zeus finally has the chance to destroy these last springs of ambrosia. Good-bye, Hippocrates. Asclepius predicted you would come one day, and you would be my salvation. Be well." Finishing, the Titan waved his right hand at him.
With that, Hippocrates climbed out of the cavern, chalice in hand. Seconds after the doctor climbed out, the cavern below seemed to collapse on itself, burying it and the entrance for eternity in rock. The rock which was the keyhole crumbled to dust.
Jett appeared relieved as he saw Hippocrates climb out of the cavern, golden chalice in hand. Hercules motioned the doctor to run with him to where Gabrielle and Xena lay. Iolaus and Jett followed. Hippocrates woke Gabrielle, who saw the chalice and almost fainted in amazement. The doctor got the bard to drink a little of the ambrosia, and then turned to Xena. Hippocrates opened the warrior's mouth, than assisted Xena in swallowing the ambrosia. The doctor stepped back.
Gabrielle saw her wounds quickly heal, and the stitches fell out of place. The bard than looked at her friend. A dark mist was emanating from the warrior's body, which became white once it hit sunlight. Xena eventually sat up groggily, and Hercules motioned her to rest for a while.
Ares unexpectedly appeared, carrying the Dagger of Chaos and the Ring of Destruction. He shouted, "Hippocrates! Look!" Hippocrates turned around, only to see the god of war turn the dagger upside down, and placed the ring in a small depression in the handle of the dagger. He then righted the dagger, with the ring embedded in it. A light from the heavens seemed to enter the dagger, as it expanded in shape. Finally, the dagger had become a sword, with the ring becoming a gem embedded in the hilt of the sword.
Hippocrates murmured, "That's the greatest weapon of mass destruction."
The god of war cried, "You're right. This is the Sword of Annihilation. Now let me demonstrate it's power, Hippocrates. And you're the test." Ares then pointed the sword at the doctor. A blue bolt of lightning hit Hippocrates, and enveloped him. Hippocrates found himself unable to move. As Ares moved the sword, the doctor moved with it. Finally, Ares moved the sword quickly to his right, and Hippocrates followed, crashing his head onto a boulder. The light that enveloped him disappeared.
Ares turned back to the stunned onlookers, and said, "I hoped you enjoyed this demonstration. There will be plenty more like this in the future. See ya." Ares turned to leave when Hercules ran, and jumpkicked the god of war. The suprised Ares moved a great distance backwards, until he became caught in a tree. The contact was hard enough for Ares to drop the Sword of Annihilation, and a dazed Hippocrates miraculously arose, and grabbed the sword. Hercules came over and took the sword from the doctor. With one mighty pull, Hercules pulled the sword into two pieces
The god of war, defeated, cried, "No!" Falling out of the tree, he then turned all his fury on Hippocrates. He kicked the doctor in the head, and the resulting force threw him into the same tree Hercules had put Ares in. The god then drew his sword and cut off Hippocrates' left hand.
With his blood spurting out, Hippocrates told Ares, "I represent all you failures, don't I, Ares? That's why you want to torture me. But you can't, since I've been torturing myself by living. I should have died instead of accepting your protection. To save my life, I sold my soul. Go ahead, remove your protection of me. I saved another mortal life from death. Zeus will find out someday anyway."
Only Hercules knew it, but an interested Hades had shown up to listen to the doctor.
Hippocrates continued, "Go ahead. I tire of this life. I really don't even care about the eternal torment I have earned. I deserved it just for joining you."
Ares could not take any more of the doctor's insults, and shouted, "Zeus! This mortal violated your command never to save another mortal life! I turn him over to you for punishment!"
In a dazzling flash of light, the king of the gods appeared. "Father," remarked Hercules.
Zeus turned towards his son, "There is no time for that now. I'm sorry, but I have business matters."
First, the king of the gods pointed his hands to where the two parts of the destroyed Sword of Annihilation lay. White lightning poured out of his hands, and engulfed the parts. When the light disappeared, nothing was left but charred grass.
Zeus than faced the doctor, raised his hands, and two yellow bolts of lightning shot out towards Hippocrates. The doctor managed to say three words: "I'm sorry, Gabrielle," before the lightning engulfed him in a blaze of dazzling white. In a moment's notice, the doctor was only dust.
Hercules and Iolaus had left for another adventure. The only ones left in the party were Xena and Gabrielle. Jett had left with Joxer's scabbard, and was bound for Argos. Xena was comforting Gabrielle after the bard had told the whole story. Gabrielle was still very shaken by Joxer's sacrifice for her. She told Xena, "You were right. Joxer was never the greatest swordsman, but he had the heart of a lion."
Xena told Gabrielle, "It's all right. Joxer died as what he wanted to be. Admired as a hero."
A flash of bright white light caught their attention. Standing up, they saw three familiar faces: Joxer, Jett, and Meleager (the latter two each being in his rightful body).
Xena asked Joxer, "Why did Hades let you go?"
Joxer answered, "Because Hippocrates willingly turned his life in, even though it meant an eternity in Tartarus for him. He told Hades that he was responsible for all the confusion. Hades let Meleager go, and switched my brother's and Meleager's bodies back to normal. He let me go because Persephone convinced him that he still owed you a favor for saving his sister Celesta from Sisyphus."
He then added, "Oh, yeah. Persephone admired the way I put my life on the line for Gabrielle's. She told me I could have anything I wanted. I choose this." Joxer than flashed a pink nightie in Gabrielle's face.
Gabrielle brushed it away, but Joxer insisted that she take it, saying, "Its the least I can do for damaging your old pink nightie." Joxer wouldn't quit, so Gabrielle eventually gave up and took it.
Another unexpected visitor showed up-- Hades. Xena asked the god of the underworld, "What brings you here?"
Hades answered, "In reality, I let them all go because Ares was involved. My nephew and I are not on good speaking terms."
Even though no one could see him, all heard Ares say, "I head that."
Joxer than asked his brother, "Can I have my scabbard back?"
Jett answered, "Meleager has it, if you remember why." Meleager gave the scabbard back to Joxer.
Jett and Joxer broke off, heading back to Argos to visit their mother, while Meleager left to do good somewhere else.
Gabrielle pulled Joxer back for a moment. Xena intentionally left them alone. The bard began, "Thank you-- for saving my life."
Joxer answered, "It's the least I can do after all the stuff I put you two through."
Gabrielle replied, "This is the least I can do." She than pulled Joxer's surprised face towards his, and kissed him softly on the lips.
Joxer could only say one thing: "Whoa." He then cleared his throat and said, "I better catch up with Jett. He wants to reach Argos in five days, and he's real punctual. He even killed someone once for being five minutes late."
The bard said, "Then go."
Joxer set out running towards his brother. However, he kept leaping and tapping the bottom of his boots together on the way. Jett said, "Cut that out. It's annoying to me, and you know what I do to annoying things." The threat made Joxer stop immediately.
As Gabrielle and Xena watched them go into the sunset, Xena saw the golden chalice that Hippocrates had carried was still on the ground. Motioning Gabrielle to look, they both saw the newly free god Asclepius pick up the chalice, and disappear.
I wish to thank Mary Shelley for the now infamous Frankenstein ideas, and Paramount Pictures for the major motion picture Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
No medical oath based on a certain famous doctor's name was violated in the production of this fan fiction.
Started September 1997
Completed May 1998
Final Edition May 21, 1998
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