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By John Dorsey
Xena: Warrior Princess and all characters are the sole property of Universal. No copyright infringement is intended through the writing of this fan fiction. Copyright 1998 by John Dorsey
This is a sequel to the Hercules fourth season episode: Stranger In A Strange Land, you know, the alternate universe episode. However, it is a Xena story, not a Hercules story.
The new king walked down the long corridor, his subjects standing in awe. It was a happy day for everyone in the world. The Sovereign who had ruled over the people with an iron fist was finally gone. There were celebrations everywhere. Everyone looked happy, except for the king himself.
The king did not wear a crown. He did not look at all regal in the black leather he had on. But he didn't care about the way he looked. He only cared about bringing everlasting peace to this world. It would not be an easy task. There was so much to do, but first it was important that the past be put behind them. For good.
"Your majesty..." began Morgan, one of his top commanders.
"Not now," the king answered. Morgan looked a little angry at the dismissal, but the king paid him no more attention as he headed down the long dark, stairway which led to the depths of the castle. The dungeon was an ugly place. The king knew it all to well. He had been a prisoner there for several long months.
There were three occupied cells. The first was the largest; it held many of those who had sided with the Sovereign. The second and third cells held one occupant each. And it was these two occupants which the king feared the most. He walked over to the second cell and gazed inside.
He looked at the prisoner, who was held by ten different chains. To the ordinary observer, it would look ridiculous that someone so small would be tied down with so many chains. But the king knew better. This was no ordinary prisoner.
As he stared at this cold-blooded instrument of death, it was difficult to contain the incredible hatred he felt inside. This savage monster had killed thousands of innocent people, slaughtering them without mercy or remorse. Many of his friends and comrades had been murdered by this unholy sadist.
The king concentrated on her face; it would be lovely if not for the black rings that surrounded her eyes. Her head literally shook with rage as she glared at the king. "When-I-get-free-of-these-chains-I'm-going-to-slice-you-into-pieces!"
The king did not answer her. He simply stared at the one known to many as the Executioner, the Chaos-Bringer, but to an elite few, this redheaded devil had another name: Gabrielle.
The king moved on to the third cell. This prisoner only had two chains attached to her wrists. She was not as dangerous as Gabrielle in a combat sense, but her wicked mind was conniving enough to make her just as deadly in a different way.
"Now that I am king," he began, "one of my first official acts will be to sentence the two of you for your heinous, unspeakable crimes against the people of our world."
"Take your sentence and shove it up your rear, Joxer!" the woman snarled. Her short black hair was dirty from several days in the dungeon.
"Xena..." Joxer replied calmly, with no expression of emotion on his face. "I hereby sentence you and Gabrielle to death... by beheading."
"I'LL KILL YOU!" Xena screamed.
"The sentence will be carried out tommorrow at dawn. You should be grateful to me, Xena. Many of the people wanted you and Gabrielle to be boiled alive. Not that you don't deserve it. I'm letting you off easy."
Joxer did not say good-bye as he turned and walked away.
"You'll pay for this! I swear you will! I will have my revenge!"
Joxer had disappeared, and the iron door shut before Xena finished her rant. She was disgusted with the situation to say the least. She and Hercules had the entire world within their grasp, only to have their dreams of conquest come crashing down around them. Now Hercules was lost forever in some interdimensional portal, and she was left behind with her best friend to take the heat.
Xena looked down at herself. She was a mess. Her dress, which she was still wearing since that disastrous night, was covered with the cake that Aphrodite had thrown her into.
"This is the pits," Xena sulked. "I'm going to be executed... and I'm not even going to look pretty."
Suddenly, a figure materialized before her. Dressed in a dark outfit, his blonde hair slicked backwards, Xena instantly recognized him. It was the God of War.
"Xena..." he began. "My, my... you're not looking so good, are you?"
"If you're here to laugh in my face, just make it quick."
"No, no, no, not at all," he replied, walking forward. "I watched everything that happened that night, Xena. I saw how you handled yourself. I never realized it before, but... I think that you've got potential."
"What are you going to do?" Xena asked.
"Quite simple," he answered. "I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse."
Xena stared at him for a moment. Then she smiled.
"Well, Cupid, I'm listening..."
King Joxer entered what was now his throne room. So many people were happy, yet he felt nothing but turmoil inside. The rebellion had finally won. Their world was free of the evil Hercules, and soon would be free of the wicked Xena and dastardly Gabrielle as well, but there was still so much to do. There was so much unrest in the land. Not everyone was happy with Joxer as king. He didn't really even want the job, but they needed leadership. They needed a strong leader. And few were as strong as Joxer.
The new king sat down on his throne. They had all paid such a price for this newfound freedom. So many died, so many slaughtered. It bore heavy on his heart. Joxer wanted to block all the pain out, but it just wasn't possible.
Joxer picked up a crown that had once belonged to the Sovereign and stared at it for a moment. It was golden with a large blue gem encrusted in its center. As beautiful a crown as it was, Joxer had no desire to wear it. He put it aside.
Whatever we've become, it's what the Sovereign made us. That is what he had said to the alternate Iolaus when they were being held prisoner in the dungeon that night. And it was true. The terror that Hercules inflicted upon this world shaped Joxer's life more than anything else.
Joxer remembered when he was a young boy. He had failed miserably in all his attempts to learn combat skills. He was a laughing joke to all warriors, a fool. Joxer would have accepted his limitations, had not the Sovereign conquered everyone. His friends and his family were all sold into slavery.
With that, Joxer became a dedicated warrior. He learned combat skills with a lust and passion he never thought he had in him. He trained hard until he became one of the best swordsmen in the land. Eventually, Joxer was able to became the hero he had always wanted to be. His noble and heroic deeds soon made him one of the leaders of the rebellion against Hercules.
As good as Joxer was, as good as his men were, they could not defeat the army of Hercules. With his super-human strength to support his forces, Hercules was invincible. After several years of struggle, Joxer and many of his best men were captured and thrown into the dungeon of Hercules' castle. Fortunately, Hercules never learned how high Joxer's position in the rebellion was, or Joxer would have never lived through the first night.
Several months later, the tide finally turned. Joxer and his men were able to escape the dungeon, and with the help of the alternate Isolaus, they were able to defeat Hercules once and for all. The tyrant followed Isolaus into an interdimensional portal, and he was now trapped in there for all eternity.
Joxer broke out of his daze to look at the man before him.
"Isolaus," he said, "please call me Joxer."
"Very well, then... Joxer the Mighty!"
Joxer laughed. "No, no. Just Joxer." Joxer the Mighty, indeed. It was the silliest thing he had ever heard in his life.
"Joxer, I bring word from Antipas, the wizard. He had completed a spell to completely countereffect the magic that Hercules had cast to help keep our people's minds in subjugation. The side effects of that were caused should now be eliminated."
"Good. Those side effects were deadly."
It was true. The spell Hercules had cast on the people to keep them under his control had disastrous consequences. Whenever somone died, it caused the death of their double in an alternate dimension somewhere. And likewise, when someone in that dimension died, it caused the death of their double here. There had been reports of people falling over dead for no reason. Once it had been clear why, Joxer knew it had to be stopped. His wizard, Antipas, was always helpful. With the spell gone, most of Hercules' supporters would abandon him. Now that Hercules was banished, Antipas' magic was back at full strength.
Joxer studied Isolaus. He no longer had to wear that silly jester suit that he wore when he had been Hercules' fool. But he was still so much different from the Isolaus that Joxer met in the dungeon that night. That Isolaus was a magnificent warrior. This Isolaus was, sad to say, a bit of a wimp. It was truly amazing how, without the terror of Hercules to shape him, the alternate Isolaus had turned out. He could only imagine how the Joxer of that world had turned out to be. Those words were coming back again.
Whatever we've become, it's what the Sovereign made us.
Yes, Joxer thought, it was true.
"There are also some people here to see you, your high- I mean, Joxer."
Isolaus turned to the two people entering through the two large doors. Joxer glanced at them, and smiled. He rose off his throne and walked over to meet the man and woman who had arrived.
"Hello, Joxer," the blonde woman began. They hugged each other briefly.
Joxer spoke calmly, but it was hard to contain the pleasure he felt in seeing her. "I'm glad you're here. You are two of my finest warriors." He eyed the armor she was wearing. She was simply stunning to him.
"I'm glad you know Perdicus," she replied, looking at her companion.
"Yes... Perdicus," Joxer said as he shook the man's hand. "We've fought together quite a few times."
"You'll make a good king, Joxer," Perdicus smiled.
"Thanks. It's hard to believe we've finally won."
"Believe it," replied the woman. "We should all live happily ever after now."
"Yes..." Joxer answered, his smile faltering a bit. "Look, why don't you two go get something to eat. I'll be down in a while. We can talk about old times... Better yet, we can talk about new times."
"Sounds good to me," she answered. "Come on, Perdicus."
"Catch you later, Joxer," said Perdicus as he patted Joxer on the shoulder. Then they walked off.
Joxer watched them as they left. The two were lovers. The war had brought them together. He had fought alongside both of them in numerous battles. He had gotten to know one of them very well.
Joxer thought about the young woman. She was a tremendous warrior, yet when you looked into her eyes, you could still see a child-like innocence that was hard to explain. Joxer loved that look in her eyes. Innocence was a rare commodity these days. Hercules had stolen virtually all of it away.
He would never admit to anyone the pain he felt inside when he watched the two of them together. But it was almost more than he could bear. Yes, she was beautiful, but not just on the outside. When Joxer looked at her face, he could see a soul so gentle and pure, it seemed almost like something of a miracle. As the woman turned out of his view, Joxer let one last thought about her drift in his head.
No matter what happens, Callisto... I will always love you.
"As I said, Xena," Cupid smiled, "you've got real potential."
"You mentioned an offer," Xena replied. "So what is it?"
"Now that Hercules is gone, I need someone to take his place. A chosen one, who can lead the world to glory. My kind of glory. Death and destruction all the way. I want that chosen one to be you, Xena."
"Well, let me think about it..." Xena rolled her eyes back for a moment. "Yes! I'm your girl!"
"Good. Very, very good," Cupid answered. "When I was watching that night, I saw the way you threw that shoe, Xena. The way that shoe devastated everything in its path. I'd say you've got one nasty flick of the wrist. Imagine what you could do if you had a real weapon."
Cupid spread open his hands and an object materialized in them. It was a circular object with a large hole in the middle. "This weapon... will be the ark that takes you to your destiny."
"Great," Xena grinned. "Now get me out of these shackles."
"Why don't you get yourself out?" He placed the object in her right hand. Xena held it for a moment, then used it to slice open the shackle that held her right wrist. Stunned, she stared at it in disbelief. Then she sliced off the shackle holding her left wrist. It was too easy.
"Wow," said Xena, holding the weapon before her. "This thingy really packs a wallop."
"You got it," answered the god of war.
Xena walked over to the cell door. Using the object she cut the lock in half and opened the door.
"Look! She's free!" Two guards opened the iron door to the stairway and charged towards her.
"Throw it," Cupid challenged.
Xena did just that. The spinning object bounced off the first guard, then the second, then careened off the left wall and came straight back at her. Xena held out her hand and braced herself. To her amazement, she caught it. Easily. Just as easily as she had caught the shoe.
The two guards were lying on the ground. They were dead.
"Well..." Xena chuckled. "Looks we're gonna have some fun."
Cupid walked to her. "From this moment, you will be known as Xena... Warrior Princess."
"Warrior Princess?" Xena glared at him. "That's such a... girly name. I wanna be Xena... Warrior of Death!" She ran over and sliced her way into Gabrielle's cell. Once by one, she cut each of Gabrielle's chains. Moments later, she was free.
"Xena..." Gabrielle began, her head shaking, "I want Joxer... that little twerp... I'LL TWIST HIS NOSE OFF!"
"It's too bad her magic cloak was taken away and destroyed," Cupid said. "The Chaos-Bringer won't be nearly as fast as she was before... but she's still deadly."
"All right...," said Xena. "This is the plan. First, we're going to kill people. Then we're going to get out of here. After that, we're going to kill more people. Then we're going to conquer the world. After that, we're going to really start killing people! I love it!"
The two of them ran for the door, where guards were now coming to stop them. And that's when Xena started putting her plan in motion.
Isolaus ran into the throne room. His voice was panicked, and he was breathing very rapidly. "Joxer! Joxer!"
"What is it?" Joxer asked as he turned around.
"It's Xena... Gabrielle... THEY'RE OUT!"
Joxer was stunned for a brief moment. "Oh, my god," he whispered. Then he shouted, "Call out all the guards! I want them taken... dead or alive!" Joxer unsheathed his sword and ran with the other guards towards the dungeon.
The situation was more desperate than most people realized. But Joxer knew. Of course, it would be a disaster if Xena and Gabrielle got loose, free to wreak havoc upon the world again. But the effect on morale would be just as devastating, if not worse. The government they had set up was new, untested. If people lost confidence in it, that would only make things ripe for a takeover by someone else, another tyrant. And if that happened, the devastating war they fought against Hercules will have been for nothing.
Guards were falling left and right before the duo. They were being completely overwhelmed.
"This is too easy," Xena grinned.
"Don't get too cocky," Cupid warned. "You've got to get out of here before more guards arrive."
Gabrielle picked up a staff from a weapons rack to use against two guards that had tried doubling up on her. After several blows from the staff, each was unconscious on the ground. Gabrielle stared at the staff for a moment, than broke it over her knee and threw it away.
"What a sissy weapon," she snarled, and then grabbed a sword.
"Let's go," Xena yelled. And the three of them headed up the stairs. They entered the main hall of the castle.
Xena and Gabrielle looked to their left. Eight guards were heading straight at them. Behind them was Joxer.
"Wait!" Joxer yelled. The men stopped. Joxer saw the god of war next to the duo, and he knew they were all in trouble. Xena raised her disc into the air. One of the guards pointed at it.
"What's that?" he shouted.
Xena looked at her weapon. "This? It's my round killing thing."
"Chakram," Cupid corrected.
"Bless you," Xena replied. Then she threw it at the guards. The chakram ricocheted off of all of them except Joxer. He was the only one left standing. Xena caught the weapon when it returned to her.
Joxer couldn't believe what he was seeing. "Oh, no..."
"And now, Joxer," Gabrielle moved towards him with her sword. "I'm going to, as I said before, slice you into pieces." Her grin widened. Joxer's heart was pounding now. He might be able to beat one of them, but not all three.
Everyone turned to see Callisto and Perdicus running from the other end of the hall. Their swords were drawn.
"Well, well," Gabrielle smiled. "If it isn't my dear old Perdicus. It's been a long time. So tell me... you still wanna get married?"
"To you? Not in a millon years, you wench," Perdicus answered. And then their swords began to clash.
"Look at this one," Xena said, staring at Callisto. "A warrior, yet she looks so innocent. I love to kill innocents."
"Take your best shot," Callisto challenged. Xena raised her sword and charged forward.
"No!" Joxer shouted. He ran forward, hoping he wouldn't be too late.
Callisto struggled to hold her own, but Xena was very strong, perhaps stronger than she should have been. Joxer had a feeling that Cupid was aiding her somehow. Xena caught Callisto with a kick to the chest, and then a right hook sent her sprawling to the ground.
"Callisto!" Perdicus shouted. That momentary distraction was all Gabrielle needed. Her sword sliced into Perdicus' left shoulder and he screamed in pain. Then Gabrielle clobbered him on the head with the butt of her sword. He fell down, unconscious.
Xena stood over Callisto. She raised her sword for the killing blow, but then turned to face Joxer's attack. As their swords clashed, Joxer became certain that Cupid was aiding Xena. She was simply too good. He was her superior before, but now they were an even match.
Gabrielle smiled as she looked at Perdicus. "The Chaos-Bringer wins again." To think she had been set up to marry this fool... Her smile disappeared as she saw two platoons of soldiers approaching from both ends of the hallway.
Xena saw them, too. Joxer felt relief at the sight of them, but the distraction allowed Xena to catch him with a fist to his head. A kick sent him flying back against the wall. He fell to the ground in agony. Fortunately, the soldiers were almost upon them.
Xena glanced around, feeling fear for the first time. "I think we're in-" And then the three of them simply vanished in a flash of light.
Joxer struggled to his feet. He winced as he made his way towards Callisto, who was starting to come around. He knelt down beside her. "Hey, Cal..." he said holding her head. "Please tell me you're all right."
"Yes... I'm fine... but... Perdicus."
Joxer looked at Perdicus being helped up by the other soldiers. "He'll be okay. He's hurt... but he'll be okay." A twinge of guilt hit him when he almost found himself wishing otherwise. Joxer tried to smile.
"Everything's going to be okay."
The new king glanced around at his subjects, a number of them dead. And he prayed to Zeus that he was right.
Xena hadn't even finished her sentence before the three of them teleported. She looked around at their surroundings.
"Where are we?" Gabrielle asked.
"Home, my little Chaos-Bringer," Cupid answered. "We are home."
They were inside the throne room of a castle. Huge windows existed in both sides of the room. Outside it was very dark. Lightning stuck in the distance. The land itself was very dark. It did not look natural. It looked... evil.
"It all looks... evil," Xena mused. "Why can't every place look as nice as this?"
"When you've finished leaving your mark on this world, Xena," Cupid smiled, "Every place will look as nice as this."
"Wait a minute," Gabrielle said, "Why didn't you teleport us out of there sooner?"
Cupid gazed at her. "It looked like you were having fun. Besides, I wanted Xena to know just how unstoppable she will be with me at her side."
"Yes..." Xena said, staring at her chakram. "I can feel the power."
"First of all," said Cupid, "We need to give you two outfits that are a little more... warrior-like." He snapped his fingers.
Suddenly, the dirty dress Xena was wearing was replaced by something else, as were the rags that Gabrielle had on. Xena looked at herself. Her hair was now longer. She was wearing a kind of leather battlegear with a large breastplate. Gabrielle had on silver armor and was now holding a huge battleaxe. She whirled the axe around with precision skill. "Now this is more like it," she smiled.
Xena glanced in a mirror. Cupid walked up behind her. "You gave me long hair," Xena sulked.
"What's wrong with that? I like you better this way."
"But it takes forever to dry," she pouted.
"Do it for me."
"Well," Xena smiled. "All right. So... when do I get my army?"
"You don't... not yet anyway. Xena, you may have good combat skills, but you're not a military genious. Neither was Hercules. It was his incredible strength that made his forces invincible. We need to find a way to make you just as powerful as Hercules was... perhaps more powerful. Then you can conquer the world... perhaps with no army at all."
Xena oozed up to Cupid, putting her arms around him. "I like it. So... what's the plan?"
"You and the Chaos-Bringer are going on a quest. You are going to retrieve the pieces of the Krystar Gem."
"What's this gem all about?"
"This gem... will deliver the world into your hands."
"And then I'll rule it alone... without the Sov to share it with."
"Xena," Gabrielle said, walking over to her. "Once a young peasant girl told me that the key to breaking the cycle of hate was not through violence... but through love and forgiveness."
Xena glared at her. "And what did you do?"
Gabrielle raised her battle-axe. "I killed her." And the three of them started laughing.
"So," Cupid smiled, "are you ready to begin this quest?"
Gabrielle looked at him. "Do I get to kill people?"
"My dear Chaos-Bringer, not only are you going to kill people, I am going to give you the ultimate kill."
Gabrielle grinned, the evil shining in her eyes.
"Good... Very, very good."
"A lot of people have lost confidence in you, Joxer," Morgan said.
"We're going to bring Xena and Gabrielle back to justice."
"Well, not everyone is so sure. Even I'm not so sure."
Joxer walked up to him. "Trust me. I will bring them back."
Morgan stared at him. "Trust is a difficult thing to acquire. It's even harder to reclaim once lost. To be honest with you, Joxer, as one soldier to another, I don't think you're the best choice to be king."
"And I suppose you are?"
"Yes," Morgan said. "I think that I am."
"Well, you're wrong!"
Joxer stormed off down the hallway, not looking back. He never saw the enraged look on Morgan's face. As he turned around the corner, he saw Perdicus coming towards him.
"Joxer, listen to me..."
"Not now, Perdicus."
Joxer moved quickly down the hallway. Just before speaking with Morgan, he had addressed his subjects, and, like Morgan, most of them were not happy. Xena and Gabrielle's escape several weeks earlier had, as he feared, shaken the new kingdom's already fragile foundation. He had already heard rumors that Morgan was trying to gather support for himself to be made king. To think that Morgan, one of the other high-ranking soldiers of the resistance, might stir trouble with the people was another problem he didn't need. Joxer feared that a revolt could possibly happen if things got any worse. Callisto now approached him.
Joxer stopped before her. After looking at her for a moment, he said, "What is it?"
"Things are going to be all right," said Callisto. "Most of the people are smart enough to see that you are the one who should be king."
"Right now, they may feel that way," Joxer answered, "but things could change rather quickly. As much as the people worry me, I'm far more concerned about Xena and Gabrielle. With the God of War on their side, there's no telling what they might do. Even if we eventually defeat them, they could cause enough unrest to start a revolution."
"If they try anything, we'll stop them."
"I want to believe that." Then he started to walk off. Callisto grabbed his arm. Joxer turned and stared at her.
"Why do you always seem so cold around me?" Callisto asked. "Is something else wrong?"
If only I could tell you, Joxer thought. But I'd be wasting my time...
"I'm sorry. It's just that the pressure of this job is getting to me." Then he headed off for another meeting. Callisto watched him go, not completely convinced.
Suddenly, a guard was running in her direction. Callisto stopped him.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"Xena's been sighted not too far from the main square."
Well, Callisto thought as she ran for the door, at least life isn't boring...
Xena knocked over several guards with one blow. Her new skills were amazing. She was now perhaps an even better warrior than Hercules had been. Maybe losing him was for the best. All the power and glory would now be hers.
She smashed the temple door open and entered. People were scattering. They were all terrified of her. She would have to hurry, since this was the same city that Joxer and his loser friends were in. They would come after her soon enough. Fortunately, she wouldn't need much time to accomplish what she had come to do.
Xena ran to the main altar and grabbed the blue glowing gem piece that rested there. As soon as she lifted it up, she heard the sound of metal moving and looked up to see a large stone wall plummeting towards her.
She flipped backwards as the stone edifice smashed into the altar, destroying it. Landing on her feet, she smiled as she looked at the gem. "I always know how to bring the house down."
More guards entered through the door and drew their swords. Xena looked bored. "Oh, go away. As much as I'd love to kill you, even I believe in too much of a good thing."
They all charged her. She quickly drew her chakram and threw. Moments later, when she caught it, there were five guards lying on the floor.
Impressed with herself, she said, "I have many skills."
Xena ran out the door and headed down the street. People were running from her. She turned into an alley, not realizing it was the wrong one. The alley twisted to the left where she saw it was a dead end. Silently cursing to herself, the warrior princess turned around.
"Ready for a rematch, Xena?"
Xena stared at the warrior who stood with sword before her. It was Callisto. Xena drew her own sword and smiled.
Joxer paced back and forth in his throne room. The stress of being king was getting to him more than ever now. He had ordered an all-out search for Xena when he heard that she had been spotted in the city. Callisto had already gone off, and Joxer had a feeling he knew where. He prayed she would be all right. The fact that Xena had shown up again so soon could only mean that she and Cupid were planning something very bad for all of them. And if Xena was in town, then probably so was Gabrielle. But where?
A figure materialized before him. Joxer fell over in shock. It was a woman wielding a large axe. It was the Chaos-Bringer. It was Gabrielle.
"Hello, your majesty. I've never murdered royalty before."
The two guards at the entrance door charged her, but she sliced them down in mere seconds with her axe. Joxer quickly got to his feet and drew his sword. He had sent most of his soldiers out to look for Xena. And now he was unprotected.
Gabrielle grinned. "Ready to meet your maker?"
Joxer raised his sword. "That's a question you should ask yourself, Gabrielle."
Callisto was barely holding her own as Xena brought her sword down again and again. The warrior princess had become powerful, no doubt. Callisto kicked Xena, knocking her backward. Callisto plunged her sword at her, attempting to make the killing blow, but Xena somehow blocked it.
Xena got to her feet. "You can't win. I have no equal now."
"Then kill me," Callisto answered, "if you can."
"Oh, I will." Xena charged again. Swinging harder, her blows were even harder for Callisto to deflect, who was finding herself falling back against a wall. Xena managed to punch her in the jaw, knocking her down. The warrior princess raised her sword.
"Good-bye, my pretty."
"She went this way!" came from nearby. Xena paused a moment, looking in the direction the voice came from. In that moment, Callisto kicked Xena hard in the nose, causing her to drop her sword.
"Arrgh! That hurt!" She drew her chakram and raised it towards Callisto. "Why do things the hard way?"
Perdicus and several soldiers came around the corner.
"Halt!" Perdicus yelled, "You're under arrest!"
"And you're dead," Xena answered. She threw her chakram at Perdicus, cutting through his throat. He fell over.
"NO!!!" Callisto shrieked.
Xena caught the chakram as it returned. "Bye, now." She yelled "La la la la la la la la la la" as she flipped backwards on to the top of a short building and ran off. Callisto ran to Perdicus, who was dead.
"Oh my god," she gasped. "Oh my god..."
Joxer was holding his own against Gabrielle, but he wasn't sure how much longer he could do so. She was incredibly strong and her battle axe was so powerful he wondered if his sword might eventually shatter from each thunderous impact.
The king managed to maneuver himself near the door to the hallway. His only chance might be to get help. He turned and ran for the door.
"Oh, no, you don't," Gabrielle smiled as she threw her axe at him. Joxer looked over his shoulder and saw the approaching death. He ducked and the axe barely missed him, embedding itself into the door. Joxer opened the door and ran out.
Gabrielle snarled and quickly grabbed the golden crown that had once belonged to Hercules. She pulled it out of the blue gem-piece embedded in it and put the gem in her boot. Then she took the axe and opened the door, seeing Joxer down the far hallway, urging several guards in her direction. She charged towards them and cut them down quickly, leaving only Joxer.
"It all ends here, Chaos-Bringer," Joxer said, walking towards her. He raised his sword.
"Yes, it does," she answered, raising her battle axe. The two clashed their weapons once again, each more fiercely determined than before. Joxer knocked the battle axe out of her hand and punched her in the face, knocking her down. He stood above her and raised his sword. As he plunged it down, she vanished. He had only missed her by mere inches.
Joxer swore under his breath. He had truly wanted her dead.
"Joxer!" came from the side. It was Isolaus.
"What is it?"
"Xena broke into one of the temples. A number of our soldiers are dead."
"What about Callisto? Is she all right?" Joxer asked.
"Yes. But one of the dead... is Perdicus. I'm sorry."
Joxer leaned back against the wall, his sword falling out of his hand. One thought rebounded in his head.
This is a nightmare...
"13 men dead," said Isolaus. "Morale among the people is low."
Joxer paced around the throne room. "We've got to do something about Xena and Gabrielle."
"I know," said Callisto. Her face appeared emotionless, but the rage was unmistakable. "Let's kill them."
"We'll deal with them," Joxer answered, "but we've got to find them first. What was Xena doing in the temple, anyway?"
"She stole a piece of the Krystar gem," said Antipas. The old wizard walked forward.
"What's the Krystar gem?" asked Isolaus.
"The gem is said to be the key to unimaginable power for its possessor. It is said to unlock a gateway to a dark force, more powerful than any god in all of Olympus. But one must have the complete gem. Rumor has it that the second half of the gem was destroyed centuries ago."
Joxer looked at him. "But if Xena has the entire gem..."
"It could mean the end of us all."
Joxer looked around, trying to think. He was feeling scared now. Then he noticed the crown that had once belonged to Hercules. He walked over and picked it up. The blue gem that was imbedded in its center was missing. Antipas looked at him.
"What is it?"
"Do you know what the Krystar gem looks like?"
"Only that it is blue."
"Well, the blue gem from this crown is missing. It was here before Gabrielle attacked me. And for a moment she was in this room alone with it."
Antipas was in shock. "Do you think it could have been-"
Joxer threw the crown aside. "Yes, I think it is. I think they've got both peices now."
"Then they probably have put the gem together," Callisto said.
"Well," Antipas continued, "they can't just put the Krystar gem back together. It has to be done at midnight on the night of the new moon, which is only five days away."
Callisto walked over, tears still in her eyes. "How do we find them?"
"It has to be at the Temple of the Dark Cult. That's where the ritual must be performed. If we leave immediately, we can make it in time."
"I'll assemble the army," Joxer said. "Even Xena, Gabrielle, and Cupid together won't be able to stop an entire army."
The four of them turned around to face the messenger.
"The city! We're under attack!"
"Under attack?" Joxer gasped. "By whom?"
"A massive army. Led by Morgan. He's leading a revolt. He's sent a message saying that if we don't stand and fight, he'll kill every, man, woman, and child in the city."
"What are we going to do?" Callisto asked.
"This is horrible," Joxer said. "It must be Cupid's doing. We can't take the army with us now. Callisto, Isolaus, Antipas... You three are coming with me. We're going to have to stop Xena ourselves."
"What if we can't?" asked Isolaus.
Joxer looked away. "Then Zeus help us..."
The fighting in and around the city was fierce and bloody. Joxer's troops were able to hold their own, but no one was sure how long they could last. The new kingdom was crumbling all around them. Joxer, Callisto, Antipas, and Isolaus snuck away from the battle and headed toward the Temple of the Dark Cult. Joxer hated leaving his troops behind, for it surely would be another blow to their morale when they found out that their king had left. Hopefully, they would believe the news that he had an important mission to go on, rather than think he was a coward.
Xena had to be stopped. Joxer knew this was the truth as they continued their trek down the old road. If she succeeded in resurrecting this dark force, then the outcome of the battle at the city would be irrelevant. This was unquestionably their most desperate hour.
"Don't worry, Joxer," Callisto said. Her voice sounded cold rather than comforting. "We'll stop them. We'll kill them."
Joxer couldn't think of anything to say to her. Isolaus put his hand on his shoulder. "No matter what happens, Joxer, I won't let you down. We'll win."
Joxer smiled at him. Isolaus seemed to be changing. He was no longer the whimpering coward that he had been before. He appeared to be a little bit stronger now, and a lot more mature. Joxer only hoped they would all survive the battle they were destined to fight.
On the third night, Antipas suddenly woke from his sleep.
"Dahak! It's Dahak!" he yelled.
Joxer and the others sat up. "Antipas, what's wrong?"
Antipas looked at him, and to Joxer he looked older than he had ever looked before. "It's Dahak! The one god, the dark force. That's what Xena's going to unleash. It's all a trap, and none of them know it. Dahak won't conquer the world, he'll destroy it. He'll destroy everything and everyone, if we don't stop them in time."
Joxer couldn't speak. Everything had changed. They were no longer fighting for their kingdom, for freedom, or for justice. They were now fighting for their very existence. Joxer looked up at the sky. It was cloudy, and no stars could be seen. The pitch black seemed like a very scary omen of things to come.
On the evening of the fifth day, the Temple of the Dark Cult loomed before them. It was huge, massive. Made of stone, a large dome rested on its top. The four of them stopped on a hill overlooking the dark temple. Joxer turned to Callisto.
"Cal," he said, "listen to me. If anything happens to me, I just want you to know.... you've always been a very special part of my life."
"Joxer," Callisto said calmly. "I don't plan on any of us dying today. I plan on having my revenge."
Joxer felt disturbed looking into her eyes. He had never seen them so cold before Perdicus died. He wished he had some words that could soothe her, but he did not.
They all went off towards the temple. The large wooden door was unlocked, so they entered. In the center of the temple was a large pedestal on which rested a stone altar. The room was lit by torches. The four heroes walked forward.
Out of the shadows on the far end of the room stepped Xena and Gabrielle, holding their weapons. "We were hoping you would show up. This makes it all so much more fun."
"Xena..." Callisto seethed.
"I want the gem, Xena." Joxer drew his sword.
Cupid suddenly appeared. "Well, you can't have it." He raised his hand and suddenly all of their weapons flew away to the other side of the room. Chains materialized around all of them. None of them could move.
"No!" Joxer yelled. "It can't end like this." They all struggled, but to no avail.
"So pathetic," Cupid said. "Did you really think you had a chance against the God of War? Take them to the altar."
Xena and Gabrielle pushed the four of them to the altar where they sat down. Xena pulled out a crown with a large blue gem embedded in it. The Krystar Gem. She placed the crown on her head.
"You are all about to witness the birth of a new era. In mere moments, the power of the dark force enter this dimension and it will be mine to control. The power of Dahak."
"Listen to me, Xena," Joxer pleaded. "It's all a trap. You can't control the power. Dahak will destroy everything in this world, even you!"
"He's right!" Antipas agreed.
"Listen to him," Isolaus said.
"Oh, I believe you," Xena smiled. "You'd do anything to stop me, wouldn't you? But soon I will be all powerful, and then I will kill you all, just like I killed dear little Perdicus."
Callisto screamed in rage. "I'll have you dead, Xena!"
"You're welcome to try." Xena looked around. "I can feel it now."
"It's coming," Gabrielle agreed.
"Yes," said Cupid. "Dahak is coming. And with him under our control, we will rule this world forever!"
Xena walked over to the center of the altar, and raised her arms outward.
"Listen to me, Xena," Joxer pleaded. "You won't be able to control Dahak!"
"Hush," she whispered as she held her arms out steady. "Come to me, Dahak."
Suddenly, the dome of the temple began to open. A strong, chilling wind came down upon them. Thunder and lightning exploded all around.
"What's going on?" Isolaus asked.
Antipas continued to stare blankly at the sky.
"Quite simply... the end of the world."
The two armies continued to clash outside the city. The battle was slowly started to turn in Morgan's favor.
Morgan was walking around behind the battlelines observing the carnage.
"Yes," he said to one of his lieutenants. "The tide is finally turning. We will win this battle. I can feel it. Then the kingdom that Joxer so foolishly believed to be his will be mine."
"How can you be so sure of our victory, sir, if you don't mind my asking?"
Morgan smiled. "I made a deal with Cupid. I'll say one thing. When you make a deal with the God of War, you can be sure he won't ever... let... you... down..."
Morgan looked around at the sky. It was darkening quickly. Too quickly. The wind was suddenly getting stronger. Thunder and lighting began to crackle all around. A blast of thunder suddenly struck a command post less than a half mile away. It caught on fire.
"Something's wrong," Morgan whispered. "This is no natural storm."
Soldiers from both sides were fleeing from the scene. The entire battle was breaking up.
"No! It's not fair! I'm about to win! You can't do this to me, Cupid!" said Morgan as he raised his hands in the air. "I'M ABOUT TO WIN!!!"
Suddenly, lighting struck Morgan head on, and that was when all his dreams of conquest came to a crashing end.
* * *
"What do we do?" Callisto yelled over the loud gale that felt like it would blow them all over.
"We've got to get free!" Joxer said. "Antipas?"
"I'm working on it," the wizard answered. "Abva jovay... kema nomay..."
Xena was still standing with her arms stretched outwards. The Krystar Gem embedded in the crown she was wearing began to glow. "Yes," she whispered. "I can feel the power. I can feel it!"
"Take it, Xena," Cupid urged. "Take it all."
"trali gana... meentee yanga..."
"I can feel him," Xena whispered, "I can feel him now..." A flash of light burst all around her. "We are one!"
"Yes!" Gabrielle raised her axe.
"And Dahak is ours to command!" Cupid cheered.
Xena looked at him and smiled.
She fired a bolt into Cupid that sent him crashing backwards into the stone wall.
Suddenly the chains around the four of them broke apart.
"Quickly! We've got to stop them," Joxer said as he grabbed his sword.
Gabrielle was confused about what was happening with Xena. She turned around and saw Joxer and the others free. "No..." she whispered. She raised her battle axe and charged at Joxer. "This time you're dead!" she yelled as her axe clashed with his sword.
"We're all dead if we don't stop Dahak!" Joxer answered, but he realized it was no use.
Cupid slowly got to his feet, dazed. "What... What's going on?"
"A new order," Xena answered. She walked forward. She somehow looked different. Xena looked... possessed.
"Xena?" Cupid asked, afraid.
"Xena and I are now one," she answered. "We are Dahak. And we won't be commanded by petty gods such as yourself."
"Petty?" Cupid said angrily. "Do you honestly believe you can defeat the God of War?"
He fired a bolt at Xena, which knocked her backward. He walked up to her and began to batter her with one blow after another. Xena was not retaliating.
Isolaus watched them fight. "What do we do?" he asked Callisto.
"We pray Cupid wins," she answered. "Because if a god can't defeat Dahak, then I don't see what chance we'll have. But first..." she walked up behind Gabrielle, who was holding her own against Joxer. "... let's take care of the irritating blonde."
She rammed Gabrielle in the back of the head with the butt of her sword. The Chaos-Bringer collapsed on her face in front of them.
"Thanks," Joxer said.
"Don't mention it."
Cupid continued to batter away at Xena. He grabbed her by the hair and drew his sword. "Insolent fool. You're no match for me." He raised his sword, and then Xena's eyes lit up with a red fire. Another bolt from her hands sent Cupid flying backwards again. He hit the ground hard. "Uhhhh...."
Xena walked towards him, smiling. "Is that the best you can do? Because if it is, then conquering this puny planet will be easier than I thought."
Cupid struggled to his feet and she punched him, sending him flying backwards the wall. He collapsed in a heap.
"You are so petty, God of War. I have no interest in war. I the God of the Everlasting Destruction! When I am finished with this world, there will be no war. There will nothing but a fiery hell as god and human alike are consumed by my burning baptism. With your fall, God of War, I have won!"
"Uh, I don't think you've won just yet."
Xena turned to see Callisto with her sword drawn. Xena smiled and almost laughed.
"A mortal? A mortal wants to challenge me?"
Callisto glared at her. "Think you can take me?"
"Ha!" Xena answered. "The sheer stupidity of your race never ceases to amaze me." She drew her sword. "I could destroy you quickly. But instead, you go the hard way."
Race? Callisto thought. She's less and less Xena and more and more Dahak. But I still want her dead. I just hope I can hold out until Joxer and the others come up with a plan.
Xena charged Callisto and they clashed their swords. She's incredibly strong, Callisto thought as she ducked a wild swing by Xena. Skill's a little lacking, though. With her free hand, Callisto gave Xena a solid blow to the jaw. Xena was momentarily stunned. The she snarled, "Rrrrrrrrrrrrr..." and charged again. Yikes, Callisto thought as she prepared to dodge again.
Joxer ran to Antipas. "What should we do?" he asked.
Antipas looked at him. "I don't think the direct approach will get us anywhere."
"Right," Isolaus answered. "If the God of War couldn't defeat her that way, I can't see us faring much better."
"I've got to do something," Joxer exclaimed. "Xena will kill Callisto."
"I think she's more Dahak than Xena now," Antipas answered. "But we need some kind of plan." He put his hands to his forehead. "The crown! The Templar crystal is in the crown Xena's wearing! The crystal is Dahak's vessel."
"So if we can destroy the crystal-" Isolaus started.
"-we'll send Dahak back where he came from!" Joxer finished. "Let's do it!"
"You're the best warrior of us all, Joxer," Antipas said. "Isolaus and I will attempt to provide a distraction. Then it will be up to you. I don't know how long we'll last, but-"
Joxer clasped both their hands. "Good luck, my friends." Then he began to circle around Xena. All he would be able to do is wait for an opening. Joxer only hoped their lives wouldn't have to be sacrificed.
No one noticed Gabrielle groggily beginning to wake up.
Callisto realized it was only a matter of time before Xena overwhelmed her. She was simply too powerful with Dahak controlling her. She wanted Xena dead more than anything, but she didn't think any blow she delivered could kill the god.
"This has been a lot of fun," Xena smiled. "But I've got a world to conquer." With a quick motion she delivered a blow with her free hand to Callisto's jaw, knocking the sword out of her hands. She grabbed her by the hair. And raised her sword. Suddenly, the sword was blasted out of her hand. Xena turned to see Antipas with his hand raised towards her.
"Begone, demon!" he delivered.
Xena smiled again. "Your race is quite humorous. I'm almost going to regret destroying it."
"You're not going to destroy anyone... as long as we yet live."
"Yes... you're right. As long as you live... which won't be for long."
Antipas raised both hands toward her. A blue whirlwind mist appeared in the air, and the wizard launched it at Xena. She took a few steps backward from the force of the magic. The blue mist enveloped her, and she closed her eyes, not moving.
Then her eyes opened, a red fire appearing in them. Suddenly, she thrusted her arms outward, and there was a huge explosion as the magic around her was hurled back at Antipas.
"No..." he whispered. The blue mist struck him, and he went flying backwards, not even having the chance to scream.
Xena walked towards the dead wizard. "Petty gods, petty mortals, petty magic. This whole world is so weak that destroying it is scarcely worth the bother." She turned and saw Joxer circling her. "And what are you up to, little man. Ready to die?" She raised her finger towards him.
Oh, my god... Isolaus thought. Antipas is dead, and now she's going to kill Joxer. I'm so scared. I've got to get out of here. I'm no match for her. I don't want to die. But if I don't we'll all die. I can't be a coward anymore. The Isolaus from that other world wasn't a coward. If I have to die, then maybe at least I can die a hero. If I can give Joxer an opening...
Isolaus charged at Xena. "XENAAAA!!!!"
Xena quickly turned away from Joxer and blasted Isolaus with a bolt just before he reached her. He fell on his back, dead before he hit the ground.
Joxer charged forward, realizing it was his only chance. Xena turned toward him, blocked his plunging sword, and grabbed him by the neck, gripping him tightly.
"That fool bought you a few seconds," she said, "but that is all. Your God of War is defeated, you all are nothing to me, and I, Dahak, alone will rule this pitiful world forever!"
Joxer could feel Xena squeezing the life out of him, but he couldn't break free. He could feel unconsciousness starting to claim him. And death would soon follow.
Suddenly, Xena went flying backwards, letting him go. Startled, he looked up to see Gabrielle holding her battle axe. He never thought he'd be glad to see the Chaos-Bringer, but this was an exception.
Gabrielle raised her axe again. "Let Xena go, Dahak! Let her go!" She moved toward Xena, who drew her sword, and they clashed. Joxer quickly got up and ran at Xena, swiping the crown off her head.
"No!" Xena screamed. She would have went after him, but Gabrielle had grabbed her one arm while the other was holding her sword.
Joxer quickly dropped the crown on the ground and raised his sword. With all his strength, he plunged the blade into the Crystar Gem, shattering it.
"No... Aaaaaaauuuuugh!" Xena screamed, dropping her sword. Electricity started to emanate from the shattered jewel. Joxer picked up the crown containing what was left of the gem and hurled it at Xena and Gabrielle. It landed at their feet. The electricity suddenly exploded and engulfed both of them, Moments later, they were gone.
The stormy skies began to disperse above the temple and around the entire planet. Outside Joxer's city, the battle had ended. The former combatants simply stood there and looked at the strange yet magnificent sight above them. No one who had witnessed the storm was sure why, but it seemed to all that a black chapter had finally ended, and a new, brighter one had begun.
Joxer stood there for a moment. Callisto slowly walked over too him, recovering from her wounds.
"Is it over?"
"Yeah. I think it finally is."
The two friends embraced. Callisto couldn't stop from crying. "But Perdicus... Isolaus... Antipas... They're all gone."
"They sacrificed their lives for us. We never would have saved our world without them."
"What about Xena and Gabrielle? Where are they?"
"I don't know. But wherever Dahak banished them to, I pity whoever has to deal with them now."
The peaceful calm of the beautiful green countryside was suddenly interupted by an explosion of blue electricity. It hovered for a several moments, then dispersed, leaving two figures in its wake. Each was unconscious, lying face down. Then one of them started to move.
Xena slowly lifted her face. She had little strength, and even this small movement felt like too much. Gabrielle was still unconscious. Xena barely had the presence of mind to wonder where they were. Despite how drained she felt, she couldn't help but notice an annoying, horrible sound. It was coming closer.
"Joxer... Mighty... Roams through... countryside... Never needs a place to hide..."
The strangely armored man rose above the hill and was walking towards them. "With Gabby as his sidekick, Fighting with her little stick-"
"No," Xena moaned, recognizing the warrior. "Not you..." And then her head dropped as unconsciousness reclaimed her.
Joxer stopped before the two still figures.
To Be Continued in "Part 2: Mirror Images"
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