Family Ties


Medea moaned as she painstakingly pulled herself up to a sitting position, leaning heavily on the pillar behind her. She wanted to ask what had happened, but the room was stubbornly refusing to cease its spinning. And besides, conversation was pretty much impossible while the floor kept trying to knock her over.

"Ergghhhh . . ." She blinked her eyes slowly and the room was returned to some of its former stability. Her stomach, unfortunately, was still aching with something she knew inside as guilt, but she passed it off as lack of nourishment.

"Ugh," she muttered.

Celosia, Pelee, and Tern seemed to be watching her a little too carefully. They looked different than usual, all of them. Fatigued . . . and older. Had the last battle taken so much out of them? Uh, you were taken out yourself, sweet thing, as a minor goddess. Of course the fight was hard.

The blond inspected her hands, holding them both in front of her with exaggerated caution. She flicked a nail. Nothing happened. With equal precaution she felt the places in her spiked hair that her horns had once inhabited, her back where the wings should have been attached, and finally her teeth that should have been harshly pointed. There was nothing there. There were no physical traces of the monster she had been left.

But on the inside . . .

Medea had done some horrible things in her time, but this took the cake. Taking out her fellow sisters and acting the way she had . . .

No wonder Mother chose Celosia. Some Queen I would have made. Of course, had she chosen me I might not have run off to Velasca, met Ares, and ended up in this mess. Medea's eyes sparked with all-too familiar angst as she did the thing she had done all of her life--blamed somebody else.

If she'd chosen me I never would have run off all those years ago. I never would have even met Velasca, so she wouldn't have found me in the forest, I wouldn't have met Ares, gotten changed into a demon--Yes, it's perfectly clear. It's all her fault! HER FAULT!

The fire in the young Amazon's eyes died a bit as they met her mentor's gaze. Tern had heard.

But had it surprised her? Medea doubted it. Tern had known all along that Medea would blame the former Queen for her actions.

Will you ever forgive her, my student? Tern asked in her mind, her eyes settled on something in the distance so that no one would suspect a telepathic connection and intrude upon the link.

The blond sharply cut the connection giving Tern all the answer she needed. Muttering as her back cracked, she quirked a platinum eyebrow and casually inquired, "Got anything to eat?"


The little group laughed at Medea's outrageous, but normal, question. Behind them, they heard Samsara whistle for Prince. "Ya!" they heard her command, and she turned her horse away from the ruins and rode off.

Celosia looked behind her and saw the Amazon's back as it disappeared into the woods. Pelee and Tern looked on. "I wonder what happened," Pelee said.

"I think she's learning one of her labors..." Celosia remarked distantly.

Tern helped Medea to her unsteady feet with the help of Celosia and Pelee. Then by mutual consent, Tern stepped forward and whisked Medea magically back to the village gates. Pelee did the same with Celosia, the four happy to have returned home. Samsara, partially hidden behind the crumbling walls of her father's temple, was left to her own devices.

Seriana came dashing out to meet them, her eyes filled with panic. "Thalia's getting worse. I don't know what to do to help her anymore . . . she's burning up with fever and her wound's turning strange colors. Please, one of you help her!"

She swayed like she was going to pass out. Celosia, who was closest, reached out and took hold of her elbow to steady her. "Calm down. Thalia will be all right."

"But what if I . . ."

"Calm down."

"But . . ."


Seriana took a deep breath and attempted to do as she was told. As Medea was escorted to the healer's hut, she trailed behind the group, eyeing Medea and Tern suspiciously.

When an Amazon had been sent to get Medea something to eat, everyone turned to Thalia. Seriana's panic was understandable. The scout's color was an unnatural bluish and her breathing was hesitant and faint.

"What happened, exactly?" Celosia asked as she forced open one of Thalia's eyes to see the dilated pupil.

Seriana shook her head. "I hardly remember. I thought she was going to kill me, so there was a fight . . . but it's fuzzy. I'm forgetting things I remembered five minutes ago and not remembering things I knew yesterday. It's scaring me."

"Tern, Pelee, you two want to take care of her?" Celosia asked. "We don't need her running panicked around the village while Thalia, Xanthea, and Medea need our attention."


Guilt-ridden, Samsara had watched as Celosia hugged her cousin and sister. A true Queen, she thought.

She had been sent to Themiscyra as a condition of her leave from Teloq. Although she was not next in line for the late Melosa's throne, Regent Ephiny and Domestic Queen Serena thought it wise for her to observe another strong warrior village. Celosia accepted Samsara and made sure that her sisters would welcome the Princess-Heiress as if she were their own. Feelings in Themiscrya were mixed, but the Amazons all lowered their heads as she passed and looked directly in her eyes when they spoke to her.

Watching Medea and Celosia reunite reminded her of her own sisters, Seriana and Kaia. Kaia, daughter of Discord and Ares, was a troublemaker and a threat to Themiscrya. On the other hand, Seriana had proved herself an Amazon at heart when she supported Thaliaís claims about demon Medea, standing up to Queen Celosia even though she was so new to the tribe.

Seriana, the name echoed in Samsara's head. She continued to observe the scene before her. Medea was saved. She had been saved by her sisters and her mentors; had been saved by her sister Amazons.

Samsara had done nothing to help. She had stood and watched as Ares was preparing to fry Medea for good. Samsara shook her head. The knots in her stomach became tighter.

She whistled for Prince and mounted the raven steed as soon as he trotted toward her. "Ya!" she said, turning her horse onto the road away from the ruins.

Celosia looked behind her and saw the Amazon's back as it disappeared into the woods. Pelee and Tern looked on. "I wonder what happened," Pelee said.

"I think she's learning one of her labors..." Celosia remarked distantly.

Further in the forest, Samsara thought about what had happened. She still had to resolve her feelings for her father. She still had yet to resolve the feelings for her mother, Callisto the Terrible, a.k.a. Warrior Queen. From all that she heard, Callisto was a terrible person, but Samsara still felt Xena created her. When she had heard that Seriana traveled with Xena for months, she didnít know what to think.

But that was not what troubled her now. Her loyalties were with the Themiscyrans. Still, she risked her godhead if she interfered with any business Ares had with the Amazons. She knew he could, and probably would, take her godhead away.

She stopped her horse. Did she care? "FATHER!" she screamed, demanding the presence of the God of War.

He appeared before her, weary. "What is it, Samsara?"

She seethed. "You know very well what I call you about."

"Oh yes, yes, yes, your sister Kaia told me," he waved his hand. "She informed me that you would attempt to do damage if I so much as even thought of getting Seriana back from your Themiscyran sisters."

She pulled out her sword. "I will if you even think of touching my sister."

"Ooh, protective," he said mockingly. "Now why don't you do that for Kaia?"

"Because Kaia can take care of herself," she responded. She sheathed her sword and nudged her horse ahead. She was done speaking with her father.

"So," he called as she passed him. "Why didn't you attack me back there?"

She stopped again. "Because I thought you still had some semblance of power over me. If you did you would have made me attack Medea and Pelee. But you did not and therefore I now know what you are full of." She trotted away.

He laughed and vanished.


Back at camp Tern had been musing over why the strange Amazon had not attacked her or Ares but stood watching the battle. She couldnít come to any solid conclusions, and set the matter aside for later.

She stood with Celosia and Pelee in the med hut. Tern knelt by Medeaís side, pressing her fingers into the bruised flesh and then closing her eyes. After a moment, she looked up at the three of them.

"Celosia, Iím not the healer of the tribe. I don't think I can heal either of them. Artemis only gave me enough power to save Medea's soul," Tern said quietly.

Pelee nodded. "My powers arenít used for this either."

Queen Celosia turned toward Tern. Her face was still young but her eyes looked haunted and there was a shot of gray in the flame red hair that Celosia just now noticed. Pelee had the same tormented look in her eyes, but there was no shock of white in her jet-black hair. She could see that Tern would be as unable to help as the others.

"Find Yakut," Celosia ordered an Amazon who scurried off. With Xanthea out of commission, the healing fell to the Shamaness and the healing apprentices. She could only hope Yakut was prepared for all her patients.

Medea was tearing into the food brought to her. The thought she had been drinking blood made her feel slightly queasy . . .and slightly excited.

"Celosia, Medea is in a fragile stage. She could still be lured back to Ares," Tern remarked, watching the woman rip into the food. The look in her eyes was unmistakable.

"What do we have to do?" Celosia asked, holding back the thousand other questions she had for her older cousin.

"Give me full charge of Medea. Sis and I may need to take her out of the village for a while until the healing process is complete."

Celosia exhaled slowly. In her heart she knew Tern as right but she still didn't want to lose her sister.

"I have a lot of questions for you." she answered instead.

Tern nodded. "I expect to give you all the answers you want. Get comfortable and Iíll begin."

"The first sign Medea was involved in something dark came a while ago. She started sneaking out of camp late at night. Being bonded to her, of course I was aware of her movements. I watched her experiment with her magic, nothing unusual for a witch in training. But when one night she was able to suddenly shield herself from me, I knew there was trouble.

"I called upon Artemis for help and she told me Medea was walking the path that would lead to her destruction and Themiscyra's. We devised a plan to gain back Medeaís trust. I was given a new magic, that of glamoury, to change my appearance."

"So you appeared as demon," Celosia said. Tern nodded.

The Shamaness arrived to tend the weakening Thalia. "My Queen?" Yakut asked. Celosia outlined the major issues and the Shamaness went to work.

Tern continued her story. "Artemis' power is strong enough to fool Medeaís. Even Ares, who it turns out, had seduced Medea away from us right under out noses," Tern sighed and rubbed her temples. Her eyes were glassy.

"It's rather humiliating to realize your pupil has been stolen from you. That gave me the drive to get her back. And the fact Iím rather fond of her," Tern tousled the young blondeís hair. "But to pull this all off I needed Pelee to balance my power. Of course everyone knows she was missing for a while. It turned out Ares was behind her kidnapping."

The Amazons murmured.

"Ares knew that the two of us together could bring down his plan. He didn't count on Artemis helping. By keeping us separate, he thought he had the upper hand."

"He always was arrogant," one of the Amazons grumbled. Others nodded their agreement.

"Medea has the potential to be a great witch. I was too old for his plan, too settled on my path. He's been watching, and chose Medea. Young, hotheaded, impressionable, ambitious - she was the perfect candidate," Tern squeezed her apprenticeís hand. Medea squeezed back.

As Tern talked, Medea fought an internal war. Part of her was relieved to be normal again. But, oh! That power had been great! Damn her mother for not choosing her! As if she sensed her thoughts, Tern's grip on her hand tightened slightly.

"Ares has been planning this for a long time. Long enough to keep my sister hidden from me. Artemis helped free her as well. This was all one great plot of Ares."

"Who would have thought Ares would be so patient?" Thalia managed.

There was a round of concerned voices as the Scout joined them. Yakut dropped a stool down near Medeaís bed for Thalia. "Sheíll be all right. Although she should be resting," the Shamaness said pointedly. The Scout shrugged it off and they returned to the topic at hand.

"I guess if he wants something bad enough, even the God of War can be patient," Tern said. "I would like to apologize Thalia, for hitting you with that freezing spell. I had to keep the ruse up but I would never, never harm another Themiscryan. That's why I chose that spell. It gave me time enough to get away without lasting damage to you."

"Iíll go tend Xanthea, now," Yakut interrupted. "Sheís lost a lot of blood and is weak, but sheís doing better." She gave a little bow to the Queen and left for the nearby bed of the healer.

"Xanthea," Tern said. "I almost didn't get to her. I had to distract Medea long enough to get her out of there."

"But I was talking to you in the forest!" Medea said, frowning.

Tern smiled and shook her head. "No. You were talking to Pelee. More glamoury. Remember we share all our powers. She simply changed into me."

Medea's mouth dropped open. "Can I learn to do that?"

Tern half smiled, half frowned. "We'll see. Right now you have to heal."

"I am healed. I feel fine," she tried sitting up and felt a pain shoot through her chest. "Or not."

"Queen Celosia, I fear there is nothing more we can do for Xanthea. Her fate lies with the Gods now," Yakut said. "Her breathing is raspy and she is unconscious. The healing apprentices and I have done all we know how."

Tern and Pelee exchanged a glance and a mental conversation before standing. Medea realized she was basically glued to the ground and couldn't get up. Tern was taking no chances.

"We can't promise anything but we can try," Pelee said. She and Tern rose and moved to the nearby cot where the healer lay.

Celosia nodded and stepped to her sister's side as her cousins knelt at the other bedside, one on each side of Xanthea. They looked across the sick woman to each other.

"I have no idea how to do this," Tern said in dismay.

Pelee frowned. "Lay your hands on her chest, like this," Tern obeyed and the sisters touched hands before closing their eyes. Both began to glow again. The Amazons stepped back.

After a few minutes the glow faded and the twins looked up.

"The inside damage has been healed. But I don't know if she'll make it through the night. It may have been too late," Pelee informed Celosia.

Tern suddenly crumpled to the floor.

"Get her comfortable. She's drained," Pelee snapped. Two Amazons jumped forward.

Seriana watched, wondering if she'd ever get her memory back. The names in the story had all sounded so familiar yet . . .there was still a black void.


She arrived in the village and saw the women scurrying about. Samsara dismounted and rushed immediately to the medic hut and saw the women gathered around Seriana, Pelee, Tern, the Queen, and Medea.

The women muttered as she passed the other beds to reach them. They weren't sure if they should lower their heads as they did since the first day or turn away from her. She did nothing to protect a fellow Themiscyran. She stood and watched as Ares prepared to kill Medea.

Samsara kept her head lowered herself. She felt ashamed for her lack of action and she felt the looks of her fellow Amazons burning into her back. But she stopped at Xantheaís bed and watched as the Shamaness and the apprentice healers at work.

The Shamaness looked at the Princess-Heiress. "I heard you could heal without a Godís blessing," she said quietly, returning to her work.

"Xanthea is far from Death's reach," Samsara responded. "You should let her heal in her own time."

A young Keturah attacked Samsara. "How can you say that?" she cried. She pointed frantically to the head healer. "Look at her. Look at her!"

Xanthea began to shake violently.

"Oh, by the gods," the Keturah whispered, kneeling by the side of her Archila.

Celosia moved over to her friendís side. She wiped a hand across the sweating brow, her dark skin almost a stain against the paleness of Xantheaís drained flesh. Xanthea calmed, her shaking subsiding for the moment.

"Heal her," Yakut demanded.

Samsara looked down at Xanthea and placed her hands on the fevered head. A glow surrounded the Goddesses fingers as she poured what healing power she could into the Keturah Archila. Suddenly, lightning struck and Samsara fell back with a scream, curled in fetal position.

Xanthea sat up in her bed. She turned startled and confused eyes to Celosia, Yakut and then to Samsara. "What happened?" she asked.

The Goddess climbed to her feet, ignoring the question. She turned instead to her half-sister, partially hidden in the crowd by Medeaís bed. "Do you remember who I am?" she asked.

Seriana shook her head, upset that everything in her life was one great cloud. There were no tangible memories she could call up to help her place her face to a name and heritage. Nothing seemed to help. "I - I don't remember anything . . ."

"Seriana . . . I am your sister by Ares."

The Amazons gasped. They spoke ill of Ares, but to have a goddess daughter in their midst for several weeks . . .

No wonder she didn't attack her father, Tern concluded. She has loyalty to him as well!

Samsara moved to her half-sisterís side. Queen Celosia followed knowing there was information here she needed. Information she appeared to need to take where she could.

Samsara took her sisterís hands. The minute they touched, she received a vision and her face turned sour. "He knows you're here . . . You've spoken with him..." she slowly said. "...And he will come for you..."

"My father is the God of War? He attacked my sisters?" she remarked. "No, no father of mine would do that! No father of mine IS that!" She pushed passed the others and ran out of the hut.

Samsara started after her, but Celosia put a hand on her shoulder. "When you come back, we need to have a long discussion," she warned. Her voice was neither curt nor ominous, but Samsara feared she would be reprimanded for what she had done.

She bobbed her head and ran out of the hut. She observed her sister mounting her horse and called for her own, Prince, with a shrill whistle. Prince came thundering toward her and she mounted him immediately, kicking her raven steed into a pounding gallop.

"Seriana!" she shouted as she followed her sister away from the village. "Stop, I need to speak with you!"

"Leave me be! I just want my memory back! No more lies!"

Samsara, angered, threw a fireball at a bough high above Serianaís head. The branch fell flaming to the ground and she hoped that it would scare the otherís horse enough to stop. But Seriana rode as naturally as she fought, jumping over the fiery wood with ease.

Soon enough however, Prince cut off Denius acres away from Themiscyra. They stopped in a clearing as soon as Samsara pulled on the war-horseís reins. "You will listen to me! We need to talk, Seri!"

Before she could say any more, Ares appeared. He had his sword drawn and stood in fighting stance. "I'm here to collect what is mine."

Samsara dismounted. She kept her staff strong in hand, ready to retaliate. "You are the proprietor of nothing," she said. "You do not own her and you will never own me." She twirled her staff. "And if you do not leave her be, I will be your samsara . . ."


Ares laughed when he realized that his daughter was not joking. Her fury showed clearly on her face, marked out in the furrow of her brow. "Now let's not fight over petty matters, Samsara!" he said, stepping closer. "She's your sister . . . my daughter! How can you tell me that I can't have her live on Olympus?"

"Because I know better," the Goddess responded, standing fast in her place. I will not let you take her, she vowed silently. "You never took me in. You let me live in Teloq for years before you ever said anything to me . . ."

"Only for a few years, Samsara," he corrected. He stopped several feet from her. "I don't want to make the same mistake with Seriana. Seeing as though she has no recollection, it's as if it were a clean slate . . ."

Seriana remained on Denius, watching the two spar with words. She knew to remain. This was it. Maybe I will start to remember . . . She remembered him introducing himself as Mars. Why was he calling her his daughter now?

"Why don't you tell her the truth, Father?" Samsara continued, forming a fireball in her hand.

"You know, since you aren't a full Olympian Goddess you only have a limited supply of those."

"I'll deal," she responded, throwing it at him. He formed a force field and stopped the fireball before it hit him. He yawned.

"Petty," he brought down a lightning bolt. He threw it at her, but she deflected it with a swing of her staff and hit him, hurling him back to a nearby tree.

She tossed her long ponytail behind her. "I learn from the best." She dropped her staff and spun gracefully until she formed a force between both of her hands. The wind began to pick up heavily as she stood erect, facing skyward. "Oh, Artemis, give me the power . . . " she whispered as the force turned a transparent blue. She then threw her arms before her and sent the force toward her father, felling the tree. She fell to her knees, weakened.

Ares groaned as he pulled himself up. "My own daughter . . ." he bemoaned.

Samsara looked up at him. "Take this as fair warning, Father," she called. "You so much as set foot in Themiscyra and I will see to it that you pay." He vanished without another word.

Seriana jumped down from Denius. "Samsara?" she said. "That was Ares wasn't it?"

"Yes," the younger responded, standing. "He tried to take you once . . . You were with the Warrior Princess and she taught you how to shoot, but you had a raw talent that no one else possessed - "

"I killed a deer and he appeared and tried to take me away . . ." Seriana finished.

Samsara blinked. She was beginning to remember! She smiled. "I think we're getting somewhere," she said. But she won't remember everything and she won't remember some of the most important things in her life. She needs to be cured somehow.


"That depends on where were getting," Seriana observed. She stretched a hand towards Denius, who walked over to her as docilely as a pony. Samsara called Prince and mounted up.

The two black stallions regarded one another suspiciously. Prince screamed a challenge and tried to rear, but Samsara brought him down. Denius screamed as well, his reins cutting Seriana's hands as he tried to get loose. Her eyes went wide as another memory hit her.

"Denius!" she roared, jerking his head around so his eye met hers. "Save it."

He obediently tossed his mane and stood still, continuing to eye Prince.

"He was my war-stallion," she said, running a firm hand along his neck. "I fought so many battles with him . . . but they're just noise. I remember Denius, but nothing else."

"Denius is something," Samsara decided. "Is there more?"

Seriana shook her head. "Nothing. Just noise." She swung into the saddle. "Let's get back to the village before Mars . . . I mean Ares . . . I mean . . ." She shook her head. "You know who I'm talking about. Your father. Before he shows up again."

Samsara nodded. "Yes. My father."

The stallions' heads turned back towards the village.


Back at camp, Swift Blazer observed the Med hut. Celosia had gotten some answers from Tern and Medea seemed to look physically stronger with every bite she took. Thalia was resting on her bed, suffering from a fever. An attendant wiped her forehead every so often with a cool rag.

The Queen observed Swift Blazer and went to her. "Now tell me about these slavers. What do they want with Themiscyra?"

"They are slavers. They want to trade in Amazon hide," she responded quietly. They walked outside. "I swear I didn't want to lead them to you," she continued. "I thought I lost them which is why it took me so long to get here . . ."

Celosia nodded. "Our larger concern is keeping them away or not. But we will solve this problem of yours. We'll be sure to train you further in your weapons and teach you how to lose a stalker." She called for Valkyra.

"Yes, Celosia," the golden-haired woman said as she reached the pair.

"I would like for you to be Swift Blazer's mentor. I would like for her to learn the ways of the Amazons and learn them well. I know you are good for the job."

Valkyra nodded. "Certainly." Her blue eyes sparkled.

Samsara and Seriana continued to ride toward Themiscyra. Prince and Denius regarded each other distantly. Every so often Prince would rear his head and glare at Denius with his ruby eyes and Denius would snort in disapproval.

"Prince has always done this, but with good reason," Samsara noted. "He never got along with Kaia's horse ever . . . and they are brothers," she chuckled.

"Denius has been like this as far back as I can recall," Seriana said, falling into silence. She wanted her memory back. Her entire life seemed a blur to her. "Who is Kaia?"

"Our half sister by our wonderful father," she responded with disdain. "Maybe Pelee or Tern can help you . . . Or perhaps . . ." The Great Destroyer smiled. "Maybe the Great One?" She would have to ask Celosia immediately. A risky endeavor but as Mnemosyne could erase memories, perhaps she could restore them? It was worth a try . . . she would attempt anything to give her sister her life back. Anything . . .

"You seem so good, Samsara," Seriana said. "Why do you want to help me so much?"

She sighed. "You are my blood sister. Just as I would help any Amazon I would help you especially." She smiled. She wanted to make up for not helping Medea, for not proving her worth. I must prove to them that I am worthy to rule another Amazon village, she thought. I must prove to them that I didn't win this title by default, that I didn't win it because the Pentad wanted to control my sister.

Samsara stopped. She motioned for Seriana to do the same. She listened intently.

"Discord . . ." she breathed. "How long will it take you to realize that I can sense the presence of the gods?"

"Wow," she said, appearing. "You seem so much like Xena. So good and so pure," she mocked. "Yet you refuse to be like her. How about you tell Seriana the truth about what you are?"


"Shut up," the High Princess responded. "Just shut up and go away."

"What does she mean?" Seri said. "Who you really are?"

The Goddess of Mayhem looked at the girl and laughed. "You don't remember anything do you? Well, news flash hussy: your sister is nothing but a - -"

"Can it!" Samsara warned. She raised her staff.

Discord pouted and shook her head. "My, my aren't we a little protective of our pasts? The sad part of it all is that you are still like the old Xena. Very much like her. Why don't you just admit it and please your daddy? Lead your army. Be like mommy-dearest."


"Go away," Samsara nudged ahead, but Discord just laughed forming a lightning bolt in her eyes.

Samsara was angry. "You wouldn't dare," she responded, hoping Kaia's mother would not retaliate.

"You're right," she responded, calming her sights. "There are other ways of dealing with her." She vanished to the sound of yowling cats.

The sisters kicked into a gallop and reached the encampment within before Apollo made his descent. Celosia stood at the gates awaiting the girls' arrival. She wanted to speak with Samsara immediately.

However before she could speak, Samsara dismounted and shut the gates. She approached the Queen and said, "We can't let Seriana outside of the gates. Not until this is resolved at least."

Seriana jumped down from Denius, angry. "Excuse me?" she demanded. "You may be my sister, but you don't make decisions for me . . ."

Samsara lifted her head. "When Ares is involved I will make decisions for you until you recover your memory."

Celosia furrowed her brows. What kind of Amazon did Serena and Ephiny send me? she wondered.

On one hand she was offended that Samsara spoke the way she did, but on the other she was pleased that she would feel such kinship with a daughter of Ares that she would do anything to protect her. "How do you mean, Samsara," Celosia said. "She is just as vulnerable here. But this is Artemis' sanctuary . . . Good thinking."

"I hope," the High Princess said. "After what I showed Father, he will try harder not to set foot on the Thermadon River," she sighed.

Seriana was still angry. I refuse to be commanded like that, she thought. She then remembered being hit across the head. She felt the scar across her temple. She remembered the man charging after her, then a tall, dark woman pulling him off of her and holding a sword high above to kill him. She kept quiet. There was enough tension.


Seriana glared, feeling stubborn and little girlish. This was getting frustrating. Everyone bossing her around, her best friend healing, disturbing memories coming back in bits and pieces, of battles and beatings and that Discord person trying to kill her. She had begun to think that she'd not had a stable childhood.

But however great her frustrations were getting, her fears were greater. She didn't dare to venture out of the village, with gods and kidnappers wandering the woods. So she went to the archery range and threw her dagger over and over again into the target.

The ruby flashed in the morning sunlight as the knife flew through the air.

Swift Blazer and Valkyra arrived shortly after, armed with strong, slender Amazon bows.

"Hi," Swift Blazer said shyly, eyeing the frustration on her face. "What're you doing?"

"I think I'm going to go beat my head against something," Seriana answered. Whoosh and thump: the knife hit dead center. "Doesn't that sometimes help bring back memories?"

"Either that or give you a concussion," Valkyra said with a shrug.

Seriana retrieved the Ruby Dagger and cleared the range so they could practice. Flipping it absently, she wandered over to the palisade and leaned against it, racking her mind for something . . . anything.

"Hey, where've you been?" asked a strange voice behind her. She whirled, weapon at ready, into the unfamiliar faces of Hercules and Iolaus. She did not know them. All she knew was that they were men in an Amazon village and the one was bigger than Ares was.

"Swift Blazer!" she shouted. "Valkyra! Samsara! Thalia! Celosia! Intruders!"

Both of them fell back a step. "Ser, calm down," Iolaus pleaded. "It's us, remember?"

"Trust me, you don't want me to answer that question right now," she hissed. "Shorty, draw the sword and throw it over there. And you, God, keep your hands exactly where they are. I've been blown up enough for one night."

Hercules closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Seri, I cannot, and I will not, blow you up. And I'm less a god than you are."

"I am not a god!" she shrieked. "Everyone keeps telling me that and I don't want to hear it, so just shut up!"

Celosia and Samsara came dashing around the corner of a hut, weapons out, only to moan as they saw the two cornered men.

"You two have been great help all night," Celosia commented. "Where have you been?"

"Um . . ." Iolaus decided the quickest way to phrase it. "Did you know that a bunch of slavers is going to attack the village?"

"It had come to our attention," Swift Blazer said dryly as she walked up.

"Seriana," Samsara said calmly, "They're friends. Back off."

She slowly lowered the dagger and stepped behind the other Amazons. "I hate this," she snarled. "I want to remember!"

She turned and fled, leaving her very stunned uncle and his very stunned friend staring after her.


Meanwhile, Thalia groaned and tried to sit up, but Xanthea made her lay back down. Her head was pounding and her shoulder throbbed. She vaguely remembered what had gone on, the conversations not registering until now.

"I need . . . to talk to Seriana . . ." she sighed.

"You're not going anywhere," Xanthea arranged her poultices. "You're still weak and have a fever, you need to rest."

Thalia pursed her lips, her stubborn side kicking in. Morphing into a chipmunk she scuttled under the table. The healer was so surprised to turn around to find Thalia gone that she didn't notice the tiny creature dash out the door.

She was scuttling away from the tent when a dark shadow swooped overhead - an owl. Thalia quickly ran to the safety of a tree root.

"Great," she muttered to herself. "Survive wars only to be eaten by a bird. Smart, Thalia, real smart." She morphed back into a human, but a wave of dizziness overcame her and she fell on her behind. "Whew, have to lay off that for a bit." She chuckled. She didn't have the energy to morph yet. "Not that that's ever stopped me before . . ." She smiled to herself. "I am so stubborn, I'm going to get myself killed someday." She shrugged.

Now, to find Seriana. She scanned the village, but saw no sign of her. Walking deeper into the woods she caught sight of Hercules and Iolaus. "Hey, guys!" She smiled as she greeted them.

"Thalia! Long time no see." Iolaus gave her a pat on the shoulder. "How are things?"

"Um . . . complicated." She put aside their puzzled looks. "I'll explain later. Have you seen Seriana?"

"Uh, yeah, just a few moments ago. She acted like she had no idea who we were and ran off that way," Iolaus pointed into the woods. "What's going on?"

"She lost her memory, ran away, tried to kill me, saved me and is frustrated that she can't remember anything." Thalia answered before running off, leaving the confused duo staring after her.

She walked silently through the woods searching for her Amazon sister. She considered morphing into a bird to move faster, but a dizzy spell changed her mind. Deep into the woods, she sat down to rest for a moment when she heard something in the bushes. Her weak and sore muscles complaining at her, she got up to investigate the sound. She found Seriana throwing rocks as far she could.

"Seriana?" she asked softly.

Seriana whirled around, her dagger ready. When she saw it was Thalia, she relaxed and re-sheathed it. "What are you doing here?" Her voice had an edge to it.

"Um . . . I came to see how you were doing," Thalia answered as she approached. Another wave of dizziness washed over her and she held her head in her hands.

"Are you all right?" Seriana went to her side and helped her sit against a tree. She herself sat on a fallen log.

"I'm fine, just left the Med hut a little early," Thalia chuckled.

"Why did you come?" Seriana picked up a rock, turning it over and over in her hands.

"I came to see if you were all right," Thalia propped her elbow on a root.

"I'm fine."

Thalia cocked an eyebrow amusedly. "No, you're not."

Seriana sighed. "Okay, I'm not. After all that's happened I still don't know what's going on. Not only do I not know anything about myself, I can't even remember what has gone on the past few days. Even more scary, in a few days I won't even remember what is going on right now. No one wants to live like that, Thalia. If I have no memories then what is the point? My life, my existence, has no meaning to me right now. I don't know what I have done nor what I will do." Seriana gripped the rock tightly, her voice more frustrated. "I know I have these memories trapped inside me, memories of my life and the people in it but I can't reach them! My thoughts, my happy memories are out of my reach." Standing up, Seriana threw the rock as hard as she could. It flew through the air and disappeared into the treetops.

Thalia's fever continued to bother her but she ignored it. "Seriana, I promise you that we will get your memories back," she looked the Amazon in the eye. "No matter what it takes. You're right, no one should have to live like this, and we'll make sure you won't. That's what Amazon sisters are for." Thalia looked up at Seriana with determined eyes.


"Samsara," Hercules said quietly. He was not sure how to regard his niece by his brother. She was strong and of a good heart, but contained the fury that was Callisto. He heard of her rout of Uzbek Khan's Mongols in the East and was wary of the path she chose to take, leading a vicious army. But as she was in Celosia's village and not on her own, he was slightly relieved.

"Hercules," she responded. She twirled her staff. "How are you?"

"Fine," he answered. "I hear you've been fighting off these slavers . . ."

"Yes," she said quietly. "They have some affiliation with Father of course. They are stronger than I ever thought they could be. They must have Father's blessing."

Iolaus nodded. "They did seem much stronger when we got to them. But of course my superior fighting skills stopped them from approaching here," he smiled and nudged his friend. Secretly, the idea that Hercules was stronger and more agile than he was still hurt, and he used humor to mask that pain.

Samsara smiled. Although she was still leery of Hercules -- she had an aversion to goody-two-shoes types -- she took well to the short blonde one. She even found him attractive in a silly, clownish way. But an Amazon in her eyes did not fall in love with a man. She shook her head. "We need to stop them somehow."

"Hey," Iolaus said. "Shouldn't we go find Ser?"

Samsara shook her head. "Thalia, though physically weak, is with her. She escaped the Keturah like a silly girl," she smiled. She felt it when Thalia morphed and escaped. She will regret that eventually, she thought, referring to her feeling more pain later on in the night. "At least my sister is not alone. I would be upset if she were. She has a good friend in Thalia despite what happened." She blinked.

She looked at the two heroes. "Something is wrong," she said. She gripped her staff.


Seriana squeezed Thalia's hand. "I don't know you, but I feel this kinship."

"You're my best friend, silly!" Thalia responded with a smile and a weak chuckle. She groaned. The pain increased slightly. She should have stayed in bed, but Seri was more important.

"How . . . trite," a voice said. A bolt of lightning crashed and in its place appeared Discord. She had a dagger in her hand and was picking out the dirt from under her fingernails. Suddenly a group of men appeared behind her. Four beefy men stood wearing their leather pants and nothing else. Their arms were crossed and their faces were mean.

"Who are you and what do you want?" demanded Thalia.

"I'm merely doing Ares a favor. I'm doing something that he should have done years ago when he found out he had a bastard child: take her in immediately . . ." she responded, her eyes flaring up. "Or kill her."


Winning Isn't Everything

Promises Promises


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