Samsara remained behind, wanting to spend quality time with Karma. The child was an angel in disguise, she was sure of it.


As she fed her the remaining goat's milk from the supply Hippoppih had given her, the Goddess spoke to her about her life. The child - near 7 moons old - looked at her mother and drank in every word she said along with the milk from the skin offered to her. Her tiny hands began to hold the skin, held firmly in place by the older woman.


Samsara spoke about Mariko at length. She missed her mentor and wondered where exactly she went... and how exactly she escaped her aunt's watch.


Although she didn't answer the question with her entrance, any mystery surrounding her current whereabouts was solved when the Eastern Woman walked in through the front door. Samsara looked up at her mentor. "And where have you been?" she queried.


"Following you, your new sister, and Akvoryai," she quietly answered.


"Why did you leave?"


"To diminish Caesar's numbers."


The Master of War's eyes widened. "Caesar? Last I heard..."


"He headed west. Lies. He sent a legion southwestward from Rome, dropping to the south of Greece near Thrace and landing in Cruen. Where you and your sister lived for a while," she dropped her knapsack onto the ground.


"He circumvented Dachus' sphere!" Samsara exclaimed. Karma's eyes darted from her mother to the Japanese woman. "By the Gods... by Me!"


"Samsara, you must go help your sisters; they've walked into a trap."


"What am I supposed to do?" the Princess-Heiress demanded, standing up. The child's green eyes looked up and searched for Samsara's which looked directly at Mariko's black eyes. "I have a child to care for! A child who is to perpetuate the Teloans. I can't go into a war in which the Themiscyrans have no need for me."


"It's not so much for the Themiscyrans, but for your aunt," Mariko explained, placing her hands on her hips just above her kens. "I fear that Caesar will capture Jadea through no fault of Zia's. Now, will you involve yourself?"


There was no time to answer that question, for Karma made stomach-churning choking noises. Samsara pulled the skin from her daughter's vice-like grip in fear.




Meanwhile …


Seriana charged with the rest of her sisters when they heard Zia's shout. The plan was abrupt, but in fact, in the making during their stay in Teloq. Her moves were fast and deadly, just as her father Ares had taught her. Soldier after Roman pig soldier fell at the end of her blade. Seriana Ritani, Silver Hawk and Fire Demon, was a sight to behold.


Somehow, she got separated from the rest of her sisters. She turned around and found nothing about her until a bright light blinded her line of vision. In its place appeared Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Her arms were crossed and she wore an angry look on her face.


"Well, well, well, well," she said. "If it isn't the older sister of that demon spawn my brother begot. Once I'm done with all of you related to her, my life will be so much easier, so much more comfortable. I finally get to have it out with the Princess of War, she who believes she has the right to sit in Ares' place on the Olympian Council. That is almost as laughable as when your snotty, brat of a sister decided she was an Olympian after one bite of ambrosia," she shook her head.


"What do you want, Athena?"


"Oh, just a bit of revenge," she pointed at Seriana. "Samsara may have been the one to do it, but my blessed, Athenia, died at the end of your blade!" With a zap, Seriana was gone.


Meanwhile …


Discord landed in Themiscyran grounds just as Samsara was rushing out of her hut with a sick Karma in her arms. Wide-eyed, she stopped, looking at Discord in utter surprise. "W-What are you doing here?" she demanded. Karma was breathing again, thankfully.


Discord smiled as she threw one hip to the side and tossed her hair. "I came to claim what belongs to the Gods, mongrel, Rhea's Ruby. And if I have to kill that horse of yours to do it, then so be it."


Samsara had a dilemma; her child, or her horse, both of whom meant the world to her.


Thankfully Mariko was back and happy to help her apprentice. She flipped down from the trees and knocked the Goddess of Mayhem down, drawing both of her kens. She turned to Samsara and said, "Samsara, GO!"


Samsara ran at lightning speed just as Xanthea was answering to the call. The Goddess faltered, not because she was tripping over her two feet, but because she sensed something wrong with Seriana. She pushed Karma into Xanthea's arms. "S-Something's wrong..."


The Medic brought the young child into the hut. The women inside perked up, some of them Shamaness-Priestesses of Asclepius trained by Aratus. They surrounded the child immediately.


"What happened?" Xan demanded. Samsara told her the circumstances. One of the Priestesses exampled the child's spittle.


"She's been poisoned!"


Samsara’s heart clenched at the words.


Meanwhile . . .


Jadea was in a heap of trouble, but she wasn’t aware of it until an old adversary appeared.


"Thought ye killed me, didn't ya?" came a female voice. The voice echoed in the forest, but only the Sorceress heard.


The Cirran froze. She knew that voice. She knew it well.





Thalia moved at Zia's sudden cry, bewildered as to what the Amazon was up to. Nevertheless, she fought her way throughout the camp, blade swinging true. She should have stayed far enough away to use the crossbow, but she was needed on the ground.


Out of the corner of her eye she caught a flash of light, a God? Quickly morphing into a squirrel she raced through the trees to see Seriana disappear! Athena, standing near, disappeared as well.


What is going on? She was startled out of her thoughts as she was almost crushed by an Amazon foot stumbling through as she fended off an attacker. Quickly taking the form of a bear, Thalia took out Valkyra's attacker in one swipe and charged through the camp, roaring. I need to find Celosia!





Zia held on to her dagger against Caesar's neck. She could feel his breath against her arms. There was a look of fear in his eyes.


"So this is how you repay me, Zia," Caesar said. "I have given you everything that any young Roman girl would want."


"You have given me everything including pain and sadness when you put my mother and father in the arena and slaughtered them!" Zia shouted.


"Your mother was a disgrace. She was an Amazon and your father betrayed Rome by loving her. You were the outcome of all this. I could have killed you too Zia, but I saved you. You were like my daughter."


"I would rather die and rot in hell than call you father," Zia sneered while fire blazed in her green eyes. Zia’s dagger sliced across Caesar’s neck. His eyes opened wide as blood began to pour down his neck.


In seconds, Octavius appeared and took his sword. He pushed it against Caesar’s chest. "This is what you get for making Rome a disgrace to us all."


Caesar began to laugh and moan. "My dear nephew, even if I am dead, you still have the rest of our family to deal with." The Emperor closed his eyes and his lolled to the side.


"I killed him." Zia said. "Now I am like him!"


"Zia, wait!" Octavius cried out.


But his voice fell on deaf ears. Zia ran out into where the fight between Caesar’s army and the Amazons was being held.





Jade's eyes widened at the sight of an old adversary popping up.


The woman began to circle her. "If only Rumyna could see you now. Fierce and beautiful," She created a force of energy in her hands. "But this is the end, Jadea. It's finally come down to that."




"POISONED?" Samsara exclaimed. She looked at her child. "How? How?"


Aratisia looked up at the Teloan Queen. "The goat's milk. There was something in what you were feeding her."


Samsara shook her head. "No, there couldn't have been! I fed her that for days and nothing! She was fine!  …Hippoppih, no..." She thought of the Imperial Guard, the one she herself trained, giving her child the goat's milk. The only thought that coursed through her mind was of Athena seeking revenge.


She knelt down to her crying daughter. Karma was in immense pain. The Goddess looked up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. She scooped her daughter into her arms and touched her forehead with her two forefingers. A glowing light surrounded the two Amazons. Samsara transfered the pain from her daughter to herself, into her own body. She stumbled again.


Xanthea looked at her in surprise. "Samsara..."


"I took my daughter's pain. By the Gods, it won't last long, but it'll give me enough time to settle things," she sniffled as the pain was beginning to course through her body violently. She gave the child to Xan with these stern words. "Guard her with your life. Feed her what you know is best." Her eyes became misty. "She's an Heiress. She can't die."




Thalia raced to Medea's aid. The soldiers knew who to attack and they went after the current Queen.


"MEDEA!" Thalia cried as she morphed back into human form. She raced in with her sword and felled a man about to attack from behind.


"Samsara," came a voice. Pause. "Samsara!"





The Goddess was startled. She reached for her dagger. A hand moved roughly stopped her by grabbing her wrist. She attempted to wrest out of the grip, but her eyes softened when she recognized the insignia of a wolf burned onto the hand.


She looked up. It was Dachus.


They were in her hut and it was early evening.


She sat up, still shocked. "D-Dachus??" she demanded.


"Yes, Great Destroyer, it's me. I came to report personally."


In the room were Jadea, Seriana, and a beaming Medea.


"What in the Hades is going on?" she cried. "MY DAU-"


"Shhh!" said Seriana. She had Karma in her hands and was feeding her the goat's milk Hippoppih gave her from a skin. "You'll agitate her!"


The Goddess stood. The look on her face was puzzled. Had she...? "Report," she commanded of her Commander.


He smiled as he stood to her. At six feet, he was strong and of medium build. He wore his Hephaestian armor and a great smile that almost mirrored Medea's. "I came to report that with the help of your Amazons, we've been able to fend off Caesar's legions."


"B-But... Caesar's... He's sending an army southwest-"


"Which landed in Thrace and attempted to go through Cruen. He knew that area was  not patrolled," Jadea responded. "Zia unintentionally led him there when she met with Octavius. I sent Ardra with a warning to your General. Seriana decided to send a legion to fortify and the Thermodonians were gracious enough to send troops as well."


"When... When did this happen?" The Goddess Kakistos was now more than perplexed. How in the Hades did she get back to her hut? Last she remembered she was about to dismember Discord.


"We went to another ceremony and you felt a bit tired and sick," Medea responded. "So your sister took you back to your hut where you passed out. You have to stop it with the mead, hon."


She blinked. She took Karma into her arms and drew the skin away from the child's lips. "Stop feeding her this stuff. We'll find something else to suckle her with."


When Seriana tried to protest, her younger sister cut her off. "It's poisoned. Hippoppih poisoned it!"


Seriana laughed. "Look, we're done with the poisoning bit. It's ok! The Majie are gone, remember?"


Samsara forced a smile. "Yeah, yeah, I know..."


"By the way," Medea interjected. "You're little friend is back. Dachus, time for you to leave before any of the younger Amazons develop feelings for you." Dachus was a looker. Brown hair, brown eyes, dark skin, muscular. Talk, dark, and handsome ladies. But his heart belonged to his Great Destroyer of Greece.


He kissed his leader's hand. "Until we meet again, Great One."


"'Till we meet again," she responded. He left. Mariko walked in. Samsara ushered the others out so she could have a private talk with her mentor. "Where have you been?" she hissed.


"I followed you to Teloq and to diminish Caesar's numbers. I returned because I sense you gaining a new power," she dropped her knapsack.


"New power?" Samsara scoffed. "Okay, I'm done with this. Done. Please leave, Mariko. Please."


"My business with you is not over, Athanase. Touch your daughter's forehead. What do you feel?"


Samsara did as told and found a slight amount of poison in her daughter's system, which she immediately removed with a bit of concentration. She looked to Mariko wide-eyed.


"You got a glimpse of the future. Your new power is that of premonition."





Zia screamed with the realization of what she had done. She fell to her knees and took the bloody dagger that was still warm with Caesar’s blood. "I killed Caesar! I killed Caesar! He is dead because I took his life!"


The Amazons looked in shock at Zia. Of all the Amazons in the tribe, she was not the one they would have expected to kill the great Caesar. After all, she was still a young teen and a Roman. Now she was a young teen with open eyes.


A dark cloud appeared and thundered blazed all over the battle. It was Ares, God of War. He smiled approvingly at Zia. "Hello little one," he said.


"Ares," Zia whispered.


"Yes. I admired what you just did. I have never seen an Amazon with enough courage to kill the great Caesar. Now the Empire is yours at your command"


"No! Get away!" Zia shrieked.


"Very well. just remember, with one whisper of my name, I am at your command, little one," Ares said. When the dark cloud left and the thunder seem to stop, the Amazons looked in horror and great surprise.


Zia got on horseback and shouted out. "I will deliver Rome!"





Jadea stood outside and spoke privately with Medea. Neither woman looked too pleased with things. "Something's wrong here, Medea. Gravely wrong," she told her Co-Queen.


The Queen Regent was inclined to agree with her. "Yes, well you're niece seems to be losing her mind faster than any of us. I'd say that constitutes as a problem, since she is now Queen of Teloq," her voice streamed with some sarcasm that got her a scolding look.


"I don't like this," Jadea shook her head. "Find Zia. In fact, I want a headcount of Amazons. If anyone's missing, alert me immediately," she stated with no room for compromise.


When she was seconds away from vanishing, Medea questioned her intentions. "Wait! Where are you going?"


The Sorceress Empress illuminated a circle of light, her hair flying up in a gust of wind that swirled up around her. She brought a giant fireball into her hands. At last, she answered and her voice pierced through the winds. "Where I died and Jadea lived!"


With that, she was gone. Medea stood with wide-eyes, appearing to have been blindsided. Finally, she shook her head in dismay. "Could she be any more cryptic?" Her head turned in time to see Pike leaving the mess hut. "Pike! I'm commanding a headcount of all Amazons! Sound the horn!"


Pike nodded and quickly took off across camp. A minute or two later, a strange noise reverberated throughout the forest.





Arriving in Cirra, Jadea felt the wind sweep around her as though some force stirred the elements. She stood on the ground where her house once had been. The spot was but mere grass and bush now. The Cirra Valley had long since grown over and hid the scars of devastation that Xena's army had brought.


The Sorceress Empress closed her eyes, her arms slowly raising on either side of her body. She lifted them higher until her hands very nearly touched. A ring of silver mist encircled her followed by burst of flames to her right. Gradually, Jadea lowered both arms and opened her eyes. She turned herself to the right, the ring of mist still hovering in the air.


"She lives?" The Cirran asked, mortified by the thought she had questioned.


From the flames, a female voice answered. The voice was calm but solemn. The voice was familiar. As it should have been. "She lives, Jadea."


Angrily, Jadea took a step forward and fists clenched tightly. When she moved, the circle of mist moved with her as though a part of her body.


"And Callisto?" Her voice cracked somewhat with the mention of her sister's name. She knew her sister lived. That had not been what disturbed her so greatly. Jadea wished Callisto be returned to her. But the voice did not answer.


"Rumyna!" She screamed violently, her pendant glowing a fiery red.


"Callisto cannot help you, Jadea," the voice answered. Unmistakably Rumyna's voice.


"Yes, she can!" The Sorceress Empress cried out so fiercely that the winds picked up in gusts that whipped her hair wildly around.


"Callisto is not Amazon, Jadea. You are!" Rumyna told her. The woman could not be seen, only heard.


"What good is it to be Amazon? Huh? Tell me! What good is that name? An Amazon is persecuted from the moment she is conceived and born until she dies! The only way an Amazon has a chance to survive is to become as ruthless as the men she loathes! Tell me, Rumyna, is this what you want? Is this what you meant when you said I must choose between my blood and my heart?" With every word she spoke, Jadea's agony intensified until she could no longer hold back the water from her eyes.


Unknown to the Sorceress Empress, a god watched her with intent eyes. He observed her as though his livelihood depended on knowing the outcome. The god would soon send Themiscyra help...against the wishes of his fellow Olympians.


Rumyna held her peace until her protégé had spoken hers. At last, her voice sounded out from the flames once again. "You are born of Cirra. You are bred of the Amazon world and life. You lived, loved, and hated in Celtia. You forged alliances between enemies. You met and defeated formidable foes. You twice spared the life of the man who betrayed you in both love and war."


Jadea fell deathly silent. The wind became suddenly still. Her fists unclenched, but the mist around her remained. "I have to save my family," she said quietly. The flickering flames seemed to agree in their own way.


"Callisto is with you, Jadea. I am with you," Rumyna told her in a clear, straight manner.


The Amazon's expression altered dramatically. She suddenly held a determined, hopeful, and understanding look. Nodding, Jadea replied, "I know what I must do."


A moment later, the flames vanished, and so did Jadea. She appeared in Themiscyra. Unintentionally, her exact "landing" spot was in front of Medea, who nearly died of shock.


"Uhhh! How many times-"


Jadea cut in, a stern look on her face. "Where's Samsara?"


Medea blinked uncertainly. "In your hut with Karma, I believe. Why?"


No time to answer. Jadea vanished again and entered her hut. Indeed, her niece was there lying on a pallet with herbs around her. "What do you think you're doing?" Jadea questioned and startled the Amazon goddess.


"I...I-" Samsara closed her eyes. She could barely keep herself awake. Jadea immediately knelt down beside her and placed a hand on her forehead.


"Poison? Perfect," she got up to grab an elixir out of a drawer. "Remind me to send Athena to Tartarus," Jadea quipped and knelt back down. Her left arm slid beneath Samsara's neck to tilt her head up some. "Easy...easy. Just drink."


Reluctantly, the Teloan drank for a few moments. Jadea laid her head back down on the pillow when it became clear Samsara could drink no more.


"I wish I could say you'll be cured soon. Unfortunately, this takes time. Stay here. I'll get Xanthea." Jadea walked out of her hut and straight into Thalia, who appeared to have something on her mind. "Not now, Thalia."


As she walked on by, the Head Scout sent her: Xanthea couldn't help Sami. That's why she went to your hut. Queen Medea ordered a headcount. Zia is missing.


Jadea, of course, stopped. Where's Karma?


With Seriana in Samsara's hut, the scout looked distressed but in control of herself. She'd seen worse in her time.


Should we send a search party for Zia? Thalia asked after a long pause.


Jadea shook her head. Zia was half-Roman. The Sorceress Empress knew where she'd be. No, but when she returns, make sure Medea gets to her.


Thalia nodded and left Jadea standing on the far side of the camp. She was in the middle of a thought when a pricking sensation took hold of her. Angus, show your face and I'll shoot you right 'tween the eyes!


Needless to say, the mischievous Celt did not "show his face." He never entered Themiscyra. But there was no doubt Angus was nearby.





Mariko and Seriana were in Samsara's hut. Mariko wanted to hold Karma in her arms, but knew that asking Seriana would be a futile exercise, so she paced the hut. She sensed Jadea's arrival. The Eastern Woman had been the one to put the herbs by her apprentice in an effort to keep her stabilized. Of course, the herbs - which were smoldering - would only work for a limited time. "I hope Samsara can be cured," Mariko said.


Seriana looked up at her. "She has to be cured."


The woman stopped pacing and looked at the Amazon. "I fear, Silver Hawk, that the gods have started their retaliation against the concept of athanase and to do so, they have to retaliate against samsara."


"I-I don't understand," Seriana said, shaking her head. Karma gripped her aunt's finger as she listened in. She understood more than they thought she did.


"The Gods' actions are causing the fall of the Pantheon. It began with Callisto, taken out of Tartarus to kill Hercules and it will end with their own scheming. They are retaliating against the concept of immortality and to do so they have to make sure that their souls cannot return to the material world..."





The Amazons watched in horror as Zia kept screaming out, "I will deliver Rome!" While she was riding on horseback. Any man of Caesar's that dare pass Zia was killed by her sword or dagger. Her hands were covered in blood and tears filled her liquid green eyes.


Thalia grabbed Zia's arm and both women fell to the ground. "Zia, this is not like you! What is going on?"


"Thalia, I killed Caesar, the man who killed my family, and instead of feeling victorious, I feel .....empty. I am like him......"





Her sleep was fitful and she tossed in Jadea's bedroll. These thoughts of Zia killing Caesar were rather disturbing to her. Dachus got rid of the Roman legion marching north from Cruen, so she had nothing to worry about, but this did not help at the moment.


The vision faded and out of the fog stepped Ishtar. "My child," she said. She wore the Amazon clothing she had been dressed in for her pyre. A smooth leather long-sleeve tunic, long and loose matching pants, mask of the falcon-wolf over her head, and tan moccasins. Her hair was long and flowing as Samsara remembered it.


"Mama?" the younger Amazon responded. "Mama, what are you doing here?"


"The Lady of the Dead has allowed me to speak to you from beyond from time to time. She understands my attachment to you," Ishtar clasped her hands before her. "I came to warn you about the Gods."


"I know they'll come for me and Karma. Mama, what about this path Mariko wants me to go on? I'm raising your child, I can't become a warrior..."


The Shamaness Priestess walked closer to her ward. "Samsara, when I was accepted into the Teloan village, I was given a name. Terreis gave it to me, knowing my background and having once been to Babylon. I am named for the Sumerian goddess of war and destruction, Ishtar, who can both be unforgiving as well as kind. She named me this because when I escaped the slave traders, I lost my memories. I have bits and pieces. I know I am a Babylonian. I know I was a woman of high caste. I remember the atrocities committed against us when we were taken prisoner. And I fought. I remember fighting. Lots and lots of fighting. It was as if I never slept and when I did, I kept a firm grip on my sword. This was when I learned the use of a staff. Long before I was a Teloan, I used a staff to defend myself, but defense was not the point of survival for us. We had to kill to escape, so I picked up a sword.


"Samsara, your path is clear. You must learn how to be a mother. Your interaction with Medea when she challenged you - that is what you must strive to always do. You, my child, you are a capable warrior. You must learn how to handle that."


"I'm afraid that Mariko may lead me back to what I was..." Her voice cracked. She hated the fact that Ishtar may have known of Uzbek the Khan.


"The Great Destroyer of Greece?" the Sumerian Teloan interjected. "I knew of that before you became it. Be who you are, Samsara. You are the Great Destroyer of Greece. You mete out justice as you see fit. You are Master of War, Goddess Kakistos of Destruction, vengeful, powerful, and mighty. You can be forgiving and creative as well. Let Mariko guide you on your way. The Gods are planning retaliation for you having saved Prometheus from half his punishment. Rhea's Ruby is important to them. Be sure to stay alive, Samsara Achala Athanase Kakistos. I know you will because that is what you are: the indefinitely repeated cycle of birth, misery, and death fueled by karma in which deeds of past lives are dealt with; indefinite; immortal; worst of the worst." She started to fade. "Defend your sisters and rise as Queen Empress of Teloq, my child. I demand it."





The Amazons were comforting Zia after the bloody, but short war. Zia could not stop crying after she had killed Caesar.


"Zia, you are an Amazon. You are not a killer. Remember, he killed your family. You are your mother's successor and successor to every other Amazon that was killed by that bastard," Jadea said


"But now, friends of Caesar will be angry about what I did. All of Rome will stop at nothing to wipe out the Amazons because of me. I am to blame," Zia whispered as tears fell on her cheeks.


"No matter what happens, the Amazons will be here for you and we will destroy those who defy us. We are Amazon!" Thalia shouted.


All the Amazons started shouting with praise and happiness. This made Zia smile. She whispered something to Thalia's ear and soon she shouted out.


"Our young sister has a request. Zia wishes to communicate with her Amazon mother. May our Amazon Sorceress step in front!"





Heads looked around expectantly for Jadea to step up, but she could not be found. Jadea was not the only sorceress in Themiscyra. A few of her Sisters also possessed a great deal of magic and not by the Olympian gods' association. However, Jadea was the most sought after sorceress when magic was called for or being dealt with. Hence, her sudden disappearance was not altogether a surprise to the Amazons...but at the same time, it was.


Zia exchanged worried looks with Thalia who stood a few steps away. Queen Medea was not among those gathered, either. Most of the Amazons knew about Samsara. Several commented that the Sorceress Empress had likely gone to see about her.


"I'll be right back," Thalia told the young Amazon looking at her for guidance. She quickly took off to find a Queen.


In her hut, Jadea gazed at Samsara as she turned on her side. The poison had been meant for Karma, the Sorceress knew. It was obvious since her niece was having difficulty fighting it. What concerned her most about the poison was a dark thought she'd been refusing to linger on until now.


Someone in Teloq tried to poison Karma. And since the gods can't get to her because of the protection spell, that means that a Teloan had to have... Even now with her niece weakened as proof, Jadea couldn't bring herself to believe that any Amazon would poison an infant.


While she gazed down at Samsara thoughtfully, the Queen Regent stepped in behind her. Jadea recognized Medea's footsteps but did not turn around. Every hour that passed, she became more enraged and her powers waged a war against her. The angrier she got, the less Jadea wanted to remain in control. The powers she possessed knew this well, as they fought the remaining self-discipline she had left. So great was the inner turmoil she masked from her Sisters, that Jadea even thought once to wage war against the entire Roman Empire, and every warlord between Themiscyra and the Far East.


The sound of a throat clearing came from behind the Cirran. She let her eyes move up from Samsara. "What now?" Jadea asked in what sounded like a sigh. Ordinarily, such a tone would prompt Medea to snap something back at her. But things had not been ordinary for quite some time.


"I got a report that those Majie medallions we've been keeping in the trees have suddenly started to glow. Border watchers say they are sending out beams of light. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you Jadea?" Medea questioned her Sister with a mild tone of suspicion. Mostly, though, she sounded a bit miffed that she was being kept in the dark about affairs in her own camp.


"Insurance to keep the Romans away," Jadea said simply and raised her arm. Callisto's sword flew across the room into her hand. She quickly sheathed it in place.




Silver Hawk quickly stepped in and looked timidly from Medea to her aunt. "Yes?" She had Karma in her arms again. The babe never left her sight.


"Stay inside with Karma. I'll bring you some food shortly," she stated and moved for the door. Medea watched with a distorted look.


Seriana nodded and placed Karma in her cradle. The Amazon looked up quickly to ask, "What about Sami?"


You could tell by looking that Silver Hawk was an Amazon through and through. The tears were in her eyes but there they remained for now. Jadea looked to Samsara and faintly smiled.


"She'll be right as rain come morn. Medea," she said as the two women turned in unison to leave. The Queen Regent grabbed her arm once outside.


"What has gotten into you lately?"


"Medea, no thing and no man has gotten into me lately. I assure you. Now, if you're done with the third degree..." She hinted and gestured with her hands for them to leave.


Secretly, the Sorceress was thankful that her Co-Queen didn't ask why she'd kept the two Amazon guards outside her hut. Initially, the guards had been Medea's order, but neither Medea nor Jadea had ever dismissed them.


Just as the two Queens passed the mess hut, Thalia ran up to them both. Celosia's sister was less than thrilled at the spectacle of her Head Scout charging toward them only to say, "Jadea, I think Zia wants to talk to you in the square." She was breathing hard from the run.


"Thalia, you tell that girl that Jadea had more-"


The Sorceress Empress held up her hand before cutting in. "Thalia, disarm and then place Zia under guard until further notice."


"But Ja-"


"That's an order! She left Themiscyra. And furthermore, she left camp without permission. Now place her under guard or I will have you both arrested for disobedience!" Jadea commanded in anger so sudden that Thalia backed a step with fear. She nodded hesitantly and scurried off nearly in tears.




"Medea, don't start with me. Your sister left us with one bloody order...and we can't even follow that."


The tall spiked-hair woman looked solemnly at her Sister. She'd just been given astounding insight. Her voice was gentle, but clear, when she inquisitively asked, "This is about you leaving for Celtia, isn't it?" She didn't get an immediate answer, but she knew by the ashamed look in Jadea's eyes.


For one brief second, Queen Medea came dangerously close to discovering her Sister's lie. But the secret evaded her when the Sorceress remarked, "Medea, it was one order. She gave one order, and I couldn't follow it. I've broken it twice. And then Zia breaks it and nearly gets herself killed," Jadea had never sounded so angry at herself.


"Yeah, but she didn't get killed, did she?" Medea asked, surprising herself that she was defending an Amazon for disobeying the chain of command.


"She killed Caesar and led the Romans to us!" The Sorceress exclaimed in an unprecedented flare. At last, though, she came down to quietly add, "No one leaves Themiscyra, Medea. No one leaves and no one enters. We'll have to postpone uniting the Amazons. Teloq will be upset, I'm sure."


And before the Queen Regent could stop her, Jadea left her standing there. She didn't do it out of disrespect, however. The Amazon Sorceress knew Medea well enough to know that the Queen would soon find her again. Celosia's sister had a knack for finding you when you least expected - and least desired - her to.


Antigone and Valkyra brought in a boar just as the sun began to descend. By the time a bonfire had been built and lit, Samsara was awake and playing with Karma. Seriana slept now on the pallet, protected by a constellation of charms placed upon her. Mariko entered Jadea's hut and smiled to see Athanase sitting up and looking well.


"Mariko," the Teloan nodded.


"Athanase," Mariko returned and stepped further inside. "I spoke with your Sorceress," she said plainly, but her voice held a great sense of warmth.


Samsara arched her brow. "Jadea?" She asked having never before heard Jadea addressed to her as "your Sorceress." Mariko nodded, and she inquired cautiously, "What did you two talk about?"


"You," Mariko answered shortly. She beamed proudly when Karma looked at her and smiled.




Jadea visited Zia as the Amazons feasted outside. The young Amazon was not bound but kept under guard nonetheless. She was confused and upset, not to mention still in terrible shock from what she'd done. Seeing the woman who'd ordered her imprisonment did little to raise her spirits.


"Please stand, Zia," Jadea ordered in a quiet voice. The Amazon complied, though she held a degree of defiance on her face. "I apologize for disappearing earlier. Samsara has been deathly ill and needed my attention. You've been placed under guard because you left camp without permission." She paused to study Zia's eyes. "I understand that while you were gone, you infiltrated a Roman encampment and killed Caesar, himself?"


Zia nodded silently. She held some resentment for being in custody.


"You've placed me in a difficult position, Zia. I no more wish you punished than I wish Rome to enslave the Nation. But as of this moment, you are to remain in camp at all times. Celosia gave the order that no Amazon leave Themiscyra. I fear I've failed her and our tribe when I broke that order. But that burden is mine to bear and mine, alone."


She gazed at Zia who still would not speak. She barely seemed willing to keep eye-contact. With a small movement, so minute that it unnoticed by the young Amazon, Jadea dismissed the guards. When she saw that Zia would say nothing to her, she said, "There's a spring feast under way, Zia. I see no reason you shouldn't join it."


Again, no immediate reaction came from Zia. Jadea sighed in her mind, turned, and stepped to leave. A shocked Zia watched as she realized the Co-Queen meant to release her. A few seconds later, Zia followed. Once outside, she found Jadea had already gone to a far corner and now spoke with two other Amazons.


Before Zia could formulate a clear thought or intention, Thalia approached with a wide, relieved grin. "Zia I am so sorry. When I told Jadea you wanted to-"


Zia shook her head and interrupted. "It's okay, my Sister. It can wait." A while, she thought.


Thalia looked at her intently, as if to determine whether Zia put on airs. The Scout could sense the young Amazon was hiding something, but she let it be in light of the occasion.


Early the next morning, Zia, Queen Medea, Co-Queen Jadea, and the border watch were the first awake.





Zia had never been so in shocked in her life. All she ever wanted was revenge for what Caesar has done to her, and now he was dead, by her hands. Not only that, but half of the tribe was angry at her for nearly getting herself killed. The Queen had demanded that Zia be locked up for now, but Thalia secretly let her out.


"I will promise to return the favor Thalia."


Zia was thinking about what the Queen had said and this made her angry. She refused to be treated like some child. She would prove herself to them all, somehow. "Out of all the Amazons, I am the one they need now. I know Rome; I once was Rome.”


Zia decided to walk in the woods. She walked as quietly as possible. Roman and Amazon guards were all over the place. All of a sudden, a hand grabbed her arm. Zia did a flip and jumped on top of the attacker. Once she saw his face, she realized it was Octavius.


"Get out! I am already in enough trouble as it is!" Zia whispered loudly.


"Zia, now that Caesar is dead, it is time for me to take control and take my place as Emperor. The only problem is that Caesar’s men are still here."


"Octavius, I already killed Caesar and more than half of the Roman army. I refuse to shed more blood!"


"This is not the only reason I came Zia. I came here to tell you....I love you."


Zia looked back in surprise. Then Octavius grabbed Zia and their lips met in passion. What they did not know was that there were two Amazon hiding behind two bushes watching them.


Shaba, Celtic Goddess of Sex was hiding as well and a mischievous smile appeared on her face. "We need some chaos around here," she said.





The premonitions still haunted the Goddess as Apollo continued his movement across the sky. She was confused. Only half the fortune had came true - or so everyone else thought.


She knew Caesar wasn't dead. In her heart of hearts she knew his still beat. Although that idea upset her, she knew that things would be better this way. Yes, this meant that he would strike soon, but for the moment, his numbers dwindled with Dachus and Mariko having diminished a good legion.


She stared out her window as the sky brightened, her daughter sleeping lazily in her crib.




Athena slammed her fist down onto the armrest of her throne. "Damn that Samsara. Damn her meddling Sorceress aunt." An incessant crying perforated the remaining silence. "SHUT THAT MEWLING INFANT UP!"


"She isn't an infant, Athena," hissed Discord. "She's my daughter. Samsara and that stupid witch Jadea have reduced Kaia to a sniveling toddler!"


"MOMMYYYYYYYY!" came Kaia's childlike voice.


Kaia looked young and acted young, but her mind was a bit more advanced for her age. Inwardly she screamed louder than her voice could. She was angry at Samsara for taking away her powers and for taking her out of commission for a while. She hated this other plane she had been sent to and in her mind, she created a devious plan to get back at her sister.


"MOOOOMYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!" She came waddling in, her long hair dragging on the floor. It was indeed a comical thing to see. She had no reason to call Discord, she was just doing it to be obnoxious.


Athena looked at her niece with disgust. "Will you EVER learn to be QUIET?" she demanded. She shook her head. "The whole purpose, Discord, was to make Samsara sick. Yes, it worked, until Mariko and Jadea came into the picture again." She looked at the Goddess of Mayhem and smiled. "At least this means that we may cause some internal tensions in Teloq. Samsara knows who gave her the milk and it will be interesting to see how she deals with this. Imagine her having to kill an Imperial Guard SHE trained," she smiled. “Delicious, isn’t it. And she has no idea Hippoppih not only didn’t poison the milk, but had no idea it was even bad!”


Her laughter bounced off the walls of Olympus.




Caesar was still alive, as Samsara suspected. He got word that his decoy had been killed. He  was plotting now to kill Zia and Octavius both. Zia betrayed him by going to her Amazon roots. Octavius was treasonous for loving her. His nephew had little clue how to treat women. He could never have taken on a ruthless Xena as he had done so many years before.


He smiled as he dragged his fingers along the edge of a marble table. On it was a rolled out parchment: the map of Greece and Macedonia. He positioned statuettes of soldiers at various points, all leading to the center of Amazon territory. With one fell swoop he would crush three Tribes: Teloan, Thermodonians, and Themiscyra.


"Kaiser!" cried someone from outside.


A man wearing messenger robes burst into the command room with two guards chasing him. He dropped to the floor in front of Caesar and offered up a papyrus. "A note, Emperor! This is urgent and you must see it immediate--" One of the guards speared the man through.


Behind the guards came Pompey and Crassus.


A stunned Caesar looked at his guards and snarled. "Rodion! HOW did this man get in here? GIVE ME THAT PARCHMENT!" He snatched the note from the deathly grip of the fallen man and read it.


He turned red immediately, and with one violent swipe of the hand he cleared the map of it's stone statuettes. "CLEAN THOSE UP, MARCELIN!" he demanded of the other stunned guard. "Rodion, clear my central room of this mess."


He looked to Crassus and Pompey, seething. "Who ... failed ... to inform ... me that Teloq's Queen Gabrielle has returned? If Gabrielle has returned, then the Warrior Princess is in Amazon territory as well."


"That would imply, sire," Rodin said as he pulled the messenger’s body away by the arms, "that you are afraid you may lose against the Warrior Princess."


Caesar snarled again. Rodin smiled inwardly at his barb. The Emperor looked at the other two-thirds of the Triumvirate. "The whole entire purpose of the Libyan campaign is to draw Xena and Gabrielle away from Greece. The fact that she has returned only proves to me that you two are incompetent at your job."


"Um, Julius," Pompey remarked. "Gabrielle has not returned. Teloq's new Queen is Samsara--"


Caesar reared his head. "THE GREAT DESTROYER OF GREECE?" he said incredulously. The name struck him. He immediately waved the three out of his room and called on Mars. "Your daughter..."


Ares merely picked up one of the red soldiers that were in a heap on the table and placed him on a particular point on the map, then smiled. Caesar smiled. Now, how to sell the plan to the Senate…




Gathering Forces


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