Plans Unfold




Medea looked at the tall Amazon with a strange visage.


"I would like to see her," Xena continued. "I have a feeling she may be of help to Rome."


Medea almost choked on her meat. Her eyes were wide. Help Rome? Was the woman out of her mind? "Uh... I guess, uh.... If you really want to see her..."


"That I will," the older woman responded, getting up. She observed the Themiscyrans as she walked by. They were a young tribe all right. A young tribe led by a young Queen. Amazing how they survived and prospered.


Meanwhile, Seriana and Mariko watched as Karma played with the hound. They were afraid that the wolf would do something to the child, but were amazed at how gentle he was with her. The child sat on the ground and leaned to the hunched animal and put her blanket in his mouth. He instinctively clamped down on a corner and pulled gently as she pulled back. The baby giggled as the wolf mocked wresting the fabric away until Samsara arrived.


"What in the Hades is going on?" she demanded, pulling the cloth from the wolf and scooping her child into her arms. "She can't do that!"


Karma began to cry and the wolf whimpered. He pulled up a paw and covered his face, laying on his stomach obviously upset. Samsara looked from animal to child, to her sister and then to her mentor, then hunched down to the animal, looking into his eyes. She blinked three times, then set her child down.


"Things get weirder here by the moment," she said. "Weirder and weirder, I swear by me..." She shook her head.


The wolf pushed his head against the girl. Instinctively, she stood again, smiling. Then, slowly, she grabbed onto the wolf's grey fur and took a step. The Amazons around stopped and looked at the marvel going on.


A great smile from Samsara and Seriana, then more celebration. Karma could walk.





Jadea vanished after speaking to her niece about the premonitions. The Sorceress Empress had purposefully neglected to tell Samsara that she, too, had had premonitions before. They'd started when Rumyna found her in Cirra and stopped with her inheritance.


She ventured deeper into Themiscyra, delving into deep consideration of what her niece had told her. Samsara Athanase had told her Aunt about seeing her with another woman. Someone, she informed, Jadea had obviously thought she'd killed. The Sorceress had frozen to hear Samsara repeat the words spoken in the premonition.


Ardra came back from a long flight and landed neatly on Jadea's outstretched arm. The hawk said nothing for minutes as her Mistress walked onward, nearing one of the five medallion trees. She stopped and her eyes rested on the horizon.


Red Claw is alive, Jadea, the hawk sent to her Mistress in a rather somber tone.


Aye, and she's been poisoned against us, the Sorceress answered back.


She will kill you if she can, Jade, Ardra warned ominously.


I know, the Amazon replied.


Jadea returned in camp in time to see a dance begin. To her surprise, Gabrielle joined in and laughed as though she were having the time of her life. The music filtered throughout the camp, and the light-hearted atmosphere veiled the darker plans and events in the making.


"Jade, a word with you please?" Medea hinted first chance she got.


"Everything all right?" Jadea asked, knowing it apparently was not.


"While you were gone doing Artemis knows what, Xena made a visit to the jailhouse," she stated, hoping the news would incur the same response in her as it had in her.


"She must know something about Rome we don't. I'll talk to her," Jadea told her and made her way to find the Warrior Princess.





Karma quickly tired of the new entertainment of walking and sat down. Seriana scooped the little girl onto her hip and shook her very gently.


"What do you think you're doing, little one? How can we say we taught you to fight before you could walk if you've already started walking?"


Karma squealed with amusement and pulled violently on a wisp of her aunt's hair that had come loose from her braid. Seriana carefully retrieved it and tucked it behind her ear. "That's no way for an Amazon to fight, but I guess it's fighting. All right, then. You did learn to fight before you could walk. Good girl."


Still carrying the baby, she made her way to the jail where Zia still languished. The two guards crossed their staffs in front of the doorway. "No one goes in without the Queens' permission," said one.


"I am niece to Jadea, heir of Samsara, and protectorate of Xena. Let me through." As a token of goodwill, Seri drew her dagger and tossed it absently to the ground. "I go in unarmed. You can listen to every word. I only wish to speak to her."


The two looked at one another, then shrugged. "You may have five minutes. No more."


She nodded, then slipped through the doorway to kneel next to the bound Zia. "You are the Roman?"


"I am Zia," said Zia, defensively.


"Yes. I am Seriana. You mind if I talked to you for a moment?"


"I don't seem to have much choice."


"Very true. Well then. You are a Roman Amazon. Do you follow Artemis or Jupiter?"




"You believe in Pax Romana?"


"I do."


"But you give no loyalty to your Emperor?"


"Caesar should not be Emperor."


Seriana nodded. "Good answers, Zia of Rome. I must apologize for Medea; she is territorial and high-strung. I will see what I can do to get you your freedom, but I cannot defy my Queens."


Zia looked at her sideways. "Why would you help me?"


Seriana stood up, still balancing Karma carefully on her hip. "Because when I first came here, they locked me up too. I am the daughter of their great enemy; they had every right to be mistrustful. It took a long time for them to learn to trust me. Now I am not only a warrior of Themiscyra, but I am ambassador and representative of the Queen to all foreign peoples, since languages are a skill of mine." She smiled a little, then slipped into Latin. "You have a friend and sympathizer in me, Zia. I will do everything I can."


She left the jail, pausing to pick her dagger up from the dust and put it back into its sheath.





Xena and Gabrielle went inside the jailhouse. They were very interested in meeting this young and new Amazon. Xena knew it was rare to find a Roman Amazon and she wanted to know more about her.


Inside the jailhouse lay the young bronze teenager and her aqua eyes glimmering.


"You must be Zia, the Roman Amazon," Xena said.


Zia stood up and look at both of the women. "Who are you and what do you both want from me?"


"My name is Xena."


"Warrior Princess!" Zia said with excitement. "Oh I never knew that this day would come! I know all of your legends. And you must be Gabrielle, the battling bard!" Zia looked at Gabrielle.


"You can call me that if you like," Gabrielle said with a shy smile and a blush against her cheeks.


"I am aware of what is going on with Caesar. I am sure you know what that bastard did to me," Xena said.


"Yes, I know of it, Xena," Zia said.


"Can you please tell us what you know about Caesar. Maybe it can help us with what we have to do. We want to help you Zia," Gabrielle said.


"Well, my father was in love with my Amazon mother Shaba. Caesar hates Amazons. When he found out about their love affair and about me, he was furious. He put my mother and father in the arena to be killed. He was afraid of what I might do to him so he treated me with fake kindness and I spent my life in the Empire. Only his nephew, Octavius treated me with true kindness. Our friendship has now turned into love," Zia blushed a little. "But I am sure the other Amazons told you the rest of my story.”


"Yes, they did and it was very interesting," Xena said.

"Zia, we are going to help you. We want to give Rome a new Emperor and we want to give you a better status among these Amazons. Just bear with us and don't let your headstrong ways take you somewhere else. Are you ready?" Xena said with a smile.





The moment Xena walked out of the jailhouse, she found the Sorceress Empress gazing at her with suspicious eyes. Jadea knew the reputation of the Warrior Princess, and she knew the woman behind the reputation. In her younger days when she was still a novice under Rumyna's direction, Jadea had often watched Xena closely. It had been a custom she developed and kept well hidden until she no longer needed to use her powers to observe the woman.


"Hello, Xena. I trust that you were granted Queen Medea's permission to see Zia, as I know you did not receive mine," she noted in a not-so-round-about way.


Gabrielle gave her friend a look that asked if she should intervene. Xena discreetly gestured in the negative. The blonde bard gave a short nod and walked on. The two guards outside the jailhouse overheard the exchange.


"Do you have a bone to pick with me, Sorceress Empress?" Xena inquired, veering an answer to the question asked of her.


"Not at all. But we have laws here, Xena," Jadea retorted with a tone remarkably similar to Athena's.


"I am aware of that, Queen Jadea. The woman in your custody is an Amazon and Roman. Caesar would pay a lofty ransom for such a commodity," the raven haired beauty observed pointedly. Her hint did not go unnoticed.


"True, but we're not going to use Zia as bait for the Romans," Jadea's sternness sprang out of her eyes. The two women met each other's gaze for a couple of moments, during which the sorceress heard Xena's thoughts.


Not when we have Samsara to bait the gods with, hmm?


Jadea snarled, her eyes flashing in sudden anger. Before her act could follow through, though, she heard her Sister behind her several feet.




It was Medea...of course. The woman was notorious for inopportune timing. Jadea didn't turn around immediately. She looked at Xena with newfound composure.


"Let us not forget that we're on the same side, Xena." She remarked and left after a short glance. As Jadea passed Celosia's sister, she heard the Queen inform her that Samsara wanted to talk to her down by the river.





The Great Destroyer stood by the river, waiting for Jadea to come and see her. Marcella was the one to appear instead.


Samsara heard the Thermodon’s steps. They fell harder than her aunt's. She turned around slowly and lowered her head in a respectful gesture.


"You realize that I've followed your escapades, Goddess Kakistos," Marcella began.


"I'm not that woman anymore," Samsara responded.


"But your armies march in your name."


"That they do. But only for the right reasons. You may know that I intend to pass along my charge to my general."


"I realize that," Marcella continued. She had the regal demeanor of Velasca but was not nearly as mentally unstable. Something about Marcella worried Samsara, but what it was and what she was worried about, she couldn’t say. She just decided to be on her guard around the woman.


Before the conversation could take any recognizable avenue, Jadea stepped out of the trees. "Queen Marcella, may I have a word with my niece?"


"But of course," the Thermodon Queen responded. "We will continue our conversation at another time, Samsara Athanase." She walked away.


Once Marcella was out of earshot, Jadea turned to her sister's daughter. Samsara looked toward the river again, arms crossed, head high. She looked at the Apollo's smile playing on the river's surface. It was indeed a beautiful day, extremely warm, with a light breeze to compliment it. "I'm not sure what to do," she said.


The Co-Queen cocked her head. "What are you talking about?"


"What happens when all the area Tribes come together? We are asking for the Gods to strike then. One fell swoop and all of us as a collective could be destroyed. Maybe Artemis was right in keeping us separate. Maybe there is rhyme and reason to it all."


Jadea furrowed her brows. "What? You of all wanted the unity of the Nation! It's what you demanded when you first landed on Olympus!"


Samsara turned to Jadea. "All I see is having to choose. I can't choose, do you understand?"


The Goddess' convoluted talk confused the Sorceress.


"All I see are choices. I have to choose where to live. Do I remain with you or do I oversee affairs as Teloan Queen? Do I raise my child, a Princess, in Themiscyra or in Teloq? Do I assume my position as Master of War or do I let Ares reassume power? And Kaia... do we return her powers to her or let her grow as any normal Goddess and see her eventually becoming evil anyway?" She furrowed her brows and turned to the river again.


"Your premonitions," the older Amazon sighed.


"They're plaguing me," she whispered. "Why do I have them? I feel like I'm going crazy. I see so many things... so many horrible things..."





The acting queen nodded and looked away from her niece briefly. "It comes with the territory, Sami," she replied and Samsara turned her head from the river to look at Jadea.


She had a raised brow at the Sorceress. "You've had premonitions before I take it?" Her expression relaxed when her aunt nodded silently.


The latter gazed at the water below with distant thoughts swirling in her eyes. She moved her eyes back to Samsara when she spoke. "The woman," she began with a casual sigh, "you saw with me in your premonition..."


"Do you know her?" The Amazon Goddess questioned curiously. She hadn't focused on one specific premonition for many hours now. The Teloan found it strange that her aunt had not only remembered, but she managed to resurface that particular one.


"I should. I trained her . . . taught her everything she knows," Jadea stated, her voice as cryptic as ever though her meaning was clear.


"You...trained her?" Her niece asked in horrific disbelief. A few moments later, she'd follow up with, "Who is she?"


The Sorceress Empress couldn't look into Samsara's eyes. She laid her gaze upon the rushing water below. Her ears became aware of Ardra's flapping wings that soon settled when the bird landed nearby. Respectfully, the hawk remained silent so as not to interrupt.


"She's called Red Claw," Jadea fell silent while her niece tried to collect her thoughts.


It seemed as though the Amazons were choosing the worst time to attempt a tribal-wide union. All appearances conveyed that the warrior women would soon be facing obstacles and opponents from every possible angle. Even so...the Sorceress Empress and the Queen Regent had formulated a plan which, if properly executed, would cover all bases. Timing would be everything, however, and Amazon loyalty exceptionally crucial.


Finally, the Queen broke the tense silence. "I have no doubt that Rome has enlisted her as an ally against the Amazon Nation," she stated observantly, her heart pounding at the thought of a showdown with this mysterious Red Claw.


As she followed Jadea's train of thought, Samsara added, "That's probably why I had the premonition, then." She looked up at Callisto's sister and saw that the woman nodded in accord. Samsara sighed and looked off again. Her eyes swept across, narrowed briefly while she scanned the opposite bank, and returned to rest on the sorceress. "So, what should I do?"


Jadea walked up to her niece and smiled reassuringly. "Listen to your heart, then go from there. But first things first..."


The Goddess nodded in comprehension. "The Olympian gods."


It was Jadea's turn to nod. "The gods...and Rome. Ares will try to help Caesar, if he hasn't already."


The Teloan didn't feel as confident as her aunt looked. She gave the woman a troubled look while asking, "How are we going to pull this off?"


With all the mischief air of her kind, Jadea beamed a smirk that would've made the strongest warrior suspicious if not fearful. "With a little help from our friends, Sami. With a little help from our friends. Come now. I suspect your tribe has arrived."


The Goddess took the lead after snapping her fingers twice. Her grey wolf bolted out before slowing to a trot as he matched his pace with Samsara's. Jadea chuckled softly and shook her head.


"That reminds me..." Samsara made a sidelong glance before continuing, "Medea's threatened-"


Jadea cleared her throat, but her smile never faded. Her niece corrected herself, although she disliked it. "Sorry. Queen Medea has threatened to let the hunting parties use him as prey for instruction. You think if I named him, she would back off?" She asked, her voice rising innocently despite the genuine nature of her question.


Jadea laughed and smiled wide. She slightly shook her head. "I suppose...if you gave him a name. Queen Medea won't object to him if she's convinced that he won't turn on an Amazon," the Sorceress concluded, hoping that she was right.


"He's as safe as any guardian wolf would be," her niece answered. "Oh, you should've seen Karma with him earlier! It was so peculiar the gentle way he played with her...almost as though he'd taken it upon himself to be her charge."


Charge? Jadea repeated in her mind. Now, why did that word trigger her so?


"Jade?" Athanase poked her Aunt when the woman suddenly fell silent.


"Hmm?" The Queen looked at her and answered. "Oh, sorry."


Before either could speak another word, loud cheers exulted from the center of camp. Some kind of welcome celebration was underway. When the two joined up with the throng of women, they saw two Amazon queens in a mock joust.


Samsara found Seriana with Karma, and Jadea made her way to find Medea. As spirited as the tribes presently were, neither Themiscyran Queen wished to be the bringer of bad news - specifically that things were about to heat up.




On Olympus...


Kaia, on a strange whim, had quieted herself by becoming preoccupied with miniature statues of various temples. She moved them around, knocked some over, and created as much havoc with their placement as she could. The small temples represented the temples to the gods. Their locations marked the places each god had a temple.


Discord was the first to discover Kaia's childish game, but she did nothing because it kept Kaia quiet and out of her way.


Athena was currently in her main temple in Athens, watching intensely as Artemis' "shrieking women" converged.


Ares, oddly enough, was engrossed with a battle between two of his favorite warlords. Although he'd meddled in Amazon affairs by advising and aiding Caesar, Ares himself was smart enough not to be in the war to retrieve Rhea's Ruby and crush the Amazons. 


Zeus sat in his throne, waiting for word from Athena. Because Samsara still possessed the hind's blood, Zeus would not risk himself by appearing on earth while the sparks were flying. He had agreed to back Athena, however, when the necessity came.


Hera arrived back on Olympus after yet another unsuccessful tangle with her mongrel stepson, Hercules. She fumed angrily around the halls for an hour before checking in on her husband. Somehow, his anxiety about the upcoming battle gave her great pleasure. She intended to stick around, if only to observe.


As for the Goddess of the Hunt...Artemis was nowhere to be found. The last any one - god or mortal alike - had account of the goddess...came when she met with Valkyra.





As Valkyra walked the familiar trail through the forest, she listened to the songbirds up in the tree tops. She came here to the wood often when time allowed. It was the tranquility of the deep forest that she sought.


Valkyra thought to herself, “The birds have all gone quiet; they were singing their little hearts out a moment ago. Something or some one has disturbed them….” She quietly and quickly pulled her sword from its sheath on her back. Before she had another thought, a bright flash of light appeared in her path. Valkyra blinked to be sure of who she saw. It was the Goddess of the Hunt, Artemis.




Jadea and Medea, as they spoke to one another, walked past the jousting Amazon Queens. As events were becoming more serious, they both had little interest in the contest. As they walked a little further, they came across Valkyra playing a lyre and singing an old song about some of the first women to become Amazons, women who had lost their fathers, husbands and sons to an invading enemy. She sang of the women’s courage to battle the killers of their men all by themselves. She was sitting on a tree stump surrounded by several younger women on the ground. They were listening intently and some even had tears in their eyes.


Medea and Jadea stopped for a moment to listen. When Valkyra noticed the two Queens, she trained her eyes toward them. When the song ended, Valkyra stood and bowed to the Queens. She then indicated for the younger women to stand and do the same. After bowing, the younger Amazons left to go watch the remainder of the mock fight.


The Sorceress Empress said, “You have a lovely voice, Valkyra. How is it that you know that song?”


“Some of the elders taught it to me. I believe that the Tribe’s history can sometimes be remembered better if it is learned in a song.” Valkyra glanced around and then said, “I was planning to seek the two of you out, but now that you are here and alone...”


The Queen Regent asked, “What is it?”


“Recently while I was taking a walk, the Goddess Artemis appeared to me.”


The co-Queens looked at each other as if exchanging thoughts. They then stared at the Weapons Master.


Valkyra continued, “She told me some things that may be helpful in our oncoming war. She said that if all our warriors go into battle with as pure of heart as possible, the gods would have a much more difficult time hurting them. Queen Medea, perhaps before the fighting begins, you can speak to the warriors and give them encouragement. They and I respect your leadership and will listen to your words.”


Valkyra went on, “Artemis also told me that we should try to obtain the help of the god that Xena’s daughter believes in. Although Xena has quite a distaste for the archangel, Michael, Artemis thinks that if he believes that he can have the Greek gods overthrown, he will bring in his band of angels to fight next to the Amazons.


“And lastly, the Goddess of the Hunt said that if we could somehow contact some of the Roman gods, they too may be willing to become our allies, seeing as how the Roman gods hate all other gods and vice is the versa with the Greek gods.” Valkyra then editorializes, “Now we may be trading one evil for others, but it may just work out. The gods still alive after the war may very well stay busy fighting each other and could possibly leave us alone for a while.”


Jadea commented, “All of this sounds very interesting. Some of these things may go hand in hand with the plans that we have made earlier.”


Medea added, “Yes, we will discuss what Artemis said with the other leaders. Thank you, Valkyra.” She then grasped Valkyra’s hand and arm.





The morning sun had just risen over the Amazon valley. The warm rays caressed Zia’s pale skin from the high window of the jail. It had been many days since Zia was put in the jailhouse.


I sometimes wish that I can go back to Rome, but this is worth it all, Zia thought.


Gabrielle had decided to take a walk and enjoy the sunrise. Xena was still asleep and she was sure that sunrise were not things Xena like to see in the morning. Gabrielle decided to pay a visit to the young teenage Amazon, who could be useful in defeating Caesar.


"Zia, it’s me, Gabrielle."


"Hello," Zia said.


"Don't you just love the warm sun against your face? I sometimes wish Xena could wake up and see," Gabrielle said.


"Yes, I used to sit in front of the Roman palace and watch it rise above all Rome," Zia said sadly.


"Zia, things are going to be fine. The Amazons may not all be kindly now, but after they see you in action when you help us get Caesar, you will be more appreciated. I know how it feels. It was like the same thing when I first met Xena, but now we are more than best friends....we are soul mates," Gabrielle said with a kind smile.


Zia smiled back "Yes, you are right. I hope the Amazons realize this in time. Caesar’s army is at the other valley and is coming this way. With him, you are either taken prisoner or you are put to death."





Samsara: the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, misery, and death caused by karma




Dachus was at the gates, asking to see Samsara urgently. His brown, white-speckled horse was panting, having been ridden hard to arrive at the village in good time. "Great Destroyer! I bring news," he called, dismounting.


"Come inside," she said, nodding to the Gate Guard who took the reins of the horse. Dachus strode across the square to where the Goddess stood holding her door open. As they walked in to her hut, the hound lifted his head. "What's wrong?" She sensed the urgency in his demeanor.


"Under your direction, I have sent scouts daily to secure the area outside of Themiscyra, especially the valleys."


"You found impending danger," Samsara finished. She sensed it. She had it in her premonitions and she was going to do everything possible to prevent Zia from having to kill Caesar, Athena from taking Seriana, and Jadea from meeting this woman she trained then killed. "I hope you've recruited more soldiers...?"


Dachus nodded. "The spoken word of your name is enough. We've nearly tripled in numbers."


She sighed. "I think I may have to lead them into battle." She looked to her sleeping daughter. "I promised myself not to fight so long as I have her. Queen Celosia has also decreed that no Themiscyran leave and I've already broken that rule once." She crossed her arms and looked about, eyes resting on the attractive Dachus. She smiled.


"If Roma wants a blood bath, they will get one," Samsara smiled. Her plan was devious. The deception would please even Ares. She told Dachus her plan and he smiled.


"Always the great tactician, my Goddess,” he responded.


She looked down and color rushed to her cheeks. What was going on? She could never... Ever... She cleared her throat and looked up immediately. "Don't move out until I send the signal to do so. The worst that we can do is to move too quickly. If we do so, Caesar will not only crush us, he will crush the Nations."


"I agree. Our numbers are large, but his dwarf us." The Goddess nodded. Dachus left.


Moments later, Ares appeared.


Samsara drew her sword. "When I promised I wouldn't fight," she began, "that excluded you. Don't put killing you past me, Father Or should I call you Ares instead?"


He looked at her with a bewildered expression. "I came to tell you to stop what you're doing. Why do you owe allegiance to this band of shrieking women?"


She gritted her teeth as she trained her weapon on him. "Because all my life, I've tried to avoid being like you, like my father, by not submitting to your whims, when in fact, the Great Destroyer was precisely what you wanted. Every waking moment of my life after Mama's death had been coordinated by you until I returned to Teloq then came here. Now, I know the truth: that the rape of my mother never in fact produced me. You are not my father, Ares. You are merely God of War, and as once Daughter of War, I am now its Master, meaning I will crush your armies underfoot! Tell your family to back off, or I will be sure that the Pantheon falls by the stroke of my sword."


"I have nothing to do with my family striking," Ares mentioned. He paused. "No matter what you do, your daughter will suffer dearly. Return the Rhea Ruby and perhaps they will spare you and your shrieking women."


"You speak powerful words, Ares," she said. "But remember, you so much as breathe in my daughter's direction, you so much as touch an Amazon in an improper way, and I will see to it that you are the first to die a painful death."


"We'll see about that," he responded, vanishing with a laugh.


The hound looked up at his mistress and seemed to sigh.


"I know, I know," she responded, flopping down onto her pallet. "It's gonna be a long day isn't it? And I have to remain in the village instead of going to the camp to lead my army," she sighed, running her fingers through her animal's fur.


Mariko walked into the hut. Samsara looked up at her mentor. "I just spoke to Dachus on his way out. I must give to you more knowledge. It will be necessary to proceed with your plan."





Jadea broke away from the Queen Regent. She headed straight for the gates of Themiscyra, Ardra floating over her head. The Sorceress ordered the gates opened, and stepped lightly outside them. Flashbacks whipped past her eyes before vanishing in the recesses of her memory. The woman took a deep breath and sighed.


Go now, before I change my mind, she told her hawk who didn't linger around.


Ardra took flight in toward where the Highland Tribe was camped. Jadea was sending her to fetch the Amazons to Themiscyra. The Cirran's army would remain in Cirra Valley...with Angus.




Somewhere in the Roman Empire...


"Curse those vixens!" A Roman commander exclaimed as he slammed his dagger into the table before him. A second later, one of his men entered the tent with his arm across his chest.


"Sir, we have news from the front! The Roman Amazon tribes have abandoned their lands!" The soldier informed.


This news caused the commander to be suspicious, as both eyebrows raised suddenly. His eyes were filled with contempt for the enemy. The sword at his side was still stained with human blood from a recent battle. The man was the epitome of everything the Amazons despised. He didn't represent a true Roman. But he did represent Caesar's kind.


"No Amazon would leave her lands willingly. She'd die first. What are those bitches up to?" He asked aloud, half to himself, as he studied a map of the Empire.


Outlined were those areas controlled by Roman Amazons. The lands were considered part of Rome, regardless of the fierce women warriors who inhabited them. Rome didn't have many Amazon tribes...but she had many Amazon warriors.


"Send the fastest messenger to Caesar, at once! Tell him that we march to reclaim their lands in the name of Rome!" He shouted and waved his hand dismissively. The man's eyes narrowed on the parchment map. "If they want to give up their lands, so be it." He muttered disdainfully.




In Themiscyra...


The Teloan Elder Serena managed to engage in a civil conversation with Queen Regent Medea. Among the topics of discussion came the question of Zia's imprisonment. "Queen Medea, is it wise to hold one of our own in custody?" Serena asked respectfully, although she'd done the same in the past.


Celosia's sister felt on edge, struggling every moment to keep a level head. The Amazon craved battle as much as she dreaded it, now. When she answered, her tone conveyed as much. "It is when that Amazon has a habit of putting herself in danger. We can't afford haphazard actions, Elder." Medea commented, soon relieved to see the reappearance of her co-Queen.


Jadea walked up in time to hear Serena's reply. "That is a valid point, but unity is what will win this war, Queen Medea. Anything less-"


The Sorceress didn't have time for this. She'd witnessed enough of Serena's wiser-than-thou lectures against Medea. "Anything less will get us all killed - Amazons, Romans, and gods alike," she finished, slightly nodding at Medea for her look. "And while I'd happily sacrifice the Romans and gods for the Nation, I'll be damned before I see us wiped out of existence." A short but meaningful pause as she glanced from one to the other. "Elder Serena, I trust that the Teloans understand what they must do?"


The Teloan Elder nodded silently, her gaze shifting from Medea to Jadea.


"Good. Medea, the Highlanders will be arriving before nightfall," Jadea informed what the Queen Regent already knew. The two women had thoroughly discussed each step of the plan; in addition to steps that could be needed through unpredicted variables.


"I'll see to their arrival. You should speak to your nieces, though. That general entered camp to confer with Samsara. Jade, I don't want her-"


She was cut off unexpectedly...but not by her co-ruler.


"Don't want me to what?" The Goddess asked. All three heads turned in unison with three different expressions.





"Go gallivanting around?" she finished. "Hardly. I came to inform you that Dachus has found a legion of Roman soldiers in the nearest valley east. He's awaiting my orders."


Medea looked at her and nodded. "They're here earlier than expected. I think we can handle it without you."


Samsara shook her head. "No, you don't understand. He sent a legion of Roman soldiers. I have a plan that will crush his initial army and send them scrambling."


Medea cocked her head. Serena opened her mouth to say something, but Samsara lifted a hand. "Before you say anything, let me remind you that I am in command of one thousand armed men, graduates of the War Academy, faithful to Amazons. I think I'm instrumental."


Serena kept her mouth shut as Jadea nodded. "I agree. And I think I'm following your train of thought." She smiled.


The grey wolf panted and walked to Medea, sniffing her boots. The Queen Regent got angry and stepped away violently.


"You... get... this... mongrel out of my way!" she shouted. She pulled out a dagger. "If you don't do something about this gods-forsaken mutt, I WILL!"


Samsara whistled and the hound trotted to her. "He was trying to feel you out."


"He scared the young ones," Medea countered.


"If he can be gentle with my daughter, I'm sure he won't hurt anyone."


Before Medea could say anymore Jadea interjected, "We need to move forward. Let's discuss this plan."


Much of the idea depended on Samsara's newfound powers. Mariko would guide her as she led the army into the valley. The Roman soldiers would believe the infantry as a set of reinforcements. As they march into Themiscyran territory, noting Dachus and Samsara's army gone, Samsara's men would kill the enemy. Insurrection would spread and the Roman soldiers would decide to leave instead of fighting the Amazons. As they fleshed out the plan more in the command center, Mariko entered Samsara's mind. She begged to speak to her immediately.


The Goddess excused herself and went to river to meet with her mentor. Mariko had a solemn look on her face. "I must tell you about your premonitions. It was one of Haisun's dying wishes..."





When Athanase left the meeting prematurely, Queen Medea gave her co-ruler a meaningful look. Jadea nodded discreetly.


Thalia, where are you? The Amazon mentally sent out her thought to the scout. She soon heard her Sister's familiar voice in her mind.


Equipping the horses. What do you need? She sent back, her tone that of a curious but busy woman.


Assign another Amazon to finish your task. Take two other scouts and go to our borders, Jadea instructed and then paused. Wait for a signal, then report back. You'll know the signal when you see it.





Zia looked out from the jailhouse and wondered where in the woods Caesar’s army was located. They must be there somewhere, waiting for us to make a mistake. I know how they think better than they could imagine.


Zia thought of her sword and how the sun glimmered along the length of the blade. If only she had it now. That sword should be slicing off that bastard's head.


What Zia did not know is that visions of her thoughts were going through a fellow Amazon's mind.





"Haisun as he lay dying in my arms that night," Mariko recalled, "foretold the fall of the Greek Pantheon and he saw you in the center of it all. The Pantheon must fall, Samsara."


"It's too soon," she responded, arms folded. "We aren't ready for a one-god. They aren't ready to give up their power."


"And you believe you are not ready to give up yours," the Eastern Woman completed. "This is why you do not desire the fall of the Pantheon: because you do not believe that you will retain your power. You believe your power is connected to theirs. Samsara, you are the inheritress of the Pantheon. Samsara will never die. You will always exist as that is what you are named."


The Great Destroyer looked at her Japanese mentor. "What are you saying?"


"The spread of monotheism remains in the Mid-East. The God of Adam, Abraham, and Noah exists, but his influence has yet to reach Greece. You know it won't reach Greece for a few generations at the earliest. The dominion of the Greek Gods must come to a close for that to happen."


"We need to let it happen on its own. If the Gods strike, they sign their death warrants, but until then, I will leave them be." Samsara kept from looking at Mariko. "I can't. I will pick and choose my battles with individual gods, not with them all as a collective."


The woman smiled. "You are learning. Take your premonitions, Goddess. Learn from them. Just because you see into the future does not mean that future will happen. You can stop the fall of your fellow sisters."


Athanase looked at her. She knew what the older woman meant. She had to keep Zia from losing herself, she had to keep Seriana from Athena's clutches, and she needed to prevent Jadea from going back to her old ways.


But how?


Gathering Forces

What Starts A War


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