"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Thalia said, standing. "No
way you're doing that." She pulled her sword. "She's
my best friend. Not your play toy."
The men stood at attention, ready to strike back. Discord
merely laughed. "Why is it that silly mortals believe they
can take on the gods? Perhaps the Xena stories have been
exaggerated. I could have killed her off years ago. Don't think
you can do any better." She snapped her fingers and two of
the men quickly took hold of Thalia. Then she turned her
attentions to Seriana. "Now, as for you..." Her eyes
became a bright blue as she prepared to strike, but something
"What are you doing, Pumpkin?" he said in a forced
manner. It was Ares. "You don't intend on turning my
daughter into shish kebab, do you?" His sugary sweet manner
Patronizing, conniving . . . she thought.
He raised a finger, having read her thoughts. "Ah, ah .
. . Watch your language, baby. You can use it later," he
winked. "But for now, you won't be using your pent up
energy to fry her. I have big plans for Seriana." He looked
at his frightened daughter who drew her dagger and kept it at
ready. "Let's make a deal. You want your memory back, don't
Her stance slackened. My memory, she thought wildly. Could
this awful man give it back to me? She nodded. Of course she
wanted her memory back. She wanted to remember everything.
"I can give that back to you," he continued.
"I can give everything back to you with just a snap of my
fingers. And I could even erase the bad memories forever,
Seriana. You had an awful life, but I can give you the good
times back. I can give you what you want. All that I ask is that
you come with me, live on Olympus and train with me."
A horse violently neighed as the two men holding Thalia
buckled and fell, each dead. It was Samsara and she hit them
with arrows tainted with the hind's blood she carried in her
Discord growled. Now she's asking for trouble, she
thought, preparing her eyes.
"Don't even think about it," Samsara responded.
Hercules and Iolaus were behind her. The short one ran to Thalia
and caught her before she fell.
"I'm taking her back to the infirmary," he
responded, carrying her away.
"Be sure to strap her down then," the High Princess
ordered. "She'll make herself sick for the rest of her life
if she doesn't stay in bed."
"Floozy!" Discord yelled. "Those were
"Talking to the mirror again? I suggest you stop
that," Hercules said with a smile.
Samsara dismounted. "No, how can she if the broke the
last thousand she's glared at?" she responded laughing. She
then turned to her father. "Now you. Let her go. Her place
is with the Amazons."
"Such a wonderful, matriotic thing to say," Ares
said. He extended his hand. "Seriana, all your memories --
all the good memories -- if you take my hand and come to Olympus
with me . . ."
Samsara needed a diversion. Ares was going to convince her
and she needed some way to keep him from saying more. She jumped
and landed behind a confused Discord and quickly took out her
dagger, wetting it with hind's blood. To Hercules' dismay, she
killed the two bodyguards, grabbed the Goddess of Mayhem by the
hair and pulled her head up, exposing her milky neck. She deftly
put the poisoned dagger at her throat and said:
"Rescind your offer or I off the witch."
Ares looked at her and smiled. "You think I would risk
this just to save her?"
Discord spat, attempting to hit the God of War but failed.
Samsara pulled her grip tighter. "Yes, I do. You will not
take my sister away from me. You already seduced one." She
referred to the turning of her sister Kaia Kakistos.
"Although the deck was stacked against her from the
Ares' lover laughed. "Not like your mother is any prize
. . ."
Samsara jerked her head back. "Shut up."
Hercules was alarmed by what was going on, but he knew what
to do. He had to convince Seriana that the deal was a rotten
one. Whether Samsara killed Discord or not was up to the Great
Destroyer herself. "Seriana don't do it. It's a bad
Ares ignored his half brother and focused on his other
daughter. He continued to have his hand stretched out to Seri.
"Do you want to risk the wrath of Zeus if you kill an
Olympian, Samsara?" he said. "Do you believe that
killing a god will make the situation any better? Because the
death of a god requires the retaliation of all the gods and you
would not like your matron goddess hunting one of her own. Oh,
the irony of it all."
He stretched out his other hand toward her. "I will make
you a similar deal. You let me take your sister to Olympus and
you let the sniveling witch live, and you can come to Olympus
and have the ambrosia you crave and deserve. You, Goddess
Kakistos of Destruction . . ."
Hera had denied Samsara the ambrosia after realizing her
lineage. So, although Samsara was not an Olympian god, Callisto
was technically an immortal when she gave birth, Samsara needed
ambrosia to keep her powers should her staff -- her talisman –
ever come up missing.
Ambrosia. The offer was tempting. I could get the
powers I deserve, she thought. I wasn't meant to be
Queen. I was meant to be a god. The Goddess Kakistos of
"Samsara, Seriana, don't," Hercules said. He glared
right at his brother. "Ares lies and you both know
But Samsara looked at her father's hand. She never felt the
love of her biological parents. Her Amazon mother had been
Ishtar, but Ishtar was long dead. She needed parental affection.
When her guardian had died she had needed to grow up as fast as
her goddess body had. Goddess Kakistos of Destruction. And
Seriana could be happy . . . She loosened her grip on
Discord's hair and reached for her father's . . .
Looking to her new mentor.
"So, what do we do now?" Swift rubbed the back of
her neck still trying to remember what the symbol she had seen
"We practice," Valkyra said. She thrust one of the
bows at the young woman and began showing her how to hold it
Following her sister's lead, Seriana slowly put her knife
back in its sheath. Remember . . . to remember at last . . .
She shot an evil look at Discord, who was angrily
re-arranging her hair. "All right, Vampire-Face: call me
that filthy name again and you don't want to know what's going
to happen to you."
Discord looked as innocent as she could. "What? You mean
b . . ."
Samsara reached back and gave Discord's hair a firm twist,
causing her to yelp. "Yeah. That one."
"Samsara, Seriana, leave her alone," Ares ordered.
"The sooner we get back to Olympus, the sooner we get down
"Come on, you two!" Hercules shouted. "He's a
chronic liar; you know that! You knew that," he amended
quickly as Seriana glared at him.
"Maybe he's right," Samsara said thoughtfully.
"We don't have any reason to trust you."
"I'm making you an offer you can't refuse. You don't
need any more reason than that."
"But how do we know you'll give it to us if we pledge
allegiance to you?" Seriana asked.
Ares rolled his eyes. "Look, Artemis is going to have my
neck any second so if you want what I'm offering you'll take my
"Memories first," Seri said.
"Ambrosia first," Samsara added. "Then I come
The God of War shrugged. "Fair's fair."
He waved his hand towards Seri, and her eyes and mouth went
wide as every good thing she'd ever experienced came rushing
back to her. It came too fast for her to handle, and she fell to
the ground like a rock.
Samsara felt something soft and cool in her palm, and she
held it up to the light to glow pink. The smell of ambrosia was
something you could never forget, and she drew it in with deep,
Seri remembered ambrosia . . . remembered poison and Ares and
phenomenal power and blood. She sat up and watched, her eyes
shining, as Samsara moved to lay the ambrosia in her mouth.
But Samsara was a few seconds too late . . .
Hercules tackled her. Samsara screamed as her uncle violently
pulled her down.
"You can't have that!" he yelled.
Samsara pushed him off. She still had the ambrosia in her
hand. "How dare you, Hercules?" she demanded.
"I've waited years for this!"
"You will turn evil if you have it," he responded.
"You would be a minion of Ares!" He hoped he could
reach her through reason. A physical fight with her would be
more difficult than fighting Zeus himself, as he felt almost as
much affection for her as he did Seriana.
Discord shot a glare at Ares. "You would let her become
an Olympian?" she demanded. "Your bastard child by
that nut case?"
At that, Samsara finally spoke to Hercules. "Uncle, if
my only purpose is to rile Discord, then it's all worth
it." She looked directly into Hercules' eyes and swallowed
the food of the gods with a laugh.
The ground rumbled and the skies turned dark with storm
clouds. Samsara's eyes turned a clear blue like her mother's had
when she had eaten the ambrosia. She stood and her eyes flared.
Now she was more powerful than the King of the Gods. She held
the hind's blood, which had the power to kill gods, and now she
had the power of the gods running through her veins. She had
infinite power. All she needed was an infinite supply of
ambrosia to maintain her infinite power.
Seriana remained where she was and watched.
Ares laughed. Now, she's mine . . . now all I need is for
her sister to follow.
But Samsara had other plans. She was far from being Ares'
general, but the rage that was Callisto was still in her. She
took out her dagger and seemed to focus on picking the dirt out
of her nails as Discord had done earlier. She looked at the
Goddess of Mayhem and said. "How about you and I have it
out . . . Later?"
Discord was frozen in her position. She was honestly afraid
of her. "Yes, later," she said in as steady a voice as
she could manage. Then she looked at Ares. "You and I will
have a discussion about this, honey." Then she vanished
with the sound of yowling cats in her wake.
Samsara looked down at Hercules and cocked her head.
"Sorry, Herk. You tried to reason with me and
"But you can do something for me. Tell Celosia I will
take my leave from Themiscryan and so will Seriana. And tell her
not to worry. Father won't be leading any charges against ANY of
the Amazon tribes. I'll be sure of it," she shot a look at
Hercules stood up. He looked down at his younger niece.
"That's not you talking. That's the ambrosia. Samsara, you
don't mean this. You don't want to become Ares' slave."
The God of War folded his arms. We'll see . . .
"And I won't. And neither will Seri. Herk, your father
himself told me. I am the Goddess Kakistos of Destruction. I am
a goddess and there is nothing anyone or even this hind's blood
can do about it. And since I have this pendant -- " she
played with the chain " -- no god will go against me and
the ambrosia is mine." She laughed. "It's just
perfect! I succeed where Mother failed. I have the control she
wanted all her life. It's all around my neck!"
She called for Prince and he trotted to her, faithful as
always. She stroked his nose. "There are two first orders
of business. First: Seri, call your horse. I can take you to
Olympus. You don't need father to do that for you."
Ares' mouth dropped. She isn't going to get away with any
"Second," she continued. "Time to find
Prince's third eye." She referred to the soft spot in her
horse’s forehead, which was missing a ruby. He was reputed to
be the son of Pegasus the winged steed. She wanted to give him
back his wings and make him the horse he was supposed to be.
"We had a deal," Ares said. "You'll hold up
She turned to him and all that was her mother boiled to the
surface. "Oh yeah? And, uh, what exactly are you gonna do
if I don't, huh? You're going to kill me? 'Cause I'm a goddess
now, sweet cheeks, and goddesses don't die!" She laughed.
"Sounds like something Mother would say."
Seriana whistled for Denius and he thundered to his mistress.
She stood and held his reins tight. She looked at Ares as she
Hercules cried after Seriana. He needed to save one to be
able to save them both. "Seriana, you can't! Why would you
go to Olympus?"
She didn't answer him. He focused on the younger.
"Samsara!" The Goddess turned to him. "Don't
follow Ares. You'll only do evil if you follow him. Please, be
your good self . . ."
"Good?" she demanded. "What is that if all you
felt after your guardian's death is pure hate?" She mounted
her horse. "She was everything to me and nothing has
been the same since!" She had vowed never to cry again
after she had cried at Ishtar’s funeral. "And the only
way for me to feel sane is to purge of this pain . . ."
She took Seri's hand. "Are you ready to go?" she
Seriana slowly nodded. She knew what she was doing.
Hercules looked on painfully as the sisters vanished. Then
the brothers looked at each other. "I hope you know what
you've done," Hercules said. "You just put your whole
family in danger. You have no scruples."
Celosia arrived with her guards behind her. She felt she
needed to as soon as Iolaus had brought Thalia back to camp. She
was amazed at what she saw. "Where are they?" she
demanded of Hercules.
He explained as quickly as he could.
The Queen was angered. She walked to the God of War and stood
between him and Hercules, looking up at him with pure
determination in her eyes. "You will return them to me unharmed,
or my forces will topple every one of your temples until you
reconsider. My Amazons will destroy everything that is yours and
Artemis will protect us at every step until you return Samsara
Ares was afraid of her threat. He knew she would do it.
Celosia was not one to make idle threats. "I don't think I
can do anything about it . . ."
"I believe I am right when I say Artemis will hold you
He gulped then vanished.
Solemnly the Queen turned to Hercules and sighed. "I
always felt uneasy about Samsara. She always did things without
consulting me. She has always come through for me, but now she's
Hercules put a hand on her shoulder. "I know her well.
She felt betrayed when she was denied and her sister was
accepted onto Olympus. She may think that she'll do good being a
goddess, but from experience I know she'll realize it's not what
she expects it to be. My fear is that she'll turn evil while she
"So what do we do, Hercules? Do we wait? I have to start
the campaign against Ares, but how do we get them back?"
Meanwhile, Samsara and Seriana appeared at a clearing. Their
horses trotted toward the base of a mountain and as they passed
they saw the city of Mt. Olympus before them. They dismounted
and looked, observing the marble buildings. Samsara smiled.
"Home," she said. She looked at her sister.
"I'm sure you think it is," a familiar voice said
behind them. It was Kaia Kakistos and she walked between them
and faced them. "If it isn’t both of my goody-two-shoes
sisters! Welcome to Olympus!" She shouted, throwing her
hands up and laughing. "I see Daddy gave you ambrosia, Sami.
Can't wait 'till Grams finds out."
"Hera," Samsara seethed. "Don't cause any
trouble here, Kaia." She pulled her horse along and
motioned for Seriana to do the same.
Seriana looked at her younger sister. She's turning evil .
. . I can feel it. But how do I . . . why do I . . .?
The younger merely smiled. They herded their horses to
stables. Denius and Prince were not happy to be next door to
each other. Prince's eyes seemed to get redder with anger every
time he looked at the battle steed and Denius just snorted
"Denius," Seriana said. "Calm down." She
stroked his nose until he calmed a bit then the sisters left the
They stepped out and walked along until Artemis called for
She was livid.
The young Regent sighed and rubbed her stomach. She'd spent
the last four hours in the tent designated for eating and had
barely looked up from the plates upon plates of food she'd been
served. Only now as a wide-eyed Amazon cleared off her last bit
of venison did she feel completely full.
"Thanks," she muttered after the Amazon, who nodded
as if in awe of what she had seen and quickly scurried away. The
younger girl chuckled to herself and looked around the tent,
hoping for some company.
There weren't very many warriors kicking around. Of course,
there weren't usually at this time of day. Still, somehow Medea
felt a bit . . .abandoned. She had no clue where Tern had gotten
too and Celosia had run off to do what Medea could only assume
was 'Queen Duties.'
It didn't help that no one in the tent would make eye contact
with her. Whether it was because they were angry or afraid of
what she had done over these past few weeks, she didn't know.
Come on Medea. Get a grip! Since when do you give a flying
piece of centaur dung if those snotty Amazons don't like you.
Remember Léda? You didn't get along with her either, never made
Forcing a self-assured grin onto her face, the young Regent
nodded and got to her feet. Several of the Amazons in the tent
jumped to theirs at the same time, weapons drawn.
"Uh, training grounds," Medea explained with a
raised eyebrow. "I'm heading to the training grounds?"
she offered again, glaring pointedly at the weapons held out at
They continued to stare uncertainly, forcing the blond to
snarl in contempt. Storming from the tent, she made a point to
swear in every language she knew -- and Medea knew quite a few.
She had traveled to other villages to sign peace treaties and
things with Celosia on many occasions, and had picked up quite a
few . . . choice . . . words.
"Dali Amazons, think they're so dali special. Just
because I went a little dali crazy for a while, not like
I'm the first one who ever dali did that . . .UGH!"
Thalia opened her eyes finding herself back in the healing
tent. She vaguely remembered Iolaus bringing her back.
"Here we go again." she chuckled to herself. She
didn't know how long she'd been out, but the healers had done a
good job. She felt a lot better.
Yawning, she tried to sit up only to find her wrists strapped
to the bed. "What the . . ." A sideways grin fell on
her face. "They know me too well."
With a little maneuvering, she managed to get free of the
straps. Xanthea moved to stop her but Thalia held up a hand.
"I'm fine, honest."
She hopped off the bed and pushed the door aside. Looking
around, she tried to spot Seriana. "Are they back
Spotting Medea heading for the sparring grounds she ran after
her. "Medea! Have you seen Celosia or Seriana? Are they
"No," Medea said, turning and continuing on her
Thalia cocked her head. Now Medea can be anti-social, but
this is just silly! She ran to her and grabbed her shoulder
and said, "Hey, it's me!"
Medea shrugged her off. "Don't touch me," She
grouped Thalia with the dali Amazons who had drawn their
"Medea! I'm your friend, remember?" she said, a bit
The Regent smiled. "Oh, okay. Come with, I need a
They walked together toward the weapons hut to retrieve some
sparring staffs, the ends protected with cloth to prevent
"No, they aren't back yet," Medea said quietly.
"Well last I saw of Seriana she was dealing with Discord
and then Ares appeared and started his usual yapping . . ."
"Ares," Medea seethed.
Thalia made a face. Names not to mention around Medea . .
.Ares. "Well, I'm wondering if she got back. Samsara
showed up and I don't know what happened after . . ."
"Samsara," Medea seethed. Then she stood up
straight. Well, hopefully there will be someone a bit more
hated than I am. She smiled. She also felt resentment at how
the High Princess of Teloq was accepted without so much as a
stir. She shook her head as she picked up a staff.
"Ready?" she asked with a glint in her eye.
Thalia was feeling better by the second. "Yes."
"I am not tolerating this!" Artemis roared
as she caught up to Ares and grabbed him by the back of the
vest. "No. Not your serpent-tongued brat and not my
"I am my own mistress now, Artemis," Samsara
announced. "I will do as I wish."
"You will do as Ares wishes," Artemis snapped.
"And you," she turned on Seriana. "Again
you give in to temptation. What would Xena think?"
"It wasn't temptation, it was blackmail," Seriana
pointed out. "And I don't care what Xena would think. She
taught me to fight the hard way and then she abandoned me."
"Wait a minute . . ." Samsara said, turning to face
her sister. "That's not what happened the way the
Themiscyrans tell it."
Ares shrugged. "Who defines 'good' memories?"
Kaia smiled. "Oh, that was low, Ares, really low."
"I'm not the god of truth."
"I'm going to go talk to Mnemosyne," Artemis
announced. "And Hera. I'd hide my sad, ugly head if I were
you, Ares. Where's Hercules when you need him?"
"He's in Themiscyra," Seriana offered before Kaia
smacked her in the back of the head.
"Shut up, mortal."
"Shut up, Discord-spawn," Seri snapped back.
Samsara carefully separated the two. "All right, girls,
if we're all going to wreak havoc together we must learn to stop
"Hold it," Ares ordered. "Where'd Artemis
The four of them looked around. Artemis was nowhere in sight.
"Hunt her down," Ares ordered. "Find her. I
don't want her opening her mouth about this to anyone."
Samsara and Kaia nodded sharply. "We're on it,"
"What about me?" Seri demanded.
"Stay here," her father commanded. All three gods
vanished in unison.
"Seriana does not follow orders to stay put," she
muttered to herself. "If they're running off without me
then I'm going home."
She turned and headed off towards the center of the city,
where she knew she would find the gods she could still count as
Soon, Kaia and Samsara found Artemis walking up the marble
steps to the Olympian palace. Samsara knew what Hera's response
would be and she was ready for the queen of mean. In fact she
had no idea why she was listening to her father anyway.
Kaia laughed. "Hey, archer!" she yelled.
Artemis turned around. She was still angry and she was
determined to stop Samsara from eating more ambrosia. She knew
the Amazon wasn't ready for it. She was still fighting Ares'
influence. "What do you want? You know what I'm going to
"I want to talk to you, Matron."
Artemis' eyes widened at Kakistos' words. "We have
nothing to discuss."
"How about you tell me why the tribes were split?"
Samsara looked at Kaia and her mouth dropped. What is she
doing? She thought.
"To keep you and your sister from turning the Amazons
into a farce," Artemis answered, turning back and
continuing up the stairs.
Kaia was not having it. She created a force in the palm of
her hand and threw it up toward Artemis. She intentionally
missed her and the force landed before the Matron of the Amazon,
shaking the foundation of the palace.
Out came Hera, angered. "What is the meaning of
this?" she demanded. She looked down at Samsara and said,
"You . . ."
"Grams!" Samsara responded with fake glee.
"Isn't it nice to see you again?"
"I thought we had a deal," she said. "I let
you keep the hinds blood and you don't set foot here."
The Goddess Kakistos chuckled. "Forget it. I keep the
hinds blood and I make my home here," she blew a kiss to
the Queen of the Gods. "Because unless I'm needed back
there, I am here to stay."
Artemis looked at Samsara. She knew how to stop her. She
needed someone she could trust to poison her ambrosia . . .
Artemis vanished from the steps of the temple and reappeared
in front of Celosia, who was sitting alone in her hut. Once the
Queen realized that her Goddess was in the hut with her, she
dropped to one knee and lowered her head.
"Artemis, Goddess of the Amazons, to what do I owe this
pleasure," the Queen asked, her voice directed to the
bearskin on the floor.
Artemis smiled upon the Queen of one of her favorite tribes.
"Celosia, I have a request of you. Rise and listen."
Celosia got to her feet, her shoulders thrown back and head
up, proud to be conversing with the Goddess of the Hunt. As she
stood there, waiting for the next word from Artemis, the Goddess
raised her hands, fingers splayed, palms upright. A light breeze
swept through the hut, lifting Celosia's long two-toned hair,
signifying that the Goddess had formed a protection around
herself and the Queen of the tribe.
"Now, no one can overhear us," Artemis continued.
"I need you to do something, not only for me but for the
future of your tribe."
"If my tribe is in any danger, Artemis, you can count on
me to do as you bid," Celosia said.
Artemis nodded; knowing Celosia could be trusted to fulfill
the difficult task she was assigning. "I need you to take
this vial," Artemis said, handing Celosia an ornately
decorated vial, "and sparingly pour it over the ambrosia
fruit. I know Xena showed you where it was."
Celosia looked at the vial, turning it over in her hands. The
vial itself was dark blue glass, with a dragon's tail made of
silver wrapped around it. The dragon itself sat on the red wood
stopper. "My Goddess, may I be so bold as to ask what this
"Hind's blood," the answer was short and succinct.
Hind's blood! Celosia thought. Why would I have to
pour this on ambrosia? Unless Artemis wants to weaken a Goddess'
power . . . "Samsara!"
Artemis watched the play of emotions over Celosia's face as
she figured the answer out. "Correct, Celosia. Left as a
Goddess, Samsara will wreak more destruction than Callisto, Alti,
and the Xena of her days with Ares' army put together. We need
to weaken her godly powers. The only way to do this is to taint
the supply of her powers."
"The ambrosia," Celosia finished. Artemis merely
Celosia was torn, knowing that the hind's blood would likely
cause serious damage to Samsara, one of her Amazons. But she
also knew it was the only way to stop Ares’ influence over her
"I will do as you ask, my Goddess," Celosia
answered. Artemis disappeared, leaving Celosia to her disturbing
thoughts of harming another Amazon.