Questions Without Answers




"Aye we do."


Those were the last words the General nobleman recalled. He awoke in a strange place and without his clothes. Somehow, he'd been knocked out and his head throbbed incessantly. The Celt tried to focus his eyes to assess his whereabouts. Indeed, he was nowhere that he knew of. With his right hand holding his head, he moaned in pain. Nothing about this made sense to him.


Bruce tried sorting through his thoughts and what he remembered. The last memory he could summon was being on the battlefield. Hazy though that recollection felt, he could remember the look on Jadea's face - the same as he'd seen in the eyes of the Amazon women of that tribe he'd annihilated.


A door opened and he looked up at the sound of its creaking. Before him stood a tall woman with spiked-looking hair. He'd never seen her before, but she had all the makings of an Amazon. Her eyes set upon him with a coldness he felt was undeserved. She didn't even know him, yet she judged him.


Bruce found himself to be completely unarmed and clothed in a brown shirt. He'd been stripped of his armor, gauntlets, torque, and imperial cloth.


"On your feet!" The woman commanded.


Bruce then realized, for his head was bit dizzy at the moment, that his hands were shackled behind him. As he struggled to maintain some kind of dignity, his ears caught the voice of someone he knew.


"I'll handle it from here, Queen Medea," the feminine voice said quietly.


"Jade?" The Celt questioned in disbelief.


Queen Medea jumped and kicked him hard with her heel. "You will not speak unless given permission! And if given permission to speak, you will address your audience with the proper respect that she deserves!"


Jadea had taken the man back to Themiscyra with her. And without him to command his army, Conor would destroy Bruce's men. Even though Conor commanded fewer men on the battlefield, reinforcements would arriving once they hit shore in the form of a band of Highland Amazons. The warrior women knew the situation and were more than willing to fight beside Conor to defeat the general's army.


"Congratulations," Jadea commended sarcastically as she walked past Queen Medea. "You're dead again."


The Celt felt more lost than ever before. Had she killed him only to bring him back? No. . . no the pain was too intense for him to be dead. Oh, if only his head would quit moaning so he could think.


"Here's how it stands. You are dead as far as Eire is concerned, as far as Britannia is concerned, and as far as Rome is concerned."


Medea raised an eyebrow. "Rome?"


Jadea ignored the reference. She'd explain later if pressed.


"Th-Thayken will-"


"Thayken will not come for you. He's likely dead by now. Newsflash, my good're not in Lagore anymore." Jadea then chuckled to herself, amused by her unintended rhyme.


"Jadea, I'll assemble the tribe," Queen Regent Medea stated, realizing that she'd rather be elsewhere if she was going to be allowed to kill the man.


The Amazon Sorceress nodded. "Thank you. I'll be there soon."


Bruce steadied himself and looked at the woman he once loved. His sharp blue eyes studied her icy gaze.


"Don't think of trying to escape, dear. I've given the word that you be killed without hesitance or question should you flee. And don't try to talk to my Sisters, either. They won't listen. I've made sure that your reputation and history are known by all of them. You'll be lucky if one doesn't try to sneak in and kill you."


He shook his head and gave a baffled look. Jadea smiled. "Oh, I've ordered that you not be killed unless you give a reason." She chuckled again, such a terrifying sound. "Of course, to most Amazons - you've already done that."


Themiscyra's co-Queen stared at the prisoner with indifference now. She turned to leave and wasn't surprised to hear his voice call out.


"Jadea, Sorceress Empress..."


Just outside the cell, Thalia looked in and gasped at what she saw. Turning back toward the chained man, Jadea walked to him and laid her hand on his cheek.


"You killed me once, already. The Amazons are what saved you in Lagore yesterday. Your horse reared back and threw you. Never saw a man hit the ground that hard before. I walked up to you and watched your lifeless body. I was prepared to do more than just kill you. I still am. If you taught me anything with your death, it's that many things are worse than death itself." Jadea turned and walked out, nearly ramming into Thalia. The Sorceress narrowed her eyes at the young warrior. "Be wise, Thalia, and never do that again."


"Yes, Jadea," the Scout managed to reply through her fear. She walked behind the Sorceress heading straight for the platform.


"My Sisters! I thank you all for gathering here, today. I have rather important news to tell," Jadea's eyes crossed over the large square of women. Her pause lingered, and Medea felt something wrong.


Whispering, she asked, "What is it?"


"Nothing," Jadea brushed the feeling off to continue.


"As many of you are aware, I have brought back a man from the Isle of Eire. Be assured that he is your enemy. Under his command, an army obliterated an entire Amazon village." She paused once more and noticed the horrified and angry looks of her Sisters.


"No one was spared, my Sisters. Not a woman, nor a child...nor a babe. Per his orders, the men burned their homes and killed their livestock. After her death, the Queen of that tribe was raped of her clothes and crucified."


As she spoke, Jadea had thousands of gruesome images flash across her mind. Because of her powers and ties to Celtia, she'd been able to see the events when she journeyed there after hearing of them. The reports given to her had been incomplete but truthful with what they did tell.


Samsara, meanwhile, clasped Karma closer to her bosom. She'd not had time to speak to her Aunt yet. Jadea's return had again been a shock, even more by the words she spoke and the prisoner she'd brought.


"I wish none of you to live the kind of nightmare our Sisters suffered. Therefore, a standing order is issued by Queen Medea and myself. No Amazon warrior in this camp is to speak to or go anywhere near the prisoner. If he attempts to flee, the first Amazon able to do so is ordered to kill him. The closest villages to our lands have been told of the price they'll pay if they aid him in any way." Jadea once again paused. She'd been more wearied by her speech than she thought.


Jadea cleared her throat and attempted to veer some of the looks she received. "Many of you are probably wondering why I bring such a vile pig into Themiscyra."


From this, she was given many nods and remarks like, "Yeah, are you crazy?" Ironically, the Amazon had asked herself the same.


"I could attempt to explain my reasons for allowing our enemy into our lands. Likely, though, they would not sound just or reasonable. Therefore, let me say this! If a man who slaughters women and children...burns their homes...if such a man is killed for his sins - then has he suffered? Has he learned any lesson? No! This man will! He will learn that the Amazon Nation will NOT be enslaved and will NOT be destroyed! He will learn that an attack on ONE Amazon is to war against EVERY woman with the Amazon spirit!"


The farther on she went, the more cheers and yells rang out among the women. Jadea may have left Themiscyra under mysterious circumstances, but there was no denying that she'd returned with Amazon pride intact. The Amazon Sorceress may have left to seek vengeance for the past, but to her Sisters, she'd returned to instill them with passion, courage, and hope. Even Medea, who stood beside her, turned her head and smiled at her co-Queen. She then looked back over her tribe.


"Amazons!" Jadea's voice cut through them. "We must unite and stand together!" She paused just as another wave of spirits exulted from the tribe. They quieted after a bit. "I heard once in this Amazon tribe that two leaders linked their arms and pledged their cause with these words: 'For a strong Amazon Nation!'"


Medea drew her sword and raised it. The Amazons followed her action, though some chose to lift their favored weapon of choice.


The Queen Regent's voice could be heard throughout her lands when she cried, "FOR A STRONG AMAZON NATION!" The Amazons repeated the words and raised up their blades, staffs, etc.


Whoops and hollers were belted out from the spirited lungs of a great many Amazon warriors. From his cell, the Celt known as Bruce heard the women. He moved off the bench and fell to his knees, bowing his head.


"Father, please forgive me," he whispered and prayed in the belief that he could be heard.


To circumvent the need of placing guards on the prisoner, Jadea enlisted the aid of a few Sister magicians. Together, they cast quite the spell over the prisoner's chamber.


Indeed, Themiscyra had changed since Celosia left it. In fact, Jadea even noted in counsel with Medea that her sister would probably faint to learn of the changes that'd occurred.





Samsara turned and walked back to her hut. Seriana saw her sister move, but remained where she was. The older was just labeled Princess Regent. Sooner or later, the three would have to make a trip to Teloq to make the casting official on their ground. Seriana dreaded the trip in some ways, but she decided not to worry so much. Her sister wanted to retain the thought that they were blood sisters, despite evidence to the contrary.


Samsara had explained the purpose to her again before the ceremony. She had taken her sister to a quiet area and told her everything. "Ser'," she started. "I know you know the truth. But it is more than important that you follow through on this."


"Sami, are you sure you know what you're doing?" Silver Hawk asked. "When people find out that we knew . . ."


"By then the ceremony will be done and there will be no disputing. This is for our own good as a family, Sis. Being Princess insures that Medea won't go challenging you whenever she feels like it. It insures that should anything happen to me, Karma still has a family. That if she ascends to the Teloan Throne too young, then you will be the Regent. Seriana, I trust you and that is why I'm giving you this duty. Believe me, by endowing you with this title, you have trumped Kakistos. That is a big part of my fear . . .that someone as demented as Kaia could rule an Amazon Tribe," her eyes were wide when she finished. Seriana looked at her and nodded. She would accept the charge.


Samsara walked into her hut. Mariko walked in behind her. The woman was wearing a different outfit today: that of a cream color and silken fabric. Her kens were strapped to her hips, fastened by a broad waist band. "Goddess," she called.


The woman turned around. "Mariko, why are you here?"


"You need to return to your destined path," her words were straight to the point.


Samsara held the child fast in her arms. Karma played with her ponytail. "I have no destined path. What are you telling me? I have a child to raise and I can't return to what I was."


"If you don't return to your life as the Great Destroyer of Greece, then when it is your time, the world will fall into the depths of chaos," the Japanese woman's words were harsh.


Samsara's eyes turned into slits as she eyed the woman.


"You must retrieve your sword from the Thermodon. The names given to you are not arbitrary," she explained.


"I'm taking a walk," she responded, leaving her hut.


Mariko followed her. "Goddess, you must realize what you are doing."


"Mariko, I am done with this. Dachus will receive charge of my army within days. I have the parchment to give to him via messenger," Samsara shook her head. "Ishtar would never have let me continue on this path..."


"The meaning of your name is no mistake." They were on the river by then, standing at the point where Samsara threw her sword into the Thermodon. Samsara looked at the still, glass-like water as it reflected Selene's moon.


"What does the meaning of my name have to do with anything?" the Amazon said, quieter.


"Because without samsara, no one pays."


"But I do," came the response.


"Athanase, achala, samsara!" Immortal, indefinite, eternal! The words startled the Teloan. "You are the indefinite cycle of birth, misery, and death, fueled by Karma. Do you believe that the Gods are through with you? By learning the truth, you threaten their well-being, their safety, and their stand in history. You, Samsara Kakistos, Worst of the Worst, Goddess Kakistos of Destruction, Great Destroyer of Greece, Master of War are the inheritress of the Pantheon."


Samsara's eyes became wide. "What?"


"The curse that has befallen Uranus and Cronus will soon befall Zeus, only his son will not be the one to do it. You, Athanase, are the one to bring down the Pantheon. You must retrieve your sword and return to your ways, because soon an evil force will come for you. The same evil force that took you when the Majie were at war with the Amazon Nation."


Samsara lowered her head and clasped Karma close to her bosom. "This can't be true, Mariko. Why have you returned with this news? This can't be true."


"I returned to teach you the final lessons you will need to not only defeat the onslaught of any enemies of the Amazon, but the lessons to rule them as well. Ephiny will die, and Gabrielle won't become their Queen as she should," she looked toward the river.


Samsara raised her hand and lifted the sword out from the depths, scabbard and all. She gripped her death weapon in her hand, having left her staff by her pallet.


"I will train you in the art of jujitsu, and the defensive arts of combat. I will train you in the kens, my swords, which I will bequeath to you."




"Haisun saw it all as he was dying at the hands of the Khans. I will reveal it all to you in due time."





Soon after Jadea, the Sorceress Empress and Medea, the Queen Regent rallied the Amazons in their unity of Sisterhood, all of the women were in such good spirits that instead of going back to work, most of them ran down to the river for swimming to release their pent-up energy. Clothes were shed and the splashing went wild. They were all like children at play. The girls of the tribe looked at the adults in astonishment. They didn’t know what was going on, but they loved it and were soon in the water too.


Gradually the splashing and fun gave way to serious bathing, for it was quite common for these warrior women whose pursuits kept them outdoors most of the time to find dust, dirt and grime on their skin and in their hair.


Megakleia, Valkyra’s new apprentice said, “Let me wash your hair, Sister; I love its golden color. You are so beautiful; I wish I was beautiful.”


Valkyra smiled at the seventeen year old young woman with short red hair and said, “You are quite lovely, my dear, but you must remember that it is not in how a woman looks that makes her beautiful; it is in how she behaves that makes her attractive. Why, some of the goddesses on Mount Olympus were very beautiful physically, but their evil made them very ugly. If you can retain goodness and justice in your actions, then you will always be lovely.”


“Well, just lean back and relax as I wash your hair,” said Megakleia.


Valkyra sighed as she was being pampered by Megakleia. “After you rinse the soap out, put in some of this plant extract that I brought with me from the Caucasus. It makes one’s hair feel really soft after this harsh soap that we have to use. I will do yours after you finish mine.”


Megakleia asked, “Valkyra, how long do you think Jadea will keep that horrible man prisoner in our village?”


“I do not know, but if he tries to escape, I hope I am the one who sees him,” replied Valkyra in a dead serious manner. “I would kill a rapist as well as a murderer.”


“Look! Up there on the riverbank! It is the Goddess Samsara and that Japanese woman, Mariko,” said Megakleia as she pointed toward the two women speaking in low voices. “Look! Samsara raised her hand and lifted a sword from out of the river. “What does it mean?”


Valkyra gazed at the Goddess and answered, “I don’t have the foresight to know, but it could mean that some more trouble is heading this way.” Valkyra wiped the soap from her eye as she added, “For some unknown reason, I fear for Karma’s life.”




Medea stood beside her Co-Queen and spoke so that the two were the only ones to hear what was said. "By bringing him here, you've signed his death warrant," the Queen declared, hoping that Jadea wouldn't notice how badly she wished to be the executioner.


But few Amazons had failed to notice Jadea's attitude toward their prisoner. That she'd brought him as a prisoner at all said something in itself. It was widely known that Amazons did not keep prisoners or slaves with but few exceptions, as in this case.


"He's already dead, Medea," Jadea replied pointedly before adding rather grimly, "He just hasn't figured that out, yet."


The Queen Regent looked on as her Amazons took a much need break and reveled exuberantly in the river. Some of the younger ones were still yelping and laughing, but most of the older Amazons were now in conversations.


"What will you do with him?" The Queen asked a minute later. She was quiet and solemn, not usual for her personality. Her eyes remained down on the water.


"He won't harm our Sisters, Medea," Jadea stated, somewhat in a confident fashion. Her instincts told her that that's what Medea's true concern was.


"He's already harmed one of my Amazons. You," the Queen countered firmly.


The Sorceress Empress sighed. She'd just seen her Niece retrieve the sword she'd cast into the waters.  "The man will not live to harm another," she stated and turned to leave.


The Queen called her to stay. "Samsara has been wanting to see you, you know. I don't like that Mariko hanging about her. She's always referring to your Niece as 'Great Destroyer' or 'Goddess Kakistos,'" Medea commented.


"I'll see to her now," she answered and turned her head skyward. "Ardra, find her and escort her to my hut." The hawk immediately left without response.


Jadea turned again to the Queen beside her. Medea saw the angry concern flashing in the Amazon's eyes. She was ever thankful that Jadea did not hold such animosity towards her.


"Queen Medea...I am sorry."


The Amazon leader quirked a brow. Okay now that was unexpected. "For what?" She asked.


"For much. But in this case, for leaving you - both times. And for bringing back an enemy I'd originally sought to kill in Celtia."


Someway, somehow, Medea could see that Jadea felt responsible for a great many things that she should not have. The Queen could see that Jadea sought temperance in bringing the man she hated back alive. Callisto's sister was desperately trying to not become what she once was, what her sister had been, and what Xena had once been.


Medea nodded and clasped the hand of her Co-Queen. "Not that you're in need of it from us, but you're forgiven. Now, go talk some sense into Samsara."


Jadea nodded and left. She'd not get far before a startling surprise caused her to freeze in her tracks.


Marvelously manipulated, Jade. 


The sound was masculine and so clear that the woman couldn't be sure if she'd heard the words in her mind or with her ears. I know you can hear me. You always could, even the times you fought me. I can't blame you, though. I fought you, as well. You'll be glad to learn that Conor triumphed over the Bruce. The whole battle had your sign. It practically reeked of you. I tried to save you, but you pushed away. And now, I suspect, you will try to save Samsara. Don't be surprised when she pushes you - and you lose her as I lost you.


With clenched fists at both sides of her body and through much anger and despair, Jadea uttered a single word.







Mariko took the child in her arms as Samsara strapped her weapon onto her back. She took the child again and looked into her almond colored eyes. "I won't use your knowledge for offensive purposes, Mariko," she turned away from her mentor. "I can't put Karma's life in danger."


"You put her in danger when you sought Rhea's Ruby. The Gods are spitting angry that you killed the vulture that was to attack Prometheus. They will eventually come for your child as retribution, Goddess," the Eastern woman replied.


"And what am I supposed to do about that? I have the hind's blood. They are stupid to come after anything mine."


"Yes, but will hind's blood stop them if they all come together? Safety in numbers, Athanase. It's something the Amazon Nation lives by."


"It also ensures our eventual death," Samsara whispered. She watched the women bathe in the water, sending ripples down the river. "Mariko, I can't inherit your kens. They are yours."


"It is rude to deny a gift." Mariko followed many of the traditions of the Amazons, including accepting a gift.


"I don't believe in pre-emptive strikes."


"I would be lying if I said I believed you."


Samsara turned around. "I will accept your training, Mariko. But, I am mother and I have to think of my child..."


"That is what I am asking you to do," Mariko went back to camp, leaving Samsara to watch the women in the river.


"What should I do, Karma?" she asked, as she started to bathe the child. "I can't return to who I was. That would be unfair to you. But I am an Amazon and I have the fighting spirit in me. Amazons don't cause trouble but they defend when they must."




Zeus still paced the halls of Olympus. Hera sat contentedly and smiled. "Dear husband, why do you worry? The Goddess is neutralized."


"That Eastern woman called her Athanase. Do you realize what that means? Athanase: Immortal!"


"She already knew she was immortal, Zeus."


He turned to his wife. "Dear lady, she knew. But this news that Ares isn't her father... ARES!"


The God of War appeared.


"What is this?" the King of the Gods demanded. He opened up a window and presented to him Apollo's confession. "What is this? What was with you having your way with Callisto in the first place?"


"Like father, like son," came Ares' dark response. He had his hands clasped before him. Ares referred to the many times Zeus had his way with mortals.


Zeus got angry. "You will not speak to me in that tone of voice!" His words boomed all throughout Olympus. "If not for your indiscretions we would not be in this situation now!"


"Look at your other favorite son, Zeus! He was the one who begot this mess! Had Hestia not taken Jadea and Callisto's sister in the first place, there would have been no soul to implant in that ravenous banshee!" He was not going to take blame for whatever Samsara did that was wrong, however he would take credit if she accomplished anything great.


"You had better be afraid of your "daughter," Ares," Hera warned. "Once she regains her sense of anger, she will come after you with a vengeance."


"Perhaps," Zeus responded. "Perhaps not. Remember, Hera, she knows that I knew. All the loyalty she had for me when she saved me from the hind's blood dissipated when she looked up at that viewing wall."




Samsara clothed the child and looked above. Ardra was there signaling that Jadea was free for a chat. Samsara had much to say to her. Ardra squawked.


All right, you dumb bird, I'm coming, Samsara muttered in her head.


Mean that in that tone and I'll drop you a gift, the hawk responded.


Samsara got to her feet and headed toward her Aunt/Sister.





Thalia was heading towards the Mess Hut when she almost ran into Jadea again. Remembering the previous encounter, she was sure to avoid her before Jadea noticed the Amazon was there.


Thalia saw Jadea stop and perk her head up. A message, Thalia thought to herself. Should she try to listen? She watched for a moment as Jadea clenched her fists angrily. Who was talking to her? There were only a select few that would be able to do that. Celosia, Samsara, herself, and Angus. Where had that Celt gone off to, anyway? Garrett was missing his friend. Garrett. . . Thalia shook her head. She still had to sort out her mess of emotions with him.


Her mind drifted back to Jadea. What had gone on? She cautiously approached the woman, wary of any sudden moves, placing her hand on the Amazon's shoulder. "Is everything..."




"Everything is fine," Jadea responded. "I'd not worry about it."


But Thalia knew better. She decided not to press the issue. Besides, Samsara walked right in at that very moment, holding her child in her arms. "Thalia, could you excuse us for a second?" the Goddess asked nicely.


Thalia nodded and left the mess hut, but not until after taking another piece of Valkyra's special Caucasus recipe cake. Samsara smiled at her as the biomorph walked out.


"You knew a great deal, Jade," Samsara started. She rarely called her Jade. She only invoked the name in times of anger or confrontation. This was confrontation. "Why did you keep it secret from me?"


"Because knowing the truth not only would not have set you free, but the Pantheon would have crumbled sooner than ordained," she put her hands on her hips. "You need to curb your temper."


"Medea is the one with the nasty temper, not me."


"We're blood family," Jadea countered. "You have your mother's traits."


Samsara laughed. "Perhaps I do. But you see that I've held it."


"I fear that you may explode."


Jadea was right. Samsara did hold her anger, but it boiled inside her like water in a pressure cooker. She was angry over Ares, her... sire... doing what he had. She was angry that no one had told her the entire truth before Apollo. She was angry that Hera hadn’t struck her son down after he defiled a woman and that Artemis hadn’t strung him up by the unmentionables. Samsara didn't want to use Mariko's knowledge for the offensive, but she knew that anything she learned she would apply against Ares in due time.


"I fear for Karma."


Samsara looked up at her aunt. She had concentrated her vision on the sleeping child in her arms, tiny hands clasped shut, holding a tuft of her new mother's hair. Tiny eyes closed, tiny nose, tiny lips pursed. The child was indeed the pinnacle of beauty, enclosed in a small package that would grow slowly.


"Karma. I know the Gods will come after her to insure that I am indeed neutralized. Jadea, you know that by coming after anything mine, I will strike back with a vengeance. If they come for me now, let them be forewarned," she paused, looking around her. The other Amazons eating the late night snack were intent on their own conversation about loves, Garrett, the prisoner, and the lack of significant action. Some even discussed politics of the camp, Celosia's Nok’tana and Medea's obvious ascension. Jadea's stand and Samsara's "manipulation" of the rules for her advantage.  


Jadea had a right to fear. The Gods were going to go after something, and soon. They just had to wait.





"I am also concerned about your training,” Jadea commented abruptly, looking from the babe in Samsara's arms and into the mother's eyes.


Samsara stiffened. "What about it?" She growled defensively.


The Sorceress Empress gave her a look she'd never seen before and couldn't discern. "How much do you know about what you've learned?" She asked.


"What are you talking about?" The Goddess quipped impatiently. She never did like riddles, mostly because Ares had been too fond of them.


"I'm talking about your parentage," Jadea began, feeling herself begin to lose control.


Since her journey to Celtia, the Sorceress had been itching for a good fight. She'd denied herself the opportunity when she brought her enemy back with her. And now that Mariko, Samsara's mentor and friend, had given the woman reason to doubt her - Jadea felt the itch worsen. She quickly added behind that, "I'm also talking about Mariko."


Her niece looked surprised and then suspicious. "What about Mariko, Jade?"


The woman did not answer. Though she was aching for a fight, Jadea lacked the will to combat her own niece. She thought once or twice of visiting the Celt she'd captured, perhaps to exert some pent up aggression. This whim passed, though, as her attention became more and more focused on her Sisters. Jadea still had Thalia to talk to, their previous encounter having bothered her more than she thought.


Samsara narrowed her eyes. "What do you know that you're not telling me, Jade?"


High above in the air, Ardra flew patiently around from tree to tree and watched her Mistress below.


She was growing more worried as time passed. That Jadea had spared Bruce’s life was a good sign. That she'd brought the treacherous pig back with her, was not.


The hawk sounded a strange call once or twice. A few Amazons from various directions returned the call to see what the matter was. Soon, Queen Medea and a few Amazon guards approached.


"Is there a problem Sorceress Empress?" Medea asked, looking from Jadea to Samsara and speaking as though she hoped for an affirmative response - any excuse to have at it with the little Goddess again.


Jadea's eyes rested on her Niece's for a moment. She turned her head to look at the Queen. "No. No problem," she replied, returning her eyes back onto her sister's daughter.


"Good. Because that horrid excuse for a human wants to see you."


Jadea whipped her head around again. "What? That's impossible. I've insured that he can't talk to any Amazon."


The Queen Regent tilted her head slightly forward. "That may be but he's been bellowing for half an hour now. At first, the women just ignored him, but his persistence lead them to report it to me."


Jadea nodded, seeming to have lost all thought regarding Samsara. "Very well. I'll deal with him,” she answered and began to leave. An intruding voice in her head caught up with her.


Oh, no you don't! I asked you a question, Jadea.


It was Samsara, of course. She had all the resilience and persistence her mother had.





She halted herself, turned sharply, and glared at her Niece. This was certainly not the best time for a family feud. And Samsara could see that in Jadea's eyes. What she didn't understand was how her Aunt could go from being concerned and mildly irritated into absolute fury. The cause, of course, had been the man imprisoned in the Amazons' camp. Jadea'd suspected that it would only be a matter of time before he made himself a nuisance.


"Tell me what you know," Samsara stated, holding her ground. She failed to notice that Queen Regent Medea was behind her.


"Ahem," The Amazon leader cleared her throat, thus causing the Goddess to curse herself for not hearing the woman's feet before her noise.


"Samsara, you are standing near the edge. If you wish to go over, you're a damn fool to think I won't try to stop you. Medea," Jadea looked past Callisto's daughter. "See to it that Samsara does not leave Themiscyra. And keep Mariko under close watch. Post Pike, if you wish."


The Queen simply nodded. "Understood, so long as you see to it that our prisoner stops whining. Crying out in agony is one thing, but hollering to see you or be heard is another."


Jadea nodded and, to save herself from being followed again, teleported directly into the cell.  The Sorceress Empress was the sole person able to get past the shield and to the prisoner. When she appeared, the Celt stood up rattling the two chains behind him. Strong and muscular, as most fierce some warriors tend to be, the man now looked like a trapped lion.


"You've come," he said plainly, but he was obviously surprised to see her.


"I had no choice. My Queen asked that I shut you up," she retorted before her hand reached into a pouch at her side. The Sorceress Empress often had various places on her person where she hid things.


"And I believe," she said and tossed the object just as her other hand released his hands, "that this belongs to you."


Bruce caught it just in time. He recognized the ring instantly.


"I never thought ya'd part with it," the man remarked as he studied the ring's beauty.


"I've learned to live with parting from a great many things," her voice hit him hard, sounding as cold as the day he came into her camp.


He put the ring away with the intent of protecting it for some reason. Perhaps, as he'd been denied all other personal belongings, he felt a desire to hold on to this one last thing allowed him. The Celt's blue crystals looked deeply into Jadea's eyes. He searched for that one flicker, that one spark of the woman he knew. For a flashing moment, he found her.


"You'll be saddened to hear that Conor's defeated your army."




"With the help of some Highland Amazons who landed onshore and made rather remarkable timing in charging the battlefield. I suspect you'll want time to grieve for the loss of your army," she paused and noted the despaired look on his face. "Unfortunately, I cannot afford the time to you. According to Amazon law, you must be executed for your crimes against our Sisters." Again she paused, resenting the next part she was obligated to tell him.


"Themiscyran law declares that you be given three days time from your capture to prepare your defense, where upon you will be given the opportunity to address the tribe. If at that time, you can convince one Amazon to speak on your behalf, then you may stand a chance. Of course, that won't happen. And even if the gods intervened to make it so, that Amazon would still have to fight the Queen to death in order to have your life spared."


When the Amazon sorceress finished, she became aware that her mind was not hers alone anymore. Another's thoughts were intruding again. Such the speaker, ya are. And tell me, then, if your Sister should defend him, will ya kill her for treason, Jade? This is wrong and ya know it!


The woman came within seconds of responding when she heard the Celt before her.


"How do I know I won't be killed?" He asked in a tone Jadea remembered. Calm and collected, it was.


"You don't."


Jadea, may I speak with you?


Antigone. She'd been one of the Amazons to dive in the waters and cool herself off, relax a bit. Obviously, she'd returned sooner than most of the others. The young Amazon huntress seldom if ever asked anything of Jadea. So, the Amazon felt she ought to answer.


As her feet turned from him, she heard the man's voice in her mind.


I've died a thousand deaths for what I did to your Sisters, Jade.


Without moving her tongue, she replied, and you'll die a thousand more.


She vanished and set out to find Antigone. As Jadea walked, she began talking aloud - a habit she used to have under control. "Ach, I still need to talk to Thalia. Oh, no. Garret's going to wonder where Angus is. I've not seen him yet, and I know that's why he hasn't asked. In the name of Brighid, could things be simple just once?"





The Queen Regent of Themiscyra waited for Jadea to exit before she started shouting out orders to her sisters.


"Pike," she called imperiously, setting her gaze on the young warrior. "I'm assigning you a very important task. You are to stick to your orders and only your orders until either myself or Queen Jadea informs you otherwise, understood?"


Medea cringed inwardly at hearing herself using Jadea's present title. She still hadn't been able to bring herself to confess that she was relived the Sorceress Empress had returned. Which was ridiculous because everyone else in the tribe saw it, clear as day.


"I understand, my Queen!" Pike answered, unable to mask her enthusiasm. This was one of Pike's first missions of true significance. If she didn't mess this up it could be her ticket to real status in the tribe, and definitely to the favor of her superiors. Of course it wasn't either of those things that really drove the Amazon. It was simply exciting to be assigned a definite task in this time of organized chaos.


"Good. Go find the eastern woman that Kakis-" Medea mentally reprimanded herself. "Samsara has been associating with. Stick to her like flame to the pyre--you got me?" Pike nodded, eyes sparkling eagerly. Medea couldn't help but smirk. "All right then warrior, get moving."


"Now as for the rest of you," the severe-looking woman sneered at Samsara, though she addressed everyone else in the tent but the Goddess. "You all heard the Sorceress. Miss Goddess here isn't allowed out of Themiscyran borders. All of you will be keeping an eye on Samsara."


The Goddess' eyes flashed with something feral and Celosia's sister felt her spine tingle slightly. She remembered that she had agreed to pay Kakistos some respect and therefore added a somewhat forced: "Be discreet about it as she has a child and she doesn't need twenty shadows scaring her. Should there be any abnormal activity on the Goddess' part, inform myself or Jade--" Medea paused. Jadea had enough on her plate. "Inform me," she finished tonelessly.


Adjusting her gauntlets, the Queen Regent rolled her shoulders once and nodded, satisfied that her job had been done. "All right, that's all for now. I'll leave you to your break, sisters."


With that, Medea turned on her heel and exited the tent with her head held even higher than usual. She felt great. A chance to issue orders and to spite Samsara. It was turning into a beautiful day. Grinning at the sky, Medea ran a hand through her spiky platinum tresses and sighed contently.


Celosia, if you're weaseling in on my thoughts, things are finally looking up.





She shook her head as the fiery Regent exited. She turned to Pike with a look of warning.


"I understand you have to obey orders," Samsara said. "That does not mean that I'll make it easy for you," she turned and left.


Pike arched an eyebrow and walked out, finding Mariko waiting for Samsara in the village square. The Goddess stalked to her and they had a quiet conversation. Seriana showed up and took Karma from Samsara. She disappeared into the Mess Hut for a moment, then reappeared at her sisters side. Then the three went to the training grounds.


"Seriana, I will train you in the art of the kens as well," Mariko said.


Seriana looked at the woman and raised an eyebrow. "I am skilled in many weapons."


"The kens are not like the Grecian swords you use. You must handle them differently, as they are single-edged blades and swipe differently." She demonstrated with one of her kens, then did the same twirls and maneuvers with Samsara's sword. The movements were extremely fluid with Mariko's ken, but Samsara's sword proved cumbersome.


They trained with the kens and soon Seriana and Samsara were squaring off, each with a sword. The cool night air surrounded the two Sisters as they sparred. Mariko stopped the exercise and requested that Seriana get a staff from the weapon's hut. She returned.


"Spar with Samsara. I would like to see the techniques the Themiscyrans and Teloans use," she said.


Silver Hawk was wary. "I'm not well trained in the use of the staff."


"You are better than you say you are, Seriana Ritani. Spar with your sister."


The two did so. The sparring continued for hours, as Mariko critiqued technique and commented on stance and composure. Pike continued to watch them.


They all knew and that bothered Samsara. If she wasn't the daughter of Ares, then how could she be bestowed with the powers that she had? Callisto had been immortal, but not a goddess, when she gave birth to Samsara and therefore had no powers to bequeath to her daughter.


She stopped in mid-swing and Seriana's staff came crashing down onto Samsara's shoulder. "Oh, dear Gods!" shouted the older. Mariko simply looked on. Ser' dropped her staff and looked at her sister in utter disbelief.




"Ach, I still need to talk to Thalia. Oh, no. Garret's going to wonder where Angus is. I've not seen him yet, and I know that's why he hasn't asked. In the name of Brighid, could things be simple just once?"


Jade, came Samsara's voice. We need to talk.


Not now, Samsara, was the Sorceress' response.


"No, NOW, Jade," the Master of War said. "You will tell me why I am a Goddess."





Meanwhile, Antigone attempted to talk to Jadea. She noted that several times, the Sorceress Empress would look away as though bothered by something unrelated to what was being said.


"I hoped that you would hear me out on this," she said as Jadea's eyes came back to her.


Angus had upset her more than she'd thought. Jadea couldn't understand how his thoughts could be so strong and clear in her mind when he was still in Celtia...or was he? That agitated her nerves, as well.


"Hear you out?" The Amazon Co-Queen returned curiously. She'd only half-heard what Antigone had to say.


"About the prisoner," Antigone scrunched her eyebrows with concern.


"What about the prisoner?" Jadea asked, her voice rising in anger.


"I think he is a danger to keep in camp," the Huntress answered, taken aback by Jadea's sudden fierceness.


But Themiscyra's Sorceress soon calmed down. "Oh, don't worry about him, my Sister. He will be dead before the next full moon." Actually, much sooner, she added to herself. "Rest assured that he will not cause you nor any one of us harm, Antigone. Now, I must go attend to something."


Jadea gave a respectful nod which Antigone immediately returned. She left, seeking peace in her own hut.


While changing her clothes, Jadea heard the somber voice of Ardra. Your sister's daughter is headed your way. 


The sorceress growled, but she thanked her guardian hawk for the heads up.


Samsara entered the hut with a clear sign of anger in her eyes. She hated being kept in the dark. What the Sorceress needed now ...was a diversion.





A diversion, though not planned, was exactly what happened. As soon as Samsara stepped into the tent, there was a loud squeal and crashing noises.

The two Amazon peeked out of the tent to see a wild boar crashing through the camp, squealing like mad. Apparently it had stumbled upon the camp from the woods, and all the people around were making it panic and it didn't know its way out.


Thalia dove to snatch one of the little girls out of harm's way just in time for the boar to pass. "Get the little ones back!" She ordered. Now, how did they get this pig out of here?


Squealing, it knocked over another table and got tangled in one of the tents. Seriana started to go for it, but it untangled itself and ran between her legs.


"Grab it!" Yelled Valkyra as it ran.


Xanthea dove and missed, landing on one of the fallen tables. "Drat!"


Thalia went for it again, managing to grab its tail but only making it more panicked. It broke free and went squealing off, crashing into more tables and belongings.


Poor Garret managed to arrive on the scene at an unfashionable time. No sooner had he stepped into the main circle when the pig crashed into his legs and sent him to the ground. Thalia giggled and helped the poor man to his feet.


No sooner had he gotten to his feet, when the boar came at him again. He moved out of the way and dove for it, missing and landing in a big pile of mud. The others giggled.


Pike was laughing when it ran under her legs causing HER to fall in the mud as well. She stood up and grabbed the laughing Xanthea, pulling her into the mud as well. What ensued was a crazy, mud-flinging wrestling fest with a wild boar running through it.


Samsara and Jadea watched in amusement. Finally there was a loud squeal and everyone looked over to see Garrett pinning the pig. "I got it!” He yelled. Dragging it off to the outside of the village, he let it free.


He came back to clapping, and bowed amidst the applause. A second later, he was hit in the stomach with a piece of mud. Another in the face. Then another and another...





Meanwhile, Samsara straightened her neck as Seriana had really knocked it out of alignment. Then, she rolled her shoulders back and looked at her Aunt.


Jadea looked across the room to her sister's daughter and internally groaned. I do not have time for this, she thought.


"You know more than what I've been told," Samsara started again. She had her hands on her hips. Her staff leaned against a table.




Before Samsara could say anymore, there was a commotion outside. The Goddess grabbed her staff as Jadea leaped from the bed. Whatever it is they heard, it was clearly bad.


They rushed outside to see a figure obviously not Amazon cowering on the ground. About fifty paces away was Valkyra, lowering her Mongolian riding bow and arrow. Her long, blonde hair was still wet from the bath in the Thermodon, her clothes clinging to her body. The Weapons Master was truly a sight to see, standing in defense of her Sisters, stone-cold look on her face, head held high.


The other Amazons nearby started to close in on the muddied individual writhing on the floor. An arrow stood from his left rear, rendering him unable to escape. Each of the women held a kind of weapon in their possession: mace, chobos, spear. Whatever they had they had trained on the person.


Valkyra meanwhile, pulled out one of her more deadly arrows and readied her bow to shoot. Thalia stepped out and stopped her, forcing her to put down her weapon before she made a grave mistake.


Jadea stepped in immediately, for she knew it wasn't Bruce cowering on the ground. "Garrett, what are you doing?"


The man explained that he was attempting to find an unoccupied hut, but he had gone the wrong direction from Bruce's holding cell. As he explained himself, Samsara knelt down and removed the arrow, healing him completely.


"Lucky she isn't how I was," Athanase remarked. "Or, she'd have slaughtered you like the dog she may make you out to be." She helped him up and patted him on the bottom. "See? All better."


Thalia playfully pushed Garrett. "You should have asked me for directions, you know."


The Sorceress took this as her opportunity. "I'm turning in now." She moved toward her hut.


"I hope you don't mind that Mariko is sleeping in your hut as well," Samsara reminded. "If not, she may stay with me." This isn't over, dear Aunt of mine. Not by a long shot...





"Not at all," Jadea replied sweetly. All that much easier to watch her like a hawk, she thought to herself, then heard a soft coughing in her head.


That would be my job, Ardra commented to her Mistress.


After silently thanking whatever powers that be for creating the perfect diversion, Jadea retreated quietly to her hut.


Jadea did not sleep well that night. Flashbacks plagued her mind's eye, and she tossed and turned throughout the night. Roughly an hour after falling asleep, Mariko snuck in silently and laid down on the makeshift pallet provided for her. She looked over at the Amazon Sorceress and began to intrude in the woman's mind.


Without warning, Jadea bolted into an upright position. She glanced to her right to the seemingly sound asleep Eastern Woman. The Amazon slipped on her boots and teleported into Samsara's hut. A heavy sigh of relief escaped her when she saw that her niece slept peacefully with Karma in a small wooden cradle beside her.


Seriana, the woman vanished and reappeared beside the young Amazon. She, too, was asleep, curled up like a kitten.


Jadea smiled. Her family was safe, and there was no need to worry. But the Sorceress Empress worried all right. Samsara would demand to know the name of her father soon enough. And she'd also want to know all details surrounding how she came to be born.


Now just isn't the time, though. Zeus and the other gods are plotting some way to retrieve Rhea's Ruby and get Samsara. They'll be putting their plans into motion soon.


She thought of her sister and how Callisto had spent a lifetime seeking revenge for the loss of her family. What had unknowingly driven her was that guilt she carried; the guilt of having been unable to protect her mother and sister. Callisto hated that nearly as much as she hated Xena. True, the Warrior Princess had taken her family and childhood from her, but she hadn't even been able to fight back. And that is what motivated her into becoming the formidable warrior she became.


In the recesses of Jadea's mind, she heard someone faintly call out to her. A low snarl was uttered. Seriana flinched a bit but did not wake up.


Appearing with her cape cascading from her body, Jadea cleared her throat. Bruce looked up, blinking as he did so, and saw who stood before him. Two torches on opposite walls provided the only light.


"Can ya not sleep, either?" He queried softly. The Celt's eyes fell gently upon the woman, despite the harsh conditions she held him in.


Jadea stared at him hard. She couldn't allow him to stay in Themiscyra much longer. His presence was affecting her too greatly. "Before I took you from Eire, you gave an order to your men that if faced with fighting Amazons they were not to kill them. Why?"


His eyebrows lifted as surprise filled his blue eyes. Bruce couldn't believe she knew about that. "I..." He stammered and shook his head.


"Yes, I know. Now tell me why," she pressed him for the reason and stepped closer to him until she was within arm's reach. The prisoner could practically feel the heat emanating from her.


Closing his eyes, the Celt surrendered to her question. His eyes opened as he looked up to her once more. "After you spared my life, I resolved I'd never again take another woman's life. To this day, I have not."


Jadea studied his eyes, his bearing, and all the aspects she knew to read. He wasn't lying to her, and she almost wished he was.


Just then, the Sorceress Empress became aware that someone was looking for her. Across the camp, she heard an Amazon ask about her. Leaving without a word, Jadea appeared behind Samsara.


"Looking for me?" She asked and nearly caused the Goddess to jump to the moon.


Samsara's hair whipped around as she turned with a bewildered expression. "How did you . . . forget it. I want to talk to you. Now!"


With a sort of slanted look, Jadea retorted, "Then you'll have to walk."


She stepped away from her niece and in the direction of her own hut. As she passed by, she saw Pike standing outside. The Amazon gave a smile and respectful nod which the Jadea returned to her. She then lead her niece into the forest, noting that Ardra traveled discreetly among the trees.


"Jade, why won't you tell me-"


But the Sorceress cut in. "You want to know what I'm hiding and why," her voice was low and almost timid.


The Goddess sighed but nodded once. "Yes."


Several moments passed before her Aunt would speak. She knew that somewhere nearby one of her Sisters was watching. "Your mother was immortal when she had you. She could not be killed. She had no need of food or water. She could not even the feel the elements of Nature."


The Queen paused, painfully reminded of missing Callisto. It was something she didn't like to admit to herself, and had never admitted to another being, save Rumyna.  "Anything short of slicing off her limbs, Callisto feared nothing. And then she had you. To your mother, it was like losing our mother all over again."


"Like losing you," Samsara added gently, and the Amazon nodded.


"She no longer had her own pain to focus on. Callisto didn't want you to suffer the way that she had. And if she'd known about me, she'd not have wanted you to feel the pain I endured either."


Jadea's voice became slowly stronger as she continued, but her spirit degenerated. "At the time your mother had you, she was worse than ever before. Her demons were larger, darker, and tormented her frequently. Her obsession with vengeance and Xena increased, but her hopes for success became grim. One night, she camped out under the stars. For the first time since she became an immortal, Callisto fell asleep. When she awoke, Ares was there."


The Amazon Sorceress stopped and turned from her niece, heading back the way she'd come. Samsara followed closely, though what she heard was impacting her immensely. Little of what Jadea said made any sense to her. "And...?" The Goddess urged when her Aunt would say nothing more.


"And...she had you. Samsara, you are here and you are alive. That is what matters, now. You've a babe to raise and protect. This path that Mariko has you on...will destroy Karma if you continue on it. Now please...I must take care of something."


And with that, Jadea disappeared to lure out her Sister. As she left, Samsara stood with a stunned look and mulled over what she'd been told. The Goddess was too suspicious to believe Jadea had told her everything. But it was a start.


"Thalia, you're far too superior a scout to reveal yourself so easily. Why don't you come out here now?"


The Amazon flipped down off a branch and met with a disapproving look.


"Shouldn't you be in bed?" The Sorceress asked.


The young warrior chuckled. "I slept earlier. Can I talk to you about something?" Her voice lifted with hope. Jadea nodded.


"But of course, my Sister. And pray tell, what do you wish to talk about?" Jadea's voice lightened when she cracked a smile. Indeed, her Sisters still retained some innocence that she could not help but love.


The biomorph sighed mildly, responding with a single word. "Garrett."


As Jadea walked on with the Head Scout by her side, she wondered to herself if any of her Sisters ever slept when they were supposed to. Perhaps the night has stirred some of them, she thought and attentively listened while Thalia spoke about Garrett.


In her subconscious, Jadea was reminded that she must speak to the man about Angus.


Morning greeted Themiscyra with a bright warm light and found Thalia seated with Jadea...still talking about men.


Family Quarrels



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