What Starts A War



Tribal sounds of three tribes filled the air as the Rite of Battle was performed. It was a time of feasting, celebration of life, and departure to death, for many sisters would fall in this war.

The trills of the music and the sounds of staves beating on the ground were testament to the brave souls that would sacrifice their lives, not just for their Tribes, but for the Amazon Nation. The descendents of the Tetomlec Women, the daughters of war, the daughters of Harmony and Ares, and the symbolic children of Artemis. Heiresses, Commanders, Generals, Queens, and Rulers. All women. All having the burden of the doubt of Grecians who refused to believe, all having the stigma of being "man-haters," hunted from their moment of birth through First Blood, Last Blood, until Rite of Passage when they meet the Lady of the Dead.

Samsara and Mariko returned to the main area to see the Thermodonians and their Thermodon Queen finish their dance. Their moves were wild and reckless as their ceremony demands, but the entire coordination was organized.

Serena approached the two. "Samsara," she said, head high. "You must dance with your Tribe."

It took a moment to register, but the Goddess knew what Serena meant. And this was the problem she would have to resolve sooner or later. Was she Teloan or Themiscyran?

Inevitably Gabrielle would leave with her companion. Gabrielle was merely the symbolic Military Queen to her. Samsara was the true Queen Empress, the one to lead the Teloans, for it was because of her ascension, on the back of Ephiny II's death, that the Tribes were consolidating. Athanase was well inclined to believe this. She held Velasca's belief that Gabrielle would not be the one to lead the Amazons to their rightful place as fierce warrior women.

Athanase Achala Kakistos let down her black hair, gripped her staff, and walked to the center of the camp as Queen Marcella and her Thermodonians dispersed. Marcella nodded in respect for the twenty-something, but young, Amazon Queen and gripped her forearm. Samsara nodded. She knew who Marcella recognized as Ruler of Teloq, and it wasn't the Battling Bard of Potidaea.

Her Tribe gathered behind her. Medea looked on, wondering what the implication of this was. Who did Samsara owe allegiance to? Seriana joined them upon her sister's request, leaving Karma in Mariko's arms. The infant smiled up at the Eastern Woman, knowing that her intentions were good, despite how she rubbed Jadea the wrong way.

The Teloan dance looked more organized, although the Thermodonians were seasoned warriors. The Teloans beat their spears and staves, causing the dusty ground to rumble. Their melody filled the air.

Meanwhile, Samsara sent a message to Jadea. We have to keep within our territory. I think I know of a way to defeat them without leaving.

Jadea quirked an eyebrow at that. She was afraid of having to leave the grounds to fend off Caesar and she felt it perhaps the best of ideas, rather than have him enter camp and force their move.

As they continued dancing, the wolf howled with the women, matching their strength in volume and melting into their song as if he were born for it. The sounds carried far from the camp.

Zia listened from her cell. Jadea was had put a force field around the jail to keep her from even considering an escape attempt. She was saddened that she would miss this ritual.

Far away, Celosia did a similar dance, hearing the chants of her sisters. Ean watched her, having seen his sister do similarly in times of war. He admired the woman who allowed him to travel with her. He observed her liquid moves, her fluid transition from standing to crouching, her graceful arm movements, and smooth, rich voice with awe.

She ended with a prayer to Artemis, that her sisters live, that she return to her Themiscyrans in one piece.

Back at camp, the Themiscyrans conducted their Rite of Battle. Samsara joined in, as did Seriana. Soon, all three Tribes were dancing in unison, shooting and whooping together, beating their weapons on the ground. The Elders watched as did Mariko and Karma. The Eastern Woman pushed back wisps of the baby's hair and spoke to her.

"This is the Tribe you will lead, young one," she said. "And you will be a wise leader, because you will learn from your mother."


As fate deemed the Highland Amazons would approach the gates of Themiscyra just before the Siberian Tribe. When the Head Scout spotted them, she flew back to Queen Medea to relay the news.

"Good," the Amazon Queen smiled, exuberantly happy that she'd get to see the Highlanders again. As different from them as the Celtic tribe was, Medea held better relations with the Highlanders than the Teloans.

It wasn't long before the Queen Regent had her hand clasped with Dolphinea's. Both women had changed somewhat in each other's eyes. The two had risen into positions of power rather suddenly and it had given them both a more regal bearing.

"Ach, 'tis a blessin' tah see ya again, Queen Medea!" Dolphinea expressed with light in her eyes. Despite her outward composure, Themiscyra's Queen detected her Sister's deep concern.

"Same here, my Sister!" Medea returned as their grasp slid back. She made an effort to cover her own grief. "I'm sorry Jade couldn't be here to greet you. She's-"

"Off someplace plottin' a contingency plan or escape route?" The Highlander cut in, nodding with a gentle, understanding smile. "Believe me, I know how she gets in times like these."

Queen Medea nodded and returned the smile. Mentally, she cursed herself and her co-ruler. The woman didn't feel overly confident about any of this. But as Queen, it was Medea's responsibility to keep her Amazons spirited. Demoralized troops were nothing but sheep to the slaughter. "Well, come on! We have to debrief you, and the others are waiting."


Elsewhere in Themiscyra...

Jadea balanced herself on a high limb of a tall oak and gazed into the far distance. Her crystal pendant shined as Apollo's beams reflected brilliantly. From a span away, two Northern scouts caught sight of the glint and instantly told their Queen.

Upon her horse, she smiled. "I've been told she always knew when to keep a candle in the window," the woman turned her head. "Pick up the pace, Sisters! We'll be there before sunset!"

The Sorceress Empress soon saw a bright flash of light in the distance. She faintly smiled and sighed. After a moment, the woman jumped down with a single spin and landed upon her feet.

We're going to need more plates, a voice observed humorously in her head. Exhausted but with her mission completed, Ardra flew threw the trees to land on Jadea's outstretched arm.

"I believe we are. How did it go?" She asked, aware of Angus' potential to cause mischief and trouble.

Clear and ready, Jade, Ardra answered.


Hours later, the Amazon tribes were reunited. Not a single tribe had failed to send their warriors; and each tribe had arranged for the security of their lands. When all discussions and strategies had been made and approved, a great feat given the number of Amazon Queens present, the warrior women prepared for their defense.

The Queens stood together in a circle and chanted in ancient tongues seldom, but still used. Afterward came a mixture of war songs and spirit speeches and the Amazons broke off into large groups. An Amazon could wander from group to group without taking more than a few steps and be inspired all over again.

It was during this time that Queen Jadea and Queen Regent Medea made a personal visit to their only prisoner. Since Celosia's sister was not one for sentimental talk, Jadea spoke first. "Zia, I have discussed the matter with Queen Medea and we both feel that you are wanted and needed here," her voice was clear as she gazed into Zia's eyes.

Medea stepped around her Sister. "Yes, but you are not to take on the Roman Empire alone. Is that understood?"

The young Roman Amazon looked from Queen to Queen and nodded. "I understand, my Queens."

Unintentionally but simultaneously, both women replied "Good." Medea and her Co-Queen exchanged a look, both feeling awkward at the coincidence but neither responding to the effect.

"Then, you are hereby released from custody," Jadea finished, letting the Amazon pass by her to exit the prison.

Zia stopped just long enough to add, "Thank you."

The Queen Regent looked at her Sister with reservation. "Have we done the right thing?" Where her voice was steady, her eyes wavered.

Jadea sighed softly and looked away for a few moments. She glanced back and drew a breath. "I've spent time in Gaul before. While I was there, I learned a new phrase that I think is perfect for the occasion," she paused while Medea gave her another of her varying looks.

"And what's that?" The woman asked, her head cocked a little.

" 'All for one, and one for all.' " She smiled and turned.

As both women walked out of the jailhouse, Jadea heard her Sister say softly, "Huh?"  The Sorceress Empress smiled, knowing her co-Queen was now deep in thought.

Thinking was something that Medea found herself doing a lot lately. She couldn't remember thinking so much in her life. Had she known that being Queen would require the Queen to think long and hard on things, she might not have wanted the position so badly.


The Roman Amazons entered Greece like Hades riding in his chariot out of the Underworld. They would halt soon, turn around, and create a human wall along Greece's borders. In unspoken words, the Amazons of Rome declared their allegiance to their Sisterhood and the Amazon Nation. Although some Roman legions were already grounded in Greece, the Roman Amazon tribe would make it a hefty feat to send reinforcements or supplies.

The leader of the Roman warrior women went by two names. Laena Cottaus. She was fierce, wealthy, wise, and adaptive. Her age was guessed to be in the late twenties, although none of her Sisters knew for certain how many years she'd breathed. 

When word reached the Sorceress Empress of the Roman Amazons border encampment she said, "So her premonition was true after all." Because she'd allowed the words to slip in front of both nieces, Jadea was forced to tell more than she'd wished.

"Which premonition? What is going on?" Samsara asked fervently. Seriana stood beside her with the same curious look.

"Red Claw is in Greece. She's brought a phalanx of warriors with her." Jadea bit her tongue so as not to reveal the whole truth. So far, she'd not lied to her nieces about anything . . . except about the deaths of two people - one a Celt, the other her sister.

"What?" Athanase gasped, handing Karma to Seriana as she stood up. "I only saw her with you. She didn't have men in my premonition."

"She doesn't have men," Jadea corrected, inadvertently leading her nieces straight into a paralyzing truth.

"She doesn't have men?" The Teloan goddess repeated, her tone rising with every word. The Amazon looked thoughtful for a second before her eyes conveyed clearly her revelation. "She has Amazons in her command?"

While the Goddess stared at her aunt through wide, disbelieving eyes, Seriana took the initiative. "How is that possible? Unless she's-"

"Amazon," Athanase finished in a calmer tone than the composure she held. "Is she, Jade?"

The Cirran looked from her elder niece, Seri, to the younger, Sami, and nodded.

Jadea noticed the familiar expression on Samsara's face. She shook her head and firmly stated, "I will handle this, Samsara. You have a daughter to raise and a people to lead. I convinced Medea to follow your plan. Don't make me regret my choice." She gave her niece a final look of warning and began to walk away.

Samsara gave her sister a glance; and Seri immediately nodded. The Teloan Goddess ran after the Sorceress and blocked her path. "No! Please...let me help you," she sounded desperate, as though she feared for Jadea's life, and consequently her own.

"The best way you can help me is to keep your focus," she told her, again stepping away. Only, this time she stopped herself and looked back. "And if you happen to have any more premonitions about Red Claw, please tell me. I don't know who she's fighting for yet."

This would not be the last exchange the Sisters had before the action began.


The Amazon warriors were spending more and more of their time training for battle. The usual chores in the village were often put aside so here would be more time for fighting practice. Valkyra, the Weapons Mistress, wandered through the training grounds observing the fighting styles of all the different tribes. When she came upon the archery range, she noticed that the straw targets for practice resembled Roman soldiers.

Valkyra was quite pleased that the number of arrows striking the targets’ hearts were increasing. “However,” she told the archers. “The Romans usually wear breastplates of metal. This helps to protect their chests from harm. I will also be pleased if you can hit a soldier’s uncovered leg or arm as well. True, you will only wound him, but it may be enough to stop him or to make him vulnerable for someone else to kill him with a sword.”

She continued to teach, “I observed how Roman infantry fight. They fight as a team; they try to stay close together. The soldiers will even overlap their shields to form a moving wall that makes it very difficult for their enemy to get at them.” Valkyra took her bow and demonstrated what she said next. “The Roman centurions will often order their archers, who usually stay behind the heavy infantry, to ‘clout’ shoot at their opponents.” She then shot an arrow up into the air at an angle so that it came down hitting a straw target in the neck. “These archers provide the infantry with a covering fire. So, keep your shields ready to protect yourself against falling arrows. We can use a similar tactic to break their ranks or at least to thin their front line a bit.” She raised her shield as if to stop falling arrows. “When the Romans raise their shields like this to protect themselves from our falling arrows, the rest of our archers can shoot straight at their unguarded torsos.”

Valkyra then moved on to the women fighting with swords and other weapons. She occasionally stopped to show someone the proper technique. Soon all the warriors were really showing their developed skills in quite an aggressive manner. Valkyra knew that she could tell the Queens that all her warrior sisters were ready as well as they could be for war.


Hippoppih observed Valkyra as she helped the different Amazons with their techniques. She was intrigued by the woman and she felt her twin sister, Hippe, could learn much from the Warrior Woman of the Caucasus mountains. Hippe agreed and she walked with the lithe blonde.

The Imperial Guard, meanwhile, wasn't sure whether to talk to her Queen Empress or not. She was the one who provided the goat's milk that poisoned the infant Princess.

She spotted the Empress as she went to the training grounds. Samsara stopped, knowing that she wanted to speak with her. She wasn't sure how to regard the Imperial Guard. She knew that Hippoppih pledged no allegiance to Athena whatsoever. She smiled as one of Serena's elite Imperial Guard approached her.

Hippoppih bowed her head in regard. "Queen Empress," she began.

Samsara stopped her from saying anymore. "You had no idea. Say no more." She threw her staff down, drawing her sword. "Spar."

Meanwhile, Halcyon and Antigone were speaking in the stables as they prepped the horses. Halcyon of the Thermodonians was in awe of Antigone and vice-versa. The two spoke of hunting techniques and of being part of the Falcon house of skilled hunters. They moved from horse to horse until they reached the royal stables.

For security reasons, and not because Samsara bid them to be so, Prince was corralled in that stable. Two Amazon Guards crossed their spears before them, then allowed the two to pass. Inside were Xena and Gabrielle, grooming Argo.

The pairs smiled at the other. There was the unspoken bond that was Amazon, even if Xena wasn't born of or inducted into a Tribe. Despite her past transgressions, having killed the former Siberian Tribe for Alti included, the Themiscyran and the Thermodonian admired her for her efforts.

After a while, Xena and Gabrielle left. Halcyon and Antigone groomed more horses and talked shop. Both reached the Pegasus and smiled upon the creature in fascination. Prince snorted and bobbed his head, accepting both women's presence.

But things weren't fun and games for long, for in Samsara's hut appeared Discord and she brandished a vial of poison.

"Let's try this again," she whispered.



The taste of freedom was so sweet. She was finally able to get out of that jailhouse. She was so happy that she decided to ride off with her horse Midnight around the Amazon village.

Some Amazons were all right with Zia’s freedom and smiled as she passed. Others thought her release was a huge mistake and frowned. The Gate Guards had no orders to keep her in the village and let her pass when she rode up.

Zia rode off into the surrounding forest, enjoying the quiet freedom of a ride with her horse. After a while, she found a lovely little clearing and dismounted, letting her horse free to graze the tender grass. She relaxed against the grass, staring up into the heavens.
She had never felt so....alive. Then she remembered the sweet taste of Octavius's lips against hers. She yearned for that so much.

From the surrounding forest she heard a horse approach and sitting up, saw that Thalia had found her. The Scout followed her example and let her horse graze while she sat down next to Zia. The two began aimlessly talking and Zia turned the discussion to the last time she’d seen Octavius.

"You must really love that boy Zia," Thalia said.

"Yes I do. I am just afraid for his safety. Caesar has discovered how Octavius feels about me and that puts him in great danger. But no matter what happens Thalia, I want Octavius as Emperor of Rome so Pax Romana can finally be realized. Then we will go our separate ways to our own destinies. His to be Emperor and mine to be an Amazon," Zia said.

Both young girls decided to return to the village and remounted their horses, who were now well-fed and refreshed. It didn't take long to return to the stables, unsaddle the animals and settle them. They were on their way to the Mess Hut, enjoying the cool breeze, when they heard strange noises coming their way.


The noises Zia and Thalia heard came from the training grounds. A loud shriek pierced the air followed by many feminine shouts. Both Amazons rushed toward the sounds, terror and wonder in their eyes.

When they arrived, the pair saw Valkyra kneeling down beside a wounded Teloan who'd fallen in practice. The Weapons Master had already sent for Xanthea who arrived just behind Zia and Thalia. With the help of three Amazons, one who walked in front of the injured woman to clear her path, the healer brought the middle-aged Teloan Amazon safely to the Med Hut for treatment.

The gathered Amazons watched for a few seconds, but most soon returned to their training. An injured Sister was nothing new. And although her pain was felt among her kind, they knew they couldn't allow their sympathy to hinder their focus or else more and more wounded would follow.

The young Amazon looked up the Head Scout, concern in her eyes. "I hope she's all right."

Thalia gazed off in the direction they'd gone but looked back and smiled. "She'll be fine. I think the fall startled her. Besides, the Teloans are a tough breed."

A couple of nearby Teloans overhead Thalia's remark. They smiled and continued with their routines.


Meanwhile, Athena had granted Discord one last shot at Karma. In Samsara's hut, the little girl slept soundly after having consumed a poison less meal.


Thalia and Zia entered the training grounds, each grabbing a bow and quiver on the way. Thalia had no preference whether it was a bow and arrow or crossbow since she was adept at either. She practiced often knowing that if she wasn't there to cover her sisters at the start of battle, it could mean the loss of many of her sisters. She pushed herself to the limit when it came to training so that she could protect her tribe.

She played with the bow in her fingers for a moment before quickly stringing and arrow and letting it fly into the center of the bull’s-eye. She let a few more arrows go, slicing into the center of one another, before setting it aside. While she was excellent at archery, her sword and staff skills could use some work.

"Here," she tossed Zia a staff. "Join me in the training circle?"

"You bet!" Zia smiled, catching it.

Seriana tossed Thalia a staff of her own as she entered the circle. "Thanks, Ser!" She caught it, twirling it around. "Let's go!"

Zia swung in, Thalia ducked to the side to avoid it and swept out for Zia's feet. Zia jumped, bringing the staff down just as Thalia threw hers up and blocked it. Zia whirled around, knocking Thalia's knees out.

"Very good," Thalia smiled. "You got the first hit."

Zia held out her hand to help the Head Scout up. The two got back into fighting position and resumed. Thalia swung and Zia blocked, but it was a faked maneuver and Thalia brought the other end of the staff around to catch Zia in the side, bringing her to the ground. She dusted herself off, and Thalia held her up. "We're even."

The two continued sparring, each losing ground, then gaining it back. Sweat beaded on their brows, furrowed in concentration as the staffs whirled so quickly they could barely be seen. As they fought, a figure approached the circle.



It had been some time since Medea had really laid into Thalia. The Head Scout could easily note the Queen's intent to change that.

Medea watched for another minute before approaching. Both Amazon warriors paused to give the Queen Regent recognition. Medea nodded at the young Zia with a brief smile. She held up her hand to signal that they not continue.

"You've gotten a little better, Thal," Medea observed acridly, though she meant it somewhat.

The Scout had tried desperately to stay out of Medea's firing range and she'd been moderately successful. She'd been aided by the efforts of acting Queen Jadea, but now without her around Thalia was fair game for the headstrong Themiscyran Queen.

The Head Scout nodded mildly. "Thank you, Queen Medea," she said politely.

Too politely, the Queen thought. Medea felt the need to fight with someone. She had too much restless energy and frustration pent up. The Romans weren't coming fast enough, and the woman needed some way to release the steam heating up inside her.

"Let's see if your moves would stand up against a real opponent," Medea firmly suggested. With a single nod to nearby Amazon, the Queen was thrown a staff which she caught above her head and brought down with sweeping motion from right to left.

Thalia was hesitant about this. Her Queen's eyes told the Scout that the fight was for real. While a part of the young warrior would have liked nothing more than to settle her differences with Medea in an all-out fight, her heart just wasn't in it. She glanced around twice to see if the Sorceress Empress might be watching. But there was nothing.


"You take my kid...I take yours," Discord seethed as she neared Karma.

Seriana was on the training grounds. Samsara had returned from a conversation with Mariko in time to feed her daughter, after which Karma fell sound asleep. The Goddess had stepped out only to see her aunt for a moment and Discord had pounced on the opportunity. She didn't count on one thing, though...

"Hello Discord!" Aphrodite said. She was Discord's immortal/goddess enemy.

Samsara entered her hut in time to hear the Goddess of Love question the Goddess of Mayhem about her actions. A spectacular predicament to say the least.


Elsewhere in Greece...

"Did you send my message?" A tall woman stood with her back turned to warrior she spoke to.

"Yes, Red Claw. The Sorceress Empress knows you are in Greece," the woman stared at her Commander's back, startled when her leader suddenly turned around.

"Good. I think our reunion 'tis long overdue. Ready my horse!" She ordered sternly.


In another part of Greece and at the same time...

Two divisions of Romans marched on Teloq where they met with a blockade courtesy of the Warrior Princess.

Xena and Gabrielle had paid Teloq a visit before heading for Themiscyra. They'd spoken to Serena the Elder and reached an agreement. The blockade would force the Romans to take a three day detour around the village. The detour would lead the two divisions toward the Cirra Valley.

Jadea was aware of this, although she'd kept it from the man commanding her troops until just that morning. By telling the Celt that he was to act as reinforcements insured that he wouldn't lead the warriors into Themiscyra. He'd made a similar move in battle years before, which ended up being a costly blunder.


"You're worried, aren't ya?" Dolphinea broke in on her Sister's privacy.

Jadea looked up quietly and nodded. "Aye."

With a curious, lilting tone the Highland Queen asked her why. "Ya've been here before, my Empress. This is nothin' ya've not faced in the past," The Amazon observed in her best effort to help her Sister. Her words had the opposite effect.

"Isn't it, though?" She asked and shook her head while glancing off. "Name me once when the Amazon Nation was at stake," Jadea said as she gazed back at Dolphinea. The Sorceress then sighed. "No...no we've not been here before. I've not."

Silence fell between the two Queens. At last, Dolphinea commented rather thoughtfully, "And what of the Tyra Rebellion?" The Highlander said nothing further, remaining only a few moments longer before quietly walking away to give Jadea her peace.

The Sorceress Empress thought at length about her fellow Queen's observation. When she could think no more, she left the sanctity of her hut to seek out her nieces. This would prove to be more difficult than she could've imagined. Seriana, she learned by word of mouth, was demonstrating her signature flip - a combination of several moves that she and Sami had collaborated in creating - to a group of Amazons of varying tribes.

Callisto's one and only child, Samsara, was not so easily found. Jadea had suspected that where Seriana could be found, Samsara could be found. While this theory held true most of the time it was not true this time.

She tried the stables, thinking that Samsara would spend time with Prince before all Hades cut loose on the Amazon world. The Co-Queen came to find her niece had been there earlier, but had left. That's when Jadea gave up and went to the most obvious place; the Teloan's own hut. Samsara and Jadea's huts had both been set up for Karma's needs, but Jadea had just come from her own and knew it wasn't the place to find her niece.

When she finally approached Samsara's hut's entrance, sparks flew.



"...And as a mother, she'll be more dangerous than ever..." -Athena, Motherhood

It was perhaps the first time that Samsara had gotten this angry since Ishtar had given her Karma. "What... in... the... HADES are you trying to do?" the Goddess screamed, fireball in hand.

Aphrodite had her hands on her hips. She wasn't exactly happy that one of the babies she blessed was one of Discord's targets.

"Oh, what do you think I'm doing, mongrel?" Discord demanded, vial of poison in her hand. "I'm doing away with your brat of a child because you and Jadea had a hand in neutralizing mine!"

The fireball in Samsara's hand only intensified. "Never mind that she is a psycho maniac who prided herself on hurting my Sisters! Why don't you put the vial down, Discord, before I end your life right here."

Jade entered, hearing the all-familiar voice of Samsara's anger. She knew something was up. Her eyes became slits when she came upon the situation.

"You," Discord hissed.

Before Samsara could make a nasty remark, she heard the neighing of her horse and her body stiffened. She knew Prince's call well and this sound did not warn of danger, but was one of abject pain and suffering. She looked to her aunt and to Aphrodite, then immediately vanished out of her hut to reappear in the stables. She knew that the Sorceress Empress and the Goddess of Love would take care of the Discord situation.

Once she reached the royal stables, she encountered a sickening sight: Prince was on the ground, writhing in pain, blood gushing from his forehead as he neighed in agony. Samsara's eyes and mouth opened wide. She looked up to find Deimos, holding the Rhea Ruby in his hands.

Never had such fury burst from the young Goddess. Never had the Amazon felt so violated and so enraged that she could not control her actions.

One swift movement was all she needed to pull out her long dagger, stain the edge with hind's blood from her pendant and end Deimos' life. She ran to him and stabbed him directly in the heart, and he crumpled onto the floor.

Mariko rushed in and skidded in the blood to kneel at the horse's head. Samsara turned, eyes full of tears, unable to speak or to move.

The Eastern Woman saw this as her opportunity to make the Teloan see that she had to make a choice. She knew the horse could be saved, but she needed Samsara's focus. "You must choose, Goddess. Your steed may not live. You are inheritress of the Pantheon. Do what you must."

Samsara gripped the Ruby and slipped it into her pouch. She sent a message to her aunt. I have a score to settle on Olympus.

Meanwhile, Jadea hadn't the time to deal with her niece's vengeful nature. She had bigger fish to fry. Discord stood poised to poison the eight month old child.


Jadea and Discord stood across from one another, neither twitching, both watching for the other to make the first move. Karma fussed impatiently between them, feeling the magic building in the room.

A clatter from one end of the room caused both of the women to break eye contact and turn their heads. Samsara's water jug, standing inside the door, had fallen over after being hit with a rock.

Seriana had thrown the rock. In the moment of distraction, she darted in, grabbed Karma rather violently, it couldn't be helped, and sprinted out the door as fast as she could go, ducking the power bolt Discord flung after her.

Deinus was grazing at the edge of the village. He reared in alarm as his mistress landed on his back and pulled violently on his mane with her free hand to keep balance. Seri's skill as a rider, even on this horse which was so undeniably hers and no one else's, barely kept her and her niece on the broad black shoulders. Crushing Karma with one arm and clutching Deinus' mane with the other, she drove her heels deep into his flanks.

He lunged forward like a stone in a catapult, took three long strides, and jumped the pasture fence.

Discord knew Seriana well, as a thoughtful and steady girl that never did anything spontaneously, and for that reason she was totally unprepared for the instantaneous attack and flight of her niece. By the time she got reoriented, Xena was sprinting to the stable to help Prince, Jadea was working her spells, Medea was bellowing like a wounded tiger to get things under control, and Seriana and Karma and Deinus were in the shadow-filled woods. The Themiscyran woods had been chosen to house Themiscyra because they were so impossible to navigate, and no non-Amazon could find an Amazon in them. There was no safer hiding place.

Karma was safe, for the time being. The rest of them were another story.


Mariko stood as soon as the Warrior Princess bolted into the stables. "Warrior Princess," she said, giving her a set of dampened herbs. "He will survive, but he must be cared for tenderly."

"I know," she responded, kneeling down to her enemy's horse. The poor animal was braying now, his pain apparent to all in the room. The other horses were neighing in empathy, frazzled by the attack that Deimos launched. He meanwhile, lay dead on the ground.

The Eastern Woman looked at Xena and continued. "I knew Lao Ma. You have her knowledge. Use it." Mariko did know Lao Ma. Before the Green Dragon killed his mother, Mariko visited with her and both exchanged knowledge. Mariko knew that Lao Ma was a wise woman, and she knew how to run the affairs of her House.

She raised her hands and went to Olympus. Mariko saw the power of the one-god, and although she wanted the fall of the Pantheon, she fought a battle inside her. Should she save the Gods and broker peace, or allow them to suffer and die at the hands of the Great Destroyer?


"Gabrielle, go check on Jadea," Xena instructed with her eyes on Prince. When the blonde bard gave her companion a look of utmost concern, Xena added "I'll be all right here. Go."

Gabrielle nodded and ran out of the stables. She heard thunder booming overhead and knew the sound to be unnatural. When she reached Samsara's hut, the Sorceress Empress walked out and gazed at her before moving past.

"Medea!" The Co-Queen shouted as Amazons hurried out of her way. The woman's crystal pendant had filled with a crimson liquid color. She scoured the camp for the Queen Regent, finding her at a far corner encircled with fellow Amazon Queens.

"Medea!" The Sorceress shouted fiercely and heads turned to her. Celosia's sister stepped through the others and walked toward her co-ruler.

"What happened? What the HADES happened?" Medea questioned, unaware of the change in her Sister.

Jadea answered her with a single word: "War."

She'd sent Discord back to Olympus, but only after stripping the Goddess of Mayhem of her powers. Immortality, Discord still had, but that was all. Jadea's ability to remove an Olympian's powers came with a great price . . . a price that only increased each time she used the power.

It wasn't long before word came in that Roman troops were marching their way. Dachus, the great commander of Samsara's army, was already in place. Angus, the ally the Amazons' perhaps trusted the least, held his position and awaited the two Roman divisions on their way from Teloq.

The Amazon Queens of three tribes deployed their cavalry. Two flanks of archers also accompanied the first wave to be sent. Themiscyra's two Queens proceeded to aid the tribes' efforts, all the while restricting Themiscyrans to remain inside Themiscyra. This would change, however, once the battle provided the tribe to acquire more territory - an appealing thought that soon came to pass when Teloans pushed back the first Romans a mile from Themiscyra's border.

Several times, Amazons heard the bird calls of their Queens. The archers moved further from Themiscyra, following the cavalry. At last, they let a stream of arrows shoot high into the air. The wave was shot so that the arrows missed the line of Amazons on horseback, and landed just inside the Roman lines. Their commander, a young and exuberant man who'd been launched on this, his first campaign, called for a retreat. The Romans turned back only to be surprised by five hundred angry warriors and one very loyal leader - Dachus.


When Samsara arrived on Olympus, not a god nor goddess was unaware. She blasted through the walls with large shots of energy. The woman set ablaze a number of statues depicting the hierarchy of the Olympian order. The Great Destroyer took her time in reaching the Main Hall, where a rather upset Zeus and anxious Hera sat on their thrones.

"Fee fie fo fum. I smell toast. You are gods are done!" The Goddess beamed with a deadly smile and threw two fireballs aimed at Zeus and Hera. Athena had yet to show herself. She knew Samsara was on Olympus. This allowed her the chance to take command of her army. Athena launched a full-scale assault the moment the Teloan Goddess had left Themiscyra. The Goddess' tactic would have gone down in legend had it not been for a single element - the Amazons' readiness.

The second Dachus' men realized warriors loyal to Athena had arrived, they pulled back swiftly. The Amazon cavalry and archery flanks provided the men cover off the battlefield. Amazons fell as the Romans desperately tried to take down as many as they could.
Marcella left Themiscyra with reinforcements, arriving with impeccable time and brought Dachus' men safely into new Themiscyran territory. There, the men regrouped. Those wounded and unable to fight were separated from the wounded who were able to fight.

As a result of this devious, albeit genius, maneuvering was a fight between Athena's legions and Rome's. Athena wasn't present to correct the situation. When the sparks were no more, over half of her personal army littered the lands. Infuriated, she teleported onto the battlefield. The longer she gazed around at her slain soldiers, the angrier she became. The Goddess then attempted to teleport herself into Themiscyra with the intention of wiping the Amazons out herself. When she found she was unable to bring herself into Themiscyra, the Goddess drew her sword and began to fell Amazon after Amazon.

"Queen Medea!" An exhausted Pike ran up to her queen. "Ath- Athena's killing us!" She informed while regaining her breath.

By this time, Jadea was already gone. Medea knew this when she couldn't find the Sorceress with one glance. She looked at the warrior before her who was obviously ignoring the pain and focused on her desire to fight back.

"All right. Pull in our border guards! Tell Valkyra to lead her company through the gates!" Medea nodded to give Pike her reassurance. "Antigone!" The Queen looked around, unable to find her Huntress. "Somebody find Antigone and get her here!"

The tall spike-haired Themiscyran was right to pull back her Amazons from the boundaries. A few minutes after her order, Jadea would use the Majie medallions to send out a pulse. The power of this killed Athena's remaining soldiers and the Goddess knew it the moment it happened. Each attack she made at the Amazons cost her. Without a word, Athena returned back to Olympus.

Her timing could not have been worse. Karma's angry, vengeful mother waited in the Main Hall for the Goddess of Wisdom to appear. The Amazon drew her dagger, pre-stained with hind's blood as she'd been anticipating Athena's arrival, and prepared to throw it. Just as she started to pull her arm back, Samsara Athanase vanished against her will. She reappeared, dagger still in hand, in Themiscyra's village.

As if on cue, Xena walked out of the stables and lead Prince by his reins. He looked as healthy as ever, if you overlooked the fact that the magnificent creature lacked wings again. Before all else, Samsara saw the Warrior Princess with Prince. The sight of her horse trotting behind Xena, as if nothing had happened to him, neutralized her anger at being robbed of her revenge.

"Prince!" She ran up the horse who whinnied and settled when she began to stroke him. Xena smiled faintly. She'd never thought that she would ever have common ground with the Warrior Princess.

Samsara thanked Xena while asking just how the woman had healed him. Not long after the reunion with Prince, the Sorceress Empress made her entrance.

Jadea didn't look at her niece, she simply gazed at the raven-haired Warrior Princess. "Xena, Seriana is asking for you. She's with Karma. Sayde will take you to them."

Xena gave the Sorceress a strange look but nodded and left. It was Samsara's turn to avoid eye contact. She gazed quietly at Prince and continued to rub his neck lovingly with an occasional pat or two. Her incessant petting seemed to convince her that Prince was truly alive.

The Sorceress Empress kept her eyes on Samsara, her stare boring straight through the Amazon. "You went too far," Jadea said a moment later.

"I know," Athanase replied softly. She still would not look into Jadea's eyes.

"Do you? Do you realize the burden you've placed on me? Do you realize you've done?" The Queen inquired in a tone Samsara had never heard her use before. She turned to face her.

"What...are you talking about?" She questioned intensely.

Much to her relief, the Sorceress Empress didn't get the chance to answer. The Queen Regent rode up on her horse, glancing from Jadea to Samsara to Prince. At last, Medea's eyes rested on Queen Jadea.

"The plan worked after all," she said casually, though a bit of amusement shined in her eyes. Medea hadn't had the fullest of faith in their plan.

"Don't celebrate yet," Jadea warned and then whistled loudly. Her snow white mare came bounding out of the stables. The woman grabbed the reins and pulled herself up and onto her horse.


The Eastern Woman stepped out of hiding and walked toward a stunned Athena. The Goddess of Wisdom looked at her with wide eyes. "Who are you?" she demanded.

Mariko stopped where she was and put her hands on her hips. "Athanase will destroy you, Athena."

The Olympian responded, "I want that Rhea Ruby back. If she doesn't relinquish it, I will be forced to attack again."

"Attack again and you give her cause to kill you. She is very protective--"

"I REALIZE THAT! As a mother she is only more dangerous. You tell her that if she doesn't give up that stone--"

She was interrupted by Ares. "Athens is under siege."

Because Athena chose to strike against the Amazons, she had divided the family. Artemis, Apollo, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Pyros, and Hestia were all angered. Each God quickly organized their faithful worshippers and launched an assault on Athens as soon as they could.

"I can stop this," Mariko said. "If you desire to keep your post as Goddess for the time being, then I suggest you allow me range."

Athena turned to the woman. "Who in the Hades are you to come to Olympus and tell me that you can solve my problems?"

"I only want peace once I have departed."

Athena gave her a peculiar look, not really understanding what the woman meant. She shrugged and waved a hand, indicating her acceptance of the deal.

Swiftly, Mariko left Olympus.  With a fluid movement of her hand, she erased the worshippers memories of the reason they were there attacking the city and sent them back to their temples and homes.

Athena stood alone at the gates of her city.

Mariko turned to her as soon as she was done. "I cannot guarantee that Athanase will not go after you again, but to keep her from doing so, you must swear not to attack her."

The Goddess of Wisdom looked at her. "I don't know why you're doing this for me, but that mongrel stole Rhea's Ruby and upset the punishment meted out for Prometheus."

"I can do nothing about that. You cannot kill the Great Destroyer. Leave it be," she mounted a horse and galloped off back to Themiscyra.

An angry Athena seethed.


Plans Unfold

The Cost of War


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