Convert this page to Pilot DOC Format
by Jerry Hansen (Jeremiah)
Please do not reproduce or forward without permission of the author.
Copyright ©1996 Jerry Hansen
by Jerry Hansen (Jeremiah)
The rain had softened to a gentle mist by the time Xena had
dispatched the last member of Rathgar's marauding horde. She stood
tall and proud, her coal black hair clinging to her face. Her smile
told the story; another ruthless warlord would no longer terrorize
the villagers who lived in the valley below. Rathgar had fled early
in the fight, leaving his men to Xena's vengeful wrath.
Gabrielle stood by her side, staff in hand, breathing hard.
Xena turned a bemused eye on her companion and asked her, "why are
you breathing so hard?"
"I'm still new at this. I don't have your experience at this
sort of thing, but just you wait, I'm getting better every time,"
Xena smiled, "just be careful, don't get in over your head.
Come on, let's get out of this wet weather."
As they began to wend their way through the remnants of
Rathgar's men, Gabrielle paused to look at the young face of a dead
warrior. She asked, "why do the strong prey on the weak, Xena?"
Xena stopped, a distant look playing about her eyes, betraying
for a brief moment the inner turmoil she fought every day. "You know,"
she began, "I used to think that way. But I've discovered something,
thanks to Hercules."
"What's that," queried Gabrielle.
Xena reached out and took hold of Gabrielle's staff, a deadly
serious note to her voice, "the strong don't prey on the weak...the
weak prey on the unsuspecting."
Before Gabrielle could reply, Xena's head snapped in the
direction of the next hill. What could have been the wind blown
mist in the trees resolved itself into a throaty hissing sound,
accompanied by the quiet thunder of distant hoofbeats hammering
the ground. As she strained to see through the gloom, she made
out a figure on horseback cresting the hill from where the noise
The rain began again in earnest as one word escaped Xena's
As Xena and Gabrielle stood watching, the hill's horizon
filled with warriors on horseback, led by the hissing and screeching
Callisto. "XEEEENNNAAAA," echoed across the wet green slopes, as
Callisto led her army in a charge towards Xena's position. The
great steeds fired chunks of earth in high arcs behind them as
they roared down the hill.
Xena's brilliant blue eyes grew wide at the impending threat.
She felt no fear for herself, but was truly worried about Gabrielle.
She turned to face Gabrielle, the rain now streaming down her face.
Xena said, "I'll delay them. You've got to run Gabrielle."
Gab's response was immediate and firm, "I will NOT run and
leave you alone to face that army."
Xena looked pleadingly at Gabrielle, concern etched in her
face, "there's no time to argue. You're not ready for this fight.
Please Gabrielle, for me, RUN."
"Run where?" was all Gabby said, as an arrow landed but a few
paces down the hill from where they stood.
"Then at least get behind me," replied Xena, as she guided
Gabrielle behind her with her right arm. And as she brought her
arm back forward, Xena drew her blade and began t twirl the mighty
sword faster and faster, her eyes darting back and forth, a small
smile suggesting itself at the corners of her mouth. She waited
for the first poor soul who would be foolish enough to challenge
her. Gabrielle stood behind Xena to the right and leveled her
staff in anticipation. Her face, set firm as stone, belied
the simmering terror she felt in her stomach. But she would
not abandon the best friend she had ever had in the world.
Another arrow fell to ground, this time near Xena's feet.
She was momentarily startled by it, and alarmed that she had not
sensed it coming. "This rain must be distracting me," thought Xena,
seeking a quick explanation for what had just happened. Callisto
and her army were almost to the base of the hill where Xena and
Gabrielle stood alone, waiting. Callisto raised her arm and her
men halted their mounts. She continued up the hill alone.
Xena slowed the motion of her sword and readied herself for
the attack. Callisto reined in her horse and sat astride her saddle,
looking down at Xena. She smiled a mad smile, made demonic by the
rain darkened blonde hair framing her chiseled face. "Well Xena,
what a surprise, don't you think?" She giggled as she gazed at Xena,
"Yes this IS a pleasant surprise. Say, you wouldn't mind giving me
back that arrow would you?" Xena did not move or say a word, but
stood alert and ready with her sword. Callisto continued," No? I
thought not. That's right, you can't ever return what you've taken
from me. That arrow surprised you didn't it?"
The poison sugar continued to flow from Callisto's lips. "You
know Xeeeeennnaa," she said, stretching it out, "you're not the only
one who has many skills." Callisto's laughter soared to the gods
above and rolled through the valley below, mixing with the rumbling
thunder, and sounding more like the tormented screams of tortured
souls than laughter.
Finally Xena spoke, barely audible through the storm, tight
and contained, the pain swimming just below her calm exterior, "What
do you want?" The rain continued falling, like the tears of the
Olympians, washing the world with the anguish of the gods.
"Why Xena," taunted Callisto, "I thought you were smarter
than that. Don't you know what I want?" And suddenly the mad humor
disappeared from callisto's bearing. The demon mask of her face grew
ferocious and savage as she spat out her venom, "I want you to die.
But before that, I want your mother to die." Callisto's voice grew
to a scream, from squall to tempest, drowning out the drum beat of
the raindrops spattering the field around them, "I want your horse
to die. I want Hercules to die. I want all you care about to die
before your eyes."
And as quickly as it had begun, it ended. Xena stood deathly
still, staring at Callisto. The smile returned to callisto's face
and her eyes shifted to Gabrielle, standing firm and ready to help
Xena at the least provocation. Callisto nodded in Gabrielle's
direction and pulled the reins of her horse to begin turning around.
As she began to saunter away, she turned to look back over her
shoulder. "But most of all Xena," purred the madwoman who called
herself Callisto, "I want that annoying little pest of a friend of
yours to die." Xena stood frozen to the earth, her sword hand grown
still. The rain could not wash away the growing anxiety she began
to feel in her gut.
As Callisto rode back down the hill to rejoin her horde, her
screeching, tortured laughter filled the valley, echoing far afield,
eventually fading in the rolling misty hills.
Xena remained still as stone, staring at Callisto's retreating
form. The threats to all her loved ones rang in her ears, a discordant
tune howled by a madwoman. The notes of the tune crashed and banged
into each other, as if an insane bard strummed an ill-tuned lyre
over and over, "mother, Hercules, Argo, Gabrielle, mother, Hercules,
Argo, Gabrielle." the demon song played again and again in her mind
against the background chorus of Callisto's hissing and screeching
Callisto reached her army at the base of the hill and turned
back to face Xena. Callisto waved and smiled calmly up at the two
figures standing alone and wet at the top of the hill, and with a
quick toss of her head and a hitch of her legs, spurred her
horse towards the village that had just been spared Rathgar's
unwelcome attention. Her army followed, drawing their swords
and broadaxes, holding them high, anxious for them to be blooded
on the newest victims of Callisto's rage. Their whoops and warcries
climbed up the hill to taunt Xena and Gabrielle.
Xena had yet to move, mired in thought as she let the horrible
song playing in her head continue to haunt her. Deep in her mind she
began to think about the prospects of Callisto's threats, "mother is
too far away for Callisto to get to, Hercules can more than take care
of himself--though I wish sometimes he couldn't--hey, where'd that
come from?" She pushed that thought aside and continued, "Argo can
outrun any creature alive and knows how to fight if it comes to that,
"Xena," said Gabrielle, breaking into Xena's thoughts, "we've
got to help those villagers. I thought she would attack us, but she's
not. Why didn't she attack us? We can't leave those poor people to
Callisto. She'll destroy them. Xena!"
"has a pure heart and has only begun to learn how to use that
staff. Gabrielle, Gabrielle," Xena finished the thought. Suddenly
the torturous music stopped and her eyes grew wide. "Gabrielle, I
know," she said, an urgency now tingeing her voice. She whistled
for Argo. I'll stop them. You wait here."
Gabrielle replied, "I can help. I'm coming with you. You
can't do this alone."
Xena's response had a hard edge to it, the edge that is
honed by caring about a friend so deeply, "I can't wait here
arguing with you. Just stay put." She jumped on Argo and screamed,
"Hyaah." Argo bolted down the hill toward the village where
Callisto's army had begun their attack. Gabrielle was left
standing alone, looking after Xena.
"She's always doing this to me," thought Gab, "well not
this time." Gabrielle took her staff and began to stride
purposefully down the hill, the distant cry of YIYIYIYIYI
ringing in her ears.
As Argo raced towards the village, bearing its salvation,
Callisto sat in a grove of trees near its edge. She kept one eye
on the destruction her men were reaping and another on the approaching
form of Xena. She smiled to herself and thought, Oh Xena, I know
you so well. You and I are of one heart. We're like mother and
daughter. After all, you gave me this life." And the demons
danced their dance in Callisto's mind.
Callisto watched Xena draw and throw her chakrum. It flew
through the air to knock the axe from a warrior's hand just as he
was about to deliver the death blow to a cowering villager. The
warrior looked around in anger in time to see Xena catch the
returning disk, somersault off her horse, and land with her
boots squarely in his chest. Xena drew her sword and began to
slice through the air with the mighty blade in wide arcs and
figure eights. Callisto's men were waiting for this and gathered
to engage her in battle. Callisto had instructed them on pain of
death that they must occupy Xena while she accomplished the real
reason for the attack. Xena's eyes burned blue fire, and her smile
grew more playful as Callisto's horde drew near.
"Oh, this is too easy," thought Callisto, as she quietly rode
her horse toward the lone figure striding down the nearby hill.
Xena sheathed her sword. The bodies of the slain and injured
lay about her. Luckily, most of the villagers had been, and remained,
inside because of the rain. "Thank the gods, none had been critically
hurt," mused Xena. She looked about for Callisto. "She's probably
run," thought Xena, "she just wants to toy with me. I can't let her
get inside my head." She remounted Argo, satisfied at the thought,
and rode back up the hill, looking for Gabrielle. Xena called out,
"Gabrielle, it's over, let's go get dry." The silence that greeted
her was louder than thunder. She looked around, growing concerned
and frantic, screaming now into the silence, "GABRIELLE," but heard
nothing save the distant fading of her own voice. The clamorous song
began to play again in Xena's head just as the rain stopped and
Apollo loosed the sun's rays upon the land. The wet grass sparkled
as if Demeter had cast down a handful of jewels.
And although the sun had just broken through the clouds, a
storm had just begun to build a mighty fury in Xena's heart.
The storm in Xena's heart built unabated, coming to full
fury, without benefit of that gentle wisdom bestowed by her best
friend, that calm hand on the shoulder of her torment. Looking
down, Xena saw the broken remnants of Gabrielle's staff. The
sturdy timber rested in two pieces against the hillside. Xena cried
out an anguished scream, "GABRIELLE," as the storm wrapped her in the
whirlwind of its violence, and the black clouds closed in over her
As she rode Argo back into the village, her heart beat a wild
rhythm in time to Callisto's maddening song, the last note hissing
over and over in Xena's mind, "Gabrielle, Gabrielle, Gabrielle."
She saw Gabby's gentle face swimming before her eyes, smiling that
kind, knowing smile, turn slowly into that plaintive appeal for Xena
to do something, anything to help her.
Upon arriving back at the village, Xena dismounted, leaping
at the first body she came to. Grabbing it by the left shoulder,
she yanked it upright. Seeing that the lifeless form could yield
no secrets, she hurled it aside in anger and disgust. the next
several bodies she came to were also on their way to await the
judgment of Hades.
An elderly villager stepped timidly out of his hut to thank
Xena for saving the village. In her tormented state, all Xena said
was, "where is she?" The timbre of her voice and the fire burning
in her eyes sent the villager scurrying back to his hovel without
reply. Xena finally came to one of Callisto's warriors who lay
wounded at the edge of the village. His face was pale from loss
of blood and he moaned in pain as Xena grabbed him. "Where is she?"
demanded Xena. The man blinked his eyes several times before they
were able to focus on Xena. He gritted his teeth and said, "she's
dead." His choking laughter was like the bone crack of death in
The fury in her heart erupted throughout her entire being.
She drew her sword, a lightening bolt of pain and dismay crackling
from her throat, "NNNOOOOOOO." The warrior's laughter abruptly
ceased as he joined his companions waiting in line at Charon's
boat. A murderous rage engulfed Xena, Callisto's screeching song
growing louder in her ears and driving her to the brink of the
madness that had once possessed her. As she looked about, sword
in hand, all Xena could see were the bodies of Callisto's men
in the village and Rathgar's men on the hillside, all dead or dying
by her hand. Images from her past began to creep up to lie beside
those already slain this day, until her entire field of vision was
filled with the shapes and shadows of the dead. "All right," she
growled, "we'll play your way." She called for Argo, hopped on,
and charged off into the valley.
And as she rode, the wind carried Xena's murderous cry,
"Did you hear something? I thought I heard something.
You know, Xena will find us. You just can't go around threatening
people and hurting them just because you feel like it. It's not
right. And it doesn't mean you're strong either. It really means
you're weak. Xena told me that and she would know. And when Xena
finds, by the gods, I sure wouldn't want to be you, no by Hades, I
sure wouldn't. And another thing..."
"If you don't stop talking, you annoying little pest, I will
flay you and hang you on a stick to cook in the sun. Now SHUT UP!"
screeched Callisto at Gabrielle.
Gabrielle thought about it and decided that she'd be quiet for
a while. But just a while, for she also knew her best defense had
always resided in her gift of Gab. She smiled to herself at that as
she sat in the wooden cage in Callisto's camp. "Xena will come,"
she thought to herself.
Callisto called to one of her archers and walked with him
around Gabrielle's cage. "You position yourself over there in the
trees, behind this little girl's cage, and be ready. As soon as
Xena appears, you will launch arrow after arrow into the girl.
Make sure you kill her, but not before she suffers. You must make
sure that Xena can see the whole thing. It will be exquisite,"
purred Callisto. She yanked the front of his tunic, pulling him
close and hissed in his ear, "you know the penalty for mistakes,
don't you." It was not a question, but the archer replied, "yes,
mighty Callisto." A mad smile played about Callisto's lips as she
danced back to her encampment. She indeed had heard on the wind the
faint call of her name, and could sense the madness in that cry.
"One heart Xena," she whispered, "one dark heart."
Callisto envisioned the scene in her head over and over again.
She laughed out loud, a hearty, robust shriek of laughter that flew
through the trees, eventually mingling with the mad cry of her own
name, being born in on a distant wind, and carried by a storm, the
fury of which she had never before seen in all her mad existence.
The storm in Xena's heart howled its fury as shadows of those
long dead by her bloodied hands continued to plague her vision. She
saw their gaunt, wounded faces and mangled bodies before her eyes,
and they were watching her, smiling at her, taunting her, now that
thoughts of Gabrielle's death haunted and tormented her. The
discordant notes of the song Callisto's threats had become beat a
constant reminder in Xena's ears that now Gabrielle's blood was also
on her hands. "And the only way to wash it off, is to avenge your
death my friend," was the one thought that pierced through the noise
in Xena's mind.
A brief ray of regret burned through the storm clouds of Xena's
heart as she rode, "Gabrielle, why did I leave you on the hill? I
could have watched out for you better had I let you come with me.
Ahhh, Gabrielle." But there was no room or time for grief or regret,
and instead, Xena let these thoughts fuel the violent maelstrom
already spinning and crashing in her heart. The tempest reasserted
itself, growing ever more fearsome in its strength, raging full force,
its power unleashed and unchecked, consuming Xena, and becoming her
Thunder roared from Argo's hooves, accompanied by the
tormented screams ringing from Xena's throat as she spurred Argo
onward, ever onward, toward that destiny that had been sculpted if
fire during those days of her own madness. And now that madness had
spawned a creature madder still, born of fire and nurtured on hate,
and it had come home to feed.
As Xena approached Callisto's camp, the guards posted to watch
for her raised the alarm long before she was in sight. Her cries of
rage split the air and echoed across the land, announcing to the world
that vengeance had been made flesh this day. Xena's chakrum sliced
through the air, dispatched the guards, and returned to her skilled
hand as she rode into Callisto's camp.
She propelled Argo straight into the middle of the encampment,
and as she flew through the air, her battle cry of "YIYIYIYIYIYI"
soared to Olympian heights. She drew her sword and landed in the
middle of six warriors. Given a chance for the storm within to
finally vent, Xena swung her sword full circle, and six more warriors
would fight no more. Her sword continued to twirl and slice through
the air, as if hungry for blood and searching for prey. Xena held
her non-sword hand out and ready, waving her fingers, inviting the
challenge of battle.
Xena whipped her head from side to side, black hair flying
as if tendrils of a terrible storm cloud were reaching outward,
seeking targets for the devastation about to be unleashed. Xena's
face was set in grim determination and no smile graced her face
for this conflict. There would be no mercy today.
Wave upon wave of snarling, growling men came at Xena.
They were intent on winning Callisto's favor by capturing Xena,
for they were not to kill her. Callisto had ordered them to take
her alive so that she might be forced to watch her friend's
destruction first. But the rage in Xena's heart knew no quarter.
Every sword blow was a lightening strike, every punch and kick a
thunderclap, and the tumult rose to the gods in an ominous chorus
of death and destruction. All that would quiet the storm loosed
on Callisto's men was the death of every living being in camp.
Xena was a blur of fists and feet, blade and blood, as man after
man fell to Xena's wrath. A few were lucky enough to rise.
Nothing Callisto could do was equal to the devastation being
wrought by Xena, so those who could, fled for their miserable
Callisto perched on a branch in a tree at the campsite's
edge, watching intently. Gabrielle's cage had been secreted
further back in a clearing, out of sight. Callisto smiled quietly
to herself, whispering over and over as she watched Xena's furious
execution of her men, "one heart, one heart, one heart, one heart."
She knew she was sacrificing her men to Xena's outrage and she
didn't care. "Let them die," she giggled, "it's for the greater good."
Before long Xena was left standing alone. She looked about her
and saw yet another group of dead warriors scattered at her feet. But
this time she let the bloodlust consume her, and she fed its wrath
with a madness of her own making. She roared, "Callisto," and
waited, her eyes wild and burning blue fire.
"Xeeeeennaa," came a tiny hissing voice from a tree at the
edge of camp, "I have something to show you." Callisto hopped down
from her perch and looked about at the destruction. As if seeing it
for the first time she taunted Xena, "temper, temper, Xena."
Callisto's eyes glazed over, as she looked far far away and
purred, "wouldn't it have been better to BURN them Xena? Isn't
that what you're good at?" She snapped her head back and
refocused her eyes on Xena, staring daggers of hatred, "at least
that's what my FAMILY discovered."
For the first time Xena smiled, letting the madness take
her where it would. She purred right back at Callisto, "not this
time Callisto. Let's finish this NOW."
"Oh Xena," pouted Callisto, "we haven't yet begun." And
with an insane laugh, she leapt back up into her tree and dashed
away. Xena followed with a cry of outrage, "AAAGGGGHHHH." They
tore through the trees until they came to a clearing. And there
at the far edge sat Gabrielle in her cage. Callisto called out,
"over here Xena, see what I've got for you." Callisto's eyes grew
bright and sparkled in the sun. Her smile grew large and wicked.
Xena crashed into the clearing, sword drawn, ready to confront
and finish Callisto. The sight of Gabrielle in the cage stopped her
as if she'd been struck by the gods. A seething cauldron of emotion
erupted within Xena, so overwhelmed with relief was she at seeing
Gabrielle alive. She stopped to shake her head, trying to loosen
the grip of madness that had held her in its grasp. "Gabrielle,"
she called out, a small smile breaking out on her face. Callisto
just stood there watching, beaming her own mad smile over the scene.
"Xena," called out Gabrielle, "Xena, I'm alright, get me out
of here, I knew you'd make it, this lunatic has kept me locked up in
here but I kept telling her.....Xena?"
Gabrielle had abruptly cut off her nervous chatter because of
the look of wide eyed terror that had replaced the smile on Xena's
face. For behind Gabrielle's cage, Xena saw the arrow that had been
let loose by Callisto's archer, and was flying straight and true
towards her best friend. Xena cried out, shock and fright shaking
her voice, "Gabrielle." But it was drowned out by the hissing and
screeching taunts and laughter rising from callisto's lips, as she
leapt and danced in joy, screaming, "one heart Xena! One dark heart."
It was a moment frozen in time, as if Persephone had never
returned from Hades, and all the earth lay entombed in a sepulchre
A proud warrior stood wide-eyed and fearful;
A pure and gentle heart stood imprisoned in a cage of wood;
A madwoman stood shrieking her hatred across the land;
An arrow flew straight and true;
It was a moment hewn from the cold marble of time.
Xena saw that Gabrielle was about to be killed by the arrow
coursing through the air, and had not heard her cry out because of
Callisto's mad keening. Xena could see Gabrielle standing in her
cage with that look of puzzlement on her face that she got when
she was trying to figure out just what it was that Xena wanted
her to do. The sudden shock of seeing Gabrielle alive had sent
a thunderbolt of relief through Xena's heart. That shock quickly
combined with the realization that Gabrielle might die just
as quickly before her own haunted eyes. It was almost too much
to bear. There was a brief lull in the storm of hatred that had
fueled Xena's wrath, and it began to build yet again as she stood
transfixed by the scene.
Gabrielle saw that Xena had cried out something to her, but
could not hear it because of Callisto's raving. But Gabby knew
that something had gone suddenly and terribly wrong, for Xena's
expression had changed from the all consuming rage of battle and
revenge to relief to a mask of shock and dismay reflected by the
sudden angry terror that now filled her eyes. Gabrielle looked
intently at Xena through the bars of her cage.
Callisto saw the arrow and rejoiced. In her fevered mind
she rode along with the arrow on its path towards Gabrielle. "Oh
how Xena will suffer," thought Callisto. "It will be a loss so
great it will drive her completely mad. And that's just the start.
Xena will finally know some measure of justice and revenge for
destroying my family. Her heart will turn dark and twisted again."
That pleasure was so pure for Callisto that her head was thrown back
as she howled, "one heart Xena, one dark heart," and the madness
glowed in her eyes.
The arrow saw nothing. It was, after all, an arrow, simply
fulfilling its deadly purpose, slicing inevitably and inexorably
through the air towards Gabrielle.
It was a moment woven forever into the fabric of time, a
tapestry woven by the cold hands of fate and suspended by the
tenuous threads of time, a tapestry fit for the halls of Olympus.
But then, as if the gods fought over the delicate fabric, struggling
and pulling at the tableaux, the weave was loosed, the threads
unravelled, and the moment was gone.
The warlord Rathgar had been sitting brooding and sulking
in the forest shadows, oblivious to the sounds portending the
destruction wrought by a mighty storm carried on the wind. "I
had a good thing going until Xena ruined it," he pouted. "If I
ever get the chance I'll do her in for good," he snarled, forgetting
that he had the chance earlier that day, and had run away in terror
to hide. The sounds of men crashing through the forest broke his
reverie. "What's all this then?" he wondered, and rose to await
the arrival of the surviving members of Callisto's scattered army.
Gabrielle, for all her puzzlement, figured out her situation
quickly. The look on Xena's face could only mean that danger lurked
behind her. It became a moment of crystal clarity for Gabrielle.
Xena could not get to her in time! The thoughts happened in a
lightening flash of awareness: "Make Xena proud. You can do it.
Be an Amazon princess. FOCUS," she commanded herself. Without
realizing exactly what she was doing, Gabrielle spun hard to her
left, bringing her right arm and hand across the front of her body,
crying out, "HAH!" To her amazement, she was looking at the point
of an arrow an inch from her heart.
Callisto stopped her mad shrieking in a moment of disbelief,
and screamed, "NNOOOOOOO." She began to hop up and down, the fire
in her eyes blazing more hotly, the madness overwhelming her at this
frustration in her plan. She screeched and hissed,"AGAIN, you idiot,
fire again, shoot her, SHOOT HER NOW."
Xena could not believe what she had seen. Again she cried
out, "Gabrielle." Xena shook her head again, trying to clear the
paralyzing storm of emotion that had seized her in its grip. The
storm clouds of hate had blinded her, and no doubt that had been
Callisto's plan all along. She saw Callisto's archer knock another
arrow and let it fly. "Gabrielle can't do it twice," Xena thought
to herself. She sheathed her sword, brought her arm down, grabbed
her chakrum, and sent it whistling through the air before the
thoughts had even finished in her head.
Xena's chakrum shattered the second arrow, continued on
its path to remove any further threat from the archer, careened
off a tree, and headed back to her outstretched hand. Seeing
this, Callisto leaped through the air, landed in front of
Gabrielle's cage, and intercepted the chakrum on its return
flight. "To borrow a phrase," taunted Callisto, "not this time
Xena. I can see I'll have to take care of this little pest myself."
"You're fights with me Callisto, not her," shouted Xena as
she drew her sword and began to deftly twirl it in her skilled hand.
A sudden gust of wind hinted at a new storm building and gathering
its strength to unleash a new fury.
"You're wrong Xeeeena," hissed Callisto in a breathy taunt.
"Was my family's fight with you? Was a little girl's fight with
you? No? I didn't think so." Her eyes sparkled in the gathering
gloom. She smiled, admiring the chakrum. "This will be even
MORE fitting Xena," she purred, "to kill THIS little girl, with
YOUR own weapon." Her throaty, screeching laughter filled the
clearing and rose to the again darkening skies.
A distant thunder rumbled and rolled through the valley,
a hoarse, haunting sound, reminding Xena of the clash of distant
armies, and the cries of anguish and death that lingered in the
still air long after the battle's finish. Again her heart grew
dark at the distant memories plaguing her, the prospect of yet
more dead waiting to torment her. She saw Callisto's crazed
smile as she began to turn towards Gabrielle.
Gabrielle stood holding the arrow, shaking with shock
and disbelieving excitement. "I did it! By the gods I did it!!
I knew I could do it...how'd I do it?" she exclaimed to herself.
"Now to get out of this cage. If only Xena..." The thought was
interrupted by the sound of Callisto's words breaking through to
her..."little girl, with your own weapon." A first few misty drops
of rain began to fall gently over the land.
"Little girl?!? I'll show you little girl," muttered
Gabrielle as she turned the arrow in her hand and raised it
over her head like a spear. She clutched it with both hands
and made ready to strike Callisto's back as she stood near the
cage. "I can end this myself," thought Gabrielle. In her right
hand, Callisto held Xena's chakrum. Gabrielle heard Callisto's
insane laughter battling the growing thunder. Gab's mind became
a whirlwind of thought, like a wind battered ship trapped in a
violent maelstrom with little prospect of survival. She paused,
remembering and hearing Xena's gentle but sad words from earlier
that day: "the strong don't prey on the weak...the weak prey on
the unsuspecting." Gabrielle thought to herself, "I CAN end this,"
and lowered the arrow as Callisto began to turn towards her.
"Callisto is mad with hate. For all her destruction and
power, she's weak," Gabrielle mused. "Love and forgiveness is
the only way," she reasoned. She watched as Xena began to run
desperately across the clearing, brandishing her sword and crying
out Callisto's name. "She won't make it in time," thought Gabrielle.
She smiled a sad smile, sighed, and got a far away look in her eye as
she thought about what had to happen next. And with a great crack of
thunder, a new storm hurled itself from the sky, as if the gods were
cleansing the earth in a torrent of Olympian tears.
The rain fell so heavily that it seemed as if the gods were
heaving the raindrops in a contest to see who could throw the hardest.
The wind began to howl a ghostly wail, blowing the rain almost
sideways. A great streak of lightening split the sky, as if the
roof of the world had cracked under the onslaught. Massive peels
of thunder cascaded across the valley, like the echo of some ancient
Olympian battle hinting at the strife yet to come on earth.
Xena's cry, "CALLISTO," was swallowed up in the crash of
thunder that brought the deluge. Xena willed her legs to move
faster, her mind an agony of desperation. "I'll be too late,"
Just as the rain began in ernest, she saw that Gabrielle
had lowered the arrow and held it in her hand at her side. Even
though she was closing rapidly, the rain attacked her senses,
blinding her and deafening her as it pounded down. She could
not make out what Gab was doing now. She gathered all her
resources and screamed, battling the roaring pitch of the
thunder, "GABRIELLE, FIGHT!"
Callisto had stopped in her turn towards Gabrielle as the
downpour began, so that now her left side faced the cage. Callisto
threw her head back in an ecstasy of madness and embraced the storm.
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" she screamed at the coal black sky, "you know my
heart!" Her smile gleamed in the darkness. As she let the rain
beat down on her face, she began a mad wailing sound that resolved
itself into a delirious screeching laugh that challenged the volume
of the continuing thunder. She raised Xena's chakrum high over her
head, holding it in her right hand. She let her head roll casually
to the side and looked at Gabrielle through her mad eyes. Callisto
smiled sweetly at her and hissed, "time to die."
Gab knew that she could not kill Callisto. She reasoned,
"more killing is not the answer. Callisto is sick in her mind and
her spirit. She didn't have the strength to overcome the terrible
thing that happened to her and her family. Xena was right.
Callisto is weak."
As the downpour soaked her, Gabrielle shook her head,
her rain laden hair throwing droplets of spray in a wide arc,
the strands clinging to her shoulders. In her mind she was going
far away from this place, to a place of peace. Her thoughts carried
her to the Elysian fields, to gentle relatives long past. She thought
of how perhaps one selfless act could stop the madness. The crashing
thunder and pounding rain played counterpoint in the background chorus.
Then Gabrielle heard a familiar, though distant, cry enter the
soft melody of her thoughts. It was a harsh and violent note, but it
carried the emotion of the world in its tone. Xena's cry broke the
spell Gabrielle had put herself in, and brought her back to the
stormy situation. She thought suddenly, "what was I thinking?
It would only stop the violence if they recognized why I was doing
it. Xena would go crazy with hate, and I won't let Callisto do that
Gabrielle looked at Callisto's head lolling over to the side
and saw her crazed face saying, "time to die." Gab's face came alive
then, her eyes narrowing in anger, her lips pursed, her brow furrowed.
She thought, "by the gods, you're lucky I'm a nice person. OK, so I
won't kill you, but you won't kill me either, not today, not any day."
With all the might her small frame could muster, she swung her upper
body to the right, throwing her right arm and hand forward through the
bars of her cage. She screamed with the effort,
"AAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHH." For a brief moment a glimmering flash
of madness played about Gabrielle's face, as she watched Callisto
scream in shock and pain and confusion at the sight of an arrow
sticking out of her left cheek.
Callisto struck back in rage and sudden fear, swinging Xena's
chakrum in a pain-blind swipe at Gabrielle through the bars of her
cage. Her cry of hatred was a hideous screech. Gab threw herself
against the back of her cage just in time to avoid the blow. At
that very instant, a bolt of lightening split the air, striking
the tree in which Callisto had perched just moments before. The
thunder was immediate and deafening, shaking the very ground upon
which they stood. The tree creaked and groaned its protest as it
began to fall, slowly at first, and then with greater and greater
force and speed, it crashed to earth. Its uppermost branches landed
directly on top of the cage, engulfing Callisto and Gabrielle in a
twisted maze of leaves and wood.
The rain continued to hammer at the ground in a ferocious
attack. The lightning stricken tree smoldered despite the heavy
rain. Tendrils of wood smoke tried to float up, but were quickly
destroyed and dissipated by the downpour, as if the gods were
slapping back down an offering unworthy of their lofty status.
As the thunder's echo drifted down the valley, Xena arrived at
the fallen tree. She knew that somewhere within that thick tangle
of branches and leaves lay Gabrielle and Callisto. She knew that she
had to get to Gabrielle before Callisto.
Xena began to hack at the tree with mighty strokes of her
blade, sending bits and pieces of wood flying and hurtling through
the wet air. Her anger mixed with a quickening sense of dismay at
what had happened. Her fevered pace grew more and more intense as
she battered at the fallen tree. She called out again above the
roar of the storm, "I'm coming Gabrielle."
From deep within the branches Xena thought she heard a
moaning sound and quickened her pace. She was disappointed to
realize that the sound belonged to the torn branches as they met
and twisted in the wind. Xena's sword carved a quick path through
the shards of timber to what appeared to be the remains of
Gabrielle's cage. It looked as if the cage had born the full
brunt of the tree's impact. Bits of tattered twine and shreds
of the carved wooden bars lay at her feet. A tight feeling seized
Looking quickly around, Xena saw no trace of Gabrielle or
Callisto. She swung her sword in a fierce arc, shattering yet
another downed limb. The rain streamed off her tired face as she
glowered at the remnants of the cage, and the echoing thunder
mocked her unfulfilled rage. To Xena it was a hollow taunting sound,
the laughter of angry ghosts long departed. The raging emotions of
the day took their toll. Gabrielle was still in danger and Callisto
was Hades knew where. She threw her head back in frustration and
cried out her torment and frustration at the furious storm swirling
At that very moment, Callisto paused to listen to Xena's
anguished cry rising above the howling wind, and the howling madness
that rang ever in her head. She looked down at the unconscious form
of Gabrielle, whom she had dragged out of cage through the tree,
and smiled. She let Gabrielle's body drop casually to a pile of
soaked leaves. As if awakening from a daze, she looked down to
see the arrow still stuck in her left cheek. With a shriek of
sudden fury, in a frenzy, she tore the arrow from her, and cast
the bloody shaft at the prone form. Callisto seemed not to feel
any pain now, as her eyes glazed with hate. Touching her wound,
she purred at Gabrielle, "you will pay for this my dear. But first
my sweet, you must be awake to see what I have planned for you."
Callisto turned back to face the clearing where Xena hacked at the
fallen tree. "But first," she hissed, "I have some unfinished
business." And she gazed with longing and admiration at Xena's
chakrum, still clutched in her right hand. Despite the intense
rain, the mad fire burned all the more brightly in her eyes.
As Xena's cry rose against the battering rain, she stopped
her attack on the fallen tree and shattered cage. The events of
the day and the frustration of still not getting to Gabrielle
clutched at her heart, and a surging wave of emotion crested
over her. She wavered for a moment, and shot out her left hand
to grab a nearby limb to catch herself. Her thoughts turned
inward, whipping up the already seething cauldron boiling within
her, threatening to spill over and drown her in an emotional maelstrom.
Xena sheathed her sword and looked into the distance through
the pouring rain. As the storm continued its assault, Xena felt the
sting of the cascading sheets of water for the first time. She could
not escape the haunting sounds of the thunder, hearing in it the
echoes of ancient battle cries and ominous knells of death. "Will
Gabrielle's cry join in haunting me," Xena worried. She teetered
on the edge of despair, the stinging rain mirroring the stinging
sensation she felt in her heart as she realized just how much she
Xena commanded herself, "Stop it! There's no time for this.
Think!" Running on raw hatred had not served her well so far.
Callisto had anticipated each of her reactions. Xena released the
limb upon which she leaned and stood straight, gathering herself as
she looked about her. "They can't have gotten far," she said to
herself. She redrew her sword and began to climb through the
wreckage of the cage and the downed tree.
Callisto crept slowly through the muck the ground had become
under the stormy deluge towards the clearing where the fallen tree
had hidden her retreat. The rolling thunder masked the noise of
her approach. She bared her teeth when she saw Xena standing
there ahead of her, looking off into the distance. The flames of
Cirra danced again in Callisto's eyes, the thunder echoing for her
the tormented screams of her burning family.
Callisto felt neither rain nor pain, though a slight limp
affected her gait. She felt only the lust for blood. She paused
and looked at the wound in her leg where Gabrielle had stabbed her.
As blood mingled with the wet sheen of rain running down her leg,
she ran her finger into the bloody stream, lifted her hand, and
slowly traced a line of blood down her forehead and face. When
she reached her mouth, her tongue darted out to lick the remains
of the blood from her finger. "Ahhhh," she moaned in an ecstasy
of madness. "Soon it will be your blood Xena," hissed the grinning
Callisto. She raised Xena's chakrum and took aim at the unsuspecting
figure. Callisto drew back her arm to let the killing blow fly.
Gabrielle cautiously opened one eye and spotted the skulking
form of Callisto as she lurked through the trees back to the clearing.
Gabrielle swatted the bloody arrow off of her stomach and sat up.
"I AM getting good at this," she whispered to herself, a slight
smile hinting at her lips. Gabrielle had played possum when she
heard Callisto thrashing about in the fallen tree, and had let
Callisto drag her out of the tangled debris. She knew that
Callisto wanted her awake for whatever she had planned, so she
had simply played at being unconscious.
Gabrielle rose quickly to her feet, tried to wipe the rain
from her face, and stealthily followed the madwoman through the
trees. "I am really getting tired of this," said Gabrielle firmly,
as she saw Callisto preparing to throw the chakrum at Xena. She
gritted her teeth at the sight.
Gabrielle charged through the downpour, slopping her way
through the soaked ground. Just as Callisto reared back her arm
to let the chakrum fly, Gabrielle screamed, NNNNOOOOO," and, leaping
forward, grabbed the circular blade with both her hands. At that
same instant another magnificent bolt of lightning, a ribbon of
white hot fire, crackled through the air behind them, illuminating
Xena had just begun to climb through the fallen tree when
she saw the lightning blast and the shadowy figures of Gabrielle
and Callisto backlit in the near distance. "At last," she thought,
relief briefly flooding her senses. "But I still have to protect
Gabrielle," Xena reminded herself, a splash of anxiety spilling
into her gut. She began to twirl her sword in anticipation of
the fight she had been craving all day.
As that thought formed itself Xena blinked her eyes to
try to believe what she was seeing. She saw Gabrielle flying
through the air in a double somersault, the chakrum clutched
now in her right hand, her arms flailing the air searching for
purchase, her hair flying in a slow arc behind her, sending a
plume of water in an even higher and wider circle about her.
In the spot where Gabrielle had just been, the lightning's
smoldering blast site remained.
Callisto stood dumbfounded as she watched Gabrielle
crash land in a heap at Xena's feet. Xena stood staring at
her best friend, still unable to believe what she had just seen.
Gabrielle struggled dizzily and wearily to her feet, looked at
Xena, smiled, and said, "I believe this is yours," as she handed
Xena her chakrum.
The happy moment was short lived, however, as Callisto's
piercing scream challenged the raging storm. "XEEEEENNNNNAAAA!"
wailed Callisto. The demon mask of her face glowed in an eerie,
wicked sneer. "I will see you and all you love dead before I'm
through. This is not over. Your dark heart is mine," raged
Callisto. With that, she let out a roar that pierced the storm,
turned, and disappeared screeching into the forest, wending her
way through the mire, under the cover of the dark skies.
"Come on Xena," enthused Gabrielle, still feeling heady
from all her accomplishments this day, "let's get her."
Xena's reply was one of complete exhaustion, the emotional
toll of the day finally crashing in around her, especially now that
Gabrielle was safe, "No, Gabrielle, let her go. There'll be other
days, and next time I'll be more ready for her."
Gabrielle thought about arguing the point, but remembered
yet again Xena's words from earlier in the day, back when it
wasn't raining so hard, so she let it go. She thought to herself,
"you mean WE'LL be more ready," but all she said was, "then can
we please get out of this storm now Xena?"
As they turned to go and search for some shelter from the
unending rain, Xena whispered a simple reply, "I don't think so
Gabrielle, not for a long time."
Return to my Fan Fiction Page