AresJoxerCupidStrife - Carrie


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13

Title: Schemes and Dreams
Author: Carrie
Fandom: Xena/Herc
Pairing: C/S
Over all Rating: NC-17
Status: WIP
Archive: If you like it, you can have it. Just let me know.
Feedback: Sure. carriedemarchi@hotmail.com
Website:
Disclaimer: Not mine. =|
Notes: Inspired by HB and Christine's 'Opposite's Attract'. Thanks to my
beta, Moj.
Summary: Death. Conspiracies. War. Revelations. And some more stuff.

+Chapter I+

Slipping out the back door of the inn, a figure in a long dark robe
walked briskly across the alley and waited, seemingly very impatient. A
moment later another dark figure appeared out of nowhere and grabbed
the other's arm, startling them.

In a brief flash of bronze they were gone from the alley and reappeared in
a dimly lit hallway on Olympus. The second entity yanked the robed figure
around to look down the hallway in the direction of the private chambers
of the temple. Giving out some rough directions and providing the robed
figure with a pointed shove in the direction it was to go first. The second
rapidly made its way down the hall, while the other proceeded on to
the nursery.

+

In the main audience chamber of the Temple of Love there was a great
gathering of many of the Gods of Olympus. If there was a wedding and
it wasn't private, most had to be there whether they wanted to be or
not. But, at least this one was enjoyable. How could Love and Mischief
not be?

Not too many had thought Cupid and Strife could make it as a couple,
but they had been proved wrong. Talking, laughing and having one of
the best times this century, they both looked as happy as could be.

All their close family was there. Even Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer
were there. They sure were entertaining to both the Love and Mischief
Gods, either falling in and out of love or making mishaps where ever
they went, they were very interesting to watch and play with. And
what would a wedding be without a source of entertainment? Plus,
Xena was family. Cupid had wanted his sister there for the wedding
and even if she did have a rocky relationship with her Olympian
relatives, she couldn't refuse this honor.

The honey moon was scheduled for the next day, after their work
was caught up with and taken care of for the month they would be
spending at a small island to the South of Greece. Which island,
specifically was not known by more than four people, as not to be
disturbed. Everything was taken care of; Ares and Aphrodite would
be taking care of Bliss and their new born baby, Devilina.

+

Reaching into a pocket on the robe and pulling out a small candle,
the robed figure held it up to a torch that was providing the light
for the doorway to the young godling's bed chamber. Having the
candle lit, the figure cautiously opened the large door and
entered the room. Walking very quietly to the cradle where the
dark haired baby lay, reaching into another pocket with their
free hand, the figure pulled out a vial.

Uncorking the stopper with a thumb and setting the candle down on
a side table close enough to still provide a small light, enough
to see what was being done. The figure put a hand down to the
girl's head and stroking gently down her cheek and running a
finger across the child's lips. Instinctively Devilina opened her
mouth, expecting to be fed.

Bringing the other hand, with the vial in it, over the slatted edge
of the crib and down to the godling's mouth very carefully, as not
to spill any on their own skin, having been told it would leave
a scar on human flesh traceable by the Gods.

Tipping the vial ever so slowly and precisely, letting a few drips
drop into the baby's mouth. Not much was needed to kill her, so
the second robed figure had told the first. Don't waste any, it's
very precious and important to me, was also said.

Finished with this terrible deed, the robed figure quickly restopped
the vial, put it in the robe's pocket and grabbed the candle. Leaving
through hidden passage ways that only the Gods knew, as to assure
a quick return to the main hall.

+

Strife was just having a blast. This was the happiest day of his life,
or maybe a close second to the day Cupid had told him he loved
him. Every thing was going right in his life for once and he was
ecstatic about that. A surge of warning went off through his head
and he stopped laughing abruptly. His face fell and he looked deadly
serious.

Cupid noticed the change in his mates mood through their mental
link, he turned to Strife, "What's wrong?" Deep concern was in Cupid's
voice as he slowly received the same feelings and understood what was
happening. Both their looks changed from confusion to horror in a
second and everyone in the room was becoming aware of that.

The laughter and happiness emanating around the room was suddenly
quieted as the feeling of one of their blood was ripped away from
them. The first to feel it, of course, were Strife and Cupid. Looking
frantically to each other and around the room as silence was
achieved.

"Oh, Gods," Cupid whispered, barely audible. Strife's legs became
weak and he would have slipped down to the floor on his knees if his
husband hadn't already been holding onto him.

Recomposing himself slightly, Strife pulled out of Cupid's arms and
made a very shaky, unstable run through the crowd of Olympian's and
various mortals, immortals and demi-gods. Following closely by
Cupid, Aphrodite and Ares.

+End Chapter I+



+Chapter II+

Strife felt like a quarter of his heart had been torn out and shoved
down his throat. Not fitting, and gagging him, making him want
to thrown up. The goblet of wine he had in his hand slipped gracefully
from his hand and clattered against the cold marble floor. He looked
to Cupid, who looked about the same as he felt. Almost, passing
out at the feeling of utter loss and pain, he stabled himself and ran
out into the hallways of their temple, to the nursery.

Running his hands against the walls of the hallway to keep himself
steady as he ran shakily down the corridors, he stopped in front of
the door. Slowly he reached for the handle and pushed it open,
he knew he could never prepare himself for what he was about to
be faced with.

+

Cupid darted to his husband's side in an instant as Strife grabbed
their child up and held her tight to his chest. Cupid was frantic and
didn't know what to do. He knew one of them had to keep some sort of
sanity in this situation. Strife had bore her, so he was left with that
responsibility.

Cupid had his arms around Strife and was rocking him gently, trying to
ease his pain and lessen his sobs. He looked to his parents who came
rushing into the room and stopped dead at the sight of their nephew
crying hysterically, holding Devilina in his arms. They had felt a much,
much weaker sensation of what Cupid and Strife had felt, but they knew
all the same things. They could tell she was no longer alive.

Aphrodite kneeled at her son's side and tried to reassure him that
everything would be alright. Through her own tears she reached a hand
up and smoothed it over his cheek. He looked at her with the saddest face
she'd ever seen. He had no idea how to feel. He felt a tearing hurt in his
chest and no clue as how to make it any less painful.

It takes murder to kill a God and he felt extreme rage towards whoever
would have the nerve to lay a hand on his daughter. His emotions
fighting were fighting each other. Should he stay with Strife and mourn
their
daughter, demand Hades return her to them, or search out and
destroy the murderer? His anger caught his father's eye and they shared a
sympathetic look. He knew his father would take care of the whole
revenge deal if he needed to spend the time with Strife. He was glad
his father was who he was, even if they didn't always see eye to
eye.

+

The Queen of the Gods appeared in a faint white and purple light
and stood where she was until she was noticed. Ares looked to his
mother the second she arrived and then looked to his son. Cupid was
escorting Strife to a couch, he'd managed to get him to lay their
daughter in her crib. Crushing her body would do no good at a time
like this. Strife needed comforting, reassuring, loving arms, and Cupid was
the one to give him that.

Cupid turned and looked to his father and then to his grandmother. He
nodded weakly to the God of War, and Ares in turn looked to his
mother and signaled it was alright at the moment for her to talk to Cupid
and Strife.

"I am extremely sorry for your loss, young ones," Hera said as she
walked over to her grandchildren and kneeled down in front of them, resting
comforting hands on both theirs. "But it must be. It has been said."

+

Several hours later, after Strife was sufficiently stable enough to let
go his death grip on Cupid's arm, he was shifted over to Aphrodite to
look after while Cupid attended to some business.

Cupid asked for his father's assistance in visiting the Fates. Ares
had agreed and they both flashed away to appear in front of the three old
women. They were awaiting them, as it would seem.

"Father and son," Atropos greeted them, "We are sorry for your loss."

Ares noted his son's frustration and being so close to exploding in
a fit of rage, laid a hand on his shoulder and gave him a look that told
him to wait it out and see what they had to say. Not that Cupid didn't
have respect for Fate or Destiny, but obviously he wasn't thinking
clearly.

"Would you care to explain this, Goddess'?" Ares asked as calmly
as he could. He was better at controlling his rage than Cupid was.

"Those who need to know, already know, Ares," Lachesis answered him.

"And who would that be?" Ares knew he wasn't going to get much
of an elaborate explanation from them, but it was worth a shot to ask
as many questions as he could get in before he felt he was annoying
the powerful sisters.

"You will see." Clotho gave the final words and then, as one, the
three women turned back to their weaving, leaving Cupid and Ares in the
dark.

Cupid was fuming, he couldn't believe the Fates sometimes. For
the love of Zeus, could they not ever just give a clear explanation
to everyone at once so they didn't have to go searching around to
find out what in Tartarus they fucking meant?

Ares grabbed hold of his sons shoulders and turned Cupid to face
him, "Let it go, we'll figure it out." He looked sternly at the Love God
and pulled him into a hug as they flashed out of the Temple of the
Fates.

+End Chapter II+



+Chapter III+

In the next few years Cupid and Strife had attempted to visit their
daughter in her after life, each time being denied by Hades. They
argued with him on several occasions, but to no avail. His word
was final. He did agree on a scrying mirror, though. It was Love
and Mischief's only view at their daughter.

And in the mirror they watched. Kept it playing at all times, for them
to steal any free moments in their day to spend watching her. A
young teenaged girl sat quietly, reading a book under a tree in the Elysian
Fields. Dark hair and such a pretty face, the only mark on her pale
skin was a birthmark across her jaw.

The murderer was never expunged and it was still an ongoing thing
for the Gods to keep an eye out for whoever would have ever
thought to kill the child.

+

Ares hadn't felt well all morning. It was rare that Gods got sick,
especially Ares. He tried to shrug it off, but it wasn't working. He
tried taking an extra dose of ambrosia, but that didn't work either.
Eventually, he gave in and sat back in his throne and tried to relax.
That's when he felt it.

Death. In great, disturbing amounts. He had no clue where it was
coming from or why it was there, but he felt it. He frowned and sat
forward in his throne before deciding what he should do. Apollo wouldn't
be any help if he went for a check up. What he was feeling wasn't like
a sickness anymore, though. More like an overwhelming breech of power.
Perhaps he should go straight to the top with this?

He stood and transported himself to his father's study, where he
felt his presence.

+

Zeus took one look at his son and let out a sigh, "Yes, Ares?" He
didn't think it was often that his oldest son would come to him for
a social visit. By the look on his face, Zeus eliminated the slim
possibility.

"Take a moment, father, and let yourself feel. Feel the feelings of
the mortal race, feel your worshippers, feel what is going on around
yourself." Ares stood and suggested the best way he could think of
to make Zeus aware of the same feeling he had. He had a thought,
that maybe if his father was so worried about holding so much
power in the palm of his hand, that he should try being more in
touch with it, and the world around him.

Zeus sighed again and humored his son, indulging himself in a
moment of relaxation. He leaned against the back of his chair and
closed his eyes. His forehead slowly began to crease before he
opened his eyes and looked to his son. "Go. Find out what's going
on and report back to me, Ares."

"Do not interfere. We will wait and see."

Ares nodded and flashed out of the room, down to earth.

+

The God of War appeared on a cliff of a mountain and, with his godly
vision, peered out towards the source, as far as he could tell, of the
strong feelings of death. He saw a massive array of tents and, basically,
the set up of an army. Not overly large, but an army, none the less.

He thought for a moment. This was not his doing. Who else had control
over an army this size? Discord had her men to the south of Sparta. He
checked, his current war lords and armies were in camps around Greece.
He sensed this was not one of his armies, though.

Moving himself to a spot closer to the actual site of the army for a better
view of what was going on. They looked almost ready to begin a march
somewhere. Guessing from his direction, they were going to make their
way East. What was to the East of value? There was farm land, vineyards,
and sheep. And an army of his was on call towards the North East.

"Well, they might just come in handy, if this is going to turn into a bad
situation," Ares said to himself. He moved himself considerably closer and,
staying invisible, walked through the far end of the camp.

He picked out a random tent and made his way into it. He saw a man
sitting on his cot and picking at some rotting stitches on his leg. It
smelled putrid in the tent. Come to think of it, it smelled like that
throughout the entire camp. Ares frowned and looked at the man
more carefully. The wound he was picking at should still be bleeding,
by the looks of it, and surely it would have bled him to death. Unless,
he was already dead.

That's it. Ares had just stumbled upon his answer. Not too logical of
an answer, he'd admit. But he was almost sure it was the truth. A
quick check of several other things in the camp and he was most
sure of it. He flashed himself back to his father's temple on
Olympus.

"They're dead. An army of the dead," Ares told his father.

Zeus' face turned slowly from confusion to outrage, "How dare he?!" Zeus
shouted out, standing up and pushing his chair back, making a loud scraping
noise as it slide heavily across the floor.

"My own brother! How dare Hades supply an army of troops to this war lord?!"
Zeus raged and began to pace angrily behind his desk. He moved to the front
of it and looked at his son, "Prepare your men, you will go to war against
this
army."

+End Chapter III+



+Chapter IV+

It had taken Ares a week to ready his men, much to Zeus' frustration. At
least
he had the sense to leave this up to his son, he knew, deep down, that he
wouldn't be able to keep his control over the pantheon and control a war
at the same time, if Hades was indeed behind this. This was why Zeus had
never kept the role of war God to himself, he didn't have the patience for
it. It takes time to do things right, and he was too pushy.

In this week, though, the dead army had started several riots within the
near cities and towns. Also, starting a minor battle between a stray war
lord and his men. They'd moved over from Rome and Ares had saw them
as no threat, so he let them be. Having them sufficiently culled, now
showed him that this army was out to kill for their leader's glory.

+

Xena had heard about the war lord from Rome quite a while ago, actually,
but now, sitting in a tavern hearing the latest news about how they were
half slaughtered outside of the neighboring town, she drew an interest in
it.

Also, upon hearing that it was rumored that this new war lord was a woman,
this caught her attention. Maybe she could get in to see her and talk some sense
into her. She gathered Gabrielle the next morning, sleepily, almost dragging her
out of bed. Called Joxer from the next room and told him that they were going
soon.

She didn't really feel too good about her decision to bring Joxer, or
Gabrielle for that matter, to the armies camp. But, she felt like she shouldn't
leave them in a town so close to a potential break out for a war. Sure, they could
both take care of themselves, but she shouldn't just leave them to fend for
themselves without properly explaining what was going on. No, she'd just take
them with her and get all three of them to a safer position.

+

It only took them a few hours to make it through to the next town and to the
top of a small hill looking over the army. Xena directed Argo to keep going and
Gabrielle and Joxer followed beside her. They both stayed quiet, stopping their
bickering as they approached the camp.

Xena could tell that there was something just plain wrong with this. She couldn't
put her finger on it, though. She was receiving some rather nasty looks from
several of the men on the outskirts of the camp. They must just know about
her past, maybe she'd wronged them somewhere along the line.

But she wasn't here to resolve little things today. She wanted to talk to their
leader and see what she's up to. Being watched as they made their way into
camp, they were halted and asked their business there when they got about
to the center of it, completely surrounded by a foul stench and hundreds of
men.

They obviously thought she was no threat, as they granted her wish to be
taken to their leader's tent. Surely they could take the three of them down
in no time, but Xena was hoping it wouldn't come to that. She was taking
special care not to disrespect anyone before she knew what was going on.

A stern look to Gabrielle, as she handed her Argo's reins, that said, 'Stay
put. I'll be back in a moment. Keep your mouth shut.'. Joxer also received
a meaningful gaze from the Warrior Princess, telling him to wait quietly and
not to anger any of the men if they came close to them.

+

"Who disturbs me?" The war lord asked when she heard Xena enter her tent.

"My name is Xena," she replied. "I've come to ask what your army is
doing. Perhaps I might be of some sort of service." Offering to help was
always a good thing, Xena thought. Make yourself look to be on the same
side, to begin with. You can always change your mind later. Or have it in
mind from the very start.

"Ah, Xena. I heard you were in the area," the war lord turned and cast a
pale green glare at her. Almost yellow eyes, but you could tell it was an
offshoot of green. "Not a lot of good you'd do if you showed your face
to many more of my troops. There's only one position you'd ever get, and
that's on your knees, offering your services, as you suggested, to their
phallus'."

Xena was irate inside at how this woman was talking to her. She did look
quite familiar though. Same general body type, except larger breasts and
a longer face. No bangs, but long beautiful hair. Xena was getting control
of and restraining herself from attacking the female war lord for her
insult.

Xena was having a hard time believing such nasty words could come out
of such a beautiful mouth, but she supposed many could say the same
about herself.

"They've already spread word throughout the camp that you're here. I do
not think it would be smart to stick around, Xena; you're already responsible
for a considerable amount of their deaths. I'd leave my camp quickly, if I were
you." She sat down at her table and crossed her arms.

Xena glanced at the marvelous view she had of the woman's cleavage,
framed in tight leather, as she curled a lip up in what looked like distaste,
but was also trying not to smile at the sight she was being given. Lewd,
maybe, but she'd grown up being trained by Ares and spent many years
surrounded by soldiers. She didn't think too much of it. Gabrielle certainly
didn't appreciate it, though.

Speaking of the bard, Xena remembered that she and Joxer were waiting
outside for her. Xena nodded her head quickly at the war lord and turned
to leave the tent.

"Good bye, Xena," the woman called after her with a smirk.

Xena turned her head and glanced back at her with a slight glare and a
raised eyebrow as she ducked out of the tent.

+

Xena had been in deep thought, piecing things together, as they got out
of the camp safely, with only a few grabs at Gabrielle. Almost wishing they
did snag her away from her side for a while, maybe that'd shut her up for
a while. And by the look on the bard's face, Xena could only hope that
when they were out of hearing range of the army, that Gabrielle's bitching
and whining would be easy to tune out. She'd started up about something
or other before they'd even reached the edge of the trees.

One of the things the war lord had said had caught Xena's attention. That
she was 'already responsible' for the deaths of many of her men. How could
she be already responsible? She'd changed her ways, and unless there was
something out of her control that would make certain that Xena killed them,
it would have to be the Gods' fault. The Gods, Xena thought; Ares had
crossed her mind while she was in the tent. He should know what's going on.

She'd also heard he was organizing an army, which she remembered had
briefly flitted through her mind at the time she'd recollected her training
with him. She made up her short term plans for the next week or two.

First, she'd make her way to Ares' army and find out what was going on.

+End Chapter IV+



+Chapter V+

"So, Ares is readying his army? Good," the war lord paused and thought to
herself, Xena thinks rather loudly. "I shouldn't have any trouble wiping
them
out, possibly even Ares, too." She laughed at the thought of what Olympus
would do without their war God. Actually, they'd most likely just bump
Discord
into the position. Darn, she thought she'd have a good run at killing a few
of
them off and causing confusion.

One Goddess down, admittedly she was young, and that certainly caused
chaos within two prominent houses. But still all the major deities to go.
All
good things take time, she thought.

+

There was one last town to go through before they would be close to Ares'
army. When the three traveling companions got there, Xena dismounted
from Argo and got him boarded at a stable until she'd picked up a few
supplies. Sending Gabrielle off to pick up a few things, Xena turned to
Joxer.

"Joxer," Xena began and when he turned to look at her she continued, "I
want you to stay in the town until we come back through, alright?"

"But why can't I come? I'm sure you'll need some extra help," Joxer replied.
He
wasn't whining, he just wanted to come. Xena never wanted him to come
when anything exciting was going to happen.

"Because it might be dangerous and I don't want you getting hurt. We can
meet
up after this has been taken care of. I don't want you getting into any
trouble."

Joxer agreed and nodded reluctantly, Xena handed him a bag with a few
miscellaneous things in it, saying that she didn't have room and that it
would be easier if he kept it with him until she got back. He shoved it in
his own
bag and Xena then sent him off to the nearest inn.

The three of them had all met up once more before Xena and Gabrielle were
about to make their way to Ares' army, saying goodbyes and what not. And
not wanting to miss out on the fun, Joxer followed them discreetly to the
edge of town.

After he'd seen them go over the top of a small hill, he decided this was a
good time to start after them. Keeping a safe distance away to watch their
backs in case they got attacked, he could run up and help them.

+

Xena and Gabrielle rode into the camp and got quite a few respectful
nods at the Warrior Princess from Ares' soldiers. Finding their way to
Ares' quarters in the camp, they dismounted and Xena made her way
into the tent.

"Ares," Xena called, not seeing him anywhere in plain sight.

A shimmering flash of dark blue light and Ares appeared, looking rather
perturbed, sitting behind the desk, with a scroll in his hand. "Yes, Xena?
What can I help you with?"

"We want to know what's going on," Gabrielle blurted out, "And to get
you out of the way so we can stop it."

Ares raised an eyebrow as Xena held a hand up to Gabrielle to silence
her. Xena had seen how close Ares' men were to starting to march towards
the other army and wanted to know what was going on: who this female
war lord was and why this was all happening.

When Gabrielle looked like she wasn't about to start screaming something
out again, Xena addressed her father. "I'd like to know who this woman is,
and to help you and your army sort this out. This is peaceful farmland, I'd
hate to see it go to waste over something like this, and I think you believe
the same."

"Xena!" Gabrielle half whispered, half hissed at her as she grabbed an arm
to pull Xena closer to her so she could get her point across, "What are you
doing?! You can't help him!"

"Gabrielle," Xena looked at her, her face clearly saying to shut up and let
her handle this. She was wearing thin on her patience for the bard and
really did want to solve the problem at hand.

When Xena turned her attention, again, back to Ares, she gestured for
him to begin his explanation. "We're ready to start moving up. You can
take command of the second unit, I'll be at the rear of the first. Orders
are to annihilate them."

"What do you know about her?" Xena asked, clearly asking about the
war lord who she'd briefly conversed with earlier. Gabrielle was pacing
around the small tent, obviously irritated as all Tartarus at what was
going on.

"Nothing," Ares said shrugging his shoulders. "She's new to me. Did me a
favor of killing off those Romans, though." He'd been keeping an eye on
them and they would have been a good army if their leader wasn't so
sloppy. But this woman, she was sloppy, too. Obviously, thinking she's
secure enough to let her guard down to certain angles.

"She intent on taking over a large area, as it would seem," Xena said.

"Well, she won't be doing that as long as I'm around," Ares crossed his
arms over his chest and made a questioning glance behind his daughter,
at Gabrielle. She was giving him a headache and he had work to do.

Xena caught it and took the hint, "We'll be ready."

There was a commotion from outside of the tent and it was growing louder
every second. Abruptly, two soldiers backed into the tent dragging a third
man between them.

"Lord Ares," the first soldier bowed his head, "I am sorry for the
interruption.
This man claims to know you and Xena."

Ares grinned at Joxer and his marvelous entrance and took this distraction
as the time to make his own departure, unnoticed. He'd always loved the
silly antics Joxer brought to just about anywhere he stepped foot. He didn't
see him as a bumbling fool, just silly old Joxer. Wonderful to watch on a
day
off, annoying the girls. "Joxer!" Gabrielle exclaimed, clearly outraged by
him
having followed them. She was about to stomp towards him, but Xena held
her arm up in the way.

Xena sighed and excused the men, knowing Ares had already bailed. She helped
Joxer to his feet and frowned at him.


+

Joxer had made his way into the camp a few yards before he was noticed by
the men guarding that area of the perimeter. Stalking up to him and asking
him his business before grabbing him and getting ready to escort him far
enough away from the camp.

"Wait, wait!" Joxer scrambled for what to say. He had been expecting this,
really. He knew he wasn't going to just be able to waltz on in here and
go straight to the command tent. Or think that he could blend in with the
rest of the troops. "I know Ares! And, and, Xena!"

This caught the men's attention as they stopped and asked him, "Yeah?
We'll see about that." They changed directions and began to drag him
in towards the center of the camp, just where he wanted to be.

Joxer was aware the second he was inside the tent because he could
feel Gabrielle's glare already boring into his head. She could give someone
a headache just by being in the same room. He looked up and straight at
his God. He didn't know Ares would be right here, but he was. He briefly
registered his God give a pleasant, thankful grin at him before he silently
flashed out of the tent. The men left and Xena helped him up.

+

"Joxer, what did I tell you?" Xena asked him firmly.

He sighed and slumped his shoulders a bit, "To stay in town. But Xena,"
he quickly added, "You can use my help, I couldn't just sit around at
an inn, while there was going to be lot's of action out here."

Xena sighed, he obviously wasn't going to stay too far away from them
for long. "Alright."

"Since you're already here, I've got a few rules," Xena started. Joxer
nodded rapidly a few times and grinned at her, happy he wasn't going
to be sent away.

"Stay away from the cook's tent and stay at the camp when the army
moves out, ok?"

+

Xena had moved to the unit she was to be in command of and informed
them that she was going to be leading them out. Joxer had been directed
to the second unit's command tent and been ordered to stay put until
they got back.

He watched out the flap of the tent as they began getting the final
preparations ready to march and then watched them leave the camp. He
slipped out of the tent with minimal noise and slowly trailed behind the
soldiers about fifty feet. He was only a short distance behind Xena and
Gabrielle and it would only be several minutes before the first unit would
clash with the opposing army.

+End Chapter V+


+Chapter VI+

Joxer jogged ahead when he was more confident that Xena was involved
in the battle and not paying attention to whether or not he was following
them. He did a good job of blending in with the other warriors, too. But
wanting to be at the head of the action, he began pushing his way through
the lines of men until he was about ten feet behind his friends.

By the time the armies had met and began their fight, Xena had moved to
the side of her unit and began to tackle the dead men close to the edge
of the battlefield. It was easier to pick them off, she thought, and to
make a bigger impact because, who really cares about the sidelines? Most
men would have the instinct to jump into the middle of the fray.

Joxer had followed with the army and he had managed to keep his own
in various fights until he got to Xena and Gabrielle in the battle. Thankful
that he didn't have to fight with too many of the smelly men if he was
near the side with Xena.

He made his way into a clear area and was in plain view for Xena to
catch a glimpse of him before she disposed of the man she was fighting
with. "Joxer!" She yelled out to him. Not too peeved that he'd followed,
as she'd half expected it, but happy to see that if he made it through
without any obvious injuries.

They both crossed a few men's paths before getting to each other,
but they did. "Are you alright?" Xena asked him.

"Yeah, I'm fine, Xena," Joxer said cheerfully. Not cheerful because
of the battle, but because he was a good enough warrior to make
it through a battlefield without any major scratches. He was
proud of himself.

"I want you to get out of here, though, ok? Go back to the camp,"
Xena had turned her back to the opposing side of the field and set
a hand on Joxer's shoulder and looked him in the eyes while she
said this.

That proved to be a mistake, as none other than the leader of the
dead army herself was making her way towards Xena. Xena felt a
familiar feeling that she was being watched and she quickly dismissed
Joxer with a bit of a rough shove in the direction of the camp.

Xena was a bit too rough, as he stumbled sideways while she turned
back around to the battle quickly, leaving Joxer almost right at the
war lords feet. Of course, the over confident woman took this advantage
and raised her sword, ready to split Joxer in two.

+

Ares had been watching the battle in a huge scrying mirror so that he
could monitor their progress, and he could see almost the entirety of
both armies. He was still organizing himself and his godly troops before
he joined the war.

Eris was behind him at another table looking over a few things while
Ares finished what he was doing so they could make their way to
the field. Ares had been monitoring how things were going, glancing
up at the mirror and then back down to jot something down on the
scroll in front of him. Records and what not. Not official; those would
be made afterwards on a new scroll as to leave out the war God's
scribbled notes to himself on the sides.

The dead were easily slaughtered, Ares observed. Whoever this
woman was, she wasn't the smartest thing. Of course, dead people
would be intimidating, maybe that was her goal. He wished he knew
what she wanted, but there would be plenty of time for interrogation
afterwards. After her men had been slaughtered.

Noting a few more things, Ares darted his eyes back to the mirror
and then quickly wrote something down. He frowned slightly and
set his quill down and looked back to the mirror.

Seeing a familiar man in the fray and in a very vulnerable position, he
tensed. He flashed himself to the field, suddenly, and blasted a small
exertion of power at the warlord, staggering her back as Ares knelt
over Joxer protectively.

"You ok?" Ares asked him quickly and Joxer nodded.

Ares helped Joxer up a bit and with a curious and thankful look from Xena,
he flashed himself and Joxer back to his main tent and told him to stay
there.

She composed herself and blocked a blow from the war lord, hoping Ares would
get back here soon. Xena quickly took note of where everyone was. Gabrielle
was lazily fending off one man and not putting much effort at all into doing
much to kill and stop the dead me from advancing. Not protecting anyone on
their own side. Barely having to do any work to keep them away from her. Of
course, that could be because there were only fewer than thirty men
all together, from both sides, near where they were.

With a quick kiss to Joxer's forehead as the God of War sat him down on a
cot,
and flashed back to where Xena and the war lord were in the battle. Mentally
calling to Eris on his way there, she appeared at the same time he did. Eris
had
called Strife to the battle, as well. He was always a good help in
situations like this.

The war lord took two confident steps forward towards the Gods in front of
her.
She stood tall and reached to take her helmet off. She dropped it to the
ground
beside her and her long black hair streamed out and flew wildly around her,
thanks
to the warm breeze that had graced the day with its presence. Golden streaks
were faint to pick out because of its movement, but they were clear as day
to
some in attendance.

+

Strife lost his breath when he saw the beautiful face of the woman he was
here
to harm. A familiar mark on her cheek, a birthmark, running down around her
jaw. Looking almost like a gruesome scar, but he knew it wasn't. This was
his
baby girl. He whispered her name to himself and it was projected to her
mind.

He barely registered her falter and shake her head before continuing her
menacing
advance towards the Gods. Ares, in front, took an equal step towards her,
too, and
being as confident and strong willed as he was, took the first move. He
kicked
her sword out of her hand and quickly restrained her arms.

Eris, thinking quickly, solidified the woman's feet to the ground, rendering
her
unable to move. She then waited for any commands from Ares, since she
wasn't actively involved in this, she could relax and watch him, hoping
she'd
get to watch some live torture.

Strife just stood still, shocked. He'd began crying to himself, letting
several
tears streak down his face. This was the first time he'd seen his baby girl
in
person for three years. He knew she was going to grow at a godly speed, but
this was phenomenal. She looked like both her fathers; a bit darker in her
attitude and current vocation, but, of course, Strife's genes were more
prominent as he had been the one to carry her. That's just how it worked
with male pregnancies.

He was also too flustered and set back by all that he was feeling that he
didn't put much thought into why or how his baby was doing what she had
been doing for the past week.

+

Ares materialized some heavy chains in his hand and bound her wrists
together
with them. Then, summoning the Sword of War in his hand and preparing to
eliminate her. Quick and clean.

Strife having been overcome by too many emotions at once, came back
to reality and realized what was about to happen. Lurching forward to
grab his uncle's arm, he screamed out, "NO!"

Ares whipped his head back to look at his nephew with a vicious snarl
on his face, "Why not?" The anger and superiority put into those words
was amazing. Ares couldn't think of a single reason why he shouldn't
be able to conquer his opponent.

"Because it's my daughter!" Strife almost fell to his knees, but regained
his balance enough by his hold on the God of War's upper arm.

Ares' glare faded slightly to add in his new found confusion, "What?"
Still keeping his grip on both his sword and the girl's wrists, he searched
his own mind and Strife's face for answers to what he meant. He looked
to his sister for any insight to this. She looked confused, as well.

"Oh, Gods, Cupid, it's our baby," Strife called to his husband, almost in
a whisper.

Through their link to each other, Cupid heard it, no matter how quiet
it might have been in all actuality. What Strife had said grabbed at
Cupid's heart and he dropped what he was doing and transported
himself to where his husband was.

+End Chapter VI+


+Chapter VII+

Cupid appeared in the small clearing that was forming around the Gods in the
middle of this battle. Both sides of the army were shying away from them,
not knowing what was going on and slowly dwindling down the fight between
themselves, too. Without the leader of either side there to guide them, they
weren't sure what exactly there were to do.

The God of Love stopped dead when he recognized who was standing, in
chains, in front of his father. He felt his heart do a flip flop in his chest and
he took a deep breath as he moved to Strife's side and wrapped his arms
around him.

Cupid, at least, had some sense to realize that they're in the middle of a
battle and that they should wait until Ares had delt with it, it was his war,
afterall. They couldn't very well impose themselves and think they could
control this, because they can't. Ares was in charge here, so, they'd
wait for his decision.

"Back your army off or you will join them in the Underworld where they
belong," Ares ground out at her, trying to restrain his violent emotions.

She scoffed indignantly at him, "You can't kill me."

"Oh? And why not?" The God of War raised his sword, again, but now
unsure if he could actually kill her if he tried. Not even sure if she was
mortal, or, if Strife was who he said she was, was she still a God?

"One, your son and nephew would have your head. Two, I'd become
more powerful than you would ever be," she explained calmly. Using
the situation of distraught parents to her advantage. And, of course,
a little lie wasn't going to matter here. She didn't want this to end
this way. Keep your cool, she thought to herself.

Ares felt confused, but decided not to make any more of a spectacle
than they already had, in the middle of a battle. He'd continue here
until it was safe to move elsewhere, but he didn't want to be embarassed
by being defeated by this woman. Leaving his emotions inside and keeping
a firm glare on his face, he answered her, "Fine."

//Strife?// Ares questioned.

//That's my daughter, Ares, don't you dare hurt her. I'll set the damn Furies
on your ass if you even contemplate it. I'll make your life hell,// Strife angrily
shared his thoughts with his uncle. It was much easier to keep your voice
steady and the way you wanted it, in your head than out loud. He was
almost sure that he'd break down crying if he even attempted to open his
mouth to say anything again.

//Ares, you know we can do it,// Cupid added his bit into unspoken
conversation. Being linked to his father and his husband, it wasn't hard
for him to pick it up. His own anger towards the situation clearly showing
up in his mental voice.

Ares thought about this, after receiving the threats of enternal bad luck. Love
and Mischief were very powerful together and even if they weren't capable
of major occurances, the little ones would drive you mad. //Relax, boys, I
won't hurt her. Call Apollo.//

//Unc, I don't trust that sneaky, pompous bastard.//

Ares trained his glare on Strife, "Do it."

Strife looked to Cupid. The Love God had a better relationship with their
uncle than Strife did. Cupid picked up on the unsaid question written on
his husbands face and he summoned the Sun God.

+

Apollo materialized a few second later in an arrogant show of shiny gold
flecks, "Yes?" He asked his brother, with a quick glance around the new
environment he'd just brought himself into. Feeling tension building between
himself and everyone here. Becoming was very nervous and paranoid about
this situation.

"Brother, check this girl," Ares indicated the supposed daughter of Strife
with a twitch of his blade in her direction, "Tell me of any alterations
or abnormalities."

Apollo nodded and took a deep breath, hoping this all went well. He was glad
he hadn't been called to be asked questions about anything. Just for his job,
something he was good at, medical stuff. Yeah, he could make it through this
alright.

But if this went to shit, should he be trying to put the blame on someone
else, so he can weasel away unharmed? Or be nice to his dear partner in
crime and help her out? Putting his hands to either side of her head, he
closed his eyes and let some of his power seep into her, beginning a small
search.

A minute later he disengaged his hands from her and stepped back, "I found
nothing wrong with her."

After he'd become more stable with his emotions for the time being, Strife
stepped forward, followed by Cupid, who still had his arms around his
husband. "Unc, come on, this ain't right."

Strife pulled out of Cupid's arms to step closer to the God of War. Cupid
was reluctant to let go, but he complied and crossed his arms, looking at
his father with an unsatisfied look on his face.

"And what do you suggest?" Ares asked, secured his grip on the chains.

Strife turned back to Cupid and they shared a look. In a few moments, a
small burst of golden light hailed the arrival of the God of Medicine.

"What do you need?" Asclepius asked, looking around for anyone who was
injured. He frowned slightly and turned to Strife, the one who'd called him
here.

"Do every godly scan you can on my baby girl," Strife said gesturing to the
woman Ares held in chains. He was worried and it was showing on his face. He
hoped his baby wouldn't do something like this willingly. It was insane. Granted,
she could have got that trait from him, Strife thought, but it was still loco. There
was no way she would be more powerful than Ares.

Ace didn't know this girl. He also wasn't aware that Strife had any other children
since Devilina. But judging from the situation and what was going on around them,
he was wondering just what was going on. Asclepius made his way up to her and
put a calm hand against her forehead. She began to look uncomfortable and her
body tensed. The God of Medicine held his hand firm to her head and she began
to thrash her head from side to side.

His father was here, and he felt a trace of the Sun God's power on the girl in front
of him. Why would they need a second opinion? And surely his father would have
a better knowledge of what was going on with this all, why would they want a
slightly less accurate opinion?

A warm orange glow surged over her body, starting at her head, from Ace's
power. Suddenly, Ace jerked his hand back and shook his head to clear it. He
reached his other hand to his temple and rubbed in a circular motion over top
of it. He'd just got a jolt of energy directed at him and it was painful.

Mentally telling Ares what had happened. Ares looked furious and concerned,
he sheathed his sword and the rest of the Gods present noticed the enforced
sheild that was now put up all around them, courtesy of the War God.

Ace took a deep breath and steadied himself. He began to form a bright orange ball
of power in his hands. He slowly released the energy, shooting out in crackling lines
to the girl. Making contact with her on her chest and pulsing upwards, she began
screaming and thrashing more furiously, clearly upset with what was happening.

Apollo looked panicked. Eris looked at cupid and told him to keep his cool, hold
Strife. Cupid complied and took his husbands hand in his own, telling him it was
okay, that Ace wasn't hurting her. Eris tapped Apollo on the shoulder. He looked
at her and tried to look calm. The look in her eyes purely said, 'you're fucked if
you had anything to do with this,'. What came out of her mouth was, "Stay put,
Golden Boy."

+End Chapter VII+


+Chapter VIII+

Athena, who had been monitoring the rest of the war from Olympus, materialized
outside the shield. The battle had winded down without their leaders. So, they had
stopped to watch the goings on inside the shield and half moved back to their camps.

She called to Ares and he altered the sheild's componants to let his sister inside. The
Goddess of War noted all who were present and moved to her brother's side as she
watched the God of Medicine do his thing.

With a final violent jerk of the girl's body a bright orange light flashed and the form
separated into two. Two identical girls stood in front of them. The new form started
to fade and morph into a familiar figure seen on Olympus for several years
now; Psyche.

She growled low and her breathing was heavy. Ares still had a hold on the chains that
held her wrists. As Devilina wobbled a bit from the shock of being split from her possessor,
Ares was there to catch her before she hit the ground. Ace took her from Ares and handed
moved her to Xena and into her arms. Strife and Cupid move down to her side, too, to
see their daughter.

+

Ares materialized some Hephaestian chains and replaced the ones around Psyche's wrists
with them instead of the normal ones, before she regained enough strength to try and
flash away. She'd started blabbing about how it wasn't her fault, Apollo was using
her. This only proved to irritate the entire collection of deities and mortals there. Ares
thoughtfully materialized a gag for her, as well.

He turned to apollo. Eris had a death grip on his arm. He wasnt going anywhere. Ace
stood from checking on Devilina, making sure she was okay and looked at his father,
"How could you? Harming this poor girl. It was you who arranged her murder wasn't it?
You poor bastard. I won't ever regret any punishment you got, even if it's my fault, in
your world, that got you found out."

Apollo spluttered and insisted he had nothing to do with it, before he was interrupted
by Athena. She stepped up in between father and son, "What if she was only using him?
She is the Goddess of the Mind," she reminded everyone.

"Yes, she is," Ares agreed. "You have never said a good word about this arrogant bastard
in your life, Athena, what makes you think that?" He got an idea and looked
to Ace.

Asclepius took the hint, he moved and put his hand on Athena's forehead and
concentrated. He removed his hand a moment later and nodded his head. She was the
one being used. Apollo had gotten to her, too. How else would either of those two
idiots have any idea on how to control an army?

+

Athena, now knowing all that Ace and Ares had found out during this little interrogation
session, turned to Apollo. She looked to her sister, Eris. They didn't often have something
in common, but these moments when they did, it sure was precious for Discord to see this
look in Athena's eyes. Eris let go her hold of Apollo and gestured for the Goddess of War to
go ahead. Athena looked up at Apollo and slapped him hard in the face.

He fell to the ground, startled. You dont think the Goddess of War wouldn't know where
to land a simple blow to knock someone down? Well, Apollo obviously did. In the second
before he was struck, he purely looked like he could never be harmed by a measely female,
godly or not. Athena took in an accomplished breath and flashed herself out of sight and
the sheild, back to Olympus, after a look to Ares that said, 'He's all yours,'.

Ares snapped his fingers and another set of Hephaestian chains spurted up out of
the ground and around Apollo's wrists and legs, knocking him onto the ground. Ares
took hold of the chain and yanked Apollo into a sitting position.

"Alright!" Ares was a bit ticked off now. He turned to Eris, "Take these two to the
Halls of Justice and wait for everyone." He handed the chains that held Psyche and
Apollo captive to his sister. The Goddess of Discord gave them both a little playful
tug before flashing back to Olympus.

"Strife, Cupid?" Ares asked, wanting them to get ready to leave, too. He wanted this
all cleared up as soon as possible. The two Gods stood and lifted their semi unconcious
daughter up with them. Strife put her weight all in the God of Love's arms, since he was
stronger than her and Strife didn't want to chance dropping his baby. Cupid and Devilina
faded from view, to Olympus.

Strife set a hand on Xena's shoulder and transported them to Olympus. Ace extended a
hand to Gabrielle, who was looking at where Xena had been standing, she was panicked.
She'd never been to Olympus before and she was sure she'd be killed by someone's
negligence, or them being smart enough to figure out who the two God's plans
involved.

Asclepius was patient and waited for Gabrielle to stop looking around frantically for an
escape route. When Gabrielle finally took his hand he transported them both to Olympus.

Ares let out a small laugh, amused at how stupid Gabrielle was. He flashed himself back to his
army camp and sorted out what all had transpired while he was attending more important
matters. He left a scroll for his general detailing his orders. He then moved to his command
tent.

Joxer was sitting behind Ares' desk and looking through and reading the various maps and
scrolls laying upon it. When he noticed Ares was standing in front of the desk watching
him he shuffled them into a neat pile quickly and stood up. Looking rather sorry for having
gone through the God of War's papers.

Ares smiled at him. He thought it was cute that Joxer thought he'd be angry at him for
looking at them. They're just war plan. Any important things were in his temple on
Olympus. He didn't trust them down on Earth.

Ares lifted a hand and gestured for Joxer to come around the desk. Joxer did, slowly,
hoping he wasn't in trouble. Joxer stiffened when Ares lifted a hand to his head and
transfered all the knowledge of what had happened while he was in the tent. Joxer
hadn't really wanted to stay there, but if his God thought it was best, he would do
it.

He frowned and was a bit confused after Ares took his hand away. Ares smiled at
him reassuringly and picked up Joxer's bad off of the chair it was sitting on and
handed it back to joxer who put the strap over his shoulder. "Come on," Ares
said, holding out his arm.

Joxer tentatively stepped into Ares' personal space wondering where they were
going. Ares wrapped his arm around Joxer's waist and flashed them to Olympus
and the Halls of Justice.

+End Chapter VIII+


+Chapter IX+

They appeared in the Halls of Justice and Order on Olympus. The Halls were
there for the purpose of holding any Olympian trials and used for various
other
formal functions of the Gods. Petitioning of things between the Gods,
meetings,
etc.

Everything was a decor of white and light greys, light aquas, teals, blues
and
greens. Curtains that looked like they couldn't decide what shade to stick
with,
so, they blended back and forth through them all. Wide, low steps with
various
types and shapes of cushions and pillows adorning them, lined the outer rim
of
the room and spreading up into the center.

Eris had rearranged the chains on the two captives. They now had metal belts
around their throats, wrists and ankles. All linked together, from metal D
rings,
with chains made of power negating Hephaestian metal.

Strife gestured for Xena to find a seat somewhere. Then he rushed to Cupid
and his slowly reviving daughter and found his own seating with them. Athena
was sat down, waiting. Eris stood guard beside Apollo and Psyche, both of
them on their knees in front of the panel of judges thones.

Ares was standing on a higher platform in the room. It had three thrones on
it. The God of War moved to one and sat down, thinking and waiting for
something. When he and Joxer had arrived, Ares had told him to just wait
with Xena until it was all finished.

When Xena had sat down, Joxer moved from basically standing in the middle
of the room, shocked and not knowing where to do, to sitting down beside
his frequent travelling companions. Gabrielle looking rather nervous and
antsy.

Hera was the first of the rest of the Gods to arrive. Strife and Cupid had
both
sent out absent prayers, thankful that their child was back and their family
was together again.

Aphrodite was next, feeling the loving and happy emotions coming from Cupid
and Strife. She hadn't felt anything this strong from them in a while, not
since
their baby died. Hephaestus was with his wife and had also noticed several
items of his metal be summoned up by the Gods in the last half hour.

Ares took note of the Gods that were already there and began summoning
the rest of them. Artemis appeared, out of concern for her twin, but sighing
in a way that everyone knew meant, 'Oh, Tartarus, what has he got into now?'

Hermes and Dionysus came next, from Ares' calling. Hermes looked around
and took stock of who wasn't there yet and took it upon himself to get
the rest of them. He was sure Ares was about to ask him to do so, anyway.

Hermes reappeared a minute later with Demeter and Poseidon. The God of
the Sea immediately took a seat in the last empty throne. Hera in the other
and Ares in the last. Ares vacated his seat and nodded to his mother. Hera
called for her husband.

Zeus appeared and found his entire pantheon, plus some, were in the Halls,
waiting for something to be done. Zeus noted who was in chains and
,obviously,
they were the ones to be judged.

Zeus took his seat.

+

Ares was standing to the side of the two captives. Eris was still on the
other
side. She looked very dangerous. No one would ever dare touch her when she
was in that mood, except her brother.

"Ares?" After Zeus was comfortable in his throne, he questioned his son as
to
why they were all here.

"Father, we have found the Goddess Psyche guilty for demonicly possessing
and controlling the thoughts and movement of my son's daughter, Devilina."

"The God Apollo, guilty for aiding Psyche in altering the memory and
thoughts
of Strife and Cupid's daughter. As well as putting a memory block and
compulsion
on the Goddess Athena."

"And you have proof of all your accusations?" Zeus asked, frowning. Why had
he not known anything of this until now?

"Yes," Ares opened up his mind to his father and shared all the information
learned today. Zeus' eyes closed as he took it all in. He took a breath and
distributed the information to the rest of the members of the pantheon.

There were several murmers coming from around the room as the members
of the pantheon discussed what all had went on in the past week. "Olympians,
what is your verdict?" Zeus asked.

It was unanimous. Everyone has agreed that they are guilty and should be
punished. Zeus stood from his throne and called for silence. "Apollo will be
stripped of his godly powers and be left immortal, on earth, for a period to
be later determined. Ares, you will be responsible for keeping him out of
trouble and any extra punishment you deem worthy."

"Psyche will be permanently stripped of her godhood and be returned to
her life as she was before her little escapade with Cupid. Discord and Ares,
you have a time period of two hours from the time their sentences take
effect to take retribution." Zeus gave his judgement and waved his hand
in the direction of the two chained.

+

Eris took this chance to throw a punch at Psyche's head, knocking her
unconcious. Ares observed and smirked at his impatient sister. Hera shook
her head at them both, knowing that they'd surely come up with something
horrid to put their brother through. Even the simplest of things, to a
mortal,
would drive Apollo insane and they both knew it.

Random thoughts were swimming around Ares' mind, ranging from lice or a
pimple to possibly even stringing his dear brother up from chains in a joint
temple to himself and his twin and letting all his 'icky, dirty' warriors,
as
Apollo had put it many times, have their way with him.

//Sounds good to me, bro,// the Goddess of Discord had been listening in
on the God of War's thoughts. He turned his head to her with a curious
look on his face. She grinned at him and before they could silently
converse any further, their father spoke.

"I, Zeus, hereby strip my son Apollo and the ex-mortal Psyche of their
divinity."

A bolt of lightning, most likely just for show, struck the ground at the
base of the moutain with a very loud crack. Making everyone that wasn't
in the Halls of Justice aware that something major had happened. At the
time their godly powers were stripped, continuing from the initial thunder
of the lightning bolt, there started a deep rumbling sound and everything
slowly started to shake.

Zeus waited for a moment, thinking that maybe he exaggerated that a little
bit too much. When the shaking continued Zeus frowned and turned to his
brother, Poseidon. "What are you doing?!" Zeus yelled out at him.

"Nothing!" The God of the Sea yelled back. He wasn't the only person who
could cause earthquakes, but this one was looking to be a doozy. Not
too many others would do that on purpose, or even to this magnatude,
without help.

Suddenly, it stopped and there was a flash of black sparks appearing
in the air as Hades arrived, looking extremely angry.

+End Chapter IX+




+Chapter X+

Hades was in a rage. He got angrier when he realized Eris had already
taken care of Psyche's concious state and knocked her out of it. He was
left with his nephew, Apollo. He readied a ball of black energy and blasted
it straight at the Sun God. Apollo gasped and fell to his knees and flumped
over to the floor at the pain surging through his body and eventually
throwing
him into an unconcious state as well.

"ZEUS!" Hades thundered out at him and stomping angrily up to his brother.

"Hades, brother, stay calm. We've worked this out," Zeus tried to reassure
him. He didn't want to have another mess on his hands. Hades was always
such a party pooper about official things.

"Worked it out? Do you have any *idea* what kind of state my kingdom is
in?!" Hades threw his arms up in frustration before venting all that had
been
so harshly rushed to his attention only moments before.

"Thousands of the dead have been pulled from my realm and into the land of
the living. My minions are in chaos with having been unconcious for such a
long
period of time. I felt two very distinct Olympian power signatures all over
my
domain. Belonging to your Sun God and Mind Goddess. I see you've already
punished them, my thanks to you for that, but I'll be taking what belongs
to me, now. The dead they have taken from me for their army, along with
that girl." Hades pointed to Strife and Cupid's direction and they feared
that
their baby would be taken away once more. Their baby, who was now a full
grown woman and who was now fully awake.

She stood up when hades had pointed her out, Strife grasping onto his
daughter
as she stood and standing with her.

"I do not belong to you," Devilina stated, daring to stand up to the God of
the
Dead, when she was technically under his full power. Strife was about to
panic
and Cupid had pulled him back down to the cushions and held him there, once
again telling him everything would be okay.

"A lie. You have died, you belong in the Elysian Fields," Hades said firmly.

"I will not return to the Underworld under your rule," she stood her ground.

"The only dead that aren't under my rule are renegades and you werent moved
into your current position willingly, you are not a rebel. The only other
that..."
Hades tailed off and frowned as he collected his thoughts. A bit shocked, he
clued in to something. A look of understanding settled on his face.

"..will return without my ruling over them is..." he trailed off again, only
to be
joined in his conclusion.

Silently, the Fates flashed into the room. "The one who will take the throne
of
the dead," Hades and the three women finished in unison.

Several confused outbursts and chatter between the observing Gods broke
out. "Quiet," Zeus commanded, but all he got were more hushed conversations,
"What? What are you talking about?"

"Well," Hades said, sighing. He'd spent many years fearing this day, but had
come
to realize it was nothing to worry about. "I've had centuries to figure this
one out,
Zeus, but I'm going to let the ladies take this one."

Hades gestured to the three Fates and nodded acknowledge for them to begin.
Everyone turned their attention to them and they started to speak.

"In turmoil and chaos," the quiet voice of Clotho began.

"Two houses will have been," proceeded Lachesis

Atropos held the next line, "A ruler be found, dead."

And, finally, all together, the women finished, "Who has reign, will be
free'd."

Everyone looked to Devilina and then they weren't sure who to look to for
guidance at the moment. Zeus sighed, "Well, that's one of the vaguest I've
heard from you three," he said, frustrated. Not even bothering to think that
it didn't even concern barely any of his realm of control, that's why he'd
not
had any knowledge of this prior.

Lachesis let a smirk cross her lips as the three Fates bowed to the King of
the
Gods. "Hades, it will begin now," Atropos informed him.

Hades nodded and made his cape vanish. He stood very still, his audience
quiet. A dark ball of energy began to form at his chest and he tensed as if
he was in pain. He let out a small groan as the pulsing orb of darkest blue
and black energy disengaged from his chest. He took it in his hands and
carried it over to Devilina.

He used his power to open her shirt, splitting it in half, exposing her
breasts. Strife
had a small protest against that, he was about to stand and grab her shirt
closed,
to cover them. He was knocked back by an energy sheild around them.

"You must wait, young Mischief," Clotho told him. Looking into his eyes, she
could
tell he really didn't want to, he wanted to protect his child. Loosing her
once
was bad enough, he really didn't want it to happen again. It would be worse
if
he even had to stand by and watch, not able to do anything.

"Just wait. It'll be over soon," Cupid told his husband, wrapping an arm
around
Strife's shoulders and kissing his cheek.

Devilina stared deep into Hades' eyes. His were locked on hers as he came to
stand in front of her. He took the ball of energy and pushed it into her
chest
slowly, between her breasts. When the ball had been fully absorbed into her
body she began to gather a black glow around her and she let out a painful
moan as she took it all in. Strife resisted the urge to try and ease his
baby's
pain as the glow faded and she was left breathing heavy and exhausted.

She straightened her body and took a deep breath before holding a hand out
to Hades, who had sunk to his knees at the temporary loss of all his energy,
and half his power. He took her offered hand and he stood.

The Fates once more chimed in, "Behold Devilina, holder of the Throne
of the Dead. Queen of the Underworld."

+End Chapter X+



+Chapter XI+

From within the confusion of voices, one rose out more prominently. "What
about Persephone?" Aphrodite questioned.

"She is my wife and always will be. We will still live in the Underworld and
she
will retain her original Olympian godly duties."

"What about you?" Ares inquired.

"Yes, Hades, what about you?" Zeus asked, still more than a little peeved at
being left out of a loop here.

"Simple. I am no longer the ruler of the Underworld. My godhood has been
given to Devilina. I am an Asphodelian and will receive my new godhood
from my Queen. Any duties I fulfilled in the past with Olympians she will
now be taking my place in. The same goes for within her kingdom, now.
Her realm, her rules."

The hall was silent. It was a big thing to take in: one of the major rulers
of Greece, abjecting his throne. The many gods all had to stop and let
this sink in. But, one deity thought this would be his chance to mention
something. He never was one to interrupt, but sometimes a guy just had
to.

A slight cough was the only noise to be made in the room and pushing his
embarassment at drawing everyone's attention to himself, Asclepius, the
owner of the intrusive cough.

"Ace? Did you need to say something?" Ares asked his rather shy nephew.

The God of Medicine stood up, "There is one more thing I think I should
bring to the attention of the pantheon."

"What is it, young one?" Zeus said politely, Ace was rather cute and he
enjoyed watching the flush that the boy got when he addressed him.

Ace was flustered for a moment before getting on with business. "When
I was in Psyche's mind and and memory, I received a lot of information
about Devilina and this mortal," he stood to the side and gestured to
Gabrielle.

"She is the one responsible for the act of murder commited on the baby,
Devilina." Ace finished, sitting down and taking a deep breath as the
focus of the entire room was now shifted towards the mortal woman.

An array of emotions and whispers came forth from the members of
the pantheon. Several of the Gods didn't even knew who she was,
but they definately couldn't do with her killing their relatives, could
they?

Gabrielle turned to Xena, immediately. Xena was looking right back at
her in shock. The warrior was replaying her memories of the night of
her half brother's wedding and the rather long 'bathroom break' that
Gabrielle had taken during the middle of the party. She also knew that
Hermes rather disliked Gabrielle, and knew that he wouldn't put up with
talking to her any more than what was neccesary.

It wasn't a very good excuse, she thought. Perhaps Gabrielle didn't have
the potential that Xena once thought she did, she obviously wasn't the
shiniest sword in the armory. Xena's newly arisen facts made her shock
turn to belief of the accusation and she looked at the bard with contempt.

Gabrielle saw this and gave up on getting Xena on her side in this, she then
turned to Joxer, who was to her other side. Joxer was already shaking his
head and looked at gabrielle with disgust. He got up and went to sit beside
Aphrodite, at least he slightly knew her and could be safe with her for the
time being, he thought.

"Jox..." Gabrielle began, staring after the man she thought adored her. Deep
down she knew it wasn't true, that she was making it up in her head, but
she just knew he was a weak minded idiot, she could surely change his
mind about it.

"You never did like Strife and Cupid as a couple," Xena began, drawing
Gabrielle's attention back to her, "and you were gone quite a while to
the chamber pots. Longer than you've ever needed to take before. And
you came back looking fine, not like you were sick."

"But, Xena," Gabrielle laughed in disbelief that her friend could think she
did this, "You can't believe them, they're Gods, you hate them!"

"They are part of my family, Gabrielle, I don't turn my back on that. We
have differences, but I wouldn't murder any of them just because I thought
that they could have a better relationship with someone else," Xena was
getting rather angry at her supposed friend now.

"I can't believe you, your face says it all," Xena said, disgustedly. It was
true,
though, Gabrielle did look exactly how Xena had said. "You weak minded,
fool,
you couldn't even resist being swayed by that skank of a Goddess."

"Wait, Xena," Ace dared to pull himself back into the center of focus again,
"Psyche did use her, but she *did* obey her and that had to be willingly.
Psyche's signature wasn't found in the nursery when Dev was found dead. If
she was possessing or had a compulsion on Gabrielle, it would have shown up
with a power trace. She did it voluntarily."

That only upset Xena more, "You bitch! She was a child! A baby!" Xena lifted
a hand, ready to slap Gabrielle across her face. And thats just what she
did.
In the hushed room provided by the silence that had over come the Gods, the
slap almost echo'd through the hall. Gabrielle fell to the floor in a
dejected heap.

While Xena's anger escalated towards Gabrielle, Devilina had made her way to
stand before both of them. When Xena was finished with her former friend,
the
newly instated Goddess was standing over Gabrielle's body.

"Enjoy your stay in tartarus, honey," Devilina grinned an evil grin at her
as she
held up a hand with a black ball of energy growing in it. She tipped her
palm
and let it slip from her hand, falling to make contact with Gabrielle's
stomach.

Gabrielle automatically grabbed for her stomach as she began to scream and
thrash from the pain, as she slowly disintigrated into nothing but a few
particles
of dust.

"Hmm," Devilina hummed contentedly, having taken care of one matter, before
she turned back to the rest of the room.

+End Chapter XI+




Chapter XII+

Devilina stood and concentrated as she took a deep breath and closed her
eyes. Slowly she reopened them and addressed the room, "The dead
have been cleared from the land of the living and are safely back in their
places in the Underworld. My apologies for any inconveniences."

It was mostly directed at the God of War because of the armies clashing and
his having lost some men. Ares nodded his thanks to her.

"Now are there any other issues that need to be dealt with today?" Zeus
asked.

No one spoke up. The King of the Gods glanced around the room looking for
anyone who would have an objection. "Alright. Thank everyone for their
time."

Zeus flashed out of the room to return to whatever he was doing. He was glad
this didn't turn out to be a gigantic mess. But now that everything seemed
to
be alright, he'd just leave the rest of the clean-up to Ares. He was
followed by
Poseidon, who didn't really have any purpose being there other than being a
judge to something he didn't even know what was going on, anyway. Hera
had said hello to Strife and Cupid and blessed their reunited family before
she and her sister Demeter left. Athena and Dionysus left after that.
Hermes approached the new Queen of the Dead.

"My lady," he interrupted her thoughts and she turned towards him. Hermes
bowed, "Do you need my services in delivering any messages to your domain
before you return?"

"Hermes, yes, I do think it would be best to let them know what's
going on. I can sense quite a disturbance going on down there." Devilina
answered the Messenger.

Hermes nodded and a scroll materialized in Devilina's hand. She
handed it to him and he flashed out of the room with it, to the
Underworld.

Devilina moved to stand in front of Psyche and Apollo, who had
both regained consciousness. Psyche looked rather sheepish and
no doubt she felt stupid, she was looking down towards the floor
with her head hung low.

Psyche saw elegant toes and straps of black leather in front of her face.
Only a second to think about what was going on before her head was
kicked back with an ugly snapping sound to look at the Goddess in front
of her.

Devilina looked at her distastefully and sighed. Psyche was gone in a
shimmer of black sparks. She moved to Apollo. She had nothing to say to him.
"Artemis, remove your brother from my presence." With that said, she
unlocked the chains holding him as his twin came to his side and lifted
him to his feet and flashed outof the room.

She looked to Hephaestus next, "Thank you for acknowledging my power
to access your chains, Hephaestus."

He nodded and gave a small smile. Devilina smiled sweetly back at
him, "You are dismissed."

The God of Fire flashed out of the room and Aphrodite followed after him,
seeing as Devilina was in charge here and was trying to clean up. She didn't
have too much of a place here.

"Now that everything here is taken care of... " She smiled to herself and in
a black flash, her clothes had changed. She was now wearing a long, silky,
black dress with a thin mesh overcoat over top. Her eyes had also changed
color,
from the darling blue she got from her father, Strife, to a black static
energy,
crackling within the iris of her eyes.


Joxer had moved back to Xena's side and they were standing, quite shocked,
and almost afraid of what was going to happen. Strife and Cupid had stood
and
were watching their daughter, afraid to touch her and incur the wrath of
the new Queen of the Underworld, even if she was their baby girl.

Devilina looked to Hades and opened her arms to hug him. He returned her
hug. "Thank you, Lord Hades. You will have a lovely life under my rule in
Asphodel."

Hades smiled at her and flashed out of the room, back to the Underworld to
sort things out, from the commands that Dev had sent to him mentally.

She then noted all who were left in the room and looked to her fathers. "We
will have all the time in the world to spend together. But my duties
come first, you must understand."

Strife was still very shook up to really say much, he just looked at his
baby with so much happiness in his eyes. He wanted to just reach out
and hug her forever. Cupid held him close to his chest, "It's alright, Dev.
Go
do your thing. We'll be here." The God of Love smiled at his daughter,
happy she was back.

She smiled thankfully at them and turned in Xena and Joxer's direction.
Joxer looked a bit shocked. Did he do something wrong? She smiled at
him and he relaxed a bit. //Joxer, you are safe, don't worry,// she
reassured him.

Devilina walked to face them. "Xena, I must praise you for the ability to
realize and accept the failure your... friend has brought upon herself," she
grasped Xena's hand from where it was hanging by the Warrior Princess'
side and brought it up to her lips, giving it a small kiss.

Xena actually blushed and smiled back at her. "Don't worry. I wont hurt her
too much," Devilina winked at Xena, "I can feel your concern for her, even
if she betrayed you and your blood."

Turning to Ares she addressed one of the main issue's of the day, "I'm sorry
for any men you've lost in any battles today. I will return them from
shade to mortal if you wish?"

The God of War thought about that for a moment. "Nah, don't worry about it.
I appreciate the offer, but we needed to cull some off anyway."

"As you wish." She turned to Eris, "My thanks go out to you too, Eris."

Eris nodded and, taking the hint, flashed out to play with her new toys,
pouting because she couldn't be too rough with them, but, she
shrugged inwardly, at least she got to torture someone new.

+End Chapter XII+




+Chapter XIII+

"I should be getting back to my realm and restore its order," Devilina
stated. "Xena, would you like to join me?"

Xena looked flustered and looked to Joxer, she didn't know what she should
do. She wanted to go, but she didn't quite want to leave Joxer on Olympus.

Joxer grinned at her, "Go, I'll be fine." He really was tentative about
being left here, but he guessed he could just call Aphrodite and get taken
back to Earth.

"Alright," she reluctantly agreed, "But I'll be back and check up on
you soon!" Xena took Devilina's hand and in a flash of black dust, which
dissolved into the air once they were gone; they went down to Asphodel.

Joxer smiled as his friend disappeared. He looked around. Only Cupid,
Strife, Ares and himself were left in the room. "Well, that was a lot to take in,"
Cupid said. The other three men added their agreement.

"I'm sure she'll be busy for the rest of the day, at least. Strife? Let's go
home and get some rest and talk, huh?" Cupid asked his husband, giving him
a small kiss on the cheek.

"Yeah," Strife didn't have too much to say at the moment, he was
too caught up in all that had happened that day. And he was very
much still stunned at his baby returning. He had almost settled into
an eternity of discontentment at his loss; he wasn't too sure how to
react to this.

Strife returned his husband's kiss, but on his lips and they both flashed
out of the room in an odd gold and blue flash.

"So, uh... " Joxer began, not knowing what to do. He was alone in
a hall on Olympus with the God of War. He was just standing there, he
almost felt stupid to say anything, but supposed it would look even more
stupid if he didn't.

Ares turned to look at the mortal left in the room alone with him. He
smiled a bit.

"Mind sending me back to where I left off?" He smiled back shyly
at Ares.

Ares pouted, "What about me?" he asked jokingly, moving towards
Joxer.

Joxer gaped at him and his mouth opened and closed a few times,
making him resemble a fish as he tried to find a response to that. Ares
grinned at him, "Come on, Jox."

Joxer was very surprised as Ares moved to him and put an arm around his
waist for the second time today and flashed them out of the room.

+

In the Underworld, three days later, a ceremony to initiate Devilina as the
new ruler of the Underworld and Hades' new vocation.

Strife, Cupid and Bliss were there, they had a bit of time to spend with her
daughter in between her wanting to spend time with Xena and with her
kingdom.

They were all so happy. Bliss got to meet his very big little sister, and he
had been very happy about that. Strife and Cupid had come out of their
depression and were the loveable Gods they once were.

Ares and Joxer were there. Joxer had been staying with Ares and they were
getting along great. Ares had a friend and so did Joxer. The start of a
wonderful relationship for both of them. They were happy.

Devilina and Xena came out of a door to the side of the room and stood at
the front of the room. It went quiet in the hall as they stepped up onto the
raised stone that held the two thrones of the Underworld monarchs.

"I would like to thank everyone who has came to Asphodel to celebrate with
us," Devilina said to the room. "I would also like to present my consort, Xena."
She said with a smile, as Xena blushed and the room was full of several
surprised gasps and a few I-told-you-so's. There was a great applause
and they both took their seats on the thrones. They were very happy.

It was a small ceremony, really. Only close family and many of the Gods that
had been used while Psyche and Apollo had a control of sorts over them. It
was found out that Psyche had seduced several Dream Gods and had
placed a compulsion on them to keep Hades in a deep sleep,
while she and Apollo took his form, giving orders for whatever they wished.

When Psyche and Apollo lost their powers, anyone imprisoned,
possessed or under any sort of compulsion were released. Heralding Hades'
angry return to find out what had happened in the time he was under their
control. Morpheus had woken him, fearing for his life, as he had the power to
do this on his own and didn't want his King to turn on him. Quickly explaining
as best he could, as much as he knew about the situation before Hades had
stormed out of Asphodel and up to Olympus.

At the ceremony, they'd all settled down and were talking quietly
amongst themselves.

"Well," Strife said, finally having got his emotions under control and
being as happy as he could ever remember being.

"What?" Cupid asked him. Watching his winged son run off to his
big sister's side, he smiled at them both.

"Guess we have time for that honeymoon, now," he grinned at the
God of Love.

Cupid laughed at his husband and tilted his head towards him for a
kiss as they flashed out of Asphodel to their private mountain cabin.

+End+


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