Congratulations, all of you lucky people. You get to read another one of my short stories. Isn’t it wonderful? I’ve been working on a sci-fi book with the premise that the Ancient Greek gods were just powerful aliens from another world who came to Earth for a visit, and that their powers were greatly exaggerated as the stories were passed from generation to generation. The “gods” retreated to their own world and decided to no longer visit other planets. The book follows the adventures of Xena (based on a character that I created for a Star Trek RPG, actually), the daughter of Poseidon and Amphitrite, who, as a rebellious “teenager,” runs away from her home planet. A few months ago, I sat down and wrote a short story to serve as a prequel to the actual novel. I’m giving you part 1 today, so I hope you enjoy!
“I will give you one last chance,” Evar growled at the figure kneeling in front of him, anger written clearly across his face. “Who are you?”
The object of his anger, a young woman with dark brown hair, just laughed lightly. “I already told you. I’m Xena. That’s really all you need to know, idiot.” Evar’s fist slammed into her jaw, and her head snapped back. She acted completely unconcerned. “We’ve been at this for hours. Don’t you have anything better to do?”
Evar’s brown eyes narrowed in frustration. “Guards!” he called, and two armored men stepped forward. “Take her to the dungeon while I decide what to do with her,” he ordered. They nodded, pulled the prisoner to her feet, and marched her out of the room as their master watched, puzzled. His men had caught the girl trespassing on his lands earlier in the day. Upon noting her strange garments, they had arrested her and brought her before their liege lord. He’d been interrogating her for some time now, but she treated it all like a game, answering all questions with either her name or a cool, condescending sentence. That she was not of Kayi, Evar knew for certain. The blood that trickled from the stranger’s mouth was golden in color, not blue like the inhabitants of this world, and her clothes were made of some material that Evar had never seen before. No, this ‘Xena’ was not of this world. The sages had often spoken of people from the stars, but the people of Kayi, including Evar himself, had always dismissed it. Until now, that is. He desperately wanted to know more, but the stranger wouldn’t satiate his curiosity. He would let her sit in the dungeon for a few days…perhaps time without food and light would cause her to rethink her silence. It shouldn’t take long. The women of his world were weak, subservient, easily broken. The beautiful girl from the stars should prove to be the same way. She would tell him what she wanted to know, and then perhaps she would be more receptive to…other offers. Kayi’s ruler allowed himself the luxury of a small smile as he strode through the stone halls of his castle. This was shaping up to be a very interesting day.
Xena Lore, however, was neither weak nor subservient, and she had absolutely no intention of telling Evar what he wanted to know. Her guards shoved her roughly into a small cell deep in the dungeon, and locked the rather rusty door behind her. She sat up quickly, brushing straw off of her jumpsuit. Her large green eyes sparkled mischievously as she removed the clip from her ponytail. She waved her hand over the metal clip, and it expanded in size, emitting a faint glow. “Let’s see…Kayi would go between Ju’ka and Kelakavaro,” she murmured, entering some notes into what appeared to be a personal computer. “Seems to be a feudal society with some very unfriendly natives.”
“Seems like every planet we visit is inhabited by unfriendly natives. Oh, and you’re bleeding. You might want to take care of that,” a male voice said snarkily.
“Shhh,” Xena scolded her computer as she wiped the blood off her face with her sleeve. The pale gold glistened against the silver fabric, then disappeared. “Not so loud, Omega. We don’t want a repeat of the visit to Monvi’l, now do we?”
Omega grumbled quietly. “It just seems like we end up in jail every time we visit a new planet. I thought we left Aer to get AWAY from being held against our will? And I thought we were going to Earth, anyway. You know, where all the water and throngs of adoring worshippers are? This is the 15th planet we’ve visited since we left, and you still have no idea where in the galaxy we are, do you?”
Xena rolled her eyes. “We’ll get there eventually. Shut up, Omega. We left home to explore, and that’s what we’re doing. Now let me update my notes, please.”
The computer subsided into what was probably intended to be an offended silence while his master mentally transcribed the observations she’d made of Kayi into his database. “Now, do you think we should leave right away or stick around for a little bit and learn some more about this place?”
“We should leave,” Omega said hastily. “If we stick around, you’ll get mixed up in a fight somewhere, and we’ll end up changing the course of history or something. That would be bad.”
“Oh, come on,” Xena pleaded. “We never get to stay anywhere for long. I just want to do some exploring. These backwards people can’t really cause much of a problem.”
“But you can,” the computer said, sounding alarmed. “If you cause a ruckus and word gets out…your dad and uncle will know where to look for us. And you know how your uncle is. He tends to fry things when he gets mad.”
“True,” the young woman conceded ruefully. “That would be bad for you. And I’d be grounded for the next 3 millennia.” She sighed. “Fine. As soon as that moron, Evar, sends for me again, we’ll bust out of here.”
“It’s about time you listened to me, young lady. Why, your mother would have a fit if she knew what…”
Xena glared at the computer and telepathically told it to shut up. She didn’t want another lecture from it. “I’m not young,” she said, sulking as the computer shrank back to its original size (still muttering inarticulately) and she clipped it back into her hair. “I’m older than anyone else on this weird little planet.” She leaned back against the cold wall, and drifted off into a long sleep as her mind conjured up dreams of home.
“But daaaaaad,” Xena complained, her eyes bright with tears. “I’m so bored. We haven’t left home in over two thousand years. What can the harm be in just visiting another world? I want to see something new.” The train of her shimmery blue gown made a swishing noise on the glass floor as she darted in front of her father to prevent him from walking away. “Please dad? Just one planet. That’s it. I promise.”
Her father’s eyes, as green as her own, softened slightly as he looked at the pleading face of his oldest daughter. “Xena, you’re still a child,” he said in a placating tone. “You’re not ready to venture out into the universe. We don’t even know what it’s like out there now. It was a dangerous place two thousand years ago, and it’s more so now. None of the Elders would be able to go with you; we all have our duties here to attend to. If you’re bored, why don’t you go spend some time with your aunt and uncle up on the mountain? It would be a change of scenery for you.”
Xena stomped her foot down hard and stepped back, nearly tripping over a potted plant with soft purple leaves. “No! That’s not what I want, dad. I want something new, something I’ve never seen before. And that’s why we SHOULD be going out. Things will be so different from how they were before…we need to know how things have changed. Get involved in the universe again. And I am not a child! I’m the oldest of the Firstborn, and compared to everyone else in this galaxy, I’m ancient! You don’t understand me. Nobody does.” She turned to run away, but her father grabbed her shoulder, stopping her.
The king lifted her chin with a weather beaten hand. “You will not speak to me in that manner, young lady,” he said sternly. “You will show me the proper respect as your father and as your king. Return to your room until the evening meal.”
She dropped a rebellious curtsey, and stalked past him moodily. The water outside the clear outer walls cast a dancing blue-green light on the silver inner walls, but Xena ignored the show. “I’m getting out of here somehow,” she muttered. “If it’s the last thing I do, I’m getting out of here.”
Her father shook his head sadly as he watched her go. “Why does she have to be so difficult?”
“Because she is like her father.” The purple plant behind him had disappeared, leaving in its place a tall, slender woman with red hair, large black eyes, and a slight greenish cast to her skin. She rested a hand on her husband’s shoulder. “She’ll settle down, Don. They usually do. Don’t worry about it.”
“She’s too young, Amphitrite,” he said quietly. “She has all the arrogance of youth and no understanding of other people.” He sighed. “I’ll talk to her later. Aiko is waiting for me in the throne room.” He flicked his wrist and tightly gripped the golden trident that appeared in his hand. Poseidon, King of the Seas of Aer, retreated down the hallway, his thoughts full of the problem of his wayward oldest daughter.