Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. The characters in this story: Xena, Gabrielle, Eve or Livia (and any mention to characters from the television show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) are the property of Renaissance Pictures and Universal MCA. This story is not meant to infringe upon their rights or the rights of the actors who portray them. Also, no part of the story entitled Growing up "Livia" is to be copied, whole or in part, without the author's permission. It is not to be copied for public use or for profit by any person or organization.
Written by: Caina Q. Fuller
Livia entered the temple that had been dedicated to Athena and collapsed at the idol of the goddess of Wisdom. Livia could still remember the day Octavious had come into her life and allowed a child to die in her place, and she was still aware that it was this same goddess whos temple she was in now that had ordered her death.
Her heart was aching with the worst fear and pain shed ever faced before in her life, and she just didnt want to live another moment. Perhaps Athena would come and strike her down so she may join Ann on the other side. She was a little girl, so her place in Elysia was all but secure. All she needed now was Celesta to come and rescue her from her misery.
Livia didnt know how long shed been at the foot of the idol of Athena before she felt a presence in the room with her. She picked her head up from the floor to find the room empty, but something told her she was not alone. She could feel the hairs on the back of her neck standing up, and her skin felt cold. Chill-bumps rose on the surface of her flesh and Livia found the experience both frightening and mysterious.
Hello? Is someone here?
The one being that would become familiar above all others for the rest of her life appeared before her, an unsympathetic expression on his face. Ares had not met anyone sense Xena who could feel his presence, and that this child could sense his presence intrigued him. She was a rare mortal, and given a little time and effort, he could mold her into a warrior deserving of Xenas place in his heart.
I am, Ares said, walking toward her. He could see the pain loosing her sister had cost Livia, and that was just what he wanted. It was this pain that was the most important ingredient in the recipe of how to make a monster. He would use this hurt in her heart to make her angry. Mix that with a little affection and toss in a pinch of blood-shed for flavor and in a few years of tactical training he will have created a monster like the world hadnt known sense the legendary Warrior Princess herself.
My lord, Livia said through ragged breaths that echoed her weeping, will you bring my sister back?
Absolutely not, he thought. The last thing he needed was that sniveling brat around to keep Livia soft. No, it was the loss of her adopted mother and sister that was going to make her more vulnerable to accepting the rage he intended to instill in her heart. He couldnt let her know that though. He had to convince her he was on her side, and that since he was a god he knew best. She was gullible enough to believe anything he told her.
Bring her back? Im sorry Livia but shes gone and its for the best.
Livia felt as if hed driven a dagger into her heart. How could he say such a thing about her sister? But shes all alone out there! Shell be made a slave and she could die! Dont you care?
Not in the least, Ares thought, but his words were completely different. Its not that I dont care Livia, its just that theres nothing to be done about it. The gods dont interfere in the lives of mortals unless they find one they think is special. Like you.
This was new, Livia thought. She stood from the cold, hard floor and eased toward him, responding to what she believed were kind words. Special?
Oh yes, Ares said, sitting down on one of the benches that faced the idol. You see, we are so busy taking care of larger matters that we dont have time to go chasing after every child who gets sold into slavery. The best thing that I can do as the god of War is to take children like you and love you, and train you to be strong so you dont end up like Ann or Brigid.
He had the innocent child hanging on to every word to the point shed taken up a place on her knees at his feet. She was so afraid of being alone that she was practically throwing herself at his feet in the hopes he would take care of her. It wasnt surprising considering she was only eight years old and had been forced to take human life barely a day ago. On top of that, shed lost the only people shed ever trusted and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt had loved her for her and not because of her guardians money. This child would believe anything he told her and do anything he wanted to please him in the hopes he would love her as Ann and Brigid had.
The air in the library was so cold that even with two bearskins on Livia was still chilled, especially when the wind blew outside. A year had passed since Ares had taken her under his wing and began teaching her the lessons of the real world and real people. He had created a double of Livia to interact with the other children at the Academy while she all but lived with him at his temple in Corinth.
Day after day she studied scrolls from Ares library. They were an extensive collection of the tactics of his favorite warrior. Her name was Xena, and every day Ares drilled in her old philosophies of War until Livia hated the name. It was always Xena did this, and Xena would have done this way. Her personal favorite was: How would Xena do this? before she even entered a situation.
In addition to learning how to draw up tactical scenarios and tracking her prey, Ares had been teaching her the art of the sword. She was a fast learner, even faster than Xena had been, and she wondered if perhaps if she didnt have that feeling of familiarity with weapons to thank. Every time she touched a weapon she got that same feeling shed gotten in the temple the day Alec had robbed her of her mother. Shed handled a blade before but when that was she had no idea.
Ares appeared before her in the library and she handled him her latest battle plans. As always hed given her the situation, the terrain the armies were fighting in and status on weapons and general health of each army. From there she would pick an army to be the victor and then come up with a battle plan opposing one created by Ares. So far she hadnt won, and she doubted she ever would.
He reviewed the scroll and as always, his face remained a hard mask that she couldnt read. Was he pleased with what shed devised or did he hate it? For that matter, had he come to hate her? That was Livias biggest fear. She dreaded the day she did something wrong one too many times and the only one she had left to love her would suddenly turn on her like a wild dog and tell her he never wanted to see her again.
Arent you going to show me your plans? Livia asked. They always exchanged scrolls, but today he hadnt brought one.
No. Today were going to do something different Livia.
Despite intentions to remain cool, as she knew Xena would have, Livia found herself becoming excited. Something new? What could it be?
He held out his hand to her and she ran to him. She loved it when they traveled together. It was like being in a cloud for a split second, yet if she chose to, she could make the experience last as long as she wanted. It was amazing, but mostly it was just fun to her.
Where are we going my god?
Ares rewarded her with a grin. Were going to War.
Livia had seen many an army in her time with Ares over the past year on papyrus that was. Shed never seen a camp in real life, but now thats exactly where she found herself now. She and Ares had materialized on a ridge overlooking a camp of about a thousand men.
On the other side of this mountain is another camp. Its just like this one except its my men.
Why are we here? Livia had an idea of what Ares was getting at, but the idea that she was going to see two armies fight was frightening. Hed told her over and over nothing in life was as exhilarating than War, but she now had her doubts if that were true. She didnt want to see people kill each other.
Ares sensed her reservations and squeezed her hand. Think of it as a game. This is your team and my team is on the other side of the ridge. Im going to give your plans to your commander, and hell think they came from me. Hell follow them to the letter. Understand?
Livia panicked. But, if I got something wrong those men will die and it will all be my fault.
Yes it will, Ares said in agreement. He moved to leave but she pulled him back.
No! Dont. I dont want them to die because of me.
He screamed at her for the first time since theyd met and it almost made her heart stop in fear. Thunder rolled across the sky in reaction to his wrath, and she wondered if perhaps shed over stepped her bounds.
I will not tolerate this kind of weakness from you, do you hear me?
Livia nodded her head and looked to the ground. She was more concerned with her own life than she was about the lives of the men in the camp below her. Yes my god. I wont be weak any more.
Youd better not. If youre going to take Xenas place youre going to have to be as hard as she was. Now wait here. The game will begin shortly.
Game, Livia thought. He considered the lives of those men as nothing but a game. Would she ever become that cold? Hed promised her she would never feel pain again if she did, but did she really want to?
Livia pushed those thoughts from her mind and took up a seat on a flat rock that would afford her a view of the camp as she waited for Ares to return. After an eternity of waiting he finally returned and stood next to her to watch her battle plans unfold in a live battle. Her mind went over her plan of attack repeatedly and each time the outcome looked favorable. But then again, she was only eleven years old.
By the time noon came around and Livia was eating a lunch provided by Ares her army was prepared to meet their enemies or at least she hoped they were. The men had carried her plans out to the letter and Livia found herself relaxing as she watched them move about, preparing the traps shed ordered set up.
I just have one question Ares, Livia said.
How can I expect to win this battle when you know my battle plans.
I gave my army my own plans before I read yours.
Livia found herself smiling. He was actually going to give her a fair shot at this. Thanks. So you know whos going to win though?
He kneeled down next to her. I have no idea who will win. There are always variables that cannot be calculated. For instance, one of my men might sneeze while coming up on one of your men, thereby giving away his location and starting the battle prematurely. This could cause your army to win where they would have lost before. Anything could happen. Thats what makes war so exhilarating Livia. Remember that. Not only does it
Ares voice trailed off as he noticed one of the men on Livias team riding off. Livia also noticed this and spoke up. I didnt order any men to ride for Corinth.
I know. Never mind that. The battle is about to begin.
As Livias plan of attack called for it the commander of her team, a warrior by the name of Argeddon, deployed five-foot soldiers to scout out the ridge ahead. Apparently news was good for when they returned, the men fell into formation: Archers left, Cavalry right, Foot soldiers bringing up the rear. It was her own design, one Ares had never seen before and one he wasnt certain would be effective against his classic three line formation of Cavalry front, Foot Soldier rear and Archers flanking the two. If her new formation worked in a few battles he would implement it immediately.
Argeddon led his men toward the pass that would lead to the clearing they would use as a battleground. Ares and Livia followed, floating in mid air high above. Livia found the experience of floating in mid air both scary and exciting as she clung to his waist for dear life. She had a birds eye view of the battleground on the other side of the ridge and both armies moving toward it.
As Ares men continued to advance to the battlefield, Livias army took another turn. Her artillery had been moved up into the ridge and now her archers were moving up the ridge as well. Argeddon then moved the Cavalry and the foot soldiers through the pass.
When Ares men, led by Commander Gaelan, entered the battleground to face off, Livia fully expected Ares men to form some kind of counter attack or defense against her men on the ridge. However, they only lined up to await Gaelans orders to attack.
What made you decide to put men and artillery on the ridge? Ares asked. With a wave of his hand everything below them froze in place. Every bird over the battlefield, every fallen leaf blowing through the air stopped in place, suspended in time until Ares was ready for the battle to continue.
Isnt it obvious? Livia asked. She wasnt intending to be sarcastic and her tone reflected no disrespect. She just couldnt imagine why he would ask such a question. Its a tactical advantage. The ridge is on my side of the battlefield, and since its easy to traverse I thought Id put the catapults up there. With that kind of height I can fire further out and destroy their means of escape to the sea.
Ares nodded, liking her reasons. He had known her reasons of course, but he wanted to listen to her thought patterns in order to help him manipulate her in the future. If he could understand how she thought he would be able to use that against her in the future.
I see. And your archers? Wouldnt they serve you better on the battlefield? Your men might need them in a crunch. With your archers that high in the air this gusty wind might affect their aim.
I hadnt thought of that. I thought Id have them up there to defend against any of your men who might come up from behind them. Archers are a good defense when theyre hidden in the trees.
So you were only looking to protect your artillery from an attack that may not even happen? Youre willing to leave the rest of your men open to a full frontal assault without your archers?
Livia looked away, embarrassed. Ares had told her on numerous occasions she was careful to the point of cowardice and hed urged her to break the habit and be more daring. Livia knew that in order for her to do this, she would have to be willing to sacrifice men, and that was the part that bothered her most of all.
It bothered Ares as well. Hed been with this child a year and she still had a reverence for life that was interfering with his plans to stomp out the rest of her good nature. He could see now that he had his work cut out with Livia in that department.
I also thought that from the ridge their aim would be improved with the better view. I wanted to use the height to my advantage.
Lets see how you do then. Ares waved a hand over the field and everything below resumed just where it had left off. None of the men were the least bit aware time had stopped for them.
When the last of Gaelans troops fell into position, the battle was on. Livias Cavalry, the best of her soldiers, charged Gaelan. Likewise his men moved in as well. However, Livias Cavalry skidded to a halt, per her orders while her artillery rained down fire from above. Before Gaelan and his men could recover from his shock, half of his Cavalry went down.
When the rest of Gaelans Cavalry moved into position, Livias archers assaulted from the ridge. Indeed the height advantage far outweighed the drawbacks of the wind and they took out the rest of the Cavalry. Gaelen was now short two hundred and fifty men.
Livias Cavalry was still completely intact, and on horseback they posed a serious threat to Gaelens foot soldiers. They rode straight for Gaelans men, shields overhead instead of on side. When Gaelans archers fired, their arrows rained down on cold hard steel, causing almost no damage at all.
Livia watched the battle from her place in the air, and despite the fact that she was watching real, living people die, she was winning the battle and this filled her with excitement to the point she found herself almost jumping up and down. She never saw Ares grin as he watched his protégés men destroy his army with a plan of attack hed never seen Xena implement before.
Livia was only a child, but she was brilliant. She was eating up the knowledge of warfare he had to teach her, and she believed every lie that came from his lips. She was still a softhearted child, but with each passing day she became harder and harder of heart.
Livia was cruel to other children, and she was frustrated that her body was too small and weak to keep up with her ever-expanding mind. She knew the intricacies of sword fighting but her sword arm was too weak to be effective. She understood the mechanics behind the perfect drop kick and the perfect punch, but her body was too weak to pose a threat to any opponent she was facing down that wasnt bigger than herself. She also still felt guilt. Sure, when she was shoving around a boy her age she enjoyed it, but as soon as they started to cry or bleed she would almost burst into tears with regret.
Its only a matter of time, Ares thought, before I have that conscious worked right out of her. Soon her soul will be just as dead as my own.
The god of War stood in the heavens with his young disciple and he watched her get her first taste of the drug victory really was. Over the next few years they would plan many such battles as these, much to Livias delight after this success, and she would win more and more of them. As each day passed under Ares watchful gaze, Livias goodness died a little more until the day finally came when she could no longer feel love in her heart. No matter how hard she tried.
Eighteen-year-old Livia walked slowly around the pond that had been the site of the last bit of happiness she had ever known. This was the eight year anniversary of the day Ares had entered her life and changed it forever in the form of a raid led by Alec, one of the god of War's favored warriors. This was the eight-year anniversary of the day she'd lost Ann to the cold hand of death and Brigid to the evil intentions of the god of War.
Ares had a new favorite now in Livia. She'd studied hard over the past eight years to learn the art of War, and under Ares merciless heart and expert hand he'd succeeded in molding her into a cold-blooded, heartless killer. She hated everyone and everything. Ares owned her now. He'd taken everything a man could from a woman. Her heart, her soul, her happiness and her virginity. Some small part of her had feeling's for him, but only because he was all she knew anymore. He had promised her absolute power, and she was going to conquer the world in his name. Livia had every intention of exacting her revenge on mankind for every wrong they ever visited upon her.
Once she completed her circuit of the lake, she turned to give it one final look. It would be the last time, she was certain, that she would see this place. Octavious, now known to the world forever as Augustus Caesar, had granted her a commission in the Alpha legion. They were the very best unit Rome had to offer, and even a position as the least in the Alpha legion was coveted by the best of any other legion under Augustus command.
Usually this kind of posting was unheard of, but in Livia's case she did not excel in the social graces taught to the women of her day. War and the blood-soaked death it brought with it were more to her taste. Her passion in life was destruction in every form and the accumulation of power. Livia couldnt begin to care less about how to be the perfect Roman wife. She viewed these women as weak and this girl was anything but.
Though he had made no sound Livia could feel Ares presence. It was like an electric charge moving up her spine, and she loved the way her body responding to him. He had only bedded her for the first time less than a month ago, but she couldn't begin to count the number of hours they'd spent lovemaking. She hungered for his touch every moment they were separated. Not necessarily out of love, but out of pure, hot lust. He was the perfect lover, and she would see to it she kept him interested long enough to get what she wanted. After that...
"Livia. You sensed my presence, as usual."
Ares took her in his arms and melted into him. They kissed passionately before she pulled away to catch her breath. She wanted him to take her, right where they were, but she knew Ares hated sexual spontaneity only slightly less than laziness. It would be a mistake to ask him to do something as careless as to share passion right out in the open where anyone could catch them. Besides, he wanted no one to know of their affair just yet. Perhaps he was ashamed of her age, or perhaps he had deeper reasons. She didn't care, just as long as he made her feel so alive.
"Xena was the only one I've ever known who could do that," Ares whispered in her ear. His baritone voice made her blood race like lightning through her veins. Everything about him was perfect in her eyes. The way he smelled, the way he tasted and especially the way he felt when he slid his massive manhood into her and rode her to Elysia
Despite her mounting passion Livia rolled her eyes at the mention of Xenas name. There was only one thing she couldn't stand about Ares, and that was the fact that he was still hung up on the legendary Warrior Princess. He matched her passion for lovemaking and battle and that was the only thing that kept her coming back to the bed night after night. She just wondered if he would ever realize that she was not Xena, could not be Xena, and did not want to be Xena.
Now Ares laughed at Livia's displeasure over Xena's name. "You feel as if you have to compete with her every day don't you?"
"Yes I do," Livia said. She tried to keep her voice neutral but in affairs relating to the Warrior Princess she always failed.
"Good, because you'd better believe you are." He pulled away from her and leaned against a tree. She almost followed him like a stray puppy, longing for the feel of his arms around her, deeply kissing her until she was swept away on waves of unimaginable pleasure as only this god could make her feel.
Ares lips curved up into a smile. He knew exactly what his new favorite had on her mind, just as he knew how to use her youthful lusts to control her. All young warriors were the same in their simple desires, but he excelled with female warriors because he could bed them. Once he had them addicted to the physical pleasures he could inspire and he took them on intoxicating killing spree's in battle, they would do anything he asked to keep that feeling of euphoria that only he could produce in them.
"Eli," he whispered, changing Livia's sexual lust into blood lust in less than the blink of an eye. He had taught her to hate Eli and all his followers had stood for as long as he'd known Livia, and today was the day Livia would begin her climb to the top. He planned to make her Empress of Rome, and along the way he would use her to kill anyone he even remotely suspected of following Eli.
Why mortals insisted on following his pathetic crusade to rid the world of the Olympian gods was beyond his ability to reason, but hundreds of mortals each day took up his cause and his name. They were like a diseased limb to the gods of Olympus, slowly but surely poisoning their divine body. Ares was determined to see to it that limb was cut off before it killed the Olympian order.
"Your family rid the world of Xena, Gabrielle and Eve," Livia said. There was a distinctly taunting quality to her voice. "Surely you can rid Greece and Rome of a few pesky religious zealots. Why don't you use your powers to just wipe them out?"
"Because," he answered, his voice ice cold, "followers of Eli that dies by my blade only make their cause grow stronger. They see themselves as soldiers in a battle against us. If a god kills them, they grow closer. If a mortal kills them, they begin to doubt what they are fighting for and they become weaker. That's where you come in."
"And that scares the hell out of you doesnt it?" Livia was unprepared for the anger her words caused the god of War, and one of his massive hands reached out, grabbing her by the throat.
"I am Ares. I am never afraid."
Livia had become arrogant enough that this treatment angered her, and she wasn't about to back down. He wasn't the only one who knew how to push other people's buttons. Ares had two weaknesses. Xena and the followers of Eli.
"Oh really?" Livia said calmly. She knew he had invested too much time and energy into her, and that he would do nothing to seriously harm her. "Then why do you panic at the mere mention of Eli's name? You've taught me too well Ares. I know you as intimately as I know myself, and you are scared to death of anything relating to Eli. Now, get your hand off my throat so I report for duty. You don't want me late on my first day now do you?"
Ares reluctantly let go of Livia's neck and she sauntered away, swinging her voluptuous hips seductively and he was once again struck with a sense of deja vu. Every day she behaved more and more like another warrior he'd once known, but he just couldn't put his finger on which it was.
He shook his head in frustration and faded away. Livia was losing fear for him, which could be a good thing in a warrior. Just as long as she obeyed him he didn't really care if she was afraid of him or not. He had what she needed, and he knew as long as she felt dependent upon him she would do whatever she was told to destroy the followers of Eli.
Damen, who was the commander of the Alpha Legion, watched as the only female warrior in the history of the Roman Empire went about her duties of passing out the water to the men. What on earth had possessed Augustus to put a seventeen-year-old girl of all things in his army was beyond him. No woman belonged on the battlefield, except for nursing and other duties for the men. To have her here was a disgrace to the honor of his legion, and he was determined to do everything he could to make her resign her commission.
He did have to give Livia credit for one thing, and that was the fact she never complained. Never. Not to anyone for any reason. She had been left behind on the last two battles against Britannia, and as they headed back to squash an uprising of Gaul supporters in Greece, Livia went about her menial labors, quietly enduring the leering and the insults of his men.
Damen pulled off his armor and lay down on his bed, which was really just a table with a few blankets spread over it for padding. No sooner had he relaxed, did he hear a soft ripping noise from the foot of his bed. He looked up to find someone had cut a slit into the fabric, no doubt planning to enter the tent and kill him. Damen, renowned for his stealth, eased off the bed and grabbed his sword as he exited the tent. He whispered what was happening to a guard near by, ordering him to watch the front of the tent, as he circled around back.
Damen came to the rear of his tent to find it deserted. Whoever was attempting to kill him was inside his tent, trapped. Another couple of men, sensing something was wrong, came around back. Again, he told them what was going on, and they stood back to watch as he prepared to enter the tent.
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