Vices and Their Devices
Warrior Kat
[Uber] [Alt PG-13] [Modern]
Part II of the Minerva/Terry Series

Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny, Joxer, and Perdicus are property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

This is Uber. These characters resemble our favorite heroines, but are situated in a different time, different place (in this case, modern times in California), in different enviroments. If you haven't tried it, try it. You just might like it.

Subtext: Yep, in this story it's maintext. Nothing serious, though, because it's just not my style. PG-13 content, like a Missy Good story.But since some people get their panties into a wad over the issue, if you are underage or intolerant of it, please find another story.

Disturbing content: The Religious Right comes marching into town. If that bothers you, read something else.

Violence: Of course! Got to keep up with the original spirit of Xena!

This story is a continuation of the first story, Freshman Year. If you haven't read it, this story won't make too much sense.

Vices and Their Devices

By Warrior Kat

Chapter I

Lunchtime, Thursday afternoon. Morgan had tagged along with Terry to their table, refusing to go back to the usual group after Brandy spread another slimy rumor about Morgan after the fight on Monday. She sat there, munching on a bag of chips and sipping a soft drink while catching up on her geometry. There was a little red line on the side of Morgan's nose from Brandy's ring when she inadvertantly got in the way of the slugfest, and a little bit of swelling on her jaw, but it had mostly gone away.

"Hey, Minerva, I need help on this," Morgan said. Minerva switched sides and saw the problem that Morgan got stuck on.

"How do I find Angle F here?" she said, pointing to problem 21.

"These two are adjacent angles, these two are across from each other, and Angle F and this angle add up to 180, so subtract the known angle from 180 to get angle F."

"Thanks." Morgan sighed, and scratched herself on the head with the mechanical pencil. "I hate math. It makes no sense to me."

"It is weird stuff, I'll agree with you there."

"Heard it only gets worse," Morgan added. "My sister struggled with Trig something awful."

Of course I can't say that my two brothers who took it had no problem with it. That would make me look super nerdy, thought Minerva. And here I am, supposedly the 'dumb Mexican' here.

It was an added bonus to have Minerva join their weightlifting clique during PE. She had pointed out a bad habit Terry was developing in her squat stance and had it corrected before it became ingrained and would come back to bite her later.

Terry gritted her teeth to do the last rep. "Straighten out your back," Minerva said, right there in case Terry couldn't bring it back up.

"I---" Her legs out beneath her, Minerva lunged for the bar and let it rest on the safety bars as Terry slipped beneath. "Shit!!!" she said, fuming.

"Hey, it's okay, girl. You're doing well."

Terry turned around, redfaced from the exertion. "I'm the weakest girl out of the whole group! Here I am, squatting only 85 and you're squatting 135 plus, and Iron Woman Garcia's squatting about 155!!!" She clenched her fists and unclenched them in rapid succession. "I must not be working out hard enough."

"Terry!" Morgan growled. "This is your first year, and we both have been weightlifting for two. You're doing good! And don't you dare sell yourself short or try to work out with too heavy of weights, or I'll have to go bring the paddle from home and swat you!"

"I get the point," Terry said.

"I just don't want you trying anything stupid because you feel you aren't lifting enough. For starters, Minerva and I will feel awful for letting you do it."

In the meanwhile, Minerva gripped the bar in her hands and hang cleaned it up to her chest and sat it in the bar, earning a million looks from all the guys in the weightroom who could only wished they could lift that much.

Everyone had cleared out of the locker room by now except for a few. Terry came over and sat by Minerva. "It's weird. I used to have the strangest dreams about being an Amazon Queen, but they've stopped lately."

"Funny, my dreams of riding on horseback and fighting highway men off with a sword and some round killing thing have stopped too," Minerva replied.

Morgan came around the bend and sat across from them. "Yeah, my dreams of being an Amazon fighting off the bloody Romans have stopped as well."

Minerva quirked an eyebrow. "Hmm."

Morgan said, "Ironic thing is they all seem to be characters from the show Hercules."

"And us two are playing the parts of them."

"Uh huh. I've heard of it, but I don't have a TV at home," Minerva said.

"It's based on Greek mythology, but I'm starting to question its accuracy," Morgan said, getting to the point. "I went to the library after volleyball practice and checked out the titles that mentioned 'Xena' in it. Most of them were about the Destroyer of Nations, but one book was about the Protector of Nations."

"Protector of Nations?" asked Terry. "Never heard of that."

"It's in the reference section of the Lowell city library, so I'm thinking of checking it out this weekend. Either of you care to join? My mom can give you both a ride."

"Sure," said Terry.

"Let me ask my mother and see if I can cajole her into letting me attend the evening Mass instead."

"Okay. See you both tomorrow! Bye!" Then Morgan left.

It was a lucky break, Minerva noted. Usually her mother made her go to the morning Mass, no ifs, ands, or buts allowed, so it was especially surprising that she let her daughter go with a group of gringos.

The drive down to Lowell took about an hour, a quiet ride meandering through parched brown hills and passing oil machines quietly bobbing up and down to a silent cadence, scattered over the rocks and dirt. Terry, who was not accustomed to being a morning person, fell asleep and leaned against the seatbelt. Minerva, on the other side, paid attention to the geography and little oddities of the land they passed by.

She had never been to Lowell. Sure she had heard of it, but in years past when the family travelled to Mexico, she would be too busy picking fights with her siblings or asleep to notice. As they crested the last foothill in the way, miles upon miles of suburbia and city laid before their eyes, at least ten times the size of Rockwell.

Holy shit, it is big!!! And here I was thinking that Rockwell was big. Terry woke up as the car slowed down, bogged in traffic, and noted the awed look on Minerva's face.

"LA is so much bigger," Terry said, yawning.

The concept was beyond Minerva's mind. Did she just say this city's small?

Morgan was able to track down the book very quickly and the three of them sat there around a round table on the third floor of the library. It was a big, leather bound book that had gotten quite musty in the years of its storage.

"According to legend, Xena of Amphipolis began her warlord career when her family was under attack by a warlord. She conquered all the land around Amphipolis as a buffer zone for her home town, then went further and further in a blood frenzy."

Morgan looked up from the book. "Don't think this was it," she said, head hung down. "Darn."

"Where did you get it from?" asked Terry. Morgan led her to the reference section of Greek myth and archaelogy. Every book seemed to say something derogatory about Xena; all but one that had a neutral title, The Xena Scrolls. Morgan took it out of the slot and read the subtitle beneath it.

"Hey, these are supposedly Gabrielle's scrolls, translated," Morgan said. "I didn't know Gabrielle of Poteidaia was a bard."

"Let's read it, then," Terry said, taking the book and setting it on the table. "Looks like a start."

Morgan opened the book, and saw the introduction was a summary of Xena's life. "Oh no, here's the warlord summary all over again." Defeat appeared in her eyes.

"Gimme that," Terry said, flipping through the summary and stopping when the section broke, and the story of how she met Gabrielle began. "Life was very meaningless for Xena after losing her army to her captain. She buried her weapons and armor outside a little town called Poteidaia when the warlord Draco came to town." Terry dropped her reading voice. "I think we're onto something."

"Read more of it," said Minerva, skeptical that anyone could say anything positive about this 'Xena' gal.

Putting on her reading voice, Terry read more of it. "Draco's captain Hector had captured Gabrielle's family and was about to sell them as slaves when Xena came by and freed them. Gabrielle decided to follow Xena, to escape Poteidaia so she could become a bard. Xena tried to escape to Amphipolis, where the villagers proceeded to stone her until Gabrielle came to her rescue and managed to stop them."

Morgan scratched the side of her head. "Did Gabrielle ever like, 'go out' with Hercules?"

Terry scanned the text. "No, but she did go out with Iolaus for a while."

"Were Xena and Callisto really lovers?" asked Morgan. Terry scanned the text, then another page, and another page.

"Try Xena and Gabrielle," Terry said. Morgan gagged.


"You never said anything about Xena and Callisto." Terry read more of the text. "After about 10 winters, they settled in the Amazon village where Gabrielle proceeded to rule over the Amazons for another twenty-five years before she died in battle."

Minerva had gotten up and was looking in the reference section for anything else. "Hey guys, I found another one."

Morgan came over. "Lion of Amphipolis? Doesn't say anything about Xena."

"It's by the same two authors."

"Janice Covington, Ph.D. and Melinda Pappas, Ph.D. You're right." She slid the book out of the slot, and was started when Morgan gasped, "Oh my god."

Minerva glanced over at her. "What is it?" An upright Mormom used the Lord's name in vain? This must be serious.

"The authors...." Morgan flipped the book over so the back cover faced them. "They look just like you and Terry."

Minerva could not help but laugh. "Yeah, except I wouldn't touch that shade of lipstick with a ten foot pole in a million years."

"Minerva, I'm serious here."

Terry sauntered over and asked, "What d'ya guys find?"

"Look at this, Terry," Morgan exclaimed.

"Holy shit!" Terry grabbed the book and put it on the table. "Sit down." Two attent pairs of eyes looked at her. "Funny, I had a dream that I was in Macedonia and the dark haired woman feel asleep translating the scrolls. I don't know where that came from. Oh yeah, and I lit up a cigar to smoke."

Minerva paged through the book. "Here's the cigar." It was a picture of Janice reading the Delphi tablets over Melinda's shoulder. "Oh, this scroll has a little bit of a water stain."

"She drooled on it," Terry said, thinking about the dream.

"Terry!" Morgan said, elbowing her in the ribs.

"Nah, it looks quite likely. The pattern looks consistent with drool," Minerva said, pointing to the trail.

They flipped through a few more pages, to see more pictures of Janice and Mel with the archaelogical dig photos.

"Terry, if I believed in genetic memory, I'd say you were a descendant of the bard. Janice claims that she is." Morgan then looked at Minerva. "And since you seem to look like Melinda, who is actually a descendant of Xena's, I would say you were of the line of the warrior. Congratulations, Xena!"

Minerva looked at her and laughed. "Guess I have the temper for it, eh?" Minerva shook her head. "Stop pulling my leg." Then she got up and walked around.

Morgan stood there, frowning. She is so dense!!! Any one could tell the two of you are dead ringers for the other!

They spent another hour perusing the two books. "Hey, Morgan, I found the story about Brutus slaying the Amazon Regent Ephiny."

Morgan looked over, and read the translation. "My gosh, it's just like the dream!" She looked up at Terry.

"Yep. Gabrielle just lost her best friend."

"How sad," Morgan said. "Anything else about Ephiny?"

Terry flipped back. "Oh, here's the scroll that matches the dream I had."

"The Amazon princess?"

"Yep. And Ephiny wasn't too happy to have such an inexperienced warrior-wannabe take the Right of Caste."

Minerva, who had seemed to disappear without a trace minutes earlier, came back and sat across from Terry, her knee pressed to the honey-blonde's. "So, what else did my two little archaelogist friends find?"

Morgan shut the book. "Nothing much except the mythologies are a crock."

"Ditto." Terry clapped her hands. "Hey! What d'ya think of the idea that we dress up as Janice and Mel for Halloween?"

"I don't think so, Tim," Minerva said, mocking famous lines from Home Improvement.

Chapter II

Everyone in the Keir house had been exclaiming how the famous evangelist Aaron Huntley was coming to Rockwell, and was expected to make an appearance in their church this morning during the service.

They sat in the pews, waiting for him to appear. He was a young man, in his early thirties, with a mane of dark black hair and a neatly trimmed full beard. He wore a blue suit, with a red vest and white shirt underneath, and khaki slacks. He walked with an authoritive gait, well-muscled and lean, with broad shoulders and a tall frame.

"Good morning," he said to the congregation. "As we all know, in these coming times Satan will appear as an angel of light. People will tell you it's okay to commit sins, and slander the Lord's name to fit their social agendas. But as soldiers of Christ, we must let the truth be known, it is not okay to be gay, that God's truth will supercede human fads of thought forever."

Huntley walked around in front of the pulpit, and stopped in the center. "Are you a soldier of Christ?" He walked back further, and circled back, to let the congregation think. "If you know someone was gay, would you be up front that their lifestyle is an abonimation in the eyes of God? Or would you avoid it?" He was silent, to let the words register.

"If that person was to die today without you telling the truth, how would you feel, knowing they would never know the glory of the Father and the Son?" He returned to the pulpit and read the parable at the woman at the well who had committed adultery and Jesus told her, 'You have seven husbands.'

"Jesus does not beat around the bush when it comes to the Truth! Neither should you!!! Or it will be on your head." He came out front, and pointed at everyone in the pews. "God hates fags, he always has and always will. For he created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Thank you for your time." Then he left, and was replaced by the regular minister while he went to another church to make his speech.

"That was some speech!" Brandy exclaimed to Morgan after church.

"Uh huh," Morgan said, pretending not to pay attention to her.

"You didn't think it was great, did you?"

"I never said that," Morgan hissed, then getting in her parents car and driving away.

"A bit on the bitchy side today, aren't we?" Brandy said aloud to Morgan, who was gone.

"Reverend Huntley gave the best speech yesterday!" Morgan told Terry before school started. "Also gave me this packet: fag facts." She handed it to Terry.

"Are you implying I'm a homosexual?" Terry said, looking up at her, in the eyes.

"No! Of course not!" Morgan said. "I just found it real interesting. Did you know gay men have at least over a hundred sex partners per year?"

"Disgusting," Terry said. Yes, that is disgusting. Casual sex is not something I've ever supported.

"Ah, all the stuff they never tell you in sex ed." And I don't want to hear the 'other half' right now, either Terry thought to herself.

Terry took the packet and read it, noting key phrases. God hates fags. Fags, like as in fire wood, ignite a fire, just as gay fags ignite the fires of God's wrath. Romans 1:26. Psalms 5:5. Leviticus 19:23.

For the first time in her life, she felt a gnawing fear that shot straight to her heart, and doubts about her relationship with Minerva. But she told herself this was just Radical Religious Right propaganda, that it was the culture of this area and she should fight it.

They sat side by side in the hammock, holding hands. Terry rested her head on Minerva's shoulder.

"Rough day?"

"Yeah," Terry sighed. Don't tell her about it.

"Want to talk about it?" Minerva asked, resting her chin on Terry's blonde hair and rocking the hammock gently back and forth. Bet you it's that Reverend Aaron Huntley thing. Everyone's talking about it.

"No. I just need to be held." Terry freed her hand from the hold and wrapped it around Minerva's waist, and rested her head on Minerva's shoulder. The tall, raven haired girl put one arm around the girl's shoulders and the other one stroked wisps of honey-colored hair.

She could feel the tears stream down Terry's cheek; the more she thought about it, the more she was sure it had something to do with Huntley's visit and his new booklet for teens, "Fag Facts." He visited the Mormon church. Morgan probably was spewing intolerance all day. She shut her eyes and continued to rock the hammock gently, feeling the sniffling dissolve into even breaths of sleep. I feel for you, love. I don't like it when people hurt those who I love, especially you.

Athena's owls cooed in the trees, aware of the distress and sadness below.

Chapter III

The cauldron of trouble was brewing, and it certainly was not Hecate's.

Morgan opened her eyes, her head throbbing, her sides aching, and she saw a dark, musty gray pit, and she was lying on a pile of rocks, and hazy fog drifted through the pit.

Maybe the mainstream faith was right. There is such a thing as Hell. Because this sure seems like it. Of course our church had it's own version of Hell. They said just the absence of both Jesus and God was enough eternal torment. But I guess not.

She slowly picked herself up, and was standing up when someone came from the shadows and shoved her back down. The face became clearer as it got closer.

"Brandy?" she asked in abject horror. The blonde face smirked.

"I'm not Brandy." She got closer. "I'm worse." Then she laughed. "I'm Callisto, the One and Only."

"I thought that was just myth."

"Myth is the tale of Xena and I being lesbian lovers." She licked her fingers. "I always wished for that. But she was too busy taking the innocence away from a certain little bard to notice, or care."

"You mean Gabrielle," Morgan concluded.

"You actually think she was married to Hercules? Or that Xena and Hercules actually hated each other? Bah! I had such a fun time writing up that myth. I suppose I should have written what really happened. Like Xena, Destroyer of Nations."

"That was passed down the generations."

"The only reason she didn't conquer the other half of Greece was that Hercules stopped her."

"Myth says he killed her."

"Actually, being such a coward, he talked her out of pillaging villages."

"Why am I here?"

"Ares...excuse, the Reverend Aaron Huntley, needs you to do a big favor. Homosexuality is running rampant across the school grounds! Devil spawn is slithering through! You must stop it!"

"Funny you say that, coming from a confessed lesbian herself."


"Excuse me?"

"Well, Hades wouldn't let me down there to kiss Xena, so I had to content myself with people up on Olympus. Trust me, women make lousy lovers. So I decided men were a better bet. And with Zeus's ex-gay powers, I was free!" Callisto put her hand to her chin. "What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the faggot problem at school."


"There are many more hidden, subverting the school system. In fact, they're right under your nose! You need to protect the innocent, Morgan. Protect Terry."

She remembered waking up in a sweat, bedcovers and nightshirt drenched, and a nagging fear and concern for Terry. She couldn't remember the dream, but could remember 'Protect Terry.'

She glanced at the digital clock. 4:00 am. Morgan slipped out of bed and went to the bathroom, trying to sort it all out. Protect the innocent. Protect Terry.

She finally calmed down enough to go back to bed and hug her pillow. Protect the innocent. Protect Terry. She tightened her arms. From whom?

She looked out all day Tuesday to see who Terry needed to be protected from. She immediately presumed Brandy, but Brandy wasn't anywhere near, and the insane thought of perhaps it was Greg, but Greg wasn't anywhere near, either, and it wasn't his personality type, either. So who is it then?

Wednesday came. Odin, god of wisdom. Morgan shook her head. Morgan! Stop thinking like a heathen! Shame! Odin, foolish god wannabe, cloak of lucifer!

Her and Terry met up with Minerva at brunch.

"Hello, Minerva." Minerva shut her eyes, then slowly opened them, rolling her eyes and bunching her jaw muscles. Don't tell me it is Letitia again.

A short, skinny freshman approached her. "Long time, no see." No, it's Leila Montes. Not as bad as Letitia, but an ex is an ex.

"Uh huh," Minerva said, walking away with Morgan and Terry.

"Damn coward! Don't you dare walk away from me like that!" But Minerva ignored her. I hate having a 'history.'

Leila couldn't take the hint. She stalked Minerva through the crowd like a black panther, and Minerva continued to ignore her, actually talking with Morgan to forget who she just ran into. Then they all heard, "She's MY GIRL, bitch!" and then a loud THUMP!

Everyone turned around. Letitia had jumped out from behind the building, having seen the whole thing, and socked Leila. Minerva winced. Damn, I think Terry knows 'who' she was, too. Damn, damn, damn!

"Minerva, honey, please come back!" Letitia pleaded loudly. Minerva turned away, trying to hide a tomato-hued blush, hoping Letitia didn't follow, but that was as likely as snow falling in Hell. Terry turned around.

"She's following, you better turn around before she smacks you on the kisser again," she warned.

Minerva turned her head, and was able to put her hand out in time to keep Letitia from tackling her and kissing her. "Don't you understand what the word "no" means? Or is it not a part of your vocabulary?"

"You're in love with that little Leila freshman? Ha, you should nab the sophisticated types. You deserve better."

"You're right. I do deserve better. Better than you. And as for Leila---I'm not going out with her either." Then she turned around and walked away, Terry standing there daring her to go follow. Letitia knew it was a lost cause today, and walked away.

"Hey, Minerva, I want you to meet Greg. Greg, this is Minerva."

The sandblonde boy took her hand, and noted how strong it was. "Nice to meet you, madame."

Minerva wasn't too happy being the object of his flirting, but she decided Terry's idea was worth a try. Anything to shut that bitch Letitia up.

Morgan whispered to the two of them, "You need to be with each at all times at school. Make it look like you two are going out."


"C'mon, he won't bite, Minerva. And he's quite nice. It's not real, Minerva. You don't have to give him a sloppy wet kiss on the lips."

Minerva relented. "You're right."

Greg smiled. Damn she's beautiful! Like a goddess. I'll sure win points for appearing I'm going out with her, that's for sure! Even if it is only a facade. And Morgan did warn me some bitch might try to hit me, so she would lurk behind us. Good, it's not my style to have to resort to hitting ladies.

By the time 6th rolled around, rumors were circulating around school about Greg and Minerva. Just as planned.

Morgan was walking to volleyball practice when Brandy ran into Greg up ahead.

"So, you going out with Minerva?"

"Yep," he said, puffing out his chest. He's hopelessly in love with her, Morgan noted.

"Funny. I always thought she was gay."

"Guess you're wrong, Brandy." Greg left, with Brandy standing there, mouth agape.

"Shut your mouth before the gnats fly in," Morgan told Brandy when she passed by.

It was quite a vivid sight. Xena was pissed, she had an ice cold, almost hypnotic look to her face. Her eagle like eyes, spotted Gabrielle, and she thundered towards her.

Morgan saw that Xena was not in her right mind. Got to protect the Queen. She stepped in front of Xena.

"Out of my way," Xena hissed.

"Not until you explain what's going on."

"Don't say I didn't warn you," then Xena smackered her hard on the arm, breaking it. She looked behind helplessly on the ground, as two Amazons rushed to her side; in the meanwhile, Xena ran off on Argo, dragging beloved Queen Gabrielle behind in the dirt. No!!! She's going to kill her! Damn it, Xena!

Morgan woke up suddenly. Protect Terry from Minerva. The puzzle was solved at last. All those ex-girlfriends Minerva seems to run into. So hateful and vengeance ridden. And for a good reason, too. She hurt them. And she has her eyes set on Terry. She walked over to her desk, where she had all the "Fag Fact" pamphlets. I'll have to let Terry down slowly. Got to let the Truth shine on its own accord.

"You're leaving me, aren't you, Minerva?" Leila asked, tears in her eyes.

Minerva was trembling as well. "Yes." She tried to hide how much it hurt her to say this, and she seemed to be suceeding.

"How could you do this?" Leila cried. "I wasn't going out with Ray!"

"No, you were just sucking his tonsils out of his throat."

"Minerva! How dare you address me like that!!!" Leila cursed.

Minerva sighed to herself. This is what I get for becoming too attached to someone. They come back and bite you in the butt. And I clearly saw what she was doing. She cheated on me. And now I must go, can't give her the impression that I'm going to tolerate all her cheating. Or let her dump me.

"You're a coward, aren't you. Too afraid to love."

Too afraid to give love when I damn well know it's not going to be returned.

Minerva rolled over and buried her face in her pillow.

Greg and Minerva decided to hold hands at brunch, to make it clear that she wasn't available, since Letitia was too dense to accept the word "no." Maybe if it was conveyed to her, she would get the not-so-subtle hint.

"Oh Minerva," the lecherous voice cried out from the shadows. "Come here and love me, you big bad warrior princess!"

Greg and Minerva stopped, and turned around to see Letitia there, hands on hips, wearing bellbottoms and a slutty top. Letitia has certainly put on the weight, hasn't she?

"Oh, come on," Letitia taunted. "You're just putting on a show with that cutie beside you. Why put up with a show when you can have the real thing?"

She is so lewd! No wonder the Mighty Tomboy Minerva stooped to this plan! She must have been desperate, this is certainly not her style! Greg thought.

"I don't do shows," Minerva growled. "It's the real thing." Then she turned towards Greg, put her other hand on his cheek, and kissed him on the lips.

When they parted, Minerva thought he was going to pass out, puppy dog look in his eyes and all. Morgan emerged from the crowd and helped steady him, along with Minerva. She made one last glance toward where Letitia was. Gone.

"I can't believe she gave him a kiss!" Morgan exclaimed to Terry, then dropped her voice. "They make a really cute couple there, don't they?"

Terry nodded. Cute fantasy couple in that little head of yours, Morgan. I'm happy to let it be, though. "Thought he was going to pass out right there on the spot."

"He's so hopelessly in love with her."

And so out of luck, she's mine... did I say that? No, just thought. Whew. Close one. Terry looked pensive, then relieved.

"What's wrong?"

"Trying to remember if I finished my algebra homework last night. I did." That's right. Lie your pearly whites off.

Chapter IV

Friday was the first football game of the season, so the student council had designated it as School Spirit Day. People dressed up in the school colors, green and yellow, and some went as far as to wear horned helmets, since they were the Rockwell Vikings.

Greg was nice enough to loan Terry one of his practice uniforms. Along with the baggy black pants and yellow Vikings cap Minerva gave her, she looked cute. Of course, thought Minerva. You're her girlfriend.

Minerva wore baggy black pants, too, with a green short sleeved shirt and a black Viking's cap.

"Wow, don't you guys look spiffy," Morgan said, eyeing Minerva cautiously.

"Thanks! Actually, this cap's Minerva's," Terry said.


There was an assembly at brunch, which consisted of silly contests in front of everyone who managed to fit into the gym. The first contest was the passing contest, in which a girl and a guy had to throw a football through hoops at varying distances; the farther the hoop was, the more points it was worth. There were four footballs and four hoops to toss through.

"You two would be perfect," Morgan said, pushing Greg and Minerva down before they could protest.

"Oh well," Minerva sighed. "You go first."

The senior representative nailed all but the last hoop, earning 6 points; the junior nailed all but the third, earning 7 points, and the sophmore missed the second and fourth one, earning 4 points. Greg only hit the first target, earning a chorus of boos from the freshman and cheers from the other classes. The girls were next. The senior nailed the first and second one, bring the senior grand total to 9; the junior nailed the second one, tying the senior score; the sophomore nailed the first and second one, giving the sophomores a grand total of 7 points. Minerva stepped up the line, knowing the pressure was on. Take a breath, it's okay. She narrowed her sights, gripped the football, and sent it through the first hoop in a tight spiral. She let out breath, then took the second football in her hand and threw it through the second hoop cleanly. Taking the third football in her hand, she concentrated on her target, then threw it cleanly through the third spiral. They were tied with the sophomore class. She took the last football, gripped it, concentrated on the hoop on the other side of the basketball court, then threw it.

Oh shit, it's not spiralling as much as it's supposed to. I think it's going to miss. She walked back to where the other contestants were, when the freshmen class let out a big whoop! The football had barely made it through the last hoop.

"Yeah, Minerva!" Terry exclaimed.

"Told you that you could do it," Morgan said, giving her a slap on the back.

Terry and Minerva waited in the parking lot after the football game for their rides. It was pitch black outside, the only light coming from the high power stadium lights that now cast a blue-green tint and attracted a load of moths.

The silent blonde lioness slinked through the shadows, tracking her quarry relentlessly. You're going to pay for taking my best friend away, Terry, the shadow thought, slipping around doorways and edges of buildings. We used to talk about everything. From boys to pain in the ass teachers, I thought you were my friend, Morgan. I was so wrong. Terry just has you wrapped around her finger, that's all. She's not good enough to be your friend, Morgan.

She finally was within eyesight of her quarry, but remained hidden under the black shadow the awning cast. Terry, dressed in crisp, slightly baggy black jeans and a forest green football jersey Greg had loaned her for School Pride Day, was talking to a certain dark-haired beauty, who was dressed in really baggy black jeans, a green short sleeved shirt, and a black cap, hair down beneath.

"Who's that?" the stalker asked herself. The tall raven-haired girl turned around, and Brandy got a glimpse of the mystery lady. Minerva. Shit, I didn't recognize her with her hair down. Then the mischievous blonde grinned. Good. Nab two birds, or in this case, bitches, with one stone. Is this my lucky day or what?!

The grounds were totally empty, and Brandy knew it. She couldn't hear their conversation, but she saw Terry lean closer and Minerva draped an arm casually around her. Hmm. Looks like Terry has found a new best friend, Morgan. What d'ya say about that, huh? Or are you even aware of it? Is the little bitch double-crossing you? She stood there, in wait, primed to witness anything that she could skewer into a nasty rumor. A true rumor, thought Brandy. Morgan isn't fooled too easily. And rumors are no good unless you can prove them to her.

Terry wrapped her arms around Minerva's waist and rested her head on her shoulder. This is appearing to be a very juicy rumor, Brandy thought, grinning. I'm surprised Morgan hasn't figured out Minerva. I know Morgan well enough to know she'd run once she knew what Minerva was.

Terry yawned. "It's getting late."

"Yeah. We better get you home, shouldn't we?" Minerva replied.

"My ride should be here any minute. You got a ride?"


Terry lifted her head from the shoulder, and gazed in Minerva's face. "This sure has been a wild week, you know that? Who would have thought?"

"I know." Two faces got closer, until lips met. Holy shit! This is too good to be true! Brandy thought. Lesbians! Two! Terry and Minerva! Morgan is going to have an absolute shit fit that she's befriended, what's that dirty word, TWO LESBIANS!!!

Lips parted, and Terry smiled. "Just in time. Here comes my mother."

"See you later. I'm going to miss you," Minerva said.

"You too." Terry walked over and got in the sedan and left. Minerva walked over to another parking lot, away from Brandy's sight. The tall blonde sighed once out of earshot of the crafty dark-haired girl. Morgan's not going to believe this! How am I going to go about leaking this and making myself a reputable source?

Brandy slinked to the other side of campus, away from Minerva. Trouble, trouble, brewing in a cauldron bubble.

Chapter V

That was a good night, Minerva said, concluding Friday night after the football game. She slipped into a pair of shorts and tee shirt she wore for pajamas and went to bed, exhausted.

Everything time she looks at me, talks to me, touches me, kisses's like Heaven raining down upon us. She laid there, looking up at the ceiling, a silly grin on her face. So this is what love is, she mentally drolled. I guess Letitia, Leila, and those others were just lust. 'Cause I've never felt happier in my life. She picked at the loose ends of her hair, humming an old Beatles tune. She's in love with me and I feel fine.... She tapped the fingers of her other hand on the bed, unable to sleep, too happy to drift off to the questionable dream world.

Such cautiousness is warranted, for dream world became nightmare land for Minerva once again.

She rode into the village at a full gallop on her horse, the warm air whipping through her loose hair. She heard a scream from within, and half-clad women in ancient sportbras and short leather skirts rushing out into the street, and one voice screamed, "Stop her!" She scanned the crowd to see an Amazon with curly hair, someone who looked a little like Morgan.

The Amazonian Morgan look-alike stepped right in her path, and growled. Gods be damned I let her get in the way, Minerva thought, slugging the Amazon in the arm and hearing a very satisfying sound of a bone crunch. She stormed through the crowd, slugging whoever got in her way. "Where is she?" she growled, feeling her eyes and face turn into stone cold ice.

A silly looking young man in armor walks out of a hut carrying the damsel in his arms. There she is, Minerva softly growled to herself.

"Help! Somebody help her!" the young man cried out. She unhooked a round weapon from her belt and drew her arm back to throw it when she felt someone hit her. Whirling about, it was the Amazon who she just hit moments earlier.

"Joxer, run!" the Amazon shouted, and the young man ran. Then she yelled, "Amazons, attack!"

Amazons surround her, and she swings her fists in a circle, knocking them all down. Puny little asses. She lept over the stunned bodies and ran after the young man, someone named "Joxer."

It was no contest. She caught up with the skinny lad and saw that the woman in his arms had barely awoken. The young man set her down and screamed, "Run!" at her.

She took off like a speeding bullet. Minerva took the rope beside her, made it into a lasso, and lassoed the young woman's feet, tripping her and making her fall on her face. Minerva ran to the nearest horse, tied the other end of the rope to the saddle horn, then ran off, dragging the young woman behind her.

Over rocks and hills, weeds and dirt, stony creek and burrs, she dragged the little woman, until she came up to a cliff. Dismounting her house, she hoisted the unconcious, nearly dead girl, who bore resemblence to Terry, and prepared to throw her over the cliff, when her dream faded.

Minerva woke up rapidly, heart beating fast, making her neck hurt where the blood ran to her brain. Fear, panic, adrenaline, and shame coursed through her, trying to recall the dream. I hurt Terry in my dream, she realized. No... the thought of hurting her beloved felt like a stab in the heart. I would rather die than hurt you. A tear ran down her face, she rolled over and hugged her pillow as hard as she could. No....

Terry had suggested that they go to the movies in Lowell that weekend. Her mother didn't mind driving, and if they went to the movies together in Rockwell, people would get a little suspicious, and anyways, they couldn't hold hands, defeating the whole purpose of getting together.

"Hey Terry," Minerva said, giving her a big bear hug and just holding on, unwilling to let go. After that dream I'm afraid to let go, to be honest. Childish me.

A small voice beneath asked, "Minerva, what's wrong?"

"Can't I give my girl a hug?" Minerva said, tone light.

I can tell something's wrong, but I better not push it. It'll just make her mad, knowing how she doesn't like to open up to people. "Well, if we want to get there in time, we better go."

"Alright, captain."

It was a pretty crappy movie, Minerva decided, but Terry using her shoulder as a pillow seemed to make up for it. She glanced at Terry several times and noticed she fell asleep about thirty minutes into the movie, gathering she wasn't too terribly thrilled about it either.

A waste of money and time, Terry decided. Maybe money, but I like my living, breathing, warm pillow here. A big warm hand to interlace my fingers with, too. Don't get to do this any old day, do I? Surrounded by love, Terry let herself drift off to sleep.

A loud explosion onscreen towards the end of the movie startled her awake. "What the--"

"Their car blew up," Minerva drawled sleepily.

"Did I miss anything?" she asked quietly.

"Nothing exciting or worthwhile," Minerva replied, yawning. Terry rested her head back on the cozy shoulder. My honey didn't like the movie either, she thought.

The hammock at Terry's house seemed to be their favorite hangout spot. Sitting under the tree, Minerva laid her head in Terry's lap, the blonde absentmindedly stroking her raven hair.

"So, Minerva, when did you discover you were gay?"

"Er, about fifth grade. Didn't know it at the time, though."

"What do you mean?"

"I developed a bad case of 'hero' worship on a sixth-grader. She was a pretty girl, light brown hair, didn't put up with crap from boys."

"Sounds familiar," Terry mumbled, bringing a smile to both their faces. "Did you go out with her?"

Minerva laughed. "She didn't even know me, Terry." The dark haired girl sighed. "Naturally, every boy was going 'ga-ga' over her along with me."

"When did you figure it out?"

"This one girl moved two doors down from us, two years older. Developed another bad case of 'hero' worship, except it seems to be returned. Remember Letitia?"

"That is a bad case of 'hero' worship," Terry laughed. "Under all that bitchiness she still adores you." A moment of confused silence. "Of course I wouldn't return it to her if I were you. It would disappoint your best fan."

Minerva smiled. "Okay, enough talk from me. When did you figure it out?"

"Sixth grade. Got a crush on my best friend. I thought it was just normal "buddy-buddy" stuff, but after two girls got caught kissing in the bathroom, I figured it out that my 'fantasies' of putting my arms around her were not normal, so I shoved it out of my mind."

"That must of been hard."

"It was, but I tried not to think about it. If it popped up, I shoved it back where it came from."

"So, what was different about me?" asked Minerva.

Terry sat there, wrapping dark locks around her finger. "Hmmm." A gentle September breeze ruffled the leaves of the tree, a couple leaves lazily floating to the ground in the evening light, the windchimes on the porch echoing hauntingly beautiful, random melodies. "Minerva, have you heard of something called 'gaydar?'"

Minerva crinkled her brow. "No."

"It's this sixth sense that clues you in that someone else might be gay."

Minerva smirked. "Must have been in overdrive around me."

"No kidding. Did you feel any sense of 'gaydar' around me?" asked Terry.

"I thought you were cute."

"But did you have any idea that I was gay too?"

"Nope." A dreamy look overcame Minerva's face. "There's a lot of girls I thought were cute who weren't gay, so I figured you weren't any different."

"But I was."

"But I couldn't tell then. Hey, you're the one here who can pinpoint the faintest hint of emotions."

"Does your mother know about us?" Minerva asked. "I'm surprised she's letting me spend the night here."

"Yeah, she knows." A confused look on her face. "She could care less whether we slept together or not." A panicked look crossed Minerva's face.

Not you too. Are you suggesting... Her heart beat faster, and not out of lustful desire, either.

"No, I wasn't suggesting we do that," Terry said. "Not unless you want to."

"No," Minerva blurted out, rather hastily. "I wouldn't put you in that position."

There's a story somewhere here. I can read it on her face. "Were you put in that position?"

Minerva's face dipped down. "Yeah."

Dangerous waters. Should I? I guess. "Want to talk about it?"

"Not really." Minerva laid on her side. "If anyone pesters you for sex and you don't want to give it to them, stand up for yourself." A smirk. "Even if it means you have to jump out the window and run like hell in the middle of the night."

"You did that?"

"Old history."


"If you think Letitia's bad at school, she was worse when it came to sex."

"Did you give it to her?"

"No. Managed to pester the hell out of me, so one night I jumped out the window and ran home, didn't see her for two years after that."


"Hell, I wouldn't know where to start if you asked me to." The mood seemed to lighten up for both of them, as it became clear what limits were set.

Terry laid beside Minerva, facing her. "You've lived here all your life, haven't you?"

"Uh huh," Minerva replied. "All my fourteen long years."

"You like it here?"

"Sort of. Guess that's because I really haven't gotten to see anything different."

"Sort of. What don't you like?" Terry asked, tracing gentle patterns on Minerva's arm, ruffling all the little fine hairs.

"The prejudice and conservatism around here. It's a noxious poison, I tell you." Lost in thoughts, they laid there quietly, gazing adoringly at each other.

"You ever meet someone you never met before and felt like you knew them already?" Terry finally asked.

"Yeah. Once." Silence.

"It's like I knew you from somewhere else. I know we've never met before, but that day when you defended me on the bus, it was like I recognized you."

"Hmm," Minerva breathed. "Same with you. I'm not known for defending people, especially whites, like that." Stroking honey blonde hair lightly, she added, "But there's always a time to change your prejudices."

She glanced over at her friend, asleep. Putting a protective arm around Terry's waist, she shut her eyes and let Morpheus take her wherever he wished.

Chapter VI

Terry rounded the corner, heading to 4th in a hurry, when she ran into a tall, blonde girl: Brandy. Oh no, she's going to give me the tirade too. And Minerva is nowhere to defend me.

"Oh, sorry." Was that apology? What's up her sleeve? Terry picked up one of the books that fell to the ground and handed it back to Brandy, then left, without a word.

It shook her up badly, more than she realized. She ws so accustomed to being on the defensive, expecting a nasty confrontation with Brandy. So when she ran into her by accident she was totally disarmed by the neutral, almost benevolent response.

"Hey, Morgan," she said, sitting next to her friend in the cafeteria. "You're here early. What are you reading?"

"Oh, it's really good book. God's Plan for America, by Rev. Aaron Huntley. You might want to read it sometime. Actually shows a good plan on how to clean up America."

"How?" Terry asked.

"By the Biblical guidelines. The Rock will always stand. This nation is not grounded on the Rock but on loose sand."

"So how do you get rid of the sand?"

"I'm only on the first chapter here. But it suggests that we, as the chosen Christian nation, reinstate Mosaic law."

"What's Mosaic Law?"

"Oh, the rules in Leviticus and other books of the Old Testament."

Morgan continued to read, when she was interrupted, "So if Mosaic Law was reinstated, everyone who eats pork or is a homosexual will be executed. Am I right?"

"Yep. Say, girl, you got some of the fundamentals down. But it's okay to eat pork. However, we need to get rid of that queer trash in our nation."

Oh, you mean me. Thanks a lot. Morgan missed the angry, hurt look emerging on Terry's face. The more she thought about it, the angrier it made her. I guess I'll go bug Minerva. She got up, leaving her lunch on the table. Morgan never bothered to look up.

She was startled to look over and see Terry's lunch sitting alone, without the hungry honey-blonde there to inhale it. Where did she go? She turned the page. If this book made her mad, it's her problem. I'm not going to stop reading it just because it offends her. On the other side was an illustration of a Nazi prisoner wearing a pink triangle. Beneath it, the caption read, "Hitler had the right idea on how to solve the queer problem."

"Hey, Minerva," she said, joining her in line.

"Getting cafeteria food? I thought you said it was fattening."

"No, Morgan's being a fruitcake," she said, rolling her eyes.

That homophobia crap again, I guess, Minerva guessed, looking at her friend's dejected look. She wished she could give her a big hug, or at least put an arm around her, but that would look suspicious, especially coming from "Don't Touch Me" Ice Queen Garcia. "Sorry you had to put up with it," Minerva quietly muttered.

"Let's sit elsewhere today," Terry suggested.

They decided to go to her geometry teacher's classroom. At least peace and quiet was guaranteed.

"Okay, Terry, spill it," she said, getting out lined paper so their conversation could remain private. "Where's your lunch?"

"Left it behind. I'm in no mood to eat."

"That's a first." Morgan really upset her. Oh, that's not good, Morgan. You're getting on my bad side with all that 'queer trash' bullshit.

Terry took Minerva's pencil and wrote it down. Morgan was reading this book, God's Plan for America, and was going on and on how good it was. I asked her what it was about, and she said it was a way to reform the nation. How? Mosaic law.

Minerva furiously wrote back, What's Mosaic law? That Leviticus crap that says thou shalt not be gay?

Terry wrote back, Yep, and the same law that says we both should be burnt on the stake.

No wonder you're pissed off at her. I would be too. Actually, I am. The pencil lead broke off, so she clicked on the pencil to feed more lead through. I don't like it when people hurt those I love. She handed Terry the paper, and the blonde read it. A grateful smile crossed Terry's face.

Just then, Morgan emerged, coming in. "There you are, you little rat!" she said playfully. Two angry eyes looked at her. Don't tell me they're talking shit about me too. "Hey, what's wrong?"

Minerva's eyes turned ice cold. "What's up with all this homophobia crap you're indoctorining into Terry?"

"I'm not doing any such thing," Morgan said. Minerva got up and walked over to her, making her added half-foot of height readily noticible to Morgan.

"Oh yes you are," Minerva growled softly. "Listen, not everyone around here is as intolerant as you," the dark haired girl snarled quietly, but not sans fierceness, poking her in the stomach just enough to make it known she wasn't joking. She took the book out of Morgan's hand. "God's Plan for America, by the Rev. Aaron Huntley." A familiar, sickening chill went down her spine, an image of a dark, unruly haired brute with a goatee and shirtless vest flashing in her mind, but disappearing just as fast before she could figure it out. Flipping through the pages, she stopped at the picture of a Nazi prisoner wearing the pink triangle.

Terry got up when she saw Minerva's face turn feral. Minerva was fuming, and hopefully she could keep this from escalating. "What the fuck is this shit?" Minerva hissed, eyeing the picture. "Maybe we should have a bigot star for people like you," she hissed.

"Minerva, back away, now!" Terry commanded. "I said move," then wedging herself between the two. "This will escalate no further. Go sit down," she told the dark haired girl, "and you go away, Morgan."

Morgan realized she had been lucky that Terry intervened right then and there, since Minerva looked ready to take her head off. Slipping out the door, she ran down to the main hall, then stopped, her legs and hands shaking. She backed up a little bit, then sat on the concrete.

Great. I think I just lost my best friend. Sadness echoed inside. Swift move, Morgan. Swift. She laid her head back on the stucco wall, the words of the Rev. Huntley coming back. If you do not tell them the truth, their blood will be upon your head. She thumbed through the book. Truth hurts, but it must be said. Reading, she tried to forget the confrontation that just occurred.

"Hey, Morgan," a voice said. Looking up, she saw Brandy. "Why you being a loner today? Fight with Terry?"

Morgan looked back down, resuming to reading her book. Brandy sat down beside her. Yep, they fought, the tall blonde girl concluded. And by the looks of that book, I suppose it has something to do with her being gay. Well, this is turning out to be quite interesting. I might get my best friend back after all. Brandy leaned back and shut her eyes. If I can get her to talk to me.

Minerva invited Terry over to her house for the evening. She had to translate everything between her mother and Terry, but she was used to being an interpreter for the family.

"Wow, these tamales are delicious!" Terry said, mouth agape. "You cannot buy anything like this in a restraunt!"

Minerva beamed. She was a little nervous that Terry would see her cultural traditions and run, but maybe she was jumping the gun on what an Anglo like her could tolerate. "Family recipe."

Dolores came in the room. "Como le gusta las tamales?"

"Terry le gustalo mucho."

Dolores smiled. "Family recipe from our Spanish ancestry." Her mother sat down in the old chair. "We weren't always a poor family. We can trace our ancestry back to the Crusades when a warrior who was known as the Black Knight of Thrace got lost coming come at sea and landed in Spain. Her and her men---"

"A woman?" asked Terry. "That's unusual for medieval times."

"No one knew then. She founded El Lugar de los Gonzales, Castle of the Wolves, in Basque country. She ruled over that region for about twenty years when greedy landlords to the south found out the ruler was a woman, reported it to the Vatican, who had her burned at stake."

"A sad story, in my opinion. The ending, that is," Minerva added.

"Her son, Hernan, the Yellow Hawk, drove off the landlords and preserved the estate. Our line emigrated to Alta California in the 1700s, but our land was seized by land hungry Americanos after the war, leaving us very poor."

"Something similar happened to our family. My grandparents had a huge farm that they lost during the Dust Bowl. We never did recover from that."

Despite the cultural, language, and prejudicial barrier, a common bond began to develop between Terry and Dolores. Just because she was white didn't mean she had everything handed to her on a silver platter, Dolores relized.

After dinner, Minerva and Terry strolled around. "What's that?" the blonde asked, pointing to an old painting. Minerva blushed.

"Oh yes, the Black Knight of Thrace," Minerva said.

"Who's that blonde next to her?" The dark haired girl squinted.

"I don't know. I'll ask my mother."

Dolores was hesistant to say. "Does Terry have a prejudice against gays?" she asked her daughter. Minerva shook her head 'no.'

Mija, family legend says the blonde was her lover. However, I don't know much about her, since it was politically incorrect at the time to be gay. In fact, that's how the Black Knight of Thrace was betrayed. Another woman wanted her, she was already 'married' to the blonde, so she spilled the beans about who the Black Knight of Thrace was.

They went outside in the tiny garden the Garcia family had outside their apartment. "So, you got Greek ancestry?" Minerva nodded. "Funny, my grandma said my family had Greek ancestry too."

"You have way too fair of a complexion to be Greek."

"Mom said Grandma was getting senile when she said that. Very nice how she dashed my dreams of being a Greek warrior, fighting battles and---"

"Greek women didn't fight. Are you of a Celtic ancestry?"

"Yes, but---"

"The Celts let their women fight. In fact, the Romans would rather fight the men instead of the women, they were so fierce!"

"I didn't know that."

Terry had to go to the bathroom, and said she'd be right back. Minerva sat on the edge of the wide edged planter, when she heard a rustling in the tree. A dark figure emerged. Letitia.

"Hello, my princess charming. All those two years, I had thought you had moved. Lo, how wrong I was."

"I don't know what you're doing here, but you aren't welcome."

Painted eyebrows quirked. "I don't know about that."

"Well, I do, so get lost."

Terry came out the door. "Where were we last?" Letitia asked. "Before that little blonde gringa came?"

Terry stood there, hands on hips. "What the hell is Letitia doing here, Minerva?"

"Oh, about to resume 'business.' Leave it to YOU to spoil the moment," Letitia answered.

"Fuck off."

"Excuse me?" Letitia hissed, getting closer.

"I said FUCK OFF."

"You heard her," Terry said, approaching Letitia while Minerva backed away. "And you do not want to deal with me when I'm pissed."

Letitia laughed. "Minerva's little whore beat me up? What a---"

It was a vicious blow that sent her crashing to the ground, then another fist before Letitia could react. "Now get lost."

"She weightlifts, Letitia. Forgot to mention that," Minerva said, a mischievious tone to her voice. However, the brunette troublemaker refused the budge, even after a bloody lip and nose.

"She must have dyslexia," Terry sighed. "Because she still hasn't figured it out." Then she shoved Letitia backwards, straight into a mud puddle created when Dolores watered the garden earlier. Minerva sank to her knees, bent over laughing, while Terry stood in front of Letitia, seething. "Move, bitch!"

Humiliated, the brunette slulked off, mud caked on her clothes, face, and in her hair.

"Hey, they say that crap's good for your face!" Terry shouted. Turning around, she saw Minerva bent over, laughing, clutching her side. "What's so funny?"

Uh oh. Something's wrong here. Minerva tried to put a straight face on, but an image of Letitia the bitch covered in a mud bath flashed in her mind, making her giggle uncontrollably.

"What was Letitia doing in your tree?" Terry angrily asked. "Waiting for me to get lost so you two could roll around on the grass like a pair of weasels?"

Am I really hearing this? Sweet Mary, tell me this is just a dream. A really bad dream and nothing more. "Terry, I was not doing any such thing. Why would you believe her? She's lying her ass off just to make you mad." A moment of silence, then she added, "She seemed to have suceeded."

"If you wanted to take our relationship one step further, why didn't you say something instead of sneaking around with her? You could have told me. Or don't you trust me? Tell me, Minerva."

I am not going to listen to this. Grabbing Terry's wrist gently but firmly, she said, "I can't believe you're actually going to believe her. Or don't you trust me?"

Terry looked up into Minerva's eyes, an emotionless mask. Oh shit, I really screwed myself here, didn't I? She's shut herself off. "I trust you. I guess the jealous green monster within got the better of me." Don't let this ruin it, please accept my apology. Please?

She let down her mask, shaking. You scared the shit out of me, Terry. For a minute there I thought your next words would be 'it's over.' Sensing Minerva's fear, Terry wrapped her arms around Minerva and rested her head on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry." She could feel Minerva shake more, and warm droplets on top of her head. I really did it this time. I think she's crying. "I love you."

Chapter VII

It was that dream again, leaving Minerva awake, feeling alone and abandoned.

A farm boy took her girl's hand and married her, leaving her behind. Of course the girl said she could come back and visit, but Minerva knew she'd wear her visit out very quickly. After all, three's a crowd, especially when it came to the marriage bed. Face it, just because you love her that way doesn't mean she shares the same feelings. She has her life, I have mine, or what little's left of mine. Time to hunt down the immortal Psycho-Barbie.

She remembered trying to suppress all the tears that wanted to course down her face while watching her beloved marry her betrothed. She walked all night away from the village, tears streaming in her face, the branches hitting her in the face did not hurt any, the pain of being separated hurt too much for her to care. Exhausted, she collasped in the tall grass by the stream around dawn, and never felt the ants bite her. Life was no longer worth living anymore.

I suppose our fight was pretty nasty, Minerva deduced, wrapping her arms around her pillow. I'm sure doing that a lot lately. I am turning into such a mushball.

It was nearly her usual rising time, so Minerva got up, went to the bathroom, splashed cold water on her face, dried herself off, then went into the kitchen.

Dolores sat at the counter, paying bills, when she saw Minerva walk in. "Buenas dias, mija."

"Buenas dias tambien, mama."

"Por que te levantas tan temprano?"

"Yo tuve un mal sueño," Minerva sighed.

"Mi hija, siempre tiene sueños malos."

"Voy a bañarme antes de Callida se levanta."


It took a little while for Morgan to find Terry the next morning, Tuesday morning. She figured Terry was still mad at her, which gave her all the more reason to hunt her down and talk to her. I know, since I'm so popular, everyone thinks I have oodles and oodles of friends to gab with. But that is so wrong. Oodles and oodles of 'acquaintances' who hang around me just because I'm popular and in reality, don't hang around me for who I actually am. Kind of hurts, if you think about it.

She was rather surprised to see Minerva pass down the hall without her little shadow. Maybe she's not here. She headed back when she spotted Terry, talking to Brandy. What the hell? Brandy hates her guts!

"Hey, Terry," she said, approaching her from behind. The short, honey-blonde girl turned around.

"Hey," she said, without enthusiasm.

"Terry, we need to talk." She didn't look too happy, but she went ahead and followed Morgan, both of them stopping when out of earshot of the rest of the school. "Hey, girl, what's wrong?"

"Just confused."

"About what?"

A little blush on Terry's fair cheeks. "Everything." She saw her little friend needed a hug.

"Care to tell me?" Terry looked more and more upset, tears threatening. "Don't cry, Terry, don't cry," she cooed as her friend cried on her shoulder, the sobs subsiding soon.

"My neighbor told me I was going to burn in hell."

"He was just blowing steam, I'm sure."

"No, look, I don't want to talk about it. He's a nice neighbor, but a little narrow minded."

"You're confused about Minerva, aren't you?" Morgan asked politely, trying to give Terry room to run if she needed it. A little head bobbed. "Hey, it's normal to be a tad bit interested in girls at this age. You'll grow out of it."

I don't think I'm going to grow out of this, Morgan. I never have liked guys, Leonardo di Caprio is just a stick boy, I... I just don't get how someone could get the hots for some overly macho, testosterone laden guy who just wants to screw you and then leave. "Hope so."

"Hey, if it bothers you, you might want to talk to the minister at our church. He's pretty nice. He'll help you out."

Probably an ex-gay minister. I've heard horror stories. I don't think I want to talk to him, Terry thought. "I'm sure it's just a phase," Terry said, trying to end this uncomfortable conversation.

Morgan began to walk away, then glanced over when Minerva approached Terry.

"Hey," Minerva said, stopping about three feet in front of her, wearing a fitted navy tee shirt and baggy black jeans, contrasting with her bright goldenrod yellow backpack. Terry, dressed in a short sleeved red Hawaiian print shirt and belted blue jeans, stood there, hands on hips.

"Oh, hey," the short honey-blonde replied.

Minerva looked down, feeling fidgetty. She steeled up all her courage, looked up, and asked, "You still mad at me?"

"Hmm," Terry breathed.

That didn't sound too good. Shit, thought Minerva. One way or another, I'm going to have to get rid of my past if I want any future with her. No one should have to put up with Letitia's shit. I'm lucky Terry has been around this long. She dropped her gaze, hanging her head down, trying to hide the expression of her stomach in knots.

Terry finally looked back down. "Sure."

I have a little room to maneuver here, Minerva realized. "Hey, I'm sorry about the bitch disturbing us. If I knew she was going to go to those lengths, I would have done something to prevent it."

"Like what?" Terry retorted.

Oh crap. I haven't thought about it. Her hands started to shake. "I'm trying to figure that out right at the moment."

"Well, when you figure it out, tell me, okay?" Terry said, arms crossed. "Don't tell me anything until you figure it out." Then she whirled about and walked away to the campus center, presumably where Morgan was.

Minerva stood there, stunned, trying to say something but nothing coming out. Putting her hand to her head, scratching her brow, she tried to figure out what she could have done differently, and became angry at herself when she couldn't figure out just what she could have done. The hairs on the back of her neck began to bristle, and she turned around.

Brandy, of course, who had a look on her face as if she had a big canister of salt to liberally apply to her wounds. "Fight with your honey?" she laughed. "C'mon, don't try to deny it, half the school knows already. From the look on your face, I dare say it must have been nasty." Brandy turned to one side, to walk away, and uttered something that sounded like, "Too bad I wasn't there to watch it." If Minerva didn't feel so sad and broken, she would have pounded Brandy into a pulp for saying that, but she simply didn't have the energy to deal with it, so she let it go by.

She needed room to sort her feelings out, and having Minerva around was confusing her. I'm not a dyke, am I? The vision of my future has always been growing up, going to college, getting married to some handsome prince, and having kids. Plenty, I like kids. That's not going to happen if I'm a lesbian, is it? Okay, so I think she's handsome, don't think she's my type. I can't envision spending the rest of my life with another woman. It's just--- urgh! My mother might care less, but my grandparents will be very disappointed if I don't give them great-grandkids. I'm so confused.... Terry thought, her foot twitching on the picnic bench where she sat. Morgan was animated talking to a group of her closest friends, preoccupied with talking smack about the JV volleyball coach.

Minerva felt like a zombie walking to first period Biology. She couldn't even remember walking over there; one moment Terry told her not to speak unless she had a solution to the Letitia proble, the next Brandy was saying something that she presumed couldn't have been too nice, and then she was here, in biology, her friend Maria taunting the boys behind them.

Not that Maria didn't miss the lost look on Minerva's face. She took out a pen and paper and wrote, What's wrong? Had a fight with Terry?

Uh huh. Maria read it, then signalled to explain. Told me not to talk to her until I find a solution to the Letitia problem.

Maria took the paper, and quirked her eyebrows. The bitch is still giving you problems? she wrote furiously. Geez, Minerva, maybe you might want to talk to your counselor. That's harassment. You've tried everything short of physically hurting her. She handed the paper to Minerva to read.

The tall, dark haired girl read it. Hmm. I don't trust my counselor enough to tell him I'm gay, though. She wrote, I really don't want to spill the beans to my counselor. I don't exactly get along with him.

Maria put her hand up, then wrote. I'm sure my counselor will talk to you. She's a really nice lady, I'm sure she'll help you even if you aren't her regular assigned student. Anyways, I'm glad I don't have Mr. Franco for a counselor. He gives me the creeps. How about we go at brunch?

Good idea.

Chapter VIII

Mrs. Kirby was a nice lady, just as Maria said, but couldn't do much to stop the harassment from Letitia, since it was not opposite gender harassment. 'That's fucked,' she remember Maria muttering after leaving the counselor's office. 'If Letitia was a guy he'd have been expelled for it.' 'That's the whole deal,' Minerva told her. 'Since she isn't, they deny there is such thing as same-sex harassment.' 'That's a crock of shit for you,' Maria said, shaking her head. 'We'll find a way to help you. No one should have to put up with little possessed demon by herself.'

However, Mrs. Kirby was willing to send her to talk to the school psychologist. Great, now I'm getting referred to the school shrink. Just wonderful. After the Leila incident I got sent to the school shrink, and he tried to get me into some ex-gay program. You'd think in this day and age they'd stop discriminating, but that's just an urban myth.

Dolores never suspected her daughter was in her bedroom crying her eyes out. Since Minerva went in her room after school anyways, she didn't give it any second notice. Why? Why can't I learn my lesson? What did I think made Terry any different from the others? I got a cold shoulder all day from her. I don't think we're going to last much longer. It's pretty much over now. Enjoy the fun while you can, for you're going to have one hell of a heartache afterwards.

Ah, I know what was different about her. She didn't chase me out by demanding sex. Save some embarassment there.

She fell asleep that afternoon, but woke up often, sweat-drenched and remembering the hell she was living in. However, Morpheus's realm would soon be worse to hide in than reality itself.

It was that dream again, where she dreamed she lassoed Terry by the ankles and dragged her nearly to death by the ankles, then taking her limp body and preparing to throw it over the cliff.

But this time she managed to stop the dream before she threw the honey-blonde girl over the cliff. Lowering the limp bundle to her chest, she cradled the bard, her legs shaking, realizing what she had just done to the only person who mattered to her in the whole entire world. Her knees finally gave out and she sat by the edge of the cliff, the bard's head resting on her shoulder, no sign of consciousness coming from her face. She gingerly checked her breath and pulse, then stroked a few blonde hairs back behind her ear, tears streaming down her face. Please don't leave me again. Not that I deserve you, not after this. Gabrielle? Gods, don't let her die. Take my life instead. I do not deserve it.

It was about the worst dream of them all, Minerva concluded, shaking badly. She got up, went to the bathroom, but it calmed her down little. She wished she was still a little kid, so she could crawl in her parent's bed where she knew she'd be safe, but she was a big girl now and couldn't do that, so she elected to walk around the garden outside in the moonlight instead.

Letitia was there, in a thin nightgown, pulling up flowers out of the garden and making a wreath to put on her head. She looked up. "Ah, my warrior princess. Sick of Terry? Not enough action? What a shame. For a while it look like you two had some chemistry going there."

"Get out of here. You're pulling up all the flowers. They're not free, they cost money."

Letitia put on puppy dog eyes. "Aren't I worth all the gold in the world?"

Minerva narrowed her eyes. Vain, arrogant, self centered bitch. "No you aren't worth even one damn ounce. Now shoo!"

Letitia put her hands on her hips, making a face of mock indignance. "Is that how you address nobility?"

That's it. Time for drastic measures. May go to Juvie for it, but this has to stop. Walking over, she socked Letitia, knocking down, and never looked twice, walking back to the house and locking the deadbolt.

Minerva walked about the garden the next morning. There was a fair amount of blood, but Letitia had managed to high-tail it out of her yard. Picking up a rake, she mixed it with the ground so her mother wouldn't discover it and freak out.

She wished she didn't have to resort to hitting her. It was as if she was anticipating the cops to pull up to the driveway, SWAT team and all, and surround the house, jumping off the roof in their black shirts, vests, and slacks, with machine guns at hand, tackling her to the ground brutally and slapping cold, hard steel handcuffs and tightening them until she could no longer feel her hands, getting cold, clammy, and blue.

Emotion overwhelming her, she collasped to the ground, sitting, pondering how she was going to put her life back together without Terry. Letting her come in the first place was a big mistake. Being a loner was better, she knew it, but her weak flesh was out to hurt her.

Dolores came outside. "Todos buenos, mija?" she asked, concerned.

"Todo está bien, mama," Minerva muttered.

Dolores walked over to where her daughter was. "Terry broke up with you, didn't she?" A blush came to Minerva's face, partially out of embarrassment that her strict, devout Catholic mother figured out that her and Terry were not just friends. The mention of Terry's name hurt, though, and she flinched. "My poor daughter," Dolores said, noting the wince. "She seemed too nice to do something so mean," she added.

"I'll live."

"Descanso está listo."

"No tengo hambre," Minerva replied, picking up the wilting flower and twirling it in her hand.

"Está tu favorito, huevos y pan."

Minerva shook her head. "No tengo hambre," she repeated.

She stalked her hapless prey who seemed to walk way too fast for her to catch up too. That was the difference between her five foot five height and her quarry's six feet of long, muscular, graceful limbs. She decided to cut over at the next hallway in hopes that Minerva and her gang would wander by.

She stepped out when she saw Minerva, her prediction correct. "Hello, Minerva."

"Hey, Terry." Hopeful, childlike blue eyes looked at her.

"Did you figure out how to solve the Letitia problem yet?"

"Well, she isn't at school today," Minerva offered.

"But did you solve it for good?"

"No," she said, barely audible, the hope in her eyes becoming of a desperate type.

Can't chicken out now, Terry. Tell her. "It's over." Hurt blue eyes darted to the ground in hopes that Terry couldn't see it. "I'm just not sure about us. I don't see how it can work." Then she left.

Maria looked at Minerva. I can't believe Terry did that. I thought she was a nice person. So much for that theory. Looks like Minerva got suckered by that same lie. "Minerva?"

She could see her poor friend was on the verge of crying. Oh gods, she looks like she's going to fall apart right here. "When will I learn?" she heard Minerva gasp.

Morgan remembered when Terry came over at brunch and bawled on her shoulder, crying her little heart. When the sobs subsided, she asked, "Terry, what happened?"

"I broke up with Minerva. I're right, it's just a phase."

Minerva's a godless homosexual heathen, Morgan thought. Mercilessly breaking girls' fragile hearts. How low. And trying to convert Terry. Lowest of the low. Bitch.

"Morgan?" Terry asked, seeing her friend's expression harden. I wish I didn't have to do this. I still love her with all my heart. And this is not a phase, but this atmosphere around this school is so hostile, I feel compelled like lie. Especially to Morgan. I can't lose her either. I wish I didn't have to choose. Why are you making me do this? Why? It made her cry all the more.

She really broke Terry's heart. All the more reason to tell her off. At lunch. Today. If I don't straighten her out, who will?

She saw Minerva sitting at the table, picking at her meal, her spoon not going to her mouth once. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe she loved her....

She heard her own thoughts. No she didn't! Morgan corrected herself. Don't you dare pity the bitch!

She sat down across from Minerva. "We need to talk."

Minerva looked up at her. Oh no, not you too. She felt her heart fall.

Outside, Morgan stopped. "I can't believe you did that to Terry, you godless heathen! How can you hurt her like that? I thought you were a nice person. Obviously, I'm wrong. And if you lay a finger on her, I'm going to send your guts flying all across the school. Got that?"

She bore her stare into Minerva's eyes. "GOT THAT?" Morgan growled. Minerva turned away, unable to speak. "Don't walk away from me like that!" Morgan growled.

'Don't walk away from me like that!' Letitia yelled, embarrassing Minerva in front of the entire campus. 'How dare you walk away from me, you coward!' Leila yelled when Minerva broke up with her. 'Don't you dare walk away!' the three voices said in unison. Shaking, Minerva tried to shove all the tears away, like all the other times she was hurt, but she couldn't find anywhere to store them, not this time. Wet tears, the pain of the past two days hitting her like a ton of bricks, coursed down her face. Great, Morgan is going to wonder what type of person I am, bawling like a little baby.

Morgan grabbed Minerva's arm and spun her around to look at her, ready to yell at her again when she saw Minerva was crying. I don't think that idea of mine was very wise. She's hurting pretty badly to let tears come down her face.

"Minerva?" Morgan asked.

"Are you finished yelling at me?" Minerva asked impatiently.

"Yes, but---"

"I best get out of your hair." Minerva walked away, weaving back in the cafeteria, out of sight.

Morgan stood there. I hope that didn't have any hidden meanings.

Morgan kept glancing at Minerva, who stared at her math, pencil hand twitching, unable to work. She was becoming pretty worried about Minerva, she seemed to be falling apart at the seams.

Brandy kept glancing over at Minerva. She's broken now. Out of the race. But Morgan hasn't dumped Terry as a friend yet. Damn. I'm going to have to do something more drastic if I want my friend here back.

Subconsciously, she thought, Anniliate Terry.

Chapter IX

"Why do you put up with Terry?" asked Brandy after fifth period.

"She's my friend."

"Your gay friend," Brandy added.

"It's just a phase. See, she's already grown out of it."

Brandy narrowed her eyes. "I'm not so sure about that, Morgan. Look at Terry. She still loves Minerva. Look at Minerva. She still loves Terry. Has it occurred to you maybe she's lying just so she doesn't look like 'devil spawn' in your eyes?"

"Terry's not like that."

"Of course she's not like that. But she doesn't have many friends around this school, Morgan. She's still new here. Any friend is a valuable friend, Morgan. And you'll do anything to keep that friend, even if it isn't your style."

Er, that would explain all the crying, wouldn't it? Or would it? "Couldn't blame her," Morgan said nonchalantly, sure that Brandy was expecting Morgan to get mad.

Brandy furrowed her brow. She thinks I'm joking in the very least. "If she stayed gay, would you still be her friend?"

"Of course. Friends stick by friends for who they are, not who they perceive them to be."

"Don't you remember anything Reverend Huntley said?" Brandy said, exasperated, walking away.

You just do that, walk away. I'm not stupid enough to walk into one of your traps, Morgan thought, with a sigh.

She was getting pretty worried about Minerva when she didn't show up during PE. It was not like Minerva to ditch class unless she was feeling sick. Which was only once. She had begun to look a little green towards the end of fifth.

Terry pretended not to notice Minerva's absence, but Morgan knew better. Walking back to the locker room, Morgan pulled her aside, and asked, "You miss her, don't you?"

"No," came the manufactured reply.

"Hey, it's not like I'm going to tell you to get lost if you're gay. Okay?" Morgan put a reassuring hand on Terry's arm.

Terry shook her head. "I just need time to adjust. It's like, so new to me. I feel like I'm going faster than a roller coaster, all these emotions. It's not Minerva's fault."

"I understand," Morgan said.

"Thanks. But I'm not ready to jump back quite yet."


Morgan decided an apology was due to Minerva. It was the least she could do, considering she bit Minerva's head off when she needed a friend most.

"Hi--" she sputtered before Minerva put turned her head around and put her hand up for Morgan to be quiet. Then she turned her head around.

"I can't believe Morgan still stuck with Terry, even though she knows she's gay!" a familiar, demonic voice chimed. "For crying out Christmas, she was sucking the tonsils out of Minerva!"

"Minerva?" an unfamiliar voice asked. "That bitch?"

"Yeah," the familiar voice sighed. It's Brandy, Morgan realized.

"We can't have perverted agents of satan running around this school! What are we going to do about it?"

Brandy laughed. "Minerva is too busy feeling sorry for herself to get in the way. That only leaves Terry."

"What are you going to do about her?"

"Kill her."


"Kill her. I'm going to have my best friend back, damn it, that little irritating blonde is not going to stop me from my quest!"

"My ride's here. See you Monday."


Morgan stood on her tiptoes, put her hand on Minerva's back for balance, and whispered in her ear, "Did I hear what I just heard?"

"Yep," Minerva said.

"Terry said something about going to Brandy's house this evening yesterday."

"What?" Minerva said, whirling about. "How can she be so naive? Brandy's a bloodthirsty shark, plain and simple. How can she not see that?"

"That's what I'd like to know," Morgan said, shaking her head.

"What are we going to do? We can't let Brandy do that to her!" Minerva said, voice hinting at frantic.

"We'll stop her. I think I know what she's thinking."

"What's that?"

"There is an underground cave towards the back of the Creighton property. My guess is Brandy's going to take her out there, and inside, where a deep pit lies, and throw her down that. Sounds convenient and logical to me. So my thought is that we sneak onto the property and see if we can see what's up."

"Good idea. Uh..."

"Call your mother and see if you can spend the night there. I'll go bug Greg and see if I can get him to come. We'll need all the help we can get."

A gentle late September breeze blew past the Keir front porch. Minerva was quite astounded at the sight (it's a frigging mansion! Minerva whispered under her breath, making Greg laugh when he saw her go bug-eyed), but got used to it pretty quick.

Greg had gone home to fetch rope, twine, and two changes of dark clothing, one for him and one for Minerva, since they were about the same size. Minerva chuckled when she saw him walk in his Wranglers and cowboy hat, and joked, "He's sure a charmer. Too bad I'm not straight." Morgan smiled.

"Too bad, eh? Second thoughts?"


Morgan smiled at her friend. So close to losing her this afternoon. Luckily, she wasn't lost. Not today.

"Hey, pretties," Greg said, flirting like usual.

Morgan got out a local map. "Here's the cavern," she pointed out, making a pencil mark deep into the mountains.

"How will we get there?"

Morgan took the pencil and outlined a faint gravel road. "Since it's private, I can go ahead and drive us there. I've done it before. Mr. Borden, who owns it, doesn't mind."

"Here's the entrance," she pointed out. "And here's the back entrance. My assumption is she's not going to sneak all the way around to the back, since it is one heck of a long walk, about five miles to circle the mountain. I'm going to park here--" marking an X on the map "--and we'll decide how to proceed when we're there."

Two heads, one dark, one sandblonde, nodded in affirmation.

Chapter X

It was a horribly bumpy ride in the truck, and Morgan did manage to miss shifting into a couple of gears several times, and stalled it once, cursing it under her breath. Why did I have to inherit the stick shift?

Silently through the tall grass, Morgan, Greg, and Minerva slithered, like cougars stalking their prey. The moonshine illuminated their way, the coyotes hid behind the brush, waiting for their feared interruption to pass before pouncing on mice for dinner. A calico cat darted across their path, and climbed up the rickety old wooden fence and leared at the three teens, yellow eyes ablaze with hellfire.

The mountain at the edge of the Creighton property was huge, covered with live oaks and an occasional pine. Dusk was approaching; silently, the threesome slipped inside the cave.

Another couple dozen footsteps, then Morgan turned aside and put her hand up. "I'm going to scout. Where I point, you go. I'm in charge here."

"I've always liked this mysterious cavern," Brandy told Terry, wielding the flashlight to reveal interesting crystaline structures within the cave. "We're just about to the main corridor. I'll light the lantern I have in there."

The narrow head room suddenly opened up into a vast wide room; however, Terry could see little, and flashlight only illuminated dust particles falling to the crowd. This is kind of creepy, like Halloween. Safe creepy.

Suddenly, she felt herself pressed against the wall, her hands forced behind her waist, and rough rope tied around her hands and feet. Brandy then threw her on the ground, sauntered over to the three lanterns in the room and lit them. The main corridor eerily came to life.

In the center was a huge pit, surrounded by jagged rocks, that Brandy dragged her to, then shined the flashlight down, and threw a penny and it went 'clink' about ten seconds later. Nothing could be seen within. "You know what, little girl, I'm going to throw you down there." Brandy pulled the black cloak over her head, and stuck a dagger in her belt. "I've been planning this for so long." She tied her victim to a pole to make sure Terry couldn't escape while she finished preparations, circling the room and lighting candles in all six corners of the corridor, casting a red, hellish glow around the room. "The little bitch who stole my best friend." She stopped and scowled at Terry, bending down and looking at her at eyelevel. "Such terrible injustices must be avenged." Brandy slinked off to the opposite side of the room, and began pulling on a variety of levers to activate a pulley system. A small chandelier eased its way down from the vaulted ceiling, and Brandy took a long stick and lit the three candles, tightly bunched, then used the pulleys to lift it back to where it originally was, then pulled another level and a thin rope dangled down, which she grabbed and pulled to the side. She untied Terry from the pole and tied her to the dangling rope, then went over to the pulleys and started to hoist Terry up.

"Brandy! What the hell are you doing?" she shrieked. "Brandy?" The fair blonde laughed.

"I told you: I'm going to throw you in that pit. But it's going to be in a grand way. That rope is going to burn through, slowly, and then, you'll feel your body weight breaking the last remaining strands. All of a sudden, WHAM! You're in a free fall, you know you're going to hit the jagged bottom any minute, and a million shards of rock are going to pierce your body, sending bolts of pain if you're lucky enough to be alive. Else, you'll be enjoying your new home in Tartarus."

"Brandy...." she cried, tears of fear coursing down her face.

"Don't 'Brandy' me, you little whore. You're getting your just desserts."

She went to the south of the corridor, and lit three candles on the altar. "Ares, god of war, I summon you therefore to witness the avengeance of my grievance. Take this blood splattered carcass of this sacrifice as an honor from me, and display her mangled face in your hall, to show that you will always reign supreme."

She filled a chalice with wine, and put a veal sweetbread on the plate as an offering, with a cup of blood pudding on the side. She turned around to Terry. "I strangled that calf myself with its umbilical cord. Here's the heart---" she took her dagger and skewered a beef heart on a platter to the side of the altar and held it up. "True power is when you can take it away from others. Just as I'm going to do with you." Brandy sat on a stool, her hands arranged in a meditative pose. "Power of Ares, here I seek, to be your disciple, this I speak," she chanted repeatedly.

"Power of Ares..."

Morgan crept in the back entrance of the main corridor, Brandy's back turned to her. She motioned Greg and Minerva forward. She heard the mantra.

"Power of Ares, here I seek..." Morgan's mouth dropped when she saw Terry dangling from the ceiling over the pit. "Move, now!"

"I'll take Brandy," Minerva whispered. "Greg, get Terry. You got the rope."

Brandy saw the intrusion on her sacrificial ritual. "Damn you guys, you weren't supposed to interrupt this."

"Interrupt what? Your sacrifice of a virgin?" snarled Minerva.

"Virgin? I bet you took care of that the first date."

"Your perverted little mind wishes so." Brandy moved and brandished a sword. "Death of the warrior bitch!" then she swung her sword at Minerva's head. The dark haired girl ducked and lunged for her midsection, knocking Brandy down. The blonde wriggled out under Minerva's pin, and rushed to impale Minerva, who was lying on the ground. Rolling over, she missed being skewered, and managed to stumble onto her feet.

Ice gray eyes shimmered from Brandy's face. "Callisto returns," she hissed. "And I'll finally avenge my death, Xena. Even if it means taking the life of your hapless descendant." She swung at Minerva's midsection, and Minerva backed up, against a wall. "And the irritating little bard of yours will perish too. Even if it is her descendant." The possessed Brandy whirled around to take a whack at Minerva's head, but the dark haired girl leaned forward and kicked Brandy back. "This wouldn't have had to happen if Gabrielle didn't warn her earlier descendant Janice Covington of that rock slide I started. She was supposed to be the sacrifice. Gods know, she's only managed to get in the way of great Ares plans for thousands of years."

Minerva spied the sword hidden between the crevice of the rock crack. She pulled it out. "Time to even the bet."

"Honey, you don't know how to use that thing," the spirit of Callisto mocked. "And I don't think Xena's going to be here in time to help you out, little bitch. Hope you burn in Tartarus along with that Terry whore of yours." She swung again, and Minerva ducked; Brandy reversed and swung at her knees, which required a quick, high hop to avoid a possible amputation. Brandy then reversed again to the chest, and it suddenly looked like it was over.

She felt something within her take her; she was no longer in control of her body. Taking her sword, she blocked the swing and countered, sending Brandy stumbling back in a hurry to defend herself. Circling round the pit, each one exchanging thrusts and subsequent blocks, they parried, a power struggle so intense one could think the abyss was actually a steaming lava pit.

Where's Morgan and Greg? Shit, I think he forgot the rope, so he went back to go get it. Great! Not good. And what the fuck is Morgan doing sitting in that corner? Is this some deathtrap on me here?

As she got closer, she could see Morgan was preoccupied. A man who resembled Ares stood in front of her, preaching how Terry and Minerva, being gay, were going to meet their fate for their 'perverted' choice. Morgan tried several times to go around him, but the Ares man in the blue suit and khakis would not let her. "Let God take care of them," he said. "It is not in your hands any longer."

It's a deathtrap alright. I got Callisto and Ares against me.

"I want through. I've decided all about it. Shoo!" Morgan said to the Rev. Aaron Huntley.

"You're going to go defy God, aren't you?"

"You're defying God by not preaching love but hate instead."

Huntley crossed his arms, an amused expression on his face. "Really?" he smirked. "Listen, girl, God puts men in charge. And you are not supposed to speak out against me. My word is better than yours."

"You sound like a five-year old."

Huntley grabbed Morgan by the shirt, pulled her off her feet, and growled in her face, "Women are weak. They sinned first. Read Genesis. Your place is in the home, barefoot and pregnant, not backtalking to a minister, got that?!"

An image, like a past recollection, of an unruly haired man, rough goatee and sleeveless vest, flashed before her eyes. ""

Suddenly, the Reverend transformed into the god of war. "Damn!"

Morgan dropped her jaw. What the hell....God, you have an imposter at work, spreading unholy war in your name.... "You have no business being a minister."

Ares' face turned crimson.

"You're not a man for're a god out to convert men to warlike ways."

The god's face turned even darker, if that was possible. "You will tell no one about this. Or I will sic the Furies on you. Got that?"


The god disappeared. Morgan shook, her concept of religion suddenly turned upside down, put in the blender, and shredded on high. Legs collasping, she sat there, trying to figure out what was going on.

"Terry and Minerva." She jumped up, out to go rescue her friends.

Minerva was a scary sight to behold. Deftly wielding her sword, like a seasoned fighter. Of course Morgan had no idea that the spirit of Xena was assisting her, or the spirit of Callisto was assisting Brandy, or that the spirit of Ephiny helped her recognize the traitorious god of war.

Brandy tried to make a thrust to impale Minerva, but Minerva stepped aside and knocked the sword out of Brandy's hand. Then she twirled her sword in hand, making Brandy back up.

"Ah. Any sense of deja vu, little one?" the spirit of Callisto taunted. "That you're going to kill Brandy, just as Xena killed me?" Suddenly, Brandy darted to Minerva's other side, but Minerva whirled around and started making her back up, towards the abyss.

Suddenly, Brandy tripped on the rock right before the abyss, falling in head first, a hellish scream echoing in the cavern.

Morgan was by her side. "Omigosh..."

"She'll be back," Minerva growled. "Somehow." Then alert blue eyes looked up, trying to figure out how to get Terry down. "Give me a rope." But just then, Terry shrieked as the rope fibers burned all the way through. Reaching out, Minerva managed to snag the rope, but the momentum pulled her over too. Reacting instantly, Morgan grabbed Minerva's ankles, crouched low to let the other side of the wall brace her, and prepared to hold on.

She almost lost her grip, but managed to hold on. Silence.

"Minerva?" No response. "Terry?"

"Minerva hit her head on the rock," a small, frightened voice cried. Darn it, Greg, get here. Just as she wished, Greg came, rope in hand.

"You're going to need to get the rope to scale down the abyss."

"Oh boy," Greg said. "No problem."

He looped the rope around, then climbed down, and grabbed Terry, taking a pocket knife out of his pocket and cutting the rope that bound her hands. "Grab on." Scrambling up the rocks, he delivered Terry to safety, then went back down and tied the rope around Minerva's waist. "Pull up. I'll try to keep her from hitting any of the rocks."

It was painstaking work, but she was hurt badly enough without substaining any more injuries. Finally, they got her up.

"Minerva?" Terry cried, rushing over to her side and cradling her unconscious friend. Morgan knelt on the other side and checked her pulse. "No irregularities." She checked Minerva's breathing. "Breathing okay."

Black eyelashes fluttered open. "Wha---"

"Shh," Terry said, pulling a small strand of hair behind Minerva's ear.


"No problem."


"C'mon, we better get her to the hospital. That's one nasty gash on her head. Greg, go to the truck and get the first aid kit out. We'll meet you there.

It was extremely hard for the two of them to carry Minerva, mainly because she was so much bigger than either one of them. Putting her in the front seat, they sped off.

"Hang in there, love," Terry whispered into the unconscious girl's ear.

Chapter XI

"Hola, Dolores Garcia."

"Se hable inglés?" asked Morgan, who knew a tad bit of Spanish.

"Quien llama?" Then a muffled yell. "Callida!"

"Hello? May I ask who's speaking?" a girlish voice asked.

"Tell your mother that Minerva's at the hospital."

"What happened? You f--"

"She hit her head on some rocks." Silence. A muffled yell, "Mama, Minerva está al hospital!"

"Que pasa?" asked the mother.

"Hit her head on some rocks," she replied to Callida.

"Thanks. We'll be there ASAP."

Minerva was resting comfortably, in a state of dozing. Terry and Morgan sat in their, keeping vigil on their beloved, courageous friend. A lone tear ran down Terry's face, Morgan took her hand and gently blotted it.

"She'll be okay."

"I know. I just feel so bad. How could I be so stupid?" Terry said, tears threatening again.

"I was stupid at one point too. I remember when I moved up to Igmenar from Rockwell in the sixth grade. I knew no one there, until she befriended me. I should have seen it coming, too." Tears were threatening to come down her face. "It's all my fault."

"Is not!" Terry said, blotting a tear from Morgan's face. "You had nothing to do with the jealous homicidal tendencies of that psycho-Barbie."

Morgan smiled at that expression. "Psycho-Barbie?" A laugh. "That's a good one!"

A middleaged woman and her blond daughter walked in. "Mija?" she cried. "Que pasa a mi hija?" she cried.

Dr. Martinez came in. "Minerva va a ser bueno."

Dolores sighed, then started to cry. "Mija...."

One Week Later

"I didn't know you had a blonde haired sister," Morgan said at the lunch table.

"She got made fun of for looking white when she was a little kid," Minerva said, taking a bite out of her pizza.

"Glad I didn't grow up in Wilton. That town sounds scary."

"It can be," Minerva admitted. "Certainly not the nicest town." The stitches across her forehead were due to be taken out tomorrow.

Greg came over and sat down at their table. "Hello, ladies," he said, taking off his cap and bowing, bringing a grin to Minerva's, Morgan's, and Terry's face.

"Maria, Raquel, Mirabel, this is our friend Greg Collins. Greg, this is Maria, Raquel, and Mirabel." Greg came over and kissed each one on the hand, making them giggle.

"He's alway like that?" Maria asked.


"He's adorable."


"Is that your favorite word, Minerva."

"Yep." A silly grin, then she got swatted by Maria. "Hey!"

"I finally got a different word besides 'Yep.' Now I'll have to get you to talk in sentences consisting of more than one syllable."

"Uh huh."

"In recognized English."


"Stop it!" Maria said, hitting her. "Or are you flirting with me?" Minerva blushed a deep crimson hue.

"I see competition for the ladies here...." Greg teased, getting a swat on the butt from Minerva. "Yow!"

"You deserved it," Minerva growled playfully, still blushing to her roots.


Started July 23rd, 1999
Finished August 5th, 1999

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