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The following is an episode of the Young Hercules Fan Fiction Seasons, a non-profit virtual season project; written for fans by fans this is done to help keep the legacy of the short-lived television series Young Hercules alive on the Internet. The overall direction of the story that takes place in this virtual season may not be exactly what took place if an actual televised season had been produced.
Iolaus: "I found her lying here."
A STRANGER IN NEED
(A girl sits limply upon a rock before Herk and Iolaus)
Meiv: "...stream in drying up.
Hercules: "And when it's gone?"
Meiv: "I will be, too."
A TASK UNDERTAKEN
(Hercules and Iolaus follow a stream into a cave)
Hercules: "We'll find what's happening."
A SIMPLE JOURNEY NOT QUITE
(Snakelike monster bursts forth from a tunnel)
Iolaus, to Hercules: "You barely fazed it."
(Iolaus is knocked to the ground)
(Hercules runs, the creature right behind)
AND TIME MAY NOT BE ON THEIR SIDE
Hercules, angrily: "That doesn't make it all right!"
ON THE NEXT YOUNG HERCULES</b>
Sunlight filtered down the trees and shone upon the natural pathways of the forest. From its perch on a branch, a squirrel perked up its head, then scurried away at the sound of soft footfalls approaching. Two young men carrying packs were making their way through the trees, one following behind the other.
"Are we there yet?" Iolaus asked.
Hercules, at the lead, rolled his eyes and shook his head to himself slightly, but did not respond.
"Are we there yet?" Iolaus asked again, a smile tugging at his lips.
"Well, are we?"
Hercules stopped and as he turned to face his friend he said,
"You know just as well as I do where we're going." Iolaus was trying to look serious, but failing. Hercules conceded to the joke with a little laugh.
"All right, you got me. And yeah, we're here." Hercules dropped his pack to the ground.
"Let the camping fun begin. Dibs on that spot!"
To lay claim, Iolaus tossed his waterskin onto the ground, close to Hercules' feet. Herk bent down to retrieve it.
"Fine, it's yours." Herk shook the skin. "This is almost empty."
Iolaus shrugged. "There's that big stream near here. I'll get a refill."
Hercules tossed the waterskin to Iolaus. As his friend walked off, Herk moved Iolaus' relinquished pack to his area, then began rummaging through his own pack. He felt good to be doing something normal with his weekend, no monsters, no 'friendly' visits from Ares. He was determined to just relax and enjoy the time. Moments later, he heard his friend yelling,
Amber Sainsbury as Meiv
Based on "Young Hercules"
Created by Renaissance Pictures
Tern O'Brien & Medea
Edited by Tern O'Brien
Hercules whipped his head around at the sound of Iolaus' voice. Instantly, he jumped to his feet and dashed in the direction Iolaus had gone. As he neared the stream he readied himself to fight whatever trouble Iolaus had encountered, but when he arrived, Hercules stopped short. Iolaus wasn't in danger. He was kneeling by the water's edge, a young brunette woman in a blue dress was gathered against his lap. Iolaus looked up when Hercules arrived.
"I found her lying here. I don't know what's wrong."
Hercules knelt down beside them, concern on his face. The girl lay weakly, but didn't appear hurt, at least to the eye. She moaned and moved her head, her hair falling across her face.
"Was there anyone else around?" Herk asked.
"No," Iolaus shook his head. "just her."
The girl stirred and limply moved her hair from her face, then opened her eyes. She started when she realized she wasn't alone and tried to sit up, but sagged back against Iolaus. He helped her to sit up again.
"Who are you?" the girl asked them, though not alarmed.
"I'm Hercules." the demigod answered.
"And I'm Iolaus. Can you stand?"
"I can try." She nodded.
Hercules got to his feet first and helped pull the girl up. She kept a hand at his shoulder for a moment until she seemed steady.
"You all right?"
"Considering, yes." The girl smiled faintly.
"Are you . . sick?" Iolaus ventured.
"You could say that." she answered evasively.
"Then you should get some help. We're from the Academy. Come with us to Cheiron; he can help." Hercules suggested.
"No. No, nothing like that would do any good."
"All right," Hercules said finally, "then tell us what is going on here. Please."
The girl looked from one cadet to the other, as if assessing them. She nodded her head once, deciding to confide in them.
"My name is Meiv." She looked toward the water. "And this is my stream."
"Your stream?" Iolaus repeated.
"Wait, you mean you're a naiad?" Hercules returned.
"Yes." She continued to watch the water, sadness in her eyes. "This stream is drying up, and as it weakens, so do I."
"And when it's gone?"
"I will be, too."
Meiv swayed on her feet. "I need to sit." She walked slowly over to a large rock and sat down. Hercules and Iolaus followed and stood near her.
"Do you know what's causing this?" Hercules asked, concern marking his voice.
"No." She hung her head down as she shook it. "It began just two days ago, like the water was being choked off."
"You've not gone to look for what's wrong?" Iolaus wondered.
"No." she answered again, looking back up at him. "The beginning change was..drastic. I'm too weak to make the journey."
Suddenly, the girl gasped and doubled over, her hands at her chest.
"What?" Hercules dropped to his knees in front of her, trying to see what was wrong. "What is it?"
The girl sat back up, breathing raggedly and obviously trying to regain control.
"I..look." She nodded towards the stream.
The water's width had decreased by a few inches.
"Is that how it's been going? Like that?" Iolaus asked.
Meiv shook her head. "Not for the most part, not until now."
"We'll do it." Hercules volunteered. Thoughts of a weekend of his own were gone.
"Do what?" Meiv seemed confused.
"We'll find what's happening." He looked to Iolaus and saw agreement.
"You would do that for me?"
"No problem." Iolaus answered, "Will you be okay here?"
"Fine." She brightened and took a deep breath. "Better than fine if you succeed. Thank you both so much." She sobered. "I feel you must hurry. There is little time left."
"On our way." Hercules said.
The pair set out, traveling upstream.
"Any theories on what the actual problem is?" Iolaus asked after a minute. "I mean, what if this is something we can't fix."
"I don't know." Hercules scanned the waterline ahead of them. The water ran toward them unimpeded, glistening in sunlight. "Might be as simple as some trees that fell across it somewhere."
"Yeah, maybe some beavers built a big dam." Iolaus offered jokingly. "So," he continued, "this is, what, number 119?"
"What?" Herk responded.
"Times our day hasn't gone as planned." Iolaus grinned.
"Keeps us on our toes." Herk returned.
The two continued following the stream; through the forest, over the steep slope of a hillside, and still no sign of any obstruction.
Eventually, they reached the mouth of a cave out of which the stream flowed. Sunlight reached a hand inside, but the way was dimly lit. Hercules bound some moss to a small branch. He then struck rock against rock to make sparks that lit the new torch.
"After you." Iolaus gestured. "Looks like we're going spelunking."
Hercules passed into the cave, Iolaus after him. The light from the torch flame flickered over the high walls as the two followed the winding water. The pathways alongside the stream varied in size, and at times the cadets splashed through the stream itself. Shortly, they came to a stop. Rocks were piled haphazardly atop one another before them.
"Cave in." Iolaus said.
"Yeah, but look." Hercules pointed.
The water was impeded only slightly. It still flowed generously around many of the rocks and pushed through gaps between them.
"This isn't the problem, but it doesn't help either."
"Easy enough to fix." Iolaus held out his hand. "I'll hold the torch for you."
"Oh, no, you can move some of these just fine." Herk retorted.
"You noticed that, too, huh?" Iolaus sighed with mock reluctance.
"Let's get to it." Herk smiled and wedged the torch into a notch in the wall.
They worked steadily. Iolaus hefted rocks from the outer base of the pile, while Hercules tossed ones from the top. The bulk of the pile was soon removed and the rocks lay in uneven lines along nearby walls, letting the stream flow by freely.
"Onward march?" Iolaus asked, dusting off his hands. Hercules nodded and retrieved the torch.
Up ahead, the stream curved to the left, passing through an opening, deeper still into the cave. The pair entered, but stopped a few paces into the new room.
"That's weird." Hercules said, almost to himself.
"What?" Iolaus wondered.
"I can't see where the water's coming from."
"Of course not, it's dark over there."
"That's not what I meant." Herk started, but Iolaus continued,
"We have the torch, we just keep walking the edge and..."
Iolaus broke off his words when the ground began to rumble.
The rumbling increased and soon the whole room vibrated, fine dirt fell from parts of the ceiling.
"Back out there!" Herk called to Iolaus, pointing to where they'd just been. Iolaus acknowledged him and turned.
Hercules made to follow. He took two steps when suddenly a hole opened up in the floor before him. He had no time to react. Iolaus looked back over his shoulder just in time to see his friend disappear from view.
Iolaus ran back to where Hercules had been. As he arrived, the room shook violently. He lost his footing and fell head long into the hole after Hercules.
Herk was sliding fast down the tunnel, bumping along the uneven sides. Instinct had him bracing his feet out to slow his descent and he was almost stopped when Iolaus barreled into him from above, knocking his hold loose. They shot down the tunnel and tumbled out the end onto the ground below. Hercules rolled straight forward, Iolaus off to the side. After a moment, they had regained their feet.
"What was up with that?" Iolaus coughed.
"No idea." Hercules shook his head as he looked around. "We have to find a way back up."
The rumbling sound resumed.
"Oh, not again." Iolaus groaned.
Hercules cocked an ear.
Hercules ran forward and tackled Iolaus. They rolled to the side of the large archway opening Iolaus had been standing in front of just as a giant snakelike creature burst from the tunnel. The monster turned and stopped to stare at the boys, its deep red scales quivering.
"Uh oh." Hercules remarked.
"You said it." Iolaus agreed.
The creature roared and drew back, then struck forward, snapping at the boys. They dove to the sides to avoid it. The creature drew back and struck again, this time at Iolaus. Iolaus jumped up and twisted over the snake's head, delivering a back kick below its eye before he landed. The snake came at him again quickly, knocking him to the ground. The snake opened its jaws and was about to descend upon Iolaus when a boulder, thrown by Hercules, crashed into its head.
"Oops!" Hercules put a hand on his cheek. "Looks like you got in the way of my rock. Watch where you're going next time."
The snake hissed loudly and charged Hercules. Herk didn't move. When the snake neared, Hercules leapt up and flipped through the air, landing atop the snake. He slammed a punch into the top of the snake's head, but it only seemed to anger the creature. The snake hissed again and several sharp spines shot out from the snake's neck, all barely missing skewering Hercules. The spines retracted and the snake bucked in an attempt to throw Hercules off.
Hercules held on and delivered more solid punches before the snake succeeded in dislodging him. Herk landed on his side. Iolaus was beside him, helping him to his feet.
"You barely fazed it." Iolaus commented.
"I know. Don't run until I say."
"O-okay." Iolaus answered.
The snake was rushing towards them, mouth open and hissing.
Hercules and Iolaus bolted to the side, out of the snake's path. It flew past them and into the wall behind them with a resounding crash. The snake flopped to the ground.
"Out for the count!" Iolaus cheered.
A slow growl came from the snake.
"Maybe not quite." Hercules corrected.
The pair hurried through another tunnel, looking for a way up, out or just plain away from the creature. One they took opened out onto a large ledge. Across a wide crevasse was wide ground, cave wall and another tunnel.
"Think we can jump it?" Hercules wondered.
"No way!" Iolaus exclaimed.
The snake had regained consciousness and its roar could be heard as it began searching to find them again.
"Or, with a little incentive, it might not be a problem." Iolaus laughed nervously.
Hercules nodded and backed up to get a running start, then ran towards the edge and leapt for the other side. He cleared the other ledge and landed a foot from the drop off.
"All right. Come on." Hercules motioned Iolaus.
"Right." Iolaus backed up in preparation for his run. "I can do this."
He shrugged his shoulders a couple times and jumped in place, then raced towards the edge. He pushed off with all his might and soared towards Hercules.
He barely made it, his toes just contacting the new ledge. Hercules threw out an arm and grabbed Iolaus, pulling him safely to ground.
"Whew, thanks buddy." Iolaus clapped Hercules on the shoulder.
"Anytime." Hercules blew out a breath.
The two looked at each other and nodded in agreement, then hurried into the tunnel.
They hadn't gone far when they heard the rumbling again and a hiss.
"Did that sound close to you?" Iolaus asked.
"No." Hercules answered, unconvinced.
"We're on this side and it's on that one."
The snake passed across in front of them, but didn't see them as it went by.
"Wrong." Hercules winced. "The tunnels must circle around."
They flattened themselves back into a recess in the wall as they heard the snake coming back.
"Stay here." Hercules whispered. He stepped out into the middle of the walkway before Iolaus could protest.
The snake rounded a corner and spotted Hercules. It roared and charged. Hercules turned and ran, the snake in hot pursuit. It blew by Iolaus only inches from his face. When Hercules reached the end of the tunnel, he broke to the right. The snake burst out and turned to follow, but under compensated. It went sailing over the edge and down into the deep crevasse.
"Happy landings." Herk called after it.
Herk turned to see Iolaus emerge from the tunnel.
"Sometimes you have to stick with the basics." Herk grinned.
"Now...how do we get back upstairs."
"There's the tunnels." Hercules said. "I'd say it's a safe bet they go up, too."
"Great." Iolaus agreed.
"But, we could be lost for days trying to find the right way."
"Meiv might not have that much time."
"So...that leaves going back the way we came..." Hercules looked at Iolaus questioningly.
"Ah, no, come on. I barely made it last time." Iolaus held up his hands.
"Maybe I could throw you across." Herk said, half-jokingly.
"No, a bridge would be nice." Iolaus quipped.
Herk scoffed. "And just how do you propose we . . " He trailed off, eyeing the wall behind Iolaus.
"What?" Iolaus looked back, then turned to try and find what had Herk's attention. "What?"
Hercules moved closer to a section of the wall that jutted forward more than most and studied it, peering up its length. He turned to look at the crevasse, then back to the wall again.
"One bridge, coming up."
Hercules motioned for Iolaus to step aside. Then he pulled back his arm and drove his fist into the rock wall. A deep crack formed up alongside the jutting portion. He moved and did the same thing to the other side of the section. When the cracks trailed high, he wedged his hands on either side and pulled. Hard. The section separated from the rest of the wall and Herk slid it forward, then let it fall. It impacted ground and lay flat, spanning the crevasse.
"I'm impressed." Iolaus said genuinely.
"Thanks." Hercules accepted, a little winded.
They crossed the bridge and made their way back to the room they had fallen into originally. The opening they fell from was above the ground at near eye level for Hercules. The pair stood before the opening and Hercules glanced up into it. The tunnel rose high, cutting through at an angle.
"This looks like the only way back up."
"Okay, then, give me a hand in." Iolaus requested.
Hercules laced his hands together to form a sling Iolaus could step into. He boosted Iolaus up into the tunnel and maneuvered himself in next after Iolaus had managed to climb upward a couple body lengths.
The tunnel was only around three feet wide and the walls were not smooth. The boys climbed the tunnel by bracing their feet and hands out to the sides and levering themselves up, aided by the manner of footholds the uneven surface provided.
Finally, Iolaus' head and shoulders emerged from the top of the tunnel. He put his arms up and out, bracing on the surrounding ground to pull himself and climb completely out of the hole, into the room once again. After a moment, Hercules appeared and Iolaus reached out, clasping his friend's wrist and helping him from the tunnel. Both of them sank to and lay on the ground, resting from the effort of the ascent.
Hercules rubbed a hand over his eye and blew out a breath as he sat back up.
"Are we there yet?" Iolaus said teasingly. That made Hercules chuckle in frustration as he got to his feet. Iolaus rose as well.
"I wish we were." Hercules answered. "We're taking way too long."
"I know how you feel, Herk." Iolaus agreed. "But how much further can it be?"
Hercules started searching for the torch he'd dropped as he'd fallen into the tunnel.
"Right." Hercules rationalized. "We've come this far, we must be getting close. I mean, the stream can't last forever."
He had located the torch, but paused in bending over for it as he realized his last words had more than one meaning.
"Let's get going." He relit the torch and he and Iolaus forged ahead, following the water.
The stream went through two more rooms before leaving the caves and Hercules and Iolaus finally reentered the daylight. Before them lay more forest. Off in the distance they could see where the stream originated, trailing forward from its basin at the foot of a cliff side. The basin was in turn fed by a waterfall spilling over the top of that cliff.
A destination now in sight, Hercules and Iolaus moved toward it. As they neared, the trees thinned, giving a clearer view. Iolaus looked to Hercules and asked,
"Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"
Hercules nodded. "Yeah."
The basin didn't just spread out, it collected there naturally. It spread up. A solid wall of water stood in the basin, surrounded and restrained from flooding forward by an energy field. Things had appeared normal from afar, the water's height blending in and making the basin seem longer than it truly was. The waterfall flowed faithfully from above, but the rate at which the field was allowing water to drain into the stream was considerably less. The backlog of water could only grow.
"Not your run-of-the-mill problem." Hercules remarked.
"Man, I was really hoping for the fallen trees theory." Iolaus snapped his fingers in sarcastic disappointment.
As they stood there, a wave of energy washed across the front surface of the water and snapped down towards the stream with a sizzle. Hercules and Iolaus watched as the stream's feed constricted even more. They could both imagine the effect that would have on Meiv.
"Should have known a god would be involved in this." Hercules paced in front of the water, incensed.
"Who do you think? Ares?" Iolaus pondered, warily eyeing the looming water.
"I don't know. Why would he want to do something like this?"
"He needs reasons?"
Hercules stopped pacing. "Usually he just tries the direct approach of trying to kill me. It doesn't matter right now. We just have to undo this."
"Let's try the straightforward method first."
"Which would be?"
"Knock a hole in it." Hercules looked around for a large branch.
"Ah." Iolaus stood back.
Hercules heaved the branch at the wall of water. It passed through smoothly, leaving the water unchanged. Iolaus raised an eyebrow.
"Time for Plan B." he stated.
"I'm still taking suggestions." Hercules frowned as he and Iolaus approached the water again.
"You know, I expected it to bounce off." Iolaus remarked, reaching out to touch the surface.
"Wait..." Hercules warned.
Hesitantly, Iolaus pushed his hand through into the water's mass. As he held his hand inside, water began spilling out around his arm where he had broken through. He pulled his hand out quickly and the water continued to gush from the area, increasing quickly in quantity.
"This is both good and bad, isn't it." Iolaus laughed nervously.
"I have a Plan B now." Hercules said.
"I'm all ears." Iolaus answered.
"Good plan." Iolaus agreed quickly.
They took off, running back downstream. The water was rushing out, revitalizing the stream. However, the portal through which it had been freed was growing rapidly. The whole energy field was breaking down. Soon torrents of water burst forth and washed down along its familiar path of the stream; Hercules and Iolaus would be overtaken in no time.
In a flash of light and smoke, Hercules and Iolaus disappeared as the waves of water swept past where they had been a mere second before. The water continued on, sweeping into the caves until the flow had died down and ran as normal.
Hercules and Iolaus reappeared, dropping a foot from the air and landing on a beach. They hit the ground and continued running for a moment before they realized what had happened and came to a halt. Both turned around quickly and scanned the beach and dunes, expecting they weren't alone. Neither saw anyone.
"Show yourself!" Hercules yelled.
The cadets turned back to face the water as they heard the god materialize. He stood before them, just out of the reach of the waves. The watery, godly figure moved with the grace of the tides. In his right hand, he held his mighty trident.
"Poseidon." Hercules said.
"Yes, Hercules. We meet again." he said with a slow nod of acknowledgment.
"What's going on here?" Iolaus whispered to Hercules.
"Why have you brought us here?" Hercules demanded.
"Would you have preferred I left you to perhaps be drowned?" Poseidon answered, amused.
"No, of course not." Hercules returned. "But I think we deserve an explanation for what's happened."
"Yeah." Iolaus added.
"Ask your questions." the god invited.
"Are you the one who endangered Meiv's stream? Dammed up the water?" Hercules half asked, half accused.
"Yes." he responded simply.
"Why!" Hercules said, angered.
"It was all a test for you."
"There is much talk of you among us gods. I have heard tales of your selflessness, but I wanted to judge for myself. So I arranged it."
Hercules was incredulous. "How could you know we would find Meiv in time?! She could have died!"
"I wouldn't have let that happen. I look favorably upon Meiv."
"You have quite a way of showing it." Iolaus accused.
"The threat had to appear convincing. If you had not heard about or discovered Meiv by the time you did, I would have restored the water."
"You think that excuses this..this test? Using her like that to help you make a decision?!" Hercules asked, unbelieving.
"Think of it as...a dry run. There was never any real and lasting danger to the girl. And all is now back how it was before. You have success. Meiv is well again, no harm."
"That doesn't make it all right!" Hercules said angrily.
Poseidon remained silent, uninterested in explaining himself further.
"So what's your verdict?" Iolaus asked, as Hercules regained his temper.
"I do not have one."
"What?!" Hercules said in surprise. Iolaus echoed the sentiment.
"I have not decided."
"You continued your endeavor to help a stranger, even when the journey became long and you encountered...obstacles. I was pleased, but will need more." Poseidon returned. "No, no tests." he responded to Hercules' look. "But I will be keeping up on you."
Before Hercules could speak again, Poseidon leaned his trident towards Hercules and Iolaus and they disappeared once more, transported back to the forest. Poseidon had returned them to their chosen campsite.
Hercules kicked his pack.
"I can't believe this." he said, then corrected himself wearily. "No, unfortunately, I can."
"At least," Iolaus offered, "if he's undecided...that means he's not against you."
"Yeah." Hercules laughed tensely. "Score one for the mostly-indifferent-relatives column." He started walking in the direction of the stream.
"Poseidon told the truth. Everything's back to normal." Iolaus said.
"Yeah. Meiv's fine. Everything's fine." Hercules said softly.
"Huh?" Herk glanced at Iolaus.
"You have the Reflective Face. Go ahead and say what you're thinking."
Hercules looked reluctant and started to deny there was anything, but shook his head and said,
"None of this would have happened in the first place if not for me."
"You think it was your fault?"
"Well, isn't it?"
"No." Iolaus shook his head. Hercules set his jaw and stared at Iolaus, blinking once.
"Fine, maybe very indirectly."
"See." Hercules threw up his hands and began pacing back and forth in front of Iolaus. "A god needs a player for his 'arrangement' and someone I hadn't even met ends up suffering because of me." He paused and drug a hand through his hair. "How am I supposed to stop something like that?"
"You're too young to bend so low."
Hercules shook himself from his thoughts and wrinkled his brow at Iolaus' comment.
"I don't know." Iolaus chuckled lightly. "Amateur attempt at centaur wisdom?"
Hercules continued looking at Iolaus, waiting.
"Ok, then, in the words of Iolaus...lighten up. It was out of your control."
Hercules scowled, still reluctant to listen.
Iolaus tried another tactic. "Ok, you are right. You're to blame for what happened here."
Herk was taken slightly aback to actually hear it from Iolaus as he went on.
"Everything's peachy now and it's all your fault." Iolaus put a hand to his chest in mock horror. "How could you."
Hercules smiled, coming around. "Well, if you put it that way . . . But remember, I didn't do it alone."
"Hey, hey," Iolaus responded animatedly, "don't try to shed some responsibility here, pal." He wagged his finger. "I'm onto your ways. You can't fool me."
"Cut it out." Herk said, good-naturedly. Iolaus settled with a smile. After a second, Herk asked, "So...think we're still up for camping?"
"You know it." Iolaus responded. Then he suddenly remembered, "My waterskin!"
Iolaus moved off to search, wondering where he'd dropped it after seeing Meiv for the first time. Hercules found it first; the waterskin was lying near the stream's edge. Iolaus was searching around the treeline and looked back when he heard Herk's voice.
"Found it." he had called.
Hercules waved the skin for Iolaus to see, then knelt and dipped the skin's neck into the cool water, filling it for his friend. As he held it there, he watched the stream flowing towards him. It ran strong and free, rippling past with a seeming air of contentment as it journeyed on. Hercules turned and looked again to where Meiv waved to them, smiling, happy to have things righted.
"Finished here?" Iolaus asked, coming up beside him.
"Yeah." Hercules smiled, still looking downstream. "All done."
TERN O'BRIEN AND MEDEA
Poseidon: Charles Siebert
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No Naids were actually dried, but some guys did
soak a few, if you know what they are sayin'