The Enemy Within I

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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.


ON THE NEXT ADVENTURE OF YOUNG HERCULES:


(Ares sips from a decorative chalice)
THE SON OF ZEUS LEADS AN EXPEDITION
(Hercules, Iolaus, Jason, Lillith, and Theseus head down a beach)
TO DESTROY ONE OF THE LANDS DEADLIEST BEINGS
Hercules to Iolaus: "Medusa's head will save them."
Jason, worried: "The legend doesn't say that?"
IN ORDER TO STOP ARES' RUTHLESS PLANS
(Ares stares at a frozen Chiron and several frozen cadets)
(Ares brutally crosses swords with Hercules)
Hercules: "Enough games!"
Ares: "I'll get him to destroy what means the most to him..."
(Ares grins wickedly in the direction of half-brother Hercules)
Ares: "...no matter what the cost."
A HERO'S JOURNEY CONTINUES
(Hercules pushes large double doors open and walks into a temple)
ON THE NEXT YOUNG HERCULES
UP NEXT!

Teaser

      It was noontime around the Academy. Most cadets were playing melon ball outside, eating lunch, or relaxing against the walls. Lilith and Iolaus sat on the edge of the well, watching Theseus arm wrestle a chubby cadet.

      Hercules walked over to the well, smoothly placing his hands on his hips. "Huhummm..." Lilith and Iolaus looked up at Hercules.

      Iolaus lifted his left brow. "Aren't you supposed to be helping decorate for Jason's birthday party. I mean, he hasn't visited in awhile and old King boy named a night of pure fun."

      Lilith, almost hard but still playfully, punched Iolaus on the shoulder. "You were supposed to remind me."

      "I...f...o...r..got. Yeah, my fault. I apologize."

      Hercules rolled his eyes at the two. "Whatever the case may be, we have to get this done. Theseus was suppose to help too, but...."

      Iolaus stood up. "So what are we waiting for? Let's get King fish's party all set up."

      Lilith and Hercules rolled their eyes as they headed toward the Academy dinning hall entrance. Iolaus looked to each side of him. "What did I say?" he thought to himself.

      "Hey wait up!" called Iolaus, hurrying toward Hercules and Lilith. "Is this ignore Iolaus day or something!"

      One cadet, passing Iolaus, rudely commented, “Ha, that's every day!"

      Iolaus stopped in his tracks. "Why you..."

---

      Miles away from the Academy, darkness loomed over a small lake island, where the Halls of War sat still. The inside was decorated with the finest swords, shields, maces, and javelins. As ruthless as ever, the war god Ares rested in his throne - black as his heart and decorated with various Grecian designs

      Ares tossed a skull into a cut basket on the far away wall of his chamber. Even in victory Ares was depressed. "Score one point for Ares," he remarked.

      Ares moaned. "Whatever can I do to destroy that half-brother of mine? Zeus protects him and Discord and Strife always get beat by him!" Ares then yelled out in anger. "Someone give me a sign of a way to destroy him without getting the old man angry!"

      His voice echoed back at him. Ares rose to his feet and pushed his throne to the ground in a rage of fury. He then sat down on a small wooden crate, labeled Leather pants for Ares.

      A few minutes later, Ares walked out onto to the drawbridge, which connected his fortress to the land around the small lake. He frowned at everything he stared at. Nothing pleased him, even the skulls of great warriors killed in battle that now floated on the lake in tribute to him.

      "There could be ten hundred bloody wars going on at once, yet nothing would ever give me more pleasure than Hercules doing himself in...." Ares face lit up with vicious delight. "I will get him to destroy what he cares about the most. I'll be sure he leads to his Academy's downfall!"

      Ares howled out a sinister laughter. A large clasp of thunder boomed throughout the sky.

Act One

"The Enemy Within I"

Also Starring
Nathaniel Lees as Cheiron
Jodie Rimmer as Lilith
Mfundo Morrison as Theseus

Guest Star
Kevin Smith as Ares

Based on "Young Hercules"
Created by Renaissance Pictures

Assistant Producers
Tern O'Brien and Pelee
Jose Estreda

Co-Executive Producers
Medea and Euterpe

Executive Producer
Kent Simmons

Edited by Pelee

Written by Kent Simmons

      Hercules and Iolaus walked down the road to Corinth.

      Iolaus gleefully sang:

"Golden sandals walking the ground! Came the tones of muses!
Filling the hills of the Centaurs! Whoo! The echoing woods!..."

      The cheerful cadet followed his song with a small laughter, playfully slapping Hercules across the chest.

      Hercules smiled, took in the fresh air, and slapped his friend across the back in a playful fashion. "Ah, those adventure days will someday force us to be old men. I never want to grow old and useless. These days better last forever."

      "We're young forever!" Iolaus chuckled. "Herc, we're going too have a party tonight. Some punch tasting, beautiful women, dancing, and beautiful women!"

      Hercules couldn't help but smile. "Iolaus!"

      Iolaus squinted his eyes. "I bet you think all I do is imagine about beautiful women."

      Hercules sincerely replied, "Imagine? Yes you do that. Most of the time!" The demigod shrugged his shoulders back, "Aw, but that's you...Iolaus!"

      "Hey!" Iolaus tried to hide it, but to no success. "Well, okay it's true but I do think about other things as well. I mean, I'm trying hard at the academy, as a warrior, and at my jokes."

      Hercules stopped walking and tightly gripped his friend's shoulders. "I know but, well... Sometimes, never mind." Hercules turned away from Iolaus.

      Iolaus placed his hands on his hips, nudging Hercules' shoulder.

      "I'm waiting..." Iolaus stood impatiently. "5...4...3..."

      Hercules turned around. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I mean we're at that age now..." He felt a little embarrassed and very sorrowful.

      Iolaus lifted his pointing finger, "Ah ha! You admit it finally." He sighed heavily. "Herc, you always hide certain things. I don't just mean Kora, because well we all like her, but you never admit your interest for every young beautiful female body which passes you by."

      Hercules put his hand across his friend's mouth. "Never speak of this conversation again."

      "Embarrassed Herc?" Iolaus jokingly rolled his eyes at Hercules.

      Hercules chuckled. "Iolaus...Iolaus...Iolaus!"

      Iolaus made puppy eyes at his friend. "Embarrassed?" The demi-god sighed for a moment and then continued down the road. Iolaus sprinted to catch up with his friend. "Hey Herc, wait up!"

---

      Several thugs were attacking an older man farther down on the same road.

      "Give me your dinars," ordered a burly man. He had hideous tattoos up and down his arms. Scars and stitches patched up his latest wounds.

      The older man quickly pulled his dinar pouch out. He handed it to the thug, then backing away slowly. "Good man," snickered the thug. The thug mercilessly kicked the older man in his back. "Not feeling so good now!"

      Hercules and Iolaus sprinted down to the scene of the crime. "Hey You ," hollered Hercules, slowing down. Hercules grabbed the thug. He lifted him above his head for a few moments, making the thug panic. He then slowly let him to his feet. The demigod wouldn’t let him go completely though as he grasped his hand around the scruff of the burly man's throat.

      "You have the strength of a god!" The thug tried to crack a sympathetic smile. "Can you put me down?"

      Hercules thought his words over for a second. "Well, once you agree to give this man back what you stole and apologize, then I will let you go."

      Iolaus added, "His deals don't get much better than that!"

      The thug sorrowfully replied, "I am sorry for my cruel actions."

      Hercules pressed his lips together, squinted his eyes, and breathed heavily. "That will do." The thug tossed the money pouch to the older man. After that he was released from Hercules grasp, and without haste sprinted away.

      Hercules and Iolaus helped the old man to his feet, not noticing that the burly thug had turned on his heels and was looking angrily back at that. He pulled a dagger from his boot. As it glimmered in the sunlight, he lifted it in the air, pointed it in Hercules direction, and arrogantly smiled. "Goodbye My Half-Half!" he laughed.

      The thug suddenly gulped. Within seconds, he fell flat on his face. Hearing the thud, Hercules and Iolaus turned around. Dressed in his casual leather trousers and vest, King Jason of Corinth unballed his right hand and shrugged his shoulders. Hercules and Iolaus chuckled, then the three friends came together in a momentary embrace.

      "It's been awhile," noted an exuberant Jason. "I'm glad to be with my old pals again."

      Hercules nodded his head a few times. "The last time we got a chance to have some fun together was at the coronation party. It HAS been awhile!"

      "What are we waiting for then? Let's go to the birthday party!" Jason urged.

---

      Night had come. The dinning hall was a mess. The party had been a success. Now several cadets helped clean up the rest of the wrapping scrolls, leftover food, and dirty silverware and dishes.

      Jason handed several sacks of gifts to two Corinthian Guards. "Take these to the palace. I think I'll stay here tonight." Jason yawned, following it with a loud burped. "Good punch!"

      Cheiron came over to where the young King was standing. The centaur headmaster of the Academy handed Jason a brown sack. "Happy birthday! I think you will find this tasty." Cheiron smiled at the young King of Corinth.

      "Thank you sir," Jason replied tossing the sack over his shoulder.

      Cheiron nodded. "It's been an honor to have you visit the Academy, Your Highness."

      Jason nonchalantly replied, "You can call me Jason. I like to be casual around these parts."

      After Cheiron acknowledged the King’s request with a nod, Jason headed outside to the court yard. “...though it is fun having old four-legs call me ‘Your Majesty’." He took in a whiff of the sack, which contained oats. "I'll just give these oats to the horses."

      Jason spotted his friends outside the academy gates. They were putting the trash sacks near the roadside for pickup sometime the next day. Lilith, Theseus, Iolaus, and Hercules seemed exhausted. Jason approached them. "Want some tasty oats?" he teased.

      Theseus yawned. "I hate to break the party, but I think I should call it a night. Even though Cheiron lifted our curfew to a few hours later tonight, I still want to get to sleep."

      "Me too," yawned Iolaus. "I hope someone didn't spike the punch."

      "Not with wine but maybe with sleeping potion," thought Lilith, stretching her arms out. "Beauty sleep...I need some."

      The guys and Lilith started to fall back against the wall in sitting positions. They shut their eyes and rested their heads on each other's shoulders, except for Iolaus. He rested his head against the sack of oats. All five cadets snored loudly.

      Ares lurked nearby in the bushes, enjoying what he saw. The god of war picked up an empty green vile from the ground. "Sleeping potion it is. Come morning, the entire Academy will end up being engulfed by the power of the wind."

Act Two

      The annoying crow of the Academy’s rooster woke Iolaus up suddenly. Hearing it also, Hercules, Jason, Theseus, and Lilith slowly climbed to their feet, stretching out under the morning sun. Theseus, Jason, and Lilith took a moment after to wipe sleep from their eyes. His stomach rumbling, Iolaus ripped a hole in the sack, grabbed a handful of oats, and engulfed them quickly.

      "I can’t believe we fell asleep out here," pouted Iolaus. "Cheiron is going to get us good." Iolaus hit his hand against the stone wall. "Detention for a month. I'm just glad Fedicious went away for a week or else he would murder us with work for this."

      "I’m gonna check and see if the coast is clear." Theseus headed over to the Academy doors. He opened them carefully, then stepped in and carefully made his way down the entrance corridor.

      Hercules slapped Jason across the back. "We could always say that the oats were so good we stayed up all night eating them…" Hercules’ joking remark was silenced by a bloodcurdling scream from Theseus that came out of the Academy windows. Hercules, Lilith, Iolaus, and Jason frantically rushed inside.

      "The study hall!!!" Theseus’ voice boomed through the halls. Hercules and company rushed down the hall that led to the study hall. The cadets eyes dropped when they saw what was before them. Cheiron, the cook, several instructors, and all the other cadets had been turned to ice statues and were lined up in the training room.

      Iolaus, in awe, pressed his thumb against the Centaur's frozen tail. Shivering, Iolaus gritted his teeth. "C.o..ol...dd." Hercules held his arms closely together. He too was shivering.

      "I don't feel so good at the moment," sighed Lilith.

      With a sudden, unexpected burst of anger, Hercules threw his fist through a wooden table. He picked up a piece of the tabletop and threw it across the room, breaking a small window. "Aressssss!" he raised his voice, nearly losing his breath.

      "Calm down man." Jason firmly grasped Hercules by the shoulders.

      Hercules pushed Jason away. "Ares did this," Hercules said vainly and certain.

      "How do you know that for sure? It could have been Hera, or another god?" Jason asked.

      "It's Ares alright." Hercules paced around the room, struggling not to lose his cool again.

      A chill filled the room. From a constellation of bright lights came the god the demi-god had just spoken of. He snickered at the cadets, and rolled his eyes at his half-brother

      Hercules sighed unhappily. "I am starting to sense when you're around."

      "How did you know?" The burly god of war crossed his arms.

      "I remember the time Strife tried to destroy the Academy with the power of the wind and of course, he’s your pathetic lackey. The god’s wind is the only thing that has the power to do this!"

      "Since I’m sure you are going to demand I undo this little curse, .I presume we could make a small deal of sorts. I get something I need from you that can also save your friends' lives."

      Hercules lifted his brow at Ares. "Tell us what we have that you need so badly and why I would ever trust you after what you have done here."

      Ares uncrossed his arms. He slowly paced back and forth, rubbing his hands together and hissing under his breath. "You see Hercules, the head of Medusa is what I need!"

      The cadets were startled. "He wanted that?" thought Theseus, gripping the arm of a frozen cadet.

      "They say Medusa's face can turn men to stone. It's only a legend, but so was the Basilisk, Bacchus, and other stuff we’ve dealt with," Jason noted. "You don't think we will risk death so foolishly just so you can get a new powerful toy, do you?"

      Ares nudged Hercules on the shoulder. "You know I might just have done this to force you guys to get me the head."

      Hercules sneered at his half-brother. "I'm sick of your games. I'll unfreeze my friends with fire. A little flame on the bottom of each of them will melt the ice."

      Ares laughed for a moment. "That's nothing. The ice is more powerful, besides I took the precaution to pour some oil on every single frozen thing in here. Some fire goes on them, it spreads, and bye bye friends!" Ares mockingly waved.

      Jason suddenly recalled something he had heard and spoke about it. "One of the servants at the palace taught me about Medusa. It was said her head could easily turn men to stone, but it could also undo ice or other godly curses. That's why Zeus banished the monster to her own island. This way she couldn't do harm to anyone."

      "So you’re saying that Ares IS telling the truth?." Theseus asked in disbelief.

      "That legend the King heard was true," Ares confirmed. “Not that it matters. You’ll never make it back alive, so I send you to your death. If you do return though, I think I’ll try to stop you from undoing what I’ve done."

      "That bet is on!" Hercules shouted. "We will get the head and then I will get you back. None of my friends will suffer as ice statues forever!"

      "You should admire them for soon you too will be a statue too," Ares laughed. After that the god of war made a quick exit in a flash of lights.

---

      Ares arrived back at his Halls of War. He was gloating with pride. He had truly fooled the bastardly half-brother he hated to the ends of time. "Hercules is so convinced that he can save his friends that he is risking it all. I know he will find the head and won't die, but then watching him use the head to turn his friends to stone will be such a pleasure."

      A tall shapely woman, who was slunk into a tattered-up red dress, made a godly entrance. Ares licked his lips as her stern, yet attractive face smiled at him while she ruffled her hands through her short golden-colored hair once.

      "Alecto. You are my favorite of the three Furies."

      The radiant fury approached Ares. "Still a big hunk of god," Alecto growled.

      Ares uncharacteristically backed away from Alecto, surprising her. "While I would usually love to chit chat with any of the Furies, I’m getting ready to sleep one night, knowing that Hercules’ end is near."

      "You have said that for ages," Alecto laughed in disbelief. "He will always prevail over your schemes because he has Zeus' special protection."

      Ares shook his head. "Not this time. As I told Jason when disguised as an old servant in his palace a few weeks ago, the head of Medusa can undo a god’s curse. Of course, I lied. So my bastardly half-brother will try to undo the curse - only to make it worse, and permanent."

      Alecto grinned. “I think you’ve finally got a winner on your hands."

      "I will enjoy seeing Hercules anger lead him astray." The god of war handed Alecto a chalice of wine. Ares grabbed his chalice, a little larger and more decorative. A toast was made.

      Ares sipped the wine. It pleased him, but not as much as the thought of Hercules defeated by his own anger and misjudgment.

Act Three

      Hercules and Iolaus climbed into their bunks. After a long and restless day, the last thing either could really think about was sleep. But what else could they do while they waited for Theseus to return with news aboard securing a ship to get them to Medusa’s island.

      "I always hoped we would have the Academy to ourselves for a night. Now I feel just the opposite. It doesn’t feel the same," Iolaus reflected with some regret.

      Hercules really didn’t seem to care. "Yeah whatever. Let's get some rest before we head to Mobbossor. Medusa awaits her beheading."

      Iolaus shrugged and rolled over, pulling his covers over him. "Be like that then. Night."

      The golden-haired cadet closed his eyes. Iolaus was asleep in seconds.

      Hercules didn’t take his own advice. He started aimlessly, his focus on one thing. "You will get it Ares! I will use the head to turn you to stone. Nobody harms my friends. NOBODY! I don't care if you're the god of war."

      Unable to sleep after a few attempts at closing his eyes, Hercules rolled out of his bunk. Hercules quietly walked out of the dorm room. He walked around for awhile, stopping once he walked into the training room. During his stroll, his anger had grown. Hercules picked up a wooden chair and threw it against the wall in a rage. He did the same to another, then grabbed a wooden javelin and snapped it across his chest as if it were a weightless twig.

      "Power!" he sighed, wiping sweat from his forehead. After a few moments, he sighed as he had seemed to regain his cool. That was until he turned around, looking up at a practice dummy. As he stared awkwardly at the dummy, it slowly morphed into a laughing Ares.

      "Damn you," screamed Hercules. He tightly grasped his half-brother around the neck. Hercules began to strangle him viciously. All the while, Ares kept laughing and specks of blood began falling from the war god’s eyes. "YOU!" Hercules sounded fierce, almost tyrannical.

      Theseus walked into the room. He eyed his friend weirdly. The cadet was startled and confused. "What in Hades are you doing, Ace?"

      Hercules looked up at "Ares." He realized he had been choking out a faceless practice dummy. He was quite embarrassed, but still defended himself. "I thought I saw Ares!"

      "Letting him get to you I see." Theseus approached Hercules, who’s brow was dripping with sweat. Hercules brushed Theseus away with a bit of aggression.

      "The news about the boat?" Hercules gruffly asked.

      "The ship in Corinth will leave for Athens tomorrow. Once we get to Athens, we can get another ship to take us to Medusa’s island."

      "Will we have a crew?" Hercules asked, not as gruff this time.

      Theseus shook his head. “The captain of the ship in Corinth has another we can borrow in Athens. But he refuses to even let us hire out his crew to go up against Medusa."

      Hercules nodded.

      After Theseus left to relate the news to Jason and Lilith, who were still up in the mess hall. Hercules returned to his dorm and laid down. After he covered himself with a blanket, he slowly shut his eyes and started to fall into his slumber. The images in his head spun around...

      A dark cloud covered a desert that Hercules was now walking through. He nearly bumped into a large brick monument. "I’m sorry," remarked Hercules, lifting his head up. "Oh...Just a monument."

      "You are so like me," suggested an unseen person who sounded just like Hercules.

      "I didn't say that?" Hercules glanced at the surrounding. All he saw was a small fire starting to burn next to him. Hercules sat down on a large rock, shivering less by the fire. "First time I’ve ever been in a cold desert. I never thought fire would feel good in such a place." Hercules suddenly frowned. "Where am I?"

      "The deepest and darkest part of your mind..." spoke the unseen voice of Hercules.

      A raven-haired, black-eyed version of himself appeared next to the confused and bewildered demi-god. He was dressed in black leather pants, a chain-mail tunic, and skull earrings in both ears. Hardly Herc’s casual look.

      "Why so glum?" inquired the darker looking Herc, putting his arm around his counterpart. "Don't like your new clothes?"

      As he looked down, the demi-god noticed their pants were now an identical black leather. But Herc’s shirt was white on one side and black on the other. He also didn’t have the skull earings. "Not the dark side embrace again. I embraced my dark side when Morpheus tricked me into entering the Dreamscape realm!" Hercules assured himself.

      "No, No, No." laughed the darker Hercules. "Just some Yin and Yang going on here. Want to chit chat more?" The darker Hercules liked his lips. Hercules just rolled his eyes back at his darker counterpart.

      "You seem to be getting pretty close to a destiny, one in which you take down the pesky god of war for the greater good. But it is the greater good of Hercules, is it not? Yeah, and of course you want to get dadda's attention!" Dark Hercules snickered. "Ain't you just snappin?"

      Hercules wasn’t the least bit surprised for what his darker counterpart said was true. It was all so very true. "You...You know me well; what I hope to accomplish here."

      "Of course I know! I mean I am you and you are me. Silly me." The darker Hercules chuckled.

      Hercules wasn't impressed. "The next thing your going to tell me is that I'm putting my friends at risk for what I'm doing for myself."

      "You really know what you are thinking." The darker Hercules clapped his hands. "A round of applause for yourself from yourself."

      "I can swear I'm not doing it for selfish reasons though. That's not me and not my destiny. I want the attention of Zeus, and to take out Ares for all he’s done to hurt people. But I don’t want to harm others doing it."

      Hercules laid back, looking up at the night sky. It was very peaceful and calm, although the chilly air made him shiver. Then all of a sudden, the calm sky was suddenly replaced by a nasty thunder storm.

      "Hider," laughed the darker Hercules.

      Thunder boomed throughout the sky. A bolt of lighting struck Hercules gauntlet, knocking him off the rock and into the rising flames. The demi-god shouted as the flames engulfed him.

      …In a sweat, the son of Zeus awoke in his bunk at Cheiron’s Academy. Looking around, Hercules sighed for relief, as it was all a nightmare. The demigod laid back down and wiped the sweat from his brow. Nothing to worry about. Moments later he fell back to sleep, having no more nightmares that evening.

---

      The sun rose into the sky a few hours later. The Academy’s rooster crowed, welcoming the morning and waking everyone up. In the dorm room, Iolaus tapped Hercules on the shoulder. "Hey Buddy...wake up." He pressured.

      A few moments later Hercules sat up, looking dreadful. He threw the blanket off him and stormed out of the dorm room, ignoring his best friend.

      "I heard you scream last night...Are you okay?" Iolaus franticly ran after Hercules.

      Hercules entered the mess hall, ignoring his friend’s concerns.

      "Is everyone ready yet?" asked the demi-god, wearing a scowl on his face.

      Jason brought out a wooden plate of bread slices and rolls. Iolaus, Lilith, and Theseus took some for themselves. Jason did also, then offered the rest to Hercules. "Not hungry this morning," Hercules brushed it off. He lifted his arms above his head to stretch them out.

      "Are you sure we can man the ship ourselves?" wondered Lilith.

      Hercules was sure. "Ares might have gotten everyone who stayed at the Academy, but Malkor and a few other cadets left before Jason’s party. They had a field trip. They are supposed to be back this morning. We’ll explain what happened to them and get them to come along."

      Jason nodded, clapping his hand over Herc’s shoulder. “Ophistus is sending several of my best soldiers to keep watch here. Our friends will be safe." Hercules didn’t hear it though, as he was too busy flashing a rather unhappy look at the King for clapping him across the shoulder. Jason didn’t notice it, but Iolaus, Theseus, and Lilith did. They had to wonder if Hercules’ back and forth bad attitude would be caustic on this journey.

Act Four

      Hercules, Iolaus, Jason, Lilith, Theseus and Malkor, who was followed by the cadets who had been on the field trip with him, made their way through the busy streets of Athens. The Athenians were enjoying their afternoon at the market place, in the gardens, or some just sitting on the balconies of their homes watching the everyday activities go by.

      "The port is ahead," noted Jason, guiding his friends through the busy street.

      "Our ships the one with a huge eye on it," Theseus noted.

      Lilith was in awe by the many shops and dealers that lined the streets. She had never been to such a big city like Athens before. Corinth was nothing compared to Greece’s capital.

      "Let's quicken up or else we will be late," complained Hercules, tapping Lilith on the shoulder.

      Lilith sighed, "Just peaking. We’re almost at the port anyway."

      Hercules loosely gripped Lilith by the shoulders. "Doesn't it bother you that you're hurting everyone we care about?"

      Lilith brushed Hercules away. "It bothers me that you're being like this; if anything, you're hurting by keeping us here."

      Hercules desperately tried to control his anger. "If you dare talk back to me again..."

      Looking back and noticing Herc and Lilith’s scuffle, Iolaus and Jason grabbed their demi-god friend by the arms. "Cool down buddy. The King orders it!" Jason told him.

      Bewildered, Hercules glared his eyes at Jason. "You may be the King of Corinth, but when we sail on the ship, I'm the captain." Hercules stomped off through the crowd, rudely pushing people out of his way and not apologizing when doing so. The demigod was separated from his friends in the process.

      Once at the port, Hercules sat down on a wooden crate. He needed a few moments to breathe and relax.

      "...So you're some big shot," laughed the low-pitched voice of a male obviously nearby.

      Several hideous-looking teenage thugs made their way towards the demigod. Their leader was lanky, tattooed all over, and pierced in several places. Hercules rolled his eyes at the thug’s leader. "I'm just getting ready to go aboard a ship… You know!"

      The thugs laughed. "I heard you talking to the King of Corinth back there. Friends of the King got a lot of money..." The leader pointed his saber at Hercules.

      "Oh wow...you got a dagger." Hercules laughed. "I suppose you want to challenge me to a fight now!"

      "Not that, I want to slit your throat open and watch blood ooze out of it. All it will take is one, and I mean only ONE good slash through the front and out the back."

      Hercules arrogantly flared his eyes. "You're breaking my heart." The demigod leaped to his feet and kicked the thug’s saber from his hands and grounded him in one fierce kick.

      Having found their way to the port, Jason and the others walked up behind Hercules to back him up. "They don't look that easy," squealed one of the thugs. Though the leader stayed put, the other thugs quickly fled. They did not look back once.

      The moody demi-god grabbed and furiously strangled the leader by the scruff of his neck. Grabbing a dagger sheathed in the thug's belt, Hercules placed it under his enemy's chin.

      "Give me a reason not to," Hercules tensely egged him. He pressed the dagger against the thug’s throat even harder. All he had to do with make a cut.

      "Let him go, Herc. He has nothing to do with Ares, or our mission. I think he’s had enough" Iolaus tried to reason with his friend before he committed murder.

      Hercules sneered at the thug."Don't get in my way of saving my friends ever again. Next time things won't be so nice." He lowered the dagger and let the thug leader go. The demi-god took a deep breath, watching the thug stumble his way down the road back to the market place. Then suddenly, his rage returned; he lifted the dagger in the air, hefting it in the direction of the thug.

      "Kill him for preventing you quicker passage", said the darker Hercules’ voice in Hercules own mind. Hercules closed his eyes, growled, and hurled the dagger in the direction of the fleeing thug. The dagger barely missed him, thrusting itself into the side of a wooden crate.

      Feeling worn down all of the sudden, Hercules began to fall backwards. He looked faint. Iolaus and Theseus ran over to catch him. Once they did, Herc’s eyes shot open. He pushed them aside and strutted towards a large wooden vessel with a strange-looking eye painted on the side. This was the ship Theseus said would take them to Medusa’s lair.

      Concerned about his friend’s mood swings, Theseus told the others about what had happened the night before. "Hercules was choking out the practice dummy last night."

      Normally the others would have figured Hercules was practicing, but given their friends mood swings during this mission, it was anything but a normal practice session.

      "Why?" Lilith asked.

      "He thought it was Ares," Theseus recalled.

      "...and he’s letting all his frustration with his brother get to him," Iolaus added.

      Jason had to take a stand; if Hercules was going to let his emotions lead him astray, he might put their entire mission in jeopardy. It was already near-suicide, but in his anger Hercules would make it worse. Even if deep down he truly felt he was doing this all for the cadets, Jason knew that Hercules’ vengeful and selfish intentions could overpower his noble ones if push came to shove.

      "Okay. We’ll let Hercules be captain for the time being. But if we have to eventually, we’ll restrain him from giving orders." Jason sighed; he never thought his friend would be a liability.

---

      The ship sailed of the port. Iolaus stood at the prow with a small telescope, providing a lookout. Lilith was in charge of checking the rigging of the sails. Jason stood at the tiller, guiding the vessel through the sea. Theseus was up in the crows nest. Malkor and the other cadets were in the cabin and below deck dealing with other duties. Despite naming himself the captain, Hercules was not volunteering himself to the chores of getting the group to their destination. He has stayed in his cabin, claiming he wanted to try and rest off his moodiness. The others decided this was for the best. Perhaps he had come to his senses, finally.

      Sitting in his cabin, Hercules dosed off...

      A field of lush green grass, and a cloudless blue sky that blew a gentle spring breeze through the air surrounded the demi-god. Hercules was dressed in white pants made of leather and a matching vest made of silk. The demi-god took in a whiff of the spring air. “This is bliss!"

      Hercules laid down on his back in the open field, looking up at the sky and reflecting just how perfect this was. Until a calm, yet stern voice was heard. "This is your paradise, champion of the people."

      Hercules sat up, nervously glanced in each direction, and gritted his teeth together. "Who is that?" Hercules reached for his belt. Nothing was there. "No sword to defend myself," groaned the demi-god.

      "There’s no need for the sword. This place reflects the inner calm you are now feeling. After all you are thinking that everything will be okay," noted the same stern voice.

      Hercules chuckled, laid back down, and smiled. "Everything is peaceful to put it that way... Everything is so great." Hercules looked to his side; his darker self was laying next to him.

      "This is paradise, isn't it?" Darker Hercules winked.

      "Paradise, paradise, and paradise. My problems are put behind me. You can go."

      Darker Hercules was defiant. "Really? Is that thought of mind helping defeat that waste of life they call Ares?"

      Before he could answer that, Hercules heard Iolaus screaming. Herc’s best friend was frantically running toward him. The wound of a large blade had opened under his hear, blood gushing out and dripping onto the ground. A trail of it.

      The demi-god caught his friend in his arms and cradled him.

      Iolaus looked up at Hercules, frowning. "You did this." He ripped himself away from his friend and stood up. His face turned pale.

      Hercules rushed to his feet. He looked down at his hands; they were forcing a dagger into his best friend's chest. The demigod startled and in shock, looked up at the once calm sky. The green fields slowly turned red, the sky grew orange, and Iolaus exploded into dust. Hercules frowned, looking down at his hands. They were covered with blood, from his fingertips to wrists.

      "No!" screamed Hercules, dropping to his knees.

      "A gift for not destroying me," Ares’ haunting voice whispered in the distance. It echoed into Hercules’ ears.

      Shouting like a madman, Hercules lifted the dagger, closed his eyes, and thrust the blade into the red colored dirt. A spring of blood spurt up from the ground and covered Hercules from head to toe.

      "Ares, you bastard!" Hercules shouted, throwing his arms out at his sides.

      ...Hercules’ eyes popped open. There wasn’t a drop of blood on him. He sighed for relief when he realized that was once again a nightmare. He was in the ship’s cabin and everything was alright; Iolaus could be heard talking to Theseus above deck. He was going to make sure he stayed that way.

      "If I don't destroy Ares then Iolaus will wind up dead, and so will everyone else I care for. I’m not just taking the head of Medusa to free everyone at the Academy, I have to take it to destroy Ares as well!"

Act Five

      Hercules stretched out his arms as he walked out of the cabin. "Time to get some work done! Jace, I’ll take the tiller for awhile." The demi-god seemed much more cheerful to his friends.

      Jason slapped his friend across the back. "Now that's the spirit!"

      Suddenly, the ship started to tremble. "Trouble ahead!" Lilith shouted from the prow.

      Hercules motioned Jason to take the tiller again. The demigod hurried down to the prow, where Lilith stood. "I see nothing," Hercules quipped. Lilith nearly fell to the deck. "It's something… unseen." The ship trembled again. It suddenly stopped. It wasn’t the sails, or the anchor being dropped. Something had stopped the ship was going any further.

      A large man-like figure made from the blue seas rose from the ocean depths. In his left hand he held a golden trident. On top his head sat a golden crown.

      Everyone, except for Hercules, turned their attention to the gigantic monstrosity that fiercely looked down at them. They were dust compared to him.

      The demi-god, quite nervous, looked up. "Poseidon!" he whispered to himself.

      Poseidon lifted his trident into the air.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Credits

Also Starring

Alecto: Asa Lindh
Poseidon: Charles Siebert

Creative Team
Aura
Barb Soden
Euterpe
Kalina
Kaya
Kent Simmons
Maggie Z
Medea
Pelee
Tern O'Brien
Thalia

Edit and Proof Read
Pelee
Tern O'Brien
Tracy Viader

Special Thanks To
Ed Naha
Mrinda Jez
Saderah

Technical Assistance
Jose Estreda

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