Whoosh! Issue 28 - January 1999

IAXS project #045
By Atara Stein
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
This edition copyright © 1999 held by WHOOSH
2462 words

The Dark Side (01-02)
CALLISTO (03-04)
SURPRISE (10-11)
Monster, Child, Purpose (30-31)


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Perdicas, sold separately.

Callisto made quite an imression.

The Dark Side

[01] Callisto was the dark side of Xena's conscience. As she put it herself, "I'm a painful reminder of what you [Xena] used to be and how you may never leave it behind." Callisto cast a dark shadow over Xena's atonement. Her existence suggested that however much Xena evened out the balance of good and bad deeds in her life, her victims would remain permanently scarred, if not dead, and no amount of atonement would ever restore them.

[02] Callisto grew up in Cirra, a village that Xena's army destroyed when Callisto was a child. Her family died in a resulting fire, spread by high winds. Xena told Gabrielle in CALLISTO (22/122) that this was the only time her army was responsible for the deaths of women and children. Because of the tragedy, Callisto devoted her life to avenging her loss on Xena.


[03] Xena first encountered Callisto when Callisto appeared as a violent and ruthless warrior, pillaging villages while impersonating Xena, trying to destroy Xena's reputation. When Xena captured Callisto, intending to take her to prison, Callisto asked, "Have you ever been tried for all of the things you've done?"

[04] When Xena considered sparing Callisto from the wrath of a lynch mob, Callisto warned her, "I will dedicate my life to killing everything you've loved, your friends, your family, your reputation, even your horse...You created a monster with integrity. Scary, isn't it?"


[05] When Xena tried to save Callisto from a fire in her prison cell, Callisto tricked her and escaped. After a dramatic fight on tall ladders, Xena eventually prevailed and returned Callisto to custody. Callisto, however, managed to escape from her prison, killing her guards. She threatened Xena, "I'm not going to kill you now. First, I'm going to kill your soul like you killed mine."

[06] On the morning after Gabrielle's marriage to Perdicus, Callisto murdered him with both Xena and Gabrielle watching. Gabrielle wanted to pursue revenge against the warrior, but was unable to murder her. Callisto eventually took them both as prisoners, intending to burn Gabrielle at a stake, while forcing Xena to watch. A little diversion from Joxer enabled Xena to escape, with Callisto leading her on a chase with chariots. When Callisto slid into a pit of quicksand, Xena let her sink to her death despite her pleas for help [RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205)].


This isn't what I meant by a mud bath!

Callisto pleads for life in Xena's troubled dreams.

[07] Callisto next attacked Xena from Tartarus, invading her dreams and exacerbating her guilt over Callisto's death. Ares helped Callisto escape Tartarus by arranging for her to switch bodies with Xena. His motive was the hope that Callisto would then be moved to serve him as the warrior and conqueror that Xena had previously refused to be. Not surprisingly, Callisto had other plans. Her only interest was revenge against Xena. She said, "All my anger, all my hatred is for Xena alone."

[08] In Xena's body, Callisto took over her old army, killing her second-in-command, Theodorus. She ordered the army to take the entire population of Amphipolis captive. She had hoped to force Xena to watch them all burn to death, including Xena's mother, as she had seen her family die. Hades granted Xena (in Callisto's body) one day outside of Tartarus. Xena dispersed Callisto's army with the help of Gabrielle and Joxer, and, at the last moment, threw a drugged dart at Callisto, forcing her to fall asleep and to dream. In her dream, Callisto insisted that she felt no guilt, and that Xena was responsible for all of her crimes. However, Callisto's mother appeared at the head of a host of Callisto's victims. She told her daughter that she would always love her, "but you have to face your crimes".

[09] Just as Callisto earlier used Xena's guilt to trap her in Tartarus, Xena turned Callisto's own guilt against her. Callisto remained in Tartarus, and Xena returned to the living world in Callisto's body [INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207)]. Nevertheless, when Xena and Gabrielle restored Ares' stolen sword to him, he returned Xena's spirit to her body, leaving Callisto's body and spirit in Tartarus [TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208)].


[10] Hera offered Callisto a way out of Tartarus and the possibility of immortality if she would kill Hercules. Callisto drugged Hercules' family. To save their lives, Hercules had to get fruit from the Tree of Life.

[11] Callisto accompanied him in order to eat of the fruit herself and became immortal. Callisto then tried to kill Hercules, but he trapped her in the Labyrinth of the Gods [SURPRISE (H49/312)].


Hairdo by Hurricane Velasca

When Xena is compelled to confess her crimes, Callisto looks on, a hint of remorse in her eyes.

[12] When Velasca, the vengeful Amazon who was now a new god, threatened Xena and Gabrielle, Xena decided she needed another immortal to fight against the equally immortal Velasca. Xena released Callisto from her confinement, asked for her help against Velasca, and offered the opportunity for godhood made possible by Velasca's supply of ambrosia.

[13] Callisto forced Xena to make a public apology for Cirra. Xena confessed: "Everything was destroyed, including the soul of one young innocent girl, who'll never be able to reclaim her childhood and will never know what the Fates had planned for her, if not for me."

[14] Callisto switched sides during the fight with Velasca. Xena, however, anticipated this event and worked her strategy around this expectation. However, Callisto became so angry with Velasca that she turned on her, and returned to fight with Xena.

[15] While camping at night, the erstwhile allies, Callisto and Gabrielle, had a conversation in which Callisto and Gabrielle played a game of Truth or Dare. Gabrielle's question was why Callisto did not appear to have any feelings. Callisto answered, "Think back to when you were a little girl, and all you knew was your mother and your sister and all of your faith revolved around them. Now kill them." Callisto then asked Gabrielle, "When I sliced open your husband, how long did it take him to die?"

[16] When the battle with Velasca took place, Callisto got her ambrosia, but Xena's plan also succeeds, and both goddesses became trapped under a river of flowing lava [A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214)].


[17] Later, however, Hope, the demon-seed daughter of Dahak and Gabrielle, released Callisto from the lava. Hope desired Callisto's help in her crusade to bring Dahak's Age of Darkness to the world and particularly to defeat Xena.

[18] Callisto threatened the life of Solan, Xena's son, and brought terror and fire to a Centaur village. She and Hope planned to kill the children, thereby weakening the resolve of their parents and furthering the possibility of Dahak's reign. Hope murdered Solan, leading to an outpouring of grief from Xena.

[19] Callisto's initial reaction was glee, but she immediately realized that causing Xena pain did not alleviate her own, and nothing had changed for her. From her perspective, Xena had won and the rivalry meant nothing to her now [MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311)].

[20] In a climactic battle in the Ixion caves, Xena left Callisto trapped in a cavern among fallen columns and rocks.


Maybe it's Mabelline!

Callisto becomes Xena's guide to Illusia.

[21] The deaths of both Xena and Gabrielle's children finalized the rift between the two women. Callisto appeared as Xena's guide in the fantastical land of Illusia and also appeared as a figment of Gabrielle's imagination, fueling her anger at Xena [THE BITTER SUITE (58/312)].


[22] Hope later released a reluctant Callisto "to rid the world of its greatest hero, Hercules". Callisto was not interested, but Hope offered her redemption and freedom from her demons. Callisto's project was to go back in time to murder Hercules' mother, Alcmene, before Hercules was born. Callisto, described by Strife as "a twisted sister" who makes the Furies look "mellow", successfully and seductively manipulated Ares into helping her release the Sovereign from the temporal vortex where he was entrapped, so they could grab his pendant full of hind's blood to use as a weapon against the Olympian gods.

[23] After impressing Ares with her "technique", Callisto told him, "I love fire. It's always been a part of me since Xena's army burned my home. And that fire turned my family into ashes, and everybody-- died--that--day." Working together, Callisto and Ares trapped both Hercules and the Sovereign in the temporal vortex together. With help from Hope, Callisto beat Ares in a fight. In a test of the efficacy of the hind's blood, she murdered Strife. Hope then sent her back in time.

[24] Iolaus convinced Ares that Callisto and Hope represented a truly great danger, and Ares aided Iolaus to follow Callisto through time in order to protect Alcmene. Callisto eventually succeeded killing Alcmene, which led to an alternate timeline in which Xena was now the conqueror of the known world. Callisto also revisited Cirra just before the attack by Xena's army. She inadvertently killed her own parents in self-defense and terrified her younger self, who Iolaus saved in just the nick of time.

[25] Iolaus managed to restore the original timeline and saved Alcmene from Callisto by stealing the Chronos Stone from the Conqueror Xena's scepter. Hercules escaped from the vortex in time to fight Callisto and protect Iolaus from her. Hercules threw Callisto into the vortex, where she would be trapped outside of time with the Sovereign [ARMAGEDDON NOW (72-73/413-414)].


I escaped from that vortex and didn't even break a nail!

Callisto comes up one Hind's Blood Pendant short in SACRIFICE.

[26] Callisto eventually escaped the vortex in order to serve as a midwife to the rebirth of a cocooned Hope. Although she described herself as Hope's "Auntie Callisto", and described Hope, with evident relish, as having "so much power it's scary", her true purpose in protecting Hope was to ensure her own destruction. She wanted not only death, but oblivion as well: no return to Tartarus, no memories, and "no nothing". Callisto fought Xena to protect Hope, but Xena managed to trick her, temporarily trapping her under rocks. Callisto emerged, however, in time to witness Hope's emergence from her cocoon [SACRIFICE I(67/321)].

[27] Callisto's joy at Hope's rebirth was short-lived. She wanted Hope to secure the hind's blood dagger previously hidden by Hercules so that Hope could kill her, but Hope promised to keep her bargain only when she was through with Callisto. Hope's sexual union with Ares, against whom Callisto still held a grudge and wanted to fight, disgusted her. Callisto attempted to switch sides, hoping Xena knew where the hind's blood dagger was and would kill her, after explaining to Xena that she wanted oblivion, annihilation, and perhaps peace. Xena, however, wanted Callisto to continue to suffer, hissing, "I hope you live forever." Gabrielle interceded, pointing out that Callisto could help them, and Xena reluctantly agreed.

[28] Callisto's only interest was in the dagger and in her own suicide, while Xena and Gabrielle fought Hope's priests and attempted to prevent a mass slaughter intended as a blood sacrifice to Dahak. Working to avoid Xena's own death as predicted by the fates, Gabrielle sacrificed herself, throwing herself and Hope into a fiery pit. This act delighted Callisto, who laughed hysterically and said, "I never thought I'd feel so good again. Seeing poor dear Gabrielle sacrifice herself makes it all worthwhile. It finally gives me a reason for living, and I have you to thank for it, Xena!" Furious, Xena whirled around with the hind's blood dagger and plunged it into Callisto's abdomen, saying, "No more living for you". Dying, Callisto reached up to touch Xena's face, then slid to the floor, her hand trailing down Xena's body and her eyes fixed on Xena's face, in a seemingly loving expression [SACRIFICE II (68/322)].

[29] Did Callisto really want to live again? Did she say what she did to infuriate Xena and ensure her own death? It was unclear, but her final act of reaching out to Xena suggested that perhaps she had found her way to some sort of forgiveness or reconciliation with her enemy before her death.

Monster, Child, Purpose

[30] Callisto was, in some ways, Xena's Frankenstein's monster -- a creation and an alter ego who embodied only the dark side of Xena's personality. She was also a study in arrested development. Her psyche was apparently a warped and twisted version of that of a child (her age when Xena killed her family) who had never grown emotionally or psychologically past a certain age, while acquiring tremendous powers. Callisto often acted like a child: speaking in a baby voice, laughing uncontrollably, and following her violent impulses without consideration. Finally, Xena was Callisto's sole purpose in living. Like Frankenstein's monster, she was obsessed with her creator in a love-hate spiral that had only tragic consequences. The "good" Xena could have been a role model for Callisto, had they met in the way Xena met Gabrielle. However, it was the "evil" Xena that Callisto modeled herself on, creating herself in the image of her enemy.

[31] Callisto harbored a secret passion for Xena, one all the more painful to her because of the hatred. Sparks flew whenever the two met, and Callisto flirted with Xena outrageously and openly, with a subtext of affection underlying their confrontations. In A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214), Callisto asked Xena, "I just had a marvelous idea. Why don't you and I both eat [the ambrosia]? That way, we could be fighting each other for eternity." Callisto's death was notable for the loving look in her eyes as she went. In choosing to kill Callisto for good, Xena prevented a possible resolution of one of the sins of her past.


Atara Stein Atara Stein
Atara Stein is an associate professor of English literature at an institution of higher learning in Southern California. She lives with her wife Ruth and her children, Sarah and Bradley, who are all wise enough to be XWP fans, and three cats who are not wise enough to be XWP fans. She writes both XWP and HTLJ fan fiction and spends too much money on Xena memorabilia.
Favorite episode: A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215); BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302); THE DEBT (52,53/306,307); ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313); FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (64/318); THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), after the "Gab drag"
Favorite line: Xena: "No, no. Yes. No, I tried that. Yes, both ways. No, I don't know. No again. Are there any more questions?" BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302); Gabrielle: "Can we cook with your juices?" A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215)
First episode seen: RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205)
Least favorite episode: THE DELIVERER (50/304), GABRIELLE'S HOPE (51/305)

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