Title: Who Wants To Be A Warlord!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: PG to be safe, some mild swearing
Fandom: Hercules/Xena (not that they can be pulled apart sometimes)
Status: done, no more, please?
Archive: eh, why not?
Other website: http://www.e-fic.com/~voracity/
Disclaimers: not mine, unemployed, no money, unless you want hairballs and shed cat fur, you ain't gettin' it here.
Summary: Ares gives Strife an order to find a few new warlords or generals. Strife does it *his* way.
Warnings: odd, really really odd.
Notes: sorry, strife speaking normal people here. Most of the time. I tried, it's as bad as house elf for me.
Who Wants To Be A Warlord!
Strife looked at the ranks of soldiers in front of him. Ares had told him to go out and find more general material. He wanted people he could train to be leaders instead of just targets. So he had an idea. Sure, you could say he'd been watching too much tv again, but who cared? He was the God of Mischief. Second in command to Ares, God of Asswiggles recently. Besides, when would he get a chance to do something like this again? "Line up!" he shouted, appearing in front of the massed troops. Most of them went to attention. Three people however were pushing people out of the way to get to the front. He should have known they'd be around here.
"What are you doing with all these people, Strife?" Gabrielle demanded.
"Shut up," he growled lazily. "You too, Jox. You've got a chance." He walked up and down the lines muttering, "IQ, IQ, IQ, come one people, we need intelligence. There's an IQ requirement." He finally picked out sixteen people, including Joxer. "The rest of you do drills with the blonde. She is the enemy," he called, pointing at Gabrielle and Xena. The warriors whooped and took them for some live practice that jiggled. They almost never got to see jiggling parts, and what did they care if she complained? Strife looked at his sixteen. "All right, break into groups of eight." Only one of them couldn't count that high so it was a good thing. He sent that one against Xena, snickering as the poor guy tried to cop a feel and she swatted him. "Fine, one of seven and one of eight. The first group, follow me. The other, wait right here. Practice against each other, you're going to be moving up." One stabbed another in the first group. "Or moving on," he said with a shrug. He took them a little way away. "Okay, I'm gonna ask some questions, you're gonna answer them as fast as possible to score points. Got it?" They all nodded so he gave them bells and made a little tally sheet that updated itself for him. "At the end of this round, the top two get to move on, the others get to move up to section leaders." They cheered him and he pulled out his copy of 'Wars in Ancient History', thumbing through it. "Who was Sparta fighting against last?"
Joxer's bell rang. "Troy?" he asked. "Or was that the fight before the last one? I was kinda out of the loop last season, Xena only went fishing."
"Close enough," Strife decided. He found another question. "What was the War at Troy over?"
One of the other guy's bell's rung. "That dish, Helen, who looked so much like Aphrodite it was like touching the Goddess herself." Everyone near him stepped away as a large, bright pink lightening bolt came down and fried him where he stood.
Strife checked his sheet, it had updated itself. "Though that was correct, remember, she is always listening."
"And you never give her fish as an offering or you'll never get any again," Joxer said seriously. "I did that when I was fourteen." The other guys shuddered. "It's not so bad after ten or fifteen years," he noted.
Strife looked at him. "If ya win, I'll make sure we fix that for ya," he promised. He found another question. "What animal did everyone hide in?"
A bell rang. "A goat?" one of them asked.
Joxer frowned at him. "It was obviously a horse, even though it was out of proportion."
Strife noticed his sheet had updated again. Negative marks to the one who said goat and extra, pink, ones for Joxer. He already had ten points. Favoritism should not be allowed. He looked up. "You can't do that, this is for a generalship," he called. Five of the points were removed. "Fine," he sighed, going back to them. "What color does Ares wear?"
"Blood red, black, and the occasional purple robe," one of the other guys said quickly, without ringing in. Strife gave it to him anyway. "Sir, are we to be made into generals?"
"You'll be allowed ta test for it," Strife told him. He looked at them. The other five guys looked really dumb. "Who would be happy being a squad leader?" Those five raised their hands. "Good, go wait with the other group and send them over." They went to do that. "You two, hand over your bells." Joxer and the other guy handed over their bells. Agentus Smartus was looking really pleasing in this race, but Joxer knew all the information in the book because he had been handed a copy by Gabby to make him smarter so she'd talk to him again. "Ready?"
One guy raised his hand. "Can I just be a squad leader? I don't want that much responsibility, Lord Strife."
"Sure, go," he said, shooing him away. Joxer again got a bell and Strife took it because everyone else had walked off. "Hey, it's just you two so I guess you guys win our fastest finger round."
"But there isn't a trigger or a crossbow anywhere," Joxer pointed out.
"It's a saying, Joxer," Strife said patiently. He had to wonder, if the guy had sex would it cure that dopeyness? "We'll move onto tactics now." He created a board. "Okay, who can tell me which battle this was?"
Joxer rang his bell quickly. "Five battles ago, the one Xena and us broke up," he said happily. He pointed at a figurine on the edge. "See, there I am."
"I'm sure you are," the other warrior said in disgust. "Lord Strife, he's not even one of us," he pointed out.
Strife pointed at where Gabrielle and Xena were kicking everyone else's rears. "See them, they made him this way," he told him. "That's Xena and Gabby." The warrior gave Joxer a respectful look. "He's with them eleven months out of the year."
"How do you deal with them while they're being *women*?" he asked breathlessly.
"See, Xena's got this neat little bottle with these little things she calls pills and they help with all that. They're kinda neat. They get rid of the cramps and the bloating while relieving their moods and letting their armor fit correctly again. Ares gets them for her and I'm going to demand any future women I work with take those too."
"He's got my vote, even though he can't shag a wench stupid."
"That's what tongues are for," Joxer said proudly, puffing up some.
"Them?" the warrior asked.
"No!" Joxer snorted. "They're Amazons, they only like other girls. I prefer women of questionable virtue because they're usually amazed by my techniques after dealing with ordinary men."
Strife nodded. "Meg's girls sings songs about him," he said in disgust. He looked at the field. "How many guys do you think we have out there?"
"Roughly seven-hundred-forty-three," Smartus told him.
"Roughly?" Strife asked, grinning at him. "It's a good thing you can count over eight. Okay, we'll take ya both. Let me go break up the guys. They need to focus on fighting, not trying to get under Gabby's tiny skirt."
"Can I have an unusual unit?" Joxer asked pleasantly. "Maybe some bards so we're entertained as we roam the countryside breaking up major wars for stupid reasons?"
Strife looked at him. "That's a good idea," he noted, grinning evilly. "You'll be our undercover unit." He could see the other guy mouthing the word 'bards' and shaking his head. He shrugged at him and grinned. "Joxer's methods are very odd but he once took out two armies with chickens." He patted him on the back as they walked down to join with the new squad leaders. It fit that there were thirteen of them. About fifty people each section under their new warlord and a small band for Joxer too. He whistled. "Line up!" he shouted. They all lined up. Another idea hit him. "Okay, all of you, take off any identifying marks. We're doin' this lottery style." They looked confused but did so, then he passed the cauldron around, having them put their identity tags into it. He looked at the group. "Anyone who wants to do some undercover work or wants to be a bard, step out and you've got a special assignment." The confusion was making him high, he really loved this. When Ares got back from his short vacation he was going to be stunned. Maybe he could do this every year. Sixteen people stepped out. "Good. Each new squad leader pulls tags, one each time, then keep goin' until they're all used up. Agentus Smartus is now your new general, these other guys are squad leaders. And Joxer's got the special group." He waved at them. "All yours, Joxer." Joxer hurried over, and only one of them retreated immediately back into the pot.
Joxer looked at his people. "Okay, how many of you are bards?" Most of them raised their hands. "Good, we're going to be traveling the countryside stopping stupidity and stupid wars. We're going to go undercover as bards." They slowly nodded. "No one expects a bard to be able to use a bow or a sword, but we're better trained because we work with our hands. We'll dress in nifty clothes and go around providing for ourselves because we'll be making money for Ares at the same time." That did make them look impressed. "Okay, we're going to go meet with my brother, he's three valleys over and he's got loads of costuming experience and some instruments if you don't have some. Strife?" he called, grinning at him. "May I take them and start?"
"Sure, go for it, Joxie," Strife agreed, grinning madly at them. A few of them shuddered, but that was okay, they were right to fear him. And they would learn to fear Joxer too because that boy had some peculiar ideas that always seemed to work out. He went back to watching the lottery happen, knowing Jace's reaction days before it would happen.
"Oooh, did yous bring me all these men?" she cooed, patting Joxer on the cheek.
Ares came back from his vacation, tanned, fit, looking very relaxed. He checked on the progress of his armies, noticing that there was a large force being commanded by someone he didn't know. "Strife?" he called patiently. Strife appeared, already grinning. "Didn't I say to give me *candidates* for generals or warlords?"
"Yeah, well, there were only two," he said with a twitch. "The others make better squad leaders and that's what they wanted. So you've got a new army with thirteen squads and one specialty unit pissin' off Herc and Xena."
Ares pulled a chair over and sat down, he had a feeling he'd need this. "What other unit? I didn't see another unit."
Strife called up the unit's progress, he had saved it down. Joxer had done an amazing job of stopping any war near them quickly. Discord was using them now to stop wars before they got out of hand. "Them," he said proudly.
Ares wasn't sure he wanted to know but he did look in the scrying mirror. "They're bards," he noted.
"Nah, they're *pretendin'* ta be bards," he said, starting to giggle. "They're fundin' themselves. They're stopping anything that's goin' on too long. They've been goin' since the day you left and have only lost one of them and picked up two more on the way. They've tithed us as much as a few of the smaller temples so far this year. And the best thing, the leader, he don't ask for no favors. Nothing. This is makin' him happy, putting him to use, and pissin' both Herc and Xena off because he's doin' better than them."
"Seventeen bards running around the countryside is doing more for us than Hercules and Xena, together, to stop any and all wars when they've gotten to a point where we want them stopped?" Ares deadpanned. Strife nodded, grinning madly again. "Who's leading it, Strife?"
"See, I held a contest," he said, backing away slowly. "The only two guys who had a clue got to be generals. Well, Agentus Smartus is a warlord I guess, but the other's just as smart and Xena trained him," he said, disappearing before Ares could think about making a grab for him.
Ares looked in the mirror again, watching his 'bards' as they got to work for Discord. He saw someone he vaguely recognized. "STRIFE! YOU PUT JOXER IN CHARGE OF A FORCE!" he shouted.
Discord appeared. "The guy had it goin' on, bro, he hasn't had any in fifteen years. He had to expend that energy somehow. He's really focused when he's bottoming. He's a great planner. I'd never have thought to say this, but if you don't want Joxer, I want him. Shit, even if I have to chain him down and do him myself, he's a great planner. He's got strategies like you wouldn't believe!" she said enthusiastically. "It took them ten minutes to stop that battle. Herc has been trying now for three days." She grinned. "I've got to reward that boy."
"Send them to my main temple, I want to hear about this," he said, trying to grab her.
"Uh-huh, sorry, bro, but we've got plans already. You're just gonna have to get him some other way. Though, Hera knows he doesn't like the fake sort." She winked and sashayed off.
"Eris, you can not steal my warlords," Ares yelled after her. He grimaced as he went to check on Joxer personally. He found one of Joxer's 'bards' plowing him and Joxer spouting off theory. War theory and strategy theory. He tapped the bard and lowered his own pants, plunging himself in. "Mine," he hissed in Joxer's ear. "You serve me, Joxer, swear it."
"I'm yours," Joxer shouted happily, babbling on about two-pronged assaults.
His other bards were taking notes, Ares noticed. He'd have to do more in-depth research into this new warlord. Maybe Strife had a good idea? Nah, it was a lucky guess. He'd have to watch him do it next time. Not that he'd get another one like Joxer. Maybe he could convince someone else to give Aphrodite fish and not get any for fifteen years? He came with a loud grunt and pulled back. The bards groaned and gave him looks so he zapped himself hard and started again, and the bards got more notes on theory.
Damn, he'd have to keep Joxer around.
This was the sort of Warlord he wanted. He'd have to reward Strife for this one. He really, really would.