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Angel/Hercules - The Legendary Journeys: The Face Of Hercules (MF)
by The Fan ([email protected])

Ancient Greece

He was beholding a rather strange sight. His eyes beheld pure evil. Hercules
was preparing himself for battle. He was the Son of Zeus and Alcmene. Half
human and half god. He was gifted with extraordinary strength and resilience.
Hercules had faced many dangers. Ever since he was a youngster, he had been
taking on the forces of evil. He faced some Olympian gods who were not happy
with the fact that their lord and master, Zeus the Thunderer had sired a
child upon a mortal woman. They saw Hercules as a threat. Hercules grew up
in the city of Thebes, raised by his mother Alcmene and his stepfather, the
Theban general Amphitryon. Hercules befriended a youth named Iolaus who would
later become his ally and companion on many of his adventures. Hercules and
Iolaus traveled the world, battling the minions of his wicked stepmother
Hera, the all-powerful Queen of the Gods.

Hercules had faced all kinds of threats. He fought against Ares, the god of
War. He even took on the Titans, gigantic humanoid creatures feared by the
gods themselves. He fought ordinary men and women as well. He recalled
battling both side by side and against Xena, the fearsome and beautiful
Warrior Princess. He recalled Atalanta, the beautiful female athlete who
helped him on many adventures. He thought about Deieneira, the young woman
he married. He sighed when he thought of her and the children they had. Hera
stole it all away from him.

Hercules thought about Nemesis, a beautiful but vindictive goddess he had a
brief relationship with. Hercules looked at the image of true evil. It was
pure and loathsome. It had a thousand faces. This was pure evil. The thing
had faced the gods and goddesses of Olympus and sent them fleeing for their
lives. The evil thing appeared before him. It looked like a tall, handsome
young man with black hair, dark eyes and bronze skin. He wore a shiny golden
metallic armor and a red tunic underneath it. He looked at Hercules with
strange eyes and introduced himself as the Devil.

The Devil was the Adversary of a Supreme Being who had created the Universe
and ruled it long before the Olympians became the masters of Greece. The
Devil came at Hercules. He reminded the Son of Zeus of Michael, the Archangel
who claimed to serve the Great Forces of Light. This was a different being
altogether, though. Hercules remembered Xena telling him of her battles
against Lucifer, the Angel of Light.

The struggle between Lucifer and Xena ended when Lucifer fell from Heaven
and became the Prince of Darkness. The Prince of Darkness was a fearsome
enemy. Hercules recalled squaring off against the Archangel Michael. The
Heavenly Warrior had wielded a power the likes of which Hercules had never
seen. Hercules watched Michael take on Ares, the god of War. Ares was
defeated.

The Devil seemed to have as much power as the Archangel Michael, but unlike
Michael, he was not an agent of the forces of good. He was pure evil. The
Devil and Hercules struggled against one another for a long time. The
immortal lord of darkness pitted his hellish might and destructiveness
against the force of the superstrong demigod. The lord of hell threw the
demigod on the ground and savagely battered him with his wings. Hercules
seized the Devil's wings and sent the Archdemon flying into a mountain.
The Devil crashed into it, stunned. Hercules had the strength of a god,
enough strength to defeat even something with the power of hell. The battle
continued. They dueled for a long time, until Hercules stood atop the
bruised and broken body of the Devil. The Devil had been defeated but
Hercules could not kill him. The Devil had been cursed by the Omnipotent
Lord of Heaven to be trapped in darkness for all eternity. He could not be
killed because death would relieve him of his sentence of eternal suffering.

Hercules took the Devil's unconscious body and threw it deep inside the
earth. He found some magical chains made by the god Hephaestus himself and
used them to bind the lord of hell inside a dark cave. These chains were
unbreakable and could withstand the might of even one as powerful as the
Devil. Only the Power of the Omnipotent and Most High Lord of Heaven and
Holy Ruler of All Creation exceeded the powers of the Devil. The Devil woke
up in time to see Hercules fasten the last of the chains around him. He
attacked the Son of Zeus at once. Hercules knocked him back with a superhuman
blow but the lord of hell was only stunned. Even hurt, he looked at Hercules
through baleful eyes and came at him still. He would not allow Hercules to
leave the dark cave.

When Hercules did leave the cave, he was hurt. Alive, though. He knew that
someday, the Devil would be free. The Devil was more dangerous than all the
gods of Olympus combined and infinitely more powerful. Hercules knew that
someone would have to fight him. Hercules knew that by the time the Devil
freed himself, he would be dead. Hercules was part human and thus mortal.
The Devil was immortal. A dark being created and not born. Hercules looked
at the Heavens. He had done many things in the name of humanity. He had
saved the world more times than he could count. He asked only one favor of
the Cosmic Powers that ruled the Universe.

He asked that his Essence might be preserved to aid any brave soul in the
battle against darkness in future time. The Cosmic Powers granted Hercules
his request. A flash of light fell from the skies and struck the Son of
Zeus. The light consumed him. He fell on the ground, shrieking in pain.
Hercules was dead. His body withered away to nothingness. In its place,
there was a strangely luminescent object. It was a mask. A mask that
ressembled a face. Not just any face. The Face of Hercules. Inside that
mask were all the memories and abilities of he who was once the Son of
Zeus. Anyone who put it on would gain the incredible abilities of the Hero
and would be able to use them as he or she would. The hero that Hercules
was would live on. The magical artifact known as the Face of Hercules was
indestructible.

Time passed and the true stories of gods and heroes became the stuff of myth.
People thought they were mere tales. In time, the gods themselves as well as
all manner of supernatural beings removed themselves from the Earth. They
moved to other worlds. The planet Earth became the sole property of the Human
Race. For the first time in an eternity, the humans were the masters of their
own destiny. Over the centuries, many men and sometimes women would wear the
Face of Hercules.

They would gain the superhuman strength and resilience of the legendary
hero, along with additional powers incorporated within the Face of Hercules
by the Cosmic Powers. The Face of Hercules inhabited their heads and thus
transforming their minds and bodies to suit its purpose. When the wearer of
the Face died, the Face exited the deceased body and was ready for a new
host.



Los Angeles, California. Present Day

Angel stood in the dark alley, squaring off against a pack of demons. These
creatures were tall, humanoid, with green skin and red eyes. They also had
wicked-looking sharp claws and fangs. These demons were known as the
Kurgarru. Basically the wolves of the demon world. Fast hunters that
specialized in hunting and eating the flesh of humans. The Kurgarru moved
from place to place, feeding off the homeless.

They had made a mistake in coming to Los Angeles. This was not just any other
North American city. This was the City of Angel. Angel being the tall, dark
and handsome, black-clad vampire with a soul. Angel fought against them.
There was a lot of punching and kicking. The vampire with a soul was not
alone. There was a tall young black man holding a sword and a scholarly guy
with a crossbow standing on either side of him. Those were his sidekicks,
Gunn and Wesley. They fought the Kurgarru demons. The demonic creatures
attacked fiercely but the combined might of these heroes proved too much for
them. Angel smashed into them. Gunn cut them down to size and Wesley took
them down with arrows. Soon, the alley floor was littered with the bodies of
dead demons.

"That was fun!" said Angel.

"We should do this more often." said Gunn.

"I concur." said Wesley.

The three men laughed. They heard a whimper and turned to see a terrified
young black boy. He was just standing there.

"We got them. It's cool." said Gunn.

The kid hesitated, then came out of his hiding place. The three men looked
him up and down. "Thanks." he said.

"You're welcome." said Gunn.

"What's your name, son?" asked Angel.

"Got someplace to go?" said Wesley.

The young man just stared at them. "No." he said. "I am homeless. Thanks for
saving me."

Angel looked at him sympathetically. The night was cold and inhospitable.
The kid didn't look older than fifteen. Almost the same age as his son
Connor. "Come with us." he said.

The kid looked at him. "No, that's okay." he said.

"It's cool." said Gunn.

The kid went along this time.

"What's your name, kid?" asked Angel.

"My name is Steven." said the kid.

"Cool. Meet Gunn and Wesley." Angel said, gesturing to the other men as they
went into the car. "I'm Angel." he said.

Steven shook Angel's hand and they went into the night.

They went back to the hotel. Steven looked at the men. Their lives were
filled with such purpose. He was just a homeless junkie. He had seen them
battle demons and was in awe of their courage. They were something else.
Now, they were taking him to a hotel. Was tonight his lucky night? He knew
he might be headed for trouble but just prayed for the best. He went with
them to the hotel. There was a very pretty girl with black hair behind the
front desk.

"Hi, guys." she said.

"Hi, Cordelia." the guys said.

The girl named Cordelia looked at the young man who had come with the guys.
"Who is this?" she asked, looking him up and down.

Steven felt nervous. She was so pretty. "I'm Steven." he said.

"Nice to meet you, Steven." said Cordelia. "I'm Cordy Chase." She shook his
hand.

Steven got close enough to smell her, surreptitiously, of course. She smelled
great. Hmm. The one named Angel walked up to Cordelia and they exchanged a
look. Steven thought that if those two weren't an item, they would soon be.
Steven was shown a room where he could stay. He checked it out. The room
looked nice. Bigger than any room he ever had. He thought about the crummy
little apartment he shared with his family. His father used to beat him. His
mother used to throw things at him. His sister came after him with a knife.
Yeah, he wouldn't miss his dysfunctional family. He was glad he could leave.
Being an illegal immigrant from the Caribbean, he couldn't go to the police.
Why would they help someone like him? He lay on the bed and tried to sleep.

An hour later, he was awakened by Cordy, who gave him some of the Chinese
food she had ordered. Steven went downstairs and happily shared a meal with
them. He ran into a green-skinned demon in an orange suit. Steven recoiled.

"I'm Lorne the Host." the demon said with a smile. "I don't bite."

Steven looked at him. He watched the demon as he joined Angel, Cordy, Gunn
and Wesley for a meal. Apparently, he was their friend. Not long after, two
new people came in. A dark-haired woman and a tall and brooding young man who
was Steven's own age.

"Connor, how are you doing, son?" Angel asked. The young man named Connor
just looked at Angel coldly and shrugged. Angel sighed.

"He's fine, Angel." said the woman. "Hey, baby." she said, looking at Gunn.

"Hello, Winifred." said Gunn.

Gunn came forward and kissed Winifred. She looked happy to see him. Steven
noticed that Wesley looked less than thrilled to see Winifred embrace Gunn.
Maybe some jealousy. Steven looked at Connor.

"Who are you ?" asked Connor.

"I'm Steven." Steven said.

Connor scoffed. "Another human." he said.

Steven looked at Connor in shock. Steven had come to know that there were
lots of non-human creatures out there. He had been on the streets for long
and seen everything from vampires to demons and werewolves. Why did it
surprise him that Connor was not human? Maybe he was a vampire like Angel.
No. As he walked into the dining room, Steven saw Connor's reflection on
the wall's mirror. Definitely not a vampire. What was he? Judging by the
ease with which he casually tossed a really heavy sword into the weapons
locker, Steven thought he was a superhuman of some kind. Maybe a human-demon
hybrid or something. Since Angel was his father, maybe he was half human and
half vampire. Steven ate his meal.

The others pestered him with questions. He didn't feel like answering but
he felt that he owed them for saving his life. He told them about his sad
situation at home. He was sixteen and living in the mean streets of Los
Angeles. That was tough.

Connor and Winifred started talking about where they had been. They had
come to the rescue of the Brotherhood of Archaios. Apparently, they were an
ancient cult dedicated to the service of the gods of ancient Greece. The
Brotherhood had been attacked by demons. Almost all the Brotherhood members
were killed before Connor and Winifred came to the rescue. The last of them
had entrusted them with the Brotherhood's ultimate treasure. Something called
the Face of Hercules. Winifred produced a strange yellow mask out of her bag
and passed it around. Wesley read from the book. He told them his findings.

Apparently, the Face of Hercules was a magical artifact forged by the
Cosmic Powers themselves. The artifact contained the powers of the
world-famous demigod, as well as his knowledge and talents. These
abilities were transferred to whoever put on the mask. He had almost
finished reading that when the Face came in the hands of Steven.

Steven looked at the mask. It looked like an ordinary mask, as flexible and
light as plastic. It seemed to be made of gold but it was so light... Hmm.
He had an idea. Why not put it on? He pressed the mask against his face...
and the world turned upside down. Steven felt the mask enter his head. It
just slipped inside. Just melted inside him. He felt different... so
different. When he looked at the world, everything looked... different.

Around the table, the others were looking at him. Angel stared at Steven with
wide eyes. Cordy gasped in shock. Winifred grimaced. Gunn was slack-jawed.
Wesley looked grim. Steven just stared at them. He felt like there was
someone else inside his head. Steven got a fleeting image of a tall, handsome
warrior clad in a sleeveless yellow shirt and brown leather pants. A name
came into his head. Hercules. He had put on the Face of Hercules.

"What just happened here ?" Angel asked.

Just then, a snarling demon burst into the room. Angel was the first to
react. He ran at the demon. The huge creature slammed his fist into him,
sending the vampire flying across the room. Gunn seized a table knife and
tried to cut at it but the demon sent him flying as well. The demon looked
at Steven, and came lumbering toward him. Cordelia bravely put herself
between the demon and Steven. The demon seized her in his huge hand and
drew back his head, stretching massive jaws. Steven gasped in horror.

The demon was gonna chomp down on Cordelia's head. The young brunette just
looked on as the monster from hell prepared to devour her. Steven felt
scared. This was a truly huge demon who was stronger than Angel. Connor came
at the demon but the monster seized him with his other hand and slammed him
into the wall. Steven knew he couldn't do anything to this beast but
something inside him could. A voice from deep within urged him to look for
a weapon. The demon threw Cordelia aside and focused on Steven just as the
voice within spoke to it. The demon spoke.

"So, Hercules has found himself a new avatar?" The demon said. "I will
destroy it just like my kind destroyed the last one."

Steven didn't know how he could understand the demon's language, but he did.
When he spoke, it was not just him who spoke. A deep, commanding masculine
voice far older and more powerful than Steven's spoke through Steven's mouth.
"I am Hercules, The One Who Hunts All Evil." the voice said. "My enemies will
be destroyed."

Steven/Hercules looked at the demon. The creature stood at least seven feet
tall, huge and covered with fur. It looked mean and powerful. Steven felt
scared but the semi-divine entity that shared his body reassured him. When
the demon came forward, Steven no longer felt afraid. He seized one of the
swords Angel kept in the weapons locker and came at the demon. The gigantic
creature lashed out with a huge arm but Steven leapt an incredible six feet
into the air and cleanly sliced the thing's head off. The demon's colossal
body fell on the floor. Dead. Blood seeped out of the hole where its head
used to be. Steven looked at the dead demon's body. He knelt and waved his
hand three times around the body. The demon's body disintegrated into a pile
of dust in seconds. Not even the blood remained. It was as if nothing had
happened. Steven turned to look at Angel and the others. They were getting
back on their feet.

"How did you do that?" Gunn asked.

"That thing was strong enough to kill all of us." said Cordy.

"Thank God for our young friend." said Winifred.

"I still want to know how you did it, kid." Angel said.

"Me too." said Connor.

"I believe I can explain." Wesley said.

Steven was thankful for Wesley's interruption. He was still shocked about
the battle against the demon.

"I believe that our friend here is no longer merely mortal." he said. "He is
now the Avatar of Hercules."

Cordelia looked at Steven carefully. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
she asked.

They all stared at him. Steven felt uncomfortable.

"Hercules is featured in both Greek and Roman myths as a Hero." said
Wesley. "That's why the Cosmic Powers allowed him to last eternity as an
indestructible artifact worn by aspiring heroes."

Steven hated listening to them talk about him as if he were not there. It
reminded him of his house. "I'm leaving." he said.

"Steven, wait." said Cordelia.

Steven looked at her. She was a pretty girl... and she had put herself in
harm's way in an attempt to save him. He would have liked to get to know her
better. What did she want?

"We can help you." she said.

"Help me with what?" Steven asked.

"Just stay with us until we can figure out what's going on with you." Wesley
said.

Steven looked at both of them. "Okay." he said.

He went back into his room. He would stay with them one more day. Maybe two
at the most. He didn't care about staying anyplace for long. The world was
full of dangerous and treacherous men and women who would do anything as long
as they could get away with it. He found fiends like that everywhere he went.
He didn't stay anyplace long because the fiends always came to him. A fiend
could be a man, woman, child, beast or demon. Yeah, best to leave as soon as
he could.



Elsewhere...

Lilah Morgan sat behind her desk at Wolfram & Hart. She looked at her client,
a tall blond man named Tate Demetrius.

"You have failed." Tate said.

"The Brotherhood was destroyed." said Lilah. "It is gone forever. It is only
a matter of time until the artifact is found."

Tate looked at her. "Silence." he said.

Lilah shivered. She didn't allow men to talk to her this way. Ever. This was
no mere man. Demetrius was an agent of the Dark Ones. The Dark Ones were
supernatural beings as old and as powerful as the Senior Partners, those
inter-dimensional entities who ruled the vast and powerful law firm of
Wolfram & Hart. "Patience is a virtue." said Lilah.

Tate Demetrius roared like a maddened lion and changed right before her eyes.
On moment he was a tall, handsome guy in a business suit and the next he was
a seven-foot tall, covered with fur. Mean-looking and powerful. This was one
of the Khliatos demons. The Khliatos were not native to the Earthly Plane of
Existence. They only crossed over to serve their masters, the mysterious Dark
Ones. The law firm of Wolfram & Hart had dealt with the Khliatos before. They
were very strong and fast. Astonishingly brutal. Completely merciless. The
perfect killers.

One time, the firm had to deal with a vampire named Tyr Mason. He was the
leader of a vampire group known as the Red Blades. The Red Blades had tried
to take over Los Angeles. Wolfram & Hart had been loaned three Khliatos
demons by the Dark Ones. The three Khliatos demons made short work of a
hundred well-trained and bloodthirsty vampires. This time, there were two.
The angry Khliatos was ready to hurt her when it suddenly stopped. It let
out a scream. Lilah stared.

"Malitahor, No!!!" Demetrius screamed.

"What's wrong with you?" Lilah asked. She had activated an invisible, magical
forcefield that would prevent the demon from hurting her until security came.

"My mate is dead." screamed Demetrius.

Lilah knew that one of the Khliatos had been tracking down the artifact the
moment it left the Brotherhood. She also knew that these demons had a psychic
link to their own kind. They could sense each other. Although the Khliatos
had wanted to retrieve the artifact by themselves for their dark masters,
Lilah had insisted on sending lesser demons to take it. The Khliatos
attracted all kinds of attention. They were not known for their discretion.
The last thing Lilah wanted was for The Powers That Be, the Cosmic Powers
allied with the Forces of Good to send their champion Angel against the
Khliatos. Angel was trouble.

The Khliatos later composed himself and told Lilah what happened. Apparently,
his 'mate' had gone solo against Angel Investigations, which somehow got
ahold of the artifact. The other Khliatos was dead. Brutally slain.

"I will retrieve the artifact and avenge my mate." said Demetrius. The demon
resumed his human form and walked out of Lilah's office.

"I can help you locate the killer." said Lilah. Demetrius looked at her. "I
only ask for one thing in return." she said.

The demon stared at her. "Speak up, woman." he said.

Lilah smiled evilly. "Kill them all when you find them." she said.



Elsewhere...

Angel lay in bed. He had been unable to sleep. His mind was racing with
thoughts. Lying by his side, Cordelia Chase was upset by his restlessness.

"Honey, you shouldn't worry." she said. "We'll figure it out."

Angel said nothing. Cordelia frowned. He always got like this when something
was on his mind. Either he didn't say anything for hours or he would just go
on talking, mostly to himself, about stuff. Cordelia was in the mood for
something else. All the excitement of the evening left her deeply aroused.

"I worry because this is a new threat." Angel said.

Cordelia looked at the man she loved. He was so gorgeous and kind. The best
man she knew. She loved him so much. That didn't mean that his brooding
didn't piss her off sometimes. She kissed him on the lips, and he looked at
her, surprised. Smiling, Cordelia kissed him on the neck and chest before
tracing a path down his body with her tongue. She breathed in the masculine
smell of him. She kissed almost every inch of his body.

Angel looked at her, watching what she did. Pretty soon, they were embracing
and kissing. Exploring each other's bodies. Angel propped Cordelia on the
bed, and put a pillow under her belly as he took her from behind. He thrust
into her and she rewarded him with a loud groan. He held her by the hips and
went into her. Their bodies were joined in feverish passion. He was inside
her, thrusting and fucking. She was yielding to his masculine might like a
true female. They made love with all the passion they could muster. Always
taking and being taken, grunting and panting and moaning. She was all over
him and all around him and he was inside her. He entered her, hard and fast.

She climbed on top of him like he was a stepladder and rode him like he was a
bucking bronco and she were a rider. He was inside her, always penetrating
and thrusting. She was bouncing up and down on his manhood, her breasts all
over his face and in his hands as they fucked, had sex and made love. All in
the same night. A couple of hours and multiple trips to heaven later, they
lay entwined and sated. Cordelia had won. Angel was no longer worried about
saving the world. Indeed, he slept peacefully in her arms.

Steven could not sleep. His sleep was not peaceful. He had some strange
dreams. He dreamt of strange things. Scenes of battle involving men gifted
with extraordinary strength taking on powerful adversaries. He saw a young
blond man lifting huge rocks and hurling them at an advancing army at the
passageway between mountains overlooking a small village. He saw a young
woman tearing into a horde of well-armed and bloodthirsty savages hellbent
on destroying her. He saw a man taking down two lions using nothing but his
bare hands. He knew who these people were. They were his predecessors. The
previous avatars of Hercules. The Face of Hercules had dwelled inside them
at some point.

This explained the superhuman strength and resilience. Steven wondered if
one day he would possess such strength. He smiled to himself. He had been
picked on all his life. First at home and then at school. He learned to
deal with bullies. He fought for his rights wherever he went. Often, he
lost. Sometimes, he won. He realized that he was more than just Steven
now. He was also the Avatar of Hercules. Hercules, whom the Ancient Romans
worshipped as the God of Strength and Military Power. Was Hercules a deity?
Steven couldn't tell. He only knew that the entity that now shared his body
had used him to destroy a powerful inter-dimensional demon as easily as one
killed a chicken.

Suddenly, Steven felt like leaving this place. He didn't care for it in the
least. He had other things to do. He thought about Angel and the others.
What would they think? Steven remembered the way they looked at him. He was
something strange to them. They thought he was weird the moment he put on
the Face of Hercules. Strange. A female psychic, a green-skinned demon
singer, a vampire with a soul, a street hustler and a bookworm thought he
was weird. His family thought he was weird. His father was a womanizer who
verbally abused his wife and physically abused his son.

His mother was a strange woman who threw objects at her son in moments of
anger. His sister was a violent psychopath who once tried to stick a knife
in him. Yet these people were normal. Oh, well. If that's what normal was,
Steven didn't want any part of it. He carefully got out of bed. He went into
the bathroom and showered. He put on some clean clothes that he 'borrowed'
from Angel. He let himself out, after writing a note. He ran into the night.

Steven didn't know where he was going. He walked into a park and went to a
big hill overlooking the city. When he looked, he saw everything differently.
It was as if he were looking at everything through both a magnifying glass
and a microscope. There was a lot more detail in just about everything. Also,
the colors were more vivid. Just so much better. He suddenly wished he could
move about more freely... like a bird... and was very surprised when he found
himself surrounded by crimson sulphur... it enveloped him... and then he was
gone.

Steven closed his eyes the moment he felt himself pulled by an irresistible
force. He was being taken... somewhere. When he opened his eyes, he was
elsewhere... elsewhere meaning just floating in the skies above Los
Angeles... three thousand feet above the ground. Steven was floating above
the city. Just hovering there. He didn't know how he magically transported
himself in the heavens but he did. Just soaring in the skies. At first he
panicked, then he began a rapid descent as he figured out that the power of
teleportation depended solely on his willpower.

Steven materialized somewhere in the city of Los Angeles. He guessed he could
add teleportation to his list of powers. He would have been content just to
be able to slice up large, angry demons with a sword but hey. He landed on a
building rooftop. He was just another guy. He looked in the alley and saw
that three vampires had a kid cornered. They were going to feast on him.
Well, not if Steven had anything to do with it.

He waded into the vampires. They were strong and dangerous creatures of the
night. Steven felt that with the Face of Hercules inside him, he could do
anything. He caught the first vampire and tossed him twenty feet into the
air. The other two came at him. Steven felt momentarily scared of them as
they vamped out. His semi-divine component was not scared, though.
Steven/Hercules slammed into the vampires and tore them to shreds using
nothing but his bare hands. Bare hands filled with the strength of a god.
Quite possibly enough raw strength to lift a mountain or shake the heavens.
The vampires were no more.

Steven picked up the kid's fallen bag and looked him up and down. "Are you
alright?" he asked.

The kid nodded. Steven handed him the bag and walked away.

Meanwhile...

The morning rose over Los Angeles. Inside Angel Investigations, people were
moving about. Lorne the Host was dressed and ready to return to his club
Caritas. Gunn was gonna check up on his homies. Cordelia had a modeling
interview. Angel was in the basement. Winifred was going out with Gunn. Only
Wesley noticed the kid was gone. The former Watcher hadn't forgotten what he
had witnessed last night. The startling transformation of an ordinary street
kid and teen runaway named Steven into the fearsome and powerful Avatar of
Hercules.

"Where is the kid?" Wesley asked.

"In his room." Cordelia said.

"Has anyone checked on him ?" Lorne asked.

Angel emerged from the basement whistling a tune and Lorne looked shocked.
Angel froze. "What ?" he asked.

The green-skinned psychic demon looked at Angel. "I'm getting a bad vibe
here, kiddies." he said. "The kid is gone all superhero mode and is
attracting all kinds of attention from the dark forces of this world. Some
of which even the mighty Hercules might have trouble dealing with."

Angel looked at him. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?" he asked.

Lorne nodded. At the same time, Cordelia screamed in pain as she got a
sudden vision. Gunn caught her as she almost fell. "What is it, Cordy?" he
asked.

"Steven has become Hercules." Cordelia said breathlessly. "He's now half
human and half god." She looked at them. "Wolfram & Hart want him, so does
every supernatural big boss out there."

Gunn grimaced. "Why does everyone want him ?"

"I believe that I can answer this question." said Wesley.

"The Faces are quite rare. Only the best of all heroes are even considered
for this honor. Hercules was worthy of having his Essence made eternal by the
Cosmic Powers and locked inside the indestructible Face. There are very few
others." he said. "The dark forces have been trying to get their hands on the
Faces for countless eons. The Faces were made to be used by agents of good.
If an evil force ever gets ahold of the power locked inside the Faces, the
balance of power between good and evil will shift in favor of the darkness."

The black man looked puzzled. "What does that mean ?" asked Gunn.

Cordelia answered. "It means we'd better get our hands on the kid before
someone else does."

A collective "Oh" filled the room.

"Let's get moving!" Angel said.



Elsewhere...

Lilah Morgan watched the Khliatos demon leave her office. She sent some
operatives to check up on him. He was an inter-dimensional demon hellbent on
revenge against the one who murdered his mate. Wolfram & Hart was gonna have
its hands full taking care of the artifact situation. Lilah Morgan had read
up on the artifact. It was the Face of Hercules. A magical mask containing
amazing powers that were transferred to whoever wore it. The Face itself was
irremovable. Once someone puts on the Face of Hercules, only death could do
them part. Very interesting. She read up further.

There was more than one Face mentioned. The Face of Hercules was said to
give to its wearer Superhuman Strength, resilience, as well as the ability
to Regenerate. Also, something about the Power of Teleportation. Lilah read
further into the magic book about the Faces. The Face of Achilles had been
lost for centuries. It gave to its wearer the Power of Invulnerability.
The Face of Atalanta gave its wearer the Power of Speed. The Face of
Perseus also conveyed certain powers. Other Faces mentioned were the Face
of Patrocles. Many Greek heroes and heroines had been forged into the
indestructible Faces. You had to be a man or woman of exceptional courage,
capable of performing extraordinary deeds in the name of the gods for the
benefit of the Forces of Good. Also, you had to be Chosen.

Lilah summoned someone else into her office. A tall young woman with long
blond hair and pale blue eyes walked in. She wore a black leather outfit and
looked regal. Lilah seized her up. This was no ordinary young woman. This was
the Avatar of Medea. Medea was a particularly wicked and evil woman from the
ancient Greek myths. Gifted with magical powers. Apparently, the gods saw fit
to transform her into one of the Faces. At the current time, the Face of
Medea was worn by a woman named Katherine Halston.

"Why have you summoned me?" Medea/Katherine asked.

"I want you to kill the Avatar of Hercules." Lilah Morgan said.

"Consider it done." Medea/Katherine said in a voice like nails scraping on a
board.

With that, the Avatar leapt out of Lilah Morgan's office window. Lilah looked
through and saw Medea rising into the night sky like some giant bird. "He's
dead meat." she thought. She closed her window.



Elsewhere...

Steven walked around downtown Los Angeles. It was almost dawn. He always
liked to go downtown. He didn't know why. His semi-divine component did
not object. Steven walked around, his hands in his pockets. He was quite
surprised when he heard someone calling his name. He saw a dozen men and
women clad in black uniforms and wielding guns.

"Stop right there." they said.

Steven hesitated. Hercules did not. Before Steven knew it, Hercules had taken
over the black youth's body and was charging into the attackers like a raging
bull. He made short work of them and would have killed them hadn't Steven
restrained him. Hercules let the attackers bruised, battered but alive on the
ground.

"No force on this world can challenge one such as I!" Hercules bellowed.

Steven was startled when he heard a chuckle. He saw a tall, huge,
menacing-looking fur-covered demon approaching him. It looked a lot like the
one that had tried to slay him earlier, only much bigger.

"Khliatos bull, I bested your mate." Hercules said. "I will do the same to
you."

The demon looked at him. He looked angry. "I will make you pay for killing my
beloved." the demon snarled.

It charged. Hercules raced up to meet him. The two of them grappled and tried
to overpower each other. The demon was strong, almost as strong as Hercules.
Hercules slammed his fists into him. The monster howled and returned blow for
blow. They fought for awhile, and neither seemed to be tired. They faced each
other. This was a fight to the death. Steven felt a bit afraid of the
snarling beast. It looked dangerous.

Hercules was immortal. If Steven died, the Face of Hercules would just be
worn by someone else. If Steven died, that was the end of him. Steven stopped
resisting the brutal instincts that drove Hercules. The black boy and the
ancient Hero merged together into a supremely dangerous god-like being eager
to vanquish and destroy. Once more, the Avatar of Hercules hurled himself at
the beast.

Steven was beginning to feel tired. He hadn't been an Avatar for long. It
appeared that there were limits even to the strength of Hercules. The beast
knew this and pressed his advantage. Steven didn't even have a weapon to
use. He was fighting with his bare hands. The beast had huge claws. He was
slashing left and right. More than once he got a piece of Steven but somehow,
Hercules repaired the body. The wounds simply healed, almost as fast as they
were made.

Steven had to change tactics. He ran. The demon laughed. Hercules seized a
small tree and pulled. He yanked it off the ground, uplifting it. The demon
came at him. Steven/Hercules used the uprooted tree as a battering ram and
slammed it into the demon's chest. The demon screamed in pain. The tree had
slammed through his heart. He was dead. Steven slumped on the ground,
exhausted. He had to recover from the strain. Even the great Hercules needed
rest sometimes.

The Sky Medea had been in the middle of work when she had been summoned by
Lilah Morgan. She had been spreading chaos in Africa. It was her specialty.
Death and destruction everywhere she went. She was the cause of revolts and
brutal overthrowings. She caused mass suicide and riots. She had been in
West Africa, trying to achieve maximum carnage when the evil rotten bitch
known as Morgan called her. Medea had a deal with Wolfram & Hart. Whenever
a new Face emerged with an Avatar, she wanted to know about it.

Medea didn't like the idea of other Faces out there. The Avatar she was in
was a really nasty girl. A very bitter and angry young woman with a special
hatred for those of her gender. Medea loved it. The all-too willing Avatar's
personality had vanished because she merged with Medea completely. Medea had
a special hatred for the Face of Hercules, no matter what Avatar it was in.

She remembered those days in ancient times when she had been in an
inexperienced Avatar, a small and sickly girl and tried to take on the
mighty Hercules. Back then, the Face of Hercules was worn by a young man
named Lobos who wanted to conquer the land of Nirmessa, home of the
separatist matriarchy of female warriors that would later be known as the
Amazons. Medea had tried to use her powers to stop the conquerors but she
failed. In fact, Hercules had killed her Avatar and hurled the Face of
Medea into a volcano where it remained, unseen and unused for thousands
of years. Medea wanted revenge against Hercules. Never mind that unless a
Face was really dominant and powerful, it could not control the actions of
its Avatar or regulate the Avatar's use of its powers. Some Faces played
fair and shared power with their Avatars. Medea had never played fair even
once in the countless eons that she had been alive. She flew in the skies
above Los Angeles.

Medea looked at the latest Avatar of Hercules. He was a tall, comely black
youth who did not look a day over fifteen. A mere child. This was gonna
be a piece of cake.

"Who are you ?" Steven asked.

He looked at the strange lady. He didn't recognize her but something inside
him did. Hercules recognized his ancient enemy Medea no matter what form she
took. Medea had taken the form of many women and sometimes men over the eons
and her appearance could not surprise Hercules anymore. Hercules moved
carefully around her. He had fashioned the tree with which he killed the
demon into a club by merely wishing it.

Medea smiled malevolently. "You are like a lamb facing a wolf." she said.
"And I am the wolf."

Steven shivered. Hercules did not. He readied himself for battle. Medea
cackled with glee and suddenly, her form changed. She became a large,
dog-like creature the size of a cow. "How fitting, the bitch from hell."
Hercules laughed.

The monstrous dog charged. Hercules slammed the club on its skull. The
creature fell on the ground, whimpering. As Hercules advanced to finish the
job, Medea resumed her human form. She looked at Hercules with deceptively
innocent eyes.

"You wouldn't kill such a pretty lady, would you?" she asked.

"You're an evil rotten bitch who must be destroyed!" Hercules bellowed.

He grabbed her by the throat and shoved her back. She resisted. He threw
her against the hard ground. Although she was a mistress of the games of
manipulation, deception as well as magic, Medea was no match for Hercules
in brute strength. Nothing in the universe could match him in that area.
She was tossed around like a raggedy doll. Enraged, Medea attacked him.
Flames came out of her eyes, literally.

Hercules waved his hand and repelled the flames. Medea looked stunned.
Hercules advanced on her mercilessly. Medea changed tactics. She looked at
the heavens and thunder rolled overhead. Suddenly, strong winds buffeted
Hercules. The hero withstood the assault of the magical elements as first
wind then snow struck at him. Medea laughed. Hercules marched toward her.
She shot flames at him from her eyes and levitated off the ground. Hercules
couldn't take much more of this. Looking up, he vanished in a cloud of
sulphur. Teleportation!

Hercules hovered five thousand feet off the ground. Megara appeared right
beside him. She had changed form again, this time becoming a large
dragon-like monster. The monster came at Hercules even as the hero tried to
stop himself from crashing down in Los Angeles. Hercules leapt onto Medea's
back and yanked on the tuffs of hair on the dragon's neck. He pulled. The
dragon screamed.

Hercules dug his superhuman hands into the creature's flesh. Crimson blood
seeped out of the wound. Medea howled like one of the damned. Hercules swung
his other arm around and brought the heavy club onto Medea's dragon-skull.
He heard the satisfying sound of crushed bones and the wet sound of broken
flesh. Medea plummeted toward the ground. Hercules drove the business end of
the club into the dragon's brains and then teleported himself away from the
falling body. When Hercules reached the ground, he looked at Medea's dying
body.

"I will return to destroy you, Hercules." she said. "I will spend eternity
hating you."

Hercules stared hard at her. He had been locked in deadly struggle against
the Forces of Darkness for eons. He found that battling one of his peers was
tiring. Especially since Medea was a force to be reckoned with. She died. He
waited for the Face to pop out of her skull. Surely, it did. A small gold
mask. Indestructible. Forged by the Cosmic Powers themselves. He took it and
threw it as far as he could into the sea. He hoped that it would be thousands
of years before it got out.

Somehow, Faces never went long without wearers. Go figure. He knew that he
would face Medea again. She would come back in a new Avatar, as some poor
man or, most likely, a woman would put on the Face of Medea and the undying
female monster would be reborn. Hercules had been in many Avatars, both male
and female, yet he always remained on the side of the light. The Avatars
changed. The Faces did not.

Hercules turned around to see some newcomers to the battle scene. He saw
people coming out of a car. Angel and company.

"Hey, you're alright!" said Cordelia.

She came up to him and embraced him. Steven hugged her back. He couldn't
believe how much his life had changed for the past few hours. He had gone
from street runaway to rescuee. He went from sheltered rescuee to becoming
the Avatar of Hercules. The Son of Zeus. The one the ancient Romans worshiped
as Sanctus Hercues, God of Strength and Military Power. The one called
Herucles by the ancient Greeks. The Strongman of the West.

He looked at those people who had become his friends over such a small
period of time. Angel: Vampire with a Soul atoning for past sins. Cordelia
Chase: Former high school drama queen turned aspiring actress and Psychic
link of Angel Investigations to the Powers That Be. Connor: The half human
offspring of two vampires struggling to make it into the human world. Gunn:
A streetwise hustler turned vampire hunter trying to help his friends and
community fight evil. Winifred: Physics student turned unwilling
inter-dimensional traveler and slave turned free woman and aspiring heroine.
Lorne the Host: Expatriate from another dimension trying to make it into the
human world.

He went back to the hotel with them. That's where he found Wesley. The former
Watcher had many questions. He wanted to know about the Face of Hercules.
Steven knew much about Hercules and there was much he had to learn about the
dual entities that made him. In order words, Steven had things to figure out
about himself and the super-being inside him. He had a lot to do. A whole
world awaited him.

"I must go." he told Wesley.

"You have a calling and a long journey ahead of you." said Wesley.

"Yeah." Steven nodded. He chuckled. "You'd laugh if I told you that all I
wanted to do yesterday was eat at Burger King and find a homeless shelter to
sleep in."

Wesley looked somber. He saw a young man before him. He also saw a very
powerful entity. Where one ended and the other began he could not tell.
"Good luck." Wesley said, extending his hand.

Steven shook his hand then winked and said in Hercules's voice: "I'll be
back!" Steven went outside. He looked at a beautiful motorcycle. A Kawasaki.
Red and black. Shiny. "Wow." he said.

"It's yours." Wesley told him. "A parting gift."

Steven looked at the bike. It looked perfect. He admired it from one end to
the other. Beautiful. "There's just one small ramification that it needs."
Steven said.

"What?" Wesley asked.

Steven touched the seat of the bike and sulphurous energies shot out of his
hand and into the bike. The motorcycle glowed with an eerie, magical light.
Wesley gasped. Steven smiled. "Now, this is a vehicle worthy of the newest
Avatar of the mighty Hercules."

He grinned at Wesley, then put on the helmet. He sat down on the bike and
turned it on. He drove out of the garage of the hotel which housed Angel
Investigations. He went into the street. That's when and where something
amazing happened.

The motorcycle and its rider took flight into the skies. Steven flew into
the skies riding the Kawasaki which after some magical laterations took to
flying like a bird. Steven soared in the skies of Los Angeles. He didn't
know where he was going and he didn't care. He was a young black man with
life ahead of him. He was also something else. All his life he felt alone.
He would never be alone again. Inside him lived the Spirit of Hercules, the
greatest Hero that ever lived. A legend all over the world. A god among men.
He didn't need anything or anybody. Not his dysfunctional family or poor
background. He was more than he could ever hope to be. A life of excitement
and adventure awaited him... he was after all the newest Avatar to wear the
Face of Hercules.

The End

    

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