The God You Know

Ares stops Xena.Our heroes come upon the scene of a horrific massacre. As they wonder who or what could have possibly done it, the Archangel Michael appears, informing them that the Roman emperor Caligula is responsible. Apparently, Xena and Gabrielle know him by reputation as a psychotic, murdering, sex addict (ya know, your typical Roman emperor), but what they don't know is that he's somehow made himself into a god. Michael explains that Caligula's willing to kill anyone who won't swear allegiance to his cult of blood, and since Xena has been given the power to kill gods, she's the only one who can stop him. As extra motivation, Michael reveals that Eve has gone to Rome to confront the emperor, but will neither confirm nor deny Xena's suspicion that he's the one who put her up to it. In Rome, meanwhile, Caligula rides through the streets, stopping among a crowd of people to demonstrate his newfound immortality. Among those assembled is Eve, who starts to spread Eli's message of love to Caligula and his followers. Caligula prepares to have her executed, if only to shut her up, when Xena comes speeding up in a chariot, dressed in black and wearing gold armor. She stops just short of Caligula, then jumps out, preparing to kill him. However, Ares is also there, and he tackles her before she can get the chance. He explains that Caligula and Aphrodite are bound together, so that if Xena kills Caligula, Aphrodite will also die.

Aphrodite doesn't recognize Gabrielle.Gabrielle takes advantage of the distraction to get Eve to safety, telling her to wait in the catacombs outside of town with the other Elijans. Meanwhile, Aphrodite appears and starts getting handsy with Ares, clearly not recognizing her own brother. Caligula orders Ares thrown in jail (for the commotion with Xena), and that's when his guards notice that Eve is missing. Caligula tells them to search for her, vowing to make her death "particularly spectacular". When Aphrodite starts complaining that she's bored, Caligula tells her she should go rest, then kisses her passionately, causing her to faint. He returns his attention to Xena, just as Gabrielle steps in, introducing herself as Cinda of Thrace, claiming to represent the financial interests of Saba the charioteer (Xena). She says that before Ares so rudely interrupted, 'Saba' was about to challenge Caligula to a chariot race. Intrigued, Caligula invites our heroes to be his guests at the palace. That night, Xena and Gabrielle are bathing together, getting ready for a party in Xena's honor. Xena points out that before she can kill Caligula, she'll need to sever whatever bond he has with Aphrodite. To that end, she decides to head to the dungeon to question Ares, while sending Gabrielle to the party to try to talk some sense into Aphrodite. At the party, Aphrodite fails to also recognize Gabrielle, calling her a "butt-kissing parasite," and then stumbles off as if drunk. When Gabrielle catches up to her, the Goddess of Love giggles, claiming she's never been so happy, and then tries to kiss the blond bard. Caligula sees, and sends Aphrodite back into the party. He then points out that 'Saba' is late, and sends the Praetorian guard to track her down, hoping that death will teach her punctuality. Meanwhile, in the dungeon, Xena sneaks in to see Ares, who tells her that he'd heard that Aphrodite was losing her mind and realized that without the god of war, the goddess of love becomes "unbalanced". As for Caligula, Ares figures he's some sort of succubus who's draining Aphrodite's godhood from her bit by bit. Back at the party, Gabrielle's been trying to keep Caligula busy with a sexy dance she's improvised, when Xena arrives. His death threat forgotten, he says 'Saba' will have to prove herself worthy if she wants to race him. To that end, he has Ares brought in, and demands that Xena kill him.

Xena and Gabrielle's floor show.Instead, she and Gabrielle put on a floor show to distract Caligula that's essentially them writhing up against Ares. Intrigued, Caligula allows Xena to tempt him with a kiss, and she proceeds to bite down on his lip, hard enough to draw blood. At the sight of the blood, he begins to panic, ordering Xena be clapped in chains and demanding his guests exit immediately. Aphrodite whines, asking him not to make them leve, and he backhands her in response, causing a small wound on her forehead. Once the room is cleared out, he has a guard take out a dagger and stab him in the arm, relieved to see he still has his immortality. Meanwhile, Gabrielle is tending to Aphrodite's wound, the two having cleared out of Caligula's party room with the other guests. The Goddess of Love fears she's going to die, as she seems to sense her own immortality slipping away. Gabrielle tries to reassure her, but Aphrodite refuses to listen. She then tries to zap herself out of there, only to find that she can't. She even tries two more times, but to no avail. Back in the party room, meanwhile, Caligula demands to know how Xena was able to draw blood when he's an immortal. She lies that she's immortal too, spinning a tale about being a Celtic sex goddess able to "pierce the veil of immortality". She says she can make gods bleed and even kill them, and offers him an alliance, pointing out that her ability could be an asset to him. She then cuts the chains that bind her and waltzes out of there, but not before telling him to think about her offer very carefully. Later, Caligula is haunted by his mother's voice, calling him a cowardly, pathetic laughingstock and telling him that he murdered his entire family for nothing. Caligula tries to dismiss her as a voice in his head, and when that doesn't work, calls out for someone to save him. As if in answer, Michael appears. Caligula asks what kind of demon Michael is, but the archangel simply says nothing. In the catacombs outside of town later, Eve is in the middle of meditating, when Michael appears to her as well. He tells her that she's ready, and to not be afraid.

Xena can no longer kill gods.Back at the palace, Caligula is on his throne, brooding, when Eve is brought in in chains and dropped unceremoniously at his feet. She begins preaching to him, urging him to forsake his lifestyle of lust and violence in favor of "truth and hope," but what she's selling, he's definitely not buying. He goes to kill her, when Xena arrives, stopping him, before knocking out Eve before she can blow her cover. Caligula informs her that a demon with wings told him he needed to kill Eve in order to secure his legacy as "the greatest of all gods," but Xena comes up with an idea. She suggests he make Eve's death a public spectacle, one that would get him followers for his cult of blood. Uplifted by this idea, Caligula grabs Xena, and they start to tango. As they're dancing, Xena asks why he seems to prefer Aphrodite over her. He replies that he doesn't; he just needs one more thing from her and that is one final kiss. Meanwhile, Gabrielle's lounging with Aphrodite by the bathtub she and Xena had used earlier. She's trying to console the Goddess of Love, when Michael appears behind them, preparing to kill them. However, Xena storms in, furious that he not only tried to use Eve to force her hand but that the archangel is now trying to kill her friends. They fight, during which Xena uses the pinch on him and nearly drowns him. He explains that Caligula is about to become a full god and so he was just trying to keep that from happening by killing Aphrodite. This does nothing to assauge Xena's anger. She asks Michael what happens to angels when they die, and goes to kill him. Before she can, however, she's engulfed in a bright light, allowing Michael to get away. When the light clears, Xena announces that her ability to kill gods is gone. Just then, Caligula bursts in, looking for Aphrodite.

Caligula prepares to execute Eve.He finds her on the floor, and gives her one last passionate smooch, literally sucking the last of her godhood from her. Xena tries to stop him, but it's too late, he's now a full-fledged god. On the upside, though, the bond between him and Aphrodite seems to have been severed, and she's back to her old self. Aphrodite tries to zap herself and her friends out of there, and that's when she learns that she's no longer a god. Later, Xena visits Ares and Eve in the dungeon, and fills them in on Caligula becoming a full god, Aphrodite returning to normal, and Eli stripping her of her power to kill gods. She then turns to Eve and apologizes for knocking her out, but Eve says that what hurt more was her mother interfering with her mission. Eve argues that if she's to die on her mission, it's her life and therefore her choice, but Xena counters that as her mother, she'll never stop trying to protect her. The next day, Caligula introduces his people to his soon-to-be new queen, the goddess Saba, announcing that the two of them will race for the right to kill Eve. During the race, Caligula tries a few dirty tricks, courtesy of his new godly abilities, but in the end, it's Xena who's the victor. Only, she says, it's not Eve's blood that's going to be spilt. Gabrielle then outs her as Xena, slayer of gods, and Xena asks Caligula if he feels lucky as the crowd turns on him, starting with chanting Xena's name. Caligula is hurt by his people's rejection, but Xena offers him the chance to take his place among the Roman gods, as well as be spared the humiliation of dying on his knees. She suggests that what better way to kick off his cult of blood than by spilling his own blood, pointing out that if she kills him, he's just another dead god but that if he kills himself, his name would live on forever. Convinced, he takes a dagger Xena offers, using it to take his own life. That night, Xena, Gabrielle, and Eve are back at the palace with Ares and Aphrodite. Xena tells Gabrielle she regrets having to trick Caligula into killing himself, as she feels he wasn't evil but rather, damaged. Aphrodite, meanwhile, regrets not being a god anymore, but Ares has very little sympathy for her. "Welcome to my nightmare, sis," he simply tells her. Nonetheless, Aphrodite says she does appreciate Gabrielle being her friend and trying to get through to her while she was under Caligula's spell. Then, as they're all leaving, Eve asks if her mother regrets losing her greatest gift, to which Xena replies that she's still got her two greatest gifts, Eve and Gabrielle, and that she has no intention of losing either one of them.

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