Marko in The Kidnap (2_49)

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Birthday Greetings

Anna M.C.
Vector's Monocle


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Birthday Greetings for Xena


So our precious warrior-princess is celebrating a birthday on August 10, is she? I must admit that I'm rather unpleasantly surprised to receive word that you've somehow contrived to survive for this long. Generally, when a woman takes it into her head to play with swords and chakrams and other dangerous toys she has no business meddling with, her lifespan is doomed to be regrettably short. This behavior effectively belies the popular opinion that you received an over-generous allotment of the "brains" at the genetic expense of your twin Justin. You've made a lifestyle choice more foolish than anything your shiftless sibling could have dreamed up, dear Xena, even in the state I hear he was in following the Tri-Kingdom drinking competition. Rumor has it that the little cretin actually attempted to flirt with Grandma Winslow immediately prior to passing out.

Incidentally, are the Greystones still less than enamored with the notion of one of their own prancing about the countryside in black leather? I shudder to think. Did King Richard finally gather the nerve to disown you? Really, it's touching that you feel such a strong need to emulate me, and I do understand that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's just that you do such an inadequate job of it, I can't help but be insulted. I mean, fighting for the sake of good? Now, really. Such a waste of black leather. Your previous incarnation was vastly preferable, my little aspiring apprentice, but I suppose it's a case of "once a Greystone, always a Greystone." You can dress them up in black leather, but you can't squelch their inherent sense of annoying self-righteousness. You've proven such a grave disappointment to Ares and myself. You know, he had such high hopes for you! But then again, whenever a wench in black leather is involved, Ares' good judgment has always disappeared faster than Justin at a battleground. He has some rather prurient tastes, as I'm sure you're well aware. But nothing compared to mine, as you will quickly discover should you make the grave mistake of venturing too far into Karteian territory on one of your pathetic little missions of mercy.

A word of warning: don't make the mistake of underestimating or defying me, princess. I've heard that you suffer from the delusion that Vector is "still stronger than our dark prince *with* the monocle." Simply provide me with the opportunity and I'll be delighted to use that selfsame monocle to provide you with a private, personal demonstration of the full extent of my powers. I also have quite an impressive collection of black leather spiked boots at my disposal, just itching for wear. And we all know how fond you are of black leather. Finally, do please be so kind as to inform that talentless hack of a Gabrielle that should she persist in scribbling those offensive little limericks about me, she will discover what an impressive view of Karteia one can enjoy from the North Tower of Castle Blackpool (although I doubt I'll bother to suspend her from a rope as sturdy as that reserved for Geoffrey). It only validates my faith in the peasant rabble's utter lack of taste that her libelous little rhymes should be published by the Aperanian Herald whilst my epic "Ode to my Enemies" was rejected. Rest assured, those short-sighted, short-lived "former" editors soon discovered a new meaning for the term "poison pen."

Happy birthday, princess. I hope for your sake that you will soon acquire the wisdom to ensure that it will not be your last.

Now, as for you, Trisha, I did not "stand you up" for our date, as you so falsely and rashly accuse me of doing; I assure you that my grasp of the social graces far exceeds that of the Camarandian boors, particularly Justin, with whom you habitually consort. I offered you the opportunity to partake with me in a dinner of lightning hawk and leather-based entertainments AT CASTLE BLACKPOOL. I did not at any time specify that I would provide any transportation for you. I can't be bothered with such trivial details. If you are unable to fend for yourself, I'm afraid that's your loss.


His Royal Highness,
Prince Dirk Blackpool


From: Anna M.C.
Subject: Special Birthday Delivery for Xena

Hey, Xena, it looks like we got some mail for you by mistake over here at the Wild Rose Tavern:

Xena's card

Oh, and happy birthday. : )

Anna M.C.

From: XENA
Subject: If I ever become an Evil Overlord....

Dear Listians,

Due to the recent event of my birthday...and subsequent, albeit oblique, reminder of my somewhat dark past sent "in error" to the Wild Rose Tavern, I have hereby decided to post my resolutions now and not wait for the year 2000--thus circumventing any Y2K problem early. I'm sure Dirk and Vector will approve. ;~D


***If I ever become an Evil Overlord....***

My legions of terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

My noble half-brother--whose throne I usurped--will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

Shooting is NOT too good for my enemies.

The artifact, which is the source of my power, will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box.

I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks-- "Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?"--my reply will be, "No, just sensible."

When I've captured my adversary and he says--"Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?"--I'll say, "No," and shoot him.

After I kidnap the beautiful prince, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labeled "Danger: Do Not Push."

I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me -- I'll do it myself.

I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel, well outside my borders, will work just as well.

I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles, or by eaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

I will not waste time making my enemy's death look like an accident; I'm not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn't believe it anyway.

I will make it clear that I *do* know the meaning of the word "mercy"; I simply choose not show them any.

One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

All slain enemies will be cremated, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere to any other dress codes.

The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad wizard to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he's caused--like Vector.

I will never utter the sentence: "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."

When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.


From: Dirk Blackpool
Subject: Birthday Greetings for Xena


Ah, Xena. My warrior princess. Another birthday already? Hmm. It seems only the other day you were asked to re-new your membership in V.I.C.E. Come to think of it, I haven't seen you at any of the recent meetings. Could it be that your Greystone blood has tainted what would otherwise be a bloodthirsty, ruthless woman? I shudder to think of it.

And you missed that very interesting demonstration on the use of lightning, coils of copper wire and staked captives last week. I know you would have enjoyed that. The smell of ozone wasn't the only thing in the air that night, I can tell you. You really must join us again. We could use a woman who can weave words as you can to describe the exquisite shrieks and reactions of our vict. um. volunteers. Imagine the adjectives you could use. Those alone would be music to our ears. And those of our volunteers (providing we haven't removed them yet). Ah, it does make me wax nostalgic. *sighs*

So then, we'll see you next Wednesday by the crossroads at Hawk Hollow. We're planning a rather entertaining night of Lightning Hawk demonstrations and an event we call the 50-Yard Peasant Scramble. Bring your quill, a container of ink (red is really best) and a number of scrolls of vellum. I'll tell the others to expect you, shall I?


Prince Dirk Blackpool
Charter Member, V.I.C.E.


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