7.22 Sisterhood


ACT ONE

FADE IN

Inside the Amazon city of Themiscyra, which has a rather rural look with small houses and horses grazing. The camera follows Xena, Gabrielle and Eve, panning over groups of Amazons practicing their fighting skills of fighting with staffs and swords, and others practicing archery. Finally the camera closes in on a large group of Amazons on a city square, gathered around a wooden platform where Varia is standing. Xena, Gabrielle and Eve dismount and start walking through the crowd of Amazons.

VARIA:
     We may not know who they are, whether they are friend or foe, or with what purpose they are coming--but we must be prepared for their arrival. We can't take any chances.

Varia glances down at the group to see Gabrielle and Xena standing there.

VARIA (smiles a little uncertainly):
     Xena, Gabrielle. I wasn't expecting to see you he--

She stops short when she sees Eve standing several paces behind Xena. Varia's eyes narrow in anger.

VARIA:
     What's she doing here?

All the Amazons turn to stare at Eve. A murmur runs through the crowd.

AMAZON (off-camera):
     It's the Bitch of Rome!

The murmur grows louder. Eve looks intensely uncomfortable.

Gabrielle walks up the steps of the platform to face Varia.

GABRIELLE:
     Varia, you yourself admitted that she's not the same person anymore. Livia, the Bitch of Rome, is dead. This is Eve.

VARIA:
     We were willing to pardon her crimes. That doesn't mean we are going to welcome her in our midst!

GABRIELLE:
     If anyone has a right to be in your midst, it's Eve.

VARIA (puzzled):
     What do you mean by that?

Gabrielle

GABRIELLE:
     When she was a baby, I gave her my Rite of Caste. Therefore, by tradition, she is an Amazon Princess. (Varia's face changes; many Amazons gasp) We are here to take care of some unfinished business, to complete her initiation into the Amazon Nation.

VARIA (raising her voice):
     No! I will not permit her to enter our nation, no matter what happened when she was a child!

GABRIELLE (sternly):
     You forget that you have no more authority in this tribe, Varia. After your betrayal, you are no longer the Queen--I am.

Varia

VARIA (shakes her head):
     No! It isn't just your decision to make. Ask our sisters if they believe she has a right to join the tribe!

Murmurs of protest erupt throughout the crowd of Amazons.

EVE (still standing at the back of the crowd, makes an effort to speak up):
     May I speak? (her voice is drowned out in the general murmur and she speaks louder) May I speak? (a hush falls over the crowd as Eve, followed by Xena, starts to walk toward the platform) Varia...Amazons...I don't dare to call you sisters yet, but perhaps I will, some day.

AMAZON #1:
     No!

AMAZON #2:
     Never!

AMAZON #3:
     Let her speak!

Eve

EVE (starts mounting the platform):
     Many of you know who I was. I know that I can never erase what I have done to the Amazons; the guilt will stay with me for the rest of my life. Only this morning, I learned that Gabrielle gave me her Rite of Caste when I was just a baby. That means I have been an Amazon Princess...and to me, that makes my guilt even greater. (she stands on the platform, standing next to Gabrielle, and turns to face the crowd) I didn't just slaughter the Amazons--I slaughtered my own sisters. I know many of you may never be able to forgive me...but perhaps, if I claim my place as an Amazon, I can prove to you that I am different now--and at least try to make amends, make up for the wrongs I have done to you.

Gabrielle puts a hand on Eve's shoulder and looks encouragingly at Eve, then turns to Varia.

GABRIELLE:
     She means it, Varia. I know she does.

Eve comes closer to Varia and faces her.

EVE:
     I'm sorry, Varia...for everything. Please give me a chance.

Varia sighs and says nothing. The other Amazons are now completely silent, glancing at each uncertainly.

GABRIELLE (to the crowd):
     Those of you who believe that Eve shouldn't be initiated into the tribe, say no.

Only a few voices shout "no."

GABRIELLE (to Varia):
     It sounds like most of our sisters want to give Eve a chance. (Varia nods, her mouth rigid) The ceremony will be tonight, when the moon is full. (looks at the other Amazons) Trust me, you have made the right choice.

VARIA (displeased):
     I hope so.

A brief silence.

GABRIELLE:
     Varia, we have heard that the Amazon nation faces a new threat. What's happening?

VARIA:
     There have been rumors of an army of some sort headed for Themiscyra.

XENA:
     Who are they? Persians, Romans--

VARIA (shakes head):
     No. They come from the north--but from what our scouts report, they aren't like anyone we have encountered before. No one has any idea who they are. It may not even be an army; some say they are just wandering tribes passing through. But we must be prepared for anything.

Gabrielle and Xena look at each other.

GABRIELLE:
     If they want a fight, they'll get a fight.

CUT TO

Night. Eve is standing in a dark room, staring out the window at the brightly shining moon. Gabrielle peers in the doorway.

GABRIELLE (quietly):
     Eve? We're ready.

Gabrielle walks up to her. She is wearing the fine brown leather armor, gauntlets and boats that she had gotten from Messene when they had been there to defeat the guirve. There are patterns in bronze all over it and the back has the metallic design of a guirve.

EVE (smiles a little):
     You look good.

GABRIELLE (grins):
     Who says leather doesn't suit me?

Eve smiles and then looks a little nervously at her.

EVE:
     Gabrielle, I know I said I was ready to do this, but now I'm not so sure. The hate I saw in Varia's eyes today... She hates me, despises me from deep in her heart...and my becoming an Amazon won't ever erase that.

GABRIELLE (reassuring):
     It'll be okay, Eve. Trust me.

Gabrielle smiles at her slightly and then leads her outside.

CUT TO

Outside, Amazons stand in a circle, holding torches. A bowl filled with water stands on a tripod in the center of the circle. Eve walks up with Gabrielle, still looking a little nervous.

GABRIELLE:
     Sorry your mother couldn't come, but it's Amazons only.

EVE:
     It's all right. (she looks down at her hands that shake slightly, and sighs) I wish I'd stop shaking.

GABRIELLE:
     It's perfectly all right to be nervous at your initiation, you know. Every Amazon is.

EVE:
     You know I'm not every Amazon...

GABRIELLE:
     You'll be fine. (smiles)

They stop in the middle of the area, surrounded by the Amazons holding torches. Gabrielle walks to the tripod, takes the bowl and stands in front of Eve. Eve glances at the Amazons around her, whose faces are emotionless. Then she kneels and bows her head.

GABRIELLE:
     Every Amazon must be baptized into the tribe before they can take their rightful place. Eve, you were baptized as a baby to receive my Rite of Caste; now I bestow upon you the bond of sisterhood with these and all other Amazons. Do you pledge to honor and be loyal to your sisters?

EVE (not very confidently):
     I do.

Gabrielle pours the bowl's contents onto Eve's head, the water running down Eve's face.

GABRIELLE:
     Then be born into our tribe as an Amazon Princess and be forgiven for your past misdeeds.

The Amazons are silent as Eve is initiated, but when Gabrielle glances over at them, they break into a half-hearted, subdued cheer. A little timidly, Eve looks up at Gabrielle. Smiling, Gabrielle puts her hand on Eve's shoulder.

The camera moves to the back of the Amazon crowd away from the light of the torches to show Varia, her face full of bitterness and anger. She huffs quietly and walks away.

CUT TO

Sunrise. Euric, mounted on a gray scruffy-looking horse, is positioned on a hill overlooking Themiscyra. His army is behind him, a small number of horsemen followed by many warriors on foot.

EURIC (grins):
     This is Themiscyra? I expected it to be bigger. Well, this makes our task easier, doesn't it?

Euric looks behind at his warriors, who nod and laugh in agreement. Euric chuckles and starts down the hill, the warriors following.

CUT TO

Gabrielle is in a room, working on a scroll. There is a knock on the door.

GABRIELLE:
     Come in!

An Amazon enters and bows before Gabrielle, then looks up at her.

AMAZON:
     My Queen, the scouts posted on the outskirts of the town have seen an army moving this way. They will be here soon.

Gabrielle puts the scrolls down on a table.

GABRIELLE:
     Thank you, Antiope. Alert the others.

Antiope nods and leaves.

CUT TO

Outside view of a house. Amazons are in preparation for the army's arrival, armed with bows and arrows, swords, staffs and other weapons. Gabrielle comes out of the house and sees Antiope talking to Varia and another Amazon, a beautiful woman about thirty-five years old, with long golden hair and green eyes. Gabrielle walks up to them.

ANTIOPE (to Gabrielle):
     The Amazons are ready, my Queen.

GABRIELLE:
     Good.

Gabrielle glances over at the Amazon standing next to Varia and notices a pendant around her neck, similar to the one that Varia wore when she was queen.

GABRIELLE (a little surprised):
     You're a queen.

VARIA:
     Gabrielle, this is Meroe--yes, Queen Meroe. The only Greek Amazon queen alive today, besides yourself. Meroe, this is Queen Gabrielle.

MEROE:
     An honor to meet you. (wistfully and a little bitterly) It's about time we met; ours are the last two Amazon tribes left in all of Greece.

GABRIELLE (lowers her eyes sadly, then looks back at Varia, Antiope and Meroe):
     Now remember, when this army arrives, we are not going to attack. We will go out and greet them in peace, and do everything we can do avoid a confrontation. We have no idea how powerful they are, and we can't risk losing any more of our sisters.

MEROE:
     You are right.

VARIA (doubtfully):
     In peace? We've spent days preparing to fight.

GABRIELLE:
     Of course we'll fight if we have to. We just have to find out first who they are and what they want. You yourself said they might just be wandering tribes on their way somewhere. (pause) We (gestures toward the women around her) will go out and meet this army, if it is an army, while the rest of the Amazons stay back in the town, ready to fight in case we need reinforcements.

Just as she finishes, Xena and Eve walk up. When Meroe sees Eve, she gets a strange look on her face, as if she can't place where she has seen Eve before. Eve, too, catches a glimpse of Meroe and gets a look of recognition and regret, but she doesn't say a word. Xena notices this and frowns slightly.

EVE (softly):
     I'd like to come with you too.

Varia has an angry look in her eyes again and opens her mouth to protest, but before she has a chance to say anything, Gabrielle shoots her a look, almost a glare, and Varia keeps silent.

XENA (puts a hand on Eve's shoulder):
     Are you sure? It could turn into a battle.

EVE:
     I need to do this, Mother. If I'm going to be an Amazon Princess, I'd better start acting like one.

XENA:
     All right. I'm sure you can take care of yourself.

She and Eve smile at each other.

GABRIELLE:
     Well, we'd better get going, then.

Gabrielle, Eve, Varia, Meroe, Antiope, and Xena start to walk to the town gates.

GIRL'S VOICE (off-camera):
     Mother!

The camera pans back to show a girl, perhaps thirteen or fourteen years old, running toward them. She runs up to Meroe, wraps her arms around the queen for a moment, and then backs away. She bears a striking resemblance to Meroe.

MEROE:
     Klymene, what is it?

Klymene

KLYMENE:
     I want to come with you, Mother. I can help.

Xena and Gabrielle glance at each other, smiling a little. Eve looks away.

MEROE (strokes Klymene's face):
     I'm sorry, but you can't. It could be too dangerous...you're still a child.

KLYMENE (insistent):
     Mother, I'm an Amazon too--I know I can help. (almost pleading) Please?

Meroe shakes her head but finally relents.

MEROE:
     All right. (thinks for a moment) I know just how you can help, too. You can come with us and stay behind when we meet this army, and then if there's any trouble you can run back to the town and get reinforcements, okay?

KLYMENE:
     Okay.

MEROE (smiles):
     That's my girl.

GABRIELLE:
     Come on, Meroe, let's go.

Meroe proudly pats Klymene on the head. Then Varia, Antiope, Xena, Eve, Gabrielle, Meroe, and Klymene head toward the gates. As the camera pulls back, we see that Meroe is walking with a slight limp. Eve sees this too, and there is once again an expression of uncertainty and regret on her face.

CUT TO

The seven women walking through the forest just outside the town, which can still be seen behind them. Through the trees, they can see a clearing and an army of men advancing. We get glimpses of the men's faces. They are grubby and bearded, wearing animal skins, carrying clubs and short swords. Most are on foot.

Xena and Gabrielle glance at each other.

XENA (grimly):
     They are from the northern Barbarian tribes.

GABRIELLE:
     And they don't look very friendly.

The two of them look at Varia, Meroe, Antiope, and Eve, who seem worried as well. Meroe looks at Klymene and kneels down to her.

MEROE:
     Klymene, stay here in the shrubbery so that they don't see you. If things start to look like trouble--run for help.

KLYMENE (nods):
     I will. Good luck, Mother.

Meroe kisses her on the forehead. Then the women all exchange silent looks and start walking toward the army. Klymene follows her mother with a loving look.

CUT TO

Euric watches as the group of Amazons comes near.

EURIC (chortles):
     This must be the welcoming committee.

When the Amazons come close, Gabrielle steps forward.

GABRIELLE:
     We greet you in peace. We hope that you come in peace, too.

EURIC (laughs):
     Peace? (gestures toward his men) Does this look to you like we're here to do some sightseeing?

His men burst out laughing.

GABRIELLE:
     Who are you?

EURIC (haughtily):
     I am Euric of the Ostrogoths. Someday, the whole world will tremble at the sound of my name!

Xena

XENA:
     Especially after the women of this town send you running for your life.

EURIC:
     You think a bunch of women can fight me and my men? That'll be the day.

ANTIOPE:
     We aren't just women.

MEROE:
     We're Amazons.

VARIA (sneers):
     Our only problem with fighting men is that they make it too easy.

CUT TO

Klymene, hidden in the shrubbery, stares intently at Euric, her mother, and the other women, then dashes back toward the town gates.

CUT TO

Euric chuckles again and raises his hand, signaling his men to attack. They rush forward and the Amazons draw their weapons, but then Eve stands in front of the other women, stopping them in their tracks. The Ostrogoth warriors look back at Euric and he raises his hand, stopping them for a moment.

EVE:
     What do you intend to gain by conquering this town? There is no great wealth here. And there are no subjects to rule, because the Amazons (she looks away guiltily for a moment, then continues) would rather die than submit to the rule of a conqueror.

EURIC:
     Those who won't submit will be destroyed. Themiscyra is only my first stop on the way to conquering all Greece.

XENA:
     You're biting off more than you can chew, Euric. Ever heard of the Persians? They tried to conquer Greece, more than once--and do you know what happened to them? Believe me, nothing good.

EURIC (glares at Xena):
     Do these women take orders from you? Are you their leader?

XENA:
     No.

GABRIELLE:
     Meroe and I (points to Meroe) are the reigning queens of these tribes.

EURIC:
     Then you'd better order your people to surrender right now.

GABRIELLE:
     Why? Just because you've ordered your people to attack us for no reason?

EURIC:
     I have a reason...it's not my fault if you don't like it.

He's about to bring down his hand in a signal to attack, but Eve holds her arm in a supplicant gesture.

EVE:
     Please! We don't have to shed any blood here.

EURIC:
     Oh, we don't have to. But we (points to his men with a sweeping gesture) want to. Unless, of course, you'd rather surrender your miserable town now.

With another gesture, he signals to his army to move forward again. Just as the Ostrogoths charge, Xena's ululating battle-cry--A-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi!--pierces the air, making the warriors flinch and stop. Before they can recover from the surprise, Xena leaps in the air, flips and with a powerful kick knocks Euric off his horse. Then she throws her chakram, cutting down several of his horsemen. The Ostrogoths charge again and the women fight them, retreating to the edge of the meadow and using the trees for cover. Eve stands to the side.

Euric gets up and runs toward Gabrielle, sword raised. She quickly draws her sais just in time to deflect his blow, stopping it and pushing him backwards.

EURIC (grins):
     Not bad for a girl.

GABRIELLE:
     Not bad for a fool.

Euric swings again but Gabrielle does a flip worthy of Xena, landing behind him, and kicks him in the back. He quickly turns around and charges her again.

CUT TO

Xena and the Amazons fighting Euric's men. Despite their skills, particularly Xena, they are having a difficult time containing the onslaught of the Ostrogoths, since they are vastly outnumbered.

CUT TO

Eve

Eve watching from the sidelines; her face reflects an internal battle of her own.

CUT TO

Dozens of Amazons running toward the battlefield where the sound of swords and the grunts and cries of the combatants can be heard. Klymene runs behind them. The Amazons rush onto the clearing to help Gabrielle and the others but Klymene stays back.

Scanning the battlefield, Klymene finds Meroe fighting hard against one of the men. It is clear that her bad leg is hampering her movements. Nevertheless, she swings at her attacker and wounds him badly, her sword slashing across his side. He stumbles and starts falling but is able to make one more jab with his sword, piercing Meroe's chest. A horrified Klymene watches her mother fall to the ground.

KLYMENE (screaming):
     Mother!!!

Klymene runs over to her mother as fast as she can. She kneels over her mother, weeping. Meroe, gasping for breath, slowly puts her arm around her daughter.

KLYMENE (crying):
     Mother...don't die. Please don't die. I love you.

Meroe struggles for breath and opens her mouth but can't say anything. Klymene breaks into sobs and hugs her mother tightly. Meroe dies in her arms.

The camera pulls back to show the warrior who killed Meroe getting back to his feet and picking up his sword. He is swaying a little, the wound in his side bleeding, but he can still stand. He looks at Klymene, who is wailing over her dead mother, and his hand clutches the hilt of his sword.

The camera pulls further back for a wide shot, and we see that Eve is watching the warrior who is standing over Klymene, whom no one else seems to notice--everyone is too preoccupied with the battle. Eve's eyes widen with fear. Finally, with the look of someone making a fateful decision, she steps out from behind the tree and runs out into the clearing, picking up the sword of a dead warrior from the ground.

Eve

She charges toward the warrior who is now raising his sword above Klymene. Just as he is about to kill the girl, his eyes bulge as Eve's sword goes through him from the back, the bloody blade coming out of his chest. Klymene is still oblivious, crying over her mother.

Xena, who has just dispatched the man she was fighting, turns and sees Eve, just as the warrior collapses, dead. Eve's face is filled with anguish, and Xena momentarily looks horrified. Meanwhile, Gabrielle, who is still fighting Euric, sees Xena's expression and then follows her gaze to see Eve standing over the dead man as we:

FADE OUT

END OF ACT ONE