7.22 Sisterhood


ACT TWO

FADE IN

A close-up of Gabrielle's face as she watches Xena walk over to Eve. A moment's distraction is enough for Euric to attack. Recovering her focus, Gabrielle quickly turns, and the sword aimed at her abdomen stabs her in the hip instead. With a cry of pain, Gabrielle falls to the ground. Euric slashes at her again; she manages to dodge the blow but the blade slashes her left arm.

Xena rushes over toward Gabrielle, her face anguished, and gives Euric a powerful kick in the stomach that sends him flying through the air and then landing on his back, with a thud and a groan. Meanwhile, Xena kneels next to Gabrielle.

XENA:
     Gabrielle...

GABRIELLE (tries to smile bravely but winces with pain):
     I'll be all right. You should worry about Euric...you can think about me later.

Xena starts inspecting her wound. Meanwhile, the camera pans over to Euric, who is getting up, a little shaken. He sees that the Amazons are beating his men, many of whom are unconscious, wounded, or dead on the ground. The look on his face is a mix of rage and fury. He whistles and as his horse runs up to him, he jumps in the saddle.

EURIC (yells):
     Retreat! (the Ostrogoth warriors start retreating back into the woods on the other side of the clearing. Euric looks at Xena and snarls) This isn't over.

XENA (lip curled in a sneer):
     That's what they all say.

Once Euric and his men are gone, a cheer goes up in the ranks of the Amazons. As it dies down, a cry is heard.

AMAZON:
     Queen Meroe! Queen Meroe is dead!

There are gasps and cries of "No, no!" The camera pans over to show Eve consoling Klymene, who is still clinging to her mother's body, sobbing.

ANTIOPE (approaches Xena and Gabrielle):
     Queen Gabrielle--you're hurt!

XENA (looks up at her):
     It's deeper than I thought. We have to get it treated right away.

Antiope and Varia carefully lift Gabrielle and carry her toward the town. Xena goes over to Eve and Klymene.

XENA (gently):
     Klymene...we have to take your mother's body back to town so she can have a proper funeral.

KLYMENE (screams):
     She's not dead, she's not dead!

XENA:
     Klymene...she will always love you. That doesn't change just because she died.

She nods to Eve, who gently takes Klymene by the shoulders and leads her aside. Two Amazons from Meroe's tribe pick up the body and carry it.

CUT TO

Inside the same house where we saw Gabrielle before. Gabrielle is lying on a cot. Antiope is tending to the wound in her side, rubbing an ointment into it and then applying a bandage. Gabrielle's arm is bandaged as well. Xena and Eve are standing by the bed, with Varia and several other Amazons standing a short distance away and a listless-looking Klymene sitting on a chair, lost in her sorrow.

ANTIOPE:
     You should be fine in a week or so--those wounds aren't too severe. But if you are to recover, Gabrielle, you can't fight right now.

AMAZON #1:
     Then who will lead us into battle when they come back?

GABRIELLE:
     Myopi...if I can't lead the Amazons, then an Amazon Princess will have to do it.

She turns to Eve, who looks shocked.

EVE:
     Me?

GABRIELLE:
     Yes, Eve. You have to take charge of this tribe while I am recovering.

VARIA:
     Eve?! No. (shouts) No! It was bad enough to have her join the Amazon nation, but to have her lead us...I will not take orders from her!

MYOPI:
     Varia's right. Too many of our sisters died because of her. We can't have her leading us--not even for a few days.

Words of agreement come from all the Amazons. Antiope looks down silently. Eve struggles to maintain her self-control, while Xena's face is expressionless.

GABRIELLE:
     Listen to me. The people have agreed to accept Eve as an Amazon princess. Then treat her as one; with the respect she is due.

VARIA (glares at Eve):
     I did not agree to accept her as an Amazon princess. I will never forget that she was Livia of Rome!

A close-up of Klymene's face. At the mention of Livia, her melancholy expression suddenly changes to a shocked, terrified, and finally angry one. She leaps to her feet and runs out. Xena follows Klymene with her eyes and then turns back to the other Amazons.

Gabrielle

GABRIELLE:
     Varia, you know why you no longer have the authority in this tribe. I am the Queen, and it is up to me to name my replacement. We could take it to the council, of course...but is that how you want to spend precious time that we don't have, when Euric and his army could attack again at any moment?

The Amazons exchange hesitant looks. Varia is scowling.

MYOPI (uncertain):
     You're right, Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE:
     Eve has the skill and the mind of a great warrior. Once, when she had lost her true path, she used those skills against the Amazons. Maybe now, she can make amends by using them to help her people.

Eve bows her head in silence.

AMAZON #2:
     It's difficult for many of us to accept, Queen Gabrielle. But we won't disrespect you. If you believe it's for the best, we will follow Eve.

Varia shakes her head and storms out. Gabrielle looks after her, worried, then turns to the other Amazons.

GABRIELLE:
     You can leave now--Xena and Eve can look after me. Thank you, Antiope.

ANTIOPE:
     My Queen.

She takes a bow and leaves, followed by Myopi and the other Amazons. Xena sits down on the edge of the bed and takes Gabrielle's hand, stroking it gently.

EVE (takes a deep breath):
     I'm not so sure about this... Do you really believe that this is what I should be doing--leading the Amazons...fighting again? I killed today to save that girl's life. I didn't have much time to think about it--I just saw that the man was about to kill her, and I acted out of instinct.

XENA:
     Eve, remember--I told you that you'd know when the time was right for you to fight again.

EVE:
     Go out there and kill again... Can I ever allow myself to hold a sword again, knowing all the evil I did as a warrior?

XENA (after a pause):
     Eve, when I first decided to change my life and atone for the things I had done, I was going to bury my armor and my weapons--give up fighting forever. Then I realized that people needed me...people who would be killed or enslaved unless I helped them, unless I used my skills as a warrior. I couldn't stand by and let it happen. So I went back to fighting for them, fighting for justice--against people who were...everything that I had been. That was the path I chose, and it's not an easy one. I don't know if it's your path as well. That's for you to decide.

EVE (nods slowly):
     The Amazons need me right now...helping them is more important than preserving my peace of mind. I think this is the right time.

Xena and Gabrielle exchange a proud but anxious look; then, Xena gets up.

XENA:
     I have to go out and take care of...something else. I'll be back soon.

Xena walks out.

EVE (sits down on the edge of the bed):
     Do you really think Varia will accept my leadership?

GABRIELLE:
     She'd better. She's an Amazon, Eve, and an Amazon must obey the will of her tribe--even one as stubborn as Varia. Besides, maybe now she will see you for who you really are.

Eve nods, not very hopefully.

CUT TO

A square at dusk. Some Amazons are building a funeral pyre while Klymene stands watching them, tears rolling down her cheeks. Xena comes up behind her and stands still for a few moments, then puts a hand on the girl's shoulder. Klymene turns and looks at Xena, her eyes full of anguish.

KLYEMENE (quietly):
     All that's left of my mother will be consumed on that pyre...

XENA (kneels down and takes the girl's hands, looking into her eyes):
     Not all, Klymene. Her spirit, her deeds...that's always going to stay with you, as a part of you. Her legacy as an Amazon Queen...that will live on as long as there is an Amazon nation.

Klymene nods, tears filling her eyes again, squeezing Xena's hands.

XENA:
     Klymene, why did you run away before? I saw how you looked when Varia mentioned Livia...

Klymene flinches, and her face grows harsh and bitter.

KLYMENE:
     Livia...I guess she calls herself Eve now, right? And that makes everything all right? Well, she's the reason my mother died!

XENA (shocked):
     What? Eve didn't kill your mother--one of Euric's men did! And he would have killed you, too, if Eve hadn't been there!

KLYMENE (crying again):
     Well, if Livia hadn't been there, that man would have never defeated my mother!

XENA:
     What do you mean?

KLYMENE (passionate):
     Mother led the united Amazon Nations against the Romans a few years back, when Livia attacked us. I was just a child then, but I remember it well. My mother defeated Livia in a battle that lasted five days straight. She was one of the best fighters the Amazons had ever known. Then, after the Roman army retreated and the tribes went home, Livia came back with reinforcements and attacked again, taking them by surprise. That's when she destroyed most of them. Once again, Mother led the Amazons into battle...

[FLASHBACK]

An army of Amazons are lined up on top of a hill. They look tired, many seem to have recent wounds--they still have bandages on their arms and legs. They are led by Queen Meroe, riding a beautiful black horse.

Roman soldiers are lined up across the field at the bottom of the hill; they look much better prepared than the Amazons. Livia is at the front of the line atop a white horse, a look of excitement and arrogant triumph on her face.

MEROE (screams as she lowers her sword):
     For the Amazon Nation!!!

The Amazons charge down the hill, Meroe leading them. Livia smirks and raises her sword. She turns to one of her commanders.

LIVIA:
     I don't want to see an Amazon left standing after we're done.

OFFICER:
     Yes, Livia. (salutes)

LIVIA (brings down her sword):
     For the glory of Rome!

The Romans charge forward, Livia is leading them. The two armies clash and start the battle.

Both Meroe and Livia race all over the battlefield dishing out destruction, slashing and cutting down the enemy left, right and center. Finally, Livia catches eye of Meroe in the middle of the battlefield just as she slashes the neck of a Roman soldier, nearly severing his head.

LIVIA:
     Queen Meroe!

Meroe turns to see her enemy in the midst of all this chaos, a gleeful smirk on her face.

MEROE:
     Livia, Champion of Rome. It's about time we met again.

She charges at Livia and their swords clash. They fight on horseback; then, a fierce collision knocks them both out of the saddle. They leap to their feet and clash again in a dazzling dance of kicks, spins, and sword thrusts. Livia is gaining the upper hand; she knocks Meroe's sword out of her hand and kicks her, knocking her down. She stands over her, smirking.

LIVIA:
     So you're the best the Amazons have to offer. No wonder you're an endangered species.

With a powerful kick, Meroe knocks Livia's sword; then she scrambles to her feet and executes a high jump, kicking Livia in the head. Livia staggers.

MEROE:
     A hint for you, Livia-- (slams Livia's head into her knee) never underestimate (kicks Livia in the stomach) an Amazon Queen. (throws Livia to the ground)

She picks up her sword and prepares to run Livia through but Livia kicks out her feet from under her and knocks her down, then scrambles to her feet and kicks the sword out of her hand.

LIVIA:
     And a hint for you, Amazon... (Meroe starts to rise but Livia kicks her in the face, knocking her down again) Never (kicks Meroe for emphasis) start something (kicks her again) you're not going to finish.

Meroe staggers up; this time Livia kicks her in the knee and Meroe falls, her face distorted in pain.

Livia

Livia picks up her sword and is about to stab the Amazon Queen, who lies on the ground moaning. Just then, she is rushed by several Amazons who force her to retreat.

AMAZON:
     Queen!

The Amazons help up Meroe but as soon as she tries to stand, she collapses with a groan. Two Amazons help her rise to her feet; she gets her arms around their shoulders, one foot trailing uselessly. One of the Amazons brings over Meroe's horse and helps Meroe get in the saddle. She winces with pain.

[END OF FLASHBACK]

KLYMENE:
     Even injured, my mother was able to inspire the Amazons, and they drove off Livia and the Romans. But Mother was never the same after that. Her broken knee never healed completely. (she looks Xena directly in the eye, bitterly) So yes, Xena, it is Eve's fault that my mother died today. I know she was ten times the fighter that man was! If she hadn't been injured then, she'd still be alive.

XENA:
     I'm sorry, Klymene... (she strokes the girl's hair) Just remember, Eve isn't the same person as Livia...

KLYMENE (angrily):
     She looks the same. She has the same body. She remembers everything Livia did. How is she not the same person?

XENA:
     Yes, she remembers everything Livia did. And she'll spend the rest of her life trying to make amends for it. She saved your life today.

KLYMENE:
     That doesn't make up for what she did to my mother.

XENA:
     No. But it's a start.

Xena stands up and walks away, leaving Klymene in thought.

CUT TO

Inside the house, Eve has just finished putting on an Amazon outfit very similar to the one that Gabrielle wore in "The Quest." Just as she straps a traditional Amazon sword to her back, Xena walks in and smiles when she sees Eve.

XENA:
     See, you already look like an Amazon.

EVE (smiles sadly):
     I'm not sure Varia will be convinced. (after a pause, almost in a whisper) I'm not sure I'm convinced...maybe I'm just dressing the part.

XENA:
     You'll be fine. Just trust yourself. (Eve nods; pause) Eve--you met Meroe in the past, didn't you?

Eve looks at Xena with regret, reliving a painful memory.

EVE (quietly):
     Yes.

XENA:
     Klymene told me what happened...she blames you for her mother's death.

EVE (saddened):
     With good reason. Meroe was such a great warrior...and she was crippled when I broke her knee. (looks down) It's strange--every time I think I've left the past behind me, something brings it back to haunt me. (she looks up at Xena, tears welling in her eyes. There is bitterness in her voice) I shouldn't have come here.

Xena

XENA:
     Eve, Eve... (puts an arm around Eve) I know what it's like to try to get away from your past and have it come after you. What I've learned is that I can't run away from it, and neither can you. We can only try to live it down. It's part of who we are now...and perhaps in some way, we're better for it. (wipes away Eve's tears) You should talk to Klymene, Eve. I tried, but I think it would be better if it came from you. (Eve nods) Good. I'm glad you're going to lead the Amazons against Euric, Eve. It will help them see who you truly are now. (pats her on the shoulder) Are you okay?

EVE (smiles through tears):
     Yes.

XENA:
     That's my girl. Come on, they're about to light Meroe's funeral pyre. We should be there.

CUT TO

The square. It is night now, but it is almost as bright as daylight because of the torches held by the Amazons. Meroe's body lies on top of the still-unlit funeral pyre. The Amazons stand in a circle. The tearful Klymene is in the front row of the circle; so is Eve, at some distance from her. Xena stands further behind. Myopi approaches Eve and hands her a torch.

MYOPI (in an expressionless tone):
     As our princess and our leader, you should light the Queen's funeral pyre.

Eve glances at Klymene, who flinches visibly and lowers her eyes. Eve takes the torch and hesitates for a moment, then walks over to Klymene.

EVE (hands the torch to Klymene):
     Do you want to light it, Klymene?

Klymene gives her a long stare, then nods and takes the torch. She goes over to the pyre and lights it. As the flames shoot up, engulfing the body, the mournful lone voice of an Amazon picks up the funeral dirge.

KLYMENE (whispers):
     Good-bye, Mother.

A close-up on Eve's face as she gazes sadly on the funeral pyre and on the weeping Klymene.

CUT TO

A dimly lit room. Varia, Antiope, and Myopi are sitting in a circle on mats on the floor.

VARIA:
     I'm telling you, we can't let that bitch lead us. (off the other Amazons' unhappy expressions, angrily) Why should we follow her?!

MYOPI:
     Because she is a Princess of the Amazons...and we have to respect that, no matter how we feel about it.

VARIA:
     But she killed thousands of our sisters! It was because of her that the Amazons of Greece are a pitiful remnant of the nation they once were. (pause) I say we get Eve out of the way so that I can lead the Amazons until Gabrielle is well.

ANTIOPE (uncertainly):
     You?

VARIA:
     Yes, me. I was Marga's second in command. I deserve that title. I lost it because I made a mistake--but was my offense really more unforgivable than hers?

MYOPI (after a pause):
     So how exactly do you plan to get Eve out of the way?

VARIA:
     I know where she's sleeping. We go in, knock her out so she doesn't wake up, tie her up and take her out of the town. There's a secret passage through the wall--we can get past the sentries that way. I know the surrounding woods pretty well; there's a cave, not half an hour's walk from the city walls, where no one will ever find her.

MYOPI (shocked):
     You mean to let her die in that cave?

Varia

VARIA:
     Don't forget that she was sentenced to death by our people. I pardoned her. Now I'm taking it back. I pardoned Eve, the Messenger of Peace--not Eve, the interloper who set herself up as the princess of a nation she has slaughtered.

ANTIOPE:
     And what do you plan to do about Xena? You think maybe she won't notice that her daughter's missing? This is insane.

VARIA (slyly):
     No, it's perfect. You see, Xena will believe, along with everyone else, that her daughter has been taken by the barbarians.

MYOPI (puzzled):
     Why would she believe that?

VARIA (triumphantly):
     Because of this. (she lifts something in her hand--it's a Ostrogoth's necklace, made out of animal fangs) I took this off one of the dead men out there. We drop it by Eve's bed--that should be enough of a clue. (silence) Well?

ANTIOPE:
     Varia, she's one of our sisters now... If we do this--how are we different from Livia?

VARIA (passionately):
     This is about justice for our sisters! (looking at Antiope) Including your real sister. (Antiope looks at her sadly) Remember what happened to her?

Antiope blinks, remembering the past.

[FLASHBACK]

Livia, in her Roman general's outfit, is atop a horse, a gleeful smirk on her face.

LIVIA:
     Let this be an example to anyone else who wants to resist me.

Pan over to a young woman in an Amazon outfit who struggles on the ground, her hands tied to the saddle of Livia's horse. Then the camera pulls back for a wide shot of a devastated Amazon village. Huts are burning, dead bodies of Amazons (and some Roman soldiers) are strewn all over the ground; other Amazons are tied up with the Romans guarding them at the point of their spears.

Livia jerks the reigns on the horse and screams at the top of her lungs, galloping off with the young Amazon being dragged behind. The camera follows Livia for a few moments and then moves over to the bodies on the ground. Zoom in on the face of one of the women. It is Antiope, who is only wounded. She lies still, her eyes open and filled with tears.

[END OF FLASHBACK]

ANTIOPE (angrily, her eyes brimming with tears):
     All right...let's do it.

VARIA:
     Good. I knew I'd get you to see it my way. (looks expectantly at Myopi)

MYOPI (takes a deep breath):
     I can't do it, Varia. I'm not going to betray a sister.

VARIA (angrily):
     Then I expect you'll betray me and go and tell Eve (contemptuously stresses the word) all about it.

MYOPI (shakes her head, almost regretfully):
     I won't help you...but I won't stand in your way, either. It's your choice.

VARIA:
     My choice is made.

A close-up on Varia's face as we:

FADE OUT

END OF ACT TWO