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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
First Prize in the 1997 Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum Contest [Television Category]
The Mel Brenner Award for Outstanding Script.
First posted at xenafan: 10/ 1/96
Revision posted: 12/16/96
I Pledge Allegiance
by Sherrie Johnson (a.k.a. TrueBlue)
INT. TAVERN - DAY
Dangerous looking, unwashed men scuffle around the bar. Others talk lewdly and laugh at tales of murder and conquest.
Enter XENA and GABRIELLE. Gabrielle walks in first. Xena follows maneuvering herself between the oblivious Gabrielle and any ruffian who gets too close, staring each of the burly men down.
The women approach the bar and Gabrielle looks around disgusted with the dirty louts in the room.
GABRIELLE: It's the middle of the day? Don't these guys have jobs? Fields to plant? Crops to tend?
Gabrielle puts her elbows on the bar and looks at the food on the tables.
GABRIELLE: Looks like the soup of the day is some kind of chowder.
Xena's eyes narrow as she watches three louts approach. The two larger men step in front of Xena whose back is to the bar. The third LOUT puts his arm around Gabrielle's shoulders.
LOUT: Hey sweetheart, if you're looking for a good time I'd be happy to show you one upstairs.
Xena icily stares at the paw that dangles next to Gabrielle's breast and her lips set into a determined, thin line.
XENA: I bet we could have a really good time right down here.
Xena starts to coil for her attack but Gabrielle raises a hand to her.
GABRIELLE: No. Please. Let me. I think I've watched you do this often enough.
Xena graciously gestures her consent. Gabrielle nods in appreciation and makes a quick, hard strike with her staff into the lout's groin. He descends to the ground with a squeak.
The two louts in front of Xena step up to Gabrielle who pops one, then the other, in the chin with her staff. They drop like rocks and Gabrielle grins nastily.
A smile sneaks across Xena's face. She lazily turns to take a swig of her drink as Gabrielle takes out another lout who has approached to help his friends.
GABRIELLE: (triumphantly to crowd) And if any of the rest of you smelly brutes think you feel like a fight then come on because my friend and I can take on the whole lot of you!
Startled, Xena spits her drink back into her cup and turns to face said brutes who gather like a pack and begin to size the women up.
The BARKEEPER quickly begins to pull bottles and glasses off the bar to stash them to safety.
XENA: I wish you hadn't said that, Gabrielle.
The men attack.
Xena steps in front of Gabrielle and fends off one man with a kick to the stomach. Xena dodges another man who takes a couple of swings at her and she responds with a punch to the face. As that man falls to the floor Xena grabs a barstool and uses it to take out three men as they approach.
Gabrielle stays ducked behind Xena and dodges falling men.
Yet another man lunges at Xena. She dodges him and he lands on the bar. Xena grabs him by his clothes and propels him down the counter.
FARTHER DOWN THE BAR
A DRUNK with his mug on the bar turns for a moment to watch the fight. As he does so Xena's attacker slides across the bar sweeping the mug along. The mug and the attacker fall into a pile at the end of the bar.
The drunk returns his groggy attention to the counter and finds his drink missing. He looks around in confusion.
AT THE FIGHT
More men attack Xena. She laughs in battle lust and the fight continues.
FARTHER DOWN THE BAR
The drunk takes a mug and bottle off of a table. He puts the mug on the bar and pours himself another drink. He turns to put the bottle back on the table and as he does so another man flies down the bar, sweeping the mug along.
The drunk turns back to the bar and again finds his drink missing.
The drunk turns toward the action.
DRUNK: What does a man have to do for a belt around here?
Xena's fist promptly connects with his jaw and the drunk buckles to the floor.
AT THE FIGHT
Xena round house kicks an attacker in the jaw and knocks him to the floor. She is poised, ready for the next attack, but the men left standing back away and the men on the floor start to help each other up and slink away to the far side of the bar.
Xena helps herself to a tray of food and carries it over to a table near a back door.
XENA: (to the men) See. I told ya' we could have some fun.
BY THE BACK DOOR
The two women sit down at the table and start to eat.
AT THE FRONT OF THE TAVERN
A dirty, armored THUG bursts into the building through the main door.
THUG: Barkeep! A drink for everyone on me!
The thug tosses a bag of coins on the bar.
The crowd raggedly cheers and the lout who first accosted Gabrielle, still holding his groin, limps quickly to the bar. He wraps his hand around a mug as the bartender pours in the liquor.
The lout thirstily raises the drink to his lips.
BARKEEPER: (to the thug) What's the occasion?
The lout freezes just as he is about to pour the liquid down his gullet. He gives a sidelong glance in Xena's direction, sets the mug down without drinking any, and quickly slinks away from the bar.
The men in the bar, all completely quiet now, turn and watch as Xena steps out of the shadows and approaches the thug. A couple of men in the crowd mutter "Amazon" as Xena eyes the thug nastily.
END OF TEASER
INT. TAVERN - DAY
The thug, noticing the reaction of the of the other men, begins to quake in his boots, but stiffens up as Xena approaches.
He snatches his money off the bar and draws a knife. Xena smiles nastily. The thug sets his feet, ready for a fight, then suddenly changes his mind, spins and runs to the door.
The thug quickly exits the building and runs into the street.
Xena is immediately after him. She dives
AT THE DOOR
and follows him out.
EXT. STREET - SAME
Xena stops and grabs a rock that rests on the ground. She heaves it at the thug as he shoves a passerby to the ground who has gotten in front of his flight. The rock makes a satisfying, chime-like THONG as it connects with the thug's helmet. He drops to the ground.
Xena quickly strides up to him and hauls him onto his knees by his collar.
THUG: (desperately) The Amazons attacked our campsite! We were defending ourselves!
The thug hesitates for a moment. Xena tightens her grip.
THUG: We...we kidnapped a girl.
Xena throws him on the ground in disgust. Gabrielle runs up to Xena, eyeing the man groveling in the dirt.
XENA: Where was the attack?
He holds his bag of coins out to Xena who ignores it. She eyes the thug coldly.
XENA: The death of an Amazon is never something to celebrate.
She gives the thug a swift kick in the face to punctuate her remark, knocking him out.
EXT. FOREST - DAY
Xena tracks while Gabrielle, holding ARGO's reins, follows.
GABRIELLE: I didn't think it was possible to track an Amazon.
The SNAP of a twig is heard in the forest. Xena startles at the sound. She throws her weapons on the ground before her and clasps her hands over her head in the Amazon greeting. Gabrielle follows suit.
An Amazon, EPINON, descends from the trees. She grasps Xena's forearm in a hearty hand shake.
Epinon nods her head to Gabrielle.
EPINON: Gabrielle, Amazon Princess.
Epinon shakes her head darkly.
XENA: We know about the kidnapping Epinon. We are here to help.
Xena steps away from Epinon and Gabrielle, absorbed in her thoughts. Epinon and Gabrielle follow her with their eyes.
GABRIELLE: They were enemies?
Epinon glances at Gabrielle and then turns to walk away. Gabrielle, looking confused, watches Epinon leave.
EXT. FOREST - DAY
Gabrielle peers out from behind some shrubs as she, Xena and Epinon hide on a hill that overlooks the kidnappers' campsite. Xena points to a tent below. Gabrielle eyes it carefully, nods to Xena, then creeps away.
EXT. KIDNAPPERS' CAMPSITE - DAY
Xena and Epinon charge the campsite. The kidnappers and hired soldiers, a group of about thirty, scramble to mount their defense.
Xena and Epinon battle the men with their swords.
KEIMAI, a powerfully built woman, about ten years older than Xena, dressed in leather and armor and sporting an attitude even cockier than Xena's, exits a tent and draws her sword. She eyes their attackers.
KEIMAI: (to herself) Xena!
Keimai strides purposefully across the field toward Xena who has already easily dispatched several soldiers.
Xena spots Keimai and Xena's gaze hardens.
EXT. TENT - SAME
Gabrielle sneaks behind a soldier who is guarding the tent where the princess is kept.
The soldier watches the battle before him, obviously eager to join but maintaining his post. Gabrielle smites him on the back of the head with her staff and he falls unconscious to the ground. She enters the tent.
INT. TENT - SAME
The fierce battle outside can be heard. Gabrielle enters and spots the PRINCESS sitting in the middle of the tent next to a post.
The princess is a beautiful girl of about seventeen years. Her clothes are fine, her bearing delicate and her eyes reveal a sharp intellect.
GABRIELLE: Princess. I'm here to rescue you!
The princess raises her wrists to reveal the shackles that hold her to the post.
Gabrielle runs over to the post and inspects it and the chains.
GABRIELLE: The problem here is that you are shackled to this post.
The princess begins to thrash and yell in frustration.
GABRIELLE: No, of course you don't have a key. So I'll just have to...to...knock this post right out of the ground!
With that Gabrielle throws all of her weight into the post and yanks on it viciously. She falls on her butt. The post hasn't budged.
A soldier SCREAMS outside. Gabrielle startles at the sound and jumps to her feet.
GABRIELLE: Don't worry. I'll just pick the lock. A friend taught me how to do it. It used to take me hours to pick a lock open but I've gotten much better at it --
Gabrielle startles again, finds a knife by the entry to the tent and returns to the princess to work on the shackles.
EXT. KIDNAPPERS' CAMPSITE - SAME
The battle continues outside.
Keimai charges and Xena attacks. The two engage in a deadly sword fight. Both are obviously experts at the art and are well matched although Xena is slowly being driven back.
Keimai and Xena lock blades and eye each other in blood lust. Keimai begins to push Xena toward the ground but Xena bares her teeth and throws Keimai off. Xena makes several lunges with her blade in quick succession at Keimai but Keimai wards off the blows and backs away.
KEIMAI: You're much stronger and sharper then when we last met. You are a marvelous adversary.
The two engage again.
EPINON battles several other soldiers. She takes them out and moves to attack some more men.
An ARCHER perched in a tree takes aim at Epinon and releases his arrow. The arrow finds its mark in Epinon's flank. She cries out in pain.
XENA spins her head around at the sound to see the injured Epinon, the arrow protruding from her side, fending off a couple of soldiers.
Keimai backs off and three soldiers descend on Xena with their swords.
Epinon collapses to one knee.
More soldiers come running to the scene.
The archer draws back another arrow to finish off his victim.
Xena looks around at the situation in desperation.
END OF ACT ONE
EXT. KIDNAPPERS' CAMPSITE - SAME
Xena slings her chakrum at the archer. The chakrum cleaves the bow in two and knocks the archer from the tree.
Xena drives off the three soldiers and raises her sword to more.
INT. TENT - SAME
Gabrielle struggles with the locks. Xena is heard calling for retreat.
GABRIELLE: (stunned) Retreat? ( listening intently) Can't be.
Again Xena calls retreat and Gabrielle looks at the princess in despair. She turns to leave. The princess lurches against her chains toward Gabrielle.
PRINCESS: No! No! Don't leave me! Please don't leave me! You've got to save me!
The princess bursts into tears and Gabrielle, in agony at the princess' cries, flees the tent.
EXT. CAMPSITE - NIGHT
There is a small fire burning. Argo forages nearby. The injured and sweaty Epinon is sleeping heavily in exhaustion as Xena tends her gently, checking her dressing and placing a hand on her brow.
GABRIELLE: How is she?
Gabrielle strokes Epinon's shoulder. Xena walks over to the campfire, picks up some meat and starts to eat. Gabrielle sits down beside her.
GABRIELLE: Your battle with Keimai didn't go well this afternoon?
The women sit in an uncomfortable silence.
GABRIELLE: I'm sorry I failed you.
The words and their delivery are of little comfort to Gabrielle whose head is bowed in regret.
GABRIELLE: So what's your plan?
Xena's eyes dart quickly to Gabrielle.
Xena is quiet. She takes a sip from a wine skin.
GABRIELLE: Epinon told me.
The two women sit for a moment while Gabrielle draws in the dirt with a stick and Xena eats. Gabrielle is quiet for a little while but is unable to let the subject drop.
GABRIELLE: So how did you meet her?
Xena breathes deeply and suddenly looks very tired. She gazes into the campfire.
XENA: I had organized the townsmen to drive the attackers from our village and was in the process of taking the surrounding towns as a buffer against future attacks. I had been in several battles by then and was full of blood lust but I was unskilled at fighting. Only good fortune or possibly the hand of Ares saw me alive through those first battles. Keimai, who had just been exiled, approached me looking for a job as an advisor. I hired her; the first of my professional army. She taught me the ways of the Amazon. How to fight. How to stratagize. How to track. How to survive.
Silence as Xena and Gabrielle think about that words that have just been spoken.
XENA: Tomorrow morning I will send Epinon home on Argo. I can't help her but the the Amazon healers will know how to treat her infection. Keimai will be hiring reinforcements soon so tomorrow night you and I will sneak into the tent where the princess is held, free her and take her home.
EXT. KIDNAPPERS' CAMPSITE - NIGHT
Xena and Gabrielle are crouched behind some bushes at the edge of the campsite and observe about six soldiers who stand around the campfire warming their hands and chatting.
Just on the rim of the circle of light from the fire stands the soldier who guards the princess' tent. He is within easy earshot and in view of the soldiers at the fire.
Moments pass as the guard stands by the tent when, suddenly, a gauntletted arm sneaks out from the darkness and wraps around the guard's neck. A hand darts over his mouth and he is silently dragged into the black night.
Promptly, Xena then appears beside the tent at the guard's position wearing his helmet and chest armor, standing between the flickering light of the campfire and shadows of the night.
One of the soldiers at the fire turns to glance at the guard, Xena, only to not notice the deception and return to the talk at the fire.
Gabrielle sneaks behind Xena and into the tent.
INT. TENT - SAME
Gabrielle enters the dimly lit tent. The princess, her face hidden by blankets, sleeps on the floor next to the post.
GABRIELLE: (whispering) Princess. Princess!
The princess stirs.
GABRIELLE: I'm sorry I didn't free you last time but I'm back now.
Gabrielle begins to pick at the lock with a knife.
GABRIELLE: I almost had these open last time and I think I've got them figured out now. It's dark but...
To Gabrielle's surprise the shackles slip open.
GABRIELLE: Well, that was easy. It's like they weren't even...
The princess sits up and reveals herself to be not the princess at all but a smiling Keimai in disguise.
Gabrielle takes a breath to scream and Keimai's hands dart out at Gabrielle. She quickly has Gabrielle trapped in her arms with a knife to her throat.
Xena throws open the tent flap and enters to find Gabrielle held by Keimai with the blade to her throat.
Two guards fly into the tent and grab Xena who cannot resist due to the threat on Gabrielle's life.
INT. TENT - LATER
Xena lies tightly bound on the tent floor as Gabrielle sits shackled to the post. Keimai, no longer disguised as the princess and now dressed in her battle leather and armor, lounges on a chair nearby toying with Xena's weapons.
KEIMAI: I'm really disappointed in you Xena. You were my protege. My star pupil. Yet I watched you run from a battle this morning and tonight...*tsk*, *tsk*... you walked right into the trap I had set for you. Were you not listening during my lessons on strategy so many years ago?
KEIMAI: Now here you lie in my tent, at my mercy, until I decide what to do with you. ( a beat) I kind of like that.
Keimai descends from her chair and approaches Xena closely.
KEIMAI: You should have stuck with me.
KEIMAI: Join me. Join me again and maybe I won't kill you.
Fire burns behind Keimai's eyes.
GABRIELLE: (indignantly) Don't you care about your sister Amazons? They are about to go to war because of your actions.
In a sudden rage Keimai lunges at Gabrielle.
KEIMAI: I have no sisters! I was exiled from Amazonia! The Amazons have no allegiance to me and I have none for them!
She stalks away and takes a swig of wine from a cup that sits near her chair.
KEIMAI: I don't care about the Amazons at all.
Keimai eyes Gabrielle icily.
GABRIELLE: I think you do care. How long has it been since your exile and you still go crazy at the mention of it.
Keimai's knuckles whiten as her fist tightens around her goblet. Then her grip eases as she begins to remember.
KEIMAI: You? Are you the one who travels with the Warrior Princess? I've heard tell that Xena travels with a girl...an annoying girl.
Keimai again remembers and turns to Gabrielle.
KEIMAI: The stories tell that the girl is an Amazon Princess. ( Keimai smiles) Is it true little one? The girl who holds Xena's heart? Are you an Amazon Princess to the tribe of Melosa?
Keimai speaks the word "Melosa" as if it leaves a dirty taste in her mouth.
Gabrielle lifts her chin and meets Keimai's gaze squarely.
GABRIELLE: I am.
Keimai draws her sword and her expression turns completely black.
KEIMAI: Well then, let me get you started on your journey.
Keimai lunges with her blade at the bound Xena who steels herself for the fatal strike.
GABRIELLE: Keimai, to you I swear my undying allegiance!
Keimai stops her blade as it is poised over Xena's heart. Keimai turns to look over at Gabrielle.
GABRIELLE: Epinon told me about it. The Amazon Oath of Allegiance.
Xena's eyes widen.
XENA: Gabrielle, don't!
With renewed vigor Xena begins to struggle madly against her bonds.
GABRIELLE: (continuing) I pledge to you my body and spirit. Do with them whatever you will.
Keimai carefully steps before Gabrielle.
KEIMAI: Princess, I am no longer an Amazon. The oath you recite has no bind on me.
Keimai thinks for a moment. Peering deeply into Gabrielle's eyes as Gabrielle returns her gaze stoicly. Keimai smiles, pulls a dagger from her belt and hands the blade to Gabrielle.
Gabrielle takes the knife and with her hands still shackled pulls her shirt away from her left breast where she bravely cuts a deep slash into her own flesh as the ceremony prescribes. Gabrielle grimaces but doesn't hesitate in the deed.
Keimai reaches forth and glides her fingers over the blood that runs freely from the wound. She raises her fingers to paint war marks on her face with the sticky fluid. She turns and smiles at Xena who has stopped struggling and is breathing hard from the exertion.
Keimai approaches the warrior, her face streaked with Gabrielle's blood, and kneels down close to Xena. Keimai speaks very quietly and very intensely to penetrate Xena's grief.
KEIMAI: She's mine now!
END OF ACT TWO
INT. TENT - LATER
Keimai is undoing the bonds that hold Xena.
KEIMAI: We'll have to move fast. These men will be on our trail. I've organized them but they know they won't get paid if they lose the princess.
Keimai cuts the last of the bonds and Xena jerks her wrists free. Keimai reaches into her belt and tosses Xena the key for the shackles. Keimai strides toward the tent entrance.
KEIMAI: I'll get the princess and meet you on the north edge of camp.
Keimai exits the tent. Xena begins to unlock the chains that hold Gabrielle. Gabrielle watches Xena simmer.
GABRIELLE: I had to do it Xena.
Xena throws her hands up in frustration and turns away.
XENA: Of all the stupid things you've done...
Xena turns to look at Gabrielle.
GABRIELLE: A future of slavery was not asking too much in return for your life.
Xena's anger dissipates and a look of tremendous concern comes into her eyes. She puts her hands on Gabrielle's shoulders and grips her tightly.
XENA: Gabrielle, were it only my life that was in jeapordy. There are serious political ramifications of your oath. You are still next in line for Melosa's throne. When Melosa can no longer serve you will take her command, but who will be giving you your commands?
Gabrielle looks at Xena in horror.
INT. ANOTHER TENT - NIGHT
Keimai, wiping the blood from her face with a cloth, enters the tent where the real princess is being held.. Three soldiers stand guard inside the tent as the princess sits on the floor, her hands tied behind her back.
PRINCESS: (to Keimai) Ah, my captor. If you are going to insist on having these soldiers in the tent with me you could at least make them take a bath!
Keimai ignores the princess' remarks. She throws the cloth down and with three quick movements she takes out the unsuspecting guards. The princess is stunned into silence as Keimai hoists the girl to her feet and unties her bonds.
Keimai heads for the tent entrance.
KEIMAI: This way.
The princess quickly and quietly follows.
EXT. FOREST - DAY
Xena, Gabrielle, Keimai and the princess race through the woods in the early dawn light. A commotion from the soldiers is heard behind them.
KEIMAI: (to Gabrielle) Take the princess and head for that ridge. Xena and I will throw the soldiers off our trail.
Xena nods to Gabrielle, indicating her agreement, and Gabrielle runs off with the princess. Keimai and Xena look at each other with challenge in their eyes.
The men shout behind them and Xena and Keimai take off in opposite directions.
EXT. FOREST - DAY
Xena and Keimai meet in a clearing.
XENA: I've got some men headed west.
Xena and Keimai head off into the forest together.
EXT. RIDGE - DAY
Xena and Keimai enter a clearing to find Gabrielle unconscious on the ground and the princess gone.
Xena runs over to Gabrielle, kneels down beside her and pulls Gabrielle into a seated position. Gabrielle groggily comes to.
XENA: What happened!
Gabrielle rubs the back of her head painfully.
Xena desperately begins to search the thicket with her eyes for the princess. Keimai dashes into the forest. Xena starts to get up but throws a worried look at Gabrielle.
GABRIELLE: (waving Xena off) Go! Go!
Xena dashes into the forest behind Keimai.
EXT. FOREST CLEARING - DAY
The thug from the bar drags along the struggling princess, holding his hand over her mouth. Four other kidnappers follow.
THUG: (to the princess) Keep quiet!
Suddenly, the thug yowls as the princess solidly bites his hand. The thug releases the girl and one of the kidnappers lunges at the princess to grab her. She solidly kicks him in the groin and turns to flee as that kidnapper crumples to the ground but a second kidnapper catches the princess and quickly overpowers her. The thug, gripping his injured hand, strides up to the princess and presses a dagger into her throat..
THUG: You'll pay for that...
From out of the forest Xena's chakrum flies into the clearing and knocks the knife from the thug's hand.
Keimai and Xena charge out of the forest. The chakrum returns to Xena and she and Keimai attack the four kidnappers. With kicks and punches the four kidnappers are quickly left subdued on the ground.
The thug, who still holds the princess, draws a knife off of one of his fallen comrades and again presses the blade to the princess' throat.
Keimai stands beside Xena and Xena reaches for the chakrum at her waist.
THUG: Uh, uh, huh.
The thug digs the blade in a little deeper and the princess whimpers. Xena raises her hands away from her weapons. Keimai and Xena separate and slowly begin to circle the thug.
The thug's eyes widen in fear as he attempts to keep both women in view.
THUG: Back off! I'll kill her! I swear I will!
Keimai and Xena continue to slowly circle the thug.
XENA: (menacingly) You kill her and just imagine what I will do to you.
The thug starts to shake visibly.
Xena spins around just in time to catch a blade that has been thrown from the forest at her back. The thug raises his knife to throw at Xena while she is turned away from him and Keimai dives across the clearing to knock Xena to the ground.
The thug's knife sails over Xena and Keimai and the blade disappears into the forest.
The knife makes a STITCH sound as it sinks into an object and a GURGLE is heard in the woods.
Suddenly, the first knife thrower stumbles through the thicket into the clearing, the thug's blade protruding from his chest. He collapses onto the forest floor, dead.
Keimai lunges at the frightened thug and grabs hold of him. The princess runs away.
Keimai draws a knife and sinks the blade into the thug's gut before Xena can stop her. Keimai, holding her victim up as he dies, speaks quietly to him just under Xena's hearing.
KEIMAI: That's for knifing my sister.
The thug, his eyes wide with fear, collapses in death as Keimai releases him.
EXT. FOREST - NIGHT
It is growing dark as the women march through the woods. The princess stumbles along and then plops down on a log.
PRINCESS: I can't take another step.
Xena makes a move to urge the princess along but Gabrielle touches Xena's arm.
GABRIELLE: (to Xena) She not used to this kind of travel.
Xena concedes and scopes out the area where they have stopped.
XENA: We'll make camp here. I'll catch dinner. Gabrielle, get a fire started. Keep the flames low.
Gabrielle nods and starts to head into the forest to get fuel.
Gabrielle stops. Xena and Gabrielle look at Keimai.
KEIMAI: Gabrielle, there is a spring just over those rocks. Go fetch us some fresh water.
Gabrielle looks at Xena, bows her head, and collects the wine skin for water. Gabrielle exits the scene and Xena eyes Keimai dangerously.
EXT. CAMPSITE - NIGHT
Gabrielle and the princess work together at the cooking fire, removing the cooked roots from the coals and cutting the roast animal from the spit.
The food is passed around and Keimai sits down to eat. Gabrielle settles down beside her and reaches for a portion. Keimai's hand darts out to grab Gabrielle's wrist. Pulling Gabrielle close and leaning into her face Keimai glares at Gabrielle.
KEIMAI: Did I tell you you could eat yet?
Xena, who sits across the fire, quickly looks up. The princess watches carefully.
GABRIELLE: I just --
Keimai's grip tightens around Gabrielle's wrist and Gabrielle winces. Xena stiffens. After a moment Gabrielle stops resisting.
In disgust Keimai releases Gabrielle's arm and returns to eating. Gabrielle glances at the meal and then up at the seething Xena. Gabrielle's gaze settles on the ground.
EXT. CAMPSITE - LATER
Gabrielle hungerly pushes food into her mouth as Xena walks past her toward the princess. Xena hands the girl a piece of cloth.
XENA: Cut this into bandages. You can use my dagger --
Xena reaches for her knife but the girl pulls a comb from her hair and begins to use a sharp edge on the object to cut the material.
Xena raises an eyebrow as she looks at the comb in the girl's hand and then steps away.
IN THE SHADOWS
Xena stops for a moment and turns to watch Gabrielle who continues to eat hungrily.
Keimai walks toward Xena and purposefully knocks her shoulder into Xena as she walks past. Xena scowls and tenses at the challenge. Keimai stops and leans closely to Xena's ear.
KEIMAI: (quietly) Say goodbye to your little bard tonight, Xena. After we reach Amazonia tomorrow you will never see her again.
Keimai takes a couple of slow, deliberate steps away from Xena.
KEIMAI: (to the camp) I'll take the first watch.
BY THE FIRE
Gabrielle glances up to see Keimai disappear into the dark forest. She reaches for something at the fire but quickly draws her arm back in pain. She protectively puts her hand over the bandages on her chest.
Xena walks over and kneels beside Gabrielle.
XENA: Let me check that.
By the light of the small camp fire Xena carefully unties the bandages over Gabrielle's breast.
GABRIELLE: I'm scared, Xena.
Xena gently puts the freshly cut dressing on Gabrielle's chest and reties the bandages. She begins to examine the bump on the back of Gabrielle's head.
GABRIELLE: No, I meant, I can't do that. I gave my word, Xena. My word as an Amazon. I can't back out of it.
Xena looks at Gabrielle in surprise, but then composes herself.
XENA: You made a bargin with her. Your freedom if she helps us stop the war. We'll just take the princess away for a while. The Amazons can fight their war and then you will be free.
Gabrielle gets up and walks away from the fire as Xena watches her in stunned silence.
IN THE SHADOWS
Gabrielle walks over to the other side of the camp, sits down on a log, and buries her head in her hands. She then looks up and turns toward where Xena had been sitting.
Gabrielle looks around but Xena is gone.
EXT. FOREST - NIGHT
Keimai finds some high ground and looks around at the dark forest. She senses eyes upon her and spins around.
Xena stands there in the moonlight.
XENA: You're not taking Gabrielle.
Keimai's smile slowly descends as Xena stares at her coldly. Keimai sneers and draws her sword. Xena draws hers.
Keimai attacks. Xena blocks Keimai's sword strike and the two exchange several trusts and parries.
Keimai sheaths her sword and leaps into the trees. Xena follows. Balanced on the limb of a tree the women kick and punch each other.
Keimai knocks Xena down who lands on her back on the limb. Keimai draws a dagger and jumps on top of Xena but Xena grabs Keimai's arms, holding the dagger away, and spins her off.
Keimai and Xena fall out of the tree. Keimai lands on her back on the forest floor with Xena on top of her. The impact of the fall causes Keimai to drop the knife.
With all of her weight on her left hand Xena pins Keimai down by the throat. With her right hand Xena grabs the knife off the forest floor and brings it up to Keimai's cheek.
XENA: Release Gabrielle from her oath!
Suddenly, the strike of a staff knocks Xena's left hand out from under her. Xena rolls onto her back and Gabrielle is on top of her, pinning Xena to the ground by holding her staff across the warrior's throat. Keimai quickly retreats.
GABRIELLE: Stop it, Xena!
Xena is stunned at first but her anger quickly returns. She grabs Gabrielle's staff and flips the smaller woman off.
Gabrielle lands on her back and Xena jumps on top of her. Straddling Gabrielle, Xena holds the end of the staff to Gabrielle's chin. Gabrielle looks up at Xena defiantly.
The two women hold that position for a beat while Xena's rapid breathing slows and she regains her control. Xena draws back the staff and then rises. She extends a hand and helps Gabrielle to her feet.
Xena and Gabrielle stand very close as they eye each other in challenge.
Keimai stands back observing the scene. She wipes a little bit of blood from her lip and examines the red fluid on her fingers. Then she looks up to smile at Gabrielle.
KEIMAI: Looks like your friend is willing to commit murder rather than see you leave with me, Gabrielle.
Gabrielle glances over at Keimai but then returns her scrutiny to Xena. Gabrielle steps even closer to her warrior friend.
GABRIELLE: (angrily) I will honor my Amazon pledge, Xena.
Xena returns Gabrielle's anger with equal intensity.
XENA: Gabrielle, you're not an Amazon.
Rage flares in Gabrielle's face. She wrests her staff from Xena.
GABRIELLE: (dangerously) I'm a true Amazon!
Gabrielle storms away from Xena and picks up Keimai's dagger from the forest floor. Gabrielle strides over to Keimai and, looking at Xena, hands Keimai the dagger.
Gabrielle turns to stalk from the clearing. Xena watches Gabrielle leave and then slowly follows, eyeing Keimai nastily as she passes the mercenary.
EXT. CLIFF - DAY
The four women stand on an outcropping of rock poised over a day lit and very wild valley below.
XENA: There it is Keimai. The land of your birth. Amazonia. Beautiful, isn't it.
Keimai says nothing. Xena points out the thin ribbons of smoke from several distant fires.
XENA: The invading troops are camped just past the river that marks the northern boundary of Amazon land.
Keimai examines the smoke in the distance.
KEIMAI: Those fires are all smoldering.
Keimai points below.
KEIMAI: The valley below is flooded. We'll make faster progress if we backtrack along this ridge and re-enter from the west. ( a beat) The question is: Will we be fast enough?
The four women turn and head down the rock.
EXT. FOREST - DAY
Decorated signs of omen hang in the trees. Each is defiled by several arrows. Keimai steps up to one and examines it closely as the other women enter the area.
KEIMAI: (to Xena) Amazon no trespassing signs pierced by centaur arrows.
Just as Gabrielle finishes speaking the words centaur arrows come flying out of the forest and land at the women's feet. A dozen centaurs appear from out of the forest, weapons drawn.
Xena takes a defensive stance but carefully keeps her hands away from her weapons. Gabrielle looks upon the centaurs in surprise and the princess quickly ducks behind Keimai for safety.
KEIMAI: Xena. Meet the ones who hired me to kidnap the princess.
Xena eyes the centaurs coldly.
END OF ACT THREE
INT. CAVE - DAY
Xena, Gabrielle and Keimai are escorted at sword point into a cage in a large, dark cave. One of the centaurs carries the keys to the cage lock on his belt.
The centaurs begin to throw the princess in the cage as well but CENTAUR #1 stops them.
CENTAUR #1: Don't bother putting her in the cage with those harlots. I've got a buyer coming by shortly to take a look at her. Tie her up and put her over there. (gesturing left) The centaurs tie up the princess as another centaur puts Xena's and Keimai's weapons and Gabrielle's staff in a corner.
The centaurs then gather around a map and discuss the impending battle between the Amazons and their neighbor.
CENTAUR #1: (pointing to map) The king and his men will attack here at the river bank. We'll let the Amazons take them on in the front lines and then we'll follow up with assistance to the rear. We want it to look like we're putting up a good fight but I don't want any centaurs killed.
Centaur #1 turns and trots over to the cage. The other centaurs follow him.
CENTAUR #1: The princess and that one... ( pointing to Gabrielle) will bring a nice price with the slave traders.
The princess starts to cry. The centaur turns toward Keimai.
CENTAUR #1: There are several bounties on your head, Keimai. We should get an even better price for you.
The centaur looks at Xena.
CENTAUR #1: And Xena... ( a beat) Tyldus may have forgiven you for the centaurs you murdered in battle so many years ago...but I haven't. You will be properly executed at dawn for your crimes. ( to the centaurs) Come! The battle begins soon.
Centaur #1 turns to leave the cave as the others follow. The centaur with the cage keys stays behind to guard the prisoners.
With the centaurs gone except for the guard Gabrielle plops down on the cage floor in disappointment. Xena stands and carefully examines the cave while Keimai leans against the bars to look at Gabrielle.
KEIMAI: (to Gabrielle) Looks like our bargain has fallen through. Your sisters will be at war shortly.
Xena jerks the cage bars.
KEIMAI: (to Xena) And getting my revenge against you will be a lot more difficult once you're dead.
Xena eyes Keimai warily.
XENA: What are you talking about?
Rage suddenly appears in Keimai's face and she leans menacingly into Gabrielle.
KEIMAI: (seething) If the Amazons had cut off my hands and gouged out my eyes they would have taken less from me than they did with my exile. I left Amazonia with nothing to live for...nothing to die for. They couldn't have done anything to me that would have been worse!
The centaur watches the argument with interest.
The princess, pretending to cry and watching the guard carefully, knocks the comb out of her hair against the cave wall. The comb lands on the ground by her bound hands and she picks it up.
KEIMAI: It gave me the opportunity. What did I care for my victims? It's easy to pillage towns and slaughter villagers when you've lost the ability to care. ( a beat) Isn't that right, Xena?
Xena eyes Keimai coldly.
XENA: Take it from me, KEIMAI: You will never be happy until you find a reason to start caring again.
As Xena and Keimai stare each other down a SNAP is heard. Xena's eyes dart to the princess and she sees that the girl has cut through one of her ropes with the metal comb.
Keimai, by listening and watching Xena's expression, figures out what is happening, but does not turn to give the princess away to the guard. Her eyes narrow and she glances surreptitiously at the centaur.
KEIMAI: After all the crimes you have committed you're one to tell me what to do.
Keimai gives Xena a good shove. Gabrielle, ducking to get out of the way in the small cage, looks on appalled.
Another SNAP is heard.
XENA: Somebody's got to since you're too stupid to figure it out yourself.
Xena gives Keimai a hard shove back, knocking Keimai into the cage bars.
GABRIELLE: Hey! Quit it you two!
Xena and Keimai grab each other and begin to fight.
At first Gabirelle attempts to intervene but must back off for her own safety.
The guard approaches the cage in interest.
The princess, meanwhile, has freed herself of the ropes. She slinks past the guard whose attention is on the fight and she creeps over to the corner of the cave by the weapons. She grabs Gabrielle's staff.
Xena and Keimai fight more viciously and Gabrielle does her best to keep out of the way of the brawling women. The guard looks on with intense interest and the princess sneaks up behind him.
Then, with a hard swing of the staff, the princess strikes the centaur on the back of the head. He falls onto his forelegs, dizzy but not unconscious. Xena and Keimai immediately stop fighting.
The girl drops the staff and grabs the cage keys affixed to the centaur's belt. She throws the keys to Xena. The centaur groggily stands up and starts to stagger toward the princess.
Xena quickly opens the cage lock. Keimai bounds out of the cage and grabs Gabrielle's staff. The centaur reaches for the princess and grabs her by the shoulders.
Keimai runs up behind him and knocks the centaur out cold.
EXT. CAVE ENTRANCE - DAY
Xena carefully peers out of the cave and checks the area. She exits the cave, sheathing her sword, and gestures to the other women to follow. The women run from the cave.
EXT. FOREST - DAY
Xena, Keimai, Gabrielle and the princess race through the dense forest.
EXT. CLEARING - DAY
The women burst forth from the forest into a large clearing, now a battlefield, and they watch the king's men charge across the river to meet the Amazons.
GABRIELLE: We're too late! The fighting has already started.
Gabrielle nods and raises her staff. Xena and Keimai draw their swords and join the fray.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD - DAY
Xena and Keimai fight their way through the chaos. Two of the kings men lunge at Keimai with their swords. She locks blades with both and throws them off.
Keimai spots an Amazon under the blade of a soldier and quickly arrives at the scene to plunge her blade into the man's back, pulling him off the Amazon as he falls on top of her.
Another Amazon backs into Keimai as the Amazon is driven back by a soldier. Keimai pushes the Amazon to safety and engages the soldier with her sword. She drives him back with two mighty swings of her sword and then sinks the blade into his gut.
She raises her bloody sword over her head, her eyes wild with batle lust, and she calls a charge as several Amazons line up behind her.
KEIMAI: "Amazons, fight!"
The women lunge forward.
The battle flames and the KING fights his way though the Amazons and a few centaurs to stand before Queen MELOSA who also fights fiercely.
KING: (blinded by rage) Give me my daughter!
Melosa does not have time to respond as the king charges her. Enter Xena who drives the king off of Melosa, disarms him and pins him to the ground.
XENA: I have your daughter. Stop the attack and I will return her to you.
Xena gets off the king and he jumps to his feet. He orders his army to stop and his men back off. Melosa orders her Amazons back as well. The centaurs look around in surprise and concern.
The princess pushes her way past Gabrielle and runs into the arms of her father.
KING: My daughter, what have these Amazons done to you?
The king looks confused.
Keimai steps forward. Melosa spots her and lunges at her, holding her sword to Keimai's throat.
MELOSA: Keimai! Traitor! You defile the Amazon land you stand on!
Melosa lowers her sword.
KEIMAI: I was hired to kidnap her...by those centaurs.
Keimai points to the centaurs that stand around Melosa.
The Amazons begin to surround the centaurs. Centaur #1 grabs Melosa and holds his sword to her throat. The centaurs begin to back away with their hostage.
Keimai's eyes narrow. A couple of Amazons approach the centaurs and Centaur #1 raises his blade.
Keimai lets out a blood curdling war whoop. She charges Centaur #1 and throws herself in front of a swing of his sword which was intended to kill Melosa.
Melosa breaks free and the Amazons attack the centaurs. The centaurs are quickly taken prisoner with the help of the king's men.
Keimai falls to the gound bleeding to death.
INT. HUT - DAY
Keimai lies on a cot in the healer's hut at the Amazon village. Gabrielle gently dabs Keimai's forehead with a wet rag as Epinon reclines on a cot nearby.
Xena and Melosa stand against a far wall observing the scene, out of earshot of the other women.
KEIMAI: (weakly) You don't have to do that.
XENA: (quietly) She will not survive to see the sun set. You know that Melosa.
Melosa looks at Xena.
XENA: Her greatest desire was to control the Amazons. Yet her loyalty to them would not allow her to stand by while their queen's life was threatened.
Melosa walks over to Gabrielle and kneels down to speak to Keimai.
MELOSA: You are a brave and powerful warrior, Keimai. A true Amazon despite your crimes. Your courageous act of saving the ruler of Amazonia entitles you to citizenship of this state and I, Melosa, Queen of the Amazons, do hereby grant you the title of Amazon.
Keimai, despite the loss of blood which continues to flow from her wound, brightens and a little and a small spark of life returns to her eyes.
Melosa nods and smiles.
KEIMAI: (smiling weakly) My wonderful Queen Melosa. ( reciting the pledge) I pledge to you Queen Melosa, and the Amazon nation, my eternal allegiance and deny any state or person that has a claim to my loyalty. I will obey your every command for I hold the will of no other before you, not even my own.
Melosa dips her fingers into the blood that saturates Keimai's bandages and begins to paint her face.
KEIMAI: I pledge to the Amazon people my body and spirit until...my...death.
Melosa looks at her sadly. Keimai smiles again and adds...
KEIMAI: And after.
Melosa smiles at her.
MELOSA: Sister, you should think of passing on your right of caste.
Melosa waves Xena over and Xena approaches to kneel beside Keimai.
KEIMAI: Xena. I'm an Amazon.
XENA: I will.
A last breath escapes Keimai and she dies.
EXT. AMAZON VILLAGE - NIGHT
The Amazons light the funeral pyre that will send Keimai to the other side. They perform the traditional funeral rite used to pay tribute to the death of one of their warriors and do not waiver from it.
Xena and Gabrielle watch as the pyre starts to roar with flames. They turn together to walk away.
GABRIELLE: So now we are both Amazons.
Xena smiles at Gabrielle and puts a hand on Gabrielle's shoulder.
XENA: True Amazons.
Gabrielle smiles back.
GABRIELLE: And you've got Keimai's right of caste and all of her belongings. She must have stores of loot somewhere. She was a very successful mercenary.
Gabrielle looks at Xena stunned.
MELOSA: Don't believe her, Gabrielle.
Melosa appears nearby and walks up to Gabrielle and Xena.
MELOSA: Amazons are free women and can never own slaves themselves. Xena knows that.
Xena smiles and shrugs at the queen regarding her little joke.
MELOSA: Allegiance isn't slavery, Gabrielle, or at least, it shouldn't be. Keimai didn't understand that.
Gabrielle laughs. Xena leans close to speak in Gabrielle's ear.
XENA: She's not joking.
Gabrielle promptly stops laughing and eyes Melosa warily, then she turns to look at Xena.
GABRIELLE: (frustratedly) Just when I was starting to feel like your equal in this relationship I become your...your...
Gabrielle gropes for a word.
Xena and Melosa look at each other and Melosa draws a knife. She presents the hilt to Xena who takes it.
Xena looks back to Gabrielle and with a quick movement of her wrist Xena slices her own left breast. The blood begins to flow.
XENA: Gabrielle, to you I pledge my eternal allegiance and deny any state or person that has a claim to my loyalty. I will obey your every command for I hold the will of no other before yours, not even my own.
Gabrielle looks at Melosa in confusion.
MELOSA: Accept her pledge and she will be bound to your will as you are bound to hers. You will be equals again.
Gabrielle looks back to Xena.
MELOSA: Do you also accept Xena's undying loyalty? ( a beat) It is a big responsibility.
Gabrielle pauses for a moment, and then reaches forth to touch the blood that runs from Xena's cut.
XENA: I pledge to you my body and spirit. Do with them whatever you will.
Gabrielle streaks Xena's blood across her face. Xena nods and smiles at Gabrielle.
An Amazon SCREAMS a war cry.
Xena, Gabrielle, and Melosa turn toward the sound and watch as the Amazons begin to make music and dance before the funeral pyre.
MELOSA: Keimai's spirit has been delivered to the goddess Artemis. The celebration has begun.
Xena turns to Gabrielle as Gabrielle watches the Amazons dance.
XENA: Let's party!
Xena and Gabrielle smile at each other and head for the celebration.
END OF ACT FOUR
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