Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are - One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. -Alfred Tennyson, 1809-1892 "Ulysses" from Poems, In Two Volumes (London: Moxon, 1842). Hedda: Defender of Olympus "And Not to Yield"

a.k.a "The Pilot"

Teaser

FADE IN

A Road in Greece. It is early summer, just over two months after the events of "A Friend in Need II", and Gabrielle walks purposefully along the road, a bag on her arm and Xena's urn held firmly against her chest. She speaks to the urn.

Gabrielle:

It's so beautiful, Xena! With all our recent traveling, I'd forgotten how beautiful Greece is this time of year. The grass smells (taking a deep breath) intoxicating. The sun is so bright, but it's not all humid and muggy yet. It's just right, just perfect. (reminiscing) I remember how you used to say that one of these days Argo was going to gorge herself on fresh grass to the point where you'd have to get a second war-horse just for the growing season! (she laughs heartily, then her face falls and tears threaten to spill) Oh Xena! You should be here to see all this! It's so perfect. You should be here. (angry now) You should be here, damn it! But no, you had to put those 40,000 souls ahead of your own! Xena, you didn't deserve this! You didn't kill all those people, no matter what Akemi said! People die in accidental fires all the time! Yes, you were evil back then, but you weren't responsible for every death that took place all over the world during those years! This wasn't your fault! Damn it, you should be here right now!

Gabrielle falls back onto the ground and sits, sobbing uncontrollably, for several moments. Eventually, her tears begin to subside, and she quietly studies the urn sitting in front of her.

Gabrielle:

(more accepting) But you couldn't be here now, could you? You knew that right or wrong those souls had to be set free, so you gave up your own happiness, your own life, to save them. You knew you didn't deserve to die, but you had to if they were ever going to get the chance to move on. (tenderly, while caressing the urn) Just like in life, you're looking out for those who can't look out for themselves, aren't you?

A familiar flash of blue light reflects off Gabrielle's face, and she sighs, but says nothing.

Ares:

I'm sure you'd like to think of it all that way, but we both know, even at the end, Xena wasn't all sweetness and light. (eulogizing in his own way) There were always certain things, certain people, she would do anything for, that would make her fight like Tartarus and send as many souls to that infernal damnation as she possibly could! By the Gods, she was brilliant! (smugly, but with evident bitterness) You tried your best, but you could never change that, and you can't take that away from me now.

Gabrielle:

(tiredly) Ares, what do you want?

Ares is about to answer with a cutting remark, but stops short. He considers his reply before tentatively speaking once more.

Ares:

This won't last forever, you know? You will be together again someday, your whole lives, and then again and again, as you live each new life. That is how it is for you mortals.

Gabrielle looks at Ares, surprised at first, then suspiciously.

Gabrielle:

Why are you trying to comfort me, Ares? What's in it for you?

Ares:

(uncomfortably) Look, I wanted to say…

Before Ares can answer, Gabrielle's attention is drawn by a mild tremor beneath her boots. Ares feels it too and turns around. Ten Soldiers on horseback come riding over a ridge, pursued by a young, raven haired, and as yet unidentified, Warrior Woman, HEDDA. As the Ten Soldiers draw closer, a familiar war cry rings through the haze of midmorning. Hedda flips gracefully off a powerful mare and fights the Ten Soldiers, dispatching them one by one with her sword, as if they were moving with lead in their boots. Through all this, Gabrielle stands transfixed, her heart beating wildly, her arms crushing the urn against her chest. The graceful movements, the war cry, the feral expression on this woman's face; they all reminded her (and us) of Xena. But Xena is dead, and yet there is something so reminiscent about her in this girl that it holds the seasoned warrior, Gabrielle, transfixed.

Ares:

Damn her! I told her to remain at the temple! She's as defiant as her mother!

Gabrielle:

Ares, who…

Not giving Gabrielle the time to finish her question, Ares quickly gathers her up so that she is unable to move. As they flash out of sight, we hear a p*ssed off Gabrielle scream in anger.

Gabrielle:

ARES!

FADE OUT

It was supposed to have been a Golden Age…

Humanity had cast off its god-wrought shackles

And mankind was no longer beholden to Fate;

But in our newfound freedom we forgot one thing…

Absolute Power Corrupts ABSOLUTELY!

Now one woman stands at the crossroads of history.

She is Hedda:

The Daughter of War himself and the greatest mortal warrior of all time.

She will save us from the forces of Hell.

She will save us from the forces of Heaven.

And though historians may claim that she failed…

We are still here!

END OF TEASER

READ ACT ONE