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INT. TEMPLE OF THE VIRTUES - NIGHT
Janos paces in agitation the length and breadth of the temple. His face is brick red and the muscles in his jaws bunch and jump as he clenches his teeth almost to cracking.
Gabrielle continues to stand at Xena’s side, tears slowly drying on her cheeks. She summons up a slight smirk as she watches Janos pace.
Things not going quite
the way you planned?
Janos turns to her, teeth bared in a snarl.
This isn’t over yet.
Just say the word and it will be, Janos.
We both know who’s running the
show here, and it isn’t the Virtues.
It’s too late for that, Gabrielle.
Much, much too late.
With a bit of a smile that is totally absent from his eyes, Janos stops his pacing and heads in the direction of the table where Xena lies. Gabrielle stiffens and immediately places her body between the table and Janos.
Janos. What are—
Step aside, Gabrielle.
I’ve no desire to hurt you.
That’s not what I’m afraid of.
Janos’ smile turns into a snarl as he lurches forward, removing a glittering knife from within the folds of his robe and slashing it through the air.
With an easy step forward, Gabrielle kicks the knife out of his hand, then follows the kick with a hard shove that sends Janos pinwheeling back the way he came. The knife arcs gracefully through the air, spinning until it lands, with a clatter, on the floor.
Back off, Janos. Now.
I’m sorry, Gabrielle. I really am.
If you’re really sorry, then
stop what you’re doing.
I can’t, Gabrielle. I wish I could.
Darting to the left, Janos retrieves his knife. Straightening, he fires the knife toward Gabrielle and slightly to her right. As Gabrielle reaches up to bat the knife away, Janos leaps for the table, magically producing a second knife from his robe.
Realizing she’s very out of position, Gabrielle does the only thing she can. Spinning, she throws her body on top of Xena’s, protecting her vulnerable soulmate as best she can.
His knife held high over his head, Janos begins the deadly plunge when he is frozen. A blinding white light shimmers around his body for a long moment before fully enveloping him.
When the light disappears, so does Janos.
A second later, a similar light surrounds Xena, and, with a soft ‘pop’, she too disappears.
Without Xena’s body to support her, Gabrielle falls to the table with a soft ‘oof!’. Quickly, she gathers herself, and stands, spinning to face the still-silent priest.
Bring her back!
Bring her back now!!
The priest shakes his cowled head slowly.
Gabrielle steps forward and grabs the thick woolen folds of his robe, pulling him toward her.
Did you hear me?
Bring her back!!
INT. XENA’S DREAMSCAPE - UNKNOWN VOID
Xena finds herself within a formless VOID. All around her, in panoramic view, she can see the last few moments of the ‘fight’ between Janos and Gabrielle. Gritting her teeth in anger, Xena thrusts out her hand, as if to stop the downward plunge of Janos’ knife into Gabrielle’s exposed back.
The scene before her ripples and waves, as if she’d touched a still pool of water.
A second later, Janos appears before her. His knife continues its downward path even as he stumbles into the void.
Xena grabs his wrist and twists it hard. Janos screams and drops to his knees, holding his wounded wrist as the knife again goes spinning away.
Xena stands towering above him, muscles tensed, face florid with rage.
You miserable bastard. You couldn’t
accept that your little trick wasn’t working
and decided to take the easy route, hmm?
Before Janos can reply, a flash of light flares through the void in which they are both trapped. From the light, a towering figure emerges, dressed in blinding white robes and carrying a sword in one hand, a scroll in the other.
Janos sags fully to the floor, head bowed.
Justice. Finally, you’ve come.
I have come, Janos.
But not for the reason you suspect.
Janos looks up, confusion plain in his eyes.
Then…then why are we here?
That is a question I should
be asking you, Janos.
Janos continues to look confused.
You have used the powers we have
granted you, and invoked us, to what end?
I see no justice in a sham trial, Janos.
Your own agenda is at work here, an
agenda which does not personify
Justice, but rather its opposite, Treachery.
She murdered my family! My friends!
Everyone I loved! I have the
right to demand justice!!
forgive the false pretenses of this trial, Janos,
Xena passed every test you set up for her.
Explain to me, then, where justice lies in
attempting to take her life as she lies
defenseless under a spell of your own making.
It’s no more than she deserves. No more
than what she did to thousands of others.
And do you call what she did ‘justice’?
Nor is it now.
Justice reaches out a long, tapered hand.
Trembling and suddenly pale, Janos comes slowly to his feet. His eyes dart wildly about the void as if seeking an impossible escape.
Janos of Virtua, you have manipulated the
Virtues to your own ends for your own pleasure.
You have also desired harm to come to a
defenseless woman. How do you plead?
Janos looks down at the floor. His shoulders shake, as if fighting tears…or giving in to them.
Don’t you understand?? I did it for
them, not for myself! For those who
couldn’t seek justice on their own!!
How do you plead?
So it is; so it shall be.
Justice raises both arms and waves them with snake-like fluidity. Xena starts as a brilliant light flashes between her own hands, materializing into a shining sword, easily twice as long as her own. She looks at the Virtue, a question in her eyes.
Xena, as the wronged party,
it is your right, and your duty,
to see justice done.
Justice gestures to Janos with a wide sweep of her hand, then steps back, out of the way.
Xena hefts the blade easily, eyeing the shimmering brilliance of the edge before turning to Justice.
You want me to what…
Lop his head off while
he’s just standing there?
It is the just penalty for the
crimes he has committed.
He has admitted his guilt.
Justice needs to be done.
Sorry, but if that’s your idea of
justice, then you’ll just have
to do your own dirty work.
Xena tosses the sword onto the ground, where it shatters into a million fragments of light and disappears.
Xena looks up at the towering Virtue, completely unperturbed.
I don’t slaughter defenseless men.
You looked ready to do just
that a very short time ago.
No, I wouldn’t have killed him.
She turns, pinning Janos with a very significant look.
Just made him wish I would.
And there is a difference?
A minor one, but yes, there is.
Xena shifts slightly, and her eyes soften.
There was a time, not so very long ago,
when I stood where Janos stands now.
My family…my brother…was dead at the
hands of a madman and I became what I
thought was the instrument of justice,
wanting nothing more than to avenge his death.
She turns to face Janos directly.
But the only thing vengeance does is make you
thirst for more. It’s not enough, Janos. It’s never
enough. I became what I hated most. The same
as the man who had killed my brother for sport.
You’re nothing like me.
No, I was much worse than you’ll ever be.
Janos blanches, then nods, accepting the truth of her words.
But then I came against someone
stronger than I was. And he held a
sword of retribution at my throat.
I would have welcomed it. Justice
would have been done, and the
world would have celebrated the feat.
Janos looks up, intrigued despite himself.
He went against what justice demanded
and gave me a second chance.
Janos’ eyes widen.
He spared my life, and in the years
since, I’ve tried my best to atone
for my past misdeeds.
I haven’t always been as successful
as I’ve liked, but I’ve come to learn
a great many things about myself,
and about the world around me.
I’ve learned is that to embrace the future,
we must let go of the past. It will do
nothing but drag us down with it if it can.
Janos sighs and lowers his head.
Justice isn’t served by your death, Janos.
Justice is served by mercy, by granting
you another chance to embrace your futur
instead of being imprisoned by your past.
you did to my family, Xena.
I’m not asking for your forgiveness,
Janos. That’s something you’ll
either find, or not, within yourself.
Janos shakes his head slowly.
Xena turns to the Virtue.
I won’t do what you ask of me, Justice.
If that means I’ve failed your test, so be it.
Justice smiles and the sword reforms and materializes in her hand.
On the contrary, Xena. You have
shown the true meaning of Justice.
You truly are a virtuous woman.
Justice lifts her hands to the sky.
It is done!
INT. TEMPLE OF THE VIRTUES - EVENING
Xena reappears in the temple and awakens immediately. She rolls from the table and onto her feet just in time to catch Gabrielle, who has launched herself into her arms. The two embrace tightly for a long moment until a soft popping sound signals the return of Janos.
Gabrielle stiffens and pulls out of Xena’s comforting hug.
You son of a ....
Xena gently grasps Gabrielle’s arm and keeps her from moving forward. It’s obvious Gabrielle hasn’t been privy to the latest events.
Let me go, Xena. He....
It’s all right, Gabrielle.
It’s…taken care of.
Gabrielle turns to Xena.
Taken care of? How?
In answer, the hooded priest steps forward and removes his cowl. He is startlingly, almost inhumanly, handsome, and the youthful features of his rugged face contrast sharply with the ancient wisdom shining from his eyes.
I am Pleanthes, avatar of the Virtues.
Xena has passed every test put to her,
and I believe that Janos has learned
a very valuable lesson in the process.
The trio turns to look at Janos, who nods, his eyes cast downward.
Pleanthes turns back to Xena.
It is within my power to grant any
boon you ask of me, Xena. For
exposing Janos’ duplicity, the Virtues
have granted a reward of your choosing.
Xena smiles slightly.
I doubt Temperance would
be too pleased with that.
Perhaps not, but the offer remains.
Her smile broadening, Xena turns to Gabrielle and gathers her close.
Tell them thanks, but no thanks. I have
all the reward I’ll ever need right here.
Gabrielle grins and stands on tiptoe, placing a kiss on Xena’s cheek.
Very well. Then I shall grant a wish of your
partner. Look in the mirror, Xena, and view
how Gabrielle truly sees you in her soul.
A mirror forms, and an image forms in it. Instead of looking at it, Xena keeps her eyes on Gabrielle's face.
Gabrielle reaches up and puts her hand on Xena's chin, gently forcing her head towards the mirror.
Xena's eyes drop, even though she lets Gabrielle turn her head. It is obvious she doesn't want to see the image in the mirror.
Reluctantly, since she realizes she's not getting out of it, Xena lifts her eyes to the image in the mirror. Looking back at her she finds a larger than life image, a face full of courage and pride, eyes blazing with uncompromising, fierce will.
It stuns her. Then Xena watches as the image in the mirror shifts its eyes to one side, and the fierceness softens into love, just that quickly. Speechless, she looks at Gabrielle.
Gabrielle turns her gaze from the images and looks up, slightly shrugging then smiling.
Xena hugs her, as the image fades into nothing.
END OF ACT FOUR
EXT. VIRTUA - DAY
Xena and Gabrielle stand at the edge of town saying their goodbyes to Pleanthes. It is a town that somehow seems brighter and more cheerful than in previous days.
Xena, thank you again for all of
your help. I was unaware of the
depths into which Janos had slipped.
It’s quite possible that without your
intervention, we might not have
known until it was well too late.
I’m glad we could help.
Do you think he’ll be okay?
Eventually, I mean?
That is difficult to say, Gabrielle.
Have no fear, though. The Virtues
will keep a close eye on him.
Thank you, Pleanthes.
And thank you, Gabrielle. I hope
you’ll come back this way again and
walk through our splendid gardens.
You won’t even have to bathe first.
Gabrielle laughs and clasps Xena’s warm hand. Together the two turn toward the path leading out of town.
They go no more than two steps when a figure steps from behind a decorative column.
Janos inclines his head.
I’m still not ready to forgive you for
what you did to my family and to those
I loved. I don’t know if I ever will be.
But I do owe you my thanks for showing
me mercy when I showed you none.
I don’t know what will become of my life,
but perhaps it will be better than it has been.
It can only get better from here, Janos.
Living for revenge is no life at all.
I should know.
Janos looks at her closely, as if for the first time.
Yes, I believe you do.
After a moment, he removes something from within the folds of his robe.
I also wanted to return this to you.
Xena! Your chakram!
Janos gestures with the weapon.
Take it. It does me no good here,
and perhaps without the reminder,
I might be able to get on with
whatever life I have left to lead.
As Xena reaches out for the chakram, she stiffens, sensing a familiar—and unwelcome—presence.
Ares materializes, a grin on his handsome face.
Just like old times, huh Xena?
His grin widens as he spies the chakram.
I’ll take this, if you don’t mind.
He winks at Xena.
Ares disappears, taking the chakram with him.
Xena's chakram was stolen
for the second time in a row during
COMING NEXT WEEK ON XENA