Baiting the Hook
Xena looked at Gabrielle strangely but said nothing. The ghosts around them universally told Gabrielle to use them as she saw fit. She told them that she would. Then she, with Xena, Aella, Ephiny and Varia in tow headed once again for the stage area.
Cyane saw her coming and turned to address her. "Queen Gabrielle, Bridget has helped us to choose a suitable team to accompany your mate."
"Good, thank you for your help Bridget." Gabrielle was sure that Cyane and her compatriots had made some adjustments to Bridget’s attitude in the last few minutes. It was probably hard for the woman to be faced with so many legends at one time. But humility is a wonderful thing for the soul
"With your permission my Queen, we would like to help Bridget accomplish those tasks that she should be doing… according to the outline of Initiative Twelve. We cannot physically touch your world it seems but our verbal guidance could prove invaluable to her." Cyane was correct, with the exception of Xena and Gabrielle because of the bodies that they presently inhabited none of the dead could physically touch anything but the ground. Gabrielle wasn’t sure that they were even touching that.
"I’m sure Bridget is as thankful as I am to have your assistance. I wouldn’t think of denying her your council." Gabrielle was more than happy to have Cyane’s help in reining in Bridget. "As a matter of fact, her daughter and her advisors could probably benefit greatly from your council as well."
Cyane smiled slyly at Gabrielle and then at her compatriots. "As you command my Queen, so shall it be done." They ushered Bridget and her cadre off into the trees and left the newly formed team behind.
Gabrielle turned to the team. They were all watching the exchange. "Majesty that really is Queen Cyane isn’t it?" One of the women asked.
"Yes it is." Gabrielle said with a smile and a glance in the direction that the woman had gone.
"But she defers to you. Isn’t she the first really great Queen?" Another woman asked.
Gabrielle looked at the confused faces of so many of the women that stood around her and she sighed. "There were many Queens that were considered really great. Just to be chosen as a Queen of the Amazons is in itself a type of greatness. But Cyane was special." She looked at Xena. This was her story and she should tell it.
Xena didn’t miss a beat. "Cyane brought the Amazons together when no-one else could. She was the binding force that cemented them. Without her they were little more than scattered women with no power of their own and living from day to day. She gave them direction and vision. She gave them purpose." She said proudly, as if she were talking about a sister… in a way she was. Cyane had asked Xena to join her tribe; she treated her like a sister. At the time Xena had thought that it had been Cyane’s biggest mistake. But now she knew that it had been she who had underestimated the power of the woman. Even in death Cyane had inspired the Amazon Nation of the Northern Steppes to better things.
"And then you killed her." One of them said as a story continuation. When she realized what she had said she continued quickly. "But we heard her speaking with you. Well we didn’t hear her but it was clear by your side of the conversation that she has forgiven you. We think that we’re honored to have you with us Xena, you should know that."
"I appreciate that, I really do." Xena wasn’t sure what to say and she looked a bit embarrassed.
"No offense intended my Queen but shouldn’t you be deferring to Cyane?" Another woman asked.
Gabrielle knew that the conversation would return to this.
"No, I shouldn’t be. Cyane is dead. All of these women were great Queens and Warriors of the Amazons, and all of them are dead." She smiled at the irony that she was about to speak. "I am dead as well, but some God has seen fit to place me in this body and your Queen gave me her crown. Now that I have it I am the Queen. I am the Queen of the here and now and everyone that is an Amazon must defer to me or challenge me for the crown. That is the way it is done."
"Even though the dead can touch you they cannot challenge you for the crown because they can’t really touch the living? Is that right?" The same woman continued her questioning.
"Yes that is right." Gabrielle answered knowing that there was more.
"But what about Queen Bridget the way that you speak it sounds like she was not required to give you the crown? Is that true?" A different woman asked.
"Yes that is correct. She didn’t have to give me her crown. But if she hadn’t I would have challenged her for it." Once again there was a plethora of confusion on the faces around her. "Xena and I were sent here for a reason. I need to have the reins of everything that I can so that we can do what we were sent here to do. I don’t have to have the crown to organize the Amazons but I would have needed her complete trust, confidence and assistance. Bridget did not believe the word of her own daughter and she actually challenged the reality of the situation by having us go through a very dangerous ritual with the Shaman. It was clear that I did not have her trust. At that point had she not given me the crown I would have challenged her." Understanding began to dawn on their faces.
"We have drifted a long way from the Amazon path haven’t we?" The first woman asked.
"In many ways you have yes. But with a little work we can get you back on track. Having the right Queen is a big step." She said without sounding accusatory.
"That’s why Cyane has taken Bridget and the others away. So they can be properly instructed." The first woman said.
"Since they don’t trust you they would not have listened to you." A very young woman said. "I guess that it’s good that we don’t have that problem. We respect you and want nothing more than to help you to do whatever you came here to do." Another young one spoke up.
Gabrielle knew that Bridget had probably been trying to infiltrate some people that either would have been a liability or that would have actively tried to harm Xena or allow her to be harmed. The woman really was trying clog up the works. She reminded Gabrielle of her own father. When it came to Xena he had been pigheaded. He just never could accept his daughter’s choice. ‘Humph, that does sound like mom.’ Cara chimed in. Gabrielle smiled at the comment.
Xena looked at her and silently asked her what the joke had been. Gabrielle shook her head almost imperceptibly and mouthed Cara.
"Alright, if there are more questions I’m going to have to have you ask them of Xena or Aella." The faces of the team became radiant with joy and expectation. "They’re all yours sweetie." She said to Xena, and then she turned to Aella. "You try and keep her out of trouble, alright." She kissed her daughter on the cheek and winked at her.
"You were always tasking me with impossible jobs mother." Aella said teasingly and got a small punch in the arm and a look from Xena.
"We’ll be fine. How could we not be will you take a look at the talent I’m taking with me?" Xena thumbed over her shoulder indicating the group of women. They were delighted by her praise and Gabrielle mouthed her thanks where the others couldn’t see it. Xena leaned down and quickly kissed her on the cheek and Gabrielle walked away.
"Let’s go and see what the rest of the tribe has sorted themselves into shall we?" She said to Ephiny and Varia as they retraced their steps back to the waiting ghosts. They walked through the throng and the ghosts joined them as they approach the rest of the tribe. .