The Debt II


TEASER

Gabrielle speaks with Ming T'ien.

GABRIELLE
I want to see Xena.

MING T'IEN
That would be impossible.

GABRIELLE
Why?

MING T'IEN
Our laws say a prisoner charged with a capital
offense cannot receive visitors. And I'm a man
of the law.

GABRIELLE
Your Highness, you said you would let Xena go.

MING TIEN
Gabrielle, I owe you my life. Anything in this kingdom
you wish is yours. But if you think banishing Xena
will keep her from returning to kill me, you don't
know her as well as you think.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena has a large board around her neck. Guards push her to her knees.

PRISON GUARD
Hey Xena, I hear you were betrayed by a friend.

XENA
No, not by a friend.

PRISON GUARD
Throw her in!

Xena is pushed down a hole, and she screams. She lands in a prison, made of water. She moves to one of the blocks.

JIU
This one's mine.

Xena ululates and flips onto another block.

END OF TEASER



ACT ONE

Gabrielle and Ming T'ien sit at a table.

GABRIELLE
If you had her promise, then you would let her
go, right?

MING T'IEN
It would take more than that.

GABRIELLE
Xena would never go back on her promise.

MING T'IEN
Of course, she would.

GABRIELLE
I wanna see her.

MING T'IEN
Out of the question.

GABRIELLE
You said that I could have anything in your kingdom.

MING T'IEN
Except that.

GABRIELLE
You don't understand. I need to talk to her. I
have to explain to her why I did what I did. I'm
terrified of what she might be thinking of me.

MING T'IEN
You betrayed her, therefore you're her enemy.
She'll kill you now, as soon as look at you.

GABRIELLE
You're wrong. You don't know her.

MING T'IEN
I know her. Tell me, why did you do it if you love
her so?

GABRIELLE
I felt that she was betraying herself if she went
back to the way of murder.

MING T'IEN
Murder is in her blood, Gabrielle, her soul. It is
more natural to her than love.

GABRIELLE
Look, I know what Xena did to you is a terrible thing.

MING T'IEN
No, you are wrong. It wasn't terrible. It changed
my life. Gave it a meaning, and a direction. She
taught me how to rule.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena shoves a piece of meat in Young Ming T'ien's face and then takes a bite.

XENA
I am the scourge that your gods sent to punish
your people. Scary, huh?

Chuang enters.

XENA
What do you want?

CHUANG
It's Borias. He's riding this way.

XENA
How many men?

CHUANG
He's alone.

XENA
Come on. Get up!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena puts Ming T'ien in a hole in the wall and starts to cover it with rocks.

MING T'IEN (voice-over)
She understood how to send fear flooding into
your very soul. And when that kind of terror lives
deep inside people...they're yours forever.

Ming T'ien is now hidden in the wall.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
At the table.

MING T'IEN
My father didn't understand this. He was too soft.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Clip from "The Debt."

MING TZU
The boy?

XENA
He's on the third packhorse out there, under
some skins.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ming Tzu finds Ming T'ien under the skins and hugs him.

MING TIEN (voice-over)
When he ransomed me that night, he held me to
him like a foolish woman, tears in his eyes.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
At the table, Ming T'ien walks away.

GABRIELLE
You can't blame your father for being emotional
at a time like that.

MING T'IEN
He was a fraud, just like Xena said. He cared
about me only because a king needs an heir.

GABRIELLE
Where is he now?

MING T'IEN
Dead...but we're alive, Gabrielle, so let's quit
living in the past and celebrate your heroic deed.
If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be emperor of Chin.
I would be another of Xena's victims.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
A prisoner lays clothes on Xena's block.

XENA
What do you want?

JIU
He's giving you his shirt.

XENA
I don't want your clothes.

More prisoners give Xena clothes.

XENA
What--what are they doing?

JIU
Clothing you. It's their way of paying you tribute.

XENA
For what?

JIU
They heard what you did, or tried to do. Your
attempt at trying to kill the emperor.

XENA
They like that, huh?

JIU
There's not a man here that hasn't lost many of
his loved ones at the hands of that monster.

XENA
Where are you from?

JIU
From the kingdom of Lao.

XENA
Lao? Then you know Lao Ma.

JIU
Lao Ma? Of course. She's the wife of our king.
Beautiful woman.

XENA
When was the last time you saw her?

He doesn't answer.

XENA
What?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma is lead down a hall. She is laid on a block of the Chinese symbol meaning "Tree" and an masked executioner stands before her.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prison.

JIU
Like you, many of us had heard of her great powers
and thought she would use them to escape.
Perhaps they were all a lie.

XENA
No. No, her powers were real.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma puts a vase on the table. Xena crushes it with her boot.

LAO MA
Would you kill a mosquito with an ax?

Lao Ma takes the brooch from Xena's hair.

LAO MA
This is very beautiful.

Lao Ma throws it at the table and it digs into it. Xena removes the brooch.

XENA
That's good.

LAO MA
It could be a very usable weapon, if thrown at the
right body part.

XENA
You could kill someone, using a hair brooch?

LAO MA
If necessary.

Lao Ma puts the brooch back in Xena's hair.

LAO MA
I don't like to kill, however.

XENA
Everyone has their preferences. I happen to like
a good kill.

LAO MA
You're so full of anger and hate.

XENA
Everyone's gotta be full of something.

LAO MA
Put up another bottle.

Xena puts up a bottle. Lao Ma breaks it with her mind, and startles Xena.

XENA
Teach me to do that.

LAO MA
Well...try it.

Xena puts a bottle on the table, and tries to break it with her mind. After awhile, Lao Ma laughs.

LAO MA
I'm sorry, Xena, but you're trying to attack the
bottle with your will.

XENA
What else is there?

LAO MA
Exactly.

XENA
What?

LAO MA
The entire world is driven by a will, blind and
ruthless. In order to transcend the limitations of
that world, you need to stop willing, stop desiring,
stop hating.

XENA
How do I do that?

LAO MA
Heaven endures, and the Earth lasts a long time,
because they do not live for themselves. Therefore,
she would live a long time should live for others.
Serve others.

XENA
I could serve you, if that's what you mean.

LAO MA
Of course, you can. It's easy to serve someone
you love. You feel it will make them love you more.
It's like a good business investment. That's not
what I'm talking about.

XENA
You mean that I should serve someone who
hates me.

LAO MA
More than that. You need to serve someone you
hate. Ming Tzu.

XENA
Ming Tzu.

LAO MA
Yes, the man who had you hunted like an animal.
He comes here tomorrow with his son.

XENA
Serve Ming. I'd rather die.

LAO MA
You've been a dead woman for a long time now,
Xena. I'm offering you the chance to live.

Lao Ma walks away.

END OF ACT ONE



ACT TWO

Ming Tzu and Ming T'ien enter with a guard.

LAO MA
Welcome to my home. I wish only that it were
worthy of your presence. Welcome, Ming T'ien.

Lao Ma moves to hug Ming T'ien, but he holds up an arm so she can't.

LAO MA
Dinner awaits, Ming Tzu.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena serves the three who eat at a small table.

LAO MA
So, Borias is still a problem?

MING TZU
Yes, the gold and the horses we gave him for
double-crossing that whore have made him too
powerful. (to Xena) Be careful, you idiot!

Ming Tzu hands Xena a cutting tool, and she looks at his neck, wanting to slit his throat. She hovers over him while he insults her, Ming Tzu unaware who she is. Ming T'ien however realizes who she is and stares at her.

MING TZU
Borias is very dangerous. He's more dangerous
than that witch, Xena. He's very clever. She was
a stupid thug.

Xena leaves and Ming T'ien watches her go in surprise.

MING TZU
Something the matter, son?

Ming T'ien shakes his head.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hall.

MING TZU
Goodbye, Lao Ma.

Ming Tzu and Ming T'ien leave. Xena joins Lao Ma when they leave.

XENA
All right, Lao Ma, I did the whole servant bit, and
it accomplished nothing.

LAO MA
You're wrong. For a few hours, you actually silenced
your will. It's a beginning.

XENA
A beginning to what, huh? I should've just sliced
that pig's throat.

LAO MA
To conquer others is to have power. To conquer
yourself, is to know the way. Come with me, Xena.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma points to Lao Tzu who lies in a bed.

LAO MA
My husband.

XENA
I heard that you keep him in a coma. I didn't
believe it, but it's true.

LAO MA
Oh yes. If he were actually dead, word would get
out and his imbecile cousin would become king.
No, I make sure he stays alive, but in this
half-conscious state. You understand pressure
points, don't you?

She pinches Lao Tzu's neck and he falls unconscious.

LAO MA
I make sure he's seen every once in a while, in
the garden. It helps to convince doubters.

XENA
So you rule in his name.

LAO MA
The only way a woman could rule in the kingdom
of Chin. It's my gift to him. He was a vicious tyrant.
I'm going to make him the most loved of rulers.

XENA
Don't you get sick of him getting the credit for
everything that you do?

LAO MA
Not at all. As long as good is done.

XENA
You write down all that wisdom stuff, huh?

LAO MA
Yes...in his book.

XENA
You give him credit for that, too?

LAO MA
This wisdom comes from Heaven. What difference
does it make who gets credit for it? Lao Ma or
Lao Tzu?

XENA
Yeah, nothing seems to phase you, except that
boy I kidnapped. Every time he ignores you, that
cuts deep.

LAO MA
I know it's foolish of me. Just because we give
birth to them doesn't mean we own them.

XENA
He's your son?

GABRIELLE (voice-over)
Say it!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena is kneeling before Gabrielle and Ming T'ien. Gabrielle hits Xena.

GABRIELLE
Say it! Xena, promise them that you will never
attempt to kill Ming T'ien again. Promise them!

Gabrielle kneels before Xena, who has tears spilling from her eyes.

GABRIELLE
Xena, if you promise them, they will banish you.
Please, we can ride away from this.

Gabrielle puts a hand on Xena's face, but Xena jerks her head away from Gabrielle's hand.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena lies down, and Lao Ma moves her hands in the air over Xena's legs, healing them.

LAO MA
Come to me, Xena. Now.

Xena stands. She flips up a wall, and then Lao Ma draws her in with a long cloth that appears from no where. Lao Ma pulls Xena to her, and they hug, Xena happy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena is before Ming T'ien.

MING T'IEN
So, you have nothing to say in your defense, Xena.

GABRIELLE
Xena...

MING T'IEN
So be it. Tomorrow at dawn, you'll experience
this life for the last time. The sentence...is death.

END OF ACT TWO



ACT THREE

Xena is taken away. Ming T'ien laughs.

MING T'IEN
Don't feel like you failed. I would've executed her
no matter what she said. It's amazing, really. She
did all of this out of some fool gratitude to Lao
Ma for saving her life. I suppose even wild beasts
have a sense of loyalty, sometimes.

GABRIELLE
Can I see her?

MING T'IEN
Oh, yes. Now that she's condemned, you can
visit her. I'm not a monster, you know.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena tries to scratch her nose, but the board on her neck makes it impossible.

PRISON GUARD
Move it along!

The prison door is opened and Gabrielle wades through the disgusting water to Xena's side. Xena won't face her.

GABRIELLE
Can we talk? Of course not. I betrayed you. The
pathetic thing is, I thought I was saving you. My
reverence for life kept a brutal tyrant in power,
and led to my best friend's execution. I know you
hate me Xena. No more than I hate myself.

Xena steps into the water. Gabrielle helps her hold the board. Xena looks into Gabrielle's eyes.

XENA
Scratch my nose, will you?

Gabrielle gives a strangled sob.

XENA
Come on.

Gabrielle scratches her nose.

XENA
I know you only did what you thought was right. I
was angry with you, but I didn't hate you. I never could.

GABRIELLE
I think I understand why you thought you had to
kill Ming T'ien. It was Lao Ma's last request, and
she saved your life.

XENA
Not just my life. She saved my soul, my spirit,
my entire being.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma pushes Xena away, and Xena is moved into the air. She is flying. Lao Ma joins her. Xena puts the hair brooch in Lao Ma's hair. Borias walks in. Xena falls, screams and attacks Borias.

LAO MA
Xena, stop. Control yourself. He's here, because
I sent for him.

Xena flips over Borias and keeps attacking him. Borias hits the ground. Lao Ma gets between them.

LAO MA
Stop Xena, just stop. Stop willing, stop desiring,
stop hating.

XENA (voice-over)
That was the moment.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
In prison.

XENA
I could've done it right there. I could've just...let
go and buried all my hatred forever. That was
my chance.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena attacks Borias.

XENA
You always were a legs man.

Xena kicks him. The fight continues, until Lao Ma shoots Xena across the room with her Chi power.

LAO MA
All right. We'll do this a different way.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Borias and Xena kneel opposite each other.

XENA
What's he doing here?

LAO MA
We're going to have peace in this land, and the
two of you are going to help bring it about.

XENA
You've gotta be kidding!

LAO MA
Tomorrow, Ming Tzu comes here to talk with
Borias and me. We're going to include him in a
three-way alliance.

XENA
If you think that I am playing servant-girl to these
two, then you've got another thing-

LAO MA
Quiet, Xena. I plan to inform Ming Tzu of your
presence. He has to accept that. You're going to
help me run the kingdom of Lao. You'll be my
warrior princess. Tomorrow, you'll ask for Ming's
forgiveness. Today, you're going to learn how to
deal with Borias. Xena's capable of profound
loyalty, Borias. She just doesn't know it yet. I'm
gonna leave the two of you alone. It serves both
your interests to get along. If you kill each
other...so be it.

Lao Ma leaves. Borias and Xena look at each other.

GABRIELLE (voice-over)
So you and Borias made up.

XENA (voice-over)
Oh, yeah, we made up.

Xena and Borias crawl to each other and kiss.

XENA (voice-over)
I also asked Ming Tzu for his forgiveness.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ming Tzu stands in the hall of Lao Ma's home.

MING TZU
You expect me to forgive the woman that kidnapped
my son. Then permit me to point out the detail
that perhaps you missed. Xena belongs to me.
She's my property.

LAO MA
Ming Tzu, I know a man of your wisdom wouldn't
endanger an important treaty by holding a grudge.

MING TZU
To have the treaty, I must forgive her? Then I
apologize for wasting your time. Ming Tien, let
us go.

XENA
Lao Ma, if I may make a suggestion. Ming Tzu
is a man of great courage. I say you should put
me up as the stakes in a game of chance, and
see who wins.

MING TZU
Excuse me, but I do not have to play such a game.
You belong to me, now!

BORIAS
I have a claim on Xena. I discovered her, so to speak.

LAO MA
And I was fortunate enough to save her.

XENA
And I should say, I belong to myself. It should be
an interesting game.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
They are sitting in a circle.

MING TZU
This is ridiculous! Gambling over this worthless
whore. Why don't we throw something of value
into the pot?

XENA
All right. Let's say the winner gets me and a body
part from each of the losers.

MING TZU
What do you mean?

XENA
A body part. Minimum bet is a hand.

BORIAS
I'm in.

LAO MA
I don't want anyone's body part.

XENA
Then I'm sure we all pray that you win. What about
you, Ming Tzu? You got the jewels for this one?

MING TZU
Fine, all in one throw.

They shake their dice and throw them on the ground.

XENA
I win. (to Ming Tzu) Pay up.

LAO MA
This is ridiculous.

XENA
I want a piece of him.

MING TZU
You're crazy!

BORIAS
Then you're not gonna pay up?

MING TZU
Are you?

BORIAS
Yes. (to Xena) I give you my heart.

XENA
I accept. I'll settle for that from you too, Ming Tzu,
your heart.

MING TZU
This is nonsense! I'm getting out of here! Ming
T'ien! We're leaving this madhouse!

XENA
Not 'til I collect my winnings.

Xena stabs Ming Tzu.

LAO MA
Xena!

Xena kills the soldier.

XENA
Now for the kid.

Lao Ma steps in the way.

LAO MA
What are you doing?

XENA
Now, we can wipe out the entire line. Then it'll
just be the house of Lao. We can rule the whole
kingdom of Chin together. You can do all your
noble stuff, and Borias and I'll keep the peace.
We'll have some laughs along the way.

Lao Ma trashes Xena and Borias with her Chi power.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the prison.

XENA
She had such dreams of peace for her land,
and for my soul. I ruined them all. It was years
before I understood finally what she wanted
from me. Not long before I met you, I was at the
end of my rope. I was ready to give up. And then
I thought of her and what she taught me, and--and
I was reborn. That's the debt.

PRISON GUARD
It's time.

END OF ACT THREE



ACT FOUR

Xena is lead into the room. Ming T'ien and Gabrielle enter from another room. The board is removed and she is placed on the same place Lao Ma died. Xena is chained to the block.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma.

LAO MA
The entire world is driven by a will, blind and ruthless.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle moves forward.

GABRIELLE
(whispering) Xena.

A guard stops her.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma.

LAO MA
In order to transcend the limitations of that world,
you need to stop willing.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The executioner's weapons are uncovered. The executioner picks up the same hand held scythe he used to kill Lao Ma and moves to Xena's side. Xena's eyes are closed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma.

LAO MA
Stop desiring.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The executioner growls and readies his weapon. Ming T'ien looks on in expectation. Xena's eyes are open.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma.

LAO MA
Stop hating.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena closes her eyes.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lao Ma.

LAO MA
To conquer others is to have power. To conquer
yourself is to know the way.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Xena opens her eyes and the executioner's weapons fly from the table and into his back. He grunts and Gabrielle gasps. Xena uses the Chi power to open her chains and rises from the block.

MING T'IEN
Stop her!

Xena beats up the guards, and crumbles the walls with the Chi power.

XENA
She-e-e-e-e-yah!

Xena's face is one without emotion. She does not fight with a smile, only with purpose. Gabrielle shouts to the villagers and servants in the room.

GABRIELLE
Come on! Let's go!

Xena throws one of the balls of power at Ming T'ien.

GABRIELLE
Be careful. Let's go.

Xena moves to leave, but Ming T'ien frees himself from the rubble.

MING T'IEN
Xena! I have something to tell you.

XENA
Gabrielle, make sure everyone gets clear of the
building. It'll collapse at any moment.

GABRIELLE
Are you-

XENA
I'm fine. Don't worry, as far as I'm concerned, this
is all over.

Gabrielle leaves and Xena walks over to Ming T'ien.

XENA
Say it.

MING T'IEN
You made me, Xena. You taught me to be the
monster I am.

XENA
I know. It's part of the reason I'm here. I've learned
to clean up after myself. Is that all?

MING T'IEN
One other thing. You probably heard that I had
Lao Ma executed.

XENA
Yes.

MING T'IEN
But, I just wanted you to know, it's not true.

XENA
Really?

MING T'IEN
No. I did it myself.

XENA
I have something to tell you, Ming T'ien.

MING T'IEN
What's that?

XENA
Lao Ma was your mother.

MING T'IEN
I knew that the whole time!

Xena mouths "What?"

MING T'IEN
That was why I did the execution. I knew she
wouldn't use her powers to hurt her little boy. I
think this belongs to you.

He holds out the hair brooch and throws it at Xena.

MING T'IEN
Her last request was that it was returned to you.
It turns out that she was just a sentimental fool.

He picks up Lao Ma's book.

MING T'IEN
Remember this? Mother's book of wisdom? It
failed her in the end. That philosophical sense
of peace fell apart! She cried like a baby. She
even cried on after I had torn her heart from
her body!

Ming T'ien throws the book away.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gabrielle enters. Xena stands before Ming T'ien on his throne.

XENA
You're powerless now. You've lost face in front
of your people. They won't follow you, anymore.

Xena picks up Lao Ma's book and holds it to her. She walks towards Gabrielle.

XENA
You were right. I didn't have to resolve this with
murder. I finally understood Lao Ma's message,
and I made him small again.

Gabrielle reaches out to Xena and puts her arm around her.

GABRIELLE
Xena, your not killing him made you exactly what
Lao Ma wanted you to be.

XENA
A memento of Lao Ma.

GABRIELLE
We'll take good care of this. I love you, Xena.

XENA
Love you too, Gabrielle.

They leave, but the camera goes back to Ming T'ien, who has the hair brooch sticking out of his head, clearly dead at Xena's hand.

END OF ACT FOUR

STARRING
Lucy Lawless as Xena
Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle

GUEST CAST
Jacqueline Kim as Lao Ma
Marton Csokas as Borias
Grant McFarland as Ming Tzu
Daniel Sing as Ming T'ien
Daniel Lim as Ming T'ien (12 years)
Tai Hadfield as Chuang
Ric Chan as Jiu
Din Tran as Prison Guard

Teleplay by: R.J. Stewart
Story by: Robert Tapert and R.J. Stewart
Directed by: Oley Sassone

Disclaimer: Xena and Gabrielle's relationship suffered another blow (although Gabrielle doesn't know it yet) during the production of this motion picture.