DARK WARRIOR PASTS - KIRA AND XENA
IAXS Project #149
By Mary Draganis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright © 1997 held by author
"The moment you kill... everything changes. Everything."
---Xena to Gabrielle in DREAMWORKER
"When you take someone's life, you lose a part of yourself as well"
---Major Kira to Lt. Dax in BLOOD OATH (ST:DS9 #439)
 The nightmares come easily. The sounds of screams reverberate night after night as the eyes close and the mind relaxes. Faceless ghosts torment them. The above quotes reflect similar thought patterns in Xena and Kira, spoken with the knowledge of what it means to shed blood in anger.
 Parallels are readily drawn between these two different women, both of whom have become powerful symbols for so many fans. Some may ask what is so special about two women who are tortured by their pasts. That something special is that they represent many people in real life who have lived tortured lives and have found the will to transcend their pasts and transform themselves.
 Two women - far apart in time and space, yet both went down the road of blood spilling. For Xena it was initially to protect her home from invaders, to protect what she held dear. For Major Kira it was to oust the invaders, to free her planet of those that murdered and enslaved. What these characters have in common above all else is the will to survive and then to grow.
Xena: Warrior Princess
 Xena was an ordinary young woman, living a life that was quiet and without any major mishaps. A woman that was going to live like her mother and grandmother before her. One event would change her life and the lives of those that would be touched by her.
Xena respects religion to a degree
 When her village was threatened by a warlord she did what she thought was right and fought to save what was hers. She lost her brother in the battle, she lost her innocence, she lost the respect and love of her mother. She in turn began the transition from simple farm girl to Warrior Princess. As she said in the episode DEATH MASK (#23), she turned and somehow was twisted in the goal of protecting her village. The rage turned on other villagers as she became the warlord the Centaurs called "Destroyer of Nations". She amassed an army, grew in strength and turned into a woman without remorse, her ideals long lost with the countless lives she destroyed. Her reason for picking up the sword and killing was to protect her village. In the episode REMEMBER NOTHING (#26) we find she regretted picking up that sword and going down that path.
Major Kira Nerys
Second in command of Deep Space Nine
 Kira Nerys was a woman far removed from Ancient Greece and the planet Earth. As a child on Bajor she stood and watched as her fellow Bajorans were slaughtered daily in camps. She saw her mother die from malnutrition and at the tender age of twelve decided she was going to fight for the liberation of her home. She picked up the Bajoran equivalent of a sword, a phaser, and joined the resistance (STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE, DUET # 419).
 Kira could not stand back and watch the destruction of her culture, any more than Xena could stand back and watch a warlord destroy everything she held dear. For Kira, killing became second nature. Cardassians -- be it Cardassian men, women or children -- became her targets. In the episode PAST PROLOGUE (ST:DS9 #404), Kira told her friend that she still had nightmares of those raids. Her past deeds haunt her. She killed for the greater good of Bajor.
 She also lost family, friends and above all else her innocence. She killed not because she wanted to but because she felt she had to. She blamed the Cardassians for making her the way she was (ST:DS9, DUET).
 What makes these two women similar? They both feel the need to redeem themselves. Both have nightmares that haunt them. Both were and are warriors and have a need for justice. In Xena's case, she is now trying to correct past injustices by helping others. Kira is letting go of the hatred that drove her for many years. These two characters in two very different settings show us that although these characters are strong they do have vulnerabilities. They strive to better themselves and struggle to maintain control over their lives.
 The warrior spirit is not epitomized by death and destruction. The warrior inside both these women stops them from giving up, from ending a life that is racked with regrets. The need to fight through the emotional turmoil is what makes them strong. They now want to prevent, if possible, others from going down that road.
Best friends 4 ever
 Xena has Gabrielle. Gabrielle may be the representation of the Xena that was not allowed to flourish. Gabrielle is the innocent who does not want to spill blood in anger. The introductory quote reflects Xena's "big sister" approach in dealing with Gabrielle. By telling Gabrielle that she does not want to teach her how to fight, she is trying to prevent Gabrielle from turning into what she became.
 In Kira's case we see her try to keep a Cardassian from learning how to kill. Ziyal is the Bajoran/Cardassian daughter of Gul Dukat, Kira's nemesis during the occupation and responsible for Bajoran deaths on board the mining station. Ziyal was taken under Kira's care and protection. When Ziyal requested to be taught how to kill, Kira refused. She saw her reflection of herself in that girl. She did not want to create Ziyal in her image.
 Kira is now at the stage that her hatred for Cardassians has dissipated. One episode that stands out among the best of Deep Space Nine is DUET. Kira showed she was capable of putting away the hate that burned for so long, capable of learning to forgive. She still harbors animosity for Cardassians but is willing to judge each one individually and not as a group. She has even learned to admire some Cardassians.
 I admire both women because of their determination to rise above their past actions and their honesty. They are both aware of their past deeds and they do not hide from them. To deny their past would be evading their responsibility for what they did, and for trying to change.
 They know that their actions have not been forgotten by others. Xena has been described as a destroyer of nations and wherever she travels her name brings fear to those who knew the old Xena, who made men tremble. That does not stop her, however, from helping others, and that reputation is being replaced by one of someone who goes to the aid of those that need assistance.
 The guilt these two characters feel is a part of what makes them who they are now. Xena has shown in many episodes that she has felt guilty for the lives that were lost, but no more so than in the episode CALLISTO (#22) where the product of her blood lust turned up and revealed herself. Xena created Callisto in her image - whether she had intended to or not.
Callisto is jealous of just about everyone
 In the episode PAST PROLOGUE, Kira laments to Odo, the security chief, that she still had nightmares about the raids. In the episode NECESSARY EVIL (ST:DS9 #428), Kira is brought face to face with her past actions and reveals to Odo something she had hidden in her past -- the death of a Bajoran collaborator. Also in the episode BLOOD OATH (ST:DS9 #439) she confides to Lt. Dax that by taking someone's life, she lost a part of hers in the process. Their feelings of guilt propel them to try and not get anyone they care about in the same predicament.
Life Changing Moments
 What made these two women change their course of life? What event was powerful enough to have them re-evaluate their lives?
 For Xena it started with her undergoing the gauntlet. In the HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS episode called THE GAUNTLET (HTLJ #12), Xena saves a baby's life and thus begins the chain of events that brings about Xena's dethronement from her leadership of her army. She underwent a beating by her men which she survived. She decided to battle Hercules in order to win her army back. Having challenged Hercules she was defeated. As she lay on the ground under Hercules' sword she was waiting for death with his final blow. That did not happen. Hercules refused to kill her and let her go. She was shown mercy by Hercules -- the mercy she never showed any other man. What followed was Xena and Hercules teaming up on the same side to battle Ares' protege. At the end of UNCHAINED HEART (HTLJ #13), Xena leaves Hercules and sets out to try and redeem herself. The one event that turned Xena was Hercules' mercy and the trust he put in her.
 When we next see Xena she is on the road to Amphipolis. She wants desperately to see her mother and to ask for forgiveness for the shame she brought her. When confronted by her mother's refusal to forgive her, Xena is devastated. Her own village considers her a murderer and refuses to listen to her when she tells them Draco's army is heading that way. Instead of listening to her they assemble to stone her to death. Xena's reaction tells us that Xena was willing to die. She did not want to fight the villagers. It is at this point Gabrielle steps in front of Xena, protecting her from the villagers' stones. Gabrielle showed immense courage to stand up to those people for someone she did not know.
Draco and Xena have a past
 Xena's desire to help others rather than killing them came into being as she faced Draco in a battle to the death. She saved the village and was granted her mother's forgiveness. With that she set out again, not back to her old ways but to helps others with Gabrielle. Gabrielle has now become her anchor and someone that Xena describes as "a good friend".
 Major Kira's transition was also difficult. For 26 years she fought the Cardassians. That was the only life she knew. Living in caves and dodging Cardassian soldiers. For most of her life she was in peril. She was now confronted with the Cardassian retreat from Bajor. Bajor had been freed. She chose to enlist in the Bajoran militia set up by the Provisional Government and received the rank of Major.
 She was given an assignment as First Officer on board Deep Space Nine (the old Terok Nor Mining Station). She battled with Bajoran Ministers and fought the decision of the Bajoran government to apply for membership to the Federation. She was still a patriot and willing to battle for what she believed in. In the episode PAST PROLOGUE she was confronted with the choice of continuing her past deeds and bringing down the Provisional Government. Kira could have sided with her former friend of the resistance group called Khon-Ma but chose not to take up arms again. She was again tested when the Maquis, a group of Federation citizens, took up arms against the Cardassians (ST:DS9, THE MAQUIS, Parts 1 and 2, ##440,441). She understood why they were doing this. This was her life being repeated. Again she refused to join in.
 Kira's decision not to kill came when the Bajorans were finally free. Her admiration and loyalty to Captain Sisko is also a contributing factor in her change of view about the Federation. Her belief in Sisko as the Emissary was also a factor when Kira decided to support Bajor's membership to the Federation. Sisko is her anchor. Kira's anger at the Federation was seen as a replacement to the Cardassian occupation. Sisko has changed Kira's opinion of the Federation and she now considers the idea of membership to the Federation as a good plan.
The Greater Good
 These two women are now fighting for what Xena described as the greater good. Kira continues to use her abilities that she learned in the resistance to help her and others in dangerous situations. Xena uses her fighting prowess in helping those she once fought. Her goal is to try and obliterate the image of the Warrior Princess -- the image of the killing machine she became -- and to destroy the darkness that engulfed her.
 The characters are heroic. The word heroic is used too often today to describe a certain deed or action. We need heroes today -- the world is full of anti-heroes where the norm is violence. Although borne out of violence these two characters have risen above it and have shown, albeit on film, that it is possible to grow and to move on. Women everywhere are inspired to see these two women and they have rightly become role models.
Xena likes to practice...a lot
 Xena is a role model for young girls and women because she shows that although one comes from a background that has so much violence there is a chance to escape that mold and better oneself. It is not easy as Xena shows many times -- her past does reflect on how others see her but she battles on.
At least Major Kira survived her series ender
 Major Kira also becomes a role model to those whose backgrounds included war and misery. Kira never had a childhood. She lived most of her life surrounded by death. She has learned to live again and to love again. She learned to forgive her enemies and make friends.
 Long Live Xena and Major Kira and the minds who invented them, because somewhere out there in the real world there are many Xenas and Kiras fighting their own demons and standing up for the Greater Good.