Disclaimer: Xena & Gabrielle belong to each other and to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. The Doctor (and Sarah Jane) belong to the universe and the BBC. Herodotus belongs to history.
The battle was going badly, as Xena had known it would. Tactically it was death guaranteed. That had not been Xena's plan at all. No. Inexplicably it had been Gabrielle who, as Queen, had gathered together every last woman of the Amazon Nation and exhorted them to join Leonidas and the amassed ranks of the Greeks in the struggle against Xerxes and the Persians.
"Amazons! I know there are many of you who say: 'This is not our struggle. Let these men of Persia and Greece kill each other and leave us alone.' But we're caught in between, and they won't leave us alone. At some point we will have to fight, for our freedom, our lands and our way of life. And at least we know where we are with the Greeks."
It was a convincing speech: the bard had wasted several scrolls getting the words just so.
Now the girl from Potidaea who had never taken a life was sick with killing. It was a necessity. Kill or be killed and there was no time to think about it. For each Persian down two took his place; two became four became eight became sixteen became... numbers beyond counting (though, later, there were those who would try). Each state in turn, took their place at the front; using the lulls in between to regroup and lift their spirits. Then was the time for rousing words but Gabrielle had none; they were lost in blood and the terrible thought that she had made the wrong choice, was leading the Amazons - her people - to certain death. So it fell to Xena; practised in these things, she had no need of scrolls.
"They may be many but they do not fight well.
The Gods are on our side; and the land.
This pass is a vice to hold them as we crush each man in turn.
Brave Amazons, fight! We will prevail."
On the second evening, after fighting had ceased, the air emitted a terrifying groaning sound and a strange object appeared from nowhere into the middle of the battlefield. A blue wooden box. From it two creatures emerged. One looked like a man, but strangely attired, with an impossibly long multicoloured strip of cloth wrapped around its neck. The other had the shape of a woman but the clothes of a man. Both looked around for a while, spoke in tongues.
"Doctor, where are we?"
"Greece." the Doctor beamed. "I thought we could use a break."
"Doctor, I know there are scantily clad men and" Sarah Jane did a double take "women all around us but somehow, I don't think they're on holiday."
The doctor consulted his pocket-watch. "Ah yes... 480BC. Bit early. Must get those temporal circuits fixed. Ah well, back in the TARDIS. Did you say women ? That can't be right."
The strange creatures returned into the wooden box; there was the same terrible sound and the box disappeared.
The Persians were confused and thought it was an Omen.
The amassed ranks of Greeks were confused and thought it was an Omen.
Both sides sent for Seers to interpret the strange apparition.
The traitor Ephialtes used the confusion to sneak out of the Greek camp and go to Xerxes; show him the way round the mountain. This was all the sign the Persian needed.
On the Greek side, the Seer Megistias explained the apparition as a portent of doom.
Through the night the various Greek contingents discussed their course of action. Many decided to leave, to regroup in their homelands.
They went with Leonidas' blessing. All except the Thebans, whom he did not trust and forced to stay and fight.
The Spartans, of course, would stay.
Now was the opportunity for Gabrielle to undo her bad decision. To leave without dishonour, to save the Amazons - her people . To live to fight another battle, in another place, on another day. But she had seen something in the man and the woman-man, in the way they talked to each other - it seemed as if they were equals. A woman the equal of a man. That was and omen. Pride burned within her. Words came to her and she needed no practise scrolls. Once more she addressed the Nation.
"Amazons. Warrior women! Our children and our children's children will sing songs of this glorious day to come. And in these tales that will be told, shall we let Leonidas and the Spartans take all the glory? We are twice their number. We are twice the warriors they will ever be. We should claim twice the Victory. And it will be Victory. Drink now and take your pleasures. Tomorrow we will have a good day's fighting."
With these words she won the heart of every last Amazon and Xena too was impressed.
As one they chanted their intent "A good day's fighting!"
The next morning Gabrielle, the bard from Potidaea, led every last woman of the Amazon Nation to their glorious victorious death.
"Sarah, are you sure you saw women?" The Doctor was pacing round the TARDIS console, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise.
"Definitely. It's quite easy to tell the difference, you know, when they're half naked. Leather bikinis. Swords. Bows and arrows. And some of them... some of them appeared to have only one breast. Doctor, they were Amazons, weren't they?"
The Doctor stopped his pacing, fixed his wide eyed stare on his companion.
"Of course they were Amazons, Sarah. What, you thought they were a myth? Not at all. Except about the single breast. Optical illusion. Breast-plate. But they shouldn't have been there. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong history. Something's very wrong Sarah Jane." he said, importantly.
He dashed out of the control room. Returned some time later brandishing a scroll.
"I was right! Herodotus. Nice chap, bit impenetrable in translation. Look..." he paused, then beamed a smile of understanding. "Of course, I see! Did I mention he had terrible handwriting? 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians. "