Xena: Warrior Princess

 

Destiny

Episode 35

by

Bard

Editor

Bleu Gato

 

 

Xena: Warrior Princess is copyright MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All original content of Xena: Warrior Princess 2.0 is copyrighted by the author and is not to be used or modified without permission. All rights reserved.

Contact: bard@xena2.com

Blog: www.xena2.com/blog

 


 

TEASER

FADE IN:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN 10 YEARS AGO/NIGHT

Xena waves a hand and YOUTH steps forth with a jug and fills her goblet with wine. He is slight of build and wears a tunic that is too large for his small frame; the YOUTH is no more than fifteen. Xena downs the wine quickly and tossing the container at him, slides into bed.

The YOUTH moves a bedroll in front of the door and then goes to extinguish the lit oil lamps. The YOUTH returns to his bedding, stepping very slowly and carefully in the semidarkness.

Xena, annoyed

XENA

Lyserus! Stop creeping around or beating will be the best of your worries.

Lyserus runs for it and crashes into the door in his haste. He bounces off and falls to the floor, crawling blindly and frantically towards the refuge of the blankets. Mocking laughter chases him.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN NIGHT

The moonlight dances in the cabin, in sync with the motion of the ship. Lyserus rises from his place and stealthily moves towards the bed. A glint of steel in his hand comes and goes with the silver light; the moon plays hide and seek with the clouds, beyond the portholes.

Lyserus gets within striking distance of Xena and lifts the knife. It descends with deadly intent only to be diverted and arrested in its progress. There is a sound of a bone breaking and Lyserus screams in pain.

Xena tosses the blade away and shoves the boy head first into the nearest wall. Dazed, he stumbles and falls. Dressed in tunic, she goes to him; grabbing him by the hair, she drags the whimpering boy towards the door to the cabin. Lyserus, clutching his broken wrist, does not resist; he is already resigned to his fate. Xena grabs a sword on the way out.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP STERN PASSAGE NIGHT

Xena stomps down the narrow hallway, dragging the crying Lyserus behind her. She stops at the first door from her cabin and kicks it with force, sending it flying inwards.

Xena, bellowing

Tellus!

Tellus, dressed in underwraps, emerges from the darkness, ready for trouble. He is clutching a short sword.

TELLUS

Yes, Captain?!

Xena, ordering with authority

XENA

Get the entire crew on the deck. Lyserius earned a promotion to traitor.

He nods and runs down the passage, stopping to pound on a few doors, before descending the stairs to the main crew quarters. Heads poke out of said doors and upon noticing Xena, the SENIOR SAILORS leave the rooms hastily and head upstairs. Xena ignores them.

XENA

Why?

Lyserus, spitting out, with hate

LYSERUS

Anyone is better than you.

Xena, tilting his face towards hers and making sure she has his full attention, coldly

XENA

I am going to prove you wrong.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK NIGHT

SAILORS form an anxious and eerily silent mob. All eyes are on Xena, standing above them.

Xena, loudly, sweeping her gaze over the crowd

XENA

Lyserius betrayed this ship, he betrayed you, and he betrayed me. Each man will land one hundred blows or suffer the same fate.

Xena, whispering in Lyserius' ear, viciously

XENA

How you like them now?

She pushes him into the crowd and they fall upon him in feeding frenzy, shoving and pushing to prove their loyalty. Xena watches the show impassively.

Tellus, coming over to stand by her, honestly

TELLUS

There is no trust here.

XENA

And you?

Tellus, joking

TELLUS

I will kill you the first chance I get.

Xena, chuckling

XENA

I know I can count on you.

Tellus, growing serious, wisely

TELLUS

Captain, take a slave from the shipment.

XENA

Trouble?

TELLUS

M'Lila is young and spirited, bad combination. Our problem becomes Lyserus' replacement.

XENA

You explain things to her?

Tellus, choosing his words very carefully, wary

TELLUS

Your orders: no breaking them in.

XENA

Worth more that way; surprised they listened.

Tellus, pointing at the execution

TELLUS

They understand. Speaking of restraint, boys are getting restless.

XENA

Pass a word of a raid after we drop off the cargo at the rendezvous; I have a village in mind.

Tellus, pleased

TELLUS

Aye, Captain.

Tellus turns to leave.

XENA

And Tellus?

TELLUS

Yes Captain?

Xena, moving her eyes back to the brutal beating, making it an order

XENA

You too.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP SHIP'S HOLD NIGHT

The JAILER walks among the row of chained SLAVES, followed closely by Xena. The JAILER stops and ably frees M'Lila; he then departs, taking the shackles with him. The other SLAVES pretend sleep, trying to avoid notice.

The woman rubs her wrists and stares openly at Xena with a sullen and defiant expression, challenging her. Xena answers the silent dare.

Xena, affecting indifferent

XENA

My crew just tore apart one of their own to prove their allegiance. You can be their reward or my cabin boy.

The meaning behind the words sinks in and M'lila drops her gaze and seems to shrink.

M'Lila, sounding scared

M'LILA

I am your slave.

Xena turns and walks away without a word, M'Lila following her with a heavy step and an even heavier heart.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN NIGHT

Xena walks over to the bed and climbs in. She turns her back to M'Lila and draws the sheets to her neck. Only to turn on her back and bolt upright when M'Lila joins her under them.

Xena, angry

XENA

What are you doing?

M'Lila, innocently

M'LILA

Serving under you.

Xena, sharply

XENA

I am not an Amazon; do not presume things, slave. Your place is on the floor.

M'Lila, pulling the covers back and trying to touch Xena' thigh, enticingly

M'LILA

I'm experienced.

Xena intercepts M'Lila's hand and squeezes hard enough to make the woman grimace in pain. Using the pressure to control her, she guides M'lila off the bed and throws her to the floor. M'Lila is wearing underwraps and nothing else; she recovers quickly and smiles coyly at Xena.

Xena, standing over her, sternly

XENA

I have no interest in women.

M'Lila, starting to remove the top wraps, seductively

M'LILA

I could change your mind

Xena snaps; she closes the distance and grabs the M'Lila by the throat. She makes a fist with the other and raises it threateningly. The stare at each other, locked in silent struggle of wills.

M'Lila, breaking the silence, softly

M'LILA

I'm sorry.

Xena sighs and releases her, backing away to the bed and sitting down on it.

Xena, upset, harshly

XENA

I am young but not stupid. I know what you tried to do.

Pause.

Xena, fiercely

XENA

No one controls me.

M'Lila, guessing correctly, smiling sadly

M'LILA

You stand alone; no one to trust, save this slave.

Pause.

M'Lila, her eyes watering, gently

M'LILA

I see the pain in you and I want to take it away. I will if you let me.

XENA

No.

M'LILA

Who hurt you, Xena?

Xena, gruffly

XENA

Go to sleep.

Xena crawls back under the covers and M'Lila watches her, not moving.

Minutes pass in silence and then Xena scoots closer to the edge farthest from M'Lila, leaving plenty of room behind her.

Xena, exasperated

XENA

Stay on your side.

M'Lila does not wait for the invitation to be rescinded. She quickly climbs into bed and deciding not to push her luck, she turns her back on Xena. Soon, they both fall asleep.

FADE OUT:

END OF TEASER

 

 

 

ACT ONE

FADE IN:

EXT. COASTAL VILLAGE GROVE - NIGHT

The dirt road runs inland and is located quite a ways from the waves lapping the beach. The inn, nicer houses, shops, workshops, and the temple all sit alongside it. The poorer part of the village is close to the Aegean Sea, keeping the aroma of that down and away. As a further, physical barrier, a large grove of fruit trees separates the two halves. It is a summer night and the air is buzzing with insects; the weather is pleasant if a touch humid.

In the middle of the trees, hidden in the darkness, figures crouch. Sixteen year old Xena and her ship's crew of thirty young SAILORS wait in silence. Few are younger than her, most are around her age or barely older. Tellus is the oldest at twenty and the ship's First Mate. They are wearing worn leather armor and are armed with hatchets, short swords, wooden clubs, and knives; six have bows as primary weapon.

Xena moves out, and keeping low, makes her way to the front of the darkened inn. Straightening up, she confidently walks towards the stables nearby, appearing to have come from the inn itself. She is wearing a dress that shows her arms and cleavage to a good effect. In her hand is a basket.

A single, alert ROMAN LEGIONARY stands guard at the double door leading inside. He is armed with a spear and a shield.

ROMAN LEGIONARY, quietly yet firmly, challenging

ROMAN LEGIONARY

Halt!

Xena, keeping her head down as she stops in front of him, shyly

XENA

Father sends food.

ROMAN LEGIONARY relaxes, but not completely. He is older, a veteran, and experience that kept him alive this long will not allow it.

ROMAN LEGIONARY, suspiciously

ROMAN LEGIONARY

Let me see your face.

The eyes that look at him are cold and hard and the knife is already moving, as the basket is tossed at his chest. The distraction combined with the fatal mistake of allowing her too close costs him his life as the blade buries in his throat. Xena grabs him before he falls and drags the dying man inside. Neighing and stomping of nervous horses is the only noise for a while and then Xena comes out. The stolen armor fits her overgrown body well and it looks good on her. She takes the abandoned post and whistles. Shortly, she is joined by her First Mate.

Xena, urgently

XENA

Tellus, change of plan. Nine horses in stables, eight Romans left. Send ten towards the sea; the stench is repulsive, tell them to torch everything and put everyone in chains. Wait for us to start. Bar the back door to the inn, stack straw and wood around the walls. Post archers to flank the front entrance, gather the remaining crew directly in front. Questions?

Tellus, shaking his head no in answer, respectfully

TELLUS

The merchants and craftsmen, Captain?

XENA

They will cower in their homes; save them for last.

TELLUS

Aye, Captain.

CUT TO:

EXT. COASTAL VILLAGE INN - NIGHT

The quiet, dark night comes alive as a cordon of fire erupts along inn's walls and swiftly climbs up. Lit torches are tossed on the roof and the flames devour the thatch greedily.

In harmony, beyond the fruit trees, blazes and screams erupt on the shore. The first grow, while the latter are swiftly cut short. The need for secrecy gone, Xena moves to the inn door and tosses the shield. She hefts the spear and prepares to throw it.

Inside the inn, there is a stampede of feet and the door flies open. Dressed in nightshirts and sleep tunics, the INNKEEPER leads his family. The INNLEEPER barely takes few steps outside when he sees Xena and his eyes grow large at the sight of her and the weapon pointed at him. The INNKEEPER stops and raises his hands in universal gesture of surrender. Not caring, Xena throws the spear and it impales him, dropping him dead where he stands. His WIFE shrieks and falls on his body. The three young CHILDREN stand frozen in shock as smoke belches from the maw to inside.

Indifferent to the tragedy playing out, Xena draws a sword. As she suspected, six ROMAN LEGIONARIES charge out in tight formation, using the family as cover. Six of them come out with shields and spears up. Unfortunately for them, due to the smoke and limited visibility, they crash into the CHILDREN and stumble over the INNKEEPER and his WIFE. Their order broken and their sides exposed, Xena's ARCHERS don't hesitate at the opportunity offered. The arrows release and half the ROMAN LEGIONARIES are no more; one is wounded. Xena politely steps to the side.

Xena, pointing out the waiting SAILORS, with false generosity

XENA

Your freedom, if you win it.

Clearly out of options, the ROMAN LEGIONARIES charge the SAILORS. The reason for their sacrifice becomes clear as a CENTURION is next out the door, followed by a ROMAN NOBLE. The ROMAN NOBLE wears expensive robes, but the sword in his hand and the manner he holds it in give proof that he is not ignorant of warfare.

The CENTURION steps over the bodies carefully, keeping an eye on Xena. The CHILDREN huddle on the ground and the WIFE clutches her murdered husband, wailing hysterically. The CENTURION continues to maneuver towards Xena and she inclines her head twice to point out the ARCHERS on his flanks. He ignores the warning and charges her. Arrows cut the CENTURIAN down and he falls at her feet, dead. The ROMAN NOBLE wisely lowers the blade after taking a few steps to clear the inferno. He stands there, outlined in the fire behind him, arrogant and proud.

Xena does not give him the satisfaction of response. She pivots and advances on the two ROMAN LEGIONARIES still alive. The wounded ROMAN LEGIONARY is breathing his last on the ground and his companions are losing. Xena speeds the process by stabbing one ROMAN LEGIONARY in the back and knocking out the other one. She turns her attention towards the last Roman standing.

ROMAN NOBLE, no trace of fear, pompously

ROMAN NOBLE

You face Gaius Julius Caesar.

Xena, bored

XENA

You important?

CAESAR

We are destined to rule the world. Bow your unworthy neck in supplication and kneel unto Caesar for our mercy is mercurial and fleeting.

Xena studies him, her interest clearly piqued. Seconds pass and then Xena signals the ARCHERS and they move out. The SAILORS take a hint and spread out to take the town. The only one left is Tellus, guarding her back.

Xena, to Caesar, daring

XENA

Prove it.

Caesar raises the blade and salutes Xena. He smoothly advances and engages blades. Feinting, blocking, and parrying, they feel each other out. Quickly, the engagement escalates and it is clear that while Caesar is superior in technique, he is having trouble with Xena's power. She is relentlessly backing him into the raging fire behind him, driving him slowly yet surely to his doom. His edge in skill is not enough to overcome the inhuman strength of his opponent that numbs his hands with the shock transmitted thru the clashing steel. And Xena is very good to boot.

With his robes approaching combustion and flames creeping closer, Caesar concedes; he lowers his blade, defiant to the end and refusing to relinquish his weapon. Xena immediately backhands him and sends him sprawling. She grabs his foot and drags him a safe distance from the inferno.

Caesar, smiling thru the blood on his split lip

CAESAR

Are you ready to surrender? Prostate before the glory that is Caesar and be spared our wrath.

Xena kicks the sword from his hand and straddles his torso. She pins his arms with her hands and leans down, their faces close.

Xena, feral

XENA

I take what I want.

Xena kisses him hard, mashing their lips together, unfazed by the blood. Then she withdraws and continues as if nothing happened.

XENA

Ten talents.

Caesar, outraged

CAESAR

Ignorant savage, Caesar is worth more than 60,000 drachma! Fifty.

Xena, eyeing Caesar speculatively, as if seeing him in new light

XENA

You bought yourself a temporary reprieve.

Caesar, threatening

CAESAR

When Caesar is free, we will capture and crucify you.

Xena, turning her head, to Tellus, commanding curtly

XENA

Check on progress.

TELLUS

Aye, Captain.

He departs.

XENA

Rome has a Colosseum, we have the Game. Watch your tongue.

Caesar, dismissively

CAESAR

Your primitive amusements do not concern us.

XENA

Not your choice.

Xena knocks him unconscious with one swift blow.

XENA

Never was.

She brings her hand to her mouth and wipes the blood with the back of it. She studies the red and then looks down on Caesar. There is hunger and lust in her gaze.

Xena, appreciatively

XENA

You are right: this conquest thing has potential.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN MORNING

Xena is wearing a fresh tunic. Her clothes from the raid are in a pile and she steps to the wash basin and cleans the blood and grime from her face and hands. She walks to the storage chest and opens it. Xena takes out a bedroll and places it against the door and then looks pointedly at M'Lila, who is watching this development with veiled interest.

Xena, flatly

XENA

It is time to accept your place, slave.

M'Lila grins mischievously and then, to Xena's astonishment, deliberately gets into bed and settles in. The surprises continue.

M'Lila, gravely

M'LILA

I know his kind; Caesar is trouble.

Xena, astonished and confused

XENA

What?! How did you know? Wait what did you say?

M'LILA

Galley gossip travels faster than Hermes. You made a mistake kissing him, offering freely a stranger what you deny your crew. Dangerous for them to think of you as a woman; for them, for you, and for me.

Xena, waving away the concern, unfazed

XENA

I am in control.

M'LILA

You order them to keep their hands off the merchandise and then you take a slave to your bed. You work hard to ensure they only see the Captain and then make out with a prisoner, revealing your femininity. You appear weak.

Xena, heatedly

XENA

There is nothing between us!

M'Lila, persuasively

M'LILA

Perception is everything. You have to fix this.

Xena, approaching the bed, dangerously

XENA

Starting with you?

M'Lila, lowering her eyes, the very picture of submission, meekly

M'LILA

I am Captain's privilege.

Xena, stopping and watching M'Lila closely, uncertain

XENA

Tell me this is not you eliminating the competition.

M'Lila, lying to Xena's face, convincingly

M'LILA

You said it yourself: there is nothing between us and won't be. Does not mean I don't care. I am your friend.

Xena, morose, with longing

XENA

I don't have friends. Not anymore.

In Xena's eyes the very thing she wants is clear to see. M'Lila gives it to her.

M'Lila, pulling the sheet over herself and closing her eyes, giggling

M'LILA

Stay on your side friend.

Xena chuckles and shakes her head. She joins M'Lila, taking the opposite side of the bed.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK EARLY EVENING

The SAILORS are crowded around barrels of mead and tables loaded with food. Tellus sits in the chair to the side, empty chest next to him and the writing implements on his lap. They all appear to be waiting for something, or rather, someone.

Opposite them, on the starboard (right) side, is a different sight. Caesar, the lone surviving ROMAN LEGIONARY, and a few wealthier VILLAGERS captured in the raid are standing in one long line. Each man is holding a stone is his hands, wrapped with rope and attached to the right leg. In addition, they are secured to each other around the waist. Caesar and the ROMAN LEGIONARY are the only ones who stand tall and unmoved by the events; the others are crying and begging for mercy.

Xena, wearing leather armor and full complement of weapons makes her entrance and hushed silence falls. She stops and takes in everyone, making sure to linger on many faces. Judging everyone sufficiently discomforted and cowed, she speaks.

Xena, deadly calm yet exuding an air of menace and violence

XENA

You live and die at my whim; your lives are mine to spend. In return, I provide you with food, shelter, and protection. Eight failed assassination attempts and you have not learned your lesson.

Six ARCHERS appear and spread out to her sides. They draw and release; six SAILORS drop. No one moves; smallest twitch means instant death.

XENA

I can always start over.

She signals the ARCHERS and they leave.

Xena walks over to Caesar and stands in front of him.

Xena, over her shoulder, to Tellus

XENA

Hundred drachmas on the Roman; triple that on Caesar.

TELLUS

Term?

XENA

Six hours on the soldier and ten on the noble.

One ARCHER returns with a heavy bag. He opens it and coins rain down inside the chest. Tellus makes a notation and a line quickly forms in front of him. The dead SAILORS are unceremoniously tossed into the sea and their purses added to the chest. The surviving SAILORS focus on food, entertainment, and betting - anything to forget their precarious existence.

Xena, to Caesar, grandly

XENA

Welcome to the Game.

Caesar, profoundly

CAESAR

The illusion of power is poor substitute for the real thing.

Xena, provoking

XENA

Not going to offer more money?

Caesar, pressing the point, calmly

CAESAR

Leadership is earned in the hearts of men, not taken at sword point.

XENA

You going to keep spouting useless wisdoms until Poseidon's embrace?

CAESAR

You think that what you are matches what you desire. Open your eyes to the delusion for the truth is different: we are destined for greatness, you and me. Xena, you are a warrior, not a pathetic pirate scraping a living on worthless merchants and hapless fishermen. Accept that and take the next step become great. What you wish, you must believe; only then what you yourself think, other will also. Will shapes fate, with fortune lending a helping hand, luck greater by the effort. I desire Gaul, therefore it will fall; empire will follow.

Xena, impressed despite herself, marveling

XENA

You truly believe in your destiny.

Caesar, with utter conviction, strongly

CAESAR

Rome will rule the world and I am Rome.

XENA

What is mine?

Caesar, speaking volumes, simply

CAESAR

Conquest.

Xena, shifting her eyes to SAILORS preparing to start with the VILLAGERS

XENA

Sadly, your time grows short.

Caesar, confidently

CAESAR

Julius Caesar is not going to die today.

XENA

And why not?

CAESAR

I have the world

Before she can react, he leans in and kisses her. Shifting the stone to his side, he brings her close with his free arm and they deepen the kiss. Xena is starting to enjoy it, returning the embrace, her hands roaming his body possessively. The end is abrupt and unexpected.

Caesar, pulling back from the union of their lips

CAESAR

and you want it.

Caesar nimbly extricates himself and swiftly climbs the rail; he stands there, looking down at Xena.

Caesar, daring her, smugly

CAESAR

Come get it.

Caesar turns and jumps, starting a chain reaction as the closest SAILORS curse and start throwing the rest into the sea.

Xena stands stunned, clearly confused about what just happened.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT ONE

 

 

 

ACT TWO

FADE IN:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK NEAR DAWN

Drunken SAILORS and the remains of a feast litter the deck; snoring fills the night air. Past the NIGHT HELMSMAN, a lone SAILOR stands at the stern, gazing into the sea.

Behind the ship, a line plays out. On the surface of the molten liquid, a single head bobs in the sea. Caesar is the last remaining contestant in the Game.

NIGHT HELMSMAN acknowledges the Captain with head gesture. Xena answers same and walks over to the SAILOR. She is wearing a tunic with a belt; single knife rests in a sheath.

SAILOR, reporting

SAILOR

Down to the nobleman, Captain.

XENA

Leave.

He does and she begins to pace, occasionally glancing down at Caesar. She continues this for a moment and then stops, decision made. Placing a knife between her teeth, she climbs the rail and dives into the sea.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK DAWN

Xena helps exhausted Caesar climb the net on the side of the ship. Tellus is there to help him up, followed by Xena. Tellus does not look happy.

Tellus, angry

TELLUS

Explain and make it good.

XENA

Fifty talents ransom.

Tellus, hostility disappearing, impressed

TELLUS

I admire your negotiating tactics, Captain. I will spread the word among the crew, along with more mead in the morning. Note will go out in the next port.

Pause.

TELLUS

Doubted you there for the moment, Captain.

Xena, shrugging

XENA

First Mate prerogative.

Pause.

XENA

Julius Caesar is our honored, high value guest. Make sure the boys understand that. He gets a cabin, free reign, and an escort.

TELLUS

Aye, Captain.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN EARLY MORNING

Xena enters her cabin, pulling off and tossing the wet tunic. In her underwraps, she pats to the washbasin and starts to dry with a piece of linen.

M'Lila, still in bed, bitterness tingeing her tone, hotly

M'LILA

You are a fool.

Xena, reasonably

XENA

He made me an offer.

M'Lila, hurt

M'LILA

So did I.

XENA

I don't want that from you.

Pause.

Xena puts on a dry tunic. She turns around and approaches the bed.

Xena, soothingly

XENA

This changes nothing.

M'Lila closes her eyes and pretends to sleep, ignoring Xena.

Xena, trying another approach, excitedly outlining new vision

XENA

Caesar spoke of greatness and power - power to topple nations and rule the world. The dream is achievable: armies at my command, multitudes under my rule, and a conquest that stands the test of time. All in reach, all mine!

Xena stands next to the bed, looking down at M'Lila, who opens her eyes again and watches her.

Xena, taking M'Lila hand in hers, promising

XENA

M'Lila, I will get what I need from Caesar. You, my friend, will be there to see it happen.

M'Lila, seeing possibilities in the future, mildly reproachful to cover her surging optimism

M'LILA

As long as I am not there for the Caesar part.

XENA

I would not do that. And if it is a woman you want, woman you shall have. For that part, I won't be there either.

M'Lila, looking her in the eyes, telling Xena exactly who she wants, softly

M'LILA

Yes, I do.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK AFTERNOON

On the main deck Caesar is holding court, delivering a newly written speech. Scroll in hand, he faces an audience of SAILORS. Most go about their duties, few listen, and the rest are withdrawn and miserable after the celebrations.

Caesar, orating

CAESAR

The greatness of a man does not lie in circumstance of his birth but in execution of his life. Know that there are few things as crippling as doubt in self and the acquiescence to the demands of others. The moment you accept someone's hold over you, you walk their path and forfeit your own. And the second you forget to voice your convictions, from then on you are doomed to remain a slave to external influences.

The weak ones

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK AFTERNOON

Xena is steering the ship and Tellus is next to her, not in the best of shape.

Tellus, suffering from hangover, holding his aching head

TELLUS

You should have killed him.

Xena, teasing

XENA

Expand your mind, Tellus.

TELLUS

It is and so is the headache.

Xena, mysteriously

XENA

The more he talks, the more he reveals.

Tellus, catching the look and reading between the lines, advising

TELLUS

You are the Captain, Captain. Word of caution: play but don't keep. I don't care if you tear apart the cabin and wake the Gods, but he better not be spending nights in there. Take your fun and leave it at that. I will escort him in and out.

XENA

Something the matter?

TELLUS

I smoothed the feathers and the boys are okay with you being human. It is a relief, actually. Slave is safe, Caesar is not. They laugh at his speeches and threats and dismiss them; I am not so quick.

Xena, impatiently

XENA

What are you saying?

Tellus, sincerely

TELLUS

Captain, you are destined for bigger things. We would follow you anywhere, but where you going, that is no place for us. You are a soldier proper, born for battle we are criminals. The boys are dumb, they don't see the writing on the scroll; I do and it is not with you. You get too cozy with Caesar and they will figure it out and that pack of dogs will turn on you faster than a flea jumps one.

Xena, unconvincingly

XENA

I am one of you.

TELLUS

No, you are not and you know it.

XENA

Guess there was a reason I picked you as First Mate.

TELLUS

Then listen, Captain. Let me spin it you taking advantage of love sick fool.

Xena, amused

XENA

You get to keep the ship when I leave?

Tellus, shamelessly

TELLUS

Consider it a payment for years of service.

XENA

Now there is the rogue I know!

Pause.

Xena, all business

XENA

Consider your advice taken.

Tellus nods and they turn to listen to Caesar, still going strong in the background.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN LATE EVENING

Xena sits on the edge of the table in light, short tunic, her long legs clearly displayed. She has a goblet of wine in hand.

There is a knock at the door and M'Lila opens it and exits. She passes by Caesar and Tellus, heading down the passage. Tellus pushes the Roman inside and closes the doors.

Xena takes a sip and extends the goblet in invitation. Caesar declines with a shake of his head.

Xena, shifting her legs to better show and entice, purring

XENA

You recover fast.

Caesar, with a straight face

CAESAR

I have been praised for my stamina.

Xena, raising an eyebrow

XENA

Boasting?

CAESAR

Stating.

XENA

That good?

As they flirt, Caesar begins to make his way closer to her. For every exchange, he takes a step forward, as the sexual tension in the room builds.

CAESAR

Legendary.

XENA

First I hear of it.

CAESAR

Some secrets are worth keeping.

XENA

And others?

CAESAR

Worth sharing.

XENA

Which one is it tonight?

Caesar, leaving the implication hanging

CAESAR

If the incentive is right

XENA

What do you have in mind?

Caesar is close enough to take the goblet from her hand and drink.

Caesar, savoring the alcohol, staring at Xena's lips

CAESAR

Complements to the creator.

Xena, seductively

XENA

How does it taste?

Caesar, kissing her

CAESAR

Divine.

He parts her legs and steps between them, bringing their bodies into contact as they kiss heatedly. The goblet is discarded, dropping and rolling away.

Xena removes his tunic and it goes flying, followed by her own. She is down to underwraps and he in trousers.

Caesar, kissing her neck as she exposes her throat, whispering

CAESAR

Bed?

Xena, blindly fumbling for the leather ties of his trousers, voice thick with need, ordering

XENA

Here. Now.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN NIGHT

M'Lila enters to find Xena already in bed and a single oil lamp illuminating the cabin. She extinguishes it and seems hesitant to join Xena.

Xena, reassuringly

XENA

We didn't use the bed.

M'Lila climbs in and under the sheets. She turns and they face each other, both lying on the side, separated by the empty space and something more.

Xena, reminiscing, sounding younger and more innocent

XENA

I was betrothed to Sophus, a man in Amphipolis, years ago. He was to be my first.

M'Lila, quietly

M'LILA

Did you love him? Still do?

XENA

In time.

M'LILA

What happened?

XENA

Cortese.

M'Lila, sympathetically

M'LILA

Warlord? I'm sorry.

Pause.

M'Lila, bluntly

M'LILA

Why give it to Caesar?

XENA

Alliance.

M'LILA

Do you regret it?

Xena, sounding unsure

XENA

It was okay.

Pause.

Xena, giving it further thought, adding

XENA

Been a long time since I felt anything and for a moment I did again.

M'Lila, not fooled, shrewdly

M'LILA

Why is Caesar not here?

Xena, evasively

XENA

Tellus counseled

M'Lila, interrupting

M'LILA

The real reason, Xena.

Xena, admitting

XENA

I did not want him to stay.

Silence stretches between them with Xena's admission.

M'Lila, trying to sound casual, unable to hide the emotion in her voice

M'LILA

Do you want me to hold you? It won't mean anything, purely comfort.

Xena, growing tense, sharply

XENA

You know it does.

M'Lila, conciliatorily

M'LILA

Then hold me.

Xena, suspicious

XENA

How is that different?

M'Lila, submissively

M'LILA

You are in control.

Xena considers the offer carefully and reaches a decision. It is easy.

Xena, taking charge

XENA

Do it.

M'Lila scoots to the middle of the bed and lies on her back. Shyly and slowly, Xena settles her head into the nook of M'Lila shoulder, their bodies fitting together perfectly.

Xena, lying to self, resolutely

XENA

I am in control.

M'Lila turns and kisses Xena's head. Xena relaxes and then Morpheus claims them and carries them away to his realm.

FADE OUT:

END OF PART ONE

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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