XENA - ANOTHER SEASON 5 - Episode 5

DOUBLE JEOPARDY

by Andreas Hloupy (andreas.hloupy@siemens.at)

Follow the whole TV-like series on http://members.tripod.com/XENA_Another_Season5/index.html

Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

NOTE: All works remain the copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent

 

EXT. Village near Dodona - Day

It’s a small, quiet village – only a few buildings are loosely gathered around a central well. A few women can be seen, busy working – their man obviously away on the fields.

JOXER – loyal but incompetent friend of Xena and Gabrielle - and MEG – morally challenged Xena look-alike - are standing near the well together with a hooded figure, the INFORMANT.

Joxer doesn’t wear his usual armor. Instead his outfit of choice are brown leather trousers with knee-high leather boots, a white shirt and a black west. On the side he carries a dagger in his belt and a leather cap – somehow looking similar to his helmet with those earflaps – completes his clothing.

Meg is dressed – like Xena. Complete with Chakram (a dummy most likely) and sword. Both seem a little uncomfortable in their outfit.

The Informant wears a dark robe and has pulled the hood over his head, so his face cannot be seen. He speaks in a dark, slow voice.

All three nervously look around while talking, obviously trying to prevent anyone from listening.

Joxer

So you are absolutely certain?

Informant

Of course I am. A roman centurion was more than motivated to tell me … everything.

Meg

I knew a roman centurion once … at first he wasn’t very talkative either, but while I rinsed his pilum he practically told me his life story.

Joxer turns to Meg, his eyes wide.

Joxer

Meg!

Meg

What?

Joxer

I thought we'd agree we never again talk about this part of your life …

Meg

It was a long time ago. Anyway, I either had to sponge down his spear or …

Joxer

Or what?

Meg

Or sleep with him. So I just cleaned his weapons, polished his armor and of he went.

Joxer’s facial expression changes into a dumb, thoughtful look.

Informant

(angry)

Stop it. That’s not a game. I’m not interested in your little stories … the fate of Greece, maybe the whole world lies in your hands. Focus!

Meg pushes Joxer with one hand and than turns her attention to the Informant. Joxer throws a dark look at Meg, looks around and than steps very close to the informant.

Informant

If the Romans lay their hands on this artifact, nothing can stop them.

Meg

But shouldn’t it be save were it is?

Informant

They already razed the temple once and they can do it again. And this time they might actually find …

(whispering)

… the scepter!

Meg

(whispering)

Ah, the scepter …

Joxer

(whispering)

Oh yes, the scepter … tell us again, what does the scepter do?

This time Meg hits Joxer on the chest with her elbow, quieting him down.

Meg

Just ignore him … we all do it from time to time. I didn’t change into this silly leather thingy with it’s useless but uncomfortably sharp bronze extensions for a discussion. I know how Xena worked … may she wander the Elysian Fields forever. Just show us the bad guys, something to save, insurmountable danger and a wicked twist and off we go.

Joxer

When I first told you, you didn’t even want to let me go …

Meg

I had to think about it … you know, that’s what normal people do right after wanting to do or say something and right before they actually do it.

Joxer

What’s that suppose to mean?

Meg

I owe it to Xena … if the world needs a warrior princess than the world gets a warrior princess.

Informant

Excellent. Here is the map to the vault … Meg’s disguise should bring you both into the temple complex and this will open the way to the scepter.

The Informant hands Joxer a small parchment. Joxer grabs it, takes a look at it and – drops it. When he bends to pick it up the informant shakes his head, turns and slowly walks away.

Meg

Okay, let’s go.

Joxer puts away the parchment in his vest and than he and Meg walk away, too, into a different direction than the informant.

Joxer

By the way, that thingy … it’s called armor. Trust me, I know about that.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Market - Day

It's a small, but very busy market - food, clothes, kitchenware, even weapons are offered by loud, obnoxious merchants. Customers try to look, touch, haggle and pay while children or simple passersby look for a way through the crowd.

An OLD MAN, dressed in a dark coat and supporting his shaky walk by a cane, moves through the market with little interest in the offered goods.

Another figure, the THIEF, is approaching the old man from behind, dressed in brown leather trousers with knee-high leather boots, a white shirt and a black west. A leather cap with earflaps hides the face.

When the old man stops angrily to avoid a collision with two playing kids, the thief quickly steps next to him, one hand grabs his money pouch, hanging from his belt, while the other cuts it loose with a small dagger.

Moments later the figure has disappeared within the crowd, and the old man continues his trot without noticing his missing fortune.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Market, Side alley - Day

It's the alley between two stone buildings that stand next to the market. It's dark and empty, avoided by normal people.

The THIEF runs around the corner and stops after a few steps, leaning against the wall of one building. He puts the dagger into his belt and weights the stolen money pouch with the other. Than he pulls down the cap, revealing the face.

It's a woman - to be more precise, it's a woman that looks exactly like Gabrielle, including the short blond hair. She smiles, obviously satisfied with her little coup.

Voice (OFF)

Like a goldsmith with a sledgehammer.

The head of the Gabrielle look-alike turns and her hand clings to the dagger.

AUTOLYCUS, the king of thief, leans casually at the entrance to the alley, watching the surprised thief. He is dressed in his usual dark and dandy outfit and has a smile on his face.

Autolycus

You have nothing to fear, I would never throw such a delicate flower like you under the trampling feet of justice.

Thief

What?

Autolycus

I am Autolycus!

Autolycus pushes himself off the wall and makes a few steps towards the woman, looking at her expectantly - but she shows no sign of recognition.

Autolycus

You've never heard of me?

Thief

No?

Autolycus

Well, we have to change that … a proper introduction is in order.

He now has reached her and bows slightly. His right hand takes hers away from the dagger and leads it to his lips for a hint of a kiss.

Autolycus

I'm Autolycus, king of thieves … at your service in any way you desire … and in many ways you can't even imagine. And you are … ?

Thief

Telessilla.

Autolycus steps back and nods.

Autolycus

Short … to the point … rough charm shines through every word.

Telessilla

What do you want? I will not share this money.

Autolycus

Oh, that's not what I'm here for. I'm more interested in you looks.

Telessilla's hand goes for the dagger once again.

Telessilla

(angry)

Who do you think you are … I rather cut off your …

Autolycus

(interrupting)

Another misunderstanding. You see, there is someone who looked exactly like you …

(sad)

… she was a good friend … and an honest soul …

(sighing)

… anyway, I need someone who appears exactly like Gabrielle.

Telessilla

So I look like that ... Gabrielle. What does this have to do with anything?

Autolycus

I need to enter a certain temple complex. With your help I think I can get in and out without any trouble.

Telessilla visibly relaxes and so does Autolycus.

Telessilla

What's in there? Wait, forget it … what's in there … for me?

Autolycus

Ah, greed, such an important motivator. How about I give you twenty percent?

Telessilla

Forget it. Fifty-fifty, or the king has no followers.

Autolycus

You drive a hard bargain … it's a long way from a petty pickpocket like you to a romantic royal robber like me but I'm ready to offer my support and advice and that should be worth at least …

Telessilla

Fifty-fifty … and no argument.

Autolycus

Okay. You're determined … that reminds me a little of the real Gabrielle.

Telessilla

Come on, lard-head.

Telessilla walks by Autolycus, heading straight for the alleys exit.

Autolaycus

On the other side …

 

CUT TO:

TITEL SEQUENCE

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, Gate to the temple complex - Day

The Zeus shrine in Dodona is the most important oracle for the king of the gods. It's a big complex with the large temple, build around the sacred oak after the Romans razed the old temple, and buildings to house a group of priests, guards and guests. All is surrounded by a high wall and can only be entered through a single gate.

The gate is closed and guarded by three armed men - one of them is the commander of the guard, BIAS, dressed in a shiny breastplate, chain armor protecting arms and legs, while the other two guards only wear simple leather armor. They all carry swords and seem very alert.

A road leads to the gate and right now AUTOLYCUS and TELESSILLA approach it. They are dressed like before and the Gabrielle look-alike wears her cap with the earflaps, obscuring part of her face.

Bias, the commander, steps into their path and gestures them to stop.

Bias

Hold right there. What is your business at this sacred shrine?

Autolycus and Telessilla stop, Autolycus taking another step to stand right in front of Bias.

Autolycus

May Zeus bless your guarding effort, good man, my name is … not important right now. Here, take a look at this and you will understand.

Autolycus pulls out a ring and shows it to Bias who seems surprised.

Bias

The ring of Periphas … how did you get it?

Autolycus

You see, my friend here …

He gestures towards Telessilla.

Autolycus

… is Gabrielle, the bard, and Periphas trusted his ring upon her because we have to warn the priests of great danger.

Bias

Why would Periphas send you?

Telessilla steps forward and pushes Autolycus to the side.

Telessilla

Listen, errand boy, my partner is Xena, the wary old princess, and she's a good friend of Periphas … if you don't let us in immediately it's your head that will land on a stick.

Bias looks at her for a moment, lost for words, than he turns and heads back to the gate, gesturing the other guards to open it.

Autolycus

(whispering)

Worked like a charm.

Telessilla

(whispering)

Once we're inside I hope you're as good as you said.

Autolycus

(whispering)

Oh, I'm the most modest show-off you'll ever meet. By the way, it's warrior princess.

Telessilla

(whispering)

What ever.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, Gate to the temple complex - Day

The gate is closed again and still guarded by two guards and BIAS. This time JOXER and MEG approach the gate, dressed like before - with Joxer wearing the cap, earflaps down.

Bias, the commander, steps into their path and gestures them to stop.

Bias

Hold right there. What is your business at this sacred shrine?

Joxer and Meg stop and look at each other. Both mimic the other to step forward and talk to the guard commander - finally Meg throws Joxer an angry look and turns towards the patiently waiting Bias.

Meg

My name’s Xena and I have an important message for your priests?

Bias

So you are Xena? We’re a little isolated here, but I’ve heard you are doing good now. I let the priests decide the worth of your message.

He turns and gestures the guards to open the gate, than he turns back.

Bias

Your friends are already through …

Meg and Joxer look at each other questioning and than simply shrug their shoulders.

Bias

… and who are you?

Bias looks right at Joxer, who falls back a step and smiles nervously.

Joxer

Joxer? Joxer the Mighty?

Bias

Never heard of him.

Meg

He’s with me.

Bias

Why would a renowned warrior like you allow a midget like him around?

Meg just turns, steps to Joxer, grabs his face between her two hands and kisses him long and passionately. Bias stares at them with eyes wide open, than he turns and slowly walks back to the gate.

Finally Meg lets go of Joxer and both breathe deeply.

Meg

No that got my juices flowing.

Joxer

I think … I think we should go in?

Meg nods and quickly marches towards the gate while Joxer waits a few moments before he follows.

Joxer

(silently)

Sorry, Gabrielle.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, Old Temple - Night

The old temple building in the Dodona monastery – destroyed by the Romans and lying in the shadow of the magnificent, new temple – is nothing more than a pile of stones, fallen pillars and faint reminders of walls, kept because its sacred past. It’s a dark, starless sky.

Very carefully and silently AUTOLYCUS sneaks through the rubble. He reaches a small clearing, maybe two yards in diameter, where the marble floor lies in the open. He goes down on all four and carefully feels his way along the ground.

Autolycus

(silently)

The things I do for money.

Autolycus finally finds what he was looking for – a series of finger thick holes in the floor, one with a small marble rod sticking out of it a few inches.

He carefully takes out the rod and carefully tries it on each of the other holes. With the third one he seems satisfied and he lets the rod slip into it – the rod disappears completely.

Moments later a piece of the ground, a marble floor tile, swings into the ground, revealing a square entrance, approximately one yard wide, with steep stairs leading down.

Autolycus

(silently)

Someone else might have asked for applause now, I just accept your devout bows.

Carefully, checking every step before using it, Autolycus works his was down, disappearing into the hole.

Shortly after Autolycus is gone, JOXER appears on the edge of the old temple, nervously looking around, checking. He holds the informant's parchment in his hands, looking at it constantly.

When Joxer reaches the area with the open floor he stops surprised, checking the parchment again. He scratches his head under the cap and while thinking about this change in plans he doesn't notice BIAS and two more guards approaching from behind.

Joxer crouches down to look into the gaping hole in the ground. He slips and almost falls down into the hole.

Joxer

Oops!

Bias meanwhile is only a few steps away.

Bias

What in Zeus name are you doing there?

Joxer jumps up and turns, looking right into three drawn swords.

Joxer

(scared)

Oh, I … I just wanted to take a look at these magnificent ruins.

Bias

And the entrance to the sacred vault just happens to be open?

Joxer

Well, in fact … yes.

Bias rips the parchment out of Joxer's hand and takes a look.

Bias

And what's that?

Joxer

Shopping list?

Bias

And why does it explain how to open the vault and avoid the traps?

Joxer

Unusually detailed shopping list?

Bias turns to his men for a moment.

Bias

You go in and see if someone is down there … and you take this thief and bring him to the barracks.

One of the guards grabs Joxer on the shoulder and drags him away. The other one slowly walks down the stairs into the vault.

Bias takes a few steps away from the hole and just waits.

After a few seconds a muffled thud can be heard from below and moments later Autolycus hurries up the steps. When he reaches the top he stops for a moment, not yet noticing Bias in the shadows.

Autolycus

(silently)

I think a contingency plan is in order … if only I had made one.

Bias

How about you go into prison and stay there for the rest of your miserable life?

Autolycus

We call that plan B.

Autolycus turns around and draws a dagger seemingly from nowhere. Bias makes a step forward and rises his sword, pointing it at the throat of the king of thieves.

Bias

We call that the end.

Autolycus drops the dagger.

Autolycus

We call that … a draw?

The guard that was send down the stairs now slowly comes up again, nursing a big bump on his head. Bias throws him an angry look.

Bias

How could he so easily overwhelm you?

Guard

He hit me with stick!

Bias

You have a sword!

Guard

It was a big stick.

Bias

Take him to the barracks, too. But keep the prisoners apart, we don't want them to agree on some bogus story.

The guard grabs Autolycus arm, pointing his sword at him.

Guard

What about the entrance?

Bias

The priests will close it tomorrow.

Guard

But what about their partners? Both came in with someone, right?

Bias

Right … We will have to take care of this.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, New Temple - Night

The new temple is a magnificent building, lined around the sacred oak tree were the priests of Zeus read their oracles from the wind blowing through the branches.

MEG is standing on one corner of the temple, next to a big column. She seems nervous and rubs her arms constantly, obviously freezing a little in her Xena disguise.

Suddenly BIAS steps around the column and stops only a few feet behind her - although she has turned her back towards him and doesn't notice him immediately.

When she finally turns and sees him she steps back and grabs the Chakram at her belt.

Meg

You shouldn't surprise a lethal warrior like me that way … I could have killed you before I even recognized you.

Bias

I take my chances.

Bias seems unimpressed by the behavior of the - fake - warrior princess.

Bias

What exactly are you doing here?

Meg

I thought, with danger looming around every corner, I better take a look.

Bias

No, I meant, what are you doing here, at Dodona?

Meg

I don't understand.

Bias

You don't have to pretend … we caught your partner.

Meg gets even more nervous now, constantly looking around as if searching for an escape route.

Meg

He was checking security … like I did.

Bias

He had a map that showed how to open the secret vault … that's no coincident. You wanted to steal … the scepter!

Meg

You would never dare to tell that to my face if I was Xena … which I am.

Bias

We'll see … for now you follow me to the barracks.

Meg

Do you really think, Xena would let you take her captive?

Bias

I don't now … tell me.

Meg

Well …

Suddenly TELESSILLA appears a few yards away, walking around the corner of the temple. She is dressed in her normal clothes and actually wears the cap - making her look like Joxer in the dark.

While Bias is more than surprised and stares with open eyes, Meg immediately gets the situation and walks right up to her. Telessilla stops and look a little surprised herself at the approaching scarcely dressed warrior woman.

Meg

I don't know who you captured, but I don't think it's … him.

Meg stops in front of Telessilla.

Meg

(whispering)

Play along … please.

(loud again)

I looked everywhere for you … were have you been. I was worried.

Meg hugs the stunned thief happily.

When she throws a look at Bias she sees that he watches them closely with a more skeptical look on his face.

Meg thinks for a moment, than she takes her arms of Telessilla. The thief seems relieved, but still hasn't found anything to say.

Now Meg takes Telessilla's face in her hands and … kisses her, forcefully. The thief stares with wide open eyes at Meg while the Xena look-alike presses her lips against Telessilla's - but she is doing nothing to resist.

Bias stares at them for a moment, than he shrugs his shoulders and simply walks away.

 

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

INT. Dodona, Barracks, A cell - Night

It's a small stone-build cell room with a high ceiling, a single wooden door, a small window and a single bench for comfort. The window has one single iron bar running through and the moonlight falling through is the only light available.

AUTOLYCUS is sitting on the bench, arms crossed in front of his chest, looking bored.

Autolycus

98 … 99 … 100 … that's it, I'm going.

Autolycus stands up and walks over to the window. He checks the bar and then he steps back. He grabs the edge of his trousers with one hand and guides the other one into them, seemingly searching for something hidden in his underpants.

With a satisfied grin he comes up with a small phial. He raises it and checks the content against the light. Than he opens it and carefully drops a little of the clear liquid in it on the top and bottom of the iron bar.

The liquid, some acid obviously, immediately starts to work it's way through and smoke rises from the bar. Moments later the bar drops out of it's holding, falling into the open hand of Autolycus.

Autolycus than walks over to the door and barricades it by putting the bar between door and floor.

Taking a last satisfied look around he walks back to the window, pulls himself up and through.

 

CUT TO:

INT. Dodona, Barracks, Another cell - Night

It's the same small stone-build cell room with a high ceiling, a single wooden door, a small window and a single bench.

In this one JOXER is lying on the bench, sleeping.

After a few silent moments , TELESSILLA appears at the window - she seems to have pulled herself up from the outside. After a few seconds she drops out of sight again.

Telessilla (OFF)

(whispering)

Autolycus! Autolycus!

Joxer doesn’t react.

Telessilla (OFF)

(louder)

Wake up, brain-dead!

Finally, Joxer reacts, sitting up on the bench.

Joxer

What?

Telessilla (OFF)

(whispering)

Shut up and listen. You blew it … you blew it big times. I saw them taking you away … and they almost got me, too. But than a strange women appeared and … convinced them I was someone else. This place is too weird … we should brake.

Before Joxer can answer, Telessilla continues.

Telessilla (OFF)

(whispering)

Okay, okay, we don't brake, you don't have to be so pushy.

A small leather pouch comes flying into the cell through the window.

Telessilla (OFF)

(whispering)

Here, I got you spare equipment … we meet at the old temple. They haven't even put up guards there yet.

Telessilla can be heard hurrying away, while Joxer stands up and picks up the leather pouch from the ground.

Joxer

I wonder who that was … maybe a friend of our informant?

He sits down again and opens it on his lap … an assortment of tools appears and Joxer checks one after another.

Joxer

Don't know how to use it … not able to use it … failed every time I used it … don't even know what it is … looks far to complicated … can't imagine what someone would want to do with that … ah, finally.

Joxer holds up a small saw.

Joxer

Now that seems to work pretty straight forward.

Joxer stands up, puts the rest of the tools on the bench and steps to the window. Slowly, awkwardly, he starts to work on the iron bar with the saw.

Joxer

I wonder if there is an easier way.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, New Temple - Night

The new temple seems deserted, the white marble shining under the moonlight.

AUTOLYCUS comes around the corner, looking around very carefully for guards or other unwanted observers. He slowly walks along the temple, stopping every few steps to check again.

Suddenly MEG appears on the other side of the temple … seemingly waiting for someone, wandering a few steps forward and back.

Autolycus stops immediately, frozen. He stares at the Xena silhouette.

Autolycus

(silently, to himself)

That can't be … that's … Xena.

He moves to the side, hiding in the shadow of one of the columns.

Autolycus

(silently, to himself)

But she's dead … think Autolycus. Well, it wouldn't be the first time that she came back from the dead. These heroes have a way to clamp on their mission … it's annoying in a way. But what would she do here? That can't be a coincidence … coincidence is something that happens in bad plays, everything else is a conspiracy.

Autolycus looks around but still he and Meg are the only persons visible.

Autolycus

(silently, to himself)

So she's here because of me … it's the only reasonable … maybe arrogant and self-centered, but still reasonable … explanation.

(whining)

Why … why now … why me? Are there no warlords left to distract? This could have been my biggest accomplishment … ruined by saint Xena.

Autolycus throws another look at Meg - peering around the column. Meg has taken out sword and is doing a few - awkward - maneuvers.

Autolycus

(silently, to himself)

Great, she's mocking me. I have no choice.

Autolycus pushes himself away from the column and grabs the hilt of his dagger.

Autolycus

(silently, to himself)

I have to run.

Autolycus turns and hurries away into the night.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, New Temple - Night

The new temple is deserted, again, the white marble still shining under the moonlight.

JOXER is carelessly walking around the corner and while looking around like on a tour he passes along the front of the temple.

Suddenly, TELESSILLA appears on the other end of the temple, the cap in her hand and so her blond hair shining though the night.

JOXER freezes in his movement, staring with wide open eyes at the figure in the distance. He stumbles to the side and leans, breathing heavily, against one of the columns.

Joxer

(silently, to himself)

Gabrielle? By Zeus …

He turns and stares at the entrance of the temple.

Joxer

(silently, to himself)

By Zeus, of course …

He turns back to face Telessilla and starts to walk towards her, but than he stops again and hides behind the next column.

Joxer

(silently, to himself)

But what if she finds out that I'm here to steal the scepter? She would hate me … at least she just ignored me until now, even in a friendly kind of way.

Joxer leans against the column, thoughtful.

Joxer

(silently, to himself)

I can't steal the scepter now … she would never understand. Even if it's for a good cause, she and Xena would have found another way.

Joxer looks again over to the temple's entrance.

Joxer

(silently, to himself)

Thank you, gods! From now on I won't do anything stupid anymore!

He pushes himself off the column and hurries into the night.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, Old Temple - Night

The old temple building, nothing more than a pile of rubble, lies empty under the dark sky. The entrance to the vault is still open.

MEG slowly walks towards the ruin, trying to look casually, almost bored. She stops at the edge of the temple area and looks around - but nobody can be seen. She steps into the shadow of one of the surviving pillars and waits.

A few moments later TELESSILLA walks up to the temple, a little less careful … she seems very angry. She still has the cap in one hand.

When she reaches the rubble she stops and looks around. When she sees the hole in the ground she nods satisfied. When she continues to look around she finally sees Meg.

Telessilla

It's you … who are you? What are you doing here?

Telessilla moves her free hand to the hilt of her dagger.

Meg makes a step forward and grabs the Chakram at her belt.

Meg

I could ask you the same questions.

Telessilla

Why did they think I'm with you when you kissed me?

Meg

I'm with a friend who … looks a little like you … in the dark … for a stranger … if covered.

Telessilla

So where is he now?

Meg

I don't now … he was captured by …

Meg stops talking abruptly, angry that she has told to much.

Telessilla

So your partner has been caught, too. Your after the scepter, right?

Meg

You're too?

Telessilla

Well, it's ultimate price. So where is your friend now … still in the barracks.

Meg

I checked, but he seems to have escaped.

Telessilla

And disappeared.

Meg

Yes … how do you know?

Telessilla

Mine too.

Meg

So …

Both women look at each other for a few silent moments.

Telessilla

You know how to get the scepter?

Meg

No … you know?

Telessilla

No … but my partner seems to have got relatively far before they dragged him away. Maybe I … we can get the scepter without their help.

Meg

Well … would be worth a try.

Telessilla

My name is Telessilla.

Meg

Mine's Meg.

Telessilla

What's with the outfit?

Meg

You've ever heard about Xena? She looks like me … and dresses like that.

Telessilla

Sure, my parents scared me with stories about her … must be a good ten years ago. My partner said, I look like her sidekick … Gab something. We used that to get an old guy to get us in here.

Meg

I thought you looked like Gabrielle … but she has much longer hair.

Telessilla slowly walks towards the hole in the ground, Meg following her closely.

Telessilla

Well … so they thought you are Xena and let you in. Do you know her?

Meg

Yes, actually. She's a friend. But she's dead, now.

Telessilla

Happens to all warriors sooner or later. I won't be that dumb … when I have enough I settle down.

Meg

You are a professional thief?

Telessilla

As professional as one can get.

Telessilla reaches the hole first and slowly starts to walk down the steps.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, Old Temple - Night

The old temple building lies again empty and quiet under the dark sky. A few sounds can be heard from the vault's entrance.

Meg (OFF)

Xena blocks the flow of blood to a man's brain by using her fancy pressure points ... but I simply redirect the blood into more precious parts.

Telessilla (OFF)

(laughing)

For a copy you're very original.

First MEG and than TELESSILLA walk up the stairs from the vault. Meg carries a leather bag in her hands which obviously contains a rod-like, yard-long form in it.

Meg

That wasn't to hard. Men … they always exaggerate.

Telessilla

Tell me about it … my partner told me some horror stories about the traps and obstacles in this vault. It turns out, the scepter is just openly lying around.

Meg

Like forgotten.

Telessilla

I wonder how the blood came on it.

Meg

As if someone was hit with it.

Telessilla

That has to hurt.

They walk over the remains of the old temple and stop when they reach the edge.

Meg

What now?

Telessilla

Now we run for it. I take a look around if everything is save and than we jut … leave.

Meg

What about our partners?

Telessilla

The men? Who needs men. We are a good team.

Telessilla carefully puts on her cap and checks her dagger.

Meg

You're probably right … still, I'd feel better if I knew what happened to Joxer.

Telessilla

Does he stumble into disaster sometimes?

Meg

All the time.

Telessilla

And he has survived until now?

Meg

Barely.

Telessilla

Than don't bother … he will stumble out of this, too.

Bias (OFF)

Stop it right there!

Both Meg and Telessilla turn around and see the head of the temple guards standing a few yards away, pointing his sword at them.

Meg, still holding the bag, and Telessilla look at each other. Before Meg can say anything Telessilla steps towards her, takes Meg's face in her hands and pulls it down to her lips.

Under the surprised stare of the guards commander they kiss intensely, both having their eyes closed.

After a few seconds Bias sighs, puts away his sword, turns and slowly marches away.

 

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, Old Temple - Night

The old temple building appears empty and quiet under the dark sky.

MEG is standing alone near one pillar, holding the bag with the scepter tightly.

At the other end of the old temple, yet unseen by Meg, JOXER approaches the rubble and stops at the edge of the ruins. He wears his cap and rubs his arms constantly, as if freezing.

Joxer

(silently, to himself)

I know I shouldn't so that … but it's for a good cause. Even Gabrielle cannot object to saving a mighty artifact from Roman claws.

Joxer finally sees Meg standing on the other side of the ruins.

Joxer

(silently, to himself)

There she is … what a loyal soul. I should talk to her … as long as I love Gabrielle it's unfair to have her worship me. Even so she is funny, confident, beautiful, great in … games … gives excellent … massages …

Joxer's thought's seem to wander off.

In the meantime Meg has noticed Joxer on the other side, waving at him.

Joxer

What … oh.

Joxer snaps out of his thoughts and waves back. Meg triumphantly shows him the bag and he gives her the thumb up. Than he gestures her to follow him towards the new temple. She nods and quickly hurries around the rubble while Joxer has already turned and walked off towards their escape.

Meg

That Telessilla really is a doer … Joxer would have needed hours to check the area or wouldn't have done it at all.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Dodona, Old Temple - Night

The old temple building appears again empty and quiet under the dark sky.

TELESSILLA approaches the ruin, looking around. When she sees no Meg her look becomes angry again.

Telessilla

That bitch … she played with me like a bard on a flute. But it's not over yet.

Autolycus (OFF)

It definitely isn't!

Telessilla swings around and watches Autolycus approach her from the other side of the temple.

Telessilla

Where have you been?

Autolycus

Let's just say I had an acute attack of conscience … it went away. Let's go down and get the scepter.

Telessilla

I … we already did that.

Autolycus

Who is we? And more important … where is the scepter?

telessilla

She got away with it.

Autolycus

She got away? You mean she hit you from behind and prayed the scepter from your unconscious body?

Telessilla

No … actually I let her hold it while I checked the area.

Autolycus

Haven't I learned you nothing? Oh, that hurts …

Telessilla

She can't be far, I was away only for a few minutes.

Autolycus

From now on, you will do as I tell you … maybe we can save the situation.

Telessilla

Only because I'm blond doesn't mean that I'm not more than a sidekick … at least I got the scepter and wasn't caught.

Autolycus sighs deeply.

Autolycus

Let's argue another time … we have a scepter to find.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Village near Dodona - Dawn

The village is quiet and empty, nobody seems awake yet.

JOXER marches towards the well in the middle of the village, MEG hurrying behind him.

Meg

Stop. Stop for a moment, I think my breast protectors are slipping down.

Joxer stops, casually waiting until Meg catches up with him. She is in the meantime working on the bronze parts of her armor, trying to keep them in place.

When she reaches Joxer and moves her attention towards him, she stops, surprised.

Meg

You're not … I mean …

Joxer

Good work, Meg. Can I take a look?

Joxer takes the bag off Meg's shoulder and peaks into it … he seems impressed.

Joxer

I would say, we did a good job … Meg?

Meg still stares at him, astounded.

Meg

Sure … sure we did.

Joxer

Okay, now we only have to wait for our contact.

Joxer turns and steps to the well. He puts the bag on top of the stone wall and sits down with his back leaning towards it.

Meg, slowly finding her composer again, walks up next to him and operates the well to get a bucket of water.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Village near Dodona - Dawn

While MEG and JOXER stay close to the well, TELESSILLA appears between two buildings that are part of the circle around it. She carefully observes the free area and watches Meg and her partner, the Xena look-alike drinking from the well while Joxer seems to sleep again.

Satisfied Telessilla moves back and turns towards Autolycus, how is sitting against the wall of one building, watching the other thief.

Telessilla

They are here … want to take a look?

Autolycus

No, I don't think so. What's your plan?

Telessilla

I lure her away and you go and grab the bag.

Autolycus

Simple … naive … unimaginative … I like it.

Telessilla

Wait here a minute … than you can go for it. Her partner seems to sleep.

Autolycus

What an ass.

Telessilla again moves towards the edge of the building and peeks across the corner.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Village near Dodona - Dawn

While JOXER actually sleeps against the side of the well, MEG has finished drinking and looks around nervously, waiting.

Suddenly she notices a figure waiving from one of the buildings … it's TELESSILLA, gesturing to meet her behind one of the adjacent buildings.

Meg looks at the sleeping Joxer and than she hurries towards the edge of the village. Telessilla, seeing that Meg follows her request, disappears behind the building.

Moments after MEG disappears between the houses, AUTOLYCUS appears and quickly runs towards the well. Without caring for - or recognizing - the sleeping Joxer he grabs the bag with the scepter and hurries back from where he came. On the way he checks the content of the bag and gives a satisfied grin.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Village near Dodona - Dawn

AUTOLYCUS reaches the small allay were he came from without anybody noticing.

Autolycus

Finally. Now nothing can go wrong anymore.

Suddenly Autolycus is hit with a thick club from above. The strike was blown by TELESSILLA, hidden on the straw roof of the smaller of the two buildings.

Autolycus

Ouch.

With a surprised look on his face he brakes down, unconscious.

Telessilla jumps down from the roof and drops the club next to him. With a satisfied grin she picks up the bag, checks its content and than quickly marches towards the other end of the allay.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Outside the village near Dodona - Day

It's a field on top of a hill only a few hundred yards outside the village near Dodona.

TELESSILLA happily wanders along a small, barely visibly path. She grabs the cap she is wearing and throws it high into the air.

Meg (OFF)

Hold it right there!

Telessilla freezes and the cap drops to the ground, uncaught.

MEG comes running up the hill and stops a few steps away from the thief who slowly turns towards her.

Telessilla

Go back home … an amateur should never try to do a professionals job.

Meg

I'm as professional as any other girl. We have a contact that will take good care of this artifact.

Telessilla

You have a fence on your hands?

Meg

A fence … you mean you wanted to sell the scepter?

Telessilla

You mean you don't?

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Village near Dodona - Day

Back in the allay AUTOLYCUS is slowly awaking from the vicious blow. While his eyes are still closed he moves one hand towards the bump on his head, where the club hit him. A painful sigh comes out when he touches it.

While he raises into a siting position, JOXER appears at the entrance of the allay - he seems sleepy and confused and he doesn't wear the cap anymore.

Joxer

Autolycus?

Autolycus opens his eyes and turns his head in surprise.

Autolycus

What are you doing here? Don't tell me it's already time for the yearly fools congress.

Joxer

No. And don't tell me it's already time for …

Autolycus

I don't have time to wait for your thought of the day … I'm busy. Go, play with the other kids.

Autolycus stands up, wincing in pain with every movement.

Joxer

Are you okay?

Autolycus

Actually, for once my head is more hurt than my pride … I think.

In the distance now angry voices can be heard, as if someone is having a very loud argument … the voices of two women can be heard, although the exact words are lost in the distance.

Autolycus and Joxer both freeze and listen for a moment. Than they look at each other. Finally they start to scramble towards the other end of the allay.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. Outside the village near Dodona - Day

On the field on top of the hill only a few hundred yards outside the village near Dodona TELESSILLA and MEG both hold one end of the bag, shouting at each other while pulling to get the bag loose.

From the village AUTOLYCUS and JOXER are running towards them.

Telessilla

Let go, you fake, or I'll kick your butt.

Meg

You and what army.

Telessilla

Oh my, I should probably fake being scared while you fake being tough.

Meg

I could wipe the floor with your ridiculous broom-like haircut any time.

Telessilla

I bet I can shove you out of your scanty outfit with one little sidekick.

Meg

That I would like to see.

Telessilla

You're not the only one.

Autolycus and Joxer now have reached the two fighting women. Both stop in amazement, staring at them. Meg and Telessilla notice that and turn towards them.

Joxer

Gabrielle?

Autolycus

Xena?

Telessilla

Autolycus!

Meg

Joxer!

Joxer

Meg!

Autolycus

Meg?

Telessilla

Joxer?

Autolycus

Telessilla!

Joxer

Telessilla?

Meg

Mister stinky?

Telessilla

Stop it! What's going on here?

Autolycus

You're Meg?

Meg

Yes.

Joxer

And you're not Gabrielle?

Telessilla

No, I'm Telessilla.

Autolycus

Now everything gets a little clearer.

Meg

Now I understand.

Telessilla

Slowly I get the picture.

Joxer

Could someone explain this all to me?

Autolycus

Good old Joxer … hasn't changed a bit. What brings you to Dodona?

Meg

We wanted to save a priceless artifact from Roman thieves.

Telessilla

We're not Romans!

Autolycus

She doesn't mean us.

Joxer

And you?

Autolycus

We wanted to save a priceless artifact, too.

Meg

From whom?

Telessilla

The question should be, for whom!

Joxer

You wanted to steal … the scepter?

Meg

Stop it … anybody calling it … the scepter … again, like it is some god or something gets my fingernails into their eyes.

Telessilla

Sold to some collector … it would be save from the Romans there, too.

Joxer

You used a Gabrielle look-alike … you soiled her memory for a simple robbery.

Autolycus

Believe me, we wouldn't be here, arguing, if it was that simple. But Xena and Gabrielle were my friends too, it wasn't an easy decision … but I thought Gabrielle would want me to survive, and with Telessilla the chances were not so bad … until she clobbered me from behind.

Joxer

You stole the scepter while I was sleeping!

Telessilla

You took the scepter from Meg, although we were the ones that retrieved it originally.

Meg

We did it for a good cause, you just did it for money.

Autolycus

I still don't think Xena would approve the use of her name, no matter how noble the theft is.

Voice (OFF)

I would agree there.

All four, Meg, Telessilla, Joxer and Autolycus, turn around towards the area were the voice came from.

Nobody else then ARES, the god of war, has appeared out of nowhere only a few feet away from the quarreling group.

Joxer

Ares!

Ares let's his look wander across the strange picture in front of him.

ARES

Now I'm a little confused.

Autolycus

I can understand that … we haven't sort it out yet, either.

Ares

Let me make it easy for you … you give me … the scepter …

Meg

Argh …

Ares

… and you can go.

Telessilla

Why should we do that?

Joxer

He's a god, you know. A real one.

Autolycus

And one of the angry sort.

Telessilla

Oh …

Ares

Oh, I'm not angry at all. You see, I was the one that gave Autolycus the idea to steal the scepter in the first place.

 

CUT TO:

COMMERCIAL BREAK

CUT TO:

EXT. Outside the village near Dodona - Day

On the field on top of the hill only a few hundred yards outside the village near Dodona TELESSILLA, MEG, AUTOLYCUS, JOXER and ARES all stand around the bag with the mysterious scepter in it - it is still held by the two women.

Telessilla

You wanted us to steal the scepter?

Meg

What is it with that thing anyway?

Ares

It's the scepter of Ganymede, an artifact of unimaginable power.

Autolycus

And why would you want me to steal it?

Ares

Zeus thinks it is save in the temple … but you saw how easy it was to steal it. I can take better care of it.

Joxer

Why did you want him to do it?

Ares

He is the king of thieves … why settle for less.

Telessilla

But you didn't ask him, you just manipulated him.

Autolycus

When destiny calls I usually don't listen.

Ares

Exactly, I knew greed would work much better on you.

Meg

But who asked us to steal the scepter, than.

Voice (Off)

Let me solve your problem.

Everybody turns their heads again … the newly arrived this time is CALLISTO. She wears the dark robe we have earlier seen on the informant, but the hood is pulled back.

Meg

The informant!

Joxer

Callisto!

Callisto

You're both right … bravo.

Callisto grabs the bag on one of the free corners.

Callisto

I take that. Goodbye.

In a sudden flash both Callisto and the bag holding the scepter of Ganymede disappears, leaving four astonished mortals and one angry god.

Ares

(shouting)

Argh!

Telessilla

Great … who was she now?

Joxer

That's a long story …

Autolycus

… and not a nice one. I thought she was … finally … dead, out of the picture.

Ares

She is more persistent than foot rot.

Meg

Gods have that problem too?

Ares

Do you know what that means! Do you know what she can do with the scepter? Do you know that you have probably brought our world to an end!

Autolycus

Now that's a little harsh … we've just done our job.

Joxer

She's only one woman … what could she do?


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