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Sweet, Sweet Siren

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FADE IN

EXT. CAMPSITE

Mid morning, XENA and GABRIELLE are clearing their campsite near a river. The last of it is almost packed. They both look tired but happy. GABRIELLE rolls up their bedroll, strapping it to ARGO, who grazes while she waits. XENA packs the last of the food into their satchel, singing as she works.

XENA
[Singing]
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands its toll.

GABRIELLE
Song of Seikilos!

XENA
[Smiles, picks a new song]
As storm winds foundered their bolted chest
and mouthing breakers hollered them about,
she wrapped her arms around her son and wept
into his ear, "Pale child, while night fears rise
to fuel this storm, death-bound in our brass-ribbed
boat you sleep the sleep of infancy.

GABRIELLE
Simonides.

With the campsite packed and ready, XENA mounts ARGO. She extends her hand to GABRIELLE and helps her up behind her on the saddle. She gives ARGO a gentle kick and they’re off at a leisurely pace.

XENA
If we hug the coast we’ll reach Thrace easier than going direct. Plus, we need to stop at the next town and restock food if we’re going that far. Mineas is closest, a few hours ride north.

GABRIELLE
[Still invested in their game]
You’ve got to be better than that to stump me, Warrior Princess. What, are you still waking up?

XENA
Yes, actually. You snore like a hydra with pan flutes up every nose.

GABRIELLE
[Mockingly]
Gods, it must be hard being so perfect.

XENA
[Leans back, kisses GABRIELLE softly]
Oh, it is – a real burden.

 

CUT TO:
EXT. EDGE OF RURAL VILLAGE
The game continues, the two women laughing and joking. They’re passing farmland where occasionally workers pause to look up at them. Ahead is a quiet seaside town, looking empty from a distance. GABRIELLE begins to notice they’re being watched but she dismisses it. She gives XENA a gentle nudge.

GABRIELLE
I’m waiting.

XENA
[Singing]
Skimming down the paths of the sky's bright ether
On they brought you over the earth's black bosom,
Swiftly--then you stood with a sudden brilliance-

Screams from the nearby villagers fill the air. ARGO startles and rears, GABRIELLE grabs XENA around the waist to keep from toppling backwards.

XENA
Steady, Argo! Easy!

Everybody in earshot is curled on the ground with their hands over their ears.

XENA
Everybody’s a critic.

GABRIELLE
Xena, we’ve got company.

GABRIELLE nods her head toward the old woman hurrying towards them, holding up her skirt so she doesn’t trip. She appears frantic, puffing from running. She has balls of fabric stuffed in her ears.

WOMAN
[Almost shrieking]
Was it one of you singing? Was it?!

XENA
It was me. What about it? Singing’s not a crime.

WOMAN
Turn back! You can’t go any further!

XENA
[Confused and cautious]
We’re just here for supplies. We’re not staying.

WOMAN
[Looking around nervously, wringing her hands]
Go another route – you can’t come through here!

GABRIELLE dismounts ARGO, holding her hands up gently.

GABRIELLE
It’s okay – take it easy. I’m Gabrielle. This’s Xena. What’s going on?

The woman stops, staring wide-eyed and nervous as XENA hops down from the horse.

WOMAN
Xena? As- as in Warrior Princess Xena? D-Destroyer of-

XENA
Just ‘Xena’ is fine.

GABRIELLE
Why turn back?

There’s silence as the woman’s eyes rests on their weapons.

WOMAN
I think you should come with me. Just- please, be quiet.

XENA and Gabrielle exchange a look. XENA takes the first step, leading ARGO by the reigns, and the three walk tensely towards the village. People cast nervous glances and scurry out of sight as they head down the main road. It’s otherwise deserted.

GABRIELLE
[Whispers]
Xena...they-

XENA
I see it.

Every person has fabric crammed in his or her ears. The old woman leads them to a tavern where they tie ARGO outside. Inside is a crowd of people. Everybody stops and stares as the warriors enter. A group parts as a young man moves through them. He’s red faced and glaring alternately between the woman and the warriors.

MAN
Aegis, what in Tartarus do you think you’re doing? Bringing outsiders in? And you two! What are you doing here? Get back on your horse and go home!

AEGIS cowers slightly but XENA doesn’t flinch. She straightens up.

XENA
My name is Xena. Want to tell me what’s going on?

AEGIS
Heral, maybe they can help! This’s Xena – the Xena!

HERAL
…Are you really? That would make you-

GABRIELLE
Gabrielle. Listen, maybe we can help, but we can’t if you don’t tell me what’s going on. Where is everybody? Why do you have cloth in your ears?

HERAL frowns in thought. Everybody else is fearful or suspicious.

HERAL
Sirens.

GABRIELLE
Sirens? As in singing, luring sailors-

HERAL
On our shores. I- we’re a fishing village – we WERE – but we’ve been chased from our waters. These- these things. They sing – so sweet – luring people to the water and…

GABRIELLE
That explains the fabric, to block the sound. So, when Xena sang-

AEGIS
It…it was so beautiful, we thought…
[Sniffles, wipes her eyes on her sleeve]

XENA
How long has this been happening?

HERAL
A month. We’ve had to send people away, its too dangerous. If this doesn’t end…we’ll all have to leave. None of us are safe. They sing at random, day or night. We never know who or when…

GABRIELLE
How many people have you lost?

AEGIS
Four, so far. They took my son.

HERAL
[Places a comforting hand on Aegis’ back]
There’s nothing to be done. I’m sorry but, please, you need to leave. It’s not safe!

GABRIELLE
Xena-

XENA
Way ahead of you.
[Drops her satchel on the table.]
How much for a room?

FADE OUT

INTRO

In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings...
A land in turmoil cried out for a hero.
She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle.
The power...the passion...the danger...
Her courage will change the world.