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The Vigilantes

by Sherrie Johnson (a.k.a. TrueBlue)


Fade in.

Xena and Gabrielle are walking through a village as Xena leads Argo. Gabrielle is smiling and waving at the people but they respond coldly.

Gabrielle: “Not too friendly here are they?”

As Xena and Gabrielle approach the edge of town a horse with an injured man draped over its back gallops into town. Xena stops the horse and she and Gabrielle lower the man to the ground. He is bloodied, battered and unconscious.

Xena: “He’s been badly beaten...and tortured. This head injury is serious.”

Gabrielle: (tearing at his clothes to make bandages) “Is he gonna’ make it?”

Xena, moving slowly, strokes the injured man’s head and looks up at Gabrielle. Xena reachs out and stills Gabrielle’s fantically bandaging hands. The man dies. Xena gets up and walks over to a group of soldiers.

Xena: “Those wounds are fresh. If we search the forest now we may be able to find the killer.”

Soldier: “We’re not going anywhere.”

Xena looks ready to start a fight with the soldiers but...

Gabrielle: “Xena!”

Xena gives the soldier an evil look and walks over to Gabrielle who is knelling by the body.

Gabrielle: “Look” (she pulls back the man’s shirt to reveal the word “thief” carved into his chest)

One of the villagers steps forward looking at the marks.

Villager #1: “Ha! He was a thief! Once again the village has been spared the acts of a criminal”.

Xena: (stepping up to the villager) “What do you mean, ‘again’? Who did this?”

Villager #2: “Our protector. THE Protector”.

Villager #1: “A cheer for the Protector - Callisto!”

Crowd: “Callisto! Callisto!”

Close up of Xena.

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.

Xena turns and storms away from the crowd. Gabrielle follows.

Gabrielle: “Callisto! What’s she doing in this part of the country? She must have escaped after you turned her over to those villagers last summer.”

Xena: “She was warlord then but she is up to something different now. Come on Gabrielle. You and I have an unscheduled audience with the King this afternoon.”

Xena and Gabrielle leave the scene.

Cut to the exterior of the castle. Xena takes out a couple of guards and gives Gabrielle a hand up though a window. Xena and Gabrielle battle some more guards until they get to the throne room. Xena directs Gabrielle to watch for soldiers at the door.

Xena steps up to the King who sits at a table in front of some papers.

King: (noticing Xena and jumping up) “Assassin! Guards!”

Xena: “I’m not an assassin. I just want to talk.” (She steps closer to the King. The King appears frightened) “Tell me about the Protector, Callisto.”

King: “I don’t want to talk about Callisto, that devil! I wish she would leave my kingdom!” (his eyes widen in fear) “You’re not with her are you?”

Xena: “No, I’m not with her. Tell me what she’s doing in this land”.

King: “What she’s doing? She’s terrorizing me! The royal treasury is empty for she routinely robs my tax collector. She’s robbed so many of my rich friends that they will no longer enter the kingdom to visit me. She gives the money to those wretched peasants and then she turns around and terrorizes them by tracking down every murderer, rapist, robber and pickpocket among them to (disdainfully) ‘sentence’ them for their crimes. The lucky ones she only beats to within an inch of their lives. We have laws you know! Fair trials for the accused. Sentences prescribed by code”.

Xena: “Declare her an outlaw”.

King: “I have!” (the King begins to wring his hands nervously and fret) “Ohh, but the people love her. She gives them money. She’s convinced them that there are criminals behind every corner. She’s told them that all of their problems are caused by those criminals and that I won’t do anything about them. Well the laws of the kingdom don’t give me the authority to hang a man without enough evidence”.

Xena: “You should send your soldiers...”

King: “Baah! I’ve ordered my soldiers to capture her. If I’m lucky they are only too incompetent to catch her”.

Xena steps out of the thrown room. The King is too wrapped up in his worries to notice her leaving. Gabrielle follows Xena as they sneak back out of the castle.

Gabrielle: “What did he mean if he was lucky his soldiers were incompetent.”

Xena: “If he’s unlucky his army has decided not to capture Callisto despite his order. He’s afraid he may be losing control of his kingdom. (pause, looking back toward the throne room) He’s probably right”.

Gabrielle: “Are you going to stop Callisto?”

Xena: “Gabrielle, that man who died may have been a thief but he deserved a fair trial. Yes, I’m going to stop her”.

Close up of Xena.

Fade out.

Fade in.

Daylight. We see Gabrielle and Xena as they walk along the forest. Xena is scrutinizing the ground; tracking.

Xena: “That murdered man’s horse was missing a shoe. We should be able to follow the tracks back to the site of the beating”.

Cut to Xena as she peers through some bushes into a campsite. A half dozen burly men terrorize a dirty, young man who is tied to a tree. They slice off bits of his clothes and hair with their knives.

Burly man #1: “Say your prayers. When Callisto returns she gonna’ deliver you to Hades”.

Victim: “Please...”

Burly man #2: “But first she’s gonna’ let us have some fun with you” (the burly men laugh).

Victim: “I was hungry! I’ll never steal again!”

Burly man #1: “You’re right. You’ll never steal again”.

Xena: (stepping forward, sword drawn) “Hand your prisoner over to me”.

The burly men draw their swords.

Xena: “I’m taking this man to the King who will give him a fair trial”.

Burly man #1: “He’s already been tried...and convicted. He stays here for his sentence...and you’ll be joining him!”.

The burly men attack. Xena defeats them after a battle and Gabrielle grabs the prisoner and takes him to safety. Just as the three get to Argo and are about to leave...

Callisto: (from high up in the trees) “Xena!”

Xena: “Callisto!”

Xena attacks and Callisto and Xena battle up in the trees. While fighting Callisto tells Xena that she has changed, that she fights for justice and to protect the innocent, just like Xena herself. Xena scoffs and continues fighting. At one point Gabrielle helps Xena by throwing Xena back her sword after Xena has lost it. The prisoner takes the opportunity to run away from Gabrielle. Just as the fight appears to end in a stalemate another burly man runs into the campsite.

Burly man #3: “Callisto! The raiders are early. They have arrived at the village. They are attacking!”

Callisto: (who is faced off with Xena) “A village is being attacked. Women and children are being killed. Xena, Protector of Innocents...duty calls”.

Xena breaks the face off with Callisto and jumps onto Argo.

Xena: “Working with raiders to pillage towns Callisto? You haven’t changed!”

Xena races off. Callisto follows with an order to Burly man #3 to assemble the men (who are waking up) and send them to the village. She jumps on her horse and follows Xena.

Cut to the melee at the same village from earlier.

Xena: (shouting to a villager) “Where are the soldiers!”

Villager: “I don’t know...they’re gone!”

Angerly Xena dives into the battle. Callisto gallops up. She finds Xena desperately battling too many raiders. Callisto approaches with sword drawn. Close up of Xena as she sees Callisto prepare to attack. Xena’s eyes widen in fear.

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.

Callisto fights off the attackers that are on Xena, much to Xena’s surprise. The two battle side by side against the raiders. One of the raiders shouts that they have been betrayed by the soldiers who had told them the village would be unprotected. As Xena and Callisto get control the burly men arrive to help mop up. Xena goes to help some wounded villagers. She turns to see Callisto raise her sword over the leader of the raiders who is helpless on the ground.

Xena: (shouting) “Callisto!”

Callisto plunges the blade into the man’s chest. She pulls it out with flourish and raises the bloody sword over her head.

Callisto: (to the villagers) “I am Callisto! I am your protector and you are my children. Any man who hurts you, robs you, or kills your family must answer to ME!”

The villagers cheer. Callisto throws a fistful of dinars at the crowd who scramble for the coins.

Close up of Xena as she scowls.

Fade out.

Fade in.

Interior of a village tavern turned makeshift hospital. Xena, Gabrielle and Callisto tend the wounded villagers. Callisto and Xena work side by side.

Callisto: (talking to Xena as she stitches up a patient) “Well Xena...I appear to be following in your foot steps. First a warlord, conquering villages, raiding towns, and now a fighter for justice. A vigilante defending the defenseless, rescuing innocents from the kind of villains we used to be. We appear to be two of a kind, you and I.

Xena spins around and angerly confronts Callisto.

Xena: “I don’t kill defenseless men!”

Callisto: (calmly, in the manner that she needled Xena in the jail cell during their last encounter) “Well, maybe you haven’t recently killed a man who couldn’t defend himself against you. Though I’ve seen you kill farmers who were trying to protect their families. Men armed with sticks who had no training to fight”.

Xena: “I’ve changed!”

Callisto: “Have you Xena? Have you really? often have you held under your sword a rapist, or a killer of children”,(the sounds of the victims groaning and talking in the background begin to fade. The camera moves in for a slow close-up between Xena and Callisto) and thought you could so easily run him through with your blade? How many times have you looked into the eyes of a demon and thought that with one quick move of your dagger the world would be a better place? (all the background noises are completely silent now and only Callisto’s voice is heard) How close have you come to that line Xena? A league? A yard? A breath away? (pause) That’s how far apart we are Xena. (pause) A breath away”.

Close up of Xena. Her face stony and unreadable but her eyes betray her fear.

Fade out to commercial.

Fade in.

Close up of Xena as she stares into space, lost in Callisto’s words. Off stage we faintly hear Gabrielle calling Xena’s name.

Gabrielle: (puts her hand on Xena’s shoulder) “Xena!” (Xena snaps out of her trance. Gabrielle warily eyes Callisto) “Xena, come walk with me”.

Xena gets up and stalks out of the tavern while Gabrielle follows.

Cut to the deserted village street at night. Xena walks briskly a little ahead of Gabrielle. Xena appears very angry while Gabrielle looks concerned. Xena grabs a post she finds leaning against a building and hurls it angerly across the road. She knocks over some crates.

Gabrielle: “She’s playing mind games with you, Xena. You can’t let her do that to you. You may be able to defeat her in battle but you can’t win at Callisto’s mind games”.

Xena: (turning to face Gabrielle) (desperately) “Gabrielle, you don’t understand...”

Gabrielle: (putting her hand up to Xena’s face and stroking her cheek, looking at her with pity) “I do understand. (pause) But if it’s a thin line you never cross it may as well be the widest chasm in the world” (a beat while the two look at each other) “Tonight, when the villagers have returned to their huts and Callisto’s men are asleep we will sneak into her tent and capture her. Then we will deliver her to the King for trial”.

Close up of Xena as she nods her head slightly.

Fade out.

Fade in.

Night time in the forest. The camera pans over Callisto’s men as they sleep on the ground near the campfire. One tent is erected in the campsite; it is Callisto’s.

Cut to Gabrielle and Xena as they crouch behind some bushes. Xena and Gabrielle hear voices coming from within Callisto’s tent.

Gabrielle: (whispering) “She has someone with her. We’ll have to come back later”.

Xena signals to Gabrielle to be quiet. She approaches the tent, crouches down and listens through the fabric.

(From inside the tent:)

Male voice: “General Sayer is loyal to the King. When he is killed I will take his place in command. Then our comrade General Thalomonius and I will lead the entire army. We will roust the King and his supporters from the castle...”.

Callisto’s voice: “And I will take the throne”.

Close up of Xena as her eyes widen.

Male voice: “You have the support of the people”.

Callisto: “Go then. And by the time the sun reaches its zenith tomorrow the kingdom will have its new queen”.

Xena crouches down a little lower as a high ranking soldier leaves the tent. Then...

Gabrielle: “Xena!”

Gabrielle is hauled out of the bushes by a couple of Callisto’s men. Xena draws her sword but cannot attack because one of the men holds a knife to Gabrielle’s throat. There is a commotion while the rest of the men are awakened by the noise and Callisto flies out of her tent, sword in hand. Shot of Xena and Gabrielle surrounded by drawn swords.

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.
Callisto: “Lay down your sword Xena, or I order my men to kill your little friend”.

With a sneer Xena complies.

Callisto: “Tie them up”.

Callisto’s men jump on Gabrielle and Xena.

Cut to dawn at the campsite and a shot of Xena and Gabrielle, tied together back to back, sitting on the ground. Two of Callisto’s men guard them carefully with swords in hand while the rest of the camp busily prepares to move out. Callisto walks up to Xena and Gabrielle.

Callisto: “What were you planning, Xena? What crime have you committed? Conspiracy to commit a murder? (pause) My murder? I don’t have time to deal with you two right now but when I return I shall get your way or another.”

Xena: (sneering) “Why do you need confessions to kill us Callisto”.

Callisto: “Evidence, my dear woman. It wouldn’t be a fair trial without evidence, now would it?”

Callisto laughs, mounts her horse and rides off with her men except for the two guards who carefully watch Xena and Gabrielle.

Cut to a little later at the camp site. Xena and Gabrielle are still tied up and the guards are still watching them closely. Xena tries to surreptitiously struggle with her bonds but one of the guards quickly threatens her with his sword. Xena stops struggling. After a pause Xena looks around the campsite and from her point-of-view we see a bush with berries on it at the edge of the clearing.

Xena: “Gabrielle look. The gozzel berries are in season, those are your favorite aren’t they?”

Gabrielle: (confused) “Gozzel berries?” (she looks around and spots some) “Xena, you know what happened the last time I ate gozzel berries.”

Xena: (yanking on their ropes and sounding annoyed) “Yes I DO know what happened”. (then more sweetly) “You ate a whole bunch of them and ENJOYED them immensely!”

Gabrielle: “Well sure, if you call squatting in the woods all day and...” (hard yank by Xena. Sudden realization by Gabrielle) “...and eating tons of berries until I couldn’t eat anymore ‘enjoyment’, oh, I really enjoyed them! As soon as we get away from Callisto we’ll have to pick a whole bunch of them for dinner”.

Guard #1: “You’re not getting away from Callisto”.

Guard #2 strolls over to the berry bush and starts to eat a couple. Guard #1 follows and pretty soon they are stuffing their faces with berries and scuffling over the best ones.

Cut to some time later in the campsite. Xena and Gabrielle are still tied up but the guards are doubling over and grabbing their stomachs. Xena and Gabrielle watch them. Soon one drops his weapon and runs into the woods. The other follows suit.

Xena: “Well they should be indisposed for at least a couple of hours. Come on Gabrielle, get up”. They struggle to their feet. Shot of Gabrielle’s p.o.v. as she looks at one of the swords.

Gabrielle: “This way Xena!”

Gabrielle pulls the two in her direction a couple of steps and then stops as an annoyed Xena gets control and hauls them off the opposite way.

Gabrielle: “Or we could go your way”.

Cut to a shot of Xena racing through the woods on Argo. Then cut to another shot from the interior of the castle walls of Xena as she pulls trough the castle gates and looks into the court yard. Cut to a shot of Xena’s p.o.v. as she sees on a stage the king kneeling before Callisto. Behind Callisto are her men and the soldiers and in front of Callisto, below the level of the stage, are a crowd of villagers cheering Callisto on. Callisto raises the crown above her and spots Xena. She smiles...and lowers the crown onto her head. The people cheer. Callisto’s lieutenant spots Xena as well and offers to send a party after her. Callisto stops him.

Callisto: “There may still be forces within the castle loyal to the King and we must have all of our resources available to defend against them. Xena can’t do anything now. I am the queen of this kingdom. I will deal with Xena when we meet again”.

Xena, on Argo, turns away. She stops to look over her shoulder at Callisto (close up of Xena)...and then leaves.

The End.

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