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XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS
"THE FAULT LINE"
by Eddie A. Palmer

Disclaimers:

If you have any comments, ideas or suggestions concerning my scripts, I would be pleased to hear from you. You can reach me at palmer555@Juno.com

© copyright 1998, Eddie A. Palmer. The characters Xena,Gabrielle, Argo, Hercules, Eolaus, Autolycus, Cyrene, and Joxer, as well as the title XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS are the copyright property of the syndicated TV series of the same name, MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in writing these scripts. All other characters, story ideas and the stories themselves are the sole property of the author. These scripts cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of thess scripts 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, and may not be republished without the authorís consent.

VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL CONTENT: The violence depicted here is relatively mild and not graphicly described. There is almost no sexual content in this script. Now, in my personal fantasies... well, I guess that doesnít really matter.

Finally, let me say, I wrote these scripts out of love for the characters and the stars of XWP. I am posting them here as a tribute to those wonderful and talented people who mean more to me than I can fully express here.



TEASER

FADE IN:

EXT. LARGE CROWDED VILLAGE - DAY

The villagers are in the midst of their harvest festival. Everyone is dressed in their colorful best, and everyone is talking and laughing as they move along from one attraction to another: a fortune teller, a fire eater, a juggler, minstrels, bobbing for apples, a pie eating contest, various games of luck and skill, food concessions, piles of fruits and vegetables.

XENA makes her way through the excited crowd. She looks around as if she is uncertain about where to go. Noticing that the FORTUNE TELLER is presently unoccupied, she walks over to his table which is set up under an awning. The fortune teller, turban and all, stands and bows.

FORTUNETELLER Welcome! Please, have a seat. XENA I just need some information. FORTUNETELLER That's what I'm here for! Just sit right there.

He points to the chair on Xena's side of the table, so Xena gives in and accepts the offer. They both sit.

XENA (looking around) What's going on here? FORTUNETELLER (laughs) That one's too easy! You're new around here.
This is our annual Harvest Festival.
Very big in these parts, because the work is over for a while,
and there's lots of dinars in the coffers!
XENA (glancing around) Not to mention in everybody's pockets. FORTUNETELLER Exactly! Business is good!

The fortune teller is gazing into his crystal ball sitting on the table.

FORTUNETELLER (intrigued) My, you're really quite a gutsy lady. Amazing! Why,
your courage will change the world.
XENA (deadpan) For the better? FORTUNETELLER (laughs) For the better? Of course, for the better!

Xena stands and tosses a coin on the table, then turns and walks away, saying:

XENA I don't need my fortune told. I make my own destiny. FORTUNETELLER (chasing after her) Hey, wait a minute. Where are you going in such a hurry? XENA I'm looking for a girl. FORTUNETELLER (sadly shaking his head) Aren't we all? XENA Young, pretty, strawberry blonde. Walks softly and carries a big stick.
Her name is Gabrielle.

They come to an area where the crowd thins out, and the structures are more rundown. Boxes and crates are stacked in various locations. ROUGH CHARACTOR #1 runs from a dark alley, brandishing a knife.

ROUGH CHARACTER #1 Your money or...

Still looking straight ahead, Xena throws a hard punch to the would-be robber's nose. He crashes through a stack of wooden boxes.

FORTUNETELLER (with a perplexed look) With the festival and all the beautiful women running here and there,
now that's a hard one! Does she have any really distinguishing features?
XENA (without hesitation) She has a big mouth! FORTUNETELLER (delighted) Oh, her! Yes, she's working as a barmaid at the Apple Barrel Inn.
(points) Just down this way.
XENA Gabrielle, a barmaid? I don't think so. She's a... sort of a bard. FORTUNETELLER (nods) Bards are always popular, but the pay around here for
bards is really low scale, know what I mean? I bet you it's
her at the Apple Barrel.

Another would-be robber rushes from behind a stack of crates with an even bigger knife.

ROUGH CHARACTER #2 Your money or...

Without looking or breaking her stride, Xena kicks him into the air and he lands on top of a stack of crates.

FORTUNETELLER (astonished, yet reserved) This girl, this Gabrielle, is she a criminal, run away from home, or what? XENA No, we're friends, and we had a difference of opinion. FORTUNETELLER Oh, really? XENA Actually, she disagreed with my opinion. Don't I have a
right to my opinion, too?
FORTUNETELLER Certainly! And what was your opinion? XENA That she has a big mouth, and that she should keep it
shut sometimes.

From another alley, comes another would-be robber, ROUGH CHARACTOR #3, with an even bigger knife.

ROUGH CHARACTER #3 Your money or...

Xena, without missing a beat, kicks him through a wall.

FORTUNETELLER You know what, just as a novelty, next time let's let the
guy finish the sentence. (beat) I have the answer!
Now, get this, separate vacations.

Xena stops walking and turns to face the Fortune Teller.

XENA (puzzled) Separate vacations? FORTUNETELLER (enthusiastic) Works wonders with married couples, comedy teams,
writing partners, business partners, siblings, crime fighting duos,
rock groups, you name it!
XENA (doubtful) Aren't you losing business?

Following Xena's lead, they resume walking.

FORTUNETELLER I'm on my break. Besides, I want to be there when you find this Gabrielle.
Are you gonna kick her through a wall or something?
XENA Of course, not! I told you, we're friends. FORTUNETELLER So, you're going to apologize, and everything will be OK? XENA (taken aback) Me apologize? Maybe I should rethink this kicking her through the wall idea.

The Fortune Teller is staring at her.

XENA Oh, look, I would never intentionally do anything to hurt Gabrielle.
I came here to get her, and that's what I'm going to do. Now, where is this Inn?
FORTUNETELLER (points) Just up this way.

They continue walking, slowly making their way, as the crowd is again growing thicker and thicker. The celebrating people are a rainbow stream rapidly flowing in all directions.

FADE OUT:

END OF TEASER





ACT ONE

FADE IN:

EXT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - DAY

A large wooden sign above the entrance depicts a foaming mug of beer.

Xena and the Fortune Teller make their way through the excited crowd and enter the multistoried building.

INT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

Xena and the Fortune Teller make their way from the entrance, across the crowded room toward the bar. Xena carefully scans the large room, but doesn't discover anything of interest, not even an empty seat.

Xena sees a man leave a stool at the end of the bar. She quickly moves to claim it and sits, the Fortune Teller still at her side.

FORTUNETELLER I'll just wait over there. XENA (fakes a smile) Fine, you do that, but where is the girl you were talking about? FORTUNETELLER (moving off) I'm sure she's around.

GABRIELLE comes through a door behind the bar carrying a large tray of clean mugs. She places them on a table and turns to survey the bar. She realizes there is a new customer on the last stool.

GABRIELLE (tired and bored) So, what'll it be?

Gabrielle glances up and realizes it's Xena. She isn't happy about the revelation.

GABRIELLE Oh, it's you. XENA Nothing for me, thanks, except a little conversation. GABRIELLE No drink, no seat, no talk. XENA All right, give me an ale. GABRIELLE It's your stomach.

Gabrielle steps back, grabs a mug and walks down the bar to draw the ale from a large wooden barrel. Xena looks around impatiently, clicking her tongue, and tapping her fingers on the bar. Gabrielle returns with the filled mug and sits it in front of Xena.

GABRIELLE That'll be two dinars. XENA (outraged) Two dinars! For a mug of ale? GABRIELLE (disgusted) It's festival! Xena, must you always be so... (beat)... cheap? XENA (angry) Cheap!? Me, cheap!?

Xena catches herself and forces herself to control her anger and be more diplomatic.

XENA You're right, sometimes I can be too... frugal. GABRIELLE Cheap. XENA All right, cheap. Now can we just move on? GABRIELLE (extending her hand) I'll be glad to move on, when you pay me. X

ena quickly drops the money into Gabrielle's hand.

XENA Gabrielle, what do you think you're doing, working in a place like this? GABRIELLE You think I can't take care of myself, don't you? XENA I didn't say that. I just didn't expect to find you in a bar. Don't they have a nice school that needs a good teacher? GABRIELLE No, they don't. I was going to pick apples, but the harvest is over.
Anyway, listen, Xena, sparing with the gods, deposing evil kings, fighting warlords,
and slaying mean giants is not the only way to make an honest living, you know!?
XENA I know. I know. But, look, c'mon now, why don't you get your stuff
and let's you and me blow this joint?
GABRIELLE Who do you think you are? You think you can walk in here and give me orders,
and I'll just tag right along like a little puppy dog?
XENA You followed me like a little puppy dog once. Nothing could make you stay away. GABRIELLE Yeah, well, maybe that was a mistake. XENA All right, but can we just talk about it... like adults? GABRIELLE I really think that could be too big of a reach for you, Xena. And, anyway,
the last time I saw you, you told me to keep my big mouth shut!
XENA I didn't mean it. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. It was all my fault! I was just having a bad day, OK? GABRIELLE (not buying it) I have work to do.

Gabrielle turns to walk away, but Xena stops her.

XENA Wait! I think this ale is getting to me. Where's the ...you know? GABRIELLE You haven't even touched the ale, but the you know is out back, where did you expect to find it? XENA (softly) Can we talk later? GABRIELLE (not looking at Xena) Oh, I don't know, Xena. I just don't know how I feel anymore.

Xena clamps her teeth tightly and rolls her eyes.

GABRIELLE I saw that, Xena. XENA (innocently) Saw what? You weren't even looking at me! GABRIELLE (looking at Xena) You have this way of rolling your eyes when something disgusts you. Well, if I disgust you,
I really don't think we have anything to talk about, Xena, do you?

Gabrielle walks away behind the bar, and Xena goes out the back door, impatiently shaking her head.

EXT. THE VILLAGE - SAME

Fifteen men on horseback quickly ride into the village, shouting threats and waving swords. Several of the villagers try to resist the attack, but they are viciously killed. At first there is much SCREAMING, but it ends as the attackers get the upper hand. Half of the wild gang of outlaws surrounds the villagers, while the other half of the gang dismounts in front of The Apple Barrel Inn and hurries inside.

EXT. BACKYARD OF THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

As Xena rushes out of the out building and runs to the corner of the main building. She looks down a narrow alley to see the commotion going on up front. She hears SCREAMS from inside the Inn, and she turns back to approach the back entrance. She stops and looks up. She decides to climb the thick vines that run up a lattice that connects all of the rear balconies.

INT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

The large bar room is a confusion of threatening killers and terrified villagers. The outlaws are herding the people over to one side of the room. Three particularly dirty and mean-looking gang members drag Gabrielle from behind the bar and up the stairs. She struggles to no avail, and the savages only laugh at her attempts. I<

PNT. SECOND FLOOR OF THE INN - SAME

Xena is standing at the far end of the corridor. The outlaws just stop and stare at her for a moment.

XENA You boys looking for a little action? I'd be real glad to accommodate you.

The three hoodlums drop Gabrielle and rush toward Xena. The first man dives high with his attack, so Xena merely grabs him and guides him through the window behind her. She whirls back around, jumps and kicks the other two. They flip backward and solidly hit the floor. Xena walks forward as the men are attempting to stand. She smashes one through the wall to the right, and the other through the wall to the left.

INT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

Gabrielle rushes down the stairs and back behind the bar. She then stands there with everyone else, looking up and listening to all the VIOLENT SOUNDS. Suddenly, a body crashes through the ceiling and lands on the bar, along with a downpour of debris. A moment later, a second body crashes through the ceiling and lands on the other end of the bar.

Three outlaws are standing near the bar opposite Gabrielle. One of them, CORK, the gang leader, pounds the butt of his sword on the bar to get Gabrielle's attention.

CORK Who... or what is up there? GABRIELLE You're asking me? CORK You work here, don't you? GABRIELLE I just work here, I don't know what's going on.

Xena casually walks down the stairs, sword in hand.

XENA Maybe I can help. What do you want to know? CORK (surprise, bordering on shock) Xena! XENA (nods and smiles) Yep, that's me! (a beat) Cork, it's been a long time.
So, this is your little gang of cutthroats. You just keep sinking lower and lower.
And, here, I thought I'd already taught you better.

Cork signals for the two men on either side of him to go after Xena. The two men rush forward, their swords ready. Xena parries one thrust, while she kicks the other man. She then blocks another thrust and kicks the second man unconscious. Xena turns to Cork, smiles and motions "Come here". Cork raises his sword and slowly steps forward.

CORK (firmly, with hate and anger) You don't know who you're dealing with, Xena. XENA Oh, I know exactly who and what I'm dealing with, Scumbag!

Cork suddenly makes a fast desperate lunge for his target. Xena smoothly sidesteps and runs the man through. With her left hand over Cork's face, Xena pushes him backward and extracts her sword. The man stands silently for a moment, then falls backward to the floor. The several other outlaws in the room make for the door, and the bar crowd roars with delight.

EXT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

The outlaws rush out of the Inn and quickly mount their horses. One of them blows a shell horn, obviously a signal of retreat. The outlaws ride away, and the crowd cheers loudly.

INT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

The crowd inside the Inn is cheering Xena, as she makes her way to the bar.

GABRIELLE This is so like you, Xena! XENA What are you talking about? GABRIELLE Just look at this mess! You couldn't just take them into custody, oh no,
you had to throw them through the ceiling!
XENA Actually, I threw them through the floor. They just happen to come out your ceiling. GABRIELLE I'm just pointing out, that you could have handled it differently. XENA I could have done nothing! Where would that leave you? GABRIELLE That's right, Xena! Go ahead and throw it in my face how many times
you've had to come to my rescue! Well, you don't have to bother with me anymore!

Gabrielle moves off down the bar, and Xena looks like she is about to scream.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT ONE





ACT TWO

FADE IN:

INT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - DAY

Xena is sitting on a stool near the end of the bar. The Fortune Teller and several other people approach Xena.

FORTUNETELLER Xena, I represent the village council, and we would like to have a word with you. XENA Sure, what's up? FORTUNETELLER Would you mind joining us in the other room where we can talk in private? XENA All right.

The Fortune Teller indicates the way, and they all walk toward the nearby door.

FORTUNETELLER We also have something to show you.

INT. AN OFFICE ADJOINING THE BAR - SAME

Xena, the Fortune Teller, and a half dozen villagers file into the room and encircle a table on which sits a wooden chest reinforced with ornate metal banding and fancy corner brackets.

FORTUNETELLER Those men were after this, Xena. XENA What's in it? FORTUNETELLER A small fortune, which basically represents an entire year of very hard work for
every man, woman, and child in this village.
XENA I don't understand. How can I be of service to you? FORTUNETELLER I live in this village, Xena, but I am the Royal Tax Collector. This is our
annual tribute to the king. We want to hire you to safely deliver this chest,
along with those outlaws out there, to the king.
We'll pay you two-hundred dinars, and you can be back here in
two or three days.
XENA Doesn't the King have soldiers? FORTUNETELLER Only a few Palace Guards. We're actually a small, poor kingdom. XENA I'm not a hired sword for those who can afford to pay. (she has a thought)
However, in this case I will make an exception and accept your very generous offer.
We'll need a wagon for the chest and the prisoners.
FORTUNETELLER You got it, no problem! XENA Can you supply a wagon driver and at least one man to watch the prisoners? FORTUNETELLER It's done. Do you want to leave right away? XENA No time like the present. That gang could pick a new leader and come back, just anytime.

O.s., loud cheering can be heard outside the building.

XENA (reacts to the sounds) Well, the people around here sure are an enthusiastic bunch. FORTUNETELLER (laughs) Everybody loves a hero, Xena! You certainly know that! You should be use to it by now. XENA Yeah, right. Whatta you say, we get this show on the road!

The group walks out of the room.

INT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

Xena and the Fortune Teller, followed by the others, emerge into the bar area. The loud cheering that was outside, suddenly erupts inside the bar.

Xena smiles broadly and turns to wave at the excited crowd, but she realizes they aren't paying any attention to her at all. She looks at her own hand in the air, and self-consciously lowers it. And, at the same time, she sees Gabrielle watching her and judgmentally shaking her head.

The rowdy crowd is clustered around a tall man with long hair and a bushy beard, wearing a crudely-made thick-fur coat. The celebrating mob flows up to the bar. Gabrielle is steadily pouring drinks.

FORTUNETELLER (at Xena's side) Why, that's Merlyck. XENA The explorer? FORTUNETELLER Yeah, that's right. Local boy makes good! He lectured
at the academy in Athens. They use his journals in
the curriculum of world studies.
XENA Impressive. I gather he's been away for a long time? FORTUNETELLER Over five years this time. There were rumors he was dead. I'm glad they
were false, he's a fine man.
XENA Does he have family here? FORTUNETELLER No, not anymore. His mother died five years ago.
That's probably one reason he doesn't get back too often. That and the fact that he
goes off to the far corners of the world.

Xena walks to the end of the crowded bar and motions for Gabrielle. Gabrielle, with a full mug in both hands, reacts disapprovingly. Xena motions more insistent, so Gabrielle sits the mugs on the bar and hurries down to Xena.

GABRIELLE (angrily) Can't you see I'm busy? XENA (not caring) Yeah, I see. GABRIELLE What do you want? XENA I have a job to do. The villagers have asked me to deliver their taxes to their king. GABRIELLE (trace of sarcasm) That's great, Xena! Go and do your hero thing. XENA I can use your help. We are still a team, aren't we?

The crowd grows restless and demanding.

A MAN IN THE CROWD AT THE BAR (loud and demanding) Gabrielle! Oh, Gabrielle, our hero needs another ale! ANOTHER MAN Yeah, and I do, too!

The crowd LAUGHS EVEN LOUDER.

Gabrielle looks at the men, waves and smiles.

GABRIELLE Be right there! XENA I'll split the money with you. You'll make more in two days than you
will make here in a month.
GABRIELLE You're accepting payment for your services now, are you? XENA Well, it is a job, so I just figured, why not? GABRIELLE No! No, you thought you could bribe me into coming with you.
(staring at Xena and slowly shaking her head) It's becoming more and more
obvious that you just aren't the person I thought you were.
XENA (guilty and slightly embarrassed, but tries to hide it with anger) I don't know what you're talking about! A job is a job. So, are you coming are not? GABRIELLE The answer is no, Xena. I'm just not interested.

The crowd shouts for Gabrielle again.

XENA (glancing down the bar) Very well, if you have better things to do... GABRIELLE Yes, I have better things to do.

Xena turns and walks away, with deep disappoint clearly displayed on her face.

EXT. THE APPLE BARREL INN - SAME

The crowd is beginning to thin, but many people are still walking around. Riding Argo, Xena motions for the wagon to follow her, as she heads out. Two villagers are on the wagon seat, the chest and the four tied prisoners in back.

EXT. GARDEN BEHIND THE INN - EARLY MORNING

Gabrielle, wearing a beautiful white dress, is sitting at a large round table under the branches of a large tree. There is a nice lawn, with many well-tended plants to finish out the landscape. It is a picture out of "Home and Garden", circa sometime BC.

There is a bowl of apples, bread, cheese, a water pitcher, and drinking cups on the table. There is also a small stack of scrolls, blank parchment, and a writing pen, which Gabrielle presently has in her hand. She is staring at the blank page, but her mind seems to be somewhere else far away.

Merlyck appears on the second-floor balcony, almost directly above Gabrielle. He is now clean shaven with a well-groomed haircut. He has traded his furs for a new white shirt and a brown vest. He stretches, then looks down at Gabrielle.

MERYLCK (projecting) Good morning. GABRIELLE (projecting) Oh, good morning. Would you like some breakfast? MERYLCK May I join you? GABRIELLE Certainly! Come on down. MERYLCK Thank you. I'll be right there.

Merlyck smiles and hurries back inside. Gabrielle puts down the pen, smoothes her dress and brushes back strands of her hair. She seems a little nervous or uncertain about the situation. She picks up the pen and makes a big effort to look busy and deeply engrossed in her writing. Merlyck emerges from the ground-level entrance and walks to the table opposite Gabrielle, who looks up and smiles.

GABRIELLE (slight laugh) I must say, you certainly clean up very nicely. MERYLCK (laughs) Well, it's good to feel, and hopefully look, human again
instead of like one of those creatures I've seen scurrying
through dark, distant jungles! I believe
they sometimes mistake me for a relative.
GABRIELLE (smiles) Well, last night you reminded me of a bear, but this
morning you are a regular proper gentleman.
MERYLCK Thank you, Gabrielle, isn't it? GABRIELLE Yes, that's right. MERYLCK I'm afraid last night is a bit fuzzy. GABRIELLE (smiles) I can imagine.

Merlyck just quietly looks at Gabrielle for a moment.

MERYLCK You are an absolute vision, sitting here in the garden, in the morning sun. GABRIELLE You certainly have been in the remote corners of the
world for a while, haven't you? No women for thousands of miles, huh?
MERYLCK Now, you're teasing me. GABRIELLE A little. (beat) Anyway, this is my first payday and my
first day off, so I treated myself to a new dress. How do you like it?
MERYLCK That dress is almost as beautiful as the woman wearing it. GABRIELLE Thank you. Now, please sit down, because your head obviously
isn't clear yet! Some food will help you feel better.

Merlyck sits and takes an apple from the bowl.

MERYLCK Apples have always meant home to me. I was practically raised on apples!
I have played and worked in every orchard around here.
GABRIELLE (studying his face) This place and the people here obviously mean a lot to you, yet you chose to leave here, why? MERYLCK No, you've got it wrong. I didn't choose to leave here, I just wanted to know
what was out there beyond the horizon. To go places and see things that
no one else even knows exists.
GABRIELLE Yeah, I can understand that. MERYLCK Besides, it's important to learn all we can about
the world we live in, and to pass that knowledge on to
future generations. I see it as a sacred responsibility that I can
not turn my back on.
GABRIELLE I certainly admire your dedication.

Merlyck looks at the stack of scrolls and parchment.

MERYLCK I would guess your passion is for writing. So, what do you write? GABRIELLE I use to write fables and poems, because I have always
wanted to be a bard, but now I find it more interesting to
write about real people and events.
MERYLCK May I read some of your stories? GABRIELLE (smiles again, but hesitates) I don't usually let people read my stuff, but I could make an exception. I have the
feeling that you would really understand.

Gabrielle picks up one of the scrolls and hands it to Merlyck.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE GARDEN BEHIND THE INN - SAME

Gabrielle and Merlyck are still sitting at the table. Gabrielle is writing, while Merlyck continues to read. The stack of scrolls has now moved to Merlyck's side of the table. Merlyck puts down the last scroll.

MERYLCK This Xena person, sounds like a remarkable woman. Just who is she? GABRIELLE You've never heard of Xena, the Warrior Princess? MERYLCK Not much news where I go. GABRIELLE Never heard of Xena. Merlyck, I'm beginning to like you more and more. MERYLCK Let's go for a walk. GABRIELLE Sure! Help me put this stuff away?

They stand and begin gathering scrolls and parchment.

CUT TO:

EXT. AN APPLE ORCHARD - SAME

Gabrielle and Merlyck stand facing one another.

GABRIELLE You've outgrown this place, and this village. I can see where it could take
the whole world to be big enough for a man like you.

Merlyck smiles at Gabrielle and her serious expression gives way to a self-conscious smile. They turn and stroll between the rows of apple trees.

MERYLCK Gabrielle, may I speak freely? GABRIELLE Of course. MERYLCK You are both too beautiful and much too smart to be working as a barmaid. GABRIELLE Oh, it's only temporary. MERYLCK Good. (beat) There's a depth to your personality that I have rarely seen. You are truly very special. GABRIELLE Well, thank you. I really don't know what to say. Coming from someone like you,
that's quite a compliment.
MERYLCK Would you consider working with me? GABRIELLE You said with you, not for you? MERYLCK I would prefer to think of us as associates. GABRIELLE (intrigued) Associates? Just what would this job entail, exactly? MERYLCK What you do so well, writing. GABRIELLE You mean you actually want to pay me to write? MERYLCK (smiles at her) That's right. I would like for you to transcribe all my field notes, for starters. GABRIELLE Are you serious? MERYLCK (amused) Of course! Why do you ask? GABRIELLE (astonished) And this would be the material that you take to the academy? MERYLCK Yes, that's right. (beat) And I would also want you to keep a daily journal on expedition.

Gabrielle abruptly stops walking and raises both her hands in a pleading gesture.

GABRIELLE Whoa! Wait a minute! You're saying you want me to go with you on your expeditions? MERYLCK You have an adventurous spirit, I can tell that from your stories.
You will love it, and you will be doing very important work.
And the next time I go to the academy, you will be right there with me.
GABRIELLE (overwhelmed) This is just fantastic!
It's such an incredible opportunity. I don't know what to think.
I don't know what to say!
MERYLCK (laughs) C'mon, say, yes! GABRIELLE (smiles) Yes! Yes, I'll do it!

In her excitement, Gabrielle finds herself in Merlyck's arms before she realizes what is happening. They gaze into one another's eyes for a moment, then pull apart and walk on.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT TWO







ACT THREE

FADE IN:

EXT. THE GARDEN BEHIND THE INN - SAME

Gabrielle and Merlyck come walking along the back wall of the Inn, close together and talking in low voices. Gabrielle glances up and sees Xena sitting on the large round table, she breaks away from Merlyck and rushes forward a few steps to stand in front of Xena.

GABRIELLE Xena, you're back already? XENA I made pretty good time. GABRIELLE (critical) You rode all night, didn't you? XENA (insincere, looking at Gabrielle) Nice dress. GABRIELLE (doubtful) Thanks. XENA Are you going to introduce me to your friend?

Merlyck moves up beside Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE Merlyck, Xena. Xena, Merlyck.

Xena extends her hand, and Merlyck steps up to shake hands.

MERYLCK It's a pleasure. XENA Nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you. GABRIELLE That's kinda funny, he's never heard of you before. MERYLCK I'm out of touch much of the time. But Gabrielle was kind enough to let me
read her accounts of your exploits.
XENA (smiles) She embellishes everything. GABRIELLE (infuriated) I do not! Don't listen to her! MERYLCK So, you mean Xena really is as brave and wonderful as you wrote?

Gabrielle thinks about it, looks at Merlyck, then looks at Xena. Xena raises her eyebrows in anticipation of a reply.

GABRIELLE (disgusted) This is a no-win situation.

Xena struggles to keep from laughing. Merlyck chooses that moment to excuse himself.

MERYLCK Well, if you ladies will excuse me, I have a lot of planning to do.

Merlyck walks away to enter the Inn. Xena and Gabrielle both seem to be dreading whatever is about to happen next.

GABRIELLE (firmly) Xena, we have to have a talk.

Xena's unhappy expression suddenly seems set in stone.

CUT TO:

INT. MERLYCK'S ROOM - NIGHT

Merlyck is sitting at a desk looking over a map and some of his notes. He repositions a candle holder, both for better light and to hold down a corner of the map. There is a knock at the door, so he walks over and opens it. He is clearly surprised to see Xena standing there.

XENA (entering) We have to talk. MERYLCK (open door in hand) Actually, I'm rather busy. XENA (snaps back) You weren't too busy to fill Gabrielle's head with all
your crazy ideas.

Merlyck shuts the door and steps toward Xena. She turns to squarely face him with anger and determination on her face.

MERYLCK You know, you really could use some manners. And just which crazy ideas
are you referring to?
XENA (smiles insincerely) Well, just how many crazy ideas do you have? MERYLCK Is that supposed to be a joke? I think you're more bully than lady,
and I don't have time for your lame humor. So, what do you
mean by crazy ideas?
XENA Telling her you are going to take her on this expedition, on some great
search for truth and knowledge!
What you'll do is get her killed!
MERYLCK How many battles have you taken Gabrielle into?
How many cold-blooded killers have threatened her because of you?
How many horrifying situations has she endured simply because she was your friend?
(a beat) It seems to me that just getting her away from you
would be a very big improvement.

Hurt and angered by the accusations, Xena charges toward Merlyck and throws a punch, which misses its mark. Merlyck grabs Xena, spins around and tosses her through the air. She flips once and lands on the bed, with a LOUD CRASH. Xena just lies there, suddenly regarding the man in a somewhat different light. Her anger is clearly gone.

XENA Well, you surprise me. MERYLCK I've acquired a number of skills on my
travels, Xena. And, yes, I know you are a warrior! I'm also good with a sword,
as well as many other weapons.
XENA What's your point? MERYLCK The point is, I also have a brain and a heart. I can think
and feel. (beat) Now you listen to me. I believe you
are as good and noble and heroic as Gabrielle
wrote in her stories about you. And I understand that
sometimes we have to stand up and fight for our
lives and for justice, but in the end it will be knowledge and
truth that saves mankind, Xena, not swords
or any weapon. Someday the world will have no use for people like
you. (a beat, as he reconsiders) Forgive me, I didn't mean you
personally, I mean warriors in general.
XENA And when will this glorious day come? MERYLCK (conceeds, with a weak smile) I wish I knew.

Xena continues to lay on the bed, staring at Merlyck as if he is some kind of enigma. Suddenly the door swings open with a bang and Gabrielle rushes into the room. She is frantic.

GABRIELLE What was that terrible noise?

Gabrielle spots Xena on the bed, and she is instantly livid.

GABRIELLE Xena! XENA I just dropped by to get a job on this expedition. GABRIELLE (acutely sarcastic) Did you drop through the ceiling? That's getting to be a
habit with you, isn't it? And just exactly what position are you applying for?

Xena slithers off the bed and gets to her feet, then turns to Gabrielle, who is waiting for a reply. Xena looks as if she has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, or maybe some place worse.

XENA This isn't what it looks like. I tripped and fell, OK? MERYLCK So, you want a job. What can you do? Are you an explorer? XENA (superior air) As a matter of fact, I've done my share of exploring. But more
important, I can fight. Or do you only
explore in really safe places?

Xena gives Gabrielle a sideways glance. Gabrielle is still mad and she isn't buying this Warrior Princess brand of pure B. S.

GABRIELLE I'm sure we can muddle through without your help, Xena. MERYLCK (thoughtfully to Gabrielle) Well, she has a point. You never know what you're going to
run into. (to Xena) Xena, I could make you head of our
security force. The job doesn't pay much, I'm afraid.
GABRIELLE Oh, she has plenty of money now. Right, Xena? XENA Just my keep, that's all I ask. I will consider the adventure as
my reward. (beat) Well, head of the security
force sounds pretty good.

Smiling, Xena looks from Merlyck to Gabrielle, but they have nothing to say.

XENA (smacking her hands together) So, I guess we're going on an expedition! Well, it's getting late, we'll talk more later. (catching herself, and smiles again) Uh, later tomorrow, actually!

Xena uneasily side steps around Gabrielle and makes for the door. Gabrielle keeps her gaze fixed on the Warrior Princess.

MERYLCK Oh, and Xena.... XENA (hand on door) Yeah? MERYLCK You are the security force.

Under the pressure of Gabrielle's steady glare, Xena manages a weak smile, nods and walks out of the room.

INT. - THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE MERLYCK'S DOOR - SAME

Xena stops, scowls and rolls her eyes toward the ceiling. She is not at all happy about this sudden turn of affairs.

CUT TO:

EXT. A WIDE, HEAVILY-USED ROAD - DAY

Xena, Gabrielle, and Merlyck are walking along the road. Other travelers are going in both directions, as well as tradesmen and farmers with full carts.

MERYLCK Gabrielle, do you like shopping? GABRIELLE Oh, it's the best! MERYLCK (delighted) Good! You can help me figure up our shopping list, and I'm going to show you how much fun it is to outfit an expedition.

Merlyck glances around at Xena, who is lagging a bit behind.

MERYLCK And, Xena, since you are a leader and a good judge of men,
I can use your help in signing on ten or twelve men
that we can trust and rely on.
XENA Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, but it isn't always easy to
tell what a man really is until
the going gets tough.

Gabrielle looks back at Xena, clearly displaying her displeasure at Xena's remark. Xena nods at her, then looks away. Merlyck shows no sign of detecting an insinuation in Xena's words.

The trio reaches the crest of a mountain. Far below them a vast city stretches across the valley and lines the shore of a wide bay.

GABRIELLE Oh, wow! I've never seen a city this big before, and look at the
ships in the harbor! Look, Xena!

Gabrielle excitedly turns to Xena, but catches herself.

GABRIELLE (bitter sarcasm) Oh, sorry, I forgot. You've seen it all and done it all. XENA No, I haven't. And I've never been here before. MERYLCK You know what I think? If it's so beautiful down there, what are we doing up here?

Merlyck and Gabrielle laugh and start off down the hill, while Xena reluctantly brings up the rear.

CUT TO:

EXT. WAREHOUSE NEAR THE DOCKS - DAY

Gabrielle has two large coils of rope on her shoulders, and she staggers as she walks to a wagon, where Merlyck is arranging wooden boxes and small barrels. Gabrielle drops the rope into the wagon and returns for another load.

GABRIELLE When I think shopping, I think clothes and stuff.

Gabrielle picks up a small barrel, which is heavier than it looks, and awkwardly carries it toward the wagon.

GABRIELLE (straining) I guess they don't have much use for do-dads and trinkets on an expedition, huh?

CUT TO:

EXT. A BUSY RETAIL MARKET PLACE - SAME

There are many stalls piled high with colorful merchandise of every possible description. Merlyck is fastening a strand of beads around Gabrielle's neck. When he finishes, she smiles happily and they walk on down the aisle.

Merlyck selects a straw hat from a rack and places it on Gabrielle's head. He forms a frame with his hands and looks at her from several angles. Gabrielle is laughing at him.

MERYLCK It's you! So, we'll take it.

He gives the vendor some money.

EXT. THE MARKET PLACE - SAME

Merlyck and Gabrielle are at another location, where the stalls seem to be selling mostly various foods. They are eating some kind of fried pie.

GABRIELLE Mmmm! This is good! What is it? MERYLCK (suddenly apprehensive) Uh... let's don't ask.

Gabrielle laughs so hard she almost drops the pastry from her right hand, and she has to hold her hat on with her left hand.

CUT TO:

EXT. CROWDED STREET - DAY

Merlyck and Gabrielle are slowly making their way along the street, looking around, not in a hurry to get anywhere. Gabrielle sees Xena come out of a nearby door and start across the crowded street. Merlyck doesn't spot her, and Gabrielle doesn't say anything, but continues to watch her friend.

A frail elderly woman, who is holding a shallow wooden box in her hand, turns around to find herself face to face with Xena. The sight of the Warrior Princess clearly frightens her, but she uncertainly extends the box, and struggles to find her voice.

BEGGAR WOMAN Would you care to give to the Orphan Children fund?

Xena has been staring uncertainly at the woman, but now she smiles. She pulls her leather money bag from her belt and dumps the entire substantial contents into the woman's box.

The elderly woman is astonished, and she looks at the money and at the Warrior Princess in disbelief.

BEGGAR WOMAN Oh! Thank you! May the gods smile on you!

Xena puts her hand on the woman's shoulder and smiles again.

XENA They already have. (a beat) Except the ones who don't like me very well.
Well, can't please everybody.

Gabrielle still says nothing, but she continues to watch. She tries not to show any reaction, but we can tell that the scene has deeply touched her.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE MARKET PLACE - DAY

Xena and Merlyck are slowly walking through the market.

XENA I doubt if we can find men to hire around here. MERYLCK I saw something here yesterday, and I thought of you.

Merlyck makes a sudden turn and hurries over to a stall displaying many styles of silk scarves. He selects one with variegated shades, but mostly bright blue. He holds it next to Xena's cheek.

XENA What do you think you're doing? MERYLCK It brings out the color and beauty of your eyes, not that you need anything to bring it out. XENA In case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly the scarf type. MERYLCK I've noticed that you are very beautiful, and so is the scarf. You don't have to
wear it, but please permit me to buy it for you.

Xena shoves the scarf hard against Merlyck's chest.

XENA No! And if you come on to me again, I'll break every bone in your body.
And if you hurt Gabrielle, I'll do even worse!
MERYLCK I'm sorry you feel that way. As for Gabrielle, we're just friends, Xena, that's all. XENA You mean there's nothing going on between you two? MERYLCK Nothing. XENA I'm not sure Gabrielle sees it that way. MERYLCK I didn't mean to mislead her. And I don't want to hurt her.
So, what do you suggest?
XENA We're going on this expedition as planned. You're going to let Gabrielle transcribe your notes, and you are always going to keep your mind and your hands on business. (thinking, and deeply concerned) Maybe by the time we get back to civilization, she'll see things differently.

An elderly man, JA, with a scruffy beard and skin like shoe leather comes gingerly walking through the market and spots Xena.

JA (delighted) Xena! Xena, is that you? XENA (amazed) Ja? I thought you were dead. JA (laughs) A lot of people have thought that, my girl! I've never seen you down in these parts before. XENA First time. So, what are you up to these days? JA Oh, a little treasure hunting here and there. And all those rumors
about grave robbing is a blame lie! Now, I do find bodies in with the
treasure sometimes, but that ain't the same
thing at all.
XENA (laughs) Ja, this is Merlyck. Don't hold it against him, but he's a scholar and an explorer. We need about a dozen good men for an expedition. JA Say no more! I have just the crew, and we're itching to get back in the wilds! We can leave at a moments notice. MERYLCK (uncertain) Uh, Xena.... XENA Ja is my friend. I would trust Ja with my life. In fact, I have several times.
If he says these are good men, they're good men.
MERYLCK OK, we pull out at first light.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT THREE







ACT FOUR

FADE IN:

EXT. STREAM IN SMALL VALLEY - DAY

Xena, Gabrielle, Merlyck, Ja and the line of ten bearers forge the shallow stream in a neat row, then march up the slope to leave the valley.

CUT TO:

EXT. A FOREST - SAME

The group is finding the going relatively easy, because there isn't too much thick undergrowth in this area. The peaceful mood is broken by a flock of birds suddenly bursting from the treetops. Xena, in the lead, stops and raises her hand. Stillness hangs over them like a deadly threat. Gabrielle and Merlyck look at one another.

MERYLCK (softly, to Gabrielle) Don't be afraid, but brace yourself.

Xena is staring and listening, with deep concern on her face. Suddenly there is a loud continuing rumble, then the ground under their feet is violently jolted back and forth for several seconds. The line of bearers tumble in various directions, and their loads are scattered across the ground. Gabrielle manages to get to Xena. Merlyck staggers up beside Gabrielle and grabs hold of her, as another strong shock wave hits. Gabrielle is frightened.

GABRIELLE What is it, an earthquake? XENA Yes, a big one, but don't be afraid. We're in very little
danger out here in the open.
GABRIELLE Tell that to my breakfast.

Gabrielle staggers off to a nearby tree, for better support. Merlyck and Xena look at her, then smile at each other. When they finally realize they are smiling at each other, they quickly stop smiling and turn away.

The ground continues to shake a while longer, causing some nearby dead trees to topple and crash to the ground.

GABRIELLE (to a fallen tree) Oh, I know how you feel.

CUT TO:

EXT. CAMPSITE - NIGHT

Xena, Gabrielle, and Merlyck are sitting near their campfire. The crew has another fire in the distance.

MERYLCK You're right about that quake, Xena, it was a big one, and you can
bet there will be aftershocks for days. (beat) The thing is,
that quake just may be more of a problem than you know.
XENA How's that? MERYLCK There's a bridge up ahead, and it may have
sustained damage. It may be gone. If we have to take the long way
around, we won't make it beyond the high mountain
range before winter.
XENA (unconcerned) Worrying about it won't help. Let's get to the bridge, then decide. MERYLCK (to Gabrielle) Is she always this optimistic? GABRIELLE Annoying, isn't it?

Xena looks across the flames at Gabrielle and Merlyck, and she doesn't see any humor in their conversation.

CUT TO:

EXT. DENSE RAIN FOREST - DAY

The explorers are making their way through the thick vegetation. Then, as they emerge into a clearing, a barrage of spears fly over their heads.

XENA Take cover!

Xena holds her sword at an upward angle in front of her, as she stands in the clearing and slowly rotates to look in every direction. Merlyck stands nearby, holding his sword, with Gabrielle behind him at the base of a tree. Ja and several of his men are standing, swords in hand, while the rest are kneeling or laying in the bushes.

Two native warriors wearing scanty fur outfits, including fur cowls, charge from the jungle. The attackers have spears, and both run at Xena. She deflects the spears with her sword and then kicks both of the warriors for a flying loop.

A large group of natives appear at the edge of the clearing. They all raise their spears simultaneously and throw them at Xena. Quickly swinging her sword from side to side, Xena deflects all the spears, which are sticking in the ground all around her when the episode is over. The attackers are shocked by the feat of the warrior woman, so they flee in fear.

Two rows of attackers emerge from the jungle and approach Ja's position. Xena throws her chakram, cutting off the spearheads of the front row. The chakram ricochets off two trees, takes out the second row, then returns to Xena. The Warrior Princess snaps the weapon back on her belt and turns to face another wave of attackers.

The native warriors are running from the jungle in several locations. Ja and his men are heavily engaged, as more attackers rush out at Xena. She is fighting them off, when Merlyck runs up beside her, and together the attackers are quickly pushed back.

MERYLCK Xena, go back with Gabrielle. XENA (glancing back at Gabrielle) She's all right.

Xena is staring into the jungle, standing with her sword up in front of her. Merlyck suddenly slaps Xena's sword hard with his own. Xena turns to face Merlyck, infuriated by his action.

XENA What do you think you're doing? MERYLCK Go back with Gabrielle, she needs you. XENA The next time you cross swords with me, it will be for real!

A native suddenly springs from the bushes and throws a spear. Merlyck sees what is happening, so he lunges forward and knocks Xena out of the way, but the spear rips into Merlyck's left shoulder and he goes down.

GABRIELLE (running to Merlyck) Merlyck!

After regaining her footing, Xena rushes to the edge of the clearing, but the attacker has vanished into the dense jungle.

XENA (frustrated and angry, she screams) Run, you cowards!

The fighting has ended, and all the attackers have vanished. Xena looks all around, looks back at Gabrielle and Merlyck, then runs to help Merlyck. She examines the wound, stands and places her boot on Merlyck's shoulder, and pulls the spear out with a quick jerk. She throws the spear aside and looks around as Ja runs up.

JA How is he? XENA He'll live. How's your bunch? JA We're still kickin'. XENA Get ready. Soon as I dress this wound, we're gone. JA (turning to go) I'm with you, my girl!

Xena looks back at the jungle again, her expression grave. Spotting no immediate danger, she kneels to attend to Merlyck's shoulder wound. Gabrielle is on the other side of Merlyck, trying to comfort him.

MERYLCK How is it really, Xena? XENA (dryly) It could've been through your heart, but I learned a long time ago
that you can't have everything.
GABRIELLE You have a sick, warped sense of humor, Xena! XENA (firmly) Maybe. Only, who's joking?

With a hard jerk, Xena rips more of Merlyck's shirt away from the wound, and he groans in pain. The women exchange glares.

CUT TO:

EXT. FOOT BRIDGE THAT CROSSES WIDE, DEEP GORGE - DAY

The group congregates at the edge of the high cliff, where they have a wide view of the bridge. It is a trestle work structure, braced beams of timbers supporting a narrow walkway. It appears to be in good condition.

MERYLCK (laughs as if surprised) Well, it's still standing! But there's no telling
how much damage it sustained. It'll have to be inspected before we can cross.
XENA (turning to walk away) I'll go have a look.

Merlyck quickly grabs Xena's hand and holds it tightly.

MERYLCK No! No, Xena, I'll inspect the bridge. You stay here and send
the others across when I signal. Space them out a safe distance.

Xena pulls her hand free, giving Merlyck an angry look, then she walks away without comment.

EXT. THE OTHER END OF THE BRIDGE - SAME

Merlyck leans on the end of the railing as Gabrielle and the last of the men file off the bridge and continue on. Xena is bringing up the rear a few yards back. Merlyck walks out to meet her. Xena silently stares at him, still unhappy with him.

MERYLCK We should have no trouble crossing the mountains now. XENA We have to talk. MERYLCK Of course, what's on your mind? XENA I'm more interested in what's on your mind. When we were under attack,
you ordered me back with Gabrielle because you were worried about me.

Xena lightly punches his wounded shoulder, and he recoils and grimaces with pain.

XENA You took that spear to protect me. You had to cross the bridge first, because you were afraid for my safety. (beat) I don't want or need your protection. I can take care of myself. You are acting like an... idiot. You're going to get yourself killed, and maybe the rest of us, too. MERYLCK Yeah, I know you're right. I have always prided myself on being brave and strong. Strong in both body and mind. Then I met you, Xena. I am terrified for you. I couldn't bear it if something happened to you. I can't keep my mind on our objective, because all I can think about is you. Do you despise me for feeling this way?

Xena reaches out to touch Merlyck's arm.

XENA (softly) No. No, but you have to deal with it, Merlyck. You have to get over it, and that's all there is to it. MERYLCK I don't believe you are as tough as you pretend to be, Xena. As hard as you try to hide it, I can see a warm and sensitive side to you.

Xena looks at him and seems about to say something, but changes her mind. She walks passed him to leave the bridge.

XENA (disturbed) Merlyck, I can't listen to this. I just don't have the patience.
Snap out of it!
MERYLCK (projecting) Why are you running away?

Xena walks on, offering no answer to the question.

CUT TO:

EXT. CAMPSITE - NIGHT

Xena and Gabrielle are alone, sitting on opposite sides of their campfire. Both are still and quiet. Xena stares intensely at Gabrielle, while Gabrielle occasionally pokes at the fire with a stick and ignores Xena.

XENA (softly) Gabrielle, do you realize you haven't said a dozen
words to me in as many days?

There is no reply, and the silent interval grows long.

XENA Well? GABRIELLE (sighs) I haven't been keeping count. XENA I have. (beat) And when you left, you didn't even tell me you were going. GABRIELLE I just really didn't think you would even notice. XENA (hurt) How can you say that to me? GABRIELLE Look, Xena, I really can't tell you what the problem is.
We just don't seem to communicate anymore. I mean, you use to care how I feel about
things, or at least I thought you did.
XENA Of course, I care how you feel. And I care about you.
You're my best friend. You're the most important person in my life.
GABRIELLE (frustrated) I don't know, Xena! Maybe we need some
time apart to sort out our feelings. Maybe we have been too close for too long.
Maybe that's why you told me to keep my big mouth shut.
XENA That again? Gabrielle, are you going to hold that against me forever? GABRIELLE The point is, that's just a symptom of a bigger problem. XENA Will you let me in on the problem? GABRIELLE I told you, I don't know. Can we just give it a rest? XENA (fearing the answer) Are you sorry that I came on this trip? GABRIELLE (after long pause) All right, I didn't want to say anything, but I think
it would have been better if you hadn't.

Xena stands, looks at Gabrielle for a long moment, then turns away and walks into the darkness. Gabrielle shoves the stick into the fire, and wipes a tear from her cheek.

CUT TO:

EXT. ANOTHER PART OF THE CAMP - SAME

Merlyck is sitting on the ground, leaning against a tree several feet back from his campfire. Xena appears from the darkness, walks across the clearing, around the fire, and sits on a large branch of a fallen tree. Merlyck gets to his feet and walks over to her.

MERYLCK Are you still angry with me? XENA I'm angry with myself for not knowing how to deal with this situation. MERYLCK What situation? XENA Gabrielle doesn't want me here. She wants to get away from me. I'm thinking about
going back, but I'm afraid to leave her out here.

Merlyck suddenly looks unhappy, and he quickly sits on the tree branch in front of Xena.

MERYLCK Please, reconsider. We need you, Xena.

Xena gives him a knowing look.

MERYLCK All right, I need you.

Gabrielle walks up to the nearby bushes. Finding Xena and Merlyck together, she stops and listens.

XENA What are you going to do about Gabrielle? MERYLCK Gabrielle is a beautiful and wonderful girl. I was enchanted with her from the moment
I laid eyes on her, but Gabrielle isn't the woman I want. I want you.

Merlyck slowly leans toward Xena and kisses her. Xena offers no resistance to his affection.

Gabrielle pushes through the bushes, enraged.

GABRIELLE How could you? Either of you! I hate you both!

Gabrielle turns and runs away. Xena jumps up to go after her, but Merlyck grabs her arm.

MERYLCK No, Xena, let me talk to her. XENA What will you tell her? MERYLCK The truth, Xena. Just the truth. XENA All right. She probably won't listen to me anyway.

Merlyck rushes off to find Gabrielle. Xena kneels by the fire, stares into the flames with sad eyes, and slowly shakes her head.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE BRIDGE - MOONLIT NIGHT

Gabrielle hurriedly walks across the bridge.

MERLYCK (O.S.) Gabrielle!

Gabrielle glances back, then breaks into a run to escape her pursuer. Merlyck runs onto the bridge, spots Gabrielle, then goes after her even more determined.

MERYLCK Gabrielle, please wait!

Gabrielle is near the center of the long bridge when it suddenly begins to sway back and forth. Disoriented and thrown off balance, Gabrielle screams as she pitches over the side. She grabs hold of a handrail post and hangs on. Merlyck, lying on the bridge, is being violently tossed around. All he can do is ride it out.

Xena, Ja and the others run up to the edge of the cliff overlooking the bridge. Spotting Gabrielle's precarious situation, Xena is terrified. Xena and the others fall to the ground when another series of shock waves strike.

There are LOUD RUMBLING SOUNDS coming from the deep gorge. Rock slides are occurring in many locations along the cliffs. Huge boulders plummet down, sending up billowing dust clouds. Then the bridge begins to crumble, completely collapsing at both ends, and breaking into dangling sections in the middle.

Xena gets to her feet, almost frantic, she looks at the shattered bridge and the two people on the verge of death. She looks up at the large trees and the thick vines running from the high branches down the face of the cliff.

XENA (demands) Get a rope!

Ja runs for the rope, as Xena selects a vine. She quickly pulls her sword and cuts the vine. She yanks it free of the other vines and the lower branches of the tree.

Gabrielle manages to climb back onto the bridge. She and Merlyck are standing on opposite ends of a long section of the bridge, and this largest remaining part of the structure is teetering on the brink of falling.

Ja returns with the rope and gives it to Xena, who quickly fashions a harness. Xena hands Ja the rope and vine.

XENA Tie that like my life depends on it.

Ja expertly loops and ties a couple of secure knots, fastening the end of the rope to end of the vine.

JA Xena, even if you can do this, you can only save one of them. XENA (angrily) Don't you think I know that? JA (sorry) Of course, you do, my girl.

As another series of shock waves start up, Xena slips the rope harness around her waist and shoulders. She runs as fast as she can and dives off the cliff. As she swings across the gorge, the rock slides have resumed. Gabrielle and Merlyck are struggling to hold on to the vibrating, randomly moving structure. In the deepest recesses of the gorge, fissures are opening and brilliant streams of lava are flowing.

Xena swings over Gabrielle's head, tries to grab her, but she is too high. At the high point of her arc, Xena pulls a loop of the rope free and drops a couple of feet. She swings back toward Gabrielle, determined to get her this time.

The lava erupts into gushing torrents, leaping high into the air. Several LIGHTNING BOLTS FLASH along the bottom of the gorge, THUNDER ROARS along with the RUMBLING SOUNDS of the earthquake.

Xena grabs Gabrielle's wrists as the bridge drops from under her feet. As they swing toward the cliff, they witness the final parts of the bridge being devoured by the fiery monster far below them, and they see Merlyck fall and vanish into the inferno. Xena fights to suppress her emotional pain, but Gabrielle is crying, and on the verge of falling to pieces.

Xena and Gabrielle reach the cliff, where Ja and the other men are waiting. Still crying, Gabrielle moves off. Ja helps Xena get free of the rope.

Xena slings the constraints aside and walks away, her face a mask of torture. Gabrielle is coming up behind Xena, but she is still several yards away. She is still crying, and in a highly emotional state.

GABRIELLE (demands) Xena! Xena, why did you save me instead of Merlyck?

Xena spins around to face Gabrielle. The emotions that have been building inside her for weeks, erupts in a blast of pain and anger.

XENA (glaring) You have to ask me that!?

As if stunned by Xena's show of emotion, Gabrielle seems to instantly change. Tears continue to stream down her face.

GABRIELLE (falteringly) No. I'm sorry. I know why.

Gabrielle walks to Xena, and looks up at her.

GABRIELLE (softly) I know.

They embrace, both in tears, Gabrielle sobbing.

CUT TO:

EXT. FORK IN THE TRAIL - DAY

Xena, Gabrielle and JA stop, as the other men move on.

JA It's been a pleasure gettin' to know you, Gabrielle. GABRIELLE Nice meeting you, too, Ja.

They shake hands.

JA I'm sorry about young Merlyck. GABRIELLE (nods and smiles) I know.

Holding Gabrielle's hand, Ja cuts his eyes toward Xena.

JA Do me a favor and try to keep this one out of trouble. GABRIELLE I don't know. She just seems to attract it, you know? JA (laughs) Ain't it the truth? GABRIELLE But I'll keep an eye on her. JA (shaking hands with Xena) Take care, my girl. XENA Goodbye, Ja. I hope the supplies are adeguate pay. JA More than generous.

Ja follows his men, Xena and Gabrielle go in the other direction. The two women are walking slowly, side by side.

GABRIELLE I'm still going to transcribe Merlyck's notes, Xena. XENA Yes, I think you should. I know it would please him. GABRIELLE And I'm going to take them to the academy in Athens, too.
Will you go with me, Xena?
XENA (smiles) Yeah. Yeah, I'll go with you.

FADE OUT:

THE END


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