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

Fade in.

Shot of a village that is being attacked by raiders. Two soldiers are attempting to defend the village but they are vastly outnumbered. As the soldiers fight other raiders are chasing down villagers, demanding money and valuables and putting their loot into a couple of large bags. Enter Xena on Argo and Gabrielle as they come over a hill that overlooks the village. They stop for a moment.

Xena: “Dolius, that snake! He’s still at it!”

Xena charges.

Xena enters the fray with sword swinging. Gabrielle follows on foot attacking the raiders with her staff as she nears the village. Xena starts to get the upper hand and the leader of the raiders, Dolius, calls for a retreat. The raiders flee with their booty and Xena takes pursuit.

Xena meets up with the raiders on the road out of town and proceeds to attack them again. The raiders drop their bags of stolen goods and money and run into the forest. Xena picks up the bags and returns to the town.

Upon arriving at the village Xena finds Gabrielle treating the two seriously injured and unconscious soldiers.

Gabrielle: “This one” (gesturing to soldier #1) “is bleeding a lot from a blow to the head but otherwise seems okay. This soldier” (leaning toward soldier #2) “has a very bad slash across his belly...” (she pulls aside the blanket the covers soldier #2 and turns her head away).

Xena: (examines the wound and checks the man’s pulse) “I’ve got to make the incision longer”.

She takes her dagger and begins to cut at the gash. Soldier #1 wakes up just long enough to see Xena stick her knife in Soldier #2 and slice. Soldier #1 passes out again.

Xena: “Gabrielle, hold the tissue apart while I put the intestines back in”.

Sound FX: *suck* *smack* *slop*

After Xena has returned the soldier’s organs to their rightful location Gabrielle threads a needle and begins to sew. Xena orders the villagers over with a horse drawn cart and begins to load soldier #1 into it.

Xena: (returning for soldier #2 whom Gabrielle has finished sewing and bandaging) “I’ve got to get these men back to the castle fast. Gabrielle, you stay here and guard the village”. (Then stepping in front of Gabrielle to get her undivided attention) “Be careful! I’ll be back before sundown but those raiders could return at any time”.

Gabrielle: “Don’t worry Xena, I can take care of myself...and the village”.

Xena looks worried anyway but turns to jump on the cart, crack the reins and race out of the village.

Gabrielle walks over to the town well where she begins to wash up. She splashes some water on her face and turns around to confront a half dozen raiders with weapons drawn.

Close up of a wide-eyed Gabrielle.

Fade out to commercial.

Fade in.

Xena races up to the castle gates which open as she approaches. Xena alights from the cart as a large group of soldiers approach. The soldiers retrieve the moaning Soldier #1 while Soldier #3 examines the man with the belly wound.

Soldier #3: “He’s dead”.

Soldier #1: (pointing at Xena) “She killed him! I saw it!”

An even larger group of soldiers surround a startled Xena and draw their swords.

Close up of Xena.

Fade out.

Fade in.

Daylight at the raider’s camp. Gabrielle is shoved into the campsite by several raiders.

Raiders: “Dolius! Look, we’ve captured the girl. She was with the warrior who stole our money”.

Dolius: (drawing his dagger) “Bring her to me! I shall slit her throat ear to ear. Xena has humiliated me once again and I shall show her that she must give me the respect I deserve!”

Gabrielle: (with the knife at her throat) “*Tsk*,*tsk*. Murder me if you must but Xena won’t respect you for killing me like a common dog. Where’s the imagination? Where’s the style?” (Dolius hesitates) “Xena has seen plenty of throats slit by even the most incompetent of assassins. Now bury a victim up to her neck at the beach and wait for high tide at sundown to drown her; that shows panache. Xena would respect a clever killer like that”.

Dolius: (pause) “To the sea shore!”

Cut to where we left Xena surrounded by soldiers within the castle walls.

Soldier #1: “She sliced him open like she was butchering a pig! She killed him!” (he passes out).

Xena: “I didn’t...”

The soldiers attack. The battle commences and Xena, vastly outnumbered, starts to lose control. A soldier throws a net around her. Quickly a whole squad is on top of Xena and they drag her out of the scene.

Cut to Gabrielle buried to her neck in the sand. The sun is low and several hours have passed since her capture. Water is lapping at Gab’s chin as the tide rises. Dolius and his men are lounging nearby.

Gabrielle: (to herself) “Xena, where are you?” (louder and in Dolius’ direction) “You know, *sputter*, the more I think about it the more I realize that Xena would never respect someone who committed a murder this way. She would think the killer was too cowardly to bloody his own sword. *spit*, *spit*. Maybe even too cowardly to watch his victim die. No, Xena would have absolutely no respect for someone who killed a person this way *glub*”.

Dolius: (pacing, then...) “Quick! Dig her up!”

Dolius and the raiders frantically dig Gabrielle out of the sand as she is very close to drowning. Gabrielle is pulled out and Dolius again presses his dagger to her jugular.

Dolius: “I’ll slit you throat here and now like I should have done before!”

Gabrielle: “Here? Out in the middle of no where? Xena will think I was killed by a common highway robber, not by a proud warrior who deserves her respect. You should take me to the village and slit my throat in front of the villagers. Not only would Xena then know who killed her best friend but those cowardly villagers would show you more respect as well”.

Dolius’ 2nd in Command (“#2”): “Kill her now!”

Dolius: “Quiet!” (pause while he studies Gabrielle) “To the village!”.

Cut to Xena being thrown into a cell. The iron bars clang shut behind her. Xena turns to face the guards though the bars who have jailed her. They sneer at her and pass around her weapons which they examine with interest. Xena turns toward the interior of the cell and sees that she has been placed in a cell with several dangerous looking and surly men. The guards laugh as Xena’s predicament and the surly men approach her looking nasty.

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.

Interior of the jail cell. The surly men approach Xena with lecherous intentions. They attack and Xena proceeds to mop the floor with them. After she has defeated the last one she steps around their prone bodies and walks over to a window high on the jail cell wall but level to the ground outside. She watches the sun set over a hill that rises above the castle wall.

Xena: “Well, at least Gabrielle is safe”.

Cut to Gabrielle who is being marched along a forest path by Dolius and his men.

Gabrielle: (Idly to herself but in Dolius’ direction) “Hmmm. It will be dark soon. We’ll get to the village, roust the villagers. They will be too stupid to know what’s going on so we’ll have to gather them ‘round like the sheep they are. I’ll be killed and then you’ll have to march back to the forest. It will be dark by then. Sure is a pain to set up camp in the dark. Never know when you’re going to throw your bedroll over a patch of poison ivy.”

#2: “Shut up!”

Dolius: “Stop! Into the woods. We will set up camp here”.

Cut to Xena lounging on one side of the jail cell lazily (but carefully) watching the other prisoners though heavily lidded eyes as the prisoners, crowded into the opposite corner, watch Xena anxiously.

An official strides down the hallway and up to the cell door.

Official: “Xena! (Xena turns her head slowly to look at him) “For the crime of murdering a soldier of the King of Dragoon you have been sentenced to death and will be beheaded at high noon tomorrow”. (pause) “Well, come on woman! What do you have to say?”

Xena: (sneering) “I have nothing to say”.

Cut to #2 as he charges at Gabrielle.

#2: (angerly) “Don’t you ever quit talking?”

Gabrielle leans away from #2 and closes her mouth. It is night at the raider’s campsite and Gabrielle is tied to a tree. She had been in the middle a story while trying to get her boot off when she was interrupted. She stops telling her story but after #2 walks away, Gabrielle warily watching him, she again starts working on her boot despite being tied to the tree. She eyes Dolius who is sitting by the fire cooking his dinner. #2 sits down next to him.

Gabrielle: (looking around) “This is a nice operation. There’s obviously a lot of talent around here” (then to herself) “if not a lot of soap”. (Toward Dolius) “And the men obviously have a lot of respect for their leader” (Dolius puffs up).

#2: (approaching Gab with a knife) “If you don’t stop talking I’ll redirect your windpipe our your neck so you can’t talk!”

Dolius: “Get away from her!”

#2: “Kill her now Dolius!” (he stalks away).

Gabrielle: (to Dolius who listens idly) “You’ve got some good people here and you seem to be doing pretty well raiding villages and robbing travelers. (Gabrielle triumphantly gets her boot off and dumps out a couple pounds of sand) Of course, there are more talented raiders out there. I shudder to think about what a leader like you could do with an army of talented soldiers (pause while Gabrielle notes the effects of her words). If Xena feared you, word would get around, and the best fighters and assassins would flock to your side. Forget about robbing impoverished peasants for a few lousy dinars, you could take on castles and armies. You could step into a king’s counting room and walk off with as much gold as you could carry”. “Haven’t you wondered why a man of your talent and intelligence is sitting in the dirt roasting a rat on a spit? (Dolius throws his dinner into the fire) You should have a banquet set before you with servants to do your bidding. Quite frankly, without these slackers holding you back you would be a king among raiders” (Dolius is listening more intently) “These guys lack vision. They lack ambition. They don’t understand a man of your caliber or his thoughts. If you don’t mind, let me give you some advice. Your second in command...”

Dolius: “He’s my best man”.

Gabrielle: “He’s a good fighter, but he is limited by his lack of imagination; by his belief of what’s possible. He believes that robbing women and old men is the best you and he can manage. He can’t see the opportunities that are out there. As you reach for bigger and better things he will only hold you back. He will doubt your abilities. He will question your judgement in front of your men. He may be a brave fighter but he is a coward in the face of your destiny. A coward! You can’t afford to have a coward as your right hand man”. (Gabrielle shuts up as #2 walks back to the fire. Dolius eyes #2 suspiciously as Gabrielle watches).

Fade out.

Fade in.

Morning. Gab, Dolius and the raiders are at the village. The frightened villagers have been rounded up by the raiders. Dolius draws his dagger and puts it to Gabrielle’s throat.

Dolius: (announcing to the crowd) “I am Dolius. Xena, Warrior Princess has shown me disrespect and for this crime I will kill one she loves” (thrusting Gab forward).

Villager: “Xena has been arrested by the King for murdering one of his soldiers. She is being held in his dungeon to be beheaded at noon”.

Gabrielle: (thinking fast) “Too bad Dolius. Now you will never get your revenge, your respect, your army, your kingdom”. (#2 looks at Gab quizzically)

Dolius: “What shall I do?’

Gabrielle: “There’s only one thing to do. Take your destiny by the hand. Liberate Xena from the King’s dungeon an kill both of us. You will be bathed in glory!”

#2: (angerly, with sword drawn) “How about I liberate your tongue from your head!”

Dolius: (blocking #2...then to the raiders...) “To the castle!”

#2: “You fool! All the talk from this girl has muddled your brain! I will command these men until you return to your senses. The king will behead the warrior and I shall slice this girl apart!”

Gabrielle: (sadly shaking her head she mouths “Coward” to Dolius).

#2 lunges at Gabrielle and Dolius steps forward to plunge his dagger into #2’s gut. #2 crumples to the ground.

Dolius: “To the castle!”

Cut to the interior of Xena’s jail cell. Xena is looking out of the window at the executioner who is sharpening his axe with a stone. Xena then looks up to see the sun high in the sky. She turns away and begins to examine the walls the cell. The other prisoners step away as she approaches but Xena ignores them. She tugs at the bricks and bars; testing. Nothing shows promise.

Fade to commercial.

Fade in.

Daylight on a country road. Gabrielle is being pulled along the road by Dolius and the raiders follow.

Gabrielle: “You’re a brave man to attack the castle with such small numbers”.

Dolius: (laughs) “Brave but not stupid! My men have been working on a tunnel to the dungeons of Dragoon. Some of my best men ended up there and were beheaded by that rat-King. The tunnel has recently been completed. We will go to the castle where the King of Dragoon so graciously holds our prisoner. We will get the warrior princess and I personally will skin you both alive and will make a cape of Xena’s hide! Ha, Ha! Then every mercenary this side of the Aegean sea will beg to be a part of my army! I can free myself of these oafs (gesturing to the raiders), the lot of whom couldn’t wrestle a doll from a child”.

Gabrielle: “Good plan!”

Cut to the jail cell where Xena is sitting on a bench. A large stone in the floor is pushed away from underneath. The other prisoners watch as a raider appears from the tunnel and motions to Xena to follow. A couple of the prisoners approach the tunnel and Xena glares at them. They back off to let Xena go first but pretty soon there is a scuffle among the prisoners over who will get to go next. The guards are alerted by the commotion, unlock the cell and rush in. Xena and the other prisoners quickly dispose of the guards and Xena grabs her weapons which sit outside the cell. Xena then follows the other prisoners and the raider down the tunnel.

Cut to outside the castle walls. Dolius is there with a knife to Gabrielle’s jugular and his men surround the tunnel. The prisoners emerge and run into the forest. Dolius ignores them. Then Xena rises from the tunnel. Dolius and his men jump on her and hold her. Dolius flashes his blade against Gabrielle’s neck.

Dolius: “Xena! I am Dolius of the Dragoon Forest. Leader of men. Killer of soldiers. King of...”

Xena: “King of Fools”. Xena attacks.

Xena and Gabrielle proceed to kick butt. As the raiders and Dolius lie on the ground a soldier on the castle wall notices the commotion and sounds an alarm. Xena and Gabrielle flee to the forest leaving Dolius and his men to answer to the King for their many crimes against the citizens of the kingdom.

Gabrielle: (upon reaching safety in the forest) “Why where you to be beheaded?”

Xena: “One of the soldiers I brought back died and the other thought I was the one who had attacked them. I was arrested for the murder”.

Gabrielle: “Didn’t you tell them that you didn’t kill him? That you were trying to save them?”

Xena: (shrugging) “They didn’t believe me”.

Gabrielle: (disbelievingly) “You couldn’t even convince them of the truth?”

Xena: “No”.

Gabrielle: “You promised to be back by sundown. I almost got killed!”

Xena: “Hey, I rescued you didn’t I?”

Gabrielle: “You rescued me? I rescued you!”

Xena: (pause) “Are you okay? You’re walking sort of...funny”.

Gabrielle: “I’ve got sand in nooks and crannies I didn’t even know I had. Rustle me up some dinner and I’ll tell you all about it”.

The End.

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