Episode Guide Teaser Act 1 Act 2 Act 3 Act 4


ACT THREE

 

FADE IN:

 

INT. ALLEYWAY - AFTERNOON

 

Almost as quickly as it begins, the surge passes, leaving those in the alley choking on the toxic gases that managed to penetrate into the deep, narrow crevasse.  The elderly man, in particular, is having a hard time of it. His face is almost plum as he chokes and gasps for breath.

 

Hearing this, Gabrielle pulls away from Xena, concentrating on getting her breathing under control.

 

GABRIELLE

IímÖ all right....

HelpÖhim....

 

Her own breaths raspy, Xena looks over Gabrielle carefully, before finally nodding and rising to her feet.  She crosses the alley in quick strides, then lowers herself to her haunches, gently lifting the man by his heaving shoulders until he is in a sitting position.

 

XENA

(softly)

Easy, easy.

Long, slow breaths.

 

 

MAN

CanítÖ canítÖ breathe!

 

Xena supports him, easing him forward until he is sitting in a leaning over position.

 

XENA

Now listen to me.  I want you

to purse your lips like youíre

trying to whistle and breathe

out.  Try it. It will help.

 

Struggling, the man tries his best, and to his great relief, his breathing suddenly becomes much easier.

 

MAN

ThankÖ you....

 

Xena smiles and squeezes his frail shoulder lightly.

 

XENA

Glad to help.

 

 Xena looks at the others.

 

XENA

(contíd)

How are you two doing?

 

MARCELLAS FLAVIAS

B... better.

 

The elderly manís wife simply nods.

 

With a quick smile, Xena raises to her full height and turns, making her way back to Gabrielle.  She is also standing and breathing freely.  Xena squeezes Gabrielleís hand in passing, then stops just at the entrance to the alley.

 

GABRIELLE

(concerned)

What are you doing?

 

XENA

Iím just gonna check if itís

okay to go back out there yet.

 

GABRIELLE

But....

 

Xena turns to her.

 

XENA

Gabrielle, we canít stay in

here forever.  Weíve got to

be clear of the harbor before

the next surge hits, or....

 

GABRIELLE

I understand.  JustÖ

Be careful?

 

Xenaís smile is sweet, her eyes very tender.

 

XENA

(softly)

Always.

 

 

Stopping just before the portal, she looks outside.  The air is heavy with ash, but an offshore breeze cleanses it as she watches.  She trails sensitive fingertips over the hot brick just to the inside of the archway, feeling as it slowly cools.  Several moments later, she takes in a breath of cooling air and steps outside.

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. POMPEII - LATE AFTERNOON

 

The scene is one of utter carnage.  Dozens of men, women, children, and even animals have become mummies of hardened ash, caught in the hot, toxic wind without hope of escape.  They lay where they have fallen, bodies perfectly preserved in their molten sarcophagi.

 

She walks over to one of the bodies and lays a hand on it.  The fused ash is still quite hot to the touch and she quickly lifts her hand away.  The body is of a young child, lying on his side, arm curled under his head as if he is sleeping peacefully.  She looks at him for a long moment, then rises slowly to her feet.

 

XENA

(whispering)

Iím sorry.

 

She turns, and looks to her left, toward the still spewing volcano, and stills.  Pumice stones fall around her in a raging torrent, but she doesnít notice.

 

Gabrielle steps out to join her and also stills.

 

GABRIELLE

(sorrowfully)

Oh, LoosÖ.

 

Like a pillar, Loosí ash entombed body stands facing the instrument of his death, his hands raised and clasped in a gesture of eternal piety.

 

GABRIELLE

(contíd)

Why?

 

 

XENA

Arrogance.  Conceit.

Self-righteousness.

 

Gabrielle looks at her for a long moment.  Part of her is angered, but a larger part knows Xenaís telling the truth.  She lets go a soft sigh.

 

GABRIELLE

I think Iím more comfortable

believing that the pressure of his

quest drove him over the edge.

 

XENA

That might have been part of it.

 

GABRIELLE

Good. Then thatís how

Iím going to remember

it.  Better that than....

 

Nodding, Xena takes Gabrielleís hand, and together they say a silent goodbye to Loos.

 

Then....

 

XENA

Letís go.  We need

to move quickly.

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. POMPEIAN SHORE - EVENING

 

Along the sands of the shore are several bodies, but surprisingly, several dozen more are still very much alive and huddled together like frightened children.  A huge ship is moored in the nearly empty harbor, and as Xena watches, a handsome middle-aged man steps down from the plank, attended by several younger men dressed in the regalia of the Roman Navy.

 

Smiling slightly, Xena lays the old man on the ash-covered stand, steps away from the group. Gabrielle is at her side, and they approach the man and his retinue. 

 

XENA

Pliny.

 

Pliny looks up at the voice, and returns her smile, his own broad and warm.

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Xena!  How wonderful to

see you again!  I didnít know

you were in Pompeii!

 

XENA

Spur of the moment decision.

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Well, itís a lovely city,

just lovely.  Iím sure youíre

enjoying your time here.

 

Gabrielle looks at the man slightly askance, wondering if he somehow doesnít see the huge lava and smoke spewing monstrosity standing directly in front of him.

 

XENA

Commander, we

need your help.

 

The older man waves a hand.

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Yes, yes, I know.  My nephew

caught the first glimpse and I

headed off to rescue the

survivors post haste.

 

XENA

Good. Then Iíll....

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Weíll carry out the

mission in the morning.

 

Xena and Gabrielle both stare at him, eyes wide.

 

 

XENA

We donít have that much

time!  Surely you know....

 

PLINY THE ELDER

(offhandly)

Relax, Xena. We have plenty

of time.  Iíve seen things

like this before, you know.

 

XENA

(forcefully)

So have I.  And I know we

need to leave. Now.

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Canít be done, Iím afraid.  The

winds are playing havoc with

the water.  A crossing is unsafe

at this time.  Why, I barely made

it here in one piece.  No,

tomorrow will be just fine.

 

XENA

Commander, the winds arenít whatís

playing havoc with the water. What you

felt was a surge.  Look at the top of

the volcano. Itís much shorter than it was

before.  The cone collapsed on itself,

sending the hot ash flying into the city.

Hundreds are dead.  Iíve seen them,

covered with ash and dead where they lay.

(beat, very intensely)

Pliny, it will happen again.

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Nonsense.  Everyone knows that once

the top collapses, the danger is as

good as over. ThisÖ falling rock will

cause a few bruises, yes, but the

people will be safe until tomorrow.

 

He smiles at her.

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Iím spending the night with some

friends of mine.  Iím sure you and

your party would be welcomed.

Weíll head out for Mycineum

by the light of a new day.

 

GABRIELLE

Sir, you donít understand....

 

 

PLINY THE ELDER

Oh, I understand

perfectly, my dear.

(to Xena)

Coming?

 

The corner of Xenaís mouth curls in derision.

 

XENA

No.  You go on.  Iíll take

my chances with the sea.

 

PLINY THE ELDER

As you wish.

 

With an imperious wave of his hand, he collects the rest of his followers and heads directly into the city.  Soon, they are lost to sight, blanketed in the darkness of ash and the unnatural evening.

 

Gabrielle stares after him.

 

GABRIELLE

Heís crazy!  Heís going

to die, isnít he?

 

XENA

Count on it.  Címon. Letís

find something seaworthy

and get the hell outta here.

 

 

FADE OUT.
 

END OF ACT THREE

ACT FOUR