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[play closing music]

[fade in]


Xena races toward the railing fully intending to dive over the side after Gabrielle but she is stopped by the dagger that Sinus has in his hand. He backs her up to the center of the main deck and grins in a sick, demented way while he gloats over what he has just done.

The wind rages as the ship drives towards shore.

One down and one to go.

You bastard.

Xena lunges at him with blinding rage but he catches her in mid air and hurls her across the deck into a pile crates. As she regains her footing, Xena can hear Sineus laughing uncontrollably while he staggers toward her in an attempt to finish her off.

Now it's your turn to die, bitch.

Xena braces herself for his attack. As he nears her, suddenly a tremendous gust of wind rocks the ship violently from side to side and Sineus is thrown off balance. He stumbles backwards and tumbles across the deck. When he tries to get up, another mammoth gust of wind rattles the vessel causing the mainsail to snap in half and come crashing down in tangled pieces that shower down trapping him in mounds of debris.

Sineus looks up with a morbid expression as he watches the last piece of the mast come down with such force that it embeds itself in the deck like a spear, impaling him through the chest and killing him instantly.

Xena's body shutters in relief. She immediately dives over the railing into the sea to search for Gabrielle. The waves are choppy and she strains to look over the swells.

Gabrielle, where are you?

When she gets no answer, she swims back to the point where she thinks Gabrielle had entered the sea and frantically dives under the water in what seems like hopeless attempts to locate her. Nearing exhaustion, Xena treads water and makes one more scan of the area.

Gabrielle! Answer me!

Suddenly, she sees something floating in the distance, which sends a shot of adrenaline through her shivering body and she swims as fast as she can toward the object.   When she reaches the spot, Xena finds Gabrielle face down and lifeless in the water. 

Xena quickly turns her over and sees a deep gash over Gabrielle's eye that's bleeding. When she places her hand on Gabrielle's chest, she feels no movement so she frantically begins to pump life-giving breath into her.

Come on Gabrielle breathe!
(a puff of breath)
You can do it!

Exhausted and cold, Xena reaches deep within her being and taps into that special source of inner strength that she has called on so many times before. She delivers one more breath of life into Gabrielle's still body and then in frustration, raises her upright and violently shakes her.

Breathe damn it!  Breathe!

Suddenly, she feels the limp body in her hands tense and begin to cough and gasp for breath all on its own. Xena clutches Gabrielle to her chest and feels the life come back into her body. Gabrielle's eyes flutter open and after she looks at Xena, she lapses back into unconsciousness.

Xena starts to tow Gabrielle to shore and as she looks up, she sees the ship safely run aground at the mouth of the creek just like she had predicted.

When she finally reaches land, Xena pulls Gabrielle onto the beach and collapses into unconscious exhaustion.

[cut to]


Xena wakes up and finds herself covered up with a blanket, laying next to the warmth of a fire. She abruptly sits up and scans the area.  Looking around, she sees several more fires dotting the beach.  Survivors from the shipwreck huddle around each fire to keep warm.   

Xena then looks through the flames of the fire she is next to and exhales a sigh of relief when she sees Gabrielle laying there asleep also covered with a blanket.

A gruff-looking man in tattered clothes is seated on a log next to Gabrielle. The man stares aimlessly into the fire and rolls a mug of ale in his hands. Xena's movements cause his concentration to break.

Where are we?

We're on the island of Malta. The occupants are
friendly, and they've been helping us all day. 
Xena gets up and moves over to Gabrielle.

Thanks for looking after her.

The survivor looks at Xena with high regard.

That was quite a heroic deed you preformed, diving into
the water that way to save her. Do you know this girl?

Yes. She's my freind.  She's my best friend.

The man smiles.

Many great things have been
done for the sake of friendship.

(sadness in her face)
All I seem to do is put her in harm's way.
I'm a woman with a past that continually
comes back to haunt me. I've done unspeakable
things for power and greed. But that was a lifetime
ago. Now my only goal is to make this a better world
and hold fast to the greater good.

I once was like you, only worse.

I don't think anyone could have been worse then me.

The man takes a deep and sets down his mug.

From what you've told me, you did your evil for the sake of
power and greed. I did my unspeakable deeds under the
pretense of religion. But now I've been released from my quilt.

How were you freed?

One day, I was riding on the road to Damascus
seeking to imprison or execute those who opposed
my religion. Suddenly, a great light from above shined
down so bright on me that it knocked me off my horse. 
When I tried to get up, I heard a voice say, "Saul, Saul,
why do you persecute me?"  I answered the voice by
saying, "Who are you, Lord?" And the voice answered,
"I am Jesus whom you persecute." At that point,
something within me changed and I realized the terrible
pain and suffering I was bringing on the innocent. For this
Jesus, was the man whose followers I was persecuting. 
From that point on, the scales of injustice that were
over my eyes fell off.

What makes your God different
from the other gods?

The mini gods demand our worship and tribute.
This God shed his blood for the sins of mankind. You see,
there is nothing we as mortals can do to atone for our sins. 
You, Xena, know this is true.  So Jesus the Christ paid
the price for us with his life. His selfless act gave me, a
murderer of the innocent, final redemption. That's what
makes him different. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

It sounds admirable, but when it comes to gods,
there are too many rules and regulations.

As I said before, my God paid the price for my
indiscretions. His only requirement is that I accept
the free gift of His sacrifice as an atonement for my sins.
I choose to changed my life of my own free will because
of my love for Him, not because of any rules or regulations.

What you say sounds too good to be true.

Let me ask you a question. Did you dive into the water
after your friend out of obligation or out of love?

Xena's eyes spark.

I would gladly give up my
life for her without hesitation.

Then you of all people should understand
what unconditional love can do.

The man gets up and kneels down beside Gabrielle. He puts his hand on her head and looks up to the sky, then back down at her motionless body. Suddenly, Gabrielle's eyes flutter open. 

What happened?
Where are we?

Xena looks stunned and cradles Gabrielle in her arms.

Rest now.

She should be all right now.

The man turns and starts to walk away.

Wait... Who are you?

My name is Paul.

Thank you for everything.

After Paul leaves, Xena brings her attention back to Gabrielle and carefully unwraps the dressing over her wound to check the gash on her forehead. Her eyes widened when she sees no sign of the injury.

[cut to]


Xena and Gabrielle stand by the ship's railing and watch as the sun slowly drops below the horizon of a blue green ocean. The bad weather has dissipated which has made for calm seas and smooth sailing. Xena casually hands Gabrielle a package which she retrieves from under a nearby crate.

What is this?

Just something I picked up
at the market before we left port.

Gabrielle smiles and unwraps the package. Inside she finds a brand new eagle's feather quill and a fresh scroll.

These are wonderful, but what's the occasion?

Xena smirks.

No occasion. I just think it's time
you start doing the bard thing more often.

Gabrielle's eyes suspiciously narrow.

You're not about to tell me you want to go
off somewhere without me again?

Xena chuckles.

Nope. Not at all.
Learned my lesson the last time.

Gabrielle looks at Xena strangely and notes again that something about her has changed.

Are you sure you're all right? You've
been so different since the shipwreck.

Couldn't be better.

You know, I could get used to doing
the bard thing more often.

With the last sliver of light now totally extinguished, Xena and Gabrielle watch the birth of the first evening star in the great expanse of the night sky as a deckhand comes by and lights a torch. While they continue to star gaze, Xena puts her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder.

Why don't you open that new scroll?
I have a story to tell you.