Down and Out in Academy Hills Shooting Draft

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Down and Out in Academy Hills

Episode #13
Production #V0813

Written by: Michael Edens

Directed by: Andrew Merrifield

Shooting Draft - May 18, 1998
Full Script - June 01, 1998
Pages 1-5, 12-16, 23A-23C - June 09, 1998
Pages 10, 13, 15, 23C-23E - June 10, 1998

Pacific Island Pictures, LTD, All Rights Reserved © 1998

Cast List

Hercules
Jason
Iolaus - (ee-OH-lus)
Cheiron - (KI-ron)
Lilith
Kora
Hera (V.O.)
Hephaestus
Arges - (Ar-guess)
Lycurges - (lye-KUR-geez)(Non-speaking) *
Merchant
Linas - (LYE-nass) *

Set List

Interiors:
Cheiron's Academy - Dorm
Cheiron's Academy - Dining Hall
Cheiron's Academy - Training Hall
Kora's Inn
Shepherd's Hut
Mount Olympus - Forge of the Gods
Cave of the Giant

Exteriors:
Cheiron's Academy - Courtyard
Cheiron's Academy - Main Gate *
Cheiron's Academy - Front Wall *
Stream *
Farther Upstream *
Shepherd's Hut
The Sky (Day and Night)
Mountains
Meadow Near a Cliff
Pond *
Other Side of Pond *

Teaser

"Down and Out in Academy Hills"
(a.k.a. "Hephaestus One")

FADE IN:

EXT. POND - DAY

HERCULES, JASON, and IOLAUS are enjoying a day off from the academy, doing a little fishing. Jason and Iolaus have fishing poles with lines cast into the pond. Hercules tends a small campfire over which a good-sized fish is grilling on a spit. Hercules lifts the spitted fish from the flames and examines it.

HERCULES
I don't know what you guys are going to do for lunch, but mine's almost done.

As they fish, Jason and Iolaus look over at Hercules. Iolaus licks his lips hungrily.

IOLAUS
How 'bout we share? I'll give you half of my fish -- when I catch one.
JASON
Give Hercules a break. It's hard to split something that small.

Suddenly Jason reacts to a tug on his line.

JASON
(joyful whoop)
He's a fighter!

Iolaus pulls out his line to watch and Hercules joins them as Jason struggles briefly with the fish on his line and then lands a beautiful fish, easily half again as big as Hercules' fish. Jason holds the fish up, admiring it.

JASON
Man, he's a beauty!
HERCULES
(dead-pan humor)
I see the bait, Jason, but where's the fish?
IOLAUS
Not exactly king-size, is it?
JASON
Go ahead and laugh, but we'll have to build a bigger fire to cook this guy.

Iolaus turns back to the pond and casts his line in the water.

IOLAUS
While you two are serving up the appetizers, I'll catch the main course.

Suddenly Iolaus' line goes taut.

IOLAUS
Whoa! What'd I tell ya! Man, this is a whale!

Iolaus struggles to land his catch, almost falling into the water, but when he pulls it in, we see that he's hooked an old boot. Hercules and Jason get a big laugh, much to Iolaus's chagrin.

HERCULES
(laughing)
Try again, Iolaus! Maybe you'll catch one for your left foot!
JASON
(laughing)
Now we know what's for lunch -- fillet of sole!
IOLAUS
Very funny.

Iolaus tips the water out of the boot and, along with the water, easily the biggest fish of the day flops out.

IOLAUS
Yes! I am the master!

Hercules and Jason look at Iolaus' catch, chagrined.

EXT. THE SKY - DAY

A few clouds drift in the sky. Suddenly there's a flash of light and a sound like THUNDER. Arms and legs flailing, the god HEPPHAESTUS flies out of a cloud and plummets toward the Earth --

EXT. POND - DAY

Iolaus, Jason, and Hercules look up at the sky, puzzled.

IOLAUS
Funny? Those clouds don't look like rain.

EXT. OTHER SIDE OF POND - DAY

Hephaestus falls into the pond with a huge splash, letting out a TREMENDOUS GOD-LIKE SHOUT which is cut short as he hits the water.

EXT. POND - DAY

Hercules, Jason, and Iolaus look at one another, puzzled.

IOLAUS
What was that?
HERCULES
(apprehensive)
We'd better find out.

Laying aside their fishing gear, they hurry off to the other side of the pond.

EXT. MOUNTAINS - DAY

Hephaestus' SHOUT ECHOES among the rocky mountain crags.

INT. CAVE OF THE GIANT - DAY

In a metal-worker's smoky, hot cave, an angry MERCHANT holds a poorly executed, two-foot tall bronze statuette.

MERCHANT
(complaining)
I paid you to make this look like my daughter!

Bent over the forge, HIS BACK TO THE CAMERA, ARGES doesn't turn to address the Merchant.

ARGES
(dismissive)
You looked at your daughter lately?
MERCHANT
Next time I'll take my business to Hephaestus!

Suddenly HEPHAESTUS' ECHOING CRY is heard (distant, O.S.) Arges stops his work abruptly. It's not until he turns TOWARD THE CAMERA and stands up that we see that he is a GIANT (30 feet tall) and wearing boots.

Arges is not happy!

ARGES
I know that voice!

Arges picks up a blowtorch-like device.

ARGES
Now we'll see who's really the best!

Arges fires his blowtorch like a flamethrower, making the scared Merchant leap aside.

EXT. OTHER SIDE OF POND - DAY

Hephaestus floats in the water, dazed, as Hercules, Jason, and Iolaus rush up on the bank. Jason is the first to spot him.

JASON
Look!

Hercules rushes into the water, followed by Jason and Iolaus. They drag Hephaestus onto the bank of the pond. Jason and Iolaus exchange worried looks with Hercules.

IOLAUS
You don't think he's -- ?

But then Hephaestus coughs and splutters, coming around. Hercules helps Hephaestus sit up.

HERCULES
Easy. Everything's all right. What happened? Who are you?

Hephaestus looks at them, dazed, and struggles to remember.

HEPHAESTUS
I'm... I... I don't remember.

Hercules and Iolaus and Jason exchange concerned looks as, we:

FADE OUT.

Act One

FADE IN:

INT. CHEIRON'S ACADEMY - DINING HALL - DAY

Jason and Iolaus watch in amazement as Hephaestus sits at a table in the academy dining hall hungrily wolfing down an unappetizing-looking oatmeal porridge and stacks of oat cakes. His manners are gross, messy -- wiping his mouth with his sleeve, etc.

HEPHAESTUS
(spooning in porridge)
Um. Good.
(swallows)
I've never tasted anything like this before.
JASON
(wryly)
I never did either -- until I came to the academy.

Hephaestus sops up the last of the porridge with an oat cake and stuffs the oat cake in his mouth. He pushes the empty bowl across the table toward Jason and Iolaus.

HEPHAESTUS
(mouth full)
More.

Iolaus takes the bowl, looking at it unbelievingly -- he can't believe somebody could really want more of this stuff.

IOLAUS
If that's what you want, Fish.
Jason
JASON
(puzzled, to Iolaus)
Fish?
IOLAUS
We pulled him out of a pond - we've gotta call him something.

As Hephaestus reaches for another oat cake and pulls it apart, stuffing the pieces into his mouth, Iolaus gives Jason a "do you believe this guy" look as he starts off to get the oatmeal. Hercules stands with CHEIRON on the other side of the room, watching Hephaestus eat.

CHEIRON
You did well.
HERCULES
We couldn't just leave him there. He doesn't even remember who he is.

Hercules looks over at Hephaestus scratching his belly and burping.

CHEIRON
No man is without a past. Someone will come for him, or his memory will return. Until then, I'm sure you'll make him feel welcome.

Herc, looking at Hephaestus chugging some water, is less than thrilled. Hephaestus BELCHES.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. ACADEMY DORM - NIGHT

Hephaestus lies in his cot, sleeping fitfully, obviously having an unsettling dream. As he MOANS and GROANS...

INTERCUT WITH:

INT. MOUNT OLYMPUS - FORGE OF THE GODS - NIGHT

Hephaestus' dream/nightmare: dramatic CLOSE-UPS of metalworking -- a furnace with flames that ROAR like an inferno heats a bar of iron red hot as a bellows HOWLS like a hurricane, making the flames leap higher with each howl of the bellows; sparks fly like lightning as the red hot iron is pounded on an anvil with a hammer that RINGS LOUDLY like a clap of thunder; the hot iron is plunged in water where it HISSES like a geyser. There's a flash of god-like power and then:

EXT. THE SKY - NIGHT

-- Hephaestus is falling, falling, down through the sky like we saw him in the Teaser.

INT. ACADEMY DORM - NIGHT

Awakening, Hephaestus sits up with a start on his cot. Hephaestus is gasping for breath and sweating. He reacts startled as Hercules reaches in and lays a hand on his shoulder.

HERCULES
Are you all right? You were crying out in your sleep.

Hephaestus, still dazed and shaken by his nightmare, looks up at Hercules standing beside his cot.

HEPHAESTUS
Bad dream. I saw... things. I don't know.

Hercules kneels down beside Hephaestus' cot, looking at Hephaestus, who avoids his eyes.

HERCULES
You saw things? What kind of things? Do you remember?
HEPHAESTUS
A forge. I... I think I worked there. But my mother thought it wasn't good enough -- working with my hands, making things. She threw me out. I don't remember, but... I think...

Troubled, Hephaestus falls silent.

HERCULES
(encouraging)
What is it?

Hephaestus glances at him and then looks away again, embarrassed.

HEPHAESTUS
I wanted her to approve. I wanted her to notice me.

We can tell from the expression on Herc's face that Hephaestus' words have touched him.

HERCULES
I'm sure she will one day.
(then)
What about your father?
HEPHAESTUS
(struggling to remember)
Father? I... I don't remember.

Hercules stands, looking down at Hephaestus.

HERCULES
Don't worry. Cheiron says it'll come back to you. Now try to get some sleep.

As Hephaestus rolls over to go back to sleep, Hercules stands over him, watching him thoughtfully.

HEPHAESTUS
Yes. Sleep.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. ACADEMY TRAINING HALL - THE NEXT MORNING

Hercules, Jason, Iolaus, and LILITH enter the training hall and find Hephaestus tinkering with the spinning warrior Mannequin.

HERCULES
You're wasting your time, Fish. That's broken.

As they gather around, Hephaestus barely glances at them as he considers the Mannequin, making a few last minute adjustments.

HEPHAESTUS
I fixed it. Made a few adjustments. Improvements. It'll work better now.

Iolaus pulls a practice sword from a weapons rack and steps up to the Mannequin.

IOLAUS
Why bother? It's strictly for beginners. See.

Iolaus disdainfully strikes the Mannequin with his practice sword. The Mannequin spins (in place) super-fast. Iolaus is unprepared, and one of the Mannequin's hands snags Iolaus' hair. Iolaus and the Mannequin spin super-fast, Iolaus YELLING in surprise. Lilith, Jason and Hercules look at Hephaestus.

Lilith
Make it stop!
HEPHAESTUS
(shrugs)
I can't.

Iolaus continues to spin and YELL.

JASON
I'll get him.

Jason leaps at Iolaus, but only succeeds in getting kicked across the room. Hercules picks up a sword. Lilith looks at him with concern.

Lilith
What are you doing?
HERCULES
Trying not to miss.

He raises the sword, waits for his moment, then slices down. The sword cuts Iolaus' hair, just where the Mannequin had hold of him, cutting him loose. Iolaus YELLS as he flies across the room and slams into a stack of equipment. As the others hurry over, a sore Iolaus holds the end of his hair which got the slight trim.

IOLAUS
Thanks for the trim --
(grimaces at bruises)
-- I think.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. SHEPHERD'S HUT - DAY

It's a small hut in a clearing. The hut has a door and a window.

INT. SHEPHERD'S HUT - DAY

The SHEPHERD sits on a stool at a small wooden table in the hut. A bowl of soup is on the table. As the Shepherd starts to eat, we hear the STOMPING OF HUGE FOOTSTEPS and ripples appear in the surface of the soup in the bowl as the ground shakes. Surprised and curious, the Shepherd looks up from the soup and is shocked to see the huge face of Arges the Giant peering in through the window at him.

With a STARTLED SQUAWK, the shepherd tumbles backward off his stool, knocking the table over, sending soup flying.

EXT. SHEPHERD'S HUT - DAY

Arges stands up beside the shepherd's hut, looking around angrily.

ARGES
Where are you, you worthless, piece of metal-working god-trash?!

Arges angrily stomps off.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. KORA'S INN - DAY

Lilith, Hercules, Jason, and Iolaus sit at a table in Kora's Inn with Hephaestus, finishing off the remains of a meal. Hephaestus ignores them, rummaging around in a leather pouch. Hercules nudges Iolaus and indicates Hephaestus with a jerk of his head. Iolaus rolls his eyes at Hercules and then turns to Hephaestus with an encouraging smile.

IOLAUS
So, Fish, what's in the pouch?
HEPHAESTUS
Things.

Hephaestus pulls out bits and pieces of mechanical gear, like he's carrying around a disassembled grandfather clock in the pouch -- gears, springs, counterweights, armatures, coiled metal tubing.

Lilith
(interested)
What are you working on?
HEPHAESTUS
Don't know yet.

Hercules exchanges a "do you understand this guy" look with Jason and Iolaus, then stands up.

HERCULES
Maybe we'd better get back to the academy.

They all stand, except Hephaestus, and head over toward KORA at the counter. Hephaestus finally realizes they've left him and scoops his stuff into his pouch and scurries over to join them.

An excited Kora is indicating a pottery urn on the counter with a sterno-like flame under it as Hephaestus reaches them. A small plate of roasted coffee beans lies near it.

KORA
I've got something new on the menu that's going to be a real money-maker!
(sighs)
This place could sure use one.
JASON
What is it?
KORA
I haven't figured out what to call it, but it's made from these dried beans from Ethiopia.
IOLAUS
(ironic)
Um. Dried beans. Always my favorite.

As Kora talks, Hephaestus looks thoughtfully at the pottery urn on the counter, where the new item's being prepared. He starts pulling things out of his pouch. As Kora describes the new item and how it's prepared, we realize she's talking about coffee.

KORA (O.S.)
No, you don't understand. You grind the beans up and then you boil them in water.

Hercules looks with knowing superiority over at Jason and Iolaus.

HERCULES
It's bean soup.
KORA
No, 'cause after it's boiled, you throw the ground beans away.
IOLAUS
Well, that's a waste.
KORA
And then you drink the water.
JASON
You really think people will pay to drink old bean water?
KORA
Well, you add milk first.

Suddenly we hear the WHOOSH and GURGLE of a cappuccino-maker. They all look over to Hephaestus, who in a brief time has put together a Rube Goldberg cappuccino-maker from the pottery urn and the odds and ends he carries in his pouch.

HEPHAESTUS
Not bad.

Hephaestus takes a sip from a cup and licks a foam "mustache" off his upper lip.

HEPHAESTUS
Needs cinnamon.

Hercules, Jason, Iolaus, Lilith, and Kora look at Hephaestus and then one another in open-mouthed surprise.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. ACADEMY COURTYARD - DAY

Hercules takes Hephaestus to a small open shed (three wooden walls and a roof with an open front) attached to the side of an academy building. The shed is set up as a blacksmith shop with an anvil and a small furnace. Hammers and other tools hang on the walls.

HERCULES
I talked it over with Cheiron. We think you'll like it here. There's always a lot of stuff that needs to be repaired.

Hephaestus wanders into the shed, touching the anvil and other items, like someone in a daze.

HERCULES
Look, Fish. That thing you made at Kora's. How'd you do that?
HEPHAESTUS
It was easy. Ideas come to me. I look at something... and see what it could be.
HERCULES
I've never met anyone who could make things like you. It's almost not... human. Like you've been given a gift by the gods...

Hephaestus puts a hand to his head, trying to remember.

HEPHAESTUS
Gods? I... I... can't...!

FLASH DISSOLVE TO:

INT. MOUNT OLYMPUS - FORGE OF THE GODS - NIGHT (FLASH BACK TO HEPHAESTUS' EARLIER DREAM)

We see the images we saw earlier from the forge -- the pounding hammer, the hot iron, etc. -- only this time over them, we also see superimposed the EYES OF HERA.

HERA (V.O.)
You're no god, Hephaestus! No son of mine! You're nothing! Nothing!

FLASH DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. ACADEMY COURTYARD - DAY

Hephaestus, still clutching his head, stumbles against the anvil in front of the shed. He collapses to his knees. Hercules rushes over to him.

HEPHAESTUS
I know my name... It's Heph... Hephaes...
HERCULES
(stunned)
Hephaestus? You're a god. But that means we're brothers -- of half-brothers.

Hercules reaches out for Hephaestus, but just before he touches him, we hear a LOUD POUNDING from the academy main gate.

EXT. ACADEMY - FRONT WALL - CONTINUOUS

Arges the Giant crashes in through a wall, sending a cadet, LINAS, sprawling. Arges stalks angrily into the courtyard.

ARGES
Where's Hephaestus?! The coward can't hide from me now!

Hercules looks up at the giant. He's stunned, in awe.

HERCULES
(to himself)
Where in Tartarus did he come from?

Arges glares down at Herc and Hephaestus.

ARGES
There you are!

Hercules steps protectively in front of Hephaestus, interposing himself between his half-brother and the angry giant. Close on the giant as he grins nastily:

ARGES
When I'm done with you, you'll wish you'd never been born.

FADE OUT.

Act Two

FADE IN:

EXT. ACADEMY COURTYARD - DAY - CONTINUOUS

Arges steps farther into the courtyard, past the sprawling Linas, who scrambles fearfully on his hands and knees out of the way, and advances toward Hercules and Hephaestus.

HERCULES
Who are you?! What do you want with Hephaestus?!
ARGES
Out of my way if you don't want to get hurt!
(points at Hephaestus)
My fight is with him!

Hercules glances over at Hephaestus, who still seems stunned by the sudden return of his memory.

HEPHAESTUS
I... don't want to fight.
HERCULES
(turning to Arges)
You'll have to get past me!
ARGES
We'll see, boy!

Arges attacks, stomping at Hercules with his huge booted foot. Hercules leaps out of the way and battles Arges to keep him away from Hephaestus, who seems either unable or unwilling to defend himself. Arges fires his flamethrower/blowtorch at Hercules, who dodges the scorching blasts, flipping and vaulting. Finally a swipe of Arges' foot knocks Hercules to the ground. It looks like he's going to be pounded, but Lilith, Jason and Iolaus, hearing all the commotion, rush out of the main academy building --

JASON
(alarmed)
Hercules!

Lilith, Jason, and Iolaus join the fight against Arges, distracting him with acrobatic moves, giving Hercules a chance to recover and resume the fight. At one point in the fight, Arges picks up a cart filled with 100-pound sacks of flour and dumps the sacks onto Iolaus, knocking him to the ground. One of the sacks bursts open, covering Iolaus with flour, causing him to COUGH and SPLUTTER.

Arges then throws the empty cart at Jason and Lilith, who backflips out of the way. Seeing Iolaus covered in flour gives Hercules an idea. He dashes over to Iolaus and grabs one of the four sacks. Swinging it around like a hammer-throw, Hercules hurls the sack at Arges. The sack strikes Arges in the chest and erupts in a cloud of flour, getting all over him, obscuring his vision. As more CADETS pour out of the academy building to join the fight, Arges, COUGHING and SPLUTTERING and wiping the flour from his face, withdraws toward the shattered wall.

ARGES
(coughs and splutters)
You can't hide here forever! I'll be waiting for you!

Arges backs out past the wall and leaves. Dusting the flour from his clothes, Iolaus looks over at Jason, Hercules, and Lilith.

IOLAUS
Who was Mr. Congeniality?

Jason looks at Iolaus and shrugs. Cheiron arrives as Hercules glances back at the others.

HERCULES
He was after Hephaestus.
IOLAUS
Who?

Hercules looks over at Hephaestus, who as gone into the shed and is straightening up the forge.

HERCULES
Hephaestus. The blacksmith of the gods. My half-brother. You know - Fish.

Hercules goes over to talk to Hephaestus. Iolaus looks at Jason and Lilith.

IOLAUS
Fish is a god? Guess it takes all kinds.
JASON
Let's find out what's going on with that giant.

Jason, Lilith, and Iolaus start to follow Herc, but Cheiron stops them before they've taken more than a couple of steps.

CHEIRON
Wait. Let them speak in private.

But Hephaestus doesn't seem to want to talk to Hercules. He keeps working preoccupied with straightening the forge, like a survivor of a tornado or some other natural disaster dazedly picking up the pieces of his life.

HERCULES
Who was that giant? What did he want with you?
HEPHAESTUS
His name's Arges. He builds things - like me. Only he's sloppy, not as good. He's jealous.

Hercules moves in front of Hephaestus to force him to look at him.

HERCULES
You remember everything now, don't you?

Hephaestus stops and looks at Hercules.

HEPHAESTUS
Yes. I've heard about you. You're my brother, Hercules. Half-brother. Ares doesn't like you much.
HERCULES
I'm not too wild about him either. Look - what happened, Hephaestus? Why are you here?
HEPHAESTUS
(embarrassed)
You won't tell anyone, will you? Hera threw me out. Out of Olympus.

Hephaestus tries to turn away, but Hercules places a hand on his shoulder, stopping him.

HERCULES
Why?
HEPHAESTUS
Because I'm not like Ares. You should know, he's your brother, too - well, half-brother anyway. All I want to do is make things. Hera said if I'm not going to act like a god, I should live down with the mortals.
HERCULES
(hesitantly)
What about Zeus?
HEPHAESTUS
(shrugs)
He says this is between Hera and me.
HERCULES
(bitterly)
Doesn't he care?
HEPHAESTUS
Maybe. I don't know. I don't get to see him much.

Hephaestus turns away and starts picking up things again, putting the forge back in order.

HERCULES
Are you going to go home now? To Olympus, I mean.
HEPHAESTUS
No. Maybe Hera's right. Maybe I don't deserve to be up there.
Iolaus (O.S.)
Psst!

Herc turns and sees Jason, Iolaus and Lilith a short distance away in the courtyard. As Hephaestus cleans up the forge some more, Herc starts over to his friends.

HERCULES
I'll be right back.

As Hercules returns to Jason, Iolaus and Lilith, they're curious:

Lilith
So what did he say? What's he doing here?
HERCULES
Hera threw him out of Olympus.
JASON
Ouch!
HERCULES
He plans to stay down here and start a new life. I guess we have the world's greatest metal-smith as a guest for a while.

Iolaus is looking O.S. and frowning.

IOLAUS
Uh, Hercules...

Herc turns to Iolaus, misunderstanding his interruption.

HERCULES
What, Iolaus? You have a problem with Hephaestus staying here?
IOLAUS
No. But I think he does.

Hercules turns and sees that the forge shed door looks empty.

HERCULES
Hephaestus?

Hercules hurries over to the forge shed door and looks inside.

HERCULES
(calling)
Hephaestus!

DISSOLVE TO:

OMITTED

EXT. MEADOW NEAR A CLIFF - DAY

Hephaestus walks along. Suddenly he hears something CRASHING in the bushes; he looks up, alarmed. Hercules emerges from the bushes, breathing hard - he's been running the whole way from the academy.

HERCULES
(breathing hard)
Hephaestus! Why did you leave like that? You didn't even say goodbye.

Hephaestus stands, unwilling to look Hercules in the eye.

HEPHAESTUS
I had to go. If I stay, the academy's in danger from Arges.
HERCULES
You don't have any idea where you're going, do you?
HEPHAESTUS
It doesn't matter. Anywhere I can live and build things.
HERCULES
You can go back to Olympus.
HEPHAESTUS
But she threw me out.

Hercules steps closer to Hephaestus, forcing him to look at him.

HERCULES
Maybe I have been luckier than you. I've never known our father, but I've always known my mother loves me. Olympus is your home as well as Hera's. Make her accept you. Go home.
HEPHAESTUS
No. I can't go back.

Suddenly, there's a CRASHING in the trees and they look up in alarm as Arges emerges, confronting them, angrily.

ARGES
(to Hercules)
Stand aside, boy!

Hercules steps defensively in front of Hephaestus.

HERCULES
What would fighting prove, Arges?! It won't make your work as good as his!

Arges stomps at Hercules with his massive booted foot - lets out an ANGRY BELLOW. Hercules pushes Hephaestus out of the way and is knocked, tumbling, by the blow. Scrambling to his feet, Hercules picks up a large flat stone and hurls it like a discus. The flat stone strikes Arges in the gut, causing him to GRUNT.

Angered, Arges aims his flamethrower-like blowtorch at Hercules and fires. Hercules somersaults away from the fiery blast. It becomes a desperate fight. Only Hercules' quickness and agility save him as he tumbles, vaults and somersaults away from Arges' crushing stomp with his booted foot and flamethrower blasts. Hephaestus watches, becoming increasingly alarmed for Hercules.

HEPHAESTUS
Stop it!

Finally, a glancing blow from Arges' foot knocks Hercules to the ground, dazed. Arges stands over him, aiming his blowtorch down at him.

ARGES
You should've stayed out of this!

Desperately, Hephaestus pulls a forge hammer from his belt and hurls it as hard as he can, awkwardly, unused to fighting.

HEPHAESTUS
(god-like shout)
NO!!!!

The hammer slams into the mouth of Arges' flamethrower. The impact knocks the giant back a few steps. He stares down at the flamethrower, which he then turns on. The hammer is partially wedged in the sticks for a beat before the building pressure of the flame thrower blasts it out. Hercules notices.

HERCULES
Nice shot, brother.

He looks quickly around, then picks up a large rock (the size of the mouth of the flamethrower.) Meanwhile, Hephaestus has stepped closer to Arges. He waves the giant on, asking for more fight.

HEPHAESTUS
Come on, slop artist!

Arges laughs at Hephaestus, mocking him.

ARGES
(laughs)
You call yourself a god?!

Arges raises his flamethrower to blast Hephaestus.

ARGES
I'll melt you!

But with Arges distracted, Hercules leaps up and launches himself at the giant. As Arges reaches to pull the flamethrower's trigger, Herc lunges forward and stuffs the rock into the mouth of the flamethrower. As Herc tumbles hard to the side, Arges pulls the trigger. Nothing. He looks down at the flamethrower, which is now bulging and shaking from energy overload.

ARGES
(small voice)
Oh, no...

Then the flamethrower blows up, vaporizing itself and Arges in a spectacular instant. Hephaestus goes to help up a battered Herc, who rubs a sore shoulder.

HERCULES
Thanks, Hephaestus. We make a good team.
HEPHAESTUS
(surprised)
I never fought anybody like that before.
HERCULES
You stood up to Arges. I'm proud to be your brother.
(more personal)
And remember: you're Hera's son. Don't let her throw that away.

Hephaestus looks at Herc, his earlier uncertainty replaced by determination.

HEPHAESTUS
You're right! It's not my fault she's disappointed in my. I'm not like Ares. I have to be my own kind of god!
(struggles; then)
I'm going home to Olympus! I'm not going to hide from her anymore.

A thrilled Hephaestus turns to Herc and gives him a quick hug.

HEPHAESTUS
Thank you, Hercules. For everything.

As Hephaestus fades away (CAN WE MAKE IT LONGER THAN THE NORMAL POOF OUT?) Hercules calls out to him:

HERCULES
Wait, Hephaestus! I've got to know: Zeus - does he ever say anything about me?!

Hephaestus starts to respond, but he dematerializes before we can hear what he would have said. Hercules looks down, disappointed, for a beat. Then he looks back up and smiles, waving up to the now vanished Hephaestus:

HERCULES
Goodbye, Fish.

OMITTED

FADE OUT.

THE END