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The Day the World Got Really Weird, a Xena fanfic
Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, and all others characters that have appeared on Xena:Warrior Princess belong solely to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. This story and all others characters belong solely to me, and no one may use it for something without my permission. The Spice Girls, whom I've so cleverly renamed in my story, belong solely to themselves. If anything in my story offends them, that's their problem.
NOTE OF WARNING: If you are disturbed by the thought of anyone kissing Joxer, or really don't like fish, don't read this story.
NOTE OF WARNING: If you are disturbed by the thought of anyone kissing Joxer, or really don't like fish, don't read this story.
The Day the World Got Really Weird
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Birds chirped. The sun rose. Argo neighed softly. Xena woke up. She yawned and stretched.
"Rise and shine, everyone!" she said to her companions. No answer. Xena blinked. She was still groggy from sleeping, which usually never happened. Oh, well, Xena thought. I must have stayed up late last night. The night before was spent in Athens partying. Xena had defeated the evil warlord Croog, and the town had thrown a party for her and her friends. Where are my friends? Xena thought.
"Gabrielle! Joxer!" she shouted. "Hmmph," she said to herself. "Must be fishing." That's when she saw it.
"What the...?" The sun was rising in the west?! I must be imagining things! Xena thought. And where in Tartarus were Gabrielle and Joxer?!
Xena got dressed in her usual leather get-up and walked down to the lake. She peered into the water to see if there were any fish beneath the surface. I could really use some breakfast, she thought. Suddenly, out from the water burst...
...a quail?!? Something was up.
There was a rustling in the bushes behind her. Xena pulled out her sword, and slowly approached the bushes.
"Who's there?" She pushed back the leaves. "I'm warning you! I... By the gods!"
She found Joxer and Gabrielle. They were...well, making-out. They were on the ground, leaning against a tree. Gabrielle was in Joxer's lap, and they were kissing.
"Gabrielle," Xena said. No response. Probably tongue wrestling, she thought. Or at least that's how an ex-boyfriend had put it. She had thought it was disgusting, but it was kinda fun... Anyway, she thought to herself, time to pry these two apart.
"Ahem," she said. More kissing. "Alright, you two, that's enough!"
"What did you say?" asked Joxer, turning his head, and his attention, to Xena. Gabrielle continued, kissing his neck.
"What is going on here?!" said Xena. "Why is she all over you?!"
"I don't know," Joxer replied. "As soon as I woke up, she sorta just pounced on me. And then..." Xena interrupted him. "I don't want to know the details. I just want to know what's going on here! I woke up, and the sun was rising in the west!" Joxer just stared at her.
"Then, I went down to the lake and a quail jumped out of the water! Then I found you two... doing this!"
"I know. It's strange," Joxer said. "But that doesn't mean I don't like it." He looked at Gabrielle. "What about you, honey?"
"Honey ?!" cried Xena. Gabrielle kissed Joxer again.
"Will you two stop it! You're gonna make me throw up!"
"Hey, what did you say about a pigeon?" Joxer asked, turning back to Xena.
"I said a quail leaped out of the water," she answered. Just then, thunder boomed. Uh, oh, thought Xena, now rain. What else? Expecting rain, Xena put one hand on her hip, and the other out palm up, waiting for the rain to come. A nice, plump fish landed in her hand. She looked at it in disbelief. Fish began to fall from the sky. One even landed on Gabrielle's head!
"Ow!" cried Gabrielle.
"Hey! It's raining fish!" said Joxer. Joxer and Gabrielle got up, and with Xena, looked, where else, but up.
"Who's throwing fish at us?" said Xena, still not ready to believe that it was actually raining fish. Joxer yelled, "Run for cover!" and the three ran back to camp. About fifteen minutes later, the fish-rain had stopped, and Xena began to cook breakfast.
"The only good thing about this whole mess," she said, "is that I don't have to go fishing."
Later that day, Xena decided to pay a certain someone a visit. If anyone could make Gabrielle crazy about Joxer, that someone would have to be Aphrodite. The nearest town just happened to have one of the fair goddess's many temples in it. Along the way, Xena had to constantly pry Gabrielle and Joxer apart. When they finally got there, Xena was near madness. It had rained fish two more times since that morning, and she hated being pelted with fish.
As soon as the group entered the town, they noticed that a man was chasing a goat, begging for it to marry him, a rooster was pursuing a young lady, and some men were in a chorus line, singing and dancing. Xena headed straight for the temple, avoiding all the strangeness, and went inside.
"Aphrodite!" she angrily shouted. Gabrielle and Joxer were close behind. Joxer was trying to keep Gabrielle off of him, to no such avail. They ended up kissing again. The air shimmered with golden sparkles, and Aphrodite appeared. Dear, sweet Aphrodite.
"Stop yelling! Only I'm allowed to yell in my temple!" she said. "Geez, what is it?" Xena stepped to one side and waved her arm in Joxer and Gabrielle's direction.
"Wow!" said Aphrodite. "Finally! They're together! Now I don't have to listen to Lover Boy's whining anymore!"
"You mean you didn't do this?" said Xena.
"Oh, come on! What about the sun rising in the west instead of the east?"
"The quail in the water?"
"The raining fish?!?"
Nada. Zip. Zero."
"What about the guy wanting to marry his goat?"
"That was me!"
"Who do you think did this?" Xena asked her.
"I have no idea."
"Could it have been Ares?"
"I don't know. You'll have to ask him." With that, Aphrodite disappeared in the same fashion as she appeared. In a shimmer of sparkles.
"Ares," Xena said beneath her breath, as if it were a dirty word. "Come on, you two! Let's go!" She aggressively pulled the two apart and dragged them with her.
"Hey!" they shouted.
Up in the sky, the planets were moving closer together, almost in a straight line...
The King of Thieves was on the most dangerous mission of his life. He was trying to steal the Diamond of Kukamonga, a valuable gem in the possession of King Nolan. He had gone into King Nolan's castle as a mercenary looking for work. He had already got a job as one of the janitors (yes, janitors) in the halls of the castle. He had already discovered where the diamond was kept, but it was only the problem of getting it out, now.
"George!" shouted another janitor. Autolycus had used that fake name to get in, not exactly one of the high points of his career.
"Hey, want to get some ale? It's after hours, so you don't have to work anymore."
"Um," said Autolycus, "I just have this one hallway. When I'm finished I'll join you." He was almost to the treasure room. He couldn't abandon his plan now.
"Okay," said the other man. "See you later!"
Once the man was gone, Autolycus headed for the treasure room. He had been around long enough to know how to get past the traps and getting the gem was a snap. He soon had the gem in a pouch on his belt. It wasn't very large, but it was very valuable. "Yes!" he said to himself. "Now, to get out of here." He headed out and downstairs to the tavern. It had been built into the castle.
After a few drinks with the other man, who he didn't even know the name of, Autolycus said, "Hey, I really ought to get going."
"Hey, stay awhile!" said the other man.
"Yeah, stay!" said the other men in the tavern. They must think I'm the life of the party, Autolycus thought. He lingered around for a while, and soon got drunk. Big mistake for a professional thief. The bar tender had been eyeing the pouch with the gem inside, and at the end of the night, he nearly paid the tab with the gem. If it weren't for the nameless man, who paid, He would've been caught red-handed. I'd better leave, he thought.
"Okay," he said to the others, "I'd better get going. Bye, everyone!" He started to the door when an odd feeling came over him.
"Wait a minute," he said. "I am the culprit!" Everyone stared at him, then shrugged and resumed drinking.
"I am the one," he shouted, "who stole the Diamond of Kukamonga!"
The next day, Xena and gang had set out to find Ares. Normally, he showed up on his own and stirred up trouble, but now, Xena couldn't find him. She had stayed up late the night before, making sure that Gabrielle and Joxer stayed away from each other. She eventually gave up, though. It was like taking a fish out of water.
Speaking of fish, Xena was really sick of the raining fish by now, and the constant making-out of Gabrielle and Joxer. I can't leave them for one second, she thought, or they'll do something regrettable. They were almost to Ares' temple, and the only normal things on the whole hike up there were Argo and herself.
Just then, Argo jerked away. Xena held her reins tighter, and petted Argo's silky mane.
"What's wrong, girl?" she asked the horse. "Huh?" Argo jerked away more fiercely, making Xena lose her grip on the reins. Argo galloped away, much to the protests of Xena.
"Hey! Hey! Come back, Argo!" she shouted after her horse. "Argo just ran off," she said to Gabrielle and Joxer, but they were too preoccupied with each other's lips to notice.
It began to rain fish again.
"AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!" Xena yelled.
Later, things seemed more normal, but Argo was still gone. Xena wondered what could have made her run off like that. She had to concentrate on finding Argo, finding Ares, and on why it kept raining fish. Anything to keep her mind off that horribly annoying song!
Joxer the Mighty Roams through the countryside He never needs a place to hide! With Gabby as his sidekick Fighting with her little stick...
Joxer and Gabrielle had given up on physical pleasures, and, apparently, had decided to drive Xena totally off the edge. They were singing Joxer's song, which Gabrielle usually couldn't stand, but apparently loved now. Once they got to the end of the song, Gabrielle suggested that they sing it again. It went on like that for a half an hour when...
Xena yelled, "Shut up!" They stopped singing, lucky for Xena, but played Twenty Questions instead.
"Are you a vegetable?" Joxer asked.
"Nope," said Gabrielle.
"Do you look like a vegetable?"
"Do you smell like a vegetable?"
"It has nothing to do with vegetables!" she snapped.
Good, thought Xena, she's returning to her normal self.
"Are you a pumpkin?"
"No, but you are, Pumpkin!" They kissed again.
I guess not, thought Xena.
They finally got to Ares' temple, but it was the same as the story with Aphrodite. It was exactly the same with all of the gods, and by the end of the day, Xena was exhausted. Gabrielle and Joxer, apparently, weren't.
This is gonna be a long night, Xena thought. Wait a minute, why do I care? So what if they...you know. Xena conked out immediately. She didn't care what happened, she just wanted to get away from the raining fish, chorus lines, and water breathing birds. She wanted to sleep.
Meanwhile, for Joxer and Gabrielle, it wasn't a night of out of control passion. Gabrielle had fallen asleep, and Joxer decided that he could wait. If he did ever "do it" with Gabrielle, it would be the real Gabrielle. He sighed, and went to sleep next to her.
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Birds chirped, the sun rose, and Xena awoke. She looked over at Joxer and Gabrielle. They were cuddled up next to each other. Xena went down to the lake and caught a bird. She was sick of eating fish. So that some of the fish from the sky didn't go to waste, they had been eating that. She let the other two sleep late and cooked herself some breakfast. Just as she was about to take a hot, steaming, yummy bite of quail, it began to rain fish.
"Rise and shine," she said sarcastically to herself.
After visiting several towns, all with strange things such as cows in dresses and more chorus lines, Xena and her two lovestruck companions finally reached a somewhat normal town.
"Okay, gang, we need some more supplies and maybe one of us should ask around about any wizards in the area..." Xena looked back to see if they were listening and, of course, they weren't.
"But of course," she said to herself, but there was no time to complain. A large crowd had gathered in the Town Square, and Xena decided to check it out.
Autolycus was tied to a stake in the center of town, with an angry mob around him.
"No one disrespects King Nolan!" shouted one man.
"Yeah!" shouted the crowd.
"No one steals from the king!" he said.
The man got up onto the platform that the pole Autolycus was tied to was on.
"How should we punish this vile rough?" he asked.
"Burn him!" shouted someone in the crowd.
"Yeah!" shouted the crowd.
"No, hang him!" said someone else.
"No, cut off his hands, so that he may never steal again!" said someone.
"No! Let's cut off his feet, so he may never walk again!" suggested someone else.
One meek woman even suggested that they cut off his mustache. There was no resounding "Yeah!"
"No! Those ideas all stink! Let's cut off his..." "ENOUGH!"
Everyone turned their heads to look to the back, including Autolycus. The crowd parted, revealing the mighty Xena.
"That's my friend and you are not going to hurt him in any way!" she said. You could tell that she was not someone to mess with. Everyone noticed this, except for the man on the platform.
"How dare you! This man has committed a terrible crime!"
"Oh, yeah?" said Xena. "And what was that?"
"He stole the Diamond of Kukamonga."
Oh, great! Xena thought.
"He must be punished!" said the man.
"Yeah!" shouted the crowd.
"Yeah!" yelled Autolycus, which startled Xena. "I must pay for my evil ways! I have sinned and must accept the consequences!"
What is going on here? Xena thought.
"Alright, you asked for it! Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yiiiiii!" With that, Xena flipped into the air, right over the crowd, and landed on the platform. She kicked the man, apparently the leader of the mob, square in the chest. He fell off the platform and on top of someone. Xena pulled out her sword and cut the ropes binding Autolycus to the pole.
"I am never doing anything like this for you ever again!" she said to him. She grabbed him by the arm, and ran towards the exit, much to the protests of Autolycus.
"I've wronged these people by stealing their property. I must pay!" he said as she dragged him off.
"I also stole the towels!" he shouted to the crowd. "And I slept with the Princess!" This got the townspeople even angrier. A woman in the back, wearing a crown, blushed.
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" said a very ticked off Xena.
After that horrific ordeal, Xena and Autolycus caught up with Gabrielle and Joxer, but they weren't out of the woods yet.
"The angry mob is close behind. We need a place to hide," Xena said to the others.
"Oh!" said Gabrielle. "Joxer and I found a cave, where we were..."
"Gabrielle!" Joxer said.
"...where we were, uh, talking!"
"Have you seen Argo?" Xena asked them.
"Sorry, Xena, but we haven't," Joxer replied.
"Okay. Show me this cave," Xena said. Angry shouts were heard behind them.
"Let's go!" she added.
Later, in the cave, the little group was safe. The angry mob had no idea where they were, and had given up and gone home. Joxer and Gabrielle were in the back, discussing something about curtains, and Xena had set up a fire. She began to cook dinner, and was sitting by the fire with Autolycus.
"You like fish?" she said to him. "'Cause there's plenty of it."
"No thanks, Xena," he said.
"What exactly happened back there?" she asked him. She just had to get to the bottom of this.
"When I realized how wrong it was for me to steal the Diamond of Kukamonga, I decided to give it back."
"Autolycus, you're the King of Thieves. You're supposed to take things that aren't yours."
"Well, I'll have to change my title."
"You've changed a lot, Autolycus."
He moved closer to her. He grinned. "Do you like it?" he asked her. She thought for a moment, and looked at him. She moved her face really close to his.
"No," she said.
"I thought that you'd go for that kind of thing."
"It's just not you." He got up.
"Okay, time for bed. I will dream sweet dreams tonight."
Xena laughed. "Oh, really!"
"Yes," he said. "Of becoming the King of the No Thieves Club."
"Oh, that's a nice title! Did you think that all on your own?" she said sarcastically.
"Is someone cranky?" he said.
"Oh, it's nothing, I just hate fish." She slapped another fish onto the fire.
"Pink?! I just love that color!" She heard Gabrielle say. Xena sighed. I am getting sick and tired of this, she thought. That night, once everyone else had fallen asleep, Xena was still awake, worrying about her horse, Argo.
Salmoneus was dealing with a new, and strange, group of clients (for he was an agent) named the Spice Rack Girls or something. He had just met them, and they seemed to be promising singers.
"Okay," he said to them. "You're Ginger." He pointed at the redhead. He wanted to get their names right. "And you're Sporty."
"That's me!" she said.
"And you're Baby."
"Yup!" said the girl with the blond pigtails. She was sucking on some new-fangled food called a lollypop. I should market that, he thought.
"I'm not Scary! I'm Posh! She's Scary." She pointed to the dark skinned girl beside her with the wild hair.
"Okay! Okay! You're Scary," he said, looking straight at the girl beside Posh.
"That's my name, so don't wear it out!" She flashed her tongue at him, and it had a stud in it.
"Geez, you are scary!" he said, startled by the piece of metal sticking through her tongue.
"What was that?" she asked him.
"Uh, nothing," Salmoneus said. He continued. "Okay, I've listened to you sing and you sound good. How about a small concert, nothing too big yet, on the fourth in Athens? That'd make some money! Until then, you girls just keep practicing, and maybe you'll make it big." They nodded.
"I can see it now, you girls singing in Thebes, Crete, well, maybe even Sparta! I'll be rich! Er...I mean you'll be rich. Anyway..." He went on, naming ideas and campaigns so far into the future that the five girls got a bit bored. They sat there, listening to him ramble on about hitting it big and getting merchandise in their image, and so on and so forth.
Suddenly, an odd feeling came over Salmoneus. He stopped talking, and picked up a dinar from his desk. He looked at it, and looked at the girls, a huge grin on his face.
"I have a fantastic idea girls!" They leaned in closer, suddenly awake from their daydreaming, which was the only interesting thing to do while he was talking.
"Let's give all our money... TO THE POOR!"
Birds chirped, the sun rose, Xena awoke, yada, yada, yada. She looked around. Burned fish in a frying pan, Joxer and Gabrielle cuddled up, Argo still gone, and Autolycus snoring. I was hoping so much that it was just a dream, she thought.
She got up, got dressed, woke everyone else up, ate burned fish, and they got going. It was probably way too early and too much of a bother for the townspeople to look for them some more, so there was no worry there. The little group trekked to the next town, and Xena told everyone to split up.
"Autolycus, get us something to eat other than fish. Gabrielle, leave Joxer for two seconds and ask people if anything strange has happened. Joxer, go look for Argo. I'm going to scout around a bit."
Gabrielle whined and refused to leave Joxer. He eased her mind to rest.
"I will be with you shortly, my love. There is nothing to fear. I will not look at any other woman while you are gone. That is a promise." Gabrielle kissed him. Xena rolled her eyes. Autolycus was trying to make some young ruffian "see the light". Xena yelled at everyone and they were on their way.
Xena walked along, looking around, glad to finally be rid of the two lovebirds and the ex-thief for a few minutes. That's when she noticed the commotion. She asked an old woman what was going on.
"Why, there's a man with a beard giving away money in the center of town. Go check it out. You might get rich, like me!"
Oh, no! Xena thought, and ran to the center of town. Up on a platform (yes, another platform!) was Salmoneus, who was throwing money into the crowd. A group of tall, oddly dressed women were heading towards him, and they didn't look very happy. Not again?! Xena thought.
She flipped into the air, over the crowd, and onto the platform. "Salmoneus, what are you doing?!"
"I'm giving this money to the unfortunate. I don't need it, but they do." He pointed to the people.
"That's nice," Xena said, "but who are they?" She pointed to the five women behind him. Salmoneus turned around.
The girls' high shoes clicked, clacked, and clamored on the cobblestone street. They approached the platform with ominous glints in their eyes. They climbed up onto the platform, or at least tried to.
"I can't get up!" cried the one named Posh. Scary and Sporty tried to help her up.
"Your skirt's too bloody short!" said the redhead, Ginger. Posh finally got up, and the five girls faced Xena, fists, and fake fingernails, up.
"Get back," Xena said to Salmoneus, "and let me handle this."
"He gave away all our money!" cried Baby.
"We want it back!" Scary said. They came closer.
"Girls, you have no idea who you're messing with!" Xena said. "I am in a really bad mood, but I don't want to ruin your nice, pretty faces." She glared at them. "Okay?"
"ATTACK!" shouted Sporty. Just then, as if on cue, fish started falling from the sky again. The old woman Xena had talked to earlier was overjoyed.
"Money and trout! Alleluia!"
"Eww!" cried Ginger. "It's raining fish!" shouted Sporty. "Gross! I smell like bass! Let's get out of here!" Posh yelled. The five girls retreated best they could in pumps.
"The world has gotten so weird!" Xena said. Salmoneus didn't hear her.
"You saved me from those tall, scary, vixens! Can I come with you?" Xena thought about it. She already had two lovebirds and a thief behaving like a minister. That reminded her of an adventure once took to bring dancing back to a strict and boring town. Autolycus had pretended to be a minister, and Gabrielle danced up a storm. Anyway, she already had a large and oddball group, and was used to it just being her, Gabrielle, and Argo. Oh, my poor Argo! she thought. I hope she's okay!
"No," she said, and started to walk away.
"Please, please, please!" he said.
"Hey, Sal, how ya' doing?" Autolycus was walking towards them. I thought they hated each other, Xena thought.
"Hey, do you think I should come along?" Salmoneus asked him.
"Definitely," he said. "I could use some male company whose tongue is not constantly in Gabrielle's mouth." Joxer and Gabrielle, apparently, had found each other and had been kissing again.
"Great!" said Salmoneus. "I'd do anything to get away from those Spice Rack Girls! Wait, whose tongue is in Gabrielle's mouth?" A woman ran by a food stand nearby and took an apple.
"Hey! That woman's stealing an apple! I must stop her!" Autolycus ran after the woman. He came back an hour later.
"Believe it or not, it was that princess from the last town."
"Can we get going?" Salmoneus said, anxious to leave.
"There he is! That's the man who gave away all our money!" The Spice Rack Girls had found them, and led a small group of people. "After them!" one of them shouted.
"Deja vu," Xena said under her breath.
"What?" Salmoneus asked.
"Come on!" Xena yelled to the others. She grabbed Salmoneus by the arm and they ran off. Joxer and Gabrielle were sitting on a bench kissing.
"Come on! There's no time for romance!" shouted Autolycus. The girls and their group soon became another angry mob, which didn't even know who they were chasing. Xena and her little band were running for their lives, again, and Xena tried to think as she was running.
Okay, I had to save two people I knew from angry mobs. Neither one of them were acting like themselves. Let me see... Xena leapt over a bush. Joxer tripped, and the other three tried to help him up as fast as they could and continued running. They ran into a forest.
"I don't normally do this!" shouted Salmoneus.
"I do it all the time, or at least used to," Autolycus said.
"I thought you never got caught," Xena said to him.
Let me see, Xena thought, Gabrielle wanting Joxer, Autolycus not stealing, Salmoneus giving away money...
The group took a sharp left.
...Argo hating me, birds in the water, fish in the sky... "That's it!" Xena shouted.
"What's it?" asked Joxer, who was running beside her now.
"Everyone head for that clearing up ahead. I think we're going to get some help from the heavens." Rain clouds formed overhead. They stopped, gasping for breath, in the clearing. The angry mob followed. They were sitting ducks.
"Are you crazy?!?" Autolycus yelled. "They'll tear us to pieces!"
"Oh, no they won't! No one rips the Warrior Princess to shreds and gets away with it!"
The Spice Rack Girls were at the head of the mob and looked really ticked off. Thunder boomed, and it rained fish. "Eww! Fish!" Four of the five girls ran away for shelter, but Scary stayed behind. "CHARGE!" she yelled. The mob came at them.
"Ooh, do come!" Xena said and grinned.
"You're not going to hurt innocent people, are you?" cried Gabrielle.
"Of course not!" Xena said. The mob ran forward and slipped on the slippery fishes on the ground. They fell right on their butts, and this bought Xena and gang the time to escape.
"Sometimes you're a genius!" Autolycus said to Xena.
"It was nothing," she said. She smiled. He smiled back.
Eventually, the group found another cave, which was vaguely similar to the last one they were in.
"I feel like we're going in circles," Joxer said. Xena assured him that they weren't. She said that if it were the same cave, it would smell like fish. Thank goodness for her, it didn't.
That night, Gabrielle spoke to Xena for the first time in a long time, other than at the clearing.
"Look, Xena, I'm sorry about paying so much attention to Joxer. I just don't know what's come over me."
"It's okay," Xena told her. "Sometimes men do that." She looked over at Autolycus.
"Do what?" Gabrielle asked.
"Make us go crazy."
"Maybe it's hormones."
"Gabby, c'mere!" Joxer said. Gabrielle grinned.
"Coming!" she said. She winked at Xena and walked across the cave to Joxer. Autolycus came over to Xena. She was sharpening her sword.
"Why are you sharpening that? You didn't use it," he said.
"It's a comfort thing," she answered.
"Look, Sal fell asleep, so I thought I 'd hang out with you for a while."
"Okay," she said, not looking up. He sat down next to her.
"That thing with the fish really was genius. How did you know it was gonna do that?"
"Call it a lucky guess."
"I know how much you hate fish."
"Let's just say I haven't had very good experiences with fish lately."
"Any good experiences with men?" Xena looked up.
"Why do you care?"
"Let's just say I'm curious."
"Are you coming on to me?" she asked.
"I thought you liked that princess."
"Not anymore," he said, "and anyway, there's romance in the air. Those two rubbed off on me." He pointed at Gabrielle and Joxer.
"If you're implying anything, the answer is no," Xena said.
"Don't warrior princesses get lonely?"
"It would ruin our friendship." He laughed.
"Good night, Xena," Autolycus said, and he went back to his part of the cave.
"Goodnight," Xena said. She put away her sharpening stone and sword. Her and the others lay down and went to sleep.
The planets were lined up.
The remnants of evil General Croog's army were holding a meeting at the remains of his fort. The Warrior Princess had killed their leader, and local villagers had destroyed most of his fort. Joel and thirty other men had deserted Croog as soon as news of Xena had even arrived, and were glad they did, even though they were probably considered sissies in Ares' eyes. Croog had been foolish to think he could take five villages at once, thought Joel, who had been a lieutenant in Croog's army. Oh, yes. It had seemed like easy pickings, but who'd have thought that Xena would come along and ruin everything.
They decided to mug some villagers to get some cash and rebuild the fort. They didn't have to try for world domination, thought Joel, but this one little area would be nice. As long as Xena didn't come along... Yeah, right, thought Joel. Like thirty-one men could control this whole area!
Unknown to Joel, Xena and her group had arrived right under their noses. Xena had decided to give up trying to figure things out, and concentrate on finding Argo. She was still worried about her, and hoped that she had not strayed far. Xena assumed that if they didn't split up this time, nothing bad would happen. She was dead wrong.
The little group roamed the village's mini-marketplace, and Xena asked people questions while Gabrielle shopped. The three men talked.
"So," said Salmoneus. "You stole the Diamond of Kukamonga."
"But I gave it back," Autolycus said.
"You never do things like that!" Joxer said.
"Well Gabrielle's never crazy about you!" Autolycus said.
"Well maybe she is!"
Salmoneus interrupted. "Guys! Don't fight!"
"You're not yourself either," Autolycus said to him. "Normally, when you see money, your whole face lights up. Now you just give it to poor people."
"That's a good thing!" he said.
"Of course it is," Autolycus said, "but it almost got you killed by those Spice Rack Girls."
"That one with the blond pigtails was really cute!" Joxer said.
"Joxer!" Gabrielle snapped. She slapped him.
"Ow!" he cried. Apparently, she had been listening. Just then, the mighty Hercules appeared! Iolaus wasn't with him. It was a long story. He walked up to them.
"Hey! The gang's all here!" he said.
"Almost," Xena said. "Where's Iolaus?" Herc looked down at his feet. "It's a long story," he said. Unfortunately, he couldn't tell his story. A pack of marauders, really some of Joel's men, came along and stole some bread and some money from a crying family. They saw Xena and bolted.
"Those poor people! I must help them!" said Salmoneus. He grabbed their bag of money from Gabrielle. "Hey!" she said. He took out half, and gave it to the woman and her children.
"May the gods bless you!" the woman said. Salmoneus came back smiling. He wasn't for long. Xena wasn't usually the greedy type, except when she needed food (other than fish) herself.
"You gave away half our money!" she shouted at him.
"I know!" he said. She punched him. He fell. Hercules said, "What's going on here?" just when the marauders came back, in larger numbers. A strange feeling came over Hercules.
"Ahhh! Gotta hide!" he cried. Xena was fighting some of the marauders off. Punch. Kick. Slap. Gabrielle was doing similar things with her staff, and Autolycus was fighting too. Xena had knocked out Salmoneus, and Joxer was frozen to the spot. He did normally try to fight, but for some reason this didn't seem like a good time to.
"Hercules! Help us!" Hercules was trying to fit into a wicker basket that was too small for him. "Gotta hide!" he was saying.
"Hercules!" cried Xena. Then, some of the marauders retreated. Whew! Xena thought. No time for relaxation yet, though. Ten of the remaining marauders ran by and grabbed the money pouch from Gabrielle. Herc was still cowering by the baskets.
"What has gotten into you?" Xena asked him. Hercules just sucked his thumb. There was no time for an answer, anyway. Autolycus was already off and running.
"Get back here you filthy heathens! You've stolen our property!" he shouted at the marauders. Xena went after him.
Salmoneus woke up. "What did I miss?" he asked. Gabrielle kicked him. "Ow!" he cried. She looked at Joxer angrily.
"About that girl..."
"Look, Gabby, I'm sorry I thought the blond one was cute. I..." She interrupted him by kissing him. "I forgive you," she said. They kissed some more.
"I want to go home!" Hercules cried. Salmoneus looked at him. "That's not the Hercules I know," he said. Herc sucked his thumb.
"Autolycus!" Xena shouted. "Get back here!"
"Marauders!" Autolycus shouted. "Get back here!"
Xena saw the men Autolycus was chasing. One of them still had the money purse.
"Get back here with that money!" she shouted at the marauders. "It's the only money that Salmoneus didn't give away!" She had caught up to Autolycus by now.
"That's the spirit!" he said.
"Bite me!" she replied, and she glared at him.
Aha! Xena thought. They had chased the marauders to a dead end street. Time to get tough. Although there were a lot of them, the marauders were terrified of Xena. They had heard about what she did to the rest of their army. It may not have been completely true, but they feared her anyway.
Xena took her chakram and threw it at the wall to her right. It bounced off to the other wall, and hit four men, injuring them.
"Uh, was that alright to do? They look hurt pretty bad..." Autolycus said.
"Just shut up and fight," Xena said, and they began to fight. Xena kicked a man in the stomach, and then in the legs, knocking him down. Autolycus punched a man, and avoided several of the other guy's punches. Xena flipped into the air, into the middle of the group of marauders. She kicked the man who was after Autolycus in the back, and kicked the man in the head. He was out cold.
"Thanks," said Autolycus.
"No problem," Xena said, as she fought two more oncoming marauders. She had pulled out her sword, and it became a three person duel.
"Look," Autolycus said, while fighting two other bad guys, "about the Diamond of Kukamonga..."
"What about it?" Xena asked. She tripped a guy she was fighting.
"If I had kept my mouth shut and just left..."
"Then you wouldn't be fighting here with me right now," she said.
"That wasn't what I was going to say."
"What were you going to say?" she asked him. The two men she had been fighting were down. She looked at Autolycus.
"I was going to say that I'm sorry you had to drag me along and..." He paused. She looked at him expectantly.
"And...?" she said.
"You're in love with me, aren't you?" he said. Just then, the remaining two guys charged at him. Xena flipped into the air, yelling her war cry, and knocked down the two men with a flying kick. One of them had her money pouch. She took it from his hand, and said to Autolycus, "No. I'm not."
All the way back to the mini-marketplace, Autolycus teased Xena about being in love with him, and she kept denying it. When they got back, Autolycus broke the "news".
"Xena's in love with me."
"I am not!"
Hercules whined. "I thought she liked me!" he said. Autolycus glared at him. Xena explained what was going on. The remnants of Croog's army were probably trying to control the area...
"...So we've got to stop them," she said. She started to walk away.
That's when Joxer said, "Wait a minute. Xena, aren't we gonna hang around here a while and plan our strategy?"
"No," she said. "We're going to charge right in and kick butt."
Xena started to walk away again, when she heard Gabrielle say, "Alright, everybody. You heard her. All for one, and one for all!"
"Yeah!" everyone said, except for Hercules.
"Enough with this crap!" said Xena. "Let's go!"
Croog's fortress loomed over the little group, which really creeped everyone out, even with half of it missing.
"Okay," Xena said. "If we can't get in through the front door, we'll have to scale the wall."
"But I'm afraid of heights!" Hercules said.
"No, you're not," Xena said.
"Well I am now."
"We'll need a rope and grapple to get up there," Gabrielle pointed out. "We don't have one."
"Good point," said Xena. "Then we'll charge right in."
"Aren't you ignoring a big factor, Xena?" said Autolycus.
"And what is that?"
"Half of the fort is missing. We can just go in the side without a wall."
The troupe hiked up the hill that the citadel was on and walked around to the collapsed side. An overwhelming fear came over Xena. What was I thinking?! she thought. Wait, there's only twenty men in here, maybe less. What am I so afraid of?
"I'm scared!" said Hercules.
"You're not alone, Herc," Xena said to him.
Gabrielle comforted him. "I think we're all scared, Hercules."
"What are we afraid of?!" Joxer suddenly said. "There's probably only a few guys in there!" He started to walk into the building.
"Yes, and they're probably armed to the teeth!" Gabrielle said. She grabbed his arm and pulled him to her. "Be careful, Joxer," she said. "I couldn't live without you!" With that, she kissed him more passionately than ever. Xena felt compelled to do the same thing to Autolycus, but fought it. He was way ahead of her though. He pulled her to him and kissed her. Xena never wanted to leave his embrace, but did when she heard Hercules sobbing.
"I thought she loved me!" he cried to Salmoneus. "She mislead me, Salmoneus! She broke my heart!"
"There, there Herc." Salmoneus said. He patted him on the shoulder.
"Wow!" said Gabrielle, who, apparently, was finished with Joxer. "Xena finally has a boyfriend! For a while it seemed like she liked me!" She laughed, but once she realized that no one else was laughing, and everyone was staring at her, she stopped.
"How touching!" said a voice from above. It had been a trap! They must have known that Xena and gang would take the easy way into the fort, through the collapsed part of the building. How could I have been so stupid?! Xena thought.
Twenty men jumped down from part of a wall. Just as I predicted, thought Xena. Hercules fainted, and Salmoneus ran away. Everyone else began to fight, but were outnumbered five to one. The bad guys managed to back them against a wall, and the man named Joel stepped forward.
"Ah. Xena," he said. "So glad to make your acquaintance." He took her hand and kissed it. She snatched it away. "You're kinda cute when you're trapped like a rat," he said.
"Hey!" said Autolycus. "That's my girl!"
"You're girl?!" Xena said to him.
"What did you think that kiss was about?" he said.
"I thought it was that stupid enchantment that's on us!"
"What enchantment?" Joel asked. Just then, a man in Joel's mini army, who was still on top of the wall, shouted, "Look! Over there!"
Everyone turned to look. Apparently, the town militia wasn't too pleased with Xena's town-saving skills, and had taken matters into their own hands.
"Who's guarding the front gate?" Joel shouted up to the man.
"No one!" the man said.
"Ha, ha! Outsmarted by villagers!" Xena teased.
"You did this!" he said.
"Who's trapped like a rat now?!" taunted Gabrielle.
"Why you little...!" There was no time for a fight, though. The villagers had not only captured the fort, but had surrounded Joel and his men, too.
"Someday, Xena, I'll..." Joel started, but a net was thrown over him and he was dragged away.
"Serves him right!" said Joxer. "He'll never bother this town again! Now where were we?" he asked Gabrielle. They began to kiss some more.
"What about me?" Autolycus asked Xena.
"I'll get to you later," Xena said, and grinned.
The planets went back to their normal positions.
The next day, the village held a party. This is the second one I've been to this week, Xena thought. Since they saved the village, things had started to go back to normal, and Argo came back! Xena and Gabrielle had been overjoyed when Argo came back, fed her extra hay and brushed her mane. That afternoon, it was time for everyone to say their good-byes.
"Well, this is it," Hercules said. "I have no idea if I did anything heroic or not, but at least I got to go to a party." Salmoneus chimed in, too. "I'll need to find someplace to go. I can't go back to that last town because of the Spice Rack Girls. Hey, can I go with you?" he asked Hercules.
"I guess so," he said. "But not far."
"Great!" Salmoneus said. "Bye, Xena! Bye everybody!" The two of them walked away.
"I smell awful! I could really use a bath!" Gabrielle said.
"With me?" Joxer asked her.
"No way! Not with you! Not in this lifetime, anyway," she said. Xena was glad that Gabrielle was back to normal, but was busy saying her good-byes to Autolycus.
"So this is it," he said.
"Yup!" said Xena. They looked around. Joxer and Gabrielle were arguing behind them.
"So," she said.
Joxer approached them. "You know," he said, "you two would make a really cute couple!" Xena looked at him.
"Excuse me while I gag!" she said.
"Hey!" Autolycus looked hurt. Joxer walked away.
"Well, I'd better get going," Xena said. She started to walk towards Argo and the others.
"Xena," Autolycus said. She turned around.
"Yes?" she said.
"I'm gonna try to steal the Ruby of Aphrodite, next," he said.
"She won't be too happy about that," Xena said. "So, you're the King of Thieves again?"
"The one and only!" Xena smiled, and started to walk away. "Xena," he said.
"Yes?" He took her hand and kissed it.
"At least we'll always have Croog's fort." He winked at her, and walked away.
"Did I miss something?" Gabrielle asked her.
"It's nothing," Xena said. Gabrielle looked at her.
"Anyway, I learned a valuable lesson from this whole ordeal," Gabrielle said.
"And what's that?" Xena asked.
"That Joxer has bad breath."
"Hey!" cried Joxer. Just then, a fish hit Xena.
"Oh, no, not again?!" She looked up.
"Sorry!" said a voice to her right. She looked around. "Sorry! I was throwing it to a friend at another fish stand," said a man.
"Oh, okay," Xena said.
"What is it?" asked Gabrielle.
"You never know," she said. Gabrielle looked at her, puzzled. Xena chuckled to herself. You never know, she thought. With that, the trio and the horse walked off into the sunset.
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