What's With The Sun?
Legal Disclaimer: You guessed it, the
characters of Xena and Gabrielle, and Argo, as well as all others
associated with the show (Joxer, Autolycus, Ephiny) belong to
you-know-who (MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures, in case you don't).
No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction.
The premise for this story was shamelessly stolen from a very cute children's tale titled "Someone Is Eating The Sun" by Ruth A. Sonneborn. Again, no copyright infringement is intended, no profit gained.
The characters Sina, Gabby, and all their little friends are mine, however (at least SOMETHING in this story is *g*)
This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers.
Sex, Drugs & Violence: Nope. Just a bunch of half-panicked kids.
This is the third entry in the "Tell Me"-Series.
April 11, 1999
What a perfect summer day!
Finally escaped from the maddening prison of being grounded, Gabby skipped along on the sidewalk, quickly covering the distance to Sina's house a couple of blocks away. The sun was beating down on the sidewalk for all he was worth, and not a trace of a cloud marred the endless expanse of deep blue sky.
The blonde child had a little duffel bag slung over her shoulder. They had decided to take Argo out for a ride to the lake, and go swimming. Sina had promised to show her how to reach the bottom of the lake today, a trick Gabby had not been able to accomplish so far, and she was excited.
When she arrived at Sina's place, the little Warrior Princess already had Argo saddled (after pleading with her mom for the last three days to be allowed to take her out of the garage again after their faux-pas at Deathbringer's Ditch). The bike, freshly polished and oiled, shone in the sunlight, the bag containing Sina's towel and a spare bathing suit dangling from the handle bar. Of course, the wooden handle of her trusty sword peeked out from the bag as well.
"About time," the black-haired child muttered when she caught sight of her friend. "Come on, up you go, the water's not gonna get any cooler," she told a pouting Gabby, who nevertheless climbed up onto the bike behind her friend, and off they went. Down the street, and to the right, a few minutes through open country, to the lake that was the town's place for recreation. No shortcuts, no straying from the path, like the good little kids they were.
"Come on, try again! You almost got it this time!"
Two figures could be seen, head and shoulders above the relatively calm surface of the lake, bobbing lightly with the soft undulations of the crystal-clear water. Their breath made little clouds of steam in the early morning air.
"Hang on, Gabrielle, what are you talking about? There is no way I can see us blowing clouds of steam in this heat."
Treading water, Gabby rolled her eyes. "I just thought it sounded more idyllic than a crowded, luke-warm lake full of people bathing."
"Whatever," Sina agreed, "just make it warm, and midday, okay?"
"Oh all right. Spoilsport."
"Okay, here goes," Gabrielle said, took a huge gulp of breath, and dove forward. Her legs kicking briefly above the surface of the water, she disappeared below while her dark-haired friend looked on with a tiny half-smile. "Remember to let the air out as you go down", she called after the bard.
The surface of the water calmed again while the bard was down, the occasional bubble rising and betraying where she must be. Still expectant, Xena remained very still and stared at the spot where the blonde had disappeared.
A huge splash, and Gabrielle emerged again, a triumphant yell escaping her even before she had quite broken the surface. In her hands, a silvery, shining form was flopping wildly back and forth, struggling to wriggle out of her grasp.
"I did it!!! Look Xena, I really did it!"
"I knew you could do it Gabrielle," the warrior said with an indulgent smile. "And look what a nice one, too. Now, why don't you toss it over there with the others, and lets go prepare lunch, huh?"
"Sounds like a plan."
She tossed her prize ashore. It flew in a huge silvery arc, to land on a large pile of large multicolored stones. No longer a fat bass but an ordinary piece of wet rock again, the stone joined its companions with a loud clack.
From the water rose two young girls in cartoon-character bathing suits, wringing water from their hair and shivering a little when a breath of air stirred. Gabby grabbed their towels, and tossed one to Sina, a pleased grin nearly splitting her face in half.
"All the way to the bottom, Sina. I really did it," she chattered on excitedly.
The other girl's blue eyes sparkled with quiet pride for her smaller friend. "Yes, you sure did," she said.
They sat down by their pile of treasure, Gabby unpacking the sandwiches her mom had prepared for them. She handed one to Sina before taking a huge bite out of her own. Hmmmm, peanut butter and jelly! Just the food for hungry warriors and bards!
Suddenly Sina stopped in mid-chew, and frowned up at the sky. "Hey, Gabby, what's with the sun?" she said around a sticky mouthful of sandwich. "Does it look funny to you, too?"
Gabby shielded her eyes and squinted at the glowing ball. "Looks okay to me," she said. "Why, what's- Holy Shoe!!!!" (Of course, she wasn't allowed to say that other word) "It looks like there's a tiny piece missing."
"Yep. I've been watching it for a while, and it looks like it's growing. We've got trouble, Gabrielle."
"For sure! We need to see Zeus about this! Something is eating the sun! Let's get Argo saddled and warn everybody!"
Indeed, mighty Apollo looked like someone had chewed a bite from him. Xena quickly threw the saddle onto her trusty mare, while Gabrielle gathered their belongings and crammed them into the saddlebags.
In a matter of minutes, they were riding hard across the plain, fear gripping their hearts, yelling a warning to anyone they passed.
Little Jock crouched on the sidewalk, pushing his matchbox cars along the roads he had chalked there, when he heard the commotion at the far end of the street. Sina came pedaling up on her bike as if the Hounds of Hell were after them (which probably wasn't far off the mark, Jock thought), yelling wildly, while little Gabby seated behind her was frantically waving an arm at him.
The bike screeched to a halt before him, both girls out of breath and obviously quite distraught.
"Joxer, something terrible is happening," Gabrielle panted.
"What, has the sun gone out?" the would-be-warrior replied in a slightly bored tone, never looking up from whatever it was he was doing crouched on the ground.
"Not yet, but it might," the Warrior Princess told him coolly. (Though her flushed, sweaty face somehow belied her nonchalance)
"Look up and see for yourself," the bard added with a reproachful frown.
"Oh yeah, right, you two. I'm not buying it. You're just trying to make fun again of poor little Joxer."
Abruptly, he found himself in a headlock, with the razor-sharp blade of Xena's sword held to his throat. "Listen, Joxer, we don't have the time to put up with your foolishness. Look up there now!"
Gulping, Joxer complied. And gasped. The missing bit in the sun had grown larger in the meantime, and the sky was darkening already.
"Something is eating the sun," Gabrielle explained, "and we're on our way to tell Zeus! Are you coming, or what?"
Moments later the three of them were racing along, the warrior on horseback, Joxer and the bard running as fast as their legs would carry them, fear gripping their hearts.
Darker the sky grew, as more of the brilliant golden ball was gouged out by the unseen monster. And onward the little party raced, their time growing short.
Whistling to himself, Andy strolled along, one hand in his jeans pocket, the other holding a stick he was dragging along the fences. He made such a ruckus that he didn't hear the frantic party of three and a bike until they were almost upon him.
"Oh, it's you, Autolycus," Xena said. Her blue eyes were getting a little wild with frustration at her inability to stop the rapid consumption of the sun.
The King of Thieves made a little bow and a flourish with his hand. "Always at your service, lovely Warrior Princess."
Xena rolled her eyes in irritation. "Yeah right. We've got a problem. Look."
Twirling his mustaches between his fingers, he raised his head to look where the warrior pointed. Almost half of the sun had disappeared. "I take it that isn't good," he remarked with false bravado.
"You got that right," Joxer the Mighty cried, "come on, we're gonna go see the Big Man to see if he can help."
"That's Zeus," Gabrielle reproached as they resumed their frenzied trek, speeding along the path, fear gripping their hearts.
Emily was just having tea with her dolls and teddy in the front yard when the panicked little procession reached her.
"Xena! Gabrielle! How good to see you," the blonde Amazon greeted them. "It's been ages. To what do we owe the honor of your visit?"
"Something is eating the sun," Gabrielle practically screeched.
Ephiny looked up at the sky. Indeed, Apollo was missing a huge chunk, and the area seemed to be growing as they looked on. "Oh, this is terrible! What are we going to do?"
"We're on our way to warn Zeus," Xena explained. "Will you come with us, Eph? We can use all the help we can get."
And thus Ephiny the Amazon joined them as well (but not before grabbing her favorite teddy) as they approached the Olymp, fear gripping their hearts.
'Zeus' was sitting in his favorite rocking chair out on the front porch, reading a paper, and looking forward to the impending spectacle when a small horde of children came panting up to him, his own daughter and that black-haired little troublemaker on her bike in the lead.
"Daaaaaad," Gabby wailed. He couldn't make out any more words, because all the children just started talking at once, gesticulating wildly and pointing at the sky. He caught snatches of "eating the sun" and "monster in the sky". Smiling, he raised his hands.
"Now now..." he began, but they didn't seem to hear him. He tried again,louder.
Zeus's voice boomed out mightily. "Silence, mortals!!!"
And a hush fell across the assembled party.
"Okay kids," Gabby's father said in a soothing voice, "there is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing is eating the sun. We are going to have an eclipse. That's an extremely rare thing, and we're lucky to witness it."
"What's an ets-lips?" Jock asked, stumbling over the unfamiliar word.
"It's when the moon gets between the sun and the earth, and covers it so completely that it blocks off the sunlight. It doesn't happen often, and if it does, we usually don't get to see it here. So, I suggest you sit down here and enjoy the show!"
Which the children did, though still ill-at-ease.
They watched with their mouths hanging open as the black chunk eating at the sun grew larger and larger, until only a tiny, sickle-shaped slit remained. Soon that, too, winked out. The world was covered in darkness.
Gabby had crept closer to Sina, and slipped her little hand inside her friend's for moral support.
"Xena, you've got to go up there and move the moon, or we may never have any sun again," Gabrielle whispered insistently.
"Yes, but how," the warrior whispered back.
"I've got it," the King of Thieves piped in. "Use Pegasus!"
"Great idea, Autolycus," the warrior said excitedly, "I'm sure he'll help."
"Of course he will," Gabrielle assured them. "You just have to bribe him with a bushel of alfalfa. Pegasus will do anything for alfalfa.
Xena got to her feet to approach the winged stallion grazing a little way off.
"Here, you may be able to use this," Autolycus said, and tossed the warrior a length of good, stout rope.
"Thanks," the warrior said as she approached the tall equine and explained their predicament. Soon the flying horse nickered his agreement, and Gabrielle and the others witnessed one Warrior Princess borne into the skies by mighty Pegasus, headed for the offending celestial body. (Funny how Gabrielle never released her friend's hand during the whole time, though)
Warrior and winged horse soon flew up out of sight. They succeeded in their mission, however, for soon the moon reluctantly gave up its position, and a thin sliver of the sun started appearing again.
Gabrielle could just see the Warrior Princess up there in the skies, the rope looped firmly around the moon, muscles bulging as Pegasus' wings strained against the huge weight.
Ever so slowly, the moon grudgingly gave way to the pressure and proceeded to move along its ordained course. The skies lit up again as the black shadow blotting out the sun slipped away to the side, and soon was gone. Apollo stood once more in all his brilliance. Indeed, he seemed even brighter than before, after that terrible moment of darkness.
A cheer went up among the mortals as Pegasus alighted once more, and a weary warrior jumped from his back, giving him a friendly pat before returning to her companions.
"See, children?" Gabby's father told them. "There was nothing to be afraid of. The moon went its way all by itself, and the sun is shining again."
The children exchanged smiles and winks. They knew better, of course.
The End of this adventure» on to the next story...
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