Slayers: Chaos

Chapter 6

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 051: Victory! Against All Odds

The Zanaffar growled loudly at Flagoon, who fearlessly stood her ground, holding the flaring sword of light high. The silver beast made the first move and stretched its neck forward, bearing its long sharp fangs at the warrior. The fierce creature tried to swallow her whole, moving with amazing speed like a silver blur. Its massive jaws closed around nothing but air, as Flagoon jumped back and regained the same position as before, only several feet back. The Zanaffar repeated the action, additionally swiping at Flagoon with its claws. She landed gracefully on her feet, studying her opponent as it continued on the offensive. Then suddenly, just as the human thought she had dodged the attack, the Zanaffar's claws stretched with such speed that rather than avoid the attack again, Flagoon could only block the hit with the sword of light. The impact of the clashing forces was so strong that sparks of blue electricity flew. The Zanaffar's red eyes glowed brighter in anger.

"I get it," Flagoon chuckled. "You're getting impatient. Alright, let's get serious!" Flagoon went on the attack, but the Zanaffar didn't relent. It attacked with its fangs and claws, with Flagoon defending and attacking simultaneously, putting extra pressure on the hits when the sword of light collided with the silver beast. The blue electricity sizzled while Milgazia and Xellos watched the fight progress. The Zanaffar spun, trying to hit Flagoon with its massive tail. She knew she wouldn't be able to stop the beast's force, so she dodged the hit instead. Taking it as an opportunity, the silver beast tried the same move another time, again and again. The Zanaffar kept repeating the motion so quickly that it turned into a giant silver tornado.

Milgazia made an attempt to move towards them, but Xellos stopped him. "If you interfere, I will interfere as well and my first move will be to kill you. Don't overestimate your luck simply because you survived the War of the Monster's Fall."

Milgazia glared, then pushed himself to appear indifferent. He would not feed this monster. He couldn't allow Xellos to interfere with the fight. Allowing that would be worse than not helping, thus rendering the attempt as counterproductive. It was frustrating, but it was true. They couldn't deal with the Zanaffar and Xellos at the same time, with the monster general priest being the worse of the two. "Then neither of us will interfere..."

"A wise choice," Xellos grinned. "I'm sure you know that dealing with a rampaging Zanaffar alone is better than dealing with me with help, as I'm sure many dragons would agree, if they still lived that is."

"I can assure you, Xellos, you will not walk away from this unscratched," Milgazia ascertained.

"I suppose I can give you that much credit," Xellos opened his eyes momentarily, "if you had some dragon troops with you and that is assuming Flagoon defeats the Zanaffar."

"She will," even with the sword of light, Milgazia knew that it would be a hard challenge, but he wasn't going to doubt her.

The Zanaffar was spinning so fast that the silver tornado was out of control. The beast was focused on staying strong and spinning continuously, not paying attention to where it was going. The fight had moved away from its original location in the outskirts of Sairaag and into the town. The wild silver tornado was rapidly destroying the entire town. "You've gone too far!" Flagoon boldly rushed forward. "Sword of light, I need your full power, help me defeat this monster. My companion, my trusted ally, lets win this together!" The sword of light reacted to Flagoon's voice, encasing her in light as she jumped into the center of the wild silver tornado.

"Flagoon!" Milgazia called out to her, but she didn't stop. 'That light from the sword, that energy. It's almost as if the sword was conscious,' he thought.

Xellos was staring at the battle too. "That sword... Can it really protect her? What is the origin of that sword? It couldn't have been made by humans, but it's not a dragon weapon either."

"It's not," Milgazia revealed, though truthfully he didn't care if Xellos believed him or not, or at least he wasn't concerned with that detail at the moment. "It sounds like you don't know where it came from either. The sword of light is a great mystery even to us dragons."

"But you know something," Xellos added.

"So do you," Milgazia voiced, not taking his eyes off the silver tornado. He could sense the life of Flagoon and the terrible pulsations a of energy within, so he knew she was still alive, but even if he interfered at the risk of pushing Xellos to join in as well, he wasn't sure if he could get her out of there. It was almost as if the ferocious Zanaffar had swallowed her alive.

"I've heard about the rumors of the sword originating from another time or another world, or both." It wasn't a very specific piece of information and Milgazia probably already theorized the same. Yet with no method to confirm it, Xellos didn't think there was any use in avoiding the subject. Milgazia didn't reply; his attention was fixated on the silver tornado and the warrior struggling within it. Xellos didn't speak any further about the subject of the sword and instead focused on witnessing the power of the legendary weapon of light in action.

Inside the silver tornado, survival was a difficult feat to accomplish. The pulsations of energy were all around Flagoon and if not for the protection of the sword of light, she was sure she would have been disintegrated. "We have to finish this quickly, my friend." She spoke to the sword with respect and loyalty; it was more than just a weapon to her. Though sadly the special bond between the Gabriev family and Gorun Nova would eventually be lost with the weapon of light being treated more and more as a sword by each generation instead of as a friend and companion. The connection between Gorun Nova and Flagoon was something that no other Gabriev who inherited the sword of light ever came close to achieving, not even Rowdy or Gourry reached such a level.

Flagoon took a deep breath and focused. There was a raging storm of destruction all around her, but the sword of light, that heard her words, but could never even tell her as much as its name, could not attack the Zanaffar and defend Flagoon at the same time, not in that environment at least. "I can withstand it, please focus on the offensive!" She felt the sword of light pulsating in her hands as if to protest. "Don't worry about me, my friend," Flagoon insisted. "I'll survive this, don't worry, Milgazia is a strong healer, or at least I think he is, a dragon should know holy magic beyond the knowledge of humans I would guess." The sword pulsated again. "I know, I know you don't usually show your power with too many people around and I won't push you to do it, but I know that Milgazia can be trusted. I won't stop being your friend just because I'm traveling with another friend. We should focus on this now, let's go!"

The sword of light flared. The barrier of light that surrounded Flagoon faded as the energy of Gorun Nova focused on the blade. The silver wind all around was as sharp as knives cutting Flagoon, but not able to strike her down completely. She guided the sword to bat away the stronger currents and slice through them, chopping away pieces of the Zanaffar. The silver beast was losing strength and even if Flagoon was injured she kept fighting. The Zanaffar's face appeared inside the slowing silver tornado in one last desperate effort to finish her before she could finish it. "It's over!" Flagoon went all out, the sword of light colliding with the head of the beast. The Zanaffar's red eyes glowed blindingly bright and the sword of light more so.

Finally, the silver tornado faded completely, leaving the heavy feeling of miasma in the air. The blade of Gorun Nova faded out, leaving only the handle grasped limply in Flagoon's hand, yet she never let it go. Her broken form covered in blood, fell on the ground breathing raggedly but alive. Milgazia rushed to her side, immediately casting his strongest healing spell, "Resurrection!" The golden dragon released a great amount of energy, maintaining the flow of healing energy going until Flagoon's bleeding stopped and her breaths settled to a steady rhythm. She was cured physically, but her energy was completely drained and she couldn't even stand up. Milgazia helped her sit up. "You did it!" He smiled; his expression was more open than anything she had ever seen upon his face before.

"We did it; I couldn't have done it without the sword of light." Flagoon smiled back, satisfied and victorious.

"How surprising," Xellos spoke. "It looks like the battle against the Zanaffar ended faster than expected. Lord Beast Master will not be pleased by this. Though her mood might improve if I bring her a rare ingredient for her cuisine, after all there are only so many dragon elders within the barrier." The monster general priest opened his eyes, focused on Milgazia.

"My mission concerning the Zanaffar was a greater success than I imagined, all thanks to Flagoon and the sword of light, but there are still things I want to do, I have no intentions of falling here," Milgazia challenged.

"Strange..." Xellos quietly voiced with curiosity. "That look in your eyes is like hers. That determination to survive against all odds... It will serve no purpose!"

"Xellos!" Flagoon interrupted the exchange just as Xellos was about to attack. The monster paused with mild curiosity to look at the human who struggled to get on her feet. "Milgazia and I had already decided before that we would fight you together, you don't mind, do you?"

"Not at all," Xellos regained his cheery squinty eyes expression. "Although, you don't seem to be in any conditions to fight."

"I'm going to strike you down with the help of Milgazia and the sword of light." Flagoon warned with a level of certainty that seemed unreasonable to Xellos. "The three of us will defeat you here today. I warn you, monster," the swordswoman trembled as she struggled to stay on her feet, she could barely lift the bladeless hilt of the sword of light. "The blow that decides the outcome of our battle shall be mine, so don't you dare turn your back on me!"

"I dare," Xellos chuckled.

Milgazia looked confident, "this is your day to shine, Flagoon. I will help in this battle, but I won't steal your glory."

Xellos saw Flagoon as representing no danger now. The sword of light was a very powerful and mysterious item, but it was still a weapon as far as Xellos knew and a weapon could not act on its own. A weapon needed a wielder that knew how to use it and it was clear that the sword of light had many secrets even for the warrior of light herself, plus she was in no condition to fight right now. Even if Milgazia healed her wounds at the cost of a good amount of his own energy, she was too exhausted to even stand properly, let alone attack. "Milgazia, you are a fool to put your trust in a human. They are weak and unreliable, even with their small moments of glory; such times are as inconsequential and fast fading as their very lives."

"You are wrong, Xellos," Milgazia assure with a serene confidence that was starting to unnerve the monster. "I was a fool for thinking that I had to guide a human to victory, but no more. Humans have an exceptional potential that not dragons nor monsters could ever have. They may live short lives, but in that time they accomplish much and their influence lives on through the years. Maybe most of them will indeed be inconsequential, but that is also true for monsters and even dragons. Yet in all the races, especially in the human race, there are individuals that shine more brightly than a million people. Flagoon is one such person. The words she speaks will become the truth; if you lower your guard you will regret it, so unless you want to be made into a fool, you better heed her warning." The dragon elder paused, his eyes glowing golden. "One day, there shall be a human who shines so brightly, that the attention of both the dragons and the monster races will be focused on that person, on whose shoulders will rest the fate of the worlds." He blinked and the glow was gone.

Xellos opened one eye and tilted his head in curiosity. Was that some kind of prophetic moment? He heard that sometimes it happened to dragons, but it was supposed to be rare. It's not like Milgazia was in deep meditation just now and he didn't seem to notice the strange presence that floated around him for a second there. Xellos closed his eye and decided not to overanalyze the occurrence for the time being, though he couldn't help it but to make a mental note of it in the back of his mind. The presence that didn't quite feel like a dragon, nor a monster, nor anything else Xellos knew, was gone just as quickly as it came without Milgazia making any motion of realizing it was there. 'Did I imagine that?' Xellos mused quietly. Perhaps he did, it was the only explanation he could come up with for the time being. Enough distractions, he had things to do. "This ends now!" Dark energy surrounded Xellos as he changed to his true form. But instead of only one black cone, a multitude of them flew towards Milgazia.

The golden dragon had no reason to stay on the ground any longer. Even with his larger size in dragon form, it would be easier to fight in the air. He quickly transformed and took off, hurrying straight up with the spinning black cones in pursuit. Milgazia flapped his wings, creating a great gust of wind and shot a barrage of lasers at Xellos. Several of the cones were struck down by the golden lasers, though the larger main one remained. Xellos changed back to his human form, letting the smaller black cones fade. Dark light and purple lightning surrounded Xellos as he threw the energy straight at Milgazia. The golden dragon allowed himself to fall several feet to dodge it, but the energy turned around and moved after him. Milgazia headed closer to Xellos, who surrounded him in dark light and purple lightning.

"Foolish dragon, what kind of strategy is this? Do you intend to injure me with something as simple as a laser breath at point blank?" Instinctively, Xellos backed away to give himself more space to attack and his feet touched the ground. He had not realized they had gradually moved all the way down to the ground again. Yet it didn't matter, Milgazia was surrounded by dark light and purple lightning, dangerous monster energy of great power. His laser breath even at such a close range wouldn't be enough to finish Xellos. The monster general priest grinned victoriously, though it was a premature celebration.

The dragon elder released his laser breath at the same time as he was entrapped by the dark energy, the darkness surrounding him and the purple lightning electrocuting him painfully. Without making a sound other than his breathing, Milgazia's wings dropped limply on his back from pain and exhaustion and he stumbled, falling to the side.

"Hmp! You didn't even scream out in pain, what an anti-climatic end. I really don't understand why you didn't even try to cast a spell." Xellos' projected form had a hole where the laser breath hit him point blank, but it would only take a few seconds for him to draw more power from the astral side and close up the wound in his astral body and thus restore its representation in his projection. If he was outnumbered by golden dragons, this would have been troublesome, but Milgazia risked too much to strike what Xellos assumed was meant to be the final blow and didn't have the strength left to finish him off.

Milgazia only smiled, "you were warned..."

"What?" In a split second a very bad feeling overtook Xellos, which he was soon to find the cause of.

"It's over, monster!" Flagoon charged towards Xellos with the sword of light shining in a strange light. "Let's go, sword of light!" The blade flared brighter than ever before, revealing the dragon energy that it concealed in preparation for the final hit.

The deadly blade of energy collided with Xellos, cutting into the astral side and into his true form. He shouted in shock and alarm as he felt the very core of his being fall to the massive power carried by the blade. This was the reason why Milgazia wasn't attacking him with spells before. He was casting a Chaotic Disintegrate spell, focusing on the dragon language chant in his mind and readying the spell to make it super powerful. Yet the target wasn't Xellos directly, Milgazia's target was the sword of light. It absorbed his energy and united it with its magical blade, applying the resulting power well beyond anything the spell or the sword alone could accomplish.

'This... this cant' be...' Xellos' astral injury was deep, dangerous, deadly. At this rate, he wouldn't simply die, he would be ruined. His only choice was to retreat immediately. The sword of light could only reach into the astral side with its blade at short range and Milgazia's laser breath wasn't all that powerful with his exhausted energy supply, but if Xellos stayed, he knew they could finish him. He didn't want to think about what Beast Master would say, very much less about what she would do, but he had no other choice. With a strong desire to live that not even he could explain and the desperation of knowing this could be the end, Xellos retreated.

Unfortunately for the monster, he didn't have the energy to teleport too far and Milgazia was pushing himself to get up. The rush of adrenaline made the dragon's senses more acute than they already were and he was able to sense Xellos' location even in their weakened state. Milgazia was moving with his human ally rushing over to climb on his back. He might be too tired and injured to fly, as Xellos was sure that one, if not both, of his wings were broken, but dragons were durable creatures and he could still walk. A golden light gathered in Milgazia's mouth as Xellos tried to gather himself and teleport again. Even a low power laser could slow him down in his state and he didn't have any time to spare in getting to safety, or he would soon be dead and ruined.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 052: Prophecy! Calculated or Coincidental?

Another monster teleported beside Xellos in a human-like form that was rather familiar save for the black fox ears and tail the monster had. The monster's silver eyes focused on Xellos, who recognized the facial features of the projection, though his energy and expression were distinctly different. "Fang?" Xellos breathe unsure.

"Lord Beast Master made me into a monster fox chimera, I'm not purely astral anymore, so I have added defenses now," Fang smiled with a true cheer that wasn't just a monster's mask.

'His malice is gone,' Xellos quietly mused. It must have been a side effect of the chimera process.

"I've come to help you," without further ado, Fang teleported Xellos away, just in time to dodge the laser heading straight for him.

Xellos and Fang reappeared at Zelas' throne room at Wolf Pack Island where Lord Beast master glared at them from her throne. "Leave us, Fang."

"Yes, Lord Beast Master!" Fang chirped cheerfully. Then he took a moment to pat Xellos on the shoulder comfortingly and disappeared.

"He has become quite strange," Xellos commented as he tried to stand up straight and pretend that he wasn't badly hurt.

"Indeed," Zelas agreed. "But that is not our current topic of conversation here. For you to have to be dragged back home by a monster of a lower rank than yours..."

"Ah, but lord Beast Master, only you and the other monster lords have a higher rank than me," Xellos truthfully pointed out.

"That is not the point. Explain to me why you're an inch away from death," Zelas demanded. "What kind of carelessness could have put you in this state? You were pitted against one golden dragon, a talented one from what I've heard, but only one. Is Milgazia truly this powerful?" If she wasn't confined to Wolf Pack Island for the sake of keeping the barrier up, Zelas might go pay a visit to Milgazia herself.

"It was the sword of light..." Xellos admitted, lowering his head. "Milgazia casted a Chaotic disintegrate on the sword and the blade somehow wielded the spell as if it was tempered by it. The effect was not permanent of course," fortunately for him. "But it was... significant. That human, Flagoon, the sword somehow responds to her as if the weapon was somehow attached to her, as if it wanted to protect her and she talks to it."

"I've heard that swordsmen often get attached to their weapon of choice and treat it as a comrade," Zelas commented. "Has the sword of light truly shown any signs of sentience?"

Xellos thought about the question for a moment before finally replying, "no." The weapon protected Flagoon, but that was most likely because it reacted to her energy, her instinct to survive. She was wielding it, she was fighting with it, it was only a weapon, at least as far as he knew. "If anything it is only an imaginary self-reassurance on her part."

"I see..." Zelas further mused on the happenings. "Can Flagoon cast spells?"

"I have not witnessed her doing so. My understanding is that she is a swordswoman only and not a sorceress," Xellos replied. If he could just keep answering questions like this, then maybe after a while Beast Master wouldn't be too angry.

"Yet paired with a capable magic user, she could be dangerous..." Zelas mused aloud.

"She defeated the Zanaffar without Milgazia's interference," Xellos revealed.

"Oh?" Zelas raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "That is interesting indeed. Yet still, for you to be so careless," she glared.

Xellos almost cringed, then something came to mind. "There is another thing I should mention. Milgazia said something peculiar. He said that one day, a human would shine so brightly, that the monsters and dragons will both focus on that person and that the fate of the world would rest on that human's shoulders." Xellos made a pause as he recalled Milgazia's prophetic words in more detail. "No, the word he said wasn't world, it was worlds. He didn't seem to notice it, but there was a strange presence around him for a second. I..." Xellos didn't want to admit it, but he knew that Beast Master would further inquire about it and it would be revealed anyway. "I couldn't sense what it was; it didn't feel like a dragon or a monster."

"What a peculiar prophecy, if that's even what it was," Zelas acknowledged. "I want you to see if Flagoon and Milgazia stay together or go their separate ways. If they part ways, report back to me, but if they decide to travel together for a time, you are to follow them quietly. Do not interfere with them, only observe them for now. By traveling with a human, the most open and easy to read of creatures, Milgazia may reveal information about the dragon race that could be useful to know. I am also curious about Flagoon and the sword of light. Humans are disorganized, short lived, vain and unfocused creatures, for the most part at least, yet Milgazia's words... There's something about his prophecy that catches my interest. I want to see if it'll come true and if it does, I will be the one to control that human."

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Meanwhile, Filia had reached the coast. She looked at the vas ocean stretching as far as the eye could see. "I was rescued from the sea, so..." She paused in pain. Romeo, how she wished he could have been saved. Monsters were truly terrible creatures, she was disgusted by them, she hated them more than anything! She let out a hopeless breath. "If only I could take this amulet off my neck!"

"Um... miss..." Jullios spoke up.

"Oh, that's right, you're still following me," Filia acknowledged the fox beastman. "I should probably mention that I have no idea where I'm going."

"Oh..." Jullios sounded disappointed. "Well, it's alright, at least we're safe. By the way, about that necklace, it's a magical amulet, right?"

"Yes, it's a terrible thing!" Filia pulled at it fruitlessly.

"Here, try this," from his cape, Jullios retrieved a small bottle. "It's supposed to dispel magic, temporarily at least. Although I can't say if it'll render the amulet permanently useless."

"I wouldn't care if it did!" Filia accepted the bottle and sprinkled its clear liquid on the chocker. Finally the amulet came off. "Oh thank you so much!" She threw the choker far away into the sea. "You've really helped me out a lot, now I can finally go home! What's your name?"

"Jullios," the beastman voiced in surprise at how far the choker flew. "You've got quite an arm there, miss...?"

This time, she decided to give out her true name. "Filia."

"Well, I'm glad I could help you out. I'm sure you're family's worried about you, so you should go on home. It must be nice, having a home to go to and all," Jullios sighed.

"Don't you have a home, Mr. Jullios?" Filia asked full of compassion.

"Not really. I wish I could go far away and start over, but I've been all over the peninsula and my reputation as a bandit precedes me in most towns. I guess I really can't start over," Jullios lamented.

"That's not true!" Filia encouraged. "None of the places I've seen in this area are familiar to me, so I must be far from my home. Why don't you come with me and make a new start in a new land? I'll even give you a ride across the sea!"

"What are you talking about, miss Filia?" Jullios shook his head. "Even if you have a ship, we wouldn't get far with the barrier."

"Barrier? What Barrier?" Filia asked in confusion.

"The monster barrier of course," it was common knowledge as far as Jullios knew. "You know, the barrier that's been there for centuries?"

Filia's eyes widened in shock and horror. "We're inside it? That can't be!"

"It's true, if you go out far enough into the sea, you'll see it," Jullios assured.

Filia felt like she was hyperventilating. She looked around and spotted a cluster of palm trees not too far away. "Please don't run away Mr. Jullios, I promise not to hurt you." She ran behind the palm trees, while the beastman stood there in confusion. There was a flash of light and soon a golden dragon towered over the trees. The dragon stepped forward as the fox backed away, even running into the swaying tide of the sea. "It's okay, Mr. Jullios, it's me, Filia."

"You're a dragon too? Wow, two dragons in one day," the fox trembled.

"I don't know who the other dragon was." If the dragon lived within the barrier than she couldn't have met him. Maybe they would meet if one day the barrier came down, but at the moment, Filia was focused on going home. If she was somehow thrown inside the barrier, than there had to be a way out. But what if only the monsters could control it? She didn't want to think about that, she could be trapped there for the rest of her life and her clan would think that she deserted them or that she was dead. First things first, she had to take a closer look at the barrier. "My intention is to return to the Fire Temple outside of the barrier. My offer still stands if you wish to form a new start."

Jullios gulped. Going with the dragon made him nervous, but she was nice and not at all intimidating when she looked like a human, unlike now with her big teeth and claws... Yet she looked smaller and far less imposing than that other dragon he saw, maybe because she was younger. He had nothing to lose, nothing to hold him back, thus Jullios decided to be brave. "I'll take you up on that offer." The fox climbed on Filia's back and the golden dragon took off.

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Filia flew towards the west until she reached the barrier. Touching it was painful and Jullios almost fell off. She backed away and flew around looking for a way out. Eventually, she flew over Wolf Pack Island.

Zelas saw the golden dragon from the surface of her island and thought about destroying her, but something interrupted her train of thought. Xellos was hurt, badly hurt, she could sense it, "Fang!"

"Yes, Lord Beast Master!" Fang appeared in his semi-human form.

The success or failure of the chimera experiment was still in question, but he could at least do this simple task. "Bring Xellos to me."

"Right away, Lord Beast Master, it's just like playing fetch!" With a cheerful laugh, Fang teleported away.

Zelas looked at the golden dragon that was shooting lasers at the barrier in the air. She carried a beastman on her back and seemed unaware that she was being watched by a monster lord. Beast Master didn't have time for this small recreation now. It was best if the dragon was just gone. Zelas opened the barrier a little.

Filia thought that the opening was because of the lasers she had been shooting and hurried to leave the area, unaware of Zelas' presence. She did sense a terrible monster presence, but she assumed it was the energy that the barrier itself was giving off.

Thus Filia and Jullios journeyed away from the peninsula. They went their separate ways after landing in the outer continent, where Jullios would eventually establish his own village and become Jillas' ancestor. Unfortunately, that very village would be destroyed by prejudiced humans years later, burned to the ground, leaving Jillas homeless and starting the chain of events that would, unknown to them, reunite him with the very same golden dragon that transported his ancestor to the outer continent all those years ago.

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As per Zelas' orders, Xellos followed Milgazia and Flagoon through their adventures until they finally parted ways. Despite having feelings for her, Milgazia never acted upon them, as he thought a human and a dragon were too different. Eventually, Flagoon settled down with a human and she and Milgazia went their separate ways. Her line of descendants took her surname to continue the legacy of the Warrior of Light. That eventually led to the journey of Rowdy Gabriev, who obtained the priced family heirloom at a young age. Later, by the time Rowdy was full of years; Gourry Gabriev would go on his own journey to improve his skills with the sword of light.

Years later, Xellos was still watching from the shadows unknown to Gourry. He witnessed his meeting with Lina Inverse, the sister of the current incarnation of the Knight of Ceifeed. Lina appeared to be an ordinary super powered little brat. Yet strong magic users were not unusual in Zephilia. She gained a reputation as a bandit killer and dragon spooker, but none of that was enough to capture Xellos' notice. The general priest was growing quite bored with his observations of the current wielder of the sword of light until his path crossed with that of Lina Inverse. Then things began to happen. Rezo, Shabranigdu and the journey that led them to the tree that no one remembered was named after a heroine of ages past...

"Could Lina Inverse be the one?" When Xellos proposed such a possibility to his master, somewhere far away, a certain being of chaotic gold chuckled.

If Milgazia had not gone with Flagoon, if Xellos had not followed the sword of light, if Lina Inverse had never become involved in the many adventures that surrounded her... 'Lina Inverse...' The golden lord smiled. Only creatures as random as humans could, if left to their own devices, create the embodiment of chaos as one of their own. 'The power between light and darkness... Go forth and change the world! And most importantly..." Her smile turned into a mischievous grin. "Amuse me."

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Thus it happened years ago, that the foundation of adventures that would eventually come was laid. Now, years later, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos and Zelas, found themselves in a world not their own, preparing themselves to, against all odds, face their greatest challenge yet. Darkstar, who had absorbed the remnant power of the Stillness threatened to leave the worlds in absolute silence, in nonexistence. He used Luna's empty vessel to trick the golden dragons into lending their power to what they thought was Vorfeed's plan to rid their world of the monster lords. The whereabouts of Luna's soul were still unknown.

Darkstar's plan was almost a success; he managed to summon the three remaining monster lords into the over-world, however, because of the interference of Canal and the crew of her ship, the Swordbreaker, Darkstar was prevented from absorbing the power of the monster lords. After a fierce battle, only Zelas Metallium was able to escape from Darkstar and his vessel Dugradigdu. The defensive program placed into Deep Sea Dolphin and Dynast Grausherra by Canal would not last forever. Before Darkstar could absorb their power completely, thus destroying them, Canal, Zelas and their crew had to find a way to defeat Darkstar, or the gap of power between them would become unreachable.

The over-world was quite different from the world that Lina and the others knew. In that world, magic did not exist and technology flourished greatly. The closest thing to magic was psyenergy, the manifestation of the energy from the mind that could be projected through special devices similar to how the weapons of light worked in their world. However, upon being returned to their own world, the weapons of light, the sword Gorun Nova, the bow Galveira, the lance Ragudo Mezegis, the trident Nezard and the axe Bodigar, regained their true forms as lost ships. The form of a lost ship, a sentient space vessel of unmatchable technology, was also the shape the monster lords took when they reached the over-world. There was no magic in that world and certain beings were not easy to interpret for the fabric of that plane. Thus they became something else; they became the thing that was most abundant there, technology. That was also how Filia and Zelgadis became cyborgs.

After a violent encounter with Gorun Nova's revealed true form, Lina, Gourry, Zelgadis, Amelia and Filia were able to join Xellos and Zelas, who arrived along with the Swordbreaker. Zelas would become their space transport in the vessel she called the Great Beast, while Xellos, a very special program, resided in the system of the same ship. Thus Lina's group met the crew of the Swordbreaker. Canal was a part of Vorfeed, Swordbreaker's main AI and the acting lord of light of that world, so to speak. Her crew was composed of Kain, a young man with a resemblance to Lina, who loved to collect capes, and Millie, a young woman who had her mind set on being the best in the universe in all the areas she could.

After obtaining some weapons suitable for that world, which they were yet to use for the first time, the crews of the Swordbreaker and the Great Beast went their separate ways, off into the depths of space. "This world is really big," Amelia commented as she looked out the window. There was nothing but an endless darkness with distant points of light as far as the eye could see, but she had learned that among those points of lights there were planets, whole worlds that were all a part of the over-world.

"Do you think that maybe our world is this big too, but we just haven't been able to see it?" Lina asked, joining the Seyruun princess in looking out the window.

"That thought is pretty amazing," Amelia voiced. "I mean, up until a few years ago, we could only travel inside the barrier and after exploring the outer continents the world seemed so much bigger."

"For a while at least," Lina chuckled. "It feels like I've already been everywhere in our world, but the over-world is just waiting to be explored!"

"It sounds like you're really excited for this," Filia joined in.

"I am!" Lina cheered.

"I want to see what the over-world's restaurants are like," Gourry added.

"So do I!" Lina agreed, her voice echoing throughout the main control room of the Great Beast where they were as they traveled through space.

"I just hope I can be human when this ends, though seeing the history of this world does sound interesting," Zelgadis commented.

"There must be so many different cultures here, I'm sure it's amazing!" Amelia breathed in anticipation. "The technology is so advanced, it's one new discovery after another."

"I'll say," Xellos chuckled as he took a tray of beverages out of an odd little machine that seemed to come out of one of the walls of the Great Beast. The machine sunk back into the wall when he was done.

"I made those, just so you know," Zelas pointed out.

"Although I could have done a fine job myself if Lord Beast Master had given me control of the mechanism," no one believed Xellos' assertion. Regardless of the circumstances, they were sure he could only be a terrible cook.

"What are those?" Lina immediately took a glass. "This smells like coffee, but it's cold."

"It's a type of frozen coffee latte, something or other, with chocolate and caramel," Zelas explained. "I got the recipe from the astral, I mean digital, library, the Internet, and found that this useful new body of mine comes equipped with kitchen implements."

"You're a flying ship and a kitchen? That's awesome!" Gourry commended, taking a drink of his glass. "This is amazing!" The others tried the drinks as well, with favorable reactions.

Zelas grinned, "the Great Beast also has living quarters, get settled in and be ready for when we arrive at our destination. Let's not forget we're not tourists in this world. You are all my honorary minions with potential to join me permanently after this is over," though Zelas knew they wouldn't take the offer. "I'm going to make you work hard to defeat Darkstar, so make sure you absorb all that caffeine, you're going to need it."

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 053: Jobs! Gotta Make A Living Somehow

"Jobs?!" Lina exclaimed, her voice echoing through the interior of the Great Beast.

"Yes, jobs, that is to say work," Zelas explained. "Meaning, to perform tasks that bring a revenue."

"I know what a job is, but why do we need jobs?" Lina complained. She would expect to hunt for relics, of technology rather than magic given that they were in the over-world. She would expect to follow rumors and legends, to train and maybe hunt down some bandits over-world style for the sake of getting the hang of fighting with their new weapons, but the fiery redhead was not expecting Zelas to say she had to get a job.

"The answer to that is simple, we need money. Ship parts cost money and adding weapons and ammunition to this vessel is the fastest and most effective way to increase its power. Since I have a physical form now, I must consider not only my strength of energy, but also my physical defenses," Zelas explained, referring to the lost ship Great Beast. "I got the energy deal covered with your and Filia's bad tempers-"

At that point, both Filia and Lina let out an undignified chorus of, "hey!"

The protests were ignored as Zelas continued. "However, I must make sure that this vessel is strong. The final battle will take place in space, even if all of you have tasks to do, you won't be able to run around freely. Let's not forget what we discussed about the atmosphere of this world, this area called outer space doesn't have any air or gravity. You won't be able to survive without the life support within my vessel, which I must remind you I can turn off at any moment. So to summarize, if you want me to shield you and keep you alive, you better do your part to strengthen my vessel."

"When you put it that way, it does make sense," Amelia accepted.

"I would go around stealing what I need, but then we'll just waste the ammunition fighting off cops and draw unneeded attention that could alert the light weapon lost ships of our location and all of that, especially if it happens at the same time, will be very counterproductive," Zelas frowned. "Unfortunately, this means we must keep a low profile, thus earn money by..." She trailed into silence, searching for the right way to phrase it that didn't sound too repulsive to her. "By means that do not attract unwanted attention."

"In other words," Amelia elaborated with a smile. "We need honest jobs!"

"I wouldn't go that far," Zelas interjected. "You don't have to be honest, just be careful not to get caught."

"We won't need to worry about that if we work honestly!" Amelia insisted cheerfully. "Alright, let's go get some jobs!"

"You're forgetting something," Lina pointed out. She didn't want to ruin Amelia's cheer, but her point was a valid concern that needed to be expressed. "What kind of jobs can we do? When I take a job, it usually involves fighting with magic. We can try to do escorts, bandit hunting and such jobs with the psy-weapons we got from Canal, but will people hire us?"

"Oh yeah... we are kind of out of our element, aren't we?" Amelia admitted.

"From the perspective of the people of this world, we may seem like amateurs," Zelgadis mused. "Plus from what we've studied so far on the Internet, the police and transport systems in most of the planets in this world are pretty advanced and people don't usually have any need for bodyguards. Then those who do hire such services would likely be suspicious of us, since we're not exactly well known in any planets here, or known at all."

"I'm working on that," Zelas explained. "This world still needs individuals known as trouble contractors. That is actually Kain's profession along with the others at the Swordbreaker. They are bounty hunters of sorts, though the job of a trouble contractor isn't limited to hunting rogues, they do escorts, investigations, item recoveries and a variety of odd jobs that require skill precision and power. I think that would be the closest equivalent in this world to the usual jobs your little group would take. I will find a suitable job for us to perform that serves as a source of economical benefits and as training for the upcoming battle."

"A double benefit..." Zelgadis mused, though he wasn't sure that leaving picking the job to Zelas was the best idea. "Wait a minute; did you say us, as in including yourself?"

"I did," Zelas replied simply. "I have already instructed Xellos in what to look for and he is investigating the available jobs in various parts of this vast world."

"Speaking of which," Xellos voiced, "I found something, but it's a bit far. We might have to stop for supplies since we're carrying a crew with biological needs now."

"Is that a round about way to say we're short on food?" Lina demanded to know.

"Yes," Zelas replied full of nonchalance.

With annoyance and concern, Lina demanded, "then we must make a stop and re-supply!"

"It's mostly your and Gourry's fault we're running low on supplies. You ate most of the food we got from the Swordbreaker," Zelas reminded.

"But I'm the captain, I'm your power source, you have to feed me or I won't be able to feed you!" Lina reminded desperately.

Zelas merely rolled her eyes. "Yes, Lina, I'm aware of that, I'm not going to starve you. Xellos, have you found a suitable planet to stop for supplies?"

"There is one and it's not too far away. According to the information, this planet has many cities built on its surface and a suitable space port. We should be able to re-supply there and get some extra ammunition as well, but we'll have to come up with the money for it while we're there or grab what we need and rush out," Xellos explained.

"I say we do the honest thing and work," Amelia suggested.

"We'll be fine as long as we don't attract too much attention. That stop is far from our destination anyway," Zelas considered their options. "Xellos, are the communications working?"

"Everything is going as planned," Xellos mysteriously informed.

"What communications are those?" Filia inquired with suspicion.

"You'll see," Zelas grinned and a feeling of foreboding swept over the others, though it was not yet immediate. She pointed at a blue and green planet displayed on the map of the screen with swirls of white around its surface. "We'll stop there then. As for what we shall do about the costs, I'll leave that up to you. If you wish to lead an expedition to find jobs, you are all welcome to do so. Xellos, you might as well go with them, I will stay on the ship and oversee things here."

"I guess there's no other choice for now..." Lina agreed.

"Alright!" Amelia cheered, "we'll make an honest living, over-world style!"

As they approached the planet, Lina looked at Gourry. He had grown quieter with the passing of time and she was getting worried. There was obviously something bothering him and this was quite unusual for him. He wasn't one to dwell on things like that. "You've been pretty quiet lately, Gourry. Is something wrong?"

Gourry didn't dance around the issue, he didn't hide it at all and straight out spoke of what was bothering him. "I've been thinking about the sword of light. How it transformed into that... that thing and attacked us."

"Hush back there, we're contacting the space dock authorities to land," Zelas hissed.

Lina pouted but nodded then led Gourry away towards the living quarters of the Great Beast. "Let's talk over here." Gourry followed Lina into her room. The room was identical to all the others, as they haven't had time to personalize their respective rooms yet. Gray walls with violet details and dark colored simple basic furniture was all that was there to be found.

After taking a moment to try to organize his thoughts and emotions, Gourry continued. "The sword of light had been passed down in my family for a long time," he lowered his head in sadness. "I used to hear a lot of stories about it. I don't know if all the stories were true or if they changed every time they were passed down from parent to child, but I never thought that the sword would do this. After we fought Darkstar and the sword of light was returned to this world, I thought of it as being even more special. I let it go because I thought it would be more useful in this world. When I got it back I was confused but happy, I've always thought of the sword of light as a weapon for good and now... I feel like I've been betrayed." Gourry lifted his head to look into Lina's eyes. "It hurts, it hurts a lot and I feel like it's all my fault."

Lina expected to hear some of the things Gourry said, but the last revelation took her by surprise. "It's not your fault," she immediately denied it.

Gourry shook his head and raised his hand to indicate for her to pause. "It is," he insisted. "You saw what the sword of light, what Goro Nuve... Gora..."

"Gorun Nova," Lina supplied.

"Gorun Nova, you saw what it really is," Gourry continued. "It... He... He talked to us; he's not just a sword even if he took that form. He had thoughts and feelings and I didn't acknowledge them. What kind of swordsman am I if I never formed a bond with my best sword? That sword was my companion through so much and I never acknowledged him. It's no wonder Gorun Nova hates me, using him without a word of thanks. I'm terrible. It's not his fault he couldn't talk as a sword, but I should have felt it, I should have felt he was alive. I failed him miserably. I really am terrible as a swordsman and as a friend."

"Gourry, don't say that!" Lina exclaimed. "It broke her heart to see Gourry putting himself down like that. She still loved him, and if she was going to be honest with herself, she always would. "You didn't know, there was no way you could have known. Besides, Gorun Nova is..." she couldn't bring herself to say it. Lina bit her lip and fell silent.

"With Darkstar," Gourry finished for her. "But he didn't have to be. If I had been kinder to him, he could have joined us. He protected my family for so long and I let him down."

"Stop it, please," Lina almost begged. "I can't stand to hear it; I can't stand having you put yourself down like this. I don't know what will happen when we face Gorun Nova again," yet she knew they would have to sooner or later, "but I'll be there to help in any way I can. I can't say we'll fix things for sure; I can't lie and tell you that we'll get Gorun Nova on our side, but we'll try. That's all we can do right now, try our best. Everyone makes mistakes; we just have to keep trying our best to fix them."

"Thank you, Lina," Gourry smiled weakly. He was still very upset about Gorun Nova, but knowing that Lina was there for him filled him with strength and hope, even if she was only willing to be there as a friend as far as he knew.

xoxox xox xoxox

After clearing things with the space port authorities, with the use of some fake ID techniques Zelas learned from Canal; Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos went off to find jobs. The planet they were on was quite similar to their world in that it had the same gravity and almost the same atmospheric composition. The sky presented a nearly identical coloration, though they couldn't be sure about the vegetation as there wasn't a whole lot of it to see. The place was covered in streets of gray stone where pedestrians walked and roads of black stone where strange vehicles moved.

The black stone roads were a maze of tunnels and interceptions that they heard someone call 'highways.' Vehicles of all kinds moved in them at considerable speeds not moved by horses or by wind. Strange metal carriages called 'cars' were the most abundant, with larger ones called 'trucks' driving by, transporting cargo. Smaller vehicles were also seen, those were called 'motorcycles' and Lina was fascinated by them. She wished she could have one of those, but knew she couldn't, given their current situation, although she could at least study them, she saw no harm in that.

While Lina and Gourry entertained themselves asking a multitude of questions to an exceptionally patient young man who worked at a biker shop, Amelia and Zelgadis went off to explore. People were giving them odd looks because of how they were dressed, but they were only passing glances and no one seemed to care too much about their surroundings, instead focusing on small machines that fit in the palm of their hands. Everyone seemed to have one of those; they were all tiny and varied in many colors. Yet even if they had stared, Lina was so fixated on learning about those motorcycle things that she wouldn't even notice or care. Gourry didn't appear to understand anything that was being explained about the peculiar vehicles, but he stood by Lina and listened anyway.

Amelia and Zelgadis walked by a place with many lights and sounds coming from within. It caught her attention and she stopped to look through the glass windows. She found many machines with changing picture windows on them. What were those called? Ah yes, screens. "I wonder if this is part of the digital library, Internet."

Zelgadis observed the jovial behavior of the people inside the structure. All the buildings in the city were packed close together and reached high into the skies in tall rectangular towers. The shape of the structures was nothing grand in itself, since they were built as long boxes, but the glass windows and the lights were a sight to behold, making the buildings look majestic. Zelgadis also couldn't help it but to note that this city was a very noisy and crowded place. "Those people look like they're playing," he observed.

"I know that screens that are connected to the Internet can be used for research, but I didn't know you could play with them." Amelia's eyes shone with curiosity. "It'll be okay if we make a quick stop here and have a look. I want to see this!" She rushed in, pulling Zelgadis by the arm to follow her.

The odd pair walked around the arcade observing the different machines all around. "You must be from the agency!" A blond young man with green eyes, approached Amelia and Zelgadis. "I'm Andrew, the arcade manager. Great costumes, very believable. The agency said they couldn't send anyone, but it looks like they managed after all."

"Agency?" Zelgadis and Amelia voiced in unanimous confusion.

"You're not from the agency?" Andrew realized. "Well, I have to say you're certainly talented cosplayers. Would you like to do a job here at the arcade?"

Amelia's eyes lit up, "yes, we were just looking for jobs!"

Zelgadis was a little more cautious. "What would we need to do?"

"Oh, it's quite simple. We're promoting the new Star Fantasy video game that just came out. As I'm sure you know; the game is all about having science fiction and magical fantasy all in one epic adventure. All you would have to do is hand out the promotional fliers to customers around the city and direct them here. Everyone who buys twenty or more tokens today, will get the chance to pre-order a rare special edition of the game," Andrew explained. "Are you up to it?"

"A promotional job, it sounds like it would be easy," Zelgadis admitted. He imagined the pay wouldn't be too high for such an easy job, but they had to start somewhere. "Alright, we'll take the job."

"Leave it to us, Mr. Andrew, we won't let you down!" Amelia cheered.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, Filia and Xellos were conducting their own exploration of the city. Filia had mastered the ability to retract her jetpack so she didn't have to worry about having that sticking out of her back all the time. She did want to find something more comfortable to wear. Bareback dresses were not her usual choice of attire, but it was a matter of functionality in this case, so she thought she should make an effort to let it pass. She knew their finances were tight, but this was a necessity. She stopped to look at the displays in a clothing store. Male and female mannequins showed off the latest trends, at which Filia wrinkled her nose in disapproval, "tasteless."

"You've said that about all the outfits you've seen," Xellos reminded. "Why don't you try on that one," he pointed at the female figure behind the glass. "It's pink and you have an obsession with pink, so you should like it, though personally I think it would look better in purple."

"Absolutely not!" Filia nearly shouted. "That shirt only covers the front and it leaves the shoulders and back bare. For the top of an evening gown I suppose wearing something like that tied around the neck would be okay, but not for something to wear for normal daily tasks, very much less paired with a skirt that would only be the proper length for someone who is three feet tall."

"So you think Lina should wear it?" Xellos joked, though his face always was cheerful, so it was all the same as if he had said it with a straight face.

Filia tried to stifle a fit of giggles, "she'd kill you for that one."

"I know, I'm awesome," Xellos grinned. "So back to the topic on hand, I have a little money that Beast Master snagged from Millie's wallet. I can get you that outfit if you'll wear it. Weren't you looking for a shirt that didn't get in the way of your bazooka, I mean jetpack, anyway?"

"I suppose..." Filia sighed in defeat. "But I'm not wearing it with that skirt and I'm getting a nice jacket to wear over it when I'm not using the jetpack. Let's go into this shop and take a look around. You need to get some clothes too."

"I can just change my projection, you know. I am a hologram after all," Xellos demonstrated by appearing in a modern attire, coming up with it based on what he had seen.

"Xellos! What if someone saw you changing like that? They might be suspicious of us, more so than they must already be!" Filia looked around but to her surprise, no one was paying him any mind beyond passing odd glances that didn't last more than a split second. "Or maybe they don't care... What are those machines they keep staring at in their hands anyway?"

"I'm not sure, but my guess is that they are connected to the Internet. It's not just a place for information, but from what I've learned, it also can be use to communicate with others even at a very long distance. It's like a network of knowledge and instantly transmitted messages that reach all over the over-world. There's also more entertainment than anyone could look through in a life time," Xellos explained. "I'm glad I'm a digital being, exploring the Internet is even faster and easier for me than for those who need to use mechanical interfaces like that."

"It's really that great, huh? Well I want to have a good look at it later, not just for research for our mission, but also to look at the culture of the over-world in general and see what people around here do for fun. It's a great opportunity to learn so much." Filia was getting all excited just thinking about it. She looked at Xellos new appearance, really taking the time to examine him.

"Yes I know, I'm very hot," he grinned mischievously, opening one eye as if to wink, or reverse wink.

"Oh shut up," Filia tried to look annoyed, though it came out more amused than she intended. "You do look like you could blend in around here, except for the purple hair and..." She tugged on the fabric of his jacket, the hologram making it feel as if it was real fabric, though it would shortly disappear if he took it off. "This... Must you wear this with the purple fur on the ends?"

"It's stylish!" Xellos insisted.

"Right..." Filia knew there was no arguing with him. "Let's just check out this store. I want to find something to wear and get a job quick. I wouldn't want to give Zelas a reason to start being overly critical of me like she always is. Well, she's going to do it anyway, but like I said, I don't want her to have the satisfaction of a real reason. I must earn enough money to cover my expenses and do my part in the maintenance of the vessel."

"You're certainly determined," Xellos grinned in amusement. This would be so much fun.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 054: Dollars! Legendary Temper Tantrums

"Xellos!" Filia, now clad in a knee length skirt, a halter top with a jacket that matched the skirt over it, and a new pair of boots, yelled at the purple haired hologram walking beside her. "I told you to stop ruining my chances to get a job!"

Xellos grinned in amusement. He got nutrients from the negative emotional energy absorbed by the Great Beast and the target had to be within the vessel for it to work, so angering Filia now wouldn't provide him with any energy, but it was still fun. "You told me to stop saying things that embarrassed you and I stopped. I was perfectly quiet the last time you went into a business to ask if they would hire you."

"But you kept making weird faces at me!" Filia accused. "No one is going to hire me if they think I hang around crazy people all the time." For a moment she had to pause and think about how true that might be after all. "You want me to earn money, don't you? May I remind you that it would be useful to Beast Master if I did."

"Oh yes, yes, yes," Xellos smiled. "I guess I've had enough fun for now. I'll leave you alone to your job hunting and go do some business of my own." Just like that he was gone; he disappeared from beside her in the middle of the crowded streets.

A few passers stopped to stare, but soon went on their way, running their fingers over the little machines they held. Filia let out a breath. Perhaps strange things were not that unusual for the people of this city or this didn't qualify as strange enough to be acknowledged by their standards. She was suspicious about Xellos going off on his own, but if he was plotting something, he would find a way to do it even if she did follow him. Besides, following him would be difficult since he could project himself anywhere in range of the Great Beast and she was sure that included quite a wide area.

Thus Filia decided to focus on continuing her job hunt. She walked by a place that looked like some kind of restaurant with a big help wanted ad on a sign in front of it. Hopeful, she entered the establishment. By then the sun had sunk in the horizon in a similar fashion to how it did in her world of origin and people were starting to gather in the business. Upon further inspection of the interior of the establishment, Filia concluded that it was actually a bar. She took a moment to observe the tables, the long counter lined with stools and the multitude of bottles on the shelves on the wall behind it. Then she turned around to leave, having no interest in working at a bar. It simply wasn't her style.

However, before Filia could leave, a group of men started calling out to her from one of the tables, asking her to join them. Appalled at being called a 'hot cutie-pie' Filia stormed over to them with a look of pure fury in her eyes. "You men should be ashamed of yourselves! I demand an apology!"

The men, who didn't realize in what danger they were, since they were humans, as were the vast majority of the inhabitants of that planet, and Filia was a very strong cyborg, only laughed. "Aw, you heard that boys? She wants us to apologize." The leader of the bunch laughed heartily, with his lackeys following his example. "Sure, honey, let's kiss and make up." He made kissing noises at her.

The man's actions only angered Filia, who grabbed him by the shirt, easily lifting him and threw him out across the street to crash into the window of the building on the other side. She looked back at the other two men who sat in shock, jaws slack. "He... Hewa... Hewajima?" One of them muttered in fright.

"Run!" The other cried out and he, as well as several other customers that were seemingly unrelated to the incident ran out of the bar.

Filia didn't mean to cause such an uproar, but she was too caught up in her hissy-fit to care. 'What's a Hewajima supposed to be anyway?' She mused.

"Alright, alright, I'll pay!" The bar's manager stepped forward. "Don't trash the place, Hewajima, I'll go get the money!" He dashed into the backroom and returned with a briefcase. "Here's the money, just call him off! I mean her..."

"Well, that was easy..." Filia turned to look at the one who spoke, a man with dreadlock hair, wearing in a suit stood at the entrance to the bar receiving the briefcase. "Just so you know, the lady doesn't' actually work for me."

A blond man in a bartender suit, stood just outside, watching the scene play out quietly. "Huh?" The bar manager blinked. "I thought that Hewajima was dressing up as a woman for some unknown reason. I mean, who else is that strong around here?"

"I'd never do that!" Shizuo barked, which caused the manager to cower in fear.

Shizuo and Filia exchanged curious looks before simultaneously declaring, "we've never met before."

"This is strange, but the timing is perfect, let's talk business." The man in the suit led Filia over to a table. "I'm Tom Tanaka and I would like to offer you a temporary job, miss...?"

"Filia," she supplied.

"Tom, you don't mean..." Shizuo half asked.

"You've been wanting to take a vacation overseas and who am I to hold you back?" Tom reasoned. "I just said I needed a proper stand-in until you returned and if this lady was mistaken for you-"

"Unreasonably," Shizuo inserted.

"My point is that she must be strong. You were the one who sent that guy flying across the street, weren't you? Would you like to work as my bodyguard for a while? I'm a debt collector you see, and people sometimes like to take out their frustrations on me, but it's much safer with my good friend Shizuo around," Tom explained.

"A bodyguard... I was looking for a job. Alright, I'll do it!" Filia agreed.

"Great, we're just about done with work for today. Shizuo, can you give her a few pointers?" Tom asked. "It's a very simple job but it wouldn't hurt to get a basic rundown. Get her a suit like yours too; it seems to have an effect on people, since they associate it with you. You can charge the suit to my card," Tom passed over a credit card to Shizuo. "I think I can trust you with that, well then, I'll leave preparing your replacement to you. See you tomorrow."

"Later Tom," Shizuo had a curiosity he needed to address. "If you don't mind me asking this, Filia, what is the source of your strength?"

"I'm a dragon..." Filia revealed before she caught herself and corrected it, "I mean cyborg!"

"That explains a lot," Shizuo voiced. "Well let's get you that suit Tom suggested and then I'll tell you all about how a normal work day goes."

xoxox xox xoxox

A few hours later, Lina and Gourry spotted Amelia and Zelgadis eating in a fast food restaurant and join them. "Food!" They begged.

"Miss Lina, Mr. Gourry, don't tell me you spent the whole day asking questions at that shop instead of getting a job!" Amelia scolded them.

"But the motorcycles were so cool!" Lina whined. "Besides, we got to hear all sorts of stories about some legendary headless rider that drives around the city!"

"I didn't really understand any of the explanations, but they really did look cool," Gourry joined in. "And we even got to join a secret color gang called the Dollars!"

"Yeah, it's a good gang that has transparent as their color," Lina proudly elaborated. "You guys should join too! You don't even have to do anything and you get to feel totally cool!"

Amelia sighed and shook her head. "I suppose we can't leave you to starve, it would be cruel. But please try to make up for it tomorrow."

"Don't forget we're on a tight budget. Plus our pay may go down even more when we convert it from local currency to universal." Zelgadis reminded. "I know you'll both really like this," he paused to recall the correct full name of the dish. "Double bacon extra cheesy ultra beefy burger deluxe," Zelgadis recited the product's name, "but try not to eat more than three or four of them."

"But Zel, you've already had five," Amelia pointed out.

"That's my point! These things are addictive!" Zelgadis took another big bite of his food.

"Well the food certainly smells good," Lina reached for a fry, but Amelia snatched it away. "Miss Lina, these are my mega cheese filled ultra jumbo fries deluxe!"

"Oh come on, I thought you were sharing your food with me!" Lina complained.

"And me!" Gourry added.

"Look, there's Lina Inverse now." A familiar voice was heard from across the restaurant along with approaching footsteps.

"So this is the Lina Inverse who is so well known in the other world." A young man curiously stared at her. "You're exactly as Xellos described."

Lina raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Just who is this guy and what did you tell him, Xellos? And what's with that purple fur?" Upon closer inspection, she noticed that Xellos and the unknown man were dressed very similarly in style, save for the fur details of Xellos' clothes being purple.

"It's stylish!" Xellos defended.

"I'm Izaya, an information broker, currently engaged in a very interesting information trade with Xellos." The young man introduced himself with a sly grin.

Lina glared at Izaya suspiciously. "I don't trust you; you're too much like Xellos."

Izaya chuckled, "a sharp one, eh? But what I really want to see is a legendary temper tantrum." Surely a conflict of the proportions that Xellos described would be enough to awaken the head of the valkyrie.

"Xellos, just what in the world have you been telling him?" Lina snapped, standing from her chair and pulling Xellos in a headlock.

"My nuggets!" Amelia suddenly exclaimed. "My super bacon filled mega beefy ultra nuggets deluxe! Mr. Gourry, please refrain from stealing my food!"

"But I'm hungry," Gourry whined, giving Amelia the sad kitten eyes.

The sad stare was working, as the Seyruun princess began to feel guilty. "Oh... I'm sorry. All this delicious food is turning me into a greedy monster. Please, have the rest of my fries and nuggets."

"Thanks, Amelia!" Gourry was about to happily eat the food he was given, but he was interrupted.

"What?" Lina shouted as she released Xellos and pounced on Gourry, knocking him to the floor and keeping him down. "What about me?"

"I'll share with you too..." Amelia smiled nervously. This was bad, now Lina would get addicted to the super delicious food and they would be broke. They would have to eat and run, so much for making an honest living.

Before Amelia even had time to finish speaking those words, Lina was already stuffing her face. "More, I want more of this delicious food!"

"We better not let her try the frappes," Zelgadis whispered to Amelia, who nodded frantically. She didn't like the wild look in Lina's eyes.

"Looks like there are some wild people in your world, Xellos." Izaya commented to his newfound best friend.

"Oh yes, wait till you meet Filia," Xellos cheerfully shared his own version of Filia's description, which was, according to him accurate, but would be, according to her, offensive enough for him to be chased away with murderous intent.

Just as Xellos spoke, two more people entered the restaurant. "Tom won't mind if we get a bite on his account. I'll just say we got hungry and we weren't done discussing the job specifics." Shizuo voiced as he arrived with Filia.

"Filia is a golden dragon, you know what I told you about them and their obsession with pretending to be perfect and peaceful and all that junk right?" Xellos continued his story. "Well she's the most hypocritical of the golden dragons. She's a complete and total sadist who blows her temper over every little thing. She's got this nasty habit of chasing me around and trying to kill me." Xellos chuckled with mischievous amusement. "It's lots of fun and totally hilarious!"

Filia heard the whole thing and was fuming with anger. By now she was dressed in her new bartender suit and looked like a female version of Shizuo, who was enraged by the mere sight of Izaya. Both of the bartender suit clad blonds reached for nearby tables, lifting them with ease.



The raging blond furies threw the tables at their respective targets, who dodged the hits with great agility. It wasn't really necessary in Xellos' case, since he was a hologram, but he liked to show off anyway. The pursuit was only getting started as Izaya and Xellos dashed across the restaurant with Shizuo and Filia throwing tables and chairs at them. They hurried outside, followed by a curious Lina and Gourry who had already devoured all the food that Amelia and Zelgadis had bought to take to the Great Beast and save for later inside that super advanced refrigerator that could preserve food almost indefinitely.

Vending machines were picked up from the streets and hurled at the trickster duo as Izaya and Xellos ran away, seemingly enjoying the chase. Shizuo and Filia were hot on their trail, throwing parked cars and, much to Lina's dismay, motorcycles at them, which she thought was a great waste. A motorcycle without headlights zoomed down the street, then the screeching of tires was heard and the same vehicle returned, moving backwards. The rider, a person wearing black clothes and a yellow cat eared helmet, stopped to witness the occurrence taking place.

Three others, two boys and one girl, stopped nearby, excitedly watching the scene unfold. "Shizuo got Rule 63!" The girl, who answered to the name of Erika, pointed excitedly.

"Why does Izaya's Rule 63 have purple hair?" Walker, a boy with a sleepy expression, asked.

"Maybe it's a Rule 34!" Erika exclaimed.

The other boy, Kyohei, gave her an odd look. "How does purple hair turn a Rule 63 into a Rule 34?" He reluctantly inquired.

There was a long silent pause between them, until Erika finally replied with a serious tone and a smiling face that didn't quite fit her sudden change in tone of voice. "You don't want to know."

The chase of Filia, Shizuo, Xellos and Izaya continued through the city. Shizuo uprooted a lamp post and Filia was quick to follow his example. She pulled another lamp post out of the concrete covered ground and started swinging it at Xellos as if it was her mace.

"They're tearing the city apart!" Amelia exclaimed in alarm.

"What if they bill us for the damages?" Zelgadis pointed out.

"Zelas sent us here to earn money; she's going to be mad if we only earn debts!" Lina exclaimed.

"What if she locks us out of the kitchen?" Gourry worried.

"We have to stop them!" Lina rushed after Filia and Xellos, with Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis joining her in the pursuit.

The chase went on through the city, eventually making Lina lose her patience. "That's it, time to put our weapons to good use!" Out of her new cape, which was one of Kain's capes, Lina pulled out a psy-gun. It didn't have power like the weapons of light; instead it only served to channel the user's own psy-energy. However, it was, if given to the right person, much more powerful than a regular laser gun could be. Because of her quick temper and abundant energy, this type of weapon was given to Lina, who shot a succession of rapid fire at the hunters and hunted alike.

"Be careful, you'll hurt them!" Amelia cautioned.

"What are we supposed to do? Make that highway road maze thing collapse to stop them?" Lina sarcastically declared. "That's a great idea! Let's destroy the highway, then they'll have nowhere to run!"

"Okay!" Gourry rushed off to follow through with the plan, actually thinking that Lina's sarcastic remark was serious. He dashed between the cars that screeched to a halt, some on time and others colliding with the vehicles in front of them in a massive highway chain of accidents. Gourry used his psy-sword, which was the most powerful of the psy-weapons the group had at their disposal, as the hilt was made from the leftover material from Lina's broken brass racket. He began to destroy the columns that held up the highway bridges, making the foundation of the road maze shake and begin to collapse.

Lina could only stand there in open mouthed shock. "He just had to take that seriously..." She slapped her forehead in frustration.

"Gourry, stop it!" Zelgadis shouted.

"I'm trying to stop them!" Gourry called back. "How about giving me a hand with the column on the other side? You can use your armor's power!"

"That's it, I'm going in there!" Amelia put on her psy-energy gloves, which made her pacifist crush and other martial arts techniques super strong.

"What are you going to do?" Zelgadis urgently asked.

"I don't know!" Amelia replied all too cheerfully. "But everyone has had the chance to try out their new weapons of justice and I want to try mine too!"

Filia remembered that she could still fly as a cyborg. Though sadly the back of her bartender suit was ripped by her jetpack, she flew past Shizuo, knocked a surprised Izaya out of the way and grabbed Xellos who simply disappeared. "Xellos!" Filia screamed in fury. "Come back here Xellos!" She shot lasers in anger, making a bigger mess of the already demolished highway system. If she was still a dragon, she would be transformed and stomping around. "You went back to the Great Beast, didn't you? Xellos!" She hurried away towards the space port.

"Stop in the name of the law!" An officer yelled from a helicopter flying overhead.

"A flying, spinning machine?" Amelia looked at it with curiosity.

"Never mind that weird thing, Xellos has gone back to the ship and Filia is heading there too. We have cops on our tails; it's time to get off this planet!" Zelgadis urged. "Even the locals decided it was a good time to disappear." He noted that Xellos' new friend and the guy in the bartender suit were nowhere to be found, likely having retreated when the police arrived.

"What are we waiting for? Let's get out of here, I had enough of cops trying to arrest me with that Wizer incident a while back" Lina certainly didn't want to repeat that experience. "Hey Gourry, we're leaving, so get over here now!"

xoxox xox xoxox

Thus Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis retreated to the space port where Filia was searching for Xellos' whereabouts all over the Great Beast yelling, "you can't hide forever!" Though he could indeed choose not to project himself for an indefinite period of time, leaving his data to reside only inside the Great Beast's computer systems.

"Zelas, the cops are coming!" Lina yelled as she rushed into the control chamber, followed by Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis.

"I noticed," Zelas smiled calmly and began to take off.

"Great Beast, you do not have permission for take off, there are fugitives of the law on board!" An urgent voice ordered from the radio transmission.

"Shut up," Zelas blocked the communication link and forced her way out of the space port, hurrying towards the openness of the atmosphere in outer space. Several space patrol ships rushed towards her, but they wouldn't be enough to match the speed of a lost ship. Zelas was confident that she could easily lose her pursuers with a light speed jump and she knew just what coordinates to enter. "Hold on to something, we're jumping to light speed!"

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 055: Host! A Contest of Charm

"What!?" Filia yelled at the top of her lungs as Xellos revealed the truth about their recent stop on a city planet. She, Xellos, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Zelas were in the Great Beast's control room as the lost ship traveled through the vastness of space.

"Like I said, the real reason we stopped where we did, was so I could get some information from the one called Izaya," Xellos established. "I had to give him information in return, but I told him things that would be relatively commonly known in our world, nothing of too much importance for us, though it seemed interesting to him. I didn't ask him what I needed directly and allowed him to drop hints around it by thinking I was inquiring about something else entirely. One of those hints happened to be the piece of information I needed."

"A mission well accomplished," Zelas commended. "I must say, I didn't expect to hear the story that Xellos told me. I thought you were going to keep things quiet and find some honest jobs. Ah, but chaos is chaos wherever it goes. You, my minions, are first class chaos." The group had little to say in their defense and no one spoke. "Why the sad faces? I just gave you a compliment." Zelas laughed, though she did enjoy their negative emotions, as it provided her with energy.

Lina decided that it was time to change the subject from the recent happenings to the purpose behind them. "What's done is done; we can't worry about it now." She still got a bad feeling about it. "So you got the information you need, care to inform your crew how you intend to use it? As the captain, I should know."

"Gladly," Zelas grinned. "As I'm sure you all know, I am a dark lost ship, it's not surprising, since I was originally a monster lord. Given that fact, I feed on negative energy. However, so does Darkstar's vessel, Dugradigdu. In other words, if I try to attack Darkstar with dark energy, I'll only be empowering him. Unfortunately, the same is not true the other way around, because of the sheer amount of his energy. So in other words, I have two choices. One choice is to gain more raw power than Darkstar and overload his systems with my native dark energy, to give him more than he can take. This is a difficult choice because of the limitations on time and the fact that Dugradigdu is prepared to carry even more power than what Darkstar has right now, which is plenty by itself."

"So overloading him with dark energy will be nearly impossible," Zelgadis concluded.

"Given our limited time, I would say it is impossible," Zelas admitted. "I can build my power over time, but so can Darkstar. Even if I strategize to gain power faster than him, it would take a long time to catch up, time that is not available. You see, right now Darkstar is focusing on breaking through the protective program Canal gave us monster lords. He's trying to take over Dolphin and Dynast. That is why he's not actively searching for us as much as he could. If he accomplishes that, he could move on to take over the communications across this world. That would take time and energy, but he would still do it faster than the time it would take to gain enough raw power to surpass him, especially after he takes the power belonging to Dolphin and Dynast for himself. He'd track us down and destroy us if we wait to long."

"So dark energy doesn't work against Darkstar, but that's not even surprising!" Amelia exclaimed with determination. "Darkness must be defeated by light, by justice!"

"That is my other option," Zelas acknowledged. "The power of light is one that Vorfeed wields, but I have no intentions of becoming her tool, nor will I change my vessel into a lost ship of light, if that were even possible some how. However, I can still temporarily wield the power of light with the right equipment. We're following up on a theory and a legend here, but it's our best lead. If I get my hands on the stone known as the White Materia, I can use it to purify my negative energy into positive energy as an outside process and use it against Darkstar."

"Yes, the power of justice will prevail!" Amelia cheered.

"So we're off on a treasure hunt of sorts." Lina mused aloud. "But there's still one thing that worries me." She paused dramatically then nearly shouted. "What about our supplies? We need food!"

"Yes, yes, food," Zelas disregarded her concerns. "For the millionth time, as long as you're useful to me alive, I won't starve you. We'll have to make another stop along the way. Xellos, research the maps and find a suitable place for job hunting. Make it another planet populated mostly by humans, it'll be easier to blend in and find work that way."

"What about that trouble contractor business you mentioned before?" Zelgadis inquired. "Wouldn't that be more effective than regular jobs?"

"Yes it would and that's what we're heading out to do," Zelas grinned with cunning anticipation. "Our clients are desperate and will pay a high price for us to rid them of the dark lost ship that's been terrorizing their home because he thought they were hiding a certain white ship."

Lina looked at Zelas suspiciously. "A white ship? Are you talking about the Swordbreaker?"

"I am, except the Swordbreaker isn't there," Zelas revealed with a wickedly amused grin. "You see, I created a crisis for us to solve by spreading false information and leading Nezard to a rich place to cause destruction. We'll have to defeat Darkstar's allies eventually and it is best if we face them all one on one. First I'll get the White Materia and then I'll head into battle against Nezard as planned."

"You're putting innocent people in danger just so you can get money for ammunition and take down our foes? That's not fair!" Amelia complained in disapproval. "What about saving both this world and ours?"

"I care not for the fate of this world," Zelas reminded. "My goal is revenge against Darkstar. We may share a common enemy, but that does not mean that we share a common goal."

"But that's..." Amelia wasn't sure how she could reason with the monster lord. "Lina, say something!"

"There's nothing I can do." Lina admitted with a serious expression that was a mix of resignation and frustration. "When we make the next stop, let's earn a lot of money so that Zelas doesn't have to resort to things like that in the future."

"Lina..." Amelia frowned.

"Zelas," Lina looked into the monster lord's holographic eyes, that looked just as real and sinister as ever. "You don't need to take it out on other people if all you want is my energy. I can get angry all on my own, in fact there's nothing that could make me angrier than I am! Darkstar is trying to destroy my world and he's caused enough damage already. I don't need any more motivation to hate him!" The petite redhead yelled.

Zelas smiled with a mocking air. "Then keep that hatred strong."

"I've found a suitable place to land," Xellos informed.

"Good, let's go then," Zelas decided.

xoxox xox xoxox

The Great Beast landed on another planet populated mostly by humans. It was quite similar to the one they had visited before. As with last time, Zelas claimed she had decided to remain on the ship, while Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos went out to explore the city. Filia was rather quiet and kept glaring at Xellos, no doubt upset about how Zelas was endangering innocent people in her quest for power. As they explored, they stopped in front of an elegant looking building with a sign in front of one of the golden lined glass windows.

"According to this, this place is looking to hire people to work as hosts. It looks like some kind of restaurant and ball room inside so I guess they're looking for waiters," Lina concluded. "I guess it's a good thing we can read this, but it's been making me curious about why our languages are the same."

"They're not," Xellos revealed. "Since I'm a program in this world, I have a variety of languages added to my very being. I also kept what I knew from our world, but the truth is that the language you are speaking right now is not the same as before. The only explanation I can come up with is that when you were thrown into this world, that was one of the changes that was made to make you adapt. Your native tongue became a sort of equivalent from this world. It should change back when we return to our world."

"That's actually pretty interesting, I didn't even realize we were speaking in a different language, though somehow, different words come into my mind when I really think about it," Lina mused aloud.

"It gives me a headache to think about it," Gourry whined.

"Anyway, I'm no currency expert, but it looks like the pay is good. What do you think of these numbers, Xellos?" Lina asked.

"They look pretty good," Xellos agreed. "But did you read what the sign says at the end? There are certain requirements to be hired for this job."

The group looked at the sign again. "What's the meaning of this? It says they'll only hire 'males of good appearance between the ages of eighteen and thirty,' but why?"

"I assume it's because their clientele is female," Xellos pointed out.

"So that's what it means by host..." Lina groaned. "But the money is so good and the opportunity to sneak food out of the kitchen even better!"

"Lina... You could never be a waitress," Amelia sighed.

"Funny, Luna told me the exact same thing once," Lina recalled. "But I don't see why not. Delivering plates to a table can't be all that hard."

"Um... Are we going to get jobs here?" Gourry innocently asked.

"No!" Filia exclaimed. "I do not support establishments that make use of physical charm to win over their customers and trick them into spending more!"

"Even if they hired women, you wouldn't get any tips," Xellos teased.

"Shut up, raw garbage!" Filia shouted. "Even if they hired women, I wouldn't work here!"

"Wait a minute," in a sudden burst of rebellion, Zelgadis had an idea. "Gourry, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"That the secret ingredient of Pepsi is a little piece of Heaven?" Gourry asked with a thoughtful expression.

"Tell me about it, I could drink a whole barrel of that sweet bubbly stuff!" Lina gleefully exclaimed.

"No! Well yes, but that's not the point!" Zelgadis tried to get the conversation back on track. "I think being waiters can't be all that hard. In fact, we should all take the jobs. All of us."

"But they only hire men..." Amelia reminded.

"Oh no, I know where this is going!" Lina stomped her foot and placed her hands on her hips.

"It's only fair after all you've made us do over time, right Gourry?" Zelgadis argued.

"Huh?" Gourry blinked in confusion.

"Aren't you going to ask me to back you up?" Xellos cut in.

Zelgadis huffed, "of course not, you actually enjoy dressing up as a girl."

Xellos gasped and feigned offense. "Why Zelgadis, are you doubting my manliness? If you would only take a moment to ask Filia-"

"I don't want to talk about that!" Filia shouted, her face crimson.

Getting back into topic, because he really didn't want to talk about that either, Zelgadis explained. "Lina is always making us dress up as girls, so we should return the favor and make her do the same!"

"But she's already dressed up as a girl," Gourry logically pointed out.

"That's not what I mean; we'll make her dress up as a guy!" Zelgadis explained.

"A sweet, beautiful, delicate and ultra feminine creature like me could never pass for a man!" Lina argued.

"Than you'll miss out on a well paying job with access to fancy food," Zelgadis countered.

"That's it! You're on!" Lina accepted the challenge. "C'mon girls, we'll be the most handsome men this town, this world, has ever seen!" Lina grabbed Filia and Amelia by the arms and began to drag them away. "Amelia, since you still have some money left from that job you took, you'll be paying for our new clothes!"

"What?!" The Seyruun princess protested. "But I worked hard to earn that money! Do you have any idea how many silly poses I had to strike for random people while handing out fliers?" That was coming from someone who loved making justice poses, so for Amelia of all people to get tired of it, she must have done a lot of posing.

"Wait a minute!" Zelgadis called out, though it was already too late. "I didn't mean to drag Amelia into this too."

"Um... What should we do now?" Gourry inquired.

"We beat them, that's what!" Xellos exclaimed; taking the other two by surprise. "Are we going to let the girls get away with being better men than us? Shouldn't actual men be better at being men?"

"Right, we can't back down," Zelgadis reluctantly agreed.

"Alright!" Gourry cheered, "Than let's go play in the mud, I haven't had a good mud fight in ages!"

"Mud fight?" Zelgadis and Xellos chorused with perplexity.

"That's right, mud fights are manly," Gourry nodded, sounding sure of himself.

"Mud fights are just messy," Zelgadis breathed in annoyance. "What we need is to be sophisticated and handsome."

Xellos changed his holographic projection so that he was now wearing a dark purple suit. "Both of which I already have."

"Changing your projection like that is cheating!" Zelgadis accused, caught up in their little argument. "C'mon Gourry, I still have a little money left, we're getting some new clothes!"

"Alright!" Gourry wasn't sure what was going on, but he liked that he had the opportunity to hang out with the guys. He loved Lina and cared for Amelia and Filia like sisters, but having a day out with just the guys was nice once in a while.

"I'm tagging along too; you guys wouldn't know what clothes to pick. Let my sophistication be your guide!" Xellos hurried after Zelgadis and Gourry.

"Sophistication? Ha!" Zelgadis laughed sarcastically. "We'll follow your advice when we want to look like clowns."

"I'm clearly the most sophisticated out of all of us!" Xellos argued back. Thus the back and forth continued as the three noisy and, from an outsider's perspective unsophisticated, men went off to buy some new clothes.

xoxox xox xoxox

Later, at the host club... "No, no, no!" The shout of a very upset gentleman pierced the air. "You brute!" He dramatically grimaced. "I knew that there would be many barbarians applying for this job even if they could never handle it, but I never expected for a man this rough to set foot in here!"

"What?!" Lina screeched in anger, her voice sounding oddly manly, due to the voice modulator chip hidden in her tie. She and the other girls were wearing suits with Amelia and Filia a bit uncomfortable with tightly bandaged chests. Lina bandaged hers too, though it was hardly necessary.

The manager of the establishment frowned even deeper at the reaction presented to his disapproval. "Mr. Lin, please retire."

"Give me another chance!" The examination room was currently occupied by Lina aka Lin, Amelia aka Lan, Filia aka Lun, Gourry, Zelgadis and Xellos. They tried not to laugh so as to not mess up their test. Yet the angry Lina, in a suit, with her hair brushed back to look as 'manly' as possible without changing the cut, it all made her raging eyes stand out more and made her look even fiercer than usual.

The manager twitched in stress, "I can't take this anymore. I was planning to finish a few more interviews as an example, but I need a moment to recover after witnessing this. I'm going to skip the rest of the introductions, I can't witness anymore of this and I do apologize for that. Please excuse me now; I will leave you to the rest of your examination by someone very capable that I have hired for the task. Lady Zelas, please come in."

"Zelas?!" The six host hopefuls exclaimed.

Zelas entered the examination room with a confident stride. "Greetings, gentlemen."

The manager waited a few seconds before letting out a hopeless breath. "Gentlemen, please greet the lady properly. As soon as I saw lady Zelas, I knew she's refined and sophisticated, so I had to hire her to screen the interviewees. Now greet her properly and do your best. I must be going now." He hurried out of the room dramatically, as if he had just witnessed something terrifying. The area remained in silence until the manager suddenly returned with the same dramatic flare and bowed to Zelas. "On second thought, I cannot simply abandon such a fine lady with a ruffian in the premises." He eyed Lin with distrust.

"You need not worry," Zelas assured. "I'm certain I will be alright. Please go rest; you really seem to need it."

The manager paused as if debating on what to do. Finally, he decided that the way Zelas' silver eyes went from alluring to terrifying was a good hint that he should leave. "Best wishes..." Then he dramatically exited the room again.

Zelas grinned at the perplexed group, out of which only Xellos was composed. "Shall we continue the examination? It sounded like Mr. Lin had been eliminated, but I might give him another chance. Shall we repeat the test now?"

"Yes!" Lina exclaimed. She cleared her throat and tried to perform the test again, following the instructions the manager had given her. "I mean, welcome princess!" She spoke the greeting the hosts were required to say. "Sit down, have some tea." After a short pause, Lina scrambled for the chair. "Wait! Let me get that for you!" She pulled the chair out from under the table noisily.

"How nice of you to bring out the appetizers, however I cannot consume them with this projection. Although I still enjoy witnessing the chaos, it amuses me," Zelas grinned as she sat down.

"Chaos? Appetizers?" Lina was focusing on trying not to fail the test and not paying attention to much else aside from the routine she had to follow. "Yes well," she sat down across from Zelas and poured herself some tea. "Let's just drink up and... Oh wait, the first cup is for the guest," she switched the cups. "Cheers to chaos!" She laughed half-heartedly, hoping that Zelas would just pass her already.

"Cheers!" Zelas lifted her tea cup, and with a soft 'cling' touched it against Lina's, but didn't drink it as she was a hologram. "At least as an astral being I could still pretend to drink tea and taste it. Oh well, I suppose having a vessel has its advantages too, being a lost ship isn't so bad now that I'm getting used to it. By the way, Mr. Lin..." Zelas knew all their fake names and fabricated backgrounds, indicating that she had been secretly watching the show from the start.

"Yes?" Lina looked hopeful. "And may I take a moment to say you look especially evil today? Cause you look especially evil today." She laughed nervously, trying to come up with a suitable compliment like the manager had previously instructed.

"According to the manager's criteria you failed this very simple 'greet and serve tea' test miserably." Zelas' expression was very similar to that of Xellos' usual cheery face at that moment, as Lina's jaw dropped and she prepared her argument. Yet it wasn't needed as Zelas continued. "But I'll pass you anyway, just to see how you do at the gala tonight."

"Yes!" Lina cheered before correcting herself. "I mean, thank you, sweet lady."

With a sweet expression that didn't match her suddenly harsh tone of voice, Zelas called out, "next!" Leaving the other five host hopefuls to contemplate who should face the test next.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 056: Mischief! The Grant Gala Heist

Zelas let out a theatrical yawn, as Filia finished her script, exactly like the host club manager had explained it to her earlier. "Boring!" Filia said nothing, maintaining a blank expression. "It must be a dragon thing. Are all male dragons supposed to be dull? It must be what they're taught. Milgazia sure learned it well. I guess I should at least commend you on your acting skills. You're putting me to sleep with boredom, just like dragon boy would." Filia twitched a little, but didn't say anything. "I guess that's it, see you at the gala tonight, and to the cute boy with the purple hair, make sure you bring all your jokes tonight!" Filia twitched some more, remembering Xellos' dragon jokes, particularly her least favorite of why did the dragon cross the road? Yet still the blond cyborg remained silent, fuming inside in a way that Xellos quietly longed to taste.

xoxox xox xoxox

That night, the host club was full, and the manager was stressing because the CEO was coming to oversee the operations of that particular establishment of the franchise in person. He saw that Mr. Lin was there and his stress grew. Yet he didn't breathe a word, assuming that Zelas had somehow managed to cure the redhead of his 'barbaric ways' as the manager would say. Yet a stream of high pitched, "eeks" drew his eyes to the aforementioned redhead. "Oh no..."

"Mr. Manager," a melodious voice called out from right behind the stressed man. He turned around slowly to gaze upon the smiling face of the CEO of the chain of host clubs, Tamaki Souh. "I must ask a question." The only response he got was a quiet nod, thus he continued. "Why are there three princesses playing the part of princes?" The manager remained speechless and the CEO concluded that he didn't know about the princesses that were, as he said, disguised as princes. Tamaki approached Lina and gently took her hand, "greetings, princess."

Lina's jaw dropped and she mumbled incoherently, too shocked to stop Tamaki from removing the voice modulator from her tie. "How... how did you...?" Tamaki only gave her a charming smile in reply to her unfinished question.

Gourry spilled the tea he was trying to serve to one of the giggling customers. Amelia noticed the situation and dashed over to encourage him. "Go to her! Don't let anyone steal her from you!"

Gourry frowned, oblivious to the displeased expression on his client's face. "Lina only likes me as a friend. I can't stop her from liking someone else. Just look at her face, look at how she's blushing!"

Amelia thought it was ironic that Gourry noticed all that when Lina did it for someone else and remained clueless when it came to such reactions directed at himself. "She's just surprised; you're the one she really wants. You can't give up, fight!" Amelia posed as if she was delivering a justice speech and the curious voices and squeals of the customers increased.

Gourry still looked indecisive, so Zelgadis stepped in. "In love, there is often the one who runs away and the one who gives chase." In his case, Amelia had been the one chasing him. "Lina is shyer than she lets on, you'll have to be the one to chase her. Take my word for it, you have all the possibilities, no, you have all the assurance, in the world. Go to her."

With new determination from his friends' encouragement, Gourry decided that he was not going to stand quietly on the sidelines. He marched right over to where Tamaki and Lina stood, then he stopped with a blank expression. What was he supposed to do? He had no experience in fighting over a girl, and he had a feeling that it would be vastly different from any other kind of fight. Besides, that guy didn't know he liked Lina, not that it officially made a difference anyway, since she was technically single. "Um... excuse me..."

Tamaki looked at the man who addressed him. "Yes, how may I help you, fine sir?"

Lina's eyes widened and her heart skipped a beat as she considered what Gourry could do next. Yet Gourry's reply was an anti-climatic, "may I cut in?"

"Of course," Tamaki stepped aside, but before he left, he gave Gourry a piercing look, right into his eyes. "However, my good sir, I must remind you that one must be more assertive in the quest for a princess' heart. I can see it in your eyes that your love is true, you must not hide it." Just as elegantly as he came by, Tamaki moved on to talk to the other disguised 'princess', as he referred to all pretty girls, whether they were royalty or not, though this one actually was. "Greetings, princess," he kissed Amelia's hand and felt Zelgadis' eyes burning into him. He had managed to remove all his armor after battling it out with a screwdriver and actually looked fully human for the night. "There is no cause for alarm, good sir, I simply wanted to greet the lady," he smiled.

"I guess you have a very good eye..." Zelgadis admitted.

"Of course," Tamaki assured with a proud charming smile. "The eyes of a true prince can spot a princess from any distance, in any crowd. I am also skilled in spotting love and I see it here too. I'm not sure what the purpose of this masquerade is, but it may prove to be amusing, so I will not interrupt." As Tamaki walked towards the third princess in disguise, the murmurs of the guests increased and the fan-girlish theories flew about all sorts of hidden soap opera worthy plots to explain the current setting. Forbidden lovers, the whispers said. They were all forbidden lovers in disguise trying to hide away from a murderous ex or an arranged marriage with great influence or something along those lines.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lun, aka Filia's, table as filled with fan girls. They squealed in delight as they tasted the tea Filia brew herself. "Here you go, miss, please enjoy," she politely served the tea of another girl.

"Thank you, Mr. Lun," the brunette girl sighed happily.

Two other girls whispered among themselves. "Mr. Lun is so charming," the blond whispered.

"Oh yes he is," the dark haired girl next to her sighed. "He's so kind and delicate."

"He's a true gentleman," a redhead sighed.

Xellos watched the scene play out with jealousy building up inside him. He shouldn't even be jealous, Filia didn't like girls and he knew it, but he couldn't help it.

"Look at his eyes, he finally opened his eyes!" A girl with blue eyes, who was at Xellos' table, exclaimed.

"His eyes are so mischievous and mysterious," voiced her green eyed neighbor.

"I told you there was more to his cheerful expression," added the girl with brown eyes.

Xellos remained ignorant to the conversation about himself happening right next to him, for his attention was focused on Filia. She was not paying any attention to him at all. She shouldn't be playing the gentleman; she should be trashing the building in a jealous rampage. Then the purple haired hologram saw a blond man with charming violet eyes heading towards Filia and every other mental alarm that wasn't already flaring, went off at that moment. Try to deny it as she may, Filia had a thing for eyes that were purple or similar shades.

Tamaki reached Filia, who had been focused on making and serving tea and thus didn't notice the recent happenings with her friends. She thought the way he carried himself meant that he held an important position. She was about to greet him politely when her view of the approaching blond was blocked by another body.

Tamaki had already begun to step forward and reach out for Filia's hand when Xellos projected himself between them, though there was hardly enough space for him there. As a result Tamaki ended up stepping on Xellos' foot when he stepped forward to reach for Filia's hand. The CEO of the chain of host clubs famed throughout the galaxy, had already inclined his head and closed his eyes, as he always did when kissing a woman's hand, but the hand wasn't quite what he expected, "greetings, prin... prince?"

Tamaki looked up in confusion and saw a pair of deep violet eyes with elongated pupils glaring at him. "You're stepping on my toes." Xellos pointed out with a growl.

"Oh," Tamaki stepped back, not bothering to ask if he meant that only literally or both literally and metaphorically. "My apologies, kind sir." It wasn't that Xellos looked kind at that moment, but rather Tamaki hoped he was. "I can se you hold a strong and passionate love for your princess. I merely wanted to greet her. I assure you, there is nothing to worry about."

Xellos reclaimed his usual cheerful mask. "A strong and passionate love?" He laughed mockingly, as if it was the most ridiculous joke he ever heard. "You, kind sir," he intoned with sarcastic mockery, "are delusional."

Tamaki grinned, his expression momentarily resembling Xellos' mischief, which caused the tricky hologram to do a double take. Yet in a split second, the mischief was gone and the charm was once again thick on Tamaki's handsome face. "My good man, denial is not becoming for a gentleman." He smiled a charming smile that was so full of true innocent cheer, that if Xellos had still been a monster, he might have cringed.

The whole time, Lina and Gourry were standing around, unsure of what to say. Amelia and Zelgadis watched them, as if trying to coax them with their eyes into spilling out their feelings. Before anything more could be said, the lights of the elegant establishment turned off for a few seconds. Squeals of fright erupted through the gala until finally; the light came back on with a flicker.

"Save us, Mr. Lun!" Several girls were clinging to Filia for protection. Xellos pulled her out from their group before he had time to think about what he was doing. His unexpected reaction towards his fellow host, elicited more squeals from the girls. "Shounen-ai!" They squeaked.

"That's one possessive uke," Xellos thought he heard one of the girls whisper to another, who had the nerve to nod in firm agreement.

He pouted, Xellos was no expert in fan girl language, but he thought the possessive one was usually labeled seme. "Why am I the uke?"

"Does it...?" Filia paused to remove the voice modulator hidden in her tie and grinned. "Does it matter?"

The fan girls gasped in unison. "She's a girl!" They squeaked in disbelief.

The girl who had made the uke comment before flipped her short auburn hair back and grinned. "He's still the uke, because she's such a sadist, I can smell it."

Feeling self conscious, Filia blushed and took a discrete breath as if trying to perceive her own scent. Never mind that logically speaking, no one should be able to actually smell sadism. The whole time, Xellos continued to glare and pout.

"My jewels!" One of the girls of the gala cried out. A wave of similar cries followed, as the distracted fan girls finally realized that their jewelry had been stolen when the lights flickered off a short while ago.

"It's about time you noticed my genius heist!" A voice was heard echoing all over the grand hall. The lights flickered off and on again and there stood a certain hologram that, despite her current apparel, Lina and her friends recognized right away. Zelas was wearing a black suit similar, yet not exactly the same, as that of Catwoman. Tall boots and long gloves were paired with a main piece that looked more like a black leather bathing-suit than anything else. She had a wolf tail and a mask that covered the top of her face with wolf ears. The mask ended atop her nose, making her eyes look like golden lights. Her platinum hair was long, reaching down to just above her wolf tail and she sported a fanged grin.

Tamaki gasped, "it is a jewel thief she-wolf princess!" He exclaimed with more excitement than concern.

"Paper and coin currency isn't commonly used on this planet, cards are all the rage, but they go with finger prints to activate for purchases and for large sums even retina scans. It's too troublesome, so I'll just take the jewels instead and sell them in the black market," Zelas announced. "The way things work in this world, jewel thieves have a reputation for leaving an impression, so here's mine!" She was basing that conclusion on the jewel thieves from movies, but who could stop her anyway?

Suddenly, strong metal, long arm-like hooks held on to the building's high ceiling and pulled it right off as if removing the lid of a box. The hooks originated from the Great Beast, controlled by Zelas. "It's time to make our triumphant escape!" The hologram projection of Zelas disappeared, as a tractor beam extended from the Great Beast and levitated Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia towards the ship. Being a hologram as well, Xellos simply reappeared in the control room, where he was soon joined by the others.

The interruption caused a distraction, just when Lina and Gourry were about to have a breakthrough. But now Lina automatically, maybe even unconsciously, took the opportunity to retreat into her shell and demand an explanation, focusing on anything that wasn't directly related to her feelings for Gourry. "What's this about, Zelas? Was it your plan all along to steal all those jewels?"

"Of course it was," Zelas grinned as the Great Beast made its way further away from the planet where the robbery took place. "Did you really think I was going to wait for you to try to make some honest money? I'm a monster lord, remember?"

"I for one remember it crystal clear," Filia pouted. She was having such a good time studying Xellos' possessive reaction to the fan girls.

"I'm glad that's been clearly established," Zelas continued to grin with egotistical mocking mischief.

A transmission suddenly came online and Zelas curiously received it on her main screen. A young man with black hair and silvery gray eyes, wearing a blue and gray uniform appeared on the screen. Next to him there was a young woman wearing the same uniform. She had light brown hair in a ponytail and big green eyes, with a very Amelia-like expression upon her face. "This is lieutenant Raily Claymore of the Galaxy Police. Great Beast, you are here by ordered to stop immediately!"

"That's right!" The brunette woman next to Raily exclaimed. "I, agent Nina Mercury, order you to do as he says!"

"Not again!" Lina groaned. "I said I had enough of running from the police with that time when Wizer was trying to arrest me!" She exclaimed exasperated.

Zelas adopted a thoughtful expression. "That's funny; I thought Rail was supposed to be on our side."

"It's true that Kain and the others are our friends and I sometimes get them trouble contractor jobs," Raily admitted. "But I can't allow your unnecessary crime spree to continue. I've been tracking you since that incident on the highway of the previous planet you visited."

"That's right!" Nina joined in, speaking in a tone that was remarkably similar to the volume Amelia used for her justice speeches. "We followed you to this planet to get an explanation, but after the damage you've caused, it's clear that your behavior is inexcusable. We may all be enemies of Darkstar, but we at the Galaxy Police are also protectors of the innocent!"

Amelia's eyes were shining with admiration as she listened to the speech with full attention. "I want to join your noble cause!" She happily exclaimed, going into a justice speech of her own. "To travel across the galaxies, from one planet to another, apprehending evil doers and protecting the good and innocent; to spread hope throughout the vastness of the universe, that is the noblest goal an ally of justice could have!"

Nina and Amelia's eyes shone with just bliss as they realized they shared a special mutual connection. "Yes, join us!" Nina encouraged. "The Galaxy Police will gladly welcome an advocate of justice like you!"

Raily and Zelgadis exchanged concerned looks, while Zelas thought it was time to end the conversation there and then. Nonchalant and disregarding, Zelas spoke, "so you wish to get in our way instead of making yourself useful? Oh well, it doesn't matter anyway, it's not like you can make a difference! Preparing calculations..."

"Ready!" Xellos chirped cheerfully.

"Eat our stardust, copper, mwahahaha!" Zelas had heard that line in a space opera sci-fi gangster movie and she had been wanting to say it ever since.

Raily gritted his teeth and delivered an interesting attack in the form of a particular phrase. "The one who arose from Shabranigdu bows down in the name of Chaos!"

A jolt of electricity coursed through Zelas' holographic projection and the Great Beast's engine momentarily stalled. "What did you do?" Xellos demanded.

Zelas growled with her holographic projection flickering and almost fading. She couldn't control her vessel at all. That man's words felt like a very powerful astral attack would feel in her world. It was paralyzing. "Xellos, take over!"

"Jumping to light speed now!" With Xellos in command of the vessel, the lost ship Great Beast made the jump to light speed, leaving the Galaxy Police far behind. "Their ship is too slow to catch up with us, but we'll have to keep moving if we're going to continue to elude them. I didn't think they posed any danger just by looking at their ship, but..." He looked at Zelas with concern.

Zelas' holographic projection stabilized as her systems rebooted. "That phrase caused me to shut down almost completely. It must be some kind of emergency shut down code integrated into lost ships. I'm alright now, I'm going back online. I guess it's a good thing this vessel has two AIs, it seems the shut down only affects the one acting as the primary AI at the time."

"I'm not one hundred percent clear on everything that you just said," Lina admitted with a serious face. "But from what I can gather, basically, if he had spoken that phrase again before we had time to escape, then Xellos would have shut down and without an AI system to support the ship's functions..."

"Not even the manual control would have responded, because even if we relay control to the crew, an AI is still needed to keep the ship's complex systems working properly," Zelas confirmed. She frowned upon realizing she had a glaring weakness that she wasn't even aware of before. "I take back what I said about this not being so bad, having a physical form is troublesome."

"Yet vital," Amelia reminded.

Realizing what the Seyruun princess was talking about, Zelgadis recalled. "What we heard about Darkstar having the remnant power of the Stillness."

"Yes," Amelia nodded. "At least you won't have to worry about that."

"Yet that needed defense comes at a price," Zelas mused aloud. "However," the mischievous confident grin returned to her face. "Wasn't it interesting how lieutenant Claymore made use of Shabranigdu's name in that phrase he spoke? What if we switched it to Darkstar?"

"Then it should only affect the dark lost ships of this world!" Filia exclaimed in realization.

"Well then, let's try it out while we're safe to make sure," Lina decided. "The one who arose from Darkstar bows down in the name of Chaos!" Nothing happened. "Looks like you're safe as long as I don't say Shabranigdu." Lina grinned evilly. "By the way, Zelas, you won't mind making a few stops at the best gourmet restaurants of the over-world, would you?"

With a cheery expression like that of Xellos', Zelas voiced, "oxygen off!" Lina and the other humans found themselves gasping for air until Zelas decided the warning was clear enough. "Oxygen on... Oops, I guess I was still recovering from that last shut down and couldn't keep the life support system going for a minute there."

"Point taken," Lina grumbled between big breaths of precious air.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 057: Outmatched! The Hidden Power Remains Elusive

After the Great Beast jumped to light speed, Raily leaned back in his chair and let out a breath. "Just as Kain said, the main AI of the Great Beast is stubborn and proud. She won't accept help from us, just as she insisted on going off on her own and cutting communications with the Swordbreaker for now."

"But wasn't that done so that they wouldn't stand out?" Nina inquired curiously.

"That was the logical explanation," Raily agreed, "but not the whole story. Zelas wants to do as much as she can on her own. She doesn't want to be saved by a lord of light from another world. She had enough of that during her first encounter with Darkstar. It's probably more than enough for her to have to rely on humans from her world."

"I get it," Nina smiled. "Then giving her that hint was the best thing you could do to help her."

"Yes," Raily nodded, "I told her about the greatest weakness of the enemy and herself. I just hope she knows that it won't work on Dugradigdu, because of that Stillness business."

"The effect on Darkstar's allies is also reduced because of their connection to him, isn't it?" Nina remembered hearing something like that from Canal the last time they called the Swordbreaker. Nina was often catalogued as a scatterbrain, but it wasn't that she was entirely dumb, she was just a little clumsy, as proven by the tea stains on Raily's uniform.

"That's right," Raily confirmed. "That code can be their trump card, especially since it needs to be spoken by a human and the Darkstar's lost ships don't currently have captains inside them as far as we know. Besides, even if they got captains to boost their power, feeding off their negative energy, they would probably be trapped in an unconscious nightmare and both unwilling and unable to utter the phrase against the Great Beast. Yet they can't rely on that trump card too much, because after it's been used once, it won't be effective again for several hours, which is more than enough time to finish a battle."

xoxox xox xoxox

As the Great Beast continued its travels in relative calm, suddenly, the radars lit up, alerts flared and Zelas' relaxed posture turned fierce. "It's Bodigar!" She announced in alarm. "I was planning to face Bodigar and the others after I obtained the White Materia, for now let's jump to light speed!" The crew of the Great Beast braced themselves for the jump that came and went in a flash.

Yet after a few more hours of travel, the radars lit up on the screen again and Bodigar sent a transmission. There was no image to go along with it, only the sound of his voice. "Go ahead and waste your energy jumping if you want. I'll be right behind you. Even fake IDs can be tracked if you know what to look for. There are communication signals all around, surely you feel them, you must feel the digital plane."

"So you've found a way to track me," Zelas glared. "Thanks for explaining it," she mocked sarcastically. "I'll make sure to change my IDs after every stop from now on."

"You won't have any more stops, your rebellion ends here!" Bodigar threatened.

"Forget the plan, I'm taking him out right now," Zelas grinned confidently and for a moment she wondered if Raily had actually given her a free hint. He didn't even try to open fire after he spoke that paralyzing phrase. Either way, she didn't have time to think about that now. "Lina, say it!"

"With pleasure!" Lina took a deep breath and spoke with absolute confidence. "The one who arose from Darkstar, bows down in the name of Chaos!"

The effect was immediate; Bodigar cut the communication channel with a pained groan, as electricity surged through his dark green and black metal.

"Lina, to the captain's chair. Filia you're the first officer," Zelas ordered. "Xellos, take Filia's energy while I take Lina's. Alright you two, get angry, we're blasting Bodigar into space dust!"

"Here we go!" Lina shouted. She and Filia focused on things that made them angry, allowing their energy to flow.

"Firing the main psy-cannon!" Zelas aimed point blank and fired a massive beam of energy with little effect. Frustrated, slightly embarrassed and above all angry, Zelas fired again. "Keep the energy coming!" A third shot was fired, even more intense than the others.

After the blast ended, Bodigar's outer armor was burned and bruised, but he wasn't out of the fight yet. Zelas knew that her dark energy wouldn't be very effective against the dark ships, but she thought she could overpower Bodigar when he was disabled. Yet now Bodigar's systems were back online and he was ready to go on the attack. "Is that all you can do? The other world must be very weak!" He began the assault with beams of dark light that went right through Zelas.

The Great Beast's crew, all save for the two AIs, Zelas and Xellos, collapsed in pain. Zelas needed their energy as fuel for her systems; she knew she couldn't win without them, so she had no choice but to protect them. "Shield to maximum output!" The dark light stopped invading the control room, instead being repelled by the energy around the Great Beast. "Lina, all of you, say it again!"

"The one who arose from Darkstar, bows down in the name of Chaos!" Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia spoke with pained difficulty, but nothing happened.

"That won't work again so soon!" Bodigar's voice came from the transmission again. The beams of dark light continued raining upon the Great Beast, who could only defend in response.

"Those beans of dark energy won't hurt me, they're aimed at all of you." Zelas glanced at the non-AIs in the ship.

"Don't forget that you need our energy, so you have to keep us safe from whatever that was!" Lina shuddered involuntarily. The pain, the fear, the desperation; it only lasted a few seconds before, but the mental attack was unbearable. Lina felt like she was dying, worse than dying, and she was sure that it was the same, if not worse, for the others.

"I won't make any progress if I just defend," Zelas growled. Her weaponry wouldn't work against him at all. "If energy won't work, I'll just attack physically!" A pair of arm-like structures extended from the ship, grappler arms, they were called by most over-worlders. Unfortunately, when Zelas tried to connect a right hook, dark electricity coursed through her vessel and her crew yelped in pain. "You're weighing me down," she growled.

The worse part, Lina mused desperately, was that Zelas had a point. If they didn't make themselves useful, she wouldn't protect them and their lives literally depended on her as things stood. "I was able to attack Gorun Nova with my own energy in a direct hit before." Lina was charged with chaotic energy from the trip to the over-world having just occurred at the time, so this time would be different. "If I could hit him directly without you making my energy become dark..."

"I'm not making your energy dark, it already is. Wrath is dark energy, unless you can shoot off pure courage while surviving in space, it's not going to work." Zelas growled and proceeded to ignore Lina. Bodigar looked like he was going to attack and after a mocking sounding laugh he did.

Zelas ignored the dark rays of energy, as they didn't really hurt her. "We'll have to prove we're not a burden." Amelia rallied up the others. "We have psy-weapons, we can use them to defend ourselves!" She cheered through the pain.

The humans and cyborgs readied their psy-weapons with difficulty. Gourry had a sword that had been made from the hilt of Lina's brass racket; the metal was very rare in the over-world, different from what they called brass there. Zelgadis and Filia used their cyborg components to project their psy-energy, while Amelia raised her psy-gloves to project her energy as well. All the energy was united by Lina. The redhead had her gun, which she controlled to release a steady beam of light over the group in the form of a forcefield, drawing power from all of them, channeled by their respective psy-weapons. In that way they kept themselves safe from Bodigar's attacks while Zelas tried to fight back, with Xellos assisting in trying to improve the processing speed and thus the reaction time and agility of the Great Beast.

The two dark lost ships collided, with the grappler arms built into the Great Beast hitting the enemy relentlessly. Zelas didn't seize her attack until the long metal appendages became useless and were ripped off by Bodigar. The metal parts floated away in space as the battle persistently continued. Unfortunately, Zelas' power was ineffective. 'I must have power.' The monster lord turned AI thought quietly. 'If my power was really this useless, Darkstar wouldn't bother trying to steal it. It must be something hidden in my mind. That is the source of a monster's power after all, their very persona. That's why melting Dolphin and Dynast's metal into Dugradigdu wasn't enough. Darkstar can't drain their mental energy because of Canal's protective program. If that wasn't important, then why not simply destroy them? Lina was able to fight off Gorun Nova with the chaotic energy from between the worlds, but this is different. It's not about what we could have acquired during the trip. Darkstar definitely wants something that we monster lords have. My power... If only I could unlock my hidden power, if only I had a clue of what it really is.'

While Zelas focused on her thoughts and the fight, Lina had asked, or rather ordered, Xellos to find a space suit for her. Once she obtained it, she took the energy from the others into her psy-weapon and speedily suited up, while Gourry gave her concerned looks as if telling her to be careful. She couldn't just Raywing away if things got too intense and she was separated from the Great Beast. She could use no magic at all. Would her psy-weapon be enough, even with all that energy? Lina could almost feel his thoughts just by looking into his blue eyes, proving once again how well they knew each other and that they did indeed share a deep connection. Yet she didn't have time to dwell on it at the moment. "Xellos, open the hatch!"

Zelas felt a tug, but she was so focused on maintaining her defenses up that she didn't pay attention to it at first. Gorun Nova must have lagged behind due to the extra time he spent in their world. Meanwhile, in the over-world, where technology thrived, Bodigar, Nezard, Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis were receiving upgrades that Gorun Nova didn't have when he faced Lina; yet he could have them by now.

"Lord Beast Master, the hatch." Xellos' voice woke Zelas out of her concentration. She noticed that Lina seemed to be ready to do something. Zelas stopped resisting and allowed the hatch to open.

Lina was nearly thrown out with everyone else. They had to hold on to not fall into space, as the shield around the ship wasn't thick enough to hold off the vacuum of space completely. The redhead glanced at Gourry again and he smiled and gave her a thumbs up, silently communicating that he trusted her. That was just what Lina needed. Gourry and the others believed in her and they would project their psy-energy through the lifeline to the space suit to keep her safe while she focused on the attack. She knew she only had one shot. Gripping the psy-gun tightly, Lina made sure that the lifeline was secure on the space suit and, when there was a small lull in the fight, she jumped.

Everyone tried to keep the line steady as Lina aimed. "My energy may be mixed with plenty of wrath, but I'll make sure it has just as much courage! That, and the raw power of my world through we who represent it, will be your downfall!" Though her voice could not be carried through space, it came out loud and clear, transmitted through the communicator on her helmet and relayed by Xellos to Bodigar's communication link with the Great Beast. With a massive burst of energy, Lina fought against her natural limits and released, not only her main supply of energy and the energy the others gave her, but also threw out more of her energy from her vital reserves. It was a move that cost Swordbreaker's previous captain, Alicia, her life, yet Lina's endurance and ability to survive was beyond compare. Her hair became white from the strain and dangerous exhaustion, as her weakened form was pulled back inside the Great Beast.

The blast of energy hit Bodigar dead on. Though the energy of courage was indeed mixed with a high level of wrath, the raw power of it made up for it. That burst, point blank, was more than what Bodigar could guard against. As his systems overloaded and his consciousness was destroyed in a massive explosion, Zelas once again had to focus on the defense.

The stabilizers inside the Great Beast temporarily gave out as she was caught too close to the super nova-like explosion that ended Bodigar's existence. The crew was thrown about, with Gourry holding the fainted Lina protectively. Zelas strained her engines to get away from the aftershock and, after a harsh struggle, she managed to distance herself from the immediate area of Bodigar's demise and restore the stable atmosphere inside her vessel.

Everyone, save for the exhausted Lina, immediately sprung to life. They hurried to aid the redhead with the best medical attention they could give her without being able to cast healing spells. In the middle of tending to Lina and trying to calm down after the rush of the fight, Xellos was the only one who really noticed Zelas' especially foul mood. Try as she may to keep her cool, she was frustrated with being unable to properly use a mysterious power she was sure she must have. She was sick of feeling at a disadvantage, and now a mere mortal accomplished what she could not. Zelas was determined not to be in such a situation again. She jumped to light speed in anger, without giving her crew a proper warning, thus causing them to be tossed around again, just when they thought it was finally over.

"Ack! A warning would have been appreciated!" Filia snapped, yet a very serious warning glare from Xellos made her bite her lip and swallow any further comments. The glare also served as a warning of silence towards all the others. Zelas didn't acknowledge the complaint anyway. She was focused on her plan, on the lead she was following. This wasn't the key to unlocking her inner power, but it would make her stronger and that was all she had to go on for now. Zelas was determined to find the legendary White Materia.

xoxox xox xoxox

While on her way towards the designated destination on a remote, yet technologically advanced planet, the Great Beast faced yet another massive obstacle. "Nezard?!" Zelas glared at the radar on the screen and allowed the communication channel to open.

"I have found you, Great Beast. I do not know what cause Bodigar to disappear from my sensors, but I confirmed his demise." Nezard's voice came through the speakers in the Great Beast's control room. "Whatever it is you did, I assure you it will not work on me, if you're even capable of repeating it, as I see your vessel is in bad shape."

"You gave up on your hunt for Vorfeed rather quickly." Zelas showed no fear though in truth she was desperately buying time. Lina was known for her miracle comebacks, but there was no way she could pull off another after what she did. She would need a long rest to recover and no one else in the crew had the same instinctual ability to wield the over-world's version of their power like Lina had proven to have; not even Zelas herself, which only made the monster lord turned AI feel more frustrated with the situation, if an AI could feel such things. At that time, it appeared that it was indeed very possible.

"I cannot be so easily tricked." Zelas and Xellos focused on repairing the Great Beast as fast as they could, while Nezard continued to speak, hopefully prolonging the conversation long enough for the engines to power up for a light speed jump. Although, given how things had gone with Bodigar, trying to run might turn out to be useless after all. Unfortunately, after a few minutes, not nearly long enough for the Great Beast to recover, Nezard got bored of talking and decided it was time to fight. "Enough stalling, I will defeat you now and bring back your barely functional remains to Darkstar!"

"Maybe I'll give it a go next time," Zelas replied with as much false nonchalance as she could muster. "Right now, I'm just not in the mood." She made a sudden jump to light speed with very dangerous coordinates. However, as the ship jumped, Nezard stole the coordinates from her system, as the battle damage had left the Great Beast's software firewall unable to function at its best, while the energy was diverted out of necessity to the repair of the damaged lost ship. Because of that, Nezard could easily follow Zelas, but she expected it.

"What is this place? Where have you led us?" The atmosphere was filled with boulders floating in space, for Zelas had flown straight into an asteroid field. She was in the middle of it, while Nezard remained just outside of the danger zone, still in range for communication. "Are you so desperate to run away from me that you would rather be destroyed by these asteroids?"

"These asteroids will not harm me," Zelas challenged. "Come and follow me to our battle field if you dare!" She flew deeper into the deadly asteroid field after baiting the enemy. Xellos was busy assisting with the Great Beast's sensors, which would be vital to their survival.

"Should we really be here?" Filia whispered in worry, not daring to raise her voice above a barely audible tone. She received no answer, as the two AIs were far too focused on their task of guiding the vessel through the impending danger.

The crash of the boulders against Nezard was heard and the enemy dark lost ship backed away. "You have committed suicide, Great Beast!" A sort of strange radioactivity originating from the center of the asteroid field affected Nezard's systems and he was unable to clearly sense the movement of the asteroids around him. The cameras alone would not be enough to guide him, as they would only show him his immediate surroundings. Without the aid of his radars, Nezard hurried to retreat out of the asteroid field, while Zelas went deeper in. However, her radars were not functioning any better than Nezard's. In fact, Zelas' sensors were fading faster because of the battle damage.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 058: Divided! Chasing After The Lone Wolf

"I think we lost Nezard, shouldn't we be getting out of the asteroid field now?" Zelgadis' suggestion was shared by Amelia, Gourry and Filia. It would have also been agreeable to Lina if she had been conscious at the moment.

Yet out of the four aforementioned conscious biological or semi-biological life forms, Gourry was the calmest. "It's okay, they're in control. She's guiding the ship and he's watching her back, they're okay, so we're okay."

"What do you mean?" Amelia quietly asked, voicing the inquiry that Zelgadis and Filia also wondered about.

"They're being guided by instinct." Gourry explained with a certainty that could only originate from personal experience. "That's why I think Zelas was telling the truth before. The asteroids won't hurt us. Even without the radar thingies that make the moving maps appear on that screen thingy, they know where they're going. They just know, kind of like how sometimes I just know what my opponent's next move is going to be in a swordfight, before it happens and before I can even really see it getting started.

The lights flickered and dimmed as the Great Beast's sensors gave out entirely in a clearing in the center of the asteroid field, where a strange machine floated. The thing was like a cube with crescent moon carvings on the sides. "The grappler arms are gone, but this will do..." Zelas shot a cable with a hook-like end to it and grabbed the cube as if it was a toy from a pile in a crane game. She took the cube on board and Xellos projected himself close to the hatch to take it inside and to the control room.

The cube, which had been glowing golden the whole time, seemed to settle down and the interference that caused the radars and sensors to malfunction was gone. All the Great Beast's systems were back online, yet the strange crescent moon labeled cube remained a mystery. "What should we do with this thing, Lord Beast Master?" Xellos inquired with curiosity. A part of him want it to rip it open to see what could possibly be inside that caused such a strange effect, but his instinct told him to be very cautious with the mysterious cube that seemed to resonate lightly as if warning him not to do anything he might regret.

"We'll keep it for now." Zelas decided. Then, with her radars and sensors online, getting out of the cluster of asteroids was much easier. She was almost to the planet where the White Materia was supposed to be.

xoxox xox xoxox

Later... "Great Beast, you are clear to land at Shinra space dock zero zero seven." The voice of an automated control tower AI came through the speakers as the Great Beast landed at the intended destination. This planet was where the White Materia was supposed to be located. The structure was a shiny silver color with well kept metal that didn't screech and didn't have a single blemish.

"Well, here we are," Zelas announced. By then, Lina had woken up, though her hair was still white. The captain didn't like the sound of Zelas' voice almost completely devoid of her usual nonchalance, with a noticeable tint of impatience. Something was to come and the twist soon became apparent when Zelas informed them of how they would proceed. "Xellos, Filia should have just enough room in her cyborg components for you. Transfer your main AI to her. Only your personality and main memories if you must, you can leave the rest of your functions dormant here and unite with the rest of your non-vital data later."

"But Lord Beast Master, why?" Xellos didn't like the sound of this. He thought it was something more than just the possibility of, apparently very needed, renovations to the Great Beast lost ship.

"I'm going off on my own for a little while. I have some training to do. All of you have the mission of finding the White Materia, which is hidden somewhere on this planet. I expect you to have it upon my return. I will pick you up in this same city later. Now go, that is my order," Zelas commanded with a glare that left no room for arguments. Xellos opened his eyes for a moment, but Zelas only glare more intensely, making it clear that she would force her previous command to him if he didn't hurry up and do it himself. Thus Xellos transferred the basics of his being to Filia, possessing her in a sense. Though she was still in control of her actions, he resided in her memory banks, in her mind and could take control of her movements if he wanted. But for now, he wasn't sure of what to do, so he just remained still. Xellos wanted to go with Zelas, but she wouldn't let him.

"Zelas," Lina spoke, causing all eyes to go to her. She only spoke in that tone of voice, the leader voice, when she had something important to say. "This is hardly the time to be proud and want to do everything on your own. I know you have power beyond what any of us has, no one is doubting that. I also know you have a hidden power that Darkstar wants, a power that you haven't fully discovered yet. But no one here has figured out how things work in this world to their full extent and maybe by the time this adventure is over and Darkstar is long gone, we still won't know the full extent of how things work here. That's all the more reason to stick together and- ah!" Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, and thus Xellos, were thrown out of the ship by the force of a reverse tractor beam and the Great Beast took off into the depths of space. Zelas would just have to rely on her self repair capabilities to rebuild herself as she went along.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, in the world of the Slayers... "I can't find her anywhere!" Phythan complained to Milgazia. "Do you think Onyx is angry at me? She just disappeared."

"Calm down, I'm sure she's around here somewhere," Milgazia and Phythan were at Dragon's Peak. The golden dragon elder had a bad feeling that he couldn't get rid of, but after talking to several of the other dragons who lived there, he only found out that they had seen nothing out of the ordinary. Phythan had been asking around about his elf friend, Onyx, who had, shortly after returning to Dragon's Peak, seemingly dropped off the face of the planet, unknown to them literally.

The two dragons went on a search, but saw no signs of the elf girl in the usual areas she frequented. There were no signs of battle or a struggle of any kind, which made it all the more puzzling. Yet something kept Milgazia with an uneasy feeling and then he saw a nearly invisible ripple in the air, as if a transparent image was contorting against something. He approached and reached out with caution. When he touched the area, which appeared to be little more than thin air, there was a spark and he sensed something there, but he couldn't perceive it unless he was touching it. It was very suspicious, to say the least.

Seeing that Milgazia appeared to be focused, but not understanding what he was focused on, Phythan approached with a question. "Did you find something?"

"I think so," Milgazia replied with an uncharacteristic lack of surety, as he could hardly come up with an interpretation about what this was. Maybe it was a kind of side effect of the situation on the over-world whatever it might currently be. The dragon elder looked into the ripples and sparks with the younger golden dragon observing quietly. "There is chaotic energy here and..." He prodded the ripple in the space carefully and it opened up a little into a sort of portal. "It's a gateway of sorts."

"I thought I heard someone. Hello?" A voice came from the portal, faint but just barely audible. "Is anyone there? Who is there?" The voice was female and she did not speak in a threatening tone, but rather a merely curious one.

Milgazia thought it would be alright to answer her and hopefully get some answers in return. It wasn't the voice of the missing Onyx and he didn't recognize whose voice it was. "I am Milgazia, the dragon elder of the Aqualord's clan in the Kataart Mountains."

"Hey, wait a minute..." the owner of the mysterious voice contemplated. "That's in the other world! This is a portal to the other world!" She exclaimed, then tried to calm herself. "Oh... I mean, hello Milgazia, it's good to speak to you. This portal is too small for me, but I think a dragon should fit through, and it is stable enough to last for some time, so you can use it to return. Would you mind coming over here?"

Phythan huffed, "what kind of an obvious trap is that?" Furthermore, what was bigger than a dragon? Something with a very big astral form perhaps? Well, whatever it was, it was very suspicious.

"It's not!" The female voice insisted. "But I guess I can't blame you for thinking that. Let me explain, I am Canal and... Well actually, I think it's best to introduce myself in person. I'll send someone over there, okay?"

"Sure..." Milgazia stood at the ready for whoever the mysterious person decided to send.

"Alright! I'll go suit up and jump in," a male voice cheered. "While I'm over there I might as well take the time to check out the selection of capes in the local markets."

"No way, you'll get distracted!" Another female voice, different from the one who spoke before complained. "This is a job for the best in the universe! I'll go greet the dragon. Besides, I want to see what a genuine other world dragon looks like in his original world."

"But what about the capes? I must see them!" The man insisted.

"Let her go, Kain," Canal settled the argument. "Millie, go put on a space suit, just in case."

A few more minutes passed and eventually a human shaped figure emerged from the portal with a lifeline connected to the suit that encased the person, which was connecting her to the lost ship from where she came, the Swordbreaker. "Was all this even necessary? We know that the air here is breathable for humans." She struggled with the space suit until she managed to get it off and stood at an average height for a human woman, wearing pink pants, with a white shirt. She had shoulder length blond hair and big blue eyes. She looked curiously at the two men standing before her, with them mirroring equal perplexity towards this newcomer. She looked beyond them and all around before she finally asked. "Where did the dragons go?"

"We are dragons," Milgazia clarified. At least their visitor didn't seem to have any bad intentions. She appeared to be trustworthy.

"Oh?" Millie examined each of them with curious eyes. "I thought your forms would be different since you can't possibly be cyborgs here, can you?"

"Cyborg?" Milgazia inquired in confusion. Whatever that was, he didn't recognize the word.

"I'll take that as a no. It's just that I thought you'd be bigger." Suddenly, a conclusion came to her mind, it was mistaken but it was a possibility that she could imagine within the scope of her limited information. "I get it, you're not actual dragons, the word dragon here is used to signify a rank, right?"

"Nope, we're dragons, golden dragons," Phythan assured. "We're just in our human forms right now. Look, I'll show you what I mean." He took a few steps back in preparation.

Realizing that Phythan intended to change into his true form, Milgazia tried to stop him. "Phythan, don't," but it was too late.

In a flash of golden light, Phythan changed into his dragon form with the usual process of any normal dragon transformation. That included storing away his clothes a split second before changing, so as to not rip them apart. It was done magically, so it was very quick, but still a split second's glance could be plenty for someone curiously watching in attention. "See? I'm a golden dragon." He smiled as if it was nothing, because to him it wasn't.

Millie's jaw was ajar, her eyes wide and her face a bright red. "Ah... um... dra... dragon..." she muttered incoherently.

"Aw, it's okay, you don't have to be scared. Don't believe those nasty stories about dragons eating humans. I would never try to eat a person!" Phythan assured, assuming that that was the only issue in Millie's mind.

"Um... ah... yes... of course... That's good to know." Millie tried to compose herself.

Milgazia sighed wearily; it seemed that modesty was still a concept well beyond Phythan's understanding. "Miss, allow me to introduce us properly. I'm Milgazia, elder of the Aqualord's clan and this is our home, Dragon's Peak. May I ask who you are and about this portal?"

"Oh yes, right!" Millie finished snapping back to reality and hastily explained. "I'm Millennium, but you can just call me Millie. I'm the first officer of the ship Swordbreaker, on which I travel along with the captain, Kain and the ship's persona, Canal. You might have heard of Canal's other self, Vorfeed."

"Night dragon Vorfeed!?" Phythan suddenly exclaimed, unable to contain his outburst. In another flash of golden light that came without a warning, he changed back into his elf-like form and bounced over to stand next to the other two in excitement. "Then you really are from the over-world and you even know the lord of light from your world! What about Miss Zelas and the others, are they okay?"

After a few more seconds of blushing silence, Millie snapped out of it and finally replied. "They're all alright," though that might not last very long. Millie didn't want to say how awkward the whole transformation process was from her point of view, so as to not offend the dragon. Besides, no woman would seriously complain about that show. "Anyway, about this portal; we just found it. We sensed the presence of a dark lost ship, that is a minion of Darkstar, near it and came to check it out. I don't think this will be a problem though, after inspecting it, we realized that the gateway is too small for a lost ship to squeeze through. Ah, how do I put it, a lost ship is like the lords of light and darkness of your world, sort of."

"Then that minion of Darkstar would be like a monster lord from the over-world." Milgazia concluded and Millie nodded in affirmation. "Even if this portal is still small, it would still be wise to keep it under watch until it is properly closed. Do you know why it's here?"

"The boundaries between our two worlds are weak because of a lack of balance in power," Millie explained. "Or at least that's what Canal concluded. The monster lords from this world are currently in the form of lost ships in our world. If balance is not restored and every mayor power is returned to where it belongs, the two worlds may collide and that will likely lead to the near complete, if not total, destruction of both worlds. Of course Darkstar doesn't care, all the opposite, that's exactly what he wants if it'll make his plans of total annihilation faster."

"Then if the monster lords are returned here that might make the balance situation a little better, but there's a catch isn't it?" Milgazia correctly theorized.

"Yes," Millie let out a breath. "The ones called Dolphin and Dynast are currently Darkstar's prisoners. As for Zelas, she can't come back, we need her help to defeat Darkstar. If we ask her to return here for the sake of the balance of power, it would be useless if Darkstar isn't stopped. We're running out of time and we're not quite ready. Furthermore, the communication we received from Amelia recently isn't too encouraging."

"That's certainly worrisome given how cheerful Amelia usually is," Milgazia worried. "What did she say?"

"Zelas went off on her own to try to unlock her hidden power. All of the monster lords were struggling trying to get use to their new forms as sentient machines rather than..." Millie paused to recall the term, "astral beings. Zelas hasn't been able to unleash her full potential. Even so when Lina and the others arrived, she separated from us and now she has also separated herself from them. Amelia said she was too proud to accept help and wanted to figure out how to use her power on her own. But if one of Darkstar's allies find her, and they are already looking for her, she won't e able to fight unless she miraculously suddenly learns how to use her hidden power."

"I see..." Milgazia was deep in thought about this new development. Zelas' cooperation was needed for this battle to be a success, she was vital towards victory. Yet it couldn't be easy for the powerful monster lord to be the underdog for once. When the situation was placed into perspective, she had indeed endured a lot that she wasn't truly prepared for. "Do you think you can locate Zelas?"

"Because of the protective program Canal gave her, she should be able to, even if Zelas manages to hide from all other communications to avoid the enemy," Millie replied. "Of course, avoiding all communications also means relying on her own self repair systems to heal slowly rather than being repaired at a port. It also means going without ammunition, but getting caught would be worse, so Zelas probably knows to keep a low profile."

"Do you have any clues about what her hidden power actually is?" A plan was being hastily formulated in Milgazia's mind.

"Canal has found a few clues, but nothing has been established. The possibilities might not even be true. It's hard to theorize about beings from a different world after all. She is like the sentient vessels known as lost ships in our world, but at the same time, because that's not her original form, she has differences. It's hard to say what her hidden power might really be, but if Darkstar wants to capture her and take her power, rather than simply destroy her, then it must be something worth the trouble," Millie explain.

After some more thought, Milgazia finally reached a decision. "Alright, then it's settled. If Zelas is so strongly needed to save the world, even if her only motivation is revenge, then I'll go deal with that stubborn monster lord."

Phythan let out a little gasp of surprise. "Really? You're leaving? Can I come?" Before Milgazia could reply, a worrisome possibility came to mind for Phythan. "Do you think Onyx went through the portal?"

"I hope not," Milgazia sincerely answered. "Phythan, I want you to keep an eye on this portal and also, alert the others just in case more of these strange gateways appear. Take care of my clan; I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Alright, you can count on me!" Phythan cheered. "I'll do my assigned task very well, in the name of justice!" A bark was heard as a yellow husky dog approached. "Oh... no Justice, I wasn't calling you, I was just trying to say something heroic. But since you're here, you can help me with guard duty!"

Before further distractions came along, Milgazia spoke. "Miss Millie, please lead the way to your allies."

"Right... I guess I'll have to put on this silly space suit again," Millie began to do so. "I still say it's too much. Sure we'll come out in outer space on the other side, but Canal will beam us up right away, so it's not like we'll run out of air.... Ah forget it." Instead of putting on the suit, Millie detached the rope from it and stretched it so that there was enough to tie herself and Milgazia to it. "Okay, this end is yours, tie it around your waist and make sure to hold on to it just in case. There's no actual oxygen in the area between worlds, but the energy there is the energy of life itself," chaotic energy, "so that's not really a problem." Picking up the helmet after Milgazia had prepared, Millie spoke into the communicator within it, without actually putting it on. "The best traveler of worlds in the universe is ready to return with a visitor!"

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 059: Technology! Overcoming Limitations

'Now, where to start my training...' Zelas mused as she traveled across the vastness of outer space. Her radars detected a small planet near by, but it seemed to be devoid of life forms save for flora. It looked like a good place to start out, though unfortunately, other than target practice on rocks and trees, she couldn't think of much else to do. Her aim was already high precision anyway, and machines couldn't be trained like humans, they needed to be upgraded. Perhaps some meditation would be beneficial if her true power was indeed hidden in the depths of her own mind.

Zelas landed in the forest covered planet, finding the flora to be rather similar to that of her world, but in much larger proportions with varying colors. "This is a disturbingly cheerful place." She mused aloud with distaste once the Great Beast had landed and Zelas projected herself on the surface of the planet. Leaving the lost ship to repair itself with its automated systems, the holographic AI went out to explore the lonely little planet. She found a comfortable spot next to a waterfall and sat down to think and try to unlock her hidden power inside herself, whatever it might be.

Time passed and Zelas' radars picked up the signal of another ship passing by. It was a lost ship, but not an enemy. Zelas assumed that the Swordbreaker was just coincidentally passing by, as Canal made no attempts to initiate a communication channel between the light and dark lost ships. However, just as Swordbreaker left, Zelas picked up the presence of a life form moving towards her. She didn't think it was anything to worry about so she simply allowed the person to reach her location. Surprise filled her thoughts when she saw who it was that had been dropped off by the Swordbreaker. "Milgazia? What in the over-world are you doing here?"

"I came to see how the mission is going," Milgazia replied with a confident air that annoyed Zelas. "I want to do my part in contributing to the defeat of Darkstar too."

"I thought your role was to protect our world," Zelas pointed out.

"It's in good hands," Milgazia assured. "Other than the terrible feeling of foreboding that constantly hangs in the air," and the mystery of the missing Onyx, "things are relatively calm."

"Then you should go back the way you came and enjoy that calm while it lasts." Zelas threatened, though she wasn't in the mood to put much of an effort into it. "Because when I return after I beat Darkstar, there's going to be a lot of chaos in my world." There was a certain possessiveness in the way she spoke of her native world that was not lost for Milgazia, though he chose not to comment on it.

"It's good to know you're so confident." Milgazia smiled in a way that made Zelas feel as if their usual roles had been reversed.

"Why is that?" She asked with thinly veiled curiosity.

"Because Nezard is on the way here as we speak. He was following the Swordbreaker, but since you're so strong, Canal decided to leave this battle to you." Milgazia informed with a smile that reminded Zelas of herself.

If she wasn't such a collected and controlled creature, Zelas' eye would have been twitching as she exclaimed her surprise. But she was indeed a very collected and controlled creature, so instead of screaming "what?!" She only made a pause and voiced a short "really?" That came out more softly than she intended.

"Really," Milgazia grinned with an unexplained confidence. He was glad that for once, he knew something that the monster lord turned lost ship didn't know. He finally had the upper hand on Zelas, if Canal's theories were correct that is.

"You seem to be in a cheery mood," Zelas observed with annoyance.

"That's because I get a front row seat to the whole epic battle," Milgazia replied. "You don't mind bringing me along, do you? I mean, I'm sure you'd want the dragon elder of the Kataart Mountains to witness your awesome power, right?"

Zelas was about to retort, but she paused and gave Milgazia a studious look, as if trying to see right through him. "You still conceal your emotions very well, dull Milgazia. But they are seeping into your tone. I know you had a sarcastic side hidden somewhere in there." Milgazia straightened his already perfect posture and put on a serious face, as if he had been scolded for doing something wrong. Rolling her eyes, Zelas informed. "That actually wasn't meant to be taken as criticism. It was a mere observation and a good one at that." Though certainly not a compliment, absolutely not, because that was something Zelas would never speak of a dragon, not consciously at least. While their conversation took place, as soon as Nezard came up, Zelas remotely lengthened the Great Beast's radar range to look for him. By that point, she had spotted him, indeed heading towards their location. "Well, it looks like my radar picked up Nezard, if you're tagging along you better go get on board." The hologram disappeared.

With the invitation pending, Milgazia hurried to the ship he saw in a clearing just before he reached Zelas' projection. The vessel was impressive to be sure, but it was still in need of a lot of repairs. He wondered how she would fare against Nezard wielding her true power if she was clearly no match without it. They would soon find out if that mysterious power did indeed make as much of a difference as Darkstar made it sound.

xoxox xox xoxox

With Milgazia in the control room along, with Zelas' solid holographic projection, the Great Beast took to the atmosphere and moved in the vastness of space where there would be room to maneuver without obstacles. The possibility of jumping to light speed and trying to escape in a similar way to how she managed to lose Nezard before was out of the question this time. Canal had set her up for this fight and the enigmatic Milgazia was right there watching. "Before I face Nezard, I have one question for you, why did Canal set this up?"

"I already told you," Milgazia repeated his previous information. "Since you are so strong, you should have no problem beating Nezard."

"Under different circumstances I would have been amused by your sarcasm." 'And maybe even celebrating that you're finally coming out of your shell in a way that I thought only Flagoon was capable of achieving,' she privately added. "But I'm not in the mood right now. Speak, why did Canal set this up and why are you included in this?" Zelas insisted.

"I am but a spectator..." Milgazia's vague answer only served to anger Zelas further. He didn't flinch at the sight of her glare and instead only added. "I'm here to witness the great courage of the beast, so show me, mighty hunter, show me your bravery."

"You've got a whole lot of courage yourself talking to me like that!" Zelas snarled, but she could argue no further as Nezard had arrived. Yet a thought occurred to her, courage, that was just what she needed. Maybe Lina had trouble separating her courage from her wrath and it would all ultimately converge to dark energy when channeled through the Great Beast, but Milgazia was good at hiding his emotions, that's part of what gave him an edge against monsters, along side the fact that, unlike most dragons, he had no qualms about wielding a monster's own power against it.

"I have finally found you; the white ship led me to you. It seems you must have had a fight if Canal decided to lead your doom to your hiding place!" Nezard's voice came through the communication link between the two dark lost ships.

"Who's hiding?" Zelas mocked, regaining her true confidence with a plan. "I hope you're ready to get blown up, because that's exactly what's going to happen!" She used her own dark energy to create a shield. Sensing the presence of a semi-biological creature, a cyborg, inside the Great Beast, Nezard shot the same beams of dark light he had used to try to disable Zelas' crew in their previous encounter. If Milgazia just came to the over-world, Zelas reasoned that he would be inexperienced in deflecting the attack, thus she shielded the vessel, preventing the dark light from reaching the control room and absorbing as much as she could for her own benefit. "Milgazia, you're the honorary captain, so I'll be taking your energy now. Put your stubborn courage to good use. Readying the main psy-cannon!"

"Courage... You have the right idea. I guess it's time I stopped holding back!" Milgazia focused on the feeling of courage and let it flow. It was calm and pure, much like the energy that, with vast difficulty, Kain had managed to achieve in his encounter with Darkstar in the start of what became the prophecy. Yet Milgazia was a dragon with a life span well beyond that of a human. Though humans had a certain intensity that made them very special, dragons had a calming constancy to them and Milgazia had enough experience to output courageous energy without the taint of wrath with relative ease.

While Zelas prepared the main psy-cannon, Nezard did not relent in his attack with missiles and lasers. Zelas did what she could to dodge while keeping her shield up to maximum. Yet it wasn't Nezard's hits that paralyzed her all of a sudden. The hit that rattled the vessel and made all the electronics connected to it flicker and die down came from within. There was an explosion in her main engine as Milgazia's energy that Zelas attempted to wield backfired and ended up harming the Great Beast. The main engine was aflame and the security system offline, with her outer force field being disabled as well.

"It looks like I've broken through your defenses!" Nezard took the credit, though it was not entirely his. "Look at you, you're helpless!"

"Zelas, what happened?" Milgazia demanded with urgency.

The alarm that he suddenly allowed to manifest itself, gave her a little jolt that made the control room light up again, albeit only dimly. Zelas' holographic projection lost its solid quality, becoming as a flickering ghost. "Idiot," she growled with difficulty. "You attacked me instead of him!"

"But I gave you my energy just as you said." Milgazia argued, though the calmness around him had somehow been restored despite their odds. It was a natural reaction for him, but it was not what Zelas needed, given her nature.

Nezard seemed to think that the Great Beast was disabled enough and he was only causing some superficial damage now, as he needed to deliver Zelas to Darkstar alive. Nezard was only ensuring that she wouldn't recover and launch a surprise attack while they were on their way and if he kept that up, he would accomplish his purpose.

"Zelas, you need to defend when you attack with a power that is the opposite of you." Milgazia seemed to be talking more directly now, as if he actually knew what he spoke of.

"If you have any information, say it now." Zelas' self repair system was being destroyed by Nezard and if that went out, so would her chances of escape.

"Awaken like Vorfeed and Canal did. Vorfeed couldn't handle it after Alicia's death; that was when she awakened. Thus she left Canal in her place and it was Canal who evolved." Milgazia explained, from what Canal had told him.

"What?" Zelas growled impatiently.

"Protect yourself from being overloaded, by using your own courage," Milgazia insisted.

"I'm a dark lost ship, I-"

"You are capable of producing your own psy-energy; that is the secret. The lost ships in this world were created as machines with a protocol to follow. Until they gained a life of their own, they were unable to truly produce their own steady supply of psy-energy. Darkstar and Canal had both awakened, but the former weapons of light that now serve Darkstar have not. The monster lords were living creatures from the start, they had their own thoughts. Even if they are adverse to positive emotions, they still have their own thoughts and wishes. They were not created to be automatic so they didn't have that to overcome." Milgazia explained as Nezard attached cables to the Great Beast and began to drag her away, towards Darkstar.

"Just as Canal is capable of wielding pure burning wrath as a weapon because she is both light and neutrality," Milgazia continued. "You can wield courage because you are both darkness and neutrality. Neutrality isn't emptiness, it is a standstill, a possibility waiting to happen and possibilities, unpredictable as they can be, are chaos, they are life, they are the opposite of the Stillness. Both light and darkness are chaos and possibilities are what existence is all about. Nature may lean to a side, but technology has neutrality, it's a possibility waiting to happen. It's the gift of the Mother of All Things so we can be like her. It's the chance to create, not in such an absolute sense as she does, but in a smaller scale. You've become technology, so you've been given the possibility to wield both your native darkness and the light."

Zelas took in the new information. It made sense and yet she couldn't figure out how to actually execute it. "If the light harms my systems, then how can I wield it, even temporarily? Without the White Materia..."

"You don't need any outside devices!" Milgazia insisted. "You already have all you need inside you. Coat your being in your own courage and let's try this one more time." He began to remove his cape and shirt so as to not rip the back when his jetpack came out. Surely if Galathia was there she'd have a comment or two to make, and if she dared include Zelas in such comments, she'd have a pack or two of muddy wolves to bathe added to her list of chores.

Deciding not to comment on his perplexing actions, Zelas went out to point out the obvious because it sounded as if her temporary cyborg captain had missed it, though in fact he didn't. "My self repair system is toast and my energy sensors are offline by now, in case you didn't notice Nezard's attack before. Even if I manage to wield my own courage to defend my vessel and prevent a repeat of before, I can't use yours as fuel for my psy-cannon because I can't absorb it."

"That's why I'm passing it on directly." From the base of his jetpack, compartments opened up and thick cords ending in plugs slid out. "Don't you think I would have taken the time to study my new form before coming here? I'm a cyborg, I'm technology and technology can connect with other technology."

"Wrong, dragon boy," Zelas argued. "I tried this with Filia before. She had outlets of the same type as some of mine, but that's just it, they were all outlets, so without an adapter cable, which I don't currently have, there was no way to..." She slowed down as Milgazia held up the end of the cables. "Connect..." The cables ended in plugs, thus no adapter cables would be needed to make the wiring compatible. "Alright, fine, do it!"

Milgazia connected his systems and synched them with the Great Beast, once more focusing on the energy of courage, to power the barely functional psy-cannon. Nezard would surely catch on to their moves, which meant that they only had one shot, or next time, Nezard would make sure beyond a doubt that the Great Beast was injured beyond repaired. Light sparks came from the control panel's surface and screen as Milgazia let out his energy much slower this time. "Zelas..."

"I'm on it," she growled impatiently. What was the theory without practice? Even if she believed she could do this, actually doing it was a whole different story. She focused on Milgazia's energy for a moment longer. She had to wield that, but it had to come from herself and she had to moderate and control it to channel it properly, just as Canal was able to do. She allowed his energy to seep into her systems slowly and gently so as to not overwhelm her damaged fragile vessel and reached in deep to find the energy within herself that could be compared to it. "I think I got it..." Then she brought it out and her self repair system somehow came online, quickly getting to work on making her functional again.

An overwhelming sensation overtook Zelas. Her technology had been awakened from the minute she became it, but she had not felt it before. It was intense and chaotic, much harder to tame than she imagined, but not impossible to wield. She felt the neutrality tip and the battle of darkness and light waged in her mind. She coated herself in her own bravery and allowed more of Milgazia's energy to roam her systems. His eyes were closed as he remained perfectly motionless in concentration. The stinging pain faded and she could allow his energy to sink deeper into her very core and gathered in the power cell of her repaired main psy-canon.

Nezard caught on to a sudden rush of energy. "What are you doing in there?" It was too late. The massive beam of courage empowered psy-energy was shot towards the minion of Darkstar point blank. Nezard could only defend as the cable he was using to pull the Great Beast along was snapped and he was thrown back. "Where did this power come from?" He had to use his secret weapon, to end the life of his trump card, the unwilling captain he stole from the other world, and with her pain, he would form a shield.

"More energy! Give me everything you have, I can take it now!" Zelas sounded a lot more like herself now, Milgazia noted. Confident, sure of herself, brave and cocky, but hers was the kind of smugness that she once again had the ability to back up.

"Alright, you asked for it, Beast Master, I'll show you what a golden dragon can do!" Never mind that they were in different forms at the time, this wasn't entirely about their forms, but also about the power hidden in their very souls. Nezard's dark shield flickered, but the fact remained that Zelas had just only learned to wield this power and even if her self repair system was functional, she had not had the time to recover. "This is too much!"

"Don't underestimate me, dragon boy, don't you dare stop!" Zelas growled. A wave of pain was starting to overtake her because of her damaged systems, but she refused to let it halt her attack.

"Nezard... I won't let you..." A voice echoed through the digital waves around them. "I won't let you use me against them!" Nezard's shield suddenly disappeared and he was blown to peaces by the force of the bravery blast.

The Great Beast had finally been victorious, but what was that voice? It sounded familiar and for a moment they sensed a presence there, one that they both knew. Zelas allowed her systems to cool off and focused on the repairs, though she also recognized the voice. It was Milgazia who spoke up about it, as he allowed himself to sink into the captain's chair, on his side, as the jet pack was still out, the cables still connected. "That voice sounded like Onyx..." He knew it, he felt it; something tragic had occurred.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 060: Regret! Duels and Mistakes

For a split second, the digital waves that had been previously invaded with the energy of battle projected a familiar image. Onyx looked towards the Great Beast and smiled because she had been freed from the torment of Nezard, then the last of her energy faded away completely, as her body had apparently already been destroyed along with Nezard. Milgazia watched the screen with sad surprise. "Onyx... If only I had known she was there." He punched the control panel in anger, fists and teeth clenched in frustration.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing picking a fist fight with a lost ship? If I turn off the life support in here, which wasn't easy to maintain this whole time I'll have you know, then you're going to feel it!" Zelas scolded. "I like the anger and frustration, but it would have been better if I had caused it myself, instead of it being a product of the passing of your minion's girlfriend." She huffed. "I'm having a bad day... Make that a bad month." She examined the control panel in horror. The Great Beast was beat up all over, but this was still unacceptable. "You stupid dragon, you put a dent on my control panel!" She grabbed him by the throat and started choking him harshly, albeit he didn't seem to be responding much. Her hologram flickered, as she was low on energy from the ordeal, and he slipped out of her grasp. "The least you can do is pay attention to me when I'm threatening your life!"

"I failed..." Milgazia spoke in a barely audible tone. "I was so focused on accomplishing my mission of making you awaken your power that I didn't think to make sure that Onyx had not truly been taken by someone from this world. I should have known; it should have been obvious to me. How could I have been such a fool?"

Zelas stomped her foot in frustration. As nutritious as his pain was, it was angering that she wasn't the cause. "I see, so I could never cause this no matter how I tried. The only one who can break you is yourself, your own disappointment in yourself. No one else can get you to this point and that's what's made you stay strong for all these years. You finally show me some good food and I can't even enjoy it. Hmp! You're a lousy prisoner, Milgazia. You're supposed to be miserable because of your captor, not because of your failure to live up to your own expectations."

"It's all my fault..." Milgazia continue to blame himself.

"What? Don't I get some credit? You could blame me!" Zelas insisted, wanting to take at least some of the credit for his misery, it was a matter of monster pride.

"I don't blame you, because you didn't know."

"Of course I knew, I knew and I refused to tell you!" Zelas gave him her most cruel expression.

Milgazia returned the glare with an empty look. "Lying doesn't suit you, Zelas."

She growled, realizing that there was really no way she could take the credit for this. "A broken battery such as what you have become is no good for me. I might still want to feed off you in the future though, so instead of disposing of you like I should, I'll just return you to our world. How did you get here anyway?"

"The barrier between the worlds is weak, there was a portal," Milgazia revealed.

"Where is the portal? Is it even still there?" Zelas asked and Milgazia nodded quietly. "For crying out loud, pull yourself together or I'll destroy your clan!"

That last threat seemed to make something snap into place in Milgazia and he was once again looking like his serious and diplomatic self. "I will not allow it." He stated with a calm that was almost eerie, not by itself, but rather because of how sudden the change was.

"So you are one of them. One of the dragons specifically trained to combat monsters. One with the ability to mask and perhaps even manipulate his own emotions. I thought that courage was a little too pure," Zelas observed. "Those dragons were pretty troublesome to eliminate back in the day. I didn't think there were any left. Wasn't the training banned because of the mental strain it eventually caused? There was that one dragon that went insane and kidnapped a princess, wasn't there? The fairy tales sure made a legendary icon out of that situation."

"I was the youngest in that troop, but I can't say my training worked. I was an empty strategist when the War of the Monster's Fall began, but my training unraveled after the Ancient Dragon incident. Even if I didn't participate, I didn't stop them either, so I felt a regret that I wasn't supposed to be capable of feeling. Either way, I'm glad they stopped training dragons for monster combat by suppressing emotions to prevent empowering them. How can one fight for righteousness without remembering the meaning of regret?"

"Stop right there, I really don't want to hear a justice speech right now, or ever actually. Go tell it to Amelia later, but not to me!" Zelas protested. A small moment of silence passed until she once again spoke. "If you're going to mope around about your first mistake in a thousand years, save the moping for when we play brass rackets after I'm back in my world celebrating my victory over Darkstar. I'll be looking forward to the banquet of misery then."

"I'm not going to mope. I still have to take care of my clan and I don't know what I'll say to Phythan, but he... He's always too forgiving." Somehow that worried Milgazia more so than encouraged him. "I need to go back and make sure no other portals that may open up are left unguarded. Although I'll stick around until you regroup with Lina and the others."

"Don't you dare imply that I'm not perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I've gotten the hang of my power now and I intend to use it. You do realize that if anything, all my experiences here will make me stronger as a monster, don't you?" Zelas inquired with an ominous and threatening tone.

"Yes, I'm aware of that and I intend to prepare for it," Milgazia replied.

"You and your three regrets better be ready!" Zelas warned.

"My three regrets?" Milgazia knew he didn't want to hear the answer to that question, but he had already asked it and he was pretty sure Zelas would be all too glad to answer it.

"The ancient dragon incident, allowing that human from Elmekia to marry Flagoon instead of doing it yourself and your careless mistake just now." Zelas smiled with mocking cheer.

"Not funny..." Milgazia frowned.

Zelas laughed as if it was. "After studying your energy and recent reactions, I think I'll be a much better tormentor to you, or maybe it's more accurate to say I'll be much worse. However, there is something for which I must have your word of honor as a dragon elder, no not just that, as a living creature."

"My word?" Milgazia inquired in perplexity. He knew that meant she wanted him to promise something, but what could Beast Master possibly want from him so strongly? "I won't make any promises until I know what it is." He decided with caution.

"Fair enough, but I have a very strong feeling that you'll agree. About this whole... event." Zelas made sure her holographic projection was indeed solid before she began to unplug the cables from her systems, allowing them to recoil back into the panel on Milgazia's jet pack. "You must never, ever, under any circumstances breathe a word of it to Galathia." She unplugged the last cable and allowed Milgazia to retract it into his jetpack. "Her commentary would be... crude at best."

Zelas shuddered, she could almost hear Galathia's voice in her head saying something along the lines of 'so he had his plug on your outlet, oh Lord Beast Master you naughty girl, tell me all about it!' If Galathia didn't have her amusing moments, such as when she creeped out Phythan, or Milgazia, but not herself, then Zelas would have killed her ages ago. But she was a rare minion, given her origins in the over-world, a collector's item of a minion in a sense.

"Then I'll have to kill her for her insolence and I'll be short one amusing minion and Phythan will never get caught in a hilarious game of unrequited rebound." Zelas continued her warning in full seriousness. "Then you'll get nightmares since sleep is destined to defeat your weak existence eventually. I'll have to give up on sleep entirely, because who ever heard of a monster lord having a nightmare, we're the protagonists of nightmares, and a self induced nap now and than is enjoyable when I'm in the mood for just a bit of sloth. And really, if I'm going to haunt you, I'd prefer my role to be something fierce, not what Galathia's completely insane and very improper, even by monster standards, imagination would cast me as."

Milgazia shuddered at the possibility of having to listen to one of Galathia's very improper and far too detailed rants from her very disturbing imagination. "I won't say anything to anyone; you have my word, a solemn promise never to be broken!"

"That's good to hear," Zelas decided it was time to end the topic there. "Now then, we are kind of in the middle of nowhere right now and I left Lina and the others a good distance away. However, there are some products I acquired during one of our stops to re-supply. These are some very peculiar products you might be interesting in seeing..."

xoxox xox xoxox

A few days after the battle with Nezard... "Don't be so lazy, Milgazia, it's time to duel!"

"As honored as I am that you have been allowing me to partake in the ever interesting challenge of measuring the power of my light-water dragon deck against your dark beast-fiend deck and enjoying the thrill of strategizing against your ever cunning mind-"

"Don't butter me up, out with it!" Zelas interrupted.

Taking a deep breath, Milgazia finished what he was trying to say. "I'm tired and all I really want to do is sleep... And shower, preferably with water that's not freezing cold." Sure, wiping the oil off his sore body was nice, but warm water would make it nicer. Actually, not being forced to play mechanic would be even better. He could manage with Zelas guiding him, but that didn't make the task any easier. He kept telling himself that it was for the good of the worlds that he had to do all he could to repair the dark lost ship.

"The water heater is broken," Zelas calmly stated.

Milgazia didn't argue about the lack of hot water and instead brought up another more important topic. "We did fix the coolant leak, didn't we? We spent a lot of time on that today, so I should be able to shower without suddenly being assaulted by blue coolant fluid, right?"

"Maybe..." Zelas gave him no certainty. "Go get cleaned up so you don't ruin your cards, we're dueling. But before that, grab the vacuum from the utility closet and clean up your machine oil tracks from the floor. I'll see you and your three regrets at the genuine Kaiba Corp. dueling arena I installed."

"Four..." Milgazia voiced quietly.

"Four?" Zelas questioned, "four what?"

"Regrets," Milgazia finished.

"The ancient dragons, Flagoon, Onyx..." Zelas recounted. "Did I miss something?"

"The dent that you're going to be getting revenge on for the rest of my existence," Milgazia supplied.

"You are quite right; I am indeed getting back at you for putting a dent on my otherwise flawless control panel for the rest of your existence. I'm glad to know you're so regretful. I didn't think that one ranked high enough despite its consequences. Now get your game on, we're dueling in five minutes!"

"Five..." Milgazia started walking to the shower, which he had no doubts would hold only icy cold water. "Five regrets, I should have never suggested watching those Kaiba Corp. documentaries about the lives of the king of games and the Duel Academy's top student..."

"Hurry up Milgazia!" Zelas called out. "I want to beat you quick so I can go watch Atlas Rising, the download just finished!"

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos had established communications with Rufus Shinra, the one in charge of Shinra Inc. and the city of Edge. They inquired about the White Materia and where given several trouble contractor jobs that would eventually lead to receiving the legendary White Materia as payment for their services. Working alongside the Department of Administrative Research, alias Turks, they managed to complete one daring mission after another. Eventually, they were sent on a mission on their own, when Rufus, the president of Shinra, the corporation that dominated not only the city capital, Edge, but also the whole planet, decided that they had proven themselves well enough.

That final job they were to undertake before receiving their payment lead them to a factory on a small near by abandoned planet. The factory was used to create the energy charged jem-like substance known as materia by sinking into a glowing green radioactive lake known as life stream. However, the controls were compromised and the factory's rise was only for a short time, not enough to effectively gather all the materia inside. Those materia were not the legendary White Materia that they were looking for, but Rufus promised to hand it over if the mysterious group accomplished one last trouble contractor job for him.

They were to go into the factory before it submerged and install a program on the main computer system to correct the problem that made it submerge so quickly as well as regain control of the security system. That was the catch, the security system would be hindering their advance and they would have only a small window of time to reach the main computer system, or else the factory would submerge and all those trapped in it will either die or lose their minds and then slowly die. Lina's response to that had been, "Other than the White Materia, add some good money and a grand meal waiting for us upon our return and you have a deal!" Thus the group ended up with a dangerous job that would hopefully be worth it.

However, before they could all head on out to the factory, a familiar lost ship docked at the Shinra Space Port and Xellos knew right away that, "Lord Beast Master is back!" Which he happily informed the group like a puppy who was all too overjoyed upon the return of his master. Curious about how things went for Zelas, the Slayers hurried to the space port, following the eager Xellos, who happily let himself into the systems of the Great Beast again. "I sense Beast Master's projection is this way." The holographic Xellos led the way to the dueling arena where Milgazia and Zelas were having a virtual card battle. Xellos was not happy to see the dragon elder. "Why is he here? Lord Beast Master!"

"Give me a moment, Xellos, and everyone. I'm about to win this duel," Zelas confidently stated. "I play the ritual spell card Resurrection of Chakra!"

"Not so fast, you've activated my trap, Solemn Judgment! Now by paying half my life points I can negate the activation of your Resurrection of Chakra." Milgazia announced as he flipped over a card on his side of the field.

"I guess that's not much, since you only have five hundred life points left. You're down to two hundred and fifty life points now!" Zelas threatened.

"That may be true, but your side of the field is empty," Milgazia argued back.

"And what do you have? A Baby Dragon? Big deal, besides, my side of the field won't be empty for long. I summon Witty Phantom in attack mode! Go Witty Phantom, attack Baby Dragon!" The hologram of Witty Phantom destroyed the Baby Dragon on Milgazia's side of the field and lowered his life points. "You only have fifty life points left, this duel is mine!"

"It's not over yet, I draw!" Milgazia drew a card from his deck and played it. "I summon Blizzard Dragon to the field. Go Blizzard Dragon, attack Witty Phantom!" With Blizzard Dragon's attack power being one thousand and eighteen hundred points, while Witty Phantom had one thousand and four hundred attack points, the dragon destroyed the fiend and the difference of four hundred was dealt as damage to Zelas' life points. "I place one card face down and end my turn. You only have five hundred life points remaining now!"

"That's ten times more life points than you, dragon boy. I draw!" Zelas drew another card from her deck and grinned. "I summon Bicorn Re'em in defense mode. I'll place one card face down and that's all for now. How lucky of you to have survived one more turn."

"It's not luck, it's skill!" The argument and situation wasn't exactly as diplomatic as things usually were with Milgazia, but those Kaiba Corp. shows were so catchy with the way duelists talked as they played. 'I'm protected by my Negate Attack trap card, but I only have fifty life points left, while Zelas has five hundred. Attacking Bicorn Re'em won't do any damage since it's in defense mode and I'll most likely trigger her trap. Yet if I don't attack, she'll probably sacrifice Bicorn Re'em to summon something stronger on her next turn and I don't have anything on my side of the field. Wait a minute... That's it! If my theory about her trap is right...' "I place one card face down in defense mode and activate Blizzard Dragon's special ability. Now your Bicorn Re'em is frozen in defense mode and won't be able to attack on the next turn. Go Blizzard Dragon, attack Bicorn Re'em!"

"I activate my trap card!" Zelas flipped over a card on her side of the field. "Mirror Force! All the monsters you have in attack mode are destroyed by this card, so it's goodbye for Blizzard Dragon! That was pretty foolish move on your part, surely you must have suspected my trap."

"I did suspect it, in fact, I knew. That's why I place my other monster face down. I just had to get rid of your trap somehow," Milgazia admitted. "I end my turn, it's your move."

"Getting rid of my trap by triggering it won't do you any good. Mirror force accomplished its purpose," Zelas assured as she drew her next card, then proceeded with her plans. "Now I sacrifice Bicorn Re'em to summon Blackwing Elphin the Raven in attack mode, attack the cowardly minion that's hiding face down!"

"I activate my trap card, Negate Attack! The battle phase is over for your turn."

"You're just barely holding on desperately," Zelas mocked. "Since I can't proceed with my attack, I end my turn."

Milgazia drew a card. "I sacrifice my face down card to summon-"

The lights flickered and Zelas dropped her cards as her holographic projection lost its solid quality. The light came back on dimly, with Zelas and Xellos being left with a ghost-like appearance. Zelas tried to pick up her cards but realize she couldn't, thus the duel could not be finished.

"You're working on auxiliary power, aren't you?" Milgazia realized. "I knew that main power cell wasn't completely fixed."

"Lost ships are rare and parts are hard to find, the fried engine cause a lot of trouble. Anyway, until I can find the right parts, probably have them custom made, I'll have to make do with the patch work. It's not a big deal, a strong lost ship such as myself will be just fine," Zelas disregarded it.

"Clearly, you're still not used to having a physical form. You need to take better care of your vessel," Milgazia scolded.

"Who are you," Zelas huffed, "my mechanic?"

"I have been for the past few days," Milgazia pointed out.

"Alright that's it!" Xellos interrupted in a protective rage. "We're here now, so we will repair the Great Beast. You can keep your dirty dragon claws off Lord Beast Master's circuitry!"

To be Continued

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