Slayers: Chaos

Chapter 7

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 061: Malice! Underhanded Tactics

With the Great Beast in need of abundant repairs and Xellos feeling even more impatient than Zelas herself, only Lina and Gourry went on the final trouble contractor mission for Shinra. Zelas had decided that she didn't need nor want the White Materia anymore, but she didn't want to reveal that detail to Lina until after her return. The dealings with Shinra would still be beneficial, as Zelas needed custom parts that Shinra could manufacture.

"Xellos... About her..." Filia was looking for the tool kit when she overheard a conversation between Zelas and Xellos. "I can't overlook this any longer, you'll have to do something, or I will get rid of her myself."

There was a long tense pause, during which Filia held her breath, until Xellos replied. "What if you had one of your own?"

"Not interested." The reply hung in the air for a few more moments until Zelas finished with a ray of hope in the shape of a nonchalant addition. "But if the one I get is better than yours..."

The conversation ended at that and the two holograms went their separate ways to continue working on the lost ship's repairs. After Zelas was gone, Filia rounded the hallway corner and looked at Xellos for a long moment. He tilted his head curiously and returned her gaze. "I heard," Filia dramatically revealed.

"You did?" Xellos didn't know what the big deal was. He didn't even realize Filia would be so concerned. Little did he know that she had completely misinterpreted the situation and was looking to get rid of her unless Xellos found her a dragon of her own.

The interpretation was crazy at best, but Filia was so worried she wasn't thinking. "Yes and I..." She didn't want to be kicked out, very much less killed, but she didn't want to trick Milgazia into anything either. Yet she couldn't think of any other dragons to 'sacrifice' to Zelas. "I don't know what to do," Filia admitted.

"Do what Beast Master tells you to do to repair the Great Beast," Xellos informed as a matter of fact. He studied Filia's face for a moment longer, taking note of her deep concern. "You're really that worried?"

"Of course I am!" Filia exclaimed.

"I'll think of something, just help out around here and do what Beast Master says," Xellos concluded. Filia nodded slowly and went on her way. Xellos watched her, wondering why she was so concerned about something so simple. He would have an interesting conversation with Filia about this later. Maybe he should do something for her too.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile Lina and Gourry waited for the factory on the small planet not too far from the main planet where Shinra was, to surface and grant them the opportunity to infiltrate it. When the metal structure surfaced upon the radioactive lake, the pair rushed in recklessly as they were known to. "Don't forget, Gourry, we only have a few minutes to beat this obstacle course and earn our banquet!"

"Right!" Gourry readied his psy-sword while Lina started shooting with her psy-gun. They charged deeper into the factory which had many bridges and doorways, the place was like a large maze. Battle androids charged the pair, their metal armor somewhat corroded from the exposure to the radioactivity.

"Out of the way you rusty buckets of bolts!" Lina shot several of the androids, with Gourry chopping up the rest to pieces. The main problem wasn't the security system, it was getting through the maze factory fast enough to make it to the main control room and prevent it from submerging and trapping them inside. "Gourry, make way, I'll hold them off!"

"Got it!" Gourry focused on cutting through a wall at the end of a long hallway, while Lina blasted the androids that were after them. Yet more and more came from hidden compartments on the walls as if there was no end to them. "I'm through!" Gourry kicked the patch of wall down after having cut through it in a circle. Yet when it fell on the other side, he realized that it was too soon to celebrate their escape, as the bridge was out.

"Forward!" Lina recklessly rushed on, only to notice a second too late that the extendable thin metal bridge was not there. She hastily halted at the edge of the cut off platform and waved her arms around trying to regain her balance, until Gourry pulled her back by the waist. "That was close..." Lina looked down at the area below the missing bridge. A good amount of green radioactive fluid had accumulated below, the mechanism having failed to drain it from the factory. They were close to it, but as long as they didn't actually touch it, they would be alright.

"We'll have to jump!" Gourry's idea seemed ridiculous to Lina. She couldn't use levitation, so how could they jump? Gourry dashed back, slicing away at more of the androids to make a path for himself. Then he dashed forward towards the missing bridge with all his speed. He picked up Lina at the edge of the platform, who yelped, as she thought the distance was too far to jump. Yet Gourry just barely made it across the dangerous distance to the other side.

"We... we actually made it!" Lina realized in surprise, willing her rapidly pounding heart to slow into a normal rhythm. "I didn't even know you could jump that far if you got a running start!"

"You always carry me with levitation, so that's not something I needed to do very often," Gourry admitted.

"It's good to know though, now let's go; we don't have a second to waste!" With Lina once again in the lead, the pair continued their rapid advance into the center of the factory.

As they got ever closer to the central control room, the entire structure started to sink into the green radioactive lake. They hurried as much as they could, even if both Lina and Gourry were feeling the tiring effects of using their vital energy to fuel their psy-weapons so much without rest, all while running as fast as they could and leaping over various obstacles, dodging lasers and generally staying in survival mode. It was all very draining. A sound similar to water was heard as the green radioactive substance invaded the hallways with the descent of the factory into the life stream lake. The main control panel was in sight and all they had to do was plug in the USB-like data device Lina had obtained from Rufus to override the program and stop the factory from sinking.

Unfortunately, the main computer was located on top of a platform and there was no time to make it up the stairs as the glass elevator was not operational. "Gourry, hold on to me!" Without questioning her logic, Gourry held on to Lina, who shot off a beam of psy-energy from her gun, using it to propel herself and Gourry up to the top of the platform. There she jammed the USB into the proper outlet and waited for an excruciatingly long second until the machine beeped in response and accepted the commands.

The computer screen lit up with information that neither of them could really understand, but what they could perceive was the movement of the factory heading back to the surface of the lake, where it should stay until the command was manually imputed for it to go back down after the proper renovations were completed. As Lina felt faint, Gourry held her on her feet. "You still need to rest, your hair turned back to red just a few days ago."

Lina allowed herself to rest in Gourry's arms for a moment. The mission had been accomplished and now Zelas would obtain the White Materia and hopefully the advantage against the remaining enemy lost ships. "It's okay... I'll be fine." She closed her eyes, leaning against Gourry, she felt safe with him around regardless of their location.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, back at the Shinra space port where the Great Beast was undergoing repairs. Zelas' hologram returned to her vessel after having gone off to inform Rufus of her choice. She did not want the White Materia, which she had a feeling he didn't really want to give up. Complications on the negotiations didn't emerge as Zelas set the new terms and Rufus agreed to make the custom parts she needed for her ship. Thus the repairs were well on their way and it wouldn't be long before the Great Beast was fully operational.

Filia however, was still worried about Zelas kicking her out and perhaps stranding her in the over-world when they all went back. She could ask for Canal's assistance in going back to her own world, but being left behind wasn't her only concern. What if Zelas simply decided to destroy her? Lost ship or not, she was still a monster lord and she might grow tired of having a dragon so close to her only general priest. Yet the insane plan of getting Zelas a dragon of her own, whom Filia imagine she'd treat worse than a pet, as a lowly slave, was something that she couldn't bare to do. What was she suppose to do anyway? Walk right up to Milgazia and ask him to be Zelas' slave? No, she could never do that. She needed to talk to Xellos. He was always calm, but this time there was a certain air to him that made her feel that everything would really be okay. Yet Xellos had disappeared and was yet to return. "Xellos, where are you?" Filia shouted in frustration as she cleaned the machine oil off the floor. Couldn't those Shinra mechanics make less of a mess for her to clean? At least the one called Shera was neat, but the loud one called Cid left his oily foot prints all over the place as he fussed about the oh so amazing engineering of the lost ship.

"I'm here," Xellos entered the area, startling Filia. He didn't just appear in his projection, as he needed to obey the laws of physics for the time being while he was carrying a solid item. Filia turned around to glare at Xellos, then stared at the item he was holding. It was a shopping bag of sorts. Whatever was in there, Filia couldn't think about how it would help the situation.

Before the stressed cyborg could speak, Zelas' hologram projected herself next to them, curious about Xellos' arrival, as she had sensed him return. "What do you have there, Xellos?" She eyed the colorful shopping bag labeled with the name of Shinra Toys.

"It's a present for you, Lord Beast Master. Now that you have one of your own, maybe you'll consider letting me keep mine, if it's not too much trouble." Xellos requested respectfully, but with his usual smile still present.

"I'm starting to think that show is some overlord's evil plan to take over the over-world. It sure does have some peculiar brain washing qualities for something that pretends to be so innocent." Zelas mused. None the less, she wanted to know what particular character Xellos chose to bring her.

In another planet far away, a blond girl sneezed so softly behind her hastily positioned hand, that the sound could barely be identified as a sneeze. A blue haired boy blinked his red eyes at her, his antennae hair tilting with the curious movement of his head. The girl shook her head to indicate she had not really said anything and turned her attention back to the picture of ponies, unicorns and pegasus she was coloring. The boy moved his gaze back to the notebook on his lap and added a few more scribbles. He was the one who initiated the competition to try to take over a planet or two via brainwashing the citizens, yet it was becoming painfully obvious that she was loosing to her despite her cutesy methodology.

Back at the Great Beast, while Filia watched on quietly in confusion, Xellos pulled out a plush toy out of the bag. It was a near-blank dark violet colored alicorn, she was wearing dark armor and looked like the villain of some cutesy show. Filia thought she recognized her. "Nightmare Moon?"

"Surely you jest," Xellos gasped, visibly offended.

"Oh wait... That's not her. Princess Luna had a navy mane and tail and a moon symbol. This one has silvery hair and matching eyes. Her symbol is... a wolf?" Filia wondered who that alicorn character was. The plush doll was made in the style as the ones on that show Amelia got everyone to watch, but Filia didn't recognize the character.

"That's right, this one is custom made, because no other is good enough for Beast Master!" Xellos handed Zelas the plush in hopes that this would be enough for him to be allowed to keep his Twilight Sparkle plush.

"Well, I suppose since I have one of my own and I have come to realize that that show has to be much more evil than I gave it credit for, I'll let you keep your Twilight Sparkle and I'll keep my much cooler custom made Fiery Beast, aka Zeze," thus the original character was named. As she was now carrying a physical item, rather than disappearing, Zelas exited via the door. She stopped at the doorway to the next area of the lost ship and looked back for a moment. "I don't know what's gotten into you, Filia, but it's a good thing that you're working so desperately, I'm glad you've learned your place." Then she left.

Filia felt herself twitch. That's what this was all about? Zelas wasn't threatening to get rid of her; she had been threatening to get rid of Xellos' Twilight Sparkle plush. All that work and she was never actually in any danger, all that plotting and guilt tripping herself for even considering plotting trickery on Milgazia and it was all for nothing. The 'one of her own' that would be needed to appease Zelas wasn't a dragon, it was only a toy. Filia was just about ready to blow up and scream Xellos' head off. Yet when she face him, she found herself looking into the sweet face of Fluttershy.

"Since you're being so helpful and wanted to protect my Twilight Sparkle, I got you one too. It's not a fancy custom made plush doll like the one I got for Beast Master, cause you know, you're just a useless lowly dragon. But here, this regular one should be good enough for you. You're both yellow wimps, so I thought you might like her." With his usual teasing insults and his cheerful expression in place, Xellos gave Filia the Fluttershy plush doll. Despite all he said, Filia had long since learned that it was just Xellos special way to be sweet. The dragon turned cyborg hugged the soft plush and smiled happily, her anger forgotten.

xoxox xox xoxox

With the repairs to the Great Beast complete, after enjoying a big banquet on Rufus' account, Zelas, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos, Filia and Milgazia headed out into space, off to face their next challenge. Though Lina was disappointed at first that Zelas had refused the legendary White Materia she was so intent on obtaining before, their trouble contractor labor didn't go to waste, as Zelas obtained the vital custom made spare parts she needed for her vessel and Lina got her food, so it was all good.

Their next challenge found them sooner than expected as they had only been traveling in space for a few hours when the radars picked up two lost ship signals and neither of them was the Swordbreaker. "Incoming!" Zelas announced, "Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis are rapidly approaching, to your battle stations everyone!"

"Can we really take them on at the same time?" Lina seriously asked. "I've recovered after that meal and nap, but..."

"I'm stronger now," Zelas assured. "I will win." The crew knew that given their current situation as the two minions of Darkstar surrounded them, they had no choice but to believe her. "The main psy-cannon is ready! Xellos, load the energy filter program."

"Loading! Twenty-two percent, thirty-five percent, fifty-seven percent, eighty-three percent, done!" Xellos cheerfully announced. Then he took a moment to think about what the program was like. "Lord Beast Master?"

"It will be enough, commence energy absorption, from the whole crew..." As a monster, Zelas could feed from multiple sources by herself, so she had been trying to surpass the limits on her lost ship form. "Don't be lazy, Milgazia, you too."

"But if we all send our energy at the same time, wouldn't it cause an overload?" Milgazia pointed out.

"Lina's got wrath to go around, I'll keep that and filter out the courage, I'll defend and fight all at once. Xellos, speed up the CPU!" Zelas ordered.

"Yes, Lord Beast Master!" Xellos chirped with admiration, eager to see Zelas in action.

The enemy ships shot a multitude of missiles and beams of dark light, which Zelas easily shielded from. Her main psy-cannon fired twice, dividing the accumulated power equally between the two shots. Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis were hit dead on, their shields unable to prevent the attack. "Right on target, one more hit for each and they're going down!"

"That training really paid off," Amelia commented in surprise. She was sure she was giving off the energy of courageous justice, but Zelas didn't seem to be bothered by it. Those beams of light psy-energy she shot were certainly impressive. The princess' eyes shone brightly in awe. "It seems you've conquered the obstacles that lay in your way and now we are all truly ready to face the challenges that lay ahead!"

Of course, it couldn't be that simple. As Zelas prepared her main psy-cannon for a second succession of shots, dark shields once against surrounded the enemy ships, different from the system generated ones they had before. Ghostly voices floated about from the digital waves, making pained threats at the fiends that have stolen them from their world. "Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis have captured captains!" Milgazia realized. He wasn't going to allow another to perish that way, never again. "Zelas, you can't destroy them, only disable them so we can save the people trapped inside!"

"You're not in charge here, dragon boy!" Zelas ignored him and continued charging the blast, despite the additional protests of Amelia and Filia, who were soon joined by Zelgadis, while Gourry was too confused to comment on the situation.

Lina was quiet and pale. At first Gourry thought she was suffering from exhaustion still and gently placed his hand on her shoulder, giving her a concerned look. "Are you feeling tired, Lina?"

Her hair was as much of a brilliant red as ever, which only made the sudden drain of color on her face all the more apparent. She slowly shook her head, her body trembling with each ghostly echo of the trapped humans forced to captain the enemy ships. They captained them as true dark lost ships, trapped in endless nightmares, in a coma they could not awaken from on their own. Yet even then they fought, trying not to fear, not to feed their terrible captors. "Stop..." Lina's voice was a choked whisper at first, as she could hardly force her throat to produce any sounds at all. She swallowed dryly and took in a shallow breath, "stop..." She gasped and strained for her quiet voice to be heard against the painful constraint of her throat. "Stop it! Let them go!" A wave of fear and anger erupted from Lina.

The negative energy revitalized Zelas, but it also dissolved the positive energy she was grasping in order to shot her main psy-cannon again. "That felt good!" The monster lord turned AI couldn't help it but to admit it. "But this type of energy won't work against the enemy. Such great sorrow, such anger, such fear..." This wasn't normal for Lina Inverse even in a hostage situation. "I didn't realize you had it in you, Lina. I've already hit them with courage once, they are exposed, they won't be able to absorb this much darkness and the prospect of beating the enemy with my own element rather than a borrowed one is quite pleasant."

"Just enough to disable them, just enough..." Lina chanted feverishly.

"You know them, don't you?" Xellos realized. "You know the people that Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis have captured."

Lina nodded, her whole body shaking with concern. Her voice came in a whisper as she revealed who she had recognized them to be. "My parents..."

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 062: Wild! The Berserk Beast

"Just enough... just enough..." Lina chanted feverishly as she thought about rescuing her parents from Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis.

"Just enough?" Zelas huffed. "With how afraid you are of losing them, this blast will be nutritious to the enemy, overloading them with power isn't the same as causing damage with the type of energy they're weak to. You need not hold back."

"Right, but it won't be with fear, let my wrath free them!" Lina yelled.

"It's over!" Zelas declared threateningly.

"Wait, stop! What if the hostages are used as shields? All this negative energy could shatter their very spirits, their souls!" Milgazia cautioned with urgency.

"No!" Lina yelped. She tried to withdraw her energy into herself, a very difficult task given her outgoing nature. She couldn't do it. "Stop, Zelas! Stop! You've used me as your pawn and I stood for it, but if you do this it makes us enemies! Stop!"

Something snapped in Zelas and the Great Beast was surrounded by dark energy. "You dare to order me around, you lowly human?" Several compartments opened from the walls of the control room with a multitude of long thin, but strong, metal claws. The mechanisms reached for the crew of the Greater Beast, detaining all of them save for Xellos. "Maybe it will be best if I feed from you directly after all, I am a dark lost ship, this is how it's supposed to be!" Circlets connected to wires wrapped themselves around the foreheads of Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Milgazia while they struggled against their bounds.

"Lord Beast Master?" Xellos intoned with confusion. This wasn't a part of the original plan. To push the pawns this hard might be too much and it was his understanding that Zelas wanted to use Lina and the others to benefit from them, not to break them, not to kill them.

"Quiet Xellos, do not dare to question me!" Zelas growled harshly, her eyes glowing red.

"Yes, Lord Beast Master..." Xellos backed down, at a loss of what to do.

"You traitorous monster, you won't get away with this!" Lina yelled as she trashed about.

"The power of justice will find you!" Amelia helplessly threatened.

"Xellos!" Filia called out, "Xellos, do something, at least say something!"

"Something..." Xellos voiced automatically, though it lacked the cheer that such a cliche joke would normally carry coming from him.

"Quiet, Xellos, I will not warn you again!" Zelas snapped.

The purple haired hologram was confused beyond belief. Beast Master was very different all of a sudden. Earlier she seemed comfortable enough showing her playful carefree side and now this. What was going on. "My apologies, Lord Beast Master; I await your orders."

"Increase the energy consumption rate, we must act fast, the enemies are rapidly repairing themselves as we speak!" Zelas ordered.

"Yes, Lord Beast Master," Xellos did so, but not to an extent that would cause serious damage to their crew turned prisoners.

"I won't stand for this!" Milgazia dared to shoot a laser aimed at the controls, though the claws that detained him pulled him back and made the angle miss the target. Though Zelas attempted to block it in a useless automatic reaction of her clouded mind, her holographic projection flickered and the laser went clear through her body. The shot meant for the controls instead hit the screen, shattering it. The Great Beast's defenses were on her outer armor, thus the interior, especially the complex control room, could be damaged with relative ease.

"You'll pay for that, Milgazia!" Electricity surged through the claws that held him captive, paralyzing the cyborg. His jet pack came out involuntarily, ripping his clothes and producing sparks of short circuited electricity. The claws that emerged from the walls lashed on to the jet pack, sinking into it like knives and pulling at it until it came clean off. A mess of ripped wires, metal and blood was all that was left in its place. Another surge of electricity coursed painfully through Milgazia's body and he found himself unable to move even a little.

"Milgazia!" Filia screamed before she could stop herself. She could never quietly witness such cruelty. What if he couldn't be repaired? What if when he returned to their world he was left without wings? What if he couldn't even walk? What if he died there and then? "Why... Why did you do that to him? Even if he's a dragon elder, he swallowed his pride, endangered his position and helped you, didn't he?"

"I am not a tool to be used to save the world," Zelas growled ominously. "You, useless dragon girl, are also an unneeded burden!"

"Lord Beast Master?" Xellos whispered unsure.

"I warned you, Xellos!" Electricity course through the Great Beast as Xellos' consciousness was locked away within it systems and Zelas started a process of deletion.

"Lord Beast Master!" Xellos exclaimed in pained shock. He resisted the deletion with all his might, transferring his data from one area of the spacious system to another.

"I have no need for a servant who doesn't follow orders," Zelas coldly voiced. A sudden wave of missiles assaulted her vessel as Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis recovered from the earlier attack. Galveira's black and red ship moved closer with the black and purple form of Ragudo Mezegis moving to circle the Great Beast and attack her from the other side. Simultaneously, Xellos found himself cornered within the Great Beast's systems, then suddenly, a white lost ship emerged from a light speed jump.

The Swordbreaker arrived so close to the action, that the three dark lost ships were shaken by the energy waves of the jump's aftershock. "Zelas!" Canal's voice was heard through the communication link she hastily opened, her face not visible due to the broken screen. "What happened? I don't detect the-" her voice was suddenly cut off by a yelp. "What?!" Then the communication link was closed and the lost ship of light focused on trying to fight off Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis.

"Be gone, Swordbreaker, this is my fight!" Zelas growled, reopening the communication link between herself and Canal's vessel.

"You're going to get yourself destroyed!" Canal shouted. "What are you thinking? You were trying to delete Xellos; you wanted to destroy your closest and most loyal ally!"

"Xellos? Xellos?!" Zelas screamed. "I know no Xellos!" More electricity coursed through the Great Beast as she launched all her missiles at once. The Swordbreaker had no choice but to set its shield to maximum and defend.

The mysterious device they had previously found amongst asteroids and still resided in their cargo activated as if sensing the danger all around. It pulsated with a strong vibration that momentarily disabled the three dark lost ships, but not the Swordbreaker. "We'd best retreat while we can," Kain decided. "We can't reason with Zelas and deal with Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis at the same time!"

"Right!" Canal hooked a few strong cables to Zelas and calculated a light speed jump. "We're out of here!"

xoxox xox xoxox

After Canal emerged in a far away location, along with Zelas, the Great Beast started to react again. She attempted to shoot missiles, but had already used them all. The communication link between the Great Beast and the Swordbreaker was reopened. "Zelas, please listen to me!" Canal pleaded. She revealed the reason for which she rushed to the last location she had detected Zelas in and found her not too far away. "Why did you remove the protection program I gave you against Darkstar? Don't you see he's influencing you?"

"Darkstar has no power over me; you have no power over me!" Zelas growled threateningly. Her holographic projection flickered and where there once stood an elegant woman, there instead was what could only be described as a werewolf, a strange cross between a human and beast appearance, but with a much more threatening feel. Her red eyes radiated anger, long white fangs and claws showing.

"Lord Beast Master!" Xellos called out desperately. When Canal had opened a communication link with Zelas earlier, he used it to force his way into the Swordbreaker abruptly with the viral qualities of his programming, without even having a second to spare to explain to Canal why he needed the sanctuary of her systems all of a sudden, yet it became apparent soon, as Zelas almost deleted him.

"Xellos, what are you doing? Don't return to the Great Beast!" Canal warned, but it was too late.

Xellos had already transferred his vital data back to the Great Beast. "Lord Beast Master!"

"Traitorous servant, you deserve to be destroyed!" Zelas' voice echoed through the communication channels in resounding digital waves.

"Lord Beast Master... This isn't Darkstar; you're too strong to be controlled by him. I don't know what this is, but you don't need that program from Canal, this is... It's you, isn't it? It's just like the story you told me. You're the Beast Master, that's who you've become. You're no longer the Berserk Beast. Return, Beast Master, return to your true self!" Xellos felt his data, his very life in Zelas' grasp. If he was deleted, it would be the same as being ruined, the permanent death of a monster. "I won't run away. You can destroy me if that will restore you, that's what I was created for, right? To serve you... But also, I'm here because I chose to be."

A long second passed, and then two. Xellos felt Zelas' digital grip loosen around his data and the deletion command was aborted. The hologram returned to its normal projection with a flicker and dimmed as Zelas' ghostly form blinked slowly with unfocused silver eyes. "Xellos, take over the Great Beast, I must sleep." As Zelas' projection faded away, her AI was locked in a deep slumber and Xellos was left in full control of the Great Beast's every function.

Xellos released the crew from the painful claws that held them tightly and they crumpled to the floor limply, still painfully conscious, yet unable to move or even muster the strain to speak. There were several bruises, cuts and burns all over their bodies, but they were not too serious, except for Milgazia, who was much worse off. He lay in a pull of blood mixed with machine fluid. Xellos carefully moved the Great Beast closer to the Swordbreaker and opened a hatch. "Everyone, board, the crew here needs medical attention."

Canal woke from her fearful shock, "Right..." She stammered, taking in a breath. "Kain, Millie, get the medical supplies, Xellos is in control now and Zelas has willingly placed herself in a lockdown, so it should be alright." Shocked into a tense silence, Kain and Millie could only nod and hastily move out.

xoxox xox xoxox

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a dark lost ship doesn't have a proper infirmary," Millie commented a few hours after the ordeal had ended. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Milgazia were resting. "At least the rooms are comfortable enough, everyone should be able to rest in their rooms." She looked at Kain as they headed back to the control room after tending to the crew. "Milgazia was injured really badly, I wish I had studied more about cyborgs, then I would be the best in the universe and I could help him."

"You'd have to know about both medicine and machines to heal a cyborg," Kain pointed out. "Especially one with a damaged spine. It also looked like some mechanisms deeper in were damaged pretty badly," the trouble contractor frowned.

Millie sighed helplessly. "To be honest, I don't think any of us can help him, even if we watch all the cyborg repair tutorials You Tube has to offer." For Millie to admit not being able to do something, the situation would have to be very bad.

Kain and Millie arrived at the Great Beast's control room where Xellos and Canal had managed to repair the screen, replacing it with a new one and had just completed some tests. "You were right," Canal admitted as the results came on the screen. "Darkstar prays on the confusion, fear of the unknown, fear of being destroyed and the general uneasiness that is understandable to have, given the situation the monster lords were thrown into upon their first arrival in this world, but Zelas had indeed already overcome all of that. She isn't intimidated by the differences between her previous form and her current one, she knows of the danger around her, but she doesn't fear it. Darkstar won't be able to absorb her power as long as she remains firmly in that mind frame. However, if she is captured and the metal of the Great Beast melted into Dugradigdu, it will only be a matter of time before she gives up. It would be that or remain forever as Darkstar's prisoner, because this time, I won't be able to stand against him alone. Zelas needs to sort things out and fight alongside the Swordbreaker."

"It wasn't Darkstar?" Kain and Millie had entered the control room on time to catch Canal's conclusion, which left them wondering about what really happened. "Then why did Zelas do all this? Even if she is a monster lord, it wasn't in her best interest to attack her allies."

"That's right, it makes no sense," Millie added. "Even if she's really evil, we all know she wants to get revenge on Darkstar, so if she planned to hurt Lina and the others, wouldn't she wait until Darkstar is defeated?"

"Yes," Xellos stated and with certainty he added. "And even after Darkstar is defeated, Lord Beast Master will not bring harm to Lina Inverse and her companions unless they openly defy her. They are very useful pawns and Lord Beast Master will not waste such resources. I dare say that she would even protect them if the need arose, for her own purposes of course, but still."

"So she wasn't being controlled by Darkstar, but she was doing things she wouldn't normally do," Canal summed up. "You sound like you know the cause, Xellos."

"I have a very good idea," Xellos agreed. "Lord Beast Master once told me a story that took place before I came into existence. Ruby Eyes Shabranigdu and Flare Dragon Ceifeed were still around at the time, and the monster lords were still quite young. Back then, Beast Master was known as Berserk Beast, and according to her story, the name fit her rather well. She told me all the details." Yet those were details that Xellos wouldn't share with anyone beyond what he deemed necessary. "The point is that she eventually tamed her own power, her wild side, and became the calm, composed, cunning and plotting leader I've always known her to be. I never thought she would go back to that, but I'm fairly certain that is what happened. That is why she locked herself away temporarily of her own free will. I'm sure she must be in deep thought within her dormant state, sorting things out and regaining firm control over her power. This will not happen again."

A long silent pause passed until Canal let out a breath and began to speak in a gentle voice. "Xellos, I know you deeply admire Beast Master and respect her greatly, but please do not forget that she is a living creature. Even if she is now a lost ship, a machine like me, she is still sentient. As a sentient living creature, she has tensions to carry and those tensions can become overwhelming."

Xellos wouldn't tolerate any kind of critiques towards Beast Master, even if they were not meant to be taken as criticism. "You mean like when Vorfeed passed on her duties to you because she couldn't handle them herself?" He retorted sharply.

Canal frowned, but mentally counted to ten and stopped herself from following on with the argument. "Yes," she stated dryly.

"Lord Beast Master is stronger than that," Xellos affirmed. "She does not have the mental weakness Vorfeed does."

Kain saw Canal clench her teeth and fists, her holographic form almost giving off sparks. It was time to step in. "Regardless, let's focus on the present. Zelas is in a sort of sleep mode right now and you are in control of the Great Beast, Xellos. However, you had in the past done the task of boosting Zelas' processing speed. That power boost won't be available now and since you're not the main AI of this vessel, it might be a bit of a strain to process all of its combat capabilities alone."

Xellos' expression remained cheery from the nose up, but below his closed eyes, his smile twitched, proving that it was false. Millie thought it best to intervene. "What Kain is trying to say is that Zelas probably wants to be present and conscious to get revenge on Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis, so perhaps it would be best to wait until she awakens before going after them."

Xellos mused on it for a moment before agreeing with relative promptness. "Yes, I'm also glad it has been established who will go after them."

"I figured you'd want revenge," Millie voiced.

"Well, the self repair systems of the Great Beast are operational. The battle damage from that last encounter wasn't all that bad." Having calmed down, Canal informed them of her diagnosis. "Give the self repair a little more time and the ship will be as good as new."

"I can't say the same about the crew though." Kain brought up the inevitable news. "Most of them only suffered superficial physical injuries, but being exposed to having their minds fed on by a dark lost ship, one that's supposed to be their ally, isn't something they'll forget any time soon. I cannot say how much negativity they had to withstand, but it surely caused a great mental strain, from which they will need time to recover. Then there's Milgazia..."

"His injuries were by far the worse," Millie continued. "I couldn't figure out how to get his jetpack back on. His biological side heals remarkably fast, but the skin on his back healed over some circuitry and got it all out of place, it's a mess of melted ripped wires and skin trying against all odds to seal the wounds and it's not pretty. I'm sorry, but I don't think I can reconnect the jet pack to his nervous system and repair his spine. You'll have to take him to a specialist and hope that at least some partial repairs can be done."

Xellos scuffed, "I never liked him anyway, having all those diplomatic meetings with Lord Beast Master," he pouted. Millie blinked; she didn't understand why diplomatic meetings would be bad, though she supposed that it all depended on their contents. "I'll let him rest for now and let Beast Master decide what to do with him later, it's not like he's in mortal danger anyway," Xellos decided. "He did attack Lord Beast Master though, so he could be when she wakes up. Well I'm sure you're all very tired, so I won't keep you up any longer, have a pleasant evening." It was a rather direct indirect way to tell them to leave.

Millie exchanged worried looks with Canal, but it was surprisingly Kain who placed a hand on each of their shoulders to stop them from protesting. "Zelas has a lot of pride, doesn't she?"

"Naturally," Xellos replied with a curious look about why Kain would suddenly feel the need to state the obvious.

"Then she won't harm Milgazia, because if she wanted to, it would have to be on her full senses. Something that happened while she was... berserk... will not count for her," Kain stated with certainty.

"I suppose we'll see," Xellos had to admit in the privacy of his own mind that Kain did have a point and Milgazia would most likely be left alive, unfortunately from the general priest's point of view. Though he couldn't precise when he started to dislike Milgazia so much, even after that stunt he pulled with Flagoon all those years ago, the anger faded in time and they only shared a mutual disdain for each other's kind that was natural and expected, or so they had believed. Xellos supposed that there really was not that much wrong with Zelas playing diplomat with a dragon, his fears, as well as his misunderstanding the previous year, were ridiculous at best, or so he told himself. Thus Xellos decided not to interfere so much anymore, unless of course Zelas told him to.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 063: Engineer! The Awakening Of The Beast

Though Xellos was on high alert by the recent happenings and Beast Master's dormant state, he still wanted to keep the independence Zelas wanted for herself and her crew. Yet when it came down to it, he knew that he wouldn't be able to defeat Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis alone if they came after him. Albeit Zelas had previously taken a moment to share her findings and Xellos was confident that he too could recreate her energy techniques, it would still be at a lesser scale. Besides, he wouldn't be able to count on the crew's energy, weakened as they were left. Thus he felt it wise to stay close to the Swordbreaker, while making sure the Great Beast led the way. Canal decided not to question his logic and simply followed him, stopping at a near by planet.

The planet was about half city and half farmlands with a very marked distinction between the two areas. It wasn't as technologically advanced as other planets at a glance, but if one was to look deeper, beyond the rugged exterior of the antique buildings, there was a place that rightfully earned its name as a cyborg's paradise. The best engineers and doctors lived there, constantly conducting research and coming up with new advancements. The technological aspect of the planet meant that it had good defenses that would make the presence of enemies obvious as well as detain them should Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis track them down. The farm areas would provide a place to land away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the opportunity to remain hidden and hopefully undisturbed.

The Great Beast and the Swordbreaker both landed on a vast grassy field next to a farming area. The farm wasn't particularly large in terms of the area that was planted, but the endless stretches of land around it were certainly sizeable. In the far off distance an antique looking locomotive passed by with hidden advanced technology, while maintaining its classic nostalgic appearance on the outside. Maybe it was all part of a sort of tourist attraction where the beginning of technological development co-existed with its peak. Across the grassy fields there was a small house, which was indeed inhabited as Xellos soon noticed when a human girl, whose blond hair, blue eyes and fearless expression reminded him of Filia, approached the ships.

The young woman stood in front of the ships with her hands on her hips and a pout upon her face, paired with a warning glare. Xellos simply projected himself just outside of the dark lost ship without the need to open the hatch to let himself out. "Good afternoon, miss," he greeted politely.

"Oh, good afternoon," the girl lost her pout and instead put on a pleasant, yet business-like expression. "Are you in need of a mechanic perhaps? I would be glad to offer my services..." She turned her head towards the Swordbreaker where the hatch had been opened and Kain and Millie were stepping out along with Canal's holographic projection. "If your payments are not as late as Kain's!" She finished.

Kain laughed nervously and placed one hand behind his head, carrying a small box on the other. "Go easy on us Winry, when have we ever let you down? Here's your payment." He gave her the box.

The young woman called Winry snatched away the box, her eyes shining with anticipation. She slowly lifted the lid, savoring the moment. Her whole face lit up with bliss when she got a good look at what was inside. Curious to see what made her appear so overjoyed; Xellos stepped over next to her and peeked inside the box. The inside of the box was padded with plastic that held carved outlines in the shape of forty tiny letter Us. Within the U shaped outlines there rested little wires that shone in a silvery prism color, reflecting the light in more colors than what anyone would guess the tiny things could. "Wires? You're this happy about a bunch of little wires?"

Winry snapped the box shut and held it close protectively. "These are no ordinary wires; they are extremely rare nerve connectors!"

"Ah, I see, then you are one of the cyborg engineers of this planet. I thought they were all in the city," Xellos noted.

"You mean Kain brought you here without even telling you whose backyard you were going to land on?" Winry shook her head as if silently saying 'typical Kain.' "In that case, allow me to introduce myself, I'm Winry Rockbell and as you've correctly concluded, I'm a cyborg engineer, though I also like to tinker with space ships and other technological devices."

Canal discreetly stepped over next to Xellos and whispered to him. "You should watch out or she'll take the Great Beast apart and put it back together before you know it and I don't think Zelas will call that taking good care of her vessel during her nap."

"I heard that!" Winry protested. "Speaking of which, how are the upgrades holding up?"

"I can't complain," Canal admitted.

"You see? I can be trusted!" Winry grinned victoriously. "So Millie, have you learned any new recipes? You promised to give me a cooking lesson, remember?"

"As a matter of fact, I was able to pick up a few new delicious recipes recently," Millie proudly declared.

"Really? By all means, show me!" Winry happily exclaimed. "Let's all have a feast tonight to celebrate Kain finally keeping his word and delivering my payment at last! I'm sure granny will be glad to see you guys again. Ed and Al are away in the city, but you know how they are, always running around on business. By the way..." Winry at last realized something she had forgotten to inquire about in her excitement. "That new ship, what is it called? Are you all its crew? What's your name?"

"Ah, so you finally decided to ask, it's a bit rude not to, don't you think?" Xellos chuckled, shaking his finger at Winry, who pouted in response. He laughed as the group walked to Winry's house. "You really do remind me of Filia, a Filia who likes machines instead of maces and vases."

Winry blinked, "maces and vases?" The two seemed very unrelated from her point of view. Like a bull in a china shop or something like that.

"Yes," Xellos grinned some more.

"His wife makes pottery and melee weapons for a living, so if you remind him of her I guess that means you're cool in his book," Millie supplied.

Winry giggled, realizing that Xellos was just teasing her before. He did seem like kind of a jokester. "Filia sounds interesting."

"You can meet her later. To answer your other question, I'm not in the Great Beast alone. I'm sure you already noticed I'm a hologram, given my entrance a bit earlier." Winry nodded and Xellos continued. "Well, I'm currently the acting main AI of the Great Beast, normally I'm the secondary AI, but Beast Master Zelas Metallium is a bit busy with her plotting and planning deep within the system, so she might not join us for a while. The rest of the crew might, especially Lina and Gourry when they hear there's going to be food. I'm sure Amelia and Zelgadis will want a bite too, Filia as well, and Milgazia... If he manages to get up and walk over here that is."

"Which makes it very convenient that we're here," Canal admitted.

"Ah, I knew you needed something," Winry nodded to herself knowingly.

"Come now Canal, let's not trouble our kind host," Xellos interjected. Let's get better acquainted first and then we'll discuss business... if necessary." He eyed Canal suspiciously, as he thought he was leading the way, but it seemed that somehow she ended up leading him to that planet after all. Canal made no visible acknowledgement of the look Xellos gave her, though she was well aware of it.

xoxox xox xoxox

Later, at the Rockbell house, granny Rockbell realized what a grave mistake she had made when the crew of the Great Beast awoke and joined them, by telling them to eat as much as they want. Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev could certainly eat, the others had healthy appetites too but those two took the cake, soon to become a literal saying. Kain could eat plenty as well, but he was still not as much of a big eater as Gourry and the surprisingly petite Lina. Granny never thought someone so small could eat so much, all while muttering between bites something about needing the energy for an upcoming rescue mission. While granny and Millie struggled to keep the dishes going, Winry decided to have a curious look at that new lost ship.

The cyborg specialist found the hatch that led inside the dark lost ship had been left open and curiously wandered in. "Hello," Xellos greeted with a smile, appearing right in front of her.

Winry jumped, startled by his sudden appearance. "Oh... Hi, Xellos."

"I thought you might come here soon," Xellos stated, his usual cheery mask intact. "Especially after what Filia told you in secret when she thought I couldn't hear."

"Filia has a kind heart, I can tell," Winry stated. "She's worried about your friend Milgazia, the one who stayed behind at the ship because he wasn't well enough to move yet. The truth is I can't see a damaged cyborg and leave him. Let me have a look at his injury, I'm sure I can do something to help."

"His fate is for Beast Master to decide," Xellos stated with finality. "I have decided that I will not try to sway her judgment, but it is still her choice to make."

Winry frowned, "but she's sleeping and time is passing. When it comes to creatures that are part mechanical and part biological, it is best to act fast, it is vital to act fast," she emphasized. "If his bio components heal inconveniently around the damaged circuitry, it'll be that much harder to repair him. The malfunctioning damaged mechanical parts may cause further damage to his biological body and as it tries to heal around defective technological components that are not properly functioning, his biological side may further damage them too. Cyborgs are tough, stronger than any human, but when they do get hurt, seriously hurt beyond what the self repair components can fix, they need the proper attention to heal the way they're supposed to."

"I stand by what I said..." Xellos simply stated. Winry placed her hands on her hips, then noticed that Xellos' gaze had suddenly moved to the source of the footsteps on the entry ramp just behind her. The footsteps stopped next to the engineer and Filia adopted an identical posture, with her hands on her hips. "You two really do look alike when you stand like that." Xellos observed with a joking tone that didn't really fit the situation.

"Don't be stubborn Xellos," Filia glared. "Let's go, Winry." The golden dragon turned cyborg made her way past Xellos and deeper into the vessel muttering something about clingy overprotective sons that made Xellos twitch slightly.

To the purple haired hologram's surprise, Filia led Winry to the Great Beast's control room, rather than the room where Milgazia was resting. "I know it must be difficult for dumb blonds to find their way in advance lost ships like this, but the other dumb blond of our group, and I don't mean Gourry, is resting in that direction." He pointed towards the hallways that led to Milgazia's room.

Filia and Winry gave him dual glares, threw their heads back with a "hmp!" And Filia dared to point out, "Beast Master's been a platinum blond before and silver hair can be considered a shade of blond by some."

"That's different..." Xellos pouted, having his own comment used against him. Winry ran a hand on top of the control panel of the Great Beast with Xellos worriedly hovering around her. "What do you intend to do?" He intoned in warning, his fierce amethyst eyes opening momentarily in a thinly veiled threat.

"First of all," Winry frowned as she found an uneven area on the control panel. "I'm going to fix this dent. Such a majestic lost ship as this one should not be marred in such a way."

"Ah yes, that was never fixed before... But I can't seem to remember how it got there," Xellos mused. The dent wasn't there when Zelas left them at Edge and then it was when she returned with Milgazia. Logically, the cause of it must have occurred in-between those time frames, but Zelas never got around to revealing it and there were more pressing matters to ten to at the time. "Alright then, fix it." Xellos nodded cheerfully, yet once again his face morphed into something that did indeed look like a monster, "but don't mess anything up!" Just as quickly he was cheery once more, "be careful, okay?"

With the raise of a curious eyebrow Winry nodded, "right..." She pulled out a capsule from her pocket, with the logo 'CC' and expanded it into a tool kit. Many of the tools there were labeled 'CC' or 'SI,' having been imported from Capsule Corporation and Shinra Incorporated respectively. The job was done swiftly and with no set backs. "There now, the control panel is nice and smooth... Time to try it out!" Winry began to rapidly type commands that Filia blinked at, not recognizing the codes. This must be how humans felt when they saw dragon script and couldn't read it.

Xellos' image faded from his holographic projection and appeared on the screen. "Oh no you don't. I see what you're doing. You want to disturb Lord Beast Master from her nap. Don't you know you're not supposed to wake a beast unless you want to get eaten?"

"Too late, Xellos, I am awake." Zelas projected her holographic form on the control room next to Filia and Winry.

Xellos returned to his holographic form as well, appearing beside Zelas. "Have you completed what you were doing, Lord Beast Master?"

"Subconscious meditation gets boring after a while, I'm ready to do something else," Zelas stated. "Oh, what's this?" She ran her solid hologram hand over the control panel. "The dent is fixed and I see there's a new screen as well, I vaguely recall the old one being broken."

"The screen was Milgazia's fault," Xellos pouted.

"And the dent too," Zelas recalled.

"What?!" Xellos angrily exclaimed.

"But I think I got back at him sufficiently, intentionally or not." Zelas mused about the vague recollection she held about ripping Milgazia's jet pack off. "Remind me, Filia, you were watching, weren't you? Did his spine come out of his back or does he still have it?"

Filia shuddered at the brutal possibility and backed away. "He... has it... And I would very much prefer if you let him keep it... please."

"Someone has turned meek and scared while I slept," Zelas teased. "Ah, I guess I left an impression didn't I? Well, it is to be expected, I am a monster lord after all. Either way, that's enough of catching up, on to the current business. Who might you be, young lady?"

Winry had been listening and staring in wonderment. So this was what a dark lost ship was like. She lacked Canal's friendly disposition and willingness to do good. Although the white lost ship also had a selfish side that wanted to spend only on upgrading her ship and budgeted every other aspect of the crew's expenses. Yet that only further proved Canal's status as a truly sentient being. The same could be said about Zelas' joking attitude towards matters that from the other's perspectives were certainly no joke, but at least she wasn't all doom and gloom. "My name is Winry Rockbell," she introduced herself. "I'm a cyborg engineer specialist and I'm the one who fixed the dent. I don't know how they could have ignored that. It didn't prevent any of the ship's functionalities, but still, it shouldn't have been left there."

"That is very true," Zelas agreed with an elegant nod. "I am Lord Beast Master Zelas Metallium, primary AI of the dark lost ship Great Beast."

"It's nice to meet the primary AI of a dark lost ship." Winry squealed in excitement. It was always a treat to have Canal and her super high tech Swordbreaker there, but she never imagine a dark lost ship would land on her backyard and remained appeased long enough for her to take a look inside and not get killed. "I was wondering if I could ask you something out of curiosity, if you don't mind."

"You seem to be polite and respectful enough, unlike some people." Zelas eyed Filia, who pouted in response. "Go ahead and ask your question."

"Why do you call yourself lord if you look like a woman?" Winry inquired.

Xellos and Filia nearly fell down at the unexpected question. Zelas was left without an answer for several seconds as she adopted a thoughtful expression. "Well... The long answer would be that monsters, my original race in the other world from where I came, are astral, that is to say non-physical beings. As such they don't have a physically identifiable gender. They are not programmed as digital beings are, with a predefined disposition towards a gender. Rather, when a monster becomes strong enough to project themselves into the physical plane, the gender with which they are most closely identified mentally becomes part of their appearance. I was called lord when I was but a shapeless ball of energy being created. Then I took on my astral form of a winged wolf, but it was still merely a silhouette without detail, until my power stabilized, as did my astral form, and soon after my physical form."

Winry blinked in confusion, "huh?" Was all that she could manage to say. "Other world?"

"What Zelas is trying to say," Filia interjected. "Is that her... father... gave her the title of lord before he knew she would turn out to have a female persona."

"Her father?" Winry thought about it and came to a conclusion. "Oh, I get it, the scientist. That's a pretty neat idea, to build an AI that can define its own gender based on personality, but then wouldn't the programmed personality define it? Ah, but there are many traits that can indeed be present in both males and females and with a random array of variables left open, it could be possible for it to go either way. That's kind of cool, building an AI and not knowing if you built a guy or a girl until it tells you what it is. I always thought of my technology as my babies, but this is even closer to that I suppose," she giggled.

Zelas raised an eyebrow at Filia, who laughed nervously as if saying she was only trying to keep things simple. Zelas gave her a grinned that silently screamed 'you little liar' although there was some truth in Filia's words, even if Winry came up with her own interpretation for them, which no one seemed too eager to correct.

After the small distraction, Winry moved on to the topic at hand. "I understand that there is an injured cyborg on board, Milgazia I believe you called him. May I repair him?"

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 064: Unicorns! A Long Time Ago...

Zelas mused on the possibility of Milgazia's repairs for a moment, while Xellos, Filia and Winry stood by quietly in the control room of the Great Beast. "Without his jetpack he'll probably have no wings. That would make it difficult to have him come over for diplomatic meetings at Wolf Pack Island and I don't feel like sending Fang to fetch him every time or going to Dragon's Peak myself. Then he might also have trouble generally moving around swiftly from one place to another, though there is no reason why Raywing wouldn't do the trick. None the less, he might be pushed into an early retirement in the dragon council for what they call his own good. Regeneration magic is experimental and difficult, as most sorcerers opt for the easier method of sacrificing a copy of themselves and installing the parts as in with a chimera, albeit I can't imagine Milgazia doing that."

After a pause during which she enjoyed watching Filia shudder in horror, Zelas continued. "I doubt his clan would accept a different leader. He will still lead them, but be out of the council, then he'll have to send a representative and I'll have to find someone else to effectively extract information from. It's too inconvenient, Milgazia serves as a good link to the inner workings of the dragons, even if he lays traps on what he speaks in portions that are convenient to him and tries to obtain information from me in return. I've gotten used to his style by now and know how to make the diplomacy convenient and informative to me. It would be in my best interest to keep things as they are." Zelas concluded.

Winry wasn't sure what she was talking about, but Xellos and Filia understood. "Then in light of that..." Filia hopefully voiced.

"Yes," Zelas agreed. She looked at Winry, then spoke again. "You may heal him to the best of your abilities." Upon receiving Zelas' authorization, Winry squealed in delight, making everyone think that she had the makings of a mad scientist, though she might not show it at a first glance, the truth was destined to come out.

xoxox xox xoxox

After a good meal, the Great Beast took off from the Rockbell farm though its destination was not far. It landed on a small moon, with an appearance similar to earth, but with all the flora in pastel colors, where Canal had mentioned unicorns inhabited. The Swordbreaker's main AI had suggested visiting such a place for the creatures to work their mysterious influence in helping to calm the crew and get them ready for their upcoming mission. Though they were in a hurry to rush to the rescue of Mr. and Mrs. Inverse, the fact remained that they didn't know where Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis were, as they usually found the Great Beast, rather than the Great Beast finding them. Kain assured that he would contact all his connections to help in locating them and got Raily and a few others on the search.

As soon as the Great Beast landed, the crew curiously ventured out to see what the fuss was about the unicorns and if they were truly as relaxing as legends told. Xellos playfully sprang forward, running straight into the center of a group of unicorns, excited to play with them. "I knew Xellos liked unicorns, but I didn't realize he liked them this much." Filia commented as she shyly pet a medium sized white unicorn that approached her curiously. Surprisingly, the unicorns took to Xellos just as quickly as he did to them and pretty soon, he got the whole crew to join in their games.

As darkness fell over the area, thinking that she might as well take a break of her own while her vessel's batteries, aka the crew, recharged, Zelas sat under a pale tree. A small black unicorn was curled up with her head on Zelas' lap. A few feet away, Xellos was in a sort of simulated sleep mode among a group of unicorns along with the rest of the crew, who rested their heads against the local fauna as if they were living pillows. They weren't as colorful as the unicorns in that show Xellos, Filia and Amelia liked so much, their colors limited to black, white, shades of gray, brown, tan, yellow and red, but Xellos was still tempted to steal one of them and dye it purple.

Silently, so as to not disturb the sleeping unicorns, humans, cyborgs and the sleep simulating hologram, Milgazia approached Zelas. "I thought you didn't like unicorns."

"I thought you'd stay unconscious for a few days," Zelas replied.

"I must thank the one who repaired my jetpack; the healer did a great job." Milgazia hinted at wanting more information.

"That's too bad," Zelas frowned as if disappointed. "I was hoping the job was only passable."

Milgazia decided not to inquire further from Zelas, he would find out more from someone else later. He considered going back to the Great Beast to rest, but he was still curious about the unicorns. If they were anything like the unicorns he had heard existed long ago in his world, before he was born, then they were certainly special. He considered dropping the subject, but there were too many questions floating around.

"Would you stop staring at me as if you're trying to read my mind? You know it's not going to work," Zelas finally spoke after a long silence.

"I know," he sat down next to her, which hinted that it was time for another diplomatic discussion, meaning that they would try to get information out of each other, while revealing as little as possible in exchange. Yet this time, she wasn't really trying to gather any information, nor did she consider it to be particularly important to keep anything a secret. "Shall we discuss future combat strategies?" Milgazia inquired.

Zelas rolled her eyes, "don't dance around the issue, you want to know what happened and why."

"Yes," Milgazia admitted. "Everyone seems to think you'd be too stubborn to tell them, so they haven't been asking much."

"I don't see how knowing the story would be of any benefit, though I don't think it would bring consequences either," Zelas stated truthfully. "I suppose there's no harm in telling you, or rather clarifying what you already know, as I'm sure you must have heard a version of the tale. Tell me, Milgazia, do you know how unicorns became extinct in our world?"

Milgazia paused for a long moment. It wasn't that he didn't remember the history lesson, he recalled it quite well. But observing Xellos' joyous behavior around the unicorns he was so strangely fond of, the golden dragon elder had found nothing but pure joy and a child-like bliss. Xellos wasn't being the trickster he was known to be, this was all real. Thus given what he had heard, it puzzled Milgazia. "According to the history recorded by the dragons, it was you who extinguished the unicorns years ago, before I was born."

"I'm going to pretend you didn't call me old just now," Zelas huffed. "Getting back into the topic at hand, yes, that would be what is recorded in dragon history, as expected, and it is indeed truth. I wouldn't be surprised if all the accounts in dragon literature about the event are indeed true. What the dragons witnessed from their perspective was exactly what was expected of a monster, thus they would indeed record the tales as they saw them. However, there were things that dragons did not witness, the other side of the story."

Milgazia blinked as he thought he saw something on Zelas' face. "That... Is that related to it somehow?" He traced a line with his index finger over his own right eye as if to indicate what he meant.

"Yes," Zelas almost absently mimicked the motion over her own right eye where a slightly angled vertical line went over it marking the skin above and below it as well as the eyelid, though the eye was undamaged.

"A scar over the eye, I've caught hints of it in your true form, but never saw it in your human form. I would logically think it is only part of your appearance, you were astral after all and you're digital now. Yet there is something unusual about it," Milgazia admitted.

"That's because it's a real scar, a mark I was not created with," Zelas revealed.

"How is that even possible? I thought that an astral being couldn't be scarred," Milgazia logically pointed out. Scars were things that belonged in physical forms, he would assume.

"Don't get your hopes up about learning any anti-monster fighting tactics," Zelas chuckled almost teasingly. "Only another astral being of greater power can do something like this."

Then the answer became obvious to Milgazia, "Shabranigdu."

"Yes," Zelas confirmed.

"But how does that relate to the unicorns and what happened during the fight with Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis?" Milgazia was still missing too many pieces to the puzzle to form a clear picture just yet.

"Impatient to know, aren't we?" Zelas closed her eyes for a moment, the line over her right eye becoming more defined. "This," she pointed at the scar, "only appears in my projection when I think about it, though it is a part of my true form. Its appearance in my projection is a sort of involuntary reaction to the thought of it, which I'm sure you must have noticed doesn't happen often. As for the origin... It all began with my own origin..." The appearance of her holographic projection changed, though the small black unicorn remained sleeping undisturbed. Though she was still easily recognizable, her clothing was not her usual elegant dress and she wore no jewelry, instead wrapped in furs one around her hips and another over her chest tied on the back. Her hair was messier and her figure had more muscle to it. A wolf tail peeked out from under the fur around her hips and rested beside her. Fur adorned the end of her elongated ears, her long manicured nails became unpainted claws and her fangs protuberated from the sides of her mouth as her eyes glowed. "This was the appearance of the Berserk Beast."

"This was your original projection," Milgazia realized. "And I take it you were called the Berserk Beast for a good reason."

"Naturally," Zelas changed her holographic projection back to her usual elegantly dressed slender form. "Let's review, shall we, Ceifeed's strongest followers are..." She purposefully trailed off into silence, allowing Milgazia to complete the sentence.

"Aqualord Ragradia, Firelord Vrabazard, Airlord Vailwin and Earthlord Rangort," Milgazia detailed.

"They all represent certain elements, pretty balanced aren't they? That's not surprising given that they were the minions of Ceifeed," Zelas concluded. "As for Shabranigdu, he had..." She paused again, like a teacher giving a student a pop quiz.

"Chaos Dragon Garv, Hellmaster Fibrizo, Dynast Grausherra, Deep Sea Dolphin and you, Beast Master Zelas Metallium," Milgazia listed off.

"You should have mentioned me first, but I'll let that slip. Each of the monster lords represents something," Zelas explained. "Chaos Dragon Garv, as the name suggests is a mockery to the orderly dragons. Hellmaster Fibrizo was all about death and the undead, that's something that living creatures fear. Dynast Grausherra was all about the war and the cold, while some people can find beauty in a cold winter and a sense of pride in war tales, put the two together and it's too much to take for most. Deep Sea Dolphin, as the name suggests, is all about the sea. Early in history, there were many legends about the terrors of the sea which have subsided in recent years after sailors have managed to plot standard routes and getting lost at sea became less of a possibility. Yet in the past, ignorance was common and the ocean was a very scary place for humans and the other living creatures of our world. As for me, I'm the beast, but certainly not a tame beast. I'm the fierce angry predator."

Though Milgazia already knew all those things, he listened with quiet attention, waiting for Zelas to reach the point in her story where she would reveal something new.

"Garv was full of unpredictable uncertainty, perhaps that's why he ended up fusing with his human side and gaining some of the qualities of the creatures that are quite chaotic in their own right," Zelas mused. "Fibrizo was always playful and child-like in appearance, the bratty little brother of our dysfunctional monster lord family as it were. Death can claim anyone, however young, and it is difficult to see it coming as it may appear harmless until it is too late. Dynast the cold warlord with his snowy mountain castle and armaments fitted his role quite well too. As did Dolphin, majestic and alluring to adventure and treasure seeking explorers, but in truth absolutely unforgiving and ever changing like the tides. Then there's the beast, a predator, wild. Garv's chaos came from the clash of his dragon properties with his monster properties, it wasn't randomness, there was a method to his madness and for his purposes to be accomplished, there had to be. But not for me; I'm the monster under the bed in a sense, the glowing eyes watching people in the dead of night. There was no method, only madness, I was wrath, I was wild instinct beyond reason, I was a berserker."

At that point Milgazia couldn't help it but to ask about such details. "In ancient dragon texts I recall that you have been called the Berserk Beast, but even after you started being called the Beast Master, the text made no effort to differentiate. I do understand that the Berserk Beast and Beast Master are both you, yet if you went from one to the other and if the change was as marked as it appears to be, I would think someone would mention something."

"If they didn't, I doubt it was by conscious omission," Zelas explained. "To the dragons I called myself Beast Master because I had eliminated the unicorns, the only beasts that they thought I did not have an affinity towards. Thus I had become the master of all the remaining beasts that I could influence in violence towards my own benefit. That was their logical conclusion from their observation and they were honest in their records if that is what they wrote, they simply did not know the other side of the story. Like Garv, I was a contradiction. He was a chaotic dragon and I am a monster with an affinity towards living creatures. Beasts have a special instinct to survive and monsters an instinct to destroy. Usually that contradiction was reconciled by thinking that I would not allow anyone to destroy the world, except myself. Survival would be pursued in that sense, but also the goal that the monster race considered to be their purpose, as many still do. By now I've decided that I'm better off ruling the world."

"Going back to the story from back then," Zelas continued. "As you might have heard, unicorns have a calming property. They are gentle creatures that brought joy to human's hearts through the peace they inspired. Because of that, Shabranigdu hated them. Peculiarly, the unicorns were so gentle, that the soothing feeling they eradiated was not harmful to monsters. It was like a refreshing spring of water. Like water, the soothing energy did not have a taste, but it was none the less refreshing. I suppose the unicorns were creatures of neutrality, creatures that did not empower human emotions, but rather soothed their nerves and allowed their true feelings to be understood more clearly. For better or worse, humans tend to calm down when they have a grip on their situation, even if it's a bad situation. So strong is their thirst to understand everything around them. As neutral creatures, the unicorns also did not harm monsters, but rather helped soothed them into a sense of stability that medium ranked and above monsters might disregard, but was actually good for the lesser monsters to become more defined in terms of their persona, their most vital aspect that allowed them to exist. Of course, neither the humans nor the dragons really notice that. The unicorns were pleasant to them, thus they assumed they were unpleasant to monsters."

"One day," Zelas narrated. "Shabranigdu decided to eliminate the unicorns. I did not like them at the time and volunteered myself for the task. I thought I would enjoy hunting them down. Yet when I went to a valley filled with the creatures, I started seeing them as I saw the wolves and the jungle cats, they were my beasts. I didn't return to report to Shabranigdu and when some time passed, the other monster lords got curious and went to find me..."

xoxox xox xoxox

Many years ago, before the War of the Monster's Fall, Zelas sat on the grass covered ground at a spacious valley, surrounded by unicorns. Her appearance was somewhat wild, her hair spiky. Furs were tied around her athletic body and her wolf tail moved contently as she rested. A woman in a blue dress approached and inquired curiously, "what are you doing?"

"Zelas rests with her beasts." The Berserk Beast replied in her past manner of speech which referred to herself in third person.

"Your beasts?" Dolphin looked at her fellow monster lord in curiosity. "Do you not have enough with your wolves and jungle cats? Must you keep these horrid creatures as well?"

"Dolphin have pet too!" Zelas growled in argument.

"Yes, and my Leviathan is the only pet I need," Dolphin assured. "However, I do notice something different about you. Perhaps now that you growl and grunt less often than before I could turn you into a proper lady. Don't you realize that elegance enhances terror?"

"Zelas not believe that," she huffed.

"It's true! An alluring beauty can cause greater fear, as people fear the predator as well as their own inability to even try to escape," Dolphin insisted.

"Hey, you two, what's going on?" Garv's gruff voice demanded, appearing next to the two female monster lords with curiosity. "I thought you'd be done with your mission by now, Zelas."

"Unicorns my beasts now, mine!" Zelas growled threateningly.

"Cool it, shewolf, I'm not going to steal them or anything," Garv laughed heartily. "You and your fascination with keeping pets."

"You mean her fascination with keeping strange pets." Dynast commented as he teleported out of the astral side on time to hear what Garv said. "The jungle cats I can understand and even the wolves, as I keep a mountain lion as a pet myself. It's a curious creature, but I do feel that observing it is a beneficial activity in the need to understand living creatures. It is important for us to know the enemy after all."

"And I have my crocodile," Garv nodded.

"I don't have a pet." A pouting Fibrizo appeared and joined the conversation. "I wanted to get a human alchemist to make me a pet chimera. Something cool, like a three headed dog. I had the perfect name for it too, I was going to call it Cerberus, but Lord Shabranigdu doesn't want me dealing with humans so closely." He stomped his feet as if preparing to throw a temper tantrum, then stopped, with a crooked grin upon his face. Just as quickly as it came, the grin faded away to be replaced with a sweet childish expression. "Hey Zelas, can I help you with your mission?" Fibrizo asked in his best impression of a sweet little brother. "I can catch the unicorns and rip their horns off for you!"

Zelas roared, "no! My beasts! Mine!" She warned.

"You're so greedy!" Fibrizo complained.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 065: Combat! Every Battle Makes You Stronger

A long time ago, before the War of the Monster's Fall, one fateful day, the monster lords of Ruby Eyes Shabranigdu were gathered together in the valley of the unicorns. "These creatures aren't so bad," Dolphin unexpectedly observed. "They have a refreshing feeling to them, like the sea. Speaking of water, I'm parched; can anyone get me a drink?"

"You don't actually need water to live, it's all in your head," Dynast argued. "Anyway, I suppose these creatures really aren't so terrible. I could have my lancer minions ride on them, galloping fiercely to war, spear in hand. The horn does make them look better than plain old horses."

"Ha, I doubt they could be trained to be creatures of war," Garv laughed. "But you know, I'll bet the dragons won't be happy if we keep a bunch of them as pets because they and the elves really like these creatures."

"I want them!" Fibrizo pouted.

"Didn't you want to kill them just now?" Dynast pointed out.

"I do! I want them to be really mine and for that they have to be undead, they'll be more fun that way. I want them!" Fibrizo stomped his feet and yelled as he flailed his arms around in full on temper tantrum mode.

"Sheesh, you sound like the humans," Garv laughed at the irony. "They're fond of the unicorns one second and the next they're trying to kill them and drink their blood because of some weird rumor about that granting them immortality. I wonder if that's what they mean when they say hurt the ones you love. Strange creatures those humans are, aren't they? Fascinating even."

"Fascinating? That's a big word for you, Garv!" Dolphin teased with a giggle, to which Garv grunted in response.

"That's not the same thing!" Fibrizo pouted and glared.

"Oh, I see what you mean," Dynast nodded at Garv. "It is similar," he explained to Fibrizo. "You want to kill the unicorns because you want to keep them to yourself."

"It's like, destroy what you want to keep," Dolphin added with an amused laugh. "Well, you guys can have all the pets you want, but my Leviathan will always be the best!"

"Not have unicorns! All Unicorns mine! Zelas already claim all!" Zelas growled with insistence, causing Fibrizo's pout to become more pronounced upon his cutesy youthful face.

Garv huffed, "you think a goldfish is the best? Ha!" He mocked playfully.

The legends of Leviathan were formed around the sea serpent minions that served Dolphin, which were often called by that name by humans after they had heard it being spoken by the monsters of her dominion. However, no one ever knew that the original Leviathan was actually Deep Sea Dolphin's pet goldfish. The fish had a pact with its master, which allowed it to live as long as she did, provided that the pledge stone was not broken.

xoxox xox xoxox

At the present time, in the pastel colored little moon inhabited by unicorns, a thought occurred to Zelas as she narrated. "When we were taken away from our world, it is very likely that the pacts we had formed were broken. That's going to be quite a mess to sort out later and some inconveniences will never be repaired. Though from your point of view it's more like things are at last repaired."

"Of course," Milgazia assured, less monster pacts in the world was a good thing for dragons. "All of this is quite the story I must say."

"There are things that only us monster lords were aware of. I created Xellos at the start of the War of the Monster's Fall so he didn't witness any of this, but I have told him the stories before," Zelas revealed. "Anyway, it just occurred to me that Leviathan must be dead. Dolphin is going to throw a tantrum about it; she was going for a record for the longest monster pact maintained with a living creature. Even if it was just a fish and the record was already indisputably hers anyway."

"That's really too bad about her pet." Milgazia sounded sincere as the pact in that situation was harmless and he certainly didn't want to imagine how Dolphin would express her mourning in her own monster way. "I take it I should expect tidal waves?"

"In abundance," Zelas nodded.

"I will begin evacuating all coastal villages as soon as I return to our world," Milgazia sighed. "Now then, about the story, would you care to continue it?"

"Care no, but I will continue anyway," Zelas decided. "Shabranigdu eventually showed up and was most displeased to find his five main minions slacking off and playing around with the creatures they were supposed to destroy. He blamed it on me, as it had been my mission, that I myself had volunteered for. Plus I was the one claiming the unicorns as mine and wanting to keep them. Shabranigdu ordered me to destroy them and I defied him despite the difference in our power at the time." Zelas alluded to the fact that while Shabranigdu's power had diminished since then, hers had grown. "That's how I got that scar, it was an astral injury inflicted by Shabranigdu. Afterwards, I had no choice but to destroy the unicorns or I would be reabsorbed by Lord Ruby Eyes and recreated into an obedient servant, which I considered to be a fate worse than being ruined and permanently killed."

"So I exterminated them," Zelas concluded. "But of course, that little divergence was not something witnessed by the dragons, so from their point of view it never occurred. I looked the same for some time, despite the change in title I chose to show I was in control of my power, rather than being aimlessly driven by it. I chose my new appearance while I was bored one day during my first few months maintaining the monster barrier. Good thing I had my pets at Wolf Pack Island or I might have just died of boredom. I suppose it was the unicorns that influenced me into getting a firm grip on my power. It did not diminish though, all the opposite, I was still strong, but also I had become far more cunning. I suppose Xellos' special liking for unicorns is something I might have unconsciously passed on to him, a remembrance of sorts."

"You are indeed the most dangerous of evils," Milgazia concluded. This was quite a surprising story he had heard. One that no dragon had witnessed and thus could not have recorded or even dreamed of. "You are a necessary evil, and I don't just mean in the fight against Darkstar and for the sake of keeping the balance and preventing the Mother of All Things from destroying and recreating the world. You're cunning, but not all bad, the kind of evil that comes with benefits that can be hard to let go of. A fascinating mysterious evil, a great danger indeed." He frowned at the end of his speech, realizing something. "Shabranigdu's time ended long ago, but only now is someone taking his place. His fragments will continue to become weaker over time until he is no more, mere centuries from now, but you... You're becoming stronger."

"I'm so glad you noticed," Zelas grinned. "And though what you said might have sounded as a critique to the ears of most, I will take it as a compliment. I guess this means you'll take it upon yourself to be the opposing force in the equation of darkness and light?"

"Me?" Milgazia blinked incredulously.

"Ragradia is dead with only a shadow left behind," Zelas stated. "Valwin is not interested in the matters of this world and has become a hermit in the astral side. I've even passed him by and he barely gave me a second glance, as if the matters of this world did not concern him at all. His power has diminished, but he didn't seem to care. On that short meeting he said 'humans no longer need us' which reminds me of the words spoken by that old dragon before I came here. From his point of view, his job is done, humans and the other chaotic living creatures of the world can create their own balance, and with that mentality, in time he will fade away like a breeze."

"Rangort is asleep, deep within the main planet of our world," Zelas continued. "I discovered him while investigating about Gaia and the Green Alchemist over a year ago. Refusing to wake up, it is only a matter of time before he becomes petrified as part of the soil itself. Vrabazard became entranced by his adoring subjects, all which perished during the Darkstar incident, save for Filia, who had already resigned her official position in her clan. Vrabazard wanders aimlessly and will too fade with time as he was far too used to the life of being revered and adored, the life that died with the dragon clan that served him."

"So you knew..." Milgazia frowned in solemn seriousness. "The most guarded piece of information of the dragon race, you knew it all along."

"You were careful never to hint at it, I found this out on my own," Zelas admitted. "I had wondered if the higher ups kept this from you, yet you somehow seem to know the most out of all the dragons when it comes down to it. Thus I thought that you might know and I was right. It's odd, I want to destroy you, but at the same time, I don't. Maybe it is the human need for an opposition to face that's rubbed off on me over the years or maybe it's because I know there must be a semblance of balance between the darkness and light for the world to continue evolving and thus existing."

"I'm only a dragon," Milgazia stated. "I'm not a dragon lord, just a dragon... Yet maybe that will be my greatest strength in what lies ahead. That, and what I have learned from the humans. So even if I don't claim to be worthy, if a time comes when such a responsibility falls upon my shoulders, I will fulfill it to the best of my abilities."

A small silent pause passed, until Zelas broke it with laughter. "How dramatic!" She teased. "I would expect nothing less out of you, Milgazia. So this is the future of our world, the all powerful versus the underdog."

"Zelas..." with his golden eyes sharp, Milgazia made a daring statement. "It's not just me; it's the humans and the other living creatures, and their potential. The way I see it, with examples such as Lina Inverse, the playing field is quite even. I know you are far too prideful to acknowledge a rival unless you believe it is a worthy one and this time, I know you've done so. That's why you move cautiously, you want to keep Lina on your side, so to speak, or at least not as an open opposition."

"That's quite a bold statement," Zelas acknowledged. "You better hope you don't regret it."

"What about Luna? She'll help keep things balanced too." Milgazia pointed out.

"Yes, yes, all of you," Zelas disregarded, adding a foreboding note at the end, "if she is ever restored."

"Lina has not lost hope," Milgazia pointed it out as if it was a vital fact, and it was. "She's determined to save her sister and her parents."

Zelas mused on his words for a moment. "And when Lina Inverse is determined to do something, no matter how difficult or impossible it may appear to be, she'll find a way to get what she wants," the hologram concluded. "None the less, Luna has become accustomed to letting Lina handle things and more often than not she stands by, enjoying the simpler pleasures of life, such as serving tea." Zelas paused, slightly raising her hand for silence as she sensed an incoming transmission to the Great Beast, then she announced with anticipation. "It is time..."

xoxox xox xoxox

After everyone was ready to go, the crew exchanged their goodbyes with the Rockbells, and the Great Beast took off. Zelas, as before, wanted to go off on her own, yet that time, Lina had agreed. This was a personal matter that she wanted to solve with the resources of her world. Thus with Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos and Milgazia on board, Zelas took her vessel to once again venture into the depths of space with the vital information they had received less than an hour prior to their hasty departure. Raily had contacted Canal, who passed on the message containing information about Galveira's whereabouts. They hurried to their destination prepared for a fight.

When Galvaira appeared on the screen, the crew's uneasiness shone through. "Battle stations," Zelas simply commanded.

Lina stepped forward and focused. This was the moment of truth, she couldn't fail now. She sat at the captain's chair and closed her eyes, chanting quiet words under her whispered breath that would not create a spell in that world, but would none the less help her concentrate. Her psy-energy flowed out clearly, with rage and courage as if they were two separate streams. Not allowing them to mix too much was extremely difficult for Lina, but it would certainly make Zelas' part in the battle easier.

The dark lost ship found the rage to be soothing and the courage much easier to handle when she was coated in her own element, defending and attacking at once. Galveira charged forward with a barrage of missiles, not even bothering to open a communication link before initiating the battle. The Great Beast fought back, a multitude of missiles of her own colliding with the enemy projectiles and causing a light show of explosions in space. "Ready the main psy-canon!" Zelas commanded, as she guided her vessel in complex twists and turns in a deadly dance with Galveira.

"It's almost done loading for a maximum power hit!" Xellos happily informed, his eyes opened as Zelas allowed him to take control of the cannon while she focused on the engines and navigation.

"Xellos... Take my energy, digitalize it, encrypt it, and sent it as a message along with that shot." Lina requested, her appearance was serene on the outside, which hardly hinted at the inner storm she held.

"A message?" Xellos questioned. "I don't know what you're planning or if it'll work..."

"A message sent like that wouldn't work in these circumstances even if you were a psychic, which you are not." Zelas pointed out.

"It's alright, my energy will reach them, it will resonate with theirs. That is all I need," Lina insisted.

"Lina... I'll give you my energy too," Gourry offered.

"And mine," Amelia volunteered.

"Me too," agreed Zelgadis.

"Count me in," ascertained Filia.

"And I as well," Milgazia added.

"As a message..." Zelas mused. Her constant movements were starting to be felt inside the lost ship as there was only so much the outer shield and inner gravity controls could do for such a constant long period. It would turn into a very bumpy ride if they didn't progress soon. "I think I understand, but such an encryption will take a lot of system resources, as only the main AI of this vessel could have. Xellos, hold off on the main psy-canon attack and instead take over the maneuvers while I ready the energy."

"Yes, Lord Beast Master," not quite certain about what the plan was, Xellos did as he was instructed anyway. It seemed that for now, the crew was just trusting Lina and doing as she requested, but they had little idea of what her aim was, yet Zelas sounded like she knew. The Great Beast shook with the impact of enemy missiles. The Great Beast's own missiles had ran out and Xellos had nothing to counter the enemy missiles with except to try to dodge them.

When Zelas saw a clear shot to Galveira at nearly point blank, she took it without hesitation, "fire!" The energy wave of the psy-canon hit the target directly. As expected, Galveira brought out his shield of dark energy, pushing it to the limit, and something unexpected happened. Rather than reaching into it to try to encourage the prisoners to awaken and rebel against their captor again, the encrypted message of feelings of encouragement bounced back as if unable to reach its target, while the energy meant to serve as a weapon did its job well.

Lina's eyes shot open, her expression shocked for a few seconds before her grin became similar to the expression Zelas had on her face. "It looks like we're finally on the same page, thanks for allowing me this investigation."

"The result was not what was expected, but they are far more favorable," Zelas agreed.

"I don't understand..." Amelia voiced in confusion.

"I wanted to get my parents to help us from the inside, but instead I found out they're not there," Lina revealed. "I should have been able to sense them with my little experiment."

"Not there?" Gourry wondered in confusion. "Who's not there?"

"Lina's parents," Zelgadis replied.

"I would think not," Gourry mused aloud. "I mean, aren't they back in our world in Zephilia?" Leave it to Gourry to still be confused about the situation, even after all that had happened recently.

"If they're not there, then where are they?" Filia brought up a very valid question.

Lina looked at the hologram of the Great Beast's main AI with the question in her eyes. "Zelas?"

"By obtaining the black box of Galveira, that is to say, a device that records transmission information, we can pinpoint their location. What we do know is that they are not physically there inside Galveira. Their energy is being projected from afar. They could be with Ragudo Mezegis, with Darkstar, or in a hidden facility that sends their energy," Zelas theorized.

"We'll rescue them after we blow up Galveira. That black box thing should survive the blast, right?" The Great Beast shook violently just as Lina asked her question, which she didn't really expect a direct answer to, but thought would be an affirmative.

Alarms came on the screen and Zelas huffed in anger. "This vessel was built for speed and agility, its armor surpasses that of any other regular ship, but Galveira is more heavily armed... Of course, it's much slower than me and speed can create strength!" Zelas guided the Great Beast once more, leaving Xellos to perform supportive functions. She made the ship spin in place in a motion that Galveira found strange.

"The inner gravity stabilizers are at maximum!" Xellos announced. None the less, the crew was clinging to their seats, glad they had remembered to put on their seatbelts, because the gravity stabilizing mechanisms were not enough to keep the full motions isolated from their senses.

"I think I'm going to be sick!" Gourry complained.

"I'll take your energy of discomfort and use it to power my shield, but if you get sick in my control room, I'll kill you!" Zelas warned.

"Why are you doing this?" Filia's dizzy voice echoed from all the spinning.

"Isn't this like Xellos?" Zelgadis observed, remembering a time when Xellos took on his true form of a black cone and spun around, drilling into the enemy.

"I think you're right!" Amelia sounded more so excited than in discomfort. "Spin as fast as justice itself!"

Though the existence of a method to measure the speed of justice was questionable, Zelas was indeed spinning quite fast. "Classic," Xellos grinned. "The defenses are in place."

The aftershock of the waves of energy around Zelas as the Great Beast spun repelled the missiles and lasers from the perplexed Galveira, who didn't think the Great Beast had a trick such as this. "Who do you think taught Xellos all he knows?" Zelas chuckled as her vessel crashed into Galveira for an unexpected physical assault, which the dark shield of psy-energy was not enough to protect him from. Thus the lost ship that was once the bow of light was torn to pieces.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 066: Ambush! Time Bomb Count Down

After Galveira was defeated, among the wreckage in space, the device known as the black box was discovered. It was encrypted, as expected, but with the viral hacking properties of her programming, Zelas managed to crack the code and found some interesting information. "According to this data, the location of the source of the shields is static and has been that way from the start," Zelas announced.

"That means that my parents are not with Ragudo Mezegis, or else their location wouldn't have been the same all the time," Lina concluded. "Are they with...?" She inquired in worry, hoping that their static location did not match the position that Dugradigdu had not bothered to move from.

"Not with him," Zelas confirmed and Lina let out a tense and worried breath she didn't even realize she had been holding. "It seems the theory that was correct was the one about them being held in a facility of sorts. Oh, what's this... Interesting, it seems Onyx was there as well, that explains why your instincts supposedly failed you that time, Milgazia, Onyx really wasn't in danger of getting blown up back then. It looks like their energy is being projected to the enemy lost ships. Onyx was exhausted and taken offline after her last battle. She might or might not be alive, though the Inverses were used as shields recently, so they probably still live."

The news took Milgazia by surprise and filled him with hope. Onyx was a part of his clan and he wanted to protect her and safely return her to Phythan's side. "Mr. and Mrs. Inverse are waiting to be rescued and maybe so is Onyx... No, not maybe, she has to be alive. We shouldn't delay their rescue a moment longer!" The dragon elder turned cyborg declared. Obviously, Lina and the others were in a complete agreement.

Zelas grinned as if she was in no rush to move. "You're forgetting something. I'm a monster lord and rescue missions are simply not my forte. Even if I forfeit their lives, you will still make yourselves useful to me because the fate of our world and the over-world depends on it."

Lina was filled with frustration and anger. "When this is over..." she warned, though she knew it was an empty threat.

"You'll do what?" Zelas mocked. "I thought I had made it quite obvious that I hold your lives in my hand, after all, you can't even do as much as breathe without my help in this atmosphere."

"This isn't fair," Amelia pouted and Zelgadis placed his arm around her shoulders as if to comfort her. Filia glared at Xellos, telling him with her eyes to say something, but the general priest turned AI didn't say a word. His solid holographic projection remained perfectly still as a statue with his usual cheerful expression firmly in place.

"Excuse me," Gourry spoke up, much to everyone's surprise. "Um... Lady Lord Beast Master," he did his best to sound respectful. "I humbly request that you help us in saving Lina's parents and Miss Onyx as well. I know I'm only a human swordsman with nothing special to offer, but I offer you all I have in exchange."

"All you have?" Zelas questioned with curiosity.

"Yes, you can take my very life." Gourry offered with a serious face that was an expression he rarely ever used. "As it is only the ordinary life of a swordsman, I understand if that is not good enough in exchange for your efforts, but I am willing to spend the rest of my life repaying the debt."

Gasps invaded the control room as everyone, even Xellos, stared in absolute shock and surprise. "Are you sure you understand what you're saying?" Zelas inquired.

The usual clueless Gourry looked very sure of himself now, as if he did know what he was getting into and he was willing to bravely march into it anyway. "Yes," the fearless swordsman replied. "I do not expect any mercy, nor do I expect a life of serving you to be an easy one. As I said, I know I don't have much to offer, but please consider accepting this simple swordsman's life." He went on his knees, taking Zelas' hand and kissing it as if to vow his loyalty to his new master, should she accept his offer.

"This is inconceivable!" Lina screeched so loudly that all those present cringed at the sound of her angry voice.

"Oh dear, I think we've made her jealous," Zelas teased with mocking laughter.

"This is an outrage! Don't you dare! Don't you dare!" Lina's warning went out to both Zelas and Gourry as her psy-energy waves went wild, projected in a red hot aura around her. "Gourry, never throw your life away like that, even if it's just to sound gallant. I want to save my parents and friend too, but you can't sacrifice yourself, I won't let you! I'd rather have Zelas take me than you!" She breathed heavily, the immense power of her chaotic soul still surrounding her.

"So now you're offering yourself?" Zelas grinned, gladly absorbing the energy that irradiated from Lina. "Very interesting... You might have not noticed it, but over a year ago when you died and were reborn so to speak, certain things changed. Born of chaos and cleansed by chaos into pure chaos, you are chaos itself, Lina Inverse, you are the living legend, the wild card, your potential was unlocked that time, the potential of a truly chaotic soul. I might just take you up on your offer."

"No!" Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Milgazia protested in a loud and urgent chorus filled with justified alarm.

"Aw, but don't you guys want Lina to be an official part of the Metallium family?" Xellos smiled mischievously.

"Shut up, raw garbage, this is too much!" Filia screeched.

"Lina Inverse cannot and must not be controlled by a monster," Milgazia seriously stated. "I will not allow it. Leave them out of this, I'll sacrifice myself instead."

"My, my, so many want to be my minions today. I suppose enslaving the respected golden dragon elder Milgazia would be fun, especially since the dragons realized you were right all along and started holding you in much higher esteem after Luna's commandeered body situation was revealed. But still, I can't pass up the chance to have Lina the wild card on my side," Zelas decided. "So here's the deal. Lina Inverse, you are now my envoy of chaos. All you have to do is... be yourself. If you can give me your word that you'll never consider betraying me, that will be sufficient. I know you well enough to know you won't go back on it, so I will not force a pact on you." That would only make the commitment stronger. A pact, an entrapment, would encourage Lina to break it, yet if she was held only by her own word, it felt binding yet willing, thus she would be more likely to stand by it.

Lina blinked, shocked and suspicious. "That's it? You won't ask me to do anything for you?"

"My dearest pawn, I've always used you just fine before, why would I ask for anything additional?" Zelas laughed.

"Fine... So be it, you have my word," Lina agreed.

"Excellent, then I'll do you this one favor." The Great Beast started moving again. "I don't have ammunition, but it proved to be ineffective anyway so I'll just rely on the main psy-canon and my energy sources for whatever may come. Status report, Xellos."

"The damage wasn't too bad since the shielding energy was so strong, though the paint job was scratched rather badly," Xellos informed. "The self repaired system has taken care of most issues, there's nothing but a few minor scratches and chipped metal here and there left."

"This vessel is going to need a complete remodeling job when this is over," Zelas huffed. If only her ship didn't get trashed after every fight. Having a physical form to take care of was a difficult task indeed. "Well, as long as it's functional. Onward we go, the light speed jump calculations are complete, be ready for anything!" The crew braced themselves for the light speed jump that would take them near the area where Light, Labyrinthine and hopefully Onyx were being held captive.

xoxox xox xoxox

The Great Beast reappeared in front of a satellite of medium size. The space station was suspiciously unguarded as if inviting them in. "Either they weren't expecting us to find this place, or it's a trap," Xellos theorized.

A short moment of musing silence passed and Lina, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia chorused, "it's a trap."

"But that's not going to keep you out, is it?" Zelas smiled almost teasingly with mischievous amusement in her eyes.

"Of course not!" Lina assured with great determination, as expected. "Let's hurry up and go in. Look over there; it looks like you could dock the lost ship there."

"It seems to be alright..." Zelas agreed and approached the designated docking area where she extended a small tunnel from one of the side doorways of her vessel to the inside of the satellite.

Lina didn't waste a single second in rushing into the space station. She was closely followed by Gourry, with Milgazia eagerly trailing behind. Amelia rushed in after them with Zelgadis right beside her. Filia paused to look back at Xellos who accompanied her to the tunnel but stopped with a flicker at the entrance. "It looks like there's far too much magnetism in here, holograms can't move freely inside this satellite."

"What about your android body that you were working on improving? Can't you use that?" Filia inquired.

"It's unavailable," Xellos informed with a hint of disappointment. Who knew what fun he would be missing out on by staying behind during this excursion.

"Unavailable?" Filia questioned in perplexity.

"It was taken apart to use the spare pieces for repairs on the main vessel, most of it was melted and reshaped actually," Zelas informed.

"Oh..." Filia frowned in disappointment. "I guess you'll have to miss out, I better hurry up and catch up with the others." She rushed through the tunnel calling out, "wait for me!" But found that the rest of the group had not gone too far. "Oh, there you are."

Lina, was furiously typing on a numerical control panel on the side of a heavy closed metal door. The words 'wrong passcode' kept flashing in red on the keypad's small screen. "Filia, get Xellos over here and have him hack this thing open!"

"He can't come, there's too much interference for his holographic form to be projected inside the satellite and his android body was dismantled and recycled to repair the Great Beast." Filia regretfully informed.

"Then how are we supposed to get through here? These doors are pretty thick and I'm not looking forward to having to bring them down, especially if there are more of them ahead. Besides, that will take a lot of time and energy," Lina complained. The satellite shook violently all of a sudden as the sounds of lasers being fired was heard. "What was that?"

"There - no cau-se - alarm," Xellos' flickering hologram informed them with cut off sounds from a few feet away at the tunnel entrance. "Beast -ster destroyed - antennae, so they - not trans-mit - energy."

"I think he's saying that the big antennae on top of the satellite has been destroyed so that it can't transmit energy," Filia interpreted. "That's good, I mean they probably already know we're here anyway and if Ragudo Mezegis shows up, he won't be able to use energy from your parents and Onyx transmitted from here."

The keypad next to the door flashed in different numbers until it received the correct one and the doors opened. Zelas' flickering hologram appeared next to Xellos and signaled them to go on and get this over with. "You'll have - break any - doors, I don't - enough range - this."

Lina nodded, "gotcha, you don't have enough range to hack beyond this point. We'll deactivate the magnetic field if we manage to run into its source while we're looking for everyone." The redhead took a moment to glance at Filia, "stay here."

"Huh?" Filia blinked in confusion at the unexpected request. "But why? You don't know what's waiting in there, you need all the help you can get!" The golden dragon turned cyborg insisted on going.

"That's my point," Lina explained. "If Ragudo Mezegis shows up, and if my instinct is correct, he's probably on his way, then the Great Beast will need a battery to power the main psy-cannon. Even if Zelas and Xellos have mastered producing their own energy, they need to manage the ship's systems, pilot, handle defenses and so on. Having an extra source of energy would be a big help if the Great Beast has to fight while we're still in here. I want to go find my parents and Onyx personally and you're the only other one with the guts to be truly effective as an energy source," meaning the short fuse and explosive temper. "Thus I, captain Lina, must leave first officer Filia in charge of things until I return."

Seeing the logic behind the request, Filia agreed. "Alright, I'll stay here, be careful, all of you." Filia returned to the Great Beast where she wasn't looking forward to getting caught in Xellos and Zelas' antics that would pop up if they were left with little to do until Ragudo Mezegis showed up, if he made it to their location before Lina and the others made it out.

xoxox xox xoxox

Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Milgazia, ventured deeper into the satellite. They were surrounded by metal walls with lines of light running through it, as if the entire structure was one giant circuit board. They had the strong feeling that they were being watched and remained alert for any kind of danger that decided to leap at them without warning. Suddenly, several compartments on the walls were opened and laser guns emerged from them, some silver and others metallic black. The silver guns shot lasers which the group took extra effort to dodge, rushing forward deeper into the space fortress, trying to get away from the line of heavy fire.

The black guns shot beams of dark light that affected their psy-energy. "They're using the hostages' energy to try to weaken us." They reached a closed door made of the same thick metal as before. Milgazia and Zelgadis, who was wearing his armor, projected their energy to create a shield of light around the group until they could manage to get through the door at the end of the long heavily armed hallway. "This isn't fair, how dare Darkstar and his dirty minions make them suffer like this?" Lina punched the keypad next to the door in frustrated anger and coincidentally pressed the correct numbers by accident, causing the door to open.

Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Milgazia rushed in, with the door closing again behind them. The next room was dark, but soon, light came on filling it with brightness. It was a rather large metal chamber with the same lines of light like a circuit board running through the walls. There were three glass chambers in the center of the room, holding the three people they had come looking for. But before they could break them out, several compartments opened up on the walls and tall black and silver battle robots stepped out. Everyone readied their weapons immediately.

"We can't risk the enemy using the hostages against us again or them getting hurt. Zelgadis, Milgazia, use your force fields to protect them and get them out of there. The rest of you, let's turn these robots into scrap metal!" Lina commanded.

"Justice will prevail!" Amelia charged towards one of the robots delivering a psy-energy powered pacifist crush with the metal knuckles of her psy-energy conducting gloves. Her fist went right through the outer armor, reaching into the inner circuitry. She received a shock of electricity, but managed to grasp several cables inside and pull them out. The robot short circuited and moved around at random before crumpling to the metal floor.

The combat robots shot lasers at Milgazia and Zelgadis, though with some extra power to their force fields, the reason why they had been given this task by Lina, they managed to deflect the attacks and prevent the glass tanks containing Onyx, Light and Labyrinthine from being hit. They quickly broke them free, removing the multitude of cables that held them in place.

Lina fired her gun continuously, while occasionally glancing at Milgazia and Zelgadis' progress in the rescue mission. Seeing as they had the hostages secured, she called for a retreat. "Back to the ship everyone!"

The combat robots were programmed to keep them there and continued relentlessly attacking. "We'll have to carve our own path!" Gourry charged forward, with his sword at the ready, cutting one robot after another out of the way, even so, there were so many that their advancement was slow. Milgazia and Zelgadis kept the unconscious Onyx, Labyrinthine and Light safe within their team work force field, shooting lasers to prevent the robots from getting too close, watching everyone's backs. Lina and Amelia continued fighting as well, with Gourry leading the way, trying to cut a path back to the Great Beast.

The satellite shook violently again and the large metal door that led to the robot filled chamber was forced open from the outside by short circuiting the lock system. "Everyone, we must hurry!" Filia appeared at the doorway. "It was a trap, we have to deactivate it!"

"You mean a trap other than these robots?" Lina called back. If that was all there was, then they could handle it, but she had a feeling that Filia's urgency and alarm had another cause.

"The Great Beast is stuck," Filia shot several lasers as she spoke. "The magnetic field trapped the ship and a lot of strong cables wrapped around it. Zelas and Xellos have a lot of interference and can't break free from the satellite's grasp. The radar's analysis finally came through; this place is a giant time bomb!"

A chorus of alarmed "what?!" Echoed through the battle field.

"We can't survive in the atmosphere of space, the Great Beast is our only way out of here, not to mention that if she gets blown up, we'll get blown up along with her!" Lina shouted. "There's no way I'm going to miss out on mom's 'thank you for rescuing us' banquet because of some trap. We have to disable the bomb mechanism!" The task was, obviously, much easier said than done as the combat robots kept slowing their progress and there were only a few minutes left before the space station exploded and ended their journey through the over-world once and for all.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 067: Crash! Don't Let The Setbacks Keep You Down

The space station shook with the vibrations of each passing second, as the time bomb neared its limit. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Milgazia, along with the unconscious Light, Labyrinthine and Onyx, returned to the entrance of the Great Beast to find it red hot in heat. The flickering hologram of Xellos was near the door, "the tunnel is stuck." His image dimmed and flickered then came back on, "cut it off along - the cables. The satellite is - melt - Great Beast!" He urged in warning.

Without a second to waste, the crew began to chip away at the tunnel, the cables and the tips of the wings and aerodynamic spikes of the Great Beast until the vessel was able to break free from the hold of the satellite bomb. As the Great Beast hastily moved away from the satellite, the crew held their breath and jumped in. However, something pulled them up from between the satellite bomb and the Great Beast. Ragudo Mezegis had arrived on the scene and was trying to steal away the whole crew. Yet another lost ship arrived, Gorun Nova, and surprisingly, he too tried to steal away the crew for his own vengeance, disregarding Ragudo Mezegis' strategy.

While the two enemy lost ships tossed the crew within their tractor beams, Zelas took the opportunity to retaliate. "Do a spin charge, Xellos, I'll handle the psy-cannon."

"But how will you aim, Lord Beast Master?" Xellos began to guide the vessel to spin rapidly similarly to how he did as a cone.

"Did I just hear you underestimate me?" Zelas focused all her energy in hitting Ragudo Mezegis despite the way her vessel was moving.

"Of course not, never!" Xellos immediately exclaimed as he guided the lost ship to spin faster.

The main psy-canon was shot, not as powerful as it would be with the crew to give it extra energy, but still powerful enough with Xellos and Zelas to fuel it. The beam hit its target dead on and as Ragudo Mezegis glowed red with heat, the Great Beast rammed into it, pushing the enemy lost ship into the satellite bomb. The explosive space station had become so hot that its metal armor fused into Ragudo Mezegis on impact. Finally reaching the critical point, it was about to explode.

The crew had been beamed up by Gorun Nova, who intended to take them prisoner. Inside the lost ship that was once the sword of light, Lina and the others gasped for air. The redhead looked around to see if everyone was there, Gourry and Amelia were as blue in the face as she was, but otherwise alright. Zelgadis, Filia and Milgazia fared a little better because of their cyborg components, though they obviously didn't like being tossed around like that. To Lina's surprise, Light, Labyrinthine and Onyx were also awake. Then again, they were tossed around so much that it would be hard not to be shaken awake by that. "Mom, dad, Onyx!"

Before Lina could get to her feet and approach her parents to make certain beyond a doubt that they were indeed uninjured, several compartments opened in the walls of Gorun Nova and cables shot out to try to entrap the crew. However, they were swift to fight back with their psy-weapons. The battle didn't last long, as the explosion from the satellite sent waves of energy rippling across the area. Ragudo Mezegis was blown to pieces by the trap that had been set up for the Great Beast, while Gorun Nova and the Great Beast only withstood the aftershock of the explosion, having put some distance between themselves and its core.

While Zelas took control of the Great Beast's defenses, Xellos linked with Gorun Nova, using his viral properties to force the exit hatch open, then Zelas quickly beamed the crew back to her vessel. However, all of that happened while the aftershock of the explosion was still going on in waves, with pieces of the space station bomb and Ragudo Mezegis being thrown throughout the area. As a result, both the Great Beast and Gorun Nova were thrown back and caught in the gravity of a near by planet. The two ships crossed the atmosphere with Lina, Gourry, Zelgadis, Amelia, Filia, Milgazia, Onyx, Light and Labyrinthine being tossed around inside the Great Beast.

Since Gorun Nova was considerably less damaged than the Great Beast, he managed to take control of his trajectory and decided to retreat for the time being. Even though the Great Beast had been heavily damaged, she had the whole crew within her to power her systems and Gorun Nova knew that was very dangerous. As for the Great Beast, the lost ship plummeted towards the planet whose gravity had captured her and crashed into a mountain forest area.

"Ow..." Lina complained painfully. "Did anyone break anything?"

"I would guess not, the anti-gravitational system kicked in at the last minute and cushioned your fall." Xellos cheerfully informed; he was just as chipper as ever despite the poor condition of the ship.

"It's too bad the main engine couldn't go back online," Zelas voiced with an eerie calm. Everyone was quiet, observing with worry the light twitch that they had never seen the ever nonchalant Zelas present. "Why does my vessel have to get trashed after every single fight? How do you creatures even stand having physical forms when they're this troublesome?!" She yelled, then after her little outburst, she took a deep breath and once again adopted her usual cool, calm and collected demeanor.

"You can't go charging in recklessly when your body's not made of pure energy," Lina robbed a sore spot on her head. "Just so you know, mine isn't either!"

"Oh well, at least we're in one peace and the horrible nightmares are over," Labyrinthine breathe. "By the way, Lina, I'm definitely making a big dinner for you when you're done with your latest adventure!"

"Alright!" Lina cheered, instantly feeling much better upon the thought of food. "Thanks mom!"

"I never doubted you for a second, Lina, I knew you'd save us and your sister," Light congratulated.

Lina went pale. "Luna? But she's not here; we didn't find her, only the three of you." A frightening thought occurred to her that Luna's soul might have been contained deeper inside the space station and destroyed along with it and Ragudo Mezegis.

Light picked up the mysterious cube that they had found before with the pictures of crescent moons on it. It had fallen out of the compartment where it was kept and been tossed around inside the Great Beast along with everyone else. "Your sister is right here, safe and sound. Can't you tell it's her?"

Everyone stared in disbelief. "Luna?!" Lina loudly exclaimed, then laughed nervously as the crescent moon cube glowed. "Of course I can tell it's her, she is my dear sister after all. I knew it all along, that's why I did such a great job keeping her soul safe. Anyway, as soon as the Great Beast is up and running again, we can drop you off at our world and you can restore Luna's soul to her body."

"Or we could tag along with you and I can relive my days as a mercenary," Light suggested.

However, Labyrinthine was quick to disagree, "honey! We have a store to manage and besides, who will water my garden while we're gone? Then there's grape harvesting season to get ready for. I'm afraid Lina will just have to do without your sword and my magic, but that's okay, she's a big girl and can take care of herself, plus she has all her friends and her beloved Gourry to look after her."

Lina felt a deep pain in her heart when her mother assumed that she and Gourry were together again. Though he made no comment to deny her assumption, it might not matter much because he probably missed it altogether. "Oh... alright," Lina's father agreed, reaching the same conclusion as her mother in terms of their youngest daughter's relationship. Yet all of that also made Lina think about how Gourry had always been there for her even after their break up and never once deserted her. She had to fix things with him, she simply had to and she had finally mustered up the confidence to bring up the subject... sometime soon.

Zelgadis had gotten curious about a certain aspect of the story that didn't quite fit and asked. "How did all of you get captured anyway?"

"I got sucked into a portal that appeared at Dragon's Peak and was caught before I had time to react. Not a very interesting story," Onyx grumbled.

"As for us, a monster called Erosnum has been rounding up minions in our world," Light revealed.

"He attacked Zephilia and though we fought him, he managed to send us to the over-world where we were captured by Darkstar's minion," Labyrinthine elaborated.

"Wasn't Luna's body in Zephilia?" Milgazia recalled with worry.

"Don't worry about that, when we sensed danger we prepared for it. I had the alchemist from down the street make a copy of Luna's body," Light explained.

Labyrinthine continued, "since her body was an empty vessel, no copy of her mind was created, only an empty homunculus."

"Your little friends, the pink haired young man and the polite shrine maiden agreed to hide the real Luna in his kingdom, while we kept the homunculus at Zephilia, pretending it was the original. Erosnum destroyed it, but Luna's real body is still safe at Taforashia," Light finished.

"That sounds like... Pokota and Sylphiel!" Lina realized. "I guess we have them to be thankful to. Somehow, even if I wasn't there, Luna would have totally blamed me if anything happened to her body. Ah well, we better get going then."

"We're not going anywhere," Zelas informed with a serious face.

"Another ultimatum? What more do you want?" Lina frowned.

"Not something you can give," Zelas replied with annoyance. "I want to be astral again and not have to worry about having a vessel that's constantly in need of repairs. According to Canal's stories, she didn't even get into a state like this until the final battle and it's been get fixed and get broken constantly all the time since I got here!"

"I guess it's a good thing you weren't turned into a human, they're not this easy to repair." Lina sighed, though she did get Zelas' point and as she was their only mode of transportation, the pattern was getting frustrating.

"You are strong, but so is the enemy, so it can't be helped," Milgazia quietly voiced.

"Frankly, I can't wait to get my revenge on Darkstar done and over with so I can go home and take out my frustrations on all the people of the world," Zelas growled. "And that traitorous Erosnum is going to get it too!"

"After this is over, we're going to spend the rest of our lives going out of our way to appease Zelas' wrath, aren't we?" Filia sighed hopelessly.

"Yes we are," Xellos happily chirped.

Just as they were trying to figure out what to do next, a man with wild black hair, wearing an orange martial arts outfit, peeked in through the opened hatch of the Great Beast. "I knew I sensed living people in here. Your energy is pretty unusual. Are you guys okay? It looks like you crashed pretty badly." His obvious question reminded everyone of Gourry, which was not exactly a good start if they were hoping to find skilled mechanics to hire towards the repairs of the Great Beast. The mysterious man paused as he looked at Zelas and Xellos with curiosity. "Why is it that I can't sense your energy?"

"Must be because we're machines," Zelas informed. "You seem to have quite a bit of energy in you, though it's a tad too innocent for my liking. Something fiercer in the same volume might suit me better."

"Huh?" The man in orange blinked in confusion. "Wait a minute... Are you here to take over the planet?"

"Not really," Zelas informed, curiously sensing how the man's energy level increased at the thought and settled down again at her negative reply. He had quite a deal of hidden power in him, though it was different from the power of her world. 'If he was in my world, he'd have a tremendous pool and bucket capacity, but he'd probably be too dumb to know how to use it to cast any complex spells,' she mused. "Are there any engineers familiar with space ships in this planet?"

"Oh yes!" The man happily exclaimed, generally in a better mood now that he had confirmed that the strangers didn't want to take over the planet, or at least they claimed they weren't interested in that goal. "My friend Bulma is great with space ships. I'm sure she can transport your ship to her place and fix it up. Oh, by the way, I'm Goku, what are your names?"

"I am Beast Master Zelas Metallium, a monster lord from another world, this is my general priest Xellos Metallium and my crew," Zelas introduced each of them in her own way. "Lina Inverse, the dragon spooker," Beast Master ignored Lina's protests at the name and continued. "Gourry the clueless sword genius." Missing the ironic insult in the introduction, Gourry only smiled. "Amelia the obnoxious princess of justice, Zelgadis, alias Mr. Pouty," Zelgadis tried not to pout in annoyance, but he was too late in stopping himself. "Filia the clumsy," Filia expected such an introduction from Zelas and held her tongue. "Milgazia, the dull, Onyx the wallflower. The bringers of chaos and destruction Light and Labyrinthine," though it was a reference to their status as Lina's parents, the Inverse couple actually thought their introduction sounded cool. "Last and certainly least, Luna, the paperweight wonder!" The crescent moon cube vibrated as Zelas mocked her current form.

"Wow, you even named the paperweight," Goku stared at the odd bunch in amazement. "I'm not sure if I can remember all those names," he admitted.

"It's okay, I forget people's names all the time," Gourry voiced sympathetically.

xoxox xox xoxox

The Great Beast was transported to Capsule Corp. which was located in a large city. There, a woman named Bulma with blue-green hair, who was the president of the corporation, seemed to be having fun working on the lost ship's repairs. An explosion from near by caught Zelas attention while her crew and Xellos seemed to be entertained enough playing golf with Bulma's father or baking cookies with her mother. She investigated to find a blond man and two blond boys. Yet their hair changed, and in seconds, it was no longer golden. From the two boys, one was a nearly identical, albeit smaller, version of Goku and the other had lavender hair. A man with spiky flame shaped black hair seemed to be angry at them over the explosion which occurred around them, although they barely had a few scratches and bruises. The man was saying something about his gravity room and training.

Zelas got the impression that if Val and Palou got together with those two boys, they could double or even triple their chaos. The two boys were surrounded by auras of energy and, after hastily making apologies; they flew off as if carried away by a Raywing spell. The man huffed and walked off, paying no mind to Zelas, whom he assumed was another of Bulma's guests from that ship she was working on. Zelas detected his energy signature, it was like Goku's in magnitude, but different in consistency. It wasn't pure darkness, but it had its dark side and, given the vast amount of energy he possessed, he could be useful. He had said something about training, which gave Zelas an idea.

The cunning hologram disappeared and reappeared right in front of the man's path. "Hello, you were saying something about training?"

"Unless you have an advanced gravity chamber in your ship that's still functional, I have no interest in talking," the man informed.

Zelas grinned, "straight to the point I see. She focused her senses on him. You have quite a fighter's instinct that's almost wild and the desire to compete; there is a rival you want to beat."

The man looked at the strange woman curiously, though his expression didn't change, remaining serious and uninterested. Even if she could sense his energy, she could tell a whole lot just with that. "And?" He challenged. He couldn't sense any living energy from this creature, yet somehow his instinct told him she held an immense power.

Zelas chuckled softly. This was not a human, but he was similar enough. His pool capacity was immense and he was smarter than that other one, though still more of a physical fighter than this world's equivalent of a spell caster. She could very easily tap into his wild side and desire to fight, creatures such as this one made very useful pawns for Beast Master. Yet she was not a monster now, she was a lost ship and things worked differently with that condition. She still felt the limitations of being a digital creature confined to the functionality of a space ship. Even so, there was something she could do to put his energy to good use. "I have a proper room that you can use to train in within my ship, even while repairs are going on in other areas of it." It was the training chamber the crew used to practice with their psy-weapons, fortified with extra defenses and inner armor. Since it was inside the ship, it wasn't really damaged as the outer areas were. "I can control the gravity and atmospheric conditions in it to make things more challenging, high gravity, thin oxygen..."

"Sounds good," the man grinned.

"Very well, follow me then, and just out of curiosity, what is your name?" Zelas inquired as she led the way back to her vessel.

"Vegeta, prince of the saiyans," the man replied.

"A prince, eh?" She chuckled, not that it mattered in the end. "I am Beast Master Zelas Metallium, a supernatural creature known as a monster lord from an alternate world."

Vegeta laughed slightly, "I've seen so many strange things I'm not even going to doubt your word."

As they entered the lost ship, they passed Bulma, who was adjusting some circuitry. "This ship's got a killer CPU," she commented to Zelas. "Although I have to work around some things since it can't be shut down completely, only in limited sections at a time. It's as if it was alive..."

"I am," Zelas replied.

"Oh, yes, of course, although I mean in more ways than only being sentient." Curious, the scientist inquired. "Where you originally a human who was turned into an AI?"

"I was originally a monster lord, a creature of pure energy from another world," Zelas truthfully informed.

Bulma paused as if debating what to say, then decided to take her word for it. "That's pretty interesting."

"What's more interesting are her claims about her training room, which I want to see for myself sometime today. Oh, and the gravity room is broken again," Vegeta impatiently informed.

Bulma placed her hands on her hips and glared as her temper flared and Zelas detected it. "I told you to be careful!"

"It was the brats," Vegeta argued.

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 068: Energy! A Heart That Can't Forgive

Bulma showed no fear in presenting an argument against a creature who had much more energy than she did, it kind of reminded Zelas of Filia. "You should have taught Trunks and Goten to be careful, so they wouldn't get into the habit of blowing up the gravity room like you!" Vegeta only grunted in response, while Bulma continued, waving her right index finger back and forth in front of his face, her left hand still on her hip. "You'll just have to wait until I'm done fixing this fascinating space ship. For all I know I could have stumbled upon one of the legendary lost ships! They say that at full power these things could destroy a whole galaxy!" Bulma's eyes shone with delight because of the technological advancements, rather than the destruction, or at least that was what Vegeta assumed.

The saiyan prince grunted, "a legendary lost ship, ha! I'm surprised you've even heard of them in this planet. I guess it's a pretty far reaching legend, but there's no such thing. Those ships, although capable of blowing up a planet, had a different way to destroy galaxies. The legend says that they could drain away the life force of all of a planet's inhabitants in a day or two, leaving a whole galaxy desolate in little over a week, without damaging the planet's resources and structures, targeting only sentient life forms. Such a ship would have been very effective in conquering and trading planets, even more effective than sending mercenary squads to clear out civilizations. The ships of legend could attack from afar, they wouldn't miss any life forces that could sneak away from scouters and the purge would be done very neatly. Freeza spent a good deal of time looking for one of those, but never found it."

"Well I could have!" Bulma pouted.

"As I understand, you didn't even find this ship, Kakarot introduced you to the crew," Vegeta pointed out.

Bulma huffed, "oh, go train and quit bothering me, I'm busy." She turned back to her ever fascinating repair work.

Vegeta grunted and followed Zelas to another area of the ship. The lost ships were said to have lost power after the first war, which resulted in vast injuries to Dugradigdu, the banishment of his minions to an alternate world where they became weapons of light and the general decrease in power for both the light and dark lost ships. If only there was a way to recover the power of legend the talks of which reached out to areas so far away from the main conflict. Well, at least Zelas had a vast energy source to get started with as she and Vegeta entered the training chamber. "Here we are."

"Doesn't look all that special," Vegeta commented, the inside of the room reminded him of his gravity chamber, except it didn't have the gravity device in the middle, instead it was completely empty.

"We'll see..." Zelas grinned like a jungle cat with her prey just where she wanted it. "Shall we begin with the gravity at five hundred Gs? Oh, and I'm lowering the oxygen output a little and draining a portion," a rather large portion, "of your energy, just to make it more of a challenge."

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Later, at Capsule Corp. "Vegeta!" Goku called out to the other saiyan as he hurried towards the lost ship parked in Bulma's yard.

"Goku?" Bulma blinked, curious about what he was rushing for, just barely able to tare her eyes away from her ever interesting work.

"Bulma?" Goku had been so focused on Vageta's energy that he didn't even realize Bulma was there until he saw her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm more than okay; you wouldn't believe the technology on this ship. I doubt I could ever build anything like it, even if I had the full detailed blueprints. This is indeed more than just a sentient machine, it's so much more," Bulma squealed with excitement. "But what about you? You looked a bit alarmed for a minute there."

"Oh..." Goku laughed lightly, placing a hand behind his head. "Well, it's just that Vegeta's energy felt weird, like it was being drained away, so I thought our guests decided to take over the planet after all and I came to fight, although I don't sense them being evil, the ones I can actually sense at least. Anyway, if you're so calm, I guess that I worried over nothing. Looks like Vegeta is doing some kind of training. I got to say, this would be a super tough fight if it had really been a fight."

"But it's training, Zelas, the main AI of this vessel, is letting him use her training chamber. Maybe it's just as a thank you for my hard work, but I got the impression she was getting something out of it too. Now that you mentioned Vegeta's energy being drained, maybe Zelas can do that and store the energy to use it herself. It wouldn't be the first time we encounter technology capable of that and the Great Beast is a lot more advanced than anything I've ever seen before," Bulma mused.

Goku pouted, "that's not fair! I want in on the special training too!" Following Vegeta's energy source, Goku rushed to the training room.

Bulma rolled her eyes, "well, if the Great Beast can be powered with energy, she'll get plenty out of this." 'It shouldn't be bad though,' the scientist added as an after thought. 'Goku said he didn't sense any evil from our guests. He can't sense the AIs, since they are mechanical, but if their companions are not evil, neither should be the AIs, right?'

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Meanwhile in the living quarters of Capsule Corp., Lina and Gourry were enjoying the food Mrs. Briefs was cooking. Ever the kind host, she kept serving dish after dish of delicious food, much to Lina and Gourry's delight. Labyrinthine had taken to helping her in the kitchen and they were merrily exchanging and combining recipes, with Lina and Gourry having volunteered to taste them all. "Lina, Gourry, there you are!" Amelia rushed in wearing a peculiar costume consisting of a tight black body suit with a pink martial arts shirt over it and a band around the waist, boots, gloves and a helmet. "Miss Briefs, Miss Labyrinthine, hello!" The Seyruun princess cheerfully greeted the others as she took off her helmet, though her cheer was easily recognizable to her friends even with her face hidden.

"Hello dear," Labyrinthine greeted.

"Oh my!" Mrs. Briefs clapped her hands together. "It looks like Gohan's little crime fighting group got some new members, how lovely!"

"Join us in our crusade of justice!" Amelia raised her fist in the air in excitement.

A similarly dressed man stood next to her, looking rather embarrassed and shifting uncomfortably. Lina and Gourry watched with curiosity, with a chuckling Lina inquiring, "is that you, Zel?"

"Who else?" Zelgadis admitted, still hiding his blushing face under his helmet. He had to admit his armor was better than this costume, but Amelia insisted that they should all dress similarly and her new friends, Gohan and Videl, agreed. He too was wearing a costume like Amelia, except his shirt was gray instead of pink.

"Will you join us?" Amelia hopefully requested.

"I think I'll pass," Lina decided not surprisingly.

"Me too, I mean, we're already very busy helping out as taste testers, we can't just leave with our mission unfinished," Gourry agreed.

"Aw, but Gohan was teaching us how to levitate without casting spells!" Amelia whined.

Lina blinked in surprise. "We can do that?"

"Justice can accomplish anything!" Amelia happily declared.

Gohan stepped forward with a bit of an explanation. "Amelia told us about the magic you can use in your world. It sounds like all you need to do is focus and command your energy with your mind to get it to do what you want there. Here you have to synchronize your mind and body and bring out your energy, coax it out so to speak, rather than command it to react."

"That's fascinating," Lina looked as if she was considering going with them, but it was just an act, as she soon smiled and concluded, "but culinary research is calling my name!"

"But you'll be able to learn how to use levitation in this world!" Amelia insisted. "Plus you'll get your own costume too!" Though the Seyruun princess thought the costume was a fine motivation, it was all the opposite.

"No thanks..." Lina replied flatly.

"Your loss..." Amelia turned away in disappointment, though she soon cheered up and valiantly declared. "It's okay, my comrades, we can defend the city ourselves. For justice!"

"For justice!" Gohan and Videl cheered along with Amelia.

"I didn't hear someone," Amelia hinted, clearly referring to Zelgadis. "For justice!" She cheered once more.

"For justice!" Gohan, Videl and this time also Zelgadis joined in, though he was no where near as enthusiastic as the others.

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Eventually Lina was dragged to the levitation lessons and did get the hang of staying afloat. Although that whole coaxing her energy to carry her concept was difficult and she wondered how Gohan could so easily wield his massive bucket capacity without as much as a concentration chant. Obviously, he was no ordinary human. Overall, the redhead felt that the lesson did somehow help her understand how to wield her energy better in the over-world, which would prove to be useful, as the battles weren't getting any easier.

After the repairs on the Great Beast were finished and Zelas had stocked up on energy drained from the two sparring saiyans, the Slayers were once again ready to be on their way. Everything seemed to fall into what had become their normal routine from there, chaotic, yet not strange for them. But of course, any semblance of normalcy with that peculiar group couldn't last too long.

"I have received reports of a portal we can use to make a stop at our world." Zelas informed as they traveled through space.

Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Milgazia, Onyx, Light, Labyrinthine, Filia and of course, Xellos, were all there. "A message from Canal?" Lina curiously inquired.

"No, a message from one of the humans allied to me, he and his gang originally came from a planet in this world, having fallen through a portal that formed as a side effect of the energy shockwaves during the previous Darkstar battle. They have returned to the place from where they came, a planet filled with strange animals capable of wielding elemental magic. The leader knew of what was happening and gathered information for me, though future business transactions will be difficult, as we'll be in different worlds, our dealings were overall mutually beneficial. The new portal is actually on the atmosphere of the planet and it is quite large. The energy waves around it are massive so the radars can't pick up much else except it; albeit a regular ship wouldn't be able to accurate tell what the portal is. Prepare for a jump, we'll be there in just a few minutes," Zelas announced.

The Great Beast made a short light speed leap that caused the vessel to reappear close to the portal. However, what they found was not only the portal but also Gorun Nova. "Is that Gorun Nova?" Gourry asked as he stared at the image displayed on the large main screen of the Great Beast's control room.

"Yes it is," Zelas replied with a defiance that was directed at her foe rather than the one who asked the question. "I was warned about this, but here I am. There is no need to wait until we're caught in a fight. Bodigar, Nezard, Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis have all been defeated. The only one that remains on Darkstar's side is Gorun Nova."

"I was waiting for you, I knew you'd come here." Gorun Nova sent a transmission, which was surprisingly not voice only. His image was similar to Gourry, with the same face, eyes and body, but his hair was blue. Zelas found his eagerness to fight suspicious after having run away before. Surely he was plotting something.

Milgazia stared in surprise at Gorun Nova's human projection. "Why... Why do you look like this?"

Lina snapped her fingers and pointed at the screen as the image clicked in her mind. "You look like a grown up Rowdy!"

"Rowdy?" Gourry mused on the name for a moment. "That sounds familiar..."

"Maybe because he's your ancestor!" Lina reminded.

"Oh yeah, grandpa Rowdy, now I remember!" Gourry finally recalled. In a sudden burst of logic he realized something else. "If Gorun Nova is the sword of light, then he must have traveled with grandpa in the past before he traveled with me."

"That is true, I did travel with the human called Rowdy Gabriev," Gorun Nova confirmed. "However, this appearance is not because of him."

"Flagoon..." Milgazia suddenly voiced.

"So you do remember that name..." Gorun Nova commented.

"Of course I remember," Milgazia affirmed. "You look like Flagoon, except for the obvious gender difference, but why?"

"To remember her..." Gorun Nova vaguely explained. "She was the only one who acknowledged me, she was..." He stopped and glared at the group through the visuals on the screen. "My past is none of your business. You weren't there, you wouldn't understand."

"I was there," Milgazia reminded.

"You still wouldn't understand!" Gorun Nova growled. "Not you who encouraged her to abandon me and didn't even take her for yourself."

Gorun Nova's bitter accusation brought back a memory to Milgazia. There had been a time when Flagoon asked him something peculiar. "Do you think it's strange that I love this sword so much? He's not just a powerful sword to me, he is my closest companion. Is it wrong of me to love it?"

Milgazia, not realizing just how far Gorun Nova's feelings and sentience went had laughed in good humor. "I have heard that knights often get attached to their swords. But a sword is just a sword, no matter how powerful it may be. You should find companionship in people." Remembering his own words, Milgazia felt that he had sounded cruel for not counting Gorun Nova as a person, even if he didn't mean to say anything out of malice. "Gorun Nova..." Milgazia returned to the present, speaking with sincerity. "I must apologize for treating you as a mere sword. Flagoon was the only one who could understand, who could feel, that you are much more than a weapon, that you're a living and sentient being. I didn't know, I didn't understand and although saying this now may be too late, I am sorry."

Gorun Nova huffed and disregarded the dragon elder. "You were but an ignorant sheltered creature at the time, trying to be a leader though you still had so much to learn. Flagoon taught you a lot, but you never learned completely. However, it is not your ignorance that I cannot forgive, Milgazia; it is Gourry that I hate the most!" Gorun Nova glared at the stunned swordsman. "You mastered all the sword techniques of Flagoon, even going as far as being capable of standing up to powerful magic users with my strength combined with yours."

Lina was inevitably reminded of when Gourry had been taken over during their struggle against Fibrizo and how they had such a hard time fighting against him, even before they discovered his true identity when they had no known reason to hold back. Yet right now the look in his eyes was, if possible, even more lost and it made her worry about him.

"You, Gourry Gabriev, dared to live up to Flagoon in skill but not in honor," Gorun Nova accused. "You dared to set out on a journey to improve your skills and be a hero, just like the warrior of light of the stories you were told as a child. The stories were a tad far from the truth at times, yet they still held the essence of Flagoon. You wanted to be like her while not being able to grasp who she really was. For so long you traveled without a word to me as if I was nothing but an unworthy companion, I who had watched over Flagoon's descendants, even if I could not have her to myself. You hid my true blade and wielded me with the iron of an ordinary sword, as if I was a thing to be ashamed of. Then you called upon my power when you were in desperate need of it and always without a single word of thanks. I was lost, I was nearly destroyed and you never tried so hard as Flagoon to recover me when we were apart, even if it was just as a mere family heirloom."

Finally waking from his pained shock, Gourry's face was filled with the deepest sorrow. "I'm sorry! I can never explain how sorry I am, Gorun Nova. I understand if you can't forgive me because I treated you so badly, but please understand that I really mean it, I really do regret the way I acted. I was a fool, I was cruel, I was ungrateful, I was terrible!"

"I can never forgive you, Gourry Gabriev. You are unworthy to be Flagoon's heir, only your death will satisfy me!" Gorun Nova shouted angrily. "It was you who sent me back here, it was you who set things in motion for me to eventually be forced to serve under Darkstar again in this meaningless existence away from Flagoon's world. Don't you know where she went after her passing? To the Sea of Chaos, to where it all begins and ends. She would have been reborn into that same world and I could have reunited again with her. It was but a small chance, but you stole that away from me. She would have known me somehow; she would have treated me with care and acknowledged me and next time... Next time I wouldn't allow anyone to steal her away or give her away to be stolen. It would only be the two of us journeying together as in the start. Only me and my Flagoon..."

A tense pause hung in the air as Amelia whispered a realization. "He loves her..."

Gourry's face was downcast for a long moment, until he finally looked up with tears in his eyes. "I understand, Gorun Nova. I understand that you can never forgive me and I truly can never ask you to. I treated you terribly and I-"

"No, Gourry!" Lina interrupted. "You didn't know! Gorun Nova, you're being unfair. Gourry didn't know how you felt. He would have treated you differently if he even knew you could feel."

"Lina, stop," Lina was shocked into silence at Gourry's command; he had never used such a forceful tone with her. His eyes softened and he added, "please, Lina, don't defend me, I don't deserve it and it'll only make me feel worse. Gorun Nova, it is true that I didn't realize how you felt, but then, no one was there to tell Flagoon about your true nature and yet she knew, she sensed it. She had a kind and open heart that I lacked. I understand that I am beyond forgiveness because I separated you from the one you love and poisoned her sweet memories with my cruel ignorance. Please, Gorun Nova, take only me and let the others go."

"Unacceptable," Gorun Nova snarled, "you will all die!"

"No we won't!" Lina yelled back. "I won't let you hurt Gourry or any of my friends. The captain is ready for combat, energy output at maximum! I won't let Gorun Nova keep hurting Gourry. Take my energy, Zelas, Xellos, take it all, take all my energy and turn that chunk of scrap metal into space dust!"

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 069: Sorrow! Fear The Fear Itself

Zelas knew that Gorun Nova must have some kind of plan, perhaps something involving the portal or the near by planet, but she wasn't going to back out now. There was only one more minion of Darkstar left to defeat. Canal had actually honored her decision to be the one to defeat them, perhaps more so because the battles would hopefully awaken her true power more than anything else. This was the last obstacle before the time came to face Darkstar. "The main psy-canon is online!" Zelas eagerly announced.

"I can still give more power, take it all!" Lina desperately called out, surrounded by a red hot aura that was more so protective than angry.

'Defend and attack at once,' Zelas reminded herself. Lina's energy would be a harsh hit on a dark lost ship.

"No, don't!" Gourry pleaded, but it was too late.

"Fire!" Zelas shot her main psy-canon at Gorun Nova.

The large blast of light was followed by many smaller ones. "The new secondary psy-laser system is working, rain of stars!" Xellos cheered, making a pose as he called out the name of the attack, which was all just for show.

"I blame it on those TV shows..." Zelas quietly commented, referring to Xellos' outburst.

Yet when the light finally faded away, Gorun Nova was unharmed. "How can this be?" Lina demanded to know, while Gourry let out a breath of relief.

"I'll tell you how, since there's nothing you can do about it anyway." Gorun Nova revealed the truth behind his secret plans, confident that they could not be stopped. "I spread many microchips in this portal and by doing so I can control it to an extent, or at least this side of it. Don't even think about trying to deactivate them, there are too many and the interference of chaotic energy won't allow any hacking. The portal will receive all the energy you throw at me, redirecting it into your world. In other words, you just attacked your own world!"

"Oh no!" Amelia exclaimed in worry.

"We could be hurting innocent people," Filia realized in horror.

Zelas shrugged, "do you really think a monster lord will be concerned with a little collateral damage?" She disregarded the possible consequences of that last blast. That energy wasn't all that dark, but it was enough to overload most living creatures with sheer power and kill them, but really, it's not a big deal. Though some of my minions here may think it is, it doesn't bother me and it won't stop me from fighting!"

"I expected that," Gorun Nova countered. "Go ahead and keep firing away. You'll just run out of energy, you won't be able to touch me. Eventually, I will win and you will all die. I'll make it especially painful for you, Gourry Gabriev!"

"No you won't!" Lina argued defensively, gritting her teeth and glaring, her aura turning more aggressive. "Zelas, Xellos, let's try this again, but with everyone's energy." Protests were heard throughout the now crowded control room. "Just take their energy, I know you can. I'm your main minion-"

"I am!" Xellos felt the need to interrupt.

"Alright," Lina was certainly not in the mood for a petty argument at the time. "I'm your second main minion after Xellos, and I'm saying I'm willing to give you my energy and everyone's. Take it; I'll still back you up afterwards. We can overload those chips before they redirect the power into our world and end this cowardly trick once and for all!"

"Lina, that's enough out of you, young lady," Light scolded.

"Settle down and calm yourself, Lina. If your sister could say something now, she would be so upset," Labyrinthine warned.

Lina shivered visibly as she saw the crescent moon cube vibrating from the corner of her eye. "I... I'm just trying to keep us all safe!"

"You're freaking out," Zelgadis stated bluntly.

"Then what can we do?" Lina retorted in a huff.

"I know you a rarely," Amelia began, "okay, more like never," she amended, "consider the damage your power will do to the area around the battle field, but this time the range is too big and the effects too unpredictable."

"Amelia is right," Filia agreed. "Let's come up with a strategy here before we accidentally blow up Seyruun or Zephilia or Zoana or some other place."

Lina took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. "What can we do? Go on the retreat again and strategize one more time?"

"No," Zelas firmly decided. "I will not retreat. I will see this battle to the very end and I will win. Overloading the chips is a good idea and that's all we have for now." Compartments opened all around the walls of the control room with many strong cables and mechanical claws springing out of them. "Either you give me your energy willingly, or I take it from you."

"Not this again!" Filia exclaimed in alarm.

"This type of forceful energy won't work. Gorun Nova is a dark lost ship, he can absorb negative psy-energy, so even if you manage to take out the microchips, then you won't be able to gather our energy for an effective attack," Milgazia tried to reason.

"It doesn't matter; I'll just use Lina's well intended concern for the finishing blow," Zelas decided. The claws and cables wrapped themselves around the crew that desperately tried to break free.

"Wait, Zelas!" Lina tried to stop her, but was captured along with the others. "Your second main minion tells you to wait!" She insisted desperately. "Milgazia has a point; I too will only be able to produce negative energy under these circumstances. This strategy won't work, we can't risk our world!" Back to her senses after her outburst, Lina tried to reason with Zelas. "Didn't you want to rule our world? That won't be possible if it's destroyed. Besides, we won't have any happy thoughts left in us to throw out against Darkstar and then you won't be able to get your revenge!"

Onyx closed her eyes, not struggling against her captivity. "There is nothing to fear, but we must fear anyway."

"What do you mean there's nothing to fear?" Filia exclaimed. "What if they blow up Dragon's Peak, Phythan and your friends are there, don't you care?"

Zelas chuckled, "for a wallflower, she can be pretty perceptive."

"Having problems with your crew, Zelas?" Gorun Nova taunted. "Hurry up and make your move if you dare!"

Zelas grinned with wicked cunning. "I already have... Isn't there someone missing from our little team?"

They all automatically looked around to see who it was. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Milgazia, Onyx, Light, Labyrinthine, the Luna cube and of course, Zelas, were all there. "Raw garbage?" Filia called out, her voice sounding more so confused than angry.

"Special delivery for Gorun Nova!" Xellos appeared on the screen next to Gorun Nova's projection. "We may not be able to hack into the microchips inside the portal, but we can hack into you!"

Gorun Nova's hologram flickered as he glared at Xellos and growled, "get out!" The minion of Darkstar tried to clean out the viral invasion from his systems, but it was futile.

"You should be thanking me," Zelas mocked sarcastically. "After all, I'm giving all this dark energy to you." She released the crew from her hold.

"I see, now what Onyx said makes sense," Milgazia realized. "You were trying to push us to produce negative energy, but why?"

"I only figured out her plan that far," Onyx admitted. The quiet elf could be pretty observant if she tried.

"An explanation would be nice right about now," Lina impatiently added. "What's this about giving our energy to Gorun Nova? That's dark energy, even if you avoid having the microchips redirect the energy by transferring it directly to Gorun Nova, it'll just make him stronger."

"I'm not transferring it to his energy storage systems," Zelas revealed. "Xellos' special delivery will transfer all the dark energy into Gorun Nova's core CPU and infect his main AI programming like a virus. In other words, I'll be doing to him what dark lost ships usually do to their captive captains, filling his mind with pain and fear!"

"Would that really work on a dark lost ship?" Zelgadis wondered.

"In this case yes, and it was Amelia who came up with the idea," Zelas chuckled mockingly.

"Me?" Amelia nearly squeaked in surprise. "But I didn't even realize what your plan was until you told us," the advocate of justice admitted.

"You said Gorun Nova loved Flagoon," Zelas reminded. "If that is so, if he can feel love then..."

Xellos returned to the Great Beast and saluted as his hologram was once again projected inside the vessel's control room. "Mission accomplished!"

"As I thought," Zelas looked wickedly victorious and Xellos' eyes opened for a split second with a very monster-like look in them. "Gorun Nova's time being exposed to our world and its magic changed him. He is no longer purely a dark lost ship. He is capable of positive emotions too. Besides, Gorun Nova himself confirmed it. He spoke as if he really cared for Flagoon. He felt used by the Gabriev family. He felt betrayed and abandoned by Gourry. He is not immune to such emotions. Even if he wields the power of darkness because of his original form, there is also light in him. It is a light that he never learned to control and will be his downfall. If Gorun Nova feels love as a human does, then he can also feel heartbreak, pain, fear and sorrow!"

Gorun Nova's holographic projection flickered continuously the whole time; in a mess of static with no defined shape. Then finally, it stopped, but the expression upon his face was of pure pain. "Any creature that has emotions can be used as fuel for a lost ship," Xellos elaborated. "Though many mistakenly assume it, no one ever said that the creature had to be fully or even partially biological. Gorun Nova has become a truly sentient being that overcame his initial limitations. He is able to produce his own energy too, but he never learned how to take advantage of that. Now he is trapped in the power he thought was his."

"This is..." Amelia felt like she was choking on her words. "This is too harsh for justice. He knows what it's like now." She closed her eyes and tried to block out Gorun Nova's pained voice. "He knows what it was like for the people who had their lives drained away by the dark lost ships. He knows their pain and he has felt pain of his own, isn't this enough?"

"This is more than enough," Filia agreed. "Gorun Nova has already atoned, he has already learned what pain is even before now. He knew joy; he knew sorrow, now he needs to know mercy."

"I think that what they're trying to say is, release him," Zelgadis summarized.

"I can't," Zelas replied with an evil grin still present on her face. "I didn't think you'd actually want to rescue the enemy, so I didn't think of a counter strategy for this."

A chorus of alarmed, "what?" Were heard.

"Xellos, do something!" Lina demanded.

"I can't do anything," Xellos truthfully admitted, his cheerful smile still in place. "I'm not lying; I honestly can't help Gorun Nova. Even if I tried to clean out the negativity from his systems, a chain reaction has already been set in motion and Gorun Nova himself keeps producing more negative energy that leaks into his core programming. The only one who can conquer this pain is Gorun Nova himself." The purple haired hologram explained. "Although..." he added thoughtfully, "it doesn't look like he's doing very well at that task."

"At this rate, his systems will overload and crash in such a way that his AI programming will be corrupted," Zelas concluded. "In other words, he'll be ruined and destroyed. His vessel will still be there, but his mind will be shattered and the one known as Gorun Nova will be nothing but a lifeless corpse."

"No..." Lina whispered in regret. Gourry would surely be devastated. "I'm so sorry, Gourry, if only I had... Gourry?" The redhead frantically looked around for the blond swordsman but couldn't see him anywhere. "Where did Gourry go? He was here a minute ago."

Xellos shrugged, "I don't know, maybe he had to go to the bathroom."

"Who could think about going to the bathroom at a time like this?" Lina shouted, losing her temper.

"Actually, if you had been paying attention," Zelas pointed out. "You would have noticed that he snuck off while we were talking, put on a space suit and left the ship. Look," Zelas zoomed in on the image on Gorun Nova's side. "He's boarding Gorun Nova right now."

"What!?" Lina screamed in alarm.

"Oh, relax, he's just fine," Xellos laughed. "Gorun Nova is in no condition to attack, so even if Gourry is inside the vessel, he's not in any real danger. Unless of course he manages to do something particularly stupid, but I can't imagine what that would be."

"This is Gourry we're talking about, he can!" Lina screeched urgently. Though it sounded like an insult to Gourry's intellect, everyone knew that Lina was only saying it out of care and concern.

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Meanwhile, Gourry managed to pry open one of the entry hatches to Gorun Nova and quickly made his way to the control room. He arrived at the control room where the flickering hologram of Gorun Nova was the image of suffering. He didn't know what button to press to help. He hadn't even been able to learn how to use that machine that could make cappuccinos that Zelas had in her vessel. He reached for the complex controls anyway, but quickly withdrew his hand when sparks flew from the panel's surface. It didn't look like the controls would be responsive anyway. The whole vessel shock and short-circuited. It was not enough to cause a chain reaction that would make Gorun Nova blow up or severely endanger Gourry's life, but it was a sign that the AI didn't have a lot of time left.

Looking around the room, Gourry spotted the captain's chair with some strange device on top of it. It looked like that machine Lina forced him to sit under when the girls dragged him and the other guys to a, modern day by over-world standards, hair salon. Yet he had a feeling that this machine had to do more than just dry his hair, which was already dry to begin with anyway. He took off his helmet but found he couldn't breathe and put it back on. "Gorun Nova, listen to me! I'm going to try to take some of the pressure away from you. Transfer the negative energy that is hurting you to me. Do it quick, I don't know for how long I can hold my breath!" Gourry took in a big breath of air and took off his helmet so that he could fit his head into the machine at the captain's chair.

xoxox xox xoxox

Simultaneously at the Great Beast's control room, Xellos announced, "we have a visual! You are watching an exclusively hacked control room camera image live from Gorun Nova only on Xellos TV!"

"Looks like you were right, Lina," Zelas sounded rather amused. "Gourry did find something stupid to do to put himself in mortal danger. Not only did he take off his helmet, which he needs to breathe as I doubt Gorun Nova will be inclined to turn on the oxygen any time soon, but he basically surrendered his life by getting himself into that machine. Gorun Nova can forcibly drain his energy completely now. Unlike with Light, Labyrinthine and Onyx, whose energy was transmitted to Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis from afar as part of a trap, this time it's a direct connection, so Gorun Nova can kill Gourry any time."

"And that's exactly what Gorun Nova wanted to do!" Lina panicked. "Gourry, get yourself out of there, you stupid jellyfish!" Receiving no response, Lina wasted no time in heading for the door. "Open up the nearest exit, I'm going after him!"

"No space suit? Gourry took the black one, but the purple one is still there," Xellos reminded.

"I can levitate myself over there faster than I'll run out of air. Besides, I need to get the oxygen back on for Gourry anyway, so I might as well do that for myself at the same time. Now let me out!" Lina insisted with great urgency, ready to try to break out of the Great Beast if she had to.

"Fine..." Zelas opened the door and closed it again after Lina had exited. Noting that all eyes had turned to her, she added with a nonchalant huff, "what? Do all of you want to go too? It's not like Lina can force Gorun Nova to release Gourry and neither can any of you. Terminating their connection abruptly in such an unstable condition would probably just kill Gourry anyway. His only way out is if Gorun Nova releases him." She made a small pause while everyone took a moment to look even more worried than before. "Xellos?" Zelas quietly prompted.

"Yes, Lord Beast Master, it is done," Xellos informed.

"What is?" Milgazia asked with slight suspicion.

"Oh nothing, I just told Xellos via direct system message to go hack into Gorun Nova's life support system and turn it on," Zelas stated as if she was speaking of a very unimportant detail. "With his defenses down, I knew the hacking wouldn't take long. Besides, I don't think even Lina could have figured out a way to get the oxygen going on time to prevent Gourry and herself from asphyxiating. This way at least she'll survive."

"And him too," Amelia added. "There is something we can do to help! Just as our negative energy overwhelmed and defeated Gorun Nova, our positive energy can save Gourry and maybe even save Gorun Nova!" The ever positive justice loving princess exclaimed, her optimism never ending. "Let's do it everyone, think happy thoughts!"

"Hey, hold it! If you must think positive, stick to fiery bravery, that's the most tolerable," Zelas protested.

"Positive feelings are positive feelings," Amelia reasoned. "Alright everyone, focus on your fiery courage, don't be afraid for Lina, Gourry or Mr. Gorun Nova. We must be brave and believe that they will be alright!" The Seyruun princess cheered.

xoxox xox xoxox

At the same time, Lina realized as she reached Gorun Nova's control room where Gourry was, that she could breathe. She hurried to Gourry, who seemed to be unconscious with an expression of pain on his face that broke her heart all over again. She was about to pull him out from the machine over his head, when Xellos' voice from the speakers suddenly interrupted her actions and made her pause with a warning. "That's not a good idea."

"Xellos? What do you mean? Speak, there's no time!" Lina urged.

"If you forcibly disconnect Gourry from Gorun Nova while he is so unstable, it might kill Gourry, or at least put him in a coma for the rest of his life," Xellos cheerfully informed. "But don't worry, Lina, we have some positive energy to help things along and ease his pain. Remember to thank us later, as this type of energy is still rather unpleasant for Lord Beast Master and me to handle, even if we are strong enough to withstand it."

"Can that energy free Gourry?" Lina asked hopefully, though in the back of her mind she knew it couldn't be that easy.

"It will only delay the damage," Xellos admitted. "The only one who can free Gourry now is Gorun Nova."

To be Continued

Slayers: Chaos

Episode 070: Human! A Quest From The Heart

In the world of his nightmares, Gourry found himself floating in an endless darkness. "Gorun Nova!" He called out as loud as he could. "Gorun Nova, where are you?"

"Why did you come here?" A man began to appear covered in dark mist, though he was different from the one Gourry had seen before. His long hair was a pale blue with bits of white that shone like the light of the legendary sword wielded in ages past by Flagoon. His eyes were a deep dark blue with a sharp gaze. He wore blue armor as a knight of a far away kingdom from a story book.

"Gorun Nova... This is your original mental form, isn't it?" Gourry guessed. "It's good to see you can still respond. Please hurry up and transfer the dark energy to me. Clean it out of your being before it consumes you!" The blond swordsman urged.

"Why do you wish for your demise?" Gorun Nova huffed bitterly. "If it is atonement that you seek, know that throwing away your life is not going to save mine. This pain... I can't bear it, I can't overcome it. My systems are failing me. At least I get to kill you myself..."

Gourry didn't flinch; he didn't even slightly look away. He just kept staring ahead at Gorun Nova's image among the dark mist that consumed them both. His eyes were kind and compassionate, not at all angry despite the threats directed at him. Then he asked, simply and without pressure, "are you sure this is what you want? You want to kill me instead of fighting to the end? You choose revenge over victory? If that is really what you want without a doubt, then I won't resist. I didn't know her like you did, Flagoon. But somehow, I don't think she would have given up if she was in your shoes."

"Stop it!" Gorun Nova yelled with frustration. "Don't look at me with those eyes. Don't look at me with the same gaze as her. You're dishonorable, you're unworthy, you're..." Gorun Nova's mental image flickered and began to fade. "You're still her descendant... I couldn't have her to myself, but I swore I would protect them. I remember now, I silently promised Flagoon that I would protect her descendants and she... She asked them to treat the sword of light with respect and cherish it. She was looking out for me as always."

"That's true," Gourry nodded with a slight smile. "Flagoon was really amazing. It was those who came after her that forgot to honor her wish. I really am sorry for failing you and failing Flagoon. But you can't let that sorrow end your life. Gorun Nova, be strong, make Flagoon proud!" The light energy that was placed into Gorun Nova from the others, gravitated towards Gourry like a thousand tiny stars lighting up the darkness, but not extinguishing it, rather balancing it. "Darkness and light is fusion and fusion is life. I don't really understand it, but that's what I heard once, so hold on to your life!" Gourry reached his hand out to Gorun Nova.

"You... you really are willing to give your life to save me? I thought Flagoon would be the only one willing to protect me like I protected her..." Reluctantly, Gorun Nova reached for Gourry's hand and shook it as a sign of friendship and forgiveness.

"You saved my life many times," Gourry smiled fondly at the memories. "It's about time I thank you, even if I fade away."

"Gourry! Gourry!" Lina's voice echoed faintly as if far away.

"Lina..." Gourry closed his eyes as his mind faded away into nothingness. "Goodbye Lina, I hope you find someone worthy to stand by your side."

"Idiot," Gorun Nova suddenly grunted, causing Gourry's eyes to snap open in surprise. "I can sense emotions," the once sword of light explained. "Lina has been in love with you for a long time. She never stopped loving you, so it doesn't make sense that you're so heartbroken over her."

Gourry's eyes went wide as he recovered his energy with new hope. "Are you serious? But she dumped me and she yelled and... and... Maybe it was just a random temper tantrum after all, only that it lasted longer than usual. I shouldn't have given up. Lina! Lina, I'm coming back for you!"

Gorun Nova stared in puzzlement, "where does all that energy come from? How could you still be so strong all of a sudden?"

"It's because I know I'll get to see Lina again and that gives me hope," Gourry smiled radiantly. "You should have hope too because you'll get to see Flagoon again when she reincarnates. I'll take you back to my world and make sure no one ever disrespects you. I'll make sure you have a life of your own!"

"To see Flagoon again..." Gorun Nova thought of her. "Even the smallest hope of that is worth striving for."

xoxox xox xoxox

"Gourry!" Lina exclaimed as Gourry finally woke up and sat up on the chair, poking his head out of the strange device it was in. She hugged him, glad to have him back alive. "Stupid jellyfish, doing something so reckless!"

"I had to, I couldn't abandon my friend." Gourry held Lina close, like he did before the misunderstanding and perhaps with even more fervor than before.

"Your friend?" Lina looked at Gourry curiously, tilting her head to the side and blinking. "You mean..." A theory formed in her mind.

"Gorun Nova," Gourry confirmed.

The hologram of Gorun Nova's original knightly form appeared. He was no longer a flickering mess of shapeless static, but now a perfectly defined realistic image. "Gourry... You really do have Flagoon's honor after all."

xoxox xox xoxox

Watching the scene unfold on the main screen of the Great Beast's control room, Amelia squealed with joy. "Friendship conquers any challenge!"

"Shut up before I blow up Gorun Nova and kill you all!" Zelas growled.

"You always get cranky when things work out nicely," Milgazia observed. It was not the first time this had happened.

Making no effort to deny it, Zelas reminded. "Yes, and the last time I was really cranky I decided it was dragon hunting season, remember?" That was enough to make Milgazia frown at the memories of his fellow dragons being hunted for Zelas' cuisine. Not to mention her creepy culinary interest in making him an ingredient of her gourmet cuisine one day. "Ah, it looks like Lina and Gourry are returning. I'm glad they remembered, or at least Lina remembered that were watching and didn't turn on the mush too high. I'm disgusted enough with all this friendship in the air as it is."

Lina and Gourry returned to the Great Beast and Gorun Nova's hologram was projected there as well. He was still shaken from all that had happened, but with an encouraging nod from Gourry, he began to speak. "Beast Master Zelas Metallium... Though we have been enemies in the past when I felt I had no choice but to serve Darkstar, I want that to change. Darkstar wants to destroy the worlds, including Flagoon's world where she is destined to be reborn. I thought that all I could do was get my revenge on Gourry, but I know now he is not my enemy. Darkstar is the real enemy. Please allow me to join your team!"

Zelas paused for a moment as if in deep thought. Everyone assumed the gesture was just for show and that she would immediately accept Gorun Nova's offer. After all, the more allies they had the better and, from Zelas' perspective, the more pawns she had the better. Yet her response shocked everyone as she replied, "no way."

The surprise didn't last long, as all those present assumed that Zelas would come up with a list of demands for Gorun Nova in exchange for allowing him to fight by her side. Gorun Nova himself expected as much and was quick to ask about it. "What do I have to do to prove myself?"

"You don't have to prove yourself, I can sense your emotions and I know your intentions are true," Zelas revealed.

"Then why?" Gorun Nova asked in confusion.

"You'll only be throwing your life away," Zelas answered with seriousness. "I'm certain that Darkstar can easily defeat you and even if you can be upgraded and improved, there is simply no time for you to catch up to the level that Canal and I will be fighting at. You'll be a burden to us." Gorun nova was about to protest, but Zelas continued before he could speak further. "However..." She made a dramatic pause that left everyone in suspense, just the way she liked it. Beast Master grinned victoriously, "I will make you a deal you can't refuse."

Milgazia shot Zelas a suspicious look that she ignored, remaining focused on Gorun Nova's reaction. He looked at the monster lord turned lost ship before him and nodded. "I am willing to listen, but I can't make any promises until I do."

"Then hear this," Zelas' face conveyed the absolute surety of victory. "Give your power as a lost ship to me and in exchange I will turn you into a human. Then I will take you to my world where you can live as a part of it and maybe even find Flagoon's reincarnation if she's there. If not, then at the end of your human life, you will return to the Sea of Chaos and be reborn in the world in which you died, obtaining another and another chance to find Flagoon's reincarnation for as long as the current cycle of the worlds continues."

Gorun Nova stared in surprise as gasps of shock filled the air around him. "That sounds far too good to be true."

"It isn't," Zelas laughed mockingly. "You'd be giving away your power to live the life of an ordinary mortal. You can train as a sorcerer, swordsman or both, but you will have to work for it as a human. If you ask me, it is a terrible deal. Yet you'll be getting what you want, even if your desires make little sense to me."

"If I make a pact with you, then I wouldn't really be a human. There's always a catch with monster pacts. I was in your world long enough to know that and more." Gorun Nova cautiously continued the discussion.

"Who ever said anything about a pact?" Zelas laughed. "Don't you see? This deal is so very easy that it doesn't even require trickery. In fact, I'll make you a different offer; an offer in which you will have more control. This will be a deal that relies on you keeping your word more so than me. Would that make you feel safe enough?"

"It would," Gorun Nova admitted. "But what's in it for you?"

"Your power, as I said before. It is the same deal, only that I'll explain it to you beforehand." Zelas grinned with mischief, yet it was not the kind of mischief that came with trickery. Her features held no trickery, no deception, only sincere amusement.

"I'm listening," Gorun Nova finally voiced.

Zelas then explained her business proposition. "I know of a method that you can use to become human. I don't even need to be the one to perform it. It could be Canal or someone else of your choosing. I will tell you the secret and in exchange you must give me your word that if you are satisfied with the information after you've had the opportunity to confirm it, you will give me your power as a lost ship. I will ask you to be swift in making your choice, but if you find my guidance to be useless, you are not obligated to keep your end of the bargain."

"That's it? That's all? No loopholes?" Gorun Nova tried to think about it more and more, but he found that even over-analyzing Zelas' words didn't reveal any new hidden information. "Very well, if I find your information to be truly useful, I will give you my power."

"Alright then, it's a deal. I'm not going to request any formalities, your verbal promise is good enough, no pacts, no magic or its equivalent, no contracts, just the witnesses you see here," Zelas agreed. "Now for the information, as you already know, when a creature from one world travels to another and their kind does not exist in that other world, the aforementioned creature will take on a different form. You have experienced that yourself. The form that each being takes is linked to the form they had when they crossed from one world to another."

Gorun Nova nodded in understanding. "All of those are known and established facts."

"Glad we're on the same page so far," Zelas commented with the mocking sarcasm that was not unusual for her. "On to the interesting part. Let's take Zelgadis for example-"

"I'm not sure I like that," the chimera turned cyborg protested.

"Deal with it," Zelas ignored his complaints and continued. "Zelgadis was a chimera in our world, but a very particular one due to the continuous failed attempts at a cure that he was subjected to. He was not like the chimeras of this world which come as a result of more calculated scientific methods, rather than magic mixed with alchemy. The magic energies in him were too much for the over-world to properly interpret as something of this world and thus he was converted into something else. The same goes for Filia and Milgazia. They too gained mechanical components when they were brought to this world, albeit at a different level, because their origin was different. Still, they were not similar enough to the dragon-like alien creatures of this world to be converted into that."

"It seems that technology is how the over world interprets what it is not familiar with." The lecture was getting interesting, though it had so far been a review of what was already known. "Zelgadis is able to remove his armor in this world which represents his chimera parts. Underneath he is a human as he was before he was turned into a chimera in our world. Is this correct, Zelgadis."

"Yeah, that's right, and I see where you're going with this," Zelgadis realized. "But I won't spoil it, so you go on."

"A wise choice, you better not try to steal my thunder," Zelas half joked and half threatened. "Zelgadis' plan is to leave his mechanical armor behind after this adventure is over and return to our world as a human. Taking his chimera components apart in our original world was extremely difficult, but here in the over-world, because of the form they took, it seems too easy. I believe Zelgadis intends to test his human transformation theory as soon as possible and I'm sure he wouldn't mind sharing the results with you."

"I get it!" Lina suddenly realized. "Then that means-"

"Quiet, Lina, I'm delivering the punch line!" Zelas interrupted defensively and Lina decided to do the smart thing and quiet down for the time being. "If you change your form in this world, what you become in our world will change too. There are no starships in my world, so you took on the form of a weapon of light, the kind of thing that the legends of our world are made of, as opposed to the legends of this world. You were weapons and not astral beings because you were originally built to be used as weapons, as practical tools of battle. By the time you overcame that condition and developed a true sentience of your own beyond your programming, your form in my world had already been established by the shape you took during your initial arrival there. However, if you change your shape here, when you cross between the worlds, your form should be changed to something that suits you better at present."

Gorun Nova took a moment to let all the new information sink in, it was all logical from what he could tell. "That actually makes a lot of sense. I see now why my word was enough. If your guidance really leads me to join the human race of Flagoon's world, than I'll be so grateful I'll want to give you my power. Besides, you're fighting against Darkstar, it makes sense that you should have it. This will very well benefit us both, but..." There was the clear presence of doubt on Gorun Nova's face and voice.

"What is it now?" Zelas was starting to get impatient.

"I want to fight Darkstar. I can't just hide away in Flagoon's world and wait for her without taking the opportunity to fight for that world when it needs me the most!" Gorun Nova declared with great determination.

"Then join my crew and fight with the power of your mind. Having an extra source of psy-energy won't hurt," Zelas decided. "I can make it work even if you are an android in this world."

"If you can promise to let me join your crew, then you have a deal!" Gorun Nova enthusiastically agreed.

"Great, then it's settled. Let's start by constructing an android body for you that can hold your full memory. I've visited many planets with great technological advancements and stored information from each of them, plus anything that's not in my databases we can look up in the ever convenient massive digital library of the over-world, the Internet," Zelas concluded. "Is everyone in agreement?" She threw a pointed look at Milgazia, who had been giving her suspicious glances the whole time.

A chorus of "agreed" was heard throughout the ship, including Milgazia himself. For one, there wasn't much of a loop to a deal with a monster, even if it was because of the special circumstances that they were facing with their upcoming battle with Darkstar. Yet the fight was a lot closer than they thought...

"Well then, let's check out this portal. Labyrinthine, Light and Onyx, oh yes, and the paperweight too, I'm assuming you're all going back to keep an eye on our world. We can't let the place fall apart or else there really won't be much left of it for me to rule over after I'm done beating up Darkstar." Zelas spoke with confidence as if it was an assured certainty, even if the odds were terribly against them. She wondered if the Swordbreaker had fared any better with the upgrades, while the Great Beast had received a lot more repairs then actual upgrades. "By the way, paperweight, you owe me for not destroying you here and now."

The crescent moon cube that contained Luna's soul glowed and pulsated as if saying 'we'll discuss this later.'

"Milgazia, you should stay in our world as well, you've tagged along pestering me for long enough and I find you to be terribly unpleasant." Zelas decided with a somewhat humorous pout.

"Likewise," Milgazia half smiled. "Although I'd rather stay and keep you out of trouble, I think you'll be too busy to cause too much trouble anyway and someone needs to take care of things back in our world. For all we know, pandemonium could be on the verge of breaking out."

Zelas nodded, "and I don't want to miss it, so make sure to delay the mayhem until I get there. The rest of you can go back for a quick visit if you must. Gorun Nova, you should be able to fit through the portal just fine in your new android body when it's finished. Although it seems I won't be able to get through this portal, with all my power, my astral, or rather digital, body is too large, not to mention the Great Beast itself. I have no choice but to wait here. Xellos, I want you to take a look at how things are in our world, visit Wolf Pack Island and have a quick meeting with Neuro and Zenki. Report back to me swiftly."

"Yes, Lord Beast Master!" Xellos happily exclaimed. It seemed that things were finally looking up. The five lost ships that served Darkstar; Bodigar, Nezard, Galveira, Ragudo Mezegis and Gorun Nova were finally out of the picture. Four of them had been destroyed and the last one had joined their ranks. Now only the final preparations lay ahead before the battle against Darkstar.

To be Continued

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