WUFEI: I wish the damned onnas would just finish this
SPIKE (slapping him on the back): Look on the bright side, will
ya? At least the torture is over and done with!
torture, maybe! But my ‘Fei is floating around in Karthan’s
[Karthan comes out of the computer room.]
KARTHAN: I didn’t
do it on purpose. And what’s wrong with my body? I happen to like
DUO: While I’m sure it’s very nice for a dwarf, it’s not my ‘Fei’s!
Heero! Mission! Make the onnas give our ‘Fei back his own body!
(wincing): Duo, have you lost your mind? I admit, I’ll do anything for you, but
I think this is above and beyond the call of duty!
DUO: Do it or meet the
couch on a permanent basis!
KRASHNARK: Ow... I have to feel for Heero.
No-win situation there.
DEATHSCYTHE: I’ll handle it. Duo, I’ve been
talking to Christy. Wufei is
going to get his own body back... so why
don’t you tell Heero to abort this mission, before I’m forced to collect his
DUO (eyes wide): Do you really think they would...?
Deathscythe, Krashnark and Spike nod emphatically.]
WUFEI: Do you
honestly want to go back to just a twosome, Duo?
DUO: ‘Scythe... Christy
said they’ll put ‘Fei back? Really?
DEATHSCYTHE: Yes, my little mortal,
she promised. If nothing else, the onnas do
keep their promises.
(muttering) Occasionally they keep those promises in sick, twisted ways, but
DUO: Okay. Heero, abort
HEERO: Thank god...
DEATHSCYTHE: You’re welcome, Heero...
Demon of Justice
“I’ll explain, and find some way to
get the others loose,” Vaijon said, grimacing in frustration as he looked down
at his burned hand. Damn it, why did I grab that damned chain with my
sword hand?! Never mind the fact that I couldn’t have known it would cripple me,
I should have known better than to put my weapon down in the middle of a
“You have something else to worry about.”
“I noticed,” the
demon in Karthan’s body said grimly, turning to walk towards the approaching
cultists. “I could wish they’d taken a few more minutes to notice what was going
on! I’ll try to keep them occupied and away from you,” he added, shooting a
quick glance back over his shoulder as colours began to flicker in the air
around him, forming into shadowy images. A taller, slender form was visible
rising above Karthan’s stocky frame for just an instant, dark eyes glittering
dangerously before they were hidden behind red and blue armour.
swallowed, eyes widening further. “That was Sir Wufei, wasn’t it?” he asked,
voice slightly higher-pitched than normal.Well, that makes explaining
what’s going on a lot simpler!
“Yes, it was,” Vaijon confirmed, looking
around for something he could use to pry at the manacles’ locks. “Karthan’s plan
ended up being rather more effective than he’d
Wufei bounced slightly on his heels and
stretched as he strode forwards, trying to quickly accustom himself to the
differences between his and Karthan’s bodies. Shorter arms, shorter legs,
just generally shorter,
he frowned, not trying to send the thought to
Karthan but not trying particularly hard to keep it private either. I won’t
have the reach I’m used to... though that shouldn’t be a factor with a
he added, grinning faintly. He’s certainly fit, and
seems reasonably flexible for a non-martial artist, but I should still avoid
doing any really extreme moves--
I’d appreciate it,
Karthan told him
dryly. I’ve seen the things you do when you’re practicing alone, and I don’t
even want to think about what some of those flips and kicks would do to
me! I like my hip joints in their sockets, thank you very much.
start with something simple, then,
Wufei said soothingly, well aware that it
wasn’t convincing. There seemed to be a bubble of gleeful humour welling up in
his chest, prodding him to say or do something reckless, and he spared a moment
to wonder if that was how Duo felt when he pulled his most outrageous pranks.
(--reaction to sudden relief from pain? anticipation of revenge? whatever,
Karthan sounded rather suspicious.
What do you mean by ‘simple’?
(--uh-oh, sounds like Gunnar in one of
Grinning wickedly behind Karthan’s beard (--STILL
), Wufei ducked his head and lunged forwards as he reached the
first of the approaching cultists, dodging a wild sword strike. A quick swing of
his arm wrapped the dangling chain around the man’s wrist, and he turned and
yanked, sending the soldier flying over his head with flailing limbs and a
panicked yell. That was simple,
he thought innocently, freeing the chain
with a jerk that left the cultist with a dislocated shoulder and wrenched elbow.
No blood, no mess... simple!
Which makes me wonder why you’re feeling
Wufei dodged another blow, slid smoothly sideways in
between two tall men, and jumped straight up, one foot lashing out to kick one
of them in the face. The blow wasn’t quite as solid as he’d intended (--damn,
didn’t judge the changed leg length right--
), but was still sufficient to
send his target reeling backwards with at least a broken jaw, and gave him the
momentum to flip backwards.
Leaning down to cut
at what he thought
was a low target, the other cultist faltered and
looked up as his short opponent shot upwards and tumbled in midair, twisting his
neck to keep Wufei/Karthan in sight as he/they flipped over him. One short,
muscled arm was suddenly clamped around his head, hand fisted in his hair, and
there was a loud cracking noise as Wufei wrenched his head further around on his
way to the ground.THAT was NOT simple!
Yes it was!
grin widened as he felt Karthan’s shock. Simple, and sloppily executed as
well. If you want complicated, though...
His mental ‘voice’ trailed off as
he concentrated on avoiding his next few opponents, crippling two of them with
well-placed blows, but a wash of stunned amazement from the dwarf’s mind let him
know that some indication of what he
considered ‘complicated’ had leaked
through.You’re insane. It’s the only explanation.
found out that one was even possible? And why did they
Diving deeper into the crowd of increasingly confused
and panicked cultists, Wufei laughed. (--get in close they can’t target us
without hitting each other--
) I’m not insane. Setting my own bones, now
that would be insane!
(--he’d better treat Duo right or I’ll find some
way to get to him--
)Are all of you ‘Gundam riders’ crazy, or is
it just you and--
The banter abruptly stopped as they both zeroed in
on a splash of colour, elaborate robes and bloodstained embroidery standing out
against the duller uniforms. (--there! the priest!--
There was a
brief moment of confusion as Wufei realised he didn’t know whose thought that
had been, but it was swept away by Karthan’s alarm. Get him now! He’s
casting some sort of spell!
----------Serving Sharna may
have its good points, but why does my god have to be so damned stupid?!
We’re worse off now than when he was calling me
Watching the mayhem, the priest clenched his hand around
the hilt of his largest knife, squeezing until his arm shook. Never mind that
now. Thinking like that won’t do us any good even if he doesn’t hear me...
Calling on a tiny trace of the power he’d managed to take from the small demon,
he could see the overlapping souls inside the dwarf’s body. And how did he
manage that?! --No, worry about what to do about it! Hmm... if I take the
chain off the demon’s body to use on them, he’ll be able to return to it, and
we’ll be right back where we started if not worse... but I might be able to
duplicate the spell in a hurry...
I’ll need more power.
“Hald... assist me!” he ordered, turning back towards the scorpion
“My lord!” the acolyte said eagerly, hurrying over. Even in the
middle of a crisis, he took the time to look over his shoulder and smirk at the
other acolytes and underpriests, making sure they saw that he
was the one
being picked out for a special duty. “What do you require of
me?”Smarmy, bootlicking crawler... you’ve always annoyed me.
“Kneel here,” he said, pointing to the spot under the scorpion’s claws, “and
await instructions. I will be able to cast a spell to defeat that dwarf in a
moment, but a second... pair of hands... is needed.”
“Yes, my lord!” Hald
almost tripped in his haste to reach the indicated spot, adjusting his sleeves
fussily and folding his hands into a pose of pious adoration that was slightly
spoilt by his expression of smug superiority. The priest could almost see him
thinking that this was sure to advance his standing.In a way, it
he chuckled to himself, moving to stand behind Hald and starting to
murmur a prayer. My lord Sharna?
=*Get on with
Preoccupied with calculations of his own importance, Hald
didn’t realise exactly which
prayer he was hearing until the priest
yanked his head back and cut his throat.
fine line between ‘pragmatic’ and ‘ruthless’, and if you ask me I’d say he
passed it a long time ago,
Wufei thought coldly, dodging between
attackers and catching a glimpse of the acolyte’s body crumpled at the priest’s
feet. What’s he doing?
Waving bloody hands in the air and chanting,
what’s it look like?!
Karthan shot back, sounding frustrated. Can’t you
get to him any faster?!
I meant, what’s the spell likely to
Wufei growled, white energy crackling briefly around
his/Karthan’s arm as he put a little of his annoyance into a punch and slammed
one of the cultists into the wall with a nasty crunching sound. Do you know
of any tactics that would be appropriate here? And I’m working on it!
probably have a better chance of working out what he’s doing than I do,
Karthan admitted. (--I’m not Uthmar not a Champion not a mage not a demon
can’t do magic and haven’t studied it--
) Whatever it is, he’s aiming it
at us and presumably would like to get us from a distance, so it’s probably
something he can ‘throw’, and spells are apparently easier to aim than ordinary
(--yes well that chain TURNED to get me so in my terms
it’s either ‘seeking’ or ‘terminally guided’--
)--so the only
tactical advice I can offer is ‘get him first’.
That’s what I
Despite what Karthan might have thought, Wufei had actually
been fighting rather conservatively up until then, feeling his way into how best
to use Karthan’s unfamiliar body. He hadn’t tried any moves that were likely to
leave him/them too vulnerable if they failed, and hadn’t been drawing heavily on
the power that came through the link (--links? there were two wonder
) to his Gundam; the strength he’d used to break out of his bonds and
fight so far was what he was starting to think of as ‘normal’, the level of
physical power he could use without thinking about it. Now, however, he reached
out mentally to Nataku and pulled
* * * * *
Krahana’s bloody hells does your father think he’s doing
?!” Terrin asked
incredulously, sparing a moment’s attention from the battle to wave at the
swathe of destruction Cord was carving through the cultists’ ranks. Beside him,
Naiya grumbled something under her breath and sent another well-aimed shot into
“I said, ‘he probably isn’t thinking at all
right now’,” she said disgustedly, reaching for another arrow. “He’s given
himself to the Rage, and quite frankly I can’t think of a stupider time to do
“‘Given himself’-- what?!”
“Keep shooting! He’s gone
berserk. It’s a hradani thing.”
“You usually say that about things like
having a rotten sense of humour and no respect for authority, not-- not whatever
the hell that is!” the hunter sputtered, snapping off a shot almost at
“Oh, those are things that all hradani do, so they’re
,” Naiya said sarcastically. “This is a male
thing, and it’s about as useful as all the other male-only things in life, like
being able to piss standing up, comparing weapon sizes and scratching random
areas in public.”
“Well maybe it’s a male dwarf thing too,” Terrin
grunted, picking off someone who seemed to be giving one of the armsmen a bit
too much trouble. “Uthmar’s gone after him...”
Naiya paused for a moment,
eyeing the blazing-gold dwarf, and then smiled slightly. “Maybe he is thinking
after all... it got one of the Champions fighting seriously, at least! I might
even agree it was a good idea -- if he makes it out of this
Whatever he might have been going to say in reply was lost as a
low, deep grumbling sound shook the ground, making the cart they were standing
on top of tremble.
“What was that?!” he yelped, wobbling off-balance for
“Nataku,” Naiya said triumphantly, pointing to where the giant
figure sat, still motionless but with its eyes glowing greenish-white. “That’s
got to be a good sign!”
* * * * *
White fire burned through
Karthan, mind as well as body, and he would have gasped in shock if he’d still
been in charge of his lungs. This is nothing like that time I was in Nataku!
Is this what Wufei feels every time he draws on the power? It seems like you
could do anything with this, shatter a mountain or break the world-- no
wonder he’s frightened by it sometimes--
The shadowy armour around
him/them was abruptly clearer, easier to see, and several of the attacking men
recoiled in horror as crackling white energy crawled over its surface, outlining
its planes and joints and leaving it seeming almost solid.It
Karthan realised, watching from behind his own eyes as
Wufei swatted a thrown axe out of the air, sending it spinning out of sight
without ever touching it with his/their hand. Or -- no, the chains are
swinging through it, so -- Well it seems as though if Wufei wants it to act as
if it’s solid, everything else goes along with the idea...
couldn’t tell whether any of his thoughts were ‘leaking’ through to Wufei or
not, but if the black-eyed human/demon was distracted it didn’t show. Cultists
dodged or fell or were smashed out of the way as he turned and lunged, sprinting
to reach the priest before he could complete whatever spell he was casting, and
Uthmar could see the strain on the robed man’s face as he raised one hand in a
blocking gesture and Wufei’s fist rose for a strike--
against an invisible barrier, feet away from the altar and the priest standing
For just a moment, there was near-silence as they stared at
each other; then the man’s face relaxed, near-panicked expression sliding away
to be replaced with a triumphant smirk. “I hate to-- *ahem*
I hate to
disappoint you,” he began, clearing his throat to bring his voice back to its
normal smooth, amused tones, “especially after you’ve tried so
kill me, but that should hold you long enough for me to complete--”
frail mental barrier keeping their minds at least partially separated finally
collapsed, overloaded by the sheer volume of energy flowing through them, and a
flood of Wufei’s thoughts and memories poured into Karthan. Reeling under the
onslaught, he could somehow tell that the memories he ‘saw’ weren’t even ones
that Wufei was reliving at the moment; they were simply fragments thrown up out
of the torrent, images that somehow matched or complemented what was happening
right then. In a hundred bright shards of emotion/vision/touch, Wufei took aim
at a target with Nataku’s dragon-arm, and flicked a toggle on his right-hand
--the half-visible armour around his raised right arm
sparked with energy and shifted
, lengthening and arching like an angry
snake about to strike as a fanged head formed around the
--and a hundred memories blazed with liquid fire as white
lightning struck from the shadowy Dragon Fang, crashing through the priest’s
barrier and burning him to bones and charcoal.
* * * * *
shrieked in fury as his priest died, clawing hands raking impotently through the
shimmering image of Karthan/Wufei hanging in front of him. “Curse you, you
bastard mortal, I’ll-- I’ll get a new
priest-Champion, one that can do
the job properly! To hell with your energy, I just want you
Fumbling in his haste, he widened the focus of the scrying
window, flicking his gaze over the panicked cultists. “No-- no-- not him
either-- no-- damn them, don’t any of them match
me?! No-- no-- ah!”
Grinning, he narrowed the window and centred it on one of the scrambling
acolytes, not caring that by doing so he lost sight of his other target
completely. A faint, faltering spark of sickly green bobbed within the muddy
blue of the human’s soul, and Sharna hesitated for a second. Not strong
enough, really. He won’t last... hells with it, I don’t need him to last more
than a moment! Claim him, take control, and fry that upstart mortal
demon, that’s all I need to do!
Concentrating his energy, he focussed
on the green flicker, pouring power and will into it. =*MINE!*=
demanding, not caring that he could already feel the man’s mind breaking around
him. =*BE MINE! And kill him for me!*=
A thin scream came from the
man’s throat, eyes and mouth stretching painfully wide as he spun, one arm
flying out to throw an uncontrolled blast. Light flared around his hand, and
Sharna leaned forward eagerly, starting to widen the window so he could see
--and a semi-substantial dragon’s head flashed into view,
metallic jaws closing over the new ‘priest’ and crushing the life out of him
before he could complete the strike.
“NO!” Almost incoherent, beginning
to panic again, Sharna wrenched the window’s point of view around again,
searching desperately for another spark, someone else he could act through
before all his cultists were killed or fled out of range.
enough,” Krashnark’s voice said from behind him, cold anger making it deeper
than his usual low tenor. “That is more
than enough... little
A faint, strangled noise escaped Sharna’s throat as he spun
around and backed straight through the collapsing scrying window, automatically
pressing back against the wall. “Wh-what are you
doing here?!” he asked
shakily, trying to sound confident and failing miserably. “G-get out! You had
your chance to make him yours and he turned you down, h-he’s fair game now and I
have a right
to destroy him for what he did!”
“That’s not what our
lord father said,” his twin said, advancing. “He told you you could send one
demon after him, and then you were to leave him to me. He said nothing about
giving you a second chance at killing him later. And, more importantly... that’s
not what I
said. Do you remember what I said... little
“Don’t call me that!”
“‘Chang Wufei is my
Krashnark quoted softly, ignoring Sharna’s outburst and pacing forwards until
the two gods were standing almost nose-to-nose. Like that, the resemblance-- and
difference-- between them was obvious: identical features, same hair, same
height even... but their expressions and stances were completely different. One
standing straight, face hard and angry; one cowering back, trembling, hatred and
terror easy to read in his expression.
“Do you remember the rest of what
I said, Sharna?” Krashnark almost whispered, leaning forward and lifting one
hand to gather a fistful of his brother’s tunic, almost gently. “You should,
since I had my hand around your neck at the time and it seemed to make quite an
impression on you, but perhaps I should remind you. I said, ‘You can forget
about your revenge. It’s not
... to happen
snarled, voice rising with each emphasised word as he pulled Sharna forward and
slammed the screaming godling backwards into the wall. “HAVE-- I-- MADE-- MY--
SELF-- CLEAR-- THIS-- TIME?!”
The last blow shattered the wall, chunks of
rubble dissolving into mist as they fell, and Krashnark let go of his brother,
kicking him through the hole into the unshaped area between the Dark gods’
private territories. Sobbing, Sharna scrabbled desperately away on hands and
knees, half-formed items congealing out of the mist around him, spawned by the
strength of his terror. A contemptuous sneer twisted Krashnark’s face as he
followed, crushing warped weapons and instruments of torture under his
“It was about then that I told you what
would happen if you took an active part against him again,” he went on, voice
back to an almost conversational level as he kicked out once more, sending
Sharna tumbling. “I hope you remember that
part, at least. I’d hate to be
trying to kill you without you understanding why.” Pausing for a moment, head
cocked to one side, he considered that sentence and then shook his head. “No.
No, on second thought, I think I’d like trying to kill you under any
circumstances, really. Shall we find out if I’m allowed?”
his feet, Sharna began to run towards one of the other constructions looming in
the distance, the low, spiky-looking one that he recognised as his sister
Krahana’s home. She might-- she might protect me-- she’s not very strong but
she’s very good at blocking us out when she wants to be alone, she can stop him
Stone tentacles rose out of the mist in front of him, curling
around him and closing fast before he could backpedal or dodge. Hammering at
them with hysterical strength and all the power he could call up, he screamed
again in renewed terror as the newly-formed stone, ignoring his attacks and
showing no damage, just curled around his hands and began to crush them. “How
are you doing
this?!” he wailed, twisting around to see Krashnark
strolling calmly towards him. “You’ve got hardly any energy left, I watched you
use it all-- you shouldn’t be able to do anything apart from just hitting
“Oh, doing this doesn’t take energy, Sharna,” Krashnark said with
satisfaction. “It just takes willpower. Something that you’ve never
more of than me.”It’s a start,
he thought with a certain amount
of dark satisfaction, watching Sharna struggle helplessly. A start on what
you owe me, to pay for whatever you’ve put my Wufei through. I’ll collect the
rest after those Light champions get him out of your temple, out where I can
see him, and I can find out exactly what’s happened to him... though,
judging by what little I saw before your window collapsed, he’s doing quite well
* * * * *
Head throbbing, Karthan/Wufei collapsed
to his/their knees, barely aware that the last surviving cultists were
scrambling desperately out the door. The shadowy armour around him/them
flickered and warped, temporarily reshaping itself into something less like
Nataku and more like a real
dragon, before a desperate mental effort
wrenched it back into what part of him/them insisted was the proper shape and
then banished it. Dazed and searching for something stable, a memory that could
be reliably identified as more ‘his’ than the rest, that part of him/them
wondered briefly if such a thing as a ‘real’ dragon did actually
(--I’ve seen one -- they’re only old stories -- faced it down
with my axe and -- river dwelling, guardians of clouds -- two armsmen at my back
-- king lives at the bottom of the ocean -- remember the look in its eyes --
emblem of my clan and -- that was no animal’s expression, it -- I’ve always been
proud to call myself a Dragon, but -- was thinking about whether it could
-- they don’t exist in my world -- take us down and decided -- I can’t be
remembering -- we weren’t worth the trouble -- this, it’s not my
, you id-- sir! There’s no way to tell
what’s happening to him!”
The urgent, hissed voice cut through the
swirling confusion, and he/they looked up into Sir Vaijon’s worried face. “Sir--
sirs?” he said uncertainly, reaching out with his good hand as if he wanted to
support them but wasn’t sure whether they were safe to touch. “Are you-- both--
“No,” he/they choked out together, closing his/their eyes as
the blond knight-probationer seemed simultaneously too tall and precisely in
proportion to him/them. “We-- I-- he can’t-- too close
sleeve of his/their shirt pulled oddly as he/they brought a hand up to rub at
his/their face, and he/they opened his/their eyes again to blink perplexedly at
it. The laced cuff that should have been snug around his/their wrist seemed
slightly too large, somehow, and had slid back up his/their forearm, baring a
couple of inches of skin that should have been hidden, but the sleeve was still
pulled tight from the shoulder--
Part of him/them blinked
uncomprehendingly at that, but another part froze in horror, realising what it
meant, and that difference in reaction gave him/them the momentary separation
he/they needed to pull apart again, becoming separate minds instead of the
blended Wufei/Karthan. With a wrench, Wufei took control of their shared body
again, gasping out what he had to say as quickly as possible.
“I have to
get out of here,” he said urgently, head snapping up to look at Vaijon once
more. Karthan’s beard tickled again, and he seized on the sensation, using it to
remind him of the differences. His body, not mine -- I mustn’t get
used to it, mustn’t get comfortable again!
“Out of him
. Our minds are
running together, we-- I-- we can’t stay separate, and I think the energy I used
is starting to change his body to be more like mine--“
Vaijon’s blue eyes
widened, almost comically. “Ah. Yes. A serious problem. Can you get back into
your own body?”
“No. Still blocked,” Wufei gritted out, head swimming as
Karthan’s sudden realisation/shock/semi-hysterical humour hit him. (--you
mean now I’m really tall for a dwarf?! Torframos save us, for once the
Almerhas of Almerhas has grasped a situation immediately and Gunnar isn’t here
to see it--
) “Don’t have time
for you to find a safe way to get that
thing off me. Have to--”
“You can’t just, ah, hover around bodiless, the
Gods only know what would happen if you tried that! Can you, ahhhh, can you go
to somebody else? Perhaps if you were in a human, there would be less problems
because the body would be slightly more similar--” Vaijon swallowed, hard. “Can
you, ah, possess me
“Can’t. No link... and the more similar the
more dangerous, I think...” He swayed dizzily, sliding perilously close to
becoming ‘them’ again, before he dragged his attention back on target and
focussed grimly on staying ‘him’. “I’ll go to Nataku. I think...” Greenish fire
flickered in his eyes for a moment, and then was gone. “I think they need help
up there, anyway. I’ll block the entrance before I go, stop the remaining
Sharna-worshippers from coming back... get you out a different way... do you
still need help with the chains?” he asked fuzzily, trying to plan with a mind
that seemed to be full of echoing thoughts, his own and Karthan’s, back and
forth and blending and... No!
(--I’m a dwarf,--
came Karthan’s thought, struggling just as hard as him to stay separate. (--I
grew up in Dwarvenhame, in the city of Mountain Heart, under White Horn
Mountain, not in a metal box floating in nothingness! I am not
)Not just a box,
Wufei thought back, a little
wistfully. It had its own sun, and trees, and even fields of flowers...
(--that’s my memory, me, Chang Wufei! I am
“--managed to get one of Jens’s hands loose,”
Vaijon was reassuring him when he managed to focus again, “and he turned out to
be far better at picking locks than myself, so--”
“Not to mention that I
remembered which of those bastards had pocketed the keys after the dog brother
who chained us up handed them over,” Jens put in over his shoulder, “and he was
one of the ones you did in during the fight... uh, m’lord Wufei?” he finished
tentatively, obviously not sure who he was addressing.
managed to say, fighting off a flood of Karthan’s memories triggered by the
sight of the tall armsman’s face. I don’t want to know that he has
three children, I shouldn’t know, that’s not mine--
everyone clear of the door,” he gasped, lifting his right hand and swinging it
towards the entranceway, Nataku’s image flickering back into view around him. “I
have to go now
The Dragon Fang shot out the instant all the
armsmen were clear, warping partway into something with scales that bit
viciously at the rock above the tunnel entrance, ripping at it until it
collapsed and sealed them in. It coiled back rather than folding, shadowy image
settling in loops around the kneeling dwarf, and white sparks crackled over its
surface as it melted into a new shape, briefly becoming Nataku, then Wufei,
before it disappeared.Now how do we get you out of my head?
Karthan thought, sounding slightly tired and definitely stressed. I don’t
have any idea how I got you in!
Wufei suggested dryly.
While I pull on my link to Nataku again, just...
(--how wonderfully specific--
) Let’s get to it
then. I like you, Wufei, but I don’t want to look like you!
* * * *
“This was such a brilliant
idea!” Uthmar yelled at Cord,
not caring that he obviously wasn’t listening. “Absolutely wonderful! What
you come up with next, swimming in full plate armour?! Taking on a
cavalry charge naked, perhaps?!”
The huge hradani ignored him, furry ears
lying flat against his head as he snarled and hacked down another cultist, and
the dwarf Champion swore under his breath. Damned stupid thing to do,
charging into the middle of them like that! I had to call on Torframos’s power
just to stay alive long enough to protect his back, and now we’re cut off-- not
to mention that he probably wouldn’t go back to rejoin the others even if we
had a clear path to them--
Torframos interrupted his thoughts suddenly.--eh? What is it?
Eyes narrowing, Uthmar scanned the battlefield, looking for anything out of the
ordinary. Not that much is really out of the ordinary for such a confused
mess of a fight, that is... Has one of Sharna’s priests turned up, or-- don’t
tell me we’re going to get hit with another demon!
=*No, that’s not
Torframos said tensely, and Uthmar could feel him looking through his
eyes for a different perspective. =*It’s not Sharna’s power I’m feeling, but
I can’t tell exactly what-- Oh. Of course.*=
There was a half-amused,
half-exasperated laugh. =*I should have remembered. If something’s going on,
and I can’t tell what... Wufei’s up to something.*=
Wufei! He’s all
The dwarf dodged sideways, tripping a cultist charging at Cord’s
back and killing him without really paying attention, attention fixed elsewhere.
Where’s he been?! I felt something wrong, just before we were
attacked, but I couldn’t pin it down and I haven’t exactly had time since to
Torframos cut him off again. =*Maybe you should have made
he said slowly, voice distant as he concentrated. =*Something’s
* * * * *
Karthan could feel Wufei straining
against the link holding their minds together, pulling harder on his link to
Nataku, and felt his own body grit its teeth in response, then a wave of
frustration from Wufei’s mind.
(--No, that won’t work -- I have to
separate myself from his body, not keep controlling it! This isn’t a physical
effort, anyway, it shouldn’t need a physical response--
needed a physical response or not, it was getting one. Karthan was crouched on
hands and knees, muscles twitching and jerking as the white energy leaked over
into him from the link again, and he could feel his pulse hammering as if his
heart was trying to break out of his chest.
(--Not good. Not good at
all! At this rate he’s going to have a heart attack,
)If you keep worrying about me,
Karthan thought at him,
we’ll be stuck together for good. Stop thinking about me! Think about
Nataku-- think about how it felt when you were fighting that demon! Concentrate
on getting into Nataku instead of on getting out of my head, and we might
actually get somewhere!
...all right. I’ll try
Watching Karthan anxiously, Vaijon didn’t
realise he was holding his breath until his chest started to hurt. Nobody spoke,
nobody was moving... they were all watching the dwarf crouched in the middle of
the floor, shuddering. It had been nearly two minutes since he had blocked the
doorway -- no, Wufei
had blocked it, Vaijon corrected himself -- and the
lack of visible progress was starting to worry the blond
Jens stirred finally, shifting his weight as if he
was going to step forwards, then flinched away as a few sparks crackled down
Karthan’s arm. “I don’t mind tellin’ you, I don’t like the look of that,” he
said uneasily. “...Sir. It looks like they need help, but damned if I know how
to help ‘em!”
“Wish we had one’a the Champions with us,” a dwarf
grumbled, and the other armsmen muttered agreement. “They’d know something to
“If we had a Champion with us, we probably wouldn’t be in this
situation in the first place,” Vaijon snapped back, hiding a wince at the
unintentional reminder that he wasn’t
one. Why not me?!
familiar, hurt thought, but this time he pushed it away impatiently. “And since
this is most certainly not a situation that’s happened before, I doubt they’d be
any more prepared to handle it than we are!” Straightening up, he glanced
around, and frowned as he realised that his initial impression had been correct;
of them were gathered around, watching Karthan.Of all the
foolish, thoughtless-- no, the fault is mine,
he corrected himself,
stiffening his spine. As a nobleman, and the only officer of the Order
present, it is my responsibility to see to the proper disposition of forces. I
can’t expect peasants to feel the same sense of responsibility...
not be able to help directly, but that is no excuse for standing around! We need
to arm ourselves and guard the entrance, in case the cultists attempt to clear a
path and re-enter. We should also do something for Sir Wufei’s body!” he added,
feeling a sudden pang of guilt. I can’t believe I forgot that!
he does not succeed in going to Nataku, perhaps we can help by clearing the path
for him to return to his own self, but he can hardly do so if we allow his body
to die for lack of attention! --And don’t
touch that chain with your bare
“Got it... sir,” Jens nodded, shooting a quick glance at Vaijon’s
seared right hand. “We’ll see to it.” He turned away, waving the other armsmen
to him as he began to assign tasks, but not before the knight-probationer caught
a faint mutter. “Looks like the flagpole’s back, stuck in there right an’
proper. Pity, really...”
Vaijon’s opened his mouth to deliver a scathing
--and a sudden explosion of white light sent the armsmen
scurrying in all directions, scrambling desperately away from the sizzling arc
stretching from Karthan to -- and through
-- the cavern wall. Vaijon fell
backwards onto his rear, throwing up an arm to shield his eyes, and squinted
through his lashes at the glare. He couldn’t tell whether it was just an
illusion caused by the dazzle making his eyes tear up, but it looked like
something was pulling itself out of the dwarf’s torso...
A narrow, fanged
head swung out and clamped its jaws onto the arc of energy as if it were a rope,
and Vaijon could see translucent, scaled hide bulge and shift as the muscles
underneath it tensed, straining to drag the rest of its body free. It uncoiled
from around Karthan’s torso as it pulled itself loose, seeming to rip through
his skin and clothes but leaving them unharmed, and Vaijon gaped in mingled
horror and amazement as one long talon struck out, clawing grooves into the
stone floor as it added its strength to the effort.Dear gods -- is
this what Wufei really looks like?!
The long, snakelike body finally
finished uncoiling, plumed tailtip flicking out from between Karthan’s
shoulderblades, and the white energy outlining the glassily see-through creature
subsided slightly, light dimming. Vaijon blinked his eyes clear, lowering his
arm, and just had time to see that the line running through the wall was now
linked to the creature, with a second, thinner arc of energy linking it to
Karthan, before the monster coiled in on itself, outlines blurring, and
resolidified... into Wufei, floating a few inches above the floor, right hand
clamped on the thicker light-arc as if it was a lifeline.
you just had to concentrate... on the right thing,” Karthan gasped out,
finishing with a shaky laugh as he twisted his neck to look up at the
insubstantial demon. “Your ancestors chose the right symbol... or maybe they
knew something you don’t... huh? I wasn’t even looking at you... and I
Wufei grimaced, expression a mixture of
exasperation and relief, and seemed to say something; Karthan snorted and shook
his head, letting himself slump to the floor.
“Get your glowing arse into
Nataku... before something else goes wrong,” he said acidly, rolling onto his
back and going limp, closing his eyes. “I’ll be fine.”
The small demon’s
spirit looked unconvinced, but nodded. Drifting slightly away from the sprawled
dwarf, he glanced over at Vaijon for a second, burning eyes sending an
unmistakeable message. ‘Look after him.’
swallowed, nodding back, somehow certain that although there was no implied ‘or
else’ threatened in that look, there would be serious consequences in store if
he failed at this task. He hid a relieved sigh as Wufei nodded back, apparently
satisfied, and turned towards the wall, tightening his grip on the brighter cord
of light. A careful tug sent him drifting again, sliding smoothly away and
slightly upwards... and then he shot forwards, form starting to shift into the
long snaky beast again as he dove head-first into the wall and vanished. The
thinner light-cord running into Karthan sparked a few times, then abruptly
faded, dwindling into a sparkling silver thread before it vanished.
broke the stunned silence following his departure, clearing his throat a few
times. “Well. I dunno ‘bout you lads, but Sir Wufei didn’t need t’ go through
all that for my benefit; I was already impressed.”
Karthan wheezed out
another tired laugh. “You should have seen it from here...”
muttered the same dwarven armsman who’d expressed a wish for a Champion’s
presence, coming forwards to scuff one toe carefully at the seared claw-marks in
the floor. “That white lightning-magic looked like it hurts.”
Karthan said softly, opening his eyes again. “That’s not the problem at
. It’s scary as all hells, and it felt like it was going to kill me,
but it didn’t exactly hurt... in fact, I think it even fixed the cuts and
bruises I picked up in that fight.”
“Helpful stuff,” the other dwarf said
conversationally, crouching down next to him and looking him over. “So what
“Oh, it’s helpful all right,” Karthan sighed,
stretching one hand out in front of his face and staring at it -- a surprisingly
slender, long-fingered hand for a dwarf to have. “Too bloody helpful by
* * * * *
Heero jumped as Duo stirred and murmured in his
sleep, then lightly stroked his boyfriend’s back. He had been twitchy ever since
the episode earlier this afternoon.
Duo had slept through the rest of the
plan-making, and each time he stirred, everyone would fall silent. Finally,
everything had been worked out, and Relena, Quatre and Trowa left, all insisting
‘call us if you need us’ as they went. Heero had woken Duo for dinner, but the
braided boy had barely kept his eyes open long enough to eat and clean up before
he fell asleep again. Now it was 11 pm, and Heero was still awake, watching over
the boy in his arms.Well, I guess that dream wasn’t just a
he thought. I’ll have to watch out... be aware that it
could happen again. I just hope all of his ‘contacts’ with Wufei aren’t as
upsetting! What really happened, though? There must have been some sort of
fight... Duo couldn’t remember anything but the pain, then the feeling of Wufei
being all right. At least he got that much... It would have been bad if he
didn’t get that relief...
The Japanese teen’s eyes closed as his mind
slowly drifted, until he jerked awake as Duo shifted in his grasp, sniffed and
mumbled something again.
“Shh... Duo. It’s all right. I’m here, it’s just
a dream,” he murmured, running his hand down the other teen’s arm.
squirmed again, then said quite clearly, “The world is coming to an
Heero blinked, then slowly smiled. “Oh, really?
He snorted, then chuckled quietly with
relief. It wasn’t a nightmare. It was just... Duo.
* * * * *
fell into bed, glad they finally had the new house completely in order. Now,
when Duo was allowed to come home, everything would be ready for
Duo... now there was a twist. The tall ex-pilot thought back over
the strange events of the afternoon and shook his head. I still only half
believe it, I think. What are the odds? I never thought Wufei was dead, not
really, but Duo ‘channelling’ him is a bit much to accept...
He rolled onto
his back and stared at the ceiling. “Except for the fact that Quatre confirmed
“Confirmed what?” the shorter blond asked, walking out of their
ensuite bathroom and tossing his robe on the footboard. Trowa blinked, not
having realised he had said the last bit out loud. Raising the sheet and blanket
for his lover, he waited until Quatre had joined him and wrapped him in his
“Quatre,” he said hesitantly, “this afternoon...”
sighed. “I know. I almost don’t believe it myself... If I hadn’t actually ‘felt’
Wufei, I would have said they were both crazy and needed professional help. As
it is, half of me wonders if I’m
not the one who needs it.” Reaching over
his lover’s body, he turned out the bedside light. “But, I did
and I know
it wasn’t some hallucination... any more than Duo’s reaction
was. I think we’ll both agree that there was no way Duo would have faked
something like that, even if he could have. So, members of the jury, we have to
conclude that Chang Wufei is alive, in some alternate dimension, and can contact
Duo Maxwell... as hard as that is to believe.”
Trowa pulled the shorter
teen over on top of himself and kissed him lightly. “You know, I’ve always
thought it was a bit arrogant for most of the human race to assume that we were
the only sentient life in the universe. And, along that line of thought, we have
the Doctors’ word that alternate dimensions exist... with sentient beings in at
least some of them. If there are alternate dimensions, why couldn’t one contact
the other somehow? Radio waves travel billions of miles through space,
eventually... why can’t some other form of energy travel to other
“In other words, whatever form of mental energy it is that I
pick up on.”
There was silence for a moment. “And some
green, scaly alien on a distant planet could be watching The Roadrunner, or
Rocky and Bullwinkle, on our radio waves from hundreds of years
“Hn. It’s a valid theory. ...Or, some green, scaly alien in another
dimension could be picking up your thoughts, and treating our daily lives as a
particularly riveting soap opera.”
Quatre laughed and hugged the
darker-haired teen. “I love you, Trowa Barton...”
* * * *
Lightning struck. Sideways.
Fighters scattered in all directions
as white energy shot out from Nataku and grounded... somewhere... beyond the
trees to the northeast. Naiya and Terrin threw themselves flat as the crackling
bolt shot directly over the wagon they were standing on, thin tendrils licking
out from the main arc but never quite touching either of them.
black balls, what in the hells is that
Uthmar shot a
split-second glance over to his left, where the voice had come from, and then
went back to staring at the impossible thing. He could feel the power radiating
from it, like strong sunlight beginning to burn his face, and it was just
there... “Nice to see you’re back with us,” he
“Nice to see you finally got serious,” Cord growled back, moving
up to stand beside the Champion but prudently staying clear of the flaming
golden aura still surrounding him. “And you didn’t answer me at all, at all,
little man. What is that thing, apart from the biggest excuse for a man’s takin’
to drink that I’ve ever seen?”
“I’ll be in line ahead of you at the bar,”
Uthmar muttered under his breath, and shook his head. “It’s magic. Bloody strong
magic, that doesn’t seem to be doing anything except making us want beer. Apart
from that... your guess is as good as mine. Torframos?” he added, flicking his
eyes briefly upwards. “Anything to add to that?”=*I want a
his god replied grimly. =*I wasn’t sure before, because Wufei
never used much at a time, or for long, and there’s that strange dampening
effect he has that keeps me from feeling him, but... That’s wild magic.
And where he’s getting it from--!*=
“Wufei’s doing it?” Uthmar sagged
slightly, relieved. “At least it’s not something we’re going to have to
... Is this something to do with what you felt him doing before?
What’s he doing with all that energy?!”=*Nothing, as far as I can
tell! He’s just... holding it! Maybe he’s planning to do something soon, but
calling up that much power and then not using it straight away is like -- like
cutting down an entire forest and setting it on fire, because you might
want to warm your hands later and it would be handy to have a fire then! And how
in Orr’s name did he get a link to the boundary between
“You know, little man, some of
us can’t hear whatever it is that’s so surprising,” Cord began
He never got to finish the
DOGMATIX: Tadaaaaaaah! Eth.
poses triumphantly in the middle of her sprinkle of Official Pseudo-Biblical
Chroniclerereth Sparkly Dust, slightly squeaky fanfare going in the background
and orange smoke dissipating around her.]
DOGMATIX: Hear ye, hear ye!
Here beginneth the Third Book of Eth, which is more like The Several Pages
Scribbled On The Back Of Notes From Mel’s Kanji Class of Eth, which continueth
from the Second Book of Eth, which was really The Back Of The Scroll That Had
The First Book Of Eth On It of Eth *gaaaaasp*
, which... ano... is
something wrong? Eth.
DUO: Ahhhhh, C-chan’s just sulking ‘cause Mel
wouldn’t let her put the word ‘Pissed’ in the chapter title.
Well he is! Was. Wufei is a pissed-off dragon and the title just doesn’t show
No shit I’m pissed off,
CHRISTY: Would ‘Pissed Dragon Rising’ really be so
SPIKE: Sounds like he’s been into my vodka again,
CHRISTY: Hmph. ‘Pissed Off Dragon Rising’?
QUATRE: The rhythm
isn’t exactly... ah... melodic.
DOGMATIX: Ah... is it okay if I getteth
started? Mel needs her notes back sooneth, for she doth have a kanji test
HEERO: The sooner you start, the sooner it’s
DOGMATIX: I’ll take that as a ‘yeseth’. *ahem*
And yea! The
unclean followers of the totally unsexyeth Sharna didst quaketh, and trembleth,
and blubbereth, and runneth for their lives, for behold! In their midst the
captured dwarf -- er, one of them -- becameth at once the raging dragon, who
bringedeth down his wrath of fire upon their heads. Still the foolish icky
priest stayed his courseth, and called unto him a lackey, whom he sleweth most
DUO: He deserved it! You could tell!
there arose aroundeth the icky priest a barrier to holdeth the dragon at bay.
Yet the mighty dragon foundeth the barrier, and was not afraid, for the priest
was stupid, as well as icky. Eth.
QUATRE: Most seriously
DOGMATIX: His demonic highness summoned then the true powereth
of the dragon, wreathing himselfeth in the armour of Justice
), and smote the barrier as if t’were naughteth but
smoke, and then didst continue, smitingeth -- since the barrier had been so weak
and there was some smote left over -- the icky priest dead. Dead dead dead and
they couldn’teth even matcheth the dental prints after. Eth!
Wuffie! ...’Never Piss Off A Dragon’?
TROWA: Too much like the title of
that Shadowrun novel, ‘Never Deal With A Dragon’.
WUFEI: I didn’t smite him, I fried
him! ...Why am I caring
about whether or not this is accurate?!
‘SCYTHE: Smiting implies godlike
wrath, therefore holy fire. QEDeth. *snicker*
DOGMATIX: And there
was mucheth rejoicing!
EVERYONE (in deadpan bored voices):
LEGOLAS: ...Why did we just do that?!
icky Sharna, he who is not cuter than the other god who shall remaineth nameless
but we all knoweth who he is, casteth about for a suitable priest, but foundeth
only the most faint of traces nurtured within one of his followers. Nonetheless,
he tore-eth into the man’s soul, which destroyedeth his mind (tiny as it
waseth), and poured his power like unto a torrent into the vassal, and
commandeth the poor slob to kill His Demonic Highness, but in
ARDETH: I think ‘poor slob’ is a good description of any character
who gets special mention in these stories...
DOGMATIX: For the Dragon
turnedeth to the vassal, and didst unto him as he’d done unto the icky
DUO: I hate to interrupt, Oh Official Chroniclererereth, but...
welllll, that’s not quite what happened...
DOGMATIX: Oh? Eth?
The priest got fried. The next guy got, er, chomped.
slightly queasy at the reminder.]
DOGMATIX: Ano... true. Hm. Quite
righteth, thank you. The end result was the sameth, though, if a bit messier.
Once more didst Sharna casteth about, but lo! There appearethed
before him a grim spectre of retribution, also knowneth as
CHRISTY: Go Krashy!
DOGMATIX: And yea, Krashnark
CHRISTY: And so was Wufei! ...’Portrait of a Dragon,
SPIKE: In the vodka again. Plus, it sounds like he’s that wussy
Lestat git somehow.
DOGMATIX: And lo,
Sharna didst pisseth his pants.
CHRISTY: YAY! See, ‘Scythe... I tolja he
was a wimp!
A specter wouldn’t have been able
to kick his butt. I prefer the term ‘Nemesis’, myself...
Not applied to you, you don’t. Trust me. She’s female.
True. And ‘nemesis of retribution’ just... doesn’t carry the
same ‘oomph’, somehow. Er, eth.
CHRISTY: Ummm... I think Nemesis has a
previous gig, anyway. I think Ares needs her for some Hercules torment this
DOGMATIX: Meanwhile, backeth on the farm-- er, in the caveth-- the
mighty dragon foundeth himself ensnared as he and the noble dwarf becameth one
with each other; minds and souls didst meldeth and floweth together ‘gainst
their most valiant efforts. Happened they then to raise their arm, and caughteth
sight of a most fearful happening, forsooth, the melding was not just of the
mind, but also of the bodyeth.
WUFEI: Is it just me, or is this
pseudo-Chaucerian nonsense getting worse?!
CHRISTY: It’s just you. ...How
about, ’Do Not Piss Off Dragons, for they are Subtle and will Fry Your
You mean, ‘they are NOT Subtle and will Fry
WUFEI: And no
DOGMATIX: Greatly fearful--
WUFEI: I was not! Horror is
fear! It’s more like disgust, which is what I usually feel when the
onnas get going.
DOGMATIX: --the dragon foundeth and heldeth himself,
didst nameth himself separate from his dwarven host, and tore-eth his sinuous
coils from aroundeth the dwarf. And the warriors of Torframos beheld his glory,
and were afraideth. (Also very impressedeth, but that goes-eth without
DUO: That’s my Wu-man! Impressive in mind and
DOGMATIX: And yea, the secondeth batch of warriors of
Torframos (the ones outside the caveth), along with various and sundry hradani
and gods, didst beholdeth the bungee cord of lighteth, and felteth the urge to
get very, very drunk. Eth. Here endeth-- oh, there’s another bit,
[She turns the messy sheaf of notepaper over, reads what’s
scrawled on the back, and blinks.]
DOGMATIX: P.S. In other newseth,
Quatre and Trowa didst speculateth about little green men, and Duo predictedeth
the End of the World. Here endeth the Third Book of Eth. Eth!
Chroniclerereth bows, and vanishes in another burst of sparkly dust that starts
WUFEI: Well, at least that’s over.
WUFEI: Don’t remind me.
CHRISTY: ‘A Dragon is a Terrible
Thing to Piss Off’?
‘SCYTHE: Just let it go, Christy.