CHRISTY: So, Mel, when am I going to get to be brutally
murdered and haunt Anemone?
DUO: ‘Fei... did I just
hear Christy ask to be killed
WUFEI: Yes, but it’s probably just
a joke of some sort. *mutter*
We couldn’t be that lucky.
Oi! Mel! Are you listening? You promised you’d kill me off
KRASHNARK: If you die, the writing will stop. Therefore, you are
allowed to die until after
I get Wufei.
Christy’s begging for death! Help her out here!
[‘Scythe starts sharpening his weapon of choice
QUATRE: Wufei, please remember, she is
restraining influence on Mel. ...Sometimes, anyway. If she died and Mel kept
writing by herself, who knows what would happen to us?
you, ‘Fei. You’re her favourite target.
WUFEI: ...I suppose the
Christy-onna has her uses.
TROWA: Not to mention that she’s responsible
for all the 1x2 story elements.
DUO: NOOOO~! C-chan, you can’t die!
You’re too young and I’m too sexy!
CHRISTY: Oh hush, Deathboy. I’m just
talking about Mel’s silly fic; she’s promised to write me in as a Victim of the
I get to haunt Fluffy and Schu-babe.
DUO: Really? Cool!
Hey, Mel, I want to have-- er, haunt Schu-babe too!
CHRISTY: Mel? Are you listening?!
! Aaargh... you stayed up all night
reading manga again, didn’t you?!
[Sesshoumaru pokes Mel with the hilt of
one of his swords until she twitches.]
SESSHOUMARU: Can I kill Christy?
SCHULDIG: He said, ‘can I kill Christy’. Heck, can I
MEL: ...Mmmm... nope. Anemone gets to do
SCHULDIG: That’s in the story. We’re talking about doing it for real.
Here and now, blood on the floor!
[Duo tackleglomps Christy, knocking her
to the floor and glaring up at the two murderously-inclined characters, arms
wound around the author’s neck.]
DUO: NO! Not allowed! ...At least not
until after I get some decent nookie!
HEERO: If you don’t let go soon, you’re
kill her. She’s turning blue.
DUO: Awk! C-chan! Speak to
This is even more ridiculous than usual, damn it! Can we just get on with the
mindless drivel at hand, and get this chapter over
‘SCYTHE: I guess it’s up to me. On with the
Demon of Justice
Duo glared at his knee. “Damn
you, BEND already! Lousy piece of...” He choked off a gasp as pain shot through
his leg, and stared at it, biting his lip, as the knee slowly started to
Doctor Modi stood at his side and grinned. “That is it, Mr.
Maxwell... Keep going, yes...”
The braided teen broke into a sweat as he
strained harder, determined that this
time he’d manage the full 90-degree
angle required for his release. “Almost there,” he gasped raggedly, fists
clenched into the mattress. “A little more... come on...”
room, Heero grinned as he heard Duo’s voice through the closed door. “YES! The
God of Death is so out of here! Heero! Get in here! Pack my bag, call Q, let’s
Heero hurried in as the doctor was helping his boyfriend
straighten the leg again.
“Ah, good. Mr Yui, please keep Mr. Maxwell
right here until I get back with the new brace. Once we get him into it, I’ll
sign the release forms. I will set up his therapy schedule, and send that to you
in the mail.” He turned a stern glance on Duo. “Please remember, young man, that
brace is not to be removed for anything except bathing until your therapy
begins. You have a long way to go, and if you try to go too fast, you will only
set yourself back.”
Duo nodded, waving at Heero to hurry up. “I know,
Doc. I’ll push my limits, but not push past them. Besides, my fleet of
nursemaids won’t let me mess this one up, right, Heero?”
teen looked up from the duffle bag he was packing and nodded. “Right. We’ll make
sure you follow the doctor’s orders...”
“Very good,” the doctor replied,
hurrying to the door. “I will return momentarily.”
Heero looked at Duo as
the doctor left and grinned. “...Precisely as far as you want to and no
further,” he muttered, just loud enough for the other teen to hear him.
Because you’ll never forgive me if I try to give you orders again, but if I
let you do as you like without arguments you’ll end up following the doctor’s
instructions... most of the time, anyway.Hmm. I think I’m getting
the hang of this!
“Jeez, Heero, what’s taking them
so long?” Duo groused, sitting on a garden bench outside the hospital entrance.
He’d refused to wait in the hospital room until Quatre and Trowa arrived to
drive them home, preferring to sign out straight away and wait outside. “You
tell them 20 minutes, right?”
Heero sighed, hiding a small
smirk. “Yes, Duo, I told Trowa you’d be ready to leave in approximately 20
minutes, and he said he would be here. Just be patient a little
“Patient?” Duo yelped exaggeratedly. “I was patient the whole
time I was stuck in that medical dungeon. Is it too much to ask to have my
getaway driver arrive on time? That evil nurse, the one who kept trying to make
me eat the hospital food instead of takeout, she was watching when we left! For
all we know she’s plotting to drag me back in there and force-feed me
reconstituted powdered scrambled eggs on soggy toast!”
A midsize sedan
pulled up in front of them and stopped. Trowa stepped out and walked over to the
“Well, Tro, for a getaway driver, you’re not very punctual. I
think we’ll have to get someone else for when we rob the bank,” the braided boy
complained teasingly, pulling himself to his feet and leaning on the
The tall teen led the way to the car and opened the front
passenger door for Duo to get in, then moved to the back and opened the trunk.
“I see he’s pleased to be out of there,” he said to Heero as the other boy
tossed the duffle in.
“You have no idea,” Heero replied. “I think he was
getting ready to walk to the new house.”
Trowa chuckled. “Come on, then.
We’d better hurry before he decides to drive and leaves us here...”
short ride to the house was surprisingly quiet. Duo watched out the window,
occasionally commenting on various houses or gardens, and soon they had turned
onto their street. As they pulled into the driveway, Duo groaned.
Heero... please tell me I am not
seeing a pink limo ahead of us in our
“Okay, Duo,” Trowa said, straight-faced. “You are not
seeing a pink limo ahead of us in our driveway.”
“That was so not funny,
Tro,” the braided boy sighed. Turning his head to look at Heero in the back
seat, he frowned. “I wanted to get my first look at my room without ‘Lena
around, so if it’s awful I can get my expression straight before I tell her
‘thanks’ and try to sound grateful. And I know
I told her to ditch the
“Duo,” Heero said patiently, “It’s only been two days. Give
her some time. If somebody told you to ditch the black clothes, would it happen
“True... But Pargan could have--”
“Duo, get out of the
car before Quatre comes flying out here and drags you inside bodily,” Trowa
said, getting out himself and opening the passenger side door. Heero handed his
boyfriend the crutches with a flourish, and they headed for the house, Duo
muttering under his breath.
“Okay... happyface, even if it’s
As they climbed onto the porch, the front door opened and Quatre
and Relena stood back, giving Duo room to get through. The braided teen stopped
short and blinked as he saw the large ‘Welcome Home Duo’ sign in the
“Hey, guys, you didn’t have to--”
“Oh yes we did,” Relena
said, smiling brightly as she stepped forward to kiss his cheek. “It’s not a
real home-coming without a sign, cake and a party!”
As they passed his
room to go into the living room, he noticed his door was firmly shut. “What, I
don’t get to see my room yet?”
“You want to see it now? Before the cake?”
Quatre asked, eyes twinkling with mirth. At Duo’s nod, he chuckled and opened
the door; the braided teen hobbled in and stopped, shell-shocked.
stepped up next to him and wrung her hands nervously. “I hope you like the
Gothic style, Duo... if you don’t, we can change it...”
Duo didn’t even
hear her as he took in his room. His eyes landed on the huge mahogany canopied
bed, heavy blue curtains pulled back and tied to the bedposts. The matching
bedside tables were next, then the desk and bookshelves... the papa-san chair
and stool... Opposite the bed was the mahogany entertainment centre, doors open
to show the large tv, disk player, stereo and game machine. Duo just stared at
it all in shock.
Heero stepped behind his boyfriend and wrapped his arms
around his waist. “What do you think? You have to admit, it’s not
Duo broke out of his daze and laughed. “No, it’s not pink!” He
turned to Relena and grabbed her hand. “It’s absolutely perfect, Pretty. You are
Relena blushed. “Well, come on,” she said, sounding
embarrassed at his praise and leading them out of the room. “There’s an
ice-cream cake with your name on it melting all over the coffee
“Which is why Trowa was late,” Quatre informed him dryly. “He had
to give us time to buy it and get back here, after all...”
cake?!” Duo shot one last look back at his new furniture and sped up, heading
for the lounge room. “Tro, pal, buddy, I take back all the mean things I said
about your skills as a getaway driver. Your timing was perfect
* * * *
Halfway through a sentence, about to insist that Uthmar explain
exactly what Torframos was telling him, Cord choked on the words and backed up
half a step. Elemental hradani stubbornness stopped him from retreating any
further, but he couldn’t bring himself to criticise the cultists who were
backing away, or even the ones who’d thrown down their weapons and were running
in blind panic. It’d be a lie if I said I didn’t understand their reasons,
he thought numbly, staring up at the latest impossibility hanging
above the battlefield. If that weird rope of lightning was enough to drive a
man to drink, this is enough to make him climb into a keg an’ never come
“Torframos?” Uthmar asked quietly. “If that
Wufei finally did with all that energy, personally I would have preferred it if
he’d just continued to hold it. Indefinitely.”
“Wufei did that?” Cord
said conversationally, not looking around. “You mean... th’ lad used that
lightning-rope to summon a dragon made out of white fire?”
“I think Wufei
a dragon made out of white fire, right now,” the dwarf replied flatly.
“Am I right?”
=*That’s Wufei,*= Torframos confirmed grimly, deep voice
seeming to come from thin air between them. =*At least... that’s Wufei’s spirit.
He doesn’t seem to be exactly physical at the moment.*=
“Seein’ as how he
that tree when he came flyin’ over here, I should hope not,”
Still joined to Nataku by a wrist-thick rope of crackling
white energy, the long snake-like body hovering above them twisted lazily in
midair, fanged head dipping to look down. The armsmen of the Order of Torframos
held their position, forming a tight defensive ring around the wagon Terrin and
Naiya had been using as an archery platform, but the cultists who hadn’t already
run for it looked like they were beginning to reconsider their decision. A
silent hiss, lips wrinkling back from rows of impressively sharp teeth, tipped
the scales in favour of a high-speed retreat back towards the
----------And for my next trick...
thought almost giddily, coiling in mid-air again simply because he could. He
hadn’t meant to change form again after he’d separated from Karthan and returned
to looking like himself, but somehow it had seemed natural to shift to the
longer, sleeker form when he wanted to move quickly.I suppose I’m
more used to thinking of myself as a dragon than I realised,
he chuckled to
himself, twisting through a figure-eight. I’m a member of the Dragon Clan,
after all... there was that stupid ‘Solitary Dragon’ code-name the elders used
for me, though Master O and I were content with just ‘oh-five’... Duo used to
call me ‘Dragon Chang’ sometimes... I was even born in the Year of the
Gods, this feels good!
A faint warning sparked
in his mind at that thought, and his lazy movements slowed....it
feels... good? That’s all?
He frowned slightly, staring after the retreating
cultists without really paying attention. I may not have used this energy
much, but I’ve done it enough to know that yes, it feels good, but... every
other time, part of me has been sure it shouldn’t feel good. As if it’s
something I shouldn’t be doing... something that could go badly wrong at any
moment... something I should fear...
Five minutes ago I was afraid
of it! What happened to change that?! I can’t control it, not really, and
considering what it can do I should be afraid! I was horrified when I
realised it was starting to reshape Karthan’s body, but now accidentally turning
into a dragon is fun?!
He coiled again, looking back at
himself, at the semi-transparent scales and claws that were somehow so
comfortable. Is it because I’m not in a physical body? It’s certainly far
easier to change like this... is it ‘right’ to use the power like this, but
‘wrong’ to use it to make physical changes? Will it go back to feeling wrong
when I go into Nataku? I--
The thought cut off and his eyes widened
as he remembered.Nataku. I was going to go straight into Nataku and
get everyone -- Karthan, Vaijon, Jens and the rest -- get them out! What the
hell am I doing?!
There was a sudden swirl
of white fire, energy levels blazing higher for an instant, and the dragon --
Wufei -- was gone. Uthmar blinked, spots in front of his eyes from the brief
glare, and twisted to look around. He could still feel the power, slightly muted
now, but he couldn’t tell where the dragon-demon had gone.Is this how
it feels for Torframos, when he knows something’s going on but he can’t tell
he wondered, shooting quick glances up, sideways, behind him and back
again. He could see the other members of the Order doing the same, and spotted
Arwen jogging towards him, head swivelling as if he wanted to be able to look in
all directions at once.=*Yes, this is exactly how it
Torframos’s voice grumbled in his head. =*Frustrating, isn’t
I’m beginning to sympathise,
he thought back wryly.
can’t tell where he is, either,” Arwen sighed, slinging his axe back over his
shoulder as he came to a stop beside the dwarf and hradani. “He could be
“The lad’s gone into Nataku,” Cord said positively, eyes
fixed on the looming metal demon.
“...and you know that because?” Uthmar
asked, eyebrows lifting. He was tempted to make some comment about hradani ears
acting as dowsing rods for magical energy, but bit it back; there was such a
thing as taking humour too far, even if Gunnar would never admit it. Besides,
hradani were said to be the one completely non
-magical race in the
“Because he was linked to Nataku with that bloody great string
made of light, and if he’d gone somewhere else we’d still be seeing it, wouldn’t
we?” One ear tipped backwards and twitched slightly, managing to convey a shrug
without any other movement. “Unless there’s a reason you Champion-types can
think of why we wouldn’t.”
“He could have cut it...” Uthmar began, then
winced, one hand coming up to rub at his eyes. “In which case he wouldn’t be
drawing all that power any more, and we wouldn’t be able to feel him at all.
Argh. You’re right.”
“I’d take it as a favour if you’d remind me to be
smug about it later.” Cord smirked half-heartedly. “I’m thinking I’m not in the
right frame of mind to be taking proper advantage now.”
certainly not in the right frame of mind to appreciate you being smug at the
moment, so later it is,” the dwarf agreed with a sigh. Beside him, Arwen stifled
a snicker behind one hand, then composed his face, apparently trying for an
expression halfway between ‘serious’ and ‘innocent’.
“Do we chase after
the cultists now, or wait to see what Sir Wufei has in mind to do
“Get ready to chase,” Uthmar said without hesitation, throwing
one last glance at Nataku as he turned to jog towards the watching armsmen.
“There’s still the rest of the group that went for water to worry about, and
we’ve no way to tell what’s happening to them unless we go and look; for all we
know, Sir Wufei could be here in spirit because he doesn’t have
any more. If he hasn’t done anything by the time we’ve seen to the wounded and
are ready to go, we’ll move out without him... but let’s not get in his way if
he decides to move with us, hmmm?”
Arwen shook his head emphatically,
eyes a little wide, and Cord laughed. “Aye, well, I’m big enough to run down
most of you wee types an’ hardly notice, but I’m thinking Nataku would be the
one to beat me!”
Wufei ‘stretched’ himself into
Nataku’s systems, moving carefully. The first time he’d done that, he’d felt
pushed to do it quickly, get it over with and get out, and he felt that way
again; but he could also feel the immense amounts of energy flowing into and
through him, far more than before, so he forced himself to take things slowly
and cautiously. Plus, this time, instead of just existing inside the systems for
a moment, pushing energy to mend the damage Nataku had taken, he was going to
have to operate the Gundam from there. It had seemed simple enough when he’d
decided to do it, but now that he was actually trying...I really,
really do not want to flex something the wrong way and accidentally wipe
out half the operating system,
he thought grimly. Really. It’s not as if
I can pull out the master disks and reload programs, after all -- I don’t have
time, and even if I did I don’t think I can physically move anything in this
state! For all I know, if I tried to touch the disks I could wipe them too!
So... one system at a time, watching for any signs that I’m changing
It doesn’t help that I was right... it has gone back to
The computer clock was an itch at the back of his
mind, ticking away the milliseconds, but he had to keep listening to it; if he
didn’t, he’d discovered he would speed up without meaning to, only realising
what he’d done when he ‘looked’ at the external camera feeds and saw that
everything outside had slowed to a bare crawl. Without some sort of time
reference to keep him grounded, it was so easy to go faster and faster, moving
up to the same speeds Nataku’s electrical systems operated at.It
might be natural for a computer to perform millions of operations in a second,
but it’s not natural for a human mind to do the same thing! Just because
it seems like I can, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea!
He wished he
could wipe sweat off his forehead. Maybe he didn’t have a forehead to wipe, and
if he’d had one there might not have been sweat on it, but he had a strange
feeling that doing something normal and mundane right then would have been a
good idea.I will be incredibly relieved when I can get out of
here and back into my own body.
If I can. I don’t even know if it’ll keep
breathing without ‘me’ in it...
...and I have no time to worry about that
now. Later... I’ll find out what’s happened, and deal with whatever it is,
later. Next, propulsion systems... start with the legs. And pay attention
to the clock!
* * * * *
“It’s off! We got the chain off
The relieved shout from the armsmen clustered around Wufei’s still
body brought Vaijon’s head around, and he abandoned his position beside the pile
of rubble blocking the chamber’s entrance with only the briefest of second
thoughts. I haven’t heard or seen anything to indicate the cultists are
trying to get back in,
he rationalised, and Sir Wufei did engineer quite
a substantial cave-in, after all; a guard there isn’t really
Having come up with a semi-reasonable excuse for deserting
his self-assigned post, he strode over to the small group by the altar, moving
as fast as he could without actually running. “Does it look like he’s coming
back?” he asked, stepping in between Jens and Karthan for a better look. “Now
that the chain’s off, perhaps he-- oh.”
“I don’t expect him to come back
to his body before he’s finished with whatever he’s doing in Nataku,” Karthan
muttered, lowering Wufei’s head carefully as another dwarf slid a folded cloak
under it, “but I was hoping there’d be some sort of change when we got that
damned thing clear. Don’t know what I was expecting, really... maybe that he’d
look a bit less... uh...”
“Dead?” Jens suggested sombrely. “He’s
breathin’ all right, and his heart’s still beatin’, but he looks more like a
corpse than half the real corpses I’ve seen!”
“It’s the eyes,” the second
dwarf muttered uneasily. “He may be breathing, but he’s not
Vaijon looked away from the blank, slack face with an
effort, blinking his own eyes hard. “Shouldn’t we do something about that?” he
suggested, rather surprised that his voice was steady. “It can’t be good for
“Neither is the fact that these cuts won’t stop bleeding,” Karthan
said sharply, wiping at trickles of blood with what looked like a piece of his
own shirt; belatedly, Vaijon realised that the dwarf was bare-armed, sleeves
torn raggedly off. “Is there anything we can use for bandages? Anything
, I mean -- I don’t trust anything those sadistic bastards have been
wearing or using.”
“I’ll go look!” The knight-probationer spun on his
heel and walked off, so focussed on getting away from Wufei’s disturbing blank
gaze that he wasn’t thinking about his dignity any
“What god should we thank for that miracle?” Jens
whispered, indicating the retreating blond with a jerk of his chin. “The
Almerhas of bloody Almerhas is being useful
the moment, I don’t care,” Karthan hissed. “It could be Krashnark, and I’d get
down on my knees and thank him. The last thing we need right now is for Vaijon
to go back to his normal self!”
“Good point. If he went all the way back
to the way he was a week ago, he might start arguin’ we should just ‘let the
demon die and rot’. At the very least, he wouldn’t be liftin’ a finger to help
with anything ‘menial’, and oops here he comes... that was
“Here,” Vaijon said, holding a bundle of fur and green silk out
towards Jens with his good hand. “It’s the cleanest thing I could find
“Thank you, Sir V-- this is your cloak!”
a creditable smirk. “Yes, well, that’s probably why it is
thing available. My mother’s laundry women have their pride, you know. Besides,
silk is perhaps not the best fabric for a campaign cloak... and I can always get
another one. Which would not be the case if Sir Wufei had not saved us all. Just
use it, will you?”
,” Jens drawled, shaking out the cloak
and reaching for his knife. “Pleased to comply with your orders,
The smirk wavered as Vaijon looked down at Wufei again, and
he swallowed hard. “Less talk,” he advised quietly, turning on his heel. “More
“Ye gods and little fishes,” Karthan said quietly, watching
him go. “I do believe our own personal pain in the neck is starting to grow
* * * * *
“Now then,” Krashnark purred, leaning over the
whimpering wreck his twin brother had become, “I think that’s a good start. Are
you beginning to understand that going against my wishes is not
There was no answer -- no coherent answer, anyway -- and
Krashnark frowned. “Sharna... I’d hate to think you weren’t paying attention to
me. You’re supposed to say ‘yes’ here.”
. I’ve hardly even touched y--”
A newly-familiar taste
bloomed at the edge of Krashnark’s perceptions, a hot green fire overlaid with
the warm spice of Wufei’s personality, and the god straightened, his brother
nearly forgotten. Wufei! I can feel him again, he’s out from under Sharna’s
shields -- I knew he’d be all right!
“I’ll take the rest of what you
owe out of your hide later, little
brother,” he snarled, already starting
to fade out of sight as he turned away. There was a faint sob, and he grinned
cruelly. “Keep that thought.” Then he dismissed Sharna from his mind as he
concentrated, moving into the mortal world to check on his future
He wasn’t nearly as pleased by what he found as he’d thought he
* * * * *
Watching through Uthmar’s eyes as the members
of his Order prepared to march, Torframos was pulled out of his concentration by
a tentative mental ‘knock’ at his barriers. Recognising the touch, he sighed and
reached out to his brother’s mind.=*What is it, Korthrala? I’m rather
busy at the moment.*=
=*Um... I realise that, but...*=
accompanying Korthrala’s thought were strange, hovering between suspicion,
shock, and amusement. =*Could you come out here for a moment? Someone wants
to talk to you.*=
=*If it’s Khalifrio, I already told
=*It's not her.*=
=*Who, then? And why can’t they just
send me a thought, or come in here?*=
didn’t think you’d appreciate it if I let him in to talk to you directly,*=
Korthrala added in a suspiciously innocent tone.=*What in Orr’s name
would a Dark god be doing here?!*=
=*Apparently, trying to talk to
you, little brother,*=
the sea-god confirmed. =*He’s even being
reasonably polite about it... I mean, he knocked first. With his hand, not an
axe. That sort of thing.*=
=*Korthrala! This is serious!*=
I, Torframos. Krashnark is here, and he is asking to talk to you.
Demanding, really. Don’t you think you should come out and find out what he
wants before he stops being polite?*=
Another voice cut into the
‘conversation’, confirming that yes, Krashnark was there, and he was getting a
little impatient. =*Get out here, Torframos! We need to talk!*=
it hadn’t been beneath his dignity, Torframos would have squeaked.
* * *
“We’ll be ready to go in a moment, sirs,” Cameron reported, jogging
up to where Uthmar and Arwen were standing and throwing a sketchy salute. “There
aren’t many men too badly wounded to join the assault on the temple, luckily,
and they’ll be staying here, with a small squad to help guard them, Terrin, and
Naiya... despite arguments.”
“Arguments?” Arwen asked, looking away from
Nataku and raising one eyebrow. “Who’s arguing?”
“Practically all of
them,” the armsman said, “but especially Gunnar and Naiya.”
that not surprise me?”
“Because Naiya’s already proven that she’ll run
an angry god to help Wufei, and Gunnar is Gunnar,” Uthmar sighed.
“What’s his excuse?”
“Sharna and/or his priests are just begging to be
taunted, and he’s the best we have at that sort of thing,” Cameron answered
promptly. “He has a point.”
“I think we can do without him just this
once,” Uthmar snorted. “If any taunting needs to be done, Wufei seems to be
quite good at it when he lets himself loosen up; for all we know, he’s already
taken care of it. Gunnar stays here.”
“Tell him we can’t let the future
Jester to the Gods jeopardise his pay rise by straining his wounds,” Arwen
suggested, hiding a grin behind one hand. “And tell Naiya we’ll let Sir Wufei
lecture her on the proper place of noncombatants if she insists on coming. That
should discourage--“=*Arwen? Uthmar?*=
they chorused, looking up.=*I hate to interrupt when you’re so
the god began dryly, =*but I’ve been asked to pass on a
“Oh?” Uthmar asked suspiciously. “That’s...
“To say the least,” Arwen agreed. “What sort of message, and
from whom-- if it’s not rude to enquire?” he added quickly.=*Oh, I
don’t think you’re being rude at all,*=
Torframos said, mental
‘voice’ becoming even dryer. =*Krashnark would like me to tell you that he
would greatly appreciate it if you would, and I quote, ‘Hurry up, damn you, and
rescue Wufei’s body before anything happens to it’, end
?!”=*Are you sure you haven’t
been practicing speaking in unison? Yes. Krashnark. One of my nephews, you know,
the strong one? He was even reasonably polite in the beginning, though his
manners seem to be fraying now. Apparently he feels the Light forces aren’t
pulling their weight at the moment. Your earlier speculations were heading in
the right direction; the party who went to get water were captured by Sharna’s
forces and taken into the temple, Wufei’s spirit has escaped but his body has
not, and since Krashnark has no worshippers in the area he wants us to
handle the rescue. Now.*=
“...You’re not joking, are you?” the dwarf
Champion asked.=*Not in the slightest. Even Hirahim would have to
strain to come up with a joke like this.*=
There was a slight pause before
he spoke again. =*He says to ‘quit talking and hurry the hell up, before
Sharna’s worshippers do something irreparable to My Champion’s body’. Impatient,
Uthmar and Arwen looked at each other, blinking, neither
sure how to respond... then Uthmar began to smile, a wicked smirk that wouldn’t
have looked out of place on Gunnar’s face.
“If you don’t mind, m’lord
Torframos, would you care to point out to His Dark Godness that Wufei is not
actually his Champion, and in fact seems to be resisting the idea quite
There was an odd mental sputter before Torframos replied.
=*I’ll, ah, pass that on.*=
!” Arwen hissed,
horrified. “What are you doing
“Taunting,” the dwarf replied,
“Wufei started it,” Uthmar
pointed out. “I’m just... following in his footsteps. Continuing the tradition.
Blame it on Gunnar’s influence.”
“Should I get Gunnar to help?” Cameron
suggested, seemingly torn between delight and horror.
“I think we can
handle it, thank you.”=*Ahem. Krashnark would like you to concentrate
on rescuing Wufei’s body now, and worry about insignificant details such as his
precise status later, if you wouldn’t mind terribly,*=
in exquisitely polite tones.
“I bet he didn’t put it that way,” Uthmar
snickered.=*Not exactly, no. I thought I’d translate.*=
think I’m glad.”=*I know you are. Believe me, you didn’t want
to hear the, um, unexpurgated version. He was quite vehement about
“...Did he say ‘please’?” Arwen put in, voice slightly shaky.
Uthmar grinned and reached up to give him an encouraging pat on the
Torframos said slowly, =*I don’t
believe ‘please’ was among the many and varied words he used in that
“I don’t think we should do what he wants unless he asks
,” the human Champion continued, gaining confidence. “I’m sure
would insist that he should ask nicely if he wants cooperation from
* * * * *
“They want you to say ‘please’.”
stared at Torframos. “...What
did you just say?”
“They want you to
say ‘please’,” the Light god repeated. In the background, Korthrala was failing
miserably to disguise his laughter as a cough. “Apparently they feel that Wufei
would insist on the niceties being observed.”
‘please’...” Krashnark gritted out between clenched teeth, barely restraining
his temper, “will they do as I s-- ask?”
“Probably,” Torframos said
cheerfully. “Almost certainly, in fact.”
There was a long, ominous
“Very well. Please
* * * * *=*He’s
asking nicely. He said ‘please’. Grudgingly, but he did say it,*=
reported. =*Are you satisfied?*=
“I think we’d better be,” Uthmar
chuckled. “Tell His Dark Godness we’re on our way.” Arwen just nodded
enthusiastically, stunned by his own
“...Did he say ‘thank
you’?”=*Let’s not push things any further, all right? I think
Krashnark has strained his pride more than enough for one
“Good point,” Uthmar admitted. “In which case, you’d better
not tell him that we would have gone after Wufei’s body anyway, without him...
ah... requesting it.”=*I wasn’t planning on doing any such
Torframos assured him. =*Now get moving.*=
noise from off to their left interrupted Uthmar and Arwen before they could
reply as Nataku stood up, leaves and twigs falling from the nearest trees with
the vibration of its first footsteps.
a weight off
our shoulders,” Uthmar said, grinning up at Arwen and Cameron and seeing their
relieved smiles. “I was beginning to worry that something else was going wrong
for the poor lad, as if he hasn’t had enough trouble... Let’s get a move on!” he
shouted, waving at the waiting armsmen. “We’re supposed to be rescuing Sir Wufei
and the others! It’ll look a bit ungrateful if we make him rescue
Moving Nataku from within its computer
systems was a far cry from sitting in the cockpit working the controls, as Wufei
was quickly finding out. Even with his reflexes and the training he’d undergone,
there was still a moment between him deciding on an action and his body actually
it; and even with the best engineering, programming, and parts in
the Solar System, there was always a tiny hesitation between his moving a
control and the Gundam responding. Now Nataku was reacting immediately to his
thoughts, and his first few steps were clumsy as he compensated for delays that
weren’t there any more.Wonderful. None of the problems I was worrying
about have happened, but a problem I never thought of has... well, that’s
normal, I suppose. Duo said it was one of the corollaries to Murphy’s Law --
number fifty-three or so. “Of course you can’t expect the fucking
unexpected! That’s the whole point of it being
Chuckling to himself at the memory, Wufei walked
a few more steps, carefully staying clear of those on the ground. At least it
seems to be temporary; I’m already getting used to--
is that you? Are you all right?”
**SOURCE -- EXTERNAL**
**VOICEPRINT CHECK --
**ACTION -- NIL**Eh? What was that?! ...A system
check? I can hear Nataku’s system checks? Weird... now, can I do
something about answering Naiya, or am I going to be stuck making
A few moments’ worth of poking around through the Gundam’s
minor electrical systems, something that Wufei visualised as feeling through
bundles of wires until he ‘touched’ one that ‘felt’ right, and he was able to
find the external speakers. Actually using them to make words instead of random
staticky noises was a bit more difficult, but at least he could hear himself and
work out what corrections needed to be made.
< < SSSSZZZZZSSZRK --
sssSSSsssszz -- ssssaAaAaA -- aaaaaa -- aaaah > >
“Is that Wufei or
Nataku?” Naiya asked Uthmar, looking up at the Gundam with a worried expression.
“Do you think everything’s all right?”
< < aah -- ah -- mmmaaa --
mmmm -- me. It’s me, > > Wufei managed, pronunciation still a little off,
but understandable. --Oh, that’s helpful!
< < Wufei. >
“Thank goodness,” the hradani girl said with a relieved smile. “How
did you get back here and into Nataku without anyone seeing you? And what was
happening with the lightning and that dragon-thing? Did you do that
< < Ah... sort of... > >
later,” the dwarf said quickly, putting a restraining hand on her arm. “If you
can lead us back to the temple, Wufei, that’ll be quicker than if we have to
search for it; the sooner we get your little problem sorted out, the
< < You know? > > Wufei asked, surprised.
know,” Uthmar confirmed, and, surprisingly, grinned.
know?” Naiya asked in tones of deep suspicion.
“I know that Krashnark
wants this taken care of so badly that he went asking favours of Torframos,
that’s what I know,” he chuckled. “If I were your father, Wufei, I’d be asking
questions about his intentions by now.”
< < He is not
me for that
! > > Wufei sputtered, nearly losing control of the
speaker system in his indignation. An outburst of stifled laughter from the
direction of the waiting armsmen confirmed that several of them had heard it,
too, and he groaned inwardly. I’m never going to live this
“A Dark god asking favours from a Light god,” Naiya said
incredulously. “A Dark
god is asking favours
from a Light
god?! Just what is this ‘little problem’ that he wants fixed? What’s
Uthmar eyed her for a moment, tipping his head back to meet her
eyes, and apparently decided that answering the question would cause less
problems than trying to evade it any longer. “The reason you didn’t see Wufei
get into Nataku was because he didn’t, really,” he told her bluntly. “His mind
is here. His body is somewhere else.”
“...Somewhere else,” she said
slowly, looking back and forth between him and the looming metal demon. “If
Krashnark wants that fixed so badly, it’s somewhere bad
, right? And given
where we are and what we’re doing...”
“That’s right,” the dwarf Champion
said, nodding as she put two and two together and came up with the right answer.
“Before you say anything, no, you are still not
Her mouth snapped shut.
< < Definitely not, > >
Wufei agreed. < < My body and the others with me are safe for now, I
think, but anyone going after us will not be. You may be stronger than any human
woman, but you are still not a fighter. > >
“I did well enough in
fight!” she protested half-heartedly.
“Shooting a bow from
behind a static defence,” Uthmar pointed out, “and we didn’t exactly have a
choice about whether or not you were involved. We do now. You can do us a lot
more good here, sitting on Gunnar to keep him from following us, than you can
going with us! In a moving fight, we won’t be able to spare anyone to protect
you, and if we tried, we’d probably just get both you and them
Naiya winced, closing her eyes for a moment, then sighed. “All
right. I knew it was a stupid idea, anyway. Just... come back in one piece,
please? Especially you!” she snapped with some of her usual vigour, waving a
finger up at Wufei/Nataku. “Get back into
one piece first, and then come
back without spoiling it! You hear me?”
< < I hear you, > >
he chuckled. < < You sound like Duo nagging Heero. Ninmu ryoukai. >
MEL: No, Christy, you may not
this chapter ‘Eth’.
[Christy opens her mouth.]
DUO: You could always call it
WUFEI (sarcastically): How about ‘Not Pink’? That seemed
to be what you were most excited about...
SPIKE: You can’t call this one
‘Pissed Dragon Rising’, either. He ain’t been in my vodka.
half-hearted shower of Official Pseudo-Biblical Chroniclerereth Sparkly Dust,
mixed with cat hairs, and Dogmatix appears. Nobody pays any attention. She
doesn’t seem to notice her arrival, either, being too busy getting more cat hair
off her Official Pointy Hat with a sticky roller, muttering under her
DOGMATIX: Bloody felines... supposed to shed in Spring, not
Fall, damn it... mutter grumble razzin frazzin...
[Schuldig walks into
the room and looks around, taking in the scene. Authors slouched on the Writing
Couch, growling at each other; various Gundam Wing characters, gods, and Spike
distributed around the room in other chairs, egging them on; Legolas and Ardeth
watching TV with headphones, ignoring everyone else; Sesshoumaru having a
staring competition with one of the cats, and winning; Official Pseudo-Biblical
Chroniclerereth de-furring her hat, oblivious to another cat busily winding
itself around her legs, getting her boots all fluffy...]
KRASHNARK: Who’s who? Oh, her? She’s the Chronicler.
mean the Chroniclerereth. Cool! This means Ethness is going to
SCHULDIG: This is not telling me much. What’s
[Dogmatix looks up, blinking.]
DOGMATIX: Ethness? It’s
not time yet-- awk! Ah, one sec-eth!
[She plops the hat onto her head and
starts frantically searching her pockets as various characters finally take
notice. The cat Sesshoumaru was staring at takes the opportunity to sneak off as
he looks up.]
DOGMATIX: Hear ye, hear ye! Here beginneth the Fourth Book
of Eth, which -- oh good, here it is -- is more like The Tiny Writing On The
Back Of A Tax Statement of Eth, which follows on from the Third Book of Eth,
which was really The Several Pages Scribbled On The Back Of Notes From Mel’s
Kanji Class of Eth, which continuethed 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, which
was... um... I’ve lost-eth track. Is the next bit supposed to be a ‘followed on
from’ or ‘was really’? Eth.
SCHULDIG: I have no
SESSHOUMARU: And why would you think we would
DOGMATIX: Well, because accuracy is important in-eth record
keeping, and Chroniclererething is a sort of record keeping, and... um... I...
job... getting paid...
[She trails off, staring up at Sesshoumaru with
SCHULDIG: I think you broke her, Killer.
SESSHOUMARU: I beg
flings herself across the room and clutches Christy’s arm.]
didn’t you tell me you’d caught Fluffy-sama?! And Schu-babe?!
It’s nice to see that I’m appreciated too, but I have to object to the ‘caught’
bit. They didn’t catch
MEL: Now that I think of it... what
you two doing here? Not that I mind or anything, but the last time we
tried to get Flu-- err, Sesshoumaru-sama-- here, he trashed the
CHRISTY: True. So, what’s the deal?
SCHULDIG: Well, Mel was
writing about us while she was in Japan, so we were kind of hanging around the
dorm keeping an eye on things. Then she left.
SESSHOUMARU: Much to the
relief of the local supernatural population.
SCHULDIG: And things got
boring. So... we sort of convinced the crew of the next flight to Australia to
not see us. Well, I did. I think Killer here was riding on top.
So... you’re here of your own free will?
Want some advice?
SCHULDIG: Not really, but shoot.
while you still can.
CHRISTY: Now, Tro-babe, don’t warn ER I MEAN scare
them off before we can ward ER have fun with them.
TROWA: Like I said...
MEL: Ignore him, guys. Matix! Ethness? Please? We could use a
distraction ER I MEAN a recap.
[Dogmatix clears her throat and begins to
declaim as Mel and Christy sneak off, clutching bundles of paper wards and
charms under their jumpers.]
DOGMATIX: Right! And thus-eth the great
Shinigami, most grievously injured-eth by love’s ill-timed
QUATRE: Heero told Duo he loved him while
Duo was standing somewhere precarious, and he fell off.
DOGMATIX: --came-eth to make his speedy getaway from the much-eth
abhorred house of healing (though one doth fear that ‘speedy’ be-eth of shifting
TROWA: I wasn’t late; I was assisting Quatre’s cake
DOGMATIX: Upon-eth his return he foundeth his room to be not
pink (which waseth a great relief), and his arrival be-eth hailed with much joy
and jubilation, and they all had-eth ice-cream cake.
DOGMATIX: But look ye away from-eth this scene of happiness and
WUFEI: Do we have to?
DOGMATIX: Yes, because we
want to drool at you. Eth. *ahem*
Away from-eth this scene of happiness
and content hearts, to gaze-eth upon the fiery majesty which rise-eth as the
indomitable phoenix from the earth, many-splendoured and wondrous. Behold, for
incandescent Power scorch-eth the air surrounding the serpentine Demon Prince,
who bare-eth his fearsome fangs contemptuously, dispersing the last-eth
insignificant foes to his person.
SCHULDIG: Someone’s got tickets on
WUFEI: Shut up.
DOGMATIX: His Demonic Highness
revel-eth in his gleaming scales and wicked sharp talons but a moment afore he
didst remember himself, and sent-eth himself plunging into his trusty armour
with a blaze of Power. Seeing as the Dog Brothers had fled to sneak another day,
the remaining valiant warriors, though much unnerved, made-eth ready to mount a
search for His Demonic Highness’s lost body.
SESSHOUMARU: You lost your
SESSHOUMARU: Careless of
WUFEI: Shut up
DOGMATIX: Said Demonic Highness
was-eth busy getting the hang of his armour, and found-eth the clock to be an
irritating yet non-scratchable itch.
WUFEI: ...and I have a nasty feeling
that the onnas are plotting something with that...
DUO: You could say
that about anything they write.
DOGMATIX: At around-eth this time,
Krashnark left-eth off thwapping his non-cute brother about the head and ears
(and evidently sundry other bits which shalt remain-eth
KRASHNARK: *evil snicker*
turn-eth to Torframos, requesting a most urgent message be relayed-eth to his
DOGMATIX: Sorry. His
Champion’s comrades, who irritated him muchly, for forsooth,
they asketh for the magic word.
[Duo snickers, and ‘Scythe raises an
eyebrow at Krashnark, who is ignoring them.]
DOGMATIX: Krashnark gritteth
his teeth and spake, ‘Please’, and everyone was much-eth amazed... and didst not
mention that that was-eth what they wouldst have done anyway.
DOGMATIX: Should His Demonic Highness find these titbits
of information concerning his detested stalker nesting in his ear, one believes
Krashnark would earn-eth bigtime brownie points. After the Demon Prince hath
stopped being annoyed-eth, of course.
[Krashnark looks hopefully at
Wufei, who is pointedly ignoring him. Duo snickers some more.]
His Demonic Highness didst find-eth his voice, and spake static, but gain-eth
control instantly and undertook to lead-eth the valiant and loyal companions in
retrieval-eth of his body. One more thing must also be said-eth -- there
happened that day a true miracle, and none but a handful were there to
witness-eth it; Vaijon at long last recievedeth sufficient whacks with the clue
mallet, that he doth appear-eth to be maturing.
[Everyone stares at her
with sceptical expressions on her faces. Crickets chirp.]
I’m not-eth joking! I sweareth! Really!
WUFEI: I’ll believe it when I see