Demon of Justice Chapter 29




CHRISTY: So, Mel, when am I going to get to be brutally murdered and haunt Anemone?

MEL: ......

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.

CHRISTY: Oi! Mel! Are you listening? You promised you’d kill me off first!

KRASHNARK: If you die, the writing will stop. Therefore, you are not allowed to die until after I get Wufei.

WUFEI: Mel? Christy’s begging for death! Help her out here!

MEL: ......

[‘Scythe starts sharpening his weapon of choice thoughtfully.]

QUATRE: Wufei, please remember, she is the restraining influence on Mel. ...Sometimes, anyway. If she died and Mel kept writing by herself, who knows what would happen to us?

DUO: ‘Specially 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 Week. And I get to haunt Fluffy and Schu-babe.

DUO: Really? Cool! Hey, Mel, I want to have-- er, haunt Schu-babe too!

MEL: ......

CHRISTY: Mel? Are you listening?!

MEL: ...zzzzzzzz...

CHRISTY: MEL! 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.]

MEL: ...mmnnnnzwazzup?

SESSHOUMARU: Can I kill Christy?

MEL: mmm? wha?

SCHULDIG: He said, ‘can I kill Christy’. Heck, can I kill Christy? Please?

MEL: ...Mmmm... nope. Anemone gets to do it.

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!

CHRISTY: *peep*

HEERO: If you don’t let go soon, you’re going to kill her. She’s turning blue.

DUO: Awk! C-chan! Speak to me!

CHRISTY: *wheeze*

MEL: ...zzzzzzzz...

WUFEI: 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 with, please?!

‘SCYTHE: I guess it’s up to me. On with the fic!

Demon of Justice
Chapter 29

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 work.

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...”

Outside the 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 go!”

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?”

The Japanese 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 did 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 longer.”

“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 bench.

“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 crutches.

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...”

The 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.

“Tro, Heero... please tell me I am not seeing a pink limo ahead of us in our driveway...”

“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 pink car!”

“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 overnight?”

“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 pink...”

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 foyer.

“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.

Relena 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 pink...”

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 terrific!”

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 table!”

“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...”

“Ice-cream 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, after all, 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 out...

“Torframos?” Uthmar asked quietly. “If that is what 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 is 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 came through that tree when he came flyin’ over here, I should hope not,” Cord muttered.

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 northeast.


And for my next trick... Wufei 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 Dragon!

Gods, this feels good!

A faint warning sparked in his mind at that thought, and his lazy movements slowed. 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 what? 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 feels,*= Torframos’s voice grumbled in his head. =*Frustrating, isn’t it?*=

I’m beginning to sympathise,
he thought back wryly.

“I 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 anywhere...”

“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 world.

“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.”

“And I’m 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 first?”

“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 a body 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 anything.

It doesn’t help that I was right... it has gone back to feeling wrong!

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 him!”

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 needed!

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 blinking...”

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 him.”

“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 clean, 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 more.


“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. Willingly.”

“Right at 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 quick.”

“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 quickly.”

“Thank you, Sir V-- this is your cloak!”

Vaijon managed a creditable smirk. “Yes, well, that’s probably why it is the cleanest 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?”

“Yes, sir,” Jens drawled, shaking out the cloak and reaching for his knife. “Pleased to comply with your orders, sir.”

The smirk wavered as Vaijon looked down at Wufei again, and he swallowed hard. “Less talk,” he advised quietly, turning on his heel. “More bandaging.”

“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 up.”

* * * * *

“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 a good idea, Sharna?”

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.”

More whimpering.

“You’re pathetic. 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 Champion.

He wasn’t nearly as pleased by what he found as he’d thought he would be.

* * * * *

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...*=
The emotions 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 her--*=

=*It's not her.*=

=*Who, then? And why can’t they just send me a thought, or come in here?*=
Torframos thought impatiently.

=*It’s Krashnark.*=


=*I 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!*=

=*So am 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!*=

If 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.”

“Why does that not surprise me?”

“Because Naiya’s already proven that she’ll run towards 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?*=

“Yes, Torframos?” they chorused, looking up.

=*I hate to interrupt when you’re so busy,*= the god began dryly, =*but I’ve been asked to pass on a message.*=

“Oh?” Uthmar asked suspiciously. “That’s... unusual.”

“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 quote.*=


=*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, isn’t he?*=

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 strenuously?”

There was an odd mental sputter before Torframos replied. =*I’ll, ah, pass that on.*=

Uthmar!” Arwen hissed, horrified. “What are you doing?!”

“Taunting,” the dwarf replied, smirk widening.

“You can’t--“

“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,*= Torframos said in exquisitely polite tones.

“I bet he didn’t put it that way,” Uthmar snickered.

=*Not exactly, no. I thought I’d translate.*=

“I 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 it.*=

“...Did he say ‘please’?” Arwen put in, voice slightly shaky. Uthmar grinned and reached up to give him an encouraging pat on the shoulder.

=*Nnnnnnoooooo,*= Torframos said slowly, =*I don’t believe ‘please’ was among the many and varied words he used in that outburst.*=

“I don’t think we should do what he wants unless he asks nicely,” the human Champion continued, gaining confidence. “I’m sure Wufei would insist that he should ask nicely if he wants cooperation from us.”

* * * * *

“They want you to say ‘please’.”

Krashnark 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.”

If I say... ‘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 pause.

“Very well. Please.”

* * * * *

=*He’s asking nicely. He said ‘please’. Grudgingly, but he did say it,*= Torframos 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 boldness.


“...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 day.*=

“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 thing,*= Torframos assured him. =*Now get moving.*=

A rumbling 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.

“Now there’s 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 himself!”


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 doing 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 unexpected!”

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--

“Wufei! Wufei, is that you? Are you all right?”


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 gestures?

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 somehow?”

< < Ah... sort of... > >

“I’ll explain 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 better.”

< < You know? > > Wufei asked, surprised.

“I know,” Uthmar confirmed, and, surprisingly, grinned.

What do you 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 after 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 down...

“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 wrong?”

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 coming with us.”

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 this 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 killed.”

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. > >


End chapter 29

MEL: No, Christy, you may not call this chapter ‘Eth’.

[Christy opens her mouth.]

MEL: Or ‘Transformers’.

CHRISTY: Spoilsport.

DUO: You could always call it ‘The Getaway’!

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.

[There’s a 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 breath.]

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...]

SCHULDIG: Who’s she?

KRASHNARK: Who’s who? Oh, her? She’s the Chronicler.

DUO: You mean the Chroniclerereth. Cool! This means Ethness is going to happen!

WUFEI: Damn.

SCHULDIG: This is not telling me much. What’s ‘Ethness’?

[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 idea.

SESSHOUMARU: And why would you think we would care?

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 widening eyes.]

SCHULDIG: I think you broke her, Killer.

DOGMATIX: ...Fluffy-sama?!

SESSHOUMARU: I beg your pardon?!

[Dogmatix flings herself across the room and clutches Christy’s arm.]

DOGMATIX: Why didn’t you tell me you’d caught Fluffy-sama?! And Schu-babe?!

SCHULDIG: It’s nice to see that I’m appreciated too, but I have to object to the ‘caught’ bit. They didn’t catch us.

MEL: Now that I think of it... what are 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 house.

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.

DUO: So... you’re here of your own free will?


TROWA: Want some advice?

SCHULDIG: Not really, but shoot.

TROWA: Leave 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... go. Now.

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 arrows--


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 meaning).

TROWA: I wasn’t late; I was assisting Quatre’s cake strategy.

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 content hearts--

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 you, boyo!

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 body?

WUFEI: *sigh* Sort of.

SESSHOUMARU: Careless of you.

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 nameless)--

KRASHNARK: *evil snicker*

DOGMATIX: --and turn-eth to Torframos, requesting a most urgent message be relayed-eth to his Champion’s comrades--


DOGMATIX: Sorry. His prospective 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.

KRASHNARK: *grumble*

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.]

DOGMATIX: 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.]

DOGMATIX: No, I’m not-eth joking! I sweareth! Really!

WUFEI: I’ll believe it when I see it.


Chapter 30

Gundam Wing

















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