Demon of Justice Chapter 30


                                                                                                                                                                                           "Nagging will get you everywhere"


[Mel and Christy are sitting on their writing couch, about to start a new chapter. As usual. The G-boys and other prisoners-- er, drool targets-- er, bishounen-- are sitting around the room, watching TV, reading, or acting bored. Also as usual. What’s not usual, however, are the three large and one small fish tanks that have been added to the living room, full of water, fish, plants, sunken castles, gargoyle statues, and Nazgul figurines. Looks like the onnas have a new obsession...]

DUO: I appreciate you naming a fish after my Deathscythe, guys. Really, I do. But did you have to pick a fish with googly eyes?!

‘SCYTHE: My question exactly. Hmph.

CHRISTY: Oh, give the little finny guy a break, would you? His eyes aren’t that bad, and d’you know how hard it is to find an all-black goldfish with non-googly eyes? You can’t, that’s how hard it is.

QUATRE: I think he’s cute. Also, I think the goldfish you named Rashid is quite a good choice. Elegant.

DUO: Since when is Rashid particularly elegant? I’ll admit the fish is a good match for him, but that’s because it’s big and has black hair -- er, I mean fins.

WUFEI: Epyon and Tallgeese are well named.

DUO: Which ones are they?

WUFEI (pointing): The two sucking catfish who’ve been banished to the isolation tank because they’re bullies.

DUO: Haha! Sucks to be you guys!

WUFEI: I’m slightly concerned about the fact that the onnas have named fish ‘Treize’, ‘Zechs’, ‘Alex’, ‘Mueller’, ‘Alex Two’, ‘Treize Two’, and ‘Zechs Two’, and a whole tank is full of tropical fish named after characters in Warped Mirrors, but there are no fish named after us. And no ‘Nataku’.

CHRISTY: Oh, there is a Nataku! We just named her today.

WUFEI: Oh? Which one?

CHRISTY (pointing): The bristlenose catfish in that tank.

WUFEI: Onna! Those things are ugly! My Gundam is not ugly!

MEL: Calm down, would ya? It could be worse.

WUFEI: How?!

MEL: We named a mostly-white goldfish Wing. Then he self-destructed.

CHRISTY: Yup. Died for no apparent reason. Bristlenose catfish, on the other hand, are tough.

MEL: Even if they do look like something out of the Palaeozoic era...

HEERO: Knowing you two, you’re planning to get another goldfish and name it ‘Wing Zero’.

CHRISTY: Yep! Happy now?

HEERO: No. You’ll probably manage to find one that’s insane.

[Mel and Christy look at each other.]

MEL & CHRISTY: ...Naaaaaaah.

CHRISTY: We’ll just hope it doesn’t self-destruct.

DUO: So, what did you name those ugly Tandanus catfish? Relena and Dorothy?

MEL: Actually, we haven’t come up with names for them yet. Your suggestion has merit.

‘SCYTHE: Little Death, I have to point out that Relena is being quite nice to you...

DUO: Damn. You’re right. Okay, Dorothy and... um... Sharna?

WUFEI (muttering): All the other fish named after our Gundams are goldfish -- well, Quatre gets a sucking catfish named Sandrock, which is at least sleek and vaguely impressive-looking -- and I get an ugly black thing that looks like it’s been stepped on for Nataku.

SPIKE: Oi, at least you got something! I don’t see any fish in there named Spike, or Vamp, or William the Bloody. Or Legolas, or Ardeth.

SCHULDIG: Or Fluffy-sama.

SESSHOUMARU: *grrrrrrrrrr*

MEL: Well, we can’t really name a fish after Flu-- er, Sesshoumaru-sama.

SCHULDIG: Why not? Get a nice white fish with a long flowing tail...

CHRISTY: ‘Cause if a goldfish looks fluffy, it’s sick.

SPIKE: She ‘as a point. Look at it this way, guys; at least they ‘aven’t named any fish after themselves, either.

MEL: Ummmm...

CHRISTY: Well, not fish as such...

SPIKE: Oh hell. Go on. Tell us.

MEL: The two big snails in the tropical tank are us.

CHRISTY: You know. Cruising through at their own pace, overseeing the insanity...

WUFEI: And slower than a sick turtle. Very appropriate.


CHRISTY: Before we get insulted again... on with the fic!

Demon of Justice
Chapter 30
‘Nagging will get you everywhere‘

Quatre set his plate down on the coffee table and sat back, stifling something that could have been either a hiccup or a tiny burp. “Oh dear,” he said, tugging at the waistband of his slacks. “I shouldn’t have had that second slice...”

“You don’t sound very repentant,” Duo snickered, scraping up the last mouthful of his third slice of ice-cream cake. “Admit it; indulging yourself once in a while won’t kill you. Or you either, Pretty!”

“The only problem with that idea is that ‘once in a while’ can very easily become ‘all the time’,” Relena sighed, eyeing the cake’s devastated remains, visibly tempted. “Then it might not kill you, but it can make you need a whole new wardrobe.”

“We’re going to revamp your wardrobe anyway,” Duo pointed out. “Trust me, you’ll burn off enough calories in our raid on the shopping district to make sure your dress size won’t change! And even if it does, that’s what the filthy rich have tailors for.”

“I am not filthy rich,” she sniffed haughtily, drawing herself upright in her chair. “All my money is scrupulously clean. That’s what banks have coin washers for.” The corner of her mouth quivered slightly, but she got it back under control as she leaned forward to cut another, smaller slice of cake. “Naturally, Pargan has the bills dry-cleaned before he irons them...”

Heero and Trowa had been maintaining deadpan expressions throughout this, but Duo made the mistake of glancing at Quatre and collapsed in laughter, pointing helplessly at the blond boy’s half-incredulous, half-horrified expression. “Oh! Oh, ye gods, ‘Lena, that’s a good one!” he sputtered, doubling over. “Oh, oh, and I can just see Pargan wearing a frilly apron while he irons a laundry basket full of credit notes! Admit it, Q-bean, she had you going there for a moment!”

“I’m just not used to Relena making that sort of joke,” Quatre protested weakly. “Especially not deadpan. I mean, if it were you, Duo--“

“But it wasn’t me, which is what makes it so good,” Duo grinned. “I couldn’t believably make that sort of joke, even if you weren’t used to me pulling your leg. ‘Lena can pull it off just fine. Picking the right joke is just as important as timing and all that. You have learned well, Grasshopper,” he intoned pompously, winking at her.

“You’ve been an excellent teacher, Sensei,” she replied, batting her eyelashes.

“The Earth Sphere government would be shaking in its collective shoes if it knew the interim Vice-Foreign Minister was taking lessons in mental guerrilla warfare from an ex-terrorist,” Trowa pointed out dryly, depositing his plate on the table and sliding one arm around Quatre’s shoulders. “Not to mention the fuss if they found out you’ve been asking four ex-terrorists for advice on peacekeeping, ‘Lena. You did say some of them would have conniptions if the head of the peacekeeping force had an aggressive-sounding title, after all; if you mentioned us, they’d probably die of shock!”

“Well, they’re going to have to get used to the occasional shock,” Relena said tartly, hiding her surprise at hearing someone other than Duo casually abbreviate her name. “Especially if I take Duo’s suggestion and nominate Lady Une as the peacekeepers’ head officer. After all, she probably deserves to be called an ex-terrorist far more than you do! She deliberately targeted civilian populations on more than one occasion, whereas you Gundam pilots only went after military targets and did your best to limit collateral damage and casualties. The only reason you’ve been called terrorists more than she has is because she was in uniform.”

“And because she never actually pulled the trigger when she was targeting those civilians,” Heero shrugged, seemingly indifferent. “She just threatened to.”

“You mean you defused her nukes, and blew up Wing before she could shoot the colony, and then Kushrenada rained on her parade and made her act nicer,” Duo snorted, digging a finger into Heero’s ribs. “Which proves my point--“

“Which one?” Trowa wondered innocently.

“The one about how she was doing it all for Treize. All the really bad things she pulled were at the beginning of the war, before he yanked her back under control and told her to be ‘more elegant’,” Duo explained patiently. “If she accepts that leading the peacekeepers would be the same as working for Treize’s dream of system-wide peace, and she has clear restrictions on what she can and can’t do, she’ll work her butt off and do a damn good job. Hell, she nearly stopped us...”

“Hm.” Quatre raised an eyebrow. “Good point!”

Relena raised her voice slightly, cutting across a faint snort from Heero and a quiet chuckle from Trowa. “If the mutual admiration society could take a short break...? Duo, you don’t have to convince me that Lady Une is a good choice to head the peacekeeping force -- which we are going to have to find a name for soon, preferably something catchy and confidence-inspiring. I did some thinking last night, and a little fast investigating, and Une really does seem to be the best candidate. I even think I can convince the rest of the interim cabinet without having to yell myself hoarse more than once or twice.”

All four pilots looked at her incredulously. “...You must have one hell of an argument in mind, Pretty,” Duo said in an awed voice. “Do tell!”

“Oh, don’t look at me like that, it’s nothing stunning!” she told him, mildly exasperated. “It’s just a matter of laying out the facts. One: The peacekeeping force will almost certainly be a paramilitary organisation, with more powers than a civil police force but more restrictions than a purely military force. Not only is it the best setup for what they’ll need to do, but believe me, it’s the only setup that the cabinet will be able to agree on. Between the hawks and the doves and the people who just want to agree on something so we can move on...” She grimaced. “I’ll propose it, the people who want to get something accomplished will seize on it as an acceptable compromise, and the die-hard radicals will be outvoted.

“Two: An organisation this important can not have a complete novice as its first commander. In the future, we’ll be able to appoint new commanders from within its ranks, but for now, we’ll have to choose somebody with experience in a related field; either a senior military officer, or a senior police official.

“Three: I managed to speak briefly to three experts on military history and five business management experts last night.”

“You have been busy,” Trowa murmured.

“I was lucky,” she sighed. “All but two of them live in time zones where our late evening is their office hours, and the other two are night owls. I caught them all awake, and in cooperative moods. I presented the situation to them as a rather vaguely defined hypothetical case, and they all agreed that when you are setting up an ‘in-between’ sort of organisation, like this one, you should start with someone who’s familiar with the broader range of capabilities -- in this case the military powers -- and have them set up the organisational structure while keeping the necessary parameters in mind. Apparently that’s easier than it is for someone who’s worked under narrower restrictions to, um, ‘spread out’ and make proper use of the wider powers they aren’t used to. Therefore, we need somebody military.

“And four: the main objection to Lady Une is that she was a major figure in OZ, correct?”

“Well, yes, that and the fact that threatening civilians is hardly proper behaviour for an officer!” Quatre protested.

Relena shook her head. “Hardly anyone knows about that. As Heero said, she didn’t manage to follow through on those threats, and as Duo said, she behaved much better after Treize Kushrenada made his views on the subject clear. Did she ever try something similar afterwards?”

“Ah... no...”

“Do you -- any of you -- think she is likely to do something like that again?”

“I wouldn’t’ve suggested her if I did,” Duo shrugged. After a pause for thought, Heero and Trowa shook their heads; then Quatre sighed and capitulated.

“She practically venerated Kushrenada, and I doubt that’s changed with his death. If anything, she’s now less likely to do something he’d disapprove of than she was when he was alive.”

“Good. You see,” Relena said wryly, spreading her hands, “as far as I can tell, just about every other plausible candidate is also a high-ranking member of OZ, or an ex-member of the Alliance military -- which is just as bad, if not worse -- or dead. Or some combination of the three.”

“Well, my first choice was actually Kushrenada, but I doubt we could get him to run the organisation through a Ouija board,” Duo piped up cheerfully.

“Heero, could you duck, please?” Relena asked sweetly, then pulled a small cushion out from behind her and threw it across the coffee table. Smirking, Heero ducked obligingly, and the cushion hit Duo full in the face, nearly ricocheting into the remains of the ice-cream cake before Trowa rescued it.

A faint smile curling the corner of his mouth, Trowa handed the cushion back to her with a bow. “In the interests of preventing this from degenerating into farce,” he began, “I suggest we--“

“That’s it!” Quatre exclaimed.


“That’s the perfect name!” the blond insisted. “Preventers. It puts the emphasis on preventing trouble, instead of putting it down after something happens.”

“Hn.” Heero nodded judiciously. “I like it.”

“I love it,” Relena agreed. “And it should even go some way towards reassuring some of the twitchier cabinet members!”

* * * * *


And people say the Chinese Water Torture is maddening, Wufei thought sourly, listening to the computer clock counting off the milliseconds. I’d be twitching by now if I had skin to do it with!

Somehow, even though he was managing to keep his personal perception of time close to normal, so that a second felt like a second and not several minutes, he could ‘hear’ each individual millisecond tick over, not just as an anonymous click but as a quiet mechanical voice stating the full time. Like listening to a speaking clock that’s been sped up a lot. ‘At the third stroke, it will be...’


...even though logically I can’t possibly be hearing -- and understanding -- a time-check every millisecond. It’s not as if I need that level of accuracy. Not even Heero tries to time his plans that closely!

A faint staticky noise came from Nataku’s speakers, the closest Wufei could come to growling under his breath. I will be very, very glad once I get back into my body. Very glad. As soon as I’ve got my body out where I can get into it, and the others are safe, and the cultists aren’t a threat, and that chain is off me-- Another staticky noise. I don’t believe that I’m acting as part of my own rescue party. Gah! If this were a mission, Duo would be commenting on how screwed-up it’s--


What the fuck?!

Luckily for everyone near Nataku’s feet, Wufei had found the independent subroutines that handled normal movement shortly after he’d got the Gundam to stand up. This meant that instead of him having to direct each step, Nataku was now walking on automatic pilot... and nobody got squashed when he reacted in startlement to the latest surprise the computers had sprung on him.

That was another computer alert -- a mission log this time, not a systems check -- but where’d it come from? I certainly didn’t write it!

A moment’s thought supplied the answer, as a few more milliseconds ticked by.


Nataku’s computers do have the capacity to run a search and gather related bits of information together in whatever format is required. If that search was triggered by me thinking of this as a mission, that explains why it brought up a mission profile. Still, it can only run a search on its own data banks, and I haven’t entered anything into them... about... oh.


I think it’s treating my memory as one of its data banks. Which means my connection to Nataku is closer than I thought. Which could mean that I’m going to start having the same problems I had when I was sharing Karthan’s body.

Which means I’d better get this finished and get back where I belong fast!


...Oh, shut up.



Uthmar could hear one of the dwarven lay brothers behind him, deep voice ‘encouraging’ the rest of the men. “Come on! Double-time it! We’ve got people to kill and people to save, and if you bunch of lily-livered halflings can’t keep up, Sergeant Karthan and the demons will get fed up with waiting and finish the job before you get there!”

“That’s Halvdan, isn’t it?” Arwen asked, jogging beside him.

“Uhuh,” Uthmar grunted affirmatively.

“We should probably recommend him for sergeants’ training,” the human Champion mused thoughtfully. “He doesn’t quite have Gunnar’s style, or Karthan’s flair with words, but he does have a certain... how should I put this...”

“I could kick your ass along this trail faster than you’re moving it!”

“...forceful authority?”


“I’d save the conversation for later, if I were you,” Cord suggested in a polite voice. “I’m thinking the little man is needing all his breath for running.”

“Not quite all,” Uthmar corrected him shortly, not glancing aside from his intent concentration on the faint trail they were following. “Saving enough to fight.”

“Ah, there, y’see?” the hradani smiled. “At most, talkin’s third on his list of things to use air on right now.”

“Mine too,” Arwen admitted. “Still, it was coming in handy for number one on my current list of things to do with my mind.”

“And that is...?”

“Thinking about something that is not endless variations on ‘bad things we might find in Sharna’s temple’. Oh, and also not ‘what the hell did we think we were doing, taunting a Dark god?!’.”

“From my point of view, there was no ‘we’ about it,” Cord grinned. “That was all you two, and quite impressive it was as well.”

“Don’t remind me,” Arwen groaned. “I still can’t believe I joined in...”

About to respond, Cord looked up and flattened his ears. “Now what’s got into Longshanks there?”

Nataku’s steps had been slow and fairly short, keeping the towering Gundam down to a pace the troop of humans and dwarves could maintain, but now it was accelerating, long strides taking it ahead.

“Wufei?” Arwen called anxiously, speeding up himself. “Wufei, wait! We can’t keep up if you go that fast!”

< < I have to hurry, > > came the response.

“Why? Is something-- no, of course something’s wrong,” the Champion muttered, shaking his head. “Ridiculous numbers of things are wrong. Is something else wrong?” he rephrased, raising his voice again. “Something new?”

< < No. > > A pause, and then a faint crackling noise. < < Not exactly something new. I need to get back into my body soon. That’s all. > >

“Yes, but if you get there ahead of us we can’t help-- gah. Looks like he’s stopped listening.”

Cord nodded, eyeing the receding Gundam with something like professional interest. “That big metal body’s got a good turn of speed, too, no matter how ponderous it looks.”

“There’s no way we’re going to be able to keep up,” Uthmar said, managing an exasperated voice through his panting. “If he runs into something he can’t handle alone -- if there’s a wizard-priest or another demon -- there won’t be a damn thing we can do to help!”

“I don’t know how much help I’d be against a demon,” Cord said mildly, “but there’s never been a wizard born whose magic will work properly on a hradani who’s given himself to the Rage. And I can keep up.”

“You can what?!” Arwen sputtered, almost falling over as he twisted to stare at Cord while still running. “How can you keep up with that?!” One hand waved at Nataku’s back, moving further away with each step. The trees on either side of the path weren’t far enough apart to allow the hulking machine to pass unobstructed, but they weren’t slowing its passage any more than long grass would slow one of the soldiers; Nataku was breaking branches and even pushing trees down when necessary, forging ahead without a pause.

“Th’ lad’s clearing me a nice path, isn’t he?” the hradani said cheerfully, one ear flicking up and down. “I’d be a fool not to take advantage of it, now wouldn’t I?” And with one last ear-flick he was gone, loping along in the Gundam’s wake with surprising speed.

The human Champion watched him go, looking as if he felt vaguely cheated. “How the hell does he move that fast without looking like it’s an effort? How the hell does he move that fast at all?! His legs aren’t that much longer than mine!”

“Yes they are,” Uthmar growled. “Now stop being jealous and concentrate on running.”



Disengage energy analysis mode, Wufei thought, focussing his thoughts in the mental ‘direction’ that would send the command to Nataku’s main processor. Scan local coordinates, motion and energy detection, and display map.


The requested map appeared with what felt like an almost smug -click-, and Wufei raised a mental eyebrow. So easy it’s beneath you, hmm?


There was a fair amount of motion visible on the contoured terrain map, small animals making good time away from the large disturbance in their territory, but no tracks large enough to be human (Humanoid, Wufei corrected himself) except for one coming up fast from behind.

Rear camera on. Zoom in-- oh, it’s Cord. So all the cultists must already be back in the temple; they can’t have run far and fast enough to be out of range in the time they’ve had. Sharna’s filthy green energy is all over the place, too, which is another reason to think that the temple entrance is here somewhere. I wasn’t able to get a clear idea of its location when I was brought in, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find it again!

Clear map overlay; switch to infrared scan, personnel temperature range, and display.


And... there it is. Wufei felt quite smug himself, looking at the slowly fading heat trails that showed where several dozen warm bodies, more or less human-sized, had moved not so long ago. The faint individual trails blended into one another, becoming stronger as they clumped together like the tributaries of a river, finally merging into one strong trace that ran down into a shadowed, rocky gully... and stopped.

Hm. Somehow I don’t think they all grew wings and flew away. Therefore... replace previous overlay... aha. Lots and lots of Sharna’s energy at the spot where the trace disappears, looking rather like that revolting green goo Duo put in Heavyarms’s gun ports once. I don’t have to think for very long to work out what that’s doing.

“Wufei!” Cord came to a stop near Nataku’s feet, not even breathing hard despite how fast he’d been running. “Have you found something?”

< < The entrance is here. > > Wufei pointed, curious to find out whether the hradani might be able to see something the scanners couldn’t pick up.

“Here? Are you sure?” He stepped up to the edge of the gully and then hesitated, peering into the dimness. “I can’t see it,” he muttered uncertainly.

< < I’m sure. It’s hidden, but it’s there, and the soldiers went in. > >

“If you’re sure...” Cord began to take another step forwards, then abruptly shuddered and took two quick steps backwards, hands clenching on the haft of Gunnar’s double-bladed axe. “Phrobus’s black balls!” he swore, ears flattening. “I’ve no notion what it is, but there’s something about that gully I don’t like at all, at all!”

< < I think it’s telling you that you aren’t welcome, > > Wufei told him, unfolding the Dragon Fang from Nataku’s right arm with a thought.

“Aye, well, hradani haven’t been welcome anywhere in this world for over a thousand years,” he said grimly, “and that hasn’t stopped us. D’you have a plan, lad, or are we just going to rush in there and kill anyone who tries to stop us?”

< < I don’t think I’d fit. This should work nicely, though; stand back. > > And the Dragon Fang dipped down and spat flame.

The thin grass and low, scrubby bushes in the gully blew away as ashes and smoke in the first seconds, and the earth between the rocks began to glaze over. Wufei was feeding the crackling white energy into the flamethrower, holding the focus of the flames on the main concentration of Sharna’s energy, and could see the sickly green clot eroding under the assault.

I don’t have that much fuel left for the Dragon Fang, he thought, vaguely worried. I’m not sure whether I can use that strange energy to fuel it if there isn’t some ‘normal’ flame to act as a carrier wave, or guide, or whatever--


That was not a request for an update, damn it. Still... 23% gives me about three minutes of flame at full intensity, and I’m using it at less than half strength. It shouldn’t take more than another ten seconds to finish this, so--


Thinking of time brought the soft murmur of the computer clock back to the forefront of Wufei’s awareness, and he wrenched his mind back to the task at hand with an effort.

It’s getting worse. It’s almost hypnotic now, not just irritating, but I can’t afford to get distracted. I have to get this done!


Yes, I know. The last large clot of green energy shrivelled into nothingness under Nataku’s fire, and a rock outcropping that had been behind it began to shimmer as Wufei shut the flamethrower down. At first it seemed to be nothing but heat waves, the same as the ones rising from every other inch of scorched ground, until a sudden ripple of blackness wiped away the image of the rocks and replaced it with an angular doorway. The stone above the opening had cracked and settled slightly, splitting the scorpion carved into it in half.

< < Ah, > > Wufei said, satisfied. < < You should be able to see it now, Cord. > >

The hradani peered cautiously out from his hiding place behind Nataku’s foot, then jerked back with an oath as the waves of heat radiating from the blasted rocks threatened to burn off his eyebrows. “Aye, well, since I don’t think I could look that way for more than a second without my eartufts catching fire, I’ll have to be taking your word for it,” he said sarcastically. “And it may have escaped your notice, bein’ all metal as you are now, but I’m thinking that the other lads and I might just be having a bit of trouble getting to that door.”

One hard strike from the Dragon Fang finished the job the fire had begun, shattering the stones and collapsing the entranceway. < < We’re not going to be using that door, and-- > >


< < --we’re not going to wait for the others. > >


Somehow, that last change to the mission profile seemed important. Wufei couldn’t take the time to think about it, though. The mission itself had priority.


Deploy seismic sensors. Run sonic mapping program, subterranean mode; display map.

Cord watched, bemused, as Nataku paced off a large triangle, driving a long metal spike into the ground at each corner before stalking off to one side. “An’ how is that going to be helping us?”




About to punch into the ground to provide a shockwave for the sensors to read and interpret, Wufei paused as his forward camera automatically highlighted something moving by his -- Nataku’s -- feet.

“Wufei! Lad, are you all right in there?”


There was no pressing need to respond to the query -- Cord didn’t have a clearance or a ‘need to know’ classification that would entitle him to mission and fitness reports -- but there was no pressing need to not respond, either, since he wasn’t tagged as hostile.

< < ...Cord? > >

“Didn’t you hear me? What are you doing?”


< < Echolocation. > >

Cord looked baffled. “What’s that when it’s at home?”

< < Priority task in progress. > >



< < Proceeding with primary objective. > >

The small figure at Nataku’s feet fell over and vocalised noisily when Wufei struck the ground to create the necessary shockwave, but as there seemed to be no information content in the sounds made, Wufei ignored it.


The complex of tunnels and chambers making up the underground temple showed clearly on the sonar map, easily distinguishable from the well-defined layers of rock beneath a thin skin of soil. Two areas of collapse showed up as blurred patches, one where the temple entrance had been, and the other where a tunnel widened into a large open space--


Smoothly, Nataku started to dig.


“I’m going to swat him,” Uthmar panted, glaring ahead to where Nataku’s head and shoulders were gleaming above the treetops. “Hard.”

Arwen snorted. “Which one? Wufei or Cord?”


“I’d advise you to wait until Wufei’s back in his own body, then. Swatting him could be a bit painful for you right now, and I doubt he’d even feel it.”

“Not if I use Torframos’s power to do it,” the dwarf growled, eyes narrowing. “He’d feel that.”

“Don’t you dare!”

“Got a reason why not?”

“Because Cord would never let you live it down if you used your power to swat someone for being irritating after you didn’t want to use it against Sharna’s cultists,” Arwen said reasonably. “And I would never let you live it down either, since you’ve never let me forget the time I summoned my axe to show off in front of those girls.”

“...It still might be worth it.”

Arwen rolled his eyes. “All right, it would be setting a bad example for the men. Especially Vaijon. Therefore I order you not to.”

“I have seniority!” Uthmar objected, slowing to a trot as the group neared the still demon. Behind them, the armsmen began to fan out in a practiced manoeuvre, not really needing the orders Halvdan barked; those close enough to hear the low-voiced conversation between the two Champions were grinning through their beards.

“Vaijon’s still officially my responsibility, which means this matter comes under my authority, therefore seniority means nothing and I get to make the rules,” Arwen said triumphantly. “No swatting allowed.”

“You’re such a spoilsport, Arwen.”

“Just returning what you’ve done to me for years, Uthmar.”

Nataku was kneeling in a clear space, an area where the underlying rock was too close to the surface to permit trees to grow. Two-thirds of it was a stony field with areas of scrubby bushes and short grass, unremarkable except for a large freshly-dug hole in front of the metal demon; the other third was a gully, blasted sooty black and smoking.

“Now I see what you meant when you said Wufei and Nataku ‘burned clean’ an altar to Sharna,” Arwen said, dropping the bantering tone from his voice. “This whole area feels wrong, somehow, except for that dip over there.”

“You haven’t run into a major temple to a Dark god before, have you?” Uthmar asked in a seeming non-sequitur. “Not since you became a Champion, at least?”

“Uh... no.”

“Remember that feeling,” the dwarf said seriously. “Every Champion can sense a strong concentration of Dark power, but we all do it differently. For me, there’s a smell, something like burning and dust. Sir Kieran feels queasy; sometimes he’s actually ill after everything’s over. You, it seems, get a feeling of something being ‘wrong’. We can sense strong Light power too, as an opposite.”

Arwen blinked. “So that’s why I’m always so comfortable in the Motherhouse? It feels ‘right’?”

“Exactly. To me, it always smells like warm spice and flowers -- even when the floors have just been rewaxed and everyone else is complaining that it smells like hot lemon soap.”

“And Wufei sees power as puddles of light?”

It was Uthmar’s turn to be surprised. “...Yes,” he said slowly, thinking hard. I took it for granted that he had powers because he was a demon, but... the ability to clearly sense a god’s power is an ability gods and Champions have. I don’t think even magi can do it. Why does he have a Champion’s power when I know he hasn’t accepted Krashnark’s offer?

“Where’s Cord?” the human Champion asked, cutting across Uthmar’s train of thought.

Back to business -- but I’ll come back to this later! “I don’t see him,” he replied, looking around. “If he’s gone and got himself into trouble by running ahead, I’m going to swat him no matter what you say.”

“If he’s gotten himself into trouble, you won’t need to swat him,” Arwen pointed out. “I don’t see any cultists, and he was with Nataku-- uh, Wufei-- so he should be--“

Cord’s face appeared above the rim of the hole Nataku had dug, dirt-streaked and grinning. “What took you so long, little man?”

“We decided you and Wufei could handle it all by yourselves, so we stopped for a snack,” Uthmar called sarcastically. “Where are they?”

“’They’? Oh, you mean Sharna’s bootlickers?” the hradani said innocently. “Like you said, we handled them all by ourselves.”


“Well, to be truthful, Wufei handled them,” Cord admitted, pulling himself up out of the hole. “That nice little furnace over there--“ he jerked a thumb at the gully-- “is where their front door was, and he tracked ‘em into it before he broke it down. This little mole hole is the new entrance to their torture chamber or shrine or whatever you want to call it; I guess the lad decided he should make a new door, since Karthan and the others tell me he blocked up the old one before he ever came out to join us and got in Nataku. An’ they also tell me that most of these wilderness temples have only the one door to the outside air, which leaves Sharna’s bully boys trapped in their own tunnels until they dig their way out. Now how’s about a hand getting the boys up out of here? Sharna’s hospitality’s not so good that they want to be taking their time about leaving...”

The two Champions stared at him for a moment, then turned to each other.

“Can I?”

“As soon as we’ve got everyone out of there, be my guest.”


With plenty of helpers available to lend a hand with ropes and plain brute strength, it didn’t take long to get the half-dozen armsmen who’d been captured with Wufei up out of the sacrificial chamber. The hardest parts were bringing up Vaijon, who could only use one hand to pull himself up, and Wufei -- well, Wufei’s body. It was immediately apparent even to the few armsmen who still weren’t quite sure what had been going on with Nataku and the dragon made of white fire that there was nothing of Wufei’s mind left in what looked uncomfortably like a breathing corpse.

Cord scratched one ear and looked uneasily at the limp form, wrapped in ragged strips of bloodstained green silk and a warm coat one of the human armsmen had been wearing over his armour. “I’d not want you to be thinking I’m doubting your word, Karthan, but... are you sure the lad can just pop himself out of Nataku and back into his own body again?”

“No,” Karthan said, biting off the word sharply. “I’m not.”

“What do you mean by that?” Uthmar asked. “And-- hell’s teeth, Karthan, what happened to you?!”

Karthan shrugged, doing a very poor job of trying to look unconcerned as he straightened up... and up, showing that he was now at least four inches taller than the tallest of the other dwarves. His clothes hung oddly on him, too wide and too short; his pants legs were pulling out of the tops of his boots, and the worn place showing where his belt was usually fastened was now a couple of inches beyond the buckle. “Wufei happened to me,” he explained, holding his arms out to the sides as if to show off his new body shape. “The priest was starting the sacrifice, and Wufei sort of... went away inside himself. That spoiled the sacrifice. The priest couldn’t get him back, so he asked Sharna to, and Sharna messed it up and pulled him right out of his body, which completely ruined things.”

“A god made that sort of mistake?” somebody muttered doubtfully.

=*If it’s Sharna, I can believe it,*= Torframos muttered in his Champions’ heads.

“This is Sharna we’re talking about,” Karthan snapped, unconsciously echoing him. “Up until then, Wufei had been cut off from his link to me and blocked from using his powers by a hooked chain around his neck -- there was a spell on it, it burned Sir Vaijon when he tried to take it off,” he added, speaking quickly. “Once he was out of his body, he was away from the chain, we got the link back, and somehow it pulled him right into me.”

“And that did this to you?” Arwen asked.

“It was Sir Wufei who defeated the cultists, fighting in Karthan’s body,” Vaijon put in, looking anxious. “Afterwards, he spoke to me. He was... in considerable distress; he said that they were beginning to blend and run together, mind and body, and he had to get out before it was too late. He went to Nataku partly because he could not yet go back to his own body, and partly because he believed you would need help.”

“I think he got out before we did anything to each other’s minds,” Karthan went on. Except that we now have a lot more of each other’s memories... “I don’t know yet if the changes to my body are permanent. The point is, he’s been in Nataku a lot longer than he was in me!”

“But he’s in and out of Nataku all the time,” Uthmar began, not understanding.

“He spends a lot of time linked to Nataku,” Karthan corrected him. “When he does it, he’s in his own body. It’s different this time!”

“If he’s all right, why isn’t he already back in his body?” Vaijon pointed out. “The chain is off him, he’s out of the temple, and he doesn’t need to be in Nataku any more!”

“He was acting odd just before he started digging you out,” Cord said slowly, looking up at the silent metal figure. “He hasn’t said a word since...”

“Wufei?” Uthmar called tentatively.






“What do we do?” Arwen said softly, half to Uthmar and half to Torframos. “Is there something we can do? Is Wufei still in there?”

=*I can’t tell you,*= the god said regretfully, soft voice seeming to come from a point between them. =*I can’t even see them except through your eyes, remember?*=

“He’s there,” Karthan said definitely. “He hasn’t faded, or dissolved, or anything like that, but I can’t feel him properly. The link is almost closed, and... it’s like he’s asleep, or nearly so. I tried to yell at him, but nothing happened.”

“And our power comes from Torframos, so it’s not likely we can do something he can’t,” Uthmar said. “This isn’t exactly something I can heal!”

“What about Krashnark?”

The two Champions looked at Karthan, startled.

“I’m serious. What about Krashnark? He can see Wufei -- remember Wufei complaining about being watched all the time? He wants Wufei as his Champion! That gives him a link to Wufei, right? Maybe he can do something!”

Uthmar and Arwen looked at each other.

“I’m not sure asking a Dark god for help is exactly something we should be doing,” Uthmar began, “but... well, asking a Light god for a favour wasn’t something he should have been doing, either. I don’t think the normal rules apply here. Torframos? What do you think?”

The being who answered them, however, was not Torframos.

=*Since I’m not waiting around for you to ask, we won’t worry about the technicalities,*= said a deep, tightly controlled voice out of nowhere. =*Place him in his seat, and leave the rest to me.*=

“Wh-- what are you going to do?” Arwen stammered.

=*I promised I wouldn’t nag him any more. I think it’s time to break that promise.*=


Karthan’s recollection of what he’d seen in various glimpses of Wufei’s memories was clear enough for him to find the concealed switch that would open Nataku’s hatch and lower the drop wire, making the task of getting Wufei’s body inside possible. It still took the combined efforts of four men, lifting from below and pulling on ropes from above, to raise him up in an improvised sling built of branches and clothes; they were as careful as they could be, but fresh blood was spotting his bandages by the time they had him lying on the floor in the cockpit.

“Can’t we just leave him like this?” Halvdan asked dubiously, looking at Karthan and then nervously upwards. “If we put him in the chair, either he’ll fall straight out again or the belts will cut into his wounds.”

=*I said put him in the chair,*= Krashnark said sharply. =*I may not have time to try this more than once, so everything in here has to be as close to normal as possible. Normal, in this case, means in the chair. He can heal later!*=

If he has a ‘later’, he thought, hovering invisible and insubstantial as he watched them fuss around the body. My Champion... my future Champion... he has a future! I won’t accept anything else!

“Now what?” Karthan asked, stepping back. They’d tried to pad the safety harness, but his borrowed memories hadn’t told him how to adjust it quickly, and there hadn’t been room for much cloth to be folded between straps and skin. The little they’d managed to fit in was quickly soaking through with blood, and Wufei was slumped sideways, head and arms dangling.

=*Leave,*= Krashnark told him. =*Close the armour behind you.*=

“Do you know how long--?”

=*No. Now leave!*=

As soon as he was alone with Wufei, Krashnark materialised, bending over him. His normal ten-foot-tall materialisation would never have fit in the cramped quarters of the cockpit, so he made adjustments without really thinking about it, ending up with a form that was broader but not much taller than Wufei. If he had thought about it, he would have realised that he had actually made himself considerably shorter than Vaijon, something that would normally have offended him terribly.

“I know you can hear me,” he began, looking around at the inactive screens and softly glowing lights. “I know you’re in here. You can’t get away from me that easily! Did you think that leaving your body would make me leave you alone? You’re mine, Wufei, my destined Champion, and if I have my way not even death will be able to separate you from me.”

He went on, picking words that he knew would infuriate Wufei, and hoped that he was right about the human/demon being able to hear him.



Nataku’s computers came to a slightly higher level of activity, preparing various systems for possible action. Inside the half-ruined temple, in the pile of clothes the priest had cut off Wufei, the flat watch he normally wore under his left wristband began to vibrate in a coded pattern.


I seem to be having some effect, at least, Krashnark thought, eyeing a small screen that was now lit. A block of small characters appeared, filling themselves in from the top line down, then paused as if waiting for something. I hope that’s good...

“It’s your destiny -- your duty -- to join me, to lead my forces against any fool who would defy us. We can start by crushing those idiots clustered around your knees; they worship the wrong gods, and it would be so easy to do, after all. All you have to do is to stand up and step on them. Of course, if you’re going to stand up, first you have to wake up...”

A few more lines of text wrote themselves on the screen, and the whole block scrolled up slightly. Nothing else happened.

That girl he compared me to once, what was her name? Relena? What did he hate most about her? Oh, yes, I remember-- “If you’d just think about it a little you’d see that I’m right,” he went on. “You belong as my Champion. Any rational, reasonable person who takes the time to consider my arguments would be able to see that, and so I can’t possibly accept any answer other than ‘yes’. I’d be doing you a disservice if I allowed you to diminish yourself by not fulfilling your natural function.”

More text wrote itself... but this time, Krashnark thought he felt a spark of sleepy annoyance, as if something was grumbling in its sleep.



...go ‘way...


Still talking, saying anything that came into his head, Krashnark let one hand slip down from the back of the chair to Wufei’s shoulder. Is he warm enough? he worried. He looks pale, and his skin is cooler than the air... is that right? Mortal bodies aren’t meant to be without their spirits, and-- He bent closer. Is he breathing properly?

This has gone on too long! I know he can hear something of what I’m saying -- I’ve got to come up with something that will shock him awake!

“Well, we both know that you were meant to be mine,” he said, trying to sound as arrogant and offensive as he could. “It’s a self-evident truth that you’re just too stubborn and hidebound to admit.”


“In fact,” Krashnark added desperately, “I’m going to make you my Champion right now. That’s all right with you, isn’t it?”


“Silence will be taken as assent! If you don’t actually wake up and say ‘no’ to my face, out loud, I’m going to assume you mean ‘yes’ and do it!”

A burst of angry static came from the internal speakers. < < Damn it, Krashnark, don’t you dare-- huh? What’sssszzzzrrrkkkk-- > >

Krashnark lunged desperately at the speakers as Wufei’s voice trailed off into static. “Wufei, wake up! Stay awake! You’ve got to stay awake and get back into your body RIGHT NOW!”



...what’s... going on...? Krashnark...?

“Get back into your body! Can you hear me? Wufei!”


Shut up!

The soft mechanical voice faded into the background as Wufei forced himself to concentrate.

Back into my body? But... I am in my body... aren’t I?

A mental blink turned his vision inwards, showing him circuits drawn in flickering lightning, power plant burning like a muted star, inactive systems barely visible. Overlaying the precise lines and angles was a similar but more rounded form, glowing faintly green-white, feeling more like him than the rest, with thin silver cords spinning out from it; one to the sharp-edged shape drawn in lightning, one somehow through that shape and drifting off beyond vision, one to a small warm-glowing figure a short distance away, and one to--

Oh. He means that body.

There was no particular reason for him to do what the desperate voice told him to... but there was no particular reason for him not to, either.


Wufei cried out, spasming in his seat as he returned to a body in serious pain, and Krashnark caught his shoulders to ease him upright. “Wufei! Don’t move, you’ll only hurt yourself.”

“...Krashnark...?” The voice was a cracked, breathy whisper, but recognisably Wufei’s, and undeniably rational.

“Yes?” the god answered, one hand under Wufei’s chin to gently help him raise his head.

“Don’t... you dare.”

Krashnark had to laugh. “Forgive me,” he said wryly, “but I had to find something to say that would shake you back to awareness. I promise, that’s the only lie I’ve ever told you. I can not make you my Champion without your willing consent.”

“Good.” Wufei started to say something else, lifting his right hand, then gasped in pain as the movement flexed muscles around the stab wound in his palm.

“I said don’t move!” Still holding Wufei’s shoulder, Krashnark freed one hand to carefully lift the wounded arm. “I can’t heal you directly, but I can take the pain from you. Shall I?”

Seeming not to hear him, Wufei pawed left-handed at the buckle of his restraints until Krashnark hissed in irritation and reached for it himself, pushing the quick-release button. Well before Wufei would have been able to manage it himself, Krashnark had helped him to stretch out on the cockpit floor in the closest thing to a comfortable position he could manage.

“I thought gods... weren’t allowed... to interfere in the world.”

“A minor physical action like that doesn’t count,” Krashnark said dismissively, waving it off. “All I did was release a catch. You would have done it yourself in a moment.”

“Sophist,” Wufei gasped, managing a faint imitation of his best sardonic tones.

“Stiff-necked masochist,” Krashnark retorted. “Are you going to let me ease the pain or not?” He saw the faint flicker of doubt in Wufei’s eyes almost before the Gundam pilot felt it himself, and shook his head. “No debts incurred,” he insisted. “No ‘catch’, as humans would put it, no bribe intended, and I expect no gratitude. It’s just that... Sharna went beyond what was permitted him, and harmed you in an attempt to harm me. I have the right to go one step beyond what would normally be permitted, and help you, but I will not do so without your permission.” He waited a moment, eyes intent, hand brushing a strand of black hair out of Wufei’s face. “Will you allow it?”

“I... appreciate the offer,” Wufei whispered, eyes slipping shut. “Truly. But I think it would be best if I do not accept.”


There was a long, dangerous pause; then the tension drained out of the air, and Krashnark sighed. “There’s a fine line between arguing and nagging,” he said softly, “and I don’t want to break my promise again. As you wish.” He stood, reaching to push a button on one of the control panels, and vanished as Nataku’s hatch began to open.

=*Torframos’s Champions should be able to help you heal, in any case,*= came the grudging admission. =*I’ll see you again soon.*=

End chapter 30

[The Gundam pilots are standing in the living room, surveying the fish tanks.]

DUO: They had four fish tanks when they started this chapter. Now there’s seven. Is it just me, or is this new obsession of theirs getting just a little bit out of hand?

WUFEI: It’s not getting out of hand.

DUO: Oh really?!

WUFEI: It’s already a lot out of hand. They have another four-and-a-half-foot tank on layby, and they’re already planning what to put in it.

HEERO: I’m more worried about what they’re going to name what they put in it.

QUATRE: Well, you have to admit that the Siamese fighting fish does look like a Butch. I think it’s the underslung jaw that does it.

TROWA: Didn’t you hear? They’ve changed his name.

QUATRE: Oh? What to?

TROWA: Janus. He’s the Theran Emperor in Warped Mirrors.

QUATRE: ...He does look fairly imperial, yes...

TROWA: The school of neon and cardinal tetras that follow him around are his courtiers, and the bristlenose catfish in that tank is Sergei.

WUFEI: Wonderful. The insult to my Gundam gets worse every time I turn around. Nataku is stuck sharing a species with fish named after a megalomaniac and a lovesick stalker -- oh, and they’ve named another one of them Shenlong!

DUO: Well at least your fish aren’t googly-eyed!

WUFEI: No! They’re sucker-mouthed spotty black things that look like sea slugs with tails! Am I supposed to be grateful that their eyes don’t stick out?!

DUO: Yes! I’ll trade you!

[Meanwhile, in one of the tanks... Sandrock, a sucking catfish, is ‘innocently’ following several goldfish (Rashid, Deathscythe, Wing Zero, Heavyarms, Jessica and Gomez) around, while two bristlenose catfish (Shenlong and Nataku) watch with bored expressions. Insofar as fish can be said to have expressions, that is.]

HEAVYARMS: Get the fuck off me, Sandrock!

SANDROCK: Oops, was that your tail? I was aiming to clean this leaf over here, really.

GOMEZ: That’s no leaf, that’s me!

SANDROCK: My bad, so sorry. Accident.

JESSICA: How could you possibly mistake my darling Gomez for a leaf? He’s bright orange!

GOMEZ: Ahhh, cara mia, you noticed...

SANDROCK (quietly): Target acquired. Range six centimetres... five... four... three... two... oh shit, he moved!

RASHID: Well duh! Do you really think I’m going to stay still and wait for you to suck my scales off?!

SANDROCK: A fish could hope.

WING ZERO: He doesn’t bother me much.

DEATHSCYTHE: Oh, gee, d’ya think it could have something to do with the second part of your name? Zero?!

SANDROCK: Do I look stupid to you?

NATAKU: He doesn’t bother us, either, and we don’t have any Zero connotations.

SANDROCK: No, but you’re ugly and you taste like shit!

[Deathscythe snickers. Shenlong and Nataku look at each other and nod... kind of.]

SHENLONG: At least we’re not googly-eyed freaks.

DEATHSCYTHE: HEY! I didn’t say anything... out loud! And at least tasting bad means he doesn’t hassle you! Tasting good is nothing for us to be proud of!

NATAKU: Point.

SANDROCK: Oh, hey, there’s Mel and Christy. La la la... just doin’ my job... suckin’ the algae... wups, is that your fin?

DEATHSCYTHE: GOD DAMMIT SANDROCK! Oi, Mel, Christy, look! Look what he’s doing! Get him offa me!

SANDROCK: Theyyyyyyy’re not looking. Jaws theme! Dun dun... dun dun... dun dun dun dun dun dun... target acquired! Five... four... dangit, Rashid, don’t move! Uh, I mean, I thought you were a rock.

SHENLONG: If you don’t watch out, you’ll get sent to the prison tank.

NATAKU: The Big-- er, Small House.

SHENLONG: Yeah. Where Zechs, Treize, Epyon and Tallgeese will all gang up on you.

SANDROCK: Hmph. Like I’m afraid of those wusses! Epyon and Tallgeese have two huge goldfish in with them, and have they taken advantage of all that yummy target area? They have not.

NATAKU: Well duh. You said it yourself.

SHENLONG: Zechs and Treize ARE HUGE.

NATAKU: Not to mention scary.

SHENLONG: Epyon and Tallgeese spend half their time hiding under the filter.

NATAKU: Mel and Christy are looking again. Go ahead. Try something.

SHENLONG: Make Zechs’s day.

SANDROCK: Ehhh, Mel and Christy like me. They think I’m cute. They don’t remember that Wing isn’t the only one who can go ZERO SYSTEM! CHARRRRGE!!!

[Shenlong moves one centimetre out of the way, and Sandrock impacts the glass head-on.]

SANDROCK: ...ow.

NATAKU: We’re ugly.

SHENLONG: We taste bad.

NATAKU: And we’re devious.

DEATHSCYTHE: Ooh, ooh, ooh, look! Someone’s come within five feet of the tank! Quick, everyone, line up in front of the glass and do the Seductive Dance of ‘Feed Me Now Dammit’!

[Back in the main room...]

DUO: C-chan? I think there’s something wrong with your fish. They’re all going berserk.

CHRISTY: No, that’s just them attempting to look pitiful and starving. They all do it, even the guppies. Well... Janus doesn’t.

MEL: He’s learning, though.


MEL: What? No comments on the chapter?

KRASHNARK: I’m not saying a word.

WUFEI (suspiciously): Why not?

KRASHNARK: If I say anything, I’ll either piss you off or inspire the onnas to do something else to you. So I’m keeping my mouth shut.

WUFEI: Fair enough. I had fairly similar reasons for keeping quiet myself.

DUO: Ditto.

[Heero, Trowa and Quatre nod.]

QUATRE: It seemed like the best thing to do.

HEERO: Strategically sound.

SPIKE: Better than giving you a reason to write about me.

ARDETH: Legolas told me it was a good idea, then went and hid somewhere. I can’t find him.

CHRISTY: You’re all just no fun lately.

MEL: Luckily, we have access to someone who will comment on the chapter.

HEERO: Oh no, not again...

DUO: Yes! Ethness!

QUATRE: You have to admit, it is fun-eth.

TROWA: No I don’t.

CHRISTY: Oh, c’mon Tro-baby, don’t be a sourpuss! We’ve got Heero to do that for us.

[Dogmatix appears in a shower of Official Pseudo-Biblical Chroniclerereth Sparkly Dust, sorting through a handful of pages and multicoloured sticky notes, muttering to herself. She finally notices another yellow Post-It note stuck to her robes, pulls it off and attaches it to a page.]

DOGMATIX: Ah, there it is! *ahem* Hear ye, hear ye, here beginneth the Fifth Book of Eth, which continueth on from the Fourth Book of Eth, which... um... we don’t seem to have-eth full records here, but as far as we can tell, the Fourth Book of Eth was in reality the Tiny Writing on the Back of the Tax-Deductible Pizza of Eth. And we’re not-eth going to go on with the whole ‘continuethed on from’ schtick, because quite frankly we’ve lost-eth track.

SCHULDIG: Sounds fair to me!

DOGMATIX: Yea, verily, and the Fifth Book of Eth is the Massive Collection of Sticky Notes of Eth!

[Dogmatix finally looks around, beaming, and sees all the fish tanks with lights and multicoloured fishies and stuff. Her eyes get big.]

DOGMATIX: Ooooooooh, shiny! Fisheth!

HEERO: We noticed.

DOGMATIX: There’s goldfisheth and tetraseth and catfisheth and guppieseth and barbseth and bettaseth... Me liketh the squooshy black ones. Remindeth me of a bulldog we used to haveth. Heh.

WUFEI: Am I the only person who appreciates what an insult it is to my Gundam to have those flat things named after it?!

DUO: Yes. Dealeth.

DOGMATIX: To continueth! As they have demolished-eth the aforementioned icecream cake, Relena andeth the four G-boys didst plotteth and schemeth some more concerning the now namedeth Preventers. Also the merits of clean funds in-eth conjunction with frilly aprons. And forthwith we doth turneth our attention upon such mighty Dragons as art found that lurketh ‘neath unearthly, star-forged metal rather than their own flesh. Which be-eth somewhat to the good, one canst pointeth out, as the one thusly displaced canst aideth in recovery of the missing persons-eth, e’en though he shouldst thus outpaceth his fellows.

HEERO: I was right. It does get worse every time you hear it.

DOGMATIX: Oi! We just read-eth Gawain and the Green Knight. It has-eth its influence. Oh, and I musteth at this juncture query -- doth anyone else imagineth the fair elven Arwen of Rivendell clad-eth in hardy travel garb, tradingeth jokes, mighty axe slung-eth across her back?


DOGMATIX: Nay? Just me-eth, eh?


CHRISTY: A man of few words, but pertinent ones.

DOGMATIX: Oh well. But! Insidious be-eth the creeping tendrils of time, cutteth sliver-thin and evermore counteth-ing onwards as the relentless waves upon-eth the battered shore. Yea, our mighty Dragon Prince findeth thoughts now channelled, blinders closeth around his mind-eth, and thoughts closer and closer wind-eth. Forsooth, it seemeth the Demon Royal has losteth himself as soon as he didst findeth himself. Caught fast waseth he uponeth the spider’s web, heedless of the entreaties from below-eth.

WUFEI: It wasn’t that dramatic!

DOGMATIX: Dire straits befalleth him now, and lo! Behold! For the Great Krashnark hath flung-eth his heart out to aid-eth his Champion-under-eth-negotiation, and doth cajole, doth plead, doth calleth home the wayward spirit--

SCHULDIG: Doth naggeth!

DOGMATIX: Heehee! True! Doth naggeth home the wayward spirit, to pain-wracked mortal coil-eth.

KRASHNARK: Don’t knock it, it worked!

DOGMATIX: The Dragon Prince, now returned, was-eth not much enamoured of his pain, but was-eth, forsooth, himself again. And here endeth the tax-deductible pizza-- er, no, that was the last one. Here endeth the Fifth Book of Eth, written on the many many sticky notes of Eth!

[Duo cheers, Quatre applauds politely, and Schuldig snickers. Dogmatix bows, and disappears in another cloud of sparkly dust.]

HEERO: So. How long before the fishtanks crowd us out?

WUFEI: Not long, I’d say. There’s seven now, and--


WUFEI: What?!

MEL: There’s another three outside for baby medakas. Cute little yellow fishies, but they breed like nobody’s business.

HEERO: Maybe we should start eating them.

CHRISTY: You eat our cute fishies, boyo, and we’ll hogtie you, strip you naked, cover you in honey, and let the old Relena loose.

DUO: Ooooo. Harsh!

HEERO: *glk!*



Chapter 31

Gundam Wing


















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