t was on Thursday, during the lunch rush hour, when Luna realized she had to go save the world.
    Most people have a limited form of psychic power.  Usually they can get a pang that says 'you left the iron on', or 'it's a good time to write a letter home', or 'maybe Fluffy needs more food and water'.  It's all just a matter of what your common, every day activities are, the things that resonate best with you.  For Luna, it was being a savior of mankind.  She wasn't the least bit surprised when she was busy jotting down an order for spare ribs, and the thought occurred to her, 'maybe it's time to go save the world.'
    It didn't feel very urgent, so she made sure to finish her sweeps through the restaurant, and collect her tips.  She returned to the kitchen, took off her apron, and calmly informed her employer that she had to go prevent the end of the world.
    "Again?" he asked.
    "Yup," Luna said.  "Timing's bad, I know..."
    "The renovations on the tea room are almost done," he noted.  "We're going to need our best staff to cover them, give the right impression for opening day... are you sure it can't wait?"
    "Ceipheed's calling," Luna said gravely.  "Personally."
    "That deep, huh," the manager said, stroking his cheesy beard.  (His wife liked it on him, but he really hated keeping it trimmed, Luna knew.)  "I guess it's unavoidable.  When do you think you'll be back?"
    "If I succeed, soon," Luna said.  "If not... ya'know.  I'll need Ang."
    "Oh, you can have HER," the manager prompted, in the tone of voice he always reserved for discussing the restaurant's latest employee.  "I was thinking of firing her anyway.  ...with your permission, of course.  I mean, she drops dishes, gets orders wrong, and the staff... well, she depresses them."
    "Ang's having some probs," Luna said.  "Phase.  She'll grow outta."
    "I know how that is, I know how that is," the manager repeated, as he often did when trying to show his ethos.  "You know Rennie, my daughter, right?  She's into that whole teenage angst thing right now.  Perfectly miserable around the house.  But Angela's a grown woman..."
    "Not 'xactly," Luna shrugged.  "Let's say she hadda grow up recently.  Fast."
    Dragons aren't supposed to dream.  At the very least, they do not dream as humans do; they know their dreams mean something, visions brought on by their highly magical natures.  It's reported that Mazoku are similar... but they probably only have nightmares.  Which would explain a few things to Angela.  All she'd been having since her.. accident were nightmares.
    She tried to simply get less sleep to avoid them, but this never worked.  It meant she'd simply be drained of energy during the day, prone to napping or spacing out... and then the nightmares were worse, because they weren't the easily ignored, heavy duty visions.  They were faint glimpses of horrors and terrors.  It was all the usual stuff... the Councils of Dragons denouncing her, accusing her of her sins -- sins she couldn't deny any more.
    She worked with the Mazoku.  She sought glory for herself, and power.  She put the creed of the Dragons, the preservation of all life, and placed it off to the side in favor of her own goals.  Finally, she allowed a Mazoku to 'heal' her... cursing her body with a Mazoku's leathery bat wing, mismatching her own angelic bird's wing.  Sure, she could make these wings vanish when she wanted, but they were always there, under her mental skin...
    And oh, did they surface in dreams.  Again and again, seeing the tainted form they represented.  A constant stream of self loathing and lucid understanding, seeing what she always told herself she wasn't played out before her, torn from her by Nightmare himself, before Lina destroyed the horrible creature... Angela was a hypocrite, a liar, a sneak, a glutton, a fool...
    A check pad bounced off her forehead, waking her up.
    "Oi, Angs," Luna called from across the restaurant.  "Wakey."
    "I was just resting my eyes," Angela lied.  She could identify and catalogue every lie now, instead of glossing them over...
    "Lyin'," Luna said, recognizing.  "S'okay, though.  Gotta get sleep somehow, yannow?"
    Angela sighed, slumping.  "What do you want?  I'm not on shift for another hour..."
    "Shift's over," Luna said.  "Ceipheed needs us."
    A perk ran up Angela's spine.  "What?  The King of Dragons?"
    "Only Ceipheed I know," Luna smirked.  "C'mon."
    "What does he want with me?  Haven't I paid enough for my sins?  What--"
    "Cool it," Luna said, cutting her off.  "Gonna sprain yer tongue.  S'nothing bad.  C'mon."
    Angela straightened herself as best as she could, instincts to carry herself like royalty kicking in as she fell in step next to Luna.  "Where exactly IS Ceipheed?... if you don't mind me asking.  None of the Dragons seem to know, after all..."
    "Oh, he's downstairs," Luna said.
    Angela paused in her tracks.
    "Excuse me, but I could swear you said--"
    "Basement," Luna nodded.
    "What is the most powerful god of righteousness doing in the basement of a three star restaurant?!" Angela gaped.
    In the basement, there was a half-filled wine rack with vintages from a whole three months ago.  There were preserved cheeses, some of which were home to a vast number of rats.  Dust.  Cobwebs.  A single hanging lamp, with a light spell Luna put there to save the manager some money on lamp oil.  It did not look like the home to the king of Dragons.
    Granted, there was that gigantic locked oaken door, but none of the staff ever took notice of it.  Even Angela hadn't; it surprised her when they descended into the familiar basement, and there it was... as if the light simply hadn't fallen on it before, or it had blended into the wine rack, or Angela's memory simply skipped over...
    "S'okay," Luna said, studying Angela.  "I put a spell onnit.  Basic ignore-me."
    "Oh.." Angela said, totally unfamiliar with that spell.  "I see.  That makes sense."
    Luna produced the key to the door, probably the only key that existed and probably not made of any naturally occurring metal, and unlocked the door.  It opened undramatically into a dark room, and she walked right through.  Angela proceeded a few steps behind, hesitatingly...
    It was hard to identify where the walls were.  There was barely any light at all, the dim light from the cellar stopping just a foot or two short of the open door; not nearly enough to be of any use.  Angela kept very still, fearful of stepping into some void she could not recognize.
    Luna recited the incantation.
    "Yo, Ceph," she called.  "I see ya."
    And a light winked into existence, a light which had always been there; simply inactive.  It was like a tiny blue spark of energy, reflecting off a great ocean of water, an ocean which couldn't conceivably fit down here.
    The spark was Ceipheed.
    It has been a long time, Ceipheed said, a voice that spoke directly into Angela's mind, in her native dialect.  It was a gentle, ringing voice, like the chiming of a small bell.
    "Yeah," Luna agreed.  "Wazzup?"
    The end times have begun.  I can feel the pangs of future troubles, Ceipheed said, with concern.  I cannot take the helm of the Dragons.  I am too weak after the previous war... however, I have planned ahead for this occurrence.
    "N'ever mind, g'wan."
    You are my plan, my Knight.  This is not a quest any of my children could do alone, but a human... a human posesses the chaos that could swing the tide in favor of eternal, sustained Life.  There is no war in the classical sense, but there is a battle of great import to win.  You have much to do.
    "'kay.  What's the score?"
    The light flared one moment, reflecting in Luna's eyes... despite her eyes being closed, underneath those waves of bangs.
    "Oh, 'kay," she said, recognizing whatever transmission Ceipheed gave her.  "Gonna bring Angs.  Cool?"
    Angela's throat seized, as she felt the eyes of Ceipheed scan her soul.
    She is not a Dragon, he proclaimed.  She is a half-breed.  I see no value in regards to the plan for humanity's future.
    There's nothing quite like being told by your personal god that you are a lesser being.  Angela's shoulders slumped lower than they had all day.
    But Luna's look hardened.  "You got a plan, I got a plan.  Angs's crucial.  You wanna write'r off, I'll skip out too."
    Ceipheed was taken aback by this, as far as it was possible for the god of goodness to seem reproachful.  Do you not have faith in me, Luna Inverse? he asked.
    "Sure thing," Luna smiled.  "S'long as you got faith in me.  We're tight.  Trust me."
    The light of Ceipheed, business complete, winked out.  In the faint after images, like staring directly at a lamp for too long, Angela could swear she saw the faint outline of the largest, most beautiful dragon she could imagine... sleeping and undisturbed.
    Preparing for the journey was a task.
    Angela normally wouldn't even consider heading out into the world without her full wardrobe, magically stored and summonable at a moment's notice.  Her evening gowns, ballroom dresses, tasteful business garb and so on... but she hadn't worn any of it since her change.  It didn't feel right, like she was flaunting her previous structure of egotistical lies...
    She settled on some ordinary, store-bought casual clothes that would be suitable for road travel.  But she couldn't bring herself to pick anything that wasn't color coordinated.
    A knock on the door of her cheap, rented apartment roused her attention from packing.  It was Luna, still in her waitress's uniform.
    "You're going on a quest in that?" Angela asked, confused.
    "'course," Luna said.  "S'enough."
    "Where are your bags?  Presumably stored between worlds, as mine are, yes?"
    "No bags," Luna said, shaking her head.  "Don't need 'em.  You ready?"
    Angela glanced at the pile of luggage she was preparing with a hint of shame.  And that was her trying to be minimalist and humble.
    "I'm ready," she said, looking back to Luna and ignoring the pile of stuff.  "Let's just go."
    "What 'bout your stuff?"
    "You said I don't need it, yes?"
    "I don't," Luna corrected.  "You're not me.  What happened to yer dresses?"
    "They're not appropriate anymore," Angela simply stated.
    Somewhere behind her hairdo, Luna's eyes were thoughtful, studying the half-Dragon.  Logic twisted through her head, modifying and changing plans...
    "'kay, I get it," she said.  "I can handle.  Mmm.  Let's go pick 'im up."
    "'im who?" Angela asked.
    Luna told her.
    "Oh, bugger," Angela groaned.
Click to continue...
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.