ugger wasn't very hard to find, in that Luna seemed to know exactly where to find him without any of that middleman activity of 'searching' or even 'thinking about it'.  Naturally, Angela asked how she managed the trick, and naturally, she wasn't saying.
    He was being assassinated successfully at the time, but a timely intervention left him with only a dismembered arm, which to a Mazoku wasn't much of an injury.  He was already able to flex it a little after reattaching it with some black healing.    This might have been a good sign if not for Luna's casual mission briefing.
    "Gonna end everything," she had said.  "Ceipheed's orders."
    Oh, and that the Knight of Shaburanigdo would probably try to stop them.  Then she said she had to go shopping, ordered them to wait at a pleasant sidewalk cafe, and left them to engage in polite conversation.
    "Damn thing's aching me," Bugger complained, moving his elbow around.  "You Dragons got it lucky.  Your healing isn't designed to make you feel like death warmed over after it's done, or cause cancers or festering warts or anything.  Just lick, boom, split, done.."
    "Don't talk to me about healing," Angela said.  Not in one of those starter ways that lets you launch off on a tirade, but a straight request with a hint of malice.
    Bugger looked funny at her.  "I take it you're still pissed?"
    "Of course.... no.  I'm not angry anymore," Angela said, any embers burning dying out before they could get started.  "There's no point to being angry.  The Dragons call me a half-breed, and they're right.  Maybe it's all thanks to you and your bungling, but what's done is done, and now I just have to live with it."
    "Bungling?!" Bugger said.  "That's a right insult to my work, that is.  You'd have been kicking it in the great golden hoard in the sky if not for me, I'll have you know.  That Nightmare bastard did a number on you."
    "At least I would have died for the Dragon cause," Angela sighed, wistfully.  "A suitable stopping point.  It would have been true glory..."
    "I remember you sayin' that last time, gel, and I don't buy it now either," Bugger said, spitting in his coffee for emphasis before taking a sip.  "No such thing as a glorious death.  You just get a little wet squelch and it's done.  Was hoping you'd figure out that little lesson after what I did."
    "And this is preferable?" she asked.  "Perhaps they're hidden now, but those wings are forever to mark me.  You should have just left me to die there.  You know what I've been doing with Luna?  Waitressing.  A common servant, underneath one who was an unofficial enemy to me in the past!  This isn't much better than your little wet squelch."
    "Now you're talkin' like ME," Bugger said.  "I don't like that.  Ought to get a patent on pessimism, see that I don't.  So shut yer yap, gel, and drink your damn coffee.  You don't even have any style to that sort of depression.  Any idiot can do suicidal whining.  'Oh, waah, waah, my life blows.  Better off de'd.'  But it takes a master like me to do DOOM with a capital OO."
    "Oh really?" Angela asked, leaning over the table slightly.  "Well then, Mr. Doom, what to you soothsay about this expedition that Lunatic has us on?"
    "Easy," Bugger said, leaning back in his chair and grinning.  "We're going to be destroyed, possibly slowly and with a great deal of agony.  She'll use us as bait, fodder or shields while going about her higher purpose.  And what's more, if she's really mean, she'll toss us at the Knight of Shaburanigdo.  You haven't met Lara, have you?  I met her a few times.  A right vicious little twat, she is.  I'd hazard to say she's actually more deviously inventive and sadistic than any six Mazoku, possibly even on par with that git Xelloss... what's more, if those hints of horrible things ahead weren't bad enough, Luna's said straight up she intends to end the world.  Dragons!  Ending the world!  Don't that take all?  Can't be a good thing if life's come to that.  So, take your Luna factor, your Lara factor and your End of the World, Mazoku War Getting Into Full Swing factors and add 'em up.  Answer's obvious.  Yes, Ms. Angstela, we're quite doomed.  Smoke 'em if you got 'em."
    Angela tapped her fingers together, slowly digesting Bugger's report.
    "Then why are you staying here, and not running for the horizon?" she asked.
    "I'm a glutton for punishment," Bugger admitted.  "Besides, it'll probably be more interesting meeting the apocalypse with you than it would be hiding in a smelly basement, avoiding the Beastmaster's vice squad."
    A thick silence ensued.  Angela ran her finger around the rim of her cup, in thought... Bugger sipped his nasty coffee, as the milk had curdled and sugar had turned to jelly simply because of who he was.
    Angela broke the silence.  "If you knew you'd end up like this, would you still have agreed to team up?"
    "Eh?  Wot?" Bugger asked.
    "Back when we were trying to stop Lina Inverse.  Would you have done anything differently?"
    He thought about it for a few moments, but shook his head.  "Naah.  Probably wasn't a good way out of that mess.  Lina had too much destiny rollin' behind her.  Too much momentum.  Separate or together, we wouldn't 'ave been able to stop that."
    "But separate, we wouldn't have gotten into all this trouble..."
    "Brighten up, dammit," Bugger suggested.  "I'm supposed to be the naysayer.  Where's that Luna twit, anyway?  We need to get this show on the--"
    Luna appeared.
    "'ello," she said, smiling.  "Ready?"
    "Where are the things you bought?" Angela asked.
    "Gotta hurry," Luna said.  "Let's fly."
    She didn't bother to tell them she was just watching them discuss while disguised as their waiter.  After all, they wouldn't understand why.
    Luna decided to brief them in-flight, over the central ocean, once they were at least three hundred miles from the nearest shore.  The reasons became obvious.
    "Gonna assault the Dragon University," Luna explained, never losing her grin.  "Raid the archives.  Steal an artifact from maximum security."
    "You're suicidal, aren't you?" Bugger asked.  "The Du is built over the ruins of Wetlantis.  Center of the ocean.  They'll see us coming from miles away, not to mention the fact that every hotheaded Dragon adolescent brat being educated there will be more than willing to tear us... or at least, me, to shreds on sight.  I doubt they'll be very happy to see Angela, either."
    "I remember the University..." Angela said.  "It is very, very secure.  That is where Dragons are trained in the arts of logic and debate, in magical arts and culture."
    "And fighting," Bugger added.
    "Yes, and fighting.  As well as the social graces befitting one of my race, and the ancient heritage and customs thereof--"
    "And fighting."
    "YES, and fighting."
    "Just figured it was worth mentioning twice," Bugger said, "Considering we're going to be doing a bloody lot of it.  Place is armed to the teeth and locked tighter than Angela's thighs."
    The half-Dragon bristled at the comment.
    "S'important," Luna explained.  "Lock of Order's there.  Ceipheed wants it."
    "And why, praytell?" Angela asked.  "No, no.  Don't bother.  You rarely answer any other questions we have.  Just expecting us to follow your orders, marching blindly into--"
    "The Lock of Order is part of a device of phenomenal power," Luna said, dropping her quirky tone.  "The ultimate power, the most important things in the world, in existence since the dawn of the universe for the sole purpose to end it.  Already the Mazoku have recovered parts of this device.  They're going to use it to destroy the world.  If the Dragon plan of life's preservation is to have any weight, we need to compete for the parts of the device as well.  Ceipheed has allied with its maker to see to it that all life will go on, despite the end.  You two will help me in gaining the Lock for Ceipheed."
    The trio flew in silence.
    "Y'know?" Luna added, in her usual tone, to cap off her words.
    "I think I preferred it when she was being glib," Bugger muttered under his breath.
    "So... this truly is a holy mission for Cephieed-sama?" Angela asked, quietly.
    Bugger glanced over, studying Angela's facial expression.  "You can cut that hopeful look.  Ceipheed's not gonna forgive you for the stunts we pulled and mystically transform you back into another prissy little Dragon.  This isn't going to work.  If--"
    "Shut up," Angela said.
    "Fine, fine.  Ignore the Bugger.  Just trying to keep you from coming crashing down when this goes wrong," Bugger warned.  He turned, to look at Luna.  "Knight of Shaburanigdo.  You said that before.  So where's the Knight of the Lord of Nightmares in this mess?  Where's your adorable little brat of a sister fit into the whole scheme of things?"
    Luna paused.
    "Dunno," she admitted.  "Ceipheed didn't say.  Guess I'll find out."
    Dragon University did not built itself, nor did the Dragons build it.
    Nobody knows exactly who did.  It was always assumed some ancient tribe of Dragons constructed the spires and peaks, since only a Dragon could achieve such elegance of design, such functionality inside the sphere of beauty.  Most of it was in ruins, but repairs were easy, once the structure had been reclaimed as a rightful possession.
    Okay, some people thought some ancient humans built it, but nobody honestly believes that.  Even if there are no places to perch and the doors are pretty small and the primitive yet complicated wall paintings depicted human shapes.
    The previous civilization left no records, and the location was dubbed Wetlantis after a few folk legends of a city floating in the center of the ocean.  Nowadays, however, it was simply the Dragon University, converted, retooled and rebuilt for that purpose.  It was wall to wall Dragons, gold, green, blue, red, but mostly gold.  Wizened elders, brash youths, servants, every range of the Dragon spectrum.
    The group had to approach from underwater to even come close without avoiding detection.
    "First, they'll probably torture some information out of me," Bugger whined.  "Oh, sure, they're a wise and enlightened race, although against us evil little Mazoku bastards, anything goes... no matter that I've been kicked OUT of the Mazoku, no, they'll just assume I'm being devious and sinister and lying, so--"
    "How do we approach?" Angela asked.  (She had teamed closely with Luna, ever since seeing a glimmer of hope... and thus had tried to keep her flawed wing hidden away as much as possible, relying on basic magic to fly, as crude as that was.)
    "Gonna go in the door," Luna said, pointing to the oversized brass gates, stamped with huge DU letters.
    "The front door?" Bugger asked.  "The front-bloody-DOOR?  Are you insane, woman?"
    "C'mon, let's go," Luna said, standing up, and marching across the surface of the water, towards the ivory steps.
    Angela fell in stride next to Luna immediately, walking proudly.  "Come on, Bugger.  Clearly she won't allow harm to come to you."
    Nervous, Bugger withdrew from hiding, and kept behind the women.  "I got a bad feeling about this."
    "You ALWAYS have a bad feeling about this."
    "I mean it this time," Bugger said.  "It smells.  And I'm not complaining.  I just don't like it."
    Pausing at the feet of the steps, Luna grabbed hold of the massive door knocker with magical weaves of power, and slammed it repeatedly against the door.  Until it snapped off, and came crashing to the steps, cracking the stone under a solid ton of metallic impact.
    "Way to be subtle," Bugger mumbled.
    The doors opened shortly after, with a team of guard-Dragons, shifted into full reptilian form and ready for conflict.  A pair of humanoid-form Dragons walked with them, one quite old, with a traditional well groomed beard of station, with appropriate robes -- the other wearing a full set of human armor, and probably no older than any of the students.
    "I am the Dean of Dragon University, Umias," the old man announced.  "And this is my security officer Jedal.  We saw your undersea approach more than an hour ago."
    "Oh, hell," Bugger wheezed.
    "Figured," Luna said, grinning.  "Good ta see ya.  On a mission from Ceipheed."
    "You are not welcome!" Jedal barked, in a voice that did not command respect, but could have commanded someone to pass the salt.  "You scolded the Dragons and sided with the forces of chaos.  You rejected our noble ways and teachings!  You--"
    "I'm afraid word travels fast of your exploits, Luna Inverse-san," Umias said, raising a hand to halt his eager beaver second in command.  "We have been instructed not to assist you until a Council can judge if you are fit to continue holding your office, in light of recent events..."
    "Oh, s'easy," Luna said.  "I brought the traitors.  Wannem?  Let's clear the record."
    "Traitors?" Angela asked, puzzled.
    "The half-breed and the Mazoku worm," Jedal said to his superior.  "They are wanted for crimes.  I will take them into custody, and--"
    "Not without my approval," Umias reminded him.
    An uneasy pause fell over the group, unsure whether to pounce the newcomers or greet them.
    "No.. no, wait," Angela said, interrupting.  "I'm here with Luna on a holy mission.  We seek penance through labors towards the--"
    "It's Ceipheed's will to exchange them," Luna said, serious tones sneaking back into her voice.
    Umias breathed a heavy, old sigh.  "Take them."
    Bugger, who had already started preparing a few moments before Luna even muttered the word 'Traitors', launched an attack of black energy, and the battle was in full swing.
    Of course, a war of eight fully powered gold Dragons against one Mazoku isn't much of a battle.  Maybe with a Dragon half-breed in the mix, some sort of escape with minor injuries could be managed... but Angela wasn't moving.  She was too shocked to even consider lifting a finger, watching in horror as the troops subdued Bugger quite painfully... then none too courteiously restrained her.  Her!
    "Well, Knight... what would you have us do with them now?" Umias asked.  "We are a school, not an armed jail."
    Luna shrugged.  "Dispose of the Mazoku, detain the half-Dragon.  Not hard, she'll submit.  Council'll sort her out, dead or alive."
    Umias looked down.  "Jedal, make it so.  As she said."
    "Luna!!" Angela protested, as she was dragged into the building.  "What do you think you're doing!?  You said..."
    And Luna smiled at her.  Not Luna's usual smile, but a devious, tricky one.  A secretive one.  And then everything went black, as the Dragons put a sleep enchantment over her.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.