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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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--"
"'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
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--"
"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?"
"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
"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.