he University was abuzz. Prisoners!
They had prisoners! Legendary criminals of the week!
"Serves them right, thinking they could assault
the Dragon University," one particularly school-spirited Dragon said.
"We'll put that Mazoku out of its misery."
"Maybe the other one can be saved."
"I doubt it. She's been corrupted, from what
I heard. Let one of her wings go to darkness."
"So? Forms are mutable. Natures aren't."
"What about the Knight? I heard she told a
Council to screw off! How can they stand for that?"
"She brought in the criminals."
"I don't trust her. Humans are too weird.
They've got no moral decency! Killing each other off like they do
and causing hurt and harm randomly..."
"Do you think they'll let us watch them execute
"Will this be on the test?"
And from on high, the Dean of Dragon University
watched students running around the campus quad. He looked down on
them with a mixed expression.
"The fountains are lovely," he said, voice crackled
with old age.
"Mmhmm," Luna agreed.
"We didn't make those, you know. They're Wetlantis
original. But the children love them so. It's rather peaceful.
But we didn't make them."
"Not a very peaceful day, however," Umias noted,
turning away from the window, to look across his study at the human.
"What with the tidings you bring."
"You've put my campus in an uproar," he continued,
faintly annoyed. "There's talk among the students of finding where
we put the Mazoku, and ending him themselves. Violence from the tongues
of babes. I've even had to put Angela under guard... for her protection
rather than for guarding her."
"Strange days," Luna shrugged.
"I should simply have the three of you escorted
off campus immediately, possibly to a proper Council," Umias noted.
"No.." Umias said, sinking into his padded office
chair. "No. Jedal will handle it. I'm an old Dragon,
Luna Inverse. Best let the young ones handle affairs. They'll
be the leaders once I'm gone, after all. Ceipheed's will that life
go on, regardless of death..."
Unable to tolerate any more one-worded responses,
Umias took a leap. "Do you ever lose faith in Ceipheed?"
"I have," he continued. "I have thought things
that put my faith in question. The new Dragons are not... they are
not what I would call ideal. I was there when the Gold Dragons committed
genocide on the Ancient Dragons, you know. I was young. We
slaughtered them so that our place in the hierarchy was assured, all justified
under the plan that life must go on. It was only a LITTLE death,
we reasoned. The Ancients were stale and unable to defend us during
the War, we could do so much better if they would have let us have a chance..."
"I know th'history," Luna said.
"The history doesn't say much about the aftermath,"
Umias stated. "Because Gold Dragons wrote the history as the victors.
But we changed, most of us, the leaders of the assaults. We realized
our mistakes, how we might have destroyed our kind in the infighting, the
futility of warring... perhaps the coming of Xelloss was our penance.
He nearly wiped out the Gold Dragons. Singlehandedly, even... was
Ceipheed punishing us? Was it a coincidence?"
"It will happen again!" Umias said. "Already,
a Mazoku war runs. A repeat event! When this one fights to
a stalemate -- as they always have despite the glory of Ceipheed and the
natural assumption that good wins over evil -- what then? Will another
kind say the Gold Dragons have done poorly, and destroy us? Will
the Mazoku see this new generation as a threat and send another hunter?
The students are brash and foolhardy. The whole new generation is!"
"Kids," Luna said. "What can ya do?"
"You can have faith in Ceipheed, that life will
be preserved and the flame of life never will be extinguished..." Umias
recited. He inhaled deeply. "If you still believe that."
"Realize that I cannot tell another Dragon this,"
Umias said. "If someone like Jedal knew my faith was not the unswerving
zealot's stance most Dragons today have, my position as Dean would be compromised..."
"Then why tell me?"
Umias paused, his scattered thoughts reassembling.
His furor returning to the calm depression he held upon first meeting Luna.
"You are Ceipheed's right hand," Umias said.
"I don't know. Perhaps... perhaps I wished you could give me some
assurance. I need to know that my fears are unfounded. Tell
me, as a prophet or a warrior or whatever your role is. A human you
may be, but right now, I trust you more than I would most Dragons."
Luna sat back, thinking about it. Umias stared
at the Knight of Ceipheed, at this strange little human who seemed to hold
such power... a simple girl, but with such confidence! Confidence
he wished he had. A confidence that was not as frightening as the
looks of absolute devotion he saw in the eyes of other Dragons.
"One way or another, life will go on," Luna said,
speaking with an edge of holy reverence. An edge of prophecy.
"By Ceipheed's hand and by the hands of several others. I state now
and forever that the best laid plans will lead indirectly to the proper
conclusions. Everything is flawed and whole with cause and effect.
Thus, all measures taken to achieve the goals and subgoals of Dragonkind
will lead to peace regardless. Final, resolute, intended peace, identified
or not, under the grace of the Lord of Nightmares. That is what will
"I.. I don't understand," Umias said. "Do
you mean that Ceipheed is wrong? Is He right? What does He
"He's wrong for the right reasons and right for
the wrong ones," Luna said, looking directly at Umias from underneath her
heavy bangs. A brief flare of the blue light of Ceipheed flashed
in her eyes... no, it was golden. A wobbling, chaotic spark.
"I will be guided as his hand and I will contribute as ordered. Be
it a puzzle piece or a puzzle, the picture will be unified at last.
"Anything," Umias agreed. Without question.
"I need the Lock."
Luna's posture relaxed, her voice slurring back
into form. "Y'know. Silvery. Lock-shaped. Artifact."
Umias grasped for the conversation, still unable
to shake the tingle from his spine of the future-reading. "Artifacts...
they are kept in the museum. West wing. But the lock.. no Dragon
can touch it without incredible pain. We have had it guarded, as
it seems to be of import, but... listen, that artifact was here in Wetlantis
before we arrived, just sitting in a room, as if someone had dropped it
into the universe at random, very long ago. We don't know what it
"I do," Luna said. "Fork it over."
"It's not as easy as that," Umias said. "There
will be questions -- politics. Why we gave it to a human. You
are under question, even if you have given us the two traitors... listen,
Jedal may not approve of this move, and he does have sway in the student
body, so... it's not that easy. Maybe if I work it over in an impromptu
Council, in a few days--"
"I could try to simply authorize your taking of
it as an emergency measure under the grace of Ceipheed, but not everybody
here believes that you are Ceipheed's voice. I suppose if you worked
fast enough... although there may be pursuit if it is agreed that it was
the wrong thing..."
"Maybe if I--"
The elder Dragon startled, as Luna... chuckled.
There was a joke going on, and only she got the punchline.
"Sit, relax," she suggested. "Chill.
Already got plans workin'."
"Plans? Is this.. is this part of Ceipheed's
"Naw," Luna said. "It's mine."
"Got a smoke, mate?"
Now THAT was uncalled for.
Granted, Bugger had been having the worst day he'd
had in a long time since the last worst day he'd had in a long time (yesterday).
And yes, he was captured by his enemies (one set of them) and was probably
going to be killed within a matter of hours, or given his luck, minutes.
He was trapped in a deep, nasty little cell in the storage basement of
the Dragon University, where they still had rats and mold. To top
it all off, his hands were bound behind his back using restraints made
of painfully strong white magic.
But despite all this, maybe he was just allowing
a small bit of hope, but he figured asking for a cigarette wasn't out of
"Come on, I'm not going to live long enough to enjoy
it properly," Bugger said.
"Dragons don't smoke," Jedal, captain of the guard
said in a nasty tone. "It's a filthy, health-destroying habit."
"I know. That's the point. Spare a light?"
"You're going to be executed," the Dragon reminded
"At least it'll be a change of pace from almost
being killed," Bugger said.
"Doesn't this worry you at all?"
"Figured it'd happen sooner or later," Bugger said.
"Just got to expect it. Wake up one morning, oh no, probably going
to die today. Go to bed, figure, well, maybe tomorrow."
"You're not like other Mazoku I've met," the Dragon
said, keeping up the angry tone instead of switching to a curious one.
"They would gratefully die for the glory of Shaburanigdo, their foul demon
king! At least they had some spirit to them, unlike you, spineless
"Nothing glorious about death," Bugger muttered.
"Some people like to be martyrs for their causes, but I don't. Oh,
they say, how tragic and noble, let us be inspired by his messy end to
do whatever deed we want to do! Where does it get the actual martyr?
Dead. Can't even bloody enjoy it, because 'e's dead. No point
Jedal snorted. "Better to put you out of your
obvious misery, then."
Bugger squatted. Not much choice. "Rather
obvious, is it?"
"You Mazoku are a predictable lot."
He didn't respond to the crack. Thinking had
set in, and once you get around to a serious bout of thinking, it's hard
This is exactly how he'd behave, wasn't it?
Get tossed into the worst case situation, expecting it all along, and whine
and stew in it like he usually did. Eventually, he'd be destroyed,
without much protest. Luna must have predicted he'd do it.
She knew he'd be a pushover, nudged directly into a grave. And Angela...
The half-Dragon had hit hard times, certainly.
Mopey. Depressive. No self esteem. Just like him.
How would she act when she was betrayed? Probably sulk a lot and
wait to be convicted and sentenced by the Dragons. Just like he was.
AGAIN she was going to act like him! Of all the...!
Luna was expecting them to roll over and die, to
raise her standing with those stinking lizards. That's why she used
them. They'd do just what she wanted.
"Bloody hell," Bugger said aloud. "That BITCH!"
"You have NO idea how much that pisses me off,"
Bugger shouted at Jedal. "Why should I sit here and do what she wants?
She wants the perfect pessimist, does she?"
Jedal got a white ball of fire ready. "Be
quiet, or I'll--"
That's when Bugger opted to shift to his true Mazoku
form. The fireball winked out, its owner quite terrified.
As he should be. Bugger, in full 'glory',
stood tall and wide, a walking lump of waxy slime and dirt in a shredded
trenchcoat. He had a blob of pus for a head, and eyes that floated
in bloodshot agony. It snapped through the restraints without much
of a thought. Could've done that at any time, he thought to himself.
But she wasn't expecting me to.
"I don't think I wanna BE the perfect pessimist
today," he slurped, in a voice like raspy flesh on shrapnel. "Or
maybe even ever again. Not if it's gonna make me this easy a mark
to be used. Bugger THAT. Now beat it, kid. I gotta score
to settle with the Lunatic."
"You.. you won't get past me!!" Jedal squeaked in
a mousy voice. "I will stop you, even if it means my death!"
The Mazoku picked Jedal up by his head, and smashed
him against the ceiling.
"Unoriginal little blighter," Bugger gurgled.
"Think I'll be especially nasty to you on general principles. Ought
to learn a lesson..."
Jedal spat up a wad of blood, glaring. "Fine,
then! Destroy me, you foul worm!"
"Ohhh, that's not what I meant," the Mazoku said,
flooding one gooey hand with black energy. "Rather the opposite..."
The first explosion to be felt in the Dean's Office
was a pretty good one. It had that earth-shaking feel to it, a low
hum that you can feel in the ancient stones, followed by enough yelling
to be heard even from that distance.
Umias set down his tea, looking concerned.
Luna rose, straightening her waitress uniform.
The elder Dragon looked at her, confused.
"What's going on?" he asked. "Do you know
"Just plans," Luna said. "Sorry for the mess,
"What are you talking about?!"
Luna paused. "Do you trust me?"
"I already said I did!"
"Groovy," Luna grinned, big and wide, and possibly
a little mean. "You won't get in trouble! Gonna steal the Lock.
Not your fault I backstabbed ya, right? Gotta go now. Thanks
for the tea. Later."
In a flash of white light, Luna was gone.
Umias stared at the space she was previously occupying.
He swallowed, hard.
"I hope my faith was well put," he said to himself.
"In you and Ceipheed."
His door burst open, the unfamiliar form of Jedal
staggering in, clutching at his misshapen arm.
"Sir!!" he wailed. "The Mazoku escaped!
It's horrible! He's... he's..."
"Oh, no.." Umias said. "Casualties?
"No," Jedal said, showing his arm. "He's...
healing them, sir.. oh, Ceipheed!! Don't look at me!"
"Stop that," Umias ordered. "Go and rustle
up the guard. ALL of it, tainted or not. I want them in full
arms and attention to stop the Mazoku. And... pull the guards out
of the museum as well, we need all the manpower we have."
Angela's cell was considerably more up-scale.
She was at least half-Dragon, after all, and that entailed some comforts.
She was kept in a simple unoccupied dormitory room.
There wasn't a lock on the door, and the window had no bars. The
guard was there to keep others from coming IN, and the walls weren't even
very thick. But regardless, she was held as fast as if she was chained
to a fifty ton rock.
The only person in the world who had given her a
fair shake after her accident had turned on her. Any worth she might
have had to the Dragons was gone. Motivation was, as a result, the
last thing on her mind, content to just lie there on a stiff college bed,
and wait for whatever was to happen to her.
There was some commotion in the hall, but Angela
didn't stir. Didn't even register the noise. Took no notice
of her door being blown to component atoms, and the Mazoku walking in to
Bugger downshifted back to a humanoid form, and
waved a hand over Angela's open eyes. "'ey, gel. You drugged
or something? Wake up."
"I'm awake," Angela said, in a flat tone.
"Ah, great," Bugger grinned. "So! Let's
blast the hell out of here, annihilate Luna and split. Up you go."
She didn't move.
"Oh... no, let me guess," Bugger sighed. "You're
too sad to bother. You know, this is gettin' tired, gel. What's
the problem? The real problem? What's got you so wormed out?"
"Refresh my memory."
"I'm... nothing," Angela said. "Not a Dragon.
Not a Mazoku. My people fear and loathe me, my god rejects me, my
only supposed friend betrayed--"
"Stop!" Bugger said, holding up a hand. "Back
up. Got something wrong."
Angela slowly sat up on the bed, glaring at him.
"Ceipheed himself TOLD me I had no worth."
"Not that. Forward a bit, try again."
"What, that Luna betrayed me?"
"Not what you said."
"Yes it is."
"No it ain't."
"Yes it is."
"No it... DAMMIT, gel!" Bugger yelled. "I'm
trying to be NICE to you here! Play along!"
"It's still true, isn't it?!" Angela shouted back.
She snapped her wings out, showing off the crux of her problem. "What
am I? A Dragon or a Mazoku? Tell me! The Dragons won't
let me be a Dragon! What else can I be!"
"You can be dead, if we wait here long enough,"
Bugger said, nervously looking at the door. "They'll catch on pretty
quick that I'd come here."
"Why would you come here?" Angela asked. "You
wouldn't want to save me. Just leave me alone."
It probably wasn't the most elegant solution, and
certainly wasn't the most pleasant, but it worked.
With a snap, Bugger reached out and grabbed the
remaining angel's wing, and tore it from Angela's back in a swift, sharp
motion. Before she even had a chance to blink, he had darkness in
his hand, healing the injury... and growing a duplicate black bat's wing.
A matching set.
"There! Fine! You're a FULL Mazoku now!"
Bugger said, tossing the torn wing away. "Who cares if Ceipheed thinks
you're worthless and those idiotic Dragons sneer at you? At the very
least, and I do mean very least, I don't give a damn who and what you are,
and I'll accept you! None of the other Mazoku will, but they're all
wankers! They don't want me, either. Jeez, gel, given that
we're both generally despised, you'd think bein' in the same boat would
give us a little something to rely on..."
Angela stared in abject horror, at the severed,
discarded wing. Her mouth formed a round, round O, as did her eyes.
"You... you just..."
"So can we give the self-image thing a rest and
go after the real enemy here?" Bugger asked. "Luna Inverse.
She played us off to make herself big with your ex-Dragon pals. Fat
load of pricks they are! They could care less about you, so why should
you care what they think?"
Angela fell into her mind, lost without a paddle.
It was so confusing. Who and what was she? Just when she had
decided she wasn't anything, the situation went and changed again.
Now where did she stand?
Bugger reached out, offering a hand.
"We've got to hurry," he said. "Guards'll
be charging in here any second now, little miss Mazoku."
"I'm.. Mazoku now, aren't I?" Angela asked, quietly.
"If you wanna look at it that way," Bugger said.
"Doesn't matter to me what terminology you--"
Angela gathered a ball of black energy, and hurled
it at her old wing, incinerating the feathers, melting the bone.
"We're going after her together, right?" she asked
again, now with more fire in her voice.
"Ah... yeah, that's... generally the idea," Bugger
mumbled, a bit stunned by the show of power. "You okay now?"
"No," Angela said. "But I'm getting better."
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.