ne question remained unsolved.
Why did the shield fall?
The immediate response was to blame Dayvid.
I'm happy the population never learned he made the machine... otherwise,
he could have been lynched. But as the refugee camp picked up its
losses and lamented the loss, the winged were accusatory.
"I TOLD you guys it wouldn't work," Paradox said,
hands in the air, giving up. "Too many weak links. Maybe you
didn't get enough volunteers that day."
"We had more than enough," Dayvid said. He
was pretty testy, not appreciating the attack on his work.
"Then Lily. Lily screwed up. You shouldn't
have trusted her that much!"
"Lily doesn't make mistakes like that when white
magic is concerned," I added, leaping to my son's benefit.
"She could have been killed," Reason stated.
A long pause held. That had to be it.
"We should have put more defense on the building,"
Amelia said. No joy or sugar was dripped into her voice. She
seemed very... quiet. Naga's vanishing and the terrible disaster
had taken its toll.
"Who would kill her, though?" I asked, rubbing my
chin. "And note that the Mazoku were there and waiting. They
had to have a hand in this, to be that prepared. Someone on the inside
"Oh? And who might THAT be?" Paradox asked.
"A winged," I concluded.
Nobody was happy with that answer.
"Absurd!" Drama shouted. "Why would we sabotage
our own efforts? We fought to defend that city! Loathing gave
his life to do so! At any rate, we would have all died if not for
Luck being on our side!"
"Was she?" I asked. Time to sow some suspicion.
"Of course!" Luck wailed. "Waaah! It's
such a horrible horrible time! I wouldn't want anybody to get hurt!"
"I don't get why it has to be a winged," Myth said.
I waggled an eyebrow at Reason. The looks
of comprehension I was getting were clear.
So, she spoke up. "The attack happened on
the night all of us were out doing as we pleased inside Sailoon," Reason
stated. "This means one of two things. One, that whoever murdered
Lily did so at that time to catch us all unprepared and in one location.
Two, that it did not happen before now because the instigator was not at
Sailoon until now... this was our first visit since initial departure.
Therefore, we are equally suspect."
I wish Myth hadn't jumped into the fray the way
"Wait!" she said. "Xelloss knows who did it!
He's been tracking a traitor among us for awhile now. I think it's
time we settled this!"
Of course, everybody looked expectantly at me.
"Who, me?" I asked innocently.
"What proof you got?" Paradox asked. "You
don't have anything on me!"
The boy will never learn, will he?
"YOU did it!!" Drama shouted, drawing his hard long
sword. "Craven dog! How dare you betray us?!"
"Whoa, wait!!" Paradox shouted, backing up, fast.
"I just... I just assumed you idiots would accuse me, because I betrayed
you before! Not that I did it this time! I've been busting
my balls trying to help out! If anybody screwed us over, it was YOU,
"I am honorable!" Drama defended.
"Oh yah?" Paradox asked. "I wasn't going to
bring this up, but... YOU have been cutting deals with the Dragons!
Don't think I can't see you just because you're thousands of miles away,
brother. You've fought and feasted side by side with them.
Didn't Lina specifically say not to trust the Dragons OR Mazoku?
Did those lizards set you up as King of Justivalero, huh? Maybe an
emperor one day?"
"...fine!! It's true! But it makes sense
to consort with the Dragons. They mean no harm towards us!
When the Mazoku are all dead and buried, we'll have peace for aeons!
I simply wanted to play my part in saving humanity!"
"Sure, with yourself as the leader of the species,"
Paradox accused. "Lord of all he surveys! Except for his Dragon
overlords, of course."
"I did NOT cause this incident, regardless," Drama
said. "I would never ally with the Mazoku. Unlike... Reason,
(Okay, by this point, things were totally out of
control. I decided that instead of worrying, I'd just sit back and
watch the fray. Entertainment can be found anywhere, and is a positive
force in dark times. I'd interject when they were finished.)
Reason didn't even flinch at the accusation.
"What proof do you have?"
"I saw you sneaking out of the city before the attack,"
Drama said. "In full Mazoku disguise!"
"I studied Amelia's transformation pen, yes," Reason
said, totally unemotional. "I developed a Mazoku disguise.
What better way to learn of our enemies movements than to move with them?
I was unable to return fast enough to avoid the disaster, however."
"You consorted with those things?" Paradox asked.
"Why didn't you tell us?? We could have used that information to
"I was not trying to defeat them," Reason said.
"I was trying to learn from them."
Nobody said anything for a moment. Insert
Myth broke the silence. "What are you talking
"I was learning their ways and intents, to decide
which force we should ally with," Reason said. "I had a Dragon disguise
as well. Sitting out the war was unreasonable. The only way
for humanity to survive would be to pick a side. So, I researched
both forces to decide which we should support, with intent to present my
findings when complete. I did not encourage or aid either side.
"What?!" Myth gagged.
"You have been using your Talents to write the Dragons
as heroes of the conflict over Sailoon," Reason said. "I could detect
the patterns as far away as Darata."
You know, I suspected Myth had something up her
sleeve she didn't want to admit. There were the nervous pauses during
her reports and my queries... especially about who the traitor's gender
"Uhh... uh.." she paused, again nervous. She
gathered her spine before continuing. "So what?! The Dragons
told me that they needed my help. And I don't see any reason not
to help them, if we can! Even if we're using them just to save ourselves.
Unbidden, Luck burst into bipolar tears. "I
confess! I betrayed you all! WAAAAAAAHHH!!!"
Nobody was quite sure how to deal with that statement.
"Ah.... how?" Myth asked, genuinely confused.
"I found a race of undersea people out in the ocean
who were going to take over the world and usher in an age of peace and
tranquility, and I randomly chose to help them!" Luck admitted. "They
were all set to launch warships and strike! Except that a virus I
was carrying which humans are immune to got into their civilization and
wiped them all out in a few days. I'm sorry."
Again with the awkward pause.
"No harm done?" Paradox guessed. "I mean...
ah. Okay. You're forgiven and stuff."
"YAAAAAAYY!!!!" Luck cheered. "That's great!
Besides, Xelloss is the one that really betrayed us all."
"Me?" I asked. "Golly. That's a surprise
to myself, even."
"I can tell," Luck said. "I guessed and I
always guess right. You're gonna betray us."
Maybe it was time to steer this topic elsewhere?
"Look, this is very amusing," I said, "But I'm afraid
you're all wrong. Nobody here is directly responsible for the disaster
"Then who did it?!" Paradox asked. "I don't
like being accused of this crap. I want to know who we can properly
"I don't think we should go into it," I replied.
"Sometimes, guys... sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie in peace.
But if you're all determined..."
Everybody nodded, except for one of them.
They wanted to know. Very well, then.
I turned, to face her.
"Why didn't you tell us earlier, Love?" I asked.
I could tell from her expression even minutes ago
that she was ready to talk. Despair had her, a despite being winged
of eternal hope and joy. Very little could resist that pull.
"I thought you'd hurt him," Love replied, voice
quiet, like that of a child. "If you knew he was working with the
Mazoku, you'd have to hurt him somehow. I loved him. I didn't
want him to be hurt..."
"Whoa... hold up," Paradox said, stunned.
"Loathing wanted to make amends... he did!" Love
protested. "He told me, right before he went off to fight them, that
he was sorry. He wanted his twin sister to forgive him, and.. I did.
He finally said that he l-loved me... and he ran off to try and save you
all, but he only made things worse. He never knew how to make things
better, for himself or anybody, but I loved him anyway, no matter what
mistakes he made. Even the mistake of killing Lily and letting the
Mazoku in. I swear, I didn't know exactly what he was going to do...
I don't think I wanted to know. Because if I did, I'd have to stop
him, forcibly... or you others would. So I betrayed you. I
didn't tell you he was a danger. This is my fault. All my fault."
I can't describe how hard this was on her.
Not because there are no words, but because I can't grasp the concept myself.
It clearly wasn't the time to do a whole pitchforks and torches, bring
us the betrayer type scene. Diffusing words were needed.
"What's done is done," I started. "Loathing's
gone, and he tried to redeem his action before he left us. All of
you have gone behind our backs, made your own deals, and betrayed us in
one sense or another. At least now all cards are on the table, and
we can be totally honest with each other. I'm not a member of your
family, not in your eyes, but I think I can comfortably trust every one
of you now that we've got this dirty laundry nicely washed. We've
got a lot of refugees to deal with, and all of you need to go continue
to defend your lands. Can we agree to put this mess behind us?
There is not much time left in the world, and I think we've had our fill
of damage. I know I have."
I knew I did a good speech. Myth was writing
it down for her book.
"I'm sorry," Love added again, almost at a whisper.
"It's... it's fine, Love," Drama said, unused to
this subtle emotional stuff. "Nightmare is right. It's been
enough of a mess. I think a full round of forgiveness is in order
for every one of us."
"Hey... hey, now you hold on there. I didn't
DO ANYTHING!" Paradox yelled. "Here I am the first person pegged
as a traitor and I'm the only one of you people who was totally on the
level. I think I deserve a medal for that kind of--"
"Oh, do shut up, Paradox," I yawned, injecting some
levity. "We forgive you for being a loudmouth. Is that satisfactory?"
"Hmphh," he grunted, but seemed to accept this.
"We're not going to survive all of this, are we?"
Love asked. "You used the right word. It's a mess. The
world IS ending."
"...I have to agree," Myth said. "I've projected
this story arc. This is just the beginning of the end. No matter
how successful we are, or whatever failures happen, the last page is coming.
What are we going to do?"
"Whatever we can do, I suppose," I suggested.
And then Luck came up with the one thing I most
feared. The one thing that so directly involved me, and yet... none
of them knew how.
"We could evacuate as many people as we can into
the World of Dreams!" she suggested. "Even if this world goes boom,
they'll be safe there! It was our first home and it's separate from
"Right!" Paradox said, taking the optimist approach.
This wasn't good, this wasn't good at all... "Hard reality separation.
It's always the most powerful defense! If we relocate as many people
as we can, and dream up a stable environment... it'd be trivial with my
Talents combined with those of everybody here."
"...we could save people," Love repeated.
"We could make things better..." A light of hope rekindled.
"Working together, anything is reasonable," Reason
Oh, this does my heart ill.
I wish they hadn't realized this simple plan.
This simple, wonderful plan... because now, I was going to have to let
them down. I was going to have to obey my mistress.
I was going to have to betray them.
May this volume serve as some redemption for me
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.