melia was raised from day one to be what she had become.  Her father was the sort of person who would often go off into the countryside, In Cog Nee To as Lina had put it, to have adventures and right wrongs.  Her mother was a learned scholar of white magic, a teacher for dozens in Sailoon.  Even her sister Gracia was an excellent study at white magic and destined to be a champion of justice, until she ran off after mother's death.  But Amelia, Amelia stayed on to learn all she could, so she one day could be as great as her father.  To do Sailoon proud, to make the world a better place.
    But the problem was that although Amelia's immediate family radiated goodness and tried to be the best they could be... she had to be honest.  With the thankful exception of the king, nobody else in the Sailoon royalty was really interested in morality, ethics, or even law.  Her father had a few assassination attempts from his brothers, all of which failed, although one had managed to...
    Regardless, that's why Captain Justin's claims that one of her ancestors had wronged his country didn't surprise Amelia.  She was hoping she could turn around the image that most Sailoon nobles were backstabbing gluttonous maniacs -- her dad had once said to her that she would have to sacrifice her body to justice to do this, to be the ultimate shining example of Sailoon's pride.
    And yet...
    And yet she didn't want to go to jail for this charge.
    What a selfish thing!  If she upheld that justice she truly adored, she would put her faith in it and... but the quest, the quest was very important.  She didn't want to let Lina down by leaving the group.  Assuming that she wasn't acquitted.  But why should she have to stand for something she didn't do?  True, law in Sailoon even passed untried crimes down the family tree, but that rarely happened, and... but if Amelia was to resist this, wouldn't she be a hypocrite, trying to bring the right way to live to others while she runs when she should... but if she DID try to submit to justice, and was found guilty... well, it would be better for Sailoon since Justivalero would be satisfied at last, but.. but she didn't want to go to jail, or... or...
    Mother would have an easier time figuring this out, Amelia thought sadly.  Here she was, locked in her cabin on the Guppy to think this out, and had just run around in circles for hours.  She had to ignore when Zelgadis came knocking, so she could try to concentrate.
    "Amelia, come on out of there," Zel had pleaded in his usual distanced, doesn't-really-care tone.  His voice was muffled through the thick wooden door to Amelia's cabin.  "Dayvid's got some ideas of what we can do to escape these loons.  You know, I am technically your Advisor.  But you're not taking any of my advice."
    How could she, though?  Zelgadis didn't see this in terms of right and wrong, just in terms of convenience.  He dismissed Captain Justin's claims as ridiculous and plotted to get away from what he saw as an obvious enemy.  Of course, maybe he was right, and Amelia was daft to take this as seriously as she was.  Captain Justin didn't seem to have any official authority to him, no credentials that he really was part of Justivalero's legal system.  But... if that was all there was to it, Amelia would have to blame herself for bringing justice outside Sailoon's official systems as she did.  Maybe she was to blame.  Or was she?  Or...
    Circles, she thought again.  Running in circles.  Just make the decision.  What FEELS right?
    Amelia looked out the large porthole in her room, at the ship full of singing sailors across the way.
    Across the span of space and time, through a barrier whose very existence was an affront to sanity, stretching wide from nowhere to nowhere, Xelloss was busy putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
    Although he technically had no fixed home, and the city of his origin burned to the ground centuries ago, he did have his own little pocket of reality he liked to consider a good rest stop.  Here, he had a few refreshments, a small stock of magical goodies he had looted over the years, and a number of books and puzzles to play with while he waited.  Waited, because his mistress liked to test his patience; he always kept to the appointed checking-in times with his lord and owner, but she liked to let him dangle before finally making her appearance.  Xelloss, being a dependable and patient sort, simply killed the time with the efficiency of a razor sharp knife.
    The last time his mistress had given him any orders was ten years ago.  He checked in with her every month, usually just to tell her what he had been up to; despite myths, the Mazoku demon lords under Shaburanigdo were not omniscient, nor omnipresent.  Shame he had to run out on Lina like that, but in his own little way, he rather enjoyed leaving her twisting in the wind.  She really had none of the patience he did for that sort of thing, but Xelloss figured she'd learn in time...
    He felt the presence of his mistress before her actual arrival.  The scent of Greater Beast Zellas-Metallum, of fur and cigarette smoke, a strange combination she had picked as her signature tended to be several seconds ahead in time of her actual being.
    Needless to say, when the being that appeared did appear Xelloss was rather surprised.  So much so that he actually opened his eyes.
    "And you are?" he asked the figure.
    "i bring orders from your lord and keeper," the thing said, in a voice neither male nor female.
    "Of all the time I've been under the fine employment of the Mazoku, she has never sent anybody in her place," Xelloss said.  "Funny, that.  Meaning either you're an intruder trying to deceive me and I'll have to blow you to smithereens, or something is up that's quite unlike anything I've bumped into before."
    "i am Her minion," the expressionless wisp of light said.  "i serve, i am a tool.  i carry your orders.  If you do not hear them, She will be very displeased."
    "I almost feel jealous.  She's never needed another underling before," Xelloss said.  "But carry on, by all means.  I'm rather curious now."
    The Minion gave the orders.
    Xelloss's eyes stayed open, resisting any urge to show an expression other than mild amusement.  "Very straightforward.  Why couldn't she bring these orders to me herself?"
    "you do not control Her, She controls you, as She controls me," Minion replied.  "If you do not carry out your orders, She will be very--"
    "Displeased, yes, yes, I know.  Presumably I have time to do this task, yes?  She's a large fan of taking your time and doing things properly, you know, and Lina IS technically hundreds of miles away."
    "You have time," Minion said.  "But do not loiter.  Carry out your function as you were made to do."
    "Yes, yes.  Say, would you like some fruit juice?  I keep some here.  Very nutritious."
    The wisp did not waver.  "i have no need of any nourishment.  i am only a minion."
    "Thrilling," Xelloss yawned.  "Well, run along home to mother.  It seems I have a great deal of work to do."
    Blinking out of existence, the strange being took its leave.  Xelloss sat back in his chair, scratching his chin.  This was an unexpected development.  It did a clean job of monkeywrenching his plans, as well.  He realized his mistress's plans carried considerably more priority than his own... technically, he could simply pop into Lina's dream and carry things out as given, but that lacked a.. personal touch.  That is, if he was to do it.
    That thought gave him considerable pause.
    He had never questioned his orders before in the slightest.  Something certainly was up, something that was quite unlike anything he had bumped into before.
    Xelloss left his only real home, speeding back towards the sea.
    Until he turned around, popped back into his rest stop, fetched a bow and arrow set he had picked up from some temple of somebody or other fifty years ago and sprinted off again.
    A tight oval of footprints had formed in the dust of Dayvid's lab.  Zelgadis paced through this loop very, very tightly.
    "Stupid, childish girl," he muttered.
    "Complaining about it won't help."
    "I'm aware," Zelgadis said.  "I don't see why she's acting so weird over this.  It's not like it's any different from some other passing maniac we've dealt with in the past, if what you're telling me is true..."
    "Captain Justin's pretty legendary for it," Dayvid said, polishing the lens on his latest contraption.  "I guess the royal family's forgotten, but us sailors who have to deal with the idiot have learned the hard way; never carry a noble into that country unless you're fast, insane, or both.  Justin has a grudge the size of Sailoon itself."
    "And that's all it's over?"
    "Amelia IS aware of this, right?" Zelgadis asked.  "I mean, you told her, yes?  You knew she was a Sailoon noble, so presumably..."
    Dayvid paused.  "Umm... okay, she said it was an important quest, so... actually, I don't think I mentioned anything."
    "You mean she's this upset and she doesn't even know what's going on?!" Zelgadis said.  "Great.  Wait here, I'll be right back."
    He opened the nearby door, and made his way through the Guppy's tight, winding hallways.  He came to Amelia's door, and pounded on it.
    "Amelia!  Open up, we've got to talk!" he said.  No response, as usual.  He hadn't wanted to do this, but... he channeled the tiniest amount of fire through the lock of the door, tight and controlled, melting the latch.  Then he pushed the door open to look at the distinct lack of Amelia.
    An empty room, an open porthole.  The ship of fools in the distance.
    Of COURSE she'd have to go off and do something as dumb as this.  Zelgadis scoffed at the thought.  She ignored him all day, and right when he had something highly important to say, she runs off.  Well, it's her bed; she can lie in it.  He didn't HAVE to zip over there an mount a rescue effort at twenty four to one odds.  Not at all.  She was the one who was supposed to know what's right and just to do in the first place, remember?
    And the right and just thing wasn't to leave her defenseless in a ship full of psychotics.
    Zelgadis stormed his way through the Guppy, back to the lab.
    "I need a rowboat, two paddles and a distraction of some kind," he informed Dayvid.  "And I need them five minutes ago."
    Captain Justin's ship was a-teeming with excitement.
    Amelia had flown over to the boat, until the anti-magic field kicked in, and she dropped into the water; fortunately, the men were quick to react, and fish her out of the water in a net.  True, they then immediately bound her hands behind her back and hauled her to a makeshift courtroom below decks, but at least they were polite about it.  More or less.  There were a few catcalls at her and more than enough insults of 'the evil princess' and so on.  But Amelia had decided, in the end, to put her faith in justice; justice itself would see her through.
    The courtroom itself was filled with the Champions of Justice, complete with the Swinging Sounds 'o Justice Pipe and Accordion Band, busy providing background music for the affair.  But all went silent when the Captain himself entered, in gleaming armor, ready to carry out his duty.
    Justin took his place behind the judge's podium, opposite the chair where Amelia sat.  "Are you prepared to hear the charges?" he asked.
    "I am," Amelia said.  She swallowed down any fright she had at the scene.  Justice would work for her, she knew it.
    "Amelia Wil Tesla Sailoon, you are charged with the following crimes," the Captain said, unrolling a scroll with the charges on it.
    The bottom part of the scroll kept rolling until about twenty feet of parchment were there.
    "Uhhh..." Amelia said, a few pangs of doubt entering her mind.
    "Association with the notorious criminals, Lina Inverse, Gourry Gabriev, the dark chimera Zelgadis Greywiers, Naga the White Serpent and the shady character known as Xelloss!" Captain Justin started to read.  "Three years ago, you participated in the destruction of Mount Stonecircle, and the surrounding villages, and unleashing of evil spirits bound in that place--"
    "But that was an accident!  And we were trying to make life easier for them by getting rid of that mountain, and--"
    "Not days before that, you participated in the murder of your own uncle, Randy, of Sailoon!"
    "But he was trying to assassinate daddy," Amelia said.  "Look, all this stuff is perfectly reasonable if--"
    "There's also a matter of the brutal torturing and maiming of various bandits!"
    "They're BANDITS!"
    And so it progressed, as Captain Justin read down a laundry list of every single questionable thing Amelia had done or participated in doing for the last few years.  Some were just silly -- bandits!  They were just BANDITS! -- some she cringed at, she felt kind of sorry for blowing up that mountain and unleashing those ghosts, for instance.  But she did fix it back up, didn't she?  Was any of this really.. well, bad, in the long run?  Some of it was, but... was she really to blame?  Maybe she was.  Maybe...
    Circles and circles, she thought, and bit her lip.  She had to be resolute here.
    "Wait, wait," Amelia said.  "Hold on!  What about the real charge?  The thing you attacked us over?"
    "If you interrupt again, you will be fined in contempt of the court," Captain Justin warned.
    "Hai... I'm sorry.  But please... what was this all about?  Originally?"
    Dramatic pause.
    "The apple," Captain Justin said, a voice as grave as the holocaust.
    "Huh?" Amelia said, not quite as grave.
    "Four hundred and fifty four years and eleven months and six days ago, Lord Wemsleydale of Sailoon stole an apple from a merchant in our capital city," Captain Justin said.
    "That's it??" Amelia asked.  "Ne, that's easy!  I can pay you for an apple.  I could get you an apple, actually, Dayvid has a very interesting cooler in the Guppy that--"
    "This is not just an apple!!" Justin said, banging his fist on the podium, silencing Amelia.  "This is a matter of LAW AND ORDER!  The Saileese dog refused to pay for the apple, and when accosted by guards, he up and left the country!  Justice was not done.  And in accordance with law in Justivalero, the unpunished crime goes down the family line, with an additional levy for each year that nothing is done.  Until the penalty is served and the payment made, Justivalero itself will cry out for justice!!"
    "Oh.. Well..." Amelia said.  "We don't have much money, but--"
    "The punishment for theft of any kind is to have your hand cut off," Captain Justin said.  "For each year unpunished, another part of the body is added.  Compounded with all the time since the crime, we must dismember each and every person up the family line, including you.  Do you have anything to say in your defense?"
    "......" Amelia said, stunned.
    "Then as judge, I pass sentence, and let justice be done!"
    A rousing cheer went up among the men, a life's ambitions finally seen through.  Swords were drawn and waved around in a hearty social sort of way.  The band struck up a merry, triumphant tune.  Captain Justin posed dramatically.
    One day, her father told her, you would have to sacrifice your body to justice.
    "Wait, WAIT!" Amelia protested.  "Butchering the entire ruling family of Sailoon because someone stole an apple?!  It's ridiculous!  This isn't justice!  None of you are really interested in justice... it's just VENGEANCE!"
    Nobody around her cared for her moralistic speech, nobody listened.  Captain Justin was given a ceremonial longsword by one of his men, already drawn from its sheath, as he stepped off the podium to advance on Amelia, presumably to carve the roast.
    Of all the things Amelia was hoping to be in life, crusader, adventurer, heroine and princess, she had never figured on being a martyr.
    A tiny ball was dropped into the open window from outside, by a blue hand.
    FWOOM! The room filled with smoke, flooding the air.  Sailors coughed, the band actually missed a beat, and all Amelia could see was the smoldering gray, choking her... hands lifted her up, moving through the room, into what smelled like fresh air, then falling--
    Wham.  Amelia hit the rowboat four feet below her.
    Blinking to clear her eyes, Amelia glanced over at her rescuer, who was now climbing out of the smoke-filled windows as well, climbing carefully into the boat.
    "Shh," Zelgadis quickly commanded.  "Gotta sneak out."  He motioned silently for Dayvid to get paddling, and the boy nodded, the tiny boat skulking away from the pandemonium behind them.
    The trio hauled the boat back aboard the Guppy, just as Captain Justin's hardy seafolk started to clue into what was going on.  They didn't seem happy.  Cannons were being turned in their direction.  The band was striking up a jovial war song.

    "o/~ Mateys, mateys!  The criminal, she flees!
         The sin is repeated, and justice is unheeded!
         These days is there no one to trust?!
         We'll nail her, we'll jail her, we'll over-the-rail her!
         She must be defeated!  She must! o/~"

    "Full speed!" Amelia commanded, getting her bearings, getting to her feet.  "We need to get out of here!"
    Zelgadis neatly severed the tow cable, knocking the hook into the water.  "We can't go faster than them.  Don't worry, Dayvid here has a plan."
    "I've made a large focal lens on the crow's nest," he said, pointing up.  "I've also channeled light from the furnace in the ship with a series of mirrors up to there.  It'll take the light and focus it so tight on their ship's hull that it'll start to burn, and while they're sinking, we can make a getaway!"
    "Okay, good.  NO!  Wait!" Amelia said, interrupting herself for a change.  "We can't kill them!  It's wrong!"
    "You KNOW this is all over a stinking apple, right?" Zelgadis asked.  "Would you call that the act of sane people?  We're probably doing the world a favor."
    Amelia paused, trying to puzzle it out.  Meanwhile, cannonballs shot over the ship, poorly aimed.
    "We don't have TIME for this!" Zelgadis said.  "If we don't do something, we're--"
    The burst of purple smoke and light, as well as accompanying *pouf!* sound was just there for an amusing dramatic effect; really, he didn't need to use any of that sort of thing.
    "Hello!" Xelloss said, having ditched his Melvin disguise once and for all.  "I'm here to save the day and so on."
    "Xelloss?!" Amelia gaped.
    "About time," Zelgadis groaned.
    "..." Dayvid added.
    Xelloss untucked the bow and arrow set from under his arm.  "This won't take but a minute," he said, smiling, and levitating up to the crow's nest.  He used the lens already mounted there to get a better view of his target, drew the arrow (which was entirely non-magical, and didn't give a damn about dead iron), and fired--
    The arrow ZINGed! straight and true between the two ships.  It was impossible to see where it landed, but one thing was certain :
    The accordion stopped going "o/~ bree bree oompah bree o/~" and started going "o/~ breeeooaoaaahhhhwwwrrrrr..." then gave a sickly whine, and died.
    The men, having nothing to sing along to, stopped the assault in utter confusion.  Aimless, despite goading from Captain Justin, they were paralyzed.  They had lost the beat.
    "Ah," Xelloss smiled.  "NOW we can get out of here safely."

    The Guppy steamed away at ridiculous velocity, Zelgadis himself opting to shovel compressed coal into the furnace as fast as he possibly could.  Captain Justin's ship was left drifting along, musically castrated, and eventually disappeared into the night mists.
    "I suppose I should apologize for making you think I was Melvin, but since it was fun, I choose not to," Xelloss almost politely said to Amelia, still smiling.  "I hope it hasn't complicated matters.  Shouldn't you be thanking me for rescuing you fellows from a certainly tuneful demise?"
    Amelia considered that.  "Well... if you gave your word to Lina-san, I GUESS I can let it go.  But I'm leading this expedition, so no funny stuff anymore!  Got it?"
    "Yes'm," Xelloss said, bowing his head in mock shame.
    "You COULD.. hff..  have dropped by... hrgg... any time," Zelgadis said, putting every muscle he had into shoveling coal.  The boat kicked up a notch in speed, his anger fueling it as well.  "Last minute saves aren't worth thanks!"
    "Gosh, I love you too, Zel-kun," Xelloss laughed.  "Ah, I have to say... I never fail to enjoy myself on our little outings.  If it wasn't for this sort of thing, the centuries would be quite dull..."
    The ancient priest looked over at the oddly silent junior captain of the ship.
    "Something wrong?" he asked.
    "No... not much," Dayvid said.  "I'm just wondering why this is the first time I've seen you in ten years... dad."
    Zelgadis stopped shoveling coal and almost fell into the furnace in surprise.  "DAD?!"
    "Da.. daa..." Amelia started without finishing.
    Xelloss smiled nervously, a little sweatdrop forming on his head.
    "Umm... anybody care to save me this time?" he asked, rubbing his head nervously before Dayvid smacked it with a coal shovel.
Lyrics written by Lee Thompson.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.