SLAYERS REFLECT #7 : Surf Chimeras Must Die!
By Stefan Gagne, Spoof Chase Productions.

f elephants could stampede through your head and play soccer with your eyeballs, it would feel very similar to how Xelloss felt after Dayvid clocked him with the shovel.
    "Ow," Xelloss said, without much emotion.  "Dayvid-kun, that wasn't very nice."
    "Neither is ditching me and mom for ten years!" Dayvid said, waving the shovel menacingly.  "Where have you BEEN?  Not that I care, since you were a lousy father and probably responsible for most of my personality defects, but I'm curious in a violent way!"
    "That is a secret," Xelloss smiled.  "Afraid I shouldn't really say."
    "A SECRET?" Dayvid exclaimed.  "You can take that secret and shove it up your--"
    "Whoa, whoa!!" Amelia interjected, feeling the tug of justice and compassion, or possibly just resonating with the vibes of a million officers of justice who have to deal with domestic disputes each day.  "There's no need for arguing.  Everybody should just calm down, and take deeeeeeep breaths... air in, air out... air in... air out...."
    Dayvid's breathing calmed somewhat.  Xelloss hadn't so much as panicked since the incident started.
    "Therrre, that's better," Amelia smiled.  "Now.  Dayvid-san, why don't you tell Xelloss-san how you really feel?"
    The ship's captain nodded.  "Okay.  Dad... I... um..."
    "Yes, boy?" Xelloss smiled.
    "Sorry," Dayvid said, putting the shovel away.  "I couldn't think of anything to say in words."
    Xelloss popped up again, despite having a black eye and a little bump with a bandaid poking out of his head.  "It's okay.  Perfectly reasonable response after my sudden disappearance.  Wouldn't expect anything less.  I suppose I ought to tell you, boy, even if it means dropping my enigmatic act a moment..."
    "Forget where he's BEEN," Zelgadis said, shifting into gear in the discussion track.  "I'd love to know how this happened in the FIRST place.  A Mazoku having a kid?"
    "...a what?" Dayvid asked.
    "Ohhh dear, Zel-kun let the snarling sabretoothed tiger out of the bag," Xelloss slightly nervously said.  "Perhaps I should do the talking for a little while, then maybe another beating, a reconciliation and we'll all feel better and can get on with things, mmm?"
    "It'd be a start," Zelgadis said, leaning against the nearest wall.
    Xelloss had a seat somewhere, assuming the posture of the village storyteller.  "It's quite simple, really.  I was on vacation for a few decades since nothing was really going on in the family business, so to speak, and my employer had no use for me.  I met this lovely girl at a musical concerto, and we got along quite well.  A year later Dayvid was born, I taught him how to play catch and tried to teach him a little black magic, which he never really took to since he was more interested in that strange 'science' stuff.  After a few years I got called away on business and had to split, cutting my vacation short.  Terribly sorry about that, but hey, that's life, yes?  Oh, and I'm also a Mazoku, but that doesn't mean I'm a bad person."
    Dayvid soaked the abbreviated life's history slowly, like one of those business cards lawyers give you that turn into sponges in water.
    "So.... I'm a half-Mazoku near orphan who wants to be a scientist?" Dayvid summarized.
    "I'd have preferred you being a black sorcerer, but you seem to have a nice little career here, Dayvid-kun," Xelloss said.  "I'm so proud of you!  Ah, please put down the shovel..."
    Amelia did her best to restrain him.  "Dayvid, please!  This isn't helping anything!"
    "It's a cathartic release of pent up psychological angst!" Dayvid explained, trying to push past the princess.  "It's very scientific!  I read about it last month!  And I want to kick his ass, too!!"
    Zelgadis shook his head, and went for the door.  "I'll be on the Lito Deck," he said.  "Come on up once this silliness is over."
    Annoyances.  Annoyances all.
    Zelgadis watched the ocean's horizon, as he tried to ignore the clanging and clamoring below decks.  He stood at maximum irritation, arms crossed, a slight scowl.  Even if nobody was around to read his body language, he damn well wanted to make it clear to the fish that he wasn't in a good mood.
    In fact, his mood had been foul throughout this ocean trip.  The reasons why were very simple; they were Amelia and Xelloss.  Naturally, instead of being teamed up with Lina, who was competent and resourceful and not bad company for the most part, he was stuck with the most juvenile rejects of their little traveling gang.  Amelia's idealism sank them in hot water plenty of times, and Xelloss seemed to delight in leading the group directly into boiling water.  And they both smiled entirely too much and too often for Zelgadis's tastes.  Mind you, Lina could be a pain too, since she lacked any sense of responsibility, but these people...
    They just couldn't take anything SERIOUSLY!  And when they did, they botched it up completely!  This was his merry band of adventurers?  He briefly considered jumping ship and going to seek the Lake of Reflections on his own, but wiser thoughts prevailed.  Just because his companions were getting under his skin didn't mean he should lose HIS cool.  He had to maintain a reasonable mind in a ship of fools if he wanted the group to survive this ordeal.
    The noises had quieted down, meaning either father and son had reached some agreement, or Xelloss was a pulpy mess, either of which were fine with him.  Sure, the trickster priest may smile a lot and talk nicely and charm the socks off Lina -- who, despite being reasonable, had plenty of moments of gullibility and outlandish risk-taking -- but Zelgadis trusted Xelloss as far as he could spit a rat.  As far as he could toss a tree.  As far as he could do the six inch dash.  As far as other things very short.
    Yeah.  Definitely a foul mood for this chimera, Zel thought.  Not that he was always this moody, really.  His tune didn't change drastically until the day he stopped being a human...
    The hatch leading below decks flopped open, with Dayvid climbing out in a half-huff.  He had calmed considerably, sheepishly taking a place near the mast, as Amelia dragged a horribly bruised mass up the ladder.
    "No, no, it's not a problem," the living corpse said.  "I'll be fine in a little while.  It's good to work out your frustrations, Dayvid-kun!  Get that blood flowing!  It's good for the circulation, too..."
    Dayvid, who had never beaten someone like a rug before, much less have the rug thank them for it after, nodded quietly.  Somehow, his catharsis wasn't what he was expecting.  It could communicate clearly afterwards, for starters.
    "Don't worry, Xelloss-san!  I know... grrh, you're heavy... good white magic!" Amelia said, depositing Xelloss on the ship's deck.  "I'll have you patched up in no time!"
    "Not required, but I really do appreciate the sentiment," Xelloss coughed, blinking through two black eyes.  "If I... oh my gosh, look over there!  A three headed monkey!"
    The others turned to look, falling for the momentary ruse.  Even Zelgadis fell for it.
    Zel looked back quickly, though.  "I don't see a--"
    Xelloss dusted off his robes, fully healed and restored.  "Hmm?"
    "Never mind," Zelgadis said sourly.
    Dayvid pumped the bellows on his bizarre machine, channeling heated steam through it.  The room was already a sweathouse, the map he had tacked down to the table starting to curl at the edges, as Amelia reached melting point.
    "A mountain off to the left, a river channeling around the mountain like a moat," Xelloss described.  "I remember it vividly.  Of course, Silverquick decided to be a meanie and lock the actual Lake of Reflections away from Mazoku, but the vicinity was probed extensively by us..."
    Dayvid tapped a few more keys.  "The Makes-Math-And-Logic-Go-Faster'll track the topography of the land and get us the nearest match in Justivalero.  Shouldn't take too long."
    "The Makes-Math-And-What?" Amelia asked.
    "I haven't come up with a good name for it yet," Dayvid admitted.  "It's my own invention.  It's sort of a box that you punch instructions into with these keys, and after some time, it plots out the answer with the reptile interface."
    Zelgadis eyed the reptile interface, which was squatting off to the side of a map and attached to a flexible wooden arm.  It slept soundly.  "That turtle, you mean?"
    "Yeah, it plots out the answer based on the sequence," Dayvid explained.  "Once I make the Makes-Math-And-Logic-Go-Faster go faster, ships won't need navigators anymore!  Kingdoms can track their expenses with ease, and people will work more efficiently!"
    "Except for needing to pump bellows all day to get it to run, of course," Zelgadis pointed out.
    "Err... except for that, yes.  There's still a few kinks, you see--"
    The wooden arm jerked slightly, waking the turtle up.  Steam whistled as the critter... very... slowly... crawled across the map, clutching a wax crayon in its beak, and eventually made a tiny circle around a small part near the shore of Justivalero.
    "Eureka!" Dayvid smiled, letting go of the bellows.  "That's where the Lake is.  And it's near civilization!  All we have to do is adjust course, and we'll be there in a matter of hours."
    Amelia took one of Dayvid's Makes-Things-Much-Bigger lenses, and examined the dinky circle.  "Ano, there's a town or something here..."
    "Funny, the place was an abandoned wilderness last time I was there," Xelloss mused.  "What could the funny humans have put up in that harsh environment?"
    "The HappyWorld Water Amusement Family Park," Amelia read, from the map.
    The SS Guppy creeped towards the man-made harbor, like a baby curiously seeking a bright shiny object.
    Bright and shiny weren't even sufficient to describe HappyWorld.  It GLEAMED.  The sun reflected off shining towers, raising like holy towers towards the heavens, each with a number of twisted waterslides.  Flags were everywhere, with the smiling, perfect cartoon face of the HappyWorld mascot, Bouncy Bunny.  The laugher of organized children's play filled the air, along with precisely timed upbeat organ music.  Stray balloons wafted in the breeze, until snipers shot them down for cluttering the sky.
    A sign strung between two poles, greeting the ship as it drifted into the bay, read 'WELL COME! YOU MUST ENJOY YOUR TIME AT HAPPYWORLD'.
    "This scares me," Zelgadis felt like saying.
    "That's funny, this wasn't here last time," Xelloss said.  "I think I'd have remembered.  Yes, this is not the sort of thing I could ever forget, no matter how hard I tried."
    But Amelia's reaction was different.
    "WOW!!!  A fun park!" she squealed.  "I've heard of these!  I always wanted to go to one, but father said a princess shouldn't visit a common attraction.  Can we go pleased please huh can we go huh please??"
    "We're not here to play," Zelgadis reminded, turning his back on the monstrosity of ivory and bright, cheerful paints.  "We're here to find the Lake of Reflections.  Which is somewhere in that mess.  We'll split up, and investigate the park in teams, and meet back at the main gates by..... what's that look for, Mazoku?"
    Xelloss's really, really wide smile continued.  "Oh, nothing... I was just wondering if you were forgetting our little run in with the long twisted arm of the law?  Our happy faces are not likely to be welcome in HappyWorld.  Perhaps disguises are in order before we go traipsing off for frolic in the sun?  Particularly for our stony friend here."
    "Oh, right," Amelia nodded.  "Good thinking, Xelloss-san!  Ano, but how do we make disguises?"
    Dayvid, who had remained relatively quiet, interrupted.  "I think I can mix up a chemical makeup base which will effectively change Zelgadis's skin tone and cover the bumps, and I definitely can cook up a phytoalkaline which will change hair color--"
    "Not required," Xelloss said.  "Observe.  Ahem... 'image which changes, image which defies, cast your light shadow... Disguise Image!'"
    A brief shimmer of light played over the four present, and faded.  Amelia now had a pair of cute pigtails and blonde hair, Dayvid looked a bit older with purple hair like Xelloss's (who opted to look more like Dayvid), and Zel...
    Zelgadis crossed her arms under her ample bosom and scowled with pert, lush red lips.  "Very funny."
    "It is, isn't it?" Xelloss said, giggling.
    Snapping his fingers into a brief Flow Break, Zelgadis removed the disguise, back to his good 'ol blue self.  "Forget it.  I'll infiltrate the park on my own and find a suitable disguise.  We don't have time for childish games."
    He stepped up on the railing, snapped a Raywing spell in place, and skulked along the ocean, disappearing between two ships.
    "And off he goes," Xelloss said.  "Well.  Now that we've managed to get Zel-kun to head off and do the searching on his own, how about if we go enjoy a nice swim and wait for him to return, mmm?"
    "Uh... shouldn't we be looking too?" Amelia said.
    "Why, nonsense!  Correct me if I'm wrong, Dayvid-kun, but we're actually a day or two ahead of schedule.  Yes?"
    "Well... yeah..." Dayvid said.  "Since I managed to invent a new kind of screw-engine for the Guppy, we've picked up time, but I don't see why--"
    "Simplicity itself!" Xelloss said simply.  "If Zel doesn't manage to find it, we'll all head off and search search search tomorrow and surely find it.  Why not enjoy the time we've won for ourselves?  Amelia-chan, you SAID you've always wanted to visit a fun park..."
    "I guess, but.. I mean..." Amelia said, her resolve weakening.  "I suppose it couldn't hurt to... look for the lake around the swimming pool.  And the gift shops and restaurants and stuff.  It's part of the investigative process while In Cog Nee Toh, right?"
    "Such genius at such an age!" Xelloss exclaimed, clasping his hands in delight.  "Blessed youth!  You are truly gifted with a leader's insight, Amelia-chan."
    Amelia glowed with pride from the praise, like a Makes-Rooms-Get-Brighter.
    Fools!  Fools, all!
    Zelgadis drifted between the docks, careful to stay out of sight.  Here they were on a serious assignment, and they wanted to party hardy and waste time!  Whatever.  Let them waste time; Zelgadis always prevailed when he was more determined, and he was always good at being determined.
    Step one was to locate a disguise.  There were the yachts of the rich, which likely wouldn't have anything that could hide his skin.  Besides, it was an aquatic fun park, and most of the people he spotted walking along were wearing swimsuits; he couldn't skulk around in a full body cloak and not expect to draw comment.  What else would work?
    At the main gates the park, his answer was busy cheerfully greeting tourists.
    In a way, he was glad that the others weren't with him; he'd probably drop dead of embarrassment.  But he wasn't about to let something as stupid as that stop him.
    He waited for his designated victim to finish talking with some adorable little children, as the thing went about waving and jumping around in an absurd way.  Once the kids were gone, thankfully, the person walked over near some bushes for a breather.
    Zel grabbed the fluffy ankles and pulled the guy behind some cover.  A scuffle broke out, over quick.
    Easier than I was expecting, Zelgadis thought, as he put on the bunny suit.
    "*Well Come to HappyWorld,*" a gruff voice with a Justivaleroian accent spoke, from a magical audio projector.  "*You will take place in line and wait for ticket.  Do not push ahead of line.  Do not leave line once in line.  Failure to follow these guidelines will result in denial of admittance.  You will have fun inside.  That is all.  Well Come to Happyworld.  You will take place in line and...*"
    Xelloss twiddled his thumbs, as the line crawled forward.
    "Boy, this place must be popular," Amelia said.  "There's like two hundred people ahead of us in line!"
    "I'll give Justivaleroians one thing, they know how to have a good time," Xelloss said.  "They know exactly how to have one and every step involved, that is.  I suppose you two will be needing swimwear?"
    "I don't swim," Dayvid said plainly.
    "Awww, what's the fun in that?" Xelloss pouted.  "Come on, son, I'll teach you how once we're in--"
    "I didn't say I can't swim, I just don't, DAD," Dayvid said.
    "Bitter, aren't we?  Don't worry.  We'll have some fun even if it kills us!" Xelloss laughed.
    The line inched forward.
    Flipping open the park map in boredom, Amelia read some of the promotional print on the primitive leaflet.  "Well Come to HappyWorld.  We have five restaurants and five waterslides around one large wave pool.  While in the pool, obey the following mandates : no running above a jog, no throwing sand, no splashing water to excess, no bath toys, no surfboards without permit, no spitting, no fighting, no cooking barbecue, no... ano... there's a lot of 'No's here."
    "No, really?" Xelloss said.  "Amazing."
    The line inched forward again.
    A few minutes later, the line inched forward.
    It did the same thing a moment or three after that.
    And again.
    "My feet are getting tired," Amelia complained.
    Time passed.
    A volcano erupted and poured molten lava all over a nearby village in a horrifying cataclysmic disaster, but that was somewhere else.
    More time passed.
    "This is starting to lose its amusement value," Xelloss noted, his smile having dropped two notches.  "Hmm.  Ah, I have an idea.  Watch closely, kids, this could be fun."
    "An idea?" Dayvid asked, suspicious.  "What're you--"
    "Dark king of madness, spread like thin butter on the mind... Mass Confuse!" Xelloss chanted quickly, rapping his staff twice on the dock.
    At first, nothing seemed to happen.  Then large clumps of people in the line started to wander off, looking dazed and frightened; the ones that stepped outside the clearly delineated white guides on the ground immediately were hustled off by crack teams of Fun Park Gestapo, wearing happy yellow chain mail.  The unruly mob was out of sight within fifteen seconds flat, leaving Xelloss, Amelia and Dayvid standing alone on the docks, with a clear path straight up to the main gates.
    "Ah," Xelloss smiled.  "A marvel of efficiency, Justivalero.  Shall we proceed to the ticket window?"
    "Hey!  What'd I say about funny business, Xelloss-san?" Amelia warned.
    "Tolerable if it helps the mission," Xelloss lied.
    "Exactly!  I said... ano?  But I don't think I said it that way--"
    "Fun waits for no one!" Xelloss said, strolling over to the gate.  "Come along, come along."
Click to continue...
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.