Bunny waddled along the sidewalk, occasionally stumbling over his
floppy fuzzy funny feet. If you listen close enough, you can hear
him swearing like a sailor under his breach, whiskers twitching, one ear
flopped over his face.
A young tyke wandered up to Bouncy Bunny, towing
a perfectly orderly formation of little souvenir wooden ducks on wheels
"You're Bouncy Bunny, aren't you?"
"Beat it, kid," the happy slappy rabbity fun mascot
"I've seen pictures of you eating growing carrots
and teaching children about nutrition," the boy said. "Is it true
that vegetables are good for your eyes?"
"What answer would you prefer?"
"I'd like it to be true, because mum's always saying
if I don't eat my vegetables I'll lose my sight because she'll lock me
in the basement for a week."
"In that case, yes. Eat as many vegetables
as you can. Whurffle," Bouncy Bunny said, looking for the nearest
"Yeah, whurffle. Rabbits make that sound,
"No, they sort of go wuffle. No Hur," the
boy said. "You're not a very good Bouncy Bunny, are you?"
Bouncy Bunny glared down at the annoying brat.
"I just got hired today, okay? Give a mammal a break. If you'll
excuse me, I need to visit the smallest hutch, so..."
"I should report you for being an improper bunny,"
the boy smiled. "They give you candy if you report someone breaking
the rules and mum doesn't give me any candy."
Bouncy Bunny sweatdropped. "Is that so...
well... wait right here."
The rabbit fluffy wuffy bouncie wouncied down the
sidewalk, reaching one of the many sidewalk food vendors. He dug
into his costume and brought out a silver or two, and bounced back to the
kid with a giant bunny head lollipop.
"Here, suck that," Bouncy said, handing the confection
"Eww, yuck. There's some fur on it."
"It's free candy, kid, you get what you pay for."
Bored by the exchange as young'ns frequently are
when there are no bright shiny objects around, the kid wandered off towards
the Cone of Tragedy, plucking white hairs off his lolly.
Zelgadis breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn't
counted on the absurdly strict nature of this apparently funpark, and all
these miniature humans that kept bugging him to tell them a story or dance
around singing. He tried to be as inconspicuous as a six foot tall
white rabbit can, and slipped through the crowds. Somewhere around
here there'd be a lake; above ground or underground, and it'd have to be
somewhere nobody else went, or it'd have been found already.
He just hoped he'd find it before he had to sing
that damn 'Joy Happy Joy Happy' song again.
Surf 'n Sand Gift Shop was identical to East Wavepool
Gifts, Sunken Treasures and Shop Here Because It Is Good. In fact,
every single one of the stores in Happy World were stamped out of the same
cookie cutter, strictly dictated in terms of architecture and content.
There were always five of every item on the shelves, and a clerk would
dash to replenish the supply when something was purchased.
Xelloss had a great deal of fun with this, picking
up random items and wandering around the store, exuding an aura of consumer
readiness. Then he'd watch in the security mirrors as some poor sod
ran himself ragged trying to adjust the store contents... after which Xelloss
would put the item back, making the clerk remove one item to maintain the
five count. It was a great deal of fun.
"That's amazingly cruel, you know," Dayvid pointed
out, once he had caught on.
"Ah! You noticed!" Xelloss smiled. "I
always knew you were a clever lad. Very bright. Remember that
time I helped you set up a lemonade stand with some of my special lemon
"If I knew what the word 'narcotic' meant at that
age, I'd never have done it," Dayvid muttered. "You just love watching
people suffering, don't you?"
"Well, of course," Xelloss admitted freely.
"I'm a Mazoku. It goes with the territory, can't be helped, to be
honest. But don't get me wrong, I can be a nice guy too. Didn't
your little stand make six hundred gold that day?"
"That doesn't count! Name ONE way in which
you've ever been nice whatsoever!"
"That is a secret."
"...but, I will be very nice for you right now,"
Xelloss said. "And point out that you're starting to get a crush
on that nice girl from Sailoon. Mmm?"
The younger one stared at Xelloss as if he had grown
three heads and a tail. "What??"
"Oh, I'm sure you haven't realized it yet.
Those involved never pick up on it, but take it from an expert on human
emotional reactions, you're going to start entertaining the notion verrrry
shortly!" Xelloss teased adorably annoyingly.
Dayvid fehed, continuing to browse the swimwear
racks. "Yeah, right."
"In fact, I'd hazard that me bringing it up is bound
to cause you to work your thoughts in that very direction, simply because
the issue has been raised and you won't be able to get it out of your head,"
the trickster grinned. "Simple facts of human behavior. A little
stimulus, a lot of reaction."
"If I even BEGIN to act anything other than a traveling
host towards Amelia, DAD, I'll... I'll..."
"Mmmmmmmm?" Xelloss hummed, curiously.
"I'll stop calling you 'DAD' in a very sarcastic
way," Dayvid concluded.
"Done deal," Xelloss said, grabbing Dayvid's hand
and shaking vigorously. Then with his other hand he passed the boy
some swim trunks. "Now go try these on, so we can get to the pool."
Dayvid grabbed the shorts from his father, and walked
off in a huff, towards the changing rooms. Just in time to bump into
Amelia, who was just stepping out of them in a spectacular dark blue bikini.
There's some gene in the Wil Tesla Sailoon family
line which dictates that no matter what you're wearing, you'll wear it
well. Scientists haven't gotten far enough beyond some steam machines
and trying to turn lead into gold instead of just more lead, but if they
ever manage to tag chromosomes, they'll label this one the Fashion Genome.
In this case, it made Amelia's youthful but soon to be Nagalike in a year
or three figure very appealing.
Dayvid, who realized too late that long days on
the open sea meant you weren't used to seeing anything other than a woman's
face, hands and sometimes ankles, locked dead in shock.
"Oh, hello!" Amelia smiled. "Ne, what do you
think of this? Is it my color?"
"It accentuates your lovely eyes in a way that rivals
the flowering blossoms of sunlit fields," Dayvid did not say. Instead
he said something like "Gaaah ug umm errr gee well yeah."
Amelia checked herself in the nearest full length
mirror, posing a bit. "I don't know... do you think it makes me look
The critical question. Analytical mind at
maximum strain against confused emotional center, task processing.
If the answer is negative she might think you're lying and if positive
it'll offend her deeply. Seeking alternative answer. Standing
there looking stupid and staring inadvisable. Muscles not responding.
Danger. Danger. General protection fault. Restoring from
"Oh, look, floppy hats," he said quickly, distracting
himself with the nearest display.
"I think I'll take this one," Amelia said.
"I could probably work up a good tan today! Let's get going to the
pool, everybody! And we'll look for that lake too sometime."
The cheery sorceress bounced over to the shop's
counter, paying the man from her money purse. Dayvid watched her
Xelloss floated up behind Dayvid. "I think
I won the bet," he smiled.
This snapped Dayvid out of it. "Yeah, right.
Sorry, dad, but I'm afraid you're just wrong about this."
Smiling at the way Dayvid sounded the words, Xelloss
simply nodded along.
"I know how it is, brother," Flippy Frog nodded.
"I mean, you slave away for hours and hours in a big animal head, becoming
your character and entertaining, and they have the nerve to pay you skimpy
wages. Where's the respect for the creative process? That's
what I'm saying, we need people to acknowledge our art."
Salty Shark agreed, his fins in a ruffle.
"It's discrimination, it is. Nobody properly appreciates us just
because we wear animal costumes. You don't see them mocking the theater
actors on Widestreet play productions, do you? They wear costumes!
And they do just as much work as we do. Don't you agree, Bouncy?"
Zelgadis looked around nervously. This wasn't
helping. Yes, he wanted to fit in and not make a scene, but when
he agreed to get a cup of coffee with some of the other mascots in the
park, he didn't count on them yacking away for twenty minutes about method
acting. It was wasting his time.
"Oh, I agree wholeheartedly," Bouncy Bunny lied.
"It's a shame, a crying shame. And this park, I mean, it's not even
a classy one. How recently was it made, anyway?"
"I think it's been around for about five years,"
Flippy said, sipping his steamy java. "Ever since the King ordered
the construction of a funpark for the citizens to relax in. The contractor
built the thing at the base of an inactive volcano so they could heat the
water cheap then pocketed the rest of the funds."
"Good break for him," Bouncy said.
"I wouldn't say that, unless you mean the snapping
sound his neck made when they found out."
Bouncy Bunny choked momentarily on his drink.
"Ah, yes.. that's what I meant exactly. So, the volcano keeps the
wavepool warm? Where do they get the water? It's fresh, not
"Some underground lake," Salty Shark said.
"At least, that's what I heard."
"Really? That's interesting. How do
you get to that lake?"
"You don't," Flippy said. "There wasn't a
way down there until a year ago when one of the attractions hit a snag
of a classified nature. Now it's forbidden. The rules specifically
state that you do not go into areas that are demarked by the red signs,
and that place has been tagged for months. You couldn't pay me to
go there, some people say it's haunted, even..."
Bouncy Bunny leaned forward. "And which place
is that, exactly?"
The waterslide was a fairly new invention, a tube
of highly polished, magically constructed glass that you could pour water
and people through. The weirder the design, the more fun the disorientation.
Amelia, who had never experienced a ride at a themed attraction, was living
it up as the shot down the curls of the slide, finally upending over the
deep end of the wavepool, splashing down.
Amazing! These things existed, and Sailoon
didn't know! Her country was truly in the dark age. She'd have
to be the princess to bring waterslides to her people. Millions would
herald her name for that, surely! And that way she could ride it
down whenever she wanted, too. Funding it might be hard, but she
could just give up her allowance for a year or so.
Sputtering, Amelia surfaced and bobbed on the water.
Dayvid didn't seem to be having as much fun, she noted, as he hung around
the edge of the pool, not really swimming, just sort of floating a little.
So, determined to cheer him up, Amelia paddled over.
"Hi!" she greeted.
"Oh.. hey," Dayvid said. "So, how's the slide?"
"It's fuuuun!!" Amelia said.
"It's a very simple principle, really," Dayvid said,
examining the structure. "You wouldn't need the magic glass if you
could use a synthetic crystal, or some kind of material that was strong,
thin and slick... and the water could be drawn up to the top with a pumping
system of some kind instead of a magically enhanced channeling tube..."
"Either way, it's a lot of fun," Amelia said.
"I haven't ridden one before."
"You HAVEN'T?" Amelia gaped. She grabbed Dayvid's
arm, tugging him along. "Come on, come on! You've got to try."
"Uhh... uh..." Dayvid protested, as Amelia towed
A short distance away, on the artificial shore which
was frequently raked into eye-appealing and very organized dunes whenever
customers messed it up, Xelloss was catching some sun.
Relaxing in a nice folding wooden chair, with a
quaint little umbrella, the Mazoku priest was contemplating a tan.
He could change his appearance to have one, and technically Mazoku didn't
tan, but he felt it might be a nice change of pace to pretend to earn one
naturally. It almost felt like he was on vacation.
He had a nice vacation, years past. Nothing
was going on with the Mazoku. The wars were over for centuries going,
and other than the occasional tidbit of snippy infighting, he generally
had nothing to do except torment small villages with con jobs and carefully
arranged, soap opera like incidents. Realizing he was going to waste,
Zellas-Metallum gave him an order : 'Wait for further orders.'
Xelloss, knowing his mistress's usual mannerisms,
interpreted this as some paid leave and decided to go mingle with the humans
again. He was a human once, uncountable years ago, and of all the
recruits he managed to hang onto his delights of human senses the most.
So, at a particularly loud concerto, after ingesting a number of very interesting
plants, he met a very nice girl and took her home.
Surprisingly -- one of the few real surprises he
had had in a hundred years -- Dayvid was born as a result. Shocked
and intrigued by the situation, and having nothing else to do, he opted
for marriage and to raise the boy right. Dayvid at an early age didn't
take well to magic, but he'd have time to work on that, and maybe be able
to bring him into the family business...
Except, of course, that he didn't have that time.
That's when he received his next order.
'Watch over Lina Inverse.'
He didn't have much choice except to abandon his
play-family. He didn't feel very bad about it at the time, excited
that he'd be getting back to work. But... well...
Tricky things, the human emotions. He rarely
had them. He fed on them freely, of course, that's just who he was,
but having them was a bit less common. Fairly certain he was having
one, right here, right now, on the shore of the world's most orderly funpark,
he wanted to examine it closely.
Regret, perhaps? That he wasn't around for
Dayvid's life. The mother he felt less about, he'd never had a true
love that he'd publicly acknowledge, but he did have high hopes for the
boy. That perhaps the boy would understand things, would appreciate
them, would come into the fold and be a valued companion.
Sadly, this was unlikely. Dayvid had his own
life now; he had Dayvid's life, not Xelloss's. Xel could accept that,
perfectly reasonable, perfectly natural, no need to stress over it.
But it still tugged at him slightly.
Another thing tugged at his senses.
"You know, you could try announcing yourself," he
said, without looking. "It's rather unnerving just to feel a light
shadow over my shoulder."
A supernatural voice did not clear its throat.
"your feelings are irrelevant. She requires
an update," the Minion, Zellass-Metallum's apparently new recruit into
the fold said. "Why is Lina Inverse still alive, against Her orders
to you? you have been given sufficient time."
"I could tell you, but you'd never understand, I
suppose," Xelloss sighed, his introspective moment influencing his words.
He was aware he was doing this, but didn't really care.
"i am capable of logic beyond accepted standards..."
"Logic, my irritatingly boring non-friend, is not
the medium," Xelloss said. "How little you understand. I fail
to see why you're a superior tool for Zellas-sama than me."
"i obey without question. i carry out orders. i
do not stall. i am will made action and nothing more," Minion replied by
"As, unfortunately, are a lot of Mazoku goons.
I'd like to think of myself as having that little something extra than
a typical faceless minion, however..."
"Lina Inverse lives," Minion reminded. "you
cannot distract me from that."
"Fine, fine!" Xelloss said, turning to glare at
the thing. "If it'll make you so very happy, I'll kill her next time
I meet her, at the Island of Ultimate Despair. Would that satisfy
"i am incapable of satisfaction. She will
be satisfied in my stead."
The Minion vanished, its business complete.
Xelloss slumped in his beach chair. Complicated
matters, complicated indeed. And no logic would help in the realm
of emotion, Mazoku or human. Time was tight. If things were
going to carry off as he wanted, perhaps only one option was left.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.