Episodes 057, 058 and 059
Episode 057: Outmatched! The Hidden Power Remains Elusive
After the Great Beast jumped to light speed, Raily leaned back in his chair and let out a breath. "Just as Kain said, the main AI of the Great Beast is stubborn and proud. She won't accept help from us, just as she insisted on going off on her own and cutting communications with the Swordbreaker for now."
"But wasn't that done so that they wouldn't stand out?" Nina inquired curiously.
"That was the logical explanation," Raily agreed, "but not the whole story. Zelas wants to do as much as she can on her own. She doesn't want to be saved by a lord of light from another world. She had enough of that during her first encounter with Darkstar. It's probably more than enough for her to have to rely on humans from her world."
"I get it," Nina smiled. "Then giving her that hint was the best thing you could do to help her."
"Yes," Raily nodded, "I told her about the greatest weakness of the enemy and herself. I just hope she knows that it won't work on Dugradigdu, because of that Stillness business."
"The effect on Darkstar's allies is also reduced because of their connection to him, isn't it?" Nina remembered hearing something like that from Canal the last time they called the Swordbreaker. Nina was often catalogued as a scatterbrain, but it wasn't that she was entirely dumb, she was just a little clumsy, as proven by the tea stains on Raily's uniform.
"That's right," Raily confirmed. "That code can be their trump card, especially since it needs to be spoken by a human and the Darkstar's lost ships don't currently have captains inside them as far as we know. Besides, even if they got captains to boost their power, feeding off their negative energy, they would probably be trapped in an unconscious nightmare and both unwilling and unable to utter the phrase against the Great Beast. Yet they can't rely on that trump card too much, because after it's been used once, it won't be effective again for several hours, which is more than enough time to finish a battle."
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As the Great Beast continued its travels in relative calm, suddenly, the radars lit up, alerts flared and Zelas' relaxed posture turned fierce. "It's Bodigar!" She announced in alarm. "I was planning to face Bodigar and the others after I obtained the White Materia, for now let's jump to light speed!" The crew of the Great Beast braced themselves for the jump that came and went in a flash.
Yet after a few more hours of travel, the radars lit up on the screen again and Bodigar sent a transmission. There was no image to go along with it, only the sound of his voice. "Go ahead and waste your energy jumping if you want. I'll be right behind you. Even fake IDs can be tracked if you know what to look for. There are communication signals all around, surely you feel them, you must feel the digital plane."
"So you've found a way to track me," Zelas glared. "Thanks for explaining it," she mocked sarcastically. "I'll make sure to change my IDs after every stop from now on."
"You won't have any more stops, your rebellion ends here!" Bodigar threatened.
"Forget the plan, I'm taking him out right now," Zelas grinned confidently and for a moment she wondered if Raily had actually given her a free hint. He didn't even try to open fire after he spoke that paralyzing phrase. Either way, she didn't have time to think about that now. "Lina, say it!"
"With pleasure!" Lina took a deep breath and spoke with absolute confidence. "The one who arose from Darkstar, bows down in the name of Chaos!"
The effect was immediate; Bodigar cut the communication channel with a pained groan, as electricity surged through his dark green and black metal.
"Lina, to the captain's chair. Filia you're the first officer," Zelas ordered. "Xellos, take Filia's energy while I take Lina's. Alright you two, get angry, we're blasting Bodigar into space dust!"
"Here we go!" Lina shouted. She and Filia focused on things that made them angry, allowing their energy to flow.
"Firing the main psy-cannon!" Zelas aimed point blank and fired a massive beam of energy with little effect. Frustrated, slightly embarrassed and above all angry, Zelas fired again. "Keep the energy coming!" A third shot was fired, even more intense than the others.
After the blast ended Bodigar's outer armor was burned and bruised, but he wasn't out of the fight yet. Zelas knew that her dark energy wouldn't be very effective against the dark ships, but she thought she could overpower Bodigar when he was disabled. Yet now Bodigar's systems were back online and he was ready to go on the attack. "Is that all you can do? The other world must be very weak!" He began the assault with beams of dark light that went right through Zelas.
The Great Beast's crew, all save for the two AIs, Zelas and Xellos, collapsed in pain. Zelas needed their energy as fuel for her systems; she knew she couldn't win without them, so she had no choice but to protect them. "Shield to maximum output!" The dark light stopped invading the control room, instead being repelled by the energy around the Great Beast. "Lina, all of you, say it again!"
"The one who arose from Darkstar, bows down in the name of Chaos!" Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia spoke with pained difficulty, but nothing happened.
"That won't work again so soon!" Bodigar's voice came from the transmission again. The beams of dark light continued raining upon the Great Beast, who could only defend in response.
"Those beans of dark energy won't hurt me, they're aimed at all of you." Zelas glanced at the non-AIs in the ship.
"Don't forget that you need our energy, so you have to keep us safe from whatever that was!" Lina shuddered involuntarily. The pain, the fear, the desperation; it only lasted a few seconds before, but the mental attack was unbearable. Lina felt like she was dying, worse than dying, and she was sure that it was the same, if no worse, for the others.
"I won't make any progress if I just defend," Zelas growled. Her weaponry wouldn't work against him at all. "If energy won't work, I'll just attack physically!" A pair of arm-like structures extended from the ship, grappler arms, they were called by most over-worlders. Unfortunately, when Zelas tried to connect a right hook, dark electricity coursed through her vessel and her crew yelped in pain. "You're weighing me down," she growled.
The worse part, Lina mused desperately, was that Zelas had a point. If they didn't make themselves useful, she wouldn't protect them and their lives literally depended on her as things stood. "I was able to attack Gorun Nova with my own energy in a direct hit before." Lina was charged with chaotic energy from the trip to the over-world having just occurred at the time, so this time would be different. "If I could hit him directly without you making my energy become dark..."
"I'm not making your energy dark, it already is. Wrath is dark energy, unless you can shoot off pure courage while surviving in space, it's not going to work." Zelas growled and proceeded to ignore Lina. Bodigar looked like he was going to attack and after a mocking sounding laugh he did.
Zelas ignored the dark rays of energy, as they didn't really hurt her. "We'll have to prove we're not a burden." Amelia rallied up the others. "We have psy-weapons, we can use them to defend ourselves!" She cheered through the pain.
The humans and cyborgs readied their psy-weapons with difficulty. Gourry had a sword that had been made from the hilt of Lina's brass racket; the metal was very rare in the over-world, different from what they called brass there. Zelgadis and Filia used their cyborg components to project their psy-energy, while Amelia raised her psy-gloves to project her energy as well. All the energy was united by Lina. The redhead had her gun, which she controlled to release a steady beam of light over the group in the form of a forcefield, drawing power from all of them, channeled by their respective psy-weapons. In that way they kept themselves safe from Bodigar's attacks while Zelas tried to fight back, with Xellos assisting in trying to improve the processing speed and thus the reaction time and agility of the Great Beast.
The two dark lost ships collided, with the grappler arms built into the Great Beast hitting the enemy relentlessly. Zelas didn't seize her attack until the long metal appendages became useless and were ripped off by Bodigar. The metal parts floated away in space as the battle persistently continued. Unfortunately, Zelas' power was ineffective. 'I must have power.' The monster lord turned AI thought quietly. 'If my power was really this useless, Darkstar wouldn't bother trying to steal it. It must be something hidden in my mind. That is the source of a monster's power after all, their very persona. That's why melting Dolphin and Dynast's metal into Dugradigdu wasn't enough. Darkstar can't drain their mental energy because of Canal's protective program. If that wasn't important, then why not simply destroy them? Lina was able to fight off Gorun Nova with the chaotic energy from between the worlds, but this is different. It's not about what we could have acquired during the trip. Darkstar definitely wants something that we monster lords have. My power... If only I could unlock my hidden power, if only I had a clue of what it really is.'
While Zelas focused on her thoughts and the fight, Lina had asked, or rather ordered, Xellos to find a space suit for her. Once she obtained it, she took the energy from the others into her psy-weapon and speedily suited up, while Gourry gave her concerned looks as if telling her to be careful. She couldn't just Raywing away if things got too intense and she was separated from the Great Beast. She could use no magic at all. Would her psy-weapon be enough, even with all that energy? Lina could almost feel his thoughts just by looking into his blue eyes, proving once again how well they knew each other and that they did indeed share a deep connection. Yet she didn't have time to dwell on it at the moment. "Xellos, open the hatch!"
Zelas felt a tug, but she was so focused on maintaining her defenses up that she didn't pay attention to it at first. Gorun Nova must have lagged behind due to the extra time he spent in their world. Meanwhile, in the over-world, where technology thrived, Bodigar, Nezard, Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis were receiving upgrades that Gorun Nova didn't have when he faced Lina; yet he could have them by now.
"Lord Beast Master, the hatch." Xellos' voice woke Zelas out of her concentration. She noticed that Lina seemed to be ready to do something. Zelas stopped resisting and allowed the hatch to open.
Lina was nearly thrown out with everyone else. They had to hold on to not fall into space, as the shield around the ship wasn't thick enough to hold off the vacuum of space completely. The redhead glanced at Gourry again and he smiled and gave her a thumbs up, silently communicating that he trusted her. That was just what Lina needed. Gourry and the others believed in her and they would project their psy-energy through the lifeline to the space suit to keep her safe while she focused on the attack. She knew she only had one shot. Gripping the psy-gun tightly, Lina made sure that the lifeline was secure on the space suit and, when there was a small lull in the fight, she jumped.
Everyone tried to keep the line steady as Lina aimed. "My energy may be mixed with plenty of wrath, but I'll make sure it has just as much courage! That, and the raw power of my world through we who represent it, will be your downfall!" Though her voice could not be carried through space, it came out loud and clear, transmitted through the communicator on her helmet and relayed by Xellos to Bodigar's communication link with the Great Beast. With a massive burst of energy, Lina fought against her natural limits and released, not only her main supply of energy and the energy the others gave her, but also threw out more of her energy from her vital reserves. It was a move that cost Swordbreaker's previous captain, Alicia, her life, yet Lina's endurance and ability to survive was beyond compare. Her hair became white from the strain and dangerous exhaustion, as her weakened form was pulled back inside the Great Beast.
The blast of energy hit Bodigar dead on. Though the energy of courage was indeed mixed with a high level of wrath, the raw power of it made up for it. That burst, point blank, was more than what Bodigar could guard against. As his systems overloaded and his consciousness was destroyed in a massive explosion, Zelas once again had to focus on the defense.
The stabilizers inside the Great Beast temporarily gave out as she was caught too close to the super nova-like explosion that ended Bodigar's existence. The crew was thrown about, with Gourry holding the fainted Lina protectively. Zelas strained her engines to get away from the aftershock and, after a harsh struggle, she managed to distance herself from the immediate area of Bodigar's demise and restore the stable atmosphere inside her vessel.
Everyone, save for the exhausted Lina, immediately sprung to life. They hurried to aid the redhead with the best medical attention they could give her without being able to cast healing spells. In the middle of tending to Lina and trying to calm down after the rush of the fight, Xellos was the only one who really noticed Zelas' especially foul mood. Try as she may to keep her cool, she was frustrated with being unable to properly use a mysterious power she was sure she must have. She was sick of feeling at a disadvantage, and now a mere mortal accomplished what she could not. Zelas was determined not to be in such a situation again. She jumped to light speed in anger, without giving her crew a proper warning, thus causing them to be tossed around again, just when they thought it was finally over.
"Ack! A warning would have been appreciated!" Filia snapped, yet a very serious warning glare from Xellos made her bite her lip and swallow any further comments. The glare also served as a warning of silence towards all the others. Zelas didn't acknowledge the complaint anyway. She was focused on her plan, on the lead she was following. This wasn't the key to unlocking her inner power, but it would make her stronger and that was all she had to go on for now. Zelas was determined to find the legendary White Materia.
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While on her way towards the designated destination on a remote, yet technologically advanced planet, the Great Beast faced yet another massive obstacle. "Nezard?!" Zelas glared at the radar on the screen and allowed the communication channel to open.
"I have found you, Great Beast. I do not know what cause Bodigar to disappear from my sensors, but I confirmed his demise." Nezard's voice came through the speakers in the Great Beast's control room. "Whatever it is you did, I assure you it will not work on me, if you're even capable of repeating it, as I see your vessel is in bad shape."
"You gave up on your hunt for Vorfeed rather quickly." Zelas showed no fear though in truth she was desperately buying time. Lina was known for her miracle comebacks, but there was no way she could pull off another after what she did. She would need a long rest to recover and no one else in the crew had the same instinctual ability to wield the over-world's version of their power like Lina had proven to have; not even Zelas herself, which only made the monster lord turned AI feel more frustrated with the situation, if an AI could feel such things. At that time, it appeared that it was indeed very possible.
"I cannot be so easily tricked." Zelas and Xellos focused on repairing the Great Beast as fast as they could, while Nezard continued to speak, hopefully prolonging the conversation long enough for the engines to power up for a light speed jump. Although, given how things had gone with Bodigar, trying to run might turn out to be useless after all. Unfortunately, after a few minutes, not nearly long enough for the Great Beast to recover, Nezard got bored of talking and decided it was time to fight. "Enough stalling, I will defeat you now and bring back your barely functional remains to Darkstar!"
"Maybe I'll give it a go next time," Zelas replied with as much false nonchalance as she could muster. "Right now, I'm just not in the mood." She made a sudden jump to light speed with very dangerous coordinates. However, as the ship jumped, Nezard stole the coordinates from her system, as the battle damage had left the Great Beast's software firewall unable to function at its best, while the energy was diverted out of necessity to the repair of the damaged lost ship. Because of that, Nezard could easily follow Zelas, but she expected it.
"What is this place? Where have you led us?" The atmosphere was filled with boulders floating in space, for Zelas had flown straight into an asteroid field. She was in the middle of it, while Nezard remained just outside of the danger zone, still in range for communication. "Are you so desperate to run away from me that you would rather be destroyed by these asteroids?"
"These asteroids will not harm me," Zelas challenged. "Come and follow me to our battle field if you dare!" She flew deeper into the deadly asteroid field after baiting the enemy. Xellos was busy assisting with the Great Beast's sensors, which would be vital to their survival.
"Should we really be here?" Filia whispered in worry, not daring to raise her voice above a barely audible tone. She received no answer, as the two AIs were far too focused on their task of guiding the vessel through the impending danger.
The crash of the boulders against Nezard was heard and the enemy dark lost ship backed away. "You have committed suicide, Great Beast!" A sort of strange radioactivity originating from the center of the asteroid field affected Nezard's systems and he was unable to clearly sense the movement of the asteroids around him. The cameras alone would not be enough to guide him, as they would only show him his immediate surroundings. Without the aid of his radars, Nezard hurried to retreat out of the asteroid field, while Zelas went deeper in. However, her radars were not functioning any better than Nezard's. In fact, Zelas' sensors were fading faster because of the battle damage.
To be Continued
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Episode 058: Divided! Chasing After The Lone Wolf
"I think we lost Nezard, shouldn't we be getting out of the asteroid field now?" Zelgadis' suggestion was shared by Amelia, Gourry and Filia. It would have also been agreeable to Lina if she had been conscious at the moment.
Yet out of the four aforementioned conscious biological or semi-biological life forms, Gourry was the calmest. "It's okay, they're in control. She's guiding the ship and he's watching her back, they're okay, so we're okay."
"What do you mean?" Amelia quietly asked, voicing the inquiry that Zelgadis and Filia also wondered about.
"They're being guided by instinct." Gourry explained with a certainty that could only originate from personal experience. "That's why I think Zelas was telling the truth before. The asteroids won't hurt us. Even without the radar thingies that make the moving maps appear on that screen thingy, they know where they're going. They just know, kind of like how sometimes I just know what my opponent's next move is going to be in a swordfight, before it happens and before I can even really see it getting started.
The lights flickered and dimmed as the Great Beast's sensors gave out entirely in a clearing in the center of the asteroid field, where a strange machine floated. The thing was like a cube with crescent moon carving on the sides. "The grappler arms are gone, but this will do..." Zelas shot a cable with a hook-like end to it and grabbed the cube as if it was a toy from a pile in a crane game. She took the cube on board and Xellos projected himself close to the hatch to take it inside and to the control room.
The cube, which had been glowing golden the whole time, seemed to settle down and the interference that caused the radars and sensors to malfunction was gone. All the Great Beast's systems were back online, yet the strange crescent moon labeled cube remained a mystery. "What should we do with this thing, Lord Beast Master?" Xellos inquired with curiosity. A part of him want it to rip it open to see what could possibly be inside that caused such a strange effect, but his instinct told him to be very cautious with the mysterious cube that seemed to resonate lightly as if warning him not to do anything he might regret.
"We'll keep it for now." Zelas decided. Then, with her radars and sensors online, getting out of the cluster of asteroids was much easier. She was almost to the planet where the White Materia was supposed to be.
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Later... "Great Beast, you are clear to land at Shinra space dock zero zero seven." The voice of an automated control tower AI came through the speakers as the Great Beast landed at the intended destination. This planet was where the White Materia was supposed to be located. The structure was a shiny silver color with well kept metal that didn't screech and didn't have a single blemish.
"Well, here we are," Zelas announced. By then, Lina had woken up, though her hair was still white. The captain didn't like the sound of Zelas' voice almost completely devoid of her usual nonchalance, with a noticeable tint of impatience. Something was to come and the twist soon became apparent when Zelas informed them of how they would proceed. "Xellos, Filia should have just enough room in her cyborg components for you. Transfer your main AI to her. Only your personality and main memories if you must, you can leave the rest of your functions dormant here and unite with the rest of your non-vital data later."
"But Lord Beast Master, why?" Xellos didn't like the sound of this. He thought it was something more than just the possibility of, apparently very needed, renovations to the Great Beast lost ship.
"I'm going off on my own for a little while. I have some training to do. All of you have the mission of finding the White Materia, which is hidden somewhere on this planet. I expect you to have it upon my return. I will pick you up in this same city later. Now go, that is my order," Zelas commanded with a glare that left no room for arguments. Xellos opened his eyes for a moment, but Zelas only glare more intensely, making it clear that she would force her previous command to him if he didn't hurry up and do it himself. Thus Xellos transferred the basics of his being to Filia, possessing her in a sense. Though she was still in control of her actions, he resided in her mind in a sense and could take control of her movements if he wanted. But for now, he wasn't sure of what to do, so he just remained still. Xellos wanted to go with Zelas, but she wouldn't let him.
"Zelas," Lina spoke, causing all eyes to go to her. She only spoke in that tone of voice, the leader voice, when she had something important to say. "This is hardly the time to be proud and want to do everything on your own. I know you have power beyond what any of us has, no one is doubting that. I also know you have a hidden power that Darkstar wants, a power that you haven't fully discovered yet. But no one here has figured out how things work in this world to their full extent and maybe by the time this adventure is over and Darkstar is long gone, we still won't know the full extend of how things work here. That's all the more reason to stick together and- ah!" Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, and thus Xellos, were thrown out of the ship by the force of a reverse tractor beam and the Great Beast took off into the depths of space. Zelas would just have to rely on her self repair capabilities to rebuild herself as she went along.
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Meanwhile, in the world of the Slayers... "I can't find her anywhere!" Phythan complained to Milgazia. "Do you think Onyx is angry at me? She just disappeared."
"Calm down, I'm sure she's around here somewhere," Milgazia and Phythan were at Dragon's Peak. The golden dragon elder had a bad feeling that he couldn't get rid of, but after talking to several of the other dragons who lived there, he only found out that they had seen nothing out of the ordinary. Phythan had been asking around about his elf friend, Onyx, who had seemingly dropped off the face of the planet, unknown to them literally.
The two dragons went on a search, but saw no signs of the elf girl in the usual areas she frequented. There were no signs of battle or a struggle of any kind, which made it all the more puzzling. Yet something kept Milgazia with an uneasy feeling and then he saw a nearly invisible ripple in the air, as if a transparent image was contorting against something. He approached and reached out with caution. When he touched the area, which appeared to be little more than thin air, there was a spark and he sensed something there, but he couldn't perceive it unless he was touching it. It was very suspicious, to say the least.
Seeing that Milgazia appeared to be focused, but not understanding what he was focused on, Phythan approached with a question. "Did you find something?"
"I think so," Milgazia replied with an uncharacteristic lack of sureness, as he could hardly come up with an interpretation about what this was. Maybe it was a kind of side effect of the situation on the over-world whatever it might currently be. The dragon elder looked into the ripples and sparks with the younger golden dragon observing quietly. "There is chaotic energy here and..." He prodded the ripple in the space carefully and it opened up a little into a sort of portal. "It's a gateway of sorts."
"I thought I heard someone. Hello?" A voice came from the portal, faint but just barely audible. "Is anyone there? Who is there?" The voice was female and she did not speak in a threatening tone, but rather a merely curious one.
Milgazia thought it would be alright to answer her and hopefully get some answers in return. It wasn't the voice of the missing Onyx and he didn't recognize whose voice it was. "I am Milgazia, the dragon elder of the Aqualord's clan in the Kataart Mountains."
"Hey, wait a minute..." the owner of the mysterious voice contemplated. "That's in the other world! This is a portal to the other world!" She exclaimed, then tried to calm herself. "Oh... I mean, hello Milgazia, it's good to speak to you. This portal is too small for me, but I think a dragon should fit through, and it is stable enough to last for some time, so you can use it to return. Would you mind coming over here?"
Phythan huffed, "what kind of an obvious trap is that?" Furthermore, what was bigger than a dragon? Something with a very big astral form perhaps? Well, whatever it was, it was very suspicious.
"It's not!" The female voice insisted. "But I guess I can't blame you for thinking that. Let me explain, I am Canal and... Well actually, I think it's best to introduce myself in person. I'll send someone over there, okay?"
"Sure..." Milgazia stood at the ready for whoever the mysterious person decided to send.
"Alright! I'll go suit up and jump in," a male voice cheered. "While I'm over there I might as well take the time to check out the selection of capes in the local markets."
"No way, you'll get distracted!" Another female voice, different from the one who spoke before complained. "This is a job for the best in the universe! I'll go greet the dragon. Besides, I want to see what a genuine other world dragon looks like in his original world."
"But what about the capes? I must see them!" The man insisted.
"Let her go, Kain," Canal settled the argument. "Millie, go put on a space suit, just in case."
A few more minutes passed and eventually a human shaped figure emerged from the portal with a lifeline connected to the suit that encased the person, which was connecting her to the lost ship from where she came, the Swordbreaker. "Was all this even necessary? We know that the air here is breathable for humans." She struggled with the space suit until she managed to get it off and stood at an average height for a human woman, wearing pink pants, with a white shirt. She had shoulder length blond hair and big blue eyes. She looked curiously at the two men standing before her, with them mirroring equal perplexity towards this newcomer. She looked beyond them and all around before she finally asked. "Where did the dragons go?"
"We are dragons," Milgazia clarified. At least their visitor didn't seem to have any bad intentions. She appeared to be trustworthy.
"Oh?" Millie examined each of them with curious eyes. "I thought your forms would be different since you can't possibly be cyborgs here, can you?"
"Cyborg?" Milgazia inquired in confusion. Whatever that was, he didn't recognize the word.
"I'll take that as a no. It's just that I thought you'd be bigger." Suddenly, a conclusion came to her mind, it was mistaken but it was a possibility that she could imagine within the scope of her limited information. "I get it, you're not actual dragons, the word dragon here is used to signify a rank, right?"
"Nope, we're dragons, golden dragons," Phythan assured. "We're just in our human forms right now. Look, I'll show you what I mean." He took a few steps back in preparation.
Realizing that Phythan intended to change into his true form, Milgazia tried to stop him. "Phythan, don't," but it was too late.
In a flash of golden light, Phythan changed into his dragon form with the usual process of any normal dragon transformation. That included storing away his clothes a split second before changing, so as to not rip them apart. It was done magically, so it was very quick, but still a split second's glance could be plenty for someone curiously watching in attention. "See? I'm a golden dragon." He smiled as if it was nothing, because to him it wasn't.
Millie's jaw was ajar, her eyes wide and her face a bright red. "Ah... um... dra... dragon..." she muttered incoherently.
"Aw, it's okay, you don't have to be scared. Don't believe those nasty stories about dragons eating humans. I would never try to eat a person!" Phythan assured, assuming that that was the only issue in Millie's mind.
"Um... ah... yes... of course... That's good to know." Millie tried to compose herself.
Milgazia sighed wearily; it seemed that modesty was still a concept well beyond Phythan's understanding. "Miss, allow me to introduce us properly. I'm Milgazia, elder of the Aqualord's clan and this is our home, Dragon's Peak. May I ask who you are and about this portal?"
"Oh yes, right!" Millie finished snapping back to reality and hastily explained. "I'm Millennium, but you can just call me Millie. I'm the first officer of the ship Swordbreaker, on which I travel along with the captain, Kain and the ship's persona, Canal. You might have heard of Canal's other self, Vorfeed."
"Night dragon Vorfeed!?" Phythan suddenly exclaimed, unable to contain his outburst. In another flash of golden light that came without a warning, he changed back into his elf-like form and bounced over to stand next to the other two in excitement. "Then you really are from the over-world and you even know the lord of light from your world! What about Miss Zelas and the others, are they okay?"
After a few more second of blushing silence, Millie snapped out of it and finally replied. "They're all alright," though that might not last very long. Millie didn't want to say how awkward the whole transformation process was from her point of view, so as to not offend the dragon. Besides, no woman would seriously complain about that show. "Anyway, about this portal; we just found it. We sensed the presence of a dark lost ship, that is a minion of Darkstar, near it and came to check out. I don't think this will be a problem though, after inspecting it, we realized that the gateway is too small for a lost ship to squeeze through. Ah, how do I put it, a lost ship is like the lords of light and darkness of your world, sort of."
"Then that minion of Darkstar would be like a monster lord from the over-world." Milgazia concluded and Millie nodded in affirmation. "Even if this portal is still small, it would still be wise to keep it under watch until it is properly closed. Do you know why it's here?"
"The boundaries between our two worlds are weak because of a lack of balance in power," Millie explained. "Or at least that's what Canal concluded. The monster lords from this world are currently in the form of lost ships in our world. If balance is not restored and every mayor power is returned to where it belongs, the two worlds may collide and that will likely lead to the near complete, if not total, destruction of both worlds. Of course Darkstar doesn't care, all the opposite, that's exactly what he wants if it'll make his plans of total annihilation faster."
"Then if the monster lords are returned here that might make the balance situation a little better, but there's a catch isn't it?" Milgazia correctly theorized.
"Yes," Millie let out a breath. "The ones called Dolphin and Dynast are currently Darkstar's prisoners. As for Zelas, she can't come back, we need her help to defeat Darkstar. If we ask her to return here for the sake of the balance of power, it would be useless if Darkstar isn't stopped. We're running out of time and we're not quite ready. Furthermore, the communication we received from Amelia recently isn't too encouraging."
"That's certainly worrisome given how cheerful Amelia usually is," Milgazia worried. "What did she say?"
"Zelas went off on her own to try to unlock her hidden power. All of the monster lords were struggling trying to get use to their new forms as sentient machines rather than..." Millie paused to recall the term, "astral beings. Zelas hasn't been able to unleash her full potential. Even so when Lina and the others arrived, she separated from us and now she has also separated herself from them. Amelia said she was too proud to accept help and wanted to figure out how to use her power on her own. But if one of Darkstar's allies find her, and they are already looking for her, she won't e able to fight unless she miraculously suddenly learns how to use her hidden power."
"I see..." Milgazia was deep in thought about this new development. Zelas' cooperation was needed for this battle to be a success, she was vital towards victory. Yet it couldn't be easy for the powerful monster lord to be the underdog for once. When the situation was placed into perspective, she had indeed endured a lot that she wasn't truly prepared for. "Do you think you can locate Zelas?"
"Because of the protective program Canal gave her, she should be able to, even if Zelas manages to hide from all other communications to avoid the enemy," Millie replied. "Of course, avoiding all communications also means relying on her own self repair systems to heal slowly rather than being repaired at a port. It also means going without ammunition, but getting caught would be worse, so Zelas probably knows to keep a low profile."
"Do you have any clues about what her hidden power actually is?" A plan was being hastily formulated in Milgazia's mind.
"Canal has found a few clues, but nothing has been established. The possibilities might not even be true. It's hard to theorize about beings from a different world after all. She is like the sentient vessels known as lost ships in our world, but at the same time, because that's not her original form, she has differences. It's hard to say what her hidden power might really be, but if Darkstar wants to capture her and take her power, rather than simply destroy her, then it must be something worth the trouble," Millie explain.
After some more thought, Milgazia finally reached a decision. "Alright, then it's settled. If Zelas is so strongly needed to save the world, even if her only motivation is revenge, then I'll go deal with that stubborn monster lord."
Phythan let out a little gasp of surprise. "Really? You're leaving? Can I come?" Before Milgazia could reply, a worrisome possibility came to mind for Phythan. "Do you think Onyx went through the portal?"
"I hope not," Milgazia sincerely answered. "Phythan, I want you to keep an eye on this portal and also, alert the others just in case more of these strange gateways appear. Take care of my clan; I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Alright, you can count on me!" Phythan cheered. "I'll do my assigned task very well, in the name of justice!" A bark was heard as a yellow husky dog approached. "Oh... no Justice, I wasn't calling you, I was just trying to say something heroic. But since you're here, you can help me with guard duty!"
Before further distractions came along, Milgazia spoke. "Miss Millie, please lead the way to your allies."
"Right... I guess I'll have to put on this silly space suit again," Millie began to do so. "I still say it's too much. Sure we'll come out in outer space on the other side, but Canal will beam us up right away, so it's not like we'll run out of air.... Ah forget it." Instead of putting on the suit, Millie detached the rope from it and stretched it so that there was enough to tie herself and Milgazia to it. "Okay, this end is yours, tie it around your waist and make sure to hold on to it just in case. There's no actual oxygen in the area between worlds, but the energy there is the energy of life itself," chaotic energy, "so that's not really a problem." Picking up the helmet after Milgazia had prepared. Millie spoke into the communicator within it, without actually putting it on. "The best traveler of worlds in the universe is ready to return with a visitor!"
To be Continued
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Episode 059: Technology! Overcoming Limitations
'Now, where to start my training...' Zelas mused as she traveled across the vastness of outer space. Her radars detected a small planet near by, but it seemed to be devoid of life forms save for flora. It looked like a good place to start out, though unfortunately, other than target practice on rocks and trees, she couldn't think of much else to do. Her aim was already high precision anyway, and machines couldn't be trained like humans, they needed to be upgraded. Perhaps some meditation would be beneficial if her true power was indeed hidden in the depths of her own mind.
Zelas landed in the forest covered planet, finding the flora to be rather similar to that of her world, but in much larger proportions with varying colors. "This is a disturbingly cheerful place." She mused aloud with distaste once the Great Beast had landed and Zelas projected herself on the surface of the planet. Leaving the lost ship to repair itself with its automated systems, the holographic AI went out to explore the lonely little planet. She found a comfortable spot next to a waterfall and sat down to think and try to unlock her hidden power inside herself, whatever it might be.
Time passed and Zelas' radars picked up the signal of another ship passing by. It was a lost ship, but not an enemy. Zelas assumed that the Swordbreaker was just coincidentally passing by, as Canal made no attempts to initiate a communication channel between the light and dark lost ships. However, just as Swordbreaker left, Zelas picked up the presence of a life form moving towards her. She didn't think it was anything to worry about so she simply allowed the person to reach her location. Surprise filled her thoughts when she saw who it was that had been dropped off by the Swordbreaker. "Milgazia? What in the over-world are you doing here?"
"I came to see how the mission is going," Milgazia replied with a confident air that annoyed Zelas. "I want to do my part in contributing to the defeat of Darkstar too."
"I thought your role was to protect our world," Zelas pointed out.
"It's in good hands," Milgazia assured. "Other than the terrible feeling of foreboding that constantly hangs in the air," and the mystery of the missing Onyx, "things are relatively calm."
"Then you should go back the way you came and enjoy that calm while it lasts." Zelas threatened, though she wasn't in the mood to put much of an effort into it. "Because when I return after I beat Darkstar, there's going to be a lot of chaos in my world." There was a certain possessiveness in the way she spoke of her native world that was not lost for Milgazia, though he choose not to comment on it.
"It's good to know you're so confident." Milgazia smiled in a way that made Zelas feel as if their usual roles had been reversed.
"Why is that?" She asked with thinly veiled curiosity.
"Because Nezard is on the way here as we speak. He was following the Swordbreaker, but since you're so strong, Canal decided to leave this battle to you." Milgazia informed with a smile that reminded Zelas of herself.
If she wasn't such a collected and controlled creature, Zelas' eye would have been twitching as she exclaimed her surprise. But she was indeed a very collected and controlled creature, so instead of screaming "what?!" She only made a pause and voiced a short "really?" That came out more softly than she intended.
"Really," Milgazia grinned with an unexplained confidence. He was glad that for once, he knew something that the monster lord turned lost ship didn't know. He finally had the upper hand on Zelas, if Canal's theories were correct that is.
"You seem to be in a cheery mood," Zelas observed with annoyance.
"That's because I get a front row seat to the whole epic battle," Milgazia replied. "You don't mind bringing me along, do you? I mean, I'm sure you'd want the dragon elder of the Kataart Mountains to witness your awesome power, right?"
Zelas was about to retort, but she paused and gave Milgazia a studious look, as if trying to see right through him. "You still conceal your emotions very well, dull Milgazia. But they are seeping into your tone. I know you had a sarcastic side hidden somewhere in there." Milgazia straightened his already perfect posture and put on a serious face, as if he had been scolded for doing something wrong. Rolling her eyes, Zelas informed. "That actually wasn't meant to be taken as criticism. It was a mere observation and a good one at that." Though certainly not a compliment, absolutely not, because that was something Zelas would never speak of a dragon, not consciously at least. While their conversation took place, as soon as Nezard came up, Zelas remotely lengthened the Great Beast's radar range to look for him. By that point, she had spotted him, indeed heading towards their location. "Well, it looks like my radar picked up Nezard, if you're tagging along you better go get on board." The hologram disappeared.
With the invitation pending, Milgazia hurried to the ship he saw in a clearing just before he reached Zelas' projection. The vessel was impressive to be sure, but it was still in need of a lot of repairs. He wondered how she would fare against Nezard wielding her true power if she was clearly no match without it. They would soon find out if that mysterious power did indeed make as much of a difference as Darkstar made it sound.
xoxox xox xoxox
With Milgazia in the control room along, with Zelas' solid holographic projection, the Great Beast took to the atmosphere and moved in the vastness of space where there would be room to maneuver without obstacles. The possibility of jumping to light speed and trying to escape in a similar way to how she managed to lose Nezard before was out of the question this time. Canal had set her up for this fight and the enigmatic Milgazia was right there watching. "Before I face Nezard, I have one question for you, why did Canal set this up?"
"I already told you," Milgazia repeated his previous information. "Since you are so strong, you should have no problem beating Nezard."
"Under different circumstances I would have been amused by your sarcasm." 'And maybe even celebrating that you're finally coming out of your shell in a way that I thought only Flagoon was capable of achieving,' she privately added. "But I'm not in the mood right now. Speak, why did Canal set this up and why are you included in this?" Zelas insisted.
"I am but a spectator..." Milgazia's vague answer only served to anger Zelas further. He didn't flinch at the sight of her glare and instead only added. "I'm here to witness the great courage of the beast, so show me, mighty hunter, show me your bravery."
"You've got a whole lot of courage yourself talking to me like that!" Zelas snarled, but she could argue no further as Nezard had arrived. Yet a thought occurred to her, courage, that was just what she needed. Maybe Lina had trouble separating her courage from her wrath and it would all ultimately converge to dark energy when channeled through the Great Beast, but Milgazia was good at hiding his emotions, that's part of what gave him an edge against monsters, along side the fact that, unlike most dragons, he had no qualms about wielding a monster's own power against it.
"I have finally found you; the white ship led me to you. It seems you must have had a fight if Canal decided to lead your doom to your hiding place!" Nezard's voice came through the communication link between the two dark lost ships.
"Who's hiding?" Zelas mocked, regaining her true confidence with a plan. "I hope you're ready to get blown up, because that's exactly what's going to happen!" She used her own dark energy to create a shield. Sensing the presence of a semi-biological creature, a cyborg, inside the Great Beast, Nezard shot the same beams of dark light he had used to try to disable Zelas' crew in their previous encounter. If Milgazia just came to the over-world, Zelas reasoned that he would be inexperienced in deflecting the attack, thus she shielded the vessel, preventing the dark light from reaching the control room and absorbing as much as she could for her own benefit. "Milgazia, you're the honorary captain, so I'll be taking your energy now. Put your stubborn courage to good use. Readying the main psy-cannon!"
"Courage... You have the right idea. I guess it's time I stopped holding back!" Milgazia focused on the feeling of courage and let it flow. It was calm and pure, much like the energy that, with vast difficulty, Kain had managed to achieve in his encounter with Darkstar in the start of what became the prophecy. Yet Milgazia was a dragon with a life span well beyond that of a human. Though humans had a certain intensity that made them very special, dragons had a calming constancy to them and Milgazia had enough experience to output courageous energy without the taint of wrath with relative ease.
While Zelas prepared the main spy-cannon, Nezard did not relent in his attack with missiles and lasers. Zelas did what she could to dodge while keeping her shield up to maximum. Yet it wasn't Nezard's hits that paralyzed her all of a sudden. The hit that rattled the vessel and made all the electronics connected to it flicker and die down came from within. There was an explosion in her main engine as Milgazia's energy that Zelas attempted to wield backfired and ended up harming the Great Beast. The main engine was aflame and the security system offline, with her outer force field being disabled as well.
"It looks like I've broken through your defenses!" Nezard took the credit, though it was not entirely his. "Look at you, you're helpless!"
"Zelas, what happened?" Milgazia demanded with urgency.
The alarm that he suddenly allowed to manifest itself, gave her a little jolt that made the control room light up again, albeit only dimly. Zelas' holographic projection lost its solid quality, becoming as a flickering ghost. "Idiot," she growled with difficulty. "You attacked me instead of him!"
"But I gave you my energy just as you said." Milgazia argued, though the calmness around him had somehow been restored despite their odds. It was a natural reaction for him, but it was not what Zelas needed, given her nature.
Nezard seemed to think that the Great Beast was disabled enough and he was only causing some superficial damage now, as he needed to deliver Zelas to Darkstar alive. Nezard was only ensuring that she wouldn't recover and launch a surprise attack while they were on their way and if he kept that up, he would accomplish his purpose.
"Zelas, you need to defend when you attack with a power that is the opposite of you." Milgazia seemed to be talking more directly now, as if he actually knew what he spoke of.
"If you have any information, say it now." Zelas' self repair system was being destroyed by Nezard and if that went out, so would her chances of escape.
"Awaken like Vorfeed and Canal did. Vorfeed couldn't handle it after Alicia's death; that was when she awakened. Thus she left Canal in her place and it was Canal who evolved." Milgazia explained, from what Canal had told him.
"What?" Zelas growled impatiently.
"Protect yourself from being overloaded, by using your own courage," Milgazia insisted.
"I'm a dark lost ship, I-"
"You are capable of producing your own psy-energy; that is the secret. The lost ships in this world were created as machine with a protocol to follow. Until they gained a life of their own, they were unable to truly produce their own steady supply of psy-energy. Darkstar and Canal had both awakened, but the former weapons of light that now serve Darkstar have not. The monster lords were living creatures from the start, they had their own thoughts. Even if they are adverse to positive emotions, they still have their own thoughts and wishes. They were not created to be automatic so they didn't have that to overcome." Milgazia explained as Nezard attached cables to the Great Beast and began to drag her away, towards Darkstar.
"Just as Canal is capable of wielding pure burning wrath as a weapon because she is both light and neutrality," Milgazia continued. "You can wield courage because you are both darkness and neutrality. Neutrality isn't emptiness, it is a standstill, a possibility waiting to happen and possibilities, unpredictable as they can be, are chaos, they are life, they are the opposite of the Stillness. Both light and darkness are chaos and possibilities are what existence is all about. Nature may lean to a side, but technology has neutrality, it's a possibility waiting to happen. It's the gift of the Mother of All Things so we can be like her. It's the chance to create, not in such an absolute sense as she does, but in a smaller scale. You've become technology, so you've been given the possibility to wield both your native darkness and the light."
Zelas took in the new information. It made sense and yet she couldn't figure out how to actually execute it. "If the light harms my systems, then how can I wield it, even temporarily? Without the White Materia..."
"You don't need any outside devices!" Milgazia insisted. "You already have all you need inside you. Coat your being in your own courage and let's try this one more time." He began to remove his cape and shirt so as to not rip the back when his jetpack came out. Surely if Galathia was there she'd have a comment or two to make, and if she dared include Zelas in such comments, she'd have a pack or two of muddy wolves to bathe added to her list of chores.
Deciding not to comment on his perplexing actions, Zelas went out to point out the obvious because it sounded as if her temporary cyborg captain had missed it, though in fact he didn't. "My self repair system is toast and my energy sensors are offline by now, in case you didn't notice Nezard's attack before. Even if I manage to wield my own courage to defend my vessel and prevent a repeat of before, I can't use yours as fuel for my psy-cannon because I can't absorb it."
"That's why I'm passing it on directly." From the base of his jetpack, compartments opened up and thick cords ending in plugs slid out. "Don't you think I would have taken the time to study my new form before coming here? I'm a cyborg, I'm technology and technology can connect with other technology."
"Wrong, dragon boy," Zelas argued. "I tried this with Filia before. She had outlets of the same type as some of mine, but that's just it, they were all outlets, so without an adapter cable, which I don't currently have, there was no way to..." She slowed down as Milgazia held up the end of the cables. "Connect..." The cables ended in plugs, thus no adapter cables would be needed to make the wiring compatible. "Alright, fine, do it!"
Milgazia connected his systems and synched them with the Great Beast, once more focusing on the energy of courage, to power the barely functional psy-cannon. Nezard would surely catch on to their moves, which meant that they only had one shot, or next time, Nezard would make sure beyond a doubt that the Great Beast was injured beyond repaired. Light sparks came from the control panel's surface and screen as Milgazia let out his energy much slower this time. "Zelas..."
"I'm on it," she growled impatiently. What was the theory without practice? Even if she believed she could do this, actually doing it was a whole different story. She focused on Milgazia's energy for a moment longer. She had to wield that, but it had to come from herself and she had to moderate and control it to channel it properly, just as Canal was able to do. She allowed his energy to seep into her systems slowly and gently so as to not overwhelm her damaged fragile vessel and reached in deep to find the energy within herself that could be compared to it. "I think I got it..." Then she brought it out and her self repair system somehow came online, quickly getting to work on making her functional again.
An overwhelming sensation overtook Zelas. Her technology had been awakened from the minute she became it, but she had not felt it before. It was intense and chaotic, much harder to tame than she imagined, but not impossible to wield. She felt the neutrality tip and the battle of darkness and light waged in her mind. She coated herself in her own bravery and allowed more of Milgazia's energy to roam her systems. His eyes were closed as he remained perfectly motionless in concentration. The stinging pain faded and she could allow his energy to sink deeper into her very core and gathered in the power cell of her repaired main psy-canon.
Nezard caught on to a sudden rush of energy. "What are you doing in there?" It was too late. The massive beam of courage empowered psy-energy was shot towards the minion of Darkstar point blank. Nezard could only defend as the cable he was using to pull the Great Beast along was snapped and he was thrown back. "Where did this power come from?" He had to use his secret weapon, to end the life of his trump card, the unwilling captain he stole from the other world, and with her pain, he would form a shield.
"More energy! Give me everything you have, I can take it now!" Zelas sounded a lot more like herself now, Milgazia noted. Confident, sure of herself, brave and cocky, but hers was the kind of smugness that she once again had the ability to back up.
"Alright, you asked for it, Beast Master, I'll show you what a golden dragon can do!" Never mind that they were in different forms at the time, this wasn't entirely about their forms, but also about the power hidden in their very souls. Nezard's dark shield flickered, but the fact remained that Zelas had just only learned to wield this power and even if her self repair system was functional, she had not had the time to recover. "This is too much!"
"Don't underestimate me, dragon boy, don't you dare stop!" Zelas growled. A wave of pain was starting to overtake her because of her damaged systems, but she refused to let it halt her attack.
"Nezard... I won't let you..." A voice echoed through the digital waves around them. "I won't let you use me against them!" Nezard's shield suddenly disappeared and he was blown to peaces by the force of the bravery blast.
The Great Beast had finally been victorious, but what was that voice? It sounded familiar and for a moment they sensed a presence there, one that they both knew. Zelas allowed her systems to cool off and focused on the repairs, though she also recognized the voice. It was Milgazia who spoke up about it, as he allowed himself to sink into the captain's chain on his side, as the jet pack was still out, the cables still connected. "That voice sounded like Onyx..." He knew it, he felt it; something tragic had occurred.
To be Continued
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Episode 057: The grappler ship functions are based on Outlaw Star. Sorry it took a few extra days to get this chapter posted. I was revamping my site "Starlight", which is now up and running, so check out the link in my profile. There's mini games you can play from your browser, web-design codes and lots of cute little pixels. I have lots of updates planned for it too. :)
Episode 058: The mysterious cube looks like the ones from Portal, but with a crescent moon instead of a heart.