Episode 063: Engineer! The Awakening Of The Beast
Though Xellos was on high alert by the recent happenings and Beast Master's dormant state, he still wanted to keep the independence Zelas wanted for herself and her crew. Yet when it came down to it, he knew that he wouldn't be able to defeat Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis alone if they came after him. Albeit Zelas had previously taken a moment to share her findings and Xellos was confident that he too could recreate her energy techniques, it would still be at a lesser scale. Besides, he wouldn't be able to count on the crew's energy, weakened as they were left. Thus he felt it wise to stay close to the Swordbreaker, while making sure the Great Beast led the way. Canal decided not to question his logic and simply followed him, stopping at a near by planet.
The planet was about half city and half farmlands with a very marked distinction between the two areas. It wasn't as technologically advanced as other planets at a glance, but if one was to look deeper, beyond the rugged exterior of the antique buildings, there was a place that rightfully earned its name as a cyborg's paradise. The best engineers and doctors lived there, constantly conducting research and coming up with new advancements. The technological aspect of the planet meant that it had good defenses that would make the presence of enemies obvious as well as detain them should Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis track them down. The farm areas would provide a place to land away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the opportunity to remain hidden and hopefully undisturbed.
The Great Beast and the Swordbreaker both landed on a vast grassy field next to a farming area. The farm wasn't particularly large in terms of the area that was planted, but the endless stretches of land around it were certainly sizeable. In the far off distance an antique looking locomotive passed by with hidden advanced technology, while maintaining its classic nostalgic appearance on the outside. Maybe it was all part of a sort of tourist attraction where the beginning of technological development co-existed with its peak. Across the grassy fields there was a small house, which was indeed inhabited as Xellos soon noticed when a human girl, whose blond hair, blue eyes and fearless expression reminded him of Filia, approached the ships.
The young woman stood in front of the ships with her hands on her hips and a pout upon her face, paired with a warning glare. Xellos simply projected himself just outside of the dark lost ship without the need to open the hatch to let himself out. "Good afternoon, miss," he greeted politely.
"Oh, good afternoon," the girl lost her pout and instead put on a pleasant, yet business-like expression. "Are you in need of a mechanic perhaps? I would be glad to offer my services..." She turned her head towards the Swordbreaker where the hatch had been opened and Kain and Millie were stepping out along with Canal's holographic projection. "If your payments are not as late as Kain's!" She finished.
Kain laughed nervously and placed one hand behind his head, carrying a small box on the other. "Go easy on us Winry, when have we ever let you down? Here's your payment." He gave her the box.
The young woman called Winry snatched away the box, her eyes shining with anticipation. She slowly lifted the lid, savoring the moment. Her whole face lit up with bliss when she got a good look at what was inside. Curious to see what made her appear so overjoyed; Xellos stepped over next to her and peeked inside the box. The inside of the box was padded with plastic that held carved outlines in the shape of forty tiny letter Us. Within the U shaped outlines there rested little wires that shone in a silvery prism color, reflecting the light in more colors than what anyone would guess the tiny things could. "Wires? You're this happy about a bunch of little wires?"
Winry snapped the box shut and held it close protectively. "These are no ordinary wires; they are extremely rare nerve connectors!"
"Ah, I see, then you are one of the cyborg engineers of this planet. I thought they were all in the city," Xellos noted.
"You mean Kain brought you here without even telling you whose backyard you were going to land on?" Winry shook her head as if silently saying 'typical Kain.' "In that case, allow me to introduce myself, I'm Winry Rockbell and as you've correctly concluded, I'm a cyborg engineer, though I also like to tinker with space ships and other technological devices."
Canal discreetly stepped over next to Xellos and whispered to him. "You should watch out or she'll take the Great Beast apart and put it back together before you know it and I don't think Zelas will call that taking good care of her vessel during her nap."
"I heard that!" Winry protested. "Speaking of which, how are the upgrades holding up?"
"I can't complain," Canal admitted.
"You see? I can be trusted!" Winry grinned victoriously. "So Millie, have you learned any new recipes? You promised to give me a cooking lesson, remember?"
"As a matter of fact, I was able to pick up a few new delicious recipes recently," Millie proudly declared.
"Really? By all means, show me!" Winry happily exclaimed. "Let's all have a fest tonight to celebrate Kain finally keeping his word and delivering my payment at last! I'm sure granny will be glad to see you guys again. Ed and Al are away in the city, but you know how they are, always running around on business. By the way..." Winry at last realized something she had forgotten to inquire about in her excitement. "That new ship, what is it called? Are you all its crew? What's your name?"
"Ah, so you finally decided to ask, it's a bit rude not to, don't you think?" Xellos chuckled, shaking his finger at Winry, who pouted in response. He laughed as they group walked to Winry's house. "You really do remind me of Filia, a Filia who likes machines instead of maces and vases."
Winry blinked, "maces and vases?" The two seemed very unrelated from her point of view.
"Yes," Xellos grinned some more.
"His wife makes pottery and melee weapons for a living, so if you remind him of her I guess that means you're cool in his book," Millie supplied.
Winry giggled, realizing that Xellos was just teasing her before. He did seem like kind of a jokester. "Filia sounds interesting."
"You can meet her later. To answer your other question, I'm not in the Great Beast alone. I'm sure you already noticed I'm a hologram, given my entrance a bit earlier." Winry nodded and Xellos continued. "Well, I'm currently the acting main AI of the Great Beast, normally I'm the secondary AI, but Beast Master Zelas Metallium is a bit busy with her plotting and planning deep within the system, so she might not join us for a while. The rest of the crew might, especially Lina and Gourry when they hear there's going to be food. I'm sure Amelia and Zelgadis will want a bite too, Filia as well, and Milgazia... If he manages to get up and walk over here that is."
"Which is makes it very convenient that we're here," Canal admitted.
"Ah, I knew you needed something," Winry nodded to herself knowingly.
"Come now Canal, let's not trouble our kind host," Xellos interjected. Let's get better acquainted first and then we'll discuss business... if necessary." He eyed Canal suspiciously, as he thought he was leading the way, but it seemed that somehow she ended up leading him to that planet after all. Canal made no visible acknowledgement of the look Xellos gave her, though she was well aware of it.
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Later, at the Rockbell house, granny Rockbell realized what a grave mistake she had made when the crew of the Great Beast awoke and joined them, by telling them to eat as much as they want. Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev could certainly eat, the others had healthy appetites too but those two took the cake, soon to become a literal saying. Kain could eat plenty as well, but he was still not as much of a big eater as Gourry and the surprisingly petite Lina. Granny never thought someone so small could eat so much, all while muttering between bites something about needing the energy for an upcoming rescue mission. While granny and Millie struggled to keep the dishes going, Winry decided to have a curious look at that new lost ship.
The cyborg specialist found the hatch that led inside the dark lost ship had been left open and curiously wandered in. "Hello," Xellos greeted with a smile, appearing right in front of her.
Winry jumped, startled by his sudden appearance. "Oh... Hi, Xellos."
"I thought you might come here soon," Xellos stated, his usual cheery mask intact. "Especially after what Filia told you in secret when she thought I couldn't hear."
"Filia has a kind heart, I can tell," Winry stated. "She's worried about your friend Milgazia, the one who stayed behind at the ship because he wasn't well enough to move yet. The truth is I can't see a damaged cyborg and leave him. Let me have a look at his injury, I'm sure I can do something to help."
"His fate is for Beast Master to decide," Xellos stated with finality. "I have decided that I will not try to sway her judgment, but it is still her choice to make."
Winry frowned, "but she's sleeping and time is passing. When it comes to creatures that are part mechanical and part biological, it is best to act fast, it is vital to act fast," she emphasized. "If his bio components heal inconveniently around the damaged circuitry, it'll be that much harder to repair him. The malfunctioning damaged mechanical parts may cause further damage to his biological body and as it tries to heal around defective technological components that are not properly functioning, his biological side may further damage them too. Cyborgs are tough, stronger than any human, but when they do get hurt, seriously hurt beyond what the self repair components can fix, they need the proper attention to heal the way they're supposed to."
"I stand by what I said..." Xellos simply stated. Winry placed her hands on her hips, then noticed that Xellos' gaze had suddenly moved to the source of the footsteps on the entry ramp just behind her. The footsteps stopped next to the engineer and Filia adopted an identical posture, with her hands on her hips. "You two really do look alike when you stand like that." Xellos observed with a joking tone that didn't really fit the situation.
"Don't be stubborn Xellos," Filia glared. "Let's go, Winry." The golden dragon turned cyborg made her way past Xellos and deeper into the vessel muttering something about clingy overprotective sons that made Xellos twitch slightly.
To the purple haired hologram's surprise, Filia led Winry to the Great Beast's control room, rather than the room where Milgazia was resting. "I know it must be difficult for dumb blonds to find their way in advance lost ships like this, but the other dumb blond of our group, and I don't mean Gourry, is resting in that direction." He pointed towards the hallways that led to Milgazia's room.
Filia and Winry gave him dual glares, threw their heads back with a "hmp!" And Filia dared to point out, "Beast Master's been a platinum blond before and silver hair can be considered a shade of blond by some."
"That's different..." Xellos pouted, having his own comment used against him. Winry ran a hand on top of the control panel of the Great Beast with Xellos worriedly hovering around her. "What do you intend to do?" He intoned in warning, his fierce amethyst eyes opening momentarily in a thinly veiled threat.
"First of all," Winry frowned as she found an uneven area on the control panel. "I'm going to fix this dent. Such a majestic lost ship as this one should not be marred in such a way."
"Ah yes, that was never fixed before... But I can't seem to remember how it got there," Xellos mused. The dent wasn't there when Zelas left them at Edge and then it was when she returned with Milgazia. Logically, the cause of it must have occurred in-between those time frames, but Zelas never got around to revealing it and there were more pressing matters to ten to at the time. "Alright then, fix it." Xellos nodded cheerfully, yet once again his face morphed into something that did indeed look like a monster, "but don't mess anything up!" Just as quickly he was cheery once more, "be careful, okay?"
With the raise of a curious eyebrow Winry nodded, "right..." She pulled out a capsule from her pocket, with the logo 'CC' and expanded it into a tool kit. Many of the tools there were labeled 'CC' or 'SI,' having been imported from Capsule Corporation and Shinra Incorporated respectively. The job was done swiftly and with no set backs. "There now, the control panel is nice and smooth... Time to try it out!" Winry began to rapidly type commands that Filia blinked at, not recognizing the codes. This must be how humans felt when they saw dragon script and couldn't read it.
Xellos' image faded from his holographic projection and appeared on the screen. "Oh no you don't. I see what you're doing. You want to disturb Lord Beast Master from her nap. Don't you know you're not supposed to wake a beast unless you want to get eaten?"
"Too late, Xellos, I am awake." Zelas projected her holographic form on the control room next to Filia and Winry.
Xellos returned to his holographic form as well, appearing beside Zelas. "Have you completed what you were doing, Lord Beast Master?"
"Meditation gets boring after a while, I'm ready to do something else," Zelas stated. "Oh, what's this?" She ran her solid hologram hand over the control panel. "The dent is fixed and I see there's a new screen as well, I vaguely recall the old one being broken."
"The screen was Milgazia's fault," Xellos pouted.
"And the dent too," Zelas recalled.
"What?!" Xellos angrily exclaimed.
"But I think I got back at him sufficiently, intentionally or not." Zelas mused about the vague recollection she held about ripping Milgazia's jet pack off. "Remind me, Filia, you were watching, weren't you? Did his spine come out of his back or does he still have it?"
Filia shuddered at the brutal possibility and backed away. "He... has it... And I would very much prefer if you let him keep it... please."
"Someone has turned meek and scared while I slept," Zelas teased. "Ah, I guess I left an impression didn't I? Well, it is to be expected, I am a monster lord after all. Either way, that's enough of catching up, on to the current business. Who might you be, young lady?"
Winry had been listening and staring in wonderment. So this was what a dark lost ship was like. She lacked Canal's friendly disposition and willingness to do good. Although the white lost ship also had a selfish side that wanted to spend only on upgrading her ship and budgeted every other aspect of the crew's expenses. Yet that only further proved Canal's status as a truly sentient being. The same could be said about Zelas' joking attitude towards matter that from the other's perspectives were certainly no joke, but at least she wasn't all doom and gloom. "My name is Winry Rockbell," she introduced herself. "I'm a cyborg engineer specialist and I'm the one who fixed the dent. I don't know how they could have ignored that. It didn't prevent any of the ship's functionalities, but still, it shouldn't have been left there."
"That is very true," Zelas agreed with an elegant nod. "I am Lord Beast Master Zelas Metallium, primary AI of the dark lost ship Great Beast."
"It's nice to meet the primary AI of a dark lost ship." Winry squealed in excitement. It was always a treat to have Canal and her super high tech Swordbreaker there, but she never imagine a dark lost ship would land on her backyard and remained appeased long enough for her to take a look inside and not get killed. "I was wondering if I could ask you something out of curiosity, if you don't mind."
"You seem to be polite and respectful enough, unlike some people." Zelas eyed Filia, who pouted in response. "Go ahead and ask your question."
"Why do you call yourself lord if you look like a woman?" Winry inquired.
Xellos and Filia nearly fell down at the unexpected question. Zelas was left without an answer for several seconds as she adopted a thoughtful expression. "Well... The long answer would be that monsters, my original race in the other world from where I came, are astral, that is to say non-physical beings. As such they don't have a physically identifiable gender. They are not programmed as digital beings are, with a predefined disposition towards a gender. Rather, when a monster becomes strong enough to project themselves into the physical plane, the gender with which they are most closely identified mentally becomes part of their appearance. I was called lord when I was but a shapeless ball of energy being created. Then I took on my astral form of a winged wolf, but it was still merely a silhouette without detail, until my power stabilized, as did my astral form, and soon after my physical form."
Winry blinked in confusion, "huh?" Was all that she could manage to say. "Other world?"
"What Zelas is trying to say," Filia interjected. "Is that her... father... gave her the title of lord before he knew she would turn out to have a female persona."
"Her father?" Winry thought about it and came to a conclusion. "Oh, I get it, the scientist. That's a pretty neat idea, to build an AI that can define its own gender based on personality, but then wouldn't the programmed personality define it? Ah, but there are many traits that can indeed be present in both males and females and with a random array of variables left open, it could be possible for it to go either way. That's kind of cool, building an AI and not knowing if you built a guy or a girl until it tells you what it is. I always thought of my technology as my babies, but this is even closer to that I suppose," she giggled.
Zelas raised an eyebrow at Filia, who laughed nervously as if saying she was only trying to keep things simple. Zelas gave her a grinned that silently screamed 'you little liar' although there was some truth in Filia's words, even if Winry came up with her own interpretation for them, which no one seemed too eager to correct.
After the small distraction, Winry moved on to the topic at hand. "I understand that there is an injured cyborg on board, Milgazia I believe you called him. May I repair him?"
To be Continued
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Episode 064: Unicorns! A Long Time Ago...
Zelas mused on the possibility of Milgazia's repairs for a moment, while Xellos, Filia and Winry stood by quietly in the control room of the Great Beast. "Without his jetpack he'll probably have no wings. That would make it difficult to have him come over for diplomatic meetings at Wolf Pack Island and I don't feel like sending Fang to fetch him every time or going to Dragon's Peak myself. Then he might also have trouble generally moving around swiftly from one place to another, though there is no reason why Raywing wouldn't do the trick. None the less, he might be pushed into an early retirement in the dragon council for what they call his own good. Regeneration magic is experimental and difficult, as most sorcerers opt for the easier method of sacrificing a copy of themselves and installing the parts as in with a chimera, albeit I can't imagine Milgazia doing that."
After a pause during which she enjoyed watching Filia shudder in horror, Zelas continued. "I doubt his clan would accept a different leader. He will still lead them, but be out of the council, then he'll have to send a representative and I'll have to find someone else to effectively extract information from. It's too inconvenient, Milgazia serves as a good link to the inner workings of the dragons, even if he lays traps on what he speaks in portions that are convenient to him and tries to obtain information from me in return. I've gotten used to his style by now and know how to make the diplomacy convenient and informative to me. It would be in my best interest to keep things as they are." Zelas concluded.
Winry wasn't sure what she was talking about, but Xellos and Filia understood. "Then in light of that..." Filia hopefully voiced.
"Yes," Zelas agreed. She looked at Winry, then spoke again. "You may heal him to the best of your abilities." Upon receiving Zelas' authorization, Winry squealed in delight, making everyone think that she had the makings of a mad scientist, though she might not show it at a first glance, the truth was destined to come out.
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After a good meal, the Great Beast took off from the Rockbell farm though its destination was not far. It landed on a small moon, with an appearance similar to earth, but with all the flora in pastel colors, where Canal had mentioned unicorns inhabited. The Swordbreaker's main AI had suggested visiting such a place for the creatures to work their mysterious influence in helping to calm the crew and get them ready for their upcoming mission. Though they were in a hurry to rush to the rescue of Mr. and Mrs. Inverse, the fact remained that they didn't know where Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis were, as they usually found the Great Beast, rather than the Great Beast finding them. Kain assured that he would contact all his connections to help in locating them and got Raily and a few others on the search.
As soon as the Great Beast landed, the crew curiously ventured out to see what the fuss was about the unicorns and if they were truly as relaxing as legends told. Xellos playfully sprang forward, running straight into the center of a group of unicorns, excited to play with them. "I knew Xellos liked unicorns, but I didn't realize he liked them this much." Filia commented as she shyly pet a medium sized white unicorn that approached her curiously. Surprisingly, the unicorns took to Xellos just as quickly as he did to them and pretty soon, he got the whole crew to join in their games.
As darkness fell over the area, thinking that she might as well take a break of her own while her vessel's batteries, aka the crew, recharged, Zelas sat under a pale tree. A small black unicorn was curled up with her head on Zelas' lap. A few feet away, Xellos was in a sort of simulated sleep mode among a group of unicorns along with the rest of the crew, who rested their heads against the local fauna as if they were living pillows. They weren't as colorful as the unicorns in that show Xellos, Filia and Amelia liked so much, their colors limited to black, white, shades of gray, brown, tan, yellow and red, but Xellos was still tempted to steal one of them and dye it purple.
Silently, so as to not disturb the sleeping unicorns, humans, cyborgs and the sleep simulating hologram, Milgazia approached Zelas. "I thought you didn't like unicorns."
"I thought you'd stay unconscious for a few days," Zelas replied.
"I must thank the one who repaired my jetpack; the healer did a great job." Milgazia hinted at wanting more information.
"That's too bad," Zelas frowned as if disappointed. "I was hoping the job was only passable."
Milgazia decided not to inquire further from Zelas, he would find out more from someone else later. He considered going back to the Great Beast to rest, but he was still curious about the unicorns. If they were anything like the unicorns he had heard existed long ago in his world, before he was born, then they were certainly special. He considered dropping the subject, but there were too many questions floating around.
"Would you stop staring at me as if you're trying to read my mind? You know it's not going to work," Zelas finally spoke after a long silence.
"I know," he sat down next to her, which hinted that it was time for another diplomatic discussion, meaning that they would try to get information out of each other, while revealing as little as possible in exchange. Yet this time, she wasn't really trying to gather any information, nor did she consider it to be particularly important to keep anything a secret. "Shall we discuss future combat strategies?" Milgazia inquired.
Zelas rolled her eyes, "don't dance around the issue, you want to know what happened and why."
"Yes," Milgazia admitted. "Everyone seems to think you'd be too stubborn to tell them, so they haven't been asking much."
"I don't see how knowing the story would be of any benefit, though I don't think it would bring consequences either," Zelas stated truthfully. "I suppose there's no harm in telling you, or rather clarifying what you already know, as I'm sure you must have heard a version of the tale. Tell me, Milgazia, do you know how unicorns became extinct in our world?"
Milgazia paused for a long moment. It wasn't that he didn't remember the history lesson, he recalled it quite well. But observing Xellos' joyous behavior around the unicorns he was so strangely fond of, the golden dragon elder had found nothing but pure joy and a child-like bliss. Xellos wasn't being the trickster he was known to be, this was all real. Thus given what he had heard, it puzzled Milgazia. "According to the history recorded by the dragons, it was you who extinguished the unicorns years ago, before I was born."
"I'm going to pretend you didn't call me old just now," Zelas huffed. "Getting back into the topic at hand, yes, that would be what is recorded in dragon history, as expected, and it is indeed truth. I wouldn't be surprised if all the accounts in dragon literature about the event are indeed true. What the dragons witnessed from their perspective was exactly what was expected of a monster, thus they would indeed record the tales as they saw them. However, there were things that dragons did not witness, the other side of the story."
Milgazia blinked as he thought he saw something on Zelas' face. "That... Is that related to it somehow?" He traced a line with his index finger over his own right eye as if to indicate what he meant.
"Yes," Zelas almost absently mimicked the motion over her own right eye where a slightly angled vertical line went over it marking the skin above and below it as well as the eyelid, though the eye was undamaged.
"A scar over the eye, I've caught hints of it in your true form, but never saw it in your human form. I would logically think it is only part of your appearance, you were astral after all and you're digital now. Yet there is something unusual about it," Milgazia admitted.
"That's because it's a real scar, a mark I was not created with," Zelas revealed.
"How is that even possible? I thought that an astral being couldn't be scarred," Milgazia logically pointed out. Scars were things that belonged in physical forms, he would assume.
"Don't get your hopes up about learning any anti-monster fighting tactics," Zelas chuckled almost teasingly. "Only another astral being of greater power can do something like this."
Then the answer became obvious to Milgazia, "Shabranigdu."
"Yes," Zelas confirmed.
"But how does that relate to the unicorns and what happened during the fight with Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis?" Milgazia was still missing too many pieces to the puzzle to form a clear picture just yet.
"Impatient to know, aren't we?" Zelas closed her eyes for a moment, the line over her right eye becoming more defined. "This," she pointed at the scar, "only appears in my projection when I think about it, though it is a part of my true form. Its appearance in my projection is a sort of involuntary reaction to the thought of it, which I'm sure you must have noticed doesn't happen often. As for the origin... It all began with my own origin..." The appearance of her holographic projection changed, though the small black unicorn remained sleeping undisturbed. Though she was still easily recognizable, her clothing was not her usual elegant dress and she wore no jewelry, instead wrapped in furs one around her hips and another over her chest tied on the back. Her hair was messier and her figure had more muscle to it. A wolf tail peeked out from under the fur around her hips and rested beside her. Fur adorned the end of her elongated ears, her long manicured nails became unpainted claws and her fangs protuberated from the sides of her mouth as her eyes glowed. "This was the appearance of the Berserk Beast."
"This was your original projection," Milgazia realized. "And I take it you were called the Berserk Beast for a good reason."
"Naturally," Zelas changed her holographic projection back to her usual elegantly dressed slender form. "Let's review, shall we, Ceifeed's strongest followers are..." She purposefully trailed off into silence, allowing Milgazia to complete the sentence.
"Aqualord Ragradia, Firelord Vrabazard, Airlord Vailwin and Earthlord Rangort," Milgazia detailed.
"They all represent certain elements, pretty balanced aren't they? That's not surprising given that they were the minions of Ceifeed," Zelas concluded. "As for Shabranigdu, he had..." She paused again, like a teacher giving a student a pop quiz.
"Chaos Dragon Garv, Hellmaster Fibrizo, Dynast Grausherra, Deep Sea Dolphin and you, Beast Master Zelas Metallium," Milgazia listed off.
"You should have mentioned me first, but I'll let that slip. Each of the monster lords represents something," Zelas explained. "Chaos Dragon Garv, as the name suggests is a mockery to the orderly dragons. Hellmaster Fibrizo was all about death and the undead, that's something that living creatures fear. Dynast Grausherra was all about the war and the cold, while some people can find beauty in a cold winter and a sense of pride in war tales, put the two together and it's too much to take for most. Deep Sea Dolphin, as the name suggests, is all about the sea. Early in history, there were many legends about the terrors of the sea which have subsided in recent years after sailors have managed to plot standard routes and getting lost at sea became less of a possibility. Yet in the past, ignorance was common and the ocean was a very scary place for humans and the other living creatures of our world. As for me, I'm the beast, but certainly not a tame beast. I'm the fierce angry predator."
Though Milgazia already knew all those things, he listened with quiet attention, waiting for Zelas to reach the point in her story where she would reveal something new.
"Garv was full of unpredictable uncertainty, perhaps that's why he ended up fusing with his human side and gaining some of the qualities of the creatures that are quite chaotic in their own right," Zelas mused. "Fibrizo was always playful and child-like in appearance, the bratty little brother of our dysfunctional monster lord family as it were. Death can claim anyone, however young, and it is difficult to see it coming as it may appear harmless until it is too late. Dynast the cold warlord with his snowy mountain castle and armaments fitted his role quite well too. As did Dolphin, majestic and alluring to adventure and treasure seeking explorers, but in truth absolutely unforgiving and ever changing like the tides. Then there's the beast, a predator, wild. Garv's chaos came from the clash of his dragon properties with his monster properties, it wasn't randomness, there was a method to his madness and for his purposes to be accomplished, there had to be. But not for me; I'm the monster under the bed in a sense, the glowing eyes watching people in the dead of night. There was no method, only madness, I was wrath, I was wild instinct beyond reason, I was a berserker."
At that point Milgazia couldn't help it but to ask about such details. "In ancient dragon texts I recall that you have been called the Berserk Beast, but even after you started being called the Beast Master, the text made no effort to differentiate. I do understand that the Berserk Beast and Beast Master are both you, yet if you went from one to the other and if the change was as marked as it appears to be, I would think someone would mention something."
"If they didn't, I doubt it was by conscious omission," Zelas explained. "To the dragons I called myself Beast Master because I had eliminated the unicorns, the only beasts that they thought I did not have an affinity towards. Thus I had become the master of all the remaining beasts that I could influence in violence towards my own benefit. That was their logical conclusion from their observation and they were honest in their records if that is what they wrote, they simply did not know the other side of the story. Like Garv, I was a contradiction. He was a chaotic dragon and I am monster with an affinity towards living creatures. Beasts have a special instinct to survive and monsters an instinct to destroy. Usually that contradiction was reconciled by thinking that I would not allow anyone to destroy the world, except myself. Survival would be pursued in that sense, but also the goal that the monster race considered to be their purpose, as many still do. By now I've decided that I'm better off ruling the world."
"Going back to the story from back then," Zelas continued. "As you might have heard, unicorns have a calming property. They are gentle creatures that brought joy to human's hearts through the peace they inspired. Because of that, Shabranigdu hated them. Peculiarly, the unicorns were so gentle, that the soothing feeling they eradiated was not harmful to monsters. It was like a refreshing spring of water. Like water, the soothing energy did not have a taste, but it was none the less refreshing. I suppose the unicorns were creatures of neutrality, creatures that did not empower human emotions, but rather soothed their nerves and allowed their true feelings to be understood more clearly. For better or worse, humans tend to calm down when they have a grip on their situation, even if it's a bad situation. So strong is their thirst to understand everything around them. As neutral creatures, the unicorns also did not harm monsters, but rather helped soothed them into a sense of stability that medium ranked and above monsters might disregard, but was actually good for the lesser monsters to become more defined in terms of their persona, their most vital aspect that allowed them to exist. Of course, neither the humans nor the dragons really notice that. The unicorns were pleasant to them, thus they assumed they were unpleasant to monsters."
"One day," Zelas narrated. "Shabranigdu decided to eliminate the unicorns. I did not like them at the time and volunteered myself for the task. I thought I would enjoy hunting them down. Yet when I went to a valley filled with the creatures, I started seeing them as I saw the wolves and the jungle cats, they were my beasts. I didn't return to report to Shabranigdu and when some time passed, the other monster lords got curious and went to find me..."
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Many years ago, before the War of the Monster's Fall, Zelas sat on the grass covered ground at a spacious valley, surrounded by unicorns. Her appearance was somewhat wild, her hair spiky. Furs were tied around her athletic body and her wolf tail moved contently as she rested. A woman in a blue dress approached and inquired curiously, "what are you doing?"
"Zelas rests with her beasts." The Berserk Beast replied in her past manner of speech which referred to herself in third person.
"Your beasts?" Dolphin looked at her fellow monster lord in curiosity. "Do you not have enough with your wolves and jungle cats? Must you keep these horrid creatures as well?"
"Dolphin have pet too!" Zelas growled in argument.
"Yes, and my Leviathan is the only pet I need," Dolphin assured. "However, I do notice something different about you. Perhaps now that you growl and grunt less often than before I could turn you into a proper lady. Don't you realize that elegance enhances terror?"
"Zelas not believe that," she huffed.
"It's true! An alluring beauty can cause greater fear, as people fear the predator as well as their own inability to even try to escape," Dolphin insisted.
"Hey, you two, what's going on?" Garv's gruff voice demanded, appearing next to the two female monster lords with curiosity. "I thought you'd be done with your mission by now, Zelas."
"Unicorns my beasts now, mine!" Zelas growled threateningly.
"Cool it, shewolf, I'm not going to steal them or anything," Garv laughed heartily. "You and your fascination with keeping pets."
"You mean her fascination with keeping strange pets." Dynast commented as he teleported out of the astral side on time to hear what Garv said. "The jungle cats I can understand and even the wolves, as I keep a mountain lion as a pet myself. It's a curious creature, but I do feel that observing it is a beneficial activity in the need to understand living creatures. It is important for us to know the enemy after all."
"And I have my crocodile," Garv nodded.
"I don't have a pet." A pouting Fibrizo appeared and joined the conversation. "I wanted to get a human alchemist to make me a pet chimera. Something cool, like a three headed dog. I had the perfect name for it too, I was going to call it Cerberus, but Lord Shabranigdu doesn't want me dealing with humans so closely." He stomped his feet as if preparing to throw a temper tantrum, then stopped, with a crooked grin upon his face. Just as quickly as it came, the grin faded away to be replaced with a sweet childish expression. "Hey Zelas, can I help you with your mission?" Fibrizo asked in his best impression of a sweet little brother. "I can catch the unicorns and rip their horns off for you!"
Zelas roared, "no! My beasts! Mine!" She warned.
"You're so greedy!" Fibrizo complained.
To be Continued
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Episode 065: Combat! Every Battle Makes You Stronger
A long time ago, before the War of the Monster's Fall, one fateful day, the monster lords of Ruby Eyes Shabranigdu were gathered together in the valley of the unicorns. "These creatures aren't so bad," Dolphin unexpectedly observed. "They have a refreshing feeling to them, like the sea. Speaking of water, I'm parched; can anyone get me a drink?"
"You don't actually need water to live, it's all in your head," Dynast argued. "Anyway, I suppose these creatures really aren't so terrible. I could have my lancer minions ride on them, galloping fiercely to war, spear in hand. The horn does make them look better than plain old horses."
"Ha, I doubt they could be trained to be creatures of war," Garv laughed. "But you know, I'll bet the dragons won't be happy if we keep a bunch of them as pets because they and the elves really like these creatures."
"I want them!" Fibrizo pouted.
"Didn't you want to kill them just now?" Dynast pointed out.
"I do! I want them to be really mine and for that they have to be undead, they'll be more fun that way. I want them!" Fibrizo stomped his feet and yelled as he flailed his arms around in full on temper tantrum mode.
"Sheesh, you sound like the humans," Garv laughed at the irony. "They're fond of the unicorns one second and the next they're trying to kill them and drink their blood because of some weird rumor about that granting them immortality. I wonder if that's what they mean when they say hurt the ones you love. Strange creatures those humans are, aren't they? Fascinating even."
"Fascinating? That's a big word for you, Garv!" Dolphin teased with a giggle, to which Garv grunted in response.
"That's not the same thing!" Fibrizo pouted and glared.
"Oh, I see what you mean," Dynast nodded at Garv. "It is similar," he explained to Fibrizo. "You want to kill the unicorns because you want to keep them to yourself."
"It's like, destroy what you want to keep," Dolphin added with an amused laugh. "Well, you guys can have all the pets you want, but my Leviathan will always be the best!"
"Not have unicorns! All Unicorns mine! Zelas already claim all!" Zelas growled with insistence, causing Fibrizo's pout to become more pronounced upon his cutesy youthful face.
Garv huffed, "you think a goldfish is the best? Ha!" He mocked playfully.
The legends of Leviathan were formed around the sea serpent minions that served Dolphin, which were often called by that name by humans after they had heard it being spoken by the monsters of her dominion. However, no one ever knew that the original Leviathan was actually Deep Sea Dolphin's pet goldfish. The fish had a pact with its master, which allowed it to live as long as she did, provided that the pledge stone was not broken.
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At the present time, in the pastel colored little moon inhabited by unicorns, a thought occurred to Zelas as she narrated. "When we were taken away from our world, it is very likely that the pacts we had formed were broken. That's going to be quite a mess to sort out later and some inconveniences will never be repaired. Though from your point of view it's more like things are at last repaired."
"Of course," Milgazia assured, less monster pacts in the world was a good thing for dragons. "All of this is quite the story I must say."
"There are things that only us monster lords were aware of. I created Xellos at the start of the War of the Monster's Fall so he didn't witness any of this, but I have told him the stories before," Zelas revealed. "Anyway, it just occurred to me that Leviathan must be dead. Dolphin is going to throw a tantrum about it; she was going for a record for the longest monster pact maintained with a living creature. Even if it was just a fish and the record was already indisputably hers anyway."
"That's really too bad about her pet." Milgazia sounded sincere as the pact in that situation was harmless and he certainly didn't want to imagine how Dolphin would express her mourning in her own monster way. "I take it I should expect tidal waves?"
"In abundance," Zelas nodded.
"I will begin evacuating all coastal villages as soon as I return to our world," Milgazia sighed. "Now then, about the story, would you care to continue it?"
"Care no, but I will continue anyway," Zelas decided. "Shabranigdu eventually showed up and was most displeased to find his five main minions slacking off and playing around with the creatures they were supposed to destroy. He blamed it on me, as it had been my mission, that I myself had volunteered for. Plus I was the one claiming the unicorns as mine and wanting to keep them. Shabranigdu ordered me to destroy them and I defied him despite the difference in our power at the time." Zelas alluded to the fact that while Shabranigdu's power had diminished since then, hers had grown. "That's how I got that scar, it was an astral injury inflicted by Shabranigdu. Afterwards, I had no choice but to destroy the unicorns or I would be reabsorbed by Lord Ruby Eyes and recreated into an obedient servant, which I considered to be a fate worse than being ruined and permanently killed."
"So I exterminated them," Zelas concluded. "But of course, that little divergence was not something witnessed by the dragons, so from their point of view it never occurred. I looked the same for some time, despite the change in title I chose to show I was in control of my power, rather than being aimlessly driven by it. I chose my new appearance while I was bored one day during my first few months maintaining the monster barrier. Good thing I had my pets at Wolf Pack Island or I might have just died of boredom. I suppose it was the unicorns that influenced me into getting a firm grip on my power. It did not diminish though, all the opposite, I was still strong, but also I had become far more cunning. I suppose Xellos' special liking for unicorns is something I might have unconsciously passed on to him, a remembrance of sorts."
"You are indeed the most dangerous of evils," Milgazia concluded. This was quite a surprising story he had heard. One that no dragon had witnessed and thus could not have recorded or even dreamed of. "You are a necessary evil, and I don't just mean in the fight against Darkstar and for the sake of keeping the balance and preventing the Mother of All Things from destroying and recreating the world. You're cunning, but not all bad, the kind of evil that comes with benefits that can be hard to let go of. A fascinating mysterious evil, a great danger indeed." He frowned at the end of his speech, realizing something. "Shabranigdu's time ended long ago, but only now is someone taking his place. His fragments will continue to become weaker over time until he is no more, mere centuries from now, but you... You're becoming stronger."
"I'm so glad you noticed," Zelas grinned. "And though what you said might have sounded as a critique to the ears of most, I will take it as a compliment. I guess this means you'll take it upon yourself to be the opposing force in the equation of darkness and light?"
"Me?" Milgazia blinked incredulously.
"Ragradia is dead with only a shadow left behind," Zelas stated. "Valwin is not interested in the matters of this world and has become a hermit in the astral side. I've even passed him by and he barely gave me a second glance, as if the matters of this world did not concern him at all. His power has diminished, but he didn't seem to care. On that short meeting he said 'humans no longer need us' which reminds me of the words spoken by that old dragon before I came here. From his point of view, his job is done, humans and the other chaotic living creatures of the world can create their own balance, and with that mentality, in time he will fade away like a breeze."
"Rangort is asleep, deep within the main planet of our world," Zelas continued. "I discovered him while investigating about Gaia and the Green Alchemist over a year ago. Refusing to wake up, it is only a matter of time before he becomes petrified as part of the soil itself. Vrabazard became entranced by his adoring subjects, all which perished during the Darkstar incident, save for Filia, who had already resigned her official position in her clan. Vrabazard wanders aimlessly and will too fade with time as he was far too used to the life of being revered and adored, the life that died with the dragon clan that served him."
"So you knew..." Milgazia frowned in solemn seriousness. "The most guarded piece of information of the dragon race, you knew it all along."
"You were careful never to hint at it, I found this out on my own," Zelas admitted. "I had wondered if the higher ups kept this from you, yet you somehow seem to know the most out of all the dragons when it comes down to it. Thus I thought that you might know and I was right. It's odd, I want to destroy you, but at the same time, I don't. Maybe it is the human need for an opposition to face that's rubbed off on me over the years or maybe it's because I know there must be a semblance of balance between the darkness and light for the world to continue evolving and thus existing."
"I'm only a dragon," Milgazia stated. "I'm not a dragon lord, just a dragon... Yet maybe that will be my greatest strength in what lies ahead. That, and what I have learned from the humans. So even if I don't claim to be worthy, if a time comes when such a responsibility falls upon my shoulders, I will fulfill it to the best of my abilities."
A small silent pause passed, until Zelas broke it with laughter. "How dramatic!" She teased. "I would expect nothing less out of you, Milgazia. So this is the future of our world, the all powerful versus the underdog."
"Zelas..." with his golden eyes sharp, Milgazia made a daring statement. "It's not just me; it's the humans and the other living creatures, and their potential. The way I see it, with examples such as Lina Inverse, the playing field is quite even. I know you are far too prideful to acknowledge a rival unless you believe it is a worthy one and this time, I know you've done so. That's why you move cautiously, you want to keep Lina on your side, so to speak, or at least not as an open opposition."
"That's quite a bold statement," Zelas acknowledged. "You better hope you don't regret it."
"What about Luna? She'll help keep things balanced too." Milgazia pointed out.
"Yes, yes, all of you," Zelas disregarded, adding a foreboding note at the end, "if she is ever restored."
"Lina has not lost hope," Milgazia pointed it out as if it was a vital fact, and it was. "She's determined to save her sister and her parents."
Zelas mused on his words for a moment. "And when Lina Inverse is determined to do something, no matter how difficult or impossible it may appear to be, she'll find a way to get what she wants," the hologram concluded. "None the less, Luna has become accustomed to letting Lina handle things and more often than not she stands by, enjoying the simpler pleasures of life, such as serving tea." Zelas paused, slightly raising her hand for silence as she sensed an incoming transmission to the Great Beast, then she announced with anticipation. "It is time..."
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After everyone was ready to go, the crew exchanged their goodbyes with the Rockbells, and the Great Beast took off. Zelas, as before, wanted to go off on her own, yet that time, Lina had agreed. This was a personal matter that she wanted to solve with the resources of her world. Thus with Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos and Milgazia on board, Zelas took her vessel to once again venture into the depths of space with the vital information they had received less than an hour prior to their hasty departure. Raily had contacted Canal, who passed on the message containing information about Galveira's whereabouts. They hurried to their destination prepared for a fight.
When Galvaira appeared on the screen, the crew's uneasiness shone through. "Battle stations," Zelas simply commanded.
Lina stepped forward and focused. This was the moment of truth, she couldn't fail now. She sat at the captain's chair and closed her eyes, chanting quiet words under her whispered breath that would not create a spell in that world, but would none the less help her concentrate. Her psy-energy flowed out clearly, with rage and courage as if they were two separate streams. Not allowing them to mix too much was extremely difficult for Lina, but it would certainly make Zelas' part in the battle easier.
The dark lost ship found the rage to be soothing and the courage much easier to handle when she was coated in her own element, defending and attacking at once. Galveira charged forward with a barrage of missiles, not even bothering to open a communication link before initiating the battle. The Great Beast fought back, a multitude of missiles of her own colliding with the enemy projectiles and causing a light show of explosions in space. "Ready the main psy-canon!" Zelas commanded, as she guided her vessel in complex twists and turns in a deadly dance with Galveira.
"It's almost done loading for a maximum power hit!" Xellos happily informed, his eyes opened as Zelas allowed him to take control of the cannon while she focused on the engines and navigation.
"Xellos... Take my energy, digitalize it, encrypt it, and sent it as a message along with that shot." Lina requested, her appearance was serene on the outside, which hardly hinter at the inner storm she held.
"A message?" Xellos questioned. "I don't know what you're planning or if it'll work..."
"A message sent like that wouldn't work in these circumstances even if you were a psychic, which you are not." Zelas pointed out.
"It's alright, my energy will reach them, it will resonate with theirs. That is all I need," Lina insisted.
"Lina... I'll give you my energy too," Gourry offered.
"And mine," Amelia volunteered.
"Me too," agreed Zelgadis.
"Count me in," ascertained Filia.
"And I as well," Milgazia added.
"As a message..." Zelas mused. Her constant movements were starting to be felt inside the lost ship as there was only so much the outer shield and inner gravity controls could do for such a constant long period. It would turn into a very bumpy ride if they didn't progress soon. "I think I understand, but such an encryption will take a lot of system resources, as only the main AI of this vessel could have. Xellos, hold off on the main psy-canon attack and instead take over the maneuvers while I ready the energy."
"Yes, Lord Beast Master," not quite certain about what the plan was, Xellos did as he was instructed anyway. It seemed that for now, the crew was just trusting Lina and doing as she requested, but they had little idea of what her aim was, yet Zelas sounded like she knew. The Great Beast shook with the impact of enemy missiles. The Great Beast's own missiles had ran out and Xellos had nothing to counter the enemy missiles with except to try to dodge them.
When Zelas saw a clear shot to Galveira at nearly point blank, she took it without hesitation, "fire!" The energy wave of the psy-canon hit the target directly. As expected, Galveira brought out his shield of dark energy, pushing it to the limit, and something unexpected happened. Rather than reaching into it to try to encourage the prisoners to awaken and rebel against their captor again, the encrypted message of feelings of encouragement bounced back as if unable to reach its target, while the energy meant to serve as a weapon did its job well.
Lina's eyes shot open, her expression shocked for a few seconds before her grin became similar to the expression Zelas had on her face. "It looks like we're finally on the same page, thanks for allowing me this investigation."
"The result was not what was expected, but they are far more favorable," Zelas agreed.
"I don't understand..." Amelia voiced in confusion.
"I wanted to get my parents to help us from the inside, but instead I found out they're not there," Lina revealed. "I should have been able to sense them with my little experiment."
"Not there?" Gourry wondered in confusion. "Who's not there?"
"Lina's parents," Zelgadis replied.
"I would think not," Gourry mused aloud. "I mean, aren't they back in our world in Zephilia?" Leave it to Gourry to still be confused about the situation, even after all that had happened recently.
"If they're not there, then where are they?" Filia brought up a very valid question.
Lina looked at the hologram of the Great Beast's main AI with the question in her eyes. "Zelas?"
"By obtaining the black box of Galveira, that is to say, a device that records transmission information, we can pinpoint their location. What we do know is that they are not physically there inside Galveira. Their energy is being projected from afar. They could be with Ragudo Mezegis, with Darkstar, or in a hidden facility that sends their energy," Zelas theorized.
"We'll rescue them after we blow up Galveira. That black box thing should survive the blast, right?" The Great Beast shook violently just as Lina asked her question, which she didn't really expect a direct answer to, but thought would be an affirmative.
Alarms came on the screen and Zelas huffed in anger. "This vessel was built for speed and agility, its armor surpasses that of any other regular ship, but Galveira is more heavily armed... Of course, it's much slower than me and speed can create strength!" Zelas guided the Great Beast once more, leaving Xellos to perform supportive functions. She made the ship spin in place in a motion that Galveira found strange.
"The inner gravity stabilizers are at maximum!" Xellos announced. None the less, the crew was clinging to their seats, glad they had remembered to put on their seatbelts, because the gravity stabilizing mechanisms were not enough to keep the full motions isolated from their senses.
"I think I'm going to be sick!" Gourry complained.
"I'll take your energy of discomfort and use it to power my shield, but if you get sick in my control room, I'll kill you!" Zelas warned.
"Why are you doing this?" Filia's dizzy voice echoed from all the spinning.
"Isn't this like Xellos?" Zelgadis observed, remembering a time when Xellos took on his true form of a black cone and spun around, drilling into the enemy.
"I think you're right!" Amelia sounded more so excited than in discomfort. "Spin as fast as justice itself!"
Though the existence of a method to measure the speed of justice was questionable, Zelas was indeed spinning quite fast. "Classic," Xellos grinned. "The defenses are in place."
The aftershock of the waves of energy around Zelas as the Great Beast spun repelled the missiles and lasers from the perplexed Galveira, who didn't think the Great Beast had a trick such as this. "Who do you think taught Xellos all he knows?" Zelas chuckled as her vessel crashed into Galveira for an unexpected physical assault, which the dark shield of psy-energy was not enough to protect him from. Thus the lost ship that was once the bow of light was torn to pieces.
To be Continued
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Episode 063: Winry, granny Rockbell and the mentioned Edward and Alphonse are from Fullmetal Alchemist. Capsule Corp. is from Dragon Ball Z and Shinra Inc. is from Final Fantasy VII.
Episode 064: Zelas' look as the Berserk Beast is partially based on Ayla from Chrono Trigger.