Episode 071: Partition! A Legend To Be Feared
After the new android body for Gorun Nova was built, he was successfully transferred into it. "It looks like things are working so far. What about my power as a lost ship? It is in my old vessel, but how will you take it?"
"Xellos can take over your old empty vessel and get everyone through the portal, since that ship is smaller than the Great Beast," Zelas explained. "If he doesn't become detached from it, he will automatically absorb its power, like a chimera, except since he's a monster, it'll be pure energy that he's receiving rather than matter that would affect a physical form, as such a burden wouldn't be present. Xellos' will then receive your power and be able to transfer it to me when he returns and rejoins me in the Great Beast."
"Sounds like everything is set up to go," Lina concluded. "Let's switch ship so Xellos can take us home on Gorun Nova's old vessel. Let's make this little visit count to do anything we might have in mind. We'll be back here in the over-world soon and we can't afford to have any distractions even in the back of our minds when we face Darkstar."
Thus the crew switched ships, with Xellos serving as the AI to Gorun Nova's old vessel. Zelgadis removed his armor, leaving it in the Great Beast in case he needed to temporarily use it later. Thus Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Gorun Nova, Milgazia, Onyx, Light, Labyrinthine and Luna crossed through the portal on their way back to their world.
Zelas watched as the previous vessel of Gorun Nova, now controlled by Xellos, disappeared into the portal. Her instinct gave her a bad feeling, which she theorized was about the current situation of her world. Yet there was more to it than that. Suddenly, she thought it was a bad idea to be there on her own, but why? The minions of Darkstar had been defeated and Darkstar himself had remained in a static location, focusing his energy in cracking Canal's protection program on Dolphin and Dynast. It was a program that Zelas herself no longer needed, as her own mental defenses had been built up through her experiences in the over-world enough to resist Darkstar's mental assaults. Though that didn't mean a victory against him was assured, she still had to consider the physical combat in the situation.
A feeling akin to a cold chill overtook Zelas. She was a fierce monster lord and now a powerful lost ship. She couldn't be afraid, she had faced near ruin and destruction many times already and had dodged death by a hair often enough lately to know that a battle wasn't over until it was over, no matter how hopeless it may seem. She had come a long way since her arrival at the over-world. She focused on a near by planet and tried to sense the energy of the people there. She called upon the hidden power that she heard that saiyan prince mention as something legendary and unreal. She could feel their energy and with a small tug, she began to absorb it. 'So I can do this if I focus enough. I could wipe out all the life forms in this planet from this distance if I wanted. They would notice if I take too much energy, but I could overpower them. If I weaken them, they will start to fear when the inexplicable exhaustion settles in and their energy will be that much more delicious.'
Zelas' train of thought was interrupted again. She felt danger and it was close, but her radars were not picking up anything out of the ordinary. She stopped focusing on the planet and left its energy alone for the time being. Instead she tried to sense the energy around her. She focused on her instincts as a beast and felt it more clearly. There was danger; there was mortal danger, but what? Then she realized it. "Darkstar!" He was no longer in a static position. He must have detected that Bodigar, Nezard, Galveira and Ragudo Mezegis were destroyed. Now Gorun Nova's lost ship vessel had left the over-world, thus Darkstar might have assumed that it signified his destruction. With no minions left to serve him, he must have gotten concerned about Zelas' growing power. She couldn't win against Darkstar alone.
As much as Zelas hated to admit it, she needed her crew to lend her power and to team up with the Swordbreaker. Yet she couldn't communicate with Xellos due to the interference in the portal. As for Canal, even if Zelas managed to get a hold of her in a long distance call, was surely too far away to make it there before Darkstar even if she made several light speed jumps. 'I have to outrun him, but I can't, as massive as Dugradigdu is, he's still faster than the Great Beast. All this moving around is taking resources away from the task of breaking into Dolphin and Dynast's core programming, but even while doing that, Darkstar is still too strong. He's got me in his radars already, I know it, running away will be useless. Dark energy won't work on him and I can't produce a big enough blast of courage to damage him in my own, when he has both Dolphin and Dynast' fear to counteract it.'
Zelas pushed her processing speed to maximum as she started to feel the waves of energy that signified that something massive was about to emerge from a light speed jump. She couldn't take on Darkstar on her own, but running away was useless and she couldn't fit through the portal to her world either. 'Divide and conquer...' she thought bitterly. She considered squeezing in through the portal, but knew it would be useless. 'There's no way I can fit through there unless I'm in pieces.' That thought actually gave her an idea. 'Pieces...'
The massive structure of Dugradigdu finally emerged from his light speed jump in front of Zelas. She remained still and unafraid, refusing to bow down to her enemy. "So we meet again, Beast Master Zelas Metallium. That portal behind you, now it makes sense, that's where your crew went, isn't it? It's a pity the portal is much too small for you. You have nowhere to run."
"I do not fear you, Darkstar, I will win," Zelas assured. Her last desperate plan had already been set in motion.
Darkstar laughed long and loud with mocking cruelty. "You will win you say? How can you? You won't even be able to scratch Dugradigdu's paint job.
Zelas could feel every circuit in her vessel heating up, but the inner system alarms didn't go off. Somehow, she was handling it. 'Maybe this is akin to what humans call a rush of adrenaline. My processing speed will certainly be enough now. It looks like I'm ready sooner than I thought.' She grinned with the look of a victorious challenge. "You cannot destroy me, Darkstar of the Stillness. Your minions have tried to strike me down before, but I only came back stronger each time. I dare you to tare me to pieces if you have the strength!" Zelas closed the communication channel, blocked all communication links and activated the program she had been working on.
"You'll regret your insolence!" Darkstar yelled, though Zelas could no longer hear him. He prepared to shoot his powerful laser weaponry, which easily cut through the Great Beast, leaving her in pieces. Darkstar didn't realize that Zelas could produce her own psy-energy and assumed that her lack of shield was due to not being able to project one and knowing that regular energy would be a waste. "This was too easy. All that talk for nothing, I guess you must have lost your mind." Before the power left in the dying lost ship was gone, Darkstar intended to absorb it for himself. However, before Darkstar, who had gotten confident in his victory and lowered his guard could take the pieces of the Great Beast into himself, the portal sucked them in. "What? Why?" He didn't understand what had happened, but assumed it was a random reaction and nothing more. Besides, even if the remains of the Great Beast were being called to the other side, she was already too close to dying to make it there alive as far as Darkstar knew. "Her power was wasted, but it doesn't matter, I still have the other two and this one is out of the way. Canal, you're next..."
Inside the portal, the programming Zelas had left in automatic finished its job. After Gorun Nova join their side, he passed on the software that controlled the microchips in the portal to her and she was able to set them up to make the portal suck in the broken pieces of her vessel. Darkstar was too large, so even if the portal tugged at him to follow, he wouldn't fit through. Yet Zelas was still in pieces and her energy was fading away fast.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Xellos guided Gorun Nova in the space between the worlds. "Get ready everyone!" The lost ship glowed and began to fade. "This ship is going to turn into my energy which I'll absorb. I can keep pushing us the rest of the way through, but you'll have to hold your breath. When we emerge on the other side, the dragons can ensure a safe landing." He stopped in the middle of his explanation, blocking out the sounds of the others' voices as they commented on the plan. "We're going back," Xellos suddenly announced with a seriousness that was unlike him. He went on a full reverse with Gorun Nova's lost ship vessel becoming more solid again as it drew closer to the over-world once more.
"What happened? Did the energy conversion fail somehow?" The android Gorun Nova inquired. He looked like his original knightly projection.
"The problem isn't with us, it's Beast Master. I feel that she's in danger." Xellos revealed with worry. "I can't explain it, but I can sense her, only barely. She's here, she's in the portal's tunnel, but I don't know how. The portal isn't any bigger, she shouldn't fit through. Her energy is fading!"
"Did she get attacked after we left?" Amelia worried.
"We shouldn't have assumed that Darkstar would remain in a static position," Milgazia concluded with frustration. He could think of no other enemy that could stand up to the Great Beast.
Xellos finally arrived where the pieces of the Great Beast were. "Lord Beast Master!" He cried out in a panic. "She's in pieces; she has been destroyed, ruined!"
"Xellos, calm down!" Filia urged. "Didn't you say you could still sense her energy? If that is so, then she's not dead."
"Yes, yes, she's alive!" Xellos extended several cables from the lost ship that used to be Gorun Nova's towards the Great Beast' pieces. The cables wrapped themselves around the larger parts, with the smaller ones being carried by the tractor beam. "I can't repair her fast enough to save her. All I can do is take her to our world and hope her change in shape to an astral being is enough to save her." Without a split second to lose, Xellos headed back to his original world with the dying remains of Beast Master in tow.
xoxox xox xoxox
The arrival in the Slayers' world was full of tension. As expected, Gorun Nova's old vessel turned into energy that was absorbed by Xellos. He tried to wrap his own energy around Zelas to keep her as stable as possible while her physical vessel recovered its purely astral form. The group reappeared in the skies over the Elmekia desert, in the center of which there was a very deep crater caused by the effects of their battle with Gorun Nova earlier. As the group fell, with a flash of golden light, Milgazia transformed in mid air and caught them safely on his back.
The golden dragon elder landed on the desert sands next to the large hole and they all watched as six dark lights descended from the sky below the portal. One of them took the shape of a black cone, then Xellos. Another dark light took on the form of a sea monster, then Deep Sea Dolphin. The other remaining four dark lights gained the silhouette of four small winged wolves, then different versions of Zelas. "Lord Beast Master!" Xellos panicked. A piece of a monster could never be the same as the original. Had Zelas been torn apart like Shabranigdu had?
Three of the four Zelas faded away, teleporting through the astral side without offering any explanations for their actions. The one that remained had the least amount of power out of the four, but she seemed to be the most familiar with Xellos. "Wipe that panicked and sorrowful look off your face, Xellos. My one and only general priest shouldn't be making such a forlorn expression, it doesn't fit you."
"Lord Beast Master!" Xellos cheered in recognition of his mother's true persona being intact. He threw his arms around her in a big bear hug.
"Filia and her strange rituals are rubbing off on you." Zelas calmly made Xellos straighten his posture as they lost altitude and gracefully landed on the sandy grounds of the Elmekia desert near the rest of the group. She patted his head, messing up his hair slightly. "Dynast would laugh at us if they saw us now, Dolphin too if she wasn't so scared of you killing her for it. They'd laugh at you for hugging me like a mortal child and at me for not punishing you for it."
"But you did punish me," Xellos pointed at his messed up hair, then proceeded to smooth it out, only to have Zelas ruffle it out of place again.
"I guess I did," Zelas chuckled.
"As much as I hate to interrupt the mother and son reunion, I need to ask, what in the worlds happened back there?" Lina inquired with great urgency.
"I'm pretty confused about it myself," Deep Sea Dolphin admitted. "One minute I was being held prisoner by Darkstar and the next I was here." She frowned at her lack of power. "What happened to all my power? And yours is gone too, Zelas, if you are even the same Zelas. How is it that you're in four pieces but you don't seem to be ruined?"
"Ruin, the death of a monster, the destruction of their persona," Zelas began to explain. "That is what happens when a monster's persona is torn apart, but I was not torn apart. Using the technology of the over world, I created partitions in my system that clung to the circuitry of the physical pieces of my ship. They were very small partitions in case Darkstar blew my vessel into tiny pieces. There were four larger parts after the Great Beast's destruction and thus the partitions on each part fused together. That is why there are four of us. I was actually the largest part in terms of system resources."
"Then why do you have the least amount of power?" Dolphin asked impatiently. Everything was very confusing and she didn't like the feeling. Her captivity was unpleasant enough. To be rescued was a great relief, but without power, she wondered if she would last long.
"I'm getting to that," Zelas continued her explanation. "My power is in three pieces, I have divided it from my persona for the purpose of keeping my persona whole. I am memories, personality, everything that Beast Master is. Yet power alone can't exist without something to keep it focused or else it would disperse. The pieces of my power took on several aspects of me. Xellos, you did well on bringing me here. I set things up so that the portal would absorb the pieces of my ship. I couldn't communicate with you, but I knew your instinct would guide you to find me. I know I couldn't have been repaired as a lost ship, but becoming astral again has stabilized me somewhat. Because I was divided systematically rather than torn apart, I can be put back together. From this side, all it should take is a little fusion magic... provided that we can capture the rampant power that's on the loose. But I'm sure we can manage."
Dolphin was staring in disbelief and amazement. "I must have missed out on a lot during my captivity. You were torn apart and you didn't get ruined. Has any monster ever truly survived something like this before without losing their original persona?"
Zelas chuckled as if laughing at her own misfortune. "Dolphin, I was forcefully summoned to another world. I was nearly destroyed and had to endure being rescued by a lord of light. I was nearly destroyed on several more occasions and I was forced to rely on my crew until I could learn to fight for myself. Again I was nearly destroyed; I had to handle positive energy coursing through me while trying to keep myself from being destroyed. I had to use dark energy to defend while at the same time attacking with positive energy, which I don't even have to point out to you that is painful for someone of our kind. And guess what? I was nearly destroyed yet again, I endured having a breakable physical form and having it constantly being broken after every close call in every desperate fight, and you think I'm going to get ruined? Ha! If I haven't lost myself yet, then a little thing like being torn to pieces won't defeat me."
Dolphin just stood there staring with her mouth hanging open. "Wow, and I thought I had it bad. Having Darkstar constantly trying to pry into my mind while being protected by a strange yet fading power that I don't understand was bad, but it sounds like you got roughed up worse than a human who got on the bad side of a mafia boss."
"A very eloquent way to put it," Zelas commented. "My point is that I've gotten back up from so many falls by now that tripping on this rocky road doesn't even surprise me anymore. I'll pull myself back together, then I'll go fight Darkstar and get trashed to an inch of death again. I know it will not be an easy victory, but I will win, then I'll pull myself together again and finally take a vacation."
"You're pretty tough, you always have been. Speaking of tough, where is my power, you haven't explained that yet," Dolphin pointed out with lost hopes.
"Darkstar has it," Zelas revealed. "Don't worry, it is still contained and protected by the same program that was protecting you, so he has not absorbed it yet. I did to you, what I did to myself. I partitioned you so that you could be taken apart without being torn. I managed to hack into Dugradigdu's systems while Darkstar was busy doing his evil mocking laughter, which doesn't hold a candle to my evil laugh, by the way. I was going to do the same for Dynast, but I ran out of time, so he is still with Dugradigdu. Since Darkstar only wanted your power and was going to destroy your persona, I doubt he would see this as a big loss, although I'm sure he'll be angry that I managed to hack him a little, even if I didn't have time to do much."
To be Continued