El Hazard:

Ultimate Weapons

By D.G.

Disclaimer: El Hazard is property of Pioneer and AIC.

This story takes place in the Wanderers continuity.


PART ONE: Plans and Consequences

It had all been going according to plan.

Actually, to be more exact, it was all going according to HIS plan: His beautiful, perfectly realized, magnificently complicated plan. It was a plan so devilish in its intricacy that the demons of hell themselves would have tipped their glasses to him in appreciation of its pure evil brilliance. The plan was perfect.

All the pieces were in place, all the players at their assigned seats. Every measure was accounted for, every possible complication plotted out and fixed. Troop movements were mapped out, traps were laid, alternate paths blocked, and enemy deployment predicted. Nothing was left to chance. Nothing.

Unfortunately, it was not chance that ruined his perfectly realized, magnificently complex plan. The destroyer of the impossibly intricate, took-so-many-hours-to-formulate plan was none other than his so-called Ultimate Weapon. She, who was supposed to remain in the background as an emergency countermeasure, instead somehow wound up becoming the instrument of his gloriously malevolent plan's doom.

His trump card, in effect, had ruined his deck.

"IDIOT!" shouted the brilliant strategist responsible for the Perfect Plan. Katsuhiko Jinnai paced the throne room of the Bugrom hive, his pale face twisted into a mask of indescribable fury. His usually trim clothing was sloppy and disheveled, his finely combed hair a haggard mess. "Idiot idiot IDIOT!"

The target of his venom merely sat still on the floor, nervously awaiting her punishment. She flinched now and then whenever her master's voice rose above certain decibel levels. "I'm sorry!" stated the destroyer of the Perfect Plan. "I'm really really sorry, Master!"

"Shut up! I do NOT want to hear it!" Jinnai continued his agitated pacing across the carpeted front of the throne room, directing fierce glares at his less than useful Demon God. "That plan was perfect! Perfect I tell you! It shouldn't have failed, there was NO WAY IT COULD HAVE FAILED!" Jinnai finished the statement by stamping his foot repeatedly.

Ifurita flinched at the display, getting very nervous about what the furious young man had in store for her. She opened her mouth to apologize once more, but thought better of it once she saw the frenzied look on her master's face.

Jinnai gritted his teeth and leaned down, until his face was within inches of his servant's. "I spent seven months devising that plan. Seven months!" His voice was soft at first, but began to increase in volume as the speech continued. "Seven, long, agonizing months without much sleep or food. Seven months of research, of investigation, of analyzing and intelligence gathering! Seven months of NOT GOING TO THE BATHROOM!"

Ifurita cringed, as her master was once more screaming at the top of his lungs. Only this time it was worse, since he was now directly in her face. He also tended to spit a lot whenever he vented.

"Seven months, Ifurita! Seven months! Do you know how hellish that was?"

The Demon God began to nod her head, but quickly shook it when Jinnai's eyes narrowed.

"Seven months." Jinnai sighed. "Seven months down the drain!" He shook his head sadly and stood up, placing a hand to his aching temples. The long months of planning had finally caught up with him, and he felt extremely exhausted. "Get out of my sight," he said softly.

"Um," Ifurita became puzzled at her master's strange tone of voice. "But what about my punishment?"

"What's the use?" Jinnai's shoulders slumped down in a defeated fashion. "Just go."

"Uh, sure! Thanks a lot, Master! You're the best!" The perky Demon God bounced up onto her feet and flew out the room, greatly relieved at escaping one of Jinnai's devilish punishments. She suddenly stopped outside the door to the throne room, as she remembered the depressed state her master had gone into. "Oh dear, poor Master. He worked so hard, and for nothing." Her eyes grew watery as the guilt built up within her. She knew that the Plan's failure was her fault, and felt absolutely awful about it. "I know! I'll go out and do something nice for him! Maybe a delicious hot meal will cheer him up." Ifurita smiled sweetly and flew off, intent on pushing Jinnai out of his funk.

In the capital city of Florestica, four friends sat gathered around a small table in the back of Nanami's restaurant. Each of the four was in an agitated mood, as they had just been fighting for their lives not more than a few hours ago.

"Damn the nerve of that guy," said the red-haired Priestess of Fire. Shayla took a quick slurp of her tea, before continuing with her venting. "Attacking us during Miz's wedding of all days! I'd really love to get my hands on him!"

"You and me both," replied Nanami. She waved to a nearby waitress to refill her friends' glasses. Thankfully, as this was her restaurant, she could have as much of the beverage as she wanted. "I swear my brother is really such a creep! I don't know where he gets it from, both my parents are fine. Maybe some long lost distant crazy relative?"

"Well, you gotta admit. He almost had us that time," said a very weary Makoto. He had a small scratch on his cheek, the result of a near miss with a Bugrom.

"I'll say," Afura Mann was the most severely injured of the four. The Wind Priestess was currently sporting a cast on her right arm, which had been broken while fighting Jinnai's legions. "He came out of nowhere! I still don't know how he managed to hide all those Bugrom in such a small church. If it wasn't for that ditzy Demon God of his, we would have been finished."

"Yeah, poor Ifurita." The three women surrounding Makoto gave the boy a withering look, causing him to spill his tea a bit. "Err, I mean... I'm just worried about what Jinnai will do to her, for ruining his plan like that. I feel sorry for her, that's all." Deciding that a discreet change of subject would help alleviate tensions, Makoto interjected with, "How's Miz taking it, by the way?"

Afura sighed. "She's been crying her eyes out all day. I've tried to get her to stop and come out of her room, but she refuses to budge. Masamichi is with her now."

"Aw, poor thing," sniffed Nanami. "Katsuhiko's gonna pay big time for this!"

"Damn straight!" agreed Shayla. She punched a fist into her palm and smirked evilly. "Next time I see that punk, I'm gonna fry his scrawny ass to dust!"

Before more violent promises directed at Jinnai could occur, the familiar figure of Dr. Schtalabaugh entered the establishment. The short old man looked around a bit before spotting the group at the back table. "Oh, there you are, Makoto!" cried out the scientist in relief. "I bring the most wonderful news!"

"News? What of?" asked a puzzled Makoto.

The doctor pulled a withered old book from his robes and handed it to the boy. The tome was ancient, one of the oldest Makoto had ever seen. The hardened leather of its cover was almost rotted to nothing, and the pages within were beyond yellowed. Each page felt like a dry, shriveled leaf.

"That book is a copy of the original Makoli Accounts," stated Schtalabaugh gleefully. "I just bought it at the market from a passing tribesman! It's the find of the century! I'm afraid the poor man who sold it to me had no idea whatsoever of its value."

"Hold on a sec, the Makoli Accounts?" Makoto was a bit confused as to how such an old book, which wasn't even an original, could be so valuable.

"Oh, sorry. The Makoli Accounts were the ledgers of a man named Ghasta Makoli," the doctor plopped himself onto the seat next to Makoto, which just happened to have been Nanami's. At his friend's annoyed look, Makoto gave her a placating smile asking her to humor the old man. "Makoli was a scholar back in the Ancient Times of El Hazard. He lived roughly four thousand years ago, and served at the court of one of the most powerful nations of the time. It was his duty to record information on all the scientific wonders of that nation. He even wrote down descriptions, functional statistics, and the locations of their storage."

"You mean it's some dopey accountant's tally book?" asked Shayla. "Bo-ring!"

"Come now, Ms. Shayla, please!" Schtalabaugh patted the book in Makoto's hand while frowning at the Fire Priestess. "The Makoli Accounts were far beyond mere tally books! They were records of the Ancients' secrets! Their vehicles, their medicines, their weapons! All of them were recorded in the Accounts!"

Afura frowned and rubbed her chin. "That is indeed a very impressive book you have there. Have you read it yet?"

"Yes. But unfortunately, the copy is so old and worn that almost all the pages have been left blank by age." Everyone around the table fell flat on their faces.

"As I said: BO-ring," Shayla rolled her eyes as she climbed back onto her seat.

"Wait a minute," Makoto picked up the book and began flipping through the pages. "You said almost all. Are there some pages that are still intact?"

"Yes!" Schtalabaugh laughed and took the book back. "That's what I came here to tell you! Several pages remain readable, but one in particular is remarkably interesting!" He handed the book back to the young man, this time opened to a faded but still readable page.

Makoto glanced at it for a moment before passing the book back to the doctor. "Sorry, Doctor, but it's in a dialect I don't understand."

Schtalabaugh laughed and shook his head. "Oh, yes, that's right! How silly of me, I forgot. Well, let me translate," The old man cleared his throat before beginning to read. "Beneath the mighty fallen lake, inside the crystal caves of Yaard, lies one of the beasts of unholy flame, enchained within the dark black tomb. Its power sleeps for now, hopefully for all Eternity, but the hearts of men are fickle things, and from slumber it may yet be roused. Woe to him who awakens such a power, for only in great peril must the Demon God stir."

"Demon God?" said Makoto and Shayla at the same time.

"There's another one?" asked Afura in shock.

Schtalabaugh nodded. "There seems to be. Perhaps the Ancients made more than one of these Ultimate Weapons of Destruction? Perhaps another nation, one competing against the country which made Ifurita, decided to even out their odds by constructing their own Demon God?"

"Huh, more like they built another one to replace that defective reject," muttered Shayla. Nanami giggled.

"Huh, another Demon God," Makoto muttered under his breath. "I wonder if this one's like Ifurita at all?"

"I'd be more worried if it wasn't," remarked Afura in a serious tone. "Ifurita, an idiot though she may be, is still an extremely powerful being. If it weren't for her quirks, she'd be an unstoppable adversary. What if this Demon God you speak of isn't as agreeable as she is?"

The group exchanged a worried look around the table. If someone did manage to awaken this Demon God, it could prove disastrous. All eyes quickly fell to the book in Dr. Schtalabaugh's hands, and the potential for danger it held.

"I say we burn it," said Shayla.

"Wh-WHAT? You can't!" Schtalabaugh clutched the old book to his chest, his eyes bulging out in shock at such a proposition. "This is a priceless piece of history! Plus I paid eighty Roshtals for it!"

"Don't care," Shayla stood up and smirked evilly at the old scientist. "Hand it over, old man. It's going on the woodpile!"

"No! It's mine!" cried Schtalabaugh.

"Shayla, stop it!" interjected Makoto. He stood up and placed a hand on the priestess's shoulder. "We need to stay calm."

"Damn it, Makoto! That book tells the location of a Demon God! So far we're the only ones who know about it, but that may change! If some nut gets a hold of that book, we're goners!"

"Look, destroying it won't help," said Makoto. "Besides, like you said, we're the only ones who know about it. If we keep it a secret and lock up the book at the Palace Library, then there's no danger, right?"

Just then, a loud crash directed everyone's attention to the partition leading out of the back dining area. Everyone jumped up in shock when they saw the Demon God Ifurita standing by the doorway, vainly attempting to clean up a potted plant she had just knocked over.

"You!" shouted Afura. "What are you doing here?"

"Um, hi!" Ifurita smiled nervously. "D-don't mind me! I'm just here to pick up some take-out. Heh heh heh..."

"Grrr, how much did you overhear?!" shouted Shayla. A bright red glow began to surround her body.

"Oh, not much, heh," Ifurita backed up from the enraged priestess slowly, one hand holding her Key Staff while the other clutched a bag of Nanami's food. "Just something about accounting books, falling lakes, crystal caves, and Demon Gods. Nothing too important, I think."

"Damn it! She heard everything!" Shayla powered up her Lamp of Fire, causing bright gouts of flame to enshroud her. "If we let her go, she'll tell that creep Jinnai! I can't let that happen!" She quickly leapt forwards, her Lamp increasing her speed and power. "PREPARE TO DIE!"

"Shayla, wait!" shouted Makoto.

"Oh no!" cried Ifurita.

"Don't fight in my restaurant!" wailed Nanami.

The streets of Floristica became chaos itself as a very angry Shayla-Shayla chased a very frightened Demon Goddess through the city. The two currently passed the busy marketplace, eliciting screams of worry from the throngs of afternoon shoppers.

"Get back here you!" Shouted Shayla as she hurled a fireball at the fleeing Demon God. Ifurita dodged the flaming orb, which sailed through the air and slammed against the side of a warehouse. The building exploded some seconds later, the large structure reduced to nothing but rubble. The multitude of innocent by-standers ran for their lives, dodging the falling debris and flames.

"Really, I'm not kidding! I don't have time for this, I have to get back to the Master before his stew gets cold!" Ifurita dodged the priestess's multiple blasts of fire. People desperately fled the area as flames seemingly fell from the sky.

"Shayla! Stop it!" shouted Afura. She and the others, minus a sobbing Nanami who had stayed behind at the remains of her restaurant, had run after the priestess in the vain hopes of preventing mass destruction.

"Oh dear me!" cried out Dr. Schtalabaugh as he beheld the smoking ruins of the marketplace.

"Oh man, Londs is gonna throw a fit when he sees this!" said Makoto.

"Shayla, you idiot," muttered the Wind Priestess. She looked forlornly down at her Lamp of Wind, which was fastened onto her injured right arm. "If it wasn't for this stupid injury, I could just cast a wind tunnel around those two fools."

Another explosion rocked the city, as one of Shayla's attacks seemed to have caused a tall tower to topple over. The group of three stopped in their tracks as gouts of dust flooded the street. They coughed and choked on the thick powder before Afura used her restricted powers to blow most of the filth away.

"Makoto! Mistress Afura! Doctor!" Londs' voice caused the three to turn around. They saw the slightly panicked Advisor lead a team of worried looking guards towards them. "What is going on? What is all this chaos?"

Makoto sighed and slumped his shoulders. "Oh, nothing. Just Shayla and the Demon God Ifurita duking it out."

"Dear God! Right here in the capital city?" Londs frowned gravely at the three's rather reluctant nod.

Just then the two combating figures suddenly circled around, bringing their path of destruction back towards the assembled group. Many of the soldiers panicked as the two women approached, since Shayla didn't seem to be stopping her destructive attacks.

"Shayla, damn it! STOP!" shouted Afura.

One of the priestess's flames came extremely close to singing Ifurita, causing the Demon God to frown. "Okay, I've tried being nice, but I'm afraid you leave me with no choice! I'm gonna have to hurt you now, and I want you to know that I'm really REALLY sorry for what I'm about to do to you."

"Shut up and DIE!" screamed Shayla. She formed a massive fireball in her hands, one that was easily the size of a small hut. With a manic grin the priestess screamed before hurling it towards the Demon God.

Ifurita stopped in mid air and turned around to face the incoming attack. She hovered above the street calmly, seemingly unworried at the approaching ball of flames. Just as the orb was about to crash into her small form, she lashed her Key Staff forwards. The weapon smashed right into the fireball's side, batting it away like a large baseball. It sailed through the air, flying far into the distance, where it crashed into the dense woodlands surrounding Florestica. The ball exploded into an expanding blanket of flame, engulfing the trees and shrubs. The fire spread quickly outwards, a veritable wall of red that began to swell as it swallowed up the vegetation around it.

"Great," muttered Afura with a sigh. "Miz and her acolytes are going to have a very difficult time putting that out." She began rubbing at her aching temples with her good hand.

"Damn you!" shouted Shayla to her opponent. She readied herself for another attack against the Demon God.

"I warned you!" said Ifurita. "Now, let's end this! Maybe this'll cool you down!" She lifted her staff high into the air and shouted, "Ice, heed my call!"

The water vapor around the Demon God quickly froze, crystallizing into numerous shards of ice floating in the air. They continued to form until each was about half a meter long, with a vicious spike at both ends. Shayla flinched upon seeing the floating splinters of frozen water vapor, and began to back up in worry.

"Go!" shouted Ifurita. She pointed her staff towards the Fire Priestess, and as if heeding her call, the ice shards around her shot towards the figure below. The various sized projectiles rained down on Shayla, who did her best to dodge each piece.

"Shayla!" Afura quickly used what little power she had left and sent a strong gust of wind towards the falling ice, knocking many away from Shayla's direction.

Unfortunately some got past the wind burst and fell towards the Fire Priestess. Using her better than average agility, she managed to avoid most of them, but two neatly slashed across her shoulder and left thigh, causing deep gashes in her flesh. Shayla stifled a scream and went down, blood flowing freely from the wounds.

"No, Shayla!" shouted Makoto. He and Afura rushed forwards and kneeled next to their hurt friend. Makoto took out a handkerchief and pressed it to Shayla's shoulder, intent on stopping the bleeding. He was very worried when the cloth was soaked in red within seconds.

Ifurita floated to the ground, landing softly on the dust-covered street. She coldly eyed the three before her, a tight frown covering her usually cheery face. "Now then..." She raised her staff and aimed its head at the fallen Fire Priestess.

"Back off!" shouted Afura. She leapt in front of Shayla and raised her broken arm. A small flow of wind circled around her, but suddenly stopped as a shot of pain pulsed from the injured arm. Afura clutched at the hurt limb and groaned, the power fading in her Lamp. "Damn!" She cried out. A deep feeling of shame rose within her, resulting from her current inability to aid her friends.

"Afura..." Shayla muttered between gasps of pain.

A spark of electricity flared from Ifurita's staff, causing the people around her to gasp. The energy began to rise, causing the spherical gems at the head of the staff to glow a dark blue. A fell wind blew through the ruined street, extinguishing the numerous flames burning in the marketplace as well as chilling everyone to the bone. A shadow passed over the city as dark clouds formed overhead, blocking the sun's rays. The spark from Ifurita's staff continued to grow until it reached the size of Shayla's earlier fireball. Everything was lit up in tints of blue, as the destructive power of the Demon God built up.

"Oh no!" Londs staggered backwards in fear, as did his guards.

"Ifurita, don't!" shouted Makoto.

Just then, the spark blinked out of existence. The street corner they were in was once again quiet, the sun returning as the clouds above parted. Everything was still and silent and no sound could be heard, except of course for the sound of a very large forest fire still burning out of control outside the city.

Ifurita stood silently with her staff still held out, eyes wide in shock. She quickly pulled back her weapon and gasped in worry. "Oh no! I got so carried away fighting you guys that I forgot about Master's stew! Ack! I hope it isn't cold! If I serve it to him like that, he'll be really angry!" She looked towards the others apologetically and smiled in regret. "I'm really sorry guys, but I have to get back home. I promise to kill you some other time, okay? We'll play again soon! Bye!" With a cheery wave the Demon God flew off, headed eastwards to the Bugrom Hive.

There was silence in the street corner for a few moments, as those present began to digest fully what had just transpired.

"Um, are we... alive?" asked a baffled Makoto.

"L-looks that way," answered Londs.

"My, my... what an odd happenstance," said Dr. Schtalabaugh.

"Um, guys," moaned Shayla, "injured... me... help...?"

"Hmph," muttered Afura. "Serves you right.

The Roshtarian capital city of Florestica was a scene of pandemonium for the rest of the day. Fire crews led by the Water Shrine and aided by the Palace Guard, fought bitterly to contain the fire that had been spreading through the forests on the outskirts of the city. The merchants who had lost shops and goods at the marketplace filed vicious complaints with the Palace, angered at the destruction of their livelihood. Many were promised full reimbursement for their wares, which managed to quell some of the hot tempers flaring. The numerous injured in the fighting were treated at the Palace as well, their treatment paid for in full by the government. Clean up of the damage was also a priority, as many of the buildings around the marketplace were in danger of structural collapse.

"Shops destroyed, buildings smashed to the ground, fires out of control! Aagh!" Londs threw up his hands in agitation. "This incident will cost us a fortune!" He turned a narrowed eye towards the Fire Priestess, who was currently resting on a bed while she had her injuries treated. "Mistress Shayla, in the future may I ask that you please take your battles outside the city gates?"

"Well excuse me! I was trying to save us all from destruction, you know!"

"More ironic words were never said," muttered Afura.

"Oh, can it!" Shayla slumped back onto her bed, wincing slightly at her bandaged shoulder.

"Well, I suppose we are lucky enough as there were no casualties in this little skirmish," Londs said, ever the optomist. "God must truly have been watching over us this day."

Makoto sighed as he leaned back against the couch he sat on. His entire body ached from the day's exhausting events. First, what was supposed to be a nice, quiet wedding became a desperate fight for survival as Jinnai and his forces attacked the ceremony. Then, what was supposed to be a nice, quiet recuperation period at Nanami's restaurant turned into a desperate fight for survival as Shayla went nuts and fought Ifurita. He desperately hoped that the rest of the day would turn out much MUCH quieter than the past two-thirds.

"Are you all right, Makoto?" asked the Princess. Rune looked worriedly at the young man, who seemed to be thinking about something troubling.

Makoto smiled and shook his head. "Oh, I'm okay. Just tired I guess. It's been a long day."

"Yes, it has," Rune returned Makoto's smile with a blush. "First the wedding, now this. Oh my, will we never know peace?"

"Not with that maniac Jinnai around," said Shayla. "I say we mount a counter-attack, and kick that little weasel and his bugs to kingdom come!"

"Haven't you blown up enough things today?" asked Nanami angrily. She was still a tad bit upset over the destruction of her buisiness.

"Erk," Shayla quickly shut up. Despite her bravado, she still felt guilty about the damage she had caused. The Fire Priestess turned away from Nanami's vengeful glare and found something on the ceiling to interest her attention.

"We're back!" said a voice from the door. Fujisawa-sensei and Miz Mishtal entered, looking very disheveled. Their once ornate wedding clothes were caked with soot and dust, as the two had been the ones to lead the fire crews in their attempt to battle the forest fires outside the city. Fujisawa smiled at the group gathered in the room before plunking down on the floor in exhaustion. "Man, that was tough! I need a drink..."

Miz sighed. "Yes, I've never worked so hard in my life." She quickly glared at Shayla. "Thanks a lot. On my wedding day, too."

"I SAID I WAS SORRY!" shouted Shayla in annoyance. "Man, lay a guilt trip on, why don't cha?"

Miz rolled her eyes before taking a seat on a nearby cushion. "Oh, what a day! What a horrible, horrible day. I've never been so tired in my life."

"I'm so sorry about your wedding," said Princess Rune. "I should have insisted on more security for the occasion. It was my fault for not being prepared."

"Oh, no, dear. Don't blame yourself." Miz smiled at the young ruler. "You couldn't have possibly known what was going to happen. If it's anyone's fault, IT'S MASAMICHI'S!"

Mr. Fujisawa shot up to his feet in shock, dropping the flask of liquor Londs had passed him. "What?! Why is this my fault?"

Miz glared at him. "If you didn't insist on having the ceremony at the base of the tallest mountain in Roshtaria, instead of a more secure location like the Water Temple or Florestica Palace, then the Bugrom couldn't have possibly attacked us!"

"B-but, I though it'd be more romantic!"

"Oh please, you just wanted to climb that stupid mountain after the ceremony!" Miz turned away from her groom and began to sob. "Admit it! Some dumb hunk of rock is more important to you than I am!"

"Erk," Fujisawa sputtered for a moment before stooping over with guilt. "I... I'm sorry, Miz. This is all my fault. Please forgive me."

The Water Priestess quickly turned around and glomped onto her future husband. "Oh, how can I stay mad at you? Masamichi, awww..."

Fujisawa laughed nervously while everyone in the room looked on at the couple with faces ranging from amused delight to startled bewilderment.

"Ahem," interrupted Londs. "I don't mean to sound rude, but we have an extremely pressing matter at hand."

"Oh yes," Miz disentangled herself from a blushing Fujisawa and crossed her arms. "The new Demon God."

"Yes, Ifurita will most likely tell her Master of what she's discovered," said Afura. "Unless of course she forgets, which has a pretty good chance of happening actually."

"We can not take the risk though," said Rune Venus. "If Ifurita could do so much damage, imagine what a true Demon God could do."

"Humph, I thought it was Ms. Pyromaniac who caused all the random destruction," muttered Nanami.

"I'M SORRY, ALL RIGHT! How many times do you want me to say it?" cried Shayla.

"Ah... anyway, we have to get to that Demon God before the Bugrom do," said the Princess. "The consequences will be most dire if we don't."

"But, Rune, what do we do if we do find it before Jinnai does?" asked Makoto. "Do we activate it ourselves?"

Rune bit her lip in worry, and then nodded. "Although I do not wish to awaken such a terrible weapon, I'm afraid we have no choice. The Bugrom can not be allowed to possess two such horrible devices."

"Agreed," said Londs. "Such a weapon should not fall into the hands of that mad man or his vile minions. If we have possession of it, at least its power shall be used for good."

Makoto remained quiet and bit his lip. Could a Demon God's terrible power ever really be used for good?

"Wait, wait, wait!" spoke up Jinnai with a mouthful of noodles. He quickly slurped the remaining portion of stew from his bowl before turning his attention back to Ifurita. "Say that again, a bit more slowly this time! Start from the beginning."

The Demon God stood in front of the table her master and Diva dined on. It was a low wooden table, the one brought out by servant bugs whenever the Queen or their Great General wished to eat. Ifurita eyed the almost empty bowl of Nanami's stew atop the table, her aching belly eager to partake in the meal she had brought home. She quickly shook off her hunger, as her master wished her to relate her story once more. "Well, as I was saying. I went over to your sister's restaurant to get you some food, you know, cuz you were all sad and moody and stuff-"

"Get to the important part!" shouted Jinnai.

"Eep! Yeah, well, anyway, I went to get the food, when suddenly I overheard the Wind Lady and the Fire Lady talking to The Most Hated and Vile Enemy Mizuhara," Ifurita's voice became disgusted-sounding as she said the title, just like her Master trained her, "who was looking through this weird book."

Jinnai smirked evilly. "And what did the book say again?"

Ifurita frowned. She thought for a moment, then repeated Dr. Schtalabaugh's translation of the page, word for word. "Beneath the mighty fallen lake, inside the crystal caves of Yaard, lies one of the beasts of unholy flame, enchained within the dark black tomb. Its power sleeps for now, hopefully for all Eternity, but the hearts of men are fickle things, and from slumber it may yet be roused. Woe to him who awakens such a power, for only in great peril must the Demon God stir."

"Oh my, I didn't expect her to remember all that," said a shocked Diva.

"Me neither," admitted Ifurita with a blush.

Jinnai suddenly laughed out loud, startling both women. Diva raised an eyebrow at her General's outburst. "Mr. Jinnai? Is something wrong?"

The self-proclaimed Lord God merely laughed louder at her question. "Wrong? WRONG?! Oh no, my dear Queen Diva, nothing is wrong. In fact, something is most assuredly right!" Jinnai cackled again, then stood up from the table and clasped his hands together. His devious mind began to work, another plan forming within its dark depths. "Oh yes oh yes... Fortune smiles upon us now. My earlier plan may be in ruins, but a new one has started to formulate within my brilliant mind. And the best part is..." The demented young man snickered. " The best part is that fool Mizuhara and his Alliance pets have given me the perfect tool to rid myself of their accursed presences!"

Diva narrowed her eyes at her Commander, disbelief evident on her face. "Surely you don't mean to go after a second Demon God?"

"And why not?" asked Jinnai. He whirled around to face her, his eyes shining with manic glee. "Why shouldn't I possess such a powerful weapon? A weapon that will surely CRUSH all our enemies?"

The Queen blinked, then pointed a finger at Ifurita. "Well, for one thing, the Demon God you have now seems more trouble than she's worth."

Ifurita frowned.

Jinnai waved an arm dismissively. "Bah! Ifurita's a fluke. A one-in-a-million defect. I'm pretty sure the others off the factory line are in perfect working order."

Ifurita's shoulders slumped dejectedly.

"But Mr. Jinnai!" Diva protested.

"No!" Jinnai turned his back on her, his hands gripped tightly at his sides. "I WILL have that weapon! Even if it is another dud, I absolutely REFUSE to let Makoto Mizuhara possess it! If anyone deserves to rightfully possess a Demon God, it's gonna be ME! Only I am worthy to own such toys!"

Diva was quiet for a moment as she thought over her General's proposal. "Yes, I suppose it wouldn't be prudent to let a Demon God fall into Alliance hands. Yes... yes, you are right, Mr. Jinnai! The Bugrom Empire must maintain its monopoly on the Demon God weapons."

"Yes!" Jinnai raised a fist into the air. "Only fools let their toys of mass destruction fall into enemy hands!" The megalomaniac faced the Queen and grinned. "Imagine it! With two Demon Dolls at my disposal, our forces will wipe out all resistance! Whole armies shall fall at our feet! We shall be invincible!"

"Oh yes!" Diva clasped her hands together, at awe of her Grand Chancellor's evocative words. "Glory to the Bugrom! Victory to the Empire!"

Jinnai cackled maniacally.

Meanwhile, Ifurita looked on and smiled. "Great!" she whispered to herself. "My Master is so happy! That stew I brought him must really have done the trick." She then looked down at the mess on the table and gasped. "Awww, they didn't save any for me! That's not fair..."

And thus the race to acquire the second Demon God began.

To be continued...