Katsuhiko Jinnai sat back in his
Royal Throne in the Roshtarian Palace.
It had been a hell of a lot of work to sneak said throne into the main
hall with just Groucho to help him, but he wasn't about to make this
speech sitting on one of the Alliance's Royal Beanbags.
He looked down on the assembly before
him. They were on ground level
with him, but he looked down on them nonetheless. By his count, he saw
three elemental harpies, one of them retired, one drunken history
teacher, one milquetoast princess, one revoltingly ugly lesbian
princess, two diminutive hyper-hormonal runts, one or two others he
glossed over in order to get to the end, and a destined rival he was
about to grind to dust.
"I suppose you're all wondering why
I've called you here today," Jinnai
"Probably to boast about all your
plans and your genius and everything.
And laugh a lot," said one of the runts. He thought it was the girl,
but who could tell?
"An excellent suggestion!" Jinnai
laughed. "Ah, but not quite. Oh,
sorry to have interrupted dinner, by the way. Enjoying the wine, were
"I'm still shober enough to put you
on permanent detention, you rot...
"I believe the words you were attempting
to slur out were 'rotten
"Don't mention it. Not that
you'll be able to once I kill you all!" he
"Why have you come here?" the boring
princess asked. "You know such
brazen behavior can only result in your capture."
"Pfft, it's obvious Rune," said her
repugnant sister. "It's to show us
that he _can_. Break into the enemy palace with just one Bugrom with
him, set up some furniture, issue a challenge, make a speech and run
like hell. Basic intimidation tactic. 'Course, it's hard to see why
we oughtta be intimidated by a rogue interior decorator."
"Oh, this little thing?" Jinnai said,
tapping the throne. "This is
nothing. The number of times I've been in the palace by now, I could
have the whole place done up in plaid if I'd wanted to."
"Woozoowasoowa," said the purple Bugrom at his side.
"Yes, and I hate plaid too," Jinnai
said. "I was speaking
"You liar," the fire harpy said.
"You've never been in the palace
before in your life. And you're not about to have another chance,
The green one stopped her from powering
up. "Not yet, Shayla. No
sense in damaging the Palace right now. We have him cornered."
"Never been here before, have I?
Then how did I travel with you to
Cretaria, mm? No, I've been in and out of your precious palace day to
day for months now. Keeping my eye on my greatest rival here. Making
sure he wasn't creating any more ultimate weapons that might threaten
my rapidly growing power base too soon. But most of all, waiting for
*just* the right moment..."
"For what?" Makoto asked. If
there was one thing that infuriating fool
was good for, it was a straight line.
"Oh, nothing much, just... activate
control connections now," he said
"What's that supposed to-"
And the trap was sprung.
Outside, there was a sudden roar
of wind. The group's eyes went to the
windows, and the steadily darkening sky that could be seen through them.
"You finally put those components
you've been tinkering with back in
the Eye yesterday, didn't you, Mizuhara?" Jinnai asked. "A shame you
didn't check for any tampering. Anything that would, say, give me sole
control of the Eye of God?"
"That's impossible!" Makoto said,
apparently failing to notice the
bolts of black energy crackling around the Eye outside. "You couldn't
have known how, unless you'd-"
"Picked up the remains of the Trigger
of Destruction after you
destroyed it? Set up my new base at the mouth of the caves once
inhabited by the Phantom Tribe? Conscripted their paltry few survivors
into the service of the Omnipotent Bugrom Empire? Used their
scientists and technology to adapt the Trigger's technology to create
new devices of my own? ALL of the above?!"
"Okay," Shayla said, powering up.
"So you've got the Eye of God. All
we've gotta do is stop you before you-"
"Oh, I think I'm quite well protected. Stop her, my dear."
Shayla had just enough time to laugh
at Jinnai calling that bug 'my
dear' before the fist backhanded her.
The others watched as, almost in
slow motion, Shayla moved forward, and
a fist swung out directly in her path, collided with her face, and sent
her flying backwards in an arc and crashing to the ground on her back.
"You know, I do believe I'm beginning
to see the appeal of that move,"
Jinnai smiled vindictively.
Everyone else looked from the prone,
dazed Shayla, to the glassy-eyed
owner of the fist that hit her.
"Qawool?!" Miz started.
"What's the meaning of this?!" Afura
said, letting anger slip into her
normally stoic demeanor.
"The meaning is 'I win,'" Jinnai laughed. "Come, Qawool!"
The group watched, stunned, as water
priestess walked robotically to
stand at Jinnai's side. "Ah, how the tables have turned," he said with
a satisfied smirk. Beside him, the blue-haired girl stared blankly
ahead and said nothing.
"What have you done to her?!" Makoto demanded.
"Your little substitute girlfriend?
I've done her a greater service
that you realize, Mizuhara, believe me."
"What? What are you talking about?"
"So glad you asked. It all
started after the Trigger was destroyed.
You see, Mizuhara, I realized that you might have robbed me of my
armies, my weapons, my empire, my hive, my _armor_-" He glared at
Fujisawa. "Which I'll be expecting back. And cleaned." He stood up,
triumphantly. "But the one thing you could never take from me, my
inherent brilliance, remained! Brilliance enough to see how easily
your band of fools fell under the influence of a sweet-and-innocent
act. It was child's play to place a double agent among your ranks."
"But you couldn't!" Miz protested. "The Seminary would never-!"
"Ha! It's your own fault for
retiring without a successor, you soggy
old wench! The Priestess Academy was so desperate to find a new Water
Priestess they waived the background check. All I had to do was come
up with a story about a 'mysterious ancient tribe' and she was in! You
played right into my hands!"
"But her skill-"
"Engineered, the same as everything
else," Jinnai said. They looked at
him, uncomprehending. "Haven't you figured it out by now? Her
instinctive knowledge of every water technique ever invented? Her
ability to synchronize with Ancient Roshtarian technology? Her
convenient, almost *programmed* fear of the very race she'd otherwise
be ordered to destroy? The Resemblance? Anybody?"
Jinnai shook his head. "Honestly,
if you were any more dense you
wouldn't be worth conquering in the first place. She's a demon god.
My newfound lackeys built her using Kalia's technology and Ifurita's
template. And with the combined powers of both, I'd say she makes a
fitting weapon with which to accomplish my ultimate victory, wouldn't
"Is it possible, Makoto?" Afura asked,
while the others looked on in
Makoto had been looking deliberately
at Qawool all the time Jinnai had
been speaking. Steadily, he walked across the room to stand before the
blue-haired girl. Jinnai watched in amusement.
"Qawool, can you hear me?" Makoto asked gently.
Qawool stared blankly at the space occupied by his eyes.
"Qawool, listen to me," he said,
soothingly. "Can you listen to me?
You have to break free of him, Qawool. You aren't a demon god."
"Pardon me?" Jinnai said. "What was that? What are you saying now?"
Makoto kept speaking to her, taking
her hand in his own. "You aren't a
demon god, Qawool. If you were, I'd be able to synchronize with you."
He held up their joined hands before her eyes. "See?" he smiled.
Jinnai snorted. "Like you could
Kalia? No, this brand of demon god
only shows you what I want it to. But if you're so desperate for
proof, go ahead. Qawool, enable read-only mode."
All at once Makoto's eyes were wide and far away.
"I think that proves my point," he
said to the others. "Now, are there
any questions about how I've defeated you all? Anyone curious as to
why I put her in a position to be exposed to the Eye-unsealing ritual?
Want to hear how that little unexpected trip to Cretaria helped
expedite my plans? Really, I've got nothing to hide..."
"Yeah... Yeah, I got a question,"
Fatora said. "Isn't there supposed to
be a screw or something in her back? I've seen her naked, and she
looks pretty human to me."
"An outmoded feature, I had it removed.
Along with a few other
upgrades. Isn't that right, Mizuhara?"
Makoto stepped back from Qawool,
who remained just as much under
Jinnai's thrall as ever. "You... You've booby-trapped the obedience
"I never make the same mistake twice.
You, on the other hand, are
laughably predictable. I knew if I placed a new demon god in your
ranks you'd fall for her instantly, you fickle, feeble-minded fool."
"That isn't..." Makoto blushed. "I mean, we aren't..."
"I knew you couldn't help but fall
prey to your own pathetic emotions.
And because of that you let her get close enough to your experiments to
synchronize with the Eye!"
"What about her personality?" Afura
asked. "Did you engineer that,
"No, that much she developed on her
own. The most bizarre thing about
Kalia's creators, they didn't seem to understand the need to crush
one's servants completely to their will. Naturally the control
overrides compensate for that little glitch, but it *has* created some
aggravating stumbling blocks along the way. A few creations that
couldn't quite follow along with the Simplest Little Plan. Isn't that
"Woozoowazoowa!" exclaimed the purple Bugrom.
"Of course, attacking her skimmer
ended up working out in our favor!
God's on my side! _Anything we did_ would have worked out in our
favor! That's not the point!"
"That falling back on something as
unimaginative as divine intervention
is an insult to my tactical genius!" Jinnai folded his arms in
exasperation. "Your original never had these kind of problems, you
"Original?" Afura repeated.
"Yes, the former Groucho suffered
a bit of strain setting up the
Trigger's equipment, we had to clone him. Waste of resources and it
took forever, we didn't try it again. Still, aside from the voice,
it's a perfect match, don't you agree?"
He looked at Qawool. "In retrospect,
though, I think in her case it
works out even better this way. Who wouldn't want an ultimate weapon
that doubles as a hostage?"
"Then, she didn't know," Makoto said.
"And she's still in there,
Jinnai nodded gleefully. "She
had no idea of her true importance. She
carried out my instructions to synchronize with the Eye without even
"Alright! I'd say that about
wraps up the question and answer
session!" Shayla said, pulling herself to her feet. "Time we shut you
and your new toy down for good!"
"Agreed," Afura said. "Just
try not to harm Qawool," she told her
"Yeah, well-" Shayla caught an imploring
look from Makoto, "I'll...
I'll try my best."
The two priestesses stepped forward,
lamps at the ready. "Have you
anything more to say, villain?" Afura intoned.
"Just one thing," Jinnai said.
"You've sparred with her before,
haven't you? Used your powers against her?"
Afura nodded. "She can use
our own powers against us. We know that.
But the Order of Mount Muldoon can not, will not stand idle in the face
of evil such as yours."
"And normally, it might be entertaining
to watch your inevitable
defeat. But I've both been there and done that, so I think I'll skip
right to the next phase. Qawool, the next phase, if you would."
"Yes master," Qawool said, monotone.
The fire priestess blasted at her
former comrade, hoping to stop her
before she did whatever it was she was about to - only to have the
flames halt in the middle of the room and disperse. She opened and
closed her mouth a few times. Afura, in return, opened and closed her
"What's going on?" Makoto asked,
looking at his friends on the other
side of the room. "Why can't they speak?"
"Oh, they can," Jinnai assured. "Can't you?"
Shayla mouthed at him some more.
"Of Course," Jinnai went on, loudly,
"they happen to be trapped behind
a wall of wind that will block any force thrown at it, including any
sound from their side, yet allow them to hear every word spoken on
ours. The perfect audience," he grinned. "Oh, and for the record,
Miss Mann, should you attempt to remove this wall, not that you can
since the technique has been lost since Kalia's time, Qawool will kill
Mizuhara. Won't you, Qawool?"
"Yes master," Qawool said, monotone.
The priestesses reluctantly stood
down, watching anxiously with the
rest. At the other end of the room, Jinnai's servants stood by, one
blank, the other physically unreadable, while the two young men faced
"This is the next phase isn't it,
Katushiko?" Makoto asked, unafraid.
"This is the showdown you wanted. Between the two of us."
"No interruptions, no distractions,
nothing but you, and me, and my
undefeatable power. Lovely, isn't it?"
"I won't fight you, Katsuhiko."
"HA! You couldn't stand up
against me if you tried! Besides, why
should I bother to let you? That's what I have lackeys for."
"I won't fight her, either," Makoto
said, looking to Qawool. He got
down on his knees. "I surrender, Katsuhiko. You win. It's over."
Jinnai grit his teeth. "More
LIES, Mizuhara?" He seized Makoto by the
shirt and dragged him to his feet. "You don't think I can see what
you're doing? You're trying to manipulate me, trick me into giving you
what you want, just like you always have! Just like you trick
everybody! Not this time, you don't! Not This Time!"
"Then what do you want? If
don't want to fight and you don't want me
to give up, what do you-"
"I want to *prove* my superiority
to you!" Jinnai shouted. "To make
clear once and for all who is the greater between us! And that, as
you," he pointed to Makoto, "and they," he pointed to the crowd trapped
watching behind the invisible wall, "and even she," he pointed to where
Qawool stood, unable to do anything but watch, "can clearly see, is ME.
At long last *I* am holding all the cards. I control the Eye, I
control the demon god, my armies are strong, my resources are
unlimited, my victory is assured and you... are completely at my
He stared Makoto point-blank in the
face. "You have nothing, Makoto,
do you understand that? Nothing but what I grant you. I control the
Eye of God. I control the only way you're ever getting your defective
demon doll back." Makoto's eyes widened suddenly. "Oh, yes. If I
choose, I could destroy the Eye. It wouldn't matter how much
information you dig up about it then, you'd never be able to use it if
I do away with the thing itself. You'll never see her again, not
without my say-so. Do you know what that means? Everything you want,
everything you'll ever have, is now all dependent on ME. On My Whims.
As of THIS moment, I am your GOD!"
"Qawool, put out the Eye," Jinnai said, not breaking his stare.
Makoto froze in his tracks.
He looked ready to move, yet unable to.
Outside the skies began to pulse darkly.
"She's arming the sequence as we
speak," Jinnai said. "In a few
minutes she'll be done, and the Eye will quietly blast itself into
another dimension, just vanish out of our skies and appear in somebody
else's. Say, maybe that's how it gets to Cretaria..."
"No..." Makoto grabbed Jinnai by his jacket. "NO!"
"What are you going to do, resort
to physical violence? Not your
style, you're a hero, remember? Besides, it won't help anything.
Qawool's the one controlling the Eye. I've withstood much worse than
the amount of damage a weakling like you could inflict without
betraying my cause, you can't make me stop her. I suppose you *could*
try freeing Qawool from my control again... but you saw what that would
do, didn't you?"
"It... It would kill her..." Makoto whispered, his grip growing slack.
"One of my very first custom adjustments," Jinnai agreed, grinning.
"Katushiko, you... You can't..." Makoto's voice was uneven.
"Why not? What's the Eye of
God to me, really? I have the means to
create an army of demon gods. Another Trigger of Destruction, even!
The Eye is just old junk to be put out on the curb as far as I'm
concerned. No, it's entirely out of my hands now. I'm not touching
Jinnai removed his enemy's hands
from his person and straightened his
lapels. Makoto watched Qawool, both of them frozen to the spot. The
darkness outside pulsed faster. Jinnai paced around his rival,
"It's all up to you now, Mizuhara.
Just like it always is. If you
want the spotlight so badly, take it. It's your decision. What's it
going to be? Will you kill the girl to stop her? Or will you lose the
only piece of malfunctioning machinery you ever loved?"
"I... I can't... I can't..." Makoto
looked at him, eyes wide in
desperation. "Katsuhiko, you don't have to do this..."
"Yes, I DO!" Jinnai sneered.
"I've known I had to do this since the
day we first met! To show to the world, to ANY world, your impotence
in the face of my superiority! You are helpless now, you hear?!
"That- that's not true..." Makoto
smiled cautiously, nervously. "_You_
can help me... If you're really that powerful, you can help me."
Jinnai shrugged. "Oh, I know I can. But why should I?"
"Whyever you want," Makoto said,
gulping slightly. "I'll do anything,
if you'll just... Just don't do this. Please don't do this..."
"Oho? What was that I heard?
Was it... begging? From Makoto
Mizuhara? The usurper who's stolen everything that's rightfully mine
is now pleading for me to give him still More?! Not. Extremely. Likely."
"I need your help..." Makoto said shakily. "I- I can't do anything-"
"No, you really can't, can you?
Now, if *I* were in your position, I'd
know exactly what to do. I'd do away with the girl without a thought.
After all, outside of Ifurita, there's the Alliance to be thought of,
Makoto flinched visibly.
"If you don't stop her, the very
thing that holds this society together
will be lost. And right on the eve of my invasion, no less. Why, that
would be like condemning an entire world to anarchy in its time of
dearest need. And a hero-type like you could never allow *that*..."
Makoto shivered, rooted to the spot.
"Or could you? Tell me, could
you let me conquer the Alliance, condemn
your Ifurita to die, even forget about all those poor, poor Cretarians
who'll die when the Eye crashes down on them, just so you can keep your
hands clean? Do, enlighten me."
"... stop it..." Makoto's head
dropped. His hands clenched. "...STOP
"You're trapped, Mizuhara.
Like a rat in a maze with no exit. You
lose either way, no matter what you do. There's no way out. You're
doomed. Powerless. And is there anyone here, Anyone At All," he
surveyed the shocked and enraged faces behind the wall of air, "who has
any doubt who has done this to you?!"
Jinnai grinned at his quivering archnemesis.
"No, I don't believe
Makoto shivered, stealing a glance
at Qawool as she stood there,
impassively. He clamped his eyes shut and winced in agony.
"...katsuhiko... you... You..."
Jinnai watched, fascinated behind
his smug grin. Would Mizuhara lash
out, for all the good it would do him? No, he doubted it. More
likely, he'd have to admit something Jinnai had known all along.
"you... you are... Evil... y-you..."
"I *am* evil. And I am a genius. And you, are finished. As of - NOW!"
An explosive shock ripped across
in the skies outside. Makoto's head
jerked up just in time to see the black flash from the windows. There
was a roaring of thunder, and the wind began to steadily die down. In
its wake the dark clouds dispersed, and the skies cleared. Cleared, to
reveal nothing but sky.
Makoto choked. "...n-no..."
Jinnai shot his fist into the air. "YES!"
Makoto stared at the empty spot in
the sky where the Eye had been,
trembling violently. His eyes were wide, agonized. His mouth opened
and closed emptily; the only sound that escaped was a choked sob.
Slowly, a trickle of water found its way down the side of his face, as
another trickled down the other.
His knees gave out. He fell
hard, arms barely catching him before they
gave out as well. He crumpled to the floor, bowed down by the pain,
weeping, at Jinnai's feet. He cried, mumbled to himself, shook, cried
Jinnai looked down at him, grinning
at first. But then, as he watched,
his smile slowly faded. His face grew contemplative. His eyes,
He'd won. Won, finally.
After all this time. His entire life, he'd been
trying to defeat Makoto Mizuhara. Fighting relentlessly, with no end in
sight. Never stopping. Never slowing down. Giving it his all.
Dedicating his life to it.
And now here Makoto was, sniveling
at his feet. Broken. Defeated
utterly. Destroyed. Finished. Obliterated. Through. An X in a box
somewhere. No longer anything. The single greatest challenge of his
entire life, negated.
Like he never even was.
Jinnai looked down at the kneeling,
weeping figure. In all his life he
had never felt so... so...
"Good," he said. His own voice
seemed different to him now. Calmer.
It occurred to him he should probably be laughing, but why? There was
no need. He'd won, no question. That was it. The manic energy inside
of him was satisfied. The drive was gone, he'd reached his
It was done.
Diva, Queen of the Bugrom Empire,
watched with her newest children as
the Eye of God vanished from the skies. Mister Jinnai's first line of
assault had begun, and with it, the next war. She was confident of
their victory, of course. The forces at the Alliance's command were
nothing compared to those he had amassed at theirs. Between the
technology of the Ancients and their Phantom Tribe servants, the Empire
stood poised to dominate all El-Hazard. Victory was inevitable.
Everything her Bugrom instincts told
her said that a war at this time
would be unwise. That they should concentrate on constructing and
repopulating a new main hive. That it would be many generations of
Queens before it would be time for the Bugrom to expand into new
But Mister Jinnai had declared his
intention to conquer El-Hazard now,
and as Mister Jinnai went, so went the Empire.
Her reverie was interrupted as one
of her eldest children, the injured
one whose name Mister Jinnai had changed, indicated the sky. She and
her children watched in shock as, before their eyes and feelers, there
was a dark flash in the space where the Eye had been, and the Eye
Diva did what she did best in such
a situation. She worried. Had
Mister Jinnai somehow unfathomably lost the upper hand? Had it been a
mistake not to create any more demon gods to accompany him? His most
powerful ally in the palace had been living among the enemy for months;
might she have turned against him? Even if she couldn't access her
demon god abilities without Mister Jinnai's orders, all she would have
to do would be to fight his control enough to reject his commands, and
he would be all but alone against the other priestesses and the palace
All of these concerns, and the thousand
more she had in the following
hours, were ultimately rendered moot when Jinnai and the copy of the
injured Bugrom returned, alone and unharmed.
"Mister Jinnai, how went the siege?"
she inquired. "Did you meet with
any strong resistance?"
"None at all, Diva," Jinnai said,
speaking more fluidly than he usually
did. "They didn't stand a chance. By the time I was through with
them, they were more than happy to let me make a clean getaway in
exchange for my releasing our pet priestess from my control."
The copy pointed out that most of
them had actually been outraged, but
had reluctantly agreed with the senior princess' proposal.
"I suppose that's true," Jinnai said.
"I wasn't paying that close
attention, it was all so beneath me."
Diva peered at him, curious.
He seemed... calmer than usual. But it
was not her place to question his moods, only inquire after his
actions, if he would allow it. "Mister Jinnai, the Eye has reappeared.
Have you any idea why?"
Jinnai nodded. "I had Qawool
retrieve it before it drifted too far
The copy asked him how it was supposed
to get to Cretaria then, and
Jinnai responded that he neither knew nor cared. It would eventually,
Diva, however, was more concerned
with the present situation. "You
restored the Eye of God to the Roshtarians?" she asked, perplexed.
Jinnai smiled cleverly, some of that
familiar glimmer of cunning in his
eyes. "Let Mizuhara have that defective defector back. Let him live
to a ripe old age with her. Let him live every moment of every day
with her knowing what he knows now. That the only reason, the only
reason at all that he has her, is because *I* willed it so. Let him
live with the proof of my power over him for the rest of his miserable
"You are not concerned, then, that
the Ifurita might prove dangerous to
"Of course not, we have the makings
of a thousand demon gods. One or
two on their side can't harm us and the Alliance knows it."
"And, you left them the other one as well?" Diva attempted to sort out.
"If we ever need more, we can build
them easily. I didn't care for
this one. Too nice. The Alliance can keep her for all I care."
Diva looked at Jinnai, a deeply confused
expression on her face.
"Mister Jinnai, I do not understand. If you defeated all resistance,
why have you returned so? Why give the Roshtarians the Eye and the
demon gods? Is this some strategy I am unaware of?"
"No strategy, Diva." He looked
at the Bugrom he had named 'Zeppo.'
"Zeppo, I want you to prepare the greatest, most opulent feast we have
ever had. Bring out the wine, the sweetbreads, whatever you can find.
For tonight, we celebrate the glorious culmination of the greatest
struggle in human history: My unequivocal defeat of Makoto Mizuhara!"
Zeppo scuttled off to the food stores.
Jinnai looked at the still-
disconcerted Diva confidently. "Was there something else, Diva?"
"Mister Jinnai, I... I simply do
not understand how you intend to
further the conquest of the Alliance by these tactics."
"Simple, Diva. I don't.
A true conqueror knows when not to press for
needless territory." He looked around the partially constructed hive.
"No, I believe we'll just complete our restoration of the Bugrom Empire
and leave it at that."
"If... If you consider that wise,"
she agreed. "But, Mr. Jinnai...
"Don't you get it, Diva? I
defeated Mizuhara. For *eleven years* I've
been waiting to do that! Eleven years of constant, unrelenting one-
upsmanship. Eleven years of being stifled at every turn by one man and
one man alone! And now, finally, I've broken free of his trickery!
Crushed the man who kept me down all this time! I stood up against him
and I knocked him down! I've confirmed to the world my superiority to
the only other person ever to even barely approach my level of
greatness, and proven once and for all that there are none who can
possibly oppose me!
"After something like that, world
domination would just be redundant."
El-Hazard was created by Hiroki Hayashi
and Ryoe Tsurimura and is the
property of AIC and Pioneer Entertainment.