Episode 055: Host! A Contest of Charm
"What!?" Filia yelled at the top of her lungs as Xellos revealed the truth about their recent stop on a city planet. She, Xellos, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Zelas were in the Great Beast's control room as the lost ship traveled through the vastness of space.
"Like I said, the real reason we stopped where we did, was so I could get some information from the one called Izaya," Xellos established. "I had to give him information in return, but I told him things that would be relatively commonly known in our world, nothing of too much importance for us, though it seemed interesting to him. I didn't ask him what I needed directly and allowed him to drop hints around it by thinking I was inquiring about something else entirely. One of those hints happened to be the piece of information I needed."
"A mission well accomplished," Zelas commended. "I must say, I didn't expect to hear the story that Xellos told me. I thought you were going to keep things quiet and find some honest jobs. Ah, but chaos is chaos wherever it goes. You, my minions, are first class chaos." The group had little to say in their defense and no one spoke. "Why the sad faces? I just gave you a compliment." Zelas laughed, though she did enjoy their negative emotions, as it provided her with energy.
Lina decided that it was time to change the subject from the recent happenings to the purpose behind them. "What's done is done; we can't worry about it now." She still got a bad feeling about it. "So you got the information you need, care to inform your crew how you intend to use it? As the captain, I should know."
"Gladly," Zelas grinned. "As I'm sure you all know, I am a dark lost ship, it's not surprising, since I was originally a monster lord. Given that fact, I feed on negative energy. However, so does Darkstar's vessel, Dugradigdu. In other words, if I try to attack Darkstar with dark energy, I'll only be empowering him. Unfortunately, the same is not true the other way around, because of the sheer amount of his energy. So in other words, I have two choices. One choice is to gain more raw power than Darkstar and overload his systems with my native dark energy, to give him more than he can take. This is a difficult choice because of the limitations on time and the fact that Dugradigdu is prepared to carry even more power than what Darkstar has right now, which is plenty by itself."
"So overloading him with dark energy will be nearly impossible," Zelgadis concluded.
"Given our limited time, I would say it is impossible," Zelas admitted. "I can build my power over time, but so can Darkstar. Even if I strategize to gain power faster than him, it would take a long time to catch up, time that is not available. You see, right now Darkstar is focusing on breaking through the protective program Canal gave us monster lords. He's trying to take over Dolphin and Dynast. That is why he's not actively searching for us as much as he could. If he accomplishes that, he could move on to take over the communications across this world. That would take time and energy, but he would still do it faster than the time it would take to gain enough raw power to surpass him, especially after he takes the power belonging to Dolphin and Dynast for himself. He'd track us down and destroy us if we wait to long."
"So dark energy doesn't work against Darkstar, but that's not even surprising!" Amelia exclaimed with determination. "Darkness must be defeated by light, by justice!"
"That is my other option," Zelas acknowledged. "The power of light is one that Vorfeed wields, but I have no intentions of becoming her tool, nor will I change my vessel into a lost ship of light, if that were even possible some how. However, I can still temporarily wield the power of light with the right equipment. We're following up on a theory and a legend here, but it's our best lead. If I get my hands on the stone known as the White Materia, I can use it to purify my negative energy into positive energy as an outside process and use it against Darkstar."
"Yes, the power of justice will prevail!" Amelia cheered.
"So we're off on a treasure hunt of sorts." Lina mused aloud. "But there's still one thing that worries me." She paused dramatically then nearly shouted. "What about our supplies? We need food!"
"Yes, yes, food," Zelas disregarded her concerns. "For the millionth time, as long as you're useful to me alive, I won't starve you. We'll have to make another stop along the way. Xellos, research the maps and find a suitable place for job hunting. Make it another planet populated mostly by humans, it'll be easier to blend in and find work that way."
"What about that trouble contractor business you mentioned before?" Zelgadis inquired. "Wouldn't that be more effective than regular jobs?"
"Yes it would and that's what we're heading out to do," Zelas grinned with cunning anticipation. "Our clients are desperate and will pay a high price for us to rid them of the dark lost ship that's been terrorizing their home because he thought they were hiding a certain white ship."
Lina looked at Zelas suspiciously. "A white ship? Are you talking about the Swordbreaker?"
"I am, except the Swordbreaker isn't there," Zelas revealed with a wickedly amused grin. "You see, I created a crisis for us to solve by spreading false information and leading Nezard to a rich place to cause destruction. We'll have to defeat Darkstar's allies eventually and it is best if we face them all one on one. First I'll get the White Materia and then I'll head into battle against Nezard as planned."
"You're putting innocent people in danger just so you can get money for ammunition and take down our foes? That's not fair!" Amelia complained in disapproval. "What about saving both this world and ours?"
"I care not for the fate of this world," Zelas reminded. "My goal is revenge against Darkstar. We may share a common enemy, but that does not mean that we share a common goal."
"But that's..." Amelia wasn't sure how she could reason with the monster lord. "Lina, say something!"
"There's nothing I can do." Lina admitted with a serious expression that was a mix of resignation and frustration. "When we make the next stop, let's earn a lot of money so that Zelas doesn't have to resort to things like that in the future."
"Lina..." Amelia frowned.
"Zelas," Lina looked into the monster lord's holographic eyes, that looked just as real and sinister as ever. "You don't need to take it out on other people if all you want is my energy. I can get angry all on my own, in fact there's nothing that could make me angrier than I am! Darkstar is trying to destroy my world and he's caused enough damage already. I don't need any more motivation to hate him!" The petite redhead yelled.
Zelas smiled with a mocking air. "Then keep that hatred strong."
"I've found a suitable place to land," Xellos informed.
"Good, let's go then," Zelas decided.
xoxox xox xoxox
The Great Beast landed on another planet populated mostly by humans. It was quite similar to the one they had visited before. As with last time, Zelas claimed she had decided to remain on the ship, while Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos went out to explore the city. Filia was rather quiet and kept glaring at Xellos, no doubt upset about how Zelas was endangering innocent people in her quest for power. As they explored, they stopped in front of an elegant looking building with a sign in front of one of the golden lined glass windows.
"According to this, this place is looking to hire people to work as hosts. It looks like some kind of restaurant and ball room inside so I guess they're looking for waiters," Lina concluded. "I guess it's a good thing we can read this, but it's been making me curious about why our languages are the same."
"They're not," Xellos revealed. "Since I'm a program in this world, I have a variety of languages added to my very being. I also kept what I knew from our world, but the truth is that the language you are speaking right now is not the same as before. The only explanation I can come up with is that when you were thrown into this world, that was one of the changes that was made to make you adapt. Your native tongue became a sort of equivalent from this world. It should change back when we return to our world."
"That's actually pretty interesting, I didn't even realize we were speaking in a different language, though somehow, different words come into my mind when I really think about it," Lina mused aloud.
"It gives me a headache to think about it," Gourry whined.
"Anyway, I'm no currency expert, but it looks like the pay is good. What do you think of these numbers, Xellos?" Lina asked.
"They look pretty good," Xellos agreed. "But did you read what the sign says at the end? There are certain requirements to be hired for this job."
The group looked at the sign again. "What's the meaning of this? It says they'll only hire 'males of good appearance between the ages of eighteen and thirty,' but why?"
"I assume it's because their clientele is female," Xellos pointed out.
"So that's what it means by host..." Lina groaned. "But the money is so good and the opportunity to sneak food out of the kitchen even better!"
"Lina... You could never be a waitress," Amelia sighed.
"Funny, Luna told me the exact same thing once," Lina recalled. "But I don't see why not. Delivering plates to a table can't be all that hard."
"Um... Are we going to get jobs here?" Gourry innocently asked.
"No!" Filia exclaimed. "I do not support establishments that make use of physical charm to win over their customers and trick them into spending more!"
"Even if they hired women, you wouldn't get any tips," Xellos teased.
"Shut up, raw garbage!" Filia shouted. "Even if they hired women, I wouldn't work here!"
"Wait a minute," in a sudden burst of rebellion, Zelgadis had an idea. "Gourry, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"That the secret ingredient of Pepsi is a little piece of Heaven?" Gourry asked with a thoughtful expression.
"Tell me about it, I could drink a whole barrel of that sweet bubbly stuff!" Lina gleefully exclaimed.
"No! Well yes, but that's not the point!" Zelgadis tried to get the conversation back on track. "I think being waiters can't be all that hard. In fact, we should all take the jobs. All of us."
"But they only hire men..." Amelia reminded.
"Oh no, I know where this is going!" Lina stomped her foot and placed her hands on her hips.
"It's only fair after all you've made us do over time, right Gourry?" Zelgadis argued.
"Huh?" Gourry blinked in confusion.
"Aren't you going to ask me to back you up?" Xellos cut in.
Zelgadis huffed, "of course not, you actually enjoy dressing up as a girl."
Xellos gasped and feigned offense. "Why Zelgadis, are you doubting my manliness? If you would only take a moment to ask Filia-"
"I don't want to talk about that!" Filia shouted, her face crimson.
Getting back into topic, because he really didn't want to talk about that either, Zelgadis explained. "Lina is always making us dress up as girls, so we should return the favor and make her do the same!"
"But she's already dressed up as a girl," Gourry logically pointed out.
"That's not what I mean; we'll make her dress up as a guy!" Zelgadis explained.
"A sweet, beautiful, delicate and ultra feminine creature like me could never pass for a man!" Lina argued.
"Than you'll miss on a well paying job with access to fancy food," Zelgadis countered.
"That's it! You're on!" Lina accepted the challenge. "C'mon girls, we'll be the most handsome men this town, this world, has ever seen!" Lina gabbed Filia and Amelia by the arms and began to drag them away. "Amelia, since you still have some money left from that job you took, you'll be paying for our new clothes!"
"What?!" The Seyruun princess protested. "But I worked hard to earn that money! Do you have any idea how many silly poses I had to strike for random people while handing out fliers?" That was coming from someone who loved making justice poses, so for Amelia of all people to get tired of it, she must have done a lot of posing.
"Wait a minute!" Zelgadis called out, though it was already too late. "I didn't mean to drag Amelia into this too."
"Um... What should we do now?" Gourry inquired.
"We beat them, that's what!" Xellos exclaimed; taking the other two by surprise. "Are we going to let the girls get away with being better men than us? Shouldn't actual men be better at being men?"
"Right, we can't back down," Zelgadis reluctantly agreed.
"Alright!" Gourry cheered, "Than let's go play in the mud, I haven't had a good mud fight in ages!"
"Mud fight?" Zelgadis and Xellos chorused with perplexity.
"That's right, mud fights are manly," Gourry nodded, sounding sure of himself.
"Mud fights are just messy," Zelgadis breathed in annoyance. "What we need is to be sophisticated and handsome."
Xellos changed his holographic projection so that he was now wearing a dark purple suit. "Both of which I already have."
"Changing your projection like that is cheating!" Zelgadis accused, caught up in their little argument. "C'mon Gourry, I still have a little money left, we're getting some new clothes!"
"Alright!" Gourry wasn't sure what was going on, but he liked that he had the opportunity to hang out with the guys. He loved Lina and cared for Amelia and Filia like sisters, but having a day out with just the guys was nice once in a while.
"I'm tagging along too; you guys wouldn't know what clothes to pick. Let my sophistication be your guide!" Xellos hurried after Zelgadis and Gourry.
"Sophistication? Ha!" Zelgadis laughed sarcastically. "We'll follow your advice when we want to look like clowns."
"I'm clearly the most sophisticated out of all of us!" Xellos argued back. Thus the back and forth continued as the three noisy and, from an outsider's perspective unsophisticated, men went off to buy some new clothes.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, at the host club... "No, no, no!" The shout of a very upset gentleman pierced the air. "You brute!" He dramatically grimaced. "I knew that there would be many barbarians applying for this job even if they could never handle it, but I never expected for a man this rough to set foot in here!"
"What?!" Lina screeched in anger, her voice sounding oddly manly, due to the voice modulator chip hidden in her tie. She and the other girls were wearing suits with Amelia and Filia a bit uncomfortable with tightly bandaged chests. Lina bandaged hers too, though it was hardly necessary.
The manager of the establishment frowned even deeper at the reaction presented to his disapproval. "Mr. Lin, please retire."
"Give me another chance!" The examination room was currently occupied by Lina aka Lin, Amelia aka Lan, Filia aka Lun, Gourry, Zelgadis and Xellos. They tried not to laugh so as to not mess up their test. Yet for the angry Lina, in a suit, with her hair brushed back to look as 'manly' as possible without changing the cut, it all made her raging eyes stand out more and made her look even fiercer than usual.
The manager twitched in stress, "I can't take this anymore. I was planning to finish a few more interviews as an example, but I need a moment to recover after witnessing this. I'm going to skip the rest of the introductions, I can't witness anymore of this and I do apologize for that. Please excuse me now; I will leave you to the rest of your examination by someone very capable that I have hired for the task. Lady Zelas, please come in."
"Zelas?!" The six hope hopefuls exclaimed.
Zelas entered the examination room with a confident stride. "Greetings, gentlemen."
The manager waited a few seconds before letting out a hopeless breath. "Gentlemen, please greet the lady properly. As soon as I saw lady Zelas, I knew she's refined and sophisticated, so I had to hire her to screen the interviewees. Now greet her properly and do your best. I must be going now." He hurried out of the room dramatically, as if he had just witnessed something terrifying. The area remained in silence until the manager suddenly returned with the same dramatic flare and bowed to Zelas. "On second thought, I cannot simply abandon such a fine lady with a ruffian in the premises." He eyed Lin with distrust.
"You need not worry," Zelas assured. "I'm certain I will be alright. Please go rest; you really seem to need it."
The manager paused as if debating on what to do. Finally, he decided that the way Zelas' silver eyes went from alluring to terrifying was a good hint that he should leave. "Best wishes..." Then he dramatically exited the room again.
Zelas grinned at the perplexed group, out of which only Xellos was composed. "Shall we continue the examination? It sounded like Mr. Lin had been eliminated, but I might give him another chance. Shall we repeat the test now?"
"Yes!" Lina exclaimed. She cleared her throat and tried to perform the test again, following the instructions the manager had given her. "I mean, welcome princess!" She spoke the greeting the hosts were required to say. "Sit down, have some tea." After a short pause, Lina scrambled for the chair. "Wait! Let me get that for you!" She pulled the chair out from under the table noisily.
"How nice of you to bring out the appetizers, however I cannot consume them with this projection. Although I still enjoy witnessing the chaos, it amuses me," Zelas grinned as she sat down.
"Chaos? Appetizers?" Lina was focusing on trying not to fail the test and not paying attention to much else aside from the routine she had to follow. "Yes well," she sat down across from Zelas and poured herself some tea. "Let's just drink up and... Oh wait, the first cup is for the guest," she switched the cups. "Cheers to chaos!" She laughed half-heartedly, hoping that Zelas would just pass her already.
"Cheers!" Zelas lifted her tea cup, and with a soft 'cling' touched it against Lina's, but didn't drink it as she was a hologram. "At least as an astral being I could still pretend to drink tea and taste it. Oh well, I suppose having a vessel has its advantages too, being a list ship isn't so bad now that I'm getting used to it. By the way, Mr. Lin..." Zelas knew all their fake names and fabricated backgrounds, indicating that she had been secretly watching the show from the start.
"Yes?" Lina looked hopeful. "And may I take a moment to say you look especially evil today? Cause you look especially evil today." She laughed nervously, trying to come up with a suitable compliment like the manager had previously instructed.
"According to the manager's criteria you failed this very simple 'greet and serve tea' test miserably." Zelas' expression was very similar to that of Xellos' usual cheery face at that moment, as Lina's jaw dropped and she prepared her argument. Yet it wasn't needed as Zelas continued. "But I'll pass you anyway, just to see how you do at the gala tonight."
"Yes!" Lina cheered before correcting herself. "I mean, thank you, sweet lady."
With a sweet expression that didn't match her suddenly harsh tone of voice, Zelas called out, "next!" Leaving the other five host hopefuls to contemplate who should face the test next.
To be Continued