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*What* Insertion?


Prologue


Location: The Warring States Era, Earth
Time: Two hours after sunrise


It was done.

After the many months of searching for the jewel shards, working to increase their abilities and striving to do their very best, it was done: the destruction of the dastardly Naraku had taken place at the hands of Inuyasha and company.

The battle had lasted for over two hours, but Naraku's trickery and uncanny strength couldn't stand up under the combined attacks of Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango, Kilala, Koga, Sesshoumaru, and even Kikyo.  Given the chance to escape, Kagura had accepted it; she had taken Kanna and fled...but not until she dished out a few attacks of her own.  Even Shippo had gotten a few licks in, despite the fact that he didn't have any real stake in the fight.

The final fragments of the jewel were gathered, and it was made whole once more.  After a day or so passed by, Kagome entrusted the protection of the jewel to Inuyasha, who had decided to maintain his status as a hanyou.  After everyone (except Sesshoumaru and Kikyo) said their individual farewells to her and reminesced a little, Kagome returned back to her rightful era---this time for good.  With Kagome gone, Koga decided he didn't have any reason to stick around; everyone else decided to stay and see what Inuyasha was going to do with the jewel.

It was Shippo who heard the quiet words coming from Inuyasha's mouth: "Without Kagome around, what am I supposed to do---spend several centuries sitting around, waiting for the chance to see her again?  Letting boredom overwhelm me...that's just not my style.  I need an adventure, something to keep me occupied until the time comes.  I want to go someplace where I am needed, someplace where my actions can have an impact.  That's where I wish to go...good-bye, everyone.  You guys take care."

There was a loud rushing noise as the air where Inuyasha had been standing collapsed on itself, and a burst of flame as the jewel...the very jewel that so much damage had been inflicted over...disintegrated completely.

At the time, Sesshoumaru and Kikyo didn't believe that it would be the last they'd see of Inuyasha for several centuries.  It wasn't until some years later that they understood the extent of Inuyasha's wish: he'd been whisked away from this universe altogether.

~~~~

Location: The 21st century, Earth
Time: 1:47a.m.


The chubby teenager...one who couldn't really be called that anymore...looked bored as he glared at his computer screen.  I would love to know how those other guys do this, he thought.  Trying to write a crossover with yourself as one of the characters is not an easy thing to write.

Taking a moment to tear his eyes from the screen, he looked down at his alarm clock: 1:48a.m.  Wow, that long?  I wasn't even aware that I'd been up that long; I wonder how that episode of "Sanford and Son" turned out.  I'll try this again tomorrow after class.  Closing the file and shutting down the computer, he got into bed and fell asleep almost immediately.

Now, some people know that the strangest things are dreamt about while asleep.  Little did this person know, though, that he'd have a chance to live the dream and escape from reality...quite literally.

~~~~

Location: The world of Ceiphied and Shabranigdu
Time: Late morning


A small dark-haired boy sat halfway up a tree, humming to himself thoughtfully.  If his planning had gone the way he'd expected it to, then Lina Inverse ought to be passing by a nearby meadow in just a few short hours.  By the time he was done the entire world, not just that insignificant meadow, would be chaos and destruction incarnate.  The blame would be placed squarely on Inverse's shoulders, and the boy would have the last laugh as everything crumbled to nothing.

Reaching up, he yanked an apple off a nearby branch and began chewing it quietly.  He didn't really need to eat anything, but he decided to have something to take his mind off the strange headache he'd been having for the last minute or so...

Wait a minute.  Headache?  That doesn't make sense, Phibrizzo mused.  Unless inflicted by Rah Tilt or Elmekia Flame, mazoku don't get headaches.  Maybe everything I've been thinking about has been giving me the equivalent of a human headache.  It shouldn't surprise me; I'd been planning all this ever since I learned of how Inverse defeated the Red Priest and the fragment of Lord Ruby Eye.  He turned his thoughts inward to see if his suspicions were correct...

...and jerked upwards from his sitting position in shock at what he saw.  Deep inside the deepest recesses of his mind were two large, cubic chambers, each of them connected by a small corridor.  How those chambers got there, he had no idea; so, he tried to get rid of them by collapsing that part of his mind.  No chance.  This isn't good.

As the two unknown figures entered his mental line of sight, his eyes narrowed and he groaned audibly.  Intruders inside MY mind?  I can imagine my sister Dolphin's mind, but mine?  Better nip this one in the bud.

~~~~

Inuyasha wasn't too happy, of course.  Being stuck in a large, strange room with only a passageway leading to another room was not how he wanted that wish to be granted!  "I'd expected to be stuck somewhere in the middle of one of those foreign lands that Kagome used to go on about," he growled, "not confined someplace that a mapmaker couldn't find his way out of."  He forced himself to calm down before he lost his temper.

Now that he was a bit calmer, he took the time to study the place that he found himself in.  At least I got myself a room with a view, Inuyasha thought as he looked directly in front of him.  At the very front of the room was a scene full of leaves and tree branches; he'd already tried to exit that way, but found his escape route mysteriously blocked.  The chamber itself was about sixty feet wide (the same distance long) and was about fifteen feet high; the walls, ceiling, and floor were covered with a metallic sheen.  Along one wall were a series of odd devices and buttons that he didn't dare tamper with; he'd had enough problems with Kagome's "technology" to know that something usually went wrong when that happened.  In one corner was a glass pillar filled with a strange green liquid.

Finally, there was a door at the back of the room that led into a small corridor.  Investigating it, he found that it connected to another room of similar design; the difference was that there were numerous items that he recognized only from the occasional trips he'd made to Kagome's house.  Most of those items were situated on a massive "entertainment center" that rested on one side of the chamber.  In the center of the room was a chair that was permenantly attached to the ground.  Other than a large rug here at the back of the room, the room was also covered with metal and weird "technology".

"Huh," Inuyasha muttered aloud.  "Whoever made these rooms didn't have much of a decorative sense."

"You're telling me," someone nearby replied, the source of the voice coming from the chair.  Startling him, the chair spun around to face him and gave him a good view of who just spoke to him.  "It's as if all the artists of the world hated their paintings simultaneously."

"Who are you?" Inuyasha growled, keeping one hand near Tetsusaiga.

"Would you relax already?  I don't carry weapons with me," the person answered.  "Name's Curtis, and I can probably assume you're Inuyasha..."

Inuyasha glared at him suspiciously.  "And how do you know that?"

"Let's just say that your name's pretty popular back home and leave it at that," Curtis said, turning back around in his chair.  "What I can't figure out is how I got here.  Last thing I remember is falling asleep in bed..."  Thinking about it but giving up after a few seconds, he got up from the chair and approached Inuyasha.  "Oh, well.  As long as I'm here, I might as well just..."

While Curtis was talking, Inuyasha was eyeing a device [a loudspeaker, if he remembered correctly] in an upper corner of the room.  A small yellow light kept flicking on and off repeatedly, then flashed red.  That was all the warning the hanyou received before it happened...

"Whether you know what's good for you or not, get out of my head!"

~~~

Phibrizzo was pleased to see that both of the intruders were shocked right out of their conversation when they heard his mental scream.  His eyes unfocused, he continued to mentally concentrate on the scene within his head.  It took only a few seconds for the first intruder to react, unsheathing his sword [How'd he get that huge sword in that sheath?, he wondered] and immediately raising his guard.  He looked human yet canine at the same time, not at all unusual but not as common as such creatures were centuries ago.  The other intruder just looked around him, confused.  Typical human.  Looks like he swallowed a pillow.

"Who are you?" the dog/human snarled, his eyes narrowed.

"My name doesn't matter," Phibrizzo said quietly.  Slowly raising his voice, he continued: "What DOES matter is that I don't want you in here!  Get out!"

Although he couldn't collapse the chambers, the mazoku COULD force the two of them out.  Deciding on what approach to take, he decided that a heavy wind would do the trick; they didn't look like much, despite the huge sword.  Mentally bracing himself, he blasted the two of them with as powerful a force as he could manage.

He waited about twenty seconds into the typhoon, then examined the intruders.  The overweight human had somehow wrapped his arms and legs around the chair before being blown away, although his grip was slowly weakening.  The dog/human had jammed his sword into the ground and was facing the wind thoughtfully.  "Just leave!" Phibrizzo shouted.  "Don't bother resisting!"

The intruder's response surprised him: he freed the sword from the ground and raised it, smiling.  Sure, he was getting forced back; but he didn't seem to care.  "I'm not going anywhere, kid!" he shouted back.  "You like wind?  I'll give you all the wind you can handle and then some!  Wind Scar!"  With that, he slammed his sword into the ground just as the human lost his grip on the chair and was blown past him...

Phibrizzo hadn't thought that the "Wind Scar", as the intruder had called it, would do anything to him.

...A powerful jolt broke his concentration, increasing the intensity of the "headache" that the mazoku was having earlier.  Even though it wasn't physical, the mental shock made him feel as if he'd just gotten blasted by a triple-powered Rah Tilt.  Trying his best not to scream, Phibrizzo instead threw both hands onto his head and whimpered as loud as he could, his mind racing.  Stupid!  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

~~~

Inuyasha watched as the Wind Scar tore its way through the typhoon, scattering it but somehow leaving the floor undamaged.  Instead, his attack left four long, glowing lines on the floor.  These faded after several seconds...

The view outside abruptly changed, tilting downwards towards the base of a tree.  Very loud whimpering noises eminated from the speaker.

It occurred to him at this point what the kid had said earlier: "Get out of my head!"  "Now I get what the jewel did," Inuyasha muttered aloud.  "It must've dug out these chambers in the kid's mind and tossed me in here.  Wonder what he's in here for, though."

"I'm supposed to be asleep," Curtis told him, stumbling a little and making his way back to the chair.  "Maybe I've been asleep for a few hours and this is some sort of dream, or something.  Yeah, that's it.  Maybe I'm just dreaming this," he mumbled, sitting down in the chair and staring at the view outside.

"Believe what you want, kid," Inuyasha growled, sheathing Tetsusaiga.  "Now that I know we're inside some demented kid's head, I'm going to head back to the other chamber and see what all those things in there are for.  See ya."

~~~

As Inuyasha exited the chamber, Curtis took another look around.  His mind registered the fact that the chair rotated in whatever direction he turned his head; ignoring the whimpering noises that were slowly ceasing, he turned towards the television.  "I'm dreaming," he murmured again.  "Might as well make the most of it.  Now, how does that television work..."

The television flicked itself on, and a remote control materialized in Curtis's hand.  His eyebrows shot up.  "Cool.  I wonder..."

Following the path of the remote control, a cup holder appeared and attached to the chair's left armrest.  A large cup of strawberry soda followed suit, followed by Curtis's grin.  "If this is a dream, I'll give my alarm clock to someone else," he said aloud, flicking through the television channels until he reached a basketball game.

After several minutes it occurred to him that their host had stopped whimpering and was now groaning something.  The view outside had gone back to leaves and branches, although the direction was a bit off; Curtis noted this, but he was wondering something else now.  "You okay out there?"

~~~

I feel like my head's on fire, and he asks if I'm okay.  Stupid jerk.  "No, I'm not," Phibrizzo growled irritably, one hand still on his head and one eye locked in a mental staredown.  "Why are you doing this?  What do you two have to gain by rummaging around in my very essence?"

"You tell me," the fat human said, taking a sip of...whatever that stuff was.  "A little while ago, I was sleeping in my room.  Next thing I know, I'm in here."

"I don't believe you," Phibrizzo snarled.  "You're up to something.  No one gets into my head on accident, and those little rooms weren't there yesterday."

"You'd better believe it," the human told him, taking another drink.  "I ain't saying anything else on that subject."  He set the drink down and held up a small device, then did something with it that stopped the strange background noise.  "My name's Curtis.  Since I can't see your face from here, you'll have to tell me: who did I wind up with?"

Phibrizzo removed his hand from his head as the Wind Scar-induced headache finally subsided.  Thinking fast, he figured he'd respond to his question and judge from his reaction whether the human---Curtis---was telling the truth.  "Very well, then; I'll play along for now.  I am known as Phibrizzo."

Curtis's eyes widened, and his mouth fell open slightly.  An involuntary shudder played "Chopsticks" on his spine.  "Now I know I'm dreaming," he deadpanned.

-----

Over a speaker that hung in one corner of his own chamber, Inuyasha listened to the conversation between Curtis and Phibrizzo.  The former sounded surprised to be here (this Phibrizzo character must've been popular back where he's from, too, Inuyasha thought), but the hanyou tuned the rest of the conversation out as he contemplated the buttons on one side of the chamber.

Hmm...I never really got too acquainted with the "technology" back home in Kagome's era.  Maybe now's my chance to make up for it.  Inuyasha eyed some of the buttons.  Let's see.  'Look right'...'Look left'...'Blink'...'Sit down'...since I'm inside his head, I wonder if...

Cautiously, he reached out and pushed a button labeled 'Stand up'.

**

"So you honestly think you're really back home asleep and dreaming," Phibrizzo said, still slightly unnerved at having his mind attacked from within.  "What about your friend in the other room?  Is he asleep too?"

"Inuyasha hasn't told me."  Curtis took a sip from his drink; even from his point-of-view, his nerves looked jittery.  They had every right to be.  "All I know about him is that various stories titled after him are pretty popular.  That, and he's got a real mean sword."

Phibrizzo smiled thoughtfully.  "Interesting.  It appears formidable.  I wonder how well it would fare against the Sword of Lighwhhhaaa!"

Inexplicably, he had found himself jolted upright and standing on the branch that he had been sitting on just seconds prior.  What...?!  He placed one hand against the tree to steady himself.  Something's going on in there!

He immediately switched from Curtis's chamber to the dog/human Inuyasha's.  His eyes dilated.  Aw, don't tell me...

**

Inuyasha had a wide grin on his face as he observed the consequences of his action.  Okay, that's one.  Let's try the rest of them!

**

If anyone had walked by soon after, 'flabbergasted' wouldn't even begin to describe their reaction.  If Xellos had been there, he'd probably ask him to do it again just so he could laugh at him.

Phibrizzo was flipping around the forest without having any control of where he was going.  Every now and then he'd stop and blink rapidly, spin his head back and forth, hyperventilate, rotate his arms at high speed, do a rapid tap dance, flatten himself against the ground and teleport back to where he started---and all within 15 seconds; after that he would go through the whole procedure again, albeit not in the same order.  It didn't help that he was yelling the whole time.

During the fourth repetition, Phibrizzo finally stopped yelling and started thinking.  Can't...control where I'm going!  If Curtis's telling the truth, then why is that friend of his doing this?!  Those little parasites!

In the background faintly, he could hear the voices of said 'parasites'.  "Inuyasha..."

"What do you want?"

"I think we've disturbed him enough.  Quit pushing those buttons."

Inuyasha's voice sounded a bit snappish.  "Oh, go sit in your chair.  I'm having fun here."

The human got a bit exasparated.  "Inuyasha, please!"

A disappointed sigh.  "Suit yourself."

A split second later Phibrizzo regained complete control of everything he was, and he was finally able to resettle against the same tree---this time on the ground.  He was starting to get really irritated by now.  Proof of that was the dust that occupied the space where several trees had been before.

**

Curtis shook his head as he reentered his mind chamber and sat down in the chair.  "That guy sure knows how to ruin a conversation," he said, taking a large gulp of soda.  Out loud, he said: "As long as we're on the subject of the Sword of Light, where are we in this whole scheme of things?"

The response he got was as he expected, albeit a bit snappish.  "You mean my goals?  That's simple.  My goal is to cause a certain girl's Giga Slave to misfire and envelop the world in chaos.  I'm using a friend of hers to help accomplish this end."

"Hate to burst your bubble, but it ain't gonna work," Curtis said, shaking his head again.

Phibrizzo's voice turned haughty.  "And why not?"

"I'll tell you.  First off, I know which girl you're referring to; and she ain't gonna go down without a fight.  Second, a rival of Gourry's will show up seeking to duel him.  While he's doing this, Lina uses the Ragna Blade and slices off the disguise.  Straightforward and simple."

A touch of scorn.  "Yeah, right.  How do you know all this, anyway?  Or is it just something that'll come about because of your interference?"

"Remember those stories I told you about earlier?" Curtis asked, picking up the television remote and turning the television back on.  "You're one of the characters in it.  It basically details how you're planning to destroy the planet, and I know the story inside and out.  Said story includes," he said, smiling a little, "how you're gonna get offed eventually anyway without getting what you want."

Out the corner of his eye, Curtis could tell when Phibrizzo's point-of-view changed of his own accord.  Must've sat up suddenly.  "Was it something I said, or---"

"Tell me more later," Phibrizzo snapped.  "Lina Inverse's coming, and she's ahead of schedule."

"Who's this Lina Inverse?" Inuyasha asked over the speaker.

"You'll find out when she gets there," Curtis told him.  "Might as well settle down.  This may take a little while."  He flipped through the channels until he reached a familiar show, then leaned back into his chair and finished the rest of his soda.

**

LOCATION: Phibrizzo's palace, Sairaag
TIME: That evening

The battle went as Curtis had told him it would; a swordsman with a pointed hat showed up and ruined everything...except for his contingency plan.  After teleporting Gourry to his newfound lair at Sairaag and encasing him in crystal, Phibrizzo sat back in his chair---also made of crystal---and 'gently' prodded Curtis for further details as the hours wore on.

Of course, the mazoku didn't let himself be surprised by Curtis's claims.  The occasional reports given him by Xellos had also stated as much, although the human shouldn't have known any of it.  Maybe those stories about him back at wherever the parasite originated were true, after all.  And he continued thinking this...until Curtis made a rather shocking remark.

"WHAT?!?  You're kidding me!  The Lord of Nightmares takes over Inverse and uses her to destroy me?!  No!"

"Oh, that's good news," Inuyasha growled.  "What about us?"

"We'll talk about that in just a bit," Curtis told him.  He would've said more...

...but Phibrizzo's protests interrupted him.  "Don't you two understand?!  If she destroys me before my plans come to pass, everything will be for naught!"  I'll have to come up with some sort of backup plan in case she shows up, and fast!

**

Inuyasha was familiar with the plans of madmen, whether they looked like kids or not.  That was why he had continued to examine the buttons and various controls in his chamber throughout the discussion, stopping only to deliver an occasional sarcastic remark.

On the far side of the chamber near the pillar of green liquid, there was a solitary button labeled "Switch".  Right below it on the floor was a large white 'O'; Inuyasha had found himself standing there while he had conducted his search.

Only half-listening to Phibrizzo's ravings, he considered what the word "Switch" could mean.  It's a puzzle in itself.  He shrugged.  Only thing to do is to give it a try.  Hesitating for the briefest of moments, he raised one hand and pressed the button.

For the briefest of moments, Inuyasha blacked out.  When he came to, he looked around him.  His eyes saw the wide expanse of crystal and rock.  Great; I'm not in that room anymore.  Must be on the outside now.  About time; that room was getting cramped.  Glad it was worth the risk.

This line of thinking, needless to say, didn't last long.  After a couple moments his gaze met with a reflective surface of crystal.  It only took him a few seconds to realize that despite the fact that he was fully aware of his surroundings, he still looked like a kid.

A kid?!

"This is really stupid!"

**

Hearing the shout, Curtis jerked his head over to where the 'viewport' (as he called it) was.  Gasping in surprise, he turned around and exited the chamber on a beeline for Inuyasha's.  What he found was only another surprise in a day full of them.

Inuyasha was gone----and in the tube of green liquid floated a very distraught and angry mazoku.  Thankfully----or not so thankfully, depending on your point of view----Curtis could still hear his voice through the thick glass.  "What did that stupid dog do this time?!  And let me out of here!"

"Oh, come off it," Curtis shouted back.  "I'd be doing the same thing in his situation."  He turned back towards the viewport, smiling as he caught a glimpse of a reflection in the expanse of crystal.  "Although he looks pretty cool, now.  He must've found out what that 'Switch' button does."

What the button did was 'switch' the positions of Phibrizzo and Inuyasha around.  The hanyou was now in control of Phibrizzo's body, although there were some subtle differences: the hair was now white, the eyes were those of Inuyasha's, and the Tetsusaiga now hung at his side.

"The wonders of technology," Curtis murmured, watching as Inuyasha unsheathed the sword and re-tested the Wind Scar just to let off some steam.  "Just how crazy is this dream supposed to get, anyway?"

"Crazy?!  Crazy?!  Let me out of here or I'll give you crazy, you stupid human!"

Curtis sighed.  "Inuyasha, you'd better get back in here.  The psycho wants control back."

The mazoku's left eye twitched.  "Psycho?  You're really pushing it..."

Inuyasha's voice stopped him from saying anything else.  "I can't!  I don't know how!"

Think fast, Curtis!  "Um...just try to imagine switching back!  Say the word 'switch' over and over if that helps!"

"I'll go the 'imagine' route, thank you," Inuyasha growled.

After a brief pause, Inuyasha reappeared inside the chamber.  A split second later, Phibrizzo disappeared.  "That's much better," his voice said calmly.  "Now don't do that again."

Curtis tilted his head slightly.  "You're mad, aren't you?"

"Someone put a shark's tooth in my shirt," Phibrizzo murmured, registering a 9 on the Sarcasm Meter.  "Yes, I'm mad, Mr. Obvious!"

Inuyasha agreed.  "Yeah.  Is it me, or do you just have trouble talking?"

There was a soft thud, meaning that Phibrizzo had sat down again.  "Don't bother me right now.  I got stuff to think about."  The light on the chamber's speaker dimmed, and all was quiet.

Shrugging his shoulders but staying silent, Curtis ambled back towards the exit.  Turning his head slightly, he matched gazes with Inuyasha; the hanyou was watching him cautiously.  Motioning towards the exit, he stepped on through.  After a second's hesitation, Inuyasha decided to follow him and see what was going on.

-------

"Okay, I'm here," said Inuyasha, folding his arms and staring into Curtis's eyes. "What do you want?"

The two of them were standing in the passageway between the two mind chambers following the hanyou's all-too brief experience as a child-sized mazoku. At some point between the time they had first arrived inside Phibrizzo's mind and when they arrived at his palace, Curtis had determined that their host would not be able to hear them when they stepped into the short corridor. And now, they were going to discuss what their future was going to be.

"You heard what he has in mind," Curtis replied. "He's planning to use Lina to destroy the world, and probably himself along with it. If those stories and shows I've seen are any indication, it'll backfire and fry just him instead. Either way, it's a lose-lose situation for us."

"So basically we're doomed. Is that what you're saying?"

"Yeah, pretty much...unless we do something about it."

Inuyasha's ears perked up a bit. "I'll say it again: what do you want?"

"Well, there are a few ideas. For instance, one of us could switch places with Phibrizzo and let Gourry go free when Lina and her friends show up. Or when he starts antagonizing them, you can use the Wind Scar to change his mind."

"Nah. We really don't know how that works, don't we? And besides, even if we did release him, Phibrizzo would probably just imprison him again if we ever let him regain control. Lastly, using the Wind Scar repeatedly really tires me out after a while."

"Wow. Good point." Curtis lowered his head. "Well, so much for those ideas...man, I wish I could just wake up from this crazy dream!" he exclaimed, hands trembling in frustration.

Inuyasha smirked. "Can't be of any help to you there, kid...but maybe you could climb to the top of your bookshelf and jump off. Perhaps you'd wake up before you fell---"

"Wait a second," Curtis interrupted, the wheels in his own mind turning. "Dream...nightmare...I've got it!"

"Got what?"

"I believe I know of someone who could get us out of this tacky situation, but it'll be pretty risky. You willing to chance it?"

There was a few seconds pause, but those few seconds were all that Inuyasha needed to make a decision. "Alright, I'm game. Let's go for it. What's the plan?"

-----------

Time: Sometime after midnight

Several hours had passed since the incident where Inuyasha had somehow taken control of his body---no doubt because of those...things hidden inside his mind. Even now, Phibrizzo was still thinking about the long conversation he had with Curtis earlier. If the Lord of Nightmares really will appear on this world, maybe there's an alternative to disrupting the Giga Slave...wait a second. Why am I believing what a HUMAN is telling me? For all I now, this could all be part of some sort of plot.

Phibrizzo shook his head. Wait a second. No one knows who I really am except for Xellos, Lina and her friends, and my remaining siblings. Xellos isn't fool enough to try this sort of stunt; sure, he's a bit weird, but he's no idiot. Neither Inverse, the chimera, the rival swordsman, the two princesses nor the maiden could have known how to get inside my mind; there's no way a human should be capable of this. Dolphin's more or less resigned to stay loony. Zelas and Dynast are both happy doing whatever they're doing now. That only leaves one choice open: believing that wherever Curtis's from, we're nothing more than works of fiction. It DOES explain how he knew how I met Inverse, the lousy experiences that followed shortly afterward, and the fiasco at the Katharto Mountains in such detail.

But is he really dreaming, as he says? That's what I want to know. If that's the case, then perhaps nothing he does now will have any lasting effect. He could probably be content just to sit around, watch the goings-on, and listen to that strange music like he's doing now. And that dog man, Inuyasha, could come in handy if I feel like catching my enemies by surprise. If his Wind Scar gave me that serious of a headache, I wonder what kind of damage it would do in open combat? I suppose I overlooked the benefits of his presence, even if I still don't know how HE came here.

That still leaves the problem of the Lord of Nightmares. Unless I can bring everything else down with me, I don't want my plans turned on me. And if the timetable that Curtis gave me is correct, Inverse will be arriving sometime today! What can I do? How can I salvage the situation?

Phibrizzo turned his thoughts inward, checking on the inhabitants of his mind. Inuyasha appeared to be asleep against the wall, although his ears still twitched at some unheard sound. In the other chamber, Curtis was...what was he doing?

Taking a closer look, he noted that the chubby human was still listening to that strange music. Now that he was playing closer attention, he also heard various sounds accompanying it. Curtis was sitting in that chair again, but now he was facing the source of the music and sounds...some sort of bright image? Was this another one of those things that found its way inside his head?

After a few minutes, Phibrizzo decided to speak up. "May I ask what that is?"

Curtis turned his head. "Hi. Am I bothering you any?"

"I'm still thinking about things, but I'll admit to being curious about what that thing is in there. What's that supposed to be?"

The human appeared to think about it for several seconds. "I'm not sure if I can explain, but I'll try. Imagine that you're watching a play, and you can see it clearly even from many miles away. Now, imagine that you're able to watch it days, months, or even years after it's ended. You get the idea?"

I remember what people possessed before the War of the Monsters' Fall, but there was nothing like that. Hmm... "Maybe...what sort of play are you watching now?"

"Well, it's not really a play, per se. Remember how I told you all the details of the past few days before you met us? This is how I knew it so well. For instance, the last few minutes I've been rewatching a scene where Lina blows up a cave just because everyone there heard her sing for nothing. Quite amusing, really."

Focusing a bit more on the image, Phibrizzo didn't say anything. While seeing it, he was reminded of Xellos's account of the experience. And right in front of Curtis was the proof that the account was real! So he isn't a saboteur of some kind after all. And those costumes...no wonder Xellos was laughing so hard when he told me! Must've been really embarrassing for Inverse!

After a few seconds, Phibrizzo spoke again. "I guess you're going to be right about what will happen if I provoke Lina too much. I'm going to have to find another way."

"To wreck the world?" Curtis asked accusingly. "That is what you want, right?"

"I'm a mazoku, Curtis," Phibrizzo retorted, folding his arms reflexively. "It's what I do, and it's what I seek. All of my kind's like that."

"I wonder why." Curtis held up a small device and pressed something on it, causing the background noise to stop. "I mean, if I know my history right, you guys and the dragons have been clashing for a few thousand years. Neither race has made any headway, especially with that barrier in the way. What's up with that?"

Phibrizzo frowned. "That thing's just there to keep the dragons from coming in, and the humans from going out. We'll beat our enemies in due time. It'll come eventually."

"Except that the barrier's not going to be as strong as it was before," Curtis answered. "If they combined their strengths, they should be able to punch through."

The frown changed to a grin. "What makes you say that?"

"Remember, you and your siblings were the ones maintaining the barrier; and Gaav was one of them. With him out of the picture, it's been weakened somewhat."

The grin disappeared, but Curtis kept going. "And for the sake of argument, suppose Lina decides she wants through. If she somehow recovered the Sword of Light and combined the Ragna Blade with it, she may very well be able to smash through on her own. In short: hello-o-o-o, dragon frenzy."

Phibrizzo's eyes narrowed. "The Ragna Blade...it's that thing she used against Gaav, wasn't it?"

"Yep. That's the one. Supposed to be able to cut through dimensions."

If it was possible, Phibrizzo would've sunk deeper into his throne; instead he sat back against an armrest, stuck his feet up on the other, and leaned his head against a propped-up hand. "You really have a way of taking the wind out of my sails. Alright, smart guy. You seem to have an answer for everything. How do you suggest I survive an encounter with the Lord of Nightmares?"

Curtis's chair turned to face where his voice entered the chamber. "Well, Phibrizzo, here's what I'm---"

Abruptly, Curtis disappeared. Snapped out of the conversation, Phibrizzo couldn't do anything but blink. But before he could say anything in surprise, Curtis abruptly reappeared inside the mind chamber; the human looked somewhat disoriented, but otherwise okay.

"What was that about?" Phibrizzo muttered.

"Um...how long was I gone?" Curtis inquired.

"About five seconds," the mazoku informed him. "Why'd you surprise me like that?"

"That's funny...I woke up, and I was back home in bed," Curtis murmured, tapping his chin thoughtfully. "I went through my day like usual, then went back to sleep again. And now, here I am..." he shrugged. "Oh, well. Ain't gonna argue. Now, where were we?"

"You were about to tell me how I can keep the Lord of Nightmares from frying me," Phibrizzo answered, his eyes narrowing.

"Oh. Right," Curtis said, scratching his head. "I remember now. Anyhow, here we go..."

--------

Phibrizzo's eyes widened a bit at Curtis's suggestion.  Why anyone would suggest such a thing to him---to him---was utterly absurd.  Why even bother?  Following through on this idea would mean that he would have to leave everything he knew behind.  Granted it wasn't much; the only keepsake he had was a metallic bracelet left over from some prior event, and he was never too fond of his surroundings.  The fact remained nonetheless that he wanted to stay where he was.

And yet if he went through on his plans... "Go on," Phibrizzo urged reluctantly.  "Just how do you propose we accomplish this...'ultra-dimensional teleportation'?"

"First off, you do what you were originally planning on doing," Curtis told him with steel in his voice.  "You drive Lina to desperation and force her to resort to the Giga Slave."

Phibrizzo blinked.  "I'm not sure I get it.  You're asking me to do what you basically told me not to do."

"I changed my mind.  Like I said to you earlier: the Lord of Nightmares shows up right after Lina gets desperate to rescue Gourry and preparations for the Giga Slave are complete.  I'm planning on having her send us on our way."

There was a pause as Phibrizzo considered the implications of this; such a manuever would be extremely risky.  After a few moments of thoughtful silence, he decided that it would be worth the risk...hopefully.  "Go on..."

"She'll know something is wrong when either Inuyasha or myself switch places with you and ask to talk to her.  Chances are she'll be willing to help us out; to her, having you exiled to another universe will be just as good as wiping you out altogether, since it'll accomplish the same means of saving Gourry.  Even if it isn't as good, I'll talk to her.  I understand what we're getting into, but it's pretty much the only chance we've got."

"You really think its worth a try, huh?" Phibrizzo murmured, turning over and staring upwards.  "I don't know why I'm trusting you with this.  I'm probably making the biggest mistake in my race's history...but all right.  Now, you said Inverse was coming tonight, right?  Not 'tonight' as in 'this night', but tonight as in...well, you know what I mean."

"Yeah.  They'll make an attempt to enter the palace during the day, fail in a very comical way, then succeed during the night."  There was a brief pause.  "I don't have much else to do until then, so I'm just going to sit back and rewatch some the material I've recollected here.  Whether you want to watch or not at some point is up to you."

Phibrizzo nodded, and continued staring at the ceiling.  Very soon, he and his unwitting companions would be blasted clear into another universe...if things went the way the chubby human seemed to think they would go.  And if they didn't...well, he'd see firsthand soon enough.

The mazoku didn't even bother trying to wipe away the silver drop that brimmed on the edge of one eye, even though his race weren't supposed to possess such things.

Very soon.

------

Just as Curtis said, Lina Inverse and two others---the priestess and the rival swordsman---were able to penetrate the palace's outer wall and enter the crystal throne room.  For the sake of appearances, Phibrizzo kept up the act until Lina finally started to gather power into her hands.  Smiling outwardly, he directed a minor blast into that point and caused a tremendous explosion.

When the dust cleared away, Lina was still there---only she was shining gold; and when Phibrizzo questioned her, the voice that spoke to him wasn't entirely her own.

She had arrived.

Tensing himself, Phibrizzo turned his thoughts inwards.  Alright, you two.  If you're going to do this, now's the time!

He wasn't sure whether to be relieved or nervous when he saw Inuyasha step forward and press that button.

------

She knew what she had come here to do.  She knew that the one known as Gourry Gabriev was to be restored.  She knew and expected that Phibrizzo would attempt to oppose her.

What she didn't expect was that there was someone else in the area: one that was keeping the aforementioned mazoku from attacking her outright.  And it wasn't until the change occurred that she finally noticed that Phibrizzo was not entirely himself.

"So you're the Lord of Nightmares, huh?" the voice of Phibrizzo uttered.  "Pleasure to meet you at last."

There was a short pause as her power cascaded around her, destroying portions of the domed palace.  She stared at the person that stood before her, studying him intently.  "You aren't the one I'm seeking to destroy," she finally intoned.  "Who are you?"

"My name's Inuyasha," 'Phibrizzo' said, folding his arms away from the sword that he now possessed.  "We seem to have encountered a slight problem, and I think your intended target's not very happy about it."

Focusing a little, she could faintly hear a child's voice say: "That's an understatement, dog boy."  This was followed quickly by another voice that replied: "You really know how to tick off the hanyou..."  Further concentration revealed two rooms where her target was trapped, plus a human who watched the proceedings nervously.  Interesting...

Finally, she spoke.  "Continue, please."

"See, my associate Curtis and I are more or less permenantly stuck inside this little psycho's head.  We know what Lina wants you to do, but destroying Phibrizzo takes us out at the same time.  If you don't mind, I'd much rather stay alive and see another day."

There was another pause.  "I don't see why I have to listen.  When Lina Inverse brought me here, she had two intentions: to defeat Phibrizzo, and to rescue the one known as Gourry.  I must accomplish those goals."

After a second or so, there was another change.  This time, the eyes changed to those of a human's; the hair turned brown, the sword disappeared, and the figure's waistline expanded slightly.  She knew that she was now confronting the human, "Curtis" this time.  So they can assume control at any time.  I wonder just how long this has been in effect.

"Actually, I have a proposition for you," the human, still with Phibrizzo's voice, told her.  "You don't suppose you would mind transferring us to another universe altogether?"

Transfer between universes?  That's an odd request.  "You know I don't need to listen to you.  Why should I do this?"

"Reason #1: putting Phibrizzo---and us---into another universe would probably sever his connections with this world, and he would no longer be able to keep Gourry and the others imprisoned.  That's one goal accomplished.  At the same time, transferring him there when there's nothing he can really do about it would still qualify as a defeat.  That's two goals.  The second reason: Inuyasha and I would really like to stay alive.  We were both brought into this more or less on accident, but we would stay like to stay within Phibrizzo's mind."

They seem to be legitimate reasons, and their intentions are good.  "Very well, then.  Be warned, though: once Phibrizzo is transferred, you can expect no further help from me.  The process is completely random, and all connections to this world will shatter like you stated.  That means that you and the others will be out of my reach completely.  Do you understand?"

"Curtis" nodded.  "We talked it over, and we decided to chance it.  You'll be able to do this, then?"

"Indeed.  Be thankful, though; if it weren't for the memories I absorbed from Inverse, this wouldn't be taking place."

Curtis shrugged.  "Whichever's the case, thank you."

You're more than welcome.  Although I won't be there to see it, knowing that the two of you will be reshaping his demented views pleases me.  Raising the hand that didn't have the black sphere hovering above it, she zapped Phibrizzo (Or the human; it really depends, she mused) with a sphere of yellow light.  She could feel the crystal prisons of the humans behind her destabalizing, releasing their captives.  Over the course of twenty seconds her target faded and disappeared, not even leaving cursory traces behind.

Hearing a startled gasp behind her, she slowly turned and prepared herself for the explanation that was to follow.

--------

The shockwave of displaced energy that marked Phibrizzo's disappearance rippled across the entire planet.  It was not enough to do any harm to anyone, but it left its mark wherever it went.

With two of the five primary energies gone, the barrier that had stood since the War of the Monsters' Fall trembled and collapsed.

Several races of dragons felt the disturbance and sent their fastest scouts to investigate what transpired.  By the time they reached the area, however, everyone had left for other locales.

And elsewhere, a waitress figured that someone would be paying her a visit sometime in the next year or so.  She shrugged and went about her business, wondering briefly if her wayward sister had something to do with it.

--------

Many miles away in a hidden palace, an aqua-haired young woman floated within the clutches of insanity.  Her eyes were wide open, seeing blackness where marble walls were standing.  She muttered and shouted sayings that she could not hear.

The wave of energy rolled through the palace.  When it reached the woman, something about it seemed to soothe her heart and mind.  Slowly but surely, whatever had been troubling her for centuries disappeared.  As it did so she collapsed on the floor, the exhaustion of many a rant overcoming her as the shockwave moved on.

And for possibly the first time in her life, the mazoku dreamed.

--------

It was not pleasant being surrounded by pitch blackness.

As it was, another switch had violently taken place when the Lord of Nightmares' blast initiated the transfer.  Phibrizzo had regained control, and Curtis had been forcefully thrown out of the "Switch" area and nearly clear into the hallway.  Earlier, after giving control to Curtis, Inuyasha had stepped clear; but this didn't stop him from needing to jam Tetsusaiga into the ground.  He wanted to be awake when things started happening again, and being blown away wouldn't help at all.

As for Phibrizzo himself, the unhappy mazoku had lost consciousness immediately; this caused the blackness.  Although there wasn't any way to tell what time it was, Inuyasha felt that it had to have been at least a half-hour since it started.  Finally getting upset, he yelled: "I can't see!  Where're the stupid lights already?!"

The metallic ceiling panels started glowing a soft white, surprising Inuyasha for a second.  Not what I had in mind, but it'll do, Inuyasha thought.  At least now I can see.

Looking outside, he confirmed that it was still dark.  He could hear some voices outside, so that must mean Phibrizzo's hearing was functional.  Stepping closer to the viewport, he strained his ears so he could tell who was talking.

"Hey!  Is he okay?"  "There's another one over there!"  "This must've happened at the same time."  "I wonder who did this?"  "Wake up, kid.  Are you alright?"

Apprehensively, he loosened the Tetsusaiga from the ground and sheathed it, then walked over to the panel of buttons on the wall.  "Better 'wake up, kid'," Inuyasha growled, pushing a button labeled 'Wakeup Call'.

The exterior view began to brighten, and Inuyasha walked over to see if Curtis was watching this.  After confirming that the human hadn't been jarred into the same unconsciousness Phibrizzo had been under, he gazed outside and started wondering what random universe the Lord of Nightmares had placed them in...