"Malfunction" By: Lauren

Author’s Note: Sorry this took so long! I can be very lazy sometimes, especially during summer...^__^;;;;;

I shoved a spiral-eyed Hare off of me, then pulled myself out of the pile of dazed humans and monsters.

My name is Pixie. Big Blue, Thorn, the Searchers and I had just narrowly escaped being toasted by Moo’s Inferno. Moo had regained his ancient body; I couldn’t believe the size of it. Moo had been powerful before...he was virtually unstoppable now.

“Ow!” Hare exclaimed as he hit the floor, tail first. He quickly sprang to his feet and dusted himself off, then looked all around, squinting into the shadows surrounding us. “Where are we?”

“Who cares?” Suezo asked, the words coming out somewhat garbled. A glance in his direction was enough to see why. He was using his tongue to tug at his tail, which was trapped beneath Golem. “Just as long as we’re away from Moo.”

The stone giant sat up just as Suezo gave his tail one forceful tug, and the eyeball went rolling backwards across the floor. Golem blinked, then looked down at the man he held in his arms. He glanced over his shoulder as someone groaned above him.

Tiger slowly opened his eyes, stood and shook himself off, then leaped down from the top of the pile. Holly, who had ended up stuck between him, Genki and Mocchi, now managed to free herself. She took one look at who Golem was holding, then gasped and ran to his side.

“Daddy!” She gave her father a quick hug, despite him being unconscious. She looked up, eyes watery, and said to no one in particular, “I thought I’d never see him again...”

The tender moment was broken by another groan as Genki woke up. “Hey, Mocchi, are you alright?” he asked.


Suddenly the two of them began to rise slowly into the air, and they began looking around quickly, trying to figure out what was going on. Finally they realized just what they were sitting on and hastily scrambled off as Big Blue stood.

“You okay, Blue?” I asked.

He nodded, then looked down at Thorn. That fall couldn’t have been good for her...but she seemed to be alright. She was breathing steadily, and her injuries hadn’t gotten any worse....but she had passed out again.

“Welcome to my lab! Bwahahahaha!”

Artificial lights clicked on just as everyone turned to stare.

“I’ve always wanted to say that,” Irene explained sheepishly, squirming under our gaze.

“Who are you?” Tiger asked suspiciously.

“Relax, Tiger,” Hare said. “Whoever she is, she isn’t a baddie.”

“Yeah? Well, that doesn’t necessarily make her a goodie, no, does it?” Tiger snarled.

“I’m Irene,” Irene said. “I’m an old friend of Thorn’s. And no, I’m not a baddie, or a goodie. But I will help you.”

“Okay, then!” Genki exclaimed. “I’m Genki, and this is Holly, Suezo, Mocchi, Tiger, Hare, Golem, Pix-”

I cut him off. “We’ve met.”

“Hmm?” Irene looked at me quizzically for a moment, then suddenly seemed to realize something. “Oh, you’re still mad about the labyrinth! You don’t have to worry, I don’t feel like testing out any of my labyrinths today.”

How reassuring...she’d probably come up with something worse.

“We’re on a journey to find the Phoenix and beat Moo!” Genki shouted as though there had been no interruption.

Irene smiled. “Maybe I could help you there, too...but first, why don’t you let me heal your friends?”

Genki looked back at Holly’s father and Thorn, then turned to Irene and nodded. “Okay.”

“Are you sure we should be trusting her, Genki?” asked Tiger.

“Of course I’m sure!”

“I don’t know, kid. Something about her just doesn’t smell right.” He turned to Irene. “What kind of Pixie are you, anyway?”

“Oh, I’m half-human.” Irene smiled. “That’s probably why I don’t smell right...you don’t see too many half-bloods around. In fact, I’m not even sure if it’s possible for half-bloods to occur naturally...but, anyway, they know I’m trustworthy.” She indicated Big Blue and I.

“She did help us once before...if you can really call that help,” I said. Irene had saved us from those Knight Mocchis...but she had also nearly gotten us killed in her labyrinth.

“Look, I’m sorry about the labyrinth – I know it was a little childish of me. I’m not going to do anything like that now.” Irene let a moment of silence go by. “Well, are you going to let me heal them? They look like they need it.”

“Sure,” Genki said, nodding. “Thanks a lot.”

“I haven’t done anything yet.” Irene flew over to Holly’s father first, and gently placed her hands on him. For a moment she glowed a burnished gold, then the glow flowed through her hands into Holly’s father and faded away. Irene looked up at Holly, almost sadly. “Refreshment can only heal physical wounds. I hope it’s enough.” Before Holly could reply, Irene flew over to Big Blue, who was protectively holding Thorn.

“C’mon, big guy,” Irene said. “I have to get near her if I’m going to heal her.”

Blue glanced at me questioningly. I nodded. I’d trust Irene to heal Thorn. But beyond that...

Big Blue lowered his arms, and Irene quickly used her Refreshment. “She should wake up in just a-”

Irene was cut off when Thorn groaned and opened her eyes. “How come the ground closed up after we fell through? Is that supposed to happen?”

I sighed. Thorn was back to normal.

“Well, I can’t just leave a big hole in my roof, now can I?” Irene replied.

Thorn blinked, then turned her head to see Irene hovering above her. “Oh, hi, Irene. I guess you’re right about that.” She looked all around, but somehow it seemed like she didn’t expect to find whatever it was she was looking for. Finally, she looked up at me. “Methigras...?”

I shook my head. Thorn turned away.

“Do ya think he might still make it here?” she asked, her voice small.

No one answered. I got the feeling that she already knew what the answer would be. I half-expected Genki to run over and shout “Of course he will!”, but the Searchers were preoccupied with matters of their own. It seemed Holly’s father was just beginning to stir...

“Too much to hope for, huh?”

I looked back at Thorn, just as she began struggling to get out of the blanket that had been wrapped around her.

It was a fierce battle. Thorn struggled wildly, but the blanket held fast. Finally, Thorn lay back in Big Blue’s arms, the blanket, if anything, wrapped more tightly around her than it had been before.

“Um...could ya put me down, Big Blue? And get the blanket off me?”

Irene giggled. “One of the most powerful monsters in the world, defeated by a mere blanket...what’s next?”

Irene just narrowly avoided getting hit by an umbrella that appeared out of nowhere. Apparently being trapped in a blanket was one of the few things that could stop Thorn from being cheerful.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Big Blue asked.

Thorn nodded. “Yeah. I don’t think the wound’s even there anymore.” She looked over at Irene. “Thanks, Irene. I didn’t hit ya with that umbrella, did I?”

Irene shook her head. “No. But your aim is getting better.”

Big Blue gently placed Thorn on the ground, and helped her out of the blanket. The moment she was free she leapt to her feet. I watched her closely, but she seemed fine. In fact, it almost seemed that she hadn’t been hurt at all.


I snapped my head around at the sound of Holly’s voice. Golem had put Holly’s father down, but he hadn’t done as well as Thorn and was in the middle of stumbling. Holly caught him under one arm. Thorn rushed over and caught him under the other.

“Daddy, are you alright?”

“Are ya okay?”

Holly and Thorn asked simultaneously.

Holly’s father struggled to get his footing once more. “I’ll be fine...I think.”

“It might take ya a while to get used to walking again,” Thorn said. “Actually, it might take ya a little while to get used to everything again. Ya must be feeling really weird, after being possessed for so long...but ya probably don’t want to think about that,” she added quickly.

He looked at her for a long time, as though struggling to remember something. “You’re Nemesis?” he asked at last.

Thorn shook her head. “Was Nemesis. Now I’m Thorn. Who are ya?”

“My name is Yosho...I’m sorry.”

Thorn blinked, looking genuinely confused. “Sorry? What’re ya sorry for?”

“For what he made me do...to you...” He turned and looked all around the lab. “...and to all of you.”

Thorn smiled. “If ya know anything about me, ya know I’d be the last person to blame ya for something like that.”

“Yeah! It wasn’t your fault; it was Moo who did all that!” Genki shouted.

“Moo is evil. You are not,” said Golem.

“Yeah, so cheer up a little,” Suezo put in.

“Chi!” agreed Mocchi.

“But I was still the one who released him...I should have been able to fight him, anything...”

“Daddy...” Holly threw her arms around him. “I’m just glad to have you back.”

Yosho looked surprised by the hug, as if at first he couldn’t remember what it was, or how he was supposed to react. Then slowly he put his arms around his daughter, and held her like he was afraid to let go. “Holly...”

For a moment, I thought I saw tears glistening in his eyes.

“Oh, how sweet,” said a voice from the shadows, dripping with insincerity.

Tiger turned and growled in its general direction. The others reacted similarly.

“I really hate to break up the little family reunion,” Lilim continued as she stepped into the light. “But I think there’s something you ought to see.”

Lilim? She had gotten her revenge on Naga. What did she want from us?

Tiger tensed as Lilim began typing on one of the many keyboards arrayed around the room.

“You work for Moo,” he snarled.

Lilim continued typing.

“Hey!” Genki exclaimed. “You’re the one who finished off Naga!”

“That’s right,” Lilim replied, her eyes still on the screen. It cast a strange glow across her face. “Moo thinks I died when the lair collapsed. I’d like to keep it that way.” She cursed under her breath as the computer refused to cooperate.

“How come, chi?”

“Because if I’m not dead, it will mean I failed. And that way, Moo will want me dead.”

The computer screen turned completely blue, with tiny white writing in its center.

“Grr!” Lilim took a step back and Heel Raided the machine, then calmly stepped to the side as an image began to appear on the screen.

A conical cavern, with strange symbols and passageways carved through it. Smoke billowed lazily upwards, and a deep red glow pulsated through everything. Lava and molten rock flowed sluggishly at the bottom of the screen. It was the inside of a volcano. But why show us this?

“What the-?” Holly gasped. “The Magic Stone!”

It was glowing crimson and floating level with the girl’s eyes, which were widened in shock. Without her having to do anything, the image of the Phoenix appeared within the stone, pointing towards the volcano.

“Well, whaddaya know,” Hare said. “I think the stone is telling us that the Phoenix is in that volcano.”

“Brilliant, Hare, but how are we going to get inside?” asked Tiger.

“Simple,” Hare replied. Everyone looked at him expectantly, waiting for his answer. “I’ll think of something.”

Everyone groaned, as if on cue.

Genki looked over to where Lilim had last been, but found only shadows. He turned to Irene instead. “Irene, tell us how to get there,” he said, determined.

“Okay.” Irene nodded. “Go down that corridor, then go leftrightleftleftrightleftrightrightrightleftleftright. From there, it’s the first elevator on the left.”

“Could ya say that a little faster?” Thorn asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve never tried.”

“Ho boy,” Suezo said under his breath. “Maybe you should just show us the way.”

Irene shrugged. “If that’s what you want. Come on.”

She led us down a maze of corridors, all lined with odd-looking gizmos and machinery. She didn’t even need to design labyrinths – her lab looked hard enough to find a way through.

I took us quite a while to get to our destination, mostly because Thorn felt the need to stop every five seconds and ask “What’s that?” about some random object she saw. The instant she did, Irene would need to stop and give a highly detailed explanation. Before she could even finish talking, Thorn had already asked about twenty or so other things.

But finally we did reach the elevator. Amazingly, all of us managed to fit comfortably inside it.

“Buh-bye!” Irene said, waving as the metal doors slid shut. Good riddance. “Oh, and did I mention that you’ll have to find a way out on your own?”

“What? You mean you won’t let us come back here?” asked Genki incredulously.

Silence. Either we were out of earshot, or Irene was ignoring us. It was probably the latter.

“What did I tell you?” said Tiger. “I knew she wasn’t trustworthy. Something about her just didn’t smell right.”

“We’ll just have to find some other way...” said Yosho.

The elevator came slowly to a stop, and the doors slid silently open.

As we stepped out, the first thing I noticed was the heat. It was like stepping from winter into summer, without the usual spring in between. The walls of the tunnel we found ourselves in seemed unnaturally smooth, as if someone or something had carved them intentionally.

“So, Holly, which way to the Phoenix?” Genki asked eagerly.

Holly checked the Magic Stone, which seemed to have begun glowing a faint red since we entered here. But the light given off by the lava made everything seem to glow.

“Straight ahead,” Holly replied.

Genki opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off by Suezo.

“Hey, look at this!”

I looked over my shoulder at the eyeball monster. He was standing by the doors to the elevator...only the doors weren’t there anymore.

“Hmm...” Hare stepped over to the rock which had replaced them and gave it a thorough examination. “It would seem Irene wasn’t kidding when she said we couldn’t come back this way. There’s no way we could get through all this rock.”

“Who cares about Irene?” Genki demanded. “Let’s just find the Phoenix!”

“The Phoenix must be close, chi!”

“That’s right, Mocchi! C’mon, I’ll race you!”

“You’re on, chi!”

The two of them raced off ahead as usual, leaving the rest of us to follow slowly behind.

“Why do they always do that?” Thorn asked. “Do ya think they have too much energy, and have to use it up or else their bodies will overload? Or could it be part of a huge conspiracy involving the Wubbles?”

“Just be quiet,” I sighed.

Thorn looked up at me, and blinked. “What are the Wubbles, anyway?”

I stared at her, not sure if I had heard her right. “You don’t know what the Wubbles are?”

She blinked again. “Should I?”

I sighed. “You ask about them constantly. Where they’ve gone, what they might have done, anything and everything you can think of. And now you’re telling me you don’t know what they are?”

Thorn nodded. “I can’t remember if I made them up just to ask stupid questions about, or if they actually existed sometime.”

I was still staring at Thorn when Genki and Mocchi screamed.

“Genki!” Holly shouted, breaking into a run.

“Not again,” muttered Suezo as the rest of us followed suit.


We found Genki and Mocchi lying on the floor, stunned.

“Genki!” Holly knelt on the floor and shook him. “Are you alright? What happened?”

“Uhh...” Genki groaned. “I don’t know...all of a sudden we just ran into something, like an invisible wall...”

He sat up, and bumped his head on nothing at all.

“Ow!” Genki rubbed his head, then reached out into the empty air and knocked. He was rewarded with a metallic banging sound. “There! See?” He stood up, careful not to bump into the invisible barrier...which was just beginning to become visible.

It was a huge, oblong shape of pure, unbroken metal. It was some strange cross between an oval and a triangle, and rested on the very edge of the volcano’s side. If it were any further back, it would have fallen in the lava.

“Wow!” Genki exclaimed. “It’s a spaceship!”

Mocchi, who had by now recovered, looked up at him quizzically. “Spaceship, chi?”

“Yeah, Mocchi! It’s like an iron bird, but it can travel to the stars!”

An iron bird, that could travel to the stars...? Was that even possible?

Suddenly a door slid open in the spaceship’s side, creating the illusion that light had cut a neat square in the otherwise seamless metal. Out of it stepped the strangest looking monster I had ever seen.

It was almost entirely pink. Its body looked like two plates, with one laid upside down on top of the other. Around the edges of the plates were gaudy yellow-orange hearts. In place of arms and legs it had long, metal tentacles that seemed to undulate constantly, even when it was standing still. Its head was a perfect sphere, with two dark metal horns forming an arc above it. Its eyes were large, green, and pupiless, and it had no mouth. Its nose – if you could even call it a nose – seemed to be made of the same stuff as its tentacles, only it was much smaller. It, too, wriggled around constantly.

“It’s Loveseeker (Metalner/Pixie),” stated Holly.

Metalners...I had heard of them, but never seen one. It was said they were clones of beings who came from the sky.

“I am Loveseeker!” it cried, striking a variety of poses as it spoke. “I have come from the planet Zarquon, combined with a Pixie to understand love!” Loveseeker seemed to think its poses looked dignified, and so continued making a fool of itself. “So, in the name of love, I will, uh, uh...” It scratched its head, between its horns. “Er...”

Loveseeker’s tentacles suddenly shot out of its body and wrapped around Tiger, and pulled him close to the Metalner. Then Loveseeker kissed him full on the lips.

The rest of it stared at the scene in shock.

“Blech!” Tiger exclaimed as the Metalner abruptly dropped him. He landed on his feet, then spat several times, gagging.

“I’m in love! Calloo! Callay! O, frabjous day!” chortled the Loveseeker. I noticed its eyes had, strangely enough, become heart-shaped before it ran off down another passage in the volcano.

Thorn blinked at it as several of the Searchers rushed to Tiger’s side.

“Why was it reciting “Jabberwocky”?” Thorn asked, looking up at me and Big Blue. “And how did it get its eyes to look like that? And how do ya think it managed to kiss Tiger with no mouth?”

“Be quiet!” I snapped. Although it did seem pretty ridiculous...

“Tiger, are you alright?” asked Holly.

Tiger gagged once more, then looked up at Holly and the others. “That thing kissed me!”

“Aw, what’s wrong?” Hare teased. “Poor widdle Tiger can’t stand a widdle kissypoo?”

“Why you little-!” Tiger leapt for Hare’s throat. Fortunately for Hare, Holly held him back.

“Tiger! I know you’re upset, but don’t you think finding the Phoenix is just a little more important right now? Please calm down.” Holly gave him puppy dog eyes.

Tiger sighed. “Alright, Holly. But if he makes one more smart remark I’ll-”

“Relax, Tiger,” Hare said, holding his paws up in a gesture of surrender. “I’ll be good.” He grinned, then added. “For now.”

Tiger growled and gave him a death look.

“The stone said straight ahead, didn’t it?” Yosho asked before there could be any more squabbling. “We may have to go through this...” He glanced at Genki. “What did you call it?...spaceship.”

“Hmm...” said Holly. “Let’s see what the stone says now.” Then, after a moment, “Straight ahead.”

Thorn regarded the ship thoughtfully for a moment, peering through the open doorway. “Do ya think the Wubbles are inside?”

“Just be-” I began.

“Quiet,” Thorn finished. “How many times have ya told me that?”

“Too many.”

“Have I ever listened?”


“So, if ya know I won’t listen to ya, why do ya keep saying that?”

For a moment I thought about it, but I couldn’t come up with an answer. I sighed. “Just be quiet.”

“See? Ya did it again.”

I glared at her. She just grinned. I sighed again. Annoying little...

“C’mon, c’mon people! Let’s go!” shouted Genki, jumping up in front of the doorway. “Last one in’s a rotten Metalner!” He then dashed into the spaceship.

“Mocchi’s not a Metalner, chi!” Mocchi exclaimed as he ran in after his friend.


At first it didn’t look as though Golem was going to fit. Then the passageway widened, allowing him a comfortable amount of space to run through.

“Let’s go, Blue,” I said as Hare and Tiger entered as well.

Big Blue nodded and began walking.

“How can ya tell if a Metalner’s rotten?” asked Thorn, following us. “Do ya think it rusts?”

“Be quiet!” I snapped.

Thorn giggled.


I turned to see Holly and Suezo steadying Yosho, then proceeding to help him into the ship.

“Wow!” Genki shouted ahead of me. “This place is amazing!”

“But Genki, it’s so...empty,” Holly said, entering and looking around.

She was right. The inside of the ship was only the same unbroken metal as the outside. There was nothing else, not even the slightest indentation in the wall.

“Yeah, but watch this!” Genki waved his hand over one area of the wall. The metal instantly metamorphosed into a variety of instruments, whose purpose I could only guess at. Genki moved his hand away, and there was only wall again.

ZZZT! “Yipe!”

I quickly turned toward the sound. Tiger crouched, ready to attack if necessary. “Who’s there?” he demanded. “Come out where we can see you.”

“Well...okay...” said a small voice. A section of the wall in front of us melted away, revealing a yellow Metalner, holding some broken wires in one tentacle. “I am Metazorl (Metalner/Suezo). Please do not harm me, I am only attempting to repair this vessel.”

“How’d it break?” Thorn asked.

“We crashed,” Metazorl answered simply.

“Oh. Why’d ya crash?”

“Our ship’s navigational data was hopelessly erroneous, leading us to choose this as an ideal landing site. Needless to say, events proved it otherwise.”

“We aren’t going to harm you,” Holly said reassuringly. “We only need to go through your ship, so we can continue our journey to find the Phoenix.”

“I’m afraid that is impossible.”

Lightning played around Tiger’s horns. “Well, I suggest you make it possible,” he snarled.

“Tiger!” Holly exclaimed.

Metazorl shook its head. “I apologize, but I am unable to do so. You see, there exists only one door with which to exit this ship.’

The others groaned and tripped around Big Blue and I. Although we both were just as exasperated, we weren’t about to show it.

“However,” Metazorl continued, “repairs are nearing completion, so it is possible to move the ship out of your way...”

They got up again, looking hopeful.

“...provided my companion Loveseeker returns, and I can correct its malfunction.”

They groaned and tripped once more.

“Look, let’s say we find this Loveseeker and bring it back here,” Hare began. “Would you be willing and able to move the ship, and give us a ride out of here once we’re ready to leave in return?”

“Theoretically, yes,” Metazorl replied. “However, I do not know whether or not I am capable of correcting its malfunction. Loveseeker’s system has somehow distorted its basic function, to find the meaning of love, and-”

“Yeah, yeah,” Suezo interrupted. “But you won’t have a chance unless we bring it back here, right?”

Metazorl nodded. “That is correct.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” asked Genki. “Let’s go!”

“My thoughts exactly, kid,” Tiger said. “The sooner we get this over with, the better.”

Hare clapped him on the back, at which Tiger looked extremely annoyed. “Glad you’re so eager, Tiger! Cause you’re going to be the bait.”

Tiger’s eyes virtually popped out of his skull. “What?! Me?!”

“Of course! You’re the one its in love with, after all. Now, off we go!”

Hare marched out of the ship, grinning devilishly to himself. Tiger glared after him, then followed...but not before swearing to kill “that good-for-nothing fur ball” under his breath.

Hours later...

“Loveseeker?” Tiger called. “Oh, Loveseeker? I’m here...” He turned and glared at Hare. “This plan of yours isn’t working, Hare! And I feel ridiculous!”

“Okay, so maybe the tux was a bit much...” Hare admitted.

“A bit much?!”

“Where’d ya get all this stuff, anyway?” Thorn asked, looking at the now smartly dressed Tiger.

“Oh, I’ve been carrying these around for a while...” Hare said. He then noticed Tiger beginning to rip off the garment with his teeth. “Hey! Stop it! I spent good money on that!”

“Yeah, right,” Tiger replied, his voice muffled by the fabric he held in his jaws. “I bet you stole it.” With one final tear, the tuxedo fell in shreds to the floor.

“GAAH!” Hare yelled, rushing forward as if he could save it. “My best clothes...ruined...”

“Well, boo-hoo,” said Tiger derisively. “There’s still no sign of Loveseeker.”

“Maybe it doesn’t want to come out with all of us here?” suggested Holly.

“That didn’t seem to stop it before,” Yosho commented.

“Why don’t ya try saying something romantic?” Thorn asked.

“Yeah, Tiger!” Genki chimed in. “Something like ‘Loveseeker, thy beauty is to me like those Nicean barks of yore, that gently, o’er a perfumed sea, the weary, way-worn wanderer bore to his own native shore.’ ”

“There is no way I’m saying anything like that to that thing!” Tiger shouted.

“If we do not find Loveseeker, we do not find the Phoenix,” reminded Golem.

“No Phoenix, chi?!” exclaimed Mocchi.

“No way! We’re going to find Loveseeker, and we’re going to revive the Phoenix and beat the baddies!” Genki shouted.

Holly turned to Tiger, and once more put on puppy dog eyes. “Please, Tiger?”

Tiger sighed, then mumbled the line.

Hare lifted one of his ears, then got up from where he had been kneeling among the tattered remnants of his tuxedo.

“What was that, Tiger?” he asked with a grin. “I can’t hear you...”

Tiger glared at him, and recited the line a little louder.

Hare made a show of cleaning out his ear. “Puh-lease, Tiger. I can barely hear a word you’re saying. How can you possibly expect Loveseeker to?”

“...” Tiger closed both eyes and tensed, as if preparing to go into battle. Then they snapped open. “LOVESEEKER, THY BEAUTY IS TO ME LIKE THOSE NICEAN BARKS OF YORE, THAT GENTLY, O’ER A PERFUMED SEA, THE WEARY, WAY-WORN WANDERER BORE TO HIS OWN NATIVE SHORE!!!!!!!!”

Once the echoes died down, Tiger gave Hare a death look. “Happy now?!”

Hare grinned slyly and opened his mouth to reply, but was drowned out by a voice from above.

“He loves me!”

I looked up in time to see Loveseeker hurtling down from the ceiling. Hare nimbly leapt aside as Tiger glanced upwards, and just narrowly avoided being flattened.

Tiger, however, was not so lucky.

“Tiger, are you alright?” Holly asked.

“I’ll be fine!” Tiger stood up, and the Loveseeker slid off of him. The fall had damaged it greatly – one of its horns was broken, and sparks and loose wires seemed to be everywhere.

Mocchi tentatively approached it and shook it. A piece of its horn fell off.

“Can Metazorl repair it, chi?” asked the little monster as the Metalner still did not move.

“Of course he can!” Genki shouted. “C’mon, gang! Let’s go!” He took off toward the Metalners’ ship, scooping up Mocchi along the way.

Golem gingerly picked up the damaged Loveseeker, then all of us went after the receding figures of Genki and Mocchi.


“So, can you fix it?” asked Genki anxiously.

Metazorl slipped a final screw into placed. “It is already complete.”

Loveseeker sat up and looked around, like someone who had just awakened from a dream and was still not quite sure where they were. It slowly turned to Metazorl. “I believe I have been malfunctioning. I apologize for the inconvenience. Have we arrived at our destination?” Loveseeker’s gaze fell on us, lingered for a moment on Tiger, then went back to Metazorl. “Who are these unidentified creatures?”

“We have arrived on the correct planet, but our navigational systems were misguided in choosing this for a landing site. It is necessary for us to find a more suitable area,” Metazorl replied. “These creatures assisted me in correcting your malfunction. I have agreed to give them transport when necessary. However, it is first necessary to remove our conveyance from their path.” It turned to us. “Please exit at this time. I will see to it that your path is clear for you to proceed.”


Moments later, the spaceship levitated above us. Directly ahead was the ledge the ship had rested upon, and beyond that was a narrow rope bridge over the magma. Big Blue eyed it nervously.

Holly checked the Magic Stone once more. “The Phoenix lies in that direction!”

She pointed straight across the bridge.