After the flashback: Hazel tells Sanzo that this will all end if he just says 'Hazel, I'll travel with you'. You've got to be kidding, growls Sanzo, and Gato's next bullet grazes his cheek, drawing blood. Gato will punish you if you say anything besides what I want to hear, the 'angel' admonishes. Zakuro finds this uproariously funny, and calls out to Sanzo that since he can't move he'd better start begging for his life. Hazel snaps for him to shut up [hee, "Urasai!" --the nerve of him, stealing Sanzo's lines!=)], saying he'll keep his mouth shut until he's told otherwise; he, Hazel, is talking to Sanzo right now. Sanzo retorts that he doesn't want to talk to either of them, takes another bullet that staggers him backward, and tries to fire back--but his gun is still 'turned to stone'. Hazel laughs: trying to prove you're tough? he taunts. Or are you waiting for your demon friends to come save you? Sanzo says he can't remember them ever doing that [oh, really now...]. Hazel replies that it's fine if he wants to see it that way, but no matter how long he waits, those youkai won't be coming to his rescue. Sanzo doesn't like his I-know-somethin'-you-don't tone, and rasps, "What?" but the bishop just laughs.
Meanwhile, the I-3 are sitting in a forest clearing with defeated youkai scattered everywhere, complaining that they seem to be getting attacked even more without Sanzo than they did with him. (One of the battered youkai raises his head long enough to gasp "we'll get the sutra next time, Sanzo-ikkou!" and gets a fast faceful of dragon foot--even Hakuryu is getting annoyed, smiles Hakkai. =) Gojyo grumbles that Sanzo is the cause of all their troubles, but this is followed by an uncomfortable silence, and he suggests, "Maybe there is one thing we have to do before we head west." It's just gonna get worse if we don't, agrees Goku, and Hakkai finally says it: "Shall we go back where Sanzo is?" --And beat him up! adds Goku. Hakkai concurs. We'll never shake off this rotten mood otherwise, confirms Gojyo, and the three bump fists, saying Sanzo had better brace himself. =) [The same resolution that they reached when Gojyo left the group during the Kami-sama Arc, of course, and with the same ostensible intent. Heh.]
==But Hakuryu trills an alarm: out of nowhere the forest has filled with an army of yellow-eyed zombies, all droning 'kill the youkai' as they shuffle forward. Damn, I never can sense these guys coming, complains Goku [what, don't they even make any noise?], and Hakkai just has time to remind him 'that's because they're corpses' before the mob overwhelms them.
Back in the illusion cave, Hazel laughs and tells Sanzo that they're most likely all dead by now. Sanzo gives a contemptuous snort; those three will never die, he says. [I love this: Sanzo can belittle H G & G himself all he likes, but let someone else dismiss them and he always tells them to bite it.]
==Wrong again, smiles Hazel. Another gunshot; it cuts Sanzo's leg, and he goes to his knees. Sanzo-han, says Hazel very patiently, I want you to stop believin' in demons over what I say. He gets to his feet, glaring, and retorts that he doesn't 'believe in' them. You think too highly of them, Hazel lectures; demons are insignificant, and easily killed. And who's the one who's joined forces with those 'insignificant' demons? asks the monk; Gato's next bullet cuts through his shoulder, and he goes down, pulls himself back to his feet, gripping the shoulder and fighting for breath.
Gato is still holding Zakuro at gunpoint with the hand he's not shooting Sanzo with, and the purple-haired youkai grits his teeth, thinking how it ticks him off to hear that arrogant brat call him insignificant. But, whatever; it's not as if he'll be with them much longer...
Flashback: Dr. Ni presenting him to the Hazel-tachi, saying it seems Hazel has shown all his cards. The bishop looks with obvious distaste at the youkai, and says sharply that they don't really give a damn about the sutra. I thought you'd say that, blue-eyed-angel-san, replies Ni smoothly, but how would you like to trade Genjyo Sanzo for the Maten Sutra? That's a good trade, isn't it? Hazel asks what he means, and the bad doc replies that they'll lend him strength by using the demons he so despises. No one seems to care for the idea except Ni, but after a moment Hazel asks "so what can this demon do?"...and we're back in the present, where Zakuro is thinking that he'll play nice until he gets his hands on the kyoumon. Aloud he jeers that Hazel is too slow; why doesn't he just kill the damn monk?
But Hazel is still trying to reason with Sanzo, though his patience is clearly wearing thin. Why do you keep makin' these pointless gestures? he asks Sanzo; it's obvious that you'll come with us, it's your fate. Fate? snarls Sanzo; what's pointless is your believing in that crap. Another bullet; blood runs down his arm and drips through his fingers, and Hazel snaps back, really mad now, 'shut up and listen!' --Long story short, he says, you're travelin' west to stop the demons from goin' berserk. Such a roundabout way of doin' it; surely you can see it's faster to just kill them all. And knowin' that, why do you choose another path? When you don't know its outcome, it's just a waste of time.
Whether or not it's a waste of time is something I'll decide, says Sanzo. Hazel calls him a shame to the title of Sanzo Monk [seriously, the gall of this punk]; he can't escape his destiny. Once more he makes his pitch: they both lost their beloved masters to demon attack, they both need closure, so the best thing for them both and for Tougenkyo is to join forces and exterminate all demonkind - isn't that right?
Huh, snorts Sanzo, and the most delectably malicious grin you can imagine comes over his face. 'Put Tougenkyo at peace by exterminating all demons', he quotes mockingly, ch; and then, to Hazel's complete shock, he rears back and yells to Zakuro. Did you hear that? he challenges, why are you helping someone who says that?! That's none of your business, retorts the youkai, but Sanzo knows his buttons: are you running from your own weakness? he needles. Hazel repeats his order to Zakuro to shush until given leave to speak, and Sanzo grabs onto that-- "So, Zakuro, you're Hazel's bitch now?" Zakuro lashes back, and Hazel, not at all liking this turn of events, orders Gato to silence Sanzo. Four more bullets cut into the monk [they've stopped showing the spreading bloodstains on his robe, but trust me, it ought to be solid red by now]; blood is dripping onto the skulls at his feet, but he somehow stays standing, calling out to Zakuro that they're just using him and will kill him when they're through. Not at all, I'm lending them my strength, replies the illusionist.
Will you hush? Hazel rails at the youkai, and Zakuro's had it: don't tell me what to do, he retorts. "Do you want to die?" asks Hazel coldly. Sanzo, gasping for breath, watches him narrowly, hoping he's destabilized the situation enough for something to happen.
Hazel tells Zakuro that Gato holds not only Sanzo's life, but the youkai's too, in his hands. But Zakuro's got an answer for that; he says that Hazel will be the one in trouble if Zakuro dies, since the illusion world will vanish as well. Are you threatenin' me? asks the bishop, looking more than a shade apprehensive, and Zakuro says that if Hazel bosses him around once more his bodyguard will be in the cavern with him; imagine the fix that puts you in! Hazel sweatdrops, but defiantly tells Zakuro to do it if he can--and yup, his bells have no effect on the undead giant.
Hazel laughs in relief and gloatingly orders the youkai to "be a good boy now and follow my orders", since no little plans by an insignificant youkai could make any difference. --That's how it is, Zakuro, puts in Sanzo, not giving up his edge; and Zakuro pulls his trump card. Do you think I'll just sit back and take your insults? he asks, and he draws a bizarre, sci-fi-looking pistol (it actually looks like a lime-green paintball gun) from inside his vest and takes two shots at Gato. A red, glowing stain begins to spread over the big guy's body from the impact points, and where it soaks in, his body turns to grey stone and starts to crumble, shikigami-like.
(Watching with binoculars from atop a mesa, Dr. Ni sighs that he's quite the impatient demon, to be using that so soon.)
--Hazel, gasps Gato in alarm; Hazel calls to him, but of course can't see what's happening. Zakuro chortles in glee and says that it's an anti-undead drug, and that the more Gato forces himself to move the faster he'll crumble. Hazel now looks genuinely alarmed, and Zakuro spills the beans. You were the one being used all along, he tells the bishop; right from the start, my order s were to get the Maten Scripture and kill you. And once I take out the big guy I can do whatever I want to you. Shut up! you're only a demon! snaps Hazel, but Zakuro says he may not yap so loudly when he's engulfed in flames--and he jingles his bells. And uh-huh, Hazel sees a roaring blaze whoosh up from nowhere to surround him. --You too, Priest Genjyo Sanzo, he adds, and the flames spread. Hazel, as furious as he's scared, tries to convince himself it's all in his head and demands to see Zakuro. You'll never find me, taunts the youkai, and Sanzo sees his chance. Cowards like you always stay hidden, he jabs at Zak; you're just lurking in the shadows, watching us burn in agony, right?
[And he is still grinning. Not just a smirk, outright evilly grinning. It is some, weird, sight - and again points out how the presence of the ikkou grounds and balances him, and the absence does the opposite.]
Zak's ego takes the bait: I'll let you see Zakuro-sama's majestic form! he cries, and with a *ting* of the bells he materializes in the cavern. He makes a grand gesture: Kneel at my feet or become charcoal, he proclaims, laughing. But Sanzo snaps "Idiot," and--shoots him.
The astonished youkai stares at the bloody hole in his chest and sinks to his knees, as the cavern vanishes and they're all back in the desert.
Impossible! I sealed your gun! gasps Zak, but Sanzo chuckles and says "it's because I was shot with a gun."
Oh, I see--that restored the image of your gun, says Zakuro.
Sanzo mockingly thanks Gato, and Zakuro cusses the stupid humans. You're the stupid one, for letting me goad you into showing yourself, says Sanzo, drawing a bead on him; abayo. ( = Adios, 'bye, farewell.) But Zakuro falls to his knees and pleads for his life, begging forgiveness, and though Sanzo glares ferociously he draws down and gestures for Zakuro to get lost, saying he never wants to see him again. [I suspect this show of mercy arises more from refusal to do what Hazel would do, than from pity or contempt for the abject foe.] As he walks away, the youkai snickers and draws the Paintball Gun o'Doom out of his vest, wondering how its bullets would work on a human. He aims and cocks the trigger. A shot rings out, but when Sanzo turns he sees the kneeling Zakuro with weapon drawn and a stunned look on his face; he pitches forward into the dust. Gato has shot him.
Well, that was close, says Hazel (who was presumably healing Gato while Sanzo spared the youkai, since he looks entirely himself)--now we've seen the full extent of Sanzo-han's naivete'. Do you finally believe, he asks, that demons will kill you unless you're with us?
Nope, says Sanzo.
Do you still not understand--begins the bishop, but Sanzo's had it with him. Shut up, he snaps, gun leveled (Hazel bars Gato from drawing his own) and stop concerning yourself with me. I said I have no intention of traveling with you; if you want to kill off demons, fine, knock yourself out, but it's not my problem.
Hazel smiles. You truly are a stubborn man, he says--
And a familiar voice calls down from the mesa, "That's what makes him cool."
Hazel whirls, and hooray, there they are, all three with big smiles. =)=) Goku adds that if you took Sanzo's stubbornness away there'd be nothing left; Hakkai chimes in that in a stubbornness contest he'd definitely win first prize; Gojyo grins that too much praise will make him conceited. But Hazel is finding none of this amusing: he's staring up at them absolutely stricken, unable to imagine how they survived his zombies. You three...are still alive? he manages.
Oh, we're not the type to cash in that easily, replies Hakkai airily. But all those dead guys were a pain in the ass, adds Gojyo.
Sanzo's not amused either, and cusses them out for returning; they yell back that they're here to kick his ass, that they got sick of PoRY yelling "Sanzo this and Sanzo that" at them, and my, he looks as if he's had a rough time as well. Yeah, maybe they'll forgive him...we'll take good care of you, adds Hakkai sweetly. Sanzo, obviously filled with joy at this warm reception, snarls that he'll kill them and aims his pistol in their general direction, just, y'know, by way of getting back to normal--
but the shot that's heard isn't his. Sanzo chokes and falls. GG&H stare down stunned as he thuds into the sand.
And we see Hazel, his eyes pits of black shadow, holding Gato's gun; he's had all he can take. That's enough, he says, ice cold; all of you will die.
Sanzo struggles desperately to breathe...