Gender Bending 2

Disclaimer: All characters and places mentioned are property of Namco.

Hey everyone, here's the next chapter as promised. I won't be around to post it tomorrow either, so you guys even get it a little early!

Chapter 16

"How could you forget to tell us this?" Lydia asked exasperatedly.

"I am sorry." Presea said, sounding pretty sincere, or at least by her usual standards. "There was so much going on that I it just ended up not seeming that important, especially because nothing important seemed to happen. We were more focused on finding the cure anyway."

"Cure, cure." Neil repeated, his arms around Lydia to prevent from falling off of the Rheaird. "Just what are you all so focused on trying to cure?"

The Regeneration Heroes eyed each other before Lydia reluctantly explained the situation.

Neil's eyes widened. "Wait... so that means you're-"

"Yep." Lydia said.

"I see. In that case, I apologize."

Lydia raised an eyebrow and looked back at Neil, or at least as much as she was able to from her current position. "Hm? What for?"

Neil turned a little red. "Just for some things I thought upon first meeting you."

The entire group sighed. This was become far too common an occurrence. Is every man like this? Lydia thought to herself. I swear I wasn't like that, was I? Although it wasn't too bad... after all, Neil was pretty attractive... She caught herself. No, no. No thinking like that! Her musing was interrupted by a loud explosion on the ground far below them. The four Rheairds all jerked as their pilots involuntarily reacted to the noise.

"What in the world was that?" Genis asked, bringing his machine more or less to a stop, letting it hover in the sky.

"Judging from the geography, it appeared to come from Hima." Regal deduced, casting his eyes about. Rheairds were still by far the fastest method of transport, but they still took time to make large trips, especially now that the world was twice it's original size... Raine has once theorized that the planet's gravity had remained unaffected due to some Cruxis meddling when the two worlds first split, but that was neither here nor there. The point was, they had been flying for some time, and it was now early in the day, which made it much easier for them to get their bearings on their location. Down on the ground, they could make out the sounds of various high-level spells.

"Should we check it out?" Lydia asked.

"But what about Palmacosta?" Genis responded.

"I do need to get back as soon as possible." Neil reminded them.

Regal sighed. "Well then, as much as I hate to suggest it, especially considering how thin we've spread ourselves already, but perhaps we should split up? Genis and I could go investigate the trouble down in Hima and then meet you two in Palmacosta."

Lydia nodded. "Right. I don't like it either, but you do have a point." She angled her Rheaird back in the direction of Palmacosta. "Come on Presea."

"Right." Presea answered, following him as Genis and Regal angled their vehicles downward.

"Gravity Well!"

"Negative Gate!"

Genis and Regal touched down and observed two men engaged in a magic duel. The rest of Hima's adventurers must not have been as brave as they always proclaimed, because they were nowhere to be found. Instead, it seemed a single man who looked just a bit like Zelos (probably due to his long red hair) in glasses was trying to fight off the attacks of his foe. As for his opponent, the instant the pair recognized him, Regal clenched his fists in barely concealed fury.

"Rodyle." Regal growled.

"So I guess the Grand Cardinals really are back." Genis observed rather unnecessary. "Well what are we waiting for? We should help that guy!"

Regal nodded. "I agree completely." He was able to answer before he charged forward with ferocity Genis had rarely seen in him before.

"Rodyle is so screwed." Genis said, beginning the incantation for Indignation.

"Ugh... did anyone get the number of that Elemental Cargo?" Zella mumbled, sitting up and rubbing her head. She was immediately greeted with the vision of her expansive mansion living room, and noticed the unconscious forms of Raine, Collete, Kratos, Sheena and Yuan sprawled across various couches. Judging from the light streaming through the windows, it was clearly morning, and, for a moment, she was stumped as to how she'd gotten there. Soon enough, however, she began to remember the events of the previous night. Zella noticed that she hadn't changed back to Zelos, but she wasn't all that surprised by the turn of events, given the fact that Yuan's spell didn't cure Lydia back in the Ymir Forest last time. She also found it interesting to note that she wasn't particularly thrilled or disappointed at the turn of events. Wobbling to her feet, she started wandering about the house. Eerily, nobody else was there. She checked the upstairs rooms to be sure, but the other half of their party was strangely missing. Where did everyone else go? There was no Lydia, Regal, Presea or... Ge...nis...?

At the mere thought of his name, Zella suddenly felt her immense attraction for the boy resurface, only for another, much less pleasant feeling to almost immediately drown it out. Charging into the closest bathroom, Zella barely managed to make it to the toilet in time before vomiting.

"Ugh..." Zella muttered, wiping her mouth. She was further worried by the what she saw in the bowl. Whatever she had thrown up, it was florescent pink. In fact, it almost seemed to be glowing... I really hope that was just some from weird plant in the Gardens and not a terrible disease or something. As she stood and ran her hands through her long hair, she was annoyed to see that some of the pink liquid - whatever it was - had gotten in her hair. Well, I suppose I'd better wash up before I do anything else.

It was only when she started to undress that Zella realized that she was still wearing her incredibly revealing outfit from the party. Man, I may not be the most modest person ever, but to wear that to one of the King's parties... She paused to examine herself in the mirror. I mean, what am I, a dominatrix? Speaking of which, what had compelled her to wear it anyways?

That's right, She thought as she stepped into the shower. I was doing it to impress Genis, wasn't I? That just further confused her. Wait... why would I do that? She caught sight of the pink substance that still flecked her hair. She gulped. "Oh."

Kratos awoke when he rolled off of his couch and landed on the hard floor. "Oof!" As he got to his feet, he tried to remember how he'd gotten there, and why he had such a throbbing headache. After a little thought, he recalled most of the events from the previous night, although parts of it were a little hazy due to the alcohol. What he did remember was that he'd been attempting to get his amnesia cured. Did it work? He quickly tried to think back to anything before recent events, but still came up with nothing. In fact, it only made his head hurt more. That, combined with the much-too-bright sun shining in through the large window, Kratos' hangover was giving him a lot of grief. Dang, I guess I still don't have my memory back. He stumbled up the main stairs which, although still bright, took him out of the sun's direct rays and allowed him a little respite.

The amnesiac Seraph grit his teeth. His head was still killing him! He decided to a wet washcloth might make him feel better, so he quickly set out looking for a bathroom. After first stumbling across a couple of rooms, he finally found a bathroom. However, that wasn't really what he noticed.

Instead, Kratos was to busy staring at the very attractive, very naked Zella, who was just stepping out of the shower. The two just looked at each other with dumbfounded expressions for a few moments, before Zella attempted to jump back behind the shower curtain, but slipped on the wet porcelain and fell rather painfully to the floor. "Kratos, what are you doing?" Admittedly, Zella might not have been so panicked about being peeked on (besides, she was certain many potential hunnies had done so when she was a man), but the still relatively recent gender change combined with her embarrassing infatuation with Genis was leaving her a lot more humility than usual.

"Uh... um..." Kratos said, staring at the beautiful woman in front of him. He suddenly had an idea. He adopted his most innocent expression. "I'm sorry. Is it wrong to see people naked? I just can't remember-"

"You're amnesiac, not a child." Zella said with a deadpan expression as she simultaneously tried to climb to her feet and remain as covered as possible. "Now get out!"

"Well, that was pretty easy." Genis said as he, Regal and the red-haired man examined Rodyle's corpse.

"It certainly helps that he didn't transform into a monster this time." Regal agreed, his calm expression returning.

The red-haired man turned to them. Although he had long hair, he actually seemed to resemble Kratos more than Zelos. Genis decided it was the no-nonsense expression on his face. "Thank you for your help." The man said. He was clearly tired from the fight. "I not sure if I would have been able to defeat him all on my own." He paused and looked at Regal. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you you Regal Bryant of the Lezerano Corporation?"

Regal nodded politely. "Yes, you are right. But I'm afraid I do not recognize you. Have we met?"

The man shook his head very slightly in order to avoid whipping his hair around like a maniac. "No, I've only heard of you. My name is Richter Abend. I'm a researcher from Sybak."

"I see." Regal said, holding out his hand to shake. "It's a pleasure to meet you, and I'm glad we could help out."

The man looked at his hand for a second, as if unsure about what to do in such a situation, but it quickly passed as he grabbed the blue-haired man's hand to shake. "And who is your half-elf friend? He's quite the talented spellcaster."

"My name's Genis Sage." Genis responded with a wide grin. "And you're a half-elf too, aren't you?"

Richter nodded, but his expression was cold. "Indeed I am, although I usually don't talk about it often. I don't consider it an important characteristic of mine."

Genis immediately felt bad about bringing it up. If this man was from Sybak, he would of course be a little sore about people thinking of his race as a defining characteristic.

They all stood there silently for a minute, until Richter spoke up. "Now if you excuse me, this town doesn't seem to have the information I was looking for. I must be off."

"If you're looking for information," Genis began, hoping to make up for offending the man, "Palmacosta is probably the place to go. It's still being rebuilt, but it's home to the largest academy on Sylvarant." Richter raised an eyebrow and Genis continued. "In fact, we're heading that way right now. Would you like us to take you?' He gestured towards the Rheairds they'd left where they landed. After all, with the fighting, there hadn't been enough time to store them. "I'm sure flying is better than walking."

Richter grunted.

Kratos descended the stairs back into the living room and saw that everyone else had awoken and were staring at him with expressions ranging from amusement to frustration. "What, uh... what are you all look at?"

Sheena shook her head in mild annoyance. "Really, Kratos? Peeking on girls in the shower? I wouldn't have expected it from you, even like this." She smiled slightly in a bemused fashion. "Although it's nice to have Zelos get a taste of his own medicine."

Kratos flushed. "I guess that means you heard us."

"A TASTE of my own medicine?" They heard Zella's muffled voice rage from the bathroom above. "This whole thing's been a humiliation conga for me!"

"It didn't seem like you felt that way at last night's party!" Colette yelled back up with a laugh.

Raine sighed. "It seems that, judging from Colette and Kratos' uncharacteristic actions in the last, oh, two minutes, that Divine Purify failed to fully cure us. Again." She crossed her arms in thought. "But at least it seems that Zella is more or less back to the way she was before our trip to the Gardens." She paused. "However, a much more pressing question is what, exactly, happened to the others?"

"Oh, I can field that one." Sheena said, raising her hand. Everyone turned to her. "Uh, essentially, Magnius is back and attacked Palmacosta. The other Grand Cardinals may have revived as well." The entire group, save the amnesiac Kratos, and Yuan who'd already heard, immediately went into a frenzy. Sheena quickly held up her hands to calm them down. "Now hold on. Magnius was the weakest of the Grand Cardinals. I'm sure the other four can handle him. We should probably get our bearings first."

Raine nodded. "That's actually an excellent idea." She quickly produced her special Magic Lens and set about examining the others, as well as herself. "From the looks of things, everyone seems to be relatively unchanged, save myself." She was actually very relieved to have her old mental clarity back and to not be swarmed with the hormones of adolescence that had already begun to show themselves before the treatment. "I suppose the reverse aging pollen must be more susceptible to magic than the others, considering the fact that it is the only one of the afflictions that was successfully cured by it both times. It's a shame I didn't get to study it more." She looked around. "It seems the only person left here to examine is Zella. I wonder where...?"

"I'm right here." Zella said, uncharacteristically meekly, descending the stairs in only a towel with a bright red face.

Raine raised her eyebrow. "Zella, where are your clothes?"

Zella flushed more. "I left them in Altamira."

"What about that.. outfit you were wearing last night?" Colette asked with a snicker.

"I'd rather not." Zella said.

"You could wear one of the maid outfits lying around here." Sheena suggested with a smirk. She and Colette high-fived.

Raine reached into her bag and handed Zella a spare change of her own clothing. "Here, how about this? The rest of us will head to Palmacosta, while Sheena will take you to get some new clothes. Then you can meet us there."

"H-hey, why do I have to take her shopping?" Sheena asked with a flush. Even as Zella, she still didn't like the red-headed ex-Chosen very much.

"To put it simply, I'd rather keep you and Lydia separate as much as possible." Raine said in a no-nonsense tone. "After all, the examination says you weren't cured."

"Right, right." Sheena grumbled, secretly wishing she'd hidden that Magic Lens while everyone else had actually been unconscious.

"Ahahahaha! Pathetic vermin!" Magnius shouted, setting fire to a group of buildings and watching the inhabitants flee through the doors, or, in the case of those on the second stories, leap into the Palmacosta harbor to avoid the flames. "I haven't had this much fun in a long time!" He turned his attention to the citizens foolish to exit the ground floors onto the street. "Ah, more vermin." He grinned, swinging his large axe towards them to cast Eruption. The smell of burning humans was always strangely intriguing to Magnius.

"Hey you... you bastard! Leave them alone!" Shouted a voice. Magnius looked away from his targets and layed his eyes on a blond boy, he couldn't have been more than sixteen, clumsily holding a sword in both of his hands. It was clear he had no idea what he was doing with it. "Leave our city alone!"

In a flash, Magnius was upon the boy and hit him with the broadside of his axe. It wouldn't do to kill this impudent human too quickly. "What did you call me, vermin?" The boy dropped the sword and fell to the ground in pain. "It sounded like you called me a 'bastard.'" He kicked him in the stomach. This human was going to suffer before he died. "It's Lord Magnius to you!"

The boy coughed up a bit of blood. "Magnius is dead." He spat defiantly. "L...Lloyd Irving and... and the Chosen and their friends killed him."

Magnius had no idea what this fool was talking about, but he wouldn't stand for somebody throwing around such lies. The Chosen? Kill him? Not likely!

"Hey you! Leave him alone!" Yelled a voice, female this time, unknowingly echoing the boy's earlier shout. Magnius groaned. Most of the guards were dead and all the other humans were trying to flee. Who else would try to challange him? Magnius stomped on the boy's stomach to keep him in place, and looked to see a teenage girl, her long brown hair in two large pigtails. In one hand she held a strange circular blade. She was clearly injured, clutching her arm in pain.

"You again?" Magnius said with a bored expression. "I thought I already put you down. Don't worry, you'll have your turn after this little piece of..." He looked back towards the boy in time to see him drive his previously discarded sword into Magnius' leg. Magnius let out a howl of pain before kicking the boy one last time in the stomach before bringing up his axe to behead him. "I'll kill you!"

"Double Demon Fang!"

Magnius jumped out of the way of the twin shockwave, but in doing so lost his opportunity to kill the whelp.

"Who..." The boy coughed.

"...are they?" Finished the girl.

Standing on the other side of the square was a brown-haired young woman wearing a fancy white suit with twin ribbons hanging off the neck. The shirt had been seemingly cut across the center, causing it to open like a jacket. Underneath, she seemed to have fashioned what looked like some bandages into a way to preserve her modesty. In one hand she held a bright orange sword, while an aqua blue one was in her other.

With her was another girl, although this one was much smaller. Her pink hair was in pigtails, and she was wearing a fancy dress, as if she had just come from a party. Ridiculously, she was also carrying a gigantic axe that she really shouldn't have been able to carry. Someone might have commented on the juxtaposition if Magnius himself didn't also have a similar weapon, and if so many lives weren't at stake.

"Magnius, you're not going to hurt anyone else!" The girl with the swords snarled.

"How's this?" Zella asked, stepping out of the changing room. Even though her thoughts were preoccupied, Sheena's couldn't help but be appalled.

"There's a little thing we like to call feminine modesty." Sheena said sarcastically, feeling a bead of sweat slide down her neck due to frustration.

"Hey, that's not fair." Zella said, putting her hands on her hips. "This is way less revealing than what I had on at the party!"

"Not really. Besides, you were drugged by a crazy plant, remember?"

"Look, I know so many women who dress this way!" Zella continued, gesturing to the corset and miniskirt she had on.

"I don't doubt that." Sheena said, rolling her eyes. "But normal women tend to leave a little... okay, a lot more to the imagination."

"Like you?" Zella asked with a smirk. Sheena blushed and pulled her purple kimono across her chest.

"Y-you know what I mean! Find something more appropriate, And hurry up!"

"Fine, fine."

"Who the hell do you think you are?" Magnius growled at his attacker. "I'd like to see you back up those threats, wench!"

Lydia got in her fighter's stance. Wench was a new one. Didn't Magnius like to call everyone 'Vermin?' She secretly wished she'd changed into her ordinary clothes before rushing off, as the torn Nobleman outfit was severely limiting her movement. At least she'd been able to fashion what had been her (previously torn) chest bindings into a way to prevent herself from exposing her chest to everyone she fought. She probably should have turned back into Lloyd before rushing into the city as well, although kissing Presea or Neil would have been awkward in either situation. She shook her head. Now was not the time!

"Aw, look at the poor vermin, she's scared!" Magnius laughed, charging.

"Scared?" Lydia repeated with a smirk. Magnius had always been the weakest of the Grand Cardinals, and if these were clones from the past, they probably were even weaker then the last time they fought. Lydia confirmed this by parrying Magnius' axe with the Vorpal Sword and stabbing him in the chest with Flamberg. Magnius slid down on the sword, further impaling himself until his head was right next to Lydia's. "I told you. I will not let you hurt anyone else." She said into his ear before twisting and allowing Magnius to slide off of the weapon. The hole in his chest was, ironically, being licked by some residual flames from Flamberg.

Magnius made a gurgling sound, and died.

Sheena sighed as she waited for Zella to finish trying on yet another set of clothes. How many outfits had they gone through now? Too many, that was for sure. In the meantime, Sheena found herself fantasizing about Lydia. However, she no longer felt embarrassed anymore by it. No, she reveled in the thoughts, and an opportunity to ensnare Lydia's body and soul. However, she was wary about using the magic lipstick again. It was just too dangerous, as it seemed to magnetically draw unwanted lips to whoever was wearing it. She was also slightly worried about the effect the lipstick would have on Lydia. Even if they could avoid the annoying gender-switch by kissing dilemma, using it on another woman seemed to be bit of a risk.

The summoner held no illusion that her feelings for Lydia were caused by anything but their magical kiss, and boy, had is certainly been magical, and she even admitted that the lipstick had made her sort of devious. She smirked at the thought. Regardless, it seemed to turn any men kissed into doting idiots. She wondered why she hadn't gotten just some sort of schoolgirl crush instead of turning into what she was now. Sheena concluded that since the lipstick, especially the original, more potent batch, was designed to be used by women on men, it was probably marketed as a way to turn any prospective husband into a loving fool.

Still, that didn't explain why she was acting like this. It probably was just because the lipstick, or at least the original set, was not designed to be used on women (a huge oversight on the merchant's part, she reflected, since that would cut down his potential market, but that wasn't important now), but Sheena wasn't sure how Lydia would turn out afterward. Especially since she was kinda half-man, half-woman.

What she needed was a way to ensnare her heart, a way to make her into more than the sex-manic she might become if they kissed (although, Sheena wouldn't really mind that much), she needed something more powerful than elven plants or human inventions. She froze. Heart... of course! She was a summoner, and there was a Summon Spirit of the Heart, wasn't there? That's right... Corrine turned into Verius... She smirked. If anything had the power to lock Lydia permanently as a woman while also making her fall in love with her, it would be Verius! Sheena's smirk grew wider. It looked like it was time to pay a visit to her old friend! Now if only Zella would hurry up...

"What about now? How does this look?" Zella asked wearily, once again stepping out of the dressing room, dressed in a pink blouse and white skirt that, for once, was not unbelievably short. She'd even adorned her clothes with some of Zelos' other accessories, like the gloves. She might still be showing a lot of skin in the chest area, but Sheena didn't really care at this point. It was still better than everything else she'd tried. Sheena reflected.

"Good enough." She said absentmindedly. "Go pay, and then head to Palmacosta. I'll meet you there soon. There's... something I need to take care of."

With that, she high-tailed it out of there before the ex-Chosen could ask any questions.

Gah... this story is getting such Cerebus Syndrome. I tried to make sure there was some humor in this chapter, especially since it was still plot heavy, but I'm not sure if I succeeded. Oh, and can you tell I never liked Rodyle that much? I didn't realize until after writing this chapter that he didn't even get a single speaking line besides calling out a spell.

And hey look at that, I made the deadline! It's even the longest chapter yet, too. Awesome! Of course, the real challange will be if I make the next one, although I'm feeling pretty confident at this point. Please review! They're what keep me motivated!