Space, Time, and Death Chapter 8
"Everything you can imagine is real."
"We are awash in an abyss of uncertainty, sister."
The sisters stared up at the stars.
"We can be sure of nothing. Our senses deceive us. Science cannot reconnect us to the pre-cognizant world. Do I even exist? I am a dream, a delusion made real. If I fear and imagine I am dead, is that not also a delusion? I am dead and alive."
"Logic would call that incoherent."
"Logic is illogical for human beings."
"We are not human. Might I add, if you become a philosopher, I will have to smack you."
The others were there, listening in the off-hand way of those who might soon need to flee.
"All things are true somewhere, and all is knowen."
"All is known?"
"Knowen, Alfie, you have to pronounce it knowen." Doreen drew herself up.
"All is knowen, by you, I, people, the world, God."
"You believe in God?"
Doreen rolled her eyes. "Well, someone's screwing us over."
"Can you prove that?"
"Everyone has the right to believe they're getting screwed."
"How about proving everyone? Rights? Beliefs?"
"Is it kno--knowen how to beat that twidget?"
"Yeah, just got to find out who knows it."
Alfador thought a moment.
"...bet it's him."
Alfador sighed. "We were made to ramble incoherently, neechan, not to break things."
"Yes. That's why we have the morons."
Epoch ran past, as if on cue, arms out straight at his sides despite the fact that he had reformed his wings. He was laughing, undisturbed now that he had little left to lose.
"It's funny," Alfador stared after him, "He doesn't look right without them, in either form."
Granted, the wings were fledgling wings, appropriate to Epoch's age, and useless for flight.
Doreen remained silent.
Masa and Mune ran past, chasing him and each other.
"Wotty wotty wot wot!"
"Neechan, can I ask you something?"
A tumbling ball of feathers and cool colored hair rolled past.
"I've noticed ... when you change forms, the whole pendant disappears. The bit that's cracked, too."
"It's still held in place by the case, by the rest."
"But it can't be...the parts that are you should disappear, and the broken bit should fall to the ground."
Doreen raised an eyebrow. "Alfie, we call ourselves sisters, but we each had different parents. We say we're all Dreams, but we could each be a different race. You might as well ask Wot how he can carry around all that spare metal--you know Dream Stone's only the heart of the machine."
The ears in the background pricked up.
"Even though I am broken," Doreen concluded, "I can still feel and affect the other piece. It's not physically connected, but it is me."
Alfador grit her teeth. Doreen was the eldest--in other words, the prototype. Something Queen Zeal knew that the others didn't---?
"But if you're like that, what about that weirdo Dream? Maybe that's why we can't fight him properly! If he is broken but keeps his whole, there is no way to fight him--"
"I'm not as strong, sister. It's hard to spread your bits over distance." Doreen stopped and looked at the ground with tense concentration.
"Only in our dreams are we free," she said. "The rest of the time we need wages."
And that was that.
The next few days passed with frightened uneventfulness. Alfador had already explained that locking her into cat form worked by pushing almost all of her into Sleep, where nothing would attack her. Would have attacked her. Now, of course, it was no option.
Lucca finished her work on Epoch with the sort of caffeinated, frenzied determination that made artists live their lives in the witching hours. Epoch clapped his approval.
"And now what?" Crono asked.
Lucca stared so hard at the thing, it disappeared. Mid-way through her heart attack, she noticed the winged child standing in its place.
"Goooot it." He grinned.
"Got wot." commented Mune.
"Got stupid!" Epoch attacked. The normal tusseling followed.
"....?!" said Lucca.
Doreen popped in with an imitation of Robo. "It has been assimilated." Crono pulled the feathered rugrat out of the fight, whereupon he squeaked.
"You can take us home, then?"
Eight penetrating gazes bored into the little figure.
"--hhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... nyope!" Epoch danced around in a circle and posed. "Buuuut, as the great," he flexed his arms, "powerful!" he mantled his wings, "one and only Wings of Tii~me! I can carry you... one at a time!"
He seemed to think this was clever.
Lucca ran her trembling fingers through her hair. "I gave it my best shot, and it's better than nothing, right? But we'll have to wait until this is settled, and if that psycho cuts him into any more pieces, he won't even have enough power for this."
"It's wonderful, Lucca!" Schala was beaming. "To think, you weren't even raised in Zeal, but you adapted the technology so well...now off to bed before you collapse!"
Magus scowled a bit as Schala applied her big sister act to the mumbling Lucca. A team effort was involved in getting her up the stairs, mostly because Robo was trying to help but was just in the way. Glenn and Magus were left with the Dreams.
"And now what, Alfador?" Magus turned back to her.
"What do you think, Janasu-sama? We pray! Although you probably shouldn't, Kami-sama must not like you very much."
Magus leveled her with the pragmatic gaze she had herself taught him.
"Your grin is off."
Alfador pursed her lips. "Even broken, Epoch has more power than I do. In Sleep, it's just pure dream stone... and I'm made from such a little bit... Doreen even less... Janasu-sama, I'm weak. He's strong. You should understand that."
Magus grunted. "You are not weak."
"Next to him I am. Next to you I am, now."
"I fail to see..." Magus slid his gaze off her, "...why we cannot be your strength. After all, that's what this idiotic friendship business is about, isn't it?"
Alfador stared at him for a long moment, without blinking, as though she'd also forgotten she wasn't a cat. He kept his eyes on the corner of the room.
Glenn cleared his throat. "Lady Alfador..."
"You shouldn't worry."
She turned to Glenn. "You asked me if you should worry for my soul. I have none. I am an object. I have no soul. Do you understand? I have no feelings, no thoughts, no personality, no ... no anything. I am not a person. I am a tool."
There was a growl from the corner. "If you have none of those things, then I am a Queen Leene."
"Well, we could try you out in a dress and see--"
"Be serious for once in your existence, Alfador!"
"I was created," Alfador said slowly and distinctly, as if talking to someone foreign, "To be silly. I can only be what ... what King Zeal required of me. An oracle and a governess."
Alfador turned on them and left the room. "The prophecy has come true and the children have grown up. And a tool that is no longer needed is tossed away."
The two enemies and allies watched her retreating back. The other Dreams had barely noticed, too busy playing jacks.
"This is your fault for bringing up her soul."
Glenn snorted, but made no reply. Doreen reached foursies.
"What shall thou do without her?"
"What do you mean?" Magus was staring at the bouncing red rubber ball. Power beyond man, reduced to this.
"She is thine feline."
"I told you, she's not a cat."
"Well, she is certainly feline," Glenn turned to leave. "And is she not thine?"
Time in Sleep was relative, but then, time always was. For this reason it was a few days and an eternity and no time at all before he found her.
"So," His voice was full of casual menace. It echoed with the universal chords of playground bullies everywhere. "Have you thought of something? Or is it mean to ask a know-it-all to think?"
Alfador turned very slowly. "I've never known everything. What you most want to know is what you never will. That's true for everyone."
Alfador made a face.
"Why are you doing this?" The expression on her face was so unlike her. Created to be silly.
"Like you care? You wanna stop me."
"You're ever nearing unforgivable."
"Who should forgive me?" Finally, she could see him. He was ... amazing, he was so young. But it just made that axe look larger. His childlike voice was disturbing, his impish face with that expression and those eyes...
"Why are you doing this?"
He ignored her, calmly stepping forward.
"You aren't answering questions?" Alfador tilt her head down slightly. Were she not a Dream, she would feel ... affected by his form, wouldn't she? As a governess, she almost did.
The little one shook his head, and hadn't even stopped when his chest exploded outward, and he was pinned to the ground. Through the shimmering of dust he located the half moon sickle, reformed as a spear. When he pulled it out, breaking it in half, the larger piece began smacking him of its own free will.
"You do have a brain!" He watched the stick beat him for a few moments before deciding and launching himself after her. "But with one piece of you, I can find you!"
The others were so strong, it was so hard just to do that, never mind slicing him into pieces--
"'s really a shame--"
The untrained voice snickered somewhere in the void. Alfador tried changing direction and feinting, but it was no good. There was no answer, there was no third option, there was no last second rescue forthcoming.
"See, I gotta brain too, I learn pretty quick--"
This was real, the end. Was this how humans lived their lives? Was this fear?
"--so ya really shouldn't teach me things."
The axe split her skull in an instant, fastening her to the ground like a collector's butterfly. Even so, her body spasmed, as if trying to pull her free.
He formed a second axe and diced her thinly from the feet up, like a chef with a carrot, no, like a geologist taking slices of some precious gem, lasor cut and diced. The void of Sleep was rent with her screams. They fell on deaf ears, on immobile stone, on the fatal indifference of a world that did not answer to oracle's prayers.
Seven people, five Dreams and one Robot all stared with fatal intent at the small, chipped object on the floor. It was hard to imagine what universal shock made even the youngest crease his newborn brow. The object was certainly not threatening; odd, but unremarkable. It was just an overly curvy, underly clothed woman, carved out of red rock. When put on the dash of the Blackbird, it danced at the sway.
They sucked in their breath as the tiny figure was replaced by a larger, living one. But it was not large enough, nor was it just one.
The red-haired boy grinned at them, his infant sister bawling in his arms.
AN: Kami-sama means God. Doreen's free v. wages quote is from Terry Pratchett's "The Wyrd Sisters." He is my favorite author. Alfie's rock form has always been that, by the way, you can check the profile pages. http://www.geocities.com/pard.geo/ct/ct.html )
Chrono Trigger Fanfic