Space, Time, and Death Chapter 9
"There is a dream dreaming us."
- a Kalahari Bushman
The boy's words were barely out of his mouth when the Zealian siblings laid down the welcome they'd prepared just for him. The dark energy coalesced around him, and he seemed to be a shiny metal becoming dull and corroded over centuries, only sped to a few seconds. When it faded, the figure was even smaller. Ayla's fist came down on him, shattering him--
"Wait, it's me!" It squeaked. "Hold on, any more an' I won't be able t'talk!"
The others held onto their spells just barely. Crono's heels had already left the ground, the air was warping in a heat wave around Lucca, and when Marle snorted her disgust, her breath crystallized in the air. The child dreams had all huddled behind Robo and Glenn.
"Who...?" That was Crono's voice, but they were all leaning in, wondering. They took in the shock of red hair, the pants and boots and belt. The belt. The S, in slashes. The voice--now that it was reduced to a squeak, it reminded one of something, not that long ago, but also ages ago, there was, there was an annoying voice, an ego, a something, something small and white, a something in the form of a poyozo doll, a something named--
They all understood as one.
"Hey, you do remember me!" The little thing beamed. "Should, seeing how I'm the reason you--"
"The reason we're trapped here!" In the cold, Marle looked about to breathe flame.
"What's wrong with you?!" Lucca lost some of her control and set the table on fire.
"Weren't you on our side?!" The stone around Crono began to magnetize, and silverware flew across the room and attached itself to the walls.
"Thou hast best explain thyself." Glenn glared down his Brave Sword with the full anger of one who whose proper sword was cowering behind his back.
"Now." Magus gripped his scythe so hard, his gloves were turning white.
"And you had best talk quickly." Schala's voice was cold, aristocratic, imperious. She did not know this person and did not want to.
"...did I ever tell you guys what a great team you make?"
"Ayla make big hole in rock. Ayla put little man through many times to make bigger hole--"
"Some appreciation!" The little thing stuck out its tongue, falling over with the struggling of the tiny Alfador. She seemed to be trying to gnaw off his wrists. "Beh, enough of this plane."
Before even their barely reined power could react, they were somewhere wholly different. In a matter of a few seconds, they realized they had not reacted because nothing had changed. They were all in the same places and in the same states--it was merely as if the world had been peeled back like an onion, teary layers discarded for the core.
The little child Spekkio was there, but so was the small child, the toddler, the youngster, the pre-teen, the teen, the adult, the poyozo doll, the nu and everything in between. The adult Alfie, infant Alfie, cat Alfie and rock Alfie all gave him a swift kick at the same time, and hid behind Schala.
It was impossible to describe how the figures floated in and out of each other--how, despite being different sizes and shapes, they connected and were one. All the ages of the humans were visible--even ones not yet seen, which made them draw back their eyes and forget, choose not to see.
"The plane of potentiality," said Spekkio, realizing his act would also require an explanation. "I want the Dreams to hear. Really, I'm only explaining it to you too because I'm so gosh durn nice."
"...Ayla smack him?"
"Now, wait!" Spekkio threw up his hands. "You can't just leave Dreams hanging around! They're tools, and someone will use them."
"So, you destroy them all?" Magus glanced at Alfador. Dreams did not fear. They did not feel, or think, they were not people.
Why are you shaking, then? It's the barest of vibrations, but you never move without purpose--
"They're not destroyed! They're right here."
"And mighty pissed off, too." said Masa.
"Gonna kick me some poyozo ass." added Mune.
Doreen apparated some popcorn and a devilish expression.
"Um, excuse me?"
They blinked and turned. They weren't sure about the young man in the cloak, but they recognized the long waves of hair. All of them had gotten tangled up in it at some point, and been mercilessly giggled at and drooled upon.
"He hasn't broken Doreen that badly, you know? And he could have." Trigger tilted his head at the diffuse Spekkio images. "You purposefully cut off just the arm. Why?"
Spekkio clapped his hands. "Ah, the good always die young, eh?"
"Sadly." Trigger sighed. "But being a kid is actually kind of fun. Lots of lollies, and all that."
"The reason," Spekkio interrupted, annoyed their lack of concentration, "is that she has to be the one to carry them to their new job."
They blinked as one. "New... job?"
"They have their place, here with us." Magus growled.
"There are better places. Where they are needed." Spekkio knit his wiry eyebrows. "All that power, just hanging around--their presence is un-harmonic."
"Art thou ready to murder us, for our power?"
Spekkio rolled his eyes. "You're mortal. You're practically dead already."
They were about to interrupt, but he raised his hand. "Listen to me. You think you've solved everything. You've solved nothing. Life isn't a fairy tale, there are no endings--each solution breeds new problems."
He shrugged. "So, we're here. We might as well be, since we need dreamers and dreamers need a ground to stand on."
"Doreen--" His arm uncoiled slowly, the tips of his fingers reaching to her, "--the first dimensional leap will be hard, but the others shall be much easier, once you leave part of yourself here ... and the rest takes us..."
He pulled out a small leather bag and tossed it to her. She flinched as she caught it.
"Us." He smiled. "You're too weak to carry others, but a few fragments of rock you can manage. Once there, there will be people to repair us."
He fisted his hand, and between his fingers flowed streams of red on the path between worlds. Shimmering fragments of Dreams, of them all--each piece of dust holding a tiny bit of magic, which drew the elements around them like a pearl around a bit of sand. They were Dreams, and they formed the world around them. Someday, people would understand them again. Perhaps, as in the old days, they might find their own magic.
"It all works out. Sometimes... sometimes I wonder about this."
There was a grand parade, quaffing, noisemakers, mimes, puppeteers, celebrators of every type and age and a great amount of joy.
There was, however, no Frog, not even any Glenn.
The missing knight was sitting alone on top of the barracks, staring up at the stars. Technology, with its flashing lights and complicated image screens, could never compare to this. For one, he had too many fond memories--it was right to be staring at the stars. As a child or as a frog or as a man.
"The world be safe..." Glenn drew his brave sword and ran his thumb along it. It was all too confusing--the future, the past, himself and the world. Those he was closest to existed in times where he was dead or not yet alive. Being transformed into a mystic--dealing with Robo and the Dreams, it made things difficult. He had ventured home in Epoch without even a murmur of disapproval towards the demonic king.
He was still himself as a mystic. Robo and the Dreams, he was certain, were people as much as anyone. But he hated it, this idea forming in his head... that perhaps Magus was a person as much as anyone... as human as anyone...
At the very least, he could not challenge someone who had just lost one they loved in front of the only other person they had.
Glenn sighed and wondered if he should consider it an act for Schala's sake. Liberalism and the confusion of honor did not do well for a knight. But, after seeing the changes that pieces of kindness wreaked through the ages, a sword seemed a sorry weapon.
He sheathed his blade and returned to the circle of light and sound within. Queen Leene smiled at him, and gently pulled him back into the festivities, her touch as unafraid as it had always been all these years.
Perhaps he had been thinking of it backwards. It did no good to sympathize with your enemy as he stood ready to attack, but what did that matter, if you could protect the peace.
They were complete groundlings, serfs, unpleasant peasantry. But, he supposed, they were his groundlings.
"Couldn't he have waited?" Magus' voice was soft. "Couldn't he have waited until we were truly dead? Or can he really not tell the difference?"
At times, he had to admit, Magus also had trouble distinguishing. Schala smiled softly, without warmth. She drew her cloak around her.
"I asked her to bring you to me, and she did." The wind whipped up his hair and blocked his expression.
"She did it because she wanted to, not because you told her to." Her smile had a little glow, this time.
"That's why it matters."
Schala came forward, and knit her hand into his. In the cold, changing world, you had to grasp your warmth while you could.
"Come on," she said, "I'll buy you a puppy."
"...I don't think I understand at all."
"The idea of time travel is rather tricky," said Lucca dubiously, trying not to agree with Marle. "I had hoped we'd gotten around the paradoxes simply because ... well, it worked."
"So, we haven't changed anything at all?" Crono's fists were tight in his lap, his shoulders hunched.
"That's not true," said Marle rapidly.
"We have created a place where people can live. We've created a future. You can argue about where it exists, but it's somewhere, now, because of us."
"We couldn't save them," said Crono.
"They're alive. They're out there, too, somewhere. Look," Lucca beckoned him, and after a moment, Crono opened his hand a little. There was a sparkle--from something like a piece of glitter, only much smaller. Lucca folded Crono's hands up again.
"You just hold on to that. I have a feeling--let me get my tweezers," she turned around and began rummaging, "If we put it in a capsule, if it's them but still connected somehow... or even just remembering how to be them..."
Her voice and the ruckus of workshop miscellaneous being pushed aside faded in their ears. Marle leaned over, eyes on Crono's fist.
"Do you think they'll really be all right? Not just the Dreams, but everyone...?"
Crono paused, the crashes of machinery behind him. Finally, he gave Marle a hug.
"I'm sure of it. It's got to exist somewhere, right?" He smiled. "Besides..."
He placed her hand over his.
"I swear it's warm."
"There really is a future," said Robo, beeping in awe. It was, to his satisfaction, mostly like he remembered it before he went off-line. Technology never improves as fast as you think it will.
Skyscrapers assaulted the sky, whole and gleaming. Hover-cars whizzed by, taking no notice of Robo--for the first time in quite a long time, he passed totally without remark. He was slightly unsure if he missed it.
The city contained metal and rubbish and bustle and noise, comforting like the insides of a clock. But it was outside, in the great unprotected wilderness, that he caught a glimpse of pink and aqua and a sense of conclusion.
"There really is a future, and, apparently, I am a person," he informed her, "What are the percentages?"
And Ayla, as always, was more to the point. She beat the heck out of anything even remotely resembling a poyozo doll, had a feast and got thoroughly trashed.
"Ayla have huuuuuge headache," she said the next morning, "But at least it now from food. Ayla ready for nest now. Kino?"
And the rest is obvious.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic