Chrono Continuum Chapter 30

Tanta Stultitia Mortalium Est.

By Cain


Man, this gate is taking a while, Rakin thought as he sped along. But then again, he had no way of knowing how long "a while" truly was. He hadn't finished the flight in the Epoch. He'd been unconscious in Magus' first dark gate. So this was his first time. He wished that Magus had jumped in at the same moment as he had. That way, they'd be side by side, and Magus could tell him if this was normal. A few minutes ago, he had seen the ball that had been Spekkio appear outside of his pocket, and disappear. The warp tunnel had then shuddered as if hurt. Rakin wondered if Spekkio had thrown him off course. That could mean that he could conceivably go anywhere, and anywhen. He wondered if that was a word. He just hoped that Magus' gate was good enough that it would stay on its original heading, or that it wouldn't land him in a volcano, at least.

He blinked. He was sure that he'd just seen a flash of light.


1311 AD

"Seventy-five gold pieces," one man cried out. No one paid attention to him, except the bet-takers. And the prostitutes. No one was quite sure whether he had placed a bet or made an offer. One of the bookies, as Magus had heard them referred to as, wrote down that he had bet one hundred, in the chance that he wouldn't remember his drunken words, and believe him about the bet. He looked to find the man to see whom he had bet on, but had lost him. Magus almost smiled. It had been an offer. Magus turned his attention back to the arena, and watched raptly. The announcer, letting the microphone lift up to the ceiling, ran out of the arena, not wishing to get in the cross-fire between the warriors. Magus looked at Robo's opponent, Kradish. He didn't look inordinately tough, but looks could be deceiving. Magus did smile now. Looks could, but his magic was rarely deceiving to himself. Concentrating, he looked at the man. Letting his magic focus on the man, he tried to find out weaknesses, and anything that could hint to this man's fighting ability.

Magus almost screamed with the pain. He quickly severed the connection, breathing heavily. Not even a moment had passed, but the pain he had felt at touching this man with his magic was beyond description. He calmed back down, and looked to the arena again. Kradish was staring right at him. Magus tried to blend in with the crowd, even pinching the girl sitting on the lap of the soldier next to him, so as to seem part of the group. The soldier didn't care. The woman smiled, and dropped a ball of paper in his lap. He pocketed it out of habit. Even if he'd never use the information on the paper, the paper in and of itself was useful. Also, he'd check the room number later. He had no doubt that it was close to Rita's section. What interested him was whether it had worked. It hadn't. Kradish was still staring at him. Magus simply stared back, wondering how the man's eyesight could match his magically enhanced vision. And then he felt the probe. A dark presence, similar to shadow magic, but different, searched him, and he could do nothing about it. Suddenly, he felt his disguise fail, and it snapped off. Nobody but him, Kradish, and Robo noticed. Kradish's eyes opened wide. Magus frowned.

How could this man know him? And then Magus remembered sitting at a table with three people. One pulled back his white hood to reveal his face. Magus' face. Janus' face. And it hit him. Kradish couldn't know him. But there were reasons he might recognize the face. About the same time, Kradish seemed to realize that Magus wasn't Janus. Turning to Robo, he charged, warhammer ready to swing. Magus jumped up, and began to run down the stairs.

Oh, no you don't, magic-user! This could be the perfect chance to learn about their enemy. He was near the arena as Robo jumped in the air, dodging a swing from the hammer. Magus smiled. Robo didn't need help, that much was for sure. But Magus needed to make sure that Kradish didn't escape. Upon reaching the edge of the railing, Magus didn't stop, but jumped over. Everything in front of him turned blue, and Magus managed a gasp before he hit the field. Electricity surged through his body, and threw him back into a nearby seat. People were backing away from the now visible magical electric field. Magus sat up, and got off the unconscious soldier that had broken his fall. Now he was mad.


Same Time

There was a loud ringing sound as Kradish caught Robo in the middle of his new body. Robo flew back involuntarily, and crashed into the wall. An electric surge pushed him back out. He stood, and let out some steam from his arms and legs. Kradish laughed at the spectacle.

"What's the matter, tin-man? Getting a little hot under the collar?" Robo didn't bother answering. Activating the program in his left arm, he activated the clear blue force shield. On the other arm, the whip uncoiled, and began crackling with energy. Kradish raised an eyebrow, unimpressed. He'd seen it befroe. On tape. Several hundred times, in fact. Robo rushed forward, shield out, right arm pulled back and ready to snap the electrical whip forward. At the last moment, Kradish swung his hammer, from low to high, catching Robo under his shield, between the legs. Robo flipped up and over the man, tumbling in midair. His whip snaked out and grabbed the hammer, still up in the air from the successful swing. Waves of electricity flowed down the metal hammer, and shook violently as he went through an experience quite similar to the one he had so recently inflicted on Magus. Robo, almost to the ground, yanked hard on his whip, and the hammer was wrenched out of Kradish's hands.

As he hit the ground, Robo reached up and caught the hammer. As he threw it over his shoulder, he looked over to his side to see Magus with his hands against the field of electricity. Robo guessed that Magus had met the man before, and had tried to come to Robo's aid. How very unlike him. He looked up as Kradish jumped inhumanly high, over Robo, to retrieve his hammer. By the time Robo had turned, Kradish's hammer was swinging toward his head.


Same Time

Yes, thought Geddicus. Yes, yes, yes! It's almost done. And he was right. The flying machine, the Epoch, was almost fixed, and his ticket to escape would soon come. He closed the hood, and jumped into the driver's seat, deciding to test one of the systems.

"Epoch," he began, "run systems analysis." Garbled noises came through the twin speakers now installed on the repaired control board. He cursed crossly. "Still not working right. Well, back to the drawing board." He decided to sit down on his stool for a time, looking out of his cell at the robots outside. As he watched, a figure made its way through the mass of moving metal. He sat forward. Soon enough, he could see that the form was indeed human. He stood. He didn't know why the robots weren't attacking him, but didn't care. It was a human! Finally the man (he could see now that it was a man) was standing before his cell. He was handsome, with long black hair, and wore a tuxedo darker than night, with shining buttons. The man smiled, and stepped through the forcefield. It snapped and crackled, but his entrance was otherwise unnoted. Geddicus gaped. The man smiled.

"Hello, Gedd. I'm Thanatos. How are you?" Geddicus stuttered, "How did you know my name?" Thanatos smiled.

"Oh, I know lots of things, Gedd. Like how you got the Atrox Converter reversed in that contraption." Geddicus thought for a moment, and then slapped his head.

"Of course! Why didn't I think of that?" He turned back to the Epoch, but remembered his guest. He turned again.

"How did you get in? And why didn't the robots attack you?" Thanatos waved the questions away.

"Don't worry about that. What you should think about is fixing that device and getting us out of here." Geddicus cocked his head.

"You mean you're trapped here, too?" Thanatos chuckled.

"No. But I have a few friends who would like their ship back."


Same Time

Robo fell heavily (he couldn't fall any other way) to the ground. His energy whip crackled and sputtered, and extingushed. The energy shield did the same. He stood, a few parts rattling. Kradish laughed.

"It's the perfect strategy, right? Know your enemy. And while you've been a worthy enemy, I'm afraid I must say good bye." He threw the hammer, and it hit Robo squarely in the right visual sensor. Robo fell again. Kradish, smiling, turned away, and began to walk toward the wizard, still futilely fighting the electric field. Might as well kill two birds with one stone. He froze at a slight sound, rising in pitch. He spun, and saw Robo fire the weapon on his shoulder. Kradish yelled as a bright green ball of energy flew out of the cannon, and slammed into his chest. Robo flinched as it exploded, sending sparks high into the air. The electric field faded, and Magus jumped down.

"Did you kill him," Magus yelled from across the arena. Robo nodded. Magus was soon standing by him, and they watched the smoke clear. There was nothing there. Not even remains. Magus frowned. There should have been. Magus cried out as a blunt object struck him in the base of his skull, and he fell. Robo turned, and soon fell, with a hammer partially lodged in his circuitry. Kradish stood over them, triumphantly. He slowly began to rise up in the air.

"Don't you understand," he cried. "You can't kill a Hellbound!" Cries of fear erupted from the audience, but he didn't seem to care. He stayed, floating above them. Magus regained consciousness, and rolled over. He gasped at the sight, and tried to move, but found that his body wasn't responding. It seemed he was under the effect of a spell similar to Flea's Chaos Effect. The hammer restricted Robo's movement, and all he could do was stare up at their doom. Kradish smiled, and raised his hand. A ball of electricity formed in his palm. It slowly grew in size, and Robo could see that Kradish was not going to take chances. And then Kradish's ball of energy stopped growing. He was looking around, searching. Soon, everyone could hear a low hum. It gradually grew louder, until there was no sound but it. Deciding to finish the job, he looked down and threw the ball of energy. Magus and Robo braced themselves for the end. And then everything was dark.

Magus sat up, free of the binding spell, and looked around. Everything was dark, as if seen through smoked glass. The ball of energy was above them, frozen, a few feet away. Magus pulled the hammer out of Robo, and helped him up. They moved out from under the energy ball, and looked around. Kradish was still floating, but wasn't frozen. He looked around, and down at the two below. He dropped down to the ground, next to where his energy ball would have landed, had it not frozen in place.

"I don't know how you did that," he stated, "but I'll finish you anyway." He started forward, and the hammer flew to his hand. Magus prepared to throw a fireball, and Robo aimed his shoulder cannon. None of them finished. A harsh screeching seemed to shatter everything, and the real world came back full of noise. Kradish looked up as the energy ball slammed into the ground a few feet away, detonating. He was thrown forward, over the other two. He landed with a hard thud on the ground, and slowly stood back up. But Magus and Robo were no longer paying attention to him. They were paying attention to something they hadn't ever seen.

All around the arena, black portals were appearing with their trademark tearing noise, and then disappearing in a few moments. Kradish yelled out something unintelligible, and rushed Magus and Robo. They turned to him.

"He doesn't know when to quit," Magus grumbled.

"Neither do you," Robo replied. They braced for Kradish, but a portal appeared in front of him. Kradish ran around it, but another appeared there as the first vanished. He threw his hammer, at them, but it was caught by a portal, and came out of another nearby portal, hitting him in the back of the head. Robo and Magus were also being plagued with portals, but having better luck, since they were mostly staying in the same place. Finally, yelling at the top of his lungs, Kradish charged the two. He just barely got out of the way as a portal opened behind him, but he didn't notice. Magus did.

Cupping his hands in Kradish's direction, Magus yelled, and a black bolt of lightning shot out, and struck the man in his chest. He flew back, and screamed as he sank into the portal. He didn't reappear. Robo noted out loud that the portals seemed to be appearing more and more often in their area, as if they were closing in. Agreeing, Magus, dragging Robo, began to run, staying away from the portals. They jumped out of the area, just as the final portal was in place. Turning, they could see the portals, all in one globular mass. They finally merged into one huge black ball. The ball visibly flattened, so that it was now a huge portal. And then it shrank, becoming the size of a normal portal. A figure jumped out, landing lightly on his feet. He looked around for a moment, and, spying Magus, walked forward.

"Magus," Rakin began, "you look like you've been through hell. What happened?" Magus was about to respond, when an overwhelming roar sounded all around. There were men, women, and soldiers all around, many with weapons.

"Kill the magic-using Kingdom scum," one man shouted. Rakin turned back to Magus.

"Uh, did I miss something?"


What fools these mortals be.
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca


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