Chrono Continuum Chapter 4
Rakin asked the question that was foremost on his mind. "How do you know my dad?" was his question to the old man in the dull, brown suit in front of him.
"How long's it been?" he asked nobody in particular. "Fifteen, twenty years? Ah, I met your father, and your mother, too, I'd wager. She was a pretty one, back when they were time traveling." He continued on without letting Rakin interrupt. "Yes, they'd just found Robo-" not letting Rakin ask who Robo was- "and so they were traveling in a group of four. Now the Conservation of Time theorem states that only three beings can time travel at the same time. If more go, they end up in the space-time coordinates of least resistance. Here," he added.
He finally let Rakin talk. "Who was Robo, and who are you, and why are we here, and what is he,?" he pointed at Spekkio, "and what the-" he decided to tone down the language in front of the old man. "And what in the heck is going on here!?"
Rakin was rankled to find that the old man seemed completely unphased by the barrage of questions. He wanted answers, dammit! The old man cleared his throat and answered each question, in the correct order.
"Robo was a bipedal humanoid robot circa two thousand-three hundred A.D. He became a permanent ally of your father's during their traveling days.
"My name is Gaspar, and I am from the kingdom and era of Zeal. I'm also known as the Guru of Time, to some, although I wish I had been given a title like Reason or Life. I was transported and have remained here since an accident involving an interplanetary being known as Lavos.
"You are here because this is the End of Time, and there's nowhere further to go along the time stream, because as I said, this is the End. Time will never quite catch up with the End, and will therefore not end.
"He is Spekkio, self-proclaimed Master of War. While I'm not sure about that, I do know that he can bestow magic upon those he deems worthy. He followed me here. I don't know what the hell he is, although he usually looks like a red Nu, so don't ask me. He won't tell me. Talk to him when you can. He's useful.
"And someone is changing the past, thereby altering everyone's present and future. I believe that you, that young girl, and that woman are trying to stop these alterations. Obviously, Lucca must have given you all devices to keep your realities along your original timelines. And you should really calm down. Young people are so impatient."
Rakin took a moment to absorb all this, and then he took a few more moments. He was still lost on much of it, and Gaspar looked as if he was about to launch into another lecture, but Rakin fumbled to beat him to the punch. He decided on the one subject he halfway understood.
"So, uh, Spekkio, you give out magic, huh? Could you give me some?" Gaspar seemed to deflate as the explanation he had prepared was stopped before it began. And it was such a good one, too, he thought.
Now Spekkio took on a regal, important look, and began talking on his subject. "Yeah, sure, kid. But first tell me something. Do I look weak or strong to you?"
Rakin looked at the white fur and the big eyes, and made a sound that didn't really mean anything at all. He wouldn't want to insult someone who could give him abilities like the few Mystics he had met.
Spekkio continued, not really seeming to have listened to the answer. "I see. Alright, here's the deal. The stronger I look, the stronger you are. So, if I look weak and cute, you're a green horn. If I look like I could kick anyone's ass, that's exactly what you could do. Cool, huh?
"Anyway, I believe you might need some magic for this little mission. And I don't mean like pulling a rabbit out of your hat. Now then, just walk clockwise around my room three times, and-" he was cut off as Gaspar nudged him and gestured to the gaping hole in the platform on which they all stood. Spekkio continued, "Oh, yeah, you three destroyed my room. Are you going to make restitution?"
Rakin had some money on him, but he doubted that it would be useful here. He was about to ask Gaspar's suggestion, which Gaspar seemed bursting to give him, (talking to Spekkio apparently wasn't enough to satisfy his need for company) but Spekkio was already back to talking, and Rakin had to focus his attention back on the small creature.
"Anyways, since you can't walk around my room, you can... climb the lamppost." He pointed toward the rusty light fixture.
"No way," Gaspar interjected. "It's already slightly damaged. If he climbs it, he might tip it over, and then we won't be able to tell where the edges of the platform are. Besides, the girl and woman might think they were dead or blind if they woke up in the dark."
"Don't worry those three grey hairs on your head," Spekkio assured the old man. "I'll use my magic to keep it steady." With that, hustled Gaspar out of the way and raised an inviting arm toward the post. Rakin walked up to it and looked up. It wasn't that high. He wondered if getting magic had been this easy for his dad.
Rakin jumped onto the pole, and immediately clung for dear life. He suddenly felt much heavier.
"Spekkio!" Gaspar cried. "Don't make him heavier. You'll break the post for sure."
Spekkio simply concentrated, ignoring the Guru, and a green glow encompassed the pole, apparently keeping it intact. Rakin stayed there a moment longer, then slowly began to climb. He reached the top, and felt suddenly light as a feather. He slid down and landed gracefully on his feet.
Gaspar smiled and he and Rakin looked to Spekkio expectantly. The bundle of fluff asked, "What?"
"Well, do I get magic or not?" the impatient teen asked the creature. Gaspar added a scolding look to the furry animal, but he seemed more proud of Rakin than mad at Spekkio.
Spekkio looked to go into deep thought, and then seemed to be concentrating. After a moment, the two humans heard a low snoring sound coming from the thing. Rakin's eyes opened in surprise at Spekkio's inability to pay attention, but Gaspar merely nudged him with his cane. It pushed Spekkio back, and he landed on his back, sputtering and snorting as he awoke. He looked up at Rakin, and asked, "Are you still here?"
"You never gave him magic," Gaspar reminded Spekkio, as if used to having to do so.
"Oh. Okay, let me look into your eyes," Spekkio stood and looked into Rakin's green eyes. Green like his fathers' eyes. "Hmmmmmmm, not water like blondie, hmmmmmmmm, not lightning like punk hair, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, not fire like four-eyes." Rakin didn't know what to make of this. He looked to Gaspar who shrugged. He looked back to Spekkio.
"Well," said Spekkio, "I can't give you magic."
Rakin looked down. Damn, he thought.
"However," Spekkio continued, "I can do something else for you. I'm not completely sure what this is going to do, but I think it'll come in handy."
Spekkio closed his eyes and pointed both paws at Rakin. "Ipso facto meenie moe, not-so-Magico," Spekkio chanted.
Rakin felt very dizzy for a moment as the End of Time spun around him. He fell to his knees as he felt something... missing. Or was it something added?
The dizziness abated, and he got up. He felt different, but he was already adjusting to whatever he felt. He looked to thank Spekkio, and saw something strange. Spekkio stood the same as before, but Rakin could see the vague imprint of a human-sized, bug-eyed, red creature overlaid with the sight of Spekkio. Its appendages seemed to come directly out of its head, and it looked almost comical.
Spekkio's voice came from both mouths, "What do you see?"
"I think I see the red Nu Gaspar mentioned, but that's not quite what you are. I can't even guess what you might be."
Gaspar walked up to Rakin, turned the teen, and asked, "Do you see anything when you see me?" Rakin looked into the old man's eyes, and slowly began to see something.
"Melchior, Melchior...," the Guru was running down a hall, calling a familiar name. The running man was the same who stood before Rakin, only less wrinkled, more darkly haired, and with fine clothing.
After a few minutes of this, the young Gaspar burst into a door, and saw his bearded friend hammering on a shining object. "Melchior," Gaspar panted.
The man turned, sweat on his brow, and Mune turned with him. Gaspar could see Masa sitting in a corner, patterns of light appearing between his outstretched hands. If the patterns were interesting enough, they were placed onto a sheet of paper. Uninteresting patterns were allowed to dissipate. It was a popular form of art in Zeal.
"What's up, Gaspar?" asked Melchior. "I'm a little busy."
"Melchior, you must help me. The prince has sealed himself in my library."
"So?" asked Mune, not easily worried. Masa still ignored them all.
"Melchior, I heard him reciting the password to my private study. Among other things, my Chrono Triggers are in there!"
Melchior whipped off his goggles, and Mune went to rummage through the mess on one of many scrap-covered tables. He pulled out a rather simple-looking tool, no doubt meaning to use it to get into Gaspar's private study, and they dashed into the hallway, Masa just now noticing something had happened.
Rakin lost the vision, and explained what he had seen. Gaspar's mouth hung open the entire time, until he finally slapped the prince's shoulder and remarked, "Amazing! He could read my past. I wonder if he could do that for the future as well."
Rakin smiled at the idea of what he could do if he learned to control his powers. He was about ask Spekkio exactly what his powers were when another scene came before his eyes.
"Do you know what Shadows are, Gaspar?" he asked.
Gaspar looked at the young man in surprise. His reply was, "Why, yes I've just come up with that term to describe... Did you have another vision?"
"Yes. I saw you raving that 'No one escapes the shadows.' "
Gaspar spoke quickly. "Did I look any different? No? Well, it's either the near future or an alternate timeline. Ah, well, let's wake Spekkio and see what he has to say."
Rakin wondered at the abrupt change of subject, but Gaspar had already turned and was nudging Spekkio, who awoke. He looked up, and Gaspar told him, "He can read the past with remarkable accuracy. I'm not sure if he simply read my memories, or if he read the actual flow of time. He also has some vision of possible futures, and I would wager he can read auras. He should be quite powerful, with his divination powers, though probably not very powerful in battle."
Spekkio nodded, and turned to the teen. Rakin braced himself for the sarcastic remark he knew was coming. Instead of a verbal barb, however, Spekkio raised one hand and unleashed a blinding beam of energy, aimed directly at Rakin.
Rakin reacted instinctively, putting both arms forward, and a half-sphere of yellow energy formed at his fingertips. Spekkio's beam slammed into the energy bowl, and Rakin held it, there keeping the energy at bay, until he couldn't keep it there anymore, then he threw the surplus energy to his left, and he jumped to the right. The remnants of Spekkio's beam continued on, screaming through the misty void. As Rakin landed, he rolled, drawing out his sword.
"What the hell are you doing!?" yelled Rakin as a ring of fire formed around one of Spekkio's hands, and electricity flowed over the other.
"Defend yourself," Spekkio replied quietly.
Rakin leapt forward and swung his sword directly into Spekkio's body. It met no resistance, and passed directly through the creature. Rakin's momentum brought him forward, allowing him to pass through Spekkio, and he was forced to roll again to end up facing the creature. He sheathed his sword. Damn. So much for winning with my main skills.
Spekkio aimed his hands at Rakin, and an orb flew from each arm, one of fire, one of lightning. Rakin fell straight back before they reached him, seeing them pass directly in front of his face as he landed on his back. The rough landing knocked the breath out of him, and he found himself temporarily unable to move as he fought for breath.
Something caught his attention as he gasped for air. He could feel Spekkio powering up, as clearly as if Spekkio were saying "I've got a fireball in one hand." This new awareness gave him an idea.
He leaned his head back, searching for something. He found it: the ball of energy he had thrown away just a few seconds ago. It was still streaking through the mists. With just a moment of concentration, Rakin somehow changed its course. It turned around in mid-air, and came streaking toward the platform far more quickly than it had left. It screamed over the supine teenager. A moment later, the platform vibrated with the force of a collision; Rakin knew he had hit his target.
He finally looked forward and saw Gaspar staring open-mouthed, and Spekkio trying to get back up. Rakin wasn't about to let this victory go without a bit of theatrics. He jumped off of his back, onto his feet, and smoothed back his hair. It was surprisingly un-mussed. Gaspar walked up to him and threw his arm around Rakin's shoulders. Rakin could feel a bit of healing magic coursing from the touch.
"Well done, my lad. Did you know you could do that?"
"Create a shield, capture Spekkio's energy, and control it, and, well, beating the 'Master of War', of course!"
At this, Spekkio reentered the conversation. "Of course he didn't, Guru Geezer. If he had, he would have been much more stylish about it. And I'd wager that he could do many more impressive things if he could figure out how to regulate his energy usage, rather than acting mostly on instinct."
Spekkio's statement about his style aside, the thought blew Rakin's mind. How powerful could he become?
Gaspar turned to him. "You're powerful, son of Crono..."
"Rakin. My name's Rakin."
"Well, you're powerful, Rakin, but you've got a very long way to go before you are ready to take on some challenges that you'll later consider easy. Well, Timestream Traveler Rakin, what do you have to say?"
Rakin looked down at his stomach. "I'm really hungry. You got any food?"
Gaspar was about to burst into laughter, but a feminine voice sounded from nowhere in particular. "Hello? Rakin? Hellooo... Lucca, do you recognize this place?"
"Oh, yeah, Corea. I know this place. And I know two people you definitely need to meet. It'll be magical."
Rakin awoke. His appetite had been completely sated with a cup full of water from a shining bucket last night. He looked over and saw his sister curled up into a ball, asleep. Her formerly shoulder length brown hair was now in wild disarray, as spiky as their father's ever had been. And it looked like it was going to stay that way. It was apparently a side effect of the power of lightning coursing through you. That was probably why their dad's hair never seemed to look like anything so much as a red crown. Looking at his sister, asleep, he realized that she was becoming very pretty. The wild hair somehow looked right on her, kind of like a birthright.
As he thought that, an image came to him.
A woman with brown, spiky hair stood on a balcony of Rakin's castle (in his own timeline) in a beautiful dress, looking out over the railing. It was obviously Corea, but where was he? If she was an adult, he should be the king. Maybe she was introducing him.
As he waited, he soon heard, "Queen Corea, Ruler of Guardia!" It was chanted over and over until the crowd fell into disorganised cheering. She raised her hands for silence, and it seemed that the birds had even stopped singing. She spoke in a loud voice that carried across the courtyard. She addressed them, "Dear people of Guardia, this day can be attributed to, and only to my dear brother Rakin. If he were only here today, he would say-"
She was cut off by a white flash, and the vision changed.
There were thunderclouds over Guardia. Rakin could see people digging, and carrying logs, all to build a castle where Castle Guardia once should have stood. Muscular men with whips moved in between workers, casually snapping their whips. Rakin floated above it all, dreading it. Was this a potential future?
A laugh began to sound behind him, growing second by second. Rakin slowly turned to face the one who found it all so funny, and came face to face with the most dreadful apparition he could have imagined. That wind he had imagined back on the Epoch was now almost a tangible force. It seemed to suck the very air from his lungs, because his mind could barely contain the implications. Floating above it all, as if a god, was one man.
He wore a robe of the finest material, with emblems that flashed with every strike of lightning. His eyes were deep green, just like his fathers' eyes had been. And his hair, in the exact same shade as that of his mother's, tied back in a ponytail, so as not to get in the way. The man had a scar along his face, but other than that and the ponytail, he was identical to the very last detail. Rakin screamed in horror as the wind blew the vision away from him. But he could still see that face in his sleep.
And he would see it in the mirror for a long time to come.
"What the hell!?"
-Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid