Chrono Continuum Chapter 43

Clear and Present Danger

By Cain

1020 AD

"Looks like a confrontation to me," Hotwire whispered.

Rakin nodded. Indeed it did. Standing at the edge of the forest, they could see Zenan bridge to the south. An encampment was set up on the north and south sides of the bridge, but no movement was detected. It looked like a battle was about to take place, but everyone was waiting for it to begin.

Rakin wondered if his father was there. After all, Guardia castle didn't exist. When they had tried to find it, they only found a town similar to Truce. And the citizens hadn't exactly given them a warm welcome. Rakin could understand why. Most of the people from the Kingdom looked normal enough, and could easily infiltrate the towns, unless precautions had been taken.

"Well," Rakin finally told them, "I guess we'd better go check it out."

"Why bother," Lauren asked. "Why don't we just go to the... Beginning of Time, like we're supposed to?"

Hotwire looked at her, annoyed. "Come on. We can't just leave them in a predicament. Besides, Rakin came to this time to find some people close to him. These people could help us out."

Rakin nodded. "Yeah. My Dad might be down there. Knowing him, he'd get directly involved in the battle. I just hope he's alright." He was silent for a moment, then continued, "Well, let's go get Epoch. She can get us there pretty quickly."

He turned back to the forest, but Hotwire put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "She'll only draw unwanted attention, Rakin. We should walk."

"But what if we need to get out of this era in a hurry?"

Hotwire smiled. She held up her metal hand, and asked, "You hear that Epoch?"

Rita's voice came out of an unseen device in the hand, "Loud and clear."

Rakin blinked. " What the...?"

"I fixed up this link while you were... relieving yourself. If we need her, we can call her in a jif." Her good idea was given a shrug from Lauren, acting as if she didn't care. Like she'd been acting all day.

They set off, toward Zenan bridge. As they walked, a thought occurred to him. "What's a jif?"


Same Time

"Halt! Who goes there," the sentry called out. Muffled curses sounded out from behind the bush, and a voice muttered, "I knew we should have taken Epoch."

As the sentry stepped forward, longbow in hand, he told them, "Show yourselves!"

By llight of the recently risen moon, the sentry saw a young man stand up. His shirt was untucked, and his hair was messed up. In a moment a young woman also stood up. Her brown hair was frazzled, and a few of the buttons of her sweater were undone. The guard smiled knowingly. "Are you off-duty, son," the man asked the boy.

"Well, um," he stammered, blushing. The woman looked away, as if this was none of her concern.

The man shook his head. "Ah, youth. You should get back to your post, son. When the battle's over, you and your lady-friend can all the time to yourselves that you want. Okay?"

The boy nodded nervously, and started walking towards camp. The young woman tagged along close to him. The sentry chuckled as she put her arm around his waist. Young love. He turned back around, and continued his patrol.


Same Time

Once they were out of the sentry's vision, Rakin sighed in relief. Hotwire's quickly formed plan had worked. As Hotwire materialize out of thin air a few feet away, Rakin whispered, "I can't believe that worked!"

Hotwire shrugged, keeping a serious expression. "I'm just a genius, I guess."

Rakin turned to congratulate Lauren on her acting, but he found that she was still right by him, her arm around his waist. "Uh, Lauren...?"

She looked up at him, then at her arm, and yanked it away, as if it were burning. "Cold out here tonight," she commented, explaining her closeness to him, and the subsequent blush on her cheeks.

Rakin nodded. "Sure is. Let's go get warm at the camp." And he started walking again, the two girls flanking him.

In a minute or so, they had reached the camp. It wasn't very cheery at all. Grim-faced soldiers sharpened their weapons. Bottles of liquor were passed around, to calm the anxious. One man reached up to pinch Lauren's thigh, but no one else seemed interested in them. Lauren was interested in the whole thing. It was obvious she'd never seen a battle camp. Then again, neither had Rakin. Still, he was too concerned for his father to be impressed.

After a lot of searching, they finally found a tent that was marked with the symbol Hotwire told Rakin stood for the Resistance. This had to be the royal tent. As they had expected, there was a guard. One, thought. Why only one?

"Who goes there," the guard asked Up close, the firelight gave them a good view of them. He was tall, with long curly hair. An eyepatch covered his left eye. His clothes were almost regal, giving the impression that he was an advisor of sorts. But Rakin could feel something about this man. Something different. He continued, "I asked you, already, who goes there."

"Oh, um... We need to speak to the king," Rakin stuttered, trying not to give away his identity. Even in this camp, spies could be listening.

"I'm sorry, but he and the queen are sleeping right now. Can I help you?"

"Mothe... the queen? I thought she was sick."

"She was. She has since recovered."

Rakin sighed, relieved. He had been worried that in her state, she would be vulnerable to the minions of the Kingdom. Apparently, nothing could keep either of his parents down. The guard was beginning to look at him strangely, so Rakin made up a reason. "Uh... we're out of... Jerky."

"Well, eat something else," the man replied. He looked at Rakin carefully, and Rakin got the distinct feeling that he was trying to get him to tell the truth. The man spoke before Rakin could do any such thing, "You know, you look a lot like the King."

"Really? Uh... thanks. I'm told he's a handsome man... Well, we'll be going, then," he managed, and walked away, followed by the girls.

" 'I'm told he's a handsome man?' Why didn't you just tell him the truth," Hotwire asked.

Rakin shrugged. "That guy intimidated me. I don't know why. Come on. We can go see my dad in the morning. For now, let's just go to sleep."

Lauren looked around, and back to Rakin. "Sleep where?"


Same Time

Rakin suddenly awoke, and looked around sleepily. He groaned from pain as he got up and stretched. They'd had to sleep in the food storage tent, and Rakin, being a gentleman, had taken the least comfortable place, wedged between two boxes, while the girls slept on the boxes. The others weren't awake yet, which surprised Rakin. All the comotion outside would surely awake such a light sleeper as Lauren. Or had the light sleeper thing been just an act to get to him? Reaching up, he found decent places on the girls to grab, and shook them both. They woke up quickly.

Outside the tent, soldiers were running, armed to the teeth. Surprisingly, a large number of soldiers were women. The war with the Kingdom had apparently made the army free to any who would join. Rakin, Hotwire, and Lauren had to work just to keep from being run down to the ground by the rushing soldiers. Waiting for a convenient opening in the masses, they started running, across the flow, towards the Royal tent. If the King wasn't awake now, he never would be.

They jumped into the tent, half-expecting several guards to drag them out immediately. No such thing happened. As they looked around, they saw that the tent was empty, save a bed, a chair, and a desk. No one was there. The King was gone. They turned as they heard the tent flap open. Two men had just run in. One wore an old hat, and a trenchcoat. The other wore colorful clothes and sunglasses. On their entering, Rakin gasped. "Gaspar and Melchior!"

He ran and embraced the two old men, who were already tired and out of breath, and told him to let go. He pulled back, but started talking before they could say a word. "Gaspar, I can't believe you're alive. And Melchior, you're just fine too. Oh, man, I've had a hard time getting here, and I've met new friends, and-"

"Whoah, there, Rakin," the old man in the hat, Gaspar, told Rakin. "Slow down. Our hearing's not what it used to be."

Melchior butted in, "It's good to see you, Rakin," and started shaking his hand, while Gaspar continued talking.

"I knew it. I knew it was you. As soon as Dalton told us about the blond boy who looked like Crono, accompanied by two girls, we knew it was you. It's good to have you back. Although I take it the adventure isn't over yet?"

By now, Melchior had finished shaking his hand, and Rakin took the oppurtunity to speak. "You're right, Gaspar, it's not over. But I've made some friend who are going to help me." He turned to the girls, and allowed the two men to see the two women. Melchior whistled. "Gaspar, Melchior, I'd like you to meet my new friends. Christina, also known as Hotwire, or Chris, and Lauren... Lauren..."

"Mandall," she finished for him. "Lauren Mandall."

Melchior introduced himself to the girls, happy to meet any new allies, or just perhaps to meet them in particular. Gaspar, on the other hand, looked thoughtful. Something's troubling him, Rakin thought. But he didn't have time for that now. "Gaspar, where are my Mom and Dad?"

Gaspar looked up at him with a look of some concern. "Now, Rakin, don't do anything to rash..."

Rakin gripped the old man's shoulders. "What? What is it? Did something happen to them?"

Gaspar pulled Rakin's hands off of him. "No, it's just... Your father has joined directly in the battle, and we're not sure where your mother is."

Gaspar didn't even have the time to repeat his admonition not to do anything rash. Everyone in the tent could barely see with the dust that Rakin's departure had left in the tent. All of them ran out of the tent to try to catch up with them, but he was already halfway to the bridge. None of them had ever seen someone run so fast. (None of them had met Ledune yet, either) So, Hotwire announced the only logical thing to do.

"Let's kick some butt," she yelled out as she ran off as well.


Same Time

Rakin didn't really notice that he was running at super-human speed. Or that his friends hadn't come with him. All he knew was that his parents were somewhere around here, in danger. He knew they could handle themselves on most occasions, but this wasn't most occasions. Rakin had seen Adom's horde. Even while trying to escape, they had barely survived. And that was with Epoch. And in a war like this, at least one "Hellbound", as Hotwire called them, was sure to be involved, besides Adom. His parents were in trouble.

He stopped suddenly, as an ear-splitting roar sounded. He looked up, annoyed that something would try to impede his progress. About twenty feet above him, a towering form, about twenty feet tall, hovered, as if it were weightless. It's face was that of a dog, or wolf, and blades extended from the elbows, instead of the lower arm.

He ignored it, running underneath, knowing he'd be past it before it could land and attack him. He was right. But as he ran on, it howled again, for no discernible reason. He ignored the howl.

Once again, however, he slid to a halt, as a strange portal opened up. Out of it came three beasts. They were strange creatures, with horns. They hovered above the ground, all watching him. None of them had legs, but their arms were thickly muscled with huge claws at the end. They didn't make a sound, but just blocked his path.

Rakin, still on an adrenalin high, yelled out, "You guys wanna dance, huh?" He reached for his sword, and pulled... nothing. He glanced down and saw that his sheath was empty. He cursed, remembering that he had thrown away the wooden sword he had, although it was just as well. It wouldn't have done any good against these creatures. Still, it was comforting to have a sword in your hand.

One of the creatures, rather abruptly, floated forward and swung its fist at Rakin. Rakin jumped back, the fist swinging so close by him that his shirt flapped as if caught in the wind.

As soon as he landed, Rakin jumped forward, and stuck his leg out, attempting to kick the thing in the forehead. The creature made no attempt to dodge the attack. The kick connected, but Rakin cried out in pain as it did. He fell to the ground heavily, getting the breath knocked out of him in the process. His arm whacked painfully on a hard object. A glance to the side revealed that it was a dead man, still holding his shield and sword. The creature was almost as hard as rock, and the kick had had no discernible effect. But it did have an effect.

The creature placed its palms together, almost as if praying, and five strange-looking balls of energy rose from behind it. One by one, the balls shot toward him, as he lay defenseless there. Rakin had a feeling that he should be praying as well right now.


"Out of the frying pan into the fire"
-Tertullian [Quintus Septimius Tertullianus]


Go To Chapter 44

Return To CT Fanfic