Chrono Continuum Chapter 44
What is it Good For?
Knowing that he couldn't count on the fireballs missing him, Rakin decided to do something about it. He rolled to the side, onto the dead man, allowing the fireballs to crash through the bridge, into the water below. Bits of debris from the bridge flew in all directions, one plank striking him in his side and knocking the breath out of him.
Rakin found himself face-down, his breath short. He knew the creature was hovering above him, no doubt about to finish him off, but Rakin couldn't force himself to rise without the cooperation of his lungs.
A whistling sound caught Rakin's attention. Doubting that the sound was benign, Rakin acted quickly. Grabbing the corpse's hand, (and apologizing silently) he pulled it roughly around him, so that the dead warrior's shield was on Rakin's back. An instant later, something slammed hard into the shield, and Rakin saw an iron ball roll off. Regaining his breath, Rakin quickly pried the man's now-dented shield from his hand, and the sword from the other hand, and got up.
He found himself now surrounded by the three creatures. Simultaneously, they all raised their arms, and brought them down to smash his head open. But he wasn't there to receive their blows.
Dropping back to the ground, Rakin rolled underneath one of the floating creatures, out of the circle, and into a standing position, sword at the ready. The creatures slowly turned around, and began to float toward him. Rakin was ready. He just hoped the sword would be more effective than his foot.
Hotwire, Gaspar, Melchior, Lauren, and Dalton all stopped at once, as a huge black creature landed on the bridge before them. It was ugly, to say the least. With blades in place of its forearms and saliva dripping from its fangs, it made a threatening sight. It didn't speak, but its growl clearly conveyed that it had no intention of letting them pass.
"A Canis," Dalton informed everyone, "Go on, you all. I can handle this thing." He quickly glanced around. "I don't see Rakin's body. He must have gotten past it. He might need help. Go."
It didn't take any more encouragement for the others to continue running. The Canis let them pass by, intent on the wizard before it. Dalton silently wished his allies good luck, and started muttering the key words to a spell.
"Aw, come on," Rakin moaned as his sword shattered on the hard armor. His shield lay bent in half a few feet away. As of yet, Rakin hadn't caused any actual damage, and was having trouble staying alive. He'd tried to call on his power to destroy these things, but he couldn't connect with it.
Why?, he asked himself, It always came before when I was desperate enough. But for now, he just had to stay alive until he could think of a plan. Although all he could think about for the moment was how stupid it had been to run off alone.
He didn't have time to consider his mistakes, however, as one of the creatures got hold of him and slammed him against the bridge, holding him there. Rakin prepared for the final blow as it brought its other arm up to finish him off.
There was a flash of light, and the creature was thrown off of Rakin. He leapt to his feet to see his savior: Hotwire stood thirty feet away, her spear still smoking. Rakin smiled, glad to see her. Lauren stood by her, apparently glad to see him.
He quickly ran over to join the two women, and soon saw that Gaspar and old man Melchior had somehow gotten here as well. His first response was the obvious one: "What took you guys so long?"
This was promptly followed by a smack to the back of the head from Hotwire. Smiling, Rakin forgot that question and asked the two old men, "How'd you two keep up with them?"
Melchior raised an eyebrow. "Are you kidding? We were virtually dragging these girls along."
Rakin was about to give a similarly witty reply, but saw that their attentions were no longer focused on him. He turned to see what had sobered them, and saw that the creature that had been blasted was now floating again, and its eyes were glowing brightly. Electricity started to flow from its hands, around the body. The creature thrust its arms out, releasing a wave of electricity. Before they could even think to dodge, the humans were knocked from their feet.
"They... didn't do that... before," Rakin moaned as he sat up, his body steaming.
As they all began to get up, Melchior told him, "They're Golems. They... copy whatever's used on them. So... be careful what you do."
Everyone nodded in agreement. "Alright" Rakin announced, taking his role as leader, "Melchior and Gaspar, can you handle one of them?" At their nods, he continued, "Okay, Hotwire, you take the other. I'll try to hold the last one off until the other two are down. Everyone got that?"
Everyone nodded but Lauren, who asked, "And what can I do?"
Rakin considered it for a moment, and finally replied, "You can help me. Alright everyone, let's go!"
The Canis' head fell to the ground, dissolving almost instantly. The body soon followed, and Dalton had to move out of the way before it crushed him. He looked around, getting his bearings. As soon as he had gotten them, he dashed off down the bridge.
The golem flinched in pain as the force spell Gaspar had cast slammed it to the planks of the bridge. Melchior followed up by jumping onto the creature's "belly" and stabbing downward with his spelled sword. Multiple fireballs threw Melchior off of it, and Gaspar hit the bridge hard as he dodged a falling iron ball.
Not so easily thrown aside, Melchior grasped his sword firmly and began to spin very fast. His sword made a whistling sound as it cut through the air. Finally, he released the sword, and it flew towards the creature, embedding itself in its shoulder. As usual, the creature made no sound at the pain.
The creature lunged for Melchior, and missed. Gaspar, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, grabbed the hilt of the sword stuck in the golem's shoulder, and yelled "Spark!" The sword flashed a bright yellow, and electricity blasted into the creature, throwing it twenty feet away, where it landed on the bridge, smoking. Gaspar tossed the sword to Melchior, and they both prepared as the golem began to rise, shakily. It wasn't over yet.
Hotwire began her battle by going chameleon. She ran up to the golem and swung her spear as hard as she could. And the golem grabbed it. Hotwire's colors changed to normal as the golem could obviously see her anyway. It tore the spear out of her hand and flung it, where it stuck into the wood of the bridge not too far away. And then the creature grabbed her with one hand, pinning her arms to her sides.
Hotwire cried out in pain as the golem slammed her against the bridge once, again, again. Hotwire was blacking out. She knew she wouldn't be able to stay conscious for long. She looked around for some escape, but her vision was going black. She was almost blind. The golem brought her closer to look her in the face, as if to taunt her. She took the oppurtunity.
Hotwire brought back her leg, and kicked as hard as she could, scoring with a hit to the eye. The golem dropped her, and held both hands to its eye. Rolling to her feet, Hotwire took a moment to look for her spear, and dashed off towards it. She was almost to it when she felt a strong blow to her back.
She fell to the ground, hitting her nose on the hard boards. She turned over, dizzy, and saw twin golems hovering above her. It didn't take her long to realize there was only one golem there. But two or one, it was raising its arm to smash its fist down on her chest. As the fist came down, she scooted back, away from the fist. Not far or fast enough.
She screamed as the fist hammered down on her left leg. Looking down at it, she could see that her leg was bent in an unnatural direction. Bile began to rise in her throat. She looked up at the creature to see it clasp both hands, and raise them above its head. She looked away at the spear. So close. She could reach it. She was certain she could. She began to push herself with her right leg, but it was still a foot away. The golem began to bring its fists down. Closer. The golem opened its mouth in a silent roar. Closer. Almost...
The golem suddenly stopped, its hands unclasping. It looked down at the shaft of the spear protruding from its still-open mouth. It couldn't see the blade sticking out of its back. The golem slowly descended to the bridge, onto its back. It feebly tried to pull the spear out of its throat. It stopped as Hotwire's hand grabbed onto the shaft as well.
"Here," she sneered, while trying to sit up, "let me help."
The spear flashed brightly, and energy shone out of the golem's mouth. Hotwire was thrown back as the golem explode, into thousands of tiny black pieces. Hotwire hit the bridge hard, and simply lay there. She couldn't get up. She didn't even remember actually throwing the spear, or reaching it, but she must have. She only hoped that she could help her friends. Or maybe they didn't need her help. She blacked out.
Rakin ducked as the golem swung at him, and jumped over the second swing. He prepared to dodge again, but the golem suddenly raised its arms, as if trying to scratch its back. Rakin soon saw why. Lauren was hanging on its back, and the golem was frantically spinning, bucking, and reaching to get her off. She reached into a pocket, and pulled out a metal container. Putting it in the golem's face, she pressed a switch on the top, and some sort of liquid sprayed out, into the golem's eyes. The golem gave out a silent roar, and threw Lauren off. She hit the boards hard, and didn't get back up. The golem began to flail about madly, trying to strike something. It succeeded.
Rakin grunted as the golem smacked him in the chest. Now that the golem knew where he was, it began to move toward him, swinging it fists around. One blow happened to hit Rakin in the temple, darkening his vision. Nearly blind, he couldn't defend against the blows of the golem. The golem gave him a particularly hard backhand, which sent Rakin flying into the railing along the edge of the bridge, headfirst. Rakin tried to get up, but couldn't. He looked down, and saw a large piece of wood... jutting from his shoulder. Woozily, he thought that he had been impaled on one of the broken rails of the bridge.
In another moment, he was out.
Magus spun around suddenly, forgetting about the gate he had recently summoned. The black wind had blown very strongly for a moment. He got the feeling he should help, but didn't know where and when the problem was. And he didn't have the time to find out with half of the town hunting him. You just use one little fire spell and suddenly you're from the Kingdom. Well, he was getting out of the Middle Ages now, before the witch-burners caught up with him. He just hoped that whatever had happened wasn't as bad as it felt.
The golem came closer, its vision clear now, and prepared to finish the job, just in case. But it suddenly fell to the bridge, a smoking hole in its back. Dalton rushed up, jumping over the golem carcass, to check on Rakin. He checked for a pulse, and frowned at the result. Slinging the boy over his shoulder, he turned around. The third golem was dead as well, slashed from every side. Gaspar and Melchior were walking closer.
"Come on, we need to get these three back to camp. It doesn't look good for Rakin." When the two men nodded, he continued, "I'll carry Hotwire, you two carry... whats-her-name over there." They both nodded, not even bothering to correct him about her name. It didn't seem very important with one, if not all three of them in critical condition.
They all turned at a loud roar further down the bridge. The last thing they needed was another fight. But they sighed in relief, as they saw who it was. Humans. Resistors. The army, back from a successful battle. They explained enough to some of the soldiers to get their help in carrying the three back.
Far in the back, the King and Queen now rode on horses, not even aware how close their son was at this very moment. Or of his condition.
Rakin stood alone, in a vast area, comprised of nothing. Rather than the misty nothingness of the End of Time, however, this nothingness was bright, diffuse light. He looked down to see what he was standing on, but couldn't make out anything but more of the same light that pervaded the place. He glanced to his shoulder to see his wound, but saw none, just the clothes he had had on when he had fought the golems... and blacked out.
"Where am I?" he asked, hoping for an answer. His voice echoed throughout the nothingness, until it abruptly ended, as if whoever had made the sound effect was suddenly tired of it. He asked the question again, this time with no echoes in response, but once again received no answer. Looking around told him nothing. There was nothing there.
And then there was something. Two somethings. He didn't even remember seeing them appear, but there they were, as if they'd always been there, yet invisible to him. Perhaps they had been. These two somethings were more than somethings however. They had definite shape, almost like that of humans.
But they were different. One was blindingly bright, so bright that Rakin would normally have had to shield his eyes. Even the light pervading this place was nothing compared to this figure's brightness. The other was in stark contrast, a thing that was so dark that it defied any description Rakin could give it. It seemed to suck in all the light around it, making its edges rather indefinite. And they were both standing side by side, opposites, yet similar. And they spoke.
"Why is he here?" the light one asked, in a calm, soothing voice.
"Beats me. Probably a special case," the dark one replied in a harsh whisper.
"They're all special cases."
Rakin had to break in. "Excuse me. But where am I? And who are you? I really need to get back to my friends."
There was silence for a moment. And then the dark one began to laugh. It was a wholly unpleasant sound.
The light one stepped forward, and his tone became sympathetic. "I'm sorry, young man. But you seem to be dead."
"To bring back loved ones; that's what everyone wants. Crono must be proud
to have friends like you."