Chrono Continuum Chapter 47

Semper Fidelis

By Cain

1020 AD

"Crono," a voice called to him. A feminine voice. Even through the haze of exhaustion, he could tell who it was. Marle. His wife.

He opened his eyes. Looked around. He soon spotted her, at the entrance to the tent. He smiled, and tried to greet her, but it came out as an incoherent mumble. He'd been very stressed, and tired, from the war effort, even before Rakin returned. Now that he had, Crono had stayed up two days straight, waiting to see if his son would survive, and to see if the enemy would launch a counterstrike. Combined, the two problems had completely sapped his energy.

Marle, of course, had sensed this, and had told him to get some rest in their quarters, meaning their private tent. But Crono had been unable to sleep, had simply lied there. And now she was here, disturbing him. She usually wouldn't do something like that, unless, "Is there something wrong?"

Marle stepped closer. "No, Crono, everything's fine, for now."

"Any news on Rakin's recovery?"

"No," she shook her head, "he's the same. And there is still no news about any plans of the Kingdom to counterattack," she answered his next question. Marle always had been able to anticipate what he was going to say. When he remained silent, she assumed he wanted her to state why she was here. "I just wanted to talk to you."

He sat up, with some effort, and smiled. He invited her to come sit next to him on the edge of the bed, and she did. "What's up," he asked, his smile belying his slight worry.

"I'm just... a bit overwhelmed... What with being pulled out of our timeline, and thrown into a war we never even knew about... Befriending Dalton, and defending our lives against horrible monsters... It's all so..." Here, she lowered her head, and quietly began to sob.

Crono was surprised. His wife was usually stronger than this. But he could understand how she felt. He tried to comfort her, make her feel better. "But, you've done it before. You can handle it again."

"Before...? Oh, well... I'm not as young as I used to be, Crono."

He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to him. "But you're as beautiful as you ever were, my love."

She looked into his eyes for a moment. Crono couldn't quite tell what it was he saw there. He'd never seen it in her eyes before. Perhaps it was depression? She finally spoke, "Would you do anything for me, Crono?"

"Of course, Marle."

"Please Crono, I need something..."


Same Time

Hotwire sighed. She was tired, too. Everyone was. War was a tiring business. So was saving the world. How did heroes ever manage it. She smiled. Maybe one day someone would ask her that question: How does a hero do what they do? And she might be able to answer.

Her attention shifted when she observed some movement. It had come from the cot Rakin was on. She observed closely. There, again! His head moved from one side to the other. She got down off the chair she was sitting on, and got on her knees next to the cot. She picked up his hand, to check his pulse. His expression didn't indicate pain.

And, unexpectedly, he sat up. He looked around, seemingly dazed.

"Everyone," Hotwire called, "Rakin's awake!"

While she waited for everyone to come, she held a gourd of water to his lips, which he drank down thirstily. He then lied back down. He blinked a few times, and then his eyes seemed to focus. He looked at Hotwire. "Lauren," he murmured.

Hotwire, somewhat offended, shook her head, "No, it's me. Hotwire. Chris."

He shook his head, as forcefully as possible. "No. Lauren. Find Lauren." Hotwire was about to respond with some very choice words, but he stopped her with one more word: "Trouble."

"Rakin, what do you mean?"

He tried to sit up again, but was unable. At about this time, Gaspar walked in, soon followed by Melchior. "Power," he muttered, shaking his head from side to side. "Saw glimpse of future. Don't understand it. But... We need to find Lauren."

"It's one of his abilities," Gaspar told her. "He can see through the barriers of time... occasionally. If it's important enough. We'd best listen to his advice."

Hotwire nodded to him, and turned back to Rakin, but he was already unconscious again. "Alright," she announced, "let's go find Lauren."

No sooner had they gotten outside the tent when they ran into the queen. She almost bowled them over in her attempt to get to her son. "I was told that he'd finally awoken," she told them, hopefully.

"He did," Hotwire told her, "but he's sleeping now. He'll be fine. Meanwhile, there's trouble afoot. We need to find Lauren."

Marle, realizing that this must be important, didn't ask questions. "Let's go get Crono," she told them. "I told him to rest in our tent. He was so exhausted, I doubt he's left already. But he'll get up if it's important enough."

Hotwire was surprised at the speed with which the queen ran. Hotwire had trouble keeping up with her. She may be older than she used to be, but she was still in shape.

They reached the tent in no time. They could see that the "Do not disturb" sign was posted. Marle thought that odd. Crono wouldn't put that up just so he could sleep. They all stopped when they heard a scream from inside the tent. A woman's scream. But it didn't sound like one of fear.

"What was that," Hotwire asked, suspiciously.

And then they heard a voice. A man's voice. "Oh, Marle," he cried out.


Same Time

Rakin's eyes opened again. He didn't know how, and he didn't know why, but evil was afoot. Whatever was happening, he had to stop it, or risk the fate of the world.

If only he could actually get up.


Same Time

Crono fell back, exhausted. And he'd thought he'd been tired before. He could barely move, let alone stay awake. He was falling asleep, now next to his wife, when the tent flap opened, revealing that it was still actually daytime.

He yelled angrily, "Didn't you see the-" He looked closely. The intruder was his wife. He looked at the woman next to him. So was she. "What the..."

The Marle at the entrance looked angry at first, then surprised, as the other woman got out of the bed. It was her, down to the tiniest detail. Even the birthmark on her... Well, on her body. But the other Marle's expression was very different. It wasn't one of surprise, but one of satisfaction. What's going on, Marle asked herself.

And then the other Marle began to giggle. And then chuckle. And then it changed to laughter. She looked down at the poor, confused Crono, and asked "Was it as good for you as it was for me?"

Marle's eyes narrowed, and her expression turned to one of rage. She threw a hand out at the other Marle. A shaft of ice formed and flew straight towards her chest. It melted halfway there, and the other Marle was simply splashed with water.

Her smile didn't waver. "Refreshing," she announced. Marle drew her crossbow, and prepared to fire. The other Marle's expression became dark. "You shouldn't have done that, darling. You shouldn't have done that."


Same Time

Hotwire, Gaspar, and Melchior, far enough away that they probably wouldn't hear the expected argument, jumped out of the way as the queen suddenly flew out of the tent. She crashed into another tent, causing it to collapse. Melchior quickly went to check on her, to see if she was alright. Hotwire and Gaspar, however, stood their ground, waiting to see what exactly had thrown the queen out of the tent. And they had a feeling that they wouldn't much like it.

The tent flap opened, and much to their surprise and to the surprise of several nearby soldiers, the queen walked out, completely naked. Hotwire looked back to make sure that the woman they had seen thrown out of the tent was who they had thought she was. Melchior was helping her up. It was the queen, alright. So who's this, she asked herself, turning back to the newcomer.

This queen was smiling, seemingly unaware, or uncaring, of her nudity. Raising her arms up and outwards, she began to rise from the ground, hovering. This was enough to scare lingering soldiers into running or taking up defensive positions. Spying Hotwire and Gaspar, she floated over to them, smiling all the way. She looked down at them, and said "Hello, Hotwire, Gaspar."

"Who are you," Gaspar challenged. "And how do you know us?"

The queen raised an eyebrow. "Who am I?" She looked down at herself. "Oh, my mistake. Silly me. You wouldn't recognize me like this, would you?"

Raising her arms up in the air, a ring of light encircled her, and soon changed into a sphere, which enveloped her. The sphere dropped down to the ground, and began to fade away. In the place of where the queen had been, stood Lauren, no longer nude, but in a tight blue dress that showed more skin than didn't.

"Recognize me now, old man," she asked, in a dulcet voice that she hadn't spoken with before. When Gaspar didn't respond, she instead turned to Hotwire. "Thank you, Hotwire, for helping me out."

"What," Hotwire asked warily. "For helping you do what?"

"Complete my mission of course. You yourself told me that he was completely faithful to his wife. So faithful that he would do anything she asked of him. So faithful that he wouldn't even question what her reasons were. You were right when you said that, even though I was a thousand times more beautiful than the queen, Crono was possessed of intense fidelity, and would never betray her."

"I never said that," Hotwire argued.

Lauren shrugged. "Close enough. Regardless, however, you helped me. You deserve a reward."

"And what's that," Hotwire asked warily.

"I'll spare your life. Too bad I have to kill all your friends, but that's the way the cookie crumbles."

Hotwire stepped up. "You'll really spare my life," she asked, seemingly grateful.

"Of course," Lauren answered. "We girls gotta stick together." She smiled. But her smile turned to a grimace as Hotwire delivered a powerful punch to her stomach. Then Hotwire grabbed Lauren's throat with her mechanical hand, and squeezed as hard as she could.

Lauren let out a choking sound, and frantically grabbed at Hotwire's wrist, trying to pull her away, with no success. For a few moments, she flailed wildly, trying to escape. And then she calmed down, and looked Hotwire in the eyes. Hotwire was thrown back by a wall of force so powerful that it was fully visible.

As Hotwire lied on the ground, gasping for air, Lauren was holding her throat, her eyes full of rage. She looked at the nearly unconscious Hotwire, and told her, "For that pitiful attempt, you all must die!"

A ring of fire formed around her, on the ground. She rose up above it seething with anger. She turned when a voice called her name.

There stood Rakin, by his parents' tent, standing up as straight as he could. It was obvious he was still hurting, and wasn't in any shape to be in a fight. Lauren smiled. She would delight in killing one who had spurned her. Then the king, Crono stepped out of the tent, in full regal battle armor, sword drawn. He looked as if he could barely stand. Tears were in his eyes for what he had done. Standing side by side, Lauren thought, they looked really similar. And really handsome. Too bad they have to die.


"Always faithful."
-Motto of the Corps


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