Chrono Continuum Chapter 50
Hello, all my adoring fans (all ten of you). Well, here it is, the fiftieth chapter, a big landmark for any fanfic. As far as I know, I'm going to be the only author on Icy's page (and maybe on other pages) to write a fanfic beyond fifty chapters. And now for my acceptance speech. *Ahem.* I'd like to thank my friend Chris, for giving me ideas for the story, as well as a whole load of quotes, Icy, for posting my story, fellow authors like Jerm, ZealProphet, and Nanaki, for showing me what good fanfics are all about, and SquareSoft, because their games kick ass.
"Listen to me, all of you," Crono announced, Dalton magically amplifying his voice, so every soldier in the impressive army could hear him. Crono was standing on a platform, surrounded by all of his men. Good men. Brave men. Strong men. Dead men, unless he could convince them to evacuate. "I'm sorry to say this, but coming closer is a battle that we cannot possibly win," he told them sorrowfully. "Indeed, coming closer is a horde of demons the likes of which none has ever seen before. This inhuman army is so huge, that none but the magic of the Kingdom itself could possibly deal with it."
His army didn't respond. If a man had dropped his sword at the far end of the camp, every man and woman there would have heard it. Nonetheless, Crono continued. "And that is not the worst of it. From what Dalton tells me, not one, not two, but all of the Hellbound are leading this horde." Every soldier there paled, and gulped, almost simultaneously. Crono nodded, seeing that he'd had the desired effect. "I can see that you understand the situation. And now, sadly, I must issue my most important, and possibly last order." He paused here, wondering how to go about it. It only took him a moment to decide.
"What does honor mean to you," he asked. "Is it fighting for whatever you believe in, no matter how the odds aren't in your favor? In part. Is it accepting any challenge, no matter how foolhardy, because you've been offended, or mistreated? No. Honor... is fighting for what is right, no matter what personal sacrifices may be necessary. If you were to die, so that a hundred others may live, would that be honorable? I think so.
"But would it be honorable to die, so that you could have a glorious death? So that others would honor you? Not if there's no one left to fight for your cause. And that is why I must ask you... every last one of you, to leave. Go home. If you fight now, every last one of you will be slaughtered. Your deaths might go down in history. If there is a history. Because if you die, then who will be left to protect your families, and your homes? Wives and children, and, in some cases, husbands. If they could fight, wouldn't they be here on the battlefield? If they couldn't survive this war on the battlefield, how well do you think they'd do when the Kingdom got to them? They're not going to suddenly learn how to fight, because you died gloriously. And the Kingdom certainly won't spare them for the same reason.
"So it's time for you to go home. Protect what you care about. Dalton has assured me that an army this size will not be able to invade our homes, because it takes too much effort to retain. If you go home, the Kingdom won't be able to do enough damage to defeat you. Its power decreases further from the base. So go home, and defend your families.
"You may be wondering why I have been saying 'you' instead of 'we'. That is because I won't be coming with you." At this point murmurings, and even shouts broke out among the soldiers. Leave their King to die? They could never do that! Crono waited until they settled down again, and then he continued. "I know it will be hard for you to leave me behind, but it is necessary. I have a plan. I, and my friends, plan to slow down the army until you can escape. How we will do this is not important. Simply have faith that we can do this.
"Now it is time for you to go. I suppose some of you will wish to fight anyway, and I won't stop you. Anyone foolish enough to do so is a traitor to his or her family and deserves what they get. Farewell."
And he stepped down off the platform. Fortunately, Melchior and Rakin were there to catch him when he collapsed. None of the soldiers saw. Instead, they silently began to march out of the camp. They'd already had all their armor on, so there was no need to pack. None of the soldiers looked at Crono, and he was glad for it. Their expressions of failure and disappointment would have been too much for him. In a matter of minutes, the entire camp was devoid of soldiers.
After everyone had left, everyone entered the supply tent. Here they could get all the items they might need for the battle.
"So," Dalton asked Crono, "what is this plan you have?"
Crono, unable to stand, was sitting against a crate full of carrotts. "My plan, Dalton, is to tackle the bastards head on, and hold them where they are for as long as I can."
This time, Marle spoke up. "Doesn't sound like much of a plan. How are we going to survive?"
Crono sighed. "Who said anything about 'we'? I'm going to do this alone. I'm exhausted now, but once I've had a few tonics and potions, I should be able to hold them off for..."
"For what, Crono," Marle asked. "Five minutes? Crono, you can't-"
She was abruptly cut off by a beeping noise. Everyone looked around for the source, and soon identified it as Hotwire, who was currently asleep. She woke up with a snort, and looked around. She looked confused for a moment, and then a voice was heard by everyone. A feminine voice.
"Hotwire? Hotwire, darling, can you hear me? Rakin? Lauren?"
Hotwire's eyes opened in surprise. "Oh!" She pushed a button on the wrist of her mechanical hand, and announced, "Yes, Epoch, I can hear you." She held up a hand to stifle everybody's questions as to what was happening. "Is something wrong?"
"I'll say. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but there's a very large force of demons heading your way. A few of them passed me, but I stayed quiet, and they ignored me."
"Yeah, we know. There are also flying demons."
"Sounds like a predicament. Should I assume you're going to get here as quickly as possible?"
"I don't think so, Epoch. Like you said, there's a huge army in our way. I don't think we're going anywhere."
"Then how about I pick you up?"
"Epoch," Hotwire exclaimed, "that's a great idea! Can you get here alright? Like I said, there are flying demons, too."
"No problem. I can fly much higher than they can. And if one gets too close, I can... Uh oh."
Hotwire's expression turned concerned. "Uh oh? What's wrong?"
"I suggest you all look up at the sky. Like now."
A bit worried, everyone got up, and walked out of the tent. Almost immediately, they spotted the problem.
There, in the sky, a few miles off, and getting closer, was the Red Omen. It was a disconcerting sight to those who had known of it before, because it, like the Black Omen, never moved. Now this thing was getting very close, and they were getting very worried.
As it got closer, a light wind began to whip up around everybody, flapping the loose parts of their clothing. It soon grew to a gale. Dust blew up around them, but it wasn't enough to obscure the Red Omen. It was now much lower the ground than normal, so they could get a good look at it. Many of them gasped. Unlike the Black Omen, the Red Omen was virtually bristling with weapons, and many devices that none of them could identify.
As it passed over the camp, it suddenly slowed to a crawl. Out of instinct, the seven jumped behind a nearby tent, and watched as the Red Omen hovered overhead. And then it started moving again, beyond the camp, following the route the soldiers had taken.
Crono stood. "No," he muttered.
As the Red Omen hovered on, and apparently spotted the fleeing army, it began to glow with energy.
"No," Crono moaned, more forcefully.
Finally, the energy solidified, and exploded downward, in a huge blast, accompanied by an array of lasers, missiles, and other projectiles.
"Nooooooooo," Crono screamed, falling to his knees in agony. He put his forehead on the ground, and began to sob. His tears soaked the dust beneath him. Rakin, or one of the others, would have stepped forward to comfort him, but they couldn't. Bolts of electricity snaked out from the tortured monarch, and struck the ground nearby at random intervals.
Crono lay there for a few moments more. And then he stopped sobbing. Everyone saw his fists clench. He pushed himself up, whispering something. In a few moments, he repeated it, staring off towards where the Red Omen had flown off after the attack. "You bastards... I worked... so hard to save them... They were good men, weren't they," he asked no one in particular. He answered himself, "Yeah. They never did anything to deserve that. They were leaving. They were going to go home and leave you alone, and not bother you. But you blew them up. Every single one of them." He clenched his fists even tighter. Blood seeped from his hands, from cutting himself with his fingernails.
He abruptly turned to his teammates. An expression of righteous anger was on his face. He whispered, "I'm going to kill them all with my own hands."
Just then, they all heard a strange noise from above. They looked up, and spotted the familiar form of Epoch coming down for a landing. When it landed, the cockpit opened. Crono, Marle, Gaspar, and Melchior were surprised when they saw that no one was piloting. They were even more surprised when a voice came from the cockpit, "You all had better hurry up. That army was right behind me. I didn't think they could move that fast. It was trouble just getting here."
Rakin nodded to the ship, and turned to his allies. "Alright, we can only take three at a time. Who's the first group going to be? How about you, dad?"
Crono shook his head. "No, son. I made a vow, and I intend to keep it. I'm going to kill them all."
Rakin could see madness stirring in his father's eyes. "But, dad, you can't win like this. You have to come with us."
Crono's expression didn't relax. "Maybe so, but I'm not going first. I'm going to cause as much damage as I can before I go."
Seeing that his father had just made the only compromise he was going to make, Rakin decided he'd have to choose a different team. "Alright then, Hotwire, Mom, and Melchior, you go first. Dalton, Gaspar, Dad, and I are best equipped to survive in this situation."
"But Rakin," Hotwire objected, "I can help."
"Sorry, Hotwire, but you don't have magic. That's a deciding factor here. Magically, we're the most powerful attackers. We'll just have to do without Mom's healing powers. Now go. The sooner you leave, the sooner you return."
Hotwire looked like she was about to argue some more, but Marle placed a hand on her shoulder. Hotwire grudgingly resigned to the decision. "But you be careful, Prince Rakin," she warned him, shaking her finger, "If you get killed, I'll never forgive you."
Rakin raised an eyebrow. "I'll keep that in mind."
Then Hotwire reached up behind her neck, and unclasped her necklace with the hologram of her mother in it, and gave it to Rakin. And with that, Hotwire and Marle jumped into Epoch's cockpit, joining Melchior, who was already inside. In a few moments, Epoch rose up into the air, and took off. As it warped, a bright flash blinded Rakin, and the ship was gone.
The four men turned, and walked out to the edge of the camp. If worse came to worse, they could run back into the camp, slowing down the advancing army. Wishful thinking, they knew, but they needed every edge they could get. And they waited.
"You know," remarked Gaspar, after a while, "I do believe that Hotwire has a thing for you, if you catch my drift."
Rakin raised an eyebrow. "No way. I seriously doubt it."
"And perhaps the feeling is mutual...?"
"Hey! I... We're friends, that's all. I promise. Cross my heart and hope to..." Everyone glanced at him. He looked off in thought for a moment. "Live. I hope to live." And he put on Hotwire's necklace.
And then it started. At first it was just a very low rumbling. And then it became louder. Black shapes appeared over the horizon, followed by a huge black mass that was the main body of the horde. And in the front were more than twenty men and women, only three of which Rakin recognized. Adom, riding on a demon, while the others rode on horses. What looked like a white robot was also there, but it walked, instead of riding, since it was about twelve feet tall. Janus' wife. And Janus himself, sitting regally on his white steed. Rakin could tell that the others were surprised to see him. That must've been because they'd met Magus.
The Hellbound stopped for a moment, apparently confused at the lack of defense. They'd apparently expected an army. But all that faced them was four people. They seemed a bit concerned at these four defenders. Perhaps these four were powerful enough to resist them alone. Rakin was certain that Janus, Techie, and Adom recognized him, and Dalton, but he didn't know how much they knew about Crono and Gaspar. Frankly, he didn't even know how powerful they were.
And then Adom made the signal they'd been waiting for. He snapped his chain whip. Like a wave of sound, demons let out a roar from the front ranks to the back ranks. And the horde charged, as the Hellbound, Janus, and his wife watched, and waited.
Everyone in the Beginning of Time (except Thanatos and Robo) let out a cry of alarm, as Epoch materialized out of thin air, and crashed into the fountain. Sighing, Thanatos gestured, and half of a bridge appeared, attached to the main platform. Epoch then floated over next to the bridge, so the people inside could get out. Once again, Lucca wondered how he could do all this, but she didn't think about it long, because... the Epoch was here. And that meant that at least one person she knew was probably here.
So, when the cockpit opened, she managed to be the first one there, to see who had come. First out was A fat old man. It took a second, but she soon recognized him.
"Melchior," she called.
After he'd adjusted to his new surroundings, he saw her, and smiled. "We're here," he announced. And then he made room for the next person to come out.
With practiced skill, a woman in a dirty white dress jumped out of the cockpit, and landed lightly on her feet. She instantly recognized most of the people there. Normally, she would have been smiling at her reunion with friends, but right now she was too worried. So, she simply went over and embraced Lucca, and made room for the third person.
But the third person didn't come. And then Lucca hear speech from inside the cockpit.
"Come on, let's go!"
"No, it's too dangerous. I can pilot myself. I did it once already."
"No buts. Besides, bringing you back would only put you in danger."
"Ohhhh...," the first voice groaned, and jumped out of the cockpit as well. Lucca was surprised at this one. She had multi-colored hair, probably dyed. But her right hand looked metallic, as did her clothes. She looked around, interested in her surroundings. And then she saw Lucca. And her eyes opened wide.
Lucca smiled. "Hi. Welcome to the team. I'm-"
"Lucca, right," the girl finished her sentence for her.
Lucca raised an eyebrow. "How did you know that?"
The girl reached up to her chest, and grabbed at something, but looked down in surprise to find that it wasn't there. She was about to say something, when they all felt a thump, like something heavy hitting the ground nearby. Lucca, and everyone who'e been here for a while, turned to the golden tunnel, to see who had arrived.
Out stepped the Magus, looking tired. He glanced around, and was surprised at the number of people here. Then he spotted Epoch. "Where's the kid," he asked everyone.
Epoch responded. "I'm about to go pick him up. He's in a bit of a bind. You want to come?"
Magus didn't even answer. Instead, he ran to the central platform, dodging between his allies, passed Hotwire on the second bridge, and jumped into Epoch. In a moment, the ship had taken off, leaving behind many confused people, and an indignant Hotwire.
"So, she'll take that guy into danger and not me?"
Rakin knew it was hopeless, but he held his tongue. Even if they survived until Epoch could get back, which was unlikely, Epoch could only take three at a time. One person would be left behind. And Rakin was pretty sure his dad would demand to stay behind.
Since the battle had started they'd gone into formation, and it hadn't changed since then. Gaspar had put up a magical box through which nothing could get in, and Rakin had reinforced it so that it would be stronger, and so that Gaspar would have less trouble maintaining it. Meanwhile, Crono and Dalton had been casting spells to kill the demons surrounding them. So far, it had been successful, but they couldn't keep it up forever, and they all knew it. Well, most of them knew it. Rakin wasn't sure about his dad. A frenzied countenance had taken over, and Rakin was worried about his father's sanity.
Suddenly, Rakin spotted a familiar flash. He turned to Gaspar. "Gaspar," he yelled, "release this wall."
Gaspar nodded, knowing what was going on. He let down the wall, and Crono and Dalton blasted the area clean of demons. Then they dodged to the sides as Epoch flew into their box. The box shuddered as the ship ran into its other side. Gaspar immediately closed the wall, cutting an unfortunate demon in half.
Crono, Gaspar, Rakin, and Dalton looked surprised as Magus jumped out of the cockpit.
"Magus," Crono, Gaspar, and Rakin asked, surprised.
"What are you doing here, Prophet," Dalton wondered aloud.
"Does it matter," Magus snapped. "Get in there, three of you. I can handle this alone."
Shrugging, Dalton jumped into the cockpit, and, after giving Magus control of the box, so did Gaspar. But Crono refused. He was going to stick here to the last. Rakin was quite sure that he'd probably get in after him and Rakin.
"Epoch," Rakin yelled, "get ready to fly... NOW!"
The wall of the box faded away, and the ship blasted off at full speed, almost frying the inhabitants of the box. The missing wall was immediately reconstituted.
But Rakin realized that something was wrong. Magus wasn't at full power. And Rakin had been doing this for a long time. The wall wouldn't last long. He turned to his dad. "Lend us a hand here, dad?"
Immediately understanding, Crono stood between Magus and his son, and added his magic to the barrier. Electricity laced over the walls. Rakin hoped it would be enough.
Chuckling, Crono turned his head to Magus. "Hey, Magus. Long time no see. Kind of like old times, huh?"
Magus glanced at him, and grunted, as close as he would get to anything like agreement.
Crono laughed. "You haven't changed one bit!" And he laughed. And laughed. Rakin was now really worried that his father had lost his mind.
And then a black claw popped up from the ground beneath their feet, followed by the rest of the demon.
"Damn," Magus shouted, "Didn't you think to shield the ground?"
And another demon came up from the earth. And another. And another. And another.
This time, Epoch's appearance was much more regular. It simply materialized next to the bridge. The cockpit opened, and the first to climb out was Gaspar. Lucca was overjoyed to see him alive and well, as she hadn't been able to get the whole story from anyone because Marle had apparently not woken up for a while after Lucca had left, so she didn't have the whole story. Gaspar would know. But the next person was a surprise.
"Dalton," she exclaimed. She pulled out both of her guns, and Ayla, Frog, and Robo took up fighting stances.
She turned when Marle put a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay. Dalton's not a jerk anymore." She stepped forward. "Where are Rakin and Crono, Epoch?"
"I'm going to pick them up now," the ship announced, and flew off into the golden light.
Hotwire sighed. Epoch should have been back by now, along with Rakin, the King, and that rude, creepy guy. Could they have been... She didn't even want to think about it.
She looked at her watch. Cursed quietly. Four hours. Epoch's been gone four freakin' hours!
She looked around. Everyone else was asleep, even the Queen, although she'd stayed awake the longest. Hotwire was used to going days without sleep, so she could afford to stay up, but she realized that even she would fall asleep soon. The stories she'd heard had been very interesting, and she'd listened especially carefully to things about Lucca. She'd heard no evidence that Lucca was married, or had ever been in love, or even if she was still a virgin. She had no proof that the woman in her locket didn't just look extraordinarily like Lucca. That would explain why Rakin had mistaken one for the other. And really, she had no proof that the woman in the hologram was her mother. Maybe Lucca, from the second millennium, had lost the locket, and Hotwire's parents had simply found it and given it to her. But why would they keep the hologram in it? Maybe in memory of a great inventor. If that type of skill was genetic, then that would explain why her parents would keep that hologram. But that also lent evidence to Lucca herself being her mother.
Her thoughts were interrupted. Something caught her attention. Something seemed to be materializing in the place where Epoch should be. She stood up, and walked over. A flicker. Another. For a moment, she could see Epoch in its entirety, and then it disappeared. Then she could see a ghostly image of Epoch, that slowly solidified until it looked normal... sort of.
It was scratched and dented, and the name Epoch had been erased, and someone had scratched the word JUNK onto the surface. The canopy looked cracked. And then it slid open, and she saw inside the cockpit.
Inside, a pitiful form was sprawled over the controls. It was a man, wearing only pants. Deep marks, as if from a whip, marked his back. But his deathly pale skin, and his long blue hair, although now overgrown, told her who it was.
"It's you," she remarked, "that guy... Magus, right?" She'd gotten the name from some parts of the stories everyone had told.
At first he didn't react. And then he slowly turned his head. When she saw his face, she gasped. It was no longer the coldly perfect pale face with the piercing eyes and the grim, determined expression. His face was now bruised and cut, his nose crooked, his left eye swollen, and his expression weak. For a moment she had trouble believing it was the same man. And then he spoke, and she knew, without a doubt, by voice and inflection, that it was him.
He smiled slightly. "Heh... I've... done it... It... took...so... many... centuries... But I... made it... I've... come back... I've... survived... to see you again... my... daughter..." And then he passed out.
If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed,
so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh.
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