Chrono Continuum Chapter 60
"You know the saying," Lucca announced, as the huge fireball hurtled toward them at a dangerous speed. "Fight fire with fire!"
Lucca holstered her guns, and pointed at the fireball. A small fireball appeared, midair, between the projectile and its targets. For a moment, it simply hovered there, and then it suddenly exploded outwards, in a wall-like shape. Wethreem's expression, if they had been able to see it through the firestorm, would have appeared quite shocked that Lucca not only knew the Flare spell, but had figured out how to use it as a defensive counter-measure.
The fireball collided with the swirling wall of flame, and both wall and ball slowed to a stop. In a fiery stalemate, neither of the two moved an inch, canceling eachother out. Neither of the casters were going to let their attacks dissipate. They were both too stubborn.
"Well," Caerina announced, blasting off from the ground, "That was unexpected. I'm impressed. But I've had about enough of this."
She aimed her large rifle at Lucca, because her maintenance of the Wall Flare had left her unprotected. Caerina pulled the trigger. The recoil was enough to push her back a few feet, but her aim had been true. A silvery blue ball of energy rocketed towards the caster with surprising speed, a tail trailing behind it, like a comet.
At the last moment before collision, a mechanical arm swept in, and connected with the blast. It ricocheted off at an angle, into the firestorm above. The detonation was lost inside the rolling flames.
Gedd smiled, as he lowered his arm, which was still smoking. "Is that it? A gun that big should be able to fire at three times that strength."
Caerina smiled in amusement. "So you're an expert, huh? Well, we'll see just how powerful this gun is. Come on," she beckoned, leaning forward slightly.
Gedd obliged, and ran away from the distracted Lucca. As he ran at more than human speed, he pressed a button on his belt, and his left hand was replaced by five silver claws, which he flexed eagerly. Once he was close enough to her, he jumped up, easily reaching up to the height of ten feet she was hovering at.
Smiling, he slashed at a downward angle, at her neck. She brought up her rifle, stopping the sharp claws six inches from her exposed neck. Gedd used his other hand to grab onto her shoulder, and wrapped his legs around her torso, so she couldn't shake him lose.
"You know," she managed to say, as she strained to keep his claw away from her skin, "You're pretty tough for an old guy."
Gedd smiled, and leaned his head forward, so that his nose was only two inches away from hers. "I'm middle aged, not old. And I'm more than tough enough to take you out."
Abruptly, he brought his head back, away from her face. He brought it forward, and slammed his forehead into her mouth. She cried out, and lost control of her jetpack. They flew around in a warped figure eight, twisting and turning, as they tried to gain the advantage over eachother.
Robo beeped in frustration. He couldn't get a weapons lock on Caerina with her loss of control. Before Gedd had headbutted her, he had finally gotten her in his sights, without Gedd obstructing the shot, but now he couldn't hit either of them, until they regained stability.
Finally, they crashed to the ground, hard, throwing Gedd off of Caerina. They both quickly stood up, and jumped at eachother. However, Caerina took advantage of her natural agility, and Gedd's bulk, and ducked under Gedd's swinging claw, slamming into his unprotected gut. She stood up, and flipped him over her back. He landed hard on the ground.
Caerina jumped up in the air, and her jetpack activated. She seems to be able to control it with her own will, Gedd noted groggily, unable to get up until he got his breath back.
She pulled her gun back out, and aimed down at Gedd's prone figure, preparing to fire. But she cried out in surprise, as a green explosion threw her over Gedd, landing about fifteen feet away.
Gedd sat up to see Robo, his shoulder cannon still smoking from the blast. Gedd smiled. "About time. I was wondering when you'd actually decide to help."
Robo walked over to Gedd, and helped him up. "As soon as you gave me a clear shot of her."
"That wasn't very polite," Caerina's voice announced, prompting Gedd and Robo to face her direction.
The two saw that she was standing up, uninjured. Robo shrugged. "I apologize, but the safety of my friends is more important than etiquette."
Caerina smiled. "How wonderfully naive. But quite futile, I assure you." She tossed her gun to the side casually. "I prefer to attack my oponents head on, like your friends seem to. Would you like a demonstration?"
Robo aimed his shoulder cannon at her. "No thank you," he replied, and fired at her again.
The resulting explosion completely engulfed the woman, but Gedd and Robo still waited cautiously, for the results. They knew that it probably wouldn't be enough.
But they were surprised to find that, once the smoke had cleared, not only was Caerina still standing there, she didn't have a scratch on her.
She shook her head. "Now that hurt, deep down. I make a friendly offer, and you shoot me. Well, we'll see about that. Now, you don't have a choice. You're going to get a demonstration, whether you like it or not."
She leaned forward, and blasted off the ground with her jet pack, streaking towards Robo and Gedd. First, she slammed into Gedd, sending him flying a good dozen yards. Then, she turned her attention to Robo.
For a moment, she simply stood there, appraising the robot. Then she hauled back, and threw a strong punch with her right hand at his dome of a head.
The fist didn't even get within a foot of Robo's head before it stopped, grabbed by Robo's left hand. Caerina's eyes opened in surprise.
Robo squeezed her hand, hard enough to crush the hand of any human. But Caerina didn't even flinch, or seem to register any pain.
Instead, she brought around her left foot, and kicked him in the side underneath his arm. Like her, Robo didn't even seem to react.
But she didn't give up. She continued kicking at lightning speed. Again. And again. And again. And again. And on and on.
Robo soon realized that while he wasn't even hurting her hand, she was gradually starting to do damage to his body. So he brought down his shoulder cannon, and aimed it right in her face.
Almost immediately, she reached up with her other hand, and grabbed the barrel of the cannon. She then dropped to the ground, still holding the cannon, flipping Robo over her in the process.
She smiled down at him, and made a gesture with her hand. The gun flew from the ground to her hand, either by magic or by magnetism, Robo wasn't sure. She aimed it down at him, still holding it in only one hand, and tightened her finger on the trigger.
She cried out in surprise as Gedd's foot slammed into her back, throwing her over Robo. She skidded and bounced on the ground, stopping a few feet away.
Gedd helped Robo up, and smiled. "This seems to be a pattern with us. One of us is about to get blasted, and the other one surprise attacks."
Robo performed a metallic shrug. "If it works, don't fix it."
They both turned as Caerina announced, "I must admit that you're pretty clever. I didn't think you'd be this tough. But, unlike your boast, I don't think you're nearly tough enough to take me out."
"Wanna bet," Gedd challenged her.
She smiled. "Of course. I'm betting my life that I can win, just like you are. But I always win at bets like this."
Wethreem gritted his teeth. This was getting him nowhere, and he didn't know how much more magic she could draw from her wavelength (copyright Nanaki), before she'd reached her limit. He knew that he was near his. And if he abruptly let the fireball dissipate, the counterforce the Wall Flare had been exerting could cause it to fly towards him, an idea he didn't relish.
He smiled as he thought of something. He was pretty sure he could do something she couldn't.
He cut off his support to the fireball, and flew full speed towards the Wall Flare. As he'd anticipated, it was now moving toward him. But he wasn't worried.
Quickly, he cast the spell. A coccoon of ice surrounded him as he streaked toward the caster. The coccoon passed through the Wall Flare, unharmed, and he shattered it before he could hit the ground, now that it was no longer useful.
Just as he had expected, the woman didn't have enough time to prepare for his attack. She was caught completely off guard as he flew into her, shoulder first, cutting a trench in the ground with her body.
He stood up. She looked unconscious. He smiled. Drissom had been right. She was quite a sight. But, unlike Drissom, Wethreem was a gentleman. Too bad she didn't like the wings.
He pulled out his swords. Time to finish this, he thought. He didn't really like the idea of killing such a pretty woman, but orders were orders. He'd been told to bring back the ship, and no more. He paused. But just because he couldn't bring her to the Kingdom didn't mean he couldn't spare her. After all, she had only defended herself. And he'd defeated her. She was no longer a threat.
He turned away, and began walking toward the ship, but he froze as he heard a click from behind. He turned to see the woman, standing, with one of her two guns aimed at his chest.
"Please don't do this," he pleaded. "Don't make me kill you. I don't want to."
She narrowed her eyes. "Yeah, right. What makes you think I'd trust you, Hellbound?"
Wethreem blinked. "Hellbound? I'm not Hellbound."
"Sure, you're not," Lucca replied sarcastically, "After all, it's perfectly normal for a black-winged man to attack us with powerful magic for no good reason."
"I do have good reason," he replied defensively. "Zeal told me to."
Lucca raised an eyebrow. "Zeal? As in Queen Zeal?"
"How could you know of her? She only recently began to call herself that."
"What did she call herself before then?"
Lucca's blood ran cold. It was true, almost certainly. They had guessed right about the purpose of Parsa seducing Crono. They had to stop her, and soon. She looked back to Wethreem. He had put his swords away, and was once again walking toward Epoch. "Stop," she yelled at him.
He turned again. "Look, I'm really not as eager to kill you as I was before, but I'll do it if necessary. I have to get your ship, like they told me."
"They," Lucca asked curiously.
He nodded. "Yes. Zeal and my creator, Techie."
"Your creator? What do you mean?"
He shrugged. "I told you I wasn't Hellbound. I'm an experiment, that turned out advantageous to the Kingdom. My only purpose is to serve them. It's what I was created for. But I still have compassion. I suggest you run away. After Caerina kills your friends, she'll kill you too. She enjoys it a lot more than I do, despite her normally pleasant demeanor." His expression darkened. "All the Hellbound enjoy it..."
Lucca stared at him. She couldn't find a trace of guile in his eyes. "Leave," she told him. "Run away. With us, or without us, but you must leave the Kingdom, before you become like them."
Wethreem shook his head. "Sorry. They own me. They created me. My only purpose is to serve them. They told me to get your ship. I'm going to do just that."
"What if you just left," Lucca suggested, lowering her gun, "They couldn't find you if you didn't want them to. And you can fly, something I'm guessing most of them can't do."
Wethreem stared at her for a moment longer. Then, he turned, and continued walking toward Epoch.
Lucca gritted her teeth. "I warned you..."
She raised her Wondershot and fired at his back.
He immediately turned and slapped the ball of energy away with one of his swords. "I'm sorry it had to come to this," he told her, "But a lab rat's got to do what he's got to do."
He raised his swords, and charged Lucca.
Gedd ducked under Caerina's high kick, and dodged a punch. Hopefully, he could hold her off until Robo could finish his repairs. Also, he hoped he could keep this battle on the ground. She definitely had the advantage in the air.
Unfortunately, these thoughts had slowed him down, and Caerina had taken full advantage of it. She hit him with a short uppercut to the gut, and followed with a palm strike to Gedd's chin.
Gedd fell to the ground, momentarily dizzy. But when he got his bearings back, he saw Caerina above him, about to land on him. He rolled to the side, just as she landed.
He rolled into a standing position, and charged her, claw first. She sidestepped, and brought her fists down on his back. Ignoring the pain as best he could, he quickly backhanded her with his other hand, and she was knocked back a step or two. That was all the time Gedd needed to make his move.
He brought his claw out from underneath, and slashed upwards, into her body. A high-pitched screech made him wince in pain as his claw connected with her armor.
She fell heavily to the ground. Gedd stood there for a moment, eyes closed, panting. Then he looked at her dead form. But she wasn't dead at all.
She was still lying on her back, but she was looking at him with an amused smile. Gedd was shocked to see that the armor he was so sure he had sliced through wasn't even scratched. What the hell is that stuff made of?
Without even bothering to stand up, she turned on the jetpack. She tore a ditch through the ground, until she pulled up into the air. She held up her hand, and the gun once again flew to her hand. Smiling, she aimed it casually at Gedd.
Suddenly, she felt something touch her shoulder. She turned to see what was there, and gasped in surprise. There was Robo, hovering right in front of her.
Robo pulled both hands above his head, and clasped the fingers. Then, before Caerina could react, he brought them down. She pulled her head back, but was still hit in the center of the chest, hard.
The blow threw her downward, towards the ground. Robo could tell by her expression that it hadn't hurt at all. Could they hurt her?
His thoughts were interrupted by a very loud scream. He looked down again, to see Caerina. She was no longer falling, but had stopped. Four long metal claws stuck out of her chest, about where her heart should be.
As Robo dropped to the ground, he could see Gedd holding up Caerina, his claws still puncturing through her upper torso. The force of her fall must have caused the claws to punch straight through her, Robo reasoned.
Gedd pulled out his claws, and let Caerina fall to the ground. She grunted as she did so. Robo and Gedd stepped up to view the damage, and Gedd gasped, not in disgust, but in surprise.
No blood flowed from the hole in the woman's chest. Instead, small sparks sporadically flew out, making noises. Severed wires could be seen sticking out.
Caerina looked at them, and opened her mouth to say something. Blood, real human blood, dripped out of her mouth. "This... can't... be... happening..." Her eyes started to go out of focus.
Gedd and Robo jumped back in surprise, as another figure fell down from midair. They soon recognized it as Wethreem. He looked slightly burnt, but otherwise unhurt. Both of them remained wary, unsure as to what threat he might pose to them, now that his comrade was dying.
Wethreem got down on his knees, and brushed some hair out of Caerina's eyes. His expression was one of horror. "But... how? How could they defeat you," he asked incredulously. "Your body's inpenetrable. Your only weak spot was your human head, and it looks fine."
She smiled. "Lucky... shot..." Then her eyes closed.
Alarmed, Wethreem put his finger to her neck, checking for a pulse. "Oh, no... No pulse..."
Robo stepped up. "If her body is robotic," he suggested, "Perhaps having no pulse is normal."
Wethreem looked up at him. "Perhaps. But why would you care? You're the ones that killed her."
Gedd got down on one knee. "We defended ourselves. This was more her doing than ours. It's obvious that you seem to care about her well-being. For that, we respect you. But... We can't let either of you leave here alive. Any of you could pose a threat to us and our friends."
"No," a voice called out. Everyone turned to see that it was Lucca, running up with a slight limp.
She continued, "Let him go. He wanted to spare my life. He deserves a similar chance." She looked down at him. "Go, Wethreem. Get her some help, if you still want to."
He stared at her for a moment, and then he and Caerina abruptly vanished from sight.
Gedd stood, and asked Lucca, "And since when do we grant mercy to Hellbound?"
"We don't. He's not Hellbound. I could see it in his eyes. Once you've met a Hellbound or two, you begin to notice something in their eyes that is abnormal. But he didn't have it. I trust him, at least far enough not to be a mindless slave."
"If you say so," Robo responded. "You would know better than we would. But perhaps we should be getting back to the cabin, in case our assistance is needed?"
Lucca and Gedd agreed. They went over to Epoch, and Gedd and Robo jumped in.
But before Lucca did, she looked off into the sky, in deep thought. The choice is yours, Wethreem... I only hope you make it wisely...
"The Empire is evil, but not everyone in it is."
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