Chrono Continuum Chapter 66
The Fighting Gurus
Gaspar cried out in surprise as Norsif suddenly materialized less than a foot away, as a stone creature. Instinctively, he ducked as Norsif's stone arm swung around, knocking off his hat. Using his ducking position as a push-off, he rolled between the stone creature's legs, coming to a standing position behind him. Before Norsif could turn around, Gaspar broke into a run down the bridge, right towards... Tirren? Where's Kradish?
The Guru dove forward onto the hard metal of the bridge as the Hellbound came in from above, hammer first. After landing, Kradish turned to him, and smiled. "Nice moves, old man. But a few quick reflexes aren't going to save you for long."
Gaspar held his cane up, grabbed the long end, and pulled. It came off, revealing a thin blade underneath. "No," Gaspar responded to Kradish's threats, "But maybe this will."
He stepped into a fencing stance, but blinked in surprise as the blade floated out of his hand, and over the lava. It then dropped, making a plopping noise. Gaspar heard Tirren's voice call, "Can't have you making any scratches on my Bruiser, can we?"
Norsif turned around to help, but cried out in surprise as Melchior's sword bit deep into his stone back. He turned, enraged at the pain he was feeling.
Melchior smiled, waving the sword back and forth. "That's the great thing about having lived in Zeal. Everything was magical, even the swords."
And he lunged forward, slicing at Norsif's head. The statue raised its arm in defense against the sword, but the blade sheared straight through the stone appendage.
Norsif cried out in surprise, and fell to his knees. He looked up at Melchior. "You'll pay for that," he announced.
Melchior just smiled, and sliced towards the stone neck again, but there was no longer anything there. Even the severed arm was missing. Then Norsif reappeared in his stone body, his arm whole.
"How... How'd you do that," Melchior wondered aloud.
Norsif shrugged. "I can reassimilate parts of my own body by dematerializing. But that doesn't matter. What does matter is that this form is obviously not very effective against that sword of yours. So..."
Norsif raised his arms in the air. As Melchior watched the black stone began to lose its boundaries, until it looked like nothing more than black smoke.
Desperately, Melchior swiped at what appeared to be the neck of the mass, but the sword simply passed through the area with no affect.
Norsif let out a ghastly chuckle. "Bet you didn't expect that. You can't hurt me, but I can hurt you. More accurately, I can cause you to suffocate. It'll only take a moment. Carbon monoxide is known to be quick..." And he began to float menacingly closer.
Meanwhile, Gaspar fell to his back hard, getting the breath knocked out of him. He looked up, and saw Kradish standing over him. "You can't win," the Hellbound gloated.
"We'll see about that," the Guru responded, and raised his leg, and kicked, hitting Kradish in the groin.
The man doubled over in pain. Gaspar stood up quickly, and drove his knee upward into the man's nose. When the Hellbound fell, he glanced over to see how Melchior was faring.
At the moment, the Guru of Life was trying desperately to stay away from the gaseous Norsif. Gaspar wasn't quite sure what gas Norsif was, but if he was poisonous enough to kill Melchior, then Gaspar had nothing to lose by trying something.
Gaspar hauled back, and cast his arm forward, throwing a fireball at the back of the smoky form. It passed straight through, but Melchior saw it in advance, and blocked it. But just because it had passed through didn't mean it hadn't affected the smoky Hellbound.
Almost instantly, Norsif burst into flames, screaming horribly. And then Kradish grabbed Gaspar's ankle and pulled him to the ground, obstructing his view of his friend.
Kradish rose up, and jumped up in the air. Gaspar erected a magical shield just in time before Kradish landed, knees first, on him. Kradish began to savagely beat on the shield, and it was all Gaspar could do to hold him off. He didn't know how long he'd be able to keep it up.
Norsif swiped his gaseous arms left and right, desperately trying to put out the flames. Screaming, he transformed again, this time becoming slightly more dense, and blue.
He's become water, Melchior noted, wondering how he could beat that. And then he had an idea.
Bending over the side of the platform that they were standing upon that held the central machine, Melchior reached down, and stuck his magical sword into the lava. Making sure of his aim, he flicked his sword to the side, splashing lava on the watery Norsif.
Before Norsif could even react, the lava hit him. Steam rose up as one of his legs evaporated instantly from the heat of the lava. With a strange sounding scream of rage, Norsif transformed again, this time into something Melchior had yet to see.
He'd changed into metal, as if a robot, but with no discernible separate parts. His leg was still missing, but he didn't seem to care. As Melchior watched, the two metallic hands stretched into long claws, with tips so sharp he could barely see them.
In desperation, the Guru again tried to throw lava onto Norsif, but the metallic creature simply stood there and let the lava splash against him. It struck his chest, and dripped down the rest of his body, even down his remaining leg. The heat didn't seem to affect him at all.
With nothing better to do, Melchior took his sword in both hands, and swiped at the neck of the creature. Without even moving from the spot, Norsif grabbed the sword by the blade, and pulled it out of Melchior's hands, throwing the weapon behind his back. It clattered down on the metal behind him loudly.
Desperately, Melchior searched his pockets for anything he had. The only thing he found was the canteen, strangely cool in this heat. He looked up at the metal creature, lava still dripping from it, and smiled. "Want something to drink," he asked, and splashed water on Norsif's leg.
The water instantly evaporated on contact with the heated metal, causing steam to rise. Norsif cried out in surprise as the cool water cause his almost molten leg to crumple like a piece of paper. He landed on his back, and looked up at the Guru standing over him.
His expression grim, Melchior held out the canteen, and poured its contents over Norsif's chest. Norsif screamed as his chest crumpled, steam still rising in the air. He threw out one of his hands to swipe at Melchior.
Deftly, Melchior caught it by the wrist, and dropped the canteen so he could use both hands to hold the claw back. With a grunt of effort, he lifted up what was left of the metal body, and plunged it into the lava, still holding onto the wrist.
The other hand shot out of the lava, and grabbed onto the platform. Melchior dropped the other wrist, and jumped away, avoiding the lava spray. He dropped to the ground, and grabbed the canteen, splashing what was left on the elbow of the metallic arm. Weakened, it fell apart, and the shoulder sank into the lava, the upper arm holding the edge of the platform in a death grip.
Not waiting to see if the remains of Norsif would crawl out of the lava, Melchior ran over to his sword, picked it up, and went to help Gaspar.
Gaspar slid to the side, allowing Kradish's hand to smash through the shield. Such was the force of his blow, Kradish's fist continued on through the metal of the bridge. He grunted, trying to pull it out. Gaspar used the chance to slip out from under him.
He stood, and tried to run from the Hellbound, but Kradish reached out and grabbed Gaspar's ankle, tripping him. Gaspar's chin hit the hard metal of the bridge, and he was temporarily dazed as Kradish began to pull him closer, and he pulled his hand out of the bridge.
But Gaspar was brought to his senses at Kradish's scream of pain, and he looked back to see the cause. Melchior's sword was in Kradish's lower back, up to the hilt, and had even broken through the bridge. Melchior pulled out his now-bloody sword, and jumped off of the Hellbound, landing in front of Gaspar.
Melchior winked. "Glad you have me around, right?"
Gaspar nodded his thanks, and looked down at Kradish. The Hellbound was obviously paralyzed from the waist down, but he was trying to crawl closer to them. "You'll not defeat me so easily," Kradish screamed out desperately.
"No," Gaspar agreed, "Killing is never very easy."
Taking Melchior's sword from him, Gaspar held it up over his head. "Go back to where you came from, Hellbound," he spat, and brought the sword down through the back of Kradish's neck. Kradish spasmed for only a moment, before he was still.
Wordlessly, Gaspar handed his sword back to Melchior. They both turned towards the door, and saw one last threat: Tirren.
"Get out of our way," Gaspar warned as they began to walk closer to the strange woman. "Just let us leave, and you can survive."
"But, I don't want you to leave," Tirren stated in a sensuous voice, taking a single step toward the two Gurus. "I want you to stay. Only a few minutes. You'll have plenty of time to get out. Why don't you just relax here with me. You won't regret it..."
Melchior seemed to sway at her every word. His eyes glazed over, and he sheathed his sword. "Sure, honey. We've got all the time in the world. Let's hang around here, Gaspar," he suggested.
Gaspar looked as if he was trying hard not to fall asleep. "N-no, Melchior. We've got to... leave. The Generator is going to... blow."
Tirren stepped closer, grabbing Gaspar gently by the shoulders. She leaned toward his ear and whispered, "Blow... Like... this," she asked, and blew gently in Gaspar's ear.
Gaspar's eyes rolled back in his head, and his knees buckled. "No... Not like..." His sentence finished as an incoherent mumble.
"It's really hot in here," Tirren purred. "Perhaps we could... shed a few unnecessary garments?" She pointed towards Melchior's sword. "Like... that, for starters."
Melchior nodded. "My... sword." His eyebrows drew close together. "My sword," he stated.
He looked at Tirren angrily. "My sword," he yelled, and drew it. The familiar sound of the blade being released from its sheath roused Gaspar from his distracted state.
Gaspar shook his head, and pushed Tirren away. "We've got to get away from here, now!"
Tirren looked back between the Gurus, as if confused that her power hadn't worked. "But... You've got to stay!" She saw in their faces that she was no longer listening to them. Her expression grew angry as well.
"You're not leaving," she yelled, and desperately tried tackled Melchior, before he could do anything more than bring his arm up in defense.
Tirren's face stopped, a few inches away from Melchior's, and she collapsed onto Melchior, her arms around Melchiors' neck. She made a weak gurgling noise, and her arms went slack.
Gaspar and Melchior both looked down to see the blood-stained blade of Melchior's sword, protruding from Tirren's back. Surprised, Melchior stepped back, allowing the Hellbound woman to fall from his shoulders, the sword making a sickeningly wet sound as it slid out of her belly.
They both looked back to the machine at the center of the room, as many lights on it began to flash red, and alarms began to sound. They didn't need to be told that it was a bad sign.
"I think explosion's imminent," Melchior yelled over the blaring of the alarms.
Gaspar simply nodded, and they ran off down the hall, leaving behind the dead Hellbound. Neither of them saw a metallic claw reach out of the lava, to grab onto the platform in the center of the room.
Gaspar and Melchior turned left when they came to the opposite doors, and started to run down the circular hall.
"How are we going to know which shaft we came out of," Melchior yelled. "Epoch might not spot us if we come out anywhere else."
Gaspar pointed up at several shafts as they passed by. "We just look for the one with no grate."
They soon spotted it. Melchior pushed Gaspar up into the shaft, and Gaspar helped him up afterwards. They scrambled frantically through the shaft, now much hotter than it had been before, but neither of them even noticed.
Abruptly, Gaspar stopped, almost causing Melchior to bump into him. Before Melchior could ask why, Gaspar held up a finger, and whispered, "Do you hear that?"
Melchior listened as carefully as he could. After a moment, he could hear a metallic scraping, coming closer with each passing second. Norsif, Melchior thought, horrified. In these close quarters, they'd be defenseless against the Hellbound.
They both started crawling as fast as humanly possible, trying to reach the end of the shaft before the obviously faster Norsif caught up with them.
Melchior sighed in relief as they saw the opening to the outside world. But they stopped, when they heard a different sound. A deep rumbling. They both looked back, and saw bright red light filling the tunnel so far behind them, but coming closer.
They scrambled out of the shaft, onto the surrounding ledge, and looked around, Epoch was nowhere in sight, and the rumbling was almost deafening.
Gaspar shouted something at Melchior, but the Guru couldn't hear it over the rumbling. "What did you say," Melchior shouted.
Instead of answering, Gaspar demonstrated, and jumped off the ledge.
Melchior shook his head. "You crazy bastard," he yelled, and followed his oldest friend over the edge, as fire exploded out of the shaft behind him.
Melchior closed his eyes, unwilling to see the end coming. And then the breath was knocked out of him, as he hit something, hard. But it was still something soft. He opened his eyes, and saw that he was in the back seat of Epoch.
Looking around, he could see Gaspar in the front seat. He was laughing. Once he got his breath back, Melchior joined in, laughing as hard as he could. They'd just escaped life-threatening danger. How did they do it? By jumping off a cliff, of course. It was almost absurd.
Once they were appropriately calm, they took in their surroundings. They were making a circle high around the volcano, watching as it exploded, sending pieces of the Generator flying in every direction, some of the pieces almost reaching Epoch.
Melchior sighed. They'd done it. Their mission was over. It had been hard, but-
Melchior jumped to the side, leaning against one side of the cockpit, as a metal claw came down and slashed into the seat, where his head had been but a moment ago. He looked up to see Norsif, hanging on by the one claw. What was left of his other arm was stabbed into the back of Epoch to keep him in place.
Gaspar looked back, and assessed the situation. "Epoch," he yelled, "Shut the canopy!"
The canopy slid out from its hidden compartment above the back seat, ramming into Norsif's elbow, carrying him along, stopping about a foot from being closed. Norsif's arm slipped out through the gap, and the canopy closed the rest of the way.
Scrambling frantically, Norsif stabbed his claw into Epoch's hood, holding on tenaciously. He stabbed his other arm in as well, and pulled out his claw, reaching out to get a purchase closer the glass canopy. Both the Gurus, and the ship itself knew that the glass wouldn't hold Norsif for a second, and they didn't know how to get rid of him. At least, two of them didn't.
"Epoch," Gaspar yelled, "Initiate warp to the End of Time."
The familiar warping of the air before them began. Norsif was getting closer.
"Now, Epoch. Release the hood, and pull down!"
Epoch suddenly pulled down, underneath the warp gate, and the hood, Norsif still attached, detached from its base. The hood flew up into the gate, Norsif howling so loud even those in the ship could hear him, as Epoch flew underneath the portal.
As the portal closed up, sealing Norsif away forever, Gaspar and Melchior sighed in unison.
Gaspar smiled. "One down, four to go."
"Why not? I don't have anything to lose but my life. . .and I got that
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