Chrono Continuum Chapter 78
The Real Deal
Hotwire sighed. " 'Let's kick some butt,' I said. Not 'Let's wait around near the busted Epoch while Little-Miss-Genius tries to fix it'," she complained impatiently.
She and her father were sitting next to eachother, their legs dangling off the ship's battered wing. Hotwire shook her head as she heard a muffled thump, followed by unlady-like cursing, coming from underneath the ship's hood.
Janus shrugged. "Oh well. Let's make the best of it, shall we?"
Hotwire raised an eyebrow and glanced at him. "How so?"
"Well, I want your honest opinion on something." He cleared his throat. "Do you like my hair?"
Hotwire blinked. "Uh... why?"
Janus took a lock of it in his hands. "Well, it used to be short, as you may remember from when we were on opposing sides. But it grew out during my imprisonment, and I haven't seemed to have the spare time to cut it. Now I do, but I'd like to know what you think."
Hotwire shook her head. "If I were you, I'd cut it. It gets in the way during a fight. I should know. Besides, it suits Magus more than it does you."
Janus nodded in agreement. "Good point. Give me the Frogmasamune, would you?"
Hotwire complied, but turned away from the wizard at a metallic slam from the front of the ship. She looked to see Lucca, looking rather frustrated. Hotwire asked her, "No luck?"
Lucca shook her head, her long hair falling from her shoulders. "You could say that again. Epoch's pretty much useless unless we can get some fuel in her. Looks like there's no calling for reinforcements this time around."
There was a light sound of impact as Janus landed on the ground, long blue hairs falling to the earth around him. His hair was now cut as short as it had been before. "Well, then," he suggested as he helped his daughter down from the wing, giving her back the sword, "Let's get this over with, shall we? There's no time like the present. No time travel pun intended."
"Alright," Lucca warned them as the entrance to the Red Omen came into view, "If this place is anything like the Black Omen, they'll have automated defense systems everywhere, starting with the entrance. The Black Omen had turret lasers, so be prepared to hit hard before they have a chance to do damage."
However, as they came to the ramp leading from the simple earth to the metallic door, they noticed a decided lack of anything resembling turret lasers. Lucca blinked in surprise, and glanced around, searching carefully.
The hull of the Red Omen stretched on and on to the left and right, and up out of sight above. Cannons and other weapons of a variety of shapes and sizes virtually ringed the ship, making it heavily fortified against any sort of attack. It seemed ill-equipped, however, to defend against a three-person invasion force.
Warily, Lucca walked up to the door, glancing around for any sign of danger. She looked back to Hotwire for the girl's mechanically enhanced vision, but received only a shrug. No visible danger. Nothing at all. It couldn't be this easy, she thought. Could it?
Lucca examined the door for any trace of danger, or a trap. However, like most of the doors in the Black Omen had been, this door had no knob, simply a small button where the flat slabs of metal intersected to form the door.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Lucca reached out to touch the button on the door. Halfway there, however, her arm stopped, and she cried out in surprise.
"What's wrong," Janus asked.
Lucca grabbed her arm with her other hand, braced a foot against the door, and tried to move, but she was unable. "Something's grabbing my arm. It won't let go. Help me, you guys!"
Hotwire and Janus stepped forward to assist Lucca, but were both suddenly knocked from their feet by something unseen.
Janus landed roughly on his back, but Hotwire turned the fall into a roll, ending up on her feet. Drawing her sword, she quickly glanced around for the unseen threat.
Lucca cried out in pain as she was lifted from the ground, dangling by her arm. She gasped in surprise as the air in front of her shimmered, as if seen through intense heat. In a moment, something began to solidify. Something large.
"Holy...," Janus muttered as he looked up at the large form, solidifying before his eyes.
It was a robot, with gleaming silver skin. Its eight long legs branched out around the entrance, making a clear path for unwary insurgents. The legs met at a large sphere, attached to a humanoid body. One of the arms ended in a large, sharp claw, probably designed for cutting intruders in half. The other arm ended in a strange contraption, apparently made of several projectile weapons, which retracted or extended as needed. The head was wedge shaped, with several mounted laser guns where the mouth should be, and a visor in the eye area.
Each of the legs had a separate set of metallic talons, one of which was lifted up in the air, holding Lucca by her arm. The leg lifted higher, bringing Lucca up to its eye level. Lucca was dwarfed by the enormous head as it examined her, looking her up and down. She blinked in surprise as she heard soft laughter, coming from a small speaker directly below the visor.
"Hmm hm hm hm ha ha ha," the voice laughed mockingly, a femining voice that Lucca could almost recognize. "Well," the voice asked, "Aren't you the perfect little facsimile?"
"Nope," Lucca responded. "I'm the real deal, and so are my friends. I recommend you let me down before you go down with your toy robot, whoever you are."
The robot's head turned toward the two on the ground, taking in Janus and Hotwire. "Well, Janus," the voice continued, still annoyingly confident and condescending, "You've managed to replace us quite well, haven't you?"
Janus' jaw clenched as he stood up straight, shaking his head. "No, I couldn't possibly replace you, my wife, or our daughter. You are each one of a kind, although I no longer respect you."
The voice laughed once again, and abruptly dropped Lucca, allowing Janus to catch her. The robot's legs bent further, bringing the face closer to the three Travelers as Janus' wife continued, "Respect me? Come now, Janus. You've always known that I'd defend the Kingdom with my life. I'm not the traitor to my husband. You're the traitor to the Kingdom."
Janus gently let Lucca onto her feet, but his eyes never left the robot. "Think what you will. But do not obstruct our path, or you will be destroyed along with the Red Omen."
Janus' wife laughed, as if his statement had been silly. "Oh, I'm not in this robot. I wouldn't risk my life on something as insignificant as three Travelers." The head turned to look at Hotwire and Lucca. "The resemblance is remarkable, Janus. Are they alternates?"
Janus nodded, and gestured to Lucca. "Yes, she is."
Lucca stepped forward. "What are you two babbling about, Janus?"
The head drew back. "You mean you don't know? Oh, Janus, you bad boy, you. Perhaps a visual demonstration is in order."
The visor was suddenly filled with static, like a television screen. However, the static was soon replaced by the face of Janus' wife. She looked to be in her early twenties. She had green eyes, and her long hair flowed down her back.
Hotwire gasped. Except for a few years difference, and the lack of facial wear, she looked exactly like-
"Lucca is my name, and yours too, I presume," the woman announced in a satisfied tone, seeing the surprised expressions the two women wore. "Janus must have really missed the feel of a woman under the sheets to go for copy of the original. How does it feel now that you know you're just an illusion of me? To know that you're not a woman in his eyes, simply a body?"
Lucca snarled. "I'm not an illusion, a facsimile, or a copy. I'm the original, the true Lucca from the true timeline. And, just for future reference, I'm not Janus', nor anyone else's plaything. If I was attracted to Janus, which I'm not, I couldn't care less if my body was the same as his back-stabbing wife, because I'm more of a woman than you'll ever be.
"In fact," Lucca continued, folding her arms, "If you 'missed the feel of a man under the sheets' enough to shack up with a Hellbound over Janus, I'd like to ask you the same question: How does it feel to know you're simply a body?"
Janus' wife's eyes narrowed. "You little... How dare you! That's it. You are going to be the first to die."
With that, the clawed arm came down toward Lucca, too fast for her to defend herself. She grunted in surprise as Hotwire tackled her to the side, just as the claw tore up the earth behind them.
The head turned to watch, Hotwire her sword drawn. The face on the screen smiled. "And what have we here? A fake daughter? Pretty sorry job, Janus. Her hair isn't even the same, or her hand."
Hotwire smiled, and shook her head. "I'm no copy of your daughter. I am your daughter, mom."
Techie (I'll just call her that from now on) blinked in confusion. "What?"
Hotwire reached back, and grabbed her cape, pulling into view. "Recognize this, mom? Magus was kind enough to leave it as a gift when he rescued me from the Kingdom."
Techie's eyes opened wide in amazement. "Jara? But... how? How can you be so old?"
"Time travel breeds strange circumstances, mom," Hotwire answered, placing emphasis on the title. "I'm looking forward to meeting you in person, rather than through a screen. And maybe I'll get to meet my big sister, too."
Techie blinked. "But... You are my enemy... I must kill you."
Hotwire shrugged. "Give it a shot. If we don't win, I'm as good as dead, so you might as well kill me now."
Techie looked to be in pain. "Must... kill... enemies... But... my... daughter-"
She suddenly screamed, as if in pain, and held her hands to her temples. The image on the visor broke up once more into static, and then to blackness.
Hotwire looked over to Janus. "What was that all about?"
Janus shrugged, looking perplexed as he stared at the giant robot, now seemingly nonfunctional. "I don't know. Perhaps we'll find out inside the Red Omen."
Hotwire nodded, and looked down in thought. "This explains a lot. My natural understanding of technology, the hologram of Lucca..."
Lucca sighed. "Well, that was illuminating. Anyone else have any secrets they haven't shared?"
Janus shook his head. "No. That's pretty much the big one for me." He paused, and turned to look at Lucca, a bit perturbed. "You're really not attracted to me at all?"
Lucca snorted. "No. You remind me too much of Magus. Besides, you're not really my type."
Hotwire smiled, and poked Lucca in the shoulder. "Is Glenn?"
"Alright," Lucca announced, pointedly ignoring Hotwire's question. "Let's go in already."
However, no sooner had she stepped on the metal ramp, when a metallic leg slammed down in front of her. She looked up to see the robot reactivate itself, and turn its head to the nearest target.
"Breaking up is hard to do."
"I wouldnt know."
-Master Roshi and Krillin (Dragon Ball Z)
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