Chrono Continuum Chapter 79

Clearing a Path

By Cain

1999 AD

"Damn..." Brandt muttered, shaking his head as he looked down at the woman, slumped over the control panel. "What the hell happened to her?"

Adom hooked a finger around the neck of her dress, and pulled her into a sitting position, raising an eyebrow at her vacant expression. "Well... She's still alive. I guess she burnt out."

"What do you mean, 'burnt out'," Schala asked calmly. "You speak as if she's a machine."

Adom let Techie's unconscious form drop again. "Well, in a way, she is. She's not the one who burnt out; her chip did."

Brandt blinked. "Chip?"

Schala ran a hand over her mother's hair, and then turned to Adom as if the small moment of tenderness had never happened. "An MC chip? Is that what you're talking about?" At the nod from the Hellbound, she continued, "But what is my mother doing with an MC chip?"

They all turned sharply at a pleasant voice from behind. Parsa shrugged. "We needed to perform a test run on somebody before we actually relied on it to accomplish anything. And your mother was the perfect subject."

"But why her," Schala protested, her voice showing a hint of emotion. "Why not some peasant from the outside world?"

"Because, we stood more to gain from her," Parsa replied. "We were a bit worried about her loyalty to us. And if we killed her, we'd have lost her technical genius. This gave us the best of both worlds."

Slowly, Schala nodded. "I see. So, what shall we do with her now?"

Parsa gestured vaguely at Schala before turning away. "You will fix the chip."

Schala nodded again, her eyes narrowing slightly. "Yes. I will."


Same Time

Lucca dove into a roll, feeling the heat of the explosion from behind her as the robot just barely missed. Still, the robot was unperturbed, and simply fired again, once again nearly hitting the Traveler.

Lucca glanced around, surveying the situation. On the opposite side of the robot, Hotwire was using the Frogmasamune to fend off attacks from the machine's robotic arm, as well as several of its legs. Janus, meanwhile, was playing much the same game as Lucca, trying to dodge shots from the face cannons while trying to cause some damage in the process. They were both having about the same luck. None.

Lucca cried out in surprise as one of the robot's eight mechanical legs swept out in front of her, tripping her up. She hit the ground with a pained grunt, her gun flying from her hand.

Desperately, she scrambled up to her feet, hoping to avoid the shots that she knew were coming. She jumped forward, just as a machine gun tore a hole in the ground behind her. Thinking quickly, Lucca ran toward her gun, dirt flying up behind her.

"Yes," she exclaimed as she bent over, scooping up the gun from the ground, and then rolled to the side, allowing the hail of bullets to sweep past her. The robot was smart, but its reflexes were slow. Maybe she could use that.


Same Time

Hotwire rolled forward, underneath the sweep of the claw, ending up in a standing position, her sword at the ready. She watched as the claw came down again, even as the head was following Janus. She'd heard of multi-tasking, but this robot was far too good at it.

Bringing her mind back to the fight, she flipped backward, barely avoiding the claw as it tore a huge hole in the ground, where she'd been but a moment ago.

As soon as she hit the ground, she leapt forward, sweeping the Frogmasamune down towards the arm above the claw. Just before the severing blow, however, the claw swept upwards at Hotwire's head.

Survival instinct overriding her need to sever the arm, Hotwire ducked beneath the slice. This wasn't going to be easy.


Same Time

Janus jumped forward, over the eruption of dirt and rock as the laser beam slammed into the ground below him. So far, all he'd been able to do was dodge, but he knew he'd be worn out long before the robot would. And then he'd be doomed.

Teeth set in determination, Janus hit the ground, stumbling for only a moment before he finally came to a stop. He turned his head just in time to see all of the face lasers fire at once, forming a ring which would converge on his position.

Acting before he knew what he was doing, Janus instantly cast a flight spell, and surged forward. The heat was searing as he passed through the opening in the ring of lasers, but he was pleasantly surprised to find himself intact. Quickly, before the robot could fire again, Janus changed his trajectory, moving almost vertically. A second volley of lasers passed directly beneath him.

Without notice, Janus changed trajectory again, flying forward. Before the robot could react, Janus was above its head, and he dropped out of the flight. With a grunt he landed on the metallic head, the impact jarring him.

The robot now unable to hit him without ignoring the other two Travelers, it began to wildly swing its head around, in an attempt to throw him.

Janus grimaced as the world spun around him. "What was I thinking?"


Same Time

Lucca blinked in surprise as the robot's head began to swing about wildly. However, it didn't seem to affect the machine's aim, because Lucca just barely dodged another blast.

She slowed to a halt, however, as the robot's arm raised in the air. As she watched, the gun that had been firing at her retracted into the arm, replaced by a huge cannon. The robot brought its arm back down and took careful aim.

Lucca cast one of her weakest spells, Protect, (I think that's what it's called, right?) a moment before the cannon fired.

Everything was blindingly bright. Lucca could see nothing, could hear nothing. She was in a world all her own. She couldn't even tell when the machine reloaded the cannon, and took careful aim.


Same Time

Hotwire gritted her teeth as the claw pushed down on her, held off only by the sword in her strong grip. Still, Hotwire knew she'd tire out in a minute, while the robot had endless strength.

Quickly, she glanced around, seeing if either Lucca or Janus could help her. Janus was nowhere to be seen, and Lucca was on the ground, the barrel of a cannon pointing right at her.

"No," she screamed, "Lucca!"


Same Time

Janus, from atop his viewpoint on the robot's head, looked around for Lucca after hearing Christina's scream. In a moment he spotted her, the cannon aimed at her. "No," he yelled forcefully, and raised his hand.

A blade of Shadow magic extended from his hand, and without another moment's wait, he slammed it downward, stabbing it through the hard metal of the robot's head.


Same Time

Lucca opened her eyes, to stare into the dark barrel of the cannon. Instinctively, she rolled to the side, knowing it wouldn't be enough.

Strangely, it was.

She glanced to the side to see the cannon still aimed at the ground where she had been a moment before, unmoving.

Off to the side, Hotwire stepped out from underneath the still claw of the robot's other arm, unharmed.

Janus jumped down from atop the robot's head, using his magic to land lightly. He smiled. "Who'd have thought," he muttered to himself.


"We cannot leave the haphazard to chance."
-N. F. Simpson


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