Chrono Continuum Chapter 80

Shadow's Source

By Cain

1999 A.D.

In the ruined future, outside of a cave, the skies wept. As the rain poured from above, it bounced off of the shield surrounding the Red Omen, running down in rivulets and collecting in pools all around. If one were in a poetic mood, one might think that the world grieved for a lost hero. Of course this was silly. The planet cared not for any single one of its denizens. If it grieved at all, it was for the blight on its surface, the unchanging, undending land known as the Kingdom, and the source of its power, even now in an unnatural ship with impossibly powerful shields. Indeed, were the planet capable of true emotion, it would grieve heavily, for its own existence, and for the existence of those poor creatures that lived on its surface.

But this is not the story of the planet. This is the story of a few of its denizens.


Same Time

Just as the rain poured from the skies outside, tears came from a beleaguered queen inside a dank, cold cave. Not because of her condition did she weep, but because she felt so alone. Her daughter and husband were captured. And her son could very well be dead. It seemed impossible, but she knew it was very real, and very true.

She'd been denied the chance to go into the Red Omen, after Adom, but she realized now that she had become unstable. She was undependable. Her execution of Drissom, which she had revealed to nobody, ate at her from the inside out. Only in retrospect did she now realize how cold-hearted it had been. After all, tricking Drissom into looking into a laser cannon, something he'd never seen before in the magical land of the Kingdom, was low, even considering how bad he was. He would have killed her without regret, yet she was supposed to be better than he.

"A penny for your thoughts," a voice droned behind her.

Marle didn't need to turn around to know it was Robo. Robo... The name danced through her thoughts. Crono had been the one to name Robo, almost as if he were a child. But Robo was an equal, truly. She decided to turn to him. "Excuse me," she asked.

"It is a phrase I heard during my time as a school teacher," Robo explained. "It means 'I would like to know what you are thinking about'."

Marle nodded. "I... I've been thinking about... Myself. I've been rather... upset. Very upset. And I'm not quite sure how to deal with it. Revenge... doesn't work as well as I'd hoped it would."

Marle turned completely around as Robo sat down before her. "Indeed. I noticed that you had left Drissom's fate out of your account of the events at the Ice Generator." Before she could respond, he continued, "I've spent a great deal of my life pondering emotions, and how to respond to them. And one thing I've discovered is that no matter how you may feel, you can't let it change you. Magus is proof of the mistake of keeping hatred in your heart."

Marle nodded, mildly surprised at his insight. "You're right... as usual. But what am I supposed to feel?"

Robo blinked. "I really do not know. I grieve for the potential loss of Crono, Rakin, and Corea, and the real loss of Dalton and Frog, but... I do not feel the same way you do about it, nor will anyone else. However, if I were to hazard a guess at what you should try to keep in your heart, I'd take the simplest answer, the one that you were always so good at."

Marle raised an eyebrow. "Cheerfulness?"

Robo patted the back of her hand. "Hope."


Same Time

Valiod smiled. The time was near. He'd had another vision only a few hours ago. He knew what was to happen, to an extent. In a matter of hours, twelve at the most, all obstacles would be gone, and he could finally claim the world he so richly deserved. Then, the end of the "Heroes" would finally come, and he'd be free. Free of any duty he felt towards his father, for he would have accomplished what the mighty alien couldn't. Free of any peril, because he'd have power beyond the highest stretch of imagination brought on by any creature on this pitiful planet. He'd finally achieve what he'd always known would be his destiny. He'd be the god of this planet.

And maybe more.


Same Time

Had it a sense of humor, it might have chuckled. The cloaked one was always interested in the dreams of grandeur held by mortals. No being could become a god, especially not something like the half-alien. He would never reach its full potential because he relied on the powers of others.

Of course, this didn't concern it. True, if the planet was destroyed, it might be particularly busy for a while, but then it could rest for eternity, barring an unforeseen emergency. In fact, there were only two things that particularly interested it: the target, and the other.

Rakin. Thanatos.

The first was rather routine, but the second... bothered the being. It would have to investigate once its mission was over. And, if the halfling's calculations were correct, the mission would end in the next twelve hours.


Same Time

Hotwire's eyes widened in awe as they came into a new room, leaving the two-headed snakes to kill eachother off in the room behind them. To put it bluntly, the room was big.

Of course, that was nothing new. For such a large ship, there weren't many rooms, so the rooms that were there had to be large. But this room was different. Even allowing for the near-complete absence of light in the Red Omen, Hotwire got the feeling that she wasn't seeing nearly as much of the room at first glance as was really there.

Of course it could be that her senses were becoming slightly distorted by the power of Shadow in this place. The power was so dense in this room that Hotwire didn't think it was possible for any room but this one to be the generator room. If there were a room with more Shadow power in the entire Red Omen, Hotwire didn't think she could survive walking into it.

"I think we're here," Lucca whispered. She blinked in surprise at herself. Her voice rose as she continued, "The Shadow's so powerful here, even a Kingdom member couldn't survive in the real Generator room if this isn't it. Besides, some of my equipment's picking up some weird readings, and..."

She paused, and leaned her head slightly to the side, as if trying to discern something. In a moment, Janus and Hotwire figured out what it was. Although the source was unclear, they could all detect a very quiet humming. As they listened, it slowly began to increase in volume.

They all flinched at a sudden slamming sound. Off to their right, about twenty feet away, a green light appeared. It looked to be a glass water-filled tube, sitting atop a pedestal, with wires running in and out of it. The tube's green light didn't penetrate the darkness very far, but it was quite bright. As the three Travelers looked at it, they noticed a large form was floating inside of the tube.

They flinched again at another slamming sound, again from an unkown source. This time, an identical light appeared, but off to their left, an equal distance from them as the first light source. Again, it was a water-filled tube, identical, except that the mass floating inside was smaller than whatever was inside the first one.

They didn't flinch this time, as the slam sounded again, and another tube lit up, beside the first one. Then it happened again, beside the second one. One after another, tubes lit up, creating a hall of sorts, leading from the door they stood at, off into the darkness of the room. Finally, they stopped. There was silence for a moment as the three Travelers stared down the eerie green-lit hall. Finally, one more light appeared at the end. A yellow, friendly light lit up, revealing what looked to be a large machine, rooted to the floor, and rising up out of sight.

"The Shadow Generator," Janus announced, rather in awe.

Lucca was about to respond, when she was cut off by Hotwire, calling her name. "Hey, Lucca, look at this."

Lucca complied, walking over to where Hotwire was standing, examing the first tube. "Lucca... What do you think this thing is," Hotwire asked, gesturing to the dark, oblong floating mass in the tube.

Lucca stepped closer, and squinted, trying to examine it more closely. "Hmmm... I can't tell. It's too dark... Wait a minute." Reaching over her shoulder, she fished around her back pack and pulled out a flash-light, a convenience so that she wouldn't have to waste any magic making fire for light. With a flick, she turned it on.

She gasped, and dropped it. But it didn't matter. The flashlight had landed so that it leaned against the pedestal on which the tube stood, illuminating the form inside. It was a man... sort of.

The man was as pale as Magus. His clothing, which was still on despite being immersed in liquid, floated lazily around his body, because he was so deathly thin that the clothes looked to be almost clownish in nature. The phrase "skin and bones" took on new meaning, staring at this man, because Lucca had trouble believing he had even ever been alive. But the way his fingers and toes periodically twitched, and the way his eyes stared at them, despite being blood-shot beyond belief, told her that he was, in fact, still alive, but apparently too weak to do anything. A mask was attached to his mouth, either to make sure he didn't drown, or just to make sure that he could draw in air, despite his unbelievably weakened condition.

Janus averted his eyes. Lucca closed hers. Hotwire simply stared. "They're... human!"

"No they're not," argued a voice. All three travelers turned to see Parsa, standing alone, between them and the Generator. "Well, not all of them. Some of them are aliens, some of them are just freaks. But they all have one thing in common. They're all Hellbound."

"But... why," Hotwire demanded.

Parsa smiled condescendingly. "Why not? We had more than we really needed. And they were the best source of Shadow magic we could find. All I have to do is use an insignificant portion of my power to keep them alive, and the machines suck the energy out of them. Once you're dead, and my children are safe, I'll kill them, or release them so they can serve me again. I haven't decided."

Janus' eyes narrowed. "But we're not dead. Therefore, your 'children' aren't safe. Once we kill you, the threat will be over. The world will be safe again."

Parsa made a slight pout. "Oh, but you're wrong on two central issues. One, my children are already born, so killing me won't make a difference to their safety."

"No way," Hotwire shouted. "How could they be born already? That would require a gestation period of... what, a month?"

Parsa shook her head. "What was it you said, my dear? 'Time travel breeds strange circumstances'? Such is the case with me. The only thing left to do now is to wait until they leave. Then there will be nothing more to worry about."

"Wait a second," Lucca interrupted. "You said we were wrong about two things. What was the second thing?"

"Oh. That. Second of all," Parsa told them, "you won't succeed in killing me."

As the three watched, she snapped her fingers. In the blink of an eye, four figures materialized behind her. Adom, Brandt, Techie, and-

"Schala," Janus nearly shouted in surprise. "Not you too?"

Parsa smiled. "Oh, how sad. The daughter, ready and willing to kill her father."

"I won't hesitate to kill you, father," Schala told him. "Your life means no more to me now than the life of a rabbit we eat for dinner."

Janus nodded, and Hotwire percieved that something had gone between them that wasn't said out loud. But she would have picked up telepathy, as would the others.

"We have taught her well in your absence, Janus," Parsa continued. "She has become a faithful servant of the Kingdom, just like your formerly faithful wife." When Techie didn't say anything, she continued, "Well, I do hope you enjoy yourselves. Sister against sister, husband against wife, police man against scientist... Hmmm. I suppose those last two aren't related. Still, I'd be willing to bet my money on the cop. However, just in case..."

She gestured. Adom smiled, and snapped his chain whip. Suddenly, the darkness around them changed. In the strange green light of the tubes, black outlines could be seen. Demons.

Parsa smiled. "Come, Adom, let's leave these boys and girls to their fun." And with that, the two of them vanished, leaving a Hellbound, a Scientist, a Warrior, and large number of demons with the three Travelers.


"All men have evil in their hearts."
- Meribian sailor, Lunar:SSS


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