Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 12


By Crono_12

"I thought you promised you wouldn’t leave me." Her eyes smiled. She referred to the time five years ago when, after she had vanished in the seventh century, she made me promise not to leave her again. Of course, we really couldn’t seem to help it.

"Yeah, but somehow we still get separated," I replied coolly.

She laughed, then turned serious. "So…how are we going to get out of here?" Marle knew me well enough to know that I was already making a plan for our escape. But before I could even speak, my knees buckled, and I leaned against the wall. I hadn’t realized how tired I was until that moment. Marle helped me up, concerned.

"What’s wrong?" She asked.

I shook my head, then said, "nothing. I’m just tired. I’ve been on my feet for a day and a half straight." I managed a grin, but Marle knew it was fake.

Marle nodded, then showed me to one of two hard beds. The beds were only old mattresses lying on top of a cold metal slab. The pillow, if one could call it a pillow, was a small sack filled with what seemed like seeds. Nevertheless, the moment my head hit the Spartan headrest, my eyes closed, and remained closed for a long time while my head played back images of long ago.

* * *

I had to wake up. Quickly. I desperately needed to tell Marle of the contents of my dreams. When my eyes fluttered open, I saw Marle sitting on the other low bed staring back at me. When she noticed I had woken up, she quickly looked away. And then suddenly, I forgot my dream and what I needed to say. Mentally shrugging, I looked around the cell for the first time, and was surprised to see two short, rusted tables, each of which supported a plate full of some type of fould food and a bowl of soup, as well as water in a dirty glass. I got up out of bed and sat down on a cold metal stool. Looking at Marle and feeling somewhat refreshed, a small hint of a smile played at the edges of my lips.

"Care to join me for some gruel madam?" I asked Marle with an English accent.

She giggled, then replied in the same accent, "Don’t mind if I do."

I returned her giggle with a laugh of my own. Looking down at my food, I realized it wasn’t gruel, but some type of rice, a weird vegetable, and a hunk of medium rare meat no bigger than my fist. Despite it’s unattractiveness, I wolfed it down hungrily. In three minutes, I had finished my first real meal in two days. I got up, and looked around the cell once more, but stopped when my hand brushed my waist bag. Dalton had searched it quickly and, upon discovering it held only flowers, kicked me and called me a sissy.

"Oh, I almost forgot. Marle, I picked this for you." I withdrew one of the two flowers I had picked from the gardens. It was the gorgeous flower with the orange petals. I offered it to her, and she clasped it to her chest, looking down at it.

"Oh Crono! It’s beautiful! And it smells so…" She didn’t finish the sentence. Instead she walked up to me and gave me a large hug, and a quick peck on the lips. She remained hanging from my neck, her face a few centimeters away from mine.

"You’re so sweet," she said softly and smiled. "I feel like I owe you something," she said coyly.

"You don’t. I’m still paying you back for saving my life. But if you did, now wouldn’t be the time. I have to get us out of here, remember?"

She nodded, then brushed the petals to her nose, sniffing each one separately. She then told me to put it in my waist bag so she wouldn’t lose it. I nodded, then looked about the room.

Zeal, because of its advanced technology, had a different idea of security than other places. The words ‘prison bars’ never occurred to them it. The room was essentially a vault with a round door on on end. The only identifying marks were the entrance’s hinges and a thin space between the wall and the door. There was no window, and the only light was coming from lights on the ceiling.

The ceiling itself was a strange piece of technology. Wheareas everything else was blue metal, the ceiling was made of some type of white plasticky material. I was certain, however, that the blue metal of the cell continued beyond the plastic.

"Stand back Marle, I’m gonna see how magic proof this room is," I told her.

During the battle against Lavos, I quickly invented and mastered what was then the most powerful single attack a human had ever cast. I called it Luminaire. The spell was, in essence, a bomb of lightning. It starts small and near me, then expands, gaining energy as it grows and frying anything it touches. The real damage occurs when it reaches its fullest capacity; it then explodes, sending pure energy in all directions. Confidently, I cast the spell, then watched at the ceiling absorbed it all. I was momentarily stunned. Either I had grown weaker, or King Zeal was far more powerful than Queen Zeal. Nothing the Queen ever possessed could absorb that much power without being destroyed.

Put off by the fact that the walls held me prisoner, I scoured the entire room looking for some type of weakness in the metal. As I came across the back of the room, my hand hit a switch, and a window appeared in the middle of the wall. Frowning, I reached for it but drew my hand back quickly when I felt the hairs on my arm stand on end. I realized grimly that the only thing between the outside and me was an electrical force field, strong enough to severely shock or kill a person. Magic didn’t prevent injuries from things like that. Only slightly discouraged, I returned to the middle of the cell.

"Hey Marle, is it possible to die of boredom? It looks like we’re going to be here for quite a while."

Marle was about to reply, when Dalton’s mocking voice reverberated through our cell.

"Hello inmates and jailbirds! King Zeal is pleased to have me announce that you five are going to be executed in four days. For you annoyance, I set up a timer on your H-ceiling. Once it reaches zero, you…well, you have good reason to be here. Have a horrid day." Dalton laughed smugly.

"H-ceiling? What the hell is an H-ceiling?" I asked.

Dalton’s voice sounded again.

"Holographic ceiling. Don’t even think about trying to destroy it though, it’s made of something far stronger than even the Epoch’s tough shell. By the way, what happened to the ‘Air Dalton Imperial’?" He asked. The ‘Air Dalton Imperial’ was Dalton’s name for the Epoch when he had stolen it from Marle and Lucca. It was then that he had added the wings.

"Fine and safe thank you. You know, we really owe you one? The Epoch hasn’t looked better since you added the wings," I taunted.

No more reply came. I settled back down, feeling I had won the battle but lost the war. Seeing nothing else to do, I sat on my bed. I tried replaying the events of the past few days as an attempt to find what I had dreamed about. I narrowed the possibilities to two places. One in the Avengers hideout, and one back in Udrin. I decided to relax and let my mind work on it some more. But now and even bigger question came into my head. How are we going to get out of here? We had escaped from the cells of the Zeal Palace back on Earth, but these seemed too much for even a master escape artist.

My mind forgot about my mystery and focused on escape. I though of several ways I could escape, but none of them would work. A person would die if he went through the windows, and the door was too thick, too strong to penetrate. The ceiling was too high up for me to reach, even if I could stand on Marle’s shoulders. I thought back to the detective novels and stories I had consumed as a kid. The criminal almost always escaped when the guard brought the food to the prisoner. It seemed like a good idea, but I still needed to know how they food was brought in.

"Hey Marle, how do they feed us here?"

"We just ate and already you’re hungry?"

"Well, if you didn’t notice, the food wasn’t exactly quality. But seriously, how do they bring in the food?"

"I don’t know," she replied coolly.

"What do you mean, you don’t know? You’ve been here for about two days, they must be feeding you."

Marle gave me her "I’m playfully withholding information from you because it’s fun" look, then lay down on her stomache on her bunk, her head resting on her arms.

It was a game she played every time she was in a joking mood. I had to find some way to press her for information, and she’d usually get something good out of it. I walked over and placed my hands on her shoulders.

"Mmm…I’ve trained you well."

"Hey, I get just as much pleasure out of it as you do."

I began massaging her shoulders and made my way down to her lower back. As I was working my way back up, she spoke.

"They gas the room with something that knocks me out, then someone comes in with the food and takes away the old plates."

"Excuse me?"

"You wanted to know how they brought the food in, right? Well, they gas the room and replace the old plates with new ones."

"Thanks. I owe you one." I bent down and kissed her on the cheek. Before I could stand completely upright, she had flipped over, wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me back. I savored the special feeling, telling myself it would have to wait. We separated almost against our will. I looked around, then glanced back down at Marle.

"Crono, you’ve got that look on your face," Marle said.

"I know. The only problem is that they probably have video cameras here."

"Then we’ll both have to settle for something less than what’s on your mind."

"Think of it as a teaser."

We fell asleep in each other’s arms.

* * *

I woke up with a start. My intuition told me something was wrong. I look up and saw small nozzles poking out of the plastic. They were leaking some type of green gas. It was sinking quickly and some of it had begun to form on the floor.

"Feeding time," I whispered to myself. I crouched down on the cold metallic ground, and waited until I could smell the fumes. I positioned myself so that I was facing away from the door, then pulled a bandana from my pocket and placed it over my nose and mouth, taking short breaths so that I wouldn’t inhale the gas. Hoping the bandana was thick enough, I pretended to be asleep.

A full minute passed before I heard the porthole start to open. By then, I had inhaled a bit of the gas. I was holding by breath longer and longer, and I could feel my lungs start burning. I focused my concentration inwards, slowing my breathing a bit, but not enough to make a difference. Thankfully, my feeder came into the room. As he passed by me, I caught glimpses of a gas mask. I decided that if I were to have any advantage over him, I would have to go for that.

"3…2…1," I thought to myself.

I quickly got up off the floor, and my heart rate sped up again. I could feel by lungs burning with an unimaginable fire. I was using every once of willpower to resist breathing, and to rip the mask off the guard. Luckily, I caught the man unawares, and delivered a quick punch to his chest, right below his ribcage. He doubled over, dropping the food. I ripped his mask off and took a deep, thankful breath. I was about to put it on me completely when I felt his fist in my stomach. I took the blow, although I was winded. The man kept punching me in the stomach, and I couldn’t keep my lungs from holding air any longer. I gulped air in quickly, and felt the first strong effects of the gas. I began to sink to my knees. The man thought I was going to collapse any moment, and stopped punching only to grab the mask. I took the advantage. Lifting my knee, I slammed it into the soft area between the legs. He gasped and sank down slowly, unwilling to keep up the fight. In the time it took him collapse, I had had the mask on. I bent down and checked to see if he was alive. Barely. I gulped in the fresh air from the mask gratefully, then put it on completely. Then I set about looking for the keys to the other cells. When I found them, I thanked the man silently and walked outside to free Lucca and Cid. Even though I expected it, I was annoyed to discover that they were out like lights. Apparently, their guard had already come and left their food. As I lent down to examine Lucca, a flower fell out of my waist bag. It was the first flower I had picked in the first Landgate. It seemed that I had my waist bag was open since I met Marle. I bent down to pick up the beautiful flower, and the instant I touched the fragile stem, I pulled my hand back in fright. The flower was burning hot! As I comforted my injured fingers, I saw a strange thing happen. When I had dropped the flower, a fine green dust fell all over the ground, spreading across the floor and covering my friends. Their bodies started glowing a dull green as I watched in confusion and bemusement. I turned around and saw the dust had spread to the air inside the cell. Even though the dust spread quickly, it didn’t exit the door; it only hovered a few centimeters away from the exit.

"Mmmm…Oh, my," I heard Lucca say.

I whirled around to see Lucca sitting upright and rubbing her head. She glanced at me, then grabbed for her glasses.

"Eeeeeek! Cid! Help!" Lucca screeched.

"Mmm…who? Wha…? Who are you?" Cid looked at me misty-eyed.

I slowly took off the mask and revealed my face to them.

"The rescue party’s here. Now, where is our stuff?" I grinned wildly.

"Crono! Boy am I happy to see you!" Lucca ran up to me and gave me a big hug.

"Crono…thanks. I owe you one," Cid said slowly.

I looked over Cid’s shoulder and saw the flower. It had shriveled up and become an ugly withered brown remnant of the beautiful flower it once was.

"Crono, how’d you wake us up? We calculated that the gas should keep us out for four hours straight."

"…I…don’t know. I think that flower did it," I replied; my mind was still thinking about how the flower did it.

"What flower. Show it to me," Lucca commanded.

I pulled another flower out of my waist bag and handed it to Lucca. She examined it closely, then out of her pocket, she removed a small vial of a dull blue liquid. She carefully put a drop of the liquid on the flower, and it started glowing faintly. She moved the flower over to the exit, where the dust still hung in the air. The glowing flower suddenly erupted in color. Lucca held the flower away from her body, then slowly brought it closer. She sniffed it carefully, then nodded.

"Cid, what do you think of this?" Lucca handed the flower to Cid.

Cid sniffed the blossom, and a look of surprise came over his face.

"It smells just like that gas, except…" he sniffed it again "except it smells…better? More wholesome?"

Lucca nodded. "That flower is what the gas is made from. But the dust from this flower is a non-habit-forming upper, while the gas is a downer. Zealian scientists probably changed it around."

"Figures. Just like Zeal to corrupt nature," I said gravely, then in a more cheerful tone, I added, "Let’s go get Marle and our equipment."

We carefully sneaked back into my cell and woke Marle up using the last crimson flower I had picked up in the first Landgate. Then, one by one, we explored the surrounding area for a way to go to the holding cell, where our stuff was.

Our cells, we found out, were in a circle around a central shaft that led from the prisons to the other floors and, presumably, to where our weapons were. Once we found the elevator, it was simply a matter of finding which floor. The bottom and top floors were out of the question; universally, top floors are for decision makers and bottom floors are for storage, so we limited our search to the floors in between. The first few floors we came upon were normal prisoner cells, and it seemed that the entire building was a detainment center, separate from the main Palace. The third floor we stopped at was different. It was a torture chamber. And tied to a rack was a child no older than fourteen. There was a guard on each end of the rack and one was rotating the crank while the other was laughing menacingly. I thought they must have just begain, because the kid seemed not to be resisting. Obviously enough, and yet to my great annoyance, the guards noticed us.

"Hey you! What do you think you’re doing here?" One shouted. The guard withdrew his mace and his companion took out his broadsword.

"We’re gonna make mincemeat out of you. Say your prayers," the first guard taunted.

Even though we had no weapons, we still had magic, and powerful magic at that.

We spread out in a line, with Marle and Lucca in the center, and Cid and me on the outsides. The two guards were side by side, leaving them prone to one of our deadliest attacks.

"Lucca! Marle! Delta Force!" I yelled.

At once, Lucca, Marle and I formed a triangle around the guards and started to cast our respective magics. But instead of focusing our magic on one target, we "spread out" our magic power so that it encompassed the area between us three. Suddenly, the guards’ armor turned red and began to melt, but not before electricity, aided by the metal, coursed through the metal and fired every inch of skin and flesh. And to finish it off, the guards were subject to an ice aura, the purest form of ice. After the ice had died away, one of the guards collapsed on the floor. The other guard was a whole lot tougher however, and despite the fact that he looked like he’d been through a war, he cast one of his own spells.

Magic, as some people know, is split up into two groups. One is called "physical magic" and the other is called "true magic". True magic is separated into five categories, fire, ice, lightning, water, and shadow. There are also some forms of magic, like control or curative magic, that do not belong to any specific category. On average, true magic will not vary much between two people of the same category of magic. Physical magic, however, can and will vary greatly from person to person. The only thing the two forms have in common is that both types of magic use up mana. The spell that the guard had just cast was a physical magic attack. He uttered a spell and for a second, he seemed to glow. I blinked, and when I opened my eyes, I saw the sword, not him, but his sword, flying towards me with deadly intent. I moved out of the way as quickly as I could, but the sword cut a deep gash in my arm.

"Gyaaaaa!" I screamed in pain.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the sword slash Cid, Lucca, and Marle as well. The weapon hadn’t even returned when he cast lightning2, a powerful lightning spell.

There is nothing as physically painful, for every second that it lasts, than being electrocuted. Luckily, I was no stranger to pain. I focused inward, blocking out the pain and casting a spell of my own: Luminaire. The guard, caught unawares in the middle of a spell, disintegrated.

I stared grimly at his remains, then felt the pain in my arm return with a vengeance. Blood from the wound soaked through my tunic, and I could feel it begin to trickle down my arm.

"Marle, if you please?" I turned to Marle, who instantly cast a healing spell on me. I felt my wound closing and the strangely sickening feeling of blood vessels reconnecting. I noticed Marle had already healed herself. I was about to ask Marle if she could do the same on Cid and Lucca, but I noticed there was no need; Cid, surprisingly, had already healed himself and Lucca.

I walked over to the kid on the rack, and cut him loose. He immediately jumped off and rubbed his wrists. Marle, Cid, and Lucca followed me.

"Thanks mister. I owe you one. What’s your name?"

"Crono. And this is Marle, Lucca, and Cid," I responded. "What’s yours?"

"I’m Ecin. You know, you’re really good with magic," he told me.

"Thanks." I wanted to keep the conversation going, but my mind was blanking.

"I know a bit of magic too. I’ll show you if you’ll give me an ether-plant," he said.

An ether-plant was a type of plant that renews mana. I nodded and gave it to him. Three seconds later, even though he had not moved a muscle, he was holding my waist bag.

"How the…?" I asked, confused.

"Easily. Look over there." Ecin pointed towards the far end of the room. When I looked, I saw Ecin waving back at me. I blinked and rubbed my eyes, then looked again. Instead of waving, he was dancing. I looked back at the real Ecin. His smile was stretched from ear to ear. He handed back my waist pack.

"That’s impressive. I’ve never seen an illusion magic before," I said.

"You’re pretty good, for a kid. What’s your base magic?" Lucca asked. Lucca always had a weird sense of friendship. Being a scientist, Lucca tended to mistake insults for jokes and vice versa. Unfortunately, Ecin didn’t know that.

"Water. What’s yours, four eyes?" Ecin told her.

"Fire," Lucca replied, frowning.

"Looks like we’re opposites," Ecin began. Lucca responded, but I didn’t hear because Marle had whispered something in my ear.

"Um…Crono, can I talk to you?" Marle asked.


Marle and I walked a few yards away, then whirled around and faced me.

"Crono, I have a bad feeling about this place. My pendant doesn’t work. I feel bad auras all over the place. When I close my eyes, I can feel a presence worse than Lavos here. Somewhere. It knows we’re here. It knows you, Crono. It’s after you. And it really wants to hurt you. It’s here…somewhere," she told me. He voice was shaking and I could sense the fear in the way that she spoke.

"Are you sure the pendant isn’t working? I mean, we’re close to a Mammon Machine."

Marle’s pendant was an artifact that saved the world. It was the key to an ancient riddle, and it opened the way for us to master Time itself. The pendant was of Zealian origin, created from a flame-red rock called a Dreamstone. It was a diamond-shaped crystal, and it was always glowing warmly and softly. The pendant was originally powered by energy drained from Lavos, but it recharged itself using solar energy.

"I’m sure Crono. See? It’s not even glowing." Marle had calmed down a bit.

I looked down at the pendant hanging from its indestructible chain. The pendant had lost its glow. I picked it up and looked at it more closely. Not even a sparkle came from it.

"I don’t like this…this never happened before, even when we were fighting Lavos."

Marle simply nodded. I was about to tell her something else when Cid interrupted.

"Hey Crono, I’ve got news. Ecin is gonna come with us."

I was about to object when I remembered another headstrong, redheaded kid who was just as eager to take on the world as this one was. I remembered me. A large smile spread over my face as I remembered the times I had. Marle noticed my reverie and winked at me. I nodded a barely noticeable nod and gave the wink to Lucca. She grinned outright and she completed the circle. We were the Delta Force, so dubbed by Spekio, master of War.

"Welcome aboard Ecin. What’re your weapons?"

Wordlessly, soundlessly, and quickly, Ecin withdrew twin daggers from his boots and twirled them around his fingers, then gripped them by the hilt.

"Daggers. The guards were too dimwitted to find them." He grinned mischievously.

I laughed wholeheartedly. I knew I was going to like this kid.

"Hey Ecin, do you know where the weapons are? And the Mammon Machine?"

"The weapons are a floor below us in the storage area, and I have no idea what a Mammon machine is anyway."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Same reason I was in that rack. I was dared to sneak into the Palace. I began exploring a bit, then sorta got lost. Just my bad luck that I got found by those two idiots.

He nodded slowly, and I motioned for him to lead us there. Using his powers of deception and illusion, he managed to maneuver us away from guards and other potential threats. When we reached the storage cell, I was shocked to see how many weapons were actually stored there. I could see literally hundreds of swords, lances, daggers, arrows, bows, and assorted weapons and armors on the ground and hanging from hooks. There was no order to the chaos; some weapons were even strewn on the ground. There were also several weapons placed on pedestals, which I figured were special weapons like my Rainbow Sword and Cid’s Prism Blade. Neither of those was on a pedestal though.

I looked around for my sword and in the process, I found Lucca’s Wondershot and Marle’s Valkyrie, a crossbow of extreme power. As I sifted through rack after rack of armament, I finally caught a glimpse of my sword. I pulled it out with excitement, but my heart fell; it was Cid’s Blade, not my sword. I handed it to Cid, who immediately sheathed it. Now, the entire group was looking for my sword.

As I neared one of the pedestals on which sat two diamond-encrusted ivory and ebony handled long daggers, I saw my sword, hidden behind a giant shield. I grabbed it quickly, then sheathed it, and turned to look at the twin daggers. The handles seemed to bend and refract light, and the blades themselves looked as if they were made from unearthly metal.

"Hey Ecin, you might want to see this," I called out.

He rushed over, then gasped in awe. His hand snaked towards the two daggers, but he immediately drew them back.

"Do you know what these are? They are ancient weapons that my dad used to tell me about. This one…" he pointed to the one on the left "if I remember right, is Lacer. And this one is Eviscer. They were supposed to have vanished ages ago, but they were here all along," Ecin cooed excitedly over the two daggers. He looked at me as if asking permission to take them. I nodded quickly. I knew he wouldn’t have been able to keep his hands off of them anyway.

"Does everybody have his or her weapons?" I asked. Everyone nodded.

"Then let’s go! Cid, did Klab tell you where the Mammon Machine is kept?"

"No. But he did talk about seeing one being built down in the research and development part of this palace. If I can remember correctly, that was at the very bottom of this building thing."

"Well, the, let’s go. Ecin, we’ll need you again."

"No prob. Follow me!" Ecin shouted with enthusiasm.

We all followed Ecin out of the room and to the elevator. We filed inside and Ecin pushed the button for the lowest floor. The elevator dropped down quickly to the lowest level, but the doors didn’t open.

"ACCESS CODE REQUIRED," a monotonous mechanical voice announced.

"Access code? We need an access code?" I spoke my thoughts out loud.

"Of course silly. Why would they allow anyone to get into the development department?" Marle joked.

"Y’know, I think I can override the system," Ecin told me.

"Great! I’ll help," Lucca offered.

Together, they worked in the cramped space connecting loose wires and disconnecting closed circuit. Eventually, they worked the possible access codes down to two.

"Ok, it’s either this weird button right here," Lucca pointed to a square button that had a Z with a line through it, but the Z was backwards and tilted so that the ends of the Z were pointed upwards. "And hold it for a few seconds, then press it again at the same time as this one." Lucca pointed to another one that seemed to have a design of an eye in the middle of a square.

"Or, you could push this combination," Ecin pointed to a button with a circle and crosshairs, then pointed to two buttons; the Z button and another button that was simply a squiggly line.

"We’re not sure which one will do what. We can try both, but the odds are that one will set off an alarm. Anyone have a coin?" Ecin smirked.

"Hmm…this is where probability theory fails miserably," Cid said.

"Agreed," Lucca said. "Of course, the only scientific way to deal with probability is using probability itself. We’ll need an event that has an equal probabililty of ending up exactly two ways.

Ecin gave her a weird look.

"That was just a fancy way of saying, ‘let’s flip a coin,’ right? Why waste all that breath?"

"Geez, you are smart. Here’s another brain teaser for you. Do you have a coin? Now, think very carefully, ‘cause it could be a trick question."

Ecin glared at her, then pulled a small silvery piece of metal out of his pocket.

"Heads it’s my way, tails it’s your way," he said as he positioned the coin on his finger and flipped it. It landed heads.

"Ok, so let’s push your buttons," Lucca said.

"You’re already doing that," Ecin quipped.

Lucca shot him an evil look, then said, "I meant, let’s press your buttons."

"That’s better," Ecin said as he handed Lucca the control panel. After a moment’s hesitation, she pushed the button. Immediately, the door slid open with a hiss and I gazed in awe as I saw the rows of mechanical doohickeys with their flashing lights and their addictive beeping noises.

"See? You have to fight probability with probability," Cid said, laughing.

I laughed with him as I stepped into the room. The air had an electric quality that seemed to fill me with malicious energy. I knew the Mammon Machine was nearby. The room also smelled of lack of use and, strangely, of dust.

The room was a bit stuffy, with no windows and no other exits but the elevator. I walked up to a console and pressed a button. The computer obviously didn’t like the command because it beeped rudely at me. I’ve never been one for computers.

"Oh yeah? Well, take this!" I yelled, half in jest and half seriously, and kicked the computer. It whined and I heard several mechanical parts whirring around inside. Suddenly, the screen lit up with millions of ones and zeroes, all flying past me on the black and white screen. They stopped suddenly, and then the screen displayed the words ‘Starting Doors v.4.7.2’. It then flashed quickly, then a diagram of the floor we were on appeared.

"Hey Lucca! Come here! This is more of your area of expertise than mine," I yelled to her. Cid, Ecin, and Marle heard me as well and rushed over.

As Lucca strode casually up to the console, I tapped a few buttons. Although I don’t like computers much, I know, to a certain extent, how to use them. In response to my command, a diagram of the room we were in appeared on the screen. I tapped a few more buttons and the screen showed a picture of me tapping buttons.

"What’s up?" She asked before she glanced at the screen.

"Look! It’s the control for a security system," I exclaimed. I moved away so that she could control it more easily.

"Hmmm…. Ok, let’s try this," Lucca mumbled. She pressed a button and the screen switched back to the diagram of the room. She tapped the button once more and the screen moved back to the original display, the diagram of the entire building we were on.

"All right, let’s get it to search for a Mammon Machine," Lucca was talking to herself again. It didn’t seem to bother me as much as it used to.

"What’s it say?" I asked impatiently.

"Give it a second…there. Done. It says there are four Mammon Machines."

"Four! I thought there was one! Where are the other three?" I asked.

"Let me check…. Damn it! There are two here, but one’s already on its way to the Terra-Fortress!"

"What about the one most recently constructed?" Cid asked.

Lucca tapped a few more buttons, then said, "It’s still here. I’ll try to find it." She paused for a second, then started talking to herself again. "Let’s expand the search to Mammon Machines constructed within the past few months."

Silent seconds past, the only sound being the humming from the machine as we all held our breaths. The seconds turned to minutes and the thing seemed to be frozen.

"Darn it. Must be faulty software. We’ll have to restart the computer. Help me find a reset button or something."

I decided then and there that Doors v.4.7.2 was a bad version of doors. I pursed my lips and helped Lucca look for the reset switch. Once we found it and pressed it, the screen went black, and six zeros appeared on the screen. I watched as the numbers counted up to 128000 quickly three times, then the screen went black again. A few seconds later, millions of binary numbers filled the screen like the first time. The words of announcement appeared, then the screen flashed and the blueprints of the floor we were on appeared again.

"Ok, let’s try this once more," Lucca told us, as she started mumbling under her breath. "Search: Mammon Machine…advanced: production/design…date: within last month…there." She turned to us again. "Ok guys, cross your fingers."

"Why are we supposed to cross our fingers? Isn’t it a bit awkward working with fingers crossed?" Cid asked.

Lucca looked bewildered for a second, then a slight grin appeared on her tan face.

"I should have known. Our cultures evolved differently. We cross our fingers if we want luck."

"Ah, I see. Well then…good luck," Cid said.

Lucca smiled nervously, then looked at me and Marle. We nodded reassuringly, and she pushed the button. Immediately, the screen turned red and the words ‘warning’ flashed across the screen. Lucca pushed another button and the cause of the warning appeared.

"Warning, you are accessing top secret information. Security systems on full alert. Any attempt to change settings will be logged and dealt with immediately. Press any key to continue, press escape to stop," I read aloud. I saw Lucca’s hand snake towards a key and press it. The screen switched back to the diagram of the room we were in but with one change. In the center of the huge room, instead of just plain metal floor, the diagram showed a machine of enormous size. The thing was only named M.M. and I realized the new version of the Mammon Machine was in the room with us.

"Lucca, see if you can get the schematics on the Machine," I ordered.

Lucca tapped a few buttons and the computer hummed and whined, then the screen went blank.

"What! No! This can’t be happening! I did something against the programming!" Lucca yelled in anguish then brought her fists down on the keyboard. The computer beeped loudly, setting all the other computers in the room beeping. I watched in horror as all the other computers shut down one after the other. Soon, the only light in the room was the fluorescent glow from the bulbs on the ceiling. I looked around the room nervously, all my senses telling me something was wrong. A second later, the ceiling lights flickered off. We were in complete darkness. I heard a machine click and whir, followed by the sound of cloth or tarpaulin being dragged over metal. Suddenly, in the center of the room and five meters up, two small red circular lights, about a foot apart, blazed into existence. Two more lights, both a brilliant white this time, flared up about two and a half feet lower and about the same distance again further out on either side. Both sets of lights turned their attention on us. Once they focused, the rest of the lights on the machine flared up.

From the outline of the lights, I could see it was humanoid in shape, but a whole lot bigger. The face was metallic and expressionless, with a small slit for a mouth. The two red lights were its eyes, and the two bright white lights were embedded in its shoulders. As the final light came on in its torso, I could see a glowing red rock about the size of my head suspended in midair behind a sheet of what looked like a clear version of the plastic in the H-ceiling. The beast threw its arms up in the air and the lights came back on. I gasped in horror and heard Lucca and Marle gasp with me as we both recognized what this thing was.

It looked like a gigantic metal human, except it had a Dreamstone floating in its belly. Two huge cannon-like guns were posted on its forearms, extending past the triple fingers on each hand. Two cannons, one on each shoulder, swung their barrels to look at us, the gaping holes seeming like the eyes of Death himself. The Machine had no feet, but the body was seated on a platform under which two huge tank treads were placed. It looked like a mechanical version of Lavos.

"Crono…" Marle’s voice shook.

"Crono…" Lucca echoed the same fear.

Ecin and Cid stepped back slowly so that they were a bit behind us, and suddenly I heard Cid ask the fated question.

"Crono, what the heck is that?"

"Second to Lavos itself, this is the Nightmare. The improved Mammon Machine."


Chapter 13

Chrono Trigger Fanfic