Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 13

The Mammon Machine

By Crono_12

I had only heard of this version once when I was in Zeal. The Queen wanted it produced for the Undersea Palace, but Balthasar, the designer of the Epoch, the Blackbird, and of parts of the original Mammon Machine, denied the request. The King must have found out about the design somehow because this was exactly how the original was planned; as opposed to the original Machine, this version was built as a weapon. Fortunately, this one looked as if I were waiting for some type of command.

"Look! The cannons on the shoulders haven’t stopped moving! They can’t decide which one of us triggered the alarm. Crono, I don’t think it’s complete yet!" Lucca said.

"Crono, the book you read on this didn’t happen to tell you any of it’s weaknesses, did it?" Marle asked.

"Yeah, it did. Do you happen to have a huge wrench? Hmm…I remember that it’s got a mean tetra-elemental force-field around it."

"So how do we get at it?" Ecin asked.

"By using and anti-elemental object. Or…."

"My Prism Blade or your Rainbow Sword!" Cid finished for me.

I nodded, then continued. "But, that thing is faster than two of us. If any of us come any closer, it’ll probably attack."

Ecin cleared his throat. "Well, among my many skills is the propelling through the air of blunt or sharp objects, or in layman’s terms, throwing stuff."

"So, the kid finally knows something besides navigation," Lucca joked. Marle giggled quietly.

"Very funny four eyes. Here Crono, give me your sword and I’ll throw where you want me to."

"Crono, Ecin, wait until the guns have stopped looking at you. They’ve been cycling for the past minute. If you wait, the Machine won’t see the sword until too late," Lucca said.

I followed her advice and handed him my sword after the guns had looked elsewhere. Ecin as well followed Lucca’s caveat, taking aim after two or three cycles. Once he got the timing, he threw my sword with all his might. There was a sparkle of energy as the sword passed through the tetra elemental barrier and into the Machine’s head. The sword turned an electric blue instead of its normal rainbow color. The Beast’s arms fell to its side with a clank, prompting another lighting failure. I heard the sword fall out, then shouted for everyone to get as close as possible to the machine. We all scurried blindly trying to get to the automaton before it repaired itself. I reached the Plexiglas and hugged it, afraid that I would be subject to a deep freeze, an electric shock, a drenching bath, and a hot blaze, all part of the tetra-elemental force field.

"Hey! Is everybody here?" I whispered urgently as I picked up my fallen blade carefully. In reply, I heard only three replies, Lucca, Marle, and Cid.

"Where’s Ecin?" I whispered a bit louder.

"I’m here. I tripped over my laces when I started running and I skid right under the treads. I’ve got a skid burn that runs across my entire arm, but otherwise, I’m ok," he replied, a bit of pain in his voice.

I relaxed for a second, but tensed up again once I felt the hum of the machine under me. The lights flared back up, and the head swiveled around looking for a target. Fortunately, it didn’t look down. That is, until Ecin sneezed.

"Ecin you doofus! How come you gotta sneeze now!" I heard Lucca almost yell at Ecin.

"Sorry, there’s too much dust down here. Hope nothing went wrong up there."

The machine looked down, then I heard a mechanical grinding, and the guns retracted back into its now double sized arms. It brought its arms down and around, one in front and one in back, to hug us closely to its body, preventing all escape. I heard another mechanical hum, and then the air glimmered purple.

"Oh no. Not this. Please not this," I spoke out loud.

"What’s going on? Crono, what’s happening?" Cid called out.

"The Mammon Machines, both old and new versions, are able to fight on two levels. If it’s beaten on one level, it goes to another. We defeated it on the physical level, now we go onto the metaphysical, which takes place sort of inside the Machine. So basically, we’re fighting it in our minds," Lucca answered instead of me.

"Great. Just great. I have a date with the hottest girl in my town and I’m going to have to cancel because I might die within the next few hours. Why me?" Ecin complained.

"I’ve been in worst positions before. Don’t worry, we’ll be all right," I reassured.

Suddenly, the world twisted cruelly around me, the colors streaking and blending together to create a world misshapen and dizzying. When the world sickeningly snapped back to something my senses could accept without putting up a fight, I glanced around, wondering where the Machine had taken us.

The Mammon Machine had put some distance between it and us. It had also changed shape, and instead of a machine, I now saw a conical organic being, the point of the cone pointing donward, made up of solid muscle, pulsating with ugly and undeserved life. It oozed mucus and sweat from its numerous pores. Two large, silver-black eyes, if they could be called eyes, sat illogically on the top of the organic cone. I backed away from it, taken aback from the sight, even though I had seen something similar to it once before.

"Oh my. It…reeks of evil…." Cid staggered back.

"Crono…this is why I can’t feel my pendant! It’s amplifying Lavos’s power to an impossible degree…." Marle collapsed suddenly.

"This isn’t good. I can smell the evil radiating from it…or is that puss? I can’t tell the difference," Ecin warned.

I didn’t pay attention to him as I rushed to Marle.

"Marle! Are you all right? Marle!" I shook her softly, then when she didn’t get up I shook her harder.

"Crono…. He’s using the pendant against me…take it; He’s wary about you," she whispered. I didn’t ask who ‘he’ was. I removed the pendant, expecting it to be extremely light as it usually was. But when I picked it up, I found that it weight as much as a gold nugget of equal size. Because we were fighting in our minds, belief and will made an enourmous difference. The Machine could affect willpower, and since Marle already thought the pendant was heavy, the Machine amplified that belief. I looked down at Marle and was happy to see she had recovered enough to sit up.

"It’s heavier than usual. I see what you mean. C’mon, we have a Machine to destroy and a Palace to escape from."

I helped her up and looked back at the rest of them. Lucca was aiming her gun at the Machine and waiting for my signal. Cid and Ecin were a bit closer, but staying out of range of the four huge tentacles that had appeared from the metaphysical monster.

"Where’d those tentacles come from? Lucca, do you remember any tentacles when we fought the last one?" Lucca shook her head. I shrugged, then turned to the rest of them. "You guys ready?" They all nodded. "Then we’ve got a job to do," I shouted.

I pulled out my sword and held it, blade up, in front of me. I slashed the air a few times for practice, then took my battle stance.

"One shall stand…one shall fall. The black wind will carry you away…" I wasn’t talking by myself; I was channeling all the auras from all my friends, another advantage of a world in one’s own mind. The incarnation seemed to talk back to me.

"The black wind calls for you Crono…this is your final resting place."

We didn’t give each other any more time to prepare. Its tentacles flew towards me, aiming for me in particular. Marle intercepted one, freezing it in a block of ice. I darted between the rest, hacking repeatedly at the flesh. Lucca saw the opportunity and cast a spell. Instantly, a bridge of fire formed between her and me and I spun myself around, eviscerating the Beast. It screamed in pain and anguish and brought its free tentacles around to grab me. I managed to cut one off, but it grew back and grabbed me. The tentacle gripped tighter and tighter, trying to squeeze the life out of me. Trying to balance speed and my life, I carefully but quickly cut at the tentacle, freeing myself. It grew back, but I had scrambled out of its reach. I looked back and saw the damage I had done. Even though my attack would normally kill most creatures and beasts, I wasn’t dealing with anything normal. I had done some damage, but not enough to slow it down or cripple it. But then again, I didn’t expect to.

I fell back a bit to catch my breath, then got closer. Meanwhile, I saw Ecin take aim with one of his newly acquired knives and throw it. The knife spun like a discus and stuck like a dart in the creature. The thing was outraged, and picked the knife out of itself, then copied Ecin and threw it ungracefully back at him. He dodged and it landed somewhere behind him. He retrieved it and stood back a bit. I ran up to him urgently.

"Hey Ecin, back on Earth…" I started.

"What’s Earth?" He interrupted.

"Forget that. Where I come from, one of my friends and I can execute a certain attack. He’s got water magic too, so listen up." I explained the maneuver to Ecin, and a small grin appeared on his face.

"Remember, on my signal, only," I warned. He nodded, then joined Cid in the foreground.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Cid had attracted the vengeance of all four tentacles.

"Lucca! When I slice them, you flame ‘em!" He yelled while fending off tentacles with his sword. He slashed at one, haking off a piece. Lucca immediately flamed the appendage, stopping the regeneration. The beast let out a ferocious screech and pulled the tentacle back in close to its eyes. If it were human, I could swear that it would be cursing and holding its appendage in pain.

"Ecin, nevermind. Cid’s got a better idea. C’mon guys, we know how to disable it, so let’s get to it!" I shouted.

During the next few minutes, Cid and I were either distracting the tentacles from the other, or cutting them until Lucca was able to cauterize them. Within five minutes, we were able to completely stop it from threatening us. All four tentacles were burned down to a stump. The creature looked as if it had given up, so I told everybody they could rest up. We sat a good distance from the beast, looking at it with disgust.

"I can’t see why you guys are afraid of this thing. I’ve fought weeds in Klab’s backyard that were tougher than this." Cid was stretched out on the ethereal floor.

"I don’t know why it didn’t put up too much of a fight. Maybe it’s not complete on this level either. There’s something weird about this entire thing. And this pendant isn’t helping either," I told Cid.

"What’s with that pendant anyway? Why are you wearing it? I thought it was hers?" Ecin changed the subject.

"This pendant is actually an artifact from Zeal back on Earth. It belongs to Marle, but she gave it to me for safekeeping after some…weird events. Anyway, it seems that this pendant increases a person’s psychic abilities. The pendant also is connected to anything made from a certain red stone called the Dreamstone. That was the thing inside the Mammon Machines stomach by the way. If it’s made of the Dreamstone, or has the Dreamstone’s aura around it, the pendant will react to it. Right now, it should be glowing brightly, but it only feels heavier than normal right now. The Machine is having some weird effect on the pendant, which is why I’m wearing it now instead of Marle," I explained.

"Do we have to call it a machine now? I mean, right now it’s made of skin and muscle and flesh." Ecin asked.

"No Ecin, you don’t. But, that’s actually what it is. That thing you see over there is not the Machine, but a representation of the Machine in flesh," Lucca answered instead of me. I nodded at her thankfully; science was never my strong point.

"Hey Ecin, where…Crono! The pendant! Look at the pendant!" Marle almost yelled at me. I looked down and saw the pendant twinkling brightly. I took it off in amazement.

"What the heck!" I exclaimed as a beam of energy shot out of the pendant and hit the Mammon Machine. The beast let out an unearthly scream and the light from the pendant ceased.

"Let’s go check out what happened," I yelled as I ran up to the creature.

I approached it cautiously, but it looked dead, so I motioned for everybody to come closer. I had a feeling that all was not what it seemed.

"Marle, Lucca, what do you think. Is it dead?" I asked.

"Looks like it. Here, give me the pendant and I’ll find out," Marle said.

I handed her the pendant and she put it around her neck. Marle closed her eyes and put three fingers from each hand on the sides of her face. The pendant started glowing softly, it’s light emitting a barely noticeable smile of sorts.

"It’s not…no wait…it’s dead…but I can feel it breathing? This isn’t right…" Marle shut her eyes even tighter then moved her fingers into different positions.

"There…it’s alive, planning something…I can almost see what it’s thinking…it saw me! It knows I’m here. Run!" Marle appeared to be fighting something inside her head. Suddenly, the pendant stopped glowing, and Marle took her hands away from her temples.

"Crono! It’s coming! It’s gonna…" Marle was cut off by a swishing sound. I turned around to see that four new tentacles had sprouted from the creature. They had grabbed Cid, Ecin, and Lucca, but, thanks to Marle’s warning, had missed her and me. The creature raised my friends over its conical body and a hole in the metaphysical environment appeared. The thing tossed all three into the hole and they disappeared. It moved towards us quickly, tentacles firing at us.

"I couldn’t warn you in time! This one is different than the prototype. It can only be defeated with a shard of the Dreamstone. Otherwise, it’ll keep regenerating," Marle shouted as we ran out of range of the tentacles.

"Great! We’ll just go back to Earth and pick up the Masamune," I told her, still running.

"No need. We have a shard right here." Marle held up her pendant.

"No way am I gonna use the pendant against that thing."

"We can’t beat it any other way! Remember the original? It took a Dreamstone for us to even get near it!"

"You’re serious. You want to throw our most valued possession at that thing?"

By then, we had put enough distance between the thing and us so that we could stop for a second and think.

"Are you sure about this? We might not get it back."

Marle nodded as she took her pendant off and handed it to me. The Machine, tentacles waving angrily, was only a few hundred yards away and coming in closer.

"Don’t fail me now pendant. Save my life twice," I pleaded with the pendant as I began my throw.

My arm stopped in mid-throw, and I twisted my head to see what happened. A tentacle had stretched around behind me and grabbed my arm. I caught a glimpse of Marle fighting off another tentacle with her crossbow, but she moved out of my field of vision too quickly for me to see any details.

As I reached for my sword, I felt another tentacle wrap around my left arm and pull me upwards. The black hole formed again and the Machine dragged me to it.

"Crono!" I heard Marle shout.

Three meters from the hole I heard the beast scream. Two meters from the hole I felt the tentacle right hand let go of me. One meter from the hole, I fell down. When I hit the ground, I turned to see what happened.

Marle had managed to dodge the other two tentacles, and had taken out her Valkyrie, her crossbow, and fired at the tentacles, stopping them before they came close to her. The Machine, believing her to be more a threat that me, let me go free. I thanked her in my mind, then picked up the pendant and swung it a few times before letting it go towards the Mammon Machine. A second before the pendant hit, it glowed a bright red, engulfing the Beast in the glow. Time as we perceived it slowed down, the pendant moving inch by inch until it hit the Beast and passed through its skin. And then, suddenly, time stopped for us, the world held in suspended animation. The only sign of life, of movement, was the persistent heartbeat that meant the Mammon Machine was in its death throes. The heartbeat quickened, then completely stopped, and the pendant, buried deep within the mammoth, exploded. Suddenly, everything went into double time, and I stood shocked as the blast rushed towards us. As I ran to get Marle out of the blast radius, the entire world seemed to shrink and collapse on itself, lessening the amount of space in which to run away. The explosion and the collapsing world reached me just as Marle and I touched. There was the sound of shattering glass and suddenly I felt the explosion slam me into oblivion and the end of the world.

* * *

I woke up and saw everyone leaning over me.

"Wow. What a blast," I whispered as Cid helped me to my feet.

"The blast knocked us out of that place and back into the real world. And guess what? When I woke up, I found these on the floor beside you." Marle held up two halves of what seemed to be her pendant, each strung on a silver chain.

"Please tell me that isn’t what I think it is," I groaned.

"Yup. The pendant split in half. What’s weird is that they both seem to have the same affect on a person as the original did. The halves are no different than the first one." Lucca took one from Marle and handed it to me. I put it around my neck, grateful that the pendant had survived a little longer, albeit in a different form.

"All right Crono, now, where do we go from here?" Cid asked me. I thought for a second, then replied simply, "We go back to Klab." Cid smiled sheepishly and gave me a look that said, "Why didn’t I think of that?"

"Ecin, lead us to the exit," I commanded, my natural enthusiasm coming back.

"Follow me!" Ecin shouted, presumably happy to leave.

We moved back into the elevator and Ecin pushed the button for the top floor. The elevator moved quickly up to the last level, and we filed out of the lift onto a bridge connecting the detainment center and the Palace, and then into the surprisingly lavish castle.

The bridge opened up into a small, but still beautifully decorated room. Much to our chagrin, however, there were guards posted beside the door we came through. They noticed us before we did and showed their disapproval by beating me with their nightsticks. I staggered forward, tripped over my own feet, and collapsed in a tangle of arms and legs on the ground, dazed, confused, and in a lot of pain. The two guards then turned to Cid, but he blocked both sticks with his sword just in time. Lucca, Ecin and Marle each brought out their weapons, and the fight began. Lucca and Marle fired at the guards from a distance while Ecin, with the aid of his magic, was able to trip, confuse, frustrate, and scare the guards away. I got up just in time to see them scurry away. On adrenaline alone, I caught up to the guards and slashed at both with my sword. The attacks pierced their armors, and cut deep gashes in their chests. They both collapsed unable to breathe.

"Marle, seal their wounds, but make sure they can’t go after us for a while," I ordered. When Marle was finished casting the spells, I turned to Ecin for direction.

"Ecin, let’s go."

"Sorry dude. My memory isn’t that good."

"Great. Ok, we’ll do it military style. I’ll go first and make sure everything is clear, then I’ll motion for the rest of you to follow one by one. If there are no guards, I’ll do this." I waved my hands as if telling them to hurry up. "You can all come at once if you see that. But once I do this" I held out my hands commanding them to stop. "Then you’d all better stop or hide somewhere," I told them. They all nodded and I walked to the door. I opened it slightly and peeked through. I counted six guards, all playing cards in the far corner of the room. I smiled and went back into the room to trade weapons with Marle. Cid insisted on helping and switched weapons with Lucca.

The weapons in hand, we peered through the small crack between the door and the frame and fired. Our first shots hit perfectly, knocking two guards out. The other four guards, in a shower of cards and curses, ran towards our door. Cid and I fired in panic, trying to hit them. Because of lack of experience and because we were panicking, we missed completely. Cid and I ran back, forgetting to hand our weapons back to the girls. The guards burst through the door, maces drawn, heading for us. We tried firing, but, I will admit, my aim was horrible. Cid’s wasn’t much better.

"Cid! Switch on the targeting laser or the crosshairs!" Lucca shouted.

"Once I find them! Until then, you have my sword, use it!" He shouted back, then stop firing to find the targeting accessories.

"Ecin! Marle! Lucca! Surround the guards. They can’t be tougher than the last few," I barked out. In all the confusion, we didn’t switch weapons.

Marle stepped behind one guard and deftly slashed at him, but the sword was too heavy for her and she spun out of control and dropped the sword. It clattered to the far end of the room, emitting a slight glow. As she ran to retrieve it, Cid finally found the crosshairs and fired at the same guard. He convulsed and collapsed, armor clanking on the ground. The other guards came straight for me, and I readied the Valkyrie, but one was too close. He swung and knocked the crossbow from my hand, then readied the mace for a crushing blow to my head. The man brought the mace down, and I closed my eyes one final time in preparation for the pain and the darkness. It didn’t come however, and when I opened my eyes to see what happened, I saw one of Ecin’s daggers in the guard’s throat. I stood up quickly.

"I owe you one Ecin," I thanked him.

"I’d like that in writing…after we’re done of course," he replied smartly.

By then, there was only guard remaining.

"How about surrendering?" I asked him. He spat at me, then brought his arm back to throw his mace. He never made it, a shot from Lucca’s gun striking him in the back. I admire his dedication, but not his intelligence. One doesn’t risk one’s life unless something greater is at stake.

After a stark silence, Marle spoke.

"Here’s your sword." Marle dramaticised lifting the sword, handing it to me as if passing me a barbell. I gave her back her crossbow. Ecin removed his knife from the guard’s back, and surprisingly it was clean.

"Wait a minute, what’s with those knives?" Lucca whined.

"I told you, these are unique knives. They don’t get dirty, they’ll come back to me when I throw ‘em right, and they don’t go dull." Ecin showed off his knives proudly.

With an apology to the dead, we threw the bodies of the guards over the bridge and continued searching for the exit. In the room where the six guards had originally sat, there were four doors. Three were normal doors, probably leading to normal rooms, while one was a giant, silver and gold door, probably leading to some royal meeting room. I avoided it all all costs, entering instead for the door opposite it.

The next room was a courtyard of sorts, except indoors. At this time, no one was in the room, and I hoped our luck would last. The next room was the one we were looking for. We all strode toward the door, happy to have finally escaped.

"Guys, hold on a second. There’s something about this I don’t like. Why’s the exit so close to the prison? And why aren’t there any more guards?" Cid wondered aloud. He had just finished speaking when the door leading outside slammed shut. We all spun around, surprised.

"Alert. Alert. Hackers have crossed security beam A001. All units move to intercept."

"I was right! It’s a trap!" Cid said. We backtracked to the first room, running all the way.

"That’s strange. That voice said ‘hackers,’ not ‘prisoners.’ How much do you wanna bet that the security system we enabled back there is the cause of this?"

"I’d bet my next invention. If we can find a terminal, I’ll probably be able to fix it," Lucca told me.

We spent the next hour avoiding guards altogether. At first, there seemed to be a soldier or a guard ever other room, and waiting for them often mean running into another, who suffered the misfortune of meeting all four of us at our edgiest. As time passed, the guards seemed to lose interest in finding us and gain interest in playing various different card games, making our job a whole lot easier. By the time we found an open terminal, we could practically walk through a room filled with guards and not worry, because they would be so engrossed in their games.

The room that housed the behomoth computer also was home to a hulking mass of cords, cables, keys and connections. Everything was somehow connected to a monster of a screen, which dominated the room, leaving little space in which to comfortably move about.

"Wow! I’ve never seen anything this advanced before." Lucca rushed up and stroked the side of the CPU almost lovingly. Lucca considered all types of super-advanced machines as art forms, and sometimes even as sentient beings. I think Lucca spends too much time with them, but her skills come in handy.

"What’re you waiting for then? Disable the security program and let’s go," I said.

Lucca tapped a few buttons and a layout of the level we were on popped up. I heard a few more keys being tapped then two red words appeared on the screen: Security System Deactivated.

"Great! Now, let’s go," I ordered.

"No. I have to cover my tracks. I want everyone to think nothing is wrong." Lucca stayed put. I heard one more key being struck, then Lucca cursed.

"Damn it! My finger slipped. I wonder what I did," she said. She looked up at the screen, then gasped.

"Crono! Look!" She yelled. I looked up at the screen and what I saw chilled me to the bone.

"What’s going on?" Marle asked as she walked into the room. "Oh my…. We can’t let this happen. Not now, not ever." She had a defiant look on her face as she stared at the screen, the screen that read, "Takeover of Earth: T minus 2 weeks, 3 days, 4 hours, and 27 minutes. Takeover of Betrise: T minus 3 weeks, 1 day, 12 hours, and 4 minutes. Command?"


Chapter 14

Chrono Trigger Fanfic