Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 21
Approach the Terra-Fortress
Marle woke up with a large cramp in the small of her back. She got up gingerly, yawned, and stretched.
"Glad to see youre up. Here. Have some." Cid pointed to a large brown bag. It looked as if it were made of a very thick plastic. Marle walked over and opened the seal. She pulled out several small gray bags whose contents could only be guessed at. She opened one of the gray bags and smelled it.
"Ugh! What is this?" She wrinkled her nose at the pungent smell.
"Theyre called MREs, or meals ready to eat. They were made for army personnel to eat. They dont go rotten for a long time," Cid explained and winked at Kain. Marle made a face.
"Dont worry. They taste pretty good. Want some? I think this is prehistoric panritip. Or maybe its bony bagrif with osteoporosis. That one could be aged acrotim slices. Or it might be geriatric gordin."
"What are those animals anyway?" Marle asked.
"Well, theyre all extinct if thats what you mean," Cid said and smiled.
Marle caught onto the joke. "That old huh?"
"Dont worry Marle. These are new ones. Klab happened to be taking the same route we were. He and his men are waiting for us outside," Kain answered, a wide grin on his face.
"How did they get here that fast?" Marle asked, surprised.
"He didnt spend time fighting borneru and talking to ghosts," Kain answered smugly.
"Could you keep it down? Im trying to sleep here." Ecin shouted from a corner.
"No you arent. Weve only got one more day to stop the Fortress, and its a few hours walk from here to there. If we want to get there in time, wed better do it now," Cid said. Ecin groaned, then got up and yawned.
"Remind me to bring a pillow next time we do this," he muttered.
"Lets go," Marle said, pretending not to hear Ecin. The group followed Cid out the door.
"Klab, were going. You know the plan?" Cid asked as they walked by.
"Yes. Well meet up with you as soon as we get ready," he shouted over the din of his men.
"Right. Lets go!" Cid shouted back. He looked at Marle for a second, then Kain and Ecin, then walked towards the Fortress. The rest followed Cid, hoping that this trip would be short.
Five minutes of walking were enough to bring the Terra-Fortress into view. Even though it was a semi-discernable point on the horizon, everybody could tell what it was the moment it was visible. As the group got nearer, the Fortress took on a more menacing look. Finally they were close enough to see the detail put into the Terra-Fortress. It was placed at the foot of the mountains, but it was so huge it blocked out a large portion of the view. It looked like a very weird hedgehog of some sort or another. It was made of up a large, nearly oval shaped bridge connected by 2 long cylinders to an even larger oval shaped hull. Along the outside of the ship were two rows of large metal spines, each one as big a bus. The front end of the bridge tapered down into a cone, making the bridge look like a sharp bullet with an oval hind end. The entire Fortress shone a dark blue, contrasting the brightness of the morning. The group sat down on a large hill that was covered with the charred and dusty remains of plants. Every once in a while the wind would pick up and blow the dust around, uncovering the bones of a poor animal, and covering up the bones of an even more pitiful one. They looked around at the bleak landscape. Large, black forests of what used to be trees were spread thinly about the earth. In the distance, smoking villages could be seen. A reminder of the damage and destruction Zeal had caused was everywhere the eye looked. But the most striking detail the group had noticed was that the sky was darker over the Terra-Fortress than it was anywhere else. And the clouds had nothing to do with it.
"Well, there it is. Everybody know what he has to do?" Marle asked as the group gathered a few minutes away from the Fortress.
"Yeah. But I got one small question do we have to?" Ecin sounded like a twelve-year-old being forced to do something he really didnt want to do, despite the eager grin on his face. Marle answered him in the same manner and with the same eager grin.
"Yes we have to. Cronos life is in the balance, and maybe the lives of thousands of other people."
"Fine. Just give me a moment to write my will," Ecin joked.
"Funny, kid. Can we go now? The sooner we go, the sooner we get out, the sooner I can leave the dangerous jobs to others," Kain said.
"You dont like saving the world?" Ecin quipped.
"Nope. Whats the use of trying to save the world if you dont get to enjoy the world you saved?" Kain told him.
Marle cut in before Ecin could crack another joke. "Whats the use? No reason thatd work for you. But let me try to put it in terms youll probably understand. For me, the cost of living in a world under tyranny is greater than the cost living in a free world. Freedom is the most expensive of the things that can be taken away from you. If the cost of bringing the world from tyranny into freedom is my life, then Ill gladly pay it because my life isnt worth nearly as much as a world. No single humans life is, not even yours, you selfish idiot. So I sacrifice my life so that the cost of living can be less." By the time Marle finished her speech, she was almost shouting. Kain was too stunned to speak, let alone look Marle in the eye. "Schala did. And so did Crono," she added as a barely audible afterthought. Even though she had said it extremely quietly, Cid had still heard it.
"You know, the first time you mentioned Schala, the name sounded familiar, but I couldnt place it. Now I remember who it is. Schala is the name of the Keeper of Mostern. She is the one who makes sure the Mammon Machine at the heart of the floating island is functioning. She also takes care of Mostern," Cid said, a touch of caution in his voice.
"Say what? That doesnt sound like the Schala I know. Thats weird. Are you sure this is the right Schala?" Marle queried.
"Yeah. If shes the daughter of the King, then its the right Schala."
"Thats not right. Schala hated Mostern, and hated the Mammon Machine more. And even so, shes dead. I saw her die."
"Well, thats all I know. We should be heading into the Fortress now. Do we Dare?" Cid changed the subject abruptly. No one answered. Marle decided not to press further. She looked towards the Fortress and shivered. Her hand snaked down towards the hilt of the Rainbow Sword and gripped it tightly.
"Crono I wish you were here," Marle whispered, this time making sure no one heard. Then she turned to Cid.
"Cid, after were done here, I want you to finish teaching me how to use this sword. I dont care where. I dont care even if were out in the middle of nowhere. You will finish my lessons," Marle spoke forcefully.
"Uh ok. I guess," Cid said. He had never heard Marle speak with such determination. Marle nodded at him, then proceeded down the hill towards the Fortress. The rest of the group looked at each other with quizzical expressions, then followed Marle. As the last person entered the door, it slammed behind them. And in the instant it took for Marle to realize they were trapped, the Terra-Fortress seemed to scream. And with that scream, all the old fears of fighting Lavos resurfaced. The scream shredded her resolve and destroyed her determination. It had been 5 years since she had heard it last. That scream the Lavos Scream.
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