Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 27
"General, we just got new orders from King Zeal. He wants us to fire the laser no matter how short on manpower we are."
The General thought for a moment.
"Do it. But make sure youve got the best men on the job. The laser is a very sensitive piece of equipment."
* * *
"Schala, we thought you were dead! What happened?" Marle asked.
"When I sent you away, the strangest thing happened. As I was expecting the entire Palace to come down around me, time froze. I looked up and saw a winged man reaching his arm out to me. But when I grabbed his hand, everything went black. When I woke up, I was sitting on that throne." Schala shuddered, then continued. "Ive been the mind of the Terra-Fortress ever since. Im assuming you know that my father lives here and that he now rules this world just as my mother ruled Earth."
Schala paused to organize her thoughts, then continued.
"From what I understand, that man Ibleess isnt fully developed yet and needs someone to take care of him, so he brought me here. There was another reason he wanted me though. Every once in a while, I would hear him refer to me as the key to defeat."
Marle gasped in shock, preventing Schala from continuing her story.
"This all makes sense now! Cid, what was that prophecy that ghost told us?" Marle asked.
Power deep inside an Angelic Face
Blessing her friends with Lifes Embrace
Key to his defeat and overturn
The Tables Flip and Final Fortune, " Cid recited.
"Yes! Thats it! That ghost called me the key and said that I was so much like you! No wonder Ibleess wants me badly. I think you and I are the only people who can stop him!" Marle shouted excitedly.
Schala gripped her head at her temples as if she suddenly got a headache.
"Schala, whats wrong?" Marle asked.
"Im Im remembering the time between when he rescued me and when he put me on that infernal throne. No ." Schala dropped her head into her hands and her shoulders slumped. Her chest heaved, making it look like she was sobbing or laughing. But this was no laughing matter.
"It cant be. And yet it is," she whispered.
"Schala?" I said.
"No. I cant help. The reason the reason he was after you was because you are the last person left who can harm him. I can no longer fight Ibleess. He has corrupted me."
"What do you mean, hes corrupted you?"
"He placed me on that throne. In that sense, I became part of him. We also joined in another way ."
Marle gasped. Lucca turned a strange shade of red. Kain peered intently at the wall to his left, Cid furrowed his brow, and Ecin shuffled his feet.
"No," I said in disbelief.
Schala nodded grimly. Magus would definitely not be pleased.
"And he intended to do the same thing to me?"
Marle shuddered. I really wanted to get back at Ibleess.
"But I dont understand something. At the moment, you arent strong enough to even threaten him. Theres something missing," Schala said.
"I think I have the answer to that. Look at these," Lucca said as she handed Schala a sheet of paper and the Gods Tear.
"The Gods Tear! But I thought I had it!" I blurted out.
"So did I, but when you were in the hospital, I noticed it had appeared on my finger somehow," Lucca told me. I thought for a moment, and then the mystery became clear. The three artifacts had gone to the people who had the right to use them. Looking down, I noticed for the first time that a sword occupied my empty sheath. The sword was unmistakeable: the Deus Moon.
"I have another piece of the puzzle. This sword is the Deus Moon. And that armor," I pointed to the one Marle was wearing, "is the Aegis. And all three of these are needed to use that spell youre holding, Schala," I explained.
As Schala read the spell, a smile appeared on her face.
"This is exactly what we need. We can defeat Ibleess with this spell. And with a bit of luck, we might just defeat Zeal once and for all," Schala announced.
"Whats it say?" Ecin asked eagerly.
"Its basically a super powerful spell than can be used only once. It needs two water users, one fire user, one physical magic fighter, two lighting users, and a shadow user. After that, it says that we can have as many people as we want. It also says that the three artifacts have to be with their respective users. It seems that the artifacts have all found who theyre supposed to be with."
"Does it say what happens or where to use it?" Cid asked.
"All thats implied is that we use it when there is no other choice. As for the place, it has to be at the center of the chaos," Schala explained.
"None of those help at all! And besides, we need a Shadow user to execute the spell, and we dont have one here," Lucca cried out.
"We have one on Earth. Magus," I told her.
"Magus?" Schala asked.
"He joined us after you left. He " I started to say, but stopped in mid-sentence. I looked at Lucca and Marle, who both shook their heads.
"Hes a powerful magic user," I said. "And I bet hed love to meet you," I added quickly.
"Theres a small problem though. The Aeon wouldnt be able to make the flight back even with full power diverted to the engines. The distance is just too great and were going to run out of power," Lucca replied pessimistically.
"Lucca, suppose I know a ship that has an engine strong enough to get us back home in a short amount of time, say a day or two. But say this ship needs some major repairs. Do you think you would be able to fix it and send us on our way?"
Lucca opened her mouth to respond when the room turned a bright red. Instantly, klaxon alarms sounded, deafening the group.
"The Laser!" Schala shouted in vain.
"Huh?" I asked.
Schala didnt say anything, but pointed instead to a section of the wall. I rushed to it and it immediately slid open, revealing blinking lights and buttons and electronics. The others joined me and all at once we came to the same realization. The laser was powering up. I noticed a large number counting down on the far right hand corner and pointed to it. It read one minute and was counting down. Cid and Lucca shoved me aside and started fiddling around with the mechanisms. More alarms sounded as they hit the wrong buttons. With thirty seconds left on the clock, they finally disabled the other alarms and focused on the laser. I began a countdown in my mind, watching the numbers change, and loosing hope of saving the town with each decrement. The red light now flashed rapidly, and in desperation Cid placed his hands on the console and zapped it with lightning. The alarm and the lights shut off, much to the amazement of the group. That is, until they heard the mechanical voice coming from the machinery.
"Primary Laser initialization failed. Going to secondary initialization. This is the ten second warning. Please leave the area. Warning, please leave the area." The monotonous voice announced. The alarm sounded again, but no lights came on.
Cid looked at Lucca urgently, fingering her waist. Lucca understood, and reached down to unfasten the leather strap that bound the Wondershot in its holster. She took it out and set the power to high, a setting strong enough to vaporize metal. Lucca fired in desperation at the machine, getting off two shots before the entire thing exploded in a shower of sparks and flames. The one thing that wasnt damaged was the clock, giving me a good indication of how close we had cut it. One second later and the town would not have existed.
"Yes! That did it!" Lucca shouted exuberantly. She flung her arms around Cid and kissed him soundly. However the mechanical voice stopped them.
"Warning. Mammon Machine regulator is damaged or unavailable. Too much energy is being routed to the Laser. Discharge the Laser or shut off the Machines. This fortress will be decimated in 5 minutes due to overabundance of energy. All persons ordered to shut off the Machines or discharge the Laser. Repeat: This fortress will be atomized in 4 minutes thirty seconds due to an overload of energy," the voice droned.
Lucca turned to Schala and said quickly, "Is there a way we can get to the ceiling?"
"Yes. This way, but hurry!" Schala replied. She ran to the wall behind where her throne had been and pressed her palm to it. The wall disappeared, revealing a set of stairs. Schala dashed up the stairs, followed closely by the rest of us. Half a minute later we were on the windy rooftop of the Terra-Fortress.
"Three minutes and thirty seconds to detonation." The monotonous voice called out from below.
"Lucca, why are we up here?" I shouted, trying to make myself heard above the gale.
"The Aeon! It can get us out of this mess. I just need a minute to get it up here!" Lucca shouted back as she pulled out the small yellow box. She manipulated several dials and pushed a button and suddenly, I felt a low rumbling. Minutes later, the Aeon shot out from below then slowed down at Luccas command. The inventor set the ship down quickly and ordered everyone to get in.
"Sit in any seat but the center one!" Lucca shouted as we rushed to get in. I was the last to board, and before I shut the door, I heard the calm mechanical voice one more time.
"One minute to total devastation. Please fire the Laser or disable the Mammon Machines. This is your final warning." Then it shut off forever. I got into my seat and hit the takeoff button and the navigation button at once. The Aeon rocketed upwards, then shot forward at an amazing speed.
"There. Were safe," I breathed as I relaxed my grip on the control stick and shifted the Epoch into hover mode. I glanced behind me, looking past the tail fin of the Aeon at the Terra-Fortress.
"Why hasnt it blown up yet?" I asked.
"Klab," Cid answered simply.
"What does Klab have to do with it?" I asked, confused.
"We were going to destroy the Laser while Klab was going to destroy the Mammon Machines. Looks like he succeeded," Cid explained.
"Without me in the Fortress, they cant do a thing. That base will never work again," Schala told us.
"Haha! Yes! We did it!" I shouted exuberantly, taking my hands off the controls just long enough to high-five everyone.
"You know, the timing couldnt have been better. And we didnt even plan this out completely! Boy is Klab going to be sore when he hears that!" Cid said. I was about to agree when the past came back to hurt us.
"Attention Air-Dalton Imperial. You are under arrest for open rebellion against the Kingdom of Zeal. Prepare to be boarded or destroyed," a haunting voice sounded through the Aeon.
"Dalton! For the last time, this isnt your ship! Its ours, and its staying that way. If you think youre tough enough to attack us, then go ahead!" I shouted.
"Fine. Taste the wrath of my new ship, the Air-Dalton Imperial 2!" His voice boomed again.
"Where do you come up with these names? You could at least have the courtesy to keep it down to two words this time!" Lucca complained. Dalton didnt answer. Instead, the air in front of the Aeon began to ripple. The world flashed twice, blinding us. When we were able to see again, I didnt feel as cocky. Daltons ship, a monster machine with spines and fins and holes where none should be was hovering ahead of us. It looked more like a flying Lavos with armor plates than a ship capable of cutting through the heavens. And its laser cannons, three massive rods of metal on each wing, were flashing with a brilliant glow. He was getting ready to fire.
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