Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 30
When I saw it in Zeal, the Blackbird was the biggest and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. But if the Blackbird was a massive work of art, the Ephemeral was a masterpiece of planetary proportions. The Ephemeral made the Blackbird look like random scrawlings compared to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The ship itself was a large, circular disk, miles thick at its widest. Attached to the disk was a giant nosecone with rows of black windows lined up like eyes on some gargantuan creature. Extending on either side, mile long wings stretched out, a testament to the engineering skill of Zeal. A relatively small tail fin stood erect from the back of the ship, seemingly the only part of the ship that wasnt decorated. On every part of the ship, on every single piece of metal that made up the craft, inlaid strips of gold, silver, and blue metal crisscrossed each other in intricate patterns. Each strip of metal seemed to glow unearthly and they cast a magnificent light on the ship itself.
"Cid, you didnt say anything about this. When you said they rebuilt the Ephemeral, I thought you meant that they just rebuilt it. You didnt say anything about a massive reconstruction," Ecin pointed out.
"I guess I was wrong. I didnt know they had intended to build something of this magnitude. It almost seems like this ship was intended to be a sort of chariot for the Kings return to Earth," Cid speculated.
"Thats exactly it," Tsern said, joining us inside the Aeon. "This ship was Zeals only means of getting back home. Thats why he ordered the engineers to design it this way."
We all nodded, still gaping in awe of the construction and the art that went into the ship. We would have stayed there longer, but Tsern painfully snapped us back to our mission.
"Well, what are you waiting for? You have the engine installed and operational, and now you have to stop, or at least try to stop, Ibleess. Get going!" he commanded.
"You flaming idiot! You still think were going to loose, dont you?" Kain cursed at him.
"Yes, I have my doubts about your ability to destroy Ibleess. So far, Ive been wrong about you, but I will not second guess myself."
"Thats it. Get off my ship! Now!" I yelled at him.
"Your ship? You forget who supplied you with the parts," Tsern shot back.
"You know, if youre so all-powerful, why dont fight Ibleess yourself?" Marle asked.
"None of your business. Now, if youll excuse me, I have a date with Fate," Tsern nodded good-bye and disappeared.
"Doesnt he mean a date with destiny?" Lucca asked Cid, who shrugged.
"No, he doesnt. Now get ready; were going to board the Ephemeral," I grumbled.
Half an hour later, the Aeon was parked in the main hangar and we were on the bridge, gaping in awe at the flashing lights and spinning displays and advanced technology before us. There was no space on the control panels that was not covered by blinking buttons, flashing lights, or technical readouts of any kind. Positioned in front of the consoles, ten seats, spaced evenly apart, looked as if they were made for kings. Above the consoles was the biggest window I had ever seen in my entire life. Floor to ceiling, side to side, it covered everything. The view out of it was breathtaking; I could see everything forever and then some. The floors and ceilings seemed to absorb the glowing heartbeat of technology as they both pulsed with an odd, unearthly light. Lambent light shot through the silver-and-gold on blue panels, a design that decorated every piece of bare wall, adding to the feeling that we were in the heart, the life source of the Ephemeral. Lucca and Cid fell in love with it all.
"If I died right now, I will have died happy," Lucca mumbled dreamily as Cid sidled up to her and grasped her hand.
"Lets make sure that we dont die just yet, shall we?" Cid told her. Lucca blushed, then strode toward a computer. She had just made it to within arms reach when a transparent panel whooshed down in front of the window. Lucca jumped back surprised. She was even more surprised when a set of beams shot forth from the panel and formed a hologram in front of us of a woman dressed in white engineers robes.
"Greetings and welcome to the Ephemeral. Diagnostics report that an engine has been installed. The Ephemeral is ready to fly. Identify captain please," the figure commanded. All eyes turned to me. I looked back, blinked, blinked again, pursed my lips, then stepped forward.
"I am the captain."
"Name?" the hologram asked.
"Incorrect input. Second name," the hologram told me. I turned to Lucca questioningly. She simply shrugged and responded.
"Its a computer. It cant violate its programming. Just give it your last name and hope thats the last question it will ask."
"Name?" the hologram asked again.
"Crono Deus," I responded.
"Welcome aboard, Captain Crono Deus. Name your subordinates," it commanded.
"My subordinates? I dont have any."
"Negative. Other crewmembers are subordinate to the captain. Name your subordinates."
"Listen up. I have no subordinates. Were in a hurry, so lets get going."
"Im sorry captain, but you must name your subordinates."
"Crono, just say a few names and thats it! Its not a big deal," Lucca chided. I ignored her, the beginnings of a plan coming into my mind.
"Computer, if Im your captain, you must follow my commands, correct?" I asked.
"Then I command you to get us to Earth without any more delay. Understood?"
"Yes captain. Activating emergency overrides. Task naming subordinates rescheduled indefinitely. Engaging trans-spacial warp. Please strap yourselves in. Takeoff in 15 seconds."
"Quick, everyone, get into a seat! Now!" I shouted. We all clambered for seats while the holograph counted down the seconds until we could all go home.
"Three two one engaging engine," the hologram droned. By this time, we all could hear a faint rumbling in the bowels of the ship.
"Jump commencing in five four three two one. Commence jump!" The hologram said, then disappeared. Lights dimmed, seats shook, and we nearly jumped out of our seats in surprise. Suddenly, the world flipped upside down and turned inside out. I had the feeling that my stomach had just leaped into my throat, but when it arrived, my throat wasnt there at all. I felt as if I was being ripped apart and pushed together at the same time. The world spun around viciously. There were too many things for all my senses to experience at once, and I felt my consciousness slip away like sand between my fingers. I forced my eyes to open and focus, then turned my head to my right. Images flashed before my eyes, images of Marle as an old woman, images of a baby Lucca helping an aging Cid to get up. The images warped themselves into wavy stripes pasted on the bulkhead. I blinked and looked again. Now, everything was in two dimensions. I could feel parts of my brain shutting down. I blinked one more time, and for a second, I knew how it felt to be made of four dimensions. The ability to walk through time as I would normally walk on land was passed to me for the briefest part of eternity, but it was long enough to overload my brain. And because of that one small, fleeting gift, I fell unconscious seconds before it ever happened.
* * *
I woke up suddenly and tried to get out of my chair. The strap on the chair went taut, snapping me back into my seat. I groaned half in agony of the memory and half at the bruises I felt when I pushed up against the strap. Gingerly, I undid the harness and fell out of my chair and onto my knees and then my stomach. My legs refused to work. In fact, I couldnt feel my legs. I glanced back fearfully at them, but they were there, just not working. I groaned again, then tried to wiggle my toes to get some feeling back into them. What felt like minutes later, I could feel my lower body, although I still couldnt stand.
"Is everyone ok?" I moaned hopefully. I was surprised at the weakness of my own voice; it almost sounded like a whisper. My question was met with six soft groans.
"Good. Can anyone get up onto their feet?" I grunted. More groans answered, only louder.
"One step at a time I guess," I thought to myself. More time passed, and I interested my self in the intricate designs on the floor. Finally, boredom threatened to kill me and I tried standing up again. This time, I made it, although I was a bit wobbly.
"Ok, now can anyone stand up?" I asked. Instead of groans, I heard definite "nos" this time, all of which were at normal volume. I walked around slowly, limbering up my legs and helping my friends up. One by one, we finally stood up, although rather shakily.
"Is it safe to assume were on Earth, Lucca?" I asked.
"Yes. Ill figure out where we are in a moment. I just have to get to a terminal," she replied as she took baby steps toward the computers, careful not to trip.
"Ok, were floating over where the Black Omen used to be. I suggest we take the Aeon out and find the rest of our friends."
"I think I know where they are: at my house," I told them, then reminded them about Fates showing of the future.
"Then lets go! We have to get there before Ibleess can attack again!" Lucca exclaimed. We all staggered down to the Aeon, still unsure of our footing. Whatever the Ephemeral had done, it took longer and longer to wear off as time passed.
* * *
"This is a beautiful planet. It reminds me of what our historians said Aire was like. Zeal Ill never forgive you for what you did to my planet," Cid whispered the last part to himself, but I was still able to hear it.
"Its almost like its out of the stories my mom used to tell me, the ones about knights and maidens in distress. My mom said that those days existed a long time ago, before King Zeal came," Ecin told us. Kain only grunted, but I could see tears forming in his eyes. I thanked everything I knew that we had saved Earth from a similar fate, and I prayed to those same things that I could prevent the destruction once again.
"Cid, after we deal with Ibleess, Ill be glad to show you around Earth," Lucca offered. Cid nodded, still enthralled at the sight of the green planet spread out beneath him. Even in the vanishing light of twilight, everything seemed beautiful. Stunning. Even to my eyes, ones used to seeing Earth as it is, the world was glorious.
The trip to my house was a quick one, but it seemed to drag on forever. Cid, Kain, Schala, and Ecin all stared in awe at the lush planet, while Lucca and Marle both stared grimly into space. No one dared mention what was going to happen if we failed.
We landed on my front lawn and had barely made it out of the Aeon when Cid grabbed Lucca and me and threw us onto the ground.
"Duck!" he shouted as a laser beam shot out of one of the windows and bounced off the Aeons hull. If Cid hadnt moved Lucca and me, we would both have been fried.
"Thanks for the save, Cid," I gasped, winded.
"Guys, its us!" Marle shouted from behind me.
"Some friends youve got, Crono," Kain said. I didnt reply.
"Robo? Magus? Frog? Ayla? Is that you?" I shouted at the house.
"Crono! Marle! Tis you! We thought you hadst left us forever," Frog shouted back. I heard heavy footsteps coming from inside, then Frog burst out of the house.
"Where hast thou been, Crono? The world needs our services again," Frog said as he bounded up to me. I said nothing as we grabbed each other in a rough embrace.
"Ill explain later, Frog. Weve got a major problem now," I said as we parted.
"What is that thing? It looks like a I dont know what it looks like!" Ecin said indignantly.
"The question, lad, is who art thou?"
"Theyre our friends. You already know Schala; thats Ecin; that guy over there is Kain; and this man is Cid. Everyone, say hi to Frog," I said. "Now, as I was saying, weve got a problem. Now, lets go inside, and Ill explain what we have to do," I ordered.
"Crono, something vile has occurred! A man named Ibleess came hither. He informed us unless you meet him within three days, he would destroy Earth! Thou must see him soon, or all is lost," Frog spoke rapidly.
"Then weve got to come up with battle plans. Frog, that man is pure evil. If we cant destroy him, the rest of the universe is dead."
"Then we have no time to waste. Let us go into the house."
Once inside, I greeted Robo and Ayla with the same gusto I had greeted Frog, using only a simple nod to greet Magus. The sorcerer, leaning back casually in his chair, barely nodded at the rest of us. However, when Schala stepped through the door, he was so surprised he fell backwards off his chair, then scrambled to his feet, trying to hide his embarrassment.
I strode over to him and whispered urgently, "we havent told her yet. Its your life, your identity. You should do it."
Magus nodded thoughtfully then whispered back.
I was thoroughly shocked but didnt show it.
Introductions were extremely brief, just a basic recital of everyones names. Apparently, everyone had something important to say, and no one could waste any time.
"Crono, Ibleess is waiting for thee at Fionas Shrine. What is this about?" Frog asked.
I gave them a very brief outline of our adventures, leaving out anything that wasnt absolutely vital. The others helped, adding in their own perspectives and stories. When we were done, no one spoke. Magus eyed Schala as if she was a masterpiece of art and he one who had lacked a vision of it for so long. She shifted nervously under his steel gaze. Robos innards whirred and hummed, digesting the information. Ayla sat still, stoic yet stunned, and Frog rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Finally, Robo spoke up.
"Crono, while you were gone, weve had some problems of our own. Another Lavos attacked. We had barely fought it off when a being named Ibleess appeared inside the shell with us. It gave us a week to gather a force strong enough to repel it; the week is almost up. We thought you three would never show up, and that we would have to go on without some of our strongest. But now that we all are here, with some added help, defeating this creature might be possible."
"Got it Robo. Thanks."
"Crono fight evil monster?" Ayla asked.
"Were all going to fight it. This time, we defeat Zeal and Lavos forever."
"Youre going to need a lot of power for that, kid. You sure you have it?" Magus asked scathingly.
"You offering to help, Magus? We could use you."
"Ill help. But I have my own reasons. I have to repay a debt to a loved one."
"I understand." I nodded grimly, then turned to the others.
"Theres something I havent told you yet." I recounted what happened with Fate, told them that we were only pieces in a game, told them how Tsern and Ibleess were both using us in a power play between them. I told them how Tsern had manipulated us five years ago to serve his own ends, and how he was doing the same thing again.
"This explains a great deal about the time gates and why when we killed Lavos they didnt diappear," Robo informed us. "And I think I believe I know the answer to my question five years ago. Do you remember the time we saved Fionas forest? This new evidence suggests that the entity we thought to have died has not died yet. At this moment, I believe that the entity will die in this coming battle with Ibleess. I also think now know who, or what, this entity is,"
All ears perked up and all eyes turned towards him. If Robo were human, we would have been able to see the grim expression on his face.
"It can be one of two things. Because Tsern and his actions was key in Earths history, it may have been Tserns memories we were experiencing. His manipulation of us did two things: it gave him the opportunity to relive the times he thought were important, and it allowed him to rectify several mistakes of his. This theory is also supported by the fact that he manipulated us, because by doing so he relieved his greatest achievements. I believe that Tsern is the one that will die," Robo finished. I could feel the tension and nervousness in the room as Robo prepared to speak again. So far, his explanation made sense.
"The other option, although I hesitate to say this, is that we are the ones about to die."
A collective double take rippled through the room. Marle and I eyed each other in shock. Lucca gripped Cids hand as if she were a lost child. Magus, other than blinking twice, betrayed no emotion whatsoever. Schala on the other hand, had tears in her eyes, and brought her had up to her mouth. Ayla pouted angrily. I could sense that she wanted to say something really important, but she was waiting until Robo finished.
"My reasoning is this: metaphorically, we are the planet. Here we are, gathered from every era in our planets history. For all intents and purposes, we represent Earth. Even those from Aire represent Earth in a way, since, judging from your explanation, Crono, humans originated on Aire. Our planet has relived its fondest memories of us through the time warps, much like a family would do for a man on his deathbed. Now, the only thing the planet can do is wait, pray, and hope that the man near death survives, that we win and live to celebrate."
No one moved. No one talked. We all stared silently at the floor, examining it as if it had just told us that it was sick of being a floor. Robos robotic voice broke the silence once more.
"I could be wrong about one or both of my theories. Now you know why I was hesitant to tell them. However, our dying does not mean that we will not be victorious. Neither does Tserns. Please remember that this is based on the scant information available to me presently."
The silence continued. I closed my eyes, then spoke.
"We now have two choices. I can try to contact Tsern and ask for his help, or we can continue. If I ask for Tsern to help though, it will mean that we run the risk of his losing, since the artifacts might not work at all with him. If we continue, we all go together and make sure Ibleess is defeated."
I stood for a moment, then collapsed into a chair and knuckled my forehead. Two possibilities, and both of them seemed to be perfectly feasable. But what happens if we find out, too late, that were the ones who are about to die? What happens when all our efforts to break free of the people controlling our lives are in vain? What if Tsern and Fate were right about our dying? I tried to push the thoughts out of my head, but the possibility was too great. A fifty-fifty chance never feels fair unless it doesnt apply to you. For an uninvolved observer like Malak to look at this and say, "youve got a fifty-fifty chance. The odds are good," would be like trying to decide between which of two pairs of pants to put on. But for us, the ones involved, the ones whose lives hung in this decision, this meant winning a war and possibly dying, or losing a war and possibly living to see our mistake.
"Crono? Is that you I hear? Well, its about time! Do you know how worried I get when you disappear for days and never tell anyone where you went?"
I shot up out of my chair at the sound of that voice. Suddenly, my decision was made. Pushing my way past my gawking friends, I stumbled up the stairs and gave my mother the biggest hug of her life.
"Thanks mom! Youve just solved another one of my problems. You seem to have a knack of doing that!" I shouted as I hugged her tightly.
"Well, thats what mothers are for. Now, what problem did I solve?" my mother asked, eyeing me as if I were still ten. No matter how tall I was, the amazing woman in front of me could always stare me down.
"Dont worry about that mom. Now that I have a solution, you dont have to worry any more," I told her. I gave her another squeeze, kissed her cheek, and then started back down the stairs.
"And mom? In three days, Im going to go solve my problem. I might be gone for days or minutes, depending on how long it takes for your solution to work. But Ill be back, I promise."
She smiled at me, then frowned slightly.
"Youd better be back soon. A family should sit together at the dinner table, even if its just the two of us. Besides, it gets boring without you."
"Dont worry mom. But would you mind if I have a few friends over for dinner for the next few days? Theyre a long way from home and theyre probably not going to be able to make it back before their supper."
"Take care! And remember, you promised!" She shouted as I ran down the stairs. Everyone looked at me as if I was a stranger when I reached the bottom floor.
"Whats wrong?" I asked.
"When you were gone, Ayla just gave us the sternest lecture Ive ever had. My father could take lessons from her," Marle answered. I nodded, and she continued.
"Basically, shes angry at us for even thinking that Ibleess might win. She reminded us of how everyone thought we were going to loose when we were going to Tyranno Lair, and of how everyone in Zeal told us that Lavos would destroy us. Well, her point was that were still standing and theyre the ones living only in memory."
"Ayla no give up! Ayla strong! Ayla fight! Evil thing not survive if Ayla and friends fight!"
"You know Ayla, I just reached the same decision upstairs. As Robo said, we represent Earth. Since when has Earth gone down without a fight? I didnt come all this way, denying what Fate told me, just to find out hes right. Were all masters of our own destiny, and were going to prove just that."
Ayla sat down satisfied. I grinned, then continued.
"Well, it takes about a day and a half to get to Fionas Shrine, which leaves us a day to rest and half a day to find and defeat Ibleess. Now, I suggest we all take a break. Youre all invited to stay here. The house is big enough for all of us," I pointed out.
"I am declining your offer. There are a few things I would like to discuss with Schala. Of course, if thats ok with you, Schala," Magus said quickly. Even though he showed almost no emotion, I had been around the sorcerer long enough to tell what he was feeling and when. My senses were not always right, but there was no mistaking this feeling. Magus, the man who had hardly ever been fazed, the man whose heart could be considered a chunk of cold stone, felt awkward in the presence of Schala. I grinned inwardly. It would be fun to see how Schala could change Magus.
"I dont mind at all. But, I would still like to eat. Ill go with you just as long as you promise to bring me back before all the food is gone," Schala replied.
"You will not have to worry about food when youre with me. But if you insist, then Ill bring you back. You and I have a lot of talking and not a lot of time. Come with me," Magus ordered. Schala followed, casting a final glance at me. I nodded, and she continued on her way.
The rest of the day was spent in quiet thought. Even when Cid, Kain, and Ecin asked to have a tour of Earth from the Aeon, the world seemed muted. Despite anyones best attempts at sparking a conversation, none of us seemed to want to continue speaking. We all had one thing on our minds: Ibleess.
Its the nature of us humans to second-guess ourselves. Even when we are absolutely sure that were correct, we still think theres a possibility that were wrong. And in this instance, I was far from sure of my being right. My doubts ate away at me and I continued to offer my mind hypothetical situations: If we all died at the hands of Ibleess, what would happen to Earth? And if we didnt die, what would happen then? How could Tsern die? What if Robo was wrong about anyone dying? Millions of questions assailed my mind, and I liked only a few of my answers.
I returned them in time for dinner, of which everyone ate little. At starting conversations, my mother was a little more successful. Small, two or three-sentence conversations lead to longer dialogs, but we talked about the same thing for no more than two minutes. Each break in the conversations left the room feeling awkward, empty. Finally, one by one, they excused themselves from the table and went to sit somewhere where each could think without being interrupted. My mother and I were left alone at the table.
"Quite a few odd friends youve got there. Who are they?" my mother asked quietly.
"The one sitting by Lucca was Cid, the one who looked as if he might start an argument was Kain, the kid was Ecin, and the other girl was Schala," I replied. I only answered because she was my mother. If another person had asked, I would have ignored him.
"Theyre not very talkative. Is something wrong?"
"Well, lets just say theyve had really tough lives, and now theyre about to meet the man who caused them all their trouble. These past few days have been the toughest of them all, though."
"Oh dear. Im sorry. I didnt know."
"Its ok, mom. Im going with them. Ive got a score to settle with this man as well."
"Crono, dont be too angry with whoever it is. Everyone has their reasons."
"I dont think this man had a reason. He nearly ruined their lives from before they were even born. Some people dont have a reason for being what they are. They just are."
My mother pursed her lips, then stood up.
"Crono, I want to show you something. Come on; its near the stairs."
"But the dishes " I objected.
" Can wait. What I have to show you is a bit more important," my mother finished for me.
I followed her to the stairs, wondering what could be more important than doing dishes before the food dried and it became impossible to get the scum off. My wonder turned to surprise, however, when my mother twisted the knob of the banister viciously. I heard a loud creak, and then a thud.
"Mom? Whats going on?" I asked.
"Crono, Im going to show you something Ive been meaning to show you for a while. This is as good a time as any, since now it will prove my point. Come on."
My mother walked behind the staircase and down through a trapdoor that I had never noticed before. I hesitated only a moment before following her. I emerged in a dank and dusty basement. Dim and flickering torches on the walls offered the only light. But even with the small amount of illumination, I could see it all. Dozens of knickknacks and trinkets littered the floor. On each wall stood at least a picture or a drawing or a painting of my mother, some other half-discernable person, and me. On the floor, pushed up against a wall, lay a huge chest, rusted and closed. Near it stood a weapons rack, the only item without rust, dust, or cobwebs on it. It looked as if it had been used fairly recently.
"Mom, whats this?"
"This, Crono, is where I kept your fathers stuff. Everything he ever owned I put in here."
"My father. I dont remember him. Who was he?"
"No one you know. His name was Tsern though. Tsern Deus."
I reeled in shock. Tsern? My father? Impossible! I couldnt stand to think that that manipulative man, that deceitful thing was my dad.
"Mom, please tell me youre kidding. Youre kidding, right?" I prayed that my mother was only playing a prank on me.
"No, thats his name. Why? Do you know him?"
I shook my head quickly.
"No I dont. I I thought you were talking about someone else."
"Ok. As I was saying, I kept everything of your fathers when he left. Everything he owned. I still dont know why.
He left one day, suddenly, and without any explanation. It was a few days before you were born. At the time, I shouted and I cursed his name and I hoped that he died a horrible death. In fact, I moved from our old house into this house to solidify the separation. But, a few days ago, the day you left, he came back. I was ready to beat him out of my house " I laughed at this, but my mother only glared at me and continued. "I was about to beat him out of my house when he told me why he left. He had to protect you."
"What?" I asked incredulously.
"Thats what I said. He told me that a few days before he left, someone told him that unless he moved, all of us would die. He told me that someone was hunting him. He said that he had to face this man, but away from here."
"And you believed him?" I asked.
"Yes. And I did more than that; I forgave him. After I put down the pan I was holding, I invited him into the house. He told me he could stay for a short time only, and that he was actually here to get something of his," my mom told me. She took in a breath and was about to speak, but I beat her to it.
"Let me guess. The sword that was on that weapon rack."
"Right. He said he needed it to defeat the man that was hunting him."
"Why didnt he take it earlier?"
"I dont know. I think it was because he didnt know what he needed to stop that other man."
"Hm," I growled.
"My point is, when your father left me, I thought he was the most cruel man on the face of the planet. Now that I know his reasoning, I know that hes not cruel. He was just looking out for you. And for me."
The world swirled around me. Tsern is my father. My father almost killed me. My father wants to kill me. Even worse, my father wants to use me as fodder. I could not, would not, accept the fact that Tsern is my father, no matter what. I groaned and slumped onto the banister.
"Whats wrong, honey? Are you sick? Maybe you should go to bed," my mom told me. Knowing her, it was an order, not a suggestion, but I didnt disagree.
"Yeah, I think I should. But could you make sure that all my friends find places to sleep?" I asked. Tsern was my father. How could he be?
"Sure sweetie. Now get to bed."
I struggled up two flights of stairs and into my bedroom, then flung myself onto my bed. I didnt even bother undressing. I didnt even bother taking off my sword.
"Tserns my father. Hes my father!" I mumbled into my pillow. Sleep came easily, but it was filled with memories of the fight between him and me. I couldnt get him out of my head. Tsern was my father.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic