"In the year 1999, high above Macross Island in the South Pacific, a phenomenal event occurred in the skies which altered the course of human history."
From "Boobytrap" Episode One of the Robotech series
I need a little room to breathe 'cause I'm one step closer to the edge, and I'm about to break!
From Linkin Park's One Step Closer
June 20, 2006
Dodgers Stadium. Los Angeles, CA
"Finally, we made it!" Lucca exclaimed after the long walk from the parking lot. They had arrived just in time to be a few minutes later than the early bird fans, forcing them to park from what seemed like an eternity from the stadium. Lucca her hands on her knees, taking in breathes still a bit weak from the flue while Marle, Crono, and Patrick just slowed their breathing and looked at the crowds rushing to their seats after getting their food.
The quarto was dressed comfortably for the occasion. Lucca was in a pair of jean shorts and a loose fitting shirt with a baseball cap. Patrick wore a pair of blue jeans and a comfortable black shirt. Crono wore a pair of blue jeans and a button up orange Hawaiian shirt while Marle wore a pair of jeans and a white midriff.
"Come on, Lucca," Patrick said with a cheerful smile, "the jog wasn't all that bad, though I told you to take it easy and build yourself back up. Besides, how much worse-"
Lucca covered his mouth with her hand, silencing him immediately. "Never I say never say that statement or any like it because something always happens."
After Lucca uncovered Patrick's mouth, he rolled his eyes. "Gee, when did you become a Murphy fan? That's simple superstition, and scientifically unsound."
Crono lifted his foot, scratching his sock. "Don't be too sure. There are too many cases against you, especially our personal experience."
Patrick raised an eyebrow which basically said, "Such as?"
Marle nodded her head in agreement. "Yep. When I first got transported to 600 AD, mistook for my ancestor, and put into a position where I couldn't get free of a castle, I said to myself, 'It cannot get any worse than this.'"
"And what happened?" Patrick questioned.
Marle shivered and Crono wrapped his arms around her, "I disappeared from history for a time."
"Then there was the time before we faced Queen Zeal in the Ocean Palace. I happened to think, 'What's the worse that can happen?' and we all know what happened." The group nodded.
Patrick made a dismissive gesture with his hand, "Fine, fine, I'm convinced. In that case, 'What's the best that can happen tonight?'" He gave a nod to Crono at the same time Lucca winked to Marle.
Feeling charged up, Lucca threw her fist into the air, "Alrighty then! Let's get some food and get to our seats!" She then sighed, resting a bit before moving on.
Standing next to her, Patrick pointed in the direction of the concession stands. "There she blows, mates. Charge!" And the race to get cheese nachos began.
Dodgers Stadium. Los Angeles, CA
It's amazing how one can hear his neighbor even in the loudest of places. It teaches humanity to keep others close. Well, the same held true for this night, but one's neighbor was sometimes a total stranger. Fans talked over stadium announcements and local vendors. Babies and young children cried about discomfort, and coaches and players conversed among each other.
In the long haul of virtually six-and-a-half innings, everyone was passed their warm-up stage. They were on fire, both players and spectators alike. The Braves were leading by one run, and it was the top of the seventh with the Braves at the plate.
Although the dark clouds above and light and distant thunder laced with rain threatened to invade, the in-game emotion filled the stadium. No storm threat would move anyone in the stands. The audience was excited to see the baseball game. Players were both anxious and calm in the eye of the storm of the game. They had come far through practice and training, and for them, this was just another day, another test. Finally, there were those who were seeing a baseball game for the first time in their life. These lucky people were already through over half of the game.
Crono, Marle, and Lucca made up at least three of the people in the group. Patrick Simmons had been to at least two games in his lifetime, but still, he found himself excited with the game and the executed plans that the night would bring. Unfortunately for him, he didn't know about the plans for him which were already made.
It didn't take Sherlock Holmes to notice that Crono and Marle were a sorry site to see. After finishing their food and drink, the two had gone silent and lost in thought. They sat in their chairs for the better part of the game. Marle had her hands on her lap, and Crono, under Patrick's recommendation that it just didn't look right, kept his hands away from his pocket and played more with his sock periodically through the game. Both had sweat on their brows from nerves more than actual body heat. They had kept to their own thoughts during the game, asking questions only when they happen to catch an event, such as a walk, and inquired to know what was going on since they were still rather new to the game.
Lucca and Patrick were thoroughly enjoying the evening, both rooting for the Dodgers. Both had taken a geek-like interest in the actual math, geometry, and physics of the game and discussed virtually each play, pitch by pitch, theorizing how to best hit a home run given the pitched ball's movements and speed. In all actuality, they were in an applied field of geekiness.
Aside from the mathematical and scientific interest, Patrick and Lucca had a profound respect for the players on both sides considering the mental and physical condition players had to be in. Lucca, however, had made the bold statement that she could hit a home run after seeing one pitch. Given her calculating mind and magical and gun-handling prowess, Patrick did not doubt her for a second. On a side note, though neither would admit it, they were honestly enjoying each other's company, and had done so after Lucca had shown signs of recovering from her flu. On another note, the two had become more reasonable adults, bringing much peace in the household.
Of course, both were excited for reasons other than the game. They had coordinated certain plans for the evening, both sharing common thoughts on the seventh inning stretch which neither knew for truth be told; Lucca had learned to keep her thoughts quiet when in the presence of Patrick Simmons.
"Strike three! You're out!" the umpire yelled causing both sides of the stadium to react with boos or cheers, depending on the team being rooted for. That was the third out of the top of the seventh, ending that part of the inning, and opening room for an event which would change the lives of at least two people forever.
Finally, the hour was at hand. The stage was set and the actors ready. The show was about to go on.
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to two very special people " the announcer said, directing the audience's attention to the large television display, now zoomed in on Crono and Marle. It was at this time that Crono and Marle stood up facing each other and shocking each other at the same time. Neither expected the other to stand, and things were about to get interesting because each person in the stadium had their eyes on Crono and Marle in suspenseful questioning. Patrick and Lucca, though, just grinned like idiots, though slightly confused why both stood.
"Crono," Marle said the same time Crono said "Marle."
They stood there for a moment before Marle crossed her arms, stared Crono straight in the eyes and said in a serious tone, "You first."
Crono gulped. Marle barely used that look, but when she did, Crono had no choice but to concede. Crono knelt to one knee and reached into his sock, the same one he had been playing with all evening. He opened the box to reveal a silver ring with a diamond in the shape of a small snowflake. He lifted up the box, took a breath, and began to recite the words he had been turning over in his heart for nine years.
"Marle Valeria I have loved you ceaselessly through the aeons. For nine years, I have put off this moment this question and now I ask from an open heart." He took another breath. "Will you marry me?"
Marle was on the verge of tears and low murmurs echoed through the crowed. She cleared her throat and the crowds fell silent. Marle stroked her chin in a thoughtful manner and giggled.
"You made me wait nine years for that, Crono, and women should never have to wait that long. That is why I will not answer you " Crono might have lost sanity if he had not seen Marle's grin, " until you answer mine." Marle then produced a similar looking box from her pocket and knelt on one knee in a similar fashion in front of Crono.
"Crono Kisaragi, you have been there from the beginning we've met to the end of time. We've been through thick and thin, life and death. Now, Crono, will you marry me and become my prince?"
The crowds were deathly silent and both Patrick and Lucca had shocked impressions. Neither Patrick didn't expect Marle to propose nor did Lucca expect Crono to propose. The two scientists stared at the couple along with the entire stadium. Crono and Marle just smiled and at the same time leaned closer, kissing. When they broke apart and grinned madly and shouted to each other and the rest of the world, "YES!"
Crowds cheered and clapped for the newly engaged couple, and Patrick and Lucca looked to each other in a dumbfound manner saying, "You planned this? You didn't tell me?" After a moment of initial confusion, Patrick and Lucca smiled knowingly and stood, following Crono and Marle out of the ball park, both planning to take the lovers home, completely positive that no one in the group was interested in the game.
When they finally made their way outside, the foursome received a well deserved shock. Chris baker was dressed in a black suit and matching hat. He also wore white gloves and shiny black shoes; the perfect chauffeur get-up. He stood next to the driver's side of a black limo. He gave a smile and tilted his head. "Good evening you four. I guess all went well?"
"Chris?" Patrick asked, "What are you doing here? I thought you and Michelle had plans."
Chris tapped the window of the driver side with his knuckles. The passenger side opened and Michelle Miller stepped out, wearing a single piece white dress with a low V-cut on the front.
"Michelle?" Lucca asked, "What are you doing in a limo?"
Chris gave a low chuckle. "Michelle thought it would be nice to give these two love birds a night on the town in their own limo. There is also a chilled bottle of champagne in back in case you get thirsty."
"Besides," Michelle added with a wink, "this is a great chance for couples to get to know each other limo or not." She gave a slight glance in the direction of Patrick and Lucca before continuing. "You guys should thank Lucca. It was her idea."
Patrick raised an eyebrow as he turned to Lucca, "Your idea? You planned this?"
Lucca shook her head, "I didn't really plan this. I just ran the thought by Michelle, and I guess she took it from there.
Chris opened the back door in a professional manner, and Crono and Marle entered the back seat, leaving Patrick and Lucca looking rather confused. Crono tilted his head to the two "So what are you going to do while we're out?"
A distant display of lightening and the roar of thunder answered Crono's question before Patrick had the chance to reply. Patrick shook his head lightly, hearing the weather. "I guess we'll go home. I doubt anything can be more exciting than tonight's seventh inning."
Lucca pinched Patrick's arm, reminding him about saying things like that. "We'll probably eat some chips and play a game or something," Lucca said.
"Well, whatever you do," Marle said, giving a Michelle-like wink, "don't do anything Crono and I wouldn't do.
Crono then added, "And remember that lipstick comes off with warm water and soap "
As a result, Patrick and Lucca blushed, immediately became defensive, both trying to stutter some sort of reply which made no sense whatsoever. This brought a riot of laughter and two very embarrassed scientists.
June 20, 2006
While the newly engaged love birds (a.k.a. Crono and Marle) were enjoying their "night on the town," Patrick and Lucca were over half-way home and not as far from Oxnard itself. They were taking a couple of back roads to enjoy the night. The adrenaline of the game and its events had long passed left their system, leaving them a bit sober for the most part.
"So when did you talk to Crono about the engagement? Even better, when did you plan it?" Lucca asked, breaking the silence.
Patrick shrugged, "I talked to Crono the night I got those tickets before you got sick. As for planning it all I planned this ever since I asked Chris to get me those tickets. Crono and I talked about his relationship to Marle, he told me the dilemma, and I decided to butt in. It's as simple as that." He made a quick glance to Lucca, "I could ask the same of you."
Lucca wagged her finger. Well, if you must know, I thought of it after reading an article in a magazine about how things like proposals and such happen at sporting events. I talked to Michelle and then confronted Marle about it. At first, she thought we were trying to pull one on her, but when she realized we were serious," Lucca laughed, "she was so excited. I doubt she slept a wink that night."
Patrick chuckled, "Great minds think alike I guess. Patrick looked in his rearview, noticing there was no one else on the road. "I'm sort of glad we left early. We left behind a lot of traffic, even on these roads, and I didn't think anything exciting could happen after our little plot was fulfilled."
Lucca frowned, "That's the third time you said something like that. What have I told you about that?" Patrick just chuckled.
For those who haven't caught on, here's an explanation. When someone says, "It can't get any worse," has anyone noticed that it does? Phrases like and similar to that should never be said. Of course, it's too late for these poor characters.
Suddenly tons of lights invaded the road in front, seeming to come from out of no where. The multitude of photon rays invaded Patrick's vision, forcing him to pull on the emergency brake, bringing his dark-blue Buick through a one-eighty turn. When the vehicle stopped, Lucca was gripping her seat, and Patrick was hugging the steering wheel, thanking whoever was listening they were safe. "Well I guess it can't get any worse than that." Lucca had the sudden urge to slap him silly.
With a wall of, now recognizable, headlights, Patrick and Lucca got out of the car and stood next to each other, ready for anything, their vision slowly adjusting. As they stepped out, eyes still blinded, a bit of thunder rolled in the distance. It was a promise of rain and lightening in the worst way. When their eyes adjusted, they realized they were not alone. They stood in front of twenty or so men, all in their mid-twenties to thirties.
One man, the largest of them all, stepped forward from behind the crowd. He was a tall man with a heavy build with that tough look about him. He was bald with scars on his arms and chest from previous fights. He had a tattoo of a black widow on his neck. Obviously, he was the Boss.
The Boss gave a small smile. "Patrick Simmons I presume." Lightening filled the clouds and thunder rolled.
Patrick nodded as Lucca mentally memorized where each thug was, things feeling too familiar for comfort. She had the strangest sense of dejavu. Patrick was a bit defensive, though calm, in his tone, "Who's asking?" The lightening filled the clouds.
The Boss gestured to the thugs, "I am the leader of the Black Widows it seems you have been a bother to my gang for the passed few weeks." Thunder rolled again.
Patrick shrugged, "They've been a bother to me, you know. I don't like being attacked by clowns," Bob and Bart both growled. "Or getting my car almost stolen," Jim and Wayne cracked their knuckles. His eyes narrowed, "And I damn well don't like my date being abducted from under my nose by horny little bastards who deserve to be castrated."
Lucca turned to Patrick suddenly with a questioning look before she spotted another figure-a dashing young man probably in his late twenties with slicked black hair. He wore a white tux. "Ryan" Lucca gasped as a couple of images replayed in her mind. She met him, and he seemed ok, but why did she black out that night? Why was her memory mush but he had her drink in front of her the whole time unless "
"You drugged my drink when you grabbed it from the top," She shouted to the thugs, bringing a group of chuckles. The group obviously found the event amusing, even more so when Ryan gave a small bow. Then, the rain began to pour; the headlights were the only thing allowing both parties to see through the darkness and curtains of rain.
The Boss joined in with the chuckle before he replied, "It's their job, and now it's pay day. I'm sure you understand, company benefits and all." He gave a grin as the group charged.
Lucca and Patrick took defensive stances, and Patrick pulled Lucca behind him, knowing she had no gun, and he didn't want her using her magic. He rushed into the group, having no other choice but to defend himself and Lucca. Reverse punch, middle block, pseudo-chop, cross block, side kick, round house kick. He used an amazing display of martial arts to take out ten of the thugs with one-shot wonders. His training had served him well this night.
"Come on, Patrick, kick their sorry tails! I'll kill you later for being defensive, but just show that Ryan what kind of man you are!" Lucca shouted, jumping up and down. For her, this was more exciting than the baseball game, and she would have charred some spiders if she didn't respect Patrick's request.
It bugged the hell out of her he was trying to "defend" her when she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself although she was slightly exhausted and still recovering from the flu. "If only I had my mallet or something. I'd pound some of these guys into the ground." Lucca continued her cheering/threatening even doing some cheerleader poses.
Patrick knew he was outnumbered, though Bruce Lee would have no trouble. Of course, he wasn't Bruce Lee, but on the other hand, he never saw Bruce Lee use psychic powers. He had sent at least seven of the thugs on their backs with psychic waves of energy. He had thought that alone would make them turn tail and run, but they only seemed to take the pain and charge again.
The fact that he had bested them without touching them did not phase them at all. Either they were just mindless lackeys (which Patrick seriously doubted) or they had expected and known that type of attack would happen. If that was the case, then tons of questions filled his mind, none of which he could answer at the moment.
He had continued a hand-to-hand against the remaining, approximately fifteen. Between keeping some distance between himself and the group and mentally arguing with Lucca why she couldn't help at the same time, Patrick Simmons didn't notice a Black Widow sneak up on him. He shouted in pain as he felt a sharp pain in his back. Someone had hit him rather hard across his back with a metal pipe, bringing Patrick to a state of shock, to his knees, and the mercy of the vengeful group.
It was at this time that the honor of, "kicking a man while he's down" ran through his head as Patrick was assaulted by a fury of kicks. He curled himself into a fetal position, trying to take the blows the best he could by covering his head and trying to move around. He counted at least three cracked ribs and even more bruised bones. He could not help but at least shed a few tears from the pain, but tried not to shout or do anything that would only encourage the assault.
Lucca stood, her cheering done, and her hands by her side in a fuming manner while taking several deep breaths. She wanted to jump in there, to char them to ashes. She didn't just feel upset, she felt infuriated beyond belief. She wanted blood, but only stood and watched; hoping Patrick would give some signal that he was alright before she went ballistic.
After a couple of minutes of the game called "let's use Simmons as a punching bag," one of the stronger widows picked up Patrick and threw him to Lucca, who instinctively jumped back. Patrick hit the road with a thump. He was battered and bruised. Blood was coming out of his mouth, but for the most part that seemed to be a busted lip. His head was uninjured, but his body looked like it had gone through hell and back. Two things Lucca noticed immediately were that (1) he was breathing and (2) he was responsive.
As he lay there on the ground, Lucca looked to the widows, who were laughing among themselves. Lucca's lips then formed a thin smile while her eyes showed the hatred of a very pissed off Lucca Kepler. The night had tired her out, and she showed it, but she still had a fight left in her. She looked to them, mentally targeting them all with a magical attack. She would Flare them all on the spot.
Patrick opened his eyes, his body filled with pain, and the taste of blood in his mouth. He managed to come to a kneeling position and looked up. His eyes fell upon Lucca. She was as soaked as he and probably tired, but she stood strong she was defending him. As she kept her eyes on the Widows, she thought to Patrick, "I don't know why you have to be so damn defensive about magic, but just let me handle this. This is why I have this power. I have it to help others and take care of losers like this. Besides," Lucca grinned physically and mentally, "what's the worse that can happen?"
It was then that a slide show of images popped up in Patrick Simmons head. It might have been due to a hit or two to the head he may have received or the pain he felt messing with his head. He imagined her under a white sheet, totally nude underneath being poked and prodded like some thing because of the magic that coursed in her veins. She lay on a cold metal table in a white room; a tray of instruments had been placed next to her as she lay still deathly still.
There were other contraptions used for measurement, but the overall thought was so chilling, it sent waves of ice through his spine. The same images were of Crono and Marle, of other gruesome experiments because they had been discovered. Magic it was a force that mankind had no right to fool with.
"Lucca," he says forcefully despite the pain. She turned around to face his smile, which caught her off guard. Using the rest of his strength he stood up. He placed his hand on her cheek, feeling the smoothness of her skin. "I hope you can forgive me for this."
Before she had a chance to question, Patrick swallowed the pain and ran before Lucca could stop him though she did bring her hand to where it was earlier in wonder. When he neared the group of remaining Black Widows, he launched himself into the air using his psychic energy. He reached a height of fifty feet and curled himself into a ball as he came down and sailed over the fifteen widows to the Boss whom he intended to take out. Patrick figured if he cut off the head of the spider, the body and legs would die.
One has to think, though, if the lesser Widows weren't too stunned by the psychic blasts which sent them to the ground, what would have surprised the Boss? As Patrick spun in his ball, the Boss smiled and quickly pulled out a pistol and took aim, unfazed by Patrick's inhuman jump. He took aim and shot, hoping for a kill. The bullet entered Patrick's upper right chest area, and Lucca remembered the dream as it flashed vividly in her head.
Instead of falling from lost concentration, Patrick had straightened out in mid-air, hovering. He screamed into the night with intense pain and the next step to Destiny happened.
As the rain poured down, and Patrick's screams filled the night, a miracle of nature and that unknown occurred on the night of June 20. The following events occurred in a span of a matter of seconds, though time seemed to slow down for Lucca Kepler as she watched. A bolt of lightening leapt from Heaven and struck Patrick, but instead of being burnt, he absorbed it and took the energy into his own battered body before releasing it, initially as a sphere of white energy, which surrounded him like a shield. The sphere then grew to a giant column of light. It was a column of pure electrical energy spanning a football field, and time resumed to normal.
Screams of death rang out as Widows were fried with heat and pure energy like a spider in a light socket, each one being burnt to ashes in the literal sense. At the same time, the cars and surrounding vegetation were left alone. When Lucca opened her eyes, forced to close them from the blinding light, the first thing she noticed was that the rain had stopped and the sky was clearing up. She looked around to see no one there beside Patrick and herself. Patrick was slumped on the ground, bleeding from the bullet wound. There was no trace of the gang ever being there minus the vehicles they owned.
Lucca adjusted her glasses, muttering, "Impossible," several times as she crawled to him, her knees becoming slightly bloodied from the uneven asphalt. When she reached him, she sat next to him, staring. "Impossible that was a controlled magic attack. He couldn't have done that." She shook her head, "That looked like Luminaire, but it was different. What the hell "
She immediately came to her senses, and ripped a piece Patrick's shirt off. She applied the damp cloth to the bleeding wound. "What can I do?" and "Where do I go from here" were questions on her mind. She stayed like that for a few minutes, keeping the pressure up to slow the bleeding at the least. Finally, as she turned to her right, Lucca saw a pair of headlights coming down the road. She stood and began waving, the headlights behind her at least showing her silhouette down the road. She flung her arms to draw attention as the car approached to hopefully give them help.
A man with night-black hair combed neatly back hovered at least sixty feet in the air, having watched the show from below. He smiled an evil smile, his appearance totally dry, not having been wet at all. A few drops of water fell to the ground as he dropped the shield he had been using the entire storm.
"Very good, Loser, you're actually living up to your bloodline." He gave a short laugh, "Now let us see what you do when you finally realize what power you hold. Will you deny or accept? Oh, the possibilities they might drive you to insanity."