Parasite: Part 2, Chapter 5
Crying out loud, the inventor swore, putting a freshly cut thumb into her mouth.
Tentatively approaching Luccas workspace, the amphibian swordsman asked, Might I assist thee, Lady Lucca?
Thanks, no, she answered with a smile, trying to alleviate the last few minutes of frustration. Making her way through the intricate mesh of wiring within the parallel Robo was a lot tougher than she had anticipated.
Frog eyed the still form of the mechanical man. Tis quite a set or armor that requires thine attention so completely, he remarked.
Well, Im worried more about his insides, she replied, inching her knees closer to the android.
The knight errant blinked. Insides? With such gadgetry? he queried, referring to the various tools she was using and the parts she had already removed.
Lucca stopped working and sat back on her feet. She regarded the question with a second or two of confusion before realizing what it was that had confounded her friend. Uh, actually, she began, resting her chin in her hand for a moment. This metal isnt armor as much as it is Robos skin. You see, hes a robot; hes made of metal parts instead of flesh and blood like we are.
Narrowing his eyes in disbelief, the fighter regarded the quieted robot for a moment. A man made of metal throughout?
Yes, the scientist continued. Almost everything we have inside us has been replicated inside him using artificial parts.
And he lives like we do, Frog observed slowly to himself, sidling up to Lucca and crouching to peer inside the automaton. Incredible.
Lucca nodded, and allowed the swordsman another minute or two to inspect Robos interior. He finally broke his stare, realizing that he was in her way. Mortified, he shuffled away as she resumed her assessment of the work she would have to do.
A startling clap and whine informed the occupants of the End of Time that the Epoch had returned. The first to exit was Crono; he leapt onto the runway and nearly stormed past Lucca and Robo, lazily dropping the Sun Stone and chunk of Dreamstone beside her. He proceeded to push his way through the door to the room that had previously held the Timegate light pillars before Marle made her way onto the stone courtyard, with Meridio following closely behind.
Marle greeted the occupants with a friendly smile, either unaware of or unaffected by the mercenarys uncomfortable nearness, until she realized that the young swordsman had quickly disappeared. Frowning in thought, she nearly asked about his whereabouts, but, noticing the still-swinging door to the Timegate room, started in that direction.
The inventor had been observing both the boys attitude and the way that the remaining travelers had entered the area. Quickly standing after Marle passed by her, so as to separate the princess from the man who stayed diligently at her back, Lucca picked up the hunk of red rock at her feet, pierced a look through the back of the young heirs head and declared:
If you dont mind, Id like to ask Crono something about this Dreamstone.
The Guardian princess halted and, after hesitating, stood aside and allowed Lucca past. She then moseyed towards the light pole against which the Guru of Time slept and stood approximately between Frog and Meridio, who eyed each other suspiciously as long as she was not looking.
Glancing quickly towards the Timegate room, Meridio crept up beside Marle and began to ask, Are Crono and Lucca well
She glanced at him, then looked back to the room, then chuckled and, replied, No, of course not. Musing for a second, she added with a smile, Theyre almost related. Theyre like brother and sister.
Slowly creeping through the doorway, Lucca was careful not to make any noise as she approached her childhood friend. Crono was sitting in the center of the unfurnished room, having assumed a sort of Lotus position, and slouched forward slightly, leaning his hands on his knees. He gave no indication that he knew she was there as she walked slowly to his side and sat next to him, pulling her knees up to her chin. Knowing that he would not say anything, she let a few minutes pass before speaking.
Something bothering you? she queried obviously.
He exhaled a long sigh through his nose and, still facing forward, responded, Whats the point of all this?
You know the answer to that; thats not whats the matter, she said flatly as she stood and walked towards a corner of the room.
Why didnt I stop him before? the swordsman recalled.
You mean Ozzie? Stop blaming yourself for that, she rebuked, We all let him go. It took a mere moment to realize that he was not going to offer any more thoughts without being prompted. She proceeded.
Look, this seems kind of hopeless for all of us. We just finished destroying one monster and now we have another around thats almost as bad; we all realize that this looks like a vicious cycle. Maybe in some way or another things are supposed to end up this way. But we kind of started this one, so we have to find a way to end it.
He gave no reaction. She looked directly into his eyes; she had neglected to do so before. A stare that seemed dead at first glance actually held a much different air. The young mans eyes bore a kind of despair that clearly had nothing to do with what she had said, for the emotion in them was far too intense. Her words surely would have had an effect on the boy, had she been talking about what was truly on his mind. In her loss in the ronins visage, she folded her arms and thought about what Crono might have gone through in the time between the recovery of Robo and his latest return. She remembered the odd proximity that Meridio held to Marle when the two disembarked the Epoch. Walking in front of the lad, Lucca put her hand on his shoulder and spoke frankly:
Im not sure if I trust that guy anymore, either, she stated, recalling her earlier attraction towards the mercenary. But its too late to worry about that. He wouldnt let us leave him if we wanted to, so hes part of the team for now, like it or not. But dont let it get to you; this will all be over soon.
The young swordsman slowly brought his eyes to his friend; it was the first time that he moved since she entered the empty room. She smiled as encouragingly as she could, but held little hope that his mood would improve simply because of her supportive expression. After a nigh awkward pause, the tension in his face melted and he smiled back. It was a weary smile, but for Lucca it was progress enough.
Lets go, she offered, motioning for the door, Weve got work to do.
Cronos present, although still altered because of the Curse of the Mystics, bore a much more pleasant atmosphere than the parallel future and a warmer climate than the prehistoric era. Trekking from the southern continent to Truce was less of a trial in the comparatively desirable conditions; though they said nothing of it, each of the three children took a moment to breath in the aromas of the surrounding vegetation that they had not realized they had missed for as long as they had been gone.
Is there any way to fix the Epoch? Marle finally queried to the air.
Lucca, having take the lead of the trio, answered as if she had memorized a response. I dont have the right materials to replicate the broken wings. Well just have to make do with it the way it is; we have other things to worry about.
The princess jogged to keep up with Crono, who had quickened his own pace to catch up with the young scientist. Are you going to restore Robo? she asked.
Of course, Lucca answered. You two can look for Melchior on your own.
But will we need Robos help once we have these pendants made? Marle pressed.
Wouldnt hurt to have a back-up plan, would it? The inventor sounded like she was nearing irritation.
I guess, the heir concurred.
The now-feeble mountain range that used to house the Magic Cave proved little challenge for the three to round. As they reached the top of a squat hill near the base of the range, a strange sight greeted their eyes. Miles off, at the foot of the Denadoro mountains, stood a grouping of buildings and houses. A city.
What is that? Lucca inquired, mouth agape.
Staring at the town, the other two offered no reply until Marle finally said, The people must have moved a city from somewhere else. Its like Truce moving west because of Helminthes.
Yeah, but its still weird. We just saw Sandorino destroyed yesterday, and there was never a city here before in this era.
Descending the hill, all three adventurers found themselves staring at the oddly-placed city. At first, the burg had an invitingly familiar look to it, as if it was a reincarnation of the old Sandorino village. The longer they looked at it, however, the more the trio felt mutually uncomfortable by its presence. In part, they were reminded of the city that stood there centuries ago, and its destruction at the hands of Helminthes. But, before they reached the bottom of the grassy hill, the inventor broke into a run, dashing towards the perplexing town.
Crono noticed this first, and started to run himself. Marle swiftly caught up with the boy and passed him, trying to catch up to Lucca.
Whats the matter? she called out.
Hurry! was the only reply the young lady offered.
Marle persisted. Why are you running?
Angrily, Lucca halted herself, and forced composure as she faced her companions and spoke.
Dont you remember what Melchior told us about Helminthes? He rises every five years to attack our cities.
Yes the princess assented.
Well, the last time we fought it was the first time it was let loose. And when was that?
I guess it was yesterday but in the year six hundred, Marle recognized.
Right, the inventor explained, And that was almost exactly eighty five-year periods ago.
So youre saying Crono began.
If its not out somewhere now, it could be at any moment. We cant afford to stall! Lucca yelled as she resumed her run.
Wait! Marle called. Her friend stopped, clearly irritated and unwilling to hide it. As long as were so close to the Epoch, shouldnt we go back and get our friends in case we run into him?
Youre right, Lucca hastily agreed. And we can get Robo and take him straight to my home for repairs.
The Guardian heir hesitated for a second due to the scientists odd use of the word repair, but dismissed the abnormality and began to lead the way back to the crippled time jet.
No, wait, Lucca beckoned before turning to Crono. You should take the stones and go look for Melchior; we can do this ourselves.
Glancing uncertainly at the two young ladies, Crono tried to find some sort of protest, but Marle cut off his attempt to speak.
Dont worry about us; well be safe with Meridio and the others.
The young swordsman wrenched his expression all the further, but Lucca grasped his shoulder and forced him to turn around. Go, she urged. Were fine.
The two girls ran off faster than the boy left on his own path. Placing a hand on the pouch at his side that held the Sun Stone and Dreamstone, he started off towards the odd city, and did not break into a run until he found it necessary in order to get his mind off of his friends, and, moreover, the man with whom they had recently decided to associate.
The two stood nearly as far apart as possible, but the stone courtyard that inhabited the End of Time provided insufficient room between them. Although Frog kept his back to the mercenary, he was well aware that Meridio was staring at him. The longer they seemed to remain in silence, the more palpable the tension between them became. The knight errant could almost feel the man holding back a derisive snort; he widened his grimace.
Meridio had grown accustomed to the clamor that was harbinger of the Epoch. He stood his ground on the runway to the machine as it appeared and the young princess leapt onto it. Greeting her with open arms, he declared: Your Majesty, youve returned so soon?
Its just Marle, the heir corrected as she sidled past him. Were going to need your help; were in a hurry.
Whatever I can do to assist the royal family, he offered.
She smiled nervously and edged towards the motionless robot. Facing a sullen-looking Frog, she stated: We need to take Robo with us, and quickly.
The knight errant snapped to attention and apprehensively started towards the metal form. Jogging quickly opposite Marle, the mercenary reached Robos body first and turned around to Frog to mutter loudly:
Why dont you take the other side so Marle doesnt have to carry this?
Hesitating and vainly trying to force a smile, the amphibian walked next to Marle and meekly waved her aside. She stepped back and guided the two as they hefted the massive android up and over to the runway near the time craft. Meridio ambled into the Epoch and hauled the automaton into the back seat of the vehicle before taking his own seat next to it.
Are you coming, too? Marle asked the diminutive swordsman as she paused on the runway.
Shooting a sideways glance at the mercenary, Frog answered flatly: Nay. Ill not fit along with the metal man, and thou had best not test the extent of Epochs injuries. Go with Fortune, Lady Marle.
She stopped for a moment to search the swordsmans unnaturally dismal expression, but, at Meridios insistence, she hopped into the front seat of the time machine and sent it through the fabric of existence.
The small knight took a step closer to the edge of the runway after watching her leave. May the Almighty keep thee, he whispered, I doubt that I could.