Parasite: Part 3, Chapter 8


By Glarryg

“How in blazes are you alive?” Ozzie bellowed angrily at the lad from Robo’s iron grip. Crono ignored the green mage, instead focusing his attention on Helminthes as the beast recovered from the shock of the trio’s attack. A crude wooden splint had been tied around the boy’s right leg, but he still looked to be having trouble standing. Taking a moment to witness the young swordsman’s debility and lack of balance, the fat Mystic burst into a fit of laughter. “You expect to challenge Helminthes in your shape? You must be joking!”

Near the foot of the stairs, Meridio picked himself up and snickered at the pallid youth, who was leaning against the wall to prevent a fall down the flight. “What do you think you’re doing here?” he sneered in amusement. Receiving the same treatment as Ozzie, he snorted contemptuously at the boy.

Rather than speak, the ronin straightened his mouth into a half-smirk and casually adjusted the bright red monarchial pendant that hung from his neck. Stealing a quick glance to the entrance of the throne room, he all but winked at the Guardian princess. Hands folded, she smiled widely and fought back tears of elation.

Calling from the west side of the chamber, the diminutive Frog declared: “We endeavor to end the plague that is Helminthes.”

“You don’t have a chance against Helminthes,” Meridio scoffed, jabbing a finger at the recovering flatworm.

“I’d hate to say it,” Lucca admitted from beside Marle, “But Meridio has a point. We lost one of our pendants; you three have no way of injuring it.”

Keeping his eyes to the beast, Crono explained: “The pendants are fake. They add an extra step to the technique that doesn’t need to be there.”

“Really?” the mercenary confirmed with genuine intrigue.

“Care to see how it works?” the young man boasted, pushing himself off from the wall and stumbling towards the railing.

“Go ahead,” Meridio chuckled, waving a welcoming gesture towards the monster as it stiffly turned towards Crono and snarled angrily.

Breathing a preparatory sigh, the swordsman positioned his feet wide apart and drew a closed left fist to his side, directing it parallel to the ground. Placing his right hand in front of his face, he extended his first two fingers between his eyes as if using them to aim at the creature. Clamping his mouth tightly, he focused heavily on the great worm before him. For a moment, he stood, drifting lethargically to the side and clumsily correcting his balance. The monster stared at him, slowly arching its back as if preparing to strike.

What almost appeared to be heat rising from the marble steps surrounded the boy and effectively clouded one’s ability to identify him. The blurred shape of Crono reared back slowly, and in an instant a violent green aura split the air around him with a shrill hiss, enveloping him and seizing his muscles with a quick spasm. As soon as he was engulfed by the mysterious energy, he leaped forward and hurdled the railing of the staircase. His frailty seemed to wash from him as he dashed towards Helminthes. With a hollow roar, the best jerked its head at the boy and spewed a conjured torrent of water at him. The ronin dodged the attack effortlessly, rounding the hole that the worm had punched into the floor; he charged one of the beast’s lower segments and drew a sword.

Planting the blade into the beast’s hide, he threw an immense shockwave in the direction of his attack. With a terrible rumbling, Crono drug the weapon through and across the creature’s frame. Releasing the sword, he continued his run and spun around at the foot of the left staircase. Wasting no time, he faced his opponent and rushed Helminthes again, grasping the buried sword and twisting it upwards. With a superhuman leap, he yanked the blade from the flatworm’s hide and landed beside Ozzie, upsetting the balcony as his feet landed heavily. The Shigenki aura dissipated as he stood straight up, absently ripping the splint from his leg as he watched the effects of his assault.

Beginning an ascent up the staircase, Frog paused at the display and remarked: “Zounds; such power… in the hands of mortals…”

Struggling against Robo, the green mage blurted, “How did you do… who do you think you… what are you doing?”

The youth tossed an emotionless glance to the wounded giant. Helminthes staggered to maintain its posture as its gaping injury surrendered its innards. Gurgling in agony, the monster relinquished itself to using only the segments that existed above the gash. Its length had effectively been halved. Crono confidently took the weapon he had been holding and returned it to the sheath at his side. Catching sight of the blade, Ozzie stammered:

“Th-that looks like the Kali Blade! But it’s somehow different; how did you find it… and amplify its energy?”

Regarding the weapon, the boy remarked: “Time travel.”

Grinding yellowed teeth, the portly sorcerer swore, “You’ll regret messing with me, boy; Helminthes is far from dead. He won’t go down that easily.”

Disregarding the magician once more, Crono scaled the banister and leapt down towards the great flatworm. In mid-air, he summoned the mystical Shigenki energy with a thunderous crackle, and seemed to plummet faster as a result. Aiming his feet at the creature’s back, he drove into Helminthes before the beast could twist itself around at him, emanating a large pulse of energy into the air that agitated the palace walls and floor. Pushing just above the wound in the monster’s underside, he forced Helminthes to split into two pieces. A previously serious wound had opened far more, and the worm’s insides were nearly squeezed out under Crono’s trajectory.

Collapsing weakly, Helminthes groaned as the youth leapt from its back. Crono landed deftly at the creature’s side, not far from where Marle and Lucca stood, watching the battle intently.

“Go, Crono!” the inventor cheered. Marle stayed a few paces back, still keeping folded hands pressed to her lips. Her misty eyes never strayed from the lad, and she remained speechless.

The young ronin smiled warmly to his comrades, then increased his focus on the Shigenki powers that coursed through his being. His visage once again turned piteous as his very image seemed to flicker out of sight amidst the powerful green radiance, and he charged Helminthes.

Gawking at the brilliant display, Meridio found himself babbling. “So it would figure that such a power wouldn’t need help from charms or magical objects.” Breaking the rusty chain of his Shigenki ornament, he tossed the accessory to the floor derisively and declared: “That Gaspar was an idiot. It would have to be my own soul that would force an energy like that. How could I have missed it?” Taking a defensive posture, he ground his teeth together and muttered to Crono under his breath, “I’ll try you in this, boy.”

The youth continued to lambaste Helminthes as the beast thrashed in pain and tried to attack him with volleys of conjured water. He weaved about it, slamming fists charged with his own ethereal strength into the giant’s head every time the flatworm tried to rise and strike. Without the rejuvenating cyan glow that accompanied most attacks on the creature, it was clear that Crono’s battering was affecting the monster significantly. Each blow threw shockwaves around the chamber, threatening to compromise the integrity of the Mystics’ construction. Dodging out of the way of its mouth and landing a heavy mid-air kick to the beast’s gelatinous eye, he found himself again near Lucca, who continued to cheer him on.

A deep tremor shook from behind the swordsman. The inventor ceased her applause and diverted her gaze to the source of the disturbance. Most of the eyes in the chamber caught sight of Meridio, obscured by his properly channeled energy and infused with a furious black aura. Saying nothing, he raced towards Crono, leaping and drawing a fist upwards to strike the boy.

Before anybody could warn him, Crono spun around, throwing his weight over and into a kick that buried itself into the mercenary’s chest with a blinding shower of expelled energy, throwing Meridio back and into the throne room wall again. Pulverizing rock under the impact of his flight, the man fell once again to the floor. The Shigenki aura left him as a few loose stones landed on Meridio’s crumpled form.

Forgetting himself for the moment, Frog leapt from his perch on the top of the flight. Clearing Ozzie and Robo in one amphibian bound, he darted towards the rightmost staircase and descended it in one jump. Unsheathing the Masamune, he rushed the mercenary and brandished his weapon as Meridio pulled himself up to a knee. Glowering as he pushed the blade against the man’s neck, the knight errant hissed: “Aim not to oust the lad, lest my blade separate thy head from thy shoulders.”

Scowling back at the frog-man, Meridio found himself leaning back until his head had pushed against the wall. Having no opportunity to move, he resigned himself to watching the boy continue his butchery.

Once again drawing his sword, Crono leapt up on the top of the weakened Helminthes’ head and plunged the blade into the back of the monster’s brain. Steadying himself, he took a moment to aim a glance towards the Mystic leader. Ozzie could barely discern the almost bitterly heartbroken expression the boy held through the obscuring Shigenki aura, but he was able to tell what Crono had planned. Stretching his hand out as best he could, he ordered: “Stop! Don’t you dare!”

Diverting his gaze to the front of the great worm’s head, the boy braced himself on the topmost horn of the giant’s crown and, pushing himself forward, cleaved Helminthes in half lengthwise. Carrying the sword through the tough hide of the monster, he drug his blade past its head and into the marble floor. The very structure of the fortress quaked with the force of his attack. As a sickening gurgle erupted from the being, Helminthes seemed to dissolve as it fell apart, giving up its molecular integrity as the supernatural forces keeping it alive renounced their hold on it with an off-putting fizzle. What had been its natural stench increased tenfold, rapidly filling the room with an unholy pong.

Lucca made no effort to stay her excitement at the slaughtering of the flatworm; she quickly abated her applause once she was seized by the horrible odor of the rapidly-decaying monster. Robo added congratulations amidst his efforts to retain the fiercely struggling Ozzie. Crono sheathed his weapon and relaxed his Shigenki energies. Standing not two yards from Marle, he directed a reassuring smile to the young lady. She tentatively dropped her hands and searched for something to say to him. He began to remove the pendant from around his neck when a metallic crash resounded from the back of the room, calling the attention of everyone present. Having thrown Robo off of himself, Ozzie perched himself on the railing of his balcony and aimed an infuriated finger at Crono.

“You think this is the end? You think you’ve won? I’ll show you how that little technique is supposed to be done!” Clenching fat hands into angry fists, the green mage summoned a purple wavering aura around himself. As the banister trembled under his barely-controlled energy, the magician pushed himself off and flew through the air, landing a right hook to Crono’s jaw too quickly for the swordsman to defend against. The youth flew backwards, dragging across the ground until he crashed into the wall.

“This is the end, boy!” he bellowed, stalking up to the lad’s fallen body. Lucca expeditiously placed herself between Ozzie and Crono, drawing her Wondershot and aiming it at the Mystic. Batting the gun from his face, Ozzie seized the young inventor by her am and swung her around, throwing her into the quickly decaying body of Helminthes. She landed roughly in the heap of disintegrating matter.

“He knows Shigenki, too?” Meridio declared, watching as Ozzie approached an injured Crono. As Marle cringed tentatively before Ozzie, the fat mage drew a fist back and growled something that the mercenary could not distinguish. Frog stood in place, muttering curses to himself while he kept his sword drawn to the mercenary’s neck. “Why don’t you go help them?” the man taunted.

“Quiet, you,” the amphibian commanded. “These four souls before thee bear more nobility than thy whole blood-line.”

“What do you know about my family?” the man accused.

“Simply that a life of vengeance is no life to impart upon a lad,” Frog explained.

“You’re wrong; my duty is to my family, and if I have to kill people to fulfill it, then I don’t care.”

Forcing himself to look away as Ozzie effortlessly batted the terror-stricken Marle out of the way, the swordsman loudly continued, “Thy kin sought a petty road; glory is not in standing, but in deed.”

“What do you know about glory, you coward?”

“Only this,” the knight stated as he pushed the flat edge of the Masamune against Meridio’s chin, “That boy and his allies seek a better path than you or I. They long to help the world, even should it cost them their very lives. I gave up my cause for vengeance, but no more. There are better things than the glory of a name.”

“Without your name, you’re nothing,” Meridio attested. “Altruism is fleeting.”

“Mayhap to one who leeches off of others, but nary to the true spirit,” Frog disagreed. “These combatants know better than thee. Watch them, soldier, and behold their success in that which thou name’th unnecessary.”

The fat Mystic had already picked Crono up by the neck, and was about to strike him when Robo charged him from behind. Tackling Ozzie, the android tried to grab him by the arms and detain him as he had before. Growling, the magician reflexively pulled at Robo’s appendages, tearing the right limb from its socket. As the robot recoiled in defense, Ozzie spun around and bludgeoned him with the disembodied arm. An uppercut sent the automaton sailing into a candlestick near where Frog and Meridio stood.

“They can’t win this,” the man pointed out over the clumsy metallic clang. “Why are they still trying?”

“I said before, these souls seek a higher path than thou. ‘Tis not the being that makes one great, but the action.”

“You’re all fools,” Meridio declared. “I already have what I wanted from you people; let me go.”

Releasing his deterrent stance, the knight errant looked contemptuously at the mercenary. “Rather should I die a noble fool than live a petty man. To give’th my life for goodness rather than glory is what Cyrus would have me do.” Ignoring the man’s bitter frown, the amphibian turned towards Ozzie and attacked as the Mystic headed once again towards Crono.

Frog leaped and descended on Ozzie, slicing his immense broadsword down the sorcerer’s back. Recoiling, the magician staggered momentarily under the force of the attack. Bowing forward, he intensified his aura and forced the wound closed. Frog flinched as he watched the gaping cut mend itself, and ended up off his guard when Ozzie retaliated. Meridio followed the pair as they grappled, Ozzie swinging massive fists at the diminutive swordsman as Frog tried to dodge well enough to land a sufficient attack with his weapon.

Catching the sword in the palm of his hand, Ozzie pulled the blade and drew Frog close enough so that he could plant his fist into the knight’s stomach. Releasing the weapon, Ozzie butted his head into Frog’s and sent the fighter to the ground. Every movement Ozzie made seemed to pound against the foundation of the castle, shaking the palace at its groundwork.

Watching the mage, the mercenary found himself perplexed by the feeble attempts by Crono’s friend to down the Mystic. Robo barreled at the green monster again from the staircase, but Ozzie sidled the assault and pounded Robo on the back with both of his fists, sending the metal man into the wall beside Crono. The boy had pulled himself to his feet, and charged Ozzie, infusing his body with the Shigenki energy as he did. Trading punches in blinding flurries, the opponents found themselves at a stalemate until Ozzie abruptly teleported himself behind Crono and delivered a backhand punch to the lad’s torso, once again flooring the swordsman.

Lucca again tried to prevent Ozzie from reaching Crono, but was cuffed out of the way without a second thought. Meridio neared amusement as he watched the fighters try and fail to challenge the Mystic leader. Standing and brushing himself off, he caught sight of Marle as she ran forward and made a sudden attempt to stop the mage. Still using the ineffective pendant to focus, she hastily channeled her Shigenki atmosphere and threw a thin beam of energy at Ozzie; the attack was parried by the magician’s aura, but Ozzie momentarily lost his hold on the devilish purple ether that surrounded him. Summoning the aura again, he dashed towards her and, catching his arm across her chest, slung her downward and into the floor. Meridio noted that the princess had seemed to consciously avoid battle until that point. Yet she had just made an effort to stop a force that clearly had the entire lot of them bested.

Crono jumped to his feet and regarded the enraged Ozzie’s awful display of strength with an air of familiarity. As the purple energy rippled away at the surrounding air, Crono could have sworn that he recognized the essence from another place. Suddenly, Ozzie spun around and charged him again, and seemed to fly through the air just above the floor more than run across it. As the boy hastily tried to channel the Shigenki maneuver, he remembered where it was that he witnessed a similar demonstration. Ozzie’s head struck the lad in the chest, winding him before he could properly shield himself, and in the painful haze he fully comprehended the severity of what was happening.

Sliding along the floor, he gasped for breath and drug his hands to stop his progression. Rolling to avoid Ozzie’s next assault, he drew a desperate breath and, with the little air that he had yelled: “Panlo and Conger!”

While the words fell mostly to unknowing ears, one person picked up on their meaning. Lucca jumped to her feet, robbed a second to gaze at the wrathful Mystic, and blathered, “Oh, no; he’s right!” To the open air, she proclaimed: “Look out for Ozzie! That energy is unstable!”

All present picked up their heads and regarded the statement with astonishment. Ozzie grimly spun around and faced the young scientist.

“Isn’t it?” she affirmed tensely, stepping backwards. “Mystics have trouble controlling that energy, don’t they?”

“Maybe so,” Ozzie grinned severely, “But if that’s the price I have to pay to kill all of you, then it’s worth it!”

Charging the young lady, he slammed a palm into the hasty guard that Lucca threw up and cast the inventor to the floor. Meridio stayed silent, still watching the events from his place near the wall, and saw Crono summon his internal energies for another Shigenki-powered attack. Racing to meet the Mystic leader, he swung a fist at empty air as Ozzie again teleported himself behind the boy, wrapping a meaty arm around Crono’s neck and squeezing the lad’s throat.

Gazing as the green mage threatened to asphyxiate the young ronin, the mercenary furrowed his brow at what had been transpiring. All five of them had tried to stop the sorcerer from killing Crono, and their efforts were all clearly in vain. Their persistence confused him, and he could not help but wonder why it was that they felt it was necessary to threaten their lives for a hopeless cause.

Ozzie hopped into the air, floating as the young swordsman dangled from his stranglehold. He ascended back to his balcony, standing triumphantly on the banister as the boy struggled desperately to free himself.

“You kids never had a chance,” he pronounced maliciously. “I’m going to squash the life out of all of you, starting with this one!”

“Stop it!” Marle blurted. Sprinting towards the closest staircase, she was cut off as something flew through the air right in front of her and tackled Ozzie.

Breaking Ozzie’s hold and pushing both the Mystic and the swordsman onto the balcony floor, the figure took hold of the green magician by the neck. As Crono shook the lightheadedness from himself, he recognized the vicious black aura about the blurred shape of Meridio. With an animal-like scowl, the man pushed Ozzie against the Mystic’s ornamented throne, igniting the mage with a fear unknown to Ozzie in ages. Allowing his enemy to appreciate the terror for a moment, he turned his face to Crono, and, as the ferocity in his countenance melted, spoke:

“You know, Crono, I always thought you were a weak one. The way you keep your mouth shut and let others do the talking for you is pretty spineless. But now I think I get you. You don’t care about talk or glory or anything like that; you’re just waiting for the right fight to come along. Marle said you were trying to put Helminthes out of its misery. It was never a fight, was it? It was like a chore.

“But this Ozzie is different. He is a fight for you, isn’t he? He does this kind of stuff for fun, and takes advantage of weak people. He’s tricked Mystics into giving up their lives for him, when all he wants is to get back at you. As much as I hate Mystics, I can’t see someone taking that kind of loyalty for granted anymore.

“You don’t know this about me, but I’ve spent my life taking the kind of crap like he dishes out, and trying to fight for causes like revenge. Well, you’re better than that, aren’t you? I’ll be better than that, too. I’ve wasted an entire life on ideals like his, but no more.”

Slowly focusing a deadly smirk on the green mage, the mercenary grimly tightened his hold on Ozzie’s neck just as the Mystic was about to speak. “So, you’re unstable, eh?” he queried as he concentrated his hold on the Shigenki technique in order to re-direct it.

Standing painfully, the swordsman peered as Meridio’s black aura reflected itself into a spectrum of radiant colors, cycling through the progression of wavelengths several times before settling on an eerie whiteness. Ozzie intensified the wavering glow around himself and looked to be resisting Meridio’s effort. The entire throne room shook with ethereal tremors while the two wrestled. As Ozzie drew his hands upwards to muster a spell, Meridio threw his weight into the Mystic’s neck with a brutish yell and the white brilliance enveloped the both of them before filling the entire throne room as it crumbled to the ground.


Chapter 9

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