You've Come A Long Way, Baby Chapter 10

By Imrahil

“Get up. Get up, now!”

Magus felt a hard kick in his ribcage. He rolled over and opened his eyes. It was very dark, and his eyes were having a hard time adjusting from the bright light of the gate to the darkness of the alley he was now in. The silhouette of an armored figure towered over him, and Magus almost let out a stifled yell. However he quickly regained his composure and stood up.

The armored man swiftly hit Magus in the face, and the wizard hit the ground again. Magus felt his hands be pulled behind him and clasped together. He heard the armored man yell at someone else, and then the separate groans of his companions as they were each punched and bound by the wrists.

“Is this a sword? That’s embarrassing. How’d you plebes get up on Hope Layer, anyway?” Magus was surprised to hear the armored man speak without the awful crackling that he had heard before in his cave.

He felt himself be carried and thrown into a small compartment, and he felt his friends’ bodies pile on top of his own.

“Damned plebes, think they can sleep wherever they want.”

Magus heard a door slam shut, and listened to the footsteps outside of the compartment he was in. Suddenly, an engine hummed to life, and Magus felt the compartment lift off the ground. Magus opened his eyes, only he was unable to see anything. He tried to roll over on his back, and was somehow successful even though his companions were still amassed on top of him. The exertion proved far more taxing than Magus thought it would, and he realized that something the armored man had done to him was causing him to become easily fatigued.

“Marle?” Magus heard Crono’s weak voice. He felt movement, and soon Crono had extracted himself from the pile and had sat down in the corner of the compartment. Marle did the same and helped Lucca remove herself as well. Magus sat up and leaned against the wall opposite of his three friends.

“We have been captured—by my enemy,” Magus said with ragged breaths.

“Gaspar sure chose a stupid place to put us. Why am I so tired?” Crono sounded exhausted.

“Are they going to…kill us, Magus?” the weak voice of Marle spoke.

“Undoubtedly,” Magus answered solemnly.

Magus heard the movement of someone sliding over to where he was sitting. He felt the warmth of someone next to him, and he knew it was Lucca who took his hand. He felt her head fall on his shoulder.

“We are being drained of energy, Crono; it seems to be a power that the armored men possess. I can barely move, let alone cast a spell,” Magus said softly.

“This is it, then? We die because of Gaspar’s mistake?” Crono said feebly.

“Hold me,” Magus heard Lucca whisper in his ear. He put his arm around her and held her close. Suddenly, the vehicle stopped.

“What’s going on?” Marle sounded almost hysterical.

“We can’t lose everything, now!” Crono’s voice sounded pathetic and strained.

The four sat there, in the pitch black, each pair holding on to each other as they faced death together. After almost five minutes of mental anguish, the compartment door slid open.

“Move to the back of the car, plebes!”

The four slid as far back as they could. They could see the armored figure outside the compartment. The man picked up a smaller figure and threw it into the car as well.

“No one drinks in Hope Layer, plebe! A few days in the Cellars will fix you.”

The door slid shut and the newcomer pulled itself up and leaned against a wall in front of the four friends.

“Are yous gonna kills me?” The man was obviously quite drunk, and talking seemed to be too much of a strain for him, and he slumped to the floor.

“I…don’t understand,” Marle said.

“I think we’ve been…arrested by the police,” Lucca said. “But for what?”

“Who knows. Maybe he thought we were sleeping in that alley, or something,” Crono answered.

“Fantastic. Our first day trying to save our world, and we’re arrested by the police,” Lucca said sadly. She gripped Magus’ hand tighter, and the wizard pulled Lucca closer to himself.

The vehicle lifted off the ground once again, and the company relaxed a little more. After a few minutes of silence, there was suddenly a bright flash, and Marle screamed. Her figure sunk to the floor of the car.

“No!” Crono yelled pitifully.

Another bright flash followed, and Crono fell forward.

Lucca looked up at Magus in the darkness, and a bright flash from the drunk on the other side of the car illuminated her face for a moment. Magus saw her eyes full of tears, and her expression was one of fear. Everything went black again, and Magus felt her kiss him deeply, and to his own surprise, he kissed her back with a passion that he had long forgotten. A bright flash illuminated the car once more, and Lucca fell from his lips, limp. Magus gritted his teeth angrily, and felt an intense pain unlike any other. Whether it was the pain from the electrical shock generated by the binding on his wrists, or the pain of losing Lucca, Magus never knew.

* * *

Magus opened his eyes. He still felt weak, but the bindings on his wrists were gone. He quickly sat up and found himself in a room with only one door. There were no lights, and the walls seemed to illuminate the well-lit room on their own. Magus looked around himself and saw his companions strewn about him on the soft floor. There were long benches that lined the room, most likely to be used as beds, and there was a hole in the floor behind one of the benches which was probably to be used as a bathroom. They were in a prison.

Magus stood up and sat down on one of the benches, pondering the situation. It was not long before his companions woke up, one by one. Crono sat up and yawned, and Marle quickly followed. Lucca opened her eyes, but stayed sprawled out on the floor for a while until she finally stood up and sat down next to Magus.

The companions remained silent for a long time, each looking down at the floor. Marle spoke first.

“I thought that was the end,” she said softly.

“We’re okay now. We’ll find a way out of here,” Crono said with newfound hope.

A loud buzzing sound echoed through the small room, and a black screen on the door materialized. It read:

‘Loitering/Resisting Arrest
Two months incarceration with fine
Bail: none’

“What does that mean?” Lucca asked.

“We’re going to be in here for a long time,” Magus said firmly.

The four began to regain their strength slowly, although none of them were able to cast a single spell. They talked for a long time about their past adventures, and about some of their more recent exploits. Crono couldn’t resist looking for an exit out of the room, but after a few hours, he decided that they couldn’t leave without the aid of magic. Lucca laid her head on Magus’ lap and the mage himself fell into a deep sleep. Marle, unable to contain her energetic personality, got up and started to dance around the room, mocking Crono as he looked for weak spots in the floor.

“Wow, there are so many other rooms out there,” she said once while looking out the small window in the door. I’ve never seen anything like – wow!”

She backed up and pointed to the window. Crono looked up and saw the face of a man peering in through the glass. His brow was furrowed, and he seemed as if he were contemplating something.

“Hey! We’re not animals to be gawked at! Leave us alone,” Crono yelled at the man in the window.

The man’s face disappeared, much to Crono’s relief.

Marle spoke. “Wow, that guy was beautiful!”

“What?” Crono looked a little angry.

“Well, he was! Too bad you scared him away.”

Suddenly the door slid open. The four in the room looked up; even Magus had awoken from his deep sleep. The figure stepped into the room, and the door shut behind him.

The man was quite tall, though probably not as tall as Magus. He had very broad shoulders, and he was very muscular. His soft brown hair fell down over his brow, and the light from the room gave a yellow highlight to his hair. He was wearing a blue and black outfit, over which he wore an impressive suit of armor which could rival Crono’s Moon Armor if it hadn’t been for the scorch marks and bullet holes riddling the torso. It seemed to Magus that the man created a strange presence in the room; one of mystery and intrigue. It seemed to Marle, however, that the man was just plain good-looking.

Much to Crono’s disgust, the man walked directly over to Marle.

“Claire. You’re here.” His voice was softer than any of them had expected. Marle turned toward her friends with a surprised expression. Magus nodded his head at her vehemently.

“Er, yes, yes I am,” Marle said, unsure of what to do next.

The man continued. “Why did you leave, Claire? I came back, and you were gone, and I—I didn’t know what to do. Why did you go?”

Marle looked back at Magus and the others, more surprised than ever. Magus motioned for Marle to keep talking with furious hand movements.

“I—I had to. It’s not important why, all that matters is that we’ve found each other again, and I’ll never have to leave again, and—”

“Wait, you’re not Claire. I should have known, the hair should have given it away. You look a lot like her, though, really,” the man said as he blushed.

He began to leave. “You guys sure don’t look like the others around here. I wonder why the warden let you keep your armor. Probably a mistake; I’ll take it now.”

“No! I mean, you can’t.” Marle cupped her hand around her mouth. “I’m naked under these clothes.”

The man blushed with an even deeper shade of red, and was completely unprepared for the blow he received from Magus. Somehow, Magus had silently crept up behind him when he was speaking to Marle. The man fell to the ground, stunned.

“Quick! Search his body for the keys!” Magus hissed.

The four began to search the fallen man’s pockets. Marle repeatedly rubbed her hands along his legs and torso, but one ugly look from Crono made her stop. The four got up; they had found nothing.

“I’ve never met anyone who keeps absolutely nothing in their pockets,” Lucca said, hands on her hips.

“How did he get in here without a key?” Crono asked.

“Magic?” Magus asked.

Without warning, the fallen man sprung to life. He somehow was on his feet again in a flash, and he delivered a powerful kick straight into the chest of Magus. Lucca rose her fist to hit him, but found herself deftly thrown aside by the strong warrior. Crono furiously swung at the man, but his opponent easily dodged each blow. Crono watched the man hit him over and over, with deadly precision, as he dodged each punch and kick Crono aimed at him.

Crono didn’t give up, however. He somersaulted backward, out of the reach of the powerful being. “A little help, Marle?”

Marle had been watching the man’s amazing skills, and she had almost forgot it was her boyfriend who was accepting the brutal attacks the man was delivering. She jumped up and kicked the man in the back of the head, forming a wide crescent with her long, unarmored legs. The man stumbled forward, very surprised, but regained his composure.

Crono didn’t waste another moment. He delivered a powerful uppercut on his opponent and threw out three powerful punches, each hitting a painful pressure point on the large man. Crono saw the man wince, but soon found himself dodging the man’s deadly blows once again.

Crono watched Marle jump up from behind the man and aim a powerful kick in the back of his head. With a flash, the man, without even looking at the girl, ducked and grabbed her ankle, throwing her forward against Crono’s chest. Crono and Marle stumbled backwards and collapsed in a heap against the far wall.

The man turned around and found a fist flying at him. He nimbly avoided it and grabbed the hand of the girl who had swung it. He quickly spread out her palm with one hand and forced her to the ground with the other, bending her wrist backwards until tears flowed from her eyes. Lucca almost passed out from the pain.

The man quickly raised one hand and blocked the kick he knew was coming from his left. He turned around and faced Magus. Magus leaned back to punch the man with all his strength, but his opponent expertly hit the spot directly below Magus’ ribcage at an almost inhuman speed. Magus toppled backward, completely off-balance.

“That’s enough!” the large man yelled, standing victorious over the collapsed bodies of his foes.

“You’re just lucky we were too weak to give you a proper beating,” Magus said through clenched teeth as he pulled himself off the ground, holding his chest.

“Who are you? No plebe knows the skills that you use!” The man was holding his fists in front of himself, in a sparring stance.

“That’s because we’re from another planet, you jerk!” Marle was leaning against Crono, nursing a twisted ankle. Crono had begun to stand up.

“Are policemen allowed to beat their prisoners on this planet?” Lucca asked as she stood up, wiping the tears from her eyes.

“We are allowed to defend ourselves, and I believe it was you who attacked me,” the man said. “What do you mean, another planet?”

“Another world, another earth, another terrestrial sphere; what do you think?” Magus was getting ready to attack the ignorant being again.

“That’s impossible. Our scientists have ruled out the possibility of life beyond our galaxy. There are no such things as aliens.”

“Believe it, pal.” Crono had finally found the strength to stand up, and he was helping Marle sit down on one of the benches.

“Your records certainly don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you’re from another planet. You’re all from the Darkscape, obviously.”

“We don’t even know what the Darkscape is!” Marle yelled. “Can you get me a bandage for my ankle!”

“Sorry,” the man said softly. He walked over to where Marle was sitting and pulled out a small rod, which he waved over Marle’s ankle a few times. He put the small rod back in a hidden compartment in his armor and began to leave again.

“Wow, all better. Hey, wait! I’m sorry for deceiving you, it’s just that we needed to get out of here. We’re on a mission to save our own world, after all,” Marle said hastily.

“I can’t believe you. What you’re saying is impossible.” The man stopped with his back facing the group.

“Can people on this planet…do this?” Crono said. The man turned around.

Crono closed his eyes and pointed at a wall. Electric currents danced up and down his arms, and a tiny static charge fizzled out on the tips of his fingers.

“Look!” Marle yelled. She closed her eyes and tiny snowflakes fell from her fingers.

“Nice effect. I’ve never seen an implant that could make snow. Anyway, I have to go, now, although it’s been nice ‘speaking’ with you—”

Magus sprung towards the man, without warning, and put his fingers on his opponent’s temples. Dark energy flowed from his eyes and a deathly howl curled from his lips.

The large man froze in his place, as if experiencing a terrible ordeal. It looked to the three friends as if Magus had paralyzed the man in place, when in actuality, Magus was accessing the darkest memories of his opponent and putting them foremost in the man’s mind.

Unknown to the onlookers, images of the Darkscape were flashing before Alex’s eyes. He relived his fight with Johno, the large mutant; he remembered the horrifying rape scene he had experienced; and he recalled his intense frustration when he had come back to a hotel room one night, finding it empty. All of these memories surfaced at once, causing several pains stemming from different experiences to combine together.

Finally, Magus let go of the man’s temples.

“How—how did you—” the man fell to his knees, holding his head.

Magus seemed to be out of breath. The effort had obviously exhausted him. He spoke, however. “Encountered an implant that…does that?”

“Who…are you?” The man looked up at the people standing around him.

* * *

“And now we’re here, talking to you,” Marle had finally finished the long-winded story, and Alex was bleary-eyed from the extensive ordeal.

“You all have quite a story. And either you’re telling the truth, or you’re so completely insane, that you believe this story to be the truth,” Alex said.

“Ooo, do you have some sort of lie-detecting device in your suit?” Lucca asked with anticipation.

“Not really. I can tell if people are lying by watching the movements of their eyes and their breath rate.”

“How are you going to get us out of here?” Crono asked.

Alex laughed. “Impossible. You guys don’t even have a bail posted.”

“Couldn’t you do…something?” Marle was trying to sound as seductive as she could.

Alex blushed a little. “Well, according to your account, you didn’t resist arrest, so that would cut your sentence down to three days incarceration with fine or a $200 bail.”

Crono, Marle, and Lucca smiled, and Magus began to look hopeful.

“But I don’t have the money.”

“We weren’t loitering either, though!” Crono yelled.

“I guess, technically—”

“So you’re going to let us go?” Marle put her arms around Alex’s neck.

“Under the circumstances, I—”

“You’re going to release us?” Lucca put one arm around the officer and her other hand on the back of his thigh.

“—will get you guys outta here.”

“Good. Let us leave now.” Magus got up from a bench and strolled towards the door.

The other three got up, the girls shrieking with joy, followed by the police officer. Alex stepped in front of the four and waved his hand in front of the black screen in the door. The door rumbled open, and the group stepped out into the halls.

Alex led them down the lift and through the door to the warden’s office. He punched a few numbers into a panel embedded in a desk.

“There. You aren’t criminals anymore. Of course, you will need an escort back to your Layer. And seeing as how I’ve finished everything here, I’ll be happy to show you to your homes. Computer, temporary warden is leaving to escort civilians home.”

There was a loud click, and the door in front of the crowded group slid open, revealing another lift. The group crowded into the small lift tube and Alex gave the command for the lift to travel to the hangar bay.

Upon arrival, the group stepped into a long hallway that resembled the many others of the Law Center. Alex walked a long way down the hall and opened a panel on the left. A huge door slid open, revealing a very large dark room that housed a magnificent-looking vehicle that rivaled the Epoch.

“A time machine?” Lucca asked, awestruck.

“What? Anyway, I’m supposed to take you back in a prison car, but I think this will be more comfortable. Pile in, there’s plenty of room.” Alex jumped into the driver’s seat and positioned his hands over a small globe set into the dash. The other four took seats next to and behind the police officer.

Alex hit a few buttons on the dash, and the door from which they had come through shut quickly, and the pitch black door in front of the vehicle suddenly flipped open, revealing the dark world outside. Alex’s hand moved over the globe, and the vehicle came to life, raising above the ground, and shooting out into the air, high above the world below.

The occupants of the vehicle were used to traveling at high speeds in the air, and it was instead the mysterious beauty of the surrounding structures that amazed them. The buildings seemed to stem from nowhere, and if one looked straight down out of the car, it seemed as if the enormous intertwining black towers had been built upon the black clouds below. The towers formed intricately curving shapes as they stretched ever upward into deadly looking spikes. Millions of lights clustered on the surfaces of these structures, and accompanied by the mere sight of the hundreds of other flying vehicles, even Magus’ head swam.

Alex drove the speechless crew around and through these structures, amazing them with his driving skill. Without warning, Alex plunged straight down into the dark clouds below, causing Marle to let out a stifled scream. The speed was overwhelming. Crono’s knuckles turned white as he gripped the seat in front of him. Magus’ usually calm eyes flared with surprise.

The vehicle disappeared into the black clouds, and the group could see nothing but the inside of the car for a moment. And then the fierce brightness of an intense light blinded the crew as they emerged from the clouds into another world.

Lucca laughed out loud and threw her hands in the air. “It’s beautiful!”

Crono smiled as well, but Marle remained speechless as she gripped the seat in front of her. Magus crossed his arms and grinned a little, amused at Lucca’s enjoyment of the situation.

Alex turned around. Before, in the layer above, there had been no wind, but now, gusts of air whipped at the group’s faces, forcing Alex to yell in order to communicate.

“This is Hope Layer! It’s a haven from the layers above and below it! This is what Earth looked like before the wars!”

The group looked around and saw that the buildings from above extended downward and into the lush greenery of the ground below.

“These buildings are TALL!” Marle yelled at Alex.

“Most of them are at least five miles high!” Alex yelled back. “I have a room here! I’m going to set us down there!”

Alex maneuvered the vehicle to the ground far below, and made a very smooth landing on a flat, black expanse in the middle of the amazing greenery which covered so much of the land.

The vehicle shut off and Alex jumped out, followed by his four companions.

“I can’t keep you in my room, so you will have to stay here for the time being.” The group followed Alex to an ivy-covered door at the foundation of a towering skyscraper. The police officer waved his hand in front of the door, and it opened. Before the group lay an amazingly ornate room. Huge crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling above intricately woven rugs; there was a large marble fountain in the center of the room, surrounded by statues and a small garden; and an enormous staircase rose upward at the far end of the huge room.

“I’ve never seen anything like this! It makes Guardia Castle look like a shack! No offense Crono,” she said as she smiled at him.

Crono playfully poked her in the side and they continued to horse around like that as Alex led them towards a lift located underneath the massive staircase. He waved his hand in front of it and the lift door slid open. The group squeezed in, and Alex gave the command for the lift to go to floor 817.

Only a few seconds later, the door slid open, and the group walked down a wide, lavish hall decorated with exquisite works of art. Alex led the group down the hall, and opened a large oaken door on the right.

The room inside was extremely luxurious, and the four otherworlders were quite happy with their new surroundings.

After a few moments of settling in, Marle posed a question.

“Hey, Alex, if you live somewhere else, why do you own this room?”

“…I’d rather not talk about that. Magus knows.”

The dark wizard nodded in the direction of the police officer. Obviously, more had occurred between them than the rest of the group had thought.

“I must get going, but I will be back here in a few hours. If anyone comes around, Marle, your name is Claire, and this is your family. Goodbye, for now.” The police officer glided out of the room before anyone could say anything in response.


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