Cid wasted no time as he erupted from the gate, stepping away and scanning the new world around him. He smiled briefly. Back in memory lane. It was the same storage room the others had first appeared in, and the one they had returned to when they searched out Nabat. And yet again, it was empty. But not for long.
Cid quickly drew into his backpack and pulled out a set of clothes, his old uniform. They still had a purpose. He quickly pulled them over his existing clothes, then took off his glasses and began to rearrange his hair, lessening the chance of people recognizing him. Satisfied, he zipped up the backpack and stepped over to the door. Glancing at the panel next to it, he drew the code from his memory and typed it up.
The door slid open, happy with his answer, and he stuck his head out to examine the hallways. Random passersby made up the hall's population for the moment, something easy to blend into. He stepped out and did just that, following the path he remembered that led to the building's exit.
He occasionally saw familiar faces, old coworkers, but they didn't notice him through the disguise enhanced with time. Cid looked over them as he passed, shifting into a thoughtful mood once again; and thinking. About what all had happened since his last trip, the things he left behind, and assured others he had no use for. His rented apartment, his belongings, his job. He had promised himself that he had no reason to stay here, he had no reason not to move on with the others. But before everything, he had had a life here. Whatever he may pretend. And while he was hesitant to call them friends, there were people he worked with that he wondered about.
Obviously, Nabat was going to be okay for a while, or maybe. Time really was messed up. His other colleagues were probably scattered about the workforce. Maybe some had stayed, some had left. Some thought about leaving but stayed. Some wanted to stay, but were forced to leave. It had been too long for him to guess what had happened. Then he thought about Carlisle. Obviously not a friend of Cid's, he had still once been a friend of Nabat. Then he had fallen into the web of corruption and the business world. Personal gain had become his friend, and it easily replaced the ones he had lost. The last Cid had seen of him, he was being led away by the military. And then he had been "killed" by the invasion, no doubt.
Well, not really. That never happened in this reality.
I saw all that destruction and all that panic. But because of one little object, it never happened... Cid's train of thought branched out to the Lavos', Nobody here remembers it, to them it didn't exist. If I hadn't met my new friends, I would be just like them. Living in one straight timeline and not knowing whether or not the one I existed in was the true and chosen path or something altered by the tiniest of things.
Cid stopped his thinking, he was nearing the entrance. He glanced around him, trying to remember the security. None of them were familiar faces. Cid smiled, happy for his luck.
He gave a small wave to the one sitting at the desk as he passed, who ignored him, and pushed open the front doors to step out into his old world. The city. The streets. The cars. The noise. The memories.
He pushed them aside effortlessly and began to chart the path that would take him to his destination. Even if he didn't know exactly where that was.
"Ah, there you are," Marle stated as Lucca stepped into the throne room.
The queen stood and went over to greet her friend as the doors shut, sealing the room. Lucca gave a small glance at the noise, then back to Marle, "Yeah, the guards didn't give me any problems this time."
"That's because I told them to be expecting you," Marle explained.
Lucca looked curious for a moment and tilted her head, "You were?"
"Yeah," Marle nodded back with a smirk, "With Cid gone, I knew you'd be bored."
"Actually," Lucca corrected her, "I'm here for a different reason. Has Crono been around?"
"Yeah, he's, um, locked up in the room."
Marle turned away and headed for the stairway, Lucca following behind. The inventor pressed the conversation, "...Why?"
"It was the only way," Marle shrugged over her shoulder as she began climbing the stairs, "So he won't leave again."
"Couldn't you just tell him to stay here instead?"
"I did," Marle admitted, "Then I locked him up."
Lucca sighed, realizing she would only understand by seeing. The two climbed the stairs in silence, reaching the top moments later. Marle dug a key out of her pocket as she approached the wooden door, twirling it absently through her fingers before putting it in the door. She turned back to Lucca, who nodded. The door opened.
Inside, Crono was still asleep on the bed. Marle glanced outside, through the window to see the two guards still patrolling the escape route. Nothing was wrong. Lucca followed her in, laughing briefly at Crono's condition. "Do we wake him up?"
Marle nodded with a grin, "Of course."
She then proceeded to kick the bed repeatedly, jarring Crono awake. He jumped up into a seated position quickly, glaring at her, "What was that for?"
Lucca stepped into his vision, "Would you rather I did it?"
He focused his sleepy eyes on the other, recognizing her seconds later, "Oh, it's you."
"Yeah, just me," Lucca responded with his same dreary tone.
Crono slid off the bed and tried to stand, "Sorry. Hi, Lucca. What's business?"
"Well, now that you mention it, you've missed the last week or so of business," Lucca reminded him, "But to be brief, Cid sent me here."
Crono glanced over at Marle, wondering what her role in this was. She shook her head, "She hasn't told me this part yet."
Lucca continued, "When we were reassembling the Gatekeeper, we n--"
"You took it apart?" Crono interrupted.
"Shut up, Crono," Lucca continued, without breaking her speaking rhythm, "we noticed that the gauge had been set to Limbo. Even after we had set it to other times to return everybody home. So we think there might be a problem."
"Glenn was the last one through," Marle noted, then added, "Wasn't he?"
"No," Lucca shook her head, "It was Schala. Remember?"
Marle thought back, "I don't know. What did Cid think?"
"He thinks it was her, too," Lucca answered, "But to stay on topic, we need to go into Limbo and look, to see if we might have accidentally sent someone there and not realized it."
"Yeah, that would be pretty bad, wouldn't it?" Crono mused, which broke into a yawn.
"Did Cid already go ahead with his errand?" Marle asked, then remembered, "Oh wait. If he hadn't, he'd be here with you. Nevermind."
"How big is Limbo?" Crono asked, "I don't think we could just search it in a moment's time."
"Or a day's," Lucca continued, "But we do have to look. If someone was sent there by accident, they'll know something's wrong. They'll stay by the gate's opening zone, or head to a place familiar to the others until someone comes to get them."
Marle ran her hands through her hair and sat down on the bed, "I don't know, it's been a while now."
"That's no excuse to not search," Lucca argued.
"I know, I was just pointing that out," Marle replied, "Not an argument."
Lucca turned towards Crono, "Are you in this, too? Or do you have something better to do."
"I never have something better to do," Crono rolled his eyes, "This is the thing I've been looking for a while. A problem to fix."
"Good," Marle nodded, "Then we'll eat here, and then start out. We can form a plan on the way."
Schala awoke in the dark, alone yet again. Silence. Blackness. Numbness. She was left in the faceless void, left with none of her senses. She could have been falling as well, and wouldn't feel the wind rushing around her. If there was any air to rush against her. She might be breathing or she might not be. She tried to move, but realized that that was hopeless as well. She was as much nothing as the blackness around her. Only her consciousness seemed to exist. She accepted this and merely floated, trying to make her mind figure out how and why she was here.
Reflexively, she tried to turn her head to the voice, but realized that that was just as impossible. It seemed to come from everywhere, and she was facing nowhere. There was nothing around her, but she knew that that voice had been Janus'.
She tried to speak, but no sound issued, no voice called to her brother. How had he spoken?
Use your mind. In this world between you have no mouth to speak with.
Janus? she quickly sent out her thoughts, probing for the fellow lost soul.
His voice was as apologetic as always, yet he never answered her question. Never identified himself. She knew however, that he would only do so when he felt it was right. She may know who he is, but he couldn't accept that yet. She quickly altered her thoughts, Am I dead?
Fearing the worst, she awaited the returning voice. To seal her fate with a sentence. She had brought herself to this, after all.
No. This is the realm of Purgatory, between life and death. The buffer zone of the sixth dimension.
How did I get here? Why didn't that thing kill me?
Murasame's powers are sealed. He cannot breach the worlds, merely place you into the point of least resistance. And I believe, he spared you because he has plans for you.
Schala thought on those words, finding her next question. She had so many questions to ask. And apparently she had the time to ask.
What happened to you?
I died sealing those powers. You know that. I'm here because it has a use for me as well. You must realize, Schala, that Murasame is not evil. Though its purpose is disliked, it is necessary. Because of me, that purpose has been altered.
And it needs you to fix it?
I don't know. It has told me so little recently. I think it's merely storing us in here for now, until it needs us. Then it will summon us once again.
Schala tried to nod, as pointless as the gesture was, And we just wait?
That is ALL we can do.
Not all, she sent one final thought, Tell me about yourself, Janus. I've missed so much.
Cid pulled himself out of the truck, waving to the driver as he shut the door, "Thanks, man."
The driver merely nodded and sped away, leaving Cid standing on the side of the highway below a sign. He hefted his backpack onto his shoulder and gazed up at the sign:
Cid smiled briefly, turning away from the sign to look at the western horizon. The sun was quickly being covered by the mountains, it would be dark soon. He would have to rest at a hotel here...If he could. He quickly remembered that he was a wanted man now. The only way he could get money was with his ATM card, but was his account still active? Or had it been removed. He had only been gone for several months, so it wouldn't have timed out. But would the military confiscate it?
Vehicles continued to zip past him, entering and leaving the city he stood at the border of. Though he hated to hitchhike, it had been the only way he could get here fast enough. Along with several other things, he had also taken Lucca's blaster. He could defend himself against anybody who became unruly.
Thinking back to his money problem, he fumbled in the back pocket of the uniform, finding his wallet. Still there, at least. He would just have to worry about problems as they appeared. He took a step forward and entered the city. Hopefully none would.
You're leaving stuff out, Janus, she interrupted his history.
Is that so bad? came his reply, There are things that you wouldn't want to truly know...
Schala thought over this for several moments before replying, It's your life, your choice. Tell what you feel you should. I shouldn't push you so much.
Janus prepared to continue his condensed version of his life, but faltered as he felt the presence of yet another entity within his surroundings. His essence felt out around him to locate the new being, to identify, though he was already sure of what it was. He brushed something and quickly drew back as he felt enormous power at his touch. Schala's essence felt bewildered, she didn't know what was with them yet.
In response, Murasame finally spoke, Are you ready to rejoin me and to learn of my purpose?
Janus would have nodded if he could, but had to settle for a "vocal" response, As ready as it is possible for me to be.
Janus felt his aura waver as if the world around him was fading away. It felt like he was falling, gaining speed as he did so, though he was blind and deaf to what was truly happening. The pressure began to intensify, pressing into him, as if it was trying to compact him into something smaller. He could almost think he heard something howling at him, though he was sure it was merely his mind screaming against the altercation. Then he was finally able to see as a flash of light blasted his eyes, and for the first time in a long time, he could feel something against him.
He opened his eyes and witnessed the world of the living once again. And once again, he began to breath. Quickly, he reclosed his eyes as he began to uncontrollably gasp for air. His body tried to instinctively double over, but his head hit something and he reeled back in pain. He continued to gasp for air in confusion, his hand rubbing at his throbbing forehead.
Don't worry, your body is merely trying to resupply your bloodstream with oxygen. It has been inactive for so long.
Janus reopened his eyes and noticed a thin crooked line in the air in front of him. Still breathing heavily, he reached out to try and grasp the object. His hand stopped as it struck something hard, making a hollow knocking noise. It was then that he realized that the line was a crack, caused by his forehead earlier. He was in a glass container.
Then, before his eyes, the glass began to fuse together, causing the crack to disappear. Janus reached out once again and felt a magical aura around the mending glass, magic. Moments later, the crack was gone, the glass once again a perfect piece. He drew his hand away, wondering what this was all about.
His breathing had evened out by now and he was finally beginning to think clearly. His memories returning, his thoughts coming back to the front. He quickly looked to his left, finding nothing. His neck pivoted once again, bringing his head to the right as he finally spotted Schala; sealed within a glass cylinder, just as he was. Her eyes were still closed, making him wonder if Murasame had brought her back yet.
"Schala?" he called out to her, but the reverberations of his voice told him that it wasn't carrying beyond his cell. He banged the bottom of his fist against the glass, causing another crack within it; he called out even louder, "Schala?"
The crack began to seal itself once more as Murasame interjected, Don't do that. She is fine for the moment, you must give her time, however. Awakening is not instantaneous.
Janus watched as the crack finished fixing itself, then turned back to Schala, wondering how long it would be. Only a minute later, her eyes flew open and she gasped for breath, just as he had. He began to sigh in relief, but caught it when he noticed something approaching from his side. He turned his head towards this new thing, though he could already feel the presence.
He stood his ground and waited for Murasame to speak.
Cid sighed in relief as the machine accepted his card and some money slid out for him. Just enough for a room and a meal. Beyond this, he only had roughly a few hundred remaining within, he would have to be careful how he spent it all. He quickly pocketed the funds and turned away, letting the next man in line take his turn. He plotted out his position in the town and quickly set out in the direction of the port. He would find a hotel in that area.
As he walked down the sidewalk, he began to think how he would reach his objective. Point one, he would have to get a ferry across the waterway. That would cost him about 20 more. Then he would probably have to stop at another hotel at the town below Death Peak; the name escaped him at the moment.
He jumped from his thoughts as the streetlight above him burst into light, signifying that it was quickly becoming dark. Cid doubled his pace, hoping he wouldn't have to walk much further. It then occurred to him that there might not be any vacancies.
What would he do if he had to sleep in the streets?
Cid shook the brooding thoughts out of his head, he would improvise any way possible if things went bad. That had always been his strength. And luckily his weakness wasn't a factor this time.
He had to stop briefly at an intersection, and he stood impatiently, waiting for the crossing light to give him the go. As he watched the cars pass back and forth before him, he began to wish this town had been a bit bigger. Then it could afford to have some cab companies. That would make things so much easier on him. The traffic soon thinned out as the light switched to first yellow, then red. Then the crossing light switched for him and he quickly jogged across and continued on his way.
What do I do about rest on Death Peak?
Cid's thoughts immediately went back to his mission. He had brought plenty of warm clothing in his backpack, but would it protect him if he were caught in a blizzard? Or an avalanche...Cid put the thoughts out of his head. If he wasted too much time worrying about being buried alive in the snow, he wouldn't even follow through with this. Also, as he thought about it some more, it was still late summer, Death Peak wouldn't be so bad at that time of the year.
Cid turned off his thoughts once again as he neared the port. He could see the ocean beyond the buildings before him, though it was quickly becoming invisible in the incoming darkness. He pressed on, now looking for the first hotel he could find. It wasn't long before one came into view. A fairly decent looking one, it would have to do.
He walked to the door and stepped in, flinching at the overly loud bell that accompanied the opening. At the desk, someone was sitting down, reading a book. Nothing interesting, Cid noted, generic fiction.
He quickly walked over, fishing in his pocket for the money.
"Need a room?" the person asked, putting his book face down on the counter.
Cid nodded as he found the money and fumbled to pull it out.
"We don't take checks, so you'll have to pay in--" the person continued, but Cid cut him off.
"I've got money, don't worry," he said as he finally pulled out the amount he needed and handed it to the person.
The person took the money, put it in the register, and quickly removed several more; change. He handed it to Cid and began to pick his book back up, then sighed and dropped the book again. "Sorry," he said.
He turned around and grabbed a key off of the wall, giving it a small glance before handing it to Cid, "Room 137."
"Thanks," Cid said, pocketing the key as well; but the person had already turned back to his book.
Cid turned and left, heading back outside. It was fully dark now, and the light above him had burned out. Maintenance obviously wasn't too good here. He hoped it didn't reflect on the rooms. He walked along the long row of rooms, passing door after door as he searched for 137. Finding it, he put the key into the door, unlocked it, and quickly stepped in. As he immediately spotted the bed, he realized how tired he really was.
He threw down his backpack and fell back onto the mattress, closing his eyes. He had intended just to have a quick rest, but before he realized it, he was asleep.