Chrono Trigger Dimensions Chapter 34
"Does is still work, Lucca?" Marle asked as the young inventor tinkered with the gatekeeper.
"Of course it does. I examined it while you were away blowing up castles." Lucca replied, pushing yet another button.
"Then what's the holdup?" Marle continued.
"I don't completely know how to operate it," Lucca replied over her shoulder, still groping for the correct switch.
"And you invented it?" Crono asked incredulously.
Lucca ignored him.
Marshall shivered and huddled in his cloak, "It's starting to get cold out here. I see storm clouds heading our direction from the north; we'd better hurry and get to that stone."
There was suddenly a bright flash of light and Lucca jumped back, saying something to herself harshly.
"What was that?" Melchior asked.
"Stupid thing zapped me," Lucca replied, leaning closer and inspecting the wiring, "Here it is, the wire's showing through a little here; I must've touched it."
Lucca held the wire for a moment, "Does anyone have anything that'll cover this that doesn't conduct electricity?" she asked, giving Marshall a meaningful look.
"Don't look at me," he replied holding up his hands.
"Oh well, it's not necessary. . .just make sure nobody touches that wire." Lucca said, turning back to her machine.
"You know," Marshall said, not finished yet, "I'm tired of all of the jokes you all keep making about my 'preparedness'."
"Oh is that what you call it?" Lucca asked mockingly, "I remember that guard saying it was 'being armed to the teeth'."
"See? You just can't resist making a joke." Marshall said, drawing himself up.
"Ok, fine. I'll try to stop," Lucca said.
"And the rest of you?" he queried.
The group muttered their own 'sorry's' and 'yes's', Marshall was satisfied however.
"There! Got it!" Lucca suddenly exclaimed unnecessarily as the center of the gatekeeper suddenly burst into blue light.
"'Bout time," Marshall muttered, shivering again in the suddenly cold air.
"Now who's making jokes?" Lucca asked him.
"Lay off, it's a hobby of mine," Marshall replied, avoiding her vocal barb.
"Sure," Cid said.
"So the gate takes us to the entrance to Ioku village?" Crono asked Lucca, making sure even though she had told them a dozen times already.
"Step in and find out," she said slyly.
"If it's warm, I'll go," Marshall replied.
"I do hope we make it in time," Glenn remarked, his amphibious neck flapping unconsciously.
The group all entered the gate. After the last had entered it, the rip in time sealed, sending the heroes into the past.
It started to rain a few minutes later.
* * * * *
Ayla fell to the group, smoke wifting from her body. Above her, Dalton gloated. She looked up weakly at him.
"Not expecting that were ya?" he smirked, "I am slightly stronger than I used to be. . .when you tricked me into opening my own doom. I found an old. . .friend, Nikades. He had such a wonderful device that allowed me to return for revenge.
"Of course, we HAVE had our fallouts before," Dalton continued, indicating his eyepatch, "but I think I've forgiven him. If not. . .well there's hardly a damn thing I can do about it anyway."
Ayla groaned and slumped down.
"Am I boring you? Too bad," he asked in false sympathy, then went on to more important things, "I beat you, where is the dreamstone?"
Ayla lost consciousness.
"Well?" Dalton continued, unknowing of her lack of wakefullness, "I'm listening. . . .I beat you, now tell me!"
He kicked her inert form. Then he noticed lack of wakefullness, "Oops! Sorry about that."
He looked around, then spotted more houses up north, "Onward, my loyal troops!" he roared, enjoying this fully.
The demons snarled and headed toward the bridge in a frenzy. Dalton laughed at there simplicity. Kill. Kill. Kill. With a little snarling and frothing in between.
Then he heard someone yelling behind him.
* * * * *
"What happened!?" Marle asked in shock.
"It appears that we are indeed too late, doesn't it," Magus said.
There was the sound of metal sliding on metal as his scythe was released. The blade swung out with a ring, "But not too late," he continued, "the fires are still burning."
"What fires?" Crono asked, "All of the houses are torn down, not burning."
"Not big fires; campfires. They're still burning." Magus replied.
"I see the demons!" Cid suddenly yelled, nearly hopping up and down in excitement.
"Where?" Lucca asked.
She followed where his hand was pointing. To the bridge. She then saw that the northern half of Ioku was still in good condition.
"They're attacking the rest of the village!" Marle yelled, noticing also, the movement.
There was another ring of steel and Crono was running down the plains toward the city, sword drawn. The others followed drawing weapons as they ran.
They reached the town, not slowing. They had to reach the demons. However, when Melchior yelled for them to stop, they hesitated.
"What is it, old man?" Marshall asked, "We don't exactly have much time to spare."
"I'm sure you know that girl," Melchior said, pointing at a body lying on the ground near one of the campfires.
"That's Ayla!" Marle gasped, running over to the body.
"Is she alright?" Crono asked, as Marle bent over the inert form.
"She's unconscious. I'll stay and take care of her, the rest of you go on ahead. I'll catch up." Marle said, cradeling her ancestor in her lap.
Marshall seemed to think, ". . .Ok, you stay here and help her. But we have to stop this slaughter."
"Let's go," Crono said impatiently, then added, "Take care, Marle."
"See you later, Crono," she replied.
They turned and continued, leaving the homemade paramedic behind. They reached the bridge as the demons swarmed into the village.
Then moments later, they were across the bridge and helping the villagers stop the slaughter.
* * * * *
Ayla opened her eyes to see Marle hovering over her.
Marle saw her movement and seemed elated, "Ayla, are you ok?"
"Yes. No hurt much," she replied, wincing heavily, "There monsters attacking village. You must help me."
"The others are doing that. Who was in charge of the attack, do you know?" Marle continued.
"Bird man," she said groggily.
"Great," Marle replied, "another demon."
* * * * *
Crono beheaded the first demon who challenged him. He then ran into the main fray, stabbing his sword deep into the jaw of one three-legged demon trying to bite his neck.
He drew back his sword as victim number two fell to the ground, dead.
He looked around, making a count. There were around three dozen remaining. Against half that many villagers, plus half a dozen veteran demon-fighters, it was a fair fight.
Fair for Crono and his friends.
He watched as Magus made good use of his backup weapon, the scythe. Magus was still not strong enough to use his magic effictively, but that didn't stop him from causing a body count under his name.
* * * * *
"Not demon, but man," Ayla said.
"What does bird man mean? Who is it? Do you know his name?" Marle pressed.
Ayla laughed slightly, coughing, "No remember."
"Great," Marle said again.
* * * * *
Marshall watched as the last demon was killed. Of the twenty or so villagers, fifteen still survived. It was much worse down south. Overall, there was a casualty rate of around one hundred.
Out of three hundred men, women, and children.
Marshall shook his head in disgust.
"Hey! Those were MY demons!" yelled a voice.
Marshall snapped his head up, thinking of a reply. Finally he yelled up to the voice, "If you want them back, we can always loft their bodies back up to you. Some assembly may be required however."
"Who are you?!" Crono yelled, ignoring Marshall's answer to every situation, talk big.
"Don't you recognize past encounters?"
* * * * *
"I'm not good at guessing games, Ayla. Could you give me a description?" Marle pressed.
"Man under Zeal." Ayla said.
"Nikades, isn't it?" Marle asked, thinking so herself.
Ayla shook her head viciously, "No! Not him. Man with cloth over eye."
Marle tried to think. She knew the man. He was supposed to be dead. He had to be dead. He wasn't dead. It seemed that an old threat had returned to add scorn to them.
"Dalton?" Marle asked.
"Can you walk?" Marle asked.
"Not sure," Ayla replied.
"Here, I'll try something. I never was much good at using magic, but you'll need all the help you can get."
Marle stood and closed her eyes. She willed her energy to envelop Ayla.
Ayla started as she was surrounded by blue light, but calmed down as the soothing light captured her. Slowly but surely her wounds began to close and heal. The burns on her skin faded away slightly, though not completely.
Marle opened her eyes to inspect her handywork, "Not too bad, but can you walk now?"
"Yes, Ayla strong again," Ayla replied standing and taking a few steps without any trouble.
"Then let's see if you can run. We have to catch up with the others fast. They don't know what they're getting into."
* * * * *
"But you're dead," Crono said in disbelief.
"Looks fine to me," Cid whispered to himself, readying his new sword.
Marshall looked at Chrono, then Dalton, "I take it this is another friend of yours?"
"Yeah. . .but more like a 'fiend' than a 'friend'." Crono replied, "How'd you survive, you traitor."
"I'm not the only one returning from the dead, boy. When last I saw your friends, they were strongly convicted that you were also 'dead.' It appears that we have at least one thing in common. . ." Dalton replied cooly.
"Yeah, well it's a long story. I don't know most of it myself," Crono replied, "but I think that after today, death will catch up with one of us."
"Maybe more," Dalton answered.
Magus stared darkly at an old acquaitence. Older than the acquaitences of the others, "As long as you're one of them, traitor."
Dalton cocked his head at Magus, "Who's this? I seem to remember. . .Ah yes, the Prophet! And to call 'me' a traitor."
Dalton's dark blue cloak billowed in a sudden gust of wind. The group looked warily, preparing for something to happen.
Then the wind died.
"Oop, false start. Sorry about that," Dalton said with a smirk.
"I have had enough of this foolishness," Glenn said; he walked forward, raising his Masamune ready for combat.
Dalton continued smiling as the wind started again, this time with more force. Glenn was suddenly swept off of his feet and hurled to the ground. Dalton waved his hand and three fireballs erupted from it. One to Chrono, one to Magus, and the third to Marshall.
Chrono was able to duck the missile targeting him, but Marshall lacked that ability due to size constrictions. The sphere of fire struck him in the shoulder as he tried to duck anyway, sending him to the ground.
Magus waved his hand, sending the fireball after him veering off to the side. Cid ducked reflexively, even though the missile had missed him by ten feet.
A second wave of Magus's hand sent a single bolt of lightning at Dalton. The bolt stopped in front of Dalton, wrapping itself around a blue sphere that had appeared around the once guru. Dalton laughed again.
"I'm not foolish enough to think I can take all of you," Dalton said as a blue gate materialized behind him, "I'll leave you to your own diversions."
"Would you leave the dreamstone behind, coward?" Glenn asked as he stood up groggily.
"Oh, Nikades doesn't 'need' the dreamstone. He has other ways to get the energy needed. Getting the dreamstone just would have been much easier, that's all." Dalton said turning from the group.
"Hey, Dalton!" yelled a voice from behind the group.
Dalton turned around to face the challenger.
Marle stood aiming her crossbow at the guru. As soon as he saw her, she pulled the trigger.
The bolt flew from the crossbow and through the air, toward Dalton's surprised head. Dalton gasped as the too fast projectile closed the gap toward him.
The bolt struck Dalton square in the forehead, splitting the skin and striking the bone. However, the bolt wasn't able to penetrate Dalton's skull, it had lost a lot of momentum carrying the distance. The arrow bounced off of Dalton's forehead, spinning off to the side. Blood seeped out from where Dalton was struck.
Dalton stood stupidly for a moment, then finally collapsed, knocked out cold from the impact. He fell to the dirt face first, a cloud of dust flung into the air from the impact.
The gate to Nikades remained open.
"Marle good shot," Ayla said catching up to the markswoman.
"I think that's the first shot I've fired that has actually done anything important in a while," Marle said, smiling as she ran up to the others, Ayla behind her.
"Who cares? We got 'im didn't we?" Crono said smiling with her, "That 'was' a good shot."
He hugged Marle. After he broke away, he continued, "How far was that? Fifty yards? Sixty? I doubt Marshall could hit something from over 30."
Marshall shrugged, "I don't know, myself. . . .but oh my, I doubt I could hit a mark on the dot from that far like that."
"What do we do with him, though?" Marle asked, modest.
"Should we kill him?" Cid asked.
"You're becoming vicious, Cid," Crono remarked.
"It's the company I've been keeping lately," Cid replied.
"We shouldn't kill him. . .yet," Lucca said, then she turned to Magus, "Magus, how are you recuperating from your excessive use of magic?"
Magus looked at her but remained silent, obviously thinking.
"Dangit Magus, I feel like I'm asking a middle aged woman her age! Just tell me, are you fit to cast magic?" Lucca snapped, impatient.
"If you must know, then yes," Magus replied, his annoyance showing through his words only slightly.
"Is there any way you can seal Dalton's powers while we question him?" Lucca asked, ignoring his tone.
"Possibly," Magus said.
"If he can't completely, I'll help," Melchior put in, speaking for the first time in a while.
"Then as soon as he wakes, we can dig him for information. We need to know exactly what Nikades is going to do with all of that power." Lucca said.
* * * * *
Dalton opened his eye to see his enemies standing all around him. He jumped to his feet immediately, but found that he was bound by rope. He fell over painfully, his feet tied together.
"It's about time," Marshall said, "You two got that 'shield' up?"
"Yes," Melchior said straining.
"Good," Lucca said, then turned to Dalton, "Dalton, could you tell me about Nikades' plan?"
"Sure," he replied.
Lucca frowned. She had expected some resistance. Something that would have required them to use forms of torture to extract information.
"You would so easily turn from your master?" Glenn asked taken aback.
"No one's my master. I do what I want, if it is in my personal interest." Dalton replied.
"Then what do you know about Nikades' 'master plan'?" Crono asked.
"Shhh, Crono," Lucca said, "I'm asking the questions."
"I want to ask some too, though," Crono replied.
"Acting a little childish, aren't you?" Marle asked.
"Kids always get what they want," Crono replied, "At least more often than adults."
Lucca sighed, but ignored Crono, "What is it?" she asked Dalton.
"Thought you'd never ask," Dalton said.
He coughed, then continued, "You see, it all has to do with trapping you all to your doom."
"What?" Lucca asked, curious.
Suddenly, Melchior and Magus were both flung into the air, the shields constructed by them obviously having failed.
However, Marshall understood the implications of what Dalton had said and he was prepared to act when Dalton made his move. He grabbed Lucca and pulled her away as a shadow hand reached out of Dalton and grabbed empty air.
"Damn all of this. It's just a bunch of traps," Marshall cursed as he drew his sword and plunged it at Dalton's chest.
Dalton suddenly faded from view, Marshall's sword struck the ground, digging about half a foot into the dirt. Marshall pulled out his weapon and spun around looking for an enemy.
"It's another stupid shadow!" Cid said disgustedly, "All this time, we thought we had control of him, but he was just biding his time."
"This one better not have a dragon with it," Crono said.
"Bahamut," Melchior corrected automatically.
"Whatever," Crono replied.
"To hell with all of the traps and hiding foes! I wanna fight a real man. . .like the good old days!" Marshall ranted as he looked for Dalton.
Dalton's laugh echoed from around them, amused at the giant's words. But Dalton didn't appear.
"I hate suspence," Cid muttered, his sword arm so taut it was shaking.
Then Dalton appeared in front of the gate. He looked at the group for a moment, then a small hole appeared in front of him. The hole grew larger and a roar erupted from its depths.
A golem crawled out of the gate.
"I gotta run. You all have fun," Dalton said, waving good-bye to the group and jumping into the blue gate.
The gate started to shut behind him.
"Lucca!" Crono yelled.
"I know, I know," Lucca replied.
She pulled out her gate key and activated it. The gate stopped its reduction in size then started to expand again. It stopped once it had reverted to its original size.
"What's that?" Marshall asked in a voice that imitated a curious little boy.
"It's not the time for jokes is what it is," Marle replied, "I hate these things."
"Isn't this what kicked Crono's butt earlier?" Lucca asked innocently.
"Shut up," Crono replied just as innocently.
The golem looked around, confused. Then it attacked the closest target: Glenn.
Glenn jumped out of its reach. After it had swung and missed, he jumped back in scraping its leg with his sword. The golem retreated slightly, wounded.
A crossbow quarrel struck it in the stomach and the golem shrieked in pain. Marle quickly reloaded.
The golem took the moment to prepare for its next attack. It reared to its full height and spread its arms. Balls of energy sprung from it, five in number.
Cid and Marle were struck by one each. They were flung to the ground in an ungraceful heap. The other three struck the ground harmless.
Cid shook his head, miraculously unharmed. Marle however, groaned, a victim of a direct hit. Crono was angered at this and he charged.
The golem dropped his arms, his energies spent. Then Crono was apon him, slashing.
The golem was somehow able to avoid Crono's attacks, and it retreated away from the armed madman. Then it counterattacked, and Crono joined Cid and Marle on the ground.
"One thing you should know," Melchior said, offhandedly, "Don't use magic on it." The golem charged at Magus, who ducked gracefully under its claws. He then jabbed the golem in the jaw with the butt of his scythe. The golem reeled back and Magus drew away, preparing for another attack.
"Why?" Marshall asked.
"It mimics things." Melchior replied calmly.
Cid and Crono stood up, dusting themselves off. Then Crono went over and helped Marle to her feet. The golem had chosen another target, Lucca. As it attacked her, however, Glenn and Magus both attacked its flanks.
"Don't look at me," Cid said, "I can't use magic."
Melchior smiled, "Then you shouldn't have a problem."
The golem swept its hand around, striking both Magus and Glenn. They fell to the ground, both of their weapons still in their hands. Soon they were back on their feet.
Marshall and Cid filled in for Glenn and Magus, both swinging their weapons at the golem, Lucca backed off as it swung at her. After its attack missing, the golem turned to the other two antagonists, driving them back.
Miraculously, it had not been hurt yet. "We haven't even dented the stupid thing!" Marshall said disgustedly.
"I don't think this is a normal golem," Crono replied.
The group surrounded the golem, who looked around itself apprehensively. Apparently, it was still mortal.
"What makes you say that?" Cid asked sarcastically.
The golem suddenly broke into a mad dash toward the biggest threat.
Though he might not be the deadliest threat of the group, Marshall certainly was the 'biggest'. He suddenly realized that he was a target and did the first thing natural to him when challenged.
Marshall broke into a run toward the golem. Both ran toward each other full tilt. Marshall brought his sword around, cutting at the monster's head. However, it ducked the attack and tackled the large man. Both fell to the ground in a pile.
Then the golem was up and running toward another target. This time Crono was the one in mind. Crono raised his sword, amazed at this berzerker method he had never seen a golem use.
The golem ducked, preparing to tackle Crono likewise. Crono decided to dive away at the last second. He braced himself.
Then suddenly, a crossbow quarrel struck the golem in the leg. It lost its balance and momentum and fell facefirst into the dirt, sliding gracelessly across the ground. It came to a stop right in front of Crono.
Crono looked over at Marle for a second, giving her a thumbs up. Then he stabbed the felled monster at his feet. This time, the blow did get a reaction. The golem shrieked and went limp almost immediately.
"Looks like it didn't kick my butt this time," Crono said as he withdrew his sword.
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