The Sentinel Chapter 6

A Tour to the Past

By Kay

"I really don't understand it," Lucca mumbled through a mouthful of pancakes the next morning. "There just…was nothing to see!"

The two friends were seated on opposite sides of Crono's kitchen table. Lucca spent the night at Crono's house, since it had been late and he lived slightly closer to the castle than herself. His mother stood silently over at the sink, washing the dishes. Lucca took advantage of the running water to vent her frustrations.

"For a while I was really worried that Marle could be having a psychological problem…" she went on. "…But, just looking at her, I have a feeling that that isn't the case. Her body was causing her to act the way she did last night. I was certain there was something physically wrong when I took her pulse. It was fluttering like a mouse's."

Crono looked frightened. His pancakes sat mostly uneaten in front of him.

"What do you think it could be?"

Lucca shook her head.

"I took the medical books out of your backpack, but I couldn't really find anything that matched up with most of her symptoms. The things there listed blood problems - low iron, low blood sugar…you know, but when I tested her everything was fine."

He pursed his lips and looked at her gravely.

"You still have the Epoch, don't you?"

"You know, I was thinking the exact same thing. We should go to 600 A.D. and find Robo. Then, we'll have to take a trip to the future with him."

Lucca sighed and observed the wintry view from a window above the kitchen sink. His mother had stopped washing the plates and was letting them soak while she wiped off the counter. Crono got up from his seat and walked over to her.

"Mom, I'm going over to Lucca's house. She needs… help setting something up…so, I might be there a while," he told her.

"That's fine, hun," she replied. She stopped her cleaning and put one hand on her hip. "You know, I heard the most dreadful thing when I went to the store this morning. Did you know they think the princess has been poisoned? Goodness! The Guardian line has lasted successfully for centuries. Who would poison the poor child?"

Crono shook his head.

"I think that's just gossip, Mom. She's probably just naturally sick, and everyone's jumping to a conclusion…so, why don't you tell people that, if you hear them talking."

"Yes, I agree," his mother said. "Gossip like this isn't to be taken whole-heartedly..."

His mother returned to scrubbing the counter top. Crono walked over to the sofa where their backpacks were laying, and pulled out his cloak and mittens. After getting dressed, he walked over to the fireplace and dismantled his rainbow sword from the wall. The weapon was still in its sheath. Crono pulled it out slightly, and saw the familiar, prismatic sheen through the opening. Reassured, he hooked the scabbard onto his belt. Lucca had quickly gotten dressed and strapped on her backpack. Crono then grabbed his pack from the sofa and flung it over his shoulder, following his friend out door.

"Bye, Mom," he called.

Frigid morning air greeted the two friends as they stepped outside and marched down a shoveled path in front of Crono's house. The sky was a dull, pale gray, and would probably bring more snow sometime that afternoon. Walking back and forth from places would soon get difficult. Crono thrust his arm through the second backpack strap. He felt the need to voice a thought he had been afraid to bring up from the beginning.

"Lucca…what if we don't find anything? Or what if…Marle doesn't have a problem that can be cured?"

Lucca looked up at her friend sadly.

"That is a possibility…Crono."

Crono scowled. It wasn't the answer he had been looking for. Before he could mask his irritation, however, Lucca caught a glimpse of his face and brought herself to a halt.

"Look, Crono," she warned, fixing him with piercing gray-green eyes. "I may be smart, but I don't understand everything. You expect me to be some kind of…of - god, or something. I don't know what's wrong with Marle, okay? I don't know any more than you!"

He frowned harder. Crono felt a hot flare of anger ignite inside him, and struggled to repress it. Lucca couldn't possibly be responsible for knowing what may happen to Marle, but his fury seethed anyway. It didn't seem right. They had all saved his life before, now why couldn't they save hers? The princess was certainly more important - and she was merely sick! It wasn't as if they had to perform a miracle to bring her back into with him. Crono shivered at the memory. He swore he couldn't let that happen to Marle…the things he saw, experienced…

"Sorry, Lucca," he muttered, his jaw clenched tightly. "Lets just go."

She gave him one last reproachful look, and continued to walk behind him.

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Robo sat wearily against a thick tree stump. He had been working in Fiona's forest since early in the morning, but due to the cold, he was not operating as well as usual. His reactions were slow, and he struggled to dig through the ice that had cemented over the ground. So far, he accomplished very little. After a few moments, he reasoned that he should probably move inside to warmer temperatures, instead of resting in the snow. Robo's arm and leg plates squeaked and groaned as he pushed himself into a standing position. He knew he was battered and well used, but vowed to continue working until he could no longer function.

The robot made his way through the maze of trees back to Fiona's villa. Smoke was rising from two chimneys, and the image of her snow covered home surrounded by the frosted trees looked quaint and peaceful. The woman was grateful for Robo's company. Her husband had died during the war, and if Robo were not there she would be trying to replant the revered forest all on her own - and with little success, the robot knew, from his time traveling.

The icy snow crunched noisily under the android's metal feet. He walked up the back stairs and discreetly opened the door, being careful not to alarm the lady.

"It is me, madam Fiona," he called out in his canned, mechanical voice.

When he didn't hear a reply, Robo took curious steps around the kitchen to the front of the house. Coffee was brewing by the stove. Wherever Fiona had wondered off to, it hadn't been for long.

Robo turned around the corner of an interior wall and emerged into the front room of the house. There, he saw the woman standing by her doorway in her robe. Fiona didn't work in the forest during the winter. The front door was cracked open and she spoke excitedly to whoever was behind it. The robot clanked over to the woman inquisitively.

"Who is there, madam Fiona?" he asked.

The woman stepped aside, smiling slightly. She opened the door and allowed the two guests inside. The air vents on the robot's sides popped open; air hissed outward, resembling a gasp in surprise. Robo threw his hands in the air delightedly.

"Lucca?! Crono?!" he exclaimed. He was bewildered at seeing his time-traveling friends once again.

"Hey, Robo!" Lucca chirped happily. She rushed over to the android and gave him a quick inspection. "Hmmm…looks like you're rusting up a bit…"

"Well, I have been working hard to restore madam Fiona's forest,"

The robot looked at Crono.

"Crono, it is good to see you!" he greeted. Robo's eyes flickered when he detected the boy's weak smile. "Oh…is something the matter? I should have known…this visit would most likely mean business…"

"Well…back in our time, Marle has gotten sick," Lucca explained to him. "We need your help to find out what is wrong with her."

"My help? What do you wish me to do, Lucca?"

Lucca scratched her head.

"Um…well, is there any way we could do some research, in the future? You know - run a search through a computer…or something…"

The robot contemplated for a moment, then replied.

"Certainly, if we go to 1999 A.D. As you know, my version of the future does not exist any more…and I'm afraid I don't have any conclusions of what that new future may look like. But, the future in 1999 A.D would be the same as if Lavos never existed. All of the facilities should still be where they were before. With historical knowledge I have programmed in me, I am familiar with technology that is dated compared to my time...I believe it should serve our purpose. "

"Great!" Lucca shouted, clapping her hands together. "See, Crono? Lighten up. The future technology is much better - we'll certainly be able to find out what is wrong in 2000 A.D!"

Crono nodded, not wishing to argue with his friend again.

"Madam Fiona, I will be parting with my friends for a short while. I expect to return soon," the robot stated.

"Good luck," she wished, "Take all the time you need. Little work can be done in this weather."

"Thanks!" Lucca called.

The two teenagers and oversized robot hurried out the door and climbed into the time machine. Crono and Robo sat in the back, while Lucca positioned herself at the controls.

"Hang on to your shorts!" she yelled.

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Sabine groggily pulled her head up from where she slept at the Princess's desk. Her lower back ached from being hunched over at the desk all night. She rubbed her eyes sleepily. She hadn't meant to fall asleep in the princess's room, but it didn't matter - her own bedroom door downstairs was locked, and she knew the servants wouldn't come to disturb her. Her father and his mistress wouldn't expect her to come out for a while, since she was known for sleeping in rather late. The only problem would be getting into her room before anyone saw her.

Sabine glanced across the room at the sleeping princess. She appeared tranquil and at ease. The girl figured she would be fine as she slept, and decided to make for the passageway. She gathered her dress, and opened the armoire doors with great care so they wouldn't creak. Despite her efforts, she banged her elbow on the trap door as she tried to swing it shut. Biting her lip while the odd tingling sensation shot up her arm, she listened closely to hear if the princess woke up. When she heard nothing, she began stepping down the passage stairs.

The space was tall enough for her, but she remembered how Crono's peculiar spiky hair had lightly swept the ceiling as they all climbed up together. In width, it was very narrow - little more than one arm span. The stone stairs were dusty, and the dull electric lighting flickered ominously in some areas. The girl thought about how terrified she would be if she found herself shut in these passageways with no light.

Sabine descended the last of the stairs, and walked down a short corridor to where the guest-hall entrance was. She gingerly walked up to the wood threshold and put her ear against it. Then, after listening for any voices or footsteps on the other side, she slowly pushed the door open.

The edge scraped slightly across the floor, and Sabine peeped out from behind the tapestry. What she saw almost made her shriek. Two sentinels stood at the other end of the hall, only yards away. Before she could pull herself back into the doorway, one of the men cocked his head to the side, seeming to contemplate if he heard the scratching sound, or if he imagined it. Then, out of his peripheral l vision, he caught Sabine wriggling in the drapery.

"Stop!" He ordered, dashing across the hall.

His partner turned around, mystified.

"What? Who's there?"

The other guard promptly realized what was taking place and sprinted down the hall after him.

Sabine, knowing that it would be dangerous and nearly impossible to escape them through the narrow passageways, stepped out from behind the decorative hanging and raised her hands in surrender.

The men grabbed her wrists tightly and held them behind her back.

"What are you doing in the secret passageways?" the first inquired.

Sabine bit her lip. She had to make up a story, and quickly. One they would believe.

"I was exploring…I - at first I had come over here to look at the tapestry…and then I noticed grains on the floor…and, when I bent closer to look, I noticed the bricks on the bottom looked different from the others…" she said, her voice wavering. If anything, this incident would only heighten everyone's suspicion of her poisoning the princess. Sabine tried to make it sound as if she were merely a nosy child. "…I also noticed the floor didn't connect…so I guessed that it must be a fake wall…and I was right."

The sentinel glared at her sourly.

"What made you think you were allowed to go in there?"

Sabine stared at him, wide-eyed and frightened.

"I-I dunno! I was just curious…I didn't get very far at all…" she stammered. She decided to play stupid. "…where does it go?…Is it for spies?"

The second guard frowned and gruffly took hold of her shoulder, preparing to lead her away.

"That is none of your business. You probably don't realize what kind of trouble you are in. Having one of you visitors sneaking about in the old labyrinths will only make everyone more certain the princess has been plotted against."

"W…what will happen to me?" the girl whimpered.

"That is to be determined," the other replied ominously.

The two large men stiffly lead her away from the door. One turned to re-arrange the tapestry, and brushed the sand away from the entrance with his foot. He then turned back to the girl and took hold of her other shoulder.

"Come, we must take you before the king."

Sabine began to cry. She felt her knees go weak, and felt suddenly lightheaded. Collapsing into the sentinel's iron grips, her vision faded to black as she lost consciousness.

Chrono Trigger Fanfic