The Shadows Chapter 22

The Mission

By Keith Adams

Crono slumped into Lucca's chair. It was a smooth, leathery chair faced directly out her window, giving a spectacular view of a distant Truce. He calmly put his foot up on the windowsill - Lucca said she would be a few more hours. Crono took out a bottle of wine he bought in Porre from under his tunic; the merchant who sold him it after a few drinks claimed it was nearly fifty years old, and was from Solest, which, 50 years ago, was considered the finest wine making facility in the world. Crono considered that, and corrected himself - it still was the finest wine making town in the world, and one of the most fun. He paticulairly enjoyed stomping grapes when he was there last. Crono felt a tangible twinge of regret as he pulled a corkscrew out of his vest and opened the bottle.

The wine had a distinct, almost fruity smell, a mixture of orange, grape, d'sanis, Fiona's fruit, and grapefruit, touched with a faint smell of spice. He pulled the glass up to his lips, and slowly lowered his head while simentaneously raising the glass, feeling the curve of the neck, as the wine came flowing into his lips; it tasted unique - like a sugary version of orange juice mixed with grapes and cinnamon. It was decent - definately decent. Crono's lips smiled around the glass - the Solestians sure knew how to make wine.

All good things must come to an end, thought Crono sadly as the wine stopped flowing into his mouth. Crono set the glass down on the window sill, opened the window, and tossed the glass out, whereupon it hit the ground with a resounding shatterring noise.

Crono leaned back in the chair, smelling the open sea air, letting it fill him. He kept leaning further and further back, until he was almost lying down, when the door opened and Lucca was looking down at him.

Crono swung the chair back upright, then around to face Lucca. She was lacking her helmet; her purplish hair hung down to her shoulders, and her glasses seemed sleeker, less obvious. She was dressed in a blueish vest and somewhat tight pants of the same color. She glanced at him impishly, then went around him and shut the window just after a cold breeze swept in.

"Hello, Crono," smiled Lucca a tad tartly "How much wine have you had recently?" She sniffed the air for emphasis, then continued "We've got some work to do. We've got to go to the Vor-"

"No," said Crono flatly "I'm not that drunk."

"Why not?" asked Lucca "And I'm pretty sure you are that drunk."

"The water is cold - proabably has to do with the fact it's *winter*. You do understand what winter is, don't you?"

"Oh, that's no problem. We won't have to swin there. I've rented a small boat equipped with a map and g'avagon. We'll be able to pinpoint it exactly and the wait for the pool. It won't hurt a bit. Well," Lucca added after a short pause "no permanent damage will be done."

"Something in my brain is saying something - a tiny whisper contradictory to everything I've been taught. And do you know what the whisper says?" Crono asked, to which Lucca responded with a suspicious sideways shake of her head "The little voice in my head says 'no, you bloody madwoman' - and I can't disobey the little voice in my head. I'm sorry, I have no choice in the matter. G'day." Crono got up, and put on his overlong red trenchcoat.

"I'll let you steer the boat," offered Lucca.

"Oh. That's different then. Allright, I suppose. I also suppose I shall regret it later, so I'll curse you, your ancestors, and descendants in advance, just in case."


Lucca pulled down on each of her gloves, tightening then over her hands. She watched as Crono lurched out of her room and jump off her balcony to the floor, with no signs of injury. She wondered why he didnt' just take the stairs like a normal person, or even a normal abnormal person. She marched down the stairs, each step in quick succession.

"Come on, bonehead," taunted Lucca as she strolled out the door. Crono was looking at a prototype of a robot she had layed down upon the floor.

"Anything for you, dearest Lucca," resoponded Crono lightly as he followed her out the door, to the small beach where the "ship" was docked.

Lucca smiled - the ship was a variant on the Epoch, specifically designed for underwater manuevering. It was larger and wider than the Epoch, and had integrated wings and a set of thrusters on the back, along with some high-velocity proton guns. She opened the k'aspik covering, revealing a roomy bridge.

Crono didn't need any prompting - he just jumped in. Within minutes they were skimming across the waters surface at speeds far in excess of what Lucca had planned. Crono didn't speak as he piloted the U'sab - Lucca's pet name for the ship. In less than an hour, they had arrived at the edges of the whirlpool, and were quickly accelerating along it's edge. Lucca was thrown against her chair, but Crono could not be, as he was already reclining. The ship swirled around and around, gaining more and more speed; Lucca felt the pressure on her whole body, always increasing, water swirling across the k'aspik covering, in a swirl of bubbles. Suddenly the bubbles stopped, and the k'aspik showed rocks.

"You ready?" asked Crono; Lucca nodded.

Crono forced opened the covering. They were in a pit about 7 feet deep, with a circular, but jagged, opening at the top. Crono stepped from the top of the U'sab onto the rocks, which he climbed to the top of, followed quickly by Lucca.

Lucca glanced around. In the distance of the cave, there were black robed figures milling about. Suddenly, one turn towards them ...

"Intruders!" shouted the figure in a deep, booming voice that echoed all along the cave. Every figure in the cave turned towards them.


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