The Shadows Chapter 36

The Fleet

By Keith Adams

Lucca sat calmly in her chair, wicker backed, right leg crossed over left, running her fingers through the front part of her dark purple hair, almost rythymically tapping her foot against the hard wood floor of the basement she was in, staring with a hint of contempt at a group of bird like planes, with an overlarge front area and wings that gently curved back to a point, standing with their landing gear against the floor, almost levitating above the floor. Lucca began rolling her fingertips across the chair's armrests, creating a slight echo in the room that had a huge arc of open space made of a pale, almost weak looking, wood. Lucca curled up in her chair, running her fingers more and more quickly across the armrest, questions running through her brain, recieving no answers, no reply, just questions, like unopened boxes - When were they coming? - Did they recieve her summons? - Did they care?.

"Lucca," asked a faint metallic voice from above "Lucca, those who you requested are here." The voice was inhuman, revealing no emotion whatsoever, merely a flat monotone; the voice was that of R-007, an expiermental robot, a amalgamation of various oarts, of gears and circuits.

"Show them in, please," said Lucca, a faint note of sadness in her voice, masked only by a certain weariness.

One by one, they descended the stairs, into the basement; there was Marle, wearing a nearly transluscent blue shirt and pants, a red pendant hanging underneath, her blond, ponytailed hair bobbing behind her; Melchior, an old man, whose beard was white and aged, growing even as his hairline receeded, wore a simple red coat that extended to his feet, opened, and red pants and undershirt; last was her robot, her creation, the sentient yellow pile of junk, patched and welded by fire and steel, with eyes that resembled nothing more than white balls with large, black dots in the center, and a pipe out of the back, letting out black puffs of steam, barely visible in the dark, flickering shadows of the room.

"Marle," said Lucca, hugging the blond haired, smiling girl "How have you been?"

Marle closed her eyes, swinging her head, causing her ponytail to swivel back and forth; she seemed morose, almost depressed, despite the smile.

"It has been hard, recently. Where's Crono?" asked Marle, a note of suprise in her voice "He's not here?"

"Not as of this moment. I gather he's in Porre, staying somewhere, but I have yet to find him. I'm going there later today. But first, I have to speak to all of you."

Melchior looked at the Epoch's in the shadowed side of the room quizically, as if they were something he had not expected to see. Like an unwanted variable in a equation, thought Lucca, as if he had everything in hand before.

"I have something to tell you. Recently, Crono was abducted by the Shadows - I'm sure you are familair with the term -," began Lucca.

"What are the Shadows?" asked Marle, a slight look of abashment upon her face "I never paid attention to history," she added apologetically.

"The Shadows were an organazation of Mystics. Much knowledge of them has been lost or dissapeared mysteriously. Apparently, a few years after Ozzie was beaten, an organazation calling themselves the Shadows - black robed, black masked types - took control of the Mystics and began an earnast attack on humanity. They destroyed Dorino, and many of the smaller settlements as well on the Southern continent. They were beaten at the Battle of Porre, and never appeared again," explained Lucca.

"Impressive, child. You neglected a few things, but very impressive indeed. Most people do not even know that much," said Melchior admiringly.

What did I neglect?, thought Lucca plaintitively ; doesn't matter now. And why didn't people know of it? Very odd, indeed.

"Back to the point, Crono was abducted by the Shadows, who have some hand in the Mystic civil war currently raging, as well as with the slaying of your father. I rescued him, and we went to the End of Time; no, first we went to Magus' place, where we found the designs for the Epoch - heaven knows where Magus got them - and then to the End of Time. The End of Time was literally crawling with Shadows. I had to destroy the central square with the Epoch to get them away from us. We returned, and Crono mentioned something about needing a fleet of Epoch's to destroy the Shadows. That's what we have here. A fleet. The four of us will be used as pilots; Crono will be another, and a friend of mine, Janice, has already done some work. She's off looking for Crono."

"So we're going to destroy the Shadows in Medina?" jumped in Marle "We're going to end the Shadows, and those Mystic warships, and rebuild Guardia?"

"Ah," said Lucca, opening her mouth wide.

"You mean we aren't? Why not?" asked Marle, whose face was rpaidly reducing to an almost frown. Lucca wondered about her; why did she care about Guardia - she never gave any indication to her.

"No we're not," answered Lucca, slowly shaking her head "Not before doing something else. You see, we've captured some blurred images from late 1999 and early 2000 - and the world is intact after Lavos, on December 31st. Six weeks later, the landscape turned unto ash. It's not Lavos. Whatever it is, we have to go and stop it. Four weeks have passed already; it might take about another week to get Crono back here, giving us a week to find whatever destroys the world, and eliminate it. After that, we go after the Mystics in Medina. But only after." Guardia or the world - funny, Lucca had been taught Guardia was the world. Now it was one or the other "Magus dissapeared, and I have the sneaking feeling he was involved somehow. And my Chronometer skipped a few years when we went to 12,000 bc, so obviously somethings at work. Magus proabably got wind of it, and is dealing with it. If after two weeks in the future, nothing happens, we can assume the best - that someone managed to stop whatever it was, and we can go home. But we cannot assume that."

"Lucca, what about the records we found?"

"What records?"

"The one's that showed Lavos destroying the world."

"Ah, those. The problem is, Lavos unleashed one volley before we got to him. That volley might have knocked out power, hence the loss of information prior, and whatever happened after was not recorded or was wiped. We don't know."

"Indeed we don't," added Melchior in a dark, brooding, tone.


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