The Shadows Chapter 50
What Must Be
By Keith Adams
A soft rain pounded lightly upon Thiek's head, running off in thin streams across his face and eyes, annoying him ever so slightly. This rain would have to go when he controlled the world. Thiek tapped his lips, taking in the cracked, barren plain that had once served as Truce Canyon, before being taken in a blue light. It was time to leave this time.
Thiek raised his hands, and blue streams, a mixture of endless variations on blue; light, dark, thin, thick; traveled along in streams and spirals, intermingling without being altered. The streams traveled in a marginally wavelike motion, until they reached a small, spherical indentation on the ground.
The indentation crackled with a deep, otherwordly sound, before opening into a perfect circle with no apparent depth as Thiek examined it from the side. Thiek waved his hands, and the streams dissapeared.
"I wouldn't want to miss the fireworks," mused Thiek as he walked into the portal, which dissapeared after him.
Frog felt the tentacles of the hideous black mass that had taken over King Guardia press upon him, squeezing him as they dragged him towards the mouth of the creature, which was vaguely man-sized and clad in the royal red robes of Guardia , with grat mouth that could fit a man inside itself with ease.
Frog coiled his fingers around his sword, and brought it across Guardia's tentacles lengthwise. The tentacle began dripping the black substance onto the pristine white marble floors of the castle, mixing with the blood and other black substance that was already on the floor. Frog chopped along the width of the tentacle, slicing it into neatly divided portions that swiftly fell to the floor. Frog knew this was the time to kill Guardia.
Frog leaped at Guardia, and brought his sword down across Guardia's shoulders to his pelvis, neatly slicing him in half. The top portion of the body neatly slid off onto the floor, and the bottom portion fell to the ground.
Frog looked at the remains, then wished he hadn't; Inside Guardia, there was an empty, spherical space, much deeper than Guardia could have possibly been. Inside the sphere, there were the rotting remains of Knights, their armor almost dissolved in parts, there eyes pure white. Frog tried to look away, but couldn't; it was as if some invisible force had grabbed his head, forcing him to see the dead bodies floating inside the thick, translucent liquid inside the sphere.
Frog noticed something odd, and recoiled; with a swift movement, little strings shot out from the bottom half of Guardia and grabbed onto the upper part, and slung it right back to the bottom, connecting the two parts.
Frog began hacking at the body, which slowly began rising. Frog sliced across the back, ripping the royal robes. Guardia was on both knees. Frog hacked again at the neck. Guardia was on one knee. Frog hacked again at the back. Guardia was crouching on bot. Frog hacked again. Guardia was standing. his back towards Frog. Frog hacked again. Guardia turned around to face Frog.
Magus stood on the island, which held up a looming tower, floating above the island that had once served as his home; now, it was on fire - the whole of it - and splitting apart from an earthquake as tidal waves rocked it. Nothing could survive it. Robo had fallen down there; true, he had been reprogrammed by the Shadows, but it was Robo nonetheless. A casualty of war. Another crime to lay on Gaspars shoulders, atop thousands of dead in this time from his attack on Guardia.
Magus looked at the tower, then back to the object in his hand; a Chrono Trigger, used for stopping time. Thiek, who was almost certainly a Shadow himself, had given it to him; why? Schala was here. There was no time to waste. Magus looked to the top of the tower; nearly two hundred meters. Magus looked at the double arched doors, half again his size. Magus raised his foot and kicked them open, and entered.
A dim, flickering torchlight was the only illumination. Magus looked left; there was a wall. He looked right; a spiralling staircase, with doors on both sides. Magus looked at the doorway; twas thick indeed. Still, the rooms here would be cramped at best, no more than a cot at worst. Magus began climbing the stairs, three at a time, twirling round and around the spiral staircase. Doors flashed by, but Magus paid them no mind. Schala was here, a few minutes away.
Magus turned around an edge to come face to face with an eight legged spider thing. No time for games. Schala was here. Magus twisted the strings of magis around them into one tightly focused beam, aiming it at the spider-thing. The spider thing stepped back as the beam hit it; a red spot began to appear where the beam hit, and suddenly the spider-things center blew apart, sending a storm of black blood at the wall. Magus stepped over the creature and continued on his way.
Magus noticed something about the creature; it was beggining to heal itself. The hole was getting smaller. Magus waved a hand, and a fire appeared at the hole, and the spider-thing's hole began expanding. Magus smiled; they could not survive continuous fire. Magus reflected on that paticulair bit of brilliance as he began ascending the stairs, more quickly than ever.
Suddenly Magus ran into someone, who fell to the ground. Magus kneeled down; it was a black robed man. A shadow. Magus drew upon what he could, and summoned a bit of dark matter which plunged through the man's spine; the man shuddered and seizured a bit as he fell to the hard stairs which cracked open his head.
Time seemed to be a non-factor. The stairs seemed endless. Suddenly, Magus felt his amulet go very, very cold. As if it was in use. The Shadows were attacking him from afar. Magus turned around, and threw out a sheet of fire down the stairs, fire hot enough to melt someone in a matter of seconds. Magus smiled in satisfcation; no white columns appeared that he could see. They were truly dead.
Magus began ascending the staircase again, and whistled. The Shadows were doomed. They should have never brought his attention down on them. They would burn; hundreds already had, at the Palace in 2300 ad, in the encampment on the island, and now here. For an organazation that was supposedly godlike, they suffered enormous casualties.
Lucca got in her Epoch; time was running out. The missles would be launching soon. Marle's epoch was gone; she was proabably being heroic. Gaspar must have something planned. Lucca looked out; Crono was detirmined - detirmined! - to stop this. They had been to the gates of hell and back, to the hopeless future. That must not come to pass. Melchior was driven by something else entirely; maybe he was taking Gaspar's leadership of the Shadows personally. R-007 was emotionless, as always, busy calculating the proababilites of sucess, no doubt. Janice looked frightened - she had never done anything like this before. For that matter, none of them had. Beneath everything, every one of them was afraid, even R-007. Afraid for the world, afraid of what kind of person that could do this, afraid of what the future held, afraid of the danger to them all.
"Let's go people," ordered Lucca; she saw something off in the distance; missles were flying out of the ground. It had begun. Suddenly, a missle exploded into a fiery blaze, then another, then another. Someone was destroying the missles. Three more had been destroyed. Marle was doing it. Marle was destroying the missles; four more had been destroyed; still, that was only 3% of the missles, and the shots were becoming fewer as the missles picked up speed in the night sky, as they headed south. Lucca prayed for Marle. Lucca prayed for them all as five Epoch's flew off the ground, on a southern intercept course.
Frog parried a few tentacle shots; his musles were wearing down. They were fading, as was his strength. Frog could not keep this up; Guardia was not wearing down. Guardia continued. Frog fell back, towards Leene. This monster would not get Leene. If it meant sacrificing himself, this monster would not get Leene. Frog hardly noticed the tentacle coming down upon him, he looked up - it was about to smash open his head. This was how it ended.
Suddenly, the tentacle stopped. Frog looked around. Everything had stopped. Everything took on a sort of grayish color. Frog stepped back, and jumped as he saw himself a hairbreath below Guardia's tentacle.
"You had a fun life," said a chipper, alien sounding voice that Frog immediately identified as Masa.
"Very fun. Messy death, though. Brains splattered across a marble floor from a black tentacle thing. Very messy," said a high-pitched alien voice Frog indentified as Mune.
"What's going on?" asked Frog, feeling quite dumbfounded.
"You're dead Frog," said Masa "I mean, what did you think had happened. More precisely, in 0.0000000000000000000000001 seconds you will be among the elite majority of the worlds population - dead."
"Being dead is fun, isn't it Masa?" said Mune.
"Very fun. You should try it sometime Mune. You get a really nice severance package -," answered Masa.
"I don't want to die," said Frog "I have to live."
"Well, you should have thought of that before attacking a nigh-well-omnipotent Shadow-tainted being. It's a bit too late for taking that back now, isn't it?" chided Masa.
"How was I to know? What is with you?" Frog lashed out.
"Ignorance is no excuse," said Mune "I mean, if you don't know a cliff is there and you fall off it, you still croak. We can't make exceptions because people didn't know they were going to die. The world would be severely overpopulated."
"We are the afterlife custodians for Melchior, Guru of Life. I mean, he has to do something once his department is done with, someone has to clean up the shattered wrecks. That's what we do," explained Masa "I mean, what else are we going to do while stuck in a cave for thirteen millenia waiting for you and Cyrus? Pottery? Making really nice shrubberies? We're in a fun field that is constantly changing. What more could two ask for?"
"But if I die, then Guardia will be shadow tainted, and so will his line, and that'll screw up the future," Frog argued.
"Pshhhaw," retorted Masa "We aren't Gaspar. Change is good. WHo cares about what will happen in the future? It isn't written in stone."
"Actually it is. At least until the Millenial Fair, member?" said Mune to Masa.
"Oh. Yeah. I forgot about that. So I guess he sort of has to live?" said Masa.
Frog breathed a sigh of relief.
"But I mean Frog is dead isn't he?" said Mune.
"I've got it. Woo-woo it's wicked," Masa said with excitement "Come here" their voice trailed off.
"I like it, Masa," said Mune.
"Me too, Mune," said Masa "Let's do it. Oh, Frog. Thank Magus for this."
Frog felt the tentacle slam upon his head, smashing it into bits, squeezing his brain. It felt strangely good. The odd thing was, he didn't feel different very much. What would that be? Frog got up and looked at himself; Guardia had taken some steps back. Frog looked down at his hands - they were gloved, and clutching the Masamune. The guards were rallying around him - the one's that remained anyway. Five or so. Frog felt taller someone.
Frog turned around to look at Leene, who was down from the windowsill and looking at his eyes. Frog looked into her eyes; they reflected a man of perhaps thirty, with brownish hair, in his clothes. Frog felt his head; there was hair. He was human. He was Glenn.
"For Guardia," yelled Glenn, tossing the Masamune up in the air. It began spinning and glowing with a bright white light "Let's end this Guardia."
"Go for it!" said Masa.
"Woo-hoo!" said Mune.
Glenn jumped in the air and hurled the Masamune with full force. Like a spear, it flew into the retreating Guardia. Guardia chuckled a bit, then began advancing as a soft white light emerged around him. Suddenly, Guardia exploded, sending black blood raining over the floor. Where Guardia had stood, there was an odd, muscular red thing with horns that stood nearly eight feet tall.
"We won," said Leene, kissing Glenn on the cheek.
"We have," said Glenn, and he thought he heard bells ringing from above.
Marle shot at a missle, but missed. This was too difficult now. She had done in twenty missles, respectable but not enough to stop the worlds end. Suddenly her radar screen picked up an object not previously seen - it was longer than an Epoch, with two wings, fairly short. It was transmitting something to the missles general area.
Marle looked up. A missles was heading directly at her. Her world ended in starry, triangular blackness with a white light at the center.
Gaspar looked down at the scattered, falling remains of Marle's Epoch, only a few pieces of scattered sharpnel, from his sleek black Epoch.
"I'm sorry Marle. I truly am," Gaspar said, examining his computer panels "Your friends are calling. They have extrodinarily bad timing."
Crono gasped as he saw Marle's Epoch dissapear with a dark explosion. Dark matter. He could see nothing left save a few pieces of her guns. She was dead. Forever. She was dead. Crono felt something a tad wet run down his cheek. Crono accelerated towards the black Epoch in the distance. This would not go unavenged. Gaspar would die for thhis.
Crono passed the other four Epochs. He disconnected his radio - he didn't want to hear advice of prudence. He wanted Gaspar. The black Epoch was just sitting there. Crono opened fire.
Laser blasts hit a red field, and dissapearred. Some sort of shield. Crono aimed and fired at the shield, again and again, to no avail. Other laser blasts were hitting the shield - no effect. The black Epoch just stayed there.
"Hello all. I have a special suprise for you," said Gaspar over the radio, who began transmitting an eight by eight sequence "Good bye now."
The black Epoch acclerated and dissapeared in a flash of light. Crono looked at his screen. Bogeys were appearting around them. They began shooting particle beams at them. There was one openinng; R-007's Epoch was already flying towards it as it took potshots at bogey's; it was accelerating at unnatural speeds. Suddenly there was a green flash under it; R-007's Epoch spun around the green flash in the second it appeared, and dissapeared with the green flash. Melchior had closely followed, and was trying to decellerate as he began a turn; a green flash occured in the epicenter of the turn; Melchior was slingshotted away and disspeared with the flash of light. Crono flipped back on the radio,
"Huge gravitational pulses," he heard Lucca shout; what were those flashes doing. Crono looked out the window, and saw the two other Epoch's flying closely together; suddenly a green flash appeared in the center of them. The two Epoch's ran opposite along the green flash, but collided with a flash of light.
Crono looked around; he could see nothing. What was causing this? Crono looked to the right, and his world exploded in a green light. It was all over, he thought as the light vanished.
Magus' feet were aching, and felt ready to collaspe anytime.Magus turned around a spiral, and an arched doorway blocked his path. Magus waved his hand and the doors opened. Magus entered cautiously.
Magus looked around; he was in a high-ceilinged chamber. In the center was a black Epoch - it looked similair to the one Magus had seen in Belthasar's designs. It was Gaspar - no one else would know how to make it. Magus looked up and saw a flash of blue being dragged up a hatch above the Epoch. Magus jumped atop the Epoch and climbed up the hatch.
Magus felt the rain pitter-pattering on his head, but paid it no mind. Magus looked on the roof, and saw Schala, unconscious, being held by a trenchcoated old man. Gaspar's reckoning had come. He would die now, now before he killed Schala.
Magus unleashed flames as hot as he could make them, shot them directly at Gaspars head. They bounced off before reaching it. Gaspar seemed pleased with himself.
"Hello, Magus," Gaspar said "You cannot kill me - yet. When the time comes, perhaps you shall. Here me out."
"You have no choice in the matter Magus. You shall hear me out, whether you wish to or not. I'm going to provide some explanation for my actions, and you are going to hear it."
"All of you think I am a villian now. I had no choice."
"You always have a choice."
"Not me. I once said I observed you from my obeservation point in the End of Time. I was not lying. I saw everything you did as a child. I saw everything I had or ever will do. I saw my death, I saw everything. I saw the missles crash down on the world. I saw the world die. I saw Marle die. I saw everything. I saw Lavos die. I knew - from the beggining - that you would destroy Lavos. I saw everything I would do. What I saw was what even tually happened, in every case. I reliazed something Magus - that what was observed, had to be. I observed the motions of the Shadows. I had no choice. Because I saw, I did, and because I did, I saw. A neat little paradox that was resolved by my being. It had to be, or time itself would unravel. What must be, what must be, is. Do you understand?"
"Yes. Completely. And do you know what?" asked Magus.
"Yes I do Janus/ Never forget for a moment I know what will happen here. I know that this tower will fall into the abyss in a matter of minutes. I know what will happen to your beloved Schala. I know what the future holds, and thus that future must be."
"You should have killed yourself," said Magus.
"I couldn't. I value my life, short as the rest of it might be, too highly for that. I shall not participate in my own destruction - I do not need the people that have fallen. They had to. There was no choice."
"There is always a choice. You should have killed yourself - then, no one would have known what had happened."
"And if there is an afterlife? I still would have known, and Ghosts may cause paradoxes. And as I said, I shall not kill myself for the benefit of others."
"The pinnacle of selfishness."
"You know more about that than I. You have searched for Schala because you felt guilty."
"A lie, and you know it."
"You lended Ozzie your power, allowed him to kill thousands."
"Which he would have done anyway."
"You left Robo to be remade by us."
"If I leave a gun lying around, and you kill someone with it, it's your fault, not mine."
"Perhaps. I'm sorry about this Magus."
A bluish wave erupted from Gaspar's hands, hitting Schala as she lay inert on the roof. She screamed once, a scream of agony and horror, before opening her eyes to the raining skies for a split second before collasping into a heap on the ground. This would not stand. This thing would not live, decided Magus.
"Good-bye, Magus," said Gaspar, preparing another wave with his back-turned right hand "Adieu."
Gaspar never finished. Magus concentrated on the threads around Gaspar; they were black, pure black. Magus concentrated on them, purifying them, turning them pure white. Magus looked as Gaspar fell back, turning into a bloody pulp, every part of him bleeding, save his eyes. Magus approached Gaspar, lifting him up over the towers edge. Gaspar's blood soaked Magus' gloves.
"You will kill me now, I think," rasped Gaspar, who began drooling.
"You're right about that," responded Magus, who with one swift motion flung Gaspar into the fire below; Gaspar fell for what seemed to be an eternity, into the last remaining part of the burning inferno that had once been an island. Gaspar fell into the flames. a pillar of flame erupted from the spot where he fell, reaching the bottom parts of the tower, which were burning themselves. Then, a huge tidal wave hit the island, washing it into the sea. Magus cradled Schala's body in his arms, careful not to look at it. It was over.
Thiek looked calmly into the mist. Magus was cradling Schala in his rms. Thiek mulled over Gaspar's final words, but they were nothing he had not heard before from that insane old man. Gaspar was dead, the future was free. There was one thing, one thing Thiek could not avoid. Thiek knew it was. Now certainty must be insured.
Thiek looked into the mists of time, and watched the world die.
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