Chrono Trigger: The Planeswalkers Chapter 39
A Tale of Temporal Training
By Mox Jet
Beginning of Time
"Magic power," Topik began, "is defined from where the power comes from." Jack was sitting at what was almost like a school-style desk in a lecture room somewhere in the house. Jack had no idea how they had ended up there, as Topik had merely 'ported them there. How he was going to get back was another issue, but he would have to ask later.
They had split him and Sarah up. He wasn't sure what she would be doing with Fenreir, though it would probably take place in the training arena located somewhere outside. It was something or other about reconstructing her tactical fencing technique. He would see her at lunch, anyway. They had to eat, and he knew the lessons would at least stop for that.
"There are innumerous sources of magical energy in this world and in this universe," he continued. "The energy which you are most familiar with is the energy from the series of magical winds blowing across this planet. Such winds are also found in currents in outer space, wandering aimlessly. These magical winds have also been called Ether and Elemental Magic, since each wind correlates with a specific kind of attack."
"There is also Black Magic, which you have become familiar with. Sometimes, Ether 'attacking' magic and Shadow Elemental magic have been called Black Magic, but the accepted definition of the magic is for energy drawn from a higher source. Typically, this energy comes from outer-planer sources, Dark and Light 'Gods,' if you will. Chaos Magic, which you want to design, would be a branch of Black Magic, as it draws from an outer-plane source."
"Also, there is Chi magic, or the magic of the inner energy. People commonly use this for techniques known as Limit Breaks, drawing on their inner power. This is a less widely spread form of magic in the magic using community, but it remains. All people have Chi, but only special cases seem to be able to access it. Powers which draw on the Id and powers centering around Trance are also shoot-offs of the Chi Magic Theory."
"Even Force Tech, which you use in your time, could fall into the magic category. Force Tech is the energy of motion in matter, kinetic energy of the molecules and such. The energy rapidly burns and dissipates around the user, which is what creates the aura that is normally accompanied by the use of it. Actually, it's not the most effective form of magic in the world and your people are still far from perfecting it. Extremely powerful Force Tech users can be marked in use by the a noticeable difference in temperature around them. High absorbance of FT energy from a surrounding area will lower the average temperature."
"I think I got all of that," Jack said, absorbing the information. "But I knew most of that already."
"Well, then, we can move on," Topik said. "How about casting energy?" he asked. "What do you know about personal stores of power used for casting? In other words, what do you know about one of the few things your lacking?"
"There are two phases of a magic spell," Jack said, reciting something that he must have learned from The Origin of Mount Woe. "The Draw and the Cast. The Draw is the process of absorbing energy from any one of the given sources that you listed. The Cast is the use of your own energy to manipulate the Drawn energy into the proper form, causing the spell to resolve."
"Then you know what you lack?"
"I don't have enough personal energy yet to cast higher level spells for very long," Jack said. "From what I'm told, I was using mass quantities of FT energy to mold the spell energy, rather than using my own power."
"It's just a matter of the fact that you're still a relatively new spell user," Topik said. "Your BES, or Base Energy Stock, as it's sometimes called, will grow with the more magic that you use."
"So all I really need to do is practice?" Jack asked.
"Your magical energy tolerance is really high," Topik said. "You're already well on your way to becoming a powerful mage. I think it's due to the Lavoid DNA in you. The Lavoids are also notorious for their energy tolerance. It was something written into your DNA when they were created. It was probably so they could store large quantities of Chaos energy over long periods of time."
"My Chaos energy " Jack started to say.
"The Black Wings," Topik said, knowing where he wanted to go. "Or, your discharge of naturally absorbed Chaos energy. You used two of their purposes in Zeal, for increased flight speed using Magic over Force Tech, and for the protective barrier they can create."
"How do I use them?" Jack asked.
"The Wings can take just about any form you wish. When you manifest the Dreamblade, you are using that energy also. Technically, you could form a blade simply from the Black Wings. Having the Dreamblade serves to help you focus your energy toward the task at hand and serves to amplify it using the Dreamstone."
"But I still don't know how to access them," Jack said. "Thus far, they have appeared at times when I needed them to protect Sarah. But, I don't know how to create them at a whim."
"Well let's try a little exercise then," Topik said calmly. Jack nodded. "I want you to close your eyes and reach out with your mind to a point that doesn't exist in the three dimensional world. You'll be able to feel it. Just concentrate on that seething energy that you can feel."
"I think I see it," Jack said as he stretched his mind outward. "It's surging with power."
"Good," Topik said calmly. "Now, I want you to try to grab on to that energy mass. It should almost gravitate towards you."
"I feel it " Jack said, extending his mental prowess and trying to latch onto the growing ball of energy that he had seen. "It's warm " he said, tightening his eye lids. "It wants to come to me."
"That's just your natural inclination towards Chaos," Topik said, touching a hand to Jack's shoulder. "Concentrate on it. Just let it come to you, don't let it overpower you though." Jack sat in silence for a half minute as he struggled to grab at the new energy source. He tried to tap into it slowly, but once he had reached it, the energy surged at him.
"It's coming!" Jack said suddenly, trying hard to keep his concentration as the rush of energy suddenly exploded towards him. He tried to fight it as it tried to take control of him. It wasn't just his imagination. The energy was surging through him. "It's here!" he yelled again.
"Control it Jack!" Topik said. "You are in command! The energy belongs to you!"
"So warm " Jack said, his body starting to shake. "No it's hot. It's hot!" he said again. "It burns!" He repressed screaming out, trying to fight it. He thought he felt his skin being burned as he battled to control the energy. He knew that when he lost, all that would be left was a charred corpse.
"Fight it, Jack!" Topik said. "Gather it together!"
"I I " Jack started to say, fighting the pain. "I can!" he shouted again. The convulsions worsened. With an outward burst of power, he suddenly expelled all of the energy that he had gathered. The power formed a circle of energy around his now floating form. Pulsing with black and blue light, the aura extended itself out and back, sweeping upward into the Wings that he had created before. The excess of energy shot out, sparking out of control every now and then as Jack battled to get complete control.
"Chaos " Topik said, surprised himself at how much power the boy was releasing. Jack's body stopped its convulsions as he finally gained control. The Wings stopped their rapid fluctuations, gaining a more constant form. Hovering two feet off of the floor, Jack slowly opened his eyes.
"It is mine," Jack said with some confidence. "The power. I can control it." Topik nodded. Jack smiled. "Thank you," he said slowly. Then, closing his eyes again, the energy suddenly disappeared and he dropped to the ground, slightly exhausted.
"Remember that feeling," Topik said. "And you should be able to summon the energy at will. As you practice, you'll learn to control it better and eventually create more of the wings. Each wing is a weapon in combat, each striking a blow with the energy of Chaos. When you are through with them, simply let the energy jump back into its own dimension, as you did when you finished now."
"Right," Jack said, climbing back onto the chair, breathing a bit heavier than normal. "I have an idea about what it should feel like," he said laboriously. "Now, where were we?"
"Your energy," Topik said, "Can not only be formed into those projections of Wings, but momentarily released in a fight. Basically what I am trying to say is that regardless of the weapon, it will be possible for you to develop a fighting style that involves around the release of Chaos energy for the moment of contact with your weapon." Snapping his fingers, the two men disappeared from the room and reappeared in a new room and in new clothes.
"I can use my fist or my sword?" Jack asked, straightening up his training gi as they stood in a dojo that was located off to the side of the house. Topik stood across from him, also in a similar gi, being black in contrast to Jack's white one.
"We'll start with your fist, of course," Topik said. "Once you can channel that power through your first, then we can work on your sword. That will be a little more tricky because you're body won't be making direct contact. Yet, I don't think you'll find it impossible."
"And this is not a documented fighting style?" Jack asked, cracking his knuckles and started to gather Chaos energy to his body.
"No," Topik said. "Assuming you can do it, this will be the first use of this technique. Granted, there are other styles out there that revolve around the use of general magic release at contact point, but you'll be dealing with something slightly different, of course. Being energy in its most basic form, the Chaos release would be more powerful than any other comparable magical release."
"Good," Jack said with a smirk. "That means I get to name the style, correct?" Taken a little off guard by the question, Topik shrugged.
"I guess," Topik said. "If you want to name it, so be it. But first, you need to base the actual style on something you already know. What kind of martial arts are you already familiar with?"
"Okay," Jack said, thinking back to training he had received. "I'm not really on a black belt or comparable level with any particular style. I was more focused on fencing. But, I'm at least familiar with boxing, jujitsu, tae kwon do and rudimentary kung fu."
"Well," Topik said. "We'll have to improve on that, won't we? In order to effectively create a style, you must be able to successfully blend other styles. Show me what you know, and then we'll work on what you don't." Topik beckoned for Jack to come at him. Jack shrugged, took up a fighting stance and ran forward at Topik. Letting his fists do the first of the talking, he threw a flurry of high punches at Topik, allowing him to block each one while he set up his offensive position.
Topik shirked off the initial attack with flawless blocking technique, each wave of his arm deflecting Jack's blows away. Topik finally countered with a low toe sweep behind Jack's right leg, planting his foot and then making a duel palm thrust into Jack's chest. Jack was caught off guard and was hit by the attack and sent over Topik's foot. Recovering with a back hand spring and countering with a shoulder rush, Jack narrowly missed as Topik swung his upper body to the right letting Jack fly past him.
Jack halted mid-flight and hovered in the air for a few moments. Coming down again with a series of kicks with his right leg, Topik smacked them out of the way with a mix of a spinning evasion technique and a swiping motion with his hands. Jack finally landed on the floor again and made a spinning leg sweep. Topik jumped over the sweep and brought his left foot upwards as he performed a back flip. Jack himself also back flipped to avoid being hit by Topik's rising kick. Both men landed from their flips and squared off again.
In a simultaneous motion, both combatants made short jumps at each other, meeting with a fast sequence of punches and blocks. Jack, now put on the defensive by the expertly mixed blows of Topik, tried to move things his favor. With his next block out, he did not end his movement with a simple deflection, but swung his arm further around until he had trapped Topik's left forearm in his armpit. Locking Topik's arm further in place with his own hand, he brought his right knee into Topik's back and then swiveled his left leg into Topik's gut with a roundhouse motion. Finishing with a head butt to his forehead, Jack released Topik as he fell back wards.
Jumping into the air, Jack attempted to slam his knee into the fallen warrior but Topik was too nimble. With a quick roll to the side, he dodge and then brought his leg around, catching Jack in the side of the head. Jack took the blow hard, sending him to the right as he recovered into a round off. Springing back to his feet, Jack came at Topik once more, this time with his left foot leading.
Swinging his foot up in a feint, he spun into a twist, swinging his right foot over and catching Topik in the back of the knee. Remaining airborne, he quickly spun again and slammed his left foot at Topik's face. Topik spun his right hand up to block, stopping the attack in its tracks and leaving Jack hovering in the air.
"Your technique is good," Topik finally said, withdrawing his hand as Jack lowered to the ground. "But we'll first use the tactical indoctrination device to broaden your range of styles. Does that sound good?"
"So I'll know the few styles I know more completely?" Jack asked.
"Them, along with any other form of unarmed combat you wish to learn. Or, while we're at it, we'll throw in armed combat as well. I mean, why not, right?"
"Just that simply, huh?" Jack said.
"Like I told you before, it takes a few minutes, but the hypnotherapy is quite effective and efficient. Naturally, you'll need to exercise the knowledge before it is of any use to you. While you may know how to perform the Nisai Goju school of martial arts at the level of a tenth degree black belt, actual combat experience is needed to fully utilize this ability. Over time, you'll blend the mastery of styles together and form your own style. I think you'll be quite please with the results."
"Then let's do it," Jack said, enthusiastically pounding his fist into his hand.
It was then that Jack became familiar with the tactical indoctrination room, a room that would be a close companion to him through the training. Seemingly very simple, the entirety of it consisted of a chair in the middle of a circular room, resembling something of a dentist's chair. Above the chair there was a complicated contraption that seemed to siphon downward towards the chair. The walls were a light shade of gray and the floors were also gray, though they felt like hardwood.
Climbing into the chair, Jack found it curved well to his body. He sat in a slightly reclined position on the gray pads that covered the odd chair. Topik stood at his side.
"Just close your eyes and try to relax," Topik said.
"I'm not sure I like the sound of that," Jack said jokingly.
"Don't worry. This is completely painless." Absently, Topik waved his hand over the empty air and a small, transparent console appeared. Rapidly typing on what could only be a keyboard, Topik imputed the program which Jack would be induced to.
"This is basically the data storage for the Beginning of Time," Topik said. "Our records are some of the most complete in the universe, rivaled only by Eternals existing in the three-dimensional world."
"What's an Eternal?" Jack asked, recalling something from Highlander that rang a bell. Topik chuckled softly.
"Don't worry about them," he said. "Should you be lucky or unlucky, you'll most likely meet at least one of them in your travels." Topik concluded his typing and the machine above Jack began to whir gently. "This may feel odd," he told Jack as the console before him disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. "But it won't hurt."
"What will it fe-" Jack was cut off as a soothing sensation ran through his body. The gentle whir of the machine suddenly seemed to surround him as he felt himself losing consciousness. He wasn't uncomfortable in the slightest, though. Instead, he almost felt soothed. His eyelids grew heavy as his mind began to zone out. Slowly he drifted into sleep as the hypnotic transition of information started.
The vast wealth of knowledge being poured into his mind did not wake his slumber. He was being artificially transplanted with the knowledge of about three hundred unarmed combat techniques that were gathered as a survey from the library of someone Topik called 'The Warrior.' Slowly, the actions and motions of each style were ingrained into his head in a mass transfer of information which would take lifetimes to learn if done manually. Instead, it was all spoon fed to him as he lay on the chair in a state of unconscious euphoria. He wouldn't even realize all of the power that had been begotten onto him until it was complete.
About half an hour passed before the murmur of the machine subsided and Jack slowly opened his eyes. A slight after-sensation in the form of a light buzzing was ringing in his ears, but he ignored it as best he could. Not feeling any different at the moment, he slowly looked up at Topik as he climbed out of the chair.
"Well?" Topik asked. "What do you think?"
"I don't feel any " Jack started to say but was cut off as the new knowledge in his head suddenly burst out of their storage point in long term memory, instantly manifesting themselves in a short burst of information that sent a wave of intense feeling through Jack's body. All of the moves, all of the techniques and all of the training from centuries of the martial arts suddenly came into his readily accessed memory banks, giving the instant feeling of enlightenment. " Woah " Jack said slowly, rubbing his temples. Topik chuckled lightly.
"Would you like more?" Topik asked. "We have a more combat styles, armed and unarmed. Also, we have nearly the entire collection of recorded magic."
"Are you serious?" Jack asked, somewhat rhetorically. Topik nodded. "Then hell yes," he said. "Give me more." Topik laughed casually.
"There will be plenty of time, Jack. All of the knowledge of this database is at your disposal. I will show you and Sarah how to use it so that you may operate it without us."
"Coolness," Jack said. "Anyway, where is Sarah?"
"I think she's done with her lesson now," Topik said. He closed his eyes for a moment, opening up a telepathic communications link with Fenreir. "Yes," Topik said finally. "She is finished there. She has worked towards a breakthrough. She will be a powerful fighter indeed," Topik said, lowering his head.
"Isn't it about time to eat, anyway?" Jack asked. Topik grinned.
"Yes," Topik agreed. "I believe so. Please, come with me." Topik waved his right hand and the two men disappeared from the room, reappearing in a large dining hall. This one, Jack knew, was somewhere in the mansion. Sarah and Fenreir were nowhere to be seen, though. It wasn't until a moment later that Sarah appeared with Fenreir, right next to Jack and Topik. Jack smiled and embraced her, before the two of them found their seats.
Topik and Fenreir also slowly sat down, across from their respective apprentices. The four large fireplaces that circled the room suddenly magically lit themselves and cart with food on it was wheeled into the room by some unseen force. Jack and Sarah helped themselves, but Topik and Fenreir remained motionless.
"I've been thinking about organization of the LEA," Jack said, biting into a piece of bread. "And it occurs to me that we're going to need more than one ship if there are fleets of these Lavoid based creatures."
"You have to start somewhere," Topik said. "Once you start everything up, money will come, inevitably, and you can expand to more ships."
"And we'll need a solid command organization. I will probably have to appoint commanders. Tristan and Sarah can only do so much." Sarah shot him a look of annoyance before realizing that he was right.
"You need a recruitment and training operation, too," Fenreir pointed out.
"Yeah, I know," Jack said. "I've been thinking that too. Do you think we could use the information from the Tactical Indoctrination room?"
"Most of it," Fenreir said. "Some of it is restricted, but we think it's a good cause. We'll make sure you can set up all of your facilities with tactical indoctrination equipment."
"Then we'll do fine " Jack said. Sighing, he lowered his eyes. "We're going to start a war," he said. "People will die." Everyone was silent. In an effort to change the topic, Sarah looked at Fenreir and Topik and noticed that they weren't taking any food.
"Aren't you going to eat?" Sarah asked them.
"We don't require food as you do," Fenreir explained. "Remember, these bodies are just our choice representation towards you.
"I keep forgetting " Sarah said, cutting some of what looked to be meat off of its bone with her knife.
"That's actually a good thing to talk about, though," Jack said. "Who, or what, exactly are you guys?"
"You haven't figured it out yet?" Topik asked. "I think Sarah has a clue." Sarah slowly nodded.
"If what I'm thinking is true, though, it defies possibility. You should be dead, if that were the case," Sarah said blankly.
"Wait a minute," Jack said. "What does that mean?"
"Oh come on, Jack," Sarah said like it should be obvious. "You even fought with him. You've seen his fighting style. You've looked into his eyes. The outward shell is different, but the eyes are exactly the same."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Jack said slowly, taking a sip of his drink. "You'll have to explain for the non-prescient among us." There was a pause.
"He's Sean!" Sarah finally, said, putting down her knife and fork with a clang. The room was silent.
"Shut up," Jack said jokingly. "You're you're full of crap," he said as he laughed. He glanced at Topik, who looked back with his dark eyes, not moving a muscle. They stared at him with their steel gray coldness. Jack had never noticed it before.
"One of Hope, Jack" Topik said slowly. "That's what you've just realized these past days. One who can free this dimension from the Lavoid Horde. That's what I called you back when I died, wasn't it?"
"You you " Jack stuttered. "How is that possible? You can't be Sean. I saw Sean die with my very own eyes. Why the hell are you playing with my head?!" he slammed his silverware down on the table. "Get out of my head!" he screamed, clutching the sides of his temples. "You're dead!" he screamed.
"Jack, calm down," Sarah said hastily, getting up and placing her calming hands on his shoulders. "It's okay. There's an explanation behind it. That's what I've been missing too. I just know why. I don't how."
"You can't be," he told Topik again. Topik looked back at him and smiled compassionately.
"I am not Sean in the way that you knew him. His body was not mine. It was only his subconscious that was mine."
"I don't understand," Jack said, putting his hands on his shoulders where Sarah was holding him.
"Well, then you deserve an explanation," Fenreir agreed. "You see, your potential was something that we could not waste. Or, Topik felt it could not be wasted. However, our very existence limits us from simply entering your plane. The only thing that we could do was send one of us as guide for you."
"But even that could not be done definitely. I had to be born a man," Topik said. "I needed to be born of a human and grow as a human. My magical capacity was also limited, due to my human form. And even then, I could not impart all of my duty to the being that was named Sean. It was almost as if I merely broke off a part of myself to be Sean. He had to learn about what I knew, containing within him my knowledge, but not knowing how to use it. In all essence, though, we were two forms of the same being."
"Some of us that stayed behind, namely myself and another named Jal, guided Sean on his quest to enlighten you as to your duty. We influenced him to take on Sarah as his pupil along with you, since Sarah has also played a crucial role in the Space-Time Continuum. Sound familiar?"
"Sean's dying words," Jack said bitterly.
"And they arranged for Sean to come across the Dreamstone Blade and the knowledge that was imparted to him from me. As such, he learned of the Lavoids and of their goal and of the exact time that the Lavoid, Lavos, would surface on your world. His death, or his sacrifice, as it were, was to guide you along your path and deliver you to us, where you would learn what we are teaching you now."
"How come you never told me ?" Jack asked helplessly, wanting to cry. It was a mix of sadness and happiness. He was confused as to just what he should think.
"It wasn't important," Topik said simply.
"How can you say that?" Jack said. "Of course it was important."
"What's important," Fenreir said, "Is that you're here now. It's important that you've begun to learn and important that you understand your destiny, now. That is what is important, Planeswalker."
"He's right, Jack," Topik said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You've matured more than you know from the days when Sean was leading you around. Now you're ready to think for yourself. Now you're ready to kill for yourself "
They trained. Each day was full of training. In fact, life did not seem to exist without training. It became part of everything. It was part of life. To train, to learn and to study. There was little respite from the lessons which Jack and Sarah learned in combat and magic. And what they learned was vast. By the time eighteen months had passed, they had accumulated the knowledge of the Beginning of Time and begun to put it to use.
Her prescience had been honed sharply. Capable of clear viewing of the direct future and a general view to the far future (as the Time Streams branch out from choices that occur in the future, it becomes harder and harder to get a clear picture of them). Jack had tested her powers in close combat and she was able to hold him to standstill. His sheer speed and growing ability to warp time in the middle of battle was offset by her ability to foretell his moves. In hand to hand, Jack had met his match in his love. Now she walked slightly more aware of her surroundings, but slightly more burdened as well. Sometimes she looked as if the pressure of all of time was bearing upon her and, in a manner of speaking, it was. Knowing the future can be a painful and disturbing thing, she had told Jack. Sometimes she just knew that something bad was going to happen but couldn't tell what it was. She said that was the worst thing about it.
Jack had ransacked the tactical indoctrination room for everything it was worth. Knowledge of infinity and the mysteries of the universe. When not practicing his knowledge, he spent hours upon hours in the room, absorbing whatever information he could get from the machine. Battle tactics, armed combat, unarmed combat, planer-physics, astrophysics, temporal physics, weapon design, magic theory, spell libraries. It made no difference to him. He was a machine of learning. Sarah worried his mind would explode with all of the information he held. All through it, though, he had picked out specific data sets and assembled as 'base set' of data which contained what he deemed as most crucial to the would-be agents of the LEA. This was to be the training data that all the LEA would have. It was the data that they would use to purge the galaxy of the Lavoids.
Both teens had 'accepted their fates' as Topik had put it. Destiny had dealt them the ultimate hand of being its resolution to the Lavoids. If there was a God, he had picked these two humans from some backwater planet called Elosia (that hadn't even developed interstellar travel at the moment) to begin what would surely become one of the greatest crusades in the history of the universe. How resigned to their fates Jack and Sarah had become was surprising. Especially from Jack, who had so often insisted that he controlled his own fate, it was odd. Jack had merely told Topik that it was not destiny, but his own choice to follow in this. Sarah said she wanted to help Jack and be by him. Topik knew that the two most powerful humans on Elosia thought more of it then that, though. He knew they had become too mature to look at is merely a chance to kill some Lavoids. They had accepted the important nature of the mission. They were receptive of their fate.
"To defy destiny is to defy the very nature of existence," -Jack McKlane, four years later.
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