Chrono Trigger: Twins of Destiny Chapter 15
By Mox Jet
Having found someplace to find clothes matching their surroundings, Alaria and Teclis made their way towards the central library of Trialia. As they entered and explored, they found it was a remarkable storage of knowledge. Contrary to libraries that they had known, there were no books here. All of the information was stored in computers, and all of the information could be accessed through the terminals that replaced the cubicles found in normal libraries. The inside of the building itself was the same predictable white, with occasional streaks of grey plastic. The building was two stories high, the upper story forming somewhat of a ring above the lower story. Simple staircases led up to the upper floor in predictable locations.
There were no flags or murals or pictures. The extent of the wall coverings was one large computer display that was used as both a map of the building and a directory of contained information. The bottom left corner of the large screen had a small window containing statistics regarding most popular files accessed and a random assortment of other figures. There was one central desk behind which one lady with a white coat and blue hair stood. She looked more mechanical than anything else and Teclis would swear that he didnt see her move once in the hours that they would spend there.
The people were of very little help and so it wasnt long at all before they were thankful that Yiri was present. He showed them how to use the interface on the computer system, and, since neither of them had the Library Clearance Code used by said citizens to actually interface with the system, he gave them his own, few extra bucks, anyway. It was this minor clash, though with the system that taught the young travelers their first lesson of Ithilmar: there was a prevalent class system here.
According to his LLC card, Yiri was a Type IIA citizen, meaning that he was of at least three fourths Ithilmarian blood on both parents' sides. The class system was based on purity of blood line and stretched from Type IA (completely pure, and eventually likened by Lucia to the Gazel of Solaris) to Type IVC, which was practically slave labor. All Type IV citizens held no actual Ithilmarian blood, and their letter designation was based on how they came into the country in the first place (Tristan effectively compared these to the Earthbound of Elosia, only without being actually on the surface).
Yiri told them that Type IVs were often POWs that were forced into labor, or immigrants fleeing from war and poverty on the surface. Not that it was easy to get in to Ithilmar, but those that managed were given the rating Type IV. The amount of these allowed in fluctuated based on the demand for the manual labor which they would be put to.
Type IAs, on the other hand, were slowly dwindling in number. They were the aristocracy of the country, though their power had been coming lose over the last twenty years or so. They were gifted magic users by human standards, even with their power still typically restricted to only one Wind. Then again, that was a lot considering that surface dwelling humans didnt practice magic at all outside of the mage guilds. As far as why these Type IAs could cast spells, that was what Teclis and Alaria were setting out to find.
I cant cast magic, Yiri told them. That trickerys been outlawed, anyway, outside of the IAs and M-1. The Queen passed that ruling about eighteen years ago or so. Ever since then, you need to go through this pain in the ass process to get licensed if you wanna cast spells, even if youre classified into either of those groups.
Wait, so what is M-1? Teclis asked. Thats not a class, is it?
Oh, thats the military, Tercels, Yiri said. Teclis had given up on correcting him. You dont mess with those guys. Theyll likely kill you if you look even at them funny. Nasty bastards, they are. Highly skilled and pretty ruthless. They use them Armour things to plow through their opponents. Nope, I wouldnt be caught dead in the path of one of those fellas. Not that theyre my problem, though. They normally only fight the bad guys, which tend to be the surface countries.
Do they use magic? Alaria asked.
Wouldnt know, Yiri admitted. You can look in there for anything you want, but most military stuff is classified. I suspect theyve got specialized casters, though, you know? For various tasks and stuff.
Quite Teclis said, putting his hand to his chin. He looked to Alaria. Let us dig in. Theres much to learn about this place. Likely anything we need will be in here.
So they dug in.
And they read.
For hours they sat at those computer displays, punching in searches and absorbing as much information as they could. It wasnt an easy task. For all practical purposes, they were learning a completely new language of names, places, colloquialisms and idioms. In fact, if a lot of the articles werent cross-referenced, they might never have been able to figure anything out.
Every new sentence yielded another new question. There was constant mention of names, which lead to looking up who those people were. New places needed to be researched in order to gain a semblance of general location. Most helpful were history texts which treated the reader as they were clueless, as Alaria and Teclis were. Sometimes more confusing were newspaper articles which included a lot of specifics without explanation.
Royal decrees were even worse. Many of the laws were unknown to the travelers, and the structure of the society here was somewhat bizarre when compared to that of Denegrad. Following what changes were made sometimes meant knowing what something was like before it was changed. More cross referencing and more researching
It was a never ending cycle.
Yet, after going to that library for three straight days (with Yiri making the occasional food runs) they came away with something which made it worth it: direction. Somewhere amidst the files and folders and indefinite number of facts and figures, Teclis came across the history information that they were looking for; it was the information that would give them a place to go.
It was a story from about twenty two years ago regarding an alternate energy source which would potentially lead to development of everything from new weapons to new power plants. Simply put, the power source which was keeping Ithilmar in the air was beginning to dwindle and constant efforts had been placed on getting a new source of energy. While the article was about as vague as those quoted in it had been, this new power source seemed to be the answer to all their problems.
Then it disappeared.
Not the power source, per say, but all mention of it. The series on this development lasted for a few more weeks, and then nothing. Something so pressing and important as this power source didnt seem to be a light matter capable of being dropped by the press. Yet, within eight weeks of its original mention, it did not appear again in text for the next eleven years.
This minor fact could have gone overlooked if Teclis hadnt been interested in exactly what the power source was. What struck him in particular about it was that they seemed to be making use of magical energies that stemmed from something outside of the normal ethereal spectrum. These energies seems far more powerful and far more chaotic. What bugged him was that he had never learned anything about such power sources. Not in all his years in the mage guilds had mention of this energy source (which was at least twenty two years old in discovery) come up anywhere. Perhaps it was just his own cynical nature that made one word spring to his head: conspiracy.
They questioned Yiri on it.
That was awhile ago, but yeah, I remember it. Black energy, I think they were calling it, though they told people that it was a kind of geothermal energy. You know, energy from the planet? They formulated this big plan based around building facility on the surface that was closer to the center of planet for absorbing it.
This energy sounds rather like magical waves, Teclis said. And I dont know anything like that coming from the planet.
Oh, I always supposed that the story wasnt entirely true. It was kind of hush-hush, if you get my drift. Nothing was ever disclosed, though. As far as I know, the project was dropped.
Just like that?
Yeah. Thats what was announced.
But theres no mention of it being dropped in print, Teclis pointed out.
It was done in a royal address, if I remember correctly, Yiri said.
Peculiar Teclis mumbled with hand to his chin. This is the first odd inconsistency Ive found and it just being dropped, with no indication in printed text? That doesnt seem right, especially when were dealing with a power source that seems magical in nature
What connection could it have to either of the things that were looking for, though? Alaria asked, slightly skeptic.
Im just curious as what they might be covering up, is all, Teclis said. Of course since its magical in nature, its interesting for me. Consider, though, that blade of yours also has odd magical properties. Id certainly look into anything involved peculiar like that.
Were still short on info hits on either Crystain or Lavoids, Alaria said. She turned to their guide. Yiri?
Wouldnt know a thing about them, he said with a shrug. And if its not in those computers, Id guess that theres not going to much info about them at all. That is, there wont be much information thats available to anyone.
Hmm .what do you mean? Alaria asked.
Well, I mean like non-military stuff, you know? That stuff is in there. As far as military information goes, M-1 has a library, but thats not accessible to the public. I wouldnt know how youd get into that database, though. Youd have to be a hacker to get into those systems.
Do you know anyone who can?
Im a tour guide, not a service catalogue, Yiri said. And that sure as hell aint in my line of work.
Teclis glanced over to Alaria and raised an eyebrow. Right then she knew that they had officially been working together for too long; she knew exactly what he was going to suggest.
Can we get at the files from the inside?
What do you mean? Yiri asked.
Like if we were to be on the inside of a military base, could we get the information?
I suppose if you had the right clearance codes you could, but youre not suggesting that
So wheres the nearest place to obtain fake identification? Teclis asked.
Now, Toothless, wait just a darn minute here-
Its Teclis, he said. And I was just asking a question. Youd do well to answer it if you want to leave the day with your money and your well, all of your extremities. He grinned. Yiri looked at him for a moment and then laughed.
Wow, youre more insane than I though, he said, still laughing. After chuckling for a few more moments, he became very serious. He looked at them, moved in closer and said in a low voice: But, if youre actually interested, I think I can get you the stuff you need to get clearance. Itll cost you though.
50 extra a day. Alaria offered.
Oh, no, friend. This is a one-time service. Ill do it for 3000.
What?! Alaria and Teclis chimed in unison.
Boys and girls, youre talking about serious stuff here, now. Youre no longer dealing with me on a .legitimate level.
Ugh, Teclis spat. I always knew he was a crook.
Come on now, Yiri said. Dont use that word. Just consider it. Youre right when you think that the only place youre going to find information thats not in the public database is by going to the military databases. Getting past M-1 security is hardly an easy task, but if you two are as experienced you come across as, you might be able to pull it off. Being inside the building isnt worth shit, though, unless you can get access to the computers. The question really is, whats it worth to you? A look of despair came over their faces. They didnt know how much they could afford to pay without selling some of their possessions.
We cant pay you that much, Alaria said. Well offer 800.
Thats far too low. 2500.
Why do I feel like weve done this already? she said. 1000.
Youre not coming up fast enough. 1700.
And youre not coming down fast enough, she said, staring at him coldly. 1250.
1500, and thats as low as it goes.
So make it 1350 and youve got a deal, she said. They locked eyes. Yiri ran the figures over in his head, considering the situation and comparing how good this number was to what he was aiming to get. Factors taken into consideration, the corners of his mouth drew up into a smirk.
Fine, he said, extending his hand. She took it, also happy, but looking heavily determined. So when?
Tomorrow, around nine at night sound good to you? Alaria asked. Ive had enough for tonight. If you could just show us back to our hotel, that would be great.
Maam, it would be my pleasure, he said. Though Id think you knew your way home at this point.
Lets just be sure, Teclis said. Wouldnt want to get lost now that were actually getting somewhere.
Later that Night
Yiri had gone home for the evening. He had agreed to meet them tomorrow by the large stone monolith that stood in the center of one of the traffic rotaries near their hotel. That left Alaria and Teclis a little less than twenty four hours to prepare what they could get together in the line of cash. It had occurred to them that not only would they have to pay Yiri, but they would probably have to pay whoever was getting them the identification as well. Some of their things would have to be pawned off tomorrow.
Their hotel room was plain. Two beds with beige sheets and gray trim, white dressing tables and cabinets, and a bathroom (which smelled like cleaner fluid) with light marble countertops. One of the few conveniences was a large, flat screen holo-projector which was currently displaying the news. Teclis showered while Alaria watched a story about the war between Denegrad and Lyons. Apparently, Lyons and M-1 forces had succeeded in blowing up a Denegrad Communication station, hurting the Denegradian forces badly. Interestingly enough, the battle over the station had left no survivors, and it looked as if someone had dropped a bomb on the place while both sides were fighting.
The news wasnt releasing a great deal of information about the incident, save for the fact that everything was alright and that once again M-1s military superiority was a good reason that the citizens of Ithilmar could feel safe. The stories about the Black Energy, however, led Alaria to believe that a great deal of censorship surrounded the media. She wouldnt find out until later that the media in Ithilmar was actually nothing more than the Public Relations department of the government. That is, nothing that the government didnt like was ever said.
She supposed that Ithilmar was an extremely secure place to live. The government practically ran your life. She had looked into the caste system while she was in the library, finding that it was not so easy to extend your life past what the country deemed appropriate. Different classes and types were designated with different jobs and for most people, their careers were chosen for them at a young age based on tests which were administered to all Ithilmarian youth. A person is then tracked down that career path and hopefully develops into a productive member of society. The part that annoyed Alaria the most, though, is that no one ever fought against it. No one saw it as wrong and no one saw fit to try to change it. It was simply ingrained into their psychology that they would do what the government saw fit. This was one of reasons that M-1 was so powerful: all citizens possessing skills deemed suitable for soldiers were tracked down a military path. This way, all of the strongest magic users and fighters simply fell into M-1 without giving second thought to the cards that the country had dealt for them.
Information like this had intrigue her and so she had spent a lot of time looking at ancient historical documents from around the founding of the nation, though the history presented in the textbooks was rather vague. The question was how could a group of people be so effectively brainwashed into doing just what they were told. Ithilmarian texts were clearly censored as well because the truth sometimes can hurt. Alaria would not be able to find out why until much later.
As it turned out, Ithilmar had started as somewhat of an experiment of a group of magic using humans called the Zelga. They wanted to test the limits of ethereal powers in controlling the will of others. Roughly six thousand years before, they had subjected the populace a neighboring city states to this type of control. As it happened, the control method proved quite powerful indeed. So powerful, in fact, that the conquered state could be used as an army for subjecting even more states to geographical rule, then later psychological rule. The Zelga found that they had at their disposal and army that would mindlessly die if they so chose to enact further conquest. The power of greed being what it is, the Zelga sought to increase their area of power and so they expanded their process of mental subjugation. Within twenty years, their empire had expanded to over half of the known world. At this point, the problem was that they had spread their magical influence too thin.
In the farthest reaches of the empire, control started to wane and people started to think for themselves again. People began to speak out against the rule of the Zelga, forming armies and soon starting rebellions.
The Zelga fought fervently to maintain their rule, but as their efforts in waging a war on so many fronts grew, their magical influence began to decay even more. Sensing a likely defeat at the hands of their once subjects, they took the group of humans over which they still held tight reign and fled into hiding. It was there that they continued to practice and enhance their magic, tightening their rule. Also, once their technological base was expanded enough, it was there that they launched the first of their cities into the air. The Zelga felt that as superior humans, they belonged in a superior position. In their nation in the sky, they made sure never to forget what happens when magical influence over a people is dispersed. They would never again let up this magical control, and so the people of the empire were forever sentenced to a life without choice. It was from that first colony of sky-settlers that they secretly began to expand again, slowly advancing their influence on the surface nations. This is where Ithilmar, the Nation of the Sky was born.
The Zelga didnt exist in modern Ithilmar. The ruling council was overthrown several hundred years ago and a matriarchal monarchy replaced it. The modernized Ithilmar never repeated the mistake of the Zelga, though, and their rulers knew the fault in allowing people free will. That is why people were tracked into accepting their fate: they were born into a society in which they could never know something such as free will. That was the answer to Alarias question.
Alaria had to settle without that answer for now, though as she pondered the mysteries of the news story lacking in concrete details. Her thought process was distracted by Teclis coming out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, scratching his head and dripping water on the floor.
Are you going to clean up after yourself? she asked him, half joking. He tilted his head sideways.
Perhaps after we formulate a plan for tomorrow, he said, matter-of-factly. That should be our first priority. After that I can worry about the mess on the floor.
Fair enough, she conceded. She was sitting on the edge of one of the beds. So whats first?
Money, he said. And how were going to get it.
We can sell our robes, she suggested, but he shook his head.
I dont think theyll sell too well, and Im going to want mine again when we get away from this place. However, some of your toys, the other hand
Hey! she said, sitting up straight. You cant just suggest getting rid of my stuff. What of yours are you going to sell off?
Alaria, I dont carry weapons. I barely have anything to sell but the clothes off of my back. You, on the other hand, have some material things that you can part with.
I like my swords, though she said, lowering her had in realization that he was partially right. Id rather not get rid of them if it can be avoided. Ill part with my jewelry, though. Rings and things are hardly as important.
I just hope this yields some answers to the questions.
I hope it doesnt get us killed, Teclis said honestly. Breaking into a military compound is not exactly something thats going to increase your life expectancy.
This is true . Alaria said. Then, Say, what about your necklace?
My necklace? Teclis asked, instinctively grabbing at the red stone that hung from his neck, even while showering.
Yeah, your necklace. We can probably get a nice chunk for it.
True he said, closing his eyes. But lets consider this in the off limits category along with your swords.
Teclis? Sentimental about something? I can hardly believe it. She chuckled.
I reserve sentimentality for things that are deeply important. This little stone just happens to be such. He rubbed it with his thumb and forefinger. Its the only thing I have cluing me into where I came from. You see, when they found me, this is the only thing I had with me. Its like some lost link to my past, though I dont know which doors it unlocks.
So were not gonna sell it? she asked, grinning and honestly thinking she could have persuaded him.
No, he said sternly. Id sooner sell that stupid Crystain blade of yours then sell this.
But that blade is the key to our quest! Alaria argued.
Your quest, Teclis corrected. Its the key to your quest. Did you stop to think that the stone might be a key to my quest?
What do you mean? she asked. Teclis sat down on the bed next to her, looking at the ground.
I suppose that when it became clear that we were going to Ithilmar, I started to wonder if Id find any clues about my past. I mean, look at my hair, Alaria. Im obviously connected with this place in some way or another. You know what that feels like to not have a place and to not have a past. I guess I thought if I could find out about my past, I might be able to find my place.
You have a place, she said solemnly. Youre place is with me, doing what we do. Isnt that a place enough.
Im not sure its the same, he said. Its still a matter of floating about with no real goal. Look what weve been doing since we started together, Alaria. We wander around and take random mercenary tasks. Thats not much of a place, is it?
Funny, she said, turning to look at him. I always thought you enjoyed it. He rose from the bed and looked down at her.
Sometimes I hide things, Alaria. You know that better than anyone at all. Its easier that way. People ask fewer questions if you dont give them a reason. Id just rather not be hassled by it. Does what we do put food on the table and clothes on our backs? Yes. That should be good enough for me. To want too much more is greedy, and I dont want to admit to being greedy. Do you see?
I get it, she said. You only came up here to find out about yourself, not to help me.
I didnt say that, Teclis retorted. Dont twist my words. She stared at him for a moment and didnt say anything. He sighed. In the plane, you asked me if I cared. I told you that I was here, and that was indication enough. That was before we got here and before I started reading though the library stuff. I didnt come up here for me, Alaria. That just happened to be an added bonus.
He walked over behind a changing panel, putting on some black, lightweight sleeping clothes. He came out again drying his hair with the towel.
Okay, she said. No jewelry, no swords. How about we do it the old fashioned way?
Whats that? Teclis asked.
We steal it, she said with a grin. Just like the good ole days.
If I had been in Tecliss shoes, Id have slit Yiris throat the first night I had met him. Yiri's a lucky man that he isnt so rash as me, Jack McKlane
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