Ertai glanced warily around as he and Seraphina emerged from their Gate. Even at this time of night, there should have been a guard on duty here. "Something's not right." He whispered. She nodded in agreement. Ertai could feel the bricks of the floor vibrating beneath them. "Shit, I think he's on his way here."
"Got it on the first try." She smiled at him. "Yep, sounds like good old Levy boy is going to pay us a visit. She looked down at herself, then grimaced. "I'm going to go change before he gets here."
"Huh? Why?" Ertai turned around, and his question was answered. "Oh." Even though she was wearing several layers of it, the fabric she had donned to sneak into Gaudamus' little party was pretty much transparent when wet. It hadn't been that noticeable at night under the Worldtree, but in the torch-lit Gate room, it was a different story. "Oh," he repeated, "sorry." He turned away.
"No you're not." She told him as they headed for the door.
He laughed. "No, I'm not." He began to turn to give her a quizzical look, but then caught himself. "You're a telepath?" He asked, while simultaneously throwing up all his mental shields.
"You're a fifteen year old human male. It wasn't that hard to figure out." She smiled. Ertai let his shields drop. "And yes, I am."
He stumbled a bit as they headed down the large halls, and they laughed. "Hoo boy, there's no one else around, is there?" He observed.
"Nope. My brother probably sent them away already." She responded. "Or else... Well, that's the only option I'm prepared to consider." After going up several flights of large stone stairs, they arrived at her room. "Wait out here."
Ertai obediently leaned against the wall by her door, and concentrated on the low rumbling beneath his feet. It hadn't increased since they'd arrived, which suggested the Lavoid was waiting for something, but what? Leng should be his main target, and given what little Billy had told him about Gazuga, Leng would surely have stayed here to fight. Ertai concentrated and reached out, sensing for Leng's chi, now that he knew how. Yes, the magus was still here, but not powered up at all. That was strange as well. He should be maxed out already, waiting to go. Sensing around the rest of the fortress, he detected a few Soul Knights still around, but they were slowly disappearing. There must have been another Gate room he didn't know about, but that stood to reason.
Reaching back toward Leng with his sixth sense, Ertai stumbled across Janus, and whoah! Of course, Magus conveyed an impression of pure power with his constantly severe expression and ever-present scythe, but this was even more than Ertai had expected. Although, he'd been gone for three weeks. Time enough for Magus to learn a few new tricks of his own...
He was aware that he'd been hearing a series of rustling sounds as Seraphina changed her clothes, but now they stopped. "You're thinking about fighting him, aren't you?" Her voice drifted through the door.
"I can't let Janus and Leng do it alone." Ertai called back. "That thing's father slaughtered my entire family. I need to return the favor."
"That's just a superficial reason. I can tell that with your personality, you were actually able to let that go, unlike Magus."
"You're good." Ertai smiled, before continuing. "The truth of it is, my powers scare me. There's no explanation as to why I've become as strong as I am. I can only assume that the reason for them is an equally powerful foe to face."
"You have a strange way of thinking." She responded. "You think your power is a gift from God to allow you to defeat your enemies?" He didn't say anything. "Trust me, the power is yours, and yours alone." The door opened, and she stepped out. She was dressed in a black combat suit similar to Ertai's, with a slightly curved, single-edged sword strapped to her back. "And I also know that you alone can't hope to defeat him."
Now, Ertai grinned dangerously. "I don't need to hope, I know I can."
She fake-smiled at him, before grimacing. "It's good that you're so confident, but don't underestimate your enemy."
"Hey, don't worry. He'll get my best stuff. Now come on, let's go find the magi."
Tempo and Lion emerged from the Gate looking ready to pound the crap out of anyone handy, but after no threat showed itself, they turned to check on the ladies. Schala didn't have any visible injuries, but she still looked shaken. "Damn that Moogoo!" Tempo clenched his fists. "What the hell is his deal, anyway?"
Schala looked up at him. "What did you say?"
"Huh?" Tempo's angry expression quickly disappeared at the sound of her voice. "I was just wondering what Moogoo's deal is anyway." She looked thoughtful, though she continued to tremble. "What?"
"Nothing. Just more deja vu." She shook her head.
"Do you have any idea why Moogoo keeps singling you out?" Tempo asked. She looked up at him. "I mean, not to belittle you or anything, but Lion and I should have been his primary targets, not you."
"He seems to think I'm controlled by the Lavoid, or something."
"But that's ridiculous!" He protested. "You told him yourself that you wanted to kill it!"
"It's because of the nooze." She looked down at the ground dejectedly.
"What keeps me alive, or at least a facsimile."
"Okay... Now, the first time we met, he said he felt Lavoid energy coming from it..." As he heard that, Lion frowned, and closed his eyes.
"Yeah..." Schala still didn't want to talk about it, but given how Moogoo's attack had affected her, she felt that she needed to. "It's by the good grace of Lavos that I'm still 'alive'." Tempo frowned, trying to think of what to ask next.
"It's true." Lion confirmed. "It's faint, but I can feel a power coming from her similar to the power emitted by the Weapons under Lavoid control."
"It's faint?" Schala looked directly at Lion.
"Yeah, why? Is that bad?"
"Yeah, real bad." Schala looked at the floor again, biting her lip. She sighed, and began explaining. "I was killed by a human under the complete control of Lavos, in a manner that vaporised most of my internal organs, making any normal kind of spell that would bring the dead back to life useless." Tempo and Lion sat down next to her, looking concerned. She almost smiled. "So my m... this person, used lava to melt a creature called a Nu into a black ooze, and somehow used that to bring me back to life." Tempo and Lion wrinkled their noses. "Yeah, and it's even less fun than it sounds. Furthermore, the substance would wear out over time, requiring a new batch be made every month."
"It's wearing out, then." Lion guessed correctly.
"Yeah." She bit her lip, before continuing. "In the actual time I've been awake, it's only been a couple weeks since my last recharge, but Moogoo's little trick has sucked a lot out of me. Plus, I've been in suspended animation for aeons, and who knows how that's affected it."
Lion looked thoughtful. "My specialty is solar power, not magic, but I believe Soultech in my time has spells advanced enough to regenerate specific internal organs." Schala seemed to mull that over. "Once that was accomplished, a standard regeneration spell should work on you."
Schala almost looked hopeful for a minute, but then she shook her head. "That's no good. I was dead for well over ten minutes before I first got the nooze."
"Huh? Why's that a problem?" Tempo asked.
"The brain starts to take damage after only four and a half minutes without oxygen." Lion explained. "Even if we brought her brain back to life, there's no guarantee that it would work at all. We'd need some complicated neuromancy to fix that, and there are only a couple people in the world with that knowledge."
"Let me guess, all top Soultech troops?" Tempo groaned.
"You got it."
But then, Tempo's expression brightened. "Maybe the Soultech leaders in my time can do it!"
Schala finally stood up. "That's all well and good, but we need to figure out where we are first."
"Habeeb said something about someone knocking some sense into us." Lion stood up too, frowning. Tempo crawled over to check on Silva. "It could be that another ally of theirs is in this place." He went to the door of the small, bare room they had appeared in, and looked up and down the hall. "There's no one else around." He reported.
"There's not a scratch on her." Tempo observed, surprised. "It looks like she's just asleep."
"It must have been that spell of yours." Lion turned back to look at him. "What was that, anyway? Spells that heal your allies and harm your enemies at the same time are very difficult to pull off, never mind one as powerful as that was."
"I don't know what I did, exactly." Tempo shrugged. "I just compressed all the energy on my wavelength into one attack."
"Well that doesn't make sense..." Lion frowned. "That should've just made another green explosion. Weird..."
Tempo ignored him for the moment, and shook Silva gently. "Mmm?" She stretched before opening her eyes, and then gasped. "What happened?"
"Relax. Lion and I took care of those two." Silva sat up, fists clenched in her lap, looking angry. "What's wrong?"
She fixed him with a look that said he really should have known what she was talking about. "I'm so powerless! One little kick and I'm floored, while you guys are playing demi-god on the other side of the room..."
"Silva, whoah! We're very special cases! We all know Lion's story, and... there's something weird going on inside of me. I'm not sure what, but I can feel it."
Silva turned to Schala. "And what about you?"
Schala almost laughed a little. "Rest assured, there's an explanation for me, as well. Though if you think I'm in the same league as those two, think again."
Silva looked down at her hands again. "Well, I'm not sure if I should keep traveling with you guys if, if..." She trailed off, a vacant look on her face.
"What's wrong?" Tempo grabbed her hand.
"Hey, what's that rumbling?" Schala asked, putting her hand on the floor.
Lion felt a sinking feeling in his gut as he put it together. He reached out, sensing... "Oh, God." He finally said, putting his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. "The alien is... here."
"Right here?" Schala whirled at him.
"Yeah." He nodded weakly. "And... He's much more powerful... than I ever imagined."
"You can sense that much?" Tempo was incredulous.
"Well, he's only about five hundred feet beneath us." Lion smiled weakly.
"Okay then." Schala dusted her hands off, and headed for the door. "Right now, we've got two options. We can stay here and die, or we can look for a way out."
"That means we've got no options." Tempo said calmly. "Let's look for another one of those time portals, or at the very least, get the hell away from here."
"What's he waiting for anyway?" Ertai wondered as they headed toward Leng's quarters.
"Leng still hasn't powered up..." Seraphina observed. "But he isn't the kind of being that would care about something like that."
Ertai nodded. "Besides, Janus is ready to rock, and he and Leng are in the same place now." He paused for a moment, sensing some more. "He's still not moving at all. He must not be after us or Leng. But then who?" He continued on to a four way junction in the halls, caught something out of the corner of his eye, and- "You've gotta be kidding me."
"Yeah, our friend Lev is powering up. He's getting ready to fight after all." The ground lurched under them, but Ertai ignored it for the moment.
"That's not what I meant. Scan the four humans that just walked by down there." She raised an eyebrow, but did as he asked.
"Their chi is nothing special." She informed him. "Must be Soul Knight stragglers."
"Chi is no real indication of power anyway." Ertai responded, and began jogging down the right fork of the intersection. "This time, I was close enough that I know my eyes aren't playing tricks on me." Seraphina began jogging after him, but she was left in the dust as he suddenly burst into an all out sprint, shouting. "Schaaalaaaaaaaa!!!"
Schala whirled around as she heard her name being called. "What in the world? Who else knows I'm here?"
"It must be the alien!" Lion shouted. "That lurch we felt must have been him surfacing!"
"It's coming from that way." Tempo pointed at the intersection they had just passed. "Quick! Ladies, get behind us!" Frowning, they complied. Tempo and Lion faced the passageway, grim expressions on their faces. "Can we beat him?" Tempo asked Lion, not moving his line of sight.
"No." Lion frowned. "But if we're careful, we might... live."
They heard the sound again; "Schalaaaaaaa!!"
"Wait a second." Schala put her arm on Tempo's shoulder, pushing past him. "That's no alien. That's..." She began hurrying down the hall. But before she got very far, a charging figure rounded the corner, a huge grin on his highly recognizable face. "Ertai!!" She practically shrieked with joy, hurrying toward him.
"Schala!! I knew you were here! I just knew it!!" They barrelled into each other in what would have been a jarring, bruise inducing crash under normal circumstances. Schala tried to embrace him around the shoulders, but found that he was too tall for that now, and threw her arms around his back. "Oh, thank God you're okay!" He exclaimed as he returned the hug. She kept squeezing him as the others hurried up, wondering what was going on.
"How did you get here?" She demanded, and then, scrutinizing him, "And so old?" She reached up with one hand, tickling the chin where the foundations of a goatee were beginning to appear.
"I'll be glad to answer that." He responded, squeezing her tighter. "But, at the risk of ruining the moment, I must inform you that as a teenage male, if you keep this up, I'll be required to cop a feel." She laughed, and lightly slapped him on the face as she took a step back. "I got a year's worth of training done in three weeks." He told her, smiling. "I'm fifteen now. I came here with Janus to look for you."
"Janus is here too?" He nodded vigorously. "We've got to find him and go before the Lavoid gets here!"
"Whoah, hold on a second!" Tempo exclaimed. "Who exactly are you?" Tempo couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. Schala was grinning like a maniac, laughing with joy. It totally contradicted everything he had observed about her so far.
Schala stepped to the side, allowing everyone to get a good look at him. "Everybody, this is Ertai Vecar. If there was any justice in the world, he'd be my brother in law by now." Her grin subsided a bit at that thought.
Ertai frowned a bit at that, but quickly supressed it. Now was definitely not the time. "Looks like you're doing a good job of being a spirit, Schala." He observed. "The Queen, challenging the Lavoid with her small band of loyal knights."
"Queen?" Tempo held up a hand, but the conversation was continuing without him.
"I suppose, but I haven't had a lot of luck yet." She looked at the floor, but kept smiling. "Oh, I just can't believe you're alive!"
Ertai feigned a look of hurt. "My dear Schala, give me more credit than that!"
"I didn't mean it that way!" She laughed. "Lavos destroyed all of Zeal. I just assumed that when he did..."
"I probably would have died then," Ertai admitted, "but I wasn't there! He sucked me away to another time, just like Janus!"
"That's amazing!" She beamed at him. It seemed to Tempo that if they got any happier, they would spontaneously burst into song and dance. "Anyway," she settled down a bit, "this is Tempo, Lion, and Silva." She pointed at each in turn. "I haven't gotten any last names, actually."
"Lionello is the full name, actually." Lion said as he shook Ertai's hand. Seraphina gasped as she heard that, but said nothing yet.
"Yeah, Tempo. Good ta'meetcha." Tempo shook Ertai's hand next. Ertai got a funny look on his face.
"Have we... met before?" He gave Tempo an odd look. That made Schala's grin broaden, though neither had any idea why. "I mean, stupid question, I know. But I'm having a strong bout of deja vu right now."
"Now that you mention it, I am kind of getting a surreal feeling here." Tempo shook his head. "But never mind that. Shouldn't we be hurrying along now?" Suddenly, a huge, shuddering explosion rattled the halls. A few stones dropped down from the ceiling.
"Oh, man, I forgot...!" Ertai trailed off as he hurried to sense what was going on. The color drained from his face as he did so. "No!! Leng is gone! Magus is almost dead! This is horrible!"
"We've gotta go now!!" Seraphina took off sprinting back down the hall, not even waiting to see if he was following.
"Schala, you have to get out of here!" Ertai turned back to her.
"What about you?!" She demanded.
"I'll stay and fight him!"
"But, you can't-"
"Schala, please trust me." He put his hands on her shoulders. "I was hoping we could have a series of wacky adventures and eventually defeat him together, like Crono and Magus did on Elosia. But, it looks like I have to face him here."
"No! You can't sacrifice yourself just to save us! Lion and Tempo are both strong! If we fight alongside you, we..."
Ertai was shaking his head. "Schala, no." Then, he grinned wickedly. "When did I say anything about sacrificing myself? I'm going to kill him."
"Now come on! Do you honestly think..." She trailed off as she saw the look in his eyes.
"Yes, I do honestly think I can beat him. I know you won't believe it, but right now I'm much stronger than all of you put together."
"Wanna bet?" Lion could be heard in the background.
"If Leng's gone and Magus has been defeated, I may just be the strongest human on this planet!" He hugged her again, then stepped away. "Believe in me."
She sighed. "I do believe that if anyone can do it, it's you, but..."
He smiled, and began walking backwards, away from her. "I will see you again. I promise." Then, he took off down the hall in a blur.
"You big dope..." She called after him. "You better not be lying." She whirled to face the others. "Well, what are you waiting for?! Let's get out of here!!" They obediently began running in the direction Ertai had hurriedly pointed.
"How come she gets to be in charge all of a sudden?" Lion grinned to Tempo as they were racing after her.
"I don't know, but I'm not about to argue!"
A short time before...
Magus burst into Leng's study, only to find his fellow wizard with his head down in his hands, unmoving. "What the hell are you still doing here?!" Magus demanded. "We have to get ready to fight!"
Leng slowly lifted his head off his desk, and Magus was surprised to see tears in his eyes. "My brothers have fallen. With them, the Lavoid will have gained an intimate knowledge of all my spells and fighting styles. It's pointless for me to fight him." Leng shook his head sadly. He was startled back into alertness when Magus slammed his fists down on the desk with a loud bang.
"I don't care!!" He growled. "He obviously knows we're here, or he would have vaporised the whole base already! You expect me to do all the fighting by myself?!"
"No one says you have to fight." Leng gestured helplessly.
"What am I supposed to do? Just let him kill me or take control of me?!" Magus demanded. Then he saw the look in Leng's eyes. "Oh, shit. You selfish bastard."
"At least I'll be with my family again." Leng put his head back down.
Magus shook his head in frustration, and spat on the desk before turning his back to Leng. "The weak always strive to be weaker..." He then rushed out the door. So he didn't hear the DNA scanner suddenly start beeping wildly, indicating that the person the program was searching for was not only in the same time period, but very near. Leng jerked his head up, just in time to see a compound spike smash through the apparatus, reducing it to various piles of scrap. Many more soon followed.
Leng jumped up, suddenly rediscovering a will he had just tried to convince Magus that he didn't have. "Bring it on, you bastard!! You'll find that I'm much stronger than my brothers!" His angry yell flicked spittle at the Lavoid spines.
'Yes, you might actually last long enough to scream out in pain before dying.' A smug voice entered his head.
Leng's hands began to glow. "Graaah... Magnum Nova!!" A small, metallic-grey ball formed in midair, then exploded into thousands of razor sharp shards, piercing the armored spines with ease. In response, they stopped ascending through the ground, and the tips all began to glow a yellowish orange. "What's the matter?!" Leng yelled to the air, slightly frantically. "Are you too afraid to come out of your shell and face me?!"
'You're not worth the time it would take.' The Lavoid responded calmly. Before Leng could say anything else, at least ten thin fire lasers blasted through his body with ease, purposely not hot enough to cauterize the wounds they made. Blood flew everywhere.
"D-damn it..." Leng hacked up blood as he sank to the floor. The needles quickly began to glow again. "Some day, someone is going to make you pay..."
'I doubt that.' Came the response. 'Now, are you determined to prove me wrong? Aren't you going to scream?'
"As you command." Leng hissed, managing to grin dangerously one last time. He yelled loudly as the fire lasers fired again, but no one would have ever deemed the noise he made a scream. "Damn you!! DAMN YOU LEEEVAASOOOOOOOOOOOOS!!!!!"
"Strength is the only certainty in this world. The rest is just a delusion for the weak." - Vegeta, Dragon Ball Z
Hell Battle 3
Chrono Trigger Fanfic