Seraphina cried out as the Gate spit them out about twenty feet above their destination. Ertai landed roughly on his back and lay there, unmoving. Seraphina's feet smashed through whatever the surface was, and she sank up to her knees before she came to a painful halt. As she took in their surroundings, she found that they were on a crude wooden raft in the middle of an ocean. Some bleached, scattered bones were wedged in between the logs, and several completely empty canteens were strewn over the deck. Some type of fungus was growing on what remained of a tattered sail. The wood the raft was made of was well on its way to rotten, which was why her feet had passed through it so easily. Grimacing, she pulled her scraped legs out of the holes they had made and crawled over to Ertai on all fours. "Are you still with me?" She shook him a little more roughly than she probably should have.
"For the moment." His hoarse voice responded. "My lungs..." He paused to breathe for a moment. "Filled with fluid."
"I don't have any medical supplies in my belt." She sighed as she sat down beside him. "Well, nothing that can handle this, anyway."
"Neither do I." He croaked out. She put a hand on his forehead again, and discovered that he seemed even hotter than before. Though it might have been the effect of the cool sea air at night. "C-cold." He got out through chattering teeth.
"I'm sorry, I don't have anything..." She gestured helplessly.
"Sail!" He pointed weakly. Looking surprised, she carefully stood up. She found that the sail was simply nailed into place, so she began cutting it loose with her sword. When she'd finished, she regarded her sword disapprovingly, then made to throw it into the water. "No!" Ertai cried. She looked at him questioningly. "Might come in handy..."
"You still have your molesteel knife, don't you?" She sat down again, and threw the sail on top of him, doing her best to tuck him in.
"Oh. Yeah." He patted his utility belt underneath the cloth. "I forgot." Suddenly, his left arm jerked out from under the improvised blanket, trying frantically to push Seraphina away.
"What's the mat- oh." She backed away a bit as he vomited blood. Though he'd done a good job of aiming to the side, an ugly red blob now ran from his head down the sail.
"S-sorry." He whispered.
"It's not your fault." She put her right hand on his shoulder.
"Even so." He smiled weakly. "Ugh... I need sleep."
Her eyes widened at that. "No! Stay with me!"
"We don't have any medicine." His eyes closed, though he was trying to keep them open. "We're in the middle of nowhere. There's nothing we can do."
"Wait!" Her eyes lit up. "Can't you teleport us away from here?"
"Even I..." he paused to wheeze, "can't teleport through time. I don't know when we are."
"But there's... There has to be something we can do!" She protested.
Ertai could almost picture Levasos' disease destroying his white blood cells as he felt his strength leaving him. "Nothing." His tongue felt heavy. He was beginning to slur his words. "I'm sorry... broke my probise..."
She took his left hand in her right. "You didn't make me any promises." She told him, as if nothing at all was wrong. "What do you mean?"
"I probised... you wouldn' be alone." His hand went limp in her grasp for a moment, before strengthening. His breathing was becoming labored. Suddenly, his eyes fluttered open again, and his chest lurched off of the wood. "Tell me one more thing. Was I just being an idiot, thinking I could kill Levasos? Did I ever really have a chance?" He tried to stay that way until she could give him an answer, but he collapsed back to the deck. His lungs were flooded. He couldn't get any air.
A few tears streamed down her face as she saw his breathing becoming more and more shallow. She wracked her brain for options, but there weren't any. Finally, Ertai let out what sounded like a soft gasp of surprise, and stopped breathing. "Oh!" She squeezed his hand, but got no response. "You were wonderful, Ertai. You were amazing." She hoped he'd heard those words.
Ertai found himself retreating to the inner recesses of his consciousness as his body shut down. It almost seemed like he'd shed the sack of bones and meat that made up most of him, and was just pure thought now, though not for very long. 'Well, that was a hell of a day.' He observed to himself. 'Started out like any other, but then I saved the girl, almost saved the world, and ended up dead. I did not see that one coming.' He let out a mental sigh, glad that he didn't have to use his lungs to do that much. 'Hell of a day. Schala, I hope you have better luck when the time comes...' Then, everything went black.
The End of Time, a Half Hour Prior
Tempo finally paused to evaluate himself as they stepped back onto the grey bricks of the End of Time. "Eesh, I got some kind of crap all over me. What is this stuff?" He brushed off his shoulder, and a small cloud of dust rose into the air.
"Rubble from the fortress, no doubt." Lion brushed himself off as well. Then he looked back at Tempo. "So, where to next, fearless leader?"
"A good night's sleep." Tempo responded. "Though exactly where, I don't know yet." They slowly walked back over to Keldon's platform, limping or pausing to wince now that the adrenaline had worn off. "I see that the pillars are back." Tempo observed once they arrived.
"Indeed." The mysterious man nodded. "Will you be taking off again?"
Tempo thought it over for a minute. "Lesse, today it's... Holy crap, it's only Sunday night! Seems like we were last here a lot longer than last nigh...." Tempo frowned.
"What is it?" Silva asked.
Tempo scratched his chin. "When Garin sent us here from the basketball game, it was somewhere around the neighborhood of nine p.m. But when we went back to Lion's time, it was still morning."
Lion laughed a little. "Yeah, Garin. I'd almost forgotten about him."
"Do you think he's connected with Moogoo and the others?" Schala raised an eyebrow.
Lion shook his head. "No. His power was nothing like Moogoo and Habeeb's. Or the Lavoid, for that matter."
"Damn." Tempo sighed. "If he's not allied with any of the major players in this conflict, Schala's theory may be right. He may be pulling all of our strings."
"If he has that much power," Schala looked thoughtful, "he may have manipulated time so that we arrived at the Soultech building just in time for Lion to see Tess."
"But what does he want?" Tempo looked a little angry now. "What the hell does he want? I fail to see any overarching plan or strategy behind killing the love of my life, invading my dreams, beating the crap out of me, and getting me tangled up in Lion's mess. No offense." He was quick to add, glancing at Lion.
"You don't have to be apprehensive. I know it was quite a large mess." Lion folded his arms. "If you're planning on getting some rest, I'll do the same, in a sense." He started to head back toward the Gates. "I need to let Tess know we made it out okay." Now, he smiled. "And I won't be back tonight. If anyone has any questions, ask 'em now."
"Well, I got one. You didn't really have your powers the whole time, did you?" Tempo asked.
"Of course not." Lion shook his head. "Though it was a lot of fun to screw with Habeeb and make him think I did. Ocello may have been right about 'synth power, but a little helping of X-63 I stole from one of the Soultech outposts in the frontier added some extra persuasiveness to his argument."
Tempo laughed. "Very nice." Lion headed back to the Gates. "See you in the morning then. Enjoy."
Lion smirked. "You have no idea." Then, he stepped into the timestream, and was gone.
"I have some idea." Tempo whispered to himself, somehow managing to smile and frown at the same time.
"So Tempo, are we going home or what?" Silva asked, to change the subject.
Tempo laughed a little. "Well, I imagine the cops are after me for trashing the gym, so I'll stay here. You do what you want though."
"I better stay here too then." She bit her thumbnail, frowning. "If I go home without you, I probably won't come back."
"Are you sure that's not what you want?" Tempo raised an eyebrow. "Now that the Gates are back, we can go anywhere we want. I'm going to go with Lion to kill the Lavoid, because I don't want to see this planet get trashed, but you certainly don't have to come. You either." He turned to Schala.
"Hey, I'm the one who wanted to kill him in the first place, remember?" She smiled a bit as well. "I'm not going anywhere."
"I won't think any less of you if you go home." Tempo turned back to Silva.
"No, Tempo, I have to go with you." Tempo got a slightly smug look on his face. She didn't notice. "When we were in the fortress, I could feel the Lavoid approaching us. I didn't feel his power, like Lion. At least, I don't think so. I just felt him."
"There's a joke there that I'm not even gonna touch." Tempo waved his hands in front of him.
"Oh, come on! I'm being serious!" She scolded him.
"Yeah, yeah. Sorry." Tempo forced himself to stop smiling. "Anyway, this is really the first time that we've been in control of where we can go. The last time, going anywhere but home wasn't even an option. So now my question is, where should we head to when Lion gets back?"
"2600 A.D." Schala answered right away. "We kill him before he has a chance to cause Armageddon."
"Of course." Tempo nodded. "But would that solve the problem?"
"Why wouldn't it?" Schala shrugged.
"What about Gazuga?" He asked.
"Remember, when we first got to Moogoo's room in the middle ages, he said something like 'Disciples of Gazuga, receive my offerings!' in an overdramatic voice. Plus, why did Habeeb and Moogoo send us to that fortress if there was no one there to fight us? And what about the two people that girl with Ertai mentioned? Leng and Magus, if I remember correctly."
"Magus is my brother, I'm assuming." Schala nodded. "Leng, I have no idea."
"In any case, I think there's more going on here than just the Lavoid."
"Levasos." Silva broke in.
"What?" Tempo turned back to her.
"His name is Levasos." Silva said earnestly. Tempo was looking a little weirded out now.
"Oooookay. His name can be Francis Poodle-Buns for all I care. I don't plan on getting to know him." Tempo rubbed his eyes. "Anyway, sleep time. Tempo talk in morning!" He announced.
"Tempo talk sentence fragments in morning too?" Schala asked him.
"Depend on how well he sleep!" Tempo folded his arms, then looked at Keldon. "Um, do you have room for us to stay here tonight? We could just crash on the floor of your room, if you don't mind."
"This is my room." Keldon deadpanned. "Thanks for including me in the conversation, by the way."
"Oh, sorry." Tempo sheepishly rubbed his head. "But what do you mean, this is your room?"
"I don't sleep." Keldon explained. Tempo's eyes widened. "I'm not exactly mortal, in the traditional sense."
Schala shook her head, as if remembering something. "Wait a minute. Last time we were here, you said you 'see an awful lot from up here'. Can you see how Ertai is doing against... Levasos?" She got a feel for the name.
"Certainly." Keldon nodded. His eyes lost focus, and he was silent for several seconds before answering. "He's winning."
"He is?!" All three of them exclaimed at the same time.
"In the sense of who's taking more physical damage in the battle, yes." He nodded. "However, Levasos cannot be destroyed just by killing his physical form..."
"What?" Tempo demanded. "That's cheating!"
"Cheating?" Keldon raised an eyebrow. "I'm surprised you're still thinking in such terms of black and white."
"Why not?" Tempo's smirk returned. "We know he destroys this planet in the future. We're trying to stop him, because we just want to live peaceful lives. Sometimes black and white is accurate."
"He isn't evil." Keldon shook his head.
"What are you talking about?!" Tempo sounded like he was talking to a five year old. "We know that in 2600 A.D., he fries the planet so that only twenty four humans survive! How is that not evil?"
"He didn't do it for himself. He did it to save humanity from itself."
"You almost sound like you're on his side." Tempo frowned.
"Who says I'm not?" Keldon smiled. The other three looked like they were all ready to jump away from him. "I certainly don't want him to achieve his goals, but his intentions are noble. It's just his reasoning that is flawed. Anyway..." Keldon snapped his fingers, and three beds instantly appeared on the platform. "I have no intention of harming any of you, if that's what you're worried about."
Tempo continued giving him a funny look, but unclipped his weapon belt and let it thunk to the ground anyway. He unbuckled his armor and helmet, kicked off his shoes, and climbed under the covers without another word. The ladies stared at him for a second, then mimicked his actions. "Are you just gonna stand there all night?" Tempo called over his shoulder.
"No, actually." Keldon said, and abruptly disappeared. Tempo snorted, burrowed into the mattress, and was asleep within two minutes.
"His abilities have made him arrogant..." - Obi-Wan Kenobi, Attack of the Clones
Chrono Trigger Fanfic