Chrono Trigger: Dangerous Times Chapter 4
By Nihon Soba
Outskirts of Porre, circa 1004 A.D.
Near where the haunted forest used to be in 600 A.D., there was a large, sturdy house. The house did not resemble other houses around Porre. Its walls were constructed of brick, and the roof was made of hardwood covered with what looked like dark glass shingles. A passerby would not notice anything strange about it, of course. What a passerby wouldnt know is that the foundation of the house was made of rubber, so that in the event of an earthquake it would lessen the damage. There was an internal heating/cooling system, primitive by future standards but still efficient. The shingles were actually solar collectors (very hard to make and find materials for). The house was cleaned and tended by robots. Though the droids were also primitive (lacking the ability to talk and hold a conversation), they were able cleaners and servants. The house had one more secret: an underground laboratory. Wheras the floor of the house was either wood or stone, the floor of the laboratory was linoleum. However, the owner of this wasnt a chemist or biologist. Rather, she was more of, um, a mechanic/inventor/scientist.
Lucca sat hunched down in front of a gadget that looked like some sort of projector. She was wearing a smeared, white t-shirt with a design on it that was too faded to make out. She wore pants made from denim, ripped and tattered in several places. Lucca wore large, wide glasses that had a tendency to slide down the bridge of her nose often. Her hair was now shoulder length, having grown in the past few years, still the color of shimmering lavender. A few stubborn strands fell into her face as she was working. Making an exasperated sound, Lucca pushed them out of her face, reaching for piece of string to tie it back into a ponytail. With that done, Lucca gave her attention back to her work.
The object would have resembled an old-fashioned movie projector. The exterior was a dull gray metal covered with a few switches. The inside, however, was more complex. Unbeknownst to her friends, Lucca had taken one last ride before dismantling the Epoch. She had visited the future in the year 2000 A.D., one year Lavos had emerged and been defeated. Visiting places such as junkyards and pawn shops in several urban areas, she had managed to scrounge up some material she wouldnt have been able to find anywhere in 1000 A.D.; plastics, circuitboards, an outdated but functional computer, microchips, several blueprints, some new clothes (she wanted futuristic ones!), flourescent lights, lots of scrap metal she could use to her advantage, and several firearms. There was much more but most of it was stashed in her laboratory. Lucca had used the blueprints to create solar panels to power her electric utilities, a windmill generator, and a large battery to store the power when it was cloudy or not windy. Using some cables and wires and plastics, she had placed electrical outlets at strategic places around her house. Her computer was on a desk in one corner of the laboratory. Flourescent lights and incandescent lights lined her ceilings. Other technological wonders were scattered all over Luccas house.
Her father, Taban, had been a great help. Without him, Lucca doubted she could have routed all of the electrical wires or have built this house. Taban was a born mechie, as Lucca called herself, as well as a great carpenter. Lucca owed much of her work to him. She made periodic visits to her father and mother, who could now walk thanks to Luccas traveling into a time portal in a forest when she was camping with her friends.
The interior of the projector-like object was a maze of circuitry and wires that had taken Lucca months to perfect. Even now, she wasnt so sure that it was perfectly made. But she had to move by trial and error, since people with the expertise were rare, if around at all.
There. That oughtta keep it secure. Lucca said triumphantly. Her device was now complete. Now came the testing. If all was sucessful, she would be able to create a time gate large enough to accomodate one person, but only for a short while. Though not as good as the Epoch, the machine would allow her to gather more materials and maybe blueprints on how to create those materials for herself. Then, of course she would visit Robo...
Cmon, dont let me down! Lucca had just flipped the main switch, and awaited results nervously. The machine made a strange noise, the glass lens of it shimmering with blue light. A think ray of this blue light slowly made its way in front of Lucca. She grinned and shivered like an exited little girl, awaiting the result. But something went wrong.
The blue light stopped abruptly, though the noise the machine made was still going on. A crackle could be heard, and sparks were coming out of the rear of the projector.
No! yelled Lucca, but to no avail. Smoke started to rise out of the machine, and it cracked open, exposing its fried internal circuitry. The area was filled with black, oily smoke and the disgusting smell of burning plastic. Lucca coughed, waving away the smoke but not enough to keep it from discoloring her shirt and getting a kind of soot on her face. She turned on an air extractor and stood there, shocked. After a few minutes, she began to react.
Damn! she kicked the slagged machine. Piece of junk! I had it perfect! How could anything go wrong?! Arrgh!!!!!!! she vented her anger out of the lifeless projector. Lucca gave it another good solid kick, then fell back, clutching her hurting toe. Aaagh! Ow! My toe! Lucca, you are such a moron! she chided herself, resolving to double check her experiments next time. Well, its back to square one now...
Sighing, Lucca pressed a button nest to the air extractor button on the wall. A panel in the wall opened up, and out came a small robot on wheels. Looking more like a small wastebucket with mulltiple arms on wheels, the machine was more than suited for this kind of work. The robot began sweeping the bits of scrap metal into itself, carefully cleaning the spot on the floor with chemicals before leaving. With an electronic whistle, the robot wheeled its way back into the wall where it came from.
Lucca turned off the air extractor and began walking up the stairs that led to the kitchen of her house. She turned off the lights in the laboratory before closing the maglock door behind her. The door would only open if she entered a three digit code into a numeric keypad next to the door. Lucca untied her ponytail and let her lavender hair fall onto her shoulders. Physically and mentally exhausted, she walked out of the kitchen and plopped down on a large easy chair. For the time being, she busied herself by thinking of how she could fix the problem and begin again on her creation. She had a lot of supplies, but like everything else, they were limited. But Lucca was not the kind of person to give up. She did not give up when she found out Lavos was going to destroy the world. No way.
The chime on her doorbell abruptly erased her thoughts. Lucca got up off the chair and walked toward the living room, a large, spacious area with a fireplace and several sofas lined against the wall. The door to the outside was on the wall in that room. Without even bothering to look in the peephole to see who it was, Lucca started to open the door. It was late afternon, almost evening now. She did not want to be disturbed. If it was another tax collector, Luca would give him hell before he decided to come here again around this time. With that, she gave the doorknob a turn and opened the door. Crono and Marle were standing there.
Luccas shock and suprise gave away to sheer joy. Crono! Marle! Hey you guys! Her two visitors were no less happy.
Lucca! Good to see ya again! Crono gave her a strong hug, then released his crushing grip to let Marle greet her. Weve missed you!
Marle gave Lucca a soft hug and they exchanged greetings. Lucca! Oh God, its been forever! Youve changed!
Lucca chuckled. Well, not really. I mean, just the way I look... suddenly it dawned on her. There she was greeting her decently dressed friends wearing ripped denim pants and a dirty shirt, and covered in soot and grease and God-knows-what. Oh my God! Um, just come inside and make yourselves comfortable, Ill be right back! and with that, Lucca ran down a hallway. After a few minutes, The sound of running water could be heard. Marle and Crono waited patiently in the living room, occassionally cracking a joke or two. Crono got brave enough to jokingly remark about how Lucca had grown in, ah, other ways. For that, he recieved a solid kick in the arse from his wife and a slap on the face, later for which she apologized. Lucca arrived about 10 minutes later, now clean and wearing a black t-shirt with loose denim shorts. She jumped on an easy chair, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose before speaking.
Wow! So, you, guys just decided to stop by?
Crono answered her. Well, it was sort of a walk but we decided that wed just visit you anyway. Marle nodded enthusiastically.
Yeah! Its been ages, Lucca! What have you been up to? she inquired.
Lucca stretched back, considering what to tell her friends. She thought theyd freak out if she told them what she was really doing... Well, nothing much. she casually lied. I created these robots to do all my house chores! Now I can lie back and relax and be fanned! as if on cue, a tiny, wheeled robot rolled up from the hall with a huge fan and proceeded with its programming. Lucca propped up her feet on the robot as it fanned its mistress. Crono and Marle just stared for a minute.
Wow Lucca... Marle said after a while. You live almost better than the people at Guardia Castle.
Lucca snickered. Aint it the truth! Marle was used to her behavior by now.
Crono grinned. Well, now that were here, how about a night at Porre? Lucca thought it over, then Crono continued. Of course, if you arent busy...
Lucca paused. No! I mean, no Im not really busy. Well, youre idea sounds great! I havent been to town in a while. How about in a hour or so? she said, frustratingly pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose again. Marle was enthusiastic about the offer.
Sure! We walked all the way over here, anyway. We should at least have some fun!
Lucca grinned mischeviously. OK!
Later in the evening, the three were in the town of Porre. Lucca had set up her security system for her house before she left. Crono had accused her of being paranoid, but Lucca was undaunted. She would not let any of her secrets fall prey to anyone. The three were in the famous bar of Porre. In four years, the place was made larger and had more accomodations. But some things were the same. The blasted cook kept trying to sell his jerky for outrageous prices, and the piano man still was the musical provider. In the bar, Crono busied himself on a stool with spirits, while Marle busied herself at the piano mans side, constantly requesting certain songs while she held a mug of house brew in one hand. Lucca sat on a stool next to Crono, an almost untouched mug of cider in front of her. She was thinking. What was wrong with my Portal Spawner? I swear, I got all the shematics and circuitry correct. Ill have to check it out later...
Hey, Lucca! You havent touched your drink. noted Crono, interrupting her thoughts. He was shouting over the din of other customers drinking, laughing and telling forgotten stories to each other. When Lucca didnt respond, he placed a hand on her shoulder. Are you sick or something? Maybe wed better take you back...
Lucca, finally shaken out of her musings, looked at him. Hm? Oh! No, Im fine. Really. But thanks for being considerate! she added. She then decided to talk a bit. Maybe that would keep her mind off of the things that could wait till later. Plus she had wanted to know the answer to this for a long time.
Uh, Crono, she began slowly. have you, uh, er, had any plans for, um, any children lately? she inquired meekly. That didnt change the outcome, however. Crono abruptly choked and spit out a fine mist of whiskey. Lucca flinched. Maybe I shouldnt have asked.
Crono had recovered after a minute. Uh, ha ha, well, Lucca, we havent really thought about that seriously yet. Lucca blinked.
But you and Marle have been married for four years now!
Crono nodded solemnly. Yeah, but to tell you the truth, um... neither of us are really prepared for that just yet... Im not saying that we wont, its just that neither of us feel that this is the time, at least not yet.
Lucca gave Crono a wan smile. Yeah, I guess I can relate. I wouldnt want all that responsibility yet. Im only nineteen! she stopped to adjust her glasses. Well, I wont ask again. Sorry to have bothered you.
Crono gave her a back slap. No! No problem at all! Were friends, Lucca. I wont hold that against you. Now cmon, let us toast to better times! he said, raising his mug. Lucca chuckled. He was already bleary eyed. She and Marle would probably have to carry him all the way to her house. Smiling, she clanked her mug against his and took a draught of cider. Realizing that she was parched, she downed the rest of the drink quickly. Slapping down her mug, Lucca gave let out a burp that would put most men to shame. Crono snickered, as did several other patrons there. After it quieted down, Lucca could hear Marle still talking to the piano man.
Oh please could you play that one? she asked sweetly. The piano man, however, was unmoved.
But I played that one twenty five times already!
Marle, however, wasnt going to be stopped so easily. Oh please! I love that song! Please? Pretty please with sugar on top? she inquired in her cutest voice. The piano man got up, his squat mystic body being a great deal shorter than hers.
Hmmph! My fingers are tired! he said impatiently. Plus, we have a bard thatll be coming her any minute! So if youll please... he said to Marle, who was blocking his way. She jumped up exitedly and ran to where Crono was sitting, almost knocking him out of his seat as he enquired in a slurred voice what she was so excited about.
Theres a bard coming here any minute! And you know what that means...
Uh... Cronos brain gears were slowing down.
She ruffled his hair. We get to find out more about how Frog is doing! I mean, he must be a real hero now! I really want to see this! As if on cue, the bar quieted down and a man entered the room, carrying a lute. He was a handsome, rogueish man of about thirty, attired in a white vest and leather breeches, wearing a green cape. He sat down on an unnocuppied stool near where Lucca was sitting, and strummed his lute for a second, checking to see if it was in tune. After that, he began.
Once, there were troubled times in the fair kingdom of Guardia Legends told of a mighty hero that would one day cleanse our Guardia It was a time of terror, a time of sorrows and woe Until the hero finally arrived, with a blade that was evils foe...
The bard had a magnificent singing voice, one that seemed to soften the hearts of everyone in the vicinity. People left their drinks unattended as they awaited the next verse. Lucca, so close, was equally spellbound. The bard strummed a few notes on his lute, then continued:
The legendary hero carried an equally legendary blade
One that made the mightiest Mystics retreat, rather than have stayed
This sword of light, a shining relic of an age long ago in times loom
This sword of power, the legendary blade of Masamune...
Lucca bit her lip, remembering Frog--no, Glenn, her friend. He had seemed so sad when they parted ways. She didnt want him to be depressed the rest of his life. She hoped he was doing better... Damn Magus! she whispered harshly. If only she knew the truth, however...
The hero and the Masamune cut swiftly through the fray
As for the Mystics and their mage it was the ending day
The hero, a frog-knight triumphed in glory and kept the sword of lore
Proclaiming his work was done for now, and he was needed no more...
Marle was listening attentively. Though most of the people did not hold the wizard Magus in high regard, she knew of the traumatic events that brought him there. If they would just think of how he had been torn from his home and left in a wretched land in the care of human-hating mystics, they would understand more. His goal was not glory for the Mystics, it was to find his way home... and to his sister. But she kept on listening, eager to learn more of Glenn.
The hero, a wasted, empty shell of what he was before
Was contemplating of what his glorious life now had in store
As he stood, surviving on old glories and thinking of what life had for him, then
A miracle occured, unknown how, and Glenn was human again.
With this, the bard finished his ballad with a strum on his lute. Silence reigned for a moment, then came the joyous applause. But none in the bar were more astonished than Lucca and Marle (Crono was stone drunk and asleep). Lucca almost couldnt believe it.
F-frog? Human again? she said to herself, then pulled on the bards sleeve. Um, that was wonderful! I really loved it! But is it really true? Was the hero human again?
The bard gave her a smile then spoke. Why, of course. My ballads are based on historical fact as well as legend. This story has been passed down to us generation to generation, and we do not let the facts become defiled.
Lucca kept a straight face, though tears of joy threatened to burst through. I thank you, kind sir.
The bard got up from the stool, strapping the lute to his shoulders. Think nothing of it, fair lady. he said with impeccable courtesy. Its what I do. and with that, the bard left the bar, praises and applause following him out the door. Lucca was oblivious to the sounds, however, her mind focused on only one thing. Ive got to see Glenn!
Hey Lucca! came Marles voice. Lucca turned in her direction. She was trying to lift a heavy, drunken Crono from where he had fallen on the floor. Do you think you could help?
Lucca grinned. Dont worry, Ive got just the thing.
About half an hour later, the three were back at Luccas house. She had used a remote control device to call one of her heavy duty bots to come and help lifting Crono. Programmed carefully to take care of its cargo, the robot cradled Crono in its metal arms like a baby, in a way that looked absolutely ridiculuous. Lucca and Marle were still laughing about it even as they sat in the living room, sharing hot chocolate. Crono was in the guest room, sleeping.
Isnt that great? asked Marle, referring to Frog. Oh, I wish I could see him! He must be so happy! Lucca nodded, sipping her chocolate, sharing the exact same feeling with a lot of intensity. Then suddenly it hit her.
Yeah! she shouted, almost splashing her drink all over her. Marle gave Lucca a quizzical look. Lucca immediately realized that she could have blown her cover. Um, I mean, I totally agree with you! It would be so cool! If only we were able to see him...
Marle sipped her drink. Well, even if we cant, its good enough to know hes ok! she then got up from the couch she was sitting on, taking her drink with her. Um, I guess Id better go to bed now. Plus I gotta see if Crono hasnt fallen off the bed or anything.
Lucca gave Marle a smile. This was going better than she expected! Now all she had to do was wait until Marle was fast asleep... Sure! Ill see you in the morning!
Marle waved goodnight, then proceeded to her and Cronos room. Lucca lay back in her easy chair, her mind scheming. She would do it tonight. She would fix her Portal Spawner. Sure, most of the internal circuitry was fried, but Lucca had saved the blueprints to it in the computer. there were still quite a bit of chips left, and all Lucca had to do now was to redo the circuitry and seal the projector shut. It would be easier to do now, since before she had been working from scratch. So Lucca sat, finished her chocolate, and waited, starting to feel sleepy...
Lucca woke up with a start, still in the easy chair. After a moment, she remembered why she was here and what was to be done. A quick check of the ornate clock on the wall. It was 2:30 AM. They should be asleep by now...
Lucca slowly made her way off the chair and took off her shoes. The floor was cold, and she winced as her feet made contact with it. Nevertheless, she would not be stoped by cold feet. She tiptoed silently down the hallway, to where the guest room was. She had to make sure that the two were asleep. Nearing the doorway, she noticed a dim light from under the door. She bit her lip. Were they still awake? Why?
As Lucca tiptoed right in front of the door, she could hear some sounds emanating from the room. A split-second later, she recognized, with some embarassment, what those sounds were. Her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped. Oh God! she thought, slapping her forehead. She couldnt believe it. They were going at it in her own house! Lucca turned red, then, with a quiet, nervous laugh, silently walked away from the room. For a second, she tried to picture it, Crono and Marle wrapped around each other..
Ugh. Dont even try. she told herself before her mind could get more descriptive. Am I jealous? No way, Cronos just my friend. Its none of my business. Im outta here! Im not jealous... am I? Lucca focused on what had to be done instead of what lewd images her mind was conjuring. At least her guests were, ah, preoccupied at the moment. They would not hear her as she went on with her work. Lucca typed in four digits on the numeric keypad next to the door, and with an electronic beep the maglock door opened. Entering her laboratory, she closed the door behind her and flicked on the lights.
She walked down the steps and onto the linoleum floor. Stepping on the floor, she gritted her teeth. The floor was even colder down here! But she couldnt turn back now. This could take a while. Pressing a button on the wall, a panel on the wall opened up (the same one as before) and the trash collecting bot came wheeling out. Lucca opened up the lid on it and dug out the remains of the Portal Spawner. She let out a relieved breath. Luckily it wasnt time yet for the robot to empty its trash in the recycler.
Alright, lets see what we can see. Lucca spoke to herself as she examined burnt chips and circuitboards. Walking over to the desk that held her computer, she placed the object next to her and booted the computer up. The monitor turned on, fading to color as the computer gave an electronic whine. Working fast, Lucca selected the files of the blueprint she had made and printed it out on a rather old fashioned (at least in its time) and noisy printer. Luckily the lab was soundproof. After a few minutes, a large, blue sheaf of paper came out of the printer. Lucca waited for the paper to dry, and then pulled it out and set it on the floor along with the Portal Spawner, setting her computer to standby mode in order to keep it from using too much energy.
What followed was about an hour or two of working on the Spawner. Lucca had used just about the last of her microchips and other technical junk to get this thing working. Fusing the tear in the metal shut with a welder, Lucca gave the device a thorough double-check before she tried to start it up again. Dont go down on me this time...
A flick of a switch. An electronic hum. All was going perfectly at the moment (she hoped). The glass lens of the Spawner was a milky, bright blue color. The colors swirled around in the glass. Lucca gave a silent thanks to whatever Gods were out there and watched her creation do its work. The blue color in the lens, of course, was a miniature gate. It was too small to do anything at the moment, but it would change size and shape as the machine did its work.
The electronic hum grew louder, as did its tempo. The milky blue color started to flow out of the lens, in a very surreal way. The blue light was gaining size and a more stable shape as time passed. Now it was the size of a porthole. Soon, it would be large enough for one person.
Cmon... thats it. Lucca whispered eagerly as the gate grew larger. After two minutes, the tear in space/time fabric was her size. Lucca couldnt help but to jump up in the air and yell Yes!!!!!!!. As she prepared her belongings she brought with her for her journey, something happened.
At first, Lucca thought it was the gate collapsing, and her heart sank for a second. But she soon realized that it was the gate expanding. It was growing larger than it was expected to, and at an abnormally high rate. Luccas glasses fell off her nose and almost hit the floor if it werent for her reflexes. She didnt put them on, however, just staring at the blue void.
The gate expanded, swallowing Lucca and every other living thing in her house into a blue void.
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