The Gathering Chapter 9
The Coming Storm
In the most pliant region of the space-time continuum, a person dressed in a trench coat and brown suede hat tipped her head upwards to the starless night. The worlds had begun to wither and die. Their victory was at hand. She could feel it. But she could also feel the presence of that meddlesome brother of hers. So, in pulling the suede hat down over her eyes and loosening her shoulders inside the trench coat, she put on her best reposed look. When the Epoch had docked, the four time travelers disembarked and surveyed the situation, this time not at all bothering to wake Gaspar.
"It's quiet," Lucca said.
"You'd think by now, we'd at least be able to hear Gaspar snoring."
Schala knew she forgot something and did her best to duplicate Gaspar's snore without anything condemnatory arising.
"Me no like this." Kino uttered.
"Too still for comfort." Ayla said.
"Let's split up," Magus suggested. "Ayla, you take the pillars of light. Kino, Lucca, you two see what Spekkio is up to. I'm gonna see what Gaspar has to say about all of this."
Lucca and Kino approached the room with the utmost of caution. They swung the large, cast-iron door ajar and gaped inside to see the Spekkio they had expected to find: a one-eyed knight with a huge medieval mace in his right hand.
"Ah, we have a newcomer among us. Are you a man or a woman?" Spekkio asked.
"Huh!?!" Kino said, insulted.
"Well, measuring your inner character is very interesting, my friend."
Lucca sighed. "We don't have time for this, Spekkio. We're looking for someone. Have you seen a woman come by here lately, one with purple hair?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary. So, Kino, it appears that you can make use of magic, after all. Would you like to learn how?"
Kino nodded to indicate yes.
"Kino, come on. You can do this any time. Our world is dying here."
But her pleas were for naught. Maybe it was for the best. She would need his absolute all if they were get to the bottom of this. But in all the time she had been a third party to the unbelievable, she would have never counted on seeing Spekkio suddenly taking on the role of an assassin. Kino, utterly oblivious as he made his routine walk around the square room, was suddenly the target of a senseless and bloody crime. With mace in hand, the dark knight pummeled young life out of the prehistoric cohort of Ayla's. On impulse, Lucca pulled the Wondershot from her holster and fired.
On impact, the ball of hellfire bounced harmlessly off the Master of War and, in a surge of blue mana, was redirected back at the young inventor. Erupting in a fiery fetid blaze, Lucca screamed in anguish.
No one could save her now.
Ayla wandered into the pillars of light, unable to remember the last time she was here, which said nothing for her mind in general. Not knowing exactly what to look for, she suddenly found herself looking down at a rotund ball of white.
The real' Spekkio!
"Spekkio? How you be out here and in there at same time?"
"Ayla, it's terrible...Gaspar, he's in cahoots with Dalton...they're both Gurus and...aye!!"
A hand suddenly clasped her shoulder. Panicking, Spekkio scaled the wrought-iron enclosure and disappeared forever into the blind eternities which surrounded the End of Time.
Ayla found that she had come face-to-face with. . .herself?
"What go on here?" Ayla said.
Her ropey doppleganger responded by murmuring something Ayla could not comprehend. Never one to tolerate foreign dialects, the primitive woman growled. . .
And lunged at the imposter on all fours.
A yard away from her victim, Ayla collapsed as a sudden weakness overwhelmed her. She tried her best to stand under what power remained in her being, and found that she had begun to take on an elderly visage. Her golden locks receded behind her ears. Her skin was suddenly ashen. The woman struggled just to breathe as her kneecaps buckled and broke beneath.
"No hurt Ayla. . ." she uttered in a tone that was anything but hers. "Please. . ."
And the last she ever saw was her evil counterpart rearing back with her own Iron Fists to bat the brittle head entirely from her shoulders. . .
"Ayla?" Magus called worriedly from the center of the End of Time outpost. "Are you okay? Kino? Lucca?"
"They can't hear you," the person leaning by the post said to him.
Schala lifted her head "They're gone."
"Schala!" he cried, staggering back. "But how did you get here, and where's Kino, Ayla, and Lucca?"
The answer was interpreted by Vesuvan Dopplegangers of Spekkio and Ayla stepping into the light emanating from Gaspar's lamppost. Upon showing themselves to Magus, the two Dopplegangers morphed back to their true appearance, white and blue feminine figures that hadn't the privilege of a permanent identity, just the fleeting identities of those in close proximity. With that, Gaspar emerged from out of the shadows to join Schala.
"You're next, prophet." he said to him.
Anger overcoming his better judgement, Magus drew his scythe, though was reluctant to act on his fury in seeing Schala withdraw the Masamune from beneath her garb.
"Do you recognize this? It's the sword Glenn used to end your rule back in the Middle Ages. How ironic that the greatest forge of civilization is battle?"
"Why, Schala. . .all those people. . ."
"You're about to be reunited, dear brother."
Here, Magus lost his temper and attacked, swinging his Doomsickle in a decapitating arc. Schala caught it with the blade and swung back, breaking his weapon in half. In his moment of weakness, Schala backhanded him with enough force to knock him to the ground.
"Never again will Masa or Mune be given the satisfaction of ridding this world of a Zeal."
"No!" whimpered Magus, feeling a foot sink into his abdomen.
"I won't let you stop us again!" she screamed, and then laughed. "How ironic! The end of the End of Time. Think of the effect this will have on the structure of your space-time continuum."
"And at long last, I shall be freed!!" Gaspar cried with finicky anticipation.
The platform of existence in the desolate time era began to falter and tilt, causing Magus to loose his footing and tumble down to the position of the Epoch, which floated precariously in midair. He fell down upon the cockpit, hitting it hard.
"Our future." he muttered, just enough for Schala to hear.
"What about our future?" she asked.
"We...have no......future." he finally concluded, throwing himself off of the Wings of Time before a wave of pure magic lashed out and ripped Belthasar's timeless creation to pieces. Magus reached out futilely for something to hold on to but was out of luck.
Schala soon faded from view. Then Gaspar and his domain vanished as well. In the dark prophet's descent, the ability to reason, the ability to conceive, the ability to think and process and even comprehend ebbed completely into nothingness. Magus had disappeared.