Hero Undone Chapter 3
The Things That Matter Most
"So you guys were....falling for each other?" Marle asked, a slight smile on her face. "How romantic!"
"Yes, we were. I had never met anyone so beautiful, or so mysterious. She told me I was the only boy she had met that wasn't afraid of her." the second Crono said, a small, sad smile forming on his lips. "She said she had lost everything, but wouldn't tell me what had happened. I told her that I would never leave her, no matter what." The vision shifted to a new location. The kingdom of Zeal. The second Crono's voice was grave. "This was her home, she told me. I wish I had known what was coming. I could have stopped it from happening." The vision showed Crono and Schala arriving at the palace, only to find a scene of great horror: All of the guards, shopkeepers and simple peasants were frozen solid. They rushed to the throne room, finding an older woman, the Queen, dying on the floor. "Janus. It was..........Janus." she whispered with her final breath. Schala suggested they leave the castle and ask the people what was going on. They were walking out the castle doors when Janus showed up, seeming to just fade into being a few feet in front of them. He seemed almost identical to Magus, his face very angular, almost vampiric, but his blue hair had been shorn off at the jaw line. And he wasn't alone. Marle was there, but she was different. Her hair was shorter now, and her face bore only rage and hate as she addressed them.
"You never came for me, Crono. I was abandoned, and you didn't care. But that was then. I have a new partner now, and we will rule this world with the help of the Almighty Lavos." Janus stepped forward and spoke, his voice deep and menacing.
"Schala, so nice to see you alive. Too bad you will have to be sacrificed to Lavos. He has promised us immortality in exchange for the planet, and I always honor my bargains." He gestured quickly, and the two were paralyzed. He gestured again, and the four of them teleported to a great palace under the sea. They were left in a containment cell, each in suspended animation. The vision shifted again, this time to a great hall in the palace, where a machine stood, glowing with energy.
"The Mammon Machine. I'd recognize it anywhere." Lucca said, turning to the second Crono. "How did you escape the prison?"
"We were set free by the Guru of Reason, Toma Levine. He told us to go to the Mammon Machine and destroy it." Crono answered. "He also told us how to escape the palace whan the machine was self-destructing. I just wish he knew what would be coming after the machine was gone......" he trailed off as the vision shifted. The Mammon Machine was overloading, alarms blaring. Crono and Schala raced to the craft in the hangar that Toma told them of. When they arrived, they found the Wings of Time. It looked exactly like the one that Crono and his friends flew in. Even the wings were identical. They sprinted across the hanger, but Marle materialized between them, and attacked. Crono and Schala fought bravely, but Marle was too strong, and she had them alive but frozen in a matter of moments. Marle calmly walked up to the block that held Crono, and smiled at him, her eyes beginning to glow red. "Lavos has found me worthy, and I am immortal now. Too bad you aren't." She stepped back a few feet and raised her hands high above her head, chanting. She began to glow red as she lowered her hands towards him. "We could have been happy together Crono. But I guess it's too late for you now." The glow moved to her hands, motes of power tracing up her arms. "You should have chosen me, not this stupid bitch." The twin blasts came at them like lightning, but they never got there. They simply dissipated, and Crono heard a voice from the darkness around them. A voice with vast, ominous power. "You are an immortal, yet you have allowed your own petty vendettas to guide your new existence, Nadia. This cannot be allowed. You will be punished for your short-sightedness." Marle began to scream, her ice spell fading, freeing Crono and Schala. Her eyes grew wide, so wide they seemed about to burst from her head, but then fluttered closed, and she collapsed to the floor. Crono began to move toward her, but Schala grabbed his arm and held him back. "Don't go near her! There's nothing you can do." she told him. Marle's body then burst into flame, and a great howl reverberated throughout the hangar.
The seven heroes knew exactly who it was. Lavos.
"I'm a real bitch in the other world." Marle said, elbowing Crono. "Good thing you met me instead of her, huh?"
"Best thing that ever happened to me." he answered, draping an arm around her and pulling her close.
"Jeez, get a room already!" Lucca scolded them. Her head turned to the new Crono "You can continue the story now." He nodded, and began speaking. "Schala said that we had to go and find Lavos. I asked her how we would find it, but she said to just follow her. We ran back to the Mammon Machine, and found that someone had shut off the auto-destruct, then we found the throne room, and I will never forget what I saw there..." The vision shifted, and the heroes saw Lavos, with Janus bowed on his knees before him, as Crono and Schala rushed into the room.
Janus rose, and began to speak. "You have both come here to die. Lavos is the almighty. Lavos is my salvation, and your destruction. Lavos is-"
"Shut up, Janus." Schala said flatly. "I remember who threw me into that portal. You tried to kill me. You failed, and now I'm here again. This time I'm not a powerless child, and you WILL die." A faint black aura formed around her, and she began to hover a few inches above the ground. Crono drew the Masamune from the scabbard on his back, the blade still flickering. In response, Janus began gesturing with both hands, his body glowing deep red. Schala thrust her hands forward, the black energy streaming out toward Janus, but he nimbly leaped away and finished gesturing. A great black sphere formed between him and Schala, and the black power in her was visibly draining into it. She screamed "My powers are being drained!" and fell to the ground. Crono rushed to her side, and after making sure she was physically alright, rushed Janus, the Masamune ringing as it sliced down toward him. Janus stepped to his left, dodging the attack, and fired a bolt of power into Crono's chest, sending him sailing across the room and into the wall with a loud smack. Crono dizzily looked around, and after spotting the Masamune in the center of the room, he rose slowly, his breathing labored from a broken rib he could feel through his tunic. He smiled as he tasted blood. He had a plan. "You won't win. We won't let Lavos destroy the future."
Janus glared at Crono. "Fool, you don't have a future."
Crono still smiled. "You think you're so smart. You can't even fight without Lavos to protect you." Janus' eyes flashed with power. "I don't need Lavos to kill you, boy. You don't even have any magic. All you have is bravado. Bravado is nothing in the face of death."
"Bravado is everything in the face of death." Crono said, smiling even broader now. His taunts were working. "You have magic, but I bet you can't beat me in a strait-up swordfight. I'll bet my life on it."
"You shouldn't gamble with what you don't have." Janus said, a massive war sword forming in his hands. "I'll kill you myself. No magic, no Lavos." Crono walked the center of the room and picked the Masamune up. Janus crossed the room toward him, his sword lowered, the red aura around him dissipating. When they had gotten closer, they both raised their swords, and Janus charged in, his swing meant to cut Crono apart at the waist. Crono faded back, then stepped in with his left foot and lashed out with his left fist, catching Janus' jaw, knocking him back. Crono then advanced, but each thrust and cut was met by Janus' blade. Janus shuffled back a few steps, then came at Crono with a lightning fast feint and thrust. Crono couldn't completely dodge it, and Janus' sword drew first blood from a gash on Crono's left shoulder. Crono retreated a few yards. "Not bad, but you still fight like a girl--a little girl.", he taunted. Janus bellowed with fury and rushed in, sword overhead. Crono lunged under the sword's arc and thrust his shoulder into Janus' stomach as hard as he could, knocking Janus' sword free to clatter on the ground while he flew back several feet, landing hard on his back. Crono leapt into the air, arms raising the down-turned sword in a killing blow, but Janus rolled away at the last second, and Crono drove the Masamune into the floor. Janus was on his feet and upon Crono in an instant, landing a hard left-right combination that sent Crono staggering across the room. He quickly shook the cobwebs out of his mind, and raised his fists in a boxing stance as Janus came at him. He snapped two quick jabs into Janus face before landing a solid right to the gut. Janus grunted and swung a hook punch with his left hand, but Crono ducked the blow and came up with a solid left uppercut that connected with the point of Janus' chin, staggering him. Crono advanced, and a hard overhand right to the nose sent Janus toppling over, unconscious. Janus never hit the ground. He stopped in midair and began to glow, his body straitening into a standing position as it rose. His eyes opened with a flash. He extended his hand, and power snaked out, wrapping Crono in a burning embrace.
"No more games. You're dead." Janus' voice seemed utterly calm as he lifted Crono off his feet and began to squeeze his hand shut. Crono screamed in pain, the energy was crushing and burning him alive. Crono's eyes bulged open, his vision was fading fast. Then he saw Schala behind Janus. She seemed a dark angel of mercy, her body shaking with power. She had done something to the ball of power Janus had summoned. She had somehow absorbed it.
"Janus!" she shouted, extending both hands. The black power flooded out of her and into Janus, his grip on Crono releasing as he struggled against the power. Schala had paralyzed him. "Crono, the Masamune! Now!" He pulled the Masamune free with a yank, and swung with all of his might. The sword's arc hit Janus' left arm, severing it just below the shoulder, then entered his ribcage, bisecting his heart, finally stopping at his spine. Janus opened his mouth to speak, but only blood poured forth. He toppled over, his face still locked in shock.
"You're next, Lavos." Crono said, pulling the Masamune free and turning to the great monster.
"I am eternal. You cannot ever hope to defeat me. I will take all you have known, all you will love, and you will be nothing." as it's voice spoke into their minds, a yellow gate formed under Schala's feet and she was quickly being swallowed up.
"Crono, Crono help me!" she pleaded as the gate began to close. Crono grabbed her hand and pulled as hard as he could, but she was still sinking in.
"Hang on, Schala! Just hang on!" Crono yelled to her, his voice desperate. "I'll find you! Just hang on!"
Her arm slipped away from his, and she was gone.
Crono turned to Lavos, and while his face was contorted with rage, his voice was flat and emotionless. "You will die for what you've done, and what you will do."
"You are nothing before me." the creature said, it's three-lipped mouth opening to reveal a large eye. Reality seemed to fade away, and the throne room was replaced by a great open area, the ground itself shimmering like water. Lavos howled, large pulses of energy flying from the spikes on its shell and high into the air, each then splitting into several smaller pulses and descending. Time seemed to freeze as Crono's mind began to kaleidoscope out, filling with knowledge. Crono knew exactly what to do. He dropped the Masamune and thrust his hands skyward. The energy pulses were all drawn into them. Roaring with fury, he threw his head skyward, and the energy shot back out and split again, and where they fell, an explosion shook the ground. Several of the blasts hit Lavos and blew plates of it's carapace off. It screamed in agony as three of the pulses converged on it's eye, obliterating the entire head.
"You used Lavos' own power against him?" Magus whispered in nonbelief.
"I did more than that." the second Crono responded. "I stole his powers from him, all of them. They are my magic."
"What about the Lavos Core?" Marle asked. "What happened to it?"
"This." was the second Crono's response, and the vision shifted again to inside Lavos. Crono stood before Lavos' massive form. "I understand now. Your kind live on a planet, stealing away it's life energy, which you then use to conceive your offspring. But you underestimated too much, Lavos. Humanity is more resourceful than even you can possibly know. You underestimated me, and look at you now. Powerless. You will do no more harm here." The beast lashed out with it's massive arms, but Crono was too fast dodging them both. Spreading his arms wide, he began to glow red with power. "You have caused so much pain. Let's see how you like it. Shadow Doom Blaze." Red beams of light swept the inside of the shell, and everything they touched became engulfed in black fire. Lavos thrashed in vain as the flames ate through it's inner shell, and it split open, revealing the true Lavos. It was vaguely humanoid, but it's head was elongated, and it's face consisted of a single large eye, wide in alarm, knowing what was to come. "You took her from me, Lavos. She was all I had left. I have nothing now. And when I'm through, you will BE nothing." Crono extended a hand up, pointing skyward. "Crying heavens." Great bolts of energy traced a jagged path from the sky to Lavos. When they struck, the resulting sound was like that of bacon frying and a thousand cannons firing, and the scream from Lavos shook the ground. It writhed in agony as the energy passed through it to the ground, then back again, finally dissipating in to the air around it. Lavos dropped on one knee, then rose again. It lunged for Crono, it's large pseudo-hands grasping for him. He ducked under it's arms, and landed a solid kick to it's midsection, then a spinning back kick to it's eye. The monster staggered back, clutching it's eye.
"You won't find her. I have cast her into the void between the very planes of this planet's existence. Not even I know where or when she will emerge from them." The creature began to laugh, a sound like a thousand screams and moans all compressed into one soul-chilling sound. "She is gone forever."
Crono's eyes flashed with rage. "YOU are gone forever! Dreamless!" he shouted, and a great white portal began to open before him, facing Lavos. Four shimmering triangles of power emerged from the portal and formed a pyramid around Lavos, trapping him. They began to glow, brighter and brighter. Crono closed his eyes from the power, but it was so bright he could still see as the portal moved forward, suffusing the pyramid and it's captive with power, until Lavos disintegrated, his scream echoing into oblivion. The pyramid faded, and reality twisted again, and Crono was back in the throne room.
"Holy crap." Lucca said. The look on the others faces agreed with her.
"What are you doing!? You're a hero!"
"No. Real heroes, they make a choice. I never had one. I'm no hero.......I'm an accident."
-Batman and Magma, "Batman Beyond: Heroes"
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