Hero Undone Chapter 5
Dark Night, Angels Bright
"Crono, get down here! We need you!" Marle yelled as loud as she could. Crono sat up under Lucca's desk, slamming his head into the underside as he rose to his feet. He jumped down the stairs as fast as he could. When he reached the bottom, he found the others, even Magus, gathered around his other. He was having some sort of nightmare or hallucination.
"NOO!!SCHALA!NOT ALONE!NOT AGAIN!" he tossed in his armor as the others watched. It was frightening to them all how this man, who seemed so strong and resolute, would be having nightmares like a small child.
"What the hell's wrong with him now?" Crono asked the others.
"I don't know. He was like this when I woke up this morning." Lucca answered. "I think he's suffering some kind of dementia from traveling all the other planes and seeing all the other versions of the world."
Crono scratched his head, unsure of what Lucca was talking about. "What can we do about it?" His question went unanswered as the other Crono's eyes shot open and he sat up.
"Why's everyone standing over me?" he asked, looking around.
"You were having some kind of nightmare or something." Marle said, kneeling next to him. "But it's over now." She put her hand on his shoulder.
"No it isn't." The other Crono shook her hand off as he rose to his feet. "Lavos still lives, and my Schala is still gone." He turned to face his other. "Crono, it's time."
Crono nodded once. "Let's do it." The others agreed.
The other Crono spread his arms wide, "We go now to Lavos' lair," he said as the shimmering sphere began to form around them "For the last time."
Reality wavered again, and they were in a huge cavern, deep underground. "This is where Lavos lives underground. Here he will heal himself." Sure enough, a time gate opened, and the Lavos Core staggered out, it's two Bits drooping to the ground.
"Why can't he see us?" Lucca asked.
"The spell-bubble you're in protects you from even his vision." The bubble began to fade, and the second Crono's armor began to glow softly. Lavos saw them now, and cowered away. "Hello, Lavos. I know you know me. I know you. I know you have the knowledge that I want, and you know I will get it from you. We've done this dance before, and you know how it ends. You will give me the answers I want, and you will die like all the others." he rushed in and swung a mighty blow, cleaving one of the Bits in half, it's blood and entrails flopping onto the floor. "Tell me where Schala is!" he swung again, and one of the Core's pseudo-arms hit the ground with a wet thud.
"I know you, Crono. I know what you seek, and you will never find her. You will never find her because she no longer exists." Lavos' voice was immense.
"I know she's still alive!" the second Crono screamed, grabbing the other Bit and smashing it between his hands. It burst like a ripe tomato, blood spraying out from between his armored fingers. "Tell me! Where is she!?!"
"She is dead." the monster began to laugh. "You have searched all this time for nothing."
"I don't believe you. You wouldn't just tell me what I want to know without putting up any fight." Crono swung an armored fist into Lavos' face, then a solid kick to the midsection, blasting the creature across the cavern. His eyes narrowed. "You've got something planned, don't you? You think it will work against me? I've done nothing but kill you for four years. Nothing you can do will stop me from finding her."
"You are correct. Nothing I can do will stop my own death. Everything I have done will stop you from finding her." Lavos raised his remaining arm and reality wavered. They were all thrown into a new place. It was dark, and brightly colored bubbles slowly floated past them. Lavos began to speak "There is no beginning and no end here. This is the Darkness of Time, and here, I have ascended all life." As if to illustrate his point, a new creature began to scuttle forward. It's massive body was almost crab-like, but set throughout it's torso were huge crystals, each one glittering like a small moon. The whole creature seemed oddly transparent."This is my sanctuary. I am the creature before you. I am the Time Devourer." as he finished speaking, the creature began to bow it's head, revealing the largest crystal. Sealed inside was a young woman. Magus audibly inhaled.
"Schala....just as I saw...." He stepped forward, beside the other Crono. "Release her or die!"
"I cannot." Lavos said. "She is the key to this world's fate. Only one human can release her, and he will not come for some time." he pointed to the other Crono. "Not even you can truly enter the Time Devourer's sanctuary."
The other Crono glared as he spoke "Where is my Schala, Lavos? What happened to her?"
"She remained in the Bastard Plane for too long, and her physical body was obliterated." Lavos began to laugh again. "You spent so much time killing me that you never thought she would be there. Now she is gone, and only you are to blame." He extended his remaining arm and fired a blast of energy at the other Crono, the impact knocking him over. He quickly stood again, his armor glowing from the absorbed energy. Lavos fired again, but the suit absorbed it and the glow grew brighter.
"Everyone down!" the second Crono shouted as he tuned to the others, spreading his left hand. A barrier formed around them, and he turned back to Lavos. "If she truly is gone, all I have left is your death." His Masamune began to glow as he raised his right arm over his head. He uttered the word "Discharge." and great bolts of power swept out from the blade's tip, striking everything in the room. Lavos took several direct hits and went down, smoking. The others were saved by the magical barrier, but they ducked as it was hit several times. The other Crono slowly walked to Lavos fallen body. He dropped to his knees."She's gone. All this searching, everything I've done....all for nothing. I let her die. I got so caught up in stopping you that I let her die." He reached down and grabbed Lavos' throat. "You took her from me again. I'm glad this sad little dance we do is finally over." He slowly rose again, bringing Lavos to his feet. The other Crono's eyes were dark, and tears began to stream down his face. His Masamune began to glow as he brought his hand back.
"Wait! Don't kill him!" Marle screamed. "He might be lying!"
The other Crono stopped and turned to them, dropping Lavos. "What?"
"What if he's lying? You could kill him and she could be alive. Then you'd really have lost her 'cause you wouldn't know where she was." she pleaded.
"NO. Lavos does not lie. It is incapable of it. Lavos and his species has evolved to a point he is no longer able." the other Crono said, lowering the magic barrier between them. "They believe they are so superior, they can only speak the arrogant truth. They have evolved to such power that lies are useless to them." He bent down and picked Lavos up by the throat again. "He spoke the truth. SCHALA, MY SCHALA, is gone forever." He brought his sword back. Time seemed to crawl as Lavos' hand shot out, smashing into the other Crono's helmet. He released Lavos, and stepped back, shaking his head. It swung again, and time slowed further as the other's watched Lavos' hand as it streaked toward the other Crono's head. In a flash, his blade was there in a short arc. It intercepted the blow, severing the hand at the wrist. The other Crono turned with the momentum, then turned back and slashed at Lavos with a brutal backhand. The Masamune's tip caught Lavos' temple and cut through the great eye socket and out the other side. Lavos screamed as his blood fountained. Time sped back to normal, and Magus streaked in, his black scythe rippling with power as he swung, the blow removing Lavos' left leg at the knee. Crono and Frog attacked now, flashing past Lavos in an X. Their swords sang as they past him, and a large, bloody X was left on Lavos' chest as the beast began to fall again. Three separate blasts from Robo's cannons accelerated it's descent. Marle and Lucca combined their magic abilities and cast Antipode. Lavos' body visibly rippled as it was boiled and then frozen from the inside. After the spell had run it's course, Lavos was still.
"He better be dead this time." Lucca said, looking at the corpse.
"There's only one thing left..." the other Crono said, raising his foot above Lavos' bulbous head. The others knew what was coming next, and shielded their eyes. He brought his foot down, and the monster's brain and skull painted the walls in gray and red. He then lowered his sword to Lavos' body, and the others watched as Lavos' spirit was drawn into the blade, solidifying it at last. The panels of his helmet slid back as he began to speak.
"What just happened to your Masamune?" Marle asked him.
"I found that it can absorb Lavos' spiritual essence, his soul. With each Lavos killed, it has regained more and more of itself. Now it is complete. It is whole once again." He turned to them, his eyes full of tears. "Now that that's over with, I'd better get you all home." His voice shook as he spread his arms, summoning the gossamer sphere around them. In a flash, they were hurtling through the Bastard Plane, back to their own time and space.
"What are you going to do now?" Marle asked the other Crono. He didn't respond. His eyes seemed glazed over as they came back into their world, back into Lucca's garage. Soft morning light filtered through the windows. "Crono, you okay?" she said, shaking his arm gently. Still no answer. The other Crono just stood, unmoving, his eyes staring off into space. "What's wrong with you!?!"
"The shock hath been too much for his soul to bear." Frog said sadly. "'Tis possible he never recovers."
"He has to! He's the greatest hero any world has ever seen!" Marle was breaking down. "He came all this way, just to lose it all." She turned and hugged her Crono, bawling. "This can't be happening! It can't!"
"It has, like it or not." Magus said, studying the other Crono's face. "I've heard of this. When a person experiences a great loss, they go into shock and may never come out." he held his fingers inches from the other Crono's face and snapped them several times, but the other Crono didn't even blink. He then conjured small flame at his fingertip and held it before the other Crono's eyes. Still nothing. Magus sighed as he turned back to face the others. "There is some hope, though. I believe his mind will heal."
"How?" Crono asked him, gently stroking Marle's hair.
"His mind is still there, it has just retreated into itself. Given enough time, he will eventually return to normal." He turned back to the other Crono. "How much time, however, I am unsure of. Maybe hours, maybe weeks. Maybe never. There is no way to tell. He must make the decision to come back." Magus moved toward the door. "I have some very important things to prepare for, so I'm going."
"Thanks for your help." Crono said, extending his hand. Magus took it and shook once. "Just come to the celebration next year."
"I'll think about it." he smirked as he left the house. A few seconds later a Gate opened and he left again.
"I hath my own duties to attend to. As much as I woulds't like to remain here, Queen Leene needs me." Frog croaked.
"He's right," Lucca said to the others "you all have your own lives to return to." She led them through the back door and opened the Gate. "We'll see you next year."
"It is a true pity." Robo beeped sadly as he walked into the Gate and disappeared.
Ayla clenched her fists in frustration as she walked up to the Gate. "Ayla hates sad ending." she said as she waved goodbye. Then she was gone, back to her time.
"I can't believe this." Lucca said as she sat down on the bench next to the picnic table. She looked up at the sky. Dark clouds were gathering in the distance. A storm was coming.
"Aye. 'Tis a most heart-wrenching irony that this hath occurred." Frog croaked quietly. "'Tis not every day that you get a second chance with the one you love."
"What? How did you...?" Lucca looked up at Frog. His large eyes seemed to twinkle, and a small smile spread across his face. "How could you tell?" she asked.
"My dear, there are things in this world that are unmistakable. Love is one of them." He walked to the Gate. "Fear not, I will tell nary a soul. Good luck." he told her as he was drawn into the Gate and disappeared.
Lucca walked back into the house and stood with her friends. "What do we do now?"
"I guess we just take care of him." Crono said as he walked up to his counterpart. "I don't know if you can hear me, but if you can, you gotta get out of your armor. It's too heavy for us to carry."
The other Crono blinked.
"Did you see that!?!" Marle shouted with excitement. "Come on Crono, we know you're still in there! Come back to us!"
"I can hear them talking to me. Why can't I move? Why is she all I can think about? I can see her dissolving in the Bastard Plane, screaming for me. I wasn't there. I couldn't save her. She's all I ever wanted, and I let her slip away. Goddammit, why? Why couldn't I look past Lavos and see her? How did I get so obsessed with Lavos that I let her die? What the fuck happened to me? What changed? What have I become? A monster. A fucking monster, that's what! She was in pain, and I didn't even stop to think about the Bastard Plane. It stared me in the face, and I couldn't fucking see it! All I could see was Lavos. All I could do is kill him, over and over. And now, he's evolved into something else. He's been able to change himself, and he's beyond my grasp now. This world's Magus will be reunited with his Schala? What a bunch of shit. He's pathetic. All he could do is get his fucking ass kicked, and he gets his Schala back!?! He wins, and I lose? I'm tired of losing, even when I win. I kill Lavos. I lose Lucca and Marle. I save the other worlds. I kill Lavos again and again and again. Still I lose. Goddamn I hate this. I hate what I've done. I hate what I've become. I hate this whole fucking life. Everything I've done, all for nothing. Why? Why do I always lose? I've lost everything, and now I'm losing myself. Why have I been forsaken? What have I done to deserve this? Why don't I care?"
"Lucca?" Crono asked his friend. "Anything changed? It's almost nightfall."
"No." she responded. Her eyes were bleak. "Why did this happen, Crono? He's done too much to deserve this."
"I know." Crono said. "Look, you'd better get something to eat. Marle's already gone home. I'll watch him tonight, and she'll take over in the morning."
She stood and stretched. "Okay. Now that you mention it, I am pretty hungry." She left the room and Crono sat in the only chair, facing his other. He spoke now, his voice was quiet.
"I hope you can hear me. I know you've been through a lot, more than any of us will never know. Everyone goes through loss in their lives, but they have to put it behind them. You've gotta be able to keep living your life. It's what Schala would have wanted."
" 'It's what Schala would have wanted'!?! How the fuck can he say that? He doesn't know anything about loss. He didn't watch Tata get slaughtered. He didn't watch Marle die. He didn't watch his heart get pulled into a Gate. His Lucca didn't kill herself. The little bastard. He tries to comfort me with some fucking speech? Goddamn, he's an idiot. He can't even see what's in front of him. She loves him, and he can't even see it! Fucking moron! She loves him. She always has. She came to me that night. She saw him in my eyes and kissed me. I don't' know what happened then. What did I see? Why did I kiss her? Why!?! Why don't I know? What did I see in her? 'Keep living my life'!? What the fuck for? I don't have anything worth living for. Even vengeance is gone now. All I have left is loss. Loss, loss, loss! Everyone I knew-lost! Everyone I loved-lost! My whole life-lost! Why does it matter to these people if I live or die? Can they really care that much? Even the Frog is friendly with Magus after all he's done. How can they forgive him? How can they forgive me? After all the pain and suffering I've caused, they still have hope for me. I don't understand. I can't. All I've known is pain and hate and loss. They've had each other. I've had nothing. I am broken, incomplete. I can see through my eyes, but I can't act. I can hear them speak to me, but I can't answer. I can't do anything but remember. Remember the pain, the hate, the loss. I miss you, Schala........ I miss you."
Crono sat up as a single tear began to roll down the other's cheek. He spoke again, his voice calm. "I wanna help you, but I can't. Physical enemies I can fight. Inner demons are something else. You've gotta get through this. We're counting on you."
"Counting on me? How can they be counting on me? I've just gotten here and they've already accepted me. Is that even possible? They truly care what happens to me? Why? What do they have that I don't? That's it! Friends. They've had each other this whole time, people who care about them, even the robot. What the fuck do I have? Nothing, that's what! I'm more powerful than anyone else in all of this worlds' history, but they're much stronger than me. They have each other. They can laugh together, cry and hurt together. I have no one. I had friends. Now they're all gone. All of them dead. Now I'm alone. Goddammit, I'm tired of being alone. They want to help me, but I can't move, can't speak. No. NO, NO, NO! I have to do something! I..........."
The other Crono fell backwards and hit the ground with an impressive thud. "Oh crap!" His counterpart shouted, leaping from his chair. "Lucca! Lucca, get down here!" He heard rapid footsteps descending the stairs, then Lucca burst into the room, wearing just a towel. She had been in the shower.
"What? What are you yelling about?" she answered her own question as she looked down and saw the other Crono laying on the ground, his armor opening. She knelt next to him and brushed the hair away from his eyes, though they still stared blankly. "Come on, Crono. Let's get him upstairs."
"Where upstairs?" he asked as she pointed strait up, to her bedroom. His eyebrow raised. "You're serious?"
"Yes. It's the only place where he won't be disturbed, and I can watch him all the time." she answered as she picked up his feet. "Let's go."
"What's she doing? Her bedroom? What's she thinking? She is beautiful. I have to admit that. More beautiful than the one in my world. But I can't really see her. All I can see is HER. Schala, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I lost you. This is my fault. All my fault. I let you die. I'm so alone now. Please forgive me for what I've done."
Crono exhaled loudly as they set his counterpart on one of Lucca's desks. "I guess here is good enough." He looked at Lucca. "Are you sure about this?"
"Yes," her voice was tense. "this is the only place where I can keep an eye on him all the time." She put her hand on his forehead. "He needs us, Crono." She looked out the window into the night and could hear the rain pattering on the roof, a steady, mourning downpour.
"I know. Damn, I hate this. All the fighting, all the searching for nothing." He walked to the doorway. "I hope he gets better, but I gotta get home or Mom'll kill me!"
"Go ahead. We'll be fine here for the night." Lucca said as Crono began to descend the stairs. "See you tomorrow!" She called out.
"I'll be here!" He called back. Then she heard the door open and close. He was gone. Lucca began to stroke the other Crono's hair as she spoke.
"Crono, I want to be honest with you. I've been in love with him for a long time. I just couldn't figure out a way to tell him. When I finally thought I could, she showed up, and I lost my chance. I let him slip away from me, and now he's getting married. On top of that, I have to be happy about it. After all, I am his best friend, and a 'maid of honor'." She ran the back of her hand down his cheek. "I lost him, and then you come along. You lost your love too, but worse. She's dead. I know I can't replace her. I know you don't want to hear this right now, if you can hear me at all, but I think fate led you to me. Both of us are so alone." She gathered her clothes and left to change.
"I can hear her words, feel her hand. She has no idea how alone I am. Does she? Does he really mean that much to her? Did I mean this much to the Lucca I knew? Goddammit, why couldn't I see that? Why did I look past her? Was it because we had been friends for so long? What the fuck was wrong with me? She was right there, staring me in the face, and I couldn't see it. Just like Schala. In the goddamn Bastard Plane, right in front of me. I couldn't see it. Why? What the fuck's wrong with me? Why can't I get out of this place? Does she really want to be with me, or is this all because I look like him? Little idiot. He can't even begin to comprehend what I've done. I've looked beyond it all and seen the numbers, done the math of the universe. I know more than he, more than any of them, could comprehend. And look at me. I'm coming apart in here. I have to get out, have to fight this......."
Lucca returned fully dressed and went to his side. The other Crono's eyes began to move, slowly looking from side to side, then up and down. He blinked. His eyes still weren't focusing. Once, twice. His lips parted, and he exhaled loudly, then inhaled a deep, ragged breath.
"Crono! Crono, if you can hear me, please give me a sign!" Lucca said.
The other Crono's head barely turned to the right, then slowly to the left.
"Come on! You can hear me! I know you can! Fight it, Crono! Fight!"
"I won't be beaten by this! I won't! I'm coming! I don't know how long this will take, but I'm coming! Ugh. It feels like I'm trying to walk under water. I'm not giving in! I must be free! I can see a light. God, it's beautiful. It has to be the way out, it has to! I'm getting closer! It's all around me now. I feel strange. The light is blinding, but it doesn't hurt. Wait, someone's coming. I can only see their outline coming towards me. They're getting closer. Oh my god. Schala? Schala! How did you get here?"
"Crono, my love. It's time to go."
"I knew I'd find you, Schala. I love you. She takes my hand and we walk further into the light.....to a better place......together at last...."
"NO!! CRONO, CRONO COME BACK!!! DON'T DIE!!! YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME ALONE!! PLEASE!! CRONOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" Lucca sank to her knees as the other Crono's pulse faded away. She screamed in anguish as his last breath escaped his lips, then were still. The storm died away just as quickly.
"A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave."
-William Knox, "Mortality"
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