Hero Undone Chapter 9
Ahzi Dahaka stopped in the heart of the forest. It was dark, even in the daytime, but he liked it that way. "Harder for the prey to see you." he told himself. He had repeated it so many times he had almost forgotten why he preferred the darkness. As a man, he was a tribal chieftain, known as much for his looks as his ferocity in combat. Then Clotho and the Elders came, offering him power beyond his wildest dreams. He accepted, planning to rise above the other chieftains and unite his tribes. The Elders saw things differently. They twisted his body, his mind, to thier will. He was made to be one of thier enforcers, his body reshaped into the wolf-creature that hunted his people, his mind reshaped to make him completely loyal. But his memories, they were still his. He would always remember the adoration of his people, would always remember the torture of seeing them run in fear from what he became. Over time, he accepted his role in the Elders' scheme. "The victim curses the killer, not the blade that cuts him." Someone, he couldn't remember who, told him that, long ago. Now, he was the Elders' deadliest blade. No one the Elders deemed unworthy lived far beyond his arrival. Somewhere, deep within his mind, he still was the handsome man that aspired to one day unite his shattered people and lead them to greatness.
Sniffing the cool air, he tilted his head. "Something's wrong. These two, thier scents are almost identical." He silently leapt into a tree, listening for the sounds of someone's approach. "This will go badly for the others. Yes."
Across the forest, Crono stopped and drew his sword. He had pursued his other after finding Magus, his longtime ally, slain in the Royal Gardens. His fiancÃ© had told him that his other had emerged from his coccoon and killed Magus, fleeing into the woods, promising death to them all. He ran after him in a vengeance-fueled rage, but time and distance had given him a chance to think about the situation, and the way it didn't seem to come together. His other had emerged merely to kill the Magus? Why was Magus there in the first place? Why didn't Marle come with him? Then an image flashed in his mind. Marle, she was holding her crossbow when he arrived. It appeared that Magus had died of three separate puncture wounds. His other, from what he's seen, used only bladed weapons and powerful magic. Yet Magus had died of puncture wounds.
"Oh shit, she killed him." Crono said breathlessly. A faint rustling drew him out of his reverie. Crono lept aside as a massive warhammer smashed the tree next to him to splinters.
"Thothgor find you first, little man." The massive black cyclops growled, swinging with both hammers. Crono barely dodged them again, leaping back from thier crossing arcs.
"Who are you? What are you?" Crono demanded, sending a jagged bolt of lightning from the tip of his sword into Thothgor. "What do you want?"
Thothgor advanced again, shrugging off the lightning like rain. "Little man talk too much." This time, his swing was blocked by Crono, the Rainbow cutting the warhammer's head clean off. Thothgor paused his advance and looked at his ruined weapon. "Thothgor hammer!" Looking back to Crono, Thothgor's eye narrowed. "Little man good."
"I'm better." Crono replied, leaping. He sailed into Thothgor, the Rainbow again meeting one of Thothgor's warhammers. With a loud crack, the Rainbow snapped in half. Crono ducked under Thothgor's counter attack and landed a leaping kick to his large eye. Thothgor roared with pain and staggered back a few steps, giving Crono enough space to thrust his hands out and channel more lightning than ever before through them. The air smelled of ozone as the lightning radiated out, igniting several trees around Crono. Thothgor went to one knee, bellowing. Focusing through the pain, he hurled his warhammer at Crono. Crono tried to twist away, but it was too fast. The hammer struck his right shoulder, audibly crushing the socket. Crono cried out in pain, his lightning spell interrupted. Thothgor was on his feet in a flash, crossing the distance between them in two long strides. Two of his hands came together in a powerful uppercut, sending Crono flying into a tree. Thothgor pressed his attack, landing four seperate punches to Crono's face and body, sending him to the ground in a heap.
"Thothgor better now! Thothgor better than Da-ha-ka. Thothgor better than Zeve-, than Xee-, better than creepy lady." He picked up the shorn warhammer handle and thrust it into the ground. Lifting Crono's limp body above his head, "Thothgor better than everyone!" he bellowed, preparing to impale Crono on his makeshift spear. He never expected the broken end of the Rainbow to be thrust into his eye. He never expected Crono to spring off his shoulders and launch his Luminaire spell from the air. He didn't expect the spear to be so painful as he fell onto it. Then again, Crono never expected the massive cyclops to stand again and pull both the end of his sword and the spear from his body and smile, blood dripping off his chin. In a flash, the broken Rainbow arced in, and blood fountained. Thothgor lurched foreward, his eye wide as he tried to stop his now gushing throat with two hands and reaching for Crono with the others. Again the Rainbow arced, and more blood sprayed, this time Thothgor fell and didn't rise again, his head rolling to a stop at Crono's feet. Crono tenderly probed his shoulder.
"That's never going to heal right." He tried to move it again, but without the rushing adrenaline, he felt every nerve scream. Wincing in pain, the gripped the Rainbow in his left hand and turned back to the Castle. He had to confront Marle about this.
From his place in the tree, Ahzi Dahaka could hear the battle, could smell the burning trees and Thothgor's blood. He shook his head slowly.
"The weaker one of them defeated the cyclops alone. We have underestimated them." His ears pricked as he heard something off in the distance, away from the first battle. "Xevea. She's found the other one." He landed noiselessly and began to stalk towards the coming conflict.
"Crono.....", The other Crono turned and drew his hooked sword. Thick mist began to roll in all around him.
"Crono......I've found you at last....." Again the voice called. The other Crono knew who it was. He knew she couldn't be here. Not again.
"I know what you're trying to do. She is dead." He said angrily, still searching for the source.
"Crono." The other Crono turned and his heart stopped. Schala stood before his, whole and healthy. The other Crono could even smell the perfume she wore. She was so real. She reached for him, and her sad face showed pain when he withdrew.
"No! You're dead. You have to be!" His voice wavered, seeing his love alive once again.
Her voice seemed oddly disembodied as she spoke. "The Elders have given me my life back. All you must do is stop this madness. Join with them, and we can be together again. Forever." Again she held out her hand, but this time the other Crono stepped foreward. Like lightning, the other Crono's sword flashed down, cutting cleanly through the clavicle and first ribs.
"You come to me only to murder me!" The light in her eyes went out as his sword came down again, cutting through her heart. As her lifeless body fell, it faded until it was merely another wisp of mist. It was more than he could bear, watching her die again. Releasing a scream of pure fury, he thrust his hands skyward, bolts of energy launching forth into the sky. At thier apex, they split into hundreds of shards and decended, obliterating everything around the other Crono for thirty yards. Standing calmly twenty feet away was a skeletal woman clad in a simple blue robe.
"You....." The other Crono growled, "have made a mistake."
Her voice seemed to come from all around him "I have done nothing but offer you the one thing you want, and you refused." She slowly raised her bony right hand and pointed at him, and a myriad of spells flew from her fingers. The other Crono dodged a glob that began to hiss and smoke when it hit the ground, only to be struck by a large chunk of ice. The ground began to quiver, and the animals that had died years before rose from the ground. The assembled peices resembled no native animal, but a conglomeration of fangs and spikes, tusks and claws. The largest one lunged, landing atop the other Crono and delivering what should have been a decapitating bite. The creature's fangy mouth crumbled on impact with the other Crono's helmet, bone chips raining down to the ground. The other Crono shook the thing off his back and retaliated. Spreading his arms wide, red beams swept out, igniting the undead animals in black flames, burning them away. Turning to Xevea, his sword began to glow a soft blue as he hurled it towards her like a massive boomerang. She merely faded away as the sword passed through her and returned to him. She gestured again, and vines sprang up from the ground, wrapping the other Crono in a crushing embrace. Shouting defiance, the other Crono burned the vines away in a white-hot inferno that began to spread out toward Xevea, forcing her to erect a protective shield. As the flames passed, Xevea dropped her shield and cast a new spell. The other Crono visibly slowed.
"Now you are mine, little mortal. My mastery of time is unmatched." Xevea gloated, floating just out of his reach. "Why do you refuse the one thing that will make you happy? Why are you so determined to remain unloved? The Elders are not lieing to you, Crono. Join with them and Schala is yours for eternity."
The other Crono began to speak, the effect of Xevea's spell forcing his words to be painfully slow. "My. Schala. Dead! Nothing you or the Elders do will ever bring her back!" The other Crono began to speak normally. "The Elders didn't tell you anything about me, did they?" To her shock, he began to speed up again. Then he began gaining speed, moving too fast for her to keep track. Then he was gone. Xevea looked around warily, on gaurd for whatever the other Crono was planning. A second passed. The another. Then five, ten, twenty. A full minute passed, and still no sign. Xevea had dropped her protective shield and began to move back into the forest. Then as suddenly as he left, he reappeared and brought his now glowing hands together. A massive beam sprang forth, burning her away, leaving only the rings she had worn. The other Crono scooped them up and heard her voice in his mind.
"How? How could you have been moving so fast?" she wailed.
"Time is mine, now. I went into the future and waited for you."
"Fool! Your thoughts are open. I know why you will not accept her back into your heart." The other Crono visibly reddened. His hand curled into a fist and began to glow.
"And you will never tell anyone, either." He opened his hand and only a wisp of steam remained. A wolf's howl snapped his head towards the edge of the clearing. Ahzi Dahaka stalked out of the forest, his quiet voice audible in the now silent forest.
"You are a worthy foe. You will die with honor." He said, drawing his twin gladius.
"It's too late for that," the other Crono shouted.
"We are not so different, you and I," Ahzi Dahaka continued, advancing. "We have both lost everything. All because of our masters."
The other Crono shook his head. "No, I have lost all because of your master!"
"I was like you once. My own pride was my downfall." Ahzi began thier duel with a quick downward swing of his left sword, followed by a right thrust. The other Crono blocked the first, and jumped back, out of reach.
The other Crono countered with a brutal forehand slash that was parried. Spinning with the momentum, he landed an elbow to the side of the wolfman's head. Reeling away, Ahzi spoke again.
"This will only end in sorrow, Crono. You're crusade to free your master is foolish." He attacked as he spoke, feigning a left thrust into a right. The other Crono managed to parry, but left himself open for Ahzi's kick to his chest. Now he reeled back.
"I have no master!" he shouted agrily. "The Elders will pay for what they've done to me!"
Ahzi came in fast, giving the other Crono little time to adjust. Every slash and thrust was blocked and parried, but the other Crono was hard pressed by the assault. After nearly a minute of defense, the other Crono roared and began his own attack. His own sword seemed to sing as it clashed with Ahzi's. Again and again, every time the other Crono attacked, Ahzi's gladius was there to defend it's owner. Ahzi ducked one of the other Crono's slashes and came back up with a hop-kick to his chin. The other Crono rolled over and sprang to his feet a few feet away.
"What have the Elders done to you, Crono?" Ahzi asked. "They trapped a great evil in the Underworld. One greater than Lavos. Your master."
The other Crono stopped in his tracks. "What?"
Ahzi allowed himself a slight smile. So, the beast never told him. "There are creatures in this universe that surpass all notions of evil and corruption. Your master is one of them. He sought to use this world for his own perverted pleasures. He would gladly allow you to destroy each and every one of this world's planes. When they were scoured of all life, he would leave this one in search of another. Another to ruin. My masters have successfully trapped him in the Underworld for countless millenia."
The other Crono glared. "How do I know any of this is true."
Ahzi frowned. "When you met him in the Underworld, he took two forms, one a golden-haired woman and the other a muscular dark-skinned man. Is this correct?"
The other Crono's eyes widened. As he nodded, he heard a third voice.
"Do not listen to him, Crono! He is only trying to confuse you! Listen to me, you must strike the Elders down and restore me!"
The other Crono sheathed his sword and stared into Ahzi Dahaka's eyes. After Ahzi has sheathed his own swords, he spoke. "You must tell me more about the being in the Underworld."
Ahzi Dahaka smiled and sheathed his gladius.
"Well, " Lucca said as she sat down on the grass a few feet from the Gate, "whoever sealed this sealed it right." Her head turned to Glenn. "We can't break it."
"Thou art certain?" he asked. Lucca nodded once. "Damn!" Glenn shouted. Such an outburst was rare from the swordsman. Lucca stood, and began to slowly pace in front of the sealed Gate.
"We can't beak it," she suddenly stopped. "But we can go around it."
"How?" Glenn gave her an odd look.
"Just you watch." She replied with a wink. She sat cross-legged in front of the Gate, closed her eyes, and began to chant. Glenn moved in for a closer look. Lucca's voice dropped to a whisper, but her chanting gained speed and intesity. The air around her was beginning to heat up. Glenn felt it slowly at first, but the heat intesified in time with Lucca's chants. The beads of sweat on her brow steamed off as her clothes began to smolder.
"Lucca! Lucca, please desist!" She ignored him and continued chanting, smoke billowing from her now. "Thou must stop! I beg thee!"
In response, Lucca burst into flame. Glenn reached for her, but had to withdraw his hands from the inferno that consumed her. He had to take several steps back, the heat was now unbearable. Smoke choked his lungs and stung his eyes. The smell of burning flesh entered his nostrils, and he dropped to his knees, sickened. Through it all, he heard Lucca, still chanting, seemingly unaffected. She then stood, still aflame, pointed a finger at the Gate and finally spoke:
"Deflagrate muri tempi et intervallia."
A new Gate, ringed in flames opened before them. Lucca's clothes appeared untouched. She turned to Glenn, still on his knees, and gave a quizzical look.
"You gonna sit there all day?" Sarcasm edged into her voice.
Glenn stood, coughing, and glared at her. "We must make haste to our comrades."
Lucca smiled at her friend. He wouldn't be baited into an argument. This time. "Let's get a move on!" She calmly walked into the flaming Gate and held out her hand. Glenn took her hand, and the Gate slammed shut behind him.
"So you mean to tell me that this man," Clotho paced like a professor as she spoke "This measly, insignifigant man is who you're marrying?" She waited for a response. "Damn, he's got you wrapped around his little finger! He doesn't even have a descent job." She waited again. "Associate Combat Instructor? What the hell does that mean? Sounds like 'living off the rich girlfriend' if you ask me. No, you didn't ask me, but that's not the point. The point is that you gotta ask yourself, 'What can Crono give me that I don't already have?'" Again, silence. "Love? Oh, of course! Love is the answer! OH puh-leez! If you want love, buy a damn dog. Don't waste your time thinking this lazy bastard is gonna change. If you weren't the princess, do you really think he'd be with you?" This time, she recoiled as though yelled at. "You really think so? Then I want you to tell me, since you've been engaged, how many times has he brought you flowers, or told you you look beautiful without asking, or told you he loved you just because?" She smiled like she'd just found a bag of gold. "Ah-ha! Just like I said earlier, he's not looking for a wife, he's looking for a new mother! Unfair? How?" She stopped pacing. "Not here, huh? Well, we'll just fix that!" Clotho turned to face the man staggering into the graveyard, and chukled despite herself.
"Just like a zombie!" She giggled as Crono approached. "Damn, boy! You look like you've been through a war!"
Crono stopped, heaving to catch his breath, leaning on his broken sword. "What have you done to her? What have you done to my wife?"
"Just a little borrowing of the bod. Don't worry, she'll be fine. Unless, of course your other decides to kill me." She waited for Crono to glare at her before she spoke again. "Oh, you didn't know? If your better self wants to get his pointless revenge, he will have to kill me now, seeing as I've taken a host body for a while." She ran her hands up and down her sides. "And what a body!"
"Get out! Now! Take me instead."
"Doesn't work that way, little fella. Once I've taken a host, I get to stay for a while. Then, once I've done what I have to do, I'll leave. Of course, good ol' Marle here kicks it, but I'm not gonna let that bum me out while I'm corporeal."
"I won't let her die. Not for you. Not for him." Crono spoke through gritted teeth as he stood. Clotho tilted her head back and sighed.
"Gimme a break, Crono. You have no say in this. Everything that must happen, will happen. You and I....wait, you cannot prevent what's already taken place."
Crono took a step closer. "You're forgetting, we've already prevented Lavos from destroying the world."
Clotho shook her head ruefully. "No, you didn't. The other you finished Lavos off. If he hadn't shown up, you'd never have known what was coming. We knew all about your others little tantrum. We've had this planned for aeons of aeons. Nothing can happen that we haven't accounted for."
"That's not true. Time flows like a river. It can't be dammed up and analyzed." Crono steeped closer again as he spoke.
"Don't give me that 'Time flows like a river, and history repeats' crap. WE have total control of this world, and all it's planes. WE know what, when, and how anything will happen! EVER!
"I'll bet you didn't see this coming." Came a voice behind her. Clotho ducked beneath the twin blades as they swept through where her neck should have been, then kicked behind her, connecting with someone and sending them flying. Clotho turned, then frowned. Ahzi Dahaka lay slumped against a massive tombstone, blood seeping from his mouth.
"Oh Ahzi, betraying me. Really. You honestly thought we hadn't seen this?" She brought her hand up and shook a finger at him. "Bad dog."
"I have already brought about your downfall, tyrant." Ahzi wheezed, his ribs peircing out through his back.
"Have you now?," She stood over him."and how is that?"
Ahzi's eyes fluttered. "I have released him," Clotho visibly paled. "Necron is free."
Clotho's face changed from deathly white to bright red in an instant. "You fool! That wasn't what was supposed to happen!"
"Nothing ever goes how it's planned, Clotho," Ahzi's breathing became short gasps. "You-must-be-stopped." His eyes grew wide. "For the Luma!" he shouted, and his head dropped back as life left him.
"Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit!!!" Clotho shouted. "Freed him. An incompetent and a traitor freed him. Dammit!"
"I guess things aren't quite so smooth after all." Crono growled. Clotho turned to him, her eyes sparking.
"Shut up," She snapped as she cast a spell on Crono, freezing him in a massive prison of ice. "Just shut up. I need to think." She began to pace again. "This is bad. Bad, but not unfixable." She stopped and glared. "Shut up Marle. You're not helping." She then perked up as she reached a resolution. "Lachesis, Atropos, you are needed here." Slowly the air shimmered as Clotho's bretheren arrived in the form of small, round lights hanging in the air.
"Necron is-" Clotho froze as the others cut her off.
Lachesis' voice seethed. "We know. He is free, and his champion comes to claim your life."
"He wouldn't." Clotho gaped. The others didn't respond. "He couldn't!" Still no response. "Talk, dammit! How can he kill this being without ruining everything?"
"The plan has changed," Atropos' faint, whispering voice was barely audible. "He is coming, and sacrifices must be made."
Clotho scowled at his bretheren. "How could you do this to me? Without me, you're nothing!"
"Things change." Was the only response he heard before they left.
"Man reaches, stumbles foreward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes.
Having stepped foreward, he may slip back, but only half a step,
never the full step back."
-John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic