They walked. All of them. All in all, it was a rather impressive group, in
power and experience if not in numbers.
Gaspar, the Guru of Time, who had watched the entire history of his home
planet, from beginning to end, and had been forced to play a part in the
seemingly endless saga that was Time. Melchior, the Guru of Life, the
warrior and blacksmith, who couldn't stand by and watch history change
around him. Geddicus, the grey-haired mechanic, in his simple jumpsuit,
fighting to stop his bleak future from taking place. Glenn, the knight,
bound by honor and personal vendetta to destroy the Kingdom. Masa and Mune,
stripped of their immortality, afraid but brave in spite of it, willing to
throw their newly fragile lives into their cause. Wethreem, the creation of
the Kingdom, who chose morals over loyalty. Christina, the thief who had
discovered her past when she met a remarkable young man, and was determined
to repay him in full. Lucca, the genius who had devoted her life to machines
and theories, but understood that human life was far more important. Robo,
the humanitarian machine, created to destroy, but altruistic and brave in
spirit. Ayla, the prehistoric chief, devoted to her friends and to the
battle, unable to comprehend surrender. And Marle, grief-stricken wife,
mother, and Queen, beyond grief or revenge, but unwilling to give up for a
They were all, of course, acutely aware of the gaps in their party. Janus,
the powerful wizard who was so gentle in person, newly given freedom and
unsure what to do with it. His wife, Lucca, forced to betray her husband,
and unwilling to see him come to harm now that she was free. Dalton, the
villain who came back from the dead a changed man, and returned to death in
order to save a former enemy. Corea, a girl hardened by necessity and battle
into something she would never have previously recognized. Frog, the
tortured knight who died with forgiveness on his lips, and stayed in the
living world only to be imprisoned in his own blade. Magus, the cold wizard
who had once threatened all of humanity, but had now been lost in its
defense. Crono, the great hero, a king who had seen too many of his soldiers
die and had gone down fighting. And Rakin, the young prince thrust into a
world he had never expected with a power he hadn't understood, only to be
lost even as he was rising to the occasion.
Everyone was here for a different reason, but it was all part of the same
thing. They didn't want anybody to have to go through the battle again, to
fight and die against unbeatable odds. The missing warriors, and the serious
expressions on everyone's faces, were mute testament to the pain and loss of
battle. If anyone could be said to be heroes, it would be these. But none of
them believed that. They all saw themselves as people who were trying their
damnedest, and nothing more. Besides, they had all seen true bravery on the
faces of the lost, those who fought against impossible numbers, or the
faceless soldiers who fought with swords and guns against magic, or even
their own team members who had fallen in their defense. It was for them that
None of them harbored any illusions. Illusions were a luxury, having no
place in the minds of warriors, especially at this late a date. They knew
that some of their most powerful members had died already, and more of them
might yet. But they were willing to risk it. They all knew. It was worth it.
Same Time Period
Finally, Valiod thought. I've done it.
He was standing before the energy sphere, watching it as the energy flowed,
like ripples. What was it he felt... Pride? For so much of his life, so many
of his emotions had been incomplete, because he couldn't relate to the
pitiful humans around him. Even though he controlled their bodies, he had
never truly understood them. Love was something foreign. After all, who
could love something as worthless as a human? And his experience with pride
was also limited, because he'd always regarded his servants in the light
that if they didn't succeed, they weren't worth his time. If they did
succeed, good, that was what he expected. Beyond that, he didn't feel much
about their accomplishments.
Some emotions were easier. Hate. Anger. Lust, although he realized that was
more physical than the others. Disgust. He'd felt this his whole life,
because he'd always known his Lavoid blood was heavily mixed with inferior
human seed. But now he had a chance to make something powerful of his
blood-line again, and he had no intention of letting the Travelers even get
close to stopping him.
He placed his hand against the energy field and closed his eyes.
Same Time Period
They stopped, and looked outward from the edge of the crater. It was large,
with a diameter of about two miles according to Robo. In its exact center
was a large blue sphere, and they all knew that their destination was close.
The sphere was exceedingly large. Large enough to hold a Lavoid, Robo had
said. Christina shook her head in disbelief. No single creature could have
been that big. Even if it had been, how could the original seven Travelers
have beaten such a thing? They'd never volunteered more information than
necessary, apparently still bothered by the memory.
Suddenly, there was silence. Not just the silence of people not talking, but
absolute silence. The wind stopped blowing as if it had been a fan that was
suddenly turned off. Birds outside the blast radius, rebuilding their nests
blown apart by the force of the explosion, suddenly stopped moving, stopped
singing. Insects stopped buzzing back and forth through the sunlight. No
living thing moved for miles, all caught up in the expectant hush. The
Travelers found themselves holding their breath, unwilling to break the
silence. They knew that something big was about to happen, and looked toward
the energy sphere.
They weren't disappointed. The sphere suddenly exploded with light, every
color ever seen by human eyes, obscuring everything, making the sun seem
dark in comparison. Finally, the light cleared, but the silence didn't
dissipate. They all stared at what was left where the shield had been a
moment ago. Finally, Lucca shook her head in disbelief. "What the hell..."
It was huge. It would have dwarfed anything but a full palace, or the Red
Omen. There was a central point at ground level, around which row after row
of spikes protruded, making it look like nothing so much as a giant
pincushion. But something about it disturbed all present on a deep level,
whether they knew what it was or not, like a two-year old seeing a dead
animal for the first time. The child doesn't know what it is, but for once
the natural curiosity is suspended in the face of something they
instinctively know to avoid. But some of them did indeed know what it was.
Gaspar's face lost all color. "Lavos..." he whispered.
Christina couldn't suppress her sudden shudder. "That's... Lavos? I thought
it was dead."
Marle was shaking her head, as if dazed. "It is. At least it should still
be. We killed it."
"I sense life in the shell," Robo announced, "but it's not quite like Lavos.
However, power readings are too erratic to read with any certainty."
"Then it's not Lavos," Lucca announced. She paused to clear her throat, but
it didn't change her voice as she continued, "Lavos had a very singular
energy signature, and the energy readings were consistent, if off the scale
of our equipment."
"Then it's clear what we must do." Gedd drew in a deep breath. "The spawn
must be in that shell."
Ayla nodded. "Then we go in, yes?"
Without another word, they descended.
Same Time Period
They stopped again, right in front of the huge shell. It made even the most
experienced of them feel like ants about to attack a mountain, but none of
them even thought of turning around. It sat flatly on the hard ground, as if
daring them to try to move it. The central point was a dark hole, but it was
twenty feet up in the air, too high for any of them to reach. "Damn," Lucca
commented. "We could reach the hole last time. It must have been partially
submerged in the earth last time. We're going to have to climb up one by
one. Trust me when I say we have very little chance of breaking a hole
through on our own."
They were about to start forward, but they stopped at a sudden sound.
Laughter. It was quiet, barely there, but to the highly trained senses of
the Travelers, it was an obvious prelude to danger. Wordlessly, they all
drew their various weapons. There was an unfamiliar sound as Gedd summoned
his armor, but it was mostly the sound of steel sliding against leather, or
projectile weapons being prepared. They all looked up at the hole above
them, knowing that the shell was too wide to be snuck around without being
There was no more sound. They all waited tensely, and none of them flinched
when a form seemed to materialize from the darkness of the hole. It was
wearing a black cloak that effectively obscured all features, with the
exception that they could tell it was a man. Next to it, but not behind it,
appeared two more figures, also clad in black cloaks, one a man and one a
woman, shorter than the two men.
Their footsteps made no sound as they walked towards the edge of the hole.
However, they didn't stop, or even hesitate, once they reached the edge,
instead dropping without fear. As they fell, their cloaks flapped about
them, but only enough to reveal flashes of different clothing. Purple,
black, and blue, one color for each of them. They landed wordlessly,
effortlessly, their legs bending at just the right time to absorb the impact
of the fall with nearly inhuman strength, and they didn't even stumble as
they hit the cold stone. Once firmly on the ground, they stood straight and
simply stared at the Travelers. They made no moves, threatening or not.
The Travelers didn't take their eyes off the three figures as a voice
sounded from the hole above. They didn't look. They knew they wouldn't have
seen the speaker anyway. The voice was quiet, but strong and mocking.
"Welcome. Fitting, isn't it, to have the final battle between us here, in
the shell of my father? I do enjoy irony."
"Valiod," Glenn whispered, incredulous. "Thou art alive..."
A quiet chuckle. "Sorry to disappoint you, little knight. But I'm not very
easy to kill. Even by a conniving queen wannabe. Even by you."
"Come out here," Wethreem ordered. "Face us, and defend yourself."
"Sorry, lab rat," Valiod whispered back. "I'm rather busy. My children are
going to wake up soon, and I wouldn't miss that for the world. Or the
Universe, for that matter. No, you're not important enough. I don't need to
deal with you personally. That's what I have servants for."
"Come on," Christina challenged. "We've defeated all of your Hellbound, not
to mention your demons, and Gaston. We've gotten through the Red Omen.
Parsa's dead. You really think a couple of bodyguards are going to stop us
Valiod laughed, as if she'd said something genuinely humorous. "No. I don't
expect a couple of bodyguards to hold you off. Besides, if I'd thought that,
I would have called for serious numbers from the Kingdom. No, simple
bodyguards would be no match for any of you, especially considering your
numbers. But I doubt you can defeat these three. Would you like to see whom
you're fighting, little girl?"
"These three can't scare us," Christina responded.
In response, all three forms removed the hoods of their cloaks. Their eyes
stared unflinchingly at the Travelers, and the Travelers stared back. There
was a sudden report as Marle's crossbow hit the stone at her feet. Her eyes
were teary. "No..."
The three figures stared forth, unflinching. The woman-no, a girl, about
fifteen-kept her gloved hands near her belt, where two thick rods were
fastened. Her blue eyes were devoid of expression, and the spikes of her
brown hair were matted and flat. To her side, the red-eyed man slowly took
out a rod which extended into a scythe as his blue hair flowed in the
breeze. To his other side, the second man drew his sword, which flashed and
glinted dozens of colors in the sunlight. His armor was black, and spiked
like his red hair. His face was scarred, though it had survived hundreds of
battles unscathed. His green eyes showed no recognition of any of the
Travelers. But they showed plenty of recognition for him, and the two who
stood beside him.
>From inside the shell of his dead father, Valiod laughed.
-Luke Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back
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