Chrono Continuum Chapter 4
The End of Time
Rakin asked the question that was foremost on his mind. "How do you know my dad?" was his question to the old man in the dull, brown suit in front of him.
"How long's it been?" Gaspar asked nobody in particular. "Fifteen, twenty years? Ah, I met your father, and your mother, too, I'd wager. She was a pretty one, back when they were time traveling." He continued on without letting Rakin interrupt. "Yes, they'd just found Robo-" not letting Rakin ask who Robo was- "and so they were traveling in a group of four. Now the Conservation of Time theorem states that only three beings can time travel at the same time. If more go, they end up in the space-time coordinates of least resistance. Here," he added helpfully. He finally let Rakin talk.
"Who was Robo, and who are you, and why are we here, and what is he?" He pointed at Spekkio at this point and continued, "And what the-" he decided to tone down the language in front of the old man. "And what in the heck is going on here!?" Rakin was rankled to find that the old man seemed completely un-phased by the barrage of questions. He wanted answers, dammit!
The old man cleared his throat and answered each question, in the correct order. "Robo was a bipedal humanoid robot circa two thousand-three hundred A.D. He became a permanent ally of your father's during their traveling days.
"My name is Gaspar, and I am from the kingdom and era of Zeal, circa 12,000 B.C. I'm also known as the Guru of Time, to some, although I wish I had been given a title like 'Reason' or 'Life,' like the other two. 'Time' sounds rather unimpressive. I was transported and have remained here since an accident involving an interplanetary being known as Lavos.
"You are here because this is the End of Time, and there's nowhere further to go along the time stream, because as I said, this is the End. Time will never quite catch up with the End, and will therefore not end.
"He is Spekkio, self-proclaimed Master of War. While I'm not sure about that, I do know that he can bestow magic upon those he deems worthy. He followed me here. I don't know what the hell he is, although he usually looks like a red Nu, so don't ask me. He won't tell me. Talk to him when you can. He's useful.
"And someone is changing the past, thereby altering everyone's present and future. I believe that you, that young girl, and that woman are trying to stop these alterations. Obviously, Lucca must have given you all devices to keep your realities along your original Timelines. And you should really calm down, although (I must warn you) talking to Spekkio is not the way to do it." Rakin took a moment to absorb all this, and then he took a few more moments. He was still lost on much of it, and Gaspar looked as if he was about to launch into another lecture, but Rakin fumbled to beat him to the punch. He decided on the one subject he halfway understood.
"So, uh, Spekkio, you give out magic, huh? Could you give me some?" Gaspar seemed to deflate as the explanation he had prepared was stopped before it began. And it was such a good one, too, Rakin was sure the old man thought.
Now Spekkio took on a regal, important look, and began talking on his subject. "Yeah, sure, kid." Rakin frowned at being called a kid, but Spekkio moved on. "But first tell me something. Do I look weak or strong to you?" Rakin looked at the white fur and the big eyes, and made a sound that didn't really mean anything at all. He wouldn't want to insult someone who could give him abilities like the few Mystics he had met. Spekkio continued, not really seeming to have listened to the answer. "I see. Alright, here's the deal. The stronger I look, the stronger you are. So, if I look weak and cute, you're a green-horn. If I look like I could kick anyone's ass, that's exactly what you could do. Cool, huh?
"Anyway, I believe you might need some magic for this little mission. And I don't mean like pulling a rabbit out of your hat. Now then, just walk clockwise around my room three times, and-" he was cut off as Gaspar nudged him and gestured to the huge hole. Spekkio continued, frowning, "Oh, yeah, you three destroyed my room. You gonna pay me back or what?"
Rakin had some money on him, but he doubted that it would be useful here. He was about to ask Gaspar's suggestion, which Gaspar seemed bursting to give him, (talking to Spekkio apparently wasn't enough to satisfy his need for company) but Spekkio was already back to talking, and Rakin had to focus his attention back on the small creature, Gaspar now feeling a little dejected.
"Anyways, since you can't walk around my room, you can... climb the lamppost."
"No way!" Gaspar interjected. "It's already slightly damaged. If he climbs it, he might tip it over, and then we won't be able to tell where the edges of the platform are. Besides, the girl and woman might think they were dead or blind if they woke up in the dark."
"Don't worry those three grey hairs on your head," Spekkio assured the old man, whose hair was grey, but it was almost a full head (from what Rakin could see under the hat). "I'll use magic to keep it steady." With that, he pushed Gaspar aside, (Rakin didn't approve of that, but Gaspar didn't seem to care) Spekkio raise an inviting arm toward the post. Rakin walked up to it and looked up. It wasn't that high. He wondered if it had been this easy for his dad. Rakin jumped onto the pole, and immediately clung for dear life. He suddenly felt much heavier.
"Spekkio!" Gaspar cried. "Don't make him heavier! You'll break the post for sure." Spekkio simply concentrated and a green glow encompassed the pole, apparently keeping it intact. Rakin stayed there a moment longer, then slowly began to climb. It didn't take as long as he had thought, but he still didn't like it. He reached the top, and felt suddenly light as a feather. He slid down and landed gracefully on his feet. Gaspar smiled and he and Rakin looked to Spekkio expectantly. The bundle of fluff asked, "What?"
"Well, do I get magic or not?" the impatient teen asked the creature. Gaspar added a scolding look to the furry animal, but he seemed more proud of Rakin than mad at Spekkio. Spekkio looked to go into deep thought, and then seemed to be concentrating. After a moment, the two humans heard a low snoring sound coming from the thing. Rakin's eyes opened in surprise at Spekkio's inability to pay attention, but Gaspar merely nudged the little creature with his cane. It pushed Spekkio back, and he landed on his back, sputtering and snorting as he awoke. He looked up at Rakin, and asked, "Are you still here?"
"You never gave him magic," Gaspar seemed as impatient as Rakin.
"Oh. Okay, let me look into your eyes," Spekkio stood and looked into Rakin's green eyes. Green like his fathers' eyes. "Hmmmmmmm, not water like Blondie, hmmmmmmmm, not lightning like punk hair, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, not fire like four-eyes. Your magic isn't quite magic." Rakin didn't know what to make of this. He looked to Gaspar who shrugged. He looked back to Spekkio.
Spekkio himself looked... worried. "It seems less specific than magic, more like... personal power. It probably uses your own bodily energy to function, rather than that of the mind. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... Well, I can't give you magic." Rakin looked down, thinking Darn. "But, I can..." Spekkio seemed almost afraid, but set his expression determinedly. "I can bring out more fully what it is that you already have, whatever the hell that is. Alright, Ipso, Facto, Meeny, Moe, not-so-Magico," Spekkio chanted.
Rakin felt very dizzy for a moment, and nearly collapsed on the floor. The dizziness abated, and he found that he had collapsed. He got up. He felt different, but he was already adjusting to whatever it was he felt. He looked to thank Spekkio, and saw something strange. Spekkio stood the same as before, but Rakin could see the vague imprint of a human-sized, bug-eyed, red creature overlaid with the sight of Spekkio. Its appendages seemed to come directly out of its head, and it looked almost comical. Spekkio's voice came from both mouths, "What do you see?"
"I think I see the red Nu Gaspar mentioned, but that's not quite what you are. I can't even guess what you might be." Spekkio's eyes slowly widened as Rakin spoke, but said nothing.
Gaspar walked up to Rakin, turned the teen, and asked, "Do you see anything when you see me?" Rakin looked into the old man's eyes, and slowly began to see something.
"Melchior, Melchior...," the Guru was running down a hall, calling a familiar name. The running man was the same who stood before Rakin, only less wrinkled, more darkly haired, and with fine clothing.
After a few minutes of this, the young Gaspar burst into a door, and saw his bearded friend hammering on a shining object. "Melchior," Gaspar panted.
The man turned, sweat on his brow, and Mune turned with him. Gaspar could see Masa sitting in a corner, forming designs on the air and putting them on paper if he thought they were good enough. Melchior wiped at his forehead. "What's up, Gaspar? I'm a little busy."
"Melchior, you've gotta help me. The prince has sealed himself in my library."
"So?" asked Mune, not easily worried. Masa still ignored them all.
"Melchior, I heard him reciting the password to my private room," Gaspar continued urgently. "Among other things, my Chrono Triggers are in there!"
Melchior whipped off his goggles, and Mune went to rummage through the mess on one of many scrap-covered tables. He pulled out a rather simple-looking tool, and they dashed into the hallway, Masa just now noticing something had happened.
The End of Time
Rakin lost the vision, and explained what he had seen. Gaspar's mouth hung open the entire time, until he finally slapped the prince's shoulder and remarked, "Amazing! He could read my past! I wonder if he could do that for the future as well." Rakin smiled at the idea of what he could do if he learned to control his powers, when another scene came before his eyes.
"Do you know what Shadows are, Gaspar?" he asked.
Gaspar's smile faded. "Why, yes I've just come up with that term to describe... Did you have another vision?"
"Yes I saw you raving that 'No one escapes the shadows.' "
"Did I look any different? No? Well, it's either the near future or an alternate Timeline. Ah, well, let's wake Spekkio and see what he has to say." Rakin blinked at the abrupt change of subject.
Gaspar turned and nudged Spekkio, who awoke. He looked up, and Gaspar told him, "He can read the past accessing memories to remember details, some auras, and possibly the future or alternate timelines. Mostly divinative powers. Not much use in battle."
Spekkio nodded, as if unsure, and turned to the teen. Rakin waited for him to make a sarcastic remark. Suddenly, Spekkio's arm shot out, and a beam of light burst from his hand, directly towards Rakin.
Rakin reacted instinctively, putting both arms forward, and a bowl of yellow energy formed at his hands. Spekkio's beam rammed into the energy bowl, and Rakin held it there, keeping the energy at bay, until he couldn't keep it there for the pressure. Then he threw the surplus energy to his left, and he jumped to the right. The remnants of Spekkio's beam continued on, hitting nothing in particular. As Rakin landed, he rolled, drawing out his sword.
"What the hell are you doing!?" yelled Rakin as a ring of fire formed around one of Spekkio's hands, and electricity flowed over the other.
"Defend yourself," Spekkio replied quietly.
Rakin leapt forward and swung his sword directly into Spekkio's body. It met no resistance. He continued on to the other side, and was forced to roll again to end up facing Spekkio. He sheathed his sword. Damn. So much for winning with my main skills.
Spekkio threw the two elemental rings, now huge globes, at each of Rakin's shoulders. Rakin fell straight back before they reached him, seeing them pass directly in front of his face, landing on his back. The prince had gotten the breath knocked out of him, and was forced to lie on his back, trying to recover his breath. He could feel Spekkio powering up. He leaned his head back, searching for something. He smiled. Bingo. With just a moment of concentration, the energy ball that he had thrown off after his initial defense went hurtling towards Spekkio. There was an impact to the air as the energy slammed into Spekkio, and was released.
He finally looked forward and saw Gaspar staring open-mouthed, and Spekkio trying to get back up. Rakin wasn't about to let this victory go without a bit of theatrics. He jumped off of his back, onto his feet, and smoothed back his hair. It was surprisingly un-mussed.
Gaspar walked up to him and threw his arm around Rakin's shoulders. Rakin could feel the healing in that touch. "Well done, my lad. Did you know you could do that?"
"Do what?" Rakin really didn't know what he'd done.
"Create a shield, capture Spekkio's energy, and control it, and, well, beat the 'Master of War', of course!"
At this, Spekkio reentered the conversation. "Of course he didn't, Guru Geezer. If he had, he would have been much more stylish about it." Rakin decided to ignore that. Spekkio continued, "And I'd wager that he could do many more impressive things if he could figure out how to regulate his energy usage, rather than acting mostly on instinct." The thought blew Rakin's mind. How powerful could he become?
Gaspar turned to him. "You're powerful, son of Crono..."
"Rakin. My name's Rakin."
"Well, you're powerful, Rakin, but you've got a very long way to go before you are ready to take on some challenges that you'll later consider easy. Well, Timestream Traveler Rakin, what do you have to say?"
Rakin looked down at his stomach. "I'm really hungry. You got any food?"
Gaspar was about to burst into laughter, but a feminine voice sounded from nowhere in particular. "Hello? Rakin? Hellooo... Lucca, do you recognize this place?" Gaspar's eyes widened as he realized that the woman he'd seen in the Epoch had been Lucca.
"Oh, yeah, Corea. I know this place. And I know two people you definitely need to meet. It'll be magical."
Same Time Period
Rakin awoke. He had been completely filled with a cup full of water from a shining bucket last night. He looked over and saw his sister curled up into a ball, asleep. Her formerly shoulder-length brown hair was now in wild disarray. And it looked like it was going to stay that way. It was apparently a side effect of the power of lightning coursing through you. That was probably why their dad's hair never seemed to look like anything so much as a red crown. Looking at his sister, asleep, he realized that she was becoming very pretty. The wild hair somehow looked right on her, kind of like a birthright. As he thought that, an image came to him.
A woman with brown, spiky hair stood on a balcony of their castle (their normal castle) in a beautiful dress, looking out over the railing. It was obviously his sister, but where was he? If she was an adult, he should be the king. Maybe she was introducing him. As he waited, he soon heard, "Queen Corea, Ruler of Guardia!" It was chanted over and over until the crowd fell into disorganized cheering. She raised her hands for silence, and it seemed that the birds had even stopped. She spoke in a loud voice, that carried across the courtyard. She addressed them, "Dear people of Guardia, this day can be attributed to, and only to, my dear brother Rakin. If he were only here today, he would say-" She was cut off by a white flash, and the vision changed.
Rakin could see thunderclouds over Guardia, and people digging, and carrying logs, all to build a castle where Castle Guardia once should have stood. Muscular men with whips moved in between workers, snapping their whips without second thought. Rakin floated above it all, dreading it. A laugh began to sound behind him, growing second by second. Rakin slowly turned to face the one who found it all so funny, and came face to face with the most dreadful apparition he could have imagined. That wind he had imagined back on the Epoch, the wind that had been there all his life, was now almost a tangible force. It nearly blew him to unconsciousness , because his mind could barely contain the implications.
Floating above it all, as if a god, was one man.
He wore a robe of the finest material, with emblems that flashed with every strike of lightning. His eyes were deep green, just like his fathers' eyes had been. And his hair, in the exact same shade as that of his mother's, was slicked back, so as not to get in the way, put into a ponytail. The man had a scar along his face, but other than that, he was identical to the very last detail. Rakin screamed in horror as the wind blew the vision away from him. But he could still see that face in his sleep.
And he would see it in the mirror for a long time to come.
"What the hell!?"
-Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid
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